|Posted on August 16, 2010 at 9:42 PM|
Raising an Empire
A long time ago, and in a galaxy far, far away...
Recently defected senator, Count Dareios, has vanished off the Federation's radar, and is presumably aiding the fabled unground resistance.
However, the Jedi Council, influenced by the Three Oracles, has decided to put out very little effort in retrieving the rogue senator. A decision which leaves the admiral of the Federation's Free Army, Han Solo, with his hands tied behind his back.
Meanwhile, in Mos Eisley the bounty hunter Attika meets with a new client. Unknown to him now, but this next job will soon cost more than its worth...
The small motel room was barely lit, and Attika cold hardly make out the features of his new client. He was human, and dark complicated, which made it even more difficult to discern the characteristics of the man. But no matter, Attika liked him instantly, because he got straight to the point.
"Count Darios is here in Mos Eisley. I need you to kill him. It'll be ten thousand in local currency up front, and thirty more when the job is done."
Attika sat for a moment, tapping his fingers on his knees where they came through the holes of his jean. He was almost thirty, and had done a good job in his career as a bounty hunter of remaining neutral. No hunter wants to draw attention to themselves from the authorities, and you avoid attention by not accepting jobs against known figures; such as celebrities, Jedi, officers and politicians. If it had been two years earlier, he would have refused the job instantly. But Darios had fallen from grace, and was a fugitive, even by the Jedi Council's standards, which had grown very lackadaisical in the past decade.
The times were changing.
"I'll do it."
"Good." His client slid a metallic case across the small table, he told him the code to the lock.
The money was there.
"Do you know where I can find Count Darios?"
"My sources tell me he frequents The Cyprus, a tavern, have you heard of it?"
"Come back to this room when its done to collect the rest of your payment."
He nodded again, and rose to leave, but his client called him back.
"You call yourself Attika, but that's not your real name. Are you one of the survivors?"
He nodded once more.
"My condolences, your people were kind and generous. It's a shame what the Empire did to Attika."
"That was a long time ago." And with that, he made his leave.
Lando Calrissian sat quietly considering the hunter he'd just met. He reminded him of younger days. A time when he and Han Solo ran amuck with their short-lived partnership in the smuggling trade. A smile came across his now wrinkled face, those were easier times, healthier times. Before he landed himself in politics, and Solo became a commanding officer for the Federation. They'd seen a lot of action in their day, but now the most action they saw was strategically planned from behind a desk and carried out by others.
It pained him that he had to use his own funds to kill Dareios, not because it was a lot of money, but because it was a sign of incompetence. He felt sorry for Solo, who is in Naboo arguing with the Jedi Council. He knew if it had been up to Solo, Dareios would have been arrested, tried, and executed for treason long ago. But the Council was softened by superstition, and inaptitude. He was glad to help Solo, though he didn't like having to go behind his back to do it.
Rumors of a rising empire had Solo, Lando and a few others working overtime, but so much of what they could legally do or by authority was governed by the Jedi Council. The Council needed a wake up call, or they would eventually be overthrown.
Indeed the times were changing.
Attika stepped into The Cyprus to see that it was packed with customers of varying types; some bounty hunters, some mercenaries, some fugitives--he felt right at home with these scumbags. The tavern was covered in a brown haze of smoke that smelled stale, the floor stuck to the bottom of his boots. He passed an eight-armed woman, who represented the house band. Her skin was blue, her hair was pink, she was playing five instruments, and singing in a dialect he didn't recognize. The song had a loud, thumbing bass beat that vibrated the sticky floor beneath him.
He approached the bar, ordered a drink, "Something strong," he'd said. He took the yellow cup with something green and steamy inside, and then he retreated to a corner table. From there he could casually survey the place for his prey, while sipping his nectar. He spotted Count Dareios in the opposite corner of the tavern, and he quickly noted that he wasn't alone. Sitting across the table from him was a man in a black cloak, the hood of which he wore up to disguise himself. He could spot his nose, and a faded goatee. It was an older gentleman, so most likely a corrupt ally in politics, and this no one of any threat to Attika.
He took one last sip of the green nectar, which was indeed strong, then rose and carried it to the bar. He spotted that the toilet was located behind his prey's booth, and handed the cup to the bartender, "This is weak," he said. "Where is the toilet?"
"Over there." The bartender pointed him in the right direction, and then discarded the contents of the cup into a sink.
The woman started a new song, this one was much more fast-paced then the previous, and was heavy on the percussion side. He could feel his adrenaline kicking in, a tingling sensation moved throughout his body, and a warmth came over him which was followed by cold. This was all normal, this is how it felt to be a hired killer. Walking towards the toilet now, he discretely set his blasters to charge, he carried one on each hip. He knew it would take about three seconds to have enough energy to kill his prey at a close range.
He was three tables from his target now, and on the corner of his eye he saw the cloaked man thrust his palm with the force of a punch. Suddenly, he was airborne, and crashed through a table and hit the bar.
The music stopped.
"A Jedi," he mumbled. "Perfect."
The Jedi was standing in front of Dareios, who still set at the table. He was looking straight at Attika through his hood. Seeing his face now, he recognized him as Demaratos, a member of the Jedi Council. Attika had no desire to spar with the Jedi, or the Federation, and rose to his feet with his hands held high, and with a smile on his face.
"I have no beef with you, Jedi." He pointed to Dareios. "He's the one with the bounty."
Demaratos continued to stand his ground, and Attika noticed that his right hand was resting on his lightsaber which was resting on his left hip. When he finally spoke, it was slow, deliberate and authoritative, "I suggest you walk away while you still have legs."
"Take it outside!"
They ignored the bartender's plea, and stared at each other. Attika's hands were gripped to their blasters, ready to draw but knowing it would futile to do so against a veteran Jedi Knight. Blasters weren't going to work in this fight, he needed something else.
He noticed movement on the corner of his eye, and saw a figure he recognized as a fellow bounty hunter. The hunter was standing behind Demaratos, and very near the table where Dareios remained. Attika couldn't quite tell what was happening, and wondered if the Jedi master had already sensed the trouble.
"Well." He said, removing his hands from the blasters and casually looking about the room. "I have no desire to fight you, Jedi. But I would like to collect my reward. Perhaps some compromise cold be arranged. Let's negotiate." As he spoke, and gazed around the tavern, he was only interested in the other hunter. He saw that he had a grenade in his hand, shielded by his leg to Demaratos, and he could see that the grenade was set. He was aiming to take out his target, and no doubt collect his reward.
The hunter gently tossed the grenade under the table, and dove in the opposite direction. Attika fell to his knees, and quickly covered his face with his forearms. Dareios saw the grenade toss, and got his legs out from under the table and jumped on top of it. It was at that point that the grenade ignited, sending Dareios and the table straight through the wall behind him and into the street. Demaratos had not sensed the other hunter, as he was bestowing all his focus on Attika, and was caught completely off guard. He was thrown forward, landing just in front of Attika.
Attika drew his blasters, slapped Demaratos in the head with one (for good measure), and followed the other hunter though the smoke and debris. In the street, he shot the hunter with his left and took aim with his right at Dareios.
Dareios looked up at him from the ground, his face fairly damaged from the blast, and bleeding profusely. "You're making a huge mistake."
"I get paid. There ain't no mistake in that."
He shot him once in the head, and twice in the heart. He leaned down, grabbed his shirt and tore it straight down the middle. There, on his chest, he could see the senator's creast. He wore it about his neck, as all senators of the Federation do. Though, most senator's don't hide it under the shirt, but proudly boast it in front. But Dareios was dirty, and this medalion was going to be the burden of proof that Attika needed to collect his reward. He tore it from his neck.
Not knowing what state Demaratos was in, and not caring to find out, he ran from the scene and borrowed a landcruiser for a speedy getaway.
When Demaratos came to, the bartender was attempting to nurse his wounds. Irritated, he used the force to kock the man back about ten feet. He pulled himself up, shook off some of the dust, but mostly he was regaining his bearings.
"Ingrate." The bartender said, but again was ignored.
Demaratos walked out of the tavern through the hole in the wall, where he had once been enjoying a drink and plotting with his comrade. A small crowd had gathered around, and he pushed through to the front. He could see that Count Dareios had been badly wounded by the blast, but what realy made him steam was he could see he'd been shot three times. Once in the head, and twice in the chest. To the right of his body was the second hunter, which meant one of two things: they weren't working together, or the first one got greedy. He certainly was not shot in the back by Dareios, who would have no doubt been in much pain after the blast, and who had no weapon on his person.
He sighed. This was going to slow things down a bit, and would most likely bring some unwanted attention to himself. As of this moment, he figured his cover was blown.
He bent down to check the pulse of his friend, and he was dead. But that wasn't going to be good enough, he figured. He checked around, and the response time of the local authorities was typical. No one was there yet. He took the dead senator, and slung him over his shoulders. Nobody argued, or stood in his way, but rather made a hole in the crowd and watched as he walked away.