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For many, lawlessness and crime is the way of life in Ethna.
For others, becoming a bounty hunter is more suitable.
But beneath these guises of life, a common denominator can be claimed by some in this wretched city.
The willingness to shed the darkness of depravity-
-And to embrace life.
As the man enters another corridor an Astromech makes a familiar whirring noise.
"Corky," says the man with a smile. "Right were I left you."
The droids almost purrs as it greets him.
"Yeah, I scored big yesterday: 50 credits from a client, 100 I pocketed from some Imp, and 20 from a game of sabacc this morning."
The droid makes a high pitched noise in agreement.
"I know, now we can fix the Wench and get her up and running again," says the man as he inspects the back of the narrow corridor.
"Maybe we'll be able to finally get off this rock."
The man reaches out and wipes a slight scuff off of the droid. "Hopefully we can get you some oil or something too."
"I bet you'd like that, huh?" he says, brushing the debris off with his hand.
The droid makes several sounds in exclamation, whipping its dome back and forth several times.
"How sweet," says a deep voice from the opposite end of the alley.
Suddenly Kane grabs the young man and pushes him up against the wall.
"It seemed like it was our turn to follow you this time."
"I see that," says the man, clearing his throat as Haas relieves the man of his pistol.
"Nice droid," he snickers. "Mind if we take it? You do owe us some credits."
"He owes us more than that", says Kane gripping the man tighter. "What was that little set-up you pulled yesterday at the bar?"
"Come on," chuckles the bounty hunter. "It was just dumb luck. They caught me while I was looking for your girl, Dreya," he struggles. "I didn't have a choice!"
"Everyone always has a choice," says Kane as he punches the man in the stomach.
"I didn't!" he replies, trying to catch his breath as Kane knocks the man to the ground. "They're terrorists," he says. "You never know what they'll do!"
"You never know what we'll do either," says the ex-solider as he draws his pistol from its holster and points it at the man.
Meade stares silently as sweat collects on the palms of his hands and doubt begins to fill his mind.
Making several noises, the droid pushes itself forward towards the group, trying to intervene in the altercation.
"Now, right now, I can kill you," says Kane walking towards the man.
"Do you realize this? Do you understand it?" he says forcefully. "I'll kill you."
"Yeah," says the man. "I'm reading you on that."
"And I am damn close to pulling this trigger. Believe me."
"But I'm not going to," growls Kane. "Instead, it's your choice now."
"We still need someone who can get close to the Rebels and the One-Eyed-Cerean you set us up with at the tavern."
The man breathes deeply as he stands, considering his options.
"And you already have an 'in', and you owe us," says Kane. "So make our deal right and you walk out of here alive. Got me?"
"Yeah, I get you."
"I'm gonna need some insurances that you'll cooperate with us, so we're taking your droid."
The Astromech squeals in disapproval.
"It's okay, Corky," says the man as he looks at Kane.
"And," adds Haas, blocking the droid with a loud thud, "If you don't do what we tell you, we'll trash your ship."
"You guys are some crowd," the man says sarcastically. "Just running up in here and expecting me to do all of this stuff for you," he stretches his back as it crackles slightly. "Now you're gonna take my droid and destroy my ship."
"We don't have to do it this way," stammers Meade. "Kane, we-"
"No," says the man. "You do. I should have expected this. But then again, you know most of my clients aren't on the run from the Empire."
Kane grabs the man and throws him to the ground once more.
"And do you know why that is?" asks Kane forcefully.
Suddenly a static burst cuts through the air as a pair of Stormtroopers enter the alleyway.
"Hey! What's going on here?"
"You," demands one of the troopers. "Put your hands where we can see them!"
"Everyone drop your weapons!"
Kane raises his hands slowly, as his old armor scrapes against itself.
"I didn't do anything!" says the man.
"No one move!" shouts one of the Stormtroopers.
"Call for back-up!"
"Copy that," says the other. "Keep your hands up!"
"Alright, everyone against the wall-"
The trooper begins to shout as a sudden jolt of pain enters his body, but the noise is cut short as a knife twists into his neck.
The other soldier turns to see what has happened, but quickly meets his end as well.
The alleyway goes quiet as the second trooper falls to the ground, lifeless.
"Not very discrete-"
"Space me," says the man, astounded, as he gets back to his feet.
"Who-who are you?"
"He's with us...And he'll do the same to you," says Kane. "We're Able Squad."
"Yeah," replies the man quietly. "I'm Jai Wroth. I think I'm your new rebel contact."
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Check out my latest photonovel as of Oct. 27/17: Era of Darkness - "Lurkers" Part 1!