Just outside Whitefall, Dantooine
TWO YEARS AFTER THE CLONE WARS
Returning from Whitefall to the canyon sheltering Ataraxia, Captain Soleil notices the boarding ramp to her starship wide open. As her, Raighl, S19-N5 and Oduph board Ataraxia, they’re greeted by Tik’Trii vigorously mopping near the ramp, while B.B. is mopping up something in the lounge. ‘’Tik’Trii spilled some caf Captain, nothing to worry about!" Tik’Trii squeaks at Soleil, but she catches Max at the back of the lounge working on the caf machine. “Well then what happened to the caf maker?” Soleil asks pointedly, causing B.B. to put down the mop and put his head in his hands. "Captain it was awful! You probably wouldn’t even believe me if I told you! It should suffice to say that had I not valiantly broke our caf maker, something uh, something worse could have happened! Believe you me.‘’ “Sure, whatever, you just keep mopping BB, the rest of us have a job to do!” Soleil says with a grin. ’’Tik’Trii, plot us a course to Ord Mantell!’’
Ataraxia drops out of hyperspace in the outer reaches of the Ord Mantell system, far from the planet itself. Hanging dead in space is a Republic consular ship, waiting for Soleil and her crew, just like the info broker on Dantooine promised. Tik’Trii brings Ataraxia close to the derelict starship, and begins to power down non-essential systems. “Time for the spacesuits! Raighl, Oduph and Signs are with me. Tik’Trii, and Max, you guys are in charge of Ataraxia. Keep her powered down until we come back, or if there’s trouble. Thanks for the detonite cord Max, it should come in handy,” Soleil says, as her and her three crewmates make their way to one of the cargo bays, seal the airlock and begin suiting up for the void of space. Once properly protected from vacuum, Tik’Trii engages the cargo bay lift, putting the four of them a couple metres from the hull of the derelict ship. One by one, Soleil and her crew jump the distance to the starship, with Oduph pushing S19-N5 hard enough for his magnetic treads to latch onto the other starship’s hull. After scaling the starship’s exterior towards its engines, Soleil checks the schematics sent to her on her bracer computer for the section of hull that needs to be breached.
After another minute of scaling the starship, Soleil, Raighl, Oduph, and S19-N5 reach the designated section of hull. S19-N5 sets the detonite cord, and while the rest of them move away while the detonite burns through the hull in bright rainbow-hued flashes. Oduph pries at the crack between the hull and now separated section, pulling the section from the full and leaving it to drift in space. Turning, Oduph picks up and hurls S19-N5 on a trajectory that allows the droid to magnetize to Ataraxia‘s still-open cargo lift as Soleil hauls out three large lockboxes from the breach in the derelict starship’s cargo hold. Static crackles in her helmet and Soleil hears Tik’Trii on her comlink. “Better hurry Captain, looks like we’ve got company on sensors, the Imperial kind.” Soleil, Oduph, and Raighl each grabs one of the lockboxes and jumps for the cargo lift, with Raighl catching her foot on the edge, but recovering. Soleil hits the button for the lift to begin ascending and activates the comms in her helmet. “What’s on the sensors Tik’Trii?” she asks, with the shipboard comms relaying the answer to the four of them on the lift. “An Imperial Star Destroyer!”
Once the cargo bay is sealed, Soleil hurriedly strips off her spacesuit, and races to the cockpit, while Raighl and Oduph store the goods in a hidden compartment in the cargo bay. Jumping the rungs of the ladder two at a time, Soleil leaps into the cockpit and sees the giant triangular wedge of an Imperial Star Destroyer in the far distance, gliding through space. “Have they spotted us yet Tik’Trii?” She asks, to which the Chadra-Fan just shrugs. “Tik’Trii can’t be sure. Should Tik’Trii ready a decoy in case they do?” Soleil nods her head, and jumsp back down the ladder to find S19-N5, waiting for orders. “Hey Signs, I got a little job for you. Can you plug into Ataraxia and see if you can reprogram the transponder signal for the next crybaby we launch? See if you can reprogram it as something Imperial.” S19-N5 whistles a happy whistle and wheels over to a socket port and begins working. Climbing up the ladder to the cockpit again, Soleil telsl Tik’Trii not to launch the decoy until S19-N5 is done his programming. Nearly a minute passes, and the Star Destroyer looms ever closer, and begins to open its hangar bay. “Uh, hey little guy,” Soleil comms S19-N5. “Are you done your reprogramming? ‘Cause it’s going to get pretty busy out there in a bad way Signs!” S19-N5 beeps in response, indicating that the decoy is ready to be launched. “Now Tik’Trii, fire the crybaby!”
The modified missile streaks from the launch tube of Ataraxia towards the edge of the system, coming up on sensors as an Imperial shuttle in distress. Soleil holds her breath as she sees three TIE Fighters launch from the Star Destroyer’s hangar towards their location. The TIE Fighters come closer, and closer to both Ataraxia and the derelict starship that was just pillaged. “Captain?” Tik’Trii asks nervously, expecting Soleil to want the ship powered up. “Wait,” is all she says, as sweat beads on her forehead in nervousness. Abruptly the TIE Fighters break off from their heading, and streak towards the direction of the crybaby missile. “Now! Get us out of here!” Soleil yells at Tik’Trii, who hurriedly powers up Ataraxia’s remaining systems and engages the hyperdrive, jumping the distance between the derelict and Ord Mantell in minutes.
As Ataraxia reverts to realspace, the large island world of Ord Mantell fills the viewport. Tik’Trii transmits the landing credentials and proceeds to the Persephone spaceport, landing in one of the open bays. As the crew gathers in the lounge, Captain Soleil finds S19-N5 and tells him to keep an eye on the ship; maybe this time, nothing will get broken. B.B. “Wailing” Jinkins is the last to show to the lounge, looking rather wild and dishevelled for a Bith, and he immediately complains to Soleil. “Captain! I have no time for meetings, I have business to attend to! Very musical business, which means I must depart now,” and he tries to brush past her, but Soleil grabs him by the arm. “We’re not staying here long Jinkins, how long are you going to be? You do realize you’re only renting my shuttle?” “I, uh, don’t know how long I’ll be Captain. You can’t interfere with creativity! It is the very fire that drives my music!” She rolls her eyes at him and lets him go, ’’We’ll be back shortly Jinkins, just dropping the goods off at the buyer. Then we’re picking up passengers, and heading to Iridonia. If you’re not back in a rotation, you should be meeting us there. Dohng-ma?’’ “Yes Captain, understood,” B.B. says, slightly downcast by the rebuke. “To music!” B.B. announces, before starting up his shuttle and detaching from Ataraxia.
“Well now that that’s settled, we have a meeting to keep,” Soleil says as she directs everyone out of the lounge and into the cargo bay holding the goods salvaged from the derelict. Soleil and Raighl pull the three crates out, and opens one of them up, revealing what at a cursory glance appears to be at least tens of thousands of Republic credits. “Shiny,” Oduph says while Raighl gasps at the sight of so much money, and Tik’Trii lets out a shrill whistle. “Yeah too bad it’s no good to us,” Soleil says as she checks a couple of the credit ingots. “These are Republic credits, they’re no good anymore. We could exchange them for Imperial credits, but having this many would be suspicious no matter where we went to exchange them, and I don’t have senate credentials anymore.” Raighl explains to the rest of the crew. ‘’Raighl is right, this is dirty money, but a human named Baj’R is willing to buy them off of us here. Who feels like coming?‘’ Everyone volunteers, including S19-N5, but Soleil decides that perhaps this time around it would be better if Max, Tik’Trii and S19-N5 tried to attract some passengers while Raighl Nova and Oduph accompany her to Baj’R’s compound.
Soleil, Raighl and Oduph leave Ataraxia, as well as the spaceport, and strike out into the city of Persephone. “Last time I was here, I was in the capital, Worlport; Persephone is way smaller, and dirtier,” Soleil thinks to herself. The streets they walk are like an open air market, with vendors of a variety of species shouting at them to try their products. Moving through the broad street, the three of them spot the alleyway that is supposed to lead them to Baj’R‘s place. Turning down the alley, the three of them stop at a heavy metal door with two burly humans guarding the entrance. "I’ve got business with your boss," Soleil says to them, while one opens the heavy durasteel door ahead. The inside of the building is dimly lit, with curtains and bits of rich fabric placed for the illusion of wealth; to Soleil it looks like someone made an attempt to quilt the inside of a room. You walk through narrow hallways that turn often, leading mazelike into the center of the building, where a short Human male wearing a bowler’s hat is seated at a table. Opposite the Human is a Devaronian who passes a case over the table to the Human, who opens it away from view and appears impressed with its contents. “Now that’ some fine merchandise. You get your hands on anymore ‘o that, and I’ll double what we agreed on, yeah? Now off with you, I’ve got other business to attend to.” The red-skinned Devaronian gets up from the table and minces down a hallway, disappearing into the gloom.
“You’re late,” the human says to Soleil, flatly. “Excuse me?” Raighl asks, hands on her hips. Taken aback, Soleil nudges Raighl in the side and mouths to her ‘Baj’R‘, to which she backs off slightly. Soleil steps forward, holding a datapad that was given to her by the info broker on Dantooine. "Respectfully, you know we’re not," she says, tossing the datapad onto the table with a clatter. Baj’R consults the datapad in front of him and winces, “Well you’re later than I’d like.” “Sucks to suck,” says Raighl to which Baj’R glares at her. “I wouldn’t be so sure ‘o that love. Before you jumped away from that Star Destroyer, she got a visual on you. Sent out bulletins all over the local HoloNet looking for a Voidturtle in the Ord Mantell system. I can’t be seen taking your goods now, can I? You understand love, the situation is, shall we say, fluid?” Oduph steps forward, loosening his blaster rifle, “The only fluid I see here is the puddle of piss who says he ain’t paying us,” he growls to Baj’R, whose guards bring their weapons to bear on Oduph. Soleil places a hand on Oduph‘s shoulder, urging him to calm down. She picks up the datapad and scowl at Baj’R, “This isn’t over. The universe keeps turning Baj’R; don’t be surprised if some of what you shovel comes back to cause a stink.” Baj’R smirks at her remark and nods at his guards; “Well, as I see it, that only matters to people on the rim. See that they find their way out,” he says, with his guards roughly escorting Soleil, Oduph and Raighl outside the compound and into the bustling streets of Persephone. “Captain?” Oduph asks, looking at Soleil pointedly, “Remind me again what ten percent of nothing is?”
S19-N5 continues to scan the multitude of organics that flow before his photoreceptor. “Passengers = Payment. Payment = Captain + Crew + Happy,” the little droid asserts to himself. He continues to scan. Tik’Trii tries to stand on top of S19-N5 again. He jerks his chassis from side-to-side trying to knock the little organic off, to no avail. He spews coolant at Tik’Trii, causing him to finally get off of the droid, but kicks him into a spin which sends the droid crashing against another organic. S19-N5‘s photoreceptor attempts to focus on the organic, but it is simply too large. “Well hello little droid!” A deep, booming voice resonates from the large organic. S19-N5 responds with a query as to whether the organic would like to book passage aboard Ataraxia to the location of Iridonia. "My, aren’t we a curious little droid? Your ship looks a little small for a Herglic like me, but if you’re heading for the rim, then by the stars I will join you! My name is Shamü Abyssail; where is your Captain little droid?" S19-N5 responds with an approximation, but other organics have already begun engaging Max and Tik’Trii in conversation about passage. While leading Shamü Abyssail up the boarding ramp, S19-N5 passes by three more organics looking to book passage with the other crew: a Human, an Arkanian, and a Togruta. S19-N5‘s sensors pick up something strange emanating from the Togruta’s satchel, but he ignores the energy-readings and continues the current task of aiding the Shamü in finding room aboard Ataraxia.