Fiction – Read the Backstory for Mike Celestino’s Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Character, Lotico Fendan

At the beginning of this month, I introduced the fan-created character of Lotico Fendan– a human who exists within the larger Star Wars universe– and gave him a reason to travel on the legendary Halcyon starcruiser to the planet of Batuu, as part of my upcoming Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage, which I will be attending in-character.

You can watch the video below to get a three-minute look at the beginning of Lotico’s adventure, then rewind time with the short story I wrote underneath that, providing a backstory for the antiquarian set in his youth during the period of the Galactic Civil War.

Watch Antiquities – A Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Story (Part 1):

THIRTY YEARS EARLIER

Lotico Fendan arrived on Coruscant on the eve of his tenth birthday. He had dreamed about the city-covered planet his entire life, but seeing it in person was somehow even more breathtaking. The enormous spires of the towering skyscrapers were rivaled only by the depths of the cavernous lower levels stretching out beneath the elevated walkways. Lotico sauntered off transport along with a dozen or so other passengers traveling from the planet Stewjon, where the Fendan clan had prospered for generations.

        The next day would be a big one, Lotico thought to himself. Tomorrow was, of course, the very first day he could begin his apprenticeship at the Imperial Museum– another goal he had set for himself since years earlier. When the Galactic Empire had received his education records indicating an aptitude for (and an insatiable interest in) history, the apprenticeship had nearly become a sure thing. All that had remained was an application submitted via the holonet, rigorous interviews conducted remotely via face-to-face hologram calls then in-person at Stewjon's local garrison, followed by four months of conduct training at the Imperial Youth camp on Mimban. After a brief return home to gather his belongings– not to mention bid farewell to his parents– Lotico had been on his way.

        The winding railed pathways of Coruscant's upper levels dizzied Lotico at first, but he quickly became adept at checking his course against the maps in his datapad– the slightly battered one he inherited from his father as a hand-me-down going-away present– and was soon able to find his way around the city's Federal District. He located the Youth barracks, but first poked his head inside a nearby general store to find a souvenir to send back home. "Ah, a scale replica of our great Emperor Palpatine's statue," said the Mirialan shopkeeper. "You come from seeing the real thing in Monument Plaza, offworlder?"

        Lotico wondered what it was about his appearance that gave him away as anything but a local. "Not yet," he replied in his distinctly regional Stewjon accent, dropping a handful of Imperial credits on the counter. "But I've seen it in holos, of course, and it looks to be magnificent." He stuffed the miniature statue into his satchel and nodded "thanks" to the shopkeep before heading on his way to his new home-away-from-home.

        Coruscant's Imperial Youth barracks resided about half a dozen city blocks (and two or three sublevels) from the Imperial Palace that Lotico remembered once served as the planet's Jedi temple– the former headquarters and center of activity for the ancient order of warrior monks that for many generations claimed to protect the galaxy from corruption and war. But that had all changed a couple decades ago, when then-Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine uncovered a Jedi plot to overthrow the government and had them eliminated before they could stage their devious coup. That was the official Imperial version of events, anyway, and Lotico had no real reason to doubt it. It was the story he was told during his schooling growing up, and one that was repeatedly reinforced at Youth camp, though his parents always seemed to maintain an air of muted distance whenever the subject of recent galactic history came up.

        Regardless of all that, there was something about the deceptive pacifist mysticism of the Jedi Order that intrigued Lotico as a budding historian– how could an organization like that flourish for such a long time without their hidden truth being discovered? And what was so special about Palpatine that he was able to see through their millennia-spanning ruse just in time to prevent it from coming to fruition? It was a puzzle that nibbled at the back of his mind, but he tucked it away for now– like he had done with the statue in his satchel– as he entered the barracks.

        "Lotico Fendan," said the teenage Sullustan girl behind the desk before Lotico even had the chance to knock on the window of the check-in office. "You're late." She tapped a holoprojector displaying his image in profile, with text reading "NEW RECRUIT" in Aurebesh and the date underneath it. "Not off to a good start," concluded the girl as she typed something into her own datapad.

        "Apologies," muttered Lotico under his breath. "I probably took too long taking in the sights of the city on my way here. And I… didn't realize anyone was expecting me at a specific time."

        The Sullustan sighed and stood up, holding out her hand in greeting. "It's fine. I just need to catch a shuttle." The look on Lotico's face must have conveyed utter bewilderment, because she followed that up with, "I'm Sebben Nence. You're my replacement." This still didn't click. "Didn't anyone tell you anything?"

        "I'm supposed to be apprenticing at the museum," said Lotico finally, a subtly defiant tone in his voice.

        "You are. I mean, I do, too. But all the apprentices have to put in some hours in the barracks each week, as well. Boy, you really are new."

        "I'm ten. Well, I will be tomorrow."

        "Are you telling me you're not even allowed to work yet today? Argh." She rolled her eyes and dropped the bag she had picked up back on the floor. "Fine. I'll delay my trip… again."

        "Where are you going?" Lotico asked, genuinely curious.

        "Now that I've completed my museum apprenticeship, I'm going on a field expedition to the Outer Rim. Learning more about other civilizations, looking for undiscovered artifacts, that kind of thing. And eventually I'll return here to become one of the assistant curators. Isn't that the path you want to take?"

        "Yes, I suppose," Lotico agreed, though he admitted to himself that he hadn't really planned his own life too far out from getting to this point. But the museum was definitely where he wanted to be for now, and he hadn't even had the opportunity to step foot inside it yet! "While you're still here, can you show me the ropes of what I'm supposed to be doing?"

        Sebben considered his request. "Well, technically you can't start doing anything until tomorrow." She thought for a few seconds more. "But let me give you a tour of the barracks just so you know your way around."

        She proceeded to show him around the building for the next standard hour, illuminating a neon sign above the check-in desk that indicated the clerks were on their break. "You're the only new recruit we're expecting today, anyhow," Sebben told Lotico, as she led him down a hallway to the rest of the barracks, eventually winding up at the residential rooms. "This will be your bunk for the next six years… and that's your roommate Galdon." She gestured toward a diminutive human roughly a year or so older than Lotico, if he had to guess.

        Galdon looked up from welding something at a makeshift workbench in the corner of the room. He lifted the lenses on the complex set of goggles he wore– presumably to protect his eyes from the welding torch, though they were also outfitted with a number of electronic gizmos and alternate lenses of varying sizes. "Nice to meet you. Call me 'Gald.'"

        "Hi, Gald. I'm Lotico," Fendan replied. He placed his satchel down on the bed in the empty side of the room and looked back at Sebben. "Will I see you again before you depart for the Outer Rim tomorrow?"

        "Not likely," replied the Sullustan. "I think I'm going to be taking off bright and early, now that my trip got delayed again. Gald here can show you how to handle things at the check-in office, and as for the museum… you'll be meeting the Curator in the morning and he can introduce you to your responsibilities there."

        "Great, and what's the curator's name?" asked Lotico.

        "I wish we knew," piped up Gald, who had flipped the lenses on his goggles back down and resumed his welding. "He doesn't tell any of the apprentices his name, and none of us are quite brave enough to press him for it."

        For the first time since he landed on Coruscant hours earlier, an expression of wariness took over Lotico's face. "We don't get to know his name?"

        "I'd guess he's either got something to hide or simply doesn't think we're worthy of knowing anything personal about him,” added Gald. “He's not the easiest person in the world to get along with."

        "Just call him 'Curator' and treat him with respect and you'll do fine. I have!" said Sebben, who followed that advice with a final wave. "With that, I'll wish you luck on your first day tomorrow, Lotico Fendan. And I'll see you both in two years when I come back!"

        "Bye, Sebben. And thanks for the tour. It was nice meeting you," replied Lotico.

        "Seeya, Seb. And don't forget to bring me back something shiny from the Outer Rim," said Gald half-jokingly. Sebben gave a faux-royal bowing gesture and left through the bunk room's door, which slid closed automatically behind her. "She's got a positive outlook, but don't let that fool you," Gald confided in Lotico once she was gone. "The Curator is a tough customer, and probably the biggest reason I've decided not to stay on at the museum after my apprenticeship is over."

        "You don't want to stay on Coruscant permanently?" asked Lotico in response.

        "No, I think I'd like to explore the galaxy for even longer than our field expeditions allow. Maybe become an antique dealer or trader, something like that. But only after I’ve finished my apprenticeship and earned my credentials. I hear there are some welcoming communities for antiquities in the Colonies and the Outer Rim."

        "Interesting," concluded Lotico, who then began to change his clothes for the evening and then hopped onto his bed. "Well, I'm going to do some more research about the museum and then turn in for the night. It's nice to know you, Galdon."

        "'Gald,' please." He briefly turned away from his welding work to face Lotico. "And you too! I think we'll get along wizardly." He turned back, reignited his torch, and got back to it while Lotico switched on his datapad. The more he learned about this place, the less confident he became in his existing knowledge. So it was time to do some reading.

TWO YEARS LATER

        "Who is Luke Skywalker?" Lotico stared at the headline he had written months earlier on the top of an otherwise blank journal page in his datapad. The mystery had plagued him ever since he began hearing rumors muttered by visitors in the halls of the museum. Apparently this Skywalker person was the rebel pilot responsible for blowing up an immense Imperial military space station (known in certain circles as the "Death Star," though no one dared call it that within earshot of any ranking officials) back when Lotico was about eight years old. But these rumors also suggested that Luke, whoever he was, possessed the mystical powers of the Jedi Order… what some called the "Force."

        Now, Lotico knew the Jedi existed from his lessons about how they almost overthrew the Republic government, leading Chancellor Palpatine to reorganize its structure into an Empire for the sake of order and rule of law. But while the Jedi were definitely real, and even once had their base of operations in plain sight right there on Coruscant, Lotico had never been so sure about this Force thing. At no point in his twelve years in this galaxy had he ever witnessed anyone– human or otherwise– using any kind of magical ability that defied the laws of physics as he knew them.

        But now this Luke Skywalker person was supposedly out there, and word was spreading about his deeds even through Imperial strongholds like the Galactic Capital. Seeing as how Skywalker was evidently associated with the Rebel Alliance, it was unlikely that he and Lotico's paths would ever cross. But if they did, the latter would sure have liked to ask the former some questions… and maybe even run a few controlled tests of these so-called Force abilities.

        Regardless, that page in Lotico's journal remained blank for now, but he prodded Gald for his opinion on the topic just the same. "Like you, I haven't had any experience with the Jedi or the Force, so I don't feel qualified to have an opinion. But Seb once told me that the Curator keeps a private collection that contains a number of Jedi artifacts locked in a secret back room."

        "Did she say where the room is?" Lotico asked, his curiosity piqued.

        Gald thought for a moment. "No, but I do have a somewhat illicitly retrieved schematic of the museum I can cross-reference with the official maps and compare against the rooms to which we do have access."

        "That might work,” acknowledged Lotico. "Let me know if you come up with anything." He stuffed his datapad into his satchel and headed off to that evening's shift at the museum.

        First known as the Galactic Museum when it was founded under the Old Republic, the Imperial Museum was situated in the heart of Coruscant's Federal District. The large columns surrounding its entrance welcomed guests to a collection of displays from numerous worlds across the galaxy. Over its storied existence the museum had accumulated literally billions of objects, though only millions of them were actually featured in its exhibits. Most of the remainder sat in storage rooms collecting dust, though many– especially after the Republic's tumultuous transition into the First Galactic Empire– remained unaccounted for.

        Lotico strolled in through the columns to the museum's main lobby, where as always the Curator sat perched in his robotic walking mechno-chair, waiting for his apprentices' arrivals. "Another three and a half minutes and I would have counted you as late, Fendan," the Curator barked down in his brusque, booming voice. His dark-gray moustache stretched out horizontally from his upper lip, meeting his sideburns on both sides of his plump face. On his left eye he wore a cybernetic eyepiece with a glimmering blue lens attached to a bronze-colored metal plate that curved around the same side of his bald head. "Get to sorting the new arrivals while I wait for the others."

        By "new arrivals," the Curator meant the fresh crates of old relics that arrived each day from varying locations– usually shipped via freighter by some Imperial regiment that had recently occupied another far-off planet. These were kept in one of the back rooms that were accessible to all the assistant curators and apprentices. As Lotico made his way through the public displays and into the non-guest areas, he wondered where the Curator's private collection was located geographically in relation to where he was at the time, and if he could even find its hidden entrance once given its whereabouts.

        He started unpacking a crate from Kassshyk– probably the fifth or sixth one of these filled with Wookiee trinkets and heirlooms he'd seen come through since he started his internship. For whatever reason, the Imperial occupation of Kassshyk seemed to be an ongoing, hard-fought battle. Lotico had never seen a Wookiee in person, but he'd heard they were fearsome, powerful beasts.

        Suddenly a steady beeping began emanating from Lotico's satchel, and he knew based on the specific noise that a call was coming through on his datapad. After first looking around to make sure the Curator wasn't anywhere nearby, he retrieved the device from the bag and switched it on. A whirring electronic noise echoed through the room as Galdon's familiar face appeared over the datapad in hologram form, goggles fully lifted above his brow.

        "Lotico, uh… I have that information you were asking about. About, uh… Alderaanian history… you know…"

        "Don't worry; I'm alone," said Lotico in a hushed whisper. "Where is it?"

        "You know those two big statues of Mas Amedda and Administrator Moore? Go between them and turn left," Gald said through crackling static. "There must be a moveable wall or something."

        "Got it," Lotico replied furtively. "I'll check it out on my dinner break. The Curator knows I like to explore the museum anyway."

        "Copy that. And good luck. I'll see you after your shift. Galdon out." The hologram fizzled out and Lotico returned the datapad to his satchel, resuming his work unpacking the crate and checking for damage against the list of items and their condition displayed on the larger, wall- mounted screen in front of him.

        Four hours later it was dinnertime, and Lotico grabbed his satchel, quickly peeked inside to switch his datapad ringer to silent mode, then nodded to the Curator as he walked past where the middle-aged man was doing inventory on an exhibit from Dathomir. "Hmph," replied the curator, barely looking up from his hunched-over posture as he peered over the display.

        Lotico found his way to the statues, a walk which took him several standard minutes, knowing full well that he had to return from his break on time or risk never hearing the end of it from the Curator. Beyond the towering forms of two of the emperor's most trusted advisors, Lotico turned left as he'd been instructed to by his roommate, and found himself facing a wall-sized panel covered with some kind of hieroglyphics. He didn't recognize the language, but at that point he'd only learned to read and speak about a dozen, and there were countless known forms of communication in the charted galaxy.

         He ran his fingers along the edges of the panel and through the indented marks of the hieroglyphs, looking for a switch, but nothing was immediately obvious. For a couple minutes he tried to decipher some of the glyphs themselves to no avail, until in the center section he spotted a symbol that resembled an ornate chest or an ark, and inside that was a deeper hole. He stretched up with his right arm as far as he could reach, and was just barely able to insert the tip of his index finger into the hole. Within, he felt a toggle switch.

        "Lotico?"

        Lotico dropped his arm and spun around. There in front of him was Sebben Nence, the Sullustan girl he had met on his first day in the barracks two years earlier. "Sebben! You're back!" Lotico gasped, backing up against the golden-colored panel.

        "Yeah, I just arrived from Batuu, and I wanted to find whoever was on duty first before I debrief with the big man. What are you doing? You know we're not supposed to mess with the public exhibits, right?"

        "I was just, uh… I was interested in these glyphs."

        "Okay, well don't touch them. The Curator will blow a gasket. Those have never been deciphered."

        "Okay, sorry," Lotico muttered as he slumped over, crestfallen. He carefully took a step away from the wall. "How was your trip?"

        "A-mazing," Sebben responded, that positive energy returning to her voice. "You have to visit Dok-Ondar's shop in Black Spire Outpost. He's got so much amazing stuff. I even traded him for something I've never seen before. Do you know what this is?" From her knapsack she pulled out a cube-shaped object that seemed to be glowing blue. It was covered with geometric shapes and emitted an almost-inaudible humming noise.

        Lotico took another step closer, instantly mesmerized. "No," he said, making no effort to disguise his unbridled curiosity. "What is it?"

        "Dok said it's a Jedi holocron… something they once used to store their histories and training. But I didn't think anything like this still existed, and he had a bunch of them! Unfortunately I can't get it to work or figure out how to open the blasted thing."

        "Can I take a look?" Lotico reached out his hand toward the cube, which strangely almost felt as though it was calling out to him.

        "Not right now." Sebben tucked the holocron back in her knapsack and Lotico snapped to attention as that unfamiliar feeling dissipated. "I'm gonna show it to Curator first. Maybe he'll let us all study it later. I just wanted to know if he's in one of his moods before I seek him out."

        "Uh, no… he's not too grumpy today. You should be okay."

        "Thanks," said Sebben, and stepped briskly away toward the back rooms. "I'll catch up with you and Gald some more later," she called back. "In the meantime, try not to touch anything out here!"

        "Will do!" Lotico yelled in response, though he had no immediate intention of following those instructions. He turned around, stepped back to the golden panel, and reached his arm back up to the depiction of the chest. Finding the hole, he stuck his finger back inside and flipped the switch. The panel swung open at an angle, the way ancient hinged doors used to before sliding electronic ones had become commonplace.

        Inside this secret room was a treasure trove: Lotico could make out row after row of carefully organized artifacts– some placed on pedestals or display stands, while the larger examples merely sat on the floor, though that still brought their most interesting features up to eye level or beyond. He cautiously made his way into the dimly-lit chamber, figuring he had about ten minutes to look around in there before he needed to make his way back for the rest of his shift. He closed the heavy panel most of the way behind him, leaving it ever-so-slightly ajar just in case he couldn't find the way to open it when he wanted to exit.

        The first thing that caught his eye was a statue– not of another prominent figure from recent galactic history, but a robed being wearing a mask, with its arms outstretched and holding an egg-shaped orb in its right hand. A wholly different object on a table nearby resembled a tablet, though its lengthy inscription had eroded to the point where it was almost impossible to make out in this light. Leaning against a sarcophagus was a rusty old staff, its headpiece adorned with a gleaming red gem in its center, and there were weapons and helmets of dozens of varieties spread out all around.

        Lotico made his way around a corner and toward the rear wall, where he came face-to-face with a rack of translucent crystals in a number of different colors: red, blue, green, yellow, even white… but the one that called out to him the way Sebben's holocron had just minutes earlier was an opaque, shimmering black. "Kyber," Lotico whispered to no one.

        "Who's there?" the Curator's voice called from the entrance, and the light that slowly filled the room in front of him told Lotico that his gruff, no-nonsense supervisor had begun swinging open the door that he must have found ajar. Lotico didn't know how long he'd been staring vacantly at the crystals, but he instantly regained his bearings and ducked under a workbench littered with timeworn tapestries, pulling one of the tattered cloths down to cover his hiding spot.

         "If there's anyone in here, show yourself now," bellowed the Curator sternly. "And if you're the one who made off with that Talker Droid last year, prepare to be brought swiftly to Imperial justice." The clanking footsteps of the ill-natured man’s mechno-chair echoed through the chamber as he approached the corner where Lotico had turned away from the first row. From behind the dangling edge of the tapestry, Lotico watched as the Curator and his chair came into view. In his hand, the man held the unmistakable blue cube Sebben had shown Lotico in the adjacent room.

        Lotico's eyes widened at this realization. He steeled himself and stood up, pushing away his concealment. "Where's Sebben?" Lotico shouted. "And why are you putting that in here?" He started to walk aggressively toward the Curator.

        "I– what?" The Curator tucked the holocron behind the back of his chair. "What do you know about Sebben Nence? She's been off-world for years."

        "She came back today, and you know that. You have her holocron."

        "I know nothing of the sort," the Curator snarled, though he was clearly beginning to lose his cool. "Now report to my office for disciplinary action."

        "Where is she?" Lotico had had enough, and he ducked around to the backside of the mechno-chair to grab at the holocron, but the Curator snatched it away at the last second.

        "Child, you know nothing of holocrons or anything else in this galaxy. You are nothing. Come here!" He swung the chair around deftly and grabbed Lotico by the collar in an effort to drag him out of the secret room.

        As Lotico struggled to free himself, out of nowhere came a loud boom from outside. The walls of the room rattled and dust shook free all around them, causing the Curator to momentarily loosen his grip. Lotico shook himself free and made a run for it. As he dashed his way through the exhibits and out through the museum's front entrance, he noticed a clattering, tinkling sound coming from the right pocket of his work pants. He paused at the top of the museum steps for a moment to reach in and discover that in his trance-like haze he had taken several of the Kyber crystal from the rack in the secret chamber, including the remarkably alluring black one.

        Remembering he had no time to waste, he stuffed the crystals into one of the front pockets of his satchel and hustled down the stairs, but as soon as he reached the bottom level he heard another familiar voice shouting out to him. "Lotico! Where have you been?!?" yelled Gald as he ran up to his friend. "I've been trying to raise you on your datapad!"

        Lotico glanced down at his satchel, breathing heavily. "I had it set to silent! Have you seen Sebben?"

        "No, is she back from the Outer Rim?" Gald shook his head and waved away the question as though it was irrelevant. "More importantly, did you hear what happened? The emperor's been assassinated!"

        "What?" said Lotico, still gasping for breath.

        "And his statue has been toppled in Monument Plaza! Come see."

        "Stop right there!" called the Curator from the top of the steps. "Security, I've found the boy with another outside the entrance," he shouted into his comlink. "You there!" He yelled, indicating Gald. "Grab that recruit and bring him to me!"

        "Let's go!" Lotico yelled to Gald over the steadily growing noise what sounded like cheers coming from a distance.

        "Wait, we can't disobey an order," Gald fought back, standing his ground and preparing to climb the steps.

        "We can now," Lotico countered. "I'll explain on the way." But Gald still hesitated, looking back up at the Curator, whose mechno-chair was attempting to maneuver its way down the steps toward them. "Trust me. Please," Lotico pleaded.

        "Okay," said Gald, and they bolted off together toward Monument Square, the Curator bellowing after them. "See?" he continued as they rounded the corner a few blocks away. "Palpatine is dead. There’s been another Death Star explosion. It's all over the holonet."

        "Then the Empire is dead, too," Lotico replied, out of breath once again. He grabbed Gald by the shoulders. "We need to get off-planet. It's not safe for us here. Not anymore."

        "What? Where would we go?" his friend and now-ex-roommate answered, almost in a state of panic.

        "I don't know," Lotico thought for a few beats as the crowd in the square grew around them, some booing in anger, but the vast majority of them cheering. Imperial officers and stormtroopers were starting to emerge from the palace at the square's center, and Lotico didn't want to be around to find out what happened when they started clashing with the exuberant horde. "We should get to the Outer Rim as soon as possible. Maybe to Batuu."

        "Batuu?" Gald looked more dumbfounded than Lotico had ever seen the highly intelligent teen. "Why Batuu?"

        Lotico finally caught his breath and issued a final, determined sigh out through his nose. "Something Sebben said to me today."

        "I don't understand– you saw Sebben today? Where is she?"

        "I don't think she made it. And I don't think we can ever go back to that museum."

        "But we don't know anyone on Batuu. If the Empire is falling, I'm going back to my parents on Hosnian Prime. It'll be safe there."

        "Gald…" Lotico looked his friend in the eye. "Okay. But I'm going to Batuu. I owe it to Sebben. I'm going to find this Dok-Ondar, and I'm going to learn more about the Jedi."

        Gald looked like he was considering his friend's decision for a second, then looked back up at Lotico. "Then may the Force be with you."

        "We'll see," said Lotico, and he turned around to fight his way through the crowd toward the spaceport.

        "Wait!" cried Gald, and as Lotico spun back around he could see that his friend's arm was outstretched. In his hand he held the goggles he was wearing the first time they met. "These will help you on your journeys."

        "Thank you," said Lotico as he accepted the gift, patted Gald on the shoulder as tears began welling in his eyes and headed off through the ever-more-agitated throng. He passed the downed statue of Palpatine and gave it one last look, thinking about the miniature version of the effigy he had sent to his parents as a memento two years earlier. The Empire wasn't what he'd learned it was, or even what he'd thought it was. It was something else entirely. And now it would be gone. Who or what would rise up to replace it? It didn't matter too much to Lotico, because he was headed to a part of the galaxy where the influence of very few governments had ever reached.

ONE YEAR LATER

        Lotico took an antique Ewok staff down from a high shelf in Dok-Ondar's shop, and climbed back down the ladder to show it to the Mon Calamari customer who'd requested to examine it. "And how much did you say he was asking?" inquired the Mon Calamari. Lotico looked up at Dok's usual spot behind the fence-like grating that separated the persnickety Ithorian from the rabble that came through Black Spire's marketplace on an average day, but the seat was still vacant.

        "I believe it was eight thousand credits," murmured Lotico, mentally crossing his fingers that he had come up with the correct price. Otherwise it would be coming out of his measly stock-clerk's salary if the customer wound up underpaying.

        "Too rich for my blood, even if it is green," the Mon Calamari grumbled with a snort, and went on to browse around the rest of the store.

        Lotico clambered his way back up the ladder again, and was replacing the staff when he heard the familiar ringing of the bell that indicated Dok-Ondar had returned through the Den of Antiquities' rear entrance. And sure enough, a few seconds later the two-meter tall Ithorian ambled through the line of beads that separated the shop's public area from the inventory room.

        "Any luck this time?" Lotico asked Dok, who looked over at him and grunted an obvious "no."

        "What was it you were looking for again?" followed up Lotico. "I'd love to help in your research on this item before you head back out, if you'd permit me." which inspired Dok-Ondar to reach for his translator collar. After affixing it around his neck, the entrepreneurial Ithorian rumbled out a series of his species' guttural phrases through the mouths on either side of his neck.

        The collar, which beeped to life as soon as Dok-Ondar began speaking, translated the sentence as: "I suppose it's time you learned the legend of the Prime Jedi's lightsaber."

TO BE CONTINUED