QI’RA: Chapter Twelve

A Plan Gone Wrong

To say the members of The Shadow Collective was fuming was an understatement. Qi’ra had never seen the crime bosses so riled up.

Everything had been going well. Her guests arrived downstairs where a Twi-lek entertainer by the name of Suyti Mooras and her band called the Galactic Snubbles provided dance-worthy music. There were dignitaries and bodyguards, entourages of bounty hunters and sketchy looking smugglers, Imperial snobs, and crooked senators who made their money off of shady deals.

T-38 despised these conventions, for she wasn’t a very social person. She let her actions, those usually being violent, speak for her rather than her silver tongue but she managed to get by.

Her Top Lieutenant was constantly surrounded by a crowd of female spectators who couldn’t get enough of the beautiful man who seemed taller than everyone in the room. Qi’ra couldn’t contain her smile as she noticed his discomfort.

She felt just as fidgety in the presence of these crime syndicate bosses who constantly played a war of wills upon one another, each boss feeling the other out like a standoff.

The only one she could slightly get along with was the Cerean Tarnaj Ahuul, the leader of the Crymorah Syndicate. He always acknowledged with her a nod of his elongated cone-like head and he never spoke to her as if undermining her authority. She greatly appreciated that.

It wasn’t but an hour into the gathering, however, when T-38 rushed over wielding depressing news.

“M’lady Qi’ra, the coaxium shipment was stolen,” T-38 said. Her expression was grim.

Like a door being opened to the vast vacuum of space, all life was sucked out of their area at the bad news’ arrival.

Leaving the guests to continue frolicking about downstairs, all of the crime syndicate bosses were gathered in the meeting room and the mood was definitely tense. Jabba the Hutt was speaking angrily in Huttese, his rumbling voice gurgling with anger. Ziya Rheeves, leader of the Black Sun syndicate, kept fingering her maroon robe, giving the impression that she probably had a hidden weapon somewhere within the folds of her clothes. Qi’ra was keeping an eye on her. The leader of the Pykes, Gurk-Nute Halla, was pacing and murmuring to himself. Only Tarnaj Ahuul was remaining calm as he leisurely sat on the couch.

As her head began to throb in accordance with the bosses’ agitation Qi’ra suddenly couldn’t take it anymore.

“Will everyone please stop?!” she yelled, startling everyone in the room.

T-38’s hand immediately drifted to the blaster at her side as she expected retaliation. Qi’ra continued, unfazed by the glares that were thrown at her.

“Nothing will get better if we insist to act like the world has ended,” Qi’ra said.

“That shipment was worth hundreds of millions of credits,” Ziya Rheeves said through clenched teeth as she stepped forward. Her green skin seemed to almost darken with her temper. “It was supposed to be sent to the Empire and we would all get a handsome cut of the payment but you were the one who supplied the mission with the bounty hunters tasked to see this shipment through. So, Qi’ra, what happened?”

On the way to the meeting room, T-38 had briefed Qi’ra about the entire situation and now, as she was placed on the spot, she was grateful more than ever that she wouldn’t give her fellow peers the opportunity to see her as a bumbling idiot.

“It was the Rebellion,” Qi’ra said.

Jabba the Hutt cursed. Ziya Rheeves threw her hands up in disbelief. Tarnaj Ahuul’s grim expression darkened. Gurk-Nute Halla walked over to the window, his expression hidden behind his patented helmet of the Pykes.

“Looks like a band of mercenaries led by none other than our greatest nemesis, Enfys Nest, was in charge of the heist,” Qi’ra continued.

“So they stole our coaxium right from under us to help fuel the Rebellion,” Ziya Rheeves said quietly.

Qi’ra nodded. Jabba the Hutt grumbled and she quickly realized the “grumble” was actually a sigh.

If the Rebellion gets stronger the Empire gets weaker, Jabba the Hutt said. That’s not good business.

Qi’ra shook her head. “I agree with Jabba. We can’t let Enfys Nest get away with this. If the Empire believes that we won’t deliver for them a lot of our profits will vanish and I’d rather harvest coaxium than dabble in the slave trade.”

It was a direct blow to Black Sun leader Ziya Rheeves who actually did use the slave trade as a massive source of income for the criminal syndicate she led. Qi’ra was many things but she had been a part of the slave trade. The practice was worse than inhumane. The things that she had seen done to the aliens and humans of the galaxy who were unlucky enough to be part of the slave trade would haunt her dreams for the rest of her life.

Ziya Rheeves threw an evil glare at her and Qi’ra held her gaze.

Sensing a confrontation her Top Lieutenant, all the while standing in the corner so quietly you could almost forget he was there, quickly said, “And how do you plan in getting this coaxium back?”

Qi’ra stared at Rheeves for a second longer before turning to look at the other bosses in the room, a look of determination upon her face.

“I will lead a top-secret operation into this matter and within a few days we shall have the coaxium reclaimed,” Qi’ra announced.

And how is that possible? Gurk-Nute Halla said as he turned from the window. Enfys Nest and her mercenaries are probably on the other side of the galaxy by now.

Qi’ra nodded at T-38 who then tapped a button on of the tables in the room. The windows darkened and in the middle of the room appeared a map revealing the galaxy. On one small section of the map, a single blue dot continued to blink.

“That’s our target,” Qi’ra said, pointing at the dot.

Tarnaj Ahuul looked at Qi’ra with admiration. “You had a tracker on the shipment.”

Qi’ra smiled. “You can’t be too careful.”

He smiled in response.

“I still don’t think she should lead the excursion,” Ziya Rheeves argued to the bosses. “Especially that she’s the one who lost it in the first place.”

Qi’ra approached Ziya Rheeves, wearing a steely gaze. “Should we contact Lord Maul and see who he wants to lead this mission?”

The Black Sun leader glared down at her, her green lips forming a thin line, before finally speaking. “Do what you have to in getting that coaxium back.” She turned to the other bosses. “We’re giving her two days.”

Tarnaj Ahuul jumped to his feet. “Two days? Is that enough time?”

Ziya locked eyes with Qi’ra whose jaw clenched in response.

“I sure hope so,” she said but in the way that she uttered those words she was clearly meaning for Qi’ra to botch this mission and thus prove her incompetense.

With that, the Black Sun leader turned and left the room. Jabba the Hutt followed after her, grumbling all the way as he slid across the floor. Gurk-Nute Halla was next, dipping his head at Qi’ra in a respective manner. And last was Tarnaj Ahuul who grabbed her right hand, kissed it, and wished her good luck.

When the only people left in the room were T-38 and Nienye Qi’ra collapsed on the couch, her heart racing far too fast for her liking.

“What have I done?” Qi’ra said.

“You put yourself in a great mess, that’s what you’ve done,” T-38 said bluntly.

“I just didn’t want to seem weak,” Qi’ra said.

Nienye sat beside her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay. We’re all skilled warriors here. If we culminate our forces we should be able to take that coaxium back.”

Qi’ra looked into his eyes. “And if we can’t?”

“Then we fly to our deaths, either by the hand of the rebels or by Maul’s fury,” he said sadly.

Qi’ra smiled sadly. “I fear you’re right…but what choice do we have?”

T-38 shook her head. “None, whatsoever.”

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