Posted by Darth Krzysztof
Kenzi entered Tondra Has’s shop, looking around the mountains of crates. He followed the sound of Dra’s voice to find her negotiating with a portly Gran, but waited until the alien left before approaching her.
“Kenzi Vigil,” Dra said with a smile as she turned to face him. Offering her gloved hand, she said, “I was hoping you’d come walking back through my door.”
She’s speaking Basic, this time, Kenzi thought. You still need to keep it polite, though. He shook her hand; as before, she took it away before he could move to kiss it. Not that it’s as effective when the lady’s wearing gloves. So he bowed slightly, saying, “Something made it inevitable.”
“And what might that be?” Dra’s hands found her hips as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
“Fifteen crates of Chandrillian berry wheat you were looking to sell for better than 160 credits each.” He considered winking, but chose instead to let his tone tell the story.
Dra was willing to play along, if her smile was any indication. “Oh, right. That. Hold on, I don’t wanna be interrupted.” She went to lock the door, setting the sign to show ‘out to lunch’. “Unfortunately, the best I could do on those was one fifty-five. I would have held out for more, but I needed the space back.” She waved an arm at the stacks and stacks of crates that filled the shop. “Sorry about that.”
Kenzi raised a hand and put on a good-natured smile. “Don’t be; there’s no need. We both profited.”
“You more’n me, I’ll bet.” Dra took a moment to relay an address to a lifter droid. She turned back to Kenzi, looking him up and down. “Can I be honest with you?”
Don’t say ‘I don’t know, can you?’ “Your secrets are safe with me, Dra.”
“We’ll see about that. I don’t get many Corellians comin’ in here with only wheat to sell. It’s your accent,” she added before he could ask. “And the cut of your trousers. Truth be told, I thought you might be one of the Corellian Vigils, but if that were so, you wouldn’t have to stoop to dealin’ with the likes of me.”
“It’s not stooping,” he said at once, deciding not to go into his family history just yet. For all I know, she thinks the Vigils might pay a ransom for my return. “Is that what you meant last time? About sweetening the pot?”
“Sure,” Dra said, though she might have meant something else. “There’s a lot of demand in the galaxy, and a lot of Imperial interference with my ability to supply. I’m always in the market for… exotic goods.”
I had to chase after Vula before, Kenzi thought, otherwise we might have had this conversation last time. Unless… “I suppose you heard about what happened with my crew at the Meltdown.”
Dra nodded. “Word gets around. For being so big, Nar Shaddaa’s a sordid little town.” Her eyes sparkled when she smiled, a most peculiar shade of blue.
Kenzi got lost in the sight for a second before snapping out of it. “So you’re thinking that, since we helped Shandrize Ihali, we might have it in for the Empire, too?”
She waved a lazy finger at him. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Kenzi. Especially where Shandrize is involved.”
“Do you two have history? Or is she too much trouble?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Dra’s tone made it clear that it did matter, and that she was done talking about it. “The real question is, what am I going to do with you?” She quickly added, “And your ship?”
“We’re making a run out to Ord Ibanna. We need stim packs… liquor…” He counted off on his fingers through the rest of his list. “There’s more, but I forget. When we get back, we may be able to do ‘exotic’ business.”
Dra raised one delicate eyebrow. “Liquor and drugs. Sounds like fun. You almost make me wish I was going.”
“If you saw our ship, you’d probably prefer to stay.” Stupid. Why did you say that?
The musical sound of her laugh reminded Kenzi why he’d said it: to be funny. “Come on; let’s see what I’ve got on hand.”
Kenzi followed Tondra back into the warehouse; she glanced down at her pad now and again to help her navigate the maze of boxes. “You’re one of the youngest human captains I’ve ever met,” she tells him. “I thought maybe you’d bought a ship with some of that Corellian Vigil money.”
“Not exactly. I inherited her from my uncle.”
Dra glanced back over her shoulder at him. “Really? The only thing I ever inherited was blond hair.”
“It’s been… interesting. She has a lot of history I don’t know about. Someone named Boda the Hutt posted a bounty on her, and I don’t even know why.”
Dra stopped. Kenzi almost crashed into her.
“You know the name, I take it,” Kenzi said.
“You mean you don’t?”
He shook his head. “I’m still very new at this.”
“Wise up, then, Kenzi Vigil. Hutt bounties are serious business… and you can bet, as long as your ship’s on Nar Shaddaa, she might’s well have a target painted on her.” Dra started walking again, stopping at a stack of small white crates. “Okay, good. I have stim packs in stock.”
“Your pad didn’t tell you?”
She gave him a look. “Have you seen this mess? I don’t trust anything I don’t see with my own eyes.”
Kenzi ordered some. They then cross to the other end of the warehouse for liquor, where he tried to impress her with his knowledge of fine wines. She didn’t care for wine, herself, but she seemed to enjoy the conversation all the same.
As Dra pulled the order together to send back to the Errant Venture, they started back toward the store front. Kenzi said, “I want to ask a favor, Dra.”
She aimed a mischievous glance his way. “Why, do I owe you one?”
Kenzi shook his head. “It’s a big one, and if it’s too much to ask, then tell me to jump in a lake. I can swim well enough, but – “
“Just tell me what it is.”
“Can you find out why Boda the Hutt wants our ship?”
“Sure. No problem.” She tapped her lips with one finger. “That’s not all, is it?”
“Not quite. I know it isn’t just gonna go away, and I doubt I’m in any position to pay him off… I might need to arrange a meeting.”
Her eyes went wide, and she almost laughed. “A meeting? With Boda the Hutt?”
“No, of course not. One of his representatives, anyway. She isn’t Uncle Talan’s ship anymore. She’s mine. Ours. And I intend to keep it that way. Can you make that happen?”
“No, because it’s suicide!” Her gloved hands grabbed him by the shoulders. “Listen to me, Kenzi. If Boda wants your ship badly enough, he’s gonna get it. Asking him to leave you alone is not gonna work. Nobody’s that persuasive.”
“All right. What I need to know, then, is why he wants it. And how badly.”
She let go, then ran her hands through her hair as she let out a long breath. “That I can help you with. What’s your ship’s name, anyway? Her real name?”
She nodded. “Nice.”
“Thanks. I owe you one, Dra.”
“Damn right you do. Damn it, the one good man on Nar Shaddaa walks into my place, and I’ve got to help keep him from gettin’ killed….”
“Please, don’t stick your neck out on my account.”
“Nobody’s worth that,” she said with a rueful laugh. Then she tilted her head. “Well. Not so far.”
He tried to think of a reply, but nothing happens. That made her smile.
“Tell you what, Kenzi. You make your run to Ord Ibanna. I’ll have somethin’ for you when you get back.”
“About the Hutt? Or a job?”
“Could be. Could be somethin’ else entirely. You’ll just have to come back here and see…”