With packs stuffed full of supplies and everyone ready to depart, they took a final look over the route again…
First, to the New Imperium and some world called Kashyyyk. Wait; something seemed familiar there. Perhaps it wasn’t just another random bunch of letters? Oh! The wookie homeworld! Wookies… very clannish, mostly morally upright, lived in trees, world full of giant trees with ground-level swamps, loads of extremely dangerous creatures near the ground. They did have some dangerous rites of passage – and a reasonable number might be ensouled – but for their purposes it probably wasn’t going to be a very interesting place. It would probably be easiest to go to Ealor and take the Ebon Hawk; the Thrall they’d delegated at Korriban should have brought it back in – and hopefully had it fixed – by now.
Anyway, from Kashyyyk to the Anthropomorphic Realms, from there to the Natural Geographic Realms, and from there to Inversion.
There were once again some Storm Troopers manning customs. Fortunately, they both had local Identities – even if “Jedi Master Darth Santarous:” with his red hat and white pom-pom was inherently a bit sarcastic.
The storm trooper looked over the paperwork
(Trooper) “Alright, everything looks to be in order. May I ask your final destination?
(Kevin) “A gate on Kashyyyk.”
(Trooper, looking at his datapad) “Transit through that area should be fine at the moment. No battle activity going on in that sector currently. Very well, you may pass. Welcome to the New Imperium.”
(Marty) “Thanks! Let’s go get the ship!”
Hm. Battle activity? Sith Attacks, Extra-Galactics, or Revan and the Hellthunder? Kevin checked the datanets… Ah. Revan and the Hellthunder, waging war on the galaxy. Well, that was a bother. He really needed to check on what kind of help they needed.
The Ebon Hawk was indeed back in port – although it looked somewhat the worse for wear, despite the fact that the maintenance crews had apparently been busy. The girl who’d brought it in had spent a lot of power doing it…
Well, it had been through a lot. All those hyperspace energy surges, a high-speed atmospheric transit, light combat, scraping along inside another ship, and all kinds of stuff. Oh well. The bill would be nothing compared to the fleet.
It was pretty bad from a the standpoint of a single ship. Against their coffers however, it was a drop in the bucket.
(Shop Owner) “Are either one of you the owner of this vessel?”
(Marty) “I am.”
(Shop Owner) “I don’t know what you put this ship through, the kid that brought it in here wasn’t real big on details. But don’t do it again.”
(Marty) “I’m not planning on it.”
(Shop Owner) “Good, as I have never seen damage that extensive since the time I saw a wreck after it had gone through an antimatter mist. We had to replace most everything electronic on board plus much of the structural and armor pieces. Whatever you put it through seriously damaged the hyperdrive as well.”
The itemized bill came to a little over 120,000 credits – close to the price of the ship in the first place.
The shop owner was pretty pleased when they simply paid him on the spot and thanked him – even if he did warn them not to do that again; the ship had been near total failure in midflight.
(Kevin) “I fear we crashed a few continuities in it.”
(Marty) “Yeah, I’d hate to see the bill for those!”
(Shop Owner) “Now, we still aren’t finished with all the repairs, but she should be spaceworthy – with a little luck. I STRONGLY recommend avoiding combat if that’s at all possible though!”
Marty carefully avoided saying anything along the lines of “Wasn’t planning on it!”. This WAS a dramatic universe after all.
(Kevin) “Well, we weren’t planning on the Old Empire or anything this time around – and hopefully we won’t run into the Hellthunder.”
(Shop Owner) “Well that’s good, been hearing that thing has been chewing up fleets big time for a while now. Best to stay away if you can.”
They loaded up and took off for Kashyyyk. After all, if they did run into the Hellthunder, it still had half a year or more to go on their contract.
Inside the ship showed even more signs of partially completed repairs. Panels were missing, wiring was laid across the floor, and the occasional panel system was blinking away. The cockpit seemed to be in better shape, although the chair wobbled most annoyingly and had been set forward to be suitable for a Thrall.
(Marty) “Ah dammit! I hate wobbly chairs!”
Briefly, he wished he could levitate readily.
(Kevin) “Dear me! It looks like another famous ship now!”
(Marty) “If you ask me to make the Kessel Run under 12 parsecs, I’ll ground you.”
Marty briefly considered removing the chair in favor of a couch – perfect for time with the girls! – but settled on simply taking the ship out instead.
In asking for clearance to take off, they could hear the flight controller talking in the background;
(Controller) “Are they really taking that ship back out after that landing it made some time ago?” (Another guy in the background) “Must be, same ship registration and everything. Hopefully it lands more gracefully where ever they are going.”
(Controller, most reluctantly) ” You are cleared for take off. Good luck out there!”
(Marty, while taking off) “I could hear everything you said you know!”
Maybe they owed the poor ship a makeover? It might be a good idea, after all, if it was sapient it would probably be threatening to contract with somebody else!
The ship wanted to corkscrew, but it was manageable. A combination of uneven thrust and uneven drag that got a lot easier to deal with as they left the atmosphere. It took them several jumps – and some time dropping out of hyperspace early on the longest ones to give the hyperdrive a chance to cool – but they did wind up in orbit around Kashyyyk eventually.
Marty landed as close to the gates as possible; according to the records, it was located on the northernmost continent, deep in the bowels of one of the largest trees in a particular section of forest.
(Kevin) “Marty, I fear your ship needs a complete rebuild here.”
(Marty) “Well, at least I don’t have to PAY the thing.”
The tendency to corkscrew returned full force once they entered the atmosphere, and Marty had to slow drastically – which was just as well. There were a great many large trees on Kashyyyk.
They eventually narrowed it down to one of four different trees in the area.
(Kevin) “I guess we’ll have to land and have one of the Thralls take the ship back for repairs – if they can get it back without crashing.”
Apparently there were some local shops, albeit not nearby. There was a spaceport to the south with facilities. Well, that was up to Marty. It was his ship.
Marty decided to take it there personally, while Kevin organized the Thralls for a telekinetic assist if it became necessary. They could experiment with the local transport! That was always fun!
Marty managed to avoid crashing, but did end up having to kill the engines several feet up in order to land flat. Fortunately, the Thralls could cushion the impact – although something still snapped – while Wookie landing guides went scattering into the trees as they watched.
(Marty) “What a smash!”
A wookie waving a directing light stick was yelling at the ship.
(Kevin) “Marty… I suspect that a complete rebuild might be required this time.”
(Marty) “Heh. Well, guess they’ll have to do what it takes.”
Marty grumbled. While it was true that buying a new ship would have been far cheaper than that last bill alone, he LIKED his ship! Well he could easily afford a total rebuild, and there was always buying a new one piecemeal; he could just have them add new pieces until all the old frame and systems were gone while retaining the decor and such. He’d do that! He had the expense account! He could rebuild it!
Off to talk to the wookies then… They might not speak Wookie, but this was Star Wars! All they had to do was act confident, use a hint of telepathy, and someone would translate if they couldn’t understand! It should work out.
At worst, they could let a protocol droid – there were sure to be some around – or Xellos handle it, even if Xellos’s translations were sure to cause some awkwardness).
(Wookie via Protocol Droid) “What in the galaxy do you think you are doing?! Are you out of your minds?!”
(Marty) “We were landing, give us a break!”
(Wookie via Protocol droid) “Look, you turn off the engines AFTER you are on the ground. Plus you get the ship within the landing pad zone and lower it till it touches. Not, get in close say “Good Enough” and kill the engines!”
(Marty) “Well, would you rather have me land flat or crooked?”
(Kevin) “Oh, I’m afraid that they just quit anyway.”
Marty made the drive noises and appropriate hand gestures – as opposed to the ones he’d use in the road rage lane.
(Wookie, via Protocol Droid) “And you flew that willingly?”
(Marty) “Are you insulting my ship?”
(Kevin) “It was the ship we happened to have handy!”
(Wookie, via Protocol Droid, as a portion of the tail section fell off and hit the tarmac) “Do I need to reply to that or was that rhetorical?”
(Kevin) “Not to worry. It brings profitable business to your local port. What more could you ask?”
(Wookie, via Protocol Droid) “Well if you are seeking repairs, I imagine it would. I just prefer not to have to dodge spacecraft.”
(Kevin) “Would a tip make you feel better?”
(Wookie, via Protocol Droid) “Potentially. I might be made to forget about this whole incident with some good luck.”
(Kevin) “Oh well. Ten thousand for you then. Who else needs a tip?”
Marty had to laugh. Now that was more like it! Tips for everybody, and then to the repair area!
Three more wookies came out looking for tips/bribes – for which they were glad to point them to a good repair ship, although – given that level of damage – they had to recommend scraping it and buying new.
(Wookie, via Protocol Droid) “If you really want to repair it, I suggest Kockrell’s Repair shop, as they are the only ones with the resources to handle a job that big.”
They headed there… Kevin noted that a surprisingly large number of the Wookies seemed to have souls – well it had been a pretty popular series for a fairly long time – but while becoming a Wookie slaver had a long tradition in Star Wars, most of the Wookies traditionally preferred to take their own risks. He really wasn’t likely to find many recruits here. Still, it would be nice to find a local to keep an eye on the ship repairs.
Marty found Kockrell’s from the smell of the oil, as opposed to the directions. The remains of several ships and repulsor craft were scattered throughout the grounds within a fence. A big hangar structure filling the center of the property was emitting all sorts of power tool sounds… Inside there was a wookie smacking something rather delicate looking with a large sledge hammer, cramming it into a hole in some plating. Shards of glass were being flung all over the shop floor and droids were rolling around and fleeing. Some sort of odd heavy metal music was playing in the background.
Marty grinned. Knowing the way Star Wars ran, he’d trust this guy over the shop with the glossy high tech gear.
(Kevin) “Hello there! We’d like to check a ship in for some repairs! Or a complete rebuild!”
(Marty) “Looks like a complete rebuild.
The Wookie didn’t seem to hear them over the loud music and his own smashing noises.
(Marty) “Hey Kevin, let me.”
Marty pulled out a voice amplifier.
(Marty) “HI THERE, CAN YOU REBUILD MY SHIP FOR ME? I’LL PAY WELL.”
The Wookie stopped to turn and look at him, slinging the sledge hammer over his shoulder and roaring something. Marty repeated himself, a bit more quietly.
The Wookie roared and growled some more, but – seeing their blank looks – wandered over to a pile of trash, threw some of it aside, and then dragged out kicking and screaming protocol droid. He flung it to the floor and put a foot on it to keep it from fleeing, the growled and roared again while the droid translated.
(Wookie) “What? You want a ship rebuilt?”
(Marty) “Yeah. I’ll pay good for it.”
(Wookie) “Where is it? Or is that the problem?”
(Marty) “It’s at the starport. I’m not sure I want to move it again, though. Or if it CAN move again.”
(Kevin) “On the other hand, we can certainly rent the pad.”
(Wookie) “Towing charges will be extra. Is that fine?”
(Marty) “Yeah, that’ll do.”
(Wookie) “Very well, are you looking for any conversion jobs as part of this?”
(Marty) “Nah, just a rebuild.”
Marty gave him the pad ID and the ship information.
(Wookie) “Alright, I will need you to sign these forms giving me permission to access your ship and tow it here for repairs. This form frees me from any liability if I find any illegal modifications and refuse to repair them as such. You have the option of me ignoring them or repairing them back to legal spec.”
(Marty) “Shouldn’t be any, but if there are, get them to legal spec. I don’t need the trouble.”
(Wookie) “Alright, I will send an estimate of the repairs to your contact number once I get a good look at the damage. At which point I will need your go ahead to proceeding unless you would rather just give authorization?”
(Marty) “Eh, go ahead, should have the money to cover it.”
(Kevin) “Try not to go over a million; that should suffice to buy one to cannibalize for parts, one for spares, and one for yourself anyway.”
Both the Wookie and the Droid seemed pretty shocked at that.
(Wookie) Ah… well… ok, very well then. I will let you know when the repairs are completed.”
(Kevin) “Half in advance, half on satisfactory delivery?”
(Marty) “Sounds good to me!”
They handed over the half-million on the spot – they were in a rush after all; the invasions weren’t going to last forever! – and ignored the blank expressions of shock. The Wookie verified the amount and authenticity twice…
(Wookie) “I will get the repairs done as quickly as possible!”
They went to locate some local transport; they could use the ultralights, but it was a hundred and fifty miles, and there were giant birds to consider, even if most of the real dangers on this world lay beneath the trees on the ground.
Marty went looking for transport, and for any trade-goods that would be terribly suitable for the Anthropomorphic Realms (he turned up a business that provided transport services and listed several nearby gates – including the Anthro world gate – on their price list, and steered Kevin for them). Meanwhile, Kevin was trying a for orphans, juvenile delinquents and such that wanted to get offworld, would like his deal, and wouldn’t be missed especially – but didn’t really expect a response unless, perhaps, there were some offworlders stranded here or the place was a lot bigger than he thought. As it turned out, he was right; there wasn’t one; he had to leave one of the spare Aides they’d brought along as liaison for ship-repairs. Somehow that seemed to happen every time! Interestingly, it was a mouse person running the shop.
(Mouse) “What can I do for you then? Looking for a scenic tour?”
(Kevin) “Trip through – so we basically just need a lift.”
(Marty) “Yeah, we need to get someplace in the realm beyond.”
(Mouse) “Oh, heading to another realm then? Always interesting to go see other places. Which gate were you planning on using?”
(Marty) “Anthropomorphic Realm.”
(Mouse) “Always a favorite. My home realm in fact. Well the prices are listed and those are per person. Any heavy gear you are planning to transport?”
All they had was personal packs. The joys of Core convenience.
(Mouse) “Alright, that will be 3,000 credits for the bunch of you then. Head through the door on your right and into the hangar. Board the green hoverbus which should be leaving shortly.”
That wasn’t a bad price for Kevin, Marty, Xellos, eleven aides, and four ferrets – although Marty hoped that he wouldn’t get a craving for crackers!
The green hoverbus looked like it had seen better days long ago, and was missing the green paint in some places. Currently, there was a rat-person dancing on top of the bus to his own singing.
(Rat Person) “Oooooh, customers! Hey! Are you wanting to go to the Anthro Realm? Huh? Huh? Huh? It’s really fun and amazing! I was born there you know! But that was sometime ago! They say I am the fastest Rat pilot here on this world! I am also the only Rat person on this world! Isn’t that great!”
(Kevin) “I suppose it is! And how old would you be if you were human?”
(Marty) “Yeah, it is! When can we go? I want to see what I become!”
Kevin’s question seemed to stop him for a moment as he stood there looking at his fingers and counting slowly…
(Rat Person) “Uh, if I was human, I would be 12 years old! But I am a rat person so that means I grow up faster! Did I mention I like sugar?! And coffee, don’t forget the coffee!”
(Marty) “What a coincidence, I like sugar and coffee too! If I give you some, will you take us to your realm? Kevin can give you something even better than coffee and sugar if you do!”
(Rat Person) “Oooooooh! Sounds like fun! Hurry hurry hurry! Let’s go now! (He started throwing luggage into the bus through a broken window.)
(Xellos) “Oh dear, this could get interesting.”
(Marty) “I LIVE for interesting!”
(Rat Person) “Oh, by the way, my name is Bloo!”
(Marty) “Here, have some coffee, Bloo!”
(Bloo sat in the pilot’s chair and began to rattle off a check list) “Power: check! Repulsor: check! Shields: check! Navigation: check! Sublight drive: check! Coffee IV: check! Passengers: uhhhhh check!”
Kevin was fairly sure that a coffee IV wasn’t really good for you.
(Marty) “What? I drink Coffee IV every day, it has four times the caffeine of your average coffee!”
(Kevin) “I think he means replacing his bloodstream with it Marty.”
(Marty) “Ah. That does sound a little risky.”
(Xellos) “Wait did he just say what I think he said? Why would a bus have a”
(Bloo) “And off we go!”
The fifteen-G acceleration slammed into them like a ton of wet cement.
Almost everyone had made it into their seats before Bloo hit the drives – but Marty and some of the Thralls blacked out for a few moments from the intense acceleration. One of Xellos’s Thralls didn’t make it into his seat in time, and was flung into the back of the bus onto a large pack that fell out of storage. Oh well, the Thralls were tough; he’d be fine.
(Marty) “Wild last night, huh?”
The continuing acceleration pinned them firmly to their seats.
(Bloo) “We should be there in moments! Although we can save time by hugging the tree tops. Hold on!”
Behind them, they could see leaves being blown up in a cyclone of fury in their wake. Ahead of them, trees were coming in at a frightening speed as Bloo kept on the accelerator while steering quickly.
(Bloo) “Right! We’re here. I am taking us into the ground level to get at the gate. Do we have an opener or gatekeeper on board?”
He didn’t really wait for an answer, although he did get an affirmative one.
(Bloo) “We can save time by not having to stop and disembark to gate then! Get ready to open it, cause I am going in hard and fast!”
Suddenly the bus pulled a hard loop and dived down into the trees, barely dodging branches the whole way.
(Marty) “Best bus ride ever!”
Ahead of them a huge tree loomed large – approaching at several hundred miles per hour. Bloo was pushing even harder on the accelerator.
(Bloo) “Here we go!”
The tree loomed large for a fraction of a second, and it looked like they were about to impact with the root system before someone got the gate open in the very last moment. The bus suddenly acquired a high-pitched squealing noise and began to spin wildly. Bloo spun the wheel in the other direction and brought the bus to a stop as it barely scratched a wall of stone. He appeared to be tearing up.
(Bloo) “Three minutes and twenty one seconds! A new record! I’ve shrunk the world!”
(Marty) “Way to go! High five!”
Bloo high fived with great enthusiasm.
(Bloo) “Right! We’re here!”
Kevin had dropped into his wolfish ID – while Marty seemed to be a Military Macaw.
(Kevin) “Hrumph! So we are! Lets get going!”
(Marty) “Not until I get a cracker!” (He ate one)
(Kevin) “Bloo! Here’s your tip! Do you need the gate reopened to get back?”
Outside the bus was a dark and cold stone room. The only lighting in the place appeared to be in the form of over-sized Christmas tree lights hanging from the ceiling. There were tire marks on the floor leading from one wall to the bus. On closer observation, it looked like there were several copies of those tire tracks, nearly on top of each other.
(Bloo) “Uh sure, I usually have to wait for Mr Morgan to come by and open it again for me! He says he is always happy to see me leave! He must like seeing people go off on journeys!”
Kevin had one of the Thralls open it for him… They all seemed to have changed into semi-anthropomorphic mice and rats.
Annoyingly, things seemed to be getting smaller and smaller for a moment, before stabilizing with the thralls at knee level. Kevin seemed to be growing quite large.
Oh bother! A mouse-sized room! A good thing he had some shrinking spells available! The ceiling was looking awfully close!
(Marty) “Quick, somebody shrink him!”
The Thralls started throwing shrink spells as well, and eventually overpowered the growth effect – leaving Kevin still roughly twice the height of Marty and several times the height of the mice and rats.