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The Dastardly Deeds of Inibla the Hutt

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
The Dastardly Deeds of Inibla the Hutt

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Syart
06.27.2014 , 05:10 PM | #1
Slight spoilers for the BH story and a couple of tiny indirect spoilers for the Agent story on Hutta.

Enforcing The Husband

I was at the bar in Nem'ro's palace in Jiguuna, not a place I usually frequented. I was sure I looked white and shaky after the very loud and public quarrel with my husband, and I badly wanted a drink. There wasn't much left on my cred chip, but it would stretch to an ale or two.

The bar area was a lot more crowded than I wanted it to be, but I waited until I saw my chance and eventually managed to squeeze myself into the tiny gap which finally opened up between a pair of excitably chittering Rodians and a large black-haired man in a casual tan leather jacket, rather wrinkled and soiled.

The barman brought over the cheap Jiguuna ale I'd ordered and plonked it on the bar in front of me, slapping my cred chip down next to it in a small sticky pool of something, probably deliberately due to scorn at the remaining balance.

I picked up the glass and was trying fastidiously to retrieve the cred chip without getting too much of whatever it was on my fingers when the Rodian on my right suddenly gestured wildly. I leapt sideways, except of course there was no room to move and I neatly slopped half the ale all over the sleeve of the leather jacket on the other side. Oh great, exactly what I needed.

Plainly showing dismay, I swung round to face the jacket's owner, gabbling wildly, "I'm so sorry, really I am, I'll pay for the cleaning, and, and ..." My voice trailed off as I'd found my eye level approximated to the centre of his chest - his bare, very muscular, deep red chest - and my gaze travelled upwards past the V-shaped bony ridges to the chin and cheek tendrils and brooding gaze of a Pureblood Sith. I might have imagined it but I was getting vibes of menace and barely repressed fury, and was well aware that the screaming heebie-jeebies were breaking out all over my face. I might have bitten off more than I could chew here.

I didn't quite get the reaction I expected. "Don't worry, I only kill people when I'm gettin' paid for it."

A slow, lazy, deep, amused drawl, rumbling all the way down through my bones and into my stomach, giving me a peculiarly different vibe to the one I'd just been getting. I gaped at him, realising that he couldn't help the brooding gaze, given those narrow deep-set eyes between the sharp cheekbones and heavy brow ridge; also noticing that, rather than the burningly intense red or orange or yellow of a typical Pureblood - not that I know a lot of them, but since Nem'ro took up with the Imps there've been a lot more passing through Jiguuna - he had dark honey-coloured brown-yellow eyes instead. In fact, once you got past the whole terrifying Sithy thing, there was a lot of animal magnetism going on ... I pushed my mind firmly away from the exceedingly inappropriate thoughts I was having about that muscular chest.

"I'm really sorry", I was just starting again when an attractive young Human woman in a very figure-hugging grey jumpsuit, with white trim emphasising all the right places, came hurrying up and tapped tan jacket on the arm. "Hey Khal, picked up something interesting on the holonet ... oh, who's this? New friend?" She turned a wide smile on me, with no hint of jealousy. Interesting. With him but not 'with' him, if you get my drift. Stop obsessing about that chest, I admonished myself. This is not the moment to be thinking about anything like that.

"She just threw her drink at me", rumbled the giant Pureblood, still with that slow, lazy drawl. "That count?"

The girl giggled. "That's one way to strike up an acquaintance, but I guess you didnt mean to, right?" She grinned at me and I froze for a moment then stumbled into an overly-involved explanation of the crowded bar and the Rodians (who were still gabbling and gesticulating away behind me, not having noticed any of this) and offering to pay the cleaning bill again, but she cut me short. "Don't worry, he can afford the cleaning. Besides, I keep telling him he needs a new jacket, he's been wearing that thing since long before we met, apparently."

"I like it, just got it worn into the right shape, comfortable, y'know?"

"Just?! About three years before you landed on Hutta the first time, probably."

"Maybe two." Khal shrugged and downed the end of his own ale. "I'm gettin' another, what d'you want, Mako?" He beckoned the barman, who came running across obsequiously. Mako asked for spiced nerf milk, and then he told the barman to get another ale for me.

"No, you can't ... I mean, I should pay for yours ... I ..." I stuttered and then started shaking as I let all the emotion of the day suddenly overwhelm me. Tears started pouring down my face. I'd always cried easily.

Khal looked down at me and I had a feeling this was out of his comfort zone, confirmed by his request, "Mako, do something?"

She'd already pushed past him and had her arms round me. "Shh, it's ok, nothing's wrong, we'll fix it, you'll be fine ..." Meaningless murmurings but I appreciated them. She guided me away from the bar, over to one of the tables near the wall. The big Pureblood Khal followed with the drinks, depositing them carefully on the table along with my cred chip. "Here, you dropped this again." He casually wiped his fingers on the jacket, which I could now see had probably been very expensive when new, soft triple-tanned bantha hide, the colour of the dunes on Tatooine- the same colour as his eyes, now I came to think of it.

Mako slapped his hand away. "Stop that, you'll ruin it even more!" They bantered back and forth a while, obviously long acquainted and secure in each other's company. Puzzling. What exactly was the relationship? Obviously not blood, equally obviously not romantic, but definitely very close.

I'd stopped the tears by this time and took a gulp of ale. "Th-thanks."

"Hey, not a problem", Mako smiled warmly at me. "This isn't just about pouring your drink all over Khal's sleeve, is it?"

I shook my head. No point denying the obvious. "I ... I had to go and see my husband this morning." Mako and Khal exchanged a quick glance. "I know, that sounds weird but it is weird. See, I have .. had ... a lot of money. My father had a good business supplying machinery to Fa'athra for his shvash gas mines - he's another Hutt round here ... " Khal and Mako nodded in unison. "We know Fa'athra", Mako said.

I nodded. "Well, then you know Fa'athra tried to muscle in and take over Jiguuna, but Nem'ro fought back and pretty much destroyed Fa'athra. Dad saw what was in the wind but he didn't dare defect to Nem'ro, Hutts don't like that sort of thing. So to protect us, he transferred half his assets to me and then used that to persuade one of Nem'ro's buddies to marry me. Then he and mother went off-world. So it wasn't like a love match or anything, but Dad thought this guy would be decent and look after me, and since he was Nem'ro's buddy he'd have enough influence that he could take over Dad's business and it could keep going supplying Nem'ro instead."

"I'm guessin' it didn't work out like that?" Khal enquired.

"Well, it did, sort of. I mean, Mum and Dad got away safely, Nem'ro didn't do anything to me, and my husband took over Dad's business all as planned. Only ... he wasn't exactly the kind and decent type Dad thought he was." I bit my lip and looked away. Mako patted my knee. "Take your time."

"I don't really want to go into much detail. It wasn't so bad to start with. We have a son, Marli, just turned three years old." I let my face light up with love and pride, no need to hide that. "He's so bright, and handsome, and funny and he's everything to me. I'd do anything to protect him. But my husband is threatening to take him away and have me ruined and I'll never see him again, and I don't know what to do. That was why I went to see him this morning, but he's adamant, if I don't do what he says, he'll .... he's blackmailing me. He's been blackmailing people for a long time, I found out about it a little while ago but I couldn't figure out a way to stop him and now he's doing it to me." The tears flowed freely down my face again.

"This walking gundark turd got a name?" enquired Khal. There wasn't any of the amusement in the slow rumble now, and the menace I'd felt right at the beginning returned in full force.

"Maroc Neiim. Head of Kella Industrial. I'm Zuli Kella. I forgot about introductions, sorry." I added a rueful grimace.

"Hey, no worries, we didn't introduce ourselves either." Mako gave me her warm friendly smile again. "I'm Mako Cadera, my husband Torian is part of our crew. The big guy here is Khalrokir, the most famous bounty hunter in the galaxy." She grinned saucily at the Pureblood. "He can explain himself."

"I prefer to think of myself as a freelancer", he objected mildly. "Sure I started out hunting bounties, not much scope for doing anything else as a Forceblind Pureblood. Made a decent business of it -"

"Only won the Mandalorian Great Hunt two years ago", interjected Mako with a roll of her eyes. He shrugged, clearly not bothered by fame and fortune. There aren't all that many people who would appreciate what it meant, but I know a bit about the Great Hunt, for various reasons.

"So, yeah, Mako was part of the crew that got me through that. Nem'ro sponsored me, only way to get into it. I owe him for that, he collects every so often when he's got a tough job, which is why we're on Hutta at the moment. But I don't just take bounties, if there's a job needs done, we get it sorted, fast, quiet, discreet, dead, alive, whatever. We fix stuff."

Mako looked at me quizzically. "Sounds like you could use us, you know. Maybe get your boy back for you and kick this husband around some?"

I shook my head hastily. "No, I can't possibly afford you. I couldn't even afford a basic rate apprentice hunter right now. Hell, I've barely got enough on that cred chip for another Jiguuna ale and a night's lodging - Maroc won't let me back in the house until I agree to his terms." My voice started shaking again.

Mako shuffled her stool closer and put her arm round me. "This one's on the house. We've just finished a job for Nem'ro, got a good payoff. We were hanging around to see if there was anything else we could pick up here. And I think we need to pick this one up."

She looked over at Khalrokir, whose brooding eyes were fixed on me. I couldn't meet his gaze.

He rubbed at one of his chin tendrils. "Why don't you tell us a bit more about this Maroc? Like, who else has he got the black on, what he's got on you, and what he's trying to get out of you."

I looked down at my half drunk ale, which saved looking at anything else, like honey coloured eyes and muscular red chests. (It's not the time for this!)

And I told them. Maroc was cold, cruel, calculating and very, very devious. He fooled a lot of the people a lot of the time. Nominally he was a business consultant, but actually I discovered after we married that he worked as one of Nem'ro's Chief Enforcers. HIs favourite way of ensuring that what Nem'ro wanted, Nem'ro got, was to find something which he could threaten people with more subtly than just sending round a gang of Gamorreans. That sort of enforcement only goes so far. So Maroc's speciality was blackmail. (Naturally Nem'ro wasn't remotely bothered by this; Hutt space isn't precisely lawless, but the law is whatever the local Hutt boss says it is on the day for a particular person. Since Maroc got results, Nem'ro let him have his head. I didn't need to explain this to Khalrokir and Mako, they were both familiar with Hutts.)

Naively, I'd thought Maroc might become a more loving husband once we had a child together. But the abuse - verbal and physical - continued through my pregnancy and after Marli was born. He'd already taken steps to cut me out of my father's company and tie up all my money so I couldn't get at it. He just likes having power over people, I think.

To get myself out of the house and away from him, I got a job, never mind where, I didn't want them brought into this. While there, I had a brief but intense affair with the owner's son, and thought Maroc never knew. Only he found out. After a few days of cold rage, he told me that he required me to give up my job and work for him. If I didn't, he would reveal all the details of my affair and divorce me, making sure I got nothing. This would disgrace not only me but the owner's son who was about to get married to a minor noblewoman. The marriage was certain to be called off if that happened. So I'd lose my job anyway and as well as that, Maroc would ensure that I never saw Marli again.

What did Maroc want me to do in order to avoid this? Basically, agree to be a whore for him. His plan was to target specific businessmen visiting Hutta, send me to seduce them, or at least get them into a compromising situation, provide him with the evidence, and he would then be able to get plenty of business concessions as well as money out of them.

I finished all of that, and then gulped down the rest of my ale while Mako fulminated and Khalrokir stroked his chin tendrils and looked broodingly thoughtful. I wondered what other expressions he had, if any.

"We are so trashing this guy, Khal! Can we cut his feet off and drop him in Nem'ro's rancor pit? Or maybe bury him up to his waist at the Muckworks and watch the chemilizards chew on him?"

"Hold on Mako, this isn't going to be so easy. Guy works for Nem'ro, and Nem'ro ain't goin' to be happy if he turns up dead and we're involved."

"D-dead?" I squeaked.

"Sure", snapped Mako. "I wanna fry the sleazeball's liver in his own grease and make him eat it."

"I ... I suppose", I said hesitantly. "I can't see that there's a way to stop him doing what he does otherwise. But I just want my son back, and my life ... I guess I didn't really think it through enough."

Khalrokir shook his head. "Most people don't, but that's what we do for them. I'm with Mako on this, we'll do the job, though it's going to be quick and quiet. He'll just disappear and never come back, however much little fire eater here wants to get vicious about it."

Mako grinned reluctantly. "Yeah, I know, you're right. Listen, Zuli, give me the address and I'll have Gault case the joint. Any info you have about security systems would be really helpful too, but I and our Jawa Blizz are pretty good at handling that stuff."

I gave her what detail I could, which, as far as security went, was really only the codes for disarming it. Most people wouldn't know one end of a security system from the other so Mako was quite happy with the limitation.

"You ... you're really going to do this?" I asked awkwardly.

"You bet we are!" Mako gave me another hug. "We won't use your security codes, of course, that would tie you straight into Maroc's disappearance, but they'll give me and Blizz something to work from."

"You have a Jawa working for you?" I asked.

"With us", Mako corrected. "We picked him up on Hoth, that's why he's nicknamed Blizz. I'll go call him and the others. When you meet him, make sure all your personal belongings are out of reach or nailed down, he doesn't really have a concept of ownership." She giggled, then darted across the room to the public holoterminal.

A short time later, a handsome tow-headed young Human entered the bar, along with an aging Devaronian with one broken horn and a world-weary, cynical air, and a Jawa who was chattering away at high speed. It wasn't clear whether the other two were actually listening to him. They came over to our table and Mako introduced them - her husband Torian, a Mandalorian; the Devaronian Gault Rennow, and Blizz the Jawa. There was some desultory chatter about the weather and similar subjects of extreme neutrality and inoffensiveness as Torian went to get drinks for everyone.

Through it all, Khalrokir sat and brooded. I began to wonder exactly what he was thinking, and whether this was really going to work.

Mako summarised the situation quickly for the newcomers. Torian seemed to be a man of few words and sat silently. Gault was brash and slangy, matching his appearance, but he asked some astute questions about the house and grounds. Suddenly Mako interrupted him. "Oh krims, I forgot - what about little Marli? Is he there? Who's looking after him? You need us to get him out for you?"

That would be a severe complication for them. "No, it's all right", I said hastily. "I forgot to mention that Maroc already sent him to our other house, he's being looked after there. I will say this for Maroc, he does look after Marli, he wouldn't harm him. When this is all over I'll be able to go and get him."

They all nodded, and being focussed on the job in hand, didn't ask any more about the other house, which was good, as I wasn't sure what information I could give them.

Once they'd got all the information they felt they needed about the house, the grounds, Maroc's habits, the household staff and guards that would be present, and so on, the conversation died, and by common consent, everyone looked at Khalrokir. No doubt who the leader of this team was.

He nodded his head calmly. "I think we've got everything we need. Zuli, go find yourself someplace to rest up, and make sure you've got witnesses to what you're doing the next few days. Don't want any awkward questions about your movements."

I looked around at the bar full of people. "I've been sitting here talking to you for an hour, and it turns out you're a famous bounty hunter - I didn't think of that. Won't this make people suspicious?"

He shrugged. "Maybe. But no-one will be able to tie us into the job, we'll be doing other jobs at the time." He looked over at Mako, who'd been tapping at a datapad for a few minute.

She looked up and nodded. "I've got three jobs for us, maybe a fourth, options on a couple of others. Plenty of things to cover our tracks." She smiled reassuringly at me. "Don't worry, discretion is built into the payscale."

"Except that we're doing this one pro bono, as it were", observed Gault. "No way to make a living."

Mako made a rude face at him. "You know exactly what I mean. Now we need to get planning."

I went away and left them to it, as instructed.

Two days later came the news on the local Jiguuna holonet of the mysterious disappearance of Nem'ro's enforcer, Maroc Neiirm. He'd spent a perfectly normal day, made plans for a meeting or two on the following day, and at his usual time was seen to go into his bedroom by his personal valet. In the morning, when the valet went in with his morning caf, the bed had been slept in, but Maroc was not there. There was no evidence of any disturbance in the bedroom or anywhere else in the house. Nothing else was missing. None of the guards had seen or heard anything, and no-one had either entered or exited the house, as shown by all the security cams. The net abounded with various theories for a few days, and then it faded away as new interests arose. I imagine there was a certain amount of relief in some quarters. For obvious reasons, Maroc wasn't exactly popular, and no-one really made a great effort to track him down.

Naturally I returned home as soon as the news broke, exhibiting panic and despair, and was questioned by Nem'ro's security people as the primary suspect, since it was known that I'd left the house after a very loud quarrel, during which I'd made a few lurid threats, as one does in the heat of the moment. But since I genuinely had no idea what had happened or how, innocent bewilderment was easy, and I had alibis for all the time in question.

A couple of days after the security teams had finally gone, shaking their heads at the total lack of clues to the disappearance, I had a holocall from Mako on Maroc's private office line, the one even Nem'ro didn't know about. (I didn't ask how she knew the number.) So that afternoon, I 'just happened' to be passing the Jiguuna spaceport when I bumped into them.

I shook hands with Torian and Gault, patted Blizz on the head, and then hugged Mako. "Take care, all of you. I can't thank you enough, you've really changed my life."

"Any time", Mako said, hugging me back. "Seriously, sometimes we get some really poodoo jobs, but then other times we get to make the galaxy a better place."

"Certainly for me." I smiled, knowing it was true.

They trailed off into the spaceport, leaving Khalrokir still with that steady gaze fixed on me, rubbing at his chin tendril.

"Thanks", I said again. He still stood there, staring at me. I hesitated a moment. "You know", I said finally, "you don't have to go so soon. You could stay here and celebrate a little. I owe you something special for this."

"Maybe another time", he rumbled. "Got places to be."

"If you're sure", I said, disappointed. "But anyway, I got you something, to remember me by." I passed over a neatly tied package which had arrived for me a few days ago from one of the best tailors on Nar Shaddaa.

There was a faint wrinkling of the skin above his brow ridge, which I interpreted as being the equivalent of a raised eyebrow. Finally, a different expression!

"Go on, open it." I smiled wistfully. "I hope you like it. It won't blow up, I promise."

He undid the package, which came in several layers, and finally revealed the contents - a new leather jacket, of course. I'd ordered the tailor to match Khal's old one as closely as possible, the high quality leather, the colour including the small grey epaulettes, even the detail of the stitching and the flap pockets on the sleeves. Maroc's link into Nem'ro's security systems hadn't been cancelled yet, and it had been easy to get some still shots from various angles on the bar cams. (I'd also taken the opportunity to wipe all the cam records which included me on that day, though as far as I know, no-one ever thought to check them. But it never hurts to take precautions.)

A slow grin spread across his face - by all the gods this man was attractive! I used the excuse of shyness to focus on that beautiful chest instead. "Do you like it?" I asked, timidly.

"You'll be Mako's best friend forever when she sees this. She hates this old thing. Yeah, I really appreciate it, very thoughtful."

"It was the least I could do, after spilling my drink all over you. And now I have my money back, so I had to pay you something. I owe you an awful lot." I looked up hopefully, willing him to reconsider about staying.

He bundled the new jacket back into its packaging. "Maybe I'll see you again, next time I'm on Hutta."

"Maybe. But I won't be coming back to Jiguuna again. As soon as I can, I'm taking Marli and moving somewhere else. Too many memories in this place."

He nodded, expression returning to its usual neutral watchfulness. "Be safe out there." Lifting his hand in a half wave, he headed into the spaceport after the others, all the strength and grace of a hunting feline. He didn't look back. A pity he hadn't been interested in further celebration, but you win some, you lose some.

-----------------

A few days later, after making some personal arrangements and wiping a lot of Maroc's records, I headed back to the spaceport to pick up the local shuttle to Gebroila and then waited patiently for a connecting service. I could have taken a taxi, but old habits of economy die hard.

"Ah... the little Zuli returns", boomed Inibla, when I presented myself in his throne room. "Was your attempt successful?"

"Of course it was, great Inibla", I said, bowing low as ettiquette dictated. "My plan worked perfectly: I no longer have an annoying husband, Nem'ro has lost his best enforcer, and I have all of Maroc's blackmail files, which are of course my gift to the mighty Inibla the Hutt." I grinned exultantly to myself. I had this one in the bag.

"Excellent, excellent. You have kept your word and performed most admirably. The job shall be yours permanently, as I promised. I shall also award you a double bonus for the great amusement, using Nem'ro's best bounty hunter to remove Nem'ro's best enforcer and he does not even charge me for it. Ho ho ho!" The laughter shook his entire body like a giant blancmange, and I watched, fascinated, as successive ripples of merriment worked their way from head to tail. "You are sure no-one suspects anything?"

"Nothing at all, great Inibla, I believe I played my part to perfection." I suppressed a momentary qualm at the memory of Khalrokir's brooding gaze and the frequent thoughtful rubbing of his chin.

Later, ensconced in my new office in Inibla's palace, I wondered a bit more. Why had Khalrokir turned me down? I don't mind admitting that my pride in my feminine wiles had been a little dented. I'd been seducing Maroc's targets for years, it wasn't often I failed quite so completely. It might be that Khal only liked other men but I hadn't picked that up from him at all.

Ah well, it didn't matter now. From this day forward I was in the blackmail business on my own account - I hadn't by any means handed over all of Maroc's files to Inibla - and occasionally of course for my new master. Maroc's intention to push me out and take all the power and money for himself had backfired on him most spectacularly. We'd been a good team, but now my only slight regret was that he probably hadn't known that it had been me rather than any of our many victims who'd arranged his death.

In any case, now I was entirely in control, with a powerful new ally. Zuli Kella, Personal Enforcer to Inibla the Hutt. It had a nice ring to it. I was definitely going up in the world.

Spoiler
Control, passion, diligence: these three principles shape your world.

Lord Scourge: To repeat a mistake and expect a beneficial outcome is a sign of insanity.