Chapter 1: Mon Patel's Paranoia

The Bysc Market is the only place in all of Maccaan where honest commerce can safely take place. No drug merchants peddle their poison here, nor do any hitnen find work within these stalls. Of all the places a denizen might wander, this is certainly the safest, but that is not to say that it is without its share of criminal activity. Even now, a wayward child marches through the crowds with ill intent in his heart. Kansomatharin, or Kanso for short, slides through the stream of bodies that surrounds him. He wears a thick poncho with a deep hood as many of his people do. Fendaren are never a welcome presence among Hyunans, but he intends to use this to his benefit. His eyes are trained on Mon Patel, a mid-level gangster in a mid-sized gang. Mon struts through the market with an entourage of three goons trailing him. Their heads are on a swivel so Kanso takes care not to venture too close. It’s unlikely they’d notice him, short and unassuming as he is, but he also cannot afford to take any chances. He has far too much at stake to give himself away now.
The mobsters come to a stop at Yvini’s Diner, one of the cleanest sit-down establishments in the entire continent. They serve the kind of food that only dirty money can buy, though by crown city standards it is still quite dull to the pallet. Seeing his targets duck into the restaurant distresses Kanso, but he will remain patient. He has no other choice at this point. He meanders through the stalls and stands near various kiosks while he watches Mon and his nen take a table on the diner’s patio. He does his best not to stare too hard though. The law enforcement may be slovenly, but they are by no means clueless. He also makes sure not to linger near any one shop for too long for fear of being suspected as a thief. To further protect his facade of innocence, he goes to order lunch from his favorite fry cook’s stand.
“Pjik kabob,” he requests, keeping his voice low to mask the distinctive vibrating quality that his Fendaren vocal cords produce.
“Good ta see ya, Kanso,” the portly nan bellows. “That’ll be eight pensen.”
 “Here you go, Quen,” Kanso says. He speaks so softly, that he can barely be heard over the perpetual hum of shoppers and merchants.
“Thank ya kindly, kiddo,” Quen chimes as he hands over the steaming skewer of meat. “Come back soon and stay outa trouble now.”
Kanso takes no insult at the implication. He simply nods his still-hooded head and departs. His small frame disappears into the crowd but it’s not long before Quon has another customer to attend to. Kanso likes him well enough. Quon may very well be as racist as any other Hyunan Kanso’s ever come across but money is money to him and he’s never turned away Kanso’s business. Of all the transgressions against him, there is nothing Kanso finds more humiliating than to have someone refuse his money. The Fendaren rely on nen like old Quon to stay fed, for it is one thing to have credits enough to eat and another to find a merchant who will actually accept them. This is the harsh truth that these children must face each day and it is a condition that worsens as time rolls onward.
Kanso finds that his targets are right where he left them, their meals now on their table. He finds a recently vacated bench and lays claim to it with haste. From this seat, he keeps an eye on the gangsters. To any passerby, he looks like a shy Fendaren enjoying a meal. And he is enjoying it a great deal. While those with a more refined pallet would readily turn it away, Quon’s pjik kabobs are one of Kanso’s favorite sources of protein. He munches on the juicy steak bits, savoring every fatty bite. As he sits here, he wishes for more quiet moments, namely ones that don’t include him waiting for the right moment to complete a job. He’s waited too long on this one too. He knows it’s only a matter of time before Fredryko sends someone for him. This has been a much harder mark than Kanso anticipated. Whatever Mon has on his comm unit, it’s got him in a fit of paranoia. He never goes in public without his three lackeys to protect him. He rarely goes anyplace that isn’t busy and he never stops looking over his shoulder. He’s a nan that knows he’s a target, but he doesn’t know whom he’s targeted by. If Kanso isn’t careful, that will soon change and then Mon might become permanently out of his reach. There are dozens of ways that this job can end poorly for little Kanso and only a handful in which he can come out triumphant. Now that he’s nibbled every last bit of meat off of the wooden skewer, worry returns to his mind. He thinks maybe he’s been too patient this time. Perhaps he should have taken a less desirable opportunity. It would have been messy, yes, but at least he would not be in the position that he now finds himself in. This might be it, his last chance to get this done. The alternative is begging for mercy that he knows won’t come. If he worshipped me, I’m sure he’d be spending these moments in prayer. But he doesn’t believe in my existence as many Fendaren do not. This doesn’t stop me from sending my graces down to him in hopes that he will open up to me and accept them.
Instead, he flicks his skewer into the nearby receptacle and trains his eyes on the gangsters. He watches them as they finish their meal and grows agitated as they sit there in conversation. Finally, they arise, having paid their bill, and now they reenter the streets. Kanso departs from his seat after they’ve walked a little ways. He hopes to finally follow them to a more opportune location. If he could just get close enough to Mon, perhaps he could pickpocket the device somehow. But Mon’s goons are watchful and they’d spot a creeping Fendaren well before Kanso could even come close to the group. All he can do is follow and wish to his lucky stars that his time will come. After walking behind them for a ways, Mon stops short and Kanso sees him give an order to his nen. They dip into a secluded alley in the outskirts of the market where the stalls and shops start to give way to apartment complexes. This is it, this is his chance! He attempts to temper his excitement, trying hard not to race into the alley after them. Instead he waits behind a building before entering and continuing his pursuit.
At the end of the alley, he sees Mon and his goons breaking into a land shuttle parked in the back of an apartment complex. It looks rather expensive for a resident of these parts. It’s a rare thing to even see one as clean and well-kept as this outside of Maccaan’s small uptown district. It seems to Kanso that whatever’s got Mon as paranoid as he is has resulted in the gangster becoming sloppy. He’s spotted a means of escaping this place and obviously thinks that stealing the shuttle will bring him salvation. Lucky for this vehicle’s owner, Kanso has no intension of letting these nen abscond away with it. He catches himself walking a little too fast so he slows down and works on steadying his breathing. He’s been too careful to ruin the operation with haste now. He strolls along with this arms wrapped around his torso and his head down. The lightness in his stride even keeps the gangsters from hearing him approach until he’s nearly upon them. Once he’s close enough, he lets his feet shuffle a little to get their attention. The nen look up, wicked grins stretching across their faces.
“Take care of it,” Mon hisses as he continues to hack the shuttle door’s lock with his vibro pick.
“You got it, boss,” the particularly beefy henchnan, named Bennen hums.
He leads the others toward Kanso where they form a blockade in the alley. Kanso stops short and shivers for effect. Bennen smiles over him, flexing his bare biceps in front of his chest in a conceited display of strength.
“Please, I’m not looking for trouble,” he whimpers, trying to sound as feeble as possible. He knows this is what these nen like.
“That’s a funny thing to hear from a Fendaren,” Bennen chuckles.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Kanso whispers.
“Oh you mean this here shuttlejacking?” a short, wiry goon named Yrn teases.
“I won’t tell anyone, I’m just trying to pass through. I promise.”
“Oh he promises!” the third goon, a nan by the name of Ulen, chides.
Bennen laughs at the mockery. “What good is your word then gillface?” he challenges, throwing a meaty finger in Kenso’s face. “Huh, why should we believe a little piss like you?”
“I’m begging you…” Kanso hunches his back, curling himself up into a sort of half-ball. He knows this show of weakness will get these nen good and riled up. This is what these people live for.
Bennen grins wide as he struts around to Kanso’s back, thinking he’s too weak to stop him. “Alright, alright, we believe you little guy.” He runs his hand through his slicked back, blond hair and cocks his chin up into the air. “But you see, we’re gonna beat your green ass anyways, just to be safe.”
With that, the goon clamps both hands down on Kanso’s shoulders. This is it. This is what he hoped for. In one swift motion, Kanso ducks down and launches a foot into his attacker’s crotch. Bennen gasps for air and immediately releases his grip on the Fendaren. Freed from the hold, Kanso leaps toward the thug and lands a vicious punch into his temple. Bennen’s barely collapsed to the dusty pavement when Kanso flips into the air and slams his foot down into the base of the nan’s skull. The oversized goon lies there in a heap of unconscious muscle while his companions rush Kanso. The Fendaren ducks down as Yrn makes a swing for the back of his head. Kanso slides backward and shoves a boot into the back of this Yrn’s knee. A wild yelp echoes down the alley as he falls onto his hands and knees. Ulen takes a swing at Kanso, but the Fendaren catches his arm and wrenches it down towards the ground. Ulen’s pulled into a hunched posture, pain shooting through his arm. He barely has time to yell when Kanso twists the nan’s arm up behind his back and hops up to straddle the nan’s lower back. Kanso’s legs lock around Ulen’s body like a vice grip and he uses the leverage to twist Ulen’s arm so hard that it’s ripped clean out of socket. The gangster howls out, but is soon cut off when Kanso unwinds himself from the nan’s body, grabs him by the back of his spikey, black hair, and smashes his face into a wall.
Mon’s attention moves away from the shuttle into the alley where he sees his nen getting dismantled by one little Fendaren. “Dammit!” he growls as he whips out a blaster from within his red leather jacket.
Kanso sees the attack coming, expects it even. He crouches down to avoid a barrage of energy beams, snatches a throwing knife from inside his boot, and flings the weapon directly into Mon’s wrist. The gangster screams as he drops the gun and clutches at his impaled forearm. Yrn tries to crawl away from the fight on one knee, but Kanso twirls up into the air and delivers a concussive kick to the back of Yrn’s head. His face bounces off of the unforgiving pavement, drawing blood from his nose and knocking him out cold. Mon whines as he struggles to remove Kanso’s dagger from his arm. He withdraws it in time to square off against the Fendaren.
“Who are you?” he demands.
“Someone who didn’t want any trouble,” Kanso reminds him, hoping to sell the lie before he contends with this one last standing gangster.
“You can walk away if you want,” Mon offers.
Kanso smiles beneath the rim of his hood as he sneers, “Not a chance!”
He breaks into a full-on sprint towards Mon who charges forward to meet him, knife in hand. As Mon goes for a swipe, Kanso leaps forward and dropkicks his target in the chest. Mon drops the knife and flies back against the shuttle, leaving a dent in its side. He sits with his back against its rear propulsor, dazed and helpless as Kanso roundhouse kicks him in the side of his skull. Mon lies limp while Kanso surveys the scene for any more threats. Satisfied with his work, he crouches down to where Mon is strewn against the shuttle. He feels around the inside of his jacket and withdraws Mon’s comm unit. A grin crosses Kanso’s face as he finally has his mark. Hoping to cover up any lingering suspicion about who he might be, he goes  to each of the goons and lifts their comms as well. He stuffs them into the deep pouches of his belt, keeping an eye out for anyone that might spot him. He even steals all the pensen the nen have on them just to make the robbery feel authentic, not that it ever hurts him to have a little extra money on hand. Once he has what he needs, he flees the alley, stripping off his poncho and dropping it into a dumpster before he rejoins the stream of bodies that walk the main streets. 

He’s sure that Mon and his nen will come looking for him once they’ve regained consciousness and there are few enough Fendaren around where even a hooded one’s passing would be noticed. Better to expose his green skin and purple eyes than to be tracked by his poncho. Kanso heads through the market for the Yurai Plaza. He’s sure to be punished for his tardiness in completing the mark, but at least he finally finished the job. He breathes a little easier as he shuffles through the crowd. He did good work today, clean work, the kind he’s known for. He’s good at this. He just hopes his employer won’t take too much exception to the delay. 
To the mortal eye, this young Fendaren is as inconsequential as anyone else on this crime-infested continent, but I know better. I see the path that lies before him and I know the choices that he will have to make. I intend to watch him with great interest.

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