Swenson's quarters, Steadfast-class Gunship Félicité
, in orbit via Ebrilia
Swenson eyed the intimidating IR-18 blaster rifle. Too big for covert work. Not that a true Jensaarai has need for such weapons...not that I am one yet.
The Metalorn native walked over to the cabin's built-in closet and pulled out a simple wooden box roughly a third of a meter in length. He flipped open the lid to reveal a blade that was either a large knife, or a small sword. He had spent hours forging it during his brief self-imposed exile on Dorumna. It had a simple, unfullered double-edge ultrachrome blade that neatly met a series of elaborate rings formed out of cast cortosis ore that formed an almost rapier-like hilt. Yet the composition and physical form of the weapon itself did not please him as much as the fact that he had been able to imbue some measure of the Force into the weapon itself, like the Je'daii katanas and Sith swords before it. While his weapon was an amateur's work at best compared to such masterpieces, he felt more than comfortable buckling it to his side. He took a simple blue rain poncho and simply draped it over him to conceal its presence and the light body armor he wore. She's waiting for me.
He tapped a button on the comlink, opening the door to reveal Holly Trutzig. She too wore the poncho, but appeared to carry no weapon either. She probably has her naval sidearm, or some other blaster pistol on her. It's a wonder why KDI didn't provide us with any blaster pistols, but I suppose the reason they bought all of this to begin with was to test their designs against those of the competition...does SE even make a blaster pistol?
He shook the thought from his head and walked through the door. Silently, the pair made their way to the aft hangar, where a plain Lambda-class shuttle had remained docked to an airlock. They clamored in, and with Trutzig at the controls, plummeted down towards the surface's planet.
“You know,” mumbled Trutzig, “I didn't think the Council was that messed up...I didn't even think the rumors about the clones had been real.”
“The ones on the holo-news are, I think,” stammered Swenson, “but I'm pretty sure the rumor they started about sending a clone of Mr. Longline with Force abilities after him was more of a misdirection. Might as well make good use of the worse of disclosures...”
“Well, with your lightsaber at your side...”
“I'm not carrying a lightsaber,” announced the man, “not all Jensaarai do...”
She frowned, watching the shuttle's display as they shot through the clouds, “Well, I hope you got something up your sleeve, because I don't trust our contact on this one.”
Swenson scratched his face. Inquiring with Port Authority, Swenson had managed to bribe an official to reveal that Mr. Longline had parked his ship at a landing pad seven days ago, where the ship still remained. Swenson thought the vessel was now likely abandoned, especially given that it was laying in plain sight. The other alternative was that it was a trap or set-up of some sort. As they neared the local spaceport, Swenson leaned forward to peer over the nose the shuttle, trying pick out out the Black-Billed Crawler
among the dozens of ships parked in the circular landing pad. She snickered.
“Good luck with trying to find it like that, we're moving a little too fast, and we're still about a half-klick away from the pad where it supposedly is...but what's the plan?”
“Keep our ship in the air,” decided Swenson, “give me some air support if I need it, or you can follow the Crawler if he tries to escape in it and I can't get onboard.”
“If that's what you want...and...he were are then...good luck...”
Swenson exited the craft before it had even fully touched the ground. Trutzig goosed the craft up yet again far into the clouds beyond his sight. A customs officer came running into the bay, blaster drawn and pointed towards the ship. Seeing Swenson, the man pointed the weapon straight at Swenson, who promptly raised his hands over his head.
“You want to tell me what's going on?” demanded the officer, “that was entirely reckless on your pilot's part. Let's see some ID, and move slowly.”
Swenson slowly withdrew the false identity card supplied to him by CSIS and gingerly dropped into the other man's hand. The officer slowly retreated as he looked at the card. The officer frowned as he scanned it with his datapad and handed it back to the man.
“Well sir, you have already been cleared by customs in orbit, but I'm going to want to do a random full body search of you to make sure you aren't bringing in anything illegal...”Would my blade be considered illegal?
On many outer rim worlds, it would have been barely noticed as a minor anarchronism, but on a world where a dictator maintained an iron grip on his populace, Swenson wasn't so sure. Though he was certain it'd be considered less dangerous than a blaster...I can't risk that chance.
He closed his eyes and felt the air ripple around him; the smell and heat of starship exhaust flowed through his body as he felt the millions of molecules rippling around them. He sensed an tidal wave of air coming from a low-flying starship overhead, and focused it onto the officer; a thick gust of wind caught the man and buffeted the man to the ground. With a grimace, the man landed solidly on his rear. Now that I've delayed him...
Swenson eyed the man's uniform, noting an ID badge dangling by a flimsy clip to his pocket flap. Perfect.
The Metalorn native took another oncoming rustle of air, constricted the molecules into a smaller flow channel, pressurizing the air towards the ID badge; the wind ripped the ID badge off; Swenson focused harder, watching the steady current of wind catch the ID badge and toss it through the landing pad's entrance into the crowded hallways of the star port. Rising up, the customs officer rushed out to retrieve his badge. Swenson wasted no time, and quickly followed in the other man's footsteps before disappearing into the crowd.
In the Past
Lucerne Estate, Kashan
“I would like to get myself a place like this, eventually,” announced Lord Kellington.
Matt shifted his feet at the comment before fussing with the badge of House Lucerne, designed by Corinne while he was on his last voyage out. It was a leaf of the native Autumnglow flower, upon which was set a white eight-pointed star. Kellington now wore his own badge, a white phoenix set on a gray shield edged with red. Lucerne walked over to the holo-projector he had just installed and tapped a few buttons, bringing up a projection of the world as seen from his small fleet of cargo vessels.
“And you're certain you don't want to be by Solace?” questioned the spacer, “there's not going to be much support out there in the boondocks...”
“But that's why I came to you,” replied the aristocrat, turning to face Lucerne and the holo-projector, “because you do run the largest transport ships.”
Matthew pursed his lips. There were two other people who ran transport ships, each with their own house. I doubt Taniss would ever want to deal with Kellington, simply because Taniss is too close to Hiram. And Beauregard only has that small shuttle, which he only uses for personal use, or that of his actual household..
.Lucerne himself ran only two ships, a heavily modified HT-2200 called Estralla
, and a later model Mark I bulk transport named Redwater
. But still, Beauregard is on such good terms with Kellington that something else must be going on...
“What can I do for you then?”
“Two things,” stated the other Alderaanian, “I hear you're the one owns this island, what do you call it? I suppose it doesn't matter, because if you'll let me buy it from you, I'll rename it...”
Matt looked at the island on the holoprojector. I guess I do, it's in the right area...and that's a good several hundred square kilometers..
.Matthew hesitated. The other man's green eyes looked between Lucerne and the planet.
“I hope I'm not being too forward about this all, I'll pay you more than a fair price,” explained the noble, “money is not concern for me...but I thought it might be more of an interest to you. I realize that credits don't hold a lot of people to the rest of Kashan, but as a merchant who continues to interact with the rest of the galaxy, I thought they'd be most attractive to you, at least in terms of what I can offer for the land. I'm afraid I do not have much else that the others would be interested in...and a great house does need land...”
“Credits are fine,” assured Lucerne, waving the other man's concerns away, “but what is the second item?”
The other Alderaanian briefly turned around to look through one of the house's repurposed windows to gaze at the garden that Corinne had produced. Trellises of Autumnglow flowers interwoven with grapes dominated the immediate scene, but a wide variety of the orchard's trees were beginning to blossom as well. Of course...
“You want transport to get supplies for your new land,” guessed the spacer, “logistical support.”
The man nodded, “I realize that I have a reputation among some of your friends that might make this difficult. But on this world, you are literally the only one who can get me all of the things which I require. You have me in a very vulnerable position.”
Lucerne cocked his head to the side, “I am a little curious. Why not Beauregard? Give him the credits, he buys more ships to get the job done then?”
The man pursed his lips, “I only have so many credits for what I want to bring. But in a way, you're right. I probably could just skimp out enough credits to buy Beauregard some ships and bring my stuff back. But that is not the only thing I wish to accomplish, Matt. I want to buy new things as well, such as prefabricated shelters for my new land, all the infrastructure that goes with it, like the plants your wife was lucky enough to have been able to import here. And while that could alone justify my response to you, I'll do you one better. I'll reveal my true intentions to you, but you must promise not to reveal them to anyone else, I assure you right now they are not truly ignoable, but if you feel they would harm people, I would not ask you to keep silent.”
Matthew hesitated, “Very well, I swear by the Force that I will not reveal anything, unless I feel in my judgement that it will harm others.”
“Good,” decided the other man, turning back to Matthew, “because the other reason I'm doing it is to gain your trust, and that of your friends. I mean no ill will towards any of you, and I never have. But I know Lord Tier does, as well as Lord Taniss. I understand their suspicion, but I want a chance to prove myself. I want them to see past that exterior that people so often attribute to me, that of a vain, maniupulative aristocrat who's never done an honest day's work. Because it's not true, nor would you ever think so if you saw me during the war.”The ship he talked about flying so much...
“You were a fighter pilot in the Alderaanian Volunteers,” hypothesized the merchant, “I knew you flew Razors from when I heard you talking at dinner onboard the Estralla...”
Lord Kellington nodded, “I met a lot of people then, many that were heroes. Much more heroic than I ever will be. One of them gave me this, shortly before the war's close.”
Kellington hefted up a long, but thin plasboard box before setting it on Lucerne's dining room table. Matthew studied the box, roughly as large as Kellington's entire torso, looking for any manufacturer's marks or port inspection marks, but there were none. It was entirely inconspicuous to him save for the item's apparent weight. Kellington gently lifted the cover, revealing what appeared to be a very large, silver shield. Matthew looked back up at the other Alderaanian.
“It's a vibroshield,” explained Kellington, “an archaic weapon used by some Separtist supporters on Haruun Kal. You may not know it, but that metal is over thousands of years old, and while it sat around in a jungle for nearly that long, it hasn't gone rusty or decomposed in any matter. In fact, it was strong enough to resist a lightsaber blow, or so the Jedi told me. I heard you had an interest in arcane and exotic technology, and this is the only thing I have that I think may have interest to you. And it is one of the most valuable things to me that I currently have in my possession. I want you to keep it, as a symbol of my trust in you, and hopefully as a symbol of friendship between our two houses.”
Two men held in silence for a few awkward minutes before Matthew cleared his throat.
“I accept your offers, both items anyways, and this generous gift of yours,” announced Lucerne, “but I have to ask, what magical material is this shield made of?”
The other man looked at the Dark Jedi weapon, “The Jedi told me it was made out of Ultrachrome.”