This is a repost of my favorite story from when I was on the boards 10 years ago. I'm editing and tweaking it a little to try to ease myself back into writing fic after my extended hiatus. I'm also working on an AU which I hope to post soon. Hope you enjoy. ~Raissa Title: Everyone Comes to Doran's Place Author: Raissa Baiard Characters: original characters Timeline: approximately 17 years BBY Genre: drama -------------------------------------------------------- Sometimes Raissa Baiard wondered if being Vice-Prefect of Merkesh was an honor or a punishment. Lately, she was convinced it was the latter. She frowned to herself as she skimmed the contents of one of the datacards she’d found shoved in the back of Prefect Ari Renau’s desk. It was a dubious manual of how to cheat at sabacc. She took the card out of her datapad and tossed it aside. That made, what, thirty-five datacards full of worthless information so far and another boxful to go. Raissa had little hope of finding what she was looking for on them, either. Nothing had gone right for her in a Hutt’s age, not since the day she found Renau dead in the alley behind the Merkesh Imperial Garrison. Raissa had been emptying Renau’s shredded flimsies into the trash receptacle—even on a good day Vice-Prefect translated as Renau’s personal lackey—when she discovered him lying face down, a blaster shot drilled through his chest. He looked surprised, which was more than Raissa could say for herself, not when Renau was only marginally more trustworthy than those he was supposed to protect Merkesh against. He'd enjoyed his vices, much to Raissa’s chagrin, and gambling was the foremost among them. Too often, she’d had to drag Renau away from the sabacc tables at Doran’s Café Alderaan when he was supposed to be on duty. The Prefect had been an indifferent player at best, and heliked to use his positon as a way to wriggle out of his debts, telling his buddies he would gladly pay up, if only they would stop by the garrison the next day. So to Raissa’s mind it was only a question of which irate card sharp had taken him up on that offer. Or it would have been, if not for the mangled package Raissa had found in the trash receptacle. Inside were two wadded up brown cloaks and a datacard. The cloaks were blaster scorched, hanging in tatters, and Raissa wouldn’t have used them to polish Renau’s boots. But she’d seen them before and knew that even though they didn’t look like much, they were part of the most valuable shipment of goods ever to be seized at Merkesh customs, a collection of Jedi artifacts. They were Jedi robes, and according to the datacard addressed to Grand Moff Tarkin, they were the least part of the collection. “Palpatine will surely be interested in these fine specimens!” Renau gushed in the letter. “I know he’ll want these knick-knacks for his collection.” Raissa had been puzzled when she read that. Renau might have been vain, selfish, and lazy, but he was no fool. Even he couldn’t have imagined the Emepror would have been impressed by a couple of ratty cloaks. Making promises to the Emperor you couldn’t deliver was an invitation to have Vader turn up on your doorstep. He made some vague allusions to the items promised in the earlier manifest, and mentioned that a second copy was enclosed, but neither the inventory nor the treasures Renau had planned to send to Coruscant were anywhere to be found at the scene of his death. Someone with a Blastech-30 had decided they would look better in his collection. Someone who was familiar enough with the Prefect to shoot him at close range. Raissa had rounded up the usual suspects from Doran’s place and grilled them ruthlessly. As ruthlessly as she possibly could, anyway, without knowing what it was she was trying to recover. Just to make things a little more interesting for her, Renau’s copy of the inventory of the confiscated artifacts was also missing. She’d torn apart the hideous disarray of Renau’s office, rifling through the huge stacks of flimsies on the Prefect’s desk with a growing disgust. It was like emptying the contents of a womprat’s nest. A million times during the fruitless search, Raissa wished Renau would have let her catalog his private files the way she had the garrison’s main database. Her fellow officers were absolutely useless in the investigation, too, about as much use as tanning lotion on Hoth. They were Imperial to the very core, with all that implied, and none of them liked the idea of a woman being their boss. When Renau was alive, they had grudgingly accepted her. Raissa knew what they said behind her back, about how she had gotten her position. None of it was true, though; Renau just preferred to delegate tedious administrative tasks to her. She was good at that sort of thing and it gave him more time to play sabacc. Not that Renau hadn’t made a few suggestions to her about the two of them “working more closely”, but Raissa let him know in no uncertain terms that passing flimsies across the desk was as close as she wanted to get to him. Fortunately, he’d taken no for an answer, because using a stun blaster on your superiors wasn’t the best way to advance your career. Raissa’s comlink chimed, bringing her thoughts back to the present. She was glad of the interruption because some of what was contained on the next card would have made her hair curl if it hadn’t been bound back into a tight regulation braid. She’d had no idea just how many vices Renau enjoyed. And wished she hadn’t found out. Raissa took a deep breath, and turned away from her datapad. “Baiard here.” “Message for you on the holonet relay,” came the answer. No “Vice-Prefect,” no “ma’am,” no trace of respect. Raissa drummed her fingers against her desk. “Thank you, Private. Patch it through.” The holonet receiver at her desk shimmered to life, presenting the miniature image of a man in full millitary garb. Raissa sat up straighter, and cursed the private mentally for not telling her who was calling. She’d never been privileged to meet him in person, but from the insignia he could only be one person. “Moff Cassius, what a pleasant surprise.” Cassius indeed looked surprised, but not pleased in the least. “You are the officer in charge of this garrison?” But you’re a woman. The words were unsaid, but the Moff’s expression clearly stated he couldn’t be less happy if he’d found a Kowakian lizard monkey in charge. “Yes sir,” Raissa answered, biting back the annoyance she felt. Shavit, she was a good officer, she’d served the Empire well; being female didn’t make you a simpering moron incapable of thinking about anything besides the latest fashion in the Imperial City. “Vice-Prefect Raissa Baiard, at your service, sir.” “Yes, well,” the Moff continued to regard her suspiciously. “I’m not pleased with the way you’ve handled the investigation of Prefect Renau’s death. The stolen artifacts should have been recovered by now. Coruscant is very anxious to have those Jedi relics turned over to the proper authorities and safely contained.” “I apologize for the delay, sir,” Raissa replied. “Unfortunately, the investigation has been hampered by the loss of….” “I don’t want your excuses!” Moff Cassius shouted. “And neither does the Emperor. I merely called to inform you that my staff and I are coming to Merkesh immediately. We will be taking over the investigation.” Raissa felt the blood drain from her face. This was going to look bad on her transcripts. If she hadn’t already been doomed to spend the rest of her life serving on this festering sandpit, she was now. She forced herself to smile. “The Merkesh Imperial Garrison will be very pleased to have your guidance, sir.” “I’m sure you will, Vice-Prefect,” Cassius sneered her title. “Good day.” The holo image winked out with a crackle of static. She let the frozen smile fade from her lips and dropped her head onto her desk. “Shavit, shavit, shavit,” she muttered. Just when she thought things couldn’t possibly get worse.