In the end, it all comes down to this – a Zangali with a grudge and a Timonae with a streak of bad luck. But all streaks end, eventually, good or bad…

Last Call Tavern

A place like this makes a person wish every chair sat with its back to a wall.

The tavern is a dark and shadowy place, the outside glow of the nebula filtering in weakly while pale blue plasma lanterns gleam in the center of most tables (some seem to have run out of juice, but the complaints department doesn’t care and the maintenance crew doesn’t get paid enough to intrude on conversations better left in the darkness).

The room stinks of sweat, cigarette smoke, and spilled alcohol and blood.

Fifteen tables and six booths are arrayed around a central C-shaped bar counter, which has eight stools in front of it.

Knuckles sits at a corner table in the shadows.

Tixxon makes his way into the tavern, the weight of a plasma rifle slung over one shoulder. His silver gaze scans the establishment for a moment before he starts towards Knuckles table.

Knuckles huffs as he sees the softskin approaching. “Knuckles see you hair not grow back yet. Knuckles think soft furless thing amusing.”

Tixxon bites down on the comment that leaps up his throat and sits, the rifle leant against the table’s edge. “You have news of item for me?” he says simply, keeping his voice neutral.

Knuckles hrmphs. “Item?” Knuckles grumbles, patting his armor, then looking under the table, then nictating his eye membranes. “Knuckles not see item.”

“You say can recover thing taken from me when mugged.” says the Timonae, his tone measured. “If this something no can do, say and I find someone who can do.”

Knuckles shrugs, armor clanking. “Knuckles wonder what thing you want? Thing might find.”

Tixxon counts the items off on his fingers, one by one. “Plasma pistol. Datapad, which item most important. Vest, Shiv and other item no so important.” he says. “Now you tell me when ask about this that can find, this just Zangali boast or can actual do what say, eh?”

Knuckles grunts. “Knuckles wonder what you pay these lost items.”

Tixxon nods, pulling a ream of credits from his jacket. He tosses it onto the table, where it sits in easy reach. “5000 credit. No more.” he says flatly.

Knuckles grunts, looking at the credits. “Knuckles take. Knuckles no need items. Knuckles give you. Knuckles think have them.”

Crrok grunts and plods in from the street. Grunting and rumbling to himself, tail swishing back and forth. A piece of metal gleams at its tip.

Tixxon rests one long-fingered hand over the cash. “When I get items, you get cash.”

Knuckles snorts. “Knuckles no care. Knuckles kill you someday anyway, softskin.” He begins to search through his knapsack. Knuckles sets down a few items. Knuckles hrms. “Knuckles no see datapad. Knuckles not have.”

Tixxon scoops the credits off the table and begins to put them away. “Well then we no have deal.” he says plainly. “Need datapad more than other thing.”

Knuckles hrms. “Knuckles okay with that. Knuckles sell items.”

Crrok growls and thumps down on a stool. Tail hissing softly across the floor, tongue lashes out briefly. Grunting and rumbling.

Tixxon snorts. “Should have known no speak truth. Boast more than can do, always same.” he says scornfully, rising from his seat, taking up his rifle.

Knuckles shrugs, armor clanking. “Knuckles not boast. Knuckles just think datapad more valuable.” His eye membranes nictate. “Maybe more valuable to others.”

Tixxon chuckles. “If think record of payment made former employ more valuable you lose more than hand.” he says with a sneer. “If you find person for sell, give name…. have many thing of junk for sell to fools.”

Crrok doesn’t seem interested in drinking. He seems more interested in watching the partons and their actions. Rumbling to himself to himself.

Knuckles grunts. “Knuckles wonder, you got payment?”

Tixxon snorts. “You already had payment.” he says, voice dropping in temperature. “You no want get too greedy, eh?”

Knuckles shrugs. “Knuckles no care.”

Tixxon nods. “I sure no care, but if get too greedy, you make less cost dead than alive, eh?” he says, the threat far from veiled. “Be happy with what got, it no so much it become problem for me.”

Crrok just sits and watches.

Knuckles stands, growling, drawing the plasma rifle from his back holster and aiming it at Tixxon. “Knuckles think you want to watch mouth, stupid softskin.”

Tixxon brings his own weapon to bear on the hulking Zangali. “Think you might want take care self, scaleback.” he says coldly. “You no find me unarm in cell this time, eh?”

Knuckles chortles. “Knuckles in Shadowheart. Knuckles in Cabrerra town. Knuckles lose scale to stupid softskin breathing funny, stupid softskin not get offworld alive.”

Crrok just grunts, a soft chortle as he the scene unfolds before him.

Tixxon smiles an odd little smile. “You be dead all same, eh?”

Knuckles shrugs. “Knuckles not think you get the drop on him.” And, so, he proceeds to squeeze the trigger.

Tixxon spies the movement of the thick Zangali finger on the trigger, his own weapon firing first. A gout of plasma belches forth, the range almost negligible.

Knuckles takes a shot of his own, a breath after Tixxon has fired.

Knuckles throws himself clumsily aside as the shots are fired, and takes the blast square in his ablative armor – which is eaten through and demolished, searing his pebbled flesh before he hits the floor.

Tixxon jerks to move out of the way, his reflexes betraying him. The plasma bolt slams into his vest, burrowing neatly into his chest as he is blown backwards by the secondary blast effects. The rifle clatters from his grip as he crashes into a chair and slumps unmoving to the floor. A pall of smoke rises from the scorched mess that is his chest.

Crrok grunts, eye membranes nicate. Tail hissing softly on the floor as he watches. “Ssssstupid ssssoftssssskin…” Not moving to help though.

Knuckles grumbles, getting slowly to his feet. He walks over to the unconscious Tixxon, breathing raspily, and then kicks the fallen rifle toward Crrok. “Knuckles…think you take.”

Tixxon lies unmoving on the floor, the glow of his fused armour dimming, the stench of burned meat filling the area.

Crrok stands up and picks up the rifle. Rolling an eye over it and grunts, “Want call med people?” He rumbles as he slings the rifle over his shoulder over his shoulder with the other one.

Knuckles snorts, looking from the cooked Timonae to Crrok. “This one no need med people.” He holsters his own rifle, then kneels beside Tixxon, patting the Timonae down for his goods.

Knuckles picks up the knife, grumbling. “Weapon too good for stupid softskin.”

Knuckles gestures to the other items as he throws them here and there. “Knuckles think you take what you want. Knuckles no care.”

Knuckles now searches for the 500 credit ream – and then some.

Crrok rumbles and clomps over. Gaze drifting over the other items. “Not much worth here.” Picking up the portable scanner. Leaving the rest.

Knuckles finishes shaking down the near-corpse, then takes the knife and puts it to Tixxon’s throat, hissing: “Knuckles could kill you, right now. Knuckles like.” He looks toward Crrok. “Knuckles let you choose. Live? Die?”

Crrok hisses and gives the thumbs down. Tail swishing, tongue lashing about. “No need more ssssoftssskinss.” He growls. Cold.

Knuckles slowly drags the Zangali combat knife’s blade across Tixxon’s throat, releasing a gusher of violet-hued lifeblood.

Tixxon jerks, apparently feeling the blade even through his unconciousness. He kicks, once… twice…. and then no more. The thin burble of his last breath makes its way past the bloodflow….

Crrok watches and steps away from the flow of the softskins lifeforce. Grunting and hisses, “He no died good.”

Knuckles shrugs, his armor clanking. “He not live good.”

Crrok grunts, shifting a rifle stap, and replaces an armor plate. Hissing.

Knuckle’s gestures to other items, then says to Crrok. “Knuckles think you take others, sell. Make money.”

Crrok grunts and shrugs his shoulders. “If Knuckles think good idea..” He shrugs again and goes about, picking up the rest of the items.

Knuckles watches as the rather grumpy – but quiet about it – bartender comes around and drags off the corpse.

Crrok just ambles back towards his stool. In his usual hissing and grunting manner.

Knuckles grunts, licking the blood off his newfound blade, then stands and begins to make his way toward the door.

Crrok just plunks down on his stool and now orders a drink.

By Brody

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