REVENGE OF THE SITH
Part VI – The True Threat
Lynsel sat within her shared quarters, taking stock of all her things that she could now do without. Her eyes rested on her holo cube, as she surveyed it back and forth in her hand. She had had this little thing since she had been introduced to those Jedi so long ago. They told her it was like a recorder; one that only she could open and use.
“Remarkable things, those cubes.”
The statement startled her, causing the lieutenant to turn around swiftly to see Bastila walking into their quarters. Bastila nodded her head towards the cube. “My father had one like that as well,” she continued. “He…he left it to me and um…my mother when…he passed on. I never had one of my own, though. May I?”
Lynsel blinked at her, before handing over the cube to the Jedi. “Not very many people have holocrons,” she stated. “They only work for those that are Force sensitive, so you can imagine how many of these are just floating around.” She handed the cube back to Lynsel, who took it cautiously.
“How long have you known?” Was the only thing the Intel officer asked.
“I’ve actually had my suspicions since you barged into Carth’s quarters on the Sojourn.” The younger woman stated. “Besides, it’s easier to deduce that someone is Force sensitive when you are also Force sensitive. Though, I am quite curious to know how you managed to keep this a secret from your superiors.”
“It’s not exactly a secret from them,” she whispered.
“No, I don’t think you do,” the officer muttered, turning away from the younger woman and setting the cube down on her bunk.
“Enlighten me then.”
Lynsel took a deep breath. “Perhaps this is something I should tell the whole ship,” she whispered.
“Is it imperative towards this mission?” Bastila asked, raising an eyebrow.
Lynsel thought about that. She had that unnerving feeling every time she held back information from her superiors and even more so when they requested her presence a few days earlier. She had been stunned to see her ex-husband in the meeting and even more suspicious that they were requesting her leave of the mission. Something didn’t sit right with her and she thought now was a good time to tell them everything she knew.
“Yes,” she said, nodding to the Jedi’s surprised look. “Yes, I think so.”
“This is unbelievable. This is absolutely unbelievable.”
The duo of Dustil and Revan had continued on their search for the reclusive Jolee Bindo after reluctantly leaving a scared and defensive Mission in the clutches of Exchange bounty hunters. The trio had been floored to learn that Mission’s own brother, Griff, had turned her over to the Exchange in lieu of back debts and in order to save his own cheap neck.
Though Revan, and especially Dustil, had argued over this transaction, the two couldn’t do anything conclusive. Revan remembered the last time he had dealt with the Exchange and he knew they wouldn’t just let all of Griff’s debts go without something in return.
So the two reluctantly told Mission they would find a way to get her back and they headed out to find Jolee, with Dustil muttering phrases and curses along the way. It seemed hours to the younger man when they stumbled upon a small hut on the outskirts of the main hub and close to a watery shore. There was smoke coming from the chimney and it struck Revan as ironic and funny to see such a sight.
“Take heart, young Jedi,” he chuckled. “Our answers should be in front of us.”
The two men came closer to the hut, just as an elderly black man emerged from inside, shaking his head and muttering something about wood. “You do know how to get lost, don’t you, old man?” Revan joked, causing the elderly man to turn around and throw out a Force power, which both Dustil and Revan blocked with ease. “You’re getting sloppy.”
“Darn fool kids,” Jolee Bindo muttered, hiding a smile in the grey and black beard he now sported. The former Jedi master hadn’t seem to have changed in the six years that Revan had seen him; perhaps a little more wrinkles and most definitely more cranky than before, but the old man looked as he did that day Revan had said goodbye.
For the man in question, he couldn’t express how he felt seeing the two young men that he had helped. Seeing Dustil Onasi – taller, seemingly more confidant, and more in control of his emotions – was a thrill; the lad had really come into his own it seemed.
And Revan – the former Jedi turned Sith Lord turned Jedi looked better than Jolee had ever seen him. The haunted look the young man had while on Coruscant was gone, replaced with the smile that the older man just associated with him. Though Jolee was quite happy to part company once again with the Jedi, he wished he had stayed in touch to know if anyone had seen the young man and what word there was of him.
Like others, he had too worried that perhaps this exile was in fact Revan, going through some sort of revenge relapse, but that thought came and went. And now that he could see with his own eyes the man he had respected, the man he had traveled with, the man he had worried over standing before him, Jolee did the only thing that made sense at the time.
He slapped Revan upside the head.
“Ow!’ the former Jedi cried. “That hurt! Why do people keep hitting me?”
“Hmph!’ Jolee snorted. “Perhaps it’s to remind you of the past. Or maybe it’s the fact that you’re a damnedable pain that needs to be hit and hit often.”
“It’s good to see you, too.” Revan muttered.
Jolee chuckled, clapping Dustil on the shoulder. “Look at you,” he said. “All dressed up and hanging out with him. Kids these days and what passes for fun.”
“You really should stop singing my praises,” the former Jedi muttered. “Really.”
Again, the older man chuckled. “It’s good to see you, sonny,” he replied. “For a while…”
“Yeah,” Revan nodded. “It was touchy. And scary. That’s actually why we came, among other things.” He shared a look with Dustil and Jolee immediately knew something was up.
“Why do I have the feeling something has hit the fan?” he asked, looking skyward. Shaking his head, he replied, gruffly, “Well, come on. We don’t have all day for you two to be lollygagging around.” He turned and welcomed the two into his modest home.
Revan began to tell Jolee what had happened, when Dustil interrupted with their immediate concern – that being Mission. Dustil relayed everything to Jolee about members of the Exchange using Mission as some sort of pay from her brother.
The elder man sat back and listened and though he was amused at Dustil’s insistence on saving the young Twi’lek – he would have to investigate that later – he was suspicious with this new activity for the Exchange. As far as he knew, the Exchange did do some work on Naboo, but he hadn’t heard of anything as of late.
“Now that you mention it,” he drawled, stroking his beard. “The Exchange does do some business here, but from what you’ve told me, this exile literally wiped them out last year. However, I do find it disturbing that Mission’s own brother would turn her over to the Exchange.”
“So what do we do, Master?” Dustil asked.
“Well…” Jolee began. “I know you boys came here to retrieve me and have me tag along on whatever hair brained adventure Revan has planned, but you know the rules, sonny.”
When Dustil gave them both a confused look, Revan answered with, “He wants us to do something for him.”
The elder chuckled. “This actually helps you as well, Revan,” he said. “All you need to do is get rid of this Exchange problem. And of course find Mission.”
“Oh, is that all?” Dustil responded, sarcastically.
“Yes, that’s all,” retorted Jolee. “It’s not like you’re fighting the Sith or anything. And I’ve heard these Exchange thugs like picking on some of the cantina customers. Had a run in with them a few months back, but I…uh…” Here, he laughed a bit. “I made sure they had forgotten what it was they were there for, but that’s besides the point. There’s something fishy going on here and I know you boys would love to find out what’s going on. You do that – plus rescuing Mission, of course – and I’ll head out with you. Simple as that.”
“Oh sure,” said Revan. “Simple, except for the part where we have to confront these guys.”
“Are you a Jedi or aren’t you?” Dustil asked.
“I’m a guy who’s kinda wanted in certain places,” Revan replied, with a smirk. “Most notably the new Sith Lord’s grasp. I’m trying not to advertise.”
“You’re wasting valuable time, you know.”
Both men looked at the elder. “We’re going, we’re going.” Revan muttered, as he and the younger Onasi turned and headed out.
Jolee watched them go, a frown soon marring his features. He didn’t like this, not one bit. The feeling he had had much earlier in the year seemed to be coming back with full force and he was not liking it. Something was in the air, all right, and it wasn’t going to be good.
Atton Rand was no stranger to the dangers of the Exchange or their members. After the war and the battles, he had found himself very disillusioned and very very broke. So like any war vet, he stole or intimidated in order to survive and he had found himself in the place for all of it – Nar Shaddaa.
He literally did know that planet like the back of his hand and sometimes it scared him when he did. He spent most of his time playing paazak, drinking juma, and blocking memories of a past he truly wanted to forget.
Though sometimes, he could remember his life before; when he had been a pilot within the Republic Fleet. How proud he had been to serve for the Republic and for its citizens and how he had thought highly of those people known as Jedi.
It was true – at one point in his life, he had respected them; thought they had been given greater powers in order to help the public that they serve. That all changed when the Mandalorians came.
The moment the forces started to strain, the call went out to the Jedi for help and for what. Nothing. That’s when Atton’s ill fated and misplaced ideologies were slammed right out of him. If it wasn’t for people like Revan, Malak, and Ellis, the Republic would’ve fallen and they’d be speaking Mandalorian right now.
So it was an easy choice when Revan and Malak came to him about serving in their army; an army where they would fight against the arrogance of the Jedi and make them pay for their idiocy. The Jedi War wasn’t about the Sith – it was about the Jedi who pushed their own into becoming Sith. It was their own fault and Revan made sure they paid for it.
Atton was greatful at times; times like this where he needed those skills Revan thought him; needed the lessons he learned from Ellis. He had never really been a leader before and when he found himself in Ellis’ presence, he naturally went to his default setting of foot soldier.
But Ellis, like Revan, saw potential in him and after all the crew left, it was him – Atton Rand – that was made second in command. And it was him that Ellis had entrusted to carry out this most important task; and it was him who would lead four others to help him with it.
And it was definitely not her.
He could pretend that Ellis wanted to keep Brianna safe; after all he was bedding her, but Atton liked to think it was because Brianna was soft, as in not made to handle stuff by the big boys.
Oh, he knew she was strong in spirit and that she certainly had brains and beauty, but where that may land her in the bed of the dark lord, it didn’t bring success to missions. Besides, however Atton may grudgingly respect her, there was something about her he just didn’t trust.
And maybe it was because of that lady Jedi; the one who had made him see, made him feel what he could weld and had scared him to the point of abandoning a good thing, but for some reason Atton had the sense that Brianna was trying to…change things the way they were.
In fact, if he didn’t know better, he could even image her working for the Jedi – a ridiculous notion, of course, but it still had some weight. Sometimes he would watch her watching him and he could see – what? Sadness perhaps, then a look of pure determination that would have scared him if he knew what was behind that look.
Shaking his head clear, Atton forced his attention back on his task, putting up his mental shields once again and preparing himself for the job at hand. Ellis had given him this job specifically — to have a talk with their ‘friend’ as it were and to make sure that the Exchange ran with a…different set of programs.
Atton and the four marauders that accompanied him were to take care of their previous financial backer, as Ellis had put it “We won’t need him for the future outcome.”
The former scoundrel wondered if maybe his master was getting soft – letting off a known crime boss – however, when he thought about it, Atton saw the reasoning. Ellis had plans for them and for the universe and he knew it had to do with those ‘meetings’ he seemed to be called away for.
So, like the good follower he was, Atton didn’t say anything, knowing the answers to his questions may be more than he bargained for.
At the moment, the quintet of assassins were stalking through a long, black hallway. Goto seemed to have hidden himself within the planet of Nal Hutta, keeping very close with the operations happening on the fifth moon of Nar Shaddaa.
Ellis had been insistent to know the location of this ‘silent partner’ of theirs and Atton wasn’t too surprised when he managed to trace the crime lord to the Hutt planet. It was certainly a stick to Vogga, who was still struggling and stuck on the moon. The planet itself was a far cry from the rain forest and trees that had been there before the Hutts reigned.
The air was highly polluted, prompting Atton and his team to wear breath masks – though Atton was being trained with breath control – and the grounds were swamp filled bogs. There were tall structures signaling the industrial workings, which were also the cause of the ill-advised travel to the planet.
Amongst it all was a large building set off from the hustle of the factories, almost hidden against it. It had metal shielding to protect against the acid rain that fell, as well as strengthened supports to keep from corroding.
From their distance, the group could see that this small fortress was heavily guarded by attack droids and sentries; however a command console hovered nearby and with Atton’s stealth ability, it was easy to disable them, but it was much more fun to turn them against themselves and their master. Atton quickly enabled a command to do so after their ‘talk’ was concluded and he and his group headed inside.
The inside of the building reminded Atton of Goto’s ship, the one he had gone on with Bao-Dur in order to rescue Ellis. The halls seemed to be winding and there were doors everywhere. Already the group had encountered several attack droids and several of the ‘interrogation’ droids that Goto himself supplied to the crew of the Ebon Hawk.
The trek did seem unending until Atton was able to use the computer console to locate the main chamber of the building. That trek seemed to have even more security, this time the group dealt with sentries, interrogators, attack, and assassin droids. If not for Brianna teaching the scoundrel heal, he would’ve lost his entire group. The door before them loomed and Atton took great pleasure in walking through it.
He hated droids; especially that big, black eyesore.
“I see the exile is much more resourceful than I thought,” came the voice, though the appearance of the crime lord could not be seen. “However, one would think he’d be much smarter than this.”
“Let’s just say Darth Trayun has some ends to cut,” Atton replied, with a smirk. “Beginning with you.”
The crime boss laughed, before revealing himself to the group. “I’m sure that your acquaintance would love to have a specimen such as myself.” He replied.
Before the quintet hovered one of the black interrogation droids — the same one that aligned himself with the former Jedi exile.