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Doom of the Fates - Pt. 2

Posted on Sunday September 6th, 2020 @ 1:30am by Jai Damodar

Mission: When a Hutt Laughs
Location: Hutta Town | Nar Shaddaa
Timeline: Before MD 0

The walk of shame away from Grakka's Palace was nothing short of humiliating. Jai had been beaten. He had seen that coming as soon as he realized he'd grabbed the wrong target, and that expectation did not disappoint. But what smarted worse than the beating was the condition Grakka had placed on future existence privileges.

It would not be soon forgotten.

60 minutes prior...

Jai had followed Lanshka, Grakkus' Trandoshan majordomo, and his Gamorrean goons, from the rooftop landing pad down to the bowels of the palace. It wasn't long before a rifle butt to the back of the head had sent him to his knees. Manacles cuffed him at the wrists, perhaps the same he had been given to capture Vuko, the Rodian bounty he went after. Thanks to the mistaken identity, now he was the one to face Grakkus' displeasure.

The blow to the head made the world dizzy. What was already a dim and dank interior felt almost uterine by contrast, like a birth moment in reverse. Whenever he slowed, the Gamorreans would pummel him to hurry up. The abusive cycle went on for what felt like hours. In the back of Jai's mind, his training reminded him it had likely only been a few minutes. Time was relative like that.

In time, his surroundings change from dark corridors to a wider expanse. Dulled sounds and smells meandered their way through his foggy brain. A voice that both gurgled and reverberated called out, but Jai couldn't find any meaning in its utterance. Another guard thumped him in the stomach, which was one too many.

Jai imagined himself finally taking the blaster rifle away from the abusive guard and turning it on him. It was a pleasing distraction from falling to his knees and gasping for air. Somebody yarded him up to his feet by his long braids. Somebody, perhaps the same person, slapped a patch onto his neck. A rush of adrenaline coursed through his veins, bringing sudden clarity to his foggy mind.

The dull throb in his left side also sharpened into a jab of pain.

Lanshka ascended the dais, joining a small host of other attendants near Grakkus' lounge pad. Jai didn't bow. Even with the med patch on his neck, it was all he could do to remain on his feet.

The gargled speech of Huttese washed over Jai like a greasy smog shower. In time, the same protocol droid as before stepped forward and translated.

"His Eminence Grakkus the Great wishes to express his displeasure in your failure--"

Grakkus chortled like an angry sea lion.

"--abject failure," the droid corrected before continuing, "in apprehending Vuko. Not only did you fail to retrieve him, you obstructed one of his couriers from delivering a time-sensitive message. Now he has lost a bid, which in turn meant he lost a desirable purchase. As a result, Grakkus the Great was forced to close a business deal from his personal fortune in order to prevent his kajidic from falling into arrears. In his eminent wisdom, Lord Grakkus the Great has placed a debt marker upon your name."

That wasn't good. Grakkus might think to make him a slave. Such a fate was worse than death, especially for those depending on him...

"Lord Grakkus, I beseech you to allow me to make right on my wrong," Jai said in formal speech as if addressing royalty. As far as Hutta Town went, he may as well be.

Grakkus brayed something undecipherable, then fell into a hacking laugh.

"You shall not be a slave," the protocol droid said, "for Lord Grakkus recognizes your talents would be wasted. Instead, he has granted you a temporary dispensation to repay the debt you have incurred. Be warned that failure to repay will lead to a formal bounty on your own head made payable by this Kajidic."

That meant Jai would not be hunted by Grakkus' people alone. Every bounty hunter and contractor in Hutt space would be looking for him.

"I understand these terms." Jai's voice was grizzled with suppressed anger. His next words nearly made him sick. "And I thank Grakkus for his generosity. Might I have my gear returned to me? It will be difficult to earn credits barehanded."

Grakkus chortled one last time, though it was clear he was not amused.

"Your personal effects were forfeited to Lord Grakkus to ensure payment," the protocol droid explained, "but His Eminence is feeling charitable today and has thus decided to permit you to borrow them with interest against your principal debt."

Great. "Settle with me, droid. How much do I owe and how long do I have?" Jai grunted.

"500 thousand credits must be remitted to Lord Grakkus in person before the celebration of Boonta the Hutt's glorious victory and ascension."

Boonta Eve wasn't long from now, but it was at least a fighting chance. "By your leave, Lord Grakkus, I will take mine." Jai turned away from the dais without awaiting a response.

The howl of Grakkus' bloated braying still rung in Jai's ears as he made his way back to the starport. His ribs still hurt from the beating he took, but he'd suffered worse. By the time he'd reached his small closet of an apartment on the underside of a landing pad, he'd walked off his limp.

"Jai!" called out a familiar young voice from inside the open door.

Jai waited until he closed the door to respond. "Quiet, Tmu." Things were simpler when nobody else knew that he kept a child in his company.

"Sorry..." the boy said. "You were gone longer than you said. I was worried." And likely hungry, if the bare cupboards were any testament.

"Ran into problems," Jai replied. "Pack your gear. We've got to move."

Tmu scowled. "Again? I just got the HoloNet signal down here..."

"Pack your damn gear!" Jai barked, though the harsh tone made him wince from the pain in his rib. "Look, it's not safe here anymore. The local crime boss isn't paying, so we've got to relocate to the moon's central hub for paying work."

That news excited Tmu. "You mean where the swoop races have more than one team!"

"Aye." Jai sat down and pulled off his armor, which sported a fresh crack, so he could wrap his ribs. The effort elicited a pained grunt but nothing more. "But if all goes well, we won't be there long. My plan is to find a crew for a job that pays big."

Tmu was elated at that. "You mean we might leave Nar Shaddaa?!"

Jai shrugged as he wrapped his tender side. "Maybe. I can't earn the credits I need in the small neighborhoods. The big scores might be off world, but they might not. Right now we can't be picky." He quickly finished, then looked at his armor. Usually Tmu would do repairs to earn his keep. "Thought I told you to start packing."

"Yes, sir!" All arguments had passed once Tmu knew they were moving on to bigger and better things.

Jai just hoped fortune smiled on them. Protecting the kid was hard enough without drawing him into danger. Even so, a strange crew would be safer than leaving him here on his own. Grakkus' debt was not the only one in his ledger, and Jai intended to make good.


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