Sometimes it’s the last ones to arrive that end up being the secret sauce that make an adventuring party, and even a campaign, fully coalesce into something truly memorable. It was that way with White Coat and High Impact Heroics, it was that way with first Caleb and Patience and then the Alliance troops aboard the Borrowed Time, and so it was with the crew of the Lost and Found. The Dice for Brains Season 4 Pregame crew was coming together pretty solidly as a band of ne’er-do-wells, but even with Zaja they might not have turned out as friendly without the help of their final member, who certainly made an interesting first impression (on the hull) . . .
It was a few months after the successful completion of the Karazak job, and for once the Lost and Found was on a strict salvage run. Zaja’s contacts had let her know that a small exploration vessel, probably not too dissimilar from the E-9, had fun afoul of . . . somebody while trying to cut through the Mandalore system. Apparently, the ship’s wreck was still floating out there, which was why they’d just dropped out of hyperspace on the edges of the system. Zaja figured that the vessel’s databanks might have some interesting files depending on where the explorers had been, and if that proved a wash then at least they’d be able to strip it for parts, materials, and maybe even food if the ration packs such ships usually carried had survived.
Thraga and Booster were getting all kitted out to begin cutting parts off of the stricken ship, Zaja was up in the cockpit with Apaillia, but Carga and Elessa were going to idle away the time with a no-credits game of pazaak. Unless something went wrong, they wouldn’t have anything to do but get in the way, so they’d resolved to enjoy the break. The ship was just starting its final approach, and the pair were just starting to have a friendly bickering match over the rules, when a dull clang echoed through the ship.
“Wha’ in the bone-crushing depths o’ Bespin was tha’!?” Thraga yelled, tossing a plasma torch to Booster, who barely managed to catch it with a manipulator. “Apaillia, are you after havin’ run us inta some debris!? What, in the name of all the void, is the point of salvagin’ spare parts if you’re gonna break the original parts in the process of the salvagin’!?”
The Ugnaught was saying the last part as he stormed out of the common area towards the cockpit, the closing hatch cutting him off just as he began a particularly scathing criticism involving the idea that maybe if Xexto had as many eyes as they had arms they wouldn’t be flying into things.
Carga chuckled a bit, more at poor Booster trying to balance the large torch than anything else.
“Well, there goes Apaillia’s good day. Zaja’s going to have a time calming Thraga down. Alright, come on, deal ‘em out buckethead,” he said, waving to the cards.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever the Rebel Scum says. But no ‘table-filling’ rule. If you’ve got nine cards on the table you’d damn well better have been able to win with them already,” Elessa shot back, shuffling the cards one last time before setting up the side decks.
They’d managed to get a few rounds in before they heard another clang, not as loud as the first, and they made a few quips about Ugnaughts tying a Xexto’s arms into knots before they heard a second clang, and then a third, and then a fourth, in a steady rhythm.
Carga’s brow furrowed as he looked up from his cards at Elessa, somewhat comforted by the fact that the human was wearing her species’ version of the same expression.
“Is that-?” he started to say before stopping to look over at his shoulder at the airlock.
“Knocking?” Elessa finished for him, doing the same. When the rhythmic clangs returned the pair looked at one another again before nodding, drawing their weapons, and walking over to the airlock. It was a simple two-hatch affair, with small transparisteel portholes to look through.
The pair looked through the interior hatch’s porthole, startling slightly when the knocking sound came yet again.
“I’m not entirely sure what we’re even going to do, here,” Elessa began. “We should probably get Thraga. I mean, it has to be some debris that’s caught on the hull, so it’s probably not safe to go EV and-“
There was a flicker of movement, and a skull leered at the pair through the exterior porthole.
Carga and Elessa began screaming.
A skeletal hand came up next to the skull and gave a little wave.
The screaming ended on a baffled and questioning note.
Lost & Found
Sil’vana Der’lek hadn’t exactly filled out after he’d literally jumped aboard in the Mandalore system – a Givin’s exoskeleton didn’t work that way – but ‘Sil’ was still looking better as he stepped into the Lost and Found’s airlock again, this time on the way out. Escaping the wrecked exploration vessel after struggling to survive and getting some food and water in him had done wonders, and Zaja had declared the Mandalore job as an unmitigated success.
“Anybody who can calculate the trajectory for an unassisted jump between two moving starships is worth their weight in aurodium – eat up, darling – and that doesn’t even account for his talent with computers. Or the ability to survive in hard vacuum! He’s staying, and that’s that,” Zaja had said while she hovered over her latest stray in the Lost and Found’s galley, having gotten his story out of him and then promptly begun the recruitment pitch. Thraga had been the one kicking up a stink, again, but Carga was beginning to realize that the Ugnaught just had his own weird way of helping to integrate newcomers. He’d raise objections, and Zaja would counter with all the reasons why a newcomer would be a fantastic addition to the crew, and despite constant grumbling Thraga never seemed to then make life difficult for the new recruit.
Granted there was that time he’d gotten into Carga’s stash of thermal detonators and used the ignition switches for some gizmo or other before blaming it on Teek, but Carga figured that was just a mechanic thing.
“Alright, now remember what I taught you Sil. Once you’re in, stay small, stay quiet. Don’t engage anyone, even if they’re in your way. Just stay hidden and wait them out. Anything goes wrong, ping us on the coms and we’ll come in blasters blazing,” Carga was saying as the airlock sealed Sil off from the rest of the ship.
“Agreed. Simply make it to the engineering section, darling, and work your magic once you can do so safely,” Zaja said, looking over Carga’s shoulder.
“Got it guys! I won’t let you down! After all, ya know what they say on Dac! Blub-blub-blub!”
That earned a few pairs of rolling eyes; Sil was a fountain of phrases like that, apparently picked up in his ‘travels from one end of the galaxy to the next and back again’. He was relentless with them, and even the well-traveled crew couldn’t tell if he’d actually heard them or was just making them up.
Still, the Givin had proven particularly eager to fit in, which had led to no small amount of the aforementioned Thraga-grumbling and a few cutting remarks from Elessa that had probably come out meaner than she’d intended, but that eagerness had eventually worked and he’d integrated relatively well.
Which is why Zaja trusted Sil enough to tell him to jump out the airlock towards the XS-800 that was down the docking ring of the Dac shipyards from the Lost and Found.
It was a tense hour. Elessa kept removing and reloading her E-11’s power pack, Carga kept tapping the grip of his heavy blaster pistol, and Thraga kept tinkering with something. Apaillia had locked themselves in the cockpit, and from the clanging in the ducts even Teek had figured out that something was going on. Zaja, unsurprisingly, remained a bastion of calm. She didn’t pace, she didn’t fiddle, she didn’t mutter under her breath. She simply waited until, sure enough, the XS-800 lifted off from its berth and began to coast towards the Lost and Found.
Elessa and Carga stacked up on the airlock as the other freighter latched on and the hatches cycled open, revealing Sil standing there with the posture that was his species’ version of a smile. He’d made the jump, sliced the hatches to let himself in, and then slaved the freighter’s controls to a station in the engine room.
“Worked like a charm! I’ve cut the coms so they can’t call out, too. Most of them were asleep, but, uh,” he announced as shouting started from further in the vessel, “I’m pretty sure they’re starting to notice.”
Elessa didn’t say anything in response, nodding curtly before moving in with her blaster rifle raised, a stun bolt taking a figure that suddenly dashed into the open. Carga offered Sil a smile that was all teeth and a firm pat on the shoulder before following the former stormtrooper, blaster pistol in one hand and a knockout grenade in the other. ‘Unmitigated success’ was right.
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 Sil was created by BastionKains.