Judge Kain and the Hangman passed quietly through the door of the airlock, but as soon as their boots hit the floor, the young Granok justice felt the stone on the back of his neck go frosty. The ship was cold and silent. The air tasted of oily smoke.
It had only been a few months since Kain had been sworn in by the legendary Judge Karl "the Hangman" Denshaw, and they had been busy months indeed. Rumor had it that the infamous Darkspur Cartel had infiltrated the fleet and the Hangman had sworn to take them down or die trying.
Drawing their weapons, they ventured into the ship's interior, navigating by emergency lights recessed in the floor. They found corpses everywhere, presumably from the ship's crew. It was obvious there had recently been a gunfight but now the ship was completely quiet. They stepped carefully over the grisly scene, passing into the shadowy depths of what looked like a deserted cargo hold.
Suddenly, the air around them erupted in gunfire. An ambush! Kain and the Hangman dove for cover, landing behind a stack of wooden crates. Smoke filled the room, and the laughter of Cartel thugs echoed hollowly in the hold. Kain looked over to Denshaw... and saw a dark stain spreading over the chest of the judge's uniform.
"Damn, Kain. They got me and got me good."
"Hang on, Judge," said Kain. "I'll get you outta here."
"Too late for that But you can do something for me."
The Hangman pulled the badge from his blood-soaked vest and with a shaky hand pinned it on Kain's uniform.
"You're ready for this," the Hangman said. "Now swing the hammer of justice, and swing it hard."
Denshaw's eyes flickered and closed. Cold fury rose up in Judge Kain.
"Consider it done," Kain said.
Kain stood, a pistol in each hand, firing at the Cartel thugs hiding in the depths of the hold. Kicking the wooden crates aside, he heedlessly walked into a deadly barrage of Cartel bullets like a vengeful wraith, his eyes lit with an unholy fire. First one enemy dropped, then another, their laughter quickly becoming shouts of panic and fear. At some point he realized he was wounded, but the carnage didn't end until the last man lay dead on the floor.
Kain walked into a dark room on the other side of the cargo hold. At the center of the room was a holo-projector, and standing upon it was the flickering image of a large, well-dressed Krogg.
"Last one standin', huh?" said the hologram. "You cost me a lot of money today, lawman."
Kain said nothing.
"I'm Black Jack Moragg. I like to be acquainted with people I'm gonna kill. And you are?"
"The name's Kain. Remember it. Because I swear by the scales of Lady Justice, I'm gonna find you. And I'm gonna bury you." Then he tipped his hat pulled his pistols from their holsters, and blew the holo-emitter to scrap. Turning to leave, Kain looked down at the badge pinned on his chest There was blood on it but whose it was he didn't know. He took hold of it wiped it off with his sleeve, and walked out the room.