Another good thing Jedi Shander had going for him while he remained on Cloud City were the three-hundred, ninety-Levels that the City had! He figured a good place to hide, get food without having to use his credit currency, and find a ship to get out of Cloud City were the Levels 161 to 220--the housing sectors for the workers of Cloud City’s general functions that were not directly connected to the mining sector. He reasoned that the other, upper Levels with the tourists District, as well as upper-management private housings and high-end properties, he would surely get tagged. On a regular day, such citizenry had the tendencies of paranoia due to their large wealth...
On the other hand, below Levels 161 to 220--the gas refineries and other factories, along with the monstrous machinery that kept Cloud City afloat, Jedi Shander would look out of place just as well because everyone there had a job to do; but Shander would be seen by several people, just wondering around or looking suspiciously idle.
Jedi Shander dared not to contact anyone from Coruscant for help. Again, traceability issues.
How the blazes can smugglers and other scoundrels in the Galaxy live like this!, Jedi Shander wondered within himself as he looked around the high-rises of housings and small vendors that were there to supply the local workers with their basic needs. He made sure to keep his cap partially pulled over his forehead; but not so low that it was obvious that he was a Human who had something to hide! After all--
“Don’t turn around, Jedi!”
Jedi Shander felt what he assumed was the muzzle of a blaster on his upper back. Indeed, he did not turn around--yet.
“Now, slowly...give me your lightsaber.” The voice was Human and female. By the pitch of her voice, she seemed of mature age.
Shander opened his shirt partially and slowly pulled out his hilt. As he held it up for the woman to take it from him, Jedi Shander noticed a big crowd of onlookers starting to form around he and whomever was behind him. He did hear chatter of, She got that Jedi-thief!, See, I told you; things were better under the Empire!, and, He’s so young, I can’t believe they would hurt him!
“Bounty business, everyone,” he heard her say. “Go back to your--”
Just then, Jedi Shander used the Force to rip his hilt from her hand--in what amounted to a reverse Force-push! By the time the hilt smacked in his hands and his blazing-blue Force sword was ignited, Jedi Shander was fully facing the bounty hunter!
The Human female, in a drabby jumpsuit; her very long hair braided into one, big tail, began firing thunderous bolts at the young Jedi! But each and every laser pulse was deflected by Jedi Shander--safely away from the onlookers. By that time, they were all scattering away from the fight scene!
The bounty hunter fired a few more shots, but the same results happened. Perplexed, she looked upon him with burning eyes and panting from all the action. It was obvious that she was not going to win that fight!
“I suggest you move on,” Shander warned her; his lightsaber pointed toward her face. “You don’t know the situation...if I wanted to hurt that Nagai, he would have been dead! I think you can see that now!”
Apparently the middle-aged Human had no backup. Most likely a lone bounty hunter who had a different life years ago and had fallen to the bounty lifestyle.
Suddenly, Jedi Shander felt a familiar, warm feeling upon him! Just as that happened, the bounty hunter’s eyes were distracted to some people behind Shander.
“No,” the bounty hunter demanded. “I found him first! I have all these witnesses!”
Jedi Shander’s heart and eyes widen with delighted surprise... “Minister Organa Solo!”
The very same crowd that had ran from the fire-fight just a couple of minutes before were, now, mostly gathering around the famed Minister of State for the New Republic! She was surrounded by an entourage of New Republic soldiers. And for good measure, Cloud City Baron Administrator Llem was off to Minister Organa Solo’s side, and not looking too happy about it. The message was loud and clear: Minister Leia Organa Solo was there as a New Republic official and she was backed by Cloud City’s administrator and some heavy weaponry!
There were some who were politically opposed to the re-establishment of the Republic. For Cloud City, in time past, was mostly a free sovereign due to its wealth. Plus, there were many former Imperials that had sought refuge in Cloud City and they had their sympathizers. Nevertheless, history went to the victors, and it was the New Republic and their representatives that had ultimate power in Cloud City over the case of Jedi Shander against the Nagai governance!
“I see you’re blending in with the locals well, Rin,” Minister Organa Solo quipped upon seeing Jedi Shander’s suit he had Mind Tricked the store clerk earlier in the day to give to him! She had on one of her official diplomatic gowns--all-white; draping her frame. Her hair was braided in alternating patterns and topped her head like a crown. Indeed, Leia Organa Solo was still a princess!
Even the onlooking citizens had laughed at the Minister’s remark. They were now slowly returning to their own business. Shander had disengaged his lightsaber and replaced it in the same spot underneath his jacket as before. He still did not want to draw attention to himself; even now!
“Arnna, the Republic will reimburse you a percentage of your fuel costs for getting out here,” Minister Organa Solo said to the bounty hunter just before she stomped off; irritated with the whole situation.
“Just message it to me like you did last time,” Arnna Numay’s trailing voice said and she was absorbed into the crowd.
“I take it your brother sent you,” Jedi Shander said with a smile.
“He did. Luke would’ve come here himself, but he’s still trying to put together that new Jedi academy you and I talked about.”
“That’s wonderful,” Jedi Shander said, having been a supporter for Jedi Master Skywalker to continue the ancient ways of the Jedi.
“Baron Llem’s people tagged you hours ago, Rin. It’s a good thing they did!” She gestured with her head that they should all walk toward the nearest floor lift; the New Republic troopers behind them. “Thank you for your cooperation, Baron Administrator...I promise, the Republic will repay you the favor.”
“I hope so, Minister,” Llem said as she began to walk off to her own destination. “The Empire still has its influences in this town.”
Jedi Shander and Minister Organa Solo both watched as she, also, melted away into the crowd of citizens on the Level.
“I got a chance at using some of my charming diplomacy in regard to the Nagai situation, Rin...”
His head shot over to her direction.
“The Kotokai library administrator is willing to call off filing an official grievance between the Nagai and the Republic. Especially since no one got hurt--”
Jedi Shander blew out a sigh of relief.
“--but, Jedi Shander, you have to personally pay for the damages done to the pod. I’m sorry, Rin, but a lot of your sabbatical payment will be diverted for its repairs...you’ll have to cut your quest short, I’m afraid, Rin.”
She looked at him; the cap yet over a portion of his eyes. But the young Jedi was simply relieved he was not going to any holding cell on Nagi--or anywhere else, for that matter!
“I’ll have to continue my quest for the Galaxy’s name much later in life, I’m guessing. But, given what I’ve been through in just these few days, you get no arguments from me, Minister.”
The New Republic group were now going to an isolated floor lift, where not so many Cloud City citizens could gawk at the entourage. In fact, the lift had emptied out, especially when some citizens had seen the troopers with their big guns! This left the floor lift fully in their privacy.
“If I may, Minister...what of the Infinity Gates? I understand that the Nagai are sovereign and they can build whatever defenses they believe fulfills their needs. But as your brother said to me, the Gates have a very deep history of causing great havoc in the Galaxy...”
He looked upon Leia, expectantly. She sighed.
“That, my friend, is something that will take the whole New Republic government to look into. Like you said, they are sovereign. But did the Nagai build the Gates, or did someone else supply it for them?” The Minister shrugged. “That, young Jedi, may make a difference in how the Republic proceeds with this. And, by the way, your discovering the Gates and giving the Republic a warning about them has its political rewards.”
Jedi Shander slowly lifted the cap from his eyes and fixed them on hers. Leia smiled back, getting ready to depart the floor lift. “In due time, young Jedi.”
They all departed the floor lift, which lead them to a platform with an awaiting ship with steam shooting out from underneath, in preparation for take-off. After the New Republic entourage fully boarded, the Millennium Falcon steamed up from Cloud City and blasted its way to another part of the Galaxy...
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