KotOR 2 - Pre-Game Atton
Atton stared at the man across from him as he spoke, trying to pinpoint exactly what was setting off his banthashit alarm. Cale's face wore its usual tired, humorless expression, but the left eye twitched every time the man opened his mouth. Curious.
"It's a simple job," Cale summed up, opening his hands like he had nothing to hide. "Get in, get the goods, get out. Meet the boss at the coordinates provided and collect your fee."
Atton narrowed his eyes and leaned forward on his elbows. "Come on, do I look that gullible? Nothing's that simple, Cale. What are you not telling me?"
Cale leaned back, stretching and sighing like an indulgent parent. "Look, I like you Atton. You're not the chatty type. Get my meaning? You asked me for work and I'm offering. Now do you want the job or not? Because there's plenty of applicants who would be more... enthusiastic."
If he didn't need the credits, he'd tell Cale to get spaced. The situation being as it was, though... He stared a few moments more then reached in his pocket for his datapad. "Fine. I'll play," he said, sliding the datapad across the table so Cale could upload the particulars.
He looked out the view port as the passenger transport ship threaded itself past the massive orbital conglomeration of privately and government run shipyards and made its descent through the clouds above Mon Calamari. The pre-recorded voice on the inter-ship comm extolled the many exciting advances in ship building technology the Mon Cal's were responsible for before launching into the standard run-down of tourists destinations and activities. He wouldn't be staying long enough to partake of any of them.
He did have a couple hours to kill before the yard shift change, though, so he hit one of the cantinas and grabbed a bite to eat. He was sitting at the bar twirling the ice cubes in his glass when the stool next to his was suddenly filled by a female. He was the only one sitting at the bar, which meant there was a veritable dearth of sitting choices available to her. He arched an eyebrow and looked sideways at the woman.
"Whatcha drinkin' spacer?" she asked in a deep voice as she lit a cigarra.
"My life away," he replied. He turned and gave her the proper once over, spotting the barely concealed blaster – Aratech if he wasn't mistaken – under her jacket. He returned his gaze to the front. Not really his type, plus he had a job to do.
She laughed softly, if gravel could be considered soft. "You and me both."
A few moments of silence passed before she spoke again. "You look like a man who ain't afraid of a challenge. Am I right?"
He chuckled. If he had a credit for every catastrophe that had started out with someone making that observation. "I can't imagine where you got that impression."
"I don't know," she drawled. "You just have this aura about you. Course, it could also be the two blasters and the knife in your boot. Bet you've got some other goodies stashed elsewhere, too."
He turned his head, pulling a contrite expression. "Look, doll, I'm flattered-"
"Flattered?" she interrupted with a guffaw. "I'm not hitting on you! I'm offering you a job."
"Not interested," he said pointedly, though not stupid is what went through his mind. "In my experience, the only kind of job that involves the recruitment of strangers is the suicidal kind."
She nodded, conceding the point. "It's definitely dangerous, but the payoff's good."
"Yeah. Have fun with that," he said, signaling to the bartender for a refill.
Her smile was tight with disappointment as she finished her drink and stood. "Too bad," she sighed. "See ya around, spacer."
That was kind of weird, he thought, but dismissed it as just another quirk in his day. He always did attract trouble in every flavor. Sometimes he even avoided it.
The shuttle to the shipyards was claustrophobic it was so crowded with workers heading in for the night shift. He got more than a couple dirty looks, being one of the few humans aboard and the only armed one as far as he could see. He should've concealed the weapons. The Mon Cals were almost paranoid in their dislike of smugglers and the trait bled over to the other species that made their home here. Atton couldn't wait to get off the damn tin can when it landed.
It was a bit of a hike to the private yard docks. The crowd thinned the further he walked. He ducked into a service alley as he spied the fortress-like entrance of Soltav Ship Works ahead of him to the right. He'd studied the detailed map of the place Cale provided and soon found the fire escape he was looking for. Of course, the ladder was in the up position and there wasn't a damn thing for him to stand on.
"Shit," he muttered, scratching his chin as he eyed the situation. Only one option. He stepped back, then ran and jumped, rebounding and pushing up and off the wall. His right hand closed around the bottom of the ladder, the impact rattling the thing all the way to the top. His ears picking up noise from the door that opened onto the platform above him, he drew his blaster with his free hand and hung there as still as possible. Soon enough the door opened and the upper body of a Mon Cal appeared, leaning out and turning his head left and right before looking down. Atton could see he was security of some sort, the uniform a big clue. Perfect.
"Hey," he called affably with an embarrassed chuckle. "Could you help me out here?"
The security guard walked over and leaned down to peer at him with one of his large eyes, far enough to center the pretty red dot on his head. Atton fired, hitting the guard and knocking him out cold.
Holstering his blaster, he quickly hauled himself up to the platform. After closing the door and relieving the guard of his security card, he whispered a heart-felt thank you and unceremoniously rolled the body over the side. He listened a moment, but heard nothing besides ambient noise so he carefully continued, ascending the ladder to the top floor.
Once inside he saw a ribbon of door-shaped light down the dark hallway; the door to the foreman's office. Drawing his blaster, he swiped the card through the reader. As the door opened he spotted it: sentry droid. No foreman, though. Praising himself for remembering to load his ion cell, he pulled his other blaster and opened fire about the same time it did. The droid locked up as his third shot hit it, a thin stream of smoke rising from its chassis. He finished it off and set about slicing the computer terminal, using the login Cale had provided.
Login accepted. Loading messages... The ship is located at dock 4, bay C. Cargo is waiting aboard. Warning: Do not attempt to access the cargo container. Any tampering will result in severe and lethal repercussions. Coordinates for rendezvous to be transmitted once cargo is en route.
The insider no doubt left this little nugget for him. The thought occurred to him to just turn around and walk, but the cards had been dealt, the game was underway. He shook his head, wondering what the hell was he was about to abscond with as he set about overriding the security cameras that lay between himself and the dock. That was no problem, but he got the dreaded denied message when he tried to access the specific port control that would unlock the bay doors. He was about to try something else when the door on the opposite side of the room opened. He immediately dropped to a crouch and moved around to the far side of the terminal bank.
He peeked around as the footsteps cleared the corner. Civilian. Human. Technician, maybe. He had the stylus behind the ear, datapads sticking out of his pockets look down pat. "What the heck?" the man muttered, bending down at the random pile of bolts and parts that used to be the sentry droid. He never heard Atton sneak up behind him until he felt the blaster barrel. "Wha-"
"Uh-uh," he chided. "Piss me off in any way and you die." The mans hands opened and he slowly raised them. "What's your job here?"
He could see the man's jaw work silently a couple times before a sound came out. "D- D- DMS," he stammered.
He took a stab at the acronym. "Droid Maintenance Supervisor?"
The man nodded quickly. "I- I got an alert," he added, inclining his finger slightly toward the droid.
He cursed silently. Damn he hated droids. "Anybody else get that alert?"
The man was lying. It would've automatically been routed to main security as a matter of routine. Standard procedure. It may or may not draw attention, droids being subject to breaking down and malfunctioning. Still, he needed to move.
"Security, dock 4, bay C: what's the setup?"
"Four C? It's been off limits for a week now, boss's orders. I don't know what they're doing."
Atton's head snapped around as the door opened again.
"Whoa! Just what in a droid's metal sphincter is going on here?" Atton saw the man's badge, the word Foreman standing out.
"Really bad timing," Atton replied, drawing his other blaster, feeling a twinge of regret as his thumb changed the setting on it to lethal. As expected, the foreman went for the talkie attached to his shoulder, the last move he would ever make. The foreman's face registered surprise as the blaster bolt hit.
"Shit! Oh shit!" the DMS cried, turning around and crawling away in a panic. His eyes, big as saucers and full of prayers, looked up at Atton. "Don't-"
"You just had to peek," Atton interrupted, shaking his head as he pulled the trigger. He'd changed the setting back to stun, but the DMS wouldn't know that until he woke up. Patting the foreman's body down, he found his security card and pocketed it.
It was a wide, curved hallway he emerged onto from the foreman's office, skirting around the outer edge of the building. No cover, unfortunately. He hoped he wouldn't run into any further trouble as he walked with practiced purpose down it, like he belonged there.
It was easy to tell who was an employee because they paid him absolutely no mind as he passed. They didn't get paid enough to question his presence. When he reached the other side of the building he took the Northeast elevator down to bay C, taking the few seconds to check his datapad map one last time.
He was surprised to find the corridor deserted when the elevator doors opened; surprised, but in that rare good way. The doors to bay C loomed ahead, a Gamorrean sentry posted who gave him the eyeball as he approached. Great, he thought, hoping there weren't more inside. Seemed really odd to him, having such muscle in a place like this. Dumb muscle, but muscle nonetheless.
He flashed the security guard's card. "We've had a report of security breech. Cameras went offline," he said, looking up at the Gamorrean, his voice all impatient authority. "You see anything out of the ordinary within the last few minutes?"
"Nothing," the big oaf said, shaking his massive head. "Except you."
Atton tried to dodge, but he somehow got the one Gamorrean in the galaxy who wasn't only smart, but fast. It took half a minute and six new holes in the goon to rectify the situation. He wiped the blood from his mouth. He'd have a shiny black and blue bruise soon, courtesy of taking the punch from the Gamorrean's sledgehammer of a fist, not to mention the bleeding gash in his arm from catching the tip of the ax.
Not wasting any time, he plugged his datapad into the door control and initiated the program to crack the lock, still catching his breath and chasing the little birdies from his peripheral vision. While he waited he hastily tore open a med pack, gritting his teeth as he injected the kolto directly into his arm wound. The intense pain dulled down to manageable levels.
"C'mon," he hissed, looking down at the datapad, watching the pages of code roll by. Finally he heard a soft click and was rewarded with the blessed green light. He unhooked his datapad and flattened himself against the door jamb as it opened with a whoosh. Crouching down, he quickly peeked around for a second and retreated. His glimpse provided him with the following visuals: the ship, the potential cover spots, the office control room off to the right, three civilians – two armed - and two more Gamorreans.
He took a deep breath and blew it out. Affecting an air of belonging, he smoothed his hair back and strolled casually into the bay, heading toward the office.
One of the civilians looked over at him, then returned to his conversation for a beat before looking again. "Excuse me?" the man called, starting to walk his way, his hand on the blaster at his side. "Uh, who are you? You have clearance?"
Atton turned on his heel, continuing to walk backwards as he faced the man. "Of course I have clearance. Hang on," he said, patting his jacket like he was searching for his card. "Heh, I know it's here somewhere." He fished in his trouser pockets a second and came up empty. "I seem to have misplaced my card, and I just had it, too." He was just a few steps from the office now, confirmed when he heard the door hiss open.
"Hands on your head," a voice said behind him. He stopped, glancing behind him, catching the reflection of metal pointed at his back. The man in front of him pulled his blaster too, causing everyone else who was armed with one to do likewise. He exhaled in defeat, raising his hands and crossing them behind his neck, the fingers of his right hand itching, just millimeters from the hilt of the knife concealed in a shoulder harness. What he wouldn't give for a distraction, he thought, surreptitiously measuring the steps to the closest cover under lowered eyelids.
"Alright, you got me," he said. "No need for violence, gentlemen. And Gamorreans," he quickly added, earning an even more threatening look from them.
"Who sent you?" the voice behind him said.
"Don't know yet," he replied truthfully.
The man in front motioned to the Gamorreans. "Refresh his memory."
It was really, really time for a distraction, he thought as the wall that made up the two Gamorreans started lumbering toward him. He began to drop down in mock supplication. "Oh, hey guys, come on. I'm telling the truth, I swear!" From a half-crouch, he spun, pulled the knife in a smooth motion and launched it, hitting the man behind him in the chest as curses erupted all around, blaster fire chasing him to a stack of storage pods.
He loosed a string of his own curses as he tried to time his chance to shoot back and nearly paid dearly – the smell of singed hair wafting sharply around him. He had to settle for blind fire to drive the Gamorreans back. The office door had closed, so that option was out. The stack of pods ran about twenty-five feet to his left. Sticking his blaster up, he fired blindly again in the general direction of the enemy, sending them under their own cover. In a low crouch he moved down the line of crates and hit his stealth field generator.
Quiet as a mouse he crept around the back of the bay. They were still aiming at the spot where he used to be, he noted before heading up the boarding ramp. He came to a full stop, kind of shocked when he saw a guy with a datapad scanning stuff, absorbed in his work like nothing unusual was happening mere feet from him. Unfortunately for the man, he was between Atton and the ramp control.
"He's gone!" he heard one of the men bellow.
Atton silently holstered his second blaster and moved behind the clueless scanner, reaching out and snapping his neck in a flash of motion that disrupted his stealth field. "Cheap piece of shit," he muttered, making a mental note to pick up a new generator if he made it out of here.
"The ship! Stop him! Kill him if you have to!" someone else yelled.
His fist slammed down on the control button right as one of the Gamorreans stepped on the ramp. The ramp groaned its complaint as it began closing. The ten foot tall monster standing on it ran toward him full throttle, the hull reverberating like a bantha stampede was coming. Despite the fact that he had him dead center in his cross hairs, the sight was hellaciously terrifying. Atton fired, pulled his other blaster and kept firing, but no Pazaak. Some kind of shield, he realized, his gut dropping into his boots. A damn good shield.
With a loud war-cry, the Gamorrean pulled his huge ax back with one arm and swung wide, the weapon a blur as Atton dropped and rolled to the side, coming up firing, trying to wear that shield down. He could see it now, shimmering under the blaster fire. The Gamorrean quickly halted the ax's momentum and advanced, raising the weapon over his head and bringing it down. Atton felt the breeze as it passed way too close, hitting the hull with a resounding, screeching thud.
Two more hits at extremely, uncomfortably close range and the shield was history. He didn't have time to celebrate. The Gamorrean's free hand shot out. Atton jumped back, but not fast enough. He was hauled off his feet by the neck and brought to eye level with the very pissed off opponent. He saw the ax twirl.
"Goodbye, human," the Gamorrean said, grunting with laughter and sending the ax into forward motion.
Gasping for air, he jabbed his blaster barrel between the bulbous, smiling lips, pulled the trigger and held it down. He lost count of the shots. It was barely five seconds, but it seemed like a small eternity, one that would end very, very badly for him when finally – finally - the back of the Gamorrean's head disintegrated and he was released.
"Fuck," he wheezed, leaning over while his throat tried to un-crush itself.
Sensing he was not alone, he turned his head to spy another worker staring gape-jawed at him from the shadow of the hallway. Without bothering to raise himself up, he aimed and fired, dropping the unlucky bastard.
When he could finally breathe again, he headed to the cockpit, thankfully meeting no one else. As he went through a pre-flight check, he saw the other Gamorrean raise his ax and shake it at him, the three civilians – he mentally scratched that designation for the more appropriate enemies - looking helplessly on.
He cleared his throat, painfully, and hit the outer comm. "I suggest you unlock the bay doors, because I got nothing to lose, and I will blast this place to hell in a heartbeat," he said calmly, bringing the laser cannon around to provide proper visual motivation.
He could see their lips moving as they scowled and gesticulated at each other. He did a quick scan of the ship while he waited, and aside from some weirdness that appeared to be coming from the large container in the hold, detected no heat signatures on board. He looked up to see one of the men throw his hands up and storm off toward the office. Shaking their heads, the others wisely followed behind.
A few moments later he saw that the doors had indeed been unlocked. All systems go, he got the hell out of there. As the ship finally hit the black, something wasn't sitting quite right with him. Then again, he'd had that feeling since starting this job. It was too easy. He patched into the holonet and kept an eye peeled for anything remotely resembling a security or news alert about the theft and ruckus, but nothing immediate came. He flagged a few key words to trigger a message if anything should pop up, just in case.
He dutifully sent a message to the contact Cale had given him and quickly received a reply with the coordinates where he was supposed to deliver the goods. Tatooine. He grimaced. Force, he hated Tatooine.
He put her on autopilot and went back to the hold to dispose of the bodies. Moving a dead Gamorrean was never fun, but he managed to drag the hulking mass to the airlock, ejecting it and the other two corpses into the anonymous graveyard of space. His eyes lit on the cargo container as he was on his way back to the cockpit, his curiosity gnawing at him. Whatever it was, it was huge, the container large enough to live in with room to spare. The locking device blinked at him, subtly mocking him. With a soft growl of annoyed dissatisfaction, he left it and continued on, the hyperspace jump coming up fast.
A/N - This story is kind of my over-the-top action movie version of one of Atton's pre-game jobs as a smuggler. The subject matter turns pretty dark, and chapter three definitely falls under the umbrella of Scary!Atton. Thanks for reading!