View Full Version : Beginnings And Ends

Jax Nova
15 April 2008, 03:02 PM
This is a new fanfic I was writting, kindof an experimental thing. Hope you guys like it.

Let me know what you think.

Beginnings And Ends

Chapter 1: What’s The Price?
I sat in my luxurious red upholstered chair that I had ‘acquired’ from Naboo, as the music blared from my pocket stereo. Thief was such a strong word. I preferred to think of myself as a patriot. After all I only stole from the empire or their supporters. I was simply doing my part in the rebellion.

After all… I couldn’t fight if my life depended on it. That’s why I relied on more subtle skills to be sure that I never had to. My name was Tilon Gror, but the world knew me as the ‘Black Web.’ Well… Actually they thought the Black Web was an organization. But that just helped to hide my identity.

After finishing my training as an independent contractor with Black Sun I decided to give them the cold shoulder and head out on my own ventures. This, of course, was strongly discouraged. That never bothered me though. At least not yet.

I stood up and looked at my face in the mirror. I grabbed the purple skin and ripped off the twi’lek mask that I had just used in my last job. Underneath my dark brown hair and sturdy built face were wet from sweat. These suits were always hot. But it was worth it this time.

I had just walked into a heavily populated area, taken out a storm trooper, (only by catching him off guard mind you) and stolen his commanding officer’s BARC speeder. I had hidden the thing deep inside the old sewers far below the city. The two day walk back to my apartment was also worth it. The BARC speeders sold for over a million credits retail, but only imperials could buy them. Selling it to an underground dealer it would hopefully bring an even million. It was jobs like these that made the rest of the year easy. Pit-pocketing drunk imperial officers when they went to the bar after work, maybe lifting their weapons too.
took off the rest of my disguise and stuffed it in my favorite toy. The chemical disrupting base element reconfigurer… or CDR. The nifty little device took my disguise and separated every element in it back to it’s base form. I could now dispose of the materials in completely separate places. A few of them might be traceable if the police thought to look there, but having only one of the element wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow, they would be looking for a suit, assuming they thought to look for anything other than a purple skinned twi’lek.

I pulled off my sweat soaked shirt, revealing my fit figure in the mirror. I often wondered why I couldn’t fight since I was so strong. Of course scaling buildings, climbing ropes, hanging on the bottom of transports and other things that came with the territory of my profession tended to keep me in pretty good shape.

I walked across the cool metallic floor and climbed in bed, pulling the white and blue embroidered covers up to my chin. I would need to sell that BARC as soon as possible, which meant tomorrow.

The next morning I woke up early, well rested and ready to go. I jumped out of bed, did my typical exercise routine, and dressed. I stepped through my bedroom door and into the kitchen/living room/dinning room of my small three room apartment. “One of these days I’ll get a place of my own,” I always told myself.

I grabbed some meat out of the cooler and poured myself a cup of Ossus thistle-milk. I had acquired a taste for the bizarre beverage during a visit to that planet a few years ago. Taking my breakfast I headed to the bathroom, eating on my way. I finished my meal, gulped down my thistle-milk and then brushed my teeth.

After taking care of my dishes I packed a few non-perishable food items and some more thistle milk in my pack before heading out the door. Hopefully I would be able to find a buyer and get a ride to my BARC instead of having to walk down there and bring it to them. But you never knew. Since I had nearly the entire map of the lower, deserted, levels of Coruscant memorized I didn’t need to ‘save my hiding spot’ for my loot.

I walked out onto the busy streets and headed to the ‘bad part of town.’ I had a few contacts there that might be interested in my offer. But one after another they came up with the same excuse. “Weapons and armor are one thing, but a BARC isn’t something you can just sweep under the rug! I’m not equipped to take on something like this.”

“Hut-huggers. The lot of them,” I labeled them in aggravation. The biggest job I had ever pulled and now no one wanted it. I had one last place to try. My old friend Glosky, who had first introduced me to my current profession.

Glosky ran a tight shift, but you would never know it if you didn’t know him or work for him. His rickety old tin shack was set up on the old streets in the lower levels of Coruscant where pedestrians rarely ventured. He ran a ‘repair shop’ for the poor souls who were unfortunate enough to live in the slums. Truth be told you can’t make a living doing that. Fortunate for Glosky that wasn’t all he did.

The front junk yard was filled with broken down speeders, air cars, and small ships. Most of them were there for show and didn’t even have someone waiting to get them back. “Glosky! You here?” I yelled out, inhaling the smell of rust as I entered his domain.

“Tilon? Is that you?” the old caridan called in his scratchy voice. His bibulous form sat ontop of two skinny legs. His toothpick like arms had two fingers and a thumb. “What can I do for you today lad?” he asked raising his bushy, upturned eyebrows.

“I’ve got a vehicle that I need to sell,” I explained. “It’s a good ride but it’s just not my style so I’m looking to get something a little different.”

The elderly alien ran his hand through his thinning hair. “Come on in, lets see what you’ve got.”

I followed Glosky through his red rusted door as it slid open. I flipped on the hollo image that I had taken a few days before. Glosky’s face light up like a blaster muzzle being fired.

“Where did you get that?” he asked with surprise.

“Some hotshot imp officer left it running while he did a search of some house,” I explained. “I just happened to be wearing a disguise, intending to do some work.”

“This piece is going to be pretty hot. I wouldn’t be able to sell it around her for years unless it went to parts. It would be a hard task to get it off the planet.” Glosky seemed to be thinking. “It would be a real shame to see this thing enter the chop shop. But I can’t take it any other way.”

“How much?” I asked, knowing the process would cut down on the price.

Glosky sat down and leaned back in his old worn chair. “No more than fifty thousand.”

“Fifty thousand?” I asked in surprise.

“Sorry kid but that’s all it’s worth if you run it through the shop,” Glosky assured me. “I’ll tell you what. You call that debt of ours even and I’ll give you the contact information to someone who is set up to take in this kind of item.”

I had run some errands for Glosky a year or two back for cheep when he was hurting financially. It seemed like a fine trade to me if this guy would take the bike. “Sure.”

“Now mind you, I’m not guaranteeing he’s going to take it,” Glosky reminded me as he downloaded the information into my data pad.

“Well, I guess then if he doesn’t buy then you still owe me,” I said with a wry grin.

Glosky cleared his throat in evident protest. “Now look here, this contact information would normally be sold for several thousand credits. This is a big operation this guy runs and he can take everything from weapons up to space ships. That in itself is worth us being even.”

“Alright you win,” I conceded. “This time.”

Glosky chuckled as I walked out of his shop. Now I just needed to contact this guy, which I did on my way back to my apartment. I hoped he would reply the same day but he didn’t, and I knew he wouldn’t. He would have to check me out, run background checks and grill contacts for information on me, (Which he wouldn’t find much of. I was far to careful.) and of course he would have to call Glosky to confirm that he was the one that gave me the contact info.

I walked through the busy streets, bumping into passing pedestrians here and there, some intentionally some not. A few imperial officers passed by. I bumped into the highest ranking officer, but didn’t stop to apologize. With the crowded streets he wouldn’t think anything of it I figured.

The officer stopped as we brushed shoulders so I quickly ducked around behind him and through a crowd of taller aliens. He was looking around as if he suspected something but soon carried on with his walk.

I stood patiently on the lift as it raised up to the five hundredth story of the giant apartment filled skyscraper that I currently called home. I walked down the halls, passing a young single mother who lived just down the hall.

“Good evening,” The twi’lek greeted me in her native tongue.

I nodded a reply and passed by. After entering my room I took out the data pad and two random objects that I had managed to grab from the officer’s pocket. I tossed the data pad on my sofa and looked at the first object as I pulled it out of my pocket.

A keycard. Some might think that was worth something but it wasn’t. I tossed it in my CDR. Once the imperial officer found out it was missing he would change the lock on whatever door it went to. And that would be long before I found out which door it went to.

Next was a holo-disk. This is what I liked to find. Often times the officers would write down passwords, accounts, and other useful information. Of course passwords to imperial facilities were always good, but it would be the same as the key card, changed before I could utilize them. If he had the password to his data pad, however, that would save me a lot of time trying to crack it on my own.

I turned the data pad on, sitting down on my dark blue leather sofa. I flipped through the pages of the disk, trying every random word or word combination that could possibly be a password. Nothing turned up. To bad for me this imp had a decent memory.

I plugged the data pad into my own and set to work. I had three different programs working all at the same time to try and crack the code. Within minutes I found out why the imperial officer didn’t need to write his password down. The program tried the simplest suggestions first. ‘Coruscant.’ “What kind of a password is that?” I questioned. Some times you just got lucky. Of course that could also mean there wasn’t much worth protecting on the data pad. I searched through the files. Old files, new files, deleted files, supposedly erased files. There were ways to recover them.

‘Bank transfer’ caught my eye. That was exactly what I was looking for. I opened the file and sure enough, it had his account number. Now came the fun part. I had worked on this process for months before perfecting it. I transferred his funds to another account, that account transferred them to a number of other accounts until it was finally withdrawn from one by an unknown individual who said something about buying a large ship to take on vacation.

The ship company, of course, for some strange reason had a record of sale for exactly the amount withdrawn even though they didn’t seem to be lacking a ship and no one remembered anyone buying one.

The money, since it never appeared in the funds, naturally had to have gone somewhere. That’s why an unknown transmission was sent from the facility to a black sun operative who didn’t really exist… as far as I knew anyway.

I know… it’s not smart using black sun as your fall guy. But if the cops couldn’t figure out who did it then chances were neither would black sun. And if they did… well I figured I would burn that bridge when I came to it.

By the time I was finished with my song and dance it was nearly three in the morning. I figured I should get some sleep before my new contact replied so I headed for the bed. I woke up some time before dinner and headed over to my kitchen area, grabbed some food and went straight for my data pad.

There it was, the message that I was waiting for. Apparently this man, who called himself Glade Mist, figured my BARC was worth a look, but not enough so that I could do it on my own terms. But after all I was a new contact.

I scrolled down on the letter and kept on reading. I was to meet him in the Ushyin theater for the eleven o’clock show, standard time. It wasn’t a bad plan, I was planning to take it easy anyway, maybe seeing a show was just what I needed.

I grabbed my black leather jacket and a disguise and headed out my door. It would take a while to get there and of course I would have to scout out the entire area before going into the deal. I needed to know every exit in the building, and every possible escape rout that could be used as an exit even though it was never intended to be used as one. I needed to know the security system, the placement of cameras and other security devices. I needed to know what locations were safe from sight, sound, and attack. I needed to identify everything in the building that I could potentially use as a weapon, or any other kind of tool if I ended up having need of such things. In short… I had a full day of work to complete in a few short hours.

I rushed over and began staking out the place. First I gathered the information on the outside grounds. There were three speeders that for sure had guns in them, and several more that likely had some sort of weaponry. Including the windows there were exactly fifty two visible exits from the theater. The best rout of escape would obviously be through the dark alley in the back and out onto the busy street. But that was expected. A less ethical, but perhaps more effective exit would be through the front door. There was a constant flow of people to loose yourself in and ten different exits. Once outside I could quickly slide beneath a speeder or something, crawl along the ground and disappear off the edge of the building, falling down to the slums below. That’s why I made sure there was a plexafilm one-use rocket parachute in my jacket pocket.

I headed indoors. It looked good. Lots of people, numerous hallways, side rooms, and most of it had low lighting. I headed to a secluded corner and pulled up the theater’s blueprints on my data pad. A quick walk through the main parts of the building revealed minimal security, which wasn’t surprising for a theater. Things were looking good as eleven standard time approached.

A blue hover car pulled up and a suspicious looking gentleman walked out. His brown hair was obviously a wig and his glasses were equipped with sensors of various kinds. “I hope that’s not him,” I said to myself. Anyone who was set up to take the kind of stuff that Glosky was talking about couldn’t be that obvious could they?

I shook my head and followed the man just in case. He didn’t stop in the designated corner. “Thank goodness,” I thought. I was hopping to meet a true professional.

The line of people continued to flow in for the show that was premiering that evening. One by one they bought their tickets and moved on. Finally a young man stopped in the corner to jumble around in his bag. I waited… He finished in his bag and looked around, standing there motionless. Once again I hopped this wasn’t they guy. Anyone that young couldn’t be the head of a respectable operation.

I walked up to the young man. He was no older than eighteen and still had some acne marking his face. “Excuse me,” I said, approaching casually. “Would you happen to have the time?” I asked.

The young man looked at me with raised eyebrow, then glanced down at his watch. “Uh… It’s eleven O two.”

“Thank you sir,” I said with a smile and a nod. Once again it wasn’t him I was happy to discover.

Suddenly I noticed someone stopped behind me. I stayed cool, it wasn’t unusual after all to have someone stop behind you in a crowed. I stepped into a larger group of people, squeezing through the line and making a tight circle. With my back now to the wall I identified the man. He was a typical looking Twi’lek man of middle age.

He glanced around momentarily and headed over towards the corner, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. The young human who was in the corner smiled cheerfully as his young Duros lady friend approached. The two kissed lightly and walked off as I shuddered in disparagement.

“A human and a duros?” I wondered silently. It wasn’t anything personal it’s just the two species didn’t mix… not as far as looks go. I could see a rodian and a duros getting together… Maybe even a bith and duros. But not a human.

I shook my head and looked back to the red twi’lek man who stood waiting casually in the corner. He was calm, collected, and blended in with the crowd perfectly. He had the kind of face you wouldn’t notice even if he was in an imperial prison line up. That was just the kind of man I was wanting to deal with.

I walked over to the twi’lek in my Kurtzen disguise. “Excuse me sir,” I approached him. “Do you have the time?” I asked.

The man smiled and looked down at his watch. “I’m afraid I don’t,” he said. “It seems that my wrist computer is broken.”

“Well, most of e’m are junk anyway. A data pad is much more reliable,” I assured him. I pulled my data pad out of my pocket. “This thing here is nine years old. Hasn’t messed up on me once.”

The man raised what seemed to be an honestly surprised eyebrow but I chalked it up to good acting on his part. “Impressive,” he admitted. “Perhaps I could take a look at it. I may have to buy me one.”

“It’s a very rare model. I’ll download the specs if you want them,” I offered.

“Certainly!” he said excitedly, pulling his own data pad out and turning it on.

I streamed across the pictures and details on the BARC speeder. His expression, despite his superb acting skills, seemed a little surprised. “This is fascinating,” he said calmly.

“Ain’t it though?” I said with a roguish grin.

Soon a message was sitting in my inbox with a price of what they were willing to offer and further instructions. I was honestly surprised that they weren’t taking more precautions for a first time meeting of a possible contact who may be working for the cops… or rivals. But I knew they had at least three other men in the room with me, I had noticed that much.

“Well, the hollovid is starting,” I told him with friendly smile. “Don’t wanna miss the action.” I waved goodbye and headed down the hall. Most people would head straight home after pulling off a meeting, but I didn’t like doing that. If someone else was watching they would know there was something weird going on. And even though I knew no one else would be watching it was always safer just incase. Besides… I was actually looking forward to seeing this particular hollovid.

I stepped into the darkened theater and took a seat. The introduction was just flashing up on the screen for the main feature. The three hour show mostly flowed through my mind pretty much in the background. I was to busy staying alert to really get into the movie. So much for ‘taking it easy.’

Two in the morning finally came and I left the theater with tidbits of the movie stuck in my mind. It had been slightly relaxing. More so than anything else I had done for a long time. I headed home and went straight to bed without even reading the instructions in the data pad.

In the morning I woke up and opened the message from the twi’lek man at the theater. “What was the price he had given me?” I thought to myself as I opened the message and sat down on my couch. Right there in the subject sat the pleasant looking number… one million credits. I smiled with half my mouth but frowned with the other half. It was worth a million but no one offered what it was worth on the first go. Why had the man looked so surprised and offered me a million credits right off the bat? Was there something special about this speeder?

According to the instructions we were going to move the speeder as soon as possible. I was to contact them and give them the location where I would meet them with the BARC and they would be there to pick it up. I hit the reply button and assured them I would be in the old mining facilities at underground bunker 9971 in just under seven hours. I would have to rent a nice speeder bike to get to the BARC fast… But for a million credits it was worth it.

I walked over to the kitchen part of the room and grabbed some Aquaris Gnooroop stew. I wasn’t much for fish but the gnooroop wasn’t that bad. I flipped on the wall screen as I sat down to eat.

“This is Tol Rinf reporting for GBC news,” the announcer’s voice entered the quite room. “Apparently the Empire has declared war on yet another faction of the rebel alliance called ‘Black Web.’”

I raised an eyebrow. “So they finally declared war on my nonexistent organization?” I thought to myself. But the reporter continued with news that I didn’t find so casual.

“Authorities report that last night at twelve, standard time, persons from the Black Web faction broke into an imperial bank. The contents were all taken by unknown means and all thirty civilians who worked there were killed as well as the imperial officers.”

“What?” I asked in surprise. “That wasn’t me!”

The reporter continued. “Before now Black Web has been a nuisance and there have been no casualties from their robberies. ‘They have obviously stepped up their operation’ says colonel Brok of the imperial security force. He assures the planet that the threat will no longer be overlooked as minimal but they will be assigning a whole platoon of officers to investigate, track down, and capture all black web members. ‘We don’t need another black sun cropping up’ general Flowers at Noltrek air base told his task force.”

I flipped off the screen. This wasn’t good. I had worked hard to keep a low profile and keep the Empire from seeing me as a serious threat so they wouldn’t come after me. Now someone else… some impersonator, had brought down their furry on me. This had to be dealt with!

I took a deep breath and cleared my mind. I needed to take care of that BARC first. Then I could worry about my newly emerging fan club. I grabbed my things and headed out the door and down to a bike rental. I took the fast one, even though it was the most expensive. After all I wasn’t planning on returning it anyway. The store donated fifteen percent of their earnings to the empire’s ‘war effort’ anyway. Maybe Glade Mist would take this one as well.

I raced down through the lower city, swerving around rubble and beggars until I entered the sewers. The stench was unbearable, as usual, until I passed through the active parts and into the old parts far beneath the surface. It was nice to have a speeder that could take so many short cuts that you couldn’t take walking.

I reached the BARC and set it’s autopilot to follow me. I took it out of the sewers and made my way up to the old mining facilities. I never did get why the planetary authorities never demolished the structures and build buildings there. The mines had long run dry and it was well known that the site was used for numerous criminal activities. But it was safe to use… because no one ever did anything about it.

Finally I arrived, nothing but darkly illuminated metal everywhere as far as the eye could see, tall skyscrapers lifting up on all sides. Finally I saw it. It had to be Glad Mist. A good sized ship came over quickly and landed by the bunker where I was waiting. They opened the ship’s loading ramp and I quickly drove in.

“We will be heading to Ammuud as soon as we clear the atmosphere,” one of the rodians in the cargo bay told me.

I didn’t question. A ship this size deviating from the typically flown pathways would no doubt have been noticed already. Suspicious activity would be reported and the local police would come to investigate. We needed to be far from there when that happened just incase someone could give them the description of the ship. No doubt the ship would be completely rearranged and overdone on the outside to arrange it’s exterior looks, but for now we needed to be on our way.

I watched as the crew began checking out the BARC. “When will Glade be here?” I asked.

“Soon,” one of the rodians said in his native tongue, not looking up from his work.

“Not very social,” I thought to myself as I looked around the large cargo bay. The metal floor was dull from oil, fuel, and who knew what else being spilled on it. There were a few cargo crates off to the left side of the room, stacked two levels high in the back row. Above, along the far wall, was an observation deck with a plexaglass type window that stretched all the way across the room, no doubt bullet proof by the looks of it. Despite the old rustic look to the ship I could tell some heavy modifications enabled her to outperform her appearance.

The door on the far end of the right wall slid open and in walked a tall, large man with short blond hair. “I’m Glade Mist,” the man said, extending his hand as he approached. He had an unusual accent, but it was faint. I wasn’t sure what planet he might have picked it up on. It might have been something he developed to throw people off or an accent from his home-world that he had obviously worked hard to obscure.

“Tilon Gror,” I shook his hand.

The man smiled as we shook hands. “Your very trusting Tilon Gror. Especially if that’s your real name.”

I spotted that one right away. A simple word trick. He says that and he hopes my reply will inadvertently tell him whether that really was my true name or not. I only smiled. “Well, being in the black web I really don’t have much to worry about.”

Glade laughed. “Apparently so. I heard that some of your colleagues were pretty busy the other night as well. Got the Empire to declare war on your organization finally.”

“Did you?” I asked casually. “Well, that’s nice to know.” I smiled innocently, making just enough sense in my reply not to make any sense at all.

Glade gave another chuckle and walked over to the speeder. “This is a nice looking bike. Happen to have anymore where it came from?”

“Unfortunately it’s alone. Although I can sell you this one as well, keep the BARC company.” I replied, walking over to the speeder bike that I had ‘rented’ from the imperial supporters earlier.

Again Glade laughed, shaking his head. “You stole this one too?”

“I had to get down to the BARC quick,” I explained.

“I thought you guys only stole from imperials,” Glade said, walking over to inspect the speeder bike.

“Or imperial supporters,” I corrected him. “Which the rental company was. They give fifteen percent of their earnings to the imperial war effort.” I said my last three words with exaggerated sarcasm.

“I’ll give you ten thousand for the speeder bike,” Glade offered.

I smiled at his offer. I had hopped he would under price it. “So,” I began. “If you’re offering me ten thousand for this thing and it’s worth fifteen thousand that means the BARC must be worth around one million and fifty thousand.”

Glade smiled wide and rubbed his chin. “Nice move,” he complimented. “But unfortunately I know that one and I am careful to guard against it.”

“Yeah, I figured,” I replied. “But I know the BARC is worth at least that.”

“I’ll tell you what,” Glade replied, pointing a finger at me. “I’ll give you one million and fifty thousand for the two of them and pay your way back to Coruscant.”

It was a good deal. Better than I expected to get. But honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to Coruscant other than to get my things from my apartment and leave. Now that the empire was after me like a tumnor after a young Ixii I was going to be moving around more often. Which ultimately meant I needed a ship of my own that I didn’t have to sell because I had just stolen it.

“Actually I’m in the market for a one man fighter,” I told him. “My superiors tell me I have to buy one of my own if I want one.”

Glade raised an eyebrow. “So you’re getting all the money from this deal?”

“Pretty much,” I replied. “We go out and do our own thing mostly. In fact we don’t often see other black web members. Except at meetings and such. There are a few expenses we all have to help pay for but mostly what we get we keep.”

“I think I’m joining your group,” one of the khommite crew members that was working in the area said.

“So how many members do you have?” Glade asked.

“No idea,” I told him. “I know the guy who recruited me and everyone who I have recruited, that’s it. That way we can never give up all our members or our leader.”

“What if you have a big job to pull off?” Glade asked.

It seemed like he was testing me. But I knew I had all the answers. I had figured this up long ago. “They pull in people who already know each other. And if they can’t do that then we get to meet new people. But that doesn’t happen very often.”

“Impressive set up,” Glade complimented. “Well, Keshia, show our guest to his quarters.”

A pleasant looking mirialan woman walked over to me. “This way please.”

I turned back to the khommite crewman who had spoke earlier. “You know,” I told him. “The black web is always looking for new members. If your interested just give me a call.”

“Alright,” Glade said with an amused look on his face. “Enough trying to recruit my crew.”

“Nothing personal,” I assured him. “It’s just good business.” I sent a jesting smile Glade’s way and followed the young mirialan woman through the door that Glade had previously entered through.

“So, your getting the full one million and fifty thousand from this?” Keshia asked as she lead me down the gray hall.

I looked over to the young woman. She had typical skin for her race, a slight hint of the typical human skin color but with an almost metallic looking green tint to it. I assumed she was part human. Her lips looked like she put the black makeup on a little heavy, and each cheek had a spiral tattoo-like symbol on them, her jaw line also streaked with a procession of crisscrossing lines that formed diamond shapes.

“Yeah, this time I get it all,” I replied.

“It must be nice to be able to do whatever you want and get paid for it,” Keshia said, stopping in front of a door along the right side of the hallway.

“Well, I don’t exactly get paid for it. I just get to keep what I get. That’s my pay. For a steady pay check I would have to get missions,” I replied, making most of it up as I went.

“Well, here’s your room. If you need anything just let me know, here’s my com number,” Keshia said with a sweet smile as she transferred the number to my data pad.

I looked down at the screen and watched the number file itself away in the appropriate place. “Thanks.” Keshia nodded and started to walk away. “By the way,” I called after her. “If you’re interested in getting more information about Black Web just give me a call.”

“Alright thanks,” Keshia said, biting her lower lip nervously.

I could tell she was interested as she turned around and left, her long black hair trailing behind. At the same time, however, she was either scared for some reason or simply was uncomfortable stepping out of her comfort zone. Possibly she was unsure about being able to make it on her own. I walked into my room and closed the door behind me.

I looked around my temporary quarters. They were small and simple. The room was about two and a half meters in each direction, it had a bed, a dresser, and door that lead to a small bathroom about half the size of the bedroom. In the bathroom there was nothing besides the typical facilities. There was no soap, no cleaner, nothing. “They’re very thorough,” I thought. They had left absolutely nothing I could use to fashion any kind of weapon. Even the dresser and bed didn’t have legs I could pull off and use for a club. I was hoping I wouldn’t need to bother, but when dealing with unknown people like this you could never be to careful.

I walked over and laid down on my bed when my data pad sounded. I had a new message. I figured it was Keshia. The imperials thought I was an organization and they were after me big time now. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to recruit a few people to help me fix this mess.

I switched on my data pad screen and opened the message. It wasn’t from Keshia, but from Keall, the Khommite crew man. Apparently he was honest about his interest in the Black Web. Of course he thought it was a big operation. I was sure he would quickly loose interest if he knew I was the black web. But he didn’t need to know that.

I read the message. He wanted information. All the information. I explained the command structure. No one had contact with other Black web members unless it was the one who recruited them or someone they had recruited, unless they were commanded by a superior. Every man who was recruited was under the direct command of their recruiter, and their recruiter was under the direct command of his or her recruiter. Payment was simple, you just keep what you get and every once in a while you may be called on to ‘donate’ fiver percent of your last job for ‘organizational fees.’

The only rules for the Black Web was that you had to steal from Imperials or Imperial supporters only. If you wanted to rip off the average Joe you would have to take your talents elsewhere.

As far as recruiting went, you had to submit the prospective person to your recruiter and after they went through the appropriate channels they would tell you whether your new recruit was accepted or not. If, in an unfortunate turn of events, you recruiter happened to be killed you would meet your former recruiter’s recruiter and be placed under his command as to keep in direct contact with the organization.

I was just finishing up my message when I received a second message. This time it was Keshia. She had been interested and was requesting more information. “This guy sure doesn’t have very satisfied crew men,” I thought to myself as I opened Keshia’s letter.

I sent the reply to Keall and saved the message in my databank. I copied the message and forwarded it to Keshia. By the time I was done Keall had replied. I had told him that he would need to pull out of Glade Mist’s operation after a while in a way that there would be no suspicion. He explained that he had signed up for a one year trial run. Glade knew he wasn’t very satisfied with his job so it would be no surprise when he didn’t sign up for good. Being a khommite he wasn’t always to thrilled about some of the fighting they had to do and since his term ended in one month things would work out pretty good. I assured him I would be able to tell him whether he had been accepted in that amount of time.

The next morning I woke up with a second message from Keshia. I opened it up and read through the text that streamed across my data pad. She told me that Glade was holding her back. He wasn’t letting her fully utilize her talents. Apparently she had talked to him about quitting several times. I replied, instructing her to wait until something significant happened, something that really made her mad. Then, when she quit, it would be no surprise.

I felt a flicker of satisfaction at the prospect of creating my own little organization. Of course no one would ever know that I was the top dog. It was kind of fun, sneaking around behind Glade’s back and stealing a few unsatisfied crewmembers. But I thought back to that sweet innocent smile that Keshia had flashed at me. Something about that smile didn’t seem quite… honest. Glade had obviously been interested in the Black Web. Perhaps Keshia was a spy, or maybe it was Keall… Sith spit, maybe it was both. It didn’t matter though, with my set up they would never find anything out. And after all, this little group only needed to last long enough for me to rectify the little misunderstanding that had been created between me and the imperials.

Later that day, as I was eating my breakfast in my room I received yet another message, this time it was from Glade. He wanted to know if I was still interested in buying a one man fighter. If I was he had invited me to come look at the three ships they had for sale in the docking bay. They were all modified to assure that they couldn’t be tracked by the previous owners or the authorities. I figured it wouldn’t hurt, he might have something worth my time. We would look at the ships once we landed.

The trip to Ammuud was finally over. I had stayed in my room most of the time, I figured it was best not to wear out my welcome by snooping around so I suppressed my curiosity and urge to do so anyway. Now it was time to go look at those ships.

Later that day Keshia showed up at my door once more, her slender form hidden in her typical blue jumpsuit that was covered with grease and oil. “Glade wanted me to come get you and bring you to the hanger,” she explained.

“Alright, lead the way,” I said with a half smile. Once again she flashed that timidly sweet smile as she turned around and began walking. I couldn’t detect any sort of deception on her face. Either she was honest or she was very… very good.

I followed Keshia through the halls and a maze of rooms before we finally walked into the hanger. There were three ships sitting there, all three bore no resemblance to anything I had ever seen before, which was good.

“Ah, Tilon,” Glade greeted with a wide friendly smile and a handshake. “Take a look at your options. You’ll find that each one is completely overdone. They may not look like much on the outside but they’ll hold their own against anything out there.”

I looked each ship over thoroughly. He was right, they didn’t look like much on the outside. The smallest one looked like a drill head. It was pointed at the end and grew wider towards the back. It was a fast light fighter with not much armor or cargo space but enough maneuverability to escape anything. It’s cylindrical design was unique and allowed it to rotate and use it’s side thrusters to push it quickly to one side or the other. The second ship was larger, had more armor and more powerful guns but still a great deal of speed and maneuverability for it’s size. It’s shape was similar to that of a gungan bongo with flat maneuvering flaps all around the outside of it’s black surface. The third looked pretty much like an AT-ET with wings instead of legs. It was a stout ship that could take about anything you could throw at it and dish out the same, but it was slow and not to maneuverable.

None of the ships had any remnant of their former identity(s) since they were pieced together from numerous parts. There were no signatures left anywhere. A very nice job all round. “How much for each ship?” I asked.

“Well,” Glade shrugged and tilted his head to the side a bit. “They’re all worth about the same. In the end they’ll perform at the same level in the right hands. So you choose which one you want and we’ll give you a full tank of fuel, fill your supplies and we’ll call it even.”

I gave a doubting smile and shook my head. I knew it was probably a pretty good deal but I never settled for the first offer, and Glade probably knew I wouldn’t. “Everything you mentioned plus the fifty thousand,” I haggled.

Glade chuckled. “I know your supposed to go steep at first but not that steep. I’ll tell you what I can do. I’ll give you access to a data panel and you and I can research just what a ship like this would sell for. If it’s not worth what I’m asking I’ll lower it to market value.”

“And if the market price is higher, the current deal stand,” I told him.

Glade hesitated for a moment and then shook his head in surrender. “Alright, it’s a deal.”

I nodded my approval and followed up to the observation deck on the far wall. The deck looked just like the deck in the cargo bay only twice the size. The door opened and I followed Glade into the white walled room. He flicked on the data panel and began quickly typing in some passwords that I couldn’t catch.

After the research I was convinced that buying one of these ships at market value would cost closer to two million (if not over) than one million and fifty thousand. Glade ‘officially’ priced it at one million and seventy thousand. “Well, I guess I’ll take your offer then,” I told him.

“You better,” Glade told me. “My people built that thing good enough it would last through the clone wars.”

“So, now that the deal is final you mind telling me why your willing to pay so much for that BARC?” I asked as we walked back down into the hanger.

Glade’s constant grin widened a bit. “Alright, I’ll tell you. You know that small emblem in the middle of the Imperial emblem?”

“Yeah,” I replied with a knowing nod. I had seen the symbol though I never knew what it meant. I figured it had something to do with the rank of the owner or maybe what division he was in.

“That emblem is the emblem of the ISB, Imperial security bureau,” Glade explained. “Not only does that mean that this thing will probably perform twice as good as a typical BARC but it’s probably also got some pretty valuable information in it’s databank that we can sell to the rebels for a nice price.”

I had to laugh a little bit at that one. It was simple ignorance on my part. But then again I didn’t have any contacts inside the rebellion so I couldn’t have got the information to them anyway. “Well, I’ll have to remember that.”

“So which one?” Glade asked.

“I’ll take the middle one,” I said referring to the black bongo shaped ship. It was large enough I could live in it and not have to rent an apartment, fast and powerful enough to keep me out of trouble, and small enough that I could land it pretty much anywhere I wanted.

“Here’s the passwords,” Glade tossed me a data disc as we stopped in front of my new ship. “Once you get in you can set voice, finger print, hand print, and retina scan security measures on any part of the ship.”

“Thanks, I’ll be sure to do that,” I said, catching the data disk.

“Just let the men in the observation deck know when your ready to leave,” Glade told me before walking out of the docking bay.

I opened the loading ramp and walked into my new home. You walked up the ramp into a plus shaped hallway. To the right there were two empty rooms, one on each side of the hallway. Each room was about three and a half meters, much the same as my room had been on Glade’s ship. The rooms were currently empty.

Down the other end of the hall there were two more rooms. The one near the back of the ship was identical to the other rooms, the one across the hallways was the bathroom. The room near the back of the ship I decided would be cargo space since Glade’s men had loaded all my supplies there.

If one were to walk straight up the loading ramp and keep a straight course they would find themselves in the cockpit. Unlike the rest of the gray/silver walled ship the cockpit had a brown layer on top of the metal. The walls were mostly coved in equipment. The cockpit was pretty much the same size as all the other rooms, except maybe a meter or two longer.

The cockpit had six chairs, the pilot, co-pilot, and four passenger chairs along the edges of the room. So it wasn’t actually a ‘one man fighter.’ It could be piloted by one man but it would work better with a second crew member. But then again it looked like I would be getting one or two crew members in a while.

I looked over everything and pretended like I hadn’t found the tracking beacon that was very cleverly hidden on the ship. It was times like this I was thankful that I had spent my time in pursuits of knowledge instead of learning how to fight. My skill and cunning had seemed to more than make up for my lack of combat skill. Sure, I could fight if I had to, but so could any drunken bum. Fighting and ‘being a fighter’ were two completely different things.

I walked down the loading ramp and gave the signal to the men in the observation deck that I was ready to go. I walked back up, closed the loading ramp behind me and throttled up the engines. They sounded sweeter than honey from Talasea’s honeybees. I lifted the ship up, nice and easy, gliding out the now open docking bay doors. I was sure the men would be calling Glade and letting him know that I had overlooked their tracking beacon. I wasn’t sure why Glade took such an interest in the Black Web but I hoped it was just innocent curiosity.

I shuttered as the thought of Glade possibly working with the imperials crossed my mind. Or maybe he was the one who had pulled off that stunt that got the imps hot on my trail. He certainly had the resources to pull off something like that. Either way, or neither way, his trickery wasn’t going to do him any good. Once I got to space I would simply toss it out the air lock. It would keep traveling until it hit something, so it wouldn’t be until then that Glade would find out I had discovered his ploy.

I would have to be carefull from now on though, not just in dealing with Glade who seemed to have a disturbing interest in my non-egsistant organization, but when dealing with anyone and everyone. The Imperials were looking for me now, not like before, now they were really looking hard.

Jax Nova
15 April 2008, 03:10 PM
Chapter 2: Organizing
Now, I was home free. I had a ship, a decent amount of credits thanks to the account number of that imperial officer back on Coruscant, and soon I would have two pawns to help me figure out who it was that was imitating me.

I organized my thoughts into a comprehendible plan during the long trip back to Coruscant. The trip back from Ammuud didn’t seem to take near as long as the trip there. Probably because I had my new ship to get in order, plans to solidify, and several messages from Keshia and Keall.

In the last hour of my journey I got yet another message from Keshia. Apparently she had found her an excuse to drop out of Glade’s organization. It was something about a job they were on. Her talents, being technical/science stuff and mechanics and all other things complicated, would have been utilized a great deal… if Glade would have let her. The job ultimately failed because the ‘computer expert’ that Glade brought in to replace Keshia screwed up. Glade said she wasn’t ‘seasoned’ enough for a job this size. Needless to say she probably would have quit even if she had never heard of the Black Web.

I replied to Keshia’s letter, instructing her to meet me on Nal Hutta in three weeks. I needed to clear out my apartment before picking her up. Naturally I had talked to my superiors and she had been accepted into the Black Web. And since I had requested a crew they suggested I take her on since we already knew each other and she was new, that way I could show her the ropes.

I peered intently out the windshield of my new ship, which had had dubbed The Black Widow. I knew the landing pads around sector 997 were usually pretty empty since space pirates were the main captains that parked there. I picked out a small platform, out of the way but not off by itself. If you were to obvious in your attempts to keep a low profile then everyone took interest in you.

I set the ship down nice and easy, landing gently on the pad. I got up out of the captains chair and headed towards the loading ramp. I looked around the area more thoroughly once I was down the loading ramp and on the metal landing pad. “I need to get a security droid to put in my ship,” I told myself. I felt like I was about to get mugged just standing there.

An old Yevethen walked up to me and I floated my hand towards my concealed blaster. “This is my landing pad stranger. It’s five hundred credits to park a ship here,” he told me in a wispy sinister voice.

The slender alien looked like little more than a skeleton with skin stretched over it, a rig running along the back of his neck was about the largest part of his body aside from his head and chest. His sunk in ape like face was hideous and threatening. I had no idea what a Yevethen would be doing on Coruscant but at this point it didn’t matter.

“Can I see the legal papers for your ownership sir?” I asked politely.

The Yevethen stepped closer and sneered at me mockingly. “Who said anything about it being legal?”

“Alright then,” I replied. “I’ll find myself another place to land.”

In a flash the brute had a gun out and pointed at me. “You’ve landed,” he said. “You must pay five hundred credits.”

I glanced around, there didn’t seem to be any escape routs. My hand was still resting on my hidden blaster as I folded my arms across my chest. “Alright then,” I told him with a nod. “I’ll tell ya what I can do. Three hundred now and four hundred when I get back. If I don’t return you keep my ship. I shouldn’t be gone for more than a day.”

“Well, when you put it that way,” he said with a sly grin. “The platforms all yours.” He held out his hands for his three hundred credits.

I reached in my pocket and pulled out his money, tossing the credit chip to him. He squinted his eyes and breathed out heavily… somehow it seemed like a satisfied gesture. He turned and walked back across the narrow walkway that connected the landing pat to the main building. After he had disappeared into an old building I headed off on my way. I disappeared into the metal jungle that covered the surface of the planet and then circled around. Sure enough, the creep couldn’t help himself. He was already working on getting into my ship.

I easily snuck back to the platform without being noticed. Before the turquoise skinned alien knew I was there a red energy bolt from my blaster hit him in the base of the neck. The Yevethen fell to the ground, his turban falling off his head, nothing left to cover his bony form except a loin cloth that hung from his waist.

Slowly the Yevethen began to wake. I had used a maximum stun, which gave me plenty of time to prepare, and it also meant he would have a pretty bad headache. I lifted the creatures head and poured a green liquid down his throat. He gagged and coughed as it slid into his stomach. “I will kill you!” he promised, despite being tied up.

“It’s not your landing pad,” I told him. “And even that wouldn’t have been so bad, but then you insisted I pay you. And then…” I shook my head and leaned down to look the creature in the eyes. “Then you tried to steal my ship. I can’t allow that.”

I lifted a foot and began to roll the Yevethen towards the edge of the building. He began screaming in horror. “No! Please don’t kill me!” he pleaded to no avail. I continued to roll him until he slipped over the edge. The began to fall into the blackness below when, to his surprise, he came to a jerking halt as a rope I had fastened to the building suspended him about twenty feet down.

“You know that drink I gave you?” I called down to him. “It’s a cocktail of poisons. Don’t worry they’re not deadly. But you have about five hours before you go permanently blind, def, and mute. I’m letting you off easy. Next time you go messing with the Black Web think twice.”

I didn’t want to have to do that… but I didn’t have many options. I had to stop him and I couldn’t have him going to the police. But at the same time I needed to get Black Web’s name out there as someone to be reckoned with. Being def, mute, and blind, he could never identify me, couldn’t tell them about me, and couldn’t even answer yes or no questions about me. All he could do is write out what happened to him. He might give them a decent description of me but there were billions of humans in the galaxy. And if he did write out a message he would likely mention Black Web. The plan seemed good at the time… after I wasn’t so sure about it though.

I went to my apartment and gathered my things after finding different place to land. I had a bed, my red nabooian chair, my blue leather couch, a small table and a dresser. I organized the things in my bedroom, using the two foot tall table for a night stand and placing it by my bed. I stuck the couch along the far wall of my new bedroom and put the chair in the corner. The dresser went against the back wall.

I exited the room and took a left and then my next right, ending up in the cockpit of The Black Widow. It was time to head to Nal Hutta to pick up Keshia. I almost didn’t want to. I needed to get working on tracking down the perpetrator who got the imps after me. But at least I could hack the police systems and go over all the data about the case on my way to Nal Hutta.

I watched the small red ring circle as the numbers on the download counted up. Ninety seven percent, ninety eight, ninety nine, one hundred. I fired up the engines of my ship and glided off the landing platform. The gigantic spectacles of Coruscant shrunk back into the distance until they were an insignificant blotch on the face of the planet.

I set the ship on autopilot as I began going through all the police records and information from the crime that had been pinned on me. Evidently the thieves had left the Black Web emblem, a palms sized spider web burnt into some part of the crime scene. I never did quite figure out why I started leaving a signature at the crime scene every time I pulled off a job. Now it had come back to bit me. “What I wouldn’t give to be able to analyze that burn,” I thought, flipping through the papers to see if the police had done so. Sure enough, they had. It wasn’t done quite the same as mine, but it wasn’t enough different that the authorities thought anything about it.

Lasers… Corelian judging by the energy signature. A slight anomaly was recorded but the police didn’t think much of it. With a little research I discovered the anomaly was consistent with a certain type of modified Corelian blaster. (You had to know where to look for these things)

I raised an eyebrow when I noticed just how much the crooks had stolen from the Imperial bank. Five hundred million credits. “Five hundred million?” I exclaimed aloud. I almost felt bad going after someone who had just stole that much money from the imps, but there was a reputation to protect here.

I started researching everything I could find about the modified Corelian blasters, letting the computer manually sort through most of the stuff while I continued going over the police reports. Another strange tidbit of information that the police weren’t sure the significant of was the existence of a small round plasteel ball with a hallow center filled with several liquid components. I opened the analysis with an interested eye. Just as I hopped there were three elements. Liquid copper, bacta, and acid. This was a brand new device that had just appeared on the black market. Chances were this was the first one the cops had ever seen one. The little thing emitted an energy surge that would disable a security system for up to ten seconds, enough time for a few guys to slip in. Since this one was on the inside that meant there was probably another one on the outside somewhere. They used one to get in and the other one to get out.

I wasn’t quite sure how the little things worked. Naturally liquid copper, bacta, and acid wouldn’t do that. More likely those elements were poured in to cover up the traces of other minute trace elements that would cause the wanted effect.

Finally the computer was finished with the analysis on the modified Corelian blaster. It seemed there had only been three blasters with identical modifications confiscated by the police. That either meant that it was a very, very localized custom shop, or that the guys who used these things were very, very good. I hopped for the first option to be fact.

After several more hours of tedious investigation I found no other substantial leads. It appeared the modified blaster and the new security neutralizing device were the only leads I had. I was confident that those two would be enough though. I had been down this road before and knew a thing or two about investigations. Black sun training didn’t hurt my knowledge of the subject either.

By the time I reached Nal Hutta I had pried the name of a sales man out of the ‘restricted’ confines of the information streams. This man was one of the largest sellers of the new black market devices known as Security Sentinels. As soon as I picked up Keshia I would head out to talk to this man.

I stepped out of my ship onto the corroding metal platform that I had landed on. The stained, filthy metal was almost a yellowish color. Above me the towering buildings, much like those of Coruscant only lacking the grandeur, blocked out the sun. A definite smell came with this planet. It wasn’t like any other place, and the stench stretched as far as the planet. I always attributed it to the huts.

I slipped a credit ship into the docking fee box and it lowered the force field to allow me off the floating pad. I walked across and into the jungle of a city. Traversing the metal lump of a city and making my way through crowds that were as umbrageous as a couple of sith wasn’t exactly my idea of fun but Nal Hutta was the safest place to pick Keshia up.

Finally I came to the canteen where Keshia was to be waiting for me. I walked inside and looked around. Small round tables dotted the central floor and round booths edged the room. The dull environment of metal outdoors was in sharp contrast to the brightly colored bar. The combination of neon lights, fancy furniture, and bright blue carpet nearly hurt my eyes. Judging by the ruff looking crowd that inhabited the building it was safe to say the establishment’s owner didn’t just run a simple bar.

Spotting Keshia, I headed over to the bar. I bought myself a small jecktin cocktail and walked over to take a seat opposite of Keshia. “Excuse me ma’am, is this seat taken?” I asked politely.

Keshia looked up at me with a gentle smile. “Depends on who’s asking.”

If I didn’t know better I would have thought she didn’t recognize me. For a spilt second I thought I had worn a disguise and forgot to tell her, but I hadn’t. “The names Gorlon,” I answered.

“Elina,” Keshia ‘introduced herself’ as she shook my hand.

I sat down across the table from her, sinking into the soft seat of the booth. “You live around here?” I asked, sipping at my cocktail.

“No, actually I’m just visiting,” she replied before taking a drink of her own beverage.

“Don’t tell me you got conned by those huts to come on vacation to the ‘Precious Jewel’ of space,” I said shaking my head.

Keshia gave a grieving look that admitted her guilt. “Unfortunately I did. The only redeeming quality is that this place has good canteens. But that doesn’t make up for being mugged and left with no money to get home.”

“Well, I’ve got a ship. I would take you wherever you need to go,” I offered.

“Thanks, but I doubt you’ll be heading the same place as me,” Keshia refused the offer.

I had to stop and admire her acting ability before I replied. Even I would be fooled by our conversation, especially her believable way of behaving. Which wasn’t exactly a good thing. If she was spying on me for Glade then I would be hard pressed to discover it through her actions and words.

“Well, I’m going no where particular. If you can afford to pay me once I get you home, then I’ll take you. I’ll even take you for ten percent less than the transport ticket costs,” I told Keshia.

“Really?” she asked with a raised eyebrow. “Sounds like a good offer, but how do I know I can trust you?”

I leaned back with a half offended look on my face. “I run a reputable transport business. I’m not going to scar my company name by doing something stupid.”

“Well… alright,” she agreed reluctantly.

“Here are the coordinates to my ship, and here is my com number. Just contact me when you’re ready to leave,” I transferred the information to Keshia, drank the last of my cocktail and left the canteen.

Early morning of the next day Keshia arrived at the ship. I lowered the loading ramp as I rubbed some sleep out of my eyes. I had barely got any sleep. With all the noises going on outside the ship I thought someone was about to try and steal it again.

Keshia walked into the ship with her few belongings. It was the first time I had seen her in anything besides her jumpsuit… or had she been wearing something else the other night at the canteen. I couldn’t remember. The black pants and dark blue shirt seemed to stand out, as did her ever-present smile.

“Glad you could make it Elina,” I greeted her after the loading ramp closed behind her.

“Well, I couldn’t pass up a cheep flight off this planet,” Keshia replied in a joking tone.

“You’re stuff will be going in here,” I told her, taking her things to the room across the hall from me. I had resisted putting surveillance equipment in her room. I knew she was good with electronics and mechanics. If she found them I would have some explaining to do. And finding out whether she was spying on me wasn’t worth the risk.

I put her things down in the empty room. “It’s a bit bare at the moment,” I pointed out the obvious.

“That’s ok,” Keshia said with a chuckle. “I’m a self proclaimed minimalist.”
“I see,” I said with an interested expression. “Well, you should do fine in the Black Web since you get minimal information. A strictly need to know basis. Just to be sure, you have all the rules I sent you and you understand everything?”

“Yeah, I believe so,” Keshia answered. “If I have a question I’ll let you know.”

“Alright then. Welcome to the Black Web. As of now you’re an official member. Just keep in mind that you can be kicked out of the organization if you get caught breaking any of the rules.”

“Aye captain,” Keshia said with a playful tone, adding a salute.

“Alright, get unpacked,” I told her with a smile, shaking my head at her gesture. “I’ve got a job lined up for us so we’ll be heading to Kothlis.”

“Alright, I’ll get settled in and organize my stuff,” Keshia replied.

I shut the door behind me and walked into the cockpit to start up the engines. I lifted the Black Widow off the ground and flew her into space before entering in the hyperspace coordinates for the Bothan settlement of Kothlis. We would be landing in the city of Tal’cara. The salesman of the security sentinels made shop there under the cover of a local butcher.

I leaned back in my captains chair. I was now, officially, the leader of my own organization and the captain of my own ship. (With a crew… kind of)

Before long Keshia came out into the cockpit. “So how long is the flight going to take?”

“Well,” I thought for a moment. “A couple days probably. I’m not to familiar with space travel yet to be honest.”

Keshia sparked a smile as her eyes twinkled knowingly. “I could help with that.”

“Fine with me,” I agreed. “You can be the pilot, navigator, and mechanic as far as I’m concerned,” I told her.

It was amazingly pleasant spending my time talking with Keshia. I hadn’t realized just how unpleasant solitude was until now. Instead of spending my time training, practicing, and researching I spent my time talking and interacting. I found Keshia to be a rather intriguing individual but I knew I couldn’t let a desire for a ‘social life’ get in my way.

Before I knew it the trip had passed me by and I had scarcely kept up with my typical routine. I figured after a day of talking we would run out of things to say, especially with me trying to avoid talking of my past and personal things… or rather trying to avoid talking about me at all. I knew the better Keshia knew me, the closer she got to me, the more dangerous she could become. After all in my business information was power.

I was beckoned by beeping that let me know of my approach to the planet of Kothlis. I spun my captains chair around, leaving my conversation with Keshia, and shut off the alarm. “Well, it’s calling for the pilot,” I told Keshia, gesturing towards the pilot’s seat.

“So, I take it you don’t have many friends in this business?” Keshia asked, taking her seat in the pilot’s chair.

“Nope,” I replied callously. “There is one individual I recently came in contact with but I’m really not sure about her as of yet,” I joked.

“I see,” Keshia replied with a grin. “So what is she like?” Keshia stressed the word ‘she’ as if it was important.

“Well, she seems sweet and innocent yet lives the life of a thief. She’s very talkative, friendly, and quite intriguing,” I said. I figured answering honestly for once would mix it up a little bit.

Keshia laughed quietly as she took the ship through the atmosphere. “So since she’s the only friend you’ve got I take it she has no jealous girlfriend to worry about.”

I paused for a moment. That one took me off guard. Was she trying to move our relationship beyond a simple friendship or was that just another of her prying questions? And if it was the first… was it simply just another attempt to get close to my information and not me?

“Nope, no one like that,” I told her. “My current occupation will surely keep it that way as well.”

“Well, you never know,” Keshia said. “If you find someone in the same business.”

This time it was to much of a pointed statement to be just prying into my personal life with endless questions and conversation. I raised an eyebrow and hesitated to respond. Keshia must have noticed it.

“I’m sorry,” she shook her head and looked down at the ship controls, slightly embarrassed. She took the ship in and landed on an outer pad. “I guess I’m a little to forward.”

“No, it’s fine,” I assured her. “I’m just not used to having someone be interested in me… other than the cops but that’s a little different.”

Keshia once again flashed a sweet smile as the radio flashed to life and the landing pad authorities broke into the awkward moment. “Unidentified ship, this is Tolthin docking authorities. Please state your intentions.”

“Shouldn’t they have asked that before we landed?” I wondered aloud.

Keshia gave me an unknowing look and shrugged as I walked up to the com system. “This is the captain of the Black Widow speaking, were here looking to pick up some cargo.”

“Do you currently have any cargo?” the man on the other end of the com system asked.

“No. Just me and one other crew member,” I replied.

“We’ll be sending men out to your ship in a moment. Please stand by,” the man replied as he flicked off the communications.

In a few moments two bothans appeared out on the open landing pad that sat comfortably on the ground in front of a large forest. “The docking fees will be one hundred credits,” one of the bothans told me.

“Well, that’s certainly better than previous prices I’ve been charged,” I said, handing him the money.

“Thank you sir,” the bothan said with a bow. “You and you’re wife enjoy your stay on Kothlis.”

Wife? What was that about. “Thank you, I’m sure we will.” I glanced back at Keshia with a questioning shrug as she bit her lower lip and smiled, obviously amused by the bothan.

“I guess they figure since were traveling together… and alone, were married,” Keshia said.

“Maybe,” I agreed. Although, if I was overly suspicious, I would think that someone had told the bothan to say that… which was probably why that was the first thing that entered my mind. Keshia was seemingly trying to get emotionally close to me in order to gather information. However now that I knew that I could use the same tactic knowing she would be submissive to my interests. I looked back at Keshia who was till wearing an amused smile. “Well, come on sweetheart, lets go,” I said jokingly.

Keshia gave atypically amused smile and head shake as she walked along beside me. “Certainly dear.”

We made our way through the town as I followed the map that I had downloaded. I wasn’t quite sure where this place was supposed to be and bothan maps could be impossibly confusing or some reason.

“We could stop and ask for directions,” Keshia suggested.

“Nah,” I shook my head in opposition. “I’m a guy, I don’t ask directions. Besides what are you going to say? ‘Excuse me sir, could you please direct me to a distributor of black market goods who masquerades as a butcher?’ I don’t quite thing that would go over to well.”

“Whatever you say boss,” Keshia replied as we continued searching through the maze of buildings.

Finally we found the small shop. It was small, out of the way, and unnoticeable. We had been past it three times and simply skipped over it. “I told you we were going in circles,” Keshia said proudly.

“Yeah, well, we needed to be going in circles,” I defended myself as we walked through the front door.

A blast of foul smelling air shot me in the face as I stepped in the door. I knew this guy was a butcher but I thought butchers were supposed throw the meat out after it started to rot. I tried to ignore the smell and walked across the blue stone floor.

“Fancy floor for a butcher,” Keshia commented softly.

“Excuse me, are you the shop owner?” I asked, approaching the low counter that was watched by a typically short bothan.

“I am,” the bothan man answered. “Who wants to know?”

“Someone who is willing to pay a good deal for some information,” I told him.

The bothan played the part good with his confused eyebrow furrows and the cocking of his head. “Alright, but I’m not sure how much I can help you unless you’re interested in learning how to butcher ganjuko.”

“Actually I was more interested in a black market product called a security sentinel,” I said with an innocent smile.

“I don’t know what your talking about,” the bothan persisted.

I flipped out a sleeve blaster in his face as he reached slowly under his front desk. “Don’t try it. Come on into the back room.”

Keshia hurried around and grabbed a rifle out from his counter storage space. Interestingly enough it was a modified Corelian rifle… just the kind used to make the face Black Web emblem at the bank robbery.

I cautiously guided the bothan into the back room and closed the door behind us. Fortunately it was the man’s office and it was empty. “I know you sell the things and I need to know who you sold them to.”

“Honestly I don’t know what you’re talking about!” the bothan pleaded.

I pressed my blaster up against his forehead. “I’m not going to kill you, because I need that information, but do you have any idea how many body parts can be blasted off a bothan before they die?” I aimed my gun at his large ear.

“No! I’ll tell you,” he agreed.

“Smart choice,” I said, pulling the gun away and stepping back. “Start talking.”

“I had to make sure you weren’t cops,” he tried to explain.

“Just give me the list of names. Everyone who you have sold one of the sentinels to,” I replied coldly.

“How much?” he asked. I looked at him with a refusing glare. “You said you were willing to pay!”

“Alright,” I agreed. “One thousand credits.”

“One thousand per name?” the bothan asked hopefully.

“One thousand credits,” I repeated myself stiffly.

The bothan sighed, his long ears drooping a bit in surrender. “Fine. I’ll get you the list.” He walked over to his computer and switched it on. Soon he had a list of names and transferred them to my data pad.

“Now, tell me where you got this Corelian blaster,” I told the man.

“From Corelia,” he answered sarcastically.

“No kidding?” I said, stepping forward and pulled my blaster back out. “Just call it a bonus for causing us so much trouble.”

“Fine! I got it from a customer. He traded it to me for the security sentinel,” he told me, lifting his hands in a defensive motion.

“Which one?” I asked.

“Mecob Slint,” he replied. “A Quarren. It was the first time I had ever seen him before. I don’t have any information about him, it was a straight trade with no formalities. What do you want these names for anyway?” he asked as I handed him payment.

“If I wanted you to know that I would have told you,” I said, heading back for the door. “A pleasure doing business with you.” I smiled as Keshia walked past me out the door. I shut the door on the bothan and then rushed to the front door. I slid the door open and then made a mad dash to my left, dragging Keshia with me.

The bothan rushed out of his office angrily and rushed to the front door. He opened the door and stepped out to see if he could spot Keshia and I running. I held my hand over Keshia’s mouth as she started to ask me what we were doing. She apparently wasn’t to experienced at this sort of stuff. I took her by the arm, and while the bothan had his nose sticking out the front door we left our hiding place behind a few supply crates and headed for the back door. Since I knew the second door was his office the third one had to lead to a second exit… I hoped. But if worst came to worst I could always make my own exit.

Keshia and I slipped through the door, it sliding open and shut silently enough not to give us away as I knew it would. It was a Le’tack door. Le’tack was a bothan company that specialized in creating silent sliding doors.

Keshia and I wove our way through a room full of skinned and cleaned animals that hung from the ceiling. The smell of rotting meat was even stronger. Many of the animals that hung were so old their insides were covered in green, white, and black mold. “Some butcher this guy is,” I thought to myself as we made out way to the back of the building.

As I hoped there was a back door. Of course if there hadn’t been a window would have done just fine. I pressed the door controls but nothing happened. It was locked. I began prying of the cover of the control panel when Keshia hit a hidden release. “Nice.”

“You learn things in mechanic and engineering school,” she told me, pulling out a few of the wires and arranging them skillfully and quick. “Anything electronic or mechanic I can fix… or break. I know just how they work.” With a less innocent grin than her normal Keshia opened the door, about three seconds sooner than I would have got it open I estimated.

The two of us stepped outside casually and walked down the ally onto the busy street side. The streets weren’t quite as full as Coruscant would have been, but it was plenty to disappear into.

“That was some nice work back there,” I complimented Keshia as we walked back to the ship.

“Thanks,” she said with a pleased smile.
“Maybe when we get back you can look over the ship and see if there are any upgrades we could do or repairs that need made,” I suggested.

“I doubt it,” she replied. “I’m the one who made the original modifications. So, unless you’ve managed to damage it since you bought it, it should be just fine.”

“Ah, I see,” I replied with a slightly disappointed shrug.

Keshia and I walked back to the docking bays where the officials let us in to my ship. “Awfully small cargo you picked up,” one of the bothans mocked. Apparently he was one of the same ones that had come to meet us when we landed. To be honest I had never been around bothans enough to tell them all apart.

“Yeah, our supplier pulled out,” I told him, sounding genuinely disappointed and a tad angry. “Found a higher bidder.” I sent him a mocking smile meant for the ‘supplier’ and moved on.

I signaled the ship and it lowered it’s loading ramp. “You should look for a job in acting,” Keshia said as the loading ramp was closing behind us.

“Nah,” I shook my head insistently. “Couldn’t stand the drama. Besides they don’t pay good enough.”

Keshia smiled and shook her head. Taking a deep breath she sat down in the pilot’s seat and fired up the engines. Before long we were leaving the planet behind and once again plunging into the never ending expanse of space. Now it was back to researching and finding out where this Mecob Slint had made his Quarren abode.

Keshia and I talked of this that and everything as we painstakingly went through the files and date streams that loaded on the ship’s computer. Our course was set for the planet of Mrlsst in the Mennaalii system. That was where Keall would be in just over three weeks. We would have plenty of time to do what research we needed, gather supplies, and then pick up Keall before we went after Mecob Slint.

While on Mrlsst Keshia and I mostly laid low, stayed in the ship, and spent our time working out small wrinkles in our plan to locate and capture Mecob. We did go watch a holo-picture while we were there, but being on a planet of professors, scientists, and scholars it was hard to find one that kept out interest. The Empire had no presence on planet so there was no ‘work’ to be done, but we kept ourselves occupied.

Finally it was time to go pick up Keall at a local library. Keshia and I entered the library and looked around through some of the books before making our way over to where Keall wall supposed to meet us. After I was sure the place was safe we headed over. The khommite was browsing nearby so I walked causally past and whispered a series of numbers and passed on by. In the quiet library my whispers sounded like a roaring river and despite the fact that I knew there was no one close enough to hear me I still felt uneasy about it.

Before long Keshia and I walked out and ‘left’ the library. “Why don’t you head back to the ship, I’m going to go pick up some supplies,” I told Keshia.

“Alright,” she nodded and we parted ways.

I walked a ways off and then put on a quick disguise then re-entered the library. Keall was to wait twenty minutes before heading back to the ship then take an indirect rout. Granted, all the precautions seemed overboard but that did three things for me. First it made Keshia and Keall more confident that they were getting involved in a big time organization. Second it gave me a chance to see if Glade had got suspicious and sent someone to follow. Thirdly, and most importantly, it gave me peace of mind.

After the allotted time had passed Keall exited the library and headed off into the streets. I fallowed along behind him, easily able to keep out of sight. He took the numbers I had whispered and entered them in his data pad. Soon the coordinates to my ship were up on his data pad screen.

Thankfully Keall made it to the ship and there were no signs of him leaving messages or clues or of him being followed. If he was still working for Glade and just spying on me then he was taking extra precautions. I would still have to keep a close eye on him and Keshia, though.

I grabbed the supplies that I had bought earlier and stashed near the ship. Making my way up the loading ramp I set the supplies down in the cockpit. “Glad to see you made it here alright,” I greeted Keall.

“Thanks for accepting me,” Keall said, greeting me with a shake of the hand.

“Well, it wasn’t me who accepted you, it was our superiors,” I reminded him.

“Right, sorry,” Keall said with a smile.

“Come on, I’ll show you to your room,” I told him, leading him down to the old storage room I had emptied on the trip here. “This actually used to be the storage room but I figured we could all have our own rooms. It just means some of the cargo may have to be stashed in our rooms if we get very much.”

“That’s fine with me,” Keall said. “Back on Glade’s ship I shared a room this size with three other crew members.”

“Wow.. Talk about cramped,” I said, sincerely sympathetic to him.

“Yeah,” he replied with a sarcastic roll of his eyes.

“Well, I’ll leave you to get your things organized,” I told him, heading back to the cockpit.

“Yes sir,” He replied, entering the room and dropping his stuff in the corner.

I walked into the cockpit and sat down beside Keshia in the co-pilot seat. “So where to boss?” she asked.

“J’t’p’tan,” I answered. Keshia set course for the system of Doornik-628 and the Black Widow soured into the sky once more.

Jax Nova
15 April 2008, 03:15 PM
Chapter 3: Trails End

“So how long is this trip going to take?” Keall asked as he entered the cockpit.

“Not to long,” I answered. “Were just heading over to J’t’p’tan.”

“What are we doing there?” Keall asked.

“Were looking for a quarren named Mecob Slint. He’s got some information we need for our next job,” I explained.

“And how much is this job going to bring in?” Keall asked.

“If we run this right we could end up with a total of five hundred million.” I told Keall with a casual tone. The shock on his face was evident.

“Wow… really? That’s a lot,” he exclaimed in amazement.

“Enough to retire on,” Keshia added.

“Hey now, you’re not going to bail on me if we pull this off are you?” I asked jokingly. “I will still need a crew.”

“Bail on you?” Keshia asked. “Wouldn’t think of.” Keshia looked over and flashed a smile at me as she set the auto pilot and stood up. “Well, I guess I’m going to turn in.”

“Yeah, sounds good,” Keall agreed.

“Alright, see you both in the morning. I’m gona stay out here and go over these files some more,” I told them.

Keall and Keshia both headed to their rooms and in an instant I had things set up to monitor any communications sent from their rooms. After things were set I began pouring through the files for any shred of information that we might have missed previously. I scanned for any trail that we may have overlooked. It didn’t seem that long when I heard a door open in the hallway. Keshia walked down the hallway until she noticed me in the cockpit. Before she got to close I flipped a switch and cut the power to the program that was monitoring communications from the rooms of my two crewmembers.

“Are you still working?” she asked, coming into the cockpit and looking over my shoulder. She wrapped her light baby blue silk robe around her matching nightgown and leaned closer to look at the files I held. “You know it’s three in the morning.”

“Really?” I asked, glancing over at the clock that was displayed on the ship’s screen. I stood up and rubbed my eyes. “I didn’t realize it was so late. What are you doing up?”

“I was heading to the bathroom,” Keshia answered.

Was she really? Or perhaps she was sneaking down the Keall’s room to converse with her fellow spy. “Well, I guess I better get some sleep,” I said as I shut off the computer screen.

“Alright,” Keshia said, moving over to me. “Good night.” She leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek and I felt my arms unwillingly give her a soft hug. By the time the ordeal was over I wasn’t sure what had just happened.

“Good night,” I said with a smile, not revealing my shock. Either I was going to have to be more careful about using this relationship for my own reasons or I was going to have to get out of it all together. I walked to my room and slumped down in red chair by the wall computer. I tapped it on and typed in a few lines, pressed a few buttons and clicked on a few tabs and soon had the communications tracking program running once more. In the morning I would know if Keall or Keshia sent a message during the night.

The next thing I knew I was waking up in the morning to the doorbell on my room and I was still sitting in my red chair, neck craned over and sore from the night’s rest. I got up and flipped off the grogram and my wall screen, saving the information to look at later. I walked over to the door and opened it up.

“Stayed up a little late?” Keshia asked with that innocent smile of hers.

“Na… I was just cleaning my room,” I explained.

“Ah, see,” Keshia said with a knowing grin. “Well, if you’re finished cleaning you room why don’t you come have some breakfast? I cooked some Alesquin.”

I raised both eyebrows in surprise. “You never mentioned you could cook,” I said.

Keshia walked out into the cockpit. “Well, I can’t reveal all my secrets at once. I kind of had some kitchen stuff and a compact stove with my things and I figured this would be something we would all like.”

The aroma from the pasta and meet filled dish filled the ship, it’s steam shimmering off the freshly cooked meal. I grabbed a bowl and tipped myself a meager helping. “This is good,” I complimented. “And that’s saying a lot because my mom used to make this stuff. After being spoiled by hers I never liked any other kind.”

“Thanks,” Keshia said, grabbing a bowl for herself.

“Pasta isn’t my thing,” Keall said. “But I have to admit, this is very good.” He blew on his bit to cool it off and continued his meal.

After eating I went back to my room and checked the wall screen before doing my daily exercises. It appeared that Keall had sent a message to an untraceable source… or so the computer said. I had ways of tracking it however, at least I thought I did. It turned out, though, even with my skills I was unable to pinpoint the exact location other than the planet of Arkania. I quickly checked the cameras from that night and fast forwarded through the film to see if Keshia had ever entered Keall’s room. She hadn’t.

“So it’s Keall,” I thought. I finished up and headed back out, honestly pleased to be able to put a little more trust in Keshia… just a little. “What’s up?” I asked Keshia and Keall as I walked into the cockpit.

“I was just going over the files with Keall, getting him up to speed,” Keshia answered.

“Nice,” I took a seat beside her. “So you got everything clear Keall?”

“All except who were going after,” he answered. “That and what this Security Sentinel is.”

“Actually we don’t know who exactly we are going after yet. That’s what this Mecob Slint is going to tell us,” I told him. “As for the security sentinel… well, it’s a complicated piece of work. It has liquid copper, acid, and bacta in it.”

“At least that’s all that’s traceable in it,” Keshia corrected.

“Exactly,” I agreed. Chances are that these are put in to cover up other elements.”

“Actually I think it’s something in those elements that creates the results,” Keshia said.

I frowned at her and looked at the sample report again. “I don’t think so,” I disagreed.

“No, seriously,” Keshia said pointing at the analysis. “You see it’s got the trace elements from a crio-bomb in the copper. It’s natural but if you mix it with the malosian from the bacta and a bit of acid to start the reaction I think it might get the right results.”

“Come on,” I said with a frown. “That wouldn’t work.”

“You come on!” she objected in a friendly but argumentative tone, nudging me softly on the shoulder with her fist. “It would to work.” I laughed and shook my head. “Your laughing at me,” Keshia said with a playful tone.

“No, just forget it. I don’t know how the thing works you might be right,” I told her. “But that’s kind of immaterial.”

“So you consent defeat?” She asked with a wide grin.

“Never,” I rejected.

“You to fight like my parents,” Keall commented with amusement.

I looked over at my khommite crewman and squinted with a questioning eye. “What is it with everyone thinking were married?”

“Destiny,” Keshia said, another friendly nudge on my shoulder. I honestly couldn’t tell if that statement was a joke or not.

“No I didn’t mean it that way,” Keall said. “It’s just they were both scientists and they always had friendly duels over things like that.”

“Ah I see,” I said. “Well, you two keep going over this stuff. I’m going to see if I can dig up any last tidbits of information on our quarren friend.”

By supper time I had come up with the basics on Mecob. He was unmarried and had two sisters and a brother. His parents had both died about a year ago in a speeder accident and he had lived on J’t’p’tan since the accident. It seemed that he worked in a small factory out in the country and lived nearby. It would be easy enough to enter and leave his house unseen since it was out in the middle of no where.

After eating we all went to bed. I was crawling into bed when my doorbell sounded. I opened it up to find Keshia there in her light blue nightgown. “Hi, what’s up?” I asked casually.

“You said if I had any questions to ask…” she started timidly. “Well, I’ve just been wondering… These people were going after aren’t connected to the empire. Is this an actual Black Web mission or is this something personal? I didn’t want to ask when Keall was around because I thought you may not want to talk about it, which is fine. I was just wondering.”

“Why don’t you come in,” I told her, moving out of the doorway. “Have a seat.” Keshia sat down in the leather couch. “Ok, this is a complicated mission. Since you’re my second in command I’ll give you the details.” What I really meant by that was “Since I am pretty sure it’s Keall who is working for Glade not you, I’ll tell you a little more.”

I sat down beside her on the couch and began to explain. “I assume you heard of the bank heist that Black Web pulled off not to long ago?” Keshia nodded. “Well it wasn’t really us. There were a lot of civilians killed, even imperials. The Black Web doesn’t kill unless they have no other choice and we work hard to maintain that reputation.”

“So you’re looking for the real robbers?” Keshia asked.

“Yeah,” I confirmed.

“And why couldn’t you tell us this before?” Keshia asked with a confused scowl.

“It’s a sensitive subject among the ranks. Many say we should find the thieves but still take credit for the heist, hopping we will be seen as more of a force to be reckoned with and get more recruits. Other’s disagree and say we shouldn’t accepted the terrorist title. They sent me to find these guys but until they decide on what to do no one is supposed to know that it wasn’t us, not even members.”

“You’re not going to be in trouble for telling me are you?” Keshia asked, a seemingly sincere tone of concern echoing in her voice.

“Not if you don’t tell anyone,” I said with a smiled.

“But you’re not supposed to?” she asked.

“No, not technically,” I answered. “But it was more of a strong suggestion rather than an order. Besides I think I can trust you.”

“Do you?” She asked with a pleased smile, leaning over and resting her head on my shoulder. “I’m glad.”

Once again I found myself acting without thinking as I placed my arm around her and gently rubbed her shoulder. “You need to know though,” I told her. “Trust is something that’s hard to earn with me and easily lost. Even if I like the person it’s not in my nature to trust.”

Keshia sat up and scooted up against me. “I understand,” she said with an honest sounding voice. “I understand how hard it can be not having anyone you can trust. I’m sure I can keep your trust, and gain more.” She smiled and leaned closer. Before I could pull back I could feel her lips brush against my own. “Even though you don‘t completely trust me yet I hope I can show you that I really do love you and no matter what happens between us I always will Tilon,” Keshia said softly.

“I hope so,” were the only words I could force out. The words seemed to satisfy Keshia though and she leaned forward even more to close the distance between our brushing lips. Despite the fact I had true feelings for her I found it hard to return the kiss. The long moment seemed also to satisfy Keshia though.

“Well… goodnight,” she said, pulling away.

“Good night,” I said with half honest smile. She got up and walked to the door. “Keshia… I do love you. Just please don’t make me regret that love.” The words came out almost as a threat and I instantly wished I could pull them back inside. Keshia didn’t seem bothered by my tone though, on the contrary. She smiled widely and I could see sincere joy flash into her beautiful eyes.

“I love you too,” she said, biting her lower lip as she did so often and exiting my room.

I didn’t get any sleep that night. I couldn’t stop assessing the situation and running through scenarios. What would I do if this fell through? Worse yet what if it fell through because she really was still working for Glade? I worked out at least one hundred different ways get out of the problem unscarred physically but no matter what angle I took there was always emotional damage.

The next day I delayed leaving my room for several hours, still running through my options and calculating the risks. Was it better to break off the relationship now? Keshia didn’t come to see what was taking me as she usually did. She no doubt knew that our last talk had left me with much to consider. When I finally joined her and Keall in the cockpit she approached more timidly than normal.

“Hey,” she greeted softly.

“Hey captain,” Keall greeted as he chewed on a piece of pie that Keshia had no doubt cooked.

“Good morning,” I replied to them both. “Or rather… good afternoon.”

“I saved you some breakfast,” Keshia said, motioning to the small table that she had set up in the cockpit and placed the food on.

“Thanks,” I said with a smile and gave her a one armed hug. The hug seemed to lighten the mood of her and I. Keshia smiled with satisfaction as I walked over to get my food and realized that I had made my choice. I was going to risk everything for the sake of love… I wondered what was going wrong with my mind. A month ago if you had asked me about the subject of love I would have adamantly assured you that it wasn’t even an option.

Keall sent me a curious glanced as I hugged Keshia and Keshia seemed to be a little embarrassed as she turned away and refused to look at Keall. “So…” Keall said. I was about ready to tell him to mind his own business. “When do we arrive at J’t’p’tan?”

“Another five hours,” Keshia answered. Those five hours went quick. The three of us talked and shared stories of our pasts… well at least we all assumed each other’s stories were true. I knew mine weren’t all true and I supposed Keshia figured as much as well. Keall seemed like such an innocent young man though. Surely, though, he was simply playing the part well.

We reached the planet and landed without any problems. Every time we landed I still got a little tight inside, wondering if they were going to realize I was in a stolen ship. Realistically I knew that there was no way anyone would ever know. Not with all the modifications that Keshia had done before I bought it.

We landed a ways away from the factory and Mecob’s house. “So what’s the plan captain?” Keall asked.

“Wait until dark,” I answered as we walked through the city. “After that we set up watch and we wait for him to come home.”

We rented a few speeder bikes and drove out of town, made a large circle and a long time later ended up not far from Mecob’s house that sat out on the grassy plains. “Now the boring part?” Keall asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “Now the boring part. We wait.” We got off and stashed our bikes behind a hill. Then we sat down and waited. I set up a small camera on the top of the hill and walked back down behind it. I flipped a switch and the transceiver fed the image to a monitor that allowed us to watch from behind the hill.

“I’ll take first watch,” Keall volunteered.

“Alright,” I agreed. I laid back on the ground, the slanting hill making my head high enough that I could glance over at the monitor if I strained my eyes.

Keshia came and laid down beside me. “So,” she asked. “Any idea what time this guy gets off work?”

“In about three hours,” I said, looking over to her.

“Then why come so early?” Keall asked.

“Because,” I told him. “We have nothing else to do. We might as well watch the place in our spare time. Who knows me might get lucky and find something useful.”

“Or we could just take a nap in the sun,” Keshia said and turned her head over to rest on my shoulder. I put my hand around on her shoulder and she scooted over to rest her head on the right side of my chest. I leaned my the side of my jaw on the top of her head and glanced over at Keall, slightly self conscious.

“So you two are like… serious huh?” he asked with an amused look.

“Been holding that question in for a while have ya?” I asked and rolled my eyes at him. Keshia giggled a bit at wrapped her arm over my stomach.

“Well, kind of yea… sir,” Keall answered skittishly.

Keshia looked up at me as if awaiting my answer as eagerly as Keall, or more so. “Yeah,” I gave him a simple answer.

Keshia smiled and tipped her head back down, hugging me a little tighter. I kissed her gently on the head, knowing that was her way of approving my answer. Suddenly I found myself noting things like the spark in her eyes, the smell of her hair, and the gentle laughter that she sent out like a song on the wind. Once again I had to ask myself what was happening to me? The question did little to cause me to reevaluate my decision though.

Right on time Mecob Slint arrived at his house. “Lets move,” I told the others softly. After Mecob’s door had closed the three of us were hot on his trail. The doorbell rang and I pulled out my gun. The unsuspecting Quarren opened the door only to find a blaster barrel pointed at his head. “Don’t make a sound,’ I warned him. Me and my party shuffled in and closed the door behind us.

“Who are you wand what do you want?” Mecob asked, playing the tough act, but I could tell he was afraid… very afraid.

“I want to know who you bought the Security sentinels for,” I told him.

“I don’t know what your talking about,” he insisted stubbornly.

“Sure you do Mecob,” I smiled and aimed my blaster at one of the tentacles that protruded from the aliens face. “The bothan. You traded him a modified Corelian blaster for the sentinels. If you still can’t remember, then I have…” I paused to count his tentacles. “One, two, three… four ways to persuade you. If you would like I could demonstrate.” I charged the blaster and pressed it hard against his tentacle.

“No!” he jerked in a futile attempt to get away.

“Then tell me!” I yelled viciously in his face, flailing spit through the air. I had learned long ago to appear as ruthless as possible when dealing with people like Mecob. “You have ten seconds.”

“Ok! I’ll talk,” he agreed reluctantly. “I bought them for a man who calls himself Glade Mist.” I wished I could say the name didn’t shock me… but it did. I cautiously glanced into the reflective surface of Mecob’s wall screen to view the faces of my two comrades. As I suspected Keshia looked genuinely surprised but Keall on the other hand didn’t look very surprised at all.

“Who is Glade working for?” I asked him.

“I don’t know!” Mecob insisted. “Believe me I have no idea. I’ve been running errands for him ever since I met him about five years ago but he has always maintained that I don’t need to know who it is he is working for.” For some reason I believed Mecob, I had him scared and backed into a corner so he had nothing to gain by lying about this.

“Well, this is your lucky day,” I told him. “It looks like I get to let you live.” I let Mecob Slint go and I walked back to his door. “By the way,” I said, turning back to Mecob. “Next time you see Glade, tell him that messing with the Black Web is very bad idea. Even if I don’t get him my superiors will.” With that I raised my gun, aimed at the Quarren and fired. He crumpled to the floor in a motionless glob. “Come on we need to get of this planet before the stun wears off and he calls the authorities.”

Me and my crew raced out his door and back to the Black Widow where we took off and headed for deep space. “Glade Mist…” Keall said as we all settled into our chairs. “Honestly it doesn’t surprise me. He always was interested in the Black Web for some reason.”

“What’s the plan?” Keshia asked.

The plan was to make a fake plan… naturally. Then Keall would report back to Glade and when Glade was expecting us we would be somewhere else. It also would provide the final tidbits of proof that I needed to prove that Keall was still working for Glade.

“What planet does Glade have his base on?” I asked.

“His largest base is on Dathomir,” Keshia said.

“Set course for Dathomir then,” I told her. “Once we get there we will lay low for a while and scout out the area.” I got up from my seat and headed to my room, leaving Keshia and Keall behind in the cockpit. “So…” I said softly to myself. “This is where the trail ends.” I stared at the planet Dathomir as it was displayed on my wall screen. Over the short trip I would learn everything I didn’t already know about the plant, thus taking away the ‘home town advantage’ that Glade would have.

Late nights and long days proved taxing but profitable by the time we reached Dathomir I had not only become an expert on the planet but I had also intercepted yet another transmission to Glade through Keall’s room, no doubt warning him that we were coming. It didn’t mater though, that he knew. Once Keall fed him the right false information taking Glade down would be one of my simplest tasks yet.

Jax Nova
15 April 2008, 03:18 PM
Chapter 4: Dathomir’s Witch

We arrived on Dathomir in stormy weather, which I liked. Because of the weather we were able to fly past all sensors and land in the wilderness totally undetected by any living creature. That wasn’t easy, not even with a stealthy ship like the Black Widow.

“Keshia, you and I will check out the perimeter,” I said as I rose from my seat in the captains chair. “Keall you stay behind and watch over the ship.” Keshia and I headed out and glassed the base. “Have you ever been in there?” I asked Keshia.

“Once,” she answered. “There’s no way we could get in. The only way is to wait until he comes out.” she assured me.

“Looks like it,” I agreed. There was security monitors, laser detection grids, heat sensors, automated security measures… it was like a fortress. “I know what we need to do,” I said. “Lets head back.”

Keshia and I made our way quickly back to the ship. One thing we needed to do was keep things moving along. Glade knew we were here but didn’t know where. Being so close meant I had to feed him the false information through Keall as soon as possible. Once back at the ship I sat everyone down I the cockpit and explained my plan.

“I noticed a marked speeder in the base,” I started. “It was Glade’s. So all we have to do is wait until he leaves the base, follow him and capture him.”

“Then what?” Keshia asked.

“Then we make him give us the money that he stole in the name of Black Web and we find out why he did it,” I answered.

“And then?” she continued.

“Then…” I paused for thought. What did I want Keall to tell Glade. I needed Glade to be scared… scarred enough to run. “Then we assure that he will never do anything like that again.”

“I thought Black Web didn’t kill people,” Keall commented.

“And were not going to,” I replied. “He’ll be live, he will just be ninety percent paralyzed. And if things go bad with the plan and we fail to get him we will just have to call in a larger group from the rest of the Black Web members. Trust me, if you saw the kind of equipment these guys have it would make this place look like child’s play.” I looked innocently over at Keall and then to Keshia so it wouldn’t seem uneven. Keall did look concerned. “Well, we better get some sleep.”

“Alright, see you guys in the morning,” Keall said as he walked to his room.

“Why don’t we call the operation off,” Keshia said after Keall had left.

“What?” I asked looking at her with confusion. “Why?”

“I’m afraid,” she said shyly. “What if one of us gets hurt, or… killed? Why can’t we just find a nice place to settle down and live out the rest of our lives together?” She hugged me as she spoke her last line.

“I wish we could honestly,” I replied, putting my arms around her. “But my superiors won’t let me off until this job is finished. After we pull this off we will have plenty enough money to make a new life for ourselves.”

Keshia looked up at me with surprise. “You mean you’ll really give up being thief after this?”

“For you… yeah,” I replied softly.

Something in her face seemed more shocked than it should be, but she flashed that sweet smile and kissed me lightly, wiping it away. “Then I guess we better hurry and get this job finished.” She smiled again and kissed me a second time. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” I said as she pulled away and headed to her room. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” she replied as she disappeared out of the cockpit.

That night I got a restful sleep and woke invigorated. As I had suspected another message had been sent from Keall’s room. Glade would no doubt send a decoy out of the front gate to keep us busy while he got away in a ship or something.

I grabbed all my equipment and headed out. The other two were not far behind me. “Ok,” I said as we stepped outside. “Here are your positions.” I downloaded the locations that they were to go to into their data pads. “Now lets get out there and watch.”

“What if he doesn’t show?” Keshia asked. “It could be days.”

“If we sit out here everyday then we’ll catch him when he does show up,” I replied. “See you guys later.” I waved and headed off to my position. Keall and Keshia were alone and secluded where they could only see the pathway that Glade would take. I, however, could see the base and the marked speeder. I would know when the mechanics prepped the speeder for launch.

Hours past and nothing happened. I was beginning to wonder if Glade was going to play into my hands or not. Maybe he was to smart for me… “I hope not,” I mumbled. Then I noticed the mechanics prepping the speeder and a ship. “Just what I need,” I told myself. Now my plan was in action.

I raced over to Keall’s hiding spot and pulled out a small dart. Keall jerked around as I approached. “Woe! I almost shot you! You scared me half to death,” he said as I walked up to him.

“Sorry about that,” I said with a smile, tucking the dart up my sleeve. “So, tell me Keall,” he looked over at him. “Did you tell Glade the plan exactly like I told it to you?”

Keall looked over at me with confusion. “What? I don’t know what you mean. I didn’t tell Glade anything.”

“Come on Keall,” I said. “I intercepted the missions from your room to Glade. Now this is important. Did you tell him exactly what I told you?”

“Honestly I don’t know what you mean!” Keall exclaimed. He was growing frantic and I was running out of time. I never really figured he would talk but it was worth a try.

“Well, I guess that’s that then,” I said, stabbing the dart into his arm.

“What… Wh… what is that?” Keall asked, dropping to the purple grass that grew on the planet surface.

“It’s a special mixture,” I explained. “Don’t worry it won’t kill you, just paralyze you from the waist down. Oh, and make you go def and mute as well as paralyze your fingers. It’s nothing personal I just can’t have you waiting around as a risk. I fixed so that effects would wear off in a year about. Now I have a debt to settle.”

I turned to leave and heard Keall going for his gun. In a flash I twisted around and shot him square in the chest. “Blast you!” I cursed. “You didn’t have to do that! You could have lived.” I shoved my gun back in it’s holster and ran full speed back to the base. Keshia would soon intercept the decoy on the bike and I would catch Glade in his get away ship.

I avoided all the security cameras and positioned myself behind a building. “Now it’s time to pull one of your own tricks Glade,” I said with a grin, pulling out a security sentinel that I had lifted from the bothan. I activated the device and all the security systems went off. In an instant I was in and racing over to the ship. There was, interestingly enough, a feverish lack of security guards. I assumed they figured with all the systems in place they didn’t need guards.

The few guards they had I quickly maneuvered around. I took a place behind a blue packing crate, waited for the guard to pass by, then hopped over and darted to the ship that was prepped for take off. I looked at the panel under the ship. “This should be easy,” I said as I ripped it off. A few adjustments to the wire and the loading ramp lowered.

I darted up the ramp, weapons in hand. To my utter shock I found only two people on the entire ship. The shock, however, was not the number, but the people. There stood Glade arguing violently with Keshia. The two of them stopped in shock and stared at me, Glade with distain and Keshia with shock and embarrassment.

“What’s going on?” I asked angrily as I pointed my guns at both of them.

“What’s going on is simple,” Glade said spitefully. “My informant is doing her job.” Glade glared at Keshia and then back at me.

I looked at Keshia with shock. I wasn’t sure whether to be hurt or mad.. Or both. My emotions over brimmed as I slammed the controls to shut the loading ramp. “Take of,” I told Keshia.

“Tilon please I-”

“Take off!” I yelled irately. A tear trickled down the corner of Keshia’s face as she took the controls and piloted the ship out into space.

“Tilon it’s not what it looks like,” Keshia assured me as we broke the planet’s atmosphere.

“Oh it’s not?” I snapped back. “So you’re not the informant and I didn’t just kill Keall who was innocently set up by you!” I screamed louder, anger dripping of my voice and words like deadly venom as I forced back tears.

“I was working for Glade…” Keshia replied in tears. “But I was going to quite. I came here to confront him! I wanted to go away with you.”

“Don’t give me that you witch!” I retorted strongly. “If that were true you would have stopped long ago and you would have told me!”

“It’s not that simple!” Keshia objected. “Glade isn’t my boss… he’s my father.” Glade smiled smugly as I looked over at him in astonishment.

“That’s right, she’s my daughter,” Glade said smugly. I turned back to Keshia, disoriented as tears forced their way out and slid down my cheeks. My mind must have slipped because somehow I had let this woman get to me and my senses dropped. Glade took the moment and attacked with the skill of a master he disarmed me and shoved me against the far wall. “And because she is my daughter she is coming with me, not you.”

The motions Glade used passed through my mind a million times in the next second. I knew those moves and they were only taught one place. “You’re black sun…” I said.

Glade laughed. “You guessed it Tilon. You never should have given us the cold shoulder. We don’t like it when people use us for training and then think they can make it on their own. You could of at least stayed private rather than joining up with our competition, it would have been much safer.”

“Dad…” Keshia got up, leaving the ship on auto pilot. “You’re in black sun?” she asked with honest surprise.

“Don’t say another word Keshia! Get in the escape pod,” he ordered cruelly.

“No! I’m staying with Tilon,” she said in rebellion.

Glade slammed his fist down on the controls of the ship, activating a self destruct button. “You stay you die,” Glade told Keshia. “So you either get in with me or die with him.”

“Please dad don’t do this!” Keshia screamed. Glade only grabbed her by the arm and shoved her into the open escape pod. Glad climbed in after her and shut the door. The escape pod jettisoned and I franticly searched for a second escape pod. Unfortunately there was only one. I turned my attention to the self-destruct. Despite my mechanical skills and technical know how, there was nothing I could do. The ship was inevitably going to blow in just under… I glanced down at the clock. “One minute…” the words echoed silently beneath the barrage of sounding alarms, flying sparks and the roaring of the ship’s overloading systems.

Jax Nova
15 April 2008, 03:20 PM
Chapter 5: Black Web… Immortal

Keshia glanced out the window one last time, tears flooding her face. She recoiled violently and threw herself into a fit of sobs as the ship that Tilon Gror had been trapped in exploded, lighting up the space around it with it’s flaring fire balls that spat out in all directions.

“It was for your own good Keshia,” Glade told her. “He wasn’t good enough for you.”

“I hate you!” Keshia yelled angrily at her father. “You lied to me! You said you didn’t want him dead. I don’t even know you, your whole life has been a lie! You never told me you were involved with Black Sun…” She spoke violently and angrily, gasping for breath between frantic moans and tears. “I loved him!”

“I didn’t tell you because I wanted to protect you!” Glade shouted back.

“If you wanted to protect me you should have never got involved in the first place!” Keshia retorted.

The remainder of the flight was long and silent. In the months following Tilon’s death Keshia and her father grew increasingly further apart. Keshia’s thoughts, though they still dwelt on what could have been, grew increasingly darker. She held a picture close to her stomach. She looked down at Tilon’s face. Beside the picture was written one name. Zairek. The name that Tilon and her had agreed to call their first child.

Light-years away from where Keshia’s dark thoughts festered a new darkness was growing. Lainen Gloer stood in a defensive stance, energy staff in hand. “Come on,” he taunted the Imperial officers. “Make my day. Just try and take me in.” A brash grin stretched across the face of the young, muscular martial artist.

The two Imperial officers each pulled out a vibroblade. “Surrender and we can make this easy,” the commanding officer told him.

“Why would I want to make it any easier than it’s already going to be?” Lainen asked in with amusement. With lightning like quickness the young teenager thrust his energy staff forwards. The officer blocked, a typical move. Lainen twisted his staff, spun it a bit and contorted his body to bend down and under his weapon shaft, twisting it around behind him. With a single swift flick of the wrist he used the resistance of the first officer’s block to forcibly thrust his staff behind the vibroblade of the second officer and hit him squarely in the jaw. The Imperial officer fell to the ground as the staff released enough energy into his body to fry his systems three times over.

The last officer looked down at his companion with faltering resolve, fear seeping into his veins like a fatal disease. In a moment of flashing speed Lainen forcibly swatted his staff back and forth in his hands, smacking the blade of the officer’s sword and sending it from side to side. Lainen let the Imperial officer overcorrect for the next impact to his blade, the frightened officer acting on reflex instead of intelligence. The officer braced and pushed against the expected impact but when no such impact came he inadvertently thrust his sword off to the side.

Lainen took advantage of the opening and maneuvered his staff to strike the officer dead center in the chest. A second discharge of electricity raced out of the staff and into the officer’s lungs, paralyzing them and frying them instantly.

“You should have retreated when you had the chance,” Lainen said grimly as he stared down at the two dead men. “You could have lived to fight another day.” He bent down and gathered all their effects when he heard a noise behind him.

“Well done!” A distorted voice came from the shadows.

“Who are you?” Lainen asked, activating his staff and pointing it at the new intruder.

A dark dressed figure stepped out of the shadows, his suit mostly electronic, his breathing and words all distorted. “My name is Zairek,” the man told him. “And I’m in an organization called the Black Web, perhaps you’ve heard of us.”

“Yeah,” Lainen nodded. “I heard the Empire declared war on you.”

“A mistake they will live to regret,” Zairek said with a wheeze. “Tell me, why are the Imperials after you?”

“Oh… I refused to join as a recruit,” Lainen answered. “I was actually looking for the rebellion. There have been rumors that one is forming.”

“Perhaps, then,” Zairek offered. “You would care to join Black Web. We can always use a fighter with such skills as you have.”

“Why not…” Lainen agreed casually. “What are the rules and all that stuff?”

Zairek downloaded the official Black Web rules into the young man’s data pad. That evening the two left the planet in their new ship, heading out to find a full five man crew.