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Korriban Nights: Chapter II

Chapter II

“Check it again.”

“It is the same. Two individuals. Lightly armed. We waste time.”

“I don’t like it.”

If droids could sigh S1VR-4RM would have.

“I am aware of this fact. You have repeated the same phrase six times since we arrived. I have translated it into different languages for the sake of variety. Perhaps you would like to hear it in Huttese?”

Slaine checked his weapon belt once more.

“Fine. Let’s do it.”

It should be a simple exchange — the holodisc for their money. Two lightly armed men were unlikely to try anything against an armored bounty hunter and an assassin droid but Slaine could not shake the feeling that things were about to go very wrong.

“What kind of people pay that much money to get their hands on a skin flick?”

“The rich.”

Were these guys some kind of weird perverts? That didn’t make any sense. More likely representing parents of someone in the “film.” Or maybe someone famous was in it… He had heard about that sort of thing before. He hadn’t recognized anyone in it — neither had S1VR-4RM, or if he did he hadn’t mentioned it. You could never really tell with droids.

They entered the abandoned foundry. S1VR-4RM rapidly scanned the building several thousand times for good measure.

“Allow me to handle the negotiations.”

Slaine grunted in agreement.

Two men stood in the center of the large room. A barrel had been turned upright in the middle of the durocrete floor and was acting as a makeshift table for a holoplayer.

S1VR-4RM made a small bow.

“Greetings.”

“Do you have the disc?”

Both men wore long coats and Slaine could see the outline of armor under the cloth — light armor. They looked fit. The one who spoke had a mean-looking scar running from his hairline down his cheek.

“It is in our possession. You have our fee?”

Scar pointed to a stack of credit chips beside the holoplayer and then held out his hand. S1VR-4RM bowed again and retrieved the disc from a hidden compartment in his chest. He placed it in Scar’s hand.

Slaine felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and realized he was being sized up. He caught the eye of the silent man and it was a cold blue.

Scar inserted the disc into the player and waited…

A hazy blue image appeared and then a face crying out in ecstasy.

S1VR-4RM stepped forward and began to reach for the credit chips.

“It has been a pleasure doing busi–”

Blue Eyes moved faster than Slaine had ever seen a man move — faster even than the Crystal Speed kids in the clubs. A long vibro-sword appeared from under his coat as he closed on the droid.

S1VR-4RM fired two of his poisoned darts, but the blade was there knocking each harmlessly away. Blue Eyes brought his sword down, cleaving S1VR-4RM from shoulder to hip.

The droid’s severed diaphragm wormed uselessly in the sparking chrome chest cavity as his components collapsed to the floor.

Slaine was slower than both S1VR-4RM and Blue Eyes but he had known this was coming. He had felt it so strongly that he had begun his move before Blue Eyes had taken a step. His arm had been coming up as the vibroblade had pierced the assasin droid’s frame and now it released a tongue of liquid flame.

The roar and heat of the flame-thrower filled the air. Scar and Blue Eyes leapt out of the way of the direct blast. Realizing there was nothing he could do for S1VR-4RM at this point, Slaine kicked his jetpack into gear and, soaring up, smashed clean through a skylight. He cut his thrusters and dropped running onto the roof. From below he heard shouting and then the rev of an engine.

He was jumping from rooftop to rooftop, making his way towards the only place he could think of to lose himself. A sharp screech caused him to look down into the long alley below — a swoop bike with two men on it burned a course parallel to his own.

***

It had been a bad day for Old Man Globbs — or, as the children in the neighborhood called him, Mean Fatty Glob-Blob. How he hated those children.

The droid at the Veterans’ Affairs office had been less than helpful when pressed on the subject of whether sinus-cleaning was covered under his health plan. Globbs had been forced to point to his large and rubbery head and shout, “I’m 90% sinus, you overgrown toaster!”

On top of that his favorite beverage vending cart had suspiciously caught fire the night before. Crime. What was this planet coming to? Maybe it was time to pack up and move — but he was too old.

The hovertram braked for its last above ground stop.

An electric voice crackled over the speakers, “This train will go express to Aquarium. Aquarium will be the next stop. We apologize for the inconvenience. The hovertram behind us will be making all local stops.”

Globbs said an extremely rude word.

“The hovertram behind us” usually meant half the city away. To add insult to injury it was starting to rain.

Globbs began to slowly rise from his seat, collecting his bundles and his loose hornfruit bunch. Carefully, he hefted his aged bulk towards the open doors.

Suddenly he was knocked right back into his seat. He glared up at the helmeted form of a bounty hunter in blood-soaked armor. Globbs felt something wet and smushy beneath his hand.

“You’ve crushed my hornfruit!”

The bounty hunter told Globbs where he might store his hornfruit (though it did not seem a very sanitary option), all the while watching the doors. The man beneath the armor visibly relaxed the moment the doors closed with a hiss and the tram began to speed underground.

Globbs was still yelling at Slaine when they both paused to listen to a strange sound — the echoed hum of an engine reverberating in the tram tunnel. Both of Globbs’s mouths opened in astonishment as a swoop bike pulled even with the hovertram. Blue Eyes was driving with Scar behind him. A clay-like ball slammed into the window.

Slaine began to run.

The glassteel exploded into dust behind him and Scar somersaulted through the wreckage, landing nimbly crouched on the tram floor.

A single scream went up from the passengers in the car. Scar began to hack his way through the crowd with his vibro-sword, creating a stampede which crushed Slaine against the door connecting the tramcar with the one in front of it. He struck out with his elbows to give himself space and finally managed to get to the door plate.

Globbs had been sandwiched between the other passengers. He felt the pressure on his back lessen as Scar cut down one after another of the panicked riders. Suddenly he was spun around and stood eye-to-eye with the man who was about to kill him. Globbs felt strangely disappointed as he acknowledged that they were now speeding past what would have been his stop. The vibro-blade put a final end to all his sinus troubles and he crumpled to the floor.

Slaine had managed to open the door and stepped into the new car. A press of bodies tried to follow him but with all his strength he shoved them back into the oncoming blade of Scar. He forced the door shut and then smashed the plate on his side, shorting it out.

The other car was quiet now. Scar stood alone, covered from head to toe in gore. He smiled at Slaine through the observation window and then tried the door.

Slaine drew his heavy blasters and waited.

But Scar didn’t open it. He laughed at Slaine through the glass and wagged his finger “no.”

Then he lifted his arm and Slaine felt a strange pressure crushing down on his windpipe.

The bounty hunter’s toes scuffed the tram floor as he was lifted into the air. Scar stood grinning from ear to ear on the other side of the door.

Slaine had dropped his blasters and was grasping at his neck, fighting a phantom enemy — an enemy that was squeezing the light from his eyes. Blackness crowded the edge of his vision and he felt as if his lungs might explode. Scar began closing his outstretched fist.

Taking one hand from his throat, Slaine reached out and seized a small red handle on the tram’s wall and pulled with all the strength he had left.

Scar’s eyes opened wide as the hovertram’s emergency brake screamed into action and he was thrown with extreme force face-first into the door.

Across the train there were cries and collisions as the high-speed deceleration caused everyone and everything to shoot forward. Slaine sailed across the car and smashed into a wall. He groaned as he tried to drag himself to his feet. He had dislocated a shoulder but he now could breathe again.

He rolled out one of the flashing emergency exits and disappeared into the maze of tunnels as the confused and injured crowd poured out of the crippled hovertram.

In the distance he could hear the echo of a swoopbike, but it grew faint and then was silent.

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