Jagna started awake, chest fit to explode, staring at a dark ceiling. It was just a dream then. The killer… she lay there, on her bunk, catching her breath for a few minutes. She reminded herself that Daceest had survived. The killer had not even cared about him.
A tingling pain shot down her left arm, numbering her fingers… a memory of that night. The Selkath doctor had said that the tingling pain and numbness were permanent.
She grimaced, sitting up, already in full armorweave and ablative vest. She never slept without them. Glancing around showed only the cramped room. Her thermo detonators, grenades of various makes, charges, old H-206 renegade blaster rifle and ten different other small arms lay clustered around, taking up almost every available nitch. This room by itself would probably blow the ship to shreds if one ever malfunctioned and exploded. Yet even these couldn’t bring much comfort.
She shook her head, still deeply disturbed, pulling the pistol Juga gave her out from under her pillow and putting it into her holster. The door across from her bunk room, usually used as her ‘office’ and work space was closed. She walked down the gangway of the ship, the walls shimmering a dull gray in the dim light of the night setting that they had been dialed down to.
As she walked up to the forward chamber toward the galley, a much brighter light caught her eye: the equipment room. It was relatively large, having previously acted as a conference room. She had removed the furniture and most of the chairs, leaving space for several decent-sized tables and benches. Daceest sat at one of them, the door open, droid parts strewn across his table, paging through a datapad. He had been messing with those parts, accumulating new electronics, ever since she gave him those prodigy 2 droid brain schematics. Somehow, seeing him there was comforting.
She pulled open a cabinet in the small galley and took out a bottle of Correlian ale, pouring some for herself, and sat down wearily, picking a chair in the corner. Her quick glance showed her that Dice was also there, at a corner table, fiddling with what looked like a security camera from Ahto City. Well. One couldn’t have everything. She sipped her ale, eyes unfocusing. The alcohol brought a small measure of relief. Daceest did not look up, continuing to page through his datapad. She checked her chrono. 2 a.m.
Her mind went back to the killer. Dice had confirmed what she had suspected. On the finger he had left behind, there was a molecular signature: JRI. She wasn’t sure it would be there. It was just a finger. They were usually on arm bones. But it was. Dice always found that signature on the corpses of the most persistent of the killers who attacked them. Who were they?
Finally, Daceest looked up.
“I’ve been thinking…” he said, slowly.
“A dangerous occupation,”
He smiled. “Just hear me out.” He leaned back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling. “We need strong allies. My brother knows someone, a Jedi.” She frowned.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said, without moving. “She’s a good sort, and has people trying to kill her too.” Jagna yawned and scratched the input node at her neck, sipping her ale.
“Her last name is A’jelor.”
She almost choked, but managed to get her ale down, shooting him a glare.
“So what?” she said. “It’s a common enough name,”
“That’s the thing,” Daceest said. “It isn’t. Maybe it used to be. But I checked galactic records. There’s very few around anymore.”
“Your point? It isn’t even really my name,” she said. Daceest shrugged.
“I think we should talk to her.”
“What?” Jagna said dangerously, putting down her cup. Daceest smiled, that cursed innocent look in his eyes again.
“Why?” she asked. It was a command.
“Two reasons,” he said. “Alliances and information.”
“We don’t need alliances,” she said, glaring. He did not look away. The statement felt hollow, even to her. Finally she sighed, muttering,
“Does it have to be a Jedi?” he relaxed.
“Trust me. I was talking to Zyrath, and he was explaining that his Jedi has a theory about these assassinations.” She raised her eyebrows.
“And what makes you think they’re related?”
“I’m getting to that,” he said, explaining the theory, in short, as he understood it.
“The ones that originally made the races,” he said, “left a survivor in each race. They’re able to influence history. Movers and shakers. Someone is killing them all, they think. They’re numbers are decreasing.”
In the corner, Dice looked up, murmuring, “The numbers are always increasing, not decreasing. The numbers are always increasing… increasing.” She went back to mumbling something incomprehensible. Probably Cheunh.
“The A’jelors are a Founding line,” he said, and shrugged. “Even if it isn’t your real name… maybe these killers think it is.” She rolled her eyes.
“Then they’re pretty stupid,” she said. “It’s paper thin, Dace.” His face grew more serious.
“Even thin leads are leads,” he said. “Besides, we do need allies. Why don’t you tell Gimble any of this?” She snorted.
“He wouldn’t care about that nonsense. He has lots o’ demolitions people he could find. What matters if one goes missing?”
“If he has lots, then why you?” Daceest asked. She gave him a wry look as if it were obvious.
“Because I’m the best,” she said. He smirked. She glared daggers, and he sighed.
“Well, someday, you might want to tell him. Maybe he could do some investigating. Like you said. He has people.”
“And what if some of the assassins work for him?” Daceest looked up in surprise.
“What? You think he’s behind it?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “But he’s not as particular in who he works for. And I don’t know who’s spying on his network. Besides, he probably will shoot me on sight since I sent him that nasty note about Vannik. Not worth it, Dace.” He nodded and stood up.
“I’ll make the calls,” he said, and left.