“Awaken,” the voices whispered together.
Rix started, shaking his head as his office came back into focus. The Feeorin shook his head again, trying to clear the cobwebs away.
Accounting was dull, by most standards, but it seldom put him to sleep.
“What a strange dream,” he murmured aloud. “I need caf if I’m going to finish these projections.”
He rose, a bit unsteadily, and walked out of his cramped, tiny office and headed toward the break room on the thirty-eighth floor of the Corellian Engineering Corps’s Tower Two skyscraper. The walk was only twenty-two meters, took him past his boss’s office, and offered a spectacular view of Coronet at night.
Lights blazed across the city, shining in the dark of night. Rix blinked as he slowly walked down the hall, the normally enjoyable view somehow putting him on edge. “What was that dream?” he asked aloud.
“You had it, too, didn’t you?” another voice rasped in the darkness. Rix stopped abruptly, squinting into the darkness as the voice resolved itself into form: his boss, Nrohk, eighty-four kilograms of scaly Trandoshan.
“You had the dream. The voices. Calling.”
Rix frowned. Something was wrong in Nrohk’s voice. “What dream?”
“Don’t lie to me, Rix. I can feel it. You had the dream.” The Trandoshan lumbered forward, his very movements predatory. “You’re a rival.”
“I don’t…” was all Rix could get out before the Trandoshan leaped.
Reflexes slowed by sleep, the Feeorin couldn’t slip out of the way before his boss hit him, sending him flying backward into thin cubicle walls. The duraplast crunched and shattered, slowing Rix and sending him sprawling to the office floor.
“I will brook no competition, Rix,” Nrohk growled. “Whatever this power is, it’ll be mine.”
“You’re welcome to it,” Rix muttered as he fumbled for just a moment before he swept the small holdout blaster up. “I’ve got no interest in it. Why the hell do you think I became an accountant?” He squeezed the trigger.
The blaster flared, illuminating the walls bloodred. Nrohk stumbled backward, his scales smoking.
For a moment, Rix thought it was over.
Nrohk began to laugh, somewhere between a wheeze, a hiss, and a chuckle, with all the warmth of deep space. “I can feel the power now. You think your little toy will do you any good?” The Trandoshan rushed forward.
Rix fired again, but Nrohk didn’t even slow. Another shot, and the grip of the blaster pulsed in his hand to warn him the charge was depleted. The accountant hurled his spent weapon at the Trandoshan, aiming at his eyes.
The solid impact of hot metal hitting scaly flesh sizzled. The Trandoshan barely flinched, but it blinded him for a critical second. Rix dropped to the floor and swept his leg, tangling the Trandoshan and sending him sprawling.
“Guess not,” Rix panted, rage rising in his chest as the Trandoshan rolled over and began to charge at him on all fours. The Feeorin braced and met him in a tangle of flesh and scales, punching, biting, scratching, gouging.
Nrohk was getting stronger.
Rix brought a knee up into the Dosh’s jaw. Nrohk stumbled backward for a moment, shaking his head. The accountant backed up, could feel the transparisteel at his back.
“Nowhere to go, rival,” the Dosh snarled.
“Agreed.” Rix braced.
Rix met his onslaught, grabbing the Dosh by his suit, and swung him into the window with his attacker’s own momentum.
Transparisteel fractured, cracking.
The Feeorin stepped back and kicked with all his might.
His boss plunged thirty-eight floors to the streets below.
“Dammit,” Rix muttered. “So much for accounting.”