From the desk of Captain E.M. Greyviper, Ret.
BEGIN AUDIO LOG
Escape From Servitude:
Major Beller, the droid better get finished with that entry hatch. Every second we’re on this rock is another second we’re likely to end up at the bottom of the swamp, covered in blaster burns, courtesy of the Black Sun or the Emperor knows who else.
This is Edmund Merriweather Greyviper, former Captain of the Imperial Navy. Things have gone somewhat tits up, as the saying goes. As it turns out, the Verpine decided to take me up on that whole duel to the death thing over the ship, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
So, in the fallout of the Black Sun shootout, I was prepared to leave, but others wanted to get the ship repaired first, even though we could have just as easily gotten the repairs completed on Corellia, or any other world not crawling with organized crime syndicates that want to blast us into char. I had raised this objection, but was universally overruled. At this point I had yet again reached such a point that even the Finest could not pull me from my state, so tossed my flask aside. Awaiting my death at the hand of a menagerie of multi-species criminal assassins, I sat in the cockpit of the Invincible III, flicking the sub-light engines on and off.
During one of the lulls, I heard some commotion outside. Presuming it was our inevitable death, I tromped out onto the twisted ship ramp and saw something at the entry to the landing pad. Of course, we hadn’t cleaned up the blasted merc corpse in the entryway, so I ended up with it all over my feet again. At I let this latest defeat sink through the wet skin of my feet into my bones, I pulled my electrobinocs from my belt and took a closer look.
So, Captain’s Log. Can you guess what it was at the entryway to the platform? Sure you can. It was corpses…because of course it was corpses. Secure in the knowledge of imminent death, I stomped on over, leaving my bloody, sticky footprints across the platform’s deck, as Danhanka followed as backup…or perhaps just to observe whatever my fate would be. As it turned out, they had all been killed by a Verpine shatter gun, which I have by now become quite familiar with, having seen them used by an enemy, an ally of convenience and a crewmate (the first two being the mercenary, Lira Finn, and the latter being Sparky). I hailed Sparky and Saffron to inquire as to his seemingly murderous rampage and, having been securing ship parts far from the pad, professed his innocence. That left only one reasonable option, which was confirmed when the two of them arrived shortly thereafter. Saffron was holding aloft a pair of boots, presumably for me, when one was shot from her hand.
Now, initially, I had suspected Saffron of orchestrating this as an act of comic revenge. The mere accusation send Danhanka into laughter enough to nearly break his heavily bruised ribs. Truth be told, none of us really reacted to the gunfire except for the Verpine, who cowered behind the ship parts. I had seen this play before, if we were intended targets, we would be dead. Saffron took the same attitude and Danhanka just laughed and took to pushing the cart full of materials to the ship. The droid…Infomate?…was…still on the ship maybe? I don’t know, whatever it is droids do. Strike that part, nobody cares about the droid. Or, unstrike it, I’ll edit this later.
As it turned out, it was Lira Finn. She jetted onto the landing pad and made herself known.
So, here things got FUNNY. Now, I had always assumed Finn to be a capable warrior and shrewd person…for a woman. Despite her insufferable earnestness, I had always held a begrudging respect for her. Little did I know how misplaced that respect was. Apparently she had come to us because she was concerned about the fate of her home world, Mandalore, after Zann had goaded her people into open rebellion. Apparently he had giving them the “perfect” opportunity to exploit the situation we had created months before when we destroyed much of the Imperial garrison.
Once I had stopped laughing, I politely explained that her people were just as much cat’s paws as we had been and that Zann was most likely luring them into revolt so that the Empire would have to redirect forces to crush them, thereby leaving some other tangentially related target undefended for him to exploit and profit from.
At this point, she offered a quarter million credits, with 50k up front, to help her find information as to his plans.
Again, after I stopped laughing, I set about convincing my compatriots that this was utter folly, given that Zann had been many steps ahead of foes much more capable than ourselves and had explicitly bested us in terms of understanding his goals, as our entire mission to Mandalore was entirely obscured to us until moments before we arrived and, even then, was shrouded in mystery. More over, the last criminal syndicate we had tried to deal with…entirely fairly even…had just tried to brutally murder us not hours before. My argument was that even though my life was no longer worth that much, that I presumed everyone else valued their lives more than the credits she was offering, but apparently that fell on deaf ears.
As the crew devolved from discussion of “should we take this terrible suicide mission” to “how can we do this terrible suicide mission,” I said my final piece that I hoped Finn was okay with us dropping cred on her as soon as Zann discovered her plan (which would be instantly), because that was by all accounts I could muster, the most likely conclusion. She made some threats or something, I hadn’t really been paying attention to it because I already knew what she had to offer, a slut to the skull, which was likely much less painful than whatever my imagination could conjure Zann’s alternative to be.
The crew continued not to listen to reason, so I boarded the ship and fired up the engines.
Now, I suppose I should set the scene. Danhanka had already given up and determined to get some sleep and then wake to whatever grim work was before him, so he had already retired to his quarters on the Invincible III. The Verpine and the droid were repairing the hatch through most of this. Saffron was still engaging Finn in conversation.
As soon as I fired up the engines, the Verpine stalked into the cockpit after me. Knowing this would come and preparing to meet my death, I was ready for him. I had locked down the door with a shot to the controls. He did the same on his side, opening the door, which gave me a prime opportunity to open fire. I had set it to stun, out of misplaced mercy if nothing else, as this was the second mutiny against me. I only winged him, dazing him insufficiently and he responded by throwing a net…A BLOODY NET?!? Truly, what possessed him? A bloody net. Anyway, mutual combat was had, grenades, blaster fire and my withering intimidation. I forced him to retreat from the cockpit.
Once again in charge of the ship and finally freed from that ridiculous, preposterous net, I completed takeoff. I gave the Verpine a final opportunity to flee and survive his betrayal, banking the ship over a nearby rooftop so he could leap out. When he refused, I roused Danhanka on the comms and assured him that once he rousted the errant Verpine, we would make haste to a hospital to get his grevious wounds looked at. Apparently this was enough, because Danhanka began his hunt.
Before he could locate the Verpine, Saffron hailed me in an insane attempt to convince me to land, which was already part of my plan once I ran off the mutineer. Much talk was made, but ultimately it ended in one final offer to the Verpine to depart the ship. He refused and revealed his hiding place…one of the Invincible III’s escape pods. As soon as he punched out, his mutiny had gone into outright theft and sabotage, so I banked the ship into him and sent him hurtling, hopefully, to his doom in the swamp far below the city.
And so we come to the end of things. Saffron is free to follow whatever mad quest she sees fit to earn credits to care for her sister. Danhanka is free of a life of brutal mercenary work. The droid has a chance to be a full member of a crew, I suppose. (Note to self: I guess I’ll have to call him by his name. That’ll be hard, but I’ve had to make due with worse. If I can pretend to be a brainless rebel, I can tolerate a crazy world where droids are people.) I’ll drop Ensign…
Major? What the hell was his rank? Yes, most certainly. Major.
Drop Major Beller off wherever he wants to go, although if he sticks around I might see what I can do about reaching out to the few contacts I have left to get his record expunged and get him reinstated. At least someone can come out of this not stinking of shit. Speaking of which, the Verpine is likely trapped beneath dozens or hundreds of feet of fetid and highly polluted swamp water, free to die of asphyxiation, dehydration or drowning. Honestly, any is suitable to a serial mutineer.
I may not be much. I’m not an Imperial. I’m not a captain. I’m not a rebel. I’m not a crime lord. I’m not even a smuggler.
But I am a survivor, and that chittering bugman should’ve recognized that.
END AUDIO LOG