As the sun sunk on Almaran, hues of orange and pink lighting the horizon, Kordath sat near the corner of the hotel rooftop. Datapad in his lap, he marked off each person leaving the bank, the pudgy manager leaving last and setting the security system. No night guards, but this was in the tourist part of town, so security officers seemed to be on every other corner anyways. Stars were already appearing on the opposing horizon, and the clear sky made the beaches very nearly ethereal in appearance.
Soaking up the atmosphere for a moment, Kordath sighed, knowing he still had work to do, and climbed to his feet. After securing the datapad within his jumpsuit, the Ryn took a few deep breathes, centering his mind, before sprinting the length of the roof and jumping towards the next building. Over the alley, he began to tuck his body and throw his weight forward, while allowing the Force to slow the descent. Rolling to his feet on the next rooftop, he smiled, pleased with the lack of noise he’d made, and the lack of injury.
A few more roof hops and a ladder later, he was on the streets, two blocks from his hotel, and heading south. The further away from the tourist trade and storefronts, the darker the town became. First boarded up windows and dark glowbulbs in the street lamps, then the occasional refuse barrel on fire, shadowy figures near them. Finally after an hour of walking, the Krath started seeing what he’d been hoping for, and heard what he’d been straining to notice for a while.
The scuff of footsteps behind him had been growing steadily for several minutes, as well as the occasional murmur. Kordath heard the patter of running feet off to his left, down an alleyway, and listened to them echo into the distance. Under his mask he sighed, this part was necessary, the Ryn knew, but it didn’t mean he’d enjoy it. Slowing his pace and shifting his body to loosen his muscles up, Kordath felt the Force seep into him, enhancing his senses. Just ahead at the corner, he could see movements in the shadows, a trio of young humans very nearly glowing to his assisted sight.
Kordath sighed again, clenching his hands a few times as the figures ahead hunched themselves further into the shadows. At least one looked to have a stick, possibly a broken off post or pipe, in hand, and the glint of metal shone from another. The Ryn stopped, still several feet from the corner, and could feel the confusion playing out before and behind him. If he tried, ever so slightly, he could pick up the trace thoughts.
‘…stopped for? Bleeding come on you…’
‘-money, better have somethin’ on ‘im, last one…’
‘…wonder what color this one bleeds, heh…heh….’
“I don’t suppose we can skip this part, hmm?” asked the Ryn, his voice distorted by the breather apparatus on his mask, ‘I’m looking for someone with…skills, of a sort, you lot probably can find them for me.”
A short laugh came from behind, “Friend, all your going to find here is a beating if you drop all the creds now, otherwise we’ll just take ‘em off ya when we’re done.”
“I thought as much, I do apologize for this, but I did ask nicely first,” spoke the Knight, spreading his feet out and bending his knees slightly.
The one with the pipe came first, yelling loudly and raising it over his head, intent to end things quickly with a blow to the head. Kordath shifted, letting the weapon pass by and bringing his knee up into the man’s stomach, before grasping him by the back of his neck and flipping him over. The pipe rolled away with a clatter, the man gasping for breath on the ground, before one of his friends came up from behind and tried to grab the Ryn.
Kordath felt the man’s intent well before the attacker knew what he was doing, the Krath ducked, whipping his elbow back to catch the man in the groin. Another hit the ground, the two in front were circling warily, and the Knight could sense behind him one other still. A few years ago on Nar Shaddaa, when the Ryn was first learning the steps of Jeswandi, this fight would have been exhilarating, a challenge, something to aspire towards.
With the Force flowing through him, every breath feeling charged and every one of his opponent’s moves seemingly slowed to a crawl, it was trivial. Nearly pointless, the Krath felt he could crush the life from these five fools who’d chosen to attack him in the darkness of the slums….
Kordath shook himself, he’d felt the allure of walking further down the paths of Darkness a few times, but his observations suggested that way lay madness and never ending cravings for power. Honestly it seemed like a lot of work, to the Ryn, who noted absently that the final would be mugger was on his knees in front of the Krath, begging incoherently as Kordath bent the man’s wrist backwards.
“Ah, yes, I’m looking for someone…,’ started the Ryn.
“Anybody! Tell you anything! Know where the droid resistance guys are! Anything! Just don’t break my fracking wrist man, please,” begged the man.
“Droid resistance? What? Why do you think…whatever, I need a slicer, a good slicer, this is a tourist trap of a bloody world, that means somebody here is good at sniffing data,” growled the Ryn, putting a bit more pressure on the man’s hand.
“AAAAAAH—I-I-I know a guy, yeah, up the road, name of Trancer, red apartment building, third floor up, oh gods let me go please let me go please please.”
Kordath released the hand, watching the man drop to the ground sobbing. Pulling a few credits from his pocket, he tossed them at the man, who looked confused.
“I tried to ask nicely. Thank you for your…cooperation in this matter, have a nice day,” said the Krath, turning and walking away.
Ten minutes later and three floors up, Kordath was grumbling to himself about not getting an apartment number from the hooligan. Reaching out with his mind, he felt the occupants of the floor, some felt nearly feral, possibly rodents living in the walls, but a bright spot stood out, full of caf and pent up energy. The Krath homed in on it, coming across a surprisingly clean looking door compared to most he passed, and a ‘no solicitors’ sign pasted on it.
Knocking, he heard a curse from within, and the sound of….cans getting knocked over? Several moments passed before he could hear several locks shifting on the door, and it opened a crack, revealing a single bloodshot eye.
“Who, what, what do you want?” asked someone on the other side.
Kordath held up several credits in one hand, making sure the singular eye could see them, ‘You Trancer? Need to hire your…’services’, hear you’re pretty good at what you do.”
The door opened a bit more, revealing a short, disheveled Bothan, licking his lips and glancing first at the credits, then the breather mask covering Kordath’s face, and back to the credits.
“Y…yeah, I’m Trancer, ummm, you should come inside before somebody see’s you flashing that kinda dross around,” he said hurriedly, voice squeaking a bit as he ushered the Ryn in through the door.
Trancer turned to peer at Kordath with his bloodshot eyes again, his nearly orange hair flowing nervously as he tried to peer through the obscuring mask, “What, uhh, what can I, uhh, what do you need?”
‘My gods this thing is even more ill suited for socialization then I am,’ thought the Ryn, feeling slightly superior for probably the first time in his life, “How do you feel about getting into a bank’s database, and copying the whole thing, hmm?”
“Oh, that’s not hard, takes a little while so I don’t get caught, but pretty easy, easier if it’s local of course,” replied the Bothan promptly, pride shining in his beady little eyes. Talking about what he was capable of seemed to give Trancer more confidence, and he was already moving to the most complicated looking desk Kordath had ever seen.
“So, any bank in particular, or you just want me to start pulling financial info off the holo net? That’s easy too, I mean you can pick up stock numbers from Coruscant before they reach the Outer Rim and make a killing on mineral stocks, course then you gotta have a whole set up for claiming the creds, cleaning the creds, all sorts of…I’m rambling, aren’t I?” said the Bothan, finishing lamely as his enthusiasm petered out.
Kordath patted the short Bothan on the shoulder, awkwardly unsure how to deal with this, “…no? A bit, it’s okay friend, but no, we don’t need to get that complicated today. Ryker savings, just in town, can you do that for me?”
“Ah, yeah, sure, well probably,” said the Bothan, licking his lips nervously once more, and reaching for a small can with colorful graphics on the outside, downing whatever was in it in one swift pull, “Know what kind of system they have?” he asked, followed by a belch that reeked of…of….Kordath couldn’t place the smell, even through the breather unit, but fish that had been left in the desert sun for a week came to mind.
‘Never even been to the desert,’ thought Kordath, briefly, “The system? Oh, yes, a…Fenmax?”
“Fenomax?” suggested Trancer.
“Ah, yes, a Fenomax 90,000, that’s it.”
“Oh sure, that’s easy! I can do that, only take a few hours.”
Kordath felt cold suddenly, eyes roving over the small apartment, the apparent mountains of cans and take out food containers. Something was moving in one corner, under a pile of old, condiment smeared wrappers. The small kitchen through the door beyond didn’t look very promising either, piles of bowls and caf stained mugs filling the sink.
“A few…hours?” asked the Ryn, weakly.
Trancer nodded, already typing away and staring, with unblinking intensity at the holo screen before him, ‘Want me to ghost the whole server? Then yeah, it’ll get all the financial data, all the incoming and outgoing from the last few days, maybe week, all that stuff, takes time, where do you want it put?”
Kordath pulled the datapad from his jumpsuit, and handed it over, giving the cluttered desk a once over.
“You can upload it all onto here, don’t worry, it’s got the space for it….what’s this do?” asked the Ryn, reaching towards a large red button on a slightly raised bit of desk, devoid of garbage or decoration compared to the rest of the desk.
“DON’T TOUCH THAT!” shouted the Bothan, gasping for air for a few seconds, nearly having had a panic attack it looked like, “that’s my kill switch, case security shows up.”
“Kill switch? What does it do?” asked the Krath, knowing fully well from his days running around on Nar Shaddaa that every paranoid slicer had one of these.
Trancer was shaking a little, though whether from adrenaline or whatever it was he’d been drinking, the Knight couldn’t tell, “It wipes my computer, completely destroys the data, might even set the thing on fire, just…don’t…touch…it…”
“Fine, sorry, right, well then get to work, I’ll just…wait…ummm,” Kordath looked around the cramped space again.
Gesturing vaguely towards the kitchen, eyes never straying from his screen, Trancer spoke, “There’s a fire escape through the kitchen, it’s clear out there, I don’t like going out there much.”
‘You don’t say?’ thought the Ryn, navigating through the garbage and towers of dirty laundry to the kitchen, and crawling through the window into the night air.
A few deep breathes and he felt more at ease, though the jumpsuit would have to be burned when he was done here. The entire apartment deserved a good cleansing, the Ryn felt, as he settled on the fire escape, adjusting his breathing to enter a meditative trance.
“Alright, jobs done friend, that’s gonna be hard currency, or you want to send it to one of my accounts?” said a voice through the window, breaking Kordath’s foray into mindless serenity.
Shaking himself, Kordath stood, looking at the approaching sunlight on the horizon, and grimaced, it’d be full daylight by the time he got back to the hotel. That meant going back in the way he got out, so as not to arouse suspicion. Going back through the window, he found Trancer, so full of energy and anxiety that he was very nearly hopping from foot to foot, the first time Kordath had ever seen someone actually do this. He was clutching the Ryn’s datapad, and his eyes were darting about anxiously.
“No, no problem, just don’t like staying in one spot after doing something that intrusive, ya know, locally, gonna have to start packing my stuff and find new digs. Security, ya know?”
“I see, give me the pad, please, and I’ll get the transfer set up, how much did this little task cost me?” asked the Ryn, trying to sound pleasant. He had a creeping feeling up his spine that he knew would lead to something…distasteful. Sometimes having honed his precognitive skills bit him in the tail, the Krath felt, already dreading the next ten minutes. It wasn’t that he knew what was about to happen, he didn’t, but the feeling wasn’t good, as he took the datapad out of the Bothan’s hands.
“I take it you have a holo uplink here that I can use?”
“Course, password is T5ANC35, and this was easily a two thousand credit job,” said the slicer, anxiety pouring off him in waves through the Force.
“I see, very good, let me just set it up….give me a moment, if you would? I’ll stay here in the kitchen, that way you know I won’t be running off on you, thank you.”
As Trancer left the filthy kitchen, Kordath got the pad onto the holo, using an innocent looking application to let the automated process run to get a signal back home. After about a minute of gibberish scrawling across the screen, a prompt came up, and Kordath felt his lip curl a bit in distaste as he inputted his password for the system.
‘B-L-E-U-I-T’, the Ryn glared at the screen, not appreciating Edraven’s sense of humor concerning his track record, it was just one job….
A small ding was heard as the system connected, and a text box appeared and a message above it. Connection Secured was scrawled across the top of the screen.
‘Tell me you’re not on the run, tell me you succeeded,’ read the short message.
Kordath growled as he typed.
‘negative on law, mission going well, have map, particulars, copy of bank’s server data’
It seemed as if far to long passed after this message before he received a reply, and the Ryn was getting nervous.
‘Confirm last, copy of bank’s server?’
‘How? Your profile doesn’t suggest such skills’
‘…operational security is in effect then, Bleu, no loose ends.’
Kordath stood in silence for a moment, realizing what the creeping feeling of dread had been, and looked around the kitchen with an unfocused stare.
‘Confirm, Bleu? No. Loose. Ends.’
‘…confirm. On my way home by mid day.’
Closing the connection, the Krath stuck the pad into his jumpsuit, and looked around the kitchen one more time, spotting something in the mass of dirty dishes.
Trancer glanced up as Kordath walked out of the kitchen, ‘Hey, man, that was a fun bit of work, soon as your cred transfer goes through though I’m gonna have to ask you to leave so I can pack. Like I said, ya know…”
The Bothan stopped abruptly, a look of surprise on his face, as Kordath’s left hand rested on his shoulder, the Ryn’s right hand driving the chef knife he’d found buried in the kitchen sink through the slicer’s back. Twisting it, remembering his species anatomy studies, the Ryn shoved the blade towards the Bothan’s heart.
“I know, security,” whispered Kordath into the slicer’s ear, moving his hand from shoulder to the Bothan’s mouth, ‘Shh, time to rest now, Trance, time to rest, shhh.”
When the body quit twitching, Kordath shoved a pile of dirty laundry on top of the desk, and hit the killswitch. As the computer began to smoke, and then the clothing began to smolder, he left. Running back towards the tourist part of town, the Ryn had to stop in an alleyway to find a dumpster to throw up behind. It’d been for the Clan, blast it, it’d been for the Clan so he’d done what he had to do.
By mid-day he was slumped in the crash seat of a shuttle, leaving Almaran, too tired and numb to worry too much about his space anxiety.
It was such a shame, he felt, the Bothan had been an okay guy.