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Resignation of Fate


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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:14 PM | #1
((A fair warning to anyone just starting this story, it is literally a book of over 70 thousand words and the equivalent of about 200 pages. However, if you continue onwards from this point with that in mind, you will not be disapointed with the actual story itself. The Story is 100% complete, and 100% up, so go ahead and read it all!))







Resignation of Fate








Chapter One




The crowds thronging the sides of the auditorium chanted, “Bring out the slaves! Bring out the slaves!” Even the buyers who had travelled from all over the galaxy found themselves caught up in it. Although the vast majority in the hutt controlled building were just curious onlookers, interested in what was being auctioned today, security was tight and they didn’t allow anyone who wasn’t a buyer onto the main floor. And few would argue with a group of the pig like Gamorreans, wielding two-handed axes at the entrance.

The whole building was circular, open to the sky, and dilapidated. Its original function was probably a sports arena during more prosperous times. Now it was used as an auction house; with slaves being its main attraction.

Since it was alleged to be exotic human type slaves today, the street rabble still came to get a peak anyway they could. When they were finally brought out and paraded along the platform, the place grew silent; the buyers who were closest were busily looking over the goods. Led by a rather large green Gamorrean with a hefty axe in hand, the slaves were chained at the wrists, and ankles, as well as to each other in a line. Around their necks they wore thick old tech shock collars, which tended to keep even the bravest in order.

Among the first to be auctioned were four Humans and a Wookie. And when the silver protocol droid began the bidding, the crowd erupted with thunderous noise again. Beyond the auctioning platform there was a large dome cage, where most of the slaves were kept in holding until their line was brought out. These were guarded by more Gamorreans and a few Weequay.

Watching the whole thing from a small platform much higher up, was a figure in a brown robe with the face hidden by her hood. She had been there since before everyone flooded into the building, watching it all unfold. Behind this figure, another approached. His hair was kept short and blonde, his body athletically muscular, and he was somewhat taller than her. His outfit was simple, though accenting his figure. Heavy black boots, brown pants, a black t-shirt, and a brown leather vest. On his right waist was a pistol in a much worn holster.

Coming to stand next to the robed figure he looked at her, “It’s all in place. Now we just wait and follow while my team takes care of it.” His voice had an unknown accent that she couldn’t put her finger on.

She glanced at him for a moment. His gray-blue eyes seemed so sure and focused, yet she detected something he was hiding. His weather worn features told of spending a lot of time on the surface of some wind worn world. He wasn’t handsome by any means but there was something there that had always told her that deep down he had a good heart; though by his profession you’d never know it. “This place is disgusting,” was her only reply.

“The whole moon is like this; slaving, extortion, murder, stealing from your own mother. That kind of thing is normal here.”

“How do you know the right buyer will take him.”

“Burke has a thing for exotic humans so he’ll want him for sure. Heck, few have seen his kind even here on Nar Shaddaa. That and I’ve bribed an advertiser to mention the fact that this auction will have a Chiss, and no Chiss had ever been taken as a slave on this world before. Though that is a little white lie because I have no idea, but they won’t know or care about that part.”

“You better be right. This is too much of a risk if he’s caught. I mean we aren’t dealing with a small time criminal here. This is The Exchange.”

“Don’t worry, Kaida. I’ve got it all covered. I’ve got a person down there that will raise the bid just to make sure Burke’s man takes the bait.”

She turned to face him, “I can’t believe I’ve paid you for this.”

“Do you have a choice? Who else can get you the holocron?”

“The fact that I don’t have much contact with your kind doesn’t mean you’re the only one who can do it. It’s a big galaxy.”

“A Jedi and a criminal aren’t usually seen chumming together. Even on this bantha spit.”

She sighed, “Tarko, this isn’t chumming; this is more like a Jedi turning to desperation.”

“You spared me. It’s no life debt for sure, but well . . . you spared me when my crewmates and I probably didn’t deserve it. But it’s done and that’s why I’ve agreed to help you. Remember that.”

“I felt I had to pay you something for this.”

“The money you gave me barely covers the fuel to come out here, let alone the contacts we needed to bribe for information. And don’t forget all the time and risk my team had to spend slicing just to find out who had it. Normally I’d charge a hundred times the amount you gave for a job like this.”

“You do jobs like this?”

“Blast no. This is crazy.”

“Then why’d you really agree to do it Mandalorian?”

The blonde man scratched his chin as he watched the bidding frenzy below end, and the slaves sent back to their cages to be picked up after the auction was over. When a new line of slaves was brought to the platform for the next round, he decided he had the right answer for her, “Because Blue wanted to do it once he heard about the Jedi Holocron. And only my father was Mandalorian, I don’t count myself as one.”

“Tarko, why is he interested in the holocron?”

“I don’t know. Chiss are a mysterious bunch aren’t they? Never know what they’re thinking. Blast, I’m lucky if Blue says one thing to me during the day. But when your job came up, he was talkative all of a sudden.”

“Strange. How well do you know him?”

Tarko shrugged slightly, “Six months maybe. He came in on a job for me when we needed someone to infiltrate this seedy club to get the goods stolen from a sleazy real-estate developer on Coruscant. Core slime, all of them. I spit on their crooked ways.”

She smiled, “So says the criminal for hire.”

“So says the criminal for hire.” Watching in silence for a bit before he spoke again, “Blue is the best I’ve seen. He’s got to be about the best actor, quick thinking, great with a blaster, especially a scoped one. He’s gotten me out of more trouble than I can count. And my math skills are pretty good,” he grinned.

“You trust him?”

“Only with my life.”

* * * * *

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:15 PM | #2
Watching the next line of slaves ordered out and the gate slammed behind them, Jion remained calm and composed. There were no guards inside the giant circular cage, but outside there were many. Still, even though he didn’t plan to escape just yet, it was comforting that he had an easy out anytime he wanted to, so long as no one was watching. He kept an eye on his surroundings just in case he needed to do some on the spot improvisation however. Easy out or not, this was quite dangerous; though through a lifetime of dedicated training, fear didn’t come into the equation. Now all his experience would be needed to act the part of a downcast slave in order to succeed in his task. Because the last thing a Chiss could ever imagine, was to become a slave to some moactan teel.

So beaten were their egos, the other slaves in his line hadn’t even looked him in the eyes since entering the auditorium. Jion had complied without a struggle when he was handed over by his team to the local Hutt slaver. Though a few shockings were still in order just to show every slave who was in charge. As painful as they were, he had endured much worse back home.

After several more lines were brought out, his was up next. And when he stepped onto the platform he instinctively tried shielding his eyes from the bright lights, but his chains prevented it. As he turned to look away instead, he noticed that the crowd had grown silent once again.

Oh, he knew it couldn’t be because of the Mandalorian slaves in his line, nor the green Rodian, or the pale female Rattataki. Those weren’t all that uncommon. It was him. He could feel all those eyes staring. It was his color of course, and the fact that his kind was relatively unknown; especially as a slave. Chiss were supposed to be a proud and intelligent people, with a knack for not only staying out of galactic affairs, but hiding their existence from the rest of the galaxy entirely.

Upon looking to his right, he could see the brow beaten Mandalorians at the end of the chain line, and how they attempted to stand and look proud. Their faces were heavily scarred, and Jion assumed that it wasn’t just from their constant need for war, and more likely stemmed from requiring lessons that their shock collars wouldn’t provide. And accordingly, they appeared less than what their warrior reputation would have them be. They knew their fate was inevitable and didn’t seem to relish it, since they would most likely be sold off to some private or planetary gladiatorial ring. At least there they would fight to the death as befitted their culture.

Yet what allegedly awaited him would be worse, and he was certainly dressed for it. That more than anything was the most difficult thing to accept with this play acting. Though he believed himself more than capable of surviving for a time in a gladiator circuit, but because his kind was so rarely caught and sold like this, as well as being young, and in top physical shape, they touted him as a pleasure slave. They gave him something to wear around his waist, but he was bare-chested and felt a little uncomfortable at being exposed like this just to attract some lonely buyer. Except, it was worse than that, because if all went to plan then he would be sold off to be part of Ra’teren Burke’s harem. If the rumors were true, he was a sick, depraved Human if ever there was one.

But morality didn’t come into play in this. His mission did, and like it or not, a Jedi holocron was on his target list. Not just any one, but one in particular that was highly sought after; though the hard part might be getting it away from the Jedi who gave them this job once he finally retrieved it. Regardless, his luck couldn’t have been better getting a lead on its whereabouts since it had changed hands so many times recently.

The opening bid for Jion was placed high, and few amongst them could be bothered at that price. Though they used a datapad to place their bids, these last three buyers felt the need to announce their bid, as they set it in, in an attempt to feel smugger about upping their competition. The price was set on a screen right next to him, and it was already up to forty thousand credits after only a few bids. And just from the sound of her voice, Jion knew one of those bidding for him. It was Neren trying to drive up the price so he’d be even more noticeable and worthy or pursuit, and at the same time drown out the other competitors, just so Burke’s agent would be the last bidder. On top of rarity, Burke favored a high price for his harem. It was all about prestige.

Camren Veras, the man working for Burke was well known, and always traveled with two bodyguards. Even though Burke was based on Nar Shaddaa as a district crime boss for the exchange, he only traveled in a heavily armed ship to and from his home. Where he resided, was a place totally unknown. Tarko followed him several times in his own ship only to lose him in the tall buildings, or to once have his vessel flip around and turn its guns on him. Since then they gave up on following, and instead relied on subtler means.

When the bidding got up to eighty thousand, and Burke’s agent was the only competition, Neren gave in and left making an overly poignant scene on her way out. Now pleased with himself, Camren and his bodyguards waited till the auction was over and went to collect the prize for his master.

As he was brought to his buyer, Jion could feel the man practically drooling over him. He made a brief bow to show respect, but wasn’t about to supplicate himself to this thing. He cringed inside as the man had him turn around in a circle to display his body.

“Fine, this will be most fine. Your kind resembles humans to exactness; except for the blue colouring of course. Mr. Burke will be most pleased I should think,” as he looked to his datapad and tapped a few keys. “Says you’re name is Atell. No last name?”

Jion glared at him out of the corner of his eyes. The human male was skinny, and had a tanned shade of skin, with a noticeable hooked nose. His hair was a dusky brown with white tips. His glaring, deep set dark eyes made Jion feel like he was peeling away his exterior and gorging on the insides. He could feel that the man wanted him, and it was most uncomfortable to be treated in a manner like this. He shut down emotionally and continued to play his part as the willing sex slave; for now at least. He cleared his throat and deliberately spoke softly, “Chiss names are difficult for outsiders to pronounce, so we shorten them. Atell is my name.”

“Then that will do,” he motioned for his guards. “We’re going now.”

Led away, the last thought Jion had before leaving the auditorium was that his team better come through for him on this. The only consolation was that he wasn’t completely powerless, since he did have hidden tools on his body that had gotten past both the hutt slavers and this Camren Veras. Yet, if all failed and he was stuck as a sex slave, he didn’t think he’d be able to deal with that.

* * * * *

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:16 PM | #3
“Now we wait, and be ready for when Blue sends us his location,” said Tarko as he sat back in his chair in the lounge of his ship.

Kaida took a seat close to him but she was anything but comfortable here. This ship currently under the name Vesper, though not exactly top of the line or in good repair, was known for criminal activity within the Republic. That and the crew who weren’t the same Tarko had with him a few years back, were neither friendly nor very savory looking. “So what have you been up to these last few years Tarko Jornaa?” she said trying to feel more at ease. She lowered her hood revealing her long auburn hair done in a pony tail. Her eyes, the color of a deep blue ocean scanned Tarko as if trying to detect anything amiss.

“I could ask you the same thing Kaida,” he said with a grin. He always grinned like that, and she guessed he thought it was charming, but it actually bordered on the side of obnoxious. Still, it was part of Tarko’s charm. Along with his accent, he’d break out in a funny order of words when excited. She remembered that used to make her laugh sometimes, and that she used to try to hide it.

A flicker in his eyes again told her that he knew something, and she gave a faint smile in return. “The Jedi Order always keeps its members busy.”

“So does my job. But I can see you want to know if I’ve gotten in worse over the years. No, I’m afraid it’s still theft, extortion, and bribery; we work for this group or that, depending on the money and jobs. Yet smuggling pays most of the bills. So have no fears, and relax my Kaida. All is well,” again he displayed his rather unpleasant looking grin.

Yortor, a reptile like Trandoshan came to the table on the other side of the room with a mug in each hand, and after setting one down he passed the other to Tarko. Kaida watched him, leery of his species because of past experiences with them. His scaly yellow skin and long arms that ended in claws were unnerving, although through the force she felt nothing threatening.

“You see,” said Tarko with a hand pointing at Yortor. “You ask for something to drink here, and you get a nice ale. Things aren’t so terrible in this life. We get paid pretty well for the jobs we do,” he took a quick swig, “and we don’t hurt anyone too bad. The ones we do are mostly other scoundrels out to harm people anyway.”

“But sometimes you do get involved with hurting innocents.”

He drank deeply from his mug before speaking again, “You should try this stuff. We lifted a whole crate from this warehouse on . . . ,” he looked at her, paused, and then laughed to himself. Pointing at Kaida now, “I sometimes forget that I’m in the presence of a Jedi.” He sank back into his chair and continued drinking.

She shook her head and sighed, “Thank you but Jedi don’t drink.”

Yortor said something in his language from the table, while staring at her with his eerie horizontally slit eyes. She gathered that he claimed to know otherwise.

From the entrance to the room rushed Neren who held onto the door frame with one hand to steady herself, and her shoulder long brown hair flew to the side. “They’ve left. We need to get ready.” Neren looked over at Kaida sitting in the chair. “Is she coming with us or not?”

Neren was a tall and lanky woman, several centimeters taller than herself. From just meeting her the day before, Kaida didn’t need the force to tell her that Neren didn’t approve of her being here. Yet the importance of the item she sought outweighed any discomfort. “If your captain will let me,” she said staring at Neren.

Quickly finishing his mug, he went and put it on the table, “Then it’s agreed. I was going to invite her anyway. It’s rude to keep a Jedi waiting, and Tarko Jornaa is not one to be rude.” Neren disappeared from view without a word, and Tarko motioned for Kaida to follow him. Come, we will make preparations to ready the Vesper and be gone in a moment’s notice.”

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:17 PM | #4
Chapter Two



From his cell, Jion waited out the twenty minute trip. But there was no jump to light speed, so he assumed that either they remained on Nar Shaddaa, or there was the more unlikely possibility of it being Nal Hutta; though he couldn’t imagine an exchange officer living in a place so dominated by the competition. The guards who brought him out of his cell were human, as were all the members of Burke’s staff that he’d seen so far. It was a rumor that the man disliked creatures too alien looking for his pleasure harem; but oddly liked every human type from each and every culture in the galaxy. Jion gathered that this extended to his staff as well. Though he had also heard the turnover rate for them was high, as well as seeming to have the need for someone new to add to his harem every week or two.

That was where the rumors of the man’s depravity sprang from. Apparently few slaves lasted long enough to survive the place. What was said he did to them, Jion would rather not contemplate at the moment.

During his jaunt off the ship and into the bay of the base, Jion noticed that he had been treated relatively gently by the guards compared to what he assumed a normal slave would experience. Eventually it dawned upon him that their boss probably didn’t want any bruises on the merchandise. Though being blue skinned tended to severally mitigate those.

Camren led Jion to a large room somewhere deep within the installation. Inside were another male and two females seemingly in the middle of setting up a bed along with a cart full of sheets and nightwear next to it. They were all human, and the women were dressed provocatively. Jion stood there with his jaw agape for a second before remembering himself.

“This is where you will be staying Atell. The accommodations will be cozy, and the head of services will teach you how to act around Mr. Burke. Plus the girls will show you how to pleasure him. The rest is up to you to learn on your own.”

Surprised at the accommodations with his roommates, he said, “I see.”

When Camren and his two guards left, the male who had been busy setting the mattress down on the bed turned to Jion and said, “And I am the head of services. I would like you to call me master, but that would sound like I’m above Mr. Burke wouldn’t it.” Jion noticed the two women looked to one another and slightly shook their head, as if they had heard his opening speech one too many times. “No one here is above Mr. Burke. Know that, and that will make this very simple.”

Jion took a deep breath. The pleasant fantasy of having two attractive women teaching him how to pleasure someone went only so far when he remembered that he would have a master to perform on. With that in mind, he had to get out of this place as quickly as possible or he was going to be looking for a quick way to end his own life. This was a disgrace for a Chiss, especially one such as him to endure.

“This will be your bed. There are two large closets here, one male and one female where all your bedroom attire will be found. Mr. Burke has preferences, and often times he will want certain clothing to be worn before visiting him. He will often be alone or sometimes have friends attending. You may be called to him by yourself, or with any of the three others who normally sleep here. Upset him, and he may conclude your services; which is a nice way of saying, thrown out an airlock. Now remember, Mr. Burke has a wife on Nar Shaddaa, to which you must be . . . “

At this point Jion drowned out the rest of his speech by taking note of the room and how he was going to escape it. The ceiling was high at about three meters. There was a metal door that had an electronic locking mechanism on the opposite end of the room from where he entered. He counted four beds including his own, with unoccupied space for three times that number. There was a lavatory and a sink in the corner of the room, which was closed off with a screen two meters high for a little privacy. Above the washroom was a camera that was in a perfect position to get the whole room except for what was right underneath it.

When his lecture was finished a few minutes later, Jion had been ordered to rest for the evening, even though it was midday on Nar Shaddaa when he’d boarded the ship. In this place they went by Mr. Burke’s time. The next morning his shock collar would come off and a tracking chip would be placed under his skin. Then it would be time to learn his trade. So he showered, dressed in his given nightwear, and as the lights were dimmed, took to his bed. However, he wasn’t planning on any sleep.

During the middle of the night another person entered the room, washed up and then took the last bed. This is what Jion had been waiting for, and he pretended to slumber for approximately an hour so that the new person would be asleep, before slipping out of his bed and into action. He went straight for the washroom, closed the screen behind him, and while feigning to wash, touched a button on the underside of the shock collar. Counting down in his head, he quickly dried his hands on a towel and braced for the thirty second mark. A bright flash of light went off from the collar and he endured the full battery of the shock all at once, as it burned itself out sending a small electromagnetic wave that would disable the camera. The pain was excruciating and when he realized it was over, he released a deep breath.

There was no lingering pain however, it was just quick and over with. The fifth member of his team was named Kossj, and right now Jion mentally thanked him, for working by his side to create the special shock collar. The Chiss then quickly unlocked and removed the crude circular thing from his neck. Looking at the camera and hoping it was disabled before peaking out to see if any of the others were stirring, he saw no movement, or anyone looking back at him. He figured he’d have anywhere from a few seconds if the person monitoring the cameras was alert, to a few minutes if not.

Creeping across the room in his bedroom clothes, he made it to the electronically locked door and went to work opening it. On the inside of the collar, he picked out a mini EMP shielded datapad that was about thumb-sized. He had had an argument with Kossj about the necessity of such a thing, but in the end Jion won. Though it set back finishing the collar for a few weeks in order to create such a small shielded data pad that folded in two, and fit in snugly with the rest of the components.

Unfolding it, its display had a green light that he tried to hide from the others by covering it with his body. Tapping into the door mechanism, he then went to work to unlock it. After twenty seconds it was done, and the door clicked and slid all the way up to hide in the top part of the frame. Outside the room, the hallway was lit brightly enough, but there was no one there, nor were there any cameras that he could spot from his position. Realizing that the new light would wake everyone in the darkened room, he looked back to see if anyone was roused. Seeing movement in the farthest bed he stepped through to the other side of the door and then closed it the same way he had opened it with his datapad.

Free from the bed chamber now, he stalked silently along the corridor. The next intersection had doors at either end, but the hallway he was in continued forward to snake around the corner. Now he had to find a terminal to download the base schematics onto his datapad to guide him, because he had no idea which way to go. Slicing into a simple locked door was one thing, but slicing into the local main computer access, to search for directions would be quite another. And Jion was no master slicer. Though Kossj was and had created this datapad to help him do just that; nevertheless he would need to get close to a terminal to use it. In times like this, he wished he had a droid in tow.

Not knowing which one could be a closet or the guard’s barracks, he picked the door on the right. It opened upon his approach just as a brawny armed guard was stepping out. His eyes went wide when seeing Jion, and the Chiss charged towards him to wrestle the blaster rifle from his grip. Kneeing the guard in the center of his stomach, he made him lurch forward, and then with a free hand Jion gave him a swift uppercut to the neck, making him recoil backwards with a groan. Easily ripping the gun from his grasp, Jion turned it back on its owner and fired several shots.

Then, stepping over the corpse he went in to look around with his rifle at the ready. The room wasn’t anything special; in the center it had a large generator monitoring system that reached the ceiling, with computer controls for it at a desk on the far end. Turning around, he pulled the dead guard away from the door, and hid him from sight on the other side of the generator. Once there, he looked to his left and saw beyond a thick glass window into a very large room that held the main power to the base. This he could use, and was planning on finding this room. He didn’t want to leave any traces, and wanted to destroy the base once he had the holocron. With luck he had found this room first. When going up against the exchange, one didn’t leave any loose ends unless they intended on living a very short life.

Although he wanted to, he couldn’t shut off the stations power since he still needed to get through it, and shutting off just the main power in order for the backups to kick in would alert everyone. So he thought of a better route. By slicing into the computer he could take control of it and remotely direct it from a distance. That is if no one came in here and found what he did, but that was a chance he was willing to risk. Since there were no cameras in here and most likely no one would be scheduled to work here in the middle of the night, it was doubtful that his modifications to the computer would be caught. Anyways, he planned to be out of this base as soon as possible, and that wouldn’t leave much time for his work to be discovered.

So Jion used his datapad to slice into the terminal and got to work. After five minutes he was happy with his alterations. The backups would not kick in if he turned off station access to main power. Upon retrieving the base schematics before he left, it showed him that he was in a very large facility. Even more odd was that it showed no way out except for the docking bays. This place wasn’t on the moon of Nar Shaddaa or even Nal Hutta then. So where could it be? Scanning the data he eventually concluded that it was completely isolated. It had to either be a space station or a base on an asteroid because it certainly wasn’t a large ship.

Regardless the job was essentially the same, get in, grab the item, get out and then blow the place up. Though he would need to take control of the security room and shut it all down first, otherwise he’d be hounded throughout the base if a shootout began. And most importantly, since neither he nor anyone on his team knew where he was, he needed to contact Tarko to get picked up.

Getting the layout of the base on his datapad, he found his target. The security room was down the long snaking corridor, and past a guard room. That would make it difficult with his current nightwear on. He turned to look at the dead guard behind him. Jion would need to take his clothes, and hope that he could get past any others without them spotting his blue skin, or the blaster scorch marks on the uniform. He almost thought it better to run through as he was, but if the outfit granted him a few seconds without being noticed, then that could be all he’d need.

Tightening the black pants around his waist, he donned the white shirt, along with a sleeveless black vest, and then stepped into the guards black leather boots. But upon looking at his reflection in the glass, Jion saw that the outfit was noticeably too big for him. It would have to do however. When he left the room, Jion felt much better now that he was armed, though the uniform and boots were overly large.

Surprised that the base hadn’t been alerted yet due to the camera being out in the bed chamber, and especially with his absence, he hurried down the passageway to his first goal. Opening the barracks door he didn’t stop to see if anyone was staring at him, and hurried to the exit on the far side. The room was full of bunk beds and about half of them were currently occupied. The light was thankfully subdued, but not enough that people couldn’t spot how out of place he was from close up.

When he was two meters from the door, one of the guards approached him and said, “Lerrick?” Ignoring him he passed through the door only to hear that name called once again. Fortunately the door behind closed and the guard hadn’t followed him through.

He was now in the security room, and he followed a ramp up to the next floor. There were three people at their desks here busy typing away on their data pads, and the camera monitors were on the wall above a large computer console that was currently unoccupied. Fate had been with him so far; however he knew not to relax until he was safely away with the holocron. Next to the top of the ramp was a lift which led to every floor in the base. That would take him to the holocron, if it was where he suspected it would be.

Going over to the computer console, he locked the door back into the guard room below, and sent off the message in the frequency chosen by Tarko to retrieve him at his new coordinates. The console showed that he was indeed on some asteroid in the outer reaches of the system. Interesting, he wondered if this had to do with their fight for criminal supremacy against the Hutt’s. Otherwise why would it be so far out of the way and hidden as it was?

A red flashing light along with a loud siren went off next to the computer. Jion sighed; he had forgotten to try to shut off the alarm if an unauthorized message was sent from the station. He grabbed the blaster he had set next to his chair and stood up. The three security guards had just gotten to their feet themselves, though clueless as to what set the alarm off. Each of them looked at the Chiss with the scorched holed uniform questioningly. Jion aimed the blaster at the closest one and began firing. He took two down in as many seconds, but the third had pulled out a pistol and was firing back. Jion leaped to the floor and began shooting at his legs. The guard dropped next to his desk while yelping in pain. Jion calmly came to stand over him.

He hesitated for a moment, and then said, “I’m sorry.” He fired at the man’s skull killing him instantly. Shaking his head slightly for a second, he hurried back over to the computer console and began scoring it with blaster fire to prevent anyone from using it to track him throughout the station. The console exploded with sparks and a small fire started that consumed the inside. The alarm then died along with the computer which set the room into an eerie quiet. Taking one of the communication devices that was wrapped around one of the guards wrists, he keyed into the frequency to contact the Vesper. The device was only short range, not like the console that used the full power of the station. He knew he couldn’t speak to Tarko until they were closer, but he hoped they would get here soon. Before he left the room, he decided to take one of the blaster pistols just in case. He tucked it into the back of his belt on his right side.

Next, he entered the lift while wondering what the security guards had been doing if not watching over the base. It seemed suspicious to him, but then he was aware that criminal organizations ran the gamut when it came to efficiency. For all he knew the three of them were on their datapads and talking to some girl in a Nar Shaddaa chat room.

Taking the lift from level three up to the highest point which was level eight, Jion felt a slight disturbance that his training had taught him to be aware of. Exiting the lift onto another long corridor that snaked around a corner beyond his sight, his datapad guided him to a room just before its end. As he traveled past many doors to either side of the hallway, he felt it quite suspicious that if this was Mr. Burkes room ahead that this level wasn’t full of security. At the last bend he peaked around the rounded corner and spied two guards standing right next to the entrance to Mr. Burke’s private quarters; though it wouldn’t be that difficult to take them down since both guards were currently occupied in a conversation.

Again, suspicious of just how easy it had been, he pulled back to figure out a course of action. Coming up with something simple, Jion ran around the corner with his two-handed blaster waving high in the air and yelled, “We have intruders in the security room! Come, we need to gather everyone so we can take it back!” The guards bought it and left their post, bolting past Jion. As soon as they had gone a meter beyond him, he turned his weapon on them and fired. Grabbing the pass card from around one of their necks he placed it around his.

The door to Mr. Burke’s room opened without issue now that he had a card, and Jion stalked inside, ready for anything. It was quiet except for the low hum of the station, that and very dark. However, Chiss had the ability to see well even in low light environments, even so, there were no lights on at all besides a few console lights in the very far corner of the room. So the best he could see was just a meter in front of him. The place smelled of exotic perfumes, and the flooring was very soft and plush, like it was thickly carpeted. Doing his best not to stumble into anything and wake up the room’s owner, he moved slow. Eventually he came to a set of cushioned stairs and climbed them cautiously. Once at the top a small light came on and Jion froze. Sitting up in a very large bed was Camren Veras. He had just pulled back from flipping on the light and was watching him, but Jion could tell that he had taken the Human by surprise.

“You . . . what are you doing here?” he said in an irritable but commanding voice.

“Hello Mr. Burke,” said Jion casually as he aimed the rifle at him and fired several shots. His body was shoved to the headboard and his head slumped forward. Jion strode over to make sure the man was truly dead and found that he most definitely was; especially considering the large hole that was still steaming in the middle of his chest. He supposed since no one really had any knowledge of what the real Mr. Burke looked like, if there really was such a person, Camren must have been him. Though at this point he neither knew, nor really cared if his real name was Ra’teren Burke or Camren Veras. Perhaps neither; but all that mattered was that he was dead. Not feeling the least bit of guilt, since Mr. Burke was well known for murder, slavery, and sadistic sex harems, Jion turned his attention to finding the holocron.

Besides the various pillows everywhere, there was also a bunch of large bizarre sex machines on the floor near the bed, and sadomasochistic gear hanging from the walls, with no small amount of chains and whips strewn about. He supposed he’d just missed the party. Beyond all that, he quickly spotted a large safe in the middle of the wall on the other side of the bed. Stepping over to it, he pulled out his datapad and went to work to get it open. It took him a few minutes but by this point he wasn’t too worried since security here seemed abysmal; though it did cross his mind that he should at least search the rest of the room before trying to open the vault, since all he could see was darkness beyond the bed due to the limited light. And it seemed to be a very large room. Too late, before he knew it, he got it open and as the door slowly swung outwards his heart raced with anticipation.

There in the center of the safe was a holocron, though he couldn’t be sure if it was the holocron he had been looking for. He picked it up and held it in his hand while studying it. Through his limited training in the force, Jion did his best to activate it. If it truly were a Jedi holocron from a master, one who Jion was informed held dark secrets, then it would bar him from accessing it due to him not being of the appropriate skill level for a Jedi. He couldn’t do it, but he could feel the mind of the Jedi master that it had copied, test him. He’d been excluded without hesitation. Regardless, this was good news, and he was pleased.

Jion accessed the comlink at his wrist again, “Vesper, this is Blue do you copy?”

There was static as he waited for a response, and then all of a sudden Tarko’s voice came to life from his wrist, “Blue? You won the race?”

Smiling at the sound of his voice, Jion responded with, “Affirmative. Meet me in the parking lot. I can’t give you an exact ETA.”

“Copy, will do. See you shortly.”

Suddenly the room was brightly lit as if a whole host of lights were shined directly on him. Blinded for a moment, Jion covered his eyes with his left arm. It didn’t take him more than a second to realize he’d been set up. Calculating his next move, he placed the holocron at the tip of his rifle holding it hostage.

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:18 PM | #5
A male voice spoke, but it was directed at his comlink, “Cut all transmissions to and from the station.”

And then he heard a mature female voice, one which was cold and calculated, “There you have it Chiss. You have delivered everything right into my lap. You’ve taken care of my right hand that was scheming to kill me and take my place, and you’ve given me your band of thugs for hire. The lone Jedi, I will have my forces on Nar Shaddaa eliminate soon enough. The secrecy of my station’s position will remain secure, as well as will be my position within the exchange. And I will reap a fortune for the holocron.”

Jion cleared his throat, “Well I’m happy you’ve got everything going for you. If you’ll excuse me, I must be off.” The light was still too bright to see clearly beyond the bed area, though he assumed that the room had several guards with their blasters pointed at him.

“Don’t bother. You’re surrounded, and if you shoot the holocron you won’t live for very long I assure you. There is no getting out of here my blue friend,” she waved her hand and the lights were dimmed enough to see everyone better. She took a step towards Jion, “But where are my manners. I am the real Ra’teren Burke. And your real name is?”

He looked at her oddly, “But you’re a woman.”

She laughed, “My, everyone always falls for that. What a woman can’t have a harem? A taste for flesh such as mine is not restricted for men to enjoy only. A woman with power has to have a hobby too. Poor Camren here,” she looked at him for a second. “I promised him he’d have the blast of his life if he came to my bedchambers tonight. Well, just look at him now. It’s like I always say, I keep my promises. My promise to you is that no one sees my face and lives to tell about it.”

“I see, well in that case you can call me Atell.”

“Fine keep your name then.”

He studied her. She was a middle-aged highly attractive woman, with jet black hair, an aquiline nose, and high cheekbones along with a rounded jaw. Her piercing brown eyes spoke of authority and intelligence however, and he knew without a doubt that she wasn’t one to be trifled with under normal circumstances.

She talked into the comm at her wrist, “Commander, when the ship comes within range I want our fighters scrambled and all station defenses to fire on it.”

“Yes sir,” came the response a second later.

She turned back to face Jion and noticed him staring at her. Scowling, “Now that you’ve had a good look at me, take the holocron away from the tip of your blaster.” She motioned for one of the guards to approach him.

Jion knew her type, and how to manipulate her. She craved domination, and submission from potential partners. He gave her his most charming smile, “Wait. If you come and get it yourself, then I will give it to you without a fight.”

She hesitated, and the guard captain right behind her shook his head. Making up her mind she smiled coldly, “Fine. No tricks or funny business.”

“Oh I wouldn’t dream of it,” he smiled charismatically while counting the guards in the room with them. There were six in total. Four behind her and two that had taken up position by the door he came through.

When she got close enough Jion made his move, he threw the holocron up into the air to land on the bed next to him, while at the same time let go of his rifle to fall to the floor. He finished his move by grabbing Ra’teren and whirling around behind her, to then pull out his pistol from the back of his belt and pointing it at the side of her head. She hissed loudly, and Jion sensed her whole body tense as he held his arm across her neck. He held her forcefully as he moved her to turn around and face back towards her guards.

“I figured you’d take me more seriously if the tip of my blaster was right at your head instead,” he said calmly into her ear. Looking at the nearest guard he spoke loudly, “Now tell them to put their weapons down if they want a living crime boss by morning.”

She looked at her guard captain and said, “Do it.”

When Jion was satisfied that the guns were no longer pointed at him, he motioned for Ra’teren to retrieve the holocron off the bed. As she leaned over to do so, he kept his weapon pointed on her, and when she stood up with it in hand, he grabbed her and held his blaster to her head again. “Now, you call off your attack on my ship and then I’ll get out of here.”

He gave her a few seconds, and when she didn’t respond, Jion jammed his blaster roughly into the side of her head, “Listen to me, I will end your murdering thieving life right here, and then turn my gun on all your guards. Trust me; out of my magnanimous nature I am doing you a favor by keeping you alive.”

She spoke into her comm, “Commander, ignore my last order. Let the ship land in one of the docking bays unharmed.”

After the commander acknowledged, Jion moved her to the doorway and said to the guard captain who was watching them, “No following, or doing anything of the kind to prevent my escape.” The captain nodded, and Jion pushed her out the door then slammed it shut behind him. He blasted the door control next, and then told Ra’teren to move down the hallway with her hands up.

Just as they got to the door to the lift at the floor entrance she said, “No one who sees my face lives. Do you understand that? I will hunt you down. Even if you kill me, The Exchange will find you.”

“My dear, how will they know who I am if you and everyone here is dead? Now get inside the lift.”

“I see,” she said calmly before taking a step forward and then all at once, she leaped back sideways, with her right arm cuffing the blaster away from pointing at her. Dropping the holocron roughly to the floor, she took out a ten centimeter long knife from her side pocket, and then leaped towards Jion, as he tried to bring the gun back on her. He found her surprisingly strong, since she was able to hold her own against him. Was she augmented he wondered? No normal human female was this strong, especially being as thin as she was.

In the midst of his left hand holding a knife back that was nearly at his heart, and the other being held down by her other hand while trying to aim his blaster at her torso, he decided to change the game. Losing his hold on the blaster to do so, he used all his strength to perform his next move.

Falling down to the floor and pushing her off backwards with his hands and legs, she went tumbling, but not before the knife nicked through his guard uniform. As he stood up and flipped around to face her, he found her with her knife right there trying to slash at his face and throat. Leaping out of the way of the attack, he grabbed her wrist and was able to motion the knife away from him to turn it towards herself. She used her other hand to hold her own arm back, then when she realized she the tip was still coming towards her, she released her grip on the knife so that it clanged to the floor.

Looking at him she smiled as she locked her hands around Jion’s wrists in a holding grip, “Do you have any more weapons to bring out that we can lose?”

“You just won’t quit will you.”

“I told you there’s no escaping here. No one sees my face and lives to tell about it.”

He kicked her leg, and then freed his wrists by twisting away from her grip and shoving her off. Stepping back towards the blaster on the floor, she read his intent, and as he dropped down to retrieve it, he found her on top of him with her arms preventing him from turning it on her. They stumbled about on the floor for a bit and she managed to push the gun out of Jion’s reach. Face to face now she said, “Oh would you give it up already?”

She was pretty even up close, and smelled intoxicating, but due to her dominating, cruel personality, she reminded him too much of someone that he’d rather forget. Besides, the last thing he wanted was to be a sex slave that would get used up and die to her sadism. She did the unexpected then and forcefully pressed her lips against his, biting his lip in the process. When their mouths separated, he could feel the blood running down his chin, and could see a smear on her lower lip to which she licked off. He watched her and grimaced, “You’ve got a disgusting appetite.”

“What Chiss? It was supposed to be on the menu tomorrow, but I guess I couldn’t wait,” she said as she licked her lips again. “You would have made such a good member of my harem.”

He heard footsteps from the far end of the corridor, and then saw the guards along with their captain coming from her quarters with weapons in hand, and he knew he was a moment away from losing it all. Breathing in deeply, he looked into her eyes and said, “I’m sorry, but I prefer to work without the whips and chains.” He summoned his limited ability to push with the force while using his feet as leverage, and off she flew against the opposite wall. Then he quickly turned to his datapad and pressed in several keys as swiftly as he could. The station’s power suddenly went out and everyone in the hallway was left in the dark.

Remembering the direction where the holocron had dropped, Jion used the force to bring it to him. With that now in hand, he moved into the lift, hit his datapad to turn the power back on, then struck the door button to slam it shut. Finally he was off, and on his way back down to level four. The last thing he saw was her face glaring at him menacingly as the door closed. Shaking his head, he hadn’t realized beforehand what a cunningly dangerous person he was dealing with.

But Jion had the holocron and that’s all that mattered. That and except for the fact that he was now weaponless, but he should be alright, at least he thought. As the lift opened up to level four, Jion stepped out into a large storage room that was many floors high. Beyond that were two enormous docking bays, but much closer and facing him were about twenty security guards with their weapons trained on him.

“Hands up,” said their lieutenant.

Jion raised his arms; the holocron was in his left hand. “It’s alright boys I’m disarmed. Your incessantly pleasant boss saw to it.”

“We’ll determine that,” He motioned to two of his guards to arrest him. “We have the intruder mistress,” he said speaking into the comlink at his wrist.

“Good, hold him until I get there. I should just be a minute,” she replied.

They took the holocron, and just as one of the guards behind him reached up to grab his wrist to put on a set of flex binders, the Vesper surged into view and roared its engines in the left bay. Jion smiled when all the guards stopped and looked at the ship, that’s when he acted. Spinning halfway around to elbow the guard in the face, he then skipped the rest of the way around to kick him squarely in his midsection. The guard stumbled backwards and smashed into a crate. He then fell to the floor dazed.

The Vesper came in as close as it could to the storage room, and after seeing all the guards and the one Jion was fighting hand to hand, the ship opened fire; aiming for the guards further away from the Chiss to give him cover. The ships guns picked off several with its opening shots, and a few seconds later the whole level shook as the laser fire hit a crate in the corner that exploded.

The nearest guard to Jion was the one with the holocron, and she turned around to face him as he approached. She pulled out her blaster from her holster but the Chiss was quicker. He grabbed her arm and wrist to successfully force the gun from her. Then he turned and cuffed her in the face with his right hand. Jion took a step back and then pummeled her with a left, then right, to follow it up with a powerful uppercut to the side of her chin. The guard collapsed and Jion snatched the holocron from her hand.

He grabbed the blaster that was on the floor, and turned it on the one he had kicked into a crate a moment ago to finish him. Jion then took cover behind some barrels that shielded him from the rest of the guards who were now firing back at the Vesper. The ship stopped shooting a few seconds later. Guessing that since his friends couldn’t see where he was, Tarko wasn’t about to risk hitting him. The cargo ship landed and the ramp door opened. Out popped Yortor, and Kaida. The Jedi drew her lightsaber, and stepped forward in front of Yortor to deflect anything coming their way. The green glow of her lightsaber clashed with the red from the heavy weapons fire the Trandoshan was spitting out. Anything in the warehouse that moved and didn’t have blue skin was blasted.

Turning to his datapad again, Jion keyed in the commands to overload the station’s generators, but each time he attempted to do so he found that his commands weren’t being carried through. But then he realized what happened. She did it. Ra’teren knew he had gotten to the generator control room and she went there to end his control. “Damn her,” he said, but his voice was almost drowned out even to himself with the noise of the fighting raging around him.

Realizing that he couldn’t do anything more to Ra’teren, he sighed. Supposing that he better get out of here now, Jion stood up to pop his head over the barrels and saw two easy targets. He made short work of them, and then walking with a crouch, moved as fast as he could between what obstacles he could find on the way to the Vesper. When he was close enough he darted out from behind a small crate, and got behind Kaida and Yortor to run up the ramp and into the ship. At the top he shouted down for them to get in, and Yortor raised his large gun into the air and screamed a Trandoshan cry of victory. The alien then turned around and ran up the ramp as the blaster bolts kept coming towards him and Kaida. She had no trouble reflecting everything and once she was alone, she turned around and in two seconds her lightsaber was deactivated, and she was at the top of the ramp behind Yortor.

The Vesper then raised its landing ramp, and hovered several meters off the floor before unloading dozens of shots, along with a missile into the storage room destroying everything in sight. A large explosion followed the ship as it backed out of the bay. The Vesper quickly turned around and then roared away from the station.

Feeling a sigh of relief now, Jion said, “Thanks for the help.”

Yortor clasped a clawed hand over Jion’s shoulder and made what had to be a Trandoshan attempt at a smile. He then nodded at him, and went off to operate the turret, and this left Jion and Kaida alone by the ramp exit.

She looked at him and then at the holocron in his left hand. “I suppose I should be the one to thank you. You did something that I alone could never have accomplished.”

“Is that what I did?” He gave her one of his most pleasant forced smiles, and walked past her towards the cockpit with the holocron still in hand. Out of one fire and into another he mused. But why was she here at all? He hadn’t expected this. So should he turn and shoot her before she realized she was in danger? He considered it for a second. But she had done nothing . . . and this stuck in him hard. He had some fondness, and a lot of experience being around force users. In a way he considered them his kin. They had so much power, and the whole galaxy seemed to revolve around them. But killing someone in cold blood who just risked his life for him? He had to admit that he had crossed that line before, but to this day that still bothered him. He stopped a few meters from her, and then slumped forward slightly. Fine she gets to have it, but not from his hands.

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:19 PM | #6
Chapter Three




The Jedi watched the Chiss walk away from her, but just before he turned a corner he looked back at her for a fleeting second before moving out of view. There was something extremely odd about him; like he had a different sort of energy field surrounding him that was not typical by any means. Placing her lightsaber at her belt she followed Blue. After all, he had something that belonged to her. Did he forget? Or did he want to be asked for it first? Anyways, she supposed with everything he’d just been through it was probably the former.

Just before coming around the corner herself and into the lounge, she heard a voice that she’d previously only heard on the ships comm before; and when she saw them, Blue and this other member referred to as Talky by the captain, turned out to be a brown-skinned Nautolan. Coming up to hug the Chiss, Blue gave him a great big smile in return. Oh how varied this crew was she thought as she watched. Typically criminals aren’t this diverse; a half-Mandalorian captain, a Human female, a Trandoshan, a Chiss, and finally a Nautolan. But strangely absent was a droid of any kind.

When the Nautolan saw Kaida he ended his friendly embrace of the Chiss and came over to greet her. “Hello and you must be the Jedi I have heard about. I am Kossj Toa and I am pleased to meet you,” he said with a smile.

Kaida smiled back, and was a little surprised with how sociable he was, “Nice to meet you too.”

“Ahh, but you will find that our captain isn’t the friendliest one on the Vesper. That title goes to me; which is probably why Tarko sticks me in repairs so much that I practically live in the engine room. Thankfully I have Blue to keep me company sometimes, though I of course do almost all the talking.”

She looked past Kossj to see that Blue had disappeared. “It has been a pleasure uh, Kossj, but I must see to the captain right away.”

He feigned a friendly sigh, “Nobody has time for talking these days. But I understand, matters of life and death or I suppose in your case the survival of the republic and all. Why it was just the other day that Neren called me Talky too . . .” He stopped when he realized she wasn’t interested and watched her walk past him to the corridor that led to the cockpit.

Just then that the ship rocked as if hit by a laser blast.

“Talky! Get on that engine and give us everything it’s got!” blared Tarko over the ships comm.

Kaida herd Kossj storm off behind her as the metal deck plating rattled with every footstep. She thought Tarko’s accent a bit odd the first time she met him, but now that she’d known him for a while she came to find it humorous at times; though she couldn’t place where it was from. Half Mandalorian and half what she wondered? Kaida planned on asking him sometime, but now they had a ship to save.

When she got to the cockpit she saw Blue standing behind Tarko in the pilot’s chair. “Blue now that Neren is off the ship I’ll need you to copilot.” The Chiss nodded and took his seat next to Tarko. There were only two seats up here, so she remained standing a meter behind them, and did her best to stay level with all the jerking about and the occasional laser hit that the ship endured.

“What is it, exchange fighters?” she asked.

“Worse. It’s a small war fleet that jumped in between us and Nar Shaddaa; two cruisers, three frigates, and about fifty fighters. So it looks like Neren will be on her own for a while.”

A fighter flew by overhead, and hit the Vesper with one of its shots. A second later, from their view through the front side window they saw the top turret take it out.

“We need to get out of here fast,” exclaimed an excited Tarko.

“Thirty seconds to jump,” said Blue.

Red laser fire flashed past the front of the Vesper, and Tarko steered the ship into a loop to come back on the same vector a few seconds later. “This is insane. What did we do to stir up this much attention?” He looked at his copilot, “Blue? Did something happen on the asteroid station that I am not aware of?” His attention was interrupted by a series of laser hits that raked the top of the Vesper, and the fighter that hit them darted in front of the ship. In response to that, the shield gauge flashed and blared in alarm.

Kaida went to stand behind the pilot’s seat and closed her eyes and breathed in deeply to calm herself, while Blue and Tarko frantically tried to keep them alive. To come so close, I cannot lose to a bunch of criminals. Not now. The force is with us.

Tarko snarled, “Nobody hits the Vesper like that! Blue equalize the shields, and give me some weapon energy. I will make sure this laserbrained, chuff-sucking leech goes back to its maker!” The Vesper angled itself to aim at the fighter that was nearly out of range and fired a dozen shots. The last couple hit and the fighter exploded in a ball of fire.

She opened her eyes to see the fighter taken out and Tarko cheer. Even Blue had a smirk on his face. “Nice shot,” said Kaida.

“Tarko always has nice shots, right Blue?” Blue didn’t respond. “You see, Blue agrees.”

This brought a smile to her face. Tarko was quite the character, which went a long way in endearing himself to her when they first met a few years ago. She noticed that Blue had set the holocron on the flight controls in front of him. She could use the force to pull it towards her. It was hers in any case. But she wanted to remain polite and not start something. Maybe Tarko wanted to deliver it to her personally?

“Ok ready now,” said Blue.

“Hit it!” yelled Tarko.

The ship lurched upwards slightly as the stars turned into bright lines and they entered hyperspace. She could feel the crews relief, and she had to admit that she felt much more calm herself.

“Whew, now that was fun. We’ll have to try that again sometime when the odds aren’t a hundred to one,” said Tarko.

“Well that was one promise she couldn’t keep,” said Blue after several seconds of silence.

“We need to talk about what you did in that place,” said Tarko looking over at his Chiss friend.

Blue absently nodded in response as he checked over the computer instruments, but he stopped as if something came to mind, “Why is Neren not on the ship?”

He had a silky core world accent which surprised her. Kaida didn’t know much about his kind but she had fought and killed a few during the war when she was just a padawan. She had assumed they were all aligned with the Sith Empire, but apparently some weren’t. However, the verdict on this one wasn’t out yet. There was something about him that she couldn’t put her finger on.

“Oh, we had her take one of the Jedi looking robes we used on that job to pretend we were a . . . oh ah haha,” he looked at her. Tarko cleared his throat as he turned back to the Chiss, “She pretended she was our Jedi to throw off The Exchange. She knows her way around Nar Shaddaa, and we have a lot of contacts she can take shelter with. It was better than leaving our dear Kaida Merek behind I think.”

Blue nodded. “Here it is,” he handed Tarko the holocron; though she could tell just by watching him that it wasn’t an easy thing for him to do.

Tarko looked at it, “All this fuss for a palm sized cube eh?” Watching her he bit his lower lip, and then handed it over to her. “It must be very valuable.”

Taking it in hand and observing it, “Oh it is; to the right people of course. To non force users, it’s useless.” Taking her eyes off it, she looked at Tarko then Blue. His red eyes were practically glowing as she mentioned this last part. Putting the holocron down to her side away from Blue, she said “Ok, our arrangement is complete. If you’ll just set me down on the first civilized world then we can part ways.”

“Not so fast,” said Tarko.

“What?” she said defensively.

* * * * *

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:20 PM | #7
“I’ll have something with rum, something sweet and double the rum,” said Neren to the overly-large bartender in one of the less run down sections of the city world. She placed the credits on the bar and slid it over to him. Looking behind her again, she swore that a Rodian and a Human male had been following her for the last few blocks. And when in a state like this, Neren tended to go for something heavy to drink, not much, but something that did the job of calming her nerves fast.

The enormous bartender was back in a minute with her request, a thin, tall glass of something yellow-orange. She didn’t care what it was, so long as it worked. Gulping it down as quickly as humanly possible, she placed the empty glass on the bar and turned to go. Then she saw the Rodian and Human enter the bar, but they weren’t looking directly at her. She was frightened. She could hold her own in a firefight, but she was alone, and didn’t know how many more of them were out there. It was only a few blocks from an old friend that would hide her too, However, she knew if those two really were after her, then she’d never make it very far out the front door of the cantina.

Turning back to the bartender she said, “Is there a back door I can use to get out of here?”

The bartender just waved his right arm towards the washrooms in the back. Hurrying over that way she spotted the service door and rushed through it. She entered the kitchen and there were half a dozen staff working away cooking and preparing food. It smelled disgusting whatever they were cooking; probably something alien.

Seemingly uncaring about the intruder in their kitchen, she walked past them as quickly as possible towards a door that led her into a hallway with a storage room and the staff washroom. Between the two was a door to the outside. Yet, before going that way, she stopped and listened when she heard a voice holler from the kitchen, “Was there a robed brunette that came through here?”

That was her queue to run, and she burst out the backdoor and sprinted down the alley. At the end of the lane three figures emerged, and she went to draw her blaster pistol.

“Don’t bother,” said a deep male voice that she thought she recognized.

It couldn’t be him; it had been so many years! Not taking any chances, considering that she didn’t know if she was still in his bad books, she said, “Come any closer and there will be trouble,” Neren still kept her blaster within her robe, and out of sight. She still needed to act the part of a Jedi just in case.

“We know you are not the Jedi, Neren, so you can stop the theatrics.”

Realizing her disguise must have been seen through earlier; she relaxed, withdrew her hood, and holstered her weapon, “Alright, Talk.”

“I recognized your face on the camera about an hour ago.”

“Warken? Why should I care what you want?”

“I’ve recently been promoted to be Mr. Burkes new second, and he would like to renegotiate your old employment.”

She cautiously began taking a few steps closer. He was a dark skinned human with shortly cut, curly black hair, and was very tall, even more so than that hulking bartender. When she came to stand before him, the two she spotted following her, the Rodian and the Human approached from where she exited the cantina. “This place is as good as any to have a discussion; so out with it.”

“This job your boss was hired to do,” He made a cutting sound with his tongue. “The holocron was to be delivered to a Sith master in a few days time. Now that we cannot hold up our end of the deal, The Exchange will be in quite the bad situation with a major power in the galaxy. This we just cannot allow.”

“I’m waiting to hear where my part comes into this Warken.”

“Mr. Burke wants the holocron back. Come with us and help, but if you make the foolish decision not to then we’ll make you come along with us anyway. It’s going to happen either way Neren. You can work with us and make a profit, or don’t and I can promise you that you will not like the consequences.”

She thought about it for a moment while looking at the filth covered ground. What did she care about the arrogant Jedi for anyway? They’ve done nothing good for the galaxy except to bring ruin upon it with their civil war. War that had her family killed when she was just a teenager. The Sith were no better, but when it comes to either of them, she would take good money over loyalty. Having to live in this hellhole of a world for all those years after the war taught her how to survive, and she knew the situation she was in right now could only have one good outcome. Who was Tarko anyway? He was just some small time smuggler suffering from a case of excess personality. She made her decision and grinned, “Ok, but I want good pay for this. I won’t work for next to nothing anymore.”

“For this, of course,” he smiled.

She eyed him cautiously, “But I want assurances first. That apartment high up in the rich area I was always talking about having?”

“Done.”

“My name on the deed and half a million credits; oh and I want a good paying position within The Exchange.”

“We’ll see what we can do.”

She smiled, “Alright then let’s do this. To start, you need to ditch the group for a bit and come with me to a friend.”

* * * * *

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:20 PM | #8
“The deal was that I would be given the Holocron and that was it,” said Kaida suspiciously. What could he possibly want? The force wasn’t telling her that she was in any danger, but she was ready for it just in case.

Tarko rose from his seat slowly and then looked Kaida in the eyes, “Kaida, we need to talk.” He glanced at Blue before turning back to her, “Though I suppose it will involve all of us, so Blue, Yortor and Kossj should be present as well. Neren, well she is out of reach for the time being.” He began walking down the corridor from the cockpit. “Come,” he said almost commandingly.

Blue stood up, while looking at the dials one more time and then walked past her. When he was gone, just to be sure, she attempted to access the holocron. It opened up and she was acknowledged by an old Jedi master that had passed away centuries before her time. It was the correct holocron, but exactly what was on it was beyond her; though she knew for certain that her last master was quite familiar with it. She would need time away in a safe place from anyone else to uncover its secrets. Putting it in a large pocket with her Jedi robe, she started for the common room, unsure of what Tarko was planning.

Upon reaching it, she saw Tarko standing in the center of the room with Blue and Yortor sitting in the chairs, “So how many did you get Yortor?” the captain asked.

The Trandoshan responded in his language, but Tarko seemed to be able to understand him.

“Just two? I wasn’t even trying and I got one. Has your hunting instincts been failing you? There were many fighters out there attacking us.”

Even Kaida could tell that Yortor’s response was anything but kind.

“With that mouth I’m surprised you ever had a mother.” He leaned against an intercom, pushed the button and said, “Kossj, come to the common room if you please. But leave the talkity talk there. You are coming to listen. And maybe you’ll answer a question or two, but we’ll find out when you’re here.”

When everyone was there and seated, Tarko began while on his feet. He pointed his finger at Kaida and said, “Ok. I don’t think you know, but Kaida and another Jedi are responsible for saving the life of my crew and I nearly three years ago when we . . . got into a dust up with a group of bandit Mandalorians. She saved the Vesper. She saved our good crew. And once we were boarded and taken into custody, she was the one who questioned us. She let us go, even when there was a whole list of things the republic could have charged us for. I feel I owe her my life.”

“Tarko . . .”

“No it’s alright Kaida. I want to help. We’re not the thugs you take us to be, well maybe a little. But that doesn’t mean we cannot help.” Tarko turned to look at Kossj, “Now its talk talk time my friend. What did you find when looking into the holocron?”

Kossj leaned forward in his chair and smirked, “More than we ever needed to know to get it. Your holocron was initially lost because of the Sith attack on the Jedi temple on Coruscant. The Sith who had it was later tracked down by a group of Jedi, and after a long battle, they prevailed.”

“Well out with the part that has to do with Kaida you waterbrain,” said Tarko.

“I was just getting to that,” he said with a big smile while looking at Tarko. “It seems that your old master, the one that you spent most of your padawan years with, had the holocron and has since defected to the Sith. And you, well you are on the republic list of missing Jedi as well. Anyways, how the holocron came from his possession and into that of The Exchange I could not find.”

Tarko gave Kaida a menacing scowl, “So tell me Kaida, is this true? Are you a Sith now? If so all that lecturing about being a bad criminal, well that was just not good manners. And I hate bad manners more than I hate the Sith, and the Mandalorians.”

“No,” she stood. “I have not fallen to the dark side. But you are right, my old master has, and he was a good friend and teacher. I . . . I miss him, but the Jedi council has dismissed his case as not worthy of attention.”

“And you disagree,” said Blue looking at her calmly.

Quickly turning to face him, “Yes I disagree. We can’t just abandon our people for switching over. There has to be consequences, or at the least . . . I need an explanation.”

“Attachment is the path to the dark side,” smiled Blue. “Didn’t they teach you that at Jedi school?”

“And what does a Chiss who goes by the name of Blue know about the Jedi? Your kind does its best to stay out of sight, and cares nothing about the galaxy at large. Well except for your people’s stupid decision to join sides with the enemy. But here you are working for a . . . a smuggler and for all I really know you are operating for the Sith yourself!”

“Ktah, moactan teel,” he cursed her.

“Ok calm down the two of you,” said Tarko.

After a long moment of silence Kossj said, “Um Kaida, Blue is not his real name. That’s just what Tarko called him when out on missions, and it sort of stuck.”

“I figured so. I know their names are unpronounceable to humans,” she said sternly while glancing at Kossj.

“It’s Jion. The human version is Jion. You couldn’t pronounce Sollj’io’ntalli properly if you tried,” said the Chiss.

“Fine, now that that is out of the way. What is it you propose Tarko?” she said before sitting back down and eyeing the captain warily.

“I propose we get you out of trouble with the Jedi. I propose you give them the holocron, and get back to being a member of the good side. No more of this running around and consorting with half-bad criminals. I can’t in good conscious let you do this alone.”

“Well I’m touched that you care so much, but I have to do this on my own. Though you are right, I should contact the council and let them know I have the holocron. Thanks to you, your team, and especially,” she waved her hand in Jion’s direction, “The Chiss.”

“I’m glad my human name was so easy to say,” Jion said sarcastically.

“Kaida, let us help you,” said Tarko.

“Yes, you need not do this alone,” said Kossj.

Yortor grunted as his way of agreeing.

She sighed, and closed her eyes. “Well then, it appears help is coming my way whether I want it or not,” opening her eyes again. Shaking her head for a moment before speaking, “I agree. But first let me contact the council before everyone but Blue gets excited.”

Tarko smiled, “Ok good!” He clapped his hands together, “Then we are going to work together as one big happy family. Or team. Well they are the same to me anyway.”

“Right, well I follow the captain’s orders. The Jedi isn’t in charge of the mission or of me,” said Jion gloomily as he got up and walked to the medical room.
Kossj got up and followed him, “Were you injured on the asteroid?”

“Yes, but nothing serious,” said Jion before he and Kossj left the room.

Yortor watched Kaida silently, until Tarko noticed him and said, “Yortor, I want a nice brandy. We have some bottles in the back of the storage. You know the good stuff?”

The Trandoshan got up without a word and went off to the back of the ship. Kaida watched him go, and then looked to Tarko expectantly.

“What is wrong?” he asked.

“Among other things, your Chiss friend. I don’t trust him.”

“He just got you that holocron, what else do you want from him.”

“I’m not sure, but he doesn’t seem right, and a Jedi tends to get a feel for these things.”

* * * * *

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:21 PM | #9
Jion grabbed a bandage to press the kolto to the top part of his left chest. His red eyes quickly scanned the medical computer to see if there was an infection. “She aimed for my heart if you must know Kossj.” A little irritated that Kossj always bombarded him with dozens of questions after one of his missions, when all he wanted to do was to relax, and meditate in the shared quarters before anyone else interrupted it with their presence.

“This is the Mr. Burke we’ve been hearing about for years? It’s actually a woman?”

He looked at Kossj, “Yes it is a human female; and a rare breed from my experience among their kind.” Kossj’s brown head tendrils often swayed or twitched, when he was this excited, and sometimes Jion swore there was a little more light shining behind his large round black eyes.

“How so?”

“It’s a long story, but I’ll write a report about it if that will satisfy you.”

Kossj smiled, “You and your reports. You act like you’re in the military sometimes. I think I’m the only one who actually reads them.”

Jion didn’t respond for a long while as he stared at the monitor. The computer showed him that there was nothing in his blood to be worried about. “Tarko will want to read this one.”

A few hours later, after he’d writing his debrief, Tarko came to visit him, while Jion was changing out of the blaster scorched uniform in his shared bunk quarters.

“When stopping for a few minutes for a course correction, and to throw off any pursuers, I found out some things. We have a few hours left until we’re at Corellia, so do you care to tell me what the hell went on in the asteroid station?”

“It’s in the report I wrote, you can read it anytime you want.”

“Blue, we have gotten out of sticky situations before, but it seems we have the whole galaxy interested in this holocron. And it probably wouldn’t have been so if you had done what you said you were going to do and blow the place up. I can only do so much damage from outside in the Vesper.”

“Believe me I tried,” said Jion as he undid and pulled off the black guard pants, leaving him in his underclothes.

“I do Blue. You are the best I’ve ever worked with. So this is what makes this very difficult.”

Jion stopped and eyed Tarko, “What do you mean?”

“I’m going to drop you off with Kaida, and head back for Neren with just the three of us.”

“But you’ll need a copilot,” said Jion looking concerned. However, he knew that this would greatly increase the chances of retrieving the holocron from her, so he knew he would have to agree to it, even though he didn’t like it. His mission had priority.

Tarko held up his hand for a moment, “I’ll be fine. Kossj can copilot and if things get messy then he can get his talkative butt down to whatever needs repairs. Besides, he talks just too much. It gets irritating. I think I’ll have to deliberately get the Vesper damaged just to get him out of the cockpit.”

Jion nodded, “Why me?”

“Isn’t it obvious . . . you are just as good as any Jedi. Your people have trained you very well. That would make you the best person to watch her pretty back. There’s more too. When we came out of hyperspace, I scanned the holonet for our kind of chatter coming from Nar Shaddaa. They are looking for you. The call has gone out for half a million credits for a Chiss who might go by the name of Atell, and whose ship matches the Vesper’s ID along with an alias that I gave for the owner. And since we are going back into Nar Shaddaa where your picture is all over for the bounty hunters, it doesn’t make any sense to bring you. Even if you were to just hide on the ship, you know as well as I do that your skills would be put to much better use helping Kaida.”

Jion nodded.

“This Mr. Burke wants you alive though. Which I do have to say is better than wanting you dead, and will at least give you a chance to escape if caught,” he smirked.

“It’s not much better.” He realized that Tarko was attempting to inject some wittiness into it like he always did. To Jion, his humor never really found the mark with him. Instead, they just all came out as bad jokes. Though Tarko always said he was too serious.

“Well at least you get to live a while longer.”

“If the Sith get into this, then being dead would be preferable.”

“Yes. The holocron was in their hands last wasn’t it. Well if they get involved then we run. I know a little hiding spot on a world that I’ve told no one about. We can buy up supplies and live out there for as long as we want.”

Jion shook his head, “I couldn’t do that.”

“No,” Tarko sighed. “No I suppose you couldn’t. That’s the thing about you. You need to be a part of the galactic life.”

Jion said, “Yes. Now if you will excuse me I need to take a shower.”

“Alright, we have to get to work on changing the ships transponder code, maybe a little paintjob when we land, and oh we’ll need a new name. But I so liked Vesper.” Tarko continued to talk to himself as he left the quarters. When the door closed, Jion could hear his muffled voice yelling at Kossj for some reason or another.

When he was in the shower he began to pour on the soap and started to scrub. While doing this, he thought about how he could get the holocron from Kaida. A fully trained Jedi, taking something so valuable that they would protect with their life, this seemed almost impossible. Maybe if he gets to know her however, he might find a weakness; though that idea felt heavy in the pit of his stomach. He had a history with force users. Technically he was one; though one that hadn’t received full training, and had turned his back on it all. It was an experience he didn’t want to repeat with someone else.

His master was female, and was not only his trainer, but his superior, and his lover. And how it ended, was the most painful thing of all, because it didn’t end, and it turned into a nightmare. Right now, he was grateful to be away from her. She was a Sith trained Chiss, one who was highly gifted in the force from birth, and more rare than one in a trillion.

Her name was Cae’tel Yiss, one of those Chiss sent off to the Sith to be trained in their ways from a young age. He remembered how unbelievable it was that she had chosen him out of all people from the Sabosen Household Phalanx. From his earliest memories he trained to be in this guard unit and just a month after he’d joined, she had come. She had so much power, so much strength and beauty. She stopped and looked at him when he was on guard duty among dozens of others that day. To her, he stuck out compared to everyone else. And Cae’tel immediately requested that Jion be taken under her fold and trained. Reluctantly a few months later the house agreed to give her this concession. He was only fifteen at the time, and to the Chiss, that was the age considered to be a full adult since they matured so much faster than humans.

However, at the time this change wasn’t easy on his relatives or for him, because it was an honor for the Sollj family to join the Household Phalanx. And there had been so many in his family line that Jion had followed into the house guards. Now, taken from this honor, he was no longer addressed by others with his family name. Though in his own mind, he was still Sollj’io’ntalli. To serve his new master, he was given the simplified core world version of Jion. Yet with her, he was given a unique position of power, but one that was not at all spoken of officially.

He was still young at heart, innocent, and very naïve back then. Cae’tel being only five years older than he, both beautiful and powerful, eventually became his obsession; and she felt his desire for her too. One day during training, she took it upon herself to get physically close to him and they became lovers from then on. Everything he wanted seemed to be on the verge of coming true at that point. He dreamed of marriage and starting a family with her, to serve the Chiss Ascendency, and to officially retake his family name by returning and living amongst his kind.

But none of these were on her agenda. She was insatiable when it came to how much physical interaction she required, and some days after she had been gone for weeks, she wouldn’t let him out of her sight from the bedroom. He knew she loved him, since through the force he certainly felt it, and he was terribly in love with her too. Yet things wouldn’t last this way, and he began to understand why as his training continued in the ways of the Sith.

Her love making turned more and more violent, her attitude and treatment towards Jion became more and more about having power over him. It was the Sith way to dominate, and to destroy, and though the Sith always sought an apprentice to teach them what they knew in order to gain power, he was more than that to her. And she had let him be less subservient and more an equal while they were madly in love together.

That changed when she put to use a gift she had somehow acquired through the force against him. It was a way of sapping someone else’s strength, and though she was just practicing it when the two initially met, she became more proficient at it as the years went on. Cae’tel eventually started using it on him all the time, and he did his best to fight it off, mentally and physically. As the years went on, they found that her power hardly affected him anymore. Though in the interim, he found his force powers waning, and believed it had something to do with her ability to life drain. When she found that her power no longer worked on her apprentice, she instead focused on destroying his spirit.

Jion was prideful due to his heritage and upbringing, and it eventually became her obsession to break him of that; until it was just about the only thing between them besides getting together for the occasional biological imperative. But he knew the truth. Though he still loved her for who she used to be to him, and didn’t want to bring harm to her, he refused to give in, and fought her off to a standstill. He knew that her love for him had become a shell of what it was, and once he was broken and hers to command, everything between them would be gone. And all he would be was a mindless apprentice to an uncaring master that he had seen time and time again in his travels among the Sith. It was either that, or the unthinkable. That she really did want to kill him. They had their physical fights, and sometimes he thought she’d gotten a little too serious. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to believe she wanted him dead.

Regardless, Cae’tel had wanted the challenge, the hunt, but once caught he would be of no use to her. So he held onto a dead relationship, one that to end it would mean to end her, or lose himself in the attempt.

It went on for years this way until he could no longer take the abuse. The training stopped when she grew frustrated with his lack of progress and destroyed his lightsaber in fit of rage one day; soon after he left the Chiss Ascendancy. Though he wasn’t running, he still had orders to carry out and missions to complete from Cae’tel. She granted him this much. He feared because of their past connection that she would be able to find him no matter where he went, so escape seemed impossible. But a reprieve was different, even one that took years, even when he lied, and took much longer to accomplish what she asked. He would do it to stay away from her.

It had been more than half a year since their last contact. Though this particular mission given to him was difficult, it would also take a long time to accomplish. Now that he was so close to finishing it, he almost didn’t want to; because when completed, he would have to see her again. Although he knew it couldn’t go on like this forever. One day he would have to face her and end what was between them. His dreams for himself were never about becoming an all powerful Sith. It was about his people, and his family. He had never wanted the power she craved, but he had wanted her. Unfortunately, he realized years ago it would either be her or him. And since then, he had lived only for the day.

He awoke from his thoughts and noticed that he’d turned the shower cold without thinking again, and it had probably been like this for ten minutes. This was part of his training. No comforts; and to live with the bare essentials in order to better harden him. He switched the dial back to warm, and rinsed himself off.

After getting out of the shower and drying himself, he shaved, put on some deodorant, and decided to wear his old black Chiss Ascendency uniform. There was no insignia on it, it was blank, and bare which fit with his normal everyday mood. He combed his short black hair, and when dressed, put on his holster with his blaster inside. He then hid his long knife in an easily accessible side pocket along his pants. Jion noticed his charric rifle that sat in the back of his locker. He hadn’t used it for some time and its ammo supply was nearly exhausted. Jion did know of a few places outside of the Ascendency to get more, but he didn’t want to. Although against a lightsaber it was his best bet, since the particle based weapon couldn’t be reflected. And he could possibly need it for this next mission Tarko was sending him on. Instead, he slammed the locker shut and was about to leave the room.

What about Kaida and the holocron? He needed to decide right now what he was going to do before she was with other Jedi and gone. Maybe it was best if he forgot about it for now. Maybe a Sith will steal it again. Maybe, just maybe none of it mattered. But it did. It greatly affected his entire reason for being out here among the foreigners. Cae’tel wanted him to get it, and she couldn’t be denied. He hated being in this position. If he was to get it for her now, the Jedi would have to die.

Then to hell with it all, he didn’t care about it either way. If he had the opportunity then he would, if not then what was his life anyway? It was one big prison as it was. At this point there was no reason to even fight for his master. It felt better to just keep working and not think about the big things. Just keep working. He opened the door and stepped out.

Jion was greeted by Yortor and given a glass of brandy upon entering the common room. Kaida and Tarko were there discussing what to do next. Jion took the glass and instead of nursing it, he downed it as fast as he could. The burning in his throat was nothing compared to what he was about to face.

* * * * *

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Daelyn
12.13.2011 , 12:30 PM | #10
“Well, come in Neren my child. I haven’t seen you in oh, at least a year,” said the severely balding old Human. What was left of the hair on his head was matted grey tufts, which along with his large jovial smile, made it impossible to see him as anything but harmless. He was skinny, short, moved slowly, and had leathery old skin that was mottled with age. But his almond eyes still held a lot of life.

This made it all the more difficult for Neren, especially since he’d sheltered her whenever she needed it in her younger days. When she joined Tarko’s crew she introduced the two to each other. Since then, Tarko and Uncle Uin had become good friends. “Thanks for allowing me to stay here until Tarko returns, Uncle Uin,” she said smiling back. Once she and Warken were inside and the door closed behind them, she removed her hood, then walked up and gave him a hug.

Uncle Uin’s place was about mid-way into the lower levels. Nar Shaddaa was a moon completely covered by city, and the lower you went the more dangerous it became. Though his place was locked up like a fortress, and all the old passage ways on his level had been blocked off and sealed decades earlier. To access his home, one used a trick on an elevator that was up in the higher levels. A code put in the proper order with the buttons brought you down to his floor. From there he had a camera to see if the person was legitimate, otherwise the meter thick plasteel door wasn’t going to open.

In his younger years Uncle Uin was known as the fixer. Anyone who needed a new life or ID came to him. He was good, one of the best, and he most certainly charged like one. Though he had ticked off enough people over the years, and slowly, he came to live a more and more fortified life. Bribing the local crime boss who controlled the district where he operated, in order to stay out of his business was a given; though when he quit his enterprise and went off the grid, few had ever heard from him again, especially since he used his skills to create a total new life just for himself.

In his new life, a girlfriend who was a generation younger than him, had a weak spot for the homeless young, and when she could she spent time helping at a local shelter. This was how Neren came to meet Uin. When his girlfriend passed on, he let Neren stay here when she had nowhere else to go. He would feed her, buy her clothes, and made sure her health remained good by taking her to a doctor for her yearly physicals, as well as for up to date immunizations.

“Has Tarko contacted you Uncle?”

“No Neren, it has been some months since that rapscallion and I have talked over the holovid. Not to mention everyone else leaving an old man to his loneliness. So how have you been little one?”

“Well Uncle, I’m not so little anymore. You keep calling me that,” she tried to smile but it came out forced.

“Oh, you’ll always be little in my eyes Neren.” Her forced smile soon faded when Uin looked at who Neren brought with her. “So, who is your friend?”

“Oh him,” she hesitated. “Uncle, I’m so very sorry.” She produced her blaster from her robes and pointed it at him. “We need to occupy your home for a bit. I’m sorry but Tarko just wasn’t paying me enough, and we need to do a little business here.” She looked directly at his old eyes, and then turned away after a second. “Again I’m sorry.”

Uin shook his head, “Oh Neren. What sort of crowd did you get in with now?”

As she was about to answer, she closed her eyes and stuttered until she finally blurted out, “Uncle Uin, just please take a chair and this will be over with quickly.”

“Do you need money is that it Neren?”

“Is the old man loaded? It wouldn’t hurt to have some spending money,” said Warken.

“Just never mind,” she said glancing at Warken. Turning to face Uin again she said, “Uncle sit down and I’m going to tie up your hands to the chair.”

A few minutes later Neren accessed the holovid while Warken watched Uin in the other room. It took many attempts, but she kept at it and after an hour Tarko finally answered, “Where the heck have you been?”

“We’ve been on the run and just came out of hyperspace Neren. Are you ok there?”

“Yes,” she smiled. “Yes everything is ok. I’m safely at Uncle Uin’s.”

“No trouble then?”

“None at all. Listen, I don’t mind staying here, but I was wondering when you would bring the Vesper back and pick me up?”

Tarko thought for a moment, “We have a few things to do first, but when we come back the Vesper will have a new name.”

“Where exactly are you?” And right after she asked this, Warken stepped into the room, though still out of sight from the holovid.

“After we put together some changes to the ship at our usual spaceport, we’ll be making a stop for the Jedi. Then, we will come back to Nar Shaddaa. I will contact you with the new name and ID.” Tarko looked away as if distracted before returning his attention.

Neren guessed that something was up. And if she knew Tarko at all, she understood that he would never come back blindingly trusting anyone if things had gotten that bad where he was forced to run. “When can we expect you back here then?” she flinched afterwards at the ‘we’ part.

“We’ve run into an issue with the exchange. I would say a day or two at most. There is no telling if we run into trouble in our usual haunts. Unless someone on our end blabs, then we shouldn’t have a problem now should we Neren?”

“No boss. No we shouldn’t.”

“Good. We’ll see you soon. Tarko out.”

The holovid shut down and Neren stared at the projector while lost in thought for a moment. Tarko didn’t realize how much trouble he’d gotten into. In the two years she’d been in his crew, they’d never run into anything close to this in scope. She knew it was a bad idea the moment she met that Jedi, and had tried to tell her captain as much. Now, the Exchange would kill him, and she’d be fortunate just to make it out of this alive. She knew this once Warken told her she had to help them. If he paid her like he said, then at least something good would come of it all. Even so, it still sat like a rock inside her. Neren checked the location of Tarko’s transmission, “They sent that from Corellia.”

Warken came closer and said, “I’ll let Mr. Burke know. We have forces that can be there shortly, though maybe not in time to catch their ship if they just do a drop off. Whatever the Jedi is doing, the Exchange will intercept them, and when your old boss returns for you, we’ll be ready.”

She laid both palms over the holovid computer and was lost in thought for a moment. “Good. Now about my payment?”

“When we have the holocron back, you’ll get everything you asked for,” he said in a rather snide tone.

“I don’t want Uncle Uin hurt.”

“Well, that depends if everything works out Neren.”