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Garbella Memorial Starport, Hangar 141 - Jast

Jast nodded, giving Telsa a smile as she led their in-house slicing team away. Might have been premature to bring them on without getting in touch with Jacen first, but they needed to cover their bases both as fully as possible and as quickly as possible. The slicing team was only one of the bases, according to the plan. The team of bounty hunters was the second base.

"Right, the credits," Jast said, slipping his thumbs into his pockets. "You shoot as straight with that blaster as you do with the talk, I'm guessing you're gonna earn 'em. Just happens to be this is just the kind of job that needs your kind of expertise, too, which means a lot of credits. It's a hunt, more or less. We're tracking down a high level, low profile Pyxis Cartel asset, a scientist. The House is no joke, so we're going to need all the guns we can get, and an extra ship if we can get it. More than that, I need a bounty hunter, someone who can chase leads. People too.

"You've got a ship, more than a few guns, and the skills we need, Gleetch. I'm inclined to pay a lot for that. Three hundred thousand credits, if we bring in the target."

- - -

Garbella Memorial Starport, Turbolift Shaft 24 - The Mandalorian

"Ordo here," the Mandalorian said into the comm channel. Deklen stood in a rapidly descending turbolift, which, though large, was exceedingly cramped by a fully outfitted fire team of Sith soldiers and a handful of civilians too dumb or impatient to wait for the next lift. Maybe it was apathy.

The four black suited infantrymen, encased in milspec armor that would repel all but the heaviest and most sustained blaster fire, would have looked more at home on the front lines of the Galactic War than Nar Shaddaa. They stood out like anything on the Smuggler's Moon. Being noticed wasn't within Ordo's parameters of comfortable operation.

"Ordo, we are experiencing difficulties with our connections at the starport," Skadi's voice came through the commline. "The hangar is still open."

Ordo opened his mouth to pry into it, but thought better of it. "Orders?" he requested.

"Hold off until we can secure lockdown of the hangar," Skadi said. The turbolift came to a stop, and the doors slid open. Ordo and his team stepped out into Garbella Memorial Plaza, a massive, multilevel shopping center that would have been a city-square on another world, but on Nar Shaddaa was another passing fixture of the ecumenopolis.

"Negative, Command, we are in the open," Ordo responded. They were bound to be spotted. Four hulking, heavily armed Sith soldiers were no common sight on the streets of Nar Shaddaa, and as lost in the crowd you could get, you couldn't escape being noticed with friends like these. "We stand to lose the quarry entirely if we don't move right now," he added.

"Stand down until starport control cooperates with our directives, Ordo, that's an order." Until starport control cooperates, he noted. They'd forgotten to pay the rent, and the lights had gone out. Nar Shaddaa had rules and laws, and ways to wade through them. It took deftness, cunning, and an ability to respect the system while at the same time taking advantage of it. The Sith had no respect for the system. They'd expected to beat it into submission, and were now floundering in the face of uncooperative bureaucrats. If only the Republic had the Hutts on its side during the war.

Imperial Intelligence was not achieving lockdown on Garbella Memorial today, or any day, until they paid their betters their due.

Ordo shut off the comms, drew his blaster, and picked up the pace, pushing through the plaza crowds as he made way for Hangar 141. His four armored shadows followed suit.
<Snipped quote by Jackdaw>

Obviously I was referencing Jedi Master Jesus Christ smh

o well carry on champ
Looks good, except your character says “Christ” in his interview. Obviously not the most lore friendly reference.

I find no material issues with the character, however.
Garbella Memorial Starport, Hangar 141 - Jast

Jast rubbed a temple. This really didn’t qualify as negotiating. No, it was more haggling than anything. The Twi’lek dockmaster, a tall, sallow skinned being with a shit-eating grin like a shark’s, would not stop smiling. He wanted twenty percent above market rate for the water and wouldn’t clear them for takeoff until they paid.

Not even haggling. It was plain extortion.

“Let me take it from here,” Val said, “looks like we have company.” The engineer nodded over to the gathering crowd. Jast looked over and gave Telsa, ever on his right, a nod.

“Alright. You take care of it. No more than fifteen percent, final offer,” he said, the last bit directed with pointed frustration at the dockmaster. Val nodded, and let the two get to the real work.

Jast and Telsa walked over from the hangar’s far right, and as they approached, the captain of the Raven Trepass flashed their guests a broad, white smile.

“Thrax, Sena,” he said as they closed the distance, giving them both firm handshakes in greeting. “Pleasure to see you two again. And you,” he said, moving to the Rodian at the head of his trio, “must be Gleetch Elnam,” he said, offering the captain of the Rodia’s Revenge a hand in turn. “That’s a great looking ship you’ve got over there. Jaren Jast, captain of the Raven Trepass. Pleasure to meet you.”

Telsa, meanwhile, made introductions with Thrax and Sena. She’d become such an integral part of the crew that Jast often forgot she was still relatively new to the scene on Nar Shaddaa. She hadn’t had a chance to meet the breaking-and-entering tag team the last time the crew had contracted with the pair. “Right, sorry,” Jast interjected. “Thrax, Sena, this is Telsa Jetstar, our dedicated pilot. She’ll be flying us out to Ord Mantell for the job.”

- - -

Garbella Memorial Starport, Aerospace Control Tower 3 - Yaan

A short, stout Lannik sat at his console atop one of the eight vaunted towers of Garbella Memorial, at the very heart of the starport's nervous system. Aerospace Control Tower 3's deck was a busy, chattering office, abuzz with energy as dozens of aerospace controllers worked away to carry out the starport's day-to-day business.

Deben Yaan's communicator buzzed excitedly in his ear, and the Lannik tapped a button on his console. "Garbella Memorial, Aerospace Control," he announced into the receiver. He should sound more alert, he knew, but it was early and the caf hadn't done enough for him that morning. Not that he needed to be, really. Garbella Memorial was not only the largest starport on Nar Shaddaa, it was also the most advanced. The starport practically operated itself, its automated systems providing more than enough information and processing power to guide its air and starships through docking and launches. For all the business of the control tower's setting, he was more of a supervisor to the computer system than an aerospace traffic controller.

"Aerospace Control, I am requesting an immediate lockdown of Hangar 141," the caller stated flatly, save for some clear emphasis on immediate. It wasn't a request. Yaan's understanding of the military came from holovids alone, but that authoritarian bark sounded like an order a military officer might give. He yawned.

"Please provide clearance codes," he answered. The military officer-type on the other end of the call provided a long alphanumeric string, which the Lannik diligently recorded and inputted. The system denied clearance. "Please repeat," Yaan said, and the charade played out again. Denied. "I apologize, sir," Yaan said with clear insincerity, "but your clearance codes are out of date."

"This is unacceptable. I speak on behalf of the Sith Empire! That hangar needs to be locked down at this moment!" The caller's voice grew louder and more shrill with each syllable. Yaan took a sip of his third caf of the day, mulling over what the Sith Empire could want with a hangar currently berthing three light freighters. Or why a Sith official would be calling an aerospace control tower to do, well, anything. It felt too mundane.

"If you would like to speak to my supervisor, I can arrange for him to take your call," the Lannik offered, looking over to Grotto and giving him a nod. The Toydarian, busy with another controller's console a few cubes down, put up a hand in the universally recognized signal for wait. "He's busy at the moment, can you hold?"

"Absolutely not! Who is this-" Yaan pressed the hold button and drained the caf before taking his next call.
The Raven Trespass - Val

A shirtless Jaren Jast, caf in hand, flickered into holographic existence on the holoprojector console. “Hello?” he asked, setting down a datapad out of view

“I didn’t think you’d be awake,” Val said. The Twi’lek engineer was seated in the Raven’s pilot seat. It was so late in the night to be considered early morning.

“Still on Ord Mantell local time,” Jast answered. “What’s going on?”

“I was looking into hangars at Garbella Memorial,” she said. She was referring to Garbella Memorial Starport, one of the largest planetside starports on Nar Shaddaa. “Hangar 141 has an open berth next to the Rodia’s Revenge. It’s a freighter captained by a Rodian bounty hunter, Gleetch Elnam.” The holographic image of Jast was too small to interpret his facial expressions, but by Val’s estimate he seemed to become thoughtfully curious.

“Rodian bounty hunter?” he said, attempting to remember. “Didn’t I shoot him?”

“Did you?”

“Yeah, on Ryloth a few months back. During that job for Yurga,” he said.

“No, that was Gleenik. Gleenik Anam, I think. Different Rodian. This guy’s a freelancer. He’s a good merc according to Khulbe’s database.”

“You think we need the help?” he asked. Val nodded. She did, in fact, think they needed the help. Telsa had been right in pointing out they were going after the Pyxis. It was a dangerous group, and if the crew needed firepower, they didn’t have it.

“We do.”

Jast nodded. “Alright,” he said after a moment. “Book the hangar, we’ll talk to him about coming on with us.”

- - -

Spaceyard NSD-04 - The Mandalorian

Thresholds were the key to the Ministry’s operations. In a galaxy full of trillions, in an empire whose citizens numbered in the hundreds of billions, it was impossible to expect absolute security of information. The Ministry of Intelligence had determined long ago that there were certain tolerance thresholds it would have to accept, simply for the fact even an organization as robust as the Ministry lacked the resources to make itself omniscient. Some spies would go unrooted out, some defectors would disappear into the manifold worlds of the Republic, and some information would make its way into the hands of the enemy.

Medical records of hundreds of the Sith Empire’s highest-ranking administrators, Sith, and most prominent private citizens had not been within the tolerance thresholds the Ministry deemed acceptable, but once the offending Republic agents had escaped Nar Shaddaa, and then Tatooine, there seemed to be little to be done to remedy this failure of internal security.

The Gunslinger, as the intelligence team charged with reviewing the incident had named him, and his crew had escaped on an XS-class light freighter, such a common and replaceable ship that a hunt for the team seemed to more or less entirely impracticable. That said, they appeared to be irregulars, and the ship was outfitted with military grade ion warheads that required specifically designed, similarly military grade launchers to fire. The intelligence team concluded that it was probable that the ship was likely not a disposable asset, and that its crew would continue using it. A quick transponder swap was still an option for the crew, however, and that issue plagued the team’s ability to develop a strategy to track the field team.

Until a clever intelligence analyst on Dromund Kaas had applied the philosophy of tolerance thresholds to the problem.

While transponder signals could be changed with some clever slicing and engineering, even swapped freely with a dedicated program, a ship’s drive signature, that is, the many various emissions and signals given off by the ship’s engine, would remain the same without considerable effort. This was not particularly useful, usually, as ships within a particular class would have only marginally different drive signatures. This made transponder codes the superior form of identifying vessels, practically speaking. However, for ships as readily and eagerly modified as the XS freighter, the various modifications made to the ship would alter the drive signature substantially enough that similar ships could be distinguished from one another.

By using the sensor readings captured by the D-5 Mantis during its engagement with the freighter over Tatooine, the analyst was able to extrapolate a void-applicable drive signature, which could be used to parse through and compared to the drive signatures of other XS-class freighters. Initial tests showed significant enough variance in the drive signatures among XS freighters that the ships could be meaningfully distinguished.

For their success, the team was rewarded with a reassignment from the nigh-palatial accommodations of the Ministry of Intelligence’s central headquarters in Kaas City to a cramped office on an orbital spaceyard over Nar Shaddaa.

Deklen Ordo found something amusing in that.

Ordo stepped off the turbolift and into the offices of Kadiza Star-Traders, a company which existed only on digital registrations filed with the Nar Shaddaa government. Inside, a half dozen sleep-deprived analysts sat in their cubicles, furiously working away at their terminals on whatever it is analysts did. Ordo passed them by without much greeting and came to the office of Lieutenant Skaddi.

Skaddi was a lean, hatchet-faced Ministry officer with a deep mistrust of Ordo. Cipher 12’s mandate requiring the integration of the Mandalorian liaison had been accepted and executed, but professional accommodations did not extend to the Lieutenant’s personal relationship with the mercenary. Ordo didn’t care for him much either. Most of Cipher 12’s staff were overcompensated bureaucrats who had never fired a blaster at a moving target. He figured that kept him employed, though, so he didn't pass overly harsh judgment on this note.

“We have a 96% match docked at the personal hangar of a Hutt businessperson,” Skaddi said in greeting, eyes fixed on his terminal screen. “Entrepreneur and reputed crime lord by the name of Khulbe.” Ordo smirked. For all the things the Ministry of Intelligence knew, its understanding of Nar Shaddaa was superficial at best.

“I’m familiar with him. Following up will be difficult while they’re berthed there,” Ordo offered.

“Scans detected what we are highly confident is a modified portside missile system. We’re not following up,” Skaddi rebuffed him. “You will take a team planetside by way of the Manticore and wait for them to move. Once they’re clear of this hangar, apprehend them on the ground or incapacitate them in the air once they leave Hutt airspace.” Skaddi looked at Ordo, icy, piercing eyes locking with the Mandalorian’s. “Understood?”

Ordo offered him an appeasing smile. “Understood.”

- - -

Garbella Memorial Starport - Jast

Garbella Memorial Starport was the single largest structure in Dijuula City, a monolithic cylinder two kilometers wide and hundreds of stories in height. It was capable of accommodating nearly any atmospheric capable starship or aircraft in the galaxy in its massive array of hangar bays. Jast whistled as Telsa brought the Raven in on approach.

“That’s massive,” he said, his eyes taken away from the terminal for a moment. Telsa nodded, and continued updating Garbella Memorial Control with their approach vector.

“How’s the message?”

“Mr. Elnam and Company, my name is Jaren Jast, captain of the courier ship Raven Trespass. I understand that we have we a mutual association with Khulbe the Hutt, and that you have an excellent reputation as a mercenary. I have a unique and exciting opportunity with high potential compensation, and believe that you and your crew would be an excellent fit for the job. We will be docking our ship at Hangar 141 at Garbella Memorial Starport, and would be interested in discussing this opportunity further if it suits your interests.”

“I hate it,” Telsa commented after a moment’s thought.

“What about it?” Jast asked with a laugh.

“Mr. Elnam and Company?”

“What am I supposed to say?” Jast asked.

“Just, Gleetch Elnam. Colon,” she suggested. Jast tilted his head, and acquiesced, amending the greeting from Mr. Elnam and Company to Gleetch Elnam:.

“Fair enough,” he said.

An hour later, after clearing their approach and descending into the great central ring of Garbella Memorial on repulsorlift power, Telsa set the Raven down in Hangar 141. She completed her post-landing checks with practiced ease, and they lowered the boarding ramp and disembarked a few minutes later.

Val and their new crewmate, the Zelosian T’a, made their way to a stack of crates, where Val planned on assigning T’a to do inventory on the provisions they’d ordered to restock the Raven. Most of what they were taking on was water, but they had an urgent enough need for dry goods that Val, acting in her quartermaster role, had insisted on provisioning the ship before making another trip off-world. Jast watched as she handed off a datapad to T’a to take inventory while she spoke with the docking officials. E2-M6, the ship’s astromech droid Val had tasked T’a with repairing upon her coming aboard, beeped excitedly as it followed the Zelosian on her errand. Boqorro, Val, and now E2 had taken a liking to T'a quickly; Boqorro had even fixed up her old blaster for her, which the Zelosian now carried strapped to her thigh.

“What now?” Telsa said, hands on her hips. Jast shrugged, taking in the massive, four-ship hangar bay and settling his eyes on the silent form of the docked Rodia’s Revenge.

“We wait for Thrax and Sena. And we see if Mr. Elnam and company want to play ball,” he said. Telsa nodded.

“Easy enough.”
Khulbe’s Palace – Jast

“Did you try the Gungan?” Telsa asked. Jast shook his head.

“I’m trying to keep to the stuff I recognize,” he answered. That was challenging. Though Jast had been to more than a few of the galaxy’s corners, Khulbe’s staff had assembled a dining experience that sampled dishes from across the known universe, many from worlds of which Jast had never heard. It was a surprisingly eclectic experience of the palette, and, to be sure, a welcome one. lol

Before they knew it, the evening had run its course. Jast and Telsa thanked Khulbe for his hospitality as he departed, and the captain made note of the Hutt’s offer. It was not one he was interested in taking up. Moral qualms aside, he imagined Telsa would not approve, which was reason enough.

After Khulbe’s departure he and Telsa made their rounds, saying goodbye and goodnight. As they spoke, Nima, the fire-skinned Twi’lek, gently guided them to the throne room doors. They swung open, and as Jast and Telsa made to leave the slave girl spoke.

“Captain, a word?” she asked. Jast paused, considering her with quizzical interest. He waved Telsa on. His blonde compatriot, slightly drunk, nodded and made her way to her quarters without him.

“Of course.”


Jast nodded, noting that they were decidedly not alone here, and they proceeded down the corridor toward his quarters. He assumed Khulbe’s license, heard by all, would allow them to proceed without being accosted, but there was a nervous anxiety in the back of his mind. This was a dangerous place to take ungranted liberties. He made polite conversation as they walked, complimenting her dress, the food, the entertainment. They reached his rooms. As the door slid close behind them, he went to the bar.

“I know touching is an issue,” he said, pouring a pair of drinks, hard liquor, and sliding one toward her, “but if drinking isn’t, please feel free. What’s on your mind?”

[@Saix@The Wyrm]

Given that we're playing in the Cold War, and that we have people playing characters on both sides of the conflict, I think starting with a politically neutral situation where direct conflict between the Empire and Republic is currently not present would be a good place to start. This would give us an opportunity to do some cross-factional RP and allow people to participate with flexibility.

To give an example of what I mean, my idea revolved around Lannik, Bothawui, and the Bothan colonies, which are in close proximity to each other and are presently independent. I imagine that neither the Republic nor the Empire want those worlds to become territory of the other. My idea revolved around the formation of an economic agreement/non-aggression pact among them, played out from the perspectives of the PCs aligned with the Republic and Empire, both of which are supervising the negotiations to ensure that the trade agreements do not favor the interests of one of the superpowers over the other. This kind of situation leaves plenty of room for intrigue and the development of a conflict as things progress.

A similar idea could be applied to worlds along the Imperial-Republic border. Maybe local elections on a world are favoring secessionists, or, seeing as Star Wars has a penchant for monarchies in the setting, the heir to a throne is particularly partial to the other faction and may lead his world to secede upon inheritance.

Corellia could be an active counterweight to this, giving people looking to participate an active conflict a place to play, or, if we wanted to disregard Corellia in Flames, we could begin the RP earlier, in the weeks leading up to the revolution as things are put into play.

I'm not sure how broadly appealing these ideas are, but that would be my preferred approach.
Khulbe’s Palace – Jast

Jast smiled. “Sounds like a good time. If we’re able to stop by, we will. With a little luck we should be able to get the job done and be back here for the event in time.”

“I’m a huge fan,” Telsa added. “I’ll make sure we make it back for it.”

“It certainly helps having the fastest ship in the galaxy,” Jast added.

“Well, not the galaxy,” Telsa offered, taking a sip of her wine.

“The sector, anyway,” Jast answered.

“Some sectors.”

Jast looked at her. She wore a teasing smile and, had the situation not been so formal, might have been giggling. He returned the smile with a smirk of his own and looked back to Khulbe as he leaned back in his chair. “Most sectors,” he said, taking another drink from his glass. Telsa nodded, acquiescing.

“All jokes aside, it’s an amazing ship,” Telsa said. “Jast told me that you were behind funding it. I’m sure you’ll be happy to know I made sure he put your money to good use.” Val had done far more work on the ship over the years and had advised on the purchase and modification of the Raven every step of the way, but Telsa had made some specific recommendations for the engine and piloting subsystems, part of the deal Jast had agreed to when she’d come on with them.

Telsa had flown interceptors during the war, and wanted to again. The Raven wasn’t an interceptor, but she handled like one more so than any freighter Jast had ever flown. The controls were responsive, almost uncomfortably so, and Val had called Telsa’s thrust and booster choices “ridiculous” and “unnecessary.” They were expensive, too, but the end result was a ship that felt like a podracer, and when Telsa was behind the controls, calling the Raven the “fastest ship in the galaxy” didn’t feel so crazy.
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.”
Khulbe’s Palace – Jast

Jast adjusted the jacket one more time in an attempt to make it look more… something. Formalwear was not a look he was used to seeing on himself. Cleanly shaven, staring at himself in a navy suit in the ‘fresher mirror, he found himself to look like another person entirely. It wasn’t a terrible way to look, he decided, and stepped out into his rooms.

The suite Khulbe had prepared for him was exquisite, which wasn’t a word that came to his mind often. Jast had stayed in some nice places—and some that were very far from nice places—but he could not think of one hotel room or suite that compared to the opulence of Khulbe’s palatial estate. Rich cloths of crimsons, whites, golds, and blues; a bed, softer than a cloud and perfectly comfortable, that could fit four or five people his size; a fully stocked bar with whiskeys, brandies, and gins from across the galaxy and crystal tumblers to match; marble surfaces, gold trimming to every fixture.

He moved for the liquor, pouring a couple of fingers of a pale blue liquid into one of the crystal tumbers. His commlink buzzed as he considered the bottle, and he answered. “I’m at the door. You ready?” Telsa asked.

“Yeah, come in,” he said. The door slid open with a wave of his hand over the marble counter’s electronic sensors.

Jast heard her step in, heels clicking on the tiled floor, and looked up to find her garbed in a red dress, tight, sleek, and elegant. He was suddenly conscious of his gaze.

She flashed a sparkling smile. “Never seen you in a suit before,” she said, approaching the counter. Jast slid the tumbler toward her and poured another for himself.

“I’m trying it out,” he said, finishing the pour and holding his glass up. The crystal tumblers came together, and he took a sip. The blonde pilot tested it with a probing taste, and then tipped the glass back. “You look good,” Jast said as she set the empty tumbler down.

“You too,” she said, and stepped in further to explore the room. “This is incredible.”

“Yeah. Must be good to be king here, I guess,” Jast answered, leaning against the counter. Telsa ran a hand across the bed’s plush covers, her wandering eyes settling on a series of art pieces hung across the walls. Jast wasn’t one for abstractionist art, but he assumed they were valuable pieces. It would be odd if they weren’t.

“You’re lucky you’re cute,” she said, looking back at him over her shoulder, “because I like expensive things and he’s way richer than you.” Jast laughed, and poured another half shot of the blue liquor.

“Just let me know and I’ll stick one of those in my bag on the way out,” he said.

“Don’t tempt me,” Telsa replied. “Don’t get drunk, we have a date,” she added. He tossed the shot back quickly and set the tumbler down.

“Right. After you,” he said, and followed her to the exit. As they made their way into a vaunted corridor that matched his suite in design choice and luxuriousness, he wondered if they’d just been flirting.

- - -

The Raven Trespass – Boqorro

“The captain's orders are the orders. As I said, you are free to stay aboard or go, as you please. You haven’t committed any crimes here though, so the local authorities wouldn’t have anything to do with you,” Boqorro explained. "Aside from sell you, perhaps. The criminals and law enforcement here on Nar Shaddaa are often not so different." Having relieved her of her possessions, moved his hands to the IV. “You have access to the ship, now, so no need for this. You are free to visit the galley.” He wasn’t quite sure about the Zelosian diet, but the Raven was fully stocked on general provisions. If nothing else, they had water. He removed the shunt from her arm and set it aside. He stood and offered her a hand to guide her to her feet.

“Most people on Nar Shaddaa looking to fulfill their potential leave Nar Shaddaa,” he added. “I wonder what Zelos must be like. You have a sense of optimism that I think you will find does not suit this world. I lived here a long time. I think you should trust me when I tell you it is better that you come with us, wherever we go next. I think there are many better places in the galaxy for you to be than here.”

“Sense of optimism” had not been the first phrasing that had come to his mind. “Stupidity” might have been closer to what he meant, but he kept that to himself.
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