Published: November 14, 2015
Mars wasn’t at all sure about the new kid, but that was only because he was too damned good looking,and way too damned cocky to be this cool looking. He had a nice coat, what was for sure, and he carried himself like he knew better’n a jedi knight how to tussle, but this was the last place on earth a rutting teenager should be, and he wasn’t really certain on the age of this one; he had the look of a kid just past puberty who was really good at passing for a kid just on the cusp of manhood.
Still, though, the blaster at his hilt wasn’t at all bad to look at, and he kept his hand near it, comfortably, and he seemed edgy, around this many thugs, which was good. Marshin didn’t know how odd he really was, but he liked the way he talked, so far, and now that he thought about it, he was hoping to get a few of these yahoos killed off, here and there, so his runs for Macxin weren’t so damn dangerous all the time. They were out for blood, more often than not, and they weren’t even good at hiding it, and he was damn tired of trying to figure out how not to get shot with his own merchandise, because these assholes pissed off just about everybody they talked to, so he wasn’t going to let up on the interrogation, with this kid, in a nice and easy roundabout fashion, to see if he had the guts to stick around with Marshin’s new crew he’d just decided he was putting together, so he could ditch these assholes and actually hang onto a decent ship, for once in his life.
Having a crew ready to kick the shit out of a tough customer so you could defend what was yours, when working for an animal like Macxin was a must, and come to think on it, Marshin didn’t really think he liked the term animal to describe Macxin, because he liked animals, and on the whole they were easy to get trust from, but Macxin was a squirrely little fucker, and he was damn tired of cleaning up the mess he left making room for new inmates in that little cell block of his. Macxin wasn’t opposed to a jedi council back on Coruscant, but these new jedi, the ones trainer by the Skywalker clan, were deadly as fuck and didn’t answer to anybody but themselves. It scared the shit out of a gun runner like Macxin, because a council, whatever form it took, ended up having politicians involved in it, and politicians could be bought. He remembered hearing about all the scum of the earth shitheads who had Mace Windu on the payroll, and wondered why the jedi hadn’t ever been better about covering his tracks. Probably just shrugged it off when his name came up in the investigations other jedi were conducting, and acted like it wasn’t surprising that people would try and sully his name.
It wasn’t, considering it was damn filthy in the first place. He never wanted cash money for his shit, either, and he was always cashing in on favors just when you knew you were fucked if you didn’t follow through, and it made people second guess their positions that the Force was all a bunch of hokum, so, shit, Windu was a skeezy bastard from the old days, and Marshin could barely remember that far back, these days, because he had to keep refocusing on the present a helluva lot more than he used to, to keep himself from getting shot up.
Oh, fuck and a handbasket. Marshin remembered how old he was, a good four and half thousand kilercycles, and the moment he did, taking one look at that jedi brat standing there in the room scared the shit out of him. This fucking new kid, Alex, he was called, was a fucking jedi, and he was old as shit, Marshin knew without a doubt, and he clubbed himself in the noggin, colloquially speaking, for forgetting to gage a gent’s age like that, and he realized that if Alex hadn’t wanted him to know how ancient he could be, in a moment’s notice, he’d never have guessed it, because the stance he took, just for a second, was an old lightsaber style thing Marshin remembered from back in the old days, before the Sith’s new golden boy Darth Vader decided to pretend to clean the galaxy of jedi.
Vader wasn’t all that bad, far as Marshin could recall. He preferred dealing with young Anakin Skywalker over Mace Windu any day, but Windu never had the knack for recognizing Marshin when he didn’t want to be noticed, like a good Vargin was wont to do, and that was how he knew he was crooked. Little Ani Skywalker though, he was something special, and no matter how many times Vargin ran into him, he never stopped using the name Darth Vader, way back before the fall of the old republic, because any time Anakin wanted to do something, with his partner, Ben, or without him, that the other jedi didn’t need to hear about, he’d use the name Darth Vader, and people didn’t fuck with Darth Vader, and they sure as hell didn’t rat him out. Marshin saw him Force choke some poor fucker once, and it scared the shit outa him. Anakin didn’t make a secret of it, or, Vader, rather, pardon the French initiative, he just held his hand up, pulling hard on the bastard’s breath cords, watching him choke out and fucking die, right there on the spot.
Marshin knew the fucker was a child molester, and not in a good way, and had been fixing to kill him himself, or figure someone else for the job, so he was happy as fuck that Vader got on the same page so quick, but what was scary was Darth was just introduced to the bastard before he decided to kill him, so Marshin guessed, or knew, rather, that he saw something fucked up in that old bastard’s damn cocky aura, and killed him on the spot for it, to send a message to all the other smarmy fuckers standing around that this was Darth Vader, and if you bring these fucking rebel scum around him, he’d fucking end them.
Marshin could never figure, back in those days, why the fuck Marshin even talked to little Ani that first day he met him, cuz the kid was scary as fuck even back then, but he was friendly to Marshin, and mean as fuck once one of Marshin’s greatest allies showed up. Marshin didn’t ever really have any great allies, so that was a code word for himself for piece of shit fuckfaced lowlife he wanted to maime and barbeque for some flesh raiders on some reever planet. Anyway, minute an enemy got around, little Ani Skywalker didn’t give a fuck about old Marshin, and even fucked him up once, just for show, which Marshin was mighty thankful for, given the hostile circumstances. You didn’t want to be friends with Darth Vader, really, so it was a good thing he made a good show of it.
He’d never known his name was Anakin till he visited some desert hellhole on call for the Hutts, and met some crazy ass old slave keeper who looked fucked up ten ways from which way, and saw old Darth Vader in behind her madness, which scared the fuck out of him, and she couldn’t stop raving about how proud she was of her brave little jedi, who was gunna come back and rescue her some day, when he was older, and she called him Ani a bunch of times, but Marshin eventually got out of her that his name was Skywalker. Anakin Skywalker.
He’d heard the name lots of times and it scared the shit out of him that she was basically telling him that Vader and Skywalker the wraith of a jedi knight were the same person, and he knew that way the hell out on this barren rock of a shithole, she wouldn’t have picked up the name Skywalker from someone else, since he was only really ever known in the other sectors, and it didn’t surprise him that little Ani Skywalker stayed the hell away from Hutt territory after he took off with a jedi captain and his pall, Ben Kenobi. It wasn’t hard to figure that Anakin Skywalker’s supposed jedi master, Kenobi, was the partner, Ben, he always never had at his side. Ben was around, when Vader was, but they never actually seemed to be together, so it scared the shit out of people when they’d just, be around the same places, using each other’s names casually, fucking with everyone’s heads, nice and good.
Kessel couldn’t quite believe, sorry, not Kessel, Kastel couldn’t quite believe how stupid he was for ever trusting Ben Kenobi not to fuck him up, after making a dip into the slave trade, thinking the old apprentice of Vader wouldn’t do him in, which is always what Marshin figured he was, having met the two of them, in actuality, but old Kenobi never even killed the guy, he just started talking to him, and got him in all kinds of crazy ass fucking circles in the way he was talking, and Mars had to remind himself to check the fuck out of that conversation before it killed him to, cuz he’d never seen a jedi mind trick so fucking lethal, cuz none of the shit Kessel ever said after that made a lick of fucking sense, thinking his name was Kessel and that a Kessel run was a hustling technique he’d invented, after he woke up on Marjin’s spacerock when he was nine, and learned how to fight jedi without letting them get at their space sabers, for without getting a lot out of the rest of them, he was a damned good star pilot, if anyone needed a better start to pilot than the shit rock he was born onto, if you catch the drift.
Kastel was a dangerous fucking animal before that one got through him, and he had so many fucking favors owed to him you could never trust yourself to slight him like you wanted, but he ended up burning the fuck out of all his old aliases, so no one else could ever pick them up and use em for bad, after he croaked, which didn’t take all that long, but he scared the shit out of all his investors too, so they pulled outa the biz half the time, or threw their backing into more reliable smugglers, for a change, like young Solo, who was a scary old bastard with the face of a champion and a wookie at his beck and call, like a crazy fucking bastard would have, so Kastel realized all those times he’d seen people pull off the stupid looking jedi mind tricks, with the cheesy wave of their hand and a repeated phrase, that was just to fuck people up in a different way, cuz nobody ever thought they’d fall for a jedi’s shenanigans, if it ever happened to them, you know?
Marshin was freaked the fuck out that all his memories of Darth Vader, back before the fall of the jedi council on Coruscant, were so vivid, just now, because he knew that it was reading this Alex kid’s aura that was tuning him into it, and Marshin hadn’t been getting into Force tricks like a hallucinogenic aura reading since he was a fucking animal tamer for a cycle and a half, back before he started this crazy fucking line of work with Macxin and his cleverer associates.
Anakin Skywalker never used his old name, after the fall of the jedi council, and everyone knew it was Darth Vader who’d cut the jedi down to size and killed half their elites, like old Windu, but Marshin didn’t know why the Sith thought they could claim the name Darth Vader, like they’d come up with it, because he never heard the name Darth Maul until years after the fucker was dead, and he heard of old Darth Sideous later on too, and a few other stupid ass fucking Darths, like Tyrantus, who was just that creepozoid Dooku, and he realized that the Sith had found out what a fucking demon this Darth Vader was, and acted like Darth was a title the Sith lords gave out willy nilly. It was stupid as fuck and it didn’t work at the slightest, cuz Vader was really good at killing Darths as well as jedi, and the Sith was never too careful about homicide in their own ranks, so everyone knew that Darth meant Vader, and Vader meant trouble for anyone who wanted to cross his red lighted blade or will power.
“Darth Vader never once put up with this shit from you, fuckhead, and you can sure as hell bet I won’t either,” he bellowed, knowing the name would throw the lot of them off. He was sick of this asshole, Freiger, and he wanted to kill him dead, but he wanted to wait for a better time for it, and he wanted to know for sure it was him that was the real brains behind it, which he often suspected wasn’t the case. “We’re out here on our own, dickhead, so listen the fuck up. I got half a mind to sign this Alex kid off as a lowlife cretin like the rest of ya and get my crew to exterminate ya, so I can keep some gozam anonymity!”
Casser took a cocky stance and smirked like a creep would, just then. “Are you out of your damn mind, Mars?”
“Don’t you call me Mars, ya fuckin’ animal! All my friends call me Marshin when Mars ain’t fuckin’ formal enough and they’re scared I’m about to cut ‘em down with a blaster round!” They’d all seen Marshin take a blaster round without flinching, and he was sure that none of them knew how to kill a varginoid like him, so they stayed their guns, for the moment, and listened well enough to curb his appetite for a bloodbath.
“I’m not riling you up, but I don’t think your crew’s gunna cut it here, Cap,” said Alex, not really phased by the outburst, but standing with his hand on his belt, like he was ready to snatch up his blaster, flashing his ignorance to the situation and looking like the cocky hid he was sure to be.
“What the hell does a little snot-nosed punk like you know about my crew, lowlife? Where the hell’d you come from, anyhow?”
Alex didn’t wait for a comeback to come to mind. He slugged him, and he hit hard, too, and for a second Mars was thinkin’ about the heavy beating Vader had given him, way the hell back in the day, just for show and a good outlet, and this hit hurt like hell, and didn’t stagger Marshin one bit.
The kid actually looked scared, when that happen, the clever little bastard, and he took a hasty step back, then another, ready for a fight he wasn’t sure he could handle, anymore.
“You get one, asshat,” said Marshin, looking hard at the kid while his own eyes went yellow and bloodshot, and his ears lay flat against his head, darkening till they blended in with his hairline, which freaked the hell out of just about everybody who didn’t know him or did, including Alex, bless his trepid soul. Marshin was pretty sure he wasn’t actually a jedi, like he’d guessed a few minutes ago, but that might just be because he was so goddamn jedi it hurt, and he had Marshin pegged, dead to rights, as an ally in this, and. . . oh son of a bitch. He was after the other Force users in Macxin’s holding cells, and he was gunna use Marshin’s resources to get to it.
He didn’t doubt Macxin wasn’t gunna make it out of this one alive, if this kid was as deadly as he looked, and he saw the look in his eyes, like he was so scared he was about to get thrashed that he was shifting his weight toward the exit, like he was ready to book it, and Marshin wanted to laugh, so he did, and he clapped Alex, hard, on the shoulder, giving him a jolt, and told him not to be so damn jumpy.
“If I wanted to rock you up, kid, you’d already be dead. I like you well enough after that slug, cuz I was insultin’ the shit outa ya and I wanted to see what would happen for it.”
Freiger’s com went off, just then, and they knew that Macxin was ready to see the lot of them before he said it, Alex included, and he wondered which one of the creeps here had had the transmitter on the whole time, so Macxin could listen in on his would be gun runners, pretending to be busy while they waited for him to call them into his office, just then.
Marshin wasn’t sure he could trust this kid, Alex, to deliver, on and off, but that was because he was so damn good at looking helpless in the face of a shattered ego that Mars kept doubting what he’d seen on the inner, just then, and he knew he had to let his mind go free for a while, and trust in his instincts, so he didn’t have to be thinking of the Force so goddamn much out loud, and he could just be a part of it, like he was used to.
He wondered if that made him a jedi, too, and his reflex kicked in and blocked that thought out right before it hit him, so he was clearheaded and wild by the time they got in to see Macxin, and he was ready for whatever came next, putting all that old soul crap to sleep and almost forgetting why he’d used the name Darth Vader like he knew the guy for the boys, just then.
He didn’t, right? Vader was long dead, they said, and he was pretty sure that was true. Old Skywalker’s boy had done him in, and that was the truth of it, so far as he could figure, in the present company.
Macxin’s little sith freak was in the room, and Mars didn’t pay him any mind, but Alex did, and he did his best to try and not look scared, but it showed anyway, and that seemed to please the creepy fuck just as much as he could get off in a single evening. Damn this kid was good. Mars realized he was about to have a hell of a lot more fun than he was used to, these days, and he wondered just how many jedi little Alex had on call, when he dropped the coat and blaster for his warrior gi and lazerblade. This kid was old school, and Macxin didn’t know what his connection to Vader was, but he was lovin’ the insights his mind’s eye were giving him, just then, on all the creepy bastards in the room, and Macxin’s plan to do the lot of them in, sometime soon, so he appreciated getting high as hell off the kid’s presence, and wondered what the next insight would turn him into.
Varganoid didn’t mean anything, really, but they sure as hell didn’t know that, and Macxin had been thinkin’ of lookin’ a little more wookie lately, so he started putting the changes together, in his mind’s eye, and resolved to drop in on one of their outposts, nowhere near Kasheek, mind you, so he could get a feel for the attitude, once again.
“I’d like you all to meet somebody,” Macxin was sayin’, and he’d changed his mind, it seemed about killin’ all of them, and that was good for his health.
A door opened inward, and some boy was marched in in some gnarly ass, old school barbed metal shackles, that cut into his bleeding wrists, and a choker that looked like it could gorge into him, given a good tug from the wrangler trailing the poor little bastard.
He didn’t look haggard, though, but serene, and that wrankled half the jons in the room half near a conniption fit. He was jedi, by the look of it, from one of the temples in another sector. His gi wasn’t dark, it was white, and he looked like he was sure he would be okay, no matter what, though nobody there saw a way out of this, for him.
Macxin slicked back his greased up hairdo and smiled like he was bad at it, flashing his ugly as fuckin’ chompers. “This fine young jedi knight came to see us off today. Anyone guess who gets to cut his slay him for us, today?”
“If you don’t say Alex,” said Fitz, “I don’t know what the fuck you brought that little snot in here for.”
“Very good, Mr. Fitz!” Hargled fuckin’ aliens, Macxin was ugly when he grinned in a manner he figured as dubious, more’n like, Mars figured out loud, in his head, lookin’ at the old geezer like he was rank as fuck. The geezer was the sith freak, and he wasn’t old, so much as creepy as fuck’n hell’s bitchy fuckslave.
Alex took a hurried step back and looked at Macxin, not the jedi he was s’posed to execute, somehow. “Are you crazy?” He wasn’t even slightly not scared by the idea. “No one can kill a jedi!”
Macxin didn’t laugh, but he looked frightened, which wasn’t odd, because Alex was tryin’ to make good as a henchman, and he didn’t hesitate like Macxin was out of his fuckin’ hairline for the very idea of such a suggestion, let alone an order he couldn’t keep up, here.
“No one can kill a jedi?” the sith freak said mockingly, like that was gunna shame him for the superstitious outburst nobody saw comin’ but nobody doubted he believed, all the same.
“I’m not foolin’, rex! He’s a goddamn jedi and I ain’t touchin’ him with nothin’ but a ticket home, y’hear? I got no idea how they do that shit they do, and I got no clue how to kill someone who’s chained and barbed and looks like it’s a pleasant eve under a moonsky, savvy?”
They all looked pretty shaken because, really, none of them had ever killed anyone who looked so jedi as this fellow, and yet he was chained and barbed, and he did look resolved to die, or. . . resolved for something, anyhow. Alex wasn’t stepping forward, and Macxin didn’t look like he could follow through with the order, lest he be committing suicide by it.
“I ain’t got no idea what a sith can do to a person’s soul,” he said then, and nobody knew why till he picked his stuttering alibi up again with; “but I ain’t raised a finger against you, cap’n,” he said to the sithy freak, “an’ I know sure as I know hellfire ain’t icewater that that sorta thing makes a damn big difference, here. I ain’t getting’ lethal with a force using freak, not matter what his angle, if he looks like he ain’t even need a lightsaber to kill a man with his hands in his pocket!”
He hadn’t used that dialect before, when he’d spoken to the men, so he looked all the more like a boy who’d learned a new tongue for his cocky stride, and was breaking it under intense pressure, and breaking the hell out of all the men gathered there, because not one of them looked like they wanted to follow through on it themselves, either, though you could sure as hell bet they’d wanted to the minute they learned he was a chained up Force usin’ yahoo they could nail, nice and pretty, to the ceiling fan or some such execution they’d dreamt up.
“You’re not a fool, and that’s well and good,” said Macxin, “and more than good enough for me to want you on the team, Alex, if I may call you such. Have a surname, there, young Alex?”
“Not that I care to name in front of a sithy lookin’ fuck like that and a jedi. I doesn’t know what they can do with a man’s true name, and all that.”
“Nothing, I assure you, little boy,” said the sith-like freakozoid.
“I ain’t nothin’ less scared a you than I was, you Force exuding sycophant, but I sure as hell ain’t takin’ your word on that one, y’hear?”
Mars laughed, and wanted to chuckled, but he looked at Macxin like he was angry. “You want to scare the kid into submission on your own time, Macxin, you can go for it, but I ain’t here to watch you terrify your only henchman with a healthy set of superstitions on him for shit he don’t understand, y’hear?” he clarified, sure he’d taken an tug of the boy’s accent in his quandary of an alibi.
Something was happening with the jedi kid, and that was strange as hell. The dead to rights, jedi, and not the one with the blaster at his hilt. He looked defeated, for the first time ever, and not a soul in that room didn’t notice it. Them deciding not to try and kill him pissed him off, and that was freaky as all hell, and the coolest shit Mars had ever seen in his life.
He hadn’t met a pair of jedi so dangerous since he’d come up on Vader and his ally Ben killing a horde of for’gruens with an ale song, and he wondered just what the hell these two plotted on the inner, just then. Shit. This was a lot cooler than his last jedi run in, and Mars hoped the new guy new he weren’t an enemy, neither.
Nah, he didn’t hope that. This new guy might be dumb as hell. He wasn’t, that was for damn sure. But he mighta been, so Marshin pretended that could be true, for a thought or two, then forgot it in favor of pushing this little meetup along, nice and slow, so Macxin didn’t get, nah, he got pissed instead. “Are we fuckin’ serious with this? I got about as much nonverbal bullshit as I can take today, gov’ner. Get this fuckin’ jedi outa my face and send that little sithy freak outa here too. I ain’t got time for your showboatin’, Macxin, so let’s get the fuckin’ guns loaded and get our fuckin’ payday, savvy?”
Freiger couldn’t hold it in. “Marshin’s never made me like him less one second, then love him more the next. Get those two freaks out of here and let’s get this shit on the road.”
“Down to business, then,” said Macxin, and he sent the wrangler and keepsake kid away, with the sith freak behind him, to keep tabs on the young jedi in waiting.
“This is the scariest meetup you’ve ever had, Macxin,” said one of the showboats Mars couldn’t remember a name for, just then. “Who’s the occasion?”
“Darth Vader,” said Macxin, sure as he could level with them. “He’s alive, they say, and someone’s killed his precious emperor, so he’s loose, and no one knows what his end game is, anymore.”
“What the hell’s that got to do with us?” asked a good little wise guy named Alex, who clearly didn’t know the fear the name Vader was supposed to strike in him.
“Nothing, but it has everything to do with the government shipment you’re about to hit for a shipment like we’ve never seen before. Someone’s making a power play, and if we don’t have a cache like this when Vader comes knocking for allies in whatever he’s scheming, I don’t doubt he’ll have the lot of us killed for high treason against his hallowed empire, understood?”
That sounded like bullshit, but it wasn’t uncommon for someone to try and use a boogy man like Vader’s name for scaring his crewmen nice and good, from time to time. It could be true, by the way he spoke of it, and hitting a big shipment like he was getting’ at sounded juicy to this bloodthirsty, greedy lot, just then.
“Who’s government?” Alex asked, sure that was the right question, just then.
“The Hutts’,” answered Macxin’s assistant, who’d had his head down at Macxin’s desk the whole meeting through.
“Oh hellwater,” said Alex, grinning ear to ear. “This is gunna be fun, and I ain’t got nothin’ but hate for slugs and gangsters what treason our precious emperor’s goons.” The sentiment wasn’t lost on the crew gathered, and he actually got the lot of them laughing. They all had paydays and death wishes getting them hard or flaccid or whatever got these freak gun runners off, these days. Mars didn’t say anything except, “Who’s afraid of the big bad Hutts?”
They all were, as it turned out, but that only excited them more. Damn bunch of crazies, they were, so Marshin made himself a little crazier just then, and he could see Alex doing it too. Neat trick, that. He hoped Darth Vader didn’t come knocking when they had a jedi in a barbed collar, though. . . Marshin figured him for a transcendentalist, anyhow.
Nobody even budged when Alex flitched across the room and sliced drove a knife through Macxin’s desk assistant’s throat, yanking his blaster free in the next moment and leveling it at Macxin’s ugly ass head. “No Alex, no payday!” he warned the whole crowd of them before anyone made a move for their weapons.
Macxin didn’t look too amused by the development, but he didn’t look irate, neither. He just flinched, when the gun was leveled at him, and said, “don’t be so dramatic, Alex. If you didn’t like Gothins you could have just said so.”
“I just did,” said Alex, and he put his blaster down, a second, before holstering it and standing up straight, making it clear that he wasn’t looking for a fight.
“Bigoted fucking animals,” Mars growled. “I’m too old for this old world bullshit.”
“Yes, yes, humans for supremacy, blah blah. Can we get paid now?” asked Fitz.
One of Macxin’s servants entered, and didn’t blanch at the dead Gothin behind the boss’s desk. “Mr. Macxin, there’s a jedi girl on the starbase. She’s been seen at the hawkers’ hall and on the ship docks.”
Macxin didn’t looked pleased by it. “That’s one too many at a time, even in chains. Send Vestrr and the acolytes. I want her dead, and make sure he brings me her lightsaber and heart, for good measure.”