Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Brandon Barnes, Andrew J. Fowler, and Christopher Levy.
Zero years before the Battle of Yavin (35:4:28) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV (Votrad: Nam'a'taht Shipping, Limited Tower) and Gilded Thranta.
Corporal Jason Athol, Commander Derek Atio, Sergeant Major Rake Carson, and Arick Rol.

Carson stood next to Jace, staring at the makeshift landing zone they had set up in the high desert of the mountains outside Cormond. The shuttle from Argo was due about an hour and a half ago, and Atio had promised over comms that he would be on time. Unfortunately, Atio was holding true to his reputation and was late. As usual. Carson spat and lit up the forty second cigarra since he had gotten here. Mentally, he calculated how many credits his smoking habit ate up in a standard month. He shuddered when he got into the triple digits. Carson was dressed for the occasion, considering their mission. For once, he did not look like a bum. He was in standard business attire, and looked remarkably like a well-to-do freight corporation executive. Of course, one had to overlook the spider web of scars on his face, but that was not that big a deal. If anybody asked, he had started off as a self-made man, working as the pilot of the first vessel of the company. Carson looked over to his companion, the technical guru of his unit. "Jace, you have your list, right?"

As like Carson, Jace was dressed differently than normal. The patched and pocket filled jacket had been changed out for a more common appearing business coat and clean undershirt. Looking over to Carson, a small pad was removed from the front pocket and handed over. "Here's a copy of the pieces. Can we make sure everything is here and ready for adjustment before the parts arrive this time?" A quick breath was taken before he continued. "Now, just to make sure you know the plan and don't panic, a fast review. We're going to acquire the parts from four different trade hubs spread out over an eight system radius. No set of parts that work together will be acquired from any connected system, but none will be so far apart that they seem suspicious. I'll arrange to pick them up off world, and use my normal random path to get back here. I should be done in about fifteen hours. Questions?"

Rake thought about it before he answered. They had sat for hours making the plans, but backroom deals and purchases were not his forte. He would leave that up to Jace, who had exponentially more experience than him in the black market. After hashing out the plan in his head multiple times, he nodded. "Alright. Get to it, then, I guess. I can't think of anything that we haven't been over already, so no, no questions. Me and Derek will get the ships, and anything you need after you're done that you haven't already purchased just get a hold of me on one of the throwaway comlinks, and I'll take care of it." He tossed Jace a credit chip. "Here's the cash. Once you're done inventorying everything they could get at the station, you can use this to get anything else you need. The credit's pretty much unlimited." Rake thought about it, and as he watched the shuttle come in to land, he added a last line as an afterthought. "Jace, we've been hanging around together for a long time. Do me a favor and don't get caught, will ya?" With that, he headed toward the landing zone, ready to receive Commander Atio.

He caught the chip reflexively and immediately stashed it in one of the pockets. As Rake turned, Jace would fire off a retort to the being caught comment. "Rake, if I ever did get caught, you would be the last of my worries considering what the Imperials would do. See you in a few hours." Obligatory remarks completed, he would turn and board his speeder heading into the city.

The battered form of the Sigma-class shuttle Gilded Thranta slowly descended through the snow capped mountains outside of Cormond. The portly pilot was annoyed that there was no longer a civilized place to land, as these meetings on in the wilderness always risked their being tracked. The tired old shuttle rattled, threatening to fly apart as the ship less than gracefully completed its descent. The landing struts were descended and the Gilded Thranta slammed into the terrain, causing the ship to rock violently one last time. His hands instinctively moved above him to deactivate the main reactor, as having a large power source detected in stationary in the wilderness would not be to their advantage. He could see Carson through the transparisteel of the viewport, and he unstrapped himself from his seat and began walking towards the ramp. Booted feet clanked against the durasteel of the ramp as he walked down onto the surface of the planet, wondering where exactly they were. "Is it you I have to thank for this detour, Sergeant?" he asked, as his arms came up to fold in front of his chest. "The space lanes around Brentaal real mess," he reported, as his eyes turned to look up at the cargo containers he had brought from the space station.

"We don't have time for a news holo, Derek. Did you bring the goods?" He motioned towards the cargo containers in the bay of the vessel. They had quite a bit of work to do, and not enough time to do it. So far, the commandos had been marginally effective at blowing up garrisons and spaceports, but they had never tested themselves against the actual Empire. Likewise, there was entire fleet of small ships in the alliance that had yet to see action. Carson saw it as a massive waste of resources. That would change soon if he had the least bit to say about it, and remarkably, he did. Within a week, maybe two, he intended to bring the Empire down in Brentaal, and possibly in the entire sector. On the outside, it was difficult, but in reality, it could be done easily and with few casualties on their side. Carson pulled a datapad free of his pocket, exchanging it with the datapad that Jace had handed him. Tossing the first pad over to Atio, he pointed at it. "We gotta get these ships, and today. Hope Alderaan doesn't mind a massive hit on their economy. Get in the speeder and let's get the hell over to wherever you think we can find this stuff. Jace will take care of the goods you've got here."

"Most everything on the list, but I have no idea what you want with all this stuff..." Derek replied s he started to walk back up the ramp. He pulled the cargo manifest off the first container and looked it over one last time, indicating that about 90-percent of the items on he list had been acquired. He left the manifest for Jace, and then looked towards the speeder that Carson had 'acquired.' "I hope you didn't kill anyone I know for this..." he said, half jokingly, as he slid uncomfortably into the driver's side of the speeder. "Little tight," he bemoaned as he pushed back the seat slightly to adjust for his rather large stock. His hands moved over the controls to power the vehicle up as he waited for Carson to board.

Carson eyed Atio very seriously as he got into the passenger seat of the speeder. "I don't think the guy I killed for this thing would have been caught within a hundred feet of you, Derek. Which reminds me. You need to change. I told you to look like an executive for this trip, and you came looking like an impoverished nerf herder. What the hell would make any Stormtrooper believe that an impoverished nerf herder would be driving an LUX-3? This is an expensive speeder, you know." As if to emphasize the point, Rake ran his hand over the luxurious interior of the vehicle, dominated by sleek lines, leather, and wood paneling. "Just look at this thing. And you don't know the trouble I had to go through to keep from letting the guy bleed all over the upholstery." Carson shut the door to the speeder and settled into the luxuriously upholstered seat, letting the bucket seat swallow him up. It felt good to be off of his feat. Ya know, he thought, I could get used to this kind of plush lifestyle. He turned his attention back to the job at hand. "There's a suit in the trunk for you. It was..." he thought about the word, "difficult to find your size. Before we get into town, you need to change. And spray yourself with some cologne or something. You smell like a bantha."

Derek sneered as he considered the comments being made by the abrasive special forces Sergeant, wondering what he had done to invoke such harsh comments. He lifted his left arm attempted to sniff, but was immediately put off by the aroma. "Why didn't Parka tell me..." he muttered to himself a he accelerated the speeder through the mountain pass towards the nerby city of Votrad. "I haven't worn a suit since secondary school ... and that was only for my mother..." he complained as the towering spires of the city began to loom larger through the cockpit of the LUX-3 landspeeder. "I know of a local shipping business whose CEO was recently the victim of an unfortunate attack," he explained as the speeder entered the city limits, slowing as they approached the Imperial checkpoint at the entrance of the city. He could spot maybe two Imperial Stormtroopers and an RSSF agent standing in he road in front of them. "Stay cool, hot shot. I'll talk our way through this..." or at least he thought he would as he heard the plastoid armor of th Stormtrooper's glove tap against the side of the speeder.

Carson nodded, but he reached into his jacket's inside pocket, overtly digging for a cigarra. Of course, that was actually not what he was doing. He was unsnapping the shoulder holster of the Annihilator pistol and easing the butt of it slightly out for quick access. As it was silenced, he was pretty sure he could get all three of these guys without letting anybody nearby know, but he would prefer to keep it relatively calm and not upset the local authorities. "You better hope you do, or we might have trouble on our hands."

Derek lowered the transparasteel window of the LUX-3 speeder to allow the Stormrooper access to his identification, which indicated he was a member of Alderaan's diplomatic staff. He said nothing at first, but simply nodded his head at the Stormtrooper. He was attempting to act like a diplomat who had no time for such matters as a roadblock. The last thing he wanted was the aforementioned trouble.

The Stormtrooper looked over the identification for a moment before handing it off to the Ringali Shell Secuity Force officer who was technically in charge of the checkpoint. "This looks all right," the agent said quickly, not giving it much attention as he counted the number of speeders that were starting to pile up. Since the destruction of Cormond's spaceport a number of vessels had been landing in secondary spaceports like Votrad and the local security were not prepared for the traffic increase. <Click>"Move along,"<Click> the Stormtrooper barked as he threw the ID back at Derek.

Derek let out a relieved sigh as he depressed the accelerator on the LUX-3 and sent the speeder quickly through the city towards their eventual destination. The news of the death of Benjamin Nam'a'taht had been the top story on Imperial Holovision until the attack at the spaceport had taken over the coverage. "We're coming up on it now. Where exactly am I supposed to change?" he asked Rake as he pulled the speeder up to the main entrance of the Nam'a'taht shipping.

"Either the backseat or in an alley. I don't give a damn where you change. You sure this place will have a 775?" He looked skeptically at the building, which didn't exactly portray opulence. In fact, quite the opposite. In the heart of the commercial center, this place was an aesthetic fluke, a drab, block style building that looked out of place in the middle of the high rise transparasteel fronted buildings that surrounded it. He did not want to spend too much time shopping for a single ship, as they had many more to buy for the upcoming operation. "You're handling negotiations, by the way. I don't know the first thing about ships. Anybody asks, I'm your partner. Make up a name for our company. And try not to let me get stuck answering a bunch of technical questions about finance or operations, alright?" He slid out of the passenger seat and checked his weapons. He probably would not need them, but they were good to have anyway. The suit was not cut too tight, and it had cost a pretty penny for the tailoring, but it had worked out, the jacket falling over the shoulder holster easily, not leaving the telltale imprint of the firearm. He adjusted his tie and tried to look like a busy businessman as Derek changed behind the vehicle. "Hurry it up, Derek. Time's ticking away."

Derek emerged from behind the vehicle wearing a suit that was obviously not cut for a man of his 'stature.' The sleeves were all wrong and allowed too much of the shirt beneath it to be visible, whereas the pants could not be fully closed and needed to be supported by his belt, which did not match the attire. "Somehow I am less than optimistic about this..." he said as he took a step forward when suddenly the sound of ripping fabric could be heard as he split the trousers in the rear. He stood there silently for a moment hoping Carson had not heard any of the sound. He looked down nervously as he reached around to measure the extent of the damage. Hopefully he could make it to a chair before anyone would notice. "Let's get this over with," he muttered, as he walked towards the stairs to the main entrance where a reception droid waited to greet them. At least the shoes fit, he thought to himself.

Carson stared in shock as Derek emerged. The look on his face, usually devoid of all emotion, the picture of military bearing, broke into one of horror. The horror deepened when he heard the trousers rip, and he swore he thought he saw the seam of the fabric fly away from Derek's side about six inches before it came to rest against his leg. "Good grief, Atio. Next time I ask for your sizes, don't try to lie to me, please. Please." As Derek tried to pass him, he grabbed his arm, unwilling to go anywhere with him in this condition. They might as well forget buying anything if the purchasing party showed up looking like rabble. "No. There's got to be a tailor shop around here somewhere. We're just going to have to buy you a new suit. In the 'right size' this time, mister 'I'm only a 46 trouser.'" He glanced up and down the street and saw what he was looking for. There was a men's apparel shop just down the street, and he redirected Atio in that direction. "That way, Derek. And quickly, before that whole thing falls apart and you commit the greatest atrocity yet to occur in this war."

As Derek Atio walked down the street towards the clothier he began to sweat under the glaring heat of the Brentaal star. By the time he arrived at the shop his hair had become matted and the scent of the local wildlife seemed to emanate from him. "I need suit!" he exclaimed as he entered the men's shop, the tattered remnants of his pants immediately falling to his knees. "Of course you do," the tailor said as he hurriedly equipped him with a modestly priced suit. Using his Alderaan credit chip he paid for it, and began making his way back towards Carson. He was now properly dressed, but after walking the mile back and forth from the store to the shipping company he had developed quite the sweaty odor. "Now?" he said, with a frustrated sigh as he looked at Carson, wondering why they could not just make the buy.

Carson's nose wrinkled as Atio came towards him. He could literally smell him from twenty yards. He pulled a canister of spray on deodorant and a bottle of cologne out of his pocket and tossed it towards Atio. "Put those on. Heavily. Use the whole damn bottle." He stood there, watching like a frustrated parent to make sure Atio did as he was told. How the hell could this guy be a ship captain if he was completely unaware of anything? Carson hoped that Derek could fly better than he could... well, do anything else. After he was sure that Atio had masked his smell, he made his way towards the door of the shipping company, waiting patiently for the droid to give him the time of day.

"How may I help you, sir?" the droid asked him.

"I'm Mister Chu, and this is Mister Bentalli. We have an appointment regarding the sale of some of your vessels to our company, Core Freight and Cargo."

The droid seemed to think for a moment, as much a droid could, and then replied once it had consulted the system to verify. "Yes sirs. It appears that your appointment is on the 52nd Floor, room 5265. If you take the turbolift up, go down the hall and take a left and the room will be right in front of you."
Carson nodded, and then made his way towards the turbolift, where he waited patiently for Atio to catch up.

Derek though he now smelled like the sweet flowers of Berchest rather than a man, and it did not meet with his approval. "Do you think Parka will like this?" he asked as he stepped into the turbolift and ascended to the top level of the corporate headquarters. As he exited the lift he could see a full view of he surrounding city of Votrad and he was rather impressed. "These peple should have the ships we need," he quietly reassured Carson as he moved down the corridor towards the main office.

They were greeted by a diminutive Sullustan who was well dressed in a finely customized business attire of reds and blacks. "Good afternoon, gentleman," he began with a polite bow, his accent thick and somewhat difficult to understand at first. "As Lord Nam'a'taht is no longer available ... I will be speaking on behalf of the corporation," he explained, as he took a seat at the head of glossy black conference table. "My name is Arick Rol and I am the interim CEO," he explained as his black eyes scanned from Derek to Rake cautiously. They seemed dressed apropriately, though the rotund one smelled too much of perfume.

Derek smiled politely, trying not to crack a smirk at the Sullustan's thick speech pattern. He took a seat at the table and looked over towards him, his teeth biting at his lower lip to prevent an incident. Each time the Sullusan spoke he had an uncontrollable urge to laugh. "My name is Bentalli," he explained as he leaned forward on the table, sliding a small datapad across to him. "We require the following freighters for our new business operation..." he said with a firm nod, before waiting to see if his partner wanted to add anything.

Arick grabbed hold of the small datapad and his eyes went wide as he looked at the manifest. Immediately he started to laugh in his native Sullustan as he looked over the list. "You ... you can afford all these?" he asked shaking his head back and forth at them in disbelief. He had never expected them to make such an ambitious offer, but if this was legitimate than he would be able to continue the corporation in the absence of Lord Nam'a'taht and therefore found the possibility very intriguing.

Carson looked at his "partner" and then at the businessman. He had a little trouble understanding the guy, since he spoke in such heavily accented standard, but he finally managed to make out what he was saying. Now it was Carson's turn to laugh. Looking at Atio, he burst out with a hearty guffaw. Their credits were almost limitless, having at their disposal almost the entire net worth of Alderaan, which was more than substantial for such a purchase. Carson composed himself, the businessman staring at him, confused.

"Mr. Rol, I can assure you that we have the funds necessary for this purchase, and any other purchases that we desire to make. My associate and I would very much appreciate it if you cut the crap and got to the point, though. The bottom line is we wish to purchase, and you have items that we desire. Now you can laugh at the proposition and we can leave, or we can do business. I'm sure that my associate will agree."

Derek nodded his head in agreement, as he folded his arm in front of his chest and leaned back confidently. He placed his feet on top of the table and attempted to put his arms behind his head when suddenly the chair tilted backwards and sent him tumbling to the ground below. "Nobody worry. I'm OK," he said as he quickly stood up and began dusting himself off. Picking up his chair he quickly sat back down, hoping that it would not be viewed with disfavor.

Arick Rol shook his head at the display in front of him, and his attention shifted from Derek to Rake. "Mister Chu ... I am not spewing any ... crap," he explained as he rose from the table and slammed his fists down in frustration. "The five ships will be three million credits. I assume you have it or you wouldn't be here?" he asked, walking around and coming to a stop in front of them.

"Of course we have it!" Derek immediately retorted as he rose from his seat and confronted the much smaller Sullustan. "Three million ... too much," he said, shaking his head at the alien. "Two point five," he said, as he bent down to talk at eye level with the businessman. These ships had seen heavy use in their shipping fleet an he had no intention of paying top credit.

"No!" Arick replied as he got his face directly in front of Derek, insulted that the man felt the need to lower himself. "Two point seven five!" he replied angrily trying to squeeze out every last credit out of the five transports. He turned his back to them and started to walk away in order to express the finality of his statement.

Derek rose back up to full height and turned quickly to nod at Rake. They were not going to miss out on these ships and so he walked towards the Sullustan and extended his hand in a shake. "Very well. Two seven five," he said, as his sweat covered hand greasily grasped the Sullustan's smaller appendage.

Arick pulled back his hand, shaking it wildly to rid himself of the human's sweat. "Ugh," he said as he wiped his hand against Derek's suit jacket. For the credits there were some things even he would not do. He turned one final time to Derek, as he began to process the transfer the order of the five YZ-775 light freighters. "Do I want to know what you're going to do with these?" he asked, as he handed back the small datapad that now contained the title and registration of their newly acquired ships.

"No ... no you probably don't," Derek replied as he snatched the datapad and pocketed it. He gave Rake a firm pat on the back and smiled. "Looks like we're in business," he said proudly as he began to walk out of the meeting room. He made the mental note that he would have to travel to Ringali Station to pick up five crews but he doubted he would have much trouble with such a task. He had a bad feeling about taking on the Imperial Starfleet, but a bottle of Alderaan Ruge would provide him with some much needed courage.

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