Clarke had been contracted to track down a couple of nomad pirates who had recently stolen some precious minerals from the Unity bank. First he caught up to them at a small settlement where their getaway ship had landed and after a fierce fight, he just missed it!
Clarke was then tipped off to a possible location from Rik, a man with a traveling bar, who gets ahold of much sought after information in his travels. He went to the Cooper space station, where he found his prey and with the help of the local Unity guards he reclaimed the stolen goods.
On his way back to hand in the contract, he was contacted by Rik again, and a favour was called in. Clarke was going to one of the Deema collectives, small illegal farms growing the popular narcotic, deema seeds.
After handing over the stolen items and receiveing his fee, Clarke got ready to meet with Rik's contact near the collective.
Clarke approached the gate.
"Stop right there, stranger!" came a call, and he saw two armed men stepping forward, rifles at the ready.
"Easy now boys, Rik sent me to get his shipment" the bounty hunter stated calmly, hands in the air to show them he didn't mean no harm.
"We don't deal with nobody but Tycho, that was the arrangement with Rik" one man replies, looking to be the one in charge.
As he spoke, a light rumble could be heard, and soon a small pickup came around a bend.
Tycho stepped out of it and walked over.
"Mornin', you must be Clarke. I'm Tycho, Rik's man on the ground 'round these parts." he said.
"Gentlemen, I believe you have something for me and Mr. Clarke here?"
"You're late Tycho. Let's go, we have the goods out back." The leader shot back
"So it's all there I presume" Tycho pointed at the small truck behind the field.
"Yup, all there. You have the cash?"
Tycho took out an sealed package from his jacket. "All there, clean untraceable Unity credits."
Just as he hands it over, a tortured squeal of ripping metal can be heard from the front gate!
A big truck just crashed trough the gates, heading into the farm!
"Are you trying to cross us Tycho? It didn't work out so good last time, did it?" he shouts. The rest of the guards and even the workers draw their weapons.
"It ain't like that, don't rightly know who those people are" Tycho shouts back, drawing both his heavy pistols.
Great, this is turning into a throxian standoff, Clarke thought.
Apparently more exposed than he thought, Clarke grits his teeth as a bullet from one of the rickety old rifles hit him in the side. The wound is quickly sealed by the suit, but it smarts none the less!
A group of strangely garbed humanoids swarm out of the truck, seemingly unconcerned by the fire that cuts down one of their number. Who are these sinister newcomers? As if to hearld their arrival, a sandstorm starts whipping up, slowly obscuring them from sight.
Deciding that the truck with the seeds will be a better cover, Clarke repositions himself.
He doesn't really want to kill all the collective workers over a mistake, but they did shoot first.
The leader is shouting orders, but he is cut short mid-sentance by a swarm of bullets from Clarkes rifle.
"I guess we should work together for now" Clarke offers.
"I reckon' we should, partner" Tycho says with a smile.
Revving the engine of a bizzare weapon, one female cultist charges a worker, doding fire with preternatural agility. The hapless worker doesn't stand a chance as the woman slams the huge chainsaw blade into him, cutting him in half as blood sprays everywhere.
Freaked out by the gruesome display, the worker in the supply depot doesn't see the other cultist poping out of cover, firing his pistol. The slug rips through his gut, and he falls over, screaming.
Feeling overwhelmed without their leader and seeing their comrades killed, most of the collective's workers are inside the compound now. They start waking up their sleeping comrades, getting ready to fight for their lives.
Tycho gets into the drivers seat when they realize that Clarkes armour makes him too bulky to fit comfortably.
So Tycho saves him he trouble.
The truck is old and slow, so Clarke moves alongside it, looking out for enemies.
The cultists move towards the compound, hollering and shooting as they go.
One of them spots a worker on the roof as he fires on the advancing cultists, and shoots him down with a few squeezes of his trigger.
"Glorious bloodshed!" he laughs.
Spurred on by the carnage, his fellow cultist moves into the shadow of the compound.
A few ill-aimed rounds smack into the adobe wall next to him, and he spots the worker who fired it.
His pistol barks, and spits out a pair of rounds that rip into the poor worker.
One worker stumbles out of his sleeping alcove, clutching a rifle.
Clarke moves along in front of the truck when the staccato of automatic fire suddenly erupts!
He manages to dodge out of the way, the bullets leaving only a few streaks of black on his armour.
Tycho and his truck is less lucky. The vehicle is riddled with bullets, forcing him to duck down.
As their comrade fires, the rest of the workers open up as well, firing into the advancing cultists.
At this range, even the untrained workers make two of the cultists fall over, looking more like swiss cheese than human. The chainsword wielding cultist manages to avoid a similar fate by throwing herself against the compound wall.
One more cultist is gunned down as he tries to cross the killing grounds. He does give another cultist a chance to fire on the compound however, forcing a worker into cover.
Meanwhile, Clarke and Tycho is slowly making their way across the outskirts of the fighting.
Suddenly, there is the sound of one of the revving chainswords, and it's wielder comes sprinting across the sands. Clarke fires as she speeds by, but he misses! Sparks fly as the chainsword starts cutting through the truck. The fuel tanks are ruptured, and it catches fire!
Clarke got lucky this time, and he breathes a sigh of relief before he remebers that Tycho is still in the burning truck!
Some of the last cultists decide to swarm over the walls in an attempt to take down the collective's workers, hoping to use the cover of the sandstorm. Their opponents are ready however, and they are cut down as they scale the walls!
Tycho makes it out of the burning truck, choughing and wheezing. He has some of the deema seed-bags.
"I could only carry two" He says apologetically.
"It's better than none. Glad to see you alive" Clarke says. "let's get out of here"
Tycho, burdened by the seed-bags, makes his way around the burning truck.
Clarke rushes up to a nearby shack, firing at one of the workers. The tungsten round goes through the rifle he's holding, sending shrapnel flying and knocking the worker out.
With most of the cultists taken out, the workers turn on our heroes, still convinced that they tried to double-cross them.
Everybody starts pouring automatic fire at Clarke, tearing his cover to bits, a few centimeters at the time. Eventually some of the bullets find their mark, Clarke doubles over in pain as the armour is rupured in several places, bleeding from a pair of hits to his side and shoulder.
The last few workers find their way out of their cots, ready to take back what's theirs! The storm is now at it's height, and they can't see very far, but they'll shoot on any shape moving through the storm!
Our heroes make their way towards the gates, they're almost out. Clarke is shuffling, the wounds taking their toll.
Tycho stops when he reaches a wall to hide behind, but pops off a few shots to keep the workers heads down.
A pair of them hit the floor.
The last remaining cultist has been covering behind the big truck since they entered the farm, but as the fire shifts to Clarke and Tycho, he rolls out from under the truck and starts up the engine on her sword. She charges towards Clarke, seeing his wounds. He tries to dodge out of the way, but his wounds makes him slow. The chainsword rips a long gash in the armour, pieces of armour and some flesh torn loose.
Amazingly, Clarke's suit manages to pump in enough stims to keep him on his feet. The cultist is startled for a second, and that is enough time for the bounty hunter to slam his knife into her skull, dropping her instantly.
Tycho comes running, both pistols spewing lead. Some of the workers who got overconfident due to the reduced visibility has no time to regret their mistake, Tycho's guns drops two of them with dual thunderclaps.
Clarke and Tycho are at the gate when the last of the collective catches up with them. Clarke is rushed and overpowered, his wounds finally too much. He is knocked unconsious, the last thing he sees is Tycho collapsing in the sand, bleeding from a new gunshot.
A few hours later, the Deema collective:
The calm scene belies the violence that until recently raged here. The storm has dies down, but not before buring most of the corpses under a layer of sand.
The collective had suffered some big losses, but there was always more poor soul looking for work. What couldn't be as easily replaced was the seed that had burned in the truck, and the damage to the truck itself.
They were unarmed and bound in a shack on the far side of the farm, but luckily for Clarke, they didn't have the experties needed to take apart the hard suit he was wearing, even in it's damaged state. With his augmented strength, he easily broke their ropes.
"I'll go first, you follow me. Let's get out of here"
He wispered. "Yes boss!" Tycho replied cheerfully.
There was a lot of guards ontop of compound, patroling the rooftops.
Clarke swore silently to himself, that was a lot of armed bodies, and he didn't even have a gun.
Clarke raced across the open ground, in behind the next building.
When he crosses, one of the guards spot him, and raise the alarm. Gunfire starts up, and Clarke dive in behind the building.
"Get going Tycho, or we'll be here for a good long while" he shouts across to his ally.
Tycho flings the door open and sprints..
But he only gets half-way before he's hit by a burst from one of the guards. He crashes into the dust.
Our hero now has a hard choice to make, does he try and save the man, or does he cut his losses and press on?
His military training won't let him leave a man behind, so he runs out and grabs the knocked out Tycho, draging him back into cover as the bullets kick up dust all around him.
Some guards and even the workers from the field comes running, intent on stopping the duo from effecting their escape.
As Clarke drags his unconcious ally around the corner, he discovers the truck. It have been hastily patched and the deema seed is in the back, how lucky is that!
He shoves Tycho in the back with the seed, and squeezes into the drivers seat. Clarke can barely fit, but after punching out the door, there's enough room for him armoured form.
Gunning the engine as much as he dares, Clarke drives right into the fence, hoping he'll be going fast enough to go right through the closed gate.
The impact rattles the truck, adding the screaming metal of the fence to the symphony of bullets clanking off and through the vehicle.
With a creak and a last tortured sigh, the fence bends out of the way, letting the abused truck through the hole they just opened up.
The moment that the truck breaks through the fence there's a unsettling sound coming from the transport, the motor coughs and sputters dying as some bullets finally find their way into the tank and cylinders. Thick black smoke rises from the bonnet as Clarke grabs both seed-bags and drags tycho out of the smouldering wreck.
The wreckage and smoke protect the duo while Clarke get ready to move them. There's a beaten up rifle in wreck that he takes.
He then pushes a few buttons on the suit computer and feels the cool rush of more stims entering his bloodstream.
Now he's ready for the final push back to his Speeder, the Red Death.
The bounty hunter starts draging the passed out smuggler along the desert floor. As the most impetous of the collective guards near the fence, he fires a burst of rounds towards them. The stims have steadied his hand and both shots hit center mass, dropping the guards like puppets with cut strings.
Finally by his ship, Clarke doses Tycho with just enough stims to get him concious and help him into the 2nd seat of the speeder. After loading up the deema seed, Clarke climbs into his seat and set the auto-pilot for the nearest settlement with an doctor of some sort.
A few days later, after much needed rest, Clarke hand over the deema seed to Rik.
He's not too happy about loosing half of his product, but considering the extensive damage to both Clarke and Tycho he lets it go, best not to upset either of them while the wounds are still fresh..
Clarke then meets up with Tycho again, in a local bar:
"Hey, I see your all in one piece again" Clarke remarks as he walks up to the counter.
"Yeah, nothing the auto-doc couldn't fix" He takes a sip of some turqoise liquid that smells like anticeptics, even through the chemical filters of the hard suit.
"Rik said you might be looking for a hand. Some big contract, VIP or somethin'" Tycho added, taking another sip.
"I just might be, and you seem to handle yourself ok Tycho. I'm offering an equal share on any contract, so long as you pull your own weight. Deal?"
"That seems fair to me, partner. You've got yourself a deal! Now what is this contract we've got?"
"In a minute, I just need to ask, do you know what those strange fellows that attacked us at the collective was? I've not seen anything like them around these parts before." Clarke asked Tycho.
"Yeah, they are known as the Blood Cult. They are some sort of doomsday cult, worshipping some alien diety or other, you know, your run of-the-mill crazy militant cult."
"I thought as much. No matter, let's celebrate, tomorrow we have a new contract!" Clarke exclaimed.
"What is the contract?" Tycho looked over at Clarke while ordering another one of his bizarre drinks.
"We are to accompany a Unity convoy transporting some important person, they are all hush hush about the details, but I've heard rumors it's some sort of psion..
What will happen to the newly formed team? Who is the mysterious VIP, and why are they so important to Unity?
Tune in next time for the answers!
Til next time!