The Nar Shaddaa Chronicles: Part 2 - A New Space

Written by Jason Cross aka Darth L ight • Published Updated • Estimated reading time: 93 minutes (18,615 words) • Resize Font

Dedicated to Dr. M. Dziuzycka, and to my awesome soprano-singing sister, Amie; let's bash those Ewoks sis! And who could forget Dr. Bablitz? An extraordinary professor of Roman Studies — you promised to kiss the book (yours) professor. Cheers. And you too, departed Felix Regia, acquaintance from Nigeria at UBC.


Not this place, not this time?


Timeframe: 5 ABY [Six months after the Galactic Empire fell and the events of Return of the Jedi]


"There shall come a time of pain unlike anyone has seen in the galaxy; a time of sorrow untold where the vats of life shall burn red, and many shall flock to Glorious Jewel for the great rebirth which will never come."


--Fynn the Mystic, the Chronicles of Hate.


Chapter I ? "Ancient Orders and Oppression"


A Post-Imperial Galactic Conflict continued across the Core Worlds of the galaxy with the Imperials clinging bitterly to all they had left, after bitterly losing the Battle of Endor six months ago.


The battle over the ancient Core World of Coruscant raged furiously. Admiral Junie ordered all forward turbolasers to fire increasingly at the Mon Calamari battle cruiser the Aspacer. The Invincible destroyed said ship suddenly with its heavy green laser barrage, and the battle escalated with great fiery duels of Imperial Star Destroyers and other Imperial assault craft and Republic Alliance star cruisers over the shinning old Imperial capital and its four moons.


New TIE fighters and TIE Interceptors dueled with upgraded X-wings, B-wings, and A-wings in quick and organized sorties and formations.


Some said the fallen, but not really down, Galactic Empire was like the facially-scarred female admiral, who tenaciously held on to most of the Core Worlds, including the old Imperial mysterious retreat planet of Byss, currently still held by a powerful pupil of Darth Sidious, Ars Dangor — a man dedicated to the dark side of the Force in all its glory. Luke Skywalker, now a Jedi, did not know about him — since Byss was a significant nexus place of the dark side of the Force.


The old Emperor, Palpatine, had used the receptive dark side energies of Byss to formulate his dark side experiments and search deeper in the lore and mastery of the paths of the Sith.


Admiral Bablon, another female Admiral, commanding the Star Destroyer, the August Regime, was making good, surprise headway with her small raiding fleet against Republic Alliance outposts in the Mid Rim sector of the galaxy.


***


"Master Dangor, are you sure that is the most optimum plan?"


"Yes, my ally and apprentice, that is the only possibility."


"Why, my master?"


"Because we only have a fragment of him and not of Emperor Sheev Palpatine."


"But won't trying to clone a Dark Sith Lord like Count Dooku be very dangerous and may have unexpected and dangerous results?"


"Be that as it may, however, we need another strong ally against the Jedi, Luke Skywalker, isn't that that right Nili?


"Yes, my master."


***


It was another sandstorm on Tatooine, the sun baked all life that dared to cling and survive in the Jundland Wastes: the twin suns on the horizon were merciless here, as the wind howled and shifted and howled even more in the hot, burning and hellish desert air. The outlying moisture farmers on the periphery of Mos Eisley were hidden deep in their underground shelters and edifices, and the farms were going to suffer heavy damage now. The new Republic Alliance mayor, Alexann, would try to help them the best he could, but his battle with the many fold lawless elements on the planet was reaching a grimmer escalation, like the weather currently here, not to mention, the fringe bands of marauding old Stormtroopers and Imperial Corellian sympathizers who were also making things difficult and highly dangerous for these sparsely populated territories.


"Isn't that a quote from that flake Fynn the Mystic, 'Give the pregnant women sandals, so they do not walk barefoot' in his, almost lucid, Chronicles of Light Enlightenment?" said Teebo inhaling some local spice at the local impound compound near the outskirts of Mos Eisley, owned by a certain Lander, who now had a few contracts with the new Republic Alliance government.


"I do not think so; Fynn was from Nar Shaddaa, or at least grew up there; then, I believe he gave up scholarly pursuits and joined the Corporate Sector," muttered Lander.


"What a bloody sell-out, but, my friend — everyone is now a 'friend', now that the Empire has fallen," Teebo sighed.


"Fynn was a strange, yet I believe?wise man?who wanted to create a society where women are sterilized after the age of twenty-two; I believe that is what that disquisition is on, that, and some incoherent prophecies — oh by the Hutt gods of Hate! This spice is good now that Palpatine the Un-great is gone!" shouted Teebo.


"Weren't you the one clapping ardently at the local Imperial parade six months ago, Teebo?" snorted Lander.


"Hey, the galaxy moves around, right?" said quietly Teebo, hefting his heavy-repeating blaster rifle.


***


An Archive of Jabba the Hutt: 4.4 ABY [Imperial Period, one month before the events of Return of the Jedi]


Audio Communication 47541.


To: Ashra chief Twi'lek underling, sector 6.


From: His Illustrious Majesty, Jabba the Hutt Lord (2nd Class standing).


"No Greetings Ashra, the Pit has been making me itch, and standards have fallen to a new intolerable low. See to these problems personally, or I'll sell you to an Imp slave colony. Now to business: I've had grave reports from Mos Eisley sector, more of the usual with some interesting mutations, and you know how I feel about the local Gunguns, damn it! Zersaw the Ancient Prophet said there would be days like this, and you know how I feel about Zersaw — the Pit has been a little dark lately! If you don't get the percentages flowing again, I'll have you in chains in the mines of Kessel.


First, the most base idiocy: there has been a great increase in the Bantha Cult since the recent events on Nar Shaddaa, some of the crazy moisture famers have joined covertly and the they are all sacrificing to the Sarlacc, blessed be his Ancient Name! Mostly Jawas of various types, by kidnapping and drugging; some crazy, down and out Swooperes have also joined the fun and my usual run of fizzyglug — yes the embargo imitation stuff — isn't being sold to the middle-class farmers, which means we can't drug them anymore with our concoctions for fun. Something like almost, or so I hear, a hundred Jawas are being digested by the great Sarlacc, blessed be his Name. I want that Bantha Cult under control, if they start assassinating, start to shoot some of the Banthas!


Next, a lot of younger cheap-class Hutts from Nar Shaddaa have come, oh great Nal Hutta how much I miss thee! I want them muscled out; they seem to be practicing strange and bizarre rituals and business practices designed to bring about the end of the Empire or something; I hear of bizarre and kinky things. Too many in the Pit that is lovely Mos Eisley.


Next, space traffic from Corellia is at an intolerable rise, there has been a 'mess' in the ports and some crazy Coruscantian freebooters from level 1313 seem to almost run the place. Clean this up. Clean this up!


The smugglers and their clan heads are bitching like usual, but their particular nasal tone is lately giving me a rash in the Pit. The Imps have gotten more morbid lately: there has been a string of unnecessary executions — bribe them like the usual, but their attitude is worse than normal, so hope it works — if not, see if the Alliance can get involved, they seem to be very busy these days. I hear grisly reports of cannibalism by the Rebels, rotgut exaggeration, no doubt!


Next is the Cantina, the power cells are being toyed with by some drunken Wookies and Jawas; the place is dark and moisture control has turned to total slag, pestilence is at an all-time high. Most of my customers are crawling with something — which just might be the usual.


Next, some sassy Twi'lek is selling cheap rotgut outside nearby the Cantina and some Swooper bike clan-types are getting sick; there have been a lot of fights outside; I hear they even slayed a Dewback. Sell the Twi'lek upstart to the Bantha Cult, and get these Swoopers to raid a farm settlement; I want to hear flames in sector 4, got it?


By the way, I want to control those awful Brother Knave dance shows. Maybe we can raid some famers' daughters to add some more clientele in the Cantina. Hmmm.


Ashra! Ashra! There was another Gungun in the Cantina from Ancients know where, and the ensuing firefight killed fifteen of my steadies, and, and left holes as big the Rancor, sniff, sniff, in some of the interior. I want that Gungun caught and sent to Lander. If you don't catch the Gungun in three standard days, I'll send you to Lander, and I want that big pile of Dewback shit in front of the Cantina cleaned up right now.


A lot of lowlife customers, like Captain Ahad and Captain Grum, were walking around the Cantina. I even heard, Ashra my boy, Boba Fett came-by and walked out. By the Ancient Hutts! Do you know what that does to my reputation? I had a tail rash for four standard days and even my courtesans couldn't heal me properly!


I also heard of some strange things, perhaps rituals, or something, in the corners, so twisted it would even make a Hutt Crime Lord, like myself, bank. Personally, I would say it is just a rumour, but clean this up Ashra, or I will stuff you in my Carbonite gallery.


[End communique.]


***


Preliminary Interlude One: Jabba's Palace 4.4 ABY [Imperial Period]


Boba Fett was entertaining a slightly chubby Corellian serving girl named Bunny, when Jabba summoned him. He paid a visit to Jabba's human female dermatologist, Minderm, first however. He had a bit of time to see the doctor first, he surmised.


"I thought you liked them young, skin doctor," crooned Fett.


"Now, now, Fetty, we can't tell you all our secrets," said Minderm with a slight boom accenting 'secrets'.


"How long before the scarring is clearer?" said Boba Fett, baring the blaster wound the departed Bossk gave him a few months ago on Imperial Coruscant.


"Oh yes," said the dermatologist, "Your famous duel and subsequent hyperspace exit; you are my age aren't you Fett?"


"I am middle-aged skin doctor," said Fett with a slight smile under his helmet.


"Bunny is young," he added.


"Yes," said Minderm swallowing slightly.


"Be careful with the Twi'leks Fetty, there is an outbreak of syphilis at the palace."


"Among other things," said Fett and headed to see his current boss.


"I will have the cellular analysis with the droid ready in three standard hours, Fetty," she looked at him hopefully, "Oh yeah, Haash wants to see you."


***


Boba Fett didn't mind talking to his boss, Jabba the Hutt, but lately things had been boring him to an almost intolerable level as he was working to pay off his large debt to the Hutt Crime Lord for help with his misadventures on Imperial Coruscant a while back.


Greetings Solo, he thought, as he passed the Carbonite Gallery the Hutt was so fond and proud of. Jabba was talking to Bib Fortuna and then waved him away, when the master bounty hunter entered the antechamber leading to the grand hall.


Lately, the Hutt Crime Lord didn't have his band playing as he was meditating on the recent and strange events in Mos Eisley. Since the Empire was concentrating its efforts on the Rebel Alliance more heavily, some troops had been moved off-world, and thus, security was more lax on this dust-ball planet, giving a freer run to the criminal slimeball types here who liked to cause trouble for both the Hutt Crime Lords and the Imperials — corrupt, or just keen, on Palpatine's New Order. The current Imperial governor was fat and lazy and amicable to Jabba, and basically left the Hutt Crime Lord to maintain most of the order on this side of the desert world.


"So Boba Fett, you have me at a disadvantage, the scum needs to be thinned out, and I am low on credits as usual," said Jabba slowly and evenly in Huttese.


"Boss, I am sure the disadvantage is mine," answered the professional bounty hunter.


"Boba, Boba, you're my kind of scum, and I love you dearly, but I need you take care of an urgent matter."


"That's good boss, I am getting bored of all the orgies around here, not that I partake," said Boba Fett, who was fluent in Huttese.


They both chortled and laughed at the lie.


"The Hutt Princess Fraya was visiting with that obnoxious little Bantha turd, Maxella the Hutt lordling third-class, and she disappeared in the desert; he returned and said she got lost despite the guards I sent with them?hmm, I think I am feeding my pigs too well these days, they are getting sloppy."


"Find her and bring her back to the whiny Bantha turd."


"As you wish boss."


***


"What do you want Haash?" asked Boba Fett of the chunky Gran who ran the kitchens and some other parts of the desert palace.


"Fett, Fett! Bordella is missing too, she wondered off, please don't tell the boss or it's my eye!"


"You have three, Haash," said Fett.


"Fett! Fett! You know I'll make it up to you; I'll throw in that Imperial pass I got from Astel!"


"Maybe the Sarlacc is digesting them already as they stumbled into it," grinned slightly Boba Fett under his helmet.


"Okay Haash, I'll pick up the pass when I bring her back; this planet is starting to piss me off."


"Fett by the way, the scanners picked up something above and then it disappeared — ,"


"Must be a glitch, Haash."


***


The greatest sandstorm in the galaxy was over. Somehow both Hutt princesses survived. Bordella hid in a cave, and Fraya hid in the wreckage of Jabba's floating cargo skiff. Her guards, some lazy humans and Gamorreans, had not been so lucky.


***


On the blistering sands of Tatooine, Nili the dark side adept, and trained apprentice of Ars Dangor and hierarchically Palpatine, emerged from Darth Maul's old Sith Infiltrator spacecraft, and boarded his old Sith speeder, Bloodfin — which was modified for the fastest possible speeds. She was stunningly beautiful; her dark hair waving in the desert winds of Tatooine. She scanned the area carefully with her Sith macrobinoculars, and then shifted Bloodfin into high gear, tearing across the endless wastes and sands of this Outer Rim planet.


She knew no one could have been informed about her landing and activity on this forsaken planet, since Darth Maul's old craft had a secret and deadly cloaking device, like Nili's speeder. Palpatine had not wasted his gifts to the most comely female Sith who had ever lived, and she did really like her job as a secret enforcer of his evil will and his Empire.


***


Preliminary Interlude Two: Nili's Early Formations 18 BBY [Early Imperial Period, eighteen years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope]


Nili fell in love with a Hutt at an early age, despite being a comely human girl. There was something about his movements, his being, his massive presence and animation that she found admirable. The Hutt was amused when he noticed. The planet was a poor Core world with an Imperial trade embargo, and the Hutt had a taste for cheap nic and spice of various kinds. She was rather young, in her teens, and he would lick her cheek mildly and affectionately with his protruding tongue, and pat her on the head in a pseudo-paternal fashion, as they would hover on his palanquin in some dark alley of the spaceport, or Hutt owned seedy establishment. Sometimes, he would ignore her, as he went and watched exotic Twi'lek shows — sparse as they were in these parts.


One day some corrupt Imperials shot him, and she was alone for a time. She kept a dairy, and memorized some ideas that the Hutt passed on to her. She was troubled for a time, and didn't care for her very mean and critical family. She would sneak from her lessons and chores and watched the movements and listened to the speech of gamblers, drunkards, and the strange exotic healers operating on this marginalized Core World.


Despite the difficult Imperial occupation currently on this planet, she found these mild adventures deeply exhilarating. Once even, she observed a vibroblade fight, and a man lost two fingers. She looked at them for a long time. She missed the Hutt and wanted to ask him about it.


One day, she decided she had enough of boredom and chores, her nagging family, the planet, the corrupt Imperials, and snuck, despite some low-grade security droids, aboard a Corellian freight vessel: Heavy Hauling Lines. The captain was a grizzled Corellian and had a soft-spoken medical officer. They were hauling drinks to wealthy Hutts on Nar Shaddaa, especially some embargo-class fizzyglug for the notorious Zyclan the Hutt, on said spaceport moon above Nal Hutta, the Hutt homeworld.


She hid among the fizzyglug containers and opened and drank some cheap Falleen rotgut, wine, and spice brews, in that order, but only very mildly. She was curious and timed her inebriation, meditating a little. A course of pleasure went through her body as the freighter launched into hyperspace velocities, the hyperdrive whining and vibrating the hull of the rusty heavy ship in odd jerks and movements.


Captain Ahad and Sektor were commenting on their good fortune as the navicomputer chatted in the background. Captain Ahad was glad at having enough solidarity with the Hutt Crime Lords to bypass the dreaded Imperial fleet. Past entanglements with the Imperials had laser-scarred the underside of his freighter heavily.


He was thinking of selling his first mate Sektor to the Brother Knaves, or the Slavers Guild, on the Vertical City — Nar Shaddaa — but didn't tell him just yet.


With her planet now behind her, Nili ate some honey-waffles, she brought along with her, made from the tasty honey of the giant worker bee-like insects her planet was known for; she hated them, but the Falleen wine made it good.


She was eager to explore the rest of the ship to find its secrets, but decided to stay put in the holds for a time.


Preliminary Interlude One: [continued and over]


"Fett, Fett!" exclaimed Kitty Laetitia, a young dancing girl in the employ at the palace.


"Sorry babe, work calls," said Boba Fett and he walked up the ramp to Slave I.


She waved to him and blew him a hot kiss. The suns here really excite the girls thought Boba Fett. Could be worse, he thought.


***


It was night when finally Boba Fett's ship scanners detected a lifeform. Fett felt something in his chest and wondered what this meant. As a determined, cold and hardened professional, he never had premonitions of any kind.


The moons of Tatooine were shining in full glory as Slave I glided gently and gracefully over the surface of the sand dunes billowing sand as it sped to his target, a marvel of galactic technology.


The silence was loud in his ears and the glory of the heavens of the galaxy shined above, as a gentle wind blew softly across the dunes, when he landed and lowered the ramp.


He walked over to the Hutt princesses ,who somehow managed to find themselves by the floating cargo skiff wreckage and were now bickering loudly in Huttese.


Fett felt something again, a sixth sense or something else — like he never felt before. He paused for a second — unsure of himself. He rocketed upward going aerial and scanned the area in infrared, and ordered Slave I's main computer to pick up on any lifeforms long-range.


He wished he brought his remaining Imperial probe droid. He stayed scanning for a few minutes, but nothing appeared on his sensitive tracking grids, except the now loud Hutt princesses, whose foul language carried far into the desert spaces.


"'Taa havethh Prinio, taa havethh' Easy princesses, easy," he said slowly in rough Huttese, as he approached the wreckage of the mashed and downed cargo skiff, "You don't want to call a Krayt Dragon."


***


Bunny was sweeping the middle halls of Jabba the Hutt's palace in tight yellow clothing, and dancing heels. She missed Boba Fett quite a lot and was bored by the recent turn of events; Haash was hassling her quite bit, and she was pleased the snooty and obnoxious Fraya the Hutt princess was missing for a few days now.


***


"Okay, Fraya and madam Bordella, take it easy, girls, you are in safe hands now," said Boba Fett evenly.


Bordella, nudged Boba Fett like a Bantha, and Fraya was still cursing quietly with hatred and tears in her eyes.



Fett was still mildly unnerved when, when he took Fraya's hand and led Fraya up the ramp, along with the other chubby Hutt princess, who had permanent delusions she was a Bantha — she was shivering.


"These Hutts belong to me," said a direct, and pleasant, woman's voice.


Fett had never heard a voice like that.


A flashing red lightsaber ignited and well as another purple one in her left hand. She attached them together into a twin lightsaber and stood holding it with a smile. The female stranger stood about ten standard meters ways from Boba Fett.


Three Sith probe droids swooped suddenly on Boba Fett, who by some miracle or expert reflexes, blasted them into dust with three quick shots. The Hutt princesses screamed and raced up the lowered ramp of Slave I.


Fett blasted off and landed behind Nili, who used a Force push to block his deadly flame gust.


"Do not fight me bounty hunter."


Boba Fett observed her. He was still unnerved — a first. She had such a stunning figure and face, and was positioned in an expert Sith battle twin lightsaber stance beside the ramp facing him. Her eyes narrowed calmly.


"We both know you cannot have me alive, dark sider," he crooned slowly and evenly.


"It is a certainty, fool," she replied.


She Force pushed him into the ramp, as he harpooned her with his wrist fibercord grappling hook. This action tangled them both in the fibercord.


"You pathetic fool!" she cried.


Boba Fett blasted the fibercord with his modified carbine rifle with one shot, and she freed herself with her lightsabers: now two gripped in each hand, as at the start of the melee.


Every laser headshot he sent toward her, she parried expertly with her two Sith lightsabers, as she laughed quietly. Her anger and hate were rising.


One of Boba Fett's wrist rockets exploded at the tip of her purple lightsaber, sending her flying back about five meters into the cold sand.


"Aaaarghhhh!" she yelled, burned a bit, "You will severely pay for that."


Suddenly, his carbine rifle was crushed by the dark side and was useless.


Boba Fett ordered the computer in his ancient Mandalorian helmet to aim Slave I's main guns on her.


She noticed and stood still.


He quickly tossed two stun grenades nearby her, and she dove to the ground like a journeyman Sith adept, but with the grace and luck of an even master of the dark side, to escape the stun blasts, rolling in the sand.


 


Bloodfin roared down toward her prone state suddenly, and she jumped on it as it passed beside her, and she kicked it into highest velocities immediately. Rapidly, she had used a Force push to activate the cloaked speeder where it had been parked nearby.


Now, gorgeous and brilliant blue moonlight shone above as Bloodfin became a dot on the horizon, and then, was gone.


Boba Fett was feeling nervous and combat high. He rocketed into his ship, trying to track her, but could not despite the advanced sensor grids in his armor and Slave I's electronic systems.


He prioritized and then ordered his craft back to Jabba's Palace with the two elder Hutt princesses safely stowed in the ship's holds.


***



"Master, I have failed."


"You gave into your fear. Return to your safe place immediately."


***


The party at Jabba's palace was in full swing, the band was loud and everyone was either drunk or highly stoned on various heady brews, mixes, and galactic substances imported by the some of the best, and worst, smugglers under the Galactic Empire.


Boba Fett was mostly aloof to it all; he was looking at Solo's frozen and contorted face frozen in carbonite. He turned away, and looked mildly at Kitty Laetitia beside him who hadn't noticed he was distracted and kept the steady flow of conversation from her cute and luscious mouth. He kissed her suddenly, and she stopped and breathed deeply, as he did it. Bunny observed them in the shadows, sighing deeply.


"I knew Fetty you were paying attention," Kitty said smiling.


"I'll put you now in my cargo hold," he joked in his slow and steady, slightly harsh, voice, as Kitty Laetitia shivered in delight.


They walked together to Boba Fett's spaceship with his arm gallantly around her.


***


The Gamorrean guards of said palace in the morning were pissed off they had to have kept watch all night sober and alone, so they were taking it out on the cleaning droids and lackeys of Jabba's famous desert abode under the burning twin suns Tatoo I and Tatoo II.


Outside, there was another sandstorm howling viciously, since it was season for them, blasting across the nearby rocks and dunes. Jabba had retired a few hours back to his private quarters. Many among the various beings at Jabba's palace wondered what really went on it there, when Jabba had company or otherwise, however Bib was loyal as ever, so far and didn't talk about the guest lists.


Boba Fett was very angry, but composed himself coolly as usual. His main shooting blaster, his highly and expertly modified carbine — a tool of so many bounties and kills, had been Force crunched by a dangerous adept dark sider, and was slag now.


"Listen Haash, I want to talk to Astel the Jawa about something," he stated to the fat and oily Gran after locating him.


"Okay, Fett I owe you one, the Bantha princess is hauling food as usual in the galleys and kitchens."


"Here is the code for Astel's transmitter, and an old transmitter he used once to get in touch with me — I am sure you will get a favorable reaction," whined Haash slightly, with slightly moist eyes.


***


Preliminary Interlude Two: [continued]


In the pilot's compartment, Captain Ahad looked at Sektor and scratched his beard, "Shall we save a canister, Sektor?"


"The Hutts won't like it, but I could use some of that Falleen rotgut," Sektor remarked casually.


Captain Ahad scratched his belly and replied, "Ah, I won't use the mechanicals; I feel like the exercise."


He headed for storage bay.


Ahad discovered the girl almost right away.


"A stowaway!" he remarked slightly gruffly, "We have traditions for stowaways."


He picked her up by the collar and carried her to Sektor. She found his hands slightly rough and the corridors of the spacecraft hauler, Heavy Hauling Lines, long.


"Sektor, we have an added bonus; the heat will have to wait for another time."


"Clean her up and see if she carrying anything, check for that damned Correlian strain."


"Okay captain," replied Sektor as he studied her comely face.


Sektor took her by hand and lead her to the medical quarter.


"What's your name?" he asked slightly quietly.


"Nili," she almost pronounced it like a curse.


He cleaned her with Bacta fluid, and used a scanner that checked for any somatic abnormalities and contaminable diseases.


"Hmm, quite the metabolism here."


He touched her forehead, and his finger felt suddenly cold for some reason.


"Hmm, my finger feels a little cold, turn around," he commanded and he took a mild sleeping stimulant and injected it into her veins. He opened a bunk and uncovered a blanket.


"Lie down, rest."


She looked at him reflectively, then moved to the bunk and lay prone slowly.


"If you touch any of the panels, the locks won't open and the alarm will sound, and I will cut off a finger, okay?" he looked at her and she nodded slightly.


"Where are we going?" she asked as she was falling asleep.


"Nar Shaddaa."


Sektor left to converse with his captain.


***


Preliminary Interlude Three: [Events during the Return of the Jedi]


It was night. The great Sarlacc was now beyond Boba Fett and so was the blistering day heat of hellish Tatooine. He had climbed out, but just barely.


His ancient Mandalorian armor was ruined very heavily by the digestive juices of the Sarlacc. He had been inside, not deep, for two and a half weeks, until he modified his fibercord grappling harpoon, under great duress and pain, to climb out of the Sarlacc.


He would get Captain Solo and his band; it was just a matter of time.


He clenched his fist, as it shook inadvertently.


***


Present. 5 ABY [Six months after the Battle of Endor and the Fall of the Galactic Empire]


Post-Imperial Mos Eisley was a disadvantaged hellhole waiting to be discovered by no one. Amid the old domes and towers, everyone moved lazily like fleas, or other larger pestilence, on a Bantha, or a fly in Dewback shit, slower and lazier than Mynocks in hibernation.


Traffic and trade were at an all-time low; those who could have gone off planet did so long ago to the Mid Rim, some to give the Republic Alliance a try, others to even more distant corners, and some to the Post-Imperial Core Worlds, still under the various Imperial remnants and orders.


Lander looked amid the slight desert wind from the south to scan for local denizens and to feel hope business in his impound sector improved soon. He was disappointed. His own spacecraft wasn't even space worthy anymore; these days, spare parts were hard to come by, just like good clean water.


"Man, both the Imps and Jabba bought it at the same time, by Zersaw's heavenly balls," he sighed.


Teebo was stoned as usual in the shadows of the alleyway; he was urinating again publically.


I wonder if there is enough juice for the maintenance droid to clean this up, he thought.


The wind picked up a bit again, but with hints, it would rise steadily.


Inside the Mos Eisley Cantina, it was quiet. Captain Grum sat drinking alone, gone were the days he could enjoy a bottle of Alderaanian red. He was in a moderate state of inebriation, which meant for many folks elsewhere in Galaxy and here, at present, heavy.


He just didn't care. He would even to talk to that idiot Captain Ahad if he could, wherever he was in this insanely far-reaching galaxy.


Suddenly, Ahad walked down the stairs into the Cantina. The drunken Captain Grum became wide eyed, and tried to compose himself as quickly he could. He failed. Ahad had noticed his face; Ahad was armed with a blaster pistol on his belt tucked roughly, yet hardly professionally.


"Long time no see Grum; how about I buy you a drink, old timer," said Captain Ahad, sort of slightly grumpily.


"Speak for yourself," answered Captain Grum still mildly wide eyed.


"Come now, old timer, a drink like in the old days," he lifted an old bronze Corellian flask of rotgut. It smelled even nasty when Grum sat beside him and opened the old bronze flask.


"Mind the lead," smiled Captain Ahad, "Just kidding."


Captain Grum placed both hands on the table. Dear Hutt Gods of Hate, has it been that long? He thought perplexed in a drunken stupor and mild shock.


"More than six months since the Imps bought it, and the bloody Republic is dead and gone to slag, like everything else without Palpatine the Un-great," said Grum bitterly.


"Now, now, Grum, I am sure Palpatine had some greatness," Ahad smiled a bit.


Grum scratched the back of his neck; he had a small cunning strap hiding a nasty vibroblade in his tunic's back, near the neck.


"Well, Captain Ahad, I am sure you are great," said Grum slowly with a slight slur.


"Now, now, Captain Grum, I didn't come to fight, business and relaxation, all right?"


"Okay? Ahad?I could use something to cheer me up in this magnificent palace," answered Grum slurring even more.


Captain Ahad put his arm around Captain Grum, who just didn't care anymore, and poured him a hefty drink from the well-worn bronze flask.


"I don't care if there is Womp poison here, Ahad, cheers," he hefted the glass and took a moderate swing.


"Hot Mynocks! That is good!"


"Like an Alderaanian princess's nipple," said Ahad with a nod. He took a swig, or seemed to, directly from the flask.


"Fuck Imperial manners," he added.


"Right," answered Grum.


"Wacha want?" he said, as Ahad clutched him tighter in good drinking comradery.


"I love you man, not like Imp Stormtroopers on a fringe planet, off-duty, mind you, but hey, have you seen Lander, lately?"


"That moron? No, Captain Ahad, I care not to?hic — ."


"Let me begin at the beginning," stated Ahad after another direct swig from the bronze flask.


"The galaxy is now changed: every system wants independence or something, better trade deals, the Old Corporate Sector is full internal dissent and separatist diversification, to use a fancy term, and there is civil war again, this time worse than before, because most of the space routes are down, and every freebooter and anyone armed are preying on those space routes."


"Get to the point? Captain Ahad."


"We need solidarity man!" exclaimed Ahad, "The old walls are gone."


"Gone for good."


***


The local clan of Jawa traders had barely sold anything for two weeks now, and generally speaking, business on Tatooine, and especially on the old spaceport of Mos Eisley, was now at an all-time low for them and almost everybody else. Their looming Sandcrawler was barely running on any power, mostly now on auxiliary power, and the head of the clan feared they would have to sell the Sandcrawler soon for scrap.


In its large shadow, Boba Fett got off from his young Dewback mount and landed on the ground. He now wore makeshift patch armor made from his previous Mandalorian armor and other parts, and he had a spare blaster carbine that he managed to scavenge and find around Jabba's remains, near the Pit of Carkoon, the Sarlacc, from where he crawled out six months ago with the help of his fibercord hook.


He had grimly scavenged and fought his way these last few months and made his way slowly, like a hunted man, to the dangerous and cutthroat Mos Eisley spaceport in hopes of finding passage off system, to locate his missing ship, Slave I.


He felt for a second the old feeling in his chest and wondered if he was in danger again, as the hot desert wind blew against him. He shivered slightly, just ever so slightly.


In deeper nearby shadows, a Sith creature watched him very carefully.


Sleepo had been following and skulking Boba Fett for a long time now, since his days on Nar Shaddaa after he defeated the fringe Sith adept master, Darth Eclectic, a few months before the Empire fell. Sleepo had waited at Mos Eisley to see if the bounty hunter would return from his fall into the Pit of Carkoon. He had been under orders from his Sith master.


It had been six standard months since the Empire was mostly dismantled in most systems so quickly, and now a new civil war raged for supremacy; it seemed to many a galactic citizen that the Republic Alliance had the upper-hand.


Boba Fett knew about these things, it was a master bounty hunter's task to be aware of all his surroundings, near or far. This had not been easy even for Boba Fett in the last six months of gruelling subsistence and grim survival in the deserts and wastes of Tatooine.


***


Nili, of the Post-Imperial Sith, was waiting to hear from the Sith spy creature, Sleepo, about his long reconnaissance in this area. She had seen the aged Captain Ahad a while back, and only her dark side training preventing her from killing him. She would bide her time; she felt something in her core being, not Force-related, something, she had not felt in a little while, or so it seemed.


She had been ordered by her Sith master to stay and hide in the deserts of Tatooine, until certain things shifted and changed, now that there was the current situation of the Republic Alliance versus the Old Imperial remnants. She knew Luke Skywalker could be very dangerous for her, if he would discover and confront her.


She had now come to the semi-rural Mos Eisley to speak to Sleepo, an order from Ars Dangor, on the old Emperor's citadel palace on Byss.


***


"Master, the bounty hunter has survived — and he is here."


"You have done well, Sleepo."


"I live to serve."


"Tell Nili nothing."


"Yes, master."


***


Teebo was pissing again on wall in the alleyway. Lander would be bitching at him again soon enough, no doubt, he thought.


Lander wanted Captain Grum to finally pay the debts from the loans he had given him, and some other shady business, and Teebo was desperate for his usual stim amounts, so he was going to risk getting into trouble from Alexann, the new Republic Alliance mayor based at Mos Eisley. The credits he given to Captain Ahad should make things more worthwhile with this endeavor, or so he thought.


He would have to use a hidden vibroblade. Perhaps poison too, if Lander could spare it.


***


"I love you, Ahad?hic — ," stated Grum now heavily intoxicated.


"I love you too, Grum," said Ahad kissing him on the cheek.


"Eyy!" exclaimed Grum and then burst out laughing.


The Wookies, who were cavorting presently in the corner of the Cantina, barely noticed.


Boba Fett entered the Cantina going down its stairs from the sweltering outside, and the first thing he noticed was the slow paced raucous music and the comely dancing girls.


It had been a six gruelling months since he had been with a woman, alien or otherwise, the longest time, since he had been a teenager. I have other priorities, thought Boba Fett.


Without his usual getup, no recognized him, or so he thought.


He was almost never a drinker, yet this time, he approached the aging bartender and ordered some classy rotgut, with clean ice. The cold liquid refreshed him deeply and cut into him like a vibroblade.


***


"Nili, you must be patient, the battle for the Mid Rim is going in our favor, and you have already failed once with that bounty hunter."


"Yes, my master."


***


Practically no one survived from old Jabba's retinue after the heroic and valiant efforts of Luke Skywalker and his band. The defunct palace was now a home to a bunch of Bantha Cult addicts, who still preyed on the weak in these lawless parts. They still made periodic sacrifices of various sorts, especially to the Sarlacc. However, they really liked Bordella the Hutt princess, who survived, and who still had delusions she was a Bantha in heat.


Bunny also found the Bantha Cult an exciting change of employment; she now had a new lover from their group and converted to the strange desert cult.


***


"Who paid for the last drink, Grum?" said Ahad in his stupor.


"Not?me?" Grum burst out laughing.


"I've got a ship?hic — ."


"So do?hic — I," said Captain Grum, "The?Coruscantian Comet."


"I am only here?hic?because of a bad hyperdrive motivator?I've had to land on Tatooine?and I thought might as well head for the?Cantina?" said Grum slurring slowly.


"You? have?hic?my sympathies," slurred Ahad through feigned the haze in his seemly intoxicated brain.


"I?don't?like the?look of those droids?in the corner," slurred Grum.


"Those are Wookies," said Ahad as quietly as he could, pressing a finger to his lips, "Shhhhhehehe."


"Ahad, buddy, friend, I owe Lander some credits for trying to repair the?bad motivator?on my ship" whispered Grum his arm around Ahad.


Teebo walked down the stairs into the Cantina and threw a vibroblade at Grum's head. It missed, hitting Ahad's shoulder, who screamed, as blood flowed from the wound. Boba Fett, seeing an opportunity, blasted Teebo with one shot. And then another. Teebo's body crashed on a table and lay slumped over. Captain Ahad ran outside, staggering drunkenly and bloodied.


Boba Fett threw a coin to the bartender, as was an old custom in the Cantina to clean-up messes and cadavers. He approached the drunken Captain Grum, who was shocked and stupefied mildly, as adrenalin coursed in his system.


"Can't trust anyone these days," muttered the wizened Grum.


"Captain Grum," crooned Fett; the first time he had spoken in four months, "For saving your life, I want passage to Ord Mantell in the Bright Jewel system."


"Okay, okay? stranger?but I have a bad hyperdrive motivator? hic — ," muttered Grum again.


The weary and disguised Boba Fett nodded, "We shall see."


***


Nili was mildly upset that the Sith spy creature, Sleepo, told her nothing. She was now bitter and angry at her master, Ars Dangor. That old fool wants to keep me away from something, and, like usual, he is withholding information she mused.


It is just a matter of time, before my skills and power grow, she reflected, dressed in a local farmer's wife get up.


She had not had to wear such rags in a long time, she reflected again. She stood concealed in the dark corners near the makeshift marketplace. Looking at the junk there did improve her mood.


She focused and stretched out with her feelings and emotions, letting the valence of her anger and frustration and fear manifest itself. She had such longings. She felt the presence again. It could only be?him.


She opened her eyes and moved forward, walking briskly and in a timed manner to emulate the locals, letting her feelings guide her by the power of the dark side of the Force.


These last few standard months, she had rigorously practiced ancient Sith meditations and mental exercises in the desolate places of the desert, hiding from the Rebel Alliance until her master, Ars Dangor, had contacted her directly.


Now, she was eager for some real action and revenge. She let the Force guide her to her query now.


***


Boba Fett sat beside captain Grum, who ate harsh gruel to sober up. Boba Fett scanned the area and looked around a bit. The infrared scanner in his old, and now makeshift and modified, helmet was long gone and busted hard.


The Wookies were now drunk and laughing and arm wrestling.


Nili entered the Cantina hooded; she wore dark pigment and with her hair tied back. She looked like a proper local matron of some moisture famer or trader. Her weapons were hidden away: the lightsabers that could become one. She noticed the now drunken Wookies in the corner and forced herself to supress a killing urge. She had a bitter history of conflict with Wookies.


He is here, she thought. I sense him.


She walked down the stairs and sat in an empty stall, where a certain group long ago had met for the first time. A waiter brought her something, and placed it on her table.


There was no band, but a raunchy holoband played, with heavy static in the background, a raucous old Imperial song. The local dancers had finished their shift, and some of them were hanging around the Wookies now.


She kind of liked the old music. Then, she noticed him, and she noticed he was looking at her. So this is what happened to the bounty hunter scum, my second failure, ever. He looks like he fell into the Pits of Zersaw, the Ancient Hutt Prophet who started a whacky galactic religion, eons ago.


In some ways, she was a perfectionist and an idealist. She was also trained in the anatomy and physiology of various species, not just human, to help make her more proficient in the Sith Order's techniques of torture and intimidation.


She took a drink of her drink and sported a soft giggle. She knew he was looking at her at the corner of his eyes. She sensed and noticed he was breathing heavier.


Must be the booze in him, she thought. She used a dark side trick to heal herself of any alcohol inebriation.


She would have him now. He would not walk out of the Cantina alive. The holoband picked up and the static was seemingly gone, for now.


***


"She has spotted him inside the Cantina, my master."


"I see Sleepo, thank you."


"I live only to serve master."


***


Amwok, an Ewok gunner and freebooter, was returning to the Cantina to see Captain Grum; Amwok was first mate on his ship and a personal friend. Amwok was in good spirits; she had found a hyperdrive motivator for the Coruscantian Comet — she cunningly, despite some old security droids, broke into Lander's warehouse. She hated this place of savages and wanted to have a party on Endor, like when the Empire fell.


"Wubnub!"


She carried her old Imperial blaster openly. The hyperdrive motivator was hidden in her leather backpack.


***


Nili had arrived and was stuck on Tatooine for a while now.


Under Imperial orders from Ars Dangor, she had failed to try to gain the Hutt princesses, one of whom she caused to crash in the cargo skiff by using her talents in the dark side of Force, suggesting to the pilots to crash. The old Emperor had wanted to use the princesses to cause some kind of rift between the Hutt clans on Nal Hutta and Nar Shaddaa. The exact reason for this was still unexplained to her, but she suspected it had something to do with both Sleepo and Boba Fett.


She had been blatantly ordered to kill Boba Fett, and she bitterly resented that a mere bounty hunter stood up against her formidable powers and skills.


Now, she thought, it had been a long time, Boba Fett; I have meditated long and hard on you and this dung-filled galaxy.


Boba Fett knew he was in some danger. He sensed it somehow, but could not quite place it exactly. He stood up suddenly, startling the still depressed and miserable Captain Grum.


One of the drunken Wookies approached Nili. She had been preoccupied and was mildly surprised. He sat beside her and put his arm around her. He suspected she was looking for action.


She could not resist the killing urge and like some Galactic Fury of legend and myth, she swept off the male Wookie's head with her flashing purple lightsaber igniting it in mid swipe. His cauterized head rolled on the ground.


All shit broke loose — Dewback, or otherwise.


Laser fire from the Wookie bowcasters flew fast and deadly toward Nili, who parried all of the blaster bolts with expert ease. She was now mildly berserk and wanted to kill them all badly. Soon limbs and bodies flew. Now her rage had magnified.


The Wookies were not more, cut up by her lightsabers or scattered by the power of dark side of the Force. The bartender was dead. The dancers were screaming. Other smugglers and criminal types were being trashed into smaller segments.


Amwok entered the Cantina, saw the action, and threw a flare stun grenade toward the busy Nili who failed to notice. Upon detonation, it rang against the walls of the Mos Eisley Cantina.


Amwok, Captain Grum, and Boba Fett had raced outside as fast as they could, they were all breathing heavily.


Boba Fett was racing with the lagging Grum. He knew he was in deep trouble again.


Seconds after, Republic Alliance armed troops entered the area. They would not survive this deadly Sith adept, but unbeknownst to them, they gave their lives so that this small and unlikely band could escape.


Their screams and laser fire rang to the people outside the Cantina; they screamed for a long time.


***


Nili stood in the near-endless desert of the Jundland Wastes, far from any civilization. It was now night. She had come to love this place and felt refreshed; the stars above and the cool soft wind felt welcoming.


"Fool! I renounce the Sith!" she told her master, Ars Dangor, through an intragalactic message.


Now, she would get even with Boba Fett anyway she could, and along with her former master.


She had left not a single witness in the Mos Eisley spaceport; she had now given up the name, Darth Annihilator, forever.


Chapter II ? "Above Ord Mantell and Doctor Robotixx"


"The galaxy now burns with dearth, hatred, and glee; old powers and orders are on the verge of collapse, a new dawn, a new nightmare. Who shall be sifted, who shall triumph, and who shall sit on Palpatine's old throne? A kind of death awaits the eager and the foolhardy; the vats of life are aflame, and soon their sparks shall ignite a great conflagration, the likes of which have never been seen."


--Fynn the Mystic, the Chronicles of Hate.


"You fell into what!? Ye Hutt Gods of Hate!" exclaimed Captain Grum aboard the Coruscantian Comet, a wreck of a spaceship, but with one battery of turbolasers, not fully charged currently.


"Please do shut up, Captain Grum," replied the fatigued Boba Fett.


"Never again," Fett said through clenched teeth, knowing he was in the most difficult part of his life, a major setback.


"Indeed," said Grum finally.


"Wubnub," said Amwok with her feet propped against the co-pilot's console.


"Can we get Captain Ahad, Fett?" asked Grum.


"I am not going out of my way for you, Grum."


"The Imperials are now going batshit crazy with their counteroffensive," Boba Fett added as a final note.


***


The Star Destroyer the August Regime exited hyperspace with her small fleet of veteran crew and upgraded Imperial five other Star Destroyers. Admiral Bablon smiled and knew the spies the remenant Imperials had payed-off with harsh taxes and using old Rebel tactics of hit and run from hyperspace, would pay off now. The Republic Alliance's — parked and in orbit around a marginal Mid Rim world — small fleet was caught off guard and did not have time to raise deflector shields, and thus Galactic history repeated itself to some degree.


After a massive concentrated barrage of deadly green laser fire from the marauding Imperial fleet, the crew of this Republic Alliance fleet were gone.


News of the damage hit the new Post-Imperial HoloNet fast.


***


The Coruscantian Comet came out of light speed and hyperspace incredibly quickly — a slight malfunction of the navicomputer. The ship jostled, once or twice, now in normal space.


Above Ord Mantell, a junk planet of many secrets, there was a "Tubeworld" of many satellites, space junk, broken and salvaged space station parts from both the old Republic and Imperial eras fused into a giant network for sparse and ratty living conditions. It was large and massive, and its inhabitants, various criminal lowlifes and common refugees from around the galaxy, lived on solar power, recycled urine, and sometimes, even spacerats.


It was rather dangerous there. It was now also crowded from various migrations from across distant galactic corners, which added to the peril.


Boba Fett surmised that Astel the Jawa had taken his old ship, Slave I, to this sector and system, in case something would happen to Boba Fett. It was rumoured that Astel, a Jawa and a rather wealthy spacefaring freebooter, had a secret base somewhere around here, either on the surface of Ord Mantell below, or hidden deep within this Tubeworld wayfaring and refugee station.


Based on their dealings in the past, for Astel, salvaging the fearsome bounty hunter's ship would have had sentimental value, analyzed Boba Fett, in the best concrete terms he could.


The word and rumor around the old palace had been that Jabba the Hutt and Astel had done frequent business together, mostly in profiteering and in some black market goods.


He knew, by a guest list at Jabba's old palace that he had scanned when Haash was busy, when he was there a few days before he fought Captain Solo and his friends that had dispatched him into the Sarlaac, that Astel had been away somewhere during the subsequent events of the Hutt Crime Lord's demise.


It would be hard to get his ship again, but it was a feasible recovery. Astel had a romantic crush on Boba Fett, which Fett had known about for a while now.


This time Boba Fett would go and hunt and have his total vengeance by mostly pure instinct.


***


Captain Grum was bemoaning the heavy entrance tolls to the tight and ramshackle space station loudly, as Boba Fett, walking beside him, ignored him. Amwok hated the stifling, badly recycled air; she noted the pale complexions of the locals in their ragtag clothing. Boba Fett was barely armed and his fancy gizmos and lethal arsenal in his ancient helmet and armor — which survived somewhat his two and a half week stint in the belly of the Pit of Carkoon — were now dysfunctional and mostly wrecked, like his old jetpack.


He knew he would have to be extremely patient and cool, more than even usual, despite his needs, since the danger, aboard this ratty, ancient, and decrepit Tubeworld, was considerable.


For now they had safe passage in Tubeworld since they paid their dues — an exorbitant hundred old Imperial credits.


Amwok pointed to a local water seller, and indicated she was thirsty.


"No, Amwy," said Grum, "We have better liquid on the Comet."


"Surely you jest, Captain Grum," crooned bitterly Boba Fett.


"How is your luck, Boba Fett? Maybe we can play a card game with the locals to spruce up our condition," asked Grum, mopping his sweaty gray hair.


"Not with my latest luck, Captain Grum," said Boba Fett while scanning the environment and beggarly crowds slowly, and with a practiced perception for any indirect or direct dangers.


"Yeah, that is what I thought, Boba Fett," Grum bemoaned to the man who probably saved his life on Tatooine.


"You are thirsty, aren't you, Captain Grum?" Boba Fett tossed the slightly overweight man a credit chit, "I heard once they have good Imperial brews stashed somewhere around here; you and your furry friend might like listen to some locals and collect information."


"Your best idea so far," nodded Grum with a minor salute, at which, he, and his first mate, left for some dimly lit neon-advertised bars and pubs — such as they were around here.


Boba Fett didn't tell him that liquids on Tubeworld were mostly all recycled.


Boba Fett then activated the old transmitter Haash had given him so many months ago at Jabba's palace on Tatooine, and waited for a response while doing a quick recon of this side of Tubeworld. Conversing with the locals here would be a total waste of time.


So far, Boba Fett was glad no one had recognized him, and he began to feel calmer and at ease with the numerous, odd, and penniless galactic riffraff that surrounded him as he walked in a brisk or slow pace studying the locale.


After a standard hour or so, he was still walking and waiting for Astel to send him a message or a signal.


He really had no way, just right now, to get better gear, and therefore, he decided to wait for Astel to communicate with him. He decided to get something to eat and try to look nondescript.


***


"That's the best ratburger this side of the Pitt!" exclaimed the young red-headed hobo seller.


Amwok snubbed him with a happy, "Wubnub," as she pinched her nose in disdain at the whole operation and the seller dressed in galactic rags — who was selling grilled ratburgers through a barely functional cuisine droid running marginally on small amounts of solar power.


"C'mon Amwok, we can probably buy a beer here, not Imperial class, but maybe, something nice," he said smacking his lips, as he entered a barely lit place, where above, a small green and pink neon sign advertised this establishment as the 'The Rat Hole'.


Inside, sitting at the bar, was a tall black human man with a good physique, sporting numerous and exotic vibroblades and tattoos on his person; he had a few blasters tucked away, here and there, as well.


Despite the two newcomers into the Rat Hole proper barely making any noise, he turned and examined them, and then ignored them with a sip of his light reddish drink. He took out some a strange leaf and crushed it into his drink.


"How about some music barkeep!" he voiced to the aging and bearded portly bartender, who took moved quickly to start to the holoband. The broken computer of this bar could only play three songs on loop.


"My guests approach!" he suddenly beckoned to Grum and Amwok — who observed him rather curiously.


Great, thought Grum, a spacefighter or freebooter of some kind, slumming from Tanga-Six, a dangerous jungle planet.


The tall black man's voice was harsh and raspy, with a tinge of a feminine and excitable trace.


"I am a semiotic interlocutor," he said slowly, sporting a grin of perfect milky white teeth.


"Have you heard of the Nemesis's Voice?" he asked with a large smile as they approached carefully.


Amwok and Captain Grum just stared at each other.


"Strider Cognitive at your service!" he said with a flourish.


Great, probably another bounty hunter, thought Grum.


"The Nemesis is very fast," said Strider Cognitive, and tossed a blaster pistol and caught it as it spun, quickly and expertly in a firing grip.


"Come, my guests?have a drink?in?the Rat Cell," he said softly and grimaced rather evilly.


Three burly armed men entered the Rat Hole drinking hole, and headed quickly to the sitting Strider Cognitive. He had owed them money for some nasty and shady business on Tubeworld.


He flipped one of his blaster pistols, and shot all three men dead with three quick red blasts to their torsos, and twirled his gun again, as he stood now with his tall tattooed frame upright.


He would later have to pay the Brother Knaves, for the bodies and his debts, who owned the Rat Hole — like they did, secretly, Tubeworld. Strider had been ambidextrous since early age, and he had seen no need to use his right hand just now.


Amwok had hidden under a table, while Grum stared wild eyed. He had almost urinated himself, again.


Strider Cognitive took another sip of his light reddish drink, and beckoned the two journeymen smugglers to approach.


"Are you two looking for passage from this? lovely planetoid?somewhere?" he asked briefly.


Amwok shook her head.


"I like your spirit, little one, of fallen times," he smiled flashing his teeth.


"Oh, by the Hutt Gods of Hate, I miss the old guild," he whispered evenly.



"Someday, IG?88, I'll get you good," he laughed in an almost feminine way, which was sometimes his personal style.


"A complete decimation of the interlopers on my mercantile interests," Strider Cognitive crushed another leaf into his reddish drink and took a small even sip.


"Go away now, you two, Strider must find some hard credits in these forsaken times," he mused to them.


Grum and Amwok sat themselves in a far corner and ordered some Corellian white ale, recycled unbeknownst to them. Grum was soon in his cups, and Amwok decided to sneak off, soon after, to do a major personal recon.


***


Boba Fett had no direct reply to Haash's old transmitter that had supposedly sent a signal to Astel the Jawa, and he double-checked the code Haash had given him. If the Jawa freebooter was in this system, the Bright Jewel system — but just then, Boba Fett ascertained that there was a homing signal that was being sent to the transmitter at present, from the surface of Ord Mantell below near the periphery of No Man's Land Junkyard.


He sighed slightly. Going to the "junk planet" was not what he had in mind, considering his bare gear and scavenged marginal resources.


He would have to make planetfall to that location. He decided he would have to hire a local to prevent word getting around. There was enough traffic and congestion on Tubeworld to make him practically disappear from preying eyes. Astel was wise to base himself in the Bright Jewel system.


Hidden to the best of his ability in nearby piles of junk, Sleepo the Sith creature observed him slowly.


***


Captain Ahad arrived on Tubeworld's lateral spaceport about the same time as the dark side user Nili; they landed on opposite ends of this multilevel, make-shift space station; he on the eastern side, and she on western.


After customs, and some hard haggling, Ahad headed for his favorite drinking bar here, the Rat Hole.


On the opposite side of the fringe of giant Tubeworld, Nili disguised herself as a drifter, dressing in the worst galactic rags she could find.


After she paid customs, she left her starship with only her red Sith lightsaber hidden by a strap on her hip. There was a very important personal reason for her why she had some to Tubeworld that did not really involve any recent events. She was simply hungry for more Sith power and lore. And this dump was the starting point.


***


Boba Fett walked briskly into the Rat Hole looking for Captain Grum. He saw Grum in the shadowy corner, but ignored the inebriated and aging smuggler and gambler, for now. Strider Cognitive was still sitting and drinking at the bar. He looked at the disguised Boba Fett and shifted slightly. He suddenly felt uneasy.


"I am looking for passage to the main planet below," said Boba Fett, not missing a beat, as he approached Strider Cognitive, who smiled suddenly.


"Nemesis's Voice is with me, and the center of being," he whispered in an almost litany.


"How much stranger?" asked Boba Fett using his best mimicry voice — a lower one than his usual soft and menacing croons.


"A brief passage, eh stranger?" motioned Strider Cognitive for Boba Fett to approach a bit closer.


"What sector?" he asked, when the disguised Boba Fett, in his old torn-up armor stood beside him by the bar.


"It is the periphery of a place called, No Man's Land Junkyard, on Ord Mantell," answered Boba Fett through his broken helmet, disguised as such, and partially rebuilt using scavenged, stolen, raided, mugged and bought, tools and gear from his time on Tatooine, after being almost devoured alive by the ever-hungry Sarlacc.


"Aa, the Hovel Zone?ssstranger?I would require two hundred and seventy galactic credits for that."


"Sir?I have only two hundred?" answered Boba Fett with a faked quivering voice.


Strider flashed his milky white teeth and grinned broadly.


"Ammm?local trouble no doubt."


"I am an unemployed scout, and I have not seen some of my family for a while now — now that the routes are mostly down," said Boba Fett in a softer, slightly more humble and slower still, voice.


"Laconic in kind?aren't thou?" said Strider.


Fett nodded in his best acting quick nod.


He slowly handed Strider Cognitive an old Imperial chip that was worth two hundred galactic credits currently.


"In three standard hours, is that possible, sir?"


"As you wish?scout," said Strider, as he took a sip, and eyed Boba Fett, who slowly and somewhat clumsily left the Rat Hole.


***


Much later, Boba Fett parted ways with Captain Grum and his Ewok first mate Amwok. Grum was too drunk to care. Amwok had robbed quite a few locals on her recon, and thus he wanted Boba Fett gone, so Fett wouldn't be an economic burden to him.


Boba Fett headed to rendezvous with Captain Strider Cognitive for passage to the periphery of No Man's Land Junkyard on the surface of Ord Mantell.


***


Meanwhile, Nili the dark side user felt odd again; she noted it must the shitty air here. The worst she ever smelled. The Empire should have cleaned up this place up long ago. I don't want to think about the Empire, she then thought. For some reason, this place reminded her a bit of her old homeworld in the Galactic Core.


She had come to this forsaken place to look for general, or specific, information about the planet of Ord Mantell, and the Bright Jewel system: old Jedi hideouts that were said to be used there during the beginnings of the Empire and even in ancient and remote times. She was now looking for any possible Jedi Holocrons, or fragments, which had treatises on technical precision of a type of Force meditation she practiced — by directly focusing on the energy of the living numinous Force under certain altered states of consciousness to drain it.


She had had seen certain clues in her Force visions during her six month dedicated Sith meditations in the barren deserts of sweltering Tatooine, before the massacre she caused at the Mos Eisley Cantina.


There was an ancient rumor among the Sith, that even one of their bitterest enemies in the Second Galactic Civil War — when the Sith of Light tied their grim war with the destructive Jedi Despoilers two thousand years before the Galactic Empire — a Jedi Despoiler Master Kwan had lived in a secret Jedi hideout somewhere on the surface of Ord Mantell during that time, where he had channeled the energies of the Force to enervate living beings of living sustenance and energy. She wanted such secret knowledge for her personal powers and skills, and eventual showdown with Ars Dangor, the Sith Dark Lord, and old pupil of the now deceased Emperor Palpatine, who was in the Emperor's old citadel on the hidden planet of Byss, deep in the Imperial Galactic Core.


"If I run into Boba Fett here in this?Tubeworld," she thought to herself.


Like her, she knew he was a fearsome opponent, but she had lost his galactic scent, so to speak.


There was no point here in trying to interact with the local population here; they were the most marginal of all social beings in the new Republic Alliance — hence they were dangerous. She knew she was armed and trained as necessary for any dangerous contingency that she could perceive would manifest itself here.



Above her now, near the western spaceport entries of Tubeworld where her spacecraft was parked, space traffic and hovering droids of all kinds raced in high velocities with steady whines and frequent vibrations that reverberated on this floor of the makeshift interstellar space station, as she walked slowly in her sordid rags.


Around her, she could hear the babel chatter of odd droids, some decrepit and some shiny, and also the strange languages of space-faring — or even hobo — aliens. She observed a large amount of rough haggling over junk and resources. The smell of the crowds, the rough stale air, and the maze-like haphazard construction of it all, disappointed and angered her slightly.


There were even a few small open fire grills and thermopans that warmed rank meats and vegetables from near and distant dark corners, amid this labyrinth of chaotically mashed and fused galactic space junk and space parts.


When a grim-faced Wookie, with only one eye, bumped her, she ignored him, and focused on her mission, using a quick Sith mind trick on the Wookie. She reached out to the dark side of the Force and implanted a quick thought that he needed to go and urinate at the nearest wall.


She quickly moved into an alleyway that was relatively free of space scum, and she came to a free computer terminal for interfacing the Post-Imperial HoloNet, and placed a credit chit into the slot. She was bathed in deep cool shadows there. She had sensed no danger here.


As she stood there, she reached out with her feelings and strong will and took organized mental and somatic steps to fall into a small dark side trance, through a practiced breathing technique. She had come here to lessen her aura signature of reaching out to, and in, the Force.


Soon, she had altered her state of consciousness and awareness in a mysterious Sith trance.


She let the dark side energies of the Force guide her fingers and her mind, as she reached an altered state of thinking and imaging in her Sith-trained and Sith-focused mind. She then slowly linked to the Post-Imperial HoloNet using her own scanning device, an old Sith thinktablet with multifunction grid displays.


Barely tracking, or knowing what she was typing or doing, through her dark side trance, she was nevertheless slightly aware and listening for any hasty movements or dangers she felt in the background.


In this symbiosis with the Force, she searched the Post-Imperial HoloNet network records for a place of continental-sized piles of space junk called No Man's Land Junkyard on Ord Mantell below.


Not so long ago, she had seen visions of it, when she had meditated in the deserts of Tatooine in the lone nights among the sand dunes, in her mind's eye, of a supposedly ancient Jedi cave system complex hidden beneath one of the natural hills or mountains in that sprawling dump area.


She had read about such a secret Jedi cave system in old Jedi Holocrons — when she was first apprenticed into the Sith Order by a very strange twist of fortune.


In the old Holocrons, it was conveyed that one of the cave system's appellations was referred to as Lan Dereni, a rumoured place of Jedi hideouts during the Jedi purge under the Galactic Empire, and also an ancient secret place of Jedi meditation before this, in remote times, where Master Kwan was once thought to seek shelter from the Sith of Light, for an extended time, to perfect his Jedi Despoiler methodology.


For some reason, she felt some kind of connection to this individual, who had been dead for two millennia.


In her deep, but not ultra-profound, dark side trance, she was now partially guided by the Force, as she typed and commanded and searched the Sith thinktablet for various topographical features, she had seen in her desert visions on Tatooine.


After prolonged and taxing concentrated effort, she was sweating profusely, and her organic and conceptual mind was swirling with strange and powerful dark side energies.


She thought she found a chain of hills and mountains that could be the current possible location of Lan Dereni. It was located on the periphery of No Man's Land Junkyard, as it showed on her precise electronic Sith thinktablet's grids and markers.


She had almost passed out and collapsed. She felt inexplicably cold suddenly, like her body had undergone necrosis.


She slowly used her aura to attune out of her Sith trance, and booked off the Post-Imperial HoloNet, and then paused to catch her breath. She was shivering now.


She then quickly left the area to return to her spacecraft, Darth Maul's old cloaking Sith Infiltrator — named the Scimitar.


Her self-initiated powerful dark side trance had drained her body energy considerably. She let her instincts guide her back her to her ship, since she was almost walking mildly in a kind of cold delirium on Tubeworld, yet she making her way back to her deadly spaceship with the total assurance of a sleepwalker. As she had walked, the figures around her seemed blurry and totally insignificant.


After a not a prolonged time, and uneventfully, she entered the parked Scimitar amid many interlocking droids and grids from nearby areas and ships. Sealed in the ship's circular cockpit, she soon came to her normal state of mind. She knew she had discovered something, the cool sensation of her Force aura wrapped around her. She wanted to kill again and soon.


***


Soon, the Scimitar exited the heavy traffic of the run-down space station of junk parts and derelicts. As she cleared space between the Sith Infiltrator craft and Tubeworld, she noticed and felt some unspecified sensitivity toward something going down a similar line of planetfall trajectory and orbital decent to Ord Mantell's surface.


It was a surprisingly a deadly looking ship.


He? is down there? in that ship, she thought, I feel it. She quickly plotted an intercept course for the other craft.


Strider Cognitive did not know why he suddenly decided to raise his deflector shields, that protected the hull from laser fire on his cunningly and highly-modified spacecraft, named the Nemesis's Voice.


 


He sometimes let the spirit of the craft guide his instincts and choices. It was a personal habit that had worked for him in the past.


Boba Fett was sitting alone somewhat nervously in the passenger's section of the Nemesis's Voice, near the crammed galley. As they began to make planetfall, he had felt?her presence...again.


Because the pilots of the two ships had momentarily, yet significantly, lost their focus and piloting control by esoteric inattention — and since on both ships the advanced warning systems for incoming objects had been shut off by personal choice — and since both pilots heavily relied on their personal instincts at this moment, suddenly, a severe shower of deadly satellite junk in orbit around Ord Mantell sprayed both ships head on at insane velocities, and tore at their respective hulls, damaging their structures and delicate internal systems.


The Scimitar, Darth Maul's old ship piloted by Nili, lost total power to its sublight engines and half of its power to landing repulsors immediately, while the Nemesis's Voice suffered a collision and a critical bash on the top of the spacecraft's hull, at which caused latter ship to lose all navigational and computer control.


After tearing through the atmosphere of the junk planet, the Scimitar soon disappeared over the horizon beyond the massive hills of space junk somewhere on the surface of Ord Mantell.


Boba Fett, as the ship that he was on plummeted down, ejected out of the Nemesis's Voice in an escape pod that soon delivered him safely on the edge of the periphery of No Man's Land Junkyard, yet not quite exactly at that location.


Soon after, Strider Cognitive's damaged craft, after a rocky descending planetfall, crashed somewhere in the middle of the mountains of space junk, trash and rubbish near the central position of gargantuan No Man's Land Junkyard on the surface of this planet.


***


Preliminary Interlude Two: [continued]


The Heavy Hauling Lines, a Corellian light freighter renamed by Captain Ahad, entered the heavy space traffic of around the Smuggler's Moon above Nal Hutta, the Hutt homeworld. Captain Ahad was glad to have made his smuggling trip to Nar Shaddaa in the Y'toub system. He had just polished off some galley food, as the navicomputer did all the work and planned a steady course to the Corellian district of Nar Shaddaa. It was a popular trading center of all types with some of the lesser Hutt Crime Clans.


The ship made its way past the defunct shields of the Smuggler's Moon and cleared the quick customs scan. Ahad thanked all the known Hutt Gods, to be not selected for a random boarding inspection by the local Imperial forces.


Nili was alone in the medical quarter looking at its various features, trying intently to make sense of it all. She didn't like the strange Bacta tank odour, which was new to her. It was dark in here, and she liked it.


She wondered what Sektor had said about her metabolism. She decided she would have to find out one day. She then noticed tremors in the space freighter as it was making orbital planetfall. She wanted to see the new planet.


The ship cruised steadily through the various protruding towers and landed on one of the lower platforms in the Corellian district. Captain Ahad and Sektor climbed down the landing pad, as two hauling droids unloaded the drink canisters. Ahad was informed that one of Zyclan the Hutt's cousins was in the vicinity and wanted to come and inspect the new delivery.


Zyate the Hutt looked bored as he was brought into their presence, his tail twitching in lazy loops. His big bright eyes focused on the pair. For a change of pace, he decided to speak in Basic rather in Huttese.


"So you've made another valiant run, Captain Ahad," Zyate began.


"Yes, noble Hutt lordling, the best this time I assure you, the best, we've — ," Captain Ahad gestured toward the canisters.


"Oh, you brought illegal fizzyglug, I see; those are Tatooine markers on the canisters, no Ahad?" the Hutt lordling scratched one of his teeth with his large thumb.


"No, no, noble Hutt lordling; these are from near the Coruscant grid; the canisters, yes, are from Tatooine," Ahad took a step forward.


"I am a bit too lazy to summon my taster right about now, Ahad, so I would like a light?sip of this rare fizzyglug from the Coruscant?grid," motioned the Hutt lightly with his fingers.


"That is not the custom lordling Zyate, not the tradition; why the rumors among my — ," began the recently arrived captain.


"Fine, Ahad, the deals off; I am sure the Brother Knaves or the Wookie clans would be interested in such a rare prize, no?" retorted Zyate lazily.


"It is not the space tradition, but — ," he motioned Sektor to open one fizzyglug canister. The liquid hissed lightly as it filled a cup that was brought to the bulky Hutt lordling. The Hutt drank lazily.


"Smack, smack?it is not from Coruscant grid, but?smack, smack, I like it, smack, smack," he took another sip, then another light sip, and then reached for the large canister and quaffed it dry.


"Mmm, takes me back to the Pit; Zyclan's been so irritable lately," said the Hutt lordling rubbing his temples.


"Zyclan's always been irritable lor — ," Captain Ahad began to reply.


"How would you like a hole in your stomach Ahad? Or maybe I can carve the lines and features of your junk freighter on your stomach, mmm?"


"May the Pits be always good to you lordling; may you live as long as a Krayt Dragon; may — ," Ahad was bowing now.


"Silence, Peers pay them," he indicated to one his lackeys, and with that the Hutt lordling began to leave the landing platform.


"Oh, I've written some commentaries on local politics, you should read them, Ahad," added the Hutt lordling.


"I will lordling; I will," resonated Captain Ahad.


"Oh yes, IG-88 wants to talk to you," the Hutt moved his hand a bit.


"That flaky droid bounty hunter? What does he want?" thought Ahad.


***


It was still dark in the medical holds, when Nili heard Captain Ahad and Sektor talking nearby.


"She is probably sleeping," Sektor spoke dryly.


"Never mind medical hand; I have to think what this bounty hunter droid wants; do we have any log notes in the computer on him?" asked Ahad.


"I have never heard of IG-88, captain, maybe he is new to their guild," answered the medical officer.


"I seem to remember that this IG-88 pissed off some Brother Knaves on Tanga-Six once, or some other jungle planet, in the Outer Rim; hmm, listen I have an idea — ."


"Yeah, I know, the Wookies," said Sektor quietly.


"Yes, the Wookies," Ahad scratching his nose.


They walked directly into the medical area and the lights activated.


***


Present. [continued]


Admiral Junie had won the first round for the Battle of Coruscant. The Rebel Alliance fleets had been held back, for now.


She was in her private quarters on Coruscant high in one of the higher towers of the old Imperial capital.


Above her tower, two of Coruscant's moons glowed fiercely in the dying light of the setting sun. She had loved such grand spectacles. The colors on the horizon were indeed vibrant and showy.


She could almost smell the fear and terror of the citizenry below. Now, they are missing Palpatine, she chuckled. She liked the direct order and imperium of martial law.


The facially-scarred admiral was a daring and resourceful individual. She was a woman of high command.


She decided to contact her advisor, Ars Dangor, on Byss, and soon, a secret HoloNet link was made to him.


He materialized in her chambers before her, cloaked in a dark robe like his old master, Palpatine.


"Admiral Junie. What are the tidings of war?


"They are licking their wounds," smiled Junie.


"That is good, but I have a felt a tremor in the Force, something in the Mid Rim, something that could be dangerous to us both."


"Esoteric dallying, that is all I ever hear from you, Ars Dangor."


"You must be patient Admiral, even Sheev Palpatine bided his time until it was ripe for open Imperium."


"Remember the lessons of his downfall, Admiral Junie," advised the cloaked man.


"So?"


"Send Admiral Bablon to the Bright Jewel system until I order her again," he stated grimly.


"Oh, you must be afraid, Dangor," smiled the head admiral of the remnants of the old Imperial Navy.


"I also have surprise for the Rebel scum when they attack Coruscant again," he chuckled.


"It had better work Dangor," admiral Junie lifted a finger.


"It will," he hissed.


***


An Excerpt of Fynn the Mystic: 5ABY [present]


"Palpatine never claimed the 'Galactic Humans' were superior. I challenge anyone, or droid, for that matter, to find such a statement by him. The New Order promoted the idea of unity, within a Galactic Empire. That is a united people, of admitted mixed stock, with a central species, and a cultural ideal. Imperial and Republic Coruscant always had been a place for diverse peoples, who idolized the Galactic Human minority. The Republic Alliance, run by powerful senators, then and now, believe they are 'Chosen', and they like all, or almost all, rulers and leaders have zero regard for anyone. Thus, they hate any planet or planets who 'find themselves', and their own real culture, and their real pride of heritage, and their own 'psychology of comfort'. My havens are: Palpatine's greatest allies, who were the Corellians and the Neimodiens, and the powerful Imperial Navy contingents, and the old, now nearly fallen, efficient and cutthroat Corporate Galactic Sector.


--Fynn the Mystic, the Grim Ways of Power.


***


Present. [continued].


Captain Grum was now in good spirits, his body had developed a liking to most of the local recycled ales and beers, and he was winning another Sabacc game of seventy-six cards. He had already quadrupled the money his Ewok friend had gathered for him, unbeknownst to some of locals that were now penniless.


She was left to her own devices, as Grum played.


Captain Ahad had entered the Rat Hole where Captain Grum was winning the Sabacc game with multiple players. Ahad felt his blood grow cool when he spotted Grum. He was an old man who cared to not have further trouble, currently speaking.


Grum was quite drunk and spotted Captain Ahad.


"You old bastard, get over here! I want to wager that I can beat you in a deck and for the prize we put up our ships, my Comet versus your Heavy Hauling Lines freighter."


"You must be joking?" said Captain Ahad.


"Ahad you old bastard, show some balls, man."


The other players, an aging Wookie, a gaunt Gran, and a strange fellow with a cybernetic hand, looked at Ahad, who then sat down, and joined them.


After an hour of heavy and grim drinking, nic inhalation, hosiri tablets, and Spice brews and mixes, provided and shared by the various members, and imbibed by personal choice and taste, Captain Grum was holding a large pile of galactic credits. Captain Ahad suddenly bolted for the door, cursing Grum.


"I'll get you Grum, GRUM!!"


The strange fellow with the cybernetic hand now lifted said hand and motioned to Grum.


"Let that iddiott go Grum, I have a?proposition for?you."


Chapter III ? "Hellish Light"




"The war is now ablaze; the great threshing floor; galactic strife. The chaff burns and crackles in the steady tides of flame."


--Fynn the Mystic, the Chronicles of Hate.


"What do you mean a proposition?hic — ," asked Grum reaching for another Spice brew.


And suddenly he fell slumped over on the Sabacc table by his pile of hard-won credit chits, knocked out by the synthetic stimulant that Dr. Robotixx, who was now laughing with a very strong Alderaanian accent, had just had the gaunt Gran administer to Grum's previous drink which Captain Grum had just seconds ago swallowed in one adventurous gulp.


"With his gambling brain, I shall make the most perfect gambling droid! Oh, I promise Captain Grum, I will put it back," he laughed again with a strong maniacal tinge and flavor, and outstretched and clenched his mechanical hand. He followers and lackeys, the aging Wookie and the gaunt Gran greedily collected the credit chits on the Sabacc table greedily amongst themselves.


***


Admiral Bablon's raiding Imperial fleet manifested itself on the edge of the Bright Jewel system from a hyperspace flight of one position in the Mid Rim to another relatively close position in the Mid Rim.


She had received a personal message from Admiral Junie, and she would wait now until further instructions were sent. Her six Star Destroyers had six victories in the Mid Rim sector of the galaxy against the Republic Alliance since the new civil war began.


***


Dr. Robotixx was laughing again maniacally, and almost like a boy, as his two giant spider droids carried the prone and unconscious Captain Grum, who was snoring loudly, after the doctor of cybernetics — who had long ago been barred from his old academy and research post — made planetfall from Tubeworld to the surface of Ord Mantell to his deeply-hidden lair that contained many cunning traps, gadgets, droids, machines, and gizmos so insane and cunning, yet all working and functioning through sheer Imperial mathematics, that no living soul had ever returned, no matter whom he, or she, had been.


He pressed in a code in his mechanical wrist for his special hunter droids to salvage and bring back any survivors from the spaceship that had recently crashed in the mountains of central No Man's Land Junkyard, just a short distance from his cunningly bizarre and booby-trapped labyrinth lair under masses of space garbage that his very complicated electronic systems had informed him about.




Dr. Robotixx's eyes were shinning with what he finally considered the ultimate challenge for his great legacy which he had envisioned for himself one day: to make the greatest gambling droid that had ever been created! The galaxy would then pay for all the failures he had suffered in his life — especially his old academy.


He would have to first prepare himself for the great commitment and undertaking that he saw for himself.


They shall write legends about me in the hallowed and great academies, he thought, and smiled, to himself broadly. He was laughing and congratulating himself over his new found luck. The variables of reality had not been in his favour as of late.


He laughed and laughed evilly, as he used an electro-shock device to stimulate his synapses.


***


"Boba Fett is on the surface of Ord Mantell, master."


"Good. You are now to return to Byss to the spawning caves, Sleepo."


"Yes, master."


***


The dark sider Nili, like the other two members of the crashes above Ord Mantell in orbit, made it alive from those accidents and again below.


The Scimitar was mostly slag now, as she had used the marginally-powered landing repulsors to land the craft as best she could in the mountains of junk at the periphery of No Man's Land Junkyard — relatively close to the Hovel Zone, a large city, or rather a series of hovels and camps not, unlike inside the space station of Tubeworld above.


But now in her desperation, she salvaged what she could. She was filled with wrath, bitterness and also with deep hatred for the crisis of the moment. She used her training, and her intense Sith discipline, to work and to gather the things she needed, and then she used Bloodfin to roar down and up the hills of space garbage, letting the dark side of the Force guide her to the location she was now seeing on the speeder's navigational grids toward, perhaps, the near-mythical place of the hidden Jedi cave system.


The wind howled around her as she tore through at insane speeds between insane piles of debris and space junk. She concentrated through massive and sheer force of willpower and crackling dark side energies. She was deeply hungry for power and lore and artefacts such a place may hold.


After one standard hour later of incredible zigzagging through the endless and treacherous formations of space rubbish of No Man's Land Junkyard on her speeder at reckless velocities, she arrived at her planned destination of white volcanic mountains near the valley of the Hovel Zone, past the periphery of the continental-sized No Man's Land Junkyard.


The air was warm, but the stench was still unbearable to her.


She wanted this particular journey to finally end; she had enough of strange accidents and failures lately.


She now paused to focus a bit, after her enervating trip through endless quantities of space garbage on Bloodfin.


It was now her greatest determination to discover any secret powers of the hidden underground Jedi complex of Lan Dereni, and make it off this disgusting junk planet somehow.


She felt something here again, maybe near or maybe far, she was not sure.


The terrain felt, and perhaps looked, like something she had seen before in her mystical visions and states of the dark side of the Force on hellish Tatooine and on the ratty Tubeworld space station, but she was not quite sure, despite studying her grids again.


Below the mountain of soft volcanic rock she was standing on, was a valley known as the Hovel Zone of various people and aliens from across the galaxy. She knew it was a kind of permanent camp for migrants from different systems of the galaxy and anybody else who wanted to live there. She could see small derelict transports in the rank air and on the ground in that valley beneath her. She observed that some of local inhabitants lived in the nearby caves as well, but for some reason, not very many of them. She surmised there must have been various strong travel networks between the Hovel Zone and Tubeworld above.


I have special priorities and must gain more power and lore, she reflected.


On this mountain, where she stood, was a series of cave-like openings and peculiarly-twisted geological formations. There were hundreds of openings in the ash white cliffs that loomed above her and the mountains all around her.


One of these, possibly, held the entrance to a cave complex that been Force carved out of these unique geological formations by ancient Jedi Masters who wanted to meditate in solitude away far from the more robust corners of the Republic. This is what she remembered from reading ancient Jedi Holocrons during her Sith training. This was the possible place of what some of the Jedi Holocrons referred to as Lan Dereni.


She did not know which opening might be the entrance to this Lan Dereni.


Unbeknownst now to Nili, the Force ghost of Jedi Despoiler Kwan watched her from the very deep shadows of the twisted volcanic formations, not far away. On the horizon, the sun was setting now and quick darkness would fall over this place soon.


He was going to try to lure Nili into the Lan Dereni cave complex that he had been haunting for eons now, as he had planned, and he had used a Force mind trick to summon a large mangy stray black cat from the Hovel Zone nearby.


Kwan was deeply insane and disembodied.


She followed the black cat into the cool shadows of one of the cave openings, after it had looked at her for a very long time. She concentrated and calmed her aura and tried to project no thought sequences, nor emotions, of any kind. She had already felt the new presence.


After about three standard hours of slow-paced walking in that state and following the large black cat through many tedious and laborious underground cave passages in sheer darkness, she came to an underground waterfall glistening gently. She saw this through her special meditating state and Sith vision.


There were blue crystals on the ceiling, and she saw that she had come to a small room of symmetrical and asymmetrical niches with what looked like carved seats in the walls of the soft volcanic cave.


She surmised she had come at last to Lan Dereni of the Jedi. The black cat vanished suddenly, as if erased from existence.


Just then, she felt and was overwhelmed by a strong shift in the fabric of the Force.


The room filled with luminous white light and a voice spoke, strange and disembodied, almost not quite human, "The image of the Jedi Knight is that of the embodiment of the independent warrior, privileged member of society, romantic adventurer, backbone of Republic armies, and a station notionally accessible by even the lowest classes through dutiful service and hard work and Force sensitivity. He or she is at once the hero and the underdog, with Knighthood as a reward for hard won valor, skill, and power. Now, the connection between past and present is unbroken by the ongoing practice of Jedi Knighthood, at least by the Jedi, Luke Skywalker, who is now the only remenant of the great stories of the Republic Jedi."


"You lie Kwan! Show yourself."


"Heh! You must only think I am mad!"


"You must be mad Kwan, after being here in this dump for so long."


"You will need courage and skill, Darth Annihilator, if you will survive Lan Dereni!!"


She was bathed in cool darkness suddenly again.


She stood there and then ignited her purple lightsaber for light, and it hummed evenly tearing into the air and sending flickering shadows on the waterfall and ancient Jedi carvings of the walls, as Nili held it in a central Sith guard.


She sensed in the dark side of the Force that the Force ghost of Jedi Despoiler Master Kwan was gone — for now.


Suddenly, she felt as she had been as a young girl. She stood as her younger self in an area of pure white limbo.


Everything was pure white stretching as far as her eyes could see, and she felt no presence of any kind here.


She tried out a shout, but no sound came out to her ears.


She saw a flickering orange light in the distance. After many minutes, or so it seemed to her, she walked toward it.


Soon, she came to an iron brazier with flickering and hissing flames. They gave off significant heat. She stood in her younger body perplexed.


***


As he walked, Boba Fett felt uneasy in the Hovel Zone — he stood out from among the ratty locals. It was not just the smell here.


His carbine in his right hand, he walked slowly, trying to emulate the locals. They sensed the danger and stayed clear.


After a time, he left the makeshift camps, tents, and hovels of the Hovel Zone for the nearby mountains of volcanic cliffs and their exotic soft ashen features. He was now following the homing beacon sent to the transmitter Haash had given him.


Like Nili, he felt a grim and cold determination to succeed at all costs. He knew that his fate was riding on Astel the Jawa now, and like her, he had enough of foolish accidents and foolish twists of fate.


***


Dr. Robotixx, after a few hours of a special kind of Falleen meditation, had his multi-legged spider droids place Captain Grum in suspended animation upside down in a sleeping capsule that he used for surgeries and experiments. Transplanting Grum's brain into a droid would require a great deal of his mental energy and ability. Grum was still snoring loudly unaware.


A beeping sound on his wrist distracted and angered the graying Dr. Robotixx.


"What!?"


"The hunter droids you sent are not functioning anymore," said the gaunt Gran in a holojector in Dr. Robotixx's mechanized wrist.


"I am coming?down."


***


Strider Cognitive was breathing heavily. He was surrounded, more or less, by deep piles of endless space junk. He was hoping more of those droid things would not come back. He clutched his two, still warm, pistols in the practiced grips of his left and right hands and scanned the junk.


Nightfall was slowly coming, and he was rightly worried.


***


Amwok looked from her hidden vantage point around the weird hanger bay of that strange man with the droid hand.


She had snuck aboard his small-sized transport spacecraft that carried them all from Tubeworld to his secret lair, in an empty hold, deep, deep in the shadowy hull. She knew rescuing Captain Grum from a droid-infested lair of mashed derelict ships and space parts would be a considerable challenge. The hanger bay, that had an automated portal that closed and opened in between the mass piles of space junk above her here, was crowded with a busy group of the oddest laboring droids Amwok had ever seen, and Amwok hated droids.


"Wubnub."


"Grrrr."


***


Preliminary Interlude Two: [continued]


Captain Ahad laughed, as Sektor nodded eagerly in the medical bay of Heavy Hauling Lines, as Nili looked on when the lights turned back onHeavy .


"We must play a Sabacc game with those Wookie pirates we know; we shall cheat and pay off the Brother Knaves to make the droid bounty hunter IG-88 disappear."


"And we can use the girl in the bet to entice the pirate scum," added Ahad.


"Her name is Nili."


"Indeed," said Ahad and stun blasted Sektor unconscious.


Captain Ahad was laughing as Nili looked on.


***


Present: [continued]


Dr. Robotixx felt tightness in his throat like he never imagined he could have felt. He was deeply enraged that someone had dared to harm one of his special hunter droids.


"My precious droids," he almost sobbed.


"My prrrecious droids," he repeated slowly and evenly.


***


In the total darkness of the junk planet, Strider Cognitive stood a few standard kilometers from the ruins of his much loved Nemesis's Voice — his now totally trashed and ruined starship — in on all junk that he was standing and had been around for hours now, he was still able to walk upon it with a steady sense of balance. That he was deeply fit and in good shape helped him critically here among the piles of junk, and more junk, and infinite amounts of junk and space parts stretching as far as his eyes could see.


"Nemesis?be thou with me," he whispered softly with his eyes closed, trying hard to not succumb to shock and despair.


A few hours back, he had laser blasted some bizarre-looking hunter droids who tried to sneak up on him, as he was trying to navigate his position in the No Man's Land Junkyard. He knew something, or someone, had sent those droids.


I may just get off this dump, he thought in the deep darkness, and when I do, I will carve that laconic scout a new?


***


In the darkness of deep night under rising scant moonlight, the insane Force ghost of Kwan was now watching the tired Boba Fett approach the area where Nili had been a few hours back. Fett suddenly saw Bloodfin parked nearby, and felt like he was being digested inside the Sarlacc again. He lifted his carbine, and looked around as fast as he could, breathing heavily under his ruined and busted Mandalorian helmet.


Kwan's ghost then used the Force to make a loud howl of some large predatory creature, he had once heard, in the distance, but seemingly and threateningly nearby.


Fett quickly hid in the white volcanic cave Nili had entered clutching the walls nervously, and positioning himself for a good vantage point for snipping.


The Force ghost of Kwan laughed silently to himself. It was he who had activated the homing signal that was being broadcast from Astel's hidden lair in the ancient space hanger of what had been a secret Jedi meditation center, Lan Dereni, and it was he who sent Nili visions of this place when she had meditated on the blistering deserts of Tatooine. He had wanted to bring them both here in the Bright Jewel system.


Only with them together now, could Nili be weakened in the dark side of the Force so he could steal and possess her gorgeous and highly Force sensitive body.


For some reason, he had sensed there was an unspecified link between Boba Fett and Nili, not Force related, but something else, however.


He had known about Astel for a long time now, when the crafty Jawa had first discovered the Hovel Zone and the nearby caves, and then had discovered the ancient Jedi space hanger in the cave system by sneaking around in it with his scavenging droids two standard years ago.


The entrance to Astel's lair — the spaceship hanger bay of ancient Lan Dereni — was hidden by a powerful hologram which masqueraded the white cliffs of the area and was still powered by the mystical Jedi Force crystals of Jedi Masters now long gone. This hanger bay was connected secretly to the meditation chambers of the near extinct Jedi Order and some other secret passageways.


Astel had thus, back then, found a perfect base for his hidden and clandestine operations and business deals.


The Jawa had been based here for about two or three standard months, when Luke Skywalker's Force presence and his band had woken Master Kwan from his state of Force hibernation, when they visited the surface of Ord Mantell elsewhere, before they moved to the rebel base on Hoth, two standard years, or so, ago.


For a long time, using his disembodied Force presence, Master Kwan would secretly listen to Astel talk to himself through his rough Basic translator as Astel ran his scavenging operations from the secret hanger ignoring any Jedi related things or artefacts. Astel, like some Jawas, trusted his luck and practiced covert ways.


Master Kwan had learned slowly about the new galaxy by observing and listening to Astel the freebooter. Kwan was totally insane, yet still patient enough to know that he had to wait until a chance by the living Force realized itself. He thus learned by the mutterings of the Jawa about the strange dark sider that had Force crunched Boba Fett's carbine.



Kwan had been what the Jedi called a Jedi Despoiler, a special type of Jedi who fought the Sith of Light two millennia ago in another horrid galactic civil war.


The Jedi Despoilers had not been nice people. They used the Force to suck energy out of living beings to power themselves. They had the ability to reorganize matter and energy and some complex states of the Force.


Astel, like the mangy black cat who had led Nili in the cave passages, had been Force sucked out of existence recently, and their life energies absorbed by the ghost of this Jedi Despoiler Master.


Kwan had survived as a rare type of Jedi Despoiler Force ghost hiding from the Jedi and Sith for ages and ages through a state of special Force hibernation that he achieved, when he was poisoned by his own master Moosh.


He had achieved transcendence through the Force back then, and now, after all this time, was elated that the chance to take over the galaxy would be his soon.


Like previous Jedi Despoilers, his now long-gone contemporaries, he represented, in his insane hubris, the annihilation of all life in the galaxy.


He would lure Boba Fett to Lan Dereni and send him to meet Nili in the transcendental limbo states of the Force this place was known for, and then suck her soul and annihilate his, as Boba Fett's and Nili's emotional and soul interactions in the Force Limbo she was in now would weaken them and drain their core living energy. He would then take over her beautiful body as his own to once again wreak total havoc on the galaxy.


***


Preliminary Interlude Two: [continued]


Captain Ahad was convinced he wanted to sell Sektor and Nili to the Wookie pirates instead of the Brother Knaves or the Slaver's Guild.


He decided that a Sabacc game with the Wookies was not a good idea.


***


On Nar Shaddaa, life with the Wookie pirates for Nili was bitter and hard, since she had to do many house chores and learn boring things that she had hated on her earlier planet, except as she was growing up, they got worse, and worse.


One day, as she was doing a birthday dance for the Wookies, Ars Dangor noticed her when he had been spying on Nar Shaddaa among its various criminal groups, especially the Hutt clans, for the Emperor. He then bought her from the Wookies and took her to Byss to train her in the Sith ways, methods, and traditions of the dark side of the Force. He had felt her special Force sensitivity and special metabolism.


***


Present: [present]


Admiral Junie had finally been summoned for a Sith healing ceremony by Ars Dangor.


The inside of her massive quarters in her tower on Coruscant exploded with white light suddenly.


Her body was lifted into air and everything was aglow with pure white light as she was healed of her facially scarred tissue by very powerful and focused dark side energies.


Ars Dangor on Byss using long-distance Force telekinesis lowered her naked body gently unto her bed.


Chapter IV ? "Vortex of Death"


"The wars that bring death and suffering are forever chained to the circle of the galaxy, even to Glorious Jewel?"


--Fynn the Mystic, the Chronicles of Hate.


The Hutt clans had now called to all the Hutts in galaxy to relocate to Nal Hutta to restart the Great Hutt Empire. The heads of the Hutt clans had decided that the Republic Alliance and the old Imperial remnants were busy fighting each other in a weakened state, and thus sought out independence and perhaps some conquest.


Soon independent Toydaria was taken in a quick space battle by eclectic Hutt forces.


***


In the spawning caves on Byss underneath the Old Imperial Citadel of Palpatine, a clone of Count Dooku


awoke from the madness beyond death in the Sith vortexes beyond this living material plane of existence.


"I have seen things — things Sith were not meant see!"


"Argggggg!"


"He's crazy," noted Ars Dangor observing him, with slight bitterness.


"I shall then proceed with the operation over Coruscant," he said to himself dryly.


Preliminary Interlude Two: [continued and over, 0 BBY During the events of Star Wars: A New Hope]


Nili had passed the Sith trials of fire, water, and death, and now waited to for the final challenge, the final mysterious test before she could become Darth Annihilator.


On Byss, eighteen years had passed of rigorous Sith training and education in the hidden lore of the Sith Order, and a galactic medical, historical, and mathematical education by Ars Dangor and his tutors. She had grown into a stunningly beautiful woman, and she knew after the final test she would be formally introduced to the Emperor.


The Emperor, she had heard had just taken his steps to consolidate his position within the Galactic Empire. She had enjoyed the training and the power it had given her. Ars Dangor had told her she was especially selected to the Sith Order because of her special skills, Force sensitivity, and very special metabolism.


He was very proud of her. The Emperor had forbidden any relationships that could cloud Ars Dangor's judgement in her Sith training, and Ars Dangor had obeyed flawlessly, like Nili on many, many Sith tests.


In the final test, Nili slayed an old Jedi Knight who had once been captured by Order 66, and placed in hibernation for Sith experimentation.


She would have been acknowledged in ceremony aboard the now completed Death Star by the Emperor himself, except that Luke Skywalker had destroyed the shiny new battle station.


She had then bided her time on Byss, as the Emperor's thoughts and energies were now directed elsewhere.


***


Present: [continued]


Nili was still in the Force Limbo of Lan Dereni, trapped in the body of her younger self by the Force ghost of Master Kwan, the Jedi Despoiler.


Unbeknownst to her, Kwan was using a Force mind trick now to lure Boba Fett into Lan Dereni's mystical Force cave and meditation hall of many past Jedi Masters, where he would send him into the Force Limbo since he had gained access to that state by his Jedi Despoiler methodology in the Force and by channelling the trapped and harnessed energies of Lan Dereni's Force cave crystals where many Jedi Masters had stored their energies long ago.


He was cackling now that everything was going according to his plan.


Nili and Boba Fett would fight to the bitter end in Force Limbo until their life energies and auras were exhausted by the effort of mental will and imagery of conflict.


Plus, Kwan knew now they were attracted to each other.


Boba Fett walked through the dark cave passages leading to Lan Dereni in a haze.


***


"Where am I?" said Boba Fett.


He stood as a young boy before a hissing and flaming iron brazier with a good looking young girl on opposite side of the hot brazier.


"I can hear you?" said Nili aloud and surprised.


The young Boba Fett looked at her and felt uneasy, yet connected to her somehow.


She was observing him quietly over the hissing flames.


He suddenly rushed toward her and was transformed in his older self in full Mandalorian armor gear with all his weapons and gear.


She suddenly transformed in her older self as well, with her twin lightsabers igniting.


They recognized each other and fought with hatred, fear, and anger.


The iron brazier disappeared, once he perished and they fought again and again, sometimes Nili perished, and the fighting would start again, and the same with him. The fighting continued.


Master Kwan was observing the lightshow with glee every time one of them perished in the Force Limbo of Lan Dereni.


***


The fibercord tangled them both at one time.


Master Kwan looked on nervously.


They stared at each other for a long time entangled. Both were breathing heavily in this strange dimension.


He took off his helmet and she turned off her two lightsabers.


"Look," they both said at once and then giggled and laughed.


"What are we doing?" they both said again at the same time and both of them burst out laughing.


They suddenly stood in each other's arms their breaths close to each other.


He kissed her long and hard, as she relaxed and stiffened and then relaxed.


They heard a scream of anguish.


***


Nili and Boba Fett stood as their respective selves the dark meditation chambers of Lan Dereni with the murmur of the waterfalls and blue crystals above glowing softly above.


He was in his patched up armor, and she stood in her Sith cloak and gear taken from the downed Scimitar.


"I?" started Boba Fett.


"Shhhh?" she whispered.


"I have to do something," she said and vanished leaving Boba Fett alone in the near darkness.


***


"Kwan!" shouted Nili, as the Force ghost turned around and looked at her in Force limbo.


She lifted her fingers as Sith lightning danced, crackled, and whipped into the ghost of the Jedi Despoiler.


He screamed, as she concentrated more, and used her disciplined aura and mental capacity and will and emotional valence to trigger more and more Sith lightning in Force Limbo into the ghost of Master Kwan.


She tapped into the Jedi crystals suddenly by some strange twist of fate, or so it seemed, they shattered.


Her metabolism shifted as she channeled prodigious amounts of Force energy to destroy and annihilate Kwan.


This is exactly what happened after seven standard minutes of concentrated and extreme effort.


Kwan was forever gone.


***


It took about three standard minutes of sneaking around for Amwok's furry body to be blasted by Dr. Robotixx's droids.


***


Ars Dangor was sitting on some Ewok fur carpets near his private fireplace in the citadel palace of Emperor Palpatine on Byss.


He had ordered Admiral Bablon to laser strafe Tubeworld, the Hovel Zone and anything in the blast vicinity.


***


As Nili rematerialized, Fett confronted her and took her purple lightsaber away from her hand; he threw it flying away the saber still turned on.


"I have no use for Jedi toys."


There was a stunning sunsrise at that moment outside, and Boba Fett took off his helmet and kissed her long and hard like was his style. She knew it was the kiss of death, like death, yet tasted of passion and romance.


Suddenly, Star Destroyer laser fire fell and tore unto this place from orbit over Ord Mantell.


***


Alarms were ringing in Dr. Robotixx's underground derelict lair, someone, or something, had been dismantling his droids and was putting them offline.


He pressed the button for the locks and unleashed nerve gas into all the corridors sacrificing the aging Wookie and gaunt Gran for his own safety.


Strider Cognitive suddenly emerged from a grill behind Dr. Robotixx and blasted him twice with two blaster pistol shots.


"You are?permanently?disconnected," whispered Strider Cognitive.


Chapter V "Final Life"


"I see things the galaxy is not meant to see. I see in infinity the great galactic bloodbaths that are coming they shall be forever here, till the universe compacts again. The wise have been warned, foolhardy sifted, the blades of light and darkness and are matched now and stand at the gates of the deep abyss that is to come from time hence."


--Fynn the Mystic, the Chronicles of Hate.


Boba Fett was on the ground having survived the laser bombardment from space. The ship that stood in Astel's garage he called from this point in time, Slave II.


"Solo, I am going to vaporize you?"


[Continued in: Star Wars Nar Shaddaa Chronicles 3: A Matter of Time]