Her moan was rich and full-throated, the expression of ecstasy and satisfaction. Vez shuddered slightly as the stim cascaded through her system. Not the best high she’d ever had, but not bad for a bunch of crushed pills she’d bought off some kid whose parents were trying to medicate him into being a scholar.
Besides, she mused as she blew her nose, she wasn’t here for a fun night out. This was on the clock. She was here to nab and bag some froo-froo pretty boy with rich parents. None of her usual meatshields were available, but Vez was a strong independent woman who didn’t need no hired muscle. Just a little pharmaceutical edge, that’s all.
The Mirialan stared at her reflection in the mirror, trying to assess if the stim had screwed with her eyes. Club Kasakar wasn’t ritzy, per se, but it was the kind of establishment that kept its restrooms clean and well lit and even left the doors on the stalls. In Vez’s world, that passed for nice. Nicer than the vile aftertaste of pill goo dripping down the back of her nasal cavity, at any rate.
Judging by the horrified stare from the Human woman at the next sink over, it was also the kind of establishment where ‘Excuse me, I have to go powder my nose’ wasn’t usually a euphemism. “What, you never seen an insulfation before, lady?” Vez sneered. “It’s a medical procedure.”
With that, she turned crisply on one heel and marched out into the club’s main area. The music, which had been a dull and monotonous bass thudding in the washroom, erupted into a symphony of soullessly chipper dance-pop. The club was packed and dozens of species writhed and bounced on the floor.
That schutta was so full of it, Vez thought, scowling at a Bith nuzzling a Shistavanen’s fluffy coat. There is no way in Ashla’s bouncy and majestic butt that I am the only one here spiced up. Ten to one odds some jackass tries to sell me death sticks.
She studied the crowd, trying in vain to find her mark. She was either going to have to dance-stalk through the crowd and hope she bumped into him, or just loiter in the bar area any hope he needed a drink or a potty break. As usual, Vez committed to the path of least work and started towards the tables by the bar.
That was when she saw him.
Not the target but hopefully this evening’s victim nonetheless.
He was the almost unprecedented combination of green, groomed, and unattended. A Mirialan man about her age was sitting alone at a table, dreadlocked head nodding in time despite his otherwise grim demeanor. He was dressed like he was expecting a fight but what Vez could see peeking out from his armor—a strong neck blending into broad shoulders and lean but solid tattooed forearms—suggested he was pretty well-built under all that armor. That was a testable hypothesis.
Oh my, oh my, she thought. Momma like.
Girl, the anemic voice that passed for Vez’s conscience burst in. You’re on the clock.
But man candy, Vez thought back to herself. Man. Candy.
Somehow the voice inside her head managed an exasperated sigh. What would they say about this at the Praxeum?
Vez giggled. Me, she addressed herself. That ship left the spaceport already and flew into a black hole.
“You wanna buy some death sticks?” a Balosar asked her, interrupting the internal dialogue.
“Death sticks are for teenagers,” Vez growled at him. Shooing the Balosar away, she sauntered over to her fellow Mirialan’s table.
«Hey there, bad boy,» she said in their native tongue as she grabbed the startled man’s glass and knocked it back. She flashed her most roguish and dashing grin. «Looks like you need a drink. Can I buy you something?»
Man Candy at least grinned, which wasn’t the worst reaction she’d ever gotten to poaching a drink. «Girl,» he said, «that was tap water.»
«Lame,» Vez replied. «But cute accent. Where the hell are you from?»
«Nowhere.» The grin vanished and it was back to brooding.
«Alright, mystery man.» Vez rested her chin in her hands and her elbows on the table as she took in the facial tattoos surrounding his jawline and sad amethyst eyes. If their backward culture was good for anything, it was chatting up strangers at bars. «Yeah, you have had a rough life, Mister Builder-Protector-Rememberer.» Not that she needed the tatts for that, given his scars. «Too young for the Rebels. You Resistance? You know, when I was little I always got something sweet when I read someone’s face right.»
The man didn’t shrink from her gaze, but he was stonewalling so she just kept going. Two saggitae under the eyes for small male things he was responsible for. «You got little brothers?» Vez licked her black lips. «Or are you already used to people calling you daddy?»
«Bogan ey Ashla,» Ruka sighed. «You’re persistent, I gotta give you that much. But drunk club girl ain’t my type.»
«Come on, bad boy. One hundred percent satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.»
Man Candy snorted. «That sound better in your head?»
Vez’s smile faltered as the implication of the line dawned on her. «Most things do,» she sighed. «Your money’s not what I’m after.»_ Tall, Dark, and Handsome was back to staring at the dance floor. «So are we gonna find a dark corner somewhere or should I go back to being a sexy and fearless bounty hunter?»
Ruka shook his head. «Later, fearless.» He stood up and started walking back over to the bar. «You so thirsty, I need another glass of water just from talking to you.»
“Jerk,” Vez muttered. “I oughta shove a blaster right up your tight and incredibly well-toned—”
No, her conscience, the ruiner of all fun, insisted. You oughta quit screwing around and go do the job that nice warlord is paying you to do.
Vez grumbled but complied, dancing her way through the crowd and trying to look as though she were on happier spice. Luckily, it only took one insipid dance track to zero in on her prey. A dainty Pantoran with tousled pink hair, which was not nearly as cool as hers, dressed in casual but expensive clothing, danced with a joy so pure and sweet it made her want to vomit on him. Corazon Ya-ir. Or, as Vez preferred to think of him, fifty thousand upon delivery, unharmed.
She danced over to him, datapad in one hand as the other rested on the electro-shock prod in her pocket. It took almost a minute for him to notice her, but as soon as she caught his eye she smiled and sashayed closer. “Hey,” she shouted over the music.
“Uh, hi?” Cora answered.
“Look at this guy,” Vez slurred in her best drunk club girl voice and shoved her datapad in his face. Cora’s photo was taking up the entire screen. “Does he look easy to you?”
“Excu—” Cora didn’t even manage to get the word out before Vez discharged the prod into his gut, sending him flying off his feet. He didn’t get far and bounced off of a Barabel that was too captivated by the patterns of his four glowrod-wielding hands to notice the impact.
“Sorryyyyy,” Vez said. “My boyfriend’s kind of a lightweight.” The handful of other dancers who even noticed the altercation had moved on with their lives by the time she lifted Cora’s unconscious body up, one arm over her shoulders. Only a lone Chadra-fan stared at them. “But hey,” Vez winked at the little bat creature. “He’s rich.”
The crowd parted for the girl hauling a body and through the rift Vez saw Man Candy storming towards her. The Balosar slythmonger started to approach him but in a rare moment of clarity thought better of it.
“What,” Ruka started. “The kark. Are you doing. To my husband.”
Ohhhhhh, Vez thought. Drunk club _girl ain’t his type. Well now I don’t feel so—kark!_ She dove sideways into the crowd, dragging the Pantoran over and on top of her, as tendrils of lightning erupted from Ruka’s fingers, tore through the air where she had been standing, and slammed into the Barabel’s back. The people nearby gasped and a few darted for safety, but in the noise and flashing lights of the club most of the crowd was oblivious to such minor pyrotechnics.
Ruka winced as the pain and fear of the Barabel and those around him washed over him through the Force. “I don’t wanna hurt nobody,” he shouted, struggling to be heard over the music. He couldn’t see Cora or that crazy schutta and throwing more lightning—or, Bogan forbid, a lightsaber—around was going to get someone killed. He had to clear this crowd somehow and there was no way he could do that with the noise.
So he took hold of the massive speaker next to the DJ’s booth, latching on tight with the Force. The durasteel supports bent, then screeched, then snapped as Ruka pulled the heavy box free and tossed it at the back of the stage where it crashed into a wall and hopefully didn’t hurt anybody.
The music stopped and the screaming started.
Cora, I’m coming.