It’s never easy, is it? My business partner – a former geologist name of Christopher Dennett – and I take an excursion out to our trash heap of a ship, intending nothing more than to stash a certain piece of less-than-legal artillery onboard and come straight back. Easy, right?
Wrong. And the real galling thing about it? It weren’t even the Alliance that nabbed us on the way back. Apparently, that young gun longshoreman had made a bid for the position of Crime Lord and subsequently decided that holding his sometime-coworker at gunpoint would be a good idea. We end up getting frog-marched the rest of the way into Freefall by a trio of brainless thugs. They’re lucky they weren’t stupid enough to try and loot me (not that I had anything but medipacks, a year on this rock had used up every penny we had on our persons, but it’s a matter of principal) or I’d have taken a special care to shoot them on some later date.
Now that little encounter led me to believe that a change of employer was in order. Not that I hadn’t been thinking it before, but this time we managed to be overheard by a slightly strange fellow with no shoes. Apparently, he’s the pilot (named Crash – I do hope that isn’t any sort of indication of his flying skills) for the Waxwing and considers my fondness for irritating the Feds to be a job qualification worth hiring. Got us onto his ship faster than you could blink, I was almost a bit concerned that it was a trap. But optimism paid off this time – turns out he was just an exuberant sort.
Captain wasn’t quite so enthusiastic, though. Something about wanting to stay off the Alliance radar. His mind started to change a bit when I told him about that stash of ataraxite the crime boss owed me, and how I’d be willing to steal it to pay my way off this rock.
Jao dao mei, when we raid the former boss’ warehouse there ain’t nothing there but a couple of black market guns and the three brainless thugs sitting shot and bleeding just outside the door. Now there’s all manner of ways those gems could have left their theoretical home, but they don’t really matter as things were starting to heat up in a projectile-laden way right quick.
I manage to get through the back airlock just fine, but Dennett got himself shot (the boy’s got a bit of a talent for that, I’m afraid). Feel a bit guilty for just leaving him outside the ship, but there weren’t no way I could see if the coast was clear or not and I wasn’t too sure that the Captain would trust me to leave the ship again quite so soon.
Now, it does appear that I was underestimating him, as before too long me and Dennett (who’d gotten himself patched up by a good Samaritan of some sort) were practically crew.
We laid low for much of the rest of the day, but that did put us in a position of awareness for more shady deals than a bookie in a basement. The sunniest one of these deals involved a companion (might I say, a refreshing touch of civilization that I ain’t seen since I left Sihnon), her apprentice, and their bodyguard all seeking to go the same place I was headed – Anywhere But Here. I say all, but the apprentice (that’s the Magistrate’s daughter) was convinced that her momma’s death wasn’t an accident and intended to stick around long enough to eviscerate whomever was responsible.
The other, more dimly-lit deal was one we had on with the Browncoats. Some wanted to buy their way out of indenture, some wanted just to get off-planet, and all of them wanted to sell the ataraxite they’d broke their backs for down in the mines to do it. Trouble was, there wasn’t near enough cash on the Waxwing to pay for more than a handful of the gems, and the Captain had a powerful need to stay on planet instead of taking off to deal with his fence.
Never one to despair (grumble, curse, and shoot things for amusement, but not despair), he called the crew together and told us all that we needed to look for the pilot of the little two-man planet-hopper he’d heard was parked out in the woods somewhere. ‘Course that was one of the fastest pieces of recon ever, seeing as how I was standing right behind him.
Which still leaves the issue of my ship being in a prime position to be blown up as soon as it leaves the treeline, but it was soon realized that that piece of artillery I stashed onboard would do more than enough damage to keep them from noticing much that wasn’t Morris dancing on their heads.
Having procured a small army of mercenaries and Browncoats with itchy trigger fingers, we set out to get my baby and give the Purplebellies a very bad day. You’d think a troupe of heavily armed folks would attract at least a little bit of notice – the Feds didn’t even come running when they heard the blast made by a rocket-propelled grenade hitting their base of operations. The things a girl has to do for attention in these parts…
Things get a mite more interesting when we get back to the Waxwing to report on our success. Nothing directly to do with us making things go boom, just the side effects of having put both feet right in the middle of a what was turning out to be a new, smaller, and far more doomed Independence war.
After some adventures in hiding, we sent Decoy (the Waxwing’s resident muscle) out to live up to his namesake. After giving him a bit of lead time, Dennett and I headed for our ship, escorted by the Browncoat lieutenant Mirage, with five ataraxite in my knapsack – three green and two gold. Enough to fetch a pretty penny on the black market.
Of course, on the way we manage to run afoul of a pair of mercs we neglected to notice were working for the Feds. Mirage and I get away just fine, but Dennett… I swear he’s magnetic, and I do not mean his personality. I might have just left him, but it’s his expertise in the field of gems that’ll get me the price we want from the fence, so I end up hunkered down in the shrubbery until those wahg-ba dan duh biao-tze leave.
With my partner back in the land of the conscious, we leg it to our ship and hit sky as stealthily as we possibly can. I can’t tell you how tempted I was to just take the money and run, but I guess my dress code hasn’t changed as much as I thought it had. Besides, I can’t abide clichés, and there’s this one about honor and thieves…