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Arrival of the Star Runner

Posted on Tuesday September 29th, 2020 @ 7:14pm by Rhea Nyx & Elam Tash & Sara Wood

Mission: When a Hutt Laughs
Location: Zhar System
Timeline: MD1 - 1400

The Star Runner, a heavily modified HWK-290 light freighter was travelling through the wormhole of hyperspace travel towards Havoc Base, its owner and sole sentient crewmember Sara Wood is asleep in her cabin trying to get all of her gear together and as was her habit keep the ship neat and tidy, thus she was solely reliant on her faithful astromech droid R6-D3 to handle the simple task of ensuring that the Star Runner didn’t come out of light speed too soon or too late, and ensure that all of the onboard systems functioned at peak efficiency.

Sara was relocating to Havoc Base purely to find a new base of operations; she had little or nothing to do with the others from Horizon Base, the bulk of those moving to Havoc Base didn’t know who she was or had even set eyes on her, they might recognize the Star Runner but in all likelihood not know who owned or operated it.

As instructed R6-D3 notified Sara ahead of time when the Star Runner was due to drop out of light speed, she left her cabin and joined the battered droid in the cockpit, taking up the pilot’s chair, and as the light began flashing she pulled back the lever and the Star Runner dropped out of light speed, at the extreme edge of the system where Havoc Base was located.

Sara piloted the Star Runner towards Havoc Base cautiously, she never ‘arrived’ at her destination without taking a lot of care and paying attention to all that is going on around her, especially when she did not quite know what she was getting herself into, although Havoc Base was for all intensive purposes ‘safe’ past experience in life told her never let her guard down, the last time she did, she spent six years as a Hutt’s slave girl.

Once Sara was certain there were no obvious overt or covert dangers awaiting her arrival at Havoc Base, she set a course for the landing pad, where she’d detected several vessels parked already, guiding the Star Runner adeptly towards a landing spot removed from other vessels, as she preferred to keep the Star Runner apart from other ships where and when possible.

Once the Star Runner was parked, and all systems shut down, Sara collected her gear, and weapons and filed off of the ship, hitting a button concealed on the hull sealing the ramp behind her, R6-D3 would ensure that no one got aboard unless it was her, as once sealed one needed an access code only she knew to open the ramp again, an added protection against theft.

Nearby, Rhea watched as the HWK-290 came in for a landing, her helmet's display showing her a variety of stats even at that distance. She noted the modifications, not unusual for bounty hunters and Grey Squad, really. Everybody did what they could to survive out there, she thought to herself. The Mandalorian took in a breath and let it out, mentally crossing off another ship off the 'missing and unaccounted for' list, even if this one and its occupant were one of the latest additions to the Squad.

"Nice of you to join us, Ms Wood," Rhea spoke evenly striding towards the ship as the occupant emerged from within, "get your ship refuelled and get some rest. We're moving out soon," she added, her voice matter-of-fact.

Sara looked at the stranger she had not met before "Thanks, didn't expect anyone to greet me," she replied "Might I enquire how you know my name?" she asked curious to find out what her greeter knew.

Sara was not bothered by the fact that her name was known, she was just curious to find out how this woman knew her name, given as almost no one she came to this place with knew it, she began to feel a little on edge, was this someone she needed to fear, or was it just professional knowledge as Sara got the impression she had a similar line of work to Sara.

"It's part of my job to know these things," Rhea remarked a hint of dry amusement in her voice, at least as far as it came to needing to know the names of all the pilots and operators of the squadron's flanks. If anything, knowing their names and abilities helped Rhea plan certain elements of group operations when her strategic touch was needed. Besides, when she was the one sending people to their deaths, the least she could do is know their names. That and the Mandalorian had to make sure to keep an eye on the shadier elements of the squadron to mitigate betrayal from within.

Sara stood there studying the area curious to see what other ships were there, curious to know if she recognized many of them, and wondering out of those parked which one was the woman's, although she suspected she could guess "So, do you have a name?" she asked the woman.

"Uh-huh," Rhea replied but didn't elaborate further for the moment as she checked a readout on her vambrace frowning under the helmet, 'great, more bad news incoming,' she thought to herself as she was alerted that her contact has gotten back to her. She turned her attention back to Sara for the moment. "I trust your journey here was uneventful and you weren't followed?" she inquired.

Sara looked at the woman for a moment or two "Yup, uneventful, quiet, and no I was not followed, I was careful to ensure that I was not followed," she replied.

Sara was somewhat concerned now, something sounded off "Why what is it?" she asked as she was now on edge someone or something had made an appearance in the region that was not meant to be there.

Rhea shrugged, “just making sure,” she said. "It’s nothing you need to be concerned about right now." she added, "Come. We don't have time to waste. If you're hungry. Ask for Elam Tash, he'll show you where the good stuff is & get your ship refuelled too” she said making a move towards the more bustling areas of the bolt hole.

Sara relaxed a little and nodded "Lead on, I am starving, there is only so much replicator food I can stomach before I need real non-replicated food, I just hope this rock has enough food supplies to satisfy my appetite," she commented and set off behind the nameless woman "So do you have a name or something I can call you?" she asked.

Rhea paused falling back into step with Sara reminding herself sometimes she had to slow down when she wasn't on her own, or people just had to keep up. "This isn't Zeltros," she said curtly. 'Boy, Zeltros, I could use a great ocean view, relaxing on a beach with a drink in hand and not have to deal with all the ..., where did that thought come from?', she wondered for a brief moment shaking her head. "but ask Elam, I'm sure he can find something to satisfy your appetites. Unless those who got here earlier got to the good stuff first." Rhea shrugged.

Sara kept walking along glancing around her as she went, taking note of the various ships parked on the landing pad, there was an interesting array of ships parked there, some she recognized from Horizon Base others weren't familiar to her at all, and as she wasn't there for business, but pleasure noted the types but nothing more.

Rhea observed the other woman, she had her doubts about her, but that wasn't a unique occurrence in Grey Squad, especially when it came to those who just got here. "What brought you to Grey Squad?" she asked, watching Sara as she took in the sights of the various ships parked around the area.

Sara turned her attention to the still nameless woman "What is Grey Squad?" she asked as the name was unfamiliar to her and the question caught her somewhat off guard. "Nope never heard of it, I evacuated from Horizon Base which was a convenient hideout for me in between jobs, no one mentioned anything about Grey Squad," Sara replied.

"Ah, you are one of those," Rhea remarked with a nod, her suspicions confirmed; funny how often random galaxy residents just seemingly dropped in and ended up with the group. "the Grey Wing are many things," she added, "I guess you'll find out soon enough."

Sara looked at the woman "What is that meant to mean, one of those?" she asked indignantly she was beginning to take a dislike of this woman, who was rather annoying ignoring her question as to her name.

Rhea let out a chuckle which didn't carry a note of humour about it. "Neither Empire nor the New Republic, doing what you can to survive and exist in the world...help others along the way." she said, not about to reveal fully what she meant by her original remark.

"Well then yes I am one of those," Sara stated "If the rest of the Grey Wing members are half as mysterious as you are, I might not be sticking around here forever," she added.

"Very few stick around here forever. It's the line of work everyone out here in the Outer Rim deals in," the Mandalorian replied, "mysterious comes with the package for many out here." she added, "you know, in case there's a Bounty Hunter or two out to get them," Rhea spoke matter-of-factly.

Sara nodded "Yeah I know, every time I set down my ship on some outpost I run a check for anyone and everyone there who has issued a bounty or is subject to a bounty, and make a fair amount of credits along the way," she commented "It is one habit I cannot break even here," she added.

"Oh, I'm well aware of that, Ms Wood." Rhea spoke, "have been and have dealt with my share of bounty hunters in my time," she added. "We have quite a few here amongst our ranks as well," she said. They were approaching the camp-side. "Everyone's got enemies to deal with"

"Nope, I hunt anyone and everyone, Empire, New Republic, Hutt Cartel, so long as the client has the credits for the job I'll do it," Sara replied "Best bit of advice someone gave me, trust no one, suspect everyone, and make sure at the end of the job you get paid," she added.

"I'm sure we'll get along just fine, then" Rhea spoke evenly. "We hunt and deal with all sorts of things out here," she said waving a hand at an approaching male figure. He looked human, past 50, although was quite fit, and could easily give some of the younger members a run for their money whenever Rhea ran training exercises.

"Su'cuy, cabur!" he greeted the Mandalorian in Mando'a, referring to her as the Protector, his voice cheerful as he grinned widely, almost as if they weren't in the middle of shifting to a whole other base of operations and Rhea didn't have a tonne of things to deal with. "New recruit?" he nodded to Sara as he joined the two women.

"Hello there! Elam Tash," he smiled at Sarah, giving the other woman a wave of his hand as a greeting as Rhea shrugged at his query.

"Maybe. Up to her." She said.

Sara looked at the stranger with great care not having taken her helmet off she was relying on the enhanced optics built into the helmet "Sara Wood, I might be available to be recruited, depends what you want from me," she stated not quite sure what she had walked into but wasn't going to turn her back on a job opportunity.

Elam glanced at Rhea, "I'll let the alor answer that one," he spoke. Rhea cringed at the word and the grim reminder that she was, in fact, the boss at the moment, thankful her helmet covered up her face. "But, you're in for a fun ride if you stick around," Elam said with a wink, the grin was back again.

"Sounds intriguing, most intriguing, so there is room for freelance professionals in Grey Squad?" Sara inquired.

Rhea shrugged, "There's room for many things and people in Grey Wing." she said. "And like I said, very few stick around forever. It's the nature of our line of work," she noted. "But, striking as a team often brings better results than working on your own out here," she added. Elam shot her a mild look of amusement but didn't say anything. "Besides, very few expect our type to work together," she said, "you'd be surprised how often that works to our advantage."

Sara grinned inside of her helmet "Working as a team must be advantageous, can't say I've ever worked with others, so long as there is solo jobs I can work, I am in," she said.

Sara was a loner, she preferred to do things alone, R6-D3 had her back in the field, and had come to her rescue on more than one occasion, but if a job needed teamwork she would work with others, so long as they kept up their end of the mission, she didn't want to have to do twice the work for one part of the payday.

'depends on the team,' Rhea thought closing her eyes and pushing away memories of her past. "I'm sure we can find something suitable for you once we get settled at our next destination," she said brushing a gloved hand past one of her vambraces, her contact was getting twitchy, she couldn't keep him waiting much longer. Elam watched her for a moment, glancing over at Sara but not revealing any of his inner thoughts beneath the grin. "I have to get to Ops. I'll see you both at the briefing at 1600," she spoke, "Elam, see that Ms Wood gets some food and her ship is taken care of before we move out."

"elek, alor," he spoke in the affirmative as he gave Rhea a quick salute, inclining his head slightly towards her; without another word the Mandalorian left Sarah alone with Elam as she took off at a quick pace, her new target sighted already. "So...." Elam turned to Sara as they resumed walking, "good trip?" he asked.

Sara nodded "Uneventful, almost had to blast my way out of Tatooine, a disgruntled gambler who lost a sizable sum of credits at Pazaak, fortunately for me and unfortunately for him, his goons were either novices at their trade or too drunk to recognize who I was, but then again that wasn't too hard as I wasn't in armour at the time," she replied "Who is that woman?" she added.

"Sounds like a fun party," Elam spoke with a nod, he let out a chuckle at Sara's query, if he had a Galactic credit every time someone new asked him that, he'd be able to buy himself a nice piece of land and retire in peace. "The Mando? Whatever she needs to be." he said, not finding another way to describe what Rhea was without giving up anything the woman didn't want to be given away. "but you just got here, give it time. You'll find out more about her soon enough," he said with a wink, "don't take it personally, she doesn't like talking about anything that she considers non-business-related," he air-quoted 'non-business' and shrugged. "So, what can I get'cha food-wise?" he asked, gesturing at an area that was set up as a makeshift mess hall as he led the way. There were still people milling around, some were chilling out, others were talking in hushed tones, drinking various drinks and nibbling on food. Nearby support crews were running around each on a mission to ensure things were getting ready before they all had to disappear from their current place again. "Keep in mind, we aren't a fancy resort in Zeltros, so don't expect anything too extravagant," he said. "But I'll do what I can for ya."

Sara looked at Elam "I prefer not to shoot my way out of planets if I can avoid it, but I don't intend to let my guard down, last time I did that it cost me six years of hell in a Hutt palace, and many more trying to get my revenge against that long-dead slime ball, when I gamble I aim to win and win fair and square if someone doesn't like losing they ought not to bet their savings," she told him. Elam watched her, nodding briefly as he took in her words.

Sara took her helmet off as it was getting stuffy wearing it "What do you have that doesn't taste like it came from a ship's replicator, and is edible for humans?" she asked, she was hungry and would eat almost anything within reason. She glared at a Rodian who was gawping at her until he took his eyes off of her red hair and resumed whatever it was he was doing.

"Don't worry. As long as you stay out of the alor's crosshairs and don't give her a reason to have to shoot your way out of a planet, you'll be okay," Elam said, "but I suppose same can be said for *anyone* in your line of work," Elam shrugged. "Hmm.. most of what I have is fit for human consumption," he remarked, rummaging about, he pulled out a few things that looked like military rations. "As much as I'd like for you lovely people to have some food made from fresh ingredients, we'll have to wait until we get to where we're going and settle down so I can source up some real goodies for you guys," he looked apologetic.

Sara eyed off the rations "I can wait, real food and I have a passing relationship, its something I found difficult to stomach after six years chained to a Hutt's throne, so which do you recommend?" she asked referring to the rations

"Noted," Elam said, not taking the subject any further, he knew better than to ask personal questions at this early stage. "here, try these. should at least be easy on that stomach of yours," he added with a warm smile handing her a package.

Sara took the ration he recommended "Thanks," she said now to find me somewhere peaceful and quiet to sit to eat my food where the rest of these people won't annoy me she thought to herself.

"Let me know if you need anything else, or if there are any issues," he said, "good to have you aboard, Ms Wood" he added.

Sara nodded tucking into her meal, it tasted many times better than replicated food, perhaps she needed to do a system purge onboard the Star Runner, get new replicator parts, but then again there was no substitute for real food even military rations.

Once she was finished she walked over to Elam and waited for him to finish attending to the needs of someone else "Forgive the question, but is there somewhere in this place a girl can freshen herself up?" she asked.

"Sure," the man spoke, "on your right towards to supply storage area," he said indicating the direction. "Hard to miss. Don't expect much, this is all temporary," he added.

Sara nodded and walked off towards the aforementioned place, it was not much, but it was better than nothing, she refreshed herself and made her way out and back to Elam "Just the ticket, I feel so much better," she commented.

Elam looked up from a piece of equipment he's been tinkering with and flashed a smile towards Sara, "good," he said.

"So what does one do around here for fun, a girl needs something to do otherwise she gets bored and tends to do things to entertain herself?" Sara asked Elam.

"Depends on your definition of 'fun'," the man said wiping his hands with a rug. "Mostly right now it's a brief reprieve for the gang. Chance to refuel, rest, regroup; calm before the storm before we move to a more permanent location," he noted casting a glance at the ops centre.

Sara looked at Elam "Something to alleviate boredom, my ship is prepped for takeoff, bar refuelling but that can be done, later on, I have spent the last 3 days on the Star Runner, fixing minor problems and further upgrades to her, so I need/want something to do to pass the time," she replied.

"Oh, then we should probably refuel your ship first, just to make sure you are all set when we're ready to move when we need to," Elam said. "We have at least an hour before we find out what's happening next," he said checking the chrono. "As for alleviating your boredom, it really depends on what helps you pass the time" he swung an arm around indicating the myriad of people going about either their duties, chilling out, flat out asleep, playing some games, working on their ships or just chatting. "So, Ms Wood, what passes as fun for you?" he asked "that doesn't necessarily involve violence," he added quickly, "we'd prefer if that's kept strictly for jobs." he explained.

Sara looked at Elam "If we have an hour, I'll refuel my ship and read a holonovel, if it was going to take longer I might have been tempted to do something more time consuming," she replied "So what does one need to do to get my ship refuelled?" she asked

Sara hated downtime especially when there were few options for things to do to alleviate boredom, she usually gambled with the locals or found odd jobs needing doing, even if the jobs were paid a pittance, including transporting goods and or persons from one destination to another, so long as the jobs paid enough credits to make it worth her trouble she didn't care.

"Fuel's there, take your pick, get folks to help you if you need a hand," Elam said, indicating the supplies hold area, "but make sure to be back before 1600. Especially if you want to know where we're going next and when," he said.

Sara disappeared to refuel her ship, she didn't ask for assistance as she preferred to keep others away from the Star Runner if possible, she had put a lot of time and effort, and credits into modifying the ship, some of the modifications weren't standard fare for a light freighter, and thus made her life difficult when visiting planets with overly officious authorities.

Sara returned to Elam once the job was done, she had achieved it with 18 minutes to spare, she had not yet answered Elam's question about what passed for fun in her opinion "So where were we?" she asked Elam

Elam looked up from the droid he was fixing, "I believe we were discussing the varieties of fun

"That is right, well my answer depends on whether you mean now when I am not working a job, or am on a job," Sara said "When I am on a job I'm not one to waste my time on frivolities, I dedicate myself to the job at hand, studying my quarry and learning his or her weaknesses, there is no room for error on a job," she added

He waved a hand, "the intricacies of your operations are none of my business. I'm sure you do what you must to get things done. I'm just a simple man trying to keep things running around here," he noted lifting up a hydrospanner. "Over here in the group, many find a certain element of fun in their jobs... There are certain things I'd rather not know if you get my drift..." he smiled slightly, even if people tended to tell him all sorts of things anyway. There were definitely a lot of things Elam Tash would rather not be privy to, but he supposed this was a better option than being dead. "I meant more of what do you do for fun when not on the job?" he asked.

"Well, let me think, I gamble, I am afraid I am addicted to gambling especially Pazaak, talking to people like I am right now, swoop bike racing when I feel the need for speed, and long ago I used to do the occasional stint as an erotic dancer, a side effect of spending six years as a scantily clad slave girl chained to a Hutt gangsters throne, I don't do that as often now, but I keep my skills up to date," Sara replied.

Elam raised an eyebrow, gambling wasn't uncommon around these parts, "some folks here run Sabbacc games weekly, there may be a Pazaak game or two at times as well. Ask around when we settle elsewhere a bit more permanently," he said with a nod, "sounds like an interesting set of skills that can come in handy in certain situations these days," he remarked, not too sure what else he could say at that without sounding like a creepy old man.

Sara grinned at Elam "What can I say, not every man is a sucker for a woman in durasteel battle armour, sometimes all a girl needs to do is appeal to the targets deepest darkest desires, even women can be lulled into a false sense of security at the sight of a scantily clad woman dancing for them," she said "I tend to avoid Sabbacc as it is easier to cheat at," she added.

"Oh no, us men are suckers for a lot of things, especially when there's a woman involved," he smiled again, but the smile didn't quite touch his eyes, he busied himself with the droid once again, "you ladies seem to have a penchant for getting us menfolk into all kinds of trouble," he added.

Sara grinned "You do have a valid point, I haven't encountered a male of any species that isn't susceptible to a woman's charm, even the hardest of masochistic men are fallible, Hutt males are perhaps the one exception to the rule unless they control your life using chains, but even they can make mistakes," she said with an evil grin.

"Oh, I assure you, the non-susceptible men and woman are out there," Elam winked at her, "far and few in between, but they're there. I've seen all kinds," the man added.

Sara looked around the area wondering just how much longer they had to wait for news "I hope everyone here has their own means to reach our new destination, I hate taking passengers if I can avoid it," she commented to Elam.

"Don't worry. They all got here just fine from Horizon Base, they'll get to where we're going next just fine too," he commented tinkering with the droid again.

Sara nodded "Good to hear," she said "Now tell me, what do you consider to be fun to pass the time, and what is it you do exactly within this Grey outfit?" she asked curious to know what this man did.

"Every base needs a caretaker of sorts," Elam spoke. "I fix things," he indicated the R5 unit he was working on, "keep people fed and comfortable on the ground whilst you lot are off doing whatever it is you lot do," he added, "I make sure you are all supplied and ready to go with whatever's needed for ops, and whatever else the bosses need me to do on base." He said with a shrug.

Sara heard a beep on her communicator then pulled out her datapad "Hah, always knew that prick would come to grief, at least I don't have to hunt him down AGAIN," she said to no one but herself but loud enough Elam would have heard.

Elam smirked, "those can be problematic," he commented tapping at the droid's control panel. It beeped happily, before turning and zipping away towards one of the capital ships. "Ah, good!" he exclaimed, "that's one more we don't need to send to the junk pile just yet," he grinned.

"Oh goodie, I might send my faithful R6 unit to see you, he's old, battered, and a relic of the Clone Wars, found him in the wreckage of a battered old Eta-2 interceptor, the Jedi in the cockpit long dead, maybe you can make R6 a lot more reliable, a tad less cantankerous, and perhaps like he was as he was when first made," Sara commented hoping Elam might be able to help.

Elam smiled, "I can definitely see what I can do, bring the droid over once we get to our more permanent location." he said.

Sara smiled "I don't usually trust anyone to mess with my droid, but since I don't have the knowledge or skills and my last mechanic is now rotting in a Hutt Cartel dungeon for trading in contraband goods, so I need all the help I can get," she replied "Besides if something goes wrong I know who to blame," she added.

"Ah yes, when in doubt, blame the guy who fixes things, not the guy driving them or the situation they were put it," Elam winked her way, "you lot aren't too different from each other when it comes to equipment," he noted. Pilots, mercenaries, bounty hunters, Elam's seen his share of damaged vehicles and droids come and go, but he supposed this was the typical wear-and-tear of equipment when dealing with the elements Grey Wing Squad were dealing with.

Sara looked at Elam "I know what you mean, if something goes wrong it goes wrong, repaired or not one cannot be too certain whether it was the repair job that is to blame or it was inevitable something would go wrong, sentient mechanics are after all fallible, whereas machines aren't meant to be, and given all the wear and tear R6 has suffered I half expect I'll need to replace him sooner or later," she said.

"Oh trust me, I've ran across my share of fallible machinery and engineering feats down here," he noted, "the squad's quite good at stretching resources to keep things running," he added.

Sara nodded Elam reminded her of someone she's known once, someone who paid the ultimate price for being so bold as to tell Gotruba the Hutt the truth "I'd best let you get back to your work, thanks for the advice and guidance," she said she needed to sit down somewhere and survey who was around her and what was going on before the briefing began.

He gave her a brief salute, "Anytime, Ms Wood." he smiled, "see you at the briefing, 1600 hours," he said offering her a wink. That's when they'll know where they are going next. He really hoped it wasn't anywhere where they'd have to rebuild from scratch, that took a long time. Elam looked around, the squad seemed mostly chilled, but he could see some were on edge, whether it was due to lack of information, or lack of their leader's presence, he wasn't sure. He checked the chrono, 'guess we'll find out in 30 minutes,' he thought to himself. Elam shrugged, he had some time, best get busy on making sure things were in order before they were set to depart, whenever the heck that would be...

 

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