Swoob took a moment to consider the gambit he’d just played. Allarias may have hated compromise, but she was a shrewd bargainer. Jazo and his pilot had what she wanted, and without their help, she’d never get it. They could deliver Kalthrax, alive and well, right into the arms of the law.
Unfortunately, she could do the same to Swoob and Jazo.
The holocomm began to blink.
“Swoob, it’s Jazo. How did it go?”
“It looks like we’re about to find out.” Swoob nervously began grinding his teeth. “I hope you know what you’re doing…”
“Relax, Swoob. She’s going to take the bait. Now, I’ve got Kalthrax and his friends here with me on the station. If I know Allarias half as well as I think I do, you’ll be getting an incoming hail any se – ”
An auxiliary light lit up on the holocomm panel. Jazo grinned as he wipped some of the soot off of his projector’s vidscreen. “There you go. You know what to do.”
Jazo closed his comm channel, turning to finish securing a now-conscious Kalthrax. Grayzar had come to as well, and he and Monnus sat restrained on either side of the space station’s docking bay. The tall Remian glared at Jazo, who met his eyes with all the self-assurance in the world.
Kalthrax began to laugh.
“You.” The dealer’s ominous laughter continued. Grayzar looked up and affected Kalthrax’s mirth. “You,” Grayzar nervously echoed. He elbowed Monnus and nodded his head in Kalthrax’s direction. Monnus followed suit, throwing in a resigned chuckle. “You, you, you,” they all continued.
Kalthrax shot a dark glance towards his two cohorts. An immediate quietude washed over the room.
The boss resumed his cruelly jovial tone. “I do not think you realize the proportions of the mistake you’re about to make.”
Jazo rolled his eyes. “If I had a pentaquinlar for every time I heard that…”
Kalthrax’s twistedly jocular expression changed instantaneously.
“What is that, is that a joke I hear?”
Jazo nodded as he began to check his particle blaster.
“Are my biolinguistic neuroimplants firing on the synapses I think they’re firing on?”
Kalthrax lost his composure and began shouting. “What am I, a clown? I amuse you? I tell you funny things?”
Jazo shook his head angrily. “Yes, Kalthrax, you’re a clown. Soon, you’ll be the laughingstock of the entire Remian underground. The PFIA is going to put your face on every galactic news vid from here to Sol. How many xenolife sentences is it for trafficking, extortion, neurostim dealing, and murder, anyways?”
“Sentences? You think I’m worried about sentences, here?” Kalthrax retorted. “Did Ru’ani Safar have anything to say when I drowned his mother-in-law? Where was Keeling Azgar of Azgamus when I holoforged the deeds to his estate? Even the Malanori Grand Rustaff wouldn’t speak up to save his kingdom!”
Jazo sarcastically raised his eyebrows.
“The most powerful people in the galaxy wouldn’t cross me to save their own lives. I’ve got shell companies within fences within shell companies, and most of them are on other planets, in other solar systems. I’m untouchable, I’m untraceable, and most of all, I’m invincible.”
He narrowed his eyelids, giving Jazo a cold, piercing stare.
“What, Mr. Jazo, makes you think I could ever be scared of you?”
“Because, Kalthrax. You have nothing to threaten me with.”
Jazo abruptly gave an about-face. Talking wasn’t getting him anywhere. He powered on his beaten-up holocomm. “Jazo to Swoob.”
Static. He tried tapping on the screen, hoping that this would knock a loose bit of circuitry into place.
“Jazo, this is Swoob, come in.”
“Tch. Thing is a goddamn mess…”