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Old 05-05-2006, 12:28 PM   #84
machievelli
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
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Investigation

“Captain Breia Magulagi.” Breia said, handing over the ship ID chit. The customs man nodded, slotting it into his reader, and scanned it quickly. Breia had assumed the customs check was merely proforma, but it hadn’t been the case. He checked crew medical records, last port of call in case of disease, and cargo.

“Just the one crate?” He asked as a coffin sized box was lowered.

“Yes. Addressed to Cariali Chandlers. We aren’t going near Taris because of a problem my shipmate has with their customs officials, so we are going to see if they’ll accept here, and trans-ship it.”

“There’s been a lot of that. Ever since Taris decided to turn their continent into one massive city. And their immigration policies.” The customs officer looked at the sullen looking Ithorian with the woman. “If you’d like, I will hold it in the bonded storage area while you contact them.”

“Thank you.” Breia took back the updated chip, slipping it in the pouch before pocketing it. “Where is Cariali located?”

“North 17 right beside the Stars end Cantina.”

“Thank you.” She motioned for Meeri and they walked into the passageway.

“I don’t feel right about leaving the ship unguarded.” Meeri whispered.

“I agree. But A4 will watch over it for us.” Breia replied. The Transit car station was ahead, and she bought two all day chits. The chits slid into the reader, and they boarded the next car.

Behind them, a Dug stuck up his head, then slipped into the bay. He smacked his lips at the sight. A Corellian CEC Shadow class Courier! It might be four years old, but the design was superb! He moved to the entry ramp, and slid a box over to stand on. His burglar tools were laid out, and he looked at them carefully. Then he selected one, and began tinkering with the lock. When the first did not open the ship, he patiently set it aside, picking yet another slimmer tool. After a few moments, there was a hiss, and the ramp dropped down. Grinning, he trundled up the ramp. It closed after him.

*****

The cantina was dark, close, and for Breia who didn’t spend a lot of time in them, exciting. “Want to try some Corellian Red ale?” She asked. “Yaka liked it.”

Meeri glanced at he. “Yaka undoubtedly didn’t tell you that alcohol has no effect on us.”

“Really.”

“Yes, we get our ‘buzz’ as it were from sugar water.”

“Right.” Breia expected that she was being twitted again, looking around. Over in the corner she could see Padawan learner Samsun. but where was...

A hand came up, and Yodai pulled himself up onto Samsun‘s shoulder, growling. Then he climbed down and inhaled a bowl of pretzels. Samsun looked as disreputable as could be, unlike Breia’s persona of a slightly tatty ex-officer. In another corner Padawan Reyes looked even more disreputable. He had his hair uncombed, shaggy, and wore a thermal undershirt with an open neck, Black Corellian Navy uniform pants, and a black vest over it all. All he needs is a Corellian Blood stripe and he’d be perfect. She thought. Carola was propping up the bar almost dead center, looking as if she’s had more than enough to drink.

Breia scanned the bar as her character would. “Meeri, find a table. I’m going next store.”

“As you wish Captain. I‘m thirsty.” Meeri snarled. She was doing the disgruntled employee very well. The martinet she was pretending to be would take care of business first. And she wouldn’t take crap from a crewman. “And if you’re drunk again, I’ll bloody leave you!” She roared. The crowd grew silent.

Meeri didn’t turn. Her hands clenched as if she wished they wee around her captain’s throat, then her head drooped. “Yes, Captain.”

Breia glared at them, then spun and stalked out. Cariali’s was a good sized shop, and she ran her eyes over the display. The law had obviously slipped on the station. At least half of what was there in plain sight was illegal. She walked in, looking around.

A Selonian looked up from the sales terminal, walking across. “Greeting Captain.”

“I have a package for your establishment on Taris, but I am not putting up with racist crap.”

“Ah. From Coronet?”

She pretended to be surprised. The Selonians lived on another world in the Corellian system. “Nearby. The Westfall hills.”

“Nice country.” The sales being said. “Let me see.” He took the chip, went to his desk, and fed it into a reader. “I can take it and send it on. However you cannot be paid full price. You do know the rules.”

“Of course I do.” Breia snarled. “Just log it off and as soon as I pick up a cargo, I’m out of here back toward the Core.”

“Perhaps you can carry something for me? I can pay you well for it.”

“How much cubage?”

“300 cubic meters.”

“We only have about 70 free.”

“Carrying part of the consignment would to pay as well of course, but we can negotiate.” The being handed her a pad, and only nightly games of cards against Meeri kept her eyebrows from rising. Whatever it was, it was either highly illegal, or extremely dangerous.

“What is it?”

“Something you need not concern yourself with considering what you are being paid.” He replied.

Illegal then. She pretended to consider. “All right. Have it sent down to bonded storage when you pick up the package from me. My ship is in bay 19.”

They traded thumbprints, his on an invoice accepting delivery, hers on one accepting consignment.

She walked back to the cantina, ducking as a Toydarian slammed into a bulkhead, and slid down it like a slug. Meeri was at the bar, drinking from a tankard, and growling. Then she turned, addressing the crowd. As she did, her arm caught a Dug, flipping the small being across to slam into another place.

“Washing! How many times do you have to scrub a deck to make it clean?” She turned back and forth as if scanning her audience. “Seven times in three days she had me do it. Seven!”

Breia watched, her face cold. Yodai was bouncing across the compartment, and as he reached the bar Meeri snatched him up. “Wha’s this?”

“Put down my pet, you... Freak!” Samsun had leaped to his feet, charging across the compartment. Meeri flicked the small being aside, and met his rush. They bowled across the deck, people dodging out of the way. They knocked Carola off her feet, fetching up against the table Reyes was at. He leaped up, dumping his beer all over them.

There was a slamming sound, and everyone froze. A Human stood at the bar, looking around mildly. In his hands he held a Coruscanti stun blast, a riot control weapon. As big as he was, he didn’t need it. Only a fool would riot when that huge cold face was nearby. The tankard he held was crumpled by the pressure of his arm as he had slammed it down again.

“I will not have fighting on my station.” He said in a surprisingly soft voice. “If you want to fight, take it off the station. Preferably without a suit or ship.” He walked over, stepping over Carola. “What is that?” He jerked a thumb at Yodai, who was leaping back toward Samsun.

“Mandalorian Bat-ear.” Samsun answered.

“Does it have it’s shots?” When he didn’t get an answer, he added, “From the look on your face, I would say no.” He shook his head. “You can pick it up from quarantine when you lift. You and our drunk friend are spending tonight in the cells. as for you.” He glared at Reyes. “You know station rules about liquids on the deck. Accident is one thing, spilling it intentionally is another. Want a fine or the night in the can?”

Reyes said a word. Something in Hutt that meant father of the same mother. The Constable looked at him mildly. “While Hutt are hermaphrodites, they can’t do that. At least not to themselves. So tonight you get to study them in detail. The only space left is with a Hutt.”

He motioned toward the entryway. But before anyone could move, Carola rolled up, and vomited all over the Constable’s uniform. He looked down at her, shaking his head in disgust. “Tonight is definitely not my night. You, linguist. Pick her up.”

Breia stepped aside, watching her compatriots being dragged off to jail. She considered what she had seen. Someone had found out something important, so they had needed to meet. But why was Yodai trying to get into medical? She went to the bar, and bought a drink.

“Seems like a quiet night.”

“Your crewman shouldn’t drink if she can’t handle it.” The barkeep told her. I’ve never seen Ithorians drink half a gallon of sugar-water and still stand.”

“Sugar water?”

“Didn’t you know? It’s like that 151 proof jet-fuel the Echani bottle to Ithorians. Usually they just fall on the floor and sleep it off. Yours got mean drunk instead.” He shook his head. “That’s a first.”

Breia finished her beer, and strolled out. She checked the station map, found the drunk tank, and headed there. A Constable stopped her checking his log.

“Oh, yeah. Those four. Down below in the cells.” He motioned toward a door. “Herman will escort you.” Herman was another human, looking like a troll in the lighting. He grunted, unlocked the door, and led her down a flight of steps.

The cells were dank and dark. If she didn’t know better, she would have thought it was one of the old dungeons that had been built millennia before on Corellia. All seven were filled with at least three prisoners in each. She passed Reyes who shared a cell with a Hutt and Samsun , then in the next cell was Carola Meeri and a Dug. She crossed her arms, tapping her foot. Meeri looked up, eyes bleary.

“Again.” Breia said.

“Sorry Captain.”

“Got anything to say for yourself?”

Meeri looked at her, one eye dropping in a slow wink. “No excuse.”

“You’ll be scrubbing the head when you get back to the ship.” She warned. “And I’ll take the fine out of your pay.” She turned to Herman. “Keep her overnight. I’ll pay her fine on the way out.”

She paid, marching down the passageway to the tram. Whatever information had prompted the ‘meeting’ hadn’t been passed yet.

She came to the ship, opening the ramp. A4 was waiting her, photoreceptors trained on her.

“Captain, we have an uninvited guest.”

She nodded, following the droid into the cargo compartment. She had gotten this one from a courier captain who had been sick of it. For a while she had wanted to get rid of it herself. When she told it not to do something, or berated it for interrupting, the damn thing would sulk. The sight of a 200 kilo metal and plastic spider moping around because it’s feeling were hurt was a sight you had to see to believe.

The A4 series droids were designed for shipboard use by the Corellian Navy, but had been recalled because of quirks in the programming. The main problem the A4s had was that it downloaded everything in it’s search for knowledge, meaning that it’s main memory core had to be downloaded or cleaned an average of once every other month. Most Naval personnel didn’t like the problem.

There was another problem. The series had a distressing tendency to find ways around problems not suggested by normal procedure. The fact that she found 80% of this A4s suggestions better than the Book hadn’t swayed the navy in the slightest.

Breia on the other hand found it refreshing to have a constant store of information on hand. Instead of wiping the banks periodically, she had instead had a chip writer installed in the damn thing and every time the memory banks got too full, it would download all programs it considered nonessential and stored them in a holder that looked like an egg sac under it‘s rump.

What A4 had retained for constant use was astonishing, suggesting to her that the droid might be self aware. If so it was a first. Except for some self protection software, the machine shouldn’t worry about itself at all.

When it had accessed a prototype B9 Police droid on Station Delta 4 a few years before it had also downloaded all of it‘s defense and offense protocols. That had caused the addition of a stun rod, a Corellian S class rifle with frangible bullets, and a roll of restraint tape. On this mission, it had decided that it could watch the ship for her, and she had agreed more to shut it up than anything else.

The Dug was wrapped like a fly in a spider’s web, and was hanging by a thread of restraint tape from an overhead beam. He glared at her.

“That thing threatened me!” He squealed.

“It did?” She looked at A4. The two front legs of the droid had come up at sharp angles in front of it, and the pedipalps which were actually tool using extensions were clicking together. She should have never told the damn thing about real spiders. It must have downloaded everything in the memory banks about them. The legs and pedipalp movements were right out of a Hook-spider threat reaction. For something big enough to eat you if it were alive, it did look dangerous.

“Maybe it felt you didn’t belong?” She asked. “Well, before I toss you out of the airlock, have you any last words?”

“No!” It shivered, looking past her at the droid.

“Why not? Obviously you came aboard to steal my ship. Where I come from that is a death sentence offense.” She pretended to consider. “However if you told me who sent you and why?”

“No one send.“ He answered. “Cariali’s would buy if I could get it.”

Ah. She left the compartment, coming back with a pot of tea and a chair. She poured, leaning back against the bulkhead. “Then tell me everything you know about Cariali’s business here.” She nodded toward A4. “He has a lie detector built in. The first lie, I warn you, the second?” She jerked a thumb toward the hatchway “You learn to breath vacuum.”


'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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