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The Janus XI chronicles
Part 1: Happy Birthday Valdamar
by: Montystalin

Valdamar eyes his bounty assessing him like a piece of meat figuring out whether it was worthy of the amount of time and effort he has invested in capturing this silly slicer-wannabe. 2000 credits, enough but not a lot.

"Wait, how much money does the reward offer for my capture?" "2000 credits. Now shut up and go to sleep. It'll hurt less." "But I can tell you how to get 10 times that amount. You just have to believe me. Pleaaaasse don't hand me over to them. They'll kill me pleaaase let me go pleaaase."

He hates bounties that whine. Usually the U-tech stun baton over the head will be enough to shut them up but he always listens when ever the victims offer him a better deal. Most don't genuinely have the money and try to run away but Valdamar can never resist. In a universe where the all mighty C of credits reign supreme any talk of money has his undivided attention. It's true, most bounty hunters don't care in the end except getting paid. And in a time like this when there is a war between Imperials and the Rebels there is a boom in the bounty business. Soon everyone, including Valdamar wants to be a very rich and successful bounty hunter.

"Ok. Keep it simple stupid and talk." "Skank Dragons! There is a black market for them. Ever since the local planetary government have declared them as a protected species there has been orders from rich business men who wants a head of a Skank Dragon on their trophy room. They are offering more than 20000 credits for a head."

Skank Dragons are intelligent semi-humanoid lizards. They live in the rainforest region of the planet and are extremely aggressive carnivores. So aggressive that apart from mating Skank Dragons are rarely seen together and will kill each other if one strays into the others territory. They stand semi-erect at 1.5 meters and quite possibly 2 meters if fully erect. Like monkeys they have a long prehensile tail with lots of vertebrae and a soft leathery skin that allows it to be used as a fifth limb to climb up trees. Although it has claws its forelimbs have a dexterous hand and are capable of opposing its digits and have the ability to wield a blaster if it was intelligent enough.

They lack the big claws and teeth that make them as scary as a rancor or a krayt dragon but never the less they are extremely aggressive. Due to over hunting and mating is rare for the species the Skank Dragons are declared endangered species. Only an idiot government would protect such a voracious animal.

"Firstly I already know about that." That's a lie. Lets see if he can offer me anything better. "Secondly why wouldn't those rich men just hire a hunting party and go kill it themselves."

"You may know about it but do you have the ranger's permit to enter the enclosed compound? Do ya do ya?? Secondly a hunting party makes too much noise and is more likely to attract the attention of the rangers. Only one person with the electronic pass has a higher chance of sneaking pass those rangers undetected. I'm sure you can sneak pass the rangers since you are so good at sneaking up to me I mean I'm sure you've done it so many times sneaking up that you are so good at it you must."

"Shut up. You are groveling. OK I'll think about it. But I'll still need you in my ship to slice me up a pass. So sleep!" As the cold surface of the electrically charged baton touches his bounty's head his body went limp like a ragged doll.

2 days later Valdamar sets up on a large tree branch high enough with a large field of view and low enough not to have too many branches and leaves blocking his field of view. His whole body covered by a camouflage cloth and netting and with his guns rubbed in mud so that the gunmetal is not showing he manage to blend into the background of the tree. While subconsciously aiming and scanning the area for the Skank Dragon he thought about random things to keep himself from being bored.

'Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me..Happy birthday Valdamar you idiot. Happy birthday you fool. Can't believe I'm up here. It's hot it's boring I can't believe hunting animals are harder than people. People are dumb, they make silly mistakes. Animals are dumber but I don't have a clue what I'm doing. So who's the dummy now huh?'

His new SoroSuub targeter he invested for this hunt was spectacular. This piece of engineering marvel highlights the colour making everything more vivid and more contrasting. The outline of every tree, every branch, every leaf can be seen easily as the colour brightness and density is different for each object. Shadowing and different colour shade is eliminated making it easier to spot objects. 'Damn expensive though, I should have brought their shares way before they got the Imperial contract to supply the stormtroopers with SoroSuub rifles.'

Meanwhile a adolescent Skank Dragon picks up a peculiar scent mixed along with the scent of fresh meat. Although he has never tasted the Janus XI ice wine coming from Valdamar's breath his instinct tells him that it does not belong to the area and he should investigate.

Valdamar unaware that there has been a shift in the wind and the Skank Dragon has now picked up on his scent. His mind is now thinking of how easy it was that the slicer manage to hack into the planetary conservation computer and sliced up a keycard. He also couldn't believed how easy it was sneaking pass the ranger's through the smallest and least important firetrack leading into the reserve. Only a small gate with no one watching and the only security is the door that can be opened using the keycard. Too bad he let the slicer go, slicing was never something he was good at. Then again the slicer is so dumb Valdamar could have just caught him again if this was all just a big joke.

Suddenly there was a big tug on his legs followed by some sharp pain. Next he finds himself winded as he is knocked 3 meters down from the tree onto the ground collecting a branch on the way down. He was still stunned and coughing when the Skank climbs down the tree. Suddenly his arms are pinned back above his head while the Skank Dragon sniffs his face trying to figure out what sort of meat he is.

"Smell this!" Valdamar violently slams his helmeted head into the snout of the Skank Dragon and manage to wriggle free while it is shocked that anything has the audacity to hit him back. This young Skank Dragon has never encountered hunters before and, being at the top of the food chain, is use to preys running away rather than fighting back.

Pulling out his vibroknife Valdamar felt helpless. He has never fought without his rifle before and for the first time he is engaging melee combat with something more well built for hand to hand combat. The Skank leap at him and slashed at him with inhuman speed. Holding his hands in front to protect him he drops the knife as both his forearm are scratched and clawed viciously. Finally knocking him over the Skank tries to take a bite at Valdamar's head. Instinctively Valdamar slams his hands into the Skank's head to try and push it away. His right middle finger manage to find its target on the Skank's eye easily piercing the soft viscous membrane of its eye and into the brain cavity. With the force on his side he manage to sink his fingers deep enough to kill the Skank.

Minutes later he finally managed to find the strength to roll the dead Skank off his body and get up. Grabbing the vibroknife he slowly sliced the head off and made sure it doesn't get anymore damaged. A damage head should still at least fetch him 10000 credits. Suddenly he sees 3 rangers appearing from the trees and damn one of them happens to carry a pistol which was pointing his way.

"Lemme guess. You got lost and decided to kill one of the most endangered species," said one of the rangers.

'This is going to be a very lousy birthday.' Valdamar thought to himself as he is lead away by the rangers.

To be continued...

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