Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Jedi Gunny, Apr 11, 2013.
This is definitely a much darker story. But here comes Superbothan to the rescue!
Gasp! Nat and Gark! They're actually killing people! And then they're getting together!
I was really hoping that Nat was faking the deaths.
Part Five, also known as a nice bit of backstory
“Hands up, Mr. Kinshry,” said a gruff voice from behind. “You’re not getting away this time. Now step out of the shadows with your hands in the air.”
“It looks like I have little choice,” the man said, and he stepped out of the shadow to reveal his bald head and disfigured face. He was getting older, yes, so there were wrinkles around his eyes, but the disfiguration had been the unfortunate result of an assassination attempt on his life by a rival crime lord. He had been on the run for so many years that it felt like they all blended together in his mind. He had done extraordinary things, had run from the police for so long, had made so much money that he could hardly count it without feeling like he had missed a spare ten credits along the line. But it looked as if now that heady piracy was coming to an end.
“You’ve been on the run for a long time, Kinshry,” the gruff police officer said. His partner leveled his gun at the bald man. “It’s about time you finally face the iron bars of prison for your actions.”
“As if I cared about such things,” Binn Kinshry said in a completely calm voice.
“Stop mocking us!” the police partner yelled, his blaster still leveled and ready to fire.
“You must be new,” Kinshry said to the junior officer. “First job? It’s a noble profession, for sure, working for the cops. It likely gets you a nice badge, a uniform, good pay. But there’s only one problem. Sometimes, beings don’t go quietly.”
“Ha, don’t make me laugh,” the senior officer said. “It’s about time you go to the slammer. You’ve avoided it for too long, and now you’re going to find out about the fullest extent of the legal system.”
“That is a noble goal,” Kinshry replied. “But it is not something I want to experience, although I could probably wriggle out of prison easily with my list of contacts.”
“Hands up, and shut your mouth!” the senior officer barked.
“It looks like I have no choice,” Kinshry repeated. As he raised his arms, he tugged on his overcoat, and it fell to the floor.
“Frak!” the junior officer exclaimed. Kinshry had a vest covered in high-powered explosives strapped to his body, likely enough to blow up all three of them in an instant.
“Now, if you gentlemen would be so kind as to leave me alone, I won’t have to pull this trigger,” Kinshry said calmly, now holding a red trigger in his hand. His thumb hovered over the switch, and he could tell that the officers were nervous. “What are you waiting for?”
“Drop the device!” the gruff officer demanded.
“And why would I want to do that?” Kinshry asked in that same emotionless tone.
“Drop it!” the gruff officer replied, now leveling his blaster at his target.
“You do realize that if you shoot me, you will be incinerated as well,” Kinshry said. “I suggest you leave right now, and never come back.” He took a step forward, and the officers took one step back.
“Halt!” the gruff officer yelled.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” Kinshry said. He took another step forward, and the officers retreated once more. This continued in a cycle for over a minute, and finally the two officers had backed through a doorway. Kinshry quickly slammed the door and locked it on the officers, who were now pounding on the door. There was an eyeslit in the door, and he looked at the two of them through it. A “And now, gentlemen, I take my leave. You see, no one succeeds in catching me. You two certainly won’t.” Then he closed the eyeslit hole, sealing the door. Pressing the button on the wall, he could hear the quiet hiss of gas being pumped into the room.
“Ah, my eyes!” the junior officer yelled.
Within a minute, the sounds of the two officers scuffling stopped as their dead bodies had obviously slumped down onto the floor. Kinshry sighed and unstrapped the explosives jacket. He could have used dummy bombs on this jacket to the same effect, but it was so much more fun to be able to threaten his enemies with actually being blown up. If he was shot, he would be dead anyways, so why risk not having the explosives give way right in the face of the shooter? He deactivated the devices for now, so that they wouldn’t explode in his face, and then laid the jacket on a sorry-looking wooden rack as he made his way back to his main base of operations.
When he entered the dingy room, he headed straight for the cell at the far end. There was a faint yellowish glow emanating from the ceiling light, but it had been a long time since it had been cleaned, and the dirt and grime of time had obviously lessened the light’s usefulness. But it was perfect for keeping prisoners, Kinshry thought as he walked to the cell. Inside, he could see a Twi’lek woman and small Bothan child huddled together near the back wall.
“What do you want?” Me’lin S’rily asked angrily.
“What I want is of no consequence,” Kinshry said as he leaned on the bars of the cell. “But, I can say one thing. Sometime soon, very soon, you will find that the ones you are closest to will be caught in a conflict of interest, one where they cannot have the best of both worlds and must decide how to best serve themselves.” He had turned his back on the cell as he said these words.
“Gark’s coming for us, just you wait and see,” Me’lin said, narrowing her eyes.
She quickly snapped back to the wall when Kinshry spun around on a dime and then rammed into the cell bars with quite a bit of force. The sound was enough to scare Galin, who tried to retreat further into his mother’s grasp. Kinshry stared both of them down with that same evil look he always had on when he was happy. It was a terrifying expression.
“I will not allow that to happen,” he said. “I can assure you that he will never find his way here. And someday you will come to appreciate me.” With that, he stalked off into the darkness, leaving the two in the cell huddled together in complete terror.
“Mommy, I’m scared,” Galin said quietly.
Me’lin shared the feeling that her young son had. Where was Gark? Had he forgotten to come for her? She didn’t know how many days had passed since she had been abducted, but every day she sat in this cell felt like an eternity. An eternity she hoped she would soon be delivered from.
Ah, the other perspective. At least we know they're alive now.
I can see how this is going to play out. Galin will somehow get a hold of a bolo-ball and punt it into Kinshry's head, killing him instantly and resulting in Galin being signed at age five to a Senators contract.
However, clearly we're dealing with a different kind of criminal if he's wearing suicide bomber jackets.
Part Six, definitely not involving Galin killing anyone
“So let me get this straight, my family was kidnapped by a serial killer,” Gark said as he sat in his living room. His Senators had just lost their second game of the season the prior day, and it definitely looked to the fans like something was bothering him. Which there was.
“If my information is correct, yes. And my intel is almost never wrong,” Nat said as she looked at another Holo image before turning it towards Gark. “His name is Binn Kinshry. He has been accused of at least fifty murders in the past twenty years, and police reports say that it is possible he has killed dozens more.”
“Great, just what I needed to hear,” Gark said with a groan. Now he was going to have to go toe-to-toe with a soulless killer? Calo Mornd had been ruthless, yes, but he had flair in his evil. If that fight had been a Holo film, beings would have liked his character because of its intricacies. Ciscerian Barbosa had been a thug, plain and simple. Mane had been crazy, yes, and had been willing to bomb a venue without second thoughts, but it sounded like Kinshry took it to a completely new level.
“Other reports say that he is a crime lord, an underworld kingpin,” Nat continued. “But here’s the catch. He’s been arrested only one time in the past twenty years, and he broke out of jail after just two nights. He was in for murder on a life sentence . . . two nights in jail, and then gone without a trace.”
“Like Mornd,” Gark muttered. He had heard that story before of a criminal being sprung from jail.
“Numbers also seem to suggest that a good twenty or so officers have gone missing over that time span trying to find him,” Nat replied. “They finally found one’s body partially decomposed in a trash receptacle . . .”
“I get the point, he likely kills them in a brutal manner and then disposes of their bodies,” Gark said. “But I need to find him and make sure he doesn’t escape this time.”
“It’s a noble quest, for sure,” Nat said. “But ask yourself one thing. Are you willing to die for what you believe is right?”
Gark sighed. It was the question he had wrestled with for all his forays as Superbothan. He had brushed with death many a time, and this mission would be no different. Kinshry was no joke, and this fight wouldn’t be easy. The bald man had the edge in this fight because of his shiftiness, as well as the high ground. Gark knew he would have to undermine those advantages if he was to succeed. “I have no choice,” he finally said. “I gave Lin my word.”
“And how are you going to accomplish that?” Nat asked.
Gark paused for several seconds, and then looked back up at the Hapan. “It’s time we return to the cave.”
Gark and Nat approached an old abandoned restaurant building. From the outside, it was a complete shack, the skeleton of a once-proud business. But now it was empty, the chairs stacked up inside gathering dust and cobwebs, and the floor looking dingier by the day. Gark opened the door a crack, and then looking behind himself to make sure that no one was coming, entered the building, Nat right on his heels.
“This place hasn’t changed a bit,” Gark commented quietly as the two of them made their way over to the bar. “It could use a good cleaning.”
“It’s just a front, remember?” the Hapan asked. “It’s not supposed to be clean and tidy.”
“Good point,” Gark said. He looked at the levers that once served as beer taps. “I never remember which one opens the door . . .”
“That one,” Nat said.
“Which one?” Gark asked. Nat rolled her eyes and then pushed the correct lever. A trap door in the old beer cellar opened, and the two of them quickly went down through the trap door, Nat closing it behind her.
A minute later, both of them were standing in the Bothancave. The sensors went off since someone new had come in from the above chute, but when it recognized their faces, the security systems turned off. The two operatives went through the door into the main part of the lair, where they found 4K, their old protocol droid, sitting slumped over against a table deactivated. Gark flipped the activation switch, and the droid came to life.
“Hello again, Mr. S’rily,” the droid said cheerfully.
“Hello 4K,” Gark said. “Long time no see.”
“And hello to you as well, Ms. Patrovish,” the droid said.
“Charming as ever, 4K,” Nat said, although she obviously wasn’t amused about something.
“4K, the situation has gotten worse, I’m afraid,” Gark said. “Me’lin has been abducted, and we need to get her back.”
“Understood, sir,” the droid said.
“We’ll be here a while. Oh, and 4K . . .?” The droid snapped to attention with mention of its number. “Try to find that emergency contact list that I had programmed into your circuitry some time back. You could start in the 421 folder,” Gark said. The droid tottered off, leaving the two operatives alone again. “Now I need to hope that we can find something suitable for this mission.”
“Check the armory,” Nat said. “There should be some good weapons there, plus some body armor. I seem to recall that you borrowed a bit of that a few years back.”
“I certainly did,” Gark replied. That plate of armor he had taken off the table had saved his life when Calo Mornd had shot him in the middle of the street during the player hostage crisis. It hadn’t been perfect, but it had kept him alive, and that was what counted at the end of the day. If the body armor hadn’t been effective, or hadn’t been there at all . . . he wouldn’t be here now. Me’lin would likely have ended up with another man, Galin wouldn’t have been born, and the Senators . . . who knew what direction they would be on right now with someone else manning the helm?
“So what are you waiting for? Get a move on it,” Nat hissed as she went by the Bothan and into the tinkering area that their old technician had set up for the testing and creation area for his gadgets. Gark didn’t remember the man’s name off the top of his head, but he had been brilliant. Nothing had been left out on the table, obviously, but when the store cabinets were opened, technology of all sorts was no accessible. “I see that we have quite a bit of stuff to pick through.”
“Who’s the next target?” Gark asked.
“We need to kill off a prominent businessman,” Nat replied. She looked down at her datapad. “Company makes large transparisteel parts for ships, not unlike your business.”
“We deal more with the small items, like droids,” Gark clarified.
“Anyways, sounds like this man pissed off Kinshry, and now we need to knock him off,” Nat stated. “He’s going to see a play tonight, and we can get him then.”
“How do you suppose we could kill someone at a theater? Too crowded,” Gark said. He didn’t want to think like a bounty hunter, but he had no choice in the matter.
“Very carefully,” Nat said as she grabbed a long sniper rifle out of the cabinet. “This should do the trick. If we have a silencer . . .” she said, reaching back into the cabinet before bringing out the device. “We’re golden.” She fitted the silencer on the end of the rifle, which in theory would keep the firing of the weapon quiet. It might be useful in an intimate atmosphere like a theater where space could be tight.
“And we’re just going to shoot him while he’s watching a play?”
“From his private box, yes,” Nat said. “I’ll see what I can do to keep it on the hush-hush.”
“Where do you come up with all of these ideas?” Gark asked incredulously.
“Don’t ask,” Nat replied. She tossed Gark the rifle, and he deftly caught it. “Don’t forget to ditch the thing if you need to. I believe it’s made to come apart into its constituent pieces, but don’t quote me on that.”
“Don’t you need a weapon of some kind?” Gark asked. Nat rolled her eyes and then reached around her back. Out came a holdout blaster. She lifted her leg, and slid another blaster out of a suit pocket. From her utility belt, she grabbed an explosive device only half as large as a thermal detonator.
“You really think I’m not armed at all times?” she asked, shaking her head. “You’re denser than I thought. Good assassins are always armed, always ready to kill. And I happen to be one.”
“You scare me,” Gark commented as he checked the rifle over. It looked to be simple enough to use, especially the sight that he would probably have to use to aim.
“And that’s what you probably like about me, that I’m always prepared,” Nat said. “Nothing like an organized woman to keep you men in line.”
“I wouldn’t quite say that,” Gark replied as he completed his check of the rifle. “But you do have your moments, I must admit.” The silencer would work perfectly. “So, how are we going to smuggle a sniper rifle into a crowded theater? And, if we manage to do that, how do we avoid being seen? How do we escape after we’ve finished . . . finished the job?”
“Leave that to me,” Nat said with a wink. Gark wished she hadn’t done that, because it wasn’t making him feel any better about this predicament.
“I can’t believe I’m coming back here,” Gark hissed as he and Nat stood across the street from the Oranga Theater, the site of the 276 ELL Draft. “Last time, I didn’t have to worry about a damn thing other than a few names on the backs of jerseys.”
“No one told you that you were going to have to be a trained killer?” Nat asked. “That’s why life is unpredictable and cruel. It should be no wonder why I turned out like this.”
“I still think you can turn it around,” Gark commented. Nat shot him a dark look.
“Let’s just get you into that theater and finish the job,” she hissed.
“And how exactly are we going to accomplish that?” Gark asked. “I can’t just walk right in with a weapon hidden in my back pocket.”
“That’s why we’re not going through the front door,” Nat said. “We’re going in on the roof.”
“I was afraid you were going to say that,” Gark commented.
“Go!” Nat said as she pushed Gark out towards the street. The rifle was tucked in his waistband and extended almost up to his neck in the back of his tuxedo jacket. Nat was once again wearing the slim black dress that cut her figure rather nicely and high heels that clacked against the pavement. They were dressed for the occasion . . . and dressed to kill. “Quick, over this way,” she said, and she swerved into a group of oncoming people. Gark made sure to dodge as many as he could in order to follow her, eventually stopping when she had her hand up. “And now we wait,” she said.
“Do you know what this man looks like?” Gark asked.
“Of course I do, I did my research,” Nat said, not even turning around to face the Bothan. “Now, I’m going to sneak in there and engage this man in conversation. I need to find out where his box seat is so that you can get in position. Use the earpiece,” she said, tapping her ear. Gark made sure to tap his ear; the unit seemed to be working.
“It’s on,” he said quietly.
“OK. Now, about how to get you to the roof . . .” Nat said. She turned around and handed Gark a small box. “Ascension device,” she said. “Stay out of sight.”
“I know how to use it,” Gark commented angrily.
“You have no idea how funny I find your expression when you’re angry,” Nat said with a smirk before pushing the back door open. Gark raised an eyebrow; she really liked saying things like this for some reason. “I’ll be in touch,” she said before disappearing inside. Gark sighed and let the ascension device go; the cable shot high into the air before catching on a ledge above. Gark rode the cable until it brought him halfway up, and then used the device once more to make it to the roof. Checking that the coast was clear, he ran across the roof towards the trap door that had been installed for the theater workers to take breaks during performances. He tapped on the door, and it quickly opened. A head poked out from the top of the hatch, but Gark slammed the hatch back on the man’s head, and he crumpled on the ladder. Gark hauled the man’s body up off the ladder and then hid it behind a heat vent, to safely keep the man hidden from his fellow workers who might come up here during the show.
He descended the ladder into the dark reaches of the overhead stage scaffolding. From this vantage point, he could see a man positioning lights, and Gark knew that he would have to get through here unseen. Staying low, he walked carefully on the small path that wound from the stage to the area over the upper-most balcony, and from here he was able to see that the theater was beginning to fill up with excited people. It was a pity that this show was going to be interrupted by a blaster shot from his rifle . . . this whole situation was a travesty. But Gark was going to do it – Me’lin and Galin meant that much to him.
From the main lobby, Nat found herself near the targeted man. The balding target was laughing at a joke a friend made, and then turned around. Nat took this opportunity to start up a conversation, which Gark could hear through Nat’s headset.
“Mr. Pulmee, it’s an honor to finally meet you,” she said.
“I have a terrible memory for faces. Who are you?” the man asked.
“Oh, I’m Patricia Kaynes from SouthSide Motors,” she said. “My father is the Vice President. We buy many of your company’s parts for our vehicle fleet sales,” Nat said.
“Oh, Chuk Kaynes?” Pulmee asked, his face brightening up a bit at this name. “He’s an old buddy of mine. I’ve known Chuk for many years. Never said that he had a daughter before, especially not one as beautiful as you.”
“Thank you,” Nat said.
Come on, Nat, give me that information Gark thought as he sat in silence.
“Father sometimes has a habit of trying to downplay my involvement in the company. He still thinks that my work as a secretary isn’t exactly becoming of my talent. He thinks I should be out modeling, or be the trophy wife of a famous Holo star. If he only knew how denigrating those professions are,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. “Women like myself are seen just as playthings, not serious professionals. It makes me mad.”
“I concur,” Pulmee replied. “I can tell just by looking at you that you are more talented than your job seems to suggest. If I could drag him to these sorts of things, I would introduce you to my son. He would very much like to meet a fine woman like you.”
“I’m flattered,” Nat replied. “I already have found a suitable man, but I appreciate the notion.” Gark’s heart inexplicably skipped a beat when he heard this. Did she mean him?
“If I may ask, where are you sitting for tonight’s performance?” Pulmee asked.
“Upper-balcony, I believe. It’s what I could afford on such short notice, and on my pay.”
“It’s a shame, really, that you’re stuck all the way up there in the cheap seats. A child of Chuk Kaynes is always welcome in my box,” Pulmee said.
“That is most gracious of you,” Nat replied. “Where is your box, in case I get lost trying to find it? I’m not used to going to plays; my mother says it makes me more refined, whatever that means.”
“Upper right hand side, near the stage door on that side of the auditorium,” Pulmee replied. “I would be honored to have you join my wife, daughter and I tonight for the play.”
“I accept,” Nat said. “I will catch up to you in a minute. I need to find a bite to eat before the play begins.”
“Certainly,” Pulmee said. Nat walked away from the conversation, and Gark could hear snippets of other conversations as Nat walked. She finally stopped in a quiet cranny after grabbing two sandwich bites from a nearby tray. Any passerby would think that she was minding her own business standing there eating.
“OK, best line of sight to that side is . . . from the opposite box,” she said between bites of sandwich.
“And how in the hell am I supposed to get there?” Gark hissed his reply.
“Hm, good point. Try the lighting area.”
“It’s going to be packed with workers,” Gark commented.
“Try to find an open spot and exploit it,” Nat said, finishing her sandwiches. “I’ll excuse myself from the box in the Second Act, and then you can fire away.”
“Remember, the bolt cannot be seen,” Gark said.
“I could always stab him from behind,” Nat offered. “I have the knife ready to go if necessary.”
“I’ll try to make this work,” Gark said. “But if it fails, you need to be there to kill him. He seems to fancy you; use that to your advantage.”
“True that,” Nat replied. “You see, I think you and I are similar on many levels.”
“Shut it and stick to the plan,” Gark said. There she went with the “you and I” shtick again. “Stay in touch, and when you duck out, make sure to give me advance warning.”
“Understood,” Nat said before switching off the headset. Gark took another look around; the coast was clear, so he darted to another section of the scaffolding. This was where he was going to wait until it was time to complete the task.
The play began shortly thereafter, and Gark made sure to watch part of it as he contemplated what he was about to do. What Nat had in mind, he didn’t know, but whatever it was, he knew that he would have to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice. Down on the stage, a fat Twi’lek was singing a love song to a very beautiful young woman, while the whole ensemble danced around the stage to add dramatic effect. He wasn’t much for plays, but the lyrics to the number reminded him of the feelings he had harbored for Me’lin when he had finished off Mornd on the Senate building and was about to propose to her. This is for you, Lin he told himself as he watched and waited.
Finally the second act began, and Gark looked around. A worker was coming down the path to check on some of the lights, and Gark continued to wait. As soon as the man was close-by, Gark decked him out flat and dragged his body to the side of the scaffold. He couldn’t be seen by anyone, and therefore he had to proceed with caution. He even donned a mask that covered his entire face except for his eyes; hopefully this would keep his identity hidden.
Ten minutes later, Nat tapped the mic on her headset. “I’ve left the box,” she said. “You have a few minutes to line up and take your shot.”
“Still can’t be seen,” Gark hissed.
“Too bad we don’t have something that can make the laser blast invisible,” the Hapan bemoaned. “Oh well, I’ll finish him off myself . . .”
“Wait, I see a lot of lights being prepped for something. There might be a large light show,” Gark said.
“Perfect,” Nat said. “If we can disguise the bolt on the show of lights, and your angle is high enough . . .”
“Hey you, get to the light!” a man yelled in Gark’s direction. “What the hell are you doing back there?”
“Cover is blown,” Gark muttered to Nat, but he didn’t move. The source of the voice came closer, and Gark hid behind a box.
“Get out of there, you coward. It’s not going to be that baa . . .” But he got cut off when Gark punched him in the face, and he went down without a fight.
“OK, he’s done with,” Gark said. “Now I can proceed.” He pulled the rifle out of his tuxedo jacket and then aimed it at the box. He could barely see Pulmee sitting there in the box, but he could make out the balding head from this distance. “Don’t I need to kill all three of them, since they know who you are?”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Nat said.
“Frak, Nat, I knew you were going to say that,” Gark groaned as he lined up his shot. “I take out Pulmee, and then you’re going to take out the women?”
“With ease,” Nat said. “Actually, I have an idea on how to get rid of all three in one swoop, no rifle necessary. I can pull the curtain closed on them when it’s dark on stage, and then finish the job when they aren’t expecting it.”
“But if anyone else has seen you in the box, they might suspect it was you if you left prior to them being killed,” Gark reminded her.
“Then I might have to slit his throat while we’re sitting there. Try to prop him up long enough to get out alive,” Nat surmised.
“Or I get down to your level and finish him off from behind,” Gark said.
“I’ll do it,” Nat said. “I have another silencer on my holdout. Should be enough to kill all three of them, and then I’ll take a tablet that will temporarily paralyze me. When they come to collect the bodies, I will find a way to escape and regroup with you somewhere.” She pulled a pair of fine white gloves from her hidden hip pocket and stretched one glove over her hand as she spoke.
“Are you sure?” Gark asked. The plan sounded rather involved, not to mention spontaneous. After all, for this to work, Nat would need to happen to have such a tablet on her person, something he rather doubted given that she had nothing to carry such a thing. Then, what would happen to the murder weapon?
“Positive. When haven’t you been able to trust me?” Nat asked me.
“I hate it when you say that,” Gark groaned.
“That’s odd. I think you secretly love it when I say that.” Nat moved back to the box and took her seat.
“Isn’t this a wonderful play, Ms. Kaynes?” Pulmee whispered after a minute had passed.
“Yes, it’s quite nice. I like the acting particularly, and the music is top-notch. But wait until you see the finale; I hear it’s quite a spectacle.” As she said this, she drew her holdout blaster from her pocket. Looking down quickly, she moved her finger onto the trigger and moved it behind Pulmee’s back. However, in order to get the correct angle she needed, she had to lean over a little bit towards her host.
“Can’t see?” Pulmee asked when Nat leaned over towards him.
“There’s a post in the way down there,” Nat lied. The blaster was now in position.
“I see. Terrible thing, posts,” Pulmee said.
“I couldn’t agree more,” Nat said. She pulled the trigger on the blaster. A bolt shot forth into Pulmee’s back, and his body became rigid. Nat made sure to catch it before it keeled over, and deftly maneuvered the body back into the seat. Pulmee’s dead body now sat back as if nothing had ever happened, a calm look on his face. She then pointed the blaster at the back of Pulmee’s wife, and with a quick trigger punch, she shot the older woman dead on the spot.
“Papa, how do you like the play?” their daughter asked quietly, unaware that her parents were now dead in their seats. Nat leaned around even more and leveled the blaster at the young woman. There was no reason why she had to die except for this being a total slaying of the Pulmee family. The blaster should have let off a Bang!, but with the silencer the bolt that killed the Pulmee girl made no noise. She slumped over in her seat as her parents had, all three now dead.
“Job is complete,” Nat muttered.
“That fast?” Gark asked. He had uttered those words in shock, but there was nothing he could say to describe how he was feeling. Nat had just killed three people in quick succession, and even though Gark knew he should care about it, for some reason he didn’t care. It was a scary thought indeed.
“Of course. I’ll be in touch as soon as my body gets moved,” Nat said as she turned off the headset. However, something stopped her. There was someone coming, so she straightened her back and checked to make sure that the bodies were all neatly aligned as if they were still watching the stage down below.
“May I offer you food or drink, Mr. Pulmee?” a waiter asked who had entered the box. Nat turned around and quickly made her move.
“They’re watching the play,” Nat replied to the man. “I’ll have a glass of ale, if you don’t mind,” she said, handing over several credits. The waiter took the credits, but didn’t notice that the murder blaster had been placed in his coat pocket, where he likely would not find it for some time.
“Very well, miss,” the waiter said with a nod. He returned a minute later with the drink, which Nat grabbed hold of. The man left the box, but it didn’t take very long for Nat to take action. She popped the tablet in her mouth, and as soon as she did, her body fell over, limp, onto the floor. The glass of ale smashed on the floor upon contact, still full. She had put herself in this position to look as if she had been the first killed, so she was face down as if the shots had come from behind and not from the side. The blaster had also disappeared into thin air; Nat had a perfect plan for how to get rid of it without anyone being suspicious.
Gark swore under his breath and shouldered the rifle. Now he had to get out of here. He got up to move, but then he ran smack-dab into a police officer. What the man was doing up here, he had no idea, but now he had a choice to make.
“They called for security. Time’s up, Mr. Imposter,” the officer said with a toothy grin. Gark slapped the rifle across the man’s face, causing him to sprawl out completely on the scaffolding, knocked out cold. Gark moved the rifle down and shot the officer dead where he lay; there was no use in letting the man who had seen him live, even though it was against his better judgment. He was now the cause of a man’s death, and that didn’t sit well in his gut as he ran across the scaffolding, trying to reach the exit. But the exit was blocked by a worker taking a break, and Gark had to slam the rifle into the man’s side to make him crumple to the ground before he could turn around.
Somewhere down below, the waiter had gotten off the lift and headed into the Pulmee’s box. He was here to gather any food or drink orders they might have filled out before last call, and it was to his surprise to see all four residents of the box lying dead. Of course this caused a stir to him, and he ran back to the lift to report the deaths to the kitchen staff, who hopefully could alert security.
Gark opened the trap door to the roof and then stared down at the dark street below. Checking to see that his coast was clear, he used the ascension device to descend to the halfway point, and then all the way to the bottom. Here he placed the rifle back in his jacket and walked out of the area. Undoubtedly security knew about the deaths by now, and perhaps an announcement was coming.
But nothing came. It took a solid hour before the flow of people began to leave the theater. It was only until the sound of sirens approaching the theater that anyone knew something was amiss. Emergency vehicles pulled up, and several soldier dressed in riot gear tried to disperse the crowd as the play-goers stood there, dumbfounded. Obviously no announcement had been made; how peculiar, Gark thought. At some point, the four bodies left the theater on litters under white sheets. One of them was Nat, as Gark could see from her distinctly red hair. Hopefully she had done away with the murder weapon when she had finished the task . . .
Then the police came and had the waiter in binders. He was yelling that he was innocent, but then Nat’s blaster was pulled out of his coat pocket. “I’m innocent!” the man screamed when he saw the weapon. “That is not mine, I swear!” Well played, Gark thought to himself as the man was taken to a police cruiser and driven away to jail.
Thirty minutes later, Gark was loitering at a nearby café when his speaker came back on. “Did I miss anything?” Nat asked.
“Apparently not much,” Gark replied. “There was no mass audience panic. They didn’t know anything was up until the police and medical staff arrived.”
“They find the weapon?” Nat asked.
“They brought a waiter out and found the blaster. I believe it was yours, but I couldn’t quite tell from this angle.”
“Fine by me,” Nat replied. “Where are you?”
“Near the theater,” Gark said. “What the hell took you so long?”
“I had to hijack the ambulance I was in, along with the bodies,” Nat said. “I need to ditch the vehicle and then regroup with you.”
Another half hour passed before Nat commed back in. “I’m coming up on your position,” she said. Gark turned around to see her approaching, a cup of caf in her hands. She was acting like nothing had ever happened.
“What took you?” Gark asked.
“Sorry, I had to cover my tracks,” Nat said. “We’ll stay here until things blow over, and then we can get out.” Both of them waited until she finished her caf, then they flagged down a taxi. They took this part-way back to Gark’s place, dropping them at the community rec center. They then walked back under the cover of darkness back to Gark’s house.
“Not sure why you followed me home,” Gark commented as Nat sat on the couch. He checked the chrono on the wall: 2320, it read.
“I need a place to stay,” the Hapan replied. “Besides, while your wife is out . . .”
“I just want to get this madness over before it consumes me,” Gark said stonily. “I can’t keep killing people.”
“But that’s why you have me around,” Nat said calmly. “I do the job for you, and you fill my pockets with credits. We both win.” She raised the skirt of her dress up a little bit to expose some leg.
“I have a feeling that this goes beyond credits,” Gark said when he saw this gesture.
“You know where I stand,” Nat said as she kicked off her high heels. “Perhaps I need to help you get your mind off things for a while?”
“That’s all I’ve wanted these last few weeks . . .” Gark said. “And I will take it with no complaints,” he finished with a sly smirk. Before he knew it, Nat was on him. The two of them kissed each other, and then the sequence of events that had gone down many nights before happened again. Gark normally would have minded, but at this point he didn’t know what to think anymore. Thoughts of Me’lin started to blend in with his desires to just live a normal life, and Nat, despite being the reason why Gark was so successful at this series of killings, offered him a chance to experience even just a bit of happiness or joy in this confusing vortex of shame, anger, and confusion.
Maybe this isn’t so bad after all Gark thought to himself when his head hit the pillow after the deed was done.
But was he losing his mind and integrity in the process?
I'm starting to worry about more than Me'lin and Galin....
Part Seven, in rapid-fire succession!
There was a white haze evident over the landscape as Gark stared out at the very regular rows of trees, their thin trunks very neatly manicured. He had no idea where this place was, or what he was doing here, but something in the back of his mind kept him going forth into the haze. He had no clue if something was going to jump out from behind one of these trees and attempt to maul him, but he kept on pressing forward despite these misgivings.
Then he saw a flick of motion out of the corner of his eye. His head whipped around to see what was there, but he could see nothing in the haze. Had he been in control of his body, he would have tried to keep moving, tried to get away from whatever had made that motion. But his body was frozen to the spot, waiting for the thing that had made the motion to come into view. The small voice in the back of his head told him to wait, although he had no idea what he was supposed to wait for.
Again he could see a flash of movement, but once again he could not ascertain what was its cause was. Everything seemed hemmed in by the haze. He took a step forward without trying to, his body seemingly moving on its own volition. Somewhere in the haze was the thing that he had seen twice, but he did not know what it was, or what it could do to him. Fear crept into his mind, but his body kept on moving regardless. It was like he was on auto-pilot, moving ever forwards without any sense of autonomy.
And then the motion came again. However, this time it was right in front of him. In the haze, he could make out a shape, but still couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be. His feet keep moving forwards towards the shape, and Gark’s mind raced to try and stop his momentum. But his feet weren’t listening, and on he trudged into the reaches of the slim tree forest, into the maw of the whitish haze.
And then he saw her. Nat, outfitted in a pristine white dress, turned to face him in slow motion, her hair flowing out behind her elegantly. There was a genuine smile on her face, a look of happiness in her countenance. Gark grinned back at her; here was the reason why his body had kept moving forward into the haze. He reached out to touch her, to be near this mysterious woman who had brought him here. But without saying a word she fled into the haze, her motions slow and deliberate. Gark followed in pursuit, although he had no idea why he was running. Even though the haze got worse as he ran, he did not run into a single tree. It was like his body knew exactly which route to go through the maze.
Up ahead Nat continued to run, every now and then turning back to look at her pursuer. She had that same smile on her face, and she was laughing. It brought a smile to Gark’s face. The thrill of the chase, he thought to himself.
Eventually the haze thinned out, and finally disappeared altogether. Gark stepped out from the thin tree forest into a beautiful meadow. The flowers were in full bloom, their brilliant colors lighting up the scene. Instead of the haze, the sun was out in full morning force, bathing the scene in a scintillating glow that lifted Gark’s spirits. And there was Nat, sitting in the field of flowers on her back, face to the sky. She was trying to make a flower angel, spreading her wings out and moving them back and forth on the flower bed. Gark ran to join her, but tripped and fell right next to her. Nat laughed as she sat up, and Gark was raised back into a seated position by her hand. He felt sheepish, but the way she smiled, the way she laughed, it made him feel happier than he had in a long time.
Then she toppled him over in the field of flowers, landing on top of his body as he lay in the field. Here she kissed him, and he kissed her back. It was a beautiful scene, her in that nice white dress, and he in his black tuxedo jacket and slacks. It was like a scene out of a fairy tale story.
The scene changed immediately, and the two of them were holding hands as they walked beside a river. The sun shone down through the trees, their leaves filtering the light so that it cast soft shadows on the path below. No one else was around, so it was just the two of them. Gark looked down at Nat’s face; she kept smiling at him, and he at her. All the while, the sounds of nature all around them filled his ears, the sounds of birds chirping, the water cresting over rocks, and of the breeze blowing through the trees.
Nat finally stopped and turned around to face Gark. She lifted his hand up in hers, still smiling.
The scene changed again. They were now in a chapel, and her beautiful white dress had been replaced by a strapless wedding gown. They were still holding hands, but now Gark was placing a wedding ring on Nat’s finger. The two of them then kissed, and the crowd politely applauded. A blue-skinned Twi’lek wearing a bridesmaid dress was in the background, but she was clapping along with the rest of them so Gark didn’t notice.
The scene changed once more. Gark was walking up a country road, the dirt being kicked around by his boots. He had changed from his tuxedo jacket into the clothing of a simple farmer, a shawl now covering his torso and work jeans his legs. He wore a straw hat on his head; it itched a bit, but he didn’t mind too badly. In his hands he carried several cans of food, obviously for a table he was approaching.
Off the main road he opened a wooden gate and then closed it behind him. Now he followed a less-beaten path up the hillside to where a plateau was visible in the sunshine. Up here was a cozy cottage; not a large building, but enough for simple farmers like himself. AS he approached, he could hear the sounds of the animals in the back. Had the livestock been able to roam free today, he wondered.
And then he heard the shouts of “Daddy! Daddy!” He looked further up the road to see a small human girl, around six years old, jump around excitedly. She ran down the hill to meet him, and he bent over to give her a hug. He dropped one of the cans he had been holding, and it rolled down the hill a few feet before snagging a rock and stopping. “You’re home!” the little girl said. She had dirty red hair, with some steaks of black in it. “Come on!”
She grabbed Gark’s hand and pulled him towards the house. As she did this, she laughed. It brought a smile to Gark’s face. As he reached the top of the hill, he looked at the cottage he knew was his home. Smoke was escaping from the chimney, evidence that the stove was in use. As he approached the door, a small half-Bothan boy toddled out into the yard. He looked to be about three or so years of age. He looked up at Gark and gave him a toothy smile, and Gark leaned down to hug him as well. The boy didn’t say anything, but he didn’t have to. This simple hug was enough.
And then Gark looked into the interior of the home. Nat was standing there, that same smile on her face that had been evident in the other scenes. She was similarly dressed to him and the small children, wearing a sand-colored blouse that went down most of the way to her feet, which had soft leather boots on. She wore a similarly-colored shirt and shawl around her upper body, and through the way she had wrapped the garment around her torso made it easy for Gark to notice the infant in her arms. He couldn’t see the child, as the white blanket and the shawl hid the face, but he knew that there was a life form there in its mothers grasp. Gark stood up from his crouch and walked over to Nat, where the couple then kissed once more.
“Welcome home,” Nat said.
Of course Gark said to himself as he kissed his wife once again. He made his way towards the carved wooden table, but something kept him from going forth. Nat had a hand on his shoulder.
“Gark, I need to talk to you,” Nat said sharply.
“What?” Gark wondered aloud.
Nat shook Gark, breaking him out of his dream. He suddenly shot back into reality, the serene cottage scene now replaced by the soft light filtering into his bedroom at home. He was still under the covers of his bed, and he groaned when he realized that what he had just experienced had been only a dream. It had been a nice getaway into the netherworld of sleep, and he was saddened that the foray was over. Nat sat in the bed next to him, right where Me’lin normally slept. Her hair, nicely combed the night before at the theater, was now mussed up. Obviously the passionate moments they had spent together had been quite the ride, Gark thought to himself as he remembered what had gone on over the past eight hours.
“We have a new mission,” she said.
“Who is it this time?” Gark asked.
Nat leaned into Gark’s body, and he could immediately tell that both of them were naked. The Hapan looked up at Gark from her spot. “Another politician,” she whispered.
“It’s time we finish this string of killings,” Gark said.
Nat leaned up and kissed Gark. “I agree,” she said. “Maybe after this, we can take down Kinshry, and then the two of us can move on with our lives together.”
Normally, Gark would have objected to this, but his mind didn’t reply in kind. All thoughts of Me’lin had disappeared, Galin now a faint memory. He had gotten so used to all of these murders over the last few weeks or so, so used to Nat’s presence, that he was starting to fall for her. And he didn’t mind one bit. Nat was the kind of woman someone like him deserved; beautiful, independent, and bold.
“I would like that,” Gark said. “But first we need to kill off this politician,” he said. He tried to sit up, but Nat’s arm lock kept him down in bed.
“One more kiss,” she said. Both of them locked lips once more, and Gark knew that he had something good here. Then she let go, and Gark stood up. “I’ll join you in a few minutes, after I get dressed. Well, unless you prefer that I just skip that step,” Nat said as she rolled over back to her side of the bed.
Gark just smiled and got himself dressed. He couldn’t believe that this was really happening, but a part of his mind continued to tell him that this was what he had always wanted. He was making up for lost time, not having had a meaningful relationship until he was about 40 years of age. And what a relationship this was turning out to be. Sleeping with a beautiful woman like this was something that most men could only fantasize about, but he was living the dream.
Gark strolled into the kitchen and popped a few pieces of bread into the toaster. The smell of warming toast filled his nostrils, and he grabbed the jam that he would spread onto his toast from the fridge. When the toast slices popped back out, he grabbed them using a utensil and slid them onto a plate, where he proceeded to spread the jam on.
He was interrupted by the sound of soft footsteps, and he looked up to see Nat dressed in a soft brown bath robe. It had been Me’lin’s, but Gark was starting to lose sight of that. Even going by Galin’s bedroom was starting to lose its importance. Everything he could see revolved around Nat, but he didn’t seem to care. She was giving him something that he needed in his time of despair; a friend, a companion, a love interest.
“Ah, toast,” she said. “I’ll take some, if you’re willing to pop in a few slices.”
“Coming right up,” Gark said. He placed two slices in the toaster and let them warm. Then he reached for his toast and took a bite, the taste mouthwatering. It was a good meal like this that he was going to need for today. When the toast popped back out, he handed them on a plate to Nat, who decided to go without jam. “So, what’s your plan of attack?”
“I say that we get in and get out fast,” Nat replied in between bites of toast. “I’ll serve as lookout, and then you’re going to line up the shot. We use the silencer on the rifle as before, just this time I won’t be able to help you.”
“What, is this some sort of rally?” Gark asked. That would complicate things.
“No. He’s on lunch break at that time, and he likely will be going to a diner across the street from his office,” Nat said. “It’s our job to kill him in that time span. But no one must know we’re there.”
“Sounds difficult,” Gark commented.
Nat grabbed Gark’s back and forced him forward to kiss him. “And that’s why you have me along. Your future wife will have it cleared for you to take the shot.”
“Future?” Gark asked. He had a chance to question her logic here, but the question never crossed his mind. “Why wait that long?”
“You’re incorrigible,” Nat said, kissing the Bothan once more. “We need to finish this mission, and then we can wed.”
“I like the sound of that,” Gark said, smiling. Nat let go and finished off her slices of toast, as did Gark.
“Let’s get going,” Nat said. “We need to hash out a plan when we get there.”
But Gark was too fast for her. He caught her around the waist and then held her close by his body. She chuckled and looked up at him. “You’re every bit the man I’ve always wanted,” she said in a sweet tone.
“I think you’re quite a prize,” Gark said. Nat just chuckled again.
“Don’t get too cute,” she reprimanded him, although in very calm tone. “That can wait until tonight. Right now, we have a job to do.”
“We’re headed out on the road tomorrow, so it might be the last chance for a few weeks,” Gark noted.
“Exactly. So let’s get this done now and party later,” Nat said with a wink. “A little reward tonight for success here isn’t out of the question.”
Two inspectors walked into a dark alley, trying to make sure that no one was following them. They had received a tip that something was going to happen, and they wanted to follow up on it. As they walked, they tried to keep quiet, lest someone be listening for them. It might be a trap, they figured, but if it meant they could do their job effectively, then it was well worth the hassle.
They finally reached the end of the alley, where there sat a sad-looking bench. On the bench was a man shrouded in shadow, his scraggly beard the only feature they could make out effectively. The rest of the man’s face was covered with a hat.
“Mr. Rook’wid, we’ve come to talk to you,” one of the inspectors said.
“Ah yes, I called you here on a matter of serious note,” the bearded man replied. “A politician by the name of Selveli is in grave danger. I have heard from my sources . . . their identity shall remain hidden, something I intend to keep . . . that two assassins are going to try to kill him tomorrow afternoon while he is on his usual lunch break. There is a diner across the street from his office called the “Yellow Flower”; I think it would be important for you to fan your officers around the area and do regular sweeps to make sure that these assassins don’t succeed.”
“I see,” the inspector said. “But why would someone target him?”
“There has been a string of murders of important people, hasn’t there not?” Rook’wid asked. “I think that you may catch the very criminal who has behind several of those deaths if you are successful tomorrow. And with that, gentlemen, I have to take my leave,” he said, standing up from his spot on the bench.
“Thank you for your information,” the inspector said, nodding.
“Anytime,” Rook’wid said.
“Mr. Rook’wid, one question,” the other inspector asked. “Why didn’t you come to us before, if you have known all along that these deaths might be related?”
“Intelligence takes time, sir. And I finally solved the puzzle, so you shall complete my work by bringing this man to justice,” Rook’wid said before disappearing into the shadows. The two inspectors looked at each other, held a quick conversation about the state of their investigation, and left.
When their voices and footsteps had melted away into the distance, Rook’wid stepped out of the shadows and took off the mask. It dropped to the ground, revealing Binn Kinshry. He smiled; this was all going according to plan. The police were going to play right into his hands.
NO! GARK, DON'T!! IT'S A TRAP!
Part Eight, unofficially dubbed the "Ackbar Special", because "It's a Trap!" Possibly. Maybe. Kinda. Could Be.
Gark sighed as he set up the shot from a fourth-floor window. This was going to be a difficult assignment, because the murder was going to take place in broad daylight. What was Nat thinking when she formulated this plan, Gark wondered? It seemed like an easy way to get caught, arrested, convicted, and thrown in prison, maybe executed with capital punishment. But he readied the rifle anyways, ready to try and finish this mission up so that he could go home and enjoy another relaxing night with his newfound lover. The mask that covered his face was itchy, but he had to deal with it. Better it keep his identity hidden than someone seeing Gark S’rily shoot a politician dead with a sniper rifle.
“The bird has left the nest,” Nat said over the comm. channel. Gark snapped out of his stupor and readied himself. That meant that the target was on his way to the diner. Gark carefully followed the man’s path, but then realized that it wasn’t going to work. Too many people were around.
“No good,” he muttered to Nat. “Too many eyes.”
“Good point,” Nat replied. “We may have to wait.”
Minutes passed as Gark waited for another signal to come in. But when Nat chimed back in, she was anything but calm. “Scrap the plan, they’re coming for you,” she hissed.
“Where are you?”
“Street level,” Nat said. “Someone must have tipped off the police, because they’re in full force out here. Get out of there, because they’re coming into your building!”
“Freeze!” came a rough voice from behind him.
Gark knew his time was up. He looked around to see five armed police officers, all of them wearing protective face shields and body armor.
“Hands up!” the leader barked, and Gark did so. The rifle clattered to the floor.
“What’s going on?” Nat asked from her comm. unit.
“Step this way, assassin,” the police leader yelled, and Gark did as he was told. The five officers escorted him from the building, down the flights of stairs, and to the street level. Nat had been caught by this point, and she was already being handcuffed by the waiting police cruisers.
Several people came out of the diner to see what was going on. Apparently the politician was one of them, because as he was being handcuffed, Gark could hear the police chief tell the man that someone was trying to take an attempt at his life. The politician replied that it was certainly a surprise, and that he wanted the accused suspects to be prosecuted at the fullest extent of the law. The police chief replied that he would, and then Gark and Nat were shoved in the back of one of the cruisers.
“See you in court,” one of the officers said smugly as he thrust a black bag over Gark’s head, and his world went pitch black. A minute later, the cruiser’s engines started up, and Gark had a sickening feeling that this was the last ride he was ever going to take. What had he done?
“So, I told him that the new landspeeder class is supposed to be something that I would like,” one of the officers in the front seat said. His partner laughed.
“Of course you would. That sounds like something you would really dig,” he replied.
Gark turned his head in the direction he figured Nat was in. He could tell that she was there from the sounds of her breathing, but he couldn’t see her because the black bag was over his head, and he was strapped down to the back of the bulkhead. This wasn’t some ordinary cop cruiser; this was a maximum security cruiser, complete with latches, holds, and fasteners. It was for dangerous criminals like himself . . . he, Gark S’rily, a criminal . . . how wrong that sounded.
Then the cruiser stopped abruptly. “What the hell?” asked one of the officers. He looked out of the window at figure that was standing with their back to the cruiser. “Hey, buddy, buzz off! We’re driving here!”
Binn Kinshry turned around to face the cruiser, the freakish twitches on his face giving him a very menacing appearance. His eyes pierced into the officers like daggers, and the two men were instantly unsure of what to do.
“This guy might mean business,” one of them said. “Get out there and shoot him if he doesn’t move.”
The officer on the passenger side drew out his blaster and then aimed it out the window at the bald man. “Hey, get moving! Go! I order you, as an officer of the Coruscant Police Department . . .”
Kinshry just smiled in his evil manner and pulled out a trigger. “Oh Maker,” said one cop, his jaw dropping. Kinshry pressed the trigger button, and a loud explosion could be heard from behind the cruiser, causing a major concussion wave to shake the vehicle. The driver officer looked in his rearview mirror as the police cruiser behind his was blasted into the air by the force of the explosion, flipped over midair, and tumbled to the ground upside down in a flaming wreck. He could hear the anguished cries for help from his fellow officers, and his hands grabbed the wheel. “We gotta get outta here!” he remarked.
“Where’d he go?” the other officer asked when he looked straight ahead. Kinshry was no longer in front of their vehicle, as if he had somehow disappeared into thin air. And then he felt the strong hands around his throat. The man tried to yell, but the grasp on his jugular was too much. Trying to level his blaster, he was unable, and the life was sucked out of him by Kinshry, who had somehow appeared by the passenger side door and reached in through the open window. The driver watched in horror as his partner was killed, and tried to jam on the accelerator to get moving. However, a blaster shot from the driver’s side came piercing in through the window and hit him in the head, killing him instantly. His body slumped over the steering wheel, but the vehicle did not move.
“What’s going on?” Nat asked.
“I don’t like this,” Gark replied.
Then the back door to the cruiser opened, and both captives could feel the cold air hitting them as their nice warm environment was disrupted by outside air. “We’re going to be taking a slight detour,” announced a gruff voice before the doors were slammed shut once more.
Kinshry opened the passenger door and dumped the body of the officer he had strangled onto the side of the lane. A thug who had killed the driver pushed his body aside and got into the driver’s seat. The sound of sirens could be heard in the distance. “Get moving,” Kinshry instructed. The thug nodded and started up the engine.
The next few minutes were hellish for the two captives in the back. The cruiser, now plagued by the sound of sirens wailing away in the distance, swerved this way and that, cutting off other speeders and almost running people over as they milled about. Gark could feel his head getting knocked against the bulkhead, and this certainly didn’t make him feel any better about his predicament.
“What the hell is going on?” he quietly asked Nat.
“No clue,” the Hapan replied.
The rogue cruiser sped through a busy intersection with just a shred of space to spare, and a pursuing cruiser smashed right into an oncoming vehicle, its front end bashed in by the force of the collision. Another cruiser used a side street to try and cut off the rogue from making it too far out of range, but the thug leveled a blaster while driving and successfully hit the cruiser’s engine with a precise shot. The engine burst into flames, and the officers inside had to jump to safety as their burning cruiser hurtled towards a house. Shortly thereafter, the house went up in flames, the family inside just barely able to evacuate in time before the inferno swallowed their dwelling.
Kinshry still had a smug look on his face. He was making a mockery of the police department, and after a while the remaining cruisers dropped off because they were too far out of range to keep up pursuit. “Make your way back to the lair,” he instructed the thug, who turned a series of tight corners that caused Gark to ram into the bulkhead several more times. He was real sick of this ride, and even if he faced death soon after leaving the vehicle, it likely would be preferable to the torture experienced in the back of this cruiser.
Finally the vehicle stopped, and Gark breathed a sigh of relief. But the moment didn’t last long, because the doors were opened once again and he was shoved down to the ground, the bag still over his head. “Move or you’re dead,” the gruff voice instructed once more, and Gark followed the instructions.
He had no idea where he was or what was going on. But he had a suspicion that he didn’t want to know.
Okaaaaaaayyyy... so Gark has been captured. At least he's in the bad guys' hands rather than the cops' hands. For some reason I think that gives him a better chance to survive and regain his freedom. Plus it means EPIC ACTION SCENE coming up! (Well, probably...)
Thinking of Gark as an assassin might make for an interesting Bakura-Coruscant game. "Nothing is true; everything is permitted."
Does this make the Miners the Knights Templar?
Part Nine, which ends the string of posts on four consecutive days. Although I don't think anyone minds too badly when the story is this good.
The black bag was lifted off of Gark’s head, and he had to squint as the lights in the room blinded him. As he tried to force his pupils open all the way, he could see large patches of dull gray or brown around him with little white or yellowish discs. Everything seemed fuzzy, and Gark had to blink many a time before his eyes finally adjusted, and he snapped to attention. He was sitting in a dark room with walls that looked almost like they were earthen in origin. A musty scent hung in the air, reminding him how he smelled to others when his fur got wet. Two small lights hung from the ceiling, but barely did anything towards illuminating the space.
He looked down at his body. He had been forced into a sitting position, with his ankles chained together in a pair of binders. Binders also kept his wrists clasped together so he wouldn’t be able to try and break his way free with raw strength. From the looks of it, they wouldn’t be easily broken; someone had taken the time to ensure that these items were of top-notch quality.
Gark instantly wanted to know where he was. He remembered the ride here, but he didn’t know if this was a prison or something worse. What exactly was going on?
His question was answered when a figure stepped out of the shadows into the light on the far side of the room. Gark could make out the man’s bald head and scary countenance even from this distance, and knew immediately that he would probably rather be in prison than here.
“Ah, so kind of you to drop by,” Binn Kinshry said calmly as he took a few steps forward. Each step he took echoed around the room in a menacing manner; even his footsteps were edgy and evil. “No doubt you are wondering where you are?” There was a pause, but Gark didn’t say anything. “You . . . or both of you, I might say . . . are in my lair. Welcome to my corner of paradise,” he commented, moving his hand like a salesman trying to draw a customer’s attention to an image posted on a wall.
“Both of us?” Gark asked. He turned to look. Nat was sitting next to him, also bound up at her wrists and ankles. Behind the two of them were two armed thugs, each toting a large-carbine blaster rifle in their thick gloved hands.
“You probably do not remember why you were brought here,” Kinshry said in that same smooth, emotionless tone. Gark again stayed quiet; he wanted the bald man to incriminate himself with these words, wanted the truth to come out. Also, if he could just stall for time while he figured out how to pick these binders and free himself . . . “I made sure to hijack the police cruiser that the two of you were oh so ceremoniously riding in. Such a rush, isn’t it? I mean, attempting to assassinate a politician is serious business.”
“Then why didn’t you have the guts to go do it yourself?” Gark asked angrily.
“Why would I want to do a thing like that, when I can force someone else to do the dirty work for me?” Kinshry asked. “I am old and tired. Murdering someone in cold blood is . . . too much exertion for this weary body of mine, I’m afraid. So I have someone do it for me. In this case, that happened to be you. And now you are here. Do you know why you are here, Mr. S’rily? Do you know why I have put you in this position?”
“Because you’re insane,” Gark said through gritted teeth.
“Ah, not in reality,” Kinshry said, holding up a finger to contradict Gark’s comment. “You see, I not only needed to get you . . . on board . . . for doing my bidding, but I also had an . . . arrangement. You see, someone wanted my help, so I struck them a deal. And here you are, as promised.”
“What in the hell are you talking about?” Gark asked.
“This plan of mine was not made up on a whim, Mr. S’rily. Nothing I ever do is made up ‘on the fly’, as your parlance seems to suggest. I carefully plan my moves. It is what makes me so effective,” Kinshry said as he paced around a little bit, stopping on a dime after he finished his last statement. Then there was a pause. “But, tell me, do you know why I kidnapped your family?”
Gark stayed silent. He continued to try and figure out these binders by stealing quick glances down at the cuffs, but nothing he could think of would work. He had never seen this kind of binder before, and as such it would take some time to get free. With the armed guards in plain sight, he doubted he would be able to fuss too much without being caught.
“Stay silent, I am perfectly fine with that,” Kinshry said to break the tension. “I kidnapped your family because that was my half of the agreement.”
“What agreement?” Gark asked.
“I think you will find that the cause of all your problems is closer at hand than you originally thought,” Kinshry said, his face not even twitching as he spoke. “If you want to find the real architect of this plan, look to your left.”
Gark looked to his left, only to see Nat looking back at him with a mix of confusion and denial on her face. No, it couldn’t be, Gark thought to himself. Nat had betrayed him? She had played him for a fool?
“No, can’t be,” Gark uttered, his eyes widening as he spoke.
“I think it can be,” Kinshry said. “We had a deal, Ms. Patrovish. I kidnap his family and make them disappear so that you can fill that void in his life. Don’t be shy; come forward and claim your reward. You must have played it brilliantly.” Gark wanted to be sick; Nat had struck a deal with this man? Me’lin and Galin had suffered because the Hapan had a crush on a whim and decided to get them out of the way so that she could step in and claim Gark for her own? This disgusted the Bothan; the way she had helped him when he needed someone the most, the kisses, the dream, the passion-filled nights. They had all been a lie, a smokescreen for what she had done to get that far. She was a criminal as worse, if not more so, than Kinshry himself. At least the bald man was being brutally honest. The idyllic cottage scene with Nat and the children disappeared into the void of darkness in Gark’s mind, a dream crushed by the heartless truths of the galaxy. He had fallen for Nat, but she had to sell his soul in order to get to that point. Everything he had with her was now gone, replaced with a rage that he had not experienced in some time. He had been used.
“However, you never fulfilled your end of the bargain as I had requested. So I had to take matters into my own hands,” Kinshry continued. “I had you take out a hit on a prominent politician, someone with clout. However, I made sure to tip off the police that there might be a murder plot afoot, and they played it rather nicely, I must admit.”
“Then why are you telling me all this?” Gark asked. His anger was boiling over now. He wanted to rip off Kinshry’s head and then deal with Nat in a manner that suited her treachery; a slow, painful death. Her agony would be his pleasure, her cries for help drowned out by the sound of steam leaving his ears in anger. Thoughts of Me’lin and Galin suffering because of this woman danced in his mind. If they were dead, he could never forgive himself. He had been played, been used, been destroyed. Perhaps the shell of a man he had been when the news came that his family had disappeared would soon be a state to aspire to? He continued to sink further into the recesses of darkness, his soul now completely crushed. What had he done?
“Because I still need you for something, Mr. S’rily. I abducted you from the police cruiser because I have to complete my mission. Since Ms. Patrovish did not force you into succeeding in every endeavor I asked you to complete, I have to finish things off with my own hands. But like I said before, I don’t need to kill beings by myself. Why do the job that someone else could do so much easier . . . and then the blame does not rest on my shoulders while the credit goes solely to me.”
“You’ve been the puppet master this whole time,” Gark said angrily.
“Of course, my dear boy,” Kinshry replied. “Ms. Patrovish approached me many weeks ago about this plan. She believed that if your family were to dissipate into the air and not return, that she could find her true love with you. I agreed to help abduct them, but I knew that in your despair you could be a useful tool. So I sent out the demands on that datapad for you to kill Milberry. She was of no concern. But I wanted to see how you would react. And you played it so predictably. You went to the one being who you trusted for such an assignment . . . the same being who had already sold your body to me so that she could have your mind and your soul to herself. And it worked out brilliantly, I must admit. Through your work, I have been able to knock off many an enemy of mine, and I intend to make another spectacle before all is said and done. There is never enough to do as a crime lord,” he said, now rubbing his head a little bit.
“And I bet that involves killing me,” Gark replied in a bitter tone.
“No . . . at least not yet,” Kinshry said. “There would be no sense in killing you now. I still have one last assignment for you to perform for me.”
“I’d rather die than spill more innocent blood,” Gark yelled, yanking on his binders unsuccessfully.
“It will do you no good to keep struggling,” Kinshry remarked. “Those binders are military-grade. Who knew that such dumb brutes as the military could come up with such ingenious, useful inventions?”
“You’ll find I’m full of surprises,” Gark commented.
“Then you will love what I have in store for you,” Kinshry said. “Ms. Patrovish, although you did not formally pay off your debt, consider this man’s life as my due payment. You are free to go if you wish. But I must warn you; you may not like staying here, because my men have itchy trigger fingers, and I am not the most lenient host when it comes to those who double-cross or fail to pay me on time,” he said in a menacing tone.
One of the guards came over and freed Nat from her binders, starting with the ankles and then releasing the wrists. The Hapan stood up and looked down at Gark, who stared back up at her. But the feelings of mutual respect and affection were now gone, replaced by Nat’s indifference and Gark’s rage. How could Nat, whom he trusted during the Superbothan project, go so low as to hatch a plan like this? She was crazy for believing that he would fall in love with her . . . yet he had. The void left by his family’s abduction had given her the opportunity she had wanted, and she seized it. Now he felt that all of those days they had spent together were meaningless, that they were a front for her to take advantage of him for her own gain and not for his.
“I’m sorry it had to turn out this way,” she said.
“No you’re not!” Gark yelled at her, causing her to snap back in shock. “You used me, you abused me . . . and you destroyed me. I hope you’re happy.”
“Ah, truer words could not be spoken,” Kinshry said. “You may leave, Ms. Patrovish. Your work here is finished.”
“Yes it is,” Nat said. She turned around and walked out of the room without giving Gark a second look. When she had left, the room returned to being eerily silent.
“But your work, Mr. S’rily, is only beginning,” Kinshry commented. “I look forward to what great things I can expect from you in the future.”
“I’ll do something great, all right,” Gark said. “And you won’t like it.”
“Charming to the last,” Kinshry remarked. “Lock him in the cell. But, before you do that, make sure to correct his mental state. I think he needs to have some . . . minor adjustments done before the work can begin. Farewell,” he said before shrinking back into the shadows. The two guards came forward and grabbed Gark by the elbows. He was hoisted up and then dragged across the floor out of the room.
One last object hit Gark in the gut, but he was too tired to let out anything more than a groan. Both of his eyes were closed due to his body being abused so many times, and he didn’t have any strength left to say anything. The brutes had completely battered him; he was now a wreck of a man.
The last thing he could remember when he was dumped on the floor of the cold cell was what had happened when Nat had left; the punishment had all faded away into his mind. But the pain hadn’t. It was ever-present, his bones aching, his body bruised and beaten. As he laid face-down on the floor, he struggled to breath in the air around him. It was mustier than the other room, but it was a small comfort for a man who had now lost everything.
Me’lin S’rily looked up from the floor as the guards brought a body into the small cramped cell and then locked the door behind it. She took one glance at the body and dismissed it, thinking that Kinshry had brought another kidnapped victim here as part of his cruel operation. They looked beaten and battered, and might even be dead for all she knew. But, on second thought, something about the body seemed familiar . . . where had she seen this man before? She scooted forward a foot or two, craning her neck to see who it was. She was getting weaker every day, the cramped cell and lack of decent food taking its toll on her and Galin’s bodies and minds.
And then she realized that the body was that of her husband. She continued to scoot over to Gark’s side, and then flipped him over carefully. His clothes were ripped and battered, and from the looks of it his body had also borne its fair share of abuse. His eyes were closed, but she could hear him breathing when she leaned down to check his pulse. He was a pitiful man, but she didn’t care. Gark was now here, and to a woman who hadn’t seen a friendly face in almost six weeks, it was the most welcome sight she could have hoped for.
Gark then coughed, Me’lin recoiling as to not be hit by anything that might come from the Bothan’s mouth. A trickle of blood appeared from the side of his lips, so she used his shirt sleeve to clot up the bleeding. The Bothan’s eyes flickered open, but it was obvious that it was painful for him to even want to move. “Wh . . . wha . . . what happened?” he finally asked. “Am I dead?”
“No,” Me’lin replied.
“Can’t . . . can’t be,” Gark mumbled. He opened his eyes a little more, and then his pupils looked up to see who had responded to his question. “Lin . . .”
“I’m here,” Me’lin said. She began to stroke Gark’s cheek with her finger, and a small upward turn of Gark’s mouth resulted. “You look frightening.”
“I . . . I . . . feel . . . as such,” he said. He was extremely weak, and saying even this much took more effort than he wanted to use.
“I was worried you weren’t coming for us,” Me’lin said in a concerned tone. “That you had forgotten about us. I couldn’t believe that to be true, but the weeks went by, and you didn’t arrive. We had no idea where you were, what you were doing while we sat here in this cell. I had terrible dreams that you were off with another woman as I was rooted in place in the background, unable to get your attention. I cried myself to sleep so many nights I lost count. How could you forget to come? But now you’re here, and that’s all I can ask for.” She bent over and kissed Gark on his battered lips. It was the most thoughtful thing Gark could have asked for at this moment. Nat had done damage with her lies and deceit, but a kiss from the woman he truly loved was definitely something he could cherish in his addled state.
“Hi Daddy,” Galin said in his childish voice. He leaned in to his father a bit and gave him a big hug, even though the elder Bothan wasn’t able to return the gesture. “Mommy said you weren’t coming.”
“Yeah . . . about that . . .,” Gark replied.
Then Me’lin realized something. If Gark was here with them, no matter how great that was for her morale . . . who could save them now? And she had a question that was lingering in the back of her mind.
“How did you get here?” she asked.
“Brought in . . . told that I . . . was . . . deceived . . . beaten . . . thrown in here . . .” Gark said. Even in this state of mind, he didn’t want to say why he was here. He couldn’t bear to regale to Me’lin the tale of hiring Nat to murder people in cold blood. He couldn’t afford to lose the only piece of normality he had left in his life, so he kept this to himself. Maybe he could mention it at another time, or perhaps he could forget it? Was there a way to retrieve his soul from the depths it had sunk to over the last many weeks?
“Well, I guess it doesn’t matter,” Me’lin replied. “What matters is that you’re here with us. Can you sit up?” Gark shook his head. “OK. I’m going to get you through this pain, whatever it takes” she said calmly.
“Thanks,” Gark said with a weak smile. He was so glad to see that his family was alive and well. The circumstances could be better, but given how the deck was stacked against him, things could be worse. At least he wasn’t beaten and left alone in this cold cell.
Not Nat! Did not see that coming.
At least things can only get better from here.
TAGS to a very eager
@Trieste , who hopefully won't be annoyed at having multiple TAGS from this thread when he gets back.
Several days passed, and every day Gark was gaining his strength back bit by bit. Me’lin was helping him to eat the gruel that was given to them every now and then in a small grimy bowl by force feeding him. It was akin to feeding Galin all over again, but this time the recipient was much less feisty about how he was fed and at what times. When Gark finally had his strength back, or at least what strength he could have after being beaten so badly days before, she turned her attention to her situation once more. Gark’s arrival had distracted her from their bleak situation for a few days; his health had been more important than worrying about the predicament, but now that he seemed to be doing alright that doubt and fear crept back into her mind.
“So you’ve just been stuck in here the whole time,” Gark commented as he leaned with his back against the wall.
“As much as I can remember, yes,” Me’lin said. “The abduction . . . it just happened so fast. And then we were dumped here, told that we were bait for you to come. But you never did.”
“Lin, I did my best to come as soon as possible. But, it was . . . complicated. It was taking longer than I wanted, and I feared the worst.”
“As did I,” Me’lin replied. “I thought you were running off with another woman as the two of us rotted away in this cell.”
This thought struck home in Gark’s mind. Me’lin had hit the nail right on the head; he had indeed run off with another woman while his family wasted away in this dingy room. But he didn’t have the courage to tell her, because the Twi’lek didn’t need another blow. She and Galin had been suffering enough by being caged in this cell, and giving her the truth would only break her heart. So he stayed silent, unwilling to explain the real reason why he was here.
“You were off coaching with the team, weren’t you?” the Twi’lek asked when Gark said nothing. All he did was nod. “Instead of coming after us, you . . . coached.”
“I couldn’t let my team down,” Gark replied quietly. “They needed me there, and . . . I was formulating a plan of attack most of the time, anyways.”
“It seems to have failed,” Me’lin said with a frown. “Because with you in here with us now, there is no one left to save us.” Gark just put his head down and kept his mouth shut. Me’lin had made another excellent point. His last hope for rescue was Nat, and the way she had left him unceremoniously at Kinshry’s mercy told him all he needed to know. She wasn’t coming back. Was she off seducing another man of wealth and status now, pretending to love him to pay off Kinshry or to help her forget? The Hapan was excellent at putting things out of her mind, since she had been running away from her past the whole time Gark had known her. And she likely was doing nothing different now with him out of the way.
“It’s been a rough existence,” Me’lin continued. “Galin had to celebrate his third birthday here, with nothing to make him feel the least bit happy about it. Think about it, Gark . . . three years. He’s growing up so fast . . . and yet he may not see any more birthdays. We may just waste away in this cell.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Gark asked roughly. Me’lin was shocked at his tone; it wasn’t like Gark to get this angry at her. “You seem to act as if I wasn’t here at all.”
“That’s not true,” Me’lin said, a concerned look on her face. “I was just saying . . .”
“Enough, I don’t want to hear it,” Gark said. He turned his back on Me’lin and stared at the wall, his head supported on his bent knees.
“Gark, don’t . . .” Me’lin pleaded.
“Leave me alone,” Gark said flatly. Me’lin frowned and then looked at Galin, who was huddled up next to the bars of the cell.
“Why is Daddy mad?” the little boy asked.
“I . . . I don’t know,” Me’lin replied.
But the look in Galin’s eyes told Me’lin that her answer wasn’t sufficient to placate him. Galin obviously wanted an answer, wanted to know why his parents were arguing. Given their current situation, the boy had been traumatized for the past seven weeks, and when his father had been brought in to join them, there had been a glimmer of hope. But now that seemed lost because his parents were bickering, and the child wanted nothing more than just to be back home, free from the cell, free from the lack of food, free to see the galaxy through the eyes of a three-year old child.
“Galin . . . come here . . . please,” Me’lin said. The young boy scooted over to his mother, who hugged him close. Galin leaned into his mother’s body, his own body trembling. This was all she could do to comfort him; it was a small gesture, but at least it showed the child that he was indeed loved. In an emotionless environment such as this, even a hug could mean so much more to someone who was conflicted, especially a child.
She turned to look at Gark, who still had his back turned. “I’m . . . sorry . . . I didn’t want to get mad at you . . .” she said slowly to her husband. “We’ve had a rough go of things . . .”
“No, it’s my fault,” Gark said as he continued to stare at the wall.
“Don’t be the hero,” Me’lin said. “I’ll take the blame for starting the argument . . .”
“No,” Gark replied. “I . . . I haven’t . . .”
“Yes?” Me’lin asked.
“I haven’t told . . . you . . . the whole story . . .” Gark said. Despite his better judgment, Me’lin needed to know about his tardiness for being here, the relationship with Nat, the killings. She needed to know everything.
But he was unable to begin telling the story, because the door to the room opened and three figures entered. Binn Kinshry was flanked by two of his heavily-armed guards. Gark turned around to look at these new arrivals, and Galin retreated further into Me’lin’s hold. He was scared, and this was his only safe haven.
“Ah, good to see that you are recovering on schedule,” Kinshry said. What could have been delivered in a sweet tone instead sounded like anything but. Even this simple remark had an edgy undertone to it that Gark didn’t like. “I think that it is about time that you complete your last mission for me.”
“And what would that be?” Gark asked through gritted teeth.
“I need you to assassinate one last person for me,” Kinshry replied calmly, as if this killing meant absolutely nothing of consequence to him. And it probably didn’t.
“You’d be better off killing me,” Gark said.
“Under normal circumstances, I would, but, you see, I have a flair for the dramatic. There is no use killing you in private, because then I don’t get a show out of it. It has always been one of my more . . . interesting . . . traits, to be sure. But a public murder of you, or of someone powerful, would be enough to satiate my desire for spectacle. And I think that this will fit that bill rather nicely.”
“What in the hell are you talking about?” Gark asked.
“Politics are a funny business. You can chop off one head, but another will rise to take its place. It’s how politics has always worked, and always will. However, the real goal of killing someone in office is to remove them and their policies from the forefront. You can take off their head, and replace them with someone more . . . malleable. Someone you know you can trust.”
“You want to finish off that politician,” Gark deduced.
“Oh, him. He was of no consequence,” Kinshry said. “But, don’t worry. He was dealt with soon enough. Two days after you tried to kill him, my agents were able to finish the job. His aides found him dead in his chair, two bolts in his back. My assassins did a wonderful job covering their tracks.” Gark wanted to lunge and kill Kinshry right here, but the bars stopped him from doing so.
“What do you mean ‘you’ tried to kill?” Me’lin asked, turning to Gark. “You would never do such a thing.”
“Sometimes beings do strange things for the ones they love,” Kinshry said. “Or, sometimes, they just do as they are told. But I can tell that you have not told her. That is a shame; it is a story that must be told in its entirety. And I would love to hear you give every last detail, but I am afraid that duty calls. And that requires your presence, Mr. S’rily.”
“What are you up to now?” Gark asked.
“Murders of small-time representatives and board members don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things,” Kinshry said. “Their deaths were reported on the news one night, and then the next night was replaced by cute Cathar videos, bad weather forecasts, and celebrity news. Not exactly a spectacle worth cherishing. However, I have come up with a solution that might have some sticking power.”
“You’re going to kill someone of importance,” Gark finished.
“Exactly, my dear boy,” Kinshry said. “Do you know what season this is?” Gark didn’t say anything. “It’s election season. And you know what that means. Plenty of wannabe politicians are taking the stand, trying to prove why they deserve a new office for the next term. Some of them have favorable policies for my operations, others . . . not so favorable. And I want you to help with me that issue.”
Everything was falling into place for Gark. Kinshry had forced him to murder Milberry in order to see if he was capable of pulling off such a deed. He had succeeded by hiring Nat, so Kinshry accordingly challenged him with a series of other killings. With his capability proven, or at least established, now Kinshry was able to complete his plan.
“What do you hope to gain out of this?” he finally asked.
“Everything,” Kinshry replied. “After Mrs. Milberry was found dead, I was able to push my weight around on that hyperlane project. The Commission was unable to block my demands, under a different identity, mind you, and they are planning on adding the lane as soon as possible. However, I am happy to note that quite a few of the funds used there are currently making their way into my bank accounts. They might think they are funding a hyperlane, which not only allows me to move materials and my crews off to other sectors of the city to finish their jobs, but it also fills my coffers. Crime isn’t cheap, so I will take any revenue I can get.” He paused for several seconds.
“But this will be the biggest prize of them all. A political killing during election season shall strike fear into the hearts of the voters. I have decided to start with the Senator of Dorin, Mes Kluun. The man is serving on the Executive Board for Core World Affairs within the Senate, and he has vigorously opposed any motions I have tried to put through in lower courts. He is staging a rally in downtown today, and it is expected to have a good fifty-thousand, if not more, beings in attendance. Your job is going to be simple. One of my sharpshooters will be standing by in a building window, unsafe safe from view, and then when I give the signal, which will be a small fireworks display behind the stage he is using; several shots will be fired in his direction when he is distracted. When the police, and any Senatorial Guard who are present, realize where the shots came from, they will investigate, only to find your dead body next to the murder weapon, my sharpshooter long since left to safety. I can just see the headlines tomorrow: ‘Senator Kills Senator: Political Candidate Murdered by Beloved Sports Manager.’ You’re going to make all the headlines, and it will break the hearts of all your fans to know that you were the one who pulled the trigger. But you will be unable to tell them what really went down. By knocking off my enemies, I shall be able to complete my biggest objective of them all.”
“And what would that be?” Gark challenged. So Kinshry was keeping him alive now just to slaughter him later; that was a real pleasant thought, wasn’t it?
“I do not desire to be in politics,” Kinshry said. “But I think being a notorious crime lord would be enough to satiate me. I want power, I want wealth, and most of all, I want people to fear my name. When they hear ‘Binn Kinshry’, I do not want them to think of me as a wannabe, a has-been. I want them to fear hearing my named mentioned, be afraid that they could be the next victim if they cross me.”
“How would you accomplish that?”
“The Senate is looking to elect new members, as memory serves,” Kinshry said. “And some of the candidates are not exactly willing to help me. So I need those problem individuals disposed of.”
“But why would you want to rig the elections?” Gark asked.
“Because I want the Republic’s Advisory Boards under my thumb,” Kinshry said. “If I can force a few friendly officials into office, then I will be able to push some of my programs into their rhetoric to great effect. Although the Senate has a new elected Chancellor, and I was unable to push this plan through faster, I can still lay low and run things from the shadows through the lower court systems. I will bide my time until a new Chancellor comes up for election, or . . . until I can arrange the new one to be taken care of.”
“You really think you’re going to be able to accomplish all this by killing off a few Senators?” Gark asked, cocking an eyebrow. This plan sounded rather far-fetched.
“You don’t know how deep this hole goes, do you? I have a passion for dreaming large,” Kinshry said. “But I have finished my diatribe, so it is time for the two of us to make history. Say goodbye to your family; you will never see them again.”
Gark looked to Me’lin, who shared the look back at him. This was a moment reminiscent to the scene in 272 outside the entrance to the Bothancave in the pouring rain. Gark could remember that day as if it was just yesterday. He could remember what he thought, what kinds of emotions were running through his mind the whole time.
Gark took several steps forward, and then stopped on a dime. He was not alone.
“I knew you would come,” he said, not even looking back at the person he was addressing.
Me’lin came around the corner, a look of concern in her eyes. “Don’t go,” she said. “It’s suicide!”
Gark turned around and took his mask off, revealing his face. His fur began to get wetted down with the steady drizzle, but he didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, it was only him and Me’lin out there in a void filled with nothingness. “If I don’t, lots of people are going to die. They’re my friends, and I have to help them. This is my choice.”
“But why?” Me’lin asked, distraught.
Gark hesitated for a moment. “Because I have no other options,” he finally stated. It was true; he was stuck in a corner, and now had to fight his way out. But he was afraid there might not be a fight to win this time. “You have to understand that.”
“Wait for backup,” the Twi’lek said. “The other agents shouldn’t be too hard to reach . . .”
“By the time they get here, it’ll be too late. Maybe I’m a fool for doing this, but at least my conscience will be clear, knowing that I did what I could to save my players. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it has to be.” He readied himself to take off, but Me’lin held out a hand to stop the Bothan before he could do anything.
“I love you,” Me’lin finally said, a look of pain on her face. One of utter terror, the kind you had on your face when you had the sickening feeling in your gut that someone you cared about was going to get hurt.
“I know,” Gark said slowly, deliberately. He then turned to leave, to face his destiny. Taking his grappling gun, he shot the cable off towards a nearby building and vaulted out of sight, leaving Me’lin to stand in the ever-dripping rain feeling more alone than she had ever figured she would be in her life.
Gark blinked and then looked down at where Galin was hiding in his mother’s side. He had let his family down by not coming after them sooner, and now he was going to harm them again by being killed and then framed for murder of a politician. The cruelty and coldness of the galaxy seeped in once more, and it expelled any warmth he had been experiencing with his family at his side once more. Kinshry was right; this was the last time he would ever see his wife’s smiling face, or his son’s useful exuberance. And Me’lin wasn’t smiling; instead, she was on the verge of tears. Gark had returned to her earlier in the week, and now he was going to be brutally slain because of this bald man who had done so much to rip the two apart for so long. The Twi’lek couldn’t take the strain, and a tear finally dropped from her eye and slowly descended her cheek.
“Retrieve him,” Kinshry said. The guards moved forward, one of them opening the door with an old-fashioned key. When the cell door was opened, they roughly picked Gark up off the floor and dragged him out of the cell and towards the room door. As he was dragged out of the room, Gark gave Me’lin one last glimpse. It was a look of terror, not unlike the expression he had in 272 when he was headed to his doom against Calo Mornd. Both times he had loved Me’lin, but in ’72 that had been a new revelation, and had he not been forced into action, might have taken more time to come to fruition. Now he had been married to her, owned a house, worked side-by-side at the team HQ, had a family together. He was no longer leaving a love interest behind; he was now leaving a wife and child behind to wallow in their despair. This situation was worse than the prior one with Mornd, because now Galin was old enough to remember him, and how he had been killed by the torturous bald man. This sight was not for the eyes of a child, and Gark wished as he had been dragged out that Galin hadn’t seen a single thing, lest he become even more depressed than he already was. The child was just three years old, and Gark had treasured those three years. But he wasn’t going to see Galin grow up, and Me’lin was going to be left a widow with his passing. She was going to be assaulted by the media after he was found dead near the rifle, asked if she knew that Gark was going to execute such a heinous plan. She would have to stay strong in order to deal with the onslaught, stronger than he had been during this whole mess.
I’m sorry for everything he thought to himself as he was dragged out towards his fate.
As soon as Gark was taken out of the room, Kinshry gave one last wretched smile towards Me’lin before leaving the room, slamming the door behind him. Now silence reigned in the room once more, and Me’lin hugged Galin even closer to her body. He was all she had to lean on now for support. Gark was going to die, and she was going to be alone in this galaxy, with only a three-year old child to give her comfort. She could remarry, yes, she could rebuild her life, she could have many more children, but a piece of her was going to die today with the extinguishing of Gark’s life. She could try to make up for material things, but could she ever truly be happy with Gark dead? No other man could ever come close to what Gark meant to her, and she could never love again if he died and took that piece of her with him to his grave.
Me’lin S’rily was a completely broken woman.
That is pure evil. Even my bad guys are not that evil.
Oh, and does this count as god-moding with The Bluebells and the Edelweiss?
@jcgoble3 (Trieste, but he already got a TAG from yesterday ),
@Admiral Volshe and
Mes Kluun woke up to the sound of an aide knocking on his door. “Mr. Kluun, sir, you must get up. We need to get you ready for today’s speech down in the square.”
Kluun just groaned and looked at the chrono. It read 0530; his aide was correct in that he needed to get moving. It wasn’t like he wanted to. If given the chance, he would rather stay in bed and sleep. But running for another Senatorial term meant that he could not afford to lose any time. Time was precious when one was on the campaign trail, and today’s speech was going to be a major event. If it was successful, if he could somehow manage to garner the support of the people, perhaps he could gain a step up on his competition.
Against the wills of his weary body, which only had four hours of sleep the previous night after having stayed up late to finish the speech, he sat up and let out a small guttural sound that was an equivalent to a yawn. Readjusting his breathing mask, the Kel Dor man stood up and walked over to the door. He opened the door, and two of his aides came in.
“We need to dress you first, sir,” one said.
“Then get moving,” Kluun said. “We don’t have much time.”
“Not much time at all, sir,” the aide replied. He went over to the dresser and pulled out a fancy-looking robe, which had been pre-selected last week as the uniform of choice for today’s speech. Kluun wanted to make sure that he didn’t look like a businessman, although the corporation was how he had risen through the ranks in his youth. He had always been a gifted public speaker, but in order to gain the capital necessary to pursue politics, he had to carry several jobs. But he had been successful in these opportunities, and here he was, Senator of his home planet for one term and potentially for another.
When Kluun was dressed, it was off to feed him. The servant droid made sure to garnish the meal as it usually did, and Kluun eagerly bit into his food. He was going to need a hardy breakfast to give his speech today, because there was no use going in hungry. All the while, his campaign advisors were talking to him, trying to make any last-minute changes to the speech and regaling him of the day’s news. Most of it was drivel, unrelated material that he knew he needn’t worry about. However, when he heard that a rival of his was scheduling a rally of their own in a few days, Kluun’s eyes narrowed. His aide couldn’t see this motion due to the glasses that protected the Senator’s eyes, but Kluun usually sat like this when he was deep in thought. The aide left him alone to think, but as soon as he tried to walk away, Kluun came up with a theory.
“I want to include something in the speech,” he said in his deep voice. “If I am going to be challenged on the basis of worker’s rights, I need to be able to rebut them.”
“Right away, sir,” the aide said before scurrying away. Yes, Kluun thought to himself, that little portion would be an excellent addition to his speech. You could never be too careful when it came to politics. He had used his gift of gab to charm his way to the top, but when his rivals challenged him, he had always been able to come up with an excellent comeback, something to keep him in a positive light while preventing the challengers from gaining any advantage. Sometimes he had to attack other politicians on their policies or demands, and usually that worked out in his favor because his aides were top-notch and had done their homework. They all came from the best law schools in the galaxy, from Coruscant, Bakura, and everywhere in between. When he won election, they had done their part in getting the Kluun camp to victory. When he had become Senator, he had compensated his workers in a fair manner, and if they could help him win the office once again, then they would attain another bonus.
Next up after the morning meal was the tour of the stage. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, and Kluun smiled underneath his breathing mask. The weather couldn’t be more cooperative; it was like the gods had given him a small boost of their own without him needing to utter a single word to anyone. He was paraded around the stage and shown where his podium sat. He stood behind it and gave a few sentences of an old political speech he had given many years earlier, one he had memorized by heart because it would prove difficult to bring the manuscript with him. Even a droid hovering in the air could prove distracting, so he had decided to do without and go from memory. It had been a smashing success, and had helped paved the way for this moment.
When he was taken off the stage, he met with his chief advisors and the commanding officer of the Coruscanti police force assigned to the rally to keep order and to protect the Senator. A few Senatorial Guards were going to be in place, but they had yet to arrive due to it still being early and their reporting time was not for another hour.
“We are here to make sure that you are able to pull off your rally without a hitch,” the commander said to Kluun.
“I am most grateful for your help, Commander,” Kluun replied. “Political rallies can sometimes go out of hand.”
“That’s why we’re here. We’ll keep the crowd in line, although I hope you won’t be offering anything too offensive,” the commander commented.
“Let us hope I am not,” Kluun said as his aides whisked him away to the makeup artists. He had three hours left before the rally, but the makeup needed to be applied first. As Kluun sat in his chair, he ran over the speech in his head. Should he go from the script verbatim, or make it up as he went along in case the crowd approved or didn’t approve of his comments? The powder bag hit his face, and his mask got a temporary clog in it as the filter finally cleaned it out. The oxygen mask he wore was a nuisance during this step, and this was why he had always hated makeup. Yes he was going to be giving a major speech, but did he need to choke on the powder and other products just to look good? Couldn’t he go without?
Two hours later, he was back on the stage to practice his speech and to test out the mic system. He spoke into the microphone, and his voice, already imposing, boomed out of the speakers surrounding the square. He nodded his approval when the technicians said that they had fixed sound levels, and then he retreated into a nearby hotel lobby to prepare for the speech. Beings were already arriving in droves to hear him speak, and soon the square was filled with thousands of individuals, some short, some tall, some old and the young.
“Sir, we have contracted a small fireworks display to occur while you are on your way up to the stage,” an aide said as they sat in the lobby chairs. “Something to give the crowd a jolt of energy.”
“What could I ever do without your help, from all of you?” Kluun asked. “You know exactly what to say at the right time, and are far more creative than I myself am.”
“We try, sir,” the aide said with a nod. “You have twenty minutes.”
“Then I shall make sure those are a useful twenty minutes,” Kluun replied. Twenty minutes until the biggest speech of his career. There was no turning back now.
Building High Above the Square
Gark S’rily was pushed into the room by one of the guards, forced onto the floor. The guards stood above him, ready to kick him down if he resisted. Gark looked up at the room he had been thrown into; it was as barren as a room could be, just a few power outlets on the wall and an old Holo frame sitting crooked on the wall without an image inside. It was the perfect base of operations for the assassination attempt.
Binn Kinshry came into the room. “It is almost time,” he said. He then turned to his designated sharpshooter, who was toting a sniper rifle not too much unlike the one Gark had used at the Oranga Theater. “I want you to stay low until the Senator comes onto the stage. I have arranged for one of my agents to run the show. He will fire up a green firework followed by two yellow ones when the Senator is ready to come onto the stage. Then you have free range to shoot as many bolts as necessary.”
“Understood,” the sharpshooter said.
“However, there is one more thing,” Kinshry said, stopping the shooter. “When you have finished, make sure to get the hell out of here. Leave the rifle with the body, and get to the back stairs. We will bring a speeder over to retrieve you. That way you will be miles from here by the time the police arrive.”
“Back stairs, understood,” the sharpshooter replied.
“Good man. Now, as for you,” Kinshry said to one of his thugs. “The moment the fireworks go off, I want you to shoot the prisoner in the head. Use a similar caliber shot to the rifle we are using. After you have successfully killed the prisoner and the Senator, move to the back stairs as well. The speeder will be large enough to accompany both of you out of here.” The guard nodded.
Kinshry then bent over to be at the same height as Gark. The Bothan was staring at the floor, and Kinshry smiled. “I do not envy you right now, Mr. S’rily. You are about to have your reputation tarnished for all time, and you will be very, very pleased to be dead. It will be the only way to save your sanity. Sometimes it is better to be dead than to be alive and hunted. In this manner, we are doing you a favor.”
“You’re making a huge mistake, Kinshry, and you are going to pay for it someday,” Gark muttered.
“We shall see about that,” Kinshry said. He left the room in a huff, all but the one guard and the sharpshooter following him out into the hallway. The door closed behind them, and now the three men were alone in the room.
Gark went through his options. He had no weapons, so there was no way he could incapacitate the guard without taking out the shooter first. But that would be a difficult task, because all the shooter needed to do was turn around and fire at him, and he was on the other side of the room. The window was a good distance away, an eternity of no man’s land if this shooter was a halfway-decent shot. Gark hoped he wasn’t.
Minutes seemed to tick by in slow motion. Although there wasn’t a chrono in the room, Gark could still feel his heartbeat, still feel his pulse as it raced. He was facing the end, in a room with no furnishing. This was not going to be the heroic “death” that he had suffered at Calo Mornd’s hands in 272. He wasn’t going to suffer through an agonizing death, but dying still wasn’t something he wanted. The Bothan had all the reason in the galaxy to live; he had the team, he had his job, he had his family. But none of those would save him now. Undoubtedly the team was on the shuttle right now, probably not wondering where he was. He wished he could be there with them, be anywhere but here. And he was going to die here. How convenient.
When the time came for the Senator to come out, the sharpshooter braced himself in the window, ready to fire. Pop! went the first firework, and Gark looked down at the floor. His time of judgment had come, and he only had a few more seconds left to live. A cold sweat developed in his body, and his muscles tensed as they readied themselves for the destruction of his life. His pulse sped up, and he just wanted to close his eyes. Maybe if he didn’t see the shot, he wouldn’t feel the bolt as it killed him. Maybe he could die peacefully and not kicking and screaming.
The guard, spurred on by the sound of the fireworks, drew the correct caliber blaster and then leveled it at Gark’s head. He was going to enjoy this.
“Sir, it’s your time,” an aide said.
“Very well,” Kluun remarked as he stood up. “Do we have the speech ready?”
“It is on the podium, sir,” the aide replied.
“Good. Let us hope that this will be beneficial to the campaign,” Kluun said as he left the hotel lobby. A police officer stopped him.
“I have been instructed to keep you here until a point in the display where it is safe to proceed,” the man said.
“Very well,” Kluun said again. “If it is safer that I wait, I shall wait.” The fireworks show began, just small sparklers due to it being early afternoon. These were more visible than the larger fireworks that would be almost invisible against the skyline. Blue sparklers were replaced by red sparklers, and then a yellow one followed by two greens.
The officer turned around and motioned for Kluun to go forward. The Kel Dor did so, and the crowd began to cheer. The time for his speech had come. He strode up the stairs onto the stage, and then walked to the podium. He took a deep breath and took one last look at his notes.
“Fellow citizens, I would like to welcome you to my re-election speech. With your help, I can do great things as Senator . . .”
Spoiler (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content)
This cliffhanger has been brought to you by the Gunny School of Cliffhangers, sponsored in part by 1-800-BOTHAN. For all your S'rily Service Needs.
This cliffhanger has been brought to you by the Gunny School of Cliffhangers, sponsored in part by 1-800-BOTHAN. For all your S'rily Service Needs.
@Admiral Volshe and
Gark closed his eyes as he could feel the blaster press into the back of his skull, and he took one last long breath. He was going to die, and he hadn’t even been able to say goodbye to his family and friends. What a terrible way to go, he thought to himself. The thought of Me’lin crying over his grave was too much to handle, and he put it out of his mind. But the image of her stayed in his mind. When he died, he wanted to make sure that she was the last thing he thought about. She was that important to him.
Then he heard a grunt, and the blaster slid off his head. The guard recoiled after being hit, and then with another smack to the face went down hard on his back without firing a single shot. The sharpshooter, noticing that he didn’t have much time, readied himself to take the shot. He looked through his scope and then punched the trigger. However, right before he fired, something smashed him in the back, and he fell forward into the wall, his head snapping back on impact. The blaster bolt flew past the stage and embedded itself in one of the sparkler containers. It exploded in a colorful display down beside the stage, temporarily drowning out the Kel Dor’s speech.
Gark looked up to see the shooter lying face-down, and then turned to view the guard on his back, the blaster that had almost killed him sitting alone on the floor. Standing above the guard was an armored man, the color unmistakable.
“Tark?” Gark finally asked.
The man turned around to show off his Mando armor. He then took off his helmet to reveal his face; it was Sony Tark, the Mandalorian warrior whom Gark had saved in the alley all those years prior. “Consider us even,” he said.
“How did you know I was here?” Gark asked. “I never called for help.”
“Lucky for you, I did,” came a familiar voice. Gark wheeled around to see Nat’alia Patrovish come into the room, dressed in her usual sleek fighting suit. Her hair was no longer straight, instead curly like it had always been during the Superbothan project.
“Nat,” Gark said with a growl. “How dare you come back here, after what you did to me?”
“Shut up and listen,” Nat said. “We need to get you out of here, because the cops are already on their way up.
“And how can I trust you?” Gark snarled.
“Do you have any other options at the moment?” the Hapan asked.
“The back stairs,” Gark said after thinking this through for several seconds. He disliked Nat with a passion right now, but if she could help get him out of here, then that would be well worth it. “Kinshry said that the thugs needed to retreat to the back stairs after shooting the Senator.”
“Then we need to get there first,” Nat replied. She reached down and sprung Gark free from his bindings, but the Bothan didn’t want to go quietly. He punched Nat in the face with all the strength he could muster.
“What the hell was that for?” she shrieked.
“You betrayed me!” Gark yelled. “You’re the reason I’m in this mess in the first place! I oughta kill you right here.”
“Come on, lovebirds, we need to move,” Tark said. He had put his helmet back on, and so his voice was now metallic.
“Us? You must be joking,” Gark said with a fake laugh.
“I’d like to think we still were,” Nat said. She quickly slapped Gark on the butt before retreating out of the room. Gark groaned at her before following Tark out, leaving the two thugs in the room knocked out cold.
As soon as he made his way into the hallway, Gark could hear voices from far down below. The cops were on their way up, so they had little time. He ran after Tark and Nat, who bust open a door with a swift kick to keep moving. After a minute or two, Tark shot through a wall. The wall collapsed, and the three of them made it to the back stairs.
“Up or down?” Nat asked.
“Kinshry didn’t say,” Gark replied.
“Fine,” Nat said. “Stand back.” She reached for her blaster and then shot at the wall. The wall didn’t fall down like the other one had to Tark’s bolt.
“Nice try,” Tark commented.
“Shut it, buckethead,” Nat said. She then sent out a vicious kick, and the wall, weakened by the bolt, gave way. Nat careened towards the opening in the side of the building, and Tark had to catch her before she was sucked out of the building. As she hung on the edge, she looked down to see a speeder hovering two floors below, waiting for the thugs to arrive. “If you two gentlemen will excuse me,” she said before shaking free from Tark’s grasp and leaping out the hole in the wall.
“She’s insane,” Gark said.
“She is my kind of girl,” Tark commented.
As she fell, Nat sheathed her blaster on her belt. As soon as she had done this, she rammed into the speeder at full force. The pilot of the craft was surprised to see her, and flinched. This momentary pause gave Nat all the time she needed. Shaking off the blow to her body from the hard landing, she leaped into the passenger area. The driver had drawn a blaster, but Nat kicked it from the man’s hand by twisting her legs around the man’s arm. She disarmed him and then brought her leg down upon his head. The pilot fell down onto the seat unconscious, and Nat shoved him aside to reach the controls. It was simple enough to figure out what she needed to do to pilot the thing, and the craft began to ascend. In a few seconds, the craft was hovering outside the hole in the wall she had jumped from.
“Get in!” she ordered.
Gark was the first one to jump into the craft, and then Tark leaped out of the window. The craft shuddered as it had to accompany his additional bulk, but the three were quickly on their way. It was good timing, because a minute later, several police officers appeared at the hole in the wall. They couldn’t see the speeder, because it had already merged into traffic on the hyperlane and was on its way out of the area.
Bang! went the shot. Kluun paused for a split second when he heard the shot, but felt nothing hit. The angry red blaster bolt shot past the stage and blew up one of the sparkler containers. It made a spectacular noise, but didn’t harm anyone.
Kluun paused for several more seconds. The police commander was communicating with dispatch on his comm. unit, and several officers veered off from the rally and charged into a nearby building. One of Kluun’s aides came up and tried to pull him away, but the Kel Dor wouldn’t move.
“Sir, it’s urgent!” the aide yelled.
“If you insist,” Kluun said with a sigh before departing the stage. A few beings in the crowd screamed, and an old woman fainted, but otherwise there was nothing wrong. No one knew what had just happened, but the firework display, including the one they believed to be misfired, had been top-notch.
When the coast was clear, Kluun returned to the podium. “Sorry about that, everyone,” he said. “The firework crew is sorry about that little incident, but we may now proceed. I stand before you today a candidate for a great office, and I am deeply honored to be nominated . . .” The rest of the speech went off without a hitch, and the rally was reported in the news that night as a complete success.
“Why did you come back?” Gark asked.
“Long story,” Nat said as she continued to pilot the speeder.
“I have time,” Gark said.
“I feel bad about setting you up. It was never my intention for it to go this far,” Nat said. “I was foolish and naïve, but you were right. I thought I couldn’t change my past, but I could change my future. So I did. I saved your skin.”
“It still doesn’t make up for all those people we murdered,” Gark commented.
“Sometimes murder is justified,” Tark said.
“Not like this,” Gark said with a sigh. “We had no business doing any of it.”
“Look . . . I’m sorry . . .” Nat said. “I almost got you killed. But I came back. Isn’t that enough for you?”
“Not quite enough,” Gark said. “I still haven’t gotten my family back from that frakker.”
“That I cannot help you with,” Tark commented. “I was brought into this fold to save your life, and I have accomplished that. So now we are even.”
“We’re not quite done yet,” Gark quipped. “Until Binn Kinshry lies dead in a pool of his own blood, we aren’t done. Not until things can go back to normal.”
“I don’t think it will ever be ‘normal’ again,” Nat said. “Nothing’s been ‘normal’ in years.”
“For me they can be,” Gark said. “Any plans on how to take out Kinshry?”
“We’re going to have to get creative,” Nat replied. “From the looks of it, he was going to assassinate that Senator with the rally. No idea why.”
“I’ll tell you later,” Gark said.
“I think we need to know,” Nat said. “It’s rather important.”
“On an unrelated note, how in the hell did you get Tark into all this?” Gark asked. He wasn’t aware that Nat knew anything about the Mando who owed him one prior to all this.
“I went back to the one place I knew I could find help,” Nat said. “The Cave.”
“You went back to the cave?” Gark asked. Nat nodded.
“You mentioned something about an emergency contact list to 4K, so I asked her about it. The list was pulled up, and you had made a note that Tark owed you a favor after saving his life. So I called in the favor on your behalf. You have no idea how difficult it was to convince him that I was really working on your side.”
“I didn’t want to be brought into an unrelated conflict without payment,” Tark commented.
“But what is important is that I got him into this, and now you’re here,” Nat said. “What’s the next move?”
“We need to get to the cave,” Gark said. “I think it’s time that we decide our next move against Kinshry. It’s too dangerous to call for help, and we’re running out of time. Who knows what he will be up to next now that his assassination attempt failed,” the Bothan finished.
“Agreed,” Nat said. She turned her attention to Tark. “We’re going to our lair now. However, if you are no longer a part of this project, you are free to go. However, if you come to the lair with us, and then you divulge its location to anyone, then I will hunt you down and kill you. I mean it. It’s a hidden lair for a reason.”
“You have no idea how attractive you are when you threaten me,” Tark said. Undoubtedly he was smiling behind that helmet.
“Stow it,” Nat said. “You coming with us or not?”
“Might as well,” Tark said. “I have no other assignments right now, and I can get more pay out of this than by sitting idle.”
“I’m sure if we take Kinshry down, we can get you some payment,” Nat replied. “He likely has enough plunder to make it worthwhile.”
“Offer accepted,” Tark said. “Onwards.”
“Onwards,” Nat said. It wasn’t too long before they ditched the speeder and walked the rest of the way to the Bothancave. When they had entered the lair, Gark picked up the comlink he had left there. Flipping it on, he checked the one message that had been left on it.
The voice of Binn Kinshry came on the line. “You may think you have won this war, S’rily, but you have just won a minor battle. We are far from being done. And, as long as I still have your family, we will play by my rules. Your next hit will come tomorrow, and if you do not do as I say, I can have you locked up in jail again. Or dead next to an assassin’s weapon. Your choice. But if you don’t do my bidding, your family dies.” He cut off the connection, and Gark scowled.
“Kinshry?” Nat asked.
“Yeah,” Gark replied. “We have another hit coming in tomorrow.”
“He really thinks we’re going to keep doing those?” Nat asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Apparently. We’re going to need a plan, and soon,” Gark said. “This needs to end.”
“I have an idea,” Tark said. The three then began to plan out their attack. It was time for them to strike at Kinshry directly.
When the plan was completed, or at least the rough outline of it, Gark returned home. It was quiet inside, but he didn’t care. He walked downstairs and into the small room that housed his old crimefighting stuff. In the case sat the Superbothan suit. Sighing as he did so, he grabbed the suit out and put it on. Finally he attached the mask, and Gark S’rily had once again become Superbothan.
Gark is safe!
ALL HAIL THE RETURN OF SUPERBOTHAN!!!!!!!
Lucky Number Post 13
TAGS to the Usual Suspects,
Gark lifted his feet off the ground, and quickly was caught in the breeze as he sailed over a small two-story building, carried along by the specially-designed ascension gun that allowed him to swing from buildings like this and move across the city quickly. He had never really liked this high-speed motion, but it was the closest thing he could do to fly. Daredevils would love to do something like this, and it was likely that someone in the galaxy was already doing this for sport. If only the Bothan was lucky enough to be having fun with this instead of being on edge.
He was headed to fill out the next hit, this time on a small-time personality. It was odd, since most of the other hits had been major corporate figures or politicians, but a job was a job. He was doing what he needed to, but he wasn’t planning on killing this one. He didn’t want to kill another soul except Binn Kinshry. The bald man was going to pay for everything he had done, all the blood he had spilled because of his twisted plans. This had to end soon, because who knew how his abducted victims were doing now. When Gark had been trapped in the cell with his family, Me’lin looked somewhat weak, and Galin had been pitiful as he didn’t have proper food or space to run around and be a happy child. He couldn’t let them waste away in captivity like this; he had to act.
He shot over the head of a child, who pointed up at his rapidly-vanishing form in the distance but couldn’t say anything. Gark’s identity as Superbothan was well known around the galaxy, but there was still an air of awe on the faces of the people if they saw the Masked Crusader fly by. There was a sense of safety involved, even when Gark wasn’t in the suit.
But he was starting to hate it. The Superbothan project had been questionable to begin with, and he had only joined on because he had no real choice. Also because he hated Mornd, but that was secondary. But what had it done for him? He had been beaten to a pulp multiple times, shot, thrown off the side of a building, frozen in carbonite, and threatened countless times with violence. Not a single good thing had come out of this experiment . . . well, except for Me’lin. Their relationship had come out of this silly superhero shtick. But now her life was in danger, and all because of the suit. How ironic it was that the thing that brought them together also drove them apart.
Gark finally landed firmly on his feet in a back alley. He looked down its dark expanse at a figure coming forward from the dim light of the street. Here he waited until the figure came closer, and then Gark pounced. He pinned the Duro to the wall, and then tried to keep the man quiet.
“Wha . . .?” the Duro asked.
“Keep quiet,” Gark said. “I’ve been hired to kill you . . .”
“Please don’t,” the Duro begged.
“But I’m not going to,” Gark replied. “This goes beyond what you know.”
“Binn Kinshry sends his regards,” Gark replied quietly. The Duro’s eyes shot up at this. He gripped Gark, his entire countenance now becoming that of complete terror.
“Don’t kill me, please,” he said. “Just let me go. I don’t want to pay him off . . .”
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you,” Gark reiterated. “But I can help you disappear.”
“How so?” the Duro asked.
Gark then punched the man in the face, and he fainted at impact. Now Gark was holding onto the Duro’s limp body. He punched in a number on his comm. unit. “Target acquired and ready for pickup.”
“On my way,” Nat said. In a minute, she had parked a speeder on the curb and then helped drag the Duro into the back seat. He was starting to mumble incoherently, so Gark and Nat made sure to get going quickly so that they wouldn’t be seen.
They took the Duro to a small room in an abandoned warehouse, where they tied him up and readied to interrogate him. When he came around, he was shocked to see that Superbothan was standing nearby.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“We want to know why Binn Kinshry wants you dead,” Gark said. “He ordered you killed tonight. I didn’t kill you, because I need information.”
“And then I can leave?” the Duro asked hopefully.
“No, we cannot let you go,” Gark said. “If you give us good information, we can keep you hidden from Kinshry. But if you try to escape, it’s on pain of death. If we don’t kill you, Kinshry will. It’s your choice, but if I were you, I would start talking.”
“OK, OK, I’ll talk,” the Duro replied.
“What do you know about Kinshry?” Gark asked.
“Not much. All I know is that he threatened me,” the Duro said.
“Join the club,” Nat said as she rolled her eyes.
“I’m a host on an air program. I made some ill-advised comments on there about the cartel busts that a Representative Milberry made earlier this year.”
“Mila Milberry of the Hyperlane Planning Commission,” Nat filled in.
The Duro nodded vigorously. “That’s the one. The thugs were on Kinshry’s payroll, apparently, and they got caught. My producer got me the content, and I said some things I probably shouldn’t have. Kinshry threatened me, and I’ve been paranoid ever since that he might come to kill me.”
“What do you know about Milberry’s actions?” Gark asked. He wasn’t about to say that he and Nat had combined to kill the Representative.
“She must have found out some things on Kinshry,” the Duro said. “That’s all I can get out of it. But I do know one thing . . .”
“And that would be . . .?” Nat prodded.
“Kinshry is using an old brewery building along the 5-8 DD Corridor,” the Duro said.
“A warehouse, I think. I don’t know what’s in it, but Milberry was able to pop a reference in there in her comments to the media.”
“No she didn’t,” Nat said. “I’ve read the dispatch. It says no such thing.”
“The edited version, yes, but not the copy I got. Besides, she never named it, but I used to live down in that part of town. I would know that brewery anywhere. You might need to look in there to see what he’s up to.”
“How do we know you’re not working for him, and leading us into a trap?” Nat asked.
“I don’t know what he’s up to. All I know is that he’s working there.”
“How can we trust you?” Nat asked.
“He threatened me, extorted money from me. I’m barely able to pay my bills as it is, and then he wants all this money from me to stay quiet. I can’t keep this up. He needs to be brought to justice,” the Duro said.
“Fine, we can help you disappear for a while,” Gark said.
“Thank you,” the Duro said.
“Can you point out where this brewery is?” Gark asked. “On a map? We might have to pay him a visit at some point.”
“I can do that,” the Duro said. “Just let me disappear for a while. That’s all I ask.”
“Won’t your job miss you?” Nat asked.
“No more than if I was dead, and the murderer on the loose,” the Duros said.
It didn’t take long for the Duro to show the location of the brewery on a map. Nat attended to helping the man disappear, and Gark was left to study the map. It was in an area of town that was known for being a little dangerous if you were stuck out there at night. That was likely why the brewery was out of business, too many break-ins. But what could Kinshry be hiding in there? When Gark had been his captive, the bald man had been boasting about trying to push his way into the position of crime lord. What did he want with a radio host?
Then a little voice in the back of Gark’s mind told him the answer he was seeking. The hits might be following a pattern. When Nat returned, Gark turned to face her. “Nat, I have a question,” he said.
“Shoot,” she replied.
“Do all of these hits have a connection to each other?” Gark finally asked.
“Milberry?” Nat asked. Gark nodded.
“Is it possible that Kinshry is going after all of the people who knew what Milberry said in that unedited version of her dispatch that the man was talking about?” Gark wondered aloud.
“It’s possible,” Nat replied. “It’s something I will need to look into.”
“And what’s in it for you?” Gark finally asked.
“What do you mean?” Nat said, confused.
“You’re offering to help me. Why?” Gark inquired. “What’s in it for you, to help me take down Kinshry?”
Nat paused for several seconds before speaking again. “Truth be told, I’m in a transitional phase of my life right now. I don’t want to keep escaping my past . . . because I can’t stand it anymore. All of the times I ran away, all of the times I fought to keep myself alive . . . no more. I need stability in my life, and I was hoping you could help get me there . . . to some sense of a normal life . . .”
“Your last attempt failed miserably,” Gark said with a frown.
“You’re right,” Nat said glumly. “But . . . it was all part of a larger pattern that I see developing. “I’m getting weary of the murdering. I gather intelligence, not kill off beings. I do it if I need to, but I’ve stopped seeing any real benefit in it, especially if the murders keep coming with no end in sight . . . and especially if I don’t get paid.”
“So what you’re trying to say is . . .?” Gark pressed.
Nat sighed. “I need a real job,” she finished. “Once I’ve helped you take down Kinshry, that is. He double-crossed me in regards to you, because I paid him off even though he said that I hadn’t. Someday, he’s going to come for me, and I want to make sure that he’s out of the way.”
“So let me get this straight. You want to hold an honest job, work eight to ten hours a day, and be required to be amicable and friendly to clients and your coworkers?” Gark finally asked. He couldn’t see the Hapan doing any of this. It wasn’t in her nature.
“I’m sick of being left battered in alleys and realizing that I’m a disgrace to the whole craft. Maybe I could be a bounty hunter, but it’s not my kind of thing.”
“But that’s what you seem best at,” Gark replied.
“Doesn’t do me any good if I’m dead,” Nat replied.
“What, so now you’re worried about dying?” Gark asked. “I’ve been afraid of my mortality for a long time. You have to aware that you aren’t invincible. It’s what keeps you alive in most of these perilous situations that we find ourselves in.”
“I’m sick of running away,” Nat finally said. “You mentioned a few weeks back when you hired me that I could change my future. That’s all I want. I want to change my future, because there is no benefit to doing this my entire life. Sure I can do it for the love of the chase, but it doesn’t pay the bills. I’m up to my neck in debts right now, because I almost never get paid the proper amount.”
“Why didn’t you ever bring that up before?” Gark asked.
“Because I didn’t want you to think that I was a total loser,” Nat said. “After the Superbothan project ended . . . I went adrift. I thought I could get by on my own, but things dried up. Projects that needed added muscle left me alone, and soon I was doing what I could to scrape by. I somehow paid off Kinshry, but it emptied what I had left in my pockets. I’m destitute, and in need of advice,” she said. It was obvious that mentioning this fact was hard on her. It was like the smokescreen of her toughness was starting to melt away bit by bit.
“Look, I can pay you for your hunting services after this is all over,” Gark commented.
“Won’t be enough to make it worth all this,” Nat replied.
“Are you trying to blackmail me?” Gark asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No, it’s . . . I’m just lost,” Nat admitted. “I’m willing to make a deal with you, though.”
“What kind of deal?” Gark asked, his brow furrowing. He had already made a deal with the Hapan, only to have her ditch him when he was in trouble. There was very little to no interest in providing her any sort of reward for this, because in his opinion she owed him one.
“I need a job,” Nat repeated. “A good one. I need some stability in my life, and a job that pays.”
“So you’re asking me . . .”
“If I help you take down Kinshry, can you repay me by getting me a job with your company or your team?” Nat finished. “I’m not asking a lot. There has to be something I’m qualified for. I’ll even do security . . .”
“And why should I take you up on this offer?” Gark questioned.
“What do you mean?”
“Why do I need your help?” Gark asked. “What makes you invaluable to me, since you’ve already stabbed me in the back once? I don’t want to be sucked into a lie again, because if you do that one more time, I’m going to kill you myself. And trust me; I beat you once in a fight. I can do it again.”
“You need all the help you can get,” Nat said. “And because you trusted me before. Trust me again. That’s all I ask.”
Gark thought this proposal through for a minute. Nat was certainly a wild card. She could stab him in the back again, that was certain. She had done it earlier, so why not now? There had been a deal with Kinshry, so she could easily have made another back-door agreement, perhaps even quite literally. But, on the other hand, he needed help. Kinshry wasn’t going to go quietly. He needed Tark . . . and he needed the Hapan. She knew where to begin on this case, and could help him kill the bald man. Despite his better judgment, he knew that Nat was indispensable. But he had one more question.
“If I agree to this deal, you’ll take any job I can get for you?” Gark asked.
“Yes. As long as I can pay my bills between that job and the pay I receive for this work, I’ll do it. Please, just give me a chance.”
Gark mulled it over again. He might be able to make something positive out of this after all. “All right,” he finally said. “But it might require you to dress formally, be respectful, and absolutely no fighting whatsoever.”
“Fine, I’ll do it,” Nat said, albeit reluctantly. “Doing what, exactly?”
“Well, I could always put you into administrative duties. An office assistant. I’m sure some of the work room bosses would love to have you getting their caf for them . . .”
“You’re evil,” Nat said.
“Or, if that doesn’t float your boat, I could always use a factory inspector,” Gark replied. “Someone who knows how to get in and get out without being seen. I generally trust the floor bosses to do their job, but if someone smells a rat, then you can get in there and find out what’s wrong before it becomes a problem.”
“Wouldn’t I get to wear a special uniform?” Nat asked.
“Maybe when you’re on the factory floor, but when you’re at the office, I will require you to dress formally. That means dress and high heels, from what I’ve seen from you. And it’s going to be an all-day thing, not just once every few weeks. I need you to report to the office almost every day.” He was mostly serious. The dress code could be modified, but he was trying to drive home the point. Specifics could be hammered out later at a less-perilous time.
“You drive a tough bargain,” Nat said.
“That’s my offer. Take it or leave it,” Gark said.
Nat spent several seconds thinking over her options. Finally she relented. “I need the job,” she said. “I’m in.”
“Good. Now that we understand each other, I think it’s time you start looking into Kinshry and this string of murders. I want to know if there are any connections, and who the next victim will be. As for me, I need to catch a shuttle.”
“To catch up with the team. I have to rejoin them for the game this week so that they don’t think I’ve fallen off the edge of the universe,” Gark said. “Meanwhile, you stay here and figure out what our next move needs to be. Contact me via an encrypted channel; no use in Kinshry listening in on our communications.”
“Fine. I’ll start looking into things,” Nat said. “I’m glad we made this bargain. You finish off Kinshry, I get a job. We both win.”
“We still need to bring baldy down to earth,” Gark said. “And from the look of things, that’s not going to be easy. We must tread lightly in order to not be stepped on.”
Gark finally does with the target what he should have done back when the whole mess started.
And nice to see Gark and Nat get things figured out. Now I'm waiting for Nat to call Gark with the information in the middle of the game.
Yeah, uh huh. Sure. A "factory" job. Nope. I foresee a certain Hapan transferring another Hapan to the Senators' wing of the organization and then dispatching the second Hapan to go take out a couple of Miners Tonya Harding/Jeff Gillooly style.
@jcgoble3 regarding B&E god-moding, if there ever were a problem, I'd chalk it up to some alternate universe thing. I don't see an impact anyways.
Why would I ever do something like that?
Gark sat in a chair in the hotel room that had been assigned to him on Ralltiir. He had caught up with the team when they had arrived here, and although many questions had been asked about his whereabouts the past week and a half, he had declined to comment further than citing “personal reasons”. It was a terrible excuse, but he had no choice. The last thing he wanted to do was let everyone know, because then it might be leaked to the media, and then the whole galaxy might find out. If Me’lin and Galin being abducted didn’t make the news, him hiring a hunter to kill innocents certainly would. This had to stay under wraps.
Dirxx had come up to him privately afterwards and asked him how the search was going. He was the only one who knew anything about it, and yet he only knew that Gark’s family was gone, not the specifics. Gark said that he was still working, and that he had hired on a few people to get him closer to the end goal. That hadn’t been enough to placate the Besalisk, but Gark couldn’t say more.
Why he had come here, he had no idea. His return to the Senator defense made no difference. Actually, they had done worse with him at the helm than Dirxx had done last week, and that was saying something. The Starkillers had put up 37 points, and had utterly silenced the Senator offense. This season was going from bad to the worst possible year any team could have. It was already time to start looking to the Draft.
Then the comlink call he had been waiting for came in, and Gark eagerly picked it up. Nat had finished her preliminary searching, and had come up with something interesting.
“Come to a conclusion?” Gark asked.
“Yeah. Milberry was a hot target because she blew the cover off of Kinshry’s biggest secret. This brewery must be our next stop, because everyone who we’ve killed off so far has some sort of connection to that area. I have a map of the location here, so bear with me since you don’t have one in front of you. Anyways, Milberry mentioned the location in a dispatch that was edited. Radio host mentions the dispatch, and is threatened. Not instantly murdered, but I have a feeling that Kinshry wanted us to kill him that night. That politician we almost got? He was in line with Milberry on the Hyperlane Commission about trying to prevent that lane from coming in. The others all have a connection to the area. One used to live out that way, another once worked at the brewery . . . they must all have known what he was up to.”
“So Kinshry may be a local man gone bad?” Gark finished.
“I’m afraid so,” the Hapan replied. “He seems to have a connection to that neighborhood.”
“How do you know?” Gark asked.
“I did my research these past few weeks,” Nat replied. “But I didn’t see the connection until tonight, when everything came together.”
“What do you know about Kinshry?”
“I don’t know much about him, but he’s from that area,” Nat said.
“Do you know who the next victim is?”
“It’s not clear who might be targeted next, because I don’t know what his motives are. The murders are following a random pattern here; there are plenty of other medium-profile targets to go after from the area, and yet a hit hasn’t been brought in since that last one.”
“Kinshry may be on to us if we help this next hit disappear, when and if it ever comes in. He may not be planning to kill anyone else off . . . or Lin is the next one to die,” Gark said.
“We’re going to get through this, OK? Don’t worry about it . . . you’ll get her back soon. But you need to trust me.”
“I still can’t fully trust you after you betrayed me,” Gark said.
“What other choice do you have?” Nat asked. Gark knew she had the trump card.
“So where do we start?” Gark inquired.
“The brewery,” Nat replied. “It seems to be the crux of this whole equation.”
“You know I won’t be back in town until next week,” Gark said. “And only for that one week. We alternate home and away this season.”
“That’s going to complicate things,” Nat commented. “It’s why we need to strike as soon as possible.”
“I’m not going to charge in head-first unless we have a plan in place,” Gark said. “Going in blind is something that gets you killed.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll have a plan,” Nat said. “I’ll take care of everything, so just coach your game this week and get back here.”
“You don’t get to give me orders,” Gark said.
“Damn, I thought I could,” Nat said before cutting the connection. Gark thought this situation through; the brewery was going to be an interesting challenge given what little was known about it. But it was important because it was in the middle of this mess. And he had a feeling that time was running out.
Me’lin S’rily sat with her back to the wall in the cell. She had long since lost track of time in this cage, the days and nights of Coruscant going by without her knowledge. All she could tell was that her body wanted to eat and sleep at certain times, but there wasn’t a schedule to follow. Instead, she had to make up her own sense of time, had to tell herself that one day would be different. If there was something to use to count off the days, she would, just to stay sane. But the wall stood there silently, mocking her.
But how could it be different? Gark was gone, likely dead. She and her son were going to waste away down here, away from the eyes of those who could help them. And who would help them? Most beings didn’t care, didn’t want to care. What would happen if it was their family abducted? Would they care then? Would they take a look beyond their everyday lives and see the suffering going on beyond the confines of their home or workplace? Could they have compassion for those who suffered?
The sound of the heavy door into the room opening shook her out of her stupor. Two of Kinshry’s thugs entered the room, one with a large-carbine blaster, the other holding something in his hands. Me’lin had to take another look to see what it was, but when it finally came into view, she wanted to run. It was the binders. All of a sudden the terror those cuffs had on her came rushing back, sweat now starting to form on her face. Anything but the binders.
“It’s time, girlie,” said the trooper with the evil grin who was missing several teeth. “You didn’t think you could stay away for this long. Time to dance.” The door to the cell was opened with a key, and the thugs stepped inside. One of them grabbed Me’lin off the ground and tore her away from the wall where she had tried to root herself like a plant. Galin, who had been awoken by this noise, was now completely terrified.
“Mommy, don’t go!” he yelled as he reached out his arms.
“Shut up!” the armed thug said as he kicked the young Bothan. Galin landed hard into the wall with the force of the kick, and he began to cry. It was a pathetic sound, given that he was weakening over the many weeks of captivity, but to Me’lin, it was more than just a small droning of sorrow. It echoed her suffering. She could only see her son being beaten down by thugs, pushed into a corner with the kicking motion of a boot. She tried to spring free, but a slap across the face stunned her enough for the thugs to drag her out of the cell and to the other side of the room.
The thug with the cuffs attached them to two small rings bolted to the floor, and then forced Me’lin to sit on the ground with her hands bound behind her. As she was being forced onto the floor, Me’lin could smell the strong scent of narcotics on the man’s breath. He had been indulging in drugs and alcohol, as usual. His clothing stank, and his breath reeked of danger. She tried to keep her nose away from the stench, but he wouldn’t leave her be, that same toothy grin on his face as he worked.
The thug then stepped back and pulled out a grimy piece of food from his pocket. He shared it with the other thug as they looked at their captive, both with smug looks on their faces. When the food was gone, the toothy thug took a step forward.
“Time’s up,” he said. “Aren’t you going to beg me for mercy?”
“It’s my turn!” the other thug complained. “You got to last time!”
“Shut up!” Toothy yelled, slapping the other thug across the face so that he shut up. “I outrank you in this operation, so what I say goes.” He turned back to the Twi’lek. “And what I say will go.”
Galin had finally rolled over to look out the bars of the cell, his face still stinging from the kick and hit into the hard wall. He was just in time to see the toothy thug and his companion force themselves on his mother, and Galin silently wept as he watched. Even though he didn’t understand what was happening to her, he was afraid, and oh so lonely. All he wanted was to curl up next to her side in a warm, safe place, to be truthfully told that it was all going to be OK. He wanted to see no more bad men, no more silent rooms, no more cell bars. For the young Bothan, this was the worst fate he knew he could have, even if he didn’t fully comprehend the circumstances.
When both thugs had finished their deed, they dumped Me’lin back in the cell and walked off with the smug looks still on their faces. When the door slammed behind them, the room returned its normal sense of silence. Although one could hear a pin drop in the vast emptiness in the space, that silence still roared like an ocean current over the voiceless pain that Me’lin was suffering through as she lay twitching on the cold hard floor, having been taken advantage of in front of her son. If there was a fate worse than death, this purgatory was it.
Not cool. Good story writing to be sure, but boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.