The planet Owara, several months after the battle of Yavin.
The abandoned mine was a spacious structure with several girders welded into support positions.Flood lamps had been erected, bathing the mine floor in harsh yellow light and casting long shadows off of the Imperial soldiers working hard to make the best of their new base of operations.But another shadow crept across the rocky floor as well, a dark tendril making its way toward the projections of the soldiers.It touched one of the shadows, then reared back and jabbed again, repeatedly spearing into the shadow of the soldier’s head like some ravenous serpentine predator making its attack on the hapless Imperial.
But the shadow, and the man it belonged to, remained completely oblivious to the attack.The apparently voracious shadow continued its assault until a teenage boy grew bored with his mischief and lowered his jabbing finger from the path of a backlighting flood light.Tam hated Imperials, and having one on board-- no matter how much she claimed to put that life behind her-- had been hard enough to deal with, but now they were allied with a whole squadron of them.He wasn’t sure what Damon was playing at, but it had better pay off.
Still, the cause they had been roped into wasn’t a bad one.Lord Pavana sounded like the kind of scum that needed to be wiped away from the galaxy, and Owara was starting to buckle under the oppression of his crime syndicate.Still, Tam didn’t see why helping the Empire regain a foothold here was any improvement.Maybe, while they were helping the proverbial kath hound move in on the kinrath’s territory, he could ask them why the Empire had seen fit to murder his parents…
It was times like these that Tam really started to miss Fi.They’d gone their separate ways, but Tam couldn’t help but feel connected to the woman, wherever she was.He couldn’t deny that it had something to do with the Force, but the Jedi he’d been traveling with had no concrete explanations.It was the one aspect of the Force he was interested in mastering, but they had long since exhausted anything pertaining to strong connections in the Force in the collection of teachings Damon had produced when they had visited his home on Temen III.Tam had long since left the gun-slinging Captain Aligeri to his studies with the ex-Imperial Elayne.
Sometimes Tam had a hard time figuring out whether it was the Imperials or the Jedi he hated more.There had been plenty of Jedi to join their ranks, and many developed an unhealthy fixation on Tam and his own frankly frightening abilities.The first Jedi he met, Master Kenlan As-Buka, turned out to not be a Jedi at all, but a skilled con artist bent on exploiting the boy for his command of the Force.Others, such as Koro Bolera, a mysterious unnamed darksider that Tam referred to as the ‘ice-man’, and the late Athelias, attempted to take the boy into their clutches by dazzling him with supernatural forces, insidious torture, or through sheer persistent force of will.
Still, the crowd he traveled with wasn’t all bad.Mir’isha, Damon’s Farghul pilot and good friend, was kind enough to him; he knew he could turn to her for whatever he needed, even if it was just a pointed, fur-covered ear to talk to.The other pilot of their troupe, Zealos Reil, was a bombastic lout sometimes, but he was good in a fight, and the slave girl Cali was nothing but trouble, but she seemed to be taking a shine to Reil, so Tam didn’t notice her around as much.
With a long sigh, Tam looked around, and seeing he was unneeded in the work around him, went back to shadow-poking the Imps in their bucket-heads...
There really wasn't anything aboard the Viper worth dying for -- at least, as far as the rest of the crew was concerned. Damon, however, was dealing with the unpleasant realization that his datapads were still aboard the ship. They were all he had left of his mom and dad, and the fact that they were in the hands of a slimeball like Pavana was...upsetting. It was almost enough to send him tearing back to the ship in a mad attempt to take it back. Almost.
Spar and Ehyva Aligeri hadn't raised an idiot, however, regardless of his crew's current opinion of him. That left Damon with little to do aside from pacing back and forth while the Imperials set up their equipment. So far, he hadn't been able to come up with any kind of plan. The fact that Pavana had a network of defense systems in place to keep people from leaving the planet put a damper on his usual "steal a ship and run" ploy. There was also the fact that Pavana was scum, and leaving innocent people in his clutches didn't sit well with most of the crew.
"Hey, captain," Mir said brightly, falling into step beside him. "How are you feeling?"
"What do you think?" Damon replied irritably. "Our ship is in the hands of a slimeball and my crew hates me."
"I meant physically," Mir replied. "But that works too." She lowered her voice. "I understand why we're working with the Empire, but this is the same Empire that tortured us and killed Tam's family. Of course the crew's going to be upset." She paused. "Aside from Proto. He's just confused."
Damon laughed shortly. "Poor droid picked a bad time to rejoin the galaxy." He glanced at her. "Are you still mad at me?"
"You infuriate me at least once a day."
"Thanks," Damon grimaced.
"However," Mir continued, "I know you're not doing it intentionally -- you're just clueless, and I've accepted that." She grinned at his outraged expression. "Which is why I wanted to let you know that no matter what you decide, I'll support you."
Damon's expression softened. "Thanks, Mir. That means a lot."
"Just...talk to Tam later, okay?" Mir said. "Deep down, I'm sure he knows why we're doing this, but it still upsets him. He needs to know you're still on his side."
"I will," Damon promised.
"Excuse me, Captain Caldera?" It was Stebs, the Imperial lieutenant. "Captain Errolt wants you and your crew to join him at the communications array."
"What is it?" Mir asked. Stebs shrugged.
"Pavana's going to make some sort of announcement. We think it has something to do with our escapades earlier today."
The Rogue Circuit burst back into real-space, and coasted above the backlit outline of its destination world: Owara.Tholme stood with his arms folded, peering out at the planet as V6, the Rogue Circuit’s pilot droid, brought the freighter about for a parallel course.The droid wouldn’t take the ship towards the atmosphere unless ordered.Tholme approved of this constancy in Vee-Six’s flight behavior.Up until a few weeks ago, the droid had been a disastrous pilot – a characteristic shared with the rest of his model type.After a few long talks with Billee, the ship’s BLX-NV labor droid and First Mate, V6 began to make significant progress.Now, the droid rarely made a mistake.
“Orders, Captain?” Billee asked, standing at his left shoulder.
“Run sensors – wide range.There’s been a lot of scuttle on the net about recent Imperial confrontations with some terrorist organization.”
He heard the well-practiced sequence of activations from the Communications station on the right side of the cockpit.Billee called out a few moments later, “Space is clear except for a few commercial transponder codes.”
Tholme pursed his lips, and frowned.“I know this is a small system, but surely there should be more traffic than this.Owara has at least a class three population density, right?”
3-D4, the ship’s administrative droid and occasional shields/weapon station operator, replied in a brisk affirmative, “3.4, to be exact.Although it seems that, according to the holonet reports, the numbers may soon be subject to change.”
“How’s that?” Tholme turned sharply.
Three Dee-Four was programmed to scroll the holonews pertaining to whatever world they were doing business with or were about to do business with. His conglomeration of supplementary information was run through a custom filter index that usually provided the crew with instant socio-synthetic updates on a variety of current events.The result was seemingly-unconnected events began to align into suspiciously-related ways.Tholme had Billee to thank for the genius bit of programming.
“It seems that one of the local vigilante figure, one Lord Pavana, has recently undertaken a personal vendetta against the Imperial garrison, here.He’s been quite brazen about his actions.Unwise, if you ask me.Sooner or later, replenishments will be sent and there will doubtless be more loss of life.”
Tholme breathed slowly as he gazed out the viewport at the deceptively calm planetary body.Why do I have a feeling that He’s in the middle of this?“Keep the Hyperwave Interceptor on passive.I don’t want any surprises.”
It may not be any cause for concern, but odds were things wouldn’t be going this smooth for long.“Maintain course, Lieutenant,” Tholme asked Billee as he quickly paced the Barloz’s corridors back to his office.He powered on the holo image-caste and entered an old but familiar frequency.After a moment, a face appeared in the blue projection field.Chiseled, clear complexion, and seemingly not a day older, the human visage’s thick eyebrows lifted in mock-surprise over his usually narrow eyes, “Sergeant?”
“I knew it.You son of a Sith,” Tholme growled.
“What?” the man smirked, in feigned innocence.
Tholme shook his head defeat, “This is your kriffing consumables order, isn’t it?How could I have been so stupid…”
“You must be losing your touch, old man, “His former squadmate grinned coldly, “But, it’s too late to turn back, now.Those food containers won’t fetch half the value after waiting longer for another buyer, and if you’re still the same old Johnny-Honest I think you’ll want to break even rather than take a loss over a couple bad memories.You ready for the coordinates?”
Tholme slumped back into his chair and cursed.Private Diomoi was right.Tholme had put too much investment into this last delivery.All that capital would go down the fresher.It would set his company back into the red for the rest of the year.
He’d have to hope that whatever mercenary business his old friend was currently involved in wouldn’t be serious enough to bring any notoriety to himself or Ex-Tem Transporting.
“Send them over, Diomoi.” Tholme grudgingly agreed.
“That’s the ticket.And make sure that you bring some of that fine liquor you keep stashed away for our commanding officer.”
Fi awoke suddenly, startled by some dream-ghost that disappeared before she could remember what it was. Struggling to recognize her surroundings, she recalled that she was on a ship. Her ship. The Dawncaller.
Fi swung her legs out of the bed, the steel floor cold beneath her bare feet. Grabbing at a short bathrobe left behind by one of The Luminous Three, she wrapped it around herself and strode out into the lounge area. It was dim here, the ship's lights running in power-save mode. Fi crossed the lounge to the galley console and activated the water unit, selecting a near-scalding temperature. As the water warmed, she grabbed a handful of Inex Jonn's preferred leaves, scrunched them into a cup, and in short order had herself a nice cup of rich, aromatic Sakiyan tea. She took the steaming mug to the lounge table, where she sat for a time but, becoming unnerved by the empty seats around her, rose again and made for the vessel's cockpit.
With hyperspace sparkling outside the cockpit glass, Fi sat in the pilot's chair, her chair, and looked out at the dazzling expanse.
Eighteen hours to Mull station, she thought, my new home. While it was true that she could try to get her recording career going again, that would only attract Imperial attention. No, she thought, I'm gonna have to do this the hard way. She thought of Tam, and Damon, and Reil, but knew that again, like it or not, she was completely on her own.
There's got to be a few interesting people on Mull Station, she supposed. Guess I'll find out, soon enough.
Draining the last of her tea, Fi made for her quarters, and for bed, hoping it would provide at least a few more hours' peaceful rest.
"Lord Pavana, in his mercy, has extended an offer to the criminals who attempted to wreak havoc in our fair city earlier today. If they choose to surrender themselves into the custody of the Nova Guard, Lord Pavana has promised that their executions will be swift and painless."
The speaker paused for a moment before continuing. "However, if these criminals choose to continue evading their just punishment, Lord Pavana assures them that when they are caught their deaths will serve as a public example to all."
The holorecording fizzled out, leaving the little group in silence. Errolt was the first to break it. "I'm sorry. Perhaps if we hadn't contacted you--"
Damon shook his head. "He'd still be after us. I'm not sure why, but I think we've attracted his attention somehow." He lapsed into silence for a second. "Can I talk to my crew in private for a moment?"
"Certainly, captain," Errolt replied. He and the other Imperials left the area.
Damon faced the others. "So. We just had a crime lord declare war on us." He bowed his head. "And it's my fault. The rest of you chose to follow me while I searched for my brother, and I led you straight into danger." He glanced at Reil. "If I'd followed the advice of wiser heads than mine, we wouldn't even have landed here. But I didn't, and now we're dealing with the fallout from my choices. I'm sorry."
"What are we going to do?" Mir asked. From the way that she said it, he knew that she was asking about the two of them. Wherever he went she would follow, regardless of what others did. It was...comforting.
He sighed. "I'm tired. Tired of dealing with every crackpot ghost or Sith-wannabe or glowing alien that crosses our path. Each time they come after us, we run. And a lot of times, people get left behind. Or die." Damon shook his head. "I'm tired of running. So I'm going to fight back. Maybe the success rate will be better."
"Captain," Elayne said. "That might not be wise--"
"As Mir and Tam will tell you, I'm not the kind of guy who does wise things on a regular basis." Damon grinned faintly. "I'm not going to tell the rest of you what to do, and if you choose to sit this one out I won't judge you. But me?" Damon's eyes glittered. "If Pavana's not scared of me now, he will be. I'll make sure of that."
The smoke began to clear, leaving Morec bathed in a dim red light coming from the emergency lights placed around the ship. He gazed up at the ceiling for a few moments before he sat up, his vision swimming as he did so. He took a moment to calm himself, and stood up gingerly. As he ran down his body, he found few injuries, most of them being minor cuts and bruises. The corridor around him was bathed in the same red light, the spots between lights enveloped in darkness. He made his way to the cockpit, which he found in disarray. Mara and Jyn were sitting there, typing at the console trying to get systems running again.
"So," Morec said, breaking the silence, "can anyone tell me what just happened?"
Neither of the two made a move, they both just kept working at the console. After a moment, Mara turned around. "Short version? We were hit by a missile. Long version? We were almost hit by a missile, but instead of a direct hit it detonated just south of our hull."
"What kind of damage are we looking at?" Morec asked.
"A good bit. Our port stabilizer's shot to hell, same with the port turbolaser turrets. Other than that, it's mostly cosmetic, but there're some pockets that got opened up to atmosphere. Long story short, we're not going anywhere for a while."
"What about the rest of the crew?"
"Fine. You were the worst hurt, but you were still breathing, so we took a chance."
Morec rolled his eyes at this, "Thanks, I guess I should be honored." As he turned away, he caught something on the peripheral of his senses...there were people outside the ship, coming their way. He paused for a moment, trying to gauge their intentions. He realized quickly after that they were not coming to help them. He turned back quickly and asked, "Where did we land?"
"In a valley," Mara returned. "Why?"
"Did we check the area?"
"No, we didn't have time...why?"
Morec paused for a beat, then said, "I've got a feeling we might have some company coming to join us."
At this Mara's head snapped around, while Jyn turned slowly to eye him. "I'm guessing we might want to check out the area then?" He asked, his eyebrows raised.
Morec met his eyes and said, "We might want to think about it."
Jyn held his gaze for another moment, then said, "Mara, you and Morec head out and check the area, see if there's anyone trying to crash our party. Don't do anything stupid though, I don't need you two getting killed out there."
Mara jumped up out of her seat, and the two of them ran down to the supply room. Morec grabbed his pack while Mara grabbed two rifles, both fully loaded and charged. "You ready to go?" she asked. Morec just nodded and hit the door release, sending the two of them out into the valley.
Damon’s words had been forthright and inspiring. He owned up to his mistakes, pointing them out for what they were, but he also made it clear that he was going to correct those mistakes as far as he was able to. This is a good captain, Tam thought, and resolved himself to follow the man into this problem to bring about its solution. Everyone else, from his impressions of them in the Force, seemed in agreement...
...Except Elayne. She worked hard to stifle her glower, relying on calming techniques no doubt gleaned from Damon’s datapads. However, while it was still clear that she had reservations about the gunslinger’s decision, Tam had no idea what precisely they were. Fortunately, the ex-Imperial remedied his ignorance. “We must keep in mind that, either directly or through association, the Empire is attempting to track us down. If it’s still unclear to anyone, Owara is a planet with a thriving media, honed by the antics of this ‘Lord’ Pavana. In stepping into this criminal’s arena we may inadvertently draw the Imperial spotlight onto ourselves.”
“Yeah,” said Zealos Reil, “as heroes.” He parodied Elayne’s borderline condescension when he continued. “If it’s still unclear to anyone, we’ve teamed up with the Empire. That chaps my choobies as much as anyone here, but whatever publicity we get will be good publicity. The Empire isn’t going to let it get out to the public that the planet was rescued from criminals by criminals.”
Tam regarded the pilot. He was impressed that such a cogent point could come out of such a lum-ravaged mind.
“The general population will be told of the heroic exploits of deeply entrenched Imperial forces and their ability to rally a band of ‘merchants’ to their cause against the crime lord,” agreed Elayne. “But the Empire, the echelons of power, ISB and perhaps even the Inquisitorius, will know exactly who helped liberate Owara.”
The word ‘Inquisitorius’ echoed in Tam’s mind. Images rose to the surface of his mind like steam-filled bubbles in a black cauldron. A fleet of Imperial warships bearing down on him and his friends. The mysterious Ice-man. Another man, more fearsome in power and visage, gazing at him with a garish red cybernetic eye. Kenlan As-Buka, the man he had once considered a Jedi Master and his truest guardian, commanding an Imperial vessel in the manhunt. With a silent inward shout Tam thrust the images from his mind, attracting the attention of both Damon and Elayne.
“Did you have something to say, Tam?” asked Damon.
Tam looked around, his face gaining color. “I... I was just, um... You’re ‘Captain Ziro Caldera.’” He said the name as if it was a mark of distinction, not a confession of protective alias. “If you say we should help in the fight against Pavana, then that’s what we’ll do, but we can’t forget why we came here: Tor.”
Recollection washed through the group, and Elayne once again gave voice to her thoughts. “Perhaps our involvement in this operation should have a more specific and less grandiose nature. Perhaps our focus should be on finding and freeing this Renu Tor, and any aid we give the Imperials be to meet that particular end...”
“Give it some more speed, Vee-Six.There’s no use trying to appear honest when we’re delivering cargo to a military outfit,”Tholme sat at the co-pilot station, giving V6 full flight control.His eyes were glued to the sensors display, brought over to one of the panels via a repulsor-arm.
V6 chattered an interrogative as he accelerated the Barloz’s steep descent into the atmosphere.“Diomoi’s an old friend of mine.He never much cared for civilian life, and he mentioned a commanding officer.He must be working for this ‘Lord Pavana’ or the Imperials.Either way, we’re going to have fire on our tails if we’re not careful.”
V6 whistled an encouragement. Tholme grinned, “Thanks for the vote of confidence.Now, focus on your trajectory – you’re arcing too wide.”The droid rotated his optical to face directly out of the cockpit once more, and he could feel the ship make a slight adjustment to course.
From the cockpit view pane, Owara completely filled his sight.The gently rolling planet was nothing new, nothing special.Tholme didn’t even want to be here.If it wasn’t for the possibility of putting his mind at ease, he’d have more readily resigned himself to a year’s debt than to risk his anonymity by involving himself with Diomoi’s petty brawls.That soldier was always looking to kill something even when they were off active duty.It was just plain unprofessional.
The ship communications monitor sparkled to life with an incoming call.“Patch it through, Billee.”
The First Mate obeyed, and a voice broke out loud and impatient, “Welcome to Owara!A starport nearest your location has landing coordinates for you.Please, slow your ascent and identify yourself.”
Billee looked at Tholme and waited.The Captain kept his eyes on the sensors, glancing now and then into the planet’s atmosphere beyond the cockpit.“Sir?” Billie inquired.
“Say nothing.We’re not going anywhere near a sanctioned landing site, and I don’t’ know what they’ll do if I decline their offer.Perhaps they’ll just leave us alone.”
A few moments later the voice returned with an edge, “Unidentified vessel, you are using a transponder masker.That is restricted equipment, here. Escort craft is en route to intercept you and guide you to the nearest landing site.Do not divert course or attempt hostile action.”
“Sithspit,” Tholme grimaced.He whipped around to Billee, “They must have some hot machines, themselves, if they can see our cloak.We’ll go dark - hit the short-range jammers.Double the magnitude by power sharing with the fusion reactor.”
The First Mate started the sequence, and Tholme snapped the ship com up, “Zed, get to the quad turret and engage all approaching craft.Three-Dee-Four, I need you up here at station,” He leaned aside to V6, “Punch it.”
If any on-looker from the surface of the planet, with any experience at all in the world of freighter capabilities happened to be watching as the Rogue Circuit broke the atmosphere of Owara, they would have seen a ship that should have been unbearably slow, ungraceful and falling apart at the seams.They wouldn’t have expected the ship to buck and blaze across the sky, unleashing a torrent of laser bolts at a waiting planetary defense squadron.
It swooped low, dipping along the ground-line and hopping up between low valleys.The squadron broke and attempted what should have been a simple pincer attack, but in the time that they curled back to a parallel pattern the freighter had passed them and was gaining distance at a rate nearly unbelievable.In short order, it swerved around a few rocky shelves and left all of them lost, confused, and humiliated in its wake.
"I agree," Damon said. "To an extent, anyway. Finding Tor is one of our priorities, but let's not forget that Pavana has our ship -- and a system in place to keep us from leaving even if we take it back. Even if we accomplish everything we originally came here for, we'll still have to shut Pavana down one way or another."
He glanced at Elayne. "As for our issues with the media, we'll just have to stay out of the spotlight as best we can. I doubt I'll be able to completely avoid attention, but you," he pointed to Tam, "and Elayne especially need to keep your heads low." Tam nodded seriously.
"So what's our plan, then?" Reil asked. "I mean, sure, we're going to rescue Tor and maybe bring down Pavana along the way, but how?"
"Let's find out from Errolt exactly what the situation is, and we'll go from there."
Errolt seemed much more cheerful when he heard they'd decided to help. Teece was positively ecstatic. "Thank you so much!"
"Her father is one of the miners Pavana is currently...employing," Errolt explained. "Your help means a lot to us all."
"Pavana's picked the wrong fight this time," Damon said cheerily. "Where can you use us?"
"Well," Errolt regarded the crew. "I suppose I'd better learn what you can do first."
"Of course," Damon replied. He gestured to Mir. "This is Tassira, my first mate. She's a very good pilot and former mercenary." Tam was next. "This is Mace, my nephew and apprentice. Not much combat experience, but a quick learner." He indicated Reil. "Peyt, our gunner. He's ex-militia, and an excellent pilot." Next were Elayne, "Casca, our other gunner and an accomplished martial artist," Cali, "Zana, one of our new hires. No combat experience to speak of," and Proto, "Proto, a gift from one of our business associates. You've already seen him in action."
"Indeed," said Errolt. He eyed Damon. "Your crew seems remarkably talented."
"I find that's useful, what with pirates and scum like Pavana running all over the universe. Never know when you'll need a good crew at your back."
"True enough," Errolt replied. "Now, if you'll follow me, we'll meet with my men and see what we can do to make Pavana's life difficult."
The Rogue Circuit cropped just above the tree line as it neared the designated landing site.The coordinates that Diomoi gave set them down in a forest clearing just large enough for the freighter but with trees high enough to obstruct all visibility except for a direct overpass.The sensors were silent as the landing gear extended – no nearby ships or vehicles.The ship rocked gently as it settled onto the soft ground.A long hiss from the stress compensation exhaust signaled a complete landing.
V6 warbled as Tholme rose from the co-pilot seat.“You did fine, Vee-Six.Keep working on those evasion patterns, though.If not for our re-configurable power-draw, we wouldn’t have had the advantage of greater speed.”The droid wheeled his head around to stare out the cockpit, grumbled to himself, and boisterously began his post-flight check.
“Everybody, assemble.We need a plan of action,” Tholme ordered into his com as he walked.He quickly changed into some non-descript black fatigues.Opening his closet, he stared at a thick arrangement of armor.He hadn’t worn it in years – too many to number.He ran his fingers along the magseals, and the multi-colored plates.“Camo.Green,” He said softly.The armor quickly morphed color into an array of forest-specific camouflage.“Arctic.White.” It changed to a high-gloss white shade.The Captain shook his head sadly and stood back to survey the armor as he closed the doors, “We’re not ready for that, yet.”Somehow, the self-assurance didn’t quite comfort him.However, he did grab a hold-out blaster and stuff it in the back of his waistband.
He returned to find the ship’s crew waiting him in the cargo bay.V6 and Billee were speaking to each other in low whistles, doubtless more droid-to-droid training.Billee was the pilot droid’s unofficial mentor.Zed, the 501-security droid, stood with his arms folded glaring at the three pit droids.They were having a three-way wrestling match, and every once in a while a foot or a leg would come too close to Zed and he’d disdainfully swat the poor unfortunate’s chasis half-way across the bay.This elicited a jumble of threats and insults from the remaining pit crew until the wobbly third re-joined the action, and the process would begin anew.
3-D4 sat next to the two medical droids and studied their game of dejyarik.The 2-1B was the ship’s undebated champion, but the GH-7 was being adventurous.She was trying the classic Rancor opening, used by Camesi in the Galactic Games of the Old Republic, but her opponent was completely in control.3-D4 whispered his advice to the medical assistant droid.She rolled her receptors and repulsored subtly further from him.
Tholme walked into the midst of them and Billee announced him, “Captain on deck!”The droid crew immediately ceased their activities and stood at attention.“Thank you, Billee,” Tholme inclined his head as the First Mate saluted, “We are meeting with an armed group, and I don’t know which type.They may be Imperial, or they may be criminal.Doesn’t matter, though, because we’re just going to drop off this food shipment and take back to the skies as quickly as we came down,” Tholme paced around his crew as he spoke.
“Do not take orders from anyone but me.Is that understood?” The droids responded in synchronized affirmation.Tholme nodded in approval and continued, “Billee I’d like you to see to the cargo dispatch.Keep a close eye on those creations of yours – we can’t afford any incidents like the one on Sullust.I will need to speak privately with Diomoi, so you will also be the delivery contact, as usual.”
“Zed, you’re to keep near the cargo lift.I want your blasters live and ready.I know you’ve spent a lot of time in the combat simulator, but this is the real thing and you’ll be dealing with real humans.No action without my orders.”
“Vee-Six, remain at the helm.Keep the Circuit powered down, but I want all but the most critical systems in stand-by mode, and keep a com line to me open at all times.”
“Medical – return to regular duties unless otherwise ordered by me.”
“Three-Dee-Four, you’re with me,” Tholme looked the assistant droid up and down.The droid’s chasis was polished to a gleam, and the droid appeared to stand straighter as the Captain ordered him to his side.With everything being said, Tholme hit the ramp depressor and was showered with hydrolic steam as he walked down the ramp.
At the bottom, Diomoi stood.He was wearing sharp plainclothes, although they were padded thickly across the chest – assuredly extra protection.Leaning lazily on one hip and smiling smugly, he motioned at the few hands behind him. The men, all dressed of the same fashion, moved hoversleds quickly towards the middle-undercarriage of the freighter, where the cargo lift was descending.Tholme noticed that they had strangely anxious expressions.They kept scanning the surrounding area, looking for something.Or on the lookout, Tholme thought.
“There he is!” Diomoi laughed as Tholme tossed a small bottle to him. The soldier scanned the label and his eyes went wide, “Durosian synth-blend!Not bad, old man.You must have been saving this up for a while.”
“Let’s just get this over with,” Tholme muttered.
Diomoi slipped the liquor into a pocket and looked Tholme over.“You look horrible, Sarge.”
Tholme started to reply, but Diomoi interrupted with a playful yet cold tone, “Easy now, easy.We’ll need to speak with the Captain Errolt.He’s a very….meticulous leader,” He added, making a more obvious show of assessing Tholme’s clothes.
Captain So balled his hands into fists and made an effort to calm his anger.After the sleds were loaded with all the cargo, and his crew was safely on board the Rogue Circuit, he and 3-D4 followed Diomoi and his men through the brush, hoping that it wouldn’t be too long of a hike.