Bestine was a small city that wanted to be important and failed miserably. It had started out as a small farming community and had worked its way up to the official capitol city, mostly be default. It was the least offensive city with the least amount of crime and it was sort of located in the middle of things. After the formation of the Empire a small garrison had been stationed there and eventually grew into the local seat of Imperial power. The offices were located near the starport and the city hall.
I had my papers and orders in hand when I walked into the building. While I wasn’t expecting trouble I was also reasonably sure I was not a welcome addition to the local status quo. I talked briefly to the desk officer who quickly ushered me into the office of the person in charge.
Tour Aryon was a striking woman. She was tall, elegant with beautiful dark skin and brown eyes. She regarded me with the same contempt usually reserved for jawas. Standing off to the side of her desk was a seedy looking young man with greasy black hair.
“Miss Gabriel, I trust your journey to Tatooine was pleasant?” she said not getting up to greet me and not shaking my hand. I ignored her rudeness. I had it on good authority that she and Lord Vader did not see eye to eye. I had not expected a warm welcome.
“Yes, thank you Governor Aryon.” I handed her the data pad with the official requests and orders from Lord Vader. She took it gingerly as though touching it would give her a disease. I stood quietly, hands clasped behind my back waiting for her to read the instructions. I did not mind waiting, it allowed me time to let my force talents drift and get a sense of the undercurrents.
“Well, this all seems straight forward enough. You will be given office space and the required links. If you require further assistance you will find Mr. Taine most helpful. She indicated to the man at her side. I have assigned him to you as an aide. No doubt you will discover we do things a little differently out here on the Rim as opposed to the Imperial Palace.”
“Thank you.” I said politely.
“Are you at all familiar with Tatooine?” she asked. “You might want to acclimatise to the heat before you get to work.”
I smiled. Either she was testing me or she had no idea who I was at all and had not read my personal file. “I am from this planet, thank you. I am familiar with its climate. It should be in my personal file.”
She gave me a hard look. “Your file is restricted.” She told me. “I appreciate your honest answer. Your familiarity with this world saves us a lot of headaches. Many people come here only to discover it is too hot. Tatooine is not for the weak. May I inquire where you are from exactly?”
“Mos Eisley.” I said.
Her lip curled. “Ah, I see. Well, we won’t hold that against you. You have living accommodations?”
“Yes, thank you.”
There was a heartbeat’s space as she waited to hear if I would tell her exactly where I was living and when I did not volunteer any further information she gave me a fake smile and said. “Now, I am sure you are anxious to settle in your office.”
“Yes,” I nodded. “Thank you for your time.”
She waved her hand and Mr. Taine who moved and gestured for me to follow. “I trust you will find everything in order and let Lord Vader know we have done our best to accommodate you.”
I smiled. “You have been most kind, I will be sure to tell him.” I would have to watch my back with her, she was dangerous.
Mr. Taine did not speak a word and I followed him through the building to a small office on the upper floor under the roof on the south west side. This was probably the worst office in the entire building as it got the most heat and the most sunlight. The most desirable offices were always sub ground where it was cool. I knew it was perfect; people would leave me alone here when I was actually here. The window looked out over the backside of the city and in the distance I could see the hills that sheltered Bestine from the desert. I looked about the small room. There wasn’t much to speak of, a desk a chair, a holonet terminal, an older computer system and a bookshelf that was mostly empty.
“I apologise that this is all we could provide you with on such short notice, Miss Gabriel.” Mr. Taine said in a voice that said the exact opposite.
“Not at all, I shall be quite happy here. I assume the holo link is secure and private?” I said.
He nodded. “As per Lord Vader’s request.” He was lying. I smiled.
“Then I believe I have everything I need.” I said. I would not be using this office for anything important. Lord Vader had provided me with a small portable, secure holo transmitter and that was on board my ship. I had decided that my droid could work out of the office on Coruscant and we would keep in touch as necessary. Having office space in Bestine was strictly for appearances only. I was a civilian with no rank and in a position no one really knew quite how to deal with, working for the Emperor’s Iron Fist. I was a bit of an anomaly and I rather liked it.
“Well, then I shall let you get settled. Do enjoy your stay.” Mr. Taine said as he handed me the key card to the office. I gave him my best smile and waited until he was gone. I gave it a few minutes before activating the holo transmitter and contacted Lord Vader. I knew this call would be monitored
“You have arrived, I see.” He said testily.
“Yes, my lord. The journey was uneventful.”
“You have been provided with what was requested?” he asked.
I nodded. “I have, my lord and everything is exactly as expected.”
“Good. You know your job, report when you have something to discuss, other wise do not waste my time.” He said with his usual cheer. “Do not disappoint me, Miss Gabriel.” He added and severed the connection.
I stood and stared out of the window for about half an hour and then I left, locking the door behind me. I didn’t spend any time in Bestine, there wasn’t much to see. The shuttle back to Mos Eisley was full and busy. I was more than grateful to step out of it and get back home. Being in the office in Bestine had made me feel dirty. I had not sensed that many lies and that much deception since the last palace party.
My father was in the kitchen having lunch when I got home. I joined him and told him about my morning. He had only laughed.
“That place has gone to hell in a sandcrawler.” He said. I helped myself to lunch and sat at the table with him. “I have some information for you about that name you were looking for. Seems there was an Anakin Skywalker from Mos Espa, a slave. He won the Boonta Eve Classic, oh about thirty three or so years ago. It was a big upset apparently, and he was the first and only human to win it.”
“It’s a place to start, thanks papa.” My heart skipped a beat that that name.
My father waved his hand, “Not done yet, Nate, who used to work at Tosche’s, told me that there was also a kid by that name used to hang out there. He told me that his name was Luke, used to hang out with Biggs Darklighter’s.”
“Huff Darklighter’s boy?” I asked. I remembered hearing that the son of the wealthy agricultural magnate had been killed but the reasons for his death were shrouded in mystery.
My father nodded. “Yeah, the two boys were friends apparently. Nate was telling me if you want to know more probably Laze Loneozner, better known as Fixer, or Tosche might be able to help you out a bit.”
“Did he say where this Luke was from??” I asked.
“A moisture farm some place out on the edge of the Jundland wastes. Between Anchorhead and Wayfar.” He said. “I did some digging though and that was the same farm which the Imperials did a raid on. Remember I told you about it, happened shortly after you started working for the Empire.” He paused. “Is this boy in trouble, Merly? Why are you looking for him?”
“I don’t know, papa. It’s possible he’s partly responsible for the death of thousands of innocent workers one of the Imperial space stations. He might also know something about the whole Alderaan thing as well. I just know I was asked to find out all about him. I don’t know much more than that.”
My father nodded. “That thing with Alderaan was bad business.” He said quietly.
“I can take you out to Tosche’s in two days if you want? I have to pick up some parts from him. You know how hard it is to actually find him, never at the station, never reachable. I set up a meeting a few weeks ago, so why don’t you come with me?”
“Sounds perfect.” I said.
“So, are you busy now?” my father asked, clearing the table.
I shook my head. “Not really, for a change.”
“Good, I have an engine with your name on it. Nate Delann, the guy from Tosche’s was supposed to take care of it but he got called away on an emergency. So damned hard to find a decent mechanic nowadays that I have to share with the other docking bays. If you wanted to make decent money you could stay here and fix ships.”
I laughed. “What is it?”
“A YT nineteen-thirty.” He grinned.
“Oh, I haven’t seen one of those yet!”
“I thought you might like that.” He said and we walked over to the dock repair bay. I sighed happily when I saw the ship. The YT 1930 was a really new light freighter from the Corellian Engineering Corp. Unlike the older YT models this ship had a center lined cockpit and was way more streamlined. She was a pretty looking ship. I grinned this would be fun.
“I’ll just get my kit and get right to it. Is everything still in the same place?” I asked.
My father nodded. “Jyrki’s system was so good no one’s ever bothered to change it.”
“Good.” I said and I opened up the Ahnkeli ‘Su’udelma to get my coveralls and tool kit.
As I found myself in the new freighter’s engine room I could not help but smile. I had come full circle and it felt very strange to be back. Tomorrow I would start my search for the two Skywalkers. More convinced than ever before that they were linked. Everything kept coming back to this planet.