Two stormtroopers entered the cockpit, ordering everyone away from their controls. Cedric complied, causing trouble would only bring the wrath of the Empire upon them. Best to let the stormtroopers do their job and leave. One of the troopers approached him. "You! Face the wall, arms out. The trooper patted him down finding nothing of interest but his blaster. The trooper checked his jacket first before questioning him. "Where did you get this?"
"Bought it from a friend, he gets them from an official supplier." Cedric replied, probably best not to tell the truth and admit he killed the man who used to own the blaster, nor that the previous owner was a stormtrooper.
"Not worth following up, knock off blasters are always kicking around." Lucky for Cedric then.
"Can't be too careful can we? Happy to comply." Appeasing the stormtroopers was the best way to go. The authority they were backed by meant younger troopers threw it around brashly and experienced troopers knew just how to use it as leverage.
The stormtroopers seemed to lose an interest in him and let him go back to his chair. They directed their attention to the others in the cockpit. Now hopefully Kao wouldn't make a scene either.
"Captain, are you aware that parts of this salvage are marked with Imperial registration codes? Including the scrapped hyperdrive off the ISC Shadovah, which, by the way, is worthless. A hyperdrive cannot be refurbished or repaired once it has been irreparably compromised, and contamination renders it worth significantly less than the sum of its parts. In short, is garbage, suitable only to be dumped."
"I was not aware of that, no." Shana lied with a straight face. She knew more about salvage than this imp captain ever would.
"I see. Well, under Imperial Salvage Code, Article Fifteen, we are confiscating these scrap materials. Imperial personnel will meet you on the planet's surface. As a courtesy, we will waive docking fees." The Imperial tapped his cap, apparently feeling quite satisfied with himself - and frankly, a hundred tons of scrap was worth more than a few credits. He'd likely be able to sell it himself under the table, which was almost certainly why he wasn't reporting them - then it would go on the books. "After that you'll be free to go."
"We hauled that all the way down the Hydian Way, you can't..." She trailed off as he looked at her, giving the appearance of shaking in impotent rage. It was an old ploy, and it worked.
"Good day, Captain." The Imperial officer headed back towards the airlock. "We're done here, men."
The stormtroopers filed back aboard the shuttle and moments later the vessel detached, heading back for the Stormclaw.
"Keep quiet, crew." Shana said into the intercom, then headed for the sensors console, looking it over. "No transmissions coming from the ship. We're clear, there's no listening devices." She let out a sigh, then a whoop. "We made it! They're transmitting landing authorizations. Take us in, Kao."
"We made it! They're transmitting landing authorizations. Take us in, Kao."
"Roger that Cap'n." He replied, smiling at Hektorr. Sitting up in his seat Kao's hands flew across the instruments with practiced ease, as he moved from their previous parking orbit, to the sparsely occupied traffic lanes.
"Mree Control, this is the cargo vessel Kestryl requesting a vector, and landing clearance."
"We read you five-by-five, Kestryl. Come to zero one one, Customs Pad Delta has been cleared for your arrival, Imperial groundside personnel are standing by."
WHAT IN THE SITHSPITTING VOID! "C-copy that Control, zero one one, Pad Delta." If they're directing us to a customs pad, they've nicked us! Kao thought, panic rising in the back of his mind. There is no way the Empies are taking me in...I know what happens to..... Without even realising it, a hand slid to his pistol holster and unsnapped it. WAIT!!! Clam down man, there might be another reason. Ask Shana before you freak out any more.
Taking a few deep breaths to steady himself, he tapped the comm. panel. "Hey Cap'n, is everything shiny?" He asked. "Control says we're to go to a customs pad and that they've got people there waiting for us...do you know what's going on?" Mostly in an attempt to calm himself some more, he chuckled. "You flash that officer and convince him to unload our 'top cover' for us, or something?"
"They're going to be taking that scrap off our hands. Don't worry about it, everything's proceeding according to plan. We're still in the clear." She keyed the intercom, broadcasting to the whole ship. "Alright, people, let's get this stuff together. We'll be groundside in less than ten minutes so get yourselves together and prepare to roll out. Prep the mule and get ready to unload the blasters.
Hinek breathed a sigh of relief as he heard that the troopers had apparently allowed them to pass relatively unmolested. Hinek was confident in his abilities, no doubt, but here in space there was pretty much no way to actually employ them; a terrifying position.
The troopers had also apparently not even found him, having bigger fish to fry, which was also fine with Hinek. He had a few tricks in reserve, but some things got less effective the more you had to use them. Instead Hinek counted his blessings as he began to change back to his normal cloths.
A minute or two later Hinek walked through the ship to the cargo bay, giving Shana a quick thumbs up as he passed by. While Hinek was back to his normal vest and leggings the only gun he was carrying was his hold-out blaster at his waste. The small defence blaster was significantly weaker then a normal blaster gun, but it was just that attribute that often made it a much more legal weapon as well. Besides, it was just one more thing that made the unaware underestimate Hinek and the fact that he was probably less dangerous with a gun in paw.
Without further prompting Hinek made his way over to the mule and began to pull the small ground vehicle out of it's nitch, though he was still careful to not even glance in the direction of the hidden stash.
Being a co-pilot is tough. Being a co-pilot when you punched your pilot in the face a few minutes ago only makes thing harder. Luckily, both Hektorr and Kao were professionals. They'd grit their teeth, hunker down in the cock pit, and get to work. There was plenty of time to beat each other senseless when they landed. Unfortunately, that would take some time, seeing as how the Empire was boarding them.
"Told ya we should 'a jumped." Hektorr mumbled to himself. "Woulda been halfway ta Hoth by now."
Hektorr was never a fan of Stormtroopers. Their helmets made nice cups, but other than that, they tended to get in the way. These looked like the new clones too; he wouldn't even get the pleasure of fighting the Mandalorian.
"Everyone! Hands off the controls"
He picked his hands off of his dashboard and turned to face the Stormtroopers.
"You! Wookiee! Do you speak Basic? Nod if you understand"
"At your best you're a cheap copy of the galaxy's last whore Mandalorian, and none of you look like the best" Hektorr spoke in his most calming voice while nodding.
"Search him for weapons." The rookie Stormtrooper was nervous approaching Hektorr, and kept his gun trained on him. "Do you have any weapons on you, Wookiee?"
"Kao, if I see a Stormtrooper planet-side, I'm going to rip its arms off. I'm warning you everyone now." Hektorr shook his head.
"He's got nothing, Sir." The rookie spoke to what Hektorr assumed to be the captain. "Roger. Move along to the next rooms."
A few tense minutes passed with Hektorr trying to beat the Stormtrooper guarding them in a staring contest. Finally, the Empire left the ship, and Kao and Hektorr recieved their new docking orders. They were for an Imperial customs port. For once in a very long time, Hektorr felt a twinge of fear. He didn't know exactly how many Stormtroopers he could kill in an all-out fight, but he knew they would have more.
He looked over at Kao. "I think I'll take a rain-check on finishin' our little tussle from 'fore"
Much to his relief, Ian was not subject to any great scrutiny by the Stormtroopers. A quick, but rather aggressive, pad down and some questions about his blaster were enough to please the Imperials. Ian supposed there were some perks to being a human these days. As the Stormies marched away towards the cockpit, Ian remembered the clones that he had fought with during the war. They had been good men and even better soldiers. It made his heart ache to know that they had been diminished to the Emperor's tool of oppression.
Alright, people, let's get this stuff together. We'll be groundside in less than ten minutes so get yourselves together and prepare to roll out. Prep the mule and get ready to unload the blasters.
Ian shook his head and grabbed his comlink, while silently giving thanks to any supernatural deities that may be listening. "Rodger that, I'll get her ready." he said, and cut the connection. The "mule" referred to the old ER-3f speeder truck that the crew used as transportation. The thing was probably older than Ian, but it ran smooth enough and, more importantly, it was very low profile. It also featured a large cargo compartment; perfect for transporting scrap, or guns. Ian walked into the cargo area of the ship where the speeder rested. He saw Hinek preparing it for use and climbed into the cockpit to run a diagnostic.
He'd managed to calm himself, as he brought the ship onto a decent heading.
"I think I'll take a rain-check on finishin' our little tussle from 'fore"
Kao flashed a sharp-toothed grin at Hektorr as he spoke. "I'll hold to that." He replied. "I haven't knocked a wookie around in a long time." The decent to Mree was uneventful, and Kao was soon lowering the Kestryl towards a waiting group of Imperial dockworkers, and a AT-CT loader.
With a soft thunk the freighter set down on the pad, and the ground crew began to approach the ship. As he went through the shut-down procedures, he hit the ships internal PA system. "Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the ass end of the galaxy; Home to crazed Sep. fanatics, Empies, and frilling little else. Remember to enjoy your stay, and don't shoot the locals...unless you think it'll be funny."
"Why don't you give us a practical demonstration Kao? I'm sure the entire crew would enjoy the reprisal, except you of course but you wouldn't be in a position to complain." Kao was mouthing off again and getting Hektorr riled. Somebody had never heard the phrase 'let the wookie win'.
Of course the best sign of trouble aboard the Kestryl was to see how close Kao and Hektorr were to killing each other. By Cedric's estimate they were in a lot of trouble. Now they had set down on a custom landing pad just for them. Oh joy. Ground crew approached the ship, beginning their mundane routine that required hours of training and practice. Cedric always likened the ground crews to actors, they all knew what to do because they had rehearsed it dozens of times before. Nothing scared ground crews like a malfunction, or something else going wrong. It was the same as an actor going off script, nobody knows what to do and nobody tries to help, too reliant on their routines. Cedric was grateful he was never part of a ground crew, so boring, so pointless.
Cedric headed to his quarters, dismayed to find the stormtroopers had turned the place over. His exoskeleton gear strewn across the floor. Damn stormtroopers, didn't they know how important this stuff was? Obviously not. Removing his jacket Cedric attached the arms first, feeling the armour clamp on and gave it a few experimental swings. All seemed to be in order including the built in blade. The leg armour fit like a dream, though Cedric didn't test out the jetpack built into it, he had apparently tried that once before and the crew had found him lying on the floor with a dent in the ceiling. Of course Kao had laughed at that for three days straight and asked Cedric if he was going to propel the Kestryl to hyperspace with his skull.
Shrugging on his jacket, Cedric returned to the cockpit, considerably happier.
Devron took a walk around the ship to cool his head.
Flying through space and submitting to the Empire's grubby hands were nothing compared to what he did in the corps and it was taking more time than he thought to really settle his feet.
In the corps he was always on the move. He always knew who to trust and what came next in his life. But out here, dealing with pirates and smugglers. It was just a whole other game to play and it would take more than a few weeks to really get a hang on things.
At least one thing was for sure. His skill with a blade was still there, as was his lust for revenge.
"My brothers are close. I can sense it.... Soon I will join forces with them, and the Empire will pay for what they have done."
He stepped into the cargo bay.
"Even if I don't find them soon, who's to say they won't find me...."
Devron cut his thinking short as he neared other people. He didn't want anyone to think he had other motives than he was letting on.
"Anyone need a hand with anything?"
He asked no-one in particular as he closed in on people hauling scraps toward the ship's cargo doors.
"Don't help the Imperials, Devron." She watched them with a carefully crafted look of disdain and disgust, and waited for them to finish unloading. Once the cargo doors were closed, she nodded. "Alright, get those blasters unloaded." It didn't take long to get the cases out of storage and loaded into the back of the speeder. "Alright, let's get this done, people. Get your gear and pile in." She secured her blaster pistol and dropped into the driver's seat. "That's all of you."
"Alright, let's get this done, people. Get your gear and pile in."
Ian placed the last crate of blasters into the truck. "Got it." he said as he wiped a trickle of sweat from his brow. He knew Shana would probably want him on his speeder to act as both escort and recon, so he hurried back to the machine shop. He quickly reassembled the bike and grabbed his blaster rifle from his room. A few minutes later, Ian walked back into the cargo hold, bike in tow with the rifle hidden in it's bags.
"Alright, let's get this done, people. Get your gear and pile in. That's all of you."
Kao let out a huge yawn as he entered the cargo bay. "Damn...I was hoping to catch some shut-eye, but guess not." After heading back to his quarters, he returned with his jacket, carbine, and a metal flask. After making sure his weapons where secure, he dropped into a waiting seat in the mule, and took a healthy pull from the flask. "I'll be here if you need me...but try not to." He said, with a bit of a smirk. That said, and the alcohol warming him nicely, he closed his eyes and attempted to go to sleep.
Hinek secured the last of the blasters and slammed the door closed on the storage unit, giving it the extra thump that would actually cause it to lock and also told the others that it was secured. With that done Hinek slipped his vest back on and grabbed a few small nutrition bars off a table before scrambling up into an available seat near the back.
"Want one?" Hinek asked casually before he took a bite and offered another one of the bars to Kao trying not to smell his breath. "Empty stomach doesn't bode well."
"Want one? Empty stomach doesn't bode well."
"Hmmhp?" Kao muttered. He'd been just drifting off when Hinek spoke, and was a bit dazed. Seeing the proffered nutri-bars, he gave the Bothan an appreciative smile. "Well thanks." He said, snagging one. "Mind you I've yet to meet a pilot or helmsman who isn't powered by some combination of coffee, alcohol, and sleep deprivation."
Laughing at his own joke, he munched on the bar, and adjusted the folding-stock carbine under his left arm. Finally getting it comfortable, he once again settled back in his seat.
"Yes, yes of course. I'm coming." Said Cedric, glad he had all of his equipment with him when the order came, after all, getting on Shana's bad side would do him no favours.
Instead he went to sit in his seat and get a few minutes to himself for thinking. Then again, Kao was in here too so peace and quiet were by no means guaranteed.
Time for worry was later. There was work to be done. Hektorr loaded up the trucks with the crates of blasters. Easy work for a Wookiee. Then it was time for him to prepare. He went back to his room. Over his bed, hanging like a jewel, were his two Ryyk blades. He attached them to either side of his body, and then moved to his last weapon. A bowcaster. His bowcaster. A beautiful, powerful weapon. The edges were curved and pointed into sharpened points. He modified it to a hair trigger. It was less of a gun, more of a personal statement. He didn't bother holstering it, rather leaving it in his hand.
He hopped into the back of the truck, laid the bowcaster on his lap, and smacked the side, letting the driver know he was ready.
"Le's go run some guns!" He roared happily.