As the lights were dimmed, Shynite found her place on stage.
"Ladies and gentleman, the Stones Throw is proud to present for the first time Sheen." Ura'Ren announced.
The music started, a popular Dusk melody. The lights flash center stage with the beat.
Shynite slowly turns in time. allowing the shimmer cloth shall to fall slowly to her waist.
Activating her Corescaunt Cascader, small lightning storms swirl about her wrists as her arms flowed and waved to the music. Circling the stage in a spectacle of reflective lighting shimmered across her chromium finish.
As the tempo of the music rose she quickened her spin adding small leaps the the beat. Turning and spinning as the music's pace increased, around and round, the cascaded producing little steaks of lighting, that dance along her shining form.
As she spun about she let the shall spin with her, twisting it within her hands, tightening the cloth with every turn of her form, until the cloth itself seemed stiff and ridged.
Using the now ridged cloth, she keeps it in motion till the tempo took as dramatic pause, and with that pause she collapses to the stage floor, the shimmer cloth shall spinning high into the air, to unravel and fall gracefully in time, like a feather on a slight breeze, it fell and covered her just as the music ended and the lights faded out.
There was a pause the crowed of patrons stared, awe struck unsure as to the beautiful scene that had just played out before them. Then as if the heavens themselves were so impressed the roar and cheers of the Stones Throw's patrons shook the very bottles on the shelves.
She rose taking her bow, and making her way off stage as gracefully as she could amoungts the pressing throng. She accepts the praises, and it lightens her silicon heart to hear such gratitude.
"You have done very well for your first set. I am glad I made the deal. If you preform as well on your next two sets I will have a hard time keeping you." Ura'Ren stated as Shynite made her way to her office.
"Why do you say that?" Shynite asked.
"Because someone will hear about you and make you a better offer, that's why." she said with a chuckle.
"I have made an agreement, I intend on keeping it."
"I'm sure you do dear, and I hope you do. For my business's sake."
“So... This is it.” While waiting for the ruckus in the ship to end, confident that the guards wouldn't hurt a bounty otherwise Mull would skin them alive, Jason opened the lastly dated message among the ones he had downloaded.
Better to vision it in private... It will hurt a bit as usual, but... Having an electronic device send orders and/or data directly to your brain was still not an exact science, and each time he used it, he felt a stinging pain in his forehead. It was a miracle that his brain hadn't been damaged yet, but he guess he was just that lucky.
As usual, he closed his eyes as the images and sounds started appearing. It was a good thing it was a recorded holomessage. Reading rows of white words on a black background got tiring after a while, especially without background music.
“... That's...” As the message played out only for him, he started becoming a little uneasy. He had always hated horror stories, and that sounded exactly like one of the worst ones he had ever heard about. After a couple of minutes, the message ended and he opened his eyes again, whistling, a bit bewildered. “Damn... It's official. This ship creeps me out.”
He turned his head to the newly arrived ship, from which he could finally see the guards along with a subdued farghul woman, who he guessed was the one he had got information on, and a bald guy who probably was Inex Jonn. A Sakiyan, if he remembered correctly. Now, to tail them.
"Inex Jonn... you have a penchant for popping up when least expected."
"But always accompanied by a pleasant surprise," Inex pointed out, indicating Mir'isha, who stood beside him in the centre of Mull Station's portside bridge. She was still bound, as Inex himself now was, and staring forward blankly. Around the pair, the bridge was packed to capacity with all manner of ruffians and goons, all trying to see over one another. And looking down upon them all from his throne in front of the great windows was the massive, corpulent form of their boss, Obar Mull.
Obar scrutinized the Farghul woman, visibly nonplussed. There was no denying, this was the woman from the hologram, the girl Tarvos Ghull was after. "And what about her companions?" He asked Inex. "The 'Jedi'?"
"There were at least three, sir," Inex explained, "armed with Jedi weapons. A man by the name of Damon Aligeri, a woman, and a boy. All with her on Owara. And... I have reason to believe they may have killed Lord Pavana."
Obar Mull's flabby face twisted in annoyance. "Pavana," he spat. "How in the galaxy did you manage to get him involved in this?"
"I did my best to bring the girl directly to you," Inex explained, looking humble. "However, it became necessary to briefly ally with Pavana's forces, to ensure success."
Obar scowled. As if dealing with the pirate Tarvos Ghull wasn't bad enough, now he had Lord Pavana to think about. True, despite Pavana's power, he was largely ground-bound. Still, Obar Mull had enough enemies - his own wife chief among them - and didn't much enjoy the idea of having more.
"Success?" he countered, "you've all but destroyed one of my vessels, the Snark, and killed its crew. Do you know how many people in this room alone would like to cut your throat for that?" The bridge's population stirred and muttered in collective agreement.
"But my lord," Inex pleaded, "the Imperial riches you'll receive from Tarvos Ghull for the capture of the Jedi will more than make up for that! Imagine the wealth..."
"I don't deal in imagination!" Obar shouted. Fighting to calm himself, he asked quietly, "you believe the Jedi are coming here?"
Inex considered. He'd flatly told Lord Pavana, in the presence of the Jedi Aligeri, that he intended to take Mir'isha here. However, that little piece of intelligence probably wouldn't help his case very much. "I do believe it, sir," Inex said instead. "I think... I think the Jedi may have read my mind, or something."
"Put the word out to Tarvos Ghull immediately," Obar ordered the room at large, "that I have his missing pirate in my grasp. Once he's claimed her, maybe these 'Jedi' will go after him. I have no desire to be embroiled in Imperial intrigues. Certainly not with that 'Vader' person. I'll take whatever Ghull offers for the girl, and be done with it."
"But, my lord!" Inex protested. "The riches we could share -"
"Share?" Obar roared. "You should be happy you're alive. You've killed four of my pilots, and nearly destroyed one of my ships. Now, you managed to pull one over on that bloated, venomous mynock of a wife of mine, which endears you to me somewhat. But I certainly cannot allow you to go unpunished." He raised his great, flabby arms, addressing all assembled.
"Keep the girl here, on the bridge, where I can keep an eye on her. Inex Jonn, on the other hand, will be returned to that wretched, hateful, roly-poly, lardball of a wife of mine, who will no doubt proceed with her initial desire to execute the -"
The shout came from the corridor, accompanied by the sound of running feet. Onto the bridge sprinted a winded Ishi Tib. The being stopped, took in all assembled, then pointed a finger at the crimelord.
"The gracious Seema Mull demands that you hand the prisoner over to her!"
Obar leaned forward slightly, sneering at the messenger. "Which prisoner?"
"The Sakiyan," the Ishi Tib replied firmly, "Inex Jonn!"
"Oh, she does, does she?" Obar countered, looking out the great windows at Mull Station's starboard bridge, inside of which sat his estranged wife and her own crew, all of which were making hostile gestures in his direction. As he watched them, his expression grew redder and redder.
"Now you listen to me," he growled at the Ishi Tib. "You can turn around and walk out of here, and go and tell that deceitful, bovine, pig-headed, swollen, acidic, rotund, grating, heavyset harpy that if she wants this prisoner, she can just get up off of her porcine backside, and come and get him!"
“Hmm...” He had followed the small group of guards and prisoners to the bridge, and had then observed how they had started discussing in a really animated way. From what he could understand, the guy who had captured the girl hadn't been rewarded as he had expected. Then, the blues of the female Mull boss had appeared and had demanded him.
What had really shocked him was to see Omar denying his wife what just few seconds before had said he wanted to give her free of charge on a whim. A stupid one. He sighed as he suddenly walked into the bridge. It's show-time.
“Well, boss Mull, I think you'd better start looking into therapy. That's some overgrown pride if I've ever seen one...” Immediately, the whole room turned on him, along with a few blasters. He raised his hands in sign of non offense. “Whoah. Easy, easy, squeezies. Not here to anger anyone...”
“... It's a tad too late for that, buffoon.” Obar Mull turned to Jason with a snarl, clearly irritated by the sudden disturbance which only added on his wife's one and Inex Jonn's presence. “Who are you? What do you want?”
“Well, let's say I'm here to bargain, boss Obar.” Jason conceded, smiling wrily, slowly lowering his right hand to point at Mir'Isha. “I'd like to have the girl there and to leave with her, if that's possible.”
“... You want the girl.” Obar Mull narrowed his eyes while Jason just grinned like a loon, thing that most people in the room by now had taken him for. “While that's my intention, since I have on interest on having her friends Jedi nor the Empire, I have a contract with Ghull... Her former employer. It's still money, business... What do you have for me?”
“Hmm... Well, I could pay you more...” Jason's hands went for his pockets, and he turned them inside out, revealing... Nothing. “Uh... I think I forgot the cash back home.” Some of the people around snickered at that. “Hmm... Then, I could gently ask you as a favor, appealing to your humanity?”
Some of the people around right out laughed at this, while the farghul girl was staring at him like he was crazy, and maybe a few people shared that sentiment, by now. “Ah, right... You look more like a Hutt, by now. Well, it fits the crime lord figure!” Obar was not amused, and a few people gasped, while others just kept on laughing, mainly Seema's men. Jason just put a hand to his chin, looking in deep thought. “Hmmm... There must be something... Ah! I got it!” He suddenly perked up and snapped his fingers, as if something had just came to his mind. “Information! That, I got lots of!”
“... Information? What kind of information?” Jason just nodded and crossed his arms over his chest, seeming proud of himself.
“Yeah. Like, I know how come this ship was empty and why you should think about relocating your business, chief!” The laughter stopped at that moment, as Jason uncovered his right arm and tapped a certain point on it. The skin receded and a metallic protuberance emerged, and it suddenly projected a screen in the air. “Well, I happen to be quite good with computers, you know, and while peeking around in this station, I found an undiscovered record. So, what about I display this? If it interests you, I can tell you where I found it and other messages that can sure be of interest to you.”
“... So you claim...” Obar brought a hand to his chin, thinking about it. If what the buffoon was saying was true, that was indeed valuable situation. It would be bad for business if whatever happened to the Venator's crew happened once again to his men. Also, he knew for a fact that every now and then, some ships disappeared, in his sector. “... Men.” He moved his arms in a direction, and suddenly, his men opened fire on his ex-wife's ones. A few seconds and a lot of blaster fire later, it was over. They had been still a bit enthralled with Jason's hutt joke, it seemed. “... Proceed. What I find will decide if I let you live or not.”
“Hmm... Playing hard to get, are you? Alright, alright.” Jason simply held out his cybernetic arm, which suddenly started displaying a message.
It first started with a bit of static, which then revealed an image but no sounds for the exception of ragged breathing. The static suddenly revealed the image of a woman dressed in an imperial command uniform. The commander of the ship, maybe. “This... This can't be happening, it...”
The blond woman shook her head from side to side, as if to clear her thoughts. “I-I'm recording this in hope that it survives whatever... Whatever they're doing. They're erasing all our registers with some kind of... Of Virus. Something never seen before, it can't be stopped... And they can't be stopped either.”
“Aaand... Here's the creepy part.” Jason commented as the woman put a hand over her face, her breathing becoming even more ragged.
“N-No... I feel... Even now, I feel... Whatever it is, scraping at the back of my mind... Trying to... The whole crew, it didn't put up a fight. They simply... Dropped their weapons and walked towards them, and they let them pass... Not a single shot was fired... They didn't fight back. Why they didn't fight back? They destroyed the engines and hacked in to the systems so that we couldn't escape... And then... Ahh... Ahhhh!”
The woman suddenly screamed and threw her head back, grabbing the sides of her head as he seemed to convulse. “I-It hurts... Because I'm fighting back, because I was p-prepared... Ahh... Nooo... Ahhhhhhh! The woman suddenly dropped down, out of the recording's area.
“Wait for it...” Jason said, as the registration continued. “Waaaaaaaaaait for iiiiiiit...” The whole room was focused on the screen by now, the empty registration of the command center's, and that was why some were startled as the woman's face suddenly reappeared, but with a few differences. First thing, her eyes had lost color. Pupil and irises had disappeared, leaving only white behind. Then, there was the fact that the veins around her eyes could now be seen, red, bulky and horrible, and finally, her face was no expressionless. She stared at the monitor a few more seconds, and then she turned it off. “Aaaaand that's it. Pretty creepy, huh?” Jason closed the displaying, and turned with a grin to Obar. "So? What do ya think?"
"The fact is, we have no way of getting another ship," Damon pointed out. "Not right now, at any rate." He looked at the assembled beings. "Our best bet, then, is to drop Reil, Cali and Elayne off as quickly and as peacefully as we can. We shouldn't give them cause to notice us any more than necessary."
No one was particularly happy with this arrangement -- it was true that their time aboard the Nova Viper had made the ship more notorious, in certain circles, than it had been originally. Tam had certainly been right about that. And Inex Jonn wouldn't stay around long if he heard the Viper was nearby. They needed a new ship, that much was certain. For now, though, Damon just wanted to see the others safely away.
"It's been fun, Reil," Damon said as they stood at the bottom of the Viper's entry ramp.
"Yeah," Reil admitted. "I guess it has. When we weren't being shot at, anyway." He looked at Damon. "Good luck to the both of ya -- you're gonna need it, ya know."
"Good luck and good aim," Damon agreed. They shook hands. "Take care of yourself, Reil." He glanced over at Cali, who was clearly ready to be off. "And you -- stay out of trouble, alright?" She stuck her tongue out at him, and Damon laughed.
With a parting wave of the hand the pair moved off, and Damon knew that he was not likely to see them again. The thought saddened him. More friends lost, he thought.
Elayne had already left, her goodbyes short, and Damon could tell her decision to leave had weighed heavily on her. He had known so little of her -- Athelias, now dead, had been her friend and mentor, and without him she had been more or less alone aboard the Viper. It was hard to think of her wandering the galaxy alone.
Proto joined him at the ramp. "I am afraid I, too, must say my goodbyes." The droid bowed stiffly. "I have compiled the data you requested -- I know it is not much, but I hope it will be of some use to you."
"Thanks, Proto," Damon said. "We haven't known each other long, but you've been a good friend."
"You honor me," the droid replied. He extended a metal hand and Damon shook it. "May the Force be with you, Damon Aligeri."
"May, uh, the Force be with you too," Damon replied awkwardly. The words sounded strange coming from his mouth, but not unpleasant.
"It usually is," the droid replied.
Tam had said his goodbyes already so Damon was not surprised to find him in the lounge, idly browsing the datapads Proto had left. During the remainder of their trip to this isolated station, Damon had briefed Tam on the events leading up to Mir's capture, and his suspicions that this 'Mull Station' was connected to Mir in some way. The young man looked up as he approached. "We ready to shove off?"
"Yeah," Damon said. "As soon as we're in hyperspace, you and I need to strip this ship of everything that's ours or might be valuable."
Tam's brow furrowed. "Why?"
"You made a good point earlier," Damon replied, heading towards the cockpit. "We need a new ship, and I think I know where to get one."
"Really?" Tam sat in the copilot's chair as Damon took the pilot's seat. "Where?"
"On Molavar. It's here in the Abrion sector, not too far from where we are now." Damon scratched his chin thoughtfully. "I met a Jenet there once, a couple of years ago. He mainly dealt in scrap and salvage, and I think a ship like this might be worth something to him."
"You mean we'll sell it to him for salvage?" Tam asked.
"Exactly. Gets rid of our 'high-profile' ride, and gives us the money we need to purchase something else." Damon shrugged. "I don't like taking any longer than we have to, and Molavar's the closest option. We can restock everything else we might need while we're there." He eyed the datapads, one of which he knew to contain a list of parts he had a feeling he would soon need.
"And after Molavar...we'll head for Mull Station."
“W-What...” It seemed that the shock was proportional to the size. Obar looked like he had seen a ghost. Suddenly, he shook his head from side to side, as to regain some appearance of clarity. “What was that?!”
“The last message ever left on this ship, told ya. Whatever assaulted this ship, abducted the entire crew without shooting once. How and what happened, I don't know, but I have a feel that since nothing of the sort ever happened everywhere else in this sector... Well, you get the drift.” Jason said, stretching his arms, a smug smile on his face, almost cat-like. “So, held my end of the deal. Can I has kitty, now?”
Mir'isha growled lowly at the nickname the scout used for her, while the other occupants of the room slowly turned their heads to the boss, who seemed still a bit flabbergasted by the whole situation. “W-W-W-What the hell are you saying?! I'm supposed to believe something that you could have clearly counterfeit and hand you over a good sum of money in exchange?! Did you take me for a fool?!”
“Hmmm... I knew it...” Jason put a hand on his head and sighed, shaking it from side to side while staring at the ground almost sadly, as the room suddenly pointed his blasters at him anew. “Alright, alright. You really know how to bargain. Ok, this is the most I can offer, alright? So listen and listen up well.” Jason continued, crossing his arms over his chest, annoyed... Only for the entire aura of hilarity and fun to disappear from his very being. His smile became evil, his gaze serious even if not hard. His voice... “The girl... And let's make the assassin in exchange for your lives.” Had become all business, all of a sudden.
“... What did you say?” Obar was on the point of having a stroke, by now. Jason just chuckled and held out his right arm, which suddenly lost of its skin covering, revealing all the metal it was made of.
“You see, my arm can do lots of things. Hack into computers, override systems... Early on, as I waited for your meeting with Johnny boy here to end, I override the life support systems of this area of the Venator.” The crime lord's eyes widened, while some of the people pointing blasters at him gasped in surprise, their weapons lowering a bit in reply. Suddenly, a bright blue spot on his arm appeared and began to shine strongly. Jason raised his natural arm, just his index finger stretched out. “All I have to do is put my finger on his this little blue spot here and... Well, I hope you have a good set of lungs under all that lard, boss Obar.”
“... You're bluffing. You would die along with the girl!” Jason just shrugged his shoulders.
“Hey. I'm going to die anyway. So, I guess I'll bring all of you with me... Or maybe not. My record is ten minutes and fiftysix seconds without air.” The scout began to slowly lower his hand to his cybernetic arm. No one shot because they were waiting for their boss to give them orders, who in turn was still deciding if it was a bluff or not.
“... You wouldn't!” Jason just kept on smiling and lowering his arm and finger, and by now many of the crime lord's men.
“Start saving breath in three... Two...” The finger was a mere five centimeters from the bright blue spot. “One...”
“Alright, alright! Stop!” Obar shouted, and all his men turned to him and Jason stopped moving his finger, even if he didn't move back up from its current position. “You... Damn it, just give him the girl and Jonn! Hurry!”
“You're a wise boss, Obar Mull.” Jason turned around as the two prisoners got released from their bonds and then slowly walked near Jason, who still kept the finger hovering over the blue button. “Now, we're going to walk slowly out of here... And you're not going to follow us or shot of us, savy?”
“... Crystal.” Obar just kept on staring at Jason as he and the two ex-prisoners backed away and out of the room. When they were on the other side of the door...
“Whoops. My finger slipped.” Jason touched the button, much to the horror of everyone in sight.
“YOU FOOL! WHAT HAVE... Eh?!” The doors of the bridge shut tight, another blast door closing behind it and alarms going off everywhere in sight.
“Better run, now!” Jason suddenly was off like a rocket, all appearances of seriousness now gone as he ran away in a not very dignified manner. After a bit of hesitation, his two newfound proteges were right after him.
“W-What happened back there?! What did you do?!” Mir'isha inquired as the ran through the corridors and the red lights and the alarms kept on getting farther and farther.
“I can't override a life support system in so little time. The effort would kill me. So, I overrode the alarm system, feigning a breach in the hull. When that happens, the bridges get sealed shut! It's going to be a long time before they open up that blast door...” An enormous explosion and the familiar voice of Obar cursing echoed from far behind them. “... Blast it. They had thermal detonators. Oh, well, that's why I brought our assassin friend here along...”
Jason brought his hands to his mouth, cupping it in the shape of a speaker. “OBAR MULL WILL NEVER HAVE THIS PRISONER! IT BELONGS TO THE GRACIOUS SEEMA!”
As if on cue, a group of soldiers of Seema appeared in the corridor and stopped right behind them, covering their escapade. “See? Now we have someone watching our backs till we get to my ship!”
"Your ship?" asked the lead trooper, in his blue-painted clone armour. "It doesn't work that way. Our orders are to bring your Sakiyan friend's carcass back to Seema Mull. You want your own body on the pile?" The trooper and his fellows lifted their rifles. "That can be arranged..."
Mir acted first. Still bound but spinning swiftly, she swung out a leg and sent it slamming into Inex's back. The Sakiyan, also bound, fell toward the troopers at high speed. Surprised, the troopers opened fire immediately, riddling the black-skinned alien with laser fire. In a shot, the Farghul woman turned and raced around a bend in the corridor, her stunned would-be saviour sprinting to keep up.
"After them!" the lead trooper ordered. "And you-" he commanded one of the men and motioned toward Inex, who lay prone on the deck, "get this heap back to Seema!" Then, he and the others were gone.
The remaining trooper looked down at the limp form, sighed, and activated his helmet comlink. "Starboard HQ, this is S-25. I'm stranded portside and could use a hand here. Can you spare some people? I could use a cargo dolly, too. We've killed the-"
Abruptly, another blaster shot rang out, sending the trooper's helmet flying and leaving him falling to the deck beside the Sakiyan. A shadow emerged from the relative darkness of the corridor, kneeling beside Inex and turning him over. Using what little remained of his life-force, Inex opened his eyes and tried to make sense of the blurry face before him.
"Where was that guy taking Mir?" Fi demanded.
Inex coughed raggedly, spitting black, Sakiyan blood. "She is... a friend of yours?"
"Yes," Fi replied, "a very good one."
"Seems I have..." Inex confessed, wincing in pain, "failed you again, my dear..."
"Just tell me what I need to know," Fi demanded. "Where?"
"He said... something about his ship. That's... all I know."
"And Damon and the others, they're really coming here?"
"I think... so, yes. I - agh!" Inex cried, holding his chest. It was full of bleeding, burning holes. "Fiola, I... I am sorry. I... need you to believe me. Do you... believe me, Fi?"
Fi looked in Inex's eyes, and could tell by their glaze and colour that those eyes weren't looking back.
"I believe you, Inex."
With one last ragged exhalation, Inex Jonn's body slumped back down onto the cold deck. Fi was in a panic. She'd been on the bridge just now, and knew that Tarvos Ghull's pirate horde had been contacted, and were on their way to Mull Station. Among their number was Damon Aligeri's brother Verik, who her friend had been looking for for as long as she'd known him. And now this strange cyborg-person was making off with the girl Damon loved. Even if Damon himself didn't know it yet, Fi did. And if Mir'isha was whisked away before Damon arrived, the two may never be reunited again. Fiola herself had intentionally walked away from the love of her life back on Rothana, and had spent every moment since in a sinkhole of regret. She wouldn't wish the same on anyone.
But would the others make it here in time? Did they even know where to go?
Damon! Fi pleaded in her mind, Damon, you have to hurry!
The empty silence around her felt like a comlink whose battery had run out. Fi didn't know exactly what she was trying to do, but she knew that she and Damon had probably never been close enough for it to actually work.
Tam... she tried instead. Tam, please hear me... Tam!
The sun overhead was sweltering. Tam could swear it had stopped in the sky directly overhead. Perhaps Molavar had a strange orbital pattern he wasn’t aware of. “Damon?”
The gunslinger was still arguing with the Jenet. “Look, it’s in pristine condition! It still flies and I’m practically giving it to you.”
The talking rodent curled his nose. “Exactly! Still fly, no be scrap heap! Buylowsellhigh.” The alien’s dialect was so slurred and chattering that Tam could hardly understand it. Or was it just the sweat pooling in his ears?
Damon threw his arms in the air. “Then maybe I should nose dive it into that cliff over there and then you’ll buy it!”
Tam tugged on the man’s sleeve. “Damon?!?”
“What do you want, Tam?”
The boy looked up at his friend with wide eyes and beetled brows. “I’m not feeling very good. How much longer is this gonna take?”
Damon turned back to the alien as if he had the answer. “Well, Jyrrl?”
“The kidlet has hard time in Molavar sun?” The Jenet shrugged. “Not my problem.”
Damon smirked. “Well it will be, if something happens to him on your property.”
Jyrrl’s whiskers twittered. “A threat?”
“Of course not! I’m only worried about how authorities might respond if my young friend were to receive an injury on your property.”
The alien waved his hands in the air. “Okayokayokay, cheapskate and racketeer! I take your ‘pristine’ ship, gut it, and sell scrap at premium. Take money and leave here before friend hurts himself.”
“Thank you for your business, Jyrrl. Have a wonderful day.” Damon accepted the alien’s credit transfer on his chit and led Tam away. “And thank you for giving me something to crack that stubborn rat’s resolve.”
“What do you mean?” asked Tam.
“I mean we didn’t even need to use the Force to get Jyrrl to finally make a deal.”
“Glad I could help.” He was just glad to be on the move again. “So what other parts do we need to get? The ones on your datapad?”
Damon slapped the boy on the shoulder and laughed. His words were light and cheerful, but unintelligible. Tam’s brows furrowed as he strained to better understand, but the only words he could discern—and they sounded strangely like Fi—were “Tam, please hear me… Tam!” The next thing he knew, the sun-dried Molavar ground came into sharp contact with his face.
“Tam!” Damon immediately dropped to check on the fallen boy. “Tam, what’s wrong? Come on Tam, speak to me!”
From far behind, Jyrrl shouted, “He’s not on my lot! Not my fault!”
This wasn't good. If Fi was calling out to Tam now, she was in trouble. Damon had last heard Fi's name in the discussion between Ghull and his unknown ally -- could Ghull have changed his mind and turned back to wring what information he could out of the singer? Or was something else going on? Either way, they needed to hurry.
Damon was able to find a small transport for sale -- the Drifter, a Maka-Eekai L4000 that had seen better days but would still serve their needs. He didn't even bother haggling, which left them with only a quarter of the credits they'd started out with. Still, it was enough. As for his other purchases...Damon paused at a small hardware shop only long enough to scrounge together everything he needed and shove a cred stick at the proprietor, who was no doubt getting the better end of the deal. Then they were on the streets again, heading back towards their new ship.
"You holding up okay?" Damon asked Tam. The boy wiped his brow.
" 'M feeling a little better," he said. "Still not doing so hot."
"We're done here," Damon said. "Once we're in space I want you to rest up until we get there, alright?"
Tam nodded wearily. Damon knew that Tam's unique connection to the Force took a lot out of the boy, and he wanted to be sure Tam was alert and ready when they landed on Mull Station. If anything happened to Tam, Damon would never forgive himself. The boy had become like family to Damon, and Damon wasn't going to let anything happen to his tenuous "family". Not again.
Jyrrl had provided one other valuable service to Damon before they'd settled down to the serious business of selling the ship. The Jenet had told him, albeit reluctantly, that he would find Mull Station close by, in the nebula known as "The Whirl." The information had cost Damon both of the blaster pistols he'd stolen from Pavana, but it was worth it. Now he had a destination as well as a ship.
He glanced at Tam again. The boy had a slightly haunted look about him, a look that caused Damon to place a supportive hand on his shoulder. "I'm sure she's fine, Tam."
"No, you're not," Tam looked up at him. "You're worried too."
"Well...yeah," Damon admitted. He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "But she's going to be fine, 'cause we're gonna go see her. Right?"
Tam offered a wan smile. "Right."
It was a while, long after they had set in a course for the Whirl and entered lightspeed, when it occurred to Tam that he wasn’t sure if Damon was talking about Mir or Fi. He decided he’d better make sure they were making the same plans. “Just so you know, we’re going for Mir first.”
Damon leaned back in the pilot’s chair of the Drifter. “We set in a course for the Whirl, didn’t we?”
“I know. I just… We don’t know where Fi is.”
“You don’t sense that through the Force?”
The boy smirked. “I guess passing out every time kinda cuts the emergency calls short.”
“Y’know kid, I think we’ve both learned a lot since we’ve been together. Been through a lot. I’m coming to realize that coincidences are sometimes an illusion. We’ll go save Mir, and I think at some point the Force will help us find and help Fi.”
“Yeah.” Damon’s words did help Tam feel better, but for some reason he didn’t want to show his relief.
“Did I mention to you that I heard Fi’s voice too?”
“She said I had to hurry.” Damon locked eyes with Tam. “Why would Fi call for both of us?”
This got Tam thinking. “She wouldn’t be calling for you if she was in trouble by herself.”
“And she wouldn’t be calling for me if there was someone other than Mir who needed help.”
“So they must be together.”
Damon smiled, reached across the cockpit controls and slapped Tam on the shoulder. “And the Force helps us find Fi…”