Wild swirling music echoed eerily in the oddly contoured corridors of the ancient monastery. Armed guards, heavily armored Gamorreans with brutish faces and sharpened tusks, kept guests from penetrating into the inner recesses of Jabba’s residence, but the publicly accessible areas offered a wealth of entertainments and distractions for even the most jaded. Intoxicants of every flavor, gambling, dances to watch or join in, food by the bucket full and willing courtesans for every palate. The monstrous master of crime stinted not at all on his guests’ pleasures.
Save in one commodity. The Hutt himself was strangely absent in every venue. Many of his guests asked for him. Some were even rude enough to demand that he appear. But to no avail.
The party went on, but Jabba did not appear.
At midnight the musicians stopped playing and the official feast began. But still no Hutt.
After two hours of endless courses the servants cleared the tables and a booming gong announced a special event. The floor of the dining chamber split open and the seats slid aside to provide a stadium view for those present of a rocky arena at a subterranean level.
The gladiator matches started immediately with a fencing match between two women armed with long knives and bucklers. At first they seemed to be wearing tight leather armor but as they moved it became apparent that they actually wore nothing but body paint. It quickly became clear that one fighter was fast, the other strong as they traded blows and the first rivulets of blood stained their flesh. As they sparred and the advantage seemed to be first with one and then the other, the gamblers in the crowd began to call out odds and wads of cash and coin appeared – impossible to trace.
At last one of the fighters fell and a cheer went up from the crowd along with a sigh of regret from those that had lost money.
A second bout pitched two Wookiees with spears against a clawed monstrosity with whip like tentacles and a heavy carapace called a Blixus. It ended quickly.
As the troll-like guards pulled a bloody corpse from the arena, a surge of interest ran through the crowd. “Jabba!” “He’s here!” “The Hutt – at last!”
With regal solemnity the massive crime lord slithered onto his couch on a raised dais surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad females from a half dozen races. The crowd applauded and the Hutt acknowledged their appreciation.
“Tonight,” he boomed in Hutteses, simultaneous translations whispering in a dozen languages in ear buds around the room, “we will see history in the making. It has been seven years since the Jedi Knights were disbanded and declared outlaws,” he paused for an impromptu cheer from the crowd. “Seven years since the Imperial Storm troopers and Lord Vader have sought out the last remnants of the order to imprison or destroy those who will not relinquish their old ways. Seven years of running and hiding and dying.
“And tonight we will witness the death of the final Jedi!”
Loud hootings and thunderous applause shook the stony hall as the crowd voiced its approval. The historic keepers of law and order had not been well liked among this audience.
The sound cut off as if a switch had been thrown when a shaft of light illuminated a tall powerful man in his late thirties who stepped into the arena with a quiet confidence and grace. He wore fighting leathers and carried a two meter long staff of dark wood which he swung with practiced ease.
More spotlights came on, illuminating other fighters, five in all, here to lay the Jedi low. As they were introduced by Greedo, the Hutt’s major domo, they were greeted with cheers and catcalls.
“My master will see you now,” the summons comes from a young servant, leading you away from the arena to an inner section of the palace. The sounds of the crowd quickly fade behind you as your route leads through a complex of sumptuously furnished rooms.
Jabba the Hutt is in the last room you come to, a round space with high walls and windows above letting in the first orange light of the lesser dawn. The Hutt is wallowing in a shaped trough that contains a smelly slime. He is speaking in low tones with an ancient Rodian who seems querulous and even angry at the crime lord. They are not speaking Huttese or Rodian, and it is not a language you understand.
As you look around the room you notice a dozen others also waiting for Jabba to finish. For the most part they look young and inexperienced, much like yourself. And like you they are doing their best to hide it and look tough.
“Welcome, welcome!” the Hutt slobbers a greeting as the Rodian stamps away in disgust. Jabba speaks in Huttese, but tiny droids floating above your heads translate into your native tongue.
“You have all come here tonight seeking something. To repay a debt or to ask my help.
“I am happy to assist and forgive past debts, but in return, I ask your assistance. I need an object found and returned to me. If you agree to help me, I will reward you well beyond what you had hoped to achieve tonight.
“You will gain my gratitude – a powerful currency across the galaxy.
“I will not tell you what it is you seek until you have committed to the journey – but there will be an adventure and recompenses along the way. I can tell you that the search requires a journey and it will take some little time. I will provide you with a ship and the provisions you will need.
“But before we speak further, I wish to know that I am talking to those who intend to go. If you have any doubts, now is the time to leave.”
He pauses and looks around the room. Several of the others shift uncomfortably under his scrutiny and some of those stand up to leave. Jabba’s eyes harden as he notes who slights him, but he does not stop them from going.
“What do you think he’s looking for?” whispers a young woman with blue skin and feathery hair. This sets off a sudden barrage of hushed speculation.