I should add a spoiler alert for for my main Nagina story. If you read this, you are spoilerd! Title:“You want it darker”, an answer to the Shanty Challenge Summary: Four men, all servants of the Galactic Empire, meet in a cantina. One of them has an astonishing secret that he is forced to reveal by accident. Time frame: 14 BBY Planet of choice: Lothal Disclaimer: SW is owned by George Lucas, Lucas Ltd. and now The Walt Disney Company Once Lothal had been a beautiful world. In its temperate climate the Jogan fruit had grown effortlessly. There also had been huge carpets of spine tree forests and prairies sprinkled with rock formations. Of course there had been patches of farmland, too, but somehow the natural environment had been well-balanced. Now factories and mines polluted and marred much of the once pristine planet surface. There was a reason behind it. The Empire had a five-year plan for several Outer Rim worlds, including Lothal. Each plan dealt with all aspects of development, foremost the capital goods. This planet unfortunately had minerals, including the scarce kyber crystals. In a decade this world would be ruined beyond repair. Another decade later it would contain less life than Hoth or Mustafar. Disgusted, Lieutenant Crix Madine from the Imperial Special Forces put his metal mug down. “This is not Correllian ale!” he complained and added a quick curse in Olys Corellisi. “Halle metes chun, petchuck.” He stared reproachfully into the mug. “This is but warm bantha piss,” he added. “There is nothing wrong with your drink, but your head, ginger!” commented a cool voice from behind him. “Be glad that Old Jho is in the back and cannot hear your abusive rant! He is old enough to understand your mother language.” The Imperial officer swung around in his seat, facing the newcomer. That man, fourteen years his senior, was familiar to him since his childhood days. They had fought bitter battles together, shared Mamma Gita’s self-made cookies later on. “Meeting here is a mistake!” he complained to his foster brother. “Hey wait, why am I wearing a uniform and you are not?” Dravits Draven, a blond giant, shrugged. He was an agent of the military intelligence forces.“Because I am a cautious man and you are not? It is called camouflage. Should I spell it for you?” “This entire planet has gone down the drain,” huffed Crix Madine. “Would you rather have gone to Naboo? To that dreadful mausoleum the old man has build for her? Bringing white roses with you?” The agent sat down on one of the barstools. “Or would you rather be with our parents? Sitting down with them at the kitchen table and review what happened to Nagina? Are you sure about that? They never read the autopsy report. We did.” Both men exchanged an intense glare. The sudden clinking of glasses reminded them that they were not alone in the universe, let alone in this establishment. “Gentlemen, there is no need for a bar fight!” announced the heavily accented voice of a third man. “Are you off your faces already? You both just arrived.” Large hairy hands put down four wine glasses. “Old stinker! What a surprise!” hissed Dravits Draven in utter disgust as he gazed at the human in a white uniform, that had a flamboyant cape. The Director of Advanced Weapons Research division, Orson Krennic, bowed mockingly to his old childhood enemy. “What brought you here, Orry?” Crix Madine managed to ask. “This is a family reunion.” “Is it now? Well, imagine, I am still the custodian of her property. And ISB-021 here,” he made an inviting hand gesture, “Was so kind to inform me of your arrival.” In the back of the cantina a tall man with strawberry-blond hair stepped out of a dark booth. He was dressed in a standard ISB uniform protected by a heavy black armoured vest and helmet. “Alex!” commented Dravits Draven joylessly. “Long time no see!” “Drav!” the other man answered with a curt nod before he joined them at the bar. “We know one another from the Academy,” The agent explained to his foster brother under his breath. “Alexsandr is a jolly good agent. Level-headed, clever ruthless and cold as ice.” The ISB agent gave Dravits Draven a crooked smile, mirth shining in his brown eyes. “You forgot to mention that I am cruel, remorseful and sadistic as well.” “No wonder you and Krennic here hang around together in your leisure time,” his old comrade joked silkily. “I am not off duty and the director is not either.” “You two match perfectly though. When is the wedding? I would like to come.” Agent Kallus’ jaw clenched, but before the tension could grow Orson Krennic grinned and stated, “You are both aware that Lothal is a restricted area?” “Like the airspace of Geonosis?” probed Dravits Draven. “Have a drink!” The director suggested, distant thunder in his voice. “Dehydrated men suffer from perception disorder and are prone to delusions.” Dravits Draven held up a clenched fist, ready to rumble. “My memory is in perfect order. And I remember a lot of things Nagina told me before her death. Mostly about that toy of yours.” Darkness crawled into the director’s features. “My DT-29 Heavy Blaster?” he suggested. “No, much bigger than that.” “Ina is a good story teller, always was. This why her kindie kiddies loved her so much. You seem to be a fan of fairy-tales and urban myths as well.” “Yes, we are all here for Nagina tonight,” Crix Madine threw in, before things really got out of hand. “I am not,” prompted Agent Kallus unasked. “It’s the fifth anniversary of her death,” the lieutenant argued on. “It should be a peaceful occasion, right?” Orson Krennic started to chuckle, his eyes still on fire though. “Be lucky that I have two bottles of Naboo blossom wine with me instead of two arrest warrants!” “I am not in the mood for wine,” riled Dravits Draven, an ugly snarl on his face. “Make an exception, old buddy!” Orson Krennic said with a wink. “Ina would want us to behave civilized and not like a pack of rancors.” Grudgingly, the two foster brothers took their glasses and followed their old foe to an illuminated booth. His aid trailed along. The promised wine bottles waited there and also a large Joghan fruit cake. “This is macabre,” Crix Madine said wryly. “Pig’s arse! It used to be her favourite type of cake. We will all have a piece and remember her nicely. This is what anniversaries are there for, right? To tenderly think of a beloved one that is gone.” All of a sudden the director’s com rang. His facial expression fell apart, when he gazed at the contact data. “I-I need to take that call!” he stuttered. “Be our guest!” purred Dravits Draven with narrowed eyes. They all watched him running to the opposite end of the establishment. There he remained in a corner, various emotions shifting over his face. In a soft tone he started speaking to the caller. “He has a daughter,” explained Dravits Draven. “That is classified information,” Agent Kallus cut in. “C’mon, everybody in internal affairs knows! Especially since he took a couple of months paternity leave for her. Besides, we are not talking about one of his usual weapon projects, but about a little girl he named after our deceased sister.” “Nagina?” wondered Crix Madine, annoyance and astonishment swinging in his voice. “No.” His foster brother shook his head. “Our sister’s second name.” “Cassandra?” Agent Kallus puffed up his cheeks before saying, “To be correct, he calls the child Cassie.” The ginger-haired commander moved a hand over his hurting eyes. “I cannot imagine Orson to be a father. He hates children, always did.” Dravits Draven made a discrete warning gesture, but the ISB agent was already on the case. “If you really must know: Jyn Erso is still alive, but in hiding with her parents,” he offered. “We spend a lot of time and resources to find them.” “Why would you tell me something like this, Alex?” “Because I can. My resources were always better than yours.” Agent Kallus gave back smugly. “The Erso family is one of your favourite research subjects the past years. This has not gone unnoticed by...” Singing filled the air. It came from the director. “Well my father often told me when I was just a lad, A sailors life was very hard, The food was always bad. But now I’ve joined the navy am aboard a Man o’ war, Now I found a sailor ain’t a sailor any more.” Perplexed, Crix Madine gaped at Orson Krennic. This was not a suitable song for a girl, leave alone any child. “How old is she?” “Almost seven, but what can you do?” The ISB agent rolled his eyes. “It is night time on Coruscant and little Cassie has those nightmares. The sound of her father’s voice always works miracles on her.” Dravits Draven remained unnaturally still, not making one of his usual caustic remarks. His hands were creased in front of him, right there on the table surface. The most scary thing though was his glassy gaze. He looked like a man who just faced an apparition. “Don’t haul on the ropes, Don’t climb up the mast, If you see a sailing ship it might be your last. Get your Civvies aready for another run ashore, A sailor aint a sailor aint a sailor any more.” Old Jho, a benevolent Ithorian male, appeared behind the bar. He was the patron of the cantina since many years. Without a word he put metal boards and cake forks on their table. Then he vanished into the back of the building again. “Well the killy cover mess says we have it soft, it wasn’t like that in his day, When we were up aloft. We like our bunks and sleeping bags, what’s a hammock for? Swinging from the deck head or lying on the floor. Don’t haul on the ropes, Don’t climb up the mast, If you see a sailing ship it might be your last. Get your Civvies aready for another run ashore, A sailor aint a sailor aint a sailor any more.” The usually breathy voice of Orson Krennic had something tender to it, while he sang to his daughter. His face was as peaceful as that of any father performing a lullaby. “Well they gave us an engine that first went up and down, Then with more technology the engine went around. We now steam and desil but what’s it mainly for? A stoker aint a stoker with a shovel any more. Don’t haul on the ropes, Don’t climb up the mast, If you see a sailing ship it might be your last. Get your Civvies aready for another run ashore, A sailor aint a sailor aint a sailor any more.” Crix Madine hit his smile behind his right hand. To see the director as a family man was something new and unexpected. But it seemed to be true. Perhaps Nagina’s good example had not been lost on him altogether. “Well they gave us a stumpiness so we could do it right, They gave us a radio we signal day and night. We know our code and cypher so what’s the semaphore? A bump n glass a dozen aint a toss any more. Don’t haul on the ropes, Don’t climb up the mast, If you see a sailing ship it might be your last. Get your Civvies aready for another run ashore, A sailor aint a sailor aint a sailor any more.” Orson Krennic paused and immediately there seemed to be protest on the other end of the line. With a loud sigh, he said, “I am only human.” For some heartbeats he listened, leaning his brow against the wall. “It was a long and hard day. But if you really insist...” Then he continued with the rest of the shanty. “Two cans of beer a day and that’s you’re bleeding lot. But now we have an extra one because we stopped the tot. So, we’ll put on our civvy clothes for another run ashore. A sailors just a sailor, just like he was before. Don’t haul on the ropes, Don’t climb up the mast, If you see a sailing ship it might be your last. Get your Civvies aready for another run ashore, A sailor aint a sailor aint a sailor any more. Don’t haul on the ropes, Don’t climb up the mast, If you see a sailing ship it might be your last. Get your Civvies aready for another run ashore. A sailor aint a sailor aint a sailor any more.” A brief conversation followed, exchanged in loving words that were not easily to be heard any more. Finally, the director walked back to the others, seeming somewhat exhausted, but strangely content at the same time. “Your service here is not required any longer.” Agent Kallus frowned angrily. “By all respect, sir, choose another babysitter!” “But she trusts you and we both know that the Coruscant nanny service does not work for her at all.” Orson Krennic took a deep breath and added, “Please!” “If you let me fly your ship, sir?” “Just go for the rescue, okay? Have my men pick me up in two hours. Gerrara’s cut-throats were seen in the neighbour system.” Wordlessly, Agent Kallus got up and left the premises. “A child changes everything, does it not?” Dravits Draven announced somewhat triumphantly. Orson Krennic held up a tired hand. “Not now. I am off to the loo. If you would excuse me.” ******************************************************************** (To be continued!) Translation from the Chandrilan rural dialect into Basic: off one's face = drunk Pig’s arse! =I don't agree with you. kindie = kindergarten missus= girlfriend/ partner/ wife bastard = Often used as a term of endearment between friends.