50,000 Reasons to Hide (Vatak’ultuka Crew SWTOR)
Salrik Agapor didn’t wait for the doors of the repulsar lift to open before he bellowed, “GIRLS! DO NOT EVEN THINK TO HESITATE GETTING ALL THREE PAIRS OF LEKKU IN THIS OFFICE!” There wasn’t a hint of humour in his voice. Not this time. Normally the Nar Shaddaa native had deviously sweet and warm outlook on the three Twi’lek women. Today however, the man was not amused.
Poy ducked behind Naast without a second thought and tried to use the Mandalorian guard as a shield; he humoured her to the edge of the lift before pushing her out. “Not this time, sunny.” As the lift descended she could hear the whistling chide of Gida, the massive Twi’lek striding past the Smuggler.
“We dun karked up, Numa.”
“At least we got the job done.” She shrugged, taking up Gida’s slow stride.
“And a bunch of Sith attention.” Gida’s lips were pursed in what Poy decided had to be the most derisive smile she had ever seen.
“That was supposed to be reassuring, like it’ll make us stars, right?”
“Mmno.” The small voice of the young Tyrian that lurked behind the two women, “Koyi thinks that Gida was using sarcasm.”
“Frotz.” The three groaned and unison and quickly made their way into the office of Salrik Agapor.
Salrik sat, halfway leaned up against the front of his desk. Poy knew it was a bad situation when she saw he was actually smoking the cigar. Gida groaned when she noticed the open bottle of Whyren’s Reserve sitting open on the edge of the desk and only one glass out. Koyi clung to the back of Poy’s belt and peered carefully around her hip. “One of you tell me, for the sake of my sanity, why the crew of the Vatak’ultuka now has a FIFTY THOUSAND CREDIT BOUNTY on its collective lekku?”
Gida pointed to Poy and sidestepped. “All you, Numa.”
Koyi offered the Smugger a pat on the back before she went to slink behind Gida. “Koyi thinks she’s safer when he’s mad.” Were her departing words of reassurance.
Poy brought a hand to her hip, her weight shifting with a sway of her hips. “So…Sally baby…”
“Cut the bantha poodoo.”
She stood up straight, “We got the data transmission from Sark Transportation Solutions, simple enough gig. All we had to do was pick up a shipment of weapons bound for Ord Mantell…”
“Twenty-five crates, compliments of some Soroccan friends.” Niki Sark said with a grin and brushed her hands off on her pants as she walked down the loading ramp of the Vatak’ultuka.
Poy let out a low whistle and handed her cigarette to the Zabrak woman. She took it with a small and grateful smile, “And all for the Republic.”
“Lets hope they kick some ass out there. If they don’t we’re going to be looking for another haven.”
“We. We.” Poy moved to whack Neikei upside the head but rethought the idea upon a second look at the horns that poked through her black hair. “What is this we poodoo? You retired, you get to live in the great hive of order.”
“I had to survive. You haven’t even been tested yet.” She pushed the Twi’lek towards the freighter, chuckling. “Get that shit-box you call a ship to Ord Mantell! You’ll like how the Professor grades you on this one!” Poy could hear Niki yelling long after she climbed into the ship. She flopped down into the pilot’s seat shortly after hearing the ramp thunk closed and looked to Koyi; the Tyrian Twi’lek girl was sitting half curled in the co-pilot’s seat.
“Got the coords programmed in?”
“Koyi was able to navigate a course using the Hydrian Way.”
Poy shook her head, “No, there’s going to be alot of Sith traffic. We’re going to have to go with a series of mini-jumps until we’re out of the Core systems.”
The younger Twi’lek let loose an exasperated and overly dramatic sigh, “Koyi thinks that we’ll raise more attention by avoiding Hydrian Way. The Sith are going to be expecting transports.”
“So, either way…”
“We need to think creatively.” Koyi nodded to emphasize that was in fact, her decision on the matter.
“You’re not helping.”
“Koyi isn’t helping.”
Poy narrowed her eyes over the girl. “GIDA!” She yelled and pulled her goggles over her eyes, slowly looking out the viewport.
“That’s all I needed to hear.” Poy mumbled and transmitted the request to take off. Once recieved, she fired off the thrusters and navigated them away from the docking station.
Salrik raised a finger and rolled his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. “Please tell ONE of you thought to contact the Republic forces you’re currently contracting with, Vanguard, right?”
Poy swallowed hard despite the fact that her mouth was beyond dry. “Oh, sure Sally. Of course we did. “
“You went straight to Ord Mantell, didn’t you?”
Poy nodded quickly.
Salrik used every ounce of self-restraint he had accumulated in his years dealing out Twi’lek girls to not facepalm.
“Ayup.” Gida chided.
“Koyi was sure the direct route…”
“Koyi!” Salrik Agapor and Poy exclaimed.
“You went straight to Ord Mantell.”
Poy nodded slowly, her lips drawn into a thin line. She almost looked sheepish, if that sheep was staring at a snarling wolf with bloodied teeth.
Poy acquiesced to Koyi. They would take the Hydrian Way all the way up to Ord Mantell. The Tolian Twi’lek remained in her chair as if pinned; her hand prepared to pull them out of hyperspace with the ping of the sensors. She could hear the other two in the back of the ship, pushing the crates into the drop pods for delivery. Koyi had painstakingly entered in the numbers previously with Poy and Gida over her shoulder making her repeat the coordinates at least a dozen times to be absolutely sure the crates would land in Republic bases.
Schutta sat perched in the co-pilot’s seat, his head whipping back each time a particular star caught his eyes.
“Spend my days with a Twi’lek unkind.” She sang low, her voice not quite carrying throughout the ship. “Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine, made up my mind, make a new start…” As she sang, she began to finally relax, the goggles being slid up to the top of her head as she leaned back in her chair. “Goin’ to Tatooine with an achin’ in my heart, someone told me there’s a pika out there, with love in her eyes and flowers ion her lekku.”
Schutta looked over at Poy and chittered loudly, his sounds on the verge of breaking a new pitch that Poy wasn’t quite sure if her ears would pick up. “Everyone’s a critic.” She huffed, pushing herself out of her seat to go into the back to join the other two. Koyi and Gida both grunted a greeting when Poy walked into the galley, turning on her kettle and fishing out a clump of munch fungus to shove in her mug. The two women were haunched over the galley’s table; attentions focused on a heated game of sabacc. She wasn’t sure if either of them actually knew how to play.
The kettle didn’t finish heating when the buzzing call of the hyperdrive sounded.
“Koyi has it Poy!” The Tyrian shouted as she raced for the cockpit, Poy looked to the kettle. Another minute. She looked to Gida, an expectant look on her face and wondering why she was still waiting on her tea.
The Vatak’ultuka shook.
“POY POY!” The shrieking call of Koyi filled the halls of the ship.
The freighter shuddered again.
Gida ran for the gun turret along the roof. Poy broke for the cockpit. No words passed between them, just that look of a plausibly fatal obstacle.
Aayapoy’shiri heard the blaster fire from the turret before her ass made contact with the pilot’s seat. Her fingers raced over the console, turning over firing controls to Koyi before disengaging the auto-pilot in time to swerve out of the path of an oncoming interceptor. “I said REPUBLIC space, Koyi!”
“Koyi put in the exact coordinates you entered.”
Poy looked down at the navicomp. “Kark.” She hissed, Koyi was right. She hadn’t double checked the coordinates before relaying them.
“KARK!” She heard Gida scream; the frighter rocked with an explosion. “NOT US! CHI’AKI WAS TOO CLOSE!”
Koyi giggled at Gida’s shouts and pulled down her own set of goggles. Her small nimble thumbs punching at the triggers to fire off the blasters with incredible speed. In the distance a freighter exploded and her mouth gaped open. “Shiiiiiiiiiny.” She cooed. A mere second passed before she set the tip of her tongue between her teeth and focused her attention through the viewport. Koyi haunched over the gun controls, “ZAP! PEW! ZWIIIIIIII!”
Salrik Agapor raised a finger again and Poy immediately stopped speaking. She rolled up onto the balls of her feet and leaned forward a bit, “Yes, Sally, my dear swee-”
“Poy.” He interupted.
“Don’t try to placate me.”
“Ayup.” She nodded and settled back onto her feet.
“Did she really say, ‘Zap. Pew. Zwii’?” He asked with a raised brow and clenching that damned cigar between his teeth once more.
Poy again rolled up onto the balls of her feet and bowed down as she held out a hand to Koyi. The young Tyrian poked her out from behind Gida and gave Salrik the sweetest smile the could manage. Koyi nodded twice rather slowly before ducking back behind the massive Trooper.
“I hire you girls to be professional!”
“Sally, no one can hear what’s said in the Vatak’ultuka.”
“You could’ve left it out of the line of poodoo you’re feeding me.”
Poy nods and stands straight once more. “Point made.”
“You made the mistake of giving Koyi the coordinates into Sith space. You wound up on their radar, fine. I get that, everyone falls into heat now and then. But fifty thousand credits isn’t the bounty you put on some chubas ass of a smuggler!”
A flurry of BT-7’s met the trailing interceptors full on; Poy rolled the freighter into the safety of Republic space. There was no pause to her actions as she slammed her hand on the comm to begin transmitting her code. Last thing she wanted was friendlies firing on her. Koyi jumped up from the co-pilots seat and spun around the cockpit, waving her arms akimbo. “B–”
The freighter slipped into the atmosphere of the planet; Koyi racing to the back of the ship to launch the drop-pods. Her sing-song rhymes carrying to the cockpit. Gida say behind Poy, her feet kicked up on the center console.
Poy held the Vatak’ultuka in orbit as she waited for Koyi to return the cockpit and verification of arrival. Her gaze was more watchful of the horizon than the sensors, the war torn and crime ridden colonies of Ord Mantel passing beneath them.
The sensors beeped, signaling an inbound bogey just as Koyi skipped; singing into the cockpit. The comms chimed with verification of delivery. The sound of the sensors was lost in the racket.
Just as the Vatak’ultuka broke atmosphere; it shuddered.
“Poy, poy, the Sith are back.”
Gida jumped up and strode for the back, all too happy to be handling the blaster turret once more. Poy relinquished control of the blasters to Koyi again; the girl offering a nearly maniacal giggle in return. Her wrists curled towards the yolk of the freighter to pull the nose of the freighter around to face what was on their six. The retrofitted BT-7’s remained tight on their tail. From the sounds Gida was making in the turret; perhaps too close. The transport that faced them however, bore the marks of a Hutt clan.
“GIDA!” Poy screamed over the sounds of the blasters and slammed her fist against the console to deactivate Koyi’s blasters.
The freighter shuddered.
Poy and Koyi watched as the Hutt Transport exploded; the young Tyrian cooing with amusement at the sparking flecks of orange and yellow.
Gida hooted triumphantly.
Poy saw her life flash before her eyes.
“BITCH! THEY RUNNIN’!” She shouted in return; another symphony of blaster fire.
There was silence for a moment.
Gida climbed down from the turret, “What?”
“Did you LOOK before you fired?!”
“Then why did you fire?”
“The Hutts keep buying us. If we take one out we lower the demand.”
The Smuggler stared out at the stars as she processed through her disbelief. Slowly, she regained her thoughts and hit the comm. “We made the grade but failed on the extra credit. Need to talk to the Professor.”
“Need some tutoring next time?”
“And for the next while.”
Salrik watched Poy squirm when she finished talking. He wasn’t all too sure what she expected him to say. After a moment he held out a hand to motion her to come over to him, she did so. Perhaps she was hoping for a shot of whiskey or a pat on the shoulder. He whacked her upside the lekku and grabbed onto it, pulling her head to his face and laying a fat, wet kiss atop her head. “You’re a karkin’ idiot, sometimes.” He whispered to her and pushed her back. “Sit and wait for your punishment. Like a good girl, for me, this once.” Poy sat on the couch, resting her elbows on her knees as she leaned forward.
Salrik looked to the other two. “Like any other person unfortunate enough to call themselves a smuggler; Poy is prone to absolute bantha shit and exaggerations larger than a Bounty Hunter’s ego. You’re both going to tell me what happened.”