Friday, July 26, 2013

Finished Line

     Off in the distance she could hear the crowd go wild again. The announcer chimed off some pointless quip, and then there was the noise of a number of pods zooming by. That was the order of events. It had been for the last twenty minutes and it would go on for at least another half an hour. But at least the chairs in here were comfortable.

     She had been waiting in the tent of one Owen Morton for some time now. Based on what the announcer was saying it wasn't exactly Morton's best day on the track. She wasn't exactly prepped to make it any better, considering that in a few hours he would be getting thrown in a dumpster. 

     This was of course the worst part of the job. Waiting for a mark could result in a number of hours, if not days worth, worth of waiting. That was enough to make someone take to a more "exciting" lifestyle. Of course that didn't mean that bounty hunting was boring, it just meant that certain people would never take certain jobs. Instead they would take the marks that they could charge head first into, which left her with the slower paced ones. She didn't mind, though. Planning was half the fun.

     In the case of this job, the Hutt who had posted it wanted the body to show up somewhere else. Someone being dragged away from the pits to be killed, or to be killed in front of a crowd. So instead she would wait. He would be frustrated, and in an attempt save face would be told to cool down instead of talk to any reporter. He would come back to his tent, and she would be waiting. There would be an oversized trash bag when she left.

     That didn't mean that she was immune to boredom. During times like this, her mind like many people's would simply wander. Today's topic of choice was of course the previous night. No matter how many times she went over it in her mind it still made no sense. Perhaps it never would.

     In the distance she heard the small crunch of sand underfoot, slowly growing closer. Up until now there hadn't been anyone else here with her. Her eyes narrowed, waiting for the newcomer to pass. Her hand rested next to her blaster as she listened closely. The distant noise made it harder to do so. After two long minutes had passed, a jawa slowly waddled by the tent, a number of pieces of scrap metal in its hands. She sighed, relaxing and leaning back in the chair. Scavengers.

     Suddenly there was something cold against her throat, an arm wrapped around her to brace her against the chair. She jerked her head back, slamming into someone else's. Based on the sound it was likely that she'd just broken someone's nose. In one quick motion the assailant spun around her, turning her and tossing her to the ground.

     Daeria's vision grew blurry for a moment. When it cleared she found herself staring up at the Rattataki from the previous day. The pale woman sneered down at her, her previous business woman's tone replaced with something much more sadistic, "Still looking for the press tent?" Daeria's throat was pulled up and her hood pulled back from behind. What the pale woman saw seemed to amuse her. "Oh that's just the pwettiest pink hair I ever saw," she cooed, speaking like one might to a child.

     "You're going to regret this," Daeria said. It was a rather brave thing to say, considering she had a knife to her throat. She slowly began reaching for her blaster, only to find she wasn't being subtle enough in the motion.

     The pale woman smirked, picking up Daeria's sidearm and looking it over, the knife never once leaving her throat. "Oh this is a very nice blaster," the rattataki mused, "I might just keep this." Tossing it away her focus shifted back to the Chiss, "Now then. How should we go about this?"

     Despite the fact that Daeria enjoyed what she did, it was people like the woman on top of her that made her cringe. She enjoyed the tactical part of the job. The feeling of triumph over another person. One could argue that she did indeed enjoy killing. But it wasn't the actual killing. It was the time leading up to that point. The pale creature, though, she enjoyed the killing. The brutality of it. The feeling of power it gave her, perhaps. It made her sick.

     The attacker drew the knife back a short distance, giving her finger space to run along Daeria's neck. "You know, I've never killed a Chiss before," she said. Her head tilted to the side, "I wonder if you're blood is blue too...Or is it red like your eyes? Questions questions. I think we'll start with this pretty blue neck of yours. That's a good start. When that's slit we can get to gutting you." She blinked a few times, before growing a horrible grin, "Are your eyes still red after you die? Oh those will be nice little trophies."

     Daeria didn't so much as squirm. This could drag on for some time at the rate the woman was going. Thus far there wasn't a need to panic. Panicking would lead to a wrong move, and a wrong move would lead to her throat getting slit. Getting an idea, she offered a small smile, "I honestly don't know. It's been awhile since I've bled. And you forget things sometimes, you know?"

     "Oh yes, we all forget things, don't we? Color of blood. Sanity," the attacker said, nodding.

     "Forget that at home, did you?" Daeria asked.

     "Obviously. Do you see where I am? Do you know how long I've had to deal with this little cretin, waiting for the point where some dainty little hunter would come along so I can end him, and at least get some fun out of someone like you?" she asked. She didn't give Daeria time to reply, slamming her fist into the ground, not even feeling the pain, "Too long."

     "I think you forgot something else," Daeria said.

     "Oh is that so?"

     Daeria nodded, twisting her wrist upward, and smiling, "I have a flamethrower, and you have a knife." The pale woman frowned. Her hand moved to try to get her kill over with, but she wasn't quick enough. Flames rushed from a small pipe on the Chiss's glove, licking the side of her attacker. The pale woman reeled upward, screaming in pain. She quickly distanced herself from the Chiss, scooping up the blaster from the ground. "Oh you'll regret that one."

     Daeria's mind moved quickly. It picked up the pace even more when she saw her preparing to fire. She could rush her, but that would just make it easier to hit her at point-blank range. She could try to fire off a missile, but she wouldn't put it above this woman to simply charge her.  Something. She had to do something or she was going to get shot, multiple times if she had to guess.

     From somewhere close by a shot rang out. Daeria flinched, tensing to anticipate the blow. When it never came, she opened her eyes only to find the Rattataki stumbling to the side. Daeria's blaster was dropped to the ground along with the knife. Her hand found her shoulder which was slowly coloring itself red. The woman turned, almost like a drunk would. She only found another round being put into the right side of her chest.

     Daeria blinked, turning to follow the path of the shot, only to find Redamous standing there, holstering his weapon. The woman stumbled over, falling to the ground without so much as a cry. Daeria let out a long sigh of relief, "Nice shot."

     Red shook his head, "Not really." She squinted at him, asking the question without asking it, "I was aiming for her head."

     Daeria shook her head, smirking slightly, "Take the compliment."

     He nodded, "Figure I'll take it and scram, honestly." He motioned around, "I honestly don't feel like being caught around here when they start poking around a bunch of corpses. And I'm gonna guess that weren't the one you planned on killing."

     "Something like that," she said. He nodded one last time, turning to go. Once he was at a distance, she raised her voice so that he would hear, "Thanks." He put a thumb up in the air, but didn't turn. Her eyes drifted to the corpse. Soon enough she had it stuffed in a trash bag like she had planned to do with the corpse's "client."

     Resting back in the chair felt too relaxing. Her blood was pumping now, her mind still racing. It would be at least a few minutes until it would come to a calm. She almost forgot to replace her hood. By the time her thoughts cleared, the pits were slowly filling with people. Morton had lost, as she had expected him too. Now it was just a matter of waiting. And hopefully this time there wouldn't be any interruptions.

Hours Later

     "What the hell are they putting in these things these days?" a man asked, heaving a large black bag over his shoulder.

     "Why should I know? This guy probably just threw some party to make himself feel better," another responded.

     "I've seen him do it before. Guy needs the attention I guess."

     "Nice. I'm working with a psychiatrist now."

     "Oh har har. Screw him. Last thing I want to do is have to make two trips here."

     The first man pointed to another large bag, "Lets get the big ones and get this over with."

     Arriving at a large dumpster hidden away from prying eyes, the two flung the bags inside. One peaked into the large piece of metal, idly opening the bag, out of both boredom and curiosity. Blinking, he tapped his partner on the shoulder, "They threw away a pair of shoes."

     The second man turned, "No they didn't."

     "Yeah they did. Look."

     "That's not a shoe."

     "Yeah it is."

     "Let me rephrase that. That's not just a shoe," he said, his voice growing fearful.

     If the pits weren't completely empty, a few people might have heard the sound of two men screaming.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two Sides, One Story

(Not one of my better ones, but it needed written as to get to the next part)
Twi'lek-Race of people, many times associated with slavery, known for their "head tails."'lek

The Accountant

     This was again a moment where two different people in the same situation would have done radically different things compared to what was occurring. Certain people would have leapt for each other, whether for a passionate embrace, or for one to get at the other's throat. Others in the man's shoes would have bolted immediately, or would have never even came close to entering this conversation simply because of the nature of the man and woman's relationship. Yet here he was, and that very fact was throwing her for a loop.

     Her thoughts were organized blurs, everyone of them making the attempt to bring sense to what was pure nonsense. This shouldn't be happening, and now that it was she had no idea on how to handle it. There were a million names she wanted to call him, along with several other things that she couldn't even bring herself to say. When she could finally bring herself to speak, her voice held no emotion, just as it normally would, "Redamous."

     Much to her surprise he kept his hands where they were, tucked firmly in the belt loops of his pants. Daeria expected his hands to be closer to his blaster, but for the moment he seemed rather at ease with the situation. Whether he was being foolishly trusting or overly confident in his own ability wasn't a question one who knew him needed to ask. It was obviously the former. He took his turn to speak, doing much the same as she did, minus the lack of emotion, "Daeria." She found it hard to pinpoint just exactly how he said it. It wasn't in a hostile manner, nor was it in a joyful manner. The tone of his voice somehow managed to meet directly in the middle of the two. He might have been happy to see her, yet he wasn't about ready to fully accept that fact.

      "This is brave of you," she said, voice growing icy in the process, "Considering how you talk about me to everyone you meet." When she had first turned to see him, his face had been neutral in appearance, but now it twisted slightly into a frown. She wasn't ready to let him defend himself. Not yet. "You know. How I'm psychotic and what not. How the only reason I exist is to kill you."

     He raised a hand, silently asking her to stop. When she finally did, he replied in an even tone, trying to remain neutral with the entire matter, "I don't tell people that. Folks tend to fill in that blank themselves. 'Sides, what exactly do you tell folks? You tell 'em we're all close an' stuff?"

     Truthfully, she often told people how she planned to kill him.

     Silence managed to find its way back into the conversation. She though for a moment at his question, before deciding it best to just ignore it entirely. Turning, she began walking off. She could hear him close behind, which is what she had expected despite that expectation seeming nonsensical. What could she say? It was going to be an odd night. 

     "You ain't just gonna run off like that," he said, trying to sound amused as to hide the fact that he might be getting tired. He was more out of shape than she remembered. 

     "And you wouldn't know anything about running off, now would you," she said, stating the question more than asking it. 

     Red avoided the question just like she expected him to, "Where're we goin' exactly?"

     "Bar," was her cold reply. 

     "Alright. Sounds good. I'll buy you a drink," he said, sounding rather comfortable with the idea. 

     "I don't drink," she said, her voice back to it's full time monotone.

     "Can't imagine why..."

     The conversation ceased for some time as the two slowly worked they're way back towards town, the man following the woman. She stared forward, not once looking over her shoulder to check to see if she was still being followed.

     Off in the distance the planet's two suns slowly sank along the horizon, the temperature dropping as the suns did so. By the time they reached the settlement she was staying in for the night, the sky was dark and the stars were out, calmly watching over the lands below. The buildings were fairly standard, a mixture of clay and metal. The streets were unpaved, and the only lights were hung on the side of buildings, casting little light on where people would be walking. That didn't make it too hard to navigate, though. Light poured out of the windows of some buildings, and those that were open to crowds had neon signs to advertise such.

     Daeria turned, entering one such business, Red following close behind. The interior wouldn't surprise anyone who had seen their fair share of cantinas. It had one large, open room with a long bar running down the middle of it. Scattered around the edges of the room were a number of smaller seating areas, with various denizens.

     From one corner of the room, a drunken man stood up, flailing an arm in their direction, screaming out over the music, "Hey man!"

     Daeria glanced over her shoulder, "You know them." It was a question, despite her stating it more than anything.

     Redamous shrugged, returning the wave with an easy smile, yelling back, "Evenin'!" Looking to Daeria he offered a small smirk, "Apparently I do." Daeria squinted at him, but all he could do was shrug.

     The Chiss found a place she was comfortable with, making her way over to a particular table. It was pushed up against the wall, allowing for only two chairs to its left and right. She sat in one, and he sat in the other. Resting back in the chair, she pulled her hood back. Redamous did a double take.

     As with all Chiss, Daeria had blue skin and red eyes. That much could easily be seen through her hood. When it came to their hair, a Chiss's could range from blue to black, or in some rare occasions gray or even white.  Daeria, though, had dyed hers a fluorescent pink. His staring obviously amused her, as shown by the grin on her face. Now that her hood was down she considered herself off the clock, she could let herself have a little fun. "What?" she asked, hoping the answer would be just as good as his expression.

     "Um. Nothin'," he said, looking away suddenly. His eyes fell on a Twi'lek, who Daeria guessed to either be a dancer or a waitress. Probably both. Red waved her over, offering her his usual polite smile, "Evenin' there miss."

     The Twi'lek gave him a wink, smiling in return. "Evening there sweetie, what can I get for you?" she asked, a hand going to her hip as she waited for some kind of reply. She was dressed in little, and seemed ready to show that fact off.

     Upon seeing Redamous about to speak, Daeria broke in, sneering at the newcomer, "My husband and I'll have two rounds of whiskey, please." She offered the Twi'lek her own wink.

     The waitress frowned, walking towards the bar. She returned soon enough, setting their drinks on the table, glaring at Daeria as she did so. From another corner of the room, someone whistled, screaming out over the music again, "Hey lady! We need some more drinks!"

     Daeria smirked, leaning back further in her chair and looking up at the other woman, giving her a wink of her own "I think they need you 'lady', best get to it."

     Watching the Twi'lek depart, Red frowned, "Did you really need to do that?"

     "You're a married man. Shouldn't be flirting," she said. At the look he gave her, she added, "I'll leave her a big tip or somethin'."

     He grunted, sipping his drink to keep his mouth shut. Tipping her head back, she downed the entirety of her glass, setting it upside down on the table. He stared at the glass, downing his own drink and doing the same. Daeria grinned at him, "Think you can hold your drink this time around mister Malcolm?"

     He offered a small smile, "I think I can hold my own." She seemed disappointed. Sighing and rolling his eyes he tacked on, "Misses Malcolm. You sure this is a road you wanna to go down?"

     "Maybe we'll wake up divorced this time," she smirked.

     He waved the waitress back over, nodding, "Good enough reason for me."

     Soon enough they had ordered a bottle and were downing shots. Taunts were passed back and forth, right alongside jokes. Within an hour they had a crowd around their table cheering and booing their contender of choice. An hour after that and they had retired to the room she was renting. She didn't feel like having to trek all the way back to the spaceport just to sleep, and presently she was hardly worried about how Harbinger was doing.

     Once the door was closed, he settled down onto the bed, taking time to admire the room. In a moment she had leapt on top of him. As minutes slowly dragged by the lead each other around the room. Soon enough her armor was gone, and his jacket had been tossed aside. Flopping down on the bed, she stared at him, the thought hitting her that she was happy that she still kept a shirt on under said armor. Daeria frowned suddenly, sobering up. The entire scene was too familiar, and the last thing she wanted was a repeat of the last time. He blinked at her sudden change in mood, before seeming to go through the same thought process himself.

     Sighing, they both slowly crawled under the covers. Sleep never really found them, as it rarely did to those whose minds really weren't ready to stop thinking for the time being. She spent the night staring at the window, he spent the night staring at the door. Time crawled by them both, but finally, sleep did come. When he woke up, she was gone.

     She had a job to do.

The Captain
     Redamous still wasn't sure why he had followed her. He wasn't sure why he had followed her, and now he wasn't sure why he hadn't turned tail and ran. Whether she would just shoot him or not was still up in the air, and her silence wasn't making him feel very good about his chances. The safety on his blaster was off, which gave him enough courage to do what he was doing.

     "Redamous," she said after a long pause in the conversation.

     "Daeria," he said in return. He tried to sound just as neutral as her, but he couldn't do that. As far as he could tell no one could do that. There were times he would have thought she was a droid, but he knew that wasn't true.

     "This is brave of you. Considering how you talk about me to everyone you meet. You know. How I'm psychotic and what not. How the only reason I exist is to kill you." And now the neutrality was out the window. He frowned, but he still couldn't say she was wrong. Not in the slightest.

     "I don't tell people that," he said, a hand going up asking her to stop for a moment. It wasn't a complete lie.  "Folks tend to fill in that blank by themselves. 'Sides, what exactly do you tell folks? You tell 'em we're close an' stuff?"

     Her silence told him enough. The two stared in silence again. Red was certain that it was going to be a running theme for the evening. Her attire had changed since he had last seen her. She had traded in the standard durasteel plate for something that resembled a coat, while still obviously being armor. The back of it hung down around the back of her knees like a duster might, but the area around her shoulders was covered in metal. The entire front of it appeared to be covered in cloth. Her hood was a new addition too.

     She turned suddenly, wandering off down the dusty road, breaking his train of thought. He gave a soft sigh, walking after her. "You ain't just gonna run off like that," he said. He tried to keep his breathing steady, but it was getting hard to hide the fact that he had been in the sun all day, walking for parts of it, and was more out of shape than he was willing to admit.

     "And you wouldn't know anything about running off, now would you," she said. It might have been a question, but she presented it more like an oddly phrased fact. Boy did she know how to aim below the belt.

     "Where we goin' exactly?" He wasn't going to answer it. He knew she knew he wasn't going to.


     "Alright. Sounds good. I'll buy you a drink." The thought of that made him feel comfortable. He could do with a good drink right now. Though he wasn't sure he should be drunk right now.

     "I don't drink."

     "Can't imagine why."

     The town the entered only looked vaguely familiar to the Captain. He felt like he might have passed through here once or twice before, but it hadn't been for long. Depending how things went, this stay might not be very long either. The same could be said of the cantina they entered.

     From the back corner came a loud shout. Glancing in that direction he saw a flailing man. The thought crossed his mind on whether he was just drunk or needed actual medical attention, but his slurred "Hey man!" confirmed that it was the former. Hopefully.

     Daeria looked back at him without stopping, "You know them." Again it was something that was probably meant as a question, but she was intent on not asking it as such.

    Red shrugged, returning the wave and yelling back, "Evenin'!" Looking back to his wife, he smirked and shrugged, "Apparently I do." She squinted at him, but his answer remained the same. He might have known them. He was fairly certain he didn't, but he might.

     She found them a table and made herself comfortable. He did the same, resting back in the seat. He started to think about finding some time in his schedule but that thought didn't keep his focus for long. It didn't keep his focus for long because she immediately stole it when she pulled her hood back. The last time he had seen her, her hair had been blue. Now it was, in the cantina's lighting at least, a glowing pink.

     "What?" she asked, trying to play dumb.

     "Um. Nothin'," he said, looking away as to try to end the topic now. Spotting who he guessed to be a waitress, he waved her over. He smiled up at her, "Evenin' there miss."

     The woman, a Twi'lek wearing an outfit that was making it difficult for him to remember where her eyes were, winked at him, seeming to ignore Daeria, "Evening there sweetie, what can I get you?"

     He opened his mouth to speak, but his companion beat him to it, much to his dismay, "My husband and I'll have two rounds of whiskey."

     Soon after they had their drinks they heard the drunks in the corner screaming again. This time it wasn't a random greeting directed at Red, and was instead a summons for the Twi'lek. "Hey lady! We need some more drinks!"

     Daeria leaned back, smirking, "I think they need you 'lady', best get to it."

    "Did you really need to do that?"

     "You're a married man. Shouldn't be flirting." He frowned, shaking his head. She rolled her eyes, "I'll leave her a big tip or somethin'."

     It was starting to hit him as to why he kept his distance. It was sick the way such a thing amused her. Yet as he thought about it, there might have been a situation where he would have done the exact same thing.

     She downed her glass quickly, turning it over and setting it on the table. He did the same, albeit after he had taken some time to think about it. He wasn't entirely sure this was a road he wanted to go down tonight, especially with her. "Think you can hold your drink this time, mister Malcolm?" she asked.

     He smirked, knowing full well he could. To a point. "I think I can hold my own," he replied. This time it was her turn to give him a look, one of disappointment. In the back of his mind he kept telling himself to get up and leave before he dug himself a hole deep enough to die in, but nonetheless added "Misses Malcolm. You sure this is a road you wanna go down?"

     "Maybe we'll wake up divorced this time."

     He waved waitress back over, even though this was likely the last table she wanted to be serving. Aside from the people in the corner, maybe. He smirked at the thought, "Good enough reason for me."

     If there was one thing he had managed over the years, it was building up some for of tolerance. Eventually even that broke, though. Things began to blur. First there was one bottle near them. Then two. He couldn't tell if that was a third of if his vision was splitting. The crowd of people nearby was there, that he was certain of.

     Then there was a point of her leading him by the hand to the room she had rented upstairs. His jacket found its way to the floor. He found the latches on her armor. They both found the bed. But then things became clearer. She looked at him oddly, but not quite at him. It was more through him, a look known to anyone who's thought about something at an odd point and checked out of the current moment to do so. He didn't even have to ask what it was she was thinking about, as the thought hit him as well. This was too close to retreading old ground.

    He turned, crawling under the covers. He could feel her doing the same. His eyes wandered to the door, and hers to the window. There were points where he wanted to turn over and say something, but he wasn't entirely certain as to what it was he wanted to say. Instead he simply focused on the door. Finally he drifted off to sleep.

     He awoke to the sun peeking through the window, alone. Red sat up, looking around, smiling sadly as the irony of the situation hit him. Maybe irony wasn't the right word. He thought it was, but that really didn't matter. He scrambled around, getting dressed.

     Red had someone to catch up to.

Monday, July 22, 2013

From the Crowd

Related articles that may assist in reading, collected together in a glossary of sorts:
Tatooine-Desert planet.
Podracing-Form of racing seen in Episode 1.
Hutt-Large creatures that are usually involved in crime.
Rattataki-Bald, pale race of near-humans(being an offshoot of the human race) that are known for their violent society.

     The roar of the crowd rose as the racers zoomed by. The stands physically shook with every passing pod, not by the vibrations they gave off, but because the people watching were absolutely livid. Most didn't even bother to shield their eyes from the cloud of dirt that was shot towards them. Once the racers had moved on from the crowd's sights and into the desert wasteland that is Tatooine, the crowd's eyes shifted up to the giant screens above.

      The leader of the pack had gained even more ground on this lap. The numerous gamblers in the stands were a mixed bag. Some were grinning, and patting their friends shoulders. They had been certain that no five time champion was going to lose to some noisy upstart. Others were furious, grumbling to themselves about the various amounts they had placed on said upstart. 

     The upstart, a human by the name of Don Caldwell, had taken first for the past three races, but those might as well have been practice runs compared to now. Pre-season races may pay out their fair share, but it was the season races where the real money was. Thus far it wasn't looking well for Caldwell, who was barely managing to keep pace with veteran Owen Morton, yet another human. 

     Yet, even with the last lap ever approaching, it was clear that Caldwell hadn't given up the fight. His pod's engines groaned as he put what they had left into pushing forward. On the screens it was becoming obvious how much ground he was gaining in the process. The gamblers in the crowd exchanged emotion, those previously happy gaining a sense of dread, their companions doing quite the opposite.

     Zooming by to start the last lap, the two were seconds from being on equal terms. While Morton's face was obscured to the crowd, his motions were enough to show how horribly agitated he was getting. Brushing his pod up against his opponent's was much like watching an animal warn a potential predator. The message he was trying to send was clear and simple. Back off.

     But he wasn't backing off, not even a little. Some may call that bravery. Others would call it a moment of foolishness. Certain members of the crowd didn't care. Everyone who watched could see quite easily what was bound to happen. On the final stretch power began to shift to the upstart. First it was probably by a few meters at most, before it was the entire length of a pod. By the time the greenhorn had finished, the veteran was a good minute behind him. The crowd was in an uproar. 

     One had to give Caldwell some credit. He wasn't arrogant about his victory, going so far as to shake his opponents hand and smile. The arrogance would come later. The same couldn't be said of his opponent. Morton shook his hand, and even offered a smile, but one couldn't help but notice how such polite gestures were made so hostile. 

     It took nearly half an hour for the stands to begin clearing out. The local sponsors had awards to give, the Hutt in charge of everything wanted to speak, for the sake of hearing his own voice most likely, and the winner had to have his fifteen minutes of fame. It was closer to eight minutes by her count. 

     Finally Daeria found herself standing up with everyone else, her red eyes watching the filter out in droves. She remained standing in silence, watching them go, until her eyes fell upon someone who had appeared to have done the same. 

     The man in question stood on his own, a easy smile resting on his lips. He was human, not quite tan yet not quite pale, his brown hair somewhere between short and medium length. She recognized him immediately, if nothing else by the jacket he wore. 

     His eyes met her's, and they watched each other for a time. Some in their situation would have bolted, whether towards each other or away from each other. They didn't because they saw no point. They weren't star-crossed lovers desperate to see each other, and yet the man didn't fear the woman enough to simply bolt. It was likely that they were both here on business and really, what was the point in interrupting for the sake of some silly chase? 

     He gave a small smile before he left, and she squinted in return, trying to decipher it. Her eyes allowed a small amount of emotion to show through, confusion. Daeria shook her head, coming back to reality. She had a job to do, and she was going to do it. 

     Really it was more along the lines of preparing for a job. There was a target that needed scouted. Working her way down to the pits it became clear just how easy that would be. They were almost abandoned, with only the pit crews and a few idle fans lingering around hoping they would be able to manage an autograph. Off to her right she could make out Caldwell's designated area. 

     One in her profession might have been there to scout the younger racer, but she wasn't. Word had been going around for some time that Morton wanted him gone, but what Morton hadn't accounted for was the repercussions of such an action. The Hutt in charge of the series wasn't one to support such methods for winning. Healthy competition brought in more money. Had there been no competition between the two he would have been fine with a mark being placed on the younger racer. But there wasn't, and so it wasn't okay. The Hutt had began to see Morton as a rather large liability. So he needed to disappear. 

     Morton's pit was rather easy to spot. It was a large, tented area, remaining unburdened by the blazing sun. A crowd had gathered in front of it, and she kept her distance to observe them. Among them was a mixture of fans, reporters, and even an angry gambler or two. Collectively they were starting to get on her nerves. She simply needed to see the inside of the tented area, but now she was going to have to wait. Minutes, then nearly an hour passed before finally there was no one else to be seen. 

     There wasn't anything to write home about. That was her first thought. Most of the area was taken up by the pod, tools, and a number of cans of fluid for both. There was a small sitting area, but no sign of anyone meant to sit there. Security was either very lax or nonexistent when the racer wasn't present. A plan was slowly forming in her mind, though it would center around one fact. 

     From behind her she heard someone, a woman, give a small cough. Daeria turned, slowly eyeing the woman over. She didn't belong here, that was for certain. She was dressed in business attire, her skirt going just below her knees. Rattataki. An odd profession for one Daeria thought. Many were prone to more...Hands-on work, nothing this sensible. Pale eyes peered at the Chiss from behind a small set of glasses before she spoke, her voice firm and even, "Is there a reason you're in my client's tent?" 

     Daeria gave the agent another once over. This wasn't the person she'd noted during her research, not even close. That had been a sleezy looking human with a bad streak of racism to his name. Daeria allowed a small hint of surprise and worry into her voice, "Am I in the wrong spot? I thought this was the press tent." 

     The pale woman pressed her lips together, smirking to detract from the venom in her gaze. Fighting off the urge to laugh, she pointed to the east, kindly adding "The press tent is that way. You don't look like press." The hunter nodded sharply, making to leave but the pale woman blocked her path. "You. Don't. Look. Like. Press." Her voice took on a more threatening tone this time. 

     Daeria narrowed her eyes but kept her tone neutral despite the growing sense of antagonism she was feeling, "Press bodyguard. Idiot ran off without me." she shrugged her shoulders as if to say "What can you do?"

     The agent gave the hunter a knowing pat on the shoulder. Stepping to the side, she waved her hand towards the exit, frowning once Daeria was well out of sight. 

     Some might have hated having to work around this new obstacle, but Daeria was thrilled by it. As she meandered down the road back towards the town that sat near the track and it's contents, she was having to hold back a grin, despite the fact that no one would have even seen it what with her wearing a hood. She lived for such challenges. Without them she would simply get bored. Some would probably find the fact that one of her few sources of joy was in finding harder or more challenging ways to kill people, but such was the nature of her work. 

     For a time her thoughts distracted her, almost too much. It took her far longer than it normally would for her to pick up on the noise behind her. The constant crunch of a second set of footsteps. Stopping in her tracks, she did not turn but instead spoke, "I can hear you."

     Behind her a man gave a small, slightly nervous chuckle, before responding, "Figured you would." The voice was odd. It obviously wasn't native, and had a drawl to it that was always hard to pin down when it came to origins. Most associated it with spacers, or smugglers. She associated it with him, and for some reason it made her blood run cold. She could hear him swallow nervously, before he spoke again, "Hey darlin'."

     Daeria Malcom turned, the movement precise. For once she didn't know what to expect. He might have his blasted drawn, who knows? Instead, though, he had his thumbs tucked into his belt, his easy smile from earlier now taking on a more nervous appearance. Silence filled the air, the desert wind seeming to have died as to allow the moment to have some sign of peace. She ran through a number of things to say, and a number of ways to say them all, yet she could really only bring herself to address him in her usual monotonic style, "Redamous."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Heart of Ice

Heart of Ice

      The wind gave another horrible roar as the sun crept closer and closer to the horizon. Its light was cast on their backs and reflected in the ice in front of them, forcing them to shield their eyes just to see where they were going. At times it seemed like the sound of snow crunching underfoot was the only sign that they were making any progress into the frozen wasteland at all, much to the pair's dismay. One of them looked to the other, doing their best to speak through their layers of scarves, "You're lost!"

      The second turned slightly, continuing to trek forward as he did so. He regarded his companion for a moment, eyes squinting behind his goggles, before he replied, "What?" His reply was carried off into the wind, which was slowly beginning to pick up, dark clouds beginning to appear in the sky, even darker now that the sun was making its exit.

      "I said you're lost again!" the first said, cupping his hands over where his mouth would be, were it visible. Once his companion offered him the same reply as before he simply waved dismissively at him. The fact that they were lost didn't surprise him, but that didn't mean he wasn't worried about it. He didn't exactly like the idea of spending the night out in a snow storm.

      They continued on in silence, the first's ears straining for any sign of a noise. The second continued ahead, certain that he could find the safe house he had been told to use in times of emergency when he was stationed here. Of course the last time he had been there it had been during the day, and there hadn't been a snowstorm going on.

      It was night by now, and the first could only hope that would give them more time before whoever would be sent after them could catch up. There was a small part of him that kept hoping they wouldn't send anyone at all. They were just a few lower level infantry, why in the world would they need to send operatives or agents after them? But they wouldn't need to. They just had to put a number on their heads and the work would do itself.

       Off in the distance he swore he heard some animal let out a roar, though he did his best to ignore it. He was far too concerned with the fact that they might freeze to death, or be murdered by some hunter looking for quick pay. Adding on the fact that they could be some beast's midnight snack was too much.

      Some ways ahead of him he heard a shout. The wind died enough for a moment to allow him to hear the tail of what was said, but it was enough to make him burst into a sprint. “Found it.”

      It was a small place, and couldn't have been more than a few rooms consisting of a small kitchen, a living area, and a bunk room, but it was enough. He went off to turn on some generator, and soon enough it was starting to feel warm.

      Within a few hours, they had eaten, and were ready to settle in. Considering the number of bunks available in the room, they had a number of options but none of them would really be comfortable. The wind outside continued to roar, but really that was soothing to the first man. It meant that the storm was still going on, and that they would be harder to find because of it. What they would do come tomorrow was still a mystery, but he felt more confident now that he wasn't worried about freezing. Besides, if someone even came for them, they had raided what small armory the safe house had. They were prepared for it. What they weren't prepared for was the horrible noise that filled the air an hour or so after they had finally drifted off to sleep.

       The sound of the generator dying.

      Her red eyes scanned the horizon, squinting in the dying light. The storm was going to destroy any sign of their tracks. She was fully aware of that. It was a matter of deciding which way they were going to get lost in that mattered now. They would have attempted to stick to the road for a time, and she thought it best to do the same.

      Her armor was covered in a small layer of cloth made to help keep the heat it produced in when she was in weather such as this, and it happily was doing its job. Only the exposed part of her face was cold, and she found it hard to care about that. The fact that her people had been forged on a planet similar to Hoth, one of cold temperatures and ice storms, likely contributed to that fact.

      The road was deserted for all save her. Everyone else who would even have considered using it would be waiting until the weather cleared up. It was the smarter thing to do. When you're being hunted though, the smart option isn't always the best option. The storm would be the perfect cover for her prey, and they were obviously well aware of the fact.

      As with all of her hunts the days prior to this one had been spent doing her research. Two men, close friends, who had decided to cross their commanding officer and flee their post for a midnight run to see their girls instead of stand guard. Instead of face the charges, they just kept running. One had been previously stationed here, and he was likely returning to a place he could hide.

      Guessing where they would have gone based on known outposts in the area would have been useless. They would be avoiding those, not going near them. So where would they run? Somewhere unused, but not civilian area. If they tried to hide with civilians they risked being turned in for a quick cash grab. It had required digging, but she had been able to find a number of smaller outposts, safe houses in case something had gone wrong or someone was stuck out in a storm. There was only one in this direction.

      Why they ran of course didn't matter to her. The reason for such events never really bothered did. The only thing the information would do for her is tell her what sort of reaction she might get from them. She could only guess as to why they did it, though that was actually part of where she got her fun. Perhaps they wanted to live a life on the run, as they might think it to based on vids they had seen, or books they had read. Their records before the incident weren't exactly spotless, so fear could have drove them to it. Punishment in the Imperial Army was rarely light, especially on multiple offenses. If they were scared, they were more likely to make mistakes.

      She held no fear of getting lost. Having plugged the coordinates of the safe house into her armor would make it simple to find them. It wasn't going to be nearly as much fun as she hoped it would have been. They wouldn't put up much of a fight. They wouldn't even know she was coming. Who would be crazy enough to trek through a raging snowstorm for a simple two marks? Even with her hood up the disappointment she felt never appeared on her face.

      As she reached a point in the slowly disappearing road, she turned to her right and set off straight again. She gave it fifteen minutes until she was there.

      Off to her left she heard a roar. Turning, she expected the beast to come charging directly at her. She underestimated it. The creature slammed into her from the right side, settling on top of her and letting out a loud roar in her face. She made no move for her blaster, opting to simply shove her fist in its gut and let the flamethrower attached there do the rest.

      Rearing back the beast, she could see that it was a wampa now, kept its distance. The two stared off for a moment, before she quickly drew her blaster attempting to fire a shot off at it. As if it were an actor waiting for its cue, the wampa charged again, taking the shot to the shoulder but giving no sign it even felt it. It held her down again, this time making sure to keep her arms pinned. She had to give the species credit. Wampa were smarter than most.

      Jerking her head to the right, she brought her nose up under the small switch to the light mounted on her shoulder. Blinking to life, she pulled her shoulder forward as far as she could to shine it right in the monster's eyes. Its hands moved to defend itself from the horrible weapon, and it fled to a distance again, watching, waiting. Rising, she turned the light off. Her patience was wearing thin.

      She brought up her right arm slowly, bending her left but keeping it at her side. She let off another shot, which the beast deftly avoided. In doing so, it missed the blinking dart that had landed on its stomach. As it began to beep it looked down, searching for the new noise. It wasn't quick enough. She covered her eyes and turned as the explosive detonated.

      The safe house wasn't much to look at. A small building, likely five rooms maximum. She was hoping that the Imperials would have been smarter about how they built such things. She circled the building, giving it a look over. One entrance. Few windows, likely none that opened. If someone gave it an open assault it wouldn't last for long, but she knew that that wasn't its purpose. The worst offense, though, was that someone had decided it a bright idea to build it around the generator being outside. A simple pull of the plug and it would be a matter of waiting for them to come out on their own. Of course she wasn't going to wait for that.

      Inside she could see what few lights had been left on flicker off as she turned the machine off. Rounding her way to the door, she pried it open. Whoever had decided it best to let it remain locked into place after the power had gone off was an idiot. Entering the small living room, she flicked her light back on, willing to take the risk of being a target because of it. She wasn't really expecting a fight.

      Silently creeping deeper into the room, her eyes fell on a small door. To the side it was marked “Bunks.” From where she stood she could easily hear the two scurrying about trying to ready themselves in the now darkened room. Pressing her back to the left of the door, she waited for it to open. Shutting the light off, there was a long moment of silence.

      Finally she heard the door being pulled open. Blaster prepped, she only had to wait a few moments before one of them stepped out. A moment later he was lying on the floor, a nice sized puddle forming around his head. She turned suddenly, entering the room, blaster still drawn. The second one had let out a panicked scream, and scampered towards the back of the room. This was getting fun.

      The light was flicked back on. Slowly making her way along the rows of bunks, she stopped suddenly. One of the bunks to her right had let out a small cry. In one quick motion she bent down, grabbing the man by his foot and pulling him out to where she could see him, not without heavy resistance on his part.

      He flipped over, looking up at her with nothing but sheer terror showing on his face. Bringing his hands together she had to work hard to not smile. He was going to beg.

      “I'm sure you hear this a lot, but,” he tried to grab for the words, but simply left the sentence hanging alone, as if it finished itself. She stared unblinking at him. There no sign of emotion on her face, no sign that she would show remorse. He obviously didn't like that. “Say something. Please. Just say something,” he begged. She assumed there was some horrible feeling of being alone that was setting in. That wasn't unusual.

      When she spoke, her voice as a cold, unfeeling monotone, “Something."

      “This is just some sort of joke to you, isn't it?” he said, the last inch of hope disappearing from his voice. “Just another payday.”

      She shook her head, leaving him with one final statement, “It's never about the money.” With that said, she let off another shot, before allowing the room to grow silent, even the noise of the storm outside dying.