They may join up in a cantina because they’re desperate. They might not have started off as friends. Some of them fought on different sides of a war. Some might have had to take a (more literal than usual) leap of faith. Adventuring crews often start off as a ragtag bunch of misfits, and in some ways that may never change . . . but over time all the good ones come together to become something more. As our tale of the crew of the Lost and Found comes to a close, the various members notice something going on with their Captain, head to the planet of Centares, and offer some new people a home among the stars. If you haven’t listened to Season 4 of Dice for Brains, now’s the time . . .
“Hey, has Zaja seemed a little . . . weird to you guys lately?”
Carga frowned slightly at Sil’s question, turning back to the four-way dejarik game after raiding the galley’s bar, putting everyone’s drinks on the table.
“What do you mean? Weird how?” he asked, sitting back down and eyeing the creatures on the board, noting that Elessa was probably going to slaughter them. Again.
“I don’t know. A little . . . out of it? Quiet, almost? Kind of distracted? I double-checked the numbers on the Dahvil job, and her calculations were 0.045% off!”
“Only a walkin’ computer like yerself would even notice such a discrepancy, lad,” Thraga replied, frowning at the board as sure enough Elessa’s gundark threw his bantha to the ground. “Still, ya might have a point. She’s been spendin’ a lot of her time in her quarters to be sure, and our holocomm usage has spiked again.”
“Wasn’t the last time that happened because of Teek?” Carga pointed out, sipping his whiskey and trying to find a way to avoid that kriffing gundark himself.
“Aye, never-to-be-sufficiently-cursed Jawa caught himself an addiction to Chandrilan political documentaries, of all the things in the galaxy he could be watchin’. Had a wee chat with him, though, and it’s not him this time. Too busy tailorin’ our fancy clothes after what happened to ‘em on Canto Bight.”
Carga winced slightly; that one had been his fault. There’d been a Hutt, and Carga may have known him from his time as a slave, and since Sil had turned out to be a decent medic and chemist as well he may have convinced the Givin to mix up something special to slip in the slug’s food . . .
It had been messy.
“She’s probably just got her mind on a new job. She’s been pacing the cage, so to speak, ever since we got that GNN footage. She’s planning something big,” he wagered before pressing some buttons on the table and sending his nexu darting across the map.
“It’s not just that,” Elessa said, smirking slightly as her gundark snatched up the nexu despite Carga’s best efforts. “Zaja . . . is in love.”
Carga and the others all turned to look at her, a mix of incredulous, surprised, and . . . whatever expression that was for Givin.
“You’ve been watchin’ too much of that Heights and Depths tripe, Elessa, I keep on tellin’ ya’.“ Thraga began shaking his head, but Elessa shook hers in reply and leaned forward.
“No, I’m serious,” she said, eyes lighting up in the way Carga usually associated with her talking about small unit tactics or, well, Heights and Depths. “I keep catching her smiling at nothing, and last week I overheard her reading poetry. A love poem.”
“Well, I mean, it’s Zaja. She’s pretty cultured, reads a lot. Ya know what they say on Zeltros-“
“The poem was talking about her.”
Sil cut off mid-saying and stared at Elessa. Carga did the same, and he could see Thraga was as well. Zaja was a lot of things, and she had her flaws the same as anyone, but being narcissistic wasn’t one of them. She wasn’t likely to be writing love poems to herself in the third person.
“Huh.” Carga bought time to say something a little more intricate than that with another sip. “And she’s been smiling? Usually she, uh, doesn’t take that sort of thing very well.”
Thraga was nodding, and the quartet shared a few concerned looks. Zaja didn’t talk about her personal life outside of the Lost and Found’s routine very much, even as friendly with the crew as she was, but you only had to be through one Serious Talk involving the space suit to get a hint about one facet.
When it came to affairs of the heart, Zaja hated her pheromones with a passion that no Rebel or Imperial had ever managed against the other.
Elessa had gotten to the core of it over a few ales with Zaja back when the crew was just them, Apaillia, and (maybe) a Jawa that had snuck aboard. Combined with the force of her actual personality Zaja’s pheromones let her convince anyone not outright hostile to her, and sometimes even then, to see things her way or at least consider her words. On the job, that was excellent. With the crew? Well enough, and the space suit came out for when she wanted to clear the air. Love, though?
“How can I trust that another’s affection for me is legitimate and not just a product of chemicals, darling? I can’t control it, and few can resist it, and I won’t settle for less than the real thing. Other Falleen can take advantage, darling, but not I.”
That’s what she’d told Elessa, and the rest of them had found out about it eventually; Thraga had told Carga when he’d noticed Zaja reacting badly to a mark continuing to message her after a job, and the Ugnaught’s warning had saved Carga from putting his foot in his mouth.
“Might be that she’s talkin’ to this fellow over the holocomm. Maybe she met ‘im that way. If she hasn’t met ‘im in person yet but he’s still all lovey-dovey . . . well, she might be able to trust that, I suppose,” Thraga said, absentmindedly gesturing for Booster to bring the table some more snacks. “Your turn, Sil.”
“I think that’s exactly what happened, and it’s about kriffing time,” Elessa declared, pointing a finger at Thraga for emphasis.
“Agreed,” Carga said. “Look how many of us she’s given a break. Only fair the galaxy should give the boss one too.”
“Yeah, it sounds nice. Ya know what they say on Nar Shaddaa?”
“Sil, hurry up and take yer turn!”
“Hey, how’d you know?”
Lost & Found
“This town hurts to look at,” Carga grumbled as the quartet walked down the ramp to get the dust of Centares on their boots for the first time. The neon advertisements glared at them from every conceivable surface of New Oldtown in a garish display of the Corporate Sector Authority’s determination to make credits using every possible resource.
“Now you know how the rest of us feel when we’re looking at you, Carga,” Elessa quipped, although the way she was squinting told him she agreed.
“The calculations the architects must have had to do in order to take advantage of every possible centimeter of space must have been quite extensive, to cover the entire city like this. I wonder if a Givin was involved . . .”
“That’s neither here nor there, you lot. We’ve got ourselves a job to do, and we’re goin’ to do it, and let’s try avoidin’ any distractions and mischief-makin’ this time, eh?” Thraga piped up.
“Well, I mean, we can probably afford some distraction, right? I mean, Height and Depths Night is tonight! What are the odds we’d end up on this planet at the same time? It must be fate! Like that one episode with Madame Fortuna-”
“For the love of – no! Bad data pirate! Bad! No slackin’ off to go ogle yer holosoap stars! Playin’ it on marathon in the common area once a month is enough!”
As Elessa kept pointing out how much fun it could be and Thraga did everything to convince her it was a bad idea Carga nodded to Zaja as she walked past them and headed out into the city on her own. She had some personal business to take care of, apparently, and the gossip among the crew was that it was her holocomm paramour.
“What precisely is the job, Thraga?” Sil asked.
“Well, seems there’s a New Republic base gettin’ sold off fer scrap,” the Ugnaught replied with a huff, seeming glad for a reprieve from Elessa’s relentless Heights and Depths enthusiasm. “That includes datacores. We’re to make the rounds, see if there’s anythin’ interestin’, and acquire the goods however we can. Zaja did a bit o’ research and there are a few auction lots in specific she wants to keep an eye on, but other than tha’ we’re to just hunt fer opportunities.”
“Sounds easy enough,” Carga remarked. “Just have to avoid irritating the Espos. Again.”
“See, now, this is exactly what I’m talkin’ about, we don’t need a repeat of Bonadan-”
“Cantinas are probably a good place to start getting the lay of the land,” Elessa interrupted, datapad in hand and business face on as she scanned a map of the city. “Any rumors about what is getting sold off could be helpful . . . here is one. Hmm. Mos Nicely?”
“Mos Nicely?” When Elessa nodded Carga sighed. “Why do I have a feeling I’m going to be professionally offended by this place?”
“It does sound like a tourist trap, doesn’t it?” she said, grimacing a bit.
“Fer once I agree with the pair of ya, but a place to start is a place to start. Come on Booster!”
Thraga began marching his way out of the spaceport, and the other three and his droid followed.
“I think it sounds wonderful!” Sil was saying. “Know what they say on Tattooine? ‘Two suns or one, job’s gotta get done!’ And hey, maybe we can just buy the cores at auction and the job will be a piece of rhyscate.”
Lost & Found
“I can’t believe you killed Biff Brashammer! I loved that guy!”
Carga threw up his hands in frustration, the glass of Whyren’s Reserve in one hand sloshing dangerously.
“By the Fountain of the Ancients, I did not kill Biff Brashammer! Why does everyone keep saying that!?” he demanded. “Sil’s the one who mixed up that little cocktail to make him loopy during the auction the next day, Not that I think he could have gotten any loopier, seeing as how I convinced him to drink it by being dressed up as the sheriff from Heights and Depths and saying it was his civic duty. He shouldn’t have been drinking in the first place! He probably dropped dead on his own, anyways, it’s just a twist of the cosmic dice that he died in our arms while we were loading him into his limo.”
“Wait, hold on, you were dressed as the sheriff? How did that happen?” Lon Zebu asked, apparently distracted from being upset about the boloball player’s demise by the mental image of a Klatooinian in a three-piece suit with a long black duster.
“Because our plans come with more style than sense, as often as not. Now why does the notion occur to me that you and yours aren’t exactly goin’ to be reversin’ that trend?” Thraga piped up from down by their knees. He was doing his I’m-an-old-man-get-off-my-starship routine again, although Carga had noticed him eyeing Lon’s gear with a considering eye.
“I thought we all looked really nice!” Sil added. “Plus Elessa really enjoyed that we were all dressed up as her favorite characters. It was a fun club, too! Turns out I’m not very good at dancing on bars, though.”
Carga grinned and looked at the rest of the common area; they were three days away from Centares, and Zaja had declared they were to have a small party to celebrate another successful job and the new additions to the crew. Zaja herself and the one called Tonk were curled up together in a chair, quietly chatting with smiles on their faces. The little old Aleena and the Falleen were an odd couple, but there was no doubt they were happy. Apaillia had come out of the cockpit for a change, and even Teek had emerged from the vents; Carga couldn’t catch much of their conversation, but he was pretty sure they were having a friendly argument about engine modifications. The new human, Darlene, who was apparently actually a droid of some kind, was a fair bit cagier than Lon but was being steadily drawn out of her shell by Elessa, who was thrilled to find another Heights and Depths fan of equal fervor.
Carga Endel had walked up that ramp on Nar Shaddaa a little more than three years ago at this point, and he wasn’t entirely sure where along the way he’d found that cause Zaja had promised him. It was right here, though. Thraga would call them crew, Elessa would call them a squad, he would call them a pack, Sil would call them friends.
Zaja would call them family, and none of them would disagree.
The Lost and Found wasn’t just the name of the ship, it was the name for the people who crewed her. They’d all been lost, crawling away from shattered lives, shattered causes, and shattered ships. Zaja had found them and brought them all together, and in the end that was all they needed. Now three more had joined them, leaving behind a shattered salvage shop.
Carga let out a sharp bark, and all eyes drew to him. He raised his glass with a grin, gesturing to the three newcomers.
“A toast, huh? To the Lost!”
Zaja, Apaillia, Teek, Thraga, Sil, and Elessa raised their own glasses to Tonk, Lon, and Darlene, and the seven old hands joined voices together to welcome the three new members of the family.
“Now the Found!”
The End . . . ?
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 vehicle sheet used for the Lost and Found was created by BastionKains.
Thank you for reading, and May the Force Be With You!