Author : C.T. Jackman

The late-evening wind wasn’t the only thing that threatened to pull Derek from the building’s roof. A car screamed through the air in front of him, forcing the bounty hunter to stagger his stance for balance and spin his arms, even almost dropping his sub-machine gun as he tried to maintain his position on the roof’s raised edge. He wasn’t in any serious danger; if he had fallen, he would’ve been able to activate his jump-pack and prevent any serious injury, but doing so would blow his cover wide open.

“There’s lanes for a reason!” he shouted at the departing vehicle, but it paid him no heed. It continued to fly in the space between its counterparts in the air and those lesser machines confined the ground, eventually disappearing out of sight as it recklessly turned a corner.

“That was smooth,” his robot companion commented below him. Benny’s voice was the perfect imitation of a human’s, but Derek could still tell the difference between a voice-box and vocal cords.

“Can it, bucket-brain.”

“So we’re resorting to slurs now, are we? Professional. I hope your wild display of ineptitude didn’t draw the attention of our target.”

Derek ignored the comment and pushed a button on the side of his helmet to zoom in on the man they were after. The marauding arms dealer was still dining at a table outside the restaurant with his two alien clients, and they gave no indication that any of them had witnessed a hover-craft almost tearing Derek from his perch.

The contract stated that their target was to be taken dead or alive, and anything else was secondary. The Inter-Galactic Justice Commission put Mr. Bradford’s warrant out three months ago, and Derek and Benny quickly jumped at the opportunity.

The bounty hunter dropped back below the edge of the roof and raised his face mask so Benny could look him in the eyes. He knew the robot appreciated being able to analyze his facial micro expressions and compare them to the audible fluctuations in his voice. Benny claimed that it was good practice for when they had to determine the truth in a target’s words.

“I still say we should have brought a rifle so we could pick him off from here,” Derek said.

“I already told you. I calculated that the likelihood of them utilizing personal energy shields is roughly 70.28%.”

“And such shields are designed to deflect a shot made from this distance, I know, I know. That’s why we have these,” the bounty hunter said, and raised his sub-machine gun.

“Correct. We’ve tracked him across three different star systems; I think you can handle making the leap across a street.”

“Maybe. Why don’t we find out? I’m tired of waiting; let’s go take this bastard out before he completes the deal and hands over the weapons.”

A chuckle emitted from Benny’s voice box. “Derek, after all these years, are you beginning to fancy yourself a hero?” it asked. The robot barely registered the gleam in the corner of the human’s eye before the helmet’s face mask slid down and Benny was looking at its own reflection.

“I consider it more of a civic duty,” Derek said, double checking the scope on his gun one last time. “I am licensed, after all.”

“Would that really affect whether or not you would continue to pursue this line of work?”

Derek thought for a moment, then powered up his jump-pack. “No,” he said, his smile hidden. “It’s too much fun.”

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