BOOK ONE

23.5.05

Choose a path 1

I had thought that it would just be another sweltering hot day in Mos Eisley. Had I known what was going to show up on my door step that day I would have run for the Jundland Wastes. However that was not the case and it was business as usual

Dust it seemed ruled here, next to the Hutts, the thieves, smugglers, pirates, bounty hunters, not to mention the slaves and then the rest of us poor working slobs. Tatooine is hot and dry and almost always windy. The sand people have over 400 names for wind, and only one word for town. It was a wonder that anyone in their right minds would ever choose to come to this planet much less live in a town as desperate and as forsaken as this one. I loved it. I had lived on Tatooine my whole life and, although the sand drove me crazy, I could not imagine living any where else in the Galaxy.

Life on an Outer Rim Planet is pretty basic, survival of the fittest or maybe, the most devious depending on your profession. Here, the Empire was just a passing word on most people’s lips, it was the Hutts who ruled. So when an Imperial Messenger showed up at my house shortly after I had returned from work, I was very surprised.

It was mid afternoon, when both suns are at their hottest. I answered the door to see a very uncomfortable, young Imperial messenger sweating to death on my doorstep, flanked by two Imperial storm Troopers in their gleaming white armour, holding carbine rifles. I stared at the young man, wracking my brains trying to figure out what it was that I had done that would warrant a visit from the Imperials, but nothing serious came to mind. I worked for Hutt Imports-Exports inc. as a part time mechanic, sometimes pilot and office temp, in fact I had just gotten a promotion which I had beaten out Bib Fortuna’s little brother for, much to the annoyance of Bib Fortuna. There was not much love lost between the Twi’lek and myself.

”Yes?” I asked.

The Imperial looked at me as though he had never seen anything such as myself before. I must have looked a fright. I could see by the look in his eyes that who ever he had been expecting to answer the door, I was not it. I mean, I am not overly tall or spectacularly beautiful, I have long, dark red hair that was tied back with a bit of routing wire, I had been working on ship’s engine so I was wearing my mechanic's clothes, and I was covered in grease and sand dust. Knowing me, I probably had oil on my nose. Jyrki, one of my father’s mechanics had always said I was a born grease-monkey. I was never quite sure what that meant exactly, Jyrki wasn’t from Tatooine so he had some funny sayings that often made no sense to me, but he had been really good looking and I had always forgiven him for his silly sayings.

The Imperial recovered from his surprise nicely though, and asked in a very imperious tone if I was Miss Merlyn Ty' Erijann Gabriel. I told him I was, and began to worry even more when he whipped out a data pad and gave it to me.

"I have been sent from the Imperial Palace to deliver this to you personally."

So, silly me, I took the stupid thing, even asked if I owed him anything for the delivery, here, nothing is for free not even mail or message delivery. He just gave me a puzzled look, shook his head and then, with a smart nod, he did a beautiful military style turn about and he and his storm troopers left. They looked really happy to go too. I guess most folks who get an Imperial summons don't offer money by way of thanks.

I took the data pad indoors and wandered into our excuse for a kitchen, my room-mate Rys was there, she handed me a cup of Jawa juice. I showed her the data pad and told her what had happened and she went as white as a skeleton. I pressed my thumb on the encryption lock and unlocked the message.

"Looks like I have been offered a job." I told her with some surprise, I had been expecting something bad.I handed her the data pad.

"I didn't know you planned on leaving Hutts Import and export Inc." she said. Rys was a singer and dancer who worked for Jabba the Hutt, sometimes she was at the palace and sometimes she worked at one of his clubs in town, today was her day off.

"Me either." I said.

"I can't read this." she said, handing it back. The screen had gone blank the moment she had touched the data pad. I guess the Imperials took encryption seriously. So I read it for her.

TO: Miss Merlyn Ty’ Erijann Gabriel
FROM: Imperial Employment Department

Miss Gabriel, after long consideration and careful screening we have chosen you from the many fine applications for the position of Personal Assistant to one of our high ranking officers. You will begin this appointment immediately as his Lordship requires a new P.A. ASAP. An Imperial shuttle will await you at docking bay 51, Mos Eisley Space Station at 0900CST, fourth day of the tenth month, this year. Your promptness in this matter will be appreciated. We look forward to your arrival, and welcome you to the Imperial family. We trust that your journey will be a pleasant and uneventful one.

Yours Truly,

Erysie Candala
Chief Imperial Employment Officer.

"When did you apply for an Imperial job?" Rys asked me.

"I didn't." I said. "I guess I will just have to write and say it was all a mix up."

Rys shook her head at me. "You don't tell the Empire no."

"But I don't want this job, I didn’t apply for any job at all, hell I don’t even know how they know my name!" I said. "How do I tell them that?"

"No one refuses a summons from the Empire. It's the Empire, Merly, they sent an Imperial messenger all the way to this forsaken planet just to hire you. They know you live here, they know who you are. Chances are they know everything they could learn about you, and quite probably more than you even know about you." She sighed. "Looks like you have a new job."

And just like that my life had changed. This was not what I had planned. Who the Sarlacc is this 'high ranking official’ anyway?

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