LegendsLog:To Free A Smuggler
As per Master Valhoun's request, Jedi Knight So'lara's presence has been requested at the shuttle bay within the Jedi Temple. The old master can be found sitting on a crate outside of a shuttle that's being prepared for takeoff, hands resting on his knees. He's humming quietly to himself as he waits.
So'lara makes her way to the shuttle bay, as requested. She glances around, stepping out of the way of some technicians who lead the way for her inadvertently - they're loading up the shuttle where Mater Valhoun is waiting. A smile crosses her face briefly, and then her feet lead her over. "Master Valhoun," she greets with a respectful bow, as she nears, pausing then to wait for his acknowledgement.
Hart Valhoun looks over to So'lara and offers her a warm smile and a dip of his head, "Hello there, young Knight. Come along, I've got something for us to look into." He stands up with a grunt and begins walking towards the shuttle.
So'Lara arches a brow, her lips curve in a smile, and she inclines her head once more. "Certainly," is her reply. There is a gentle tone to her voice, as she moves to step along with the Master. "What sort of something are we looking into, if I might inquire?" she asks, letting a hint of her curiosity show.
"I'll tell you when I find out," Hart says, stepping up the ramp of the shuttle. "After I engaged Lord Draven, I took a small storage device off of his person that he no doubt secured from the late Agent Mbasi. The one we were sent to track down," he explains. Hart moves to have a seat on one of the benches in the back of the shuttle. "The report on the drive made mention of a holocron located in the undercity of Taris, and a plan by the Sith to retrieve it."
That brings a thoughtful look to So'lara's face, as she listens. "Are we heading to Taris then, to try to get to this holocron first?" she asks first. "Or is it something more obscure in aid of that mission?" Either way, So'lara would not be surprised.
"Taris is under heavy Sith occupation at the moment. We'd likely never get near the planet. But there's word of a smuggler on Manaan who may be able to help us through the blockade. Unfortunately for us, he's currently being held prisoner at the Sith embassy there. Because the political climate of the planet is contentious, we must first attempt a diplomatic resolution to this particular problem."
Circles within circles. So'Lara inclines her head at the information provided. "So to Manaan to try some sort of diplomatic resolution to rescue a smuggler? Under what pretext are we finding ourselves requesting the diplomatic release of a smuggler? I trust he's unknown royalty from somewhere?" There is a hint of humour there, along with bemusement. "Or at least, someone of importance has an interest in him?"
"The Republic has come into possession of several kolto harvesting rights for the surrounding waters of Ahto City," Hart says, settling into his seat. His hands fold across his stomach and he continues, "An effective bargaining chip in this time of war."
So'Lara settles in her seat, shifting only a little. "Effective, if it stays in the hands who currently own it long enough for it to be used to bargain with," she murmurs. Perhaps the liquidity of such rights is somewhat famous. "One would perhaps be suspicious of using such chips for the likes of this smuggler. I would suggest that care be taken in swift collection of our target and removal to a secure and safe place. As I am certain you have already planned for - even if everything is not yet set up."
"Well, you're going to be doing all of the talking. I'm just an old man," Master Valhoun says, slumping down in his seat a bit and closing his eyes. He breathes a long sigh of content as he begins to settle in for his nap.
It's not an overly long hyperspace jump, but all of them, it must be said, are boring. The shuttle lurches as it enters the real space around the aquatic planet of Manaan. So prevalent is water on this planet that only one solitary piece of land exists; Ahto City, and even it was only built as a means to accomodate interstellar trade with pesky oxygen-breathers.
The shuttle finds it perch at a berth in the starport. It must be said that the large, circular monument of durasteel and glass glass is truly beautiful, the tension waiting for them just outside the shuttle is thick enough to be cut by a knife.
So'Lara continues to take the wing position, accompanying the Jedi Master. Well aware that even past the Padawan tests, there are tests and layers and intricacies of judging, still there is a simple confidence she brings with her. Not one of expertise, but certainly of competence. As she steps out of the shuttle, she pauses to straighten her robes, testing that tension briefly.
Hart Valhoun wanders out of the shuttle, yawning slightly as his lovely nap was interrupted by work. He comes to a stop at the customs officer who waves the two of them through. One the other side of the gate, however, there is a Republic official waiting for them.
"Master Valhoun and Knight So'lara, I am Captain Odesa. I'm in charge of security for the Republic embassy. Could you please follow me? We should speak somewhere more...private," the young man says, gesturing for them to accompany him.
He leads the two Jedi through the shimmering durasteel halls of the city, past gorgeous fountains lush with flora, and contradicted with glaring neon signs. For every Republic soldier, there's a Sith Empire counterpart; clad in the bright chromium armor and clutching their weapons.
Finally arrived at the embassy, the Captain takes a seat at his desk, "I was only told of your arrival a few moments ago, so I'm sorry that I didn't have time to arrange a grander tour of the city for you, Master Jedi."
The walk through the shimmering halls gives So'Lara a bit of a tour, at any rate. She offers a serene expression to the young official, inclining her head politely. "Thank you for your concern. Manaan is very lovely from the view we have seen on the way here. I am sure that our presence is enough to explain the need for secrecy?"
"Indeed," Master Valhoun echoes So'lara's point.
Captain Odesa nods to them both and says, "Very well. Now, I assume you both now of the strategic importance of this world in the grand scheme of the conflict, but it's customary to inform every Republic citizen that arrives. Manaan is the /only/ source of kolto in the entire galaxy, at least as far as we're aware, and the native Selkath are devout in their neautrality. Whether it's cowardice or opportunism, we can't be sure. In any case, it is imperative that no Republic citizen is seen creating an incident. If we lose the right to harvest and purchase kolto...we lose the war entirely."
So'Lara listens to the customary words, and then she murmurs, "It is not our intent to create any incident, Captain, you may rest assured on that front. We are here on a diplomatic mission." Hey, she'll radiate the truth of what she knows and if the Master has sneaky plans, well, she doesn't know it.
"Not a lot of people do, Master Jedi, but end up doing it all the same," Captain Odesa says. "In any case, I've taken up enough of your time. You're free to leave for the Sith embassy whenever you're ready."
"Thank you, Captain," Hart says, dipping his head to the man before turning to leave. The Sith embassy isn't very far away, only a few hallways away, in fact. As the duo comes to a stop before it, they spy a pair of Sith troopers standing guard outside. "Well, after you, So'lara," Hart says.
So'Lara heads forward, after giving Master Valhoun her most serene look of displeasure. Frosty. It is still on her face as she approaches the Sith troopers. "We are expected for a diplomatic meeting," she says crisply. Might as well play off the existing emotions - someone's probably reading them.
"We've been expecting you," one of the trooper offers. "Go ahead," he adds, jerking his head towards the door that opens behind him. "But we'll be watching you."
The embassy is very much the same as its Republic counterpart, save for different banners, of course. At a desk in the middle of the main chamber is some sort of Sith brass-type, made apparent by his choice of fancy black uniform in favor of the incredibly shiny Sith trooper armor. "Greetings, Master Jedi," he says in a deep Coruscanti. "Please, do have a seat."
Hart will never miss out on a good chair, so he does as offered.
As Hart takes the chair, making it clear who is the Master Jedi, So'Lara stays on her feet, offering a polite nod of her head. "You are most kind," she says, her Echani heritage showing in her voice as she speaks. "Thank you for seeing us on such short notice."
"We do try to extend the utmost courtesy to all of our visitors," the officer says, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the desk as he steeples his fingers. "Even when they're here to barter for the release of a known traitor to the Empire."
So'Lara's smile is chilly but there. perhaps only to be expected. She does not rise to the bait, instead merely murmuring, "The work of a diplomat is ever thus." Whatever it might be, there's always something to be done, someone to do it. "It seems that there is at least a willingness to discuss the matter, a good start."
"Do not mistake customs for willigness, Master Jedi," the officer says, one hand folding over the other. "But perhaps this will at least be entertaining enough to warrant the distraction."
So'Lara considers for a moment, before she says, "A point, sir, that I will take to heart. And yet, customs often lead to will or from will, do they not?" She takes a step closer, standing in front of the desk. She does not look back at Master Valhoun, assuming he will interrupt when and if he so chooses. "Perhaps we might have something to offer in return for the release of one individual to make it worthwhile."
"Perhaps you might," the officer says, leaning back in his seat. "But we won't bloody know unless you get on with it."
Hart remains quiet in his chair, a hand idly stroking his bushy beard as he watches the goings on.
So'Lara gives the man an arched brow. He obviously isn't really in it for amusement. "Kolto," she says easily and simply. "Might that be enough to convince you to discuss things?"
The officer squints for a moment, as if sizing up the Jedi woman before he leans forward again. "Very well. What is your offer?" It seems So'lara's said the magic word.
"We have come into posession of harvesting rights for some kolto in the surrounding waters of Ahto City," So'Lara says. "If that will suffice, we can arrange transfer."
There's a long moment of silence as the officer considers the woman's offer. He leans back in his chair and sucks his teeth, looking her over. "Very well. You'll have your traitor. I'll arrange transport for him to your ship, provided you have the necesarry documents to facilitate the transfer."
Luckily, that's what Hart's for. The old master leans forward with a datapad and taps a few things in before sliding it across the desk to the officer. "Well, then. You may leave, now."
So'Lara murmurs, "Certainly, we have the documents," And then Hart steps in, so she takes a step back, staying as alert as she can.
Once the transfer of ownership is complete, the two Jedi are free to leave. "You did well in there, So'lara," Hart offers to the young Knight," Hart says, stepping out of the embassy door, offering a nod to one of the Sith soldiers as he passes him. "You remained calm and to the point. Admirable."
So'Lara inclines her head. "Thank you, Master Valhoun," she says soberly. "It seemed the appropriate approach."
"There were several, I think," Hart says, wandering down the hallways toward the spaceport. "Could've done the ol' mind trick on him, could've gone in lightsabers swingin', any number of things, really. I was curious as to how you'd handle it. Good to get an idea of where your head's at," Hart rambles.
"Straight forward," So'Lara replies. "Mind tricks might not work, and if caught would lead to the sort of an incident that the Captain warned us against. Lightsabers would already be that incident, and would likely result in our quarry being killed rather than freed to us. Much as I would prefer to not give up any Kolto harvesting rights, I also would prefer to gain the assistance required to stop further disaster."
"A small price to pay," Hart says, tucking his hands into his sleeves as he walks along. "If this holocron is as powerful as the intelligence suggests, it's imperative that it doesn't fall into the hands of the Empire." The two approach the shuttle, and their quarry is already loaded onto it. 'Loaded' as in 'unconcious from hours of Sith torture'. Luckily, he's still breathing, and likely to be /very/ cooperative with his new-found saviors.