New Job and New Crew
The flight to Cato Neimoidia was a quiet one. Or at least quiet by Peter's standards. Obi-Wan was used to silences but usually if Peter wasn't talking his ear off he was listening to the Awesome Mixtape. Now, it was just ambivalent ship noises which was kinda of unnerving to be honest since he wasn't used to this. He wondered what was bothering Peter to institute this quiet but then again they'd just had a funeral not to long ago so it would be a while until things got back to normal. Obi-Wan himself wasn't sure if he could admit the fact that Qui-Gon was gone for good now just so soon after he'd found once again. His loss stung and he felt lost as he did when he'd been with the Kree beforehand.
He's with the stars, he assured himself firmly. He's one with the Force. He wouldn't want me to mope but it's too difficult to swallow at times the thought that he's now gone for good now.
"Hey Obi-Wan?" Peter asked finally breaking the silence. "Gotta a question for ya."
"So what do reckon are we gonna do about Yondu? I mean reckon he'll be after us once he finds out about this crap or at the least on the lookout for us."
"Avoid him as long as we possibly can," Obi-Wan said. "After all he's going to be livid if he finds out that we know his dishonored status and left him."
"Not to mention stealing one of his ships is a big no-no," Peter agreed with a smirk. "So if we run into him in the future?"
"Fair enough," Peter agreed. "So running is a great idea now."
"Groovy," Peter nodded.
The silence came back only it was slightly less awkward. Obi-Wan tapped the console as if willing the ship to go faster. Finally the navi-computer gave the signal that they'd reached their destination. Peter pulled back the lever and they soon saw Cato Neimoidia on the screen.
"Show time," Peter said as he gently went into the atmosphere using a navigation beacon to find a spaceport.
"I think the destination is one of the hanging cities nearby," Obi-Wan said as he looked over the map provided by Roz.
"You'll see," Obi-Wan said with a sly smile.
"Dude, yo that's not-whoa!" Peter exclaimed once they'd reached mountain peak and got a glimpse of one of the cities. He'd seen the cities in his studies in the Temple but seeing them in real life was interesting...or rather Peter's reaction to it that is. His face lit up with glee and excitement as they flew through the mountains in full view of the cities hanging between the mountains. It looked the city was in a green hammock held by the rocky cliffs on both sides of it with various ships coming to and fro from it like a beehive. It wasn't as big as Coruscant but it didn't need to be to impress Peter it would seem.
"This is so RAD!" He shouted as he carefully piloted through the hanging city. "Man I'm so glad I came here! I can't wait to meet the dude we're doing business with. Man this'll be awesome."
"One thing you need to know is that Neimoidians tend to be on the greedy side," Obi-Wan said as he got up to grab his gear for the negotiations. "They're raised for seven years as grubs in hives with limited supplies so the acquisition of material items is very important to most raised on planet."
"Dude," Peter gave him a very uncomfortable look as Obi-Wan walked back and grabbed their bags. "That's messed up. Seriously who looks at a kid and basically says: "Welp kid here's a limited supply of food and guess what? You gotta share it with your siblings and we ain't gonna help you out. See ya?" Seriously?"
"Neimoidians do...or at least traditionally raised ones, there's always exceptions to the rule."
"Well let's hope Sud is an exception," Peter said as he continued to look for a spaceport and Obi-Wan returned to his seat with their packs. " 'Cause I ain't going to want to deal with that kind of crap."
"Well regardless of how he's been raised he's our client now."
"I know that," Peter rolled his eyes. "I just think that's a bit messed up is all."
"Hey don't judge a species by it's different cultural standards," Obi-Wan chided him.
"Is that a Jedi thing?"
"Yes, it is."
"Fine," Peter sighed. "Still think it's a bit messed up though."
"Duly noted," Obi-Wan said as he pulled out the packet that Roz had given him from his bag. He opened it to find an address written on flimsi with a word in quotes surrounding it. "Looper with a twist" Odd. A password perhaps? Well he'd see.
"I'm calling a port but I'm gonna need your help with the name," Peter said flicking on the comm. "This is is the Liberator, requesting permission to land at..."
"Lek Norkx Spaceport," Obi-Wan quickly told him quietly.
"Right requesting permission to land at the Lek Norkx Spaceport," Peter continued.
"Granted," a gruff voice answered back. "You're cleared for bay ninety four."
"Roger, over and out," Peter answered switching off the comm. "Well here we go."
It took but a moment but soon they'd landed into their assigned hanger and lowered the gangplank into the spaceport. Despite it's unique look for the city, the spaceport resembled all the other Obi-Wan had seen over the years when traveling with Peter. Grimy and a bit rundown. But the smell of Cato Neimoidia was certainly unique he noted as walked down the gangplank.
Another difference was the binocular droids that approached the ship which made Peter squeak with excitement.
"Refueling?" They asked their ocular lens bobbing up and down it's stem. Peter looked like he was going to explode from happiness.
"Yes we're refueling," Obi-Wan said nodding so the head droid would get to work and begin fueling. He then paused realizing that they'd have no idea on where to look for the fuel hatch. "Do you need help finding the hatch?"
"I'll show them!" Peter shouted happily as he ran towards the hatch with a bounce in his step. "Come on guys I'll show you where it is!"
The droid gave him a quite possibly the most human look of stunned shock one of the eye-flaps raising. Obi-Wan shrugged at them and said: "You heard him he'll show you where it is."
"Very well sirs," the droid said sighing tone of voice as it followed his excitable brother. Once he'd shown him the fuel line Peter soon joined him and together they walked out of the hanger and into the general walkway.
Several species that came out of the port were ones that he recognized from his youth and from his studies. Peter could almost barely contain his excitement at seeing new species that Peter hadn't seen before. Twi'leks, Toydarians, Neimoidians, Duros, Bothans and various other species all of them were pointed out covertly as his excitement allowed him.
"Dude," he whispered looking around in awe. "This is awesome. I can't believe you were a freaking part of this smorgasbord of beings. This is awesome!"
"Well for me it was rather mundane," Obi-Wan shrugged having an amused grin at his enraptured joy. "But seeing it now with new eyes..." His voice trailed off as he looked around with new appreciation for the variety and diversity of all the non-human and and er well his own species it was awe inspiring. Yes now he could see appeal and the wonder that Peter had. He looked down at the flimsi to see if he could find an address. As it turned out the client was smart enough not to have a meeting in a place that would link him. It seemed it was a cantina located nearby called the Drinking Cup. He looked and began walking with Peter following closely behind.
Entering into the cantina he could see why it was chosen. It was a rough and slightly run down place filled with all sorts of characters that fit Peter and Obi-Wan's depositions. He looked up at the menu and saw several drink including Looper. Ah so they needed to order it.
"We're getting Loopers with a twist," Obi-Wan told the barkeeper a light blue Duros male. Peter looked like he wanted to protest but he followed his lead and instead scanned the room for problems.
"Here's your drinks and he's waiting for you in the booth near the cup," the Duros discreetly gestured to a table on the far right. Sitting there what looked like ragged Weeqauy. Obi-Wan nodded his thanks as he grabbed the drinks and walked towards the area with Peter following behind.
"Are these seats taken friend?" He asked once they'd reached the table.
"Now they are," the Weequay said soon morphing into their natural Clawdate face a male if he wasn't mistaken. He'd forgotten how alike they were to the Skrulls they were. The Clawdate got up and from the dimly lit shadows came a Neimoidian male with a wary but confident look. Obi-Wan readied himself for the negotiations to begin. This was going to be interesting one to say the least.
That confident look was interesting. It was a big contrast to the slimy look that Gunray and Rune Haako had on Naboo. But there was a hint of wariness and cunning that Peter could recognize. This was a man that was used to getting what he wanted and he was shrewd about too.
"So Roz sent you? You must be good," he commented as he sat and began leaning forward. It was an intimidation tactic designed to make him seem bigger. One the one hand it conveyed a sense of confidence he had in himself or the deal he was offering to them but if he faltered the bravo would crumble. Then he'd look like a fool. Also he was gauging them as well to see if they'd crumble or call his bluff.
"Would she send substandard material?" Obi-Wan countered mildly leaning back with a causal self assurance.
"Hardly," he waved off the bait but leaned back satisfied with his assessment. "Well now that we've done however briefly the whole song and dance, I suggest we get to business. Your time is valuable I'm sure and I've got damage control to do soon. I need a cargo to go to Jabiim but customs around there are a bit...pricey."
"We're good at dealing with pricey space ways."
"Indeed. Get it in and we can have a quite good relationship I think."
"Depends on the cargo...is it a living asset?"
Sud gave them a searching look. "Not fans of the "Living Assets" clause?"
"No we're not or by it's other name that we see on the Rim," Obi-Wan said his jaw becoming firmly set. Living Assets clause? What was Obi-Wan against transporting cattle? But no he said the other name what did...Wait...ah son of gun. Really?! He thought slavery was illegal. It just figured someone found a loophole in the law to get his way. Peter mentally sighed and eye-rolled. That just figured.
"Neither am I," Sud agreed looking happy. "Far too many legal liabilities, morally distasteful, and not to mention being at the very least an atrocious PR issue. I've got enough issues with that dear cousin has decided to draft us as a collective into that fiasco on Naboo. I don't need or want sentient rights groups breathing down my neck now that issue is now blown up in his face. So rest assured as long as you do business with me you won't be dealing with that nonsense or it's other name."
So the dude was like Scrooge McDuck? Ruthless business with a sense of fairness? Or at least enough of a conscience and sense not to involve himself in that crap? Alright he could respect a being like this at least.
"It's just a few baubles that need delivery? That is it?"
"Well that we can do that to maximum satisfaction."
"Excellent then we discuss payment."
"Up front before we leave with the goods," Obi-Wan opened the volley.
"All payment upon delivery," Sud said with a sly smile. "I'm not fool."
"Half and half?"
"Done," Obi-Wan held out his hand which Sud shook. "Docking bay?"
"94," Peter supplied finally speaking up in the conversation.
Peter sighed as they left Sud Gunray's booth. The meeting was what he expected from a perspective client.
" 'Kay I'd just like you to know that dude was a creeper."
"I sort of got the impression of a man that's used to having the cards close to his chest."
"I got Scrooge McDuck vibes man."
"Greedy dude, like really greedy but pretty fair. Smarter then the smarties and did it all square...sorta."
"Ah I can see how you get that idea. Well let's get back to the Milano and get ready to receive cargo."
Finding a dinning area was easy for Mama Shmi and during trip Ahsoka had learned several things about the being. First the Wookiee was a she and had a twin brother named Jakarro and secondly her name was Dewlannamapia or Dewlanna for short. And they'd taken it upon themselves to care of this sectors orphans or at least they'd formed a gang for protection which even included a Trandoshan which given Mama Shmi's gasp was a big deal although Ahsoka didn't get it...
"So you two care for orphans you come across?" Mama Shmi asked as she munched on her food. Across Dewlanna was devouring food really fast. She musta been really hungry.
Dewlanna barked an affirmative and added in a inquisitive growl pausing in her eating looking at her.
"No I won't turn you in to the authorities if that's what you're worried about. And as for what I'll do..."
"Wesa takin' themsa?" Jar Jar asked suddenly. "Mesa thinkin' that Peter wouldn't mind mesa thinks. Wesa needin' a crew. Theysa muy muy good thieves and wesa need that."
"If he was a regular captain I'm sure he'd be complaining about mouths to feed but I feel it won't be the case. I'll call Jazre and see if he's started recruiting for crew because we've got new residents as far as I'm concerned," Shmi said pulling out a comlink. "Why not? I wouldn't hurt to ask"
"Deal," the Duros said happily as he shook Jazre's hand. Anakin smiled as Jazre worked out the final details of the operation. They'd done it. Now they had a ship so all they needed was a crew to staff it. That was going to be the hard part. But getting the ship had been interesting.
Anakin was quite sure he knew a thing or two about bargaining but Jazre had shown him that while his skills good there was a whole new art to bargains and conning. Sure it hadn't been a full fledged con but the way that Jazre masterfully weaved his narrative into the bargaining was fascinating and pretty interesting to say the least.
"See kid, I toldja didn't I? Now let git..." His comlink went off cutting off the conversation short. He thumbed the frequency and answered the call.
"Jazre I think we might have found some crew," Mom said over the comlink. "We've got a thief gang that could aid us."
"The thing is that they're kids about Ani's age."
"Well ain't that a problem," Jazre sighed rubbing his head. "Whatcha you wanna do about this?"
"We take them if they want to go and give them small jobs and then once they're old enough and they still want in then we can make them official crew."
"Only if they say yes, we ain't slavers so we don't deal in kids."
"Of course," Mom's voice sounded affronted. "I know about being a slave having been one until recently that is."
"Oh crap, sorry about that ma'am," Jazre scratched the back of his neck embarrassed. "I didn't know."
"You couldn't have know so it's alright."
"They'll take it," Anakin spoke up certainty filling his veins. "They'll want off for Nar Shaddaa. So they'll take the job and I think they'll join the crew willingly."
"You reckon so kid?"
"I think so," Anakin said with certainty. "They'll be crew."
"Alright, if they accept of their own will then they're in," Jazre said into the comlink. "They come to meet us then they can have a shot."
"I'll arrange that," Mom said sounding relieved. "Thank you Jazre."
"Don't thank me," Jazre brushed off her praise. "I is doing 'em a favor. They do right by me then we'll be fine."
"I'll be sure to tell them that. Now I'll send you coordinates so we can meet up and then we'll go up to the ship."
Jakarro was a pragmatist so when his sister ran into their lair and told him that they now had room and food for all of the gang they'd gathered. He was skeptical. Getting to group he soon saw a pink skinned being standing near a human female, a small Togruta girl, a Gungan male and a human boy who was looking at them approvingly didn't help his nerves much either. Kalann Eula, a Trandoshan and best friend, trembled slightly at the pink skinned compatriot.
"So y'all the gang that Dewlanna talked 'bout?" The pink being asked.
Jakarro growled an affirmative. Around him some of the younger beings gathered behind him and Kalann.
"Alright, so y'all willing to work with us?"
"Whadda you git, outta it?" Kalann asked baring her teeth in a challenge.
"Nothin'," the pink being shrugged. "We can hire others just as well. Just 'igured that y'all like a chance to git off planet."
"They'll pay room and shelter," a boy said looking at Jakarro in the eye. "They'll give you skills and training so it's a win for you."
"What...what we wanna leave later?" Judaam, a Duros boy, asked.
"You can leave long as you don't speak our secrets, ain't no shame in that," the pink man said.
"We don't mean any harm to you or anyone else in your care," the human female said.
"This is the best deal your going to get," the boy said giving them honest look that Jakarro found hard to resist. "Come on what have you got to lose?"
"A lot," Chia, a Rodian girl, said. "You could kill us or sell us."
Jakarro was inclined to agree.
"Yousa right, wesa could, but wesa wanna helpin' yousa," the male Gungan said. "Wesa good guys, not baddies. Wesa help yousa."
There was something that made Jakarro relax somewhat. Something about the way the being earnestly pleaded his case.
Dewlanna added in that they'd taken her in and given her food and seemed to be trustworthy especially the woman. Jakarro countered that it could be a ruse. But Dewlanna retorted that they wouldn't know until they tried.
"They're nice," the Togruta spoke up for the first time in the conversation. "They saved me from bad people and they'll do the same to you too."
The whole group fell silent at this proclamation. The looked among each other eyes apprehensive and unsure. Finally Hiroshi, slightly tanned human with jet black hair spoke up.
"Why not?" Hiroshi said. "It's like Dewlanna said, we won't know and it's pretty good deal."
Jakarro didn't like it but it wasn't like staying on the streets were any better. If they were slavers then they'd overpower them and run. If they were sincere then they got a pretty good job. He nodded and approached the beings with others following in tow. He hoped beyond hope that he wasn't leading them all into a trap.
"Well I'll introduce myself to y'all, I'm Jazre Uta," the pink being said.
"Anakin Skywalker," the deeply tanned blonde boy said.
"Mesa Jar Jar Binks," the Gungan waved.
"I'm Shmi Skywalker," the woman said with a sincere smile.
"I'm Ahsoka Quill!" The Togruta smiled. "Welcome to the Ravagers!"