The Nikto was the skinniest thing I had seen in a long time. If you saw him in the dark you might have though he was a woman if he didn’t look anorexic.
“So you’re the big fish I have been hearing about,” I said as I took a seat.
“I am, I’m a very big fish,” He sounded rather confident in that statement and I wasn’t sure if it was his cockiness or his delusions of grandeur. Either way I was sure that he wasn’t the big fish he might have thought he was, he was just the only fish in the pound and he didn’t want to think about it way. “So what brings you to Vrek Pallea?”
“Business. I here you’ve got your hands in what little bit of anything there is here.”
“I own a few business yes, a club here a hotel there... So what kind of business brings you to my part of the undercity.”
“I’m looking into the death of an associate of mine. He was in a certain cantina a few day ago.”
“I see; you want information on who did it?”
“If you have it. If not, I will have to go look somewhere else.”
“You think someone else has the information if I don’t?” He sounded cocky, I would have to fix that.
“There are a lot of people in this block, if you know than you heard it from someone and that means they know, I can find them if I have to.” His bravado smile faded. Small time thugs were always like that. They acted like they ran the planet until you pointed out they didn’t and at least made them think you didn’t really need them.
“You’re a sharp one. I might know, my memory might need little bit of a jogging though, let me think.”
“If you want your memory to be ‘jogged’ I’m not doing until we deiced how much jogging it needs.” He sneered at me but didn’t throw me out.
“Why shouldn’t I just throw you our right now,” he growled.
“Because you have the opportunity to make some money and you would just hate to pass it up I’m betting.”
“It better be a lot of money.”
“A credit saved is a credit earned. Sooner or later the beaters are going to be coming down here and they will tear this place and you apart to find out. If they get it from me than they won’t even look that far.”
“You’re a cop Vrek Pallea.” I didn’t appreciate his insult but the fact that he was insulting me meant he was getting to where I wanted him to be.
“You have quite a way with words, the kind of way that might just attract the attention of the real police.” I started to stand up and he reached out as if to stop me.
“Wait! I think I am starting to remember, let’s talk prices.” I managed to get it off him for only 700 creds plus an extra thousand to keep that information, and the fact that he had told me, exclusive. I doubted he would actually do the first part but he seemed smart enough to keep to the second. Then information he provided did prove interesting, although I am sure he thought that it wasn’t. He gave me the almost the same story the late witness had, plus the name of a witness who had been outside, a witness that just happened to work at one of his establishments. When I arrived on scene though I discovered more flashing lights and holotape that said “DO NOT CROSS” in basic and a few other languages. I was having a really rotten string of murders with this case. So far my only two witnesses had been killed right before I could get anything useful out of them, and in as many days. It seemed rather odd to me but I had no proof it was foul play, yet. I was about to step forward when I felt my foot kick something. I looked down and saw a data card skid across the permacreet. I picked it up before anyone noticed and stuck it in my pocket as I continuing on my way. I was trying to find somewhere to eat again. I hadn’t had anything in a while and all this walking was starting hollow my stomach. If I wasn’t going to be sleeping especially, I needed food. I had, however, learned to always be careful about what you consumed from the restaurants and food stalls in the Undercity. He odds are that it probably won’t make you sick, as long as your stomach was strong and you knew what warning signs to look for. Even then you were effectively rolling the dice on whether you actually eating the meet that the vendor claimed was in the dish and not just some mutant they shot in a back alley and cut into stakes or minced into hamburger or any other way of presenting flesh. Ambiguities about what I ate aside, I enjoyed my meal, or at least the moment of piece if gave me so I could try to look over that data card. If it ever had information, it didn’t anymore, or whatever it did was behind some kind of special security because the card seemed to have eight of eight gigabits of date free. I would have to send it back to the office and let them take a look at it.
I was just leaving when I felt something latch onto my arm and I looked down to see a red skinned Devaronian girl hanging off me. She was pretty and in her mid-twenties, with her hair long but shaved on one side of her head. She was probably a prostitute or a pick pocket.
“Hey I haven’t seen you in a while.” I hadn’t remembered seeing her ever but played along.
“Yea, what’s it been a few months?”
“You guessed it.” She flashed me a smile that seemed almost sincere. “I work in the club in Vrekpolise, I saw you when you came in last and need to talk to you.” She whispered to me. I smiled back and continued to walk with her.
“I have a rented room and a bottle of whiskey, why don’t we go catch up?” She followed me back to the Fortune and up to my room. I locked the door and scanned it over quickly to make sure there was no signs of tampering.
“Going to give me that drink?” I poured her drink in the rooms single glass and set the bottle down.
“So what’s your name?”
“It’s rude to ask without giving first, but It’s Vosla Estan.”
“And what is it you would like to talk about with me Ms. Vosla Estan?”
“Can I see your Mid Rim ID first?” I produced My Mid Rim Detective Agency Card and she looked at it closely for a few long moments. She handed it back and sat down on the bed, putting on knee over the other. “So you’re a Mid Rim detective here on business, what business?” This girl obviously wasn’t a stripper or a hooker, she was a professional from my line of work. Whether that meant he was hired to pump me for information or was undercover for a legitimate agency though was up in the air. I leaned against the wall and crossed my arms while I fixed my eyes on hers.
“You seem to be asking more questions than your answering.”
“yes I am, very observant of you detective.” She was snippy too.
“I am here investigating the death of a client. Now what is your business down here and working at the Naughty Nikto?” Although I didn’t know how far I could trust her yet I knew that much was true from what I could see of the outfit under her coat. All the waitresses wore the same thing at the Nikto, which was more than the dancers ever had on except when they first came out.
“Like you I’m investigating something.”
“I uphold law and order if that’s what you mean.” He raised an eyebrow.
“You’re with the Jedi?” She seemed surprised.
“How did you figure that one out?”
“Who else upholds law and order on Coruscant? Certainly not the Hutts or the senate. You’re not with the CSF and you’re not a detective, not that I’ve ever met a PI that described themselves that way.”
“You’re good. Yes, I am with the Order. I’ve been undercover for a few weeks now trying to get info out of Shark but it’s not as easy as you would think.”
“Couldn’t you just use one of our mind tricks or something you Jedi are so famous for?”
“His will is stronger than you would think. It’s very difficult to get information out of someone with a strong will using the Force and almost impossible to do it covertly, you have somehow managed to get something out of him. How did you do it?”
“Persuasion of a few kinds.”
“You payed him off?”
“That was part of it.”
“What was the rest of it?”
“Something you would have a hard time doing.” She glared at me for a second and then shrugged.
“Alright. So what did you find out exactly?”
“Not a thing. My lead was killed before I could get to her.”
“That seems to be happening to everyone you talk to.” I shrugged.
“It happens. The only official witness was attacked on the street.”
“Then this girl drops. Sounds to me your making somebody nervous.”
“It’s possible, so what is it exactly you want to talk to me about?”
“I was thinking we could help each other. I don’t think our investigations are related but you seem more comfortable moving around here and getting information out of people than I am, in return I will assist you as much as you assist me.” I felt in my pocket for the data card.
“I don’t suppose you know how to hack?” I held up the card. She plucked it from my fingers and turned it over in hers.
“No, but I might be able to do something just as good.” She closed her eyes and seemed to be concentrating on the card.
“What are you doing?”
“Shut up, let me concentrate.” I stayed quiet and let her do whatever she was doing. She seemed to concentrate hard on it, she even looked like she was in pain a few times until finally they tight grip her thumbs and forefingers had on the card slacked and she opened her eyes. She handed me back the card. “the dancer had intended to put a confession on the card as insurance just in case anyone found out what she had seen.” I had never heard of a Jedi being able to reed someone’s mind by just handling their property, especially if they were dead, but I wasn’t a Jedi either and information was information.
“Do you know what she did see?”
“A face. She didn’t know who he was but she knew he was a cop because she had screen him in the club where she danced.”
“A cop?” That was an interesting piece of information. It wouldn’t have been the first time that police in the undercity decided to rent out their services or even their badges as enforcers or hired guns. It was likely that all of the gunmen had been cops, it seemed odd that they would kill one, maybe two more people to cover that up. There weren’t a lot of champions of justice amongest the undercity populace and there are a lot easier ways to buy silence, or even a frame job.
“Yea, you owe me one now you know.” Vosla said, he left a slip of paper on the bed and started to walk toward the door. “That’s my number, keep in touch.” She had never actually asked for my number, but I’m sure there was some kind of Jedi trick she had pulled to find it out. At the moment though I had my own things to figure out, like who did it. The cops had been the shooters was helpful but an unrecorded confession form a now dead witness wouldn’t hold up as a holodrama let alone evidence. I wasn’t even sure what the officer she had seen looked like, but Vosla might. I called her and a few minutes later she was back at hotel room door. “Something you wanted?”
“The cop you said the girl saw, do you know what he looks like?”
“Yes but we can’t exactly put them all in a line up.”
“I can get names and faces if you agree to ID the guy.”
“Alright then, but that will be two you owe me and don’t forget it okay?”
“okay.” As soon as she left I went out myself, and to the local police station I told them I wanted to take a look at the evidence they had collected. They were reluctant at first but when I told them I only wanted to see things like the coroner’s report, officer’s reports, and images of the victims and crime scene they relaxed and allowed me access to a terminal. Of course I wasn’t just after those things. I was no hacker but I knew my way around CSF computer systems and it wasn’t hard for me to get the station’s personnel roster and download it while no one was looking. I looked at what I said I was after as well. Just encase I was asked about it but also to see If any of it might yield something useful. The coroner’s report was what you expect, everyone had died from the result of a high speed bolt of superheated plasma partially or completely penetrating their body and disintegrating everything along the way, the officers reports also offered up little information, which might mean something or not if the police had actually been involved. I looked over the images of the crime scene closely. They revealed nothing that I hadn’t noticed already other than the pattern of the blast bolts. They seemed to spray across the room before focusing on a booth near the farthest corner on the wall to the let of the door and across from the bar. It looked like he had been sitting against the wall when he was shot. Three shots ripping through him after going through the duraplast booth. I shut down the terminal and I left without incident. I hadn’t been expecting to blast my way out, you would have to be a true idiot to think you could do that. Or have a lot of fire power helping you by blasting in first. If they detected my intrusion after I left than I didn’t hear anything of it.
By the time I got back to the Fortune Vosla had already left but she had also left a note telling me where and when to meet her tomorrow night. I figured I would get to stop and breath for a moment when I head a knock on my door. I had one hand ready to draw my blaster when I approached the door. I looked through the peek hole and saw that it was not someone coming to gun me down, at least I hoped not. Card Vreemer, another detective from Mid Rim.
“Don’t ask me in, I only came all the way from the skyline.” Said Card. I stood aside and let him in. Card and I knew each other pretty well and had worked together before. I wouldn’t call us friends.
“Did the boss send you?”
“Yea, after your last report was late he decided it would be better just to send someone else down here to watch you. So what’s the deal, what else have you learned?” I told him about everything that had happened and everything I had learned since my last report. Though I decided to leave out my business with the Jedi for the moment. “All right, so where do we go from here?”
“I want you to tale a guy, if you think you’re up to it. A Nikto who calls himself the Shark. Owns a couple of small business here in Vrek Palea, does some of his work out of an office in a club called the Naughty Nikto. It’s in that town out on the lake you probably saw coming in. That place is dang confusing so be careful, that industrial sludge won’t be much good for swimming in either so no matter what don’t get yourself thrown in okay. You’ll want to pick up a respirator too. When you’re onto of that lake the fumes are toxic.”
“I got it. Anything else?”
“Not at the moment. I’ve got a few other people would like to tail but I would need more ops and more access for that.”
“Local police chief, a few of his officers, coupe of small business owners, a few dancers from some of the club...”
“Geeze, why not just hire everyone in the block to trail themselves and save the agency the hassle.” I smiled though I didn’t find it funny.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, report to me if anything interesting comes up.”
“Yea yea.” He finally left me alone and I was going to get some shut eye. The higher powers of the galaxy had other plans though, as the couple in the room next to me fought so loudly through half the night. By that by the time the police arrived, smacked them around and drug them off, all chances I had of sleeping were gone, and I just had to sit there with my eyes closed and pretend I was. I might have dozed off for a few minute in the end but eventually I gave up, used the vibro shower for what it was intended, then went out in search of a diner where I could get some recaf, or something of that sort to wake me up anyway. I didn’t notice it at first probably because I was so tired, but I recognized one of the men in the diner.