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Hueva Settlement, Roanoke, Outer-Rim, 5431
The next day…

The next morning found Xeg and his companions sharing breakfast in the cramped buffet area of their lodging house, discussing the day ahead. “Tell you what, Thom”, Xeg said, “You hang around here and keep an eye out while we’re at our job meeting. Just in case the wrong people saw last nights fracas”. Thom looked thoughtful, “I’ll get myself set up here as well, makes sense that we’re all under the same roof”. “Good idea”, Xeg nodded in approval, “The rest of us’ll head to Jayne’s and meet with this person who’s supposed to have some work for us and see if it seems our speed”.

On their way to the tavern as they were passing through the marketplace Harren spoke up, “Actually, do you mind if I catch you guys up? There’s something I’d like to get here” “Meet us at Jayne’s when you’re done”, Xeg said after sharing a glance with Jenna, “Will do”, said Harren, peeling away from the group. As the trio entered the tevern, Xeg led them straight up to the bar where Jayne was quietly chatting to a balding man in a coat that probably started its life white. “And this is the man I was telling you about”, said Jayne to the balding man, indicating Xeg, “Turo, this is Xeg Proxim. Xeg, let me introduce Acturo Damsk” “A pleasure”, Xeg said, holding his hand out. “The pleasure is all mine”, Acturo replied, his voice a bit off-timbre and his hand shaking slightly as he took Xeg’s proffered hand and shook it. “These are my associates, Jenna and Caerdras”, Jenna gave a nod while Caerdras flashed the man a broad grin, “Jayne tells me you might have a job that needs doing” “Yes yes”, Acturo said quickly, “Tell you what, I’ll buy us a round of drinks and we can sit ourselves down and I’ll tell you all about it”. Jenna looked at Xeg and raised an eyebrow, he was going to buy them drinks? The twitchy man must be desperate. Or, Xeg reasoned, maybe there was just nobody else in this tiny settlement who could do whatever Acturo needed doing. They sat themselves down at a table and Acturo began to talk. “So, this job”, he said, “It involves retrieving something that went missing from my lab and finding out what’s been done with it. A little backstory is perhaps in order?”, he looked questioningly as Xeg, who nodded for him to proceed, “I am a scientist conducting research into the effects of various organs from one sentient species being introduced into other sentient species. The purpose behind my work is to advance the field of medical science by introducing cross-species organ transplants as a viable treatment. Statistically, there are more humans than any other sentient species apart from the Kasar and medical facilities on the Outer-Rim and in alien territories would be much better equipped to heal any being of any race if there was a method of integrating organs from other species which had been made compatible with a different genome” “Now, that is very interesting”, Caerdras said slowly, “Does this, by chance, have anything to do with the people who have gone missing here lately?” “I believe it has EVERYTHING to do with that!”, Acturo said emphatically. “About a month ago, my lab in Roanoke City was ransacked and my research papers stolen. Shortly afterwards, I began hearing reports of people being snatched from Hueva and a few other small settlements. I’ve made my way here and asked some questions, Jayne acted as a liaison between myself and a person who preferred to remain anonymous whom I paid to track the next raiders who took someone from the town. He followed them to what he described as a walled facility with some sort of shantytown just outside it about 20km to the northwest of Hueva where he said the captive was taken inside the walls”. At this point, Acturo looked at all of them intently, “There is more than one application for my research”, he said quietly, his twitching had stopped, “I must recover my research data, it must remain under my control. I need you to find this facility, discover what is going on there and return with my research files” “What’s the pay?”, Xeg asked. “Do this”, Acturo said, “and I can pay you 10 credits. I don’t think I need to tell you how far Imperial credits go out here” “True enough”, Xeg answered, “If you’ll excuse us a minute so we can talk it over?” “Of course”, Acturo stood up and headed back to the bar where he stood, tapping his foot in a rapid staccato. “Well”, Xeg said in a low voice, “What do we think?” “I for one am very interested in finding out what the scum who got me with that net had in mind for me”, said Caerdras in a silky voice that promised daggers, “and in meeting anyone else associated in the endeavour” “And you, Jenna?”, Xeg asked. “Money’s right, sir”, she said, adding, “and it wouldn’t be our first recon then assault mission. We haven’t seen Thom or Caerdras in action yet, but I think they’re up to it” “I agree”, Xeg nodded, waving Acturo back over. “Ok”, Xeg said to Acturo once he was seated, “We’ll take the job, provided we get half up front”. Acturo’s face fell, then brightened. “Tell you what”, he said, “I’ve worked with Jayne before and I know he can be trusted. Why don’t I give him the half up front to hold, with instructions that you be given it upon your return?”. Xeg thought a second then answered, “That sounds fair. After all, we don’t know each other very well yet” “Excellent”, Acturo said, getting Jayne’s attention. Jayne agreed to hold the part payment and then he, Acturo and Xeg shook hands to seal the deal. “We’ll set off tomorrow”, Xeg told Acturo, “we’re on foot, so it might be a few days before we’re back”. Acturo nodded, “When you get back, speak to Jayne. He’ll let me know. Thank you. And good luck.”

The next morning at daybreak, Xeg and his crew headed along the dusty streets of Hueva, quickly leaving the tiny settlement behind and heading to the northwest where their mission lay. Harren had surprised them all by presenting Caerdras with a gift the previous evening, he’d managed to procure a concealed blade device at the market. Even more surprising was that he’d presented it with a formal gifting ceremony in perfect Eloi. “I grew up amongst the Eloi”, Harren said with a grin at the look of incredulity on Caerdras’ face, “This cancels our debt” “What debt?” asked Thom, curious. “I helped save his life last night”, Harren explained, “In Eloi culture that puts him in my debt until he can reciprocate in kind. The gift of a weapon acknowledges the debt and cancels it.” “Wait”, Jenna said, confused, “He’s in YOUR debt but you cancel it be giving HIM a gift?” Harren and Caerdras shared a smile. “It’s difficult to explain to an outsider”, Caerdras said, “The gift of a weapon in a way shows that he isn’t in need of my debt. He can look after himself so well that he can afford to give his weapons away” “So, are you still in our debt?”, Xeg asked, indicating himself and Jenna. “No”, Harren said, “My gift was on behalf of the group”. He shrugged at their confused faces, “It’s an Eloi thing”.

By noon, they had crested a short rise and were looking at their destination. It was as it had been described; a small gathering of nine huts next to a walled compound of prefabricated buildings. There was the ruined husk of a tank just outside the facility’s walls and at the south of the shantytown was an old looking van. “That must be how they get further afield”, Jenna muttered to Xeg, who gave her a wink, “We could use some transport, don’t you think?”, Jenna grinned, “I am getting tired of walking everywhere sir”. They counted three armed men in the shantytown and another by the ruined tank. They couldn’t see into the facility but the walls had been breached on both the eastern and western sides. “Right”, Xeg said, “Here’s the plan. There’s three locations in the shantytown that could hold the research data we’re after. It’s far more likely to be in the facility itself but we should search out here nevertheless. We’ll advance from the west and stay quiet as long as possible, we may be able to take most of them out silently. Caerdras and I will take the northern part of the village and check the crates we see, Harren and Thom will go through the centre and do the same. Jenna, I want you to head for the van and see if it’s usable. Once we’ve cleared the village we’ll enter the facility through the western breach and search the place top to bottom. We don’t know what opposition we’ll face inside those walls so stay tight and cover each others backs. Any questions?” There were none. “Alright. Let’s go earn some money”.

Assault on the Research Facility

They all advanced quietly into the outskirts of the small shantytown, careful to keep the noise to a minimum. Unfortunately, one of the armed abductors walked around the side of a tent and caught sight of Xeg and Caerdras sneaking up behind a second guard, firing on Caerdras immediately but missing wide. Xeg responded instantaneously, his combat reflexes kicking in, and shot down both the attacking guard and the guard they’d been advancing on, who never even knew they were there before he died. Caerdras ran forward and searched the first crate, only to find it empty. Hearing this, Harren and Thom both charged forward, firing at another guard who managed to return fire before falling to a round from Thom. Using the distraction, Jenna rushed to the dilapidated van and started to prise open the drivers door. Harren and Thom continued to push east, Harren searching another crate which turned out to be empty. As Xeg and Caerdras entered the open stretch between the shantytown and the breached wall off the compound, two men popped up from the rubble and opened fire. Xeg dove for cover as Caerdras copped a bullet and went down cursing. Thom, while still moving east to the tank, swung north and took aim with his hunters rifle at the man who had shot Caerdras, forcing him to take cover but failing to score a hit. Taking advantage, Xeg opened fire on both of them, taking out one while another shot from Thom finished off the other. Meanwhile Harren, who was pushing north towards the breach put a round from his rifle neatly through the head of another abductor who had peeked out from behind the ruined tank. Jenna finally got the van started and Xeg barked an order over the commlink for Jenna to pick up Caerdras and treat him. Xeg searched the last crate, which proved to be empty, and regrouped with Harren at the breach. “On three”, said Xeg, holding up three fingers, then two, then one. As they stormed the breach, a man in combat armour armed with an auto rifle who had been laying in wait opened fire, forcing both Xeg and Harren to dive to the ground. They returned fire from their prone positions, Xeg scoring a hit on the enemies head that his helmet deflected and Harren hitting his upper leg, causing him to go down. Xeg jumped to his feet and sprinted to the injured man before he could recover, kicking the mans rifle away and putting his own into the now scared face of his enemy. “Surrender or die”, Xeg said coldly. The man held up his arms and Xeg secured them behind his back, ending the fight.

What the facility held was disturbing. Aliens and humans, all braindead, who had obviously been experimented on extensively. Old-tech databanks full of sickening footage and written reports of the things that went on there. Xeg ordered the databanks loaded into the van along with some useful loot they’d found and the man, who turned out to be a mercenary named Simm, that they’d captured. Fortunately, the shot that hit Caerdras was not fatal or particularly dangerous, though he would need to stay off his feet for a few days to recover. As they pulled out of the facility, Jenna lit the fuse that led to the improvised explosives they’d placed in every building. When the place blew, Xeg and his crew were heading back to Hueva in their newly acquired transport, watching in satisfaction as the facility and the shantytown around it burned to the ground.

“You’re back quick!”, Jayne exclaimed as Xeg and Jenna entered the tavern, “What happened?”. They related the story and asked Jayne if they knew what should be done with their prisoner. “Get what you need from him, then cut him loose”, Jayne suggested, “If he seems the type to hold a grudge, make sure he doesn’t get the chance to act on it. In the meantime, you guys have a drink and I’ll send word to Turo. Oh, and here’s your money” “Keep ten percent for yourself”, said Xeg, “For setting it up”. Jayne grinned, “Good to see you know the game. I’ll send more your way when I can”. A short time later, Acturo entered the tavern and sat down at their table. Xeg and Jenna told him what they’d found, passing him the databanks. “It’s as I feared”, Acturo said, twitching like mad, “Whoever did this is trying to create some sort of mutant hybrid. This is NOT why I began my inquiry into this branch of research” “Well”, Jenna said, “It’s over now. We burned that place to the ground” “Yes”, Acturo answered, “We must hope that it was the only facility of its kind. For now though, here is the rest of what I promised you”, he handed Xeg a pouch, “I hope you will be willing to work with me again in the future, should the need come up?” “It would be our pleasure”, said Xeg, passing the pouch to Jenna who quickly counted the contents then pocketed it with a slight nod to Xeg, “Nice doing business with you”. Their business concluded, Xeg and Jenna returned to the lodge where the rest of the crew was waiting.

“Get anything out of him?”, Jenna asked Caerdras, nodding her head towards the tied-up prisoner. “It seems my former employer was the main backer of the facility and its research”, Caerdras said, “Simm here says that he was hired on behalf of the Red Moon Company to head up security around the facility” “Was he, now?”, Xeg said slowly, squatting down next to Simm, “Do you have anything else of interest to tell us?” The mercenary looked more tired than anything else, “Not really”, he grunted, “It was a cushy job that paid well. All I had to do was keep those idiots in the shantytown from getting so drunk they’d set fire to the place and make sure the whitecoats were kept happy. I didn’t want to know what they were doing, so I didn’t ask” “And where were the whitecoats when we showed up?”, Xeg asked. “They were in the panic room”, Simm replied, “I hit the internal alarm as soon as I heard the first shot. They’ve got enough supplies to keep them alive for a few days, but I doubt they survived the explosion. It wasn’t built using state-of-the-art material, it was just concrete” “Ok, new topic”, said Xeg, thinking hard, “What are we going to do with you?” Simm shrugged wearily, “You seem like a man who knows when a situation’s run its course, when it might be time to get out and start afresh” “I’m listening”, Simm said. “This rock is small, dusty and largely uninteresting. If you were to leave it behind for greener pastures…”, Xeg trailed off suggestively. “Mr Breger, my employer, has a nasty reputation”, Simm said slowly, “If he finds me he’ll probably blame me for his burnt up facility. You’d put me on the next transport off this planet?” “Provided that you’d fade away into the wider galaxy”, Xeg said, extending his hand, “I think you’ll agree it’s in both our interests”. Simm took Xeg’s hand and shook it, “My oath on it”, he said.

“So”, Xeg said to Caerdras, “Mr Breger?”. It was later that evening. As luck would have it, there was a small cargo ship headed deeper into the Outer-Rim the next morning, Simm had been set up with a berth on it. “Geran Breger, owner of the Red Moon Company”, Caerdras responded, “A tiny transport and logistics company based in Roanoke City. They move supplies to, from and between settlements all over the planet. It’s also a front for small-time organised crime. This mutant hybrid caper is exactly the sort of thing Breger would be backing, something probably doomed to fail but that would be his ticket to bigger and better things if it succeeded. He’s not the most intelligent of men by any stretch” “No”, Xeg agreed, “he doesn’t sound like it. What were you doing for him?” “He has a ship”, Caerdras said, “A converted freighter. I swear, if I live to be two thousand I will never love a woman like that man loves his ship. Never mind that it’s barely serviceable. Anyway, one of his subordinates got drunk and took it for a joyride. I was hired to find and return it, as well as the thief. I was to be paid quite a bit for this, he was pretty angry” So, what happened?”, Xeg asked. “ I found it and returned it as well as the whimpering mess of a sentient who stole it. Breger pushed a quarter of the agreed sum towards me and said that’s all the job was worth. I urged him to reconsider. It got a bit heated. He pushed a button and he and his desk vanished and the door crashed open, thugs filling the room. It was a bit dicey. Anyway, I’ve been looking for him ever since”. Xeg rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “It may be that we’ve found his trail. Perhaps we should go back to the facility in the morning and see if any of those scientists survived the night?”. Caerdras gave him a wicked grin.

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by Bozz. Reason: Corrected spelling

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