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The Riskier Road

Sleheyron wasn't exactly a vacation spot, but it seemed to fill in just fine for a meeting like this.  Ronin sometimes wondered why they had picked it of all places to hold these meetings, whenever they occurred.  But they had to meet somewhere, no matter how uncomfortable it made him.  He suspected that that was one of the reasons.  Nervous clients might respond to the right pressures, might be more easily bullied.  It was a strategy he himself employed from time to time and he would have to make sure that it didn't happen to him.  He'd also need to make sure that this was the last time he came for one of these meetings. 

Odric's nudge in his ribs made Ronin look up from his drink to see their expected contact approaching their booth.  The individual was a simply-garbed, green-skinned Twi'lek.  The clothing hid the man's decent build as well as his status as one of the many small time middle men belonging to the crime syndicate known only as the Exchange.

"Hello Groleck," Ronin said as the Twi'lek slid into the booth.  Odric simply stared the man down stoically. 

"Ronin, I knew you wouldn't be able to stay away for long," Groleck replied with a sharp-toothed smile.  "Those like you and me know where the true opportunities lie."

Ronin fought back a scowl.  "Well, I would've, but then one of your bosses sent out an offer I couldn't refuse."  Groleck's grin widened.

"As I said.  So what is it specifically that brings you back to us, Mr. Cartalli?" 

With a quick look to Odric, Ronin leaned across the table.  "One of your bounties."

If he was surprised, Groleck neglected to show it.  "Oh yes?  Not something I understood you generally do.  And which bounty would that be?"

Ronin's voice was barely above a whisper.  "What if I told you I might know where to find a Jedi?  Maybe even two?"

Groleck leaned back, appearing somewhere between skepticism and intrigue.  "Do you?"

Ronin nodded.  "It's possible.  I can point you or Goto or whoever you'd like right to them.  You nab them, we get paid."

Groleck shook his head.  "You don't get it, do you Ronin?  Do you have any idea how many two cred pistol jockeys make that very claim?  If my employers followed up on every one, we'd never get anything done.  No results.  No results tend to make men like Goto very angry.  And you don't want to make Goto angry, do you Ronin?"

Ronin swallowed, trying to keep his composure.  "Not really."

Groleck flashed another wicked smile.  "Thought not.  Money, especially vast sums of it, makes idiots of many.  The Exchange doesn't take kindly to idiots.  Now, you've been an asset to us in the past.  That's why I agreed to meet with you.  So I'll give you a choice.  You tell me where you think this Jedi is and every bounty hunter in the sector will know it by tomorrow.  Good chance you get nothing, even if a Jedi's where you claim.  On the other hand, you bring Jedi in yourself, it's a good pay day for you."  As he finished, Groleck took each drink on the table, downing them one after another.  "Thanks for the drinks," he said as he stood from the table and headed out, leaving the two shipmates alone in the booth. 

Ronin turned to Odric with a knowing look.  Odric's eyes widened.  "No, we can't possibly... there's no way."

"We have to, Odric.  It's the only way."

"Bullfrell," Odric hissed in a hushed tone, in spite of the bar's ambient noise. "Let's just go back to what we know.  We don't need to hunt Jedi.  We are not that good."

Ronin nodded.  "I agree, we're not.  But we may not need to be.  Like you said, we're former allies.  Jedi are trusting and compassionate to a fault.  We only need to get close, execute a plan, and get them to Goto.  She'll let us get close."

Odric stared at him with narrowed eyes.  "And what is our plan, exactly?" 

Ronin looked off as he sipped a newly arrived drink.  "I haven't quite figured that one out yet," he answered.  Odric downed his glass.

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tough

December 2007

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