Episode Three – The Art of Crime
Targon and Rick sat in their pilot chairs as they approached the gleaming planet of Corellia. Orbital stations and ships sparkled as they reflected the light of the planet’s sun.
They both felt a peace as they sent in their request to land on the planet. This world was not an Imperial prison – this was the heart of the Republic’s free spirit. While Coruscant and Alderaan struggled with major issues, Corellia appeared calm and prosperous. At least, that’s what it had always been before.
Rick smiled as they were cleared for landing – but they were going to have to wait in line for a little while. There was a larger number of ships coming in than out. That was fine to him, though.
“I suppose we can just listen to some tunes while we wait,” he said as he pressed a few buttons and turned a dial. Music erupted from his speakers and Rick’s head started bobbing to the beat and he started tapping his fingers on the console.
Targon raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you think you have it a little loud?” he asked.
“What?” Rick pretended not to hear. “Are you kidding? I need to crank it up – it would be selfish not to let the other waiting ships enjoy the song while we’re all up here in orbit.”
Shaking his head, Targon stood. “I’m going to go check on Marc,” he shouted over the music.
Rick nodded. “Suit yourself. I’ll take care of things up here.”
Targon left and closed the door behind him. The music was dampened a little, but the beat still echoed through the walls and floor. He made his way through the ship to the medical room, where Greyhawk was sitting up – thrust awake from his rest.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “Is there something wrong with the hyperdrive?”
“No, that’s Rick’s stereo system,” Targon smiled.
“That bass could shake the whole ship apart,” Marc muttered.
“How are you feeling?” Targon asked.
“Well, before I was rudely awoken by this racket, I was resting well. My ribs still hurt, they could still be damaged. But I should be up and ready for the world by tomorrow.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Where are we?”
“Corellia,” Targon replied.
Marc nodded. “Nice planet, it is. A little independent and fake, but it’s a great blend of industry and nature.”
“Fake?” Targon’s eyebrow rose. “What do you mean by fake?”
“Oh, there’s a layer of corruption right below the surface of all the niceness. It was there during my younger years, and I doubt anything has changed since.”
“Care to explain?”
“Not really – crime is rampant on just about every world. But Corellia…it’s not quite up to the standards that the Republic keeps.”
“I was not aware any single planet really was,” Targon said.
Greyhawk sighed. “You may be right about that. Still, I’d wager we’d be at least a little more comfortable here.”
“It’ll be better than Ord Mantell or Calpronica,” Targon nodded.
The old soldier’s face was solemn. “I wouldn’t be too sure of that. Comfortable doesn’t exactly mean enjoyable.”
“I hope your pessimism isn’t justified,” Targon said. “I’d rather we didn’t have another adventure like on Calpronica.”
“Bah,” Marc lied back. “What does Old Greyhawk care? If there’s a fight here, I’ll be ready – and if there’s a party, I’ll be ready for that too.”
“You don’t care however things play out?”
“Nope. When you get to my age, you learn to just take everything when it comes and stop worrying about whether it’s good or bad.”
“Well,” Targon began, “I know some Masters that are far older than you and don’t think that way.”
“When you get to my age, you’ll also be able to form your own opinions on the world and life in general. I’ve had my experience, so I’m entitled to my view. The Jedi Council is welcome to have their own.”
Targon laughed. “The Council probably won’t approve of your ideals rubbing off on me.”
“Hah! They might learn a thing or two,” Greyhawk yawned. “Now, when we land, I think I’ll stay here while you’re out and about. For a while, anyway.”
“Stay here?” Targon was surprised. “Won’t you be bored and vulnerable?”
“I’ll be able to catch up on my sleep and recovery,” Marc smiled as he closed his eyes. “It will actually be quiet with you two gone.”
Targon shook his head. “I don’t like the idea of leaving you here by yourself. While there’s still time, you should let the bacta heal you some more and then you can come with us.”
“Now see here,” Greyhawk opened his eyes. “I’m not in the army anymore, so I don’t take orders, and I’m more than twice your age, so don’t think to boss me around. I’m fully able to make my own decisions without the assistance of a young lad.”
“I’m sorry…I was only…”
Greyhawk laughed. “Come on, lad, I’m teasing you. Mostly. In all seriousness, though, I am entitled to my own decisions as well as my own opinions.”
Targon sighed. “Alright, you win.”
“Don’t worry,” Marc closed his eyes again. “I won’t stay here all the time. Even I’m not that boring. I’ll go out and get fresh air and some sort of diversion while you guys do…what are you going to do?”
“I’m not sure,” Targon shrugged. “My thought was rest up, but I might find some people to help and Rick could probably get a job.”
“A job of gambling?” Marc supposed. “If you’re going to help everyone who needs aid on this world – or any world – you’re going to be here a long time.”
“What else is a Jedi supposed to do?” Targon asked.
“Hmm…” Marc nodded. “That’s a good question. Okay, I guess you’re stuck doing community service.”
“You could help any time you wanted to,” Targon moved to the door.
“I could, but you’re the one who needs the work, not an old man like me.”
Targon smiled and left Greyhawk to his rest. He walked to the main hold and sat down. The captain’s music was still pounding through the metal of the ship, but he had gotten used to it and it wasn’t bothersome anymore.
The thought occurred to him – Greyhawk had a point in asking what exactly they were going to do. Helping people was a broad subject…
Maybe they all just needed a rest. That seemed the most plausible idea, and it was the one he would stick to. Something might come up eventually. And when it did, they would see how things would develop.
Rick was jamming to the music, pounding his fingers on the dashboard as though it was a drum, and nodding his head with intensity. He didn’t hear the beeping on the intercom. Only when he caught the flashing light signal did he realize that someone was hailing him.
Turning down the music, Rick clicked the mic and said, “I’m terribly sorry, I must have dozed off there for a second.”
“This is docking control,” the voice said. “You are cleared for landing in docking bay three, grid nine six.”
“Already?” Rick asked, looking out the window to see the amount of waiting ships had not lessened. “There’s still a line out here.”
“You were moved up the waiting list,” the voice replied. “It would appear someone is anxious to see you.”
“Well, isn’t that nice?” Rick smiled. “Alright, I’ll be coming in.”
He leaned back in the chair and put his hands behind his head. This was turning out to be a good day.
Turning on the ship’s internal intercom, Rick said, “Attention, Targon and Greyhawk, we will be coming in for a landing. I hope you both are ready to go, because we’ll be embarking within the hour.”
Targon walked into the cockpit and asked, “Eager to get everyone off the ship?”
“Well…” Rick turned to face him. “No, but we shouldn’t want to be cooped up in here, now should we?”
“Marc is going to stay and rest on the ship when we land.”
“What? No, I’m not leaving my ship unattended with anyone inside,” Rick shook his head emphatically.
“Are you afraid he’s going to steal it?” Targon asked.
“No…not necessarily,” Rick said. “But…”
“I lost my last ship because I left a man on it alone.”
Rick sighed. “He was a man I had hired to be a crewman, and he asked to be left on my ship when we docked because he wasn’t feeling too well. Then I get back and my ship was gone – and his corpse was lying on the landing pad.”
“Well, I later found out that a gang of thieves – I’m not exactly sure who – knew that there was someone onboard and so they pretended to be me and the man let them in. Then they killed him and stole the ship.”
“That’s a little hard to believe,” Targon raised an eyebrow.
“There are a lot of stories in my life that you would find hard to believe,” Rick shook his head. He suddenly changed his tone and subject. “But anyways, we’re going in for a landing.”
“Landing? Already?” Targon was shocked.
“I know. I’m surprised too. But hey, that’s a stroke of good luck for us, isn’t it?”
Targon was unsure. “I suppose it could be…”
“Oh,” Rick waved his hand. “You’re just over thinking things. It’s probably a friend of mine in the government that noticed I was coming in and wanted to hurry us up.”
“You have friends in the government that abuse their power over the system?” Targon asked.
“Well…I don’t remember anyone on Corellia. Maybe things have changed…I haven’t been here in a while.”
“Are you not bothered at all by this?” Targon asked.
Rick replied, “I take an opportunity whenever I see one – and this, my friend is an opportunity. No getting old while waiting in line. Isn’t that a good thing?”
“It’s not exactly fair,” Targon stated.
“No it’s not, but neither is life. Look, Targon, I’m sure there’s a good reason for this, and we’ll find out once we’re down.”
“You are the captain,” Targon submitted. “What about Marc?”
Rick sighed. “If he wants to rest up and be a boring old coot, there’s nothing I can do or say that will change that. He can stay on the ship, but he’d better not make a mess of things. But if he stays, he has to stay for certain, and only allow me to unlock the ship. I’m not losing my baby again.”
“I see,” Targon nodded. “I’ll tell him he can choose to stay or go, but he has to stick with his decision no matter what. At least until we come back.”
“You’re a good first mate for a beginner,” Rick winked. “Well, the other captains in line might not like it, but here we go…” He turned up the music again.
Deaf to the shouts of annoyance and indignation of the crews of the ships still waiting in the slow line to land, The Lone Eagle made its way through the atmosphere and down to the surface of Corellia. Soon they were flying over the sparkling water, vibrant landscapes, and glistening towers of the planet – appearing a much better and more welcome sight than Calpronica V.
Appearances can be deceiving.