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Before - Legends Nar Shaddaa: Noir #1 - Blush Response [Updated 9/29]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by metophlus, Sep 20, 2015.

  1. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    NAR SHADDAA: NOIR #1
    BLUSH RESPONSE
    Siblings Cazran and Cleonara Farr fought for years in the Mandalorian Wars. Mandalore the Ultimate sent his armies of Neo Crusaders across the Outer Rim, where they attacked and conquered worlds.​
    The brother and sister warred side by side against the forces of the Galactic Republic, piloting Basilisk fighters in space and smoky skies. On war-torn grounds they gunned down or blew up enemies with a sporty lust.​
    But Cazran lost his arm and an eye in the Battle of Dxun. And their formerly glorious campaign was losing to the Republic! The siblings fled the war.​
    Years later on Nar Shaddaa, Cazran Farr and his wife Abigail Wudruf are private detectives, decoding mysteries left behind by the scum of the galaxy. . .​

    - - - - - - - - -​
    Special Thanks to Admiral Volshe and Ewok Poet
    - - - - - - - - -​
    ONE

    A guard blew a blood bubble from his mouth as he grunted his last breath, lying on the carpet of the manor living room amid overturned chairs and dining table, wood splinters, and pieces of broken figurines. Light periodically crescendoed in rows across the walls, showing scorch marks. Three men held a meeting in an almost black corner. Clovis Gronwe, dressed in pajama pants and slippers, faced the other two. He had thick oily hair on his scalp, mutton-chops framing his face, and curly peach fuzz on his chest.

    A different guard leaned forward with his right arm hooked around the throat of the third man, Rasmus, who was on his knees. His left hand pressed a blaster pistol to the captured's temple.

    Rasmus had earned a few cuts, a broken nose, and busted lip during his fight with the dead guard. Right now he found himself clear of mind and pumped for action. Having a blaster to your head helped you feel alive. He held onto the buff arm at his throat and stared up at the crime lord.

    "He stole Irene from me." Clovis' voice wavered, same as his footing. Rasmus would prefer to be beaten than have to sit and watch this man break down to tears. "But he wants more? He wants me dead?"

    "You hired a detective to follow her."

    "He came up empty-handed." The crime lord tugged at his facial hair. "She visited her friends, her favorite cafe." He turned his back on them and started to pace the room, muttering about wanting to drink a hole into his gut.

    "Whatta load. He spotted your sweet wife with my employer."

    "Should I shoot him?" The guard tightened his hold on Rasmus' neck.

    The hitman chuckled while trying to pull the arm away from his throat. "He'll send more. May as well shoot your boss and be done with this mess."

    Clovis stopped and squinted out the window. "We could peel off his face, send it to that reptile. Scare him ****less." But he was only thinking aloud. The guard groaned and rotated his hips a few times.

    "Hurt to stand for long?"

    "You're gonna be hurting worse."

    "Right."

    Clovis looked at Rasmus. "I bet you're single. You're all a bunch of bachelors over there at his base, aren't you? Who'd dare work for him and keep a favorite frak buddy?" He stepped for the two men again.

    "Make up your friggin mind what you'll do to me." Rasmus let his arms sag. He could tell by the way his captor constantly shifted that he was in pain and losing patience. About time to act. "I'm tired of smelling this shaved wampa's BO."

    The guard head-butted the top of Rasmus' head.

    Rasmus grabbed the guard's arm and shoved off the floor with both feet, doing a front roll that sent the man over him and smashing into Clovis. Both of them fell back and landed by the dead body.

    The guard tried to climb to his feet, cursing. Clovis held his midsection and whimpered. Rasmus got up on all fours, feeling rather drunk from the hit on the head, and reached for a stray chair leg on the floor.

    The guard raised his blaster and aimed.

    The hitman threw the blunt instrument.

    PEW! SMACK!

    Rasmus had one good arm left. He ran for his temporarily stunned enemy, taking up a shard of glass. The guard was aiming for a second shot --- when Rasmus stabbed him in the throat.

    He had bent down and wrapped his fingers around the blaster when something hard came down on the back of his head. He fell on his injured shoulder. That was going to hurt later. Even now pain warped his vision. A blurry figure whose name he had forgotten brandished a club and yelled from a great distance away.

    Rasmus took shaky aim at the phantom and pulled the trigger.


    - - -


    Inside the captain quarters of a clunky light freighter orbiting Nar Shaddaa, a comm device atop a table beeped. A net-mesh cot swung lazily when its two occupants stirred. Cazran stretched, groaned, and sat up on an elbow. He brushed long, partly-dreadlocked blonde hair from his face. . . a face gruff 'n handsome, his sister had once told him, to the agreement of his wife. Abigail, the red-headed woman in her late twenties who lay on the captain's naked torso, bundled herself tighter in the comforter.

    "What?" Caz spoke into the comm device clutched in his cybernetic hand. In fact, his entire right arm was machine inside jointed armor plates. "Talk low, girl's trying to sleep."

    "Risto Lachlen here. How's you doing, old friend?"

    "I'd be doing well, if some sleazebag Toydarian had let me sleep. What's up?" Caz slid a hand under the comforter and ran his rough palm up and down his wife's side, appreciating her curves. Abigail kissed his chest, wrapped her smooth leg about both of his.

    "We gots a bit of a problem." There came a pause, filled by the thrum of Risto's hyperactive wings.

    "I assume by we you mean you, and whatever it is is important enough to contact me directly." Caz was long accustomed to these conversations in the mornings, used to people from his past dropping heavy news on him when he woke with a hang-over from a long night of frakking and drinking.

    "Our colleague 'n comrade Clovis is dead. Murdered. Some crap-shoveler killed our blood brotha."

    Caz stared at the ceiling for a few seconds, waiting for a sense of loss to sink in. To see if he could still feel for anyone in his former circle of bounty hunters. He felt... that hang-over. Clovis was dead, but so what? He entertained the Toydarian, though, maybe out of a sense of obligation or to see if further developments could trigger his sentimentality. "I'm sorry."

    "Please, Cazran, come to estate 'fore the Cartel contaminate the investigation. Cops in the Hutts' pockets will take their time, since the victim's human. We owe it to our old friend, 'eh?"

    Lachlen was an information broker, strongly associated with Gronwe's clan of thieves. The Toydarian had his finances and rep at risk til he solved this case. But if he found the killer, he'd be in for a promotion among criminals. Mess with Lachlen's business partners, you mess with him, supposedly.

    "This had better pay well."

    "Oh, it will! How's a hundred thousand credits sound?"

    Caz clicked off the comm, tossed it on the table, and continued staring at the ceiling. His wife's waking would his signal to rise as well.

    An hour later, Abi sat up and rubbed her eyes. "Where are the pills? Serious headache."

    The couple dragged arse out of the cot, downed pills, then did small talk while dressing, he in a tank-top and pants with many pouches, and her in a matching top albeit feminine and short shorts. Their boots were of the same combat design. She tied her hair into a ponytail. He tossed her her gloves with the fingers cut off, and her bandanna. She put those on and walked to him, pecking a sloppy kiss to his lips. "Ready, babe."

    He told her what he knew of Gronwe and the upcoming mission and they jetted their ship for the Smuggler's Moon.
     
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  2. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Not bad. Not bad.

    Some good descriptions of the scenes and people, giving me a couple pointers on how to describe a person's features.

    Things were a bit confusing at the crime scene; you gave the impression that Gronwe had gone for a wander around the room, and looked out the window at one point; therefore a surprise when Rasmus' move managed to hit him.

    I did like your detail of someone having to rotate their hips because they were standing too long, though it was not clear at first, who was being referred to.

    I liked the term, "frak buddy". :) Mind if I use it?

    Up in space, descriptions were a lot cleaner. Very good stuff with the two in bed:

    I got a bit confused when Caz changed gender twice in the same sentence. Is Caz male or female?

    Or is Caz talking into a comlink being held by Abigail?
     
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  3. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    [...] Clovis looked at me. "I bet you're single. You're all a bunch of bachelors over there at his base, aren't you? Who'd dare work for him and keep a favorite frak buddy?" He stepped for the two men again. [...]

    :)

    Fixed. This weird error was probably due to me using copy/paste when restructuring the sentence.

    Thanks for the feedback, Sith-I-5! And of course you may use "frak buddy".
     
  4. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    TWO

    Lachlen sent instructions. Abigail remained stationed in the control room of their freighter while Cazran and his T-7 astromech left and made down crowded, smoky, neon sidewalks -- he clasped the hilt of a knife on his belt, while the droid had its stunners and flamethrower showing -- to a garage beside a pawn shop. A skycar, in a line of trashed skycars, blinked its lights in the darkness to signal them over. A grunt chauffeured them through a private tunnel ending at a garage in Clovis Gronwe's estate. Caz took a lift to the sixty-fifth floor, the manor section of the skyscraper, and found the Toydarian hovering outside the lift door.

    "Risky plan," Caz said as they entered a warm, low-ceiling hallway of soft carpeted floors and faux-wood walls. "You chance becoming a suspect yourself by trying to beat the Cartel to his killer."

    The alien chuckled, snorting mucus up his stubby snout. "I'm where I am by gambling. In casinos, in life at large." They passed a widescreen holo-pic displaying natural landscapes and entered the dining hall.

    A slideshow partitioned this room from the next, each snapshot of the victim and his wife vacationing: they smiled at the cam on beaches, tree-house patios, while rock climbing or skiing. Tape blocked the gap into the crime scene. Caz neared the wall and saw blaster holes. One hole was in a tree trunk in one pic, then the center of the woman's head the next.

    "Try to hurry," Lachlen said from beside a tall chair at the dinner table. "I have to call real security soon. The longer I hold off doing so, the more suspicious it'll be, you know."

    "Who else did you send in there?"

    "A hover droid." That baggy, stubble-covered throat undulated when he moved. What an ugly frakker, Caz thought. "It swept the place, found DNA of three people. But there's three dead inside. Means the killer cleaned."

    That was a funny statement, Caz mused, when he stepped over the tape and saw the state of the room. Congealed blood smeared lacerations on the guards' corpses. All the furniture was in pieces and the window was cracked. Crap, urine, colagne, and air freshener made a stomach-turning stench. He lifted the tape for T-7 and stepped carefully toward Clovis. The dead man was on his back, closely-grouped burn holes scarring his chest.

    Cazran and Clovis had been a bounty hunter pair for years on Nar Shaddaa, Lachlen their sponsor. When Clovis had saved enough money, he quit that career to purchase an estate and hire his own bounty hunters. Caz worked as Clovis' right hand for a while, going after low-lives who owed his boss money, or smugglers who embezzled packages on drug shipments. The crime lord favored him too much, giving him the largest fraction of jobs, and Caz became a target for some of the same hunters he worked with.

    "T-7, begin DNA detection."

    "BLEEP-BWAK." The astromech fanned out a small laser field onto the floor, moving it up and down while slowly rolling toward a corpse.

    "Wasn't he married?" Caz raised his voice. The couple had sent him a wedding invitation months ago, but he had ignored it.

    "Her name's Irene," the alien answered from the dining room. "We've tried to contact her, but zilch. I even personally left a voice message telling her to contact me, that I have bad news about her husband."

    There was their prime suspect right there. Caz took a comm from his pants pocket and crouched down beside his dead friend. "Abi. You there?"

    "I'm here and ready to go poking in places I know we probably shouldn't."

    "Tell me what you can about Irene Gronwe's recent activities. Hack Net-Acc if need be."

    "Sure. I'll give you a call when I find something."

    "Wreep-roo." T-7, next to the guard with the throat wound, deactivated the field and turned its head to point its lens-eye at him. It issued a metallic arm and dabbed a tiny sponge on the man's forehead. Caz replaced the comm in his pocket and took out a second hand-held device that gave him a literal translation of the droid's language. The screen read, "Fourth specimen found. Beginning full analysis."

    They spent the next half an hour searching the rest of the manor. The man put on gloves and had the droid spray the air to wipe out his skin particles. The Cartel investigators best believe they were the first people in here since the murder, or the Toydarian might dock credits from his final pay. In a closet off the bedroom upstairs, he pushed back hangers to see Clovis' business or dinner suits, bathrobes and swimwear. On the other side was the lady's outfits. He snatched a few lingerie dresses for Abi and stuffed them in the droid's storage compartment. Irene and Abi looked to be about the same size. He felt around the walls and shelves of the closet, then exited to the bedroom and examined every article of furniture and object there. He found a bottle of perfume in a nightstand drawer, a quarter of the way empty. He put that in the droid's compartment as well.

    "Grezakk hrooo," or, "Are you a private detective or a kleptomaniac?"

    He made for the stairs leading down. "Those things could be significant later."

    They were crossing the tape again when T-7 informed him that the DNA belonged to a human male in his late thirties. Its match was unknown.

    "What did you find?" Lachlen rubbed his small hands together and grinned.

    Caz shook his head. "I need a list of both his and Irene's contacts, be they business and or personal."

    "I'll send it to your ship." The winged little man led them back down the hall and partook in a one-sided conversation about their pasts as hunters.

    - - -

    Soon after in the cockpit of their light freighter, Cazran stood beside Abigail who sat in the co-pilot's seat and they studied stats on a console screen. T-7 was at a different computer in the cramped space, surfing the HoloNet to broaden its search for a DNA match.

    "The latest record was two days ago." Abi pointed at security cam footage of Irene stepping onto a descending escalator in a busy mall. "She dropped off the map after that."

    "Good find," Caz said. "We'll call every contact you found on her network." He put a hard kiss to his wife's cheek, sat in the captain's chair and started dialing the first number on the list, Irene's psychiatrist.

    "Who is this?" A female asked. Abi glanced to Caz, who nodded.

    "Good day. This is Glamira Dazzle," the red-head answered. "I'm Irene Gronwe's beautician." Caz thought Abi looked a bit like a kinrath pup when she mischievously smiled.

    "OK. What about it?"

    "She gave us your name and number in case we couldn't reach her. Irene was scheduled for a facial appointment this morning, but she never arrived. "

    The other woman hummed and made noises with her tongue. "I shouldn't tell you this, but she skipped out on her last appointment with me, as well. Have you tried calling her home?"

    Abi gave an 'eek' expression. "Many times, but all I got was dead silence. Thank you, miss."

    The couple took turns role-playing while calling everyone on the list. They each once played a massage therapist, to Abi's amusement. Caz told the manager of Irene's favorite restaurant that the missing woman had terrible neck cramps and he was worried for her safety. "Who knows," he said. "Her head could've fallen right off." But it had been days or even weeks since any of them had last met Irene. Abi was right in that she seemed to have disappeared during her escalator ride two days ago.

    Caz rotated about in his chair. "See if you can't hack into the psychiatrist's files." He stood and went for the lounge.

    "What'll you be doing?" Abi got up and jumped onto his back, wrapping her limbs around him.

    He carried her to their so-called medicine cabinet next to the circular lounge table where they ate dinner or played cards. "Visiting one of Clovis' partners."

    "I hope it isn't a Hutt. It might sit on you and crush you."

    He popped the lid on a flask, threw his head back and gulped down strong liquor. He needed a buzz for this trip. Abi took the flask from him and sipped.

    "It's a Hutt."

    She gagged and spat the liquid out. "You could strip durasteel with this stuff."
     
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  5. Sith-I-5

    Sith-I-5 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Overall a good continuation.

    First paragraph is a bit choppy, but after that, everything is clean, described well, good CSI stuff, descriptions of the Toydarian.

    Well done. Tempted to give you a star, but that would be straying into primary school teacher mode.
     
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  6. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    One:

    Yay, a new story! Thanks for the dedication. :) I spotted the last name Farr and the bumbling Toydarian, though it took me a couple of reads *and* your hint in the comments on my story.

    Since you're going for noir here, I think you got the atmosphere pretty well. It starts with err, a dead guy. And I can remember a film I recently watched that had a similar intro, but it was definitely from a different genre and more modern. Hmmm, wish I could remember what it was; but your story is much, much more vivid than that film. The whole held-at-the-gunpoint-scene was perfect.

    He had thick oily hair on his scalp, mutton-chops framing his face, and curly peach fuzz on his chest. - Ewww! LOL. I can see why Irene was no longer into him. :p But knowing how stories like these go, that may as well cost her life at some point.

    Rasmus is...crazy. In so many ways. The way he tempts fate almost implies some odd breed of a daredevil. On the other hand, perhaps his overconfidence is there for a good, good reason. *shivers*

    Cazran is like a cross of Quinlan Vos and Cade Skywalker, with some cybernetics, judging from how you described him. And Cade is pretty awesome in my books, plus dudes with cybernetic always have a good story to tell. Waiting to see where Cleonara is in this and if they're still on the same side at all.

    Given how Abi was introduced, I have a full bag of theories about what type of a character she could be like, but I guess I'll wait.

    (Two coming up!)
     
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  7. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    THREE

    The towers of the Air District rose well into the upper atmosphere of the moon and were spaced far apart, hence the name. About anyone could land there, but you had to have some workable reputation among the wealthy to enter any of the marketplaces or its attractions. On the street Cazran walked, there were too many bars, casinos, strip clubs, brothels, or combinations thereof to count, all owned by the same tub of worm lard Nukk the Hutt.

    He smelled perfume and cologne on the well-dressed pedestrians he passed, somewhat covering the stench of sweat and poor crotch hygiene wafting from portals. Rapid deep drums and snatches of aggressive vocals pounded speakers inside most every establishment, the babbling of the exterior crowd its constant chorus. Flashing signs and lamps shining across plazas transformed the silly concept of night into an electric day.

    He needed to find the Hutt. He stopped in the flowing foot traffic and glanced at the signs. He spotted what he guessed was a girl wearing a bra with an advertisement on each cup and sheer glittering pants. She made eye contact and smiled, coming for him through the crowd while making her hips sway. "Stop right there, pirate man, I've an offer for you." A femm-boi, if the voice and bobbing throat apple were any indication.

    Cazran, being casually polite, stopped and gave her a 'make this good' look.

    "Fruity Ambrostine for my pirate?" She reached behind herself and pulled out a flier from her pants strap, handing it to him. There was a picture of a bubbling alcoholic cocktail on the front and fruit in the background.

    Cazran took one and pretended to be interested. "Where can I find this... tempting beverage?"

    "Allorann's Gyration Revolution. Nukk bought the property from the first owner, but left the name for brand recognition."

    "How much are they paying you to look pretty and hand these things out?" The man slid the flier under his belt at the front, as though proud to carry it in plain view.

    She covered her face as she laughed and rocked back on her heels. Caz conversed teasingly with her for the next couple minutes, gaining rapport, then asked the important question. "Know where I can find Nukk the Hutt?"

    Her eyebrows perked and her painted lips drew back in fright. "He's a dangerous one. Sure you wanna meet him?"

    Caz nodded once. Soon he ended the conversation by giving her a one-armed hug. He made for a strip club named Pink Lips.

    Inside, dancing bodies pushed him from all sides even on the ramp bordering the dance floor. The hands of male and females belonging to various species caressed him. He supposed his posture, outfit, and looks were sufficient to instantly seduce those high on exotic weed or heavily inebriated by alcohol. Strobe lights fleetingly showed him shapes on the second level overlooking the first and he saw the glint of bulbous eyes, rough wrinkled skin, a rotund larva-esque body. Two guards stood at either side of the Hutt. Caz traveled up steps to a giant of a man at the top who held a blaster rifle and spread his legs further part to block the way when he saw the stranger.

    "The hell are you and what do you want?" The guard demanded. A name tag attached to the front of the jumpsuit he wore read 'Manny'.

    "I'm a private investigator." Cazran had to raise his volume quite a lot to be heard over the absurdly loud music and when it came out it was tinged with annoyance and warning. "A Murglak murdered your boss's friend and I'm here to ask questions."

    Another man came up behind Manny, exchanged a few words with him, then jogged to the Hutt, leaning in and whispering to the drooling, wide-mouthed alien. A young, well-toned servant guy dressed only in a crotch hommack meanwhile slathered oil on the Hutt, whose tail squirmed in pleasure. Cazran and Manny stared each other down until the the messenger came back again.

    "Try again later." Manny hoisted his rifle. "Nukk's busy." The Hutt was plainly busy orgasming to the feel of tender hands on his rough hide.

    Caz set his hand on the knife hilt at his belt. "I spent a lot of time in that cesspool out there searching for Nukk. I'll speak to him now. Move or I'll move you."

    Manny thrust the butt of his rifle for Cazran's face but the detective dodged and moved his hand upward, both unsheathing his knife and slashing the man's forearm. Manny growled and tried again, managing to hit Caz's synthetic shoulder, the motion causing blood to flow from his forearm wound.

    Caz slashed the knife for the man's face. The other man blocked with the barrel of the rifle and swung the other end back for Caz's face. He dodged the brunt, but a jagged edge slid across his cheek. He knew it had cut.

    A blaster shot fired and whizzed past his head while he was holding his opponent's rifle at bay using the strength of both arms. Manny was doped up on stimulants of some kind, or himself augmented by cybernetic strength, because Cazran had to apply effort when he pushed forward and slammed the weapon horizontally into the Manny's face.

    The guard sagged and began to fall, unconscious, as a series of bolts flew at them from the darkness beside the Hutt. Cazran so happened to hoist Manny's bulk upward in the same nanosecond, expecting further blaster attacks, and used the body as a shield. He threw the corpse forward in the direction of the gunman, sheathed his dagger and unholstered his blaster pistol when he heard the resultant thump and whimper.

    He trespassed onto the second floor, pistol raised in his right hand and an alternating his aim to every sentient present. The remaining two guards rushed out of the shadows and pulled the triggers of their automatics, spraying the air with glowing bolts. Cazran guarded his face and chest with his metallic arm but kept his pistol in front him and pulled the trigger repeatedly.

    He returned fire even as shots bounced off the metallic casing of his arm, skidded the surface of his Arkanian energy shield, or singed the meat left to his being. The detective had injected stimulants of his own into his veins before coming here, never mind the buzz he still felt from a morning spent boozing. And the experience he carried through his years from the Mandalorian Wars. These upstarts needed taught a lesson in combat, he thought, even as he gunned down the final guard, sending him with a flurry of blaster fire backwards over railing to crash into the bar section on the first floor. Glass shards and liquor gushed. Some partiers screamed and ran, some clapped and cheered or laughed, but others kept dancing as if this was all part of life.

    The assistant who oiled Nukk now hid behind his master's body mass. The Hutt himself puffed from a bong and stared through the assailant.

    Cazran approached the Hutt. "Clovis Gronwe was found dead in his manor this morning. I need to interview you, one of his closest associates."

    Nukk groaned, blowing out a cloud of sweet-smelling smoke. He then spoke in his native language of Huttese. "You could have waited two hours and tried to interview me then. Now I have three dead men, damaged furniture."

    Cazran felt the pain of burns on his organic arm and chest. He would wait to pop some pain killers. "When was the last time you saw Clovis?"

    The Hutt closed his eyes and nibbled on the end of the bong, smoke rolling from his mouth and nostrils. "I last encountered Gronwe at the banquet I held a week ago." His lids opened slightly. "We spoke about the spice shipment he was supposed to monitor, but everything else was small-talk and feasting."

    "What else can you tell me about what went on at that banquet?"

    "Not much else," Nukk said. He gestured with a stubby arm for the stairs. "I've indulged you long enough. Be gone, for your own sake. I summoned more men, and these will be heavier armed and much meaner than before."

    The detective scoffed. "I'll leave when you give me answers. Don't you want to find out what happened to your associate?"

    "My business partners die every day. I'm constantly replacing them. That one small-time, drug-running, greasy human died is trite news." The Hutt slapped his belly. "Ah, here they come now."

    Cazran glanced over his shoulder to see three more guards running up the stairs. His hand settled on his pistol again. "Gronwe was an asset. It'll make you look bad among other lords if you let this crime fly."

    The guards reached the top and started to take aim at the intruder. He did, as well, pressing the point of the barrel to the slug's forehead.

    Nukk commanded the reinforcements to hold their fire. He let out a grovely, deep laugh. "Do you have a romantic partner, detective? A girlfriend or wife?"

    "Where did the banquet take place?" Caz pressed the point in harder. "Tell me where it took place and give me the names of everyone who attended." The man's other hand reached into his pocket, closing around a small spherical object.

    "I have another associate," Nukk continued, big eyes pointed half-lidded at Cazran. "Who can give your girl a taste of pleasures she only dreamed could exist."

    Caz turned the upper half of the object and pressed a tiny button. He would entertain the Hutt's suggestions to buy him a few more seconds. "I'll make sure to relay your offer. But I'm guessing that so-called friend is none other than you."

    Nukk laughed again. "She'll be given to me soon, after ---"

    Caz whirled about, taking the small ball from his pocket and flinging it at the slowly-closing guards. POOF! The smoke from the bomb enveloped them and spread across the floor. The enemies fired blindly. The detective ducked and ran to the railing, throwing himself over legs-first.
     
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  8. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    FOUR

    An hour later, Cazran sat at a restaurant stall eating Exoboar stew. Other customers constantly bumped into him as they ordered dishes of the cheap slop. Behind him people walked a sidewalk in tight chaotic lines, and behind them speeders whooshed across a six-lane sky street. Smells of spice, cooking meat, and volatile chopped vegetables lured in lower middle-classed rabble to replace those who left with their food. Fumes from speeders and narcotics waved in the atmosphere. This place could dull your senses if you stayed too long. Caz soaked a chunk of toasted bread in his stew and tossed it in his mouth. He chewed, swallowed, took out his comlink and called his ship.

    "Abi?" He held the device close to his mouth and whispered, knowing she would adjust the volume settings so his voice was loud in the cockpit.

    "Hey baby." She sounded awfully chill. "Comp registered minor burns. Tell me everything."

    "Are you drunk?" He lit a cigarette. "Without me?"

    "You can criticize my habits when they stand in the way of my job." He heard her light a cig and puff.

    "But the day you start chewing on spice, we're having ourselves a serious talk." Cazran updated her on his progress. He suggested they could go through the security recordings of Nukk's recent banquet. "We look and listen for clues. Irene has to have more connection than appeared on the network's contact list."

    "I'll find the place and study its security specs," Abi said. "You may as well come back. Join me in the fun."

    Caz left the stall and blended with the crowd on the sidewalk. "On my way. See you soon."

    "Wait." Abi giggled. "Remember how you wanted me to hack that psychiatrist's files?"

    "What'd you find?"

    "You're going to love this. It's saucy. Irene had an affair months back. She asked her psych for advice on how best to hide the evidence."

    "Tell me when I get back. Give me twenty minutes."

    "Fine."

    He turned corners and eventually started north along a sidewalk beside a normal, ferrocrete road and three kilometers later the crowd thinned until he was one of only five beings in sight. Flies buzzed around a half-eaten sandwich on the curb. A breeze blew scraps of paper, aluminum cans, and other litter. Clouds of dark smog raced in the sky, sprinkling toxic droplets.

    He entered an alley where his speeder bike was chained to a dumpster. He hesitated, left hand pausing a few inches above the left handle bar. The previously hardened grime at the edges of the control panel board had been broken. There was a clean streak in the dust coating the board. He looked directly down at the ground, saw impressions in the dirt and 'crete pebbles. Too bad for you, Caz thought. I spent years tracking on Dxun.

    He stepped back and leaned over, studying the footprint and subtler signs. Someone had braced themselves in taking off the panel cover, which they had set down to his right, then shifted their weight to get a better view of the speeder's innards. They had walked around to the other side --- Caz followed the vague prints --- squeezed into the gap between the vehicle and the building wall next to it, and stooped to mess with the power cell under the seat.

    Caz opened the control panel and accounted for the placement of wires and mechanical parts. He saw a flattish box with a beeping light stuck to the side. Wires trailed from the box and out of sight into the engine. He pulled a latch and lifted the seat up. Yep. The arse-clown had rigged the engine to explode upon ignition.

    Almost any amateur engineer could have defused the rudimentary explosive. After doing so, he tossed it in the dumpster, and reassembled or reconnected all the necessary gadgetry again to return the bike to normal.

    He got on, flew from the alley, and within two minutes returned to a populated area, blending with speeder traffic on an air highway. He headed for the hangar bay where his ship was docked. When he took an exit and accelerated, though, blaster bolts flew past him.

    He turned long enough to see a masked biker two hundred-meters behind, then directed his attention forward again and tilted his body to the side and back so that he detoured up a ramp to an industrial zone. I'll find better cover in a place like this, he reasoned. And ample more opportunities for escape, if need be, than on an open road.

    He zoomed into the durasteel-frame skeleton of a huge skyscraper. Construction droids hovered, flew, and climbed throughout the space. They smelted ore, welded metal platforms to beams, drilled screws, pounded rivets, and carried supplies.

    More blaster shots whizzed near him, hitting beams and even a droid who squeaked shrilly and, as Caz saw when he chanced a glance, pointed a torch at the attacker and sprayed a far-reaching stream of super-heated sparks. The other biker swerved and avoided the stream, going off course.

    Caz twisted the handles away from him, slowing somewhat, and pressed the altitude controls on which his feet were set, dropping his bike down a shaft. He plummeted thirty-some floors, stopped and jetted into a square tunnel that stretched for a kilometer. He exited out over a wide open area where, below, were small mountains of sand and mineral mixtures on the shores of a mucky lake-sized reservoir.

    The hum of a separate speeder's engines reached his ears. He slowed down and glanced back to the building frame, supposing this was a good spot for a stand-off. The enemy shot out of the maze at a higher elevation and began to descend upon him faster than gravity. Caz gave his bike a burst of speed and began a wide curve to the side. The enemy terminated their fall where he had been a few seconds before.

    Caz, his laser cannons pointing at their flank, yanked the trigger to fire --- only to find out that his guns were sabotaged. The other biker whirled about and pointed their cannons at him. Too late to dodge.

    Caz reared his bike back eighty degrees so that the bottom absorbed the shots. BRAKKA-BRAKKA-BRAKKA! The vehicle shuttered, spewing sparks, flame, and smoke near his feat. The detective pulled the end of a zipline from his belt with his left hand, wrapped repeatedly around the handlebars quick as possible, then let himself fall off the bike. He fell for a quarter of a kilometer, resistance in the zipline slowing him somewhat, while the attacker above zoomed and fired toward where he would be in a few seconds, then ---

    BOOM!

    Burning heat blew across him, shrapnel pelted him, and light blinded him. The man pressed a button that let loose the zipline from his belt and spun as he fell through empty air, thinking to himself that there were worse ways to die, that he had lived a full life.

    He landed on the slope of a sand mountain and tumbled limb over limb, head over feet, finally coming to a stop many meters later on his back. Vision slowly clearing, he saw a plume of smoke where his speeder had been. There were sounds of the giant mixing machines and skycar traffic in the distance. He sat up, feeling wounds and burns when he moved, and looked around for the person who so wanted him dead. They were gone. But why? He carefully took his shirt off and tossed it away. Small puffy burns and tiny bleeding cuts decorated his torso, arm, and face. His neck feeling cramped, he massaged the muscles there and rotated his head.

    A splash came from the shore of the lake reservoir, followed immediately by a huge intake of breath. Caz looked to the side to see, fifty meters away, a man walking from the waters carrying a blaster.
    The explosion must have sent the would-be assassin into the lake. How fortunes changed. Caz unholstered his blaster, remarkably having stayed latched when he had fallen, and sprang to his feet, flipping the stun switch up with his thumb.

    The other man wiped muck from his face and stepped onto land, boots making slurping sounds. He opened his eyes and blinked, saw the detective aiming a blaster at him, then with his left hand jerkily patted at his belt to presumably search for his own blaster that was now gone. Caz noticed the man's right arm hung limply.

    The stranger groaned. "Kill me, man. Shoot me in my frakking face."

    "Good night." Caz fired three shots into his enemy, who went rigid and dropped.

    Caz brought his comm up to his mouth. "There, Abi?"

    "What are you doing at a construction site?"

    "I need a pick-up. Lost another speeder."
     
  9. Admiral Volshe

    Admiral Volshe Chosen One star 10

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    One:
    It's a very interesting start! I really enjoyed reading it. You have intrigue and mystery swirling around everything, yet you also give quite a good amount of detail so the reader is not completely lost.
    Everything is really fluid and nothing jolted me from the story, which is good. The scenes flowed together very naturally!

    Two:
    Love how you incorporated all the crime scene stuff in here - the descriptions, the investigations, the methods used. Interesting that Caz is taking things though. :p I'm wondering at this point...how much snark does T-7 have? And does Caz have some secrets he doesn't want us to know?

    It was great having them go through the list of people as well. A good look into their style of investigation.

    Very potent descriptiveness in this chapter! :)

    Three:
    ^Love this sentence.


    The action here was incredible. I knew where everyone was, what everyone was doing. It was the perfect balance of action and negotiation, too. Especially for the genre. Bravo!

    It seems that most of the people Caz is going to encounter are going to be very slippery. That definitely won't make it easy for him to get what he needs.

    Four:
    Interesting...more enemies after him. And they aren't messing around. I wonder how many people are after him in total. :p

    Once again great action. The scene you painted of the city was also very good! You managed to capture most, if not all, the senses.

    Looking forward to the next chapter!
     
    metophlus likes this.
  10. Gahmah Raan

    Gahmah Raan Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2015
    One Review

    Technical: Some of the descriptions during the crime scene were a bit confusing, and it didn't become that Clovis was killed until the scene in space. The scene in Caz's bedroom was better described.
    Setting: Nar Shaddaa, which is appropriately for this story, one of the crappiest places to live in this galaxy.
    Characters: Clovis Gronwe, ruthless crime boss and poor sap who got killed in his nightgown. Rasmus, somehow has it out for Clovis, but I don't really know what his deal is yet; he seems like a vigilante, but he also seems much shadier than that. Cazran Farr, a Mandalorian bounty hunter only interested in the finer things in life. Abigail, Caz's wife, I believe (but considering the setting, she might just be a one-night bedwarmer). Risto Lachlen, an ambitious information broker looking to repair his situation and climb up in the wake of Clovis's death.
    Plot: Clovis gets murdered, and Cazran gets hired to do something about said murder.
    Misc.: I really like the atmosphere of this story. I don't understand the exact context yet, but it's a good hook.

    Two Review

    Technical: Don't see anything wrong here. Moving on.
    Setting: The crime scene and the mall Irene visited.
    Characters: Clovis, nice to see him developed post-humously; so he was a bounty hunter before becoming a crime boss. Caz is not only a very snarky detective, but he's also a kleptomaniac. T-7, well-armed astromech with a sense of humor hidden under his robotic behavior. Abigail's a bit more developed this chapter. Risto is also a deadbeat.
    Plot: The investigation begins, including looking into Irene's activity.
    Misc.: What kind of partner was this Hutt exactly? Abi's really going to need some brain bleach if the Hutt was that kind of partner to Clovis. Well done humor this chapter.