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Old 01-02-2006, 04:08 PM   #15
No One Liners
JasraLantill's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Scotland, UK
Posts: 2,389
Current Game: SWOTR
The Walking Carpets Guild Member  Alderaan News Holopics contributor  LFN Staff Member  Roleplayer 
Chapter 5--Part 1

In the Jedi Temple’s hanger bay the Ebon Hawk was being prepped for departure. Carth was lingering by the ramp, supervising the loading of supplies, when he caught sight of Rade Chano examining the underside of the ship’s hull. Rade carried a hydrospanner in his hand. One of the supply droids nudged Carth with a datapad. Without looking, Carth hurriedly entered his approval and went to see what Rade was up to.

Rade had paused underneath a panel and had just removed it when Carth approached him. “Problem?” he asked.

“The maintenance log recorded some power fluctuations in the forward stabiliser circuits during diagnostic testing,” Rade said as he examined the circuits. “They were within tolerance, and it’s probably nothing, but I thought I’d check it out just to be sure.”

“Need any help?”

Rade tweaked a circuit. “Thanks, but I think I can handle it. Has everything been loaded aboard?”

“Just about. But,” Carth added slowly, “we’ll have to leave your swoop bike behind in order to fit everything in the garage.”

Rade sighed with marked disappointment. “Well, I don’t suppose there’ll be a need for any swoop racing where we’re going.” He closed the panel and crossed over to the one on the opposite side. “And how’s Canderous getting along?”

“He’s finished outfitting the cargo hold with the sleeping bays, like you asked,” Carth told Rade. “It’s more than adequate, but I’ve got a feeling that our ‘passengers’ will want something a bit more….”

“Luxurious?” Rade suggested, as he removed the panel’s cover.

“Well, for lack of a better word, yeah,” Carth agreed. “In fact, I doubt either one of them has ever even seen the inside of a freighter, let alone travelled in one. I can tell you, they won’t be happy.”

Rade grinned. “Actually, I was planning on assigning them the port dormitory, while we men take the cargo bay.” He tweaked one of the connecting wires. “But it won’t hurt to let Berland sweat a bit first.”

Carth chuckled. “I assume you have a reason other than personal amusement for not telling him this up front.”

“Personal amusement? Who me?” Rade grinned. “Yes, there’s a reason. If Berland thinks he’s gained a small victory, I was hoping it might cause him to drop his guard a bit. There’s still something he’s not telling us.”

“I sensed that, too. And I’m not even a Jedi.”

“All we can do for the moment is keep an eye on him and the Jantessan Keeper,” said Rade, as he used his spanner to make an adjustment. “See if either one of them act or do anything suspicious.”

Carth frowned. “I know the Sith could be trouble, but the girl? She’s just a kid.”

“I know.” Rade tightened up a bolt. “But innocence can be a powerful shield. Berland holds a lot of influence with her, and we don’t yet know the extent of her powers.”

“Yeah, she wasn’t too specific about them during the meeting, was she,” Carth agreed.

“I’d go as far to say ‘deliberately unspecific.’ And I can tell you from personal experience,” Rade added, gritting his teeth as he tugged on the spanner, “that her little ‘mind probe’ demonstration, brief as it was, was incredibly painful.”

Carth nodded. “I’ll warn everyone to keep an eye on both of them. Well, as soon as you’re done here, we should be ready to board. I’ll go tell the others and then get clearance to depart.”

“Great. And I’ll get the droids when I’m finished here.”

Carth hadn’t been gone a minute when Rade heard a voice say, “My Lord Rev…Rade, I’d like your permission to board.”

Still holding the hydrospanner in position, Rade turned his head to see Berland standing behind him. “Well, we’re not quite ready to depart.”

“So I see,” Berland said, eyeing the hydrospanner protruding from the open panel. “I’ve just come to see if the preparations you’ve made for Keeper Ithra are… adequate for her needs. She is an inexperienced traveller and I want to alleviate anything that could cause her any potential distress.”

Rade raised an eyebrow. “You sure do keep a close eye on her.”

“Since her armed escort is not accompanying her on this journey, the task of her protection has fallen to me. I’m only doing my job, my lo…. Rade.”

Rade eyed Berland dubiously. “I don’t have time to give you a tour myself, but I’ll have someone show you your quarters.”

Berland nodded. “Fair enough.”

Rade clicked his comlink. “Canderous, could you come out to the ramp and escort one of our passengers to their quarters? They’d like to inspect them before we leave.”

“Understood,” Canderous’ voice replied. “I’ll be right there.”

“I’m almost finished here,” Rade said to Berland. “I’ll join you in a few minutes.”

As promised, Canderous led Berland through to what used to be the Ebon Hawk’s cargo bay.

“This is a cargo hold,” Berland stated flatly as he walked inside.

“Yup. Sure is. You know, despite what everyone says, you’re pretty quick for a Sith,” Canderous added.

“*Former* Sith,” Berland corrected him, then frowned as he realised he had just been insulted.

Berland meandered around the hold, newly fitted out with some sleeping bays. “And this is what your captain considers ‘adequate’ accommodation?” He deliberately dragged a gloved finger over one of the fittings, then sneered at the dust collected on his fingertip. “This won’t do at all.”

“Well, it’ll have to,” said Canderous. “’Cause aside from the crew’s quarters, that’s all there is. Unless you’d like to see the storage room.”

With his nose wrinkled in disgust, Berland turned slowly to face the Mandalorian. “May I remind you that Prime Keeper Ithra is a diplomat, a member of the highest caste of her society, and her position demands the highest quality standards?”

Canderous gave him a malicious grin. “Only if I can remind you that this is a freighter, and not some pompous Corellian pleasure cruiser.”

Berland returned Canderous’ insincere smile with one of his own. “You surprise me, Mandalorian. I would never have thought you’d even seen the inside of a civilian ship, save perhaps another garbage scow of the like of this one. But perhaps I’m expecting too much. Mandalorian standards of acceptability are known to be more ignoble and less cultivated than the rest of the Galaxy’s.”

Canderous glared dangerously at him. “Is that the best you can do? Insults?”

“Insults?” Berland feigned innocence. “Why, I was just stating a fact. If you can’t handle the truth….”

“I can ‘handle’ all sorts of things,” Canderous growled, clenching his fists. “Perhaps you’d like a demonstration?”

“Problem?” Rade poked his head through the door.

“Yes,” Berland said, his eyes still locked with the Mandalorian’s. “These so-called quarters you have assigned to myself and Keeper Ithra are barely acceptable for a rancor, let alone a diplomatic envoy. I’ve seen better in the lowest levels of Nar Shaddaa.”

“Well, the Ebon Hawk is more suited to carrying plasteel cargo containers than pampered passengers. I’m sorry, but this is the best I can do.”

“What about your quarters?” Berland asked.

“I don’t have separate quarters,” Rade said. “I share the same conditions as the rest of my crew.”

“Indeed?” Berland said snobbishly. “Even so, surely they would be a more suitable alternative. I mean, look at this place! Visible supports, open grid ducts…. It’s not only drab, but thoroughly depressing!”

“My crew has been through a lot in the past few weeks,” Rade told him. “I can hardly ask them to give up their quarters just to provide you with better decor.”

“I’m not asking for a climate-controlled room with room service and a view,” Berland pressed. “Only for a bit more… privacy. This cargo bay…. It is rather exposed.”

“All the better to keep an eye on you,” Canderous said. “Sith.”

“Ach! This is pointless!” Berland pushed past Canderous and headed for the door. “If you won’t do anything about this,” he said to Rade, “then I will take the matter up with Master Vandar!”

“All right, all right.” Rade held his hands up in surrender. “I suppose,” he started slowly, “that I can move the men from the port dormitory to here. What do you think, Canderous?”

Canderous shrugged. “If it will shut him up, I’m okay with it.”

“There, see?” Rade said demonstratively. “All settled. Now will you please tell your protégé that it is time to board? We’re wasting time here.”

Berland huffed at Rade, but as he pushed past him, he smirked victoriously.

Just as soon as Berland was out of earshot, Rade said, “That went well.”

“Yes, it did,” said Canderous, without a hint of any anger. “Although I really wish you would have waited outside a bit longer just so I could’ve thumped him one.”

Rade grinned. “The mission’s just beginning, Canderous. You may yet get your chance.”

“Good,” Canderous smiled. “Something to look forward to.”

“Right. I’m off to get the droids now. Anything you need?”

“I could use some more chemicals,” said Canderous. “The Jedi don’t seem to believe in stims much. We’re running low.”

“You got it.”

Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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