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Irisa Ece

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In the sprawling embrace of the orbiting spaceport, where the infinite expanse of the cosmos kissed the edges of humanity's reach, Irisa found herself ensconced within the warm embrace of a rowdy diner. The establishment hummed with life, a vibrant mixture of species converging in a cacophony of chatter and laughter. All around, there was the ebb and flow of sentient life. Alien tongues mingled with the universal language of commerce, while the soft clatter of dishes provided a steady rhythm to the bustling symphony of activity. Star-hoppers and traders, weary travelers and seasoned adventurers, all found respite within the diner's welcoming embrace.

Including a vivacious Zeltron hybrid.

Seated at a corner booth, the hybrid sat rather comfortably with her feet resting up on a stray stool. Balanced in her lap was asleek datapad in one hand, its holographic display flickering intermittently as she deftly navigated through a cascade of reports and data streams. Occasionally, her attention would waver, drawn away by the tantalizing aromas wafting from the nearby kitchen. A toothsome treat, nestled on a small plate beside her, tempted her senses. With an appetite as ravenous as hers, she indulged in every nibble, savoring each morsel with an almost reverent appreciation.

Enjoying the richness of the food, Irisa didn't mind having to wait for the arrival of her fellow Jedi knight, Zephyr. Admittedly, it was a rather odd place to meet but there was a method in Irisa’s madness. Once she explained the situation, the tiefling would without doubt understand the gravity of the situation that was potentially unfolding.
 

Zephyr Dadoni

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The spaceport was full of people from different species. All of them are busy with their own things. Some were working honestly, while others were involved in jobs that were more connected with the illegal side of things. In a place like this spacestation, all of anything and located in the fringes of space. Individuals that deal with the last type were very common.

Zephyr had attested that while he walked toward the place of his meeting with Ece. He saw some Pykes whispering in a corner, looking around with suspicion. The Tiefling also noticed a very suspicious Balosar passing death sticks around. There were a lot of others doing similar illegal things. They were exactly the type of people that he dealt with when he was a slave.

He walked a bit faster, not wanting these types to notice that he was staring. He didn’t want to get in trouble even before Ece explained to him what they were going to do.

Thankfully, Zephyr arrived at the booth without any problem. He immediately found the Zeltron, her purple hair was impossible to meet. The Tiefling approached her, a large smile on his lips. “Hi, Darling! How are you?” he said, stopping next to her and asking food for himself. “I missed your pretty spinel eyes.

@HoneyMagpie
 

Irisa Ece

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Irisa’s eyes flicked up from her datapad as soon as she sensed the familiar presence of Zephyr. Without a slither of shame, she openly admired the advancing tiefling. A low, appreciative whistle then followed. All in good fun, of course. Zeltrons adored beauty in all its forms and many of her kin would agree that her companion was a living, breathing piece of art. That gorgeous azure skin would cause a frenzy on Zeltros, no doubt about that, and that infectious smile!

Appearance aside, the thing Irisa enjoyed most was Zephyr’s aura. They were totally a thing and all it took was a good, long look for Irisa to read a person. The tiefling’s aura was like a constant ripple, undulating in freedom. If only she had the time, Irisa would spend hours drinking it in.

The compliments, however? Nah, she ate those up and left no crumbs. “Ya sweet talking me, Zeze? Flattery like that will get you everywhere.” Fluttering those spinel eyes ever so purposefully, the hybrid then tittered as she pinched at Zephyr’s cheek.

They made quite a colourful pair. When the server came to deliver the last of the food, he couldn’t resist taking a second glance. Poor thing nearly tripped over himself because he wasn’t watching where he was going.

Chuckling, Irisa clinked her drink against Zephyr’s. “I appreciate it though, you coming out ‘ere to meet.” With a cursory glance about the diner, she then continued, “I’ve been working on somethin’. Could call it a personal project, I guess. I don’t know about you, but I like keeping my ear to the ground. Running in different circles means I can see more of the bigger picture, if you catch my drift.”

With that being said, Irisa pushed aside her unfinished food and slid a datapad across the table to Zephyr. Multiple files were open, each one detailing a missing person. Different species of aliens, of all ages and backgrounds stared back at him from the holographic images.

Irisa leaned in, her voice dropping to something a little more subtle. “I need a fresh set of eyes to look in on this. Maybe it’s nothing but…does anything jump out at you? Just shoot, first thing that comes to mind.”
 

Zephyr Dadoni

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Zephyr chuckled a bit when Ece used the nickname that she gave to him. Rather than disliking it, the Tiefling thought that it was cute. No one ever called him with a petty name that was affectionate. The nicknames that he received in the past were always related to his position as a slave.

The Tiefling didn’t mind having his cheeks pinched, knowing that this was a normal part of their interactions. “I only hope that it’ll bring me good things. Such as more chances of working with you.” he smiled, while winking at her. Ece was a pleasant company, it was fun to work with her.

He happily accepted the drink that was offered to him, clinking his glass against Ece’s. With that last exchange, they went to serious mode. Zephyr listened to the Zeltron’s explanation of her ‘personal project’, while occasionally sipping from his drink. He carefully read the information that was being shown to him, trying to understand the situation that they were going to deal with.

There are no humans among them.” Zephyr said, being the first thing that he noticed. Most of the missing people were aliens that didn’t fit the classification of near-human. There were some near-humans in the list, but there were too few. “They also disappeared under similar circumstances, but in different places. Call me paranoid, but I think that there is a connection there.

@HoneyMagpie
 

Irisa Ece

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Irisa nodded, agreeing with Zephyr’s immediate assertions. “All of these people came through this spaceport. Different times and destinations, but this is where they just... vanish.”

Pulling up a map of the spaceport, the hybrid proceeded to circle several hotspots. The areas with the heaviest foot traffic glowed in red on the holographic display whilst the private, luxury docks practically remained untouched; their levels of internal and external security were significantly higher, of course. The vulnerable sections and the people in them were less of a challenge.

That thought alone had made Irisa pause. With a quick glance of the surrounding crowd, she had to choose her next words carefully. “There’ve been rumors of slavers passing through. It’s not their usual M.O., though. Most of the time, they snatch and grab as many people as they can. This feels too targeted. Look.”

She highlighted a list of the most recent victims: a Quarren and several Ugnaughts, known for their skills in mining. Mon Calamari, celebrated across the galaxy for their engineering prowess, were also among the missing. It was enough to make the hybrid’s brows knitted together in frustration. “The spaceport security can’t do nothin’. They have their hands full with smugglers, pirates, and thieves. Maybe if we can dig up some hard evidence, they can call in the Sector Rangers.”

With that being said, Irisa's spiny eyes met Zephyr’s just as the dusky shade of her skin began to deepen. “There’s a witness, down in the garage pits. Sketchy as kriff that place but it’s our only lead. I…don’t think I can’t do this alone, Zeezee. I need help.”

 

Zephyr Dadoni

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Zephyr listened to Ece’s explanation, while his eyes remained in the pictures of the individuals that had disappeared. Since they were disappearing on this space station, the Tiefling was completely certain that it wasn’t a coincidence. He was sure that all of them suffered the same fate.

The mention of slavers being around made Zephyr mood change. His grip on the glass strengthened, risking breaking it, while his tail flicked quickly. His emotions went from fear to hatred in a matter of seconds. However, all these signals disappeared when he released these feelings into the Force.

His connection with the Force was greater than any slaver. They would never be able to take away the peace that he found on it. These were words that he always repeated when these feelings appeared.

Sorry. I got distracted.” Zephyr said, while stretching closer to look better at the information about each of the missing individuals. They were professionals of different areas and could be sold as slaves for different groups. The Ugnaughts, for example, would be sent to work in mines.

Of course I’ll help you, darling!” Zephyr smiled at the Zeltron, before drinking what remained from his drink. His mood went back to normal. “I’ll go there with you.

@HoneyMagpie
 

Irisa Ece

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Sensing the shifting of Zephyr’s emotions, Irisa chose to lay her hand over his. It was a small gesture, one of comfort. For the briefest of moments, it was like she was looking in a mirror. She wouldn’t pry though, nor would she use her empathy to force any kind of correction; the tiefling was his own person and his feelings were very much justified.

“I found a witness, Zeezee. A Lurmen scrapper from the lower levels of the spaceport. He’s kinda kookie. Mostly started talking to me through the garage chutes. Said he’d talk…for a price.”

With that, the hybrid stood up and collected some prepackaged food. The two would then venture down into the bowels of the spaceport - the roughest part, where all junk and scrap, and trash ended up. The dim, flickering lights cast eerie shadows on the piles of discarded machinery and debris. The air itself was thick with the stench of decay and industrial waste. It took some looking but Irisa finally spotted Meelo, the Lurmen, huddled in a corner, his small, fur-covered form almost blending into the surroundings.

“Hey, Meelo.” She needed to holler, the sounds of scrap getting scrapped making it hard to hear “I got ya that food, just like I promised.”

The Lurmen (using a discarded metal rod as a makeshift cane) ambled forward a bit, his head tilting in the direction of her voice. “Oh, it you, Pinkie. Took you long enough. Meelo is starving.” He stopped abruptly, his ears twitching as he heard an extra pair of footsteps. Letting out a high-pitched screech, he cried out and tried to flee “You not alone! You not alone! They follow, they find me again!”

Poor guy was jumpy today. More so than usual. Cursing under her breath, Irisa was quick to explain. “Chill, Meelo. He’s my friend. You think I’m gonna walk around here all on my own? Naaah, man.”

It took a while but slowly the Lurmen settled. Keeping his distance though, he sniffed at the air, inadvertently turning his head more towards the dim lights. Meelo's eyes were milky white and there were scars around his cranium. He may have survived the ordeal but he did not escape unscathed. Irisa could see the pain etched into his features, likely from the strike of an electro whip.

Edging closer, Irisa made sure her footsteps were heavy and audible. She didn’t want to start stressing him out more than he already was. “We made a deal, Meelo. Now I’ve held up my end. It’s your turn. Tell us what you saw...”
Irisa said, handing him the food.

Meelo eagerly grabbed the food, munching noisily as he began to speak in sporadic bursts. He was ravenous. His impairment meant he couldn’t work as well in the scrap heaps. Less credits meant less food. “Meelo was doing what Meelo does. Sorting for scrap in Sector 11. Then there was shouting, a struggle. Meelo looked and saw it was a Mon Calamari. He was trying to get away, but there were too many of them.”

Irisa leaned in, her heart pounding. “Who? Who took him?”

“Zygerrians…” Meelo’s voice trembled as he rubbed his aching face, “Meelo tried to help. Meelo really did, but...”

The hybrid’s expression softened at the admission. He felt guilty, even when he had tried to do something very heroic. Irisa wished she could help ease his suffering but healing was not one of her talents. Even then, the wound was old. now. The lurmen would likely have to bear it for the rest of his life. “It was brave of you, Meelo. Most people would have done fat load of nothin’”

“You come visit again, Pinkie?” Meelo looked up at her, his expression hopeful. “You bring Meelo more food?”

Irisa smiled warmly. “Sure, buddy. You just keep yourself out of trouble.”

With a final reassuring nod, Irisa turned to Zephyr. The gravity of Meelo's testimony was a heavy one. Zygerrians. Seemed obvious then, a race of infamous slavers. But something didn’t seem right. Their tactics were…strange.

“I don’t know much about Zygerrians, but this whole thing stinks of bantha shit.”
 

Zephyr Dadoni

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Feeling Ece’s hand over his helped Zephyr dissipate the negative feelings that he had. The comforting warmth made it easier for him to find back the peace in the Force and focus on the information that he was receiving.

Yeah, this person seems to be a bit strange.” Zephyr said, pondering about the description of the witness. The possibility of it being a trap to attract Ece and kill her before she could discover the truth about the disappearances crossed his mind immediately. Perhaps he was being too paranoid, but strange people hiding behind garage chutes don’t seem much trustworthy in the Knight’s opinion.

Another reason for him to go with Ece.

After Ece collected some prepackaged food, a fact that made the Tiefling look at her with curiosity, Zephyr followed her to the place where the witness was staying. They went deep inside the spaceport, to the dark parts where only those involved with shady business used to stay. The blue-skinned Jedi focused on his surroundings, just in case of an ambush having been set for them.

I’m her friend.” he said, giving support to Ece’s attempt to calm Meelo. When the person walked out of the shadows, Zephyr immediately recognized the marks on the Lurmen’s body. It dragged him back to many years in the past, to a small boy crying with whip marks less intense than these. The master didn’t want to damage the merchandise too much. The same couldn’t be said of the friend of that boy. The screams and burned marks were unnerving and he could still hear and smell them.

Zygerrians.” he said, at the same time that Meelo mentioned the slavers. Zephyr calmed himself again with Force, his mind was focused on the matter in front of them. “I have experience with them.” the Tiefling could say that he had a lot of experience with this species. “They have several methods to pick possible new slaves. Kidnapping is one of them.

@HoneyMagpie
 

Irisa Ece

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Irisa could sense the turmoil brewing within Zephyr, the memories of past horrors flickering like ghosts behind his eyes. She reached out with the Force, feeling the storm of emotions swirling beneath his calm exterior. With a gentle touch, she took his hand and led him into a narrow side alley off the main path of the spaceport’s underground. Here, the dim light was even fainter, and the noise from the busy port above was a distant hum, giving them a rare moment of privacy.

Once they were secluded, Irisa turned to face Zephyr, her spinel eyes filled with empathy. “I’m sorry, Zee,” she said softly, her voice barely above a whisper. “This is the last thing I want. You, in pain...” Her gaze flickered briefly to the broken horn on his head, a silent testament to the suffering he had endured. Given his reaction and his knowledge of the Zygerrians, Irisa could only assume he had been a victim of their cruelty as well. To be marked in such a way, by the people who delighted in torment - Irisa could relate. She was tempted to reach out and touch the disfigurement but then decided against it. Zeltrons were tactile people, but not everyone found comfort in touch.

Continuing, Irisa’s tone was earnest. “I can handle it from here if you need to take a step back. Now that I know who we’re dealing with…”

The silence stretched between them, filled with unspoken understanding. Irisa’s mind raced with thoughts of the Zygerrians. They were notorious slavers, their presence usually heralded by whispers and warnings. If they were operating in the spaceport, there should have been more gossip, more signs of their activity. How were they escaping notice? How were they luring their victims into traps without drawing attention?
 
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Zephyr Dadoni

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Zephyr was still recovering from the throwback to his past that he barely noticed that Ece was guiding him to a side alley. The Tiefling only processed what had happened when the sounds of the spaceport sounded faintly in the distance. He needed to meditate more. If something like that happened during a fight, he would be in trouble.

He listened to Ece’s words, surprised with how easily she seemed to have figured his internal struggle. The Zeltron was very perceptive, or perhaps Zephyr was being too obvious. Both could also be a possibility. He noticed how her eyes briefly looked at the top of his head. It was obvious that she was making assumptions about his broken horn and his reaction to the Zygerrians.

I’m totally fine, darling.” he said, smiling at the Zeltron. “Only some bad memories are returning today, but I have them under control.” mostly in control, he should have added. Zephyr was still spacing out. The Tiefling would not allow it to happen anymore and would focus on the mission.

Yes, he would do that.

NO!” he screamed, the thought of leaving Ece to deal with Zygerrians alone made him fear for her safety. Even if she was a trained Jedi, the slavers were vicious and had fought the Order for centuries. They knew how to deal with Force users. “I’ll go with you. I don’t want you to deal with them alone, it’s dangerous. Besides, I can't run from my past forever.” he admited, even if he had yet to tell her the details.

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Irisa Ece

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Irisa jumped slightly at the volume of Zephyr’s shout, her heart momentarily pounding. She could see the intensity in his eyes, the raw emotion that threatened to spill over. With a gentle touch, she took his hand and moved it to her cheek, allowing his thumb to caress the intricate tattoos that adorned her fuchsia skin.

“I won’t pretend to understand what it is you went through cos it damn well wouldn’t do you any justice,” she said softly, her voice filled with feeling. “But I know what it is like, Zee, to be marked by another. For someone to try to own you. The more you try to hold on to yourself, the more they just rip away.”

She held his gaze, letting the sincerity of her words sink in, as well as her own pain. “I get it, these are just words, but remember, yeah? The past might have shaped us, but it shouldn’t - it doesn’t define who we are now.”

Irisa looked like she had more to say on the topic but then decided against it. It wasn’t the time, nor the place. A copious amount of alcohol would also be needed. Hoping to lighten the mood, the hybrid abruptly stuck out her tongue, revealing a small, gleaming piercing. She blew a raspberry at Zephyr just for the giggles. “Come on, my one true blue. Meelo said something about Sector 11. Let’s start there. In the meantime, you can fill me in on these Zygerrians ‘cause I dunno nothin’. What are their tactics? And how have they managed to get away with it for this long?”

As they began to make their way through the dimly lit corridors of the spaceport’s underbelly, Irisa kept her senses on high alert. The environment grew grittier with each step, the air heavy with the smell of oil and rust. As the corridors began to twist and turn, the shadows deepened further. Every so often, Irisa would glance back, ensuring Zephyr was still very much sticking close.
 
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Zephyr Dadoni

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Zephyr immediately regretted having screamed when he saw Ece jump. It wasn’t his intention to scare her, but he couldn’t let her think to go deal with the Zygerrians alone, without any knowledge about them. They were too dangerous and shrewd, especially when dealing with Jedi. The grudge that they had with the Order went back many centuries and they had learned to deal with the Light Siders.

He was going to apologize, but his voice died out when he felt Ece take his hand and hold it closer to her cheek. The skin was so warm, very much like his. The contrast between her pink and his blue was pretty. Eventually, the proximity made the color of his cheeks get a bit darker.

Thank you for being so understanding.” he said, while wondering how she knows how it was to have someone that owned you. The first thing that crossed his mind was the possibility that she could have been a slave like him. Perhaps she hid her scars like him. In his case, the Tiefling had tattoos made for this purpose.

And because he thought that they made him look gorgeous.

Well, the first thing that you need to know is that they are very smart.” Zephyr said, while they walked through the spaceport’s underbelly. Even after laughing a bit with her nearly childish way of trying to lighten his mood, his senses remained in alert. Just in case that someone decided to attack them.

They have ways of finding new slaves, usually using deception to take them. I know that they use fake job offers in the holonet as a lure to attract professionals that will be sold in Zygerria.” he felt nothing but disgust when talking about his homeworld. “They also know how to deal with Jedi. We fought wars against their empire centuries ago and had been a thorn against their operations ever since. They learned how to defend themselves.

By the way, what does true blue mean?” he asked suddenly, feeling curious to know the meaning behind her words.

@HoneyMagpie
 

Irisa Ece

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Irisa nodded along as Zephyr shared his valuable intel, absorbing every detail. She was surprised by his words, not fully realising the extent of the threat. Only a select few could go toe to toe with a Jedi—Sith and Mandalorians, primarily. If Zephyr considered Zygerrians with the same level of caution, then she ought to as well. She never really heard of Zeltrons getting targeted by slavers but then again, their planet was safely situated in the Inner Rim.

“Ya know, the color blue is pretty rare. Think about Rutians - those blue skinned Twi’Leks. They’re real beautiful.” Irisa sighed lovingly, just thinking about some of her encounters with such people. Not even romantic ones, just truly beguiling people and their aesthetics. “So, for it to pop up in a Zeltron? It’s special. Blue lips, blue hair, blue eyes—we call that person a ‘true blue’. Someone who’s unique. Heck, if I dragged you to Zeltros, the locals would probably throw a festival.”

Arching her brows enticingly, the hybrid interlinked her arm with Zephyr’s. To an on looker, they might look like any other couple. They reached Sector 11, a grimy, bustling area filled with a few scattered pop-up trading stands. People here were trying to make a living by selling whatever wares they could scavenge or craft. Were they here by choice, or by mere circumstance? To blend in, Irisa drew her hood and started casually looking at what was on offer, her eyes constantly scanning the surroundings. The few people passing by paid them little attention, which was exactly what she wanted.

There was no point asking anyone any questions; in a place like that, it was probably one of the worst things you could do because it drew unnecessary attention. Meelo had been different—that trust had been earned (through the bribery of food).

Always looking to improve her scout droid, Irisa focused on mechanical parts. She got into an aggressive haggling match with one of the vendors, their voices rising and falling in heated debate. But that was to be expected. Never pay the asking price unless you wanted to look like a chump. As she argued, she kept glancing around, looking for any signs of unusual activity. Finally, after a heat exchanged, she managed to secure a few parts for her droid at a reasonable price. She gave the vendor a triumphant smile and sauntered off with her ill gotten gains.

But just as she was about to show Zephyr, she stopped dead in her tracks. There was a symbol painted on one of the grimey walls. It was old, weathered and worn but just seeing it made the hybrid’s heart constrict. It was familiar to her, painfully so. Stupidly, she moved forward, her steps abrupt and clumsy - she didn’t even notice the figure garbed in robes. Colliding with them, Irisa was more than willing to apologise. It was her fault, after all, she wasn’t paying much attention. But the Guardian of the Whills grabbed at her, giving her shoulder such a jostle, it made her hood slip.

“Hey, what the kriff is your problem?!” Bearing her teeth, the hybrid smacked at the Guardian’s hand and broke free. She then proceeded to glare at them, in their get up. The three of them were covered head to toe, like tucked raiders. Could they even understand her, speaking in galactic basic? Normally, Irisa wouldn’t be so hostile but given their current location, it was best to put up a front.

It was tense, for a moment, but finally one of the trio - the leader, perhaps? - motioned for their spiritual brother to move along. Wherever they needed to be, it wasn’t there. So the guardians resumed their procession, walking in tandem. Save for one, he was still glancing over his shoulder at Irisa, likely glaring.

With a curse under her breath, Irisa lifted her hood once more, a pout very much visible. “Geez, I thought those monks were meant to be peaceful…”

 
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Zephyr Dadoni

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Zephyr listened to Ece’s explanation of the true blue compliment. It made sense that a Zeltron would think that the skin color blue was rare, since that species only had individuals with skin tones that ranged from pink to crimson. “Among Tieflings, blue is pretty common. I think that the rarest color is green.” he didn’t have much experience with his species, but the Jedi remembered having heard from the Zygerrians that a green Tiefling could be sold by a lot of credits.

But, I would like to have a party in my honor. We should go to Zeltros soon!” he smiled, deciding to join the playfulness of the moment. He even linked his arm with Ece’s, something that he thought was nice. “I never visited the planet, but I heard that they had the best parties. I would love to see it.” the Tiefling loved to dance and drink, any opportunity that he had to do it was welcome.

They continued walking through the spaceport, following Meelo’s tip toward Sector 11. The two Jedi passed near a more bustling area, with some trading stands. Like Ece, by this point he had also pulled his hood up. Many other people that were walking around were also hiding their faces, other two doing the same would not attract attention.

While Ece bargained with a vendor for a best price in some droid pieces, Zephyr decided to give a look in some stands. Most were parts of ships and droids, nothing that interested the Tiefling that much. The pieces of cloth that were being sold by a human, however, were more interesting. He could sew a nice outfit with it.

The Tiefling was distracted looking at the clothes that he didn’t notice Ece’s mood change, but he felt a slight conflict coming from her through the Force. He turned right on time to see a Guardian of the Whills holding her arm. From his position, he was able to catch a glimpse of the leading monk’s face and it left him concerned.

After they walked away, Zephyr turned to Ece. “Are you fine?” he studied, feeling relieved when finding nothing wrong. “I don’t know if they are real monks. The one that was leading the group is a Zygerrian.” he revealed. It could be prejudice from his part, perhaps a Zygerrian found peace in the Force. However, it was still worthy of doing an investigation, only to exclude them. “We should go after them.

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Irisa Ece

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Irisa perked at Zephyr’s assertion, spinning round to try and catch a another glimpse of the retreating Guardians. She had been so focused on butting heads with the first monk that she hadn’t really gotten a good look at the leader. But she trusted Zephyr. His instincts were rarely wrong.

“Right. We’ll follow, but let’s keep our distance” Together, they moved through the crowd, keeping sight of the robed figures. Before leaving, Irisa took one last look at the wall that had first grabbed her attention. It was covered in a chaotic array of graffiti tags, making it difficult to discern which one had initially caught her eye. Whatever it was, she decided to abandon it and focus instead on trailing their target.

“Remember, we’re gathering evidence,” she cautioned, her tone lowered to that of a whisper. “We gotta do this right if we want to get the Sector Rangers to follow the rest of the trail. These guys could be part of a larger network. Taking these sleemos down won’t do a whole lot of good if there’s more in the circuit.”

As they shadowed the monks, the hybrid’s mind raced with possibilities. Were all of the monks in on this, or was it all part and parcel of the deception? If the monks were in actuality slavers then it was a sick and clever ruse, using religion as a facade to ensnare people. The thought alone made her skin crawl.

Gradually, the surroundings grew more secluded, the bustling noise of the marketplace fading into the distance. The alleys became narrower, the shadows deeper. The Jedi would soon be spotted if they kept following the monks out in the open. It could spook them, causing them to run. In the dark and dingy maze-like underground, they’d be as good as gone.

They needed a plan. One did come to mind but she knew Zephyr wouldn’t like it. “I’ll push on and follow them. The Force will cloak me. You follow my tracking beacon, just in case. If they stop, we can observe and record.”

She knew the tiefling would object but seemed like good enough idea to her. Placing the tracker into Zephyr’s grip, she closed her eyes and pictured a mist. It would engulf her, blurring her in with that of her surroundings. Now, it wasn’t perfect. With each step, the visual around Irisa would distort and change; in the poor lighting of the underground however, it might not matter as much. It could be easily waved off as a trick of the light or some funk fumes mixing in with the atmosphere. Moving with silent, deliberate steps, the hybrid quickly gained some ground on the monks.

They were easy enough to spot, though trouble soon reared its head. They were splitting up. One continued on walking, heading down towards what seemed like a stationary cruiser. The two others broke away and began veering elsewhere.

Kriff…which way do I go? Who should I follow? Zephyr said the leader was the Zyg. If anyone knew anything, it was likely him. The other two could just be ignorant of it all. Worst case scenario, they were in on it but they wouldn’t act without directions from the boss.

With her mind made up, Irisa pushed forward and followed the leader of the ‘monks’ closer towards the awaiting ship.
 

Zephyr Dadoni

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Alright.” Zephyr said, nodding his head in agreement. The most important rule of trying to follow someone, never allow them to notice that they were being followed. Their hoods would help a bit with that, but the Tiefling would move a bit more carefully to maintain a low profile.

Honestly, he disliked maintaining low profiles. He had to disappear in the background constantly when he was a kid, now he wanted to be noticed. However, the Tiefling would do that for this mission. Once finished, Zephyr would make the most extravagant outfit for himself to wear.

Before they walked away, Zephyr noticed that Ece was staring at something. Curious, he followed her gaze and saw a strange mark at the wall. He raised an eye, wondering what it could mean. Whatever it was, had some effect over the Zeltron. The Tiefling could feel the change in the Force around her. When they had free time, he would ask her about it.

They followed the monks through the marketplace, using the crowd to hide their movements. It was a relief that the place was crowded, because their targets would have noticed them otherwise. Unfortunately, soon the number of people walking around started to diminish and the alleys were becoming a maze.

The Tiefling wasn’t very welcoming of Ece’s idea of going ahead alone, but given the circumstances and the fact that the monks could escape by spotting them, Zephyr wasn’t going to argue about it. Besides, he was pretty sure that it would be impossible to make her change her mind.

Okay, I'll stay behind.” Zephyr said, his voice not sounding happy. He also knows how to use the Force to cloak himself, they could still go together. “Be careful, the Zygerrians have good hearing. Even with the Force, they can hear your steps.

He watched Ece walking away, before grabbing his tracking device. Ece’s beacon was there and Zephy went after it, but first used the Force to cloak himself. Hopefully the Zeltron would not get in trouble until he found her.

@HoneyMagpie
 

Irisa Ece

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Irisa moved with painstaking precision, her steps mirroring those of the Zygerrian ahead. Zephyr’s words about their keen hearing echoed in her mind, making her acutely aware of every sound her boots made on the hard ground. She couldn’t afford to make a mistake now. The Zygerrian stepped onto the landing platform of a ship and disappeared into the lower deck. Irisa knew better than to follow blindly onto enemy turf; this wasn’t some holo-flick cliché.

Her attention shifted to the array of crates scattered around the platform. Each one bore the marks of countless voyages through space, a silent testament to their history. Opening her satchel, she retrieved her small seeker droid. “Time to work, Scout. Record this for me. And the ship.”

With a steady hand, she began rifling through the crates. Most of them contained mundane supplies, making her doubt their lead. Perhaps they had misjudged the Zygerrian. But then, she found a crate that stood out, fortified with a heavy-duty lock. The small air holes on its sides hinted at something alive inside. Peering through one of the gaps, Irisa’s heart sank at the sight of an unconscious Cathar lying prone within, a slave collar tightly fastened around their neck.

Determined, she motioned for her droid to get in close, directing it to capture everything. “Hey. Hey, wake up. I’m here to help,” she whispered urgently, glancing around to ensure they were still alone. The Cathar remained unresponsive, heavily sedated.

A sudden movement caught her eye—a small, round canister rolling toward her. Instinctively, Irisa dove away, pushing her droid between some crates for protection. Expecting an explosion, she braced herself, only to be blinded by a flash grenade. The intense light obliterated her vision, breaking her concentration and causing her Force cloak to slip. The menacing hum of an electro whip igniting filled the air, and she tumbled aside just in time to avoid its strike.

Her vision was a blinding white, and she struggled to regain her bearings. She needed to buy time. She didn’t know how far away Zephyr was. Trying to get her adversary to talk, knowing her droid was nearby recording, she shouted, “I fragging knew it! You’re the one behind all the disappearances, aren’t you?! Karking slaver!”

He didn’t answer, likely not wanting to give away his position. Standing, Irisa willed her sight to return, but it was slow and frustrating. Strikes from the electro whip came from each side, not directly hitting her, but forcing her to inch backward. She was being herded somewhere.

“You’ve ruinned people’s lives! And for what?” she demanded, her voice steady despite the frustration gnawing at her. She didn’t want to use her lightsabers just yet.

A snigger echoed through the air, followed by the Zygerrian’s voice. “Profit, little skug. Lots and lots of profit.”

“Profit at the expense of innocent lives? How can you live with yourself?” The Zygerrian’s voice grew closer. She could hear it. More time. Irisa needed more time. “You’re not gonna get away with this!”

The Zygerrian laughed coldly. “And who’s going to stop me? You? Ha! Don’t make me laugh.” Taking another step forward, he raised his whip once more preparing another strike. “Let’s see how well you handle pain, glitz” he sneered.

In that moment, Irisa’s sight fully returned, and she met his gaze with an unwavering fierceness. “Bring it on,” she challenged.

The Zygerrian lunged, but Irisa was ready. She dodged the whip, the crackling energy narrowly missing her. Every strike from the slaver was met with precise and calculated dodges from Irisa, her movements fluid and controlled. She was no stranger to this sort of weapon. When fighting against someone using a whip, it's more effective to watch the hand holding the whip. The movement of the hand give an early indication as to where and how the whip will be directed; all Irisa had to do was anticipate the attack and react to the strike.

With each dodge, she could feel Zephyr getting closer. She just needed to hold on a little longer, to keep the Zygerrian occupied until they could bring him down together. She could sense the Zygerrian’s frustration growing as he realized she wasn’t as easy a target as he had hoped.

The battle of attrition abruptly ended when Irisa felt her foot step onto the lip of the ship’s boarding ramp. He was forcing her towards the ship. Not good. Before she could think to evade, a strong bolt of electricity shot through her, generated from the floor of the ramp. The Zygerrian must have activated it remotely, a special measure to prevent runaways on his ship. A scream escaped Irisa’s lip, and when the volts finally waned, she fell back, her body convulsing from the shock. She was still conscious, though barely. Most of her equipment had short-circuited, including her tracker and comlink. How far away was Zephyr? She didn’t know. All that mattered though was keeping the Zygerrian’s attention on her.

Struggling to sit up, Irisa’s body was heavy with numbness. Before she move another muscle, she was swiftly kicked back down with a heavy boot planted into her sternum, keeping her pinned. “Who told you about my budding enterprise, schutta? Tell me!” the Zygerrian demanded.

The hybrid, in her defiance, gave a wheezing chuckle. “Your Hutt of a mother.”

The Zygerrian’s face twisted in rage and another bolt of electricity coursed through her body. He had activated it out of spite, keeping Irisa pinned against the ramp with his insulated foot. Pain shot through her but she clung to consciousness. She could endure this. She had before.

 
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Zephyr Dadoni

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Under the Force cloak, Zephyr followed Ece’s beacon signal through the labyrinthic alleys that filled the underlevels of this spaceport. He moved cautiously because the Zygerrians could still be around. You never knew if these slavers were being extra paranoid and left guards behind to certify if they weren’t being followed.

Ece’s signal continued strong and the Tiefling soon arrived on the ship. It looked like any other frigate and no one would expect that a bunch of fake monks were using it to transport slaves. It was a typical strategy deployed by Zygerrians that allowed them to travel to places without being noticed.

Surprisingly, there was no one guarding the entrance. This allowed Zephyr to slip inside the ship without any problem. Perhaps the Zygerrians, the species that had filled his childhood nightmares, weren’t so smart. A small smile appeared on his lips when he thought about it. They weren’t so scared anymore.

However, his smile disappeared when Ece’s signal vanished. Zephyr immediately went into alert mode, already thinking that she had been captured. What if the worst happened and she was killed? Taking a deep breath, he subdued these feelings and advanced toward the last position of the signal.

To be sure that she was still alive, Zephyr focused on her presence in the Force. Zephyr recognized Ece as a sphere of warm pink energy floating on the ocean of the Force. Occasionally, reddish tints would appear, probably due to that sickly yellow mass that was standing next to it. This sick thing flashed in rage while lunging against the pink presence.

He arrived right on time to see a Zygerrian attacking Ece with a energy whip. Zephyr obviously felt mad with this fact, he hates saying a slaver hurting someone, especially a friend. However, he couldn’t allow such feelings to take control of his actions. He had to stay calm and focus on the Light Side of the Force.

While the Zygerrian was distracted, Zephyr dropped the Force cloak and used his abilities to push the slaver away from Ece. The Tiefling would send him flying against a nearby, with him hitting his head and collapsing shortly after. “Are you fine?” he asked, while helping Ece.

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