Khelso leaned back in the control seat of the gun turret, his feet propped up on the deactivated console, and watched the tabacc smoke from his cigarra drift up as the recirculators struggled to clear it.
There wasn’t much privacy in a YT-1300, especially with more than a half-dozen sentients filling it, but Khelso figured he’d have a few moments alone in the turret. With the glassite shield covered during hyperspace and the access hatch firmly dogged, he could guarantee no one and nothing could interrupt his alone time.
He took another pull from the bottle he’d liberated from the galley. It was barely a step above fermented Bantha piss, but it had enough kick to help him dull his brain cells.
Seeing the smoking crater back in Parnell that had been an auditorium full of people had scraped open the scabbed-over memory of another place of death. 700 Devaronians, including his whole family, massacred because some motherless Imperial suckface hadn’t wanted the trouble of dealing with prisoners. The fact that the murderer responsible had been one of his kind made the atrocity that much more visceral.
That day he’d sworn to track down the Butcher of Montellian Serat and seek justice for his crimes. He’d jumped on the first ship and signed up with a veteran bounty hunter, eager to learn the trade.
Khelso grimaced and shook his head. What an idiot he’d been. He’d become a bounty hunter, all right, but lost whatever fire had burned in his belly as he scoured the dregs of the galaxy for the wretched refuse infesting it.
Then Parnell happened. He’d had no family or friends there, no reason to give two microcreds’ worth of concern over their fate. But he couldn’t erase the image from his mind’s eye of the mayor’s face as the man had tried to hide the knowledge of his fate and send a bunch of strangers on a wild mynock chase, just so they’d be spared.
Khelso crushed the cigarra in his hand as rage burned though his dulled senses. Damn it! Why did he do that? What the hell had motivated him? Why not save himself, or one of his own?
The Devaronian hated the thought of the unspoken debt he felt weighed upon him. The man had begged the motley crew of survivors to somehow bring those responsible to justice. What did the dweezer expect him to do when he couldn’t even get any satisfaction for his own family?
He looked down at the crumpled mess in his hand and sighed, the rage dribbling away like the tabacc flakes now littering the floor. Damn it, he thought tiredly. Damn it all to hell.
Khelso didn’t know what he’d do once the ship arrived at whatever backwater hive it was headed for. But he knew what he’d do that very moment. He’d light up another cigarra and finish the bottle. He figured he could manage that much.