Rick took another swig of his drink. He looked at the woman, admiring what he could see as subtly as possible. Laying down a few credits, he ordered her a drink of whatever she would have. As soon as it was brought, he tapped his glass against hers and drank again.
“So,” he said. “I don’t know anything about you and you don’t know anything about me.”
“How do you know that?” the Twi’lek asked.
“Well, I you were someone who knew me, you’d probably be slapping my face.”
The woman laughed. “If that’s the case, then I guess I don’t know you.”
“Not yet, anyway,” Rick felt his confidence grow. Now that he had got her a drink and started talking, he was feeling much more comfortable. Still, the beauty of her kept him on edge.
“I haven’t seen you around before,” she said.
“That’s because I just arrived – and I haven’t been to Corellia in many years.”
“What brings you here, then?”
“Whoa,” Rick put down his glass. “First off, I think you should ask for my name before you ask for my business.”
“Alright then,” she sighed. “If you want to keep things traditional – I’m Gabrielle. What’s your name?”
“Rick Orlan, pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Gabrielle smirked. “And what is it that you do, Mr. Orlan?”
Rick took a drink. “I’m the captain of a freighter.”
“Would this be a smuggling vessel?” she asked.
“Nope – not anymore.”
“Oh, you’ve gotten out of the criminal world.”
“And I don’t plan to be going back,” Rick stated. “Hmm…speaking of my ship, I should probably head back and see to it.”
“Don’t you have a crew that can do that for you?” Gabrielle asked.
“Yes…but I don’t like to leave my lucky ship in other people’s hands. It’s just a little quirk of mine.”
“I’ve always liked men with quirks,” she smiled. “Why don’t you show me your ship? You might find more luck on it than usual.” Her soft hand rested on Rick’s and her eyes pierced into his.
Rick smiled. “I suppose I could…though it is a bit of a mess.”
“I don’t mind a mess – it shows a certain personality.”
“In that case,” Rick finished his drink, “let me escort you to my ship.”
With the entire cantina watching, Rick waved to Alen and led Gabrielle out of the building and walked with her down the street. It had grown dark and the streets were nearly empty. The stars and the lights of the city were a sight Rick hadn’t seen in a long time…and he had missed them.
He went through the usual chatter – and it seemed she was more receptive and interactive than other ladies he had talked with. Whereas he had done most of the talking in those other cases – leading to just random and foolish babble – Gabrielle responded and posed questions of her own. A decent and sustained conversation with a woman was something Rick hadn’t experienced for years. He liked it.
They reached the port and entered the hangar. Rick pointed to his ship proudly, speaking as though he were showing the finest ship in the galaxy.
“There she is, The Lone Eagle. Quite a beauty, isn’t she?”
Gabrielle nodded. “That’s a class I haven’t seen much. An X-5 Defiant, if I’m correct.”
“You sing, dance, flirt…and you know starships?”
“I’m into a lot of things,” Gabrielle replied.
Rick was impressed. “Yep, there weren’t too many of these made. Not cost effective to mass-produce, I suppose. I’ve made a great deal of modifications to her. I know she’s in need of a few repairs, but she’s plenty fast, fancy, and comfy.”
“We might find more comfort inside,” Gabrielle suggested.
Rick sighed. “Well…I’ve got a hurt man inside…not exactly private…”
Gabrielle moved closer to him. “I don’t mind company. We can find a room and lock the door anyway.”
Her warm breath was stimulating, and Rick felt his kneecaps wobble for a moment. He sighed. “Alright, let me open her up.”
Rick walked over and punched in his security code. The ramp lowered and he escorted his guest up.
Inside, things were not as he had left them. The place was a bigger mess than when he and Targon had left. Things were tossed aside carelessly, and things that weren’t even supposed to be out of place were far from where they should have been.
“What is this?” Rick gasped. He turned to her. “I am so sorry about this…Greyhawk! What did you do to my interior? It looks like you had a fight…”
There had been a fight. Across the main hold, lying next to the overturned card table was a man on the ground. Greyhawk. He was tied up, a cloth tied around his head and stuffed in his mouth, and he looked like he had suffered another beating.
The old soldier struggled to look up, and when he saw Rick, he gave out a muffled yell and tried to speak. However, the cloth made his noise indiscernible.
Two men emerged from opposite corridors. One was a Gamorrean and the other was a burly man. Both were dressed like common thugs – but it appeared they each had suffered an even greater beating. Greyhawk had given them a run for their money.
Rick’s hands went to his pistols. He shouted, “Gabrielle, get out!” The strangers came forward.
He felt a hard blow against the back of his head and everything went black. He dropped to the ground as Gabrielle stood over him.
Targon stood and looked around. It was early in the night – he had been meditating the entire day. The park was empty.
He felt something strange…a disturbance in the Force. It was something connected with Rick and Marc…they were in trouble. He didn’t stand around to ponder questions. Breaking straight into a run, he headed towards the docking bay. His feet glided silently across the soft grass and then onto the cool streets.
When he was nearing the entrance to the port, he slowed down as a group was coming out. Two large men carried a smaller man between them, his arms on their shoulders. It was dark, he couldn’t see any of their faces, and he wasn’t trying to.
“Excuse me,” Targon nodded, waiting for them to pass.
A Twi’lek in a black coat followed the men. She shook her head. “Our friend here is drunk,” she said. “We’re getting him to a hospital.”
Targon didn’t pay much attention. As soon as there was room enough, he squeezed through the doorway and rushed to the hangar. The ship’s ramp was lowered. Bounding in, he found the place trashed, and Greyhawk tied up and lying on the ground.
He hurried over to him and knelt down, lifting up his head and inspecting his injuries. Greyhawk was trying to say something.
Targon removed the gag and asked, “What happened? Are you hurt badly?”
Marc growled. “I’m fine! It’s Rick! They took him.”
“Those thugs, with that Twi’lek woman.”
Targon’s eyes widened. He had just passed them…and he hadn’t paid attention to that man they were carrying. That had surely been Rick.
“What happened?” Targon asked.
“No time!” Greyhawk barked. “They took Rick!”
“But you’re hurt…”
The old soldier shoved the young Jedi away from him. “I’ll be fine! It’s Rick who needs help. You can still catch them! Go!”
Nodding that he understood, Targon stood and rushed back out of the ship. He was back out on the street, and he frantically looked for any sign of them. They had gone, and there was no real way to tell which way they had gone.
Targon breathed deep and focused. He let the Force tell him the direction…west. He scampered off in that direction, letting the Force create a trail for him to follow. He bolted through the streets and winded through the city blocks.
Before too long, he found them – the two large men and the woman. They were getting into a speeder. A flop of a limp body suggested Rick had been thrown into the front passenger seat.
Targon shouted, “Hey! Stop!” Blaster bolts heading towards him was the immediate reply.
He dodged the shots by diving to the ground. Standing back up, he started running towards the speeder. The engines were firing up, and one of the men – a Gamorrean – was aiming a blaster at him. Targon had to jump back to avoid two more shots from the alien’s gun.
The speeder rose into the air and ascended up towards the tops of the buildings. Targon bended his knees and leaped up, calling upon the Force to assist him. He caught a hold of the side of the speeder and started to pull himself up.
He looked up and gasped. The Gamorrean had put aside the blaster and pulled out an axe. The pig lifted the weapon up and brought it down towards Targon’s hands.
Targon swung himself away, holding onto the engines of the speeder. The Gamorrean took a moment to realize where he had gone, but then started towards him.
He heard the woman shout, “Don’t hit the engines!”
The Gamorrean ignored her and swung the axe downward. Targon heaved himself up and kicked the pig back, knocking him into the second man.
Both men now were coming at him – the woman was piloting the vehicle. Targon dove away from the Gamorrean’s axe, but the man swatted him away. The confined space of the speeder made it difficult move around, and the three men were almost crawling over each other.
Suddenly, the speeder swerved hard. The driver was trying to knock them off balance. Targon smacked into the man, and the pig landed on top of him. Straining, Targon managed to push the Gamorrean off of him. The second thug shoved him off subsequently.
The Gamorrean grabbed Targon’s arms and held them behind his back. The Jedi struggled, but he couldn’t get himself free before the other man threw a punch to his gut. Though it definitely hurt, Targon noticed that the blow wasn’t as hard as it should have been. With only a moment, he noticed that the man had taken an earlier beating, and was showing the signs of fatigue.
As the man pulled his arm back to prepare a second punch, Targon swung up his legs, walked up the man’s chest, and flipped himself out of the Gamorrean’s grip.
He then shoved the green pig into the man, and both stumbled. They regained their balance and came at him together. Targon deflected the man’s fist with his arm and ducked as the Gamorrean’s axe swung toward him.
It was then that the pilot decided to pull another jerk, but this time Targon was ready for it. He dropped to the floor as the two men lost their footing. Unexpectedly, though, they ran into Targon’s body and tripped over him.
The Gamorrean squealed as it tumbled over the edge and down toward the street below. Grabbing the edge with one hand, the second man barely held on.
Targon stood and activated his lightsaber. Its bright green glow illuminated the entire vehicle. He held it up towards the pilot.
“Stop the vehicle,” he ordered. “Hand over my friend.”
He noticed that the man’s grip was weakening. Targon held out his hand and offered it to him. But instead of seizing it, the man drew a blaster with his other hand and pointed it at Targon. His eyes told the young Jedi that he wasn’t about to accept the help of the enemy. Targon could only sigh and prepare to block the shot.
The pilot swerved again, trying to shake the Jedi. Targon’s footing faltered, and his feet tripped over themselves. His saber cut through part of the speeder’s engine, and an alarm started ringing.
The jolt of the vehicle caused the man’s head to hit the side. His hand let go and he fell with a cry. His voice faded away as the vehicle kept zooming forward.
With smoke billowing out of the rear, the speeder descended in altitude. The driver struggled to keep control of the vehicle, but there really was no chance. Targon was about to stand up when the bottom of the speeder struck the ground and he was thrown out.
He slid and rolled along the street, coming to a stop about ten meters away from the vehicle. Taking a moment to wince in pain, he then attempted to stand up. His strength was sapped, so he could only get to his knees.
Flames covered the speeder, but the driver climbed out of the wreck – apparently fine. She dragged Rick’s unconscious body out of the vehicle.
Targon strained every muscle and once again tried to stand up to face his friend’s captor. However, a force came down on his shoulder and shoved him to the ground. It was a person’s hand.
“What are you doing here?” the Twi’lek asked.
Before Targon could reply, another voice answered. This was a voice completely unfamiliar – cold, harsh, and distant.
“I’ve been watching your little ride,” it said. “Looks like it was a good idea to keep an eye on you.”
Targon turned his head to see the speaker, but he couldn’t see anything. He lifted himself up to his knees again and looked around. Still, he could see no one else besides the Twi’lek and the unconscious Rick. The woman’s eyes were following someone, though, and he could hear heavy footsteps.
Then Rick’s body lifted into the air. His upper and lower body arched and dangled, as though he was slung over a person’s shoulder.
“Who else would have been able to carry him, since your muscle seems to have hit the road?” the voice asked mockingly.
“I could have handled him,” the woman hissed.
“Let’s just get going,” the voice said. Rick’s body moved through the air, rising and falling with each loud footstep. “We can debate this little change in plan when we’ve delivered the fool.”
The steps drew nearer to Targon. He could feel a strange presence, but his just couldn’t see anything. Just some strange movement in the air, like a faint shadow or wisp. The coldness of a dark soul was quite detectable, however, and Targon knew something was standing over him.
“As for you,” the voice snarled. “You should learn to stay out of affairs that don’t concern you. That way you might live to become a man.”
Something hard and big – that felt like a giant foot – struck Targon’s head and he fell to the ground. His sight became blurry, and he couldn’t move. He could only watch the fading shapes of the woman, Rick, and the mysterious other move off into the night.
Then everything went dark and he lost consciousness.