The following short story stands by itself. It's the tale of one man's justice in a world, a galaxy, of darkness. The time period isn't important, maybe not even the characters. But maybe there's a message or two to be considered. Enjoy.
by Darth Skuldren
Druckenwell: Sudell City, Night District
It's never truly night in the city. The sun sets and the sky turns black, but the lights are still on. A plethora of lights. Green, yellow, pink, and some colors visible only to certain species. Nevertheless, the people change.
During the day you see respectable people. Suits, dresses, the works. Families walk hand and hand while others chat on the phone. It's the kind of atmosphere that makes a person feel safe. People see one another and smile. You'd almost swear it was a peaceful galaxy.
Then the sun drops and the people change. Kids walking in gangs wearing outrageous clothes. Strangers in long coats and blank stares. Woman barely dressed. Everyone's got somethin' to sell or somethin' they wanna take.
You walk by someone at night and their eyes follow you with a predator's glare. Safety went down with the sun. In the darkness, the children of the night rule the streets.
So I seek my refuge in the cantinas.
"Hey Geldo, this ones on the lady!" Replied the bartender as he sloshed the drink down.
I looked over the bar at the lady in question. Beautiful, violet hued Twi'lek. Volumptuous. Trouble.
"Giz runner huh. Ask her to come over and join me." I said.
The bartender, a slim human, probably a native, walked over to the other side of the horshoe shaped bar and asked the lady. She looked over and smiled.
I watched her snake her way through the crowd. Place was packed tonight. First day of Spring, warm weather on the way, time to celebrate.
Finally she made her way to the seat next to me. Two thin pieces of cloth were held around her with an assortment of straps. It was the kind of outfit that left hardly anything to the imagination. And yet it was still enough to drive you wild.
"Names Geldo, thanks for the drink." I said with a smile.
"I'm Lema'Su, you looked lonely. Thought you could use some company." A sensuous smile crept across her intoxicating face. Bright blue eyes just stared on with intensity. It was the kind of pretty that seemed to glow.
"Yeah, long way out on the Corellian Run. Ship needed supplies, figured I'd spend the night, see what the darkness brings." Oh those eyes did the trick, was almost too much to think straight.
I took a sip of the giz runner, nice tart brew with a touch of fizz.
"So you hire out or run goods?" She asked.
The bartender returned with her drink, he set it down in front of her, gave her a once over and returned to the other customers.
"Mostly hire out. I like to keep an open schedule. More time for other things that way." That made her smile.
She scooted in a little closer, now her shoulders rubbed up on mine.
"What brings you out this way?" She sipped her drink, careful not to let any of the condensation from the glass to drip on her.
"Sunesi corporation needed a shipment of labor droids on Monor II. Simple run, easy creds. I knew some of the locals so I managed to cut down the usual middleman costs." I was about to move my arm around her when I spotted him.
In the dim light, he looked like any other human. There was nothing physically to set him apart. But I'd memorized that face from the pictures. There was no mistake. That was Shol Bershop. My target.
"Something wrong?" Lema'Su asked with a hint of worry.
"Yeah, piece of business I need to finish up. You got some way I can get a hold of you latter? Maybe we can pick up were we left off." My eyes never left Bershop.
"Sure...here, this is my number. Give me a call before you leave." She leaned in and gave me a slow kiss on the cheek.
It broke my heart to have to leave her cold like that, but I couldn't afford to let Bershop get away.
I cut through the cantina crowd best I could and followed my mark out the door. He was dead meat now. First rule when your on the run, never ever walk alone in the night. People disappear like that.
There were enough pedestrians on the sidewalk that I could trail my target with ease. Even a pro would have a hard time figuring out he was being tailed.
Bershop was wearing a brown hide jacket a little too large for his build. That meant he was packing. His gait was smooth and carefree. For a man in his business, he sure had a clear conscience.
An alley was coming up. I picked up the pace and closed the distance. Calmly I walked up behind him, then went up along side him as if I was going to pass him up and shoved him into the alley.
He fell on his side, one hand already inside his coat groping for his blaster. One swift kick to the stomach seemed to make him forget about the gun.
Without a word I reached in his coat, pocketed the blaster, and began to drag my prey down deeper into the alley, away from prying eyes.
I leaned him up on the plasteel wall and pulled out my blaster. He must've known his guns because one look at my Mandalorian disintegrator made his eyes grow wide and his face pale with fear.
"Please, please don't kill me! I never killed any of them! I sear!" He began to cry.
"Shut up." I said calmly. "You supplied the names, addresses. You picked the marks and set them up. You did everything but set the tableware."
"You don't know where he is...do ya'?" A small sliver of hope entered his voice.
I reached in my coat and pulled out a slender, long, clear jar. Inside, in some foul smelling fluid, were two dissected proboscises.
"The Anzat is dead." I said, sharply.
"Then your going to kill me?" He asked, trembling.
I looked into his eyes. They were brown and dilated. Full of fear. Yet I could see what was buried behind them. What horrors they had witnessed. My imagination could see it all.
A child walks home late from her aunt's house every Saturday. No one ever thinks anything about it, the neighborhood hasn't seen a crime in nearly a century. People are respectable around here. Trustworthy.
Bershop has watched the girl for three weeks now. Never a deviation. He told his boss the details and got the go ahead. So now he sits and waits.
Parked along the deserted street, he watches the little girl walk towards his groundspeeder. He notices she's humming. As she walks by, he gets out of the car. A wet rag in his right hand. Quickly he puts her to sleep and sets her in the backseat. As he drives away, he can hear the soft gurgling sounds as his boss unfurls his proboscises and drinks the poor girls "soup" in the back of the speeder.
The sound unsettles Bershop, but he reminds himself of the credits. Somehow it makes everything better.
The details were all to clear to me. I made the Anzat tell me everything before I sent him on to the next plane of existence. He made it half way through the third account before I began to send him away.
Now, looking at this wretched excuse of a being, I could see that he too began to enjoy the hunt. Maybe not the little kids but the adults. The ones who reminded him of everyone that ever got in his way. Anyone who ever made him ashamed of himself.
I pointed the gun at his knee and began to squeeze the firing stud.
Something hit me on the back of my head. Right at the base of my skull. A warm sensation flooded my body as my vision went dark.
I nearly lost it there for a second.
Slowly I heard voices.
"Quickly, get up, run toward the street! I'll take care of this."
The sound of footsteps echoed in my head. The woozy feeling was beginning to leave.
Quickly, I tried to snap to my feet, only to feel gravity slam me back down. Then the voice spoke to me.
"I don't know what you were planning on doing to that man but I believe violence was not the answer."
That voice. It was so smug and sure of itself. The object that hit me, it was small, metallic. A lightsaber hilt. Jedi.
"Look here Jedi, you're interfering in my business. That man is a murderer and you just let him get away!" I hollered at him.
"That may be but you can't go around dealing out justice. People are tried and convicted before they are executed." Replied the Jedi.
"Really? Well what happens when local and galactic security forces fail to stop the criminals? I don't see the Jedi looking into this murder. You know why? Because there's too much space and too many things on all your alls plates. Sometimes people like me have to step in and take care of business." I reached for my hold out blaster but some how he sensed it.
Of course he sensed it, he was Jedi. Before I was halfway through the motion, he ignited his lightsaber and grabed my hand. Though, he didn't actually "grab it" it just froze where it was at. I couldn't move half my arm.
"Now what?" I asked.
I could see him now. He was human too. Smooth, youthful face. Probably just got his lightsaber and was now out showing it off. The humming sound filled the alley, drowning out the sounds of traffic.
"Now you'll come peacefully with me and we'll sort this out with the authorit-"
I didn't give him a chance to finish. There's an old trick to taking out Jedi that one of my friends taught me. You think about one thing and do another. Works every time.
So while I was thinking about jail and stun cuffs, my hand was thinking lift gun, pull trigger.
A curl of smoke rolled out of the end of the disintegrator as I held it as a club. I was worried about the setting. Sometimes the old models get a little touchy and tend to go overkill. This time the Jedi was lucky. Nothing a little bacta wouldn't fix. The hit to his head might keep him out, then again, he might wake up as soon as I turn my back.
This time I hit him with the holdout blaster, set for stun. That oughta' do it.
Now, time to catch my mark.
I ran down the alley and into the street. Maybe two, three minutes passed in the alley. The runt couldn't have gotten far.
Taxis seemed to be scarce in this area, probably scared of the swoop gangs.
A small neon sign catches my eye. Liquor Store. Yeah, that fit the picture alright. Why run when you can hide, plus a little drink would probably hit the spot after having a blaster pointed at you.
So casually I walked across the street. It was a brightly lit place. Window was completely covered with booze ads and bikini models. A short furred Bothan display read "So cool it'll make your fur ripple."
The heavy door swung open on sensors, a small chime played in the store. Guy behind the cash register, Toydarian, gave me a look then went about his business.
Strolling on down the aisle, I went toward the back. Sure enough, there was Bershop. A bottle of Corellian Whiskey in his hands.
No time for stealth. Let's get this done.
In my line of work you could just put one in their head and end it. Quick, clean, but painless. And that was the point wasn't it? Justice. Punishment. Pain.
They inflicted pain on others without receiving any in return. My job was to give it back.
"Hello Shol." I raised the disintegrator and put one bolt through his knee.
He screamed and dropped the bottle. It shattered on the plasteel tiles.
Time was short, had to make this quick. One through the gut.
I paused. Made sure the pain had time to burn. It was my job.
The Toydarian started yelling about his shop, about the floor, about the mess.
"Almost done old man." I replied.
Third shot ended it. Job done. Went over to the Toydarian an pulled out a hundred cred chip. Placed it on the counter and left.
Street was still deserted and quiet. Authorities would be another three minutes probably. Rough part of town always gets pushed off a little. Never stops.
I made my way through the streets and back to the cantina. Still packed.
Looking around, I couldn't believe my eyes. She was still there. Still alone.
Working my way through the crowd, I sat down in her booth. Nodding to a passing waitress I made my order.
"Two giz runners." I turned to look at Lema'Su. "I would've never though I'd make it back here and still catch ya'."
Her smile melted my soul. "I knew you'd come back. You couldn't stay away from me too long."
"You got that right."
The night went on and things went fine. No one went looking for me at the cantina or later on, at Lema'Su's. I never saw that Jedi again but I learned my lesson. Watch your back. Always.
The family that gave me the job were pleased to hear I got the two scumbags that killed their daughter. They offered a reward but I let them keep it. I always did. The big difference between legal and illegal is bounty hunters get paid, vigilantes don't. Somehow even the authorities see it that way. Even the Jedi.
Doesn't matter to me. At the end of the day the bad guys are gone. That's enough to make me happy. I've gotten good at evading the law. It's not hard. Guess that's why I stay busy.
"I believe toys resonate with us as humans, we can hold them, it's tactile, real! They are totems for our extended beliefs and imaginations. A fetish for ideas that hold as much interest and passion as old religious relics for some. We display them in our homes. They show who we are. They are signals for similar thinking people. A way we connect with each other...and I guess thats why I do toys. That connection." -Ashley Wood