“I’m not feeling good about this, Roach.”
“No, no—it’s going to work. No one will expect us to steal it,” said Krivash the Roach. He was sitting up on a large, metal waste receptacle—the kind that the big trucks come and empty during the week. His antenna twitched in the air, testing the vibrations in the air. He patted down his brown coat looking for food he might have picked up today.
Two of his buddies were standing nearby, trying to look nonchalant. Across the street was an old, run down bar. It’s front door was watched by a mean looking woman. The bar’s neon sign was flicking—several of the letters were burned out. Krivash had been following two men all day, and they had just gone into the bar.
“We ain’t ever snagged anything this big.” Cyan continued. She was an impish young human in dirty station wear.
“What’s so important about these two?” Kich the ysoki added. Kich was basically an upright walking rat. He was maybe a meter tall. His fur was a pleasant grayish-brown color. It clashed with his faded lime coverall.
“Since when do you guys ask so many questions. We can do it!” Krivash added. “I haven’t ever led you astray.”
The ysoki and the human exchanged an incredulous look.
“None that you can prove was my fault.” Krivash said. “Stay here.”
“Let me do it.” Cyan tried to grab the Roach’s shoulder.
Krivash circled the facility block he was on. When he came back around from the opposite direction, he dashed across the street. A truck honked it’s horn as it had to slam on its brakes. Krivash continued up the street, doing his best to seem inconspicuous. His compound eyes gave him an unnaturally wide view of the street. Without looking Krivash noted that Kich was still lingering in the alley mouth, picking at his teeth. Cyan was no where to be seen.
Krivash took a deep breath and stepped up to the bar. He tried to enter, but the bouncer stiff-armed him. He looked up at her—doing his best to seem curious. She gave him a “no trouble this time” look. Krivash palmed her a credit stick, and she sighed heavily and turned her back to him.
The atmosphere inside was like returning home—the smell of smoke, alcohol, and vomit, low chatter and inconsistently loud music, and a sense of hostility that only a group of intoxicated strangers can offer.
Krivash ordered a drink—making the pointed request for a straw and a little umbrella—and turned to survey the room. The two men were sitting at a table in the middle of the room, because they were stupid; Krivash immediately began to plan his approach, and his escape.
The bartender clinked his drink onto the counter and Krivash paid. He circled around the bar, pretending to look for a seat. He approached the table. His antenna twitching nervously. As he stepped up to his mark’s table, he went to sip from his drink and intentionally stabbed himself in the eye with the tiny umbrella.
“Yeouch!” Krivash chirped through his mandibles and dropped his drink to the floor. The cup thunked loudly on the dirty floor, and the sticky liquid went everywhere. The two men looked at him like he was crazy, and then resumed their conversation. Krivash knelt down to grab the cup while apologizing profusely. While kneeling, he slipped a hand in and out of a pocket. Got it.
Krivash stood up and walked his empty glass to the bar when he heard a shout from behind him. One of the strangers stood up, looking furious. He scanned the room until he spotted the Roach.
“You filthy cockroach,” the stranger yelled at him unimaginatively. He stormed over, somehow growing in size as he approached Krivash. “How stupid do you think I am?”
Krivash made a show of backing up to the bar and then sliding down to sit against its boot. “What? What?! I didn’t do nothing!”
The man grabbed him by his collar and hefted the small Shirren into the air. He pulled a fist back. Krivash curled in on himself, trying to look small and pathetic.
The resolve in the mans eyes dwindled as he realized that Krivash was just a stupid, young bug. The bar was quiet and everyone was watching intently.
“Just give it back, you fucking worm.” Again, with the vermin related insult. Lazy.
The room seemed to calm down. The man, still holding Krivash aloft, began to fish through his pockets. Krivash remained squirmy.
“Where is it?”
“Where is what?” Krivash mewled at the man. The man shook him once and then Krivash rifled through his coat and pulled out a ring of key fabs and handed them back. The man pocketed them.
As he put Krivash down, he noticed Cyan walk past—suspiciously close. It occurred to Krivash that he should probably should have just let her do this.
“Get out of here you stupid—”
“Bug?” Krivash finished.
Something smoldered deep behind the mans eyes. Krivash, at the very least, was good at recognizing his cue. He left abruptly. Once outside, the bouncer grabbed him again.
“Roach, I’m gon’ have to ask you not to come round again,” she said.
“Last time, swears.” Krivash assured. She let go of him.
He looked up and saw Cyan across the street with Kich at the alley mouth. Krivash dashed across, again causing a car to lay on it’s horn.
“You are an idiot.” Cyan said quietly.
“I’m glad you noticed that I was changing the play.” Krivash said, nodding approvingly. Cyan rolled her eyes.
“Why don’t we do this at bars in ysoki neighborhoods?” Kich asked, annoyed. “I could show you both how to do this.”
“One of my principles is never give anyone the chance to do a better job than me.”
Cyan and Kich shared another incredulous look.
Just then both of the men erupted from the door of the bar. The bouncer glared across the street at Krivash accusingly. The two men spotted him and came sprinting across.
“Vomit comet” Krivash shouted telepathically.
Without missing a beat, Cyan mock punched Kich in his gut. Krivash sprinted away down the alley. As the men were about to push past Cyan and Kich, the small ysoki released the food he had hidden in his cheeks. He purposely made an exaggerated retching sound. Both men shouted their alarm, but it slowed them down just enough to let Krivash get a lead on them.
Krivash gave them the run around. He was very good at running away. He led them circles, trying to disorient them. Several times they tried to cut him off, but he was too slippery. His nickname, the Roach, referenced far more than just his shell color. He was quite skitter-y.
He was running across an industrial yard when a massive truck pulled up in front of him. Cyan was in the drivers seat, and Kich was next to her. Krivash sprinted the distance to the truck and hopped on, holding onto the door and waving Cyan on. The men behind him were too far away, and they made away cleanly with the truck. The men chased on foot for a time before giving up.
After a time driving in silence to let the adrenaline wear off, Kich spoke up.
“What’s in this truck? It’s way bigger than you said it was.”
“I think it’s supposed to be a bunch of fresh fruit.”
“You think!?” Cyan said.
“I didn’t have the keys to check! But I’ve seen these guys at the docks moving crates off the trade barges. It’s almost always fruit.”
The three thieves returned to their hideout. It was an old administrative building that was attached to an abandoned warehouse. The warehouse was filled with old machines that no one ever came to pick up. Now it was a shanty town that Cyan, Kich, and Krivash called home.
Other kids that lived here came out to see the truck when it stopped out front of the building. Delight ran across their faces when they noticed the three of them driving it.
Krivash strode to the back and triumphantly unlocked the trailer. He struggled to open the massive, plated doors. When he finally was able to pull them open, he lost his grip and was thrown to the ground. He stood up and looked at his treasure.
It was a massive horde of guns. Big ones.
“Roach, what did we do?” Cyan asked quietly, alarm in her voice.
Dread struck Krivash like an icy hammer.
“It’s fine. We’ll be fine. I’ll take care of it. Take the damned kids inside. Give me the keys.” Krivash’s mind was already trying to find the angles.
Cyan ushered the other urchins back into the building. Kich watched Krivash slam it all closed and climb into the drivers seat.
“I’m coming with.” Kich said. His ears were flat against his head.
“No. Stay here. You didn’t see nothin’. Got it?”
“They are going to come looking—”
“And if they do, you give me up.”
Krivash the Roach is my character that I play in the table top role-playing game: Starfinder.