The Sidori Gambit
The Silent Destiny and the Vainglory were both grounded in the meagre spaceport of the city of Ur-Talok on Erawlon, the only city with a spaceport. The Silent Destiny requiring a new power capacitor for its hyperdrive, while the Vainglory needed a replacement power coupling for its engines. Luckily for the captains of the two ships, the docking fees were a pittance, but the downside was that finding any sorts of parts here would not be exactly easy. Erawlon was an out of the way planet and if it didn’t offer an alternate entry point to the Sidori Cluster, thus avoiding the exorbitant tariffs at Gastogne, it wouldn’t be frequented very much.
Caster Novastar emerged from underneath his ship, the Vainglory, and muttered to himself.
“Coupling went. Damn.”
Immediately the young captain went searching for someone who could help him and approached a member of the local work crew with a winning smile.
“Hello, sir, can you point me toward where I might buy new parts for my ship?”
“New huh? Does anything here look “new”?" The maintenance crewman shrugged. “Whatever you want, your best bet is going to the Office of Procurations, you can’t miss it.”
Kes, the other captain, stepped off her ship, the Silent Destiny, peering at the area. She puffed her cheeks and exhaled slowly.
“Well. This looks like a big old dump. Think we’ll actually find anything?”
“Well, we can try and be all official at whatever passes for a main office here. Can’t hurt.” Her pilot, Kaylani, shrugged. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll just have to be a bit… imaginative”
“I know you’re eager to get to the imaginative bits, but official first. Just to be safe.” Kes made a small bow and gestured for her pilot to go ahead of her.
The Office of Procurements was right next to the blocky Control Tower. Already the heat and high gravity of the planet was starting to wear down the crew of both ships, the only saving grace was the absence of humidity in the air. In front of the Control Tower and the Office of Procurement there were a few Imperial Stormtroopers maintaining a lazy vigil. Even armed, the three of them passed without difficulty and found themselves facing a stocky man in an unbuttoned uniform, of the local brand, reclining on his chair behind his desk.
Caster approached the man with a wide smile. “This is the Office of Procurements? I need a power coupling, would you happen to have one for sale?”
Right behind Caster, Kes and Kaylani assumed a guarded stance while waiting to see what happened with the young captain’s request.
Languidly, the man looked up to Caster. “Huh? Oh.” He fumbled with a pile of flimsiplast and handed over at least five sheets. “Fill these up and then we’ll see about your part.” Without even checking if Caster took the pile of flimsy he reclined back on his chair.
Caster only nodded and flipped through the papers, moving away from the man to let the other through. Quitly, but trying to be overheard by the other two Caster began talking to himself. “This will take far to long. Guess I’ll head through the illegal channels.”
Kes quirked her brow at the comment, while Kaylani moved up to the counter in turn, sighing. “I guess I need me a pile of flimsies too, since we’re short a capacitor. Don’t suppose I could interest you in a game of sabbac later, while we all wait for the paperwork to go through?”
At Kay’s comment, the bored bureaucrat looked up to her and furrowed his brow. “Can’t, wife’s waiting for me after the shift. Just fill these and we’ll take a look at what you need, shouldn’t take too long.”
“Really? Be the first time in my life paperwork was fast. You must have a magic touch with the red tape.” Kay saluted the man as she took the pile of flimsies.
The paperwork was mostly details about the ship, crew, passengers, cargo. Both Kay and Caster realized they had already filled out such forms upon landing here, but apparently a few minor alteration warranted a brand new form.
Caster waited for the two while filling out the form and finally attempted conversation when Kay got nearer. “So, you stuck here on this great metropolis, I thought I should ask, where are you from?”
Kaylani rolled her eyes discreetly at Kes, giving her captain the paperwork with a smile. “Born on ship, bucko, I’m from everywhere. You?” She lifted an eyebrow as she turned to him.
Caster waved his hand. “Corellia. Used to have a pretty nice business there. Now I just wander the stars.”
Kes gave out a sigh at the two and began to fill out the papers, scribbling as fast as possible while Kay quipped. “Really? So how’d a grand businessman from Corellia end up here in Ur-Talok? Not really a major throughway here.”
Caster flashed a smile. "Oh, they’re are ways, and ways. Most of them…” He jerked his thumb at the counter. “…Our friend here wouldn’t really like.”
Kay’s eyes widened in pretend shock and innocence and she replied in whispers. “You sure you want to talk about that here?” She gave a glance at the Stormtroopers standing outside.
Caster laughed openly. “This place is so backwater, I could probably bribe this guy in open sight and these poor saps wouldn’t care, as long as I threw a bit there way. But, I won’t.” He turned to the officer of procurement. “Sorry mate, Anyway, what did you fly in on?”
“Why? Hoping we have a spare coupling to trade, so you don’t have to fill out your paperwork?” Kay glanced back at Kes, who was probably almost done by now, while Caster was still chatting instead of writing, which Kes confirmed with a nod.
“I like to know” Caster scrambled to fill out his own forms.
After a few minutes of frenetic writing, Kes stoop up. “Agh, finally. Done. I hate these flimsies.”
“But that’s why you’re Captain. You really should learn to delegate such things” Kay gave her captain an evil grin, before grabbing the flimsies and delivering them back to the counter.
The clerc perused them off-handedly before nodding. He then turned to a terminal and began inputing data. “So, what did you need again?”
“Power Capacitor for our hyperdrive” Kaylani replied while Kes muttered to herself. “Bet they don’t have one. Paperwork for nothing.”
“Ah yes. Let me see here…” The clerk absently scratched his head while studying his screen. “Well we do have some… but nothing in the range of what you need. Unless you lied and you’re in fact running a bulk freighter…”
Upon this bit of news, Kaylani sighed. “Nope, not a freighter.”
“Tell you what. Let me just process this other fellow and I’ll tell you where you might be able to find something. No guarantees though.”
Caster took the cue and stepped forward. “Hey. I doubt they have what I need either. And I’m known for knowing people. Perhaps we could make this work, because if they have my part, I’d be amazed.” Presenting the stack of flimsies to the clerk, he added. “Power coupling for the engines”
Meanwhile, Kaylani turned to her captain and addressed her in zabrak. “How many credits did we save skipping the toll? Cause I”m thinking our friendly informative clerk might want a few of them. As will his friends with parts… "
“A hundred, maybe? I don’t know. Don’t pay anyone if we can avoid it.” Kes answered, also in zabrak.
The clerk was once again perusing another stack of flimsies, this time from Caster. "We should have power couplings… There we go. We have plenty of them, let me just order one from our stocks to be brought here.” With some confidence, his fingers dance upon the controls until, to his dismay, the screen flashed in the shades of crimson.
“That doesn’t look promising.” Kaylani commented at the flashing screen while attempting not to laugh, all the while her captain was struggling to keep a smirk off her own face.
“What’s this now?… Reserved? One hundred power couplings “reserved”!?” The clerk of the Office of Procurations spat out in disgust.
“Ooh, maybe the businessman will have to pay him too. That should make things cheaper.” Kaylani murmured to her captain in zabrak.
Kes gave her a sceptical look before replying in the same tongue. “Do you really think he’d pay? Cheapskate, that one.”
“Hey, I can hope. Stranger things have happened. To us, even.” Kay closed the exchange in zabrak, while shrugging.
“Tough luck, friend.” Kes patted Caster’s back as she approached the desk. “So, where are we looking for our parts?”
Caster gave off another of his smiles. “Its the way the galaxy works”
The clerk had stopped trying to fight with his terminal and looked up to Caster. “I’m sorry, it appears someone on top in all his wisdom decided all power couplings were reserved…”
“Useless jackassed imperal slob” Caster cursed in huttese before reverting to basic. "I guess thats just how it is. Prices can change things though….” He added as he pulled out his credit chip.
“I’ll keep my job, as bad as it is. Thanks.”
Kay elbowed her captain gently and interjected in zabrak. “See? Told you. He’s more impatient than he is cheap. Good news for us, I bet.”
“I can only hope.” Was the only reply her captain gave her, also in zabrak.
Caster gave the clerk another of his smiles. “Down here? You’re an intersting man. Well, I won’t trouble you further” He then stepped away from the desk, motioning the other two to follow.
Kes, not having finished with the clerk, grabbed his attention. “Where are we looking, sir?”
The man has visibly been waiting for an opening to speak, as he addressed all of them. “Look, your best bet at this point is going to the markets in the slums, its not safe, but all the junk vendors go there, so you might get lucky. Or you can wait and I can try reserving your parts, but I can’t guarantee anything.”
Kes sighed. “Well, Kay, I guess you were right. Don’t rub it in. Thank you, sir.”
“Thanks, we’ll try the markets I think. Anyone in particular you can recommend?” Kay asked the clerk, but he only shook his head with an apologetic shrug, suggesting he could not do more for them.
“Thank you for your time.” Caster told the man insincerely before adding “Slob." in huttese.
Kes finally snapped at this latest insult and accosted Caster in huttese. “The man’s doing his job. What do you want from him?”
Kaylani glanced at Caster, waiting for his reaction to finding out others had understood his insults. He tried to avoid looking surprise, a feat he almost accomplished.
“I could care less, really. The faster I get off this rock and toward some planet that has an real economy, the better” Caster answered in huttese.
“Fine. But there’s no need to act like that to people that aren’t to blame.” Kes replied in huttese, before turning to Kay and switching to basic. “Come on. We have work to do.”
“Looks like your way is my way, mind if I tag along?” Caster queried.
Kay gave him an insolent grin. “If you don’t go insulting people any more. Hard to get good prices if they’re mad at us.”
As she left the building, Kes shot a silent glare to her pilot.
“What? He’s obviously got money to flash. Might encourage some extra traders to talk to us.” Kaylani answered innocently in zabrak.
As the three prepare themselves to leave the spaceport, a man in the tarnished coveralls of the work crews approached Kaylani hesitantly.
“Excuse me miss?”
“Yes sir?” She replied while giving him a glance, while Caster seems to be ready to take over the discussion, before thinking better of it.
The man looked over Kes and Caster, mostly all the weapons they were carrying. “I was err.. wondering… since you are from a ship and… well, I really want to get my little girl off this planet… and I have savings, but its not much… I’d give you everything but can you take her?” He stammered as he looked nervously about.
Attentive to their surroundings, Caster and Kaylani immediately noticed that the source of his nervousness was a group of nearby Stormtroopers.
Kay was very careful not to look at nearby Stormtroopers as she leaned in and whispered to him. “Now why are you trying to get your little girl away from the Imperials?”
The man looked slight confused at the question and shook his head. “Its not that miss, we aren’t allowed to disturb foreigners.”
The pilot of the Silent Destiny raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “Well, then how bout you explain yourself while showing us the way to the markets? Pretend we’re dumb foreigners and can’t find the right road. We even asked for help. See, this is me asking for help. I’m lost!”
Caster joined in with a laugh. “Yeah. We’re a bunch of clueless foreigners. Anyway, what about your kid now?”
The man smiled nervously at the two before continuing. “I can’t get you very far though, I’m not cleared to wander out of the spaceport.” He led the group through a series of tangled back passages and warehouses. “Yes, my daughter. Ever since her mother died in the mining accidents, I haven’t been able to properly take care of her. I figure that she has a better chance out there, then being stuck here with me.”
“Where would we bring her? Is there family you have in mind?” Kes chimed in.
The man fumbled with his words. “I don’t know anyone offworld, but anywhere has to be better than here, right?”
Caster bit back a retort, trying his best not to insult the man while Kay questioned him. “So you’re chucking her out into the stars on her own?”
“Look, I don’t know about these two, but that sounds like a lot of risk to put one of your kin in. How do you even know we’ll get her to our ships? I, personally, am inclined to get your money and leave your kid here, maybe outside the spaceport. She’s not flying with me.” Caster shot, his threat dripping with sarcasm.
Kes sighed and shook her head at Caster while the man recoiled in horror at the words.
“I thought offworlders had more decency than the people on Erawlon.”
Caster only gave him a grin. “People are people, no matter where you go. We’re all the same. She’s safest with you. Trust me.”
“Don’t listen to him, he just has trouble keeping his opinions to himself.” Kes cut in, prompting to shrug and step back. “Your call.”
“However much I dislike the businessman, he has a point. Why would you think she’d be better on her own, or with questionable strangers, than with you?” Kay asked.
The man seemed to regain some hope. “She won’t have much of a life here, eventually one of the gangs will get to her, if not the best she can hope for is joining one of the mining crews or one of the work crew here.”
Kes frowned. “Does she want to leave?”
“Yes… and no.” The man hanged his head in defeat. “She won’t want to leave me, even if its what’s best for her.”
Caster slapped his palm against his forehead while Kaylani continued the discussion. “Well why are you trying to bribe strangers to steal her, if she’s not going to cooperate? The only people who would take you up on that would be slavers. Not who you want with your daughter.”
“I was going to convince her, but finding someone who would take her is the hardest part. My savings aren’t very big and there’s no reason to get her hopes up.” The man told Kaylani.
“How…how old is she?” Kes asked.
Kay turned to her captain in zabrak while Caster’s forehead met his palm once more.“I am tempted to take him up on his offer just to get her away from the idiot.”She then turned back to the Erawlonite. “What is WRONG with you, man? Throwing an eight year old girl into space with strangers?”
Caster was struggling not ot explode, his hands clenched in fists and a lengthy tirade on his tongue. Kaylani simply continued admonishing the man.“Are you trying to lose all your money and get her sold to the Hutts? Cause there aren’t very many nice things likely to happen out there on her own.”
Before the man could reply, Stormtroopers approached, noticing the heating up of the exchange.
Kes placed a hand on her pilot’s shoulder, as if to restrain her, but Kaylani simply turns away to face the Stormtroopers with a pleasant smile.
“Hello sirs, can we help you?”
“What seems to be the problem here? Are you being bothered?” The first of the two white armored soldiers asked in a grizzled voice filtered by his helmet.
“No sir, just upset your office didn’t have our parts. This kind fellow agreed to show us to the market, however.” Kes nodded at Kay’s simple explanation.
“Didn’t seem like anything of the sort to us ma’am.” The second Stormtrooper replied, tapping the spot on his polished helmet where his right ear would be.
“Well, we were having a bit of an argument about our god-daughter. I needed an outsider’s advice. She’s only eight, but thinks she should get to fly through space with us.” Kaylani bluffed.
The first Stormtrooper gave a nod at the explanation. “Alright, move along.”
“Thanks sir.” Kaylani turned to leave and Kes nodded politely.
As the small group moved away from the Stormtroopers, the man from the spaceport work crew thanked Kay profusely, a sentiment shared by Caster.
Yet the young woman only glared at the man. “Would’ve served you right if they’d dragged you off. Idiot.”
“I hope your girl somehow shows more comon sense than you” Caster added, looking amused.
Kes placed her hand on Kay’s shoulder again. “He went about it wrong, but his heart’s in the right place.”
She received a faltering glare from her pilot and sigh. “Yes, Captain.”
The man hung his head in shame. “I’m sorry. We’re here." Pausing, he showed a wide boulevard flanked by tall towers. “Follow this and you should reach the checkpoint in no time. Again, sorry to have bothered you.”
With a bit of hesitation, Kes interjected. “Wait.”
Caster gave a nod. “Its not problem. At least not for me.” He continued with a grin. “I hope your girl doesn’t end up a slave!”
The man looked up to Kes as she ignored Caster. “I’m not…sure what we could do. We can’t bring her around with us until she’s old enough, but… If I had a daughter that age, I wouldn’t want her here, either. It’s dangerous out there just as much as here, though.”
“I don’t know anything about what’s out there, but I just want her to get a better life.” He said meekly.
Kaylani gave out a snort of derision. “She won’t thank you for it, if you throw her off on her own. All she’ll know is that you got rid of her.”
Kes shot a glance at her pilot. “Is there someplace safe we could put her?”
“I know lots of people, none of whom I’d trust with an eight year old.” She replied with a glance of her own. “If I knew where Savit was. He’s great with kids.”
“Don’t look at me. I don’t know anyone.” Caster offered.
“Didn’t ask you.” Kes shot to Caster before turning to the man. “Unless you can think of any family, there’s not much we can do. But don’t go around asking random offworlders. That’s the worst thing you could do.”
“O-ok. I don’t know anyone, but thank you anyways.”
“I’m sorry.” Kes told him.
“You could always look into a boarding school. Take her there yourself, get you both off planet.” Kay interjected, Kes nodding at her suggestion and smiling slightly at her pilot.
The man nodded politely before leaving and Kes bit her knuckle anxiously. “Let’s go.”
“Yes. maybe we can talk to someone rational, that’d be nice.” Caster offered offhandedly.
The annoyed captain of the Silent Destiny jerked her thumb back at her counterpart from the Vainglory. “Kay, that one is your fault.”
“Sorry.” Was all Kaylani could say.
The small group steps unto the boulevard and it seems they’ve stepped in another world for a moment, with shopping galleries brimming with displays and socialites chatting in posh terraces. That is, until they reach the permacrete wall separating this part of the city from the rest. On the other side of the guards, it seems to be a poor neighbourhood comprised of low houses and tight streets. Yet, soon they discovered that on the other side of a dirty river lied the true slums of the city. The bridge leading there was little more than a slab of duracrete and as they cross it they realize that the shanty town in front of them went on for a few miles in nearly all directions. It did not look inviting, but at least there was a main thoroughfare leading from the bridge to where the center of the slums should be.
“Eyes open, boys and girls.” Kes warned.
As the small band arrived on the other side of the bridge, they promptly found themselves face to face with a band of six humans in worn clothes, each sporting a primitive firearm.
“I’m going to assume there is a toll we need to pay?” Caster asked.
A scrapper gave him a smug look. “You assumed well enough pretty boy. Twenty five Imperial Credits, per head.”
“How bout five? We’re shoppers, so you should get a cut from the sellers further in.” Kay chimed in. “Unless they like you interfering with their business.”
“Look, I understand the problem and all, but we need to hurry. An old friend of mine lives here, we need to reach him and help him out of a bind he’s in, ya know? Besides, I don’t think we can even cough up the cash we’d need for your prices. We’ll pay you back in what we need to buy. So wave the charge this one time, and you’ll find it all worth your while later on.” Caster continued after Kaylani.
“Huh? Five creds? You think we’re stupid?” One of the scrappers commented on Kay’s offer.
“Can it, let’s hear what the pretty boy has to say.” A third scrapper interjected.
“Alright, but don’t take us for idiots, you have no friends here offworlder.” The first one added.
Sizing up Caster, the third scrapper continued for his friends. “Now look, we don’t want goods but creds. I’m sure someone of your standing could pay fifteen. No need to cough up anything on your return, its a one time thing.”
“Maybe, maybe not. You let us in for free this time, and let me see if I can buy what I need. I don’t have the money right now, but my friend owes me a bit, I’ll pay you guys on the way out. I’ve always been a man of my word.” Caster offered with a brilliant smile.
“Ee’s thinking we’re stupid it seems.” One of the scrappers told his friends.
“Looks like it.” Another agreed.
“Alright. I was going to pay you twenty per head on the way out, but fifteen now works too.” Caster yielded.
“Good, you wouldn’t want us to mess you up over a misunderstanding, now would you?” Yet another scrapper asked rhetorically.
“I totally understand. Public maintenance should never be crossed with backstabbing.” Caster replied.
After paying up Caster turned to his improvised companions.“Damn. Well, I misread them, they win this round.”
“Round two won’t happen. Let’s go before they change their minds.” Kes whispered.
“Did better than I did. Thanks. And yes, let’s hurry.” Kay added with a snort.
The men and women let them pass without further harassment and they could finally enter the slums. As they ventured further into the unfriendly neighborhood, they began feeling they really want to keep their visit brief and without noticing it,they picked up a slightly brisker pace. The street was deathly quiet and no one was in sight. Soon, they reached the market which at least seemed alive but not more inviting. Piles of scrap abounded left and right while merchants of every stripe tried to sell their wares to the desperate customers who lived in the slums.
Caster grinned. “Sure, its a bit rough around the edges, but I’ve never met a market I didn’t like.”
The comment prompted a snort from Kaylani while she looked around. “Never met a credit you didn’t like, I gather. Let’s see if we can find some ship parts, huh?”
“Who doesn’t like credits?” Caster walked up to random vendor. “Hey, sir, you wouldn’t know who sells ship parts around here, would you?”
He was rebuffed by a short man who gave him throaty laugh and waved him off.
Kes turned to her pilot and addressed her in Zabrak. “So, he talks. But can he ever /stop/ talking?”
“Probably not. You frequently have the same problem with me, after all.” Kay answered in the same tongue.
“Yes, but you’re nice.” Kes quipped back.
None of the three spotted anything of interest except scrap, which every case failed to be even remotely close to the parts they needed. After wondering for a while, a Herglic waved them over.
Kaylani and Caster approached almost instantly with a smile and the Herglic greeted them with a booming voice.
“My friends! Well met! I am Samovar and I am convinced I can make your day. Tell me, what ails you?”
“The poor realization that we may be in the wrong market for what we need. Perhaps you have what we’re looking for, Samovar. my name is Caster, and I think we are well met indeed.” Caster replied.
“Well met, friend Samovar! We are having some technical troubles with our ships, I am forced to admit.” Kay added.
Standing back, Kes gave a small wave and a weak smile; markets and charming strangers were clearly not her zone.
“Oh ho! Samovar understands! Ship parts, not too common in these parts, yes? This is your lucky day, Samovar recently acquired this from a passing trader.” With a grandiose flourish Samovar introduced a huge chuck of carbonite, prompting confused blinks from Kaylani and Caster.
“That’s, uh, not the part we were looking for.” Kes stepped in.
“That’s a rather large block of carbonite. Tell me, anything intersting inside it, my good merchant?” Caster asked.
Samovar gave off a rumbling laughter. “Little Zabrak is very funny! No my friends, part are inside, take a look here.” All three saw part of a power coupling jutting out of the carbonite block where Samovar pointed.
“How did they…get that way?” Kes asked as her pilot leaned in for a better look at the carbonite. There seemed to be a plethora of parts from a ship bunched up in the carbonite, but could not tell what parts were actually inside.
“Who knows? Not Samovar. I just buy it. Is exciting, isn’t it?”
“Did your trader friend happen to mention where he came by such an… interesting piece of carbonite?” Kay queried.
“Space is big place, yes? Does it matter? Unless friends of yours?”
“Might be. I have lots of friends” Kaylani answered speculatively.
Samovar turned serious. “Wreck is old friend, maybe decade old, who knows. Lots happen since then, drift, damage.” He shrugged. “Samovar not ask any question when given such an exciting piece.”
“I have misplaced a lot of friends in space too. Do you happen to know the name of the wreck?” Kay asked him.
“No name, old, perhaps clue inside, yes?”
“How much extra for the location?” She pressed.
“Samovar would give you information if he knew!” The trader answered immediately.
“Thank you Samovar. Who was the trader? Maybe we can make a deal with him?” Kaylani continued with her questions.
“Human trader, fat. Name is…” Samovar took some time to ponder. “Gerd Risan.”
“Thanks again.” Kaylani stepped back with a thoughtful look on her face.
Meanwhile, Caster’s face lit up. “Well now, we just might have a deal. Mind if we inspect it? To check to make sure the power coupling fits the ship, naturally.”
“The whole thing or nothing and no refund.” The large trader shot back.
“Oh, clearly Samovar. Ok, one more question, I would prefer just the parts and not the carbonite, would you have some way to..err… defrost it?” Caster asked.
“Yes, yes. Will open it here.” The trader allayed Caster’s fears. “Care to gamble with Samovar instead of buying?”
“I’m a saleman myself, Samovar. But maybe after we make a deal I wouldn’t a bit of fun. So, whats your price?” Caster queried.
“No no, Human does not understand. We gamble on contents, share risk, share excitement!” Samovar said excitedly.
Kes’ hand clamped down oppressively on Caster’s shoulder. “We’d prefer to just pay for it, if we like the price.”
Caster nodded. “Ah. I see.” He motioned to Kay. “I’m not much of a gambler myself, but I think Kay here likes Pazaak.” He shot a glance at Kes. “Or not. Do you have a price?”
“Two thousand credits” The Herglic trader answered.
The tough captain of the Silent Destiny choked on the words. “Two thousand?”
“I see. We gamble then!” Caster said.
“Good! Good! You pay Samovar two hundred credits and you get to choose three things once carbonite melted. Samovar keeps the rest. Exciting, yes?” Samovar explained enthusiastically.
“Let’s keep looking at this spectacular piece for a bit.” Caster began. “And about the rules, could I up the ante to lets say, 400, and pick more things?”
“Oh, human catches on!” Samovar clapped his large hands. “Very good, very good. Four hundred, for five picks. Is fair, yes?”
“Any ceiling to that? Or set rate of depreciation on the…” Caster spotted abruptly, realizing he might be speaking of things above the trader’s comprehension. “After we look at it a bit more, we’ll give you many picks we want and you set the price.”
“Good, good. Samovar is waiting.”
‘Good." Caster turned to the others. "So, you guys find anything you want? I’m naturally going for the power coupling."
Kes gave an uneasy, questioning glance to her pilot.“Just don’t want to get saddled with paying for something you want.” She told him.
“You’re the one who set up the gamble. We’ll pay you 80 for a capacitor if it’s in there… that’s a fifth of your price, for one piece out of five. Anything else, you can get.” Kaylani continued for her captain, who nodded in approval.
“Ok.” Caster turned to Samovar. “Lets have some fun, eh? I’ll put up 400 for five picks.”
Samovar took the credits and nodded. “Now lets see what is in here!”
Samovar activated two small modules on the side of the chunk of carbonite and it started melting away, slowly dissipating. Even Samovar seemed taken aback as it is revealed that among the various ship parts, there was a young woman. It was difficult to say if she was alive or not. Apart from the power coupling, a power capacitor could also be easily spotted among all the pieces.
Caster blinked in surprise. “The… what… well, that was not expected.”
Kes was shocked. “I don’t suppose that’s still included in those five objects?” She nodded in the direction of the woman.
“Is gamble. Fair is fair, Samovar said you can take any five things, if you want human female, then so be it.”
“Huh. Well. Um.” Kes looked to Caster.
Kay addressed her captain in Zabrak. “Do we have 160? To pay Caster for the woman too? We can’t just leave her here, and I don’t trust the businessman not to sell her off at the first chance.”
Kes replied in the same tongue.“I agree. I think I have enough. Is she even still alive?” She moved to check on the woman.
“Well… " Caster grabbed the power coupling, and started rumaging around the junk for anything else interesting. “I’m looking around for some stock parts for modification on the ship.”
Caster rummaged through the junk and the best he found was another power coupling and an energy capacitor for a ship mounted weapon. Kes, after checking on the woman, realized she was alive, though barely. At least she was stable.
“Well, businessman, I was wondering if we could up our offer to 160 for two “parts”… especially since it looks like you’ve only found three to your liking?" Kay offered.
“Sure.” Caster agreed.
“Glad to hear it.” Kaylani replied before paying him and grabbing the power capacitor. Kes hoisted the woman over her shoulder carefully.
Caster took his allotted three parts.“Thanks for doing business with you.”
“My pleasure Human!” Samovar immediately began sorting through the remaining parts.
“I’m done. We should take her back – if this was really such an old wreck…” Kes furrowed her brow in worry.
Having found what they wanted, and more, the small group headed back to the bridge crossing into Ur-Talok proper. Yet, before they could quite make it, they heard an earth-shattering impact. For a few moments every thing seemed calm until suddenly, shoddy buildings started crumbling around them, the ground rocked and cracked open in some places.
“What the hell?!” Kes exclaimed in surprise as she was thrown to the ground. Caster suffers the same fate, while Kaylani manages to stay standing. She quickly helps her captain up, making sure the unconscious woman they found is unharmed. The quiet streets soon became filled with panicked cries and shouts.
Caster winced and rolled over unto his back. “What was that?”
“As long as I didn’t land on her head or hit her anywhere, she should be fine, yes?” Kes glanced around as she carefully rose with the help of her pilot. “Whatever that was, that’s just telling me we should get back faster.”
Kes, Kaylani and Caster rushed out of the slums and crossed the bridge. Only then did they notice two large ships swooping in over the city. One of them was over the slums and firing at what seems like random locations with its twin turbolasers, while the other loomed over the richer part of the city, unleashing a slew of small crafts that seemed to be landing everywhere in that part of the city. Behind them, they could hear a mob of panicked inhabitants from the slums also making their way in the direction of richer part of the city. The three immediately started to run.
“They’re gonna go after our ships, you know… maybe we should lie low somewhere?” Kay asked.
“And then what? Get shot? I’m with pretty boy, we need to be off and gone.” Kes added.
They found the permacrete wall guarding the richer part of Ur-Talok, unmanned of any sort of guards and they heard distant fighting further in.
“Better than being blown up by pirates?” Kaylani quipped.“But I’d much rather be gone too… just thought I should mention the possibility. I’ll scout ahead, see if we can avoid the fighting?”
Caster spat out a curse. “Yeah. yeah. You’re right.”
“Go scout ahead.” Kes nodded. “We’ll hide somewhere.”
Kay crossed the checkpoint into the upscale quarter and started exploring to find alternate routes with no battles going on. She took a series of back-alleys and managed to make it at least a third of the way to the spaceport, everything looked clear until she stumbled upon a Bothan and a Duros, both were wearing bright colors and were armed with a blaster carbine. Fortunately for Kay, they did not seem to see her. In a bit of a panic she hides behind a nearby pile of refuse. Both of the aliens were discussing about where they should be looting next and if they should burden themselves with prisoners or not, before they moved to a more important thoroughfare. Kay breathed a sigh of relief and went back to looking for a safe route. This time around, she found a serpentine route through a series of alleyways which brought her to the spaceport, but not quite, there was a short bit of ground to cover in the open to truly get into the spaceport, where some heavy fighting seemed to be taking place. Deciding to inform her companions of the situation, Kay headed back without mishaps, but she realized the longer they delay, the less safe the route she found would become.
“So, whats up?” Caster asked her.
“Found a route, need to hurry before it goes bad. but there’s fighting at the port itself.” She replied.
Caster nodded. “Right. Who’s winning? I’d rather my ship not get stolen.”
“Couldn’t tell. Shall we go see?” Kaylani gestured back the way she came.
Caster pondered. "Yeah. We need to keep moving anyway, this spot isn’t really safe anymore”
Kaylani drew her blaster before leading Kes and Caster through her route back to the spaceport and avoid running afoul any of the attackers. The last stretch to the spaceport, while open, seemed clear for now. Kay gestured to the group to get going while the going was still good. Caster dropped the two extra parts and drew his blaster, while Kes was still stuck carrying the woman. The three ran to the spaceport and made it there without difficulty, but as they turned a corner at a running speed, they are forced to a halt as they come face to face with the business end of a blaster rifle held by a Stromtrooper. They spot more Stormtroopers behind him, under cover by a barricade, exchanging fire with a group of mismatched aliens. Both sides had a great deal of casualties, more so for the attackers.
“Identify yourselves!” The Stormtrooper barked in a helmet-filtered voice.
“Crew of the Silent Destiny, trying to get back to our ship and under cover, sir!” Kaylani replied quickly.
“Caster Novastar, owner of a ship that with some luck will still be here, the Vainglory.” Caster added.
“Kes Varn, captain of the Silent Destiny.” Kes identified herself.
“And, um, one girl that we sorta found frozen in carbonite.” Caster finished.
The Stormtrooper looked the group over, especially Kes. “Right, you don’t seem like pirates. Can’t be too safe even if they don’t have humans with them.”
“So, can we go? Don’t want to get shot or anything.” Kes asked.
“You should take cover and stay put until the situation is resolved.” As he answered another Stormtrooper took a shot in the chest and collapsed on the ground.
“Good plan. Thank sir.” Caster replied in haste before starting to leave.
“Stop your idling Muhler and man the damn line!” A Stormtrooper without a helmet yelled from the barricade.
“Aye sarge!” The Stormtrooper who had accosted Kes, Kaylani and Caster ran to the barricade and began firing.
Kaylani turned to her captain in Zabrak. “We might need to help shoot pirates, Captain. There doesn’t seem to be any other way back to the ship.”
Kes grimaced and looked a the young woman on her shoulder. “Is there any place to put her so that she’s not in the middle? Can’t shoot with her here.”
She then spots a place near the barricade where are laid many wounded or dead, civilians and Stormtroopers both. By the look of things, there are more wounded or dead Stormtroopers than those alive, manning the barricade.
“There.” Kes jogged over and placed the girl down before coming back and pulling out her rifle.
Caster grimaced in turn. “I’ve never been a good shot”
“Then stay under cover.” Kaylani approached the Stormtroopers. "Can we help, Sergeant? Only way to clear a path to our ship, after all… "
The Stormtrooper Sergeant turned to look at the three in between firing a few shots.“Civvies with guts, I like that.” He fired off a few shot before hunkering down for good. “The bastards took over the control tower, we need to take it back if we want anything to take off.” He pointed at the ragtag group of Aliens shooting at them. “Unfortunately, these guys aren’t cooperating. What I need is a few people outflanking them to seperate their fire, but I don’t have the men to spare. Think you’re up to it?”
“Yessir.” Kes exclaimed.
“That’s the spirit. Take Visago and Konsee with you.” The Sergeant singled out two Stormtroopers to join the three and the immediately left the barricade, ready to move out.
Kes gave a nod of welcome to the two Stormtroopers.“Sergeant, keep an eye on my civilian, there.”
He gave a curt nod in reply, before pulling himself back up and opening fire with the rest of his squad.