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Chapter 8 - Jack

After he and the Zabrak had done the rounds, Jack pocketed his earnings and meandered back through the darkened streets to 'Dune's Sea'. Raya was waiting outside greeting guests on Dune's behalf. She was wearing a beautiful new red gown, which left nothing to the imagination, but was obviously very expensive.

"She only likes him cos he's rich!" Jack muttered and took a swig of his drink. Maul noticed that Jack only seemed to drink when he was nervous or annoyed.

"Bitter are we?" He sneered.

"No!" Jack scoffed. "She could just do better tha's all!"

"Not that I'm siding with him or anything…but she can do better than you too!" Maul's mouth twitched as he stifled a smile. Raya spotted them and waved.

"Off you go then…go loom over them, make them sweat, cry, scream, whatever! Just save my ass okay?" Jack smiled weakly.

"What are you going to do?" Maul wondered. With him gone, Jack was unprotected.

"Oh I daresay I'll manage…I managed okay before I met you!"

"Jack if you hadn't met me you'd be dead." Maul corrected.

"If you don't get in there I'll be dead anyway!" Jack pointed to the club and Maul snarled and walked off.

Jack watched Maul clunk his way over to Raya and enter Dune's club before he walked back, slowly to his apartment. He got some looks from thieves and homeless, as if they were wondering whether he would be worth mugging. Jack had a reputation…but he also had acquaintances in high places. Raya was Dune's girlfriend now, and rumours of the huge beastly looking Zabrak Jack accompanied had spread throughout the underworld like wildfire. As a result he noticed he was being avoided a lot.

He swiped his card key and entered his apartment, climbing the flights of stairs lazily. He wasn't in the mood to go find an old girlfriend tonight…he was thinking of Raya. She was his closest friend and had ditched him for that stupid, tentacled git…a very dangerous, tentacled git. Jack wouldn't trust Dune enough to ask him for help…but she did, and that bothered him.

Jack opened his door to find his normally messy room completely trashed. His equipment lay in pieces all over the floor, broken glass and splintered wood littered his room, along with shredded clothes. His cupboards had been emptied and he dropped his drink as he read a message gouged into the wall.

'He is very disappointed'

"Welcome home." A low gutteral voice said as the door slammed shut behind Jack. Pike stood there, running a finger along his sharp blade until it was stained with blood. Jack trembled with fear as more figures emerged from his bedroom, five of Pike's thugs, all armed with similar weaponry. Pike was not a fan of Blasters…they weren't messy enough. He was renowned in the underworld as a psychotic, bloodthirsty, unpleasant individual. It was rumoured he worked for the politicians, gangsters, Hutts…even at times the Sith, which were thought to be extinct. He worked for whoever paid the highest bid. He was a bounty hunter, assassin, spy, kidnapper, thief and sometimes just for fun…a homicidal murderer.

"The Money's coming! My friends are earning it as we speak!" Jack raised his hands, pleading for more time.

"Yes…your friends…trying hopelessly to save your ass, because you haven't the balls to save it yourself." Pike sneered. The thugs sniggered.

"Correct!" Jack didn't argue. "But the mon-"

"This isn't about the money anymore Jack." Pike slammed his blade into the wall. He left it lodged there whilst he put on his gloves.

"The Man…is not happy…" Pike spoke sternly, "He wanted results and you delivered…late, he wanted information and you delivered…late…he wanted his money brought to him and you have yet to deliver…LATE!"

"But I always deliver!" Jack piped up.

"Let me finish!" Pike snapped. Jack jumped and fell silent. "Just yesterday, after our last meeting…we came across a twilek girl…the same twilek girl, whom we believe took his money from you…"

"You got the money back?" Jack gawped.

"That and more…she confided in me before she ran out of breath…" Pike sneered and lovingly caressed his own throat. Jack looked horrified.

"Apparently…according to her…and I think she was telling the truth, I mean…after what she went through…she didn't really have a choice." Pike circled Jack and pushed him down onto his chair. Offering him a drink, Jack nodded his head, and Pike shrugged and continued. "…You let slip Jack…he doesn't care how…but you messed up…you told her what the money was needed for…didn't you?" Pike glared at him.

Jack searched his brain, he couldn't remember much of the night in question…he had been horribly drunk, and she was very beautiful, he could have told her anything. "I…I…don't know." Jack clutched his head.

"Well…she knew…so did her little sister…her motherher father…" Pike knelt down in front of Jack, his face growing darker and more menacing with every word. Pike was listing people he had questioned…questioned and undoubtedly murdered afterwards.

"…her father's friend…his wife, and lastly…our very own Senator Junjin…" Pike smiled as if remembering a happy moment, "…and his wife!"

Jack had gone terribly pale. In the space of one night and day, Pike had murdered three families, because Jack couldn't keep his drunken mouth shut.

"We are facing a crisis." Pike imitated the Senator's voice. "Senator Junjin, at this moment, is sleeping off fifty Kouhun bites…at the moment he is wetting himself every five minutes and drooling in a bucket…if he gets lucky he'll die a painful but quick death just like his dear lady. Either way…he's not talking to anyone…and Pike here, has a rough day ahead of him."

Jack clenched his fists and braced himself. He was going to die…that he knew…Pike had been wanting to kill him last night for failure to deliver goods, so there was no way he could survive a mistake like this. Pike's next words struck him like a club.

"Unfortunately for me…I've been told not to kill you." Pike's sneer faded, Jack had stopped breathing out of shock. "The Man…has been watching you…and he's taken a liking to your friends…he wants to meet them…wants them to work for him, and maybe this will give them incentive to do as they're told." Pike reared his head back and slammed it into Jack's face.

Jack cried out as blood spurted from his nose and he clutched it painfully.

"Hurts?" Pike laughed manically. A trickled of blood glistening down his forehead. Pike didn't feel pain. He'd trained himself against it. He was a cold-blooded killer.

He motioned to his thugs and one by one they swung down with clubs and metal rods, beating Jack mercilessly.

"I may not be allowed to kill you Jack…" Pike stepped toward the wall and removed his blade that he had lodged into it. Jack felt his arm break as a heavy metal rod slammed into it. He screamed in pain and Pike merely smiled.

"…but I'm gonna make you beg for death!"

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Maul scanned the dimly lit club with a smug smile. It didn't look seedy like this. It was glamorous and reminded him of a life long forgotten. Whatever he had been in the past…it was important, and it was wealthy. He shook off a humanoid alien female that had decided to cling to him, and managed to control his reactions somewhat. He would flinch and tense up but he wouldn't lash out anymore, unless it was a real threat. He walked around among the other bodyguards who eyed him suspiciously. Never before had Dune trusted someone so completely, so fast. Maul smiled to himself as he noted their jealous but fearful stares. Then he sensed a liar amongst the guests. Dune spotted Maul motion to a guard and remove the man from his sight. He had given Maul specific instruction…any cheaters, liars, concealed weapons or anyone he sensed was up to no good, should be taken to the back rooms and dealt with in whatever way he pleased.

"Make sure they get the message." Dune's voice echoed in his head. Maul had agreed without question. The thought of beating the pulp out of these scum did not hit any moral fibre in his body, in fact, Maul doubted he had morals. The only time he felt a twinge of honour was when he realised he was the only one who could help Jack. Even then he had an ulterior motive. As long as Jack lived, he had a place to stay, a guide, food and clothes on his back. It also gave him a chance to get to know his 'Jedi' skills as Dune called them. He still felt a surge of hatred at the mention of that word, but he couldn't help but be proud that he had somehow learned such a feared and respected label.

Two heavily built Quarrens, one Klatoonian and a Dug bodyguard quickly rounded on the shady looking man, who had smuggled in a blaster. Maul felt this man was barely a threat to a Space-weevil, and let the others deal with it. He would take no pleasure in torturing someone so insignificant.

"Dread!" Dune was laughing with a friend and motioned for his Zabrak bodyguard. The others gave Dune jealous stares. "This is my new bodyguard…I have yet to witness his skill…but I know for a fact he is one of the best!" He patted Maul on the back and the Zabrak nodded politely to the other Gangsters.

Some coughed uncomfortably, and then one brave soul dared to challenge him. "I bet my Dug could take him." He sneered.

Dune's laughter faded into cold contempt. "Your Dug barely saved your neck in that assassination attempt." He sneered, motioning to the scar on it's throat.

"No bodyguard has ever managed to stop Fett in his missions…save the Dug." The alien retorted.

"Fett was contracted to send you a warning! Everyone knows that if he wanted you dead, both you and the Dug would be on a pyre!" Dune laughed, some others copied him nervously. Maul caught a glimpse of secrecy in Dune's face, and the Twilek glared at him, as if trying to say 'Get rid of him!'

Maul stepped up. "I'll take that bet…if the Dug is willing." He growled.

"you're on!" The slimy green coloured gangster grinned a set of pointed teeth and held up his COM device, "Dug…get your ass out here, I need a demonstration." He smiled.

Dune looked at Maul, clearly un-intimidated by the alien gangster. He put one arm on Mauls shoulder, and Maul lowered his head to listen.

"Try not to make too much of a mess." Dune sneered, so that he could barely be heard. Maul allowed the corner of his mouth to smile, but it evaporated just as quickly as he prepared himself for a fight. He instinctively knew he had to meditate, and allow his body to tell him what to do. The Dug appeared from the back room and paced over to the centre, which was being cleared for the fight. Maul could feel the tension in the air, the nerves of the gangsters. Dune's aura showed nothing…and Maul paused slightly. He had felt the Twilek's feelings and emotions before…why not now? For a fraction of a second he thought he had lost control of his power. Then again, maybe Dune was in fact thinking nothing, and he should stop prying.

"I want a good clean fight…Its over as soon as one surrenders, or loses consciousness, no killing…you're no use to us dead!" The Gangster raised his arm and Maul and the Dug faced each other proudly. Maul took a stance he didn't know existed, but allowed his cells to tell him what to do.

"GO!" Dune laughed. He threw a glass nearby and as soon as it smashed, something smashed into Maul. An agonising pain erupted in his head, and his whole body ached. Maul roared and clutched his ears. He could hear a screaming in his head, a screaming that wasn't his own. The Dug seemed momentarily stunned by his opponent's behaviour, but ignored it. He swung out with a leg and kicked Maul hard in the chest, almost knocking him backwards. Maul barely felt it, and his metal legs were stable enough to keep him upright. He gasped and groaned in pain as the screaming grew louder. "JACK!" he called.

Raya sprang from Dune's arm and placed herself between Maul and the Dug.

"Dune is this your idea of a joke?" The Gangster was laughing, his laughter turned to horror when Maul roared with pain so badly the glasses in everyone's hands burst.

There were a couple of yelps, curses and cries of "Woah!" as not only the glasses, but the bottles on all the shelves began to crack and shatter too. Dune looked furious and terrified as his bar was shaking and falling apart. "WHAT IS IT?" He roared at Raya, who was trying to keep Maul on his feet.

"I don't know!" She gasped and held back tears. Maul's eyes closed and he crashed to the floor in a heap. She knelt beside him and held his head. Whatever it was, he had passed out from the pain of it.

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Maul woke so violently he snarled and reached for his attackers neck. He realised within seconds that the woman he held was no threat and released Raya immediately.

"S'ry!" He croaked and winced. He felt as if he was covered in bruises. "What happened?"

"You started calling for Jack, you were completely out of it!" Raya gasped as he let go of her neck. "How do you feel? Did he give you a dodgy death stick? Have you been drinking?" She sounded like a mother.

"No." Maul gasped. "I wasn't calling for Jack…I was Jack…I am Jack!" He clutched her shoulders. She looked at him with a bemused expression across her face.

He winced again and groaned. "He can't move…he's in pain! He's calling for you…he's in trouble!"

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