JT’s third class berth is a disorganized mess at the moment, with crafting supplies scattered all about. Following dinner with Tcho earlier this evening, during which they discussed her meeting with Ursa Diol and how the moff can be reformed, she switched her focus to meditation. Being a bit of a fidget, she needed something to keep her hands occupied during that. Since Tcho left to meet up with Kerr-Lonn-Ny, JT has made substantial progress on all the little origami crustaceans she needs for the gala’s centerpieces. She has not, however, made contact with Val Isa.
JT’s comm starts vibrating on the table next to her. She stuffs a paper crab into a small shell and taps it to answer in speakerphone mode. “Hey! It’s JT. What’s going on?” she says loudly, grabbing the next slip of paper and folding it into another critter.
Tcho’s voice sounds from the device, but it seems distant and is a little hard to make out over some rustling noises. “I’m sure with the duct tape across the captain’s mouth, he’ll be completely compliant from this point on.”
“Tcho, is everything okay?” JT shouts.
“The citizens on this vessel are pretty docile. It’s not like we need a whole brigade to take the place over.”
JT snatches up the comm. “Uh, Tcho, I think… Did you butt-dial?” She hears him mentioning a specific junction in the service corridors. Tcho has gotten to know her a bit during their time aboard the Dame, including how attuned she is to starships. She realizes he is peppering his speech with clues to his location. Then the other peculiarities of his statements sink in. Citizens. Brigade. JT told him about the Blue Streak Junior Citizens Brigade when they first met. Oh, no, Tcho’s in trouble! JT hastily changes into her gray and black bodysuit and locks the blue helmet into place. In a voice now modulated beyond recognition, she loudly encourages Tcho, “
Stay safe, citizen!” Then she dashes out the door, jetting down the hall.
* * *
A modulated voice, far too loud for Tcho’s liking, sounds from his pocket. “
Stay safe, citizen!” Moving swiftly to obscure where the noise came from, Tcho steps up to the captain to feign confiscating the communications device from him. The sudden motion sets his temple throbbing again, and he fumbles the grab. It is a sloppy enough performance that the thugs see through it.
“What the hell?” one of them demands.
Everyone is close in the narrow service corridor, and the jig is clearly up. Tcho takes advantage of the spacers’ proximity, striking at the nearest one with finely targeted blows. He elbows past the Nikto, moving farther down the corridor, hoping to draw them away from the captain. These thugs are not carrying blasters as far as Tcho has been able to tell. If they want to stop him, they will need to pursue him.
And they do. The thugs come at Tcho, but the close confines work to his advantage, limiting how much they can benefit from their superior numbers. Tcho dodges some swings and blocks others, clearly more trained at this than they are. He places his own strikes precisely, looking for openings to trigger sensitive nerve clusters, interrupt breathing, and cause blood pressure to plummet.
Whatever enmity Rowan was feeling towards the Pantoran evaporates. This man’s brilliant! the captain thinks, realizing it was all an elaborate ploy to take down the mutineers. It was a bit of a risk and he should have cleared it with me ahead of time, but still! He looks around for a way to help the good fellow. Rowan’s hands are secured, but his legs are free. The ruffians are not paying him much heed right now, so he is able to plant a solid kick on the injured Nikto. That villain stumbles aside, and Rowan sees Tcho slam the side of his stiffened hand into the human’s neck, collapsing that person.
The supposed-medic has turned out to be some sort of undercover security agent. “You’ve crossed the wrong people,” the Weequay growls, pulling out a vibroknife. The Nikto notes the escalation and draws one too. They need the captain alive for ransom purposes, but not this guy.
Vibroknives, again, Tcho groans internally. Fortunately these wielders are not as skilled as that Stormtrooper sergeant, and Tcho is able to easily evade the wild slashes. Still, these blades have wicked edges; disarming seems the best approach. And if a knife goes skittering down towards the captain, maybe he can cut himself loose, Tcho figures. He had enough presence of mind in the scuffle with Adalat to grab the gun, so there is a chance. Rowan throws a shoulder into the Weequay, and Tcho makes his move. A well-placed punch weakens the Nikto’s grip, and a spin-kick knocks the knife from the Weequay’s hand.
The captain is right there, so the Weequay changes tactics, grabbing Rowan and putting his head in a lock. In the struggle, the captain kicks out, catching the jaw of the Nikto, who was leaning down to pick up a knife. The Weequay, now the last one standing, shakes the captain menacingly and growls at Tcho, “You make another fancy move like that, and I’m snapping his neck.”
Tcho looks pointedly at the unconscious human. “I did that with my hand. You guys brought knives.” He crouches down, scooping up the Nikto’s knife. “You want to see what I can do with this? Just let him go, and you don’t have to find out.” Coercion is not really Tcho’s style, but he is running out of steam and needs to end this.
The Weequay suddenly shoves the captain at Tcho and makes a break for it. Tcho catches Rowan with his free hand and redirects his momentum out of the way, then tries to grab at the thug. The Weequay is just out of range. Tcho gives chase, though his heart is not really in it. Given enough time, he could maybe narrow the distance, but he can feel the blood pounding in his temple and how unsteady his stride is. They race down the service corridor, and Tcho sees his quarry slip through a hatchway. When he reaches it himself, he finds it locked. A mechanic would be really useful right now, he thinks, starting to look over the door.