DeLarge

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Fistful of Credits: Body Snatcher

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Fistful of Credits: Body Snatcher

 

Bounty Hunters:

DeLarge as Garrick Flynt

Darth Vader as Xionis Vasimo Zulas

 

Outlaw:

Orcus as Arrien aka 'Leech'

 

ICARUS Headquarters, Burst Nebula

 

"Garrick Flynt," said Garrick to the strange, cold-eyed Bounty Hunter who had taken him up on his offer, extending his hand for a handshake. The Hunter looked at his hand, almost emotionless in his reaction, and ignored it.
 
"Xionis Vasimo Zulas," the Hunter replied, turning on his heel and walking swiftly away from the Bounty Board, "We should depart now if we are to catch the Leech and his host."
 
"Oh good, you're one of those Hunters," said Garrick, rolling his eyes and following Xionis, "Let me guess...dad was distant and unloving and mom was a simulant? No, I've got it - you've got a computer instead of a brain, right? I worked with a guy like that once, no sense of humour at all, but ruthlessly efficient."
 
"Do you intend to continue this incessant talking, Terran, or will we be attempting to complete this assignment quickly and decisively?" snapped Xionis, and Garrick held his hands up in a gesture of mock defensiveness.
 
"Well, in the spirit of speed and decisiveness, we should get to my ship and head towards Elrich so we can get this over with as soon as possible," said Garrick, gesturing in the direction of Felicity's spot in the loading bay. Xionis stopped in his tracks and turned on his heel to face Garrick.
 
"I believe we would be better served by taking my ship. Ter'Rasth is equipped with Advent technology, and tracking this Outlaw will be far easier if I have access to my onboard AIs," he said, a vague air of smugness in his tone.
 
"Oh yeah? And what kind of ship is Ter'Rasth?"
 
"A heavy corvette class that I have personally upgraded. I guarantee that it will be more effective in this mission than whatever vehicle you may have access to."
 
"A heavy corvette class? My apologies, Xionis, I was under the bizarre impression that you actually wanted to catch this Outlaw, but that must be my mistake."
 
"What do you mean?" asked Xionis, raising an eyebrow.
 
"Well this thing's a Vemmen, a slimy little brain-worm that's managed to latch itself onto an Ayenean, one of those big golem things you hear about in school. The two constituent parts are a frankly cowardly criminal, and a big stupid animal, and both of those parts are likely to run and disappear into the wind if they see a goddamned dreadnought of a battle cruiser coming at them. I have a five-man starship that's more than capable of getting us to the Alphonse Train Junction in one piece."
 
"That may be true," replied Xionis, realising that he had overlooked the drawbacks of having such an imposing means of transport at his disposal, "But my AIs will be invaluable in this situation..."
 
"Flick could kick your AIs up and down this galaxy," said Garrick dismissively, "But if you're that desperate, bring 'em. Felicity's got an external interface for foreign AIs, they can come along for the ride if you can't bear to be without them. Just meet me at loading bay G-87d4 in thirty and we can head out."
 
"Very well," replied Xionis, "But if this decision hinders our ability to capture our Bounty, I will hold you personally responsible, Garrick Flynt."
 
"If I had a credit for every time I've heard that...well, I'd probably still be broke. Catch you on the flip, Johnny Five!" he broke away from his fellow Hunter and headed back towards Felicity.
 
As soon as he could see that he was out of Xionis' presumably-enhanced earshot, he punched a few digits on his wristpad and called through to Flick.
 
"Did you get it? Are we rich?" she asked, the sarcasm practically dripping from her words.
 
"That's...complicated. Listen, Flick, they've got me teamed up with an Advent for the next Bounty..."
 
"Did you give him a demeaning nickname yet?" interrupted Flick.
 
"I might have called him Johnny Five," replied Garrick, the tiniest shred of guilt in his voice.
 
"And you wonder why you have no friends."
 
"I have friends!"
 
"Women that you slept with once and then never called again don't count, Garrick."
 
"Alright, I have one friend. That's not really the point, Flick - I need some information on this guy, to see who I'm working with. His name's Xionis Vasimo Zulas, can you pull up some details for me?"
 
"Did you ever think about just talking to the guy?"
 
"Flick, just do it ok?" snapped Garrick, and all the humanity drained out of Flick's voice as she responded.
 
"Fetching records."
 
And now I've got to deal with a pissed-off AI. This day is going from bad to worse.
 
---
 
"This guy's kind of a badass," said Garrick, flicking through the holographic records hovering in the air in front of him in Felicity's console room, "Ex-PsiOps, that's the blackest of ops. His rep seems to be pretty solid, good feedback from ICARUS personnel. A few instances of partners dying, but who hasn't had that happen?"
 
"Wouldn't your time be better spent working out how to track down this...'Leech', rather than the guy you're supposed to be working with?" asked Flick, still a little grumpy from their earlier interaction.
 
"There'll be time for that on the way to Elrich. I'd like to get a handle on this guy while I can..."
 
He was interrupted by a short, sharp alarm blaring out throughout the ship.
 
"Registered Bounty Hunter Xionis Vasimo Zulas, ID number 64977-xxv approaching," said Flick, the holographic representation of her on the ship's dash adding a sarcastic smile to the message. Garrick rolled his eyes and waved his hand to shut down Xionis' records, even though he was sure Xionis had done the same to him. He punched the cargo bay release button on the console and headed out of the back of the ship to meet Xionis.
 
"Welcome to Felicity!" Garrick exclaimed with his arms oustretched, "Let's go get us a Body Snatcher!"
 
"My ship has superior weapons capabilities," sneered Xionis as he walked past Garrick up the boarding ramp and into the console room, "And this ship is oversized for a five-man vessel."
 

 

"Yeah, this is gonna be fun," sighed Garrick, following the Advent Bounty Hunter into the bowels of the ship.
Edited by DeLarge
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Xionis groaned inwardly as he entered Garrick's ship the Felicity and followed him to the bridge. Of all people to work with, he had to be stuck with this very stubborn Terran. His foot hit an empty bottle as he entered the small bridge area.

Not to mention messy.

"You can upload you AI there but you will only have limited access" He said flatly as he took a seat and prepared the ship for departure.

Xionis looked at the console and sat down in the chair, staring at the console quizzically.

"Is he trying to access it with his mind?" The ship's AI "Flick" asked softly to Garrick who just shrugged.

"I don't know. He will figure it out eventually..." He paused as Xionis hands flew over the console. Suddenly the ships systems went down and back up again several times

"Garrick he is in the mainframe and my core!" Flick said confused. "He bypassed my defenses"

The ship's systems came back on and remained on as Garrick stopped up grabbing Xionis by the shoulder. "What the hell are you doing?!"

Xionis tiled his head puzzled. "Uploading Kishal in sync with Flick and fixing a few glitches in your ship's systems. I have increased it by thirteen percent"

"Sorry he doesn't know how to ask permission first. He doesn't have any friends" Mishal blinked into existence on the console in front of Garrick who looked at Flint for verification. 

"Sounds like someone else I know" Flint ran a diagnostics then whistled. "He knows how to please me more then you Garrick."

Garrick sat down grumbling about how he was getting around to it and asked Flick to get them cleared for launch as Xionis went back to the console. "Kishal, i need every record, account, and research file that has to do with Leech and the two races that comprise our target."

Kishal nodded then blinked out of view. The screens in front of Xionis flared colors as images and text logs flashed across them and Xionis' retinas.

He continued his work as the ship jolted free of its moorings and Garrick set a course for their destination. Silence stretched on between them as Garrick activated the warp drive bringing them five minutes from their destination, the Alphonse Train Junction. 

Xionis quickly pulled up the schematics for the rundown station and downloaded him to his implants. "What is the plan?"

"Well first we find the target. Start by asking around and narrowing down from there"

"If I can get access to the station itself I can get a record of what trains it has crashed and the upcoming schedule. Try to see which one he is more prone to targeting. That and I can pull their records of Leech. But what is the plan?"

"I just told you" Garrick replied shortly. "Do I need to make it even more simple?'

"The plan for engaging the target. I suggest disabling the limbs making the parasite leave the body due to its condition."

"How about we cross that bridge when we get there Johnny Five?" 

Xionis finished what he was doing and turned to face Garrick as Flick granted them access to dock. "On the fly thinking is good but not having a plan causes things to turn for the worse."

"And the more you plan the less likely the situation is to turn out the way you planned for." Garrick replied smugly.

"Lack of plans also gets ICARUS satellites destroyed and only earns you two thousand five hundred credits." He threw back. Flick snickered at the remark causing Garrick to grit his teeth.

"Shut it Flick....so you pulled up my records huh?" His voice held an underlying tone of warning.

"Only to see what kind of person you are. From the records you are brash stubborn and some what reckless. But you are trustworthy and that is what matters. It just so happens that entry was the most recent" Xionis commented, his demeanor still neutral. "You have no fear of me shooting you in the back, my honor would not stand for it"

"Well thats good to know" Garrick stood up as a loud grating echoed throughout the ship meaning the age old docking clamps and boarding tube were moving into position.

Within moments both hunters were outfitted and standing at the airlock before it hissed open allowing them to make their way through the rusted metal pipe then through the station to the main infrastructure. The smell of rust and decay was heavy on the air and the area matched its smell causing Xionis to wrinkle his nose as the flash suppressors slide out hiding his eyes. The people also matched their rundown home, ragged clothing and a few of them could be smelled a distance away.

"Your not a germaphobe are you Johnny?" Garrick commented with a laugh.

"I didn't read of any epidemics going here in any report" Xionis reply caused Garrick to stop laughing and just shake his head in defeat. 

"Come on lets get to work"

They interrogated people in pairs. One talking while the other was standing guard watching for any sign of their target or something out of the ordinary. Hours passed before they stopped at a shabby pub  to grab a drink.

"We are no closer to finding our prey" Xionis commented flatly.

Garrick took a sip of his drink. "Well it might help if you didn't completely interrogate and mind **** each person you talked to"

Xionis shook his head. "I was not the one hitting on every female we passed, or using the questions as a way to get inside"

Garrick feigned hurt. "I was not, I have been making sure none of them had any memories of Leech that they had repressed without knowing"

"So the forty five minutes you spent with the green skinned Hinrate female was purely therapeutical?"

Garrick nodded holding his hand above his heart. "The girl just didn't want to be alone. I felt it my duty to help her"

Silence hung between them before Xionis bust out laughing catching Garrick off guard. "You are by far the most interesting Terran I have ever met." He finished up his drink. "Shall we get back to work 'asking questions'?".

Garrick smirked. "Purely therapeutical of course" 

They exited the pub asking questions as they made their way down the lane. Xionis paused at a flickered info booth. "Give me a second" In less then a minute he had hacked his way into the entire station pulling logs, train schedules and reports on Leech. Unfortunately the station had nothing along the lines of surveillance systems adding one more obstacle in their path.

What we need is a stroke of luck

He sighed as he exited the system. They were getting nowhere fast and no one really seemed to be in the mood for talking. No answers, no location, no target

And no pay

Edited by Allamorph

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"Nothing," sighed Xionis as he moved away from the console, "There are no surveillance feeds available, it appears we have reached another dead end."

"Dammit," groaned Garrick, tilting his head back. He really needed this payday, and he had been hoping for a simple cut-and-shut Bounty; this one was becoming far more of a headache than he had really prepared himself for. He turned away from Xionis in a slow circle, running his hands through his hair as he began pacing up and down, his frustration increasingly obvious in his movements.

"We must be missing something here," he said, looking around the Train Junction in a vain attempt to find something that might help them, "Our guy is a regular here, he has a penchant for hijacking trains and then crashing them. He was last spotted here, yet nobody seems to have any recollection of seeing a big-ass Ayenean and there are no security feeds available."

"Perhaps he was never here," suggested Xionis, frustration as evident in his voice as in Garrick's movements, "It's possible the witness was mistaken, they could have seen another creature that looked like an Ayenean and assumed that it was him?"

"It's possible, but from what I know about Ayeneans, they're pretty recognisable, particularly in a place like this. It's more like..." he trailed off as his eyes locked onto something high on the wall of the station they had been walking past.

"Flynt?" said Xionis, puzzled. Garrick held a finger up, his gaze never wavering from the spot on the wall, and he slowly began to approach the spot he was staring at, craning his neck to get a closer look. After a moment, a grin crept onto his face, and he gestured towards a spot on the wall.

"There," he said excitedly, and Xionis took a closer look.

"I don't see anything," the Advent replied, flicking through a number of different vision types as he spoke, attempting to pick up any trace of activity from the area Garrick was pointing to.

"Exactly," said Garrick, "There's nothing there, but there used to be. See the discoloration of the brickwork? And those three little holes in the centre of the patch? There used to be a security camera here, but someone took it down."

"You think the Ayenean did it?"

"He's covering his tracks," replied Garrick, "Nobody around here claims to have seen him, but I'll bet that's because the people who did see him are either too scared or, worst case scenario, too dead to tell us."

"That's a big assumption to make. We have no way of telling what they've seen if they are lying, and if they do turn out to be dead then we still won't be able to find the target."

"It's an assumption based on what I know for a fact," said Garrick, "A place like this, people will do anything for a few credits. Did you notice how not a single person in any of the places we've been to even asked for money in return for information, whether they have it or not?"

"That is odd," said Xionis, a little puzzled.

"Which means either the scuzzy criminal underworld has suddenly become a little more classy, or they're so scared of something that they'll even overlook the opportunity to make a few credits. I don't know about you, but my money's on the latter option."

"I suppose there's not much scarier than an angry golem made of metal and stone threatening you."

"Exactly."

"But this doesn't really help us, Flynt," said Xionis, "We're still no closer to actually finding the Outlaw, even if he did take the security cameras we can't access the feed."

"Not through a public terminal, no," replied Garrick, a little smugly, "Because these cameras are, or were at least, on a private circuit. See, the cables go straight into the wall of the station, not into the ground like the rest of the systems in this place. So all we have to do is ask the Transport Officials to take a look at the security footage and we'll be golden."

"Your faith in your own assumptions is admirable, Flynt," said Xionis with the tiniest of smiles, "But since we have no other leads to follow, we may as well try."

---

A few minutes later, they arrived at the Alphonse Security office, a small cubicle with a glass window, inside which a bored-looking old Doraxian in a dark grey uniform was tapping idly at a holo-screen, his black eyes glazed over as he stared into the distance.

Xionis took a step towards the cubicle, but Garrick placed a hand on his chest, holding him back.

"Steady on, Johnny Five," he said, "We don't want to melt this old guy's brain. Let me handle this." Garrick cracked his knuckles and stepped forward, knocking smartly on the glass and smiling as the Doraxian looked up at him, his movements slow and languid.

"Can I help you?" he croaked, boredom etching every word that groaned through his lips.

"Hi there," said Garrick, "Me and my associate need your help. There's a dangerous criminal on the loose who was last spotted in this very Train Junction, and we were wondering if we could take a quick look at your security feed to try and find this guy."

"Only official personnel and law enforcement officers have the clearance to look at our security feeds. Goodbye," the Doraxian mumbled, slowly turning back to his holo-screen as he spoke.

"I see," said Garrick, fishing in his pockets, "Well maybe you'd like to take a quick break, go for a drink on us and we'll say no more about it?" He slid what little physical money he had, a small credit chip and a few crumpled pieces of paper money across the desk towards the Doraxian, who turned to look at the paltry bribe. He slowly placed one of his upper arms down, his spindly hand closing around the money and slowly placing it into his own pocket.

"We don't accept bribes," he said, his droning voice beginning to grate, "Please step away from the glass."

"Come on, you old bastard!" snapped Garrick, angry at both the Doraxian and himself for that embarrassing show, "I can see the security feeds right behind you, just give me two minutes with them!" He gestured angrily to a small room out the back of the cubicle, with rows of security monitors showing live feeds of activity in the station, and a large metal door with the words 'Holding Cell' written on it in a number of different languages.

"We are now closed," moaned the Doraxian, and a heavy metal shutter slid down rapidly over the cubicle, blocking everything from Garrick's sight.

"That was successful," said Xionis dryly.

"Oh, this is a fine time for you to pick up sarcasm," replied Garrick, turning away from the cubicle, "Especially considering that I have a plan to get us one step closer to catching our Outlaw."

"I thought this was your plan?"

"No, this was my old plan. My new plan is much better."

"Your new plan, which took you literally six seconds to think of? And what might that be?"

"Well, I just got a glimpse inside the Security Office, and they have feeds from all over the inside of the station right there," he said, gesturing back towards the cubicle, "And on top of that, they've got a Holding Cell right next to the Security Office, where they hold criminals while they're waiting for the authorities to come and pick them up."

"I'm not sure I like where you're going with this."

"It's simple really," said Garrick with a smile, "One of just needs to get arrested."

Edited by Allamorph

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"Its simple really" Garrick said with a smile that made Xionis cringe on the inside. "One of us needs to get arrested..."

Xionis pondered the idea. "Actually that is..."

"Then we can get closer to the feeds come on" He made a move for the door, Xionis falling in step with him.

"We could..."

Again Garrick cut off him with way they could execute his six second plan. "We need to come up with some sort of minor offense"

Xionis tried to get another word in. "I agree but..."

"Maybe start a fight...or get really trashed in public....no no that wouldn't work"

Xionis tried six more times before giving up. He let out a sigh when Garrick motioned towards a pub. "Let's grab a drink"

The duo made their way inside Garrick ordering a drink at the bar then frowned as he turned his pockets inside out. "Damn that's right, that security guard took my last credits" He looked at Xionis expectantly who just shook his head and paid for them both a drink. 

Garrick took a seat at a rickety table making a face as he took a sip of the best of the house, a pale red liquid that tasted watered down and like eggs. "How is this top shelf"

Xionis shrugged. "Well you did bring us to the first cheap looking bar you saw"

"Hey it looked classy on the outside"

Xionis gestured to the run down interior with a sweep of his hand. "It looked the same on the outside"

"Hey I figured it was just a front, you know to limit the crowd' Garrick lied straight through his teeth causing Xionis to chuckle as he shook his head.

Garrick froze his eyes narrowing at Xionis studying him curiously causing Xionis to tilt his head.

"What?" He asked slightly confused.

"You laughed"

Xionis groaned then downed half of his glass. "Yes I am capable of laughing Garrick"

"Well I just thought..." He stopped as Xionis held up his hand silencing him.

"That I was a high and mighty self centered cold hearted ***** with a black and white view on the galaxy around me"

Garrick hesitated then shrugged. 'Yep pretty much. That kind of hit it on the nail"

"Your not the first. Though neither of us were thrilled about the team aspect."

Garrick nodded as he took another sip. "So how do you suppose we get inside that holding cell?"

Xionis leaned forward, motioning for Garrick to come in closer. When Garrick leaned in Xionis' hand shot out grabbing the back of the elbow of his free hand and pulled, the force forcing Garrick's arm to extend. As a reflex Garrick's fist curled right before smashing into Xionis' face busting the corner of his lip slightly and the half broken chair he was in to fall apart completely sending him to the floor. 

"What the hell man?" Garrick stood up amiss at Xionis' actions when the front doors flew open and two train station security guards both Doraxian came marching up.

"Put your hands on the table" 

Garrick replied with the order placing both hands on the table while one searched him then the other cuffed him. He frowned as one of them pulled out an id scanner then held it up to his face, the green lasers mapping his features to identify him.

The Doraxian holding the scanner frowned then tapped the device against his hand. "Come on you worthless piece of junk" He grew even more annoyed after the second scan, the rising temper showing on his face.

"What's wrong?" The Doraxion holding Garrick asked confused.

"The scanner's bugging out again. Keeps going static then saying his name is John Smith"

"Here try mine." The Doraxian tried his partner's scanner but had the same outcome. 

"Looks  like another glitch in the system. Gonna have to get a tech from planetside to come and fix it again" He handed the scanner back before helping Xionis up. "You okay sir?"

Xionis nodded. "How soon will the authorities from the planet be here so I can press charges?"

The Doraxian pulled out a holopad then began typing away. "Should be about a day or so. They will be able to id this guy since our system is buggy right now"

Xionis nodded as he watched them escort Garrick away before making his way towards the docking bay but turned around once the security guards were out of sight with Garrick.

In truth he was kind of impressed. For a six second plan its pretty solid and with a few tweaks it would be perfect. While breaking him out of jail would be the easiest way, Xionis really didn't feel like having to evade the security forces for the rest of their stay.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Xionis scouted around the building the housed the Security Station. Now with the planet officers safely bound and gagged where they shouldn't be found at least for the duration of his and Garrick's stay he can work on getting  Garrick out. After a few minutes he found what he was looking for, a service crawlspace for maintenance to the building. 

He quietly pried the grate off then crawled inside pulling the grate back on behind him. He moved through the crawlspaces until the came across the security office. After a few more minutes he found the power regulators.

Better be ready Garrick. 

He pulled the ones for the lights, the holding cells and the backups for each plunging the entire area in darkness and opening all of the cells. Suddenly the office was a state of confusion allowing him to pop out another grate and drop down into on of the cubicles where a Terran was pressing the light switch trying to figure out what was going on.

In less then three seconds the guard as fast asleep from a choke hold. He quickly moved his way through the office dispatching any guards he came across in a non lethal manner as he searched for the armory to retrieve Garrick's belongings. He could only hope that Garrick was on top of things at his end and made use of the diversion. 

He dropped another guard silently moving from room to room clearing each one until he came across the armory, given away by the brightly glowing keypad. It only took a minute to hack in and get inside. 

Finding Garrick's belongings took longer as they really had no system of organization. In all after several minutes of searching he located his effects and began making his way to the video feed room to assist Garrick.

Edited by Allamorph

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Video Feed Room

Garrick and Xionis arrived in the room simultaneously. Garrick happily snatched his belongings away from Xionis and strapped them back into his person. Xionis smirked and chided his partner.

"A little anxious from your time in the big house?" Xionis quipped. Garrick spun his pulse rifle around and then holstered it.

"They threw me in with a man who wouldn't stop vomiting," Garrick said with a slight shudder. "Let's just say I'm not too keen on spending any more time with the people around here unless I have my gun." Garrick waited expectantly for Xionis to laugh, but he was met with silence, as Xionis was pouring over the control console, rewinding the feeds for each other districts of Alphonse.

"But enough small talk," Garrick murmured, "let's get back to business." He turned his eyes to the feeds and began searching. The footage was largely unremarkable; waves of featureless criminals and homeless folks zipped back and forth across the screen, although they did so nervously, always looking over their shoulder. It didnâ??t take long, however, for a lead to appear-- several leads, in fact. Three out of the twelve feeds-- feed two, feed three, and feed twelve, M.H. Graveyard-- displayed suspicious behavior. Xionis allowed the other videos to continue to rewind, in case there was any incriminating footage located on them, and then played the three feeds one after the other.

---

Camera 2, Winry Station

This video recording heavily flickered and distorted, as if some form of magnetic feedback was disrupting the recorder. A large, hulking figure fitting roughly the build of their target sauntered across the area, and several other figures followed behind him. The mildly humanoid shapes rampaged around, causing more property damage than Garrick could ever hope to, and violently tossing around passerbies. The audio was badly damaged, so only the words "Leech," "...waste of time," and "-action" could be heard through the crackling static, before the line went dead altogether.

Camera 3, Master's Crossing

The recording began inconspicuously enough, with the camera trained on docking/departure platform which had long fallen out of use. A pack of birds burst forth from the horizon, followed shortly by a stampede of scholarly looking gentleman fumbling and stumbling over one another, followed immediately by grounded replicas of the first batch of interstellar trains ever created racing wildly through the open field. The trains swerved and careened wildly, crashing into one another and trampling over unfortunate elites left and right. Only a solitary replica remained unscathed, and it could be seen rocketing away from the camera toward the southernmost part of the Alphonse.

Camera 12 M.H. Memorium

The last recording began innocuously as well, and contained the least amount of carnage.  The camera was focused on a massive graveyard, presumably housing the brave creatures who had given their lives to constructing Alphonse, and the massive building which appeared to be some fusion of a cathedral, a manor and a retro museum, which inhabited the center of the plot of land.  Little could be seen of the proceedings inside of the building, but people were actively fleeing out through the front and side entrances, and random objects catapulted haphazardly from every window.  One such object, which appeared to be some form of Lernean binding material arced perfectly from the building toward the camera and destroyed it.

---

"I can see why no one wanted to talk. It looks like our bounty caused quite a bit of trouble here," Xionis griped, although now Garrick was the one ignoring him. He frantically began tearing apart the room while Xionis pondered over the footage.

"All three instances match our bounty's MO," he opined as chairs and mugs fell over and shattered behind him. "But there isn't a single clear picture of Leech in any of the footage--" 

"Aha!" Garrick yelled, interrupting Xionis' thought. Xionis spun around to witness Garrick proudly pointing to what appeared to Xionis to be abstract art. He eyed Garrick quizzically.

"Art? Congratulations?" He offered, in a slightly supportive tone. Garrick dismissed Xionis' confusion and pulled the Advent closer, revealing the real nature of the framed product-- a map. Garrick quickly stabbed his finger in several locations.

"District two," he read, "The Winry Station, which is the only other currently operating departure zone in this whole damned place aside from the one we landed in. Possible escape route. District three, Master's Crossing. The first departure zone built, which now acts as an amusement park of sorts featuring working, albeit flightless, versions of the original twelve interstellar trains constructed." He stopped for a second, and he and Xionis stared at one another.

"An amusement park. Here." Xionis stated with amazement. Garrick shook his head and continued, tracing his finger south from District 3.

"The direction that solo replica took off in suggests it could have been heading for the service entryway, which would lead out of Alphonse and into 'Scar Canyons'. He could have a ship waiting for him out there." He then fingered the last location.

"District 12, M.H. Memorium. which houses both the folks who conceived the project and those who constructed it. It's some sort of memorial/museum hybrid, which houses the actual, first ever built interstellar train, which was decomissioned who cares how many years ago." Garrick said with a shrug. Xionis stroked his chin, the pistons in his mind firing rapidly.

"So violence and escape, destruction and escape, or theft and, presumably, escape," Garrick recounted quickly, "and only moments to spare. Which way should we head, partner?"

Edited by Allamorph

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Video Feed Room

"Wait, what the hell am I saying?" Garrick exclaimed, bringing the Bounty information up on his communicator, "He's never had a ship, so how could he have one waiting for him in Scar Canyons?"

"And he's not exactly a socialite," replied Xionis, looking at the information on his own communicator, "So he's unlikely to have allied himself with the other people seen at Winry Station."

"I guess that leaves us with the Memorium, Kinda makes sense considering how much this guy likes trains, what kind of violent intergalactic trainspotter could resist stealing the first interstellar locomotive?"

"I suggest we discuss that on the way to the Memorium," said Xionis humourlessly, "Besides, I believe the guards are beginning to wake up and I doubt they will be happy with the outcome of events."

"First intelligent thing you've said this whole time," said Garrick, grabbing his last few belongings off the desk beside him and strapping them onto his body, before drawing one of his handguns and blasting a heavy plasma charge into the window of the security booth in front of them. The safety glass exploded outwards in shards, and Garrick simply stepped through the charred hole and into the street. He looked back at Xionis, who raised an eyebrow, and shrugged.

"Time is of the essence. Come on, big fella!"

He turned on his heel and took off towards the Memorium at a sprint, trusting that Xionis wouldn't be far behind.

---

M.H. Memorium

The building which housed the Alphonse Memorial Museum looked much bigger in person than it did on the video feed, and Garrick stopped for a moment to catch his breath and look at the towering behemoth of a building which stood in front of him. Xionis caught up a second later, the extended run apparently having very little effect on him physically.

"It looks as though things have calmed down somewhat," said Xionis, looking around at the quiet graveyard, the people who had populated the video feed having long since fled and a few pathetic strands of security tape circling the entire scene warning everyone else to Keep Out, "Perhaps our target has fled the scene. Or perhaps he was never here to begin with."

"Way to look on the bright side, J-Five," replied Garrick, hopping over the security line and heading towards the building. Aside from the debris that had been hurled from the building and dropped by those on their way out of it, the front of the building looked largely unremarkable save for a few faded, ragged banners proclaiming the building as the 'Home of the First Interstellar Locomotive!'. Garrick picked his way through the objects strewn across the floor, which had become more frequent as they got closer to the building, and made his way around the side of the Museum.

"I'm not reading any signs of life inside," said Xionis, scanning the building as Garrick got closer, "It looks like we may have missed him."

"From what I know about Ayeneans," replied Garrick quietly, shaking his head, "They're made of stone and metal ore, have no discernible way of sustaining themselves and most barely register any brain patterns."

"So they may not show up on regular scans," said Xionis, flicking through all of his scanner types in quick succession.

"You try scanning a boulder for regular signs of life, you won't have much luck," agreed Garrick, as he found the side entrance to the building, "But we may not have to, as it turns out."

"What do you mean?" asked Xionis, never breaking his gaze at the building.

"You might want to come and have a look at this," said Garrick, standing stock still as Xionis broke off his scan and made his way over to his fellow Bounty Hunter. As Xionis got closer, Garrick gestured towards the side of the building.

Or at least, at the hole where the side of the building used to be.

"Well...even if it's not our guy, there's definitely something big around here."

Edited by Allamorph

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Xionis ran his hands slowly over the edges of the massive hole in the building then crouched down taking a closer look at the debris littered on the floor.

"By the way the debris are, whatever it was made its entrance this way"

"Guess he didn't want to squeeze through the door" Garrick commented causing Xionis to smirk.

"Guess not." He took a step inside surveying the damage that had been wrought internally. Whatever it was had throughly wrecked the place. Tables over turned, equipment smashed, very few things had been left intact

He carefully made his way through the mess looking for any clues or anything salvageable but whatever had done this didn't leave much.

He stopping noticing a glimmer of light among on of the piles. He fished it out finding an access card. "Here" He tossed it over his shoulder.

"Good find. Help us check every inch of this place"

"Unless he made more holes in the wall"

"True true. He really did a number on this place" He let out a whistle.

"Or it was something else" Xionis remarked

Garrick just shrugged. "You know you could look on the bright side of things for once. Your gonna destroy my morale" He rummaged through another pile.

"Simply stating fact" He retorted dryly.

"Well your fact..." He went silent as a metal ping was heard across the lobby causing both men to have their guns out in a second and aimed in on the direction of the noise.

"What do you think that was?"

"Not our target. He would make quite a bit more noise due to his..."

"Yeah yeah...let's just skip the facts "

They advanced on noise slowly weapons never lowering, when they were about five steps away a small six legged furry rodent came scrambling out of a can and ran off into the shadows.

"Damn rodents...."He paused looking at Xionis. "So you sure that wasn't our target" He threw out sarcastically.

Xionis didn't bother to answer when another noise made itself known from deeper inside the complex.

"That one sounded bigger"

"Could be our target. Or a bigger rodent"

Garrick redrew his pistol narrowing his eyes at Xionis. "After we catch this guy, we got to do something about you sense of humor"

Xionis assembled three pieces of his weapon system forming his plasma shotgun, lights on it glowing a bright blue before dimming back down. "Shall we?" He motioned to the hallway in the back from where the sound originated with the muzzle of his gun.

Garrick regarded the hallway with a grim look. Flickers of light could be seen in the shadows meaning that some of the lights were broken. "Go down the creepy hallway of flickering towards the train to investigate a noise that came from something we have no clue what it is or about..."

He readied his pistol towards the hallway. "Sure why the hell not"

The two men advanced forward, Xionis crouching over slightly, the stock his weapon in his shoulder moving in an almost gliding motion. Who knew what waited for them.

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"You know, Xionis," whispered Garrick as the pair edged down the dark corridor, guns aimed at the darkness in front of them, "The further we get into this, the more I wonder whether this is really worth that 45,000 credits."

"It does seem a lot more complicated than the listing suggested," replied Xionis quietly, "We'll probably have to make sure we don't destroy any ICARUS property, that could really put a dent in our profit margins."

"Did you download the 'sense of humour' update while I wasn't looking?" asked Garrick incredulously, "And are you ever going to let that go?"

"Perhaps if we get out of this alive and get paid I'll drop it."

Garrick stopped in his tracks and looked into the middle distance.

"What is it? Do you see the target?" asked Xionis, trying to match Garrick's gaze.

"Nope," replied Garrick, "I'm just considering whether dying is a small price to pay to stop the jokes at my expense..."

"And?"

"Jury's still out," smirked Garrick, before swinging around the corner into the Locomotive Display Room, where the first interstellar train ever built was housed. The room itself was a vast, almost cavernous room, with the broken debris of dozens of display cases scattered around the central podium, upon which the train engine stood. A tattered banner was draped across the engine, having clearly fallen, or been torn down, from the ceiling, and there was a strange rustling sound coming from the other side of the room.

"Scanner," Garrick mouthed to Xionis, who nodded and looked around the room, flicking through different scans as he moved his head. He gestured over to the corner of the room, where the rustling was coming from.

"It's a large organic lifeform," whispered Xionis, his voice barely registering, "We should fall back and formulate a strategy for confrontation."

"Or..." murmured Garrick, before turning on his heel and sprinting towards the train engine. A few feet away from the giant machine, he leapt into the air and a small burst of white-hot flame burst out from the soles of his boots, boosting him onto the top of the engine where he grabbed onto the funnel that was functionally useless but aesthetically pleasing, and levelled his pistol at the dark, hulking shape below him.

"Yo, tall dark and fugly!" he yelled, his voice echoing through the otherwise quiet room, and the shape twisted around, still cloaked in shadow, and hurled the base of a display case at the source of the noise. The heavy wooden plinth soared through the air and exploded into a shower of splinters and jagged chunks as it struck the edge of the locomotive. Garrick was knocked off-balance by the attack, and in the explosion of noise and confusion he glimpsed the creature they had been tracking through the museum flee from the room in a strange, awkward gallop, leaving Xionis to move into the space the creature had been occupying until a moment earlier.

"You imbecile!" the Advent soldier snarled, "You let our mark get away! You are without a doubt the least professional Hunter I have ever had the misfortune of working with!"

"Calm down, big fella," replied Garrick, hopping down from the top of the engine and holding his hands up, "What you might call 'unprofessional', others might call 'inspired work of genius'."

"In what 'verse would anybody call what you just did an 'inspired work of genius'?"

"A 'verse where they recognise good ideas," said Garrick, gesturing to the debris and chaos scattered around the room, "I've just successfully identified that big-ass shadow monster as definitively not our target. Whatever it was, it was clearly more interested in running away to fight another day than solving all its problems through punching like the Leech supposedly does. If that was our target, chances are I'd be extremely dead right now."

"You risked your life for a piece of information we could have found in a thousand less dangerous ways?"

"But very few of those ways would be quicker or more effective," replied Garrick with a grin, "Besides, if I was afraid of dying I wouldn't be the incredibly handsome and successful Bounty Hunter you see before you!"

"You become more and more interesting by the moment, Terran," said Xionis, arching his eyebrow, and Garrick wasn't sure whether or not to take it as a compliment.

However, his wandering thoughts were almost instantly disrupted by a flood of bright white light pouring through the front windows of the museum, and the loud whoop of a loudspeaker booming from outside.

"Intruders will be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law," a grating, electronically-distorted voice echoed through the windows and into the museum, "On the jurisdiction of the Elrich Security Service, exit the building with your hands above your head or we will be forced to take you in with extreme prejudice!"

"In hindsight, the law catching up with us is probably overdue," sighed Garrick, staring out at the bright lights outside the museum.

"This would never have happened if I hadn't agreed to join you," groaned Xionis, rolling his eyes and looking out of the cracked window onto the plaza in front of the museum.

"Yeah, but your life would have been way less interesting," smirked Garrick, "So, J-Five, it's your call: do we run, or do we fight our way out?"

Edited by Allamorph

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