Chapter 18 Collision course



Ceecee had set the ships coordinates Regus Mortella. The planet was run by Rollo the Hutt. Ceecee wasn’t afraid because her friend Venis Vey was in tight with Guppa the Hutt, Rollo’s boss. Rollo had taken over hundreds of years ago with Guppa’s help but even after all those years Guppa still held control.
The ship was quiet. Ceecee was on watch and at the controls in the cockpit. These were some of her favorite times. She was all alone just watching the lights race past the ship as it slipped through hyper space. She had installed a huge over stuffed chair at the pilots position just for these times. Once she had set the controls to their destination the ship would fly itself. This is when she would curl up in the huge chair and read her tech journals or just enjoy the view.
“That number two reactor is making a funny noise, I’m going to have a look at it.” Granic scared her half to death as he walked into the cockpit.
“No Granic, I have everything set just right so don’t play with anything damn it.” Ceecee said in no uncertain terms. “Why can’t you just leave well enough alone?”
“You humans don’t have the sensitive hearing like us Reptus, I can hear things you can’t.” Granic said pressing his point.
“You can’t hear me when I say no so why would I believe you hear anything better than us?” Ceecee snapped.
“Typical Human response.” Granic said. “ The non-human doesn’t know what he’s doing.” he said mimicking her voice as well as he could.
“You’re not going to bait me into a race argument. Just don’t touch anything on my ship damn you.” Ceecee said trying to control her anger.
“We should have took my ship anyway .We would have been there by now.” he said as he stormed of down the hall.
Granic didn’t like most other races. The Empire just made him harder to be around with their anti-alien rhetoric . To him they represented how most humans think about other races.
“If we took that death trap we’d all be fried to a crisp!” Ceecee yelled as he disappeared around the corner. Granic had removed most of the reactor shielding in a effort to increase speed. It had worked but the amount of radiation that leaked would kill most people not Reptus or one of the sturdier races.

Matt was sitting at the table watching Pep. She turned and looked back at him suddenly as if she had sensed his eyes on her. She was the best looking woman in the bar. She smiled at Matt. He had a bad feeling about this whole deal but they had little choice. He was a man of action by nature and not suited for this kind of thing. He could blow it up or kill it if you put it in his sights but he didn’t even need his gun on this mission.
Pep returned to the table with their drinks. Matt looked over his shoulder at Bronski. Bronski was to be their back up this night. At least that was going right. Bronski watching your back was like having an army right behind you. He may be the worst person you could ever meet but there was no one better to be watching over you.
“Shouldn’t she have been here by now?” Pep asked Matt.
“She should have been here a long time ago.” Matt said as he scanned the room.
Then he saw her, it was Kashkara Drutta. She was a prominent Feloid raider. Her fleet was one of the few that would on occasion attack non-Feloid shipping.       Not all the clans followed the rules laid down so long ago that governed such things. Her clan was one of the smaller non-aligned ones. They did what they did to survive.                                                                                                              Kashkara was over six feet tall with an athlete’s build. Her hair was combed back and up with long feathers in it giving her a very tribal appearance. The clothing she wore was made from animal hides and trimmed in fur but in a way that didn’t look primitive but did suggest her untamed nature. She was followed by two equally interesting female officers that also dressed similarly. Trailing behind was a catgirl carrying a large box.
“Get a load of this shit.” Bronski whispered to Matt as he saw them coming closer.

Matt stood up which caused Kashkara and her guard to freeze and go for their side arms.
Pep jumped between the two parties.” Wait Mistress, he means you no harm, he is here to treat with my Ladyship.” Pep said bowing.
Matt was glad he had brought Pep. This could have gone poorly if she hadn’t jumped in.
“ My apologies Lady Kashkara. I meant no harm.” Matt said acting as diplomatic as he could.
“It is good your slave was here, she should not be beaten for her actions.” Kashkara said. She had a thick Feloid accent that made it difficult to understand her exact meaning.
“I am Matt Mazin, I am the one you are to deal with.”
“You are the Matt Mazin, I am Kashkara, I am to be dealing with you.” she said. She stood very rigid and crossed her arms. “I have my two warriors for you to not be doing human tricks too us. You deal honest with us or trouble will be with you.”
“ I will be honest with you. We want to be friends with your great clan. We hear you do not like the Empire. We do not like the Empire.” Matt was trying to keep his words simple and easy for them to understand. He didn’t think they were stupid, far from it. He wanted them to feel he was trying to be co-operative.
“We can be friends if you have money for the thing we have taken from Empire’s  ship.” Kashkara said something in one of the Feloid dialects and her catgirl ran forward with the box.
“We have taken this from the white shells (stormtroopers) in our last raid. They do not know how to fight as good as we.” Kashkara looked over her shoulder at he guards and smiled.
T he catgirl placed the box on the table and went back to her place behind the three warriors. Kashkara had one of the others open the box. Inside was a small black sphere about the size of  a fist. Matt recognized it as a droid memory storage sphere. There was a data entry and retrieval port on the bottom.
“We’ll take it.” Matt said smiling. Matt turned to Bronski as he threw him a satchel. Matt handed it to Kashkara. She took the case and looked inside and smiled. Everyone was smiling.

Kang was eating his morning meal of raw meat and a milky like drink that smelled of flowers or old fruit. Venis Vey had walked in the mess hall just in time to see Kang tear off a piece of the meat with his powerful jaws. She cringed at the sight of the arm sized piece being chewed and swallowed. Kang often forgot just how naturally imposing he was to the average human.
“What’cha eating there Kang?” Venis asked trying not to look too disgusted.
“ Nothing special, just a piece of boiled Nerf.” he said smiling. He often forgot how imposing his smile was to the average human. His teeth were as big as a large mans thumb and he had twenty eight per side.
Venis wasn’t expecting anyone else to be up at this hour so she was only wearing a long sleeveless shirt that left little to the imagination. Luckily for her Reptus and humans were not attracted to each other physically. Venis had a natural way of driving most men wild with desire but to Kang and any other Reptus her beauty had no effect on them at all.
“My shift starts in an hour so I thought I’d get a bite to eat before I took a shower.” she said rubbing her eyes and yawning.
“ I heard Granic and Ceecee arguing earlier.” Kang laughed and shook his head.
“That’s what happens when you put two engineers in a small place. They can never agree how something should be made to work.” Venis crossed her arms on top of the table and laid her head on them like a pillow. It was obvious that she wanted to sleep a little longer.
“Speaking of arguing, what are you going to say to Mykala when you see her?” Kang asked.
“ No need to say anything, I’ll just stay on the ship until it’s time to take Tarin, and Baltis back.” Venis had already thought about seeing Mykala. The last time they had seen each other was when they voted to see if Venis could stay with the group. It wasn’t just that Mykala voted no, she laid it out in great detail how Venis should not be trusted.
“Well things may have changed since then. You’ve proven yourself loyal to us many times over. You helped to rescue Ceecee and you even got this ship back. It was you that set up the deal through Guppa for the two ships we’re picking up. I feel you are just as loyal as anyone can be.” Kang said as he finished off the last of his meal.
“It doesn’t matter, none of that matters. Mykala might be right. If Guppa wanted me to betray all of you for some reason I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to say no. Nobody  goes against a Hutt and lives very long.” she said looking very insecure.
“We don’t have to worry about that to much. The Hutt’s don’t have dealings with the Empire.” Kang said.
“I’m just afraid the day will come when he will test my loyalties. Not about the Empire but between you guys and him. He might want to see who’s side I would land on.” she said. Kang noticed a fear in her eyes that he had never seen before. She must have worried about this for a long time now. Venis had been walking on a razors edge between loyalties not knowing which side would shove her one way or another.
“Has Guppa asked you to spy on us?” Kang said leaning closer.
“ Would you believe me if I said no?” Vee asked as she made her point.
“If you said no I would believe you Vee.” Kang said.
Venis’s eyes teared up. “Thanks.” she said and gave him a little smile.

Matt closed the hatch and walked up the hall. Pep jumped out from the mess hall and threw her arms around his neck and gave him a big wet kiss.
Matt laughed and pushed her away. “Later, once we’re in orbit.” he gave her rear a playful swat and continued up the hall. Matt looked back one last time to see Pep smack her own rear and suck on her finger teasing him.
“You let me know if you want some help with that.” Bronski had been watching the whole time. He looked at Matt and gave him a big stupid grin.
“ You are one gigantic ass my friend.” Matt said and entered the cockpit. Bronski followed carrying the case with the droid brain inside. Matt started the take off procedure and the ship slowly began to rise from the planets surface.
Bronski took the small black orb from the box and looked at it closely.
“So this thing came from an Imperial astrodroid and has all the star charts and locations of every Imperial base and space station there is huh?” Bronski asked as he tossed back and forth from hand to hand. “How much do we get paid for this run Matt?” Buck asked as he looked closer at the brain.
“Minimum risk pay. Plus a bonus for crewing the ship ourselves.” Matt had it all worked out.

Ceecee landed the big ship with ease. The ship was her baby and she knew every inch of it. It did as she commanded. Lionette, Timtam and Adda were standing on the palace balcony waving as the ship touched down. Tarin, Baltis and Mykala were waiting on the landing platform. Once the engines throttled down enough Kang opened the port hatch and stepped out. Granic had decided to stay in his quarters and not get out to visit. He didn’t like Feloids any more than Humans. Venis went directly to the cockpit to take over the controls from Ceecee. She wanted to pilot this next leg of the trip so she wouldn’t have to deal with Mykala.
“Why don’t you come down and see everyone. How often do you get to be inside a Feloid palace?  Don’t worry about Mykala I’ll keep her busy if you want.” Ceecee said as she stood in front of the command chair.
“Thanks Ceecee but I just want to get this over with as soon as possible.” Venis said.
“ Okay, but I wish you’d come.” and with that Ceecee gave Venis a kiss on the lips and walked out.
Ceecee stopped and turned.
“Thanks.” Venis said as she plopped herself into the big chair. They had become very close over the past few months. Ceecee and Venis didn’t have anybody left but each other. Ceecee’s father was a cruel man as were her brothers. Stella had practically bought Ceecee and her sisters freedom from their father when she bought the ship.
Venis had a boy friend that taught her smuggling but he was killed leaving her all alone. The only real friend she had was Guppa the Hutt. Guppa liked her for now but with any Hutt that could all change in an instant.
Ceecee ran down the metal stair way too the ships cavernous hold and out the hatch onto the platform. She stopped in amazement when she took her first look at the palace. It was built into the side of a mountain with landing platforms of all sizes sticking out everywhere. Feloids were a warrior culture and they liked to keep their ships close to home. There were also massive towers that jutted into the sky as if to say, “We are here, come and take us if you dare.”
“An amazing sight isn’t it?” said Kang.
“ I only wish Jaycee could have lived to see it, she would have loved it.” Ceecee said.
Mykala, Baltis, and Tarin walked over to the ship and exchanged greetings with Ceecee and Kang.
Tarin and Baltis went inside the ship with their belongings.
“Once you’re in orbit I’ll dock Stella’s ship inside and travel the rest of the way  on board with everyone else.” Mykala said. She looked up at the cockpit of the huge ship and saw Venis sitting in the command chair.
“You two getting along okay?” Mykala asked.
“We’re great, I don’t want to get in the middle of anything but I think you got Venis all wrong, I really trust her.” Ceecee said.
“I know you do but I just can’t shake the fact she’s in bed with the Hutts. I’m sorry.” she said giving Ceecee a friendly smile.
“It’s okay, give it time, you’ll see.” Ceecee said smiling back.

Pep lifted her head up and looked at Matt’s face he was laying back with his eyes closed.
“Matt.” Pep said.
“Mmm, don’t stop Pep.” He said.
“I think Mr. Bronski needs us.”Pep said as she stood up.
“ What…why do you think that?” Matt said frustrated.
“Because he’s standing in the doorway.” she said putting on her shirt.
“Bronski you ass! You complete ass!” Matt yelled as he jumped up from the bed.
“ Relax lover, this is important, you two need to see this…now.” he put his cigar back in his mouth and walked down the hall.
“You’re an ass!” Matt yelled as he pulled up his pants.
“I know.” replied Bronski as he continued walking.
Pep laughed quietly to herself. She wasn’t bothered by what just happened at all. She was used to much worse. Matt would have been a lot madder if it wasn’t for Pep. Things like this didn’t bother her, she had never been embarrassed by sexual relations in any form. That’s what she was raised to do. Her open and laid back attitude towards sex made her all the more desirable.
Matt and Pep reached the cockpit and sat down. As bad as he was with decorum he was a damned military genius. Buck had the holo display of the droids brain on. It slowly rotated showing all the Imperial bases and patrol routes.
“Well?” Matt said to Buck.
“Look closer stupid.” He replied.
Matt looked hard trying to spot something out of place.
“Come on soldier, assess the threat factors to your current mission.” Bronski loved tweaking Matt’s nose when it came to military issues. He new Matt had a Military school background where as Bronski came up through the ranks.
“ What, what, I don’t see it.” Matt said pretending Bronski wasn’t getting to him.
Bronski took his cigar out of his mouth and blew a smoke ring around the planet Regus Mortella. The same planet the others were going to pick up the new ships at. Then he saw it, a small red dot on the planet.
“That’s a base. That says there’s an Imperial base on Regus Mortella!” Matt said shocked.
Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner.”Bronski mocked.
“We have to warn them. If they’re recognized they’ll be killed.” Matt said.
“We can’t risk a transmission. If the Empire picked it up they would know we have one of their droids brains and change everything around.”Bronski added.
“What can we do? We have to do something.” Pep said.
“If we push the engines we can get there one day behind them. If they can go one day without being spotted then we can warn them when we get there.” Bronski said. He had a real look of concern on his face.
“Well what are we waiting for, let’s kick this bitch in the ass.” Matt said.
Bronski pushed the throttle as far forward as possible. The ship began to vibrate and rattle until it reached it’s maximum velocity.

Josi Nabb relaxed in the huge tub of hot water. Brea was messaging her neck and shoulders 

making sure to do it right. The last time she did it she pinched to hard so Josi made her keep her head underwater until she began to drown. If she would have pulled her head out of the water before Josi said so it would have meant a fate far worse than drowning.
The door opened without warning and in stepped two Gamorians. They were followed by Rollo. “I’m sorry for the interruption but this can’t wait.” he said as he slithered up to the tub.
Normally Josi would have simply killed anyone who came into her quarters without being invited but these were Rollo’s quarters. Everything on this planet was his as he so often reminded everyone.
Josi slapped Brea’s hands away as she attempted to continue with the message. “ What is it?” Josi asked giving Rollo her full attention.
“My Lord, Guppa the Hutt has seen fit to allow an Imperial resupply station to be located here for a short amount of time. It seems to be some sort of strictly business transaction but I have my doubts. I have no say in this as I am indebted to my Lord. I think it might be best if you laid low here until they left. Although
they think you’re dead there is the chance you might be recognized.” Rollo said.
“If you think that is for the best then that is what I shall do.” Josi nodded her her in compliance.
“Make no mistake I do not like this turn of events any more than you Josi Nabb but I have no say in the matter.” and with that said Rollo turned his great bulk and made his way back out of the door.
This was going to be a problem. Rollo wouldn’t inform on her but one of his lackeys might. In her new position she most likely bumped one or two others out of their spot to gain hers. She slid back down into the tub sticking out her lower lip like a spoiled child and tapped the side of the tub. Brea hurried back to her spot and began the message again.

Ceecee circled the landing pad on Regus Mortella. Ships were zipping around like angry insects. On lawless worlds like this it was always dangerous landing or taking off. It was an every man for himself type of system here. There were no approach vectors or control towers. There was no organized central government to pay for such things. She found the section of the space port that she was supposed to land at and went for it. The decent was a bit dicey but she pulled it off as if she landed here every day.
It was a hot day made hotter by the dark gray rocks and canyons that trapped the hot air close to the ground. Ceecee had landed near Rollo’s private docking bay. He kept all his ships in underground hangars to keep the gray dust from destroying their fine paint jobs.
She looked out of the cockpit and saw Kang, Granic ,and Mykala had already gotten out and were looking around. Ceecee jumped up and started down the hall towards the ladder that lead outside. As she passed through the first hatch she nearly bumped into Venis. “Whoa there Ceecee, they won’t go anywhere with out you.” Venis said smiling.
“I’m going to miss you Vee.” Ceecee said looking into her eyes.
“Me too.” Venis replied. “Go ahead now and catch up, I’ll see you in three days back at the base.”she said and gave her a kiss.
Ceecee smiled and continued outside till she caught up with the others.
“Well what now?” Granic asked.
“Somebody is supposed to meet us here.” Ceecee said looking back and up at the cockpit. She saw Venis pointing at Rollo’s hanger.
“ I guess we try over there.” Ceecee said.
The four went to the main hangar door trying there best not to inhale the gray dust that blew everywhere. One of the guards opened the door and ushered them in. they walked through an air chamber that blew the dust off of them and was sucked into a grate below. They continued on into an elevator that seemed to drop like a rock down into the old mines below. After stopping it opened into a large natural cavern. The space was gigantic. The roof had been cut out forming a huge shaft that went straight up to the surface. A magnetic force shield kept the dust from falling down into the shaft below.
There were several ships dotted about the cavernous room all belonging to Rollo the Hutt. Closest to them was two brand new YT-1300’s. Not a remarkable ship by any means but the class was known for it’s ease of maintenance and adaptability.
“These are pretty nice. You gotta admit Mykala, Venis did a good job setting this deal up.” Ceecee said.
“ Hmmf.” Granic mumbled to himself.
“Let’s just see if they actually fly before we start building statues to her okay?” it was going to take a lot more than this to convince Mykala to change her mind about Venis.
An older human walked out from inside the ship closest to the group. He was in his mid fifties. His hair was cut short and tight denoting a military background of some sort. He appeared lean and well muscled with a few large scars on his left arm.
“You the ones Guppa sent?” he asked in a gravely voice.
Ceecee perked up and started forward to introduce themselves but was stopped by Mykala as she grabbed the back of her shirt.
“Yeah we’re the ones.” Mykala handled these type of negotiations with these type of people. They weren’t the hand shake and smiles type that Ceecee was used to.
“ Well take a look at them and if your satisfied you can call and have the money transacted. If you don’t want ’em then get the fuck out.” He said acting tough.
“ What the fuck did you think we came here for?” Mykala answered and nodded to Ceecee to go and check out the ship.
It took less time than expected to check the ships out Ceecee had brought her droid “Gonkie” with her so he could run all the diagnostics on each ship and it’s history. In the mean time Granic and Ceecee did a quick visual inspection of each ship to see if anything had been taken off that shouldn’t have been. Apparently Rollo wanted to stay in Guppa’s good graces because both ships checked out in perfect order.

Josi had been getting itchy being stuck in her room all day. The idea of  temporary Imperial base on this planet struck her as odd. She had to go and see for herself what was going on. She decided to take Brea with her. If things went bad at least she would have something to use as cover.

Mykala was getting bored waiting for the transaction to go through. She decided to have a look around the facilities. The transaction could take a few more hours as it was encoded and recoded as funds were switched from one account to another in secret. She walked to the main gathering hub where almost anything was for sale. Rollo allowed the use of this place so his men could make some extra cash on any side deals they had. It was better to let them do this in the open then unseen. The place was as huge as the hangar she had just left but it was divided up into small buildings and stalls for people to do business. Mykala was amazed how many side deals were going on here and that it was allowed at all. Then out of the corner of her eye she saw  a woman with long black hair. She was leading a slave on a leash through the narrow alleys and causeways. Something about her sent chills down her spine. She wanted to run back to the her friends and leave as fast as she could but didn’t know why. She had to control her fear and follow this woman. She needed to know why she felt such fear from this perfect stranger.

Josi sensed the woman following her almost immediately. She pretended not to notice and decided to lead her to the far side of the area to a place she knew to be deserted. The woman was good. Josi only saw her once or twice the whole time she was leading her to the trap. She was beginning to fear the worst. The woman was an Imperial spy that had recognized her. With any luck the woman had not made contact with her superiors. If she hadn’t all she had to do is kill her. She wouldn’t be able to use her light sabers because the wounds would bring on an investigation from the Empire.

Mykala watched as the woman lead her slave into an abandoned building. It was pitch black inside. There was no use for windows this far under ground. She hesitated just for a moment and then quietly stepped inside. It was dead quiet in the large room. Mykala put her hand on her light saber but stopped. If she turned it on before she knew who this woman was it might give the woman an advantage.

Josi stood just inside the doorway and to the left. She had placed Brea in front of her with her hand clenched tightly over her mouth. They both were frozen perfectly still as the woman stepped inside. Josi could tell the woman was listening for the slightest sound that might give them away.

Mykala decided to try something. She took out her large fighting knife. It was polished to a mirror finish. She held it up and caught the light coming in from the door. She slowly turned the knife as it cast a faint reflection of light into the room.

Josi saw the reflection begin to swing in her direction. The chase was over. She quietly pushed Brea down to the floor and took out a long thin assassins blade  she had taken from the black ship and kept in her boot.

The reflection caught a glint of yellow and red. Mykala steadied the light on the object and realized what it was, it was an eye.

Josi let out a wild cry and leapt.

Mykala screamed in rage and swung wildly at the eye.

The to women grappled on the floor in the darkness with neither able to gain an advantage. They pushed and pulled at each other but in the darkness it was impossible to spot a weakness.

“Freeze!” came a male voice and the room was suddenly flooded by light. They both looked up to see the room being rushed full of Imperial Storm troopers.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 16 June 2010 03:06)