Chapter 1 - They Never Learn


In this sort of life, one had to deal with scum of various sorts on a fairly regular basis. As a matter of fact, one often felt that one was scum of one sort or another. Captain Vacy Fiorst had long ago learned to mask her disgust – not doing so was bad for business, after all.

Hutts, however, made that particularly difficult. It didn't help that they looked hideous, but what really set Vacy off was how much pleasure they took from the suffering of others. As much as possible, she avoided dealing with them.

Unfortunately, Nar Shaddaa was one place that 'as much as possible' meant 'not at all.' So she was stuck having to play run-and-fetch-it for a Hutt named Drooga, when what she really wanted to do was put her shoulder to his chaise and push it off the barge. She'd mentioned this to Corso repeatedly, but he'd just chuckle and shake his head and remind her that it was only a couple of jobs, and then they'd be done.

Still, every time they jogged back to the barge, she felt her shoulders tensing up and her jaw instinctively clenching. "I'm gonna do it, Riggs," she muttered as Drooga's pompous majordomo dismissed them with an arrogant sneer. "I'm gonna shove him off the side."

"Which one, Captain? The Hutt or the poof?" he returned with a grin.

Vacy tried to maintain her scowl, but she could feel a grin tugging at the corners of her mouth.

It was then that a heavily-armored man walked up to them. "Hello. I'm Rogun's personal bounty hunter."

That took Vacy a bit by surprise; she wasn't used to bounty hunters being quite that well-mannered. Corso leaned closer and whispered, "That a man or a hover tank?" and a giggle escaped before she could hide it behind a cough. It wasn't like him to be quite so snarky – she was probably a bad influence – and there might've been a touch of jealousy, there, too.

Apparently the hunter's suit included enhanced audiovisual feed, because he picked up on Corso's remark, straightening a bit. "You like my armor?" The speakers on his helmet didn't hide his smug tone. "I polished it for the occasion."

Vacy leaned forward. "It is pretty sparkly at that." She tapped the armor with a flick of her fingers. "Even if you missed a spot under your elbow." She lifted a shoulder oh-so-casually, smirking at the hunter. "Don't worry about it; I understand it can be hard to reach."

"You've got a talent for digging holes with your mouth," the hunter snapped back.

But Vacy just grinned broadly. "I know," she said, putting her hands on her hips, her eyes narrowing. "You oughta see what else it can do."

From behind her, she heard, "Ewwww," and she laughed.

"Riggs, chill. I'm screwing with him, not screwing him. One little word can make a big difference," she said, still laughing.

The hunter sounded like he was getting angry. "Rogun says I can bring you back in pieces. Hope you don't mind. I've got some new toys I wanna try out."

Wondering if they could tick him off enough to get him well off his game, Vacy gave him a very-obvious once-over and then shrugged. "Not too fond of the fancy-dancy stuff, myself, but after I pry it off your corpse, I may see if my buddy here wants any of it before I sell it for scrap."

She heard soft footsteps behind them and then heard a throaty rumble. Leave my friend alone, metal man. Surprised, she looked over her shoulder, and smiled when she saw Bowdaar.

"Honestly, what IS this?" sneered the hunter. "A girl, a hick, and a half-dead Wookiee? I'm almost insulted that Rogan sent me after you." He leveled his rifle at her. "The money makes me feel quite a bit better, though."

Enough chitchat; it's not like you can talk your way out of this, said the survivor-voice. "Girl?" Vacy snapped back, and Flashy was in her hand without a thought. "I am ALL WOMAN, you scum-sucking piece of filth. And I don't actually need a sidekick; I can take you down all by my little sweet self."

With a barely-perceptible nod to Corso, she rolled toward a nearby armchair while he fired a harpoon at the bounty hunter, pulling him further from Vacy. She saw Bowdaar leap in, vibrosword flaring to life, and she grinned. "Then again," she shouted over to the hunter, "Where's the fun in a fair fight?"

"I'll teach you some manners before you die," the hunter snarled back.

Laughing, Vacy ducked back behind the armchair. "Not likely!" she shouted as she felt Flashy warming up in her hands. She popped back up, aimed, and then frowned as she saw her adversary crumple to the floor before she could squeeze the trigger. "Well that was a bit anticlimactic," she grumbled as she walked over. She kicked the body in the shoulder. "You know, I think I'M insulted that Rogun sent you after me. And he didn't even offer ME any money to make me feel better."

Bowdar nodded to Vacy, then turned to Corso. It is an honor to fight beside you, the Wookiee said in a series of barks.

Corso got kind of red in the face, grinning a bit. "Yeah, well, y'ain't such a bad fighter yourself. Glad we had you on our side."

They watched the Wookiee head back to his cage, and Vacy saw Corso's shoulders droop. "Don't worry, Riggs," she said, putting a hand on his arm. "We'll figure something out."