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Cyborg Hunter by Mark Boss (Spiral Arm Galaxy Story) Book

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Cyborg Hunter by Mark Boss (Spiral Arm Galaxy Story) Read Book Online And Download

Overview: CYBORG HUNTER: A former killer searches the galaxy for his kidnapped son.

Gett was a professional killer—a masked executioner who fought criminals to the death in the arena.

Now he works security on grimy cargo ships in the worst sector of the Spiral Arm. He is divorced, depressed, and has lost custody of his son.

When notorious pirate Sturge kidnaps Gett’s boy to use as a child soldier, Gett races to save him.

Sturge commands dozens of starships, hundreds of pirates, and an army of brainwashed child soldiers. Gett has two allies: a cyborg bounty hunter with her own agenda, and a cheerful mercenary who loves his work.

Gett may look like a broken-down spacer, but he’s a desperate father forced to return to what he does best. Kill.


Cyborg Hunter by Mark Boss (Spiral Arm Galaxy Story) Book Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Cyborg Hunter by Mark Boss (Spiral Arm Galaxy Story) Book





Cyborg Hunter by Mark Boss (Spiral Arm Galaxy Story) Book Read Online Chapter One


The Bad Gamble shoved through the night air of Inary 2. The beat-up, brown cargo ship came in sloppy, thumping down hard at the planet’s only spaceport.


Aboard the Bad Gamble, Gett unclipped his harness and hurried to the airlock. He used the ship’s external cameras to survey the port. Outside, a skinny kid in a maintenance cart dragged a flexible hallway from the wall of the port toward the starship.


Gett angled the camera to examine another cargo vessel sitting low on its struts near a well-lit warehouse. A young woman drove a tracked lifter from the starship’s ramp, unloading dirty bags of fertilizer.


The Trade Standard letters on the side of the other ship read Lucrative Possibilities. Gett’s fists clenched. Cully—the man he needed to question—was a mechanic on the Lucrative Possibilities. Gett had scratched both names onto a flat piece of copper scrap he kept in his pocket.


He rubbed the copper scrap between his fingers, thinking of his kidnapped son Pol. Cully was the link that would lead him to Pol. He had to find Cully.


The Lucrative Possibilities was already unloading, which meant it might leave as early as the next morning. The crew was probably enjoying their only night in town.


If he was going to save his son, he had to find Cully tonight.


The ground-crew kid mated the flexible hallway’s seal to the Bad Gamble’s outer airlock, and then banged on the wall of the ship to signal he was finished.


Gett yanked the inner door open. Before he could shut it, Tellore ambled into the airlock with his duffel bag and a long gun wrapped in a blanket. Gett closed the airlock and activated the sealing mechanism. After a moment, the inner door chimed to signal it was sealed.


“You’re not waiting for Pilot Aber and the others?” Tellore asked. “Aber has a short-term rental house.”


“No. I’m getting my own hotel room.” Gett checked the air pressure readings on the scratched screen. As soon as the pressure was equal, the airlock’s outer door opened, and Gett’s ears popped.


“Yeah, I’m sick of them too,” Tellore said.


The airlock led into the flexible hallway. Gett hadn’t told Tellore about Cully. He and Tellore were shipmates, but that didn’t make them partners. Or friends. “Let’s hope our identification packets pass scrutiny.”


Tellore yawned. “What?”


“We’re wanted men, traveling on false identities,” Gett said quietly. They’d shared that much during the long days in Ghost Space, although Gett had not told the tall mercenary how much the bounty on him was. No use in tempting people.


“We’re only wanted on some planets. I don’t think this planet wants us,” Tellore said with a wink.


They shuffled along the flexible hallway and entered the port office. The door behind them thumped shut and locked. They stood in a narrow lobby with an elevated office on their right, protected by a clear panel of projectile-resistant glass. Even sitting at a desk in the raised office, the gray-haired clerk’s eyes were only level with Gett’s.


Both he and Tellore were big. Not freaks of genetic tampering, but tall enough to look over heads in a crowd and muscled enough to fight through a riot.


The clerk had the waxy skin of someone who once worked under a hot sun but had spent the last several years indoors or incarcerated. She pointed at a cylinder resting in a pneumatic tube and spoke through a speaker set in the wall. “Place your identity packets inside and press the orange button. Thank you.”


They followed her directions. With a whoosh, the cylinder disappeared up the tube and into her fortified office. Gett watched her run a scanner over their identity packets. If Inary 2 had received copies of the most recent Wanted Notices, he and Tellore might have a problem.


“Wonder what response time is for the local constabulary?” Gett asked softly. He wasn’t sure if the woman in the office could hear them. A trickle of sweat ran down the back of his neck.


“I wonder how thick that glass is,” Tellore said with an evil grin.


“It’s taking her a while,” Gett whispered. Anything that delayed him from finding Cully could be a disaster. Even if he wasn’t arrested for traveling on a false identity packet, Gett couldn’t afford to waste time explaining himself to the locals.


Behind the glass, the woman licked one finger and flipped through the pages of their identity packets. She stopped to read a page and smiled.


“Relax. She’s just admiring my picture,” Tellore said, but the mercenary tugged at the frayed scarf covering the old chemical burn on his neck.


Gett rolled his eyes.


The pneumatic tube whooshed and the cylinder carrying their identity packets popped out. The woman said, “Thank you. Please move forward for parasite treatment.” The door ahead popped open.


The next room was as bare as the first, with a similar armored glass office to their left, and long rubber nozzles dangling from the ceiling.


In the glass office, an old man with a speckled bald head put down his seed catalog and leaned too close to the microphone. “Okay spacers, you know the routine. I suggest you shut your eyes. Breathing is up to you.”


“I hate this part,” Tellore said.


Gett shrugged. The port office was dingier than some, but no one wanted strangers to their planet bringing in new parasites, so the treatment was necessary. “They say the chemical is harmless.”


“That’s what they say,” Tellore said, pointing at the office. “I heard that one out of every thousand batches of gas they make is spoiled. You get a spoiled batch, and it leaves you impotent.”


Tellore took a huge inhale of air.


Gett stared at the mercenary, watching him hold his breath. The nozzles above their heads shook. Gett took a hasty breath and shut his eyes as the gas poured out of the rubber nozzles, filling the sealed room.


The gas felt cool and greasy on his shaved head. Gett held his breath, but he could still smell the gas. He imagined it seeping into his clothes and every orifice, waging a microscopic battle with the tiny organisms he’d doubtless picked up in the grimy spaceports and hideout hotels he’d trekked through in his pursuit of his stolen son.


With his eyes shut, fatigue leeched away the nervous energy he was running on and left Gett almost sick with exhaustion. Twenty days in Ghost Space with few duties other than standing watch for pirates and cleaning the commodes, yet Gett hadn’t had one good night of sleep.


He thought constantly of his son, Pol. After his wife divorced him and took their son to another planet, Gett thought Pol was not only safe but better off with his mother. Instead, Sturge—the most dangerous pirate in the Spiral Arm—kidnapped the boy and hundreds of other children. Sturge took the healthiest children and forced them to become child soldiers. The ones who showed a talent for fighting would be augmented with mechanical parts and turned into small yet lethal cyborgs. Disgusting half breeds made of metal, plastic, and flesh.


Cyborgs were less than human. Even worse, because their mechanical parts were wired directly into their brains, the Machines could hack cyborgs, turning them into mindless killers who murdered without hesitation.


Pol was smart and sturdy. He’d be a candidate for child soldier and eventually for a cyborg soldier.


The thought of his son as a half-breed subhuman killer made Gett want to scream.


So, he’d spent his nights pacing the cold corridors of the Bad Gamble, worrying about Pol and planning how to capture Sturge. The bounty on Sturge was enormous; capturing her was the only way to restore Gett’s old life and save his son. Cully could lead him to Sturge.


The carbon dioxide built up in his lungs. Gett let a trickle out between his lips to relieve the pressure. Next to him, he could feel Tellore rocking back and forth on his combat boots, trying to hold his breath in.


Impotence would be bad, but Gett was beginning to see spots of white like distant stars. And his eyes were still closed.


Gett opened his mouth and gagged on the anti-parasite gas. It stank of chlorine and corpses. Through the glass, he heard the old man laughing.


The air pressure in the room changed as the process reversed, and the pumps sucked the gas from the room. Gett opened his eyes and saw Tellore bend over to take a huge breath. The mercenary wobbled for a moment, one hand on the wall to steady himself.


Through the speaker the old man said, “Treatment complete. You’re free to go.”


“If I turn impotent, I’m gonna come back and murder that old bastard,” Tellore said.


The airlock cycled. They lifted their bags and staggered forward into the lobby. The waiting area was a depressing mix of gray flooring and hard plastic seats. A green toothbrush lay on the bare floor near the exit doors.


Tellore and Gett hurried outside into the hot night air. The sweet, glorious air. A wonderful mix of nitrogen and oxygen that did not taste like the recycled sludge they’d breathed the last twenty days—the ship’s air mix of grease, sweat, and stale urine.


Twenty days in Ghost Space was tough even on experienced spacers. Almost three weeks in the eerie emptiness of Ghost Space, where a lightyear passed in a single hour, allowing starships to travel the mind-bending distances between habitable planets. Four hundred eighty lightyears were a fraction of the galaxy’s long, spiral arm, but it was a very long way for five humans in a metal box.


Gett and Tellore had hired onto the Bad Gamble as Ordinary Laborers, which meant lifting and moving whatever they were told to lift and move. They loaded and stowed a cargo of potting soil, farm animal feed, seeds, and tools. During the trip, their only job was to load and fire the starship’s single gun if pirates, Bugs, Lizards, or Machines attacked. And to kill anything that came through the airlock.


On the tenth day in Ghost Space, Pilot Aber got so drunk he fell down an access shaft and broke his ankle. Day fourteen the husband-and-wife engineers got in a knife fight over the last piece of gomso fruit. And Tellore disappeared into the ship, ducking in and out of the corridors, dry firing an empty Sanguine Model 5 rifle. Practicing.


By the twentieth day, Gett wasn’t sure Tellore’s rifle was unloaded.


Yet somehow, they’d made it to Inary 2 without anyone dying.


Gett shook his head. Inary 2 sat in the Kill Zone, the place where hardscrabble human colonies trembled under the threats of human raiders, Machine invasions, Lizard warriors, and carnivorous swarms of Bugs.


The place where he might find Sturge and his son.


Five hundred paces beyond the yellow-orange lights of the port office, the town spread out along the base of a wide, flat-topped hill. The town was smaller and uglier than he expected. A few hundred buildings, but less than half of the structures were lit, and no vehicles moved along the grid of streets.


Tellore and Gett walked slowly through the hot night air, making the minor adjustment from the 1.0 artificial gravity of the starship to the planet’s natural gravity of 1.02.


“I might take my bed up to the roof tonight,” Tellore said as if he did that regularly. “Pilot Aber said he’ll see us at the hotel after he arranges for the cargo to get unloaded. He’ll let us know when we’re launching again.”


“How will he know which hotel we’re staying in?” Gett asked.


“Because there’s only one,” Tellore said.


“Ah. This town have a name?” Gett asked.


“Grievance,” Tellore said with a chuckle.


Gett slung his carryall over his shoulder. If Tellore was correct about Grievance having only one hotel, there was a good chance he would find Cully there. But he wondered how many bars the town had.


He forced himself not to run as they walked into Grievance. To his left, low fences divided agricultural plots. Some of the mature bushes and fruit-bearing trees were in the open air, while rigid inflatable domes protected the smaller plants.


According to the only friend of Gett’s in Lord Valmont’s secret police that still spoke to him, Cully had once served as Sturge’s armorer. Cully acquired and maintained weapons for Sturge’s pirates, which meant he knew where those weapons were stored. At some point during her raids, Sturge would have to visit her armory to re-equip…and she might have Pol with her.


When that happened, Gett planned to be there to capture her and rescue his son.


In local time, it was well past the dinner hour. The fields and most of the town were dark, but far from quiet. Even from a distance, he could hear shouts. A sudden breeze from the town spat dust into their faces. Gett shut his eyes against the grit, but when he inhaled something smelled familiar. It was a one-part-per-million scent so faint his brain barely registered it, but it stank of copper and sorrow.


Gett smelled blood.


Up the street, a three-story building had a glowing green sign out front that read “The Pavilion.” Gett assumed it must be the hotel. The only other businesses open this late would be bars and brothels.


When they were fifty paces short of the Pavilion’s front door, just outside the green ring of light from its sign, a skinny boy ran from a side street.


The boy had a crank-powered lantern. As he slid to a stop in the dust, he pointed the lantern at them. “Help! It’s Mena’s grandbaby. She’s gone.”


Tellore shielded his eyes and growled, “Get that damn light out of my face.”


Gett thumped Tellore’s arm with the back of his knuckles. “Ease up. Look kid, we don’t know any Mena. We’re spacers, we just landed on a cargo ship.” He pointed a thumb over his shoulder at the spaceport.


While they spoke, lights flicked on in the surrounding buildings and citizens spilled into the streets, armed with lanterns and shovels. People called to each other in the dark. The growing swarm of individuals formed into a mob and marched past the hotel.


The boy cranked his fading lantern. “Mena’s dead. There’s blood all over the place and her grandbaby is missing. Are you coming to help or not?” He pointed toward the mob.


Gett looked down the street at the crowd surging toward wherever Mena lived. Even when the breeze ceased, he could still smell blood. Gett took one step to the side, placing his right boot within the circular green glow of the hotel sign.


He looked down at the kid, who stood waiting. The boy was so thin his clothes hung on him and he was shoeless.


“Mena is a baker,” the boy said. “She’s old and mean, but sometimes she gives me a sweet roll when there’s one left over. She was watching the baby for her daughter.”


A child was missing. Like his Pol. Gett would do anything to find Pol, and he was sure the girl’s parents would do the same for their daughter. Here was a chance to help someone in the same horrible situation he was in. Gett looked up the road at the swarm of lights, the townies rallying to help one of their own.


But if he joined in the search for the girl, he might miss Cully. What if the Lucrative Possibilities launched early? He didn’t know where it was flying next. He might never find Cully again, which meant he would lose his only lead to finding Pol.


“What’s the reward for finding the girl?” Tellore asked.


“I don’t know. There isn’t one, it just happened,” the boy said.


“Sorry, kid. I don’t fight for free,” Tellore said. He slung his duffel over his shoulder.


The boy turned to Gett. “You a mercenary too?”


Gett touched the copper scrap in his pocket and looked away. “I’m sorry. I have to see a man about…some business.” Gett took a few coins from his pocket and put them in the boy’s hand. “Buy yourself a decent meal.”


The boy dropped the coins in the dusty street. “Cowards.” He ran to catch up with the crowd, his bare feet kicking up dust.


“That kid’s parents should buy him some boots,” Gett said.


Tellore shook his head. “No, that kid’s parents should be out here with him.”


“What?”


“When you’re a kid, you don’t care if your parents are rich or poor. You care if they’re there or not,” Tellore said.


“I don’t know what that means,” Gett said, but Tellore was already headed for the hotel.


Gett watched the boy dash away, rushing to help a neighbor. He told himself that questioning Cully first made sense. It was a good lead to finding his son. At this point, it was his only lead. When he had the information he needed, then maybe he could help with the search for the girl. If the child and her abductor weren’t long gone.


If the girl wasn’t already dead.


Pol or the girl?


His thick shoulders slumped. Gett bent and collected the dusty, precious coins.


For a long moment, he stood alone in the empty street. The cold stars hung above him; the flickering sign cast a green glow over his face.


Gett trudged across the road to the hotel. He had to find Cully.



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