Report From Commander Panallal

…from The Memoirs of Pola Panallal - Orange Squadron!

"Congratulations, Commander Panallal, on your promotion from Lieutenant Commander," said the functionary from Sentient Resources , as she handed me my new rank insignia, and a datapad with forms to be filled out. "By the by, Accounting has been on us about accumulated leave; perhaps now would be a good time for you to take some? Think about it and let me know when you have completed the forms," by way of a dismissal.

Promotions do not mean much to special missions folk, as it's not taken seriously in the field (some of the missions sentients did not take it seriously even aboard the Discovery, to the dismay of the rank and file officers). They are hard to celebrate when your friends are scattered across space on assignment and vary widely in rank, or even had never officially signed up. Perhaps a little leave is in order, Pola mused. But what to do? A little investigation turned up something promising, a call from Cibara Minor for pirate hunters. Just what the Y-Wing called for! Pola applied for some leave, warmed up the Pole Star, and took off for the stars.

Pola eventually met up with an agent named Balthazar who was recruiting for four different groups placing bounties on the pirates. Balthazar had collected six other sentients, and Pola began to wonder about recruitment techniques. He had been expecting a mixed bag of pilots and bounty hunters, not a roomful of Rebel Alliance. The only one Pola knew by name was Darius Wade, the other five were newer faces to him. Come to think of it, there seemed like a lot of fresh blood in the Crucible Sector R.A. lately, reminding Pola of the Clone Wars; there had been constant turnover in the fighter squadrons.
Wade did what he always did, nicked Balthazar on his percentage. Pola knew there was more to the man than the cheesy businessman image he often projected; Wade was a real old-timer in the R.A., with ties to old timers like Generals Ascott and Taylor, accounting for the 'modifications' to Wade's ship and gear.

Balthazar described a recent uptick in pirate activity which was being ascribed to a couple of beings named Salmack and Clackburn. Clackburn was supposed to have made a big score and retired years ago, while Salmack and his band had just disappeared, probably to greener pastures. In any case, the two were well known in the Cibara locale back in the day, and were now working together, garnering a lot of interest:

  1. Outer Crucible Company had suffered a PR loss when the CEO had spent the entire hour allotted to Q&A from shareholders answering questions about shipping losses. OCC wants the pirates captured and publicly tried for the PR value of it. Anything that would cause bad publicity would cause OCC to disavow all knowledge and void any payment.
  2. Dig Excavations ran mines and transport of raw ores as a division of OCC. In addition to payment, Dig had a few underworld contacts that might lead to the pirates.
  3. The Imperial Mining Guild wanted Salmak and Clackburn turned into Guild enforcers on either Coruscant or Navibha, no questions asked.
  4. Certain Hutts were mad about the interruption of smuggling operations and the possibility of acquiring the pirate's base for their own. The Hutts offered the highest pay.

Pola did not care which the others settled as long as it was not the Hutts, and said so. There was too much collaboration between the Rebel Alliance and crime lords as far as he was concerned; it was a necessary evil that would haunt the Republic once it was restored. Too many criminals would have too many contacts in high places, and the corruption would have to be purged. But that was a problem for another day.

Eventually the others settled on DigEx, so off to Cruces to speak to the execs there. But not without a cargo load for Wade's ship. The money was immaterial to Pola, as he had enough cash to buy another Y-Wing if something should happen to the Pole Star, so he left it entirely in the other's hands. It turned out to be food stuffs.

And then the argument. Pola received a message from the R.A. that: 1) Salmak and Clackburn were to be killed, 2) stolen property be returned as a publicity bit for the Alliance, and 3) the base be secured for future use. Wade insisted on checking the message through his contacts, apparently he had considered possession of the base and any stolen goods as a 'back end' payment. He was also dubious about the kill order, as the Rebel alliance did not typically issue such. When Pola said he was obliged to follow orders and would shoot anybody who got in the way, the new faces scoffed. They did not know that Pola was not just a member of Orange Squadron, that he WAS Orange Squadron. Wade wasn't worried either (Pola knew his ship to be faster than the Pole Star and suspected improved shields as well, which could lead to a lengthy stalemate. Instead he proposed a compromise: send proof of death to the RA and present the rest of the bodies to DigEx for the 50% payoff, double-dipping for more money.

Wade was also concerned that returning hijack shipments could be spun against the Rebel Alliance, something that had occurred before. This made Pola wonder how it was that two famous pirates had come out of retirement at once, working together when they never had before. It smacked of a put-up job by Empire, presenting the possibility that Salmak and Clackburn were imposters.

Wilson at DigEx (on Cruces) was happy to meet his pirate hunters. Apparently we were the first people to turn up for the job. In any case, the miners and crews were, as it were, unhappy about the recent attacks. DigEx wanted they two alive (no mention of the status of the pirate crew) to show about and calm labor unrest. Upper management (OCC) had ignored DigEx, so this was off the book. No problem for a bunch of R. A. operatives.

Wilson provided four names as leads. Work started by tracing Nogo Systek, as he might have been on Cruces, but he appeared to have fled to Nul Kestra. Somebody was looking for Nogo, and not in a good way. Since Solo Mahal was also on Nul Kestra, attention turned there. Wade was long experienced at bribery, so the profit from the cargo run was put to good use. The people looking for Nogo had been there already, they smelled Imperial. Nogo was a "no go", having run again.

Solo Mahal was another matter. One dive had a semi-permanent bar fight going on; Pola picked up and dusted off somebody that had been pitched out the door who said Mahal was too old for this kind of action. He was eventually found at a spice bar, and convinced to help out. Nothing let money well spent, Mahal provided current co-ordinates to the Anagosa asteroid field.

Careful probing of the field with Wade's superior sensors (no surprise there) eventually led us to parked bulk cruiser, freighter of indeterminate make, and four Y-Uglies. Short fight, only one of the fighter pilots was any good, and Wade's ion cannons took both the freighter and bulk cruiser offline, but not before the cruiser fired. It tagged a few nearby asteroids, all of which had space slugs inside! This might have been a problem for lesser ships/pilots.
Now the boarding action. Pola stayed in the Pola Star, occasionally re-ionizing the freighter and watching for manually launched escape pods. The youngin's seemed eager for a fray, so why not let them enjoy themselves? Wade would call for help if needed, but it wasn't.

All smiles at the end. One and a half rewards for the pirates, plus cargo profits and the Alliance took the ships off our hands for even more profits. The Alliance was so pleased that they even tinkered the Pole Star up to Space: 8 from 7. Pola considered voiding his leave, as it had turned into an assignment, but decided not to bother. Why get SR and Accounting riled up?

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