Part 1 - The Case
The sign above the doorway bled light into the surrounding alleyway like rot. At one point in time the sign would have read Bounty Store but now due to disrepair, corrosion and vandalism it was only B unt S ore. From inside the small single storey apartment two men sat on bent and broken plastic chairs, resting large workboot covered feet against a small beaten table rested empty crushed beer cans and piled high ash trays. One man was younger than the other, no more than thirty years old with cropped hair, stumbled face and a bored expression. The other man, the older one, roughly forty to forty five with absolutely no hair at all, an unkept beard and a face covered with deep and long scars. The two men had not been located within this site for long having recently acquired it from its previous owner, and the empty pin-board labeled Jobs reaffirmed this. Back in Free Port these two were well known; Paul Homes and Redd, the best Bounty Hunters this side of the Block. Of course within the Block itself that reputation did not spread and so the two sat for days waiting for a phone call, a vid message or maybe even someone to walk in off the streets, in the meanwhile they knew exactly what they were going to do; drink the leftover beer and smoke the left over cigarettes.
"Damn this shit is awful" complained Redd as he sucked on cigarette. It burned fast and let off an almost black smoke.
Paul laughed heartedly before chugging the remains of his drink "sure it is" Paul replied "it's free ain't it?"
If anyone had asked they would have been told by the pair that they had 'inherited' the Bounty Store from it's previous owner. The truth however was much more convoluted including Paul and Redd following a job that lead from Free Port to the Block. Whilst there the resident Bounty Hunter for that region of the complex had taken offence their presence and tried to have them killed. When the previous hunter failed and died in the attempt the local law enforcement had given it to Paul and Redd as an under the table deal to save them on additional unnecessary paperwork. They now owned the Region: 612 Bounty Store including everything within it from the beer and cigarettes to the empty job board and bug infested furniture.
A flat-toned electronic buzz sounded the opening of their front door as an tall thin man stumbled in. His clothes were in tatters, his skin dirty and he looked like he hadn't eaten in days. The man leaned on the open door and with a fragile hand reached out across the filthy room at the men wasting away their evening. Before either of them could tell him that they didn't give out charity the man collapsed on the floor.
When he finally awoke the man had been placed on a couch in the rear of the store, he reached into his dirty coat pocket and pulled out a tattered photograph of a young woman wearing graduation clothes from the New Brasilia West University. He spoke with a dry throat through dirty teeth.
"My daughter" the man spoke with an almost whisper "murdered" he continued.
Paul did his best to hide his pleasure; here was a job. Not one that would pay well, but local law enforcement paid commission for jobs like this and reduced any rental fees for properties like the store itself.
The man closed his eyes and relinquished his grasp on the photo as Paul gently took it from him. Within moments he was in a deep sleep and had begun to snore loudly.
Paul handed the photo to Redd who in turn took it and placed it within their Comms unit which jumped into life with a bright flash of green light. The unit emitted a whirr as it scanned the photo before displaying its results on it's screen:
Name: Caroline Katherine West
Home Address: Unknown
Current Status: Deceased
Redd flicked through the displayed pages getting as much information as he could before grabbing a nearby dark green mack and black leather leg holster complete with sawn-off shotgun. Redd turned to Paul.
"Vic's name is Caroline West, daughter to James West" Redd nodded in the direction of the man asleep on their couch. "Her body is currently held at the 601 Mortuary".
Paul nodded as he picked up the man; James West from their couch, slung him over his shoulder and carried him out to the battered old chair that rested outside the store. He was more than happy to do the job, but he was far from willing to leave the man alone with opportunity to ransack the store, even if all he would get away with was piss-water beer and tar filled smokes.
Placing the man on the chair, Paul returned inside and grabbed his own coat complete with side arm and returned outside where Redd was waiting inside their Cobra 43-Neo Refurb.
Redd loved the Cobra, it was the first car he had ever acquired legally and felt an immense sense of pride at this knowledge. The car began its dust-off and reached the mid-way in little time. The mid-way was a free floating series of high speed roads that connected the many different regions of the Block. Currently they were leaving region 612 heading east to region 601.
The car ride gave the two plenty to talk about, they passed a number of different regions, each one less prosperous than the last and each region with a higher and higher concentration of pollution. Redd's expression was that of total sadness by the time they reached 601 and the meter-reading revealed the outside pollution was strong enough that he would need to deep clean the Cobra once this job was over.
With a sudden jerk, Redd pulled the car out of the Mid-Way and descended to ground level where the car park entrance to the mortuary resided. Carefully he parked the car and opened the door before staring at the streaks of corrosion already building up on the side of the vehicle. Redd shook his head and muttered to himself "No job's worth this shit".
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley