Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Hal/Steve, Iris West, Althor and his slave, Bren Darl, Lon Rapp, Drex Rattan
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. As Bruce and Clark try and adjust to being lovers as well as Master and slave, on a warm spring night a new member of the Wayne Household is added: a little boy whom Bruce sadly identifies with. Dick Grayson further pushes Bruce along the path of Abolitionism as the child brings further Light into the Manor. The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): PG-13
Summary: Steve, Hal and Iris find themselves in the middle of a Hunt.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): September 23, 2007
Date Of Posting: June 20, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1678
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
“…a Hunt Decree shall be placed on the head of every Kryptonian,
so ordered by the Galactic Empire until such time as it shall be lifted.”
President Maxx Ardelle
Steve and Hal flew the ship to the docking port orbiting around Cestus III. They escorted their passengers out, Althor looking anxiously back at his ship.
“Welcome, Ambassador West, Lord Althor. I’m Bren Darl.” A sturdy, smiling man with a red ponytail and beard shook everyone’s hands except for Althor’s slave. He was a Norvad, a race of strong, smiling Warriors. “Follow me.”
The docking bay’s walls were scarred and dented, burn marks scorching the gray metal. The corridors were battered, ceiling lights flickering as they walked to the office area.
“Sorry for the condition of the space station. We haven’t fully recovered from the Collective attack we suffered some time ago.”
“We understand,” said Hal.
“We can offer you very limited quarters up here while my engineers check out your ship, Lord Althor.”
“I appreciate it, Tor Darl,” Althor said, using the Norvad word for ‘Mister’. “Of course you will be well-compensated for this by the Royal House of Jorelle.”
“It’ll be the Empire that sends the bill, m’lord,” Bren said cheerfully. “Now, you can also shuttle down to the surface where even though things are just as battered, you’ll have fresh air and larger quarters, because I have to tell you, repairs could take awhile.”
“We will consider that,” Althor said. “I will stay here, but Ambassador, you and the majors needn’t wait.”
“We still have to refuel, m’lord,” Hal said.
“All right then,” said Bren. “Here are your quarters.”
The small set of rooms were cramped and nearly bare of amenities. After using the bathroom, Steve wandered out to the common room. The other rooms were connected to this hub, and Steve was restless. He didn’t like the claustrophobic feeling, and walked down to the command center.
A burly, disheveled, bearded man was watching a monitor. Steve saw a landspeeder zipping over the rocky terrain.
“Whoo hoo!” crackled a voice over the comm unit. “Got one over by them rocks!”
“Make sure you collect the body, or the Bounty won’t be paid out.”
“Hey, I’ve done Hunts before. Don’t worry.”
The burly man barked out his laughter. Steve judged him to be another Norvad, but this man was not the jovial type like the redhead.
Steve saw a laser beam flash out and a boulder crumble. A flash of color flashed through the rocks. The prey?
The Norvad turned and frowned. “Can I help you?”
A gap-toothed grin split the broad face. “We’re refuelin’ your ship. It’ll take several hours.”
“We’re all right with that.”
The Norvad turned back to the monitor. “Careful, boy-o. You don’t want to get vaporized by the prey!”
“These Kryps don’t have weapons. Like shooting fish in a barrel.”
“Wow, running down unarmed people takes real skill.” Steve’s sarcasm was heavy.
The Norvad guffawed. “When the Empire puts a Hunt Decree on ya, you’re toast.”
Steve felt his stomach clench as he watched the landspeeder maneuver through a canyon. The pilot was uncanny in the way he handled his craft.
A hand on his shoulder made him jump. He recognized Hal’s touch and relaxed into it.
“So, a Hunt in action?” Hal asked.
“Dang! I thought I had ‘er!”
“Sounds like a female victim,” Hal murmured.
Steve felt sick to his stomach, then an idea hit him. “Um, Tor…”
“Lon Rapp. And it’s Major, like you. Bren, too.”
“Major Rapp, where is Bren Darl?”
Rapp waved a hand vaguely in a westerly direction. “Lookin’ at the fancypants’ ship.”
Steve tugged Hal out of the command center. “I want to go down to the surface.”
“With my life,” Hal said with a twinkle.
They found the redhead in the landing bay, discussing repairs with his Chief Engineer.
“Oh, hello, gentlemen. Your refueling is going well.”
“Excellent, Tor Darl,” Steve said.
“Call me ‘Bren’.”
“Okay, Bren.” Steve smiled warmly. “Hal and I want to go planetside.”
“Surely. I know you won’t be needin’ a pilot.”
Steve laughed. “That’s right.”
“This way, gentlemen.”
“Hal! Steve!” Iris hurried up to them. “I want to go, too!”
“Aren’t you entertaining Lord Althor?” Hal asked.
Iris smirked. “Believe me, Lord Althor is being entertained quite nicely by his Je’zel.”
The two men exchanged grins.
“Okay, Iris, let’s go,” Hal said, guiding her to the shuttle.
Once they were airborne, Iris shuddered. “I stopped at the command center. I hate these damned Hunts.”
“This particular Hunter seems a little too enamored of his work, yes,” Hal said wryly.
“He’s scum,” said Steve bluntly. “These Bounty Hunters are ruthless, cold-hearted bastards. Big, courageous guys chasing unarmed men and women.”
“We can’t interfere with a Hunt,” Iris said worriedly.
“We won’t. At least, no one will think we have.”
Hal smiled slyly. “What have you got up your sleeve, Stevie?”
& & & & & &
Bren entered the command center, contempt curling his lip. “Did Drex make his collar yet?”
“Skeevy little Rigellian is a helluva pilot, but his quarry is elusive.”
“Is he even sure it’s a Kryptonian?”
“He must be. Govs don’t like murder, at least by private citizens, so he’d better be right.”
“Funny how an Empire-sanctioned killing is okay, but it’s murder if it’s not.”
“The ol’ Gov ace-in-the-hole.”
Bren agreed with Lon on that point. He frowned as he listened to Drex Rattan’s chatter. Some people just loved to Hunt.
He initiated a scan of the surface below.
“Why aren’t you joining him?”
Lon grinned, the gaps between his teeth showing. “Hey, I’m on duty, man.” He shrugged. “Besides, I don’t go for unarmed prey. I like a fair fight.”
“So why are you watching?”
“I like to see his piloting skill.”
“Well, he’s got plenty of that.” Bren frowned at a reading. “Did you know there’s a ship on the planet?”
Bren rattled off the coordinates and Lon came over to look. “That never registered.”
Bren slapped the monitor. “This equipment’s been off since the Collective attack.”
“We’d better get to work identifying it.”
& & & & & &
Steve, Hal and Iris stepped into the courtyard of the small set of outbuildings. Pre-fab and gunmetal-gray, it was a typical construct of the Empire. Iris had changed to more practical clothing: pants, boots, and a short-sleeved shirt. She wore no jewelry except her watch. Kicking at a pile of rubble, she said, “I wonder if this place will ever be repaired.”
“Eventually it will,” Hal replied. “But your grandkids might be the beneficiaries.”
Steve snorted. “We should search this place, then head out to the ship.”
“Agreed.” Hal checked his phaser.
The search did not take long. They found no refugees that might be targets of an eager Bounty Hunter. Taking a swig from his water bottle, Steve said, “Ready for a little hike?”
The sun was warm but not uncomfortable as they walked the two miles to the ship they had seen from the sky.
It was a nondescript vessel with Gemonese markings.
“Of course there wouldn’t be Kryptonian markings,” Iris said.
“I wonder how many people landed?” Steve touched the smooth metal.
“At least one, of course.” Hal shaded his eyes to look at the surrounding landscape. “I hope it’s only one.”
“I’ve read reports on the Kryptonians,” Iris said. “They’re scattered all over the galaxy in small groups. They can pass for other races, such as Human, and have blended in, keeping themselves out of harm’s way.”
“Do all the refugees blend in?”
“No. Some prefer a nomadic existence. Others believe their day is coming, especially if Kal-El comes to lead them.”
“Only son of Jor-El and Lara of the House of El, the Kryptonians’ Ruling House. Some consider him a messianic savior.”
“So why hasn’t he put in an appearance?” Steve asked.
“It’s possible he never survived Krypton exploding, though some say he was placed in a rocket to escape the Great Destruction.”
“How old was he?”
“Just a baby.”
“Ouch,” Hal said.
“A baby?” Steve was saddened. “I hope he did survive. Too many babies didn’t make it.”
Iris noticed the look of pure love that Hal gave Steve. She smiled.
“So, we should set the plan in motion,” Hal said.
“Let’s.” Steve grinned.
& & & & & &
Bren put down his datapad. “Gemonese markings.”
“The Kryptonian is obviously trying to pass.”
“I wonder why she stopped here?”
“I don’t know.”
Bren grimaced. “She’ll probably have no chance to tell us.”
Lon silently agreed.
& & & & & &
Steve and Hal piloted the shuttle to the quadrant where Drex Rattan was Hunting.
“There,” Hal said, pointing to Drex’s landspeeder.
The landspeeder was docked on the hard ground, the pilot sprinting to the rocky outcropping were his ‘speeder could not go. The Rigellian carried a powerful laser rifle.
Hal and Steve landed the shuttle a half-mile away. While Iris stayed with the shuttle, the men stealthily made their way to the ‘speeder, their own phasers drawn.
Iris paced back and forth in front of the shuttle, occasionally glancing at the direction in which Hal and Steve had gone.
Half an hour later, the duo re-appeared.
“Let’s go!” Hal sprinted toward the shuttle.
They took off, hovering in the air. A small, swift figure emerged from the outcropping, raced off toward the Gemonese ship, and climbed aboard.
Drex Rattan was in hot pursuit…until his landspeeder wouldn’t start. Cursing, he started a systems check while the Gemonese ship took off, climbing high into the atmosphere.
Hal and Steve piloted the shuttle back to the space station.
& & & & & &
“Ship leaving Cestus III orbit, sir,” said Lon.
Lon grinned. “Actually, I was mistaken.”
Bren smiled. “Let’s get the Javelin repaired quickly, eh?”
Lon nodded and contacted the Chief Engineer as Bren watched the Gemonese ship head far away from Cestus III.