Muunilinst was far from the worst place that Vizim had been. He liked cities. They were bustling, lively, and always lent themselves toward making his work easier. There were millions of places to get lost in a city because there were millions of people.
He had been making moves within the planet's political circles for some time now, and the only thing that remained was this contract. A Muun by the name of Han Sill was making moves within the upper echelons of politics, and he needed one of his rivals removed. A simple job and the type of thing that he did on a regular basis at the request of "customers" and "allies" of the Sith.
The complication on this job was an Acolyte. Vizim didn't have an Acolyte, didn't usually work with Acolytes, and wasn't sure how excited he was about being saddled with an Acolyte by command, but here he was. He was originally planning to meet with her at one of the local bars, but then realized she might not even be old enough to gain entry. Instead, it was a caf shop. It was late afternoon, and they had several hours to finish preparations before the time for the hit would come in the wee hours of the morning. Easy, right? Right...?
This wasn't Ashla's first time on Muunilinst, having briefly visited the planet years ago on business for her Cadre Master, a test he had called it. Looking back she had to wonder if she had done anything to help the Sith, or if it had been just another move to pad his pockets. Still, this time was different. This time she was here of her own accord, and that meant she could tick a few things of her bucket-list.
While Vizim was right to assume that she wasn't actually old enough to enter a bar, and was a little disappointed that she could not tick off "use a fake ID" of her list, she could at least tick off one of the other entries she had recently added after a glowing recommendation from a fellow acolyte. The bunch of them had been positively raving about the caf from something called a SpaceBucks, a chain of local mom and pop caf chops across the Galaxy. So when Vizim had suggested meeting at a caf shop she had suggested a SpaceBucks near where he wanted them to meet.
Arriving at the caf shop, she made a bee-line for the counter and asked the female Munn behind the counter for the house specialty. She had seemed a little young to be running a mom and pop type store, Ashla had heard that most were run by kindly old couples always looking to share a tale. But everyone who worked here seemed to be too young to fit that role. The one without the counter gave her a long-suffering stare, rolled her eyes, and just ordered her a large caf. Disappointed at not having received a story with her caf, Ashla nonetheless was glad to have her caf, and spotting Vizim at a table she wandered over to him with her drink in hand.
"Champion Vizim? I am Ashla Ti." She set the caf down on the table and pulled out her datapad, pulling up a document and ticking off the entry that said "SpaceBucks Caf". "Would you like one? It is supposed to be a speciality." Taking a sip she almost spat it out at the bland nature of the drink, before taking another sip to be sure.
"People like this? It tastes like stale milk and piss." A passing server overheard the comment and just shrugged and walked on, seemingly agreeing with the assessment, leaving the confused Togruta wondering if she had been part of an elaborate prank.
Vizim wasn't sure of a couple of things when he received the Acolyte's messages. First off, why was she so excited about going to a SpaceBucks and secondly why were there so many extra symbols and emojis associated with talking about SpaceBucks.
Nevertheless, he accommodated her request, sipping at his own cup of caf that was heavily watered down with creamers and foof in order to dilute the somewhat crappy nature of the actual caf itself.
She came over to him, introducing herself and poking at her datapad several times. He watched as she proceeded to nearly spit her drink out, denounce it loud enough that half the shop heard it, and then probably throw the remnant of it away.
You don't get out much, do you? he asked with a straight face. Ashla, he repeated her name in his mind, wagering with himself that he was going to forget it again by the time he actually needed to use it.
He took another long gulp of his iced caf before pulling out his datapad and look at something on it.
He motioned with his head toward the door, heading outside onto the sidewalk to begin walking. Out here it was easier to be overheard for any extended period of time, and he kept his eyes open for anyone following them. They would take a rather odd and twisted path, doubling back on themselves as they spoke and reviewed things.
How are you feeling? Have you done something like this before? he asked. She was an unknown commodity to him, and while it may have seemed nice and polite, the base reason for asking was because he didn't want her falling apart on him when the operation started.
He would drink his caf and he watched with somewhat morbid curiosity to see if she would continue to try to choke down the remnants of her own.
Ashla was still trying to decide whether or not she wanted to try and finish her drink when Vizim spoke up. She smiled at the question, not being at the receiving end of that particular question for the first time. "Is it that obvious?" She chuckled, before making up her mind and pushed the cup of caf away from her. "I was part of a Cadre till a few months ago, going out wasn't really part of the programme."
Waving down a server walking by, she asked for a glass of water, and if not for the sincere smile on her face when she made the request the man might have likely ignored her, given her previous remark about the caf. She still had a horrible taste in her mouth, but the water helped, and by the time she had downed the glass she was sure she wasn't at risk of throwing up because of the taste. So unaccustomed was she to anything with flavor that she didn't quite trust her stomach.
"A little anxious, a little excited, definitely very disappointed after that drink." But one look at the man, and the second question, was enough for her to understand what he meant, and what he was probably worried. "You mean something like taking a life, or breaking one to the point that they beg you to take it?" She smiled, a glint in her eyes revealing the woman underneath the bright exterior. The one the Cadre had forged her into. The one who had a whole lot of red on her ledger.
"Yes, yes I have. Don't worry, I will not be a burden for you to drag along."
Yes, he said in response to her question, totally deadpan. She was far too starry eyed to have lived in the galaxy for the seventeen years of her life.
Nobody's gotten that excited about SpaceBucks in a decade, he said. They walked on and as they did, things got more rundown. No longer in the nicest area of town, the streets got dirtier and so did the people on them.
Good, he said, knowing he didn't need any tourists on this trip. This was the kind of operation that would require total focus from all parties involved and a small amount of guidance from the Force for the parts outside of his control.
What she wouldn't find was any sort of pity or sympathy that she - still as as child - was already turned into a trained killer. It was the way of their world and something he had endured as well. This was their way.
As the streets became rougher still, Vizim took a turn down a side alley before stopping out front of a door that led under what appeared to be a shady club. His knuckles rapped against he door and it slid open to reveal a beefy Gamorrean that squeal-grunted before stepping aside for them to descend. Evidently local criminals were involved in getting the pair where they needed to go, and they could expect more unsavory characters inside.
Ashla looked back as they walked away from the SpaceBucks, taking in now what she had missed earlier in her excitement. The place reeked of capitalism, very much not what you would a mom and pop would look like. At least from what she had gathered from the holonet, not like she had actually ever been to one. This was supposed to be her first time. That did bring her mood down further, but as they walked on she slowly realized that she was yet to visit her first mom and pop store. That experience was yet to be ruined for her, and that helped bring about a significant improvement to her mood.
By the time they reached the club, she almost had a skip in her step, only keeping herself in check to not draw undue attention to them and mess up Vizim's job. After all she had said she would not be a burden, and she had meant it. As the Gamorrean stepped aside to let Vizim in, Ashla moved to step in after him. Only for the bouncer to slam a meaty hand down on her shoulder and stop her on the threshold.
"No children in bar, wai.."
He had barely got the words out of his mouth when Ashla's instincts took over, and she grabbed the hand on her shoulder with one of her own, stepped back to bring herself closer to the Gamorrean, and slammed the other elbow right into his gut with enough force to knock the breath out of him.
As he went wheezing to the floor, the frenzy that had taken hold of her passed, and her eyes, glazed over a moment earlier, cleared up as she noticed more than a few eyes on her from within the bar. Letting go of the Gamorrean's arm, she stepped away from him and brushed her dress down. "I am not a child." She started walking, no one making an attempt to stop them, and as they got deeper into the bar, she leaned closer to Vizim and spoke softly.
"Do you think they'll let me try an ale?"
What she didn't notice was a pair of grunts getting up from a table besides the entrance they had just passed through, and begin shadowing them through the bar.
Vizim watched the altercation between Gamorrean and Acolyte silently, but his hand slid down to gently pull his coat back ever so slightly so that his hand could brush the rather large pistol strapped to his thigh. She seemed capable of taking care of herself, but if this was going to turn into a fight, he had the drop on the pig and wouldn't hesitate to use it.
Fortunately, it didn't come to that and his coat fell back into its normal position as he finished his decent of the stairs. While she may have failed to notice the pair watching them, Vizim had not. It had become second nature long ago for him to sit with his back to a wall, watching everyone. He was a hunter and the most dangerous thing in the galaxy was another hunter. People like him preyed on one another, and he knew that was likely what would kill him one day. You slip up a single time and that's your end.
His attention was grabbed once again as she commented about trying an ale. For a moment, he simply stared at her deadpan with an expression that screamed "is that a joke." Several beats passed before he said something.
I need your head clear for this operation, he said, glancing down at her body as if gauging her heigh and weight for only a moment. You're probably a lightweight anyway. You don't get even one, he muttered flatly. If she wanted to drink, she could do it while they weren't on the job. It might make her feel better that he was not drinking either or more likely she wouldn't think to notice it.
The pair of thugs at the far side of the bar motioned toward a back room and Vizim nodded in that direction to draw Ashla's attention to it. He slid free from his chair and headed inside, where the pair were waiting along with a third man that looked like he had the only brain for all three of them.
You didn't say anything about the girl, he said to Vizim who admittedly had left that detail out intentionally. These were not nice men and they weren't the type he wanted catching wind of her arrival before he was ready.
She some sort of payment for the job? he asked. Vizim grabbed Ashla's arm and shoved her forward.
You've got an hour with her, he said. Just you. I don't like my property ruined, he said, looking to the pair of thugs and indicating they weren't welcome. The man had access codes the pair needed, and codes that Vizim had already established the man wouldn't give them willingly. He'd devised another plan.
You better perform up to your training. You weren't cheap, he said, shoving her toward the man and hoping she picked up on what exactly he wanted her to do. He probably should have told her ahead of time, but who knew how unreliable she would be. She'd figure it out.
Vizim shuffled out of the room, making sure the pair of thugs came with him and leaving her alone with the man. They had an hour to get the job done.
Ashla was about to complain in response to Vizim's comment about her ability to hold down a drink, even though he was probably right, when Vizim started towards the back door. Her eyes on the bar, she missed him move and had to jerk her attention back to him and rush to catch up with him.
She arrived as the man inside the room was asking Vizim about her. She had barely caught up when Vizim grabbed her by the hand and pushed her forward. She looked back as he walked out of the door, and it shut behind him, leaving her alone with the stranger. She assumed he was their target, but she still wasn't sure what she was supposed to do. Kill him? No, that didn't seem rigth. Vizim could have killed him easily enough without going through all this trouble, so he must need something from him, information most probably.
"Hi.." she began as she turned back to face the man, and found him kneeling before her, his head bowed submissively. "Errr.."
"Mistress." He addressed her reverently as he held out a small device for her. She took it, still confused, and pressed the button on it. A sound drew her attention to the far side of the room as an entire wall slid away to reveal all sorts of devices hanging from the wall. It took her a moment to realize what the devices were, this freak had a thing for being dominated. He expected her to torture him?
Probably concerned by her continued silence, the man looked up, confused and a probably begining to suspect that something was wrong. But she caught on, and threw the device straight at his face. "Eyes on the floor!" She barked at him, to immediate effect. She walked to the false wall and pulled off a whip, and flicked her hand out to send it whizzing out through the air, the tip snapping mere inches from his face. He seemed disappointed that it missed.
"How badly do you want this scum?"
He looked up, not expecting this, and a glint of excitement crossed his eyes. "So much.." He paused at a look from her and quickly corrected himself. "I want it so much, mistress."
"What will you do for it? What will you give me?" She asked as she snapped the whip once more, yet again just brushing his shoulder but leaving him wanting more. He had of course never had anyone use the whip like that, it was a weapon after all and few could use it like a Sith could.
"Anything, anything. I have money, you can have whatever you want mistress."
"I don't care for credits. Everyone has credits. Secrets, now that's a delicious payment."
He hesitated at that, but she snapped the whip again, this time making it just barely touch his cheek and draw just a the smallest amount of blood. That made up his mind, he was about to speak when she stepped forward and pressed a finger to his lips to stop him. "The juicier the secret, the greater your reward." His eyes widened, and he almost shivered with excitement.
"The chairman, the chairman of the banking clan, he runs a secret sabacc game once a month. He sends out a code to his most trusted allies a day before the game. I know the code for today's game, Gamma-Gamma-346."
It was her turn to be surprised, she hadn't expected that to work, at least not right away. She had expected it to be harder. But then she realized, he wasn't really sharing a secret with her. The game was probably already underway, that's why Vizim was here today. He wasn't sharing a secret, he was bragging, showing off with information that would be useless pretty soon.
Convinced that she had what she needed, she finally gave him what he wanted, and let the whip fly. It wrapped around his neck, and she could feel his excitement. Which then turned to terror as she didn't let go. She watched as the life slowly left his eyes, and he fell with a thud to the floor, dead.
She slipped out of the room moments later, closing it behind her and heading casually for Vizim. "I have the code," she told him, her voice becoming urgent as she noticed the two guards reach for the door to the back room, "but we need to leave. Now!"
Vizim was relatively oblivious to what was going on inside the room. He absolutely expected her to kill the man, but the idea that she would extract the necessary information first hadn't even crossed his mind. He liked to set his standards for other people low... you know, at the expected level.
He was still working his way in a quick recon around the bar, searching for his alternate way in and had just settled on a side route that he could cut a hole through when she reemerged. He gave a look that very much said "uh, what are you doing here" with the concerned eyes and all when she told him she had the code.
He internally swore and noted the urgency in her tone as she headed for the exit and he was close on her heels. He didn't know what had happened, but he had a feeling things were about to get more lively than he wanted.
They were out into the "fresh" air again within moments and Vizim didn't stop to question her yet beyond a You're sure you go it?
Out they went, moving with speed as he could hear the door distantly behind them slam open. He cut down another side alley and headed toward a small alcove under a stairwell that led up into one of the taller, once-lavish buildings. It was now rundown and provided shadows for them to duck into as the pursuers raced past without even looking.
Intel? he asked, still clearly somewhat dubious that she had what they needed, though he'd be quite impressed if she did.
"Yes," Ashla muttered in response as she made a beeline for the exit, hoping that Vizim would not try to stop her to try and question her, "I got it." People often let their curiosity overpower their judgement, but shew as glad that Vizim followed without a question. She had seen a few Sith who had been little more than fools driven by greed, so it was good to see that there was diversity among their ranks.
"Gamma-Gamma-346." She replied softly as their tail passed by them without spotting them. "That's the code to access the chairman's game, though if that pig in there was any indication of the sort that live here then I wonder if the game is little more than a front." She paused, and started thinking, it could very well be the case that the game was just an excuse for the chairman to host those who had his favor. An opportunity to socialize and talk without eyes on them. "Is it just a game? What exactly is your endgame here?"
The thought that the code might not be the information that she was extract hadn't crossed her mind so far, but now that they actually had a moment to pause the thought did crop up. And with it came the realization that there was still the possibility that they might have to break back into the bar to get whatever Vizim needed.
Be it the bar or the game, it looked like there was still much to be done. Her only regret was that she hadn't been able to add another entry into her list, she had already killed more than her share of scumbag creeps.
G-G-3-4-6, he thought to himself, committing the code to memory. Vizim was many things, but stupid was not usually one of them nor was irresponsible. His subconscious continued to listen to her as they navigated the streets, mind already working over the next steps. So it was a game, then? That told him more and it also immediately brought into his attention an angle to play the assassination.
The thugs passed by and he waited several more moments before tracking back in the direction of the bar again. Not with the intention of entering it, but because it was where he knew the thugs now weren't. They could catch a droid cab on the other side of the club and head out in the direction of the game.
The code you just grabbed is actually an address, he said. We knew the target went somewhere every third Thursday, but we didn't know where or what. Now we do. Good work, he said, slipping into a cab that he waved down.
GG-346, North District, he said, tossing cash into the metering station before turning back to Ashla. He closed off the window to the astromech that was piloting the speeder and pulled out his pistol, checking the charge and sights before realizing something...
Do you know how to use a blaster? Or... have a blaster? he asked. They didn't want to be lightsabers out for this or obviously Sith. After all, a robbery of a backroom casino wasn't anything to bat an eye at, but the robbers using lightsabers was.
Ashla realized that they were meandering back towards the bar, and started wondering if the information had been a dud after all, but then Vizim shared more details about the job, and things started to make sense. As the cab pulled up, she realized he had brought them back simply because this was the last place the thugs would look for them.
In the cab, she responded to Vizim's question by beginning to dig around in the satchel she carried on her self at most times, and pulling out the blaster buried deep beneath trinkets of all sorts. "If the Cadre was thorough about anything, it was teaching us how to kill." She pulled out the power cell from the blaster, making sure it was fully charged, before slapping it back in. "With or without the Force."
As the cab came to a stop near the location, they got their first look at the building, and the clientele that was going in and out the front entrance. Realizing that she was a little underdressed for a casino, she wondered what the plan was. "So are we sneaking in? I don't think they'll let us in the front door looking like this. Unless..." her eyes followed the steady train of patrons walking to the entrance from a nearby structure, possibly a parking garage. "I'm sure we can find someone in there who'll be happy to share some fancy clothes with us."
Vizim was glad to see her fetch a gun out of her bag. Most Sith didn't use them and he was fully expecting to have to stop off somewhere ahead of time in order to get her a weapon that wouldn't draw extreme and immediate attention.
Very good, he said, almost smiling as he said it and quite satisfied with the situation. Things were working out considerably better than he had planned for, and though he was glad for that, he couldn't crush the feeling in the back of his mind that was waiting for the foot to fall. Perhaps it was just paranoia.
As he looked at the building, he could tell this was one of the upper-end apartment complexes in the city, and she wasn't wrong... they didn't quite fit in.
Rumor has it the "casino" is held in the penthouse. Only high end clients so there'll be local private security but probably less than two dozen people to control, he said.
That's why these backroom games require knowing where they are. Secrecy is half the protection, he said. He looked up at the building and started moving around toward the rear of the building.
The door to the underground garage opened so that one of the very, very expensive speeders could head inside and Vizim slipped in after it, pulling up the mask over his face to conceal himself. He eased his pistol free and started looking for the unfortunate person who was parking somewhere. He would be their means of getting inside and going up. Surely he had keys to enter the apartment building.
Ashla's eyes traced the lines of the building all the way to the very top, to the penthouse. On many worlds she would have expected someone as rich and powerful as the chairman to own a literal palace, but in a crowded city that grew upwards instead of sideways, it made sense that if he had an apartment he would have it some place like that.
As Vizim covered his face in a mask and slipped into the garage, Ashla realized she didn't have a mask. Forced to think on her feet, she pulled off the cloak she wore and quickly wrapped it around her head to hide most of her face and her montrals and lekku. Much good it would do them if they couldn't see her face but were able to identify her as a Togruta. With just a slit left across her eyes left uncovered, she rushed in after Vizim.
As they looked for the speeder, Vizim a few steps ahead of her, Ashla glanced over the railing that opened up to the level below, and there she spotted someone dressed in an expensive looking suit waiting in front of the door of a turbolift that was about to tick down to his level. Thinking that it was their key to get in, she let out a whistle to attract Vizim's attention before jumping off to come to a rolling landing atop a parked speeder on the lower level. The whistle, along with the sound of her landing atop the speeder, drew the attention of the man. His eyes widened as he looked at her covered face and immediately pulled out a blaster from somewhere on his person. She jumped off the speeder as he started shooting, and while doing so spotted the speeder that Vizim had tailed just a short distance from her, the driver and his companion still besides the car, staring at her with wide eyes.
That was when alarms started blaring. She looked back to notice the open door to the turbolift, her mistaken target inside, from where she assumed he had tripped the alarm.
"Shit." She muttered as the turbolift door closed and realization dawned on her. She had just adding something else to tick off her bucket list.
Things were going well. Vizim was moving along and prowling behind the vehicle when he heard a whistle, a thunk, and looked back to see that the acolyte was missing.
He couldn't see over the edge from his angle, but the sudden flashes of light and characteristic sound of blasterfire were unmistakable. He swore, looking first to where she had dropped and then to where his own prey was. A driver and employer together and he made his choice.
She would sort things out herself or she wouldn't. He had his target, and that was who he was going for. He lunged forward, sending a blaster shot directly through the chest of the driver as he hurtled toward the man who lived here.
An alarm started to blare and he realized that this was going to be very, very bad. He bodily slammed into the other man, body checking him into the speeder and bringing his pistol around to slam into the Muun's massive temple.
His body crumpled down and Vizim began rummaging through his pockets to find the key fob. Two... maybe three minutes. Everyone's on alert. Going out a window above is too suspicious. Need an alternate route or evac, he thought to himself. He mentally cursed again, already starting to move toward the door as he found the fob and putting a single blaster shot through the unconscious man's head. He wanted as few witnesses as possible.
He had no idea what he'd find with Ashla, but hopefully for the mission's sake she wasn't dead. He started toward the turbolift, looking for her to give her instructions on the next step as he went but before ascending.
Ashla watched as the display besides the turbolift ticked, numbers flicking past as it shot up from the parking lot. Cursing, she looked away towards the figures by the speeder. No witnesses.
She pulled out her blaster and the two had barely a moment to scream before they had burning holes in their chests. She ran up to the knocked out figures and after some quick rummaging through pockets she had two items in her possession, the apartment fob and all the credits they had on them. Might as well make anyone looking into this whole mess think robbery was the motive.
Turning around she started running through the garage, finding a flight of stairs that took her back to the upper level, where she spotted Vizim near the turbolift. She jogged over, coming to a stop beside him in front of one of the turbolifts.
"Sorry, I thought.." she began, about to give an explanation when the turbolift door whooshed open, revealing the four armed guards inside, "great."