A large ship, with heavy plating and armed to the teeth, landed in a docking bay. There were numerous Imperial guards patrolling each hangar in the port – inspecting every person coming in and going out. Using numbers to display power and exert a sense of intimidation over the people, ten to twelve men awaited the ramp of this ship to lower and the occupants to come out.
Out of the ship came six men – six large and armed Mandalorians. Their helmets concealed their faces. Their armor was green, with red paint splattered over them to represent blood. And on their chests were a uniform black handprint.
The last man emerged and moved past the others to lead them. He was larger than the rest, his armor thicker and his more bristling with weaponry. On one wrist gauntlet was a rocket launcher, on the other was a flamethrower. There was a tattered, blood red cape hanging from his back.
The security detail stopped them. “We’re going to need to check out your passes,” the officer said.
“We got clearance to land, isn’t that enough for you uniform-types?” the lead man asked.
“I don’t like attitude,” the officer frowned.
“And I don’t like primroses. Now, I’ve come a long way so I’ll be brief: which port is the ship The Lone Eagle docked?”
“I’m afraid we do not disclose information or services to those who refuse to cooperate. Furthermore, we have a strict policy that those who do not have official business with the owners of a docked ship are not allowed access to it unless they can prove relations or connections.”
The Mandalorians laughed, their leader loudest of all.
“Did you hear that, boys?” he asked. “This pencil-pusher thinks he can dictate whether or not I have direct business with Rick Orlan and his ship!”
“If you do not stop such disrespect, I will be forced to detain you,” the officer said.
“And if you don’t get out of my way, little man, I will be forced to kill you.”
“Nobody forces you to kill anyone!” one of the Mandalorians said. “Show this shrimp who he’s dealing with!”
“Good idea,” the leader nodded. Pulling out a heavy blaster, he shot the man in the face, and then shot his detail. With smoke rising from their corpses, the man chuckled. “That will teach you to get involved in my business,” he said.
“We still have to find Rick’s ship, Algayne,” one of the Mandalorians said. “And we’ll have to deal with any other security who decide to get in our way.”
Algayne nodded. “No problem there. You boys spoiling for a bit of killing?”
His crew heartily assented.
Targon and his companions waited long enough for a large party of people to come walking by the port security outside. When the crowd blocked the guards’ view, they rushed to wall and hoisted themselves up into a ventilation shaft.
Once in, they crawled slowly through the narrow tunnel, being careful with their wounded soldier. Greyhawk was thankfully disciplined that he did not moan or cry out because of his pain. That most certainly would have echoed through the channel and alerted any guards to their infiltration.
For several minutes they crawled, winding through the massive port. Silently, they passed halls that were occupied by Imperial patrols and cleaning droids.
They paused when they reached another access point, this one leading into a wide hall leading into a series of terminals. There were small crowds spread throughout the area – inattentive guards, janitors and port workers, and crews of vessels either having landed or were waiting for clearance to leave. There was an unsettling silence among them all.
“This is almost too easy,” Rick whispered.
When they felt sure that no guards were looking their way, they opened up the grate and slid through. Apparently, nobody else noticed them either. That was most disturbing of all. It wasn’t as though they had been very sneaky.
“Something feels wrong,” Targon shivered.
“You’re right, this is too easy,” Rick nodded. “Then again, it may just be good luck for once today.”
“Don’t be celebrating just yet,” Greyhawk winced. “Do you hear that?”
“What?” Rick asked. “I don’t hear anything.”
“Neither do I,” Targon said.
“Come on, I’m the old man and your young ears can’t hear that? Maybe it’s just because I’ve been fighting for so many years. It’s blaster fire.”
“What?” Rick scoffed. “If there was shooting going on, we’d know about it. There’d be alarms ringing and people screaming and guards racing…”
“I know shooting when I hear it,” the old soldier growled.
“Marc,” Targon said softly, “Rick has a point. This is a secure area and we’d know if there was a firefight.”
Greyhawk sighed. “I’m telling you, there’re men with guns and they’re shooting people. That way,” he pointed towards a dock.
“Um…that’s the way to my ship,” Rick said slowly. “Are you saying…?”
A blaster was shoved into his backside. “The old man is right, Rick,” the familiar voice of the Kiffar said. “I made some calls and someone came all the way out here to see you in person.”
Targon was about to pull out his lightsaber when he too felt a gun in his side.
“Don’t try anything,” an unfamiliar voice said. “We’ve made sure security is down so there’ll be no authorities interfering. But if you make a scene, people will panic, and many will probably die.”
Rick groaned. “Do we really have to go through this? I mean…”
“Enough talk, Rick,” the Kiffar said. “Algayne’s waiting, and we don’t want to try his patience, now do we?”
With the blasters still shoved into their sides, the three were led to Docking Bay 3B, which Rick knew to be where his ship was docked. There appeared to be no interference from any of the security as they went straight through lines and stations.
Targon was getting a sick feeling in his gut. What kind of person could take control of a spaceport that none of the security – Imperial security – could do anything to oppose him?
The doors opened, and he could suddenly see what sort of man this Algayne was.
Inside the dock, there were six heavily armed Mandalorians. All of them had a uniform appearance with green armor and the mark of a black hand. The head one was quite apparent, leaning against a stack of crates.
“Ah, there’s my pal, Rick,” Algayne stood and walked towards them. His bulk was intimidating, though it was impossible to tell if that was really him or just his suit of armor. Either way, the weapons were real and frightening enough.
Rick couldn’t hide his fear of the man glowering over him, but he nobly tried anyway. However, it failed rather pathetically. “Hello there, Algayne. Nice to see you were good enough to make sure nobody bothered our little…meeting.”
“I always prefer to conduct business in private,” the Mandalorian said. “And these Sith conscripts are so easily intimidated. I hardly had to work at all.”
“How many of them did you kill?” Rick asked, trying to keep the conversation casual.
“Twenty, but that’s not important. What is important is our little deal to settle. You haven’t forgotten the money you stole from me and lost, have you?”
Rick was conscious of the Kiffar that held the blaster in his kidney. “How could I possibly forget?”
“So where is it? And why are you causing my collectors trouble?”
“Trouble? Trouble? I know nothing of trouble…”
“You’re a funny man, Rick,” Algayne leaned in close to his face. “But I’m not. I want my money – and my honor – back restored right now.”
Rick’s mask of forced calmness shattered. “Look, I don’t have the money – but it’s not my fault that it was lost. We were both scammed! We both lost! I was going to pay you back, I had won the amount easily in a game of cards, but it was stolen by Gardogga and his thugs and…”
A huge Mandalorian fist to his face shut him up. “I don’t care about your excuses!” Algayne shouted. “I don’t care for anything about you except my money. Hand it over now, or I will kill you most dishonorably.”
Targon broke in, “He can’t give you what he doesn’t have!”
Algayne didn’t look at him. “Then I guess I just take your life, Rick, and those of your friends.”
Sweat was dripping down Rick’s panicking face. Suddenly, a thought came to him and he screamed, “Spice! Spice!”
The hangar went silent.
“What spice?” Algayne asked.
Rick’s voice was frantic. “On my ship! Spice! A load of spice I was supposed to ship for Gardogga. You can have it! They loaded it onto the ship, and it’s worth at least three times what I owe you!”
There was a long and tense moment of emptiness as Rick’s voice echoed off the walls.
Algayne holstered his gun and patted Rick on the head. “There, that wasn’t so painful, was it?” He pointed to two of his men. “Get the spice off Rick’s ship, and load it onto ours. Boys, let them go.”
With a huge wave of relief, Rick and Targon felt the guns remove themselves from their backs. Algayne’s set to work fulfilling his wishes.
“I guess we’ve taken care of our unpleasant situation,” Algayne said. “The debt of money is repaid, Rick, and you get to keep your life – today. But there’s still the debt of honor you have to deal with.”
“What debt?” Targon asked.
“It’s none of your concern, Jedi,” the Mandalorian pointed his large finger at him.
“It is if you’re threatening my friend,” Targon said. “You have a problem with him, then you have a problem with me.”
Algayne took a step back. “You’re bold, Jedi, I’ll give you that. I highly doubt your ability to offer a worthy challenge, but if you want part of Rick’s debt on your shoulders that is fine with me.” He turned to Rick, whose knees wobbled. “The spice you’ve paid me has bought you a few days of reprieve, Rick, but I will come for you, and you will fight me in a duel on a field of honor. Only to the death will my honor be repaid.”
“What if I don’t see you again?” Rick asked weakly.
“You will, Rick. I’ll hunt you down.”
When the spice was unloaded from Rick’s freighter, the Mandalorians left. The hangar was suddenly filled with emptiness. But the huge sigh from all three men filled the void soon enough.
Rick’s senses had returned to him fully. He turned to Targon, “What are you thinking? Algayne will kill you too, now.”
“You stuck up for me, so I’m sticking up for you,” Targon said.
“We already settled this debt,” Rick pointed.
Targon smiled. “Then I guess you owe me again.”
Greyhawk chuckled at the pair but suddenly winced and dropped to his knees. Rick and Targon struggled to lift him up.
“Quick,” Rick said. “Let’s get him on board and treated. And we can get out of here.”
Rick’s ship, The Lone Eagle, was a relatively nice ship – though a bit battered and in need of a new paint job – and obviously a smuggling vessel, or former smuggling vessel. It had a large cargo hold, a main hold with an old gaming table, a medical room, two bunkrooms, and a single room with a large and comfy bed. Rick pointed out to his guests that the bedroom was for the captain only.
Targon took care of getting Greyhawk treated and put into the bacta tank. Meanwhile, Rick went up to the cluttered cockpit full of papers and pastry wrappers. He started up the engines and smiled fondly as they purred to life.
“She missed me,” Rick grinned. Rubbing the dashboard he said, “I missed you too, baby.”
As he started taking off, Targon entered the cockpit.
“Well, my Jedi friend,” Rick reclined in the pilot seat. “Welcome aboard The Lone Eagle. Please take a seat,” he gestured to the co-pilot chair. “You are, after all, going to be my first mate.”
“First mate?” Targon raised an eyebrow.
“Of course. You got somewhere else to be?” Rick asked.
“For the moment, no,” Targon replied.
“Well then, take a seat.”
Targon sat, and was surprised how comfortable the chair was. He wasn’t expecting such luxury in a smuggler’s ship.
They started leaving the planet’s atmosphere. Targon took a look back to catch a brief glimpse of Calpronica before they left. He turned around earlier than he would have liked when a voice came over the speakers.
“Departing vessel, this is Imperial Orbital Control,” the voice said. “Transmit your departure codes now or you will be fired upon.”
Rick stuck out his lower lip. “Departure codes?” he muttered. “I don’t think I got any…”
“Well, you’d better think of something,” Targon said.
“Any ideas?” Rick asked.
“You’re the captain.”
Rick growled. “I can’t tell you how annoying it is when someone says that…”
The ship rocked as a laser blast struck the shields. “I say again,” the control voice said, “transmit your departure codes or you will be destroyed.”
“Not much for being decent,” Rick shrugged. “I’m probably going to regret this…” He then breathed deep and got on the intercom. “Please, please don’t shoot us!” he cried in a weak and helpless tone. “Please! Mandalorians attacked the spaceport, they were killing everybody. They…they took out the control tower and stopped anyone from sounding an alarm. We were just barely able to escape!”
“What was that? Please repeat,” the voice ordered.
“Mandalorians! They’re killing everyone down there!”
There was silence on the line for a long while.
“I don’t think they’re going to buy it,” Targon said softly.
“Hold on,” Rick made a motion with his hand. “These are Imperials…they’re a little slow.”
The voice came over the intercom again. Hold position while we ascertain the validity of your claim.”
Rick nodded. “See?”
“What are you talking about?” Targon asked. “That doesn’t mean they bought it.”
“No, but that’s not the point” Rick winked.
He pushed hard on the throttle, and the full power of the engines roared. They zoomed past the guarding ships even as their late reactionary laser fire started erupting from their cannons. Rick had a set of hyperspace coordinates already in the navicomputer and he shot them into hyperspace. Stars turned to lines and then erupted into the blue mottled swirls of faster-than-light speed.
“Ha-ha!” Rick laughed. “See? We’re home free now!”
Targon gasped. He had really done it – Rick had gotten them through the orbital security without a scratch. It was incredible, and Targon started to put away all thoughts in his mind that he had come to Calpronica V for the very reason of meeting Mr. Rick Orlan.
Algayne tapped his feet impatiently as his men were loading up the crates of spice onto their ship. It was taking a lot longer than he liked. He wanted to get off this worthless planet as soon as possible. Before the Imperials started poking around and asking questions about things that didn’t concern them.
Finally, the last canister was being taken up the ramp. That was when Algayne heard a great many footsteps from behind.
Into the hangar marched what he thought was a full battalion of Imperial troops. All of them had their rifles at the ready, pointed at the group of Mandalorians. A vicious scowl curled on his lips.
“What is the meaning of this?” he demanded from the officer that approached.
“You are under arrest, Mandalorian, for the invasion of a public spaceport and for the possession of illegal substances.” The officer had a couple guards check the canister to be sure.
“This is outrageous! Do you have any idea who I am?” He snarled at the scrawny man.
“I know that you are easily outnumbered and outmatched,” the commander said in a confident tone. “Submit quietly and you won’t have to be gunned down.”
Algayne removed his helmet, glared at the man straight in the eye and spat at him. “I will make you pay for this,” he growled menacingly.
“Arrest this man,” the officer commanded his troops. They did so, and Algayne reluctantly was forced to surrender.
“Rick…you son of a murglak,” he bared his teeth as the cuffs were put on his wrists. “I’ll hunt you down and gut you like an animal!”
The rest of his men were put in cuffs as well and carried off out of the spaceport. The troops surrounded the lot completely, both to block the witnesses from getting a clear view of the Mandalorians, and to ensure the detainees knew who was really in charge on this planet.