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Damon Tardif



Damon was pleased to see the seriousness with which the woman accepted his conditions. No haggling, no inane questioning, simply resolve. It was a refreshing experience, particularly in an occupation where dealing with anyone for more than a few moments was uncommon at best. Group work wasn't particularly Damon's cup of ale, though he'd seen the effectiveness of hunters who partnered up to take on bigger scores. Another set of feet would just get in the way, he decided.

But in this instance, it seemed that Damon had little choice in that decision. Whatever the case, five-hundred gold pieces in his pocket was nothing to scoff at, especially for finding a corpse. Whether the woman was truly aware of the odds stacked against her or not, there was something to be said for determination: something admirable.

"We do." Damon replied, meeting her hand with coarse leather gauntlet, giving a firm shake that sealed their agreement good as blood. He would leave the word games and double-dealing to the clever nobles and cunning princes that hunted different prey. Here in Warren, a man's handshake wasn't just his word, but his name and honor. Word travels fast in small settlements like these; those who'd dare commit a sin of bad faith would feel the sting of retribution for years to come.

Releasing the woman's grip, Damon moved to stand, making way towards the counter to secure lodging for the night. That, in and of itself, would be a fight even he wasn't looking forward to having. Though general order had returned to the tavern following Damon's dramatic entrance, the discord was far from settled.

"HAVE YOUR FILTHY HIDE IN MY GOOD BED!?" Damon was unsure if he believed in the old tales of phantoms, but if he did, he'd bet a year's wages that Myrna had banshee blood in her. Choosing not to speak in the midst of her rant, Damon stood still-as-stone waiting for her to get it out of her system.

"Last I checked, if you'll be pardoning me, dogs slept outside! ... You drink my mead, frighten my fine payin' customers, make poor Agnes white as a ghost, I've half a mind to tan your backside like your Pa should've!" Damon placed a single pouch of coins on the counter.

"Now who do you take me for?! Some brainless floozy you can just toss coins at until you get your liking? If you think I'm going to--" Damon dropped a second pouch onto the counter, almost immediately drawing Myrna's lips shut as she realized that this much gold being offered for one night's stay was practically a steal.

"One night, Hunter, one night. If I hear any commotion before daybreak, I'll--"

"All I need." Damon finally said, rapping the counter with his knuckles before heading towards the stairwell, not bothering to look back at his new partner.





The lack of a working comlink had kept Kabal properly out-of-the-loop to any of the goings-on back at the ship. But he marched with all the puffed-up pride of a conquering hero back from war. And behind him was his prize: pushed by the two clearly-struggling Gand who were not even remotely equipped to bear weights of this kind - even on a repulsorlift. But Kabal was a harsh taskmaster, and any unnecessary stops resulted in a string of Ubese curses that quickly got the Gand moving again. For all his gripes of language and comprehension, there was a certain simplicity to shouting and swearing. Curses were something unequivocally understood no matter the language they were spoken in.

But not even the clumsiness of these small, stupid bugs would deter Kabal's victory. The baradium fission device was his: any planet he deemed unfit to exist was now at the mercy of his very sensitive trigger-finger. Of course, Kabal had to begrudgingly acknowledge that the rest of the crew may have some mild complaints about that - especially Airus. Even after being onboard the ship a year, the bleeding-heart doctor tried appealing to Kabal's better nature every other day, it seemed. Moral types didn't belong on a mercenary crew, Kabal decided: and the blind one, especially, shouldn't gripe about having to witness mercenary wetwork.

Fighting back against the zoo of aliens still occupying the green ring, Kabal was pleased to see that it wasn't hard to force people to make way when you're carting a nuclear bomb. Even the dullest-looking creatures had enough sense to keep a wide berth. At least, that's what he thought.

There was a flash of blue as a figure sprinted past, directly towards Kabal's treasure. Without even stopping to account for the obstacle, the figure leapt over the bomb, prompting the two Gand to crouch with arms thrown over their heads. The bomb wobbled precariously, threatening to topple over from the disruption of pace. Kabal was left with a choice: to either keep the bomb steady to avoid breaking it - and the planet - or to rush down the blue freak that very nearly cost him his superweapon.

Before he could decide, it turned out the Chiss wannabe had a friend, one far less nimble than they were. Running full-force into the repulsorlift, the bomb throttled violently, the cart it sat upon trying desperately to stabilize itself. But it was all for naught. With a final lurch, the repulsorlift turned on its side, toppling the baradium fission device onto the ground with a sickening crunch.

The commotion of the surrounding crowd came to a screeching halt. Nothing stopped a sales pitch better than the threat of planetary annihilation. The device started to hiss violently, leaking coolant as it was apparent something inside had broken. Kabal's stoic gaze was centered on his precious nuke, completely unaware of the melee between the not-Chiss and her assailants in the background.

For a few moments, he was silent, looking upon his glory in ruin as the bomb continued to bleed. The crowds in the green ring had started to scatter, reasonably wanting to get as far away from a volatile bomb as possible. The Gand took this as sign to cut their losses, sprinting away as fast as their stubby legs allowed, tripping in their own clothing as they hurried to escape whatever was about to happen next.

Fists clenching at his side, Kabal's head turned towards the one who ran into his cart and, without a word, sprinted full force towards him. Perhaps under calmer circumstances, Ahln would've asked himself how much power a five-foot-five, hundred-and-twenty pound alien could possess. He would have found his unasked question answered when Kabal tackled him full force, raining down blows wherever his fists landed. Taken by surprise both at the act itself, and Kabal's surprising ferocity, Ahln fell prone on his back, completely dazed as the Ubese kept hitting and hitting and hitting.

With head pounding and blood spewing from both his mouth and nose, Ahln had hardly any resistance left in him as Kabal picked up a rock lying nearby, raising it up over his head. There no way of knowing what Ahln was thinking in his last moments, and frankly, Kabal didn't care. He held position for a second more, then brought the rock down.

With every hit, there came less resistance: meaty thunks turned into nauseating squelches as flesh-and-bone eventually gave way. Kabal wasn't sure how much time had passed, but by the time his rage gave way to fatigue, what was left of Ahln's visage was a fine pulp, staining the snow red.

Slowly sanding to his feet, Kabal dropped his gore-stained rock, looking up to see the not-Chiss staring back. How she dealt with the other men chasing her was uncertain, but enough to earn Kabal's curiosity - and cautiousness. Debating whether he had been too hasty in dropping his weapon, Kabal was prepared to reach for the rock when he was interrupted by the woman speaking: in Ubese. He froze stiff, taken aback by this discovery, unsure what entirely to make of it.

The only other non-Ubese he'd met able to speak his language was Sable, but it was clear this one was no droid. Her accent was imperfect, with a slight hesitation on the filler words and the odd enunciation error; it was rusty, but it was Ubese.

Kabal silently looked the woman up-and-down, indicated by the slight incline of his helmet. Whether he was checking for weapons, valuables, or something else, his motive was completely uncertain. The woman wasn't Chiss, Kabal had come to that decision with some confidence, but she looked Human and was blue, which was close enough in his book.

"We'll ask the Captain." Kabal replied in his native tongue as he moved towards the bomb, placing a single hand on its cracked surface. Whatever reaction was taking place inside after the bomb fell over were quietly dissipating. The bomb was broken, but stabilizing.

"Help me lift it, then we'll make for port. Captain may like you, depends how pretty she thinks you are.


Kabal



'Specialist ordnance.' seemed to Kabal a roundabout way of saying 'big explosives.' Basic was a frustrating language that seemed to have ten different ways to say the exact same thing. Ubese was a far superior dialect, one that Kabal missed speaking greatly. He tried where he could, of course, but slurs and curses aimed towards his fellow crew members just couldn't compare. Planets like Anchorage served as a grim reminder of just how isolated he was. Even on Tatooine, the rolling dunes and desert plains felt much closer to home than desolate ice caps and frozen fields.

His initial confusion regarding Solace's words was quickly alleviated by her elaboration of acquiring a baradium fission device. Those weren't just explosives, they were planet-busters - superweapons; banned even by the Empire after enough bellyaching by the gutless pacifists on Alderaan. Kabal inclined his head down towards the table as Solace slid the handful of credits towards him. There was a pause as he seemed to process the exciting task assigned to him. Almost warily outstretching his glove-less hand, thin chalk-white fingers closed around the credits, drawing them into one of the compartments on his woefully light bandoliers.

With a lone nod, Kabal was off, swiftly departing from his seat and out the door, pushing past a few displeased spacers trying to come in. Kabal gave no quarter and offered no mercy; anyone in his way would move or be moved. How one as small as he could shove with the strength of a larger man was puzzling--and shocking to those on the receiving end, but Kabal had disappeared into the streets long before anyone had the chance to find out.

Outside, the frigid cold met him like a punch to the gut, freezing the air in his weak lungs. Furiously planting bare hands in the folds of his clothing, Kabal pressed on, eyes peeled for any diminutive insects running around carting a nuke. The assortment of alien features all seemed to blend together into a repulsive kaleidoscope of too-many-limbs, enormous eyes, unnatural colors, and foul odors that only enhanced Kabal's biases. He had no point of direction other than the green ring, but with a baradium fission device on the line? Kabal would find it.

After painstaking minutes of wandering, refusing to ask for any aid or directions, Kabal spotted one of the Gand in the distance: a diminutive sort, smaller even than he was, lugging around a cart-full of miscellaneous blaster parts and ammo casings in a hand-pulled wagon. Increasing his pace to harass the insect into telling him where the fission devices were, the Gand, unaware, turned a corner and disappeared into the crowded sea.

His frustration only growing in the meantime, Kabal was about to break in a full-on sprint when a guttural voice called out from behind him, slicing through the muddled chats and conversations of everyone else around: "Come for th' baradium, have you, Stranger?"

Kabal froze, turning around on his heels to look up at a tall, imposing sort, garbed in enough layers to draw uncertainty whether he was human or not. The man was arrayed in a long, heavy cloak that draped down to boot-clad ankles, hood-and-cowl obscuring all but his eyes and the bridge of his nose. Hunched over with the weight of a backpack upon his shoulders, the man met Kabal's blank visor with a gaze piercing enough to make even the unflappable Ubese mildly uncomfortable.

Taking Kabal's silence as answer, the man laughed heartily: a raspy, gurgling sound that wheezed and popped like a machine booting up after decades of disuse. Recovering after one last chortle, the man spoke once more: "My little Beetles have done a fine job in rounding up prospective customers, and you seem a discerning one, at that!" With a sweeping theatrical motion, the man opened up his cloak, revealing a baffling assortment of holsters and ammo pouches, all full to the brim. Hold-out blasters, heavy pistols, carbines, grenades, bombs, slugthrowers, the merchant carried enough on his person to arm a sizable militia, and that didn't even take into account what he carried at his stall. Rifles, light-and-heavy repeaters, flamethrowers, grenade rifles, portable rocket launchers, and, above the rest like a deity enshrined: a baradium fission device, dwarfing most grown men in size. Despite the array of outlawed and invaluable weaponry that'd make even the Empire blush, no one else around seemed to look at or even take notice of the merchant and his stall.

”Lot of good things on sale, Stranger.” The merchant acknowledged in what was the greatest understatement of the era. Beneath the frozen expression of Kabal's mask was pure, unadulterated desire. His own stash, carefully acquired over months of scavenging and hoarding, couldn't begin to scratch the surface of what the merchant had before him.

”How much?” Kabal asked, pointing up at the baradium bomb in hushed reverence.

”No set price, Stranger. Show me what credits you're willing to part with, and we'll see from there.” The merchant's tone was the growl of a seasoned businessman, keenly aware of any tricks of the trade. Even Kabal, for all his lowly opinion of humans, knew there'd be no lowballing this one.

Reaching into one of his pouches, Kabal procured the full amount of credits Solace had given to him, holding them out for the merchant to take.

Shoveling the whole pile in one hand, the merchant held up a single credit to his eyes, appraising the quality. After a moment or two more, he nodded decisively. ”This'll do, Stranger. Bomb's yours.” With a snap of his fingers and a command issued in an alien tongue, two Gand mysteriously appeared from the swell of the crowd, hopping up on the stall to carefully load the bomb onto a cart.

”My Beetles'll help carry the weapon to your ship, Stranger. A pleasure doing business with ya -- thank you.” Once more securing his cloak, the merchant humbly bowed. Kabal, not saying a word, turned to leave, leading the Gand back towards port. Then he stopped. Somewhere in the deepest pits of his shriveled heart was a small shred of decency urging him to, for one of the first times in his life, thank another creature. But by the time he turned around to respond to the merchant, he, and his stall, had disappeared, leaving nary a trace but a single wanted holo-poster against the wall, with the biggest bounty Kabal had ever seen: ten billion credits.

Only taken out of his surprise by one of the Gand gently tugging against his sleeve, Kabal, after slapping the bug's hand away, continued on back to the ship, carrying with him the most valuable haul of his career.


Kabal



Big. The word seemed to echo in Kabal's mind as he was, indeed, contemplating how to kill such a beast as Viron Jek. The short answer was explosives. It was a relative comparison: the bigger the bad guy, the more bombs you needed. But for Jek, who seemed the size of two men stacked on top each other, well...that'd require a lot of explosives, more than Kabal had on-hand. Solace asserted that no matter how big a threat Jek was, literally or metaphorically, his sights were set on the Empire, not on them.

Kabal inwardly scoffed at mention of the Empire. His relationship with the autocratic regime had somewhat strained in recent months, no doubt due to the nasty business back on Mos Eisley on what-would-be his first day as a Gray Mariner. To any who asked, the finer details of that day escaped him, but Kabal remembered them clear-as-crystal. He did not act without incentive, he assured himself; the Empire would find no groveling wretch in him or any Ubese. Indeed, nearly everyone aboard the Noreaster had slighted the Empire in some way or another; what made Jek so special for it?

"Get what is coming. Bigger man, harder fall." Kabal responded, butchering the old adage. It was uncertain whether his tone relayed one of confidence or simple observance of the fact. Perhaps there was a nugget of wisdom in the plainness of his words: Reavers and pirate lords going all the way back to the Old Republic had their day in the limelight, some lasting months, years, decades even. But as always, someone stronger, tougher, or just plain luckier came along and took their place.

He was about to suggest 'acquiring' an E-Web to deal with Jek when Solace stopped almost mid-sentence to respond to a buzz in her communicator. Kabal was puzzled: his helmet had a built-in comlink tuned to the Noreaster's frequency. If Piff had chewed on it again, so help him...there wouldn't be any atomic trace of Gizka left to find.

Kabal, of course, kept those thoughts to himself. Solace (and especially Requiem's) attachment to the Admiral was nothing short of baffling, which only further exacerbated Kabal's hatred for it. Sadly, the rest of the crew did not seem to share his opinion. Clu, in particular, didn't take too well to finding Kabal in his quarters under cover of darkness attempting to tamper with B-22's targeting system.

It was a ceaseless frustration, an almost perpetual miscommunication between himself and the rest of the crew. They didn't understand him or his customs, and he didn't understand them or their rituals. Even after a year, there was only the resigned acceptance that Kabal's eccentricity was a part of his nature. It was the wisdom of old spacefarers that said your crew was your family. But Kabal had a family once, now no more. What did that make the Gray Mariners?

Unwilling to answer his own question, Solace's part in a one-sided conversation with Sable brought Kabal's wayward mind back to the present. 'Subdue', 'restrain', 'negotiate a travel arrangement', the whole thing screamed 'stowaway'. Probably some alien filth trying to mooch a free ride off port. Solace didn't have to volunteer, Kabal would kill the stowaway, himself the moment he caught sight of them. There was room for only one pest onboard, and that pest was protected. That was the one thing Kabal and Five-Toes could find common ground in, albeit for different reasons. It was perhaps ironic that the only thing the two of them could agree on was what they hated more than each other.

"Stowaway like spider-roaches, best dealt with flamethrower." The metallic edge of his voice carried the slightest hint of glee at the prospect. Of all Kabal's vast and highly-illegal weaponry, his wrist-mounted flamethrower held a special place in his heart. Truth was, there really was no appropriate time to use a flamethrower, but Kabal countered that there really was no appropriate time to not use a flamethrower.

"What next move?" He asked on a final note, tensing his muscles in preparation to stand at a moment's notice. He had been itching for a bit of combat since their last mission, and to be reunited with all his gear back on the ship was an all-too-tempting idea.


Edric Beaumont



"You feel it. A calling." Edric proclaimed, even the phrasing of his words uncertain as to whether he were asking or declaring it. "And what else to do but answer?" With that, Edric slowly opened the set of doors, prompting an almost violent screech of old wood against rusted metal hinges, moss-covered stone. Inside there was only blackness, a dark cavernous maw ready to swallow up the all-too-eager and curious. But Edric, for all his eccentricity, merely stepped inside, his form soon encompassed by the darkness. Dutifully, the Wolf followed behind, wispy shape dissipating like a cloud of smoke as its vaguely translucent form turned nearly invisible.

Edric did not stop to wait for Arendal, either confidently assuming he would follow, or uncaring as to what path he chose to take. Edric would wander the ruins regardless, though a part of him couldn't help but like the idea of extra company. The first step inside the ruins was a dour, musky place; filled with the stench of rotten wood and stone, caked with dust that seemed to clog and poison the very air they breathed.

This place, whatever foul thing infested it, had anticipated visitors. Edric could sense it in the air, the darkness reawoken as life once more teemed in its halls. Rubbing his hands together with the same fervency one would try and strike a flint, an orb of bright light manifested between Edric's palms, floating into the air as he outstretched an open hand to release it. The orb hovered close to his head, illuminating the room in a white glow, likely disturbing anything that dwell within. "Curse these eyes. Rely on them too much, can see everything except what's right in front of you in the dark."
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