The Raven Trespass – Val
“Jacen wants to hold off on talking Trithemeus until we’re on Coruscant. He said something about a complication.”
Val Syndulla stood at the Raven’s communications console. Their link was audio only, no holo, as he had called in from the palace on his subvocal link.
“That’s not good,” the captain replied, voice flat.
It wasn’t. Jacen Jast, Jaren’s brother and the real spy in the Jast family, was typically open handed with the Raven. Jaren and his crew were a highly valuable asset to Coronet Analytica’s private intelligence business. Jaren was a dependable independent contractor with a top-of-the-line ship capable of handling its most dangerous and lucrative contracts. Coronet kept them well-provisioned with supplies and munitions, and during their jobs with the firm the executives kept their tremendously long lines of credit open to the crew for their expenses and rarely asked questions. “Complications” had never entered the dialogue during their dealings with Jacen.
“Why don’t we head this off and assume Coronet’s going to short us on support,” Jast said after a long moment’s thought. His tone was confident, which Val liked. The Raven and her crew ran into obstacles with fair regularity. Jast, for all the traits that made him seem a dashing rogue with more balls than plans, was ultimately a cool, competent commander who knew how to control and contain a situation. “Find out if Thrax and Sena are onworld. Let’s bring them in on this. If we can’t get Coronet’s codebreakers on our team, we’re going to need our own.”
“What if they ask for a price?”
“Let’s just set up a meeting before talking numbers. For tomorrow if possible. If they push for a price let’s offer them thirty. Figure that should be enough to get them on board, but if they don’t bite tell them we can negotiate in person.”
“Sounds good,” Val said, bringing up the contact information on the console.
“Alright, I’m going into this dinner. Jast out.”
- - -
Khulbe’s Palace – Jast
Jast decided, upon entering and admiring the transformed throne room, that Khulbe certainly had good taste. He wondered how much was of the Hutt’s own conception, and how much he left to the designers.
After he and Telsa had introduced themselves into the room with a sweeping bow on the captain’s part and the pilot’s best approximation of a curtsy, the two took their seats. Light chatter filled the air, and they tested appetizers. Jast made a point to lock eyes with Nima and offer her a smile. They had the bones of a good rapport. Though Jast rarely saw the Twi’lek—he saw Khulbe in person perhaps a handful of times each year, spending most of his time in the field and interacting through intermediaries more often than not—they got along well when they ran into each other.
The Hutt spoke.
“I would love to hear of your journey here, and of your passenger.”
Jast smiled. He’d been expecting this question. For a moment it had seemed that it might be avoided, seeing as how well the deal turned out, but there was only so much good fortune he could ask for. He took a sip of Corellian brandy and got on with it.
“Well, let me tell you, this trip over here really starts on Tatooine,” he said, and he launched into the story of their escape from the Smuggler’s Moon just a few short months ago. He related the exciting parts, mostly, interspersed with a good deal of humor. His flight from Nar Shaddaa on a tramp freighter, his duel with the Mandalorian on the Arkanis Sailer’s lowest levels, just as he was boarding an escape pod. He wasn’t a bad storyteller, as far as he could tell.
“…and who do I see? The Mandalorian, same one from Nar Shaddaa, and he’s got his gun on me. I have my blaster on me, but it’s at my waist and my hands are in the air, and I’m forgetting at this point, but it’s still set to stun.” The story ended with a gunfight with a pair of Trandoshan mercenaries and a grueling chase across the Dune Sea as Jast and his compatriot fled Mos Shuuta on a commandeered speeder while the Mandalorian pursued them aboard his state-of-the-art gunship.
“And I’ll never forget this, I see something way up, way above us. It’s the Raven,” Jast said, looking over at Telsa. “I couldn’t believe it. This girl,” he said, pointing at her, “comes flying down into the atmosphere, bearing down on this gunship at, what, must have been a 60, 70 degree angle and unloads. And I swear, I didn’t even know we had that many guns on the ship,” he said with a laugh. “And that’s how Telsa shot down a D-5 Mantis.”
His second looked down, clearly at least a little uncomfortable being the center of the attention. He would have felt bad had he not caught the white flash of a brilliant smile.
“Like something out of a movie,” he continued, “I wouldn’t believe it if someone told me that story.” He pressed on, but the rest of it was more mundane. The trip out to Ord Mantell to meet a contact in Worlport, dipping their toes in the TDT business smuggling pseudoteth, and then the heist. The piracy was one of the least interesting parts to the story, which wasn’t something he’d expected when they’d taken the job. They’d just pulled into a refueling station, a rest stop in orbit around a brown dwarf, barely a living soul present, and done a spacewalk with some fusion torches.
“So, end of story, we pulled out of Worlport and set course for Nar Shaddaa, and just as we’re touching down here we find out this Zelosian girl has been hiding out in a crawlspace—this access way to the landing mechanism—for over a week. Apparently she’d crawled in there while we were docked in Worlport,” he said, taking another sip of brandy. It was a fresh glass. The story had taken him a while to tell. “She was half-dead when we found her. Had to hook her up to an IV and everything. Turns out she’s a decent mechanic, so I have Val putting her to work now in our engineering bay. She’s been talking about bringing a new hand aboard to help out with the technical workload now that Glaato’s gone. Seems like we might have found one.”
It was one of those lies that was so near enough to the truth that you could forget you were lying. “And that’s the story. It’s been a trip.”
- - -
The Raven Trespass – Boqorro
“Wise choice,” Boqorro said, offering a smile. “I think the captain and first officer are off the ship by now, which leaves Valera in command. You said you’re good with tools, yes? Mechanic-type? Valera is the chief engineer on the Raven. I am sure she will have some ideas about how to put you to work while you are with us.” As he finished, footsteps from around the curved edge of the corridor came within their earshot, and as if on queue, Valera arrived, a small collection of neatly folded clothes in her arms.
“You’re looking better, miss,” the blue Twi’lek said. She talked fast, the words flowing at a rapid clip. “I don’t think we’ve done formal introductions yet. I’m Val, this is Boqorro. The captain let me know you might be coming aboard with us for a while, which is great, seeing as you have at least a bit of mechanical know-how.” Boqorro realized he hadn’t introduced himself. That had been rude, he figured.
“This ship is a real piece of work, needs all the help it can get. Might turn out to be the case we’re lucky you jumped on with us,” she said cheerily. “Come down to the engineering bay,” she said, pointing out a door down the hall, “once you’ve finished getting settled. Feel free to pick out a room, we have plenty of extra bunks here, get something to eat and so on. Take a shower too, probably. But yeah, once you’re settled, I have a project I could use your help with.”
“Also,” she added, presenting the folded clothes to the Zelosian, “I thought you might want to change.”
T’a smiled as she accepted the clothes. “Thank you.”