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Old 09-08-2006, 04:24 PM   #38
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Chapter 10
The room was dark, dreary and stank like a wet Bantha. The room was rather small and was full of plasteel canisters and crates that were full of whatever the rust bucket was shipping to Avalon. Jaqrand tried to ignore the smells as he made himself more comfortable in a small corner of the cargo hold. He wrinkled his nose as he lit one of his cigarras and breathed in the clove smell. He settled down against his pack and relaxed. Twenty thousand credits and I get the seat next to the fat guy or in this case, the cargo hold, he thought ruefully.

A slight noise sounded in the hold. Jaqrand turned to look for it with a bored expression on his face. Out of one of the empty came a…mouse. Jaqrand shook his head and kicked at the beast, which squeaked and scampered off. Taking a long drag, he pulled out the datapad that Keegan had given him and flipped it on. He scrolled down to the image of his target. Looking at the image, he said aloud, “You better be worth it Jedi.”

For the past two days he had been confined to the cargo hold, except to use the refresher, traveling to Avalon after he found out that his quarry had already left for the system. He paid good money for no questions asked to the captain of the cargo vessel for passage to Avalon. It was one of the few Republic merchant vessels that had the coordinates to the system. The rest were Avalonian and they weren’t talking. There were a few Republic vessels that wouldn’t offer either. Jaqrand suspected that they could smell his intentions about a mile away except for the captain of this ship. Amazing what money can do, he thought.

Now here he was sitting in this damned cargo hold smoking a cigarra and just waiting. Bounty hunter life was the good life since you always made creds on the lives of other people. It was good if you had your own ship, as he had, but it was worthless when he couldn’t get the coordinates to the system. He tried getting them but for some mysterious reason, he forgot them and he lost the datapad that he had them written on. Yep, being stuck in a cargo hold was definitely worth it, for the amount that his client was paying him for.

Placing the still lit datapad where he could still see the runt of a Jedi he was supposed to go after, he pulled his pack out from behind him. He pulled out various devices that he had used on his previous victims and inspected him. He looked at an extremely powerful Force inhibitor that even the strongest of Jedi couldn’t break. He smiled in pleasure at the last victim that wore it and sighed. Oh how she screamed when she realized that the Force abandoned her. She practically begged me to end her life of course I did more than that. Yes it would come in handy.

His personal favorite was one that he had used only once. He pulled out a vial that held a strange liquid substance in it and thought about the last time he had used it. After that first time, he never used it again. He was waiting, just waiting for the right person to use it on. From what he had heard of his quarry, it might be a good time to use it. He checked to make sure that the vial was undamaged and sealed properly as well as checked the Force inhibitor. As he finished his inspections, he looked once more at the datapad and smiled. He thought back to a time when he had a partner.

“What do we do now boss? Make her beg for mercy?” Jaqrand asked smiling a sadistic smile. Though his name wasn’t Jaqrand then; it was something else. It was…

“We break her. Our fearless leader wants this one alive,” a voice sounded from the shadows. “Use that new concoction that you made.”

“Right away,” and Jaqrand pulled his newest creation out of a box. It was rather bulky but he regarded it with pride and joy. He tested it to make sure the needle worked properly. Chuckling, he placed the contraption neck to the Jedi’s neck at the base of her skull. The Jedi let out a short gasp as the needle stuck her and injected her with his concoction. Both he and his partner exited the room, leaving the Jedi still strapped to the table.

When the screams began and the incoherent words of fear, panic, rage all rolled into one, his partner asked, “What was in that vial you gave her?”

“Something that will make her live her worse fears, nightmares, anything that she hides like all of them liars. It is not narrowed down to any one plant source but several. What makes it special is that there is no cure for it. It embeds itself deep within the mind.”

“As long as she lives,” was all the response he got.

Jaqrand sat there thinking about that time and held up the vial again. He thought about something while gazing at the vial. His face contorted into a wicked smile and made a mental note to ask about a particular object on Avalon when he got there. Still looking at the vial he said to himself, “You taught us well old friend. I often wish you were here to share the spoils but you left like a coward. Still you taught us all well and maybe we shall meet again.”

Draconis was kneeling in front of a small altar in his quarters with his hands folded in prayer. His knees were tucked under him and his rear rested on his heels. He gazed up fondly at the altar, at the various marble plaques that bore the names of family and ancestors. He gave a low bow, placing his ears between his shoulders and touched his forehead to the rung he was kneeling on. Rising back up to his previous position he said reverently, “Honorable ancestors, grant me the strength and courage to reveal a traitor to our great people. Also grant that the children to soon be in our care grow up to honor our ways and disband the taint of the Jedi.”

He finished his prayer with a phrase in Avalonian and rose gracefully to head towards the door. On the other side was Admiral Keegan pacing impatiently and looking as if he were the one the bounty hunter was after. As soon as he had opened the door, Keegan stopped pacing and stood in an at ease position. Draconis just chuckled at him and said, “You don’t have to waste your time on ceremony. You’re not going to impress anybody.”

Embarrassed and angry at the disrespect to his rank, Keegan released his posture to look more casual. He swallowed his anger and responded, “You sent for me Count?”

“Yes I did,” Draconis replied in a lackadaisical manner as he sauntered towards a cabinet in the walls. He paused with his hands on the handles and continued, “It has become clear to me that you are a unique individual Keegan. You have a bit of Force sensitivity around you but it is different than what the Jedi are used to.”

“Curses on the Jedi,” Keegan spat. His anger was evident as he remained rooted to where he was standing.

“Yes I know: they let your homeworld die because of Revan and Malak, blah, blah, but that is not the point. What I am proposing is that you learn techniques to evade and to torture Jedi.” Draconis sounded bored as he said it and wondered how in the world Keegan managed to last this long in the fleet with his anger so apparent.

“They deserve to be eradicated,” Keegan tried to justify it. He hated it when Draconis poked fun at him for his beliefs, making them seem like petty sibling squabbles.

“Whatever. What I am saying is that Kirabaros and the other Jedi he knows will not cave easily. They throw up walls of base emotions to hide what they really are thinking of. I have figured out a way to follow those base emotions and thoughts through the bonds they share and torture them. It hasn’t been tested completely but I aim to try it. It might make all of our targets easier to catch. Call it a mental disability if you will.” Draconis released the handles of the cabinet and turned to face Keegan.

“What does that have to do with me?”

“I am going to teach it to you. I will also help you improve your fighting skills,’ and with a sharp turn Draconis turned back to face the cabinet. He flung both doors open to reveal a collection of weaponry that rivaled what some of the best bounty hunters and mercenaries had. “Trust me. You’ll need it.”

“I don’t trust you but I’m in this too far so I will see what is going on,” Keegan retorted and stepped up to better view the cabinet’s interior.

“Good. We start now.” Draconis pulled out a practice blade, a heavy long sword that was double edged. He held it with a powerful grip in his left while he tossed easily a similar blade to Keegan whose arms literally dropped at the weight. Draconis laughed, “You are definitely too soft for my taste. You need to shape up. Force, even the Mandalorians could hold one of these.”

Keegan said nothing but adjusted his grip on the handle. With as much strength as he could muster, he brought the heavy blade into a fighting stance. This is getting more regrettable by the minute, was the last thought running through his head before Draconis came at him with a swing. He only hoped that Draconis wouldn’t get it into his head to behead him. He looked to see his ‘partner’ grin at him in a sadistic fashion.

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