"So this Nyron killed my children." Kanso tested the name in his mouth, and clearly didn't like how it felt. Ishti had finished relating the Tatooine mission to him, and he squirmed as he tried to get across his opinion without making it seem certain that Nyron was responsible. After all, he still didn't know what Nyron had said to Merich.
"I don't know for certain, sir. I just know he acted suspiciously, but I don't know all the details."
"Don't ignore your instincts. Could be you noticed something off about him from the beginning. Do you know where he is now? I'd very much like to pay him a little visit." Kanso's eyes flamed with hatred.
"He just kept causing trouble, so we decided to leave him on a deserted moon."
Kanso considered that for a moment.
"Well, either the people responsible are dead, or it was Nyron, who's worse than dead. I guess I can live with that, I just wish I could've done it myself. Maybe one day I'll swing by that moon and see him myself - cheer myself up a bit."
Ishti smiled. "Good to see you found your closure."
"Yeah, thanks. My -"
"Wait," broke in Da'bral, feeling a bit awkward at interrupting him. "There's something else you should know - about the Guild."
"I know about Kara." Kanso said. "Mandalore offered me a similar deal a couple of weeks ago. She probably heard Toris talking about it and decided to bump him off and claim it herself, right? I guess her 'boldness' impressed him."
Da'bral nodded. "Yes, and now hunters from all over are flocking to her." He added. "She's even setting up her own factory; they're more like mercenaries than bounty hunters now, just like the ones who left the Guild. She didn't kill Toris though, she said she's got him locked up somewhere."
"The Guild's falling apart." Kanso despaired. "I can't blame you for taking your own contacts; if I were you I'd just leave it all behind. I think I'll follow your example and find some job I actually care about, not some Mandalorian crusade, because I bet you that's what this'll turn into. Anyway, my wife will be here soon; apparently your children being killed doesn't excuse you from working, even if you own the business, so she still hasn't dealt with what happened. She might take it out on you three; I'll tell her it wasn't your fault, but how about we play Corellian Gambit to show that Ishti's a 'true Corellian'? She's easily impressed by that sort of thing. Oh, and Olulm, perhaps you should try not to be noticed - seeing that one of you is Durosian probably won't make her calmer. I'm not Corellian myself, but I know the rivalry between you lot."
They played the game for half an hour before Lania Vox returned from her job running Vox Industries, and while they played they told Kanso more about their adventures with Nyron. By the end of the game Da'bral had lost a lot, but Ishti and Olulm held their own commendably against the master gambler who was Kanso Vox. When the doorbell rang, Kanso leapt up to let Lania in himself, and the other three sat in nervous silence. They waited awkwardly as the couple greeted each other, dreading the moment when Kanso would tell her they were here. And then he did.
"Where are they?" They heard her sophisticated core-world voice demand.
"Hey." Kanso said soothingly. "Calm down, they aren't responsible."
"But they could have stopped it, couldn't they?"
"No, no, there was nothing they could do. It was either a member of their team that'd been allocated to them, or a terrible accident. They couldn't do anything about it either way."
"Well what have they done about it?"
"They've dealt with their partner, and the ones who killed them are dead. They even offered us some money. I didn't accept it, don't worry, I took enough from them just playing Corellian Gambit."
"Are they Corellian?"
"One of them is. How about you see for yourself?"
"No," she paused. She sounded incredibly tired. "No I'm sorry, Kanso, work was difficult, I need some rest."
"Alright, how about you see them tomorrow? They deserve to hear you say you don't blame them at least."
"Of course I'll see them tomorrow. The funeral is tomorrow." She choked a bit as she was reminded again of her children's deaths.
There was a short silence.
"I'll go upstairs."
"Okay. I'll be up soon."
All three bounty hunters in the room breathed quiet sighs of relief as they realised they wouldn't have to speak to her that day. When Kanso came back in, his cheerfulness had gone entirely.
"I'm sorry," he said when he realised his silence was making his guests uncomfortable. "She hasn't had as much time as me, and the stress has exhausted her. At least she doesn't have to work tomorrow, 'cause of the funeral. That'll give her some some time at least, and the patience to speak to you. I'm going to join her upstairs now. Soaron will prepare beds for you down here, so you can stay. You can come and pay your respects at the funeral tomorrow afternoon. Perhaps in the morning you can replace your eye, Da'bral. There's a good prosthetics place in town." He looked absent for a second, his string of unrelated points at an end, leaving him with nothing left to say.
"Thank you," said Da'bral to break the silence, smiling at him. Kanso smiled past him in return. Then his expression grew grim, and he left the room silently.
The next day, Ishti watched as Karlien and Merich's bodies were taken to be cremated. He kept a respectable distance so as not to get in the way of those closest to them - and also, he admitted, so he wouldn't have to talk to them. However, much to his alarm, he was approached anyway, by Lania Vox. She had dark brown hair which fell loose over the shoulders of her black dress. Her features were soft but stern, fitting with the voice Ishti had heard the previous day. She was not overly tall, yet she carried herself in such a way that Ishti felt incredibly awkward for being taller than her - like it was an injustice.
"I wanted to tell you that I don't believe you killed them." She told him kindly. "Kanso explained it to me, and I understand clearly that it was not your fault. However, if you come here again, I expect it to be with the head of Gonbor Nyron. If that is not the case, then there will be consequences for both of you. As far as any true Corellian is concerned there is only one adequate penalty for taking a life, and that is losing one's own."
"I understand, Mrs. Vox." Ishti replied sincerely. "I'm very sorry for your loss."
Lania smiled. "I haven't lost them," she said. "You left Corellia when you were young didn't you? Kanso told me. Your parents mustn't have taught you how Corellian's can live eternally. When our loved ones die, we compress their ashes into diamonds nearly as beautiful and precious as they were in flesh. As such we treasure them, and they stay with us for ever. I hope you find someone who would keep your diamond, Ishti Bonden. Goodbye, I hope to see you again."
She didn't say with Nyron's head, except with her eyes.
Da'bral was watching the procession at Ishti's side, but moved away when he saw Lania. His new eye was a little uncomfortable, and it made the socket water, which was reassuring natural; looking in the mirror and seeing a blue orb where his left eye once was still took some getting used to, and so any naturalness is displayed was comforting. He was moved by the reverence of the funeral, although he was worried about how it was being conducted. He wondered whether their spirits would still find peace despite it, and hoped that the rules were different for Humans.
At the end of the ceremony, the diamonds, which had been perfectly compressed into a traditional diamond shape, were presented to Kanso and Lania. The two of them looked happy again as they accepted the beautiful reminders of their children, and so Ishti groaned as he felt a vibration in his chest pocket. Gan had to go and ruin the moment again. As the congregation dispersed, Ishti and Da'bral headed back to the manor, where Olulm had been waiting. They said their goodbyes simply and briefly, and headed back to the city so they could leave. This time Gan had asked them to meet him on Coruscant, which was thankfully not too far away. Once they reached the ship, Ishti took in one last breath of the fresh air of his home world, and left the Voxes behind him.