Log:Array Consortium: Breakers of Chains

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Breakers of Chains

OOC Date: December 12, 2017
Location: Outer Rim
Participants: Adhar Gann, Bar'duur, Sion, Asiir Cuul, Mandl, Meep

It's a fun evening on Nar Shaddaa - the crew is bracing for what promises to be a somewhat dangerous night, and Adhar and company are cheerfully polishing rifles, doing weapons checks, and all the good old things you do before a little commerce raiding. The target tonight: elements of the Haskuur Shipping Concern, a perfectly bland and corporate name for a very nasty group of slavers operating in the Outer Rim. Adhar's broken out The List, and they're at the top of it.

As the crew announces stations green, and the ship rumbles to life, Adhar sits in the captain's chair, hands resting lightly on the panels built into the armrests. "Sion," he calls, "Spin up the thrusters and taxi us out."

Bar'duur is pacing a bit, moving from station to station he's checking things over and communicating, occassionally. "Hangar crews, secure stations, prepare for action." He speaks into the comm before looking over and nodding to the captain. He's wearing his black tie fighter suit, the helmet is clipped near the exit aftward.

Meep putters in on his scooter, bringing it to a halt and stowing it properly.. making sure its tied down. He's wearing a little leather flying helmet and goggles, clambering up into his special seat.... a regular chair with a booster seat and straps. He then straps himself in tight, sliding his goggles down over his eyes. "hi!"

Not yet kitted out in battle armor, that being impressively uncomfy while manning a ship's station, Sion nods to Adhar and begins working the controls. "Bringing up repulsorlifts now... main drives online, ready to burn." Under her skillful command, the massive vessel slowly leaves the ground. The hangar doors trundle open, and the Marauder glides easily forward, all ahead dead slow. Once they're clear of the hangar, the nose lifts slightly, the ship rotates to a clear vector, and the main drives kick in with a dull boom that can be heard throughout the ship, making for the Deep Black.

Asiir Cuul is seated at one of the computer and communications terminals on the bridge, his leather gloved fingers tapping away at the controls as he watches streams of data and ship specs float across the display. His helmet rests on the floor beside his chair, and his amber eyes track left to right as he examines the data, looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Mandl Mandls sensors, hunched in his-or-her designated chair. "Traffic minimal: we are cleared to ascend on projected course -- should Mandl watch for anything specific?"

"Nothing now," says Adhar, shaking his head. "We'll be heading into the Thandalla system, out on the Outer Rim not far from Utapau. It's an obscure system - the Separatists used to use it for mining minerals going into starship hulls back during the Clone Wars. Now it's just a bunch of outlaw mining operations out there, picking the what's left of the planets out there for scraps. That's where the slaves get delivered. Sion, when we're clear of orbit, calculate a hyperspace course that will have us exit at the edge of the system."

"You want to launch any scouts or keep it bottled up?" Asks Bar'duur as he makes his way back to the center of the bridge, looking over the various people here doing their jobs.

Meep is just sitting and listening... taking out a candybar and munching... ignoring the wrapper for now, just chewing on the wrapper-clad candy.. tastes like plastic!

Sion nods, frowning at her displays. "Adjusting course now," she replies, and the ship's movement can be felt as it comes to the new course. "Calculating hyperspace jump... this'll be a little tricky." She glances over at Meep. "Hey, fuzzball? That tastes a lot better if you unwrap it first."

The Marauder surges ahead as the Socorran increases power to the engines. Not long now...

Asiir listens to the chatter going on about him, silently filing it away in the background of his mind as he continues monitoring the ship's systems. For now everything seems to be fairly straight forward, not that he had really expected them to be attacked leaving Nar Shaddaa, and it is a fairly boring ride. The Cathar stretches his legs out in front of him, then lifts a hand to scratch at his neck idly.

Mandl pulls its headset off as the crew enters hyperspace. "How long is the jump calculated to be?"

"We'll want to park out there and wait for the shipment to come in," Adhar says, nodding to Bar'duur. "You can go ahead and prep the Deep Hunter for recon just before we get there."

Adhar looks to Sion for her answer to Mandl's question.

"Aye captain." Replies Bar'duur with a nod, waiting around for just long enough to get some more information, after all it wont take too long to get the hunter ready, so he gives himself just a few minutes extra to make his way toward the hangar, grabbing that black tie fighter helmet along the way.

"We've got about ten hours before we'll be there," Sion replies, unstrapping from her seat and stretching with a sigh. "I'd suggest that anybody who can grab some sleep, should. We'll want to be sharp when we get there. No telling how long we'll be waiting for that shipment."

Mandl says, "... would Meep be interested in practicing grammar with Mandl? Mandl's Teek is preschool-level, still. Mandl understands small words only."

Meep doesn't have too too much to do, just looking around. But then there is a call to snooze! He's got this! Meep dips his head down, slumping a bit like a sagging sack of potatoes, chin against his chest as he starts to snooze... Sleep Champion!

"Good calculations," Adhar says to his second officer, brows arched. "Very well done. All right, Sion's correct - hit the rack, get food, rest up and get ready. They might not pop in the moment we get there, but I want us ready for what comes."

And so, time passes. The lot of you do whatever you want, of course, preparing for what's to come - and eventually the magic hour comes around and Adhar rings assembly for the action watch once more. One hour to arrival, Adhar has everyone go through their systems, ensure they're familiar with their stations, and takes special care to have the new gunnery officer, a Twi'lek named Tana Boon, check and double-check the ship's weapons and the slave controls. Which isn't ironic, dammit.

The blue nimbus of hyperspace clears, and then...you rest on the edge of medium-sized star system, right where Adhar asked - at its near edge, where the sun is a bright, thumb-sized point of incandescent blue. This is Thandalla. Thandalla sucks.

"All right," Adhar says from the captain's chair. "Sion, cut the drives, power to minimum. Mandl, key up passive sensors and let me know the moment someone enters the system."

Meep came prepared! Snacks and other sundries! A small bag of popcorn is taken out of his vest, unwrapping it a bit to begin munching on the snack bits, watching all the lights and sounds..... all he needs is a pair of 3d glasses!

"Shutting down drives... now!" Sion replies, throttling down. "I've got the generator working on charging our turbolaser capacitors. Other than that, we're about as interesting to a power scanner as a rock. Reducing shipboard illumination... station-keeping thrusters only... three minutes 'til we go totally dark."

Mandl nods. "No mention of our presence on wide nav-com. Are we going in quiet, or shall Mandl send a false transponder signal?"

"Excellent thinking," Adhar says to Sion, before looking back to the weapons officer. "Tana, what does that give us?"

"On these guns? Maybe two or three salvoes before the capacitators run dry, Captain. It'll take ten minutes or so before the guns are fully charged once we're at full power."

"Understood," Adhar says with a nod. "No, Mandl. We're just going to float here until we catch a hyperspace transition, then creep after them." He hits the comm switch to the fighter bay. "Bar'duur? You down there?"

"Polarizing viewports... preparing to creep," Sion replies. "Thanks, Tana. Maybe stagger-fire the turbolasers so we don't run out in all of them at the same time?" she suggests, as the bridge lights dim. From outside the polarized viewports, no light at all can be seen.

Mandl says, "Scanning all common hyperspace routes for activity. Is there a way to guess which will be used?"

"Best way to come in is the way we've gone," says Adhar. "No hyperspace land ends here. Might try and come in by way of the Elrood sector from the trailing, however, so please keep an eye on that."

Sion gets a smile and a nod from Tana who, though serious about her work, is a fairly easygoing soul. Mind you, she'd already set the guns to stagger, but that's neither here nor there.

"So we just...wait," Adhar says after a moment's silence. More time passes. Just us and the dark.

From the view ports they would see Bar's tie avenger zip out and away from the ship, flying at speeds far beyond what the Marauder could muster the little ship starts making a broad patrol path. They'd be able to track him on scanners, zipping in one direction, then across, a typical pattern one would use when trying to find something on sensors.

Time drags by. And drags by. And drags by...

"~I am slow-ly go-ing cra-zy, one two three four five six /switch/...~" Sion singsongs over the monotonous silence of the passive sensors, drumming her fingers on the console. "~Cra-zy go-ing slow-ly am I, one two three four five six /switch/...~"

Mandl listens intently, peering without bli-- well, *also intently,* straining to catch even the faintest trace of their quarry...

"I could always get a sabacc program installed on the holotable," says Adhar, who gets up to consult the system layout via said table behind the captain's chair. "Might be good for keeping the mind sharp - and the blood up, if there's money involved." He considers the diagram: four small planets, all barren rocks, blasted by the radiation and heat of its vivid blue star. Fun place to vacation.

Meep has a little screen of lights infront of him, a little HUD to keep him.. kinda informed. But really, all the flashy lights and beeps are amusing enough, causing him to chitter-giggle and clap, tapping the screen every so often to set off another series of beeps and warbles.

Bar'duur is still zipping along, a little more to the left and down from the star, compared to their position, and then he's turned to travel the opposite way, across their sensor screens in a different direction while his own scanners continue their sweep. "Nothing so far." He reports back.

"You'd think they'd have shown up by now," Sion murmurs, abandoning her singsong to stand and stretch tautly, wincing as she loosens up hours worth of stiffness. "I mean, we had a pretty good timetable. Maybe they got held up by a bad course?"

Mandl nods. "I have them. Three bogeys inbound at 50 MGLT."

Adhar blinks at Mandl from his side of the table. "Already?" He cuts off the table and heads toward the captain's chair, dropping in and leaning forward. "Sion, start the drives. Plot an intercept course and give me a hard burn at seventy megalights, then cut the drives again. Mandl, transmit sensor data to Bar'duur and preppare for active scan the moment they're within range."

Now he keys the comms toggle for Bar'duur. "Gambler Leader, Gambler Leader, we have three contacts on an incoming trajectory. Prepare to synchronize sensor data and approach with caution. I want eyes on if you can do it without detection."

And so it begins!

"Roger that, Dealer." Comes in over the comms in Bar'duur's voice. There's a pause. "I have them, on approach now, going silent for now." Assumedly, so they wouldnt pick up his communication signal, even if they arent on the channel they might pick up an energy transmission like that. He cuts back his engines and lowers his signature using practiced methods and starts slowly edging around the sensor blips.

"Huh? Oh!" Sion hastily drops back into her seat. Her fingers fly over the controls. She spent hours in the simulator, and here's the first chance to see if it paid off. "Hold on to your shorts, folks. This won't be pretty!"

The lights don't come up, but there's a distant /BOOM/ as the main drives flare to life, the acceleration shoving everyone smart enough to sit down back into their seats like the kick of a Bantha. The Marauder surges forth from hiding, heading for the incoming contacts.

Then the ship goes quiet again, the drives fading out as quickly as they'd fired. "Intercept in progress. Ready to alter course if they do," Sion says in a loud whisper. She's fully in the moment now.

Mandl says, "Is better to jam their transmissions? Or get information for Bar'duur?"

"Depends on if they saw that ion flare," Adhar says. "Keep an eye out for an active scan from one of their ships. We'll know if they see us, because they're gonna run like hell."

Beyond, the star is an angry eye, burning brightly in the dark - but the target ships are too far to be seen. Yet.

"Twenty minutes to intercept... if nothing changes, anyway," Sion reports, still hunched over her controls. "Looks like they've missed us so far... and if we're gonna do this a lot, I'd suggest deployable engine baffles for our next modification."

Mandl's console flashes several angry shades of red. "We have been detected, Captain-- they see us."

Bar'duur is flying around the transports at distance, once he's scooted past them and gained a little distance his voice is heard over the comms. "Two of the transports look different than anything I've seen before. I dont recognize them. They have a whole lot of gun turrets, though. The other one is a yt-2400."

"That's going to be our prize, then," says Adhar. "All right, Sion, full power! Bring us up to their bumpers. Tana, raise shields and get me firing solutions on those escorts, and preprare to fire on my mark. Gambler Leader, hang back until I call and then prepare to confuse the hell out of them. Mandl, get me a focused scan of those ships, tell me what we're dealing with - and comms, scramble their long-range communication and give me an open local channel."

The hunt is on!

"Thanks, Mandl! And on the plus side, now we don't have to worry about keeping our emissions low," Sion says, her fingers dancing a fandango across the control board. The lighs come up, the main drives flare to life, and the deflector screens shimmer into being, wrapping the ship in a barely-visible barrier of energy. "Full throttle, full power, full shields! We're going in!" The Marauder swoops after the fleeing vessels like a swift and deadly bird of prey.

Suddenly finding itself bore down upon by a an armed corvette, the freighters's shields snap into existence, bubbles of force that may or may not be defense against the Marauder's guns. Within, slaver crews scramble to weapons positions and alarms blare, while their captains scramble to get out a mayday - but there is no mayday, because long-range communications channels are filled with static thanks to Asiir's deft fingers. Turrets begin to swivel, and the three ships prepare for a fight.

Now that they're revealed and long-range comms are jammed, Adhar settles back in the chair and keys the comms from his armrest.

"Attention, slaver vessels! You are hereby instructed to heave to, shut down your drives, and your depart your ships in escape pods while leaving your cargo on board - safe and intact. Now come on, fellas, we've got a real firepower advantage here and you know it. Nobody has to die here."

"Kriff you!" comes the reply from the escort vessel to starboard. "The Kangar Claws run from nobody!"

"Ah," says Adhar, and sighs. "Tana, you may fire upon that ship immediately."

Mandl says, "Muurian transports are-- ehm. This may get-- ion cannons. Heavy laser turrets. Forward missiles. Now that you have completed negotiations, Mandl thought to advise. The YT-2400 can be ignored, Mandl suspects, but all the firepower is in those escorts. Captain."

"Less than two minutes to intercept, Captain," Sion reports, still bearing down on those transports. "Kangar Claws? Never heard of 'em."

Bar'duur waits for the command to begin firing, he waits for the marauder to start firing first, keeping ahead of the transports an then he archs around in space and spinks while firing four heavy lasers all at once, this is focused on one transport for a few moments before he changes cours suddenly and a blue object exits the nose of the tie avenger, traveling toward the other transport and impacting with the front of it's shield.

Everything sort of happens at once. Bar'duur's torpedo goes off with the force of a small nuclear missile - which is what it is - and both shockwave and flash send a shudder through the second sentry's hull, momentarily disorienting the crew. The first sentry, the one with the randy mouth, peels off from the slave transport and begins to spew glimmering red light from its dorsal turrets. Sion's piloting is admirable, considering the bulk, but one of the shots land and crackle across the Marauder's ship bubble.

Tana's fingers are light as she direct's the ship's guns upon the attacking transport, but though her computations are sound, whoever's behind the helm on the Muurian is good enough to avoid all of her shots - all except one, which hits the back quarter and drops its aft shields by half.

"Good shot," bellows Adhar, who has cut the circuit when the shooting started. "Gambler Leader, intercept the other transport and blow it to dust. Sion, get a tractor lock on that YT if you can, I don't want it going anywhere."

The alarms, the flashes of light beyond the viewport - they reflect in his dark eyes as he leans forward in his seat, expression intent. He's smiling.

Mandl's hands whack-whack the board, lights flashing permutations of 'NO!' in Aurebesh. Bleep! Blonk! He has picked up Meep's hilarious game where Meep... left off...

"Aye!" Sion snaps, her fingers flying over the panel again. Ahead, the YT-2400 is suddenly surrounded by an invisible but inexorable force, pulling /backwards/. "Yoink!" the Socorran pipes up cheerily.

Turning around, the crew of the first Muurian banks and rolls their ship around the fire from the Bandit's Castle, dodging bright green lances as long as his ship as the gunnery crews pour fire into the corvette's shields. The fore shields shudder and crackle as the generators scramble to keep power to the emitters, and for a moment it looks as though the ship will be able to set up a torpedo run - until a trio of blasts from the Castle's turbolasers intersect at the transport's midsection, collapsing its already savaged shield bubble and shearing it apart in a burst of light and plasma. Tana allows herself a little whoop.

The second transport is cleared from its momentary distraction, and kicks around to aid its fellow only to be met by a hail of torpedo and laser fire from Bar'duur's fighter. While nothing connects, the remaining Muurian has to really work to get itself into a position to meet both threats, which it is not easily equipped to do.

As for the YT-2400, the ship is now caught in the Castle's forward tractors, easily held fast in the graviton beams. It isn't going anywhere.

Somewhere in all of the excitement, apparently Asiir had woken up from his nap. His eyes had gone first out of the forward viewport to see what was going on, and then toward his computer terminal to see what information could be found there. He frowns in thought for a moment, before he begins tapping away at the console, attempting to establish a connection with the enemy transport's computer systems.

Asiir's work must be good, because one of his console monitors read green for connection.

Mandl says, "... shall I transmit terms-of-surrender? A virus?"

"No," says Adhar, blinking in surprise as the ship's viewport lights up with the death glow of the transport. "We've got the transport. Scan it and tell me how many we've got. Tana, Gambler Leader, dust that other ship, and Sion, pull that ship into the bay."

He looks to Asiir. "Asiir, send the slave transport a message. Tell them if they dump their cargo, I will personally reel them in and keep the crew alive in medbay while I cut out their hearts and feed them to them."

"It's coming in now," Sion replies, keeping the big Marauder steady so Tana can keep blasting that remaining transport. The blasts impacting the deflectors are worrisome, but they're holding strong... so far.

The tractors of the warship are more than powerful enough to keep the 2400 from escaping, and still direct it into the main bay. "Boarding party, report to the main bay! This is not a drill! We've got people to save!"

Between Bar'duur's gunnery and the Castle's turbolasers, the remaining transport doesn't have a chance - but it doesn't go down without a fight. As the Muurian weaves and dodges turbolaser shots, Bar'duur's lasers ripple across its front arc, knocking it down by a large margin. Its turrets blaze in his direction, dropping his shields with a well-placed hit but not able to quite land a hit on his hull, and its fixed guns pour more fire into the Castle's shields, dropping them more before it is cut to pieces in a rolling cloud of dust and flame.

However, before it dies, the transport fires two blue streaks from its nose, proton torpedoes which impact the Castle's forward shields. The first one detonates against the particle layer, spending its nuclear force, but the explosion drops the Corvette's foreward shields. The second torpedo makes it in, and detonates somewhere along ventral side of the ship's foreward half. Damage alarms ring everywhere as the ship shudders from the impact, but whatever destruction has been wreaked, the transports are gone, and the prize is hauled on board.

Mandl holds on to its butt! Possibly 'as directed!' Shaken in the bucket-seat, it replies: "Damage ... not substantial. Subsystems going in and out on lower levels, but shields and armor have held. Is mostly electrical, light structural."

The Deep Hunter jostles somewhat as it is struck and it peels away in a spinning arc away from the transport, keeping the aft sheilds facing the transport just before it's take out of the picture, he pulls back around and slows to a coast as energy is transfered from engines to shields to compensate.

"Good." Adhar gets to his feet, heading aft. "Sion, get ready to take us into hyperspace on my order," he calls, "And call Bar'duur back into the bay. Mandl, get sensor reports to Engineering, let them know what they're dealing with. The rest of you are with with me." Into the turbolift he goes, hand on his gun, expression grim and resolute. Like Sion said. Time to save some lives.

The freighter stands on the ship's small flight deck, surrounded by a small mob of armored security troopers. Silent, still gushing waste gases from vents along its dorsal surface, the YT-2400 is a monolith at this range.

Adhar approaches from the turbolift, expression grave, scoped handcannon of a pistol out and in his hand. "What's the situation," he calls to the trooper in charge, a slender Wroonian whose nametag marks him as Banaati.

"No movement inside, Captain," says Banati. "Sensors read all life-signs accounted for. There's no crew, though, just the pilot."

"Then call him out," says Adhar. "I want to see who this shavit-eater is."

Bar'duur didnt know if a freighter of that size could fit in here or not, he's docking afterward, and is able to pass in through one side of the YT, coasting in and sliding into a parking area the Tie powers down and out climbs Bar, sliding to the deck he takes a moment to get himself situated before he heads over toward the troopers and Adhar.

Mandl doesn't skulk behind a line of soldiers as much as it could be triangulating 'where best to stand in case.' Of things. Little to the left, *scoot-scoot.*

Baraati draws a comlink from his belt and, speaking into it, has his voice amplified throughout the docking bay like the voice of God Almighty via a link to the intercom.

<< SLAVER, >> he announces in a fearsome tone, all business (but frightening, as the business is potentially murder.) << COME OUT WITH YOUR CARGO. WE WILL NOT FIRE UPON YOU IF YOU COOPERATE, BUT IF WE MUST BOARD YOU, YOUR LIFE IS FORFEIT. >>

"Good job," Adhar says, brows quirked in appreciation. Baraati gives the Captain a smirking nod.

After a few moments, the port boarding hatch unseals - and, shuffling out in a cowed, frightened line, a number of people - mostly adults, and mostly aliens - shuffle out in a variety of clothes, united only by the thick collars worn about their necks. Those collars all have a control box on their fronts, each with a light which is blinking. Blinking lights are never good.

As some forty sentients shuffle out into the bay, following them is a tall, thin human man with closely cropped black hair and a broad smile that could curdle blood. He's smiling now. Blood could, indeed, be curdled.

"I want to see the captain," he announces.

Bar'duur keeps his distance for the moment, he's still wearing his tie suit, but he checks his blaster and draws it just in case.

Mandl shoots Adhar a glance. A 'this isn't great' glance. Adhar's seen the expressions that follow, too, in moments beside the Bith. 'We need to have a plan startinggg-- nnnnow,' says Mandl's face.

Adhar stares at the man, eyes narrowed. Taking in his face. "Keep your hands up," says the captain, his voice rich with a sudden and angry venom. "I keep my promises," he says, producing from his belt with his free hand a long, wicked-looking knife, which emits a soft humming noise as he holds it up for the man to see. "You make a move, I will cut your heart out."

"And eat it, I believe," the tall slaver says with a smirk. "Yes, I've heard it already. Well, you don't need to worry, Captain...whoever you are. You may be stupid enough to tangle with the Haskuurs and the Kangar Claws, but I'm hardly in any position to get myself killed."

"All right," says Adhar, holstering his pistol but keeping the knife in hand, "Surrender your weapons and we'll take you into custody. You won't die, but you'll see the inside of a Republic prison." Justice! Or maybe just a bounty.

"I think not." The slaver shakes his head. "You won't be taking me alive, Captain, or my ship. Or my cargo, if you decide to go that way - you see, if I die, we all die. I have a deadman's switch in my body. If my vital signs dip below a certain point, then the ship's power core is rigged to explode. As are the collars on my lovely charges, here. You won't be able to undo both."

Adhar frowns. "And why is that?"

The man laughs, putting two fingers to his lips - they come back smeared with blood. "Because," he says, coughing up another dollop of blood upon the deck. "I've already poisoned myself."

Mandl signals the trooper nearest the grinning bastard, best that it be from behind-- but the side will do, if they're pressed for options. Mandl raises his hand, and the indicated guard raises the butt of his rifle! One "sleeping" human bomb, order up! *ding!*

"I wouldn't do that!" The slaver steps back, keeping his hands in the air. "Any trauma could speed my death along faster. I don't have long, Captain. Kytogorgia is a fast-acting poison, and..." He pauses to spit another dollop of blood on the deck. "You don't have enough time to save your ship if you don't let me go now."

A moment's hesitation. "How long have you got?"

"Ten, maybe fifteen minutes," he says. "You can keep the cargo. I keep my ship, and I administer the antidote. You'd better make the decision now, Captain, because I don't have much time to administer it before it's too late. Be a shame if I died close enough to your ship for the signal to reach these lovely people." He looks to the slaves and back to Adhar, grinning now with teeth welling with crimson. "But if I make it to hyperspace, it won't matter at all, will it?"

Adhar looks to his friend, then. "Mandl? Kytogorgia?"

Mandl replies, somewhat grim: "It is possible. Kytogorgia is a mycotoxin, as he says..."

"Yes it is," says the slaver, who grows paler as he smiles at the two of you. "I don't want to die, Captain. But if I have to, I'll take all of you with me."

The conflict in Adhar is palpable. The knife hums in his hand, as if singing to be used, and he stares into the man's bloody face with outright, burning hatred. Then he speaks.

"Go," he spits at the slaver. "If I ever see you again, I /will/ kill you."

"If you ever see me again," the slaver says, "You're welcome to try." He runs up the deck, swaying slightly as he does so.

Mandl nods. "We got what we came for, Captain, did we not?"

Adhar says nothing as the transport's engines come to life, and it lifts off the deck; he watches as it hovers over launch aperture in the ship's belly, wobbling slightly, watches as it descends through the atmopshere shield and vanishes into the space beyond. Whilst the would-be slaves stare at him, as Baanati relays instructions into his comlink to the bridge, Adhar is a statue - until a few more seconds pass, and then he wheels on Mandl.

"I want all the sensor data from that ship," he commands. "Name, registry, captain. And call Onys up here. I want to make sure these people are checked out after we get these gods-be-damned collars off of them."

"She's already cleared hyperspace, Captain," says Baanati. "I can't believe how fast that ship is!"

Mandl nods, businesslike. "... of course, Captain. I'll transfer the logs to your cabin mainframe."

"Good." The blade still vibrates in his hand; he looks down at it, blinking, as if he had forgotten it was there. He deactivates it then, sheathing the blade, and drawing a deep breath turns to the huddled, dumb-struck masses.

"You have nothing to fear," says Adhar, as Baanati's troopers move forward to begin work on removing the collars. "We are not here to kidnap you. If you will leave your names and points of origin with security, we will make sure that you are distributed to your homes as soon as possible. In the meantime, you will be given a medical examination, food, clothing..." He continues to speak, but it is clear that whatever rage he felt for the man he has let go, Adhar has a grim resolution in him now that is projected toward the people you have all saved. To protect them, perhaps, or to see them home. Or perhaps all of it.

Not bad work for a "small-time smuggler" and his crew.