I awake afloat in bacta. How long have I been here? I remember screams and cheers… the GOMA tournament. My opponent Iza had defeated me, but spared my life in the final round – I should consider myself lucky given his ruthless reputation. The Eye’s medical staff release me, and I am sent home.
Returning to my quarters I am greeted with celebratory cheers and comforts from my fellow crew. Second best proven fighter in the galaxy, not a bad ring to it – but I suspect they are even more excited about their monetary winnings from the tournament, and perhaps that I am alive and well. What more could one ask for from his friends and family.
Truth is I am at a crossroad. Up until the GOMA tournament I knew my path… but after waking up in the bacta I feel less sure than I was before. The tournament was to be my final trial before returning to my homeworld as a true Wrruushi master – in fact, Master Worgf has already presented me with an opportunity to teach the next generation of Wrruushi martial artists back home.
Madame Khorash has asked me to join her at the Octagon, to be by her side. I have not yet told the others, but she was there when I was released from the bacta tank – and I must admit, I find myself drawn to her more so after every encounter we share. At first glance her pale white skin and facial tattoos might alienate those around her – but the skin is soft, and the tattoos are testaments to her stories, her past. I know what it feels like to be judged by looks alone, my whole race does.
For the very immediate future at least, my home remains The Traitor’s Gambit. We are travelling to Nar Shaddaa – the ’Smuggler’s Moon’ – a polarised city of bright neon lights and dark shady trade. Pilot Tyr had received a mysterious package which led us here. Despite its ill-reputation, I have always wanted to see this city, but there is no time to explore. Things move fast here, we end up at the entrance to a fancy restaurant called Outlook – and we are not the only ones – the Firecracker crew is here too! Not just a coincidence I am sure.
I try and make small talk with pilot Org and droid XT-10, but they seem distracted and unresponsive. Their captain Talia looks very nervous as she has a quiet word with friend Vrinko. I am starting to feel the tension too, I am no so sure this will end well, whatever it is this is. Pilot Tyr and captain Talia disappear into the restaurant through the front door, at which point the rest of us realise we are not on the guest list and are denied entry. Technician Manco heads back to the ship mumbling something about a sniper rifle, while I join friend Vrinko in finding an alternate way inside.
We wander around the building and find a wall to scale and ledges to hop between, until we find another door leading into the building. Walking through what appears to be the kitchen, we are stopped by a disapproving waiter as soon as we enter the main dining area. In an attempt to hush him I slap him across the face, knocking him out immediately – one would think this would draw the attention of everyone in the room, however, something else does that job.
A blaster goes off somewhere on the other side of the room. Guests begin to panic, there is suddenly a lot of movement. I look at where the blaster shot came from – I see Pilot Tyr, and I am not surprised. Sniper fire blasts through the balcony windows – technician Manco I assume. Friend Vrinko and myself make our way towards pilot Tyr taking down an assortment of henchman along the way, even saving the life of young Willa, captain Talia’s sister – the reason for her nervousness earlier becoming clear.
All of a sudden I see pilot Tyr fall to the ground, shot by the leader of the now dead henchmen scattered around the restaurant – his name is Gorman. I run to meet him face to face. He is a martial artist, I can tell by the way he deflects my swings, but the pug jumper gets scared and tries leaping off the balcony. I figure he has some answering to do given he just put a hole in my captain, so I grab him mid air and pull him back from the ledge.
The battle is over. Most of the guests have already fled, some less lucky lie dead amongst the broken glass and furniture. Only the sound of Gorman struggling to break from my grip can be heard. Pilot Tyr sits up resting against a sideways table, holding his bloody stomach with one hand, while examining his other robotic hand as if looking for faults or scratches. I throw Gorman to the ground next to Tyr, and just to be sure he does not attempt to escape again, friend Vrinko steps up and with one swift swing of his light-saber, chops off one of Gorman’s hands. Gorman passes out. We grab him and get back to our ship before more trouble arrives. Time to head home.
Not the experience I imagined from my first trip to Nar Shaddaa, but given its reputation, its one that perhaps I should have expected. We secure Gorman in the cargo bay, he is not the only extra passenger on our ship however. An old and close friend of pilot Tyr is here as well, Mal is his name, and it seems he has been through quite a bit – I cannot begin to imagine what Gorman had done to this man. I keep an eye out on Mal during the trip, but he appears in shock, his mind permanently shut-down apart from the occasional mumbling. My tea does little more than keep him warm – I guess that is something.
We arrive back on the Eye to find Gorman dead in our cargo bay with froth at his mouth – self induced it would seem. I accompany pilot Tyr as he checks Mal into the hospital, and then we meet the others at the Sell Sword for a drink with slicer Bella. We also catch up with the Firecracker crew for a round of drinks – it was a successful mission after all. Captain Talia looks so happy, the polar opposite of how she appeared outside the Outlook restaurant a few days ago. Her sister, young Willa, is safe and sound sitting with us at the table. She means the world to captain Talia. She is her family.
Despite my continuous reflections on my metaphorical crossroad, I was able to get a full nights sleep. We have breakfast together as a crew. Pilot Tyr is looking a little better today, his wound must be healing quite well, and I know he is relieved to have Mal close by on the station. Friend Vrinko looks like his mind is a little pre-occupied, but then he is not as easy to read any more, ever since he moved out on his own – he seems to be spending a lot of his time alone these days.
My thoughts and our breakfast is interrupted suddenly by what appears to be a station-wide emergency news announcement. Everyone at the shop raises their head to listen in. It sounds like some kind of call-to-arms, crews and abled personnel are needed. But why? Mumbling, whispers, and hushes can be heard from the surrounding tables. After about a minute of dramatic and patriotic announcements, the broadcast finally reveals the truth. Cutlery can be heard clanking as they are dropped from all around, including my own. An Imperial fleet is inbound for the Eye.
The Empire is attacking our home.