Alert sirens wailed like a mythical banshee. The ear-splitting sound shattered the calm of the High Peaks Mesa district of Fondor City. Between the clean, white buildings a column of black smoke snaked skyward away from the High Peaks Medical Clinic. Walls blasted, windows shattered beyond repair, the clinic looked every bit the victim of a small, but violent war.
Overhead, the sharp roar of speeder bike engines heralded the Fondorian Defense Force. Their rapid response team descended in force. Speeder bikes took point, scouting the area overhead, while armored transports settled outside the battered front door of the clinic and deposited Defense Force troopers in combat gear. A few seconds behind the transports, combat-ready ambulance hovertanks slid into position. EMTs in scout armor poured out the back, and followed the armored Defense Force troopers into the building.
Janis Arin surveyed the scene on the news feed while it played out like a holodrama. She sat with her boots propped up on the nearby table in the rec-room of her ship. On screen, the EMTs carried out the first of the survivors, and Janis snarled.
From the corridor to the rec-room, Teneb chucked; a rough sound punctuated by a staccato hiss. The Trandoshan bounty hunter entered the room. He glanced at the news feed. Satisfied, and partially bored, he returned to tapping on the datapadd.
“Please tell me you have found something worthy to do that doesn’t involve checking signal relays,” he asked in a gravel-laden tone.
“Yeah. Curse.” Janis snapped, then nodded at the news feed. “Behold, Helic’s handywork.”
The Trandoshan glanced up from the datapadd. “Hm. He get them? At least take a trophy? After all, one of those drifters was a Cathar. Might’ve had a nice pelt on him.”
Janis gave a derisive snort. “What d’you think?” She gestured to the screen.
On screen, a pair of Defense Force troopers escorted two EMTs with a medi-lift. On the lift lay Helic Ton, restrained and bandaged in bacta patches. Through a wide hole in the front of the clinic, the camera-bot captured a brief image of a large Cathar. The camera rotated and then captured the image of a human woman in a blaster-scored military uniform.
“Sithspawn!” Teneb swore. He clenched the datapadd with both hands, and nearly broke it.
Janis stabbed the ‘off’ control for the holovid with a finger. “I still say we snipe those three and be done with it.” She rubbed her eyes. “Anyway, we’ve a timetable to keep. How’re the relays?”
Teneb grunted, and dropped the datapadd on a nearby table. “Fine. They’re within spec.”
“Good. That’s something right.”
Teneb folded his arms over his chest. “Legrange call yet? Surely he’s seen this.”
The other bounty hunter shook her head. “Not yet. Last time I spoke with him, it was right before Helic ran off to ‘surprise’ our collective problem.”
The comlink chimed.
“Naturally, it would be Legrange.” Teneb said with a sour tone.
“Hey, even lunatic geniuses watch holovid. I always pegged him for a ‘Jedi Quest’ fan though, not the news.” She punched the ‘answer’ key as Teneb suppressed a chuckle. “This is Aris. Go.”
The image of a supposedly dead man – Dr. Jack Legrange – appeared. “Ah, Ms. Aris. You have seen the news?” Dr. Legrange’s voice was measured and cool.
“It seems your associate made … an error,” Dr. Legrange replied. “Pity. The loss of that clinic was painful. Before he embarrassed himself, did Mr. Ton at least do away with this pack of interlopers?”
Janis clenched her teeth a moment before she replied. “No. They lived through that small war Helic started. They didn’t come out unscathed though.”
Dr. Legrange was quiet a moment. “Interesting. They seem quite hardy. I presume you’ve a small dossier on them?”
Janis and Teneb exchanged a glance. Janis picked up a second datapadd from a nearby table. “Yeah. Not a lot on two of them, but a good bit on the third. Sending the files now.” She access the files, then hit the ‘send’ key.
Dr. Legrange hummed softly to himself before he spoke again. “A cathar, a human and a rodian. Hm. I’m surprised to see a cathar in this end of the sector. The human is military? Very interesting. Ah, the rodian. I see why you have such a detailed report on him. This ‘Greelo’ seems well-traveled and very skilled.”
Teneb snorted. “Only if you like to play with bows and arrows. We’ll erase them and they’ll be out of the way.”
“No.” Dr. Legrange did not the word like a command. It was more like a statement of fact; something that would be impossible to refute.
Janis and Teneb exchanged a glance again. This one was more surprise than uneasy.
“Alright,” Janis replied slowly.
“Subdue them,” Dr. Legrange continued, “but don’t kill them. I need them alive, and not interrupting my plans. Wounds? Well, those I can fix. But dead? They’re no good to me dead.”
“It’ll cost,” Janis interjected.
“Yes, yes, of course. I’ll pay the extra fee.” Dr. Legrange replied with a dismissive wave. “Just get them. Although, since they’ve proven to be rather inventive or durable or both, Teneb, I want you up here aboard the Zarkov. I want a ‘plan B’ for protection.”
“I’ll head up,” Teneb snarled.
“Excellent. Now excuse me, but the ion capacitors are still charging and need steady attention. Teneb, I expect you within the standard hour. Ms. Aris, once you have your quarry contained, send word and I’ll have the Zarkov meet you at the usual coordinates. Legrange out.” With that, the comlink went silent.
Janis keyed the ‘off’ button on the console. She turned to look at Teneb.
“We’d better tell Rogga,” Teneb said. “He’s not going to like this. Especially that part you didn’t send to Legrange … the one about that military lady being a part of Beskar Aran.”
“I don’t like any of this either,” Janis countered. “This deal’s getting worse all the time.”