I had to admit that in spite of the build up of excitement that permeated the Palace in general over the Grand ball, I was mainly trying to ignore it. As a rule, working for Lord Vader was something that kept one out of the lime light and away from most social events. He was not the most popular person on the block. The fact that, not only was I required to be there, but that at several points during the evening there was a good chance that most people would actually be looking at me, scared the sandjiggers out of me.
We were now three days away from the Great Event and the closer the day got the more I hid in my office or my apartment. I could not believe I was actually worried about this and was having some serious trouble sleeping. I kept having nightmares about ending up at the grand event half naked and tripping on the stairs. It was not good. Even being in the office was not all that comforting, too many memo-reminders flying around about this, that and the next thing all having to do with this big event. I was getting serious cold feet, but suspected the chance of getting out of it with the excuse of being sick were about the same as going head to head with a Krayt Dragon on a bad day.
Out of all the junk that had come across my desk during the day, the only good thing had been mail from home. I had managed to send off a quick and dirty ‘I am fine’ postcard holo, last week. There was not that much I could really write home about, most of it was fairly confidential and would never make it past the censors anyway. So, I had written a short letter about how nice the journey had been, how busy I was and what I thought of Coruscant. In other words I had lied through my teeth. I remember mentioning who I was working for and that I was enjoying the daily challenges. I had hoped my father would read between the lines and figure it out and if he wrote back he would be equally as careful. His letter was nice, full of news and generalities and one shock.
I can’t tell you how glad I and the crew are to hear that you are settling in and enjoying your new job. I am quite certain that you are up to handling the day to day challenges that come your way and have no doubt that you will be an asset to the Empire. I am immensely proud of you.
I let Rys know that you sent a card, as you had mentioned, so that she can come by her home check the post. I have not seen her in a few weeks as she is now working out at Jabba’s Palace pretty much full time. She dropped some of the things you left at the house off for you. So now everything is being stored here. I think she plans to lease the place and live at the palace until she finds something else, I am sure she will tell you all about it.
Other than that things here do not change much. There have been extra Imperial personnel stationed here because of an incident that happened just after you left. Something to do with a cantina brawl or stolen droids, can’t recall which. I can tell you that Docking Bay 94 has been given the works and everyone who worked there was taken in for questioning. I don’t think Pirin Tek was all that impressed he lost two day’s business. His loss, our gain. It certainly kept us busy, so business is good. I do miss my favourite mechanic though.
Speaking of mechs, your old friend Jyrki Andando, dropped by the other day. Asked how and where you were. He seemed a bit concerned when I told him about your new job. Thinks the Empire will swallow a little Outer Rim girl up I think, he always did worry about you, sort of like a big brother I suppose. It must have been hard for you, an only child. He was just passing through, didn’t say where he was headed next. Looked a bit rough, if you ask me, the boy hasn’t been eating right or sleeping, always did work too hard. I gave him your address if he wanted to write. I told him you were fine and enjoying yourself in the Big C. Must be quite exciting for you to finally get some where with culture and art. I know your mother would have been delighted. Perhaps when you know if you get holiday leave you can come and visit. I know the crew would love to see you again, as would I.
Missing you greatly,
It was a nice letter and I was glad to have news but the bit about Jyrki niggled at me. I had been really surprised that he had come back. Seemed strange to me, I had thought he was well and gone from my life forever. I wondered what had brought him back to Tatooine because I could not really see him as the pop in for tea type. Funny, how people have a way of haunting you.
I was about ready to finish up, in the process of shutting all the comps down when someone knocked on the door. I yelled for them to come in, I am far too lazy to get up and open it myself. Shiv popped his head in the room.
“Hi.” He said.
“You can actually come in, you know.” I said.
“He’s not here is He?
“No, Lord Vader is not here. You are safe.” I grinned.
Shiv came in and the door dutifully shut behind him. “Like to keep out of his way.”
“Apparently you are not alone, what’s up?” I asked getting up and giving him a hug and that kiss kiss thing.
“I am escaping.” He said with a grin. “Feel like coming?”
“Escape? From what? Go where?”
He rolled his eyes, “Girl, you ask too many questions.”
I nodded, “Yup, keeps me alive.”
“Need a break, too much courtesan yap yap yap.” he said making talking motions with his hands. “There is a cool little place in the Industrial sector, new bar that opened up about a month ago, sell good Taa’shi and have the best Corellian cocktails around. Want to come?”
“Sure, sounds good.” I said, I had no idea what Taa'shi was but corellian cocktails are always fun. I gathered my stuff, my satchel and made sure my credchip was there. Was pretty sure this evening would not be charged to the Imperial Account.
“Great, the others are really looking forward to meeting you.” He bounced.
“Wait, what others?”
“Oh, just some of the crew from the events committee, my partners in crime, I guess you could say.”
“I don’t know about that, Shiv, most people don’t want to hang with me.”
He gave me a look. “Nerfpoodoo, it’s you who don’t want to be with others, everyone thinks you are a snob. You don’t speak to anyone and you never join in any of the meet and greets, even though I know you get the memos. It’s just some of the HR girls who gave you a hard time and that’s only because you were new.” He said. “You haven’t really tried to get to know anyone have you? I mean, I was all set to take some catty little bitch who thought she was too good for the rest of us shopping the other day, and I ended up with you. You were not at all what I expected. You need to get out more and trust that not everyone who works here is so terrified of Him that we won’t talk to you. Most of us don’t actually care that much, I mean it’s not like we work with Him you know? Come on… I put in a good word for you so you have to show.”
I just stared at him. “People think I am a snob?”
“Uh huh.” He nodded then relented. “Well not everyone.”
“These would not be the same people, who called me Outer Rim trash and insulted my mother, would it?” I said giving him the hairy eyeball.
“Naaaw, that’s Priss from HR, she has a thing against people from the Rim, don’t know why, and I think she secretly wanted the Vader job, so you got a bad word from her in her group and they kinda like to mob folks they don’t like. My crew ain’t like that, come on, it will be good.”
“People really think I am a snob?” it shocked me and what was more, he was kind of right about how I had avoided everything remotely social but so far I had not really had much reason to want to join in, not because I was a snob but because I didn't feel as though I was good enough.
He shook his head. “Prove them wrong.” He grinned. "Show them what you showed me, that you are fun and funny." then he added. "And smart, not too much fashion sense though."
“Okay, okay, but we have to swing by the apartment first I want to change into something a little more…”
“Core world, less Rim?” he finished for me.
“Something like that.” I nodded.
“Oki doki,” he said and he grabbed my arm and slipped his through it. “lead on Rim-girl.”
It was really hard to get Shiv to shut up but it was also really hard not to like him. He was the most affable person I had ever met. He even helped me pick out a decent outfit to wear and then we were off. To tell the truth I was really nervous about it but also flattered that he had even thought about me. When I asked he had said.
“You looked like you could use a friend.” He shrugged. “I make a pretty good friend.” He said, “Besides, the more the merrier, right?”
“I guess.” I said.
“It will be fun, I promise, no one will die, and no one will call you trashy, trust me!” he said.
"Do I have a choice?" I asked.
And just like that we were off.