-"Yeah, yeah... I know. Calm down, Cadet Reillo, I saw it! Just relax, will you? It's just another stupid security drill, rookie. You wanna know how I know this 'alert' is a bunch of poodoo, easy... because they always use their own guys for this stuff! Here, just look at the holo-pic they put out of this supposed 'fugitive'... now, a true lowlife doesnt' look like this! This guy looks like he could lift a ton! Real 'dust-bunnies'... that's what I like to call stim-heads, hehe... now, they're too busy wasted away from getting mind-zapped to be able to body slam an ewok! Just keep your eyes open for a too-fit looking, human male, dressed in lower-street garb, pretending to be too nervous about something as small time as just trying to sneak a little contraband through planetary customs. And of course, I can always tell if it's a real spice-junkies, or not. You wanna know how I do it, rookie? It's easy. Because, you nerf herder... unlike the real sleemos... those PFS guys, still have all of their teeth!"

-a veteran Concordia Dawn Spaceport Security Officer, educating his trainee on a few of his vital secrets of achieving longevity in such an extremely serious and demanding profession-

Chap3_

The ringing of an old-style hanging metallic bell, announced the unexpected arrival of such an oddly early-hours keeping customer, to the snoozing proprietor with out the withered bring even having to open his hooded, time-weathered, bulbous eyes.

Although, technically, the dingy neon-red, randomly flickering, cracked illumi-plast sign out front of the dismal looking shop, did promise that the establishment would be open for business... 'Open anytime, day or night!'..; it was very unusual anyone to come in so nearly to dawn.

At least, not without some consideration being given towards issuing some form of fore warning. Just to keep the chances of any... misunderstandings... to a minimum.

So, even as groggy as he was, the semi-retired old hoodlum's squinted eyes still missed nothing. The sight of Mandalorian armor was instantly enough for him sit up more fully, and become much more wary in whatever dealings this being had a mind to conduct with him, at this... such an oddly deserted hour.

Suspicious as he was, the merchant managed to mumble out a acceptable sociable greeting to his possible new customer.

"Welcome, welcome..." the Neimoidian grunted amiably, perhaps over playing his lack of mental sharpness just a bit. It was a con he liked to run on strangers, Boba knew. Especially, to the ones he though might turn out to be more trouble than their usually ill-gotten goods are worth.

Behind his helmet, he tried not to grin... so that it wouldn't creep into his voice. Old Gril'osh's hearing was a whole lot better at detecting stuff like that than most beings. Fett had to remember while dealing with the wily slum merchant, to keep his voice as monotone, and his words as short, as possible.

He strode up to the merchants counter and stopped, slowly looking around as to assure himself that their whatever transaction was about to take place, would remain mutually confidential.

Once his pseudo-curiosity was played off as being cured, Fett silently reached into his carry all, and began laying the contents out upon the counter top for the fence's obvious appraisal.

"Oh.. uh.. I see." The shaken shopkeeper muttered. "Well, before I can give you any kind of price for these... uh, items... I am bound by law, to ask. Uh, to your knowledge... uh,... were any of these items, in any way, obtained illegally?"

They both knew it was a useless formality. The extra stressing of the key, legally-required words, made it all the more subversive... and amusing. As if a simple, verbal assurance of authenticity of goods, would ever be enough to convince any ethical business being.

"Umm-hmmm." Fett grunted along with a nod, non-verbally acquiescing to the black market dealers insincere inquiry.

"What am I saying? Of course they aren't!" the merchant quickly, and knowingly, agreed. "Now that unpleasant business is out of the way, let's take closer look at what you have here..."

This part was a ploy make prospective clients nervous. Used to see if they knew the real value of whatever they were trying to pawn off on him. So he could then, decide just how much he could fleece them for at the closing. Rather than risk tipping his hand towards his true identity by trying to rush things along, Fett resolved to just stoically wait the process out.

While waiting, he walked over to investigate the merchandise displayed in the lighted cases tucked far off to the right of the register. Pretending to be interested in some rusty looking piece of junk out for purchase, Boba likewise pretended that he did not know what 'merchandise' truly lay hidden beneath the brightly lit showcases, illegally scanner-shielded, false bottom.

Underneath the rows of disorganized knick-knacks, lay one of the most lethal weapons arsenals this side of the Hydian Way! That, was what Gril'osh actually sold out of this run down, dimly-lit, storefront. Just to help him 'make ends meet', as he often said.

After what seemed to Boba like an inordinate amount to time, the dealer finally looked up from his appraisal tool, and declared somewhat ashamedly.

"I'm afraid I, uh... that I won't be able to give any more than, oh... say... one-fifty... for the whole lot." He stretched out the syllables of the amounts to make it seem as though it was paining him to offer so much, for so little.

Fett already knew that the cheapest stim-head on the street would eagerly hand over closer to three-fifty for a haul like this... much more than the pro-offered, low-ball price Gril'osh has given him. Oh, if only he had the time to haggle. But, he didn't. To wrap things up quicker, Fett threw out a flat... take it, or I walk out; "Two seventy-five..."

Once he saw the greedy Neimoidian gearing up to shake on such a sweet deal, just for fun, Fett added on, "Oh, and I'll take my pick of the other merch' you have... under the counter there, too."

Without even bothering to deny any knowledge of what the stranger was referring to, the aged alien stated, "Nope. I can't do that." he refused. "If you know about that hidden case, then you already know that you've got nothing up here," he pointed down at the twin counter tops between them, "that's worth anything under there!"

This time, his smile could not be contained. He hoped his old associate wouldn't mark him on it, as he threw up hands in surrender, and nodded down at the pile of looted valuables he'd set forth. "Fine then, just give me three hundred for the shiny stuff, and I'll be on my way, then."

The elderly man silently agreed to the bargain, and swiftly handed over the undisputed sum. Although, out of his smart business sense, or just to facilitate the exit of this most disturbing new patron... Boba couldn't be sure.

As he passed over the unmarked... and thus, electronically untraceable creds... the old man seemed to catch a glimpse beyond the iron mask. He looked intently, directly into Boba's hidden eyes, and added,

"Safe travels to you, ad'ika."

The phrase was a common Mandalorian one, that Fett remembered from his early childhood. It simply meant 'young one', or 'dear one', or something like that. What struck Boba short was that, as far as he knew, Gril'osh didn't call anyone else by that nickname. Only him. The wily old rcriminal had found out about Boba's Mandalorian lineage, somehow. But, he'd never tried to use it against him. It was just one of the reasons Boba had felt it was safer coming to see Gril'osh, now.

But then, he couldn't say for sure that he'd ever been around Gril'osh when Mando's were nearby. So, as far as Boba knew... the Neimoidian could be in the dangerous habit of addressing all beings sporting Mando armor that way.

It was the open frankness, however, and the seeming sincerity with which it was spoken, that had caught him so unprepared. And for just that small moment, Boba allowed himself to reach back out, and return the old man's gesture of good faith towards a fellow being.

"And you, as well." He honestly replied.

With a small, hidden grin... it felt to connect with someone for perhaps, the last time... he turned, and started to walk out of the antique store, and out of Gril'osh's life, forever.

While his mind tumbled through it's memories of thousand untold good-byes... his mouth took the opportunity seized this one, last chance to bid a friendly face, a fondly familiar farewell.

"Catch you next time, you old fungoid."

As soon as the derisively xenophobic, yet mutually long-bantered, private joke between them, had slipped past his lips... he knew he'd just made a critical mistake.

Quickly, he turned his anonymously helmeted head, and started striding for the exit. Behind him, he could almost hear the gears grinding in the fence's age enfeebled mind. If he could just make it out of the place before the old crook's aged mind could solved the puzzle, the former law officer might not be forced to leave another corpse in his wake.

"Wait a second, I know that voice..."

Although this killing would be more ethically justifiable than the last... that, of the poorly-timed, patrol officer; dead bodies got noticed. And, until he was safely out of the system, he was definitely trying to avoid drawing any attention to himself. Also, he really didn't want to hurt the old man, if he didn't have to.

Despite his being an unrepentant career criminal, Gril'osh was essentially a good man.

That fact that he'd chosen to make his living in defiance of the laws of is fellow beings, didn't change that he was also a dependable, and in his own way, trustworthy person. Since his first days on the job, it had seemed to Boba that, somehow, he'd gained the elderly fences grudging respect. Perhaps, due to his abject refusal to take any of the many bribes offered to impoverished Concordian Dawn security officers, like the ones they both knew some other patrollers, eagerly partook of. Mutual respect, or not... either way, Boba still wished to avoid having any unpleasant interactions right now.

Silently urging the geriatric criminal to not force his hand by finishing his furtive ponderings, Fett hurried his stride towards the exit.

He'd just placed his hand on the doors entry pad, when he heard the decrepit Neimoidian voice, astonishingly croak out the lone word that unwittingly sealed his own doom.

"Vhett?!"

Without a word, Boba slowly lowered his hand from electronic data pad... and stopped on the handle for the small doorways' non-regulation... and thus, non-bypassable; old fashioned mechanical locking mechanism.

With an inner sigh, he pushed the hard metal bolt home.

The condemning harsh 'clank', confirming it's secure employment, echoed throughout the suddenly silent storefront.

Even the normally mouthy old alien, knew better than to disturb the peaceful sanctity of the violence laden silent that now hung in the stale air between them.

At least, not until Boba had managed to turn his T-shaped visors glare more fully towards it's intended target. By then, the urge to begin blubbering overtook the wizened old hussler... even though he surely knew that, this time... his notoriously long run of good luck, had finally run out.

Before Fett managed to complete his first step towards the counter, Gril'osh's normally gravelly voice rang out now in a shrill, terror tightened, squawk!

"I... I... I didn't...m-mean, I mean... I w-wouldn't... d-d-dare say a-anything! I... I s-swear, I..I. w-wou-... AA-AHHGG!"

This last, indecipherable bit... was due to the amount of intense pressure being applied to the withered Neimoidians long, well-exposed throat. For it was just about that point in his stream of blathering pleas, that Fett had finally approached the counter.

Then, without a single sign of warning... he suddenly reached out with his left hand, and started squeezing his well-intentioned friend's flimsy neck, with all of his guilt-fueled might... like he was desperately trying to get every drop of juice from an unripened Har-barra fruit!

Finally... although much sooner than he'd honestly expected... Fett felt the decrepit aliens body give up on the fight. He colsed his eyes tightly shut until he felt the feeble beings windpipe crumble between his straining fingers. Only then could he look upon the stricken face of his unlikely friend.

When saw the last glimmers of life dim from his victims overlarge eyes, Boba leaned over his still warm corpse, and softly whispered;

"Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la, ner vod..."