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3 years after Endor, (7 Years after Yavin), the Planet Gelgelar in the outer Rim
Jeanna Weigel-Helar ticked off items on the manifest as they were loaded onto the Blurrg by the cargo droid. Loro Ecles was watching over everything issuing orders to the droid, to the other people in the small starport, and to anyone that seemed to need directions. He was the unofficial Mayor of Gelgelar city, and something of the ruler of the planet in a way. Loro was a Sullustan wearing grease-stained spacer clothing. Jeanna was most definitely not.
Jeanna was a 1.7 meter tall bombshell of a human female, dressed in the absolute minimum clothing one could legally get away with in most places. A fishnet bodystocking, reinforced gloves, combat boots, a utility/gunbelt, and a microkini to cover the naughty bits. All in black. Her skin was pale, from being inside a ship all the time and not using a tanning booth. Her hair was long and black, and her eyes were blue. Many thought she looked like a porn starlet. It didn’t help the impression that she used to be one.
Behind her inside the ship, directing the cargo droid and moving crates via the pallet system built into the floor of the cargo bay of the starboard cargo bay where they were loading things into the knife-shaped ship, was her husband, Lourge Helar. He was a bit over 2 meters tall, built like a Wookiee or a pro wrestler, and was a full-conversion cyborgs, though you couldn’t tell from looking at him. He was a prototype from Bionetics Incorporated. Where Luke Skywalker had a simple prosthetic hand, he had most of a prosthetic body. The result of a particularly good merc contract, a satisfied and generous employer, and a pilot missing a close-cover shot by a few meters. Normally he would have died, but Bionetics was pleased with the work he had done on their behalf, and rebuilt him from the ground up to look exactly as he had before the accident.
His features were best described as “Rugged” though some described them as angular, or even brutal. He was usually no-nonsense about most everything, especially while on the job. The reason she was with him, quite simply was, he had been there for her when she had needed someone, anyone, to treat her like a person when she had been a freak.
Because, her film career had ended when she had been filming “Agressive Recon”, an action thriller that was slated to be her first mainstream movie, and there had been a speeder accident. A droid controlled fuel truck had malfunctioned, and T-Boned her sport speeder during a chase scene, and turned her into a crispy critter inside and out. Massive scar tissue all over her body. She looked like a horror movie reject. It had taken a large portion of her personal fortune to survive at all.
Then was the lawsuit against the company that ran the fuel truck, which made her no friends, and made her an embittered soul because of the relentless personal attacks on her character. She won the lawsuit, but left Corellia. Her last actions on her home planet were to buy a borderline-legal modified freighter and head for the outer rim with a droid crew. No one heard from her for 5 years.
Then, she showed up on Gelgelar, her body rebuilt to it’s former glory, married to a merc lifer, still with a droid crew, but with a former Twi’lek slave running the sensor boards, shipping cargo for anyone that had the credits, doing odd jobs and running salvage operations. She was also suddenly a top notch starfighter pilot flying an old and highly modified Jedi Interceptor. She had an apartment on Poriss station, and a rare fighter on permanent display there called the AkumaKaze, which was so rare, that the station paid her to display it.
Which leads us up to now. Jeanna and Lourge finally have gotten, from a slicer specializing in imperial historical archives, the location of several clone-wars space battle sites. Places that huge battles happened and then were hushed up by the Empire so people wouldn’t get ideas about salvage. Which is exactly what Jeanna and Lourge were thinking about. Salvage. Her Jedi Interceptor was hard to find spare parts for, plus they were running low on supplies. If they could hit a battle site and get lucky with some salvage, they could pay off some bills and reload on supplies. If they got really lucky they might even be able to pay off all their bills and make a bit of cash on the side.
So, they were loading up on medical supplies if something went wrong, a tank of Bacta in case things went really wrong, fuel, and food. They were loading the food crates now, the bacta had been the first thing on and was already in the medical facility onboard. The problem with all this was, now they had 500 credits cash to their names, and still owed 58,000 in debts to the bank on various loans. The good news was, they had enough food to last them a few months, medical supplies enough to deal with major injuries, and enough ship parts to deal with moderate repairs.
The droid, a massive XR-290 multipurpose droid. Set down the last crate of canned meat on the conveyor system and Lourge hit a control on the wall. The crate was whisked to the front of the ship into the refrigerated section for food storage. The droid, 3 meters of reinforced hydraulics and armor plating, looked at Lourge with it’s sensor head. “Will that be all sir?” It asked. Lourge nodded. “Yes, and thank you Max.” The droid nodded it’s sensor pod and clomped off to it’s station in the nose of the cargo bay next to the food section storage bay, where it docked and shut down. Jeanna checked the last crate off the manifest. Looked at her husband. “Everything is aboard, we’re set.” He nodded. “Good. I will go make sure everything is secure while you check with Loro on ship traffic and get us a departure vector.”
She nodded and headed off to talk to the Sullustan. He looked up at her from his datapad, which was currently beeping musically at him. “What is it Jeanna. Getting a call from the wife.” She said “Oh, sorry. Need a departure vector.” He nodded. “Talk to Flare over there, she is handling starport duties today. I am on overwatch at the moment.” She nodded and the Sullustan hit a key on his datapad while she walked off.
She approached the harried-looking female Sullustan known as Flare and waited while the woman talked down a ship that was landing. Flare looked up at her once the ship hit the pad and said “Ok, that’s done, what do you need?” Jeanna said “Departure vector.” Flare nodded. “Contact me as you are ready to fly on starport frequency 12.”
Jeanna nodded and headed back to the Blurrg, walked up the loading ramp, and hit the control to seal the ship. The ramp pulled up into the ship as the sliding hatch closed with a hiss-Thud. Over the ship’s intercom Lourge asked what their vector was. She got on the intercom and said “We contact control when we’re ready to take off. Which is probably about now I expect?” Lourge made an affirmative noise and She headed the short distance to the bridge, which was in the middle of the ship. Unlike so many bridges, which were open to space via viewports, the Blurrg’s bridge was completely virtual. It consisted of holograms and displays, and positional sound. As she entered the bridge, Lourge looked up from the command/gunnery station and said “All systems are prepped and show green.”
Til’ana, the ship’s waif, looked up from the sensor board. She was a former Twi’lek concubine/dancer and they had bought her from her former owner just before the man had beaten her to death for not pleasing him enough. She had a slave mentality, and while she had very nice quarters available to her on board the ship, she insisted on sleeping in a hammock at the foot of Lourge and Jeanna’s bed in case they needed anything. She would cringe any time they didn’t approve of her actions, and, well, her libido was in overdrive, so Jeanna had to take her to bed every couple of weeks or she would think they hated her and sulk like a 4-year-old.
She also refused to wear much in the way of clothes. She had never been allowed to wear much, on the rare occasions she had ever been allowed to wear anything besides a slave collar. So she wore a slave skirt and metal bikini top, much like the one Leia Organa made famous during her stint at Jabba’s palace. Til’ana was an electric blue color, and had Grey eyes. Til’ana looked up from the sensor board and said “No ships active in sensor range mistress. The ship that just landed is in need of engine repairs, which seems to be it’s reason for being here, according to the comm. Traffic as he landed.” Jeanna nodded. “Good.” As she sat down at the pilot’s station. As she did, the main holoscreens lit up and the entire front 1/3 of the room flickered for a moment, then gave them a panoramic view of the area in front of the ship, with window views of the direct sides and rear. The pilot’s station was like a giant arcade machine in many ways, just instead of controlling a virtual ship, it controlled a very real one.
She donned the headset hanging from the hook behind the headrest and said “Command, livelink” The headset beeped and a moment later the ship’s main computer said “Greetings Jeanna, all systems are green, engines are ready for full thrust, and hover pods show full readiness for atmospheric flight.” She nodded. She said “Command, short range communications, Gelgelar starport frequency 12.” The comm. System beeped. And the indicator light went green, indicating she could speak. “Blurrg to Gelgelar starport flight control. Come in please.” A moment later and Flare answered.
“Flight control to Blurrg. Your exit vector is northwest. We have a hurricane passing by to the southeast and winds are starting to become unstable in the middle altitudes according to the sensors. Have a safe flight, Gelgelar control out.” Jeanna nodded, and raised the ship 100 meters into the air using the gravity pods, then kicked in the main thrusters, which took up a full third of the ship.
Lets do some math here. The standard X-wing, a fighter with average speed, has engines that take up about 10-15% of it’s total size. Everything else is wings and main hull. The TIE fighter, a fighter renowned for high speed, has engines that take up about 10% of it’s total size.
The Blurrg? It’s engines take up about 35% of the ship. And they were military surplus off a courier craft. The Blurrg could, at sublight speed, keep pace with most fighter craft, and outpace some of the slower ones, despite being near 300 meters long and being an armor plated anvil. It might not be able to turn as well, but in a relatively straight line, it was a torch.
So, when she kicked in the thrusters, the ship jumped forward and started accelerating smoothly for space like it was on rails. 20 minutes later, and they were surrounded by vacuum. “Vectoring for deep space and insertion to hyperspace on course for Felucia.” She called out. Til’ana said “Space is clear of obstructions and craft.” Lourge stayed quiet. If he started talking about ship status, then either something needed to be shot, or something important was broken.
10 minutes later and they vanished into hypserpace, headed for the floral world of Felucia, where, during the late clone wars, a very large battle had taken place. It had been a hotly contested world and was littered with wreckage both in orbit and on the ground. The problem was you needed special imperial clearance to get past the automated defense systems the Empire had put into place to prevent salvagers from picking the place clean. Luckily they knew the right “Wrong” people. They had the codes needed to deactivate the 20+ year old system and let them ransack the battle site at will.
The trip to the colorful floral world where so many died for no real reason other than to satisfy an old man’s cravings for power, took about 3 days. They dropped out of hyperspace and were immediately greeted by an automated message. It was an imperial officer’s face, severe-looking and stern, demanding clearance codes or automated defenses would fire on them in 10 seconds.
Lourge transmitted the security code with a silent prayer to whoever was listening. A moment later and that same officer, looking less severe, with a welcoming smile on his face, greeted them as fellow imperials and transmitted to them a map of the system, as well as the last decade in logs, which seemed to be how long it had been since anyone had been there.
Jeanna grinned at him. “Jackpot!” She mouthed. He smiled and nodded. Til’ana beamed at them both happily. They turned off the comm. System and headed deeper into the system, looking for concentrations of large battlegroups. There were several, mostly in high orbit around the planet. There was one in deep space, but long range telescopic scans showed those had already been picked clean.
“Ok, we hit high orbit, and I do my usual incredible job in keeping us from bumping anything that will bump back. Blue, Keep an eye out for anything unusual, like power emissions, random movement, or anything that you think is just odd.” Til’ana nodded and said “Like a mostly-intact ship?” Lourge and Jeanna’s heads snapped up. “Yes, that would qualify.” Lourge said. Til’ana showed them video of a Venator-class star Destroyer that was missing it’s inertial compensator and was moving at a high rate of speed in low orbit. Anything alive would be pulp. Looked to have taken a turbolaser barrage to the stern just as it boosted for orbit from the planet. Engines were fine, it just needed fuel and an inertial compensator.
Lourge whistled. “Damn. We’re going to need to hose the insides out, but that will fetch enough to make our dreams come true.” Jeanna was thinking ahead. “Dear, that is our dreams. We could house an entire merc company off that instead of this beast. We just need to fix it and get a trustworthy crew.
The pain is going to be fixing it. With the Blurrg’s engines, we can match speed, barely, but then what?” He thought a few minutes. “Ok, here is the plan. We move all the cargo to the starboard bay, then we set the port bay for liquid storage. Then we siphon off fuel from another destroyer, and refuel that big bastard. Then, since the G-forces won’t effect me, I go over there and get it under control. Get it into higher orbit and into a stable position. Then, once it is under control, we simply swap the back end of one destroyer for another. It’s going to take a couple months probably, but it’s not like we didn’t bring supplies.”
Jeanna winced. “And if there is a spark in the port bay?” He grimaced. “Boom, and no more us. No gain without risk. We just need to be extra careful.” She nodded. “Ok, but if we get killed, I am coming back and haunting you.” He smiled thinly.
They took the next 4 hours moving everything from the port cargo bay to the starboard cargo bay, then sealed the port bay so it was airtight on the inside. Then they went over every square millimeter of the bay with a voltmeter to make sure nothing was arcing. Nothing was. With a small fleet of maintenance astromechs running around the ship with little to do but information gathering and keeping the ship in top shape, well, there was only so much maintenance the ship needed.
They then sidled the Blurrg up alongside a banking clan frigate, (The Venator they looked at originally had been jammed badly by an explosion, this was the next ship over) and began siphoning off fuel. It took them a couple hours, even with high pressure pumps, but they got the bay filled. Now came the tricky part.
Jeanna matched speed and course with the Venator-class in question, named the “Adamant” (Soon to be named something different if they had any say in the matter) and pulled up alongside it. There, on the port side, was a capitol ship docking bay with a fuel receptacle next to it. Jeanna rolled the ship upside-down, and extended the docking clamps, locking them onto the larger ship like a tick. Then she extended the siphon arm and locked it onto the refueling port. The arm barely made it, and was about to tear itself apart from the stress when it finally locked in and settled down.
“Transferring fuel now.” Lourge said. Jeanna nodded and locked the course into the autopilot, so the ship wouldn’t change course if she accidentally twitched. The ship began making chunking noises as the pumps worked for all they were worth. A couple hours later and they heard the noise stop. Lourge looked at a camera display of the cargo bay. It was totally empty. Did an atmospheric scan. Void of even fumes. “We’re good to go. Heading over to the Adamant now.”
She nodded and kissed him hard, then let hi9m head to the extendable docking arm. She extended it as far as it would go, and watched as it latched onto the hatch of the Venator-class. He was going to have to cut or blow a hole in the hull. Luckily they had a couple breaching charges in case this was necessary, but using them was the equivalent of buying a year’s worth of food. Each.
The ship thumped as Lourge detonated a shaped charge and blew a hole in the side of the Venator about 2 meters across. He clambered through and his first words were “Wow, now that’s a mess.” She said “Kindly don’t feel the need to describe it.” He snorted but stayed silent on the subject. “G-forces are pretty bad, I am operating at 98% of my strength capacity, I am going to need to make a trip to Bionetics after this to fix micro fractures and metal fatigue. Ah well. With cash off salvage from this we will be able to afford it.”
She nodded. As he worked his way through the ship, she spoke on that subject. “I think we should sell stuff over a period of months, not all at once, and not all to the same buyer, so it doesn’t look like we hit the mother-lode and get claim-jumped. Also, we need to hide the Adamant somewhere, and I think I know where would be a good spot if we pay the right people bribe money and make a couple promises.”
“What promises?” He grunted as he climbed a ladder up to the bridge. “Gelgelar. Deep in the swamps, we could hide this and no one would be the wiser as long as we keep it at minimal power. And if we promise to use it in the defense of the planet if it’s level of firepower is ever needed, which we would do anyways, well, I think Loro would be inclined to keep his mouth shut. Especially if we toss a few of the V-wings these things had his way as a defense force for the city.” Lourge grunted assent. “Sounds workable. Plus we can have some of his more trustworthy family members run repairs on the ship during their off hours. Get it back up to snuff. It would probably take a while, but we have time.”
Jeanna nodded. “Sounds workable. Plus we can use the time to scout out trustworthy crew for the thing, also a plus.” There was an affirmative grunt. He got to the bridge a few minutes later and grunted. “Impressive. Would whistle, but I think that might kill me right now. Headed to main ops station. Bringing primary power online at minimal levels.”
The ship lit up like a festival tree from bow to stern, as cabin lights powered on and the ship came to life for the first time in over 20 years. Jeanna whistled. Lourge got on the com system. “Disconnect the Blurrg, going to take the Adamant up deep space.” She nodded and disconnected the Blurrg, rolled it over correct side up, and pulled the ship up while decelerating to more reasonable speeds.
The Adamant pulled up slowly, and Jeanna heard Lourge grunt again as the ship pulled even more G’s It shot out from low orbit into high orbit, and then into lunar orbit, where Lourge stabilized it’s orbit and slowed it down to much safer speeds, then slowed it and parked it. Then every hatch on the ship opened and what Jeanna could only describe as goop fired out of the hatches. She turned green and had to fight not to throw up. Til’ana was blissfully ignorant and Jeanna didn’t feel like enlightening her.
Lourge got on the com system “Ship is clean, and at 18% fuel. Blue and I will make fuel runs while you take the fighter and scout out a ship with an intact and reachable compensator.” Jeanna nodded and pulled up to the Adamant, then docked with a hatch they fit theirs.
A few minutes later and Lourge was back on the bridge of the Blurrg. ‘I will take over here, you head out. You're lead scout this time.” She nodded and got up from the pilot’s station, then headed to the fighter launch bay between the cargo bays. Calling it a fighter launch bay might be overdoing it. It was really just a large turntable, some small tractor beam emitters, and 80 meters of enclosed bay runway with a clamshell cover and an atmosphere shield.
She clambered into the modified JSF (Jedi Interceptor, also known as a Jedi Strike Fighter, or JSF) she flew on a regular basis and powered it’s systems up. She settled into the form-fitting gel seat and settled the headset on. “JSF, requesting permission to launch.” She said. Lourge responded by activating the atmosphere shield and opening the clamshell bay doors.
Once they were open, she activated the launch sequence, which was nothing more than tractor beams yanking the starfighter out of the ship and chucking it into space. Which was what happened. In a moment she was free and clear, and she kicked the engines up to full power and aimed the fighter at the nearest somewhat-intact looking Venator-class. She spent the next 11 hours in her fighter, and just as she was getting ready to call it quits from simple exhaustion, she spotted a Venator with a pristine tail section. She noted it’s location on her maps and then headed back and landed.
“Find anything?” asked Lourge. “We finished refueling the Adamant a few hours ago, we were wondering what was keeping you, dinner is growing cold.” She yawned and nodded. “Found what we’re looking for just as I was headed back. You can get it’s location off the JSF’s mapper. Me, I am getting some rack time. I am bushed.” He nodded and let her go, while headed to the JSF to download it’s navigational charts.
10 hours later and the JSF was back, with the Adamant in tow to tractor the wreckage if need be. Which, when they got there, it obviously needed to be. Luckily, they had the skill, and they had the crew, even if the crew were droids. The new Venator, the Arasawa, Was tractored out of high orbit and to deep space, where it was positioned for easy salvage of the inertial compensator.
The job took longer than they hoped. It took even longer than they feared. They were down to eating dehydrated noodles when the Adamant was finally rendered able to travel with a human crew again. They stocked up on valuables from the other nearby ships, like fighter craft and personal weapons, and then headed back to deep space near Gelgelar. They parked the ship 14 light-years from Gelgelar in deep space, and while Lourge and Til’ana supervised the droid crew, Jeanna flew the JSF, which had a short-range hyperdrive off an A-Wing, to Gelgelar, and landed like nothing was out of the ordinary.
Loro walked up to her fighter. “You seem to be missing a ship, a crew, and a husband. Is everything alright?” She grinned. “Better than fine. Can we talk somewhere secure? I have a business proposal of mutual benefit.” He blinked. That had been the last thing he had expected. “Um, sure, of course. Business is always something I can relate to. Follow me to my office. We can talk there.”
A few minutes later and people walking by his office heard a muffled yell through the door. Jeanna grimaced. ”Would you settle down and stop yelling? No point in privacy if you bellow all over the place.” He grimaced and nodded. “Do you have any idea how much trouble this could get us all in?” Jeanna nodded. “Yes, and here is where the deal comes in. You and your people shut off the sensor grid for “Maintenance” when I launch next. We take the destroyer to the deep swamp, and park it where no one will find it but SawJaw lizards and then you re-activate the sensor grid. Your people, for doing this, will get 6 functional V-Wing fighter craft. No strings, just keep your mouths shut about the why’s and the who’s. Do with the craft as you please. Personally I would use them to replace those 90-year-old Z-95 headhunters you are using as a defense force.”
He nodded. “Your offer is extremely tempting. I can trust my people to keep their mouth closed about such an operation. But you sound as if you have further offers in the offing.” She nodded. “This is why I always hate dealing with you, you are far too observant.” He laughed. He smiled. She continued after a moment. “Your top techs, people you would trust with your daughter kind of people.
We fly them over to the ship, and they work on it during their off hours. For this, sell, through your connections, 24 V-wing fighters. If your people agree to do repairs and get us spare parts, you get 90% of the deal. He whistled. “What do you need for this bounty? Spare parts? Those are worth a lot more than a dozen aging fighter craft.” She nodded. “For those 12, we are asking discretion and reliable techs, and as many spare parts as you feel it reasonable to get. We’re not talking buying new turbolaser batteries here, but we don’t think it unreasonable to get a crapload of fuel, or basic capitol ship spare parts like hydraulics and electronics.” He nodded. “Reasonable of you. And would there be any further such deals?” She nodded. “Yes, about 6 months from now, we could do it again, same terms.” He nodded. “Spacing them out I see. I would recommend more spacing, about a year. Some will notice, but not as many if you space things out a year.” She nodded. “We are going to be dropping a large amount of stuff on the black market through several blinds over the next three months to get supplies and build up a merc company we can trust. Mostly comrades of Lourge’s that are down on their luck and would kill for a second chance at a career.” Loro nodded. “People like that can become extremely loyal. Good call.” She nodded.
He thought it over a few minutes, sipping his coffee. Then nodded. “I will do it. This city needs static defenses, and better starfighter defense. This will get us that. It will also get us a medical center and better starport facilities. Maybe even some basic city infrastructure like sewage treatment and a central electrical grid. One can hope. I will start making calls, be ready to launch within the hour.”
She nodded and headed to her fighter, spotting a human kid looking at it in awe. “”Is that a starfighter lady?” He asked. She smiled. “Yes, it is, stand back kid, don’t want you to get hurt when I take off in a bit.” The kid nodded and skittered to the edge of the landing pad she was on, then sat down and watched her service the fighter. Refuel, check some wiring she thought might be loose, talk to her astromech droid. The kid ate it up. His mother, from a freighter several pads away, found him sitting at the edge of the pad chatting with her astromech while Jeanna sat in the cockpit adjusting some software. The mother was terrified until she saw Jeanna, and then was merely annoyed with her offspring for wandering off. Obviously such a scantily clad blow-up doll of a woman wasn’t a threat, except to her marriage. Best to get back to the freighter and make sure to keep an eye on hubby to make sure his eyes didn’t wander.
A few minutes after the woman and her kid left (Jeanna didn’t mind kids, but she would be damned if she was having any of her own any time soon. Mother had had her and her sister Jenna way too early, and both girls had suffered for it) Loro walked up to her fighter and said “Looks like the sensor system is going down for maintenance soon miss, you sure you want to fly out of here in such a hurry?”
She nodded and started powering up systems. “Afraid I have to. Thanks for the warning, I will pay extra attention to my sensor system on the way out.” He nodded and she closed the cockpit, then took off for space at top speed once he was clear. The trip to the Adamant, Renamed the Kill Stealer (Which was logged quietly with the Bureau of Ships and Services, basically an interstellar DMV, as owned by Kill Stealers Mercenary Systems Incorporated, so they legally owned it and no one could dispute their claim on the ship) was near instantaneous. She landed on the Blurrg and got on the com. “Kill stealer, this is Blurrg, begin landing operations immediately, the operation is a go.”
The Kill Stealer flickered in space, then so did the Blurrg, and both ships appeared over Gelgelar a moment later. The Kill Stealer vectored for the southern hemisphere where there were often fairly severe storms. Only a ship the size of the Kill Stealer would survive there in a cat-5 hurricane, much less hide in it. The ship found a fairly solid area to land and made it more solid by dropping a series of linked charges around the landing area, creating a massive berm that walled out water from displaced dirt, then dropping a fuel-air explosive in the middle and vaporizing the swamp water that was inside their landing area, as well as baking the ground instantly into hard clay. The ship then settled down with a loud cracking noise as the clay shattered under the massive weight of the ship. The Blurrg hovered overhead and then once the ship finished settling in, shot off for Gelgelar city at top speed.
Jeanna got on the com System to Loro. “Solved my problem, everything is working good now. How are things on your end?” Loro wiped sweat from his forehead and nodded to the sensor operator. The young Sullustan, who wasn’t happy at all that he had been ordered to turn off every single one of his sensors, and then had been watched while doing it to make sure he did as he was told, flipped a few switches and sensor boards began coming back online. A few moments later and they spotted the Blurrg on radar a thousand klicks away, flying low and very very fast in an erratic pattern designed to throw off people looking for where she was coming from. It was being followed by what looked like 6 fighter craft. The sensor operator started to set off the pirate alarm when Loro waved him off. That’s payment for the job we just did. Settle down or I will send you back to the nursery with the other children.” The sensor op had no idea what the hell was goin on but did as he was told.
“What the hell is she doing down there? That’s SawJaw country.” He muttered. Loro whacked him upside the head. “Don’t you be worrying about that. In fact, you don’t see her now. As far as you're concerned, she is coming in from deep space. Got that kid?” He nodded. There was something going on here with the elders and he wasn’t sure what, but it centered on that woman and her oddball crew.
The Blurrg showed up on the landing pad a bit later, and landed, with Jeanna and Til’ana disembarking. Loro looked at them, and said “I don’t see my cargo.” She smiled. “They are hovering 100 meters out in the swamp on autopilot, with security software installed so casual passers-by cant yoink them. Not that there should be any passer’s by, but better safe than sorry. Password and location is on this datadisk.” He nodded. “I will send a speeder with my pilots out immediately.” She nodded. “I can have the rest of your shipment wherever you need on the planet pretty quick. I have my first shipment of stuff headed out via slave linkage in a few days. Don’t need another blackout, just some discrete forgetfulness.” He nodded. Of course. Not a problem. Give me times and locations and I will make sure no one sees anything they remember.” She nodded with a smile.
Loro jogged off calling out for the starfighter crews to get off their lazy asses and get ready for new toys. A few minutes later and a beaten up cargo speeder headed off into the swamps with Loro at the controls and a lot of dubious-looking Sullustans standing in the cargo bed. A half-hour later and a parade-perfect formation of 6 V-wing fighter craft buzzed the city and then landed at the starport amid great commotion. When people asked where the fighters came from, the pilots said “We found ‘em in the swamp.” Which was the stark naked truth.
So no one thought they were lying. Delusional maybe, but not lying. Loro was already making plans to sell the aging Z-95’s off to a merc group as training craft, and was on his cell phone making the call while walking around the starfighter bay beaming at the gleaming white and red starfighters.
Jeanna made some discrete calls of her own. First one was to a regular employer of hers, named Maxar Korin. He answered the line immediately and asked what was up. “I have some fighter craft I want to unload….” She began. His left eyebrow shot up but that was the only hint he was surprised. She explained she had a large number of V-wing starfighters she wanted to unload that she had gotten from an unspecified source. They were all in excellent condition, battle ready, just needed pilots. They even had booster rings for hyperspace travel. All she needed was to sell them.
He consulted a computer for a moment. “I can buy 48 of them at the moment. Discretely. If discretion is not a problem, then I can buy more. And I can pay 50,000 each, plus another 15,000 per docking ring, and 1,000 per droid. However it is doubtful you have that…” She cut in “I can do that.” His eyebrow twitched, but he did the math in his head. “That would put your total at 3 million, 168 thousand credits. How do you want to work delivery?”
She said “Deep space, I slave link them to the Blurrg, fly them to a neutral location in deep space, and call you from there. I give you the location. I wait till you yourself show up, and then hand you the security codes for the craft personally at the same time you give me the codes to a numbered bank account I can access via holonet. I know this sounds like a sting, but I don’t want to trust a lackey. No faces I haven’t seen before. I see someone I don’t recognize, and I blow the entire fleet by remote.” He nodded. “Sensible of you. How soon can you make delivery?” She thought for a moment. “I can make delivery 6 days. Meet me at These coordinates.” And she transmitted him a scrambled file they both knew how to decode. He nodded. “I will be there. And if I see anything hinky, I will make sure you and yours regret it for the rest of your short lives.” She nodded.
She suppressed a whoop and called Loro. “going to need some forgetfulness in an hour. Making a delivery, will be gone for a couple weeks.” He nodded. “Of course. Good luck in your travels.”
She nodded and powered up the Blurrg, made sure Til’ana was onboard, and then headed back to the Kill Stealer at top speed, taking a roundabout course to throw off pursuit. Lourge greeted her via comm. System and smiled. “You know, I am discovering new things about myself all the time. Such as, I have LOBOT class livelink ability. I am currently supervising every major system on the ship, and in direct control of the fire control system.” She blinked at the com screen. He could do that? Since when? He saw the look on her face. “It’s news to me too. One moment I was wishing I could link to the ship to run a diagnostic, the next thing I know, I had a livelink to every diagnostic system on the ship. I am going to have a talk with the people at Bionetics when I see them next, which needs to be in the next few months, I have a lot of microfractures and my power core is running 9 degrees hotter than normal. Using 11% more water than regular to fuel it too.”
She nodded. “Well, Let me make this delivery and we can get you fixed right up, plus get every bill we ever dreamed of paid off with enough left over to buy spare parts for the Kill Stealer and get her up to snuff a bit more, plus we can start hiring and outfitting mercs for the team.” He nodded. “Copy that and good work.
She nodded and locked the Blurrg into hover mode over the nose of the Kill stealer, then proceeded to walk down into the flight deck of the massive ship, and start prepping V-wings for a long-duration flight. It took her and Lourge, plus the ship’s droid compliment of cargo droids over 20 hours to get everything prepped, and slave-linked, but finally everything was ready. Jeanna kissed Lourge goodbye and then flew the Blurrg and the large fleet of starfighters out into deep space, where they flickered and disappeared.
5 days later and Jeanna looked up as the sensor board beeped insistently at her. There was a ship incoming, a big one. She scanned it. It was a Kuat-model Impstar Deuce dropping out of hyperspace right on her nose. She took a deep breath, then hailed them. Maxar was the one to answer. “Greetings my dear. I must say, I was more than half expecting a police fleet or something to be waiting for me. I see the ships are exactly as promised. Please dock with this ship on the starboard side and I will come over, alone, don’t worry, and give you the account information as I get the security codes.” She nodded. “Sounds workable.” She said. She docked as requested, and Maxar walked onto the Blurrg through the docking umbilical, looking very pleased with recent events. He handed her a datadisk. “This will let you access a numbered bank account on corellia. Directions for accessing the account are on the disk. The disk password is Profit. My security codes please.”
She nodded and handed him a datadisk. “The codes are a passphrase to unlock the power cores of the fighters so they can be powered up and flown away. The password for this disk is Wampa.” He nodded. “Excellent. Pleasure doing business with you my dear.” She smiled. “You too, as always. Gotta love an employer that pays promptly and in full.” He smiled. “Have to appreciate employees that do the jobs requested without starting a full scale war. Though with these babies, I could fight one. They are slated to go to defense posts and museums around the galaxy.” She nodded.
The trip back to Gelgelar was uneventful, and when she got there, the Kill Stealer was swarming with Sullustan repair crews. Jeanna landed next to the Kill Stealer and walked up the massive loading ramp of the ship into the flight deck, which was buzzing with activity. Droids of all kinds everywhere, Sullustans all over everything, half the damn town must be here!
She found Loro on the bridge next to Lourge talking about planetary defense. “I thought I said be discrete!” She exclaimed. Loro winced. “I am being discrete. I trust every one of these people with my life.” She grimaced. “Well, You're trusting them with it now, because if word gets to the Empire, they will blast this planet flat, and if it gets to the Republic before we can get the ship able to defend itself, they will simply take it from us like you’d take a toy from a child. And with the same attitude too probably. At which point, once we find the leak, I will personally plug it.”
Loro bristled. And Lourge winced . Then he looked at Loro. “I hate to say it, but I would have the same attitude. This is our dream your people are helping with, and if it gets taken away, well, I would not be inclined to be pleasant with whoever was responsible either. However, I am sure your people are trustworthy Loro, they have never let us down before.”
Loro nodded with a snorting noise that didn’t seem to mean anything other than he was still very annoyed, and resumed talking about the defense of the planet as if Jeanna weren’t there. She shrugged and headed off to the flight deck, which was her natural environment anyways, only to find it was chaos. Fighters were being scrapped to rebuild and service other fighters, which had always been the plan, but it didn’t make her happy seeing potential revenue being disassembled.
What did help was seeing the ship’s entire compliment of personal weapons, from DC-15 pistols, to DC-15 anti-Droideka rifles, to PLEX missile launchers, sitting in crates in unoccupied flight bays. She sorted through it all, making a mental list. This was a lot of hardware. There were also crates of late-model Katarn armor, a dozen sets of ARC trooper armor, and enough personal explosives to put half the city of Gelgelar into orbit.
She smiled. This was more than enough to supply a merc group with gear. All of it perfectly preserved. She headed back to the Blurrg, moved her JSF from the Blurrg to the Kill Stealer, and asked a couple of Sullustan techs she knew were tops with starfighters to service the ship with her. She might not be the best with a hydrospanner, but she was tolerable, and since she was paying really damn well, they teach her more as they all worked. Which they did, and she learned how to swap out the entire fuel system on her fighter. She also wanted to upgrade the engines on her fighter, from a pair of small, old, and worn out ion thrusters, to a pair of TIE Defender engines that would get her 20% more speed with the same size and mass. She already had the engines on order from Poriss station’s black market. She had basically purchased an action-4 bulk freighter filled with supplies. It was being loaded up, and in a couple days, she would be called at a particular com number to come pick it up at a neutral location.
Among the supplies? Capitol ship scale tanks of Spin-sealed tibana gas, capitol ship scale tanks of fuel, hydraulic and electronic parts for a capitol ship, and lastly, a set of armor for her that was as good as ARC trooper armor, but built for women. It was being custom fabricated by the armor smiths at Poriss station now, in a black market ship she knew only by reputation. Supposedly, if you wanted the best in five sectors, you went to them. They certainly cost like that was true.
So, after three days of stripping the entire thruster system out of her fighter with the two techs, and getting it ready to mount new engines, as well as updating it’s flight software to deal with the change in thrust, she hopped a freighter making a run to Poriss station for food, and paid the black market rep what was agreed on, then flew the ship to a second neutral point, and went over it with an old republic bug scanner she had found in the captain’s quarters.
She found half a dozen, and destroyed them. Then went to hyperspace in a random direction, scanned again because Lourge said there were some that only transmitted in hyperspace, and she found three more. Destroyed those too. Then she headed back to Gelgelar and landed the freighter next to the nose of the Kill Stealer, so they could transfer supplies. She was in her new armor, and she had to admit, that even if it couldn’t stop a blaster bolt (Which it supposedly could stop several) it fit like a second skin. Which part of it was. A Polyprene armored environmental bodysuit was the basis for the rest of the armor. The ship spare parts were immediately divvied up by tech crews and started being installed in the places that needed repairs the worst.
While all this was going on, Lourge took the Blurrg and a good chunk of their money, and headed to Bionetics for that servicing he needed. While he was gone, it took 2 weeks for Jeanna and the techs to get the TIE Defender engines properly mounted in her JSF, which she had decided to name the Violet Death due to it’s paint job. It had a black base coat with violet trim and a violet astromech. Not exactly Jedi standard, but she didn’t care. She wasn’t a Jedi.
Lourge came back a few days after her fighter was finished, and had spring in his step again. When they got a moment alone, he explained, after she finished kissing him, that they had done a total systems upgrade with their latest mods, and when he had started throwing money around, they had offered to install all kinds of extras, which he had splurged on a bit. They were now down to food money again, but they had enough to supply themselves and a few other people, recruits they could trust, with food for 6 months. Decent food.
It took them another three months to get all the parts they had bought used up, and get the Kill Stealer refitted as well as their limited abilities could manage. But by the time they were done, the ship was 80% functional, had the use of it’s main batteries (Though not the torpedo launchers, those were still on the fritz) and all of the (Remaining) secondary point defense batteries. The ones that hadn’t been scrapped to repair other point defense turrets.
The Ecles family made their sale to a large merc group in the far outer rim that didn’t even know the Republic had fallen yet, to whom the V-wing was the apex of technology. They made a decent chunk of change off that, and started refitting and rebuilding the city. In another month, the city was looking more like a city. The ramshackle and unoccupied old buildings were bulldozed to make way for a sewer treatment facility so they could stop dumping city waste into the swamps. The Ecles starport was upgraded and expanded, finally driving Fenn’s landing out of business. Fenn got drunk just before he was going to leave, and made the mistake of telling the wrong person he knew something was up on the planet, and he was going to tell the Empire that Gelgelar wasn’t a simple Freeport any more. The next morning he was found by a roving swamp patrol in the swamps, half-eaten by local wildlife with his throat slit. Loro made sure the person that solved the potential problem got some free fuel and repairs in his sister’s shop as a thank-you.
Lourge started making calls to some old friends in the merc community, looking for people that needed jobs, were down on their luck, and/or were just in need of a second chance, but were trustworthy. It took him a month of playing phone-tag with his contacts but he started getting results. One was a pair of oddballs from Ryloth. One was a Scout/sniper, the other, his wife, was a melee specialist that seemed to be an expert with swords. Lourge remembered the man, he had been a gawky teenager in boot camp last Lourge had seen him about a decade ago. He was a pink Twi’lek named Er’ic Irujam. Had a kid brother that was in merc boot camp with the First Fusillade Irregulars on some out of the way planet or other named Mot’. The man’s wife was also a pink Twi’lek, named Shi’igo.
Another one was a human named Samantha “Sam” Shea. A top notch slicer that seemed to be one step ahead of a debt-collections agent. Her hook would be easy, pay off her debts, which they could if they sold a couple more fighters, and then ask her if she wanted a job.
Once she wasn’t running for her life, she would likely want the work, maybe even a long-term contract with what amounted to a planetary defense force. Next, and this confused the hell out of Jeanna, was a lawyer named Ralf Morganstein. “Why the living hells do we need a lawyer?” She asked. “Wont he just drain our cash reserves and eat our food?” Lourge smiled. “Probably. But he is a specialist in ship law. If anyone can get us to keep the ship, he can. He is a master of shady ship law, and has gotten people to keep ships they really shouldn’t have, legally. He is our best hope for keeping this ship if a republic fleet shows up wanting to take it from us, and doing it without a small war.”
She nodded and Lourge kept contacting people. Jeanna bristeled when he started looking at pilots, and demanded to interview them herself, if they couldn’t pass her skill tests, they were likely noobs that would get shot down first mission. He grimaced and nodded. He picked a flight leader, someone that was an expert in running large air forces, a former rebel he had worked for, named North Frozen. Odd name, but the man was an expert at running large groups of starcraft. That was his job in the rebellion on a starfighter-carrier conversion MC-80, before he retired and went merc. He was currently between contracts and looking for a long-term deal.
Next was A cyborg Togruta Female named “Shock”. She was also a melee specialist, and was slated to be their hand-to-hand instructor. She had red skin with white markings, and was getting on in age, was reputedly about 50 years old, but could still wipe the floor with most anyone. Her left arm was an old-model cybernetic replacement that she seemed to trash on a regular basis, seemed to hate it for some reason.
He also found a few more people, decent pilots, nobody terribly special, but solid fighters with solid backgrounds. Not a full company’s worth but enough to run missions and start building up money through work instead of salvage. The Kill Stealer would be home base. It would be their ace in the hole until it’s legal status was determined in the courts. Until then, it was staying put and they would use a battered but functional Quasar-fire bulk transport starfighter refit as their primary mode of transport.
So, they traded some more V-wings to the right “Wrong” people, got what they needed, and then started making the rounds. First stop was Ryloth since they were picking up the new mini carrier there, which they renamed KS2. Lourge was the one to make contact, with Jeanna in her fighter in case things went south and they needed fighter cover for a fast exit. Er’ic and Shi’igo met him at a merc bar in the capitol city, with both of them fending off people offering them indentured servitude contracts. Pink Twi’leks were rare, and people would pay through the nose for one, much less a matched pair. Neither one was having it, and one particularly obnoxious man got a blaster barrel up the nose and Er’ic’s cold voice saying the next person that propositions them eats a blaster bolt.
Lourge made them the offer, and they jumped at it. It was honest work for a known and reputable boss. Which was more than they had now. They said they would need 6 hours to get their stuff together and get to the starport. It took them 4. Er’ic remembered Lourge from when he was in boot camp, and said that while he couldn’t handle the heavy weapons the way the big man could, he had styled his scout/sniper ideals after Lourge’s methods. Lourge grinned and said “Wise move” and then grilled him on scout and sniper methodology. Er’ic passed the oral exam with flying colors. Among his possessions was an armored longarm case with biometric locks. Lourge asked if that was his rifle.
Er’ic nodded, unlocked it, and got the rifle out. It was, to Lourge’s surprise, a slugthrower. Lourge asked about that. “You can silence a slug, and if you fill a slug with detonite or plamex, it will do a lot more damage than you think on impact. Or you can get a depleted uranium round, and put bullets right through an AT-AT’s armored hull at a kilometer without them ever figuring out where the shots came from.” Lourge nodded. He had heard that during the Rebellion, Special forces had used slugthrowers with great effect.
He looked at Shi’igo. “And you, I hear you are an expert in hand to hand as well as with a sword.” She nodded. “I am, I have high level certifications is Trijat, Gotek, and Farmun. I am certified as a master swordswoman in Trijat and Gotek. I am working on the grandmaster certification in Trijat.” He nodded. Either she was full of crap, or she was damned good. He himself had master level certifications in hand to hand in about a dozen martial arts. Sparring was one of the few encouraged activities that kept the mind and body honed while off duty.
So he stood, looked around the mess hall on the Blurrg, and said “Ok, try to knock me down.” She blinked, and then with zero warning, was all over him like a dervish. No doubt she was good. Damn good, if he was organic, he would already have several badly bruised bones and maybe a broken arm. He backed off and held up a hand, signaling her to stop. “Not bad, in fact quite good. You are what you say you are. Your job is going to be acting as ship’s security. If someone gets rowdy, you knock them for a loop. They wont be looking for a pretty pink Twi’lek to be the one doing the job, so you will have surprise on your side first few times out, and by the time they learn to expect you, they should be scared of you. Enough so they should back down when they see you coming.” She nodded. So basically she was now the team bouncer.
Lourge looked at her. “Also, depending on how the interview with another person goes, you might be the hand to hand instructor. I don’t have the time, I have to supervise the home base situation, which we will get to once the entire group is together.” The two Twi’leks nodded. “So, we’re officially hired?” Er’ic asked. Lourge nodded. “Yes, try outs are over. I will still want to see you sneak through some brush, but from the fieldcraft you obviously know, unless you're a total klutz, which I doubt, you should do fine.