A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
The Wild Cards
In 130 ABY, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These soldiers promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the OUTER RIM TERRITORIES.
Today, still wanted by the SITH EMPIRE, they survive as soldiers of fortune.
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire THE WILD CARDS.
_Narrated by Mace Windu! _
One more of these and I can finally drop this contract… sweet!
We start this episode on the boarding ramps of the Nebula Star. The posh and ornate Hutt luxury liner currently boarding its passengers for its next departure. Its sleek golden hull visible beyond the forcefields separating the passengers from space. A long docking tube leads to the side of the station and into the waiting area. Where hundreds of people and species wait for the security detail to let them aboard.
Bodomas in his disguise looked nothing like himself. Still he nervously picked at his disguise. Zher’Vesh sighed at him for the tenth time in as many minutes. The security details they had already passed through just to get into the waiting area had not even looked twice.
“Will you quit that?” Zher’Vesh nudged Bodomas. “They didn’t care downstairs, they won’t care now. Unless you somehow succeed in pulling that off.”
“Sorry, nervous habit. Do we know if the others were able to get aboard?” Bodomas asked.
“1v1 did, cargo scanners didn’t have any problem.” Zher’Vesh replied. “The other two have not reported in yet.”
The pair reach the head of the line and two security guards take their papers and scan them with handheld devices. Neither of the guards say anything in response, they just grunt, hand back the papers, and then nod their heads indicating the pair should pass.
As they nod however two scantily clad Twilik girls in slave collars rush forward and take Bodomas and Zher’Vesh by the hands, greeting them warmly and welcoming them aboard. They will escort the pair to their cabin.
Zher’Vesh grits his teeth and tries to smile and ignore the slave collars as he is led into the docking tube. Bodomas has an easier time. He is familiar with this routine.
The girls while leading them to their rooms prattle on about the cruises itinerary, features and activities. When the ship departs it will spend one and a half galactic standard days in hyperspace, after which it will reach the Crensath Nebula. The girls took several minutes to coo over the gorgeous orange and green hues of the stellar phenomena. The ship will be close enough that the upper decks will turn a rose green hue.
At that time the high stakes games will start in the gambling hall. Baradasi and Zher’Vesh both agree they will be participating and the girls mention there is a minimum twenty five k buy in for the high stakes games.
The girls are halfway through explaining the second leg of the trip which will start after the cruise has spent a full galactic day at the nebula when they reach the main concourse. A long oval room that seems to stretch the length of the inside of the ship. Its walls are staterooms for five stories overhead. The lower level is a market bazaar of sorts will just about every distraction you can find in Hutt space on prominent display.
The girls are describing the amenities as all of the large screens overhead, there are dozens of them all over the walls of the concourse, converted to a projection of Baradasi the Hutt. He speaks in Huttese and welcomes everyone aboard.
Baradasi eyes the screens critically as the low bass tones are recited. He whispers to Zher’Vash. “He’s preoccupied, he knows something is up.”
Zher’Vash nods without responding verbally.
After they reach their stateroom Zher’Vash dismisses the girls who leave looking somewhat disappointed. Zher’Vash looks at Bodomas who replies. “Any girl in a collar can be bought here. While they were with us they were, at least temporarily, not for sale.”
Zher’Vash catches the girls in the hall, they were talking at the lift, and asks them to lead the pair down to the gambling hall.
The gambling hall is a zoo of every species imaginable. Zher’Vash and Bodomas register for the tournament and then each takes a stack of house chips to blow on games in the meantime. They are quickly separated. The girls make convenient escorts actually. They point out the dealers to avoid, and when Zher’Vesh runs out his first stack of chips, conveniently ran to get him more.
The tables Zher’Vesh passed through dismissed him as a loser with money. He didn’t do so well gambling but he did manage to start some rumors about Baradasi losing his holdings. The slaves turned out to be the better angle for spreading rumors. He mentioned the slave revolt and escape and his escort pressed him for the details. Soon he was getting complementary drinks from unknown benefactors.
Below decks Kiv, Haro, and Havok were doing their best to impersonate crewman. They had replaced three members of the crew at the last minute, and it seems only for the lax security on the crew entrance, nobody cared. The foreman for the crew did not care who did the job, only that it got done. They made it perfectly clear to the crew before departure, that if they needed to be called in, because something was not getting done, heads would roll, and they might throw crew members caught slacking off or worse, pretending to be guests, out the airlocks.
This suited the trio well. The job boards were divided up into ship sections, so whenever they needed to be in a particular section, they just took a job in that section. There were plenty of security types around, but they seemed mostly interested in keeping the passengers out of trouble, they practically ignored the work level crew.
Kiv coming off his first shift sneaks into the forward administrative node. Nobody looks at him twice. The four operators in the room are practically asleep in their chairs. One rouses for a beep on his console and then after he looks at the alert for a second dismisses it and lounges back in his chair.
Kiv walks to the back of the node and finds a console. He slices in easily, but triggers an alarm by attempting to reach a system not allowed from the console. He rapidly bounces his signal around the ship finally linking it to a console in a stateroom on the top deck before disconnecting.
Haro and Havok enter main cargo and find it’s a mess. Whomever loaded the ship did not do so in an organized manner. The expected location for 1v1’s crate was filled with smaller crates in a haphazard pile.
“Well. So incompetence instead of easy. Not sure I like the trade.” Haro grumped looking out at the huge mess of crates.
Havok sighed and found the control tablet for the crane. “I will see if I can find him. At least it looks like they tried to put the biggest crates on the bottom.”
“Happy digging.” Haro replied and turned to leave. “I’m off to try and take out the air support.”
Neither of them make their goals quickly. Haro ends up blocked from entering the hangar bay or the flight control center. He does manage to find the ships tractor beam however. It’s not so carefully hidden behind some poorly held in place patch panels. It seems the further you go below decks the more cheaply the ship is held together.
Havok eventually digs 1v1’s crate out from underneath the mountain of luggage, it only took three hours, and the workers who discovered him at it were convinced by his, “I was told to organize this mess. The Foreman said whoever did the initial loading is getting spaced.”
Apparently one of the crewmen in that group was responsible because he, upon hearing the comment, took a few steps back and then disappeared around a corner. The others left to look for him.
1v1 once extracted from its crate takes the container holding the team’s armor and weapons from the cargo hold up to the stateroom. The droid has been disguised to look like a custom load lifter. No-one questions its presence, it is just a droid, and it reaches the stateroom without issue, parking there after scanning the room for listening devices to stay out of sight.
The next morning Bodomas and Zher’vesh head down to breakfast. There they spread some more rumors. Apparently Bodomas did well in his games as several patrons gathered to speak with him. Zher’Vesh doesn’t attract much attention because he lost everything and needs to get more cash. Nothing makes you more invisible in a casino, than a lack of credits.
That gives him an opportunity to examine the other guests. This examination led him to notice a number of guests did not look like gamblers. There is a table near his where a group of four rather large men are speaking in low tones. They do not give off the impression they are there to party.
On a whim Zher’Vesh trips into a large food pyramid near the table. They curse him out for being clumsy as fruit bounces between their feet but do not act overtly hostile, or draw weapons. As he extracts himself from the situation Zher’Vesh catches a glimpse of a man in a dark robe watching from one of the entrances. The moment Zher’Vesh sets eyes on him the man leaves.
Kiv starts his shift on maintenance detail. This allows him to follow the port side of the hull access corridor. All of the ships turbolasers for the Portside are on this corridor. The turbolasers are contained in blisters along the hull just a short step down from the hallway. The hatch opens easily to the first one and Kiv sabotages it to overload on first shot without incident.
The second turbolaser is not so easy. Kiv manages to get inside just as a group of work crew gathers in the hallway outside and start arguing. Apparently the foreman are skimming the payroll to gamble, and someone found out. They are arguing how to resolve the issue without getting spaced. Kiv when done with his sabotage is dragged into the group and asked his opinion of the foreman’s behavior.
Havok after breakfast skips down to wastewater treatment and gathers a container of chemical treatment, with an impressive but not fatal list of ingredients. After acquiring the container he heads down to the commissary and finds the head cook is pissed.
“Filthy blighters are cutting my budget now?” the cook grumbles.
Havok who had also heard the scuttlebutt about the foreman’s embezzlement takes the cook aside and suggests that the security team is in on the deal. It takes little time to convince the head cook to assist and the chemical treatment is added to their rations for the day.
Havok begins to whistle a happy tune as he is walking up the corridor away from the commissary. Several teams of security guards are walking past him heading in the other direction.
1v1 from the balcony of the suite has been observing the behavior of the passengers and crew below. He can tell there is something going on. Several times security teams gather and disperse. Then he spies two men in dark robes meeting in a side corridor.
At the end of his shift Kiv manages to escape the other work crew who are considering a strike at this point. He reaches one of the turbolaser’s but as he gets there he finds one of the cruise upper deck sailors showing off the turret to a pair of girls dressed in clothing entirely too expensive to cover that little. The sailor and ladies are both clearly seeking the same thing. Kiv suggests that he needs to do maintenance on the turret and they might find more privacy in one of the turrets further forward. They appreciate the suggestion and rapidly move off.
Kiv completes the sabotage easily and without further interruption.
Haro unable to get to the hangar again instead helps with the last turret on the portside. He could not sabotage it like Kiv could, but he did manage to break the targeting computer.
Havok hires a pair of slave girls to deliver a cake, and all the alcohol he could buy from the commissary, to the flight crew leader. He sends them on their way reminding them “It’s his birthday!”
Zher’Vesh heads down to the pool and discovers the drunks there never stopped drinking from last night. Several members of the crew are there trying to keep guests from drowning or hurting themselves. Zher’Vesh takes the opportunity to spread more rumors. Several members of the crowd are “personal friends” of Baradasi and loudly protest the idea the Hutt was in any sort of trouble.
Zher’Vesh notes that some members of the crew are keeping an eye on him. He decides to pretend to get real drunk and lay low. He spends several hours at the pool and then heads off to find Baradasi. He notices that he is being tailed by the crew. No matter where he goes, one of the sailors is watching him from a distance.
The ship drops out of hyperspace and the top hatch opens illuminating the top three decks in an orange green glow. The crowds of passengers on the promenade deck look up and ooh and aah appreciatively. This gives Zher’Vesh an opportunity to blend with the crowds and disappear.
Everyone knows this is the signal to regroup and get into gear. Zher’Vesh somehow manages to avoid getting tailed back to the room and finds everyone else there waiting.
“They almost made me, but I think I am allright.”
“Doesn’t matter at this point. Suit up.” Haro points at Zher’Vesh’s gear nearby. “We think they are on to us anyway.”
Suddenly an announcement comes over the ship intercom. “Attention all passengers. For safety concerns we will be closing the overhead windows. Please do not be alarmed."
“That will be our reinforcements.” Kiv grinned. “I made certain the portside shuttle bay hatch was stuck open.”
“Nice. Let’s get this party started.” Haro replied with a grin.
Then a not so gentle voice announced over the ship intercom. “Ladies and Gentle beings we request that all passengers retreat to your quarters at this time due to safety concerns. All guests return to your quarters immediately."
That kicked off a row down on the promenade. Apparently some guests did not appreciate their party being interrupted. Kiv and Haro step out on the balcony and look down. There are many people in crew uniforms down there attempting to handle the passengers back into their cabins.
“I don’t see any actual security down there… Do you?” Kiv opined.
Haro nodded. “Hopefully that means they are distracted elsewhere. Now to figure out where the Hutt is hiding.”
Suddenly all the overhead screens on the promenade light up and Baradasi the Hutt is shown on the screen. He laughs as if amused by the emergency. The screen behind him shows the stage of a theater.
“That’s the forward amphitheater.” Haro comments recognizing the location from his explorations.
“I know you fools are here. Now you fools know where I am. Come and get me!” announces the Hutt following his statement with some foul language in Huttese.
Haro doesn’t quite follow the insult. “He’s going to do what to my speeder?”
“He’s not talking about your speeder.” Kiv finishes. “Everyone ready?”
Everyone nods as the screens replay the Hutt’s statement and insult.
1v1 observing the others as they put on their gear and readied their weapons states. “Observation: this is clearly a trap. We are letting the enemy choose the battlefield.”
“That’s what grenades are for.” Havok opined.
The corridors leading to the front of the ship are empty. No passengers and no crew appear to bar their path. Eventually they reach a restaurant on the foredeck. “This is the place. The amphitheater is below.” Kiv comments unlocking the restaurant.
They cross to the back of the restaurant and find there are no access panels to get below the floor. It takes several moments to cut a section of floor free and lift it up so they can view the superstructure below. The space is narrow and there is a clear access panel visible nearby. They open it and find themselves above the backstage area in the theater. Directly below them is the rigging for the stage.
Below the rigging however are two men in black robes watching the forward entrance to the amphitheater.
The team carefully and as silently as they can drops down to the rigging over the stage. Havok looks at Kiv and nods as Kiv pulls out a grenade and primes it. 1v1 looks over. “I will draw their attention.”
1v1 drops down to the stage below as Kiv drops the grenade on the two robed men. One seems to notice that it’s coming and leaps aside. The other dies nastily as it explodes at head height.
At the front of the stage Baradasi in full Hutt armor slowly turns to greet the newcomer. He laughs in a low base tone and raises his weapon. A large custom Vibroaxe.
Following the Hutt’s laugh a familiar voice comes over the intercom. “I was wondering when you were planning to finally show.” Darth Zabo chuckles. “I was beginning to think you ran away the moment you realized this was a trap.”
A loud crackle follows Zabo’s voice as another transmission hacks into the ships intercom. “This is the Imperial Destroyer Parabellum! To the attacking ships, your piracy attempt is over. Surrender immediately or face the consequences. It’s all over Wild Cards. Surrender now and maybe you can spend the rest of your lives in prison."
Darth Zabo waves from a control booth at the entrance to the amphitheater. “God I love Dent. He is so easy to manipulate. Gentlemen… Let’s end this.”
From each side of the stage around 1v1 five more figures in dark robes step forth drawing and igniting red lightsabers.