Brenum had told the Mandalorian spaceport authorities that they were here on business with several offers. Of course, he omitted to mention they were Jedi. To go about more unnoticed once they’d docked, they had dressed into more simple and casual clothes; no obvious robes labelling them as Jedi, though a small jacket hid the presence of their lightsabers.
Searching with the Force was no use here on Mandalore, many used ysalamiri in these dangerous and treacherous times, and many places held many of them, so trying to detect Knarf would be impossible, so they would have to search the old fashioned way: by foot.
They walked about, heads low, getting unwanted sneers of unwelcome. They entered a tavern, only to be kicked out again by a brawl that was already going on and had nothing to do with any of them. A large Tradoshan waved his baton about as other patrons were being pushed or thrown out if they tried to meddle in the fight that did not concern them, yet which seemed to include the whole lot of patrons present. So the three Jedi continued across a field.
‘What does Knarf’s armour look like?’ asked Brenum.
‘I forget. I had more important things to worry about at the time than its details… like when was I going to see him again.’ She paused. She had replied more harshly than she had wanted to. She softened her voice. ‘It has a jetpack.’
‘Great, that’s precise,’ replied Brenum, though Shadie could tell he was purposely exaggerating, to let her know no offence had been taken. ‘What about the colour?’
‘Well Talyc’s is brown and purple.’
‘That narrows it all down…’
‘Stop being so exaggeratingly…’ said Trylia, as they entered a tapcaf. She let her sentence trail off.
It grew quiet as they entered, conversations ceasing and turning into hushed tones and whispers of suspicion as heads turned their way. A green Twi’lek leaned towards a red Twi’lek as they stared at them and began speaking in hushed tones.
‘Something tells me we’re not going to be welcomed here either,’ whispered Brenum.
‘And you’re absolutely right,’ replied a Mandalorian, standing up and walking towards them. He wore a charcoal and silver armour. He inclined his head. ‘Jedi are most unwanted guests on Mandalore. Always cause so much trouble.’ The three of them stirred. The Mandalorian laughed. ‘Don’t think you can fool me, Jedi. I have hunted and killed your kind before. I can smell you from light years away. Why have you come to Mandalore?’
‘We seek a man who goes by the name of Bes’laar,’ said Shadie.
‘Never heard of him,’ replied the Mandalorian.
‘He hangs about with Talyc.’
‘No,’ he said flatly, dryly, ‘doesn’t ring a bell.’ He abruptly changed the subject. ‘Tell me, Jedi, you honour your codes, no?’ Shadie nodded. ‘Well, we honour ours. You are on Mandalorian grounds, you shall honour our codes.’
‘And that is?’
‘A melee! Not against me, of course, the fight would be too unfair.’ This drew laughter from the ”audience”. ‘But against one of my men. No Force powers allowed, and to ensure that…’
He looked at the Mando behind the counter and nodded. Moments later, several ysalamiri were placed around the tapcaf. Shadie felt the Force leave her and heard Trylia gasp as though for air.
‘I don’t trust Jedi to not cheat, you see,’ continued the Mandalorian. ‘Oh, and no lightsabers either.’
Shadie scowled, but did not object. Finding Knarf was her number one priority now, whatever it took. She unclipped her lightsaber from her utility belt and handed it over to Trylia. The Mandalorian, who acted like the leader of this tapcaf, handed her his vibrosword.
‘You fight to disarm. If you win, we help you find your friend. If you lose, you’re on your own.’ Shadie nodded. ‘Do I have any volunteers?’
Several armoured Mandalorians stood and stepped forward. Shadie scanned the room with her eyes, trying to see if she could recognise any of them. There was one with green armour, one with blue and silver, one with blue and black and who clearly looked like he wasn’t human under that armour, one with black and red armour, another with yellow and brown with green, one wore all white, another with purple and red, one with blue and charcoal, but none with purple and brown. And all who stood there wore no jetpacks.
The Mandalorian leader, looked at the Mandos waiting to melee with Shadie. He pointed at one with blue and charcoal armour.
‘You, show this Jedi how the Mando fight.’
‘With pleasure!’ The Mando let his ”r” trail for a while. It was unpleasantly eerie, especially through the helmet’s speaker, coming out tinnier than anything else.
He set aside his repeater rifle and took a stance with his vibroblade. Shadie took a two handed grip on the vibrosword she held. How could she predict this Mandalorian’s moves if she could not channel the Force? Granted her weapon was slightly longer, but she had lost her most dependable weapon, the Force. She would have to rely on skill alone.