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Old 05-07-2006, 11:52 AM   #88
Local curmudgeon
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Master Hontu came out of hyper, and approached the station. Sienna was on watch, hands on the controls. “This is Freighter Coruscant Glory on approach.” She reported.

Coruscant Glory do you have cargo for this station?“

“Negative. We are just stopping to load additional stores. and some R&R.“

“Very good, Coruscant Glory. You are cleared for bay 40. Welcome to station Kroomerik.”

“Thank you Kroomerik. Coruscant Glory clear.” She tapped the annunciator, and the pilot came forward. “Be ready.” She warned.

Aft Master Hobart and the assault team leaders were gathered around the mess table, looking at the hologram. It showed the station as a series of decks, rotating. One dot blinked red. “All right, the Raptor is here. So far we have no reports that it is getting ready to leave. The limpet transmitter has the ship as inactive.” The hologram jumped in, showing the same type of view of the ship.

“The crew of a Raptor is sixty men. No launch bays, but there are two cargo bays large enough to stash the fighters in.” Sienna looked at the hologram. “Probably they came here to on load some new fighters?”

“Perhaps. But from where?” Padawan Solon asked, his Lekku weaving slightly. “For that matter where did they find the funding? This outfit makes no sense to me.”

There was a grunt of agreement. Most pirates merely took merchant vessels and had extra weapons installed. The Jedi had broken up a ring of such pirates just two years before. But even the most paranoid merchant captain tended to spend the money on weapons rather than fighters. At over 10 thousand credits each, they were a great defense, but too expensive. Only the larger lines had tried it before now.

Even as old as it was, the ship was still formidable. Fast enough to chase down most modern freighters, though slower than the newer light ones. Her weapons and systems could easily be upgraded.

But only a madman would use a warship as a pirate. You couldn’t sidle up to a station pretending to be a merchant, and loading up on fighter missiles and large amounts of chain gun ammunition through a civilian outlet rather than a base of your navy would be a give away. It was actually less expensive to arm a merchant ship than it was to rip the weapons out of even the smallest warship. Even then why pay for something with almost no cargo space?

Ships the size of a Raptor rarely ended up on the open market unless you consider transferring them from one planetary government fleet to another. New they cost just under a million credits each. The only other possible buyer would be a corporation. Only corporations had the wherewithal to buy them at a quarter million credits each. But that begged the question of why a corporate vessel would be here. According to their records of Wayfarer Corporation, the owners of the station, hadn’t bought any ships of that design. They had bought Coruscanti Swift Class corvettes. In fact only three of the smaller Colonial navies used Raptors right now. None had been reported missing.

Besides, sale of castoff warships was tightly regulated. No one had found a way around those safeguards. Until now.

“How many of this class were built?” Hobart asked.

“Sixty-four.” Padawan Learner Coroy replied. An Arkanian, he was the resident expert on military ordinance. “All but seven are still in service. Nineteen serve in the Arkanian Navy, twenty serve in the Alderaani Customs and patrol service. Ten, all under Corporate flags are assigned to the Ando blockade squadron, the last eight make up the entire Lortuai home fleet.”

“What happened to the seven no longer in service?” Sienna asked, staring at the bulkhead with a curious expression.

“One was lost at the battle of Sullust about 30 years ago. One was rammed by a liner and scrapped. One was expended as target by the Corellian navy, four decommissioned and scrapped.”

“Are we sure they were actually scrapped?” She pressed.

“According to records, yes.” Coroy said.

“My family is always leery of the breaker’s yard.” She said. As the youngest daughter of Admiral Mara Dodonna, granddaughter of retired Fleet Admiral Freido Dodonna, with more officers in her family than any other family on Corellia could claim, she was the expert in this. “The only thing worse in their minds are the suppliers. You see, If they merely slag it down all they get is the scrap metal price. About 500 credits a ton. But if they strip it out, they get a lot more for the separate systems. The computers are easy to wipe and reuse, commo gear and control molycircs, all worth more as units rather than being recycled. A colony just starting would be well off if they could score some of that.” She considered. “The only thing they couldn’t just put on market is the weapons. There are four chain gun turrets four launch tubes. Worth a pretty good amount. But they have to sell them back to the navy, or to someone the navy has authorized to purchase them.

“Every BuShips’ officer’s nightmare is that a ship will slide through the yards without being scrapped out. The ship may be almost 50 years old, but that doesn’t make them worthless for their designed function. A pirate could take over an out of the way colony with that much firepower.” She nodded. “I’m just trying to think who I should contact? Papa or Mama.” Her father was the Judge Advocate General of the fleet, her Mother in charge of design and construction for BuShips.

“Let’s either find out which ship it is, or capture it first.” Hobart demurred. “No reason to get Corellia all upset until we do.” He nibbled on his lip pensively.

“There’s another problem.” Solon said. “I asked for a download of the Station laws. I wanted to be sure our warrant from Corellia was valid.” He looked up. “It is not.”

“What?” Hobart looked as if he’d been told gravity didn’t exist.

“The Station legal preamble begins with ‘Local legal situations are covered in Corporate regulations. All other laws superceded‘.” He turned the pad, and let them read it. Hobart flipped down several pages. “ Listen to this. ‘All claims by planets regarding the seizure of a ship or crew for crimes committed outside Corporate jurisdiction must be first cleared through the Station Constabulary office, and local justice before action. All such requests and the hearings for service of such warrants must be publicly delivered. No warrants maybe served, or action taken for them, until the hearing has been held‘.”

Sienna's head bent. She was the legal expert. “Which means that all I would have to do as captain of that bloody Raptor is have a man in either the Constabulary or the Justice’s office. As soon as they know such a warrant has been filed, they can bolt away, leaving us sitting while the hearing drags on.” She looked at him. “Or we could send a message torpedo. Have a Corellian frigate pop up to take possession.”

Hobart, who had been paging down shook his head. “The Corporation has assigned two Swifts here, Rapid and Surprise. Both in are in their docking bays. If a Corellian Frigate were to arrive, according to these regulations, the Corporation has permission to order the ship out of the system if they will not obey Corporate regulations. Let’s see, yes, as I thought; ‘Any attempt to either force ships to remain on the station, or stop other ships from using the station will be considered an illegal blockade; an act of war under Interstellar law, by the planet owning the vessel. Any attempts by such vessels to remain after being ordered to depart can be dealt with as the Manager and/or Captains of such defensive vessels see fit’.” He looked at his strike team.

“We must either obey the letter of this regulation, or we have to convince them to leave the station and go somewhere we can take them.”

“But they would know we must have followed them if we suddenly ask for their arrest here!” Coroy retorted. “The limpet transmitter may have LPI capability, but if they know we followed them, they will find it.” The Low Probability of Intercept communications gear was still considered top secret by the Corellian navy. They had been allowed to use it only because Sienna had asked her parents.

“If they think they’re caught, they’ll self destruct.” Sienna pushed. “We haven’t gotten more than serial numbers off the fighters so far. To break this, we need to capture it. Facing them here, we’ll have a chance. But an aware Escort trying to escape will hand us our heads. We have to take her here or let her go. We don’t have another option I can see.”

Hobart brought up the information on the ship again. “Sixty man crew. All together we’re outnumbered by about four to one.” He commented. “We can win, but they will self destruct and we can't risk the station and it‘s personnel. We can wait until they pull out-”

“I have another idea.” Sienna said. “We take them down while still here, and deliver ship and all back to Corellia.”

“And how do we do that?” Coroy asked.

“I just walk aboard, trip the intruder/mutiny system, and we fly her out.”

“Can’t be done.” Solon said. “My men don’t know where the intruder systems are on that ship!”

“I do. Mama commanded one of the last ones built, and I... accidentally activated it one Fleet Week when I was four.”

“Accidentally.” Hobart’s comment wasn’t a question.

She grinned. “I saw this big red button on the command chair, and pushed it. Next thing I know every blast door was sealed, and everyone is getting hit with puke-gas. I might have gotten off on it but when we were in the engine room, I saw another emergency button and hit it too!” She shook her head. “Boy did I get a spanking for that!”

They chuckled. “What if they have something a little more lethal than that?” Solon asked.

“I think if someone had run off with half a ton of CN20 nerve gas, that would have set off alarms.” She retorted.

“Lay out your plan, for us.” Hobart ordered. She began with getting aboard, walked through what she intended to do, and ended with lifting off. Each of the others gave suggestions, and she incorporated some of them into the plan. But she was adamant that she had to go alone.

“One mere slip of a girl who is space crazy getting aboard might be taken for a lark.” She warned. “But two or even three would look too suspicious.”

“I would rather someone else do this.” Hobart commented when she had finished.

“No one of our people on the station or aboard ship looks as helpless as I do.“ She replied. “Besides, have I ever been wrong before?”

“No, but there is always a first time.”

“If you honestly think I can’t handle it master-”

“Will you stop fishing for compliments?” He asked plaintively. “All right. When do you want to do it?”

“I was hoping to borrow Padawan Solo’s A4. After I have talked to her, I can set a specific time.”

'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...
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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