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The Things We Leave Behind 4

Coruscant had not changed much at all.  It was as busy and as cluttered as ever. We cleared through customs with an ease that made Ged raise his eyebrows at me.

My answer was tart. “I told you so.” 

He nodded. “Yes you did so I owe you a drink.”

For much of the trip he had questioned the plan I had put into place because it wasn’t military or strategic enough. I had told him that the last thing we needed was anything that smacked of either military or strategy. Civilians in an old beat up civilian ship would not have any idea of military strategy of any sort. We needed to seem harmless and somewhat clueless. It was not so easy to convince a man with Ged’s brilliance to act like a moisture farmer form Tatooine on his very first trip to the core. Eventually he gave up arguing, especially when I told him that the ship’s various disguises had all be previously set up by the best there was. “Trust me, “I had said, “No one is going to look twice at us, they have bigger banthas to chase.”

I navigated the ship through the traffic and landed quietly at the building Thrawn and I had once lived in. I had contacted Shiv to let him know I was coming for a visit and he had let me know that the codes had not changed but that both he and Ynyth would be off world. I was sad to miss them but at the same time it would make things a lot easier for Ged and myself.  At least I would not have to explain Ged’s presence to Shiv because that would have been difficult. 

As we stepped into the flat I was both happy and sad to be there. It had changed significantly. All vestiges of Thrawn’s personality had been replaced by Shiv and Ynyth’s and it was lovely. On the dining room table was a note which said “Food in the fridge, spare room all set up you, useable cred chip the desk drawer for you if you need it, you know where everything is. Make yourself at home. Sorry we won’t be there but it’s a family thing so we can’t get out of it. Have fun. – love Shiv and Ynyth”

I watched as Ged dropped his pack on the floor and looked around.  “Nice place.”

I smiled. “Yes it is.” I glanced around. There were a lot of memories tied up here and most of them were extraordinarily happy ones.  I glanced at the chrono on the wall and took note of the time.

“We should eat before we head out. Where we are going doesn’t have a decent cantina.” I said as I unpacked my gear and laid it all out on the floor, looked it over then repacked it again. “We have two choices, we can order out or I can cook and I don’t recommend option number two. If it’s still around I knew a really great Zabraki place that delivers.

“I keep forgetting you used to live here and Zabraki sounds good.” He said sitting down and hauling out his datapad.

“When are you meeting your contact?”

“In just over an hour.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?”

“Yes very. He’s taking a risk meeting me as it is and your face was once splashed across all sorts of holo and news vids along with Grand Admiral Thrawn’s and you have a memorable face Merly no matter what you might think or what your crazy uncle did to delete you from the records people here knew you so no you don’t get to come with me.” He said. “Now order us some food and we can finalise the plans. I do not want to spend too much time on this planet. If we can’t find Behl or can’t get him out within the next forty-eight hours then we need to make sure we don’t get caught here ourselves.”

“Why the strict deadline?”

He wavered for a second and then said. “Because I don’t want to get caught and I need to get back to my ship.” He spoke the truth but he was hiding something behind it. He watched my face carefully and knew that I had caught him.

“I don’t know how Vader or Thrawn ever put up with you; just take my word for it we need to leave here in forty eight hours.”

I sighed and he glared at me.

“Okay, okay.” I said giving him a mock salute and went to order food, which felt familiar and strange all at the same time.  While Ged checked his own gear and changed into clean clothes that would help him blend in, I set the table and tried to shake the weird sense of having done this all before as well as the feeling of impending doom. I was quite certain that Thrawn, Uncle Vahlek as well as Navaari would have some choice words for this plan and my involvement in it but they were not here and I was and, as Ged had pointed out, Jarack was someone I cared about, never mind all the other secret spy stuff that made it an imperative to get him back.  When the food arrived we ate in silence, locked in our own thoughts preparing for what it was we were going to try and do.

On the flight to Coruscant we had discussed the plans so much I could recite them in my sleep. It had seemed simple on paper but not so simple now that we were here.  We had an approximate time of Jarack’s disappearance, and a fairly good guess about where he was being held but apart from that there wasn’t much to go on.  Ged’s people on Coruscant had begun a search on the quiet, looking for clues and possible indications that the rebels, or better to call them, the New Republic government, really did have some sort of secret detention center and they found it or at least they believed they had found it. Now it was up to me and Ged to confirm it and rescue Jarack because anyone else going on this crazy hair brained mission was not something Ged would allow. Apparently a couple of agents had already attempted a rescue mission and had failed spectacularly. Ged would not give me any details which meant it must have been a complete and utter mess. These had been trained professionals who had failed at their job and now he had chosen me instead to back him up. I wasn’t worried about this or anything, no not at all.

“How long will you be?” I asked as Ged got ready to leave.

“I don’t know.”

“You’ll need this to get back in here then.” I handed him a card-key.

“Thanks.” He said with a nod and then he left.

I left out the breath I felt I had been holding since the moment we had arrived on the planet and sank down into the couch. It had been well over two weeks since I had said goodbye to Thrawn and now I was here on Coruscant, right back where I had started.

The last I had heard about Thrawn’s campaign was that it was advancing. He had been successful in taking Generis and had been planning his next move which was rumoured to involve Bilbringi but I didn’t know what that was and Ged had been taciturn about the entire subject on the trip to Coruscant. I had been kept out of the loop for most of the campaign and while sometimes I wished I knew more, for the most part I was almost glad I didn't.

Thrawn’s entire campaign had been a series of hit and run style attacks. He knew he did not have the manpower to just come in and sweep the galaxy clear of the rebels so he devised a different tactic.  It was only after he had recovered much of the lost Katarn fleet and found success with the cloning facility on Mount Tantiss that things started to speed up. Now I knew he was planning his final push although I didn’t know when or exactly how only that he would be headed here and when that happened I hoped I wasn’t on the planet or anywhere near it. I must have drifted off to sleep because it was late and dark when Ged came in.

“Grab your gear.” He said shaking my shoulder. “We need to go now.”

I woke up instantly, grabbed my satchel and before I even had time to really think about it we were out the door and on our way to catching public transport. We had dressed to blend in and we did, slipping into the crowds like ghosts. It was odd to be back on the planet, even stranger to see how much things had changed and yet had stayed the same.  The Emperor had been dead for over nine years and Coruscant had been under New Republic rule for six. There were remnants of the Emperor’s rule to see if you really looked for them but they were far and few between.  The government had changed and people had accepted the change and moved on with their lives. It was exactly as Thrawn had once told me, as long as things worked and people were warm and fed they didn’t really care who was in charge.

We took one of the more crowded commuter shuttles that routed through the industrial part of the city before heading into COCO town and then onto what used to be known as the Imperial Center. It was a roundabout way to get to where we wanted to go but if anyone was watching us Ged thought this would confuse them. I kept my senses wide open but I never got the feeling anyone cared about us or what we were doing. To the rest of the world we looked like two ordinary people heading home from work. I guessed it was a good thing I had gotten so little sleep on the flight to Coruscant, it added to that overworked, stressed out all I want to do is go home and sleep look I was sort of going for.

We got off the red line shuttle a few blocks from where Lord Vader’s residence had been and walked the rest of the way. I was surprised when we found the building still standing; I was even more surprised that it appeared to be unused. Prime real-estate on Coruscant usually did not lie empty for long.

“People think it’s haunted.” Ged whispered as though he had been reading my mind. “They tried developing the building for apartments and it didn’t quite work out they way they had hoped.”

“Good for us.” I muttered under my breath and led him to the one door I hoped no one had bothered to mess about with much. I held my breath while Ged looked around us to keep watch and punched in my code. I nearly jumped out of my skin when the door opened with an audible thunk.  Not waiting to hang around and see if we’d set off any alarms I grabbed Ged’s sleeve and yanked him inside  allowing the door to shut tightly behind us.

The place smelled musty and unused. I switched on a small flashlight and took a few seconds to remember the layout of this place in my head. “Come on, this way.” I whispered.

If looters had ever come here hoping to find anything of value they would have been sorely disappointed. Lord Vader had lived sparsely in this place. It had been one of the things I had commented on when he had been in a sociable mood which had never been very often. Jix Wrenga, one of Vader’s go-to guys, had also joked about the lack of decor with me whenever he was around, commenting that it was such a waste of space to not fill up with clutter like the Emperor.  Now I was grateful for Vader’s sparse decorating style it meant less to trip up on and fall over in the semi darkness.

We walked quickly and kept quite. Conversation could wait until we had reached the underground passageways that led from this building to the Imperial Palace. We did not want to attract any unwanted attention. I kept all of my senses open but felt nothing unusual or strange. No one had been here for a long time and somehow that made me melancholy. While I had never been overly fond of this place I had liked the man who had lived here and in that moment I suddenly missed him even though he had been dead for over nine years.  Ged, who always seemed to have the ability to pick up on my feelings, touched my hand lightly with his.

“Are you alright?” He asked in a hushed voice.

“Old ghosts.” I explained and kept on moving.

Through a series of hallways and stairwells we eventually reached the entrance to the series of tunnels that led to the palace.  I had always thought that calling them tunnels was a misnomer since they were more like back alleyways through a variety of hidden passages that went through parts of buildings no one knew or much cared about. At the height of the Empire, when Vader actually spent time here all, of the surrounding area was mainly used by imperial workers and housed offices, now I wasn’t sure what they were but I was certain no one had figured out the incredibly labyrinth of passageways that utilized the entire area.

I guided us down through the one I remembered being the least used. It was small and over the years a lot of dust had gathered telling me that I had made the right choice this time and after what felt like an eternity we found our way into the Imperial Palace.

To say that the Imperial Palace was huge would be an understatement. People had gotten lost in the building only to be found year later after having died. When I had lived here I had loved it but now it was like returning to a beloved home after many years to find it had been taken over by a new family and changed.

I led Ged through a series of maintenance tunnels which appeared not to have been used in a very long time. They had their own turbo lifts leading down into the basements and subbasements so that workers could go about their business without disturbing the palace dwellers or people who worked there. I had used this system of tunnels before and the memory of that wasn’t an overly happy one. When we were deep enough into the building that I was sure no one would discover us we stopped to drink some water and rest a bit.

“Okay, so tell me what happened with your contact?” I asked as I studied the data-pad with the blue prints.

“He said they were planning on moving all the detainees tomorrow night. There have been some problems at the palace a break in or some such nonsense; attempted kidnapping of Leia Organa Solo’s babies and security has been increased. The people in charge of the detention center apparently don’t want anyone stumbling on their dirty little secret. So if we are going to accomplish the mission it has to happen now.”

“Nothing like a deadline to make a person motivated.” I said making a face. “You really think he’s still alive?”

“I sure as hell hope so.” Ged said with a snort. “The last good intel I had said he was, but of course that could have changed and totally accurate information is difficult to come by. The rebs have some good security here and already they’ve managed to ferret out three of my agents.”

“Maybe your agents are just bad at their jobs.”

“Well these days good help is hard to get.” Ged replied flippantly. “Actually it’s more like I still have traitor issues to deal with. Okay so what’s next.”

I tapped the data-pad. “We need to go here. Isard had her offices here and here there should be a small intelligence prison complex.” I said, “But the problem is we’ll have to actually cross some more open areas to do so but at this time of night and so deep down into the building I doubt there will be many people around. Then, if your people’s information is correct, we should be looking at finding those detention centers somewhere here, if they still exist. All of the infrastructure needed to detain and interrogate people would be in place and not that many people would ever come down here. Isard made sure that this part of the palace was difficult to get to and well guarded.”

“Okay, let’s get on with it.” Ged said and we did.

We walked quickly; keeping quiet and, as we crossed areas more open to scrutiny, we stayed in the shadows with our eyes open. I was surprised at how deserted the palace now felt. When the Emperor had been in place it had bustled with workers, droids and all manner of beings, now there was no one and nothing around, not even any cleaning droids to see and if the dirt and dust that lay around was anything to go by no one had cleaned down here in a good while. It felt as though we were gone for days, wandering around in circles although that was not the case.  We knew when we’d found the right place because suddenly, according to the sensor readings on the data-pad Ged had there were people nearby and I had a really bad feeling about it all.

I studied the readout for a long moment and then looked at Ged. “Now what?” I asked.

“Now we go find our man and get him the hell out of here.” Ged replied.



  1. Pureblood Slytherin27 March 2011 at 19:08

    Oh, finally! New chapters!!! That really made my day! Thanks! It’s somehow sad to know why she has so many nightmares: Her lover will be assassinated somewhere close to the Imperial shipyards at Bilbringi. *sob* Or is it not going to happen? Thrawn seems to be suspicious about the Noghri in your story. Or will Merlyn's presence (or possible capture?) on Coruscant alter this reality line, so that Thrawn survives? Anyway, it’s all slowly coming to an end and I can’t wait for more. I hope you find ways to keep on including Ged in a positive way - I love his character^^ And I love your awesome story!

  2. Ged...you know I'd tell him what you said but I'm scared his head will explode.

    Should I be worried ( okay even more worried) about Bilbringi?????


  3. Good to have you back Merly!!

  4. Thank you, it's good to be back. Although I would be a hell of a lot happier if it wasn't running around chasing after ghosts.