Krivash the Roach: Part 6

I miss my mom sometimes.

She wanted me to be a good kid, and I wasn’t.

The police don’t really help us—we’re thieves.

Krivash pounded on the elevator door, willing it to go faster. His antennae flicked about, probing and brushing the walls in agitation. It was a larger elevator, able to carry several dozen people at once, maybe even a small car, but Krivash was alone. It was late at night.

Krivash hadn’t understood. He had only ever taken care of himself, and he had only ever taken care of those around him. He wanted to make things right when he made things wrong. He wanted to fix the things he had broken. He didn’t want help. He didn’t ask for it. He just wanted to be left alone to choose for himself.

He didn’t want a life where he had to do what he was told. No one had ever told him what to do, and he certainly wasn’t going to be told what to do now. Krivash could take care of himself.

So why did Ashraya care? She was messing with his life and the lives of his friends.

I don’t want to see you turn into someone like him.

Krivash finally understood. She had made a mistake, and she wanted to make it right. She wanted to fix what was broken. Krivash had been so self absorbed—he assumed other people were that way. It’s the way it had to be, right?

The truth of it was evident: he was in the elevator, wasn’t he?

The doors chimed politely and began to open carefully. The moment the gap was big enough he squeezed through he began running. The distance suddenly felt insurmountable. It was one of those nightmares, where you were running but your arms and legs were stuck in sludge.

The house was within sight, at the end of the block. He didn’t see Grimmel’s vehicles. Krivash almost stumbled and fell when he heard the distant pops of gunfire. A couple stuccato bursts and then all went quiet.

He kept running, although he desperately wanted to curl up and hide. His head was a swirling torrent of fear.

The street lights nearer Ashraya’s house were out. They didn’t seem broken, and Krivash still didn’t see any of Grimmel’s thugs. Krivash could see that houses door was ajar. He crept up the stairs.

Their home was destroyed. The door had been kicked in, and the coat tree was knocked over. In the living space, the TV was on, some television show continuing on as though nothing had happened. There was a spilled drink on an end table, dripping into the carpet. The couch had blood on it. There were bullet holes across several of the walls.

Krivash crouched down to take off his shoes like Ashraya asked, trying to pretend like everything was okay, but then the tension in his stomach was too much. He vomited. He was coughing when a heavy booted footstep came out of the kitchen.

“Roach? The fuck are you doing here?” said a man Krivash had never seen before.

Krivash coughed a couple more times to buy himself a few seconds, then composed himself and tried standing up. “Grimmel sent me. Wanted me to—”

A couple rushed foot steps and something heavy slammed into the strange mans head. He crumpled to the ground without a sound. Ashraya was standing there, holding a heavy looking lamp. There were years streaming down her cheeks.

“Krivash—you—you told them about me?”

Krivash stood up. “No! No I was coming to stop them!”

“They shot Lafid, because you told them about me.” She screamed at him, her emotions spilling over. “Krivash—we just wanted to help you, you—”

A bullet hole appeared in her forehead. Ashraya collapsed to the ground. A pool of blood began to seep through the carpet.

Krivash whirled around and saw Cyan standing there. A smoking gun in her hand. A van of thugs behind her. In the distance, sirens could be heard all across the Ring.

“Cyan—what did you do?” Krivash shouted at her. He collapsed to beside Ashraya, desperately trying to figure out what he should do.

“Roach, why did she know your real name?” Cyan said, her voice quiet.

Krivash didn’t answer. He stared at the dead woman.

“You were the snitch.”

“You just killed her! You killed her!” Krivash shouted into the ground. “She was gonna help—” He stopped. Grimmel’s men were gathering. Krivash stood up. If he was found out to be the snitch by all of them—

“Krivash—you bastard!” Lafid shouted behind him.

He lurched out of the kitchen behind Krivash. He had been shot several times in the chest and neck. His expression was of anger and grief. As Krivash turned, Lafid wrenched a police baton through the air, and it cracked against Krivash’s skull.

As the heavy pan connected with Krivash’s head, something in his right antennae popped. Krivash fell, and he could see the broken antennae dangling in front of his face. Gunfire from behind Cyan whizzed past into the building, cutting down Lafid where he stood. Krivash clutched at his head and rolled into the living room. He was in too much pain to stand, and he didn’t know whether it was all physical.

The sirens were getting closer. The men definitely heard this exchange. Some of them were calling up, saying they had to get out of here. Cyan was frozen in place.

Krivash slowly, staggered to his feet. He had done this. All of this. They were dead. They were dead. Cyan is a killer now. It was his fault. Cyan stared at him, her eyes already blank and her expression slack. She knew what this meant—Krivash being the snitch meant she was dead, too.

No.

Shoot me, Krivash said to Cyan.

The look on Cyan’s face crumpled, and she began to blink away tears.

Shoot me or they’ll hurt you. Krivash urged.

Cyan closed her eyes. She lowered her gun.

You said you’d give me up, remember? Krivash said. Shoot me!

He just wanted to make things right. He just wanted to fix what was broken. He didn’t mean to steal a truckload of guns. He didn’t mean to get them all mixed up in this. He didn’t mean to get Ashraya and Lafid killed.

Cyan, you have to—

“The roach is the snitch.” She called out. She sniffed away the tears.

A lot of confused and enraged voices sounded behind her, and then they all surged towards the house. Krivash turned and ran for the far window across the living room. Cyan fired her gun a couple times, breaking the window pane for him.

“He’s getting away!” Cyan shouted. Her eyes were puffy, and she wiped her nose with her off hand. She looked defeated, and alone. I did this.

Krivash paused for a moment at the broken window. The broken faces of Ashraya, Lafid, and Cyan all stared at him. His legacy.

Krivash pounced through the window into a narrow alley. The broken glass stabbed at his feet, but he didn’t fall. He turned  left and ran. Behind him he heard more angry voices, and a couple gunshots ricocheted off the walls.

The sirens reached a crescendo as several armored vehicles with flashing strobes pull up to cut off his escape. Gunfire erupted all around Krivash as police and gangsters began exchanging fire. Krivash scrabbled under a car. The end of his broken antennae jammed into the ground, and it hurt. He emerged from the backside of the vehicle, got to his feet, and kept running. From up the street, another of Grimmel’s transports smashed into a police vehicle. More of Grimmel’s people hopped out and began another firefight.

Krivash sprinted for the next alley, and several people shouted after him. A couple thugs gave chase but eventually had to stop and turn to defend themselves.

As the distance grew, it became quieter. The air became calmer. He could still hear the gunshots somewhere distant. Krivash kept running. It was the only thing he was good at.

He eventually found a quiet place near some empty dumpsters. He crouched down behind one. His world was spinning, and Krivash wanted to give up, to quit, to hide, but he didn’t know how. He never wanted responsibilities, but now he was the one responsible. He could see the stars above him now, and the starry eyes held nothing of their comfort. He was being judged.

He pulled his legs up to his chest, wrapping himself in a hug. He sank his head down and sobbed.

I didn’t kill them.

But I killed them.

His antennae twitched, and it hurt.

Krivash wasn’t sure how long he’d sat there. It was still night cycle when he stood back up. The gun fight and sirens had quieted down several hours ago. He emerged onto another unfamiliar street and looked around. More houses, but this side had more bodegas and shops. One billboard caught his eye against the darkened buildings: it showed a bunch of people lined up, all wearing uniforms and looking skyward. Words flashed across the screen.

Join the Starfinder’s today!

Krivash returned to the dumpster and emptied out his coat. He threw away the trinkets, baubles, and partially eaten pieces of food he’d accumulated. He pulled out his gun, which Ashraya had given back to him all those weeks ago, but then put it back in his coat. He shook his coat twice, brushed away dust and debris, and the coat was partially returned to it’s deep brown glory.

Krivash made his way to the docks. At first he thought the Starfinder building would be directly under the sign, but he was mistaken. A lively old lady in a shop laughed at his haplessness, but then directed him towards their building when she thought he might cry. By the time he arrived, it was several hours past morning.

For having such an impressive billboard, the office was very plain and tidy. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but it seemed like any other administration building. Krivash walked up to the counter where a greenish blue Vesk was seated. The barbs on her scaly skin were all smoothed back, and there were delicate intricacies to the patterns arrayed across her visible scales.

“Hello! How can I help you?”

“I’d like to join the Starfinders.”

“Oh! That’s great! Do you have time to fill this out?” She shuffled through pads and papers for a moment before handing him a data slip and a pen.

Krivash stood there and looked at all of the questions. Name. Date of birth. ID number. Emergency contacts.

I—I don’t know any of the answers.”

The nice lady looked at him, concerned and a little confused. “Well—we can work around that. But I do need something from you to prove who you are.”

“A nice man named Lafid signed me up.”

“Oh! Lafid!” She typed hurriedly at her terminal. “Yes! Okay, I’ll get this processing. He put in a special word for you.”

Krivash’s antennae twitched, and it hurt.

The world was threatening to spin again. He stood there, as still as he could, worried that if he moved, everything might crumble around him. He remembered sitting at the table with Ashraya and Lafid as they talked and laughed.

“So—what do you want to do in the Starfinders?”

“I want to be a diplomat.”

The vesk lady nodded agreeably. She kept working for a minute or two. Krivash could sense that she was trying to make small talk. Chit-chat.

“What do you want your name to be in our system? I only have your first name.”

“Krivash… the Roach.”

She hesitated and tilted her head in amusement. She informed him on the rest of the proceedings, where the shuttle was taking the recruits, and what to expect. At the end she smiled and waved as he left, reminding him again and again what time to show up at the dock.

“I’m sure you’ll make Lafid proud!” She said as the door opened.

Krivash’s antennae twitched.

And it hurt.

 

 

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Krivash the Roach: Part 5

Krivash was already sitting in the office with Grimmel when several of his lieutenants knocked and then entered. Cyan and Kich were with them. Krivash straightened in surprise. Oh no.

Without speaking, Grimmel reached up and took a data pad from one of the lieutenants. He skimmed it over and then grunted in irritation.

“I’m going to leave and find—” Krivash began, rising from his seat.

“Sit. I want you here for this.”

Krivash plopped back down. He was really glad he didn’t need to move his head to look around the room. Cyan and Kich didn’t look too worried, and Grimmel wasn’t looking at him, so it’s probably nothing involving him.

“We’re pretty sure there’s a snitch.”

Krivash’s antennae twitched. It only involves me.

The second lieutenant chimed in, “The hit happened as predicted. The force took in Rouza and Piffen after they dropped the haze.”

Grimmel didn’t say anything. After a moment, he looked over at Krivash. Krivash did his best to hold very, very still.

“Roach.”

Was time even moving anymore? He was pretty sure neither of the lieutenants, Cyan, or Kich were moving anymore. Grimmel’s gaze must create a vortex that sucks in time. Krivash thought he was going to die long before Grimmel finished his thought.

“Have you heard any other groups been hit by the police?” Grimmel said, looking back to the group in the room.

Time resumed.

“Not that I’ve heard, but I’ve only met with groups that would probably go down in one raid.” Krivash said, trying to keep his tone even.

Grimmel was quiet again. After a moment he looked up, his look unreadable. “Do we know who the snitch is talking to?”

“People inside are pretty sure it’s Ashraya Demeza. She took down Dismember.”

Krivash’s antennae wanted to twitch so badly.

Grimmel looked over at Krivash again. Krivash forced himself to meet the gaze.

“We can’t afford to have the police interfering yet. Find out where she lives and kill her.”


Krivash had made his way to the nicer neighborhoods up in the Ring. The roads here were flanked by actual sidewalks instead of faded paint on the ground. The air smelled cleaner and the houses were nicer. None of the businesses had broken windows or flickering signs. Easily Krivash’s favorite part was that you could see space through massive plate windows in the ceiling. Depending on rotation, you could actually feel the warming rays of the nearby sun.

Krivash was in a foul mood.

He found the building he was looking for and walked up the stairs to the door. Stairs? For the door?

He knocked.

After a moment the door opened and Ashraya greeted him politely and in ushered him inside.

Her house was nicer than any place Krivash had ever slept. The entry way had a tile foyer that led directly into a furnished living room. The walls were actually painted—a subtle cream color—and matched the dark brown carpets. There was some comfy looking furniture. Ashraya asked Krivash to take off his shoes. He walked towards the kitchen, and hesitated for a moment. The carpet was so comfortable to walk on; Krivash had only ever known concrete and steel floors.

Her husband, a tall, sturdy looking lashunta, walked out of the kitchen wearing plainclothes and a blue apron. If Ashraya was a caramel colored lashunta, he was definitely some kind of chocolate. He reached out a hand to greet Krivash.

“Lafid. Nice to meet you. You timed that well—dinner is just finishing.”

Krivash desperately wanted to be rude, but something about this place stayed his sharp retort. He opted for uncomfortable silence.

Lafid smiled warmly and went back into the kitchen. Ashraya offered to take Krivash’s coat, which he did very reluctantly. All of his favorite stuff was in there.

“You don’t need to be polite. I know you aren’t comfortable. Be yourself. I’ve warned Lafid about you,” she said with a smile. “Just hear him out, won’t you?”

“When can I leave?” Krivash asked.

“After dinner.” Ashraya said. She gave him a pleading look. Krivash wished he knew how to roll his eyes.

This was easily the greatest meal he had ever eaten. The food was steaming as it was brought to the table. Krivash kept looking around, his first reaction to find the exits. He was uncomfortable. Why are they making him dinner? What do they want with him?

Krivash ate mostly in silence. A variety of utensils were on the table, and Krivash had to wait to see which big spoon was for which bowl of colorful foodstuffs. He was used to eating everything like a fruit, held in hand and eaten quickly and greedily; how food was supposed to be eaten! But Ashraya and Lafid were using spoons and forks to eat. Krivash knew how to eat with them, he wasn’t a mongrel, but it felt so fake. Eating with them made him feel like he was pretending to eat.

Even using utensils, Krivash still finished his dinner far faster than the lashunta pair. He wasn’t talking. He was listening to them talk with each other; they talked about their days, what they had for lunch, their coworkers and friends. Everything was so practiced. It felt rehearsed. This wasn’t real. They were like preening birds in a cage. Trapped.

“You all right there, Mr. Roach?” Ashraya said.

“I—uh, yeah I’m okay.”

“Did you enjoy dinner? Is there anything else I can get you?” Lafid said. He stood up, crossed to the sink and rinsed his hands off. He patted them on a towel and began to collect plates.

Krivash didn’t answer. His antennae flicked about. The air was too calm here.

“You don’t look comfortable.” Ashraya said. “You counting the minutes before I let you go?”

“No. I don’t have anything to say. You guys practice talking like this, and I haven’t.”

“It’s—it’s not practice.” Ashraya said. Her face scrunched up in confusion. “We are just talking about what happened today. Small talk. Chit-chat.” She absentmindedly swirled some type of sweet, red alcohol in a fancy cup.

“Chit-chat.” Krivash repeated. “But your days sounded really boring.”

Lafid laughed from the sink. “They might be. Maybe for you picking up groceries and cleaning the house sound boring.”

“Yeah. I’ll never know how difficult it is to purchase food with money. Then I’ll finally have something to talk about.”

Lafid returned from the sink, refilled Ashraya’s glass. He looked over at Krivash. His eyes and smile were warm. “What would you talk about Mr. Krivash?”‘

There was a long moment of silence. What the hell did these people want with him? He just wanted to go home. He didn’t want to be out having dinner.

“My day started when I woke up in a room owned by a man who wants to squish me. He has my friends, and if I try and stop working for him, they’ll get hurt. He sent me on a mission to steal someone else’s guns, and then I made a new friend. This friend tells me that I work for her now, and she sends me back into the place that I don’t want to go to. I don’t get to go out and have fun anymore, because everyone keeps making me do things I don’t want to do. Then my new friends invites me over to dinner, and threatens me when I say I don’t want to.”

While he was speaking, Ashraya’s pleasant smile began to fade. She looked down at the table. Krivash suddenly felt guilty. He hated this. Why did he feel guilty? He didn’t do anything.

“That sounds hard.” Lafid finally said. “Sounds like you don’t get to make your own decisions anymore.”

“No. I don’t.”

“It sounds scary.” He said again. His voice was comforting.

“I’m not scared.” Krivash lied.

Ashraya looked up with a smile. “It’s almost over. When you are done, I’ll let you go. I won’t bother you again.”

Another quiet pause. Ashraya smiled at Krivash.

“How old are you, Krivash?” Lafid said. He placed a hand on Ashraya’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“I don’t know.”

“Would you like to get off of Absalom?” Lafid asked.

Krivash paused for a moment. “And do what?”

“Well, Ashraya wanted me to talk to you about the Starfinder Society.”

“I don’t want to join your society. How hard can it be to find stars?”

“Original,” Lafid said with a wry smile on his face. He continued, “You could explore space for a time. You could get away from all of this. You could learn a trade, or get an education.”

“You think I could do that?” Krivash asked flatly.

“I think you could learn. You could go see new worlds.” Lafid continued. Krivash’s twitching antennae betrayed him. “You can explore planets, maybe even meet new aliens.”

“Is that your job?” Krivash asked.

“I’m a pilot. I fly the exploration ships.” Lafid said. “When I was young I really wanted to go see the stars.”

“Driving vehicles has never worked out for me.”

“Well—you seem to want to make sure no one gets hurt. You could be an diplomat.”

“What do they do?” Krivash asked, trying to still sound surely.

“They help mediate between groups of people. You would represent the Society and it’s goals, while also negotiating with peoples we may meet out there.” Lafid said.

“I think you could be really good.” Ashraya added.

“You picked a job for me?” Krivash said, his frustration bubbling up again.

“No. We wanted to talk to you. But if you are interested, I have already placed your name on the list of trainees. The shuttle leaves next week.”

“Why are you two so concerned with what I do?” Krivash demanded. He worked to keep his tone level.

“Because we care,” Lafid said.

“Why?”

“You are kid doing a dangerous job. You are doing this for your friends. Ashraya tells me you are a good kid, just a little misguided. I know you’ve grown up on the street, and I want to help you do better.”

“I am doing fine.” Krivash said. “Or at least I was—before everyone suddenly cared what I was doing.”

“We care about you because—”

“And I still don’t know why Grimmel is forcing me to work for him. I gave his guns back—”

I don’t want to see you turn into someone like him.” Ashraya shouted. She calmed herself and straightened in her chair. “I think you are a good person. You are risking your life for your friends—”

“And now I’m risking my friend’s lives for you.”

Krivash stood up suddenly and made for the door. He grabbed his coat off the rack and looked out the window to make sure no one was outside to see him leave.

“Krivash. I need your help to stop Grimmel because he has killed dozens of people, and he’s on track to kill dozens more. I’m sorry, okay?” Ashraya said. Lafid was behind her leaning against the kitchen door jam. Krivash turned to look at them, his back to the door.

“What happens if Grimmel finds out about me? You get to come home here. You have carpets, and spoons, and a bed. I get to go back and be near him.” Krivash said.

“You’d be stuck there anyway. He has your friends, right? You are helping me free all of you.” Ashraya said sharply.

“He has my friends, and that’s my fault. But I can keep working, and they’ll be okay. But you—you are risking us all, from the safety of your office.”

Anger sparked in her eyes. “I am an officer—”

“Then do your job and arrest the bad guy before he kills me.”


Krivash couldn’t sleep. It had been a couple of days since he stormed out of Ashraya’s house. He tossed and turned in his bed: he felt guilty about not telling Ashraya that Grimmel had his eyes on her.

But why should he? What did he owe her?

Krivash didn’t want anyone to get hurt or die, but if Grimmel could take care of her than Krivash could start to plan how to get everyone out of here. Grimmel may have been the wild animal, but Ashraya had locked him in the cage.

“Roach? You awake?”

The voice came from across the darkened room. It was Cyan. She had come in late, and Krivash had pretended to be asleep. He felt too anxious to talk, and Cyan felt like a stranger now anyway.

“How could you tell?” Krivash said.

“You sleep in your coat. Whenever you roll over it sounds like I dropped a box of stuff down some stairs.”

“My coat is very comfy.” Krivash said.

Cyan giggled. “Do you even have a blanket?”

“Nah. It always gets wrapped around me.”

“It’s a blanket. It’s supposed to wrap around you.”

“I’ve never slept in a blanket that wasn’t planning to kill me. It’s safer in my coat.”

Cyan laughe again. She was laying on her back, and then she rolled onto her side to face him.

“We don’t really talk anymore,” Cyan said. “Things got real messed up.”

“Yeah—yeah. I’m sorry I got you all into this. I never thought my greatest blunder would be mistaking guns for fruit.”

“It’s okay. It’s not all bad. We have jobs now—we get food and stuff.”

A long moment of quiet. Krivash knew what he wanted to say, but couldn’t find the words. They were trapped here like him, and it was his fault. He wanted to play a fun game, steal a truck, and have a good laugh about it later.

“I know the only reason we’re all here is because Grimmel is threatening you with us.” Cyan said after a time.

“I didn’t mean for it happen this way. I tried to make it right but—”

“You don’t need to say sorry. It was gonna to happen eventually.” Cyan said softly.

“Huh?” Krivash said.

“We were growing up. People went easy on us because we were small. But we’re adults now. Things aren’t easy for adults,” Cyan continued. “I wish I had never run away from home. I miss my mom sometimes.”

Krivash sat up suddenly on his bed. “You had a mom?”

“I did. I got mad at her because she wouldn’t let me do the things I wanted to do, so I ran away.”

“Where is your mom now?”

“I don’t know anymore. It was a couple years back. I shouldn’t have left my mom, or my dad.” Cyan said.

“What was it like to have a mom?” Krivash said after a time.

“She was mean, but she took care of me. I was a kid, and she was an adult. She had to worry about me because adults always have to worry about kids. She worked a lot and got mad at me a lot. But that’s because she wanted me to be a good kid, and I wasn’t.”

Krivash’s antennae twitched.

He could sense her quietly crying. She was shuddering.

Krivash got up and went over to her bed. He wrapped the blanket around her more tightly.

“I’m so scared.” She continued. “I just wanna go home.”

“Do you think the police could help? Help find your mom?” Krivash asked.

“I don’t know. The police don’t really help us—we’re thieves,” she said. She sounded confused that he would even bring it up.

Suddenly Kich walked in. He trundled over to his bunk and sat down. He groomed the fur on his face before flopping onto his back and groaning loudly.

Cyan wrapped herself up, sniffed quietly, and tried to act casually. “Where have you been?”

“I was helping find some ammunition. Found it though!”

“For what?” Krivash said, cold taking over his chest.

“They found the officer who’s been nicking our crew. I was helping load up the vans.” He said casually. Just another day on the job—arranging a murder.

“For what?” Krivash tried to sound genuinely curious. He knew he was failing.

“They’re gonna off her. Weren’t you there when Grim gave the order?”

“It’s late—are they going tomorrow?” Krivash said.

“What? No they’re goin’ now.”

Krivash stood up suddenly. What was he supposed to do?

“Cyan. Do you want to see your mom again? Even if she’s mean?” Krivash asked. Kich was squinting at him confused.

“Yeah,” she said. She seemed embarrassed that he brought it up in front of Kich.

“Even if she’s mean?”

“She wasn’t mean. She was being a mom. She just wanted what was best for me.”

What was best? For me?

Krivash ran out of the room, both Cyan and Kich calling after him in confusion. The door slammed open as he pushed through it. He ran down the hall, pushing past people, before coming to the loading zone. There were no vehicles here.

He turned and tried to walk casually out of the dock, and onto the street. Once he was several blocks down, he began running for the lift elevator.

Krivash the Roach: Part 4

“I can’t be a snitch!” Krivash said with a twitch of his antennae.

“It wasn’t up for debate. You get back in with Grimmel, and you tell me everything he does.” Ashraya countered.

“What if he finds out?!”

“What if you don’t go back?” Ashraya said. “If you help me, we can stop Grimmel and your friends can be safe.”

Krivash paused and looked away. She had all the cards to play, and Krivash was on borrowed time. He had to get back by tonight or Grimmel would do something terrible. He wouldn’t get to see the kids again, or Kich, or Cyan.

This police officer was really confident. Maybe she could do it, if he helped.

“I’ll need that truck and all of the guns.” Krivash said. “I need to be back on Deck 5 today.”

“I’ll be pissing someone off, but I can make it happen.”


Krivash pulled the truck into the warehouse. Grimmel and some of his thugs were waiting; many of the underlings had astounded looks on their faces. The squirmy bug had really done it?

Krivash had pitched a story to Ashraya involving Krivash single-handedly defeating Dismember in a duel. Dismember may have had the strength, but Krivash was quick on the draw!

Ashraya shot that one down before he had finished, advising Krivash to keep it simple and honest: he had stolen the truck from the loading zones while Dismember’s crew were distracted. She said it seemed “more realistic that he could pull that off.” Whatever that meant.

Krivash hopped out of the truck and went back to the trailer. He threw the door open, revealing crates full of guns. Grimmel’s people went straight to work, unloading and moving the cargo. Grimmel approached Krivash.

“How?” Grimmel demanded.

“I’m the Roach,” Krivash said, unable to stop himself.

Grimmel placed a hand on Krivash’s shoulder. “How?”

“Dismember’s gang got tied up in something, and I took the loaded truck while he wasn’t paying attention.”

Grimmel straightened. He adjusted his suspenders, making him seem mild-mannered again. “I had heard some justice had befallen him.”

Krivash was busy trying to figure out what the word befallen meant when Grimmel grasped his shoulder and spun him around towards a door. They walked together.

“I’m bringing you in. I think I have you figured out, and I think you could be useful for me. As long as you stay useful, nothing bad will happen.”

Grimmel led him to a smaller room. Both Kich and Cyan were inside, tied to chairs. They looked haggard, but alive. Krivash tried to run over to them, but Grimmel’s hand dug into his shoulder.

“Starting now, you all work for me. Don’t fuck this up, Roach.”


Krivash didn’t tell Kich or Cyan about the police. Lying to them had been hard, but he felt it would keep them safer. They didn’t believe any of it, but luckily they couldn’t figure out how he had done it.

Grimmel had elected to use Krivash as a grifter. He infiltrated other smaller gangs and act as a snitch. When Grimmel had them in a corner, Krivash would act as a liaison to have them absorbed instead of killed outright.

The irony was not lost on Krivash.

Cyan and Kich were part of the muscle now. Krivash didn’t see them as much, which upset him. He was always busy working the streets, and they stayed in Grimmel’s facility doing odd jobs. Krivash missed the days when they would steal cred sticks and food. He despised this place and all of its rules.

In addition to his new responsibilities, Krivash also had to find time to meet up with Ashraya. She didn’t want to use comm’s so she would frequently come down, or send another officer, to speak with him directly. It was always covert, but nothing made Krivash feel more exposed than being within eyesight of the officer.

After a while Ashraya decided that the safest way to speak to Krivash was to do so telepathically. She would set up meetings and they would both go to a location, sit apart, and talk about what has been going on.

Krivash began to resent her as much as Grimmel; she had trapped him just as much as the violent gangster. Worse, she was able to deflate all of his bluster, which was Krivash’s best tool.

He was sitting in a dark, off-the-path restaurant. Krivash could sense more than see Ashraya walk in and sit at the bar. She was wearing plainclothes, and had a pretty convincing civilian demeanor. Nothing to see—just a lashunta ordering a stiff, cheap drink. Krivash was facing away from her, sitting in a booth behind her.

How are things? she asked conversationally once she had a drink.

Fine. I’m supposed to be figuring out who runs unlicensed gambling dens somewhere around here. Krivash responded anxiously.

He trusts you. That’s more than we could have hoped for. Ashraya said.

Trust is a strong word. He has me in a corner and can make all the rules—like you. Krivash said, not bothering to hide his resentment.

You are doing good work. You are doing a great service. Ashraya said, pushing past the jab.

When can I be done? Krivash asked.

When we take down Grimmel. Ashraya confidently.

When? Krivash whined.

He’s been careful with his movements. You mentioned he heard about Dismember—he’s probably keeping his head down for the time being. Ashraya said casually.

Can’t you find someone else? Krivash pleaded.

No one is going to work as well as you. He trusts you and doesn’t see you as a threat to his work. It’s you, or no one. Ashraya asserted. What is he doing joining all the gangs together?

He’s gonna move on Deck 7. I asked around and found out that he wants to grab Dismember’s territory now that he’s missing muscle. You’ll guys will be shooting each other if you don’t take him down soon. Krivash huffed.

Ashraya was silent for a time. Krivash wasn’t looking at her, but he could tell she was sipping her drink. She thinks too much. She had hundreds of officers, and the longer they waited, the stronger Grimmel’s position.

You need to act fast. Krivash finally said to her. He’ll figure us out fast. I’ve only told you about the small deals. When you get ’em he doesn’t think twice—just bad luck. It’ll eventually get to a point where we have to do this blind because he’ll stop telling people his plans.

You think about this a lot. Ashraya said distractedly. This annoyed Krivash.

I don’t want to work for you, or him. The sooner it’s done, the sooner I’m out. Krivash said.

I was thinking you could come work for the police. Ashraya started. You could—

Are you kidding me? Let me be done already. Krivash pleaded.

I meant like a real officer. Ashraya clarified.

No. Put me in jail. I don’t want to play anymore. Krivash said.

What will you do when I let you loose? Ashraya asked.

It was Krivash’s turn to be quiet. He hadn’t thought about that. Before this Krivash and his buddies would steal food and money. They took care of the other brats that didn’t have anywhere to go. It wasn’t a great living, but it was fun. More importantly, they were all free.

I know you are a good kid. I don’t want to see you back on the streets. You’ll die out there. You were lucky with Grimmel. You can’t always be lucky. Ashraya said.

Krivash still didn’t answer.

Will you come have dinner with me and my husband? Ashraya said, abruptly changing topic.

Is this your plan to get me off the streets? Krivash said.

I want you to talk to Lafid. Ashraya said confidently.

I don’t want to have dinner with you. Krivash scowled. When do we meet next?

The next meeting will be at my home—for dinner. Ashraya said. Or you go to jail.

You can’t be serious. Not eating your food isn’t a crime. Krivash said in a deadpan.

You work for Grimmel. I can put you in jail whenever I want. Ashraya said, barely concealing her amusement.

You have all the cards, and the chips. Krivash said, annoyed.

Would it be nice to be free from all of this? Ashraya countered.

Yes. Let me go. I promise to never steal a truck full of guns again. Krivash said.

Krivash could almost physically feel her smile. Come meet my husband. He may be able to get you into training to become a Starfinder.

 

 

Krivash the Roach: Part 3

The freight elevator shook as it began to descend to Deck 7. Somewhere a massive engine was lowering the loading platform. Krivash sat in the truck and watched an array of chains, pipes, and metal beams move past them. The truck was surrounded by other heavy machines and vehicles. All the drivers looked bored. Krivash did his best to look bored, but couldn’t help but keep fidgeting in his seat. He felt like a young kid being told to sit still.

Absalom Station was the premier station in this sector of space. At the center of the station was a massive dome, called the Eye, which was home to all of the rich people and large organizations. Krivash had only managed to get in and look around a couple times; the place was wondrous with all of its greenery and parks. Surrounding the Eye was the Ring which was full of neighborhoods that housed those who were doing well in life, just not well enough to live in the Eye. From the Ring came the Arms; they branched out from the Ring and acted primarily as the docks for interstellar ships.

Krivash was most familiar with the Spike. Beneath the Eye, the Starstone Reactor was housed. It powered the entire station. Surrounding the reactor were numerous decks that were loading and staging platforms, but over time they became the slums of Absalom Station.

With a jerk, the platform finished moving. The massive doors began to pull apart revealing Deck 7. It somehow looked identical and different compared to Deck 5 where Krivash lived. The floor went on for several kilometers. The deck ceiling was about ten meters high. Most buildings where built into the deck, spanning the gap from floor to ceiling. Arrayed throughout each deck was several dozen load bearing columns.

Someone honked at Krivash. He had been staring into the unfamiliar deck and it’s forest of columns. He forgot that he was supposed to be driving a truck. He drove into the street and found the first empty lot he could find. He parked the truck and ditched it.

Krivash went and found an alleyway and sat down behind a dumpster. He had to find someone named Dismember and steal a truckload of his guns. Should be easy. Krivash was a professional truck stealer, and finding one full of guns shouldn’t be so hard.

For a few hours, Krivash beat the streets. He took in the sights, and familiarized himself with the deck. The buildings and the streets were identical to his home deck, which fouled his sense of direction more than once. After a time, Krivash found a strip of bars and seedy looking structures and felt like he had come home.

Surely someone in these bars knew who Dismember was. Krivash only need locate and join one of the gangs on this deck to quickly learn where the rest were, and then he could go talk to Dismember. Krivash worried for a moment that his life would be in danger for ganghopping, but he realized his life was already in danger. He didn’t need to stay here, so he only had to not get shot long enough to return to his deck. If people started trying to shoot me, at least I’d have found some guns.

Several of the bars in this district definitely had thugs in them. Whether they were gang worthy was another question. How do you judge someones gang-liness? Wait—were gangs and mobs different? How could you tell?

Krivash decided not to talk to anyone in the bars. His tough guy act needed some practice, and he didn’t want to look stupid in front of other tough guys. Krivash had another idea: he could look for people who sold guns. He needed a gun, didn’t he? Gang members always had guns.

There were a couple gun merchants on this deck. Visiting their stores revealed that they, despite what Krivash had heard, still had a lot of guns for sale. Krivash meandered into a couple stores and loitered for a moment. He asked to see a pistol here or there. He was alarmed at how heavy they were.

“First time buying a gun, eh?” the portly gun merchant asked, giving Krivash a speculative eye.

“Nah. I’ve owned lots of guns before. Just never owned one this—uh, color.”

“That’s Sarcesian gunmetal. It’s iridescent when you look at it just right.”

“Really?!” Krivash said, tilting the pistol back and forth in the light.

The merchant sighed, but his friendly smile didn’t dissipate.

Krivash’s mouth kept digging. “All right, fine. I’ve never owned a gun before. My specialty is rifles. Big ones.”

“What’s your favorite model?” the merchant said, drily.

The M90-11-GH-720.”

“That’s not a gun.”

“You’ve never seen them, because they aren’t for sale.”

“I’ve never seen one, because that’s not a gun.”

This is my worthiest opponent.

The merchant motioned for the pistol back. Krivash reluctantly handed it back. The weight of the thing was comforting.

“Over here.” the merchant said. He walked to a different counter and pulled another pistol from a shelf. “This is a good one if you are a first time buyer.”

It was a smaller pistol. It didn’t weigh as much, and in Krivash’s experience with guns, weight was everything. He looked down the sight, trying to look cool, but realized he had no idea how to sight a gun.

“It’s decent little semi-auto. Packs a punch for the cost. It’s good for self defense.” the merchant continued.

Krivash thought back to being in Grimmel’s hand, dangling above the ground. He had felt small, weak, pathetic. It made him want to curl up.

“I—I don’t have any money.” Krivash said finally.

The merchant sighed again. Krivash was testing his patience. He picked up the pistol, returned it to it’s padded case.

“I can give you a truck for it!” Krivash said.

“A truck?”

“Yeah! Like a trade. You give me the gun, and I give you the truck.” Krivash said. He pulled out the fab and held it up.

The merchant eyed the keys. “Is the truck stolen?”

“I stole it, but then someone gave it to me.”

“I get the sense, kid, that you are in deep shit.”

“I didn’t know what else to do with the shovel.” Krivash said.

The merchant smiled his warm smile again. He reached back for the gun. “Take good care of it. It’s my last one.”

“But I wanted two. It’s a big truck.”

“Ha. All of my stock is limited right now. My suppliers guns have been going missing.”

Krivash’s antennae twitched.


The kindly gun merchant parted with the pistol for the truck. He was nice enough to kick in some ammo, too. He had wheedled out of the man that his supplier had their storage facilities on one of Absalom’s Arms, and that for the last few weeks there has been a large amount of gun theft.

Krivash was stalking through some shipping containers out on one of Absalom’s Arms. There were only a few armed security guards on duty, but that wasn’t too much of a problem for Krivash. He was a defense barrier subversion expert. There wasn’t a fence he could climb.

There wasn’t a lot of activity. Krivash slowly climbed his way up to the top of a three tiered stack of containers. He had a much better view of many of the loading and unloading zones on the Arm. He saw down and enjoyed the view. Through several of the docking zones he could see out into the inky void of space.

Krivash didn’t often get to look out into space. There were not many windows where he lived. He loved how small it made him feel, and that made him feel safe. It was like there were millions of little white eyes looking down on him, and they wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him. Krivash wondered if he’d ever get to go out there and explore. Absalom Station had been his only home. He heard numerous stories from travelers and laborers about the strange, colorful, and exotic worlds that were hiding out there. He desperately wanted to go to one.

In the distance there was a loud clang. Krivash snapped his head around, but didn’t see anything. He saw the nearby security guards looked at each other. They started talking, one shrugged, and the other walked over that way. Krivash tracked him as he walked. He circled this particular lot and then came back. It seems whatever it was, it wasn’t his problem.

Krivash climbed down and made his way in the direction of the clang. The containers were all in neat rows, so it was easy for Krivash to find his way. He made it to the fences before he saw shadowy movement in the next shipyard.

Krivash listened for a moment before going up and over the fences. The next yard had a greater array of barbed implements at the top of the fence, which slowed him down, but only for a moment. His chitin was perfect for rolling over spikes.

This loading yard would have been much more difficult to sneak around if all of the defenses hadn’t been shut down. Krivash noted the cameras and the lenses for trip lasers, but someone was kind enough to pave the way for Krivash. His heart, or hearts, he was never clear on that, started to beat more rapidly. This was it. People were hear to steal guns.

As he neared the center, Krivash could hear more and more hushed whispers. From the sounds of it there were a lot of people here. They had a tent and a laser cutter and were cutting straight into some crates. Once they were open, they moved the tent and the laser cutter and started again. The rest of the people surged forward and began moving massive black boxes. The containers reminded Krivash of the one his pistol had been in.

Krivash’s heart, or hearts, soured when he saw where they were moving them into a massive truck trailer. This was actually going to work.

Suddenly all of the flood lights in the yard came on. Nearby there was shouting, and even louder, there was gun fire. A new wave of people appeared, streaming between the containers and began to shout at the would-be thieves. A gun fight opened up and all became chaos.

Krivash hid as many of the thieves ran straight in his direction. They all streamed past, cursing loudly as bullets and lasers scored the metal crates around them. Krivash darted through corridors, trying to stick to the long shadows cast by the bright lights. He was careful to keep the gun fight in his line of sight. Several more times he had to find cover as the battle threatened to overtake him.

Finally Krivash could see the cab of the truck. He got over excited and ran at a full sprint to the cab. He crashed into someone who was backing up between crates. He scrambled to his feet and made for the truck when he heard the stranger shout at him.

“Get on the ground, now!” the stranger yelled at him. “I will shoot you.”

Krivash stopped and turned to look. Absalom Defense Force. Krivash recognized their race as a Lashunta. He dove to one side and tried to scrabbled around to the passenger side of the truck. The person didn’t shoot at him. He turned to wait and pulled out how new pistol.

The officer came around and saw Krivash waiting. They had their gun trained on him, and looked way more confident with their rifle. Krivash trained his pistol, but then realized something important.

“Wait! Stop! Don’t shoot me! It’s not even loaded!” Krivash shouted. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a box of bullets as proof. The stranger rushed him. Krivash realized his mistake and dropped the box; all of the bullets sprang out of it and rolled across the steel plating. He tried to shout again, but the stranger slammed his rifle butt into Krivash’s face.


Krivash woke up in small jail cell. He wasn’t alone, there were other people here and similarly cuffed. Most of them had bruises and cuts. It hadn’t been a good night for anyone here.

There was a nondescript hallway outside of the cell. Other cells were nearby and were similarly stuffed with miscreants. As Krivash peered out, he saw a Lashunta officer enter through a door at the end of the hallway. Judging by the color of their slender antennae, it might even be the same one that nabbed him.

As she walked up she began speaking loudly so everyone could hear. “Listen, we all know you are working for Dismember. One of you is going to talk, so volunteer if you want to save us the time and cut a deal.”

“Oh! Oh! I’ll talk!” Krivash shouted excitedly.

For a couple minutes, Krivash’s life knew only clenched fists and sharp kicks. But after a time the officer was able to extricate the hapless shirren.

They brought him to a simple room. There was a table and a couple chairs within. A kiosk in the corner offered coffee in reusable cups. Krivash drank as much coffee as he could manage before the Lashunta officer joined him.

She was dressed in a pressed uniform. She had caramel colored skin. As with all Lashunta, their eyes seemed larger than other races, and they also seemed more luminous and expressive. She had two delicate, slender antenna coming out of her forehead. She had a polite and gracious smile, but her eyes also said she wouldn’t tolerate nonsense.

“You can call me Ashraya. I appreciate you cooperating.”

Krivash didn’t answer. He wasn’t sure what to say. He was willing to talk, but he didn’t actually know anything. He wished Cyan were here.

Would this be better? she said directly into his mind.

“Nah, I can talk.” Krivash said, still wary.

“I don’t often meet shirren who speak with their mandibles.”

“I didn’t learn to speak with my mind until I met other shirren.”

“I’d like to hear your story someday, but right now I need you to talk about Dismember.” Ashraya said politely. “We can offer you protection, and even move you into the Ring.”

“Your offer is tempting, but I don’t work for Dismember.”

“Then why are you here?” Ashraya demanded.

Krivash flinched. She had been so polite and composed. He wasn’t ready for her to resume her intimidating officer demeanor. She sighed after a moment. She smoothed her uniform in a habitual manner.

“What can you tell me then? If you don’t work for him, why were you there? Why were you trying to get the truck?”

“That was you?” Krivash segued, his only defense mechanism.

“Yes. I was going to shoot you, but your gun had it’s brights on.”

“What?”

“You were clearly some idiot kid with a gun you found. You hadn’t removed the barrel plug yet.”

“I leave it that way because I like the bright color.”

“If you can tell me, right now, what color your plug was, I’ll let you go.”

“Orange.”

“Good guess, but no. I lied about the plug. “Brights” refers to the backs of empty barrels.”

“You could see that my gun wasn’t—”

“Kid. Tell me something, or I’m putting you back in the cell.”

Krivash’s antennae twitched nervously. “I was sent to this deck to steal a truckload of guns.”

“Convenient.”

“No! I’m not lying! I’m from Deck 5. Grimmel sent me to get him some guns.

“You know Dismember, and Grimmel?”

Krivash nodded. He recounted his story. When he was done, Ashraya nodded solemnly, and then that polite smile returned to her face.

“Good news, kid. I’ve been leading a task force to take down some of the meaner slum gangs. Grimmel is next on my list, and I could use a snitch.”

—DTM

Krivash the Roach is my character in the table top role-playing game: Starfinder.

Krivash the Roach: Part 2

Krivash felt cold as he turned off the truck. Pulling the fab out killed the engine—the heat and the vibration sharply dying off made him realize how comfortable he was sitting in the cab.

The lot he had found had several other trucks in it. He felt confident that the stolen truck wouldn’t be immediately found here. He was only ten or so blocks away from the bar. Krivash didn’t expect to find the men, but this was the only place he knew to look.

It took Krivash several hours of wandering before returning to the truck. He wasn’t sure what to do with the guns. He felt like a small child trying to find a way to make sure mom and dad wouldn’t be mad. Why couldn’t it have just been fruit?

The truck was where he left it. He felt a touch disappointed—why couldn’t someone have stolen it from him?

The cab door barked loudly as it closed—almost with a note of finality. Krivash looked at the steering apparatus and fumbled for the key fab.

Something sharp was pressed against his throat. Both of Krivash’s antennae were grabbed in a fist and his head sharply pulled back. Krivash tried to jerk his hands up in a submissive gesture, but the hand in the pocket merely succeeded in dramatically billowing his coat. The other hand successfully made it up.

“A brown roach in a brown coat. I wouldn’t have imagined that you were stupid enough to come back here,” said a woman’s voice, deep and throaty. Krivash immediately imagined an eye-patched marauder captain.

“Wait—is this your truck? I must have gotten in the wrong one. You shouldn’t leave your doors unlocked, you know.”

A brief exhalation of amusement from the pirate captain, but the blade did not move. Krivash pressed his luck.

“I was hoping to leave these here so that the owner could find them!” Krivash fished the fab ring out of his pocket. He dropped them on the seat next to him. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you. I didn’t know this wasn’t my truck.”

“Do you listen to yourself while you speak?”

The truck door opened and a stocky man was standing there, looking pleased with himself. He apparently had thought his roach trap had worked! But no one had ever captured the Roach before, not even this man. He just didn’t know he failed yet.

“Sir! Is this your truck? I found your keys in an alleyway and wanted to return them.”

He could sense more than he could see the incredulous look the man and the woman shared. Good, they thought he was harmless and an idiot. All according to plan.

“Get out,” the woman ordered.

Krivash hopped out. Hands still in the air. His antennae twitched nervously once they were free of her iron grip.

“Did you find the girl and the rat?” The man asked.

Shit.

“No, this bug was alone. Got him in the cab.”

Krivash made a mad dash away from the pair. He didn’t make it far, a massive fist collided with the side of his head, throwing him into one of the trucks massive tires. Krivash fancied himself a tough guy, but he knew when to hold ’em—and when to black out.


“Wake up.”

Krivash raised his head up. He was in a small room, lying on the ground. A woman was standing in the narrow doorway. He recognized her voice as the woman from the truck.

“Where am I?” Krivash asked, fidgeting with his antennae. He found his feet and brushed himself off. All of the stuff in his coat was gone.

“Grimmel wants to see you,” she said, ignoring his question.

“What did I do?” Krivash asked, trying to sound harmless. “I gave the damn truck back!”

The woman grabbed him by a shoulder and pushed him down a nondescript hallway. Around a couple corners, past a couple doors, and Krivash was pushed into a big room. For a meeting with someone with a fake name like Grimmel, Krivash was expecting a massive, throne room type chamber. But it was a crowded room with a bunch of people sorting guns and ammunition.

The woman steered the young shirren through the room of grim looking thugs. He curled in upon himself, trying to look small. Krivash was lead to a tall, thickly built man. He was wearing nice clothing, like he might be out to see some old friends. He perked up a bit when he saw Krivash coming, removing a pair of reading glasses and setting them down near a data pad.

Krivash knew how this was supposed to work. He jerked himself away from the woman and straightened his coat indignantly. He glared at her—noting the lack of eye patch—and turned to the man. Krivash tried to look tough while also looking for avenues of escape.

The man held out a hand. “Grimmel,” he said pleasantly.

“Uh—I am Roach,” Krivash said while tentatively shaking the hand.

“You stole my truck.”

“I found a truck with it’s doors unlocked and figured I’d move it to teach the owner a lesson!” Krivash said firmly. The excuse felt weak even to himself.

The Grimmel smiled. He looked at the floor and seemed to consider something. “Well, they certainly learned a lesson. As did I.”

Krivash’s mandibles began before his mind could catch up. “Well I hope the next time—”

“You are the first shirren I’ve met that speaks with their mouth, not their mind.” Grimmel said.

“I grew up speaking with my mandibles. I didn’t learn—”

“Another time perhaps,” Grimmel interrupted. “I was looking for your friends. The girl and the rat. Would you mind telling me where they are?” The veiled, almost unnoticeable threat in his voice gave Krivash pause.

“I—don’t have friends. I stole the truck by myself,” Krivash said.

Grimmel walked over to Krivash, the smile still on his face. He was easily a head and shoulders taller than Krivash. He smelled of nice cologne. Grimmel’s presence would have been reassuring in any other scenario.

“You are either very smart, or very stupid. You stole my truck and my guns, yet—you basically hand yourself over to my muscle. Somehow you are competent and inexperienced all at once. Tell me where the girl and the rat are.” The polite smile on his face didn’t change at all, and to Krivash it turned into a horrific parody. He felt sick.

“I don’t have any—”

“You tell me where the girl and the rat are, or I have my soldiers kill every human girl and ysoki shit they can find hiding in dirty corners of our deck.”

Krivash felt like vomiting. He had never been in trouble like this. A lifetime of stealing food and pocket change had led to this moment. It was suddenly so clear to Krivash how lucky he had been until now. He wanted to cry—but tough guys don’t cry.

“No.”

“Do you think I’m lying?” Grimmel said.

“No.”

Grimmel stared into Krivash’s compound eyes for a long moment. The hand on his shoulder seemed so heavy. The gentle smile was mocking him.

“Are you going to let me kill a bunch of kids? I didn’t know you were so cold hearted.”

“No.” Krivash said, defiance finding root in him. He wasn’t sure where his confidence came from, but the image of this man meeting Cyan and Kich forced something into Krivash he hadn’t felt many times before. He planted his feet and looked up into Grimmel’s eyes. “I stole your truck because you let people stupider than me drive it around. If you are gonna blame someone, blame the guy with the stupid made up name.”

Grimmel kicked Krivash hard in his abdomen. Krivash jerked several inches into the air before buckling into a heap on the ground. Grimmel stepped over him. The room quieted as everyone paused to watch their boss recompose himself.

“Grimmel is my families name.” Grimmel said, turning away. “You and you, pick several of your best men. Go to the abandoned shanties at 46XT and 288RNF. Bring all the urchins in. All of them.”

Grimmel turned back to Krivash. He knelt down and grabbed the shirren by the antennae, heaving him into the air as he stood. Krivash shrieked mentally in pain, causing those nearby to flinch at the sudden mental intrusion.

“I can’t figure you out. Most people who try and fuck me over are at least brazen enough to think they are tougher or smarter than me,” Grimmel shouted. “I can’t tell if this is an act, or if you truly are a hapless idiot who is in over his head. So we are going to find out.”

Krivash kept shrieking in pain, grasping fruitlessly at the thick arm holding him aloft. Grimmel brought his face close to Krivash’s, but he didn’t stop shouting.

“By the night cycle I will have all the damned urchins in the city locked up.” Grimmel started, his fatherly facade contrasted by his loud voice. “On Deck 7, the shithead who calls himself Dismember is buying up all the guns he can get his hands on. Take a truck, fill it with his guns, and bring it back to me. If you don’t, the urchin’s will be vented into space. You have three days.”

The hand opened and Krivash landed on his feet and fell to his knees. His antennae twitched as if they were panicking separately from their host. The pain subsided and Krivash began to calm down. Relief was flooding through him, which was quickly followed by guilt; he had a chance to make things right, but he knew that he wasn’t good enough to pull it off.

Grimmel dropped a key fab next to Krivash. The very same one.

—DTM

Krivash the Roach is my character in the table top role-playing game: Starfinder.

Krivash the Roach: Part 1

“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.

“Stay here!”

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.”

—DTM

Krivash the Roach is my character that I play in the table top role-playing game: Starfinder.