WEG D6 (GM: Charles)
"As we used to say in CorSec, if one guy calls you a Hutt, ignore
him. If a second guy calls you a Hutt, begin to wonder. If a third
calls you a Hutt, buy a drool bucket and start stockpiling spice."
-- Corran Horn (I, Jedi)
With Friends Like These ...
Gris kept his expression neutral and his hands very still as he stared at the barrel of the blaster pointing at him across the table. He cursed himself mentally for not bringing Rowf with him to the cantina this time. Or for that matter even Bella. Too late to invite them now, he thought.
For weeks he and his crew had been frequenting various cantinas on dozens of worlds along the Rim trying to find some clue of the whereabouts the Quantum Kesstral, his missing ship. After his search of the Graveyard had come up empty, he had convinced the Alliance authorities to loan him a shuttle long enough for him to look up some old friends who might have information on the ship's location.
And now one of those "friends" was sitting in front of him with a blaster pointed at his chest.
Gris let a lazy smile creep across his face. "I never thought you had a sense of humor, Benni," he said.
"This is not a joke, Gris," Benni said. The barrel of the blaster didn't waver so much as a millimeter. Even in the dark, smoky interior of the cantina, Gris could see determination in the small man's dark eyes.
"That's good Benni. You never could tell jokes," Gris replied.
"Just shut up," Benni said in a low voice. "You're not going to talk your way out of this one anyway."
Gris had known Benni Arras for years -- almost since he had first started his career as a smuggler. And he had genuinely disliked him for most of that time. Benni was one of the typical low-life characters that hung around the fringes of smuggler society. He had never had an honest job in his life and had spent a brief time in prison for one of the dishonest jobs he had gotten caught doing. Of late he had been styling himself as an "information broker" - some would use the word "informant" - for anyone who had the credits, or glitterstim, to pay him.
He'd set up a meeting with Gris ostensibly because he had information on the Kesstral's location. Gris had not hesitated to meet him alone because Benni was generally considered by most of the underworld to be harmless. Scum for sure, but still harmless. In fact, Gris thought, the very fact that he's holding that blaster on me tells me there's a lot of money behind this.
"So what happens now, Benni?" said Gris. "Do I hand over my secret recipe for Bantha Souffle?"
"We're going to get up and walk out of here together like we're shipmates," Benni replied, ignoring Gris' banter. "And you're going to keep your hands where I can see them." He gestured slightly with the blaster for Gris to precede him to the exit as he carefully rose from his seat.
The two men began to cross the cantina, snaking their way through the crowded tables towards the entranceway. Benni stayed close behind Gris, holding the blaster low at his side so as not to draw attention from any curious patrons.
Gris stopped suddenly as they were about to pass one of the last tables near the exit. There was only one customer seated at the table: a tall, stoic looking humanoid with two large horns growing from the top of his head.
"What luck," Gris said, gesturing to the table's occupant and sidestepping out of Benni's line of fire with one smooth motion. "Benni, here's someone you should meet. You remember my Gotal friend? Harnious Thermopylae? I'm sure you've heard about his exploits with the Imps."
Benni's face suddenly turned pale and the muzzle of his blaster drooped towards the floor. "Harn?" he said, his voice coming out in a high squeak.
"Yes! And it's a good thing I ran into him," Gris continued hastily. "Here's that money I owe you, Harn." He quickly slipped 200 credits from his pocket and flipped them onto the table in front of the Gotal.
The Gotal's face remained impassive as he looked in sequence at Gris's grin, Benni's chattering teeth, and the credits in front of him. He seemed to consider the situation for a moment, then quickly moved his hand to gather up the money. Gris saw Benni flinch and nearly drop his blaster when the Gotal moved. The credits were quickly swept off the table and out of sight.
"Thanks," the Gotal said.
"It was the least I could do," said Gris. He turned towards Benni's trembling form. "I guess you'd better get going if you want to make it to your ship on time Benni."
For a few moments Benni seemed not to hear what Gris had said as he continued to stare wide-eyed at the Gotal. Then he slowly turned his head and focused on Gris. "M-m-my ship?"
"Yes, you were just telling me how you were going to hop the next ship off-world and get as far away from here as possible," said Gris.
"Oh-yes. The ship. Got to get far away from here," said Benni.
"Goodbye Benni," Gris said with a smile.
"B-bye," Benni replied. He stepped back gingerly away from the table and kept the blaster pointed straight at the floor. As soon as he had a clear path, he bolted for the door.
Gris let out a quick sigh of relief that turned into a chuckle. "Whew! We probably just shaved 10 years off the guy's life," he said. He began reaching into his vest pocket for a cigar to calm his nerves.
"Please keep your hands where I can see them Captain Ben-dahli," said the Gotal in a low voice. Gris looked down and saw that the Gotal was now holding a blaster leveled on his midsection. He kept his expression neutral and his hands very still as he stared at the barrel of the blaster pointing at him across the table.
"Some days it just doesn't pay to be me."