I’m not sure how long I just sat there cradling Katellan’s head. It could have been two seconds, or it could have been two hours. When I finally looked up, I saw the Trandoshan staring at me. He didn’t have his blaster pointed at me this time, however. “That shot was meant for you,” he said in Huttese. “Be glad your friend took it for you.” A red bolt of energy passed over his head, but he didn’t duck. Instead, he continued talking to me. “I don’t have to kill you now. He will do it for me.”
With that, he ran out of the hanger. I stayed down on the ground with the body. The sound of footsteps behind me made me turn. Nalith was walking up to me with a scowl on his face. He stopped right in front of me and began screaming. “My employer told me you were going to be a pain to work with, and he was right. If you had done what you were told to do, and left well enough alone, none of this would have happened!”
Normally, I don’t do things as stupid as shooting my mouth off at people who could easily kill me, but I’d had enough of this. “You forced me into this situation. You threatened my life and my livelihood. You got my friend killed and now you’re trying to blame this all on me? I’ve got two words for you, pal….”
I was unable to finish my thoughts as a fist caught me squarely in the jaw. Flat on my back is not an advantageous position to start a fight in, but that’s where I found myself. Nalith stood over me. His weight started shifting from one leg to another, so I knew he was about to strike. My knee shot up, in hopes that it would catch him in the crotch. He must have anticipated this as he moved enough for it to hit his thigh instead. A blur that used to be his hand came at me and my world went black again.
Waking up to find a mercenary standing over me was becoming too much of a habit for me lately and I was getting a little bit tired of it. Nalith looked me over before he began to speak. “This is how this is going to work from now on: You’re only going to speak to me if I ask you a question. If you talk without me asking you a question, I will hurt you. Do you understand?”
“Sure,” I replied.
“Good. Now that we no longer have Turussk with us, we need someone to win the race. Since the race is in a couple of hours, we don’t have enough time to convince another of the racers to work with us. So, what is going to happen is that you will race for us. Not only will you race for us, you will win for us.”
I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. “I can’t finish better than last without someone fixing the race, and you expect me to win one of the biggest races on the circuit? Good luck with that.”
Nalith backhanded me across the face. “You will do this, or I will make the evidence of the last race being fixed in your favor public. Your career would be over. I can also find other ways to make your life a living hell.”
“Sorry for breaking the talking rule, but simply threatening me will not make me a good swoop racer.”
“Your problem is not that you’re a bad swoop racer. Your problem is that you’re too cautious. If you’d stop playing it safe, you’d win. You have the fastest swoop bike in every race, yet you still come in last. Stop worrying about crashing ans start worrying about winning.”
His words hit me like a bolt of lightning. I’d heard them before, about a year ago, just not from him. I now knew who his employer was, I just didn’t know what I was going to do about it.