Kor shook his head at the sight before them after the Whimsy came out of hyperdrive. According to the library computer in Morg Shippa’s old quarters on Zosma, Caragon-Viner was about as uninteresting a world as there was. It consisted mainly of gently rolling hills and vast plains, suitable only for growing wheat, corn, and similar crops. It had little or no axial tilt, which meant no seasons, so farmers could plant crops year-round. There was no dangerous fauna, and few, if any, mineral resources. The more up-to-date star charts in the Whimsy’s data banks backup up what Morg’s old system said. The view from orbit confirmed what both computers told them.
Prauf summed it up in one word. “Boring.”
“Yeah, but it’s home to the people who live here,” Kor said. “Without farmers, the galaxy would starve.”
“That doesn’t mean I want to be one,” Prauf said.
Kor gave him a wry grin. “Yeah, me either.” He angled the Whimsy toward the ground. “Let’s go meet the general.”
Pouport Terminal was on the outskirts of the capital city of Cheley. They followed the guidance beacon from orbit to their docking berth in Bay 17. A middle-aged man with a ramrod-straight back, presumably General Samlon, wearing a dusty blue uniform was waiting for them at parade rest as they came down the ramp. Hard brown eyes tracked them suspiciously as they approached. A ground vehicle with a driver standing beside it waited behind him.
“You’re the ones who claim to be the new Jedi,” he said before they could introduce themselves.
Kor had already decided how to handle it. “Watch your vehicle.” He stretched out a hand and lifted it off the ground with the Force until it hovered 20 feet in the air. The driver jumped back with a startled exclamation. Samlon’s eyes widened in surprise as he too took an involuntary step back.
Kor heard Prauf’s voice in his head, mind-talking to him with the Force. Show off.
Or a smart aleck, he said the same way, giving Prauf the same answer he’d given him once before. He lowered the vehicle back to the ground, watching the general carefully.
Samlon surveyed them with new eyes, his expression no longer suspicious but now watchful and careful as if he was confronting a wild animal. “You don’t waste any time, do you?”
“I know what people are saying about us,” Kor said. “The sooner we can put all that behind us the better.”
Samlon clasped his hands behind his back and rocked slowly back and forth on his heels. “Better for who?” When they didn’t answer, he nodded to himself. “Suit yourself.” Coming to an abrupt decision, he waved them toward the vehicle. “Come. We have a lot to discuss.”
It was an understatement. The Hutts and the Spice Runners of Kijimi had apparently both decided Caragon would make an excellent drop point on a new trade route for their illegal goods. The ensuing turf war, when they ran into each other, was wreaking havoc on the economy. The local police couldn’t handle it and the army, under General Samlon’s command, was ill-equipped for police duty.
“Store owners and their families have been threatened over and over again by both sides.” Samlon’s expression was grim. “They’re scared to help us and I don’t blame them. The Hutts and the Kijimi are running circles around us in court and we’re almost evenly matched on the streets.” He shook his head. “We’ve tried everything short of declaring martial law and the President is almost ready to do that. When he saw your video, he told me to get hold of you. If you can’t stop it, we’ll have no choice but to declare martial law.” He shook his head again. “That’s a cure worse than the disease.”
Kor could feel the man’s pain and frustration. “We can do it, but you have to understand something about us.”
Samlon’s suspicions suddenly skyrocketed. “What?”
“We meant what we said in our video. We enforce honesty, not laws.”
His eyes narrowed. “Meaning, what?”
Prauf took over. “Meaning, we’re not bound by your laws, rules, and regulations. We’ll take care of the Hutts and the Kijimi, but without any of the legal niceties you normally live by.”
Surprisingly, Samlon burst out laughing. “You don’t know how many times I’ve wished I could do that!” He spread his hands. “Go get ‘em!”
Like bloodhounds set loose from the leash, Kor and Prauf darted out of the building and began bounding from one rooftop to another across the city.
“You feel those concentrations of evil?” Kor asked as they sped over the city.
“They stand like a couple of beacons,” Prauf said. “One right ahead of us, and the other off that way.” He pointed off to the right.
“Want to split up and each of us take one?”
Prauf gave him a toothy grin then angled off to the right.
Kor chuckled. Prauf might not be a bounty hunter anymore but there was still a little bit of the old ‘Professor Death’ left in him. He felt a little bit sorry for whichever group Prauf wound up confronting. If they weren’t careful, they’d wind up deader than dead.
He turned his attention to the concentration of evil he was approaching. It was in a warehouse district, which was a relief. If it turned into a fight, which he suspected it probably would, there wouldn’t be as many innocent people standing around.
Because Jedi were attuned to the Force which was created by all living things, they were masters at detecting life forms, and he was seeing dozens of them stationed on the rooftops of the area ahead. Guards, most likely. All of them were positioned at the edges of buildings where they could look down on the streets to spot anyone coming.
He couldn’t catch them by surprise from the streets and in a minute they’d spot him leaping over the roofs, so that meant he needed to drop on them from above. It looked like it was time to put another of Morg Shippa’s advanced lessons to the test.
The ancient Jedi had been trying to teach them to fly.
They could already use the Force to jump further, higher, and faster than any normal person could, but flying was different. Jedi could lift other people in the air and ‘fly’ them around, but for complicated reasons, it was exponentially harder to do the same thing to yourself. It required special lessons and training to actually fly. Kor and Prauf weren’t there yet, although they were getting close, and using what they’d learned so far, they’d been able to launch themselves fifty or sixty stories into the air and land safely.
Kor gauged the distance to the first guard then launched himself into the sky. For a moment he almost felt like he was flying before the inevitable moment when gravity took over and began pulling him back down. He let himself plummet, unrestrained for several seconds before he caught himself with the Force just as he landed beside the guard, chopping the man on the neck, knocking him out instantly.
He lowered the guard to the rooftop then used the Force to wrap a length of pipe around him. Satisfied the man wasn’t going anywhere, he used his feelings to find the next guard. As soon as he did, he launched himself skyward once again. Off in the distance, he could feel Prauf arcing high above the city, doing the same thing.
Repeating his maneuver, again and again, he soon had 37 captives tied up. Each of them had been heavily armed. Comm-links on their belts told him he had to work fast because they were probably required to check in regularly. The moment the last one was taken care of, he headed for the main concentration of evil. There were malignant feelings of anger, scheming, and hatred coming from life forms in several different buildings but the largest one was most likely where the leadership was. As he approached it, he could feel the presence of a Hutt.
That meant Prauf was dealing with the Spice Runners of Kijimi.
Kor extended his feelings with the Force, probing for an unlocked door or window, but there weren’t any. He decided that if he couldn’t enter by stealth, he’d go for the big dramatic entrance instead. Using the Force like a sledgehammer, he smashed open a huge hole in the roof and dropped into the room below, his cloak billowing around him.
Men yelled and scrambled out of the way as debris came crashing down all around them. Kor lit his lightsaber with a Pssshhew-Schvrmmmmmmm! and everyone froze in surprise.
One of the men dropped a hand to the blaster on his hip. “Utjoh! It’s a Jedi!”
The Hutt lounging behind a huge desk scowled darkly. “There aren’t any Jedi.” His voice was deep and guttural.
Kor smiled at him. “What’s wrong, Utjoh? Haven’t you seen our video?” A broken beam came loose and swung toward him. He flung it out of the way with the Force. It crashed against Utjoh’s desk with a thunderous crack.
Utjoh reared back in surprise. “Impossible. The last of the Jedi died on Endor.”
Kor didn’t feel like arguing with a criminal. “Impossible or not, my name is Kor Sheen and I’m a Jedi. I’m ordering you to dismantle your criminal empire and leave Caragon forever. Otherwise, you’re all going to die.” He aimed his lightsaber at Utjoh. “Starting with you.”
The men around the room stirred uneasily at his words. None of them had ever seen a Jedi in person before but they’d all heard plenty of stories about them. The prospect of fighting a man who gave every indication of being one of those legendary figures was a daunting one.
A sudden flare in the Force told Kor that Prauf had dispensed with the pleasantries with the Kijimi across town. He gave the men in the room a wolfish smile. “My fellow Jedi, Prauf ne Jhemon d’Aubreta, just started killing the Kijimi. Surrender now or you’ll die with them.”
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