Business on Saleucami
Chapter III | Episode VII | 5/19/2017
Now safely in orbit around Saleucami, the crew took a collective breath, relieved to finally be done. Rath couldn’t allow himself to relax, however. He knew that the ship they had stolen would obviously have a tracker on it, somewhere. He recognized the type of freighter they were on. They were a dime a dozen in the Empire, standard troop deployment freighters. Knowing this type of ship, he began his search for the hidden transponder.
“What are you looking for?” Zanroy asked Elaiza. He eyed her suspiciously as she searched the corpse of Zes Codicious.
“I’m looking.” Elaiza replied back, curtly.
Zanroy felt a twinge of frustration with the old Jedi. He had grown tired of her standoffish attitude towards him. “You’re obviously looking for something. What are you looking for?”
Elaiza didn’t reply, continuing her search. Finally, she found something. Out of one of the body’s pockets, Elaiza acquired a strange looking device. Round and flat in nature, it almost resembled a compass, but unlike any type of compass Zanroy had ever seen before.
“What is that?” Zanroy asked.
“I’m not sure.” Elaiza replied, her eyes completely focused on the trinket in her hand.
Zanroy let out a sigh, “Look, you’re exhausted. Im exhausted. Let’s go somewhere more comfortable where we can sit and talk for a minute before Twil and Draven dock the ships.” He then held out his hand, offering it to Elaiza.
Never taking her eyes off the trinket, Elaiza took Zanroy’s hand, and got to her feet.
“The ships have begun to dock, Rath, how’s your search going?” Twil’s voice chimed in over comms.
“I’m trying my best.” Rath said, extremely annoyed, as he slammed another vent shut. He had looked in every possible hidden location on the ship, and yet couldn’t find the transponder.
Frustrated he kicked at a very loose panel attached to one of the hallway walls. The panel easily fell off from the force of the kick, and with it, came the transponder, tumbling down. Rath stared down at the device, exasperated by the sheer stupidity of its hiding place, “Of course. Otherwise it wouldn’t be pointless…”
He picked up the device and recognized it as a very crude, simplistic transponder. And, like the ship, was a dime a dozen in the Empire. It took little effort for him to rip out the excess wiring and disable the security chip within. “Transponder is taken care of Twil.” Rath said over comms, “We shouldn’t be getting any more surprise visits from Zes’s followers.”
“It’s some sort of compass, used to find certain relics, powerful in the Force.” Elaiza said, still examining the object in her hand. “I remember the Council talking about them once, long ago.”
“Do you know how to use it?” Zanroy asked.
“No.” Elaiza said, still entranced.
“Okay then, changing topic, now that you rescued the twins, what are you going to do now?” Zanroy asked.
Elaiza finally took her eyes of the relic, looking at Zanroy, “We will get away from all of this; much like I tried to do with you.”
“With me?” Zanroy asked, angrily, “You abandoned me on a backwater planet, with no way for me to escape!”
“I tried to rescue you! I did everything I could to keep you away from all of this! You could have lived a happy, simple existence on that planet. But that just wasn’t enough for you was it?”
“You taught me a fraction of what it’s like to control the Force, and then you abandoned me. Why won’t you teach me?”
“Teach you?!” Elazia asked in disgust, “You’re far too old to learn the ways of the Jedi.”
“The Jedi are dead!”
“And good riddance to them!” Elaiza shouted back, “You have no idea how much pain and suffering the Jedi Order caused. You have no idea how much having the Force has ruined my life. It killed all my friends, it tore apart my family. I will not allow it to do any more harm. So, no, I will not train you.”
Just then, Twil’s voice came on over the ship’s comms. “Okay everyone, the ships are docked. Everyone get back on the Sovereign, we need to talk.”
Saying nothing more, Elaiza rose to her feet. Immediately, Zanroy snatched the relic from her hands.
“Give that back.” She demanded.
“You don’t even know how to use it.” Zanroy replied.
“Neither do you.”
“Like you said, you’re done with all this. It won’t be of any use to you anyway.”
Elaiza glowered at Zanroy, but ultimately gave up and left for the sovereign, Zanroy following behind, at a distance.
Safely back onboard the Sovereign, Rath immediately went to work. He got onto the ship’s main computer and linked up to it. Once he was finished with that, he went to both R5 and Vex, and did the same.
“You know what needs to be done.” He said to them both.
R5 beeped in acknowledgement, while Vex made an attempt to nod his head.
“Let’s hope it never comes to this. But this crew needs protection against powers that I can’t fathom.”
Twil had gathered the crew, along with Elaiza and the twins, together in the Sovereign. “First thing’s first, well done, all of you! I can’t believe we took on the entire Sorority and came out alive. I’m super proud of you all.”
“That wasn’t even close to the entire Sorority, Twil.” Rath cut in, “The Sorority has a fleet of ships, still out there. We just took out that one base.”
“Well, we killed the Queen, at least.” Twil said, happily.
Rath just nodded.
“Secondly, Elaiza,” Twil turns his attention to the old woman. “Where do you go from here?”
“Captain, you saved my children.” Elaiza said, showing real gratitude, “I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. And I couldn’t possibly ask you for anything more. You can drop us off at Saleucami. We can manage from there.”
“Nonsense!” Twil objected, “We’ll get you somewhere a little nicer. Get you set up right.”
“Excuse me,” Rath cut in, “Did you say your children? Are you telling us that the twins there are literally your kids?”
“Yes, they are.” Elaiza replied.
“Hmm, I wasn’t aware the Jedi Order allowed their own to have children.” Rath thought allowed.
“They didn’t, which is why I left.” Elaiza said. “Zanroy over there insists on learning the Jedi ways. But I ask you, what kind of Order can preach ‘good,’ insisting that their intentions are pure, when they willingly cast out anyone who dares try to feel actual love. I just wanted a family. I never asked to be a part of the Jedi. I guess being cast out was a good thing. I wasn’t there for the great purge. I was able to survive while all those fools died in their self-righteousness.”
“I don’t know anything about the Jedi.” Twil responded calmly. “But I know a lot about family. Camaraderie. Friendship. That’s what’s important to me. As a Zeltron, it’s programmed into my very essence. So I understand how you feel about your family. And I understand all the horrible things you’ve had to do to get them back… I see that you’ve gone against all the tenets of your old order, just to be reunited with your children. And I know the pain that it’s caused you. But you should know, now, that it’s finally over. And you’re all safe.”
Elaiza looked towards Twil and let out a small chuckle, “You see more than what a simple Zeltron would sense, Captain. I can sense it in you, you are Force sensitive.”
“Oh, cool.” Twil replied nonchalantly, “What does that mean?”
Elaiza laughed again, “It means that you are attuned to the Force. With the proper training you could be as powerful as any Jedi.”
“Oh, neat.” Twil replied, either not grasping what Elaiza had just said, or simply not caring.
“But I am done with training and teaching, Captain. I simply want to live out the rest of my life in peace and quiet, with my children. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I need to rest.” Exhausted, Elaiza rose to her feet, accompanied by the twins, they left for their temporary quarters.
Shocked, Rath simply shook his head in exasperation, watching the events unfold. With the Jedi gone, Rath took his opportunity. “Twil, we need to talk, now.”
“Oh yeah, we need to collect from Venlana.” Twil said, jumping to attention.
“That’s what we need to talk about.” Rath said, deadly serious. “Venlana lied to us, Twil. She isn’t working for any consortium. And if she is, she’s doing it under false pretenses.”
“What are you talking about?”
“When I was on that base, I searched the records. I found some very revealing information. Firstly, Venlana works for the Sorority. She is the Sorority’s mole; she weaseled her way into the consortium that hired us, and has fooled us all.”
“But she hired us to kill the Queen.”
“Indeed she did. I can only assume that means that she wants the Sorority for herself. And she just tricked us into doing her dirty work. But there’s more than just that.”
“What do you mean?”
“I found more info on the computers. The Sorority has the Orbalisk listed as a ship within their fleet.”
Twil looked at Rath confused, not understanding the importance of what he said.
“Twil, the Orbalisk is the flagship of Kor Zoroc, the pirate captain that saved my life, taught me how to survive out here in your insane galaxy, after I was exiled from my home. He would never give up that ship willingly. I can only imagine that the Sorority has captured him, imprisoned him, enslaved him, or worse. Whatever that’s happened, Venlana is the only lead I have to finding out more.”
“So, what do we do?”Twil asked.
“We get more info about the consortium Venlana claims to be working for. If we know who leads it, we can feed the info I have on Venlana, to them. That way, after we get all the info we can on Venlana, we turn her over to the proper authorities, and maybe get a little more reward out of the deal.”
“More money is always good.” Twil said, brightening up.
“I thought you’d say that.” Rath said with a smile.
Thinking back to his work with Saleucami in the past, Rath recalled a particular human that he had done business with in the past. He activated his tech flesh camouflage suit, taking on the appearance of one of his many pseudonyms, this one being a Devaronian, and made the call.
The human, Otto Dane, answered the call and looked more than a little concerned at seeing Rath, “Oh! Wasn’t expecting you to call. What’s going on?”
“Relax old friend.” Rath began, with a slight chuckle, “I’m not calling with any bad news. I just need a little info on someone that works in Saleucami. And I know you can help me.”
“Ah.” Otto replied, “A little ‘you scratch my back I scratch yours’ eh?”
“Sure, what do you need to know?”
“I’m curious if you have any information on a woman named Venlana Sipal.”
“Oh, sure, Venlana.” Otto replied, “Yeah, she works for the Zann Consortium.”
“The Zann Consortium.” Rath repeated, “And who runs it?”
Otto laughed, “Well, everyone knows that it’s run by Tyber Zann. He’s the biggest, meanest pirate consortium owner on the planet.”
“I see.” Rath mused, “He must have slipped past my radar at some point. Well, thank you.”
The Human nodded before logging off.
“Well, there you have it.” Rath said to Twil, “We know who she works for now. We can use that knowledge against her. But for now, the plan is, you meet up with her, I accompany you, stealthed. We get in a private area and I dose her up with Avabush spice, also known as truth serum. We get the info I need about Kor Zoroc, and then we turn her over to this Tyber Zann.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Twil agreed. He then promptly got on comms with Venlana and set up a meeting at her private back room of a local luxury bar, The Paradise.
The crew had arrived at the meeting place. Venlana was there, with her Twi’lek body guard, Porel. Twil, being Twil, he had mixed together a set of drinks for everyone in the room, to set the mood, and to also spike Venlana’s drink with the Avabush spice Rath had slipped him earlier.
Unfortunately the plan had gone awry from almost the very beginning. Rath had been spotted almost instantly by Porel, who had an extremely specialized cybernetic eye that had somehow been able to see through his many stealth contingencies. So he was simply forced to look on and hope that Twil could get the information out of her his own way.
Twil and Venlana had adjourned to a more private area within the room and were talking quietly. None of this mattered of course, because, as usual, Twil had activated his comms, so Rath could hear everything through his cybernetic implant.
“Captain, I see that you have the Pirate Queen’s mask, so I assume you performed your end of the bargain, but the attacks on our shipments haven’t stopped, at all. Whatever you did at Blackwind Crater has had no effect.”
“So, the Sorority is still at full power?” Twil asked, exuding her pheromones to loosen up the Pantoran woman.
“You know, speaking of the Sorority. While we were at that base, we came across some information, concerning a certain person. Does the name Kor Zoroc ring any bells to you? He’s an old friend, and I’m concerned that he might have gotten mixed up in the Sorority. They might have him as their prisoner, or he might be working for them, I really don’t know. Either way, I’d really like to know what’s happened to him.”
Venlana thought long and hard, “Sorry Captain, I don’t know anyone by that name.”
While Twil was sweet talking Venlana, things had taken a turn for the bizarre, as they often did with this crew, Rath mused.
Draven had, somehow, gotten buddy buddy with Venlana’s bodyguard. The two were talking like a couple adolescent girls, obsessing over each other’s weaponry and gear. When Porel mentioned that his pants were designed by Solomahal of Cloud City, Rath nearly rolled his eyes out of his head. But, a distracted bodyguard was excellent for their situation. Rath suspected that if need be, he could incapacitate the guard with one of his sedatives, while he was too busy gushing over Draven’s “Twil designed clothing.”
“What about the Orbalisk? That was his ship.” Twil continued questioning Venlana.
Venlana perked up at this name. “The Orbalisk? I recognize that name. That is one of the Sorority’s main flagships; the Queen herself sometimes commands it.”
Twil glanced over at Rath, and got a nod from the Chiss. Knowing that he had the info he wanted, he changed course.
“Just out of curiosity, how do you know so much about the Sorority?” Twil asked.
Overcome with pheromones and truth serum, and Twil’s old fashioned charm, Venlana finally succumbed. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this… I shouldn’t… but, the Sorority… They’re my people.”
Just then, the two were interrupted by Porel, “Venlana, the boss wants to talk to ya.”
Nodding, Venlana rose from her seat and Twil followed. Once the two had rejoined the others, the holoprojector sprung to life. Appearing before them was the face of an older human male, with long white hair and scars over his face. Twil instantly recognized the man as Tyber Zann, the most powerful pirate consortium owner in the Outer Rim.
“Venlana!” He shouted at first, but quickly regained his composure after seeing that there were others in the room. “Oh, I didn’t realize you had guests. Who are these people?”
“These are the mercenaries we hired to take out the Piret Queen, Mr. Zann.” Venlana replied.
Tyber took a second to take the scene in, and then he began to laugh, slowly, at first, then growing louder and more maniacal. “Captain. Let me show you something.”
Tyber’s image quickly disappeared; replacing it was an image of the Pirate Queen. “Tyber Zann,” She began, “Your efforts to undermine me have started to hit a little too close to home. So, I’m afraid I must start taking more drastic measures against you.”
Tyber then reappeared on the holoprojection. “This was sent to me five minutes ago. Whoever you think you killed, it was not the Pirate Queen. I do not take failure kindly, Captain Twil.”
“Now hold on.” Twil interjected. “You hired us to infiltrate a pirate base and take out the person wearing the mask. We did exactly that, putting our lives on the line multiple times in the process, I might add. Now if you’d like to hire us on, to take on this new threat, the real Pirate Queen, I’d be happy to strike a bargain. You know, I work in shipping, you work in shipping. I think we can do some nice business here.”
Tyber laughed once more, this time a low chortle. “I like the way you think, Captain, business before all else, a man after my own heart.” Tyber looked the Zeltron over once more. “Very well Captain. You have a deal. Venlana, give this man all the information he needs. Captain, we’ve heard rumors that the Sorority is active on Ord Mantell. We will have more information for you in a couple of days.” The holoprojector then shut off.
Slightly shocked, Venlana gave Twil the information he needed, and said, “Here’s Tyber’s direct contact line, along with the info on the Sorority. Unfortunately, I really need to leave now.”
“We’re still going on that date, right?” Twil asked, sweetly.
Venlana smiled coyly, “Wouldn’t miss it.”
With that, Venlana and Porel left the room.
“I wonder,” Rath began, “If we’ll ever just get a break.”
Twil laughed as he poured more drinks at the bar, handing them out to the crew. He then held his glass in the air and said, “To the crew of the Sovereign!”
“To surviving.” Rath added.
The crew was about ready to leave back for the ship. Twil had gotten all the information Rath had been wanting, plus a new job. And Draven had found an exquisite new vibro-rapier behind the bar, for which he “traded” his vest.
When suddenly, Zanroy interrupted them. “Wait, before we go back to Elaiza, I want to try getting at that box in R5 one more time. She’s determined to destroy it. I want to know what’s inside it, first.”
Rath looked wearily towards R5, “Fine, you get one chance, but if you hurt him in any way…”
Ignoring the threat, Zanroy opened R5’s casing, and reached out with the Force, towards the cube embedded in the droid. Both Zanroy and Twil could feel a dark presence, as the cube began to glow, as if red hot.
Noticing the glowing light, Rath spoke up, “Alright enough! I won’t have you harming R5 just to satiate your curiosity. You can probe the box all you want, after Elaiza removes it.”
“Yeah,” Twil added, “I could feel the darkness radiating out of that thing, Im not sure that’s something you want to be fooling around with.”
“But Elaiza will just destroy it!” Zanroy snapped back.
“And for the first time, ever, I think I’m beginning to agree with Elaiza.” Rath replied. “R5’s safety is much more important to me than some Jedi artifact, or whatever that is.”
Frustrated, Zanroy gave up the fight. And the crew finally headed back to the ship.