As the swirls of hyperspace flash across the window, Tarloss slides the pilot’s seat back a bit and kicks his feet up onto the panel. He exhales a long drawn out plume of smoke. His thoughts are distant. His thoughts dwell in the past. He recounts the events of that fateful day. The day he was called out on a challenge for his standing as the top gunslinger in the Corporate Sector. Just like the day he called out his predecessor.
The new kid on the block was some hotshot named Gallandro; they were all hotshots, all cocky of their ability. But today of all days something was different. He knew it; Tarloss always knew he would meet his demise at the end of a blaster. Today might be that day. He had been keeping tabs on this Gallandro guy; he had been making a name for himself over the last year.
He sees just as clearly as if he were there again. The sun off to the east it soft golden glow painting the landscape. His opponent standing there waiting, his eyes half squinted. Then the time came, both reached for their weapons. Everything moved like a well lubed ion assembly. His hand glided over the surface of the handle. The silky feeling he got running up his arm as the blaster slid from the holster. The automatic response of his arm moving up into position to take the head shot. The tension rising in his finger tip to pull the trigger and finish the execution of the shot.
Then something new happened. A new feeling. What was it; it was the burning of his skin. The pain of burning flesh on his right shoulder. The smell was awful, worse than any other time he had taken in this smell, this time it was HIS flesh. Then again, the pain appeared in a different location, this time it was his stomach that yearned for relief from the boiling of his blood and the eating of his flesh by energy. Then another new feeling this time it was the back of his head. The impact from hitting the floor was almost as bad as getting shot. Then things started to get fuzzy and blurry. And finally a figure appears in his hazy vision.
“Yeah, he’s had it. This is finished” is all Tarloss heard and then black.
Somehow without realizing it, Tarloss had crawled about 3 kilometers to the nearest hospital and crawled into the building. He still keeps a record of the video footage showing him dragging himself in there. With a blink of an eye and a quick shaking of his head, Tarloss returns to real life. He can almost make out the smell of his burning flesh again.
He looks and the panel is flashing the reversion alarm for real space. A minute or two later the ship reverts to normal space. With a flicker of a few switches and some tugging on the control stick Tarloss lines up for Kala’uun Star port on Ryloth. He keys in the designated comm. frequency.
"This is Tarloss Ren a freelance peacekeeping agent sent here under orders of Senator Taa. I am sending my confirmation code now."
With a squelch and a screech his code is transmitted.
"Please have a docking pad made available so I may land and proceed with my mission as expeditiously as possible."
Lucky for Tarloss he was able to acquire a full military version of his courier ship, with the encrypted comms system and weapons.
"I will now contact star port control for my clearance."
Tarloss changes frequencies to the starport control frequency, “This is independent vessel Severance Package I am calling to request landing clearance.”
Static comes over the line and then a low snarly voice comes over the comms, “Independent vessel Severance Package, please transmit your documents and manifest and wait for your docking clearance.”
Tarloss almost looses his patience, “You should have all you need there already, clear me to land right away.”
Then the voice comes back over the speaker, “What! Who do you think you are?! You better smarten up if you want to land here and...”, the speaker goes silent for a second, "Independent vessel Severance Package you are cleared to land at pad 7-365, your consumables and fuel have already been cleared and paid for. You have immediate landing clearance”, the voice crackles with some annoyance in its tone.
“Thank you Kala’uun control, Severance Package out.”
One last time Tarloss key to a different frequency,”The mynock is in the roost seven tack three sixer fiver. 5 minutes,” then Tarlos turns off his comm unit. It is always a good day when he can get two different jobs at the same place.
He deftly controls the ship through the cavern and up to his designated landing coordinates. Once he lands he gathers his gear and places and envelope with a data card in the refuse bin. He checks his blasters charges and proceeds down the ramp.
He locates the services chief and notices he is wearing a pin on his right lapel a pin of a nova hawk, “You, dock master, I will not be here long make sure everything is topped off for departure within the hour and all refuse must be removed and check for mynocks, I want to make sure they are not roosting on my ship.”
The dock master nods in agreement and gives Tarloss a small non military salute. Tarloss departs the landing pad and starts to head towards the bazaar. He heads towards the administrative facilities of the star port.
He enters the building and goes to the receptionist, “I need to meet with Koh’shak.”
Tarloss hands her a holographic business card. She turns and makes a quick call.
She returns an unusual look to Tarloss, “Mr. Koh’shak is currently unavailable; he requests you talk to him over the comm. Device.”
She hands Tarloss the handset, “Koh’shak, this is Ren. I am here and you know how this has to happen. I am here to make sure you agree with the Senators demands.”
There is a pause for about a minute, “Understood, I will be out of here in under an hour, no there will be no mistakes.”
Tarloss hands the handset back to the receptionist, “Thank you dear.”
Tarloss turns and walks out of the building, and heads across the procession to Mal’aa’s Kitchen. He enters the establishment and finds a little booth. He quickly orders some her fungus soup to go. He sits there with a cup of water and lights up another tabaac stick. Then he see’s the job, a large Sullustan who has been interfering with the Senator’s slave trade.
The Sullustan heads to the back, to the restroom with two guards in tow. Tarloss thinks to himself only two, he apparently has no idea who he has angered. He stands up and makes his way to the back. He turns down the passage way to the restrooms and he sees the two guards eyeballing him as he walks down.
Just as he is about to enter the restroom one of the guards, a Rodian, places a hand on his shoulder and tells him, “Sorry pal, the fresher’s full, that is why we are in line. Take a number.”
The other guard is a Houk. Under normal circumstances one would be scared of these beings, they have a nasty reputation as cut throat and just plain bad, but I am not normal and these are unusually normal circumstances for me.
“Sorry pal, didn’t realize there was a line.”
Tarloss looks down at the Rodian’s blaster and his eyes light up and in an upbeat voice he says, “Hey that is a Thunderer isn’t it?”
The Rodian looks down and the Houk looks away with a slight smile as if he is thinking to himself, great another young guy who wants to be running with the big dogs.
With a bit of ego now the Rodian responds “why ye…aghhh,” just like that the Rodian finds himself with a vibro-dagger through his throat and the Houk looks over to find a blaster barrel pointed right at his nose.
“I am going in there and taking care of business, you can walk away and leave me to my business or you can meet your maker like your friend here.”
The Houk had seen the wrong side of a blaster many a time, this time it was different though. He begins to squint thinking to himself, who the hell is this little guy, I can take him. Then with a silenced whine the Houk’s face is no more.
Tarloss begins thinking to himself again Poor fool should have walked, then with a thud the Houk falls to the floor, just as the door opens and with a look of awe the Sullustan tries to shut the door, but he is not fast enough.
Tarloss had unleashed three shots on the Sullustan and the smoldering slag of a corpse falls to the floor. Tarloss leaves the calling card he was contracted to leave on the body and with that Tarloss turns and walks to the counter to pick up his order and pay.
“Why thank you Mal’aa, here you go and a nice big tip for you. Take care of your little ones alright. I will make sure to stop by when I am back in Kala’uun.”
She smiles and says, “Alright, don’t be a stranger.”
Tarloss heads back to the Severance Package. Well I still have 15 minutes to spare. I have time to eat my soup. He begins preflights as he enjoys his soup.
Once he is ready he comms star port control, ”Control this is the Severance Package, request departure clearance and vector.”
“Roger Severance Package,” a voice cracks over the speaker.
iThis is not the same operator as before, Tarloss notes.
“Clearance granted, you may depart on vector 234 mark 45. Once you enter the space lane you need to make sure you are out 60 units before transitioning to hyperspace.”
“Roger that control six zero units.”
Tarloss kicks on the repulsors and shunts the power to the lateral thrusters. He begins to fly out of the cavern. Once out in the open he reaches under the panel and collects a data disk.
He places the disk in his pocket and keys on the comms, “Contract concluded”.
He then keys his next comm, “The Vorn’skers Tail has been clipped”.
A very short response comes back, “Ord Mantell, Lucky’s Depot, Chandra Fan, Conchilla.”
He then keys in a set of coordinates into the nav-computer. And once he reaches 60 units he activates the hyperdrive. And with a whoosh he leaves normal space.
Approaching Ryloth, Makus stares at the odd world through the canopy. Its strange orbit kept half of the planet in darkness and the other in light. He mused to himself how it seemed so like the rest of the galaxy during this current struggle.
"Approaching vessel, this is Kala’uun Star port control. Transmit your flight plans and intended business."
The message woke Makus from his thoughts and caught him off guard, "Nix, send them the information they requested. I don't want to get into any trouble."
"Green Thumb...", the tone of the controller's voice suggested amused inquisitiveness, "you are cleared for landing at pad 18-327. Welcome to Ryloth."
The change in the being's voice was a comfort to Makus, after studying his mission while en route, he'd half expected to have his cover blown and the Empire waiting to arrest him.
"Thanks control, receiving coordinates now. Good day."
The little fighter was dwarfed as it descended into one of the ports docking tunnels. The dimly lit cavern was filled with countless beings scurrying here and there between ships and the shops lining each level. Most of the ships here were light freighters at the very least, he counted maybe three or four other small ships as he headed for his designated pad.
Once down, he gathered up his gear and headed towards the dockmaster's booth. A pudgy Twi'lek stepped up to the window as he approached.
"Greetings traveler, and welcome to Ryloth. How long will you be staying with us?"
"I don't expect to be here for more than the day. I was told my docking fees and refueling costs would already be covered."
The Twi'lek glanced down at the terminal before him and then back up at Makus, smiling, "Yes, it does say your docking fees and refueling costs have been paid for, but there is the security fee."
"Security fee? What sort of nonsense is that? Security should be covered in the docking fees!"
"Due to a recent murder discovered near this facility, we had to instill an emergency security fee for all newcomers. This fee will ensure your personal safety while you are here."
"And how much is this Security fee anyways?"
"It only costs two hundred credits per day!"
"Two hundred cred....are you insane?"
The Twi'lek gets a hurt and surprised look upon his face, "Sir, this is meant for your protection! I assure you it is no gimmick to part you from your hard earned credits!"
Makus waved his hand at the creature, "No thanks, I'll take my chances. Where's the Purple Dancer night club?"
The Twi'lek scowls at his response, "I'm sorry, but this isn't an information booth, good day!"
With that, he storms away from the security window and disappears behind a curtain hanging across a doorway.
"Friendly people! As long as they're about to take your credits that is," he thought. Then the image of Tee'la twirled through his mind and he calmed himself.
Leaving the bay, he found an information terminal in the corridor beyond and keyed in a search for the Purple Dancer. Once he found his directions, he turned and headed for the club, patting his pocket where he'd secured the datacard to be delivered to his contact.
"Okay, Myigus, I hope you're species is friendlier than these folks!"