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Pfffffffffffffft.

 

“Ahhhh!  What the…”

 

That’s all the Jedi had time to exclaim before the crowded senate chamber started to panic.  Mandalorians never landed on Coruscant.  Never!

 

But this was no average Mandalorian.  It was him, the Republic’s most wanted here in the heart of the capital of the Republic.  Even among the startled and panicked commotion every one of his footfalls could be heard, could be felt echoing through the floor of senate chamber.

 

Never before has such a bold move been made; certainly not against the Jedi, but the senate perhaps and not by a mere hunter alone; not since the Sith attacked the Jedi temple so many years ago.  He walked toward the faltering Jedi with a cautious confidence.  The Jedi reached for his saber.

 

It was ripped from his grasp and met midpoint between him and the Hunter.  A device shot out from the Hunter’s left arm, snatched the Jedi’s saber and returned to the Hunter.  In hand the Hunter, with the aid of exoskeletal suit modifications squeezed the elegant weapon until it cracked and sparked declaring it no longer operational.

 

As the Hunter continued toward the Jedi, he picked out the crystal from the destroyed saber and stuffed it in a pouch on his belt in time to react to a leaping Jedi intent of kicking the Hunter.

 

The Hunter pivoted moving his hands around the Jedi’s foot, snatching his ankle, and pulling him down.  The Jedi crashed into the floor with a horrid snapping sound.  The Hunter had seen to it that the Jedi wouldn’t be fighting back now with broken ribs.

 

The Jedi motioned to use the Force on the Hunter but nothing happened.  “Wha…what have you…what have you done to me?”

 

Behind a combat helm with a T-shaped visor and forest green paint projected a metallic, almost recorded voice, “You made the same mistake Malgus made.  You thought you have control.  But now you see that control is merely an illusion.”  But the Hunter didn’t mention his own Force sensitive abilities.

 

“Wha…wha…do you want from me,” the Jedi begged.

 

“Take me off the list.  I’m not the Republic’s enemy.  You know who I am.  You also know I’m not guilty of the charges the Republic has levied against me.  Tell the master of your order, this Satele Shan, to search the secondary data base on Tython.  There she will find a pure copy of my record, unaltered.  Someone, or something, in your beloved and corrupted republic has set me up.”

 

With a pained voice, “How….how do you know this,” the Jedi asked.

 

“It doesn’t matter how I know.  What matters is that the list of crimes I’m accused of is false.  I’m not sticking around to be subjected to the shortsightedness of an order that is overly confident in its abilities, in its wisdom.  Search your feelings and tell me I am hiding the truth about this.” The Hunter continued.

 

There was a brief pause.  The Hunter became aware of the silence in the emptied senate chamber.  He had only a few moments before security would arrive.

 

“There is no lie, no deception in my motive here, Jedi.  It is true that I work for the Empire on occasion but that allegiance extends to defensive contracts only.  I’ve killed other Jedi before in self defense only.  I will not hesitate to kill you or others to defend myself today.  Your order lost three to my skills after the stunt Captain Duma pulled.  All three Jedi fired on me first falsely believing I was responsible for killing Republic personnel out of cold blood.”  The Hunter reached into a pouch on his belt and pulled out a data chip, tossing it onto the chest of the broken Jedi.

 

“Take that data chip.  Match that to your records and contact the names on that list.  There are those in your order who can verify that information.  But before you do anything else, tell Satele Shan to BACK OFF.  I know her where-a-bouts.  I can find her just as easily as I can get back into this chamber.”  The Hunter stopped short, pulling his blaster out to the ready.

 

Booted footfalls, hard and fast, were approaching the chamber.  The Hunter flicked a switch on his right forearm.  A soft pale blue glow illuminated around him and then faded.  Three Jedi came running into the chamber.

 

The broken Jedi on the floor behind the Hunter tried to warn the new comers.  “NO!  Wait!  He’s not…”

 

The entering Jedi all illuminated their sabers and affected aggressive fighting stances coming at the Hunter.  The Hunter lit them all up with a furious hail of blaster bolters from his modified weapon.  Deflected bolts ricocheted off the Hunters personal deflector shield; illegal in Republic territories.  While the Jedi were busy deflecting the bolts the Hunter raised his left arm and fired in rapid secession six micro darts that the defending Jedi didn’t notice.

 

Within seconds each Jedi was stumbling.  The first Jedi’s saber was ripped from his hands in the same manner the broken Jedi’s was.  Before the first saber could return, the Hunter released another device from his other arm and captured the second Jedi’s saber.  The third Jedi attempted to throw his saber at the Hunter.

 

That was a mistake.  The Hunter caught the saber and fired a single blaster bolter into the chest of that Jedi.  Each now succumbed more quickly to the serum than the broken Jedi on the floor behind the Hunter.  Two shots cowed them much faster.

 

The Hunter walked over to the Jedi he blasted a hole through.  He reached into another pouch on his belt and pulled out a capsule of some sort.  He kneeled next to the dying Jedi and crushed the capsule across his wound.  The blaster bolt missed his heart and lungs but ripped through the first layers of the Jedi’s skin and muscles.

 

The powder from the capsule bubbled and sizzled on the wound.  Noticing this one of the Jedi remarked, “What kind of killer gives kolto powder to his victims?”

Standing and crushing the three light sabers as before, removing their crystals, the Hunter began explaining.
 

“I’m no killer, you fool!  You’ve got it wrong.  But before I go…”  The Hunter swung his blaster at the second Jedi he took a saber from making a large gash in his face.  “That’s for Tatooine.  I know you tried to set me up.  The Mandalorion you’re looking for is Garnash.  He killed your padawan.  Not me.  Come after me again and I’ll finish what I just started.”

 

The Hunter turned back towards the broken Jedi dropping the three broken sabers on the ground in front of their owners, “Make sure they know everything.  I mean EVERYTHING!”

 

The broken Jedi nodded weakly.  The Hunter looked toward a darken corner and nodded towards me.  All of them were surprised.  None had noticed me there.  By the time we got back to our transport additional Jedi should have arrived in that senate chamber.  I was glad no other security personnel showed up.  I really didn’t want to have to shoot at anyone even though that’s why I was there.

 

My husband was good at what he did.  Perhaps he was too good.  We were both innocent of the crimes levied against us by the Republic; but the Republic didn’t seem to care until that day.  They knew about my husband, Erikson, but still had no idea who I was.

 

So far as I could tell there were not records in any of the Republic’s databases or the Jedi’s concerning the rest of the crew except for Blizz.  But whatever they had on Blizz had to be a bad joke.  For a society that prided itself on being too evolved to discriminate they certainly laid a thick foundation of hate for Jawas.

 

Hopefully they will deliver that message to their master.  We might be on the payroll of the Empire but we’re not responsible for their crimes.  Some of our jobs were questionable but we only killed in self defense; and the defense of others who were not provocateurs of unwarranted aggression anymore than the standard Republic soldier.

 

No matter, I don’t think we will ever be rid of this life.  The war isn’t going well for the Empire.  We know we can’t trust the Republic.  But what are we going to do about it with so many people believing in these unjustly coercive and corrupted ideas?

 

The Hutts only have the power they do because of the laws forbidding so many things.  I only joined Erikson because he was turned into a hunter by the Republic’s and the Empire’s war with one another.  The Republic stole his cargo ship.  The Empire stole his family.  And the only reason he saved me on Nal Hutta was because he was discarded there by Imperial negligence.

 

Now we, his crew, are all he has.  And we are all each of us has because of this war.  None of us have any family left accept each other now.

 

Damn the Jedi.  Damn the Sith.  Damn both of their governments.  Damn them all!

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