[Story] Story a Week 21

[[ Prompt: A story set on another planet

Well, that’s pretty easy for SWTOR characters… this is how my Smuggler, Tihan, found his pet Ginx. ]]

“Eugh, what’s that smell, Captain?” The mon calamari’s face wrinkled up in disgust. “Was that the wookiee?”

Captain Tihan guided the ship down onto solid ground. He knew from previous experience that some seemingly safe places were actually flooded and would be a nightmare to lift out of. “That would be the lovely aroma of Quesh,” he explained, flicking the controls off. “See those clouds out there? That’s all poison gas.”

Guss grunted. “I think I should stay behind and… clean the cargo hold.”

Risha appeared behind them with several breathing masks. “Actually,” said the Captain, “That’s exactly what I need you to do. Prep the hold for live cargo. Lots of it.”

Risha’s brow arched over her forehead. “Live cargo? Just what are we getting into here?”

The Captain took one of the masks and began to adjust the straps; his montrals always caused trouble with anything meant to be worn on the head. Hopefully it would stay on properly, he would rather not die from inhaling the toxic atmosphere today, at least. On the holoprojector he flipped to a rough map of the area. “See that?” He pointed to a large, long building that looked to be in the center of a compound. The grounds around it were littered with smaller buildings, ramps, a small landing area. “It’s some kind of storage warehouse, and it’s recently been demolished by the Imps. There’s a whole zoo worth of fancy critters in there, rare ones.”

Risha crossed her arms. “You’re joking, right?”

“Do I ever joke?”  She didn’t even crack a grin. Rough. “Look, if anything in there’s still alive — which my scans say they are — it’s worth big credits to collectors. We can unload these on Nar Shaddaa within a week, no problem.”

“Wild, probably dangerous animals in our cargo hold for a week is ‘no problem’,” Risha said, her arms still crossed. “Just what are you going to feed them?”

The Captain paused. Actually, he hadn’t really considered that. “Uh, I’m sure the droid can give them something. Maybe pick up some fish or something at a market somewhere.”

“I heard that,” said Guss, from the cargo hold.

“It’ll work out,” the Captain assured her. “Doesn’t it always?”

The compound was in worse condition than it appeared on the map. No doubt some of the animals were already dead. Maybe that solved the problem of feeding them, Tihan thought. His blaster was loaded with tranquilizing rounds, and Guss was on standby to lift the sleeping critters up into the cargo hold. It was also his problem to get them safely into the cages, though the wookiee and the droid were there to help as well. Even through the breathing equipment, the atmosphere burned their eyes and stung their throats. Best to get out of there as quick as possible. There were some Republic guards around, but not a lot. Hopefully Tihan wouldn’t have to bribe them to look the other way, but he was prepared to if possible.

The Captain didn’t even know what some of the animals were, thankfully Risha did. She was able to tell him which were more likely to fetch a higher price. Some he tagged just because he thought they looked interesting. Many of the pens had been damaged by the bombing, which meant there could be animals prowling around loose in the compound. Tihan kept his fingers on the trigger at all times; thankfully it seemed the tranq rounds worked pretty quickly — but he only had a limited number of them.

He paused to check his barrel. Only a couple left. He aimed and shot into a mottled furnoc. “Call Guss, let’s wrap up in here.” The Captain kept his eyes sharp and his ears open as Risha sent in the call to come pick up the critters. The last thing he wanted was to be pounced and mauled by some Hutt’s expensive pet. At least before he collected, anyway.

Risha closed the comm. “On his way,” she said. “Hey, what’s that?”

Tihan pointed his blaster in the direction she’d looked. He saw nothing there but shadows, but were they the same shape they’d  been a moment ago? He wasn’t sure. The building around them rumbled as Guss maneuvered the ship overhead, preparing the lifts to bring the animals into the cargo hold. As he didn’t see or hear anything else, Tihan holstered his blaster and helped Risha load. Some of the animals were too heavy to move even with the two of them, especially asleep, so the droid helped.

“I can’t imagine how bad the hold is going to smell,” Risha said. “We’re going to have to fumigate it.”

“Maybe,” the Captain agreed. “But we already–”

He paused, looking back toward the shadowed place. He’d heard something, something moving but he couldn’t quite place–

It was bright blue and yellow, shiny even in the dim light. Its mouth seemed to take up its entire head. It had four enormous round red eyes, they looked like lights. “Uh,” Tihan said, reaching slowly for his blaster. “What is that?”

Risha laughed. “It’s a terrifying togruta-eating beast.”

The creature cocked its head, watching them both curiously. It made a sort of burping sound. “Oh,” Tihan said, holstering his blaster again. “I get it. You’re making fun of me.”

“It’s a ginx. It’s harmless, though you shouldn’t lick it. The skin contains mild neurotoxins to protect it from predators.”

Cautiously, Tihan held his hand out toward the thing. It protruded a very large tongue and licked his hand. “Aww, it’s cute. We should keep it.”

Risha shrugged. “You can keep it, if you want. I don’t need a pet. I live with you guys.”

Tihan grinned and patted the ginx’s head. It was cool and sort of damp. “Come on little buddy. I’m getting you out of here.”

 

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