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Nok Morliss

Mon Calamari

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Watching the neimodian eat was revolting. Still, Shimsinblimp took it in and the room about them. Blimp’s eyes scanning the room while Shim focused on the bussinessman. Poultry? Such a strange fascination.’ Blimp noted silently with slight amusement. The obscenely rich always seemed to have idiosyncrasies.

 

Still, when Nok mentioned a take over of Kessel, it caught the spicejacker’s attention. Hitching his wagon to someone like Morliss was almost a surefire bet to shoot upwards in power and fortune. Power and fortune begat more power and fortune. But even shrewd minds like this needed honed and nurtured. If that nurturing hand was to be be Shim and Blimp, then fate had aligned it so. All he had to do was bow to the megalomaniac’s desires and temper those against his own so as to ensure this house of cards was transformed into a durasteel fortress.

 

Both heads turned to look at Nok, their eyebrows raising in unison, surprised by the suggestion.  The two heads looked to each other momentarily; the unspoken volumes that passed between them in an instant confirming their course of conduct.

 

Turning back at Nok the troig’s gaze focused on the blind nemodian. The shock and surprise was gone. It was replaced by grim determination and a wicked smile on both faces. “I have no doubt that my time could be split between Kessel and Mon Cal. Such an acquisition would send shockwaves through the underworld that would allow us to emerge a master amongst the chaos.”

“The presence of an Imperial warfleet and jackbooted enforcers would put a dent in our income.”

“It sounds like the start of a conspiracy theory fed by bad batches of ryll. Even, if we know it is true,”

“Nobody outside this room must ever know that.” The words dripped with venom as Blimp menacingly fingered the weapon at his waist.

“We need a less overt method of taking over the needed supplies. Unneeded attention and all . . . “ Shim’s voice trailed off, the consequences of the unfinished thought clearly conveyed. “What of your body-flinging bot that I saw exiting the offices last week before your name became synonymous with starship manufacturing?” 

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18 hours ago, Shimsinblimp said:

“We need a less overt method of taking over the needed supplies. Unneeded attention and all . . . “ Shim’s voice trailed off, the consequences of the unfinished thought clearly conveyed. “What of your body-flinging bot that I saw exiting the offices last week before your name became synonymous with starship manufacturing?” 

 

"A excellent operative, but still just one bot."

"Hmm...any method of taking over is going to draw attention eventually, no matter how we do it. Smart people will connect the dots if we try to keep the Sith name off of it, and I think what little image the Sith Empire has will survive a dip with the spice trade. I'd hoped to use the Sith armada to do our dirty work for us...but maybe we can still use their troops. Not the jackbooted Sith troopers," Nok mused, popping another egg into his mouth, "but a more profit-minded force. House Sovros has strong interests in expanding their slave operation. They're proud and ambitious, and enough competition has jumped into the market for them to feel threatened. They've also got an insane military, all clones, perfectly loyal and controllable. If we offer them a good portion of the spice on hand, a contract to purchase slaves from them at standing market rate for the next few years, and supply our own troops to back theirs up, I could see them throwing some of their forces our way."


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A cut for the goons that helped them take over. That seemed fair. Shimsinblimp pondered as he listened to Nok speak. It would not be hard to ensure that some of the ill gotten gains were unaccounted for when it came time to draw a percentage. A contract to supply slaves to mine the ryll in exchange for a small price or cut. This was sounding pretty good. Besides, if the hired thugs were in it for the pay, they could eat the first few salvos of incoming fire. It’d keep his spicejackers safer. Then they could get down to the more precise bits of pirating the criminal world.

 

“You have a deal Mister . . . Is it Meer or Morliss these days?”

 

“We’ll make sure our gunships are prepped and ready when your men are. Just keep them out of our way. Don’t you worry about us Mister whoever you are. We’ll have those mines controlled in no time.”

 

“And while we are away, steps have already been put in place to ensure that growth continues here on Mon Cal. Even these fishheads seem to find the allure of twi’leks blinding to their senses.”

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The freshly cleaned hunter droid stood at the edge of the garage building, looking over all that he had attained so far. A mechanic’s workshop, bought in the name of a ‘Rax King’, was now his legal property. Xar had made careful work with it, the large chamber-like room a mechanical workplace. A large operating table where he could rest his body at ease and allow his loyal servant fix or tamper with whatever was needed. Shelves of maintenance, welding and slicing equipment for whatever job was needed. A miniature forge in the corner in case something needed to be welded, though Xar possessed no one who could use it effectively. Everything was constantly polished and cleaned as much as possible. 


Yes, the money Xar had made from Nok had been put to good use. A base for himself. A place where he could recharge, rebuild, and gloat to his advisor. 


Still, in all the time since the takeover of the shipyards, Xar had not been surviving on just what he made from Nok. Evidence of this were the bodies in the corner, both unconscious and tied up. Bounties from the local authorities, soon to be turned in for a small profit. There were a lot more of them ever since the Sith takeover. 


Xar stood before them, studying them. His green chassis, just as polished and clean as ever, reflected the incandescent lights above him. Quietly he tapped his claws on his own chassis, as if in thought. Around him, his two drones circled, awaiting their next order beyond ‘protect’. 


Vizier, putting some tools away on one of the shelves, noticed this. The more time he spent with his new master, the more he wondered about what made him so unique. He was a droid, of that there was no doubt. But many of his mannerisms were so organic. A droid’s programming, while adaptable, would have never included things like tapping in thought unless its creator wanted it. And from what his lord had said, Vizier could not believe it was an intentional programming. Unless Xar was rewriting himself constantly? 


“My lord…” Vizier spoke up, waddling over. Xar didn’t look up from the two bounties, a couple of bail-jumpers. 


The protocol droid made a move towards his owner. Without hesitation, the drones suddenly moved to block Vizier’s path, guns powered up and aimed at Vizier. 


“That’s enough you two…” Xar raised one arm and closed his claws. The drones honked once and returned to their circling motion. 


Vizier bowed at his Lord’s graciousness. “My Lord, pardon my obzervationz, but I can’t help but notice you are not pleazed. Are you not zatisfied with your zituation? ” 


There was a moment of silence, and then, “No, we are not satisfied Vizier. Do you know why?”


Xar turned and looked at his advisor, who awaited an answer.  “We do not have enough.” Xar made a few strides past Vizier and picked up a tool from a shelf. A worn down wrench. Xar began to spin his claw holding it, then bringing it back to rest the tool in his other claw. Another organic tendency.


“We did two very impressive jobs, jobs that few would ever try to accomplish. Jobs that required our superiority. One which acquired us your services. But look at what we have. A single room building. Tools and equipment, but thats all. Not what we deserve”


“Indeed sir. You deserve luxurious items, like chrome batteries, and golden claws” Vizier added. He understood how to stay on Xar’s good side. He was originally programmed to make people happy in whatever job service he was a part of. 


“Indeed Vizier. But look at Nok. Look at what he has attained from our work. A shipyard. Workers. Servants of his own. We came out with three additional droids. He has so much more.” 


Xar turned sharply, hearing one of the bounties moan in awakening. In a reflexive reaction, Xar chucked the wrench with near lethal force. The crude tool slammed into the bounty’s head, cracking the skull and most likely sending the victim into a death spiral. He would need to be turned in soon.


“Its not correct. This situation is not correct. We should have servants like that. And we should be viewed above everyone else. Are we not everyone’s superior?”


Vizier nodded in a worried way. His master was upset. If he didn’t come up with an idea, he could be hit by something as well. It hadn’t happened yet, but Vizier had worked with humans enough to know how anger worked. 


“And now there is the Troig...here to accomplish what we should be doing. Building a criminal empire! And we, representative of Black Sun, are doing nothing about it!” 


“Perhapz zir…” Vizier started, trying to quiet down the temper. “There iz a way to rize in popularity amongzt the mazzez and power over the Troig. Maybe even Nok az well.” 


 The Hunter Trainer droid looked at his property. “Go on…”


Vizier, under Xar’s gaze, motioned to the bounties. “You have captured a total of 43 different bountiez on this watery planet already, 8 which were from other planetz. By my calculationz, your greatnezz haz done something no one elze has on this planet. Perhaps we can uze this…”


 The protocol droid held out his right hand and opened it up, revealing the holo-pad that Xar had installed. An image of an elderly Mon Calamari, decorated in a purple regal uniform, emerged. 


“No doubt the Planet’z Zecurity Chief Blo Bodza has heard of your accomplishments already. If he hasn’t, then that is zurprizing. The lazt perzon to turn in 43 different bountiez took a full year to do zo, and that waz before Bodza'z time. You are exquizite.”


“Get to the point Vizier” Xar ordered, though visibly enjoying the praise he was receiving by nodding at each compliment. 


“With your permission, allow me to make engagements with Bodsa. Allow us, in your name, to get you in his services.”


“You believe we should work for this inferior overdressed fish?”


Vizier waved his other hand and shook his head. “Not for long. Long enough to get headz to look at you in the zame light I zee you my lord. Get some recognition from the planetary government. Perhapz, if you can zomehow get more and more zerventz, zay through a certain droid-loving neimoidian, you can demonztrate how you manage entire zquadz of crime hunting unitz. “


Xar nodded, seeing where this was going. 


“Good, good Vizier. With our credibility established, Blo Bodsa will place us at his right hand. And should anything happen to him…” Xar’s claws clenched together, imagining the blood that could squirt out. A true position of power. People all over the planet, nay, the entire galaxy would begin to recognize his greatness. And he would have power over the masses. Let the Troig have his criminal empire. As chief of security, Xar could control even more, like which criminals got captured and which ones got to live. And of course, only those who bowed to him would live. 

 

“No no no…!” Vizier shouted, then immediately quieted himself. Xar’s sensor bore right through the protocol droid like a laser. 


“Zir, if he diez unexpectedly, there would be investigationz on investigationz, and no one would allow you to run zecurity until the investigationz died down. Droid fear always rizez in timeszof trouble. But if he was given the idea to retire early on for whatever reazon….”

 

Xar nodded. “Get on it Vizier. Do whatever you need to do to get an audience with Bodsa. We want him to begging for our services.” 

 

Vizier bowed slightly. Xar, meanwhile, picked up the two bodies and began to head out the door to deliver these bounties. War was excited now. Now he had a goal. Show the people of Mon Cal his superiority. 
 

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On 9/10/2020 at 11:13 PM, Shimsinblimp said:

“You have a deal Mister . . . Is it Meer or Morliss these days?”

 

“We’ll make sure our gunships are prepped and ready when your men are. Just keep them out of our way. Don’t you worry about us Mister whoever you are. We’ll have those mines controlled in no time.”

 

“And while we are away, steps have already been put in place to ensure that growth continues here on Mon Cal. Even these fishheads seem to find the allure of twi’leks blinding to their senses.”


"Excellent. It'll be a few days at the least until I can set my end in motion. Besides, I have some of my own projects I'd like to work in the meantime. Leave a way for me to contact you, and I'll let you know when things are ready on my end and we can plan the operation."

"Oh," Nok said standing and bowing his head to the Troig, "and it's Nok Morliss." He smiled.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Nok shuffled through his office after the Troig had left, the cowering Pantoran slave emanating fear.

He ignored the artifacts scattered across the tables. They were nothing but old relics as far as he could tell. Valuable, but not useful. He'd love to do more in-depth analysis on them though, in the hopes they might lead him to a better cache, but they weren't what occupied his attention. Moving past them, he focused his attention on the droid chassis, sprawled and deactivated..

The guardian droid that had been either protecting or imprisoning that...thing in the tunnels. There were no records anywhere that mentioned a model that even resembled this thing.

 

Ichtyoid head...likely a Mon Cal native design. 

 

Nok began disassembling the plating over the chest, find latches and switches by instinct and the unusual "vision" provided by his slave's fear. As he worked and considered the machine, his body relaxed. A tension that hadn't left since the caves was easing away as he lost himself in the droid's innards. This move...this takeover of the Shipyards...It was a perfect opportunity, the kind of thing businessmen and criminals dreamed of falling into their laps. Nok had been in the right place at the right time and had managed to come out the other side with the prize in his hands, but now he was exposed. Nok had always survived by never being noticeable. His businesses were always small, and half of them were legitimate if not ethical. He'd avoided purchasing a pylat bird, a huge status symbol among neimoidians, to avoid being noticed by his peers. He scattered his funds in dozens of vaults and accounts and under almost a hundred identities. But now he was out in the open. Now he had to answer to his investors who'd put up money to purchase the Shipyards. They'd already started seeing a return on their investment, but Nok knew better than to assume they'd just stay in the background. Now Nok was in bed with a criminal like Shimsinblimp, someone who would just as soon shoot Nok if he thought his new "partner" was a hindrance or cheating. Heck, now Nok was working with a psychotic killer droid with an ego the size of a purrgil. People would take shots at him now. He couldn't hide.

The exposed wiring of the droid suddenly stood out in stark relief, and Nok realized why.

 

He was afraid.

 

Nok started to tamp it down, but stopped. He took a deep breath, and took the fear in. He let it build. He fed it. He ran through mental holovids of getting gutted by the psychotic Xar, or gunned down by the cold Shimsinblimp. Each played out in cold, full sensory detail, as if the Force mirrored his fears directly back into his mind. The Dark Side around him responded to his emotion, and he stood at the center stirring it into a maelstrom. He barely noticed his slave's terror spiking, or the artifacts on the tables rattling before falling off onto the soft carpet. He couldn't see the lights flicker or see the door panel flash and go dark.

He sank further into his fear, becoming a part of the Force, unraveling until it wasn't even fear anymore. It was some hidden, roiling, dark mass in his chest that spread through his limbs. It compelled him to act. It willed him to fight. It demanded he take.

Then something caught his attention. It almost knocked him out of his trance, but as the Dark Side twisted about him in invisible currents, something in the droid chassis was...diverting the flow. It was slight, but it was there. Nok brought his focus to bear through the haze, and saw what it was. In the palm of each hand, a small tablet of metal and circuits lay buried under the durasteel. It resonated with the power of the Dark Side.

So...that's why I couldn't figure out how you generated those fields...

He grinned.

Someone used alchemy on you to make it happen.

 

He flicked his hand out, and the call button at his desk across the room pressed down. As deep as he was in the Dark Side, it required as much mental effort as blinking.

 

"Secretary. Have one of my security droids retrieve an item for my ship and have it brought to my office. It'll be cataloged as Item 81. The Art of Mechu Deru."


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"Excellent. It'll be a few days at the least until I can set my end in motion. Besides, I have some of my own projects I'd like to work in the meantime. Leave a way for me to contact you, and I'll let you know when things are ready on my end and we can plan the operation."

"Oh," Nok said standing and bowing his head to the Troig, "and it's Nok Morliss." He smiled.
 


Sensing the conversation was over, Shimsinblimp stood, the chair scraping the floor beneath him. “It has been an honor Mister Morliss. A few days time will allow me to ensure that things are prepared.” Removing a single computer chip from a pocket in his sleeve, the Troig places it on Nok’s desk. “Just plug it in when you are ready.” Shim smiled secretively as he turned towards the door.

 

“Then we’ll find you.” Blimp added, his voice low and cold.

 

With that they made their way out the door, summoning the vanguard to pick him up and whisk him away as soon as the two-headed saurian stepped outside. 
 

___________________________________________
 

Returning to the abandoned shop where he had started his rebirth of a life of crime, Shimsinblimp quickly descended the hidden stairway down to the lower levels. There it was hotter, the sweet smell of spice barely tangible over the odors of numerous offworld servants, workers and slaves carefully cutting, crafting, weighing, and packing the spice; all under the careful eyes of the pit-boss, a lithe black-skinned female twi’lek. The glint in her emerald eyes was cold and she barked orders at any that hesitated or fell behind. The energy lash at her belt testified to her brutal methods. Having come into money, Shimsinblimp had been able to track down Elsiene and convince her to join his little enterprise. Cold, cruel, and conniving, the woman was few beings that Shimsinblimp trusted at all. Thankfully, she had been willing to assist in overseeing the day to day tasks of the Mon Cal operation. After all, it was a far cry better than hiding from the Imperial Remnant and their blasted wanted posters.

 

With a knowing nod from Blimp, Shimsinblimp passed Elsiene without a word. The eyes of every servant and slave diverted to their work. In the midst of the spice and sweat, fear tinged the hot air. Making his way to the end of a hall in the labyrinthing underground lair.


Painstakingly it had been pieced out from the shop, ensuring dead ends were sealed and new avenues and escapes opened. Flickering lights and the buzz of low-grade electrical wires completed the seedy feel of the place. If one did not know any better, it would have seemed every bit a Hutt’s setup, save for the stairs  and carefully nailed down thick rugs and carpets. One could never be too careful. Shimsinblimp had even seen a Hutt with a caved in skull recover from what seemed like certain death.
 

At the end of the hall, Shimsinblimp quickly and methodically keyed in a mutlidigit passcode and then completed a palm scan before a vault hissed open to reveal hundreds of pounds of unprocessed ryll. Several shelves were already empty. It was amazing how quickly the Mon Cal and Quarren people took to this new form of pleasure; especially when everything else was looking so bleak.

 

Using his fingers, Shim whispered to himself, taking tally of the remaining spice. “We gotta get the crew. This won’t last us the month.” 

“We really do not have a choice if we are to keep this up. I shudder to think what may happen if we fail Mister Morliss.”

“That is simple. You worry too much.”
“You’re right. Even with his metallic murderer we can end him. Then what though?”

“We keep on making money and buying whatever and whoever we want. More powerful than . . .”

“The Hutts. More powerful than the Hutts. We will be like a god.”

“Lets call the men.”
 

Stepping out of the vault, Shimsinblimp sealed the door back shut with a hiss. Making his way back through the labyrinth, he found Elsiene, “Going for another shipment.”

 

The midnight hued woman smiled, her white pointed teeth an unsettling visage against her skin. “Bring me back something that smells better than this place.”

 

Blimp winked, “Anything for you deary.”

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