Datalog Entry: Bymm.per.log/3418-22-X/X
Arriving at Atikan as quickly as we could was a stupid idea. We’re three days ahead of our meeting with Marru Jakkar, and Shadya refuses to leave the ship. She fears running into Kava’s men and doesn’t want to face that particular demon at this time. Of course the others refuse to let me out of their sight – and so there we sit, on the tarmac, for three more days.
Come the appointed time, we finally make our way to docking bay 18. The massive bay doors rumble open, to reveal a well kept interior with a very nice freighter off to one side. There were a number colorful awnings over several tables covered in platters of food and assorted light refreshments – Carni chips, Kamtro grassticks, glazed firebuds, tekka nuts and the like, while a server droid worked diligently to feed the dozen or so spacers already assembled.
They other spacers were a wide range of characters, some obviously not comfortable with crowds and finger foods, some eager to eat their first real, non-paste food in weeks. There was a lone zeltron female, a wookiee, a couple of humans, a rodian and a t’wlek. Some of them were happy to chat while we wait the entrance of our host, some were not talkative at all – but as far as finding out the purposes of our gathering, none of the conversation got much past “I know nothing beyond what the invitation told me”.
After a little bit of light dining and some polite conversation, our host arrived – Marru Jakkar appeared at the top of her freighter’s ramp wearing a dark brown vest over a close fitting jumpsuit of black leather, a blaster hung loosely at her hip.
“Good afternoon,” she began, “I trust that the refreshments meet your approval. Now that you’ve enjoyed my hospitality, we can get down to business. I need some rather important merchandise moved through this sector, and I’ve contacted each of you to make sure that at least some of it reaches it’s destination. You will be paid 5,000 credits for the run with an additional 5,000 if you are the first ship to arrive.
“A cargo pod will be loaded on your ships at a yet undisclosed location. From that location, you will travel the Wildstar trade route and rendezvous with the luxury liner Star of Empire, and deliver the pod. To be fair in this, each of your datapads has a file called “envelope”. It indicates your first location – don’t bother looking it up now, the file is coded to work through your nav computers.
She then welcomed us to enjoy more of her hospitality while she circulated amongst each of the captains to answer any further questions personally.
It was a very straight forward offer. The cargo was simple technology, nothing illegal – although a certain level of discretion in any Imperial dealings is required. But as much as this was a cargo run, this was also a test. Her organization is interested in only the best and most loyal crews, and this was a process of vetting out the less worthy crews.
While Mrs Jakkar made the rounds, the Zeltron – Captain Asha Odekar – approached us with an offer. “I’m the only crew member aboard my ship. While she’s a speedy vessel, flying solo leaves me at a disadvantage. I propose we team up, share whatever information as we can and if either of us win, we split the winnings.”
I pride myself on being a good judge of character, and I judge Captain Odekar to be on the up and up. So while Asha and I come to more precise terms, Mahitha chats up Captain Zimos, one of the other lone pilots in the gathering. Apparently – I’m not sure of the details – they engaged in a battle of spicy food and poor Zemos was unable to endure the heat. Thus Mahitha dubbed him Mister Spicy forever more.
And then, with a snap of Mrs Jakkar’s fingers, the race is on!
The first leg takes us to something called The Beacon, a navigational nightmare, a pulsar that causes all manner of hyperspace and realspace interference, makes finding the beacon difficult and otherwise is the possibly the toughest part of the race. We did well to team up with Captain Odekar, since she had arrived at the beacon well ahead of anyone else in the pack and was able to transmit the next coordinates to us giving us a very strong lead.
As Del is preparing the navigation computer for the jump, I spot the ship just ahead of us – a Captain Kraton Hawkes, if I recall from our meeting correctly – trying to get a missile lock on the communication transponder. While that would remove a great deal of the competition from the race, that’s not fair. Mahitha puts a couple of shots across his bow, giving him cause for him to reconsider his life choices. Before he can respond, we’re away into hyperspace.
We arrive back at Tal’Dor Space Station, just behind the lead ship – Captain Kalend Thora, the twi’lek, if I recall correctly – taunts us for being so slow, despite us being right behind her. Once our landing gear is down, it takes half an hour to find our contact (following, of course the proscribed sign/countersign guidelines to the letter – apparently another test) and load the cargo pod before we can hit vacuum again.
As we were about to reach the hyperspace limit, Del happens on a fleeting narrow band transmission – something that would only happen one in a thousand times – a transmission from Captain Hawkes – “All right, listen up boys. This is your prodigal son and I’ve got a sweet cargo load. I’ve popper ‘er open and it looks pretty tasty. There’s gonna be five more fat, happy loads just waiting the following coordinates plus a big juicy luxury liner. Sharpen your teeth boys, the pickin’s are gonna be good!”
Wonderful, there’s a trap at our destination, and every racer is about to land squarely in it with both feet. Thinking quickly, Del comms Captain Hawkes “Sorry, apparently you had your transmitter set to narrow band. Here, let me help you!” she says, rebroadcasting her message as widely and loudly as she could. Then, we’re away into Hyperspace.
Arriving to rendezvous with the Star of Empire, we are greeted by the Imperial Guardian cruiser Reprise and eight TIE fighters on patrol. After a moment, they hail us, telling us to proceed on vector 117.3 – and Del tells the radio operator exactly what is coming, that a pirate gang fleet was in route, so when the pirates arrive moments later, the Empire was waiting for them.
The pirate fleet consisted of a well worn corellian corvette, two YT-1300 and a handful of Z-95 star fighters – which normally would have been enough to perform such a lightning strike and quick capture the various cargoes. However thanks to the readiness of the Empire, the pirates were wiped out to a man.
Unfortunately due to the delay warning the Empire and dealing with the pirates, we were the second to land on Star of Empire. Thanks to Mahitha’s readiness and planning, we were the first to unload the cargo. So while we technically lost, we were the winners by handing over the pod before anyone else. That’s probably not how it was suppose to work, but Mrs Jakkar was so impressed by the moxie and bravado, she awarded us the win. She graciously allowed us to spend the remainder of the day in the lounge, with our food and drinks on her tab.
In the lounge, one of the other freighter captains – a Givin – approaches Shadya with an offer to buy out our cargo for ten thousand credits. Either this is the stupidest captain in the organization or this is another test – although one would hope that our employer would have enough subtlety to not be this blatant. Needless to say Shadya says she’ll think about it and promptly informs Mrs Jakkar of his stupid treachery.
In addition to winning the contract with Mrs Jakkar’s organization, she invites us to enjoy two days on the liner while we journey to Tatooine. We sample luxury that easily rivals the best the core world has to offer. I know that I’ve left that life behind (at least for now), but I can still take pleasure in opulence when I can.