It didn’t take long for the Fierce Tauntaun to refuel on Belsavis. Kei’s contact came through for them. They landed quietly and spent no more than two hours touched down. Turns out Kei’s contact, Optics was his nickname, had begun an outstanding operation on the surface. He had a pair of transports that would pretend to be knocked out due to a Pirate’s raid. When a passing by ship or cruiser would come by to assist, they’d be jumped once half a dozen fighters hyperspaced in and subdued the crews. As the crews were taken care of, they’d swap fuel into the transports and send them back to Optics.
Kei didn’t ask who they were targeting. It didn’t seem to matter to him as long as they had fuel into the Tauntaun. Leaving the cold tundra behind, they spent four and a half days flying directly into Hutt space. Visskiss was on edge the remainder of the trip. Kei noticed him growing uneasy as the days trickled away. He didn’t blame the Doshan.
Before Kei had hired Visskiss into his employment, he had spent three years working on Nar Shaddaa. The two never prodded each other for too much of their past. Visskiss had spoken about it once or twice over the decade of loyalty to one another. The Trandoshan had mentioned that for the first year he had been muscle of a small-time Hutt that had been trying to wedge himself into the back-water drug business. It didn’t work at first. With Visskiss’ size, most of his competitors grew more wary about him and his actions.
After the first year, things hadn’t turned out the way the Hutt wanted. Once Visskiss was showing he wasn’t gaining the reputation he recently had, he threw the Doshan into a pit-fighter’s event. That’s where the size of his species really shined.
Due to his thickened skin and aggressive behavior, Visskiss became a brutal animal against his opponents. This lasted for two years. The fights were beginning to worsen at the very end.
One day, Visskiss’ handler came in and forgot to bring in any sort of back up that he normally had when the Trandoshan was given food. This is when he struck. He was able to take down the handler, escape the pen that he was trapped in, and made his passage off Nar Shaddaa. That’s where the two of them had met.
Visskiss asked Kei would transport him off. The middle-aged man didn’t know that he was an esteemed fighter for a Hutt. If Kei hadn’t had said yes, Visskiss would have killed him like the rest and made off with his ship. Before the starship Captain dropped his newly acquired passenger off, the two ran into a Pirate’s patrol. Kei had some cargo of their rivals and wanted to loot whatever they could.
As the pirates made their way aboard, Visskiss acted as a perfect distraction for Kei to lay out the last three. Once they made their escape, Kei asked the Trandoshan if he wanted to stick around. The two have been working together since then.
Visskiss asked if he was needed as an escort on the Hutt’s planet. Kei turned down his offer. It was made to be a simple, ask-and-grab meeting. No guns, no trouble.
Landing at a Starport nearby the Hutt’s cantina, Kei stepped off the ship alone. As easy as it would have been to leave this person a comm message, in-person made it more personal. Kei heard the man that he was going to hire preferred it that way. Ensured that he got his money, and the job was more than a blue milk run. It was more up to his standards.
Kei walked through the city in his usual Captain’s attire. He wore a new pair of working slacks, with his boots polished and his shirt changed. His jacket stayed the same. It was rarely left on the bed or aimlessly on the back of a chair.
His eyes caught the edges of sky above him. It was cleaner than most Hutt owned pieces of land were known to be. The air filled with natural authenticity, with very little in exhaust and burning particles. This world was either lacking in physical resources, or the Hutts here have yet to dig in deep enough, which Kei believed was doubtful. Nar Kreeta had been in the Hutt’s possessions for years. Being this deep in Hutt territory gave you a bad reputation. You either live with them, they take your life from you, or you run far enough way to where it’d be a bother to come and take what little you have left.
Hutts. Very good for little, other than keeping up promising business deals. They were the blood and fat of the Criminal underworld. Ruthless beings that ruled with blotted fists of hate.
Drudging his way through the crowds, Kei ran into several species that had decided to colonize in this land. Typically citizens would veer away from Hutts and their particular sort of work. If only you could help it. Hutts enjoyed to move in and settled where ever they liked to. If a profit could be made, they’d lay down roots.
Stopping near a local bike shop, Kei looked around for a moment and took in the environment.
Other than the air being fresh, there were very little factories. Other than the spaceport, there had only been one other large building. Reading the holographic sign, Kei watched a dancer swing around a pole that was in the middle of the word “Farguin’s Blaster Den”.
Kei didn’t mind the push when he wanted to find someone. This was as big of a push as he could ask for. Slinking his way through the crowds once more and made his way over to the Den’s front door. Before he could enter, a heavy set Iridonian stood in the way. The man held a tighter grip on the threatening bladed pole-arm in one hand. His other was on his belt, tapping away at the leather sides. He spoke, fierce and, to some, with intimidation, “What’s your business here?”
Iridonians were a powerful, bloodthrusty species. They were known to have a set of horns on their heads, and tattoos covered their face. Kei didn’t understand the reason behind the tattoos, not having worked with many. Some have referred to them as Zabraks. Most of the species preferred Iridonian and to keep them happy, Kei never uttered the phrase “Zabrak” around them. They were known to be quick to anger, as well. Kei removed the lump from his throat, coughing into the side of his jacket. “I’m looking for a particular employee that works at this establishment.” Kei eyed the Iridonian’s red, foul pupils; the taller sentient didn’t move as Kei continued, “I was seeking an audience for his company?”
Unmoving, the Iridonian bore his sharpened incisors at Kei before he turned to the side. A crisp electric undertone muttered against the Iridonian’s hand. Speaking into it with a gargle in his tongue Kei stepped back. Watching the guard speak, Kei connected that he must have been speaking Huttese. It was a language that Kei had not familiarized himself with, sometimes seen as a weakness within his business. The guard turned to ask Kei, “Name?”
“Quee,” Kei replied. “He’s known as Quee.”
The guard turned back around and continued with the gargles. With a final nod, the electronic buzzing ceased and he turned around. “You may proceed,” the guard looked down at Kei’s attire. “No other weapons besides your blaster?”
Kei looked down as well, patting the sides of his legs and jackets. “That’s a negative. Only the blaster pistol.”
The Iridonian nodded, resuming his previous position. “Don’t cause any trouble. I leave a mess for the cleaning droids. The boss gets upset.”
Kei muttered, “I’ll keep that in mind,” as he entered the establishment. Dim lights covered the walls as Kei alone made his way inside. A burning stench stretched to the back of his head. Even before he entered the main room a headache began to grow. Whatever feeling that his nose provided, he tried his best to cut off. Finally, entering, he saw the reason why.
In the corner of the Den, there was a bar where a Devaronian stood cleaning a glass. Scattered all around the floor were tables. Some were littered with left over drinks, others occupied by those being entertained by an array of dancers. The ones with dancers were located closer to the outside of the room. The big entertainment seemed to be the tables in the middle, nearly all taken. Each one of them had a droid standing at the front, with sets of six to eight players all playing Sabaac. On the far side of the room which appeared to be a stage was middle to small sized Hutt.
Despite the size of the Hutt, the smell had blown directly into Kei’s face. He didn’t understand how all the other players were able to focus on the cards. The smell drove Kei to an edge of insanity. Choosing to focus breathing from his mouth alone, he marched forward and found a seat. His eyes scanned the patrons.
Species from all over the galaxy were here. One or two Kei couldn’t name. He noticed that the dancers consisted of Twi’leks and Humans. A few had decided to dance near the Sabaac tables. A few with weaker wills found themselves distracted by their movements. Kei also caught the eyes of a rare dancer, a Falleen female.
Falleen were a reptilian species, closer to Humans than Trandoshans. This female Falleen was a shade of bright orange. Kei had heard that they were known to be changing their hue of scales. It was also said they had a special set of pheromones that could attract the opposite sex almost irresistibly. She didn’t seem to catch Kei’s eyes as he did her. The way she moved and balanced herself near the Sabaac players mesmerized him.
Before Kei forced himself up, the Hutt spoke in a gurgling, raspy voice. Kei didn’t understand what the Hutt had been saying, but after the statement the Falleen began to fall back to the sides of the room with her scales changing to a calm green over time. Taking a deep, painful breath from the air Kei sat back down. He made sure to sit so that his eyes were in danger of falling towards the Falleen once again.
In his new spot, he had an adequate view of the stage. The Hutt, Kei assumed was named Farguin, sat in the middle of the stage. His short, stocky arms were only extending to whet the appetite that his slug-like form craved. His eyes were thick and protruded out of his body. The mixing of his light blue skin against the yellow lights above made him stand out. The tip of his tail barely touched the end of the stage. From what Kei has heard about Hutts, this one was younger than the usual Crimelords in this sector. It was a surprise that he hadn’t been kicked out yet.
Suddenly, before Kei could concentrate on finding Quee, a shout brought the room to the Sabaac games. “NO! YOU’RE THE ONE WHO STOLE FROM ME!”
Standing up, a medium sized Rodian tried to make his way from the table. The one who issued the shout, a muscled Human followed him shaking the end of his blaster into the bug’s face. “Don’t you dare run!” The human shouted at the cowering Rodian, “Fess up! You stole that pot from me!”
Kei guessed that the Rodian had sneakily won the previous hand. As the Human male moved closer, his blaster narrowing in more accurately on his target the room was still quiet. Once the Human had closed in on his professed cheater, the Rodian reverted back to senseless cries in Rodenese. Kei picked up sentences such as, “No, please check the cards!”, “I didn’t do it!”, and “Don’t shoot my face!”
Before the man could lower his aim to the Rodian’s head, a blaster shot fired out from the side of the stage. Letting out a surprised growl of pain, the aggressive male fell backwards onto his rear. A steady stream of smoke progressed from his hand, blaster gone. Moving from the side of the stage stood a sentient in full, brown armor.
With a blaster rifle, GLX Firelancer model, pressed against his right shoulder the armored man moved from the shadows behind his employer. The Human who had been shot was too focused on his wound to see the Ubese moving towards him. That was who normally wore that armor, the Ubese. They used it as environmental suits when they were off-world from their home planet. The Human looked up to see his new opponent pointing a blaster rifle at his face. The Rodian had scurried away back to the tables.
The aggressor attempted to reconcile with the marksmen. “Woah, woah… I was trying to get him to fess up was all, admit his crime. I wasn’t going to really hurt him!”
The armored man didn’t turn his head to speak to the Farguin. His throat, as Kei could hear, was already raspy and slow. The gurgling noises that escaped his tongue seemed to strain his vocal cords. Slowly asking for the next order, the Hutt laughed a deeply audible laugh. An emotion of jolly laughter that followed from the Ubese’s question to his boss troubled Kei. With a flick of Farguin’s stubby arm, the Ubese pulled the trigger.
A burning bolt was left on the forehead of the man. Silence had continued to keep the room still. Everyone focused entirely on the scene that had befallen them. Smoke dispersed from the Human’s body. With it all heading upwards, Kei deduced that the Hutt had ordered air filters to line the ceiling of the establishment. His stomach churned at the thought of an even worse aroma.
Slinging the rifle over his back, the Ubese grabbed the human and dragged him out. All of the patrons moved aside for him to pass. Kei took this chance to talk to him alone before he slunk back behind the shadows of his employer.
Waiting a few moments, Kei stood up from his seat and made his way out. Taking the same steps that the Ubese had taken, he brushed past the bar. The bartender stopped him immediately. Grabbing at Kei’s wrist, the devil-eyed Devaronian pulled him back. “Where do you’ll be goin’ bub?”
Kei didn’t fight the restrain. “I planned to talk to that particular fellow about something he may find of interest.”
The bartender pushed Kei back. There was a stool nearby where he had settled and decided to take it. The Devaronian pointed at him commandingly, “You’ll wait right there, human. Guard be back soon.” Kei nodded his approval. He didn’t want the Hutt on stage to be amused by his own burned skull.
A few minutes dashed by. The Ubese emerged from behind the bar’s door. The Devaronian pointed Kei out, “Oi! Cyclops! Someone wantsa see you.”
The Ubese turned to stare at Kei. The Captain waved at him. Making his way over to Kei, he stood near where the Captain had been sitting. With his raspy, slow voice he spoke. Even behind the helmet, his voice had been crisp and ancient. “Was there a reason you inquired my attention?”
Kei scooted a stool over. “Have a seat, Velk. I wanted a chat if that was alright?”
Velk looked down at the stool for a moment. His reply was slow, “For now, it is.” He took Kei’s previous seat, adding as he settled in. “You may seek to now not waste my time further.”
Nodding at the Velk’s replies, Kei removes a datapad. “This is how much I’m willing to pay you for the job.”
Sliding the device over, the Ubese takes it with a gloved hand and looks it over. Not an inch of his body was revealed at all. Head to toe in light, flexible armor Kei noticed that despite his voice he had certainly not lost his step. As Velk continued to read, Kei privately wished he had looked up more information regarding the Ubese species. They were known for their agile elegance in combat, and that their voices were never above a whisper. It was rare to ever see a Ubese outside of their armor. They had grown use to the poor, thin air on their homeworld, Uba IV, that they had use air-filters to stay alive off world. Kei had picked up on the air filter bit as Velk stared at the datapad. His breathing patterns were long, slow and barely audible. If it weren’t for the metallic heightening of his helmet, Kei may have missed it.
Whisking away a page from the pad, Velk scrolled down. His helmet’s visor reflected back to Kei’s pupils, “You have little details regarding this operation. Do you expect the pay me little up front?”
Kei leaned against the bar reassuringly. “It’s not my intention to double-cross you. I came to you in particular because I require someone of your talents of this high-caliber.” Kei grinned coyly, “You are the Ubese that has been home to certain rumors, correct?”
Tapping the datapad’s screen off, Velk slid the device back. “I do not confirm to rumors that boast of my abilities. I only demonstrate them.” Turning the stool so that he was facing Kei entirely his arms stayed down at his sides. “Was the killing of that anger-filled human enough of an introduction to what I can offer?”
Rotating his own chair to match Velk, Kei propped an elbow on the bar. “I’d say that’s the sort of marksmenship I’m looking for. If you’re interested in the job,” Kei bobbed a thumb to the direction of the Starport. “My ship’s ready to disembark the moment you agree.”
Velk’s gloved finger tapped at this knee. His raspy voice sparked up, “There’s more to this deal than you’re telling me. I require more of a reason if I’m to leave my current employer’s services for two weeks.”
Finding it harder to make it quiet, Kei leaned in closer to Velk. Velk didn’t bother to lean back, staying in his position. Kei lowered his voice as best as possible, “I had wanted to make use of your other contacts, as well… In particular, the h-“
Velk shot a finger up mere inches from Kei’s face. The lightening fast speed that Velk had surprised even Kei, he didn’t realize how fast the Ubese must have lined up the shot on the aggressor’s hand had been. Dismounting from the stool, the Ubese made his way to Farguin’s stage.
Kei took the time to look around. Smell of death had left the Sabaac den. It had been replaced by the smell of a number of other disgusting, and sickening aromas. The Captain wondered how much of it belonged to the Hutt.
Velk and Farguin exchanged in gurgles and, what Kei thought, belches. The Hutt huffed and hoed. Velk bowed to his employer, turning to return to Kei. Velk confirmed, “I can leave within the hour. Allow me to time to collect my belongings.”
Kei stood up from the stool. “That was a lot faster than I thought it was going to be.” He stuffed his hands into his jacket’s pockets.
“I do not have permanent employment with the Hutt. I work here to connect resources and contacts.” Velk led Kei out, speaking in his raspy whisper as they sped along the hallway. “Hutts come across interesting people. Interesting people seek out the Hutts.”
Kei scuffed, “That makes a deal amount of sense.”
Kei stepped past Velk and out into the dreary day. Velk finished with, “It’s only good business.”