By the time Valin arrived back from the Cantina my mood had shifted again. The emptiness that had preceded my despair was a distant memory. In its place dwelt a quiet, churning rage. I had put everything into this, abandoned my old life and sold everything I had for this ridiculous quest, and now the only clue I had was gone. With it had gone probably my only chance of learning to control the unceasing whispers in my head. Worse still, I was alone. I had a few more credits left, barely enough to pay the crew of the Ghost for one more voyage and then they too would leave and I would have to start a new life on some strange world with no money and no friends, and I knew exactly how that would end up.
I’m a damn good shot with a blaster. It’s no accident: I’ve spent a lot of time practicing, but even before that I had a gift. Its not a pleasant realisation to come to, that the only things that set you apart from normal people are the voices in your head and an unnatural talent for causing harm. When you live on a world as corrupt as Akenephin V mining is only part of your job. Everyone but the rich and well connected does their time in the mines, but the pay is barely enough to keep you alive, and the work is dangerous, thanks to the unpredictable geology that keeps the surface layers so rich in minerals. So, naturally, getting out of the mines is high on everyone’s list of priorities as soon as they realise they were sold a raw deal to get here. Luckily for us there’s plenty of work to be found above ground, and plenty of indentured workers coming in daily to take your place. Very little of the work is what you might call ‘legal’, but as long as you don’t mess with an arbitrator no one is ever going to care. You make your way however you can, and if someone puts a blaster in your hand and pays you to hold it you stand there and you hold it like you mean it, because you might not get paid like this again for weeks.
And when someone shoots at you you damn well shoot back, because if you die who’s going to bring home her medicine?
And when you kill…
You try to forget, you try to get away, and you do everything in your power never to go back.
“Actually, we do have another lead”
I spun, wide eyed, to face the crew as Quan explained the situation. Could it be possible? My knuckles were screaming in pain, those crates were a hell of a lot more solid than I guessed, but I ignored it. This could be the last chance we would ever get and I was determined not to waste a second.
Dugg was a man who worked alone. Perhaps that’s just how everyone worked out here, but I doubted it. I knew his type well. I’m pretty sure I shot one once, actually. The small fry who thinks he’s clever enough to be left alone by the big fish, when in actual fact he’s just about insignificant enough to be ignored. If he was really the only person around who could help us we were going to pay well over the odds for the pleasure, but it would be worth it. After the emotional storm of the last few hours I finally felt like I had a chance again, no matter how slim. If Kenobi really left in as much of a hurry as it seemed there was a chance he’d left something behind, maybe even enough to buy my way into the Alliance.
Duggs price was insane, a small part of my mind wanted to shoot him then and there for the insult, but I ignored it. This swindler was my only hope, and I would happily pay the price if it would get me what I needed. I haggled, of course, nothing is more suspicious than someone who pays the full price up front. I tried everything, but the scumbag could obviously smell my desperation, and held out. Finally, I offered him the full price, but half up front, half on return- I didn’t want to lose all my money if he took us to some random shack in the middle of nowhere and left us in the desert. Again, he refused. I was starting to get a little suspicious of the kind Mr Dugg. I was on the verge of walking out, but the thought kept running around in my head, what if this leech is really the only other person in Mos Eisley who knows where to find Kenobi’s house? Then Quan stepped in. He offered Dugg an extra 500 credits, presumably from his own pocket as I had nothing left, upon return if he would take my offer. 1500 Credits for a speeder ride to the desert and back? Quan must have been insane. I must have been insane, come to think of it, to not see something suspicious about the whole affair. Dugg was almost certain to turn on us, I knew that, and was prepared for it, but I had to give him the chance to do the right thing. I never thought that Quan and Valin would be the ones to break the deal.
The moment we arrived at Kenobi’s supposed residence the pilot pulled a blaster and aimed at the back of our guide’s head. I acted on instinct, no thought for consequences. My sword was in my hand in an instant and I knocked Quan’s blaster aside.
“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled “This is not how we do things!” I was furious. I had finally escaped from a world of cutthroats and thieves, only to wind up shipping out with a bunch of pirates. So much for dreams of saving the galaxy from the tyranny of the empire, I couldn’t even save one man from my own friends. Before I could react Valin had drawn his pistol and fired a shot, blessedly missing the startled Dugg.
Then it all went wrong. I felt a sudden discomfort, an itching in my back, telling me to move. As I dodged to one side, still unsure of where the threat was from, a blaster bolt seared through the air beside me, coming from behind. From Dugg. What the hell? I was trying to protect that asshole and he tries to shoot me?