REVENGE OF THE SITH
Part VI – The True Threat
Dustil wasn’t having a good time. Not at all. He had figured joining Revan would entail danger, of course. From the way his father and Bastila had described their adventures with him, he knew it would be just a whirlwind time.
Of course, he hadn’t figured in the former Jedi turned Sith Lord that would be hunting Revan down, nor did he take into account an ancient race of Sith also coming after them, and he certainly didn’t think he’d be sitting in a stuffy cantina, talking to a Mandalorian bounty hunter about buying back a young Twi’lek woman.
When he and the former dark lord had left Jolee’s hut, he had hoped they were going down to break Mission out of whatever jail they had put her in. He had horrible images of what these thugs would do to her and he wrestled with himself on whether or not these thoughts were attributed to his worry and concern for her or with something else.
All he knew was that he would do whatever it took to free her.
So when Revan had casually walked into the cantina and up to the Mandalorian that had stopped them earlier, Dustil figured they were getting somewhere and it would be so very easy to teach these guys a lesson. But apparently that was way too easy for Revan, who approached the bounty hunter with talk of an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Which of course he refused.
The three now sat in the back of the cantina – the obvious hole for the Exchange – trying to make the bounty hunter see reason, to which he only laughed. Leaning across the table to them, he asked, “Do you guys take me for an idiot? I may be a bounty hunter, but really, have some respect.”
He leaned back and steadied them both. “Don’t think I don’t know what you two are,” he said, smiling with they showed no signs of knowledge. “There’s still a bounty, you know, especially with your ‘friend’ looking for you.” He chuckled.
“I could easily just turn you over and collect my credits, but you know…call me sentimental, but I respect you…Jayden, was it? Heard you were a good smuggler in your day, despite the…problems you had with your former associates. And…you gave us a good run for our money, I’ll give you that.
“So…for all that, I guess I could…keep your secret and maybe help you out a little.”
“You’re too kind,” Revan drawled. “What do we have to do?”
“The way I see it,” the Mandalorian said, thoughtfully. “This is all Griff’s fault. See, he owes a package that he very conveniently forgot to give us, so we had to take something of his, you know how that works. You get me that package and you get your girl.”
“What’s in the package?” Dustil asked, suspicious. “Why is it so special?”
“I believe, kid, that’s privileged information.”
“We’ll do it.” Revan replied, stopping Dustil’s protests. “Where’s Griff hiding out these days?”
“Rumor had it he fled the planet,” the bounty hunter said, leaning forward towards them once again. “But I have some connections and I know he’s hanging out close to the hangers and all. He’s trying to skip, but no one’s too keen on letting him.”
“Where’s the spaceport?”
“Not too far from here,” the Mandalorian answered. “It’s kinda hidden, you know; Exchange territory, that’s why no one’s letting him go.” The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a key card.
“Take this,” he said. “It’ll get you into the hanger and all. Like I said, no one knows about it, so sometimes he tries his luck to get off, but we won’t let him. We like keeping an eye on him. You get him to give you that package and I’ll go see about getting his sister out.”
Revan gave Dustil a look, knowing the young man wasn’t happy about doing a job for the Exchange, but if it meant getting Mission out of the hands of the notorious syndicate. The two left the cantina on their search towards the secret hanger, once again being amazed by the scenery of the planet and the fact that it seemed only mercs and bounty hunters ever managed to stay.
The planet itself was a mystery to some, most notably the Republic, though most in the galaxy knew the best cigars were manufactured there, as well as some other ‘choice’ materials.
The hanger was where the Mandalorian bounty hunter said it would be, disguised as a closed off building. Revan slid the card into the reader, causing the door to wheel open. Inside were a few speeders and few freighter ships like the Hawk. There were some people milling around, mechanics mostly, and they seemed quite content with their work they didn’t bother to see that the duo had walked in.
Revan scanned the area, finding it to be pretty open and easy enough to find someone. Sure enough, to their right, he spied a green Twi’lek male standing to the side and watching one of the speeders from across the way.
He was turned away from them, which Revan would use to their advantage. He nudged his young companion and gestured to the Twi’lek, noting that Dustil seemed to become angrier at seeing the brother who caused this.
For Griff Vao, it was another day of trying to get off the planet. After being discovered by the Exchange, he knew he needed to high tail it out of there. He had no idea if they would even find Mission, let alone him once he made his escape.
Unfortunately, it seemed as though everyone knew who he was and that meant that just asking to leave wasn’t going to happen, so he needed the next best thing: he needed to steal one of those speeders and get to the other side of the planet if possible.
Then he could at least lie low until something came along. He was so absorbed in his thinking, he didn’t hear the two men come up from behind and only when he heard a whooshing sound did he turn around and found himself met with a lightsaber at his throat.
“Hello Griff,” Revan replied, grinning when the Twi’lek’s eyes bugged out.
Revan remembered Griff Vao very well; well enough to remember that the brother of his friend had stiffed them out of 2500 credits for a drink that wasn’t even properly made. To Revan, the money hadn’t been important – they had more than enough at the time – it was the reaction that Mission had. This was the only family she had and for a time, the only friend until she had run into Zaalbar.
The very notion that he could leave his five year old sister to fend for herself, all the while lying to her about why he was never home. That had made Revan wish he could find this man and beat him to a pulp. And judging from the way Dustil was holding his lightsaber, he felt the same way.
“Remember me?” the former Jedi asked. “Cause I really do remember you.”
“I can explain…”
“My friend here,” Revan continued. “Is quite upset about a little stunt you pulled with your sister. You do remember your dear, sweet sister, don’t you? Because I’m sure you must if you’d be willing to sell her to the Exchange.”
“You don’t understand…”
“I understand you have something they want and we’re here to get it,” Dustil growled, pushing the lightsaber closer to his neck. “Unless you’d like to be eating a different way.”
Griff swallowed, his Adam’s apple feeling the heat of the weapon. “I never thought they would ever find her,” he whispered.
“But that’s the problem, isn’t it Griff?” Revan asked. “You never think.”
“Where’s that package?” asked Dustil.
“Like I said,” the Twi’lek stammered. “I can explain. I told them there had been some circumstances and that I didn’t have the package anymore.”
“What was in that package?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I think parts of some kind, real hush hush, you know? I had to deliver it, but I ran into a problem.”
“What problem?” Dustil asked.
“I was supposed to deliver it to Onderon,” Griff stated. “But you know how that went over. I got shot down and had to make repairs on some backwater planet. I’ve been running ever since.”
“And the package?”
“Went down with the ship, so to say,” the Twi’lek responded. “My tail end was shot up and that’s where I was keeping the shipment.”
Dustil looked at Revan, suspicion clear in his eyes, though he wondered what they would do next. If Griff was telling the truth – which was suspect at best – then whatever he was delivering had met its fate somewhere over Onderon last year; if he was lying, he was doing a good job of it.
He turned back to Griff, growling, “If you’re lying to us…”
“I’m sure you’d give him reason not to, Dusty boy,” Revan smirked. Griff nodded quickly, fear evident in his eyes. “Just how much do you owe the Exchange, Griff?”
The Twi’lek gulped audibly. “Well over 15,000 credits.”
“Fifteen thousand!?” Dustil exclaimed. “How…?”
“It just so happens I’m going to bail your ass out of the fire again, Griff,” Revan replied, getting up close to the man. “But this isn’t for you; it’s for Mission, who I apparently love and respect more than you ever could. And I’ll tell you this – this is the last time I or anyone else is going to see you, because you’re going to go far away and become a nerf herder. And I can guarantee that if Dustil hears that you so much as gambled on a mynock race, he and I will find you…”
“And you really don’t want that.” Dustil finished.
“Don’t worry,” Revan added. “We’ll be nice and let you live.”
“For Mission’s sake.”
“Though I don’t know how happy she is currently after learning you were behind this.”
“Hope that she doesn’t find you.”
Revan removed a credit bar from his pocket and handed it to the trembling Twi’lek. “There’s 500 on that,” he said. “You’re to use that to get off Naboo and start that nerf farm. Nothing else.” He nodded to Dustil to remove his lightsaber, though the younger man was more reluctant to do so.
Griff again swallowed hard before stuffing the card in his pocket. He opened his mouth to say something, then thought better of it. It would do no good to try to explain how things were and that he was sorry because really, he would probably done the same thing again if it meant his survival and really, wasn’t his baby sister better off with these people than him?
He gave a nod to Revan and Dustil, who only glared at him, before turning away and hurrying off to where ever he had come from. “By the Force, Revan,” Dustil muttered. “Fifteen thousand credits? How are in the world are we going to come across that much money?”
“Ye of little faith,” Revan joked. “We’ll manage, don’t worry. You’re looking at a champion swoop racer. And if push comes to shove, I know we got stuff to get rid of. No problem.”
“I just…” the younger man started. “I just hope she’s okay. Who knows what they could be doing to her?”
“That’s why we keep a low profile until we get some collateral,” the former Jedi replied. “And if that fails, we’ll just finish what Ellis started last year and wipe out the Exchange on the planet.”
To say that the Mandalorian bounty hunter wasn’t exactly thrilled with the knowledge that the Exchange’s package had blown up over Onderon would be an understatement. Even with the prospect of paying off Griff’s debt didn’t exactly go over well.
“I knew you were generous,” the Mandalorian stated. “But I didn’t think you were stupid. Griff owes a lot more than I thought could be humanly possible for anyone. You’d be out of money before you blinked.” The Mandalorian laughed for a bit. “I’ll make you a deal,” he said. “I know you’re a pretty good smuggler and I heard you had a pretty fast ship. So let me give you a package to drop off for me.”
“You’re joking, right?” Dustil asked. “You want us to make a delivery for you?”
“Deliver that package and you get your friend back.”
“Why don’t you just give her back?” Revan asked. “Then we’ll deliver that package.”
“No dice,” the bounty hunter replied.”How do I know you’ll even deliver it?”
“And how do we know you’ll leave Mission alone?” Dustil asked. “Or when we return, that she’ll be in the same shape we left in her. Assuming of course you’ve kept your filthy…”
“Dustil…” Revan warned. Turning to the Mandalorian, he said, “How about this? You tell us where Mission is and let her go and maybe I won’t kill you.”
To that, the bounty hunter once again laughed. “You’re a Jedi,” he chuckled. “You wouldn’t dare.”
This time, it was Revan who chuckled. “You don’t remember the war very well, do you?” he asked. “Nor have you heard the latest news. There is no more Jedi Order, so that makes me an ex-Jedi either way. Meaning, I don’t have to adhere to the teachings of old men in robes.”
The trio of men stared at each other for a view moments, each wondering what the others thought and more importantly, what the others could or would do.
“All right,” the bounty hunter replied. “I’ll take you to her.” He turned and led them from the cantina, around the side, and to the back where a small abandoned building wait for them.
“We sometimes use this building to keep a base,” the hunter said. “We keep it boarded to ward off anyone noisy.” They continued to walk until they reached a few holding cells, where it seemed a few choice words were coming from one.
The Mandalorian laughed, saying, “You shoulda heard what she said about one of the guards’ mother.”
The Twi’lek, who was leaning against the back of the cell, immediately jumped forward when she saw her friends approaching. “What took you so long!?” she exclaimed.
“Good to see you, too, Mish,” Revan chuckled.
“Are you all right?” Dustil asked as soon as he reached her. Mission nodded, a small blush reddening her cheeks.
The Mandalorian unlocked the cage, allowing Mission to move quickly towards her rescuers. “Not so fast, Jayden,” he replied, giving the group a smirk. “There’s still the matter of my package that needs to be dropped off.”
“Cool it,” Revan reprimanded. “All right,” he told the Mandalorian. “Where’s that package going, exactly?”
“The planet of Reecee,” came the answer. “Friend of the Exchange is waiting for it.”
“You won’t mind if my friends and I take care of some business first, will you?”
“Just don’t sit on it,” the hunter huffed. “It kinda needed to be there yesterday.”
“We’ll get it there,” Revan replied, signaling to his two companions that it was time to go.
“The guy’s name is Holten Gram!’ the bounty hunter shouted after them.
“Gram, got it.”
The trio quickly left, Dustil inquiring about Mission’s well being as they went. She seemed to be in okay shape, though she did seem more reserved than usual. Revan led them back to Jolee’s hut, where Mission gave the elder man a hug.
“Well,” Jolee replied. “I see you got our little troublemaker back, so I can assume that all went well with the Exchange.”
“I arranged for something,” Revan said, mysteriously. “But I don’t think the Exchange will be a problem, at least not in the capacity we know it as.”
“Again, I do not like the sound of that,” Jolee muttered. “Well? What’re we standing around here for? Are we going or what? An old man like me just can’t stand around doing nothing all day. I’ve got to get out, be free and all that rot. Hmph! Young people. Always wanting to just stand like statues. Why in my day…”
Revan gestured towards the way they had originally come. “Let’s go,” he whispered. “Maybe we can tire him out on the way to the ship.”
“Don’t think I didn’t hear that, young man,” the elder griped. “I may be old, but my ears are much better at listening than yours are. I’ll tell you what…”
The trip back to the ship was just like that; Jolee remarking on his time away and some of his adventures that he had while apart. The scene on the Ebon Hawk was one of joyfulness as Carth and Bastila greeted the elderly man.
Mission excused herself, heading off to the women’s dorm, leaving a concerned Dustil and Revan watching as she walked down the corridor. Revan made a note to talk to her once they were back in the air.
“So,” Jolee asked, surveying Lynsel with a glance. “What I miss?”