The four block walk described by the Nikto guards at Jotma’s residence was suddenly more like a ten block expedition. Six blocks later and the trio marched into a well lit, though albeit shadowy greenspace cut into the side of the duracrete chasm wall. Littered around the small city park was a collection of construction repulsorcraft, parked in between symmetrically placed trees, and a collection of hydro-fountains. Amid the vibrant green foliage casting impenetrable dark shadows upon the grey permecrete ground, the shape of an enormous black obelisk lay in the center of the greenspace, positioned on its side.
“I thought the guards said we would be at the monorail in no time. I don’t like the looks of this.” Fern glumly pushed the floating repulsor cart ahead of her as they entered the park.
Dax snorted as he stopped to read a plaque aloud “This Park Commemorates the Ord City residents killed by falling debris from the Crash of the Trade Federation Destroyer “The Invisible Hand.” The ship fell from the sky during the Trade Federations cowardly attack upon Imperial Center at the Battle of Coruscant. Jedi traitors, responsible for crashing the ship, are suspected of orchestrating the plot to kidnap the then future Emperor Palpatine. May his grand and beneficent Empire never cease to exist. We will never forget the human lives lost at the hands of Jedi, alien, and droid militants.” Dax stood there for a moment with his hands on his hips “Aliens, droids, and Jedi huh? Why does everyone here seem to forget about Dooku? He was human, and he wasn’t a Jedi.”
“Because history is now written by human bucketheads.” Nolann muttered almost mumbling. “No offense Fern.”
“Pathetic wretches.” Dax scratched his chin, ruminating for a moment. “Even on Csilla we know our galactic history, you core-worlders really should pay better atten…“ Dax suddenly cut-off as a blaster bolt rocketed from the shadows, hitting him squarely in the chest.
“Dax!” Fern screamed as she turned to watch the blue humanoid fall backward in slow motion. Dax’s body landed with a sickening thud. As she turned back towards park center, Fern and Nolann drew their side arms from the folds of their clothing; the fingers of Fern’s left hand still firmly grasped the grips of the repulsorcart.
“Hold it! Don’t make a move” A commanding voice ordered from the shadows. Lights from an airspeeder on the other side of the park suddenly illuminated the silhouette of a humanoid male standing directly in their path. The hum of repulsorlift engines rose above the drone of city traffic far above. ”There are a lot of us, and only a few of you. Give us the box and we’ll let you go.”
“That’s a bluff.” Nolann said breathlessly, while shifting his weight from one foot to the other; his weapon trained firmly on the silhouette.
“Maybe. But you don’t really know that, do you?” said the shadow masked by blinding headlights, a hint of amusement in his voice. ”Are you willing to give your life for that box?”
“What do you want? Maybe we can work out a deal.” The short Duro’s posture relaxed slightly, his voice hopeful. The unknown person continued to move forward.
“Nolann! What are you doing?” Fern screamed from behind. “They killed Dax!”
Suddenly a shadow rushed out from behind a piece of construction equipment to the right and pulled the 2 meter long box from Fern’s left-handed grasp. In response a shot rang out into the air from Fern’s blaster as she shrieked in fright. Like a starting gun, Fern’s clumsy shot started a cacophony of blaster fire that erupted around the beleaguered duo from every direction. Under the cover of fire the humanoid shadow bolted with the mysterious cargo toward the airspeeder lights.
With no time to respond, the leader of their ambushers was upon Nolann. A swift right from the humanoid’s fist, knocked the Duros squarely in his jaw, as an unseen attacker grabbed Fern from behind. More shapes emerged from the shadows and circled around the fight.
“Let me go!” Fern croaked as she attempted to throw her heel into the crotch of her captor.
As she looked up, still struggling to release her bound arms from her attacker, a new combatant flew into the melee. From the dim park lights she barely made out the features of a reptilian, yet humanoid figure approaching. Like a coiled snake, the creature struck at their ambushers with brute force. A stun baton snapped into its hand from the folds of its jumpsuit, and with one swift motion came crashing down into the back of an ambushers head.
Nolann and the leader of the gang continued their dance. The attacker struck with bare fists again as Nolann attempted to fire his weapon. From the near miss of Nolann’s blaster, Fern discerned a glimpse of a human face, basked in the red light of the blaster bolt as it screamed by. Finally breaking the hold, Fern jumped out of the melee and darted after the shadow pushing the repulsor cart. As she ran by she noticed the reptilian creature brandish a knife, before plunging it into the chest of a nearby human attacker.
“Fern! The Box!” Nolann screamed.
Unable to catch up with the fleeing ambusher, Fern paused a second to to take aim, though her shot went wide. Despite immediate danger, and fear that the cargo would soon be lost, Nolann carefully aimed his blaster at the back of the human pushing the repulsorcart. Risking hitting Fern, Nolann fired a perfect shot. He watched as the bolt tracked into the fleeing man’s back, who then fell, slumping over the top of the cart. The repulsors righted themselves from the unequal distribution of weight on the cart, throwing the dead mass of the body onto the ground.
Behind Fern, Nolann and the mystery ally rallied. With three ambushers now dead, and the mysterious box now back in their possession, the engines of the airspeeder truck revved as it rose from its berth and screamed into the Coruscant night. Abandoned, and alone, the leader of their attackers fled, though not before the reptile attempted to cut him off. Rounding the base of the obelisk, the human ran at full speed out of the park to the north. Nolann popped off a last shot as a final attempt at retribution.
As Fern arrived with the box, her eyes adjusted to the lights from the park. She now saw a large trandoshan male shaking hands with Nolann. “Fern, this is Varik, I called him just before we left Jotma’s. I wanted to make sure we had a little extra protection on our way to the drop off.”
“Glad your did, they almost got us. I’ve got to check on Dax.” Leaving the box with Nolann, she ran over to the fallen chiss. Fern stooped down to read vitals. She then looked up at Nolann “It’s no good. He’s gone.”
“Well, we better go then,” said Varik with a snakelike accent that ended with a quick flick of his forked tongue. “There’s nothing we can do for him now.” Fern attended to Nolann’s wounds, before they departed Monument Park.
The remainder of the journey to the monorail station occurred without incidence. Slightly bloody, and a little bit wary, Nolann paid the droid attendant for two tickets; one for himself, the other for the cargo. The monorail ride was uneventful for nearly the entire four hour ride, but the newly forged trio began to notice something as they neared Imperial City. It was almost 4:00 in the morning, yet there was not a single alien, besides Nolann and Varik, on the train. The packed cars were full of shabby looking humans, all sleepily on their way to their homes, or to work, but no other species was in sight. Even at the various monorail stations, not an alien could be seen through the car windows. An empty feeling began to sink through Nolann’s core.
Ahead in the distance, through the left windows of the car, the trio could now see Darth Vader’s palace looming on the horizon. Nolann recognized it from various programs he had watched on the holoviewer.
As Fern stood holding the bracers, her eyelids attempting to draw her into sleep, a small hand reached up and pulled at her tunic “Where you going?” a small voice inquired. Fern jerked her head and looked down to see a small female human child.
“Nowhere in particular kid.” Fern responded warily.
“But you got to be going somewhere. I’m going to go see my grandmother.”
“Why are you aliens on the train? Dad says that aliens don’t come to Imperial City.”
“I’m not an alien, I’m human.”
“But you have purple eyes, and white hair!”
“Just a fluke kid.”
At that moment Varik felt something in the back pocket of his tunic. He turned just in time to see a nicely dressed human male, in formal cloaks pull his right hand from his own pocket. The pickpocket and Varik made eye contact just as the monorail pulled into the next station and the doors swooshed open. “What the…” Varik stammered.
But before Varik could act the thief dashed out of the car and into the morning crowds. They watched him run into a nearby alleyway, never once looking back. Varik hung out of the car for several moments, with his hands on both doors but he didn’t budge. He continued standing there cursing, staring into the throng, until an electronic voice announced “Doors are closing, Please watch your arms and Legs.” Stepping back into the car, Varik cursed under his breath.
“What’d he get?” Nolann approached.
“Just my credits.”
“Why didn’t you go after him?” Fern asked with concern troubling her face.
“Just didn’t seem like a good idea, I don’t know.” And with that last statement all three adventurers turned to look accusingly at the little child.