Child Of Night


30-04-2008 17:18:51

The mean streets of Coruscant’s Underworld are no place to raise a child. At least, not a normal child. But this was the place where Legorii spent his childhood, and what an interesting childhood it had been. Legorii’s father, a wealthy businessman that had made his true fortune in criminal dealings and black market trade, had not been a kind father. One memory of long ago stuck in Legorii’s mind, a day that had helped shape his life forevermore…

It was dusk, the beginning of another long day of tutoring under the deaf old man his father had hired to teach him such mundane subjects as arithmetic, the arts, science, and the history of the galaxy. Legorii and his tutor sat in a large suite in the wealthiest district of Coruscant, high
above the busy skylanes below. They were sitting on leather couches opposite each other, the tutor rambling on from a datapad clutched tightly in his warped hand. His yellow, cracked fingernails repulsed Legorii, as did his wrinkled skin and glassy eyes. So instead the boy, about 14 at the time, gazed out the glass window that wrapped around half of the room. The sun was rising over the tops of the buildings of the industrial district, and Legorii longed to be outside.

The teachings of the tutor did not register in Legorii’s sharp mind as he was struck with an idea. Today his father would be away on business, and the caretaker would be seeing to Legorii’s needs. The caretaker was feeble, and Legorii could easily persuade her to see his point of view. Maybe a little bribery from his father’s own coffers would sway her to his point of view as well. And the tutor was weak; a swift blow to the head would silence him for the day.

Legorii stood up from his comfortable position on the couch. The tutor stopped droning, his glassy eyes looking up at the young man. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but Legorii was too quick. The young man was strong and swift, and one blow to the head put him out cold. Legorii grinned, it was too easy. Kicking the elderly man for good measure, Legorii turned and strode from the room. Opening the door he came out into a long hallway, decorated with portraits of Legorii’s grand ancestors. He paid them no heed, determined to reach his goal.

Sure enough, he was stopped by the caretaker who was dusting the portraits at the other end of the hall. She was young, her blonde hair tied back behind her head. “Legorii, where are you going? Aren’t you supposed to be learning quadratic equations from your tutor this morning? What are you doing wandering the manor?” The caretaker was none too bright, and Legorii smiled his sweetest before replying.

“No, today father has assigned me to see to his quarterly financial report. After all, the tutor has taken ill and is resting in the suite. It would be wise not to disturb him.” With that Legorii turned and continued walking down the hall, then paused. Turning, he addressed the caretaker once more. “You know, you’re a well educated person.” At this the caretaker nodded enthusiastically. “What do you say you help me out, if I call for you? But not before, because father wants me to learn the trade independently. However, I am still young, hence I could use a helping hand occasionally.” Leaving the caretaker smiling behind him, Legorii turned once more and made his way down the staircase.

The fine rug on the staircase was made of the fur of some beast hunted only in the outer rim, and Legorii knew his father had paid well for it. For father was a very rich man, and could afford such luxuries. As he entered the parlor at the foot of the staircase, Legorii pulled up the terminal at the table. Swiping his datapad, he loaded the pass codes and security data for the manor. Then as he disconnected from the terminal, Legorii set off for the small hangar attached to the eastern wing of the manor. It was a short walk, through the ornate halls and luxurious suites of his father. Legorii was permitted to wander the manor as he pleased during hours he was not with his tutor, so he knew the passages well.

Upon arriving at the hangar, Legorii quickly keyed in the pass code to unlock the blast doors. Then he graciously entered the spacious garage, to gaze at the half dozen varieties of ships and speeders in the hangar. Selecting a small utility airship, commonly used in the public, Legorii climbed into the cockpit and started the twin engines. He had flown before, but was not legally allowed to navigate the skylanes of Coruscant. But Legorii was a fairly talented pilot, so he was not worried.

Entering the codes to unlock the controls, the young man lifted off. Slowly at first, he eased the ship out into the early morning light. It was about 0550 now, and father would not be back until 2100. Legorii had money for meals down in the inns of the Underworld, where he would be journeying, but it was never wise to keep too many credits on your person or look too wealthy, for fear of being mugged or killed by thugs and gangs.

The ship was small; Legorii didn’t know what model it was. But he eased it out into a skylane, cutting off a Rodian pilot. He shook his fist and shouted some words that Legorii couldn’t hear, but the young man wasn’t paying any attention. He was flying over to the southern district, so he could get down into the Underworld where he knew a nice cantina. Well, fine, the cantina wasn’t at all nice. It was a run down whorehouse, with a drunk and violent barkeep and gangster patrons. But it was the place to go if you wanted information.

The sun was still not completely over the tips of the skyscrapers of the districts all around, but Legorii was going to where it was perpetually dark. After he had been flying in a jampacked lane for at least a half hour, Legorii maneuvered out of the skylane and dropped down below the tops of the nearby buildings. It doesn’t take long to land the ship, and lock it tight. However, Legorii lands it atop a building and then rappels down the side. Because there are lots of scavengers down in the Underworld, and he needs the ship to get home. Here it should be safe.

The streets of the Underworld were wound like thread around a spool, a web of lies and traps meant to confuse those left at its mercy. They were prowled by the gangs that hunted this territory, always caught by the scent of blood on the air. Drug dealers or arms dealers, criminals and outlaws, exiles and aliens. They gave the Underworld its name, its reputation, its profit.

Legorii pulled his hood up, keeping his eyes downcast as he made his way across the street. There was a Dug at the street corner with a case of death sticks, and Legorii spied a couple of thugs sneaking up on him. Poor fool was about to lose his life and his profit. But the young man kept walking, reaching the door of the cantina. He hesitated for just a second before pulling it open and striding in. It was dark; Legorii couldn’t even see the bar through the smoke and shadows.

In the corner was a solitary thug, not a big brute like many of those inhabiting the Underworld. This one looked like he survived on brains and not muscles. Directly in the center was a table of four thugs, Gran by the look of them. They were obviously drunk, twisted knives fastened to their belts and cups of alcohol in their hands. Legorii steered clear, what he needed right now was to not get in any brawls with drunk Gran. The cantina looked down on its luck, but then again so did the entire Underworld. The bar was dirty, covered in grease and what looked like entrails. Legorii decided not to order a drink. He was here for information.

“Barkeep! Come here for a second.” Legorii called. Sure enough, the fat drunk man hobbled over and leaned onto the bar. He grinned, his teeth yellow and missing. A human man, not particularly old but a slob. When he spoke his speech was slurred, he had licked up too much beer from the tables after his patrons left.

“Whut cun uh get yuh?” He asked, spit spraying from his mouth. Legorii just sneered in reply, he could kill this fool so fast it wouldn’t be fair.

“I am here for information, not that stuff you brew in your bedroom. If you have a bedroom. If I wanted a good drink, I wouldn’t be here.” Legorii’s tone betrayed his contempt, and inebriated as the barkeeper was he noticed.

“Whut kind uh infromayshuns ya be wantin?” in his slurred speech again. Slobber dribbled down his chin, and his eyes rolled around in his skull. This time Legorii leaned across the bar, close to the barkeep. He smelled foul, and it was all he could do to keep from visibly recoiling.

“Where can I get information about…the Dark Jedi?” His voice was a whisper, they were a very mysterious topic. For nearly a year now Legorii had been seeking information about them, and the civilized world he had been sheltered in by his father had given him no answer. So he had come to the Underworld.

The barkeeper stared at Legorii blankly. “Dark Jeedai? I know no Dark Jeedai. You crazuh.” Legorii sighed audibly. As he turned to leave, he felt himself grasped by two strong hands, one on each arm. His head whipped around, and he saw two of the Gran gripping his arms. They breath smelled of stale ale, they were as drunk as the barkeeper. Their senses would be dull, but their pure strength would be enough of a match for Legorii.

The Gran on the left spoke, but strangely his voice was not slurred. “You seek Dark Jedi? Dark Jedi are not here. But we know Dark Jedi. He not like questioners. You die.” Legorii struggled for a second, but knew it was futile. The Gran on the right chuckled.

“Let me speak to him first. I am valuable, he does not want me dead.” The two Gran glanced at each other at this, then shook their heads. It was clear they were stupid, but not easily persuaded to swing one way or another.

“No, you die. No seeing Dark Jedi. You die.” Then they turned, slinging Legorii over their shoulders, and walked out the door of the cantina. Legorii glanced over at the man in the corner. He was gone. As they carried the young man out into the street, Legorii began trying to make an escape plan. It wasn’t long before he was thrown down in a dark alley, lying on a trash bag.

“You die fast, no pain. Billjou here will kill you.” The Gran called Billjou stepped forward and drew a blaster, sticking it to Legorii’s head. He was about to pull the trigger when the young man exploded into action. He slapped down the pistol, and the trigger slipped. The gun was fired straight into the duracrete. Billjou dropped the gun and Legorii quickly scooped it up, shooting the Gran in the leg. His companion lunged with a vibroblade, and Legorii dodged to the left.

Now the others had heard the commotion and come running. Two more Gran, fists swinging. A quick shot from the blaster, down falls the first thug. The other is on the ground, clutching his leg, but he had drawn a vibroknife of his own and was crawling towards Legorii. The young man was backed against the wall, the Gran bearing down on him.

And then, with a grunt, one Gran fell. Sniped. Seizing the opportunity, Legorii moved out of his position and leapt up onto a dumpster, easily downing the confused Gran with a shot to the head. Bending to pick up his vibroknife, Legorii hurled it at the last surviving Gran, the one on the ground. It thudded into his head with a sickening squish.

Legorii turned to look for the sniper. He spotted him immediately. Up on the rooftop of an adjacent building, his rifle in his hands, it was a small cloaked man. He was climbing down a fire escape ladder, a rusted and twisted metal construct long since used to lynch captured gang members. The sniper was agile, springing down the twisted ladder with fleet feet. He landed softly on his feet, and then walked over to Legorii.

At his belt hung a thin cylinder, it was silver, engraved with what looked like strange symbols in some ancient language. He wore a mask, and his hood was covering his hair. However, Legorii could recognize him from just his stance. He was the same man from the cantina, who had been watching Legorii but had mysteriously disappeared.

“Hey uh, thanks for that one there. I guess I owe ya one.” Legorii admitted sheepishly. He hated the feeling that he needed another to do his work for him, that he wasn’t good enough to solve his own problems.

The sniper just nodded gravely, his expression hidden. When he did speak his voice was gravelly, rough. “Yes, you looked like you needed a hand. But I suppose I am the one that owes you an apology. I set that up.” The sniper didn’t seem to care much though, and he certainly didn’t look sorry. Legorii was irritated first, but he had to hold his temper in check.

“You set this up? What do you mean by that?” Legorii’s tone was demanding, and he cursed his tongue. It was bitter edge to his tone that he could not deny. And that sniper looked pretty threatening at that moment…

The sniper hesitated a second before continuing. “You must understand that was a sacrifice on my part. Those were my personal servants, my slaves if you will. I sacrificed them to reach you. I hear you want to learn about the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.”

Legorii turned and looked at him sharply. “You have information about the Dark Jedi Brotherhood?” The young man glanced down at the cylinder at the man’s belt. “I suppose you are one of them.”

The sniper chuckled. “No, I am not Dark Jedi. But I do have contact with them. And they may be interested in you, if I do say so myself. Officially, I am the advance recruiting scout for Clan Arcona. I may be able to put you in contact with an Envoy, but I need some assurances first.” Legorii wondered what assurances he needed, but he did not ask. Instead he slipped a comlink into the mans hand.

“You know where to reach me.”