Shortly after this the Hutts aligned themselves with the Honourable Union of Desevro and Tion and for a while managed to regain some of its former prosperity but this ended with the Tionese War and Nal Shadda sank back into obscurity becoming a haven for smugglers and other underworld acts. Law and order had long since ceased to exist and crime flourished. It became snidely known as The Smuggler’s moon and in contrast to Coruscant’s gleaming, luxurious looks Nar Shadda slowly slipped in polluted, congested cities surrounded by urban decay.
There was no law on Nar Shadda. After the Republic had left it in favour of more convenient worlds along better trade routes the moon’s fortunes had turned to the seedy side and it had been left to its own devices in the area of government and law enforcement. The sectors were ruled by various crime syndicates and turf wars occurred frequently between these factions.
It was on Nar Shadda that the smuggler turned hero Han Solo first began his career working under such famous smugglers as Salla Zend and Shug Ninx. Names I knew by reputation only and whispers overheard while I had worked at Jabba’s palace as a dancer. Solo had done a lot of work for the Hutts smuggling spice and other valuable cargos and had been one of Jabba’s golden boys before he had been caught and boarded by an Imperial patrol and forced to ditch a cargo that was worth more than most people made in a year. After that Jabba had placed a sizeable bounty on Solo’s head which was how he had gotten involved in the Rebellion somehow.
I thought about all of this as I scrambled up ladders, across walkways and sky-lanes. At one time this moon had been beautiful but now it was a decrepit mess which smelled just as bad as it looked.
I squatted atop one of the gantry ways I had discovered and watched the flow of movement below me. The area I had ended up in was a warren of ally ways, streets, covered over passes and walkways. It never stopped moving and the air was constantly full of traffic which only added to the noise and the small that forever permeated the place. At any given time this madness was a distinct disadvantage but right now I thanked whatever gods were watching over me for the chaos because it made blending in that much easier. I sighed as I dropped down from my perch to the walkway below it and continued towards my goal.
In a round about manner I had made my way via some fairly long and unorthodox routes to get to the area where the Grish’min Inn was situated. It was easy to blend into the crowds and dressed as I was no one even gave me a second look. A few times I stopped, slipping into a store under the pretext of browsing, to stretch out with my force abilities and see if I could catch the scent of anyone following me but as far as I could tell I had shaken the man Jyrki had set to tail me. By the time I had reached the backside of the Grish’min Inn it was dusk, the sun’s light fading into a hideous canvas of violent reds and purples.
The building was as ugly as its history and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the story the waiter had told me coupled with my vision or if I was projecting my own fears on to it but I thought the
I slipped into the
I stopped briefly to check with my data pad that I was still on the right track because none of the doors had any markings on them and several that I had tried has been locked. When I did find the right one, I was very relieved to find it unlocked and without an alarm. I slipped through it into a dirty looking service corridor and began to make my way down it to where the exit should have been.
For a long moment I stood staring at the thick durasteel door with its great lock and frowned. I used the force to see if I could discern if there were any sort of alarms attached to it but couldn’t find anything and it wasn’t as If I was particularly proficient this area of sneaking around anyway. With a shrug I withdrew my lightsaber, the one that had once been Jyrki’s from my satchel and used it to slice the lock open. The noise alarmed me in the quiet of the deserted hall and the stink from the melting duraplast and steel almost made me gag.
The lock, no match for the lightsaber’s blade, gave way and I nudged the door open with my foot. Careful not to touch the still red-hot durasteel I slid through the opening into a completely dark passage way. I looked back at the door, debating whether or not to seal it shut behind me then decided not to. This place had not been visited in a long time judging by how undisturbed the dust on the floor and the cobwebs all around me were and it was entirely possible that I would need an escape route.
I consulted my little data-pad to try and figure out where I was going. According to the plans I had this tunnel led under the Redbock heights to its neighbouring building, a somewhat run down apartment block, from there I would have to find my way across the main concourse to the
Navaari was going to be so pissed when I didn’t show up at my hotel room at our agreed on meeting time and I was beginning to think that perhaps he had been right in his statement about chaining me to the bed to make me stay put. The hotel cleaning staff might have looked at me a little funny but at least I would not be here in this situation now. The smell and the darkness were getting to me. Ever since Mattri I had difficulty being in dark confined spaces and the stale air this tunnel held was not helping the growing sense of panic I was feeling. Just breathe. I heard my Bunduki master’s voice in my head. Easy for you to say, I thought but I did it anyway and began to navigate my way through the darkness to the next exit.
The next door was not locked but it squealed horribly when I opened it making me cringe. No one had come down this way in a while. The small corridor I found myself in lacked the stench of the first but was no less dirty. I scowled as I brushed away cobwebs from my face. According to the data pad I had to go up into the main building to get down to the exit that would lead me under the main concourse to the buildings across it. Essentially I was walking in a great big huge U shape. I sighed and continued, keeping my senses open for anyone following me but as far as I could tell I was completely alone. This was a part of the Corellian Sector that few people ever got to see and I was betting even fewer knew about it. I kept going until I found what I was looking for and stepped into the small service tunnel that would lead me to the building I really wanted to get into. It was a convoluted route and it was taking up way more time than I had thought it would. Navaari would know now that I had gone off on my own and he would be furious. I wasn’t sure what scared me more, this tunnel or his anger.
The thick durasteel door that led into the Grish’min Inn opened easily. Too easily, I thought, given the difficulty I had with the doors leading to the other service tunnels which I had entered earlier. It made me wary but I sensed no danger when I reached out with the force only a sense of sadness and a lingering sensation of violence. Given the story the waiter had told me that was not so surprising. There were a lot of old, unhappy ghosts here and they were not overly happy about being disturbed.
I switched off the small torch I had with me and placed my palm on the door as it began to swing shut, letting it close quietly. It held no memories for me, which I thought was a little odd. I had seen flashes from the a couple of the other doors, nothing significant, more small snapshots of tired city workers called in to fix something. I waited for a few moments in the dark trying to get a feel for this place. I searched with all of my senses for any sign of my father but if he was here I could not find him. I drew a deep breath, turned the little torch back on and continued along the small service corridor which was supposed to end up in the boiler room. The
After what felt like forever I found myself in the
I breathed a small sigh of relief as I left the boiler room behind and found myself in the basement proper. I shone my light around and took note of the place. It was in a sorry state. The walls were damp and any paint that had been on them had long flaked or peeled off. I could see the droppings of animals all over the floor and the stench of decay and rot was powerful. I found it hard to believe the owner of this place still paid for it and refused to let it be torn down or renovated, the place was a wreck.
I stopped to consult the blueprints I had to see if I could locate the large room in which the slave auctions had once been held but there was nothing listed on the plans I had. This didn’t really surprise me much; such a place would not have been well advertised and in the time the building had been drawn out and built there could have been substantial structural changes made. I felt a wave of despair wash over me and for a second I truly wondered what I was doing. How could I ever hope to find my father, best Jyrki’s men and live? It all seemed so hopeless. It was as if the melancholia of the building was seeping into my skin turning me into one of its sad ghosts forever trapped in this awful place.
I leaned with my back against the wall and scrubbed at my face with the palms of my hands. I was tired and coming here alone had, as usual, been a very bad idea but, I rationalised, it had to be done. Jyrki was my problem and what he had done to my father made me angry beyond belief. I could not ask anyone else to risk their lives to help me in this thing because it was my problem alone to deal with. It was easy to rationalise my stupidity in this manner but a small part of me knew I was wrong and going off alone would only serve to make things worse not better. Thrawn had been right, I was reckless but this was Jyrki's fault, forcing my hand and it made me furious.
I felt that thread of anger and used it to stave off the terrible sense of doom I was feeling. I could almost hear the various teachers I had had in my life telling me to buck up and get on with it, to stop feeling sorry for myself and use all the lessons I had been given to the best of my advantage. In the dark I made a face at these unseen nagging voices and pushed away from the wall to study the blue prints once again.
There are always clues, you just have to see them, Master Kjestyll had once told me so studied the plans again, looking for the unusual. I found it by looking at what was not there and once I saw it I shook my head at the simplicity of it all. A hidden space made to look as though it were part of the foundation. A room without windows, large enough to contain a lot of beings, near enough to allow the sound form the warning siren across the street to sound through and difficult to find. I traced the only possible rout to it on the data-reader, memorised it and then, slipping the reader away, began with more determination to get this over with. For a moment I considered turning back to find Navaari and get help but then decided against it. This was my fight and Jyrki was my problem, I just hoped he wouldn’t be my death as well.