No plan survives contact with the players. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Pregame for Dice for Brains Season 4 some time ago, a method that GM Ross uses to populate the story with interesting NPCs and setting details. We were told we were to be data pirates, and the assumption going in was that we were going to be (possibly nefarious) antagonists for the main characters of Season 4. That . . . wasn’t exactly what happened. The crew of the Lost and Found operated in the background as Mor’a, Darlene, and Lon tried to complete their own job, only the L&F‘s Captain Zaja meeting them openly. In this five-part Table Fiction we’ll see how that crew came together and how they became what helped shape the events on Centares. Our tale is from the perspective of one Klatooinian thief, and begins on the Smuggler’s Moon . . .
Carga Endel sat in a Nar Shaddaa cantina and came to terms with giving up his freedom if he wanted to eat sometime this month.
“Look, Endel, we know you’re not exactly drowning in options here. The Hutts have a bounty on your head. Your little band either all went legit or have signed up with a bigger outfit. We heard all about your little dust-up with Black Sun–“
Carga interrupted the Zann Consortium agent by raising his mug of lomin ale and taking a deep pull from it, while the now-habitual calculations of whether or not he could afford another one whirred in the back of his head. Probably not. The Klatooinian placed the mug back on the table with a solid thunk and snarled slightly.
“They wouldn’t leave me alone. Sounds like some other people I know. I didn’t come looking for you. I’m not interested in joining up, so make like one of the art pieces,” Carga said, gesturing over his shoulder. The garish lighting of the Astrogation Glitch made it easy to see its defining quirk, a series of paintings depicting various catastrophes resulting from its namesake. The quality made the cantina surprisingly upscale, with a certain spacer’s dark humor. Behind Carga was a piece entitled “Borrowed Time Runs Out”, a YT-2400 hurtling into the Maw with a small escape pod fleeing to safety in the corner.
Carga tried not to find the title ominous given his current situation.
“Nobody’s going to leave you alone, Endel,” the human was saying, shaking his head. “You’re a skilled operator but you’ve got no allegiances. That makes you a random card in the sabacc deck, and those are bad for business. Look, kark it, you need the credits and we could use your skills, and I’m not exactly sticking a blaster in your face here. Or, what, you think you’re too good for us or something?”
Carga showed his teeth in a snarl and the Zann slug proved he had carbonite in his veins when he did the same in a smug smile.
“Oh, that is it, isn’t it? Carga Endel, escaped slave, former Alliance Privateer, too damn proud to go back to the days of being just an enforcer and a thief like he was for the Hutts. That’s rich, hound, that really is. You stole cargo and killed people just like the rest of us, but because you went after Imperials and had a letter of marque from the oh-so-noble Rebellion that somehow makes you better. What a joke. The Consortium picked fights with the Empire too, you don’t see us acting all high and mighty. Besides, if you’re so kriffing goodie-goodie, where are your New Republic friends now?”
Without meaning to Carga’s fingers twitched towards the red bandana wrapped around his upper arm, the only thing that had identified him as a Rebel during the war. The man was right. While the Alliance had been good to him he didn’t have any New Republic friends. He had a few contacts in the rank and file, sure, but the fact was that the New Republic didn’t need privateers after signing the Concordance, no matter how firmly those privateers had believed in the cause or how bravely they had served. Nor did they have the time to teach a Klatooinian who had known nothing but the blaster, the grenade, and the lock-pick how to integrate into a society at peace.
“I don’t need any rebels here to get rid of the likes of you. Blaster’s been pointed at you since you sat down at my table,” Carga snarled. “Go take a jump at the Deep Core or take a bolt in the gut, your choice, I’m not signing on with you.”
Again, to his credit the Consortium agent didn’t flinch at the threat, even though Carga really meant it. The human just put both hands on the table’s surface and stood up.
“Pick your place in the galaxy, Endel. Karabast, even pick one of our rivals if they’ll have you. At least then we’ll be trying to kill you as part of business. Keep sniffing around on your own, though, and we’ll end you just to keep a stray from crowding the neighborhood.”
Carga watched the man leave before holstering his heavy blaster pistol, draining his mug, and putting his head in his hands. He didn’t want to go back to being a criminal. Yes he’d killed and stolen during the War, the agent had that right, but it had been for a cause, one that Carga had really believed in. It really was looking like he had no other choice, and he’d do what he had to do in order to survive, but with organizations like the Consortium the only options —
He jerked when the sound of two glasses being put on the table and the chair opposite him being pulled back cut through the ambient noise, and he raised his head. Unsure if he was about to shoot the agent or accept his offer, Carga instead saw a Falleen woman sitting down, raising a glass of what smelled like Whyren’s Reserve whiskey and gesturing to its twin in front of him.
“Drink up, darling. You look like you need it,” the woman said, her voice smooth and her posture laid back. She practically oozed confidence and charm with a single look; Carga knew about the pheromones of the Falleen. The thought of assassination crossed Carga’s mind, but no Hutt-bought killer would waste good whiskey on a target. He reached out, took the glass, and knocked back half, letting out a pleased growl at the burn.
“You’re not wrong. Thanks. And you are?”
“Me? You may call me Zaja. You are the one called Carga, yes? I hear you are looking for employment, and have a discerning eye,” she purred, taking a small sip. Carga looked her over as she spoke; well-dressed, not armed unless she had a concealed weapon, which she probably did. She was quite the well-to-do figure compared to his ragged spacer clothes, beat up gear, and belt of grenades.
“No point in lying about it, I guess. Suppose I should’ve just set up a booth. Who’re you recruiting for?”
“Who? Why, myself, of course,” Zaja said, putting her glass on the table while putting the other hand on her chest. “I have a ship and a crew and a business of my own, and I think someone with your particular skills could be very useful indeed.”
Carga’s eyes narrowed slightly.
“Just you? One ship?”
“Oh, yes, just the one. That’s all I need. If I wanted to be a Commodore I would have joined the Navy, no?” she answered, a sly smile on her face.
“How in all the Corellian Hells does a single-ship outfit know about my problems? I’m not what you’d call famous, lady.”
“Ah, information is our business, Carga. It’s how we make our living, and when half of the syndicates on the Smuggler’s Moon all share interest in a man they either want recruited or killed, well, that’s a data point that catches our eye,” Zaja explained. “Some call us data pirates, which is a crude term if you were to ask my opinion, but it can suffice for our negotiation here.”
“Data pirates, huh? So, what, you’re an aggressive type of info broker? Steal the data, find a buyer?”
“’Aggressive info broker’! I like this much better. It can often be much more nuanced than that, but in essence, yes. I know you had a cause once, Carga, but that cause has seen its proper end. Right now all you have to drive you is survival, but you don’t wish to become an animal to do so, true?”
Carga remained silent for a moment, staring at his glass, before nodding. He heard Zaja hum in acknowledgment.
“No weapons, no spice, no killings, certainly no slaves. Just data. Yes, you will be a criminal again, a real one as opposed to a piratical Rebel, but it is a much cleaner life than what the syndicates will offer you. I think you may even find yourself a better cause than survival, given time.”
Carga looked up to see Zaja looking at him, a sincere expression on her face.
“And if I don’t?”
“Then we drop you off with enough credits to cover any work you have done, no hard feelings. I don’t think that will happen, though, that I do not. The Lost and Found is where everyone goes to find what they need,” she told him, a serene smile on her face.
Lost & Found
A scout vessel more frequently seen on the edges of Wild Space hadn’t exactly been what Carga had expected, but it was hard to miss the words ‘Lost and Found’ stenciled on the nose. A Loronar E-9 Explorer, with its saucer-shaped main body and its elongated neck and bridge section (all looking heavily modified past its factory specifications) awaited Carga as he entered the hangar Zaja had told him about.
As he walked towards it, Zaja herself walked down the ramp, arms wide in a welcoming gesture.
“Ah, our latest compatriot arrives! Welcome aboard, darling! I’ll show you around and introduce you to the crew. Come, come!”
Carga shifted the small pack that held all his worldly possessions and followed his new employer up the ramp. Once inside, the fact that the ship was heavily modified became even more apparent. As Zaja gave him a tour, he noticed that several rooms, probably meant for scientific equipment, had been completely given over to databanks. One such room had been turned into what looked like a wardrobe instead, which Zaja did not immediately explain. He also noticed better weapons, better engines, and a common area that seemed a little more lavish than standard.
There was an Ugnaught and a white and blue BB unit that had a head reminiscent of an R5, with an added platform on top. They were Thraga and BB-05T (a.k.a. Booster) according to Zaja, the mechanics. The diminutive technician had looked at Carga, grunted, and gone back to work, carefully balanced on top of his droid, who tweedled what sounded like a more friendly greeting.
A human woman was introduced as Elessa Thannick, the crew’s military expert. She was standing in the doorway to her room when Zaja’s little tour came across her. Her soldier’s bearing and carefully disguised cybernetic arm seemed incongruous with the posters for some holosoap plastered all over the hull behind her. Elessa’s greeting was more cordial than Thraga’s had been, but her eyes had darted to Carga’s bandana and she spoke with a Coruscanti accent. Carga had asked some careful questions after they left her, and Zaja revealed that they’d picked up Elessa on a little forest moon in a system that went by the name of Endor.
She had been a stormtrooper that Zaja must have picked out of the rubble, or Carga was a nerf. That could be a problem.
The pilot was a Xexto by the name of Apaillia who waved with three hands but otherwise didn’t say much, and Carga immediately labeled them as a recluse. The cockpit looked decidedly lived-in. Some of the stories Zaja told of the pilot’s exploits were encouraging, though. A privateer learned quickly that the one at the helm held everyone’s lives in their hands.
As they were leaving the cockpit there was a sudden clang from below them, and Carga glanced down before giving Zaja an alarmed look.
“Ah, do not worry. That is only young Weemateeka, or Teek as he prefers to be called. He is the Jawa living in our maintenance shafts,” Zaja explained, as if the situation was entirely normal.
“You . . . have a Jawa living in your maintenance spaces?” Carga said, the first words since coming aboard that hadn’t been polite greetings or deceptively casual questions, his tone going incredulous.
“Oh, yes. The only crewmember I did not, strictly speaking, recruit. To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure when or where we picked him up. I do not believe he was aboard when it was just I and Apaillia after that pod-racing business on Malastare and there was no sign of him after Elessa joined us. Thraga found him a month after he came aboard, but other than that, who knows? He has apparently built himself quite the home in there, but he causes no trouble, and provides several invaluable services. You should not say this in front of Thraga, however. He dislikes having to share elbow room, I think.”
“And this will be your room, darling,” Zaja said, finishing the short tour. “We’ll be leaving Nar Shaddaa shortly, so feel free to settle in. Dinner will be in a few hours, and we’ll discuss our next job then, yes?”
Carga nodded politely but didn’t say anything, and Zaja obligingly left him alone. He tossed his pack in the corner and sat down on the bunk, hands on his knees.
What exactly was he getting himself into, here?
To be continued . . .
Special thanks to Kristine Chester, Chris Ing, and and Bart Soroka for bringing Elessa Thannick, Thraga, and Sil’vana “Sil” Der’lek to the table as part of the DfB Season 4 Pregame and the Lost and Found crew, and Ross and the rest of the Dice for Brains team for giving us the chance to play together. Particular thanks to Susan White, who was kind enough to edit this Table Fiction.
You can find the Star Wars stories of the Kido Rebellion, the scroungers of Centares, the Knights of Weik, and the heroes and villains of Bavva, along with Not Another Tavern and some Fantastic Beasts, at Dice for Brains.
The character sheet used for Carga was created by BastionKains.