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10.17.2012 , 06:37 PM | #3
Chapter Two

The promenade’s abuzz with activity. The unusual type. The type you get when there are corpses about and no one knows who to blame. And that’s what everyone wants. Someone to blame. Not justice. Not retribution. Just the simple matter of fault. That’s not to say those other things won’t follow. But first and foremost… blame.

Korden leaned against the exterior of the embassy, arms crossed, eyes closed, patiently waiting. The two bodies that lay in front of him required inspection before they could be moved and disposed of proper. A number of cartel enforcers were closely examining the fallen Imperials.

The Hutts hold the rule of law here. They decide what’s right and what’s wrong. The death of two Imperial soldiers can fall either way. Cartel doesn’t like these kinds of events in the ‘public’ districts. Two parties involved, we’ll be lucky if one of them gets to walk away without consequence. We’ll be even luckier if it’s us… ah, damn it.

Korden opened his eyes when his ears detected the distant howling of an irate Imperial closing in on his position. Leaning to get a better view beyond the kneeling examiners, the officer let out a gruff sigh when he laid his eyes upon the figure flailing his limbs as he stomped up toward the second level of the Promenade. Tall. Thin. Middle-aged. Officer’s uniform topped with an all-too-tight cap. Korden’s Imperial facsimile.

“What’s going on here?!” the Imperial shouted, fast and irate. “Are you responsible for this?!”

Korden calmly focused on the Imperial’s jutting finger as he closed in on the scene. “They’re responsible for this,” the former captain politely detailed, nodding his head toward the fallen soldiers. “They were two steps away from an aggressive trespass on the Republic embassy. Which, if I recall correctly, would be classified as an invasion. I saved you and your people a lot of trouble.”

“These men were in pursuit of a fugitive in possession of stolen sensitive materials…”

“Yes, yes. And they believed the fugitive to be seeking shelter within our embassy. Believe me, they adequately explained their intentions.”

“You do know, however, that treaties signed by your Republic grant us the sovereignty to access embassies within neutral territory if we believe someone in possession of Imperial secrets to be seeking shelter within.”

“You do know, however, that we are to be given an hour to investigate any charges of the kind should we happen to believe there to be a third party involved. In this case, we happened to believe that. Your boys did respect the rules, so they had to be deterred. When they presented themselves as lethal combatants, they had to terminated as standard security risk prevention protocol dictates.”

Looking over the fallen soldiers, the Imperial officer furiously rubbed his chin. “The two security personnel dispatched weren’t this heavily armed!”

“Their actions have proven themselves to be unruly. They most likely picked up heavier arms when they couldn’t adequately deal with your… fugitive. You’re free to check the weapons, Imperial standards and codes are written all of over them.”

The Imperial stormed forward, stopping directly in front of Korden’s face, which remained utterly calm and collected. “I don’t know what it is that you’re hoping to accomplish, but all you’re doing is stalling the inevitable. We know you’re hiding her. And you know you’re hours almost up…”

“Yeah… I’m not too worried about that. You see, we had an hour to investigate before letting you in… but that was before our security levels raised as a result of the attack on our doorstep. Now we’re under a secure lockdown for the next rotational period… which, if I recall correctly, is eighty seven hours. Until THAT time has passed, only appointed Republic personnel are allowed in or out of the embassy. But you’re in luck. Since only governmental personnel are permitted, we couldn’t possibly be housing your… fugitive.”

The Imperial offered one final scoff and contortion of the face before storming off from the scene.

Like I said, the Hutts dictate what’s right and wrong here. Lying, cheating, murdering. Do it by their rules, and no one bats an eye. Hell, they might even reward you… one of the reasons I hate it here. Nar Shaddaa has one of the highest murder, kidnapping, and disappearance rates in the galaxy. You’re only punished when you don’t do it on cartel terms. Involving the Republic and the Empire in any popular setting happens not to be one of their terms. It disrupts business. Unsettles the ‘legitimate’ buyers and sellers that populate the moon. Unfortunately, there are more pressing matters.

Korden offered a nod of respect to the cartel enforcers still pouring over the scene. Whether it was genuine or not wasn’t important enough for either party to question the intent. Korden ducked into the embassy without another word. Firms steps signaled an intensity in his gait. He had just killed two Imperial soldiers, hopefully preventing a diplomatic relations nightmare, and knew the source of it all was sitting in the next room.

Passing into the main chamber of the embassy, Korden saw the girl from before, sitting in a visitor’s chair being tended to by the only other member of the embassy staff. The voice ringing in his ear earlier belonged to him. Not an ambassador, but he nonetheless handled most of the diplomacy issues sent their way that didn’t require the proper handling of a blaster. He and Korden were the Republic’s public face on Nar Shaddaa. Agents of the Republic, but not its military, and especially not the Strategic Information Service.

“Korden. Everything clear out front?” the attendant asked, looking up.

“For now. In a day’s time they'll be swarming all of this place,” Korden explained. The officer eyed the Twi’lek who kept her gaze planted firmly on the floor. “You’ve caused us a lot of trouble.” The girl squirmed in her seat, growing more uncomfortable by the second. Korden let out a sigh.

The attendant move closer to assuage the young fugitive. “Listen, I know you’re scared. We’re not going to let them hurt you. But we need to know what we’re dealing with. We can protect you, but only if you tell us exactly what’s going on here. First of all, what did you take from the Imperials?”

She remained silent.

“Look, we can be friends,” the attendant continued. “We’re in the business of making things fall apart for the Empire. Discreetly of course. While we cannot officially condone your actions we might be able to work out an arrangement… maybe strike out a deal…”

The Twi’lek immediately perked up. “A deal you say?” Whatever hesitance or awkwardness present in the girl was immediately flushed. In its place was a warm confidence.

Korden let out a sigh as he rubbed his brow. “She not a child, Berrin. You don’t last long on Nar Shaddaa without being able to take care of yourself. One way you can do that is playing the victim for the nice, upstanding folks at the Republic embassy. Isn’t that right?”

The girl let out an innocent giggle. “He’s good. You sure he shouldn’t have your job?”

The attendant stood from his empathetic kneel to take a more casual stance leaning against his desk a few steps away. “I’ve known the Captain long enough to know he’d never want this job.”

“Oh he’s a captain?” the Twi’lek spoke up, eyes wide with intrigue.

“Former captain,” Korden corrected.

“Then we have two things in common,” the girl confessed. “Had me a nice ship. Got grounded here a couple months back.”

“What’s a teenager doing losing a starship on Nar Shaddaa?” Berrin wondered.

“I’d say privateer or smuggler. And given her recent activities, I’d say she not is the business of hunting pirates and criminals,” Korden explained.

“Smuggler is such a loaded term,” the Twi’lek teased. “I was a transporter of goods. Medicine and tech mostly.”

“What about now?” Korden asked.

“I’m in the business of bartering and trading information,” the girl emphatically informed.

“Very well… let’s do business,” Korden proposed.

“Whoa, whoa… hold on Vesk,” the attendant interrupted. “We can’t be this direct with Imperial fugitives. Think about this from the embassy’s standpoint.”

“I’m sorry Barrin, but I don’t think the embassy’s long for this world,” Korden admitted.

“What?! I thought you handled everything pretty well out there,” Barrin stated.

“By our standards… Hell, even by the Empire’s. But this is Nar Shaddaa. Cartel standards are the only ones worth following, and cartel standards have a startlingly low opinion of violence within the Promenade. The Republic will likely shut down the embassy, officially withdraw from Nar Shaddaa, keep diplomacy isolated to lone agents and off-world arrangements until they are ready to reestablish official channels again. If we’re lucky, they may be able to set up shop again in a little as a couple of years. But don’t worry, there’s probably twenty other worlds that could make use of your talents.”

“What about you?” Barrin inquired.

“The Republic always needs someone to protect its assets… and I have a hunch we’ve just acquired a new asset.”

The Twi’lek offered a quick grin and a knowing tilt of her head.

Out of a job, endangered important diplomatic relations, and stuck with a teenage fugitive holding on to information that I have no idea how much it’s worth. Well, there are worse ways to leave Nar Shaddaa…
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