((Ech, I don't like this post. But I didn't know exactly how to change it, and we need to get a move on.))
"Straight across the atrium you will find the Great Hall. Lord Gre'natta wishes to brief you on the finer details of the hunt before you take your leave."
The guardsman spoke with the droning monotony of a man whoÃ¢Â€Â™d repeated the same instructions for the past hour or two. Arcuse wondered briefly exactly how many hunters had passed him by, how many times heÃ¢Â€Â™d had to repeat those same sentences. Then, he dashed the thought away as one might splatter a stirge with a single swipe of the hand.
The Ubese stopped, gave the man a grateful nod, and spoke his first words since leaving the Morbis Ferre:
The behavior was likely to surprise a good many people, had there been any present, considering what heÃ¢Â€Â™d done in his years as a soldier. All the shooting, the burning, the stabbing, the breaking, the destruction, the killing...and now this warrior stopped to thank a man for giving him directions.
Even the guard seemed surprised, receiving perhaps the first sign of gratitude heÃ¢Â€Â™d had all day. Searching for words and finding none, he merely nodded back. Sathik saw him watching them out of the corner of his eye, his gaze not leaving their backs until they turned the first corner. He shrugged his shoulders to shift his shotgun a bit, then addressed his friend, still facing forward as he did so.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAwfully sociable today, arenÃ¢Â€Â™t you?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœHis duty is much more thankless than ours. HeÃ¢Â€Â™s a soldier, and no one treats him like one.Ã¢Â€Â Arcuse rasped. His voice, strangely akin to the sound of two rocks grinding together, was a simple matter of anatomy. Among his own species, heÃ¢Â€Â™d have used the UbeseÃ¢Â€Â™s little-known sign language, but here his hoarse rasp of a voice would have to do. Besides, he liked the intimidating effect it tended to have on people.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWell he can go cry me a river Ã¢Â€Â“ then drown himself in it. DoesnÃ¢Â€Â™t that honor of yours ever get annoying? I mean, I can understand some things, like stepping in between me and those two rancors (which he swears he could have killed on his own, as he reminds Arcuse whenever possible), or not killing women; but saving guys like The Butcher, or not making that guard **** his pants (which his voice alone may have quite possibly done), I just donÃ¢Â€Â™t get why you do it.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœIn time, mayhap you will.Ã¢Â€Â Was his only response.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAnd mayhap I wonÃ¢Â€Â™t.Ã¢Â€Â Sathik grumbled, shrugging in his shoulder harness again.
They heard the voices before theyÃ¢Â€Â™d turned the last three corners, and at that moment Arcuse grew uncomfortable. He hated crowds, too many targets, and too many memories that crept into his awareness. A horde of undead things shambling towards KirÃ¢Â€Â™al, Sathik, and he; platoons of Republic soldiers trampling through Ubese garden-fields, a mass of green-eyed monstrosities charging into his blaster fire. That image of splashing a stirgeÃ¢Â€Â™s innards against a wall popped into his mind again, and the memories were gone. The last thing he needed was memories of Uba III, especially in this place. The resulting rage would undoubtedly get him killed, and mayhap as many as a dozen with him.
The Ubese gunslinger ignored the discomfort that crowds brought to life in him, and continued his walk along the corridors of the AlloÃ¢Â€Â™et estate. Not a minute later he and Sathik were standing in the Great Hall, purposefully standing on either side of the massive double-doors. With his rifle slung across his back, ArcuseÃ¢Â€Â™s right hand hovered next to the grip of his holstered DL-36, his armored fingers clenching and unclenching.
The black-clad killer had a sudden and impossibly strong urge to draw and open fire, to hell with the consequences of doing so in a hall full of dozens, or even hundreds, of bounty hunters. His hand even closed into a fist around the butt of his pistol, his thumb unclipping the strip of material that held the blaster in its holster. His Heavy Tracker 16 lay forgotten on his back. ArcuseÃ¢Â€Â™s mind was now focused on only two things: the pistol on his hip, and trying not to draw it.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWhatÃ¢Â€Â™s up?Ã¢Â€Â Sathik asked in a low voice, his right hand reaching back over his shoulder for his pump-gun, thinking his friend must have seen something. HeÃ¢Â€Â™d seen Arcuse going for his gun, and whenever heÃ¢Â€Â™d seen that in the past, there was shooting at its heels.
If you intend to shoot a man, to end his life, then by all means draw your gun.
The lessons of old sounded in his ears like drums, beating their meaning into his black-and-white mind. HeÃ¢Â€Â™d been sent to be trained as an Ubese warrior before his world had passed on. Since the age of eight (though he could no longer remember the exact age himself) heÃ¢Â€Â™d been taught to kill, and even in the little time heÃ¢Â€Â™d been trained before the most crippling catastrophe of his life, heÃ¢Â€Â™d been taught well.
But if you have even the slightest doubt, the smallest second thought about what youÃ¢Â€Â™re going to do, then you might as well leave your gun where it is. You maggots are going to be warriors, even if you do look one step above whatÃ¢Â€Â™s stuck on the bottom of my boot, and warriors live to kill. Do you hear me? Before you have any thoughts about where or when to shoot, decide if you will.
And did he really intend to kill? Or more importantly, why did he even want to? His hatred of large crowds had never escalated to thinning the number of people forcibly, and even the painful memories of his past hadnÃ¢Â€Â™t moved him to violence....recently.
He forced his hand to relax, and removed it from the grip of his blaster.
Ã¢Â€ÂœNothing.Ã¢Â€Â Arcuse rasped, taking a deep breath. He shook his head, trying to rid it of the anger, and the shame at falling prey to it so fast. Sathik looked at him strangely, but removed his hand from his slugthrowerÃ¢Â€Â™s stock. He stood easy again with his legs spaced, eyes scanning the room in a wide arc. He made a mental note to ask Arc about this almost-outburst later.
GreÃ¢Â€Â™natta had entered the chamber while the Ubese gunslinger had been so focused on controlling himself, with a younger and well-armed TwiÃ¢Â€Â™lek at his heels. Arcuse assumed it was his son, KarÃ¢Â€Â™bil, the would-be groom of this stolen bride. They conversed among themselves for a few moments, and the xenophobe swore that he saw the words Ã¢Â€Â˜Boba FettÃ¢Â€Â™ on the younger manÃ¢Â€Â™s lips. He had been curious as to the legendary hunterÃ¢Â€Â™s absence in such a well-paying job, but mayhap he simply chose not to appear to such formalities as this meeting.
The elder AlloÃ¢Â€Â™et stepped up to a podium placed on the raised tier he and his son occupied, and addressed the assembled bounty hunters.
Ã¢Â€ÂœYou have all been told the basic reason why I have summoned you here today: to rescue TreshÃ¢Â€Â™san, daughter of OotÃ¢Â€Â™ag, bride-to-be of my son KarÃ¢Â€Â™bil,Ã¢Â€Â
He nodded to his son as he spoke his name, who merely nodded to the horde of mercenaries. Another TwiÃ¢Â€Â™lek had mounted the tier, looking about the same age as GreÃ¢Â€Â™natta. The black-clad Ubese reasoned that it could only be OotÃ¢Â€Â™ag, then directed his attention back to the AlloÃ¢Â€Â™et elder.
Ã¢Â€Âœand hopeful daughter-in-law to myself, who has been taken from us by the Hutts. We can only assume that they plan to take her to Nal Hutta, and do Gods know what with her from there.Ã¢Â€Â
GreÃ¢Â€Â™nattaÃ¢Â€Â™s face was a mask of concern and dismay, clearly sickened by the very idea of having his sonÃ¢Â€Â™s bride-to-be in the hands of the over-grown slugs. Especially given their partiality to slavery and TwiÃ¢Â€Â™lek dancing girls.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI beseech all of you to help bring TreshÃ¢Â€Â™san back, and end the strife that has existed between the AlloÃ¢Â€Â™et and Holmesk families for years.Ã¢Â€Â
The old TwiÃ¢Â€Â™lek immediately saw that his little speech had had no effect whatsoever on the hunters. He knew what they wanted to hear, and sighed as he stepped back and allowed OotÃ¢Â€Â™ag to give it to them.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe AlloÃ¢Â€Â™et and Holmesk clans have pooled their fortunes to offer a 4 million credit reward to whoever brings my daughter back. And should any of you have thoughts of throwing in your lot with the Hutts for promises of more...Ã¢Â€Â
The old HolmeskÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes blazed fiercely for a brief moment, the way a warriorÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes burned in the face of battle. It told the bounty hunters all they needed to know. If anyone helped the Hutts keep his daughter in their hands, they would have a war on their hands.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThen may the Gods help you.Ã¢Â€Â He finished, his voice low and dark.
GreÃ¢Â€Â™natta stepped forward once more, eyeing his fellow elder strangely for his hateful speech.
Ã¢Â€ÂœCredits will be transferred upon the release of TreshÃ¢Â€Â™san to OotÃ¢Â€Â™ag at this location. May the Force be with you.Ã¢Â€Â
The hunters, bored by everything except the promise of money, started to file out. Arcuse and Sathik remained however, not immediately joining the outgoing gun-for-hires. Both of them had noticed KarÃ¢Â€Â™bil surveying the crowd of armed men and women, searching for something they didnÃ¢Â€Â™t know. Such an armed and motivated man would doubtless be taking part in the hunt/rescue, but if so, why had he not left earlier? Surely, being the son of the employers of this job, he had known the details earlier.
Arcuse looked over at his plagued friend, who merely shrugged, as if to say I donÃ¢Â€Â™t know any more than you do.
The final stragglers left the Great Hall in a ragged group. With no more excuse to stay without directly asking the younger AlloÃ¢Â€Â™et what he was waiting for, the deadly pair turned to follow the last hunters out...
"I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!" - Belkar