"Where you thinking you are going?"
Vaaro's Basic wasn't very good, but his words were clear enough. Darrus had been hoping everyone was asleep. It was nearly noon; the sky was blisteringly bright and both the Rodian and Maya were typically as unconscious as he usually was at this time of day. He turned to look into the accusing, large black eyes of the determined, small green man.
"I can't put you all at risk for what I need to do alone."
Vaaro nodded. "I will no go. They would no like me in any case and I no like being shot. But you no leave Maya." His arms were crossed, long fingers set against his biceps in a determined pose. This was one ex-commando in no mood to be denied.
Still, Jeht had to try. Pulling his desert robe around him tighter, he looked down and his tone, already a whisper, softened even more. "I don't want Maya getting hurt. These people..."
The Rodian scoffed. "These people mean nothing to her. You go without her, you hurt her worse than they ever could." Then he drew his blaster and pointed it at Darrus, something that made the Jedi's eyes widen. "And if you hurt her, I hurt you. You are understanding?"
Darrus leaned against the door frame. He could have his lightsaber off his belt and ignited before the green-skinned gunner could pull the trigger. But this wasn't really an attack. It wasn't even a threat. It was a statement. There was no hostility here. Only fact. And the fact was something Darrus couldn't deny.
"She's very sweet, Vaaro, but these aren't the kind of people you can be sweet with. I don't think she can handle what might happen once I get involved with the Scarlet Wake."
Vaaro did not lower his gun. "Then you no have any idea who she is. You know nothing, dark eyes. She handle herself better than you think. You should give more credit to her." The Rodian snorted, something Darrus wasn't aware that race could even do. "She was soldier like me. She knows these people. She will not go wrong."
Darrus closed his eyes. Vaaro was right; he wasn't giving her enough credit. He didn't know how well she'd do under pressure. It was wrong of him to assume that because she wasn't a Jedi or one of his men, she couldn't take care of herself. "I'm sorry, Vaaro. You are right."
"Damn right I am right." Then, as Darrus started to chuckle at the response, "But you going to get Maya killed. And you too."
He blinked. "What? What do you mean?"
Vaaro walked over, finally putting his blaster away, and pointed to Jeht's belt. "Your weapon; it make you look Jedi. Many people have long memory; you look Jedi and you will get killed. She will get killed too and then I will have to come kill you again."
Darrus sighed again; was he really as naive as Vaaro made him sound? Perhaps what Millinae had said so many years ago was actually true. Perhaps there really was no subtlety in his soul.
Still, he was not going to part with his lightsaber. "I could hide it, but I won't give it up. It's a part of me now."
Vaaro nodded and tapped his blaster again. "I know feeling." He looked around the room, his eyes settling on the passage leading down into the secret room. It was closed now but the Rodian commando obviously knew it was there. "I also have idea."
From the way Vaaro rifled through the storage shelves after taking Darrus down into the hidden basement, he'd obviously been down there at least once. While Darrus had been outside practicing, the Rodian had apparently been down here casing the place. Any other time, Jeht might have been upset about such a thing. Right now, he was just grateful for the help.
Vaaro found what he was looking for - a long, deep metal box with a locking lid. With two small tools, the Rodian popped its catch in less than a minute. "Old Republic lock. Military grade. Too easy."
Inside, Darrus could see something very familiar, something he;d never expected to see again. "That's battle armor. Jedi battle armor."
Vaaro nodded and starting pulling pieces of it out. "This is not so known. I found yesterday, but it no fit me. I think it fit you good. You can no be Jedi right now, but I think we can make you something better. Something that no get you or Maya killed for being stupid."
Darrus narrowed his eyes, but the insult fit. He was being stupid. If he was going to survive in this world after the Clone Wars, after the fall of the Jedi, he needed to get a lot smarter. Gone were the days when he could wear his robes and his title proudly. This was a different time, a different galaxy altogether. One he didn't quite know his place in yet...
"We will have to get you papers done, but I already start that. You should already be able to sign up and get your number."
Now he was confused again. As they'd been talking, Vaaro had taken the box outside and he'd followed. The never-still Rodian was already laying out a paint cloth and arranging armor pieces on it. The spray atomizer was charging and a fresh can of black pearl paint had been loaded. It was the same color that Vaaro had used on his ARC-170; the paint looked like a metallic night's sky. Beautiful to be sure, but this was all going by too quickly.
"Wait, what? What number? What are you saying I need to become?"
Vaaro looked at him flatly. "You fight. You fight good, you fly good, and you think okay when you are not being so dumb."
Darrus thought he saw where this was headed. "Oh no. I am not going to enlist. I do not want to be a soldier again. No more wars for me; one was enough."
Vaaro laughed, a very disconcerting sound from a Rodian. "Soldier?!? Bah."
The look on Jeht's face made Vaaro laugh even harder....