Chapter Nine: Poking Around

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"Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck!"
Da'bral groaned from the pilot seat. Nyron was awake already? At least they were there now, the ship had just come out of hyperspace over Clotis IV. Green swaths swept across the moon's surface, broken up by small, stormy blue seas, a striped eye in the face of the blue gas giant it orbited. Da'bral sighed and set the autopilot to bring them to the base.

Ishti had given Nyron some medication for his hangover, and Nyron had shown his appreciation by reaching into his bag and quaffing the remainder of his whiskey. Still a little woozy from the knockout drug, and with an unhealthy combination of hangover medication and alcohol in his system, he seemed more than a little out of it.

Sighing once more, the Dathomirian turned his tired eyes towards their destination. There was a beauty to the rugged landscape, the rocky hills were sparsely coated with trees and - on and around the largest hill - tents of all sizes for the bounty hunters to rest in. It was the perfect location for such a base, Da'bral noted. There were a million such worlds, temperate, low-tech, and low-resource, the only useful resource they have in any great number is food, which means the inhabitants don't need to import any, which would have drawn attention.

The hill was crested by a great hall. It had gone through many iterations, and it was now difficult to recognise its Trandoshan origins, due to the fact that nobody had cared to restore their trademark stylised predator art. It now looked rather plain - the last leader of the base had been a rather unimaginative Givin, except for a flowing gleaming structure that extended from the side of the hill into the lake. This is had been introduced by Toris Menari, the current leader, to make life at the base more bearable for aquatic species such as himself, though he had seen no need to change the drab grey of the main building. The Chagrian had been like a father to both Ishti and Da'bral back when everything was new to them, and they respected him more than anyone. He was a clever businessman, and had kept up good relations with the other guilds well, despite the rifts created by the rise of mercenaries.

Da'bral also noticed that some construction was taking place in one of the valleys. A large building that looked like...a factory? Da'bral was shocked, how could Kara have convinced Toris to build a factory? He knew the Duros woman had wanted to build one for a long time, but Toris had always strongly objected, saying that any trade would draw too much attention to the secret base. Da'bral was...fond of her, but he agreed with Toris, she could be rash, not thinking of the consequences of her actions, though no-one could deny her genius.

He took back control and landed the ship on one of the many landing platforms at the base of the hill. As they headed up to their reserved tent - "Someone poked me!"
That was Nyron's only warning before he fell to the ground, writhing in apparent agony as he began yelling and yelling about being poked! But there was nobody there except the three bounty hunters.
"Agh! Get me out of this craphole I'm being poked by maniacs!!! Stop poking me you monsters!"
"Snap out of it Nyron!" Ishti growled, trying to ignore the crowd that was starting to form around them.
"Why must you poke me?! Please, somebody help! Please..."
Ishti rolled his eyes and, with Da'bral's help, began dragging the now unconscious Nyron up the hill, and made a mental note never to give Nyron hangover medicine again, and also to make that note a bit less mental. He did not want to forgot that.

A Rodian man who had come to see the spectacle that was Gonbor Nyron offered to fetch a medic for them. Ishti gratefully accepted and told them their tent number.
"Wait!" Called Da'bral as the man turned to go, "What do you know about the factory being built?"
"Oh," he said, "Queen Kara ordered its construction about a five rotations ago. Said she wanted to be able to protect ourselves when we go independent."
Once the Rodian had left, Da'bral swore. 'Queen Kara?' This was worse than he'd thought, and would need to be investigated further. But first Nyron needed looking at.

By the time the doctor got to their tent, Nyron was crying in his sleep, Ishti had taken off his exosuit, and they had all gotten themselves comfortable, except Nyron, whom they had dumped on the floor. Nevertheless, they were worried about him.
"Help me pick him up?" requested the doctor - a middle-aged Nautolan woman carrying a bag with medical equipment. "He's stable, we should take him to the medcentre."
And then, at the worst of moments, Nyron exhaled his last breath.

In a flash, the doctor dropped down to him, took a stim plug out of her bag and - Nyron threw himself onto her and squeezed his hands round her neck! No matter how much she wriggled and writhed she couldn't get free!
"Die you wicked being!" He yelled at the screaming woman.
Ishti cursed and prepared to fire his blowpipe, but Da'bral had launched himself onto Nyron and punched him! Ishti couldn't get a clean shot.
The woman gasped for air as she was freed, and Da'bral crashed his fist down once more - into the ground. Nyron rolled out of Da'bral's grasp and sent him sprawling over some boxes, laughing manically as he turned his attention back to choking the doctor. The doctor chocked and spasmed, dying at the hands of her patient, but Ishti had finally found his shot.

As Nyron took his last waking breath of the day, the nameless doctor took the last she would ever take.

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