Derek Atio sat silently at the bar of
the Unlucky Star, a dive bar in the slums of Cormond on the planet
Brentaal IV. The Rebel commander was dressed in the grease splattered
trousers of a tramp pilot and a Bantha hide flight jacket that looked to
be about a size too small and gave the term 'off the rack' a very
flattering meaning. The middle-aged Tetan male kept his eyes scanned on
Minersha's table, not wanting to be seen with her until after she had a
chance to make the meeting with the contact she had recommended to him.
He was fortunate that she had survived the recent encounter on Ralltiir,
but she had shown him something in terms of abilities and he had become
quite impressed with the smuggler's skills. As he sampled one of the
locally brewed ales his eyes shifted to his chronometer ... it was about
that time. He flashed a reassuring smile towards the smuggler and
affirmed with one last nod, before tilting his head towards the more
significant importance of his ale.
Jane Minersha yawned as she tilted her
seat back. She was hardly paying any attention as she was playing
virtual Sabacc with Sprocket who was still onboard the Heretic's
Avenger using her Datapad linked to him over the holonet. Since it
was not actual gambling, and there were no names, and it was simply for
fun, she did not need to worry about anyone intercepting the
transmission ... it was Sabacc. Looking around, she caught eyes with
Derek and gave him a wink and a kissy face, knowing it would make the
Tetan either irritated or flushed. Oh how she loved to tease the old
guy! It was becoming one of her favorite things to do around him.
Turning her attention back to the datapad, she frowned. "Stupid
Sprocket..." she mumbled, seeing his winning hand laid out. She would
get him next game!
Derek's cheeks obviously flushed red at
Minersha's display, but he quickly hunched into himself as he began
nursing his ale. If the mercenary was on time she might already be in
the bar and he did not want his presence to go noticed ... yet. He let
out a frustrated sigh as the air released from his lungs blew over the
foam atop the ale and cleared it so he could see just how dirty the mug
was. He grimaced slightly before taking another sip. He knew that
getting thrown out of the bar for complaining about the filth would
achieve the exact opposite of the subterfuge he was attempting.
"As much as I like making entrances..."
She spoke in a soft tone as she pushed opened the entryway into the bar,
apparently speaking to herself. "..this sector leaves something to be
desired in an audience." The mercenary smiled as she entered, casually
taking in the faces that turned towards her once she breached the
portal, ignoring all of them until she located Minersha. Valeria wore,
as usual, a skintight Karflo Corporation Thinsuit sans the helmet, and
over that a Corellian leather jacket that stopped before the waist. She
was obviously armed, with twin blasters strapped one to each thigh.
Still, her demeanor was easy going and nonthreatening. She merely began
making her way over to the table of the one playing on her datapad.
"Sprocket, if you beat me again, I swear
I'll swap your memory core with the DV4!" Jane growled, and the game on
the pad shut down. Looking around, she spotted the gorgeous woman who
just walked into the bar. She sized her up quite quickly, looking from
toe tip to eyes. Hers went wide as she recognized her. It was Valeria!
And she did not look like she had aged a day! Even though it had been
some time since she last saw the woman. slipping that tablet sized
datapad back into the big pocket on the back of her vest after flipping
the protective cover over the screen, she got up out of her chair and,
just like a little girl seeing her best friend again, she trotted up and
gave her a great big hug! "Val!" she said happily, rocking back and
forth a little. It had been a while since she'd seen her, at least a
year or so.
"Someone's excited." Valeria smiled and
hugged her back, her embrace lasting a few seconds before she set her
down. For a short girl she was strong. "We need to start charging for
tickets if we're going to keep this up." She tossed her hair back with
one hand, placing the other hand on her hip as she took stock of how
many people had taken notice of their exchange. "So I take it there's
someone you wanted me to meet?"
Derek could not help but roll his eyes
at the two women from his position at the bar. It was very likely that
every male patron of the establishment had now taken an interest in the
duo to his great dismay. So much for subtlety, he thought silently to
himself as he quickly finished his drink. He seemed to need it now more
Jane giggled like a little girl for a
minute before she was set back down, and then grinned like a maniac. It
was fairly likely that the two of them even being in the bar together
would draw attention. Two exotic women like them had a tendency to draw
eyes towards them like a gravity well. Soon enough the eyes would go
away and they would be diverted back to whatever drinks, conversations,
or nervous stares they were originally at, and they could go about their
business. "Yup!" she said as she walked back to the table she had been
sitting at. "He works for a local orphanage and he has me bring in
necessities to help the children, usually at cost since they don't have
a lot of money," her words were low in volume, like the rest of the
murmur in the bar so that they would blend into the background noise of
The merc's eyes widened in disbelief as
she went on discussing this person she wanted her to meet. Valeria would
unceremoniously plop herself down on the chair as she placed her feet up
on the table. "Tell me you're kidding about the orphanage part. This guy
sounds like the main character in some sappy holovid." She linked her
hands behind her head as she made herself comfortable. "I've heard these
rebels are righteous, but that sounds like a bit much."
"Its good money. I can get the supplies
cheap from the manufacturers ... or other people who happen to trade
that sort of stuff. I make a pretty hefty profit. Everyone's happy!"
Jane said with a wink, than a yawn as she leaned back in her chair and
stretched again. "And I don't do sappy holovids. Sprocket broke the
holonet projector in my ship. I can't even pick up any Gal-net news
channels." she said with a huff. Obviously she was lying about that
orphanage story. Granted, she always had a soft spot for orphanages,
since she would not be where she was today if she wasn't given up for
adoption at one.
"So where do I come in? You have more
business than your ship can handle?" Valeria lowered her chair back down
to the floor and then curled up her feet where she sat. The rather
short, 1.57 meter tall female was quite flexible, evidently, like some
kind of top heavy gymnast. "I'm available. The party scene in the
Galactic Core is getting kinda stale. All of these Imperial crackdowns
are making it a lot harder to have fun. Heard this sector is a lot more
up for grabs. They can't try stuff like that here without risking a
Jane giggled and looked around. "I do
have a bit more business than I can handle. If you still have that
pretty gunship, you have more cargo space than I do on my little
hauler." she made a kissy face and blew a kiss at Valeria, winking at
her just like she had winked at Derek. If he kept his ears open he would
hear the noise over the din and recognize it as the signal for him to
come over. "And I'm not quite sure about the party scene. Keeping
everything running on my ship is almost a full time job in itself!"
Derek had wished he had let Minersha
pick a less embarrassing signal than her 'kiss', but he nevertheless
picked up on the sound and rose from the bar. He shot a nod at the
bartender as he tossed him a credit chip and then moved his way towards
the duo of female pilots that were liable to have the attention of every
man at the bar. Saying nothing he sat down next to Minersha, and turned
the attention of his brown eyes immediately to the slightly pink exotic
woman who was seated opposite of them. "Jane says you have a ship and
might be looking for some work..." he began vaguely, as his his
attention shifted to the half-Chiss seated next to him. It felt like
they had only just met and now he was trusting personnel assignments to
her. Vary dangerous ... but he was running out of options.
"Always up for some work, especially of
the fun variety. Running things, blasting things, whatever." Valeria
smiled and winked to Minersha, before looking back at him. "And if you
hire me to blow something up I can promise you something will end up
atomized." Carefully she rolled her shoulders and made herself
comfortable, never indicating that she was joking. "I'm your girl."
Jane grinned at the wink and smile, and
grinned all the wider when she talked about the blowing things up bit.
"Her ship puts most cruisers to shame. I wish I had the gumption ... and
the ability ... to fit her weapons in my port!" she tried to contain a
laugh, but was only partially successful as she snickered, a hand over
her mouth, eyes closing as her shoulders bobbed in silent laughter.
The serving droid brought him another
round of the local microbrew, which he desperately needed to calm his
nerves around the two energetic young women. He cleared his throat upon
taking a drink of the ale that wavered far too warm for his liking.
"Jane here is a good pilot ... but the Ralltiir system is a tough nut to
crack these days..." he explained quietly, as he focused his attention
on Valeria. "We need to get a particularly ... volatile ... shipment to
Ralltiir as soon as possible..." he said, as his eyes turned to look at
Minersha once again. She had better be right, he thought to himself
while taking another sip of the ale. "We can pay you. Half now. Half
upon receipt," he said, with a slight nod of his head as he leaned
forward to wait for a reply.
"Do I get to know the lucky pieces of
hardware that'll be flying with me before agreeing to this little
sojourn?" She placed one of the fingers of her gloved left hand in her
mouth and used her large, pretty teeth to start tugging it off. This
kept one hand free to potentially grab one of those scoped blasters she
had holsters to her thighs, though at the moment Valeria did not look
like she had a care in the world. Once she had the glove off she would
run her fingers through her silky hair, before looking back to him
expectantly. "I should mention now that I can't take rancors of any
size. I'm sorry, but I just can't. It's not humane. They need room to
Derek paused a moment and wondered if he
should mention that she would be taking military grade explosives into
restricted space. After a moment he decided that he should not. "Let's
just say you don't want to go exposing it to any dramatic increases in
heat..." he began, pausing to take another sip of his ale. "Further ...
at the first sign of an Imperial inspection you'd be well advised to
dump your cargo into space and run to the Outer Rim for a stint..." he
was quick to add, as he placed the mug back down and waited to see how
she would take such an answer.
"So don't go stick it in the engineering
room of that beautiful gunship of yours." Jane said. Oh, how she fell in
love with that ship while it was being repaired. The guns alone could
destroy a small fleet, but the brief infatuation did not last, and she
fell in love with her fathers far more agile and smaller YT-2000. It was
not a ship to be reckoned with, but for pure firepower, that gunship was
second to none in its weight class.
"Whoa. Seriously? What do you need me
for, then?" Valeria seemed genuinely surprised, her large silver-blue
eyes wide with incredulity as she heard him. "That's a milk run. You
could get any kind of bulk transport to do that. Now, me? With the
purchase of my services you get a warning shot to the unlucky Imperial
and some proton torpedoes up their exhaust pipe. Unless you would rather
the Imps get a hold of your valuable cargo? I try to be accommodating,
after all, but I'd rather you get what you're paying for."
"Oh. The cargo isn't the least bit
valuable to them..." Derek explained, being cryptic at first as he
decided how much he should share with the woman. She was sticking her
neck out taking the shipment and he knew if he were in her position he
would feel very uncomfortable with such a job. "...we stole it from
them," he said with a slight laugh as a smile curled upon his
middle-aged Tetan face. "My concern is more for your safety than the
'value' of what you're carrying. We've lost ... far too many pilots in
this sector," he reluctantly explained, as he remembered some of their
faces and looked down uncomfortably into the dirty bubbles of his ale.
"I'll protect her!" Jane said with a
grin as she thought of the two ships flying side-by-side. She doubted
that 'anyone' would mess with them, much less any Imperials ... if they
knew what was good for them anyway! "I can fly along if you'd like,"
looking to both of them. It was sort of a
question to both.
Valeria shrugged, but smiled as she
looked over to Minersha. "A single sensor profile might draw less
attention. Up to him.' She turned back to Derek in order to address his
question, even as she started to remove the other glove. "And here I
thought you guys were all religious. What about 'There
is not death, only'..." She trailed off, knowing her meaning was made
clear. "But if it makes you feel better, I can try and stay off their
and put everything into speed. If I get caught I prefer to shoot my way
out, but...as I said...I know how to be accommodating."
Derek looked towards Minersha somewhat
apprehensively as he considered his next words carefully. "Do you think
you'd feel comfortable leaving your ship and riding shotgun with Valeria
here to ensure the safety of our cargo?" he asked her, swallowing after
asking the question. He knew how attached she was to the ship, but he
also knew the explosives had to get there if their operation on Ralltiir
was going to be successful.
"Shotgun?" Jane had not quite considered
riding shotgun... "Oh no no, escort her in my ship alongside hers." she
nodded, sure she got that across correctly this time.
"I think he meant, 'Would you feel
comfortable being my copilot, in my ship, for this run'?" Valeria
shrugged, showing that that idea was acceptable to her. "I have a crew
station you could use. And there's enough weapon systems where you'd be
able to have almost as much fun as me."
"Ooh ... co-pilot?" Kane thought about
it. "I don't quite like leaving my ship alone like that..." she frowned
and rubbed her chin with one of her slender blue fingers. Through her
implants, she could stay in contact with sprocket through very long
range ... plus being on the same ship as Valeria promised to be some fun
... if she could manage to work it out to be that way! Alright, but I'd
need to bring my juice, my pillow, my toolkit, and one of the triplets!
If... you dont mind that is!" she winked at Val. She would bring a
change or two of clothing and her essentials, but not a lot of stuff
Valeria arched a red brow at the
eclectic list, but nodded. "There's a pretty nice food processor, but
you can bring your juice if you want." She looked over to the Rebel
commander and tapped a bit on her wrist mounted communicator, sending
him the means to contact her, as well as how he could make the initial
payment. "You tell me if the rules of engagement changes. As for the
follow-up payment, I know your group is strapped for creds...I'd take
man hours of some of your techs instead. Want to see if they can solve a
theoretical problem of mine. I'd send the specs, they'd see if they can
find a workaround. You decide how many hours is fair compensation. Sound
Derek leaned back in his seat as he was
surprisingly pleased to see that Minersha was going to assist him on
this difficult shipment. With Imperial patrols in Ralltiir being alerted
to the Heretic's Avenger, he would desperately need to find
alternative transport means from here on out. A smile formed upon his
middle-aged visage as he looked towards Valeria quite pleased with her
payment suggestion. "I have just the man in mind for that..." he said
looked over the contact data she had provided her. "The delivery
needs to be made in fifty-two hours outside the city of Salibury..." he
explained, verifying the time on his own chronometer as he began to
brief her on the mission.
"I can leave at any time. My ship should
be fueled, and the hold is empty and ready for loading." Valeria reached
into her Corellian leather jacket and removed her deck of Sabacc cards,
beginning to shuffle them out of apparent boredom. No remote play for
her, evidently. "I really think you ought to reconsider letting me fight
my way through their blockade, but we can do stealth if you want."
Derek's eyes narrowed slightly as he
looked at her cautiously. "This will not be a one time shipment," he
explained to her quietly, as his eyes once again scanned over the
establishment just to make sure no one was listening. "Even if you blast
through the entire starfighter compliment of the Star Destroyer and her
escorts ... they'll track you to the surface and be waiting..." he
concluded, after some deliberate thought. "No, no. It must be done
stealthily. We can neither compromise your ship's identity, nor the
cargo, not the men on the ground you'll be delivering it to..." he
explained with a firm nod this time, as he finally finished that glass
of ale that he had been working on since the start of their
"I guess we 'can' shoot our way out if
it really comes to that. Nobody likes Interdictor pickets and tractor
beams anyway," Jane said with a smile. "Sprocket. Prep my overnight bag
please and have DV ready a gallon of juice and my toolkit. I'm going to
stay with a friend for a few days." she said to apparently no one in
particular. She paused a moment and giggled. "Yes, the pillow too. No,
not the red, the black. And I'm bringing T3." Another brief pause. "T3
is not my favorite. No, he can ride on my back, he doesn't have to get
in a bag. OK ... I'll be there soon," she stopped talking to sprocket.
In her ship, her instructions were carried out. "Lets swing by my ship
to pick up my stuff, and we can be on our way!" she said smiling. this
was gonna be fun! Well ... hopefully anyway...
"And you can...solve your
arguments...with your droids." Valeria had an odd look on her face as
she nodded to Derek, a look that indicated she was getting a taste of
what others might have seen in her. Still, she did not think she had
ever gotten in an argument with one of her own droids. Publically,
anyways. She bounced out of her seat, quickly putting her cards away and
donning her gloves once more. "It must be nice for you, having a job
that lets you meet such interesting people."
"Oh yes," Derek said as he slid from his
seat and placed a suitable credit chip down on the table for the droid.
"Lots of interesting people..." he said sarcastically with a roll of his
eyes as he escorted both of the beautiful women from the dive bar. The
slightly overweight middle-aged man definitely looked out of place with
the two women and it was not long before there were many displeased
groaned and stares at the trio. "There's some interesting people right
there..." he muttered beneath his breath as they exited the Unlucky Star
and moved to the streets of Cormond.