The next morning found us blindfolded and transported back to the entrance of the swoop track. Our weapons were returned and I breathed a sigh of relief as I placed my blasters lovingly in their holsters. Aiden watched me, silently shaking his head.
“You treat those things like they are precious.”
“Well, they are. I take care of them, so that in a fire fight, they will take care of me. It is no different with you and your weapon.”
Dak stepped closer to us. “Well, now what?”
Aiden began walking and we all fell into step beside him. “We need to find a more private place to discuss this. Dak, may we speak at your shop?”
Dak heartily agreed and the three of us; discussion on hold, walked in the direction of the swoop bike shop. The walk took only a few moments and then we were inside; safe from any prying ears. Shorcuk and I sat down on some boxes and Dak leaned against the wall. Aiden turned toward us and continued to speak.
“Bekka would like for us to return something that has been lost to her. She says that if we do this, we will be a part of her gang.”
“I take it, that you mean we have to steal something?” I rolled my eyes, wondering when something was going to be easy for a change.
“Yes. It seems that our Blade Viper mistress was in possession of a small artifact. She refused to tell me what it was and I am not certain that she really knows. She found it in the Under-City, in an isolated sector. She described it as a small shiny object, golden in color and jagged on two edges as if it once connected to something, another piece perhaps. She had found a buyer for it. She did not name any individuals or groups, but I had the strong feeling that it is Sith related. I felt a strange dark presence in that base, possibly just a residual effect lingering from the artifact, but a dark presence all the same.”
Dak, Shorcuk and I listened intently. “So, what happened to this artifact, how was it taken?
Aiden shrugged. “She is not certain why it was taken, but her security cameras captured one of her own gang members sneaking into the room and stealing it. She had told no one about having a buyer for it, and only a few of the gang members even knew of its existence.”
“Where do we start looking then?”
“I have no idea, but she is only giving us four days to find it and return it to her.”
“Four days! Does she have any idea how big this planet is? Kark! We don’t even know if what we are looking for is still on this planet. How long ago did this artifact get stolen?” I ran my hand over my face, this was just what we needed: an impossible task; as if we didn’t have enough of those already.
“Just before we arrived on the planet. She believes that the thief, a man by the name of Tylan Jakurra, is a member of a rival group known as the Blood Raiders. He must have infiltrated the base and waited for just the right time to steal it.”
“That would mean that he had probably been undercover as one of her members for quite a while.”
“I have heard of the Blood Raiders,” Dak replied. “ They are a smaller group, from the next sector. They don’t have the ruthless reputation that the Blade Vipers have, yet.”
“So why would they take this particular item?”
Dak shook his head. “ My guess is that this Tylan either witnessed Bekka finding this artifact or he saw her lock it up. If it seems like something that may be important to your rival, it is worth stealing.”
“Well, I guess we need to travel to the next sector and see if we can find Tylan and persuade him to take us to the artifact.”
Aiden, chuckled. “I hope it is as easy as you make it sound.”
I looked at him thoughtfully. “I really do not see that we have any other choice.”
“And what about Manias’s daughter?” Dak asked.
Aiden reached up, running a hand through his hair, thoughtfully. “ I think she will be safe until we can find this artifact. I saw several servants while on my tour of the base with Bekka. I asked her about them. She told me that they were taken as payment on debts. I am fairly certain that they have Manias’s youngling somewhere in the base, working as a servant. We have to find this artifact and return it to the base, if we want to get close to the girl.”
Dak gave us a quizzical look. “You aren’t really going to find this thing and turn it over to the Blade Vipers are you? It could be something dangerous!”
No Dak, we are not, but when we find it, we must at least make her believe we are going to return it to her or we may never get back inside that base.”
“When that happens,” I chimed in, “You know we will have a fight on our hands. They are not going to just let us go in there and take her.”
“That is true, so we must make certain that we are ready when the time comes. For now, we are getting ahead of ourselves, first we have to find it.”