Trey sat in his cell, whistling softly. He knew the girls in the compartment opposite his were fuming — especially Arden — but he couldn’t tip his hand yet. There were eyes and ears watching them and he couldn’t let them know the deck had a skifter in it.
“I am so very glad you are happy over there,” The little blond grumbled, “I’m sure you’ll be ecstatic once we get to the Imperial prison.”
He sat up and smiled at his pilot. “Come on, Arden. There’s no way we’ll be in an Imperial prison. This is all a big case of mistaken identity.” He looked down the hall at the security station, at the guards posted there. “You should know things, and people, aren’t always what they seem. Have a little faith in my plan.”
“Who’s plan is it again?” Her eyes bored into him.
“Mine,” he grinned.
“Hence the lack of faith in it,” for the first time since they were placed in the brig her lips split into a smile.
Kyra sighed heavily, cracking one eye open from where she sat in her meditative posture, “Do you two ever stop bickering at each other. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you were an old married couple.”
The thief and the pilot both shot Kyra a glare. “Stay out of this!” they said in unison.
A brief silence fell over the ship’s brig, until Trey broke it. “Remember the time on Ord Cantrell? Sometimes I keep details to myself, just in case.”
“If I remember correctly,” the pilot said with arms folded across her chest, “Bralor and I found you buck naked and in a trash compactor.”
Trey just shrugged. “I wasn’t naked. I had an empty refuse bag around my waist and a couple flamegems in my mouth.”
Kyra shuddered visibly. “I was wondering where that was going for a minute.”
“It goes there.” the blonde said darkly. “He managed to swallow the gems as we were hauling him out of there.”
The redhead winced. “Eeww, ouch, and way too much information for only knowing you a short time.”
“You think that’s bad,” Arden giggled, “he has a birthmark in the shape of a wamprat on his…”
“All right, all right. Enough of this.” the thief said. He flopped back down on his cot. “The Diva Aidenne’s concert is in a few hours. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to rest a while before it starts.”
Kyra looked at Trey, then at Arden. “We’ll talk later,” she winked.
“I can hardly wait for my dear Diva’s concert.” Tiila’s expanses of bare pink skin seemed to shimmer as she sent a constant stream of allure into the air around her. The men half-circling her seat at the bar were easy targets, they wanted to be influenced.
She leaned back a little, her elbows on the hard wooden surface behind her. “Her singing is so,” She paused for emphasis, her blue eyes sparkling with an unspoken insinuation. “impassioned.” Her word practically moaned out of her.
The human man to her left, dressed in a brilliant green long coat with gold plated buttons raised his voice, the words almost cracking as he spoke. “Would you like another drink, Ma’am?” Before she even replied, he had flagged down the bartender, an easy task since the woman behind the bar was just as enthralled with the ambassador as the rest of her audience.
“You are too kind, Mister Serat.” She laughed easily and raised her hand to accept the pale green martini that was offered from behind her. “Where was I?” She tapped her black nail to her lower lip in thought a moment, bringing attention to the lips was one of her favorite moves. “Oh yes. Tonight’s concert… I know all of you have tickets, right?” She looked around at her collection and noted those who looked pleased with themselves and those who did not.
“Well, I am sure there are still plenty of seats available for those of you who have yet to pick yours up.” The pheromone in the air increased a little to emphasize her desire. “I would hate for any of you to miss an event like this.” She pouted jut a little as if the mere thought alone brought her displeasure.
One of the ship’s many couriers penetrated her field of gentlemen with a look on his face that said he was all too pleased to deliver this particular package. “I have a package for Miss Tiila” He held out the blue wrapped parcel he had been sent to her with.
With barely a glance to the gift, Tiila waved her hand dismissively. “Put it in my room with the others.”
The courier looked a bit dismayed. “But… miss… I was told to make sure you got it.” He held the box out and opened the hinged top. Within, amidst black satin that back dropped perfectly, was a long platinum chain, simple in its design. Resting in the center of the chain was a large stone pendant. The gem was a startling match in color to the woman’s own cerulean eyes.
Her protest was cut short as she saw the jewelry. “How judicious of the sender…” She reached into the satin and took the necklace in her hands. She couldn’t hide how pleased she was with this particular gift. Tiila smiled and decided to reward this boy for his diligence. “Do you mind?” She held the chain out to him and turned around, sweeping her long blue hair off her bare shoulders, a waft of pleasure rolling off her skin with the gesture.
Almost tripping over his own feet, he hurried forward to take it from her. With shaking fingers, he opened the silver clasp and lowered the pendant over her head. The blue stone settled between her breasts as he closed it, gasping a little when his fingers brushed the back of her neck giving him a direct dose of her influence.
Letting her hair fall back, Tiila returned to face her audience. She gave a gentle smile to the boy.”Tell the man that sent you that I am very grateful for his gift and that I hope to see him at the show.”She glanced to each pair of eyes that looked on her. “Just as I hope to see all of you there.”
“Ms.Tiila?” The imposing figure of the Mandalorian cut through the crowd like a knife. If the ambassador’s pheromone suggestion made them want to attend to the performance, simply to please her, Ures’vn Bralor’s presence hammered home the fear of what might happen if they did not.”Are you ready?”
The Zeltron’s attention could not have been taken quicker. She sat up and let the other men who she had no interest in the beginning fade back. “Ures, come to collect me already?” She smiled at her escort.
There was short nod to the helmet. “Yes, ma’am.” He spoke with a coolness that was at once imposing to those that were listening in on their conversation, but a clear deference and respect to the lady. “If you are ready.”
Tiila finished her martini in one quick swallow and held out her hand for the Mandalorian to take, much to the displeasure of her admirers. “I am always ready. Let’s not keep my dear Diva waiting.”
With not word but a slightly subservient nod, Bralor reached forward and gently set his hand under the Zeltron’s pink fingers, letting them drape across. She used that anchor to slip her self from her seat and and the reach of lapdogs that had been drinking deeply the feelings she had been feeding them, unaware that this was simply a taste of what they would experience when they attended Diva Aidenne’s performance.
Slipping her arm into his so he could escort her away from the collection of drooling hounds she had drawn, the woman gave her shipmate’s forearm a squeeze. She looked over her shoulder, the swish of her head doubling the influence of her words. “I expect to see each of you at the show tonight.”She winked playfully and let Bralor take her from the hall.
He looked straight ahead but that dark visor of his helmet hid the clone’s smirk. His voice, however did not. “You’re enjoying this.”
She glanced up at her companion with a little smile of her own. “Immensely.”
Nik pulled himself out of the long-range shuttle. It was a standard hyperspace-capable vessel, an attache-ship belonging to the Princess herself. He had, after all, needed to acquire a deflector coil for Jenks, and these “loaner” ships were hardly ever used… and never in a situation that would call for shields.
Of course, Nik didn’t particularly care if any of the wealthy humanoids that borrowed such ships traveled under ideal conditions, but by choosing one of these vessels instead of a private ship, or one more likely to get into combat, it would drastically reduce the chances of the coil turning up as missing any time soon… and after his near miss with Princess security, Nik certainly didn’t want them looking in his direction again any time soon.
Besides… what were the odds that a missing deflector coil on one of the Princess’ loaner ship would cause anyone any real difficulty? And besides, if it did, what would be the odds that it would affect him? Nik smiled behind his face-rags… Jenks wouldn’t be killing him after all, some crazy humanoid had gotten him out of trouble with security, and his crime would go undetected for probably weeks… things were finally starting to go his way!
Agent Deffico walked into the security booth. Glancing at the brig monitors, a smile flitting across his face as he saw the prisoners in their cells. “I’ll stand watch, officers. Why don’t you check out Diva Aidenne’s show? I hear it’s going to be something special.”
The guards looked at each other, grins on their faces. “Thank you sir,” the lead guard said. He and his partner was practically out the door before the words reached Deffico’s ears.
“Kids,” he mused as he walked into the holding cells. Looking back and forth, first at Trey, then the ladies, then back to Trey again, he shook his head. “You know son, you’re not very good at running these operations.”
“I do all right,” Trey said defensively.
The ISB agent shook his head. “All right? Your father would have already cracked this job and been in the outer rim by now.”
Arden’s look of confusion grew as she watched Trey and their captor exchange pleasentries, “What’s going on Trey?”
Trey’s eyebrow shot up. “Do you want to explain, Agent Deffico, or shall I?”
“Go ahead, my boy,” Deffico said as he leaned on his cane.
“All right,” the thief said with a wide grin. “This really isn’t ISB super-agent Letac Deffico.”
“Stang,” Kyra exclaimed. “I don’t know how I missed the resemblance before.” Trey and the man had the same eyes.
“What?” Arden’s head jerked between the two never staying on either long enough to make a connection, “What resemblance?”
Kyra rolled her eyes. “Sir,” she said to ‘Deffico,’ “could you go stand closer to your… whatever Trey is.” She waved her hand in Trey’s direction.
Trey broke into a smile as Deffico stood nearby and faced the two ladies with a smile that mirrored the thief’s. “How’s this?”
Arden’s eyes squinted. The officer’s features definitely looked kind of like an older Trey. Finally after several seconds, clarity dawned on the pilot, “You nerf herding son of a…”
“So, Dad,” Trey laughed, ignoring his pilot’s indignation, “Isn’t it about time you let us out and all?”
Nodding, the elder Vullif walked over to the console that controlled the cell doors and released the locks. “One more thing,” he said, opening a storage locker. “Your stuff.”
“Thanks, Dad.” The younger Vullif walked over to the locker and pulled out his stun blaster. “Sorry about this,” he said, pointing the weapon at his father.
A perfectly manicured fist landed solidly in Trey’s kidney “You jerk!”
“Arden!” Thing had quickly fallen into place in Kyra’s mind. Things, and people, aren’t always what they seem. This was all part of the plan. Not that she felt the young pilot wasn’t entitled to her actions… too many secrets with this crew. She sighed, grabbing the girl by the wrist. “C’mon, let’s let the boys have their father-son time.”
The son waved his father into the holding cell that Trey had just vacated. “I need the cane too, Dad.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Dien Vullif asked. “That thing is our one remaining family heirloom.”
Trey shrugged. “I’m not going to sell it. But it will make our job easier. And I know it’s charged.”
Raising his chin defiantly, Dien’s eyes narrowed. “No.”
An arc of blue light reflected off of the clean white-and-silver walls and floors of the brig, accompanied by the sound of a stun bolt being fired.
Kyra whipped her head around like a turbolaser, “Son-of-a-Sith-harlot! Trey, did you just stun your father?”
“I think I’m getting a migraine,” the blonde pilot rubbed the bridge of her nose trying to make sense of the past five minutes.
Trey walked out of the holding cell, holstering his blaster. “I had to,” he said, twirling the cane his father had carried. “It looks more convincing, plus I needed his cane.”
“For what? First you stun him, then you steal his walking stick?”
“Like many things about my father,” the rogue gripped the top of the cane and twisted, “appearances can be deceiving.”
Kyra expected there to be a short vibro-blade hidden within the cane, and was puzzled when the short grip came away with nothing attached. Trey looked at the small cylinder in his hand, then at Kyra, and back again. With something almost nearing regret, he tossed the object at Kyra.
“Here, you’re probably the best suited to… handle this,” Trey said as the object sailed through the air.
The red head deftly caught the cylinder, wondering what Trey could mean. She rolled it over in her hand, examining it. Recognition slowly dawned on her as she recalled her time at the Shadow Academy. Arden peeked over her shoulder, “What’s the big deal?”
The pilot’s answer came with a snap-hiss that bathed everything within a meter of Kyra in a veridian tinge.
Arden’s eyes went wide, “Is that?”
“Not exactly.” Trey replied with a smirk.
“It’s a light foil. It’s a tradition for hotshots in the Tapani Sector’s noble houses. Not as powerful as a real lightsaber but it’ll still cut through things. Just takes longer.”
“So you and your dad stole it from one of them? She looked up at Trey.
Trey shook his head. “It’s a family heirloom, Arden. Great-Grandpa Vullif was a saber rake. It might go back farther than that.” He checked his wrist chrono and peeked out into the corridor.
“You’re kidding,” Arden eyebrows arched, “so what you decided being a penniless con man is better than a rich noble?”
“Yes. That’s exactly what I thought,” Trey droned with a roll of his eyes. “Great Granddad chose to be stripped of his title and holdings and all the fortune that went with them. He planned for his son to become a thief who robbed the sons and daughters of Tapani to avenge him. He waved the ladies to follow him and started out into the corridor. “And he knew that thievery would become the family business, too. He’d be so proud.”
Kyra thumbed off the lightfoil and caught up with Trey within a few strides. “Bitter much?”
“It’s a bit of a sore subject in the family, yeah. Of course, dear old Dad has enough stashed away to buy a couple noble houses. But he’s sith-bent on me making my own fortune.” A mischievous smirk crossed his face. “I’m sure that didn’t figure into my decision to stun him.”