With Bala wanted by the Empire and currently preparing for a suicide mission to rescue Val, I thought it might be a good idea to have a new character ready.
Kato Stompcraft. Ex-Pitfighter Besalisk Warden/Marauder
The durasteel chains creaked and groaned as the Wookiee’s enraged ululations rattled dust from the overhead conduit.
“You’re wasting your energy”, a warm accented voice said from the shadows. “You see, those cuffs are crafted from beskar alloy. You may be strong but you’ll pull your hands from your wrists before you so much as scuff their finish. As for the yelling, well, as you might have guessed we are in the undercity. 100 meters of duracrete separate us from Level 1313 and trust me, the scum that live there aren’t the chivalrous type. Not to worry though, I was just about to let you go, but first I have a story to tell you.”
While the Wookiee warrior raged and struggled, the stranger began his tale. Though he told the story well and his rich country voice was pleasant enough, their was a detached quality to the telling that would have left a listener uneasy. As it was, the captive was well past uneasy and not much for nuance, so the story’s tone went unnoticed.
The story told of a young Besalisk taken at a young age to the jedi temple. The friendship and purpose he found there. Following that he told of the boy’s tragic flight following Order 66. It went on to tell how the unlikely pair of a Nikto master and Besalisk youngling could start to think of each other as mother and son.
It was about at this point that the hulking form of the storyteller stepped into the light and knelled before the prisoner. The weak illumination of the service lights revealing a figure dressed in a battered poncho and oversized hat. Though the clothing covered his considerable bulk, they did little to hide the strength and power that practically radiated from him.
“Eventually, that boy and his mother, found their way to the outer rim and into possession of a small ranch on a dusty little moon of no consequence. There they lived in quiet isolation for several years far away from the core and its jedi hunters.
“Patience” the stranger said, letting a little annoyance slip into his voice. “You’ve waited this long, please, allow me to finish my tale.”
“As children are wont to do, that young boy grew into a young man and his talent with the force grew along with him.
While his life on the ranch was good, like so many young men, he longed for adventure. So against his mother’s wishes, he packed up his meager belongings and went out into the world, determined to become the hero he believed he was destined to be.
Of course destiny is seldom found so easily and that young man learned quickly that in the city, the skills of a ranch hand were not in high demand.
Fortunately, a life of ranching and having a jedi warden as a mother gave him a powerful build and the skills to use it. So, in need of credits and with few other skills, the young man got a job as a bouncer in a particularly nasty Nar Shaddaa bar. It was there that he had his first run in with Vogga the Hutt.”
“Ohh… you know Vogga do you? Of course you do but we are jumping ahead. Where was I.”
“You see, at the time Vogga was heavily involved with underground pit fighting, or at least as underground as anything is on Nar Shaddaa. One night after a particularly spectacular incident involving half a doesn’t trandoshan mercenaries, Vogga presented him the opportunity to make a year’s wage in a single night. With financial trouble back at the ranch and few other prospects, the professional fighting circuit seemed like an opportunity to make some fast creds. Which is how our jedi youngling turned rancher turned bounce became the professional fighter known as Kato Stompcraft.
Kato went into that first fight expecting it to be a one time occurrence. Once in the ring however, the combination adrenaline, lights and the roaring crowd proved intoxicating. When the first match was over and his opponent lay unconscious at his feet, Kato knew this was the life for him.
In the beginning, Vogga was content to arrange fights for nothing more than a small finder’s fee, but he wanted more. Soon he began to persuade and eventually outright intimidate Kato into fixing fights. Unfortunately for Vogga, Kato wasn’t easily intimidated and after a particularly heated yelling match, Kato let it be known that he wanted nothing further to do with Vogga.
Now Hutts in general aren’t known for their forgiving nature, and Vogga was no different. No less than 2 days had passed before three of Vogga goons showed up to teach Kato a lesson. The lesson, as it turns out, was that Aqualish skulls are softer than duracrete. Over the course of the next year, Vogga sent many more visitors and there were many more lessons. During that time, Kato career had really started to take off. Thanks to a combination of fighting prowess and knack for intimidation Kato’s popularity grew. He was the fighter everybody loved to hate and while his record was far from flawless, he never had to look hard for his next paying fight.
As his reputation grew, so did his personal fortune and with it his ability to protect himself from Vogga’s machinations. With some of the best gear and protection money could buy, it wasn’t long before he forgot all about Vogga’s threats.
That all changed one night with the arrival of a courier droid and a single holocube. On the cube was a recording of a self-satisfied Vogga relaying detailed instruction on how he would lose that evening’s fight. Unlike previous missives, there were no threats or promises, it just ended with a single image of his mother, bound head to foot, suspended over a vat of something sickly green and fuming. From his time fighting in some of the shadier arenas he immediately recognized it as xenoboric acid and new that his mother was in serious danger.
What Vogga hadn’t counted on, what indeed no one but his mother knew, was his connection to the force, and it was through the force that he reach out. While Kato’s force gifts had never included remote sensing, his mother had taught him enough. And though his vision was powered more by fear and hate than by the inner peace taught in her lessons, he found his mother’s location through the force.
In a near blind rage Kato swerved through commuter traffic towards the industrial quarter and an abandoned thorilide refinery. If he had taken the time to consider the situation he might have been able to leverage his wealth and connections to form a proper assault force but he saw none of those options through the red haze of anger that enveloped him.
With a force fueled strength beyond anything he had ever know, he stormed the abandoned factory. Kato attacked the first two guards without slowing. Gripping each by a pair of his massive arms he tore their heads from their neck and tossed them aside. On he raged, dispatching what little resistance he found, making his way towards the main production floor and his mother.
There he blinked in surprise. Scattered throughout the production floor were huge holo emitters broadcasting images of him. As he watched in horror he realized that the clips were of him in some of him most brutal fights. Him tearing the arms from a wookie gladiator. Another of him rain blow upon a gungan warrior. All of them edited to seem as brutal and unprovoked as possible.
It was then that he saw his mother, a look of profound sadness and loss on her face, suspended from a cable right, in the middle of the spectacle. No sooner had he opened his mouth to explain, to tell her of the camera tricks and the lifelike prosthetics, then there was a soft snap as she dropped into the vat.
With a speed bore of desperation Kato rushed to the tank, reaching below the surface of the acid, pulling her free.”
His voice cracking, the stranger takes a break to compose himself.
“Do you know what xenoboric acid does to flesh? See it’s not just a strong acid, it also a painful toxin. Overloading the nervous system with incredible pain while it transforms the flesh to soup.
In desperation, Kato scraped and rubbed, desperately trying to remove as much of the viscous acid as possible. The damage had been done however and through strength that could only have been born of the force, his mother spoke her last words before passing on.”
They set there in silence for several long moments before the Wookiee grunted a single question.
“What did she say?”
The stranger slowly stood, and tossed his hat aside revealing the starred visage of a Besalisk.
“There she lay in his arms, dying the most horrendous death you can imagine and you know the last thing she said? She said that he had enough blood on his hands for a lifetime.”
Drawing two well muscled arms from his poncho he looks down at his open palms.
“And she made him promise…
She made Me promise…
Made me promise not to use my hands to kill another creature.
Can you believe that? Her dying wish was to keep me from killing her murderers.
But you know, there was one problem with her request.
You see, after all that acid, there wasn’t much left of my hands. So I had to have them replaced.”
Straightening to his full height, Kato raise a second pair of arms. These ones ending in brutal looking mechanical fists.
“And now these, these are my killin’ hands.”
With an audible pop, the restraining cuffs holding the Wookiee opened and clattered to the floor.
Hours later, Kato examines an image printed on an old worn durasheet. From the stark white light of the diner’s overhead lighting it’s clear the image was printed from some kind of surveillance camera footage. In the image about a dozen aliens, including a Hutt, surround a Nikto woman. Over 6 of the faces someone has drawn an X. With deliberate care Kato draws another X, this one over the face of a Wookiee, before folding it back up and placing it in his pocket.