A Fateful Meeting



Nar Shaddaa
Corellian Sector

The Jedi Knight's long legs propelled him quickly through the Corellian Sector of the smuggler's moon, the irritation evident in his eyes keeping him from being accosted by the various characters who called Nar Shaddaa their home. Gone were his Jedi robes, the Knight having left them in his ship in favor for an outfit that would allow him to blend in easier amongst the criminals, gamblers, and spacers who frequented the Corellian Sector. His long jacket allowed him to conceal both his lightsaber and his blaster, though he had positioned the blaster in such a way that it would be easily spotted by people looking for weapons. He was doing everything he could to avoid being identified as a Jedi, at least until he needed to identify himself as one. The rest of his equipment, such as his comlink, spanner, and even a vibroblade in a holster on his ankle, could easily be carried by anyone and, as such, he had no need to hide it.

Approximately one rotation before, a Republic senator had been murdered in this very sector and his body taken by a gang that referred to themselves as the Warriors of Justice. The brief he had received from the Council had little intel, though the Republic's liaison had been able to shed a little light on the group. They were a known terrorist group and, until the assassination of the senator, had avoided the scrutiny of the Republic. They were unaffiliated, at least as far as any of the known Hutt families were concerned, and their rhetoric consisted mainly of decrying the lack of the Republic to do anything about increasing crime rates and proliferation of spice and illegal weapons. Were it not for the fact that they had publicly claimed credit for the senator's assassination, the Republic likely would have cracked down on the Hutts themselves. As it were, however, the group had managed to do nothing but undermine their own goals, primarily because the Hutts had agreed to work with the Republic if they sent an investigation.

Given that he was the closest Jedi in the region, having been handling a trade dispute on Daalang, Celtar had been dispatched to investigate the assassination and, if able, bring the Warriors of Justice to justice. So far, his investigation had returned little. There was little footage of the area where the senator had been slain and, of what existed, the details were poor at best. Eyewitnesses hadn't made themselves known and, as murders were common on Nar Shaddaa, few people even remembered the incident a day later. Of those who had remembered the killing, even fewer wished to speak with him. It was only based on one off-handed comment that gave Celtar the hunch to investigate a nearby cantina.

The sign above the cantina was dirty and damaged and Celtar couldn't even read the name above the door. As he walked in, he stretched out with the Force. He was searching for guidance, of an indication of where to go, or of a person of interest to whom he could talk. Nar Shaddaa's presence in the Force was booming as a result of the billions of people who lived onworld, though the flow of the Force was hard to decipher even for Celtar. He kept up his mental search as he made his way to the bar, locking eyes with the Zabrak woman who was tending the bar. "I'll have a Rodian Splice and start a tab," he said loud enough for her and a few others near him to hear. He was playing the part of the headstrong but desperate smuggler and, while he wanted to begin asking her questions immediately, the Force told him that now was not the time to do so.

And so he grabbed his drink from the bar and made his way towards a corner table with a good view of not only the door but the whole cantina. The Force had led him here for a reason and he knew better than to ignore its will. If it wanted him to wait, he would wait. At the very least, he had a good drink to sip on.


That was probably the best way to describe the current status of the Corellian Sector of Nar Shaddaa. While normally bustling with activity, that activity usually didn't involve the Hutts' private security forces as well as the local government's actively patroling the streets as though they were prepared for some kind of invasion. As such, many of the less-than-savory-types had actively slinked back into the shadows they'd crawled out of. Such ideas might be rather hypocritical or at least ironic considering the Smuggler's Moon's usual day to day, but there was a difference between Hutt-sanctioned activities and unsanctioned ones. The block's local spice trader was very much open for business, but the little sneak thieves and pickpockets were nowhere in sight.

One particular pickpocket, a rather short thin human child with heavily-matted blond hair, had found some semblance of safety hiding out in one of the local cantinas. One of the bartenders had let the child hide out in the back with the promise that they'd stay away from the customers and do the dishes. The kid couldn't help themselves though whenever a new customer entered the establishment. Peaking their little head out from behind the curtain, the youngling would watch for a moment as the newcomer made an order before they ducked away from the barkeep's eyes.

So the child had seen the smuggler make his rather loud order and demand to open a tab, sure. They'd also seen the rather unfriendly looks some of the other patrons had made at the man before deciding he wasn't worth their time. Well, most did. A large Trandoshan male and his two Durosian accomplices stood up from a table near the front corner of the cantina and made a beeline for the lippy smuggler.

Charrok Spineback. Male. Former bounty hunter, now local thug. Rumored to have been "zeroed" during last hunt. Trando Exile now. Glitbiter too. Probably related. Fights with shockgaunts and curved vibrosabers. Durosians. Deren and Beren De Balos. Twins. Former smugglers that got caught skimming spice. Now hired muscle with Charrok. Less sadistic than the Trandoshan, but not by much. Preferred blaster rifles and supporting Charrok from afar.

Shaking their head slightly, the child attempted to refocus on cleaning the dishes, but this was a moment they'd been waiting for all day. Charrok was known to be distrustful of banks, so he kept a large amount of credits on him at all times. Specifically he kept them in a large bag on his belt on his back right side. Normally, he sat around too much for the child to even get a glimpse of the satchel...but there it was.


The sink was still running as the youngling slipped into the main cantina.

Corellian Sector, Nar Shaddaa
Celtar wasn't even three sips into his Rodian Splice when the scraping of chairs cut through the din that was the cantina's patrons. The Jedi had no need to look up from his datapad, not when he had the Force. The sound of the chairs had been its way of warning him and the way that the energy had shifted in the space around him was plenty of indication what was going on. Irritation and dismissal gave way to apprehension and a sense of bloodthirst, though three men felt markedly different in the Force. Those men weren't apprehensive of anything, no. Instead, they were the bloodthirsty hunters who were making a beeline for the seated Knight.

As they approached his table, Celtar still didn't look up from his datapad. He wasn't actually looking at anything, though he had no need to further provoke them if they were just going to try to rob him anyway. Indeed, the Trandoshan began snarling in what might have been his native tongue before switching to Huttese. "<<I said you're at our table, outsider.>>" The Durosians flanking the Trandoshan spread out, positioning themselves at Celtar's 10 and 2. Not the worst approach I've seen, thought the Knight with a chuckle as he continued to scroll on his datapad.

The chuckle did nothing but provoke the Trandoshan and his allies and, with an irritated growl, he began speaking Basic. "You're a brave man, outsider. Brave or stupid. Either way, you owe us money." Celtar looked over his datapad at the Trandoshan with a look of sheer annoyance. "I don't have any credits, at least not for you." As he spoke, Celtar stood and sat the datapad on the table before putting his arms out to the sides, his hands open and palms facing the aggressors in a 'what are you gonna do' gesture. "Plus, I doubt the Scorekeeper would give you many points for fighting alongside two of the biggest schutta-spawn sleemos in the sector. Not that that'd stop a bantha-brained lizard like yourself." While he spoke, Celtar adjusted his feet slightly, using his hands to distract the crowd and, more importantly, his aggressors. He moved his feet into a wider stance, specifically the opening stance of Soresu.

Celtar wasn't normally so vocal, though the need to find out what had happened with the Senator's body and the need to find those responsible had forced him to consider alternate ways of defusing situations. Plus, he looked like a spacer who was down on his luck so he needed to act like a spacer who was down on his luck. Acquiescing to any demands would destroy the possibility that any affiliates of the Warriors of Justice would approach him. Outright fighting them went against the Jedi Code and was unnecessarily risky. Most importantly, the Force itself seemed to be aiding Celtar as he chose his insults, as if purposefully pushing the Trandoshan's buttons.

With a hiss that turned into a howl, the Trandoshan charged him. His left arm lashed out in a jab that Celtar ducked underneath. At once, his legs pivoted and he rose up, driving his shoulder into the armpit of the Trandoshan as his hands grabbed the lizard's wrist. His momentum carried him up and over Celtar's shoulder and gravity brought him back down, slamming into the table with a sickening thud. For all of the lizard's threats and posturing, the fight was over before it ever started.

Before Celtar could express his apologies to the complaining bartender and the angry patrons nearby, however, he heard the deadly thrum of a vibroblade or, more accurately, two vibroblades. The Duros had entered the fight, though had moved to Celtar's 3 and 9 and, were it not for the Force, he might be hard pressed to defend against them. As it were, however, he focused his energy towards his peripheral vision and saw both of them as if they were standing right in front of him. He dropped his center of gravity and waited, though he didn't need to wait long.

Both brothers acted in unison, each a mirror to the other. While one slashed from the left, the other slashed from the right. Celtar turned to the brother on his right and waited for the exact moment that the Force told him was coming. He intercepted the man's wrist and lashed out with a powerful backwards kick, forcing Deren away and temporarily out of the fight. He spun on one foot, coming side to side with Beren and hooking his elbow around the Durosian's forearm. Using his 6'3 stature to the fullest, Celtar pushed himself to his fullest height while bringing his elbow in and up. The effect was a sickening hyperextension of Beren's arm, the resulting cracks and pops loud enough to be heard over the background noise. Letting go of his grip on the Durosian's now-empty hand, Celtar pushed him forward into the approaching Deren. Deren, focused solely on killing the Jedi Knight, was caught off guard and also caught by his brother, barely managing to avoid stabbing his kin.

Finishing the fight, Celtar grabbed a chair and struck both of them with it, shattering the chair into thousands of pieces and sending splinters flying. They landed a few feet from the unconscious form of the Trandoshan and Celtar strode over to stand between them. "I told you I didn't have credits, perhaps you should choose better targets." Turning to the bartender, he shrugged and made his way over to the bar. "Add it to their tab, I'm sure they can pay for it. Plus, I heard them say they were buying me a new drink since mine was ruined."

There were three things any good pickpocket needed: speed, skill, and luck.

The child took several calming breaths as they approached the incipient scuffle. A very eloquent mantra played over and over again through their mind.

You don't see me. I'm not here. You don't see me. I'm not here. You don't see me...

Admittedly the child wasn't sure why this worked as well as it did, but she'd never been caught when doing it so far so she wasn't about to jinx herself. The smuggler was talking trash already. She could almost feel Charrok's vision narrow so far as to exclude all things except for this human male before him. The Durosians were a bit more aloof until the smuggler called them some very unsavory names.

Still, the child, also a human, continued her mental mantra anyway as they moved to within a meter of the four. She had a feeling that the human was actively trying to provoke a less-than-friendly response from Charrok and the Twins. The man had to have a plan here... and yep ...they were fighting. Or rather the smuggler was putting on a short clinic against the larger Trandoshan. Moving in behind the smuggler, the kid had originally planned to simply shadow the man as he danced with Charrok, but suddenly the Trandoshan was crashing through a table. Well, that would make her task easier, right?

Well, it would have, but she saw it. A glint along the human male's belt. Something cylindrical and shiny. It was less of a conscious decision and more of an instinctive move. Small hands moved like a flash. The object was heavier than she'd anticipated, but that wasn't a problem. The smuggler was engaging the Durosian Twins as the child descended upon the unconscious Charrok like a starved Mynock. A small hand slithered under the Trandoshan's scaley back. The former bounty hunter would have felt that if he were capable, but fortune favors the bold, right?

The child hopped up and stuffed the purse into their tunic just as the bartender locked eyes with her. An eyebrow raised. A smirk in response. A headshake. The child was a little disappointed that they'd have to give up half of Charrok's purse, but even half was a small fortune to the youngling. Almost dancing back into the kitchen, they only vaguely heard the front doors open again with a rather prolonged hiss.

However, the child could hear the distinct heavy metal footfalls. Members of Bogga the Hutt's private military force. They would not tolerate the little pickpocket's activities without taking most if not all of the loot.

Time to hide.

Corellian Sector, Nar Shaddaa
Celtar uttered a word of thanks as the bartender begrudgingly poured him another drink, this one significantly cheaper and less fancy. It didn't matter to Celtar, both because his aim was to avoid getting drunk and because his attention had been drawn to the front doors opening and the few heavily armed thugs stepping through them. Great, thought Celtar. Just what I needed, to be drawn into a meeting with the Hutts. Celtar hated meetings, especially when he had better things to do.

If his quick estimate was correct, he'd lose at least an hour waiting for their boss to become available, at least another hour or two explaining everything to the Hutts, and at least an hour making his way back. Add in all the extra time it would take to reestablish his presence here at the bar, plus the fact that any potentially involved beings would probably have come and gone and Celtar felt his chances of success dwindling to next to nothing. He hated talking with the Council anyway but this definitely wasn't a report he wanted to make. He took the job because he was close but also because he figured an investigation with a self-proclaimed group of perpetrators would be interesting but easy. If he was careful, he could probably produce his lightsaber, promise to meet with Brogga when he had the perpetrator, and buy himself a few hours, all without a significant disruption to his cover identity. While that was a big if, Celtar was confident enough he'd be able to pull it off.

The thugs began interviewing people and with each interview came more and more fingers pointing at Celtar. While he was simply standing at the bar and sipping his drink, he could feel more and more attention being turned his way. Celtar reached down to his belt and subtly moved his hand past his blaster to where his lightsaber had been hooked onto his belt. The Knight had to act quickly to hide the look of panic that wanted to cross his face because, while he'd expected to feel the familiar form of his lightsaber hilt, he had instead found empty air. He could hear his former Master now and, were the situation not as concerning, Celtar could almost smile. This weapon is your life, Celtar, try not to lose it. It was a common lesson when he was a young and inexperienced Padawan, if only because Celtar tended to set it down to work on something and then be pulled away by a stroke of genius, intuition, or necessity. He could remember many evaluations that started with 'Celtar will be a great Jedi when he remembers not to leave his lightsaber sitting around where anyone could grab it.' The thought almost brought another smile to his face, though the fact that his lightsaber was missing was causing him enough distress that he was able to hide it behind a concerned look. Where could it have gone? thought the Knight, retracing his steps but remembering that he had felt his lightsaber against his body right before the fight.

He reached out with the Force, looking past the living energy in the room and searching for his lightsaber. After years of attuning and using it, he knew he would be able to track it across most planets, though Nar Shaddaa wasn't most planets. The sheer energy present on the Smuggler's Moon would make it difficult if it got too far away, if not impossible. Celtar began his search by scanning the room around him. There hadn't been enough time for anyone to leave thanks to the arrival of the thugs and the fact that nobody had it in the cantina area was reassuring. Stretching outward in front of him, towards the back of the store, he felt the familiar response of the crystals within the lightsaber. He tried to figure out who had stolen it and figure out their intentions, though he felt nothing. Interesting, thought Celtar. The way it was moving told him that somebody was carrying it, though he felt nothing. The way the crystals seemed to ebb and flow, as if surrounded by nothingness, was interesting. If it was another Jedi or a Force Sensitive, he should have been able to feel their presence in the Force, though he felt nothing.

He swore mentally as a large hand grasped his shoulder and forcibly turned him around, snapping him from his reverie. "<<They say you fought those men, why?>>" The question, spoken in Huttese, was direct, at least, a reprieve from the recent avoidance, subversion, and misdirection that the trade ambassadors had been keen to rely on. "<<They started it, I think they were trying to feel me up.>>" One of the thugs, a Rodian, chuckled, though he was silenced by a smack to the back of his head by his Zabrak compatriot. The one talking to Celtar was a Twi'lek, his head-tails twitching as Celtar felt him trying to determine Celtar's sincerity.

"<<We've received complaints, you'll have to come with us,>>" said the Twi'lek, beckoning to Celtar with one hand while revealing a blaster with the other. "<<How about I pay for the damages, plus some for your time and trouble, and I finish up and leave?>>" Again, the Knight reached out with the Force as he sweetened his words. He made the standard offer very tempting, making himself seem as not worth the time and trouble needed to deal with a down-on-his-luck smuggler when they could get the same effect and walk away with a few extra credits. The Twi'lek considered his options, looking quickly between his comrades and then looking over at the barkeeper. While Celtar couldn't see the man nod, he knew he had been successful when the Twi'lek reached out his empty hand. Celtar dropped a credit chit into it and then passed one to the bartender. The Rodian stepped forward, his hand outstretched, though Celtar shot him a deadpan glare. "<<Don't press your luck, I'm already going to have to work for scraps just to afford the taxi out of the sector.>>" In response, all three of the thugs laughed, uttered a few insults in Huttese, and left.

Celtar uttered an apology to the bartender and finished his drink. He started making his way to the door and, using the Force to become just another face in the crowd, he ducked off to the side and into the kitchen area. He put on his wide-brimmed hat, a habit he'd picked up as a Padawan in an attempt to impress his Master, and made his way to where he felt his lightsaber and the nothing that surrounded it. While he wasn't as good as many, Celtar was familiar with the idea of simply becoming unimportant and using the Force to reinforce that idea. He knew plenty of Knights who could disappear into the background while standing front and center and being actively looked for, though he simply needed to ignore the overworked kitchen staff who were working hard to put out a fire that had started on one of the grills.

The Knight came to a stop next to a cabinet, the pulsating energy of his lightsaber confirming that it was inside the grey durasteel cupboard. It was still surrounded by nothing and, for a moment, he considered opening the door with his blaster drawn. As soon as the idea entered his mind, he felt the Force actively tell him that it wasn't necessary. While he didn't like the idea of exposing himself to a potentially trained opponent without a weapon in his hand, he trusted in the Force and its guidance. Squatting down, he pulled open the cabinet door and his eyes laid upon a small child. The lightsaber was off to the side, discarded in favor of a number of credit chits that were splayed out in front of her. Celtar pulled his lightsaber into his hand and locked eyes with the child. "You're good," he started, a smile forming on his stubbled face. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you knew exactly when to take both this and that bag of credit chits. You hungry?"

Escaping into the kitchen went off without a single hitch. The small girl danced between the legs of some of the kitchen staff before slipping into a small cabinet near the dishwashers. As she closed the door, she heard one of the Rodians start swearing. Grease fire. Well, that might work for her even more. Letting out a heavy sigh, the little human ran her fingers delicately over her newly-acquired treasure. Somehow it felt...odd.

Well that didn't matter. What mattered was the small hoard of credit chits. Time to count the loot...

A tremble in her nerves yanked her attention away from the treasure. Steadying her breathing, the girl maintained her mantra from before. The trembling grew worse. Something was wrong. Some of the kids she'd used to run with had sworn by her ability to seemingly sense danger before it struck, but this was different.

The cabinet doors opened. The smuggler was there. Panic. Surprisingly enough, while she'd lived her entire short life as a thief, actually getting caught by her victims was entirely new to her. Fear flooded her veins before the man spoke.

Hungry? Of course she was. What a ridiculous question The pale and thin creature before this towering figure was always hungry. Nodding, she subtly slid the credits back into their pouch as she openly held the man's special cylinder tool out. Hopefully he only cared about retrieving his stolen property...

Brushing her matted hair aside, the child looked up at the smuggler and thought it odd that her vision had grown wobbly. Almost like she was gazing through water.

Yes. Hungry. Very.

A pair of tears slid down her cheeks. How odd.

Corellian Sector, Nar Shaddaa
He could feel the child's fear through the Force and, if Celtar had been less experienced, less trained, or a member of a species who was naturally more attuned to the emotions of others, he knew that his own blood would have run cold from the fear. That's how powerful the child's emotions were to him at this moment, which was weird because the fear seemed to come out of nowhere. Despite being present in his eyes and influencing the world around him, the child, with the exception of the fear streaming out of them, was invisible to his senses.

He tried his best to produce a friendly smile, hoping to disarm the child's fear and apprehension before they decided it was worth more to run. The Knight also reached out with the Force, hoping that the child's instincts to stay hidden would be overridden by their natural curiosity. He allowed the Light Side to flow through him, channeling its inspiring energy and allowing it to amplify the fact that he meant this child no harm. He sought not to manipulate the child's opinion of him but, rather, highlight the fact that he was being truthful and transparent. He reached out slowly, anticipating any fearful reaction from the child and stopping if they showed any, covering his left thumb with his sleeve and moving to wipe away the tears from the child's eyes. "It's okay, you're okay now. Let it out if you like, I know it gets rough." When he was done, be it because the child pulled away or because he was done wiping their eyes, Celtar brought his left hand back towards his body and away from the child.

He produced a credit chit seemingly out of nowhere and flipped it between his fingers before using the Force to hold it above his palm. "Let's make a deal. I'll pay for your lunch and dinner, however much you want. I'll even give you this credit chit. In exchange, I want to talk about some of the things you might have seen in this cantina over the last few days." He dropped his voice to where only he and the child would be able to hear him over the din of the kitchen crew. "I also want to talk about your skills because few beings have the ability to not only steal this," he started, holding up his lightsaber. "But also disappear entirely from the eyes and senses of those around them. You are different and I think you know it. If, after we talk, you want to become better, I can help you do that. What's your name, young one?"

The last two words seemed foreign to him. He was used to being called 'young one' by everyone and even his stubble had done little to help. The Masters of the Order had taken to calling him Knight after his promotion from Padawan, though dealing with countless elders and members of species who had more time in adolescence than he had alive made him feel perpetually young. He was used to being called youngling, not saying it to others. Still, he didn't know her name and, while others might have meant it as a term of disrespect, he intended none.

In case she paused, he would continue. If she didn't he would reply afterwards with his own name. "I'm Celtar Xyton and I'm a Jedi Knight." He stood up and reached his hand out to the child. Using the Force to make both of them seem extremely uninteresting to anyone else in the kitchen, he spoke one final time. "You can pick anywhere onworld to eat. Where'd you like to go?"