// C O R U S C A N T //
// G A L A C T I C _ C I T Y //

「 H A V E _ Y O U _ E V E R _ K I L L E D _ A _ M A N 」
"Oh, I assure you Mr. Fen, the Treasurers are just as keen to see this agreement blossom further," the former Senator of Coruscant assured his correspondent over the holophone. Smoggy wisps of cigarra smoke escaped from between his dentures with every syllable. Ashes were tapped from the tip into a tray attached to the arm of his power chair. "Yes. Uh-huh, of course."

All was going well. Zeltros's 'war on drugs' painted a picture of change and morality. A new leaf to overturn and soothe the social epidemics that had ingrained themselves in that decadent society for centuries. A ruse. In reality, the patterns of addiction were facilitated, and the revenue funneled into the Galatic Alliance's Corporatist Party and the Zeltronain Cartels right under the nose of Concord Representatives.

"Take care, Mr. Fen," he bid before ending the call. The dejarik table to his left chimed as a move was made in his remote game. Ido's chair hovered towards the table and he surveyed the board state. Gat Tambor Gat Tambor was utterly ruining him, yet again. The former Senator glanced contemplatively from his penthouse windows. WeatherNet's gray overcast and heavy rains were a visual chaos where one's mind could find clarity. "B-Five to Aurek Four."

The holographic beast trekked along the circular warped spaces to the requested position. It was a damage control move, nothing that would break the Senator of Skako's iron grip on the board. Ido had accepted his own defeated several moves prior, but he was never one to resign a game. The holotally that read 'Tambor - 18 Bastra - 4' wasn't exactly encouraging. A game invitation from Aerarii Tithe had been waiting for over a week. Perhaps he'd try his luck there once Tambor had finished mopping up what was left of this game.

Ido's eyes strayed from the dejarik table when a dark figure was caught in his peripheral vision. Clad in black robes, face obscured by an elongated hood, the figure was leaning against a retaining wall near the Penthouse's automated bar. Arms crossed with an impatient malice that exuded potently enough that even Ido's minimal force sensitivity could detect. Ido drew his Technoid sidearm from his belt and pointed it towards the intruder.

"Who are you? How did you get in here!?"

The figure pushed away from the wall, standing straight it began to advance. Its steps resonated not even the slightest tap has it made a slow and determined beeline.

"Stop!" Ido demanded with a raspy shout. His finger squeezed the trigger when the intruder's advance did not cease. The muzzle screamed as it regurgitated a red-hot bolt of tibanna. It crashed into the wall behind, shattering a bottle of liquor. The figure had disappeared entirely, ceasing to occupy the space where Ido had aimed. His power chair backtracked several feet, his eyes leading the sight of his blaster around the room. A thud towards the lounging area drew out another shot. A black scorch mark burned into the glasteel windows that portal to the rains beyond.

"Mr. Bastra!? Is everything okay in there!?" The digitized voice of his head of security called out from the PA system. Ido took a few breaths, looking around the penthouse again. It was quiet, no sign of anyone besides himself. Maybe the cognac and all-nighters were getting to his head. Must have been. If someone was out to get him, surely he'd be dead by now. Right? "Yes, Kozlin, everything's fine. I- I just need some rest."

A hand suddenly seized the shoulder of his power chair, whipping it around in a sudden one-eighty. He dropped his blaster with the sudden jostle, sending it clattering against the tile. Ido called out with surprise as he was brought to face the shrouded figure, flickering out of transparency to full visibility. A cold, unignited lightsaber hilt was pressed against Ido's heart as the figure pushed the chair several feet back before it stopped against the back of a couch.

"Wh-wh-wh-? Easy. Wait, wait, easy! J-just tell me what you want," Ido pleaded.

A cybernetic hand shifted against the metal of the lightsaber hilt. The red right hand slowly raised, burned and marred fingers grasping Ido's holophone that the figure must have managed to lift from him in the sudden confusion. It was already calling Mr. Fen. "Cancel the Zeltros contract," the figure demanded as it held the phone up to Ido's ear.

"What? I can't just-"

"I'm not asking."

"Hello, Ido?" The man on the other line had already answered before there was any chance for further protest.

Ido talked with Mr. Fen for what felt like hours. Every word was chosen carefully, and his tone a facade to stave away any sense of panic. The assailant watched with bright blue eyes locked on his own from behind the shadowed obscurity of the hood. Ido could hardly get a glimps of his face aside from the red skin and dark hair that were only just discernable from behind the black.

"O-Okay. It's done. Wh- What- Why are you doing this?"

The figure slowly pocketed his holophone after ending the call with a disfigured thumb. There was a tortured silence between them before the figure finally spoke. "Do you have children, Ido?"

"No," Ido lied as a twitch reaction.

"Of course you do," the figure replied, calling his bluff. "Do you know the kind of things those cartels do to children?"

Ido did not reply. He knew all too well, but he'd remained in his own doublethink to wash his hands of the issue, in his own mind, at least. "So this is about the kids?" He asked. "I've funded many programs to-"

"Shut up," the figure demanded, pressing the hilt hard into Ido's chest.

"So, wh-what then? What now? Are you going to go after Tambor? Tithe? Chandra?"

The figure didn't reply. His hesitation to flip the switch unfelt by anyone but himself.

"What? You don't know how this works, do you? You think them any better than me? Any less corrupt?" Ido was trying a confidence play to make the interloper reconsider, perhaps even doubt.

"No," the figure replied. The switch on the lightsaber clicked as a blade of crimson plasma shot out from the hilt and pierced through Ido's heart. The old man flinched and seized, totally frozen. His mouth fell open, but there was no scream. "I don't."

The life flickered out of Ido's eyes as the blade hissed back into the hilt. The old man's corpse slumped to the left, a smoking hole in his chest. The assassin stood and stared at his handiwork for a moment, his gaze drawn away by the sudden interruption of the dejarik table chiming once again. The assassin stepped towards the table, taking one look at the board state before declaring; "Aurek Four to D-Seven."

It was a move Ido would never get the chance to make. In fact, it was a move far beyond the foresight that Ido possessed. A winning move, slipping through an obscure hole and ending the game altogether. Batra's win counter flicked from four to five on the holotally. It was the first sign, the first trace to the outside world that something was wrong. Such a little thing.

The assassin turned to his left, side-eyeing a security camera that had caught the whole thing on holofeed.


His form shimmered away from the visible realm. Just like that, the penthouse went quiet. Forever.