Korriban Nights: Chapter IV
“What was it called again?”
“Like the planet?”
“No, like the…”
Slaine caught Mari’s look. This slicer-guy was doing them a favor after all.
“Yeah, like the planet.”
The slicer nodded and readjusted his neural-web.
“This will take a few minutes.”
“Great. I’ll be in the little bounty hunter’s room.”
Time is catching up with me, thought Slaine. He pressed the small vapo-tube to his nose and fired a charge straight up his left nostril. The powerful burst rocked through him like electricity. He was awake again now. How many days had it been since he had slept?
It didn’t matter. He splashed cold water on his face and tried to get a grip on himself.
Outside, Mari was nervous. She was confident that Mack the Slicer wasn’t going to try anything funny, but Slaine was another matter. She wasn’t sure what was going on in his head — she wasn’t sure if she wanted to know.
“That’s funny,” said Mack as he opened another view.
Mari turned to see Slaine behind her. She hadn’t heard him come back.
“Your ‘Korriban Nights’ doesn’t exist anymore. On the surface it looks like it never existed — but that’s impossible. There should at least be random combinations out there of the words Korriban and Nights… or weather bulletins and stuff… the phrase ‘Korriban Nights’ should exist out there somewhere but it doesn’t. It’s, like, impossible.” Mack didn’t seem to enjoy impossibilities creeping into his work. He grabbed for another powerdrink.
“So,” asked Mari, “what does that mean?”
“It means that someone is blocking searches for it. It means that someone doesn’t want people finding anything to do with it.”
Slaine peered at the screen. It looked like gibberish.
“Can you get around it?”
“Maybe. It will take time.”
They agreed to split up and meet again at Mack’s office/crashpad in a few hours. Mari would borrow Mack’s speeder as she had the largest area to cover. She needed to see if she could arrange some last-minute fake documents for Slaine and his ticket off world.
“What are you gonna do?”
“Check out some skin shops.”
Down in the redlight district, Slaine didn’t have trouble finding people who wanted to talk about sleazy vids. It was getting them to say something useful that was a problem.
He left the sixth store with nothing more than a headache and a solid offer on “Ithorian Nights: Twice the Mouths, Twice the Fun”.
He looked up and down the street for a minute before making his way with low expectations to the next “entertainment emporium”.
The flashing sign above the door read “Terminal Pleasures”. The store itself was like every other he had seen, a mix of toys, discs, vids, outfits…
“Welcome, customer. How may I help you meet your needs tonight?” asked the merchant droid behind the counter.
“I’m looking for a vid…”
“Excellent, may I offer ‘Twin Twi’leks in Twouble’?”
Slaine regretted coming in already.
“I’m looking for something called ‘Korriban Nights’.”
The droid stared at the ceiling.
“Accessing inventory records. Please, be patient.”
A head popped out from out of a private-viewing booth.
“Did you say ‘Korriban Nights’?”
The strange man and Slaine stood cramped in the booth. The now forgotten holovid played on in the background.
“Look, buddy, if you try to get weird on me, I’ll smash your face in.”
The man licked his lips, “Maybe some other time… but you want to talk about ‘Korriban Nights’, right?”
‘Yeah. What do you know about it?”
The man fidgeted. “Not enough, not nearly enough. No one has ever seen it.”
Slaine didn’t correct him on this point.
“What is it?”
“Don’t you know? I figured you were a fellow collector. It’s the real thing, man. The real Sith-on-Sith action. Here…”
The man ran out of the booth and returned a few seconds later with a handful of holovid cards.
“You see these? ‘Sith Torments VII’, ‘Darth Pervia: Mistress of the Sith’, ‘Sultry Sith Fantasies’. Do you see? They’re all fake! Not a real Sith in any of them… But ‘Korriban Nights’ is special…”
“Because it’s real Sith.”
The Collector smiled. “Real Sith. And that’s why they are willing to kill for it.”
As Slaine rode the turbolift up to Mack’s place he went over the Collector’s words again.
“It was an amateur job — probably a hidden camera. Somehow it got out and a few copies were made. Everyone involved has disappeared or met an accident or been murdered. It’s almost legendary now. There had been a rumor going around in the community that a copy, maybe the last copy, was on the way here to Ord Mantell. But as usual, the chatter’s gone silent again.”
He buzzed the door and it opened. Mack was sitting by his screens.
“Hey,” said the slicer, “I think i might have something for you.”
“Great. Where’s Mari?”
“Not back yet. Come look at this.”
Slaine took a few steps towards the the rewired info-banks and stopped. Something wasn’t right.
As soon as he drew his blaster he felt it wrenched from his grip. He turned and saw Blue Eyes standing between him and the door. Blue Eyes lowered his outstretched hand and smiled.
Mack crawled underneath his desk. Slaine looked around the room. Lots of monitors, a chair, big windows — but he was too high up to jump…
“Can we talk about this?”
Blue Eyes loosened his stance and slowly walked towards them. Slaine drew his own vibroblade from under his longcoat. He kept his fingers tight on the hilt — he didn’t need to have this magicced out of his hand too.
“Where’s your friend?” They began to circle each other. Blue Eyes was still unarmed.
“He has the night off. I can handle this alone.”
Slaine lunged and brought down his blade in a sweeping strike but Blue Eyes side-stepped it as easily as if he had known it was coming. Then, after smiling at Slaine again, he reached behind his back and there was a loud snap-hiss.
Slaine stood mesmerized as the red blade of the lightsaber hummed through the air and sliced his vibroblade neatly in two.
Slaine cursed and threw the useless hilt at Blue Eyes, who deflected it with a wave of his hand.
“Stand still and I’ll make this quick.”
Slaine stared at Blue Eyes as he raised the blade high above his head. The bounty hunter imagined that he saw a halo or aura glow around Blue Eyes… but then he realized that it was something else — light coming from the large windows behind him. Bright lights. The lights on the front of a speeder.
Mari rammed the speeder through the glass-steel windows, sending Blue Eyes flying into a bank of terminals. The cold outside air mixed with the climate-controlled apartment’s pseudo-environment with a roar like thunder.
Slaine toppled a stack of monitors onto what he assumed was Blue Eyes and then dropped a thermal detonator.
He pushed Mack into the speeder and, jumping in behind him, screamed, “Drive!”
Mari had just enough time to spin the speeder and dive before the apartment exploded into a bright orange fireball. Mack was crying in the passenger’s seat. Slaine, in the backseat, grabbed him by his collar.
“You sold us out!”
“No! I didn’t do anything! He must have traced the searches, must have found me some how! I don’t know. While you were gone he showed up at my door. What was I supposed to do?!”
Mari was disgusted and afraid. “Stop snivelling…” She looked at Mack and realized that the strange throaty sounds coming from him weren’t expressions of shame or remorse but rather the result of Slaine’s garrote.
“What are you doing?!”
The speeder dove uncontrollably while Mack clawed at the monofilament as it cut into his flesh. Mari slapped at Slaine’s shoulder and face as he tightened the garrote. The bounty hunter looked at her with a cold expression. “Drive the damn speeder!”
Slaine dumped Mack’s body out of the speeder and it disappeared into the blackness of the night. Mari clutched the wheel, her knuckles a painful white.
“You killed him. I can’t believe you killed him. I can’t believe –”
Slaine pried her fingers from the controls. The speeder hovered far above the cares of the city. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her.
When they broke apart, Slaine wiped the tears from her cheek and whispered, “It had to be done, kid. It’s just us. You and me together. We had to do it. We’re survivors.”
She put her face on his shoulder and they held each other tightly.
They were survivors. For now.