Mercenary Politique Pt 9

By Dora Furlong and Armand Banooni

Tara groaned inwardly, back in Hyperspace for the second time that
day. The Emperor had offered for her to remain on Coruscant for a few
days, but there was little time for her to do so. Too much was riding
on this next mission and Lon was eager to depart. It wasn't that she
hated space travel, she had simply done too much of it in the last
year. Unfortunately, she realized that she was about to be doing a lot
more of it in the upcoming months.

"I need you to go to the planet Marquette and retrieve a package for
me." She leaned back in the chair and sipped at her Tea, trying to
ignore Topaz behind her. She was certain he would have many questions
for her after all was said and done. But then most of that was her
guilty conscience speaking. She had purposely kept this mission from
him. The fewer the people that knew beforehand, the better; including
her bodyguard.

Lon recognized the planet name as being deep in the corporate sector
and wondered why she would hire a smuggler for such a job. "So what's
in this package"?

Tara smiled broadly, trying to remain good natured and not push the
merc, "I can't answer that. I can tell you that it is very important
and involves something larger than the Alliance or the Empire.

"Do you know what it is?" He inquired.

She nodded, not taking her eyes off of his, falling into her standard
business regimen, gauging his reactions.

Lon met her gaze not feeling uncomfortable, falling into a business regimen 
of his own.  "So if I don't know what's in it, how can I take proper care of 

Tara's eyes snapped briefly, "You can take proper care by making
certain it does not fall into any other person's hands." She paused,
watching him closely, then added, "Oh don't worry, It's not going to
be breakable."  A small look of annoyance crossed her face, certain
that the smuggler would continue trying to figure out what his cargo
would be, "It is not living, animal, mineral, it will not explode, it
will not degrade, nor, will it die on you."

"How big is this package going to be?" 

'A fair question,' She thought to herself. "Approximately 8"x6"x4"
"You will be given a solid metal box. To which I already have the

"Metal huh?" Lon considered aloud, "Hope there aren't metal detectors
on the way out of this place"

Tara shot Lon a wary glance, "I doubt that will be a problem."

He nodded and also regarded her warily, "So why is it you can't get
this package yourself?"

"I am too well known." She replied, hoping this would satisfy his
curiosity, "It would cause...a disturbance."

To her relief, Solo accepted her answer and went on, "Who else wants
this neat little box?"

She shrugged, "Of that I'm not really sure." She knew that the Corporate
Sector Authority would stop at nothing to keep this from getting out, but
she had no idea who they would send after him, or even what they would
look like.

Lon smiled, "Guess."

"No one." Tara chuckled, "Everyone. If you are concerned then assume
that it is the most dangerous job you have ever taken."

"I try not to assume as much as possible.  What I want to know
is, do you consider me expendable."

Tara became very still and settled, all pretense of humor gone, "No
and neither is what you will carry."

"Why choose me?"

"Because you have skill for this type of thing." She shot back.

"I'm sure you know others..."

 "Fine." She stated flatly, "Look if you don't want the job..."She
allowed her voice to trail off. She had no time to play the games and
deal with his uncertainty and she was sure he did not want to waste his
time either. 

"You know that I expressed interest.  That's why I'm here.
I'm used to carrying unknown cargo.  It's rare that one says that this is
larger than both the Empire and Alliance.  I'm you are."

Tara nodded, "That's fair." And it was fair. She simply didn't like
the hesitancy he was showing her. Any smuggler who was hesitant was
bound to cost you more than they should. "So do you want it or not?"
She asked out right.

"Show me where I'm taking this package from."

Once more she regarded him with a wary eye. It was hardly a
commitment or a refusal. She did not want to waste her time giving
him details he would be better off not knowing. And she still felt as
if she was trying to convince him to take a job he was hesitant
about, but she nodded and brought up the holographic star maps. After
all they still had a few more hours before they reached Tatooine and
Lon was back on his own.

If Lon wasn't sure before, he was now. He was headed for the heart of the

"Your cover," Tara informed him, "Will be as a parcel
will pick up several shipments from Dr. Kerz..."

"How many items will I retrieve?" He interrupted. 

She paused, surprised by his question, and then answered the question
he thought he was really asking, "There will be several
will know the one I am interested in..the others will be false
packages containing various medical supplies..."

As she spoke, he learned more about the mission from what Tara didn't
say, "Are the others aware that the packages are false?"

"No." She replied, "No others will be aware the packages are false." 
'Or at least if the good Doctor has done his job, they won't be aware.'
She thought to herself.  

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