Join Date: Jun 2008
As the young Vex Distrun crept hurriedly across the cold metal alleyways of Coruscant, he felt the large ball that had begun to form in his stomach only an hour ago tighten with every step forward, every hushed and constricted breath inhaled and exhaled through the dense smog. It was not the cause of the anxiousness one was inspired with when forcing themselves through the dangerously narrow, dank, and frightening corridors of darkness, where only vile things dare occur. Rather, it was due to why he had chosen to take this excursion into the profound reaches of the city-planet’s core that he felt so nervous. What seemed like only moments ago, Vex had received word through one of his many spies that a high-profile meeting of crime lords was taking place, and that he had been invited. It was difficult to know how to react to these meetings, as they happened only once or twice in a lifetime, and were not known for their smooth sailings. Crime Lords preferred not to be affiliated with one another, because two Crime Lords would attract far more attention from the authorities than one, and scoundrels did not enjoy sharing profits. However, there would come a time in the galactic economy where associations were necessary for survival of each criminal organization, and one of those times had certainly befallen the Galaxy. The Republic was struggling to maintain itself after the Jedi Civil War, and while piggybacking on stable government operations as undersized, unconnected groups was no longer a viable form of profit, a hefty, controlled crime ring could exploit a wealth of instability while still holding itself up on its own operations, without relying on the Republic to do it for them.
It was a sound strategy, and one Vex was sure all the Crime Lords had decided on, and would agree to, at least until they had passed through the severe depression. So, he had chosen to take the risk of meeting with dangerous criminals, willing to kill to get ahead, which was currently his singular cause for concern. Coruscant bore a resemblance to Nar Shaddaa in that it was the perfect place to disappear, and that a sentient being who had enough knowledge of the planet could never be found unless he wanted to be. The young up and coming gang leader had always taken this extreme advantage over his enemies very seriously, staying in the shadows as much as possible, and keeping his operations on the planet’s surface, never daring to get involved with smuggling operations like his other competitors. He made a comparatively modest living because of it, but he was not greedy, and he knew that he would last longer than others in the business. However, this calculated risk would cast aside the sanguine shroud that enveloped him, and make him utterly vulnerable to attack. He had covered his tracks to make sure that his base of operations could not be traced, but he was placing his life in the hands of ruthless individuals who would not hesitate to crush him into dust for the economic advantage, relying only on the belief that they would be too frightened of others to shoot first, and potentially cause a massive fight for dominance. It would be this same fear that kept them cooperative for however long the alliance would last, or until the tension became too much to bear, and one Crime Lord took the chance to ice another.
Knowing that exhibiting his unease would only make him a more obvious target, Vex pushed the thoughts out of his mind and fixed his expression into a visage of determination and unpredictability as he reached his destination, and stepped into a small circular atrium where several alleyways met. He wanted to be as dangerous as possible to these men, for being weak would only make him easy to kill, even though he knew he could probably handle himself in a fight, should one occur. The area was dimly lit by a bright sky overhead, small rays of brilliant sun seeping through the many wires and beams that separated the Coruscant upper city with its lower sublevels. Vex’s hand fell stiffly onto his blaster, hidden in the folds of his leather overcoat, as he scanned the faces of his acquaintances, framed in the gloom. There were some he knew, like the notorious Todda the Hutt, and Grahan Beck, but others were foreign to him, most likely because they were good at their jobs, and never got caught. It was a peaceful meeting, and the invitation had been very explicit that no escorts or guards were permitted to accompany anyone, thusly; the bosses of every major criminal racket on the planet were in a single room, alone. It took the young gang leader a moment to realise that he was the last arrival, and that they were all waiting for someone to speak first. Todda broke the heavy silence.
“Well? Who was it that invited us to this little meeting?” the large slug croaked in basic, a surprising choice for his species. Vex guessed that he wanted to be sure to avoid offending anyone by speaking his own language, as he had no personal guard, and Hutts were useless in a battle.
It was a strange Duros man wearing long, elegant red garb that replied, also in basic. “The message was anonymous, it could be anyone here.” His voice was smooth and flowing, almost relaxing, a sign that was indicative of his craft, which probably involved being very persuasive.
“Then why don’t they simply show themselves and tell us what they want? I don’t like being here, exposed like this.” A middle-aged Twi’lek sporting a grizzly cut down his left eye exclaimed gruffly, his demeanor set in a military-like discipline.
A low roar of agreement followed his words, but was quickly stifled by a strangely monotone, robotic voice that had a metallic grind to it, yet still retained a touch of the organic in its tone, as if from a droid, but not quite a droid. “I did not yet reveal myself because it was a valuable opportunity to see how you fine gentlemen interact with one another when you have no solitary individual to lead you. I must say that I am not surprised, pleasantly or otherwise, in the clear unease and tension between all of you.” The voice seemed to be coming from everywhere, its tone droll and uninterested, yet precise and unwavering.
A small black orb etched with white floated down softly from the wires above, emitting low whirring and buzzing, a large red eye glowing in its center. The droid was heavily armed, and it only took a moment for everyone to realise it, as Vex could feel the tension in the air get thicker, and saw as everyone’s hand disappeared into their clothing, undoubtedly to grasp their weapons. The droid did not attack, however, and instead clicked and beeped for a moment, before projecting the holographic representation of their host, a strange looking human man, with a bald head, and facial hair done in a rather peculiar style. The young gang leader felt his body go numb, and his heart skip a beat, as he looked into the eyes of the hologram. Though it was a mere electronic representation, he felt a cold emptiness in those eyes, a ruthlessness and intellect that knew nothing of compassion or shame. Immediately, Vex knew that this man was not to be trusted.
A human female with dark skin and a close-cropped haircut smirked audaciously at the hologram, her face lit by the aqua glow. “Goto. I didn’t know you operated outside of the Y’toub sector.”
The hologram turned to face the woman, his expression unwavering and devoid of emotion. “Typically I do not, Ms. Androma, as it is too much of a hassle to deal with Republic forces at such a range. I cannot imagine the constant struggle it must be to work separate rackets on the planet that serves as the core of the government, and I certainly had no intentions of experiencing it firsthand.”
“So, why the change of heart? Last I heard, you had enough money to place an opulent bounty on Jedi; why the sudden lack of funds?” A Rodian in a dark leather flight suit demanded harshly, this time in the language of his people.
“Because, unfortunately, my search for the Jedi ended all too… unexpectedly. An irritating turn of events, as I had many plans for her, but now it appears that I must do things myself. I am somewhat of a Republic sympathiser, you see, and I had hoped that I could simply play puppet master with one simple Force user at the head of the government, to sustain it from collapse. But, since she chose to undermine my plans, as per usual, I am left with no other choice but to apply myself directly to the wound in the government, and bolster the Republic myself. That means I will need your help, and the help of your businesses, the businesses that have been leeching off of government projects for many years, until they have developed the capacity, when united, to give the government the structure from the shadows it will need to survive, at least long enough to restabilise itself.” As Vex had suspected, this Goto person planned to merge the crime organizations together in order to make a decent profit, but it appeared that he also wished to apply this new superstructure of crime to helping the Republic. Though it sounded altruistic at first, the young criminal knew that Goto did not wish to suffer through the rise of a new government economy. Everyone here was an expert in survival, and in order to survive, they needed the singular power of the galaxy alive and well.
“An interesting suggestion...” the red-robed Duros mused, his hand on his chin, “But how do you intend to work together all of these different rackets, and insure that our interests are maintained? How would we go about dividing the profits equally? It’s a monumental effort, to say the very least, and at the end of the day, would we still be making more than we are now, separately?”
Goto’s analysing gaze shifted to the Duros before he spoke. “You raise an excellent point, Mr. Tulane. I have made the calculations necessary for determining the yield of profits from a criminal organization of this size, with so many separate shareholders, and, when factoring in the likely work ethic of its many leaders, as observed before I made myself known, I do not believe it pertinent to keep any of you alive.”
Vex was paralyzed with a strange vibration the moment Goto spoke those last words, his dark brown eyes darting helplessly to all his fellow Crime Lords as they too were shocked by a powerful electromagnetic field that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. The vibration began to send ripples of pure agony throughout his body as the young gang leader collapsed upon the floor, his curly black hair crackling with energy, his body quivering in a useless heap, and at that moment, he knew he was dying. Suddenly, the electricity stopped, though it was already far too late to survive, and the other crime lords around him quickly became smoldering corpses. Goto nodded satisfactorily before continuing to explain himself with a chilling indifference.
“I will be visiting your headquarters personally, informing your associates that they now work for me. If they resist, I will simply kill them, and replace them with my own men. You can die knowing that your legacy is in qualified hands, and that your works will be pivotal to saving the Republic.” His eyes shifted lazily over his victims, before resting on Vex. The young man took the opportunity, barely capable of moving, to mouth a single word.
Then Goto did something truly terrifying. He smiled a warm, agonisingly calm smile. “Simple Galactic Economics, Mr. Distrun. The highest amount of profit with the least amount of effort is preferred above all else. It would have simply been too bothersome to allow you and your fellows to remain in power; I would have constantly been juggling egos and attempting to placate imbeciles while doing my work. It was far easier to kill you all and take what I needed for myself, in order to do my work in peace. Little effort, exponential gain: that’s what I was after. Now, die.”
Vex stared into the eyes of his murderer, those cold, empty, dead eyes, that were now smiling back at him, and allowed the revelation that he had been killed for a simple advantage in economic strategy sink in. As he felt life slip away, his body becoming cold and numb, his vision failing into black, his last thought was that he would never understand Galactic Economics.
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It is all that is left unsaid upon which tragedies are built.