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Saga - OT Du Doompa— Original Character Fiction

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by rktho, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    Author: rktho_writes
    Title: Du Doompa
    Era: Original Trilogy era, 13-0 BBY
    Characters: Canon characters: Hondo Ohnaka, Enfys Nest, Weazel, Puggles Trodd, Chussido; Original characters: Korma, Risuno, Com Narcom, Kaltha, Magnus Tarkay, Koodo, Mordron Koss, Mrs. Magnus Tarkay, Leela, Apollon Kondric, Qualdo Tarkay, Onjol Ros, Haldo Cofar, Dunn Morgan, Parjai Ralhac, Shorkkata, Khojaw, Portia Tarkay, Desdemona Tarkay, Kup Kup, Moidra Canady, N'than, Pahoran Antilles, Zoram, A'Koshi
    Genre: General
    Summary: A man with a traumatic past lives on the run from the Empire, fending off thugs who want to take his adopted child away from him, all while trying to stay out of the conflict that rages around him.

    13 BBY; Dygni, the Tromani system.

    A thick storm shadowed the rolling purple hills, blotting the moons from sight. Great gidbats' wings made loud splashing noises as they flapped through the dark shower, screeching as they searched for rainsnakes in the soaking grass. Around a small hill was a town, bustling with beings in rainjackets, ponchos, slick broad-brimmed hats, or anything they could possibly wear to protect themselves from the downpour. Dromorses grumbled and moaned as they pulled hovercoaches through the streets, their piglike hides bearing the brunt of the elements.

    Korma looked out from the window of the church. "What a dark night," he murmured in observation. He twirled a few hairs on his long, white beard between his dark fingers, watching the rain pour from the thundering sky.

    "Observation: That would be due to the heavy cloud cover and precipitation," remarked Risuno dryly as she used her screwdriver appendage to uncap the lantern she was performing maintenance on. Her old circuits whirred as she worked.

    "Yes, but it's especially dark tonight," said Korma, turning away from the window and drawing his white robes about him. "It must be bitter cold. I do hope there isn't a poor soul out there without a coat and hood."

    "Estimate: Statistically, it is likely there are around sixty or more such beings," replied the droid, replacing an illumination cell in one of the lanterns meant to hang above the pews. "A fair portion of them could be droids." She shut the hatch, screwed it shut and the light floated to the ceiling. Her spidery appendages retreated into her back.

    "Well, droid, being or beast, we'll take them in if they need shelter." The priest shivered. "It's even cold inside the chapel."

    "Statement: That is because you asked me to leave the doors open," replied Risuno, folding her copper arms. "In case a droid, being or beast needed shelter. We should really have put a sign up instead."

    "Oh, spare me, you antique," Korma muttered, kneading his tall, coned cranium. "Some beings are illiterate. What good is a sign they can't read?"

    "Concession: Have it your way," said the droid. She put a finger to her cranial antenna. "Statement: My scanners have alerted me to a being entering the church now."

    Korma walked briskly with the droid to the entrance and found a sopping, ragged human rubbing his hands in front of the heater the priest had provided for refugees. The man did not seem to notice the priest or the sexton, but muttered to himself under his breath from underneath his thick, greying beard as it dripped on the floor.

    "Greeting: Welcome, good sir," said Risuno. "We can offer you food as well as warmth if you should need it."

    The man removed his gloves and continued rubbing. His grumbled thanks was almost inaudible.

    Korma glanced at Risuno and clapped his hands lightly. The droid hurried off to the kitchen.

    Korma approached the man. "What is your name, good sir?"

    The man glowered and looked away, wordlessly retrieving a datapad from his belt and handing it to the priest.

    Korma read the information on the device.

    Com Ether Narcom, Human male, 46 standard years. Petty thief, repeat offender. Indicted on counts of theft, assault and resisting arrest.

    A physical description was listed below. Korma looked at the man, who was still glaring at the floor.

    "Welcome, Com," said the priest kindly. "Come with me. Sister Risuno is putting dinner on the table."

    "Dinner?" The man laughed. "For both of us? At this hour?"

    "We have been expecting a wanderer such as yourself to make your way into our sanctuary," said Korma. "I hope you won't mind my joining you. I have eaten very lightly all day."

    Com shuffled behind the priest as he was led into the dining room. Two plates were set on either end.

    Com narrowed his eyes as he sat. "Are these aurodium?"

    "A small luxury," Korma smiled. "Sister Risuno will be along shortly with the food."

    Com said nothing, but merely turned his plate in his hands, rubbing it with his thumbs. He picked up the fork and determined it was the same material as the plate.

    "Tell me about yourself," Korma said kindly.

    "I already showed you the datapad," Com snapped. He rubbed a wet spot out of his beard with his thumb.

    "I don't care what's on the datapad." Korma folded his hands. "I want to know you. Your criminal record does not define you."

    "If it didn't define me, I wouldn't have to carry it," Com growled.

    Korma frowned sympathetically. "Did you have any ambitions before you were sent to prison?"

    "No," Com replied. "I was too focused on staying alive. When's the droid getting here with the food?"

    "Patience, my friend," Korma admonished. "She will not be more than two minutes. Do you have family?"

    "I did. They starved to death when I wasn't there for them."

    Korma winced. "I'm sorry."

    "Of course you are."

    Risuno entered, carrying a platter. "Declaration: Dinner is served."

    "Thank you, Suno," Korma smiled.

    No sooner had the droid filled Com's plate than the man began tear into it voraciously. Risuno quietly placed a goblet next to the ravening man, but he didn't even look at it until his plate was empty. Then he seized the cup and drained it in one swig. Korma thought he saw his eyes linger on the cup as he brought it down.

    "There is more if you are still hungry," Korma offered. "You may eat as much as you like. We have prepared much for hungry travellers and vagabonds."

    "Thank you," Com grunted, growing less brusque. "I haven't had anything but a jogan in the past two days."

    Risuno went to fetch more food. Korma twiddled his fingers and tapped on the table, waiting to see if Com would be more conversational now that he had eaten something.

    Com was thumbing the stem of his cup, feeling the etchings in the gold, but he wasn't looking at his fingers. His eyes were down just low enough not to meet Korma's. Was it a distrustful look? Contemplative? Korma could sense his emotions, but not identify them.

    Risuno returned with the food and Com took it, gently this time. Despite eating less voraciously than before, his breath still came in gasps between bites.

    "Please, stay the night," Korma offered. "You have had a long day, I am sure."

    Com nodded. "Thank you."

    "I will be retiring to bed now, actually," said Korma, standing. "If you need anything, Sister Risuno will happily provide."

    Com yawned. "Where is the room?"

    "Information: This way," said Risuno, leading the man to Korma's guest room.

    Korma watched them go. He sensed something. Com's mind was racing. He was anxious about something, as though he had discovered some great opportunity.

    You can read the rest of this fic on my AO3 page at rktho_writes.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021
  2. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Nov 30, 2005
    Very interesting! It reminds me a bit of that scene in Les Miserables where Valjean meets the kindly bishop. I look forward to your next chapter post here.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  3. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Oct 30, 1999
    I’m looking forward to the next bit here too. It’s very intriguing

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman WIP Month Champion and Hostess Extraordinaire star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Ah, so this is the beginning of the celebrated Du Doompa! :D Very intriguing start indeed, and it’s got me very curious to read more. Wonderful immersive details about the settings and beings, from the cold conditions to Korma’s conical head (is he a Cerean?) to Risuno’s attachments and snark (a spiritual descendant of HK-47, I see! :D ) to Com’s eventual warming up to his benefactors. And yes, definitely can see the Les Miserables influence! Thank you so much for sharing, and I hope we’ll see you and your stories around some more soon. :)
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  5. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    Thank you for reviewing! (PS— Korma is indeed a Cerean!)
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  6. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    Thank you so much!
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  7. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    Author: rktho_writes
    Title: Du Doompa (excerpt)
    Era: Original Trilogy era, 13-0 BBY
    Characters: Original characters: Korma, Risuno, Com Narcom
    Genre: General
    Summary: Having taken in a convicted thief for the night, Korma is visited by the authorities.

    Korma awoke sharply to a knock at the door. Risuno whizzed into the room. "Alert: Stormtroopers at the door!"

    "What do they want?" Korma's eyes flicked toward the secret compartment in his nightstand, where his lightsaber was hidden.

    "Answer: I didn't open the doors!" cried the droid. "What if they'd come for you?"

    "I'll see to that myself," said Korma gravely. "Protect the guest."

    As Korma rushed downstairs into the entrance hall, the troopers knocked again. "Open up!"

    Korma walked apprehensively to the door and opened it. Standing there was Com, each arm in the grip of a stormtrooper's hold. Korma's mouth dropped open.

    One of the troopers held out an open sack. "Do these belong to you?"

    Korma looked inside and recognized his aurodium plates and cups. "Yes."

    "We caught him attempting to flee with these in his possession." The trooper jerked his head disdainfully towards Com, who refused to meet the priest's eyes. "He says you gave them to him, as a gift."

    Korma looked at Com. The wretch's shame rippled through the Force. So it had not been for nothing that this man had been labeled a thief, repeat offender.

    "Yes, I did," said Korma.

    Com's eyes snapped to Korma's, full of shock.

    Korma looked in the bag again. He rifled through it and furrowed his brow. "Where is the cutlery? Why didn't you take— I must have forgotten to give you the cutlery. Wait one moment while I retrieve it."

    "Did this vagrant steal from you or not?" snapped the sergeant.

    "No, no!" Korma cried. "Release him at once! He is my guest!"

    "You'd think he'd wait until morning to leave," remarked one of the troopers suspiciously.

    "He said he would only be staying for a short while," said Korma. "He has a ship to catch."

    "A ship?" laughed one of the troopers. "With what credits? I've seen broke spice addicts with nicer rags than his."

    "I gave him those dishes so he could sell them to buy his way offworld," Korma replied with growing impatience. "Now let him go or he'll be late. I'm glad the Empire is so vigilant in protecting my property, but this man has done no wrong. Leave him be."

    The sergeant grunted and waved for the two other troopers to release the prisoner. They dropped him and walked away.

    Risuno rushed into the hall. "Alert: Sir! The guest is—" She stopped and stared at Com, panting on all fours on the wet polished floor. "—gone."

    Korma stooped and put a hand on Com's shoulder.

    Com's breath was ragged. "Why did you lie for me?"

    "I didn't lie," said Korma. "The plates and cups are yours. And the cutlery, even though you forgot to take it with you."

    Com choked. "I don't deserve that kind of generosity."

    "Query: Did you say the plates and cups?" asked Risuno incredulously.

    "Yes," said Korma. "Go and fetch the cups, Suno."

    "Objection: But—"

    "Do it."

    Risuno went off, grumbling. Korma raised Com up by the hand. "Take them. Sell them. Make a new life for yourself. An honest life. No more thieving."

    Com's hanging lip trembled, his grey eyes misting. "Thank you."

    Korma smiled. "May the Force be with you."
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  8. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Ooh, this is indeed very much indeed like Les Misérables, in the best of ways! (I should have guessed earlier from your awesome avatar. :p) Korma really is a beautiful soul, and a credit to his heritage! I hope that this is truly the start of a new beginning for Com, and I look forward to reading more! I love what you've posted of your OCs and world building so far! :D =D=

    Just one quick question, though, on a mod note! I know this is part of the same chapter as you've previously posted, but is it intended to be a stand alone scene? Here on the boards we post stories in a single, ongoing thread rather than starting new threads for each chapter. It helps a bit with organization, and makes it easier for your readers as well! If so, I can merge the threads for you, to keep everything in one place. :)

    If you have any questions about this or anything feel free to PM me or any of the other two fan fiction mods. Welcome to the boards! It's always great to have a new writer sharing with us. [:D]
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  9. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    I should have posted the chapters together, but I didn't think of that until later. I would definitely like the threads to be merged.
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  10. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh that happens to the best of us! I'll get these merged for you. :D

    EDIT: I also took the liberty of somewhat altering the title for you! If there is a specific title you would like instead, just let me know and I can get that fixed right up for you. There's a quirk with the boards that only lets moderators edit titles currently. :oops:
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  11. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I have to say I'm not overly familiar with Les Mis, but nevertheless I am liking the Les Mis vibes.
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  12. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    8 BBY; Morso-on-Montal, Montal.

    The factory buzzed as the droids flew about, delivering parts to the workers below as they assembled comlinks and droid callers. On the wall looming over them was the Imperial insignia, looking not unlike the cogs they sifted through as they constructed the devices.

    Kaltha took another box from a droid that floated over and began sorting parts and pieces on her workspace. She was grateful her work kept her from wringing her hands. The true temptation was to seize her holoprojector from her pocket and view the unopened transmission the Tarkays had sent an hour ago, but she couldn't do that until her shift was over.

    Dench, the foreman, paced around the factory floor, inspecting everyone's work. Dench was more lascivious than a Hutt, and today his eyes looked especially lustful. Most of the factory's workers were female, but Kaltha was the only Twi'lek, and Dench had a fondness for lekku. Kaltha tried not to think about how soon he would reach her station as she feverishly assembled a comlink.

    "Hello, Kaltha," Dench's voice oozed behind her. She refused to turn around. She jabbed the tips of her head-tails into her back instead, a hint that would go right over his head. She'd be fired immediately if he knew what that meant.

    He was, of course, oblivious. "You're doing a very good job," he said, leaning far too close to look over her shoulder at her work. His breath felt hot on her ear cones.

    "Thank you." Kaltha screwed on the battery cap tightly. A tiny crack appeared on the rim.

    She suppressed a gasp as she felt him stroke one of her lekku. "My, but your tails seem to have grown longer. So pretty. They almost come down past your—"

    "Don't touch me," said Kaltha through her teeth. She took a deep breath to keep her head cool. When she was especially annoyed, she had trouble suppressing the exotic Rylothian accent Dench found most alluring. She deposited the assembled comlink into the narrow hole that chuted the completed device away.

    Drench withdrew his hand, slowly and delicately, sliding each finger off one at a time. He traced a lone, lingering finger down her lek before releasing his touch completely. "I could always pay you more if you would just…"

    "No... sir," she replied, taking another box of parts from the droid that had floated over. "I'm content with my wages, thank you very much."

    "You will find I'm capable of…" Dench paused, wrapping his fingers around her shoulder. "…touching gestures."


    "Only one night," Dench said with what he thought was seductive hoarseness, "and your salary would be tripled."

    "I get on well enough, zank you," said Kaltha icily, her accent slipping a fraction along with her composure. "Don't you have other people to gr— inspect?"

    "The offer is always on the table," said Dench, lifting his hand. "And between you and me, I wouldn't write you up if one day you decided to wear something…" He pinched the fabric of Kaltha's sleeve. "…non-regulation to work."

    Kaltha made the scathing lekku gesture again as he walked away.

    "You could just give him what he wants," said Jarn, one of the few males in the factory.

    Kaltha cleared her throat, banishing her exotic accent. "No."

    "It's be a lot easier on us if you did," snapped Orina.

    Dench was massaging the shoulders of another girl and she was glaring at Kaltha. Kaltha ignored her.

    "I think you two are made for each other," sighed Raelow, a forty-year old mother of two who projected her adulterous fantasies onto Kaltha. "I know you care for him. I can read microexpressions. You two should just have babies already."

    Kaltha threw up in her mouth. "I don't have feelings for that rat-faced creep and I'm not having kids with him."

    "You don't have to have kids with him," Orina replied, rolling her eyes. "Just put out for him so he'll leave us alone."

    "How much is he offering you?" asked Jarn. "It's got to be a ton by now, doesn't it? I say milk him for a little longer and then cash in. I wish he swung the other way, honestly, because I'd kill for that kind of easy money."

    "All of you, stop talking to me," Kaltha growled. "I just want to finish my shift in silence."

    She huffed and reached for another bolt. She heard Orina whisper, "Stuck up."


    At long last came the time when Kaltha could view her message. She selected a corner of the room and held the transceiver close to her face so she could hear it on the lowest volume setting.

    The imagecaster hummed to life and a Weequay in a long coat and soldier's cap appeared in blue static. "Mornin', Kaltha," said Tarkay brightly. "'Ow are things on Montal? Cantina's doin' well, but I'm afraid it's not enough to cover the expenses completely, what with six mouths to feed. On top o' that, the girl's caught a horrible disease. She's coughin' somethin' dreadful…"

    Kaltha heard the sound of her little girl coughing meekly outside the range of the hologram. "So we're going to need a bit of extra money this time around, you know, to keep 'er 'ealthy an' strong— Oh, bless me, the baby's 'owlin' again. Lona, would you quiet the baby down, dear? Well, get Port to do it then! Thanks, muni." Tarkay winced as his youngest son continued to wail in the background. "It's not much, just an extra thirty credits a week is all…"

    Kaltha blanched. That was double her salary. She couldn't afford that…

    "For your daughter's 'ealth after all," said Tarkay. "Quay knows we'd all be 'eartbroken if— SEVEN 'ELLS, BELLONA, WOULD YOU SHUT UP THAT BRAT!"

    Kaltha switched off the communicator quickly, but it was too late. The tavernmaster's outburst had attracted the attention of the other workers.

    "Who's that?" asked Orina, creeping closer.

    "No one," Kaltha stammered, the tips of her lekku quivering.

    "A message?" Raelow came over, intrigued. "Well, who's it from?"

    "Just… someone I have to send money to." Kaltha tried to slip the communicator into her pocket.

    "Who would you need to send money to?" Orina laughed shrilly. She snatched the device out of Kaltha's hand. "Come on, then, let's see the rest of the message."

    "No! Give zat back!" Kaltha shouted.

    There was grabbing and scratching and pawing as the workers squabbled over the holoprojector. Kaltha had almost gotten it back when Orina yanked hard on one of her headtails. Kaltha cried out and dropped to her knees. Jarn snatched the communicator and switched it on.

    "—sorry about that," said Tarkay. "Boy's always 'ungry an' never satisfied. Anyway, your little girl says 'ello, although she can't get out of bed. Send us fifteen creds extra right away so we can buy a healin' serum and I'm sure she'll be right as rain very soon, Quay willin'. Thank you kindly, my dear. 'Ave a lovely week."

    The message faded out as Kaltha lay weeping in pain on the ground.

    "So," Orina whispered. "You're hiding a kid."

    "Who's the father?" Raelow gasped, horrified.

    "Some random deadbeat, obviously," said Jarn. "So you'll get with a spacer and have his baby, but you won't spend one night with Dench? That is perplexing."

    Kaltha shrieked and lunged for Jarn's face. "Give me zat communicator!"

    The workers yelled and snarled as Kaltha's holoprojector was hurled about, tossed from hand to hand. The commotion brought the attention of the entire room and soon a crowd was around them trying to break up the fight or shouting encouragement to Orina and Jarn.

    "Stop it! STOP IT! DESIST AT ONCE!" a voice roared from the balcony.

    All eyes drifted upwards towards the two men on the balcony. The workers recognized the prime minister and the regional governor.

    "Minister Halmath!" Dench rushed to the front of the room and stood at attention. "I'm very sorry that—"

    "I had hoped to show Governor Tolfort an example of Montal's shining industry," said Halmath coldly. "Instead, I walk in on my workers fighting like loth-cats. This is unbecoming behavior for Imperial workers."

    "I am very sorry, Prime Minister," Dench groveled.

    "You've embarrassed me in front of the regional governor," Halmath said sternly. "I expect you to report to me in person at the end of the work day, do you understand?"

    "Y-yes, Minister," Dench said, wringing his hands. "My apologies, Prime Minister. Things were going smoothly. You simply happened to walk in at a bad time. I was attempting to sort it out just as you and the governor came in."

    "I hope so," said Halmath. "Governor, I apologize for these workers' unprofessional behavior. I assure you this is not up to their usual standard of performance."

    "Of course not, Minister," said Tolfort, frowning.

    Halmath stroked his chin. "I will return in an hour. I hope, Foreman Dench, that this factory will then be able to show Governor Tolfort the meaning of Imperial excellence. If your employees are able to demonstrate such excellence, I will take minimal disciplinary action. Governor, will that suit you?"

    "It will, Minister," Tolfort replied.

    "I will identify and eliminate the cause of the disturbance," Dench assured the prime minister.

    Everyone held their breath as the two officials left the room.

    "What," said Dench, "is the MEANING OF THIS? Explain yourselves immediately."

    "It's Kaltha!" replied all the workers in unison.

    "She's nothing but trouble," Orina sneered. "She's got a kid the rest of us don't know about. No father around. She's scraping up extra money to pay some man to keep it hushed up. Probably has a side gig doing favors, if you know what I mean."

    "Are you now?" Dench's voice changed from angry to curious. "That seems very hypocritical to me."

    "I do not have a side gig," Kaltha growled. "I got into a bad relationship when I was young. He took off when he found out I was pregnant. I can't work and take care of my daughter myself, so a cantina owner and his wife on Monderon act as guardians while I send them my salary. Zere's nothing wrong with zat!"

    Dench stroked his chin and clucked his tongue. "How do I know you don't have a… side gig? How are you scraping up the extra money?"

    Kaltha opened her mouth and realized there was nothing she could say that wouldn't be doubted.

    "You know the rules about working other jobs," said Dench softly.

    Kaltha sighed. "The truth is… I work nights at a club."

    "Aha!" Dench cried. "I knew it! You just don't want me to be one of your clients, then."

    "I don't do zat!" Kaltha insisted. "I'm strictly a dancer."

    "Mhm." Dench stroked his nonexistent chin. The others whispered his thoughts. "She's lying. Thinks she's too good for the rules. Pretending she's all by-the-book and prude. And all this time she wouldn't see the boss when she probably sees ten people every night. Snobby schutta."

    "I would like to discuss this further, in my office," said Dench. "Come with me."

    Kaltha thinned her lips and followed.

    When they arrived at his office, Dench shut the door. "Now Kaltha, you know that nothing is more important to the Empire than loyalty. And to have such a... disreputable side job is unacceptable," Dench clucked. "But… I could let you keep your job, if…"

    "The answer is still no," said Kaltha. "And don't even think of lurking around the club where I work if you find it, or I'll see they kick you out."

    "Right then," said Dench, lacing his fingers. He smiled warmly. "It is truly a shame to release such a dedicated employee."

    Kaltha tossed her tails as she stormed out of the room to pack her things.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
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  13. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    The sun was shining on Montal's eastern hemisphere. High on a walled, artificial plateau above the foggy ocean stood the city of Morso-on-Montal, seeming to gleam despite its grime, looking like a gigantic nest full of eggs. The ships that landed and departed looked like bees depositing cargo, as though they had made a hive within the clutch. To put it succintly, Morso-on-Montal breathed symbiosis.

    Halmath walked down the street with his protocol droid C4-411 and Governor Tolfort. Even though he was proud of Montal, he was particularly proud of the city of Morso. Halmath's policies had done real good for Montal, turning it from a grimy slum of a world into a thriving metropolis, full of bustling marketplaces and ships coming from all throughout the Core and the Mid Rim to trade. Montal was often compared to Corellia, which, despite being a prominent Core World, was a downright cesspit, especially compared to Montal. Before Halmath, however, they had not been so different.

    Halmath inhaled deeply, enjoying the breeze that blew through his greying hair. "Chut chut," said a voice to his right. A Toydarian beggar flapped up, holding a tin. "Moulee-rah kolka?"

    Halmath smiled and fished a credit chip from his belt pouch. He dropped it in. "Five hundred credits."

    "Fye hundro creedas!" the beggar gasped. "Kuba grancha!"

    Halmath nodded and continued walking.

    "Do you do that often?" Moff Tolfort raised an eyebrow. "I have heard of your generosity many times, seen the shelters and sanctuaries you've built here, but giving a random beggar on the street... five hundred credits?"

    "The minister is an eccentric man, if you will pardon my saying so," said Fours-Eleven, punching numbers into the datapad he was carrying.

    "There's wisdom in it," said Halmath, wagging a finger. "That man I just helped now has the means to sustain himself for at least one month- during which, not having to worry for food or shelter, he may search for a job, and thus... enter the workforce. So it is good for Montal's economy that I am so generous."

    "And how do you know he will search for a job?" Tolfort frowned. "He may easily waste it all on spice."

    "I know how to spot a spice addict, Governor," Halmath smiled. "It's an ability I've developed over many years in the service of philanthropy. I could tell by looking at him he wasn't a spice abuser. I have faith he will use my funds to pull himself upward. In my experience, very few are so lazy that they would prefer the gutter to a job that affords them a more comfortable life. And at any rate, there are many places that will hire him. My administration has created an abundance of jobs."

    "You never cease to amaze, Minister," Tolfort smiled, shaking his head.

    Halmath waved to a citizen carrying a crate. The citizen nodded back.

    "This is why I prefer walking over public transit," Halmath sighed contentedly. "A prime minister should be a person of the people."

    "It's not very practical," Fours-Eleven grumbled. "We would be on the university campus right now if we had taken the train."

    "I don't mind," said Tolfort, "as long as we finish the capital tour by the end of the rotation. I've had my whole day set aside for you, Minister, and so far, I am pleased with what I see, as usual."

    Halmath frowned. "There seems to be a crowd up ahead."

    Fours-Eleven looked up from his datapad. "Yes, there is. I'm calculating an alternate route to our appointment now."

    "No," Halmath replied, breaking into a run. Tolfort stared in confusion as Fours-Eleven jogged after the minster, protesting, "I'm not built for speeds exceeding seven miles per hour!"

    Halmath ignored his droid and tapped the nearest person on the shoulder. "What's going on?"

    "Someone's trapped under a repulsorcart!" replied the woman frantically.

    Halmath pushed into the center of the crowd. A Rodian was pinned to the ground by a slab with several heavy crates on it. "Hopa! Hopa jee!"

    "We have to get the crates off!" Halmath cried. "Has anyone tried removing them?"

    "They're too heavy!" replied a Nimbanel. "We've called for a loadlifter droid."

    "There's no time." Halmath knelt by the repulsor's controls. The apparatus was completely dead. "Does anyone have a power cell?"

    The crowd murmured and patted their pockets.

    "Time is of the essence! If we don't get this cart off him he's going to die!" Halmath shouted. "Someone, anyone!"

    "Hopa jee… Kolka…" the Rodian wheezed. He silently gasped in pain with the effort of speech, his breathing growing more labored by the second.

    Halmath decided he couldn't wait for assistance. He grabbed the underside of the repulsorcart and heaved.

    The crates slid off the lift and tumbled on their sides. Halmath threw the lift aside and stooped down to check on the Rodian. "He's broken three ribs and his lower spine," he said loudly. "Get him to a doctor!"

    As the Rodian was carried away and the crowd dispersed, Fours-Eleven and Tolfort caught up to the minister. "What was the commotion about?" asked the protocol droid.

    "A man was pinned under a shorted repuslorcart," Halmath panted, smoothing his hair back into place and wiping sweat from one of his sideburns. "I rescued him."

    "How did you unload the cart quickly enough to overturn it?" Tolfort marveled.

    "I didn't," said Halmath, checking to see if the seams of his jacket were still intact. "I tilted the entire apparatus and tipped the load onto the ground."

    "I expressed my amazement too soon," Tolfort breathed, stunned.

    Fours-Eleven looked ahead. "It seems someone has taken an interest in your heroics."

    Halmath saw a dark-bearded man in a cerulean Imperial police uniform approaching. He seemed to be aware the incident that had taken place had already been resolved, and as such, his manner was casual.

    Halmath nodded as the man walked up to him. "Inspector Koss."

    Koss nodded to the governor before addressing the prime minister. "An impressive display of strength, Minister," he remarked, raising an eyebrow. "Your abilities rival those of a Wookiee."

    "Thank you, Inspector," Halmath nodded.

    "I've only seen such raw power in one other human," Koss mused, more to himself than to the prime minister.

    "Who?" asked Tolfort.

    Koss blinked and coughed. "My apologies. I would insult the minister."

    "It's alright, Inspector," Halmath reassured him. "I wouldn't take offense. Who is it?"

    "A convict who broke his parole," Koss replied with hesitation. "I used to be a warden on Tromani before I joined the IOCI."

    Tolfort stroked his chin with interest. "What was his name?"

    "Com Narcom." Koss's lip curled in disgust. "Always a troublemaker. Tried to escape several times. He only succeeded in lengthening his sentence. He had already escaped and attempted to escape five times when he was transferred to Tromani under my watch. He made two more escape attempts on Tromani, if you can believe it, though he never succeeded in getting offworld back to the wretched hole where he came from."

    Koss shook his head. "I was finally able to impress upon him that his escape attempts were only causing his time to be extended, and he gave up. After he had served his sentence and was released, he almost immediately broke his probation and vanished from the galaxy."

    "What an intriguing character," Tolfort mused. "I wonder what he's doing with his life."

    "As do I, Governor," Koss replied. "I have precious few leads on him."

    "What was his crime?" asked the governor. "He can't be a very serious threat, or I would have heard of him."

    "It's not so much his crime, but his criminality," said Koss. "A repeat offender is likely to continue offending unless he is sufficiently deterred from doing so. Hence the Empire's strict parole regulations."

    Halmath's lips were thinned. "Well, Inspector, seeing as you're here, why don't you tell the governor how well the Montal police force is doing."

    "The crime rate is impressively low," Koss sniffed. "Thanks in no small part to my efforts, although of course I wouldn't want to deprive the minister of credit."

    "Yes, you have been an excellent chief inspector, Koss," Halmath replied evenly. "I have commended you to the governor many times."

    "Yes, and it is finally good to meet you in person," said Tolfort, shaking Koss's hand.

    "Tell me, Minister, what do you think of Minister Halmath's policies?" asked Koss.

    "The results speak for themselves," said Tolfort proudly. "I wish every planet in the sector could follow his example. I will be giving notes to the other planetary ministers."

    "Indeed," Koss muttered bitterly. "Well, I won't keep you. No doubt you have many duties to attend to."

    As the inspector walked away, Fours-Eleven punched a few numbers into his datapad. "We're late, by the way."

    "I know, I know," said Halmath, "but there was a citizen in need, and it's my duty to serve the citizens under my jurisdiction. A duty that supersedes the obligation to be punctual to one's municipal affairs."

    "If you didn't want a stickler for procedure for a personal assistant, you shouldn't have purchased a protocol droid," Fours-Eleven huffed.

    Tolfort chuckled. "You have a dutiful assistant, Minister."

    Halmath wasn't listening. His attention was fixed on the Twi'lek woman they were walking past. Her eyes were full of scorn and loathing and they followed his unblinkingly.

    "Do I know her?" Halmath muttered to his droid so Tolfort would not hear.

    "I don't believe so, sir."

    "Why would she look at me like that?" he wondered, furrowing his brow.

    "I don't know and I don't believe it matters," replied Fours-Eleven. "We're behind schedule as it is. I can only imagine how anxious the dean must be that we haven't shown up yet. I suggest we take the train the rest of the way."

    "Very well," Halmath murmured, looking back. The woman was still glaring after them.
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  14. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Would I be correct in assuming that Koss fills the role of Javert?

    While Com Narcom is clearly meant to be Jean Valjean.
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  15. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    Well, I rather like to leave that up to the reader to figure out. If they don't make the connections immediately, they usually do in a few chapters.
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  16. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    4 Montal months later.

    The wind howled through the snow-lined levels of the city. Winter had come to Morso-on-Montal, bringing with it what was for most a charming spirit. But for the few destitutes on the street, the beauty of the snowfall was lost in the darkness and the cold that cut through their rags like a frozen blade, leaving them to cover their nakedness and shiver.

    Kaltha stepped into the automated banking booth, disgusted with herself. But with nightclub work now being her only source of income, she would have to start lowering her standards and taking offers she had always refused.

    And lowered them she had. She was no longer strictly a dancer.

    She put her credit chip into the machine and transmitted fifteen credits to the Tarkays. At least the Tarkays swore her child was making a good recovery. That was all that mattered.

    Kaltha coughed. Her own health was deteriorating. Once her daughter was whole again, she would have to purchase medicine for herself.

    She walked away from the nightclub, only two remaining credits to her name, shivering. She was in no state to brave a Montalian winter. She had sold most of her clothing to pay the Tarkays. All that remained on her back was a dancer's costume and a thin cloak wrapped around her body. She struggled to keep her legs covered as the wind blew under her meager robe, as if it, too, thought her unworthy of dignity. Between the frigid air, the dancing, and things she preferred not to think about, she was very sore indeed. She couldn't feel her lekku and were sure the tips were turning black. She didn't dare check.

    "Hello, pretty," said a familiar voice.

    Kaltha whirled around. Dench's eyes widened. "Kaltha! I didn't recognize you. I thought you were a random Twi'lek."

    "I find zat difficult to believe," Kaltha snarled. "I told you not to come here."

    "I didn't know this was where you worked," Dench insisted. "But I'm very glad to learn that."

    "I'm sure you are," Kaltha shot back. "Get lost, sleemo."

    "Sleemo?" Dench clutched his chest. "Kaltha, when did you become so churlish?"

    "When I stopped working for you and didn't have to take your nerf spit anymore," said Kaltha. "Leave me alone."

    "You look terrible," said Dench, stepping closer. He cupped his hand on her cheek. "What happened to you? How can I help?"

    "You can take your filthy hand off me," Kaltha seethed.

    "You're clearly struggling," said Dench. His hand slid down from her face to the edge of her cloak to slip it off. "I know a way you can make some extra money."

    Kaltha screeched and punched Dench in the jaw. A tooth flew out of his mouth.

    Dench touched his jaw in shock. He spat blood onto the snow.

    His brow furrowed into a glare. "How… dare you."

    Kaltha stood over him, nostrils flaring, when she saw Dench's expression change. She looked behind her and saw an Imperial policeman walking past with three stormtroopers.

    "Officer!" Dench called. "Officer! I've been attacked!"

    "No, no, no!" Kaltha pleaded frantically. "Stop! I'm sorry! Don't—"

    The squad stopped in front of them. "What is going on?" asked the leader, a man in a blue inspector's uniform.

    "Inspector!" Dench cried. "I was walking by when this nightclub dancer punched me in the jaw!"

    "Is that so?" The inspector whirled on Kaltha. "You are under arrest for assault. Cuff her."

    "No! No!" Kaltha screamed, dropping to her knees. "I can't go to jail! I have a girl, a little girl, she's ten years old, she's very sick, if I can't work zen I can't get her ze medicine she needs to—"

    "Quiet!" snapped the inspector. "You should have thought of your little girl before you physically attacked a man of good standing. Are you hurt, sir?"

    "She knocked out my tooth, sir," Dench replied, opening his mouth to show the men. He gargled blood in his bottom lip and spat it out.

    "TF-601, get a testimony," said the inspector. "602 and 599, arrest this woman."

    Kaltha sobbed as the troopers put her in binders. If only she hadn't let her temper get the better of her. If only she'd accepted Dench's offer…

    "Inspector Koss!" came a loud voice. The inspector turned around to see the prime minister walking toward him. "What happened, Inspector? I heard a commotion."

    "This woman attacked this man," Koss replied. "She will be sentenced to no less than six months in jail for this offense."

    "Foreman Dench?" Halmath's eyes widened. "Is this true?"

    "He tried to…" Kaltha stammered. "Tried to… Get me to…" Kaltha couldn't finish as she broke down.

    "Dench!" Halmath exclaimed. "Did you molest this woman?"

    "I did not!" Dench insisted haughtily.

    "Please, sir, zere's a child," Kaltha sobbed. "My child, you have to let me go or she'll die, plea—"

    "Quiet!" roared Koss. "I will not tell you again, no more excuses!"

    "Wait a moment, Inspector," said Halmath. He bent down to Kaltha. "What's her name?"

    Kaltha gritted her teeth through her tears. "Leela," she whispered. Kaltha looked the minister in the eye. Her red, bloodshot eyes burned into his. "You… You let him… fire me."

    Halmath's eyes widened. "I am so sorry."

    Koss cleared his throat. "Minister, if you don't mind…"

    "Dench," said Halmath coldly, "you're fired."

    "What!" Dench sputtered. "But I have run your factory industriously for—"

    "You're fired!" Halmath roared. "Get your belongings out of my factory and get off my planet! How dare you stalk and molest this woman! Get out of my sight! Now!"

    Dench yelped and bolted away.

    "He was a witness!" Koss protested.

    "You won't need to write that report, Inspector," Halmath replied, his breath heavy. "Release this woman immediately."


    "Do it, or I'll report you to the regional governor."

    Koss ground his teeth. "Perhaps I shall report you. Your policies here are far too un-Imperial and border on—"

    "My policies are approved by Moff Tolfort," Halmath retorted icily. "Let her go. Now."

    Koss snarled and waved for the troopers to remove Kaltha's binders. They did so and Kaltha dropped to her hands, weeping on the ground. Koss glared at the minister one last time and walked away, the troopers following. Halmath placed a comforting hand on the Twi'lek's back, then scooped her up. "Fours-Eleven!" he cried. "Get me a speeder to the medical center immediately!"
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  17. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    *desperately tries to scrape together what little I know of the plot and characters of Les Mis.*
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  18. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    I wouldn’t worry about it honestly
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  19. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    The sky began to clear over Morso-on-Montal. Now, instead of a blank sheet of whirling snow, the stars could shine against the darkness. High in the rotunda of the ministerial tower, Aberon Halmath entered his office.

    Halmath sat at his desk called up Monderon on a holomap and found the address Kaltha had given him. After delivering her to the medical center, he had promised to make sure her child was alright.

    Halmath looked up. Koss walked into the room. His demeanor was no longer haughty, but just as resolute. Halmath closed the holomap and folded his hands. Koss stopped at the minister's desk and handed him a datapad.

    "What's this?"

    "My discharge," Koss replied. "I made a false report. I must be discharged from the Montal police force."

    "A false report?" Halmath frowned. "On what?"

    The inspector coughed. "On you, Minister."

    "Me?" Halmath furrowed his brow in confusion.

    "Yes," Koss confirmed. "You recall an incident some time ago with a faulty repulsorcart?"

    "Yes," said Halmath, "but there was no crime there. Why would you report on that?"

    "It's not that," replied Koss. "You remember I compared you to a certain convict by the name of Com Narcom, who shares your unusual strength?"


    "Well, when you arrested that woman, I reported to my superiors that I suspected you of being Narcom."

    Halmath raised an eyebrow.

    "I am sorry, sir," said Koss. "It was a heated judgement, born of resentment, and it is inexcusable. I have just learned of the error of my judgement. Shortly after submitting my report, I was informed that Com Narcom has already been apprehended."

    "Has he now?" Halmath furrowed his brow. "You're certain it's him?"

    "Without a shadow of a doubt," said Koss triumphantly. "Of course, he denies everything, but that's to be expected."

    "Yes," Halmath murmured, stroking his chin. "He acts as though he has no idea why he is under arrest, or who you believe him to be?"

    "Precisely," said Koss.

    Halmath rose from his chair. "You said you were the warden who authorized Narcom's release. You have not been stationed on Tromani for years. How do you know for certain this man is the one you are searching for?"

    "The place where his prisoner's brand would be," said Koss with a glint in his eye. "The skin is synthetic. He claims to have received a grievous bite from an akk dog which necessitated a skin replacement, but his alibi is too convenient. It has to be him. He will be sent to Wobani to serve a life sentence."

    Halmath thinned his lips as the inspector sighed and went on. "I, too, must be punished. I have insulted your reputation, Minister, and broken protocol. You must sign my dishonorable discharge." Koss pushed the datapad to him.

    Halmath picked up the datapad. He handed it back. "It's an understandable mistake, Inspector," he said warmly. "The Empire is grateful to you for your commitment and integrity. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions in the future and you will continue to serve your Empire well. You may return to your post."

    Koss stared at the datapad, took it from the minister's hand, and left his office. Halmath sat back in his chair and sighed, kneading his forehead in ponderation.

    He took his droid caller from his belt and pressed a switch. Fours-Eleven entered the room shortly. "You called?"

    Halmath folded his hands and sighed. "The Empire has arrested a man they believe to be Com Narcom."

    "Oh," said Fours-Eleven. "Well, that can't be right."

    Halmath stared at his desk. "What am I going to do, Fours-Eleven? I've done so much good for Montal. If I stepped down from my position…"

    "You cannot do that, sir," Fours-Eleven agreed. "Ignore it."

    "But I can't ignore it." Halmath slammed a hand on his desk. "I've always protected the innocent, whenever I could."

    "You can't this time."

    Halmath buried his face in his hands. "No, Fours-Eleven, I can't."

    "Well, I'm glad you got that sorted—"

    "Who am I, Fours-Eleven?"

    Fours-Eleven turned around. Halmath had picked up the golden cup on his desk and was staring at it thoughtfully.

    "You are Aberon Halmath, prime minister of Montal," said the droid.

    "But I'm not."

    "You are now."

    Halmath clenched his fist. "All I have worked for, all the good I have done, is based on a lie."

    "It is a lie that has done only good."

    Halmath sat, stroking his chin. "But if I were in his place... would I forgive the man who put me away for life?"

    "His feelings are irrelevant," said the droid. "You would be acting for the good of many."

    "But he wouldn't understand that," said Halmath. "He wouldn't know who I am. He couldn't know who I am if I were to remain in my station, or else the Empire would know who I was."

    "You have always impressed on me the importance of sacrifice," replied the droid.

    Halmath rose. "If I allow this man to take my place, he is a pawn, not a sacrifice. Bring me a holorecorder, please."

    Fours-Eleven waddled out of the room and returned with the device the minister requested.

    Halmath placed the holorecorder on his desk facing him, took a deep breath, and turned it on.

    "I am Com Narcom, Prisoner 60031 of the Tromani Penitentiary," he said. He unbuttoned his municipal uniform and slid his right shoulder from his sleeve, exposing his upper arm. He turned his bare arm to the recorder to show the brand that was on it. He picked up the device with his other hand and held it closer, bringing the Republic prisoner's mark into focus in the grainy blue projection. Having displayed the tattoo he returned the recorder to the desk and resumed speaking as he rebuttoned his tunic. "I will turn myself in shortly, but now I have a promise to fulfill to a woman on bedrest."

    Halmath opened his desk drawer and pulled out a datapad. "This will allow you to monitor my location. My droid will deliver it to you. I only request that you allow me to travel to Monderon and back, and that you release the man you have in custody. He has done no wrong."

    Halmath switched off the recorder. "Take this to the police station," he said as he rebuttoned his uniform. He handed him the recorder and the datapad.

    "I'm going to miss you, Minister," said Fours-Eleven, taking the device.

    The minister smiled. "Call me Com."
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  20. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    "Where is my daughter?" asked Kaltha. "Where is Leela?"

    "She is not here, madam," replied the medical droid. "You need your rest."

    "I need someone to get my daughter right away," said Kaltha urgently. "Where's ze minister? He promised he would bring her to me."

    "I do not know where the minister is," said the droid. "But he was only here a few hours ago. He could not have gone to Monderon and back between then and now. If he has left for Monderon, he is likely arranging for your daughter's return now."

    Kaltha shivered. The room felt so cold despite the fact that she was drenched in sweat.

    "Rest, madam," said the droid. "You have a severe fever. If you do not rest you may not recover."

    "Alright," said Kaltha, chewing her lip. She closed her eyes. The droid went to fetch more medicine for her infusion pump.

    Voices came from outside, muffled by the door. "You can't see her now, Minister, she's resting."

    "It's urgent. I won't be long." The doors slid open and Halmath rushed to Kaltha's bedside.

    "Minister?" she croaked. "Do you have my child? Where is she?"

    "I came to tell you I'm leaving for Monderon immediately," Halmath replied comfortingly. "I'll have her here by the beginning of the planetary rotation."

    "The Goddess bless you, sir," Kaltha smiled. She closed her eyes. "Bring her to me."

    "I will." Halmath bowed his head and turned to leave. The door burst open.

    "Well," Koss sneered. "I didn't expect to find you planetside, let alone still in Morso."

    Kaltha gasped. "No, no, no!" she screamed, pulling her sheet up to her eyes. "Don't take me away! Minister, you said he wouldn't come for me!"

    "I haven't," said Koss icily, his gaze fixed firmly on Halmath.

    "Koss," Halmath said with an edge, lifting a hand, "I told you I would turn myself in. But I've made a promise to this woman that I must fulfill first."

    "A promise!" Koss scoffed. "A promise, made by a thief and a criminal, who fraudulently bought his way into the position of prime minister! I have heard many excuses in my time, but not one quite so rich."

    "What?" asked Kaltha. "Who's a thief? What are you talking about?"

    "This man, this so-called Prime Minister Halmath," Koss exclaimed malevolently, "is a fraud. He is not Aberon Halmath, but Com Narcom, the thief! He is a liar! He will not keep any promise he has made to you."

    "What!" Kaltha gasped. "Minister, is zis… Minister?"

    "It is true that my name is not Halmath," said Com, "but I will keep your promise. I—"

    "You cannot trust him!" Koss shouted gloatingly. "He has broken the law time and time again and he will break your promise!"

    Kaltha shrieked. The monitor beeped rapidly as she stiffened, eyes wide, and fell back. She lay there unmoving with her frantic eyes still open.

    "No, no!" Com rushed to her side and checked for her pulse. He seized the edges of the vitals panel and stared into it. Her breathing had stopped. Her erratic heartbeat flattened to nothing and her brain activity followed suit.

    Com stood seething over the panel. "You've killed her."

    "She was on death's door," Koss scoffed. "The slightest shock could have killed her."

    "That's exactly what it did!" Com roared. He whirled on the inspector. "Now you listen to me," he said with heavy breath, "I told this woman I would retrieve her child and I'm going to do it."

    "Still clinging to that story, are you?" Koss growled. "You must take me for a fool."

    "After I make sure the child is safe," Com insisted, "I'll make good on my other promise and turn myself in. You can come with me to make sure of it. Just let me retrieve the girl."

    "I'm not going to let you go after all these years, Minister," Koss sneered. He drew his blaster. "I've been chasing down your worthless hide since before the Empire was founded. I'm not about to let you slip through my fingers now when I have apprehended you every time. This time, there will be no escape. You will die on Wobani."

    Com drew his pistol. "Believe what you want. I made two promises and I know which one I will break if I have to."

    "So you admit it!" Koss crowed. "You do not keep your promises. You cannot bargain your way out of this, Narcom."

    "You don't know a thing about me," Com snarled, moving slowly counterclockwise as he searched for an escape. "Who I've become. I'm a honest man now. I made that promise years ago."

    "You broke that one too." Koss trained his gun on Com and began to circle as well. "Aberon Halmath? Please. And don't act as though you didn't use your newfound wealth to rise to your station. You never would have made it otherwise. Where did you get it? How many people did you have to steal from to become so rich and influential that you could bribe your way to the top?"

    "It was gifted to me on condition I use it to reform myself," said Com.

    "Lying is in your nature," Koss hissed gleefully. "You simply can't stop. I only wonder how you managed to steal from so many in such a short timespan."

    "I'm not going to argue with you," Com snapped. "I'm going to do what I said I would."

    "You are nothing." Koss's face became twisted with hatred. "I don't know a thing about you? That makes two of us. Since you elected to share your 'story' with me, let me do the same."

    Koss walked closer, his pistol still trained on Com. "Did you know I'm not fully human, Narcom? My dirty little secret. I'm half-Kiffar through my mother. My father was a senator imprisoned for corruption. My mother was a thief. You remind me so much of my parents, Narcom."

    Com's hand shook. He gripped it with his other hand to hold his blaster steady and retreated back. His gun was now pointed at the inspector's head.

    "They had me in prison," snarled Koss. "And from the moment of my birth I was scorned. Doomed to live in the shadow of Senator Koss and his jail slag mistress. Doomed to live in disgrace for another man's crimes. But if I made it life's work to serve justice, I would be known as an honorable man. So I enlisted in the Empire, and made a new name for myself, tracking down scum… like… you."

    Koss squeezed his trigger the split second he saw Com's knuckle clench, but it was too late. He toppled backward and hit the floor, stunned. Com lay panting on his knees. The pockmark on the wall smoked. Com was grateful for the fast reflexes that had saved his life. He picked up his blaster he had dropped when he'd dove out of the way. Seeing that the only window in the room was not the kind that opened, he shot it out, reached into his coat and dropped a bag of credits on the floor, and climbed down. The moment he dropped to the ground, he ran as fast as he could in search of a speeder to borrow.
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  21. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    As I have been called to a service mission, I will no longer be updating this thread. If you want to read the rest of this story, follow the link to my AO3 page in my signature. I’d appreciate any feedback left there as well. Thanks guys!
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  22. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Sorry to hear that you'll have to go on hiatus for a while! I really enjoyed this story and the others (though I haven't gotten to the Amber and Idiot's Arrays one yet). Anyway, thanks for letting everyone know where the rest of this story is, and hope your service mission goes well! :)

    Really liked the vivid settings, especially the way that the Les Mis era scenery is kind of remixed into these planets in a way feels very Star Wars. (Hovercoaches! :D) And though my memories of Les Miserables are vague and all from a movie version watched in high school, there are some character resemblances that are really fun to spot. Like @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 mentioned, there does seem to be a definite Javert resemblance in one character, and Com Narcom's story does have really close parallels too! And then I went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole looking for Kaltha's counterpart -- it's really interesting to see how they're alike and different, since she's definitely her own unique character.

    Korma's concern for a total stranger makes him really likable, and it was really fun to see his and Sister Risuno's conversation. Something tells me this isn't the first time he's raised her concerns this way! :p (Also, "may the Force be with you" indeed. He really does have some secrets! [face_thinking]) And you can see Com slowly starting to crack through whatever barrier he has put around himself -- but ever so cautiously, until the point where Korma defends him and gives him a second chance. (And later we see that he made something out of it after all, in spite of what might have been expected by the likes of Koss.)

    It's a tragedy that Kaltha didn't get that sort of unexpected kindness until sort-of at the very end of her life -- and unfortunately it was too little too late to save her. :( I liked that we got to know her over a few chapters, even though it does make it all the worse that she's gone. It was interesting to see Portia's family appear -- in a worse kind of con game than their usual, sadly. Somehow I doubt that situation is as they described, one way or another. (And wow, Dench and the rest of her coworkers are infuriating. It's one thing to have a corrupt and slimy person in a position of power but so much worse if everyone else is just wholeheartedly enabling that and picking out the most vulnerable ones to throw to the wolves.) I'm very curious to see whether and how "Halmath" will be able to help her daughter, given everything that happened in the most recent chapter.

    Koss has a really odd and twisted motivation, and it's fascinating that he's almost the reverse of Korma in the way that he knows just a tiny bit about Com Narcom and that's enough to make him want this guy punished -- basically for remiding him of his parents. :oops: Whereas Korma just barely sensed some possibility for change and wanted to give him a new lease on life. At any rate, it's a good thing that Com's preternatural strength seems to extend to being really fast as well! That last bit was so easy to visualize and made for a really cinematic moment. :eek:
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  23. Findswoman

    Findswoman WIP Month Champion and Hostess Extraordinaire star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    So, I’ve finally caught up with this like I’ve been meaning to for so long, and WOW! I’m very, very impressed with the story you’ve created and the world you’ve woven here, the gritty details of the setting on Montal, the interweaving of the characters’ relationships and motivations, and of course the sheer action and suspense! I was pretty floored by the Com-Halmath twist, which made me wonder if the Com we see taking shelter with Korma at the beginning is really someone else who has swapped places with this one. And oh my heart, Kaltha! :_| What a way to die, just as someone is finally treating her with kindness and dignity after she’s had to stoop so low and take all of Dench’s bantha poodoo—all so that she can help her little girl who’s so far away and who won’t ever be able to see her again. =(( But Dench sure got what he deserved, the slimeball! I am very curious to see what Com’s next course of action will be now that Koss is out of the way (good riddance to him, too). Fingers crossed that he will be able to do something for little Leela so far away, because Mr. Tarkay seems like... quite a handful too (heck, I KNOW he is, from your other stories). I wonder what their interactions might be like down the line!

    Thanks so much for sharing this story here—I really appreciate that you did and hope we can see you here again sometime. Till then, I hope your mission will be a meaningful and memorable experience! :)
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  24. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    Those who have been following this thread will be pleased to hear that I have made an early return to the JCF and will resume updating this story thread!

    (Oh, and @Cowgirl Jedi 1701, thank you again for the comment you left in the middle of Act II! Made my day.)

    I have made one change since announcing my hiatus, and that is that Koss is now half-Zabrak instead of half-Kiffar, so now he has small horns hidden under his cap. I feel like this works better for multiple reasons, not least of which is that horns are cool.

    Now, where did I leave off? Oh yes.


    The sign outside Tarkay's Hostel Cantina blinked weakly, sparking occasionally and dimly illuminating the graffiti-like mural beside the door depicting a red-capped Weequay standing triumphantly on a pile of battle droids. An Aqualish stood in front of the painting with all four eyes narrowed, looking at the grime-stained walls of the tavern in front of him. He looked around, but all he could see down either side of the road were houses and shops poking out of the sand-colored grass. The hostel, the tallest building for miles, looked to be his only option. So he stepped up to the door and it slid open to admit him.

    A Weequay in a red cap bearing a passing resemblance to the figure on the mural turned his head and strode through the tables and chairs to greet him. "Sit yourself down, sir. 'Ave a drink! First one comes with the room."

    Tarkay patted the customer on the shoulder as he slid him into a chair and placed a glass in front of him with a wink. Then he sashayed over to another table, his dark blue coat-tails swishing behind him. "Chowbaso, my pateesa, my pateesa!" he cried. "Let me take that for you." He lifted a Rodian's backpack off their back and carried it over to a shelf. Surreptitiously, he opened the pack and palmed a small bag from it, from which he removed a few credits. He slipped the credits under his red cap.

    He noticed a patron slumped over his table, passed out. He rushed over to him, slipped a hand in and out of his pocket, and shook him. "Wake up, sir! You're drunk!"

    The patron stirred and looked up questioningly. "Why don't you return to your room where you can nurse that 'angover you're goin' to 'ave tomorrow?" Tarkay helped the patron stand, sent him stumbling off to his lodgings and made his way to the counter, chuckling as he pocketed the credits he'd nicked from the inebriated customer. "'Ow's dinner, love?"

    "I don't 'ave enough milk," Tarkay's wife grumbled.

    "Well, 'ave the girl get it, what's 'er name, Leeta," Tarkay drawled, sauntering off. "Chuba ya! May I interest you in a bottle o' yatooni boska, sir? Only five credits! Un che copa nagoola, eh?"

    Tarkay's wife turned around. "Oi! Leela! Get in 'ere, now!"

    A terrified Twi'lek girl of ten scurried into the room. "Y-yes, Mrs. Tarkay?"

    "Go an' milk the betdelays," Tarkay's wife barked.

    "Now?" Leela's lip trembled. "But it's dark."

    "'But it's dark,'" Tarkay's wife mimicked. "What a baby. 'Ow old are you? You get the bucket and you get out there and don't come back until you've filled it! I need at least another gallon if I'm to feed this crowd, an' if they don't eat then neither will you! Move it!"

    Leela dashed from the room. She wrapped her skinny arms around the milking keg and swung her shoulder into the access panel to open the door. She could barely see around the barrel as she stepped into the night, bumping it on the doorway as she stumbled out. The Tarkays' hangar-like barn was several yards from the hostel. Leela timidly made her way toward the barn, praying she wouldn't encounter any snakes or tigriplas lurking in the grass, and also that she was going in a straight line and wouldn't miss the barn entirely, since she could barely see or walk without wobbling.

    The howl of a loopla set her on edge and made the night seem colder. Leela tried to take her mind off her fear by thinking about living in a floating palace on Bespin. She'd met a smuggler once named Calrissian who had told her about the planet Bespin, how it was beautiful and full of magnificent clouds, and he intended to buy a retreat mansion there someday, when he was ready to leave the smuggling business.

    He had told her all this while she was standing behind him, holding up her fingers to slip Tarkay the value of his opponent's sabacc hand. That was how Leela had seen Calrissian pull an extra card from his sleeve. When Tarkay found out Calrissian was cheating, he got angry and kicked him out. Leela wished she hadn't accidentally let that slip. If Tarkay had gotten reckless, he might have betted her off, and she could have gone to live with Calrissian. But then her mother wouldn't know where she was.

    Leela timidly entered the barn and saw the betdelays. The great round, rubbery beasts were snoring loudly, their udders squashed under their fat bellies. She would have to wake one to milk it.

    Leela flicked the switch and the one illuminator that actually worked sparked on, casting a dim glow in one corner of the room. Leela set down the keg and walked up to one of the smaller betdelays. Gingerly, she poked it, to no effect.

    Leela took a deep breath and slapped the beast's side as hard as she dared.

    The betdelay's eyes opened groggily. "Up!" she said. "Up!" She poked it a few more times.

    The betdelay groaned and heaved itself onto its legs. Leela took the barrel and pushed it underneath the creature's udder.

    Leela pulled and pulled on the udders, but she was only able to fill the keg a few inches. She bit her lip and looked around. The Tarkays only had six betdelays. If she couldn't get more milk out of the other ones, she wouldn't be able to fill the bucket, and even if she could, she'd probably have to wake every single one to do it.

    Trying not to cry, she moved to the next one and patted it awake.

    Discouragingly, she encountered similar results. She took a deep breath of determination. Surely the next one was full to bursting. But when she roused another betdelay and saw its teats, she knew it was unlikely.

    As expected, the third betdelay yielded very little. The keg was not even a third of the way full. She knew she couldn't get the milk the Tarkays needed.

    Leela sat down with her knees drawn up and began to cry. The Tarkays would compensate for the milk with water, but she would get nothing but blame. Her hunger gnawed at her fiercely. She had had only been allowed a very meager lunch, and been forced to get up early to work without breakfast. If the Tarkays were feeling particularly cruel, they'd make her sit at the table instead of sending her to her room, so she could watch the Tarkays' daughters eat their supper gloatingly while she starved.

    Leela heard the barn door open and froze. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Tarkay!" she wailed. "They've been milked already and I can't get anymore!"

    "I'm afraid you've mistaken me for someone else," said the person behind her. She turned around. It wasn't one of the Tarkays at all, but a human male with a large backpack. The man turned the flashlight away from Leela's eyes and toward the ceiling of the barn so his face was visible. His eyes were full of concern. "Were you crying?"

    Leela wiped her eyes. "It's just that I can't get enough milk for the mistress's cream soup," she replied. "She doesn't have enough for the customers."

    "Hm," said the man. "You've milked all six of these creatures?"

    "Well, no," Leela admitted, sniffling. "But I've milked half of them and I've only gotten this much." She pointed to the keg.

    The man looked inside. "I see." He stroked his chin, then his brows lifted. "I have an idea. Can you wait for me?"

    Leela looked up at him. "How soon will you be back?" She shuddered. "If I take too long, Mrs. Tarkay might come out here."

    "I'm going to take a speeder to go buy some," said the man, patting her head. "How long does the milking take when the creatures are lactating?"

    "Thirty minutes," Leela replied, wiping her nose. "I've been out here for five."

    "I'll be back in fifteen," the man promised. "Milk the rest of them while I'm gone. What's your name?"

    "I'm Leela."

    The man's eyes widened. He stared at Leela's bony frame, at the bruises on her shoulders. "Do they... treat you like this?"

    Leela nodded.

    The man's eyes grew stormy. "Listen to me very carefully. Your mother's sent me to get you."

    "Has she saved up enough money?" asked Leela, her eyes lighting up. "Will we be together forever now?"

    The man laid a hand on her head. "No, Leela. I'm sorry. Your mother is... somewhere where she will never feel pain again."

    Tears filled Leela's eyes. "You mean she's dead, don't you."

    "Yes," replied the man softly. "I'm so sorry."

    He held her close and let her cry into his jacket. "I'm going to take you far away from here. You won't be starved or beaten ever again."

    Leela sniffled. The man patted her back and stood. "You stay here," he said. "I'll fetch the milk."

    Leela nodded and sat on the floor, tears still running down her face. But as devastating as the loss of her mother was, the news that she would be leaving the Tarkays filled her with a hope like she had never felt before.
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  25. rktho

    rktho Jedi Knight star 1

    Apr 29, 2020
    Tarkay looked to see who had come through the door. A human male entered, carrying his milk keg. Tarkay saw Leela trailing behind him, holding his hand. Her eyes were red, but she was smiling.

    Tarkay walked over to the man. "Chowbaso! Niuta be comta. Say, er, what are you doin' there with my jug?"

    "Just helping your charge carry it," replied the stranger. "It's very heavy."

    "Oh, it's not too 'eavy, she can always roll it," Tarkay waved.

    "She got more milk than usual," the stranger explained. "Almost two gallons worth."

    Tarkay took the barrel from his arms and nearly buckled. There was more than two gallons in it.

    "'Ey Lona!" he grunted as he staggered over to the counter. "Leera's back!" He heaved the keg onto the counter.

    "About bloody time." His wife rolled her eyes. She moved to put the barrel on the floor so she could open the top. "'Ow much did she get?"

    "Quite a bit," Tarkay panted, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. "The stranger over there 'elped carry it in."

    "Evening," said the stranger from directly behind him, making Tarkay start. "My name is Ducatzis Zirowan. Kaltha sent me."

    "Did she now?" Tarkay stroked his leathery chin. "Well, welcome to Tarkay's 'Ostel Cantina. 'Ow's she doin'?"

    Zirowan looked grave. "She has passed away. I've already informed the child."

    "I have to use the vacc tube," said Leela, holding her crotch.

    "Be quick about it," Tarkay snapped. "Passed away, you say? You don't mean that?"

    "I'm afraid I do," Zirowan said gravely.

    Tarkay's wife gasped. Tarkay swallowed. "You mean she's... gone?"

    Zirowan nodded.

    "But that means..." Tarkay sat on one of his barstools and cradled his head in his hands. "Oh, Zalq."

    "Thirty credits a week," Tarkay's wife whispered under her breath. "Gone..."

    Tarkay cleared his throat very loudly, following it up with a sniffle to put an elephoth to shame. "It can't be. Oh, poor Kaltha, gone far, far too soon. It couldn't 'ave 'appened to a less deservin' woman. What ever is to become of 'er child now that she 'as left this cruel galaxy?"

    "I have come to collect her," said Zirowan. "As per her mother's final request."

    "By all—" Tarkay's wife invited, but her husband elbowed her and cut her off. "Now just a minute, 'ere. You, a stranger, expect us to just... 'and over our ward to you? The girl we've raised as one of our own for close to eight years?"

    "It was her mother's dying wish that I take her into my custody."

    "Be that as it may," Tarkay huffed, "I can't just let you take Leetra—"

    "Leela!" Tarkay's wife hissed.

    "I said Leela— away from us," Tarkay pouted. "We'll need compensation, at the very least, as a token that we're putting 'er in good 'ands."

    Zirowan furrowed his brow and removed his backpack. He then took a large bag from it and deposited it into Tarkay's hands. "Fifteen thousand credits, for your trouble, as thanks from me on behalf of Kaltha."

    Tarkay stood stunned as Zirowan marched out of the room to fetch Leela. He had no idea the man was so wealthy. He had expected to haggle until Zirowan was dry. If he parted with fifteen thousand credits so easily, surely he could afford to spend even more.

    Zirowan returned, leading Leela by the hand. "Say goodbye, Leela!" he said brightly as they passed.

    "Goodbye!" said Leela happily. She had already packed her things. The vacc tube request had been a guise.

    "Now 'old on a minute—" Tarkay began, but the door had already shut behind them.

    "What's the matter? Good riddance," Tarkay's wife huffed.

    "We can still squeeze more credits out of 'im!" Tarkay cried, dropping the sack and throwing on a coat. "Fetch my blaster rifle, woman!"

    "You're goin' to chase 'im with your gun? You're out o' your mind," she snorted. "Do that an' you'll scare 'im into givin' back the kid. Don't press our luck."

    "Oh, come off it, woman, I always press our luck an' it always works out," he retorted as he dashed to fetch his rifle. "Now where's that bloody gun?"

    Tarkay's wife waded halfway through the tables and pretended to check outside. "It's no use. 'E's gone. Probably took a speeder."

    "Poodoo!" Tarkay spat from the other room. "Well, I suppose fifteen thousand'll 'ave to be enough."

    "I'm just glad she's gone," his wife muttered. "One less extra mouth to feed."

    Tarkay rolled his eyes as the baby started wailing from the other room. "One less."
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