“Hey!” barked Maya Jhenil as she pushed Durindal in his slung hammock. It swung into the wall only inches away, cracking Durindal’s head with a sharp pain and waking him up instantly. He snapped his head around to see the flophouse madame standing there in her robes.
“You want sleep here again free? Get rid of the trash,” she said more quietly, pointing a long finger at two beings snoring near the door of the flop room. Outside, it was rainy hot and heavy, blurring the fading light. Looking at the offending customers, Durindal saw one was the Rodian from the night before at the bar, aptly named the Oolong Bar. Belligerent cuss and a bad cheat at cards. His companion was a Trandoshan mercenary… what was his name… Thog! Thog and d’Jarra. It was all coming back to Durindal now.
Secure between his legs was his pack with his possessions including the few changes of clothes he owned.
“Hurry up or I find muscle who do work,” shot the Togruta woman as a parting remark before she passed through a curtain to the eatery side of her establishment. Durindal’s stomach rumbled loudly and he saw d’Jarra shift under his blanket.
Durindal rubbed his head, squinting as he glancing over to the madame leaving. ‘She needs to find a better way to wake people up,’ the young man thought, ’Can’t expect them to help you when you’ve just concussed them.’ The man ran his fingers through his dark brown hair as his mind centered itself, seeking the focus and center that was necessary in life . . . and in the force.
Memories returned to him of the night before, staying at the Oolong Bar. He hadn’t heard from Tarren, his Twi-lek jedi master, in over a month, nor from Tate, his companion of the last month or so, for the last few days. Tate probably would have had a snappy come back to the madame for the unruly wake up, or would not have gotten awoken in that manner in the first place. If Tarren were here, he definitely would not have been sleeping in a flophouse.
But, neither were here . . . he was, and there was work to do. Gathering his belongings, and sliding his pistol to its familiar and comfortable spot on his right hip, Durindal slid his other weapon back on his left hip, much further back and well hidden by his traveling cloak. He slung the bag over his shoulder to let it hang low on his back much like the military sea-bags he had seen, then affixed his cloak over everything.
Rising, Durindal focused on the pair from last night. He didn’t remember Thog’s attitude much, but he didn’t think he would like getting tossed out into the rain. “Alright, you two,” Durindal offered softly, so as not to disturb any early patrons to the bar next door. “Time to start your day somewhere away from here.”
D’jarra stirred and narrowed his eyes at Durindal. Beneath the blanket, it was clear that a weapon of some sort was pointed at Durindal.
“Bak off, chunta,” grunted d’Jarra. “Not you plassss”
Glancing at Thog, at least the Trandoshan was still inert, assumedly sleeping.
Durindal rolled his eyes at the threat from the Rodian, half shaking his head at the way that his morning was starting.
“Listen, my friend,” Durindal started. “You don’t want to escalate anything – especially so close to drinking hour. I think that you and your friend should be heading out for the evening . . . don’t you?” Durindal let himself reach out to the Force to nudge the Rodian.
The Rodian blinks and then the bulge of the supposed weapon vanishes. With grumbles, he rousts himself and kicks his buddy awake. With a few confused but not pleased stares at Durindal, they make their way out the door. They stand under the roof for a few minutes looking at the hot, heavy rain before finally trudging out into it.
Durindal noted the stares and dirty looks, but there wasn’t anything to be done about that. Tarren had said it was possible, but doing so would lead one well on the way down the path of the dark side. That was a good enough reason for the young man to avoid doing anything like that. More alert, and with his head no longer throbbing from the earlier crack to his head, Durindal scanned his violet eyes over the area the pair had vacated. Sometimes people left things behind . . . and with that pair . . . it seemed a possibility.
Seeing nothing left behind by the pair, Durindal glanced around. Out the doorway of the Cradle into the rain, he saw the dim hulk of a spaceship which had been sitting out on the landing area for a couple days. The boarding ramp was down which was a change. He could see the ship lights coming from within in the gloom of the overcast morning. Then he saw a person run down the boarding ramp pause at the bottom and then run off into the rain toward the buildings which housed the services to support spaceship traffic. After a moment she was gone.
“Huh . . . don’t see that every day,” Durindal commented aloud. The young human glanced from the disappearing female to the open bay of the ship, then back to the traffic support office. His stomach rumbled, and he thought of heading over to gather some grub. Shaking his head, the padawan gathered his thoughts, adjusted the hood of his all weather cloak over his head, and headed out into the gloom of the evening.
The darked haired man thought about reaching out with his senses, but passed . . . he could always do that later. He reflected on why he was on this depressing planet. His mentor, Tarren, had called it a ‘training exercise’. What he’d meant was that the master intended to investigate something that Durindal was not ready for. In typical fashion, Tarren didn’t explain.
Durindal had been at Oolong Station for five days now, observing, watching the spice harvesters gear up, head into the swamps or return from it with plastic bags of collected spice (usually small, one liter bags). He’s seen that Oolong Station runs fairly well on a lawless, corrupt system. If you have money, you can pay for what you need. If you don’t, things get dicey. There was one harvester killed for his debts and his body dumped down the slope from the station’s height down into the swamp. The body didn’t last more than a few hours before disappearing down the gullet of a swamp lizard.
Tate had last been seen three days ago talking with a female harvester. He’d agreed to fly with her to another station, Ebberga Station, to pick up some harvesting gear and be back in ‘a few days’. While Durindal trusted Tate in general, the other man was not known for reliability. Could be two weeks before he returned, if he hadn’t been robbed and dumped in the swamp.
Durindal had met Tate back on Keethra. The rogue had been setting up a con game that was sure to upset the wrong people. Tarren had left it up to Durindal to act so the apprentice had foiled the theft but in such a way that Tate got away without any trouble. Tate had seen Durindal’s value in a scrap and proposed a working partnership.
Both Tarren and Durindal had tried to sense Tate’s nature with the Force and found no great darkness. Tate took Durindal on as a project to get him to profit from his abilities while Durindal took on Tate as a project to get him to go straight. Tarren had just enjoyed observing them.
That had been five months ago.