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Author Topic: Where Are They Now?  (Read 109 times)

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Offline Kremon

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Where Are They Now?
« on: 10/26/19, 09:13:23 AM »
I had two years to think everything through in my spare time, so now I present to you the first part of the newest addition to my chain of stories after a long, LONG interval.

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GHARZOG

Gharzog made his way around the edge of a lively cantina scene as dancers mingled and drinks flowed freely. Lights flashed around in various colours whilst lasers sparkled and danced to match the patrons. Over on a stage, a band went at it on their instruments in a loud frenzy, playing a fast beating song. A few denizens looked up as he passed by their tables then returned to their beverages when he kept on walking.
Cantinas. Why were his marks always in cantinas? Maybe he'd have to ask one of them sometime. As he went around the side, he kept a careful eye out, both for the mark and also for anyone else that he might know. He wasn't looking to meet any friends here so the only people he would know would be those that would cause problems.
No-one stood out but his eyes did drift towards the Gammoreans standing guard at various intervals. They may cause issues; this particular cantina had rules against making a scene or causing a disturbance which made it a favourite amongst fugitives. It'd be tricky to pull it off but he might be able to get his mark quickly and quietly. It'd just take some time and some close watching. He fine with that but first he needed to find him first.
The further he got from the cantina's doors, the seedier and seedier the place got. Hands rested on blasters, drinks were carefully watched, and the dancing became more and more raucous. There was a couple people he recognized as he walked past. Crimes bosses, Hutt foremen, and gangsters of all affiliations. Cigarra smoke hung thick in the air but he fortunately couldn't smell it through his rebreather. He hated the smell of the stuff - Made him nauseous.
As he wound his way through this den, he finally got sight of his mark.
'Descor the Devourer'. A nasty piece of work.
He was a large Houk with with a wide girth.  Half of it muscle, the other half corpulent fat. He was a bad one, for sure; he had this habit of eating his rivals. Literally eating them. If it was to prove a point or to fuel some disgusting appetite, he wasn't sure and didn't really want to know. Credits were credits, but he was going to take a bit of satisfaction in taking him down.
As it was, Descor was surrounded by a posse of followers; two bodyguards, a Twi'lek slave, and a number of lieutenants jockeying for power. It was your typical crime gathering, all tucked away into a private booth at one of the corners of the cantina. It'd be a bad idea to approach him while he was surrounded by this power base but he had something else in mind. He found the nearest empty table and took a seat. Then he waved a serving droid over and ordered a drink. Just a mild, sugary beverage. He needed to remain alert. He unhooked one side of his rebreather and sipped from his cup, settling in for a wait. It was time for something that too many bounty hunters neglected. Stakeout.
It took patience and attention, though really more patience than anything else... A kriffing shuttleload of patience with a healthy dose of inconspicuousness. He slouched over his drink and pulled his hat down low, trying his best to look like a drunk starting a long night of imbibing as much as he could. In reality though, he was watching his mark out of the corner of his eye. The boss was reveling in the attention of his followers for now but there wad someone trying to gain entry to his little kingdom. He glanced away to not be too clearly observant and ran his gaze around the rest of the cantina. It wasn't really that nice a place but it was considered higher-end for Nal Hutta. Of course, if people wanted a nice place, they'd just go to Nar Shaddaa. Nal Hutta was the place for getting business done or for cheap labour. A quick peek revealed that the visitor was talking to the mark now. Could be a foreman brokering a deal; factories on Hutta changed hands like cards in a pazaak game, with valuable employees swapped around like pawns on a dejarik board. The Hutts ran it all, playing a giant game of who could grab the most valued plots amass the most credits the fastest.
It was certainly a deadly game, he knew that all too well.
Another snatched look at the mark - He was still talking with the visitor, though Descor was looking increasingly annoyed. Tough luck for the rube.
On the other side of the building, a few Gammoreans wrestled away a brawling pair towards the doors whilst onlookers looked on. Dangerous place to pick a fight. He'd sure hate to see an all-out war in here, it'd get messy real quick. Gangs would fight gangs and patrons would settle grudges with patrons. If things got hairy though, he could start something if he needed to but only if he absolutely needed to. Kriff, he hoped he didn't have to.
Whoever the broker was, he was grabbed on each side by by the bodyguards and hauled away. Poor rube.
As the night wore on, the music became louder and the dancing increasingly frenzied with the service droids keeping busy all night long. He never finished his own, only sipping it for appearances. Meanwhile his mark was exactly the opposite. He drained mug after mug and became increasingly tipsy. It wouldn't be long now.
While he waited and watched, it occurred to him to start keeping an eye out for rival bounty hunters. Most probably would have approached Descor by now but he couldn't trust assumptions.
Really all he needed to look for was anyone walking a straight line or looking around without going cross-eyed. Your usual collection of cheap guns-for-hire were around but most were drunk and the rest were spiced out of their gourd. There was a pilot in one of the booths, judging by his demeanor clothes - Wouldn't have to worry about him.
There was one individual that worried him though. It was a masked Zabrak, with his face obscured but his horns still visible above red skin. He was just sitting there, unmoving at a table on the opposite side of the cantina. He couldn't see any visible weapons but he could guess that they were probably hidden under several layers of clothing. He would keep his eyes open, there was noone stealing this bounty from him.
A flicker of movement of movement drew his gaze back to his his mark, who was standing up and walking in a semi-straight line towards a pair of doors accompanied by one of his bodygaurds. Here was his chance, showtime.
He stood up and affixed his rebreather before casually strolling after him. No man, or Houk for that matter, could imbibe so many drinks without having to stop by the 'freshers at some point. As he followed along behind, he checked that his gauntlets were firmly in place and his armguards ready. The two entered inside and he went in after them, into an evenly lit corridor where a few doors led off onto other rooms, probably closets and controls panels for the cantina lights. The mark and his muscle were walking down to one end, and as he watched, the guard went in first to check before coming out and nodding to his employer. Gharzog strolled down towards the refreshers  in full view of the bodyguard as the Houk went inside.
"The 'freshers are occupied right now. Beat it." The bodyguard grunted.
"Hey now... Just need to... 'Ye know, relieve 'meself." Gharzog replied, feigning a drunken drawl.
"I said beat it!" The man growled, swinging a fist at him. As the blow came, Gharzog twisted to the side out of the way before grabbing his hand and dragging him closer. As he brought him nearer, he drove his knee up into his chin. The unfortunate hired muscle's head snapped back and he dazedly fell backwards. Reaching around to his back, he pulled out his electro-whip just as the guard was beginning to stand. With a flick of his wrist he uncurled it then another flick and the flexible durasteel length hit him in the chest with an audible crack of bone. He activated it with a control on the handle and adjusted the power quickly with a thumb. Then he lashed it forwards and struck the bodyguard in the chest again, this time with a crackle of blue electricity and the thug fell still. He stepped over the body and into the tiled room, his free hand falling down to one of his holsters while he let the whip trail along behind him. He rounded the corner hesitantly with his left hand ready to draw. Descor was standing just inside with his feet planted wide and a bulging indignant look on his face.
"You. I know you. You are bounty hunter." His mark said, as his hand crept around behind his back.
"Ah, ah, ah. Don't reach for it." Gharzog warned, drawing and leveling one of his blaster while giving his whip a tug to to leave it in the open space between them so that it was ready to use. The Houk wisely brought his hands out in the open and spoke:
"You are Hutt lackey. Hutts are bad bosses, I give you better deal." Always with the deals. Sometimes he took them, sometimes not. But this sleazebag wasn't getting one of those.
"Put these 'ere on." He quietly ordered, tossing a pair of binders in front of him.
"Hah. I am not going to Hutts. You can go tell them to-"
Descor started to protest, crossing his arms before he cut him off:
"Put 'em on." With a tightening of his grip on his blaster.
"You are too-" -BDAP-.
He started to say before Gharzog pulled the trigger, the room flashed red, and another corpse joined the dead in Nal Hutta. He had no qualms in putting this one down. Damn, had he started to grow a conscience?
Something to be dealt with later. He turned off and coiled up the whip and returned it to it's place before pulling out a datapad and pointing it at the body. With an eye on the doorway, he waited for the confirming scan to take place. Come on, come on, someone had to have heard those shots.
"Hey, what in the kr-" Someone shouted, coming in. He didn't hesitate, firing three times in quick succession at the intruder's legs. He collapsed with a pained shout, clutching his shot leg. Over the clamour, he heard the distinct chirp that meant the datapad had finished. Time to be gone.
"Sorry, mate." He apologized to the shot Twi'lek before hitting him in the head with the butt of his pistol, knocking him unconscious. The he turned and left, heading for the closest exit which was unfortunately right through the cantina. This was going to be bad...
He opened the doors and stepped out into the scene of noise and chaos as the partying continued. He glanced over to the side of Descor's table and noticed the other bodyguard pointing right at him.
Well, kriff.
He ran, making straight for the doors.
"Stop him!" Someone shouted, and there was the loud blast of someone shooting. Dancers yelled and screamed, scattering in different directions whilst the band slipped away backstage. Gharzog mingled with the crowd as he fled, ducking in and out of the groups with his coat flaring behind him. He vaulted over a flipped table and ducked behind it, right as a burst of blaster fire thudded into the other side. With his one blaster still in his left hand, he peeked out and opened fire on a group of Descor's thugs as his right drew and fired his other. He dropped three but there had to be another eight of them. A Gammorean charged their way but was quickly gunned down. He ducked again as they took notice and opened fire on him. Alright, time to think fast. He could take eight out but he couldn't stay to deal with them. Already, an assortment of other blasters were drawn and shots exchanged between different parties. To his right, a patron was strangling another against a table while to his left an assortment of hired guns fired wildly into the air. He needed to get out of here quick, which meant it was time for something risky.
Gritting his teeth behind his rebreather, he accessed the controls on his forearm plate and activated the jets in his boots, manipulating them with a finger of his left hand. He shot upwards and backwards as he used the blaster in his right hand to fire a staccato of shots in the general direction of his pursuers. A few returned his way but they were wildly aimed and passed harmlessly to either side of him. With a glance over his shoulder, he adjusted his course to land on a catwalk high above the cantina floor. Another flurry of blaster fire sizzled against the the railing, blowing a portion clean off. One clipped past his face, close enough for him to feel searing heat around his eyes. Kriff, that was close. Alright, time to finish this.
He holstered a blaster and and reached into a pocket to pull out a silvery metal sphere, a button on the side was pressed and held for a second, then two, before he threw it down below. The thermal detonator exploded in a deafening starburst of orange and red, smoking shards impacting in every which direction.
As he turned and fled the destruction along the catwalk, the thought occurred to him that it might not have been the wisest decision to just firebomb a popular cantina. Ahh, hell.
Too late now, he kept running until he reached a locked door which he promptly solved with a blaster shot.
"Hey!" An accusatory shout demanded as a Rodian stood shocked in the doorway.
"Sorry!" He commented before decking him with a fist and moving on. A series of complicated warren-like hallways stretched in every direction. He chose one at random and started running as a few sporadic bursts of blasterfire sounded through the building with the occasional explosion. He might have just started a turf war.
With one of his blasters still in hand, he skirted around a corner, then another corner to find a dead-end in his path. He turned around to come face-to-face with more thugs.
"Trapped like a bog-rat..." One of them remarked as the other two chuckled. They all trained weapons on him and closed in.
He raised his free hand and curled his hand into a fist before pressing down on one of his controls. Fire flared out of a concealed nozzle, consuming the opposite side of the corridor in a wall of flame bathing everything in orange light. The three pursuing him didn't even have time to yell. He kept the button depressed for a moment longer then released it, with his hand unharmed beneath the treated glove. The same could not be said for the others; it wasn't a pretty sight as he left them and the burning area behind to pick a different intersection, following it down another direction.  Finally, a staircase here led upstairs. He went up it and out through a sturdy door onto the cantina's rooftop beneath a hazy, smog-filled night sky, Nar Shaddaa glittering above like a metallic jewel above. His gaze flicked about to the nearby rooftops as he crossed over the cantina's own in a few long strides. On the street below were crowds of patrons clamouring for taxis, shouting, and arguing as the flash of blasterfire lit up the scene below. He'd made a real mess of it tonight, this would cost him. Gordobo was going to-
The door wooshed open behind him.
In a split second, he had turned and trained his blaster on the entrance. Standing there was the Zabrak he had noticed before with black cloth covering up his entire head and shoulders, with only his yellow eyes gleaming in the night. He knew he'd be trouble. Clutched in this figure's right hand was a long staff-like pole but after a moment of closer inspection, he realized that it was a force pike. His blood ran cold at that; one strike with that and it was the end for him - Some heavy durasteel or Mandalorian Iron might stop it but he had neither.
"Gharzog." The figure said, stepping forwards then stopping as he shifted his aim to the man's head.
"That's far 'nough, mate." He warned, eyes flicking between him and the surrounding area. His name was known, but that wasn't unduly surprising, he had a considerable reputation here on Nal Hutta. The Zabrak hadn't moved his gaze at all from him as he spoke:
"I have business to conduct with you." Was the cold, emotionless statement he uttered.
"Bad timin', then. 'Me office hours close at midnight." Gharzog returned, putting one of his feet on the low railing surrounding the roof.
"You'd best come with me." Were his words. Well, he had no intention of that. He fired several shots at the figure's feet and used the moment to get across the gap between rooftops, touching down on the roof opposite, his boots clattering on the metal plating that had been half-eaten by rust. Behind him on the the cantina roof, the Zabrak raised his pike in the air and simply watched him. If it was a salute or a warning, he didn't know but he was sure he'd find out later. Instead he turned and fled into the grimy Nal Hutta night.

A few dim lights illuminated a quiet, barely populated platform. A few gnats and bugs buzzed around from a small pond of brackish water. It was perfectly still, there was no air movement to deliver relief from from the hot, sticky humidity. There was only three people on the platform. An exhausted-looking Weequay foreman, a well-dressed but frazzled business executive, and a young Twi'lek in a jacket, nervously clenching and unclenching his hand on a blaster in a quick draw holster. Gharzog strolled up to this still scene and leaned on one of the lamp posts. It had been a long, long night. After the cantina, he'd gone to Gordoba and had presented the bounty. Despite it being filled, the Hutt had not been happy. The job had been messy and sloppy. A high body count, property damage, a general panic, and a ticked off gang. Gordobo, like all Hutts, didn't care about public relations but he cared deeply about the bottom line and his little incident cut into profits. The Hutt wouldn't punish him for it - He was freelance anyway - But he had taken a big chunk out of the bounty. Probably more than really necessary; slimy Hutt.
Oh well, the job was done. and there was nothing to change it now.
The others waiting on the platform sized him up but remained quiet and continued waiting. Nar Shaddaa was a planet that never slept and Nal Hutta didn't either but it did have quieter hours even if the factories ran all day, all night, all week.
Their wait came to an end when a small beaten-up shuttle landed on the platform landed on the platform with a wave of soot and grime. Gharzog squinted through it until the engines powered down a bit and a door clanked open, falling on the pad with a loud bang. He waited until the other passengers got aboard before climbing up the ramped door inside. It was cramped and dirty inside with rows of stained seats that had buckles for keeping people in them. A droid, some sort of protocol unit that had been mashed with a waiter droid extended a mismatched arm.
"Your ticket. Do ticket." It stated. He passed it a card which it tapped against a sensor on his chest with a beep.
"Thank you. Hatita." The droid intoned as it returned it. He slipped it into a coat pocket and made his way towards a seat at the very rear of the shuttle. Then the door was slowly, painstakingly closed by servos that were well past their prime. Taking care to strap in first, he then settled in for the rest of the journey as the droid moved over to a locking port. The shuttle slowly began to rise before shooting off, howling towards space. Everything shook and rattled in the craft and the wind screamed outside as it laboriously ascended at a steep angle. There were no windows to tell what was happening outside but he could guess that the shuttle was struggling as it made it's way out of the atmosphere.  Finally after a few more moments of violent shaking, it stopped rattling and everything quieted down. He released a breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding  and closed his eyes for a moment. Another job survived.
It hadn't been anywhere near as risky as some of his others but you never quite got used to near-death experiences.
But that was enough thinking on that for him, he things to be doing. The first thing he did was pull out a small sensor from off his belt and ran it over him from his boots to his hat. Then he pulled out his datapad and accessed what the sensor had found. There was a whole list of substances and materials, weapons and equipment. What he focused on however were abnormalities, anything foreign like a tracker - Outside of his own, of course.
Satisfied that there were none, he out away the 'pad and sensor to reach down to his boots. Thin hosing ran from his footwear up the inside of his pant legs and then to his bracers, along the inside of his undershirt beneath his blast vest, which was underneath his coat. Then it doubled back to connect to a small canister on his belt. It was a small supply of fuel that he used for his jets and his flamethrower, equaling about two minutes of flight time or thirty seconds of burn time. There were no kinks in the hosing which was good, nor did there seem to be any kind of nicks. With a nod to himself, he ran an assessment on the equipment he'd used and what would need replacing. Quite a bit of fuel, a thermal detonator, and the powers packs in his blasters would all need replacing.
More things to chalk up to the budget...
He sighed as the shuttle began to rattling, reentering the atmosphere of Nar Shaddaa. It'd be something to deal with later. There was more shaking around, several sharp tilting turns, a few sudden drops, then the ship banged down onto a landing platform with a screech of metal. The droid detached itself from it's port before clomping over to the door which fell open with another loud bang.
Gharzog waited until the rest of the passengers left before disembarking himself onto a bustling platform. Shuttles constantly loaded and took off in a continual cycle whilst passengers boarded or left in streams. There was the sound of engines, the clatter of droids and equipment, and the indistinguishable chatter of the crowds. Lights flashed and holograms sparkled as advertisement after advertisement assailed passer-bys with allures of wealth, parties, pleasures, and power. In this chaotic environment, he blended in with travellers from all over the galaxy as just one more figure in the crowd. He kept his hands in his pockets and walked a casual pace with his hat down low. His goal was to look like just another anonymous drifter passing through the moon. His footsteps carried him down a walkway open to the Nar Shaddaa air, or well, smog, with more glowing billboards and wall upon wall of city blocks rising high into the night sky with millions of windows, facades, and balconies going every different direction. Then it was more closed-in corridors winding in and around the spaceport before he made his exit out onto the streets. With a glance to either side, he turned to the right, took a turbolift down a few hundred stories, found himself a nice little alleyway and waited.
He waited for a minute, then two, then five, then ten. A few people passed by but no-one entered. Satisfied that he wasn't being tailed, he doubled back, took a turbolift up some more floors, crossed a few pedestrian bridges then took a right turn, a left turn, then a right turn before hopping into a different lift and going down a few stories to emerge in a quieter part of Nar Shaddaa. It wasn't exactly clean, nothing on this planet really was, but it was cleaner. No gang elements on the streets. A nice park with holographic trees, an overtaxed cleaning droid trying to keep things tidy, and fake grass. He crossed the avenue to an apartment door lit by a dim neon sign and keyed in an access code: six, nine, nine, one, four. The door buzzed and slid open, to which he entered a modest condominium corridor. He followed it a ways, took a left turn, then went up to a door marked '4,213'.
With a sigh, he punched in another six-digit code to which the door unlocked and he manually slid it open, stepped inside, then slid it shut behind him.
"I'm home!" He called out, to which Jee'Jee stepped out from one of the rooms.
"Your late." She commented, pulling off her chemist's gloves.
"Good to see 'ye too." He replied with a chuckle.
She softened somewhat and smiled, allowing him to hug her.
"Jelgi sleepin'?" Gharzog asked, stepping back to undo his rebreather.
"She should be." The twi'lek replied with a roll of her eyes.
He nodded and sighed, the tenseness and strain of the past few hours rolling off his shoulders.
"Hard job?" She asked in a quieter tone.
"Aye." Was his simple reply. Then as she silently looked at him in wordless expectation, he elaborated:
"Might'a had to shoot a coupla goons and ehh... Blow up a cantina in the process."
Jee'jee winced at that and shook her head.
"Your going to get yourself killed in this line of work."
"I know, I know... But it's the only thing I know, 'ey? I can't be a factory foreman."
"Just... Be more careful." She sighed out.
"A'ight... A'ight. I will. For now... I'm headin' off to bed."
He trudged off towards the bedroom, utterly exhausted, glad that it was all over.

Exephos; a haunted war-ravaged veteran.
Shad'ra; an indecisive ex-mandalorian.
Gharzog; a happy-go-lucky gun for hire.