A Dead End

Brin’tac lost all sense of time as his heart pounded in his ears and his fur ruffled in the strong winds of Ryloth. As he reached the bottom of the ramp, the Twi’lek turned to face him.

“So you must be that annoying Bothan who’s looking for me.”

Before he could say another word, Brin’tac gave a feral growl and punched the Twi’lek hard in the jaw. Nad recovered quickly and returned the attack by kicking Brin’tac in the stomach.

Brin’tac, enraged, slammed his body into Nad’s, knocking them both off the ramp. As they fell, one of Nad’s lekku became caught between the ramp and the ship, jerking his head backward. Pain shot through his head and gave Brin’tac the time he needed to land another punch in Nad’s stomach. The Twi’lek’s headtail became dislodged as he doubled-over in pain. Brin’tac’s kick sent Nad to the ground.

As he pinned Nad to the ground, Brin’tac pulled out his blaster and aimed it at the Twi’lek’s face.

“Where is my family, you Hutt-slime? Who kidnapped them?”

“I don’t know anything about a Bothan family,” Nad gasped in pain. “Whoever told you I had anything to do with a kidnapping was seriously mistaken.”

Brin’tac shot the tip of Nad’s lekku with his blaster. “Wrong answer.” The smuggler gave out a scream of agony.

“I’m telling you, I don’t know!”

The enraged Bothan pulled Nad off of the ground and slammed him into the bulkhead of the starship.

“Let me tell you something, Nad. I have studied the Twi’lek culture in depth. I know your language, your customs, and your anatomy. I know that besides the tips of your repulsive lekku, there are twelve other pressure points on the Twi’lek body that cause extreme pain when pressed correctly. Do I need to demonstrate my knowledge?”

The Twi’lek moaned in reply. As Brin’tac began to squeeze the base of Nad’s lekku, Nyarchagga grabbed his arm. “Brin’tac, what are you doing?”

Brin’tac responded by shoving Nyarchagga away. “This scum’s going to talk, or he’s going to meet his maker!”

Gasping for breath, Nad wheezed, “I honestly…. don’t….know.”

“Then maybe more pain will refresh your memory.” Brin’tac sneered as he once again squeezed Nad’s lekku.

“Brin’tac, he honestly doesn’t know,” came a calm, quiet voice.

“What?” Brin’tac said as he turned to face Jin Tai Lo. “No. I think he does.”

“Brin’tac,” Master Lo began quietly, “I sense no deception from him. I know you believe that the Jedi code is only for Jedi, but the truth is that all living things have a presence in the Force. Some are bright and good; others are dark and evil. I wish I could open your eyes to see your own presence. Usually you shine fairly brightly, but right now, you are almost completely black. In fact, you are darker now than Nad is himself.”

Brin’tac’s grip on Nad began to slacken as Jin Tai Lo continued. “What would you gain by getting your revenge and finding your family, only to lose them again because you allowed your hatred to change you?

“I once knew a man who was betrayed by his friend and sent to the spice mines of Kessel. For years he plotted his escape and revenge, until one day he achieved both. When he returned to his family, they didn’t recognize him and couldn’t live with him because all those years of anger had made him abusive. He eventually killed himself. Which path will you choose, Brin’tac Kyen’tir? If you honor your wife and children and everything they stand for, release your anger.”

With a cry of despair, Brin’tac released Nad and slumped to the ground.

“Oh Vaqshi. Vaqshi, my love. I miss you so much.”

For a moment, no one moved. Then Brin’tac looked over at Nad. “If you don’t know what happened to my wife, then why was your ship on Kothlis the night she was kidnapped?”

Nad struggled to sit up. “If I was on Kothlis, it was because I deliver spice to a Bothan bureaucrat there. He’s the only person I know on Kothlis.”

A cold lump settled in Brin’tac’s stomach. “Do you know his name?”

“He didn’t tell, and we don’t ask. We deliver the goods to his servants, get paid, and leave.”

Satchel spoke up, “How did Scal know we were looking for Brin’tac’s wife if you aren’t involved in her kidnapping?”

Nad looked up at Satchel. “We received an anonymous message a few days ago saying that a Bothan and three others would be landing soon and they wanted to kill me for doing something to his wife. Scal told me he would take care of it, so he assigned me to this shipment to get me off-world.”

“Forn Ral’din.”

“Who?” Satchel asked.

“Forn Ral’din is a … ‘peer’ of mine,” Brin’tac said. “He also works for Senator Prin Ay’laya of Bothwai. He set us up. He gives us a lead by sending us an anonymous message implicating Nad, hoping that Nad would kill me, thereby allowing him to take my position as aide to Senator Ay’laya. I wonder if that bantha dung also kidnapped my wife, or did he just take advantage of the situation?”

Suddenly, Nyarchagga, who had taken up a sentry position by the door, gave a low growl. “The port authorities are coming. We had better move.

During the momentary distraction, Nad jumped to his feet and scrambled into the ship, sealing the hatch behind him.

Master Lo shouted, “Quickly! Take cover. He’s going to fire up the repulsors!”

The four companions watched from behind crates as the smuggling ship lifted off.

As they watched, they noticed that the cargo bay doors had not been sealed completely since the ship had not been fully loaded with all of it’s cargo. As the ship turned towards it’s heading, several boxes of spice fell to the bay floor, causing the ship to become unbalanced.

The high winds on Ryloth make landing and taking of treacherous under normal conditions. With the haste of his escape and the unbalance of his ship, Nad soon lost control. Kindor’s Fortune careened to the right and smashed into the surrounding mountain, exploding in a blinding ball of fire.

“That should keep the port authorities busy for awhile,” Nyarchagga said with a grin. “We’d better leave before they get here.”

They all nodded agreement as they headed for the back door.

The End

0 comments about this story Feed