The Thrill of the Chase - part 1

From the Story Arc: Rebirth

Previous Story in the Arc: 'Till We Have Faces, part 3 by Krasnaya Zvezda (Wednesday, July 26, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: The Thrill of the Chase - part 2 by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, December 17, 2006)

(posted Sunday, December 17, 2006)

(( This story ties in with the events contained within 'Grim's Gamble' by Astra Kyne Murdock. ))

Astra Kyne Murdock rose up into the air and flew off, into the skies of Striga Isle. Red Star still stood on the spot where they had both been a moment ago; her eyes and thoughts were focused on her sestra. No matter how much of a relief it was to know that Astra was safe and to be able to feel her presence again -- and a relief it most definitely was -- to have been dismissed from her thoughts so casually, for Astra not to realize the importance of the bond that existed between them…

That’s what you get for bonding with a Peacebringer. The thought sprang unbidden into her head. Star frowned, that was unfair; Astra was just young, but that was changing quickly. Astra was making her first-- no, Kyne was her first-- the second decision of her life, she was growing up, deciding things for herself. And doing things against the wishes of those closest to you; your friends and your parents...

As Astra faded into the distance, Star’s eyes focused on another dot in the sky, Letting others choose for you is easy; if you do not choose, how can you be responsible? For right or wrong, my Clan-Sister has chosen, so I will be there for her - no matter the cost.

Star sighed and shook off her revere; sometimes humans were such hard work, would they ever truly understand these things? Looking out across Striga Isle, dismissing the vehicle in the sky, her thoughts turned to the task at hand. The ‘ghost’ called Grim.

What could hurt this ghost… Star mused. It was time to see what else she could find in the Rogue Isles. Cap au Diable was the place where the all victims had last been seen and this ghost must have some connection with that being called Circus Master. Star smiled, that gave her two things to hunt down, and someone or something will have heard of one of them. The sound of the helicopter grew louder as Star transformed and took to the skies.


***


Looking out of the window, Gal’ulan ignored the sounds of the engine and stared at the volcano. Not long now. he thought. He frowned as some movement caught his eye; that shape, climbing into the skies, wasn’t that a Helmanim? He started to reach for his rifle then grimaced, It was confiscated, remember? he forced himself to relax and concentrate on the matter at hand. It was two weeks since he was taken to the Zig and this information was long overdue. He hoped there was still time. He sank back into his seat and this thoughts returned to the base…


(Two weeks earlier)


Gal'ulan was bored. Ever since he came to this mud ball the group he was with had spent most of there time playing as guards to one group or another. At least this time he was guarding something close to ‘home’...

“Hey, Alan,” came a voice, “You seen this? Should be right up your street.”

Still, being close to home didn't always mean things we better. 'Alan' indeed! These Council were the best of a bad bunch on this planet. Still, they were useful if nothing else. They were currently absorbed in talking about this bounty that had been posted, or rather, what they would do with the reward. It seemed that whoever this Garvey person was, he wanted this target quite badly. This Astra will be found before long. For the elders to take an interest and even dispatch some seekers… They will not stay hidden from Ha’lait and Kel’utan; they will find all there is to know about this target, then the bounty will be ours. If it is not already.

“Alan” went back to watching the implantation room; behind him he could hear the struggles of the two volunteers as they fought to resist the Nictus implants. Why they should even wish to fight was beyond him. The implants were a means to an end; they strengthened their host beyond all natural limits and should be welcomed. Humans.

This is no work for a Stalker, he sighed and, deciding to get a drink, he walked past the Council troops towards the refreshment area. Just as he reached for a tinned beverage that proclaimed itself to be for Dr Pepper, the world around him flashed and he found himself in the corridor, facing two beings. Beings he recognized instantly. Khledians! He started to bring up his gun when one, a Warshade by the looks of it, slammed a gravity well about him and he could only shudder, helpless in its embrace.

“You see? they are merely beings of flesh. Take a good look now; he cannot harm you.” said the Warshade; a male by the sound of it, though he was hidden in behind a Cloak of Shadows. His companion, a female Peacebringer, stared at him.

“Now reach out, with all your senses. Can you feel them? They leave a stain on your mind, as I believe your mother put it. There is a difference about them, formed partly by their ‘implants’”, the male sneered, “They are a perversion really, a hybrid of their original species and extracts of mine.”

The Warshade stepped in close to Gal’ulan, and stared into his eyes, “Shall we remove your implants for you, little Hunter?” Feeling his eyes widened in response, Gal’ulan struggled once more against his bonds. Were they weakening slightly?

Doing his best not to let hope rise in his eyes, he kept his eyes fixed on the Warshade in front of him. “They need the implants to survive.” The Warshade continued, ”They have taken the essence and made it a part of them, an integral part. Without the implants they would not be Hunters, they would just be...” it gave a snort and stepped back, “well, whatever they were called; it was a long time ago and I have forgotten. Suffice to say that they, as a Race, need the implants to function and to expand. It should not have been allowed, creating something that lives off us. These parasites were a bad idea at the start.”

The Warshade then, turned and focused it’s attention on the Peacebringer. Gal’ulan intensified his struggles and ignored the looks the Peacebringer kept shooting at him. The Warshade continued talking, prattling on about his ‘insights’ into Void Hunters. Please. It was surprising that a decent sized amount of his information was correct, but no matter. The bonds were weakening, he could feel it. Come on, just a little more. The gun was at his feet, all it would take was one swift movement… Don’t turn around. That’s it, talk. Don’t turn around, amuse yourself for just a little long-- ah. The Gravity Well broke and he was free. He could see the Peacebringer’s eyes widen, but she was too far away, he lent down for his weapon and--

“So you see, Astra-” The Warshade began, just as the Peacebringer shouted, “Star, look out!”

What the!? Gal’ulan was stunned. His arm froze, still reaching the now forgotten weapon. His eyes flicked to the Peacebringer as she pushed past the Warshade; he was vaguely aware of a glowing building around her hand.

But-- that’s-- he struggled to think as a bolt of white light spread forth from the Peacebringer’s now outstretched arm and grew to fill his vision. He scarcely felt the impact as blackness swiftly followed the blinding light and pulled him down into the welcome tranquility of nothingness.


(Present day)


He stepped out of the helicopter and made his way through the maze of corridors, to the meeting room set aside for his kind. They were several Hunters already gathered within; he could feel their interested looks and was aware of more entering behind him as he removed his veil.

“Did you real--” one Seeker started to ask, instantly falling silent as their commander entered the room.

“Well?” the Slayer said, “This better be good.”

Gal’ulan dropped to a knee, “I have found her,” he said simply. “She is here, in the company of another.”

The Slayer stared at him for a moment, and then a grim smile broke across its face. “Excellent. All of you - prepare yourselves. That bounty is ours.”