Title: Gunray's Redemption
Fandom: Star Wars
Categories: Gen, PG, Semi-AU
Disclaimer: Star Wars and all characters, locations, ect. remain the property of George Lucas. No copyright infringment is intended.
Summary: Five years after Revenge of the Sith, Nute Gunray tries to make a difference for the better.
A week ago, a Star Destroyer had left hyperspace and entered orbit of Nar Shaddaa, the crime-ridden smuggler's moon. The entire system was on edge - a world of criminals, now terrified by the arrival of the authorities. Tensions had only grown when it was revealed the Imperial warship was under the personal command of the Sith lord Darth Vader. But so far, the warship had done nothing - and everyone on the moon had a theory as to what its real mission was.
"Vader wouldn't come out this far just to show the flag." A Sullustan said. "And if he wanted to intimidate the Hutts, why isn't he at Nal Hutta? He's here for the same reason anyone comes to Nar Shaddaa - to hire someone. Bounty hunters, maybe, for a special job."
"Right, like a Sith Lord needs to hire people to do his killing for him." A Twi'lek pilot scoffed. "Only thing that would bring Vader here is the same thing that brought him to half a dozen outer rim worlds in the last year - he's after another Jedi. Some idiot with a light sabre's probably been hiding out in the undercity since the clone wars and now the Dark Lord's here to finish him off - and I wish him good luck! Damn Jedi cause nothing but trouble."
At that, the Sullustan drew a knife, demanding an apology, shouting something about one of his cousins having been a Jedi knight. The Twi'lek drew her own weapon, hissing that Jedi had killed her parents in the war, while the bartender droid moved forward to try and separate the two - or at least minimise the damage they caused.
A Neimoidian quietly rose from his seat. Not caring how the bar fight ended, he made his way out of the building. He knew he had only a little time left - a few more days to live, if he was lucky. The Twi'lek had been almost right with her theory - there were only a few things that would bring Vader to the smuggler's moon. One was a surviving Jedi. The other was a surviving Separatist leader.
Nute Gunray smiled slightly. Vader might have finally tracked him down - but he'd eluded the dark lord for five years. He'd learned some tricks from the Naboo - a decoy had gone in his place to Mustafar, to negotiate peace with the Republic alongside the other separatist leaders. None of them had ever returned. A year later the Trade Federation's assets were nationalised, and Cato Neimoidia placed under Imperial occupation. Most of Gunray's family had died in Imperial custody - or vanished. The newly crowned Emperor was asserting his authority most firmly on those worlds that had rebelled against the Republic.
Gunray still had nightmares about the Emperor - terrible dreams where the hooded figure of Darth Sidious gave him new orders, and he helplessly obeyed. Dreams where Darth Maul and Count Dooku cut down his friends and allies as they stared accusingly at him, their dead eyes demanding to know why he had been spared when they had perished. Nightmares of mazes and labyrinths where every pathway lead to destruction.
He had committed terrible crimes, he knew. The invasion of Naboo, that was his responsibility, caused entirely by his greed and ambition. But it was not Naboo that gave him nightmares; he had long since accepted his mistakes in that debacle. What haunted him was what had come afterward, when he tried to atone for his crimes, to free the Republic from the influence of the hidden Sith conspiracy, only to find he had been the puppet of Palpatine all along.
Sometimes he wondered if his survival and escape into hiding had somehow been planed by Palpatine, if he was somehow fulfilling some secret Imperial plot just by hiding in Hutt space. It was a paranoid thought, but one he couldn't shake...
"I heard you were asking about me." A gravely voice spoke, interrupting Gunray's reflections.
The Rodian was known only as 'The Courier'. If you wanted something delivered, anywhere in the galaxy, he could get it there - even to worlds under Imperial blockade. With an Imperial Star Destroyer in orbit, he was the only reliable way to get items off Nar Shaddaa.
"I have an item - a set of data-chips." Gunray said. "I need them delivered to an individual on Coruscant - without being detected by the authorities before they reach their destination."
"Going to be expensive." The Courier nodded. "Going to have to be extra if you want to avoid Imperial interception - getting past them here's going to be hard enough, but Coruscant's got more Imp patrols than the spice mines of Kessel."
"I was assured that you could achieve it, however." Gunray said, handing the Courier the data-chips. "The blue one is for you - it contains details of a bank account on Nal Hutta that contains your payment, as well as the identity and location of the individual you are to give the other chips to on Coruscant. The other chips are encrypted and will erase themselves if you try and access them."
"Alright, assuming your payment clears, looks like we've got a deal." The Rodian nodded, satisfied. "We shall not speak again."
Gunray watched the Courier disappear into the lower levels of the city, a weight lifting from his shoulders for the first time in five years.
He may have been a pawn of the Sith for almost his entire life, but there were things even they did not know. He and Rune Haako had spent almost a decade trying to hunt down and expose Darth Sidious after the invasion of Naboo, and he had spent much of that time secretly preparing for a confrontation with the Sith Lord. When the Clone Wars erupted, he placed most of his resources at the disposal of the Separatist Council, but there were a few things he held back as insurance against betrayal by his new allies - weapons caches hidden on outer rim worlds, warships stationed in the interstellar void where no-one would ever stumble across them unless they knew their exact location, automated droid factories in systems uncharted by the Republic.
When it had become clear that the charismatic human Count he had allied with was but another agent of Sidious, Gunray had hoped to use his secret resources to eliminate Dooku and his supporters, but the opportunity never came. After the Clone Wars, Gunray had considered using his resources to rebuild the Confederacy army and launch a new assault even Palpatine could not predict. But his secret army was too small, and he knew no one would rally to his banner; not after Palpatine had poisoned the minds of the galaxy against the Separatist cause. For five years he had kept the data chips containing the location of his secret caches, wondering if the time would ever come that he could make use of them to end the Sith nightmare that he had allowed to be unleashed on the galaxy.
It had been just before the Star Destroyer had arrived that Gunray had finally found a way his information could be used. Arms dealers were common on Nar Shaddaa; many of them had fallen on hard times after the end of the Clone Wars. He'd struck up a conversation with one in a bar on the lower levels who had said that she had a new client on Coruscant - an aide to the senator for Corella. After much arguing, and a great deal of money changing hands, she'd finally agreed to give him the aide's name and the encryption code she'd given the Corellian for use in discussing future deliveries.
What had caught Gunray's attention was what the Corellian had asked for. The arms dealer said she could only provide small arms, personal weapons - but the Corellian had wanted military grade equipment - heavy blasters, battle droids, even starfighters and corvettes. Gunray knew there was an underground resistance against the Emperor's New Order brewing, and he was sure the Corellian was an agent of theirs; the senator for Corellia was one of the loudest voices speaking out against Imperial rule, and one of his aides trying to purchase black market military equipment was too unusual to be a coincidence. It was a gamble, Gunray knew. The Corellian could just as easily be an Imperial agent, or the rebellion another puppet of the Emperor, as the Separatists had been.
In the end, Gunray had decided he had no choice. If there was even a chance his hidden forces could be used against the Empire, he had to take it. The hidden ships were few, but they were enough for a single system or two to challenge the Empire. Even a single victory against the Imperial navy could be enough to spark rebellion across a thousand worlds - he was sure that as long as the possibility of victory existed in people's minds, they would rally to the cause of freedom. He would atone for his crimes and mistakes by returning hope to the galaxy.
Nute Gunray, last Viceroy of the Trade Federation held his head high as he made his way back to the small apartment where he'd lived his last five years in exile. Soon, he knew, Darth Vader would come for him, and he would meet his death at the hands of the Dark Lord, as his friends and allies had five years before at Mustafar. He had no regrets. He had tried to save the galaxy, and perhaps he had been the cause of many of its ills, but he had always done what he thought was right. The Emperor might have manipulated him for years, but he had never made Gunray act against his conscience.
That night, Gunray slept soundly for the first time in years, untroubled by dreams of the Sith.