Fair warning, the next series already has the same word count as The Centurion's Woman, but is maybe only at a third of it written right now. There will be other one-off novels to tide everyone over, promise. Hope your weekend is awesome!
1. Dorian, aka: Esquire
A collected target shall be delivered in the condition yielding the highest pay out, whenever possible.
A collected target shall be delivered within the shortest possible time period.
A target collected fairly by a competitor shall not be interfered with.
A target fairly collected and fairly lost by a competitor is considered as Bounty open.
Contracts not honored by the agreed amount shall have that amount, or equivalent assets, removed from the client as required.
Trust, once contracted, shall be honored until the end of the arrangement, unless proven beyond doubt as misplaced prior the agreement’s end.
Dorian didn’t like the squint-eyed male in the recording. He turned off the visual and listened to the nasal voice drone through the usual list of requirements for run-away cases. Please return the target unharmed. Please find them quickly. Please bring them back safely, we miss them so.
Such loving, caring families left behind; their loved one in mortal danger far from home. It would be a lot more touching if they weren’t hiring Bounty Hunters to find their ‘missing’.
The readout listed off the last known locations, how much the target was worth, and any vital statistics and known health issues. Dorian called up the attached photo and memorized it before switching off the monitor and turning in to his bunk for some much needed sleep. His last job had paid well and he had no need to work for the next while if he chose not to. His ship needed some repairs and upgrades as well.
The Madak, Pollair and Driveen systems all had quality docks and fair contacts for new equipment, but only Madak had 14 suspected ‘missing’ targets. He had charted in the course to the Madak system before reviewing the targets, and then spent three hours memorizing each face in the event that any of them happened to cross his path during his short stay. The so-called missing targets were usually easy money. The short hunts also stopped him from getting bored during downtime. Two days of travel from where he was to Madak, then another day to secure a repair dock and six to seven days of repairs – including a possible quick bounty on one of the missing – then he would be fully prepared for his next job. He’d confirmed to his next employer that he would make contact within a month so he had two weeks to spare, give or take a day. Maybe he’d hang around and pick up more than one missing target.
Repairs and upgrades were complete. Dorian moved his ship out of the repair dock and over to the spot he’d rented in the regular docks. His expenses had been more than expected, but the upgrades far surpassed what he had been planning on getting, so the slight increase in cost was acceptable. He set the security and left the ship unlocked when he went out for his evening meal.
Unlike most of his competition, Dorian preferred the finer things in life. Crime lords and general scum usually had a lot more targets and so seemed to have a lot more money. That was where most Bounty Hunters made their living. Dorian had learned early in his career that the so-called upper classes of societies had more money than the lower classes did, and that level was where the crime lords’ bosses lived. Most of the small percentage of truly powerful people above the upper classes had Dorian’s personal contact information. To most of their direct employees he was known only as Esquire, a nightmare shadow that had crossed over into waking. To the rest of the population ‘Esquire’ was a name they’d heard a couple of times a few years ago, and most of them thought he was dead. A couple of them had claimed killing him. His favorite story was the one where he drowned, that one always made him laugh.
Because he did prefer better, the establishment he went to that evening put him in a foul enough mood to appear as if he’d chosen to be there. The beverages were cheap and the food (if you could call it that) might have been worth paying for if it had actually had something resembling a pleasant flavor. The serving staff was comprised of half a dozen different species that wore varying stages of undress. The standard patrons paid more to clean the servers than they did for the food, though, so only one server still seemed to care what portion of what body part happened to be resting on or in what they were serving.
The one was a young female of a similar species type as Dorian: aquatic, reptilian humanoid. Her scales were becoming dull from the poor living conditions she was in, and her gills, fins and nearly translucent webbing looked raw and irritated. Overall, she still appeared in recoverable condition. The serving staff here called her Raja, but Dorian knew her real name would have been Alua Rhe’t, if spoken in the common tongue. Undersea languages translated poorly in gas atmospheres.
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.