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Old 02-05-2006, 12:09 PM   #40
JasraLantill
No One Liners
 
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Scotland, UK
Posts: 2,387
Current Game: SWOTR
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Chapter 8--part 1

((Sorry it's been a while since I've posted a chapter. Had a little 'sequencing' problem to work out, but it's resolved now and things are moving once again!))
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Chapter 8--part 1


“What?! Aw, you can’t be serious!” Carth complained to the droid stationed by the heavily secured exit from the Jantessan ‘visitor lounge’ back to the hanger bay. “We just want to board our ship!”

“I’m sorry, sir,” said the protocol droid, in a most irritatingly pleasant female voice. “A Class Six control pass is required for any visitor wishing to depart the visitor’s lounge.”

Upon their arrival, the crew of the Ebon Hawk had been relieved of all of their weapons and escorted by Berland and Ithra to the visitor’s lounge area where they were to remain until Rade had completed his meeting with Prefect Keel. Berland had explained that they were “absolutely not under any type of house arrest” and had insisted that the security cameras and various droids were merely stationed at the exits in order to prevent any ‘unauthorised contacts’ between the Jantessans who worked in the facility and any visiting ‘outlanders’. All of their needs—food, rest, entertainment—would be seen to, provided that they stayed put.

To Berland’s chagrin, Rade had taken Ithra’s advice in selecting Bastila as an arbiter to accompany him to his meeting with the Prefect. Berland had been visibly irritated by Rade’s knowledge of the law, but then he had smirked and suggested that Rade also bring HK along. Rade had agreed, and so the five of them had left to go to the Prefect’s office.

The Jantessans were certainly very generous to their visitors, even if they couldn’t stand to be in the same room with them. Not a single Jantessan was in sight, except for the permanent and annoying holovid newscaster on the terminal in the far corner of the room.

All of the visitors’ needs were tended to by droids. And they were everywhere—security droids, protocol droids, serving droids, utility droids, and an entire fleet of cleaning droids that kept the facility clean to the point of being sterile. Entertainment was varied—there were pazaak tables and gaming terminals, a recreation facility with a swimming pool, an excellent restaurant, luxury sleeping quarters, even a cantina with a holovid Bith band with T’wilek dancers. Yes, despite what they called it, the Jantessans’ had gilded their visitor’s cage quite nicely. There were other ‘outlanders’ there, too—traders mostly—and the crew of the Ebon Hawk made no protest to stay and relax for a while.

Yet three hours later, Rade and Bastila had not returned. Carth was beginning to worry. He and the rest of the crew thought it might be a good idea to try and contact them from the Ebon Hawk through their com links, under the guise of wanting to check out any damage that had occurred when they had landed. So, far they weren’t having much success.

“Okay…so how do we get a Class Six control pass?” Carth asked.

“Applications for Class Six control passes can be submitted to the administrative assistant at the Departures Office on the first and last days of the week between the hours of ten and twelve or between sixteen hundred and eighteen hundred hours, and on the second and fourth rest days between the hours of five and seven or fourteen hundred and sixteen hundred hours, with the exception of State recognised holidays, to include Meering Day observance week, State in-service days, State training days, Prefectory elections,…”

Carth closed his eyes and sighed as the droid rambled on for another full minute.

“Fine. Is the Departures Office open now to submit an application?” Canderous intervened.

The droid paused for a brief moment while it calculated. “Why, yes, sir. At the moment, it is open.”

Carth brightened as he caught Canderous’ train of thought. “Good,” Carth said. “I’d like to submit an application.”

“Very well, sir,” said the droid. “Forms may be obtained from the Permits Office every other day between the hours of….”

Carth’s head drooped. “Just tell me how to get to damned Permits Office!” he interrupted.

“Certainly, sir. Proceed through these doors, then down the corridor, take the second right, down the hall through the double doors, then take the first left, up the stairs, proceed through the atrium, and you will find the Permits Office located at the end of the corridor marked ‘A’.”

“Thank you,” said Carth.

“Great,” Canderous added. They both started for the door.

The droids arm shot out, blocking Carth’s way. “Please present your Class Six control pass for verification and access.”

“I’m just going to the Permits Office to get one,” said Carth.

“You just gave us directions, remember?” said Canderous.

“Yes, sir. I do recall giving you directions. Would you like them repeated?”

“No, I don’t want them repeated!” Canderous forcibly attempted to go around the droid.

Carth stopped him by grabbing his arm. Over in the far corner, a laser turret moved, pointing its barrel at him. Carth nodded in its direction.

“Erm…Carth?” Mission interrupted. She pointed to the turret.

“Yeah, we see it Mission,” Carth said, still holding back Canderous. “Is there another way to get to the Permits Office from this location?” Carth asked the droid.

“No, sir,” the droid replied. “There are no alternative access points to the Permits Office from your present location.”

“Okay, let me get this straight,” Carth said, after a heavy sigh of irritation. “You’re not going to let us through this door without a Class Six pass.”

“That is correct, sir.”

“And we can’t get an application to apply for a Class Six pass unless we go through this door?” asked Canderous.

“That is correct, sir.”

There was the sound of heavy laughter from behind them. “First visit to Jantessa? Frustrating, ain’t it?” said a gruff voice.

Carth turned to see a burly, scruffy looking man leaning cockily against the wall a few metres away from where he and the rest of the crew stood. He had a scraggly dark beard, streaked here and there with grey, and close set dark eyes framed by equally scraggly brows. His shirt was clean, and although it was so faded that its original colour was hard to determine, Carth didn’t figure the man to be the type that would have chosen ‘mauve’ on his own accord. His outfit was completed by a pair of well-worn leather trousers, tucked into equally worn and scuffed up leather boots, and topped off with a Krayt dragon hide jacket that looked like it had seen more hard times than the current wearer had.

“Name’s Krex,” the man introduced himself, as he approached holding out a grubby nail-bitten hand. “Gilt Krex. I run the Shadow Chaser out of Deralia, and a few other non-descript ports here and there.”

Carth eyed him over, and then exchanged a long look with Canderous. “Carth,” he said, finally shaking the man’s hand. “And this is Canderous, Jolee, Juhani, Mission, and….”

“Zalbaar,” said Krex, nodding. “Heard of him already.” He looked at the Wookiee with deep admiration. “You’re the talk of the complex, big fella!”

Zalbaar uttered an inquiring grunt.

“Oh, no! Not bad at all!” Krex answered, apparently understanding Wookiee. “It’s just that not many people have ever seen a Wookiee in these parts. ‘Ceptin me, maybe. Then again, I tend to circulate in bigger circles, if you catch my meanin.’” He tapped a finger along side his nose.

“A smuggler, eh?” Canderous grinned reminiscently. “Shadow Chaser. Now I remember you. You were the one who ran through our blockade when we were last here.”

Krex grinned widely. “Why, I didn’t know I was so famous! Imagine that. Me. Gilt Krex. Known by name among the Mandalorians.” He paused in consideration. “I’ll have to add that to my résumé.” He snuffled, then wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “So, what are you in for?”

“In for?” Carth frowned. “You sound like you’re saying we’re in a….”

“Prison?” Krex looked over his shoulder, and lowered his voice. “Hey, if you don’t have a Class Six pass, that’s exactly what it is. Very nice though, as far as prisons go.” He paused. “Erm…so I’m told,” he added, with a sly grin.

“We’re just waiting for our friends,” Mission blurted. “They’re meeting with a Prefect.”

“Not Keel, I hope,” Krex said, guardedly. “He’s a right…” He paused, noticing the sudden look of worry on Mission’s face. “Ah. So it is Keel. Sorry ‘bout that, miss. I mean, sorry for your friends.”

“Sorry? What do you mean by that, exactly,” Carth asked. Already this guy was making his skin crawl. Jolee and Juhani had been rather quiet, and if his skin was crawling, Carth supposed that their ‘Jedi Sense’ had to be at least tingling with the same sort of wariness.

“’Xactly? Well, I ain’t much for ‘’xactlys.’ But I can tell you that he and his lackey Berland, are as sneaky as an Ichtorian Attack Stohl wrapped around a rich Corellian lady’s neck.”

“You know Berland?” said Carth.

Krex snorted. “Know him? Heck, I worked for him for a while! Erm…a brief while, granted. That Sith’s too slimy for even my tastes. In fact, I suspect he’s the reason why my Class Six pass is no longer ‘valid.’ A ‘glitch’ in the system, so I’ve been told. Should be resolved in, oh, I don’t know, six months or so,” he sneered. “Yeah, a real smooth ‘glitch’ that Berland is.”

“So, why does Berland not want you to leave?” Juhani asked. “I was under the impression that the Jantessans do not care for ‘outlanders’.”

Krex snorted with amusement. “’Don’t care for?’ My aren’t you the polite one!” He let out a chuckle. “They downright despise us. ‘Ceptin,’ of course, for Berland. They seem to like him and his apprentice a great deal.”

“Apprentice? You mean Ithra?” Jolee asked, suddenly interested.

“Ithra? Nah! She’s a Prime Keeper, in case you didn’t notice.” He nodded over to the holovid newscaster in the corner. Ithra’s picture was being shown as an insert as the newscaster reported her safe return to Jantessa. “Nah. I was talking about….” Krex suddenly paused, and a glint twinkled in his beady eyes. “Say,” he said conspiratorially, “maybe you and me can like help each other out, you know? If you can somehow finagle me a valid Class Six so I can get out of here, I’ll tell you who Berland’s apprentice is. I know a lot about what goes on here on Jantessa.” Again, he laid a finger on the side of his nose. “You could say eavesdropping is a little hobby of mine.”

Mission was about to blurt something again, but Carth cautioned her just in time by holding up his hand. “Maybe. We’ll think about it, okay? Right now, we’re just worried about our friends.”

Krex held up his hands in surrender. “All right, all right,” he said. “I can tell when I’m not wanted.” He turned to leave. “But I’ve been trading here for, oh, let’s see…too many years for me to count. If’n you ever need information about something, anything, just come see me and we’ll work something out. I’m usually at the gaming tables on Level Four. That’s where most of us ‘real’ folk hang out. Less security cameras down there.” He grinned broadly. “Or so I am told.”

As the group watched Krex leave, Jolee said, “Well, that was interesting.”

“Oh, so you thought he was lying, too, huh?” said Carth.

“No,” said Jolee. “In fact, just the opposite. I think he could be a great help to us.”

“I also felt that he was being truthful,” said Juhani. “Perhaps, we should consider helping him. His knowledge of Jantessa might be of use to us in finding the relic.”

“I agree,” said Canderous. “He’s a smuggler, granted, but he must have some credit with the locals, or he wouldn’t be allowed here in the first place. I wouldn’t write him off just yet.”

“Okay,” Carth conceded. “Let’s split up and see what we can find out about this place. We’ve got T3. Maybe we can find someway to forge one of those passes.” He checked his chronometer. “Let’s meet back here in an hour. With any luck, we might be able to get out of here and find out what happened to Rade and Bastila.”

And inside, Carth hoped that Rade and Bastila were faring better than they were.


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