The Bounty Hunter

She arrived one day. She wasn’t there the day before or the day after but she was then there one day. Unannounced of course. Nothing ever announced her arrival, nor could it. That was unheard of and probably impossible. Although her arrival was never announced, it was always noticed. It was as inconceivable to not notice that she had arrived as it was impossible to detect she was on her way. So it was and so it had always been, and so, as far as anyone knew, it always would be. The other thing anyone knew was her title, The Bounty Hunter. First name: Bounty. Last name: Hunter. Salutation: The. If she had another name, it wasn’t known and it was seriously doubted she even had one. She was a being of unknown origin and lesser known species. It was believed that she might have been some remnant of a possible lost alien race or a genetic experiment gone awry, or both, although none could say with any certainty. What they could say with some certainty was what she looked like: a colossus of a being, vaguely humanoid in form with a mess of tentacles which adorned her head like a mane, her skin albino in the right light but constantly shifting otherwise. Her hands were delicate and huge, made for steady intricate work but able to crush stone, while her massive legs ended in menacingly metallic hooves which gleamed in the sun.  Her hooves thundered with each step, aside from when she didn’t want them to of course. When she wanted them to be, her steps were as soft a caress, as silent as death. But then there were the eyes. So many, many eyes. Eyes that were beady and dark in the centre of what could be considered her face but with a collection of red eyes slim enough to be considered slits round the circumference of that same face. She never seemed to be looking directly at you but rather around you and through you, her gaze inescapable and all-encompassing.

 

She hadn’t been called of course. No one ever calls The Bounty Hunter. She always comes of her own accord whenever she senses a bounty is to be found. So it had always been and so it was. How she knows that a bounty might be found is, like most things about her, unknown. She just did. The people of Ylenol hadn’t even announced a bounty for the pilot and crew of the Zeppulian. They had only discovered that the blast which had destroyed their beloved faraway moon had come off the Zeppulian a couple of hours ago. The knowledge hadn’t yet fully circulated across the planet although that was mostly because news travels slowly when most people live out of the way. Yet somehow she knew. And she accepted the bounty before it was even offered with only a slight nod of what could be considered her head, her many eyes closing in what was taken to be a sign of acceptance as her tentacles swished. All knew that she had accepted the bounty without a word being exchanged. She had merely walked up to the Ylenol League of United Places’ headquarters, her every step a thundercrack, and nodded in view of the assembled dignitaries and the bounty was accepted. How much the bounty would be exactly was something to be determined at a later date by incredibly anxious and frantic accountants, the Ylenol League of United Places agreed. It was one of the very few unanimous decisions in the League’s long history. No one on Ylenol cared much for accountants, least of all Ylenolese accountants. As a rule, accountants on Ylenol were filled with profound self-loathing and despised their profession deeply, which coincidentally enough were two key requirements for any successful accountant on Ylenol. Part of the reason the accountants would become so anxious in the near future is that it was understood that The Bounty Hunter would want to be paid in Zands, the intergalactic currency. Where this become a troubling issue for the Ylenolese accountants is that their cultural capital of musical snobbery didn’t exchange easily into Zands, resulting in complex equations and panicked cries of “Why?! For the love of all that is sacred, why?!”. For her part, The Bounty Hunter never seemed to cared much for the size of the bounty. Indeed there was little indication she cared about Zands at all but once she accepted a bounty, it was accepted. It had been said by the sort of people who say such things that once The Bounty Hunter accepted a bounty nothing can stop her from finding her prey apart from death, and even then it wasn’t a sure bet. But that’s exactly the sort of thing people who say such things would say.


Having accepted her bounty, The Bounty Hunter walked back to her spaceship, bringing forth a thunderstorm of noise. She evidently felt the need to make her presence noticed and so it was noticed by everyone nearby. She didn’t come across many Ylenolese since they mostly lived out of the way but some children stood in the street and stared at her as she approached, they had yet to learn how to keep out of the way like an adult. They retreated in terror to the shelter of their homes as she walked past though, her steps shaking the ground intimidatingly and kicking up dust. Later some of the children would say that The Bounty Hunter gave a slight smile of satisfaction as they scurried away but how they could tell if her beak was twisted into a smile was anyone’s guess. Eventually The Bounty Hunter arrived at her spaceship, the Nullus. As sleek like a streak of black in the night, it was essentially undetectable by sight as it blended seamlessly into the void of space. It furthermore appeared as an amorphous structure which seemed to change every time you looked at it. The only constant was that no matter its shape was that it was always sleek and as black as the nothingness which exists outside the realms of perception. The Bounty Hunter entered the Nullus through what seemed to be a door which disappeared as soon as it had appeared. Inside her spaceship, The Bounty Hunter took a moment of quiet reflection as she slowly took off some of the various weaponry she wore at all times when she was outside the Nullus. She also let the suspense build for the people of Ylenol as they waited anxiously for the spaceship to take off. Once unadorned of the deadly destructo-stick she had slung over her shoulder, The Bounty Hunter initiated her spaceship’s take off procedure. This consisted of sticking a huge yet delicate finger into a portion of the amorphous console in front of her. It was a portion which was slightly more black than the rest of the console, although none but The Bounty Hunter would likely be able to notice the difference. As the Nullus took off, it began to emit a low, taunting hum. A hum which shook the planet ever so slightly and reverberated throughout Ylenol’s solar system. A hum which signaled that The Bounty Hunter had accepted a bounty. For one more of the very few things known about The Bounty Hunter is that sometimes, only sometimes, she wanted her prey to know that she is on the hunt and gives them fair warning.