"I answer to a higher law." — Boba Fett, Mandalorian Armor

Boba Fett Fan Fiction

“The Nar Shaddaa Chronicles: Revenge of Boba Fett”

  • Story by Jason Cross
  • Estimated reading time: 159 minutes (31,949 words)

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The Nar Shaddaa Chronicles: Revenge of Boba Fett.


Dedicated to Dr. Porth, the real herb doctor, and Dr. M. A. Sawicki — my stepfather — who told me when I was six years old, the Mos Eisley Cantina was his favorite scene, and of course Admiral Junie, the rose of Vancouver.


Time Frame: 3 ABY - 4 ABY.


Chapter 1 — "Set-ups on the Smuggler's Moon."


It had again been another particularly low day at Zyclan the Hutt's tower on Nar Shaddaa. A strong, foul, and loathsome stench from the lower levels and grids of the Outer Rim Hutt Zone, where the tower was, which was located very near to the central Corellian Sector on the ecumenopolis moon, wafted near and into the edifice gently, constantly, and effervescently. It had put everyone, nearby and at the tower, in a really foul or angry mood, which grew more among them steadily and with each passing standard hour.


Just outside the ugly tower, on the decaying city grid, a group of thin and gaunt Tusken Raiders, who were originally from Tatooine—and who had lately made it past the punishing Imperial fleet embargo blockades in the Y'Toub system of Nar Shaddaa (the galactic Empire had just started to curb down very heavily on all illegal smugglers and pirates throughout all their planetary and galactic jurisdictions since they had more resources after their recent victories at Hoth and elsewhere against the downtrodden, constantly harassed, and hidden Rebel Alliance fleet)—who were now persistent regulars at Zyclan's tower and were addicted to all the local rotgut brews, cheap nic, and synth spice and various other stims sold at and near the tower, and were now trading vulgar insults and physically brawling and harshly with a group of tough, local, and aging Wookies.


The sporadic fist fighting and vibroblade slashing did not last long between the two groups and resulted only in minor to medium bruises, and few broken bones and mild flesh cuts—the bruises were mostly inflicted by the hardened and tough Wookies. However, bad-mannered insults continued steadily between the two groups, which were only mildly inventive or creative and were mostly mired the in typical stereotypes—much to the amusement of the shady, and other nearby, onlookers.


This Wookie clique was also a regular frequenter of Zyclan's tower; these Wookies were tough and hardened survivors of the Clone Wars, and some of them were still heavily scarred from those wars as a badge of fighting honor refusing Bacta tank treatments, and some among them had a few replacement droid extensions and limbs, here and there, on their shaggy, tall, bulky, and still muscular bodies. They also considered it a proud and memorable honor of their soldier fighting days.


The veteran and aging Wookies, however, were all just as addicted to all the stims mentioned above, like almost anyone who came to loaf, hang out, sleep, eat, or slum at the Hutt's tower and the lower adjoining bunker-like edifice in the run-down grid that was tried to be spruced up heavily by the more wealthy Outer Rim Hutts in the area.


Almost the entire spaceport moon of Nar Shaddaa was heavily rundown, congested, and polluted.


As the smell increased from the depths in that sector, the veteran Clone War Wookies began to growl and harass a small, local, and snooty group of rich Outer Rim Hutts, who were presently slumming inside, and sometimes outside, Zyclan's tower.


Then the three groups mentioned above: the Tuskens, the Wookies, and the snooty Hutts began to argue and shout, or growl together, and also with a few mean-looking Tanga Six new Nar Shaddaa spaceport immigrants—Tanga Six was a poor Mid Rim planet home to many strange and exotic aliens, but rich in plant resources of all types and had a strong Imperial presence tough on the native inhabitants.


The awful, rancid, and uncouth smell wafting near the tower had been a catalyst for making these groups all angry and pent up, that and being very high on various stims and brews, cheap or otherwise.

Some of the locals were actually surprised there was not more physical brawling that standard day between the clients, loafers, and loiters of the tower. However, a reflective mind, a very rare thing on the filthy and crime infested Nar Shaddaa, might have thought and reasoned the strong and foul smell would not bother these shady, and mostly criminal, groups so much since these groups were, perhaps, like a reflection of the unwholesome and uncouth smell now drifting in the Outer Rim Hutt Zone, and since on the mostly totally polluted Nar Shaddaa smells and scents were usually never pleasant or likable, unless one was very rich, like Zyclan the Hutt and the top echelon of the Outer Rim Hutts.


Somehow, it was bad day growing worse and worse, and smell there was just an excuse for the groups and clients to abuse each other or another group or clique.


Like every other day, Zyclan the Hutt crime boss kept their credits flowing toward him, and like today, the tower clientele and loafers and dedicated or hardened groups and cliques had been a constant sore point on the bloated tails of the local, nasty, and gluttonous Outer Rim Hutts who lived and owned most things in the sector named after them. It had been so from start when the tower was permitted to be built by Zyclan's heavy bribery to the highly corrupt and lazy Imperial officials a few years back.


Zyclan had tried to convert parts of the tall tower into a flesh pit, what the denizens of the moon called brothels, for a few years now—like many of the prolific ones on the Smuggler's Moon—but for the present-day it just remained mostly a lounge, eatery, and a flophouse, and a place to get cheap stims, loiter, loaf, and hook up, which was what now the Tusken Raiders, Wookies, spoiled Outer Rim Hutts, and poor Tanga Six immigrants were doing after their mild feuding and name calling and arguments along with a few lowlife Hutts, and other multifarious riff-raff, working girls, such as were common to most sectors of Nar Shaddaa.


Like today, the tower ring was habitually an odd mixture of poor, middle, and rich clientele.


The wily and elder Zyclan the Hutt liked to sponsor cheap food open all day and night to attract clientele at the tower, and then had his dealers sell them their usual addictions; sometimes free dealers fought with Zyclan's dealers—Zyclan didn't really care, he had more important concerns with his reputation and relationships with the local smuggler clans in the Corellian Sector and the Hutt crime clans of Nal Hutta and Nar Shaddaa and throughout the galaxy, like those local nasty Outer Rim Hutts (they were called the Outer Rim Hutts because they were relatively newcomers to the Vertical City a few years ago before the Tower was built, and had always been a particularly tight knit group of Huttese clans who considered themselves superior to the all local Hutts that had been in the Y'Toub system for much longer).


Brawling, tempers, loud complaints, and hooking up were typical features of Zyclan's Tower near the center of the territory referred to as the Outer Rim Hutt Zone, since almost all the Outer Rim Hutts on Nar Shaddaa had settled there before the Battle of Yavin—a few among them had preferred to settle on Nal Hutta, when they first arrived, to escape the congested and polluted conditions of Nar Shaddaa; the really rich ones who could afford the costs of property on Nal Hutta, and who were granted permission by the local powerful Hutt clans.


What attracted the Outer Rim Hutt clans to move to Nar Shaddaa were the illegal opportunities there, since the galactic Empire had very tough stance on illegal activities in most parts of the galaxy from its start, and Nar Shaddaa was always a criminal haven, and had gained a reputation of being the center of illegal operations in the galaxy, even now under Emperor Palpatine's New Order. It was called a planet of traders, outlaws, and pirates and Hutt crime lords right above Nal Hutta, the ancient Hutt homeworld.


***


Fraya the Hutt princess liked the cheap food at Zyclan's Tower. The aging Hutt princess was related to Zyclan through his cousin Zyate; however, she was nowhere to be seen. After an accident with a Tanga Six vibroblade at Zyclan's Tower many days ago, she was never the same and disappeared.


This event had been the start of a secret Dark Side Adept plot, by a small and deeply devoted fringe group of Sith Adepts that were living in hiding on Nar Shaddaa, and who were plotting to get even with a certain bounty hunter, the Imperial officials in the system, and the Hutt crime cartel clans whom they hated and saw as puerile scum.


Most of the denizens of the spaceport moon of ancient Nar Shaddaa were addicted to a local type of renegade Sith philosophy anyway—so the fringe Sith group did not look or behave too much out place on the mostly criminal moon—which to the denizens meant copulating on regular basis with anything that moves, and other strange and bizarre things, mostly not caring about anything and worshipping force and strength and pleasurable pursuits, consciously or subconsciously.


Some of the denizens of the Smuggler's Moon—the common name for Nar Shaddaa, like Vertical City, among all types of aliens and non-aliens, even Imperials—shady or otherwise, who could pay the heavy prices to research corporations on the lower levels, were heavily genetically modified or enhanced in various ways, either as permitted by the Empire's local laws or not, since this tech sector in and near the Undercity made it possible. Sometimes, not all went well with the expensive procedures.


***


Boba Fett had recently arrived on the Smuggler's Moon after doing some light private work for Darth Vader, and through Zyclan the Hutt and his contacts Fett was able to rent a new place near the retired Corellian Smugglers' Sector which was also rather close to Imperial Boulevard—a pretentious Imperial academic district recently home to a big group of Toydarians, to what the locals called an infestation, squatters. All the Imperials there, and Imperial academics who worked in that sector, just mostly posed and fooled around at the massive multi-grid university facility. They were usually highly bored and did almost anything to humor themselves.


Fett hated his new rental a little, or was nonchalant about it. There was a smell sometimes in the air from the bottom levels of the grid-like Nar Shaddaa.


A few standard weeks ago, Vader had contacted him privately while Boba Fett was on Nar Shaddaa and engaged in a heavy project for himself, and now that he returned with from a successful stint for Vader, he wanted a new temporary location on the spaceport moon, a better one that he had before.


Adjacent to Fett's new rented domicile, were various horizontal levels of busy loading docks and starship maintenance bays. Fett's new temporary housing was near their center. Slave I was parked in a heavily secure and private garage below for his starship, and Boba Fett was wondering whether he should do a more radical upgrade and add a newer ship to his pursuits, one that he had scouted at one of the adjacent maintenance bays owned by a young, rich, and conceited Outer Rim Hutt named Qdor; Fett was musing about calling it Slave II.


Zyclan the Hutt, who owed Fett some credits for new whacking work two days ago, and being reprobate as ever with his payments to Fett, was postponing Fett's final decision on haggling with the young Qdor for the new starship.


Boba Fett had worked with Zyclan in the past, but because of the late credits that Zyclan presently owed him, their business relationship was strained somewhat.


The new work that Boba Fett had secretly done was a whacking job of a few of the Toydarian squatters on Zyclan's specific orders, on and near Imperial Boulevard, which also usually had a bad nasty stench like most places on the Smuggler's Moon. The smells on the spaceport could just not be escaped.


Recently, for prestige among the Hutt crime cartel, Zyclan the Hutt had spent a small fortune to bribe the Imperials on Imperial Boulevard to build a monument that looked mildly like the Sarlacc Pit on Tatooine in the central location of the multi-level academic grid, and the bored and amused Imperials allowed it.


Zyclan had been greatly offended, upset, and angry by the new squatters and wanted them gone from near his new monument. The Imperials knew Zyclan was upset by the squatters, but didn't do anything about it. They weren't really concerned by it, and they wanted Zyclan to suffer emotionally, so the Toydarian squatters had remained in the area and near the monument.


This fact had moved Zyclan to the recent drastic measure of employing a bit of terror against the squatters. He was so mad that he just wanted a sure kill count, and called on Boba Fett who recently approached him about the rental.


Boba Fett was waiting for payment for the dead squatters from Zyclan, who had hoped a few deaths among the squatters would cause the Toydarians to move on; however, his plan backfired and they were determined more than ever to stay where they were. Because of this, Zyclan was in a foul mood and decided not pay Fett for a while.


Zyclan's typical stinginess had the effect of souring Fett's mood a bit as well. He knew Zyclan thought that he was overcharging for such light work and since the terror tactic did not work, and the highly professional Boba Fett also knew Zyclan wanted him to accept and charge a lesser fee by prolonging the duration for final payment.


Boba Fett was offended of course, but he knew Zyclan had always been rather stingy in his business deals with everyone.


More importantly to Boba Fett was that he currently acquired and owned seven elite Imperial probe droids, a reward from Darth Vader for some of the light work he just did off system, which he had hidden and positioned in various strategic places throughout the retired Corellian Smugglers' Sector—which was affectionately called the Katt, or Kitt, by the inhabitants—for security concerns, and when he needed them for anything else.


These new seven Imperial probe droids, which Fett now had, were constructed and assembled on Coruscant, and were very deadly and very highly adaptive. Boba Fett had wanted to put them into action for a while now. But for the present, they just reported the comings and goings of who Fett wanted to monitor, like Zyclan's and Qdor's underlings near his new rental and in the Katt sector.


The probe droids were linked electronically to Slave I's main computer and Boba Fett's upgraded Mandalorian helmet and reported any pertinent information to Slave I's central computer on a regular basis, which was programmed to sift the monitored facts and feed them into the receiver of Boba Fett's helmet.


Before his new task from Zyclan to take out a few of the Toydarian squatters, Boba Fett, who was sometimes in Zyclan's favour for old work, had before his new assignment from Zyclan, contacted him when he first moved into his rental in the Kitt, to send Zeldarra, a green Hutt bounty hunter who worked with argumentative and loud Jawa underlings, to the rainforests and deserts of Nal Hutta on a gruelling tour of duty without any meaning, for fun.


Zeldarra, who was frequenting and lodging sometimes next door to Fett's new abode, had annoyed him with loud and persistent annoying noises. The Hutt was fond of playing the Neimoidian flute and making big speeches, and arguing with his Jawa underlings, but the local Imperials treated him badly for making illegal speeches criticizing the Empire (one of his slighted Jawa underlings ratted on him to the officials), and the Smuggler's Moon Corporate Sector also had recently banned Zeldarra from their circles for making a fool of himself at a party.


Fett wanted to make him sweat a bit for his annoyance in some of the harsher conditions on Nal Hutta, also called Glorious Jewel by the Hutts.


So Zyclan had ordered the green Hutt bounty hunter to that planet with a fake bounty for peanuts, which he accepted since he wanted any kind of rise in his reputation, on a crazy and wild goose chase in the rainforests and Negrev desert, and Fett was happy Zeldarra wouldn't be around in the Kitt and next door to his place for good long while. Zyclan was amused by it all, like Fett.


In a more serious and beneficial development, Boba Fett had recently modified Slave I's main computer, through his various dealings with corrupt Imperials and the Undercity corporate tech sector on glittering Nar Shaddaa, to read mnemonic vibrations, with which he could pick up thought strings and thought sequences—basically line sentences of thought in a scanned organic brain by the mind probe.


It was a time consuming process to read the thought strings for coherency sometimes, and the mind probe could do it better the closer the target was to the starship, but it could still read an organic brain with the proper language translations at about 7000 Imperial meters, but not beyond that range.


This great new project had been in the works for many months, and Boba Fett had spent a lot of his credits, about eighty-five percent of his savings, to acquire and create the necessary synthesis of technical precision. He had some really good contacts in the technology sector in the Undercity, since he had removed a few companies' rival engineers, by making them disappear quietly over a long duration, and also sabotaging some of their projects (that part was harder than it sounds), these engineering contacts and corporate researchers and managers and some corrupt Imperial engineers on Imperial Boulevard allowed him access to this type of technology, which he synthesized slowly and gradually, and made his new mind probe possible.


After a time after acquiring the necessary plans and parts, he then took out the most of the corporate engineers in a planned explosion to cover his tracks. To the corporations it looked like an accident; they were a bit suspicious, but were nervous and cowed into keeping silent. The local Imperial jurisdiction hated dealing with the Undercity, the lowest grid, literally and metaphorically speaking on the Vertical City.


Since mind probe was rather short distance and required a lot of power from Slave I's four main power generators, Boba Fett managed to scan only a few of inhabitants of the Vertical City he considered important, including the secretive, suspicious, and even sometimes paranoid Zyclan, who had visited Qdor's maintenance bay as a courtesy call among the Nar Shaddaa Hutt cartel and fell within the range of Boba Fett's new mind probe as it was parked at the secure garage of Fett's new rental.


Boba Fett had always kept track of his surroundings, far and near. He knew the Imperial HoloNet was mostly Bantha fodder. Through the mind probe modification, he found out Zyclan was low on profits.


He also found out a near insane Sith Dark Side Adept group had been spying on him when a probe droid alerted him he was being spied by strange Sith spy creature, he used the mind probe on the alien which translated the though sequences in his vulgar brain, and Fett discovered that Fraya the elder Hutt princess was also being spied on by the Sith Adept group for their own purposes, which involved him and Zyclan. He kept track of his surroundings through the probe droids, but knew the Sith group did not want to strike at him just yet. He had discovered through the mind probe of the spy that they were trying to lure him off planet to another location on the Mid Rim by kidnapping Fraya and getting Zyclan to hire him to find his elder cousin princess.


So Boba Fett had three things to deal with: Zyclan's lack of payment, his goal of wanting to get a new starship for his collection to impress the Hutt crime clans, and a vile dark side fringe Sith group of seven members out to get him through a lure to another location in the Mid Rim.


Despite these recent developments, Boba Fett was also mildly bored after winning his war with the Bounty Hunter's Guild ten standard Imperial months ago, many Guild members perished, and some were still missing in action. One of whom had been a secret brother member of the hidden and local Dark Side Adept cult, which is why the fringe Dark Side adept group secretly plotted to get even with Fett.


Boba Fett knew about the deceased secret brother Adept, Afroi, and was now aware of the dangerous and hidden circle of Sith worshippers, who were currently based in and near the medical area of Imperial Boulevard; he wanted to play with them a bit, and with Zyclan and Qdor. He kept such secrets to himself.


Traffic in and near the Kitt was constant. The locals had been constantly upgrading the boring sector and Alderaanian weeds and Wampa vines were all the rage in the decaying and near-obsolete city growing as decoration.


After securing the rental of his new temporary home, which was as thoughtful, functional, and stylish that Boba Fett could get, with a large master suite (he already started to customize a bit), and after settling, Fett went to the Gudor the Hutt's nearby cantina, only lightly armed.


It was Gudor's fancy to replicate exactly the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine. The cantina was called the Tray.


Boba Fett, an on and off vegetarian who sometimes liked some of the late Alderaanian and local Tiwonian Four food (another small Mid Rim planet popular for different types of culinary styles), and as was his business, had tried Hutt cuisine, but only mildly liked some of the fancier stuff, didn't order anything at the Tray.


On a rare odd day, he even had a hankering for boring Bounty Hunter Guild canned rations, which reminded him of the times when he first started his long career. He usually didn't drink any local brews, and this time didn't either.


Fett might have felt nostalgic at the Tray, but he didn't stay long. The service and local riffraff were reminding him too much of Jabba the Hutt's various palaces and places. Besides, Fett knew the Sith spy creature was watching him.


Boba Fett left the Tray, slowly and gracefully, and caught a slow mass transit Imperial transport shuttle, the locals and the denizens of Nar Shaddaa used, it was a blue cargo hauler piloted by a retired Imperial Stromtrooper, like all the other ones on the glimmering space port moon. He used an Imperial pass given to him by his contacts in the Empire through Vader.


The spy creature followed him while making calls to his Dark Side Adept buddies, "Fett is going to the imp garden."


Boba Fett heard this since he was intercepting the spy's messages through the receiver in his helmet.


After a few more aliens and smugglers packed in and chattered noisily and haggled over various things: like their spice and stim amounts and gatherings and cults from every corner of the galaxy, the shuttle sped rather smoothly and finally arrived on the academic Imperial Boulevard.


In the shuttle, Fett had observed Jaceas, a fanatical follower of Zersaw—a hard-core religion started by an obscene Hutt in ancient times—and Twi'lek dancing girl, who was popular at the notorious Slag Pit, a rough drinking bar in the Corellian Sector. He had met her before once, but this time did not approach.


Fett left the cargo shuttle and moved slowly amid the large multi-level district of Imperial Boulevard university. The spy creature quickly hid among the Toydarian squatters. He wanted to use them to observe Boba Fett's movements there. He promised them much spice and stims. It was hard for the Sith spy creature to avoid a haggling storm, which soon erupted into a haggling storm.


Fett ignored them and rocketed up to the horticultural area, high on an upper-level of the grid. There was a garden growing there under various lights replicating various suns from around the galaxy. Boba Fett landed there quickly.


Irain, a green skinned half-Theelin survivor from Alderaan, who worked at this facility department and faculty, met Fett.


"Salutations Herb Doctor," greeted Fett, "Has the Hutt been keeping you busy?"


"Welcome back Boba Fett, come inside," she murmured with a thick Alderaanian accent. "It's been a long time since I saw you."


"What are you going to do, stab my left arm with the vibroblade?" Fett replied.


Irain always carried a hidden vibroblade with her. She would sometimes douse it with various virulent poisons. They walked inside the building inside which was inlaid with wood from Kashyyyk.


"Have the Toydarians been getting high off anything in the garden?" teased Fett.


"Shut up and kiss me Boba," she stated.


Fett took off his helmet slowly and kissed her, but before he did he ordered one of his Imperial probe droids to move to the area secretly and stay hidden. In the ramshackle, decaying, and hodgepodge city structures of Nar Shaddaa, there were always places to hide. He also summoned Slave I electronically to blast off and hover above the building when it had arrived. Slave I lifted from his new garage and flew to Imperial Boulevard slowly, gently, and gracefully.


They retired to a private room, after enjoying each other's company and conversing a bit.


Afterwards, Irain closed her eyes and started to chant guttural Zersaw chants and waved her arms in time with it. Boba Fett figured it was time to go.

"Try to lay off the Zersaw baby," he intoned to her and left.


He blasted from the garden balcony and arrived in Slave I.


"Slave, go to Hutt bay NSQ22," he ordered the ship's computer by voice command, another new modification, like the short distance mind probe.


Slave I swooped gently to the area and landed in Qdor the Hutt's maintenance bay. The place was hectic. An aide ran up to Fett, as he emerged from his ship, "Repairs Fett?"


Boba Fett ignored him. There was always a steady vibration in the bay from the work being done and traffic was also harried from the lower levels and grids. The noise was loud and there were puddles of grease and other fluids.


Boba Fett went to see Qdor the Hutt, who was as usual, hovering on his palanquin at the back of the bay. Boba Fett slowly made his way over to him.


"Tell Zyclan I want my credits Qdor," said Fett when Qdor looked up.


"Well Boba, you know the Blessed Cartel, business in and business out," proclaimed the Hutt. "Zyclan is so busy these days; his attention must be elsewhere, say Fett, who have you whacked lately? Brother-Knaves, Rover Pirate Sisters, Roark Garnet, mmm, mm?"


"Toydarian scum," replied Fett.


"Oo, juicy, juicy Fett," whined the Hutt. "You need to do some real work; the locals have been harassing me ever so slightly in their nebulous ways, why did Zersaw ever go to blessed Tatooine? Cursed be his hide."


"Captain Roark is walking dead," stated Boba Fett.


"Yes, of cours—," began the Hutt.


"I want that ship I looked at," stated Fett.


"We must shake on it," said the young Qdor the Hutt.


"Delivery on Nal Hutta," said Fett and headed for his ship.


"Send for my Alderaanian fan the air is so dry here! My hosiri and Wampa rat chow!" Qdor ordered an aide.


"You're busy as Zyclan," said Boba Fett quietly, as he was walking away.


***


Meanwhile, the leader of fringe Sith Dark Side Adepts, who called himself Darth Eclectic and possessed a lightsaber with a pink blade and other various implements from the far reaches of the galaxy, communed with his followers, minor Adepts obsessively dedicated to serving the dark side of the Force.


"We shall swallow the holy Darkness!" he intoned telepathically to his followers, "The beginning of our reign is here and we will rule here for a thousand years!"


"Yes! Yes!" they replied being five in number, a sixth had been executed by another journeyman member of the group recently and ten months ago Boba Fett killed the seventh during his war with the Bounty Hunter Guild. Afroi had been masquerading as a bounty hunter to gather information and funds when the fringe Sith group first arrived on Nar Shaddaa.


Afroi had started out as a fanatical Imperial worshipper from the Corporate Sector and had always been very sensitive to the dark side of the Force.


"We shall make the Hutts and the Imperials pay for our long suffering and the Hated One will burn in Sith Hell in the madness beyond death!" broadcast Eclectic through the Force to his remaining, dedicated, and dangerous followers.


"We are one!" they cried out through the Force. They then began to screech and howl their ancient Sith chants.


Darth Eclectic was pleased with himself, and he knew he was secretly cloaked in the Force. No one had sensed him, he was assured. He marvelled now at his long blond hair.


They had been hiding in the Imperial medical sector of the Smuggler's Moon for a long time.


***


Lately, Fraya the Hutt princess really liked the cheap food at Zyclan's Tower; Zyclan himself was on Nal Hutta, on a sojourn. She made periodic visits to the tower. But after her accident, a mild cut, she had only been playing a variant organ at her home, called the Largon, and exercising. She was also musing about taking a long vacation to Quadratus Five, home to many Zersaw temples, but the resident Outer Rim Hutts were just too engaging for her, despite her recent humiliation, and despite all the recent fighting between the Wookies and Tuskens who hanged out at the tower.


She was related to Zyclan's cousin Zyate, and considered herself rather high among the Hutt caste, but was barely tolerated by them; she had undergone gene therapy to make her skin purple.


Fraya hated Dio, a Hutt on the lower side of the cartel caste, who drank cheap Hutt Bile and rotgut and whatever stim he could get through long rounds of begging. He also hanged out at the tower—at the lower levels of the bunker-like edifice. Dio had been responsible for the vibroblade accident that had insulted the Hutt princess and humiliated her.


Fraya felt sorry for herself and avoided the tower for days, while Dio was high enjoying his stim that he got through his latest round of beggary.


Yet unbeknownst to him, Fraya paid his dealer to douse his hosiri—an addictive and anxiolytic plant that was native to the lowest levels of Nar Shaddaa that had multiple administrations of consumption—with a local fungus that made getting high impossible, the potent fungus altered the recipient at the genetic level.


Also, unbeknownst to Dio, was that he was the victim of a Force mind trick by Gad, one of Darth Eclectic's Adepts; she knew the Hutt's resistance to the mind trick was weakened after many years of hard-core hosiri addiction and rotgut drinking. She put thoughts in his mind to try vibroblade juggling since he had always wanted to juggle. Fraya had been in a room in a lower level of the Tower smoking hosiri through a typical Hutt pipe, and got nicked a bit, as Dio sent a Tanga Six nasty vibroblade in her direction accidently. There was a moan, and then a scream and Fraya slithered toward the door with surprising agility cursing Dio in Outer Rim Huttese.


Since Dio was then high as usual, he bellowed at her, "Stupid little princess!"


"Don't count on it, slimeball!" She answered.


This had been a taxing day for the elder princess, which happened a few days ago. Furthermore, she had been upset and missed her panther because it was recently choked accidently by one of her lazy and pedantic servitors, and she also had had a few arguments with some of the Wookies and Tusken Raiders; not to mention a few other arguments with nearby, snooty, nasty, and sometimes highly obscene and moody, Outer Rim Hutts who were now laughing at her.


She had retired and hid for many standard days at her flower-shaped palace, the Singing Petal, in the Outer Rim Hutt Zone. She knew things would never be the same for her, and she fell into a small depression.


Gad, an unidentified lizard-like alien and also a journeyman Dark Side Adept had observed this event in the shadows outside Zyclan's tower with her fringe Sith Adept human companion Ris.


"So it begins," whispered Ris.


"Yesss, our leader is very cunning," replied Gad in quiet tones with her forked tongue.


"One day I shall be in charge," he swore in barely auditory tones.


Gad had then ignited her yellow lightsaber, and with Sith precision, cut off his head in one quick stroke.


"No one alters the plan," she had uttered, but then she knew that she had exposed herself in the shadows near Zyclan's Tower. She quickly turned off her weapon, grabbed Ris' lightsaber, and hugged the shade as much as she could, and then she jumped off the rusty grid, falling a hundred Imperial meters before she used the Force to cushion her fall on another less-populated grid. She knew her master would make her pay.


Gad, hanging upside down in their hideaway, barely survived Darth Eclectic's torture sessions; after she used as much Force power as she could muster to heal herself until the latest dark side commune had taken place. Her healing only came very slowly.


***


As the Smugglers' Moon was bathed in Nal Hutta's shadow, Fett payed Drulas, a local lowlife Gran, to plant the rumor that Fett's ship has been having heavy repairs and was not up to full power, and also to make sure Roark Garnet heard about it. Roark was an aging smuggler popular in his time, before the Empire; now well past middle-age, who was aching to retire rich in Corellia. Roark had some close calls with the Imperials in the past and the present, and was keeping a low profile, and why he had pissed off Qdor, Boba Fett didn't know, and he didn't care enough to use Slave I for his new mind probe again.


He also paid a Rover Pirate Sister, who befriended Roark, and who was an energetic part-time dancer, to confirm the rumor at an opportune time to him. He also paid the aides and mechanics at the Qdor's bay to do the same if anybody asked.


As he was leaving Qdor's bay, a long haired young son of a rich retired Corellian smuggler sped dangerously close to Boba Fett on a stylish speeder bike. Fett considered firing a wrist rocket at him; however, there were a few elite-strength Imperial Stormtroopers positioned strategically in the area patrolling, and he didn't want piss off the Imperials this time.


Fett cradled his gun like a child. He had another plan.


Fett then ordered one of his Imperial probe droids to hack into the Roark Garnet's garage undetected, near the Kitt, and plant three high-grade thermal detonators on the backside of the Garnet's ship, the Millennial Beauty, near the ion drives and stay hidden close by in the shadows to observe the semi-retired smuggler.


Boba Fett then blasted off to his new domicile. He decided to catch a few days of sleep.


***


A few days later, Boba Fett was woken by some commotion outside. He looked through the shaded screen in his abode and there was thick smoke. The young speeder racer had collided with a mass transit blue cargo transport hauler which then caused a bigger crash among the heavy traffic; Fett learned after a quick scan on the Imperial HoloNet. He donned his helmet and gear, and the upgraded ancient Mandalorian armour.


Fett exited the building, a small seven-level squat-like structure, but which still rose above most of the grid. He had wired the place with heavy security, and most of the locals knew not to tangle with a master bounty hunter with a fearsome reputation.


Boba Fett headed for the Kurd-Avnian Alehouse, a drinking hole and holobar that Roark liked to frequent. There were outlandish holojector dancers and satirical music playing inside. Roark Garnet, a gray bearded, rather portly, well-dressed man sat languidly around a round table. He was losing a holo game. Fett approached him and looked down at him.


"You've gained weight captain Roark."


"Fett you never had a mother, blow me," said Roark in a humorist tone, as he sipped his favorite Corellian rotgut.


"Captain Garnet, how about a duel? Slave versus the Beauty in sector C, above the Moon?"


"Blow me Fett."


"Call this when you get sober Garnet," Boba Fett threw a one-way transmitter on the round table. Fett saw no point in staying and left.


A few hours later, Roark Garnet called Fett through the transmitter, "I'll eat your skin through my teeth."


He went into Millennial Beauty's bridge and started then ion engines. He was laughing to himself knowing for certain Boba Fett's Slave I was in bad shape, and Boba Fett was running out of credits and couldn't afford repairs. Garnet's starship lifted upwards high above the grids and cities of Nar Shaddaa.


"Pulverize Slave," ordered Boba Fett tracking him onboard Slave I to the ship's computer which detonated the thermals by remote blowing up the area around the Beauty's ion drives.

The power cells of the ion engines ignited with a spectacular fireball, the Millennial Beauty exploded into smithereens, and junk flew everywhere falling on the spaceport moon below.


Boba Fett then ordered one of his hovering servitor droids to pick up a fallen debris piece and deliver it to him. Fett had the droid choose one that he could carry easily, but that still looked like a part of the deceased smuggler's stock light freighter.


With that piece of the wreckage in one of Slave I's smaller cargo holds, Boba Fett flew past the Smuggler's Moon inactive shields to Nal Hutta to rendezvous with Qdor the Hutt.


Shortly, Fett gently landed Slave I near Qdor the Hutt's small palace on Nal Hutta in a dock for visitors.


He left his ship's ramp, carrying the piece of Roark Garnet's stock light freighter in his left hand. Nearby and coincidently, the young adult Qdor was on a fancy litter carried by a large group of his aides. They had shaved heads, and Fett assumed they were eunuchs. Boba Fett walked slowly toward the group.


"You've gained weight Qdor," stated Boba Fett.


"It is a pleasure to take a Hutt compliment from you Boba Fett," replied Qdor who had been gorging obsessively since last time he saw Fett.


Boba Fett threw the small piece of the wreckage of the Millennial Beauty gently near the Hutt.


"Captain Garnet," said Fett.


"Jabba always pays me," he added quietly.


"Good, good Fett, but we didn't shake hands, and this base idiocy bores me, my pit has been making my tail itch, and I grow hungry, move on!" he bawled to his servants.


Qdor's entourage made their way past Boba Fett carrying the now massive and bulky Hutt.


"You'll pay for this Qdor," declared Boba Fett to the wind on the Hutt home world.


***


Boba Fett was watching some dancing girls at the Slag Pit. Irain promised to meet at the Tray later, Gudor's fancy Mos Eisley replica cantina in the Kitt. After a time, Fett was approached by Drulas the Gran.


"I like that Jaceas girl," he specified to Fett, trying at small talk.


"Get to the point Drul," Fett replied.


"Zyclan wants to talk," Drulas defined.


"Why would he send you?"


"He thought a quiet message was better," explained Drulas.


"Scat messenger, I may call for you."


Drulas left the establishment in a hurry. Fett continued to watch the girls for a while and then headed for Slave I parked in his private garage.


He ordered Slave I to lower the ramp by transmission and made his way to the bridge past his ship's six cargo holds and holding cells, a part-time home to so many bounties. Fett entered the bridge and stood aloof, fully armed.


"Slave, call Zyclan on Nal Hutta," Boba Fett commanded.


After a moment, Zyclan the Hutt materialized in hologramatic form. It was unusually solid and clear.


"Dae wonna wonga Fett," muttered Zyclan, looking a tad nervous.


"Da chuta Zyclan ‘Greetings, what is it'?" answered Fett, even slower than usual.


"I need your help, a good amount of—," began the Hutt.


"Sorry Zyclan, I'm too busy; you didn't pay on time last time, Jabba always pays," crooned Fett.


"Fett you're the best, the best, I need your help, princess Fra—," the Hutt was interrupted again.


"I don't care if she survives."


"She flirted with me once," Fett added chuckling to himself.


"This is no time for laughing matters Fett, they threw her dead panther on my monument, oh Blessed Sarlacc...Oily and Grim don't want to help me and—."


"You don't pay on time Zyclan, and the Knaves are too busy in the flesh pits as usual."


"I can get the percentages flowing again Fett, I can...Narooga and Grappa in the caste are pressuring me to do it, those damn lazy smugglers are holding back like usual Fett, and the Corellians are high o—," uttered the chunky and aging Hutt.


"Yes, I am sure your pit is dark, and you have a tail rash," said Fett.


"I will call you when I have time Zyclan."


Boba Fett pressed a button to disengage the conversation. He then sent a one-way notification through his helmet for Irain to meet him at the Tray.


***


On the vertical city of Kitt, the Tray was packed; strange sonorous music was playing by a band of Ortolans on bizarre alien instruments. Irain sat quietly in a corner alone; her legs and arms were crossed. Boba Fett approached.


"What no Imperial class make-up?" spoke Boba Fett.


"Fett you chauvinistic pig," said Irain.


"You know I am not really like that baby," chuckled Fett quietly.


"I know Boba Fett I know."


"You ever been on Tatooine? The sunsrise—,"


"Those damn Neimoidians are pressuring the Toydarians and haggling like—,"


"Irain, Zyclan was bitching about Narooga your boss, is his floating palace as kinky as they say?"


"Get serious Fett, you've been there, I need safe passage to Quadratus Five."


"Slave I has the best cargo holds in the galaxy," laughed Fett.


A skinny serving Besalisk moved toward them, but Fett waved him away.


"I've seen him in Mos Eisley," he noted.


"Fett, I need to get suppoplar from the Zersaw holy mountain temple on Quad Five."


"It doesn't grow there, it is a myth, kind of like dead panthers," countered Fett smiling in his helmet.


"Boba, there is an engineer on imp boulevard who you should see and—,"


"You know I will take you to Quadratus Five, you can even sit on my lap," teased Fett in a subdued voice.


"I believe it," she flashed a smile, and rolled her eyes.


"What the weed or my lap?"


"The weed of course," she gleamed.


"Dr. Hodpod?"


"Fett that engineer has some new tech and," she said flatly.


"I'll pay the good doctor of engineering a visit."


"When do you want to go to Quad Five?" probed Fett.


"At night," she was referring to the Smuggler's Moon going into the shadow of Nal Hutta for a quick duration.


"Can you make it to the Undercity?"


"Quit kidding around Boba," she requested.


"You know I'll choose a discrete pick up and take off."


"Okay Fett, passage to Quadratus Five onboard Slave I," she agreed.


***


Fett was now almost broke. He had paid a lot to Dr. Hodpod the engineer in a secret rendezvous on Imperial Boulevard for a secret deal for more new technology. After Boba Fett acquired the secret new tech, he named this project "Satellite Ring Rain", and decided now that he could not use his mind probe for a long while; he had wanted to scan Irain's mind for fun, but this new project would require a lot of the ship's resources and very heavy upgrades, and he could not make it all work with a good balance of the ship's resources and hardware. He began to work steadily shortly after purchasing the new specifications, and began to make the necessary and complicated modifications to Slave I's four Kuat X-F-16 power generators, computers, hardware, and circuits.


***


Irain secretly hated Narooga the Hutt, her boss at the Imperial university academy, but she was usually nice to him despite his savage, vicious, and powerful cruelty, which come out in very subtle ways. She was bitter after many years of being in his service, and used her Zersaw chanting as a way of coping. She also liked Boba Fett as a very pleasant diversion from her work. She considered Narooga spoiled since he inherited his wealth, and she suspected rightly his credits and cash were thinning out.


She had met Fett at the Slag Pit; Boba Fett, who was watching the dancing girls, approached her and started an intelligent conversation, which surprised her. Boba Fett didn't drink which also surprised her. She was hooked after that.


Boba Fett, a totally ruthless master of his profession, could mimic a deep humanity. Somehow they found a connection that worked for them both.


Irain, after she survived Alderaan by chance, got into some bad Imperial trouble, and she was tortured a bit by them, they had crucified her for a time, and she still had a mild but painful, non-contagious skin disease from that experience, and she knew lately through her research that the semi-mythical suppoplar plant could create a very rare compound that would heal her completely.


She had taken a leave off work, but was niffed that Boba Fett was spending time working on his new project and making changes to his ship's hardware and computer systems. She wanted to go to Quadratus Five as soon as possible, but Boba Fett didn't contact her yet. She waited impatiently in her home in the Outer Rim Hutt Zone near a busy spaceport facility; most days she hated her place and couldn't wait to leave, the Outer Rim Hutts there made it unbearable for her sometimes, since they had always hated, mocked, and provoked each other sometimes in slight, and no so slight ways. The smell there was also excruciating, piercing, and rancid since there was a nearby incinerator and waste disposal facility by the spaceport. But Irain had a sharp intelligence and the academia was only like a game for her; she knew Boba Fett would contact her soon. She had already begun to miss him.


***


Jaceas loved dancing at the rough Slag Pit. And she loved Zersaw, her favorite quote from the Book of Zersaw was: "Thou shalt roger steadily all things, graven and un-graven". In times barely remembered, Zersaw the Hutt had been a fanatical spice addict who made a three year pilgrimage to Tatooine, and after wandering in the desert, started an obscure cult, and then popular religion. His consort had been Mir the princess, also known as Mir the Loose or Louse. There was a commune of Mir on Nal Hutta and Quadratus Five and some Outer Rim and Mid Rim planets. His other philosophy was sometimes both half-baked, yet mildly profound, but his religion was popular in the galaxy since the additions in the Book of Zersaw by later acolytes and clerics had made the ancient book more appealing. Jaceas didn't pay attention to the ‘soft' stuff.


The Slag Pit was owned by Ikan-dor, a Gamorrean who spoke good Basic. He was affectionately called by the steadies and regulars: the King of Pigs.


A few Brother Knaves, an unpleasant fraternal order of miscreants, smugglers, pimps, spice dealers, and other riff raff and popular scum on the Vertical City, and a few members of the secret Slavers Guild, who supplied the Hutts—it was rumored the capital city on Glorious Jewel, as the Hutts called Nal Hutta, had twenty thousand eunuchs—lounged and drank heavily at the Slag Pit, and also few Wookies, who liked to loaf at Zyclan's tower, were present here some days ago. The Slavers had semi-ties to the Rebel Alliance fighting the bitter and long rebellion against Imperial forces and were mostly former Battle of Hoth veterans who had taken up slaving as a trade, and had given up the fiery Rebel cause.


The members of these groups had enjoyed watching the energetic dancing Jaceas who was a bit high on what stim Ikan-dor liked to sell from his secret stash.


At the climax of the dance, she shouted, "Who was the greatest slayer in the galaxy!?"


What then began as a mild raucous, quickly turned into a free for all brawl. The place was being quickly and massively trashed, as the mauling veteran Wookies declared a crusade against their enemies. The Imperials had quickly moved in, took a heavy bashing, and started hauling away, who they could. The brawling, kicking, biting, and gouging had lasted for an hour or more. The Imperials were kept at bay with by Wookie bowcaster fire and debris.


Afterwards, tempers flared for many standard days and more. Blaster fire sometimes whizzed dangerously close to a random passerby or suspected past participants in the brawl.


The Sith spy creature had observed this clash at the Slag Pit while skulking nearby, and, in haste after, went to Imperial Boulevard to report to Darth Eclectic.


He walked past the Wampa vines decorating this part of the central area of Imperial Boulevard; the Toydarians who he had considered and haggled with refused to spy on Boba Fett; they instead had found religion, the Bantha Cult, another odd and peculiar religion from Tatooine that worshipped Banthas as sacred creatures, and whose matriarchically run acolytes made periodic and covert sacrifices, like creatures and other victims, to the Sarlacc Pit. The squatting Toydarians were buzzing around the tall vines and were shouting rough and heady obscenities at the spy creature.


However, a few days ago, he had managed to convince and pay two male Toydarians to sneak and fly into Fraya's palace and steal her dead panther, which she planned to have stuffed by an Imperial taxidermist. The dead panther was now rotting on Zyclan's new monument on Imperial Boulevard.


The creature entered the Bespin café, a salon in the medical quarter that was empty at these hours, Darth Eclectic sat there; he would wipe the memory of those who worked there anyway, since they had weak minds dedicated to serving the Empire, in all its forms.


"Spare me your failure Sleepo."


"Master there are going ons in the Corellian sector."


"I do not care Sleepo."


"Master, I live to serve."


"Fraya did not go on her vacation to Quad Five as we had planned; now I must to go to Nal Hutta with the Adepts since that is the best place to snare the Hated One, since our plan to lure him to Quadratus Five failed, the princess is too fickle."


"What has the hated bounty hunter been doing Sleepo?"


"I do not know master, he seems to evade my moves, and the Bantha addicts refuse everything and they resist your skills."


"We used the last of our funds to bribe the princess's servants, and those two Toydarians to steal it, and the gambling here is all electronic, so my skills, Sleepo, do not work. All the damned locals are too close to their credits to use my power effectively."


"Master, I beg forgiveness."


"I will send Szabla the Mad and Oydora the Corellian to spy on the Hated One."


"It is well no one had seen Gad's execution, strive harder, or you will suffer what she suffered. This is the only place in the Boulevard that doesn't have a smell. If the Toydarians move here, I will Force choke them, one at a time."


***


Presently, Boba Fett was still making heavy modifications to Slave I's main computer, when one of his Imperial probe droids alerted him of Sith presence in the area. Outside, there was thick fog and steam hissing from the lower levels.


"My first hand on the Dark Sider scum," he uttered.


He walked out of the garage and made it look like he was headed for a loading dock. Szabla and Oydora were hiding close by at different locations, and noticed him through the fog.


"He's headed for the dock," transmitted Szabla to Oydora. "Wait...he disappeared."


"I'll move in," said Oydora.


"Wait," She repeated.


"Oydora? Hey Oydora?"


Two Imperial probe droids lifted upward from their hidden places, and before the Dark Side Adepts could react, spat two virulent poisoned darts prepared by Irain lightning quick into their necks. This executed them instantly. Boba Fett, after the probe droids sent him confirmation of the kills, ordered them to dump the bodies of the dead Adepts on the other side of the Smuggler's Moon, low in the viaducts in the Undercity.


***


Interlude One: Boba Fett's War with the Bounty Hunter Guild.


Five standard months ago, Boba Fett's war with the Bounty Hunter Guild began when Fett decided he only wanted to be a fringe member of the Guild, and did not want to be their Grandmaster. This slight angered the Guild who pronounced bounty on Fett. The Hutts washed their hands, seeing it as internal matter of the Guild, plus they had wanted to watch all the fun. After taking down a few lesser members, Fett skirmished heavily with some of the deadlier members like Bossk, who survived, and IG-88 and others, on various planets. The war started on Nar Shaddaa, and there was also some hard action on Tatooine with IG-88.


At the climax of the all fighting, Boba Fett used a ruse to entice some of the Guild members to a supposedly downed Imperial Corporate Sector treasury and spice hauler; he mimicked an Imperial distress beacon that was easily picked up by the Guild members, and duped some locals to pilot an Imperial hauler that was abandoned in an asteroid belt and spruced up by Fett to make it look like the real thing. After he caused to hauler to crash, he used fancy holojectors to mimic distressed Imperials and Stormtroopers.


Numerous bounty hunters sped to the remote uninhabited planet, which was on a long Imperial route, and fought amongst themselves on the surface of the unnamed planet in a massive and large pitched battle motivated by such a juicy prize. The survivors then made for the ship with Boba Fett, who had been fighting as well, but then concealed himself in haste, stripped his armour, put on a disguise with odd weapons, and as the rest rushed into the fallen Imperial hauler that was loaded and trapped with Imperial grade thermals, he dusted them with the thermals and stun grenades. After that body count, the Guild sued for peace.


***


Now, at Zyclan's Tower it was another particularly low day, lower even then most: the Tanga Six immigrants connected to the local Outer Rim Hutt Cartel, and became black marketeers selling imitation hosiri and other stims to the usual loafers and local clientele. They were all getting high and complaining as always. The highs were getting worse and worse with each passing standard day.


The Zyclan Tower Wookies were still simmering after the brawl at the Slag Pit. They had vowed a crusade and quick revenge, met in circles and howled in their Wookie slang, wanting the blood of their declared enemies. They didn't care about any Imperial repercussions, and again a few of them got into a few scraps with the Tanga Six immigrants, who they thought were cheating them on the cheap stims since their tempers were boiling. These fights only produced a few nasty scars and few lost limbs.


So far there was no major Imperial trouble. And no one had paid any attention to the Imperial HoloNet for days. However, there was another big clash at the Burning Deck, a bar even rougher than the Slag Pit, near the Central Corellian Sector, the veteran Slavers and Wookies were bashing each other, someone had thrown a sonic grenade, and blaster fire was heavily traded for a long time with thick smoke everywhere; Karr and her sister Kar, two sad and lonely fat Besalisks who served there, just barely within inches escaped the zipping hot laser fire, but even sometimes novel weapons were brought into the fray like, stun discharges, bowcasters, and blades of all types, and the Imperials moved in again to subdue the berserkers and bad street brawlers. They also took another bashing and their tempers also began to rise.


Many groups like these that dealt with Imperial jurisdiction on a regular basis knew how to be elusive and stay hidden, but most of the time their luck also ran out. Some escaped, some were sent to penal slave colonies in the Mid Rim.


On the same day, Dr. Hodpod, who had been flashing a bit of money around, was invited by Narooga, a wealthy Hutt and an old associate of Zyclan, to his Tower. Narooga was Irain's boss at the academy on Imperial Boulevard; he liked to dabble in horticulture, as a pastime and hobby. He was granted an honorary doctorate by the academy; he partly bribed his way in and had been involved with the academy since the Empire began. Narooga had a reputation for being sadistic and cruel, even among the Outer Rim Hutts who were also sadistic and cruel like most Hutts, except a few like Zeldarra the new bounty hunter who recently joined the Bounty Hunter Guild on Nar Shaddaa, and who was still on his gruelling tour of duty on the Hutt home world, sweating in the deserts and wastelands on a wild goose chase.


Dr. Hodpod, a skinny, dedicated Imperial researcher and engineer, fancied a change of pace from the monotonous and boring academy, so he accepted Narooga's offer most greedily.


Narooga gave him an exotic dinner and offered him hosiri and other spice from his very private stash, Hodpod after his hosiri high, gorged on the other stims; he was really enjoying himself, but he managed to be familiar with a Wookie who nearly mauled him quite badly, and if it wasn't for Narooga's quick bodyguards he would have been in a Bacta tank for weeks. Hodpod didn't care, and his Hutt host invited him to his floating palace on Nal Hutta with plans to make Hodpod disappear in his trapdoor that dropped the victim from the stratosphere, no one ever survived.


Irain secretly talked Narooga into it, so there would be no trace of Fett's new purchase. It took a lot out of her, but she could be persuasive.


A few days ago, the elder Zyclan was growing more desperate and paranoid with almost each passing moment. He was very nervous now, and suspected everyone was against him, including his cousin Zyate. To make matters worse, recently somehow his pet red Krayt Dragon, named Sandi, on Nal Hutta broke his chains and escaped into the desert. He decided to play his last card, or his almost last card. He called Narooga the Hutt.


"Most illustrious Narooga..." he began as the hologram connection was made.


"Tsk, tsk," said Narooga.


"Okay, I need funding for..." he started again.


"Tsk, tsk," repeated Narooga in a delicate tone.


"Look we both know I am in trouble, we've had good times with my pet Krayt dragon and with the Sarlacc Pit on blessed Tatooine, we... well look Narooga," he knew Narooga wouldn't help him.


"Tsk and tsk, but Zyclan..."


"Of course, of course my dear Hutt brother among the blessed cartel!" stated Zyclan.


"I want to use the Tower to trap that snivelling Dr. Hodpod, and I knew you would be calling sooner or later," replied Narooga.


Qdor suddenly joined the conversation by the HoloNet.


"Aaa, my Hutt brothers among the great, great cartel, blessings and salutations," Qdor began.


"You are so round brother," interrupted Zyclan with a traditional Hutt compliment.


"Mmm, mm, well, yes, Zyclan, you think I've been too thin in the past?" he said through his large nostrils.


"Shut up, don't be fools, my brothers, let us deal proper now. We all know Zyclan's rep is about as popular as Wampa chow, but I will spare a few credits for him, as we just had agreed; the missing Fraya can rot like her panther for all I care, but I have my consideration here," Narooga said in a brisk and nascent tone.


"Wellll, yes, Narooga the Great, Narooga the Floater, but can you see me now? Narooga you are Wampa chow as well, since that last time you and Zyclan didn't invite me to the sacrifices to his stinking Krayt, and I did hear, it was a rousingly good, a very good roar indeed. I will feed you to him Narooga; you may see it, mmm, mmm?"


"Tsk, you insect on the buttock of a Gamorrean tramp," answered Narooga not even looking at him.


"We shall see Floater, we shall see, mmmmmm?" Qdor added and then vanished.


"Ignore him Narooga, he's young and you remember how we were when first—," began Zyclan.


"Spare me your sentiments Zyclan, I will send the credits in spice form," he stated.


"Wait dear, dear brother of the cartel! You know those damned Corellian smug—," bellowed Zyclan, but Narooga was already gone. Zyclan was still nervous about everything, but a little amused despite his colossal problems and disappearing and diminishing reputation.


Currently, Fraya the Hutt princess was still nowhere to be seen. Most of the loafers and Outer Rim Hutts didn't care much about that. Zyclan was still very nervous about it however, but he knew Boba Fett would contact him sooner or later. Zyclan had already mustered all his resources to find her, but even the journeyman bounty hunters who he had employed for the task were spinning him fancy stories and leads since he was paying them so cheap.


Zyclan was quickly losing his prestige among the Hutt cartel and the Outer Rim Hutts were making fun him in very indirect ways, they even sent anonymous nasty and mocking and serious death threats to Zyclan and his cousin Zyate. For fun, they paid some of the lazy Hutt servants, and Hutt servants are always lazy or become so after a time just like the Hutts, to make some of Zyclan's and Zyate's pets disappear. This is the kind of thing the dwellers on the Smuggler's Moon like to do to pass the time in one of the worst outhouses of the galaxy, metaphorically speaking. The smell was huge these days in almost all the sectors.


Bordella the Hutt, another aging Hutt princess who was especially nasty among their kind yet sweet talking, everyone saw through her and despised her, had just come back from a trip to tour the remains of Alderaan. She thought it would cheer her usual and constant boredom. She was being ignored like most days, so she decided to try to seduce Narooga, who after numerous hints invited her to his floating palace on Nal Hutta. He saw through her and wasn't interested, but he sent her a fancy Huttese fan to lure her.


She was so bored that she decided to go despite the rather quick offer, which was very rare among Hutts, unless they felt like it. She had wanted to smoke some good hosiri for a long time anyway.


Narooga, who knew his horticulture, decided to douse the hosiri she would smoke with something very special. He wanted her to have a permanent hallucination that she was a female Bantha in heat. He first consulted the top echelon of the Outer Rim Hutt cartel who readily agreed for the permanent brain damage the special concoction would cause.


The top Outer Rim Hutts decided to send Mordella the Hutt and her twin brother Tordella, to observe the events about to transpire. Both were highly snooty and resented to play as recorders, but decided in the end it would be good fun since Narooga's floating palace was luxuriously obscene even by their standards. They secretly hated one another for past snubs and cruel jokes, but they still had a kind of family tradition to stomach one another and put a good showing for everyone around them.


They wanted to send a gift to Narooga for his invitation to mask that they were not mere recorders of the events about to transpire, but they were also low on funds from recent projects to allow more prestige among the Outer Rim Hutt stratum. They weren't really succeeding.


So the gig went down like this: Bordella first arrived and was graciously greeted by the amused Narooga and later Dr. Hodpod and then the snooty twin Hutts. After a feast, thirteen courses of very highly mysterious and exceptional Hutt grub sprinkled with gems and dancing and gladiator duels between some Tanga Six immigrants from around Zyclan's Tower and some formidable Wookies with vibroblades and Gamorrean axes, various expensive flower petals from every corner of the galaxy rained down from the ceiling. Everyone was smoking the best Hosiri on Nar Shaddaa, and Narooga decided at the feast in secret to order and douse Hodpod's hosiri with the same concoction as Bordella's hosiri serving. They all soon got so high they didn't even remember the blood that was spilled on the floor and cadavers—Narooga bribed the corrupt Imperial officials on the Vertical City to get away with the duels. Everyone except Narooga was highly stoned and in good spirits when the expected effect in the special hosiri kicked in. Hodpod first became delirious and started drooling on Bordella who smacked him in disdain; she the stopped and started drooling on Hodpod who then started rolling around in the floor, shouting, "Charging Bantha, charging Bantha, oh Bantha, oh Bantha!" He ran over to Mordella who licked him wickedly with her large tongue while Tordella pushed him away. Bordella was swooning thinking she was now a Bantha, the effect took longer for her Hutt mind then for Hodpod, but she fainted shortly after, or so it seemed to the guests who lost track of time, clutching the fan Narooga gave her. Her tongue was out, and she was drooling quite badly. Two of her molars had also fallen out.


Hodpod, totally delirious, slowly and clumsily walked on top of the secret trap door and was promptly ejected to the depths below. The guests and other entourages then retired to Narooga's private garden shaped like a fan.


Tordella sent a message to the top Outer Rims Hutts that all went well and that everything was good; he was pleased since he hated Bordella for past slights.


The top Outer Rim Hutt echelon decided they would use the new Bordella in their palaces and at Zyclan's Tower to haul moderate loads, like packs of hosiri. Tordella also commissioned an artist of Narooga's to paint Bordella's portrait while she was in her current fainted and drooling state for his personal collection.


***


On Imperial Boulevard, after a few standard days the Imperials who worked there and mostly lazed around were highly bored, they had noticed that Hodpod disappeared mysteriously, but they assumed that he managed to scrape enough credits, and by some smugglers escaped and retired to Tanga Six, since he was always talking about it.


Presently, it was raining acid rain on that part of the Vertical City, a rare occasion on Nar Shaddaa; lightning danced on top and around the Sarlacc monument.


Since the Imperials were even more bored than usual, a Dr. Brainiac, a researcher into galactic particles, suggested that they build and commission a subatomic particle accelerator, under and near, the Sarlacc Pit monument. It was approved with Neimoidian funding, and droid construction began very quickly, very unusual in that sector.


***


For a long while now, Darth Eclectic and his fringe group of Sith worshippers had spied on Fraya and followed her by Sleepo, and whoever they could bribe or Force trick into doing it. The tall and blond Eclectic wanted her to bait Boba Fett on Quadratus Five through Zyclan, since she looked like she had deep connections among the Hutt cartel, however these were only superficial, and only Zyclan and Zyate tolerated her; they kept her around for their own prestige since she was family, and they didn't want their reputations tarnished in any way among the Hutt cartel.


Now, him and his three remaining dark side Adept followers, who sat tailor-fashion before him with their eyes closed in deep concentration, communed with him telepathically through the dark side of the Force.

"We have paid a heavy price for our mistakes," intoned Eclectic in their minds, and ignited his pink lightsaber holding it like some ancient Jedi knight of old in prayer and meditation.

"We must get new members on Glorious Jewel, I know of a place, a Sith place..."


"We are one!" they replied.


"Darth Bane was a fool! We do not need a rule of two; we shall have a battalion of Adepts and Sith Lords. We shall overcome all, when we perfect our skills and our control and sense and alter of the dark side through the Long Path of the ancient Sith lords, we have been born by destiny; the dark side has chosen us to sift the weak; we have roles to play in this dung galaxy."


"We shall always be one!" they replied.


The rest of the Adepts ignited their lightsabers in the dark space of their hideaway, a yellow, purple, and red one mixing with the pink glow.


Eclectic knew he had failed to lure Fraya to Quadratus Five, where he had wanted to trap Fett in the desert with his group and a contact he had named Drayonn. Drayonn was the leader of a brutal and deeply devoted gang of crazy and vile Tusken Raiders who eked out a living on the desert fringes of Quadratus Five in near unlivable conditions. Drayonn had deep and arcane delusions that he was a mythical Tatooine Desert Vampire, and before he moved to Quadratus Five with his hardened gang, he genetically modified his teeth, face, and body on Nar Shaddaa to match, as much possible, the nefarious creature of legend. He liked to drink blood and pierce his victims with his very pointy teeth. He still had contacts with the Tusken Raiders who loitered and lazed around at Zyclan's Tower on the spaceport moon of Nar Shaddaa.


Long ago, Darth Eclectic managed to meet Drayonn's band on Quadratus Five, and used a Force mind trick on Drayonn to suggest that Eclectic was also a Tatooine Desert Vampire, like Drayonn had always believed himself to be. Darth Eclectic, who had some Sith tattoos in red, looked and played the part; it came naturally to him. He was so amused by the gaunt Tusken, that he started drinking the blood of some of his Sith female followers from that time, like Oydora and Szabla the Mad. This meeting happened a long time ago when the fringe Sith Adepts first eked out their struggles and sought out their basic meditation skills in the Southern desert of Quadratus Five.


All his plans for the time being were foiled. But many days ago, Darth Eclectic went on with the main part of his plans to kidnap the aging Hutt princess while she was sleeping with his three remaining followers. He still had not told his followers his main plan, but besides getting even with Boba Fett, he had something else in mind.

That night, the princess had been sweating all day at her palace since it was unusually hot because her unkind servants messed with the heating system, and the princess retired early to her bed on one of the upper-floors. The Sith Adept group, filled with anger at all their recent failures—and camouflaged in ancient Sith black stalking-uniforms that played with the shadows a bit through alchemical links to dark side of the Force—snuck into the Fraya's flower-shaped small palace, the Singing Petal, in the Outer Rim Hutt Zone, as the brief night fell on Nar Shaddaa as the moon went into Nal Hutta's shadow. They used a lot of dark side mind tricks to subdue almost everyone they encountered, mostly Fraya's lazy servants and a few unarmed lazy bodyguards. The three remainder of the group led by Eclectic were all armed to the full with various cunning gear and exotic gear, but had a hard time navigating their way to find the princess.


Darth Eclectic was losing his patience, but remained silent, as he ordered the group to split and search the various corners and crannies of the confusing palace.


They had parked their starship, an ancient Corellian hauler, and a barely moving hunk of junk they named the Darkness Beyond Death, nearby in a Gran facility they had subdued with the Force and garrotted, like the servants in the palace. The streets had been mostly empty then, as the locals and neighbors retired to their stims, pits, HoloNets, cults, and other habits and cravings like on every other night in Nar Shaddaa.

Coincidently, Drulas the Gran had observed one or two of them going into the Singing Petal palace. But he decided to ignore them and left to feast on some Tanga Six barbeque meats and special pies, even at this late hour. Drulas always had a huge appetite.


Fraya had been unable to sleep all night for many days despite medication, which were now turning into weeks.


Now, she had slithered away slowly to her favorite levorotary pit. Just as she was about to enter, Gad in her black Sith disguise, tried to zap her with a Force mind trick and then threw a poisoned sleeping dart, yet Fraya was oblivious to both, the dart stuck in her neck to no effect as she urinated in the levorotary hole.


Gad, hidden in the dim lighting, in anger reached out and lifter her with the Force. Fraya, as she was being lifted into the air, being to holler like possessed, and as she was being levitated bumped her head smartly on the doorway ceiling, and then she dropped quickly bashing her large bottom as Gad could not maintain proper concentration. The floor was covered with urine and so was the Hutt princess.


"SSShe is too, too damned heavy I cannot lift her alone!" quietly barked Gad who had been using synthetic stimulants to keep herself going after Darth Eclectic's tortures.


Darth Eclectic and the rest two of the group rushed in the room.


"You stupid weakling! Together now adepts of the great and holy Darkness!" bade Eclectic.


Together the fringe Sith Adepts and their leader focused into the Force to lift the heavy Hutt who had been eating more and more the last little while as way of coping with her low moods.


"Aaaaarr!" said Darth Trauma.


"Silence," commanded Darth Eclectic, "Concentrate Adepts!"


Soon the poor Hutt princess fainted, and the strange Sith group moved her with the Force into the Gran meat processing facility, and then into the Darkness Beyond Death unbeknownst to their unconscious or fallen victims, the facility Grans and Fraya's uncaring servants and bodyguards.


***


Presently, the short and small Maxella the Hutt, an actual descendant of Zersaw the Hutt prophet and religious founder of Zersawism, and despised by everyone, was secretly in love with Fraya the Hutt. He was also obsessed with strange mathematical formulas from the Book of Zersaw, and foretold an apocalyptic time for everyone on the Vertical City. He was astronomically vocal about his beliefs and hated for it by everyone at Zyclan's Tower, and also his condescending and arrogant personality.


Like the semi-mythical Zersaw, he was also quite vulgar and rude to everyone. He convinced himself through his numerical formulas that Fraya was destined to be with him and was his one true love, plus he thought she was hot. He had intelligence enough not present all this information to Fraya, and he missed her deeply and was languishing in sorrow, obsessed as ever with his formulas. He had a few credits tossed to him every standard day on the Vertical City, as he made a long, and sometimes repetitive, speeches with gestures for effect, near the Outer Rim Hutt sector; afterwards, he would gorge at a recently built Tanga Six pie shop, owned by the new smuggling immigrants from there; the place served bizarre pies made from strange spices, meats, and oils. He became highly addicted to them.


He knew times were good, and he also managed to convince himself he would become the Eternal Father of Zersaw, the holy patriarch of Zersawism whose headquarters was on level 1313 on the Imperial capital of Coruscant in the Galactic Core, far from Nar Shaddaa.


His one devotee, Katullus, a fat, balding, and stuck-up Corellian, who covertly loathed Maxella with a passion, but needed him for eating his pie leftovers at the new Tanga Six eatery, the Flying Grunge—

since he was addicted to the pies as well—fed Maxella's delusions and agreed superficially with everything he said.


Katullus kept telling Maxella that Fraya had a great mind, yet she had reputation for being dull, uninteresting, and dry amongst almost everyone. Katullus wanted to torment Maxella a bit.


He spent his days in obtuse wondering why the Smuggler's Moon didn't produce any starships; he figured it was because the denizens would make poor workers. He recently discovered something appalling: at the Tray they were serving ground Bantha dung into some of the dishes, and also sometimes the ground skin of some the surrounding neighbours from the Katt sector; he didn't want to imagine how Gudor the Hutt really collected it. He was too worried about himself and since he had a large list of enemies that wanted to get him for past affronts, he didn't want to end up floating in the viaducts, but he was secretly a strong masochist, and he did want to end up in the viaducts subconsciously. He had to resist strongly and would sweat and force himself not to offer his skin to the odious Hutt. He knew soon he would give into the temptation.


After eating his vast meal at the Flying Grunge, Maxella was depressed as ever for not seeing Fraya for so long. Katullus consoled him in a pedantic way, and then left for the Burning Deck to get drunk and watch the dance shows.


Dio the low-caste Hutt, who barely survived the mammoth brawling at the Slag Pit and hid for a long time in various low-life places, decided to seek out Katullus, for his current woes since he had been altered by Fraya at the genetic level by her fungus trap. He was deeply miserable and in painful anguish from lack of stim: no matter how much he used, it just failed to give him any pleasure or gratification.


Dio had also been disowned by his family, who were all chronically addicted to hosiri like him, ruled by Srio the Hutt for bothering them too much, Srio was the one who painted Bordella's portrait at Narooga's floating palace on Glorious Jewel, and he had constant elimination problems—his favorite painting pastime was to paint the sky over Nar Shaddaa in green and various shades of green. Dio had been irritating him a lot lately.


Ashra, his Twi'lek dancing girl wife who had very large breasts, and their son Oswaldy, a large and fat Hutt who always wanted to pilot a Star Destroyer, supported Srio in this matter, never talking to Dio again.


Srio had recently hired Merdon, an Imperial class plumber who had unceasing marriage problems and was tempted to join an offshoot Zersaw cult—even weirder then the main one, but couldn't stand the chanting and the bizarre and eerie practices, to overhaul the sewage system in his very small palace on the Vertical City. Srio put his credits there instead of supporting an unwanted family member like Dio.


Thus, the bitter Dio sought out and met Katullus at the Burning Deck, which now had a semblance of order and was patrolled by Imperial stormtroopers and Gamorrean mercenaries as security guards. The music playing currently at the Burning Deck was a strange outlandish Neimoidian piece of shrill flutes, drums, and chanting.


"This place is really going to the Pits of Zersaw," said Dio in a depressed tone.

"Here, have a pie left-over, watch out for the spice, but the oil is good," said Katullus dryly.

"Damn! I can almost feel something again!" said Dio after the first bite.

"Give me more!" he exclaimed, after he finished the small portion.

"You work for me now," said Katullus with a whistle.

"You Kat? The Masochist of Zyclan's Outhouse Tower?" snorted Dio.

"Shut your gob, you poor excuse for a Hutt underling!" retorted Katullus.

"Okay, okay, I'll be good! What's the plan!? Those pies are damn good, mmm, by Zersaw's third nipple!" said Dio excitedly.

"Keep your voice down fool," said Katullus through clenched teeth, as a Gamorrean guard looked at them.


"Let us move outside brother, this music is not to my liking anyway, and the girls look like they fell off every tree on Kashyyyk," suggested Dio.


"Yes, indeed," stated Katullus.


They made their way past some glowering regulars who still hanged around despite the obvious and subdued downgrade. A few of the Slavers noticed them, but they were deep in their rotgut inebriation.


They breathed the stench of the outside, if it could be called that. Nar Shaddaa was still not sprayed with ozone to freshen the planetoid, despite recent promises by the Imperial governor on the HoloNet and holo-ad billboards. His smiling face was hated by even the local diehard Imperials.


Traffic was heavy and noisy like usual.

A few Twi'leks, male and female, were loitering nearby. One had a vibroblade in his or her hand. Maxella couldn't tell if it was a female or a male that held it. So they walked past in silence, and made for an alley.


"What Kat, you expect...?" said Dio.


"Don't be a fool, you are not my kissing type," retorted Katullus.

"Well, what's the plan?" said Dio flatly.


"I don't know yet, you begging underling Hutt offshoot," said Katullus in anger.

"Great, just great, I need more pies by Mir the Louse's illustrious box!" said Dio.

"When I gather information, I'll send Drulas to find you, you cynical scum," said Katullus.

"You're one to talk, charmer," said Dio, "All right, I shall await thy summons, oh great prince," snorted Dio and slithered away, despite his Hutt bulk, which had thinned considerably the last little while.


***


Nine standard days ago, Fraya was gagged and hogtied in the middle deck of the Darkness Beyond Death. She was sweating in the sweltering heat of the ancient starship and the fact that she was still covered with urine did not help anyone. The fringe Sith group ignored her unceasing moans.


Gad wanted to do her in then and there, but fear of Darth Eclectic kept her in line.


"Soon we will arrive on Glorious Jewel, and I can breathe fresh air, not this stinking heat, which is worse than on the Vertical City," said Darth Trauma, a usual complainer of the group, despite being highly skilled in the sadistic arts, even more than Darth Eclectic.


"Yeah, geniusss, and how hot do you think the Hutt home world isss?" said Gad through her haze of stim.


"Not to a filthy lizard like you I am sure," said Trauma.


Gad was about to Force choke him, but controlled herself.


"What maybe they should call you Sssunrider geniusss, and you can convert to the light side of Force!" said Gad.


"Blow me lizard face," said Darth Trauma, "Ris was a freak and weakling, you don't frighten me."


"Oh?" snorted Gad.


Darth Eclectic walked into the middle deck of the Darkness Beyond Death and the two Sith tensed slightly.


"Our plan is moving along, do not lose heart my followers of the Great Darkness," he started, "We go now to an ancient place of pow—"


Suddenly the ship's klaxon went off.


"We're losing power!" yelled the pilot from the bridge, Dramatis the Black.


The three surviving Sith followers and Darth Eclectic made their way to the emergency seats and strapped in.


"We are strong in the Force adepts!" said Eclectic, as the ship began losing power exponentially just as the Darkness Beyond Death entered the atmosphere of the Glorious Jewel, and was sucked by the planet's gravity.

Fraya was moaning even more loudly. The starship was rocking furiously and furiously and began to dive and rush through the atmosphere. Gad and Darth Trauma and Fraya passed out within a few moments.


Dramatis the Black kept initiating emergency procedures, and did his best to lock in the auxiliary power, but all he got for a result was a hallow whine which was reverberating through out all the decks of the Darkness.


So after a steady and rocky decent, lasting a few moments, the ancient hauler crashed into a sand dune on the ancient Hutt home world.


***


Chapter 2 — "Flights."


Boba Fett had immunized himself to most of the poisons in the galaxy by adapting his body to them with administrative doses, a long and time-consuming process that was still ongoing.


A few hours ago, he had his servitor droids sweep clean and polish Slave I's interior for Irain's passage to Quadratus Five, but he still ordered it mildly messy to keep up his charm as a nasty bounty hunter.


Presently, Slave I was in supralight speeds on route to Quad Five. The flight had been smooth so far.


Irain sat in a chair beside the unmasked Boba Fett in Slave I's cozy cockpit. His green eyes shined at her dark ones, and he smiled.


"Don't obfuscate Fett," said the comely Irain, as they had conversed for a while now.


"Funny, you do it all the time," answered Fett with a subtle grin.


"I need that plant," she said, "You had been making me wait a long time Fett, but I understand."


"Understand what? Herb doctor."


"That you have your ways," she answered mildly.


"But that you should be more considerate to your current girlfriend," she smiled, "You have a reputation after all. . ."


"It better be good, I aim to please," teased Fett making small a gun with his fingers and shooting it at her gently and slowly.


"Maybe I should stab you with my vibroblade Boba," she teased back.


"Naa, I am sure you will lose your grip," he added with a bigger grin.


"Like this," she approached him and blew in his face gently like summer wind.


"Reminds me of hellish Tatooine," he laughed, a rare occasion.


She put her arms around his neck.


"Can you give me a massage Fett? Your reputation is at stake," she whispered coyly.


He stood up and kissed her slowly, evenly, and passionately. He eased her down gently and began to massage her feet in slow, steady, and gentle yet soothing rhythms with his strong sensitive hands and then moved up to the more erogenous zone of her upper-legs and thighs.


***


Boba Fett felt good, and was in good spirits. He preferred this kind of experience to states of inebriation.

He lived for the hunt. He thought perhaps that Irain might be a keeper, for a while anyway. Why waste a good thing? Not that he considered her a thing in any way, quite the contrary. He just could never feel anything approaching love. He was simply brutally determined to succeed at all costs, no matter how much nastiness and death he caused, not that he had the cold heart of a Hutt cartel lord; he just saw things differently with a grim realism.


Maybe he was the last realist in the galaxy. He almost laughed when he thought this, okay no more sentiments, but at least I am not a droid like that flake IG-88, and that dog-faced Bossk. Maybe it is time to thin out the freaks, he mused.


As Grandmaster of the boorish Bounty Hunter Guild, there would have been restrictions, traditions, codes, etc. that would've crept on his substance and style.


The boorish Guild simply wanted to keep him down, perhaps there had been an Imperial motive, not Vader, he thought, but some other lowlifes in the great Imperial hierarchy.


I wonder what Palpatine does for fun, hmm...? Probably drinks that strong Alderaanian wine and has Vader dance for him, he laughed; those so-called Sith lords.


IG-88 won't get me with a sonic grenade next time thought Fett. He thought he might use IG's exoskeleton as a new servitor droid for Slave II. A nice addition to his collection, like his Wookie scalps and few odd skulls, to impress the Hutts, he thought.


Irain called to him from his sleeping quarters, and he didn't want to disappoint his reputation. He enjoyed her strong kisses.


***


"So that is what that is all about?" asked Irain as Fett sat working on the Slave I's navicomputer. They were still in supralight speeds. The swirl through the cockpit window was majestic. Boba Fett was now in full armour and armed.


"Yes, that is what the one they call Finn Galfridian said about Nar Shaddaa; he was basically saying that scum can never change, like me," he teased.


"But if you want to drop into formal philosophy, and get academic, which will bore you, no doubt," he paused for slight dramatic effect with his usual croon, "By the way, I am published on an academic journal the Imperial Legislator; I did it when I was sixteen, stating that philosophy of force is all consuming and can't be escaped, my early researches showed that a fireball is the best to deal with scum," he laughed gently in a few rapid grins, "I sometimes like a direct fire."


"Look at that screen, Slave call up article 4141 by Bobas Striker, my alias," he explained to Irain.


"Yeah Irain, so you've written a hundred now, but I did mine as a teenager, keep that hidden, just keep the other reputation going," he teased.


"The Imp academics are crazy anyway, nothing new for them to learn," he made the gun with his finger again, since he was in a light mood.


"Okay maybe enough teenage games," he added and commanded, "Quad Five is coming up soon, and we shall have to wait more for your vibroblade training."


Irain smiled, being trained by a ruthless and intelligent bounty hunter excited her.


"Say Boba—"


"Don't ask, I don't keep a kill count," he smiled under his helmet.


"You never wanted an heir?" she teased.


"Maybe," he retorted, "But not a green one."


"Bastard!" she joked.


"At least you get the double humor," he added, "Some of those dancing girls, well, hey Slave, play the latest Imperial march, and maybe after, a light composition by a Rebel composer, choose a random piece Slave" he ordered. Imperial class music filled the cockpit, but it was surprisingly light and airy like some parts of Coruscant; where Vader is not around thought Fett.


"Not my style" said Irain.


"Off course not, but I have a reputation to maintain as a boor and a nasty bounty hunter."


"Is that why there is stench onboard Slave I?"


"What!?"


Fett composed himself lightning-quick, and took off his helmet slowly and gently approached her.


"I am sure you secretly like it."


***


The navi comp alerted them that they arrived, and Slave I shifted into normal space. The pink blue planet was shining below. Boba Fett ordered Slave I to send in his registration to customs and ordered to land near the main Temple of Zersaw on the holy mountain. The ship was now in the gravity field of Quadratus Five.


"I am sending registration to customs, despite the fact that Slave I has sensor masking and a jamming system that allows it to slip through sensor grids undetected," said Fett matter-of-factly.


"It is Zersaw's birthday today, Zeryule," said Irain.


"Good for Zersaw and the funding of his priests," said Fett.


Suddenly, the ship rocked twice then thrice. The lights went red, and power drained with a loud whoop.


"By Zersaw's rash filled tail!" swore Fett.


"What? What's going on?" asked Irain in panic.


"Strap in, I suspect my recent modifications to Slave's computer have a caused a glitch," said Fett coolly.


"A glitch?"


"I must have overloaded the system, or else Hodpod sent me a present," said Fett, "Strap in, the power is at seven percent."


"Oh, so I am to die now," said Irain.


"You're in best hands in the galaxy."


"It looks like we're locked in the course, we're gonna crash near or into the temple," stated Fett.


"On Zeryule..."


"I am sure the Eternal Father will forgive me."


Boba Fett wrestled a bit with the controls, and still had some measure of agility in the craft, not much, but perhaps enough for a steady landing he thought.


The supped up Slave I, was modified by Boba Fett for such emergencies, at least it had reinforced armor plating, but as they were making planet fall, the power generators completely cut out. They were above the holy mountain of Zersaw, and Slave I was making a steady freefall decent. They both sat in the emergency straps. Irain was chanting quietly.


Fett was amused despite it all.


The ship crashed into a meadow on the small mountain, almost at the temple site.


By some strange twist of fate, the ship was mostly all intact, just like the occupants. A small electrical fire from a non-main circuit system was quickly put out by Fett. Fett released the manual clamps on the ramp, and they crawled out quickly.


Fett quickly scanned the area, and sent one Imperial probe droid from the holds to do a quick recon.


After a few seconds, he said, "We will have some company soon."


"I am going to set the blasters on stun," he declared.


"I love you Boba."


"Save it babe."


"It is fun to act sometimes," said Irain with her bedroom voice.


They both laughed and kissed passionately. Yet Irain was in love with Fett passionately.


"Okay hide in the ship again."


Six temple guards from the most prestigious Zersaw temple in the galaxy, made their way toward the ship on exotic speeder bikes. The probe droid showed Fett the bikes had armed blasters. Fett ordered the probe droid to hover and hide behind the ship and place its blasters on quick stun.


He stood aloof as they arrived.


"You are in violation of code—,"started the red-haired human leader of the temple guards.


Fett threw a stun grenade. Which exploded shattering the consciousness of three guards who slumped on their speeders, and then stun blasted the leader before he could react. In less than two standard seconds, the probe droid lifted above the ship and spun with two precise stun bolts against the last two human targets that were bare-chested like the rest.


"Irain! It is time to search their pockets!!" he called to her in the ship. She leaned from the ramp, peering intently with a smile.


"And the Temple, bounty hunter?"


"It is Zeryule, they are all drunk babe; I have a bottle of Republic Alderaanian red in the medical kit if you feel the need to join them."


She laughed a bit and stepped into the strong sunlight and sweet air.


"I feel like a hike," she said as breathed real fresh air, "I should move here and grow olives, fuck Nar Shaddaa."


"This place reminds me of Alderaan; it has been too long Boba."


"Imps are imps, well, we've arrived, what do you want to do?" he asked.


She opened her medpack and scanned a few plants.


"Hmmm" she noted, "No suppoplar"


"Of course, it is a kind of a semi-myth, like my reputation."


"Let's go further up, near the temple," she said.


"The probe droid says there is a festival and the locals are raucously having a good time."


"What Fett? You know I don't like red, and we're not teenagers to roll in the meadow," she teased.


***


Fett was rocketing in the air with Irain in his arms. He chose a gentle, steady speed.


"This is not what I had in mind when I said I wanted passage to Quadratus Five Fett."


"C'mon babe, doesn't Zersaw command emotional strength through joy?"


"That is not what he really taught," she retorted loudly, as the air hissed at her.


"Aaaaaa!" she yelled as Fett landed down on the pinnacle of the temple. The crowds below were too drunk to notice and celebrating too hard.


Fett, as he was flying through the air a few moments before, ordered his droids and the probe droid to scan the ship and initiate repairs and repair protocols. He ordered two more probe droids from the hold to scan and secure the area. He knew he might have to bribe the locals heavily to get away with it all. He was hoping Irain could use some diplomacy among the priest caste as well. However, he felt like fooling around a bit. His reputation wasn't evolving lately anyway. He wanted to enhance it by this prank and stunt, and give something memorable to Irain. The journey flight to Quad Five had taken a fortnight.


"Well, we made it," said Boba Fett. Irain was still holding on to him.


"Great, I get to spend Zeryule in a priestly holding cell, and confess my sins," said Irain.


"You really like all the sins," said Fett.


"Not bad temple architecture, initiated by a male Hutt really high on spice," he added.


"What's next Fett? You are going to piss off the highest and greatest holy mountain in the galaxy?" she asked mockingly, with what Fett perceived was her slight bedroom voice.


"Naa, I probably did it in another life," said Boba Fett, and then let her go gently and with care, and walked over to the edge and unzipped his bulky trousers, and proceeded to urinate on whatever and whoever was below.


***


Back on Nar Shaddaa in the highly pretentious and corrupt Imperial Academic district, Oily and Grim, part-time covert Brother Knaves, part-time academic researchers, and a top-level senior administrator were making routine checks on the subatomic particle accelerator under the Sarlacc Pit monument, called Zyclan's Maw by the almost everyone on Imperial Boulevard; it was in the last stages of construction finishing by a mammoth worker droid force.


"What's this red light?" said Oily suddenly.


"Who programmed the droids?" asked the senior administrator.


"Narooga" said Grim flatly, puzzled.


"Oh no, oh no," the other two all said almost at once.


As they finished those words a large, but not too large, subatomic explosion destroyed all six hundred

and sixty-five levels of Imperial Boulevard, just as Smuggler's Moon was going into the shadow of the Glorious Jewel.


***


After the initial shock, most of the inhabitants of the Smuggler's Moon thought it was good riddance anyway, and went on with their business, many celebrated, and the local flesh pits made a killing with profits, just like some of the better stim and spice dealers. They knew soon heavy Imperial reinforcements would shortly arrive.


The Super Star Destroyer Invincible shifted from hyperspace in the Y'Toub system along with the Star Destroyer Impervious, and they quickly made orbit above the moon of Nal Hutta. Mass contingents of elite troops and AT-AT and AT-ST walkers were sent to the surface cities and ramshackle grids of Nar Shaddaa. Patrols were heavy above the moon and everywhere else.


The Slavers Guild went deep, deep into hiding in the Undercity. Martial law was promptly declared. All traffic was stopped. All riffraff, outlaws, and smugglers played super and ultra-cool. The Hutts were shitting bricks in their pits, and smoking strange gases to numb their fear. The Brother Knaves and Rover Pirate Sisters stayed very low, and kept their heads down.


Shortly, Imperial expert and probe droid analysis revealed it was a mere accident.


Admiral Merloo of the Invincible, a fat and balding Imperial who hated his Super Star Destroyer command and was addicted to cheap Alderaanian beer and rotgut in his private stash, took charge along with the local ISB branch, the Imperial Security Bureau.


The inquiry blamed the Academic district; the emperor issued a ban on further Imperial university research in the system. The martial law lasted a week and a few days. Speeches were made, not by emperor.


After a standard week and few days, the Invincible went to the remains of Alderaan to take care of some troublesome rebels hiding there. He didn't know it, but Merloo was in for a nasty, prolonged, and grueling cat and mouse battle with the rebels in a nearby nebula who were keen to have revenge for the Battle of Hoth and had excellent new gear and fighters, and were near insanely hardened elite veterans who despised the Empire in all its forms.


The Star Destroyer Impervious stayed for a longer duration to tighten the embargo around Nar Shaddaa; well-piloted TIE interceptor and shuttle patrols began heavily on the fringe systems as well.


Unbeknownst to everyone, expect himself and a few others, Qdor the Hutt was ultimately responsible for the subatomic explosion at the Imperial university. He had hired and paid Grim to tell him what was new at the academy, and then spent ninety-nine percent of his large resources secretly to the local Neimoidians, who funded the project, to sabotage the droids in very subtle ways who worked on the main construction of the particle accelerator.


Narooga went into hiding and disappeared completely. He was never seen again.


***


Chapter III — "Rover Rats and Rats."


The two head Rover Pirate Sisters, Rainbow and Hate, really hated the recent Imperial disruption on their activities. Their maternal order modeled themselves loosely on the semi-mythical Tatooine amazon raiders. They liked to seize smugglers' ships and torture their occupants ruthlessly, no matter who they were, and they had a grim reputation, and their war with the Brother Knaves would sometimes fizzle, sometimes spark, and sometimes it would be an alliance: either a long one or a short one. Their weapon of choice was a vibroblade.


Rainbow wanted to find about who was responsible for the decimating explosion, and used her dancing girl contacts to discover as much possible, but she was soon frustrated, despite using good quality spice and stim bribes.


Jaceas, the popular dancing girl, hated Rainbow for a past slight and did everything to sabotage her efforts. Jaceas also missed Narooga who had on a very rare occasion entertained her.


The Rover Pirate Sisters hated Narooga bitterly and would cause trouble for him in that past, preying on his cargo runs; they had usually paid a heavy price for it, however.


Rainbow secretly missed Oily and Grim.


The two women met in their hideaway near the Undercity. The smell from viaducts was a constant sore point for them, but they ruthlessly supressed all complaints from the other Rovers.


Hate wanted to hire Merdon to oversee their plumbing system. However, he was busy with other projects and his fringe Zersaw cult preoccupations, which now had apocalyptical pretensions and rituals.


"Well Rainy, looks like shit has fallen on us again," started Hate.


"You always look at the black side of things," said Rainbow through her stim haze.


"Lay off the hosiri girlie," said Hate.


"I like hosiri," she answered.


"I am the only who tolerates it, the other sisters must not know."


"We've been over this again Hate," said Rainbow mildly stoned.


"You stoner, you should eat more too, here have a Tanga Six fruit, apple, or something, it is called," said Hate.


"You know I hate fruits."


"Just teasing girly."


They hugged quickly.


"Those fucking imps will pay."


"I miss Oily and Grim."


"No you don't."


"No, not really," explained Rainbow with a snort.


"Let's raid those fucking Slavers," said Hate, and she lifted her vibrocutlass.


They started screaming at each other.


***


Word on the streets was that Zyclan had been poisoned and croaked. A few days later, official Imperial autopsy revealed he died from corrosive elements in the relaxing gases he had recently smoked.


Zyate called for a funeral on Nal Hutta, but hardly anyone showed up. The caste had other matters to attend, and the Outer Rim Hutts were complaining loudly like usual, even more so with even harsher obscenities.


Zyclan's Tower was renamed Zyate's Tower, and formal management was passed over to Ikan-Dor the Gamorrean from the Slag Pit, which had been closed for a while now by Imperial order. He decided to open a bar, just as rough and sleazy, called the Wicked Panther Pit in honour of Fraya, and to look good to his new boss Zyate.


The Outer Rim Hutts were in an uproar and hated the clientele for the new place. Jaceas also missed the Slag Pit.


Secretly someone had found Dr. Hodpod's body on Nal Hutta in the sands under Narooga's floating palace—the palace was bartered off by the Hutts and sold for scrap—and it had been stuffed and brought back to Nar Shaddaa, and was positioned in a private dancing room of the Wicked Panther Pit.


Zyate heard about it and thought this art project was in poor taste. He was having constant headaches, and his snooty and imperious wife, Irina the Hutt, was making his life unbearable, not just for him but for everyone around her. A few of her servants considered poison from the Undercity and the tech sector there, but fear of Zyate for now kept them in line.


Zyate had also lost some valuable cargo to the Rover Pirate Sisters recently and plotted a quick revenge. Qdor offered to help with his small eunuch army.


Shortly, above the Smuggler's Moon, two of Qdor's eunuchs by laser cannons dusted two Rover Pirate Sister starfighters: heavily modified Y-Wings captured from the Alliance, and a new supped-up Corellian stock light freighter, the Rampaging Queen.


Hate developed elimination problems from then on; however, Merdon's services were unavailable, and he was still busy with his cult.


***


Interlude Two: Ancient Zersaw's Raid and Adventure.


Zersaw landed on some unknown desert on Nal Hutta with his cross-shaped starcruiser, just as the sun of the Y'toub system was setting on the planet's surface with remarkable red colors splattered on the horizon. He emerged with his bulky frame down the ramp with a black leather hat, and an old worn out whip, which he carried strapped to his waist. Like today, he never carried any blasters preferring diplomacy and rhetoric, what he considered to be a true sign of an enlightened creature; plus his pouches were loaded with spice and other stims, some of them now spilled over, as he slithered with effort on the sand dunes of ancient Nal Hutta.


Despite being highly stoned and high, the bulky Hutt found the small opening in the nearby mountain range that he was looking for. The cavern was filled with strange cobwebs; suddenly poisonous spiders crawled on his back; he suddenly lifted one and shoved it into his mouth.


"Mmmm, that is good, burp!" he said.


He slithered on.


Suddenly poisonous darts shot from the wall at him, his entire body was covered with the projectiles, yet the fat Hutt moved and slithered on.


He came to a pit, and looked at his whip.


"Naa!" he said, and then bounced off his tail with surprising agility and landed on the other side of the deep pit.


He came to a room with cobwebs and a small golden statue or icon of some kind (it had a leering tongue) in the round chamber, he made his quickly to the statue in almost one quick motion snatched it from the altar, and shoved it quickly in his pouch, as more spice fell out.


Suddenly a boulder rolled up behind him dropping from the ceiling.


"Aaaaaaa!" yelled the Hutt prophet and darted away, but the giant boulder somehow wedged and trapped his tail, and he couldn't move.


"By the eternal Hutt gods of hate," he muttered. He dug his fat fingers into his right pouch and covered his hand with narcotic spice and licked it greedily.


He then suddenly started heaving violently and after a time hefted himself away from the boulder.


"Aha!" he beamed smiling.


He was outside and...


No one greeted him out there, except the hot desert wind.


"Humph! I hate Nal Hutta," he moaned and slithered up the ramp, as he did the golden icon fell from his pouch into the sands. He made his way to the bridge and the cross-shaped starcruiser, the Spicy Pansy which lifted for the heights above Nal Hutta to make the entrance into hyperspace for the Outer Rim world of Tatooine.


***


On Quadratus Five, Irain and Boba Fett stood on the pinnacle of the holy mountain temple of Zersaw in the clear summer air and gentle warm sunlight.


"You know Fett we could have just taken a speeder bike from one of the stunned temple guards," said Irain.


"Then those fanatical priests would accuse us of theft and assault before the laws of Zersaw, so-called that is," Fett couldn't resist adding, "Don't I get a Zeryule kiss?"


"Do I look like Mir the Loose?" she asked with a smile, as she was enjoying the clear weather, air, and sunlight.


"Fett I am never going back to Nar Shaddaa; I am staying here, whatever it takes," she stated.


"You're barely a third-grade Imperial citizen; it is only that you are part human that you are not an alien metic in the Galactic Empire; do you think they will allow you to stay on a sanctuary planet like Quad Five?" asked Boba Fett.


"Maybe, I don't know Fett, officially I had never undergone the baptism of sand, nor been formally written into Zersawism," she said.


"You just like the chants and Zersaw's twisted logic."


"I—,"


"Hold on, I want to watch something below," said Fett.


He peered below and looked at the dancing and celebrating revelers beneath the marble temple. He scanned them carefully for a bit.


"Sorry, I thought I saw somebody I ran into before, she might have—,"


"She?" asked Irain.


"Someone in, or from, the commune of Mir on Nal Hutta, but I don't think it was her; I thought I saw her looking at us," he stated, "As you know they wear very distinctive garb."


"Fett you should be more respectful," said Irain.


"Nah."


"She's gone now, hm," stated Boba Fett.


"Now what are we do Fett, I am sure you still want that kiss," she teased mildly.


"Come here babe, let's wait until the party is over and watch the sunset," he teased back.


***


Meanwhile on the Smuggler's Moon, a hidden Slaver facility was raided led by Rainbow in a quick and brutal sortie, with a good kill count. Many Sisters were rejoicing as the spice score was particularly good and some slaves were to be kept for their purposes.


Now the Slavers were plotting a deep revenge, but some were still spooked by the recent Imperial presence, and the leadership decided to wait and monitor the Rover Sisters the best they could: they a had a secret spy among them named Cloiette.


Cloiette was secretly in love with Roy, one of the Slaver leaders, who had deep scars from the Battle of Hoth and had a fearsome reputation as a no non-sense bad ass and hardened killer.


They met once over drinks at the Burning Deck, many nights ago, and a fling developed. Roy was also deeply moved by the young Sister, and decided to teach and train her in Rebel Infiltrator techniques, a special squad of Rebel assassins, spies, and general problem solvers. They were highly skilled in all sorts of wet work, and were a usual headache for the ISB. However, she was not all that receptive to the training he outlined, the effort was considerable. Roy was planning to have her garrotte Rainbow at an opportune time, a seduction.


If that failed the Slavers Guild wanted to get Merdon to rig Rainbow and Hate's toilets with both poison and detonation to take out the cruel and capricious commanders of the Rovers.


There had been some secret blaster fire exchanged by some Wookies and Slavers, sometimes a lone figure, despite a disguise, was taken out. Roy was getting pissed both emotionally and in brews of various kinds; however, Cloiette kept him grounded, for now.


Morale was high among the Sisters, and Rainbow and Hate were hanging out at the Burning Deck to celebrate, they kissed passionately and in the open, since security there was high. Zyate made sure of that, he wanted no more accidents, nor any kind of Imperial trouble. Ikan-dor was surprisingly efficient.


Hate was bold and secure enough to sense the Slavers were a bit demoralized and feeling down. She proposed a truce to Roy, a fortnight, for them both to gather resources, after some heavy haggling through intermediaries it was finally settled after much rot-gut, wine, and stims were consumed.


The Imperial governor finally flooded the moon with more ozone, and locals breathed a little easier. As a joke he had some small amounts of laughing gas from the tech-sector of the Undercity pumped into it, to make the inhabitants a bit more relaxed and in buoyant spirits. It was working for a time until tolerance levels exceeded the highs.


Stim sales suddenly increased and there was minor plague of beggars everywhere in almost every sector. The new TIE interceptor patrols were taking it out on local traffic. The Hutts were losing profits badly, some retired to Nal Hutta, for a brief time.


Qdor the Hutt secretly passed hidden information to Roy about an asteroid rich in mineral deposits and Roy used some heavy credits to legally purchase a mining licence, since Imperial repairs began in the demolished old Imperial Boulevard Sector.


The project was tentatively called the ‘Palpatine Gardens'.


"Asteriods do not...cough... concern me in the long term," said Roy to his fellow high Slaver commanders.


"We know Roy, but we need more weapons and hence more profits, the smugglers are laying low from those damned new TIEs," stated Eblon, a thin commander with a medium to high wet-work record.


"Yes Roy, we need to branch out, forgot the Sisters, let's concentrate on winning and bribing a few Imperials to grant us more trade with the bored Outer Rim Hutts, we can kidnap some of the new immigrants, and do some good old fashioned racketeering on this pie shop fad," said Arden, on cue as he planned with Eblon.


"Do you think an experienced Stormtrooper can't tell if a business in being racketed? He'll smell their nervousness, and they are already a nervous bunch as newcomers here. Also, friends," he paused for emphasis, "I have reports from my Rebel contacts that the Invincible is stalled in an asteroid field in a nebula near Alderaan sector, blessed be their souls; however, the female command of the Impervious is making good headways against our former friends there, so they could both be back here soon enough, right friends?" added Roy.


"Those fools, the white heads, are just as addicted those damned pies as that stinking Drulas," he said matter-of-factly.


"Look Roy, be that as it may, we have a new agent, that lard-ass Katullus; he said Gudor the Hutt is willing to sell us, at a killer price, cheap stim, spice, and new advanced blasters with a higher firing rate, illegally modified of course, where that damned Hu—"


"The whole Vertical City is laughing at us for the latest slight by the Sisters—"


"What? No such thin—"


"Enough!" shouted Roy with a wave.


"We will have our revenge and asteroids only mildly concern me, friends."


***


"What is the essence of vibroblade throwing?" asked Boba Fett to Irain.


"Balance," she replied as she fingered her Corellian vibroblade, a multi-purpose knife that was also made for flight.


And stance. Stand up," commanded Fett, "Place your index, middle, and ring fingers dead center on the handle, your knife is blade-heavy. Your little finger can just hang off the end."


She mimicked the action quickly.


"Remember, the basic trick is to throw the knife as hard as you can."


"Yes, Boba," she said.


"Pay attention," he crooned.


"Draw an imaginary line between you and the target, and remember the key to successfully throwing a knife is the distance between you and the target. Measure off about five to ten normal steps from the target and draw a throwing line on the ground as well. That should give you enough distance so the knife makes a complete rotation in the air before sticking in the target."


"Remember also that psychologically demoralizing the enemy is just as important: I like to use my wrist flamethrower on targets like the Rover scum, who have some proficiency in blade tosses, when dealing with multiple targets to unhinge them. I can go aerial; you cannot. So remember to note everything in a tough battle situation. "


"Gather information, calculate the risk, and then execute the flow."


"There are no sins on the battlefield," he smiled under his helmet a bit.


"Zersaw teaches us to find every being's thumbscrews," she said quietly.


"Very basic, try to cultivate an air of unpredictability," he stated with another smile, "And know who you dealing with."


"I want you to throw the knife at me," he ordered suddenly.


Fett and Irain positioned themselves on top of the marble temple with about thirty feet between them.


Take a full step back.


Once you've found your throwing line, take a full step back.


Take a forty-five degree step back and then to the left.


You'll notice that your throw line is now two steps in front of you."


That's what you want. This room for the steps will allow you to get as much power as you can behind your throw. You'll want to step to your throwing line."


Stand, so your weak-side shoulder faces me. Since you're right-handed, your left shoulder must face the target. Good. Then before your throw, you must take one step forward with your back foot."


You must keep your knife horizontal to the target throughout the throw. This ensures you will get a proper knife rotation when you release the vibro."


"Now when your throwing arm is fully extended towards the target, simply let go of the knife. Release the knife."


"You have your aiming point on me?"


"Yes."


"Throw!"


The knife glittered in the sunlight and sped toward Fett's heart who used his armoured glove to block it; it ricocheted landing on the marble. Corellian vibroblades were meant to last.


***


Meanwhile on Nal Hutta, the survivors of the Darkness Beyond Death, all of them, were in middle of the sandy desert, the Negrev Wastelands; it was night and Nar Shaddaa glittered above them. There was a howling wind under the resplendent stars of the galaxy as they marched, or in the case of Fraya, slithered slowly and painfully. Darth Eclectic, after his long Force trance, led them in an unknown direction.


***


Gudor the Hutt was highly bored, and much to his chagrin the musicians he kept hiring for the Tray were progressively worse and worse types; he was starting to get both bored and highly annoyed even with Katullus begging him to take more of his skin of his arm and shoulder; he was dreaming of doing something bigger, that is why he contacted the Slavers through Katullus since Srio sold him the advanced blasters (a lucky break that Srio had in Corellia and Ord Mantell with his own smuggler contacts). Also, Qdor had been hanging around the Tray, but spending little, Gudor thought the Hutt darling was simply picking up the late Zyclan's bad habits as he matured, and grew even fatter. He scanned the pink walls of the Tray: it was mostly empty except for that flake Maxella, the so-called street prophet with a distinct lineage.


Too bad he is such a flake and a total ass thought Gudor, not even worth talking to even in my current low spirits. He called Jaceas, who worked there now part-time, to bring him more fancy Corellian whiskey mixed with common rotgut, his secret passion.


"Behave my girl, or I'll feed you to the Rovers," he glanced at her as she poured him his favorite concoction.


"You would like that," she teased, "Mmmm?"


She licked her lips and grasped the Hutts chubby tail.


"C'mon don't you want me Gudor?"


"Hmmm, mmm," chortled the Hutt as she walked away.


He really liked Jaceas; there was something about her he admired: she was a survivor and loved to start shit, a deadly combination in deadly Nar Shaddaa. His current dealings or more like lack of them, among the heavily pressed (by the Empire and their entanglements) Hutt cartels, Outer Rim, Mid Rim or otherwise, was dwindling steadily. He missed Boba Fett, and wanted him to hang at the Tray to pick up bring in some customers, and bring a bit of life to the place. He thought about switching the new pink décor of the place to something more Huttese. Maybe a Tiwonian Four vibe for fun, nah, he thought, Jaceas wouldn't like it. Plus, he wanted to get pieces of her skin into the soups.


***


Maxella met Drulas at the Flying Grunge for his midnight pie gorge. Maxella was now fat after his apocalyptical predictions had somewhat come true for Nar Shaddaa, the amused locals gave him more money than usual, since he had predicted, not really but kind of, the recent disaster on what was academic Imperial Boulevard. The Imperials were simply too busy and angry at other things to pay attention to one jabbering street prophet—he wasn't rabble rousing anyway, no one but the Rover Pirate Sisters and the Zyate Tower Wookies wanted a crusade or heavy Rebel Alliance style action—besides, the local Stormtroopers liked the crazy pies at the Flying Grunge as much as he did. Some of them had the pies analyzed for addictive substances, but droid analysis revealed nothing but a concoction of natural Tanga Six spices and oils and various other extracts.


"Mmm, this new flavour is really sick by the Pits of Zersaw," said Drulas in his teasing Basic voice.


"Zersaw never ate this good," remarked Maxella in a nasal tone that made Drulas wince a bit.


"But Mir was so gorgeous, almost like Fraya," said Drulas.


"Fraya..."


"Shut your gob you Bantha banging son of a Neimoidian courtesan's foundling!" stated Maxella angrily.


"But you're a foundling Max,"


"Sniff, sniff... by Zersaw in the Heavens of the Eternal Peace and Flame, you litt—"


"Wait Max, I just remembered something...there were some strange dudes by the Singing Petal—"


"Oh the Petal..."


"Listen you poor excuse for a brainless math geek!" exclaimed the Gran.


"With my third eye, I saw...wait, what did I see?"


"More pies waiter!" shouted Maxella.


"Bring the hidden fresh batch! The oils of the hellish cider of Unga, with the spice of the maw of haste, and the thrill of hidden sands and palms of the wide range of Uklath, argh...hurry damn it!"


***


The Rover Pirate Sister had stated amongst themselves they had a new wondrous renaissance: they decided by member decree to be much more chivalrous and romantic amongst themselves, more passionate with soft, kinky notes. It was a supposed to be a secret, but word still somehow got out.


***


Merdon was chanting at the local Zersaw gathering: the Brothers and Sisters of Slight Discord and New Grates. He was just hooking up with willing members, anyone that approached him. The screeching and chanting still gave him a burning sensation and feelings of guilt, but it was still mostly just a big party for him, thanks to the recent mass explosion in the Grit Sector, as it was now fondly called. They had a saying in Nar Shaddaa: "Trouble strikes the same place twice." Merdon fancied striking his favorites twice tonight.


***


Despite the recent ozone treatments by the crafty and diplomatic Imperial governor the heavy smell on the Vertical City was back. The locals relaxed and took their stim and sucked on their hosiri pipes, while the Rover Sisters near the Undercity viaducts initiated their new romantic renaissance. Somehow, Bordella the Hutt was sold to a Rover Pirate Sister, Olida. Bordella enjoyed her new hauling tasks, but would on occasion hiss and moan in a loud manner. The Rover Pirate Sisters, started branching into various orders, some which practiced a type of witchcraft or some such thing, they claimed that if you put menstrual fluid to a lover's food or drink, he or she will be in love forever.


Bordella escaped once and an Imperial Stormtrooper patrol caught her. They decided to put her to work near the still yet to be constructed Palpatine Gardens hauling snacks for the workers and parts for the droids.


***


Drulas and Maxella were sharing a slimy Tanga Six eel when Dio approached...


***


"The droids say we have seven-percent power again," stated Fett.


"I need repairs," he added.


Irain was pre-occupied with her own thoughts. She knew her chances for staying on Quad Five were slim, as an Imperial citizen with a metic sub-category she would not be granted permission to inhabit a symbolic planet like Quadratus Five; she knew she also made too many enemies in the ISB to be considered for full-citizen status, despite a decent academic career (which unbeknownst to her was now on hiatus). She also knew Boba Fett always worked alone, and would eventually grow bored of her, but she knew her expertise was still useful to him in areas of horticulture and other matters.


They conversed for a brief time and decided to make their way down as it was nightfall now. For some reason, there were not many stars shinning in the sky above them.


"The priests of Zersaw have radioed me and told me to meet them in their stoa near this Temple of Sacred Benedictions and Clashing Crowns, or is it that Crows?" he lifted his helmeted head at Irain.


"Crowns."


"I don't think we need to fear anything, perhaps they will want a fine," crooned Boba Fett.


"You talk first," she said.


Fett used his arm harpoon and synth string to lower himself and Irain down to the sacred agora below, in few quick slides; it was now mostly empty of drunken revelers. The Zeryule decorations of red string were everywhere, like around the seven large columns under the large flat pediment of the main Zersaw Temple where the two had been.


Irain took the lead according to where Boba Fett showed her to go. They walked slowly, with Irain shaking her hips a bit more than usual thought Fett; it was a nice walk, graceful, and balanced.


The Stoa, a small, not quite rectangular, building, had three flat columns, and a mosaic of a kind of wild looking Zersaw the Hutt on the floor, or so thought Boba Fett. It was very multi-colored.


Three priests, in the traditional conical hats, stood inside the pronoas (the vestibule), of the Stoa-like temple.


"Yes, Boba Fett, we have heard of you, and who is your charming lady here, standing so close to you," asked the middle priest, an elder man with a large gray beard.


"She can introduce herself," said Fett.


"I am Dr. Irain Portana of Nar Shaddaa Imperial Academy for Higher Research," she said slowly and respectfully, "I follow the path of Zersaw."


"Well my dear what caused a fine doctor like you to come to our little temple with the famous Boba Fett, on Zeryule?" asked Ashkali, the middle priest.


"I am looking for suppoplar to heal myself of a contagion," she declared slowly and evenly.


"No one has looked at the herbs of the mountain for generations now, but wait, you are referring to the commentaries on the Book of Zersaw by Tiklon the Wise...interesting, Ashkali leave them to me, I think this case merits more than it seemed at the start," said somewhat quickly, the right priest Quendon.


Ashkali glared at him, but lifted a finger and lowered it in assent, and left with the other silent priest.


"The herbs used to grow on the summit of the mountain above the Temple of Sacred Benedictions and C. C.," he said, "I believe Tiklon the Wise, wrote that suppoplar wood was used for ceremonial shields in the days of the ancient Republic, but a special and somewhat mystical strand of suppoplar grew as a basic herb and flower of some kind, the quote from Tiklon's Vines of Sacred Soil Meditations runs: "...and so many came to the holy temple of blessed days, and many ran with the vats of the free, the dagger of yore was not there, but the dagger of pure sanctions was reveling with suppoplar green and white, as their skin diseases were cured and they were lifted high on the holy summit, the bosom of..."


"Why don't we see the herb zone?" said Fett.


They marched in silence uphill on a small and narrow trail for half a standard hour; pink tinged night birds sang a ringing-like melody. Irain felt she liked it.


In the glow of small star in the horizon, the Quad Five Morning Star, they arrived at a small groove on the mountain rich in soils and mineral water ran offs.


"Ye silly Hutt gods of Hate," said Irain, "This looks like suppoplar."


She kneeled beside a white flower that somehow seemed to shine in the glow of the subdued light of the Morning Star in the horizon. Suddenly dawn broke open across the sky.


She scanned the suppoplar with her medpack, for few moments the small group was silent. Boba Fett was a little bored, but knew this might be important.


"What are the uses of this plant Irain?" he asked in his best slow and soft voice.


"It can heal my painful skin disease Fett, it has to be grounded up into a tea and mixed with..."


Quendon looked at them both, then thoughtfully scratched his beard and took off his conical hat.


"Through the jurisdiction of the Empire, blessed be Palpatine the Great...I absolve you, Irain and Boba Fett, of your defiling crimes of trespassing without permission on a sanctuary planet and a sanctified sector, causing damage to a provisional park, and stun assaulting the guards of our holy temple," he said as he pressed a button on his electronic wrist chronometer hidden in the cuffs of his robes, "I shall dedicate some of our younger brethren to do a systematic study of the local fauna here, but you must leave when you finish your repairs, we can charge you standard rates for parts, and you have my permission to... stay, in the guest house."


He did a quick and slight bow and left them alone.


"Well, it is Zeryule," grinned Irain.


"Not anymore technically," said Fett.


***


The Super Star Destroyer Invincible arrived once again in the Y'toub system, this time for repairs. Admiral Merloo had been court-martialled directly by the emperor for basically making a total ass of himself in the old Alderaan sector, by making the Empire look very bad on a fringe holiday like Zeryule; the captain of the Impervious, for some last-minute heroic action versus the veteran Rebel fighters and their constant and fiery A-wing and X-wing sorties, and by defeating and annihilating a medium-sized, but deadly, Rebel cruiser, which had waited for, and baited the Star Destroyer Impervious -captain Junie—was hoping for an Imperial promotion, but all was hush-hush in the command hierarchy. She was a fighter at her core, but was highly ambitious, as well. She liked Vader's cold intelligence and despised the forces of good with a bitter passion.


The Empire, in its basic representations here in the Y'toub Hutt system, was angry but didn't have a real outlet to get bashing on what they perceived was the scum of the galaxy. Captain Junie had then formulated a plan. Many beneath her admired her long blond hair and classical Imperial features.


***


Darth Trauma was chewing on nic. He kind of liked Nal Hutta, not in a superb manner, but in way that he felt the rugged desert resembled him in some odd way. He would have liked to have explored and hunted on his own, but he was still somewhat dedicated to Darth Eclectic; he was hoping to see, after all these standard Imperial years of mastering the hard path of the Sith Lords and getting into some tough and sordid and grim situations, a clear chance to use his natural skills at targeting and demoralizing enemies, and practicing and refining his dark side powers to purer art form. Trauma loved to torture slowly, he was fantasizing for a bit what he do would to Fraya, after Eclectic would be done with her. He would start with her tail, he thought, and then maybe urinate on her as well, after him and Darth Eclectic would spend a Force trance together.


Gad hated everything about Nal Hutta, it reminded her too much of her own mysterious and barren homeworld. She wanted to kill both Eclectic, for his torture sessions on her, and Darth Trauma for insulting her; she really wanted to polish her Sith status to a new level of badness, and villainy and vileness, but she yearned for something profound. I won't find it here in this dump, she thought.


Dramatis the Black was still shaken from the crash, he just didn't care anymore where Eclectic was taking them, he was good with explosives as a craft, but hated the recent turn of events, and wanted to smash his purple lightsaber into something warm and living, and throw a few thermals into the desert to see how it would sound. He knew Eclectic would never allow it.


Darth Eclectic was lost in a trance as he walked the sandy dunes amid the howling hot wind of the Negrev night. He couldn't care about the little things anymore: credits, food and water, sex, it was just too ephemeral. He had a vision of something, beyond himself. He heard the ancient voices, and he hungered for more, much more.


***


It was zenith now in the blistering hot noonday sun above the Negrev.


Suddenly Gad shouted, "I challenge Darth Trauma to a duel of fates under the Sssith codes of vengeance."


"What codes of vengeance, you ass," said Trauma.


Darth Eclectic stood between with a vacant stare in his eyes. Somehow he wasn't sweating like the rest. His mind was focused on another plane, or so it seemed. He waved in assent super quick.


"Begin, run seven Imperial kilometers, the winner will...now!"


"What?" asked Trauma.


Suddenly purple Sith lightening erupted from Eclectic's hands and face and blasted into Trauma's sweaty torso, who buckled and fell backwards.


"Arggh!"


Gad was clenching her teeth and began running. In total pain and effort, Trauma threw down his gear and ran after her. After some incredibly tense moments between them, running in great effort in the heat of hell of the great Negrev wastes, they returned almost simultaneously. Eclectic nodded once.


Darth Trauma ignited his purple lightsabers and pounced on Gad, who tried to Force push him, but got nicked across her left cheek with the supernal beam yielded in a swift stroke; he shifted at her again and spun the glowing blade across her shoulder in a long cauterized wound. He jumped back and stepped a few steps backward, with an evil grin.


"You dare play with me!?" yelled Gad.


Darth Trauma Force pushed a storm of sand spray at her. She wasn't fazed one bit, and ignited her yellow lightsaber and threw it at him precisely like some javelin.


"Arggh!!" yelled Trauma again. He too now had a painful scar in his shoulder.


Gad ignited her second yellow lightsaber and shifted to a high-guard stance.


"Ssssss," she hissed.


Trauma leapt at her downward, but then cut in an axial forty-five degree angle suddenly, she parried quickly and easily and tried to spin around and stab him with a vibroblade now in her left hand.


Darth Trauma intentionally took this blow, and cut her belly with his saber. She kneed him in the groin, despite the quick wound, and then tried to behead him, but he somehow managed to instinctively move away. Their lightsabers clashed and glowed and fizzled in the baking hot sun.


***


"What brings you here my friend?" said Maxella to Dio at the busy and crowded Flying Grunge.


"Pies, my master."


"You must be strong with the pie," nodded Maxella, "Are you worthy Dio??"


"Yes master."


"Is he worthy Kat?" asked Maxella.


"Yes."


"Then let us began the great feast, that the great Zersaw himself would have liked, my generous gift on these Zeryule tidings, let us begin, mmmm, owww, mmmm."


Drulas shoved three rectangular pies into his mouth at once.


***


The Rover Sisters were feeling elated and high, some were bathing in the stagnant viaducts and teasing each other, they were celebrating their recent victories against the Slavers and Narooga's old partners.


Rainbow was stoned, and she was kissing with Cloiette. Cloiette then kissed her neck slowly and long, and suddenly spun a triple and unbreakable synth string garrotte around Rainbow's neck. She grasped the garrotte ruthlessly and in swift precision, and then shoved a diamond-edged knife into Rainbow's soft and sensitive neck, ripped it out and punctured her exposed heart between her narrow breasts with a hard quick thrust.


Covered with a storm of blood, Cloiette jumped from the tall edifice through the round window into the viaducts below; she placed a breathing mask on her head as she crashed into the sludge; she would hide here for a long time. She sent a transmitter signal to Roy that she had fulfilled her destiny. The other Sisters were too busy to spot her.


***


Darth Trauma and Gad paused, as they were exhausted with sweat and effort.


"Enough! I am bored of watching your feeble skills, we shall continue to stride to...yes...I feel a... presence...I've not felt in a long time..." he closed his vacant eyes a brief moment, paused and stretched out with his thoughts and opened them again.


"We shall continue to stride to the great hidden tenebrous temple, now!"


***


Chapter IV — "Orders Holy and Unholy."


"You must have faith," said Boba Fett and added in a rational croon, "We have to go somewhere special, I cannot afford to have Slave I in this stagnant condition."


"Let me guess, Coruscant."


"Coruscant," uttered Fett.


"How did you guess?"


"I always thought you knew someone high-up in the Imp hierarchy, but just now, I took wild guess and was teasing, frankly I am still a bit shocked by it Boba," Irain looked at him purposefully winked and licked her lips quickly. She then made her arms like a bird's beak and looked evenly at Fett.


Fett was amused, in mild way. She's still a tenderfoot to killing, he thought.


***


"One thing I will agree with Zersaw is that the Galactic Grim Reaper is basically jolly, like he said," stated Fett onboard Slave I. He was piloting manually, and it would require a long time before hyperspace was initiated, despite the central and basic location in the navicomputer of a system like Coruscant.


"Hmm, what a wondrous topic for Zeryule," said Irain.


"'Murder the core and the rest follows', isn't that a quote from the book of Zersaw?" shifted Fett in his seat, his head was bare and his hair wasn't combed.


"I think you're a bit of a rattlebrain sometimes...you know I am kidding Fetty, but I could always name a fungus after you," she smiled.


"As long it is a nasty and efficient spore," he almost sang slowly.


"The suppoplar in the medkit is being prepared well; you should drink it too Boba," she smiled again.


He smiled back and reached slowly under her left knee in the tight quarters of the Slave I's narrow cockpit.


***


The empty bottle of aged Alderaan red was bouncing around the cockpit as Slave I whined and rattled and then pounced into supralight speeds.


***


"You must have faith," said Jaceas to Katullus at the Wicked Panther Pit.


"The Slavers..ug...mm...just looking at you Jac," Katullus licked his lips.


"Get to the point lardy-lard!"


"The Slavers want to elucidate a new deal with higher potentiality for mercantile aspirations."


"What by holy Pits of Zersaw are you jabbering about you meat-head?" she pointed at him with a sharp and meticulously colored and polished fingernail. She then dug it under his large nose. He winced a bit.


"Talk in Basic."


"Yes...yes, milady..."


He suddenly collapsed as she kneed him in the groin. She waved to Ikan-dor, who after a pause or two nodded.


"Tell that Slaver scum, and Roy I hear, has grown impotent, Gudor wants payment up front, like everywhere else on Vertical City, it doesn't take a Zersaw to figure it out, right?" she kicked him in the testicles again, as he groaned and almost fainted.


***


"YOU MUST HAVE FAITH!!" howled Trendir the Wookie leader, in front of the Wookie hang-out garage, there were some new members attracted from various sectors with more coming, including the stagnant Undercity, of Nar Shaddaa, currently there were about a hundred and fifty present, grim and determined Wookies, who wanted a fighting crusade against the Imperials and Slavers. Their sacred wives were opposed to the ‘crusade' on principle. But the veteran leadership, high on stim and other things, decided to fight it out with their declared enemies, they had been bored for a long time now, and Wookies won't admit it: but they love a good brawl, battle, and heady war.


Two new-grade single barrel AT-STs suddenly appeared firing rapidly into the crowd, and Imperial Stormtroopers threw sonic, and stun grenades. A viscous laser firefight broke out; one of the AT-STs exploded suddenly in a powerful gaseous vapour and heated sparks explosion showering the advanced Stormtroopers with it, as a Wookie thermal rocket hit the engine tanks from a modified shoulder rocket bowcaster.


Trendir lifted a veteran Stromtrooper and threw him over the edge of the walkway, and then buried a vibro into the head of another white-head, the elite-class sergeant, instantly. Blaster bolts whined and whizzed across the walkway leading to the speeder and starship garage; Imperial snipers augmented the deadly fire. The Wookies sniped back. They hadn't felt this alive in a long time.


***


"We must have faith," said Junie, as she looked on with a smile as Merloo was led away.


"He'll make a fitting worker on Tanga Six," she smiled again, lifted a finger and her hand.


"Admiral, wha—"


"Silence, we must have faith that things will sort themselves out," she rolled her eyes and smiled.


***


Space traffic around Coruscant was batshit crazy and gargantuan. Everywhere TIE fighter and TIE interceptor patrols in groups of four and three flew in advanced formations with practiced ease; many of these Imperial pilots here were hungry for action and were waiting for orders from Darth Vader.


Since the Imperial Navy was the greatest technical power in the galaxy, the pilots felt that their skill in the next few skirmishes with the cowardly and fleeing Rebels will end the war soon, and despite high-level security protocols most of them knew about the new secret Death Star construction on the moon of Endor, and that the secretive Emperor was presently away on the secret inner Core world of Byss.


The Super Star Destroyer Executer, Vader's flag ship, was positioned above Coruscant and above Imperial City.


Slave I exited hyperspace on the Corellian Run, a main galactic trade thoroughfare in the Coruscant System. The four moons of this capital core world shined above them, TIE fighters and TIE interceptors, even faster than the fighters, moved around them, sometimes very dangerously close-by, and Slave I was quickly contacted for proper passage and access. The highly complicated clearance code was passed on and then granted, and Boba Fett eased the controls to head for the place known as level 1313 of Coruscant, on fringes of Imperial City. He knew Vader would be better left alone this time.


As they were above the Imperial city, their ship moved and weaved slowly through the busy traffic due to Slave I's current lack of real thrust and power.


Boba Fett was feeling a bit apprehensive, he had no credits left to spare for repairs. Basically, Fett hoped Irain could get some credits with the Imperials, perhaps to synthesize the new compound from the suppoplar they had gathered on Quadratus Five.


"I've never seen a corusca stone," mentioned Irain, she was very nervous. The healing suppoplar was making her feel better and stronger, food even tasted better for her now, and Boba Fett had a surprisingly well-stocked and exotic galley, like her favorite Alderaanian mushrooms and olives, despite his rare hankering for Bounty Hunter iron rations.


"Herb doctor, we need credits, I have none now. Any bright ideas?" he queried.


"Maybe we could sell your academic article," she smiled with a quick wink, "I am just a metic."


"And I am just Bounty Hunter scum, but we do need a way out this...mess."


"Ooo, this is the center of the galaxy here, maybe we can go ballroom dancing to a Rebel composer," she winked again.


Fett lowered the ship to the massive crater-like underportal entrance to level one thousand and three hundred and thirteen; he decided and knew he would have to sell a few of his special gift advanced Imperial-class probe droids to some of the criminal element here in the underbelly slums of this notorious and shadowy level of Imperial Coruscant, a real underbelly of the glitter above. A metropolis controlled by secret crime families with links to the Imperial nobility, tolerated by Palpatine.


"You must have faith," he crooned as he winked and put on his ancient helmet slowly, as Slave I began the long decent to level 1313.


"I have faith in science and suppoplar," she answered.


"That is good Irain; I have faith in myself and no faith in the scum we will have to deal with here, you should really stay in my ship," he added.


"Wwwhat?"


"Okay, stay close then nightbird."


***


"I have to admit, I do admire Zersaw for his tolerance for spice, melange and more spice, and diet of...spice," said Fett, as he and Dr. Irain Portana walked beneath the massive grid of Imperial city in the slum underworld section of level 1313. It was dark here.


"You're right Fett, I don't think I need Zersaw anymore," she intoned, "Narooga will probably kill me metaphorically and literally, of course when get back to the Hutt outhouse."


"How about some Tiwonian Four food, do you know an authentic place? I want a shot of good agave-water."


"You're picking up some bad habits by hanging around me," purred Boba Fett.


"You're just like a fungus I know and can't cure," she smiled.


"Even with sup—"


"Defilers!"


"Defilers!"


Boba Fett was trying to figure out where the voice yelling at them was coming from, he went aerial for a few seconds and landed back coolly scanning where he could. Irain shivered slightly for a moment or two. Her blade was poisoned and ready.


"C'mon babe, I will buy that drink at the Les Crystal Skull tavern, they serve good Tiwonian Four chow;

they just don't heat the buns authentically."


***


Many senior Slaver Guild members were fraternizing with a local group of female Twi'leks at the Burning Deck, and celebrating that the Zyate Tower Wookies took a heavy bashing from Imperial forces and most were taken in and sent to penal colonies. Some of the Slavers and Twi'lek girls were dancing to heavy and fast music.


Hate walked in with a group of Rover Pirate Sisters.


They sat in a corner of the filthy multi-level bar; Hate's face was painted almost like a mask—a traditional Sister facet of mourning for a member; there was an unconfirmed rumor among the Sisters that Narooga converted to the Bantha cult and retired on Tatooine penniless. Some of the Sisters tried to steer the conversation that way, but Hate put a stop to it.


***


"I am deeply in love with you Fett," spoke Irain after her drink.


"Of course not," murmured Boba Fett.


Irain giggled, almost like when she started her university training on Alderaan.


"You know that woman that was watching us on Quad Five, don't you?" droned Fett.


"She's very special to me, her name is Jisquina; she's a Mir commune adept."


"She's very handsome," said Fett.


"Ummm?"


Irain then sang a Zersaw song:


"There are so many people who seek you, Even if their seeking is a silent one — There are so many who have never met you, And yet you are their Savior. When you speak to your people, The words go across the galaxy And sink into countless hearts, Hearts in which your image long has stood. Sometimes the vision of you brings life To those in the midst of hard labor and heavy obligation ... So many are devoted to you And seek in your spirit a clear light."


She sighed heavily then and felt a bit older than she really was.


"Fett, let's go meet the Eternal Father of Zersaw, he's somewhere around here?" she noted with a smile.


"As you wish," warbled Fett.


Interlude Three: Junie meets Vader.


When Captain Junie first met Lord Darth Vader she shivered in anticipation. There were many rumors in the Navy about Vader. His record was impressive, and he was noted as a no nonsense and direct commander who executed for failure.


She stood near the command deck of the first Death Star with other new captains fresh from the Imperial academies in the Core Systems, and overheard Vader talking to one of the new moffs.


"The superlaser will bring peace, justice, and order to the galaxy, the Rebellion will finally be decimated," he intoned in his deep voice which reverberated across the bleak walls.


Captain Junie tensed along with the other captains, who stood in line ready for inspection. There were also some senior member of COMPNOR, who stood on the side of the group.


"Aa, what have we here? You are new members of the Imperial Starfleet!" breathed Vader between his heavy hisses. The thin, tall moff stood behind him and looked arrogantly at the green commanders.


"And how do you propose to deal with our recent losses?" Darth Vader asked the group.


"We must use the Death Star to create an aura of fear and be willing to use our resources; we are the greatest navy ever assembled," said a dark-haired man with slight twist of his lips.


"Pride can unhinge even the most disciplined veteran," said Junie suddenly with explicit boldness.


Vader approached her and looked down at her slightly short frame.


"Yes...Captain Junie? I read the roster, what is your most fervent wish, Captain?"


"I want to command a capital-class Super Star Destroyer, one day Lord Vader," she looked at him with a smile, her handsome eyes glittering.


"I see you have made your decision Captain, we shall see if you are worthy, prove the Imperium proud," said Vader and beckoned to the moff to move on with him.


"Remember hubris is the dread that rots from within," were his parting words that boomed across the hall.


Captain Merloo, who first answered Vader, glanced at Junie briefly with hate.


***


Boba Fett and Irain walked across the alleys and boulevards of level one thousand three hundred and thirteen. It was a bit dark with crude light glowing from the makeshift buildings, looming high into dull air above them. Irain missed fresh air and sunlight.


"Since we are in the center of the Imperium; we should head above and see some of the Imperial City," suggested Irain.


"As you can see in this morbid and dark space most of the buildings here are made up of derelict ships and spare parts, hence one the cheapest places in the galaxy to get good space parts for low prices," uttered Boba Fett, his cape billowing a bit in the dry and metallic air.


Fett I—"


A bare-footed woman with long nails suddenly darted from the shadows and plunged a knife into Irain's left shoulder.


"You defilers of the Holy Mountain!"


"Jisquina!?" exclaimed Irain clutching the wound, "I've loved you and now—"


Boba Fett went aerial with a quick blast, spun mid-air and unleashed a flame stream at the Mir commune adept with his powerful wrist flamethrower.


Jisquina screamed as she burned bathed in the fire.


"No!" said Irain. Fett landed and grasped Irain.


"Fett she used to be a Rover Pirate Sister; Fett I am bleeding to death!"


"No, it is the poison in your veins now Herb Doctor, not the blade; I am sorry we used the last medpack to heal onboard Slave I for your concoctions, remember."


"Fett avenge me!"


Fett nodded silently, and touched the hair of her temple tenderly, and then she breathed her last gasp and died quietly.


"Tib, tib, Fett you never had luck with the women..."


Bossk stood there armed with a massive repeating blaster.


"Captain Bossk," said Fett lifting his gun at him with a head aiming point.


"Don't shoot Fett; you'll never make it outta here alive. I work for the Ars Lina family now, who have links to Palpatine's hidden Dark Jedi: Ars Dangor, get it Fett?"


"What do you want, Bossk?"


"I'll be around," said Bossk and hefted his massive long-range blaster and left into an alley.


***


Meanwhile on Nar Shaddaa, the Invincible was ordered to the popular junkyard Mid Rim planet of Ord Mantell to sniff out a hidden new Rebel base and Infiltrator network; the Super Star Destroyer was joined by the Star Destroyers Castigator and Emperor's Wrath, and the new command of the Impervious captain Veppan Norg. The four ship battle fleet quickly prepared under Admiral Junie's strict orders, and jumped into hyperspace, leaving only a battalion of elite Stormtroopers on the Smuggler's Moon.


***


"...and the time shall come when the living waters and the dead of night and—"Maxella was making his usual big polemic when suddenly Dio slithering in on him in great haste; the fatter Hut was sweating profusely and was wide eyed, something to see in a Hutt.


"The Flying Grunge is closed! Gudor bought it out!" cried the street begging low-caste Hutt.


"By the infernal Hells of all the Galactic religions!!" shouted Maxella.


The two Hutts hugged and were bawling together.


"Okay, okay, not so close," said Maxella pushing the other Hutt away.


"We must find Katullus, where is he?" asked Maxella.


"I haven't the faintest clue; he disappeared just like the ‘Floater'!"


"By Zersaw's and Mir's disease ridden crotches, @#$%%!


"First Fraya and now... this."


"I must meditate my friend."


"Do you have any pies stashed away?" begged Dio.


"...no."


***


It was night again. Fraya collapsed sleeping and snoring loudly. Gad was furious, she had enough. This constant desert trek was too much for her. She ignited her two lightsabers and suddenly attacked Eclectic.


Darth Eclectic knew and sensed he could not reason with her.


He stood up and ignited his pink lightsaber. He stood coolly and evenly in a traditional, central Sith guard stance that could counter most blows.


"Don't make me make an example of you Gad," he whispered coolly.


"I sssee now you are a loser and a fool Eclectisssh," cursed Gad.


Suddenly a very loud moan echoed in the distance.


"Krayt!" said Darth Trauma. Everyone except the sleeping Fraya took battle positions and ignited their sabers.


Dramatis hefted a thermal detonator in his left hand.


After a few long moments: nothing appeared.


Darth Eclectic waved, "He is gone, he sensed our power; something you should note Gad."


"I note that I want your blond head on a Gamorrean vibro-pike."


"Yes...yes, now give in to your spite, let it make you strong! Focus...focus...do you sense the ancient temple in that mountain range? Do you feel the power there?"


Gad lowered her lightsabers and closed her small eyes.


"Yesss, yesss."


***


Zeldarra was sweating like a dancing maniac, despite his constant fatigue, he thought of the dancing Jaceas. By the Hutt gods of hate, Zyclan will kill me for failing to find the bounty in this great desert, he thought.


He suddenly looked at the sandy ground, and saw a small golden statue with a leering tongue.


Well, well, he thought, I shall have to camp out in the mountains and head for home soon.


***


Boba Fett knew that the Coruscantians were especially aloof, by Galactic standards, and considered themselves superior to everyone everywhere in the Galactic Empire.


He had just contacted Jabba the Hutt and brokered a small loan without interest, after some ordinary and lazy haggling, and was given a contact from Tatooine: Astel the Jawa, a slaver-mercantiler-scavenger-raider; Fett dealt with him before and Astel was in the area on an errand for Jabba and another noble crime family; the wily Jabba directed attention elsewhere as was his business style, and Boba Fett knew he had a good chance to persuade Astel for a decent deal to repair Fett's damaged craft.


Fett knew he had to watch his back with Bossk hanging out on level 1314, the bigger slum a level below, and he already paid from his new funds for some locals and their servitors to bury Irain's body in Imperial City above; having taken care of that, he now decided to contact Bossk's ship, the Hound's Tooth parked in the level below—Fett did not know exactly where.


Before he did; however, he sold two of his probe droids to Astel, who Fett paid handsomely. Boba Fett knew Astel had a crush on him, as Astel talked through his cheap translator.


"Okay Fett, you've got a deal! How about a drink at the Walloping Whoopsie on me? The dance girls are Imperial class Fett."


"Sounds good Astel," paused Boba Fett, "But I have to watch my back since Bossk is in the area snooping for my hide, how about a drink at the Les Crystal Skull later, Astel?"


"I will get my contacts to look into this matter Fett, what blaster do you use now? Ehahahaha!"


"A newly modified EE-3 carbine Astel."


"Oh Fett you're the best, the best! Astel out," said the diminutive Astel through the rough translator and winked out of the holo link.


Fett ordered Slave I's main computer to contact the green Trodoshan, and the link gave him a view of Bossk's cockpit of the Hound's Tooth, Bossk was nowhere to be seen, but he could hear him muttering to himself in Doshan, which the translator could not translate, it sounded strange...almost as if Bossk was...


There was a metallic clang and the Bossk with his red eyes appeared suddenly to the holojector camera; he looked a bit flustered.


"Fett."


"Greetings Bossk."


"What... do you want?


"I challenge you to a game of space darts at the Crystal Skull, can you handle it Bossk?"


"Tib tib, ash ta ashta," muttered Bossk in incoherent Doshan.


"Do you accept, Bossk?"


"I'll have your hide stretched on the Tooth Fett...tib tib you're on!!"


"Meet me there in four standard hours, can you manage that Bossk?"


"You will—"


Fett cut the transmission; he wanted Bossk to be pissed off to unhinge him just a little. He came up with a plan, and needed to contact Astel soon again; he opened a can of Guild rations and smiled under his Mandalorian helmet.


***


Astel, despite being a serious businessman and scavenger and occasional careful raider, had a reputation for being a lecherous catamite. Fett persuaded him to meet up with Bossk, and plant something in his drink.


Fett ran the plan through his head, and there was a statistical small percentage his plan would backfire, despite weighing the odds and Boba Fett's photographic memory.


Despite the variables, Boba Fett was amused; he figured that Irain would've come to bad end sooner or later. He got news from the Imperial HoloNet about the recent developments at the spaceport moon of Nar Shaddaa. He knew he would now have to be extra careful to get even with Qdor.


He modified his remaining five probe droids for repair status to Slave I's main circuits and computer and defunct power generators, he would still have to rely mostly on the ship's auxiliary power, which had a good amount of stored power available for a short or medium duration as soon the proper new circuits were going to be linked, eventually he would have to initiate a bigger overhaul, but not at the present. Some work began already at the facility he was parked.


He decided to meet a dancing girl, and asked Astel about a local classy one in the Imperial district.


***

Suzi, a good looking and thin red-head, left Fett as he sipped a Hutt fruit concoction. She liked the fact that Fett was well-endowed and skilled in many areas. She said at the parting, next time she would bring a friend or two.


Boba Fett left the city above and took an elevator down to level 1313. Not one of the superfluously arrogant locals paid any attention to him, which suited Fett just fine. Imperial patrols were low around the massive underportal entrance and subsequent lower-grid levels.


***


Astel met Boba Fett enthusiastically at the Skull. Astel told Fett he met with Bossk, and slipped the subtle neurotoxin that Fett gave him earlier in his drink as they spent their time together. Astel looked rather flushed and worn out, but for Fett, he was in good spirits. Boba Fett showed him his gun and explained some of the modifications, but not all the secrets of the many reconstructed effects.


Astel was quite eager to see the duel, and a small crowd had gathered, the local scum and few effeminate noble types.


Suddenly the Eternal Father of Zersaw strove into the Crystal Skull with his entourage and hefty-looking bodyguards. He was short bald man, with a bowed head and cunning eyes. He greeted Fett with a slight lisp.


"You are forgiven Fett for all your doings on the great Holy Mountain, our sister was most careless and...deranged," he laughed nervously.


Bossk came into the room.


The announcer introduced both the master bounty hunters, and both received ample applause.


Space darts was a game that for every miss of the white spaces on the board, a painful electric shock would be activated on the wrist bands worn by the players that grew in energy with every demerit. The board was large, but the black and white spaces would shift electronically on the holoboard. As time moved forward, the shift of coloured spaces would speed up as well. Each participant had four darts.


Bossk brought his own darts, which were scanned quickly for any tricks by a small, black astromech servitor droid. The trick was to score as many various black and white combinations that the rules allowed for while avoiding the penalties of missing the various white combinations by the shifting board.


Bossk grinned at Boba Fett; both were without their main gear and weapons. Fett was practically disarmed since rules were rules, but he was allowed to be in his worn, scarred, and ancient armour.


"Fett you're going down," growled Bossk slowly. For some reason perhaps, galactic bounty hunters talked slower than most people, perhaps for nefarious impressions.


Fett nodded coolly, ever so slightly, as was his style. He wondered how soon he could be with Suzi and her talented friends.


The game began and was going at even pace, and Bossk was ahead slightly after the first five rounds. He rubbed his wrist since he had accumulated three misses.


The bets favoured Fett, but some wiser heads thought Fett might be holding back.


***


Drayonn and his Tusken band arrived at the Burning Deck. They survived by the greatest—perhaps of a lesser type—fluke in the galaxy the tight, secure, and nasty Imperial embargo currently around the Y'toub system of which Nal Hutta and her outlaw trader moon were a part. Drayonn was hungry for blood and burned for revenge after many weeks in hyperspace aboard a refugee (and in the barest essence—space worthy) hauler, and prolonged subsequent sneaking around the floating junkyards and shifting dangerous asteroid belts, hunted, or so it seemed, by highly professional TIE interceptor patrols—Admiral Junie's well-disciplined crew.


***


Roy's asteroid, as it was called, was being mined by band of hardened members of the Slavers Guild. The project was becoming slightly lucrative for the hidden and highly covert Guild. They had some new Rebel Alliance members who also quit the heavy fighting in nearby and some distant systems against the stalwart Galactic Empire. They now had little faith in Mon Mothma's rousing speeches, and were happy to do a little slaving work, and seek and pursue another type of slaving work, catching galactic hobos and other assorted unarmed riff-raff. Sometimes, however the riff-raff turned out to be lightly armed, but only lightly.


Interlude Four: Jisquina's Plot and Entrance into the Mir Convent.


For long time now Irain and Jisquina were deep lovers, highly covert and passionate with many sapphic arguments and pretensions. And also for a long time now, Jisquina was pressuring Irain for a Zersawainian wedding with the works, overseen by her Tiwonian Four extended family. Zersawism allowed for any type of marriage, even some better left to non-galactic imaginations. Dr. Irain Portana did not want this; she felt she still had some major living to do, and the more mature and aged Jisquina was pressuring her daily at the temple on Nal Hutta and the small chapel on the Vertical City above it. They would meet there, but pretend they did not know each other, and sang and shrieked their emotional Zersawainian chants and gestures with the rest of the congregation of many odd aliens and human denizens. After, they would rendezvous for more arguments and painful and bitter love making.


Irian finally called off the relationship. She was sad for time, but started hanging out at notorious bars for an exciting pick-up to compensate. After a time, she met Fett. Dr. Narooga's games and constant enticements were also beginning to wear her out, physically and emotionally as well. At first, she played a bit hard to get, but soon found Boba Fett quite exciting.


Jisquina was bitter for a long time and spied on Irain as much as possible by doing various favors for various adepts of Zersaw, and other fringe members. She quite enjoyed this time, as it gave her a chance to practice a bit of thievery and skulduggery, and since she had a natural bent for it, it gave her a chance to practice and shine such skills and tertiary arts. She was natural-born gatherer, sneak and snoop with a cunning and highly vicious mind. She felt deep bitterness at being a victim.


Soon word got round among the upper-caste of the local Zersaw priests and acolytes. The clerics persuaded her, through various means, to join the crafty and adaptive Mir convent on Glorious Jewel.


After a few months of training in many fields like spying and more spying, and acting and being disciplined for any type of mission the clerics required, she was considered as an useful ally in their quest for more credits and power among the various and complicated strata of Imperials, Hutts, and Corellians.


However, her arrogant attitude soon pissed of some the clerics who made her look bad to the senior priests and other overseers, men and women of various species, but mostly galactic human.


"You must have more faith," they said and claimed.


"I have faith like Mir," she answered with passion, but she still subdued herself. She really wanted Irain back in her arms, but sometimes felt she wanted to drown her or expose her in the deserts of Nal Hutta, and then rescue her in a loving manner.


She was soon kicked out of the Mir convent on moral grounds and left to trek in the deserts of Glorious Jewel, where after a time and losing about fifty standard pounds, she had a vision of killing Irain.


***


Chapter V — "Blood Swamps and Secret Sorcery."


"You must have faith," said Astel through his rough translator.


"I believe in you Fett," added the Eternal Father of Zersaw.


Boba Fett won the next round and Bossk clung to his wrist in pain.


The game got more heated and Bossk and Boba Fett threw with such precision the locals were awed, and a betting got more heated as well. Astel was having a grand time.


Suddenly Bossk said, "Now you die Fett!"


He motioned to the black astromech droid who was nearby, and the little droid ejected a vibroblade that Bossk deftly caught. The crowd was shouting.


Fett ignited his flamethrower at Bossk who threw the blade at Fett's helmeted head.


Both weapons missed in the quick escalation. Bossk jumped over the railing where contestants of the space darts played. Fett ran for the exit after Bossk, whose quick legs had already carried him a long distance away.


"You're Wampa meat Bossk," crooned Fett.


***


Slave I was above Imperial city with its sensor jamming apparatus activated. Power in the ship was only auxiliary. Boba Fett was slightly nervous.


Slave I's computer suddenly alerted him that he had a homing beacon on the starboard side. Fett ordered it jammed, but the ship had too little power since only three-fourths of the necessary repairs were complete and his four main power generators were not up to speed.


The Hound's Tooth, suddenly from the shadow of a nearby large brown transport hauler above, swooped at Slave I with a battery of green forward firing lasers glistening in deadly rapid fire at Boba Fett's ship. The Tooth's signature dog-like howl of its ion engines echoed across the Imperial City air.


Fett dived and spun as best he could and felt the g-forces hit him hard. The Hound's Tooth, being a larger and bulkier craft, couldn't keep up, and Fett was now suddenly the hunter. Bossk was not worried. He kicked in the ion drives full blast and dove quickly through into the infrastructure of Imperial City weaving across the towers and traffic in a crazy manner with Slave I in hot pursuit under the shadow and bulk of the Super Star Destroyer Executor above Imperial City. Bossk's ship deflector shields were at full power and Fett's precise, but low power, red laser bolt barrages bounced off, as Bossk grinned heavily and drooled slightly.


Fett launched Slave I's missiles at the Tooth, as five black and red tinged Coruscant-class TIE interceptors began to chase and follow both interlopers of the galactic center at the heart of Palpatine's Empire. The missiles crashed into two shuttles as the Tooth pulled up and fired a backwards rocket that Fett dodged just in time and barely, and that blew up a careless TIE interceptor in a small yellow fireball. The Imps are going to be pissed thought Boba Fett. The Imps are really going to be pissed.


Bossk dived closer unto the city floors, as all ships followed into the fray and traffic. Boba Fett thought he was in trouble now. More TIEs appeared behind and in the front firing their guns. Explosions glared through his cockpit window. TIE interceptors raced passed him firing steadily.


Green laser bolts danced across Coruscant. The engines roared and the TIE's screeched and howled as the insane weaving began and lasted barely as yet another TIE interceptor crashed into a tower in a fiery blast. Another exploded into the heavy traffic.


Bossk was cursing. The TIE pilots were cursing. Fett stayed cool, as best he could under the circumstances. He knew he couldn't keep this level of maneuvers for long. He accelerated and wove as best he could through the streaming objects around him.


The TIE barrages of green streams of prolonged blaster fire were damaging both ships; Fett was barely able to speed and fly through, and sometimes above, dodging the heavy and insane levels of congested Imperial traffic while TIEs behind and ahead pursued the Galactic bounty hunters at full speed.


Both master bounty hunters knew they were in deep trouble. Bossk's planted neurotoxin kicked in, and he began to get dizzy and his eyes got watery. The Tooth began to weave unsteadily as if Bossk was heavily drunk.


"Tib...Tob...Tib!" muttered Bossk loudly.


His ship was smoking thickly so he decided to eject. He landed near a monumental statue of Palpatine the Great. Boba Fett ejected too, and ordered Slave I to hide nearby beside a tower. The Hound's Tooth crashed into the huge statue, toppling both with a heavy crash.


He rocketed down to Bossk, who was still dizzy and armed with his heavy repeating blaster.


They traded fire as the TIE interceptors raced overhead. Fett was in the air.


Boba Fett caught a bolt in his left shoulder and his arm went numb. He fired a wrist rocket at Bossk who jumped as the blast shattered and exploded beside him, burning him slightly in the explosion. A massive overhead walkway made of glass shattered from the energy and shockwave. The inhabitants and pedestrians fled as they were showered with debris and the panicked locals called in elite Stormtroopers to move in.


Fett landed beside Bossk, drew a massive Mandalorian vibroblade, and in one swift motion cut through the front of Bossk's neck. The drugged Trodoshan, clutched at the torrent of blood, now disarmed and dying. Fett rammed the blade in through his eye, and then rocketed up to the sensor masked Slave I.


He knew he had seconds. He cut power to the main computer and went manual; he punched into the hyperdrive motivator and calculated, or approximated, a nearby course under great duress, one-handedly.


He flew up above the city as much as could and kicked into supralight, something never done before in history of the galaxy. Millions of points of light turned into radiating lines of hyperspace.


***


Every alarm onboard Slave I was howling as it shifted in normal space in the middle of nowhere near the Galactic Core. Fett was breathing heavily. No one had ever shifted in hyperspace in a gravity field full of congested space traffic.


A million to one odds and he somehow made it, barely. Well, maybe not a million to one. He knew he would hear from Vader about this, later.


***


At Zyate's Tower, Gudor, Qdor, and Zyate met at the top levels of the Tower. The local pestilence from the lowest levels, the Undercity, was flying around as the Hutts munched on Zyate's Hutt fare, which improved considerably at the Tower now that Zyclan had moved into distant and far off corners beyond the galaxy, metaphorically speaking.


Qdor was smoking something he brought with him. Gudor was thinking about Jaceas, and Zyate was mulling about his irate wife Irina. They brainstormed ways to improve relations with the top-echelon of the Outer Rim Hutts who kept their business deals on short thrift since Admiral Junie was still technically in Imperial jurisdiction over the Smuggler's Moon.


"Many compliments my round brothers of the cursed cartel," joked Qdor.


"I find your humor misplaced master Qdor," said Zyate with a tired sigh.


"Mmm, master Qdor; I like the sound of that my round brother," stated Qdor.


"We shall see how the Outer-Brothers react to our selling the rapid fire blasters to the Slavers, mmm..." Gudor raised an eyebrow on his large eyes.


"This troubles me—," began Zyate in a delicate tone.


"They will attack the Rover scum, and we shall reap the profits, the other Outer...Brothers, will not suspect our deals, and we will reap the rewards of the Slavers as profitable contacts and possible guards and mercenaries in the future times ahead, now that the lazy, oh, ever so lazy Corellians are keeping a constant seat on the thrones of many sittings," laughed Qdor in a moderate tone.


"Yes—," began Gudor who still had visions of Jaceas as his consort and wife, if he could just find a way to tame the wild dancing girl.


"Mmmm..." said Qdor interrupting him.


"You must think of the future, brothers of the blessed cartel on this moon; we should contact the wily Jabba for a possible loan and offer some of the blasters to his small retinue, yes? Brothers?" said Qdor.


"Yes, as an incentive and initial free gift to further business, as is our ancient custom," added the middle-aged Zyate.


"Master Qdor is moving up in the blessed and cursed cartel, mmm," grinned Gudor despite himself.


Zyate glared mildly at them both for a quick, ever so faintly perceptible moment; he hated the Tower and didn't want the responsibility of dealing with all the local riff-raff and scum, but family tradition and his wife's nagging complaints kept him in the mire of the Tower's various dealings.


"We should hire more spies to find out how the Slavers have so much hard credits available these harsh and bitter days, the pit is indeed dark brothers," spoke Zyate in louder tone.


"Their network is too tight, they were trained by the hardened Rebel scum, and Roy is crazy, totally crazy, or so they say, mmmm," said Qdor evenly as he could as he took a puff of his Hutt pipe.


"Would like to try this Tatooine mixture Gudor my brother?" he asked nicely.


"Send me a box, perhaps my dancing girls will like it," answered Gudor.


"Like Jaceas," Qdor licked his lips.


***


Drayonn sat across from Hate, both looked kind of freaky at Zyate's Tower. The usual loafers and clientele avoided them and their bands.


Ikan-Dor disliked them both, but tolerated everyone Zyate ordered tolerated. His Gamorreans kept everyone away from their side-arms and various hidden implements.


Hate was smoking hosiri and offered a bit to the Tusken leader who declined saying his undead status was not affected by it.


Hate shrugged; her new consort Atilia eyed them both keenly.


"When do we attack the Slaver dogs?" asked Hate.


"In the darkness of the moon," stated Drayonn.


"You said that twice already, what are you on my dear?" she asked.


"I am the creature of blood foretold by Zersaw, Mir, and the great underlords of Hate and Death, since my conception as a child on Tatooine under the red moons," said Drayonn in heavily accented and rough Basic.


"Creature of blood, aren't we all," said Hate bitterly.


"Ahem," said Atilia curtly.


"Atilia, sweet, sweet honey, purr me a drink of my favorite Alderaanian white," she commanded with a fond look and a purr.


"I think Hatie you've had enough; we must be in fighting spirits soon," she noted gently and with quick hug over the sitting Hate.


"This creature wants blood and not credits," she said with a sigh, "We must bleed the slaves we captured dry, my girls are not chattel, Dray...onn," she noted with an uplifted and upward look that Drayonn thought was arrogant.


"The Slavers are Bantha blood," he motioned roughly with a flourish.


"Good, remember that Drayonn, remember that," added Hate.


***


"My precious face, aaaa!" spoked Admiral Junie to the Imperial medic.


"We can only make a partial restoration Admiral," said the medic calmly and matter-of-factly in his Coruscantian accent.


"If we got you into the Bacta treatments sooner, but these are the fortunes of the Galactic War Admiral, as you well know."


"Fortune is elegant and eloquent," smiled Junie evilly with a near-perfect bandaged face. Her face bore a terrible burn scar from the recent fighting on Ord Mantell. Five Rebel assault frigates had surprised and ambushed her convey, and also many desperate A-Wings and X-Wing sorties took their toll on her small yet disciplined fleet. She was now back in the place she hated. Nar Shaddaa. Captain Norg bailed the fleet out with his aggressive firing and tactics. It paid off, but the Rebels escaped into supralight.


"Admiral, Lord Vader wishes a status report on the HoloNet," said an aide with a curt salute as he walked into the medical quarter of the Invincible.


Admiral Junie tensed noticeably.


***


The Wookies were slightly demoralized by the loss of their leader who was now languishing on an Imperial slave colony in hard labor. They decided to wait and watch, and kept up pretenses at Zyate's Tower.


***


It was another spectacular dawn on the deserts of Nal Hutta where the band of fringe Sith outcasts camped with a small meal. Darth Eclectic had not eaten for almost a fortnight. His followers were excited and knew he was in a Sith trance. Gad still wanted revenge against Darth Trauma, but was waiting with Sith patience trained by many years of hardened discipline. They all knew like the dawn over the silent and endless desert their advent was now at hand. They trusted their blond leader.


Fraya had aged considerably through her harsh ordeal. She was wiser and swore to never visit Nal Hutta again. She prayed to Zersaw and every Galactic deity she could think of.


Unbeknownst to the Sith worshippers, Zeldarra was observing them through his Bounty Hunter Guild macrobinoculars from a very hidden vantage point in the mountain range near the ancient temple where Zersaw once sojourned and raided.


He was scared, but ambitious as to the possible future rewards.


***


"We have arrived at last my dark brothers to this place of ancient Sith power before the moon above was formed," said Eclectic ceremoniously.


They walked to the ancient temple, a small roundish building carved into the caves of the mountain in these ancient desert wastes.


"I sense a presence..." whispered the tall blond and gripped his lightsaber.


"We all do," said Dramatis.


Suddenly an ethereal blood-curdling howl and shriek emanated from the ancient cave.


Dark Eclectic ignited his pink tinged blade and walked into the shadows of the opening.


Suddenly a massive red Krayt Dragon (Sandi) reared its massive maw from beneath the sand and devoured Darth Trauma. The sand was sprayed with blood.


"Aaaaaa!!" screamed Gad.


Dramatis the Black fumbled with a thermal and dropped it beside him, and was gone. The thunder of the explosion and roar of the starving Hutt dragon Sandi, sent Gad and Eclectic flying. Fraya passed out.


Darth Eclectic stood aloof suddenly. He gripped the air and Force choked the massive creature of legend.


"Do not unleasssh him," yelled Gad.


Sandi was choking and trashed around in the sands of the Negrev. Sand was flying everywhere.

The creature fell.


Darth Eclectic walked into the temple aloofly, followed by the terrified Gad.


***


Zeldarra slithered down to Fraya and took out his Guild medkit. He injected Fraya the Princess with a concoction used to stimulate the usual Guild members, hardened types. She awoke slowly. Zeldarra then quickly applied various skin patches and hyposprays of various kinds to heal her burnt skin and emaciated condition; he also injected her with Bacta field serum three times and then with supra- vitamin and mineral and biomass vials.


"Let's get out of here," he said quickly.


Fraya nodded.


***


The pink and yellow light from the two Sith members' lightsabers gave enough light to make their way with ease in the cold rough-hewn cave. Neither of them could decipher the strange decorations and other features.


They came to a circular room where Zersaw stole the golden statute eons ago, or so it seemed.


In the four niches adjoining the room were carved sarcophagi of ancient Sith Lords.


"So much for your plan of ensssnaring the Hated One," said Gad harshly.


"Silence fool!" commanded Darth Eclectic.


Suddenly Afroi walked into room from one of the niches.


"I've been in the madness beyond death for a long time now because of you Eclectic; you will perish here and along with the last remnants of your pathetic band," said Afroi in strangely guttural and inhuman rasping voice.


"By Bane, Sidious, and Kaan and the Lords of Sith Hell, I am now a Dark Lord of Sith," he proclaimed in vile rasp that sent tingles in Gad's spine.


"You've just...cursed yourself...Afroi," answered Darth Eclectic.


Suddenly Afroi the Sith-zombie raised a hand and green fire consumed Gad. Her shriek echoed across the round chamber as the rancid smell of burnt lizard skin tinged the entire dry air.


"You tricks won't work on me Afroi!" yelled Darth Eclectic.


"Perhaps not," said Afroi the zombie and ignited his double-bladed red lightsaber.


"A duel worthy of the Sith Lords," whispered Afroi harshly and evenly, "The dark side lightning won't work on me fool!"


They both laughed maniacally.


The duel began in earnest.


***


"The Dark forces are strongest!" pronounced Afroi the zombie as he and Eclectic pressed against each other with their lightsabers. Then many slashes of pink and red followed as the air hissed and vibrated from the ancient glowing blades.


Both had many scars on their Sith bodies from the grueling duel. Eclectic tried to reason with Afroi promising him much.


"The fleets are going to be mine this time!" rasped the Afroi Sith zombie.


"Your power will always be incomplete and lopsided Afroi!" growled Darth Eclectic as he sliced and slashed heavily which was parried by Afroi's twin red blades quickly and evenly, as Afroi laughed loudly.


The spirits and ghosts of the ancient Sith Lords watched in glee after centuries of tormented and insane disembodied existence.


The room was shaking and rumbling. The power of the dark side filled the room. Darth Eclectic and Afroi were glowing brightly. The duel was escalating with greater ferocity and haste.


The two now masters of the Sith lightsaber, enhanced by the ghosts and dark powers here, moved almost faster than the human eye could follow.


Then suddenly Afroi exploded in gore.


"We have chosen you Darth Eclectic to carry our DARK FIRE across the galaxy, you are now our avatar," spoked the disembodied voices.


Suddenly Darth Eclectic glowed even more as he stood holding his pink blade upright and vanished.


***


Slave I exited hyperspace above the defunct shields of Nar Shaddaa. Jabba had graciously allowed Boba Fett to make repairs at one of his secret waystations near the Galactic Core and provided parts, credits, and expertise for the ever useful Boba Fett. He was impressed that Fett had dusted a bounty hunter of Bossk's reputation. And at the Imperial capital of the Empire: the imperium of Palpatine the Great.


Boba Fett was pissed. He wanted to connect to his secret project ‘Satellite Ring Rain' and did so. The secret project allowed his ship's mind probe to hack into the numerous Imperial HoloNet communication satellites over Nar Shaddaa and amplify the secret mind probe and scan massively in concert for relevant brain data pertinent to Boba Fett. Data streamed into Slave I's peripheral computer augmented for this purpose. After a standard hour of scanning, Boba Fett knew what he had to do.


He knew also that he owed Jabba the Hutt massively and would be in his direct service for a good long while now. His next stop after his business on the Smuggler's Moon was Jabba's palace on Tatooine. He prospected that he had enough time to finish what he wanted done.


Yet now unbeknownst to Fett, or his ship's scanning and processing hardware, a few of the Imperial HoloNet communication and scanning satellites, which were programed into the computer systems of the Super Star Destroyer Invincible to scan the moon below and spy for the ISB, as ordered recently by the newly scarred Admiral Junie, caused a massive glitch in the subsystems of the Invincible's tractor beam system. One of the beam engagements zeroed on Roy's asteroid which was being mined by some of the workers of the Slavers' Guild. The large asteroid shifted orbit by the powerful Imperial beams and began to make planet fall suddenly, as Fett's supped up ship began its graceful and measured decent to Qdor's maintenance bay in the Katt.


Boba Fett didn't care that some freefalling asteroid was plunging toward to Nar Shaddaa, his computer, like the warning space traffic monitoring stations across the Vertical City made the calculations that the rock would bash into the old Imperial Boulevard sector. The countdown began.


***


The Wookie marauders and crusaders murdered everybody at Zyate's Tower including Zyate, Gudor, Jaceas, and Ikan-Dor, after heavy, heavy and bitter fighting.


***


Drayonn was sucking on the blood of the fallen and deceased Roy. Most of his band of gaunt Tusken Raiders were dead. Hate and most of the Rover Pirate Sisters, like her new consort, were missing in action or dead. The new rapid fire blasters allowed the vile Slavers' Guild to have a high casualty rate among their besieging enemies despite being very heavily outnumbered by their concentrated enemies.


Only a few managed to get away before the Imperials began to move in. Drayonn fought bitterly to the bitter end, his face covered with blood from various bodies. His last words were, "I shall ever return!!!"


Roy's asteroid began to burn up slightly in the atmosphere of Nar Shaddaa.


***


Maxella, Dio, Drulas, and Katullus were fingering the last crumbs of the remaining Flying Grunge pies at the empty and desolate shop and licking their fingers for a long moments which began to feel even ridiculous to them all after a prolonged time.


"Well, we've all got to go sometime," said Drulas with a laugh.


Katullus cuffed him across the head, as Maxella broke into tears as Dio hugged and kissed him.


"I have an idea!" said Drulas, "Let's move into the Palpatine Gardens and plan a stand to sell pies!! C'mon boys we can do it! We can buy the Tanga Six recipe from them after Dio sells his..."


They ran for the Palpatine Gardens.


***


Sirens rang across the Vertical City. Admiral Junie after being informed of the situation opened her small private medpack and swallowed a quick poison made from the native plants of Tanga Six. She chose a quick easy death, rather than face an angry Lord Vader. This permanent escape she had planned well and thoughtfully.


***


The seconds were counting down and then climaxed as the moon of Nar Shaddaa was struck by tragedy a second time during this Galactic Empire period. The decorative Palpatine Gardens, and all who were nearby and there, were no more.


***


As the dirty and polluted air of the Vertical City was now even more noxious with thick smoke from the massive blast, Darth Eclectic stood outside Qdor's maintenance bay with his pink lightsaber ignited. He used the Force to clear his way of the unfortunate wayfarers in the vicinity. They flew in all directions scattered like toys by an angry child by this Dark Sith Lords' avatar. He knew the Hated One would be along shortly. He had felt his scan. He laughed as if possessed, and in a kind of way, he was possessed.

After dealing with Fett and the Emperor he wanted to do great holocaust of the denizen of this moon.


***


Boba Fett parked his ship on the street nearby, it was empty. Sirens still wailed across the sector.

He ordered a probe droid secretly. He was very glad the mind probe had worked. He knew he had only a small chance of beating the odds with a Dark Sith Lord.


***


Merdon, after his fill of religious and semi-religious escapades, just quit the fringe Zersaw cult and there would steady work for him now in all the sectors since this second disaster. Srio contacted him already with work since his son Oswaldy had enrolled in the Imperial Academy near a system by Ord Mantell—after very many heavy bribes and long diets. Somethings on the ancient spaceport Moon just didn't change.


***


Darth Eclectic stood in the empty maintenance bay of Qdor the Hutt. Everyone around him was dead; he had shredded them with mass bursts of Sith lightning and fire. He felt the young, fat Hutt quaking and hiding in the grills above. He knew now with his new power the galaxy would be his now. He did not care to bother with insignificant insects now. But he wanted to slice up Boba Fett in the most meticulous way before he would make for Coruscant.


Boba Fett approached with his remaining probe droids. They suddenly shattered with the wave of Darth Eclectic's hand. Fett stood aloof and grimly.


"So Dark Sider, you've had some adventures," he said.


"Pathetic fool, for scum like you it is over game," he bellowed and laughed glowing with the dark side of the Force.


"No it over game for you," hissed Fett and fired a stun grenade by his launcher and another one, not a decoy, and from the remaining hidden probe droid who had just seconds before hacked into Qdor's facility computer and activated the wiring for the mass of hidden thermals that Qdor had planted as a back-up plan in this lucrative maintenance facility, in case he would need to cover his tracks from his various enemies and the Imperials. The six second countdown began as the decoy stun grenade was Force pushed into oblivion by the tall blond.


The other non-decoy grenade fired by the hidden, inorganic, and silent Imperial droid stunned the glowing Eclectic momentarily, who yelled very loudly as Boba Fett blasted and rocketed to safety through the collapsed hangar/maintenance bay door as the thermals ignited and took Qdor and the new Sith Avatar to distant corners of the celestial spheres and hells. Boba Fett's armor was smoking from the blast as he landed by the newly repaired Slave I.


Bordella the Hutt approached with her head bowed; she was scared and humble.


"Baaa...I'm just a Bantha."


"Indeed," said Fett with a curt laugh.


"Don't worry; I'll give you good home at Jabba's Palace."


Boba Fett knew Lord Vader would grant him peace since he taken out a dangerous renegade Dark Sith Lord. He began to make very careful plans and preparations for the trip and service to Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine. He had his revenge.


THE END


***


Sleepo was watching hidden carefully in the shadows, he put the transmitter slowly near his thin lips, "Yes, my new Master, Lord of All. I shall follow him always as you wish, until the time comes."


Final Interlude: Fraya's and Maxella's Wedding.


Maxella had by great miracle survived the asteroid crash at the Palpatine Gardens, the others were not so lucky. He was bold enough now to approach Fraya with a marriage proposal, and she agreed. They flew to Quadratus Five for a big wedding ceremony on the holy mountain of Zersaw, and the temple.


Maxella thought he was in the heaven of heavens, Zersaw's Elysium. The honeymoon, well...


***


The imperial Medic from Coruscant stood over the sleeping Admiral.


"She'll be fine; we've managed to resuscitate her, Lord Vader."


Boba Fett shall return! With his one true love, or so it seems... in the Post-Empire period in: The Nar Shaddaa Chronicles: A New Space.


Added September 12, 2015
Updated January 14, 2016