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Old 05-03-2006, 02:14 PM   #82
machievelli
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Confrontation

It looked like an easy prize. One bumbling Corellian CEC J8 class medium cargo carrier with a Corellian Courier in escort. The planet Selden had reported a massive outbreak of Iridian plague, and the first ships with the necessary vaccine was ahead of them. The vaccine was worth it’s weight in Corellian fire opals on the black market.

The Pirate, an old Coruscanti Raptor class Escort slipped from the asteroid field, launching her four fighters. The fighters were a more eclectic mix. The newest was A Naboo A4 Streak. Two were Corellian Rampants, and the last was an ancient Alderaani Night Hawk.

The fighters dived in, headed for a choice morsel.

*****

“Three, two, one, disconnect.” The pilot of the Courier ordered, ramming the throttle forward.

*****

The sensor screened blossomed. The freighter seemed to be coming apart in front of their eyes. Had it exploded? No, now there were five blips instead of two, and three of them were arcing back toward the fighters. One was charging instead for the mother ship. The transponders on every one of those ships came alive at the same instant.

“Jedi!” The sensor officer screamed.

“Get us out of here!” The captain ordered.

The Courier fired a missile. The captain blanched. He’d never seen a missile that fast before. At least 25% light speed. Must be one of the brand new Corellian Spearfish.

The missile slammed into the side, buckling the hull, but didn’t explode.

“Ha!” The captain roared, waving his fist. “Get us out of here before they know we’re still here!”

“Just a second.” The navigator finished his calculations, and the escort vanished into hyper space. Unperturbed, the courier turned on a wing, joining her fellows. The fighters were shredded, and cables snapped out to drag the emergency support pods back to the cargo ship, which had turned to meet them. Suited personnel climbed out, pulling the pods in one by one, and the cargo hatch closed.

Master Hobart came in after the bay was re-pressurized, followed by his new Padawan learner Sienna Dodonna. They went to the pod that had come from the Streak. The pilot wearing a full helmet glared at them and waved a pistol threateningly.

Sienna smiled, then drew, her blade punching through the transparisteel, into the pistol. She jerked, and the blade sliced out of the cockpit, chopping the pistol in half in the process. She pulled the exterior release handle, and smiled again as the cockpit canopy came open. “Any more acts of defiance? Please?”

He raised the uninjured hand, and before she could react a blade shot out of it and was imbedded in his head.

The helmet revealed that he was a Barabel.

The other three were Barabel as well. None survived. One had been injured and bled out. The other two had taken their own lives.

“I thought that one would have just given up.” The girl grumped. “It’s not like he had a chance to escape.”

“Tight operational security.” Hobart replied. “If we can’t interrogate them, we can’t find out hiding place. They think.”

They went forward. The flight crew nodded at them, and the communications officer turned. “We got it, Master Hobart.”

“Send it to all units.” The Young Jedi nodded, tapping a button, then hit the all units key.

“So. Weslen.” One voice, another female replied. “Are you coming with?”

“No. I will let the children flit along on those one while the old man follows behind, Padawan Solo.”

“As you will.” The voice went from light to business-like. “All couriers, match your nav computers to mine. Prepare for hyper jump.” Hawk Flight dropped one wing, and the four small ships rotated onto the new course. A moment later they were gone.

The Cargo vessel Master Hontu turned onto the same course, and entered Hyper.

“ETA 2 days.” The pilot reported.

“They’ll be there in 17 hours.” Sienna sighed. “I wish I was with them.”

“That is why you are still a Padawan leaner, even with your gift for conciliation.” Hobart replied calmly. “That and the way you dress.”

“There is that.” She gave him a gamin grin. A number of marines who had been on the assault on station Alpha 4, especially 2nd squad second platoon of the 7th Marine Assault Force would have recognized the 19 year old by that grin alone. Her eyes twinkled. “But what’s wrong with the way I dress?” She asked, throwing her arms to the side. Am I not a girl?” She waved toward her clothes. The skirt, which on most Jedi was merely a robe had been slit up both sides to her hips, and then folded into Vees front and back, exposing quite shapely legs. The sleeves had been cut off at the shoulders, and the vest...

He sighed. “Sienna. The way you dress anyone with eyes in their head can tell you’re female. And any human man that sees you is well aware that he is a man.” Hobart closed his eyes. Leave it to Soo-chin to saddle him with this girl! “However we Jedi try to be a little more... circumspect.”

“As my sister the Navy Captain used to say before she became stodgy, if you got it flaunt it!”

He shook his head again. “Sienna I spoke with the Marines after the Alpha 4 attack.”

“What did those dear boys have to say?” She looked at him with that innocent expression she did so well.

“Those dear boys all seemed to think you wanted to date them! Right up to the Master Gunnery Sergeant old enough to be your grandfather!”

“All I did was say what Grandpapa always does.” She grinned again. “I never understood why you would ask a stupid question like ‘do you want to live forever‘! Most people I know would say ‘hell yes’! But Marines?” She chuckled. “Ask them something like that and they charge!”

“As soon as you can show me some propriety, we can discuss perhaps assigning you as a Padawan Teacher.” He said reprovingly.

“Yes Master.” He left. The two Padawan at the controls chuckled.

“Cold shower or meditation?” The pilot asked.

“Both.” Sienna said.

They laughed.

*****

The four ships dropped out in the Weslen system. There wasn’t much there, a lackluster little K0 star, three planets that looked as if they were embarrassed by their proximity, and a space station.

“Receiving data.” Padawan Meeri reported. Breia looked at the screen.
Padawan Sani of Naboo was tucked in tight on her left, Master Gretu of Triseki, Padawan Yaka of Ithor echeloned on her right. A standard finger four formation.

“Quick conference, people, and we’ll go in. The station is owned by a Twi-lek corporation, or was the last I heard. A way station between Bilbringi and Bogden and the Corellian Run. Anyone else got better data?”

“Sold it was two years ago.” Yodai replied from Master Gretu of Triseki. “Coruscant company Wayfarer Enterprises.”

“Wayfarer. That’s pretty new.” Padawan Carola Mortai of Alderaan added from [/i]Padawan Yaka of Ithor[/i]. They only started trading on the Stock market right before the Sulishti mess.”

“Has anyone noticed that the company is not run by humans?” Padawan Reyes of Corellia asked. “How many companies registered out of Coruscant are run by aliens?”

“Sixty-two.” Breia and Yodai chorused.

“That many?”

“Center of Galactic Trade Alliance Coruscant has become.” Yodai said. “Register on Coruscant, makes you important some think.”

“All right people. Reset transponders. Meeri, pick a number between one and ten. Everyone pick one of your own. Whoever is closest goes in first. Remember, we’re just honest independent couriers doing our jobs, so act like the straights, okay?”

It came down to Reyes, the newest of the Padawan teachers going first, followed by Yodai, Carola, and Breia last. She watched as each ship peeled out of the formation. “I think you jigger the numbers when I ask you to do that?”

“Do what?” Meeri asked.

“I ask you to pick a number on these joint missions, and if mine is even close someone else goes first anyway.”

“Would I do that to you?” The Ithorian asked with a hurt expression.

“In a heartbeat.”

Meeri shook her head. “I am only surprised that it took you so long to figure it out.”

“All right, just for that I hide the Calla berry syrup!”

“That’s mean.”

Breia shook her head. Yaka had been serious, and careful around humans. Meeri... She was a practical joker. The deadpan delivery was so well done you could rarely tell when she was joking. Her first such jape, replacing Breia’s favorite Fire Spice syrup with Alderaan honey Breia had at first merely assumed was a mistake in commissary services. When it had been replaced with Corellian Night Bloom midway through, that first trip she had finally figured it out.

“Time.” Meeri smoothly accelerated. She touched the com panel, looking at the heads up display. “Independent Echani Courier Flitter-bird requesting docking approach.”

Flitter-bird. Docking bay 17 is open. Welcome to station Kroomerik.”

“They didn’t change the name registry.” Breia mused. I wonder why? Where is the target?”

Meeri checked the scanner. The limpet transmitter that they had fired into the Raptor ’s hull came back just fine. “All systems down. Docking bay 19. Two over starboard.”

“Can we access their nav computer again?”

“I would advise against it.” Meeri commented. “We had best wait until they power back up for departure.”

Breia sighed. Patience was not one of her virtues.

The station was a large wheel about five kilometers across. A docking bay was set about every 100 meters along her 16 kilometers of hull, broken by four huge storage bays. Ever since they had contacted the station, they had been bombarded by the shops of the station. If they had needed anything, it could have been bought here. Breia’s face grew grim as an ad for a ships’ chandler came up. One hell of a lot of ship board and personal weapons were being sold out of that place. She called down for a list, and leaned back, looking it over.

“Aren’t the Merr Sohn G14s on the restricted list?”

“Yes.” Meeri looked at the photo on the pad. The G14 was a heavy projectile rifle that would put a round through the ship they were on. “They are supposed to be military and military export only.”

“And look at this. Arkanian missiles I have never even heard of!”

Meeri looked again. “GT17s.” She looked at Breia with alarm. “Those are so new not even the Arkanian Navy has them!”

“Verpine hyper rifles, Cortech grenades in every flavor-”

“Humans taste grenades?”

“An expression.” Breia looked at her sourly. She could tell she had been twitted yet again. Look at this.” She handed the pad over as they docked.

Another ad was now displayed. It was for a ship retailer. The ad was below a ship that shouldn’t even bee seen yet. “A CEC Swift!” Meeri looked up. “The Swift isn’t even completed yet!”

“I know. Dad is still flying the test models.

“Yet this... ‘Delivery can be arranged by the end of the year‘.”

Breia tapped the pad against her hand. “What do we have bound for Weslen?”

“Nothing. But we do have a package meant for them.” Meeri tapped the logo for the arms dealer they had been checking. “And a few additions to the package would not be amiss.”

“Then we had best get dressed for out little play.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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