Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Brandon Barnes, Erin Highberg, Christopher Levy, and Thomas Rogers.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:2:16) in the Bright Jewel system: Gilded Thranta and Ord Mantell (Worlport: The Drunken Mantellian and Spaceport).

Commander Derek Atio, Rake Carson, Emi Shinohara, and Captain Dagon Tong.


Why were they still on Ord Mantell? Derek asked himself as he spent yet another night in the Drunken Mantellian cantina in the Ord Mantell city of Worrlport. Yet another ubiquitous glass of Alderaan Ruge was sitting on the table in front of him, barely touched as he watched the reruns on the holovision display. His eyes moved down towards the chronometer on his wrist, expecting Tong at any moment. Arriving simultaneously would attract too much attention. They would either look too much like part of an organization or worse ... a homosexual couple. Derek shuddered at the thought, finally moving for that drink. Despite the hour, the Cantina was quite busy, filled with occasionally drunken wretch and down-on-their-luck space that had no where else to be. Tonight was hopefully the night ... their shipment would come and they return to base and change into some clothes that were actually clean and perhaps, should they be so fortunate as to draw a number in the lottery, take an actual sonic shower. The clothes that awkwardly tugged against his portly frame were supposed to make him look like a space, but really all they were doing was taking up space.

Rake Carson was in his usual state.  Mildly intoxicated, leaning heavily toward drunk.  He was fairly clean-shaven, and his haircut was still the close-cropped cut he'd worn in the Navy.  He clothes, while they weren't that of a bum, were pretty well worn, his synth-leather jacket, once black, now almost grey with age.  The red bloodstripe of his trousers stood bright against the faded black of his old service trousers, which were also damn near grey.  He was pretty heavily armed for the average man, packing a DL-44 (pretty standard), a hideaway Q-2 (pretty illegal), a vibra-blade, and four grenades.  Two were concussion, but they weren't by any means legal.  As a matter of fact, pretty much everything Rake did was illegal.  He was constantly pushing the edge of the law.  He was laying low on Ord Mantell because the decreased imperial presence bought him a small amount of safety, given that he had at least three warrants on him, and two of them were major.  Ord Mantell itself wasn't exactly savory, though.  Two booths to his front, a man had done no less than six spice deals since he'd arrived.  Of course, Rake didn't think it at all hypocritical to look down on the dealer, despite having been the one who smuggled the spice in in the first place.  He took a drag off his cigarra, his eyes on the door.  He had brought a shipment in today, an unusual one.  The crates hadn't been marked, and that usually meant trouble, but the two he'd opened had been flight suits and foodstuffs.  He had not bothered to check on the rest, but the manifest looked clean. The money was pretty high for uniforms and chow, though. But hell. He didn't get paid to ask questions.

Atio might have hated Ord Mantell, but the ground commander of the Argo preferred it to the time he'd been stationed on Alderaan with the Argo. Here, no one paid a second glance to a heavily armed mercenary. On Alderaan, it was exactly the opposite. So when he entered into the Drunken Mantellian in armor that might have been the result of a great deal of modification to Katarn class, an EE-3 carbine strapped via three point tactical sling to his chest, a Caliban X heavy blaster pistol riding in a holster at the small of his back, and what appeared to be a generic blaster, but what was really a Mer-Sonn MSD-32 disruptor pistol on his left thigh in a drop holster, a vibro knife attached to the side of said holster, it wasn't worth a second look to the patrons. Another merc, wasn't that special. He moved to the booth next to Atio's and sat down. He ordered a beer without really caring what type it was, and then glanced over the top at Atio. "Should be any time now. Throw away com'll go off, I'll go secure the cargo, and that'll be that."

"I hope so," Derek muttered into his drink as he finished yet another glass, laying it carelessly down on the table. "I haven't had to work as a delivery boy since secondary school..." he commented disdainfully as he looked at the commando. He felt slightly unmanned by the small arsenal he managed to pack onto his quite average frame. Derek, on the other hand, managed only a single 36T QuickSnap blaster carbine, more often found in the hands of a farmer than a Rebel soldier, but it had never let him down so far. "Scuttlebutt says we're going back to the Ringali Nebula to finish clearing out that base," he commented, idly speculating about a future mission.

Rake eyeballed the people in the bar. He noted the merc. He always noted mercs, since sometimes they were after him. Rake was a paranoid type, sometimes with and sometimes without reason. He kept his eyes on the man for a split second, and would have dismissed him, except that he sat down next to the space. Now, this was odd enough, but sometimes a man sits where he can in a cantina. But the two were actually conversing, and judging by the gestures and carriage of the space, he wasn't no spacer. Rake thought back to his initial run from the Imperials, their intelligence goons and their undercover. He had actually been a confidential informant, and knew the 'dress code' of their type. He fixed the guy, trying to place him. It was a direct stare, nothing covert about it. Hell, maybe the guy would try something. He noted the time on the wall behind the man. Five till. Ten more minutes and he had to throw com. It would be a real pain in the ass if he got picked up by intelligence before he even delivered his cargo. That'd be one more charge on a long list, and ten more years in the spice mines. Rake shifted slightly in his seat, resting his hand absentmindedly on his BlasTech. It wasn't a huge movement, and wouldn't be that noticeable to an inexperienced operator, but it unsnapped the holster. Fucking Imperials. Always messing up his day.

"Get over it. From the way to troops aboard that vessel behave, it won't do them any harm to learn to sit on their hands. Might even save their lives." With that, he took a long slug off the beer, finishing it. He dropped a few credits on the table to make sure his tab was covered and then headed out. Whether or not he noticed a weapon coming closer to clearing leather, he didn't let on. He just left the Drunken Mantellian the same way he'd come in. As if he had something better to do, but nothing pressing. He needed to retrieve the cargo speeder so that he would not have to take the excitable children with him to the landing pad to collect the cargo. Not to mention, he was fairly certain that some of them would cause him more help than they were worth as pack mules at this point. But that's why the Alliance had put him aboard the Argo, he was convinced. To beat the stupid out of them. As he moved along the filthy streets, the mercenary dug into one of the pockets that laid in the h-harness over his armor. Normally reserved for a grenade or power pack, this one held his cigarras. He lit one, and continued his version of an absent minded stroll to the speeder, which was to make sure he was not being followed, or surveilled, and never to look like he was looking.

Derek moved away from the booth, having spotted an attractive young Twi'lek sitting in disoriented in one of the other booths, obviously messed up on death sticks. That was about the middle of his wheelhouse he thought to himself as he strode over towards her, but just as he was about to make his move she lunged forward and unleashed a blast of projectile vomit onto her table before falling forward, face first into it. "Well then..." he said as he took a step back to avoid any of the splatter. Yes, it was definitely time to move on from Ord Mantell he convinced himself as he moved towards the bar for another drink. "Alderaan Ruge. Five minutes ago..." he demanded of the serving droid, which seemed to actually move slower than it had the entire evening, if such a thing were possible. Several agonizing moments later his drink was laid out before him and before the glass even had a chance to cause condensation on the counter he reached up and dumped the entire contents of the dirty glass into his mouth, trying to suppress the image of what he had just seen. He shuddered visibly. It was one of those days.

Rake dropped his credits on the table. Less than was necessary to pay the tab, too. He would pass it off as an honest drunken mistake if anyone later asked him, but he'd try his damnedest to get away with it. He made for the door, not stopping for conversation with anyone, including, and especially, the soon-to-be annoying serving droid that would realize that he hadn't left enough credits to cover even one of his fourteen drinks. He walked upright, despite his high level of inebriation, carrying himself with confidence and authority. He found that people never questioned a straight-backed individual as much. As he went from the dimly lit cantina to the brightly lit street, his vision dimmed out for a moment before they adjusted. He paused as they did so. He had seen too many men jumped by bounty hunters right outside the door during this brief period of blindness to ever risk having it happen to himself. Once he had recovered, he exited completely, immediately scanning his surroundings. And then he noticed that damned merc sitting by a speeder. The guy was faking activity. He knew it now. The man had come into a bar, not ordered a drink, left when he made a move for a pistol (props to him for that), and now he was loafing around a speeder like a half-ass mechanic. Something was not right. The pieces of the puzzle didn't quite fit, and it made him nervous. He fingered the throwaway comm he'd been sent, sending the signal out. As he did, he flicked his cigarra over the door and let the comlink go with it. Hopefully nobody saw it. If they did, oh well. It's Ord Mantell. Shadier things happen all the time. And then he did a typically Carson sort of thing to do. He approached the merc. If the guy was tailing him, or someone else, it'd throw him off balance "Trouble with your speeder, boss?"

The merc did not seem off put. Not by the approach, nor the aggressive stance the smuggler took. Instead, the dead eyes turned towards the smuggler, and he held up the comlink as it buzzed for a moment. The cigarra glowed brightly for a moment, but that was the extent of any reaction for a moment. "Was waiting for your call. Get in so we can go get my cargo." He tossed the comlink away, letting onlookers think the thing was just broken and cheap. He did not have the look of an undisciplined soldier of fortune in the eyes though. The coldness that came from him was infinitely nastier. But then, smugglers dealt with all sorts, did not they?

Derek could see out of the corner of his eye what was going on, and by now had begun moving out the back entrance of the cantina to avoid attention. With most of the crowd distracted with taking turns poking the passed out young Twi'lek with a frozen bantha dog, he was able to quietly make his way out the cantina's back entrance. Hoisting the flap of his coat up so that it would insulated his neck, he lowered his head into the cool night's air and began to move on foot towards the docking bay. He had no idea if this smuggler could be trusted and he would assume based on past experiences that he could not. He would have the shuttle ready by the time Tong signaled, having already dispatched the Argo to avoid drawing too much attention. He had never seen such a diverse population as he did on the streets of Ord Mantell, but when he saw a squad of Stormtroopers moving down one of the alleyways, he immediately ducked into the nearest open doorway. Just his luck. He had entered an Aqualish restaurant. He would smell like fish for a week. He would have to wait until the Stormtroopers had past. He might not make the rendezvous.

Rake was shocked, but it did not show. He was not exactly the run of the mill smuggler, either. In a staring match, even Dagon would be hard-pressed to beat Carson. He'd done his share of bad things for the Empire when he'd been in the Navy. His eyes were just hollow, and just as hard. He maintained his composure, though, and got into the speeder. He lit another cigarello and kept up his constant scan of the roads and alleyways. The space had taken off down the side alley, and there were Stormtroopers patrolling the street. He counted them at nine, which was pretty typical. Probably made a full quarter of the local contingent here. He realized that the guy he was with might also be wanted, and that made him more than a little edgy. One fugitive would be a hit-or-miss call as to whether he'd get chased, but two in one spot was too juicy to pass up. He began to wonder yet again just what these guys had paid him to transport, but his thoughts only stayed there for a few minutes, as he watched the troopers coming toward the bar they'd just left "You might wanna drive, hotshot. We got company."

"Is that so?" He seemed unworried by the storm troopers. He took another long puff, and knocked a bit of loose ash out the window until the storm troopers had entered, and then he started the speeder. No sudden movements. Not when the patrols were heavy. It was not long though, before they were off, headed for the port. It was a short ride, even in the near junked cargo speeder from the Argo. They really needed to start stealing more. The equipment problems might cease to be as nasty at all times. But there did not seem to be an ounce of worry or panic in the man. The trip would be easy, no checkpoints to bypass or shoot through, just a quiet drive on the junkyard planet, to the landing pad the smuggler had used.

Derek peered out of the Aqualish restaurant as he watched the squad move off. Lucky for him Imperial Stormtroopers rarely had a taste for the flavor experience that was authentic Aqualish cuisine. Believing he was all right for the moment he stepped outside of the restaurant and began moving towards the docking bay. He would have to hurry, but for this portly man in his mid-40s, hurry merely meant moving at a pace just below what would result in chaffing. Growing weary, he looked down to the chronometer on his wrist. "Blast..." he muttered to himself as he really began to hurry now, stopping only to sample one of the local delicacies being offered up by a street vendor with the most pungent aroma. If only he knew he was eating Squall testicles as he moved closer and closer towards the docking bay.

While the merc did not panic, Rake hoped he was maintaining a watchful eye out. Rake did not show any outward signs of emotion or concern, either, but he damned sure eyeballed everything. The darting eyes of a combat vet were darting for good reason. In any situation, at any given time, a man could come across something unexpected, and the only practical method of prevention was to maintain situational awareness. Every person, every object, every vehicle was subject to at least a visual inspection, and if practicable, a close examination. The thousand yard stare is by no means looking through something, so much as it is eyeballing the hell out of it. He watched for suspicious activity with what appeared outwardly as casual glances, but he watched nonetheless. Once they'd gotten to a relatively quiet stretch of road, Rake spoke up. He kept watching as he talked, but this verbal communication indicated a slightly lowered awareness "So tell me. You knew who I was the whole time, why didn't you say anything? And what else do you know?"

"Wanted to make sure you weren't running and talking to people you shouldn't have been before you made your call." He answered as they arrived outside the pads. The answer was simple enough to him. As far as what he might have known, or did not know, well, that was a question people did not ask usually expecting an answer. But he left the modified, cut down slug thrower beneath the seat of the speeder, and nodded towards the landing pads. "So lets get my cargo, so you can get paid, and then we can both get off planet." One for the pleasantries and creature comforts he was.

Derek slipped into the hangar bay and moved towards the decrepit Sigma-class shuttle that served as their alternate mode of transportation for whenever the Argo was too large or would draw too much attention for an assignment. Constructed by Koensayr, the shuttle resembled something more akin to a Y-wing than any of the Imperial shuttles. Equipped with an Alderaanian transponder and suitable call sign his hands began to move over the controls of the ship. The ship's power system began to power up causing a loud, unsettling *humm* to emanate from the back of the ship. As he activated the craft's repulsorlift engines, it rocked back and forth in an ungamely fashion before it began to hover. With a blast from the maneuvering thrusters he began to pilot the shuttle towards the beacon that was flashing on the small sensor readout. Tong was bugged as part of the plan, and all he needed to do was follow a straight line right towards their cargo.

Rake stayed behind the buyer of the goods. Smuggling was a dirty business, especially with people like this. He brought his BlasTech DL-44 out of it's holster and leveled it on the guy. It was not out of malice, but it was professional safety. The man should know well enough why he was doing it. If this guy had a mind to, he'd catch him off guard and take the ship and the cargo without paying, and perhaps even shoot Rake when the offloading was done. Rake did not like that idea. So while this guy offloaded the cargo, he'd be under the gun, literally. He stayed about ten feet back from the old soldier, a good safe distance, but still close enough to hit with an unaimed shot. As they neared the ship, he waved the man off to the side so that he could access the panel and stuck his non-firing hand up there to punch the code. The ramp dropped, and he waved the guy in. He'd stop him when they got to the compartment the goods were in "Sorry, boss. Business. No funny stuff, and keep your hands clear. Gonna have to ask that you sling that EE-3 weak side muzzle down, cross body on your back. And take the cell out. Same with your pistol 'cept keep it strapped down. You know the deal. When you get your cargo and I'm clear, you can go about your business. But for now, we do things by the book, and my way. You make any moves in there that I don't like, and I'll have to dump your body halfway to Alderaan."

"If I wanted to kill you and snatch the load, I'd have done it while I was surveilling you. Don't start complicating this Just be a professional, and put the weapon away." He still did not seem phased, or even irritated, weapon leveled on him or not. "Or you can haul the crates to my speeder yourself. Make up your mind. Either way, you don't get the credits until I get the load, and I cant think of a reason I'd unstrap for you." He made no move for any of the weapons on his person, either to comply or do violence. was not worth it at this point.

Derek realized the line was leading him on a path towards the other spaceport and he immediately maneuvered the craft into position behind the hangar bay so that it would not easily be detected. By using only the repulsorlift engines with the occasional boost from a maneuvering jet the shuttle would sound no loader than a passing speeder. His tongue flicked over his lips as he nervously awaited the comm message. He wished that more of the team were available, but they were spread thin throughout the galaxy at the moment and he and Tong would have to handle this one by themselves. The blip on the sensor screen had not moved for quite some time. Was he dead already, he allowed himself to wonder silently as he shifted uncomfortable in the pilot's seat. It just was not as comfortable as the captain's chair aboard the Argo.

"Fine by me. You can stay right there, then. We'll sit here and chit chat while the droid offloads the goods. But this pistol ain't getting put away. Sorry, boss." This was a matter of personal safety, and it was a rule he always followed. If this guy wanted his goods, he would play by the rules. The CLL-8 Binary Load Lifter began to roll off the crates, bringing them down the ramp and staging them on the pad. There were just over 20 crates, and they were not all that big, but Rake was not going to risk putting his weapon away to offload them personally. The droid moved relatively quick, thanks to Jason taking the inhibitor chip out. Every once in a while, it appeared as though it would topple, but it would speed through the instability without any form of grace, and sheer kinetic energy would keep it upright. Rake had no idea what these guys were planning with the goods, or even what the goods were, but he was nevertheless happy to see them go. Any kind of cargo on his vessel meant that much more time in prison when he eventually got picked up by the Empire. He kept his eyes pretty well fixed on the old merc, but he did hazard sidelong scans of the other pads, keeping a relatively sharp eye out for any suspicious activity, and keeping mental record of everything, suspicious or not. If any of the puzzle pieces did not fit, it'd trigger a reaction in his mind, and he'd do whatever he thought necessary to prevent any sort of personal danger.

"Now, by professional standards, I go, check my goods, you get your money, and that will be that." He moved back down the ramp, letting the smuggler keep his hands in view at all times. Certainly, needing to check the merchandise was not outside the smuggler's work experience. Outside, he knelt down by one of the crates, and popped it open rather unceremoniously, examining it, and then shutting it again. He turned back to look at the man, and after a puff off the cigaralllo, reached into the same pocket he kept his smokes in, and with drew a card that he tossed the man. "You're money." Nice of the droid to stage the crates in his vehicle. Meant it saved him the loading time. Just as well, would mean that he'd be back to a cup of coffee before long.

He was about to climb into the speeder when an open air speeder pulled up in front of the pad's cargo exit, blocking his path. In the back of it sat a squad of Stormtroopers. And they did not stay seated long. All bug one of them surged into landing pad, leaving one to secure the driver of the cargo speeder. A shout from one of the troopers wouldn't be hard to hear for Rake. "Carson Rake, disembark. There is a warrant for your arrest. The seven men fanned out, three nearing the freighter, three others spreading out throughout pad, checking for any other occupants outside, and the last standing near the rear of the cargo speeder. One of the ones not nearing the speeder or the freighter was carrying what looked like a PLX-2M, and another the squad's T-21. The rest had their e-11's in hand, and very clearly, in firing position. "You have five seconds to comply." Came another shout from the squad's orange patch.

Carson began to draw back toward the ramp of his freighter, drawing up a bead on the Stormtrooper's Orange Patch. He knew the squad leader called all the shots, so nailing him before they got fully set up would probably buy him the precious few seconds he needed to get aboard his ship. He paused by the ramp, steadying his hand on the actuator's arm. Slowly, deliberately, he let it fly. He fired two bolts at the squad leader, as well aimed as he could, and before he could judge a hit or miss, he shifted fire to the PLX-2M gunner, making damn sure he took good aim. He could care less about the T-21, as that T-21 wouldn't bring down his bird. But that rocket sure as hell would. He fired four bolts, and then he just began spraying, backing up the ramp as he did, keeping heads down. As he reached the top of the ramp, he pulled loose one of the fragmentation grenades he kept handy. He thumbed the activator and let fly, the little beige ball sailing toward the Stormtroopers who'd moved around to cover the pad. It exploded on contact, showering fragments and metal splinters in every direction. Anything within 4 meters would probably be pretty unhappy, and anything outside of that would think twice before poking his head up again. Rake ducked back into his ship, using the bulkhead as cover, frantically reloading his vibrating DL-44.


Problem with Stormtroopers, they were well trained, and did not freeze up like planetary law enforcement or a low rent bounty hunter team would. Instead, without even knowing if their squad leader was dead, the platoon opened up on him as soon as the kill bolt had been fired. That meant that the T21 and five E-11s were filling the area around the ramp with enough fire to fry the flies in the air. And their anti armor specialist was not waiting either. Orders had been given. If the man wanted to fight, so be it. Do not let the ship off of the ground. So before his squad leader's body had hit the ground, he had already fired one of six rockets on the smuggler's freighter. Apparently, it was a bunker buster, but it did not detonate as soon as it struck the hull, but instead, penetrated and detonated a split second later. Rake's ship lost power before the second man had collapsed. When the second trooper did fall, a second rocket went off, streaking just over the ship and off into the distance.

While all this was going on, the trooper at the side of Dagon's speeder had been distracted, turning his attention to the fire fight that had just broken out. That was when the slug thrower hidden beneath his seat suddenly came into play. Bullets from the suppressed weapon chewed through the door, riddling the man's chest and dropping him. His next target was the driver of the troop transport that had blocked his escape route. He leaned out of the window, bringing the submachine gun into play against him now. When his two primary threats were done, he was on the comlink with Atio as he slid out of the driver's side of the speeder. "Atio, get the bird ready to move. Land at the adjacent pad. Will be coming in short order." He moved to the rear of the speeder, replacing the comlink in his vest, and coming up with a grenade of his own, just a second before the one the smuggler had thrown went off. It forced him back around the corner of his vehicle for cover for a moment, and left another two bodies on the ground.

The three remaining storm troopers were not giving up, two had moved off to the side, trying to find a shot on Rake, while the third kept them covered while facing the lowered ramp of the freighter. He was not in position to see the grenade go sailing towards the feet of the pair, or the EE-3 that put a pair of kill bolts through his chest, or a final one through his forehead. When all that was left was smoking corpses, he shouted at the freighter. "Come on, we're leaving."

In the cockpit of the Gilded Thranta Derek could make out the distinct sound of blaster fire and even an explosion. "Damn it," he muttered under his breath as his hands gripped the shuttle's flight stick. Why did things like this always seem to happen to them whenever they tried to do the simple things like transfer supplies. They had liberated prison camps, acquired stolen Imperial data, but it seemed like every time they were assigned a milk run it ended in them running for their lives under heavy Imperial fire. The maker had quite the sense of humor, he thought to himself as his hands moved furiously over the controls. Powering up the shuttle's sublight engines the craft roared to life, descending towards the adjacent hangar bay. The craft touched down without going through the standard protocols, the boarding ramp descending just as the ship's landing claws made contact with the docking bad. "Standing by," his voice bellowed back on the comm. A moment later his hand toggled a switch and the turbolaser turret on the front of the craft began to rotate. He had no idea what kind of company Tong would be bringing with him, and he was not taking any chances. Dust began to fly in all directions throughout the hangar, the ship's engines never being shut down as the shuttle idled, waiting to make an immediate dust off when Tong arrived.

Rake almost fell over from the impact of the rocket. At first, it was just a dull thud, a quick jarring, followed shortly by a resounding boom as the warhead exploded. His ship shuddered, and the lights dimmed. The emergency auxiliary power kicked on, and then died immediately. The ship went to battery power and the lighting came on again, dim this time. Rake snatched an E-11 from his bulkhead rack, and took position by the door again. The subsequent slugthrower fire and second grenade explosion, followed by that merc's yelling told him that it was over for the time. Now, Rake loved his ship. He'd spent every last dime to buy her, fix her up, keep her running, but survival comes first. The Empire would impound her for sure, and they might scrap her. But they'd almost definitely torture him or kill him if they caught him now. He took off down the ramp with little regret, beating feet to the speeder. The acrid smoke of cordite and burnt air, coupled with the foul smell of singed flesh from the bodies was enough to make most people puke, but Rake had had his run in the sun back in the day. It was nothing new. He vaulted over the burned out hulk of the transport, and took off down the pad after the merc, heading for the ship that had just landed. At least the guy was laying down cover with those turrets. He moved as quick as he could, not stopping to take anything in. He knew the local Imperial Army officer would have this port packed with troopers in under two minutes, what with all the blaster fire, lasers, and explosions.

As the smuggler made the speeder, he hopped back in. No sense in leaving behind the stuff that had almost gotten them killed. Besides, the mission was his guiding star. He started them to the next hangar bay, and rather unceremoniously drove the cargo transport up the ramp and into the shuttle. As soon as they came to a stop, he was out of the vehicle, and slapping the ramp controls, sealing them in and making them ready for departure. He headed for the cockpit after that, sitting down in the co-pilot's chair. "Let's go. Supplies retrieved, and we're one heavy." He took a moment to light a cigarrallo after he was settled. "Glad we weren't sent after just rations. Probably would have been a battalion." Since when things went wrong, they really did seem to go wrong in the strangest ways.

Although Emi Shinohara played the role of a diplomat quite well sometimes went wrong. She gave a shrug of those smaller shoulders as she moved from the passenger compartment of the shuttle to the cockpit. It was smaller than she was comfortable with...but she could just as easily adjust as the next one. She blinked a few times as she cleared her throat slightly. "You got the supplies, Tong?" She couldn't help but note his narrow escape and tilted her head slightly to the right. "I'm sure that could have gone a little better..." She let a corner of her mouth turn upward still trying hard not to laugh.

Derek rolled his eyes at Tong as he mentioned that they were 'one heavy,' as his hands pulled back on the controls. They had a habit for picking up stragglers "Strap yourselves in," he warned as the shuttle began to lurch upwards, rocketing towards the atmosphere. The small shuttle began to shake violently, the crates rattling loudly as the bulkheads began to creak. Externally around the shuttle the pressure was building as he pushed his hand forward on the controls, straining visibly as he used her full sublight capacity. A bead of sweat began to form on his forehead as the blue skies gradually faded away and were replaced by the darkness of space and little glimmers of stars. He swung his seat around and began to go to work on the navigation computer, downloading the coordinates for where they would eventually rendezvous with the Argo. "It will just take a moment for me to get the coordinates from the navi-computer..." he explained nervously as his hand slapped against the side of the computer.

Carson was glad to be alive, glad to have the money, and a little thrown off by the whole ordeal. But he was above all else livid that his ship had been blasted. He wandered around the shuttle, making his way through the compartments, and taking stock of his surroundings. Satisfied at the exploration, he moved to the speeder and pulled his Treppus-2 vibroblade out, jamming it into the top of one of the crates he had hauled. His eyes went wide at the realization of the implications of the cargo. These guys were rebels. He'd been supplying rebels. If he was not in enough trouble with the Empire for piracy, murder, evasion, coercion, disturbance of the peace, dissention, and a few other minor charges, now it was abetting the rebels. Any hope of ever getting a pardon or being able to resume a smuggling career was now gone. Even Corellia disowned the rebels. At least as a smuggler, his home planet had respected his ability to 'stick it to the Empire,' but this was too far. Rake sat back against the bulkhead, clutching the contents of the cargo. Still reeling from shock, he pushed himself to his feet and made his way fore, observing the passengers of this merry crew. There was the merc, who he knew, the pilot, who turned out to be that space from the bar, and a rather aristocratic woman. His Corellian instincts took over, and he touched his forehead and dipped his chin slightly to acknowledge the woman's presence. His parents would have beat him if he did not show respect to a lady "Ma'am," he muttered. Still somewhat pissed about his situation, he turned his attention to the merc "Tong, right? We've got to talk buddy-boy. You owe me a ship.

"I don't owe you anything. If those storm troopers had been there for me, they would have swarmed the speeder instead of your landing pad. " He stood up, and with smoke curling from his nose, cast a glance over at the ambassador. "It went fine. Aside from the smuggler having more attention on him than expected." He glanced back at the man. "But if you feel that strongly about it, talk to the pilot. I'm not a diplomat." And with that, he left the cockpit to find a cup of coffee. It would have probably been easier to have shot the smuggler as he came down the deck. The man had seen his face after all, and if it got back to the Empire that he was still alive, it would be all that much harder for him to get done what he wanted. But he hadn't been certain if he was going to have to have a second firefight on his way to the shuttle. Hence, one heavy. Snorted at the thought that being pragmatic was going to give him a headache now.

Emi gave a nod back to the other person they had picked up. And judging from Tong's words...he did not seemed all that welcomed. "Well that's just peachy!" she said with a slight sarcastic tone. She watched the two men leave the cockpit and then looked over to Derek. "Sometimes I wonder why I stick around. But I guess it has something to do with loving the company I'm with." She threw a slight goofy grin. She slowly moved to where Tong had occupied and spun around in the chair a few times. "So just where are we headed now?" Emi stopped swiveling her chair and stopped to stare straight ahead at the stars they seemed to be streaming by.

Suddenly the proximity alert began to flash, letting out a loud squeal, indicating there were ships moving in. There were several explosions, causing the shuttle began to shake and jolt to the porn. They were under attack. "You two can sort this out later..." Derek yelled at them as he pushed the flight controls quickly, sending the Gilded Thranta into a sudden, unexpected dive back down towards the planet's surface. "Get to the turrets..." he ordered from between grit teeth as he looked down at the sensor readout. It seemed to be at least two TIE Fighters. They had dealt with worse, but never with only the shuttle to protect them. "We're not going anywhere yet, Ambassador," he said with a laugh as the heat of the planet's atmosphere began to cover the forward viewport. They were descending at breakneck speed back down towards the planet's surface, the small Koensayr shuttle shaking violently from both the atmospheric penetration and the occasional hit from the TIE Fighters. Suddenly there was a blast that caused an access panel patch to pop off and the navigation computer went dead. He rolled his eyes in disgust, almost expecting something like that. The ground terrain grew larger in the viewport and he suddenly pulled up on the flightstick, causing the shuttle to fly at a level atmosphere, less than a meter off the planet's surface, stirring up dust and debris behind them as they went. Turning to Emi, he offered her a hydrospanner and his eyes darted to the open access panel. "You know how to use one of these things?" he asked grimly.

"Damn it. When it rains, it pours." Rake took off aft, heading for the ladder well that ran up to the laser cannon turret. He knew his way, having toured the ship as soon as he boarded. He scrambled up the ladder and settled in to the seat of the turret, and strapped into the chair. He reached forward and charged the weapon, then engaged the turret and swiveled it around aft. Due to the atmospheric interference, the targeting computers showed a million blips, and nothing would light up, but because he was facing aft, the superheating of the vessel did not obscure his vision. Now, this wouldn't apply to the tie fighters, who were still in descent. Their viewports would be obscured, almost useless, and their forward pointing scanners would have trouble picking out a target. At least the pilot knew what he was doing. Rake thumbed down the firing mechanism, sending a stream of 'lasers' toward the incoming fighters. The weapon did not actually shoot lasers, per say, it just energized its blaster gas with them. The resultant beam was explosive, powerful, and devastating upon impact. Rake had used it to blast small rocks out of his way once or twice back on his now-impounded vessel. One of the tie fighters took a direct hit, its boxy wing sheering off and the vessel spiraling toward the deck. The other, though, dipped and dodged his beams, and began to level out to their rear. Pretty soon, he'd have his targeting computer pretty much locked on, and they'd be done.

He did not much care for space combat. He was not a pilot. He'd always let other people do the flying so he could pay attention to his job. But now he found himself hurrying into one of the turrets, and powering it up. By the time he had managed to get turret fully powered up, one explosion had already rocked the shuttle. It had him looking around for the next fighter. He caught it out of the corner of his eye as it started making a second run on them. He shifted the crosshairs over, giving the TIE a decent lead before laying on the trigger. The first two or three bursts missed, but before the fighter could correct his path, away from the stream of blasters, he'd have flown directly into the bursts, which ripped through the fighter, and caused an impressive explosion.

Emi felt that rattle...and not just that the decent would worry her. She reached a hand behind her to strap herself into the co-pilot's chair. She always was a little squeamish when it came to Derek's flying. But she tried hard not to show it. "This is going to be fun..." she mumbled under her breath as she started to grip onto the seat slightly. She looked at the, what looked like a very complicated tool to her. She raised a brow up to Derek, a little surprised he even bothered to ask her if she knew how to used whatever it was he handed her. "I'm an Ambassador...Not a grease monkey my friend."

"Great," Derek bemoaned as he let the hydrospanner remain in his own hand, sliding out of the pilot's seat. "You fly..." he instructed Emi as he dropped to his knees in the back of the compartment. A series of grunts escaped his lips as he struggled to reach into the access hatch with his meaty arms. "I think I got it..." he said as he plugged in one of the loose wires, but the result was nothing more than a quick blast of energy that flowed through his body, causing him to twitch suddenly and groan in pain. "No...not it..." he murmured painfully, turning the hydrospanner in the other direction while keeping his eyes focused on the navigation computer for any sign of life. His tongue flicked over his lips in frustration as he did not see even the battery backup light on. They had taken a powerful hit. In frustration he pulled up one of the floor panels that ran between the access point and the navigation computer and spotted a frayed wire, blasting electricity throughout the under compartment. "Well there's my problem..." He said profoundly as he began to splice some fiber optic cable using nothing but his teeth. His eyes darted up towards the viewport, noting they were approaching some buildings. "...might want to take us up," he said of Emi as his focus remained on restoring power to the ship's navigation computer. At least the TIEs were gone.

Emi's mouth almost dropped in dumbfounded surprise as she hand no choice but to grip the controls in front of her. Lucky for Derek she was already sitting in the co-pilots chair. She grumbled about how if they got through this she was going to kill Derek. She was not a great pilot, but she knew the basics. She kept the shuttle as steady as she could. She heard Derek's words and snapped back at him, "Thank you captain obvious." Emi's palms began sweat as she maneuvered the controls to send them up, taking the shuttle up and over the buildings. "If my excellent flying skills don't get us all killed...I'm going to kill you Derek..." Emi said as she tried to remain calm and keep a control over where the shuttle was exactly going.

"But then you wouldn't have anyone who could fix this bucket of bolts," Derek mumbled, his mouth clamped down on a piece of cable he was trying to splice. A moment later he moved down into the hole and began reconnecting the wiring and gradually the navigation computer began to boot up. "Phew," he sighed contently, raising himself off the floor, still feeling ill from the effects of the electric shock. He moved quickly to retake his spot in the pilot's chair and strapped the harness over his shoulders. "You did good..." he said kindly as his fingers tightened around the controls. It only took several moments for the ship to emerge from Ord Mantell's atmosphere, by which time the computer had time to do its work. When it began to beep, indicating it was ready, he moved his hand forward on the controls and the small shuttle surged forward into hyperspace in a whirl of light.

Rake made his way back down the ladderwell and started to move forward, but paused. He figured the merc, Tong, had probably gone down the other ladderwell to the Turbolaser turret. He would wait for him there. He had a couple of things he wanted to get off his chest. As the ship surged into hyperspace, he felt that feeling rise up in his gut and settle back down again. It always made him somewhat nauseous, but only momentarily. As his stomach settled again, he waited patiently for Tong to come back up out of the turret.

Dagon had emerged from the turret in short order, lighting another cigarollo, and taking a long drag off it once the end was glowing. Hyperspace was a much better setting. Unless the Imperials had an Interdictor handy, they would be fine. It was even more unlikely that the Argo would get ambushed due to this whole mess. Who ever might be tracking them would figure them for the next closest system, not a deep space rendezvous with a parent ship. He saw the smuggler in the corridor. If he wanted to talk, Dagon had forwarded him to the people he needed to talk to. For now, he was going to make sure they were on target, and then go back to his coffee.

Emi looked over at Derek who sat back down in the pilots chair. She was quite happy to relinquish the controls to him. She sat back and gave a long drawn out sigh. "I think I'll need a hot shower after that." A hint of annoyance in her voice. "Thanks all the same...but if I even have to fly this thing again...You will not hear the end of it." She shot him a glare. "This is why I went into politics...I just stand around and talk to people...And look pretty." She began mumbling to herself about why and how she got here. Her voice would just trail off after a while.

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