Disclaimer: Don't own Star Wars, just playing in the sandbox.
This is a short, two part story. The other part will be up in a day or two.
Thank you so much Jaira and Dan for beta'ing and moral support. It's been a while since I traveled down this road. Oh, and Jaira and Dan rule all and deserve Dark Obi-Wan. (That last part was Jaira's addition.)
JUST LIKE OLD TIMES
"My feelings are hurt."
"Your duties lie elsewhere," Obi-Wan Kenobi said. His gaze shifted from the hologram of his former student to the distant, gleaming orb of Anterri. Ba'choa city lay a sparkling jewel in the dark curtain of space. "Master Windu is eager for reinforcements on Selis."
The image flickered as Anakin Skywalker laughed and shook his head. "Don't go trying to change the subject. I know what you are up to."
A small smile. "Well, that is hardly a secret, you were there when the message came in."
"And yet, I still wasn't invited along." Anakin's projection broke up.
In the moments before the image restructured, Obi-Wan checked the starship's readings. Nearly time to begin landing preparations. "There is a reason you weren't invited," he said.
Anakin started to respond, but paused and gave Obi-Wan a look that was hardly diminished across the vastness of space. "What are you implying?"
A wave of Obi-Wan's hand, as he tried to deflect his amusement, but he couldn't help it and the smile widened. "Nothing. I am implying nothing at all. This is a simple meeting with a contact to make an exchange, nothing more."
The whir of sirens and beeps cut off Anakin's retort. The younger Jedi twisted away to address the issue off screen. Obi-Wan listened, but could not hear what was being said.
After a moment, Anakin turned his attention back to Obi-Wan. "Looks like you're not the only one meeting up with an old friend." His tone darkened. "We have a lead on General Grievous." Stepping back, nearly disappearing from the hologram, Anakin paused. A knowing look. "Try not to be too late to Selis."
"And miss all the fun?" The transmission abruptly ceased. Never the way he liked ending a discussion, but Obi-Wan had faith that whatever issue that had come up, Anakin was more than capable of handling it.
Try not to be too late to Selis.
Really Anakin, Obi-Wan thought as he prepared to head for the Ba'choa spaceport.
Up close, on its ancient streets, Ba'choa was far different. A dingy spaceport was awash in sickly yellow lighting that tinged the perpetual night sky above. Garbage that was blown down from the city above shifted across the open platforms, collecting along the edges.
Obi-Wan strode across the platform, eager to get out from the open and the direct line of sharp gusts that stirred all manner of debris about. A wreck of a transport stood on a nearby platform, hull plating torn away from the smoldering remains of an engine as several workers were cleaning up fire extinguishing equipment. Cobalt blue smoke belched from the vents along the bay walls, obscuring the movements of regulars and transients to the spaceport. A mouse droid whistled a warning as it scuttled past. Friend and foes blended in the shadows as the Jedi pulled at his cloak and stepped into one of the main arteries flowing into the city itself.
This was not the first time that Obi-Wan had been to the city, rarely to the elegant heights, far from the old spaceports that served anyone but the cream of Republic society. Very often following an excursion into Ba'choa's underbelly, he would swear never to return. At this point in his life, it was hardly worth the effort.
He would be back.
As a padawan learner, Obi-Wan and his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, had passed through Ba'choa spaceport many times. In Qui-Gon's place, Obi-Wan and his student, Anakin Skywalker, had cross the deteriorating platforms, waited in seedy taverns, and met with questionable characters on any number of missions over the years.
This day was no different.
Slipping into the shadow of a narrow alleyway, the Jedi paused. An undercurrent in The Force left him wary. Well, warier than usual. The scrape of metal on metal drew his attention as a security droid shuffled by.
Down a flight of stairs, as the lifts had long since lost functionality, Obi-Wan continued his journey sidestepping an armored figure who was exchanging heated words with a Sullustan over transport fees. The tall humanoid fell silent and turned a red mask toward the Jedi; watching until Obi-Wan had on passed by. He could feel the figure's glare fixed on his back. His hand dropped to his side, but the threat passed without action.
Around the corner, the Jedi nodded to a Gamorrean who stood post at an entrance. He was greeted by a deep snort, but the guard made no effort to stop him as he headed into the narrow passage and arrived at an imposing metal door. A quick glance about revealed no other entry points. Without hesitation he pounded his fist into the tarnished surface.
Deep, resounding thuds echoed before a little door opened and a three-eyed Gran looked out at him. The being chuffed, and then barked a less than polite dismissal.
Obi-Wan had hoped that his last visit several years before had gone forgotten. He sighed and massaged his temple.
"Yes, well, that was an unfortunate incident and I am not looking for a repeat performance." Obi-Wan Kenobi rarely sought out trouble, trouble just seemed to find him.
As the Gran ranted on about explosions and loss of business, Obi-Wan glanced over his shoulder to the Gamorrean at the entrance who was starting to pay a little too much attention.
"I assure you," Obi-Wan said as he drew the hood of his cloak back, "I am not here to cause trouble." When that did not urge the doorkeeper to let him in, he responded with a gentle wave of his hand. "I am thirsty and need drink. You will let me pass."
"You are thirsty and need a drink. I will let you pass." The mini door slid closed, followed by a loud clang. Metal shuddered and then swung inwards. The Gran motioned the Jedi inside with a harsh gesture.
Inside the air was thick and stank of a thousand year old rot. Seemed the only time the fresh air made it into the large room was when someone entered or left. Obi-Wan moved through the open room, careful not to give the sparse occupants undue attention as he sought out the most advantageous position.
A bored human waitress, with dark hair spilling over her shoulders, perked up when the Jedi passed by and trailed him to a booth in a corner equal distance to the main door and the unseen one behind the bar. Before Obi-Wan had settled into his chair, the waitress pressed her palms to the table and leaned forward. She smiled as she looked him over. "What can I do for you?"
Obi-Wan tossed a few credit chips across the table. "Halmudi. Double."
The waitress frowned at the all-business customer lingered a bit too long, before snatching up the chips and heading back to the bar on the far side of the room. The near emptiness was a far cry from the last time he and Anakin had been there.
Curiously for the very same reason.
Letting his hand slip to his side, Obi-Wan drew back the edge of his cloak, removing any obstacle to his weapon. He looked to the man sitting a few booths away, swaying from side to side in a stupor. Two others sat shrouded in the far corner speaking low in an unfamiliar tongue.
The waitress sashayed her way through the maze of tables balancing a tray on her fingertips. She gave him a warm smile with freshly painted lips and delivered the drink to the tacky tabletop. Amber liquid sloshed about, a thin stream running down one side of the glass to the table.
"What a waste," Obi-Wan said, looking over the spilled drink. Picking the glass up he downed the contents in a single draught, which was hardly difficult given how watered down the drink was.
The waitress drew a little closer. Her voice was low and inviting. "What brings a man like you to these parts?"
Obi-Wan set the glass down, but did not devote the woman too much attention. "I am in search for a good drink."
Closer. "Perhaps, if you are looking for a little—"
"He asks me," a Mirialan interrupted as she pulled out one of the chairs from the table and sat down to Obi-Wan's right. Symmetrical indigo tattoos under her eyes gave her an almost sinister appearance. "I'll have what he's having."
"Hardly worth the trouble," Obi-Wan said.
The look of startle quickly left the waitress, revealing something a far more shade of green than that of Obi-Wan's drinking companion. She snatched up the glass from the table and stormed toward the bar.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi." The Mirial smiled. "My, it's been a long time."
"Not so long that the doorkeep has forgotten our last drink together."
Soran rested her elbow against the back of her chair as she glanced about. "Speaking of last time, where is that padawan of yours?"
"Occupied. Haven't you heard, there's a war going on." Obi-Wan noted that the woman seemed no worse for the wear given the divide in the galaxy. She, like so many others in the galaxy's underbelly, seemed to be flourishing while the Jedi and Republic forces were occupied with the Separatists.
The air changed and a cool breeze that lasted only moments wafted in before the heavy door was again shut. The Gran was grumbling something as a large Bothan lumbered past, heading to the bar.
Bearing a far less friendly demeanor, the waitress returned and slapped down two amber filled glasses, which Obi-Wan was obliged to pay for as Soran made no offer. Once the waitress had departed again, Soran asked over her drink: "And what of that funny little astromech of his? Has he grown weary of it yet?"
"Anakin is still quite fond of Artoo. I doubt you will ever willingly separate the two." Obi-Wan couldn't help a little smile over his drink. The last time Soran Hath had information to sell, she was so enamored with the quirky droid that tried to modify the terms of the deal to acquire R2-D2. When that failed, she tried stealing the astromech.
Anakin still held a grudge.
Setting the empty glass down on the table, Obi-Wan shifted slightly, the weight of his attention falling on the young woman. "I am curious to know why this of all places."
The Bothan at the bar registered a loud complaint about the watered down spirits eliciting attention from the patrons. Obi-Wan watched at the bartender tried to appease the customer, but noted that Soran made no attempt to check the situation out. Instead, she sat quietly nursing her drink.
After the Bothan had quieted down, Soran placed her glass on the table and looked at the Jedi. "Because I knew you would remember this place without me spelling out the location." She pushed the empty glass toward Obi-Wan's. "I'm afraid I have to modify the terms of our deal."
Obi-Wan Kenobi considered the source of the deal, a datachip that potentially contained the identities of numerous Separatist spies that had infiltrated key positions within the Republic. He had been given authorization to do what needed to be done to acquire the information.
Soran Hath was good for it, as long as her price was met, and he was eager to make the exchange with the pre-negotiated terms.
"What sort of modification?" he asked.
A wicked smile. "I just need a little help—"
Kicking back from the table, Obi-Wan dodged the first blaster bolt. With lightsaber in hand, he deflected the following barrage, but quickly realized he wasn't the target of the attack. The flow of orange bolts traced after the fleeing Soran. A wave of his hand and the energies of The Force sent his table airborne, smashing into the blaster-wielding waitress.
As Soran raced for the main entrance, she turned—a small pistol in her grip—and opened fire on the Bothan at the bar just as he revealed his own weapon and tried to prevent her escape.
A flash of blue and loud snap stopped the Bothan's attack as the muzzle of the blaster tumbled to the floor. A furred fist flew towards the Jedi who blocked the blow and struck the Bothan hard along the jaw sending him smashing into the bar and then to the floor.
The Gran cried out the instant the metal door swung inward with the invisible hand of The Force. He hit the floor with a thud, barking curses as Soran and Obi-Wan leapt over him and raced out of the tavern.