My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 14

By mid-morning, Sarah was beginning to lose hope. She had just three days to find a swoop bike and enter a race...one with a prize that the entire underground of Taris wanted. Anybody with half a dream was going to try, hoping for the offhand chance of a miracle. I can't lose her. I will tear Taris apart to get her back. Mine. A possession, a weakness. All mine.

"You're the woman looking for a bike."

Sarah nearly jumped out of her skin, her hand once again going for her thigh, not the holstered blaster hanging farther back. Carth was much more attentive, and able to find his blaster, than she had been... his grip was wrapped around the butt, his eyes focused on the interloper.

"I am." She stated, staring at the tall, spare, older woman standing just beyond her reach. "You got one for sale?"

No, that would be too easy, she sensed steel and doubt under this one's rough and ready exterior. And, now that she was awake, she noted gang colors...subtly displayed, but still..displayed. There was no reason for a gang member to help someone else get control of Bastila. She was too much of a prize...

"Come with me." The woman motioned, turning to walk away, and Sarah stared, feeling Carth bristle with caution behind her. Only hope we have left...

"Whatever it takes." She breathed, knowing that Carth could hear her. He nodded sturdily, waving her to follow the woman before he stepped into pace behind Sarah. They were led though the disorienting corridors, each identical, until the woman turned into a straight run. There were two men in the corridor, guarding the door that the woman was making a beeline for.

"This way." The woman ordered, ignoring the guards completely as she passed unchallenged between them. Sarah measured them both, but they seemed content to let her by as well. Trap? Doesn't matter. If it is, I'll tear them all apart. They can't keep me from Bastila, and they can't hold me here.

They were led into a large hangar bay, well lit, and populated by more gang members than Sarah was comfortable seeing. It would be a challenge to bring them all down, while keeping both herself and Carth alive and uninjured. No more time for accidents. No more time for recuperation.

"You should talk to Gadon." The woman stated, waving towards a solitary human male standing off by himself, beside a single swoop bike. "He's asked to see you."

Why, I wonder. Sarah deliberately avoided gawking at the bike beside the man as she strode across to him, her steps obliterated exactly under Carth's heavier tread. Another older soul, odd for a gang... and he watched her approach out of pale, cybernetic eyes. "You are Sarah. And Devid."

"Yup."

The man stared for a long, long moment, overtly measuring, contemplating, and Sarah merely raised a brow in response. He'd get there, eventually. "I am Gadon Thek, and I run the Hidden Beks."

"Uh huh." It meant little to nothing to Sarah, and she wasn't afraid to show that. This was quite a bit more than buying the bike resting so closely to her, but she wasn't about to jump. Let him lead the way...

"So, you want in on the Season Opener." He sighed, resting a hand on the bike, and she shrugged in answer. He didn't get off this easily, he'd brought her here, and it was his show. She wasn't going to feed him.

"Yes." That she'd already made perfectly obvious, and it would just be silly to hide it. He knew her name. He knew the name that she'd pasted on poor Carth. If he knew the small stuff like that, then he knew what she'd been throwing around.

He simply nodded as if she'd given him more, wrinkling his nose in thought. "You want the woman." His blank, white gaze coasted from her face, higher over her shoulder...to where Carth lurked, while Sarah quickly ran through her options. It was foolish to deny, but hard to admit. "So. Let me tell you what I think, and what I'm willing to do for you. A week ago, there was a battle over Taris, Sith versus Republic vessels. We know that because of the escape pods, and what was in them. Immediately after that, you two show up, with a likely enough story, probably the best you could have come up with. But you had next to nothing, and what you do have now is from a combination of selling off 'salvage' from a Republic escape pod and the earnings of a pazaak shark at work. Instead of doing the smart thing, and lying low, you throw yourselves into getting a pretty, drawing a whole hell of a lot of attention in a hurry. You're after the woman, because she was on your ship, and she belongs with you."

"Okay, that's what you think." Sarah forced the words out, "So what are you willing to do for us?"

"I don't want the woman. Seeing her returned to her comrades would be a fine thing to me, indeed. What I do want...need...is to have a rider sponsored by us win that race. But to do that means I need your help."

"Still listening."

He stared at her for a long moment before chuckling. "Guess I shouldn't expect different out of the pazaak shark of the pair. You hold your cards close to your chest. It's pretty simple. This is one of our bikes..." he gave it a slight push, and Sarah finally glanced down at it. It looked pretty much like every other swoop bike she'd ever seen, except for the open engine housing and the fairly obvious gap where there shouldn't be one.

"And it's missing..." She leaned hard against the wall of her memories, hoping that something that benign would be regurgitated out of it. "An accelerator."

"You know bikes."

"Yeah." Somehow.

"Good. Then you'll know what you're looking for when you see it."

"A random, runaway swoop accelerator?" Sarah drawled, and the man laughed outright.

"The not so random, stolen swoop accelerator that's supposed to be right there. You recover it, you..." Again, the measuring, contemplating look. "Ride it. Win your compatriot's freedom, which is what you want. And give us what we need, to bring Brejik down a few pegs. And he's the one who has your girl. Win win."

Win win. Recover Bastila, and destroy the person who had dared to take her away from Sarah. It worked.

"You know where it is?" She simply did not have time to turn Taris upside down looking for it.

"I do. And I know who you need to talk to...and where you can start looking for her."


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