Master Sideth was not, in fact, entirely comfortable in the Drunkard’s Vote cantina. He was there looking for someone named only “Jeb”, a human trader of some repute. Just WHAT repute, he wasn’t entirely sure, but contacts on Coruscant had said he did a lot of traveling around various parts of the Galaxy, was generally known for not losing members of his crew to the Empire, and could be counted on to be, when needed, discrete.
The uncomfortable looking Jedi stood out amidst the general riffraff of Coruscant’s trading and spaceport centers in such a way that several people had already asked if he was lost. The fourth such person to approach him hadn’t had such worries.
“I’m Jeb. I’m not entirely sure what you folks want from me, but I was told that the idea wasn’t one I should pass up, at least not without hearing what you had to say.”
“Er… yes. Captain Jeb. I’m Master Sideth, of the Jedi Council on Tython. We have a rather unusual situation on our hands, and as such were hoping that some sort of accord might be reached regarding two very skilled Jedi that have previously been in my employ.”
“Well yes. They’ve been removed from their positions within the Temple for… er… misconduct.”
“Oh, so you want me to babysit them while they’re in time out, huh?”
“Er… not exactly. But… well. Yes, and no. They need positions away from teaching, and away from impressionable Padawans, but they’re highly skilled and useful, as well as being largely pragmatic individuals.”
“So what do I get out of this, besides two hand-waving Jedi to keep out of trouble?”
“You get the best star-chart reader we have, and one of the best battle healers we’ve ever seen. Both were in teaching positions in the Temple, but … that is no longer an option for them. They’d be valuable members of a crew, and I can guarantee their willingness to obey orders. Both are capable in flight crew duties as well.”
Jeb seemed to think about that for a moment. He didn’t currently have a full time healer. Star charts weren’t so much a problem, but an extra navigator was never a bad thing to have around.
The Jedi looked even more uncomfortable. “There is also this.” He lay a bag of credits on the table. “It’s not much, but it’s their pay for the rest of the month. They’ve agreed to let me use it to help secure an appropriate assignment.”
Jeb weighed the bag in his hand. It wasn’t much, but it was something. And he really could stand to have a trained medic on staff. “How long do you want me to play ‘keeper’ for you?”
“That’s unknown at this time, Captain.”
“Then this ain’t enough pay. Make it six month’s salary and you got yourself a deal,” replied Jeb with a dark look on his face.
Master Sideth frowned. “And how am I to know you’ll pay this to these two Jedi properly?”
Jeb grinned. “How are you to know I won’t space them as soon as we leave the atmosphere? Look, sunshine. Fact is, I ain’t never stiffed a member of my crew. Ever. You don’t believe me, well, there ain’t nothing I can do about that. But if you want me to do your job for you, you’re gonna pay me in advance. Right here, right now. Otherwise, you can take your misbehaving children and your coin and your lightsaber, and shove ‘em both where the sun don’t shine.”
Sideth focused and waved his hand before Jeb. “One month’s pay will be fine.”
Jeb smiled. “No it won’t. And your parlor tricks won’t work on me. Six months pay. Final chance, sunshine.”
Sideth grunted, reached into his robes, and added to the pouch before handing it over.
Jeb felt the wait of the pouch, grinned, and shook the Jedi master’s hand.
Two days later, Aely found herself and her (admittedly few) worldly possessions waiting on a transport ship bound for Coruscant. Someone named Jeb would apparently be meeting them there for assignment details and her duties within something named the Coruscant Trade Company.
It didn’t sound promising, for what she knew of most unaffiliated Traders, but … well, it was better than being thrown out entirely. Master Sideth hadn’t had much to say about the assignment, other than that it would likely take them all over the galaxy, and would probably be at least somewhat dangerous. There wasn’t a lot known about the Empire’s movements in the farther worlds, but it was common knowledge that traders were usually the ones doing questionable assignments.
Arrens sat dozing in the last of the Tython afternoon sunshine, unconcerned at the moment. At least, regardless of what happened with this Jeb person, they’d be handling it together.
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