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Credits are Credits

Written by: Marcus Caine and posted on: Sep 19, 2014

Marcus sat quietly in the Clan hall after the gathering, alone and contemplative. He turned a small dark wood box in his hands. He had found the box on one of the benches in the hall earlier this evening. It had seemed strangely out of place and his inquisitive nature had compelled him to take the box for further investigation later. His thoughts wandered.

Earlier that night, Consul Crsepe had been speaking of the need to generate additional income for the Clan. Times were tough and everyone had to dig in. Apprentices were especially encouraged to contribute. But Marcus had little interest in financial matters and absolutely no business acumen. Throughout his life he had either been looked after by his parents or looked after by the Empire. But he had kept one piece of financial wisdom close to his heart. His foster father had told him, “Credits breed credits.” He had lived by that during his career as a TIE fighter pilot, always keeping a significant stash of credits tucked away for the weekly sabacc match among the officers.

After making the rank of Major, the senior officers’ games provided a serious stream of income and liquor during his time in the fleet. Perhaps he could turn his skill at cards into a money making venture. But he had left that life behind and currently owned nothing of value, nothing to put up as an initial stake in a back room game of sabacc.

Compelled again by the curio, he peeked inside the small box. Within he saw the glint of four dirty and worn credit chips each with a value of twenty-five thousand credits. Grinning, he slipped the small dark wood box into his robes and headed for the launch bay.

As he made himself comfortable in the borrowed transport for the short hyperspace jump to the nearest seedy planet, his last thought before drifting off to sleep was that it should not be too hard to part a few simple minded gamblers with their credits.

***** Marcus Caine, Gambler *****

Marcus’ beard had never felt so itchy. It was the combination of sweat, fear and pending doom that had sent his senses into overdrive. His hands when quickly to his face to relived him of the discomfort. It had not been going well all evening at the dank gaming clubhouse he had found himself in. He had sat down at a rowdy table of what seemed to be regulars already engaged in a game, usually a good start. But he had been bleeding credits all night and no one had been betting big. The faces at the table slowly dwindled, taking more than their fair share of his credits with them. The only player left was a contemptible Rodian who had not uttered a single word all night.

The meagre pile of chips, less than 500 credits worth sat mockingly in front of him. The Rodian had just goaded Marcus in to buying in big on this hand. It was only after almost all of Marcus’ chips were in the middle that the Rodian leaned slightly to the left in his seat. Marcus had seen this before, the Rodian’s tell, clear as day, announcing, with all the fanfare of the TIE Corps marching band, an indefatiguable hand. The Rodian smiled slightly. Marcus’ thoughts turned quickly to violence.

Marcus had chosen the venue for his planned money making scheme well. It was probably the only good decision he had made all day. There were no scanners, no security feeds and only private security contractors. His trusty blaster carbine sat heavy in his concealed leg holster, begging to be released in an explosive cacophony of death and destruction. Even before joining the Brotherhood, Marcus could have killed every soul in the room in less than half a minute. Now, he reasoned, he could do it without breaking a sweat. And he would enjoy it. He could then scoop up every credit in the place, make it look like a robbery and quietly slip off-planet.

But the Consul had made it clear that any fundraising activities were to be low key. “How did it go?” Marcus thought to himself, “No disintegrations.” I’ll take this last chance to make the money back and then I’ll leave, Marcus reasoned. Better to return the credits from his own pockets, preferably unnoticed, than face the Consul’s wrath. The dealer coughed and he returned his attention to the game.

The Rodian twitched again and Marcus frowned, something was wrong. Scanning the room he found nothing out of place. Chiding himself for taking his eyes off the table, he peered closely at his opponent. One of the cards in the Rodian’s hand looked out of place. It was too new, too clean to be from this well worn and slightly sticky deck. It was clearly a skifter and a cheap one at that. Marcus had not been so inattentive that the Rodian could have palmed it in from his coat; he must have been dealt it by the dealer. There was no point in calling the Rodian out.

Marcus fury grew. His rage boiled over. The air around the table became slightly slick and oily from the dark side energy building in him. He felt sure, that if he let go, the resulting surge of energy would destroy the small, dingy clubhouse. What Marcus wanted to achieve, however, required more control than he had ever before mustered.

Marcus stared directly at the Rodian and said firmly but quietly, “You gonna fold?”It was more a statement, an order, than a question.

“I’m gonna fold,” said the Rodian, listless and weak, his cards slipping to the table.

Marcus breathed an uneasy sigh of release.

***** The Shame of Defeat *****

At Marcus’ request the cashier had paid him out the same way he had bought in, four twenty-five thousand credit chips and some small pocket change, about 750 credits. There was no way he could get the same chips back, even asking would have been way too conspicuous. He hoped the owner of the small dark wooden box wouldn’t notice. Hey, credits are credits, right?

He stalked the halls of the Swift Fury from the launch bay to his room silently, stopping only briefly in the darkened and quiet Clan hall to return the box to where he had found it.

Marcus sincerely hoped that no one had noted his absence; apprentices regularly disappeared from the Swift Fury for days without explanation. But if one of the Dark Jedi asked any questions about what he had done for the last two days Marcus doubted he could sustain a deception for very long.

***** Epilogue *****

Consul Crsepe held a small dark wood box in his hands and smiled to himself. Crsepe knew the Apprentice had learned some very valuable lessons during his unauthorized trip, including some Marcus was yet to fully understand. And the stinging sense of defeat and shame that Crsepe felt emanating for Apprentice Caine’s quarters was punishment enough for his misdemeanours. It would certainly temper his arrogance and self-certainty that was so typical of fighter pilots. It had been a test for Marcus, Crsepe's test, and one Marcus had neither really passed or failed. "That didn't happen very often," Crsepe thought to himself, "there is not really room for shades of grey in the Dark Brotherhood".

The Consul was also a tad surprised. The badly forged credit chips that he had originally placed in the small dark wood box were so riddled with errors he thought it unlikely a short sighted bantha would accept them. Another apprentice’s get rich quick scheme had left the Clan with about a thousand of these worthless lumps of plastic and Apprentice Caine had successfully laundered four of them into over one hundred thousand credits.

This would hardly solve the Clan’s solvency problem; one hundred thousand credits would barely purchase a month’s worth of emergency rations for the Swift Fury. Even still, credits are credits.

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