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Josh Barton, Andrew J. Fowler, and Christopher Levy.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:5:6) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV and Gilded Thranta.
Corporal Jason Athol, Commander Derek Atio, and Jane Minersha.

Commander Atio had arrived back on Brentaal IV with the smuggler Jane Minersha, now in possession of a valuable Sector Ranger transponder that had taken considerable effort on their part to acquire. The older, overweight male was at the controls of the Gilded Thranta, a modified Sigma-class shuttle, that up until this point had been masquerading as a consular ship for Alderaan's diplomatic corps. He glided the shuttle down over the mountains in the remote wastelands of Brentaal where he had arranged to meet Corporal Athol. His attention was still focused on the young Chiss/Arkanaian hybrid in the co-pilot's seat, believing that at some point the use of an independent contractor might become a liability. "Hang on," he warned her, as the landing struts began to descend and the vessel violently shook as it touched down on the rocky surface of the planet. He was still nursing a blaster wound on his left arm from the fight with the rangers on Ord Mantell, and wished that Minersha had listened more carefully to his plan in the docking bay. Smugglers never listened, he thought to himself, as he unclipped his harness and rose from his seat.

Jane Minersha 'did' Listen to the plan! She just had not anticipated 'everything'. After all, she was a smuggler, not a military person! She had still managed to not kill anyone, only stun and rob them blind. That was the reason that Derek got shot... she just wished he had stop being such a crybaby about it. Of course, she did not enjoy at all being in this rickety heap. She had spent almost the entire trip with a toolkit and the patience of a saint as she performed the best maintenance on the badly abused shuttle as she could under current circumstances. "And you say you care about this ship... she's a lady, treat her with respect and proper maintenance!" she scolded him more than once. She had managed in the short trip to boost the efficiency of the air recyclers so the air was not so stale, fix the rattling behind several internal computer panels, and she capped off several the loose, unattached wires so they did not short some critical system out. When he told her to hang on, she did the opposite and got out of the seat. Quite the acrobat and flexible, when the ship violently shook, she was thrown against the bulkhead, but managed to come out of it with no harm done to the ship or herself... she did not trust the seats whose harnesses looked almost too far gone to trust.

Derek dropped to one knee and took a careful look at the transponder they had ripped from the guts of the now destroyed Sector Ranger ship on Ord Mantell. He hated that they had to kill the two officers, but there was really no way around it. "I treat this ship better than any lady I've ever been with," he said in reply, as he flashed an awkward look up to her. "If this works ... you'll get your credits..." he said to her, with a firm nod of his head, as he walked down to the shuttle's ramp. A moment later he activated the controls and it slowly began to descend to the planet's surface. As much as he had come to respect Minersha's technical abilities, he decided he would have Athol install the new transponder. He had come to respect the technician after he had gotten them out of that fix in the Ralltiir system, and hoped he had the right hand to get the new transponder loaded properly.

Jane bit back a quip about being glad she was not his girlfriend as she grabbed her toolkit, affixed it to the back of her vest, and made sure everything she brought with her was on her person. "Yeah, Sprocket, just land her next to us." she paused and giggled. "That's a little close. Better make it ten meters." The sound of repulsors and the hiss of hydraulics was heard as the black YT-2000 touched down exactly ten meters from the starboard side of the shuttle. "I think I'm going to take my money and invest it into this shuttle. She needs so much work..." she said, a genuine look of concern on her face as she looked around. The one thing that the ship had going for her was the seats were 'very' comfortable.

"This ship may be old, but she blends in well," Derek replied to her, from the bottom of the ramp as he waited Athol's appearance. His eyes scanned the battered chronometer on his wrist as his eyes moved towards the YT-2000. Two freighters landed in the middle of the Brentaalan wasteland would surely draw the attention of any aerial patrols that went by. They would have to act quickly, he thought as he considered the constant threat of the Galactic Empire and their puppets in the Ringali Shell Security Force.

The arrival of the ship had been noticed quickly, and the speeder was en route before it landed. Giving enough time to ensure it was indeed Derek, he came up on a close approach. The back of the speeder had some essential parts as well as tools. "Afternoon, rough trip?"

"Not really!" she said as she bounded out of the shuttle and over to her own ship. She had a decently up to date medical kit with pressure bandages and a little Bacta. It was her fault he got shot, so she would fix him up in a jiffy! Jumping on the descending ramp that led into her ship, she went for the small medical bay next to her quarters and grabbed the kit that was strapped to the bulkhead before dashing out again, falling on the sand once, but getting back up quickly. "I'mma fix that up in no time!" .she said cheerfully as she opened the hard case and looked at the assorted bandages and patches, Standing beside Derek.

Derek rolled his eyes at Minersha, as he was quick to motion to his blaster wound to the recently arrived Athol. "I've had worse trips ... not by much though," he said as he stepped aside, to give Jason plenty of room to ascending the boarding ramp. "I ... we ... managed to get a new transponder on Ord Mantell," he explained, as his uninjured arm motioned towards the ramp. "The sooner you can get this installed ... the sooner we can get back in business," he said with a firm nod of his head, being deliberately vague to keep the smuggler in the dark as much as possible. He still did not like outsourcing, but he was forced to admit that that it did have its usefulness at times.

"I brought along a few pieces that should help. Got them for next to nothing thanks to certain contacts. Give me a bit to get this installed, and we can proceed to general maintenance. If you need to lift off before I finish, give me a yell." With that, Jason walked up the ramp, securing the new transponder and making his way into the heart of the ship.

Jane was worried about a possible attack from some security people as well. "Sprocket, keep passively scanning the surrounding 100 kilometers. I want you to monitor comm traffic and warn me of any incoming ships," she said. Outsourcing 'did' have its usefulness, such as the recently purchased and fully stocked medical kit, plus a ship that could dish out enough damage to match a light cruiser. "Take off your jacket." she said as she pulled out some Bacta gel and a pressure bandage.

As he gave a polite nod to Athol he let out a frustrated sigh at the smuggler's maternal instincts. He let out a pained groan as he slid the jacket from his body, tensing his body as he peeled the bantha hide flight jacket from his body. Revealed was a rather nasty blaster wound on his left arm, that had caused the cloth of his shirt to adhere to it. The resulting unsanitary condition had caused quite a rabid infection to set in, which was perhaps the cause of his less than energetic personality. "That transponder had better work," he complained, doing his best to change the subject as he nervously looked towards the smuggler and her impending medical treatment.

"This may hurt a little." Jane said as she tucked the medkit beneath her arm and gently spread some of the healing Bacta on the blaster wound, than applied the pressure bandage that would prevent infection, and also numb the wound slightly. The Bacta would do a lot to kill the infection, and the pressure bandage would seal out any other germs that would cause it to become infected further. She re-opened the medkit and pulled out a small box of medication that had small sheet of pills, sealed sterilely in plastic and durasteel foil. "Here," she said, breaking off a pair of sealed pills and handing them to Derek. "That should kill whatever latent infection is leftover."

Looking around at the mess that was the command and control circuity of the ship, he could only sigh in despair. "This thing needs a complete rebuild with dry-dock has he kept it running this long?" Walking over to the Identification and Broadcast equipment rack, a thorough inspection of each circuit board and crystal was made and then notes added to his datapad for replacement. After determining exactly how the previous transponder was jerry-rigged in, the process of removing it began by shutting down all incoming power along the conduits to this section. After power was secured, he still continued to wait a few minutes for the capacitors to discharge. Finally satisfied that nothing short of the hull collapsing would kill him, the work began by pulling every last plug from the old system and carefully noting how it was connected. With a free data port now available, a spike was inserted to run a simple calibration and defragmentation program on the ships computer systems. He figured it would take about three hours for the whole thing to run, and cringed when the initial estimate came back with a nearly eight hour repair time. Finally annoyed enough, he slapped the comm button on the wall. "Derek, when did you last have this thing serviced and maintained? This ship is nearly a flying wreck, and we're not even talking about the damage to your computer systems." Detaching the comm set from the wall, it found a new temporary home on his belt while he crawled into the service ducts.

Derek's jaw clenched as he looked towards the smuggler, his right hand instinctively going to rub at the bandage on his arm. "It may kill the infection, but it also might kill me," he complained, before heading back up into the ship. "It takes a special touch to keep it running," he explained to Athol as he stood from the back of the ship, carefully observing to make sure he was not completely ruining the ship. "It ... it has been a few years since we did a full overhaul..." he explained reluctantly, sliding his hands into his pockets as he offered a sheepish grin. "I mean ... it flies ... right?" he asked nervously, as he dropped down onto his left knee so he could watch the technician crawl into the ducts.

"It could fly a lot better with even some basic maintenance. Look at the fragmentation rate on your navicomp. Your hyperspace calculations are taking a lot longer than they should, by nearly 10 seconds. Fortunately, that's an easy fix which the program is running now. I brought some power conditioners and couplings along, so I can get the majority of the systems back to a stable power output without burning up other systems. I need a list of which systems are a priority for you though. If we had a week, I'd tell you to bring this thing into a yard owned by a friend of mine who owes me a few favors." The voice would be echoing slightly from the confinement of the ducting, and the sounds of welding would be audible a few moments later.

Jane closed the Medical kit and followed him into the shuttle. Standing next to the ramp inside, she listened to the dire news of the shuttle and all its maintenance problems. Those ears had little trouble picking up his voice, even from this distance and in these conditions. "I could lend you my DV4. It's a little old, but It can perform autonomous maintenance and minor repairs, and plug into your computer system to help with processing power. If you'd like anyway... He's a competent droid." she added. And he was. He just had no personality whatsoever, unlike Sprocket or the triplets.

Derek suddenly felt like everyone was ganging up on him and he was having a hard time breathing. "No. No droids..." he said to Minersha as he shook his head at her. He had fought in the Clone Wars and remembered all of the trouble droids had caused. The last thing he wanted was one of those around. "If you can get the new transponder working ... and the hyperdrive ... we should be fine," he said to Athol, as he moved to a seat in the cockpit to sit down. He could feel tightness as the both of them criticized his ship and he struggled with how to respond. "The idea is to use the transponder to avoid a fight. If we need the shields and the weapons the we've done something terribly, terribly wrong," he explained, as he spun the chair around to watch the progress.

"Someone's done repairs to the life-support and ventilation systems. I'm going to fix the power systems to those, as well as the hyperdrive and the computer systems. Never know when it might come in handy. If we have enough time I'll try and sort out the shield generator and the weapons initialization system, but I am uploading some new algorithms for the essential functions. The ones installed here are horrendously out of date." While he worked and was not talking to either person, a soft but upbeat tune was being hummed in that mid-range tenor. The tune itself was wordless, and obviously very familiar to him.

Jane looked at Derek with a bit of concern, pulling the bottle of naturally sweet blended fruit juice, she offered it to him. "Here, Its Corellian fruit juice. I think you'll like it." she said to him in a voice that would hopefully calm him. She did not normally share her juice. "I optimized the O2 scrubbers on the way here and capped off some potential short-circuits before they became problems." she said to Athol after he stopped talking. "Want a hand or two?" she asked after him. two pairs of hands were better than one, and they may not have a whole lot of time on the ground.

Derek felt very uncomfortable that someone else was touching the inner workings of 'his' ship, but he realized that he was not a skilled enough technician to do the advanced work that Athol was doing. Between the wars he had worked as an engineer aboard a cruise ship and had limited experience dealing with battle damage and the aging systems of this former military shuttle. "I always thought I did a good job," he said to Athol, before turning his attention back to Minersha. "Juice, huh? Spiked at least?" he asked before taking a swig of the nectar. "Blah! Healthy!" he complained, suppressing the urge to spit it out right then and there.

"Sure. If you don't mind, please check the weapons turret actuators and the hydraulic systems. Derek, you're a pilot. This is stuff a trained tech would notice and be able to fix, you just don't have the training for it. Most pilots never know the damage done to their craft, which is why we have dock facilities. Considering the age and the rough situations, we ought to be glad it still flies at all" Crawling back out of the ducts was easily accomplished, and he pat himself down to remove some of the excess dust. Now he was ready to install the new transponder and integrate it into the ships' communication and broadcast system. The actual installation took only a few minutes, but the long part was making all the software talk to itself and come back happy.

Jane grinned when he complained. It seemed to be his forte. Maybe he could complain so much that the empire would surrender in exchange for his vow of silence! She giggled and took the bottle back. "The fact that this ship functions at all is a testament to your care. I'm sure she would have just rotted away without you." she said, trying to encourage him and patted his good shoulder as she listened to the instructions. "Right-o!" she said as she pulled off a wall panel that led to the access tube towards the computer assisted mechanical turret equipment. "Wow, this really needs some lubrication..." she said to herself. She was all the way into the access shaft so she shouted lightly to be heard. "Do you have any vacuum lubricant?" she asked as she pulled a rag from one of her many pockets, spit in it, and wiped down some of the actuators. None of them needed replacing immediately, and she could not replace them if she needed to, which was lucky. The unlucky part was that without lubricant that could withstand vacuum, this turret would not be a turret anymore, and be fixed in position, or burn out from overheating. Opening that portable toolkit, she used a small laser torch to clear away most of the gunk buildup without damaging the moving parts. She also checked the computer links and power feeds. Those, at least, seemed to be working, but could use an up-to-date replacement.

Derek was glad to see that progress was being made and it seemed that both of them were nearly complete with their much needed repairs. The Tetan commander rose from his seat and moved to the pilot's seat as he began firing up the system's to do a test of the craft's operational abilities. He noted that the systems seemed to come on a lot faster than had been the case prior to the much needed maintenance. His primary concern was on the new transponder and he quickly toggled the switch to key it online. A moment later the ship began successfully broadcasting an IFF of a sector ranger patrol ship. "This will definitely help," he said to Athol as he registered the system's power outputs.

"Everything seems to be in working order." Jane said as she crawled out of the access tube. She was a mess. Grease in her hair, on her face, hands, shirt. Dust all over her, but she seemed oddly happy, in spite of being a mess. "The power couplings back there need replacement next time you have the chance, preferably at a dry-dock. I've lubed the mechanical parts so that they shouldn't wear out and cleaned the gunk from the old stuff." she was sweating, and wiped her sleeve over her forehead, leaving a streak of grease on her forehead. "It will work fine for a while. A complete overhaul might take a week or two, depending on how fixed you want her. It took my dad and his techs a month to strip and rebuild my ship. But that was complete replacement of a lot of stock components. Nothing that extreme here." she said as she took a drink of the tasty fruit juice.

"Obviously we can't test the weapons here like this..." Derek said, as he looked up from the technical readout. "But I assume all is well there. I don't think I've had a ship this well off since before the mission to Thyferra..." he said to them, remembering the early days when the Argo actually had full operative capability. He rose from his seat, and moved towards the turret where Minersha was. "Everything checks out. I've got your credits..." he called up to her, as his hand dug into his pocket, and he pulled out the four 2,000 credit chips. They were desperately running low on funds at this point. Another source of credits was desperately needed ... and fast.

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