An Inheritance of Stars

A chance encounter

Karlson entered the cafe and immediately knew it was a trap. His cybernetic eye had picked out that despite the hour, the restaurant only had 6 customers, 7 including the bartender, and they were all armed. He knew then that he wouldn’t be getting payed for this last job, more likely they would try to get the information, and then kill him. He probably should have turned and walked out, but then he would have to take care of them later; better to just send a message now. Without expression, Karlson seated himself at a center table, mid way between the corner booth containing 4 goons, and the bar where another 2 sat by the bartender.

Shortly a tall elderly man dressed in a tailored suit approached and seated himself across the table. “Mr Karlson I presume?” His accent was heavily Cantonese, yet the old man appeared to be strongly of Russian decent. “You have come with the information I requested?”

Karlson tilted his chair onto its back legs and looked insolently at the old man. “I got it alright. I know just where the Top Hats are selling the stuff.” He grinned at the slight widening of the old man’s eyes. “You didn’t know that they were in this did you? You should have, those Broom Boy scum are barely competent to know what they had found, of course their bosses are in on the deal.”

The old man’s smile was more sinister than friendly. “This information is new Mr Karlson, I suspect that my Manager will be pleased. I’m more than happy to offer you a little something extra to the agreed fee for the information on the meet.”

The goons in the cafe jumped noticeably as Karlson unsung the shotgun from his shoulder, and placed it on the table; he preferred shotguns over blasters because of the close range damage from the slugs, and the hugely intimidating blast when he fired. Moving his hands away from the weapon, Karlsen placed them into his jacket pockets and looked pointedly at the man across the table. Once the old man gestured for his thugs to settle down, Karslon spoke. “That bit of information is free, consider it a common sense bonus.” His tone was arrogant, and he watched with measured eyes as the old man began turning pink with suppressed anger at the blatant disrespect. “Besides, I strongly doubt that you even brought the initial payment to begin with.”

“If you didn’t think we were going to pay you, why did you sit down?”

Karlson’s facial cybernetics twisted his smile into a horrific expression. “I had to send a message, you know the kind…don’t fuck with me or I’ll kill you, and your little dog too.” Without pausing, Karlson pushed with his feet sending his chair over backwards. As he rolled, to his feat, his hands came out of his pockets. The pins from the 2 grenades fell to the ground even as he launched them across the room. The first one smashed the glass behind the bar and dropped to the ground at the bartenders feet, the second flew like a rock and struck the head of one of the 4 goons in the corner booth, knocking him out and falling under the table. Immateriality everyone began shouting; the men in the booth began tripping over each other in an attempt to escape, and the bartender pulled a blaster rifle from behind the bar and made to leap over; he should have left the gun. Both grenades exploded almost as one; the men at the table were eviscerated by the blast contained under their table, and the bartender was blown up and over the bar in several directions. The cafe was small enough that shrapnel flew through the air in all directions lacerating everybody. The old man was killed be a shard into his back, while Karslon took a portion of the bartenders blast from behind the bar into his side and back; fortunately his extensive cyber-ware prevented him from being killed outright. The other two men on the other side of the bar were relatively sheltered from both blasts and sustained only minor injuries. They both drew their blasters and turned towards him firing.

Karlson was hit once in his already damaged cyber leg, but since the leg was already almost useless he ignored the hit. He pulled his shotgun from the table and turned it towards the men. The two thugs were not wearing body armor. The first shot killed the man in front and sent him flying backwards into his companion, knocking him off balance. A second shot into the man knocked them both to the ground. The second man struggled to escape from under the body of his friend and to reach for his fallen weapon at the same time. Karlson calmly limped closer until he had a clear shot. "I supposed I could let you go and tell you bosses about this, but I think they’ll get the idea.

Moments after the 3rd shotgun blast echoed from the smoking ruins of the restaurant, a tall man limped out the door and disappeared from the scene before the Arbiters could arrive. What few witnesses would talk reported that his features were obscured by a large coat and hat.

An hour later, once he was sure that he was not being pursued, Karlson began considering his wounds. His cybernetics had protected his organic parts from serious injury, but both his metal and his fleshy bits needed work. Deciding that the organic components required the most imminent care, he made his way to a local medical supply store. Perhaps he could bandage himself up after hours, or maybe get the clerk to do it…once he was done, there was a small droid repair shop nearby where he could probably get some tools to patch up his augmentations.

An hour of observing the med center later, he was in luck; a tall handsome man exited the store carrying an armload of medical supplies. His appearance suggested that he wasn’t a local, and since he was both clean and carrying the supplies, Karlson figured he might just know something. He stepped out of the shadows and spoke. “Excuse me sir, are you a doctor?” He let the butt of his shotgun show from his tattered coat, “would you come with me please.”

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The next day, as the doctor left, Karlson reflected back. By all rights, he should have cleaned up his loose ends by killing the man, however it was rare to find someone who was competent in both medicine and repair, and willing to work with a shotgun pointed at his head. The man had worked with quiet confidence, and seemed knowledgeable about cybernetics. By the time the work was done, Karlson had decided that this man was more useful as a friend than a corpse. Hi took the doctor’s personal comm info, and gave him a couple credits for his time. If he needed patching up again, it would be handy to have someone talented on his payroll.

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Talib

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