Time is the Hunter
Episode 02: Stalk the Lower Levels
Last time on Time is the Hunter, Irfan played bounty hunter Jax Hunt who signed up with the Byblos chapter of the House Benelex Bounty Hunting Guild at Tower 214.
Jax Hunt arrived the next day at Abbit Mowba‘s office. The signs of battle from when Jax saved Mr. Mowba from a disgruntled bounty hunter the previous day were still there. But Mowba seemed distracted.
“Hi Mr. Mowba,” Jax greeted the Aqualish manager.
“Jax,” he stuttered. “I… There seems to be a problem.”
“What is it?”
“There is a new mark. The bounty is right here on Byblos. In Byblos Spaceport Tower 214 itself. Way down dozens of levels in Brown-212. It’s a difficult mark. I sent three bounty hunters after the mark. They should have returned yesterday evening.”
“I’ll take the bounty,” Jax exclaimed.
“I usually do not send rookie hunters out after this kinds of hunts.”
“I can handle it.”
Abbit Mowba hit a sequence of buttons on his office table and considered Jax. “Okay. I’m out of datacards and my table is a mess. Go find the hunters I dispatched: Tulon Tash, Arbo Kee and Wex Ringthreader. They will have details of the mark on them. They should still be down at Brown-212.”
Jax smiled at the Aqualish and headed out for his first hunt.
Trying to leave Blue-772 was a chore. (Bureaucracy skill failure of 9 point from a Difficulty of 20 – Byblos was an unfamiliar locale for Jax.)
For some reason Imperial stormtroopers were patrolling the city. There was a squad of four troops menacing the northern blast doors of the main pedestrian thoroughfare through the city, right between the park – illuminated by the morning sun of Byblos through the outer transparisteel wall which revealed the vista outside – and the many levels of terraced office buildings and apartment blocks propped up against the opposite wall across the large space that was Blue-772.
Jax thought he would have no trouble going through the troops, but as he walked past the lead stormtrooper barked, “Halt!”
“I see you carry a Relby-k23 blaster pistol,” he said gesturing to Jax’s thigh holster. “It’s restricted. Do you have a permit for that?”
“Yes, I do.” Jax displayed his permits.
“House Benelex, eh?’ the squad leader with the T-21 light repeating blaster said. “Bounty hunters are scum. But I can live with the House Benelex hunters. Carry on.”
The Descent To The Depths
Jax passed through the threshold and entered a large enclosed transport hallway, one of many that ringed Tower 214 through its structure. Speeders flew in their lanes overhead. Tube stations sprouted on travel tube lines along the inner wall. Jax trundled on pedestrian walkways built with users’ safety in mind, past hundreds of other people and droids.
He took a travel tube that deposited him in another town section of the tower, which resembled Blue-772 but has a deep central chasm. He found an access stairwell that led him down to the bottom of the dark, badly-lit chasm where he had learned earlier an express elevator to the Brown levels existed. (A successful Streetwise roll of 15/8. He was getting the hang of the streets of Tower 214.)
The elevator door opened and a brutish Gamorrean waddled out. Jax looked at him a second too long and he growled drunkenly in barely understandable Basic, “What you look at?”
Jax wondered if he had to fight with a civilian, which will would be messy physically and legally. So he said, “Nothing.”
The Gamorrean grunted something that might have been “Okay” in basso profundo and staggered off to find the stairwell.
Jax got into the elevator cab, noted the voice command panel with a single red light and said, “Brown-212.” The red became green, the doors closed and the cab sped downward. Down, down, down past dozens and dozens of levels of huge docking bays to the wider than normal base of the tower which housed enormous engines of power generation, water processing, air filtering and garbage disposal and recycling.
Once the elevator stopped for no reason, creaked uncomfortably and all the lights went off except for the green on the panel. Jax thought he was in trouble until about ten seconds later when the lights returned and the cab went on its way.
How Delve, Brown-Two-Twelve?
The doors parted to reveal a corridor. Some lights are on, but most are dead. A number of them blinked on-and-off quickly and randomly. He stepped off the elevator cab. The floor plates were rusting away. Wall and ceiling plates too. Fluids seeped down the walls. There was an unavoidable less-than-comfortable smell in the air. Loud and not-so-loud thrumming and thumping of machines could be heard from beyond the walls.
“Spare some change!” someone said loudly right beside the elevator doors making Jax jump. It was a one-eyed, grizzled and undernourished old human in dire need of a bath sitting in his open tent surrounded by empty cans and containers of food, some bottles of water and candles. He said, “Ten credits for an unfortunate soul, mister.”
He thought for a moment, then gave the person a handful of coins. The man counted them with his fingers and said, “Why thank you, mister. Thank you! A hundred credits is much more than I have ever had on me in decades. Bless you…”
But Jax had already continued on. Behind him he heard the old man still mumbling on, “…I hope I don’t get mugged down here. So much money…”
He turned into a corridor with doors that lead to dwellings on both sides. There was a hiss-thump of a door closing but he could not see which door had closed. He continued.
“… I’m half-blind. How am I going to go buy things. I can’t even see past…” The voice of the old man behind him was overwhelmed by the background noise.
There was also a sudden spine-chilling scream of someone getting hurt echoing through the hallways, but Jax was unable to determine where it had come from (because Perception failure 8/12). So he continued cautiously.
As he walked down to the end of the corridor, a short, child-like figure – hooded and cloaked – appeared from the opposite end walking toward him. As it closed, Jax noticed that the hood was heavily soiled with mud and grease, some had caked up. The hood was a portal of shadow. Jax’s hand tensed, gripping the handle of his blaster in his holster.
The cloaked figure came closer and closer. And then passed Jax by without an incident. Jax let out a sigh of relief and continued.
Soon the corridor opened up into a larger chamber which appeared to have been a park once. Now it was littered with open containers, large crates and tents along with their denizens. Because of his weapon, they gave him a wide berth.
Nice to See a Familiar Face
Jax asked around (and failed a Streetwise roll 8/12) to learn if anyone had seen bounty hunters come this way in the last day but no one knew or said anything. Until one overexcited Kitonak with a high-pitched voice rushed up to him. “Bounty hunter? I know bounty hunter! Bounty hunter this way! Come! Come! Go!”
The small, dumpy Kitonak led Jax into a small antecorridor with more connecting corridors that were smaller. And darker. “Bounty hunter here! Bounty hunter friend! Go! Go!” The pale-skinned Kitonak kept urging Jax to go down the corridor.
Jax thought that the Kitonak was annoying, but if the bounty hunters came through here are he did not investigate…
He slowly stepped into the dark corridor. Behind him he saw the Kitonak barely unable to express his glee causing Jax to have a bad feeling about this.
Out of the shadows stepped a figure wearing a grimy coverall, a dark brown jacket and a familiar pair of horns on his bald head… looking belligently menacing.
Well, trying to look menacing.
It was the unfortunate mugger whose Gran partner Jax had blasted into a smoking heap on his first day on Byblos. Both blurted out together, “It’s you.”
Then the Devaronian screamed several octaves too high and fled into the darkness. A second later the somewhat dull Kitonak looked at Jax, looked at where the Devaronian was, looked back at Jax and then whistled in panic, “Noooo! Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me!” and also made himself scarce. Jax thought he had better things to do than to chase after the muggers.
He returned to the disused park and started asking around again. (Streetwise roll success of 19/12!) One homeless Quarren with a missing right arm told him that the previous day he saw a trio of bounty hunters come through the park. One after another they went down the west stairwell that led down to the levels that even the locals do not wander to. Too many dangerous machines and uncatalogued junk below.
Jax found the stairwell and descended.
The Increasing Heat
Two levels beneath the park, the lighting was brighter though more yellowish. It smelled like ten flavours of garbage dump. The passageway led to a last corridor with lots of old junk and discarded machines on the floor, strewn about with pipes and hoses. On the left were old disused hangar bays. On the right were heavy blast doors that had rusted closed.
The first hangar bay held a number of artefacts that looked like war machines. Droids. Relics of the Clone Wars. There might have been debris from what used to be a Vulture droid. He drew his blaster and kept moving. The sudden hums, creaks and hisses were quite distracting.
The hangar bay door was enormous. He walked by several closed blast door on the opposite side of the corridor before he discovered one that was open. He peeked inside. It was a junk warehouse with a furnace in the middle. A conveyor belt that began beyond the mounds of scrap metal further within was feeding junk into the furnace.
In between the junk on the conveyor belt, Jax noticed a figure. (Perception success of 11/10, thankfully.) He darted within to investigate, having only perhaps ten seconds before the figure was incinerated. The figure was unconscious and had several blaster injuries on his torso. It was the Nimbanel bounty hunter Tulon Tash!
It took two tries (Strength check: round one failure at 7/10, round two success at 12/10) for Jax to pull him off the conveyor belt onto the grimy floor, with the heat of the furnace causing him to sweat profusely. Tash was dying! Cursing his lack of a medpac, he popped open Tash’s belt pouches where he found one.
Tash was his only link to the mark right now. Jax steeled and calmed himself. He opened up the medpac and quickly and skilfully applied triage gear to stop bleeding and drugs to decrease trauma upon his circulatory system. (A Force Point was spent here to double the First Aid roll which succeeded.) Semi-conscious, the Nimbanel began speaking, “Too powerful! Too powerful!”
His right hand unclenched and there was a small holoprojector in his palm. Jax took it and thumbed a button.
“Who was this person who was too powerful?” Jax wondered.
A Shooting War Begins and Ends
Then behind him, there came sounds of running boots in the corridor outside. A gravelly voice exclaimed, “He found the holoprojector! He cannot be allowed to continue. Kill him!”
Jax spun and saw an unknown Siniteen in an orange and green coveralls flanked by a pair of masked enforcers in a red uniform. The two enforcers drew their blaster pistols. Jax grabbed Tash and pulled him into cover behind an engine of a Y-wing fighter as bolts rained on them.
He peered over the engine and saw the Siniteen about to throw a grenade, saying, “Let’s finish this quickly.”
As he threw, Jax loosed a blaster bolt. (He rolled 22 for Blaster skill against a difficulty of 21!) It hit. There was a burst of light and smoke. The two enforcers were on the ground motionless. (One was Incapacitated and the other Mortally Wounded.) Astonishingly, the Siniteen remained standing. He aimed and fired his DL-18 blaster at Jax but thankfully missed.
Jax returned fire. The Siniteen tried to dodge out of the way (with a Combat Dodge roll than increased his difficulty to hit from 12 to 14). But the bolt struck the Siniteen dead centre in the torso, (a roll of 26, exceeding the Difficulty to hit by more than 10 which according to our house rules gives a +1D to the damage) which should have killed him. But apparently large thick high-density metal button intercepted the deadly bolt, causing a large explosion of sparks but still did not kill him. (The Damage roll was 2+2+1+1+1, plus +2… a measly 9? How was this possible? Meanwhile the Strength roll to resist damage was 13. That Damage roll though.)
In pain and distressed the Siniteen attempted to flee. Jax walked forward, his blaster pointed at the enemy bounty hunter and fired. The blaster bolt shot out toward the Siniteen… but missed, instead, flying into and striking some crates in the hangar bay, which sparked and then tumbled loudly in the shadows. (The shot failed with a Blaster score of 14/15.)
Jax hit his helmet comlink button and said, “This is Jax Hunt in Brown-212 to Emergency Services. Bounty hunter down. Need medical assistance.”
Reply was a cold static buzz.
“I’m too deep under the tower,” Jax said to himself. He was about to carry Tash when he noticed more sparking and whirring of hydraulics in the shadows in the hangar bay across the corridor. Small pair of lights came alive and bobbed up and down in the darkness. Sparks continue to flash as if from an exposed electrical conduit.
One of the pair of lights seemed to move forward and into the illumination of the corridor. Jax kept himself out of sight. The pair of lights turned out to be the eyes of a bipedal droid. It staggered drunkenly out of the hangar bay, followed by two others. They were armed with a blaster rifle and a vibrosword. Jax knew what it was: a two-decade old BX-series commando droid.
One of these things were deadly. He faced three.
- Irfan used up all his previous Character Points to upgrade his Language and Dodge skills at the start and gained 5 Character Points in the end.
- He regained the Force Point he spent to roll First Aid for Tulon Tash.
- Skywalker? Wha-?
- I actually had an encounter in mind where an animal from the book below attacks Jax Hunt. I will save it for a later adventure.