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
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
"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
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
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
"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.