THREE YEARS AFTER THE CLONE WARS
Captain Soleil finishes her drink, and practically slams the cup on the table, eager for another round at the Courageous Clone cantina. As she gets up from the table she was sitting at with Raighl, Oduph, and Max, a voice cuts through the din of music, talking and laughter permeating the cantina. “Quiet! Shaddup! I’ve got words to share with you all!” Shouts a pasty, pudgy, balding Human male in his late thirties, wearing a dark grey Imperial officer uniform opened at the front. “This is an auspicious day,” the man continues loudly, causing a look of confusion to pass over Oduph‘s features. “What day is it?” Oduph asks his tablemates, but Raighl shrugs, and the Human continues his obnoxious speech from across the cantina. “What a glorious day, a day when all proud Imperial citizens can celebrate the safety and security on their worlds, Empire Day! The end of the scumbag Separatists and the dawn of a new galaxy!” Shouts and cheers erupt from around the bar, and Soleil gets up from their table and walks towards it. “What month is it?” Oduph asks himself, even more confused. The Human stops Soleil as she walks up to the bar. “You gonna drink to the Empire with me?” The Human asks her, slurring his words heavily. “It was three years to the day that the Empire sent those Seppies and their tin cans running to the Rim. Cowards.” "As it turns out, I’m not thirsty," Soleil replies through clenched teeth, as she returns to her crew at their table and hastily orders them all back to Ataraxia, where Tik’Trii is waiting, before any trouble starts.
Captain Soleil and her crew enter the Santo spaceport and walk up to the landing pad supporting Ataraxia, where Tik’Trii flashes them a grin, leaning against the outside of the starship. “Have we got a job Captain?” He asks Soleil, who gives him a quick nod as the others board Ataraxia. “Is it crime? Tik’Trii loves crime,” the Chadra-Fan eagerly asks. “Well then I guess you’ll be pleased. Now how about we get off Jazbina before any more zealous Imperials want to celebrate Empire Day with us?” Soleil replies, boarding Ataraxia with Tik’Trii following suite, and scampering up to the cockpit to begin the preflight sequence. Within minutes Ataraxia has broken Jazbina‘s atmosphere and orbit, and jumps to hyperspace. Soleil notifies her crew over the intercom to meet her in the lounge to discuss their new job, and waits a few minutes admiring hyperspace, before making her way to the lounge herself. Raighl, Raiden, Max, Oduph and Shamü are all seated at the table or on loungers when Soleil enters, who scans the room and immediately asks, “Where in blazes is BB?” Hardly a moment after Soleil asks, B.B. “Wailing” Jinkins rushes into the lounge with a strained look on his face, and immediately seats himself. "Sorry I’m late Captain, had to deal with the ex-wife. But I hear something about crime being on the table today?" Soleil rolls her eyes at the Bith and sighs, “Yes, we’ve got ourselves some crime to be done, but let me be clear: not all of you will be working this job, especially when we dock. We’ve got co-ordinates for a location in the Yinchorr system. When we get there, anyone who isn’t coming with me to meet with our contact is staying on the ship, and in their quarters. Dong-mah ?”
“So who’s the contact?” Raighl asks, and with the prompting, Soleil displays the holo of an aging green Hutt from her comlink. “This is Moska the Hutt, a gangster who runs the Hutt Syndicate in these parts of space, or so I’ve heard. He’s got a business opportunity for anyone daring enough to rob the Empire, so I thought we might be good for the job. What do you all think?” Soleil asks, turning the conversation over to her crew, who all begin talking at once. “Me no like Hutts Captain,” Max says, “but me love takin’ their credits!” The other crew members either speak in agreement or nod their heads at the idea. “Well, now that’s settled, Raighl and Oduph, you’re with me, Tik’Trii’ll keep Ataraxia hot. We’ll be meeting with Moska on his personal space station, Port Nowhere, where he’ll give us the details of the job. Everyone else is confined to quarters while we’re docked with Port Nowhere. Get anything you want to do out of the way now, we’ll be there in about 18 hours,” Soleil says, finishing the briefing, and letting everyone get back to what they were doing. Returning to her room, Soleil shakes her head at the situation, and starts charging her power packs before settling in for some rest.
Ataraxia drops out of hyperspace around Yinchorr, a giant orange-yellow sphere of deserts and acid lakes, before coming up on the space station Port Nowhere, as it orbits into view. Tik’Trii whistles at the sight, startling Oduph Nychoth as he naps in the cockpit. “Sheesh, you’d think 18 hours would’ve been enough time for him to sleep,” Raighl complains dryly to Soleil, the four of them taking up seats as they climb into Ataraxia‘s cockpit. "Tiki’Trii’s never seen a station that large, but Tiktrii’s never seen a space station over thousand years old either," the Chadra-Fan comments. “Hutts live longer than that Tik’Trii, we’d better make sure we make a good first impression,” Soleil says, as Tik’Trii pilots Ataraxia into an open hangar. Once Ataraxia lands, the boarding ramp descends, and Soleil, Raighl and Oduph walk down the ramp, following Soleil through the winding circular corridors towards the heart of Port Nowhere Station.
Steam bursts through poor seals, and loose wiring sparks in the tubular corridors that Soleil, Oduph and Raighl walk through, before reaching a large, sealed blast door. The door spirals open and a large Zygerrian, holding a vibroknife, stands in the doorway menacingly. “Krall, let them in,” a thickly accented voice booms in Basic at the Zygerrian, who moves aside to let the three pass into Moska the Hutt‘s audience chamber. Bedecked with artifacts and décor likely stolen from a hundred worlds or more, Moska the Hutt’s audience chamber looks more like a museum than a place to greet and deal with beings. “You must forgive Krall,” Moska the Hutt continues, “he loves to stand in the door and say boo!” The aging green Hutt laughs disgustingly and licks at the air with his large worm-like tongue. “And which one of you is Captain Soleil?” Moska asks the three. “That would be me, your excellency,” Soleil replies, walking towards the dais upon which Moska is seated. “Ah! You have made quite a name for yourself; Captain Soleil gets the job done is the talk! But do you know what this talk is? This gossip? Hmphh,” Moska the Hutt glowers at Soleil and her two crewmates, before motioning to Krall to open a door in the rear of the audience chamber. Soleil lets out a small gasp as the door is roughly shoved aside and a man is visible in the small room, bleeding from dozens of torture wounds, and suspended upside-down vertically, in a ray shield by the hands and ankles.
“I too have a reputation, not so pleasant,” Moska says, “Maybe you knew that but any talk, gossip, is now fact. It’s real, solid. You do the train job for me, and you will be solid Captain.” Soleil is still staring at the bleeding man, unsure if he’s alive or dead. “You do not like that I kill this man?” Moska the Hutt asks, unintentionally clearing up the matter. “Uh, no your Excellency. I mean, it’s fine you’re Excellency, obviously he did something to warrant it, at least I assume that….” Soleil trails off as Krall turns off the ray shield and the corpse drops to the floor. “I am surprised you did not recognize him,” Moska says amusedly, “He was, after all, the data technician you duped into copying our financial records and asset locations for the Teahouse. Though I admit I can’t tell most humanoids apart, if they don’t have a varying number of limbs or eyes,” Moska says off-handedly, as a look of dread slowly creeps over Raighl’s face. " Chut-Chut my dear, I am not looking to take one of your eyes, or a limb, to settle a slight," Moska says, chuckling greasily, “I am looking to hire your Captain, and her crew, as you are clearly more than capable for the job I have to offer. Tell me Captain, have you ever robbed a train in your misadventures?”
“I’ve never been fortunate enough to have a lucrative opportunity, your Excellency. Where will we be heading?” Soleil says to Moska the Hutt. The Hutt crime lord presses a button on his dais, and a large hologram of a planet, Ord Trasi, appears from a holoprojector in the floor. “You will go to Ord Trasi, where a representative of mine will be waiting for you to pick up tickets and false ID’s for yourself Captain, and two of your crew, no more,” Moska says. You will board the train at Paradiso," a red light appears on the hologram, indicating the location of a settlement, “and you will remove the items I wish before the train reaches Regina, here.” Moska gestures once again at the holographic map, and a dotted trail appears, tracing a path from the red dot, to a large square denoting a city. “That doesn’t sound too hard Cap, we could pull this one in our sleep,” Oduph says to Soleil, which gets Moska the Hutt chuckling again. “Oho! That’s one bold Ithorian you are. Not too many of your kind are capable of getting their hands dirty. So, are you going to ask what is it I need?” Moska the Hutt asks Soleil as he powers down the holoprojector. “As a rule, no.” Soleil says, wondering if maybe she ought to at least ask subtly. Moska the Hutt makes an approving sound, and orders Krall to fetch a credit case.
“One more question Captain. You don’t mind stealing from the Empire, do you? I gather this will not be a problem based on your…reputation,” Moska asks, a poisonous grin stretching his wide face. “Hardly, your Excellency. It’ll be my pleasure in fact. Now to the arranged payment? Half up front was the deal,” Soleil says, motioning towards the credit case Krall has just brought into the audience chamber. “Ohoho, and half when you return with my goods Captain,”Moska replies, gesturing Soleil, Raighl, and Oduph to leave the chamber. The three of them quickly return to Ataraxia, and begin informing the rest of the crew about the job, and their meeting with Moska the Hutt.
TWO DAYS LATER
Captain Soleil, Raighl and Oduph walk together down the broad aisle of the mag-lev train, noting passengers as they pass through one Imperial-grey train car to the next, until they open the door to the next compartment and almost plow into an Imperial stormtrooper. “Out of the way!” The stormtrooper orders, as Soleil, Raighl and Oduph move aside for three more stormtroopers to file out of the train car behind the first. Walking in behind the vacating stormtroopers, the three enter a train car filled end-to-end with stormtroopers sitting or lying down on benches. Some stormtroopers clean their blasters, but none take any notice of Soleil and her two crewmates as they clear out of the train car and into the next. “Moska said there’d be Imperial property on the train, not a whole frikkin’ squad of stormtroopers!” Raighl hisses under her breath. “So what do we do now Captain?” Oduph asks Soleil, who simply shrugs and says, “We do the job, only this time we get to embarrass the Empire.” Raighl just shakes her head, and the three keep moving through three more train compartments until reaching one stacked floor to ceiling with crates stamped with the Empire’s insignia. Soleil looks over a few of the crates to match ID numbers before locating the right stack of crates, a bundle of six. Raighl pushes other crates into a pyramid-like stack in order to reach the compartment’s sealing hatch, while Oduph stacks crates against the door leading to the previous train compartment full of stormtroopers.
“Is it crimetime Tik’Trii? Is it? Is it?” An overexcited Max shouts over the comms to Tik’Trii, who pilots Ataraxia smoothly over the canyon that the mag-lev train hurtles through, following it and matching its speed. “Settle the hell down Max, or you’ll blow a fuse like Signs. I’m moving us into position, get the winch set up in the cargo bay with that junk heap of a droid and Raiden to help you too. The Captain should have already gotten to the cargo,” Tik’Trii says through the comms to Max. Max begins strapping himself to the end of the winch as Raiden and S19-N5 enter the cargo bay, with Raiden operating the comms to direct Tik’Trii and S19-N5 operating the winch. “Open the bay doors now!” Raiden calls out into the comm, as Max gets ready to drop through the air, and into a moving train, held only by metres of fibre-cord. Ataraxia’s cargo bay door opens, lowering Max, the winch, and S19-N5 just over a meter above the mag-lev train. Seeing the rushing sand beneath the train, Max gulps, takes three breaths, and jumps off the platform.
A thud above her head almost startles Raighl off of her stack of crates but regaining her composure, she unseals the ceiling hatch to the train compartment, and Max suddenly plummets from it, landing on the floor hard. “Ouch! My rump!” Max yelps, jumping up from the floor and rubbing his behind painfully. “Quit yer complainin’ and grab a crate,” Oduph says, forcefully shoving a crate as large as Max into the young Squib’s arms. Max scrambles around the crate, latching clawed hands and magnetic boots onto it before tugging the line connecting him to the winch, sending him and the crate skywards. The next four boxes are summarily brought up by Max as he continually is dropped down through the air into the train compartment, and pulled back up again into Ataraxia‘s cargo bay with the winch. As Max is loaded up with the final crate and pulled up through the train compartment’s ceiling, a loud banging echoes from the other side of the door that Oduph stacked crates against. A few more bangs and the top two crates crash onto the floor revealing the white helmet of a stormtrooper on the other side of the makeshift barrier. “Down!” Yells Raighl, as she draws her blaster and fires, hitting the stormtrooper in the face, melting his helmet and dropping him backwards against his comrades. “Hurry through to the next few compartments, we’ll get off the train and rendezvous with Ataraxia after it stops,” Soleil says to Oduph and Raighl, motioning them to follow her.
Exiting the mag-lev train at Paradiso amid the confusion and chaos, Soleil, Raighl and Oduph are gathered up along with the other passengers and detained at the station, as local security and a few Imperial officers begin questioning people. A commotion starts up near the train, and the three of them get closer to see what is going on, when they hear some people in the crowd of passengers whisper, “The train’s been robbed! Our whole supply of medicine for the month, gone!” “Wow, that sounds real bad,” Soleil says to them, and a young Human woman turns to her with a child in her arms. “Are you moonstruck? Without our monthly shipment of medicine, we’ll all die from the torment.” What’s that?" Oduph asks bluntly. Her partner, a sandy-blonde Human man turns to Oduph quizzically, “You musn’t have been on Ord Trasi long, friend. The atmosphere is breathable enough for most species, but there’s a catch. Breath enough of it and you’ll develop a degenerative disease that attacks the bones and muscles. We call it Traci’s Torment and the only treatment for it is the medicine we receive each month from the Empire. Without it, well, we’d die in a matter of months.”
“By the looks of it, the Captain and the rest won’t be back anytime soon,” Raiden says to Tik’Trii, who narrows his eyes suspiciously at the HoloNet transceiver. “And why is that?” Tik’Trii asks Raiden flatly. “By the looks of it, security got flagged on whatever it was that we stole and they’re holding the passengers for questioning. If we don’t get them out soon, we’ll miss our rendezvous with Moska’s thugs.” “Yeah, and that’s the last thing we want,” Tik’Trii replies. “BB, get up here,”Tik’Trii says over the internal comms, “Tik’Trii’s got a plan to get the Captain and the others back. It just requires you, your shuttle, and for the Captain not to lose her cool….”
“You there! Report over here immediately!” An Imperial officer yells at Soleil, who walks over to the portly Human man with Raighl and Oduph trailing behind her. Just as they walk up to him, they are nearly floored by the sight of B.B. “Wailing” Jinkins in the same dress-tuxedo that he was wearing at the gala on Ord Mantell. “Are these the ones Mr. Jinkins?” The officer asks B.B. sternly who replies with a look of sorrow on his face, “Would that they were not, officer. This one,” B.B. says, motioning to Soleil, “Thought she could make off with my star singer, and her bodyguard. Fat lot of good he was, convinced by a backup dancer to run off with my star singer. Now, I’m extremely apologetic for any problems they caused. Are they free to go? They’ve already cost me credits in lost bookings and I won’t lose anymore on this tour,” B.B. finishes, waiting for the Imperial officer to hand back his ident-card. “Everything appears to be in order Mr. Jinkins. Collect your delinquent performers and be on your way. We have some thieves to apprehend,” the Imperial officer replies, gesturing B.B., Soleil, Raighl and Oduph out of the station and onto B.B.’s shuttle, which lifts off and flies back to Ataraxia.
Once the four of them return to Ataraxia, Soleil orders everyone to load up Tik’Trii‘s speeder with the crates they just stole. “But why Captain? We just finished stealing them,” Max complains with a pout. "It’s vital medicine the population needs to survive the effects of the atmosphere. If we linger too long here, we’ll need it too. So we’re taking it back, and that’s final," Soleil replies, making clear to the crew exactly what her expectations are. Just as they finish loading the crates on Tik’Trii‘s speeder, a quintet of thugs walk brazenly up to the descended port cargo bay. "You did not make the rendezvous. You think you maybe take Mr. Moska’s credits and his cargo," the lead, a large beefy Zygerrian says to Soleil, who’s standing at the head of her crew. “Interestingly, neither,” Soleil replies, as her crew gather together around her. “I don’t understand,” the Zygerrian, Krall, says with a look of confusion creeping onto his face. “We changed our minds. Look we’ll give you back the half we were paid up front-” “There is no mind-changing with Mr. Moska. You try to steal his property, now you die!” The Zygerrian roars, throwing a vibroknife from his belt, which buries itself halfway into Max‘s shoulder, who goes down screaming. Soleil returns fire, while Oduph and Raighl each put down two of Moska’s thugs, a Gran and a young Human male, barely out of his teens. Raiden stuns a third, a Rodian female, while Shamü barrels into another Human, this one a balding, red-faced male. Krall draws two more vibroknives from his belt and advances on Soleil, slashing the air between them. Suddenly, a stun blast from [[:raiden-anders | Raiden, hiding behind cargo, catches Krall from the side, and a blaster bolt from Soleil knocks the big Zygerrian onto his back, wounded and unconscious.
Soleil powers down the speeder a few kilometers from Paradiso, while Raighl begins unloading the crates of medicine. Just as they’re done, a local security officer and six of his agents come up over the rise, blasters drawn. “I heard tell of a starship parked a ways outside of town, thought I’d come take a look. Didn’t think I’d see you coming back,” the security officer, a mustachioed Human, says to the two of them. One of the agents checks the crates and gives a nod to the officer, and he holsters his blaster, as do the rest of the local security. “Times are tough out here in the Outer Rim. We’ve been lucky enough that the Empire has continued to provide for us out here, so we can continue to survive. But for others, you make do with what you can find. Maybe that means not looking so closely at what you’ve got, even if it’s bad, just so you can keep on another day. I reckon at that point, every beings got a choice. I’m just happy that you made the good one,” the officer whistles, and the other security begin loading crates onto speeder bikes. “With all do respect, no. I don’t think there is one,” Soleil says queitly, as the security officer turns to leave. “What’s that, miss?” He asks, turning to face Soleil. “I don’t think there is a choice,” Soleil repeats a little louder this time, smiles, and gets back into the speeder with Raighl. The speeder’s engines rev as they race back to Ataraxia to deal with Krall and the rest of [[:moska-the-hutt | Moska the Hutt]]’s thugs.
When Soleil and Raighl arrive back at Ataraxia‘s landing site, they find Moska’s thugs tied up, with Krall in binder cuffs. “Tik’Trii, go make sure the engines are primed, and set them for launch,” Soleil tells Tik’Trii, who quickly scrambles back to the boarding ramp and up into the cockpit. Moments later, a dull blue glow alights at the engine exhaust ports, before they blaze into a steady, subdued brilliance. “Now this is all the credits Moska gave us. We’ll return them, with the understanding that we’ll stay well out of Moska’s way, and that he doesn’t bother with us. Space is big enough we can avoid any unpleasantness. Understand?” Soleil asks the big Zygerrian, Krall. “Keep it,” Krall says, spitting into the sandy terrain of Ord Trasi, “use the credits to buy a funeral. It doesn’t matter how far you run or how fast you fly, I will hunt you down and the last thing you see will be my blade, scug.” “Stang,” Soleil says under her breath, “and didn’t I try to be reasonable with you?” Soleil kicks Krall in the center of his chest, hard, sending the Zygerrian tumbling backwards and into the Ataraxia‘s engine exhaust, vaporizing Krall in an instant. Shamü frees one of Moska’s thugs, the balding Human and brings him in front of Soleil. Before she can open her mouth to repeat her offer to the Human, he just vigorously nods and says, “I’m one hundred percent there with you, we stay away from each other, best for everyone involved.” The Human takes the credits from Soleil, and gathers up his now cut-loose comrades, running from Ataraxia towards Paradiso.
After everyone is aboard Ataraxia and the cargo bay sealed, the turtle-shaped starship rises slowly off the ground before rocketing through Ord Trasi’s atmosphere and breaking orbit. Moments later Ataraxia jumps into hyperspace, traveling through the vastness of the Outer Rim.