In open space near the Bimmisaari system, the Venator-class Star Destroyer Affluent was drifting amidst the rest of her pirate fleet. The once-virulent warship was venting atmosphere and internal explosions still lit its languid hulk against the blackness of space. Another member of her fleet, an old Dreadnaught-class cruiser unceremoniously collided with the larger ship, then slowly toppled end-over-end on course away from the Affluent. Scattered fighters still raced around the ship like flies around a corpse. Every able crew member struggled to restore power or seal breaches in the hull. Debris sprawled into space like flecks of sand swept along a current.
It was chaos.
Amidst the chaos, a small black fighter slipped from the hangar of the Star Destroyer, inconspicuously weaving through the harried fleet. None of the other ships seemed to notice. The black ship casually put some distance between itself and the remnants of the fleet, the disappeared into hyperspace.
Sometime later, the same black ship came out of hyperspace in the Nespis system and quickly disappeared among the asteroids. At the helm of the Peripheral Muse was Costain 'Saz' Proulx, a former Imperial Research and Development technician separated from the Empire he had once admired, now a freelance smuggler and bounty hunter, or otherwise jack-of-all-trades. In the storage module of the prototype fighter was an unconscious figure, thrown loosely into an environmental suit and kept alive by forced air and radiant heaters. It had been an effort of over a year, with many trials and tribulations that had tested the skill and resolve of the man, not to mention the design specifications of his beloved craft.
It was still hard to believe that there was so much attention centered on a single young woman.
"Technician," said a mechanical voice, sourced from the ship itself, "are you certain this is the correct organic? I had expected something substantially more exotic for a Jedi."
Saz was broken from a robotic daze and glanced around the instruments, tipping his hat up from his brow. There were no other ships within range and the Muse was safely in the asteroid belt, so he felt inclined to answer the invisible speaker. "I don't know, N4, she seems pretty exotic to me. Besides, the Jedi were wiped out decades ago. How would you even know what to expect?" he replied, glancing out to the endless mob of dancing planetoids around them.
There was a short silence. "Technician, I have access to much of the station's databanks concerning any number of subjects, including historical data on the Jedi before Order 66. Considering how little resistance was offered when we acquired her, I find it difficult to classify her as a Jedi," the voice responded.
Saz smirked a bit and pulled his hat back down, settling deeply into the pilot's seat. There was an abundance of folklore on how formidable a Jedi could be, yet the timid Twi'lek did nothing but try to run away, stopped by a mere stun grenade. She did not even have a lightsaber. It was any wonder it had taken him so long to actually find her when the capture was over in a matter of minutes.
It was somewhat disappointing.
"I can't argue with that, but I've looked over her data hundreds of times. It's definitely her. It does make me wonder why Utility, and everyone else for that matter, is so interested in getting their hands on her," the human remarked.
"Technician, is that why you are returning to the Shed instead of the designated rendezvous location? Is it why you have not contacted Utility?" the voice asked.
"Nah, I thought she might help clean the place up a bit. You know, do some dusting, and maybe mop the floors," he joked.
The voice was silent yet again and the black ship made a few course corrections to avoid some errant asteroids wandering chaotically through the field. It was obvious the source of the voice was straining to understand what he meant, which brought an amused sneer to the man's face.
"Technician, I sometimes fail to understand the humor of you organics," the voice said flatly.
"You're a ship, N4, not a protocol droid. You don't have to understand it, though it wouldn't kill you to humor me sometimes by chuckling or something," said the man with a sigh.
While the idle conversation continued, the ship dipped around a large, pock-marked asteroid and came into view of what remained of a space station, with parts of it built into an asteroid and parts of it scattered into the space beyond. Something had attacked the base and tore it to pieces. There was only a small hangar that had been largely left intact on the southern hemisphere of the broken body, which was the home base for Saz and his ship.
The black ship headed towards the hangar and the voice resonated in the ship once more, "Technician, we are 3.7 standard minutes from docking procedures at the Shed. Asteroid drift variance is at .5%, power output of the main reactor remains steady at 41% and all environmental systems are within normal constraints."
"Thanks, N4. Initiate landing procedures and revert to manual flight control," Saz replied and sat upright, pushing his hat back and concentrating on the hangar.
Feeling the vibration of the ship through his hands refreshed him. The fighter was swift and powerful, the paragon of Imperial technology. There were so few of them built that they were all still referred to as prototypes, with the Emperor personally ordering them into protective storage to keep the technology out of the hands of his enemies. That fact seemed moot since the death of the Emperor a few years earlier, but the small number produced, not to mention the fact that Saz had made many personal modifications insured that there was no other ship like the Peripheral Muse.
It was his ship, along with his knowledge of Imperial research and development, which made him highly sought after by both the feuding warlords of the broken Empire and the New Republic that had grown in its wake. It was ironic to him that he had been tasked with hunting down an equally sought-after mark in the rogue Force-adept, Aveyla Rom.
The Peripheral Muse landed in the hangar. A heavy, rusted door creaked closed behind it and a rush of breathable environment began to whisper into the area. Everything was a dull brown color, with streaks of opaque white that provided glimpses into the facility's lost past. Most doors were welded shut and there was only one window that faced out to the mundane spread of planetoids. It was a dreary place, but had everything essential for life. A reactor in a nearby utility area provided power for the heaters, lights and air circulation systems. A system of heaters and purifiers leeched water deposits from the fragmented asteroid. There were a few livable compartments suited for life's carnal requirements and a hangar spacious enough to accommodate the ship.
It was not much, but it was a home.
Saz landed roughly on the hard floor as he exited his ship and took a deep breath of the stale air. Judging by the way the air stung his nose, it was obvious to him that he needed to check on the filtration systems again. However, all normal considerations were put on hold as he glanced up to the storage modules on the ship, in it his prize.
It only took a moment for him to move the stepladder over to the ship. As he ascended each step, he half-expected the pod burst open with an angry Jedi, flinging lightning from her fingers and tearing the hangar down around them. "Or is that a Sith?" he thought to himself as his hand reached down to his sidearm. Both were like mystical creatures to the galaxy, so he did not know what to expect. Drawing the blaster, he crested the stepladder and stared at the pod, a welling of apprehension rising in his stomach. Her capture had been remarkably simple and that made him uneasy. Nothing was ever easy.
Unlocking the pod, the lid lifted to reveal a lump of protective clothing, still plugged in to the support systems. The suit was so large, comparative to the figure inside, that it was difficult to tell if she were still in there, or if she were merely waiting for the right time to strike. Saz craned his neck to the side and reached out with his blaster, using the barrel to prod the lump. Nothing happened. A bead of sweat raced down his neck and he leaned further over the pod, trying to get a glimpse inside the helmet to see the occupant's face. Not even peeking in the suit was easy.
When he finally looked into the helmet's contents, he found the Twi'lek face still serene, under the effects of the sedatives he had given her. A breath of relief escaped his lips and he stabilized himself on the stepladder, shoving his blaster back in its holster and rubbing the sweat from his neck. "Did I even get the right person?" he asked himself quietly, as if to echo the sentiments of his mechanical companion.
Dismissing any questions as moot, he disconnected the suit from the interface and slid his arms under the figure, lifting her out and once again remarking to himself how light she was. Moving down the steps, he moved into one of the adjacent areas and laid her on a makeshift bed. He removed the environmental suit and once again laid his eyes on her, still disturbed at her beauty.
Her skin was pale lavender and she had very striking features. Even for a Twi'lek, renowned for their beauty, she seemed exotically beautiful. The scant clothing she wore gave him afforded him a thorough examination of her, much to his arousal. As N4 had noted, she possessed no lightsaber, nor much of anything else. Looking past her relaxed face, he noticed scarring around her neck, indicative of slavery in her past. Her breasts were petite and well-shaped. Her hips here slender and her legs were long. Her lekku were also slender and shapely. It was obvious she was quite the prize to any owner that possessed her.
"Is she even a Jedi?" Saz remarked breathlessly, looking back to her face. While still asleep, her brow seemed furrowed, as if she were in a constant state of pain. Her expression fascinated him, in a wicked sort of way.
Suddenly, a voice broke out from an interface embedded in top of his wrist, startling him from his daze. "Technician, the ship has been successfully powered down and will be put on standby. When shall we proceed to the rendezvous point?" droned the voice of N4.
Saz tapped a button on the interface and stared back towards the hangar, his eyes a bit guilty. "Inventory remaining ordinance and assess any damage to the Muse, N4. We won't be heading out just yet," he replied, then moved his eyes back to the woman lying before him.
"I'll bet she has an interesting story to tell."