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The bounty profession is not a glamorous thing and Geoshelter Alpha is a poor ass impression of a city, built wrongly. That is, downwards, not upwards. There is a reason for which many citizens prefer to never visit down below: there’s scarcely any law and order, and lots of odd folk that try to kill you, or so the rumors say. Yet a job is a job, and even bounty hunters need to eat. And there’s no food dispenser working without credits.  Its hard to make a living, these days.

Env Concept Art

Geoshelter Alpha – Environmental Concept Art

There’s this myth that bounty hunters are lonely people (or mostly people; lot of folk these days like to insert all kinds of gizmos in their bodies, in the hopes that their pitiful existence might be extended). Some are lone wolves, sure; but in Geoshelter Alpha, surviving takes precedence over pretty much everything, so it’s wiser to have company when hunting down below. And finding company is not a problem – there’s always some freelancers wasting their time at the bar, and those who need some killing know that. So they post bounties right in that lowly place, the only prevailing advertising in a shattered world that lived through destruction, its remains desperately hoping to survive just a little bit longer. No one knows much about the targets, or why they deserve to be eliminated, but then again, no one cares much, either. If it brings some cred’s, no questions are asked.

So you pick a bounty, and gather some company if you wish. Complementary abilities help, but they are not mandatory, and bounty hunters are not exactly known for being picky. You can’t really walk down below, it’s not allowed; but luckily the jobs include some transportation. Obviously; the mandatory transportation has a cost, that cost is high, and it only takes you that far, on some of the highest Deeper Levels, which still leaves some really dangerous ground to cover. As fate has it, the marked men (or whatever they might have become after so many implants) tend to hide far deeper in the ‘shelter. But when you have to survive, you gotta do what you gotta do.

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You and your party are then dropped near the job. Near is, of course, an ill defined notion. It might mean a brief stint before your puny existence is terminated, or a jolly stroll over several Deeper Levels, all connected by rusty looking elevators that you have to locate. The drop place is safe enough, and you might briefly observe your companions. But there’s rarely any pleasantries exchanged when everyone’s mind is on their own survival and on cred’s. And you can trust most folks who dare venture in the Deeper Levels know what they have to do. It’s really pretty simple: eliminate any potential threat to safety. Stay alive.

Once you push the button and open the door of your drop place, all hell tends to break loose. The Deeper Levels are nothing if not lively, only problem is, anything that moves there tends to want to kill you. You should be the first to hit, but sometimes speed is not your best option. Survival of the fittest demands serious brain muscle over any other muscles in your body (or gizmos; you never know what folks are made of, these days). And there’s also that other silly myth, that the folks down below are stupid, or lack tech, or they somehow live like savages and hence pose little danger. This couldn’t be further from the truth; folk there has weapons a-plenty, and lots of underground tech that they happily enhance their bodies with, because… everyone wants to survive. But then again, if the dangers of a bounty run would really be acknowledged, the rewards would need some adjustments, and that’s something no one with cred’s wants to think about. Not like hunters have a choice, do they.

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You have to clear your way to your target. It’s a mark of honor for any hunter to leave a place extra clean behind; everyone in Geoshelter Alpha does have a preference for bright red pavements, slippery as they might be, so you strive to do your best to decorate the Deeper Levels with blood, brains or other body parts, preferably not yours. Or just parts, really; you never really know what folks are made of these days.

That, and also most folk down below tend to get really mad when they see you hacking their neighbors. Mad enough to refuse to open the doors for you.  But there’s a benefit to that, too! They are not savages, and some have stashes full of cred’s and other stuff. The loot you get from the Deeper Levels is really half the reason you go there to begin with. Unless, of course, you don’t spend it on silly things such as Heal Station services, Damage upgrades or fancy looking weapons. The key to not spending is real easy: just don’t get hurt.

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You clear level after level after level after level. You keep an attention to details, try to strategize, and decorate as nicely as possible. You reach elevator after elevator, make efforts to deny your consumerist nature for every shop you find (why are shop keepers never violent? Guess business is business, for everyone), and try to stay alive – not like you care much if you don’t manage; in Geoshelter Alpha, contemplating death can sometimes be very appealing . When you finally find your target guy (or girl; or thing), you realize one becomes a bounty target for a reason, and that targets are usually very popular, and very strong creatures, too. They have access to the best Deeper Levels can offer, including very tough friends, nice tricky weapons, high tech shields, guns, bombs, you name it. So you take a deep breath and then just trust your bounty hunting skills. It’ll be over soon, one way or another.

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Maybe you’ll make it. Maybe some extra cred’s will find their way to your stash. Maybe you’ll get to sip another bottle of something in that dirty looking bar, where strangers post Wanted messages and offer really pitiful amounts of credits for killing things in the Deeper Levels. Maybe you’ll take a new job, and let your heart race you through another run, where certainty of death is high, chances of success are slim, and where you FEEL ALIVE.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pieces Interactive