The Bounty Hunter

The Bounty Hunter

The Girl arrived in Century Station on the Southern Interstate AmTrak Bullet-class train no.3.  She was almost blinded as sun started to dip into the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Mexico, casting a molten golden glow over the city and lighting her personal compartment.  I almost feel like I should be putting on wizard’s robes and getting ready for the sorting ceremony, she thought to herself as she grabbed her Disney’s Descendants 2 backpack and her dad’s walking stick, and made her way onto the platform.

She was assaulted by a banner, ‘Breakfast in LA, Dinner in Miami.  S.AmTrak – Keeping you connected!’ as she left the station’s arching gateway.  “Oh, dear! I’m so sorry! Hey, are you new here?  That jacket is so cute!  Here, let me help you out of that… There you go!  So are you new here?” As soon as her vision was cleared of egg-printed vinyl, she saw the most glamorous functionary she’d ever seen.  Gorgeous makeup, bangles and bracelets on her arms, bejeweled bows in her hair, dangling sparkly earrings, a pearl-covered necklace… between you and me, though, she was tacky more than glamorous.

“Uh… Yeah?” The Girl said, overwhelmed, glancing at the train accelerating away from the station to suit its namesake.

“That’s so fun!  Well, if you want a map to the city, I’ll be at my desk in a sec – just as soon as I fix this thing.” the worker said, shaking the handfuls of banner slightly.

“Can I help?”  The Girl asked hopefully.  She’d felt useless most of her life in Austin. She picked the walking stick back up, and with the other hand grabbed the banner’s corner.  With a look of concentration, she flew with the banner to the snapped binding cord. Tucking the walking stick under her armpit, she fiddled with the cord’s ends until she thought it would hold.

“Hey, that’s pretty cool! I didn’t know you were a super.  Who’s your sponsor? Or are you a Maverick?” The last was said with a mischievous grin as she walked to the information booth.  

“Neither.  I’m not strong enough to fight bad guys.”

“Oh whatever.  I’m sure you can handle yourself.  Anyone that can dress that fierce and fly can do anything.  So you wanted a map to Century Station?”

“Yeah, and have you heard of S.A.V.I.O.R?”

“Here’s the map, but I don’t think I’ve heard of them.  Are they new?”

“Uh, I don’t think so… but they haven’t done a lot, I don’t think.”

“That explains it.  You’re right here, Kilgore, in Mid-Town.  Sorry we’re a bit out of the way, but AmTrak wanted the bullet lines as far from ground zero as possible… Less chance of accidental superhero damage.”  She giggled a bit airily, and The Girl decided she didn’t like the Information Booth lady. Most super heroes tried their hardest to keep the city safe, and that included stupid train employees.

“Well, thanks for the map!  Bye!” She leapt into the air and flew toward the heart of Mid-Town. She went to the offices of Willingham Recovery Services, Inc. to get her apprenticeship badge and first job – She left Austin at lunch 6 hours ago, so she was a bit antsy.  Ever since she had her change, she couldn’t stay in one spot for very long. The only reason she used the train was because she’d always wanted to as a kid.  If not for that she’d have taken half that time to get to Century Station.

“Welcome to Willingham Recovery Services Incorporated, how can I help you?” The man behind the desk had a very nice smile, like a non-scary clown, but a glamorous one that would perform at a fancy ball.

“Uh… Yeah. I… Uh…  Here.” Her heart started to thud in her chest as she tried to figure out what she needed to say, hoping the note was enough.

“Hmm… Oh.  Well, welcome to the team!  Gary’s on the second floor. Follow this wall here around the corner and to the very end, and you’ll see a staircase.  His office is the first one to the right of the top of the stairs. Good luck babe!” He handed her a plastic badge with the number “15” written on it in sharpie, and the word “Visitor” printed in red.  She followed his instructions the best she could, but it was a really big building, and she started to feel really small. Sometimes she had panic attacks, and she could feel one starting up. As her breath started to come in gasps she screwed up her courage and screamed with her mouth closed, chasing the pressure from her chest.  She finished her voyage shakily, knocking on the heavy wooden door with “Garry Gergich” printed on the plaque. 

“Come in!” Came a jovial voice from the office.  The Girl opened the door, finally feeling the worst of her nerves calm down. “Welcome to Century Station! Was your train ride ok?”

“Yeah.”  Though she hadn’t spoken to the man more than twenty minutes on the phone, he acted like she were an old acquaintance or maybe a daughter.  She didn’t mind, it was nice to have somewhere that didn’t feel like a cold, empty potato-salad container. She probably wouldn’t have many more of these warm places before she dropped in on Nicky – but she wanted to make it on her own before that, so he could see how much she’d changed!

“Well, come on in!  Oh, that’s my dog, Lord Sheldon.  He’s old and hurting, so he’s hanging out with me for a while.” He said, noticing The Girl’s gaze fall on an obese corgi laying in a well-used dog bed by the polished wood desk.  The man behind the desk was very heavy-looking, almost bursting the large argyle sweater vest he had on. Despite being a comfy temperature, his face was flushed, with sweat dripping from his nose.  His salt-and-pepper hair seemed well-coiffed, though.

“OOH! He’s SOO FOOFY!  He’s so cute! Can I pet him?”  She asked, forgetting she wanted to act like a grown up.  

“Yeah, sure.  He doesn’t get many visitors that like being here,” he chuckled.  “You’re different from what I thought you’d be. When you told me what you can…”

“But I still have a job, right?  You talked to my last employer. I got at least 1 runner a week!” She interjected worriedly.

“Yeah, you still have a job!  I’ve dealt with supers enough to know the outside rarely matches the inside.  Just know that some of the people you’ll deal with may think you’re wake.. Weak… and try to take advantage.” His face clouded at the wrong word.  It seemed he did things like that pretty often, like his brain was a faulty speak n’ spell toy.

“I know.  It’s funny to see their faces when I beat ’em up!”

“HA! Yeah, I bet!  Anyway, come on over so I can show you the forms you’ll be using.” he beckoned to a chair on his side of the desk.

“Oh, ok!” She picked Lord Sheldon up and put him on her lap as she sat down.  She could hear an ancient song playing on his computer she hadn’t noticed from the door.  Some song with a fast beat, and strings. ‘You’re toxic I’m slippin’ under…’   The desk was strewn with papers.  On his side of the desk, pointed at an angle so she could see it, was a new-looking monitor, with a wireless keyboard and mouse in front of Garry.  The other corner, closer to her, was a group of family photos. Four gorgeous women surrounded Garry in matching sweaters in front of a tree. Garry and one of the women sitting on a rock in a green park.  Portraits of the three other women. Those must be his family… the girl thought to herself. It’s like they took all their cute from him, so he didn’t have any left.

She looked at the screen, and an APB was pulled up.  “Ah, yeah. This one’s not one of ours, it just got sent out, too.”  He clicked and another screen popped up with a boring-looking form. “This is what you’ll be using when you catch a runner.  It’s pretty similar to the ones you were using in Austin, there’re just a few extra sections here, some added questions about property damage… basically you shouldn’t have to worry about anything extra, because those are boxes that are used for Verd through Rouge level posters.” Seeing the confusion on her face, he explained, “Century Station has a wider variety of criminal than most places, and more independent Bounty Hunters with extraordinary skills.  To address this, CSPD implemented a tiered system for classifying criminals.”

He clicked a few times and pulled up a poster with a bunch of colors and shapes.  “Ok, so the six classifications, or tiers, are: Low, Mid, High, Verd, Jaune, and Rouge.  Why do they use French for the colors? I don’t know. Anywhoskies, the first three are for offenders that don’t have super powers, and as such you’ll be doing only those to start out.  Low is used when the bounty is a first-time offender, or for misdemeanors, or those that have fallen behind on payments to the city. Mid is for repeat offenders, and it’s generally used for Class II offences.  High is for repeat offenders that are a risk to anyone bringing them in, and for Class I offences.”

Seeing she was paying attention, scratching Lord Sheldon’s ear mindlessly, he continued. “Verd through Rouge are for Super humans.  Verd basically matches up for Low, Jaune with Mid, and Rouge for High, as far as criteria for rating the offender. Verd and Jaune have different levels within them, and they’re to show how many resources the offender has, the size of the crew he runs with, or if they are high powered supers.  Think of it as the number of qualified bounty hunters that should work together to take them in. Verd 1 is the easiest super-human bounty, while Verd 5 should be taken by a group of well qualified hunters. Jaune 1 may be easier for you to do than a Verd 5, because of the different factors that go into classifications.  Rouge is strictly for Sponsored Supergroups, and the CSPD sends those posters directly to the groups. BUT! You’re not gonna have to worry about those for a while! Now, do you have somewhere you’re staying?”

A bit taken off guard by the change of subject, she said, “Y…Yeah, My mo… I reserved a room at the Rothschild Hotel & Suites.”

“Perfect! That’s a nice place!  Gayle would kill me if I didn’t make sure you had somewhere to stay. Oh yeah! That reminds me.” He got out of his seat with a grunt and walked to a cabinet. “She made you some cookies. You do like cookies, don’t you?”

The Girl had to keep her excitement hidden. Cookies are her third favorite dessert, after brownies and ice cream. “Thanks, cookies aren’t bad.”

“Ok, when you’re ready, you can pick up a poster from any precinct.  I want you to get your posters from the precincts because that way the officers get to know you, and you know where you can bring your bounties.  I love getting to know the officers, and making new friends, don’t you? It’s so fun.”

“Thanks Garry! I’ll check back in when I get my first one.” The Girl put Lord Sheldon back in his bed, and walked past the cheerful man behind the desk, who said “Later chicky!” Then she left Wilmingham Recovery Services, Inc. to get her first bounty poster, and go to sleep in the first hotel room she’d ever had all by herself.

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