“A thousand quinlars for that? You can’t be serious.”
Jazo eyed the shipment of Paltharian neurostimulants quizzically. The delivery systems looked clean, but there was something off about the goods.
“What… Are you…”
The dealer was flabbergasted. He heaved and jutted his jaw.
“Grayzar, Monnus,” he said, nodding towards the tidily-dressed Remian goons on either side of him. “Do my ears deceive me? Is Mr. Jazo telling me what I think he’s telling me?”
“I do think he is, boss,” Monnus replied, adjusting his collar.
“I have to say, I do believe he is, Mr. Kalthrax,” Grayzar answered in studied enunciation.
Kalthrax stepped forward, bringing his nose within an inch of Jazo’s face. He began breathing deeper, his deep-set Remian eyes boring a hole through the suspected deception. He lowered his voice. “Mr. Jazo, with the generous terms I provided you, I thought this would be an offer you couldn’t refuse. Are you telling me you’re changing your mind?”
“Changing my mind?” Jazo laughed. “No, Kalthrax. I’m not changing my mind. If I were changing my mind, that would mean I would have even considered paying money for this ‘product’ in the first place.”
Kalthrax’s eyes furrowed. Jazo couldn’t tell if the Remian was trying to understand him, or contemplating the slowest way to rend him limb from limb.
“Grayzar,” Kalthrax beckoned, fixing his gaze on Jazo.
“I cannot seem to remember, what happened to the last person who attempted to back out on us?”
The lackey locked his hands behind his back, and stared straight ahead as he answered. “He found himself adrift one morning in the oceans of Regus VII. We gave him a nice pair of duro-meteorium shoes to wear for the occasion.”
“I see. Thank you for refreshing my memory. So, Mr. Jazo, allow me to ask again, just what it is you’re saying.”
Jazo looked into the Remian’s eyes.
“I’m not buying your duped stims. Find a new mark.”
“Ku’ba’a!” Kalthrax stepped back, brandishing a concealed Remian particle blaster.
“Lovely.” Jazo vaulted forwards, throwing his weight into Kalthrax’s knees. The statuesque Remian buckled, barely giving him time to notice the fist that was flying knuckle-first into his jaw. His two henchmen fumbled with their blasters in the confusion. Jazo threw his elbow across Grayzar’s face, laying the hoodlum out cold. He quickly dove over to Kalthrax’s motionless body to arm himself. By the time Monnus was able to take aim at his adversary, he found that he was looking down the rifling of a barrel.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
Monnus surveyed the limp bodies of his two erstwhile allies. His face went sullen.
“Why don’t you just take a few steps back, now?”
He obliged. Jazo motioned for his antagonist to put down his weapon.
“Nice and easy, friend.”
He slowly lowered the particle blaster to the floor.
“Now, kick it over here.”
Monnus wound up a kick and sent the blaster sailing straight into his assailant’s face, sending him reeling. The Remian tackled Jazo, hurling him on the floor and throwing his particle blaster several feet away. Both began scrambling towards the gun.
“Damnit, you… hrk… aren’t going to – ” Jazo’s speech was cut short, as Monnus wrestled his way out of grip. He dashed towards the particle blaster, while Jazo sprang towards Grayzar’s body, the thug’s fingers still tightly clutching his weapon. Before long, the two found themselves staring down their sights at each other a second time.
“This, again?” Jazo said.
“It would appear so, Mr. Jazo. Only this time – ”
Jazo interrupted, blasting out the light fixture above his head. The luminous burst blindsided Monnus, who unleashed a volley of returning fire. Jazo quickly threw himself to the floor, and the blasts sailed harmlessly over Jazo’s prone body. A split-second was all that Jazo needed to line up a shot. Monnus took aim, only to find that his gun had been blown to pieces.
“Only this time,” Jazo smirked, a bit of glass falling off his head, “what?”
Monnus grimaced and began swearing to himself.
Jazo flipped open his wrist-mounted holocomm, still waving his gun at the exasperated Monnus.
“Swoob, how’s she holding up?”
A distant voice echoed in. “All systems are nominal here, Jazo. How’d your deal go?”
“Can’t say I’m any worse for wear. Patch yourself through to the Paltharian Chief of Security and get me a meeting.”
“What? No. Jazo, you can’t really – ”
“Just do it, Swoob. I know she’ll be dying to meet some new friends of mine.”