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Put Out The Fire

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
mountain_base_by_grimdar.jpg

Hutt Outpost
Saqqar system


Some places in the galaxy were cold, and some places were cold. A kind of cold where with each breath in, your lungs could frost. A kind of cold where you couldn’t feel frostbite because the nerves had already gone numb. A kind of cold where many people found themselves an early grave.
Thankfully, Saqqar wasn’t THAT sort of cold.

But it was still cold.

Connor Harrison had seen most frigid worlds of snow and ice. Rhen Var, Hoth, Zioth. Now at least he could add a new one to the list. Today was expedition of just one to investigate the reach of the Hutts. A growing menace that nestled to the South East of the galaxy who managed to stoke the fires of chaos, corruption and general crime while they watched the worlds burn around them.

It was time to put out the fire. Not that the metaphor worked being on a world of mountainous snow and ice, but the idea was right.

Two single engine ships flew overhead leaving a moisture trail in the sky, and Connor stuck to the mountain side so not to be seen. While the door was technically open for those brave – or stupid – enough to venture across not just dangerous Saqqar terrain but then face a Hutt trade outpost, not many lived to tell the tale.

The Hutt operation needed shutting down, but Connor wanted to know how they operated. On word of Queen of Commenor, Connor kept his visit quiet, but would report back to her if he found anything of worth. Who pulled strings? What external organisations did they have ties to? Where did they have weak links?

To put out a fire, one had to simple away one of the elements fuelling it, and soon enough it would fade away and burn out as if it had been there at all.

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
The Saqqar-Droxu hyperlane connected the planets of Saqqar, Nar Haaska and Droxu. It was a little known fact – primarily because it was also a boring statistic.

Lilla was returning from Nar Haaska which was a rarely visited trade world, located within the Nar Haaska system of the galaxy’s Hutt Space region and lay on the aforementioned hyperlane. Not that the planet was insignificant – it boasted a population in the billions. But Lilla had ended her mission there and had zero interest in returning when she’d left the planet and entered hyperspace.

Which was when her ship developed a malfunction and she was forced to exit hyperspace and stop at the nearest planet and see if she could find some parts to effect a repair. But as she entered the atmosphere, her hopes weren’t so much dashed – as frozen.

Saqqar was an icy planet. Through the cockpit, all she could see were snowy plains and then colossal ruined towers, no doubt left behind by an extinct civilization. Her database told her that, just like the planet she’d so recently left, this was under Hutt jurisdiction. She wondered if Hutts froze if they ventured outside? Or did they wear special jackets to protect themselves from the cold?

She shook her head and brought her thoughts back to the here and now. Just in time to drop down, close to the surface, and avoid the detection of two single engine ships that were no doubt patrolling.

Her computer told her that there was civilisation ahead – and people equated to spare parts. So she set her ship down and headed to the place her scanners told her there was the best chance of finding engine what she needed. She kept close whatever cover she could find and felt a growing sense of…something. She couldn’t pin-point the something, but it was oddly familiar. Almost a sense of déjà vu. Had she been here before she was found on Tatooine, or was it something else causing the Force to gently elbow her in the ribs?

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
Connor kept his greatcoat tight over his tunic and cloak. The dark charcoal grey coat stopped just above the icy stone floor, and it made him look like some smuggler or outlaw walking in from the cold wastes into a warmer outpost, but with a much more icy climate within the hearts of those who made this their home and business.

It had taken a while to climb the mountain side, and with his head down, Connor attracted little attention. There was no need for the Gran trio walking around with their blasters to cause a fuss - they probably suspected the outlander of something, but they knew if he WAS up to no good, he'd meet a much more entertaining and grizzly end than what they could provide.

Steam rose from vents on the side of the huge outpost. Small sleds passed through the icy walkways carrying cargo and goods back and forwards. Pirates, outlaws, criminals and those looking to trade walked around conversing, comparing and bartering.

Looking over his shoulder, Connor had the sense that he was being watched. He probably was. He wasn't intimidated.

"Wanna buy some death-sticks?"

A Toydarian floated by Connor, some neon blue canisters in his hands. He shook his head and walked on.

"Wermo."

Connor wanted to find a human. He would get more from a human than some alien trying to make a fast credit or two. He walked along a little more in the spiraling maze of the ground level, the dozens of fires and heaters around kept the place warm. Not as warm as inside where the main crows resided, but he wasn't just about to walk up and fight his way in. Not yet. He came to a couple of traders dealing sabacc cards by a drum of fire.

"Excuse me. Any of you fine fellows know which Hutt I need to speak to in order to help start a civil war?"

Nothing like adding some spice to a conversation.

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla had one eye on her scanner and the other on he footing. It would not be a smart move to head straight for the source of salvation, only to step straight into a ravine. And such was her attention to what was under her feet that she paid scant attention to what was ahead of her.

But the noise of a ship caught her attention and she glanced up — which was when she noticed the giant saucer shaped building.

She stuffed her scanner in her pocket and looked around furtively, hoping nobody had seen her following its opposed to her eyes! She realised she had an odd sense of priorities — preferring to keep face over the likelihood of being discovered and who knew what the Hutts might do to her.

So she pressed on, able to quicken her pace now she did not have to split her attention. The cold was biting and she was glad her cloak offered some protection, especially the hood. The climb up the side of the mountain should have been laborious — had she not been trained in such exploits for many years. When you can scale a sheer man-made wall, a rugged mountainside offers little challenge. Except for cold hand that is — they were a pain…literally.

Once she neared the summit of the mountain, she sensed a lot of bodies. An awful lot of bodies.

And finally she found artificial footing and followed a walkway until she came to an entrance. Peering inside, the building resembled a trading post. That was a stroke of luck— it meant she was likely to find what she wanted. The only trouble was, knowing this was Hutt space, she suspected a Jedi would not be able to simply ask a favour in return for good-will. She might need some hard currency — which is something she never carried. Or owned.

And there was that feeling again.

She glanced around and there was something vaguely familiar about a figure in a large grey coat.

She smiled to herself. What were the odds on meeting anyone out here that she knew? Let alone in this particular building?

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
The two humans looked up at Connor. One had an eye-patch, the other a big gold-toothed smile. How…quaint. Eye-Patch narrowed his good eye at the man.

”Off-worlder huh?” He laid a card down, the sudden interest almost dying off as this was a normal request. ”You can get anything here for a price – it’s what makes this Empire the best. Course, it’ll cost you heavily if you want to start stirring up trouble and you need muscle to do it.” Eye-Patch sighed as Gold Tooth won a hand. ”And seems like someone’s already collared you.” He glanced up behind Connor.

At the indication, Connor turned his head in the direction Eye-Patch was looking and saw violet eyes glancing their way. For a minute, his eyes went wide and his stomach lurched, but then the aura of one he had met on Tatooine allowed him to relax. Even now, without knowing it, she haunted him.

He pursed his lips.

”Brilliant.”

He hastily thanked the pirates and left them to their game.

”Everything has a price, off-worlder,” Eye-Patch shouted.

Connor walked across to the girl – the Jedi – and had a bemused look on his face. He kept his voice a little low and simply fell in line beside her.

"Either you’re a really bad spy or you’re on official Jedi business. And not a Tusken Raider in sight."

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla spotted him again, and this time she knew it was no quirk of the Force, at least not in some random warning. On the other hand, the Force might be playing games by bringing them together again. But to what end? Lilla did not believe such encounters were random. Either Connor had a role to play in her life or vice versa. Or they both had a role to play in the fate of the galaxy. Which sounded grander but scarier.

“Not joining in?” she asked, resisting the urge to bow — given it would draw unwanted attention to them. “And actually wrong on both counts. Not here spying and strictly speaking on y way back from Jedi business — but my ship developed a problem and dropped out of hyperspace. I need some parts. And I have zero credits to pay for them. So I’m in a bit of a bind.”

“Are you a spy today?” she added, with a smile.

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
So here she was, literally as the Jedi, here in a bind looking for parts. Connor turned away and guided her to do the same. It was a gentleman's way of shirking her away from prying eyes and ears. A young woman in need of help around the court of Hutts wasn't the best thing to be in this day and age.

”Well, I will pay for the parts you need to get out of here, that's not an issue.” And it wasn't. Connor had wealth tucked away, but little to spend it on and no desire to flaunt it, so it was there when needed from years of service and treasure seeking on the side. ”You don't want to hang around here too long looking lost.”

He indicated around with a wave of his finger, not looking specifically at anyone.

”And you could say I'm spying, yes. Am I that suave and sophisticated you could tell? I'm not doing a good job then.”

With a little chuckle, he turned Lilla in front of a fire shooting from an old oil barrel and let it light up their faces and provide warmth.

”You know as well as I do that the Hutts are a menace and they need to be controlled. So close to many of you Jedi and also the Empire, I think it won't be long before they become a pawn in a bigger game with their weapons and crime lords. They need to be stopped.”

He sounded a bit of an idealist all of a sudden - a one man army waging to control a criminal network that had survived and spread for thousands of years. But now it felt he was in a position to at least find their strengths and weaknesses.

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla was conflicted. Of course she wanted to get off this place — and stealing the parts was not an option for moral reasons. Gambling to win them was entirely impractical and relying on good will about as likely to succeed as a Hutt in a butt-kicking competition.

And she knew Connor was being honourable and helpful and generous — and that, in itself was not the problem. What she was about to say would be…

“I appreciate that, and I know that the Remnant will reimburse you for the expense.”

She said it and she expected some sort of comeback about not wanting payment — but she had to say it, despite the risk of offending him.

So she continued to talk and hoped to distract him from the potential sleight. “Spying. It doesn’t have to be suave and sophisticated you know. I was actually trained as one when I was on Tatooine. The governess’s academy was renowned throughout the galaxy for producing spies, assassins and bounty hunters. Fortunately I escaped and a kindly Jedi deactivated the explosive device that all slaves are implanted with. But that’s another story, for another day. Suffice to say, I have some expertise in this area.”

“So, what do we do next!”

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
There they were again – this Remnant. The offer would possible provide a new way in for Connor to see how strong this new band of heroes were. Would they rise from dark ashes or would they collapse and add more fuel to the fire of the Dark Side sweeping over.

”That’s not required. However if you want to have them reimburse me, I would take the opportunity to meet with those in high order with the Remnant, if you could arrange that? Knowledge suits me more than credits.”

While he spoke, he was trying to imagine the girl as a slave. Not in THAT context, but he comment pieced together a picture that this one fighting for the good of all things had once been a slave with her life in the hands of another. The Jedi saved her, and the Jedi took her in.

Was that not just one slave for another?

”What do WE do?” He held his hands over the warmth. ”Well, what you can do is take the credits and get your parts and get out of here. Remnant Jedi are on shaky ground in Hutt territory. I’m here to find out who pulls the power on Saqqar. This isn’t your fight. Not yet.”

Last thing he wanted was to have another injury or, worse, death on his conscious.

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla smiled. “Of course I can arrange that but I…” her voice faltered, unsure of the best words to use in the circumstances. She wanted to say ‘warn’, but that sounded entirely unfriendly and confrontational. “I...must let you know that the Republic Remnant Jedi take a zero tolerance approach to dark-siders. They were, in their infancy, a quite militant group. My understanding is that they are more comfortable with the role of peace-keepers now, but, like the government they serve, they are not going to support, or ally with, anyone who embraces the dark-side – regardless of their intentions. “

“We were politely forbidden to join a Padawan tournament because a known dark-sider was competing.”

“My own views?” Her face was clear evidence of the conflict she was no doubt feeling. “It’s complicated, and I don’t profess to know all of the answers, or even a large percentage of them. If in doubt, I follow the Code. I can’t see how that would land me in hot water.”

Lilla smiled at Connor’s initial attempt at chivalry, and then scowled. “Did I not just explain my position. Does the Jedi Code talk of jurisdiction, and choosing a cause based upon arbitrary lines drawn on some galactic map?”

“You know the answer to that one. So,” her smile had returned now, “What do we do now? Once we’re done, we can then pick up my parts.”

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
Her scowl amused him. He pulled a little puzzled expression, with the slight twist of his head, and turned away from the fire.

”You will never understand how much you remind me of someone. She was like you. A Jedi, through and through. Dedicated to her cause and her Order. Stubborn as a mule, and a scowl to end all scowls.” He began to walk away, indicating with her head to follow. ”She took risks, but was always two steps ahead, and didn’t need anyone to look out for her no matter how much she may have looked like she did. Reckless at times and frustratingly like to use long words.”

Connor was walking towards the huge dome shaped building that was at the far end of the bazaar. A wind swept through, bringing with it a little chill in the air. He was aiming for the main complex where the Hutts and their criminal ring resided.

”And anyway, who said I was a Dark Sider. Once, maybe. But now? I’m sort of in the middle. I understand the Dark Side, and also the Light. Doesn’t mean I serve either. Or, maybe it does? Maybe that’s something your Remnant could try to identify. And maybe one day I could help them in their cause. Maybe.”

Looking ahead, noting a few colourful characters, the bazaar thinned to a large pair of steel doors with armed patrols outside and a large drum of dire in the stone ground. The mountain pass now was open on either side – if they didn’t like you, you had a one way ticket down the side of the mountain.

”Let’s go in. Let’s stir some trouble. Find out who is in charge. Find out what their stance is around the system.” He turned to the girl, those violet eyes. Connor gave her a small smile. ”Trust me, ok? This won’t last long.”

Before she had chance to speak, Connor placed his hand behind her neck and found her Force aura. The aura that shone and fuelled her body. Connor poured his energy through to scramble her nervous system and overload her senses.

No pain, but a strong sense of disorientation and lack of motor skills.

Connor used this to cup her arm in his and drag her along.

”We have a Remnant Jedi here to instigate a rebellion,” he called out with authority and confidence – and a hint of persuasion. ”The bazaar is too exposed – open the doors so we can find out what she knows. I’ll take care of her.”

After their blasters slowly lowered to the darkly dressed man – probably a bounty hunter - and his Jedi, looking like she had been stunned, the masked guards nodded and turned to the steel gate and punched in a code. The great doors opened, spilling chunks of ice from the top, and beckoned them into the large complex that sat above Saqqar.

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla's smile broadened to a grin. "I like her already. Did she stand for no nonsense from you too?" If possible, the grin widened further. "And it's not about being a dark-sider but about where you draw your Force energy from. Using negative emotions and the dark-side, or no emotions and the light. Do you demand the Force serves you, or do you ask for its help?"

She walked as they talked, keeping her voice low. "Stirring up trouble? That's an interesting app-"

LIlla had never been drunk - she hardly ever had alcohol and even then, never finished a drink - but one day she would become inebriated and reflect that, this was exactly how she felt right now. She lacked coordination, could't speak without slurring and felt herself be led by Connor forwards.

He was saying things but they didn't entirely make sense. Perhaps after a nice lie down she would feel better? Except he wouldn't let her lie down, but guided her forwards and kept her upright.

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
"Brrak nash, eej oolka."

A masked figure, dressed in crimson and black, walked to meet Connor as an icy breeze blew in behind the pair. Lilla slumped in his arm, trying to stand and get her balance, but his hand remained on her neck. The crimson guard waved his hand high. The steel doors began to close.

”My name isn't important. I'm here collecting bounty on Jedi. I caught this one sniffing around. She's Remnant.”

Connor held her up. The guard looked at the girl and shook his masked face. Turning, he beckoned them to follow. So he did, and he let the grip go of Lilla. Feeling would resume and the world would come back into focus.

”You're fine, just stay drowsy until he's gone,” he whispered.

The two of them walked through the dimly lit hold which had torches flaming on the walls. A series of lights illuminated corridors; one led up, two led down. Crimson Face pointed to the second one leading down.

"Yaya nochaee. Lal ahrk, bunt orga rook. Qez?"

The guard laughed and shook his head, and he went up. Connor watched him go out of sight. Behind them, a couple more guards stationed themselves by the steel doors in conversation.

”You ok?” He held her arms and stood in front of her, the torchlight casting a somewhat mystical glow over his face. ”You're alright. Come on, down here. He's going to the private chamber up top, and we need to wait until we are summoned. Could be soon, could be hours. I don't know. But we're in, and now we go make ourselves comfortable in the guest halls. Music, games, criminals and vagrants. Your sort of people, no?"

Connor would help her as much as she would let him.

”And, no, she didn't stand for any nonsense. She tolerated me, more than she let on I think. There was a soft spot for me, somewhere. And the Force? I serve it, it doesn't serve me. If we can't preserve it and protect it from those who wish to abuse it, then what are we doing here.”

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla understood many languages, and the Force enabled her to speak even more – but in this state, the masked figure might well have been speaking ancient Sith. Maybe he was speaking ancient Sith. She had an overwhelming desire to laugh.

Which was when the voices hit her. In this state, she was not able to filter out any of her natural empathetic tendencies. Time and practice had allowed her to build up a mental barrier to unwanted thoughts and emotions – something she was now able to do without any conscious effort. But it was a technique that faltered when under stress. To combat that, she had learned to use the Force to bolster the ability. But here and now? She was in no fit state to use her natural barriers, nor to connect to the Force.

So, the thoughts of all those around her flooded her mind at once. Had she been clear-headed, he would have been able to capitalise on the natural ability. Right here and right now? She was simply overwhelmed, and tried to put her hands over her ears – in the hope it would make a difference – which of course it wouldn’t.

“Make ‘em shtop,” she managed, as she squeezed her eyes tight shut and had to make the decision to keep her balance, or try to block out the voices. Balance lost. It wasn’t even a close run thing.

It was a good thing Connor was a strong, for he would not be holding up a dead weight. She wasn’t necessarily heavy, but keeping her upright would be a greater challenge than carrying her.

Then Connor’s words most prevalent and she squinted at him – at precisely the same time as he let go of her.

She collapsed to the floor, but was pleased to sense that the voices were abating – she was clearly regaining some of her mental sharpness – although her dignity was entirely lost. Sighing in a manner that denoted she was huffed, she regained her feet, a little unsteadily, and peered at Connor.

She had lots of things she wanted to say to him but didn’t trust her mind or her tongue to translate them into coherent words. So she settled for a scowl and walked beside him.

Finally they stopped and he spoke again.

“OK?” there was sarcasm dripping from syllables that didn’t even exist in that word. “Never felt better,” she said and pulled the Force to her, allowing the calming nature to refresh her and flush any after effects out of her nervous system. “Good plan,” she conceded once she felt back to normal. “Next time, my turn.”

Her eyes did not narrow at the most likely intended slight. “Yes, I spent my formative years surrounded by those types. Although I can only empathise and associate myself with the vagrants.”

And then her characteristic smile returned. “And glad to hear we’re on the same page with regards the Force. Now, what are the odds I can get a glass of water around here?”

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
The scowl and bitter hint in her words were easy to ignore - she'd already given him the look, so now it was normal. The sounds of music started to filter down the passageway, and bodies passed them. Guards were dotted around, but not exactly on all corners. While in the company of a Hutt, you were either a welcome guest or dead man - or woman - walking. There was no way out alive unless you had been invited in.

The pair walked through, following the music until a large room opened up before them. Music, card games, conversation, smoke. Typical Hutt affair. Connor scanned the room and couldn't help a half-smile - the Hutts certainly put on a show for the clientele.

”Welcome to a real wretched hive of scum and villainy, Lilla.” He took the steps down into the room casually. ”You need to know what you want, why you want it and how you want to get it. You can always buy your way out, or if your good with words, talk. But somehow I think you've got a lot to learn.”

Between them and their attire, they didn't stand out as anything but smugglers or travelers. They had time on their side being within these walls at all.

”If you want parts, we find them here. In the meantime I find out who pulls the strings. And maybe even work our way to the Hutt himself.”

Rubbing a hand over his chin, he knew how dangerous a situation they were in. Yet he wasn't worried for himself, he somehow didn't want the girl involved or at risk.

”Don't do anything rash. Here, you're not a Jedi. Ok? You're a pilot. You want parts. That's it. Time to talk the talk.”

He shot her a smile and indicated to the room ahead.

”Go find your water. And a blue milk, if you're offering.”

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla smiled as Connor led her to the main room, and introduced her to what he must presume were sights she was unaccustomed to. Except she’d been raised on a world where the Hutts held sway. And she’d been in and around these places from a young age — certainly south of double figures. But to point out these facts would appear petulant, and so she allowed the fact to slide and instead listened to the man who, she was sure, was going to be the main reason they would get out alive — having dented the Hutt’s precious arrangements.

“Talking my way out would never work,” Lilla confirmed. “I was never one to fast-talk my way in or out of anything. But I did receive enough training to pass off in any company — as long as my credentials are not scrutinised. But given they already know me as a Republic Jedi, and I know all about one of them, I suspect any need for bluffing has gone.”

“Although not everyone here is privy to that information, are they? So I agree, I’ll see who has the parts and you see who is the one to pull if we’re to topple this mini-kingdom. And if I see blue milk in this establishment, I’ll drink some too!”

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
”Don’t doubt yourself. Your ability to fast-talk isn’t always the way out of things. It’s about having conviction and confidence in your tone – believe what you are saying. See the outcome in your mind’s eye. If you want something, you work to get it. That’s all there is to it.”

With a final sweep of the room, Connor walked by and patted the Jedi on her shoulder.

”Trust the Force,” he whispered.

Maybe this was a test for her. For them both? Maybe the Force had brought them together on a near neutral, unknown world. Was it time for Connor to identify where his allegiance and loyalty lay? Was it time for Lilla to find what sort of Jedi she was and how far she would go for justice?

He walked around the right, not focusing on anyone in particular, just getting a feel for things. The room was under control. It wasn’t a public bar or cantina – this was a Hutt’s pleasure palace. Everything that went down here to was to benefit the Hutt, the system and the crime lords. More money meant more muscle and drugs. More bodies meant more bounty hunters and slaves. More connections meant more corruption and intel. Everything here was laced with a foul stench of greed.

Connor wrinkled his nose and stopped at the nearest human stood watching the card game playing out.

”Quite a game,” he said cheerfully. ”Tell me, who’s in charge around here?”

The human looked at Connor. ”I’ll say. Jarka’s been playing a winning hand all afternoon. Name’s Qetal.”

”Connor.” He shook the hand with a smile.

”Not going to lie, Connor, I know we’re here to get credits, get connected and get a good role in this galactic game of war. The Hutt’s up at the top of this outpost, watchin’ all the ships come and go, planning what trade route to hit next, where to bleed into. He’s after Commenor soon, I think. Lot of rich pickin’ there.”

Connor nodded – there was indeed. He had a good point.

”You’re not gonna get up there just by asking. I mean, I can always try bring you up for a chat. What’s your trade?”

”Former Resistance commander. Now, I help people with problems. For the right price. And no questions, if you get my drift.”

A few words spoke volumes. Connor looked left and right casually, and tried to spot Lilla in the few seconds he had.

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla nodded. Connor could be infuriating, but he was caring and compassionate in equal measures. And he was usually right. She was taught not to try to sweet-talk your way out of a situation, but instead to keep things simple and avoid speaking as much as possible.

“I do,” she whispered back. ‘More than you’ll ever know.’

She watched him move across the floor. He had a presence that on one hand was a bonus, and in another was a hindrance – at least in her opinion. His presence tended to get him noticed and many fell into line with his will – she’d observed that. But alpha males? They would react less positively to him, she was sure. He was a threat.

She, on the other hand, had the opposite problem. She was unassuming. She could get information easily, because nobody feared her. But she commanded no respect and if someone did not want to play ball, she had limited opportunity to influence them.

So, she made her way around the room in the opposite direction. She walked with a slight stoop – it made her look even less imposing – not someone who was a threat. She meandered, rather than walked and kept to the wall wherever she could. As she progressed, she listened to conversations. Drugs, slaves, more drugs, munitions and then a conversation she wanted to hear.

She stood idly by as the chat developed. The Rodian was a small time player – too small for this company. He had parts, but basic ones and not very many. The dealers he was talking to wanted exotic items (which they could accept in low quantities) or basic parts (but in volume).

Once the Rodian had been left on his own, Lilla sat down beside him. He didn’t even look up from his drink as she lowered herself onto the seat.

“I know a buyer,” she said quietly, so only he could hear.

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 

Connor Harrison

You've yet to have your finest hour
Character
Lilla was certainly blending in, and now and then Connor lost her. Only on the final sweep did he see her sat with a Rodian. A flicker of doubt crossed his mind, but it soon went. There was no need to worry about this woman – there was no gain, or loss, to be made. Or was there?

Qetal cocked his head and nodded.

”Defector, eh? Can’t say you’re the first, won’t be the last. Got to look after yourself, not just a faceless regime, eh.”

Connor smirked a little.

”That’s the plan.”

He was aware that the crimson guard who welcomed them into the outpost still hadn’t come back from the quarters above. Connor looked to the stairs leading down into the large room, but there was no sign.

”I’ve been part of this crew for a couple of years now, seen a lot of people come and go. You seem decent. Let me do try pull a string to get you up there. You wait here.”

The smuggler slapped Connor on the arm, to which he didn’t react, and Qetal sidled past. Connor watched him to go the other end of the room and begin talking to another crimson guard, even pointing back, making some hand signals.

Connor played it cool as if he wasn’t really paying attention. Things were either going to go worse, or better.

In his luck, it was probably worse.

He found Lilla sat with the Rodian and mapped how he could get to her if things turned sour. Just what WAS she doing?

[member="Lilla Syrin"]
 

Lilla Syrin

A great leap forward often requires first taking t
Writer
Lilla received no response, so repeated her offer.

Finally, the Rodian looked up from his drink and stared at her. “Really?” he said, his sarcasm evident.

“Yes. Not close, but an entirely reliable and fair dealer that doesn’t need volume and is not interested in exotic. And he’ll take off you as much as you can bring him. And, most importantly, you can trust him.”

The dealer in question was known to Lilla. He ran a shop that gave all of its profits to the down and outs of Mos Espa. He would turn a blind eye to the origin of goods, on the basis that the sale would benefit those unable to look after themselves.

It had been a moral dilemma for Lilla then, and still was. But, when looking at the big picture, it was for the greater good.

“And you’ll want a significant fee, no doubt?”

“No,” Lilla replied. “Just a few parts. Contact him when you get back to your ship. If you can do business, leave these parts here for me.” She gave the Rodian a small list.

“Where’s the catch?”

“No catch, I’m just a middle man and I could do with a few spare parts.”

“Deal,” the Rodian said and shook Lilla’s hand.

She smiled as the Rodian stood and left the room. As he did, she subtly scanned the area for Connor and spotted him. He, no doubt, had seen her too. But she did not acknowledge him, but sat back, against the wall and into the shadows.

Waiting.

[member="Connor Harrison"]
 
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