Level 1313 was, honestly, not as bad as people say. It was grimy, sure. The droids that kept every surface on the upper levels polished and free of trash ventured down here once a century at most and the air was thick with exhaust, mostly fallen from the skyways far above. But the people were friendly. In the short walk over from the hanger, Teikhos had been solicited by partially clothed beings of multiple species, felt up by would-be pickpockets, and had an amusing conversation with a child that wanted to sell him a bridge. It wasn’t wholesome, but it was comfortable, especially compared to Arx and the other war zones he so often found himself in.
Teikhos wasn’t surprised by the extra attention. 1313 wasn’t the kind of neighborhood that saw many Zeltrons, much less foppish ones in capes, to say nothing of Jedi openly displaying a lightsaber. His colleagues kept telling him to be more subtle but to Teikhos the Jedi represented hope—depriving people of that just to spare himself a few minutes of street harassment seemed like an unworthy trade.
Someone had tipped the Sentinel Network off to a junk shop down here owned by a self-proclaimed bigshot calling himself Jimbi Scrabbles. Jimbi traded in all manner of things scavenged or stolen from the upper levels, mostly operating as a speeder chop shop. He popped up on SeNet’s scanners when he started selling off alleged artifacts from the old Jedi Temple. Most of the time, these guys were just peddling junk, but the Council thought it was worth sending someone to check.
Scrabbles' shop came into view as Teikhos rounded a corner. It was centered on a large hangar but had expanded haphazardly into neighboring spaces as the business grew. It looked like they were closed—at least that was Teikhos' guess as to why the front door had been cut out of its frame, apparently by a lightsaber.
Yeah, I'm the one who needs to be more subtle, Teikhos grumbled to himself. I guess word travels fast. Lightsaber in hand, he stepped over the threshold.
The lights were out. The only illumination was the occasional sparking husk of a security droid, the blue glow of Teikhos' lightsaber, and a similar green glow from deeper into the facility. Scrabbles had purchased a few B-1 combat droids. They were probably more than enough to shoo away difficult customers or the gangs that frequented this area, but they did little to deter a trained Force user. The things had probably not even slowed him down.
The Jedi picked his way through the stacks of speeder parts and power converters, towards the glow and a desperate voice. Coming closer, he saw a figure in black and gray towering over the sweaty, huffing man he had backed into a corner. They were behind what was probably the main counter where Jimbi sat, spending his hours eyeballing security monitors and watching holonovellas while customers wandered through the scrap. Teikhos could only assume the shorter, wider Human was Jimbi Scrabbles. The tall, hooded being holding an emerald lightsaber didn't seem the junk peddler type.
Teikhos paused for half a second, trying to think of something clever to say. The hooded figure didn't give him the chance. Maybe it was the blue glow or the hum of the lightsaber, or maybe just the Force, but the man noticed the Jedi behind him. He twisted, his off hand lashing out towards Teikhos as neon arcs of lightning bit out at the Zeltron. The lightning flared for a moment then left the room pitch black except for the twin plasma blades.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust back to the dim lighting, but Appius saw the Jedi standing unharmed.
“Does that usually work?” Teikhos asked casually, flicking his lightsaber over in a flourish. Clever comment achieved, he thought.
“Often enough,” Appius answered. With a wave of his free hand he seized Scrabbles with the Force and hurled him across the room and into an open cabinet. With another flick of the wrist, the door closed and muffled the man's screams. “This one is mine, Jedi.”
“I appreciate your flare for the dramatic, Mister...?” Teikhos let the question hang in the air for a moment, but his opponent didn't seem to feel the need to identify himself. “Well, regardless, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave now. Whatever Jedi artifacts dear Jimbi has are staying with the Jedi.”
The Human's face twisted in confusion for a moment. “I don't care about Jedi garbage,” he spat. “I'm here for that sack of Hutt shab in the cabinet.”
"I don't suppose you have a warrant?"
Appius smirked within the shadowy depths of his hood. His off hand slipped under his cloak and emerged a heartbeat later, a bounty tracking fob dangling casually from one finger. “Jimbi doesn't just deal in speeder parts. His real business is a little more exotic. Women, sometimes children.” The Human nodded his head to one side, indicating the closed door behind the counter. “He's got an entire studio down there, if you don't believe me. But he got his paws on the wrong little girl a few weeks back.” With a flick of his wrist, the fob disappeared back under his cloak. “My client was very specific about which parts I'm supposed to bring back.”
“Oh,” Teikhos replied. He couldn't help a disgusted glance at the cabinet. The banging and muffled screams were now significantly less compelling. “Well, I can't say I'm big on murder, either. How about we take him to the real authorities? Odan-Urr will match the bounty.”
Appius reached up with his free hand, letting his lightsaber, still active, dangle down to one side. He pulled off his hood, revealing a pale face and the distorted eyes of one who wallowed in the Dark Side. He made a show of cracking his neck.
“After careful consideration…” he began, but abruptly his free hand jerked out and then pulled back.
Teikhos ducked and brought his weapon up, angled across his body. The Force was his ally, and no amount of temporal trickery could deceive it. With the gesture, Appius ripped a swoop chassis from its resting place and hurled it at Teikhos' head. As the Zeltron ducked underneath it, the Mandalorian followed up with another lightning blast that once again bit harmlessly into the Jedi's saber.
Amid the crash of the swoop into the wall, Teikhos lunged forward, the tip of his blade poised to take off his opponent's fingers. But Appius, too, had the Force on his side, and with ample warning he was able to shuffle back out of reach.
Appius paused for a heartbeat, quietly reevaluating the mincing laandur. The Zeltron was nimble, probably counting on Appius to exhaust himself on Force-based attacks—but too hesitant to take this opportunity to press forward.
With a deep breath, Appius drew on the pulsing darkness within himself and forced strength into his limbs, charging forward with an overhead slash so violent and powerful that Teikhos didn't even try to block it. The Zeltron danced to one side, slashing over Appius' guard. But drawing on the Force, Appius’ arms blurred up to intercept the strike and riposte, just barely missing the Jedi.
“Enough,” the Jedi said. Appius felt something like nausea or dizziness but not either. He struggled to call on the Force to empower himself, but the bonfire within him now burned like a candle, weak and fleeting.
“I recognize you, now that I can see you clearly,” Teikhos continued. “Appius Wight, I'm getting tired of toying with you. We're going to get you the help you need, whether you want it or not.”
Appius huffed. The adrenaline was flowing through him; no sorcery could take that—or his hate—from him. And he had plenty of hate for the Zeltron standing stone still before him. Roaring like a wounded rancor, the Mandalorian charged forward, an emerald blade in either hand now.