ABOARD A SPACE PLATFORM, SOMEWHERE ABOVE TATOOINE...
Trini Halrixien gritted her teeth, her hand groping beneath the table for the spot where a blaster usually rested on her hip. She of course felt empty space; the goons at the door of the cantina had taken her weapon.
"The card, Jakar, the deal was for the card."
From across the table, a pinch-faced Neimoidian sneered down at the diminutive Amaran. He withdrew a small object from an inside pocket of his robes, twirling it disinterestedly.
"My credits are no good to you, Miss Halrixien?"
Trini bristled, glancing down at the small mound of chits in the middle of the table. Of course Jakar was going to try and buy her off; he probably suspected what was on the card as much as she did. If Trini's theory bore out, it was more valuable than anything the young archaeologist could offer for it, and she knew it. Her only hope was to stick to the letter of the agreement she had made with the Neimoidian, and hope that stubbornness would win the day.
If not... well, she really missed her blaster about now.
"Your credits weren't what we agreed upon." She countered, glowering. "I agreed to acquire a piece that you claim has great sentimental value. I have, and you have seen the holos to prove it. As soon as the card is in my hand, the item you requested will be in yours. That was the deal."
This was a scene Trini, only months before, would never have pictured herself in. Nor would she have imagined herself habitually carrying a blaster, another thing she now did. Ever since the dig on Raxus Prime, however, Trini had found her life taking a decidedly more exciting turn, and though she still wasn't sure what she felt about it, she did wish to be prepared for it.
The Neimoidian smirked.
"I am a man of my word."
Trini watched as the green-skinned alien set the small object he had been turning in his hand on the table. He slid it toward Trini, but kept his hand on it.
"Let me see what it is you have brought, however."
Reluctantly, Trini raised her hand and snapped her fingers. An ancient server droid tottered over, holding a tray, from which Trini took a broach containing a single cloudy yellow gem. She slid it across the table toward the Neimoidian, who immediately snatched it, leaving Trini to grab the object and pull it toward her. She looked at it almost reverently, while across the table, the Neimoidian did the same.
"At long, long last... the remains if Noidama, first of my family line, are restored to my clan's protection. A momentous day."
The Neimoidian picked up the flute of amber liquid beside him, lifting it.
"A toast, Miss Halrixien, to great beings of the past."
Before Trini could think, the little Amaran lifted her own glass.
"To great beings."
She downed the drink in a single gulp. When she did, she failed to notice the Neimoidian's wicked smile.
"And now, Miss Halrixien, I propose another trade for you." He held up a vial of blue liquid. "The datapunch I just handed you, for this little vial."
Trini, uncomprehending, narrowed her eyes.
"W-What's in the vial?"
The Neimoidian laughed.
"Antidote." He said. "For the poison you just drank!"
As the Neimoidian and his thugs laughed, Trini could imagine she was starting to get light-headed.
The Outer Rim had been the "wild frontier" for centuries. You would think these worlds would have civilized by now. No, all they seem to do is dish out turmoil among themselves and sometimes the greater galaxy. The Outer Rim was like mythical beasts that lured hapless spacers and settlers to their doom with a hypnotizing song. Pretty to hear about, lethal to see. Nevertheless, as a Sector Ranger, that's often where Corran ended up. Without any centralized authority on many planets, criminals of the worst kind often took root. Not to mention slavers. Where there is no law, Sector Rangers are there to enforce some semblance of it. Even if they didn't like the places where lawlessness developed.
That's why Ranger Velt ended up in a space platform cantina above Tatooine. The Outer Rim required a lot of regular patrols runs and keeping ones ear low to the ground for the organization. Information against frontier crime was half the battle. A few tables behind him, there was a Neimoidian by the looks of it, two brutes, and a small child at a booth in the corner. He didn't know the species, but he was pretty certain that slamming drinks down with a minor was indecent at best, but likely the first step on an illegal transaction. Were they trafficking the little one? Threatening? No matter what it was, Corran wasn't one to ignore criminal activity, no matter how small.
The Ranger got up from the barstool after taking a swig of water from his canteen. With his pants pressed at the seams and tucked neatly into his boots, jacket secured up the collar, and face clean shaven, Corran looked like the definition of professional. The only thing missing was his badge, tucked away on the inside of his coat for secrecy. The human man stopped just short of the goons and gestured to the minor opposite the Neimoidian, "I don't know who you are, but I'm fairly certain it is frowned upon almost everywhere to be getting minors drunk. Why don't you let the kid go and we have a quick chat? A trade, maybe."
Corran didn't have a blaster on him, but he was betting he could get an advantage on the Neimoidian. They were a mercantile people and the Ranger was more space trader than police officer by experience. Either that or he'd have to slam his metal flask into the head of the nearest thug and get lucky.
"Hmm"The man murmured as he couldn't help but overhear the discussion between an Amaran and Neimoidian. Lucien brought a hand up to his chin and used his thumbnail to scratch at the faintest hints of stubble. He would shave again tomorrow morning, preferring to not have a beard.
Across his back he had a quality bantha hide jacket and underneath a clean blast vest meant to look a little more classy than the average one. The grey vest covered a simple black shirt. Better dressed than most other occupants in the orbiting station around Tattooine, the Morganian didn't plan on going to the surface of the dusty planet. He was just passing through and need to refuel his ship before moving on.
He was not one to interviene but with his blank expression, continued to glance occasionally at the mirrior behind the bar that allowed him to see what was going on in the rest of the establishment. His eye cocked a little when he watched the Amaran's hand dissappear though it didn't draw a weapon.
Poison was mentioned. Another curiosity. Lucien was glad he left home years ago. His life would have been dull and nothing spectacular. The one other man who didn't look like an absolute scoundrel or vagabond approached the table the Amaran and the Neimoidian occupied. The grey eyes of the Morganian had his back to them but knew that force sensitives were the type to attract attention. Thusly he would sit and watch for the time being while keeping his presence in the force masked.
Trini's head swam as she felt the poison - what was it, a Kaminoan nerve scrambler, perhaps? - begin to set in. She scowled at the Neimoidian across the table, her hands closing protectively around the small object she had been given.
"You slimy, double-crossing, no go-!"
Through the gathering haze, the little Amaran felt something, and turned, watching a clean-shaven human approach. His appearance was at odds with the decor and clientele of the cantina, but Trini felt an instinctive trust toward the man.
That's dangerous, Trini. She thought to herself. You've seen enough of the Galaxy to know that's almost NEVER the case!
When the newcomer spoke, Trini gaped incredulously.
"'Scuse you, human!" She snapped, shuddering a little from the poison. "I'm 23 years old, and I've got the student debt to prove it!"
From across the table, there was laughter from the Neimoidian.
"Yes, yes! Though if she doesn't wise up, she won't get much older!" He sneered at Corran. "This doesn't concern you, human, I suggest you go back to your drink!"
The little alien seemed a bit more offended by the assumption of their age than the scoundrel they were making deals with. 23 cycles old and still so small? Others could forgive him for an honest mistake, Corran reassured himself. That solved the potentially illegal sharing of beverages with a kid, though. The undisclosed Ranger was weighing if he should let it all be bygones if it really was two adults striking a bargain on a seedy station in the Outer Rim.
That was until the Neimoidian opened his mouth. 'If she doesn't wise up, she won't get much older' sounded like a threat. Telling him to buzz off confirmed it. Whatever was happening here, the fiesty furry alien was in trouble. Between the two goons, could Corran even reach her? He wasn't a Jedi with some magic tricks up his sleeve. It would take something bold or just crazy enough to work.
"My drink?" Corran asked aloud, before lifting up his canteen and jingling it in his hand, "Oh right." The young human raised his drink in a quick toast to the Neimoidian and looked as if he was tipping it back for a sip. Right before pelting the scoundrel right in the head with it. The Neimoidan yelped and covered his face after the metal canteen collided with his face. The vial of blue liquid clattered on the table, spilling a bit, before settling on its base.
"Run, kid!" Corran shouted, knowing full well the other alien wasn't a child. They were closer to the same age. The two thugs spun around to look at their startled boss before gritting their teeth in anger. A furious jab hit Corran square in the chest and sent him tumbling backwards onto the counter of the bar. The human caught himself with his elbows next to a finely-dressed man who stuck out nearly as much as the undercover Ranger did. "Sorry," Corran muttered slid away down the counter as two balled fists came crashing down where he once stood, knocking over and rattling drinks at the bar.
Back on his feet, the human steadied himself and raised two fists, "You're making a big mistake," he bluffed to the goons.
As the human male tumbled against the bar, sending a sudden judder from the impact, the fiery haired female who had been seated at the end of the bar, shot her head up from where it had been resting on folded arms "Oh will you stop hitting the bulkhead Spares!" the female drowsily muttered as she semi consciously emerged from her nap. Stretching her arms out as she yawned, her gaze scanning over the bar briefly focusing on the blue Twilek standing behind the counter of the Bar - her eyebrow cocking in a look of curiosity as the barman's attention seemed to be focused on something or the other.
A narrowed and bemused gaze lingered over the male as he slid down from the counter, seemingly slumping over, the brief momentary thought that he must of hit is limit flashed through her mind - only to be cut short as some thug slammed a pair of heavy fists down onto the counter. Ok hes not blind drunk, just pissed someone off! the pilot concluded in her groggy state, as she watched the man get back to his feet and put up his dukes and disapeared out of view, audibly squaring up to the thug.
"Pssst, Bluie" Eisa spoke out over towards the barman, pulling his attention away from the brawl that was breaking out behind her. "Pint of Slurring Sarlac please, also whats the deal with the tussle?" she added once she could see that she held the barman's attention, her head nonchalantly jerking backwards in the direction of where the human had disappeared to before tossing over a credit chip. Admittedly it would have been alot subtler if she had actually looked for herself, but it would have been likely that she would have gotten the wrong end of the stick that and she did enjoy a good bit of gossip!
.Observing the world from a reflection takes time to adjust. But it helped Lucien to not move and just watch the turn of events that happened behind him. His grey irises looked curiously at the mirror behind the bar and occasionally looked back at himself. At one point he noticed a bit of dust on his jacket and he made sure it was just sitting on the outerwear and not ingrained or stained into it. A murmur of satisfaction came from him before returning to watch the escalating events. Does Tatooine even have police? This is Hutt Cartel territory isn't it?
His thought was interrupted as the clean shaven blonde man slammed into the bar beside him. He warranted a direct look from the Morganian. "Good luck." Lucien said simply in response and finished the last of his libation soon after. He doubted whatever he said mattered in comparison to the immediate danger of a lawless cantina brawl. One of the thugs missed and would have rattled the man's cup but he set it down after the strike had passed.
Lucien stared at those that looked like they were intent on continuing violence. He didn't order a second drink. The one had been enough and while the stuntman was glad for the quality of his drink compared to some establishments it was on the low end of his preferences. He slid off the side of the barstool and stood up. One of the thugs took it as a challenge or threat because he ignored Corran and came for Lucien.
The well dressed man looked at the man's eyes and saw the fist reel back to deck him but he stepped back and moved to avoid the hit. The thug's arms were thick and if they hit Lucien he knew it would hurt, a lot. But the swing was fairly telegraphed. Lucien just lashed out with a jab to the man's nose. His knuckles felt the cartalige crumple and the wet blood spurt onto a portion of a fist. The henchman stumbled back a few steps but Lucien didn't hit him again. <"Aw my nose"> Both hands were raised to his face and blood was beginning to reach his chin. Lucien just stood there, waiting to see if he dared try it again. Don't mistake my class for fragility
Trini watched the open vial sail through the air as if it were in slow motion. She watched it strike the table, bounce, and then settle, a splash of the blue solution within spattering on the ultresin tabletop.
At heart, the young Amaran still wasn't sure she was an adventurer at heart, but what she had endured in the Galaxy so far had sharpened her reflexes considerably. She lunged across the table, reaching for the unprotected vial and closing around it, when a larger hand snapped closed around her own. She looked up to see the Neimoidian before her, a purplish bruise spreading in the middle of his forehead.
"Not so fast, little one!"
Trini, head still swimming, thought she heard someone tell her to run. Instead, she reached for a glass of something fluorescent and threw it in the Neimoidian's face. Crystal shards and high-proof alcohol sent the alien backward, shrieking and reflexively releasing her hand; Trini nearly lost her grip on the vial as she threw herself away, juggling it precariously in mid air.
Meanwhile, at Eisa's inquiry, the bartender looked up with disinterest, before returning to polishing a glass. He shrugged slightly.
"None a' my business." He said nonchalantly. "Deal gone bad, I'd guess. Spice or summat."
It seems that the undisclosed Ranger's bluff came true with the intervention of a bystander. A well-dressed gentlemen who nearly KO'd his goon opponent in one thrust of his fist. Corran would have to thank him later. The thug opposing him swung high and Corran ducked to avoid getting a haymaker to the cranium. In reply, the Ranger plunged his fist into the gut of the goon; knocking the wind out of him. Finally a moment to think. Corran glanced around to see if the kid - ahem - young adult who looked like they needed help had taken his advice to beat it.
In the corner, the Neimoidian looked like he wouldn't be conscious for a few hours. The alien's face was wet with alcohol and cut a few times with bits of glass. Now where was the --
A meaty fist collided with the undercover Ranger's face. The winded goon had gathered his breath sooner than expected. The punch sent Corran tumbling backwards. Only the metal wall of the cantina spared him from falling flat on his rear. With a groan, he rubbed his jaw and nose to check for more permanent damage. Luckily, nothing so far. Immediately to his left, there was the smaller alien from earlier. She moved rather clumsily and was trying get a grip on some vial of blue liquid. Gods and Stars, you have a drinking problem. Corran thought to himself. Regardless of her alcoholism, the little alien needed more time.
Pushing off the wall, Corran squared up his opponent who had a cocky grin on their brutish face. Fist-a-cuffs wouldn't do. The Ranger got low and charged the thug. He collided with his attacker's mid-section and wrapped his arms around him tightly. The force of the tackle sent them both smashing against the base of the bar near a woman with a cybernetic arm. The thug groaned in conscious pain. Corran put an end to that by raising both is hands, wrapped together, down upon his head. Gods, the Ranger hated fist-fights. "Got any water?" He breathlessly asked the barkeep.
Just then, the two guards at the entry of the establishment who typically patted everyone down for weapons came in and noticed their brutalized boss.
Rolling her eyes with a sigh at the response from the Barman, the fiery haired female couldn't help but feel a touch disappointed that there was no juicy gossip about the brawl that was kicking up within the cantina. Shrugging it off Eisa reached for her poured pint, and spun her seat around so that she could lean her back against the bar counter as she sipped away at her lager, figuring that she may as see for herself what was going on. Her attention turning to the man who had earlier came crashing into the bar, an inquisitive arching of her eyebrow as she watched him cup his hands together and bring them crashing down on a rather thuggish looking goon - knocking him out cold.
A grin crossing her features as she plonked her feet onto the unconscious man on the ground beside her, before watching the man pull himself back up onto his feet and leaning against the counter before breathlessly asking for water from the barman. Her gaze narrowing as she tilted her head to look over the man's shoulder, at the sight of two bouncers come barrelling into the cantina, their eyes looking upon their bloodied boss, before looking at the human ranger and the fiery haired pilot sipping on a beer using the unconscious goon as a foot stool.
The grin swiftly faded off of her features as she watched the bouncers roll up their sleeves, and fish out a pair of vibro knuckler's from their pockets and thread their fingers through them. She could sense the Force around the two men darken as it reacted to their intent to kill, with a groan Eisa necked the lingering contents of her glass, before tapping on Corran's shoulder. "You wanna sit this one out?" Eisa spoke with a bright eyed wide grin as she nodded her head in the direction of the closing in bounders. Without waiting for a response, the fiery haired female sprang up from her bar stool, jumping off from the unconscious body and lunging towards the approaching bouncers
As she pounced towards the two bouncers, Eisa balled up her cybernetic hand as she wound the yellow plated metallic arm back, whilst her other arm swung across her body to grab at the railing of the bar on her left hand side. Clamping her hand around the railing, the fiery haired female allowed her built up momentum to carry as she spun round on her feet - her cybernetic arm swinging out in a wide circle as she spun round. With a heavy sound of metal crashing against flesh, Eisa's fist cold cocked the nearest of the bouncers with a sudden sucker punch - sending him tumbling to the ground.
Pressed up against the bar, the fiery haired figure then pushed off from the counter with her arms as she raised her leg towards the second bouncer, kicking him in the chest and driving him backwards as he stumbled a for a few steps as he tried to regain his breath after being unexpectedly winded. As the bouncer regained himself, Eisa figured it would only be fair that she armed herself as well, her hand reaching for the stun baton that hung from her waist - only to remember that they were sitting in the secured drop lockers after she had surrendered them to gain entry into the cantina. Looking about her imediate vacinity, her emerald gaze settled upon a metal serving tray that had been left at the bar by the apathetic barman. "better than nothing"
Lucien caught the other acts of brutality in his peripheral. But pain was was not always necessary. There were more peaceful ways to dealing with conflict, less evident ways that wouldn't betray his true fiendish side. Clearing his throat and dragging a flat palm down the front of his outfit, the Morganian brushed any dirt that would have otherwise been left on his person.
The other occupants of the establishment seemed to have a more provocative time than he. Lucien's head first turned towards the mirror behind the bar, used to looking in the reflection, having been sitting at the bar for the past hour or so. But his chin turned back towards the golden haired paladin while he was sent careening into a wall. A casually concerned expression on Lucien's face came over him.
The man with the broken nose seemed to have taken this as an opening and overreached with an emotional swing. Don't let your pride get in the way of victory He thought, knowing he couldn't avoid the first swing. Lucien's arm dropped to try and metigate the strike to his torso. The thug who attacked him must have not been as much of an amature as the stuntman had expected because he followed up with a flurry of blows that Lucien could just do his best to block. It was a heartbeat before Lucien was backed up against the same wall that Corran had nearly fallen against.
Lucien felt one of his ribs crack and a roar of pain shot from the man as he furiously wrapped both hands around the back of his attacker's head. None the less he kept striking. But the man let his grip loosen for just a moment after bringing him inside his own stricking range. The thug reflexively pulled back to get more distance and striking momentum. Survival It was the singular thought as he pulled the man's head back closer, only this time it wasn't his torso the thug burried his face in, it was the Morganian's hard knee. A crunch followed and the scum's body went limp though Lucien took a moment, leaning against the wall, one hand covering his torso where the bruiser had struck him a number of times. So uncivilized
Trini, meanwhile, raised the vial of blue liquid to her lips, seeming entirely focused on it as she downed the contents in a single gulp. Almost immediately, she began to feel better; her head began to clear, and the world stopped spinning. Blinking experimentally, she looked down at the object she still clutched in her other hand.
I've got it! Finally!
The little Amaran didn't take long to celebrate. Clipping the object to a chain that hung around her neck and tucking it beneath her shirt, she looked around, seeing the chaos unfolding around her. She watched as three other combatants - all beings she didn't yet know - systematically took apart the thugs being sent against them.
"Oh hells, I should get out of here!"
The little Amaran picked herself up and ran, weaving around and between the legs of the other patrons. As she passed, she lashed out to trip one of the bouncers advancing on a tray-wielding human female, sending him crashing to the floor. As she dashed toward the door, she shot a salute back toward the three.
"Thanks for the distraction everybody! I gotta boost, though!"
Instead of a welcome glass of water, a finger tapped on Corran’s shoulder. A turn of the head revealed it was the woman with the blazing hair and the cybernetic appendage. Sit this one out? The question was a thought, but the confusion was plain on his face. The woman gestured towards the approaching bouncer’s, now adorned in their preferred weaponry, with a smile on her face and confident emerald eyes. In feats of super-human dexterity, the woman dispatched not one but both bouncers with a powerful hook and an empty tray. The blond youth’s confused face was joined by a mouth agape.
Another thud soon followed. Corran glanced over to see a dapper, well-dressed man with a larger opponent at his feet, unconscious. Several knocked unconscious and likely saved the Ranger’s rib-cage, if not his life, thanks to the efforts of these unnamed good citizens. A final thug came late to the party and foolishly headed for the mechanically-armed woman only to be tripped by the original problem-child that started it all. With a crisp salute and something of a joke, the little alien darted out of the space station cantina.
Normally, the young Sector Ranger wouldn’t have thought much of it. However, Corran never announced himself as law enforcement and he had gotten mixed up in this whole scenario because he believed said individual was in danger. If he didn’t at least get the name and information of the supposed victim, there would be hell to pay in paperwork. He could already hear his commanding officer grilling him on why he assaulted patrons on a space station in the Outer Rim.
Gulping down a lung-full of air, the young man shoved off the bar counter and began racing out after the furry alien. Remembering his manners, Corran called out, “Thank you!” to the woman and bruised man. If he got the information he needed, he’d be right back to take the unconscious criminals into custody. Once out the doorway, only a tiny tail around the corner gave any hint of the runaway’s direction. “Hey, wait!” Heavy boot-falls echoed against the metal floors of the space station as Corran raced in pursuit. "Sector Rangers! Halt!" He shouted ahead, hoping respect for authority might stall the fleeing victim. It never worked, but regulations were regulations.