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
"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
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 facilities...how 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
"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.