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  1. #71
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva Xolte

    She was more than pleased that her idea had been well-received. Her toothy grin had taken over her face and her already brimless energy was sweeping the area. "Excellent! First, we'll have to set things up - we have to contact the colony and at least pretend to hear the news from them before we make our report." Neva ducked back into the Wayfarer to do just that, then paused and swung her head back out the doorway. "We'll have to be ready to pick up and go, so I'll give you time to get things squared away here." Even though no one had been terribly hurt, the colonists likely still needed some help getting themselves organized. Hopefully they wouldn't need to prepare themselves for another attack.

    The Imperial colonists picked up her hail quickly, but were very suspicious that they might be being hailed by one of their attackers. Neva did her best to assure them that they were not, but she wasn't sure where they stood exactly when they closed off the call. The exchange was brief, which suited Neva just fine. They could find out that they were the good guys later when they had supplies in hand. Hopefully the colonists could last that long.

    Now, to set up the ruse. Trystan's advice was invaluable in setting up the data tracers. As he worked on the coding, she started making the ship ready to take off. Once they sent the message, they'd have to be in the sky and close behind the ships. Something bothered her, though. Such light vessels...could they have come this far on their own?
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #72
    Siralai and Trystan Mahr

    For hours, the ship flew on in the direction of Coruscant, as they had expected. Neva would be able to follow at a distance, and the course was smooth. Siralai and Trystan had assured the anxious colonists that they would be back to render aid as they had promised. First, though, they had to prevent more attacks.

    Eventually, Trystan echoed Neva's line of thinking. "They have to be running short of fuel. Such a light craft can't carry much. They'll be planning to refuel soon. I wonder where they'll dock?"

    "There's a Republic supply depot on an asteroid near here. I assume they'll stop there," Siralai suggested.

    But Siralai was wrong. The ship didn't alter course, and missed the asteroid by hundreds of miles.

    "Interesting," was all Siralai said.

    An hour or so later, the ship entered orbit around a planet called Omeros, a dusty desert world with no major industries or cities, and a low population. Though there were rumors that Omeros leaned slightly Republic in sympathies, officially it was neutral.

    "They're buying fuel," Trystan said. "No one here would give valuable resources away. They bypassed a depot where a Republic ship could fuel for free, and they're paying instead."

    "Because they don't want the Republic to have a record of their travel," Siralai surmised. "They must be a rogue element after all. Can we land too - covertly, at a distance - and try to follow them?"

    It might be impossible to catch up, but if they managed, they might learn something.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #73
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva Xolte

    While her ship was not equipped with cloaking, Neva felt assured that the other vessel didn't know they were there when the vessel passed the obvious choice of refuelling station. While she'd been to the planet, she wouldn't have made Omeros her first choice of stopovers. It wasn't that she had anything against desert planets or small populations, it just...wasn't her favourite. When Siralai requested a landing, Neva was actually in the motion of doing just that.

    "Fortunately, not even that much at a distance. I happen to know that there's some tunnels through the dunes from when they attempted to expand the spaceport years ago. We'll have the cover of dunes and a quick way in."

    The Wayfarer set down lightly into the sand, the landing causing the sand to billow up and reveal a metal structure. Not for the first time she wished she had installed something that would help disguise her ship from passersby - maybe next paycheck. At least she could disguise herself. She shrugged into her long vest and pulled her hood up over her head.

    "This place isn't too big. I'm going to go talk to the parts guys. They usually like to chat it up. When they look like they are ready to make way, we should all be heading back here so we can get back on their trail."

  4. #74
    Siralai Mahr

    "The tunnels will help tremendously," Siralai agreed. "All the better to look like a few more anonymous travelers in an out-of-the-way spaceport, rather than like we followed them in."

    Siralai did not wear Jedi robes, as a rule. She wasn't officially a Jedi anymore - and while no one had been concerned enough to try to police her behavior since, given that leaving to marry was a fairly minor sin, the robes attracted attention. Her simple traveling clothes with belt and vest did not.

    It took Siralai a moment to spot the rogue crew, because they too were wearing nothing identifying. Nothing with an insignia, or obvious marks of insignia being removed. When she spotted them, Siralai made a nonchalant gesture of fanning herself that subtly pointed the direction.

    A crew member was speaking with the merchant as credits changed hands for fuel.

    "Where ya headed?"

    "Ansats Basin."

    "Your manifest says Coruscant."

    The crew member shrugged, unconcerned about being called out. "Coruscant after," he said without particular conviction in sustaining the lie.

    "Most boring planet in the galaxy, mate. Whatcha doing there?"

    "Trading."

    The merchant raised an eyebrow but said nothing. The light vessel had virtually no cargo space, and would be even less suited to trade than long distance travel. The falsehood was so blatant as to be a rebuke. But it was above the merchant's pay grade to care what was really going on.

    "Interesting," Siralai said under her breath. Even on a fairly Republic-friendly neutral planet, the crew was not claiming loyalty.

    The officer was speaking again. "So you'll get those repairs done?"

    "Yeah. Who shot you up, anyway?"

    "Pirates."

    "Hm. Fine. It'll be done in the morning. You got somewhere to stay overnight?"

    "Yes." And with that, the officer walked away, the matter apparently closed.

  5. #75
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva Xolte

    While Siralai went to investigate the ship, she went to another key location - the bar. She could swear that all these places were carbon copies of each other, scattered across the galaxy. Where they differed was who - or what - populated them. Choosing a stool at the end of the bar, Neva ordered a drink and paid the bartender more than he asked. To his credit, he didn't so much as raise an eyebrow. She only hoped it was enough to buy whatever it was she was going to need from him.

    Her 'mission' was purely reconnaissance and her choice of post was hopefully the right one. She knew there were several people on board the vessel they'd fired upon and if she'd been them, she would likely be after a stiff drink. But how she'd recognize them was another question - certainly there'd been markings on at least one person's sleeve, but clothing could be changed. Appearances could be manipulated. She was a good example of the fact. Even now, her hood obscured most of her face, and the lighting was such that her skin colour wasn't glaringly obvious. At least, not as glaringly obvious as the two men who strode into the bar, the cuffs of their sleeves poking out from under travelling robes. Her quarry.

    Unfortunately for her, they took seats at a table far from the bar and next to the door. Interesting. Obviously they didn't care who came into the room - only that they could leave quickly. Still, Neva didn't give reason for their sweeping glances to fix on her. With any luck, she could still find out something about them, even from a distance.

  6. #76
    Inside the Bar

    Three sat down in the seedy dive bar - two men and a woman, all humanoid. Their clothing was free of any insignia or identifying mark. In fact, they were all studiously nondescript. They were distinguishable from each other primarily by the colors of their simple travelers' outfits. One wore tan, one wore burgundy, and one wore grey.

    "Did you pick up the parcels?" Tan asked Grey.

    Grey nodded and held up a small stack of wrapped objects, but these were set aside unopened - obviously not a subject of high priority or urgency.

    "And the other matter...?" Grey asked Burgundy, a little too studiously nonchalant. This, then, was the meat of the matter.

    Burgundy briefly flashed them a glimpse of a holodisk between her fingers, then it disappeared into the pocket of her loose-fitting jacket.

    "This should give us the final coordinates, yes," she said coolly.

    They went back to sipping their drinks in silent contemplation of who-knew-what.

  7. #77
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva Xolte

    Her skin prickled as the three sat down at a table. The package garnered as much attention from her as it was given by the three. Patience. They'd tip their hand at some point. And there it was - the glint of a holodisk. THAT was her target. Of course, she couldn't just walk up and take it. That would reveal her own hand. What she needed was...

    "Hey. We don't take to your kind here. Shove off." A heavy hand squeezed her shoulder and tugged her from her perch. She glanced down at the paw, then up at the Talz that held her. Oh ho. This was perfect. She turned so as to face him - and subsequently put herself into prime location for what would come next.

    "You know, I heard your pelts are the best for ship..." Neva didn't get to finish because of the fist in her face. Grim satisfaction was hers when she smacked into Grey, knocking him into the wall. The whole bar erupted. Tables flew through the air. Drinks shattered on every surface. The din was deafening. As the woman in burgundy moved Neva's body off of her fallen comrade, Neva took the opportunity to relieve her of the object she desired. Grey was unconscious and Neva feigned the like until Burgundy and Tan towed him clear of the bar. Lucky for her, the Talz was now surrounded or she was sure he'd finish her off before she could slink out of the way. Neva tugged her hood over her bloodied face and headed toward the main shipping bay in a lope, hoping to run into the others and get everyone back on the ship. She had the feeling they'd have precious seconds to spare before the three figured out that their disk was missing.

  8. #78
    Siralai and Trystan Mahr

    Naturally, the Mahrs' first concern was that Neva had returned looking worse for the wear. Once they realized how successful her expedition had been, however, their worry turned to admiration.

    "Neva, this is truly a boon for us!" Siralai said, allowing a faint hint of relief to show in her normally utterly calm voice. "This may be the key to unlocking the puzzle."

    "We should decode the coordinates immediately and try to get a head start," Trystan suggested. "With luck, we'll be well on our way before they figure out what happened to their disc, and we'll have the element of surprise."

    No one objected to this plan. Of course, for the Mahrs, there was the worry of their teenage daughter still being aboard - but there was nothing they could do about that now. Even under the circumstances, Rossi was safer on the ship than dropped off alone somewhere.

    The coordinates turned out to be a nondescript shipping dock on Coruscant. With enough ship traffic in and out, they would be able to slip into a nearby berth unnoticed. Only then did Siralai register the ship sitting in the bay in question.

    "That's Advisor Merkarak's ship," Siralai said in almost a whisper - unnecessary, in the privacy of Neva's ship.

    "Does he work in the Senate?" Trystan asked, not quite placing the name.

    "Yes," Siralai replied, her face inscrutable. "He works for my sister."

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