Disclaimer: This story is bound to have adult themes at some point, and it will contain plenty of violence. You've been warned.
Spoiler: Author's NoteShow
The smuggler’s moon was alight with life. It was the cloying sort of living which was too close together, to compact for cleanliness, and the wash of neon collided off of glass-paned buildings in a way that only amplified the garrishness of it all. Naked men and women were depicted in those lights: dancing, reveling, fornicating. There was an abundance of Twi’leks, of course, which only made the display that much less appealing to the tired eyes watching it all from above.
The balcony he sat on wasn’t his, but he had sterilized it all the same, as he had the laboratory and clinic behind him. The wide metal doors had closed the instant he’d moved his hoverchair outside - he didn’t want the smells getting in. The smell of refuse that hadn’t been properly disposed of, the hints of spice, coarse on the throat. Beyond that door, tiny tinkering droids constantly ensured that each surface was pristine and clean, even moreso with each patient that graced his tables. It was a refuge, a place of solace in the midst of chaos.
The doctor looked down with a simmering disapproval. His eyes were dark and sharp; the sort which rarely softened. He himself was pristine, just as he kept his little environment. His coat was white, bleached to perfection, as were the gloves on his hands. He kept his head clean-shaven, so it would have perhaps been difficult to tell his age were it not for the lines just beginning to form over his face. He had forty years on him, at least. Perhaps more. Either way, it seemed time had not allowed those features much reprieve.
His long fingers curled over the controls on the arms of his hoverchair. He pressed nothing for the moment, but he leaned forward as he watched the arena far below him fill with people. There was to be a spectacle this evening, a rarity. He hadn’t bothered to look up what it was. He was certain his employer had blathered it at him at some point or other after dumping a half-dead fighter in his lap, but he hadn’t cared. He never did. In truth, he found the entire practice pointless. Not barbaric, as some might. He had no moral qualms over the dying of slaves, over the dying of anyone, really. It was just a waste of energy, a waste of manpower which could be better used put to other labors.
A device glowed to life on his chair, telling him that someone was attempting a holocall. He ignored it.
There would be a warm-up fight. Something to get the blood going. Tonight it was evidently watching a pack of vrblther claw its way through unlucky greenbloods. It was drawn out and grueling, and the doctor found his attention wavering away from it in disinterest before long.
The holodevice continued to glow demandingly. He traced his fingers over it absently, but continued to ignore it.
The din from the crowd was growing louder. They cheered the slaughter on, and there was something so animal and simplistic about it that it was worthy of his scorn as well. His features had settled into a scowl, lines etched deeper in that haggard face, making the dark circles beneath his eyes more pronounced. There was not a mind worth noting amidst any of them, a mind worth taking into account, and so the entire arena full of spectators and fighters alike would pass into oblivion never having contributed much of anything worthwhile.
A translucent screen abruptly bloomed forth from the railing of his balcony, flashing first one of the vrblther gnawing on a man’s severed leg, and then a face. A Rattataki grinned at him, his teeth filed to points, his ears pierced with enough metal to make the lobes droop.
“Narvis, Narvis. You wound me when you do this, you really do.”
“I’ve no time for your prattle, Zotum. Leave me in some modicum of peace.”
“Yes, yes. I can see you’re very busy,” Zotum replied snidely. He made a show of peering over Narvis’s shoulder, though he couldn’t see anything much through the holocommunication, nothing but shadows and the reflection of his own face bouncing back off the metal doors. “Turn the girls away, did you? I figured you’d like those ones. They were pretty, like little green dolls.”
“I have no use for these women. Stop inflicting them upon me.”
Zotum pouted at the man. “Oh, Narvis. Keep this up, and your little pecker will shrivel up and die.”
“Better than having it rot off from disease. I’m not treating yours for anything, to that end.”
Throwing back his head, the Rattataki barked laughter. Behind the superimposed image of his face, Narvis could see that the corpses from the slaughter were being cleared away in preparation for the main event. It was nothing that interested him specifically; it was but a detail ferreted away to the back of his mind.
Still, Zotum noticed it, and his infernal grin widened. “Come now, my friend…”
“We are not friends. You employ me. That is the extent of our association.”
“Oh, play nice. I have a special treat for you this evening.”
“That I highly doubt.”
The man’s grin was unwavering. It was infuriating. “I know what all you Imperials really crave, you know. Deep down in your bitter little hearts. I know what you long for.”
Narvis said nothing. He smashed the button on the arm of his chair, but Zotum’s image didn’t disappear. He’d apparently worked around his workaround. Again.
Leaning forward dramatically, the Rattataki murmured, “You want to see your mighty fall. You want to see one of those oh-so-powerful Sith get beaten - maybe to death, though I just bought this one and she came at a high price, so I make no promises.”
The doctor snapped his head back in disgust. “If what you have is a true Sith, you’re even more of a fool than what I took you for.”
The man guffawed again, and from the colorful robes he wore he drew forth a small device, its end glimmering with a red light, blinking as though it were counting down to something. “Oh, we’ve got a collar on her. She can’t do anything we don’t let her - though I’ll probably turn it off a few times, just so things get interesting.”
“If you do that, you’re most certainly a fool.”
Wriggling the device back and forth, turning the small metal capsule between his fingertips, he murmured suggestively, “Assuming she doesn’t die, maybe I could send her to your room afterwards. How would you like that? Or maybe up to your little laboratory. You’ve been cooped up in there for far too long.”
“A thousand no’s. A thousand and again, no. Now leave me.”
Zotum let out a longsuffering sigh, the device disappearing back up his sleeve. Then he winked, and whispered: “Play coy. I just know I’ve got your attention now.”
His image disappeared, blinked out of existence, but the great glowing screen before Narvis was still showing the arena in perfect detail.
Where there had been nothing but animals and bloodshed before, there were now two figures on opposite sides, facing one another.
The first was a Zabrak, presumably the current champion. He was a large man, dressed in a manner of savagery, the flesh of one of his cheeks missing so that he looked to be constantly baring his teeth. In his hand he held a cudgel, a crude article of metal and crooked bolts meant to bludgeon skulls.
Across from him was a woman. She was a small Chiss, diminutive even, and they’d dressed her in tight-fitting attire in some effort to give her an allure. From a distance it might have worked, but on the screen he could see the woman’s face, the way she held her chin: upright, her shoulders back, her red eyes leveled forward and the hint of a sneer tugging at her lip. These things stood in defiance of whatever sexuality they were attempting to bestow upon her. She had a scar blossoming over the side of her face, a memory of an old wound.
Narvis gaped. The expression was alien on his face, making him look somehow not himself. He stumbled out of his chair and towards the screen, grabbing at his silver-topped cane. He limped forward and touched the face on that screen, not in reverence or anything so absurd but in shock, pure and simple.
He knew this woman.
He could see that the collar around her neck had been deactivated - he saw it the moment that the red light blinked out - and he snapped his head back, held his breath.
The Zabrak went flying. He’d been screaming something - a challenge, no doubt - but it was truncated with violence. What Narvis did hear was the crack of him as he slammed into the arena’s wall. He fell quite lifelessly, the back of his head exploding open. The dead fighter had a look of eternal shock on his face as the camera panned in to immortalize that view.
And then, abruptly, it zoomed back out again. The Sith was moving quickly, more quickly than it had been anticipated. She killed with a calculating precision, though Narvis could not quite tell what it was she was doing to complete her murders. In the blink of an eye, three of the handlers which had come out with her were dead, and she was striding towards a fourth - this one was more decorated than the others, and he immediately saw her line of logic: she knew she had a limited amount of time. She knew that she had to move quickly, or this window would close forever.
A mind, amidst the muck of it all.
She was upon him, her arm wrapping around his throat, one of the guns of the dead men ripping through the air as if pulled by invisible chords and slamming into her palm. She pressed the barrel against the man’s head, and at that moment the collar activated again, the red light coming on like the cheeky wink of an eye.
Yet she stood there, in the middle of the arena, holding onto her hostage.
For the first time, Narvis became aware of the cheering of the crowd below. Such a spectacle was unheard of, most certainly unexpected. Never before had Zotum provided them with such a display of skill - his ilk usually employed staff which could most accurately be referred to as meat, and how he’d managed to come by this woman was anyone’s guess. She was above him. She was beyond him. Something about it all struck the doctor as being inherently wrong.
She was making demands. He couldn’t hear her, but he could see her lips moving. The expression on her face demanded obedience. Her posture demanded it. Yet he could tell, somehow, that she knew this wasn’t going to work.
It made him wonder why she’d tried.
With the callousness that comes from running in crime syndicates backed by a Hutt, Zotum stepped forth from the shadows of the arena. He shot his own man point-blank through the head, splattering the Chiss with blood and brainmatter. She only blinked at it - she did not blanch, nor back away. Instead she raised her hand and began to fire on the man immediately, eyes blazing hatred - and her aim, perhaps an unpredicted skill, was quite accurate.
The Rattataki spun to the side, a spurt of red exploding from his shoulder. The crowd was cheering so loudly now that it was deafening, and Narvis thought perhaps Zotum had planned all of this, had been banking on it going wrong and known that it would feed the frenzy. In the next moment, he could see Zotum’s hand shift, his fingers give a twitch, no doubt touching that little device that he’d flaunted before.
The Chiss arced up on her feet, dropping the gun. The jolt of electricity that went through her was a violent one, locking her muscles, locking her on her toes, forcing her teeth to clench so tightly together he could imagine them cracking.
Then she fell to the ground, unconscious, surely. She was a mine for credits. Zotum would never kill her so quickly.
Staggering back to his chair, tearing his eyes from the screen, Narvis began to smash his fingers against the button on his armrest, insistently, violently, so hard that any lesser device would have broken. Minutes passed by, then more, and more. He could tell by the rise and fall of cheers that the Rattataki was giving a speech, but he couldn’t hear it and he didn’t bother to tamper with the audio so that he could.
A quarter of an hour went by. He never stopped pressing.
Finally, a voice blipped to life, sounding smug and self-satisfied.
“Narvis! I do hope that you enjoyed-”
“I changed my mind,” he snapped.
Zotum fell silent, perhaps in surprise, and then an irritating arrogance slithered into his voice. “Is that so?”
“Yes, I’ve changed my mind.” Narvis’s fist, the one he wasn’t using to hold the communication open, curled tighter and tighter in mounting fury. “Bring her to me.”
He shut down the frequency before there could be a reply and moved away, stumbling back into his clinic as his chair hovered close behind him.