The Unity Chronicles

Easy Mark

Unity Standard Time: 13:45, 29th of June U110. New Lemnos, New Lemnos system.

"Get up and take it like a man," Gheist muttered in the muted solitude of her helmet. She was just one of thirty-seven onlookers to the brawl currently in its final minutes outside the spaceport bar. Her helmet's systems had long since assessed every person in her vicinty, and though there were the usual New Lemnos array of weapons, concealed or otherwise, none constituted a significant threat to the bounty hunter.

She did not even feel particularly conspicuous in her full body armour, given the range of personal protection on display around her. There were even a few helmets in the crowd, though she doubted any were quite as advanced as her own. With a thought, she enhanced the readout on the two combatants, noting the heart rates and estimated blood loss as well as the damage that had been inflicted during the altercation. It had been a rather one-sided affair, the man still on his feet being thirty kilograms heavier and twenty-two centimetres taller. He had not escaped unscathed, but his opponent was now lying prone and taking a series of kicks to the stomach.

"Alright, he's had enough" spoke a voice from the back of the crowd. A woman pushed easily through the loudly petulant throng, and Gheist saw she wore a triangular tattoo on her left cheek. Delta Cartel, then. She wondered what the Deltas wanted with the man that they were willing to step into a common barfight; it was a common enough occurrence, even a regular event, at almost every bar on the colony.

The woman, whose age the helmet placed at around 53 despite the livid pink of her hair, turned to the crowd once she was sure the fight was halted.

"Will someone help this man to his feet and get him taken care of?" Nobody moved, and the woman turned to face Gheist directly. "How about you, sir? At least you will be essentially helping anonymously."

Gheist hesitated a moment. There was clearly an agenda at work here, and she intensely disliked being played in someone else's game. But for the moment, it was her best move.

She eased to the front of the crowd, which parted in curiosity before her, likely trying to work out who wore the androgynous armour and why this person would stick his or her neck out for a loser nobody like the man on the ground before them.

None followed as she led the dazed man from the area in silence, and her helmet's rear feed showed the crowd dispersing, most returning to the bar to await further entertainment. She led her charge through the streets until her heads-up display reported no people or surveillance in the vicinity.

"Where are we?" the man slurred. She turned to address him, her voice distorted through a shifting range of filters.

"We are at the end of the line, Tonan. We are where you pay for what you did."

His eyes sobered slightly as he tried to make sense of the shift in situation.

"What I did? You don't even know me. Who are you?"

"A ghost." She drew, raised, and discharged her sidearm in one fluid motion, the plasma slug boring a hole through the skin of his forehead and into his brain. He dropped.

"That was nicely done" a voice came from nearby. There was nothing on her readouts, no lifesigns in the night but the fast-ebbing ones of her mark. She spun to face the direction of the voice, and the woman from the Delta Cartel emerged from behind the nearest corner. Gheist's weapon was already trained on her, the only thing stopping her disposing of the witness her reluctance to cross the Deltas. The woman was unarmed, as far as the helmet's scanners could tell, but if she was masking her lifesigns somehow, there was no telling what else she may have been hiding.

"What do the Deltas want here?" she demanded. "You knew I was here for Tonan. Why hand him to me?"

"Strictly speaking," the woman answered, "I am not here in my capacity as a Delta. I represent a different group, and in this case -- and many more, we suspect -- our interests align."

"You wanted Tonan dead? He's a nobody." The woman laughed musically.

"Here, perhaps, he managed to fade into the scenery. But we wanted him for the same reason you did -- for who he used to be."

"You know?" The surprise in Gheist's voice was eaten by the filters.

"We do. And the time will come, soon, when we will ask for your help."

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