“By doing a spicerun.”
Zeerid shook his head. “I don’t run spice. That was our understanding—”
Oren’s voice never lost its calm, but the edge on it could have gouged armor. “The understanding has changed, contingent, as it was, on your successful completion of assignments. You owe us a large sum of credits and you owe me a large sum of face. You will make up both with a few spiceruns. That’s where the credits are. So that’s where you will be.”
Zeerid said nothing, could say nothing.
“Are we clear, Z-man?”
Zeerid scowled but said, “Clear.”
“Return to Vulta. I will be in touch soon. I have something in mind already.”
I’ll bet you do, Zeerid thought but didn’t say.
The channel closed and Zeerid let fly with a sleet storm of expletives. When he had finally vented, he cleared Ord Mantell’s gravity well and its moons, set a course for Vulta, and engaged the hyperdrive.
“I’m a spicerunner, now,” he said, as the black of space turned to the blue of hyperspace.
The treadmill under his feet had just picked up speed.
* * *
Aryn felt dizzy. A rush of emotion flooded her. She could not name it, categorize it. It was just a wash of inchoate, raw feeling. She was swimming in it, sinking.
“Something is happening, Syo,” she said, her voice tight. “I don’t know what it is, but it is not good.”
* * *
Master Zallow and the six Jedi Knights near Malgus leapt back and up, flipping at the top of the arc of their leaps, and landed in a crouch twenty meters away.
“May the Force be with you all,” Zallow shouted to his fellow Jedi, and lit his blade.
Dozens more Jedi poured out of the hallway behind him and flowed down the staircase, the blades of their lightsabers visible through the smoke and dust, a forest of green and blue oriflammes.