The Bounty Hunter

by Kurt Bush

HTMLized by Dennis Holmes.

"Today, class, we are going to postpone our lessons on high-speed duelling in order to hear about the bounty hunting profession from a professional, Mr. B. Hunter. He volunteered his time in order to explain his job to us, so that you can better make a choice in your career when you graduate from the Institute of Offensive Driving."

"Thank you, Professor Nelson.

"Most people, when they think about bounty hunting, see us dashing off into the sunset to get the bad guy, blowing up buildings, and stalking the prey. Sometimes that's true, but mostly it's slow and boring detective work and catching your bounty when they least expect it.

"The majority of bounties are not important enough to come to the attention of local law-enforcement agencies. These are called level one or level two bounties. These could range from bringing a runaway back to his parents, to bringing a corporate defector back to his original employer, whether he likes it or not.

"Then there are the other types, the nasty bunch. These are level three and four bounties, depending on the danger and complexity of the bounty. 'Dead or alive' bounties fall into these groups. They're the ones that give bounty hunting the flashy reputation and the big bucks."

"Could you give us an example, Mr. Hunter, sir?"

"Certainly, uh...,"

"Jim Goster."

"Certainly, Jim. My last bounty was the return of an individual to a bank. He had fallen behind on his payments and the bank sent me to repossess him. I had to return him dead or alive, but intact. The bank wasn't able to give me a stat sheet on his combat experience or abilities. This became particularly annoying when I had to learn the hard way that the missed payments were for cybernetic implants. That was also why the bank wanted him intact -- his cybernetic parts were the collateral.

"I didn't figure out what I was dealing with until I tossed him a tear gas grenade. He took off on foot and passed the speed limit before it hit the ground. The only reason I was able to catch him was luck... he turned into a blind alley. By the time I got there, he was sprawled out, out cold with a bloody nose, and there was an impression of his body in the brick wall. All that was left to do was to put a bow on him and collect my bounty."

"How do you collect your money when you're done?"

"Simple. When you offer a bounty, you must put the money in a bounty bank. These banks are solely for holding on to bounties that we may collect. This insures guys like me that there will be money waiting for us once the job is done. When it's done, the poster of the bounty gives the access code -- or the bank does if the sender is unable to complete the transaction. The bank retains 5% of the deposit, you take the rest."

"Do bounty hunters get stiffed on assignments or get their banks robbed?"

"No sane criminal would ever rob a bounty hunter -- if they do, they get white-listed. A white list is the opposite of a black list. Instead of being excluded from jobs, they become one. The thought of a bunch of angry bounty hunters is enough to keep banks and jobs secure. The only robbery of our bank so far was committed by a gang that used a tank to break into the vault. Two days later that tank was confetti and so were the robbers. The money was recovered. The mechanic couldn't find anything salvageable in the tank, so we decided to haul it in front of the bank and put a plaque on it -- 'Here lies the first and only robber of this bank.' For some reason nobody's tried to rob it since."

"Are there any levels higher than four?"

"There's one. The priority level. Samaritan killers, people who cross the Brotherhood of Truckers, and the worst renegade cycle gangs are marked for extermination. Bounties like this get collected very quickly, because no one wants these guys around... a lot of priority bounties are withdrawn because somebody else decided to deal with them free of charge."

"Don't bounty hunters get in trouble with the law?"

"Local law enforcement doesn't really bother us too much. The cops are swamped and both sides know it. We perform a job like everyone else. Sometimes we're hired by the police when they are short-handed, So it's a working relationship. They know we use our best judgment when picking a case, and are usually very cooperative. They even label our assignments as legal or not, so we know when discretion is called for. They'll usually turn a blind eye to the cases that aren't exactly legal, because odds are, if we don't go after them, they'll have to. So there really isn't a problem."

"What was the oddest case you've had?"

"That's easy. It was a triple bounty. One cycle gang got plastered out of their local territory by the Texas Rangers. They decided to move, for obvious health reasons, to new turf. But they moved into another gang's territory. That day there were three different bounties on the board... $1,000 for each member of the Black Widow cycle gang removed, $2,000 for every member of the Vultures retired, and a third pitiful little bounty posted by the locals of $500 for each member of both gangs.

"The guys at Leuwy's, which is where most bounty hunters in the area hang out, heard about this and nearly busted a gut laughing. We all decided to go down there and clean up the road with them. As we were going along we gathered up a couple more guys, and finally we had about 20 of the toughest road fighters you've ever seen moving in convoy.

"But when we got there we didn't find a single biker on the road. They'd heard that an army of bounty hunters was coming to collect their scalps, and both gangs turned themselves in to the cops. The cops had to deputize the local farmers to help, because the county jail wouldn't hold all the bikers.

"When we heard this we all started laughing, because we'd met all the requirements to collect on all three bounties, and we did it without a shot being fired. We split up the bounties and the party at Leuwy's didn't slow down for almost a week. I think Leuwy ended up with more money from that job than anyone."

"How do you capture a person who won't come peacefully?"

"I'm glad you asked me that. A lot of the guys prefer the direct approach -- sticking a gun in their nose and ordering them to put on some handcuffs. Personally, I prefer to trick the target into capturing himself. Once I pretended I was a manicurist and slipped on the cuffs while I was doing his nails. In fact, if Jim could come up and be our suspect I'll show you how I do it."


"Yes. Now pretend I meet you in a bar and I make a bet you can't hop on one leg for ten seconds if both your hands are behind you."

"Anyone could do that. Watch this."

"Right. At this point I'd put the cuffs on you while you are distracted, like this. Now see if you can forcibly get away without getting shot."

"I can't. Can you take the cuffs off now?"

"I'm afraid not, Jim. Professor Nelson, I'm sorry, but I must inform you that James Goster is leaving this college to visit his parents, who do not think he is currently living up to his potential. That concludes our little lesson on bounty hunting.

"Say good-bye to your friends, Jimmy. You're a level one bounty."