Gunner says he has a contact and a plan to get things going for us. Some back-water world I’ve never heard of called “Katato”, or something like that. Blade took a nasty hit to the head from the loose cargo, we’ve got him patched up and resting back in the MedBay. Keph calls out to the captain from the cockpit “Foz, you gotta see this…”
A large freighter sits lifeless in space. Keph turns up the ship-to-ship comms and the all-too familiar distress call comes through: "This is the merchant freighter “Stalitz Flight” seeking assistance. Our ship was boarded by pirates they took our medical supply and credits, we have wounded on board. Please, help us." The message repeats on loop. Shakan looks the ship over, “You know as well as I, this is probably a trap.” Call it arrogance or experience, but I’ve boarded and been boarded plenty of times, what’s one more? Keph, can you get us close enough to board? Cool as always, Keph responds with a simple: “Yes, ETA 10 minutes.”
Wait a minute, you mean I can set this thing up for audio recording? Why have I been typing this whole time? Sha’kan, you have to tell me these things. This younger generation is really on the up & up. Am I getting too old for this? Foz grabs a grenade and straps the recorder for his data-logger onto a section of his padded armor and looks over at Sha’kan. Nah….
(10 minutes later…)
_Blade, Gunner, Sha’kan and Foz arm up and head down the umbilical, a ship-to-ship passage used for boarding procedures. The ship is quiet and dark with the exception of some sparking wires and dim emergency lighting. The umbilical connects to a 30×15 room with doors at either end. Crates are scattered around the area. Sha’kan spots a body stuck behind a crate, then another and another."
“Gunner, stick with Sha’kan and check out that body, see if there is any life left.” A loud shout and blaster fire interupt the tense silence of the boarding pilot “It’s an ambush! Get to some cover Blade!” The sound of a Heavy Blaster Rifle set to auto-fire spikes on the data-recorder. A battle-hardened devaronian straps on a breath mask and throws a toxic gas grenade towards the room. “Sha’kan, what is it, smoke?”. “No, toxic. Get their gas masks or we’re dead.” he responds. The gun fight rages on while the gas cloud gets ever larger. Two devaronians provide suppressive fire behind some cover. “Blade, take their masks, hurry!!” Blade pursues the devaronian attackers, leaping over cover and tearing off both of their masks. A quick slip from his knives ensure that they don’t get up
As the last devaronian pirate is dispatched by Sha’kan, a hail of gun-fire comes from around a corner. “My name is Captain Gideon, this is my ship. Surrender now, or die!” Far be it from Foz Biden, legendary jedi-hunter, to surrender to some pirate… “You’re out numbered and out gunned Gideon. You’re the dead man.” It sounded good at the time…
Another spray of rapid fire rattles off the ship interior, Sha’kan and Blade can be heard in the background as their cover starts taking hits “Foz, the gas cloud is getting bigger. Where’s your mask?” I miscounted the masks on these pirates. “Alright, tactical retreat back to the umbilical. Take one of the survivors so we can question him. This isn’t over yet.”
10 minutes later…
A devaronian sits in a chair, slumped back and severely injured. It’s been a while since I’ve done an interrogation, maybe I’ll leave this to Blade and Gunner, they always enjoyed that kind of thing.
6 hours and 1 less passenger later
The crew disembarks their freighter to meet a man named Tomaas. Gunner insists that Tomaas is a good source of information, credits and guns. Blade and Sha’kan discuss the tactics on the boarding attack. Foz is still feeling dazed, noticing the planet is nothing like his home. They finally reach a run-down cantina, fittingly named “The Sarlacc’s Pit”. The inside is busy with a large bar in the center, booths around the edges and a few secluded tables where sentients of every size and color conduct their business
This is probably the seediest dive I’ve ever been in. Gunner where is… Wait a minute… Is that…
A middle-aged woman stands across from a deep booth, a gand, duros, and trandoshan stand beside her with their weapons drawn and pointed at the booth. “This is it Tomaas and I won’t ask again. You can either take it, or leave it. But if you want trouble then I’ll be wearing your hide for boots.” she says with a firm voice. Gunner spots his target, “That’s him. The trandoshan is in the booth, we need to make sure he stays alive.” A raspy voice comes from the booth “You’ve had your change Courte’, you’ve sssstolen your lasst ssshipment.”
The table flips as chaos errupts in the bar. Bystanders diving for cover and fleeing for the exit. Courte’ and her guards exchange fire with Tomaas and his mercenaries. Sha’kan pauses for a moment, being a patient tactician. Sha’kan heads over to the far end of the bar where he notices a hooded figure patiently observing the gunfight. The gand and duros go down to a flurry of blaster fire, Tomaas has taken up a defensive position behind a table. Foz strikes a quick shot on one of Tomaas’ guards, catching him unaware. Courte’ isn’t so fortunate and takes several shots to the chest, she lay on the ground dazed as blaster bolts whiz past her in every direction. Out of dedication to his squad, Foz runs out from behind cover and pulls Courte’ to safety. “_You owe me one for this.”_ Courte’ smiles back, recognizing the aged voice of her squadmate_ “Nice to see you too, Captain.”_ A stun grenade goes off near Tomaas and shards of glass rain down from above as Sha’kan skillfully blasts some lighting…
“Enough!!!” Tomaas yells as Courte’s last guard hits the ground. Tomaas spots Gunner, “_What took you ssso long to get here? Meet me in the back to discusssss our businesssss while my men finish off the ssscum.” “No, wait. Let them go Tomaas, you’ve proved your point. I’ll make up to you whatever they took, just let the rest of them live.”_ Foz says in an unusual tone…
Tomaas accepts Foz’ offer as he, Gunner and a winded Courte’ are pushed into a back room. Two bodyguards stand at the door and refuse to let Sha’kan in. Sha’kan decides to take a seat across from his hooded friend, keeping an eye on the door in case of any trouble.
The hooded figure says in a soft tone “Have you ever had Besalisk Cream Ale? It’s a fine alcohol that goes down smooth and is enjoyed slowly." Sha’kan thinks for a moment about his drinks and preferences “No, come to think of it I never have.” The hood calls to the service droid “Please, two Besalisk Cream Ales”. The droid responds in a polite and monotonous “Yes Sir”. Within minutes the drinks are served, but Sha’kan is ever vigilant and carefully checks his drink for poison. The drink is clean and Sha’kan sips it back, the alcoholic warmth tingles his throat and leaves a rich after taste.
The hood leans back in his seat, motioning for another round, he says to Sha’kan, “Let me tell you a story. A farmer living in the outer rim lives a very humble and quiet life with his family. One day that man meets another man visiting from the core worlds. The visitor comes in while the family is eating dinner, he sits down at the table and begins eating. The father tells his wife and two sons to leave while he speaks in private with their guest. The visitor says to the man, “I was sent here to kill you, they’re paying me 500 Republic Credits to do it. What do you think of that?” The farmer know’s this is the truth, so he gets up and heads to a small drawer and pulls out a bag containing 2000 Republic Credits. “Take it, it’s all I have. But please, I beg you, let me and my family live.”
The drinks arrive just as a squadron of Imperial Stormtroopers enter the cantina, their guns at the ready. The leading stormtrooper approaches the bar_ “We received a report of gunfire. You know there is a heavy fine for unauthorized weapon use in this sector. Is there anything to report?”_ The bartender looks around and passes the stormtrooper a credit stick, “Everything is fine here, just some equipment malfunctions.” he says. The Imperial
Stormtroopers leave almost as quickly as they arrived.
In the back room Tomaas pauses as he sees the Imperial uniforms enter the bar. As they leave he resumes his rant. “Thissss smooth-skinned smuggler tried to steal 200 blaster rifles right from my own ship. Now she turnsss up and sssays that she was ambushed by my own contacts. I want my weapons and I want them NOW!” Tomaas slams on a table, knocking over some bottles. Foz thinks about the situation, “Tomaas, I will do whatever I can to get you your weapons and root out any leaks in your company. Just let Courte’ and her ship go.” “No, the ship is too valuable.” Tomaas retorts. “Enough of your bargaining. Take the thief and go to The Wheel. You’ll meet a man named Roem who will help with getting my stolen goodssss back. Try anything, and I will place a Jedi’s Bounty on your head.” Foz looks at Courte’ and Gunner, they nod in agreement. “Alright, let’s go over the details” Foz says to Tomaas as he gets the details from the trandoshan merchant.
Meanwhile back at the bar…
Out of politeness Sha’kan apologizes to the speaker for the intrusion and enjoys another shot of the light Besalisk Cream Ale, which goes down with the same slickness._ "As I was saying… The visitor takes the bag of credits and smiles back at the farmer, “Thank you for your generosity. But, I never go back on my word.” he raises his blaster and shoots the farmer dead. The mother comes out from the kitchen to see what happened, she sees her husband on the ground with this stranger standing above him and she too is killed. Finally the oldest son comes out with his rifle and he too is killed before he can even raise his gun. The visitor leaves with his money and goes home."_
The hood pauses for a moment and leans in closer to Sha’kan.
“It is an old story, but it reminds me of my family. Sometimes people go numb from events like that. Sometimes they go numb from poisoned drinks. You’re probably feeling a tingling sensation in your fingers. Don’t fight it Sha’kan, you only have about 90 seconds left in your life.”
The figure removes his hood revealing the Cathar’s young and somber face. “I never introduced myself, my name is Kyusei. Your father killed my father, my mother and my brother. Your family took everything from mine that day. Now I will do the same to you, and the Maul family. Know this that I will have my revenge and it will begin with you.” Sha’kan is struggling to breathe as the blood vessels in his eye and skin rupture, his heart beats faster and faster with the adrenaline surging to keep him alive. “No Sha’kan Maul, the poison won’t kill you… I will.” Kyusei pulls open Sha’kan’s jacket and plunges a vibroknife into his chest. Placing the warm heart into a small lock box, Kyusei closes Sha’kans jacket and leans him back in his seat. Just as Foz, Gunner and Courte’ exit the back room.
Tomaas calls out across the bar, “Kyusei, you are my insurance policccy. Go with them and make sure they fulfill their end of the deal. If they try anything, kill them.” Tomaas glares at the crew of mercenaries as they walk out of the bar. Foz calls out to Sha’kan and asks him if he’s coming along. “He won’t be coming, his time has run out.” Foz notices the blood on Kyusei’s robe and with a nod of acceptance continues towards the docking bay.