I heard the voices of two men arguing. I felt my body flinch at the sound of a blaster being fired. The bulkhead door opened onto the bridge of the Altered End and I saw the curl of smoke rising from the hole in Koban’s chest, Drakka Wessari standing over him, heavy blaster still in his hand.
Drakka looked up at the sound of the door. I saw no remorse in his eyes. I felt, somehow I knew, that there was none. Just like I knew there was no reason to check Koban for signs of life. The man who had raised me was dead. It was the second time I had lost a father.
“Oh, Blue. You weren’t supposed to come back.” Drakka stepped towards me, his blaster at his side. “Not that I wanted them to kill you. I like you honestly. I just knew you would side with Koban.”
“Why? Why did you do this?” Was that blaster fire I heard? It had to be, somewhere else in the ship.
“I think you know why, Blue.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Come on, Blue. Don’t make this difficult. Just hand it over and we can move on.”
I walked into the hole in the wall bar Koban had directed me to, one of many on the Smuggler’s moon of Nar Shadaa. It didn’t seem to have a name, just a projected graphic of a generic humanoid lifting a mug to its mouth flashing on the front facade.
Koban seemed tense when he had asked me to come here. I had known the man since I was 7 standard years old. I did not need my “uncanny intuition”, as he called it, to know that he was worried. The simple fact that he told me to go alone, to walk the streets of Nar Shadaa without any sort of escort, told me enough. Not that I couldn’t protect myself. I had been in more than one firefight, and plenty of other tough spots. But Koban had always been a bit overprotective.
There were not many people here at the moment- the human behind the bar was more interested in the Twi’lek woman who was wearing next to nothing and leaning across the bar to flirt. An Ithorian sat at a table, his long fingers gripping his cup. His large, oddly shaped head was face down in a drunken stupor.
The woman I was supposed to meet, at least I think it was a woman, sat alone in a booth in the back corner. She, or it, was wrapped from head to toe in rough gray-brown fabric, loose fitting to hide any distinguishing characteristics. She seemed to have a feminine shape but that was the most I could tell. It would have looked suspicious if it wasn’t for the fact that everyone on this moon was basically a criminal of some sort, including me. And it wasn’t unknown for certain cultures to hide themselves this way. I had no way of knowing which it was- a disguise or cultural affectation. I walked through the room and took a seat across from her.
“The weather is cold here on Nar Shadaa,” I said to her, a bit hesitantly.
“Perhaps Tattoine would suit you better.” Her voice was covered by a modulator, sounding robotic.
Again, not uncommon among a number of species, but equally useful for someone that does not want to be identified. But she had given the correct response, so I continued.
“My name is-“
“Jaedyn Cholis. Pantoran. Pilot of the Altered End,” the modulated voice cut in. “I am aware of who you are. Where is Captain Koban?”
“Koban stayed on the ship. He sent me.”
“I see. Perhaps then a different time would be better for him.” She rose to leave.
“No! Please. If you trust him, you can trust me.” Granted, Koban was a smuggler so the thought that I was betting on her to trust him was risky. Whatever the case, she stopped. If I had been paying more attention, I might have realized that it was not my words that had given her pause. She drew her blaster and fired.
“Look, Blue, be reasonable here. You give me the package, and I won’t turn you over to the Imperials.”
I could feel my eyes get wide. “I told you that in secret!” I was screaming inside. There was something deep in my stomach that seemed to boil up from somewhere.
“Yeah, ya did. And trust me, it was nice. That night we were all over each other in the engineering bay? You’d think a girl with blue skin would be cold. But no, you were definitely warm, very warm.” He smiled.
“You disgust me.”
“Aw, come on, Blue. Don’t break my heart. And, don’t make me ask you again. Give. Me. The package.” Drakka raised his blaster, pointing it right at my chest.
The woman (I’m just going to go with that) fired her blaster. I ducked to the side as I drew my own, but it became apparent that she had not been aiming at me. A painful scream came from near the door. Twisting, I saw the group of gunmen by the entry way as I landed on my hip. It hurt, but not enough to keep me from firing back. An Aqualish lay dead on the floor but two other gunmen, a Rodian and a human, were using the doorframe for cover. My blaster shot hit the wall. No damage, but it did make one of the gunman yell out a curse. A curse I recognized. I was being shot at by one of my own crewmates!
Gork was a Rodian and a quite the complainer. I don’t know how many times I’d heard him talk about how cramped the ship was or how we were bound to be caught by local authorities or the Imperials and executed for being smuggler. But I’d always assumed he was too lazy to actually do anything. And why follow me here?
“What the frak, Gork!” I scrambled for my own cover. The bartender had shoved the Twi’lek off the bar. He was cowering behind it, and she was curled up in a ball under a table. The drunk Ithorian hadn’t even moved. From the ironically happy smile he had, he seemed to be having pretty good dream. The only cover was the overturned table where my mysterious contact had taken refuge.
“Sorry, Cholis,” he called back. “But Drakka wants the goods, and you out of the way. We’ve had enough of Koban’s bad pay and worse food. We’re taking over.” I was still on the ground with nothing for cover as he stepped out to fire.
Instead, Gork screamed as a bolt hit him square in the chest. A quick glance upwards and I could see the woman in grey had likewise stepped out. It seemed her blaster shot had ended Gork’s need to worry about anything anymore. Unfortunately, the hired gun Gork had brought along saw his own opportunity. His shot hit the woman and she spun back, falling out of sight behind the table.
I rolled and pulled the trigger as fast as I could. Three bolts of energy slammed into the human. I hadn’t even looked to see if I recognized him. Now he was unrecognizable due to the blaster bolt he had taken in the face. He actually stood motionless for a moment before crumpling to the ground.
I crawled on all fours to the woman as fast as I could. She let out a small groan as I shoved the table out of my way. The large hole in her chest was obviously fatal. The robotic voice modulator amplified her wheezing gasps as she stretched out an arm towards me. Something small and black was clutched tightly in her fist. I held my hand out and she struggled to place the object in my palm just before her arm went limp. She gave one last wheeze before the voice modulator fell silent.
As I looked down the barrel of Drakka’s blaster, I realized how stupid I had been, running back here from the cantina, coming to find Koban. Drakka was charismatic and smart. He would not have made the move on me without ensuring that he could take the ship from Koban. He must have been planning this for some time, sowing seeds of mutiny with the crew. Gork would have been easy to convince, who knows about the others. A few hired mercs would be all it took to overwhelm the rest. He’d have to deal with the passengers as well though. I would try to help them. If I didn’t die right here, that is.
Suddenly, a loud claxon blared through ship, emergency lights flashing red. Someone had hit the alarm. Drakka glanced away for just a split second. Thankfully, I had always been quick. I dove for the door just as Drakka fired. The blasts hit the bulkhead just behind me and I punched the closing mechanism. It wouldn’t slow him down for more than a couple seconds.
Down the short corridor, another crewmate, Hobin, stood next to an emergency console. “Jaedyn! They’ve taken the ship! Fulip is dead! Where’s Gork and Dra-“
Hobin’s question was answered by Drakka emerging from the Bridge. He fired two shots at the poor sod, silencing him forever. I ran, narrowly avoiding Drakka’s blaster bolts.
Drakka screamed at me as I entered the galley. As fate had it, the four passengers sat around a table, apparently quite confused by the alarm. A Human, a Trandoshan, a Gamorrean, and a Mon Cal, they were a rather motley group, but obviously they had had no part in Drakka’s mutiny. I hit the door lock and it slammed shut behind me.
“You have to get off the ship! There’s been a mutiny!” I yelled at them. I crossed the room, pulled open a console, masked to be unnoticed. It was one of Koban’s smuggler holds. “Get in! Quick!”
The entrance to the galley slid open and Drakka, accompanied by a pair of mercs, surged into the room. “Kill them all!” he ordered.
I fired my blaster and they took cover. It didn’t take any more motivation for the passengers to rush to the secret compartment. I was the last to enter.
As I turned, I felt something grab my collar. “Come back here, you whore!” It was Drakka. He was holding on to me, grasping at my throat. I hit the button and the compartment door slammed shut, Warm liquid drenched my front. I had a split second to realize the door had severed Drakka’s arm at the elbow and to hear his screams on the other side before the compartment ejected us out the side of the ship.
We fell four meters to the docking platform below. The Altered End was too big to actually land, so it was hovering just above, connected by an umbilical. Several meters off, a ramp led up to the regular entrance. Four thugs were coming down it, blasters drawn.
“Run,” I yelled and fired at the thugs. Thankfully, the passengers I had just rescued were smart enough to listen and took off for the corridor that led to the street. Blaster bolts flew between us and the thugs as they pursued. Either by accident or on purpose, the human’s blaster shot hit the wall and burst a steam pipe. Scalding steam hit one of the gunmen and he screamed.
The wall of steam stopped the last three but we could hear boots on the roof above us. The door to the street opened and we rushed out while two more of Drakka’s men leapt down from above. Turns out a Trandoshan’s claws are pretty nasty as he sliced open one of them. I finished him off with my blaster. The second one landed next to the Gamorrean. He didn’t live long enough to realize his mistake. Good to know those guys are tough.
We ran down the street and took cover in another of the countless watering holes on Nar Shadaa. This one was more crowded than the one I had been in earlier, but there was an empty booth in the back corner. The Mon Cal went to work patching us up. Seems he’s some sort of doctor or medic. Definitely handy.
A waitress tentatively approached us and I ordered a Corellian whiskey. The four of them looked at me, not with anger thankfully, but more with a look that said I’d better tell them what the frak just happened. I downed the whiskey and was about to explain when a group of seven or eight men walked in. They were armed and had the markings of the Hutt who controlled this section of the Smuggler’s Moon. Apparently the Trandoshan didn’t like the look of them. He flipped the table and ran.
The Hutt’s men opened fire, their blasters set to stun. The Gamorrean went down and the Mon call too. If these guys worked for the Hutt, they were the closest thing to law enforcement Nar Shadaa had. Not that that was a good thing, but at least they weren’t trying to kill us. I raised my hands to surrender. The others followed suit.
We ended up in a jail cell, or something that passed for one. The men who had arrested us said we were being fined for “interruption of business”. We could pay bail or we could work it off. Seeing as none of us had more than a few credits, we asked how we would work it off. A few hours later, the Twi’lek arrived.
He had the look of a mid-level businessman, but the shabbiness of his clothes and the bags under his eyes made it obvious he had seen better days.
“I need a crew to help with a delivery to Tattoine. If you agree to help, I will pay your bail and pay some extra as well.” It did not take long for us to agree. I guess the woman in gray was right- Tattoine sounded quite nice right about now.
His ship is a beat up YT-2400. It’s not in the best of shape by any means, but I like it. She has character. Turns out our new boss is a legit business man. His son has gone and gotten himself in debt to a Hutt though. Hopefully, this delivery will pay that off. As for us, we’re on a freighter bound for Tattoine. After this, who knows? Drakka is out there. If I’m lucky he might have bled to death. Ah, who am I kidding? I doubt I am that lucky.