((Joint post with WJ))
"Please excuse me for a moment, Ferod," Niara said quietly. "I have some unfinished business to attend to."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Shyla stared at Niara, eyes wide, mouth hanging open. "Oh..." she muttered. But she was determined to ignore the exile until it became impossible to do so. She crossed the room, going to the counter and addressing the man standing there.
"My name is Shyla Ruf," she told him. "I've instructed the port authority to send potential passengers and cargo jobs here. They ask for me, point me out, will you?"
"Not sure I can manage," the man answered. "I'm terribly busy an' all..."
Shyla rolled her eyes and muttered, "They all want money..." Then, she dropped a credit chip on the counter and the man grinned, promising to do as she'd requested. But as she turned from him, she found herself face to face with Niara Kyr, the woman she'd wanted so desperately to avoid.
"Shyla," Niara greeted coolly.
"Niara," Shyla replied, in a rather less-level tone. "You... I... well, I didn't expect to see you again after..."
"After you discovered what I am and left me to die on a rock without a name?" Niara challenged.
"It wasn't like that!" Shyla protested. "Sure you being a..."
Niara interrupted. "Bounty hunter..."
"... scared me," Shyla finished. She frowned, her mind working on overdrive to attempt to recover from Niara's interruption. "Thought maybe you'd come hunting for me... after all, I'm not exactly..."
"I know your past," Niara interrupted. "So you thought CorSec would send a hunter after you? Don't give yourself airs. Sure, you stole an R3 and a ship but you're gone and that's what they wanted. But the way I see it, you owe me big now... now that I've found you again. You still have the ship, I know. Don't try to deny it."
"How the hell do I owe you?" Shyla demanded irritably. "You're alive, aren't you?"
"That's not the point," Niara snapped. "I saved your life, helped you escape CorSec and your thanks was a trip to a dead rock with no atmosphere."
"Why did you help me?" Shyla asked, her attitude changing suddenly from fear to near-anger. "Why keep me alive?"
"Because I had to," Niara answered gently. "It's part of my nature that if I can help and I know it's right..."
"Was it right?" Shyla asked, almost as if begging for a negative answer.
"Absolutely right," Niara replied. She wrapped her arm around the taller woman's waist. "Come. You need to meet a friend of mine. Perhaps we can find a use for you."
She led Niara over to the table where Ferod sat. "Ferod Lukom, this is an acquaintance of mine, Shyla Ruf. Ex-CorSec, dishonorably discharged due to her superiors' ignorance, stole a ship and a droid with my help. Now, she's a mercenary. Shyla, this is an old friend of mine, Ferod Lukom."
"Great," Shyla muttered. "I try to stay out of trouble and stay away from Corellia... managed one of the two." She glared at the Jedi and the exile. "You'd better not be expecting me to fly you to Corellia."
Niara seemed greatly amused. "Shyla owes me a great deal," she told Ferod. "If we need a quick escape from this place, she's going to provide it for us."