The Dusty Gizka dropped out of hyperspace, and already Bit was feeling anxious. The large, gray-green orb looming ahead of them was none other than Nal Hutta; the homeworld of the Hutts, and political head of any and all under-the-table dealings. Off to the right, however, was their current goal. Nar Shadda, the moon of the Hutt homeworld, was generously called "Little Coruscant" by some beings, and "that wretched hive" by others. While only those close to the Hutts were allowed to go to the planet proper, all other kinds of racketeering and debauchery took place on the moon.
"This is where we'll find parts for lightsabers?" Coram asked incredulously. "The Hutts are gangsters. They'd just as soon sell us as Jedi target practice than help us on our quest."
Bit watched out of the corner of his photoreceptor as Coram fidgeted, and began his descent towards the moon, "It's just as Master Vrash said. All the best finds are outside of the republic's jurisdiction, and this planet is basically one big junkyard sale."
"I still think caution is wisest here." Nokturne piped up from behind Bit, "we probably shouldn't buy most of our supplies in the same area. Someone might connect the dots and realize just what it is we're building."
Bit and Coram both nodded in agreement, and after a confirmation of their landing pad coordinates, Bit stowed his lightsaber in a small chassis compartment while his two organic comrades donned travelers garments, making sure to hide theirs in the folds of the billowing cloth. Readying himself for whatever they might find on the moon, Bit and the others prepped themselves for their journey through Nar Shadda.
The first thing Coram noticed when they disembarked the Dusty Gizka was the smell. A thousand different pheromones from a hundred different species wafted through the air, mingling with the smells of a number of deep fried foods before reaching his nose. They said that the older a Cathar got, the better his sense of smell became. Coram sorely wished that he would never have to return here anytime in the far future. He may never make it out alive.
After stowing their lightsabers within the folds of their traveling garments, and Bit hiding his in a compartment on his chassis, the three padawans stepped off of the landing pad. They were almost immediately greeted by a Toydarian wearing a floppy hat with a number of vintage blasters around his bloated waist in varying states of disrepair.
"I think you may wanna pay the landing fee before I repossess your ship, eh? Two-thousand and she stays where she is. Otherwise, I take her off your hands.
Coram opened his mouth to tell the Toydarian exactly what he thought of the offer in the one Huttese phrase he knew, but was beat out by Nokturne.
"You'd be lucky to get five hundred credits for the heap we're flying," came the Gen'dai's gravely voice, jutting one tentacle back at the bulk freighter. "We'll pay seven hundred to keep her here--"
"--and another three hundred if you can point us to where we can find emitters and lenses for laser mining equipment." Coram added, sensing the opportunity.
The Toydarian scratched the patchy hair that wasn't covered by his hat, "Mmm...Deal." Came his reply, followed by the clink of credits falling into his greedy palms, "The best place to find rare and vintage parts is Teelo's Hut a few dozen levels down from here. If he doesn't have it, you bet your blaster he knows where to get it."
A short public turbolift ride later, the three stepped out onto a merchant level of the smuggler's moon. The shop mentioned to them by the Toydarian was very hard to miss. Amongst the dilapidated stalls and lean-to shops, a gleaming duracrete shop stood, it's sign flashing Teelo's Hut; Antiques and Baubles for the Discerning Eye, then alternating to a hologram of parts and credit symbols between a happy looking Hutt and a happy looking customer.
"Flashy," Coram muttered as they took a wide ped-way to the shop. A gentle chime sounded as they entered, and the three were greeted by a low, booming voice, "Bo shuda." A common greeting in Huttese.
The shop itself was deceptively small on the inside, which made it all the more surprising when the large, slug-like form of a Hutt came sliding out from a room behind the counter. "Take a look around," the Hutt said with a wave of his arm, "I am Teelo, and this is my boutique. There's plenty here to interest the intrepid and curious."
The shelves and counters were all cluttered with every kind of gadget; both whole and in various pieces. This was the kind of place Coram could spend a lifetime in. Bit had his holobooks, but Coram had his mechanics shops. He was just looking over a carton of 'modified' cryoban grenades that were half price when Bit's metallic voice called over.
"I think I found what we're looking for!"
Coram closed the carton and hurried to the stacks that Bit was perusing, meeting Nokturne as he arrived. In Bit's mechanical hands was a small sheet of a slightly translucent material roughly the size of a sheet of flimsi. "this is just the material needed for making a lens for our emitters." He whispered.
They each grabbed a sheet as well as a trio of comlinks and some other general supplies to not draw attention to their true goal. The three placed their items on the counter as Teelo the Hutt slid over to the other side, and Coram noticed that up close, there were faint swirling tattoos all along both arms of the Hutt's green skin. When the dim light caught them at certain angles, they seemed to shimmer in oranges and reds like fire.
"New to the system?" Teelo rumbled, drawing Coram's attention back on the Hutt's face. He was carefully eyeing their purchases.
"Laser miners," Bit responded, gesturing to the translucent sheets, "Hard to find supplies like this back on Subterrel."
Teelo's eyes became narrow slits as he observed the shard Jedi, "Mmm. Talkative droid you have." He remarked, causing Bit to give an indignant electronic *meep* before moving off to continue browsing.
Coram forced a chuckle, "Labor droids these days. Seems they're always forming quirks."
Turning his gaze to the Cathar, Teelo gave a wide, knowing smile that made Coram's mane bristle. "Of course. Though I suspect you gather your supplies and leave soon. Nar Shadda isn't very welcoming to Jeedai; miners or not."
Bit cautiously turned his head so one photoreceptor could focus on the Hutt while he continued to feign browsing. Coram looked from him to Nokturne, whose visage was unreadable under his mask, then back to the Hutt, "What gave you that impression?" Coram asked cautiously.
The Hutt waved his hands at their traveling robes, "Your disguises. They fit your story a Bit too well. Jeedai have a habit of overplaying their hand. It makes you as easy to read as any other being...to a Hutt at least. The last one to arrive on our moon was met with," he paused, "an untimely end."
"So, Teelo the Hutt, now that you have this information, what do you plan to do with it?" Nokturne asked, a bit of edge to his normally quiet voice.
Teelo smiled again, "Jeedai always make good customers! Honest without much risk of backstabbing. You are building lightsabers, yes? Oh, you cannot be so coy! A Hutt knows many secrets of the galaxy, and I have the greatest knowledge of rare tech among the ruling families."
The three Jedi exchanged glances, "This means I also come into possession of a great number of rare pieces. Some of possible importance to young Jeedai questing for their own lightsabers, in fact."
The three padawans turned to each other. Was it safe? Was it at least worth checking out? Finally curiosity won out among them, and Coram turned to Teelo. "Show us what you have."
Bit and the others followed Teelo into his office, noting that aside from everything being scaled to fit a Hutt's larger body size, it appeared to be a simple accounting setup.
However, the room was not so much an office as it was a front that disguised a whole other area behind it. Pushing away a large record-keeping table, Teelo revealed a door panel that split the back wall into an opening that led down into darkness. He gave a slight smile, obviously proud of his secret entrance, and beckoned them to follow.
Bit's optics adjusted quickly to the darkness and he started taking stock of where Teelo was leading them. They were descending down a long hall that went past this level of Nar Shadda into another level entirely, hiding the true scale of Teelo's Hut to any passerby. A low, warm mist exuded from recessed pipes in the walls that made the entire hallway smell like a marsh. Coram wrinkled his nose at the pungent smell, making Bit both thankful and a Bit envious at his lack of the sense. The Hutt led them through the dank corridor before they came to an opening that could very well encompass half of the city block beneath Teelo's Hut.
The opening had vast shelves of weaponry, armor, spices, and all other kinds of illegal trinkets that lined the entire left side of the complex. To the right were stalls filled with more specialty items, though the room was devoid of any vendors or other beings browsing the wide selection. Along the far end were a string of cages with a large pit in front of them. It didn't take a genius to figure out what this place was, and Bit was more than a Bit apprehensive to even be here; a black market trading hub.
Bit shuddered in the Force. While he himself was not organic, he could sense the presences of a few life forms with the dull glow of rudimentary sentience in the cages on the far wall. "What are the cages for?" he asked Teelo, who had been expounding on several 'Jedi relics' on a shelf that any Jedi could tell were obvious fakes.
The bloated Hutt turned to look at Bit, "Mostly beasts of burden with a few, uh, big-game species from the reserves on Gamorr."
"Would you mind if I..." Bit let the sentence trail off.
"Of course, look through whatever garners your interest. I've closed the market to all but you, Jedi friends." He turned back to the other two, and resumed his discussion on the 'genuine' Dai-Bendu holocron he was holding.
Bit moved over to the cages and inspected the animals within. As the Hutt had said, most of them were simple beasts of burden--kaadus, eopies, even a tauntaun from the recently explored Hoth system--with a few more dangerous nexu, sand panthers, and gundarks mixed in.
Bit examined the specimens, noting that they were being kept in relatively good care, all things considered, when he felt a presence reach out and touch him in the Force. It was a curious touch, one from a being who seemed confused by his Force presence more than aggressive or wary.
Bit turned towards the being and found himself drawn to one of the cages. Inside was another beast, though one he had never seen before. It was a very dark shade of blue, with fine hairs covering it's lithe form, and a stump of a tail. It was lying on a pile of hay for bedding, but looked up at him as he neared. Bit could easily tell it was a predatory species. The long snout for tracking, attentive ears, and razor sharp claws and fangs made sure of that, but it also showed what felt like an affinity to the Force. Bit reflexively took a step back, shocked that such a creature could have an affinity to the Force.
He was so enthralled by the animal's curious nature that he was startled when a blubbery hand slapped his shoulder, "I see you have found my prized creature among the lot," said Teelo, sliding up next to the Shard.
"What is it?" Bit managed.
"A vornskr, native to the forbidden planet, Myrkr. A predator that hunts it's prey using the Force, so I'm told." The Hutt explained as the other two Jedi came over to see. "I could be persuaded to part with it. The tail has been removed, making it easier to tame, though sadly, I've never been able to.” Giving a sideways glance at the obviously-interested Shard, Teelo pressed, “Maybe a being with similar connections to the unseen Force would have better luck."
"How much?" The words sputtered out of Bit's vocabulator before he realized he had uttered the words. For some reason he felt a certain connection to the animal. A bond that he could quite literally feel through the Force.
"Bit," Coram whispered, "do we really have time for this?"
Bit turned to look at the Cathar, and Nokturne beside him. "I can't explain it, but this creature...I can feel something about it; that the Force brought us here to it."
Coram rolled his eyes, but Nokturne nodded, "I agree with Bit. If anything, such a rare creature should not be left in this state. We can present it to the council at the very least.”
Bit turned back to Teelo the Hutt, who had produced a datapad from his satchel, and was busy tabulating. The Hutt gave a satisfied belch, then smiled at him, "I would normally ask for a tidy sum for a rare and sought-after creature such as this. However, it is yours for no more than two thousand credits and a single favor from you; to be redeemed at a later time of course."
"A favor?" Coram blurted, "Why a favor?"
Teelo held out his datapad for Bit to sign, "Many things in the galaxy are of value," he gave a slow, wide smile as Bit signed the datapad and handed it back, "but none are more sought-after than a favor from a Jeedai."