Continuing the saga of the Wild Gundark crew:
Nisa pulled on her control yoke and told her passenger (and her wary crew), “Let’s get to work.” Similiv turned to the comm board as the ship’s nose turned the way Nisa directed it.
And she discovered that a colossal object blocked her entire forward viewport. Something grey. Something wedged shaped. Something over a kilometre and a half in length. Something ominous.
It seemed to them that the ship’s cabin temperature dropped several dozen degrees.
“An Imperial Star Destroyer!”
And now the continuation of the story based on the Star Wars RPG campaign:
The Star Destroyer, Nisa Dyaton noticed, had deactivated running lights. And most of its hull viewport were dark. Tell Sabarin finally commented, “The ship is brand new, probably fresh off the manufacturing drydock, with minimal security and maintenance crew. It’s awaiting inspection before a crew is assigned to it.”
Aleic quipped, “Well, this is Kuat.” Kuat Drive Yards, of course, was a major supplier of Imperial war machines, including the Star Destroyers and Imperial Walkers. And Sabarin, being a Kuati, would undoubtedly be very familiar with the workings of Kuat Drive Yards.
“Minimal security, eh?” said Aleic Karnsky, his eyebrows arching in excitement as the prospect of stealing… things.
Nisa glared at him, saying, “No!” Fully aware how difficult it was to land at any Kuat spaceport, orbital or dirtside, she turned to their passenger to ask him, “Sabarin, where do you want us to land?”
“Daver Kuat, the third planet from the sun.”
As First Mate Similiv Zalimort programmed the YZ-900 light freighter Wild Gundark‘s navicomputer to calculate for the microjump, Sabarin requested to use the ship’s communication gear to get in touch with someone on Daver Kuat, which he did in private. Soon after they were given permission to land at the city of Medeus in the temperate region of the northern hemisphere.
Nisa made a hyperspace jump in-system toward Daver Kuat, which didn’t take long.
As their ship headed for a landing, they saw that Medeus was a large township, or a small city surrounded by a green grassland. It was spread out over a large area, but none of its buildings were taller than ten levels. Most structures were stark and looked as if there were made with solid block of ferrocrete with small reflective windows.
But as they settled the ship down in one of the numerous circular landing bays, they saw dark-clad figures approaching on the ground.
“Captain Dyaton!” Sabarin said to Nisa gravely, upon seeing the figures through the viewport. “Please you have to hide me… and my cargo.”
“Why?” Nisa’s tone was dangerous. “We’ve done our part, sending you here.”
“Because if they find me you will never be paid.”
“Is this some sort of a threat?” Nisa’s hand was on her holster.
“Listen carefully,” Sabarin began to explain quickly. “I am of the Fifth House of Kuat. The heir of the Fifth House, my young lord, is terminally ill, and will die soon. I am bringing with me a medical salvation for my young lord. And the Third House will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.”
“Wonderful,” Similiv said throwing his hands up at the cockpit threshold. “A political feud.”
Sabarin turned to Similiv abruptly, and said with more conviction in his voice, “They will have no qualms over killing me, taking my cargo and sending you on your way without any payment… if they’re not in the mood in the next few minutes to kill you to cover up their crimes.”
Nisa’s hand eased off her blaster, and she sighed audibly, though Similiv thought she actually grunted softly.
Meanwhile in the common room, the Jawa named Wayang Kulit finally finished rewiring the droideka. He activated the droid, awaited eagerly with some inaudible chattering… and promptly fried the robot’s brain into carbon, which caused his companion Groo McShae to laugh uncontrollably. “I should have brought a holocam!”
As Kulit threw the smoking droid’s head in frustration at the nearest wall, Nisa, Similiv, Aleic and Sabarin strode in from the cockpit. Nisa ordered Similiv and Aleic to hide Sabarin and his crate into a maintenance access tube near the engine section and told Groo to throw in the activated sensor jammer they found with the droidekas in the tube with him. As Nisa closed the panel, she told Sabarin, “The heat and EM emission from the engine will help the jammer to block their sensors.”
Less than thirty seconds later, the dark figures had entered the ship and identified themselves as Third House Security. They wore black jumpsuits, with padded armour on the chest, forearms and thighs. Their boots were heavy. Only their faces could be seen through their round shiny helmets with a leather flare covering the back of their necks. Similiv thought they looked angry and smelt very much like bureaucrats.
And to him angry bureaucrats had less appeal than single-minded professional soldiers.
“We are Third House Security,” their leader announced with a tinge of disdain for the crew of the Gundark. “We have full authorisation from the Kuat government to search this ship for contraband as per the rules of Articles of Spaceport Security of Kuat.”
Nisa gestured her head allowing them access and calmly said, “Go nuts.”
As a scanning crew boarded the ship, sweeping the decks and bulkheads with they portable scanners, the leader did a double take as he saw Kulit working on the droideka. “A droideka? Here?”
Similiv assured him, “The droideka is deactivated and badly damaged. We got it off a junkyard. Our droid specialist Wayang Kulit here is reprogramming and rebuilding it to be our maid.” On cue, Kulit waved at the security leader.
“Such a machine is dangerous, no matter what reprogramming is done to it,” said the leader. He turned to Nisa and told her, “We will have to confiscate this thing.”
Kulit was about to object, but Groo held him back. They called more security personnel to cart away the peices of the droid, even the head that Kulit wanted to keep as a souvenir. After his scanning crew conferred with him, confirming that they found nothing else of importance on the ship, the leader bid them farewell and told them, “Enjoy your stay in Medeus.”
Aleic called to them as they left, “Next time bring flowers.”
A moment later, Aleic, Groo and Similiv were helping Sabarin out of his hiding place. He told each of them, “Thank you.”
“What now,” asked Nisa.
“I will have to go out,” he said. “Wait for three hours and he would have 20,000 credits ready for you.”
“Wait a second! You’re leaving just like that?” Aleic asked incredulously. He turned to Nisa and said, “He’s going to bolt and it’ll be the last we hear of him.”
“You’ll have my cargo here as collateral,” Sabarin looked at his large cryogenic crate, still active after all these weeks on the run. “I assure you I’ll be back for it. I will die for it.”
With that Nisa nodded, and unarmed, Tell Sabarin strode down the ramp and out into Medeus.
“So, Cap’n,” Similiv said to Nisa as she closed the ramp back up. “You think he’ll be on the level with us in three hours?”
“My gut says he will.”
Three and a half hours later, there was still no sign of Sabarin.
“For all we know Tell Sabarin might be an Imp lover that would double cross us at the drop of a hat,” said Similiv, gazing at his captain. “For all we know, all he wants to is get back here in one piece, and blow things up in some Kuati Noble House war. And that crate is just an excuse.”
Nisa walked into the cargo bay followed by Similiv, and pulled up her comlink. “Groo, are you in the cockpit?”
“Yes, sir. As per our agreement, I’m taking a look at the sensor display hardw-”
“I need you,” she cut off the Duros sensor technician, “to scan the cryogenic crate in the cargo bay with the ship’s sensors.”
“Uh… okay.” There was a pause, then Nisa’s comlink buzzed again, “Captain, sir… there’s a…, it’s… I think…. you should see this for yourself.”
After a brief jog they were crowding around the sensor board. On the main screen, there was a clear reading of a Human curled up in a fetal position within the crate.
But before they could decide what to do next, Groo’s sensors blared loudly and with a flick of a switch, the Duros silenced the alarm. Nisa asked, “What do you have?”
“Something just entered their landing bay through the side door.” The green skinned Duros hit a button and the main sensor displayed a droid with four arms (which excited Kulit for obvious reasons), an unfamiliar design for any of them. It was sneaking up toward the Wild Gundark looking around furtively and acting suspiciously. Nisa said, “Aleic!”
“Say no more,” he said as he sprinted for the gun turret.
Suddenly, the droid called out to them via internal comlink, “Hello all! Can you hear me? I am N4-M8, and I am a mercenary.” Nisa looked at Similiv with an expression that said, this was getting weirder and weirder by the hour. “Perhaps I could trouble you for some shelter?”
Similiv tried to stop Kulit from running down the ramp threatening him with a restraining bolt, but Groo considered letting the droid aboard. Groo told Nisa, “He is kinda cute and all.”
“I’m goin’ down to meet him, Cap’n,” Similiv winked at Nisa, and proceeded to disembark from the ship, his blaster pointed forward at the droid.
But as soon as Similiv arrived near the droid, the side door exploded in ball of flame and debris. Four thuggish brutes (or brutish thugs, however you’d like to look at it) of various species appeared, striding menacingly into the landing bay through the smoke. The lead brute raised his voice at the four-armed droid, “I am to take you into custody for owing my employers credits, for some skillware you installed in your droid brain.”
N4 countered somewhat nonchalantly, “I owe nothing; I paid for everything! It is not my fault that you do not recognize Bulporst dinars as legitimate currency. I assure you it is.”
Similiv fired a warning shot over the thugs’ heads, yelling, “No one’s doing anything until I get some answers!”
A second later, the thugs returned fire. Happy at this turn of events, Similiv pulled no punches. His shot hit a target squarely on the neck. N4-M8 pivoted toward the “bad guys”, planted his feet wide, and let rip with his massive gun arm, essentially just spraying fire randomly. The spray razed the walls behind the goons, missing them completely. The goons look at each other with amusement… until one bolt hits the lead thug and ripped him in two at his midsection. N4 said with sudden welling of pride in his electronically generated voice, “Ah, I knew the installed skillware would do the trick!”
Similiv noticed that Aleic in the Wild Gundark‘s turret swung the weapons toward the brutes. He laughed, “Go Aleic! Carve ’em up.”
And Aleic fired once.
A small mushroom cloud blossomed violently in the landing bay; the goons were thrown back, lost in the dust and flame. Some large debris was flung toward Sim and N4 amongst the thick dust.
Sim danced around to evade the debris. N4 looked up, sidestepped and a large rock slammed down on the ground where he was standing on.
When the dust cleared, they saw that half the hangar had been destroyed and they could see the sunset outside. Sifting through the debris, Sim found a single dismembered arm holding a Merr-Sonn DeathHammer blaster pistol. He removed the arm and kept the weapon for himself.
Back in the cockpit, Groo quickly reported to Nisa, “I’m reading one contact inbound! Flying our way!” Nisa then ordered everyone, including N4, aboard.
After telling N4 to sit down and shut up in the common room, Nisa read the comm logs to read the last frequency used by the ship’s comm: the frequency Sabarin used to contact whoever it was he was supposed to have met. She made the call, got a connection and introduced herself as the freighter captain who conveyed Tell Sabarin to Kuat, and asked to know where he is.
“Tell Sabarin,” the voice on the other side of the comlink said, “never arrived. We’ve been trying to locate him. It seemed that he disappeared en route to here.”
“He owes us money. This better not be a trick.”
“I assure you it is not. Perhaps we should meet so we can pay you for your troubles.”
“Sounds good,” said Nisa with some enthusiasm. Finally, we can get off this planet and get back to business. “Where should we meet?”
“How about at the-” and the sound of blasters rapid-firing from the comm speakers cut off their contact’s voice. The transmission went dead, and Nisa’s blood went cold. In the co-pilot’s seat Similiv muttered, “That doesn’t sound very good.”
Cursing, Nisa lifted the ship off out of the smoking rubble of a landing bay and into the darkening skies over the city. (Kulit started to climb onto N4 in excitement trying to fiddle with the droid’s wires.). The YZ-900 freighter soared into the air and headed out of Medeus. But soon, it was apparent that one vessel was tailing them: a Kuat System Engineering Firespray-31 patrol vessel.
“Blast! If that’s Kuat Security- ,” Similiv cursed. Nisa nodded and continued the train of thought, “There’s no point running away.” They would dispatch many ships out to intercept them at a moment’s notice if they tried to flee Daver Kuat now. And that’s not even counting the cooperation of the local Imperial forces, or the independent bounty hunters coming after them if they did escape successfully and Kuat posted a bounty on them.
Seconds later, they were hailed, “This is Kuat Security patrol ship Pauldron Four. Stand down and land. You are needed for questioning.”
“Complying,” grunted Nisa.
As Nisa complied and brought the Gundark to hover over a grassy field, she noticed an emblem on the side of the patrol ship: Third House! The bad guys!
She warned Similiv at the co-pilot seat, who pulled on his controls and deftly evaded a sudden burst of deadly weapons fire from the Firespray. They had meant to destroy the Gundark! Aleic, still at the gun turret returned fire, his bolts striking home. Hull plates exploded, and electrical arcs were discharged all over the Firespray. It tumbled for the ground, on fire and discharging an uncomfortable amount of sparks and smoke. Similiv gunned the throttle and the Gundark speedily left the area and the disabled Third House ship as it ploughed into the grassland violently.
“That was close,” Nisa said. “Good shooting, Aleic.”
“Luckily that wasn’t Kuat Security, Cap’n,” Similiv said in relief.
“Tell me about it.” Nisa was busy trying to triangulate the location of the transmission signal of Tell’s contacts, before the blaster fire over the comlink interrupted them. She determined quickly that the signal originated from an island on Daver Kuat.
She showed the location on the map to Similiv and asked, “Can you get us there quickly?”
He piloted the ship across the sea to reach the island in the early morning light, maintaining an altitude of merely fifty metres. Many times he looked at the sensor board to see if anyone was following them, but they were alone.
The island was small, perhaps only two kilometres in diameter. it was almost entirely covered by a forest of tall green trees and had a mountain jutting up in the middle of it. From afar, Groo determined that there were not any communities or population centres there. But that did not mean there would not be anyone there.
“Where do we land?” Similiv asked Nisa. She studied the dark form of the island as they approached at a slight angle to it, so they would eventually see the far side of the island that was blocked by the mountain.
“Is that smoke?” Nisa peered into the moonlit darkness.
At the far side of the mountain at the centre of the island, there was a cave with flames and smoke billowing out of it. Similiv piloted the Wild Gundark down to the rocky platform immediately before the cave entrance.
Meanwhile in the common room, Kulit was still trying to attach a restraining bolt onto N4, with humorous results, causing Aleic to split his sides laughing. This ended when Nisa walked out of the cockpit and pointed a blaster at the Jawa’s head. “Not now.” Kulit begrudgingly complied.
Weapons ready, they all cautiously descended from the freighter. The Gundark‘s external floodlights illuminated the entire area, allowing them some comfort.
As they investigated the cave, they noticed that there were medical computers and bacta tanks installed there burning in flames and smashed to pieces, very recently. Similiv pointed to a burning Fifth House flag on the cave wall. Aleic nodded in agreement, “Looks like they have attacked the Fifth House already.”
Then they see a Human in lab coat, bloodied, and pinned down under heavy equipment on the floor. As they move to aid him, two droidekas with Third House emblem burst out from the thick smoke. Similiv rushed to the wounded person and Nisa and Aleic released a torrent of blaster bolts on the attacking machines, felling them quickly. They were grateful that the droidekas had no shield generator.
Nisa joined Similiv, and tried to apply first aid, attempting to stop the man from bleeding. Despite applying the tranks and coagulants, there had been too much blood lost. The man died in Nisa’s arms.
They found no hint of Tell Sabarin’s body. But he did find a datapad that displayed the words:
Duke Tell Lenoan
Diagnosis: Klar’s Disease.
Estimated Time of Death: 2 days
Note: We have the Duke. We have the donor. We need to get them together so we can perform the transfusion. If we don’t do this in time, the Third House will destroy us in all but name.
P.S. The 20,000 credits is ready for the Duke’s transportation crew.
Who was Tell Lenoan? They could not guess what the entire message was about, but it seemed that Tell Sabarin had his contacts prepare their payment for them.
When everyone had returned to the Wild Gundark, Similiv suggested that they contact the Fifth House themselves and finish the deal quickly.
Nisa tried reaching the Fifth House’s general comm line, and was put through to a woman. She told them, “Why are you calling us over a public channel? It is dangerous for you to contact the Fifth House in this manner. If the ones who captured your passenger, those of the Third House, are listening in… then your lives will be at risk.”
Quickly, the person on the other side of the comm told Nisa to meet them in Landing Bay 239 back at Medeus. “We’ll be waiting there at noon local time tomorrow.”
Then the Fifth House woman cut off the transmission abruptly.
The confused N4 remarked, “Could someone please explain the situation to me? Who is this ‘Duke’ and who was that organic who ceased functioning outside the ship just now?”
Ignoring the newcomer droid, the worried Groo asked, “You think that communiqué was really bad for our health?”
A grinning Similiv replied, “Probably, Greenskin… but we wouldn’t want our lives to be boring now would we?”
Finally after much contemplation, Nisa grimly said, “OK! We have a meet, but get ready for anything this time. We have about 12 hours till the meet, and I want to be alive for it.”