Star Wars: Trinity

Johnnysaurus Rex

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“General Oderyn, we found the survivors.”

“Let’s get the wounded started on some bacta.”

“CEASE FIRE! What are y-”

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Tnk Tnk Tnk

The sound of something thrumming the side of his helmet startled Vo from his sleep. Or at least what counted for sleep when wearing full armor. Personally, he hated the full Mandalorian garb. Good for combat, no arguments there, but for lounging in a VIP room on Bonadan? Not so much. Boss said it was more “marketable” to actually have a Mandalorian in Mandalorian armor though, so here he was dressed to impress.

“Droma,” a Rylothian accent filled his ears, “Wake up, client is going to be here soon.”

Raising his head, Vo gave about as much of a stretch as he could in the crowded booth. The dull sounds of synth and bass from the club’s dance floor making their way into the room. To his left was the woman who woke him. A Twi’Lek named Shura. Used to be some kind of freedom fighter on her home planet before having to flee the Empire.

“You can’t blame him for nodding off though, Shura. I’d be bored stiff too if I couldn’t drink,” Canard spoke up from across the table. He was a Gungan smuggler their group had picked up rather recently. As soon as the words left his mouth Canard glanced to his left, “No offense, Beedee.”

“None taken,” the BD-3000 droid spoke flatly. The annoyance in her voice coming through. She was a luxury droid model that had been programmed to do everything from secretarial duties, child care, and body guarding. She’s been doing a lot less of the former ever since her previous owner sold her for a newer model.

“Kara! You getting your fill?” Canard turned in his seat and raised a drink to their fifth and final member. Vo had noticed she kept to herself a lot in these situations. Something he could respect, especially given his own history. Everyone in the room knew him as “Droma”, an identity he had to assume 7 years ago. That’s what worked about their operation though. Everyone had something they were trying to get away from and boundaries weren’t pushed often.

They had been gathered here for a job. Their boss, a Cathar heiress by the name of Nanisa Jann, had hired them out for a job. None of them 100% knew what that all entailed, but it was coming through a contact they had been reasonably comfortable with. A Hutt named Edel. Definitely a shining example that not every stereotype in the galaxy was accurate, Edel was a pretty stand up guy. He valued trust and respect. Vo had heard a few rumors about what Edel did to those who didn’t reciprocate, but he figured that was just business.

@Green Ranger @Brandon Rhea
 

Green Ranger

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Bottled ale was something of a novelty in the galaxy these days. With the advent of fabricators, classicly brewed beers were something of a niche rarity - either they were up their own exhaust port with pretentiousness, or they were some barely legal basement operation that had more in common with ethanol than a beverage.

And on Bonadan it was always something of a gamble as to what you got. Sure, it was a major trade hub - essentially the nexus of all commerce through the Corporate Sector , and the terminus of the Hydian Way, but this kind of prominence attracted both the wealthiest, and the most unscrupulous, of business.

Similarly, the supply of alcohol - even to upscale bars or invite-only VIP lounges - was something of a mixed bag.

The first hint that this was a particularly bad batch was the name - Miss Snooty's Boozy. Complete with a poorly printed and scantily-clad picture of famed Pa'lowick singer Sy Snootles on the label. Yikes.

For a moment, Kara's mind drifted, both to a different time and a different life, when similar such cocktails were shared among friends and colleagues, the burn of alcohol in her throat tasting of victory and comradery. She'd actually enjoyed the taste of bootleg liquor once upon a time.

"You're holding out on me, Canard," she said to the Gungan smuggler who had addressed her. "You sat by and said nothing while I ordered this, quote, 'Boozy' with actual Imperial credits - real money. I thought we were friends!" she said, a half-smile crossing her face briefly enough to communicate the humour, a faint ripple of laughter echoing through the other patrons of the bar.

The smile never made it to her eyes. It never did.
 

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The pitter patter of the rain kept Ussej’s mind at ease. He preferred to not spend too much time in the bar, rather he always felt a bit safer keeping to himself. The man the rest of them knew as Jon Cordatus, not Ussej Bac, always seemed a bit more reserved. He presented the guise of a former spy, so the story fit. Just as well. No one needed to know the past his mind often wandered back to. Before all this.

He sipped a small flask of alcohol. A nasty concoction, but a far cry better than the arm and a leg these Bonadan bars charged for even a glass of something. He always kept it on him. Helped keep the edge off. Especially before a mission none of them had any idea the details of. Not that that was any different from his usual routine. These days, even more so than it used to be, even those on the up and up kept things much closer to the chest. The rise of the Empire forced even the most respectable of clients into the shadows.

Ussej put the flask away and headed back in. After being out in the dark rain so long, even the dim lights of the bar seemed blinding. Bonadan will do that to you, he thought to himself. If it wasn’t the nighttime, it was the gas and smoke that blanketed the air. At least being inside meant he could breathe a little easier, ironic as that seemed under mysterious clientele circumstances.

“We getting this show on the road or what?” he asked as he took a seat at the bar.
 

Johnnysaurus Rex

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“Ooooh keep your trousers on, Cordatus,” a gruff voice came from a darkened doorway. Slowly, Edel the Hutt slithered his way into the room, “I thought your type liked to loosen up before business got started.”

A jovial smile spread across his large face. He was wearing a smart suit jacket and a nice little bowl shaped hat adorned his head. It wasn’t appropriately sized for the massive cranium of a Hutt, making it appear all the more miniscule. As he moved forward he worked a cane with his left arm, a largely decorative piece of ornamentation rather than actual physical need. Edel rolled up to a meeting table in the middle of the room and tapped it with his cane. Immediately holo-emitters began to light up and the projection of a Theelin dancer appeared.

Edel gave the table a couple more smacks with his cane to make the projection change to a planet before sheepishly pulling his hat off in mock embarrassment, “Sorry about all that. To business!” He pointed his cane at the planet, “This is Raxus Prime! Junk world, awful place. If it isn’t the unstable junk piles that’ll be the death of ya it will be the junkers fightin OVER the unstable junk piles that’ll be the death of ya.”

Another smack of his cane on the table and the image changes to that of a Subjugator-class heavy cruiser. A ship used by the Confederacy of Independent Systems just 7 years prior during the Clone Wars.

“Now this,” Edel pointed, “Is your objective. Scrapped and left on Raxus Prime, a fitting place for a droid ship to be in a droid graveyard. The client wants somethin on this ship and they’re being real stuffy about divulgin anythin more than that. Only direction given was that what they sought were schematics and would most likely be located on the bridge.”

Edel left the image of the ship up as he lowered his cane and rested both of his hands on it. An expression of genuine sadness and frustration came across his face, “I wish I had more for ya, I really do. Old Edel doesn’t like sending you lot out with such barebones information, but the credits on this one are a little too good to pass up. You’re free to help yourselves here for the rest of the evening and we’ve got rooms for you tonight. Client would like you all to get at this first thing in the morning though.”
 

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Kara largely sat in silence as the Hutt went about explaining the mission. Edel was....well, eccentric, even for a Hutt, but he was also considerably less suspect than most of his kind, and though she had had few dealings with him in the past, the Hutt's reputation seemed well-earned enough.

Still, as the holo-projector flickered with static, suddenly changing to the projected 3D image of one of the largest ships the Seps had ever built, the mercenary couldn't help but clench her fists involuntarily, the bottle in her hand shattering suddenly. Distant enough from the rest of the group, it was unlikely they saw the way her fists shook for a moment before she composed herself, though the anger in her voice was clear enough.

'Oh you son of a Bantha, Edel. Whatever credits they're offering, they aren't enough.'

***

Dry air filled with ash and smelling of ozone.

Piles of wreckage and fallen bodies as far as the eye could see.

The fog of war obscuring everything.

She didn't remember how long it had been. Hours? Days?

A silhouette in the sky. Hope?

The shape drew nearer, blotting out the sun.

She fell to her knees.

No, not hope.

Death.


***

The Hutt looked at the woman in surprise. "You know this ship?"

She grunted. "Only by reputation. Not many survived the war intact. You're not just looking at a Subjugator, you're looking at *the* Subjugator. That monster was why no fleet ever got even close to Raxus during the war."

Rubbing her temples, she frowned as she looked at the holo. "Dunno how familiar any of you are with old Sep ships, but this is at least as big as four Star Destroyers end to end - possibly more if the rumours are to be believed. If what we're looking for isn't on the bridge, or if the intel's bad, it could take years to search through the rest of that thing."

"*If* the moneys as good as you say, it's probably because we're looking for a needle in a haystack. Except the haystack might as well be the whole damn junkyard planet."

Sighing with exasperation, she looked around at the group, and then back at the Hutt. Though he was meant to be the brains behind the operation, Kara had never really been one to sit in the passenger seat, and this would be no exception.

"I don't care how good you think the money is. Double the finder's fee and demand half up front. We can't be the first people they've suckered into this idiocy, but I'm not going to be ripped off because they want us to find their damn mystery prize without giving us any decent intel. They're either desperate enough to pay us, or the thing they're looking for isn't as valuable as they want us to believe and we're wasting our time."
 

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It took every fiber within Ussej to not shift uncomfortably in his seat. He hadn’t seen the sight of anything related to the Separatists in years. They were pretty much snuffed out of existence when the Empire came to power. No one really knew how. One day the Clone Wars were raging, and the next...silence. Most people didn’t ask questions. The galaxy was just glad to have the war over with, so glad that they accepted an emperor with open arms. Ussej didn’t ask because, well, it just didn’t seem right in his line of work. He knew it would paint a target on his back, but his persona actually came with some benefits here.

“It’s not the size of the ship I’m worried about,” he said once Kara finished speaking.

Ussej stood up and walked over to the hologram. With the flick of a finger he zoomed the holo image in on the ship’s primary weapons system and pointed toward it.

“Back in my Sep spy days,” he said, “I saw our intel about what a ship like this could do to another vessel. It’s got ion cannons tied right into the reactor. If anything like that were to be damaged or unstable, you won’t have to worry about searching the ship for years because the planet’s whole damn hemisphere will explode in flames.”

He flicked the image over to one of its hangar bays, continuing, “Let’s not even start with the thousands of vulture droids these things could carry. I don’t even want to know what its complement of clankers would be.”

Ussej walked away from the holo and back toward his seat. With a sip of a drink, he sighed. There was no chance they were walking away from this mission, but he knew Kara was right about one thing.

“This ghost ship is a death trap,” Ussej said, “so yeah I think we’re entitled to a little more pay if we somehow wind up not dead.”
 

Johnnysaurus Rex

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The sight of the Separatist ship didn't seemingly register for Vo. The Mandalorian visor giving off nothing. Underneath his stare didn’t leave the ship. He had never had the misfortune of running into a ship like this. Hadn’t been something his team would ever run into. He didn’t take too much stock in the new guy’s opinion. Mention of being a CIS spy made his skin crawl, but Vo had to remind himself that was the past. A conditioned response.


Kara though? He rarely saw her get this worked up over a job. The scale had been a little lost on him, but her putting it into perspective made the job sound all the more daunting.


“There’s no way that thing has any working droids,” Canard spoke up, “I’ve seen how scavs and junkers work. Beautiful haul like that? Bet it’s been picked clean. Kara on the other hand has a point! Let’s get paid double to fail at this job.”


Edel nervously rubbed his hands together. He knew the job hadn’t been great, but he wasn’t expecting this amount of pushback. Grabbing his tiny hat the Hutt wrung his hands and thought it over.


“Alright, alright,” he said with a tremendous sigh, “I ain’t gonna promise anythin, but I’ll talk it over with the client. ‘Member I’m on your guys’ side here,“ A smile did stretch across his face. A hopeful smile, “But! The contract doesn’t cover anythin you could salvage. So if you can haul it home, you can keep it with none taken off the top!”


Vo scanned the room again to see how people reacted to Edel. He knew the Hutt well enough that he wasn’t lying when he said he’d go to bat for them. He nudged Shura with his leg.


“I say we do it,” he whispered.


“Money is good and could be getting better,” Shura crossed her arms and leaned back, “If Kara doesn’t want to come we could manage. Not sure about the spy.”


“One less share?” Beedee chimed in from across the table. Not much got past her audio receptors.


“We’ll take the job, Edel.” Shura spoke up and got out of the booth followed by Vo. The Twi’Lek inserted a datapad into a port on the table and began downloading the relevant mission information. Edel threw his hands up and did a wiggly little dance before racing away to begin work on raising their pay.


Vo walked over to the man who identified himself as a Sep spy. Not what he expected on to look like, but he figured that was the point. He took a seat next to the man and removed his helmet. Vo shook his white hair and put the helmet on the bar.


“Hope I don’t have to wear that thing around you,” Vo shot him a smile, “Really makes the unwinding part of these things pretty tough when people want to see a T-Visor instead of your face.”


Vo reached over the bar and began feeling around for anything that registered as alcoholic.


“Name’s Droma, by the way. What do you call yourself?”
 

Green Ranger

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If the Hutt expected Kara's demeanour to improve from his offer, he was wrong. Standing up slowly, the faint lines etched on the woman's face deepened slightly as she frowned, clearly wrestling with the fact that she couldn't turn down the job, even if she was unsatisfied with the pay, and that her bargaining position was even more tenuous by the Twi'lek, Shura, agreeing to the job.

"Fine, Edel," she said, her voice more of a grunt than actual words as she approached him, and drawing up closer than most people would willingly do with a Hutt, "But I'm no charity. You make sure you deliver on the bonus pay, or I'll be coming after you, personally, to make up the difference."

Judging by the sudden and marked increase in sweatiness, and the way his eyes darted in every direction but meeting her gaze, and his rapid exit, she was satisfied that she had made her point to him.

Choosing to ignore the white-haired Mandalorian for the moment, Kara walked over to the bar, leaning her back against it next to the 'Sep Spy', Ussej. Crossing her arms and not making eye contact as she stood over him, she lowered her voice slightly - not enough to hide what she was saying to anyone nearby if they were listening hard enough, but enough to convey that the words she had were intended for him alone.

"I think an ex-spy would know that a public space is a stupid location to publicly announce that one is an ex-spy. The Clone Wars may be long gone, but we all know Seperatist sympathisers are still active, and the Empire is looking for them. Which makes you either an idiot, or you're lying. I don't care which. But if you endanger this mission, I will put you down.

"I hope I've made myself clear," she said, not waiting for a response as she walked away from the bar and raising her voice slightly as she addressed the group. "If any of you need to get equipped before we leave, I have a contact nearby. Their inventory isn't new, it's not good, but it works. And given the nature of our new job, it might be worth picking up some extra gear. Otherwise I'll return shortly."

She didn't wait to see if anyone was joining her before leaving.
 

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“Cordatus,” Ussej said, giving the name he took on after the war. “Jon Cordatus.”

Ussej reached across the bar and grabbed the bottle he’d been skimming from for the last few minutes. Taking a glass, he filled it all the way to the top, practically overflowing, to the point that it made a mess as he slid the glass over to Droma.

Ussej took a moment to look at the helmet, focusing on it rather than the lecture that Kara gave as she left the bar. He knew that Separatist spies weren’t looked on too kindly, especially on the Rim, but he’d rather the rest of the crew be pissed at his supposed former allegiance than know the truth. It was an eclectic bunch of people anyway. So-called spies, Mandalorians, people with perhaps a bit too much bravado. You name it.

“Been a long time since I’ve seen a Mandalorian,” Ussej said. “Last I met one, you were pacifists. You Death Watch?”
 

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“I look like that much of a prick?” he answered Jon with an amused grin and accepted his drink.

The Gungan behind him overheard the statement and whipped around to chime in with a retort before Vo fired back, “Not a word, Canard.”

He took a sip of the drink offered and hid his distaste. Wasn’t his choice of liquor, but Vo had been taught all sorts of manners and graciously accepting a gift was one of them. He had no love for the Death Watch. As much as Clan Oderyn had still adhered to the marital teachings of Mandalorian culture, even under the rule of Duchess Satine, they had always done it as a form of self-discipline and spiritual expression rather than warmongering or glory by combat. They had thrived under the new pacifistic Mandalorians, no longer expected to fight for fighting’s sake. Being able to actively pursue peace.

“I was actually a Protector,” Vo said after a moment of being lost in the past, “If you’ve ever heard of them. Got out of there though once the Empire started sinking their hooks in more and more. Wandered a bit before being picked up by this bunch. We may not look it, but we’re a little more than just a group of hired guns. We’re part of a community of people just trying to get by and stay out of the Empire’s reach.”

He had been at a low point before being approached by Nanisa. He had lost two homes by that point. Two families. He was dubious of the Cathar’s offer, but he never regretted the choice.
 

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When you boiled things down, one starport was largely the same as the next. Sure, climate changed, the buildings changed, the people…sometimes changed. But in a galaxy that was as interconnected as theirs, things started to blend into one another after a while. Especially for someone as well travelled as Kara, the haphazard maze of narrow alleys filled with travellers, traders, laborers and residents had a certain chaotic energy that she was, on some level, comforted by. At least the chaos of a trade hub was something you could always depend on. As vague an idea as it was, it was familiar.

Hell, it was the closest thing to 'home' she had had in a long time.

Still, despite being so well travelled, some places felt more at home than others. And as she turned down a particularly dark and narrow alley and ducked beneath a glowing holo that read in flickering Huttese 'Crazy Sal's Discount Weapons Emporium', she couldn't help feel herself relax a little, the stern expression that seemed permanently etched into her face relaxing slightly as she looked around the store.

Sal was smart enough to keep most of his inventory unloaded, though there was still lethal weaponry aplenty within arm's reach. Everything from a Gamorrean poleaxe, taller than Kara herself and every bit as sturdy as the stout pigman who had forged it, all the way through to stun batons, vibroknives or delicate personal blasters, easily concealable but still plenty deadly in the right hands. Glowing signs everywhere reinforced that the shop owner was armed and would not hesitate to use lethal force if threatened, though Kara snorted at the thought, the corners of her mouth turning slightly upwards in amusement.

"Sal?" She called out, and was almost immediately greeted with the sound of a shelf full of merchandise falling on its side, as well as a string of curses in at least five different languages.

"Be wit' ya in a second, honey!" the voice called out from somewhere within the stacks, the voice nasal and high, with a certain nervous or frantic energy to it, and the sound of more merchandise falling to the floor made Kara wince in sympathy, and as she walked towards the source of the sound, the curses resumed – in another half dozen different languages, as well as the clear sound of a powerful, nasally snort in clear frustration of the situation.

Turning in to walk among the shelves of merchandise, Kara stopped almost immediately as she was greeted by the source of the muttering. Sitting in among a pile of fallen blaster rifles, a shelf half leaning on him, the two-meter tall Herglic sat on the ground, legs splayed in either direction, one hand holding the shelf, the other rubbing what was clearly a very tender spot on his head. Though most herglics had a thick, rubbery skin that was dark blue or black, Sal was instead a pale grey, with darker spots that accumulated in size and frequency until they created a solid darker patch of colour that coloured his shoulders, the back of his neck and top of his head, as well as his back and arms, leaving his feet, legs, stomach chest and the remainder of his head. Though broad shoulders belied the natural strength of his people, much of that bulk was now instead thick, soft flesh that bounced and quivered with every movement, and though he wore a pair of dark tan overalls, it was clear to Kara at just how little the garments contained the man.

Still, any sign of grouchiness or annoyance disappeared the moment he looked up at Kara, his small beady eyes suddenly widening and brightening, an enormous smile crossing his face as he clumsily shoved aside broken weaponry to get to his feet.

"Sunrider!" He shouted exuberantly, "What in de name of de Empire are ya doin' here?" Kara opened her mouth to reply, her cheeks flushing slightly at the Herglic's nickname for her – Nomi Sunrider had been the feature of a story she was told as a child, and her love for the character was something few people other than Sal knew.

"No! Don't tell me!" The Herglic said, holding up a meaty paw to silence her before she got the chance to speak, "I bet its secret business. And you know old Sal, can't keep a secret to save his sweet Cherry – even though I do loves her so. How ya been? You're lookin' thin – are you eatin' enough? I don't have much but Cherry left me wit' some food capsules I can make up – do you like Schputtz? What am I talkin' bout, everybody likes Schputtz. I'll go heat some up now, okay? You jus' wait here while I go heat it up.-"

"Sal, wait. Sal!" Kara's voice elevated quickly to a yell, and the Herglic stopped, mid-twist, glancing his head over his shoulder at the woman. Kara couldn't help but smile.

"Sal, I've eaten. I'm fine. Do you need a hand cleaning this up?" she said, gesturing at the increasingly twisted-up pieces of weaponry that he had trodden underfoot.

"Oh, honey, they was garbage anyways," Sal said, waving his hand dismissively with a grin, though he paused momentarily, clearly calculating the lost revenue in his head for just a beat too long. "Besides, I haven't seen you in, well, forever! Gosh, the last time must've been-"

"Malastare," Kara replied, and an unspoken understanding passed between the two, the smile fading momentarily from Sam's face. Something wanted to be said, but was left unspoken. "But I'm not here about that."

The grin returned, and the Herglic's thick, clumsy hands began busying themselves with picking up the scattered and damaged merchandise. "Of course you ain't, honey, that's all ancient history. So I guess that means you're here for business then! How'd ya know where to find me?"

Kara walked over to the fallen shelf, weapons askew in every possibly direction, and busied herself with re-arranging them, placing the weapons back on their racks and making the shelf as presentable as possible before righting it back to its proper spot. "Sal, you may have 18 stores across the Outer Rim-"

"19, thank you! Our latest outlet will be open on Sluis Van by the end of next standard cycle!"

"But there's only one you in the galaxy, and everyone knows when you're in town."

"Ah, what can I say?" the Herglic chuckled, "My Cherry, she always said I'm a people person. Course she also says she wants another podling, and I gotta tell you, Kara honey, I don't think old Sal's got it in him to be a father again. We only just got the last one to move outta the basement, and I swear we've cleaned and we've cleaned and we've cleaned but ya just can't get the smell of adolescence outta there."

Kara winced. "I've got a contract. On Raxus Prime."

The Herglic's mouth was open, clearly to start another rambling tirade about his home life, but the mention of the world stopped him dead.

"Oh, honey, sweety, Sunrider. Don't do that. Don't go back there. Can't ya pick up another job?"

She frowned. "I go where the work is. I don't have many tradeable skills - and before you ask, no, I'm not working for you again. We both know how that went."

Kara was many things, but people frustrated and annoyed her, and customer service in a barter-friendly economy required certain....charisma and charm to be successful. Kara's usual tactics of persuasion through the threat of physical violence, she had learned rather quickly, did not earn her many favours - or many sales.

"Sure, but Raxus? I mean, the Sep ain't around much no more, but Prime….Prime's been a dumping ground for the Empire ever since the war. I mean its all trash now, but still. That's a lotta Sep stuff to have to confront. You sure you'll be okay?"

"I'll be fine, Sal." Kara said, though from the look on his face, it was clear he didn't believe her. And to be honest, Kara didn't blame him – she didn't really believe herself either. "I just need some stuff to deal with those kinds of conditions. You know, weapons, armor, a rebreather maybe"

Sal's eyes lit up again, and he practically bounded down the aisle, shaking the racks of weaponry as he went. "Oh, I just got this in, you'll love it! Come on out the back!"
 

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Ussej put his drink down. He looked, glaringly, at Vo. He was a Mandalorian. He heard what this Mandalorian said.

"I ran into the Protectors back during the Clone Wars," he said. "I'm proud to fight alongside one of you. When do we leave?"
 

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“Well,” Vo cocked a brow at Jhon’s statement, “Given what side of the war you were on I hope it wasn’t too much trouble.”

He turned to ask Canard when they were heading out to find that the Gungan had already begun approaching him.

“Right about now,” Canard smiled, “You’ll find us at the port closest to here. Dock C2. Ship called the Starduster.”

The Gungan moved his hands slowly in gestures of awe trying to build up the magnificence of his freighter. The Starduster had been good to him since leaving Naboo and he wouldn’t hear any words disparaging its good name. A man once called the ship a piece of junk to his face. That man is still alive and well because Canard wasn’t a monster, but he had some cutting words for him.

“See ya there, Cordatus.” Vo picked up his helmet and tucked it under his arms before joining his friends.

----------------------------------------------------------------

The Starduster in actuality was a good ship. Or rather it was better than it had any right to be. Canard had… “procured” it shortly after being exiled from Otoh Gunga. It had always been a smuggling ship, the Gungan found a load of weapon shipments already onboard when he left the planet. Pilfered an S-5 pistol for himself and sold the rest. What Canard did was make the Starduster realize its full potential. Pouring more credits into upgrades than he honestly should have, but it did cement him as one of the best smugglers in the Outer Rim.

He found his seat in the pilot's chair and started bringing the ship to life. As the systems began to run some preliminary diagnostics Canard worked the comms. He figured Nanisa could use an update on the situation. The job seemed fine to him, not sure why everyone was freaking out about an empty Sep ship since they were long gone. Canard really hadn’t experienced much personally from the Clone Wars. Settlements needing supplies made him quite a few credits and he had found himself at odds with the Republic blockades just as much as the Confederacy. He paused for a moment though as he remembered the state of his home on Naboo. Canard pushed it from his mind. Didn’t get this far by lingering.

----------------------------------------------------------------

The doors whooshed open as Vo hit the pad on the ship's wall.

“I’ll be in here changing out of my armor!” he shouted behind him to reach his comrades’ ears.

As the door shut behind him he got to work on removing some of the beskar plates of his Mandalorian garb. The suit wasn’t cumbersome, but he had found they still had moments of impediment. While the protection was unrivaled, Vo had always found the best way to not get shot was to just not get hit. He kept a couple pieces though; namely the chest and shoulder plates, vambraces, and helmet.

Vo put on his helmet again and began making sure all the systems of his armor were talking to eachother as he entered the ship’s armory where he found Beedee and Shura also getting their gear squared away for the coming job. He reached for his WESTAR-35 before stowing it on his belt. He found no other blaster he’d rather have on his hip during his years as a Protector. It was probably the last thing he took with him before leaving Concord Dawn. While the armor had been with him for a time before, he solely viewed this weapon as a tie to the men and women he served with. He also decided a blaster rifle was probably for the best given the junkers that were present on Raxus Prime. They wouldn’t be there for the scrap, but Vo had heard they were a shoot first rather than ask any questions type of operation.

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Shura noted the Mandalorian tending to his weapons. She had heard stories of these warrior people as a little girl, but never imagined she’d meet one. When the Republic came to Ryloth she had almost conflated the two before finding out they were just a bunch of Clones. He hands tensed as she thought of the Republic, or rather the Empire. The Twi’Lek forced her hands to keep working on her DLT-19. She remembered just how turbulent those times had been. The terror of the Droid invasion of her home, the elation of the Republic coming to help them reclaim it, and then finally the ultimate betrayal as the Republic showed its true colors as the Empire and turned around to become their new oppressors.

She’d spent most of her formative years fighting at this point. It had become second nature and she hated that. The thing that scared her the most were the thoughts that this was going to always be the way it was. She couldn’t go home anymore after the Empire had a bounty on her. Apparently they didn’t like when she put a blaster bolt through Orn Free Ta’s head.

She had to admit, as a small smirk came across her face, that was worth it.

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Beedee kept to herself a lot. It’s not that she disliked her team members, but she just didn’t always trust them. They understood where it came from though. She had served a senator’s family. As a BD-3000 she had a suite of sophisticated programming that let her accomplish a variety of tasks and that didn’t even cover the aftermarket modifications she was upgraded with. She cared for them, protected them, and did just about everything asked of her. They even included her in Life Day photos and social gatherings. She felt like one of them.

Then the BD-4000 model was announced.

It wasn’t long before she caught conversations about selling her. If they hadn’t found a place that would take her they discussed how much she would be worth for scrap. Scrap…

The senator wasn’t good about mindwiping her so she remembered all of it. One night she just left, removing her own anti-theft systems and wandering into the Coruscanti night. It had been a long road. She lacked purpose at first until running into Nanisa. She had been working as a bounty hunter since it was the only work droids could get without too many questions. She had taken to modding herself with new parts with the credits she earned. Mainly HK line parts and programming. The Cathar took an interest in her at the time and hired her instead of offering to buy her. It restored a little faith in organics, but she was still hesitant.

After the Clone Wars ended, she took to using CIS weapons and incorporated B-series droid parts into her chassis. Taking some joy in the discomfort it brought to some organics, namely Imperial citizens.

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Vo finished squaring away his gear and held up his vambrace closer to his face. Turning on the comms he began to send a message to Kara.

“Kara, it’s Droma. We’re going to be leaving for Raxus as soon you get here.
 

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“Come in, come in! Make yourself at home, honey, I’ll just be a minute!” Sal said as he shambled into the living area, his usual rapid-fire rambles continuing even with his back turned. “Did you want a caf? I can make you a caf. Where did I leave those schputtz capsules…”

Kara couldn’t help but crack a smile. She was hardly a social person – her demeanor was usually more off-putting than anything, she knew, and it was an armor that had served her well over the years, but Sal had always seemed completely immune to her colder side, instead barrelling through it with enthusiasm, nervous energy, and a genuine warmth and kindness that disarmed her every time they spoke. And for her own part, she appreciated it, despite herself.

“No caf, Sal. And please no Schputtz. What did you want to show me?”

“Oh right! One sec!” the Herglic bubbled enthusiastically. The living quarters at the back of the store were clearly not designed with a Herglic in mind, as Sal stoop soas not to hit the roof, and there were more than enough cracks in the roof to show that he wasn’t always successful. Various alcoves designated cooking and sleeping areas, and a holoprojector was mounted into the wall rather than having a dedicated lounge table, while a low bench and a small side table were all that was available for dining space. Hydrospanners and fusion welders lay scattered about, and various blasters and vibroblades were strewn about on a number of shelves and racks that cluttered every corner.

Shuffling over to the kitchenette, the Herglic opened a cupboard and shoved his meaty hand inside, pulling out a length of metal that his hand almost entirely covered. With a triumphant grin, he turned around – nearly knocking over several weapon stands I nthe process – and held the device out to Kara.

Only roughly the length of one of her forearms, at a passing glance the device assembled a lightsaber, and Kara glanced up at Sal questioningly. He grinned, bowing his head slightly, urging her to take it.

“Don’t worry, I’m not trading in Jedi contraband. Got this from an Eshani, if you would believe it.”

“Sal,I don’t want to have the warrior monks chasing my across the galaxy trying to get this back,” Kara replied warningly as she picked the device up, turning it over in her hands. A series of buttons were set into the device at either end, and the entire length was ridged with rubber grips, making it easy to hold onto, and despite the obvious presence of complicated internal components , surprisingly light as well.

Sal’s grin only widened.

“No, no, you’re thinking of Echani. Common mistake – most people think All Eshani are Echani. But like everywhere in the galaxy, most folks from Eshan are just…well, you know, trying to make a mostly honest living.”

“Mostly honest, Sal?”

“Hey, we all have our dark secrets, right?”

Kara was silent for a moment, and Sal shifted from one foot to the next before continuing, obviously uncomfortable by the silence that had suddenly filled the space. “Well, anyway, this poor fella had a real gambling problem, and some debts that were catching up to him, so I made him a fair deal. But I think an Echani versistaff belongs in more capable hands anyway.”

That got her attention. “Wait, this is a versistaff?”

Sal almost jumped in anticipation, clapping his hands together. “Go on, try it out!” he saird enthusiastically. Grasping both ends of the device in her hand, Kara twisted both ends in opposing directions, and the cylinder separated in the middle into two, and with a deft thumbing of an activation button, two sword blades popped out , extending with a high pitched, off-key hum, the faintest trace of an energy shimmer dancing off the blades. Whirling the twin blades in her hand, Kara steadily synced the angled and rotatation of the two weapon until, with a deft flick of her wrists, she reconnected them, creating a single, double-ended vibrosword. Whirling the blade above her head, she then brought the weapon down to her side, again, flicking the activation buttons one one end, the handle of the weapon suddenly extending and lengthening until with a sharp clap, the now extended handle of the weapon hit the floor. Her weapon now resembling a sword-staff or spear, Kara hit an activation button and the other section of handle similarly extended over the vibroblade, creating a full-length quarterstaff that shimmered and hummed in her hand.Kara went to raise the weapon to swing, but Sal suddenly stepped forward, firmly placing his hand over her own before she could move.

“Woah, the blunt mode’s have got a mild concussive component to them, let’s not swing that about here. But I think you’ve got a good handle on what it can do,” he said, smiling as heplaced his hand on the woman’s shoulder.

Kara was grinning as she held the weapon. “This is…Sal, I can’t afford this. A weapon like this has got to be worth thousands of credits.”

“Don’t sweat it, honey. It’s on the house. You’re a terrible shot with a blaster anyway, and I want to make sure you’ll come back to me alive.”

Kara winced. “I’m not that bad, Sal.”

“Honey, I love you, but…that blaster on your belt is about as useless in a fight as I am. And these – “ he said, holding up his hands “ are not fingers that are catered for by standard Imperial, Republic, or even Huttese designs. So just….take the weapon, and come back to me safe, will you?”

“…Fine,” Kara said, grudgingly. “But when I come back, I’ll have a commission in mind. I haven’t got the credits, but…I’m thinking this kind of merc work could do with some better protection.”

“None of that Imperial garbage they’re using these days, I hope,” Sal snorted, derisively.

“I’m thinking something that’s more like the good old days, Sal.”

“Oh. Oh.” He said understandingly. Those compounds are a bit harder to find. I’ll see what I can find. For now there are some decent synthweave suits you can use. Might help you get used to that versistaff of yours if you’re able to move freely, you know?” Sal said.

“Deal. But I will be paying for that, Sal. It’s the least I can do,” she said insistingly.

***

As Kara walked into the starport where the Starduster waited, she couldn’t help tug at the gloves of her new clothes. It wasn’t exactly a perfect fit, but the synthweave armor would at least provide some level of protection, and she had to admit she rather liked the cut and finish of the suit, which was cut to resemble a tunic and pants, albeit of a tougher, thicker and stiffer fabric than simple clothing. With her black hair tied up into a loose, messy bun, her similarly dark clothing and the several weapons that she carried – her blaster pistol now accompanied by a pair of thermal detonators and her versistaff held in place diagonally across her by magnetic strips sewn into the back of her tunic – simply made her feel more intimidating, stronger even. At the very least, now she looked more the part of a mercenary.

Still, for a moment the thought of Raxus Prime weighed on her mind, and she found herself hesitating at the foot of the Starduster’s boarding ramp. The Clone Wars had impacted lives across the galaxy, and Kara had been no exception. The Raxus system held all kinds of memories for her, and few of them were pleasant – and Raxus Prime was a dumping ground for old separatist equipment, ships, droids, weapons and more – an idea which chilled her for a number of reasons.

Still, the Empire was build on the ruins of the Republic and, as much as they tried to erase the legacy of the Clone Wars, reminders were everywhere, and people remembered. And as much as she wanted to, as much as she tried to, there was no escaping those dark times.

Even so, she did wish the contract was somewhere, anywhere but Raxus.

Well, except maybe Hypori. Or Malastare.

She winced at the thoughts, and taking a deep breath, walked up the boarding ramp, her fist hammering against the hull to let the rest of the team know she had boarded.

Maybe Raxus Prime wouldn’t be so bad after all.
 
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