Reena Minor was a space station in Bothan Space, perched on the Reena Trade Route primarily of interest for its thriving gray and black markets. It’s far enough away from Bothawui that the crew of Azera’s Folly didn’t have to worry about what goes on there. Which was convenient for everyone, really. They were there because of a Toydarian gun merchant named Jermo who’d called up and said he was sitting on a smuggler who had some dirt on the Exchange that they might find useful.
Azera’s Folly docked at Reena Minor, and the crew made their way through the Night Market to Jermo’s place. The market was crowded and noisy, but they’d been there once or twice before, so they knew where to go. Tasha is looking around excitedly at all the vendors’ shops. Daneb was focused on keeping as far away as possible from the scummier-looking folk, but did pause with Tasha to peer at certain shops. Security, such as it is, mostly consists of alpha thugs who are more interested in protecting the shops than the patrons. As such, Stragos was casually picking pockets as they walked. Ralk enjoyed the sights and sounds as well, but his demeanor was professional and on task. Jor-Ost walked beside the captain, unflappable as ever.
Jermo’s shop was in a cramped corner of the station, with numerous tall shelves that made it something of a miniature maze, creating poor lines of sight. Only a handful of patrons are here, perusing the goods. As they entered, Daneb wrinkled her nose at the shop and its wares but managed to conceal her distaste. She remained in the back of the group, listening. Tasha also wrinkled her nose … but was not so subtle as to conceal her reaction. Ralk naturally had the easy-going manner of someone who is unaware that he should be concerned about things around him.
“Oy, Jermo?” Jor-Ost called out to his contact.
They heard him somewhere in the back. “Tell me if there’s anything you like. Jermo has everything that kills at reasonable prices, so – is that Jor-Ost! Get back here, you old bantha hide!”
Rounding a corner, they saw the little fellow trying to sell a blaster … thing … that none of them had ever seen before to a Rodian. “This is a charric, friend. The only one I’ve ever seen in the Mid Rim. And I hate to sell it at such a low price, but…” Stragos’s lips twitched at the sales banter. The Rodian, already waffling on the purchase, shied away from Jermo when he saw the crew heading toward the counter. "Hey, what if I make it … okay, if you change your mind I’ll be here.” He shrugged but smiled when he turned to face the new arrivals. The Cathar feigned interest in the blaster, catching the Rodian’s eye on his way out to show his interest with a casual feline smile.
Daneb smirked faintly and stepped aside to let the Rodian pass. She noted Tasha’s expression and nudged her in the side. The young human swiftly straightened up and donned what she liked to refer to as her “game face.” Though she did spare a moment to discreetly stick her tongue out at the Mirialan.
“You have some new stock for us to look at, Jermo?”
“As it happens, friend Jor-Ost, I do. I know your captain here has… expressed interest in the Exchange.” He flitted over to Ralk’s position.
“Depends on what you have for us Jermo. How ‘interested’ should I be this time?”
“A business associate of mine has information about one of their corporate fronts. Could be valuable intel for someone trying to work their way to the top of the Exchange.” He shrugs. “Or the bottom.” His smile broadened, revealing several teeth in an assortment of precious metals.
“That is interesting. What is your associate looking to get in … exchange?” Stragos winced at the pun.
“Simply? Protection. They know that he knows.” After a beat, the Toydarian added, “I believe your father has arranged a payment.” He unabashedly held out a hand for the money.
“So we get information on this front if we can make sure your friend isn’t paid an unfriendly visit. Done.” He handed over a small sack of coin. Daneb raised her eyebrows delicately, but remained silent as Jermo placed the money in his fanny pack. “Always a pleasure doing business with you, Jermo. Where is your friend?”
“Nearby … but there is a small problem…. You see, the Exchange also offered me money for Quell Noositi … and money is the only money that’s money.”
Jor-Ost sighed heavily. “Really, Jermo? This is me, you’re talking to.”
Daneb bared her teeth briefly. “People incoming, Boss,” she muttered, turning toward the door behind them and gesturing for Tasha to turn with her. The younger woman reached under her cloak and placed her hand on the hilt of her weapon.
Ralk nodded, with a brief glance over his shoulder, then turned back to the Toydarian and smiled. “Oh, Jermo. You could have made so much more from us in the long run. So many are so shortsighted."
They saw a group of six assorted Outer Rim thugs – two Niktos, a Rodian, and three humans – some armed with blasters, others with melee weapons.
“Where’s the Duros, Jermo?” the human with the stringy goatee asked.
The Toydarian’s eyes darted to the door to his back room. “Take care of these spacers and we’ll talk.”
Without preamble, Tasha loosed her saber-staff and activated it, looking to the goateed man and extending her hand. “We don’t have time for this,” she snapped. Two of the thugs crashed into a tall shelf, falling to the floor as boxes full of junk rain down on them. “_Stay_down!” she commanded.
“Jedi!” one of the Nikto shouted, and the two of them attack Tasha with vibroblades. Tasha swiftly parried with her lightsaber-lance, dodging out of the way behind a shelf.
Stragos whipped the charric up at another of the thugs. “Your move. Choose wisely.” The thug flinched in a manner most satisfactory. Daneb dove behind the cover of the scattered shop wares and shelves as the Rodian’s blaster spat fire in her direction. Once there, the Mirialan drew her own blaster.
The last thug tried to shiv Jor-Ost, who threw himself off balance to avoid the skewer. The mechanic then threw himself over the counter, grabbing at a random weapon as he moved. It did not go as well as he’d planned and he cursed unintelligibly.
A blaster seemed to appear in Ralk’s hands right before it goes off point blank into the face of the enemy that tried to shiv Jor-Ost. The thug tried to duck back, but the Bothan’s military training allowed him to anticipate the move and the blast caught its target right between the eyes. He fell back against a rack of shelves, dislodging a very heavy ball that thunked off the skull of the Rodian, dropping him to the floor, as well.
Stragos shrugged sheepishly and tossed the charric up in the air above the rattled thug. “Heads up,” he said, drawing the man’s gaze upward before sucker punching him. The man dropped like he’d been deflated. The Cathar grinned and took a moment to lift the thug’s wallet.
Tasha sidestepped one of the vibroblade-wielding combatants and swept her own weapon up across his torso. “Sorry about this,” she started to say, but his shouted comment about her mother took her aback just enough for him to avoid the brunt – for a moment. Her eyes flashed. “Less sorry now.”
Suddenly, the man’s feet left the shop floor, and he grabbed at his throat like he was being choked. Which, in fact, he was. “You don’t get to disrespect my family!” The remaining thugs, seeing this, start scrambling for the exit.
Stragos flinched at the brutal display, took the credits from the wallet he’d filched, and dropped the rest on the senseless thug. “Such violence. Tsk.” He took a cautious step away from Tasha, who held the man aloft until he went limp, hanging in midair.
Jor-Ost raised his eyes above the counter. “That’s somethin’ ya don’t see every day…” Daneb didn’t need to look up to know what was. She turned to wink at Jermo and say something pithy, but the Toydarian had disappeared. She scowled.
The captain spoke softly. “Tasha … a bit too far, but you definitely know how to make a point. How ‘bout taking a few deep breaths for us now.” He moved to see if the Rodian was still breathing.
A few moments later, Tasha allowed her victim to drop to the ground. Breathing hard, she deactivated the ‘saber and put it back on her belt. Daneb stood and dusted herself off, stepping closer to the younger woman with a questioning eyebrow. Tasha glanced up at the Mirialan and then back away again slightly embarrassed, a hint of moisture in her eye. The room fell very quiet. All they heard was the whirring of the security camera as it tracked back and forth.
“Jor-Ost,” said Stragos, pointing at the cameras. “We were never here?” The mechanic picked the charric up off the floor, cocked an eye at the recording device, and began searching for a port.
“I, uh. I think the Duros is in the back room,” said the Cathar. After a beat, he added, “Or was. Yeah.” He walked that way without further ado.
The door was locked, but that was only a temporary issue for Stragos. The back room was remarkably well-organized, given the disheveled nature of the sales floor. A Toydarian-sized computer terminal sat on top of a Toydarian-sized desk. He didn’t see a Duros, but the shop’s back door was wide open. “Damn.”
Ralk closed up the shop, so to speak, and set about securing the living thugs, while Jor-Ost deleted the security footage. He also found an email from someone that seemed to be asking about purchasing Quell from Jermo. The username was unfamiliar, but the Toydarian had flagged it Tylli. He showed the captain.
Daneb spoke softly to Tasha. “You scared the daylights out of ‘em. He’ll be fine when he wakes up, and the others are gone. ’S’all that matters.” She nodded her head towards the back room. “Come on.”
They heard dogs barking angrily behind the shop, and Daneb observed, “I think that’s our cue to go, folks.” Stragos nodded wordlessly, heading out the back door.
Ralk nodded. “If that’s everything we can get here, let’s move. Stragos, can you light this place up before you go?”
The Cathar gave him a quizzical look. “In my sleep. But there goes our man,” he said, pointing toward the Night Market. “Purple jacket.” He grinned. “I’ll catch up.” Tasha started off in pursuit of their quarry.
“Seriously, Boss?” Daneb asked, straightening with alarm.
“Are you sure you want to set a fire on a space station?” Jor-Ost added, as he collected what ammo he could find.
Ralk turned toward the pair of them. " Jermo only listens to profit. I need to show him that double crossing us only results in a hemorrhage of credits."
Daneb raised her eyebrows and then her hands in mock-defeat. “Sure, Boss. Whatever you say, Boss.” Petey beeped excitedly at her as she exited the shop.
“We could do that without setting the station on fire…” muttered Jor-Ost, before he headed out the back door and followed the others.
The crew saw the Duros winding his way through the crowded and noisy Night Market. They also saw a number of thugs closing on his position. And theirs.