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Rostek
3 July 2006, 11:36 PM
Alright-- this is one I wrote for a character of mine a couple days ago.
It's mostly based on our backstory (the character's brother is played by my own brother-- it's very much a self-insertion campaign, and a lovely change of pace). So, without further ado...


Cold Morning
Chapter I: Prelude to a Crappy Day

Captain Calo Vance was generally not a man to work overly hard—he rarely got out of his soft cotton pajama bottoms, nerf leather slip-ons, and an old worn out tunic until well after the noon-time hour and even then, he rarely wore anything other than his well used Corellian Defense Force boots and an old pair of dark blue trousers when it was time to actually get hands-on.

Today was not particularly different, other than the fact that he had donned his work clothes a few hours early so that he might properly crawl into one of the Lazy Rider’s maintenance spaces to effect repairs on a faulty stabilizer coupling. The less-than-gentle rattle that said part was causing had roused him from bed early, and was proving to complicate the repair process. Still, he reminded himself, it was better to tackle this particular problem right away, given that any significant worsening of the vibration could cause them to exit hyperspace prematurely if the computer felt that they had left the maximum safety threshold—and exiting hyperspace prematurely would mean hours of realignment and re-plotting the Rider’s hyperspace jump to Pelagon, where a drop-point agent waited to purchase his cargo of Grade III bacta. And, of course, if he was late with the shipment, he would probably lose his bonus, which would be another foot deeper in the hole he would have to go to finance his next run to the Rim.

Life was far too complicated sometimes—the “freedom” of captaining a tramp freighter my stanging foot, Calo thought as he replaced the cover of the access junction and put his ‘spanner and diagnostic computer back in his tool bag. One problem solved… he mused, and began to shimmy his bulk down the crawlspace. Fitter men might have been able to turn around and simply crawl out head first from the meter square space, but Calo knew very well that any such maneuver on his part would require the use of a fusion cutter and a great deal of lost dignity—and the bulky man was quite aware that he would never live such an incident down if he set foot in any spacer’s bar. After a minute or so of pushing himself down the crawlspace with his hands on the dorsal surface, Calo finally escaped the confines of one of the more claustrophobic spaces on his ship. Wiping his forehead with a rag and basking in the brief novelty sensation of (comparatively) open space, the spacer walked back towards the cockpit and the bright din of Hyperspace.

“The stabilizers should hold out until we get to a repair bay on Pelagon.” Calo said with a sigh, and sank gratefully into the generously stuffed pads of his captain’s chair (an aftermarket addition he was often grateful for).

“Fantastic… we’re only another 18 hours or so from our exit point.” replied Calo’s younger brother Zac, who occupied the co-pilot’s seat in a similarly sedated posture, eyes fixed on the three largest Multi-Function Displays which occupied most of the dashboard immediately in front of the co-pilot position.

“Great…” Calo replied, eyeing his own set of MFDs to check the ship’s state. Satisfied, he rose and stretched again. “Why don’t we get Cue-Nine up here to take watch, and then get something to eat; we’ve got time to watch a few hours of VS—I think the computer saved a week’s worth of programming off the subspace.” he said, raising an eyebrow at his brother.

“Legally speaking, we’ve got to have an organic in the cockpit at all times…” Zac replied with a placid smirk, then pressed a button on his console and got up out of his seat. “Do we still have those frozen VS dinners?” he asked with a chuckle as R3-Q9 rolled to the cockpit door.

The droid burbled an interrogatory and spun his dome a quarter turn, signaling some level of annoyance.

“Plug in, will you—we’re taking lunch. You can recharge all you like while we are unloading the cargo on Pelagon.” Calo replied with a preemptive, thrusting toward the relevant computer port with his thumb.

The droid seemed to contemplate this for a few moments, and finally crossed the threshold into the cockpit without further comment.

“Thank you, Cue-Nine.” Zac said as the two Corellian brothers left for the generously sized crew lounge area.

There were a few positives for operating a long-endurance-modified freighter, as far as the Vances were concerned. The crew facilities were a solid step above what the average YT-1300 or Ghtroc had to offer, the and the larger area created by the extended YT-1300 hull provided for both larger cargo capacity and room for a few modifications—once they got the money, of course. As it stood, the Rider boasted a Class One hyperdrive, modestly improved sublight engines, a high-end communications and sensor suite, a solid shield generator and four paired laser cannons fed by an upgraded power core; all of which (aside from the second twin laser emplacement) had been implemented on the ship prior to Calo’s purchase of it at a CMG auction on Alderaan. The Rider had almost totally cleaned the brothers out financially, emptying money intended for graduate school and spending most of the wages they had earned on their previous billet. The second pair of laser cannon had been a compromise: given the danger of work on the Rim, the original Ion cannon had to go, but thankfully its sale mostly paid for the installation of the new armaments. Though the two would have preferred the set of energy torpedo launchers that the merchant had offered, their coffers were thin enough as it was, and thus economy won out.

At 32 meters in length, the Rider was larger than a stock YT-1300 and wider (as the extensions were proportional) than a Ghtroc, but the ship still comfortably fit in almost all freighter bays and used the same parts as a standard YT-1300, which could be found virtually everywhere. Her 125 metric tons of cargo space were currently three quarters full with tanks of bacta and a few crates of fruit preserves from Taanab that Calo figured would do well enough on the specialty food market in Tapani.

As Zac and Calo settled onto their respective seats in the lounge area, Calo cradled the scalding hot food tray in one hand and gently reclined on his couch, using his other hand to operate the remote to the vid-screen and access the shockball games that the computer had pulled from the subspace net prior to the ship’s jump to lightspeed. Corellia had lost to Rhinnal… again, which did not bode well, to Calo’s mind, for the immediate prospects of the Vance brothers. Bad luck runs, or so the saying goes—and spacers are notorious for paying what most might deem undue attention to such things.

Still, there was little that any member of the Lazy Rider crew could do about such premonitions of doom, and the final twelve hours of the jump was spent in calm—if anxious—professional comportment.
The ship jerked less than gracefully as it exited the swirling ‘scape of Hyperspace and reverted to the more subdued surroundings of normal space. Calo raised an eyebrow, but said nothing as Zac guided the craft toward the standard approach corridor. Calo flipped a switch above his head and tapped a button on the rightmost MFD, and the METSOP broadcast droned throughout the spacious cockpit and out of speakers throughout the ship.

“Nice weather over the spaceport…” Zac commented sardonically as he slipped the freighter into line with the entry corridor, and neatly behind a Corellian-built bulk freighter that was ahead of them in line to approach. The planet was in the midst of a particularly rainy period, and thunderstorms were currently above the primary starport as well as most of the northern hemisphere. The storm would make the atmospheric approach tricky, but Calo and Zac were instruments-qualified pilots and reasonably experienced in such things, so there was not much worry of a crash; still, the brothers’ earlier premonition of negativity was being reinforced further.

“Quite… I suppose we should have the ASP and Cue-Nine check the cargo netting to make sure nothing shakes loose.” Calo replied with a sigh. He didn’t like having droids on his ship, generally. Cue-Nine was very competent and quite necessary for the maintenance of some of the more advanced systems on the Rider, especially the computer related tasks, and the ASP was quite good at lifting things, but there was always a bit of nagging doubt in the back of his mind. Of course, the hiring of organic crew members tended to be a bit problematic, as the Vances lacked the resources and time to go about detailed background checks, and none of their friends or acquaintances were available at the moment.

The speaker emitter buzzed and a stern voice came rushing out: “YT-1300 'Lazy Rider', Corellian Registry, this is Pelagon Starport Control, standby for approach vector, over.” said the controller, a woman obviously under a great deal of stress.

“This is Lazy Rider, we copy standby, over.” Calo replied as the bulk freighter began to slowly roll on its axis to match its assigned entry corridor.

After a few minutes of static-laced emptiness, the speaker buzzed again: “Lazy Rider, your entry vector is two-seven-zero mark three-one-five point five—repeat, two-seven-zero mark three-one-five point five, over.” the controller declared. “You are cleared for Docking Bay 19, over.” she added without enthusiasm.

“Copy that, two-seven-zero mark three-one-five point five—thank you and have a nice day.” Calo said, nodding to Zac, who rolled the ship smoothly into assigned vector and began their approach.


The storm proved to be annoying at first, but caused a nearly heart-stopping moment where a gust of wind almost caused an ore hauler to collide with the Corellian bulk freighter that had been ahead of the Rider in line. The freighter’s pilot was good—thankfully for all involved (the Rider included, as they were well within the envelope of a power core collapse explosion), and nothing was damaged aside from the feelings of a few crewmen from both ships and the unfortunate controllers.

Other than that, Zac and Calo guided the Lazy Rider into her bay without incident, and watched as the customs officials and their stormtrooper guard strode into the open space, the junior officer holding an umbrella over the head of what Calo supposed was the lead official.
“This is where the fun begins…” he mumbled, and donned his gunbelt and DL-6H pistol for purposes of show, then retrieved his good jacket from its hook in the lounge. Both brothers stood outside of the ramp entrance nervously. Calo exhaled and pressed the ramp controls, causing the door to open with a hiss and the ramp to lower slowly. With an audible clank, the ingress ramp stopped on the pavement, and the customs officers entered the ship, stormtrooper guard first, followed by the apparent inspector and his underling.

“Papers.” the inspector said simply but with a twinge of maliciousness. Calo, with some level of trepidation, handed him the BOSS datapad from its slot near the ramp door.

“Hmm… a cargo of medium-grade Rezmin bacta? I’m afraid I shall have to confiscate your cargo; Rezmin Bacta, Limited no longer exists—by Imperial decree, only Zaltin and Xucphra have authority to distribute the substance, Captain Vance. I’m not going to write you up for a fine, as according to your records you were in Hyperspace while the announcement was made, and I am feeling rather lenient today.” the official said, obviously rather enjoying this whole business.

Zac started to protest, but Calo interrupted. “Surely we can work out an arrangement so that this bacta doesn’t go to waste? I’m sure the current carte—err… corporate entities would be willing to buy the product… or even the military base here; one can never have too much bacta.” he said, politely as possible, despite the urge to slug the smirking sob.

“You are quite right, Captain Vance. In fact, Zaltin is purchasing errant cargoes of bacta for three credits on the deci. I suggest you take the Customs notice my assistant is running off and take them up on the offer. The bacta will be transferred when we receive notice of your transaction or after the passage of three days, after which you would receive nothing. I am afraid that the Zaltin office is closed today—holiday, you know; but I am sure that you will find them open tomorrow morning.” the official said, and handed Calo the slip of durasheet with the record of the seizure upon it.

“The Customs service crew will offload your bacta immediately and send it to impound, please open your cargo bay doors so they might do their duty.” the man said curtly, then turned and exited the ship.
Shutting the door behind them, Calo banged his open palm on the bulkhead and shouted a curse. “That scumbag just robbed us; three creds on the decicred for perfectly good bacta? Stang, that barely covers our expenses for getting here when you take it with the commission and subtract the deposit we’re going to lose.” he ranted angrily. The only positive of the whole affair was that the Customs officer didn't even bother to search the ship; not that that would have mattered other that wasting everyone's time, as the freighter was almost entirely clean, legally speaking (on the inside, anyway).

“Tash is going to be pissed at us.” Zac observed in reply, referring to the drop-point agent who was waiting for the now-confiscated bacta as they spoke. Calo nodded, and jabbed the cargo bay controls that opened the doors and lowered the elevator, all harder than necessary.

“At least we still have the food; that will probably convince Tash not to have his bruisers break our legs.” he caustically mused.

“Probably…” Zac agreed, his anger sliding into resignation.
It was only morning and it was only going to get colder and wetter for the Vance brothers.



End Chapter

I will probably put more up eventually. I welcome any constructive notes, though I do point out this is just a really rough cut and not edited particularly other than for spelling and such to make it at least somewhat presentable ;). I also appriciate that the rush of "technical" data in re. to the ship is a bit distracting, though I find it necessary for expository purposes relating to the whole of the tale.

Enjoy :)

Rostek
3 July 2006, 11:37 PM
<B>Chapter II: Bad Vibrations in Starport City</B>

The Vance’s ASP unloaded the crates of preserves onto the somewhat rickety repulsor sled that had come with the ship, and then proceeded back into the ship to recharge. Cue-Nine was left in charge to supervise the Tapani Customs workers as they removed the errant bacta. Calo retained his blaster and navy blue coat, and placed a wide brim hat upon his head for protection against the rain. Zac also wore his jacket and a black knit skullcap, but declined to walk armed in the street. It was just as well, for the only other weapon on the ship besides their kitchen knives was an old hunting blaster that was a tad too conspicuous (and “unregistered”) for public.

The walk to Tash’s warehouse was uneventful—as it was a Tapani holiday, there was a fair bit of activity on the other side of town, but very little in the way of actual events in the starport district, where the foreigners were clustered. The Balosar’s protocol droid met the brothers at the entrance of the office front that faced the street and prevented easy access from that street to the warehouse.

“I am terribly sorry, Captain, but I am afraid Master Tash is quite busy at the moment with several business associates. He has been informed of your arrival and begs you to leave your cargo here and avail yourself on the offerings of his bistro, just across the street there…” the droid pointed out the well-furnished outside dining area and garish sign that marked the establishment, “and he will be ready for you within the hour.” it finished.

“We will take the crates with us over there.” Calo said confidently, so as not to provoke the droid’s suspicion. “They are filled with speculative items and require that your Master sample them to ensure proper transaction, I’m sure you understand.” he added with a smile.

“Ah… of course.” amicably replied the droid, who clearly did not understand the BS that Calo had just passed it. Still, it was not an unreasonable or unique request, so CI2-3PO thought nothing of it and simply allowed the two to cross the street to the restaurant.


“I don’t get it… It’s been almost two hours and we’re still sitting here.” Calo grumbled, checking his chrono for the twentieth time.

“That must be some deal he’s got going on in there.” Zac replied with a shrug. “At least they have free refills…” he added, chomping on his eighth seasoned breadstick. There were indeed free refills on beverages and breadsticks—and while the waiter and manager had initially been annoyed that the two very large spacers were consuming their profit margin over a legitimately unreasonable time period without ordering anything new, one mention that they were here ‘waiting for Tash to see them’ shut the staff up rather quickly.

“I think we should go in and see what’s going on—ask the droid the ETA on the meeting.” Calo ventured, and got up from the table, placing a fairly generous tip on top of the specified bill. It was the least he could do.

The Vances advanced across the street, crates in tow, and were about to knock on the door of the office front when they were nearly bowled over by a few very sizeable individuals who looked rather keen for an excuse to do them harm. Naturally, Calo and Zac did not demur to stepping rather briskly aside.

Once the entrance was clear, they pushed their crates back through the entrance and crossed the threshold themselves, smacking face to face with a terrified protocol droid:

“Oh dear, oh dear—they have killed the master! Those fiends, blackguards—you mustn’t allow them to get away!” the droid exclaimed rather loudly. Calo cursed and rushed to the back office, where the agent’s body was gruesomely slumped against the charred greel wood of his former desk, a very large group of charred wounds where his upper body used to be. Zac was shortly behind his brother, and winced at the scene.

“Ouch… wonder what he did to earn that?” he asked rhetorically

“I dunno… but I figure that it didn’t have to do with that pile of credits right there…” Calo replied, pointing in awe at the rather large stack of hard credits sitting in the open safe behind the body. A space in the pile was empty, so something was gone, to be sure, but the two free-traders were transfixed by the cash and too busy to contemplate exactly what had gone down.

“Oh dear… the Master’s secret safe has been breached!” the droid wailed. “You must alert the authorities!”

“Like hell,” Calo retorted, still staring at the cash. “We shouldn’t… our tinge is probably everywhere in this building by now… but if we take the cash, we’ll be screwed if they do catch up to us… plus we need that money from the bacta corp… Damnit!” Calo shouted, slapping his palm against his forehead. “Why must I find myself in this situation? If I take the cash here, I lose out on the bacta money, and I’m a Class Two felon (again)… I don’t… Arrgh!” he ranted, slapping his palm to his head again several more times.

“How can you be concerned with my late Master’s collection of money at a time like this!?” shouted the droid, aghast.

Zac licked his lips briefly with thought, “We can probably get away with nicking the droid.” he said with a tilt of the head.

“Better than nothing, I suppose.” shrugged Calo, and both Vances turned their gazes away from the money back toward the dull-golden droid.

“What? You can’t possibly be serious—I am sure the Master provided for my status in his last will and testament, which I carry in my memory buffer, and I am fairly certain he would not want me to fall into the hands of such mercenaries as you!” it protested uselessly.

“I’m sure you’ll change your mind when you get to know us a little better, old chum.” Calo replied, casually flicking the ‘power off’ switch on the droid’s back, causing the horrified machine to slump over before it could further protest.


Loading the droid onto the repulsor cart was not a particularly difficult task, though hiding it proved to be somewhat more challenging. As Calo liberated the deceased’s personal computer and business files, Zac managed to find a tarpaulin large enough to cover the whole load, in addition to a cargo tag imprinter that he had found sitting unused on a chair. They had been putting off buying one for several months, and as its prior owner no longer had any use for it, its value had therefore (according to the laws of capitalism) decreased dramatically and lowered it into the brothers’ price range, so to speak. Tash had not been a pleasant individual, nor particularly well disposed toward any of the dozen operators he dealt with, but during the period of refined looting, neither brother could conceive of an obvious cause for his death.

Satisfied that they had gotten away with all they could get away with, the two slipped out the back door of the warehouse and made their way back to the ship unnoticed by the distracted or apathetic populace.

Calo decided against refueling and refilling the water tanks, as either would necessarily prevent the ship from takeoff if caught at the wrong time. Both brothers, however, decided that refreshing their information would be necessary in order to figure out how recent events fell into place. With Tash dead—and both Zac and Calo knew all to well that word would have hit the street by that point—there would be a power vacuum along the Bacta Run at least for a short period. They needed to know how such struggles would likely play out in order to play their own part in the great underworld game.

Thusly, they decided to pay a visit upon one of the more respected infochants on the planet, whose office lay on the other side of town, where the revelers of the week-long local festival that was in the process of winding down pranced drunkenly through the streets making misdemeanor level mischief where’er they went. Given that Calo and Zac had committed half a dozen felonies just that afternoon, this prospect was not particularly intimidating, but nevertheless, there were serious security issues to be considered.

“If we leave the ship, how do we keep the nasties from boarding and/or sabotaging her?” Zac asked seriously. “We can’t very well send one of us out there alone, as that would just ask for trouble as well. It’s not a very clean situation.” he added.

“They rarely are.” Calo replied soberly. “Still, I think we can talk the bay owner into letting Cue-Nine run the shields for “diagnostic purposes” and have him keep the ship warm and ready for takeoff if we need help.

“How do you figure that? He’s not exactly a qualified pilot—I mean, sure, he can probably do level flight okay, but do we really want to find out while being chased by a bunch of mobsters or something?” Zac replied skeptically.

“This isn’t exactly a situation that allows for testing prior to going through it. We’ll just have to hope we aren’t ambushed, and hope that if we are that we can manage to get to an open enough area for the droid to put the Rider down.” Calo responded with a shrug.

“There are a few too many ‘hopes’ in there for my taste, Calo.” Zac warily said.

“Mine too.” admitted the elder Vance quietly.



End Chapter

There's part two-- same disclaimers apply :)

Terras Jadeonar & Raven
4 July 2006, 12:44 AM
CMG huh? ;)

Was a good read, nothing too overly technical, although that jargon is always quite fitting in a shipward story, if not a neccesity.

Would be interesting to read more (if there is), if this being akin to the 'pilot' episode to launch a serries. :)


Having read 2 character background fics in a row.... Dang, almost makes me want to get back into the habbit of writting one, albiet possibly a mini novela by the time its done ;)

Rostek
4 July 2006, 12:49 AM
Originally posted by Terras Jadeonar &amp; Raven
CMG huh? ;)

Was a good read, nothing too overly technical, although that jargon is always quite fitting in a shipward story, if not a neccesity.

Would be interesting to read more (if there is), if this being akin to the 'pilot' episode to launch a serries. :)


Having read 2 character background fics in a row.... Dang, almost makes me want to get back into the habbit of writting one, albiet possibly a mini novela by the time its done ;)

Corellian Merchant's Guild (for the uninitiated among the lurkers ;))-- which will play a big role in the campaign, and therefore the background stuff. There is most definiately more coming-- writing character background stuff is quite addicting (just a friendly warning on that topic :P).

Incidentally, I'm particularly proud of the ship names in this game-- Lazy Rider quickly became my car's new nickname after I submitted the name for group approval :D

Terras Jadeonar & Raven
4 July 2006, 12:51 AM
Heheh, cool...

No kidding about the character background writting stuff being addictive. Specially when ya got a good start and idea for it.

Rostek
4 July 2006, 03:15 AM
Part Two up on my double post spot :)

PsychoInfiltrator
4 July 2006, 09:33 AM
Two thumbs up, Rostek. Good stuff.

Just when I need to read some good fanfic stuff. And I have a hunch that Cold's will be pretty good...and neither of you are likely to drop off into the Netless world any time soon, so I figure the Fanfic forum ought to do well in the near future.

Terras Jadeonar & Raven
4 July 2006, 02:41 PM
Part 2, nice :) The Vance brothers' luck just seems to get better all the time don't it?

Part 3 ought to be real interesting... Hot droid, hot credits, infobroker, mob chases... B)

Psych - yup, i definately know the feeling.

Rostek
4 July 2006, 03:01 PM
All right, I've decided to post some more between incidents of blowing crap up B). I figure that at some point I'll actually run into the campaign, and I'll probably diary that a bit as well, with some literary license thrown in, of course. But the campaign doesn't start for a few years in-game (this is something like 1 BBY), so that might be a bit.
I obviously won't usually update this much, but since it's a holiday weekend... well, I've got plenty of time on my hands ;)

The fight scene is not in its final form, really, and I will probably edit it as I come up with better description, but it is based to some extent of the serial crushing of Boondock Saints fame (Calo is a "huge friggen' goy", after all B), hence the chapter title.
Notice how the characters tend to loot crimescenes-- this habit has thus far been something of an in-joke in the group given we did so the first few times we encountered such scenes in-game, quite unintentionally originally. I figured that they had probably been in the habit of doing so for quite some time. So, without further prattle on my part, Enjoy:


Chapter III: The Starport Saints

Deciding to take no chances, the brothers enlisted the services of an autohack, which drove them wordlessly downtown to the infochant’s office building. Once again, Calo was armed, but this time Zac risked things and packed the rifle under his coat. Furtively, the brothers make their way up to the building’s third floor and knocked politely but firmly on the door. It swung open, revealing for the second time that day a particularly nasty scene. The corpse of the infochant, a human male in his mid twenties, around the age of both Vances, lay sprawled on the expensive looking rug that dominated the middle of the room. The blaster burns indicated that he had been shot, execution style, in the back of the head with a weapon of rather impressive power, and the pallor of the body indicated that there was likely a great deal more of the blood that soaked the rug around the edges of the body.

“Not again…” lamented Zac with a moan.

“Apparently, someone doesn’t agree with my choice of contacts.” Calo observed, stepping carefully around the body to the computer terminal.

Donning his gloves, Calo began to check active memory—which displayed a few files, but primarily consisted of what must have been an encrypted address book for the deceased’s information sources. Calo downloaded the files onto a disk and left the encrypted business untouched; it was probable that the code for deciphering them died with their creator.

“It looks like we have some new navigation charts, fresh from the military base here on-planet. Military routes out on the Rim… that will probably come in handy.” Calo commented aloud, stuffing the disk into his pocket and turning the terminal back off. “Other than that, all I’ve got is the schedule for a few transports—pirate bait, I imagine. He must only keep the stuff he is about to get rid of on his desktop.” he added with a shrug.

“I suppose our briefing will have to wait… we have another thirteen hours until Zaltin’s branch office opens for business, and then we’ve got to get the hell out of here.” Zac replied, checking his chrono to ensure accuracy in his account.

“Fine… at least we have the charts; those will probably help us get around safely when be go underground for a few months. We’ll have to stop on Alderaan first… I have a hunch that keeping that appointment will help us pay for the Rim run.” said Calo, operating the door controls. Both knew better than to deny their intuition—it had been their father’s advice to them to trust their guts when in the midst of any premonitory feelings, and such had served them reasonably well over the years.

One of these episodes availed itself on both as the door slid open. It was too late, however, and the Houk’s stun shot impacted Calo and dropped him heavily to the floor. Zac was quickly overcome by the onslaught and was dragged out behind the building to the rain-beaten alley, moderately beaten from a cursory glance.

As his brother was being taken downstairs to the street, Calo was left to his own devices in the bloody office. It took him nearly a minute to gather the energy to stand up, but after doing so; the Corellian spacer stumbled to the alley-facing window and peered out. Through his daze and the metal skeleton of the fire escape, Calo could discern the Houk and two large humans shouting at his brother, who had been set on his knees, not unlike the late information broker had been prior to his death.

He knew that he could hardly stand by and watch these individuals do what they apparently planned to do, Calo stepped out of the window and, reaching for the nearest large object he could lay his hands upon, threw it as powerfully as possible down upon the Houk. The trash can crumpled around the head of the large alien, spreading its contents about the alleyway and then finally crashing to the pavement, splashing the accumulated rain water every which way. The Houk’s blaster discharged uselessly into the nearby wall, and he collapsed. Calo had, by this point, drawn his blaster and began charging down the three flights of stairs, firing at the remaining villains intermittently. As he rounded the first balcony onto the next set of stairs, one of his shots hit the dark haired human in the mid-abdomen; the man stumbled for balance, dropping his blaster on the pavement. Zac had taken advantage of the confusion to turn the tables of the lighter haired man, and was in the process of beating him senseless with his bound fists. The light-haired one got a few in return, however, and Zac was soon on his back, fumbling around the body of the Houk as his now-bloodied opponent advanced.

Seeing his opportunity, Calo threw his legs over the lowest hanging balcony and jumped—landing upon the man he had wounded and crushing the rogue under his two-hundred and fifty pounds of scruffy human missile. The captain of the Lazy Rider rolled off the body and struggled to his feat, blaster (nominally) at the ready. Zac already had things well in hand, however, and the subsequent blaster discharge felled the final opponent. Zac held the massive, smoking, DeathHammer pistol that he had liberated from the body of the dead Houk leader in his bound hands, apparently impressed by the power of the weapon. The brothers’ old hunting rifle had not survived the crushing force of Calo’s body, and the bent and cracked weapon lay pathetically next to the dark haired human tough who had confiscated it. Finding a piece of broken glass among the released contents of the trashcan-projectile, Zac cut the space tape that had been used to bind his wrists as Calo scavenged an old shopping bag from the nearby dumpster to collect the three heavies’ blasters (all of which were of oversized heavy pistol models) and the wads of cash each possessed, along with a vibrodaggar that the blond man had apparently forgotten he had, luckily for Zac.

“C’mon… let’s get the hell out of here.” Calo huffed, looking around to try and discern any bystander eyes that may have been about. Zac nodded, and the two spacers shuffled down the alley into the street, where they hailed the first autohack that came near.

The speeder’s simple droid brain didn’t care that the men it had picked up were sorely battered and stained with blood of an inhuman color, or that they carried an old shopping bag full of firearms and dirty cash; it merely queried its new passengers on their intended destination, and dutifully sped the two quickly back to their docking bay.

Calo stuffed the payment and a generous tip through the slot, then he and Zac fled the conveyance for the relative safety of their starship.


Neither Zac nor Calo were any hand at first aid—aside from basic CDF and CMG required training, their only guide was an old Clone Wars era soldier’s handbook that Calo had purchased as a curio some years earlier when he was just getting into the Corellian College of Aerospace Operations (a moderately prestigious institution that filled out the ranks of the Corellian merchant fleet and sector defense forces, with a decidedly more academic bent than the Imperial-run academy system).

The book was moderately useful for many things, from basic tactics in most situations to tips on improvised explosives and the efficient delegation of manpower on a combat engaged ship; medically, however, Calo found it wanting. The nine pages on basic treatment of common combat zone injuries and the four pages on common battlefield and on-base infections proved to be designed for those who were of a much more resilient constitution than the brothers (clones, more than likely). The medical kit’s dataplaque of similar intention was nearly as useless—though it did at the very least show in simple terms how to use the provided equipment.

After some trial and error, Zac’s split lip and various minor lacerations were cleaned up and dealt with appropriately, and the strained muscle in Calo’s back and his pounding headache from the stun blast were reduced to tolerable levels. Neither was in particularly ideal condition to pilot the ship in rough weather, especially given the possibility of an impromptu departure.

Calo, by this time, was greatly lamenting his decision to register the Rider under her proper name at this port. He had taken the precaution of registering the ship under a dozen or so false names at over a score of ports, but Pelagon was one planet where the ship was ‘in the open’ as it were. Such would greatly complicate the side trip to Alderaan—as that planet’s ports were also well aware of the Lazy Rider’s actual identity, and severely reduce the probability of making it through any customs inspection that the Tapani officials occasionally did on outbound flights. Despite being generally proper Corellians, Calo and Zac were also quite astute regarding their risk/reward ratios, and Calo reckoned that there was not much reward for the risks involved in leaving the system. That, however, could not be helped, as it was apparent to the Vances that, for whatever reason, they needed to go to Alderaan. And there was absolutely no disputing that common sensation they had experienced; none whatsoever.

There was also the matter of having an empty cargo bay for the four-day jump to the Core. That was money out of their pockets, although the preserves and the recent boon of dirty cash somewhat alleviated the Vances’ trepidation over giving up a profit opportunity, Calo was still loathe to leave port with a sparsely populated cargo bay. Spacer lore accorded a great deal of bad luck to setting out with an empty (or mostly empty) cargo hold, so there remained a spot of nervousness about the whole affair for the Rider’s crew.

In this meantime of paranoid and sleepless watches from the cockpit and lower gunwell of the freighter, Cue-Nine had taken the opportunity to… creatively reprogram the protocol droid’s memory, so that it lacked any recollection of Calo and Zac’s particular involvement in their master’s death, but retained certain programming elements that had made the droid a significantly more efficient secretary (databases of exchange rates, trade law, bookkeeping, etc.). The droid was now rather pleasant toward its new owners, despite an odd preoccupation with the Vances’ treatment of their astromech and an unsettling tendency to ask if there was ‘anything they needed’ at frequent intervals.

Tash’s will proved to be of interest as well—there was seemingly no provision for the dispersal of his assets (including, incidentally, the droid), aside from a note that gave a few thousand credits to a well known spacer’s bar on Tatooine (a tab, more than likely) and an unidentified object or amount to a Klattooinian Trade Guild official. According to the droid, the legal language around that last clause was not actually valid under any Imperial statute, and would be thrown out of court in a heartbeat anywhere outside of Hutt Space (not a shocking revelation given the Klattooinian Trade Guild’s backers).
Zac was the first to remember that obvious hole in the safe’s storage space, where an object had clearly sat at some point. Calo commented that, given the bruisers they had encountered were the same individuals who were the likely killers of their former agent, and that they were almost certainly affiliated with the KTG and therefore the Hutts, it would probably be best not to pursue this notion and simply be content with staying alive and enjoying their new droid. Hopefully, they mused, the Hutts would not be upset that they had popped three of their (mostly incompetent) heavies, or, better yet, the Hutts didn’t know it was them at all.

The local news reports mentioned that the police believe that there had been a string of five related homicides committed by the same parties, but as these were all offworlders and criminals to boot, there was not a great deal the local police could do, and the report was left there and not mentioned in the morning edition. This revelation struck the Rider’s crew as odd—there was indeed something rather rotten taking place in this affair.

Still, there were a few hours left until Zaltin opened, and the Vance brothers would be damned if they blew orbit without that money. The only question became how to slip into the office without risking themselves in the open with a possible police dragnet looking for them…


End Chapter

Same disclaimers apply :)

Terras Jadeonar & Raven
4 July 2006, 04:31 PM
nice!

PsychoInfiltrator
4 July 2006, 04:50 PM
Beautiful.


“Apparently, someone doesn’t agree with my choice of contacts.”

Priceless. :D

Keep it up, o Great One of Literature! ;)

Rostek
5 July 2006, 10:16 PM
A shorter update-- wrote it this afternoon whilst lazing about the house in response to a very sore back (long story there :rolleyes: ).


Chapter IV: Flight of the Lazy Rider

As it happened, the problem of getting their sixteen thousand credits of bacta money prior to takeoff was solved without incident—anti-climatically, one might say.

Indeed, after Cue-Nine had convinced Calo and Zac to rest the last few hours of the early morning until business hours began, the astromech simply sent their newly acquired protocol droid with the receipt and Calo’s cred chip to the Zaltin office, and declined to wake his previously restless owners.

The 3PO droid puttered back with an even more self-satisfied attitude than usual… and the credits, of course, which he had had quickly processed into hard currency via the Bank of Corellia branch across the street from the bay. Both spacers were initially rather displeased that their droids had apparently conspired to go against Calo’s standing orders, but when presented with the evidence, no qualitative reason could be found to further scold. So with a trite and half-hearted “don’t do it again”, Calo let the discussion drop.

With their money safely ensconced in the ship’s safe, the Vance brothers began preparations for their immediate departure. They had gotten much more than what they had bargained for on Pelagia, and were not keen on spending any more time than humanly possible on that sith-blasted rock. Both knew that they were living on borrowed time as far as the previous evening's affair was concerned.

Whilst Calo dealt with a few minor power system adjustments on one of the outside maintenance hatches on the mandibles, Zac was busy filing for takeoff clearance. All was more or less well.

“Captain Vance, I presume?” came the official sounding voice from somewhere out of Calo’s visual parameters.

“Who’s asking?” he replied suspiciously, laying a hand on the blaster that sat next to his tool kit and removing his welding goggles.

“Lieutenant Venalis, Tapani Sector Police. We have reports of a droid withdrawing credits from Zaltin under your name, yet our record show that you do not have a permit for such a model of automaton under your name. Also, we are here to collect planetary tariffs on the money in question, as per Trade Code 916-IU7, paragraph 3, which is an amount totaling five thousand and eight point five credits.” said the voice, which apparently emanated from a very prim looking young man in local garb, who was flanked by a pair of uniformed officers. He and his associates stood just ahead of the Rider’s cockpit, the uniforms having their blasters out but not at the ready.

Amateurs… thought Calo idly, as he concocted a means of escape.
Zac, at that time, appeared at the rear of the cockpit, visible to Calo out on the starboard mandible, but not to the officers. He held up two of the DeathHammer pistols they had taken off the dead heavies and, after tossing his head in the direction of the officials, pretended to shoot them off in dual-wielding Holostar manner, then raising them in the air with a questioning and expectant look at Calo, his eyebrows raised with the unspoken but obvious question.

Calo made an “are you serious?” face and shook his head quickly, which he imagined may have very much confused the policemen below. Zac tilted his head, but shrugged and dropped the guns from ready; What do you have in mind, then? was clearly in intended meaning of said gestures, and one which Calo very clearly comprehended… and one to which he currently had little answer. Still, it was apparent that they could not be taken, as the highly illegal blasters in Zac's hands were an example of.

“Ah, yes, you refer to that droid. I just acquired him this morning as settlement for a debt; haven’t had time to go and register him yet. Repairs, you know.” Calo lied pleasantly, smiling with a genial grace.

“You’ve scheduled takeoff for an hour from now—that hardly seems like enough time to go through the Department of the Registrar.” the officer replied with what Calo thought to be a knowing glance.

“Ah… well… departure days are terribly busy—must have slipped my mind to go and register him up. I suppose I can delay a bit and head up there now.” Calo replied, scratching his head with the hand which held the blaster-concealing toolbox.

“Quite… there is, of course, still the manner of payment for your tariffs.” the officer continued, not entirely convinced about Calo’s excuse, but more eager for the money than anything… or to contest that point, more likely.

“Of course… I shall be right down, just wait right there.” the captain replied, and walked over to the dorsal airlock so that he might reenter the ship. As the hatch closed behind him, Calo ran to the engineering station quickly and dropped his toolbox.

“Zac, we have a problem. The man outside wants a cut of our cash—and I’m fairly certain they know about the droid.” he said into the ship’s intercom, flipping switches on the console to bypass the power relays whose repairs he had left unfinished..

"Which droid?" Zac responded, puzzled; this business of owning multiple droids was still rather new.

"The stolen droid." Calo retorted, exasperated.

"Oh... that droid..." Zac said, understanding dawning... and apprehension inevitably falling on its heels. “What do you want to do, then?” Zac replied nervously. While not entirely on the level and, unfortunately, prone to felonious misadventure (to put it lightly) when onplanet, the Vances were not smugglers (or not, at least, professional smugglers).

Blasting off without clearance would be a first for them in their tenure as independent operators of their own ship, as would so blatantly violating planetary law in the presence of enforcement officials. They did what they could get away with for certain, and their prior berths were prone to such things, but this was the first time the decision was on their heads.

There was, unfortunately, not a great deal of choice—if they inspected the ship, they would find a great deal of dirty cash in addition to the stolen protocol droid and computer records stolen from two of the murder victims from yesterday’s ‘gang war’ as the morning datalogs had chalked it up to… and the murder weapons, covered in their DNA. They would be fried robas for five homicides, Grand Larceny, Grand Theft Droid, possession of classified military data and all manner of associated lesser crimes. And that, of course, would simply not do.

While Unauthorized Port Departure and Failure to Pay Duties were unavoidable at this point, they beat the alternative (and have statues of limitation) to Calo’s mind.

“Take the ship off standby, turn on the shields and prepare to raise ship… they’ll probably have interceptors up in time to catch us before we make the jump to lightspeed.” he replied grimly over the intercom. This could get messy…

Zac wordlessly primed the ship’s defensive systems in response, and Calo fired up the engines in quick succession to that. They were officially criminals in the Tapani Sector, and the escape of the Lazy Rider was not at all for certain at this impasse…

End Chapter...

Standard disclaimers, futher comments are heartily encouraged :)

PsychoInfiltrator
6 July 2006, 05:26 AM
futher comments are heartily encouraged

Well, I'll add a further comment, if you don't mind, but:

That whole thing was unexpected-I was expecting stiffs out to kill them-though of course, police identities can be faked...

I'm eagerly waiting for the next chapter.

Rostek
6 July 2006, 07:58 AM
Originally posted by PsychoInfiltrator


Well, I'll add a further comment, if you don't mind, but:

That whole thing was unexpected-I was expecting stiffs out to kill them-though of course, police identities can be faked...

I'm eagerly waiting for the next chapter.

There is a very good reason for the lack of underworld pursuit, I assure you-- one that will be revealed in (probably) the update after next.
We have to make our attempt to flee first, though, don't we? B)

PsychoInfiltrator
6 July 2006, 11:54 AM
We have to make our attempt to flee first, though, don't we?

Makes sense, I guess. As long as there's a good reason...

Ronin
8 July 2006, 02:14 AM
Excellent stuff Rostek!
I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. :)

Rostek
8 July 2006, 04:53 PM
Originally posted by Ronin
Excellent stuff Rostek!
I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. :)

Thanks Ronin... well, I do live to serve...


Chapter V: The Flight of the Lazy Rider II

Calo, finished with his rerouting, jogged to the cockpit, his feet pounding heavily on the deckplates. He felt the Rider accelerate and climb, though the artificial gravity prevented him from actually experiencing all of the effects.

“How are we doing?” the elder Vance asked as he climbed into the left hand seat.

“All things considered?” Zac started “All right, I suppose. I was rather hoping that fleeing the planetary police wouldn’t be necessary, but I guess life kills dreams like that.” he finished. Calo’s hands flew over the instrument panel, switching an MFD to the sensor display, and extending the Rider’s sensor dome. The previous owners of the ship had installed a very high quality omni-directional sensor array dome that could be extended via magnetic lift (ala the Y-Wing Longprobe) or kept mostly recessed on the port side forward hard-point station. While the dome impeded the fire arc of the dorsal cannon, it did provide early warning detection superior to most non-military craft.

The display came to life and gained a great deal of clarity once Calo activated the dome’s primary active scanner components.

“I’ve got good news and bad news—” Calo started.

“You know I hate it when you use that old cliché, Calo.” Zac replied, a bit of anger and/or panic in his voice.

“Quite—the good news is that we will be clear for hyperspace in eight minutes. The bad news is that the fighters that they just launched from the military base will be on us in six.” Calo finished, recessing the dome but leaving its active sensors on, giving the Rider a still impressive sensor picture. Calo quickly got up from the captain’s chair and turned to the station behind his normal position. Turning on the navicomputer’s hyperspace jump computational software and the local starmap charts, he scanned the display with his eyes, finally setting upon a stretch of barren star clusters and nebulae.

“All right—we’re going to set course for the Johan Star Cluster, then turn around and make for the Shapani so we can get onto the normal trade routes back to the Core, and then… to Alderaan.” Calo said, starting up the calculations software and entering his information. A light on the primary display in the center of the dashboard began to blink rapidly, and its high pitched alarm component began to beep frantically in time with the light. Zac leaned over to his left to read the sensor display on Calo’s instruments.

“Well, now I’ve got bad news and worse news.” he said, not waiting for Calo to respond before continuing. “The fighters will be on us in a couple minutes, and we’ve got an IPV bearing down on us from the planet’s moon. They’ll come into firing range in five minutes.”

“Well, that’s good—we’ll be in hyperspace in four!” Calo shouted, and hit the intercom button. “Cue-Nine, get up here and get on the hyperspace computations; I’m going to the dorsal turret.” then, turning to Zac, he added: “Power up the main guns.”

The astromech unit passed Calo on his way to the gunwell, but was nearly run over by the large human captain. As all of the ship’s lights were out, save for the emergency strips on the corridors, this was wholly understandable. This happened every time the guns were powered up—due to, Calo suspected, a wiring problem related the pacifist nature of the original owners, the Alderaan Biotech Corporation.

When the brothers had gotten the second turret installed, they had naturally run its power distribution through the same system as the top turret, which in turn (apparently) also controlled all of the ship’s lights. The power distribution grid seemed to lack the endurance to handle everything, so Calo had taken the logical step of placing the guns ahead of the lights on the computer priority manager. Cue-Nine had opined that a low-grade coupling somewhere on the ship was the problem, but as yet, no one had been able to find the offending part.

The recently acquired 3PO droid’s eyes glowed in the darkness, as it approached Calo— “Sir, sir; I must protest this course of action you plan on taking. Surely if you merely released me to the authorities there would be no--” it started before Calo interrupted it with a dagger-like glare.

“Listen, Professor—you’ll keep your vocoder inoperative or I’ll eject you out the airlock, so help me!” Calo shouted angrily, and climbed into the well, beginning the short trip up the ladder to the dorsal gun position.
Attaching the comlink earpiece to his head, and priming the targeting computer, Calo called back to the cockpit. “I’m ready—ETA reads as thirty seconds until they’re within range.” he said uneasily. Fleeing justice was one thing, firing on government ships was quite another, but there really wasn’t much of a choice if the fighters opened fire.

Calo stared down the fighters as they caught up with the Rider, slowly but surely. Initially, the old model T.I.E. fighters, flying in perfect delta formation, with the flight leader at the point and his two wingmen flanking him, simply were content to repeatedly hail for the Lazy Rider to heel to and prepare to be boarded (presumably by the inbound IPV). Calo, despite being relatively and willfully ignorant of Tapani politics, was somewhat surprised to see the crest of House Mecetti plastered prominently on the bent solar panels.

Apparently the locals aren’t popular with the Imperial Viceroy… that could be useful some time in the future if I ever return to this thrice-blasted hell of a sector. he thought idly.

As it turned out, Zac’s response to the entreaties to surrender had taken the flight leader rather poorly, which was not shocking, as lines such as “Go f*** yourself, Baron Pantywaist!” tend not to endear their targets to the speaker, especially if the target is a minor nobleman with a puffed up estimation of his own self worth.

Calo cursed over the intercom, and locked his targeting computer as the T.I.E. fighters rolled into The Z for an attack on the Lazy Rider’s dorsal surface. Calo got off only a pair of ineffectual shots before the fighters rocketed under the arc of his guns. The fighters had done slightly better, though their shots had only impacted the Rider’s shields without any actual effect.

Zac rolled the ship on her axis, giving his brother an easy bead on the now-maneuvering fighters. Calo fired again; the first two bursts of energy failed to impact, but the third shot’s paired beams clipped the wing of the flight leader and caused his craft to spin away from the fleeing freighter. The trailing pilots fired again, and again ineffectually lit up the Rider’s shield perimeter. Zac rolled the ship again, back to her original bearing, and after one final curse from the spinning Tapani nobleman, the Corellian freighter disappeared away from her pursuers into the bright glow of Hyperspace.


Chapter End

PsychoInfiltrator
9 July 2006, 06:24 AM
All in all-that was too easy. But then, you said the Underwolrd would hit them on the NEXT update.
:)


Zac rolled the ship on her axis, giving his brother an easy bead on the now-maneuvering fighters. Calo fired again; the first two bursts of energy failed to impact, but the third shot’s paired beams clipped the wing of the flight leader and caused his craft to spin away from the fleeing freighter. The trailing pilots fired again, and again ineffectually lit up the Rider’s shield perimeter. Zac rolled the ship again, back to her original bearing, and after one final curse from the spinning Tapani nobleman, the Corellian freighter disappeared away from her pursuers into the bright glow of Hyperspace.


If that doesn't get bounty hunters on their tail...

Well, a Hutt would do it. :)

(Yet another excellent update, Rostek.)

Rostek
15 July 2006, 02:21 PM
Chapter VI: Fear and Loathing on Alderaan I

After the escape of the Lazy Rider, the Vance brothers were left to make minor repairs in the soft glow of the Johan Star Cluster, and gird their loins for their trip to Alderaan, in the thick of the Core Worlds… and the Empire.

On the plus side, Calo figured, there was the fact that the authorities were sure that no sane dirty tramp captain would take his ship into the heart of the beast so quickly after blasting their way out of a port with hot cargo (miniscule though the droid may be). And, he acceded, they were totally correct. But the Vances could hardly be considered “sane” in this instance: they were collectively bent on taking a mind-blowingly dangerous and likely fatal risk based off of a shared gut feeling, after all.

With their ship patched for the time being, Calo plotted a course to the Shapani Pass, which would take them towards Yag’dhul, and from there, to Onderon and then Alderaan herself—skipping the hard to navigate Deep Core and the Corellian Sector entirely, the latter to stay away from their father’s less… picky creditors.

Thom Vance, while a charitable captain and more than competent for virtually any job, had indulged his charitable instinct more than he could afford recently, and for 28k, a few creditors might be tempted to extract the cash from any family member.

So, his sons believed, it would be best to simply avoid any chance of such an event at all.


The Lazy Rider did not, in fact, end up touching at Yag’dhul or Onderon, and instead merely readjusted her coordinates and jumped to the next waypoint. So it was that the ship transverse the distance at a fairly impressive clip of three and a half days*. On the trip, both Vances had decided that it was necessary to ditch the stolen 3PO; it was both annoying and... well, stolen, which posed a problem if discovered. How they would manage to get rid of it, however, was somewhat less apparent at the moment.

Calo, speaking as ‘Captain Dale’ of the Nebula Racer was lucky enough to avoid a customs search, and the Alderaanian authorities simply took his declarations at his word. It was good, Calo and Zac both decided, that the Customs office was so understaffed, even in the Core—good for business, at least.
It also meant that when the Lazy Rider put down in Docking Bay Gamma-19, they were utterly alone with themselves.


Calo and Zac exited the ship with their ASP droid in tow, and both men breathed in the pleasant Alderaanian air with some relish, as such was a rare treat from the usual recycled mix that occupied starships. Of course, like sweets, one could only have too much before they become sick, or spoil the pleasantness. Still, at this stage, the novelty was in full force, and in their enjoyment, neither Vance noticed the three sentients enter the bay before the ASP droid closed the ship’s ramp behind them.
As the ramp clanked shut, Zac’s reverie ended with the shock of seeing these interlopers approach, and he quickly alerted his brother to the situation with a swift poke to the shoulder.

“Crap…” Calo muttered under his breath, cursing the fact that neither he nor his brother were armed, as per Alderaanian law, and it would take far longer than they had to retrieve them from the ship, or even escape into the ship for safety. On the positive, however, it appeared that none of the individuals approaching them were armed either, though the Wookiee and the large human appeared more than capable of tearing either Vance limb from limb. The Rodian in the center, however, was walking in a fairly unaggressive manner, which, Calo considered vaguely as he backstepped towards the ramp controls, might bode well for leaving the encounter alive.

“You are Captain Calo Vance and First Officer Zac Vance?” the Rodian asked politely in thickly accented Basic. It was not, in any real sense, a question; the Rodian’s countenance made it quite clear that he already knew the answer.

“Who are you?” Calo replied warily, not deigning to dignify the Rodian’s “question” with an answer.

“I am Vaidoo of Rodia. I represent Zetta the Hutt in this sector, and as you might have guessed already, my master has an interest in the both of you given recent events on Pelagon.” the Rodian answered in his still-polite tone.

“Right… your master wouldn’t have anything to do with the Klattooinian Trade Guild, would he?” Calo ventured, dreading the answer.

“How astute of you, Captain!” Vaidoo replied cheerfully. “Indeed, my master has… interests in that organization, as well as a former interest in the operations of certain underworld figures in Tapani, though unfortunately those have been sadly weakened of late.”

“Ah… well, we didn’t kill Tash, or the infochant, we were just innocent bystanders.” Zac interjected nervously.

“Quite—we had Tash killed ourselves. He was laundering money, you know, and taking projects on the side, of which his interactions with you are one.” Vaidoo replied, to the horror of both Vances. These gentlemen meant business… just what that business was, however was still uncertain.

“Oh…” Calo started, but Vaidoo continued.

“You two were unfortunate enough to witness the incident, according to our men on the ground…”

“Actually, we across the street wai—” Zac began, but the Rodian continued to press forward as if nothing had been said.

“But, as you two were rather unlikely to go to the authorities given that you were seen exiting the building with what appeared to be material looted from the deceased, we decided against sending them after you.”

At this revelation, both Calo and Zac were surprised; how, then, did it come to pass that they encountered the killers again?

“As it happened, our team decided to do some freelance work while on planet—your infochant friend had quite a bounty on him, apparently. Of course, as that individual was feeding information to our organization about rival companies, we were rather upset about his death. That you dispatched the incompetent imbeciles that we had employed came as a pleasant surprise to my master. I am here to offer you employment in the KTG, as we feel that your skills have much to offer us.” Vaidoo finished, and twisted his snout into a smile.

Calo and Zac were both stunned at the revelation (and the fact that they still drew breath), but Calo’s mind immediately turned to the offer. He had no desire to become a Hutt’s plaything, but this was the type of offer one does not refuse.

“I’m afraid that CMG bylaws specifically prohibit members from joining other trade organizations, and as I’m rather firmly embedded… well, you can see how this presents a problem. Give your master my sincerest apologies that I cannot accept his offer and…” Calo’s eyes flew around the bay, finally settling on the ASP, which had been watching the proceedings with dull incomprehension. “…And ask him to accept this droid as a gift for his benevolence and generosity of his offer.” he finished, smiling with something of a desperate tint.

“Of course—the KTG prizes captains who adhere to agreements with their Guild… if only there were more men like you in our organization.” the Rodian replied, nodding his head to the Wookiee, who walked over and took possession of the ASP, who dumbly followed. “The S-Thread tracker we used is in the crate of preserves… feel free to keep it as my master’s gift to you. I’m afraid I’m not privy to the signal it uses, but I’m sure you will figure it out after a spell. Good day, Masters Vance.” Vaidoo finished with another snout-smile, and left the bay with his now-four companions, leaving the Vance brothers to fully absorb the shock of what just happened.

End Chapter

I'm afraid you'll find this rather anti-climatic, though I hasten to point out that our poor lads deserved a break for a change, and that they still have one mighty pissed-off member of House Mecetti to deal with in the future. Besides, who knows what is really going on with the Hutt B).
Next update will be introducing some of the most important NPCs in the campaign, so be on the lookout.



* At this point, I should like to say that I am of the firm opinion that hyperspace times are badly screwed; one should not be able to cross the galaxy in the course of a week, sorry. It makes for terrible storytelling and even worse physics (even considering the lighthanded nature of SW physics). It takes 3 months to cross two opposite points in the Outer Rim with an x1, IMC, and that’s assuming a mostly straight line (running around the Deep Core), a more probable course would be almost 5 months.

PsychoInfiltrator
16 July 2006, 05:50 AM
Besides, who knows what is really going on with the Hutt .

I wanna see how they handle the tracker. Excellent work, once again, Rostek.

I personally didn't find it anti-climatic: as you said, there's a Hutt involved. Actually, I'm kinda glad that you didn't use the time-honoured pirates-sitting-on-your-hyperspace-exit-point. I like the direction this story is taking, and I really liked how you handled the Rodian. (And no, this isn't just mere flattery-if I didn't enjoy readign this so much, I wouldn't say I did.)

Rostek
17 July 2006, 11:19 PM
Chapter VII: Fear and Loathing on Alderaan II

“You ditched the wrong droid…” Zac said dryly as he and Calo walked along the Aldera City Starport’s main concourse. The late afternoon sun still hung over the lip of the amphitheater-like building, and its bright offerings were making the walk increasingly uncomfortable for westward facing pedestrians.

“Somehow, I wasn’t terribly comfortable either with making those gentlemen wait, nor handing over a mechanical with a visual record of several of our felonies to members of an organized crime group, not to mention the records it has of its former master.” Calo replied acidly. “No, we need to pawn the droid off on someone we trust, and someone who will honor our request to hold on to it.” the elder brother finished.

“How many people fit into that category?” Zac asked with a sigh; things were becoming even more complicated.

“Well, there is Uncle Wilhelm and Uncle Bors…” Calo started.

“No dice—they had a bad run over the Rampa Rapids and they are going to have to do a complete overhaul on that old YZ of theirs.” Zac interjected, shaking his head. Their father’s brothers were the most reliable of their contacts, generally speaking, but unfortunately, it was necessary to look elsewhere.

“Really?” Calo responded with surprise; he hadn’t heard that, and was surprised Zac had.

“Yep; Dad’s last message was in the CMG packet we got this morning on landing.” Zac confirmed. “We could always go with Wedge, if he’s still in the Corellian Sector, but I’m not keen on going in there. Dad said that with Booster on Kessel, the creditors are rolling in, and he’s trying to hold off a takeover attempt from some guy named ‘Card’ or some such.” he continued with a touch of gloom.

Booster Terrik had been their father’s employer for the last ten years since the former Republic Judicial-turned-free trader had been nearly cleaned out by Moff Vorru's impeachment investigation, and the smuggler lord's imprisonment had left poor Thom Vance with remnants of the organization that were less profitable and efficient than he. More than likely this takeover would be successful, and Thom would simply be an under-official again, but such things were often messy…

“No… Wedge joined the Rebellion a couple months ago. Donated his ship and everything—he’s in fighter training school by now, no doubt.” Calo counted with a barking laugh, which cheered up their moods somewhat.

“Little Veggies Antilles a Rebel? You must be joking; he can’t even be twenty yet!” Zac replied incredulously, his face suggesting that he doubted Calo’s sincerity.

“I’m wholly serious; Dad wasn’t very happy either—Wedge was his only business contact with the Rebels. I guess he should have known better than to put a young idealist in contact with other members of his species. I take it you didn’t read Dad’s last message before today’s?” Calo said, shrugging. The two often forgot to remind each other of such things when especially busy, as they had been for the last month or so. Their father’s last four messages had not been equally disseminated, unfortunately.

“Go figure, I guess.” Zac chuckled, the memory of he and Calo, then cadets, taking the young son of one of their father’s friends to his first swoop race rushing back.

“Other than them… Edani and Dad are the only others that come to mind off hand, and Edani hates protocol droids.” Calo offered.

“Well, I saw Smooth Operator in Docking Bay D-12 when we came into land; I’ll bet if we troll the seedier bars in the starport, we should turn up Edani or Matthias, or one of the others.” Zac said with a triumphant smile.

“You saw the Smooth Operator? Why didn’t you say something?” Calo replied with a frown. Their former billet was a fairly recognizable specimen of the ponderous HT-2200 model; Calo was surprised he didn’t see her on the inbound.

“I was going to surprise you…” Zac started apologetically.

“Never mind— I… have an idea.” Calo interrupted.



Zac’s prediction proved mostly correct: the Vances found their old captain beginning his evening-long soak in Alderaanian vermouth not in a seedy cantina, but in one of the more modestly priced outdoor-seating cafes that were omnipresent in hip university cities like Aldera. Certainly enough, the burly Sacorrian human was in the company of several of his crew: long time First Mate Matthias Lenom, one of Calo’s oldest friends, and the energetic tech Carlist Pezzlo, both (like Calo and Zac) former pupils of the former flight instructor Edani.

After the obligatory handshakes and backslaps, the brothers were offered seats at the parasolled table, which were gratefully accepted—the normally temperate Alderaanian atmosphere was veritably cooking those who were foolish enough to brave the city streets that day. As Matthias poured the emerald liquid into the gathered party’s glasses, Calo decided to get his request over with.

“Captain… your next run takes you close to the Corellian Sector, doesn’t it?” he asked slowly.

“Yes; how did you know that and why do you ask.” Edani replied with equal sloth, dripping with suspicion.

“One of those intuitive things, you know… I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind delivering our dad’s birthday present to him, since Zac and I are… staying clear of the sector for a while.” Calo answered carefully, avoiding lying as much as he could, but ending up with a severely twisted truth in the end.

“I suppose; what is it?” the massive bearded man replied with a swig of his beverage.

“A protocol droid…” Calo started, bracing himself for the response.

“Fine; so long as it stays unpowered, I can deal with that… but it’ll cost you something. With costs as they are these days, I can’t afford a run through Corellia without something to cover expenses.” Edani responded with a shrug.

“Ah… that was easier than I thought it would be. Sure, will a thousand do?”

“You know as well as I do how expensive it is to bribe those Customs boys…”

“Fifteen hundred—and that’s all you’re getting, you old pirate.”

“Fine, fine, Calo—for your father, I’ll take the hit; goodness knows he and your mother bailed me out of that scandal at the College.” Edani said chidingly with a shake of his balding head. “Booster would be proud of your bargaining skills—I know you sure as hell didn’t get them from your parents.” Edani added, grinning.

“I’m sure. Gentlemen, a toast to Booster: May the bastards never get him down!” Calo responded, raising his glass with a flourish and standing. He was joined by the others, who enthusiastically toasted their former boss. Several of the café patrons threw the gaggle of smugglers a disgusted look, but none dared challenge them verbally.
Zac, who had been manipulating something under the table, finally passed a cloth bag with the proscribed amount to his former captain, and stuffed the remaining five-hundred credits of the bacta money that the two had brought for the shipping costs into his pocket.

“I trust I don’t need to count this…” Edani panned, and passed the bag to Matthias, who pocketed it with a grin.

“I’m hurt, truly.” Zac replied feigning offense.

“I watched you hand an Imperial Customs agent a briefcase full of ball bearings as a bribe without batting an eyelash, old boy; you’re not exactly an innocent.” the Operator’s first officer chuckled, leaning his wiry form across the table to slap Zac on the shoulder with a mutual laugh amongst the whole group.


It would be a long, hot evening for old friends in Aldera City…

End Chapter


Question and comments, please! :)

Two more big NPCs (or GMPCs to be more accurate...) coming up in the next couple posts, but these are the big players (mentioned or met) outside of the Lazy Rider's crew.

PsychoInfiltrator
18 July 2006, 06:22 AM
“I watched you hand an Imperial Customs agent a briefcase full of ball bearings as a bribe without batting an eyelash, old boy; you’re not exactly an innocent.”

Wow. Good idea! (I hope this gets expanded upon! ;):))


Two more big NPCs (or GMPCs to be more accurate...) coming up in the next couple posts, but these are the big players (mentioned or met) outside of the Lazy Rider's crew.

I'm hoping we find more out about these newly introduced/to be introduced characters. I'm curious as to their differing personalities.

Ronin
20 July 2006, 08:28 AM
Really, really good. :) The characters are very likeable!

When can we expect the next thrilling installment???

Rostek
20 July 2006, 09:22 PM
I'm flattered, really :D
I plan to update in the next couple of days-- depending on how my boys in the 538th pace their posts.
One of the other players caught wind I was writing this, so we may be introducing one of the PCs earlier than I thought (we never actually set down a specific "how did you meet" scenario with this one-- just a "sign on about XX months ago" type of thing).

Rostek
27 July 2006, 12:02 PM
Update is most of the way finished.
In the meantime, while I'm holding this space for the post, I was watching Men in Black, and was reminded of this Elvis song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syjkX9TuF54&search=Elvis%20promised%20land), which strikes me as the perfect theme song for this story. Enjoy B)

Chapter VIII: Fear and Loathing on Alderaan III

After a full bottle and a half of Alderaan’s most modestly priced, and a full hour and one half of increasingly vulgar reminiscing, the soon to be departing 3PO droid arrived at the café as per Zac’s comm. message.

“So that is droid you inherited from ol’ Tash. Not bad—a bit beat up, but he’ll serve as an admirable replacement for that old butler droid of your parents’.” Edani said appraisingly, with a slight slur. He needn’t have used euphemism—the café patrons had given their table a very wide berth indeed.

“Wait… Dad finally ditched The Zeeze?” Zac exclaimed with shock. ZZ-3E, an ancient butler droid, had been in their father’s possession for almost thirty years.

“Uh-huh.” Edani replied simply, his face slightly blushed from the booze.

“Well—isn’t that just serendipitous that we happened upon such a well suited replacement.” Zac said with a shrug.

“On that point,” Matthias interjected, “I believe that we should reveal our surprise; you father sent you lads a birthday present of your own. Belated, so he says, and for the both of you.” the Smooth Operator’s first officer said, tapping his comlink twice.

“How fabulous; I do hope it is more useful than that rug Mom sent us on my birthday—though it really does tie the whole lounge together.” Calo replied, tapping his glass with Zac’s who had nodded his head sagely at the addendum and gladly returned the salute.

“That depends on your point of view, then, I suppose. I for one found it terribly useful during the ride here. I’m sure you won’t mind—my touch cannot sully this gift.” Matthias answered, grinning for a reason that neither Calo’s nor Zac’s buzzed minds could immediately comprehend, yet still stuck Calo as a poor indicator.

“Oh, hello Masters; it is so wonderful that we are to be together again!” came a raggedy yet formal voice from behind the Vance brothers.

“No… Tell me it isn’t real Calo—tell me it’s the booze… please.” Zac moaned, allowing his head to drop onto the table with a clunk.

“Oh no, Master Zac—it is me, and may I say you are looking terribly shabby in comparison from when I last saw you. Fear not, I am sure that we shall fix that straight away.” ZZ-3E replied in an upbeat (for him) tone.

“Zeeze, I’m… shocked to see you.” Calo mustered, turning round in his chair to make sure his ears were not deceiving him.

“I am pleased to see you as well, Master Calo—I have just the thing for that hair of yours, with my kit. As soon as we leave, I will take care of that shaggy mess.” The Zeeze replied, noticeably altering the content of Calo’s actual *ahem* greeting so as to suit the idea that Calo was, in fact, "happy" that he had reappeared. For some reason, their father had never had to suffer The Zeeze’s exasperatingness—probably because the butler droid knew better than to tread in the territory of the indomitable Mrs. Vance (or rather, ‘Ms. Sal-Vance’), and he had found the droid an efficient secretary in his various enterprises, as well as a serviceable translator and accountant when times called for such things. Certainly such features would prove useful to Calo and Zac, but both were terrified of the consequences of this convenience.

Calo’s thoughts were interrupted by Edani’s exclamation:
“Calo, there is a Captain’s Table sabaac game at the 'Bunch of Grapes Inn' tomorrow err… afternoon I think. Naturally you are invited; low stakes, of course: times are pretty lean for most of us here in the Core. The money is to be made out on the Rim, so I hear.” the balding tramper said with minor slurring.

“Wow… that’s fantastic—Zac, I hope you don’t mind my taking my leave for tomorrow. I’m sure you can entertain yourself for the afternoon. We need a bit of restock anyway… so if you wouldn’t mind shopping, I’d be much obliged.” Calo said, casting a look Zac’s way.

“I guess. I think we should ditch that tracking beacon anyhow, just in case they try tracking us. Spending an afternoon trolling the finest the Alderaanian underground culture has to offer sounds like fun.” Zac replied—probably more keenly than he would normally be sober.

“Great… so, Edani: Are you thinking of heading Rimward? We need to lay low for a bit, so I’m likely taking the Rider out someplace remote… want to come with? We could make a killing en syndicate.” Calo asked his former captain.

Edani looked somewhat confused, but quickly recovered. “I’ll have to think about it, and then run it by the boys; but it’s something to think about.” he said distantly, the booze finally starting to assert itself.

“For my part… it sounds like a nice change of pace—the industry is getting too competitive in here with so few of us left.” Matthias said.

“Me too!” added the uncharacteristically quiet Pezzlo. “Err… I would, anyway, if Jamos and I weren’t splitting off after we stop off at Centerpoint—we’ve got a YT-1210 waiting for us there. We’ve already got an operating sector in mind.”

“Is that so—congrats, man!” Zac exclaimed, slapping Carlist on the back firmly (perhaps harder than the tech would have preferred). Jamos Selfors was the Smooth Operator’s slicer and programmer—an extremely eccentric type who Calo and Zac had generally kept their distance from. Jamos was a borderline-nutty anarchist, but perhaps the most brilliant programmer in the business. Edani was clearly sad to see him leave.

“So, you’re finally going to start flying, eh, Carlist?” Calo prodded with a laugh. Carlist had always wheedled Edani for stick time, which the captain had generally been reluctant to do while Zac (and to a less extent, Calo) had been aboard. Evidentially, since the Vances departure, Edani had relented.

The tech blushed a bit, and wordlessly attempted to further intoxicate himself.

After a few more hours of drinking, the crews dispersed back to their lodgings—and once aboard the Lazy Rider, Calo and Zac were quickly asleep after the evening of drinking.

The next morning, both suffered from a rather impressive headache, though as far as he could tell, Calo was somewhat worse off. The Zeeze had initially been shocked by the state of the ship (messy, disorganized and rarely scrubbed), but had wisely decided to simply skip the complaining and get to the business of returning the Lazy Rider to a more uncontaminated form (if she had ever even been so).

The droid had used the long evening and the assistance of a moderately indignant Cue-Nine to good effect: the deck plates were no longer sticky with grease and goodness-knows what else, the engineering spaces were (mostly) free of dust, the cockpit windows were clean and clear, and the most obvious scoring and stains upon the blue-gray and gunmetal with white trim hull were gone, though the paint was still faded and large areas of hull metal were still obvious.

The dead slumber that the alcohol had induced had been positive, at least, in that neither brother heard the vacuuming, buffing or binary-language arguing that even passers-by around the bay could pick up at times.


The Zeeze was somewhat hurt by the fact that his masters did not appear to notice his work—but his upgraded brain quickly rationalized this lack of appreciation to the copious amounts of vermouth consumed the previous evening and the obvious hangover that both Vances seemed to be nursing.

“Master Calo—I believe I can assist you and Master Zac with your current medical condition. As you may know, I have been programmed with an understanding of basic medical care and a library of alternative and holistic means of dealing with illness, including the effects of alcohol on the humanoid body…” The Zeeze offered proudly.

A groaning nod was all the encouragement the elderly butler droid required, and several minutes later, The Zeeze appeared with a pitcher of bright teal slurry and two mugs.

“Well, Masters, while I have found your galley stocks to be somewhat wanting in variety and quality, I have managed to prepare an anti-alcohol treatment that was favored by one of my prior masters. It worked quite effectively for him as I recall.” the droid said, pouring each Vance a mug-full of the concoction and bidding them to drink. With an exchange of weary glances, the brothers imbibed… and simultaneously began to retch as their throats were coated with the hideous
substance.

“Sweet sithspit… what the hell is this stuff?!” Zac gagged out.

“Oh, Masters—it would take a great deal of time to explain that. It is a quite complex recipe.” The Zeeze responded, apparently not bothered that his brew was nearly deadly itself.

“Try us.” Calo replied angrily.

“Very well—this mixture is primarily fish liver oil, tallgrain germ, Brentaalian sourfruit—whole, of course… and a liberal sprinkling of citrus extract.”

That, Calo thought, explained both the burning sensation and rancid texture. Not to mention the taste…

“Who did you serve this to before—a Hutt?” the captain exclaimed.

“Oh no sir; my master at the time was a Zabrak master of tantric meditation. He was quite the ladies man as you might imagine, and spent a good deal of time carousing. Why, I remember the occasion where he drank a whole pitcher of this brew after slaking his thirsts—which were plentiful and each great in scale—in the Pleasure Domes of Zeltros! He then continued to entertain aboard his yacht… oh, the mess that was made by that party. You would not believe how difficult it is to clean fine shimmersilk rugs of such great quantities of staining bodil—” The Zeeze said, rambling on until Calo stops him with a disgusted wave of the hand.

To his self-disgust, Calo noted that the ‘cure’ he had just imbibed had not only failed to relieve him of the headache, but had left a tang of nausea that he could not get rid of despite his own attempts to banish his ills.


Time heals all wounds… and hangovers. While not as fast as Calo would have liked, both he and his brother recovered from the previous evening’s exertions in due course. The Zeeze continued to fuss, which caused Zac to banish the droid to the market with a list of consumables that the ship required a refill of. Fresh food, liquor and toiletries: the grand trifecta of the independent operator. The ship’s liquor cabinet was severely depleted, which shocked Calo when he attempted earlier to find a beverage suitable to act as hair of the canoid. Three bottles of above average Alderaanian emerald, a bottle of fine Corellian red, two and one half of a disappointingly mediocre Taanabian white… and a jug of Corellian Rum. Hardly an impressive display; this consignment was rather depressing to both Vances, who, despite having a fair eye for the intricacies of wine also fancied themselves proper counterculture members, and thus the lack of suitable entertainment beverages (save the Rum, which only Calo drank with any frequency) was upsetting. Armed with a list including a demand for Alderaanian wormwood-containing vermouth and a keg of decent stout porter, The Zeeze reluctantly left the ship with the beat up repulsor sled in tow, still wondering exactly what he had done to earn the ire of his masters.

End Chapter


(Author’s Note: The Zeeze believes himself to be Jeeves, where he clearly is Bertie Wooster; to that end, I included an Easter Egg for you Wodehouse fans within the “first personal act of assistance” between the new valet and his charges B))


The next chapter is similarly story based-- the Captain's Table sabaac game will be like the carousing, save more sober, and Zac will go out and about the Black Market and try and modernize our equipment (and get rid of the tracker).


Wow. Good idea! (I hope this gets expanded upon! )

Point of fact, Calo is the better liar of the two-- and generally handles the con half of the business, in addition to being a good navigator and gunfighter. Zac is the pilot and is the superior brawler and computers guy. Of course, earlier in their careers they weren't as specialized as they are now.

Ronin
29 July 2006, 09:14 PM
Excellent! :D I love butler characters, especially unappreciated ones!

Rostek
30 July 2006, 10:29 PM
Originally posted by Ronin
Excellent! :D I love butler characters, especially unappreciated ones!

Oh, The Zeeze is appriciated far more than he deserves :P
Seriously though, he's both proved a stone tied to our ankles and a boon to the party at various times. A bit of SkillWare and he has filled in once piloting the Lazy Rider in a tight spot. Not that I would ever (ever!) want to repeat the experience, but our PCs owe their non-imprisoned existances to The Zeeze, a fact which is at least grudgingly acknowledged by pretty much everyone (save Zac, who was unconcious at the time and refused to believe it, and the ship's engineer, who hates The Zeeze with a passion surpassing even the Vances').

Chapter IX: Fear and Loathing on Alderaan IV

After leaving the Rider with their respective tasks in mind, Calo and Zac bid each other farewell for the moment, and went their separate ways into the starport.

Zac’s destination was the shop of “Honest” Marcove, a questionably named Besalisk male who serves as one of the primary illegal dealmakers in this particular starport. Those individuals he connects his customers to often leave much to be desired, but his prices are reasonable—“You get what you pay for” is a central maxim in the Alderaanian underworld.

Despite the planet’s reputation as a pacifistic paradise, Alderaan has been around far too long to not have a hearty and surviving criminal element. Despite the reforms imposed by Viceroy Organa, many have found that remaining true to their old habits remains a profitable career. While weapons deals remain somewhat tricky given the lack of supply, virtually everything else is fair game; societies which place themselves above the rest of the galaxy in one department seem to do so in other categories as well, and the use of illegal substances is a boon industry. Of course, the Vance brothers have, as of yet, refused to carry such cargo and, more to the point, don’t have any on them to barter with.

As the credits that were looted in the Tapani are easily traceable large denomination “blacks”, all that was left for the freebooters’ petty cash fund was the remains of the bacta money—part of which Calo had taken to gamble with. Zac was left with a few hundred credits, the three ‘hot’ heavy blaster pistols and the S-Thread tracker to purchase parts, whatever food that The Zeeze had managed to dissemble out of their prepared shopping list, and find a few clean weapons for the ship’s gun cabinet. Calo had figured that Zac’s allotment was probably enough to accomplish these things, especially if his brother could get a decent price for the tracker (probable, given that such things are rare—and of high value for a certain portion of the underground’s population).

The Zeeze had been given the preserves to sell or trade, though Calo lamented that the cargo would not fetch a price nearly as high at this market as they would have on Pelagon; still, it was likely that the preserves would cover a fair part of the basic galley provisions.

Calo had only five hundred credits to gamble with; the freighter captain wasn’t particularly worried, as he was a skilled sabaac player (especially in comparison to Edani, who may as well broadcast his hand over subspace for all the quality of his sabaac face)… but some trepidation still hung over him. It was good chunk of their petty cash, and aside from Edani, Calo had little idea of who the other captains would be. Still, this was the Captain’s Table; an august institution that many a spacer would kill to be a part of. Calo could hardly pass such an opportunity up, especially if he wanted to establish his street credibility as a tramper captain.


At the Grapes, Calo found the circular booth that was to serve as the game table easily enough; there were five individuals at the table, apparently quite familiar with one another. There was Edani, of course, who was speaking with a scruffy looking human with brown hair and a confident grin, and Kark Sei’liat, a Bothan—captain of the old Barloz-class medium freighter Fond Wanderlust—who spoke to a blocky and scarred human female that flew a brightly painted, mynock-shaped CorelliSpace ED-11(see below). A Gand spacer that Calo didn’t know sat quietly, apparently unaware of, or ignoring, the nervous/curious glances of the young looking Wroonian male who, Calo suspected, flew the beat-up looking Z-10 Seeker that sported dual spoilers, and no doubt burned a great deal past legal sublight speeds.

Edani beamed, and held up his hand to stop conversation, which subsided… and also caused the side effect of the entire table turning to stare at the newcomer.

“This, lady and gentlemen, is Calo Vance, of the Lazy Rider. He’s the best navigator this side of Yag’dhul, even if he is terrible at math.” the Saccorian captain said happily. He had clearly already begun drinking, Calo guessed.

There was a great deal of nodding and acknowledgement, especially from Kark, whom Calo already knew, and the Wroonian, who seemed keen on everybody (as per his species’ custom). Neither the Gand nor the one Edani had been speaking to deigned to offer their names, and the human woman didn’t even bother to provide anything beyond a curt nod.

Despite this lukewarm welcome, Calo took a seat on the outside of the booth, his right side facing the double doors of the poorly lit tavern area.


The games went well enough—neither the human woman nor the Wroonian were very good card players, and the Gand’s advantage of an unreadable countenance was the only thing keeping him/it/? in the game. Kark had been forced to leave early, citing the arrival of his contact at the docking bay; Edani was holding his own, thanks to good luck more than anything, but the lion’s share of the losses were going the way of the other human—who spoke with an obvious Corellian accent but was mum about himself, other than mentioning a few stories of evading Imperials and bounty hunters that struck Calo as a tad far fetched. Calo’s stack had grown only slightly, much to his disappointment, but had at least the benefit of being the most interesting stack of the groups. The Wroonian had started to barter odd items in place of cash rather early into the evening. Calo had never actually heard of such a custom on Wroona, but figured that, as long as he broke even on actual cash, he could accept items in place of credits. Others at the table had been less accepting, and the unfortunate blue-skinned humanoid was down to an unfortunately small pile of credits.

“I think I am going to retire while I still have fuel money. Thanks for the game, fellows; I’ll see you on the lanes.” the unlucky captain said, getting up and scraping what credits he had left into his belt pouches, then turned to leave the inn.

“Well… I suppose I should leave you heavyweights to your own devices as well. Good flying Edani…” the human woman said, and started to get up.

“I think not, Captain Galena.” The Gand interjected calmly. The woman, surprised by the use of her name, was even more surprised when the stunblast-charged mist-web of the stokhli spray stick hit her solidly in the chest. Calo and Edani, who had gotten up to allow Galena to exit, were initially too shocked to immediately react. The other human, who had been seated next to the Gand (who sat opposite from Calo’s seating position), attempted to slam the insectoid in the chest with clasped fists, but succeeded only in hitting the bench where the fast moving alien had been only moments before.

Calo dove at the now standing Gand, who was trying to haul Galena toward him by the attached line of solidified spray.

The massive human’s bulk evinced a sickening crunching sound upon impact with the aggressor, not unlike the sound of a roach being stepped on. While Edani attempted to extricate his friend from the web-like embrace of the spray, the other human from the table stood to cover the ground-bound combatants with what appeared to be a disposable microblaster. It was hardly necessary: the Gand was unconscious, a condition which was revealed as Calo painfully rolled off of his target. One of the Gand’s chitinous plates had made for a painful landing, and the freighter captain’s stomach was pounding with thumping pain.

The other human rifled through the unconscious alien’s pockets, and produces a membership ID card for the Bounty Hunters Guild.

“What we have here is a Findsman… Ukleth, according to this.” he said disgustedly. Calo noticed, as he painfully got up, that the other man also had Corellian Bloodstripe markers on his trousers. “Who invited him?” the man asked, casting a wary eye on the upright members of the erstwhile game.

“Not me.”

“Nor I.”

”Well, I sure as hell didn’t!” finished the partially untangled woman angrily.

“I didn’t either. You suppose Choosy screwed you, Galena?” the man asked, apparently referring to the young Wroonan who had just so recently left. The blast of starship engines boomed in the background… the sound of a ship leaving in a big hurry—and breaking the sound barrier very close to the surface.

“I’d say that’s a big yes.” Calo panned with disgust. He eyed the discarded spray stick lying next to the hunter.

“Is everyone alright?” asked the innkeeper, who had joined the group noticeably late, wielding a stun baton as if he hadn’t ever had an intention of assisting.

Nods and groans answer him in the affirmative, if not in ways that compliment the keeper’s character.

“Say… if no one is interested in the spray stick…” Calo started, tossing the notion out as tactfully as possible. Calo knew Edani collected weapons, and that Galena would have “first dibs”, but the idea of owning such a tool was worth floating the idea to Calo.

“I don’t want it.” the other Corellian man said. “I prefer something a bit more direct.” he added with a lopsided grin.

“I’ve already got one.” Edani replied with a shrug. “Galena—you want it?” the balding captain asked the now-free woman smuggler, who looked at the thing with scorn.

“Go ahead, kid. Finding ammo for that thing will be a pain I don’t need—and like Captain Solo, I like my blaster just fine.” she replied with shrug, nodding to the other Corellian.

“Thanks, Captain… I appreciate it.” Calo replied, rubbing his now heavily bruising abdomen.

“That’s Galena to you, Captain Vance—and you had better get that looked at.” Galena replied, her face softening some and finally cracking the beginnings of a smile for the first time that evening.

“Calo, then… Galena.” Calo said, picking up the Spray Stick and hiding it in his coat. “Let me check this guy for reloads before I go—and, of course, my winnings.” Calo replied. There was little else on the body worth taking, at least nothing that was readily apparent; with the authorities on the way, there was no time for a thorough search, but given the Alderaanian ban on weapons, Calo doubted that this hunter would have risked carrying anything more.

As Calo painfully got up, Captain Solo handed him the winnings that the younger Corellian had accumulated over the night.

“You sure you don’t need any help?” he asked, sounding only partly sincere

“I’m sure… Edani—would you mind dropping this stuff and the Spray Stick off at the Rider. I’m sure the medics will wonder if I’m carrying an illegal weapon…” Calo replied, handing the newly acquired weapon over. Edani nodded and patted him on the back, then pocketed the loot just before the authorities arrived.


Calo spent a few minutes in the company of the medics, who tutted over him for a while, but quickly applied a hypo and told the freighter captain to avoid heavy lifting for a few days. After that, it was a long, meandering walk back to his ship; it was still daylight outside, and Zac wouldn’t be back until late evening for certain… and Calo dreaded spending any length of time alone with The Zeeze—especially with an injury for the droid to righteously fuss over. The tramper donned the hat he had won from the traitorous Wroonian—an old style Corellian Navy officer’s duty hat. It was old, with a battered and lumpy appearance in cloth that may have once been white, but which was now a gray affair that still contrasted with the black bill and black-backgrounded insignia in the center of the forehead. The insignia was simple, a gold embroidered star superimposed over a silver anchor, an acknowledgement of the Navy’s water-bound heritage. It fit perfectly, and Calo felt that it was the most useful of the trinkets he had won.

The butler droid waved happily at Calo as his master entered the bay, announcing that he had been “mistakenly locked out of the ship”. Calo was disinclined to relieve the droid of the notion that any mistake had been made.

“Excellent news, sir—it appears that we have guests!” the droid droned amicably, pointing over Calo’s shoulder.


It is Him. She thought, nodding surely. The fat, bearded one in the threadbare coat, strange hat and Corellian Bloodstriped pants. The man’s unkempt dark hair and round, dropping face surrounded the pale blue eyes that were hard to mistake. He looked a great deal like his father, that much was certain—in both the best and worst aspects. The coat partially hid a spare tire around his abdomen, but the excess bulk was much less than she had expected from the description she had been given. If he lost a few kilos, he might actually be moderately handsome. She mused further.

That didn’t matter, of course—She had more important things to worry about, and the fat man was a necessary side-trip.

He’s seen us… I guess that I had better not put this off any longer. She thought with a sigh, and reached into her pocket with one hand as she waved.

“Calo!”

End Chapter

Aren't I naughty then? :P
After this encounter is resolved (and that other major NPC is introduced), we'll get an update on Zac and see how well the current groups' activities complemented each other (bwhahahaha!).
And, as I noted above, the CorelliSpace ship Captain Galena (the Red Starbird, though that wasn't mentioned above, she's a recurring character in the game) has a bit attached. I did a rough sketch of it in Paint, and will stat it out for d6 and d20 in due course (probably post it in the Gaming forums, and I'll link it here).

Rostek
5 August 2006, 03:51 PM
Chapter X: Family Tradition I

Calo, naturally, nearly soiled himself at the initial display. After all, in his line of work, a strange woman shouting at you from the darkened corner of a starport bay and going for something in her pocket was generally a sign of impending doom. The Corellian smuggler shrieked, and ran as best as he could to the locked ramp and tried to punch in the entry code as the figure… or figures advanced along the shadow created by the starport tower. The Zeeze shuffled towards the interlopers and waved, much to Calo’s horror.

A thought occurred to Calo—and he ran over to The Zeeze’s cart, grabbing the stokhli spray stick from the pile of his winnings (thankfully, Edani had been punctual), and waving it at the figure(s) menacingly.
“Who the HELL are you!?” he shouted, more than a little crazily. The captain’s eyes were wide and darting wildly to look for any more enemies that may be approaching.

“Oh dear—you don’t remember!” the woman pouted slightly, not the least worried about the weapon. The figure—and now Calo was sure there was another person there—behind her was less cavalier, and cowered slightly, and the bundle it carried shook noticeably. The woman’s hand finally emerged from her coat pocket, and a printed picture, slightly crumpled and faded from age, emerged.

The figures both around this point emerged from the darkness of the shadows. The woman’s face was vaguely familiar to Calo, but he had met a great many people in his travels, and could not be sure. Still, she didn’t look much like a bounty hunter, in an out-of-fashion casual dress, wide brimmed woven hat and heeled shoes; and the accent… Agamarian if Calo had ever heard it. The woman’s companion—a boy in his early teens (at most), was also somewhat overdressed for spice jacking.

“Well, Calo—I’m Bria… Aunt Bria. Does that ring any bells?” the woman said helpfully. It did, in fact, ring a great many bells in Calo’s head. It was strange, Calo mused, because upon cursory examination, most would probably choose him as the thirty-six year old of the two. Bria used to look after Zac and himself while their father was getting his shipping career up and running, Calo recalled… and he also recalled that when Calo was eleven, she stopped. The spacer vaguely recalled a younger former business associate of his father’s and a lot of yelling from a great many adults; then, nearly a year later, the yelling started again, then stopped abruptly, and Calo hadn’t seen Bria since—and he had sure as hell never seen the kid before.

“Of… course. So… you’re in the Core again. Last I heard you were out on…” Calo forced out, still eyeing the woman with some level of trepidation, and leaving the last blank for her to fill in—he still wasn’t entirely sure of her identity.

“Agamar; yes, well, I follow the opportunities, and Agamar didn’t have any left, so I came here.” Bria paused, then looked briefly as if she had forgotten something, then brightened up quickly.

“Where are my manners? Calo, this is your cousin Cole—” she indicated the boy, who did not change his expression of anxiousness, “—and Cole; this is your older cousin Calo!”

The spacer nodded with a forced smile, which did not incline Cole to respond.

“Well… isn’t this wonderful?” Bria announced rhetorically, trying to change the awkward subject.

“I’d heard that you and Zac had gotten your own ship, and well, I was stuck in the Core…” the woman started pleasantly.

“Right… well… where do you need to go? We could drop you off if it is on our route.” he replied carefully, trying not to commit to anything too broad.

“Oh, that is alright, dear—I’ve met someone who can take me out to where I’m going. It is just that your poor cousin Cole here…” she indicated the boy, who remained nervously silent, “Well, my pilot doesn’t have room for him for such a long journey… and I am in a severe rush.” Bria finished, spreading her hands out in a gesture of helplessness.

“I… see. Where is it you plan on going, if I might ask?” Calo responded, eyeing the kid seriously for the first time. He was rail thin, with short blond hair and pale skin. Calo noted no family resemblance other than Cole’s eyes, which looked their grandmother’s, but not strikingly so. The spacer still was not convinced that this was not some massive set up, and did not clip the spray stick to his belt, leaving the weapon free in his hand.

“Well, I am going out to attend the technical institute on Eriadu… and making a few stops on the way, of course. If you would take Cole out there within, say, six weeks, I’m sure my contact out there will be able to get you something.” She replied hopefully. Cole’s countenance briefly shone a belief of betrayal and anger, but such looks disappeared as quickly as they came. Calo was not encouraged.

“I… supposed Eriadu is technically on our way, but I’ll have to ask Zac as to how much of a deviation it will be from Coyn.” Calo lied. He knew very well that Eriadu was on the way… but he had to run this whole thing by Zac before committing. He was fairly sure by now that the woman claiming to be his aunt was, in fact, his aunt… but that hardly precluded a double-cross. Bria had that poor of a reputation, the deservedness of which Calo did not know.

Calo punched in the code that unlocked the ship, and lowered the ramp for The Zeeze, who had wisely decided against jumping into the conversation, to enter with his purchases.

“So…” Calo ventured, “What have you been up to, Aunt Bria? I haven’t seen you in… almost fifteen years.”

“Fourteen, actually.” Bria corrected with a chuckle. Cole continued his wary looking about as the three entered the ship.

“As a matter of fact, I’ve been on Agamar… mostly. Cole and I have spent the last few years traveling, since he hasn’t been to the Core since he was a newborn.” She elaborated. The boy’s eyes closed at any mention of himself—especially in this embarrassing context, though it gave his older cousin the impression that “traveling” was a very liberal euphemism.

Calo, despite his better judgment, walked ahead of the two probable relatives, leading them to the lounge to wait for Zac. That movement was entirely unnecessary; Zac appeared in the corridor to the lounge, holding what appeared to be a young canine of Alderaanian extraction and wearing an excited expression:

“Hey, Calo—look what I got. Now, I know I should have said something, but, frankly, it gets a little boring with us and Cue-Nine, and The Zeeze only adds negatively…” the younger Vance started. Calo held up a hand and shook his head; Bria and Cole appeared around the turn, looking strangely at the exuberant Zac.

Aunt Bria brightened as recognition worked its evil magic.

"Oh my goodness, Zac, you've gotten so big." Aunt Bria exclaimed
“Look what I've got.” Calo replied with a deadpan scowl only Zac could see.

End Chapter


Prior to anyone saying anything, I must say that I find this installment somewhat tedious, though it is absolutely required for the plot of the first live adventure. Cole, if you haven't guessed, is the third of five PCs; the player was consulted, of course, for his entrance (since all the PCs were together in the first place), and he told me to rip off Secondhand Lions (;)), which is actually still appropriate given the relationships Cole has with his older cousins and the general nature of his mother as a plot hook.

Also, I'm instituting an update rule: I'll post an update if I get at least one comment so I know people are still reading, or two weeks passes (do give me a few days at least between updates, people ;)) so that I can self-aggrandize at a more modest pace :D

PsychoInfiltrator
7 August 2006, 07:16 AM
Also, I'm instituting an update rule: I'll post an update if I get at least one comment so I know people are still reading, or two weeks passes (do give me a few days at least between updates, people ) so that I can self-aggrandize at a more modest pace

Well, I'd say it's excellent and I want more after every installment, but that gets a bit repetitive after awhile. Makes it look like I'm spamming or sucking up to you.

Rostek
7 August 2006, 10:13 AM
Originally posted by PsychoInfiltrator


Well, I'd say it's excellent and I want more after every installment, but that gets a bit repetitive after awhile. Makes it look like I'm spamming or sucking up to you.

True-- which is why I added the time limit so that my loyal readers (you and Ronin ;)) aren't denied continuance.
Btw... look for an update in a couple of days, bumper B)

PsychoInfiltrator
7 August 2006, 11:48 AM
True-- which is why I added the time limit so that my loyal readers (you and Ronin ;)) aren't denied continuance.

What about Terras?


Btw... look for an update in a couple of days, bumper B)

Well, you asked for it...

Stormrider
7 August 2006, 01:18 PM
True-- which is why I added the time limit so that my loyal readers (you and Ronin ) aren't denied continuance.

Some of us "Loyal readers" haven't posted yet.. :D

I've been keeping an eye on this whole story and have found it to be both entertaining and amusing..do keep up the good work Rostek!

Ronin
8 August 2006, 06:37 AM
Originally posted by Ronin
Excellent stuff Rostek!
I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. :)

What he said.
;)

tauchiss
9 August 2006, 04:00 AM
Originally posted by Stormrider


Some of us "Loyal readers" haven't posted yet.. :D

I've been keeping an eye on this whole story and have found it to be both entertaining and amusing..do keep up the good work Rostek!

Ya.


Really good work Rostek.

Rostek
10 August 2006, 08:37 PM
Ah, see loyal readers, that is what I like to see ;)

Chapter XI: Family Tradition II

To Calo’s annoyance, Zac was not only not opposed to taking young Cole aboard, he was enthusiastic in his support of the idea. Calo, the more naturally paranoid of the two, was eventually convinced on the notion that Cole seemed to be something of a wuss and thus improbable for an assassin.

Aunt Bria had a few last words with her son before leaving for her bay and pressing the young man’s spacer’s chest into his arms. Calo and Zac watched the conversation from the safe distance of the ramp, and could not make much of the conversation out; Cue-Nine, however, had extended a sensor antenna from his covert place at the top of the ramp, and recorded the entire thing for later perusal. One could never be too careful, after all.

The time finally came for Bria to leave; she waved goodbye to her son and nephews with her typical energy just before exiting the bay doors. With a dejected expression, Cole turned around and slowly walked toward the Lazy Rider’s ramp, clutching his spacer’s chest. Zac motioned behind his back for Cue-Nine to move out of sight, which the droid dutifully accomplished.


“So… kid. I guess you can put your stuff in the passenger quarters.” Zac said as soothingly as possible.

“Uh… actually no… he can’t.” Calo interjected, somewhat embarrassed. “If you recall, Zac, we stuffed the excess furniture from the passenger cabins into one room when we converted the other cabins into lockers and extra crew space. I don’t remember cleaning it or the passenger ‘fresher since we finished the internal refit.” he explained. Zac winced as the memory came back. His expression changed into one of mischievous maliciousness.

“Fortunately, we have the perfect man for the job of rearranging the furniture so our new passenger can make himself at home.” he said with a chuckle.

“Quite right… Oh Zeee-eeeze.” Calo called out in a sing-song. Cole remained confused.

“Who?” he asked in a broken, adolescent voice. He was answered wordlessly as The Zeeze trundled up from wherever it was that he spent his time.

“Hello Masters, and Young Temporary Master—how may I assist you?” the droid said in his typical idiom.

“You can rearrange the furniture in the remaining passenger cabin so the kid here can get to a bunk… and clean out the passenger ‘fresher. You may need to use the external scouring chemicals… it has been like that for over a year, if I understood the auction rep right.” Calo responded. The droid bent in acknowledgement, and quickly left to accomplish his task, happy that he could further the cause of cleaning the ship.

“So… we don’t really know much about kids.” Zac admitted.

“So… if you need anything, I’d recommend figuring out how to take care of it yourself.” Calo finished, spreading his hands in honest helplessness

Cole nodded wordlessly, and shuffled towards the lounge without comment.

“Quiet… unobtrusive…” Calo observed slowly.

“See, I told you it wouldn’t be that bad.” Zac replied, slapping Calo on the shoulder.

“We haven’t even taken off yet.” His brother observed as they both turned for the cockpit.


“So, what did you get for that tracker?” Calo asked as he and Zac prepped the Lazy Rider for takeoff.

“A few thousand credits, a cylinder of ryll, a new TransGalMeg MasterCraft tool kit…and this.” Zac replied, holding up a very nice-looking Caliban X heavy blaster.

“Buying yourself a present with our operating money? I’m ashamed.” Calo deadpanned.

Zac snorted: “Sure. I also got a tip for a good cargo deal and a place to sell our hot blasters. Iziz, on Onderon; we should have plenty of time to get there and get out to Eriadu for our passenger. I figure we have an extra two weeks, give or take.” He said from his chair.

“Actually, we will be cutting it close—we’ve got an appointment on Elshandruu Pica in a month with Edani. Still, we can get on the Rimma from Abregado-Rae, and then get on the Quence Pipeline from Sluis Van. It will be a simple matter to double back to Eriadu. We should be there with a day or two to spare.” Calo revealed matter-of-factly.

“How are you making appointments without me?” Zac asked, incredulous.

“How are you making appointments without me?” Calo riposted with a smug grin.

“Fair point, but crap—Quence is a long-ass way off the beaten path. It’s past Eriadu and off the Rimma far enough that, given that we now have to go off to Seswenna before getting back to business in Elrood, we won’t be trading seriously for two months!” complained Zac.

“Why do you think I was reluctant to take on the kid?” Calo retorted, tossing his brother’s earlier enthusiasm back in his face.

“Fine. Why do we have to be there anyway? What does Edani want?”
“We’re going to be talking about coordinating our ops in the Elrood.” Calo explained.

“Edani is headed to the Rim? I thought he was sticking to the Core Runs.” Zac asked, surprised.

“He was, but the Imps are sucking the Core Runs dry, and the damned Red Star Corp is getting another subsidy from the Imperial Senate next month, if the trades are right. It’s getting just as bad as when the Trade Federation ran loose.” Calo spat, “No, the Rim is where the money’s at—that’s why we’re headed there.” he finished.

“Makes sense, I guess. We’ve got thirty tons of Nerf leather loaded up—the Beast Rider reenactors love that stuff—a couple tons of textiles, and a half dozen crates of dye. We’ll be running a bit low this time around.” Zac said, handing Calo the manifest.

“I see you entered young Cole as a cabin boy.” the older Vance commented without particular emotion.

“Yep.”

“A bit clichéd, don’t you think?”

“We’ll get less scrutiny if we’re only hauling cargo. Passengers make Customs agents nervous these days; the CMG Quarterly had a study that said light freighters running passengers were twenty-three percent more likely to be searched when boarded.” Zac replied.

“Seems counterintuitive.” said Calo, raising an eyebrow.

“I know. Still, ‘better safe’…” Zac trailed off.

“I guess.”



The tower cleared the Vances for takeoff rather quickly—a testament to Alderaanian efficiency. The Lazy Rider cleared the planet’s grav well at a leisurely pace, as Delaya’s orbit still blocked the hyperspace lane for a few more hours. Cole came to the cockpit some time after they broke atmosphere, but declined to break the awkward silence that permeated the cockpit.

A CEC corvette floated into view, bearing red diplomatic colors; Zac gently waggled the freighter in salutation.

“That’s the Tantive IV—Princess Leia’s ship. She's a senator... and not bad looking in a jail-bait kind of way.” Calo pointed out to Cole, who leaned in between the two forward seats for a better view with apparent awe. The Corvette signaled the proper reply and the two ships passed each other gracefully. Calo and Zac still recalled some of the traditions from their chivalric past in the CDF, after all.

“That’s big ship.” the boy said simply, though there was an air of query within the statement. Calo and Zac smiled to themselves somewhat sardonically.

“Not really—she’s pretty small for a naval combatant class.” Calo replied.

“Yeah—we did our midshipman cruises on one just like it: the old CDS Berethon IX, CT-152.” Zac said fondly.

“You were in the military?” Cole responded with surprise. To be fair, neither Vance looked the part anymore; Zac was still fairly fit and kept his hair short, but Calo was far too haggard and out of shape to fit the type, at least to the average romantic.

“Oh yes,” Zac replied with a chuckle, “I flew an old CorelliSpace-licensed Skipray-A patrol blastboat for two years, and Calo was third officer of a gunship for a while.”

“Were you ever in any battles?” Cole responded—now actually interested in something for the first time since he had come aboard the ship. His mother had said he was fond of reading about starships and the galaxy; as with the fare favored by most boys, these books no doubt contained copious of battle.

“I shot down a few Die-Wings in my day, but Calo is the real war hero…” Zac started.

“Zac…” Calo said in a dire tone of warning, and cast Zac a sidelong stare. Neither his brother nor his young cousin seemed to take heed.

“Die-Wing?”

“It’s a kind of cobbled-together fighter, a really ugly one.” Zac replied patiently; he was getting a rise out of Calo and making sure their six weeks together went smoother—a good day anytime as far as he was concerned. It helped in the healing process, as far as he was concerned.

“Oh… what did he do? I saw the Bloodstripes, but what do those mean?”

“Well, you see, there was a pirate gang that operated out of Peregrine’s Eye, a supergiant with a big asteroid field in the Rimward corner of the Corellian Sector…” Zac started, but Calo cut him off with a sigh.

“We were going to clear them out, because CorSec had evidence that they were in league with the Thalassians and were taking slaves out of the Clone Wars Refugee Resettlement Initiative flights.” he said, eyes fixed forward.

“I was third on the gunship Firelance. We were part of a six-ship task force that was to cruise into the asteroid base and start blasting; that was about the extent of the plan. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way.” Calo continued, exhaling heavily.

“I can not—for reasons that will become apparent in a moment—remember exactly how everything went down in the first engagement. With that having been said, there were a few important events that are key to the rest of the story: first, the pirates had nearly a dozen assault shuttles and eight Mark I Z-95s in their fleet, in addition to the half-dozen armed freighters they told us were there. As I understand things, we lost half of our fighters and one of the Consular-class pickets, and the flagship ran into an asteroid and lost propulsion. She was a CEC frigate, the Coronet, and the pirates boarded her and took her before we had figured out what happened. The survivors set up a barricade of the hyperspace entry point and waited for the pirates to come out. They didn’t, predictably, so the commander had to come up with an alternative plan.
According to the citation, I was stupid enough to volunteer myself to command a counter-boarding operation to retake or self-destruct the Coronet, an idea so obscenely, moronically, and absolutely suicidal I have trouble believing that I actually came up with it.”

Calo shook his head and continued:

“As per my ingenious plan,” he started bitterly, “we borrowed an impounded smuggling ship from CorSec, and I led a party of eighteen picked men and one R3 droid into the middle of an asteroid field infested with pirates… Once again, I would like to reiterate that I have my doubts as to my role in the genesis of this endeavor. In any case, this smuggler’s ship had a baffled drive and a rather impressive stealthing system, which in combination with the starfighter raid on the pirates’ outer defenses allowed us to slip through to the pirate base without incident. The rest of the fleet followed up with an assault on the base as we docked, which preoccupied the defenders. According to the report, there were only fifty pirates or so on the ship—a skeleton crew and techs, really, I would suppose—but they insisted on resisting, and the boarding party took casualties. The pirates barricaded themselves on the bridge, so I directed the party to main engineering, where we initiated the self-destruct sequence. As we headed for the escape pods, a pirate counter-boarding team hit our position, and killed several more members of the team. At this point, I was disabled by a concussion rifle blast while defending the entrance to the escape pod section; while I was unconscious, the leader of this pirate squad decided to finish me off, and shot me twice in the face and jaw. Luckily for me, he was a terrible shot, and used a hold out… so I survived—as you can tell. One of the other survivors stuffed me into the last escape pod, and ejected us as the self-destruct hit the thirty second mark. I do remember seeing the ship blow while the other two worked on me… it was impressive, and the backfire from the refueling couplings destroyed most of the asteroid base. We were picked up by one of the ships in the task force, and I was rushed to the CDF base hospital at Nubia for emergency surgery. They repaired the cosmetic damage to my face and the structural damage to my upper jaw, but I lost most of my memory from the previous eighteen months and during the recovery phase I kind of… lost it when I found out that my soon-to-be realized engagement had imploded messily a year before, an event that I could now legitimately say wasn’t my fault and not my desire.” Calo paused to allow this to sink in to his rapt audience. Zac was very much aware of all of this, having heard the story before, but the narrative was always very fascinating to hear from one who was there-but-not-there; Cole was both shocked and enamored by the graphic yet heroic nature of the story.

“They decorated me, promoted me, then retired me in a span of five minutes—I went home to Corellia very confused, disoriented and ahead a few grams of titanium holding my upper mandible together.” Calo chuckled. “I signed on to my old flight instructor’s old courier, stayed there a couple months until Zac’s service period was up, then talked him into signing on that captain’s new ship. That was almost three years ago, and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.”

The rest of the ship’s journey to the jump point was not interrupted further, and Cole’s first night as a cabin boy went quietly without incident as the freighter hurtled through hyperspace.


End Chapter

Okay-- Onderon will be the next update, I welcome questions and comments!

PsychoInfiltrator
11 August 2006, 06:17 AM
Yay! The next update came before I leave for my volunteering! Yay!

In short, another astoundingly awesome update, as per ususal Rostek. Though I'm afraid for the next week you'll have to rely on other people for comments.

Stormrider
11 August 2006, 07:29 AM
Very good Rostek! "chuckles" The ZeZe cracks me up...and the description of the space battle against the pirates was awseome..do keep up the good work!

Out of curiosity..is there any chance we could see stats for Calo, Zac, and Cole?

Rostek
11 August 2006, 05:11 PM
Originally posted by Stormrider
Very good Rostek! "chuckles" The ZeZe cracks me up...and the description of the space battle against the pirates was awseome..do keep up the good work!

Thanks :)
The ex-fiance/cheesy love-interest is a major NPC in the second adventure we ran (in about 5 months game time, I think; the previously quoted "a couple years" was a typo-- should have been months), while we were still in free-form,, so she'll be met in a while, when the crew is in the middle of the Elrood (we're currently on adventure 5, for comparison).
I should also point out the in-joke about buying presents for one self with the operating money; like looting, our guys are pretty cavalier about doing that, as we aren't actually "paid" so much as funnel all of our cash towards the ship and the operation thereof (and/or paying off certain NPCs, which could technically be put under that catagory). We didn't set up a shareout system in the beginning, we just kind of split the loot toward our "skill sets" and used payments for ops to fix/mod the ship. Obviously, there is a great deal of stuff that doesn't get looted very often that is still kind of required to live (clothes, specific kinds of weapons, armor that isn't "pre-shot", etc.)



Out of curiosity..is there any chance we could see stats for Calo, Zac, and Cole?

Why yes there is. We ran the first several sessions free-form, but when we picked up a new player (the first of two, the second starts next session, and I'm interested to see what our first non-dude player comes up with), we switched to d6. The GM was pretty generous with the conversion from our "primary skill" lists that we used initially to figure out who was what, though Zac and Calo are kind of overlapping. All the more reason to throw big time baddies at us... damn him.

But here are the three that we currently have on the scene as of a couple weeks ago; Cole's player is pretty free with the CP during play, whereas I tend to hoard mine for advancement.

Calo Vance played by me
Type: Tramp Freighter Captain

DEX: 3D
Blaster: 5D+2, brawling parry 3D+2, dodge 4D+2, melee combat 3D+2, melee parry 4D, vehicle blasters 3D+2
KNO: 4D
Bureaucracy 4D+2, cultures 4D+1, law enforcement 5D, planetary systems 5D+1, streetwise 5D, tactics 4D+2, value 4D+2, willpower 5D
MECH: 3D
Astrogation 5D, space transports 5D, starship gunnery 5D+1, starship shields 3D+2
PER: 3D
Bargain 4D, command 4D, con 5D, gambling 4D+2, hide 4D, persuasion 3D+2
STR: 3D
Brawling 4D+1, lifting 3D+2, stamina 4D+2
TECH: 2D+2
Blaster repair 3D+2, computer programming/repair 4D, security 4D, space transport repair 4D+1, starship weapon repair 4D
Force Sensitive
Force Skills:
Sense 1D

Equipment: DL-6H heavy blaster pistol, protective vest (see below), majority share of Lazy Rider and all aboard her (inc. armory, tooling shop, etc.), spacer's chest, comlink, CDF uniform (rumpled and packed up).

Quote: "I resent the implication that I am engaged in illegal activities!"

Personality: You're an easy-going guy, generally. Your military service left some scars, sure, but so long as you keep it together, the bastards won't get you down... or so the theory goes. You wanted to be an academic, and bring that sort of manipulative and underhanded mindset to your business: don't do anything really dangerous unless you can get away with it, and always weigh the options before doing something stupid. It usually works out. You look up to your dad, who served honorably in the Republic Military and is one of the most decent men in the smuggling profession, and Booster, who was much more of a live wire than your father ever was.
You thrive on routine and exploiting the loopholes in the system to make your life easier. That's just how you roll.
You believed in the morality of justice-- you remember the Republic, just barely, and are constantly disappointed now by the state of the galaxy. That your chosen profession constantly screws The Man is icing on the ryshcate of individual freedom to choose your own path.
The Rebels are cool guys, but you aren't about to get your ass shot off in some lost cause-- but you'll run a cargo or two for them under your usual rate.

Zac Vance played by my younger brother
Type: Tramp Freighter Pilot

DEX: 2D+2
Blaster: 4D+2, brawling parry 4D+2, dodge 4D+2, melee combat 4D+2, melee parry 4D, running 3D+2, thrown weapons 4D
KNO: 3D
Bureaucracy 4D, business 4D+2, intimidation 4D+1, languages 4D+1, planetary systems 3D+2, streetwise 4D, value 4D, willpower 3D+2
MECH: 4D
Astrogation 4D+1, communications 4D+2, space transports 5D+2, starship gunnery 5D, starship shields 4D+1
PER: 2D+2
Bargain 4D, con 3D+2, hide 4D+2, search 3D+2
STR: 3D+2
Brawling 6D, lifting 4D+2, stamina 5D
TECH: 2D+2
Computer programming/repair 4D, droid programming 3D+2, first aid 3D+2, security 3D, space transport repair 3D+1
Force Sensitive
Force Skills:
Sense 1D

Equipment: Caliban Model X heavy blaster pistol, share in the Lazy Rider, protective vest (+2 protection to torso and back), spacer's chest, comlink.

Quote: "Sweet crap!"

Personality: You're good at flying, so when your older bro was retired from the CDF, you followed him onto his freighter berth, since you like him and his friends a lot more than the military. You are pretty laid back, since worrying about stuff won't make it any better. You dislike random violence, but won't object to a bit of shoot-em-up if you are sure you can get away with it. Rebels are a bunch of suicidal idealists, but you have no problem helping them out once and a while.

Cole played by the individual known here as Norseman
Type: Reluctant Cabin-Boy
DEX: 4D
Blaster 4D+1, brawling parry 5D+1, dodge 5D+2, dodge: energy weapons 6D+1, melee parry 4D, running 4D+2, thrown weapons 4D+2, vehicle blasters 4D+2
KNO: 2D+2
Alien Species 4D, cultures 4D, languages 4D+2, streetwise 5D, survival 3D+2, willpower 4D
MECH: 2D+2
Repulsorlift ops 3D+2, space transports 3D+2, starship gunnery 4D+1, starship shields 4D+1
PER: 4D
Forgery: personal identifacation 5D, hide 5D+2, persuasion 5D+2, search 5D, sneak 5D
STR: 2D+2
Brawling 3D+1, climbing/jumping 4D, swimming 4D
TECH: 2D+2
Computer programming/repair 4D+2, security 3D+2, space transport repair 3D

Equipment: Used blaster pistol (4D), spacer's chest with out of style and/or ill-fitting clothes and large collection of credit-durasheet fiction, selection of fake IDs

Quote: "We're all going to die..."
Personality: Your mother dragged you around the galaxy following (KEY AND THUS TOP SECRET PLOT BIT), so you aren't that good with sincere interaction with others. Still, you have puppy dog eyes that cannot be denied if you commit yourself to that sort of thing. Kind of a romantic in your youthful naiveté on certain subjects, but shockingly cynical about the importance of the family unit and the trustworthyness of others. Your older cousins are weird, but cool, in a dangerous and often life-threatening kind of way; they are the only positive male role-models you've ever had--scratch that, the only positive role models you've ever had, period.
Oh, and you are terrified of the opposite sex: Thanks Mom from Hell.


EDIT: Cleaned up the format a bit.

Ronin
11 August 2006, 09:20 PM
Really good, I like the new characters (both aunt and cousin) :)

Plus you are really making me wanna play D6!!!:(

Rostek
12 August 2006, 02:45 PM
Originally posted by Ronin
Really good, I like the new characters (both aunt and cousin) :)

Plus you are really making me wanna play D6!!!:(

Sorry for tweaking your jones, Ronin 8o


The last original PC is being introed on Onderon, either in the next post or the one after that.

Ubiqtorate
13 August 2006, 05:21 PM
Well, Ronin, D6 really is the only way to play... ;)

I downloaded all of this so I can maybe at some point catch up on reading it. I've gotten a little behind on my Holonet watching (getting a real job will do that to you), so there's a lot in here to catch up on...

Rostek, how long is this story going to be? Have you outlined the whole thing, or is it just sort of free-form? I count you at just under 19,000 words right now... which would probably bother me if it weren't all so good.

Rostek
13 August 2006, 09:28 PM
Originally posted by Ubiqtorate
Well, Ronin, D6 really is the only way to play... ;)

I downloaded all of this so I can maybe at some point catch up on reading it. I've gotten a little behind on my Holonet watching (getting a real job will do that to you), so there's a lot in here to catch up on...

Rostek, how long is this story going to be? Have you outlined the whole thing, or is it just sort of free-form? I count you at just under 19,000 words right now... which would probably bother me if it weren't all so good.

I'll stop this one when the actual play part begins (when we land on Coyn), then probably start writing on the sessions we did in another thread.
Everything is kind of basically outlined with what us players came up with for our background interspaced with stuff I've ran by them:
We're going to Onderon (picking up a PC and NPC), making a couple of stops along the way, then a rather important bit at Elshandruu Pica and then over to Eriadu, which will lead us to Coyn and badda bing badda boom: we're in the actual game.

Rostek
17 August 2006, 12:40 PM
This is a short one, I know-- but in order for a longer post to make sense, it would have been significantly longer than any previous post-- it is rather involved after this. The good news, though, is that I have a good deal of the next part written, so I can get it up in a couple of days :)

Chapter XII: The Party Expands I

Calo was awoken early (for him) as the Lazy Rider hurtled through hyperspace. The barking of Zac’s new Alderaanian Hound pup resounded through the corridor as Calo opened his cabin door. The animal sat in tensed and ready position, staring intently down the corridor, barking at regular intervals.

Calo turned to see Zac crouched opposite the hound, holding up a red rubber ball and slowly moving it from side to side.

“You… want this… don’t you?” he said slowly, still not having noticed a disheveled Calo leaning out his door. The hound barked in response, its eyes following the course of the ball.

“You are such a damn child, Zac.” Calo said, shaking his head. The younger Vance snorted and then threw the ball, which bounced down the corridor with the hound pup in hot pursuit.

“It’s 0930, damnit; you owe me two hours of sleep.” Calo lamented, but he stepped out of his room nonetheless and headed for the ‘fresher to clean up. A thought occurred to him as he opened the door. “Zac… who’s watching the controls?” Calo asked warily.

“The kid and Cue-Nine; don’t worry, I told him not to touch anything unless red lights start blinking, in which case he is to hit the general quarters alarm.” Zac assured him.

The hound came trotting back into view at the bend of the corridor, holding the ball triumphantly in her jaws. She cautiously walked closer to Zac, and then lay down with the ball held protectively while she eyed Zac with suspicion.

“Oh, c’mon, pooch—it isn’t much of a game that way if I throw it once and then you quit!” Calo heard Zac chide as he stepped into the ‘fresher room.


Calo felt the ship exit hyperspace at 01022, while he stood at the ‘fresher sink, staring hard into the mirror there. Exhaling heavily, he exited the room and calmly ambled to the cockpit.

By then, Zac sat at his customary station, working away at orienting the ship towards the planet’s entry lineup. Cole swiveled the captain’s chair around and sheepishly got up to allow Calo to take his seat while he himself took up position between the two command seats so that he could keep a good view of space.

As per standard procedure, Calo tuned the comm. to the METSOP and starport control frequencies to receive landing instructions, and a typically droning voice instructed them to move into the line for planetfall.


Thankfully, the line for ships of Light Freighter class was shorter than usual for the busy planet, and in a mere four hours of painfully boring incremental movement, the crew of the Lazy Rider stood on one of the hundreds of docking bays that dotted the Iziz City Port.

“Well… that was fun!” Calo said disdainfully as he breathed in the still-moderately sweet air of Onderon.

“Is it always that boring?” Cole moaned in his typically pessimistic idiom.

“Pretty much—though the farther Rimward you get, the better things get. Some places out there don’t even have proper ports, and you just kind of pick a spot and put down, like parking a speeder.” Zac replied.

“And… that is where we are going?” the boy responded, his voice cracking as it did every so often. It was painful on the ears, but as the nominal cabin boy rarely spoke at length, neither Vance brother thought enough of it to bring the issue up.

“Well… it is where we are going.” Calo said, indicating Zac and himself. “You are going to Eriadu, which is pretty civilized for the Rim—the Tarkin family has taken it as a personal mission to make that pit look and smell like a real-life Core World.”

“Oh yeah.” said Cole, his eyes downcast at the reminder.

“Don’t feel too bad about it, kid—it isn’t that bad a place if you get in a good part of town.” Calo replied, gingerly patting Cole on the back in a manner meant to be reassuring. The patriarch of the Rider knew he wasn’t very good at that sort of thing, but he did feel sorry for the young man. His effort was more or less wasted, however, as Cole’s look worsened; he seemed to be convinced that if he were to be living anywhere on a planet, it was certainly not going to be in the “good part of town”.

“You know, it has occurred to me that we don’t have any means to get that cargo off the ship.” Zac interjected, blessedly changing the subject before his fellows became too downcast.

“Oh yeah—I did kind of sell our roustabout to keep our kneecaps intact, didn’t I?” Calo replied with a dreamy laugh as he remembered the incident.

“Right,” Zac said, rolling his eyes at his brother’s eccentricity, “Anyway, my sellers’ guys loaded it on Alderaan, but we’ve got nothing here. I don’t want to do any powerlifting today, I know the kid hasn’t got the fortitude for it, and your lazy backside isn’t going to unload that cargo either.” he continued

Calo sighed, “I’ll go to the CMG guildhouse and check the roster there, see if they’ve got anyone looking for some work today. I need to check in anyway and see if we’ve got any mail from Mom and Dad, or see if there are any advisories for our flight plan area. You can help Cue-Nine do an external check of the ship.” he added to Zac.

“Fine… what about the kid?” Zac asked in response.

”You know, I am right here…” Cole tried to interject, but Calo interrupted him without pause.

“I’ll take him with me. He could use some experience; increases the old moral and physical fortitude, you know. Goodness knows he needs it.” Calo commented, donning his captain’s hat and quickly stretching his neck.

“I can hear every word you’re saying, and frankly—” Cole started again, his voice creaking like an old wooden floorboard.

“You’re probably right… see you this afternoon then, Calo!” Zac cut in, not seeming to notice his younger cousin’s objections, then pat his older brother on the back and turned back to the ship.

“Righto,” Calo replied, “C’mon kid, let’s go.”

End Chapter

Ronin
18 August 2006, 07:27 AM
Good stuff. I really like the way Zac and Calo ignore Cole :D...and his breaking voice. LOL

Rostek
18 August 2006, 12:38 PM
Originally posted by Ronin
Good stuff. I really like the way Zac and Calo ignore Cole :D...and his breaking voice. LOL

Thanks, though I can't take full credit for the latter: Cole's player acts him out like a fourteen year old version of himself, Peter Brady voice and all :rolleyes:

Ubiqtorate
18 August 2006, 05:56 PM
Originally posted by Rostek


I'll stop this one when the actual play part begins (when we land on Coyn), then probably start writing on the sessions we did in another thread.

Good call. Reminds me of a series of stories I and the other players in my group have been working on, all leading up to the campaign we're finally going to start in a couple of weeks here. Maybe I'll start posting those here somewhere... Backstory is always a good thing.

Stormrider
18 August 2006, 07:21 PM
Good stuff Rostek..Gotta love the dialogue between Calo, Cole, and Zac.. hmmm I do hope the Zee Zee will make another apperance soon...:D

PsychoInfiltrator
20 August 2006, 07:24 AM
I sympathize with Cole.


hmmm I do hope the Zee Zee will make another apperance soon...

Wonder how he treats Cole...;):);)

Rostek
20 August 2006, 07:20 PM
Chapter XIII: The Party Expands II

If Cole had any lasting scars from the landing pad conversation, he hid it well; or, conversely, the event did not add particularly to his usual level of brooding.

“What is with the bag?” Calo asked offhandedly, indicating the cloth bag the young man carried.

“Oh… I read in the CMG directory that the Onderon guildhouse has a reclamation center and thrift store open to locals.” he replied.

“Ah, yes; the CMG has many charitable movements at work…” Calo interjected.

“Yeah… well, I need some new clothes and shoes, so I figured while I was there I’d drop off these old things that don’t fit anymore. I brought twenty five credits—that should be enough to get some things in exchange.” Cole explained further.

“Twenty-five? So you plan on just trading up to the larger size, then. What about shoes; you won’t get a decent pair that will last worth anything with that. Tell you what—I’ll find you some decent footwear at the Outfitter’s.” Calo replied, “I won’t have anyone on my ship without a decent pair of shoes; it’s a liability if you need to do any real work.” he quickly added.

Cole found himself slightly confused by his older cousin’s pendulum-like shifting in apparent attitudes; still, as far as he could tell, Calo was erratic enough that such behavior at least made some amount of sense. Kind of. Nevertheless, Cole was not stupid enough to dissuade him from his charity, no matter how unexpected and suspect it may have been.

After a few more minutes of walking, the two came into the Spacer’s Plaza, where the grand stone Corellian Merchant’s Guild House sat majestically against Onderon’s sun.

“Nice, isn’t it; it’s been here a few thousand years now—survived a concussion missile hit during the Clone Wars, a JAN bomb, too a couple of years ago. It’s a resilient old building.” Calo explained to an enawed Cole.

The two entered the large doors of the building and past the visitor’s desk, heading straight for the Members-Only door which opened into the Member Services section of the building. Calo flashed his membership ID in front of the scanner and the door swung open. A very corpulent man in fancy robes waved to Calo and waddled over to the two newcomers.

“Khasaan'l, Selba!” Calo exclaimed in greeting. Starting in Old Corellian was a good way to get on any CMG guildmaster’s good side.

“Ihn Corellisi nyeve min bhiq suman ehin nyiad: what do you gentlemen require of me?” the man replied jovially.

“My young associate requires the services of the Outfitter’s General Store and a place to deposit his clothing donations. Then of course there are the standard bits: messaging services, some breakfast I also need to see your employment office and find myself a roustabout for the afternoon.” Calo replied with a return smile.

“Of course, of course! The employment office is to your left, the Outfitter’s Office on your right—Captain Vance. I shall check our database as you conduct your business, and see if you have gotten any messages since your last withdrawal. The cafeteria door is behind me; feel free to peruse our menu—I find the chef manages to recreate our cuisine quite admirably.” the man replied. Calo thanked the man, whose nametag reported his name as “Renn”, and led Cole to the Outfitter’s Office.

The “office” was in fact a small group of stores: a standard starship outfitter’s store for parts and ship-related equipment, a grocer for consumables purchase, and a clothing store (with second hand merchandise available). Calo, who had nothing better to do, browsed the clothing shop’s meager rack of cred novels as Cole searched the utility footwear aisle for new shoes.

After settling on some modestly priced boots, Cole returned to where Calo stood and alerted his elder cousin that he was ready to leave.
At the counter, Calo leaned over the table-top and placed a larger than necessary credit coin in front of the cashier—

“I’m interested in some… classic literature and the kid likes the underground music scene: know anywhere that can cater to our interests?” he said slyly. The cashier looked around briefly to ensure they were alone, and then palmed the excess change.

“Tell the droid in the back corner of the caf that you are ‘interested in a game of sabaac’, then ask him if he wants to join. He can take care of your needs—premium prices, of course.” the cashier replied conspiratorially.


As they left, Calo made a line for the cafeteria—a bit of breakfast and some extra ‘shopping’ on his mind.

“What was that bribe for?” Cole asked innocently if a bit loudly.
Calo raised an eyebrow and looked around for any witnesses. No one seemed to notice the cavalier advertisement of low grade felony—or rather, no one that did notice cared much. Turning to his younger cousin while not stopping his walk, Calo tried his best to explain:

“Well, the Empire isn’t terribly fond of pro-Republic—i.e. Republic-era—books and other media, nor are they particularly keen on the message espoused by certain modern musical groups; some of which I think you might enjoy more than I… I prefer Stark War-era music, so sue Me.” he said, waggling his eyebrows.

“I’m not really familiar with modern music—the stuff they made us listen to in SAG really blew hard, and I haven’t bothered to keep up with it.” Cole replied.

“That’s just fine… we’ll see how you like Red Shift Limit.” Calo answered with a hearty laugh. “You can’t spend your entire time on the ship bored, after all—boredom is contagious on a small ship.” he continued as they entered the cafeteria.

A small sign indicated that patrons should seat themselves, and a serving droid would be by shortly. Sending Cole to save a table, Calo surveyed the room: The only other patrons were a sleepy looking woman and the droid that the cashier had indicated. Calo walked over and leaned by the table.

“I’m interested in a game of sabaac—do you want to join?” he asked expectantly. The elderly protocol unit beeped uncharacteristically for its ilk then turned its head to Calo.

“What in particular do you wish to purchase?” it asked matter-of-factly. This one didn’t waste time.

“Something in an Ars Antilles-Manche, if you have it… and a sound slug of Red Shift Limit’s new album.” Calo said quietly, so as to avoid alerting the other patron of his transaction. Manche was a literary laureate of Alderaan some years ago, whose fiction was terribly popular in its day, but had suffered under Palpatine’s tender mercies during and after the Clone Wars for the satiric portrayal of war that it generally offered.
The droid seemed to process this request for a moment, and then told Calo to wait a few minutes for it to secure the items… and be prepared to pay two hundred credits for them. Calo grumbled about the price, but couldn’t legitimately make a case to the droid—such things were, after all, illegal and rare these days.


As he joined Cole at the table, he noticed his young kinsman had already ordered, received, and partially devoured his breakfast. Deciding against a rebuking comment, as he was fairly sure he would have done the same; Calo simply ordered his own plate of tallgrain flatcakes and a bowl of the local fruit. The serving droid returned with the food and the bill… for two-hundred and 19 credits. Cole looked surprised, but Calo chuckled.

“Don’t worry, kid—a little fraud makes things run smoother.” he said, and took the credits out of his jacket, then placed them on the table. The droid returned with a pair of old looking durasheet books and a sound slug, which it placed on the table while it took the money.

“A pleasure doing business…” Calo told the droid, which did not seem to notice or care about the human’s expression of appreciation. The Corellian captain raised his eyebrows, but simply began eating his breakfast in lieu of comment.


“All right, kid—this is the part where you get to actually assist me.” Calo said as he and Cole prepared to enter the employment room, “I need your creep detector on full—we don’t want a crazy mucking about my ship, nor an incompetent. We need the best they’ve got in there. Got me?” he finished, and after receiving a confirming nod from Cole, Calo grandly entered the room… to the modest surprise of the old secretary droid at the desk and the three individuals who sat on the room’s wooden benches.

“Well?” Calo asked Cole semi-seriously. Two of the would-be workers were dead asleep, and the sole awake occupant—a very greasy-looking Balosar youth—eyed the two with hungry eyes.

“I think the sleeping two are our best candidates.” Cole replied swiftly.

“I concur.” Calo deadpanned, and walked up to the desk and tapped the bell, which awoke the droid secretary from sleep mode.

“Greetings, sentients—I am MCD-918, how may I be of assistance.” it said promptly and formally.

“I wish information regarding the two individuals sleeping in this chamber.” Calo replied in a similarly clipped manner, bereft of the irony that Calo reserved for The Zeeze when he normally used that tone.

“Ah, of course sir—the ursine fellow there is Master Marcel Cahlil, a certified member of the Interstellar Brotherhood of Teamsters in addition to being a licensed attorney and… Doctor of Chiropractics?” the droid read, somewhat astonished by the depth of the bear-man’s resume. Still, he was certified by a CMG-sponsored roustabout union… Calo decided to put ‘Doctor’ Cahlil aside for the moment as a “maybe”.

“The human is a Master Cainan Abel… a Socorron who claims familiarity with basic ships systems and ‘general handyman skill’. Would you like to look at their resumes?” the droid continued, offering Calo the datapad.

Calo held up his hand in polite declination. “I think we have got a basic picture of their skill sets, thanks.” he said, and turned to survey the sleeping pair.

“Ahem… gentlemen?” Calo said loud enough to wake the dark-skinned human man, who was clad in drab cloth wrappings and a tan all-temp cloak. The man looked at Calo dreamily before batting his eyes a few times to properly wake up. “Would you mind poking the other guy, please?” Calo asked politely. The man complied, and the ursine of indeterminate species snorted and blinked before huffing himself to semi-set up position.

“Fantastic…” Calo said pleasantly, looking between the both of them in turn. “I am Captain of a light freighter here on the Onderon docks—”

“We’re on Onderon?” the ursine “Doctor” asked, apparently surprised at this revelation.

“…Yes, yes we are. Where did you think you were?” Calo replied, his eyes growing with weirded-out concern.

“Oh… I don’t know… I thought I was somewhere in the Juvex Sector. I guess that freighter captain lied to me when he said he would take me that far Rimward—but I did say I wasn’t picky. I brought it on myself, I suppose.” he lamented with a shrug.

“I… see.” Calo replied, eyes still wide. “How about… hey, where did the human guy get to?” Calo tried to continue, now very confused. The ursine alien shrugged helplessly, and the droid sputtered for a few moments before confessing it had no idea.

“Well… given the choice, I guess you’re hired, Doctor—I have a bunch of crates that need unloaded off of my ship, and more than likely some that will be needed loaded on after a spell.” Calo told the alien.

“I will require ten credits an hour for my efforts.” he replied sleepily.

“That seems a little steep…” Calo started in reply.

“Four credits an hour?” the supposed erudite countered, confusedly.

“Uh… your bargaining is a little, uh… different.” Calo said, now as confused as the alien.

“Two?”

“No, no—I’ll pay you six an hour, but crap… I can see why you ended up on Onderon.” Calo declared, shaking his head to get the confusion out. “I’m at Pad 96—take this.” he said, writing a note to Zac on his datapad, and then handing the card to the ursine fellow, who smiled amicably but still confusedly, then left.

End Chapter

PsychoInfiltrator
21 August 2006, 07:15 AM
a JAN bomb

What is that? I don't remember any bomb that started with J...


“I will require ten credits an hour for my efforts.” he replied sleepily.

“That seems a little steep…” Calo started in reply.

“Four credits an hour?” the supposed erudite countered, confusedly.

“Uh… your bargaining is a little, uh… different.” Calo said, now as confused as the alien.

“Two?”

“No, no—I’ll pay you six an hour, but crap… I can see why you ended up on Onderon.”

Nice.

Rostek
21 August 2006, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by PsychoInfiltrator
What is that? I don't remember any bomb that started with J...


"JAN" stands for the Justice Action Network, a terrorist organization that makes the Rebels look like Gandhi. They are from a few WEG supps and the Dark Force series.

PsychoInfiltrator
22 August 2006, 09:19 AM
"JAN" stands for the Justice Action Network, a terrorist organization that makes the Rebels look like Gandhi. They are from a few WEG supps and the Dark Force series.

Ah-now I understand. Thanks.

Rostek
24 August 2006, 07:36 PM
Chapter XIV: The Party Expands III

At Pad 96…

Zac Vance supervised Cue-Nine’s check of the outer hull surfaces from his comfortable folding chair, which he had placed on the starboard mandible of the Lazy Rider so as to best catch the Onderonian sun and still be able to see the astromech’s work. As Zac pondered why Calo complained about such basic maintenance, The Zeeze shuffled to the position in between the mandibles where he might be seen, and made a sound roughly similar to the noise made when a humanoid clears his throat.

Zac sighed, “What do you want, Zeeze?’ he asked with an annoyed tone. Zac hated it when he was interrupted during maintenance.

“We have a gentlema—err…” The Zeeze started, then quickly turned to the hulking individual with a haversack that stood, waiting, next to him, and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like ‘You are a male of your species, aren’t you?’, and upon the alien’s affirmative grumble, continued:
“We have a gentleman of alien extraction here who says that a man fitting Captain-Master Calo’s description hired him to perform cargo handling duties. Shall I let him aboard?” the droid asked Zac.

The younger Vance sighed again and leaned over the inner edge of the mandible and removed his shades. “Does he have some form of proof?” he asked skeptically, forgivable given how many warrants he and Calo probably had on themselves in the surrounding sectors.

The ursine fellow nodded helpfully and handed The Zeeze a datacard, which the droid promptly fed into his datapad.

“Ah, yes, this note does have all the particular markings of Master Calo’s particular note-making idiom—scrawled handwriting without concern for letter form, sentence structure or grammar!” The Zeeze declared, nodding, and then tossing the ‘pad up to Zac.

Zac, surprised, caught the datapad before falling off of his chair. Cursing, Zac brought the display back up to read Calo’s note:



Zac,

Found this one at CMG house—will work for 6cr/hour. Looks strong and is strangely pliable.
Don’t gamble with or verbally abuse, seems very sensitive and is very bad with negotiation; also, can tear off arms if upset.

Just FYI,

Calo



“That does sound like something he’d write…” Zac mused to himself. He shrugged, and waved The Zeeze and the alien towards the cargo bay elevator.


At the CMG Guildhouse…

Calo and Cole, confused at the disappearance of the Soccoran fellow but satisfied they had completed their business, exited the Employment Center after signing the papers for the now-departed Doctor.

“Captain Vance… I have your mail and an advisory for Elshandruu Pica, too. Says here there’s a new Moff, and he’s a real hard-ass.” the jolly man who Calo had met earlier told them.

“Thanks, friend. Put these in the mail bag for me…” Calo replied, passing the man a packet of letters he, Zac, and even Cole had composed the previous day.

“Of course! Have a nice trip, Captain.” The man replied as Calo and Cole left for the docks.


Back at the Dock

The good Doctor had already managed to pull out half of the Rider’s cargo onto a rented repulsor skiff, which had nearly filled up with the cargo crates. Cue-Nine had been placed into the pilot position, and tootled impatiently as the bear-like alien pulled on the handles of his crate hooks to lift the last crate for this load onto the back of the skiff.
Calo and Cole entered the pad without much fanfare, and were not even noticed until The Zeeze came down the freighter’s ramp as the two were halfway to the skiff.

“Oh, hello Masters. I hope your trip was fruitful and profitable.” the droid offered. Calo grunted, and passed the elderly mechanical to speak with Zac.

“So, how is he working out?” he asked, watching as the Doctor set the last crate in. Zac waved Cue-Nine out, and the droid dutifully steered the bulky skiff out of the cargo doors and towards the buying house, where they would be sold at market price, as per local law.

“The big guy? I dunno; seems competent enough, if a tad daydreamy—I wouldn’t be shocked if he’d had too much Muon Gold in his day, though.” Zac replied, referencing the cheap lubricant often used consumed as a narcotic in less civilized systems.

“He’s a lawyer… and a chiropractor, too—according to the Employment office. Strange, but, in any case, he’s working cheap, and he seems to be doing a good job of it.” Calo commented with a shrug, to which Zac acknowledged with an agreeable nod.

“So…” Calo started, “Where is this arms dealer you got the tip on?” he asked as both of them watched the cargo doors close behind the skiff.

“Merchant District—entrance is in the alley between the ‘Green Dragon’ cantina and the ‘Superior Foodstuffs’ store.” Zac replied with a grin. “Business hours are from midnight to dawn.” he added with a chuckle.

“Sounds like our kind of place.” Calo deadpanned, but could not deny himself a hearty chuff at the humor of it all.

Zac shrugged, “The bounty hunter I sold the tracker to was very complimentary of their service and selection.”

“Which bounty hunter was that?” Calo’s eyes widened—generally, hunters were to be avoided, for they are the smuggler’s most deadly occupational hazard.

“A female Theelin-mix and her Zeltron pilot; a decidedly charming pair, I assure you. They said they hunt pirates or somesuch mad thing.” Zac replied, making the ‘slow down’ motion with his hands and smiling reassuringly.

“I’ll bet they were charming…” Calo muttered, rolling his eyes. “How much did you get for it?” he added more normally.

“A few grand; enough to finance a shopping spree tonight, I assure you.” Zac replied, smirking.

“I hope you plan on saving some of that—we’re almost out of petty cash that isn’t hot as a Class O star, and we have a few more stops to make before we get to a place where we can spend the hot stuff.


End Chapter

Rostek
6 September 2006, 03:42 PM
Chapter XIV: Fear and Loathing in Dxun

For an extra one-hundred credits (upped from the Doctor’s initial acceptance at twenty), Calo and Zac talked their temp into accompanying them to the meeting with the arms dealer—an extra bit of muscle never hurt an underworld deal, after all.

Cole, for his part, didn’t object to his mandate of “guarding the ship” while his kinsmen went to make a secret underworld arms deal with a shady individual they had heard of only through the comments of a bounty hunter with uncertain motives. Shocking really that he would choose to stay; but Zac and Calo didn’t question having their orders not being objected to and left as heavily armed as they could muster.

As his cousins left, Cole put The Zeeze on watch and retired to the cockpit where he began to familiarize himself with the instruments, so he could get off this planet if and when it became necessary. Just in case…


Calo and Zac walked as unobtrusively as they could in the company of a 2.3 meter tall bear-man alien. The stares became less common the deeper the three got into the Merchant’s District, and disappeared entirely as they got into the “shady” area where they would find most of the illegal services the district offered. By that point, Calo and his companions were the least of the weird personages that wandered the streets. Zac averted his eyes after a few moments of staring at an ambulatory plant-alien, and decided to keep himself focused on the walk ahead.

The door to their dealer sat under a lit sign for “Trinkets & Such”—Calo raised an eyebrow but said nothing as Zac indicated the door to his fellows from the mouth of the one-way alley.

“Well,” the younger Vance said, breaking the silence, “Here goes nothing…”



The dealer’s office consisted of a small waiting room/counter for the front business, and what Calo guessed to be a larger “business” room beyond a bookcase-covered blast-door. The blast-door appeared to be solid durasteel, and would probably take an hour or two to burn through with a plasma torch—long enough for any occupants to escape into the sewers or some other exit. It also meant that would-be clients had to wait until the proprietor was ready for them, and therefore instilled a sense of control upon those stuck in the cramped and hot waiting room. The poorly-lit room stank of cheap Twi’lek perfumes and had no ornamentation built into the construction materials—plain white walls and stone floors where covered where necessary by imitation Rylothian rugs and loitering customers were provided with large poof seats instead of chairs. The exotic atmosphere the design no doubt had intended to instill failed in every measure upon worldly travelers that currently occupied the otherwise empty room, and Calo supposed that even a modestly canny local would find the whole thing rather patronizing.

A reasonably attractive if slightly starved-looking Twi’lek female worked as secretary at the small glass cased counter that made only paltry attempts to look like a trinket case. She seemed extraordinarily bored, and paid little attention to the waiting customers, instead listening intently to her miniature music player—some bubblefizz pop tripe from the Colonies that was so generic as to be wholly unidentifiable. Finally, after half an hour of waiting, the buzzer rang on the counter, and the Twi’lek woman waved the three customers back into the business area as she opened the door with a push of a hidden button.



Unsurprisingly, the proprietor of the establishment was clad in the manner of a stereotypical Twi’lek trader, and—yet more unsurprisingly—he lacked the defining head-tails and lack of hair. Calo guessed that he was a Wroonian by his blue skin and glaringly horrible Ryl that screamed “non-native speaker!”, and only a Wroonian could possibly conceive of such an absurd set up, after all.

Still, he was pleasant enough, as far as Zac and Calo could discern through his butchered speech.

“So, what be you wanting from Dec’karnlo Master this midday?” he asked, his Ryl so bad that the Doc winced.

“Well…” Calo started, trying to figure out how clean he could speak Ryl to avoid offending the individual. “We require guns. We have credits and trade in similar kind.” the Captain said carefully.

“Specialty this mine is!” the man exclaimed happily. “What cred you have? And what kind of sharp-sticks do you use?” he questioned further.

All three of the party blinked as they tried to process the question. Zac was first to venture a response:

“Ah… well, we have three DeathHammer pistols and… well, enough credits for what we are looking for, if you catch my meaning.” he replied. It was clear that the Wroonian did not, in fact, catch the entirety of Zac’s meaning. Still, he persisted in his pleasant tone as before.

“Good, good! I can sell three Stormtrooper Two medium sticks for that and five and four hundred cred! Interest, yes?” he responded, the Basic words interjected into the conversation being the few that were easily followed.

Calo and Zac looked at each other and wordlessly debated the cost. It was a reasonable offer—if the weapons were in good condition.

“Are the… uh… ‘sticks’ in good shape?” Zac asked, leaning forward on the poof. The business office was only slightly gaudier than the waiting room, and only modestly larger, though the space was limited by the racks of various firearms.

“Yes, good sticks…very good sticks. You smart customers! Like exotic? I have Concussion weapon from Drearian Defense—merc favorite…” he offered, his eyes gleaming at the prospect of sales.

“How much?” Zac asked, intrigued—a Concussion Rifle would be a powerful trump card indeed.

“Thousand and fifty, throw in two hundreds rocks with for much shooting.” the man replied eagerly.

Calo nodded to Zac, who turned around and removed the amount from his moneybag so that the vendor would not see the contents of the bag. The Doctor handed over the pistols from his rucksack as well to complete the rest of the offer. Once the cash had been duly counted, the eccentric Wroonian disappeared into his shelves to fetch the merchandise. Each gun was wrapped in a cheap plasti-leather carry-bag, each of which the Doc accepted gingerly and threw over his shoulder for easy carry.

Satisfied with their purchases as the vendor was satisfied with his payment, the group left the dealership through the door they came in, and quietly made their way to the mouth of the alley, where the street had become both more busy yet more subdued: the figures that shuffled to and fro were now even shadier than before and even less eager to delve into business which was not their own.

“Well,” Zac started, “that went pretty well. See, I told you there was nothing to worry about, Calo!” he said, slapping his elder brother on the back.

Then the building exploded.


End Chapter

Same comment policy applied, natch.

Stormrider
9 September 2006, 05:37 PM
Good stuff Rostek!

I especially like the illegal music/book buying and the Wroonian Arms dealer. Gota love the eccentric sentients of the galaxy :D

Darth_Vader2005
11 September 2006, 11:42 AM
Dammit!

I reached the end :( this means I'm going to have to wait for updates now!

Brilliant story by the way:D

tauchiss
11 September 2006, 05:34 PM
Originally posted by Darth_Vader2005
Dammit!

I reached the end :( this means I'm going to have to wait for updates now!

Brilliant story by the way:D

Exact Same thing.

KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK!!!!!!!!

Rostek
12 September 2006, 03:10 PM
A short one today, and a change in theme music for the series:
Whiskey in a Jar (The Dubliners-- Luke Kelly period) (http://youtube.com/watch?v=to8N1rR9l-c). A bit more sober perhaps, and the crap has hit the fan in the Core for them.

Chapter XV: A Brief Interlude...

Calo cursed loudly as the three companions were hurled forward from the force of the blast.

The Doctor managed to avoid crushing their recent purchases under his bulk, but he nevertheless landed heavily on a nearby bench, reducing the wooden structure to kindling. Zac and Calo both ended up in the street, covered with shattered glass and other blast detritus.

Calo groaned and stumbled to his feet, hauling his blaster out and waving it wildly in a vain search for enemies. Zac rolled over and upright a few moments later, and joined Calo in the middle of the street, panting for breath.

“Someone really doesn’t like our choice of contacts,” Calo sputtered confusedly and breathlessly, as Zac pulled him by his arm back towards the relative safety of the sidewalk.

The Doctor moaned painfully as he removed a forearm-sized splinter from his flank and stuffed the blood-covered wood into his bag, in the same movement removing a spray bottle filled with a fluorescent liquid and began squirting the bloody parts of the pavement with the foul, ammonia-smelling substance, covering both his own and the Vances’ blood thoroughly before motioning for the two brothers to follow him into the next alley over, which opened to the next street down instead of ending in a dead end like the last. Still confused and disoriented, Calo and Zac obeyed and hustled behind the bear-alien into the darkened sidestreet.

The Doctor grinned and brandished the spray bottle, ignoring what looked to be a hideously painful wound on his left flank.

“Special ammonia cocktail—they won’t get any DNA off of the blood.” he said proudly.

“That’s fantastic—but that doesn’t deal with the main issue at hand: who is trying to kill us?” Zac replied, bending over to rest and regroup from the previous few minutes’ trauma.

“So you are being targeted then, aren’t you? What did you do?” the Doctor asked quizzically as he replaced the bottle and removed the Concussion rifle from its case. The huge alien filled the magazine and checked over the weapon with practiced skill, then loaded a round into the chamber with a pump of the mechanism.

“We got on the bad side of the Tapani Sector… and besides, I don’t think there is really any question, isn’t that right, Zac?” Calo responded acidly, grinning scornfully at his younger brother.

“Me? You’re the one that shot at that little punk!” Zac objected defensively.

“True… but I didn’t sell a tracking device to and get contact tips from a couple of bounty hunters, did I?” Calo retorted, starting to yell, but censoring himself to a quieter, but no less disapproving tone.

Zac waved his hand dismissingly, “Oh, c’mon; how do we know it was them?” he questioned.

“We don’t, but I figure that they had an idea of when we’d show up here, and they now have a tracking device, if you recall.”

“Ahem… we had better get out of here before they—whoever they are—come to finish the job. I’d rather not get caught in the crossfire, if you don’t mind.” the Doctor interjected politely, which quieted the bickering for the time being.

“Fair enough, Doc…” Calo replied with a sigh. “Call the Rider, have the kid prep her for takeoff.”

“I don’t think the Onderonian authorities would appreciate our taking off without permission immediately after a bomb attack in the middle of the Merchant’s District.” Zac commented dryly, but he removed his comlink to make the call anyway.

“Doc… you said you wanted to go Rimward? How about a ride… we could apparently use some protection and you seem to know your way around that boomstick.” Calo asked, indicating to Concussion rifle cradled in the alien’s massive paws

“Fine…” the alien chiropractor replied carefully.

Zac interjected with a cough and nod, which indicated his call had been made.

Just then, a dark-skinned man rode up on a speeder bike which had a small skiff trailing behind it. Calo recognized him as the man who had suddenly disappeared from the hiring center… as did the Doctor, who leveled his rifle at the man warily.

The man was nonplussed, in any case: “Get on, quick. I’ll get you to your ship—unless you prefer to wait for the police.” he said simply with a Corellian accent typical for a native of Socorro.

Despite their trepidation at the idea, the three found little alternative that was palatable… so they each slid onto the skiff in turn, the ursine Doctor’s gun still pointed at the rider as they tore away towards the starport.

End Chapter

Same comment policy...

tauchiss
13 September 2006, 02:16 AM
YAAAAAA!
AN UPDATE
BETTER THAN THE WORLD CUP!!!!

Great work as always Rostek!

Darth_Vader2005
15 September 2006, 12:42 PM
Originally posted by tauchiss

BETTER THAN THE WORLD CUP!!!!

Great work as always Rostek!

The world what now?

tauchiss
15 September 2006, 12:46 PM
Thats just my opinion. Its probably biased seeing as I love books and hate sports.

Rostek
16 September 2006, 06:03 PM
Wow... better than the World Cup? I'm quite honored B)

Chapter XVI: Further Interluding...

The explosion and subsequent fire lit up the sky of Iziz so brightly that Cole could clearly make out the Old City’s skyline against the now raging inferno.

“Crap…” he muttered, shaking his head: there was little doubt in his mind as to who were at the center of that whole mess. The boy walked over to, then slid down, the dorsal airlock ladder from his seat on the rear dorsal fuselage.

“Cue-Nine—power up, we’ve got to get out of here before—” he started to order, but the buzzing vibration of the comlink on his belt interrupted him mid-speech.

“Kid?” the voice of one of his elder cousins asked carefully.

“Yeah… so you survived the explosion, then.” Cole replied excitedly.

“Uh… is it that big?” Zac inquired, seemingly anxious at the answer.

“Yeah… you can see it really clearly from the starport.” Cole answered, surprised at Zac’s ignorance of the size of the conflagration. The boy could here muttering along the lines of “holy crap, it’s jumped buildings” and “that is big”, which inclined him to roll his eyes at his elder’s apparent lack of attention.

“Right; well, start up the ship and we’ll be there shortly—do not let the authorities know, or else they’ll have a customs cruiser waiting for us in orbit and we just bought a load of illegal firearms.” Zac finished, and then hung up before Cole could respond.

The boy sighed and replaced the comlink on his belt.

“Zeeze, Cue-Nine: get on the preparations for raising ship—nothing that will alert the tower to our intention before Calo and Zac get back.” Cole shouted into the hallway, which he hoped both droids would pick up. He then ran for the cockpit to participate in the festivities as well.



“I don’t suppose you’d offer us a name to go with that mysterious veneer, would you—as I daresay that that name the droid gave me back in the office was a clever pseudonym?” Calo deadpanned at the dark-skinned rider who pulled them expertly through the city backstreets.

“Argos.” the man replied simply as he turned the bike and skiff into an alley to cut through the center of a tenement block.

“Great…” Zac muttered, receiving a dissuading look from Calo for his trouble, with a fairly clear “we don’t want to piss this guy off” implication behind it.

“So… I have to ask, why the interest; you kind of pulled a hell of a trick in the employment office and here you are, aren’t you?” Calo asked slightly more agreeably. At the reminder of Argos’ disappearing act, the Doctor narrowed his eyes and re-focused his weapon upon the man: the ursine alien did not particularly care for magic.

“I require a ride… to the Elrood Sector. Don’t bother denying it, I know that is where you are going.” Argos replied, once again in the matter of fact tone which had become a theme in his interaction with the group.

Calo and Zac exchanged a nervous look—generally people who knew too much were far too much trouble to be worthwhile.

“How did you come by that particular tidbit, I wonder.” Calo ventured as tactfully as he could manage.

“I’m sure you do…” Argos answered, finally cracking a toothy smile underneath his goggle-covered eyes.

Before Calo could respond, the man continued: “I believe you changed your Guild-filed flight plan to that effect on Alderaan—you first were headed for the Elrood, then switched to Elshandruu Pica… but still picked up advisories for the Rimma past Eriadu. I figured that you were simply making a side trip, which will not significantly impact my requirements.” Argos replied, shrugging while he brought the heavily (and illegally) loaded craft onto the main way, which would lead them in due course to the starport.

“Fair enough… but frankly I am disinclined to accept such a job on the basis that you seem to know a troublingly large amount about us—nothing personal of course, and I am truly thankful for your timely assistance—but in my line of work, discretion is the greater part of success.” Calo replied apologetically… sincerely hoping the man didn’t detach the skiff’s line and send his passengers to a messy, incoming-traffic related death.

Argos just laughed—which both Calo and Zac found more than a tad disconcerting.

“Gentlemen, I can appreciate your position, however I am on something of a schedule. I can pay you five-thousand—and I have a sleeping mat with me, as I’m sure you don’t have any passenger space. I can stay in the cargo bay; I don’t mind the cold.” he explained politely but rather forcefully at the same time.

“I’ll need at least eight; that’s a long haul…” Calo replied.

“You’ll get five—as that is all I have,” Argos responded, “but I do know who attacked you, and what their ship looks like.” he added confidently.

“Who, and why?” Zac demanded from the back of the skiff.

“Now now—that would be telling. Once we’re safely in hyperspace, I’ll reveal all I know to you. If you aren’t satisfied, then drop me off at the nearest planet with a port. But I promise they won’t stop—with my help, you should be able to eventually eliminate the threat, though as you may have noted, they avoid direct confrontation if at all possible.” Argos explained.

Calo and Zac brooded over this revelation for a few moments as they neared their pad. There seemed to be a rather difficult decision to make, and either choice presented a unfortunately broad array of potential problems.

Calo exhaled, and uttered a single word “Fine.”

End Chapter

tauchiss
17 September 2006, 04:26 AM
As always Rostek, good work.

Stormrider
19 September 2006, 06:36 AM
Good stuff Rostek! Is the good Doctor a PC or NPC?

and dang nabbit I want more ZeeZee! :D

Rostek
19 September 2006, 10:38 AM
Originally posted by Stormrider
Good stuff Rostek! Is the good Doctor a PC or NPC?

and dang nabbit I want more ZeeZee! :D

The Doc is a PC, and the Mysterious Argos is an NPC who, despite his initial claims, we haven't been able to get rid of ;).

The Zeeze will make an appearance this next chapter, as the boys have to flee (Flee I say!) the Core.

Ronin
22 September 2006, 08:49 AM
Exccceeelllent as usual Mr Rostek :)
When can we anticipate the opportunity to read of this fleeing?

Rostek
22 September 2006, 01:16 PM
Originally posted by Ronin
Exccceeelllent as usual Mr Rostek :)
When can we anticipate the opportunity to read of this fleeing?

Point of fact, I'm writing the escape part as we speak; should be done this weekend (I've got a paper to write on the Iliad for Monday, but I think I'll end up putting it off long enough to do this :D). I'm also in the process of writing a fantasy setting [long term project ;)] and a bit of fiction for that as well, so my updating will generally go a bit slower than advertised, but I think I'm far enough along to be able to promise something on Saturday or Sunday.

PsychoInfiltrator
22 September 2006, 05:57 PM
Excellent all, as per usual. Now I know what a Wroonian looks like. ;)

Seriously, though, Rostek, please do not kill yourself trying to get the next update up on the weekend. Your stuff is always well worth the wait.

Slave_1
23 September 2006, 11:42 AM
All I can say is ... WOW! Rostek you really have talent. I have enjoyed this very much, thanks for the wonderful disctraction from my daily life :)

Rostek
24 September 2006, 11:14 AM
Originally posted by Slave_1
All I can say is ... WOW! Rostek you really have talent. I have enjoyed this very much, thanks for the wonderful disctraction from my daily life :)

Oh my 8o

Chapter XVII: Back in the Saddle Again

The Lazy Rider was almost prepared for takeoff when the motley gang of scoundrels that contained most of her crew and passengers arrived via speeder bike and skiff.

“Open the cargo bay doors: we need to load the bike.” Argos said as his passengers piled off as quickly as they could. Cole, who stood leaning out of the ramp, frowned at this order, but a resigned nod from Calo sent him off to the cargo bay controls quickly.

“Oh, Masters, I am pleased to see you again.” The Zeeze said to Calo and Zac as they pushed past him onto the ship. “Doctor Cahlil! Are you accompanying us?” the droid asked the nervous and bleeding alien, who nodded briskly as he trundled hurriedly up the ramp with a mass of illegal firearms clutched to his chest. The Zeeze, seemingly oblivious to the oddness of the situation, paused for a moment:

”How delightful… I shall have to set another place.” the droid exclaimed, in one of his few truly happy moments.

“Make that two,” added Argos, who showed his bike and skiff onto the now-lowered bay elevator and began to ascend with his ride.



As Zac had predicted, Iziz Control was decidedly not pleased by the Lazy Rider raising ship without permission or warning. So displeased were they, in fact, that a full squadron of TIEs was scrambled to retrieve the errant vessel. Zac and Calo felt honored, really, that they were thought deserving of such attention.

Zac pushed the freighter’s engines to the red-lines to attempt to stay ahead of the unfriendly ships long enough to get out of Onderon’s gravity well. It worked, for the most part. The first flight of fighters caught up with the fleeing freighter with only a minute and a half to a place where a hyperspace jump could be plotted. The rest would only get fifteen seconds or less at the craft before she could bail into the protection of lightspeed. Or so the idea went, anyway.

With time of the essence and the mere presence of return fire enough, generally, to dissuade an average TIE pilot from making any close-in assault runs on a freighter, Calo shouted for Cole and Dr. Cahlil to man the guns whilst he and Zac prepped the Rider for hyperspace in the much-lamented darkness the Rider’s quirks triggered. Zac, constrained by the needs of the navicomputer, kept the ship in a series of single-axis sliding steps that at least kept the Imperial ships from getting too comfortable in their targeting. Calo manned the nav-station punching digits through Cue-Nine’s mathematical knowledge and then into the computer once satisfied that the numbers wouldn’t cause them to jump into an instant death.

For their parts, Cahlil and Cole acquitted themselves well enough, if to little effect, upon the guns, and their constant though highly inaccurate volume of fire prevented the TIEs from getting too close to the fleeing craft. Argos, the mysterious stranger, sat impassively at the comms/sensor station in the cockpit for the duration of the fight, watching Zac and Calo go about their work with an analytical and progressively more satisfied eye.

With a departing salvo from Cole’s gun, the Lazy Rider leapt into Hyperspace.


The Zeeze did indeed set two new place settings that evening, though only the Doctor showed up to dinner proper and ate at the small table—made even smaller by the excess of place settings and the ursine alien’s massive size. Argos declined a meal and instead produced a box of what appeared to be old military ration bars, from which he selected a pair of wrapped items that he then proceeded to chew on quietly at his bedroll in the hold. Cole, wound up still from his first time firing a weapon in action, would not be silent for the first time in his brief stay on the ship. He buffeted his cousins with questions as the two, per their custom, removed The Zeeze’s carefully prepared food from the counter, heaped on disposable plates, and took their dinner in the lounge while watching their recorded entertainment programming and giving perfunctionary nods to Cole’s rapid-fire speech.

It was Zac who first brought up the problem that their untimely departure had presented: “So,” he asked, “the Imperials will no doubt check our filed flight plan that the CMG would have posted this morning. What do we do, Calo? Obviously we can’t just fly off to Falstaff like nothing happened—but at the same time; we have a few appointments that we really need to keep.”

“I had thought of that, naturally,” Calo replied through a mouthful of heavily seasoned tuber mash. He swallowed uncomfortable before he continued: “Of course, we can’t stay on the Rimma—that would be suicidal—because the first time a YT matching our basic hull profile shows up at a port there over the next week or so, alarm bells will go off, and we’ll find our collective ass in the brig,” the elder Vance explained sagely. “Now, there are a few other lanes in the vicinity, but it will take us a few days out of the way to Elshandruu Pica… though I suspect the ‘not being tossed in prison’ business outweighs the inconvenience,” he continued. Zac and Cole both nodded in agreement; with their acknowledgements, Calo forged ahead: “Now, there is the Kama route, which does have the unfortunate tendency to be rather thick with pirates, but it would take us the Ord Haldron, which has a lovely shadowport tucked into the main asteroid belt, or conversely we could take the Lacomedic Pike—but there isn’t much on there. It would be great if we needed to disappear for a spell, but it may not be the best choice for a quick detour around heavily flown lanes.” Calo concluded.

“I’d prefer the Kama Lane, but then, I think our priority should be getting to the Rim as quick as possible. The further we are from the Core, the safer we’ll be.” Zac noted, taking another bite of his tuber mash.

“They’ll be sitting on the Lane—probably at the Haldron Asteroid Station too,” interjected the voice of Argos, who had suddenly appeared at Calo’s shoulder. The freighter captain almost jumped, but restrained himself with effort.

“I’d really rather prefer it if you didn’t do that.” Calo sighed.
Argos shrugged: “Bad habit—I’ll do my best, but no promises. In any case,” he continued, “there is the issue of my earlier promise.”
Zac and Calo nodded expectantly—they had kept up their end of the bargain, after all.

“I lied… at least about knowing who specifically was trying to kill you, though I can tell you who posted the bounty and what the hunters’ ship looks like,” the stranger explained. The Vances were not happy at the man’s admission of misleading them, and suddenly rather more suspicious than before of his motives. While both seemed to acknowledge that Argos had had far easier and more efficient means of killing the both of them earlier, neither had ruled out the idea they were being set up in some spectacular fashion.

“As I was saying,” Argos continued, “the bounty was posted on the Hutt-run network by a Mecetti lord from the Expanse. Eight thousand a piece dead or alive, but preferably with the remains intact, plus six for your ship; you should be proud. There’s also an Imperial bounty of three for the both of you, alive—appearances must be kept up, of course. As I gather it, you rather embarrassed the lord’s baby boy whilst escaping pursuit—no doubt in a similar manner to our recent escape. If you were as efficient then as you were just now, then I can see how a flight leader could find himself offended… A pair of hunters has taken the contract; they’re out of the Corporate Sector, and they’ve been known to be terribly efficient at taking their marks; they specialize in fugitives with a ship, though apparently you two are rumored to be enough of a challenge to be worth their while: Congratulations.”

End Chapter

tauchiss
24 September 2006, 11:22 AM
YABADABA DOOO!!!

Need i say more ? ;) :) :D

Great as always, Rostek

Darth_Vader2005
25 September 2006, 11:00 AM
Originally posted by Rostek ]Wow... better than the World Cup? I'm quite honored B)



Well given how badly England did in the World Cup almost anything is better ;)

Rostek
9 October 2006, 01:21 PM
Alright, school has been beating my sorry butt (it's as if they think I'm there to get an education or something :rolleyes: sigh...), so I've been denied opportunities to write, so unless you guys are interested in reading about the evolution of the Hoplite system in Ancient Greece, I don't have much to offer for this update. However, hopefully this bit will tie you over for a while. I won't be able to post much, much less write this weekend-- it's Homecoming, so with any luck I'll be reeking of booze on some frat house [god willing, couch, but more likely floor] Friday night and Saturday morning ;)

So, without further ado and lamentation on my part:

Chapter XVIII: Going to Ground

Calo did not take the news very well—indeed, only the presence of a plate of food upon his lap saved Argos from a dive-preceded throttling.

The news was, on a scale, rather closer to “terrible” than simply “troubling” and even the seemingly superhumanly upbeat Cole was struck dumb by the implications.

“The good news,” Argos continued, breaking the silence, “is that their ship is probably not a match for this one in a fair fight… though I daresay they will only engage you in circumstances that would be decidedly unfair.”

“Good call…” Zac muttered sardonically. Argos ignored him.

“It’s a scout ship—kind of boxy-like and maneuvers like a dead bantha, but has good endurance and straightaway speed. Rumors say she’s got a pair of linked ion cannon and an autoblaster, all up front,” the mysterious stranger added. Calo and Zac both cursed beneath their breath: the ion cannon, while they had expected such things, would complicate any fight a great deal, especially if the hunters got the drop.

“You’ll need to up-gun.” Doctor Cahlil stated plainly from the lounge entrance, where he leaned against the bulkhead; obviously he had finished dinner.

“So is everyone going to jump in with their opinions?” Calo rhetorically ventured, acidly.

“Oh, yes, master—I believe the Doctor is correct. My experience with martial matters is of course somewhat limited, though I daresay that we will be terribly vulnerable to a surprise attack using ion cannon. Oh, the thought alone makes my circuits quiver, masters.” The Zeeze interjected in a disgustingly helpful tone. The droid had apparently followed the Doctor into the lounge area.

“Anyone else have anything to add?” Calo asked acidly, which caused Zac to chuff with a quiet chuckle, which only infuriated his brother further.

“Great… I suppose that means we should avoid the likely lines…” Calo started.

“Unless they know that’s the strategy you’d take, unless they know you know they know...” Cole interjected nervously.*

Calo moaned irritably, and once again only was stopped from assault by the plate of food on his lap.

“Let’s not overthink this…” Argos said before things got out of hand, “We should proceed as you would knowing you are being followed, unless you wish to ambush your would be assassins, in which case you should act normally as if you were fleeing a felony charge,” he continued. The whole exchange made a great deal of sense to both Calo and Zac, although Cole seemed intent on pursuing the various lengths at which the intellectual chess game could proceed… and was subsequently ignored by everyone else save The Zeeze, who listened raptly as the other four left for the cockpit to change course

They were going to Ord Haldron, to see what they could see.



*Cole’s player has a disgusting habit of doing this whenever discussing a course of action; he knows everyone else finds it annoying, so he usually indulges with great gusto and at absurd length. Sigh, PCs…

End Chapter

tauchiss
9 October 2006, 01:46 PM
Don't get to loaded and do something stupid. This story is to good for that!!! ;)

It's getting a bit redundent but...

GREAT WORK :D

PsychoInfiltrator
10 October 2006, 07:08 PM
so unless you guys are interested in reading about the evolution of the Hoplite system in Ancient Greece, I don't have much to offer for this update.

Ooh! Ooh! Me! Me! I love ancient history.


*Cole’s player has a disgusting habit of doing this whenever discussing a course of action; he knows everyone else finds it annoying, so he usually indulges with great gusto and at absurd length. Sigh, PCs…

Somehow, I empathize with him.

Anyway, great work as usual Rostek, and feel free to point me in the right direction on the whole Hoplite thing...preferrably without using a spear. ;)

Please, wait until sober before posting. And if you do nto know why I just said that, you probably are not. :D

Ubiqtorate
16 October 2006, 12:42 AM
Rostek, I'm still not anywhere close to catching up on everything you're written here, but I wanted to sound off anyway. I love the style you've got going here. You've got a knack for dry humor. I'm especially enjoying the matter-of-fact, understated way you describe the situations the brothers get themselves into.

Hopefully someday I'll get around to catching up on all of this. Until then, though, at least I've got something to read whenever I want. No waiting for the next installment for me!

Rostek
30 October 2006, 06:51 AM
Good news, everyone-- school is nearly over for the semester (Nov. 18... so... close :D), so I'll be able to write much more, soon. I've also nearly finished the latest installment (it will be a doublesized one, for your waiting), which I will get posted some time before Friday.

Ronin
31 October 2006, 07:02 AM
'bout time too! ;)

Rostek
31 October 2006, 02:44 PM
Chapter XIV: Who Loves the Desperate?

Argos sat at the holochess table with Cue-Nine, stroking the hound pup that had nuzzled into the crook of his shoulder. The droid was doing rather well, though it could be fair to say that Argos was not paying all that much attention.

Calo, despite his better judgment, had decided to allow Cole to take a watch while he dozed on and off upon the lounge couch while Zac played holoscreen games on the floor before him. The lights were dim, due to the precaution of keeping the guns on pre-powered cycle, so they could be powered up quickly in case of ambush. Even in hyperspace, one could never be too careful on the pirate infested Kama Route, especially when they were being actively hunted by bounty hunters.

Suddenly, Calo sat up with a start—“We didn’t check the ship for the tracker!” he shouted, causing Zac to wince at the noise, and waking up the hound, which jumped from Argos’ arms and trundled over to the couch, only to begin to bark irritably.

Zac sighed, “I though you wanted them to find us,” he said, eyebrow raised, as he paused the old-fashioned platforming game.

“True,” Calo said, now wide awake, “but I think that not looking for that tracker is a tad suspicious, plus we don’t want to forget about it, do we?” he explained.

“Fair enough… why don’t we have The Zeeze take care of it? He and Cue-Nine can probably sniff the thing out—if they do, in fact, have one; after all, we still don’t know that the bounty hunters in question are the ones I sold that tracker to.” Zac offered with a shrug. Cue-Nine, bemused at being volunteered but bound by programming to fulfill such tasks, turned off the game with disgust and rolled off into the cargo bay, tootling angrily to himself.

“That answers my next question,” Calo deadpanned, “I suppose I’m wide awake now, aren’t I? Let’s go have a look-see at Cynabar’s and find us an outlaw tech who can up gun the Rider a bit once we get to Elrood.”


Calo and Zac were still pouring over the illegal datanet when the Lazy Rider dropped out of hyperspace.

“We’re uh… twenty-five minutes or so from the asteroid belt,” said Cole’s shaky voice over the intercom.

Calo sighed, and shut off the computer monitor. He and his brother had become distracted by various ads for illegal activities on the ‘net, and had only barely cracked the listing of outlaw tech services. Still, a few candidates were forthcoming, and the search was not a total loss. In any case, both he and Zac were needed in the cockpit.


“Okay, kid—get on the ventral gun and keep scanning for us.” Zac said, taking his customary chair while Calo did the same. Cole nodded and jogged down the corridor to the gunwell to would join the Doctor, who had manned the dorsal position even during the hyperspace trip—just in case any pirate or their bounty hunter pursuers attempted the Barricade maneuver to pull them out prematurely.

Argos entered the cockpit and once again took one of the rear seats wordlessly. Calo and Zac both ignored him, and began preparations for the run through the asteroid field.

“Twenty-five minutes my ass,” Calo remarked, observing the sensor screen and punching another set of digits into the computer, “Pop the throttle and we’ll be there in nine minutes, plus another five to get to the port.”

“Make that ten, just to account for course correction,” Zac replied busily.


Zac weaved the Rider through the fairly loose asteroid field with little effort, despite being wary for ambush within the array of rocky bodies. No enemy came—and before long, Calo had convinced the portmaster of his ship’s worthiness to dock. Zac maneuvered the ship through the tight cluster of small rocks that orbited a large planetoid which housed the shadowport, and set the craft down within one of the smaller bays that dotted the surface of the asteroid.


Their location being a shadowport, neither Calo nor Zac could come up with a convincing reason not to go out as heavily armed as possible—it was not likely, after all, to attract nearly as much attention as it would in a legitimate port. Doctor Cahlil quickly picked up the concussion rifle once again, and donned a cassock that he and Argos had crafted from some of the leftover furniture upholstery, as his old tunic was torn and bloody from the explosion on Onderon.

“I assume,” Argos ventured, “that you are going to try and find something a bit nicer while we’re here. I’m sure there is a clothing shop that caters to non-humans there, as there isn’t much of that sort of thing at Imperial controlled ports; the market would seem to demand it,” the mysterious fellow reasoned.

The ursine alien shrugged and nodded as he loaded his weapon, then called for Zac to add a clothiers’ to Calo’s list of visits. The alien and the pilot would guard the ship whilst Calo, Cole and Argos would purchase the necessary supplies for a long endurance run to the Rim and try to determine the precise identity of their attacker.

“All right… are we ready?” Calo asked his assembled group. Argos armed with a hold-out hidden somewhere in his flowing brown and tan robes and who led a repulsor sled in tow, nodded, as did a carbine toting Cole. The weapon, even the short piece that it was, looked far too large for the boy’s hands, but he toted it with enthusiasm if not authority. He had substituted an odd construction of space tape, upholstery and discarded ceramic tiles from the Rider’s old battery insulation array for his normal undershirt, and one could see the blocky outline of the makeshift vest under his long-sleeved black and green tunic, the sleeves of which had been rolled up to the nerf-leather elbow pads. He had crafted the vest with Cue-Nine’s assistance (after being assured the tiles were not radioactive), despite assurances from Calo and Zac that the whole affair was a waste of time. They had enlisted the Doctor to give his medical opinion about the aggregate stopping power of the rig, but to no avail—he was wearing the damned thing no matter.

Calo sighed, donned his captain’s hat and took point for the motley group as they left the bay.

The station’s air was cold and stale, as befitting an operation that was designed to be understated and geared towards long-term endurance and efficiency.

The port security, if one could legitimately call the single dented battle droid that scanned Calo’s datapad “security” in any serious sense, barely interrupted the group’s journey into the innards of the asteroid. There were shops arrayed around a central hub that housed the main cantina and gambling den, called the "Rock House". Though uncreatively named, Calo vaguely recalled a reputation for quality information dealing and cheap shots of the locally distilled rotgut.

It seemed logical to get this part of the affair out of the way first—Calo did not want to leave one of his companions outside to guard a sled full of goods—and therefore the group entered the place, with Argos deactivating the repulsor unit on the sled and parking the device at a nearby table. At Calo’s urging, Cole slung the carbine over his shoulder; this was not the place to have someone misunderstand one’s intentions, and the boy was already beginning to draw looks.

A scantily clad Twi’lek server sauntered to the table to see about the group’s order… While Calo found the ostentatious display of alien flesh that seemed to pervade the entire place rather tacky and clichéd, and Argos took the whole affair in which his typical impenetrable aloofness, Cole had no objections to the décor, and lingered constantly much to his elder cousin’s consternation. Still, the tramp captain was compelled to make his inquiries nonetheless.

“I will have the house special; there’s an extra five credits in it for you if you direct me to a gentleman who may enlighten my interests.” Calo said politely. The blue-skinned alien nodded and smiled coyly while biting her lower lip.

“An ice water, if you please—non-recycled if possible.” Argos asked neutrally.

“Very good sir,” the server replied, tapping her datapad. Noting that flirting with Argos was a total waste of time, she simply turned to the last individual of the group: “And what about you, dear?” she asked teasingly. Cole stiffened in his chair, blinking as if the question were totally random.

“Err…” he started, trying without success to hide the break in his voice, “house special sounds good to me,” he eventually managed to get out, with somewhat more success in keeping his voice more or less level. Calo was about to intervene but decided instead that experience would be the best teacher, and remained quiet. Argos said nothing, but raised an eyebrow with restrained interest. The server seemed positively tickled by the whole thing, and bounced off to the bar to fetch the order.


Calo was thankful that Cole’s hair was too short to require holding back as the young man retched into the ‘fresher toilet. Calo stood outside the stall, checking his chronometer as the fourth minute of vomiting began. The local brew was eye-wateringly powerful even for a seasoned drinker like Calo—for a virgin stomach it was as overpowering as a proton bomb being dropped down one’s throat.

“What have we learned about underage drinking?” Calo said in sing-song as the retching subsided.

“I hate you…” came the subdued reply as Cole staggered out of the stall, looking pale and still nauseous.

“That’s right.” Calo chuckled as the two exited the ‘fresher room.

Argos sat demurely in waiting, sipping his ice water patiently.

Calo took a handful of tunic at Cole’s neck and guided his cousin back into his seat, though the young man landed more heavily than he had intended. The waitress’ giggle could be heard from across the cantina.

A sophisticated looking reptilian alien (Tiss’shar to Calo’s eye) with a brightly colored sash and diamond scale pattern approached the table.

“Greetings,” it intoned in fine but accented Basic.

“Greetings yourself,” Calo replied nonchalantly.

“I understand you pursue knowledge. I am also a connoisseur of such things… I may be able to assist you in your quest,” he (or whatever…) explained politely.

“How much would you require for your assistance?” Calo asked, eyebrow raised.

“Perhaps… three thousand if you require what I believe you require.”

“I’ll meet that price, if you can also give me a name and location for a trustworthy outlaw tech near Elrood.” Calo countered

“For that… I will require and extra two hundred.”

“One hundred.”

“One seventy-five—and I assure you he is quite good.”

“Done.” Calo said, sliding the credits to the alien, who gingerly palmed them before causing them to disappear into some hidden pocket, more than likely in the sash.

The saurian quickly wrote a few lines down on his datapad, and then handed it to Calo.

“There, captain, is the information you require. Also, though they assumed you would take the route less traveled, they will not be here at the moment. They have, however, a contact who has inevitably alerted them to your presence, and they will be here within two days. I rather recommend that you be well on your way before then. These two aren’t ones for handing out head starts,” the information broker explained before leaving.

Draining the last of his beverage, Calo pocketed the datapad and directed his fellows to leave

Finish...

tauchiss
1 November 2006, 04:44 AM
Good work Rostek!

Iain Kysler, Jedi Apprentice
5 November 2006, 04:34 AM
I've been reading straight through, and I must say...

Oustanding job, Rostek. You certainly know how to keep people's attention. You've brightened my day (and it certainly needed brightening...). I'll be waiting impatiently for your next post. Excellent work, and please keep it up!

Rostek
14 January 2007, 02:23 PM
Chapter XV: We Love the Desperate, Evidentially...

The freighter crew hurried with their preparations: a set of white robes for the Doctor, a new set of power couplings for the parts closet and, of course, fresh rations.
Furtively glancing behind them and at their sides at frequent intervals, the trio finally completed their shopping and sped to the hanger bay at their best speed with Cole pushing the overloaded and underpowered sled for all he was worth.

“Took you long enough…” Zac called out as they made it into the docking bay. Calo ignored the catcall and directed his companions to load the cargo into the hold whilst he and Zac prepped the Rider for departure.

“So, any word on our pursuers?” Zac asked as the two walked up the ramp. Calo wordlessly handed his brother the datapad.

The pilot gave a low whistle: “No news like good news,” he grimaced.

“Quite… at least we have a head start to Elshandruu Pica, though we might have to talk Edani into doing the main conferencing off-planet. He probably isn’t going to like the change in plan—and he is going to hate the added complication of teaming up with us when we are more wanted than usual,” Calo replied with a sigh.

“No one ever said this business was easy.” Zac shrugged.

“Yes they do—that’s the primary recruiting line for spacers. Crap, that’s what Edani told us, after all.” Calo rejoined bitterly.

“Fine; why don’t we go with ‘simple’, then.”

“I suppose that would be accurate…”

The Lazy Rider flashed through the system and quickly escaped to hyperspace, not bothering to alert the gentlemen in the tower.

As the bay was part of a shadowport, however, no one took particular notice—save for the docking bay owner, who alerted the controllers that his bay was once again open for paying customers who could afford the inflated prices he (and the other bay owners) charged for their semi-adequate facilities.

No one noticed either that the freighter turned not for Eriadu, the natural stopover point for a run to Elrood, but towards Elshandruu Pica, well out of the way for those who would travel on the Rimma, the fastest route to Elrood. Argos, the mysterious traveler, looked strangely self-satisfied as he entered the cockpit, just before the aforementioned jump to lightspeed. Calo and Zac thought it best to ignore it, and hope that his emoting meant a positive for the Rider and her crew rather than some sort of clever plot of malignant intent coming to fruition. In any case, once informed that the tracking station appeared to have turned off their sensor dome as the ship cleared the asteroid field, the enigmatic Soccoran left for his palette in the hold with an even more sated countenance, all much to the Vances’ paranoid concern-slash-hopefulness.

Zac’s voice came over the ship’s comm. system: “Welcome, boys and girls, to Elshandruu Pica.”

The world was partly covered in clouds over the teal-green seas and lush resort islands along the western coast of the primary continent, no doubt full of electricity—this planet did not lend its name to the “Elshandruu Pica Thundercloud” for no good reason. The front would inevitably complicate landing, but the primary starport was large enough so as to accommodate ships with shaky approaches, as these storms were quite common indeed.

The passengers and crew of the Lazy Rider were pleased at their arrival. The last week had been spent in cramped discomfort, constantly vigilant for Barricade maneuvers made to pull them out of hyperspace as prey for the bounty hunters or pirates. Even Argos seemed uneasy, for the first time since he bought passage aboard the freighter with his serendipitous heroics.

As the Corellian ship touched down on the pad, no one—not even the normally sharp-witted Calo—commented on the less than stellar landing. The Zeeze quietly disposed of a few broken glass pieces as all the others departed the ship and stretched their legs in real planetary gravity for the first time in too long, and breathed in the sweet air of Elshandruu Pica.. It was a decidedly positive change of pace for everyone.

The customs inspection was cursory and sped along by a small bribe unobtrusively passed along to the local Inspector by Zac. It was mostly irrelevant—very little aboard the ship was apparently illegal, but time was of the essence.

With the droids left about the locked down ship, the Vance brothers led their associates to the massive edifice that marked the finest entertainment establishment this side of the Colonies: Margath's.

Eschewing the larger parts of the complex, including the famous 27th Hour Social Club, the party entered The Rimstop Grille and Bar, where in one of the secluded booths, Captain Edani chatted with Captain Galena and her first officer, a pretty but rather high strung Rutian Twi’lek.

“Edani, Galena…”

“Your timing is uncanny, Calo… we were about ready to pack it up for the day,” Edani interrupted with a smile.

“I’m happy to please… so, should we perhaps work out a few details of the potential corporation, like the time and place for negotiations?”

“I’m somewhat concerned by the rumors that you boys are under a bounty, Calo. I really don’t like the idea of being a target for some overzealous hunter,” Edani replied calmly.

“Crap...” Zac muttered before he was shushed by Calo.

“Just what I was going to deal with first,” Calo started, “Zac and I were thinking we should move this little convention off planet to a mutually acceptable location, after We know who is following us, and their general tactics, though admittedly, we haven’t seen the hunters yet.”

“I can arrange for the bounty to be undone,” Galena interjected, surprising everyone at the table.

“How, pray, can you manage that” Zac asked before anyone else could recover their wits.

“Well… I can’t do it personally, of course, but I know some folks who can get into the Hutt network and talk a Councilor into removing the bounty. The official bounty probably isn’t worth a decent hunter’s time, even as pin money, right?”

“Right,” Calo agreed.

“So if the Hutt network bounty is removed, we are good to fly?” Cole interjected excitedly.

“Uh-huh…” Calo replied with raised eyebrow. The kid was supposed to be dropped off in a few weeks, what did he care?

“Who are these people then, and what is the catch?” Zac continued to Galena, who grimaced.

“That is going to be the trick. They have an agent or three on-planet, but they are kind of paranoid. The group is, however, desperate enough to accept you on my invitation alone. They will probably want a trade in kind, since I doubt you can cover what it would cost in cash.”

“Who the hell are these guys?” Calo asked, now concerned given the woman’s description.

“Rebels, I’ll bet,” Edani deadpanned.

“Well…” Galena’s face contorted.

Calo moaned and Zac crashed his head on the table:

“Oh, crap…”

End Chapter

Okay, I may have lied slightly to preserve dramatic tension... this is where the "prelude" ends, and from now we move on to actual play (I had previously claimed that that transition would occur when we got to Elrood, which for reasons that will soon become apparent, would be rather impossible). When I get the first session written up properly, it will come in a new thread.
As you may guess, the first adventure involves Rebels :D

Thanks all for your patience and patronage-- and be assured I haven't forgot about my loyal audience ;)

Ubiqtorate
14 January 2007, 02:32 PM
Wow, so that's it, huh? I guess this means that now I know what (and how much) I actually have to read to catch up.

Rostek
14 January 2007, 03:32 PM
Originally posted by Ubiqtorate
Wow, so that's it, huh? I guess this means that now I know what (and how much) I actually have to read to catch up.

Pretty much-- I am cobbling together the first couple of sessions from a combination of memory and poorly scribbled notes, so there will be a large amount of dramatic license in the dialog (but hopefully it will keep the spirit of the sessions). I should be through the first part of the first session by mid-week at the latest, depending of course, on what assignments my professors stick me with in the interim.

I'm kind of shocked about how much I wrote on the prelude (sixty-some pages, IIRC), but I do like to think it was worth it.

tauchiss
14 January 2007, 04:53 PM
As a dedicated reader, I say, and I'm sure you all agree with me, that it definately was.

Great Work Rostek, and I look forward to reading about the games

PsychoInfiltrator
14 January 2007, 05:22 PM
The traditional Rostek quality continues.

Two thumbs up.

Rostek
17 January 2007, 05:37 PM
The "Sequel" thread is up as of this afternoon:

Run to the Rim (http://holonet.swrpgnetwork.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=244751)

Enjoy, and feedback me!

Ronin
18 January 2007, 03:55 AM
Very good stuff mate! :)
I'm looking forward to reading the actual "game" material too.

Ubiqtorate
5 September 2007, 06:38 PM
Hey, Rostek, I finally went back and read the whole thing! You can be pretty prolific, you know. ;)

What I said earlier pretty much stands. I loved the dry humor, especially in the narrative commentary. It sounds like you've got a bunch of quirky, dynamic characters in the game, and you've been able to capture what makes them unique. Now I need to go and read some more of the stuff you've got up here. Keep it up!