Title: Home Sweet Home
Ixtren - April 17, 2009 06:10 PM (GMT)
It felt good to be back on Mandalore. With familiar comfort, Ixtren once again walked into his favorite cantina, the unofficial office of the Mandalore. Walking in, Ixtren noticed that the news was on. GA reporters were covering an "unexpected coup in Hutt Space."
It seemed Saul managed to pull off his little plan.
Ixtren just smiled. Now the Mandalorians would have a Hutt ally. Most Mandos wouldn't think much of it. They worked for Hutts from time to time, especially in the bounty hunter business, but no Mando ever respected them. Of course, none of them had ever met Saul.
He's a different kind of worm. Something to keep an eye on.
Ignoring the holoscreens, Ixtren wandered over to the bar for a drink. In the mirror behind the counter he noticed HK-00 sneaking up behind him.
"So H-K, how's life treating you?" Ixtren smiled, not bothering to turn around.
An N7 astromech droid wheeled up to his stool. "Observation: Life has a strange sense of humor, master. I found that assassination is far more easier now that I've disguised myself as an astromech droid."
"Disguised!" Ixtren coughed on a swig of ale.
"Statement: The facts are ambiguous. Fate and acceptance go hand in hand."
"You mean 'disguise' sounds better than 'some meatbag got the one up on me and I ended up in the hands of a droid maker who mistakenly put my processor in an astromech shell'?"
He smiled. "Well H-K, why don't you come up here and we'll see if we can't think of someone interesting to kill."
"Gratification: Master, you are a meatbag after my own heart. Who shall we kill?"
Taking a moment to ponder the seemingly amusing question, Ixtren slowly spun his glass in a circle. "Well there are some reports of union disputes on Gargon, kriffing mining syndicate has all the offworld miners threatening a strike. We could take out the syndicate's president, put his head on a pike for all to see. Might diffuse the situation."
HK-00's head swiveled as he rode up a specially installed ramp to the bar. "Observation: But that meatbag would provide no sport, master. Though beheadings can be enjoyable. All that crimson spilling across the floor..."
Ixtren shook his head as he swore the droid was reliving some old, cherished memory of a beheaded victim. "Sport, hey? Hmm..."
HK-00's primary optical sensor lit up in intensity. "Suggestion: Perhaps we could kill the metal slug that's been on the news, master? He looks rather formidable for a Hutt. He's sure to have a lot of challenging security we would have to slaughter first. And he's big enough for a dual effort"
"No no no, that we cannot do. I'll have you know that I just got back from Hutt Space and we are now 'allies' with that 'metal slug.' So your fantasies will just have to end there."
His photoreceptor dulled in disappointment. "Regret: That is a shame, master. You eliminated a favorable kill. Do try to refrain from such alliances in the future."
"I'll keep it in mind, H-K. Have you seen Tahg lately?"
"Statement: Yes, he went out to get Merker when he received word of your arrival. Your council will be here shortly."
Council. Ixtren let out another laugh. "Good. This whole Hutt alliance will probably need some discussion. We'll have a lot to do now."
HK's receptors perked up. "Query: Are we getting ready for war, master?"
Solemnly, Ixtren nodded yes. "Sooner than we expected. This 'metal Hutt,' as you called him, is just the catalyst we needed. The GA can't meddle around with their area of space too well, and if I got a good bead on Saul, I'd say he's looking to expand Hutt Space-"
"Correction: Hutt Empire."
"What?" Ixtren's helmet turned in surprise.
HK-00 spun his head toward the holoscreens. Sure enough, Ixtren looked and saw the news scrolling a status update on the 'newly formed Hutt Empire under the rule of Emperor Saul, the new ruler of Hutt Space.'
"Huh. This'll be interesting."
The Mandalorian bartender, listening to the conversation, leaned in. "This Saul guy being our new ally and all, him being emperor wouldn't put him over you, would it, Mandalore?"
"No." He said calmly. "That point was made quite clearly. Besides, Saul doesn't know about our moves in Imperial Space. Even if for some reason he were to turn on us, the Imperials would help us out. And Hutt Empire or no Hutt Empire, he doesn't have the ships to take on the Imps. They're what Empire is all about."
Zhu E'Ren - June 9, 2009 08:27 PM (GMT)
Lian Hongse stalked the MandalMotors shipyards. Yes, they were certainly preparing for war yet again. Then again, these were the Mandalorians- they were either preparing for war, or engaging in it, and it had been some time since Hongse had heard of the Mandalorians invading anybody.
Hongse wore his traditional Elite armor, sturdy enough to pass as a member of the Mandalorian Super Troopers while light enough to give him full maneuverability. Alchemically tempered by his own hand over a hundred years earlier, it was able to resist most energy weapons and resist a blow capable of denting regular beskar. He wore a specially made helmet with the same properties, allowing him to move along the Mandalorians relatively freely. Only a Trooper who was able to sense the Force signature of the armor would have any reason to doubt its authenticity- but then, such a Trooper would have other reasons to confront Hongse soon. Purple wings protuded from the back of his armor, reminding any who met him of the rumors of the unfortunate S'kytri who had come to their planet for escape from persecution on his homeworld.
While his heart ached to make the first strike, the Arian Elder knew patience was of paramount importance on this mission. Today, he was here for information. Information would be all he left with, and he would leave nothing behind except for reason to be comfortable with his presence.
Having experienced many Mandalorian ships already, the spy turned his gaze to the experimental wing. Like the other large wings of the shipyard, there were hulking armed and armored Mandalorians standing at every entrance point. The difference this time, though, was that there were more Mandalorians, and they were more hulking. Judging by their armor, they were somehow more Mandalorian as well, though the distinction was lost on the outsider, much to his disappointment.
As the Elder strolled casually toward the guards to this section, one of them barked at him in the brutish language the Mandalorians tended to use. Ignoring the synax- which could easily be misinterpreted or even spoken in some horrible vernacular- Hongse listened in the Force. Who are you, and what is your purpose here?
The Arian took a moment to laugh in his mind at the horrid system the Mandalorians used. True to their barbaric nature, all but their most advanced security techniques relied on voice and face recognition, among other things. Even the most weak-minded Arian warrior could not be tricked into believing any form of identification other than the armor of his superior. But here this humanoid was, practically asking to be deceived.
Leaning on both his Beast-speech and a minute touch of Force persuasion, Hongse's mouth spewed forth the Mandalorians' "language". "I am Doo Knott, and Mand'alore," he paused, allowing the Mand'alore's name to float to the top of the lead guard's mind, but did not speak it. "Has demanded that I apply my engineering experience to," he paused again, dramatically, and glanced slowly around the public hangar. The guard growled something, and then rushed him into the secret construction hangar before the blasted fool said something out loud.
Hongse took a look at the ship that was under construction in the hangar, and was amazed.
Ixtren - June 10, 2009 07:53 PM (GMT)
As Ixtren waited at the bar with HK-00, Tahg and Merker strolled in. Not far behind them was Bellos, Jener, and Stazi.
Turning around slowly, with an ale in his hand, Ixtren smiled at his comrades. "Council's in session gentlemen and lady." He waved a hand for them to take a seat at the bar, their usual place of business. "We've got a lot to talk about today. Best to get right to things...bartender, round of ales."
Tahg was wearing his heavy suit of black and gray inlaid beskar. It was bulkier than the standard suit, thickly cast for superior protection at a great cost to weight and mobility. Then again, Tahg was already a large man, and the increase in weight barely made a difference to him. He put his helmet down on the bar just as a cold, frosted ale appeared before him.
The bartender nodded to Bellos, a courtesy to the thanks, he laid out the glasses for the others.
Tahg was dark skinned, almost pitch black, all except for the four gold crescents pasted around each eye. Some sort of ornamental jewelry he picked up on some planet. It added a certain mystique to his character, as if his eyes glowed like tiny suns.
On Ixtren's right was the beautiful Merker. She was from Lorrd, and often slipped in and out of talkative states. Sometimes she'd go an entire week without uttering a single word. She also had a large crush on the Mandalore.
"So Ixtry, what's this I hear about us working with the slugs? I never figured you for a Hutt lover."
Ixtren flashed a sly grin. "You know I never mix business and pleasure, my dear." A laugh reverberated between all of them before Ixtren fixed on a serious tone and continued. "But yes, it's true. I met with Saul and we worked out a deal. We provide them with beskar, and they provide us with ships and shipyards. A mutual alliance, and an unspoken military alliance. When the time comes, we'll not find ourselves alone in battle. Not this time."
Tahg cleared his throat. "Mandalore, how soon?"
Looking over, Ixtren could see the eager vengeance moldering on Tahg's ebony face. "Not that soon. It'll take some time to build ships, even with the Hutt's help."
"But what about the Hutt's fleet? Judging by the Holofeeds coming out of Nal Hutta, they've got a thousand ships greased for battle."
A thousand ships. Pickets, frigates, cruisers, battleships, and dreadnaughts. I certainly caught a glimpse of them. Ixtren looked over at Jener who had spoken last. "That's our insurance. If something should happen before we are ready, we'll have the Hutt fleet to draw upon. Saul knows this. In fact, I think he's rather looking forward to it. As good as his crews may be, he knows they'd be fifty percent better with Mandalorians on board. And to him, the small scrap of a fleet that we have would make an excellent spearhead unit. An elite auxiliary. A trophy unit." He took a sip from his glass letting some of his bitterness simmer down. "That is why we wait. I'd rather go into battle when we can act independently, rather than having to rely on the Hutts."
Jener's voice lowered to a whisper. "What about the Imperials?"
"They, too, are building. From what I gathered from their Emperor, he'll value the additional units that the Hutt's can provide. But for right now it's a waiting game. We're all building like mad until somebody hits the switch."
There was a moment of silence as they all pondered the situation. Ales quietly disappeared and another round was brought out.
"Next line of business, how's the fleet?"
Bellos pulled out a datapad hidden somewhere among his arsenal of pouches. "Fighter production is about 12 a week, most of our focus has been on refitting the cruiser hulls still skulking in orbit. As is, we've got nine cruiser hulls in various stages of completion: two of them skeletons, three only a quarter-way completed, two at the half way mark, and two that could be pushed into service if necessary. Another month and those two will be fully completed. Beyond that, there's a lot of frigates, most of them light. Right now we're not giving them much focus. Our current fleet strength is one Chaavla, one Adenn, three Ordos, thirteen Akaans, one hundred and forty eight Jai'galaars, 300 Al-kesh, and near a thousand Bes'uliik."
The Mandalore rolled the numbers around his head. "Certainly enough to defend the system, yet not quite enough to split into two." Everyone agreed. "How's the Grendel coming along?"
The Grendel was a Chaavla battleship that had been badly damaged in the war. It would have been scraped and recycled for the beskar, but with only one working Chaavla in the fleet, it was decided to try and repair it.
Bellos let out a sigh. "Mandalore, in all respect I still think we should have cannibalized it for the beskar. The Grendel is half dead. No starboard side weapons whatsoever. The armor's fine, entirely intact, but she's only got one working primary engine and two sublights. If we put full effort into fixing her up, she might be ready in four months, but we simply don't have the resources to spare."
Resources... "Bellos, what if you take into account the Hutt shipyards?"
That broke the grim blockage on Bellos' face. Even though Ixtren had mentioned the Hutt shipyards before, none of them had grasped the true significance of it, but now the realization was beginning to dawn.
"Well Mandalore, that would certainly change things." He started typing on his datapad. "SSC and GSI's collective yards would change things quite a bit. Conceivably..." Ideas starting pouring through, "...with a little ingenuity, some modifications...well, we could have the Grendel up in running in three, maybe two months."
Ixtren was following right along with Bellos' thoughts. "And the frigates?"
A big grin bloomed as their minds fell in sync. "Hell, we could mass overhaul the whole lot! Maybe, four months, tops!"
The eager excitement was growing amongst all of them. Merker was literally beaming. "Ixtry, why didn't you tell us about this little scheme, you dirty little mynock. You were planning on this all along!"
Now the Mandalore let his smile grow ear-to-ear as he reclined in his stool. "I can't take all the credit. H-K here was the one who spotted the numbers. When the Hutt's mentioned they wanted a meeting, well, it seemed like a good opportunity."
"Shipyards." Tahg's voice had that stunned quality. "Osik. You're a genius Ixtren. A shabla genius."
But did the rest of the galaxy realize it?
Of course not. At least, not yet. The Mandalorian-Hutt alliance was still relatively secret. But when the word did spread, would they make the connection between the thriving Hutt shipyards and the stockpile of Mandalorian resources? All that salvaged beskar? The millions of misplaced, out of work Mandalorians? An entire culture ready for war but without a workshop to build their toys?
Things were changing all right. And with the mysterious agenda of the Imperials, even the Mandalore wasn't for sure what would happen.
Zhu E'XingXin - June 26, 2009 03:23 AM (GMT)
Zhu E'XingXin was pleased with the report Hongse had delivered. The Mandalorians were building another fleet, and a powerful one from the shoddy spycam shots she was looking at. It seemed as if the Mandos were working on their ground support and were coming along very well.
As well as she knew Hongse and his ways, Xing also knew that what needed to be done was a personal view of the Mando forces. Looking out at her own fleet she smiled. It would only be a matter of time before she could sense the fear growing in their hearts. The last time she had encountered the Mandalorians she did not have the pleasure of meeting the Mandalor face to face.
This time could be different. This time there could be a very interesting meeting.
She would look forward to it as she messaged her brother that he was needed aboard the Harper's Way. It was time to start a war.
Ixtren - June 29, 2009 05:55 PM (GMT)
Things were getting boring down on the surface. With all his duties fulfilled, he really didn't have anything better to do.
So he decided to go on a little trip.
Taking his personal bodyguard with him, Ixtren hopped on a shuttle and flew up into orbit, quickly docking with the Skirata's Blade, the flagship of the Mandalorian fleet, their sole surviving Chaavla battleship, besides the dead Grendel.
After a quick ride on the turbolifts, he was up on the bridge, armored heels clinking on the deck. "Admiral Besau, how's my ship?"
Walon Besau turned his light green armor in a calculating pose. "Mandalore, your flagship merely awaits your command." He continued in a much less official tone, "Please tell me we're going to get to blow something up."
Ixtren popped off his helmet and smiled. "You know what Walon, since you said please..."
The admiral flashed a ferocious grin accented by his wild flowing beard. "So Ixtren, you ready to take us out for a spin?"
"You hit the womp rat on the head. I was just saying to my advisers that we needed to make sure the fleet was in proper running shape."
"I bet you did. Right about the time you were bored out of your mind with endless flimsies to sign."
Ixtren put his hands up in surrender. "You got me. I figured we could take it around the block. Simple sweep of the system. It'll give us a chance to gun the engines and maybe we'll find an asteroid to blow up."
"Sounds good, Mandalore. I'll pass along the order so our escorts can follow." Walon waved over the bridge captain and relayed the orders.
Meanwhile Ixtren had caught hold of an awful odor. Finally he couldn't stand it any longer. "Uh, Walon, is there something dead in the vents? You haven't been stashing bodies, have you?"
The admiral hesitated a moment as he tried to figure out what the Mandalore was talking about. "Oh, the smell. Yes, yes, I'd actually completely forgot about it. You'll get used to quick enough."
"But what is it?"
"Ysalamiri. Bellos traded a full load of beskar for the shabla things, nutrient carriers and all. He placed a few of them here on the bridge, hidden behind the walls, that's why the vents catch hold of their scent. I believe there's one in your quarters on board as well. Better get used to it."
Ixtren let out a snort. "Never realized they smelled like that. Guess they might come in handy though." He walked over to the elevated command deck on the ships bridge.
Unlike the Star Destroyers, the Mandalorian ships didn't have crew pits or elevated walkways on the bridge. Nor was their a single captain's chair dominating the deck. Instead there was three circular levels descended as you reached the main viewport. The lowest level was the 'operations floor.' It was there that crews actually flew the ship, operated life support systems, communications, and the bridge gunnery controls. The next level was the 'observation floor' where all the readouts were monitored. The upper level was the 'command floor.' From here the commanders had a view of every screen and officer. There was a dozen chairs so observers could attend the bridge without interfering with the crew's duties. The central chair was reserved for the ship's permanent captain. According to Mandalorian doctrine, the chair to the captain's right was reserved the for the ship's ranking officer, while the chair to the left was for the second ranking officer. Afterwards all chairs could be filled out for whoever, regardless of rank.
As such, Ixtren took the chair to the captain's left. "Captain Neidt, how have things been in my absence?"
"Very good Mandalore."
"And the kids?"
Captain Neidt smiled. "There getting into all sorts of trouble, Mandalore, but Cerri will straighten them out."
"I have no doubt she will." Ixtren spared a glance at the main viewport. The star were dancing out in the blackness of space with the Mandalore System's primary blazing galliantly off to the side. "Ease us out captain."
And so Skirata's Blade ease out of the planet's gravity well with a small pack of escorts. The Chaavla-class battleship was nearly 2,000 meters long and bristled a 140 guns, all short ranged turbolasers. It wasn't a terribly fast ship, nor did it have impressive shields, but it was absolutely laden in armor. It was designed like a battle axe. Once it closed range, it could tear a man to pieces. And with beskar armor, it could take all the punishment necessary to get there.
And so the Mandalore went off to cruise around the system. What he didn't know was that his joyride was about to turn into something far more treacherous.
Ixtren - July 13, 2009 01:20 PM (GMT)
As Ixtren's little task force did the full tour of the system, a hidden Arian Fleet loomed on the horizon, on the far outskirts of the system blanketed in the deep, luscious folds of blackness. They were only two short microjumps away.
According to the Arian plan, they would hide behind the thin asteroid belt known as the Strill Ring. The fleet would do one mirco jump to clear the ring, then a second to place themselves before the Mandalorian Fleet parked above Mandalore.
It would be quick and simple, the beginnings of an excellent plan.
However, as will all operations, something unexpected happened.
During the first microjump, Harper's Way, the Arian's flagship, suffered a catastrophic system's malfunction to their primary navicomputer array. It seemed one of the power converters blew a relay as well as the redundant safeties. The power surge had slammed into navicomputer circuits with devastating effect, frying the motherboards. But the surge hadn't ended there. It continued along the ship's spine and blew out a pressurized coolant tank in the engine room. The explosion from the tank consequently propelled a valve wheel into the hyperdrive casing causing a dangerous crack to fissure across its hemispherical dome.
One calamity after another fell upon them like a line of Ryn dominos.
For a brief moment, Zhu E'XingXin contemplated going ahead with the attack, but already the crew was seeing the events as a bad omen. She knew how superstitious crews could be, and she couldn't afford sending her primary battleship into action with a fractured morale. So, thinking on the fly, she made a fleet wide announcement, a very reluctant announcement. The mission would be postponed. Now was not the time for their vengeance.
So Ixtren's ship cruised the Mandalore system oblivious to the threat that had loomed before. He entertained his crew by killing a space slug that had made itself home in the Strill Ring. With the Mandalorian's primitive urges of destruction filled, they all headed home.
No one would ever know how history might have been averted. How a war might have been stopped before it started. It was a chance that would not come again.
Ixtren - September 28, 2009 02:34 PM (GMT)
Two days later...
"Mandalore, here is the hut'uunla chakaar. We found him snooping around the hangars. No one knows who he is."
Ixtren nodded to Jaerell, the blue armored Mandalorian was a trusted warrior and commander. "Judging by his looks, I'd say he's either a S'kytri or an Arian." Ixtren had his helmet off, he threw a cold, steely gaze at the winged humanoid before him. "So? What are you?"
The prisoner spat in the Mandalore's face.
What Ixtren did next actually sent a visible shiver through the prisoner. The man's darkish complexion turned bone white.
The Mandalore had smiled.
"An Arian. I should have guessed." Ixtren pulled out a rag and wiped the spittle from his face. "Well now, if the Arians went to the trouble to send a spy, they probably went to the trouble of drawing up an attack plan as well." He turned his attention to Jaerell. "Better get us an interrogator...you know the one."
Three hours later...
The man who walked in was dressed head to foot in a dark, pine green clothing. He wore a long style tunic, pants, calf high black nerf leather boots and matching gloves. His face was pale, drawn, and clean shaven. At first look, he appeared older than what he was, his pure white hair giving him the look of an Arkanian aristocrat. But his eyes were not the white, emotionless orbs of an Arkanian. They were the caring brown eyes of a man who loved and hated.
And the strange gleam mixed with the slight smirk, given the job before him, made him look like a sadist.
Ixtren put a hand on the Arian's bare shoulder. The prisoner was bound to a special chair which accommodated his large wings. "Virgil is a professional. Rest assured, he knows what he's doing." Ixtren stepped away and let the man get to his work.
Virgil was not a Mandalorian, but he was for hire. He was also one of the best interrogators that credits could buy. There was a Kaminoan by the name of Kal Suul who charged more, but Virgil was just as good and more reasonably priced. Using a strange assortment of tools and drugs, the interrogator not only got the Arian's name, Lian Hongse, but also his superior, Zhu E'XingXin. And on top of that, the spy informed them that an Arian Fleet was assembled and ready to strike Mandalore in a surprise attack.
"Ori osik!" Ixtren cursed. He snapped open a comm channel to the commander of the Mandalorian Fleet. "Walon, snap too. I've got intel that says an Arian fleet is primed and set to attack us. I need a recon in force. You're in command."
"Yes Mandalore! I'm on it."
The line closed and Ixtren looked at the Arian with glazed, worried eyes. "Virgil, see what else he knows. I'll be back."
Twenty minutes later, Ixtren returned. Virgil was waving some cone shaped device over the Arian's ears while the prisoner stared blankly forward. As Ixtren walked in, Virgil stopped what he was doing.
"Don't let me interrupt." Ixtren apologized.
Virgil replied in a smooth, Coruscanti voice. "Nothing of importance, I was just prepping him for a full retrieval. It's going to take a while, was there anything specific you'd like to get now?"
"No, I think we're alright. Looks like something spooked their fleet. Hyperspace footprints show they jumped out of the system. And we're damn lucky too. They had enough to take out everything we've got."
"Well, that's good to hear. I'd hate to end up an Arian prisoner after all." The interrogator flashed a sheepish grin.
Ixtren shivered. "Well I'll leave you to you're work. I'll be around. Comm me if you need me."
"Will do, before you go, where's a good place to eat around here? As long as this is going to take..."
"No problem. I'll have someone stop by. They can show you around and get whatever you need, free of charge."
On the way out, Ixtren commed Jener and told him to give Virgil some company.
Skirata's Blade, in orbit above Mandalore.
Admiral Walon Besau threw a grim glare at the Mandalore. "Ixtren, that was too close. We almost got wiped out."
Ever the optimist, Ixtren smiled it away. "Nonsense Walon! Haven't you learned the Galaxy has a bright spot for me? Why the Force wouldn't let such a foul fate fall upon me."
Walon watched the Mandalore laugh and wished he shared his mirth. "You shouldn't joke about the Force, Ixtren. The last thing we need is Jedi problems."
Ixtren straightened up. "You're right about that. Stuff coming off the holofeeds looks pretty grim. Either the government is about to implode or the Jedi Order is going to explode, maybe both."
"Deserves them right." Walon said coldly.
Looking at the man in his light green armor, Ixtren could see the hatred he still harbored from the war. "I've also heard some interesting things from our Hutt friends."
"I still can't get used to that." Walon laughed. "Hutt friends. You know, some people think you're crazy?"
The Mandalore waved his hand. "Let them. They should take a closer look at what's going on."
"What is going on? We're giving them beskar, and they're taking over the Periphery. Are we getting a cut?"
"Why in the dark pits of a mind drinker's delusionment would we want that?" Ixtren held out his wrist and used the small holoprojector to emit an image of Hutt Space. "Those are Hutt worlds historically. See? It's about history. This Saul the Hutt is different than most Hutts. He doesn't covet money and criminal empire. He wants order, and he's willing to fight for it. Did you know he wears Hutt battle armor?"
A look of surprise shot across Walon's face. "I didn't know the Hutts made battle armor."
"Well they do. I tell you, this guys a warrior...and he's smart." He altered the image on the screen, zooming out to a wider view of the Outer Rim. "See these worlds?" Several orbs scattered wildly about lit up. "There are Hutts fleeing Hutt Space and setting up shop all across the rim. Think about it." He shut down the holoimage and looked at Walon. "These Hutts have pleasure palaces in the Bootana Hutta. Private resorts. Armies of slave servants. And now they're pulling out."
Ixtren sighed. "It's huttese. Look, what I'm getting at is that there's a division forming within the Hutts. There's Saul and his new order who are building up an army and an empire, and then on the other hand there's the old Hutts and there criminal enterprises. Saul's actually wiping out corruption and crime. He's changing the way Hutt's have acted for untold millenia."
Walon took in a deep breath as he tried to see everything the Mandalore was saying. "So Saul has turned Hutt Space into an empire and is expanding his territory. Meanwhile we're giving him beskar which makes his ships even more efficient. We're amplifying the strength of the Hutt Fleet, in turn, creating a more powerful ally." He shook his head. "I still don't see this as a fair trade, Mandalore. I don't trust them. I never have."
Mandalore. So Walon was drawing his line. "I'm not asking you to trust the Hutts, Walon. I'm asking you to trust me. I've met this Saul, and I see where he is going. I trust him. That should be enough."
Walon eased up. "That I can do. You always have my trust, Ixtren." His comlink beeped. "I guess I need to keep a more open mind with this Saul. He sounds pretty smart for a Hutt."
Walon opened the comm to a private feed. Ixtren couldn't hear what was said, but he saw the surprise on Walon's face.
"That was the bridge. They say a group of ships just entered the system."
"Kriffing Arians. They don't give up." Ixtren snapped on his helmet. "Let's take care of this. Once and for all."
Ixtren - October 10, 2009 03:46 PM (GMT)
Realization slammed into the Mandalore as the sensors began pumping in more information.
"Wait a minute. Those are Hutt ships!"
Admiral Besau threw a questioning gaze. "Communications, open a comm with these new arrivals."
A Mandalorian popped out from behind a command station with communications gear wrapped around his head, a HUD radiating text across his left eye. "Sir, we already have a transmission incoming."
"Well put it on speaker."
Throughout the bridge, the distinctive voice of a Hutt was heard in its rich, rolling tones.
"I can't understand a word he's saying." Ixtren looked over at Walon. "You speak Huttese."
"No." Walon snapped his glare back at the comm station. "Translate that please."
"Yes sir. I'm on it."
The thick tongue of the Hutt was replaced with a softer, metallic voice.
"I am Captain Durago of the Huttese Empire. I come on behalf of Emperor Saul. He offers these ships to you as a present on your birthday, Mandalore. May your people prosper."
Walon looked around. "Mandalore, it's your birthday?"
Ixtren nodded slowly. "How the kriff did the Hutts find out?"
Walon laughed. "I can't believe it. The stinking Hutts know more about our Mandalore than we do." Walon patted Ixtren on the back. "I'm going to have to buy you a drink, Mandalore."
"First lets check out these ships."
"Indeed." Walon looked at the nearest sensor board. "That's quite the birthday present."
"Saul knows how to make a Mandie happy." Ixtren stared at the read outs. "Those are Inkabungas. They're giving up capital-class ships."
Walon whistled. "They must've been really happy with that first shipment of ore."
"Well our defenses will certainly be bolstered now." Ixtren counted up the figures. "Let's try and keep this secret. We don't want to ruffle any diplomatic affairs. If people hear the Mandalorians are getting new ships from the Hutts, they might start thinking something is in the works."
Walon raised an eyebrow. Is it, Ixtren?"
He quickly shook his head. "No, it isn't."
Walon wasn't sure if the response came too quickly, or if Ixtren was being honest. Either way, if the Mandalore wanted to keep something from him, that was his choice. His real interest was checking out those new Hutt ships.
"Hutts never looked so good."
They both laughed.