Friday, September 13, 2013

A Knight To Remember

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. You might find yourself in there but that is a figment of your imagination or just the fact that you have the power to inspire.

This creative work of fiction is based upon the worlds, characters and creations of George Lucas, and the owner of the properties and right to those properties, Disney. This work is intended as a tribute to those worlds and the people that created them, made them real before our ours and ears, and those that are recreating that wonder for the next generation to enjoy. They will upon request from the holder of the rights, be removed and their wishes respected both legally and creative. Thank you to those involved in their existence. Lucas Arts and Lucasfilm Games both played a big part in inspiration of my lifetime within the world of Star Wars and thanks to all of its employees, both current and former.

[Updated September 15, 2013 - 11:30 AM - use your browser's search function to find the word September]


[Background into the atmosphere of the post New Republic era galaxy we find Sheylin, Nikko, Shinak and Telik demystifying the motives of the deceased attacker at Nikko's club. We also begin to understand the kind of pressure upon the few remaining Jedi at that point in time, as they are being hunted down, even by those whose freedom they protected for so long.]


A Knight To Remember


A creative work based upon the worlds and characters of George Lucas, Lucasfilm, Lucas Arts and Disney


written by Brian Joseph Johns

(thank you Scott)


Nikko's


He stood tall, raising his tankard in clash to that of Shinak who held his against it's force. They laughed at the resistance between tankards, but mostly they laughed in rejoice of their profit which was abundant for their trip, and for the trouble. Nikko's was packed making the success of their most recent job that much more enjoyable and in the face of the Empire, whose grip was strong, but none so much as their lust for wealth and adventure.

The club itself was a former warehouse that their employer had remodeled years prior to the Empire's incursion into the system. Nikko's prior business dealings had drawn pressure from some of his business associates, a large risk in the face of the Empire's presence. It had been a year since the destruction of the Death Star, a subject only spoken of in hushed tones in dark corners of the galaxy.

The Empire had extended its reach to every system it occupied and expanded that occupation where necessary. It searched ruthlessly for the Rebel force responsible for the loss of their super weapon and rumour had it that a dark lord of the sith was overseeing this search directly. Nobody ever mentioned that name in these times. The memory and loss of Alderaan was still a fresh wound and the loss of life a scar on the surface of the living force.


Nikko had sold off his inventory to an unnamed buyer, who had paid for the entire inventory in one lump sum. He had acquired the inventory years earlier during an estate buyout and had sat on it for years, not moving a single piece of what appeared to be spare parts for an assembly line. It took a month to empty the warehouse, shipping three loads a day and only drawing attention once from the local Imperial detachment. Nikko's was opened to the public as an entertainment facility a few months later, and became a success for its owner, though nowhere near as profitable as his smuggling years, but much safer and more enjoyable. 
Nikko never got involved in anything that would tarnish his customer's respect, a rule of business that kept him alive in the worst of times.

Nikko still ran the odd trade job if it was at least twice the return on investment, and Shinak and Telik were often the delivery men of choice and paid well for their service. They were the right combination of muscle and discretion, and Nikko preffered the latter over the former. Telik had come into the service of Nikko during his days as a weapon runner for Mandalore before setting up his smuggling network locally. 


Telik was a combat specialist (a common talent among Mandalorians) and a skilled pilot while Shinak was a jack of all trades, brash and sometimes foolish enough in the right places to get most jobs done. What Telik lacked in curiosity Shinak made up for in boldness, which was often another guise for foolishness. Those who knew Shinak and Telik in this system, remembered them and those who had forgotten them were likely dead. 


Nikko had always been happy with their record of performance and in their two hundred and thirty eight runs together had only lost their payload but once. They had made up for that loss by hijacking the vessel of the merchant pirate who had stolen it returning with both the lost cargo and a Corellian Corvette. That came back to Nikko at more than twenty times the return on investment. Telik and Shinak were inseparable from each other and from Nikko's employ.


They sat at the bar in the center of the club, quaffing their drinks and trading stories of the past. The club had all of the modern amenities, including holo-vaults and droid pal booths. There were Twi'lek dancers to get the customers dancing and even celebrity holograms that would make an occasional appearance in the club. The staff was friendly and courteous, as Nikko has always insisted and everyone who visited Nikko's had become a repeat customer.


Telik and Shinak eyed the club from their perch at the bar. Their drinks disappeared quickly, but not so quick as their enjoyment, though the two may well have been linked. They were reminiscing about their past on Mandalore and staying away from the topic of their cargo runs purposely in order to remain discreet about their business at Nikko's.


Though they were alert they failed to notice their appointment with fate that night in its slight package and modest demeanor. She approached the bar, nor more than neck in height to theirs, but her presence still hidden from their attention. A dark hood concealed her face from them and her voice emerged from within the cloak and somehow made it to the aural detectors of the bar droid. The droid returned with her drink and placed it in front of her, collecting payment then turning to other duties.

Telik, the taller of the two stood pointing to his drink, signalling the bar droid for a refill. The droid acknowledged and returned with two fresh tankards. Shinak taking his and greedily drawing from it, while Telik watched paid for the drinks, Shinak not noticing his current uneasiness.


"I think we should leave" Telik said to Shinak, who was clearly amused by Telik's statement.


"What? We just got here and after that trip, we should be taking it easy" Shinak responded, becoming agitated by Telik's concern.


"Look brother. I think that we need to leave!" Telik looked directly at Shinak speaking quietly enough not to alert others, and Shinak knew he was serious.

The only time that Shinak had ignored Telik about his intuition had seen him end up with a scar that spanned his back diagonally from shoulder to waist. A deep gash, inflicted by a Gamorrean from behind (how they often liked to attack). Telik had killed the Gamorrean with his bare hands in a savage battle that would have easily found its way into the archives of Mandalore, saving Shinak's life and earning his life long trust.


Shinak reluctantly poured his and Telik's remaining drink down his throat and gathered himself following Telik to Nikko's office door at the back of the club. They navigated the dance floor and numerous drunken patrons in the flashing strobes and holographic projections.


Another mysterious figure took notice of them from a table in the recesses of the club. As they approached Nikko's door, the figure stood and started in their direction, a dark cape flowing behind him as he picked up pace. His hood had dropped, revealing a deeply scarred face and recessed eyes. His height was comparable with Telik's as was his build, though he'd not need either for his current task.


The lady from the bar that had triggered Nikko's intuition had caught sight of the stranger and had known that this was the threat she'd been told to seek here. She quickly made her way around the central bar and around to the back of the club, approaching her target's left rear flank, the best choice as she had already deemed him to be right handed, and therefore his guard would be weakest to his left.


Telik and Shinak approached the office door, where two burly guards stood, dwarfing them both. They stepped upon recognizing Telik, Shinak following behind. Telik's heart was racing and his senses were on high alert as he approached the door, which slid open for them and slid closed behind them as they passed through it. Telik felt a momentary sense of relief as he walked the hallway and turned the corner into Nikko's office.


Outside in the club, the burly guards had taken notice of a stranger who approached the door to Nikko's office. The one of the left stepped forward to confront this stranger while the one of the right drew a pistol. The stranger didn't slow for the approaching guard but merely gestured, and the guard's innards collapsed while an unseen force threw him across the the air like a rag doll. He was dead before he hit floor. The other had time to fire a shot at the stranger, the beam glanced harmlessly off his shoulder. He pulled the trigger to fire another shot but instead felt a sharp pain as the pistol, exploded into pieces of shrapnel, one piece impacting his solar plexus with a montrous blunt force, rending him to the floor before the stranger. The stranger stopped, eyeing the brute for a moment who was struggling with his abdomen and gasping for air. The stranger gestured with his hand, and the brute's neck snapped, leaving him motionless and dead.


The stranger turned to face the front of the club, where the music and dance had stopped while onlookers looked on in utter shock at the encounter at Nikko's door. The stranger gestured again, and a large piece of machinery more than twice the size of a bantha: the power conversion assembly fell in front of the front door, barely missing a crowd of people and blocking entry and exit to the club. Nobody was going to come in and nobody was going to leave, except the stranger. The stranger turned to Nikko's door, failing to notice the table that blindsided him from his left. It struck him hard sending him through the air, joining the table in flight. Both found the floor again, colliding with another table along the way, and stopping in a pile on the far side of the club. There was a moment of peace, and a cheer from the front of the club. 


The mysterious lady stepped forward drawing the hood from her face, revealing an angelic beauty. She spoke in a commanding voice:


"Everyone remain calm, and please start tending to the..."


The heap of table debris exploded and the stranger emerged from the chaos, clearly enraged. Some of the debris sped toward a couple who were held in embrace protecting one another. The mysterious lady gestured her hands and the chunks of debris stopped in mid flight as if they had hit an invisible obstacle. The couple, who'd been sparked into action by their protector, ran for cover keeping their hands clasped.


The mysterious lady turned in time to see another large section of ceiling come crashing down upon her. A dust cloud filled the air and the hopes of the crowd were dashed to their fear of the stranger, who snickered slightly satisfied with this outcome. He began towards Nikko's door once again ignoring the screams and cries of the crowd.


Nikko, who had been busy in his office finishing up the business from the previous job looked up to see Telik and Shinak entering the room.


"What gives, my good men?" ask Nikko, still happy about to profit from the day's events.


"There's something wrong" Telik said bluntly, looking shaken.


"I told you two for the last time, we don't water down the drinks!" Nikko blurted out defensively.


"Its not the drinks. This time. Its something else..." Telik stated, his concentration drifting somewhere else.


The three heard a loud crash from inside the club and the music had stopped. Screams could be heard from the club and Nikko reached for the controls to the transparent wall to have a look. The wall opacity faded and revealed the scene beyond into the club. Imaging reticles quickly zeroed in on two people who were near the back of club, closest to the office door who were engaged in a conflict. There seemed to be a fair bit of damage and there were no sign of the burly guards or the other club employees.


Nikko cursed under his breath and shouted to Telik and Shinak:


"Go see what you can do out there. Take what you need from the weapons locker".


He didn't need to point and Telik was already on it tossing a battle rifle to Shinak and grabbing a rapid repeater with an under mounted thermal detonator launcher.


Shinak ran down the hall towards the club seeing only a dust cloud at the door way. He stopped for a moment and shrugged before continuing forward.


Telik ran down the hall behind Shinak shouting ahead.


"I'll take the left, you take the right. Stay in touch".


Telik turned out the doorway charging through the dust cloud and into the unknown.


Shinak activated the sensor aperature on the battle rifle, and a small holographic heads up diplay jumped to life before his viewpoint. It indicated the current threat level of any targets in its field of view, and was currently clear. He continued further into it coming upon a pile of debris where the collapse ceiling had come to rest.


"Nothing here Telik. The ceiling needs a new coat of armite though" Shinak spoke into the headset.


"Back me up here!" Telik's voice blared through the headset in panic and the sound of repeater fire echoed through the now silent club.


Shinak turned and ran toward the sound careful not to stride into the field of fire. The threat indicator jumped to life before his face, indicating an extreme threat level from a single target, that appeared to be in a melee.


Shinak arrived only to see Telik thrown to the ground by a tall cloaked stranger. The stranger turned in time to see Shinak leveling the battle rifle at the stranger. He pulled the trigger and flashes of supercharged plasma streamed toward the stranger faster than even he could move. The plasma struck him in several points along his chest throwing him back, his cloak catching fire as he flew backwards to the floor.


Telik struggled to his feet and the crowd cheered again, gaining its lost hope while Telik limped towards Shinak who guarded his approach.


"Looks like we're even now, and you haven't got any scars. I guess I'm one up" Shinak said, a smile crossing his face.


"You bantha loving slime devil" replied Telik, smiling in return.


They shook hands to seal the deal before being thrown back by an immense force which hit them like a wall. They both flew into the wall dropping to the floor, this time Telik rising first to see the stranger, tattered and burnt had arisen and was approaching them, the smell of rage thick in the air.


The stranger's tattered cloak still held onto to his body, and bits of shining metal could be seen beneath it. The armour had protected its wearer who strode forward to complete its task. The stranger leveled his hands, pointing both at Telik, gesturing twice. Telik flew back, slamming again into the wall, held in place against it as the stranger approached.


"All of you must die today" said the stranger, clasping his hands in front of him toward Telik.


Telik gasped for air for a few moments struggling, ultimately falling limp and then to the floor. The stranger turned to the crowd near the front of the club.


"Your turn" he said, absent of any concern.


A blurred form passed before his field of view and the mysterious lady materialized before him in all of her angelic presence.


"You'll not be causing any more harm" she said confidently before flying through the air over his head, latching onto his shoulders and flipping him onto the floor with the force of a wind wyrm. She landed on her feet stretching her hands out before her as the stranger stood once more.


"It is too bad we could not do this the traditional way. I'd enjoy cleaving you in two" he said, steam bellowing forth from his nostrils.


"There'll be nothing to savor. The suffering you've caused is over" she responded before moving in a blur to his left side, twisting his arm forward into a lock and forcing him once again to the floor.


The crowd once again cheered, amid a few cries and the mysterious lady fell back into her defensive stance before the stranger, who struggled to his feet once again.


When he stood this time, he immediately plunged in attempted attack, catching her off her stance long enough to force her to the floor. He gestured with his hands one last time seethering as he did.


"You too will die this day" he said, watching her suffocate.


She forced herself to her feet against his power and they found themselves in a standoff, both of their skills and talents with the force in balance. She held him off, struggling to gain the ground she needed to incapacitate him, as he needed to stand trial for the  injustice he had caused here and in numerous other places. Murder was not the justice she sought nor the justice of what she represented.


The stranger had no such ideals to hinder his goals. She would die as surely as they all would and he'd report to his superiors with the data they needed.


She held on with all of her strength and the stranger pushed her back once again. He closed in for the kill.


The sound of a single shot echoed throughout the club and the stranger staggerer backward a moment and fell backward to the floor, a smoking hole in his forehead.

Nikko stood in the doorway to the club, his custom pistol brandished in his hand and he cursed once again under his breath.


"Good thing for that. He could have really caused some damage to my club" he said listlessly looking around.


He stolled over to the mysterious lady offering her a hand, though she did not need it nor did she accept it. He seemed unperterbed and he was. His girl was his club.


She hurried over to Telik's body and straightened him out on the floor before her. She knelt beside him, placing one hand on his forehead and one hand on his abdomen. A moment of silence passed and Telik came to life, choking and gasping for breath. He paused when he saw the face of an angel. His angel.


"Am I dead?" Telik asked her, smiling charmingly for her.


"Almost. You may have a headache for a while, but you should be ok. I am Sheylin" she replied, showing no response to his charms though inside she may have felt at least something for him.


They helped Shinak to his feet and then tended to the injured each in turn, and by the time they were done, a rescue team had cleared the debris from the door. A team of law enforcement officers poured into the club followed by medical droids.


A few hours after the injured had been removed and the questions answered, they were all allowed to leave, and Telik, Shinak, Nikko and Sheylin returned to Nikko's club to talk about the situation.


"Who was the assassin and who sent him?" Telik asked, unsure who to direct the question towards.


"He certainly wasn't a Jedi, or anti-Jedi" Shinak stated, not knowing anything of the Sith as did few, deception was key to their existence.


Sheylin kept her silence as those were her orders. There were so few of her kind that remaining hidden was imperative until Coruscant could be secured against the enemy and the galaxy restored to peace.


"One of you was involved in something that they wanted to hide, at all costs" Sheylin replied.


"Anything that we should know about Nikko?" Shinak asked him accusingly.


"No, nothing. Business is business" Nikko paused for a moment to think before continuing.


"The individual who bought the contents of this building paid for them all in one payment" Nikko stated considering whether these were details that he should have revealed.


After looking around the room unable to conceal his thoughts against the scepticism of the others, he continued.


"The inventory was an estate buyout. That of a Mandalorian smuggler whom had according to the logs (and legend) acquired a large portion of it during a raid in Kessel during the Clone Wars. It was stolen from a disabled Frigate there. I don't know much beyond that point" Nikko offered up the explanation to his companions and a mysterious lady named Sheylin.


"What Mandalorian smuggler and what kind of inventory?" Telik asked.


"It was mostly spare parts for energy combines, a few optic resonators for phalanx class cannons from an Acclamator class cruiser and some encrypted holoreels that contained a lot of pre-empire propaganga most likely the property of the IGBC. Most of it we couldn't even decipher." Nikko paused taking in the faces of his stunned companions and then continued.


"I was tipped by an associate about the estate purchase option about  seven years ago. He insisted that I buy it, that it was too good a deal to pass on, so I bought the estate and stored it here. Sold it all two years ago." Nikko looked around, a tinge of guilt crossed his face, but only for a moment.


"And who was the smuggler?" Telik asked again, slightly more impatient this time.


"It was Gerran The Sly..." Nikko replied.

"You fester sloth! Why didn't you tell me about that!" Telik stood and blared at Nikko, who rose in defence.


"Its business! I knew you'd take it the wrong way. You're the best crew that I have. I couldn't take that chance to lose you and I couldn't chance losing out on that deal!" Nikko yelled back, though pleadingly.


Gerran The Sly was one of the most feared smugglers during the transition from the Republic to Imperial Senate, a time that had seen the Jedi Order on Coruscant fall to charges of High Treason. With the Jedi Order gone, many smugglers were free to do as they would, without any resistance from the Chancellor or the clone army that were assembled to deal with break away systems.


Gerran had amassed a sizeable conglomerate of criminals looking to seize the opportunity offered by the disarray in the Republic and begin their own private war against the prior powers that kept them in check. With the Jedi Order dismantled and fleeing the Republic, there would be no resistance to their effort. They were often used by the Chancellor himself to conduct secret operations and to unsettle opposing governments to the his new Imperial Senate. Raiding ships would often block needed trade routes to and from target systems in order to pressure them, while the growing Empire would offer up its assistance in exchange for a signed occupation treaty. Gerran's army would continue the pressure until the Empire had supplanted the leadership with their own, moving on to the next system.


Gerran had the support of Mandalore during the early stages of the transition and was largely considered a folk hero by the locals and they had supported early Imperial Senate at that time. That changed during a raid upon a Republic outpost with many Mandalorian resident workers. Telik's sister had been living at the outpost married to a member of the 109th Republic Cavalry unit, both his sister and her husband were murdered along with 300 other colonists.


[UPDATED June 12, 2013 11:00PM]


From that point on Gerran was recognized as a criminal even by Mandalore, forcing his ties into the underworld even further and soon he only found reprieve amongst his fellow smugglers and his contacts in the growing Empire. Even the Hutt Cartel loathed him, though they too would employ him if only to keep the peace between the Hutts and the Imperial Senate. The Chancellor knew that he would need the underground economy in tact as a spy network for his infiltration of the opposing systems to Imperial occupation and the Hutts although powerful, could not withstand an all out war with the Imperials. They merely did as always and tried to pull the appropriate puppet strings on the right people at the right moment, with a determination that the Hutts were capable of.


The Chancellor had the unique ability among the Sith that allowed "glimpses" into the minds of the Hutts on occasion. He used this to secure a victory against a group of Old Republic sympathizers whom had a Hutt in their circle. A night one week before a planned attack by the members of the sympathizers, the Chancellor had a vision or dream which gave him access to details of the attack, including the target location for the attack against the the supply convoy. The Chancellor rerouted the first section of the 102nd fleet into position for ambush against the sympathizers attack. The first section was a sizeable force which quickly crushed the sympathizers attack force, with one pilot and a bridge officer from the sympathizers being taken prisoner. The officer revealed detailed information about the sympathizers under torture and the Chancellor's Sith apprentice was dispatched to deal with their remaining numbers.


[Updated September 13, 2013 - 11:30 PM]


"You were dealing with the likes of Gerran, knowing the history of Mandalore and Gerran! You are more treacherous than Gerran himself!" Shinak responded to Nikko.


"You have all been played by them. That is their game. To make you fools to their manipulation." Sheylin responded to Shinak.


"They wanted something that you have. Hidden. Forever. That is why they dispatched an apprentice of the arts of the dark side to deal with this. There is a much bigger piece to this puzzle." She continued.


"If you are such an ally of this force, then where is your sabre of light?" asked Telik.


"These are dark times, Telik. The three convened and agreed not to use and sometimes even carry sabres, for they identify us to our adversaries. Sabres are rare amongst us. They take many resources to build and much effort to come by. I have one, but it is hidden for it is in these times a mark of death. If I was to wield my sabre, my saviour, I'd be a mark for Vader, and like the others, have been felled by his blade. He'd arrive and we'd all be dealt with and dead shortly after. Since the deadly order was given from the depths we've not bore sabre and kept our abilities under check." Sheylin explained, Shinak, Telik and even Nikko intensely listening.


"But the Jedi are..." Telik tried to finish his statement but found himself short of breath before he did.


"Do not state the name of our order, if you value your freedom or our lives and protection of your freedom again. Don't work against us. Work with us." Sheylin exclaimed releasing the force tension upon his Mandalorian abdomen enough for him to breath freely.


"They are after something for sure sending a devil like that to our neck of the Galaxy. There is money to be made if we can find it." exclaimed Nikko.


"And lives to be lost and freedom to yielded in the name of it. When the senate leadership is replaced and emergency powers of the senate revoked, will we realize our potential without giving up our freedom in exchange." Sheylin spoke with determination and wisdom.


"We have powers. We are rare and our powers drawn to their limits in defence of freedom. For all. We have been divided and hunted to the edge of extinction by our adversaries, who show us no mercy. We are untrusted by the very people that we protect and most would likely turn us in if they found any of us. Use us like you would for an emergency rather than a take-out service." Sheylin continued.


"You are now in their sights and they are aware of your establishment. They know that what they seek has passed through your doors, and will stop at nothing to find clues to it's whereabouts including dispatching any one of you, your families and their families until they have found it." Sheylin accented her statement, and Nikko felt himself shiver momentarily.

"I must go through your records Nikko, and find this thing that the agent of darkness sought before they find it for the sake of the three." Sheylin addressed Nikko, Shinak and Telik.


"You can do so, but you must let me know what you find, if anything." Nikko told her.


"I can't promise you anything of the sort. That information is too dangerous." Sheylin responded.


"Then you can't use my archive droids to find it. If you don't start trusting the people that you claim to protect, how are you going to earn their trust?" Nikko raised an eyebrow, accenting his posit to her.


"Very well. I will do so, but you must promise not to tell anyone else beyond those of us here and now." she said in compromise offering her own tenures to the deal.


"It wouldn't be very profitable if I did now, would it?" Nikko leaned back in his chair, arms folded.


"I can see how you found your success in your business. We are in agreement then. Now if you will excuse me I will look into that." Sheylin turned to the door and walked to Nikko's utility room which was located down the hall before the entrance to the public areas of the club.


"You two. Accompany her and keep an eye on her. I don't want to miss a thing." Nikko asked of Shinak and Telik.


She was at the archive console and the archive droid, which was more of a stationary interface feature more than anything popped up from an opening on top of the console. A monocled eye socket peered at Sheylin awaiting instructions.


"I need access to all records with credit transfer or tracking information related to Coruscant  Korriban, Kamino and Geonosis. Anything appears to have been purposely obscured." Sheylin demanded of the archive droid.


"Searching. Filtering. Tabulating. Done." responded the archive droid in a monotone.


The results popped up in a holographic projection, a list of files with departure and destination points and the name of the shipper.


"Interesting one hundred and twenty three records. Of those give me the ones whose value is more than 1000 New Republic credits and with dates between the battle of Naboo and the battle of Coruscant. That should get rid of the small parts shipments and in the appropriate time window." Sheylin stated, narrowing the results even further.


"Done." replied the archive droid, exactly as it had before.


"Seventeen records. That's better. Let's get through this then." Sheylin started cycling through each of the records in detail one at a time, accessing interface controls on the console.


Shinak and Telik looked at each other, amused by her quick progress.


"Here. This is it. An assembly algorithm and binding codes." She pointed at the holograph.


"Assembly for what?" Shinak asked thoughtfully.


"Its doesn't say. The binding codes refer to a part on another shipment. Bring up the record details for the shipment referred to in reference to the binding codes here." Sheylin directed the archive droid.


"Searching. Done." came the flat toned response.


"Corellia? That doesn't make sense. Corellia has long been known to resist the growing threat. Bail Organa even sought refuge there following the dark hour. There's no part number, only a reference code." Sheylin pondered this and continued.


"Search the records for that reference code." Sheylin ordered the droid.


"No records found. Done." the archive droid answered back.


"We must travel to Corellia and find the source of this reference code. Transfer all of the records in this filter to this account and then erase the audit trail for that transaction using the same account for authority. No trail back to this search and transfer." Sheylin held up her hand, which was promptly scanned by the monocle of the archive droid.


"Done." responded the droid.


"Now make a copy of this search for Nikko in his private file and finish up." Sheylin asked before turning to Telik.


"Done. Have a nice day." the archive droid retreated back into its chamber in the console.


"We need to leave immediately. We're going to need your ship." Sheylin looked determinately at Telik who stepped back.


"My ship? Whose going to pay me?" Telik asked.


"Why Nikko of course." Sheylin stormed out of the utility room and down the hall to Nikko's office again.


"It is done. Your private..." Sheylin was interrupted.


"Yes I see. So what is this reference code business?" Nikko asked her, looking at his own console output which echoed Sheylin's activities directly to him.


"We need to travel to Corellia to find out. I need you to pay Telik and Shinak for this trip." she asked him, without overstepping her bounds this time.


"You want me to pay them? What's in it for my business?" Nikko asked her, very obviously trying to push the debt in his favour.


"You amaze me Nikko. The freedom of the galaxy rests in your hands at this moment and you choose to bicker over one run to Corellia? You'll have your profit, when we succeed. Consider this an investment. If we find what we are looking for, you'll have plenty of customers who'd pay handsomely for it." Sheylin responded, playing his greed and business savvy to her advantage.


"Alright. I'll consider it an investment. Telik, Shinak. Take Sheylin here to Corellia, following her orders while on the ground. While on the ship, you're in charge. Understood?" Nikko said, taking charge once again, looking the three of them over.


"Understood. This better be worth it." Telik replied.


"For a..." Shinak almost slipped "...fancy lady, you sure are a lot of trouble." he finished carefully, brunting momentarily for the possibility she'd use her powers on him.

"I appreciate your Mandalorian sensibility. Now we should make our preparations to leave immediately." Sheylin spoke to him calmly, rewarding him for his care of her identity.

The Specialist

Shoobra lay comfortably about his throne room on the platform that had been erected to support one of his weight, and merit. He was used to the those around him polishing his tail ends for a little bit of his favour. His jester, Geeb, a heavily demoralized and feisty Gungan who'd lost patience with Shoobra a moontrage ago was his only source of amusement these days. Geeb would say exactly what was on his mind to Shoobra whenever he was chided or pushed by Shoobra, and of course this amused him. Lost in thought in the entertainment around him, a large man with a patch over his eye approached the throne.

"Shoobra, I beg your forgiveness for my interruption, but Kek Minart is here." offered the man humbly to the Hutt.

"What are you waiting for. Bring him here now!" Shoobra spoke, the floor rumbling with the depth of his voice.

"As you wish, Shoobra." answered the man, as he backed up a step still facing Shoobra, then turned to the archway entry to the chambers.

"You should fire him. You should kill him first, then fire him. Then eat him while the rest of your staff watch. Then shoot yourself!" Geeb injected before the man was out of earshot.

The Hutt laughed aloud, without restraint and sincerely though with the Hutts that was hard to tell. When he'd calmed down he flushed a welt feeler he'd eaten, a delicacy even for the Hutts, down with a drink from his hand tap.

A Zabrak male walked into the room, one of his many horns chipped, his battle scathed armour covering part of him, the rest made up of a mixture of his cybernetic replacement limbs. The armour itself was made up of a scale mail he'd built himself out of the armour plating from a salvaged Z-95 Headhunter fighter. There were several modifications he'd made himself, including custom weapons systems suited to match his highest paying jobs, hunting Jedi of the Old Republic.

"Who is this fool? He's obviously the new Jester here, after my job no doubt..." Geeb had barely finished his sentence before he was permanently silence by a quick blaster bolt to his forehead. Geeb slumped and moved no more.

"No more Geeb. You must be Kek." Shoobra laughed, unmoved by Geeb's demise and carefully reading the Zabrak before him.

Kek nodded, holstering his blaster.

"I like you. You come in here and shoot Geeb. Geeb insult everyone. You shoot him. I like you. Maybe somebody shoot you too soon. I used to like Geeb. Now I like you." Shoobra said thoughtfully revealing a great deal about Hutt loyalty.

"I am a busy man, what is this job about?" Kek answered, sneering at Shoobra.

"I seek a valuable person. A girl. You know? She is hunted by Empire and she make trouble for me here. She take something I need for keepsake. I pay good." Shoobra said, lying.

"I've checked her out. She'll be a tough one. Double my usual price. Half up front. The rest upon delivery." Kek responded having dealt with many liars. Even Hutts, having out lived a few.

"I pay you now half. You bring her and you get the other half. I prefer alive, but I still pay for her dead." Shoobra bellowed, his body rolling in motion under his speech.

Kek responded with an acknowledging nod.

"I want double the usual amount. She's special and you know it." Kek stood by the value of the service he offered.

"You drive a hard bargain for a harmless girl. You get your money. Double. You get the girl and bring her to me." Shoobra gestured to the bounty hunter.

"Consider it done. Have it forwarded to my account." he answered Shoobra, drawing his blaster and firing another shot at Geeb's dead carcass. Geeb's body disintegrated, disappearing into a fiery cold plasma.

"By the way. You need a new jester." Kek marched out of the room on his way to find his target.

The Galaxy drew dark and the Emperor grew darker and sought the prize once lost.

to be continued.

Thank you George Lucas. 
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