Renci Tosh sits in the front room of her Nabat apartment, annotating her own version of a conspiracy board with the new information she has gotten from Oskara. Renn’s sister was trying to transport an enormous crystal cluster glowing with green energy and surrounded by, yes, ghosts. And to top it all off, Chando’s frag grenade exploded it into shards and dust right above where JT was lying, unconscious from Zikka’s attack.
Renci’s wrist comm chimes, and she puts aside her datapad to answer an incoming voice-only call. “Baker! We’ve got some really great stuff for you. It should be there by now. You should go pick it up from the dead drop. It needs some testing.”
“Oh, great, Boulder. What have you sent?”
“You did so well with that medical backpack, that we’ve sent you another.”
“But… I still have the last one.”
“This one is designed specifically for scouts and reconnaissance troopers like you.”
“Reconnaissance troopers? What—”
“Anyway, we’ve made it from special weather-proof materials, and the internal frame supports the weight, distributing it so that you can carry a lot more. It has one very large compartment for big items, but there are smaller compartments all along the exterior—”
“Wait, you want me to test out just a rugged bag?”
“—that you can open and close really quickly, and they are specially designed to be modular, so you can place them wherever is convenient for however many appendages you happen to have.”
“Okay, that at least sounds useful,” Renci mutters, still skeptical. Increasing her volume over Boulder’s continuing rambling, she asks, “What about the spec sheet? Did you include it this time?”
“And they can all be sealed to stay protected from the elements, but at the same time, you can open them really quickly and silently so you can—”
“Boulder… I really feel like you aren’t listening—”
“—access the contents. It’s great for storing anything you might need, like ammo, medicines, collection vials, burn-through-everything gel—”
“Stop right there! Burn-through-everything gel? What is that all about?”
“You’re right, it’s not that great. We’re still workshopping the name. Maybe burn-through-anything? You can include your suggestions in your field report. Thanks, and may the Force be with you!”
Renci stares at the silent comm unit. There had better be a spec sheet.
* * *
While Z’voak checks over the Resolve, Renn Herkin heads down into the Nabat mesa to Ammo Emporium. “Ah, mon ami, welcome back! What can we do for you today?” asks the friendly shopkeeper, a Twi’lek named Fir’ith.
“I’m lookin’ ta fix up m’ air rifle, make it more like m’ Czerka.”
“You want it to be longer, louder?” the red Twi’lek jokes.
With a laugh, Renn clarifies, “Mainly what I’m wantin’ ta do is get a sling and a forearm grip fer her. M’ Czerka was a custom job, fitted ta me precisely by an expert. This… she’s a good weapon, she is, but if’n I’m goin’ ta use her as m’ primary, I’d prefer her ta be more flexible and reliable.”
“Let us see what we have to work with!”
Renn places the Field Sports Model 77 on the counter. “It’s why I was lookin’ fer SmartTranq last time I was here.”
“Do you need more of ze darts for it? We have gotten in a shipment, as you see. No need to shop elsewhere anymore!” He gestures over at a display. It does not look like many have sold.
“I wasna thinkin’ ta get more, but if’n yu’ve got the stock, that’d be great, actually.” Renn appreciates that Fir’ith has gone out of his way to supply what is clearly a niche product. And if he is committing to the 77 as his main weapon, he will be going through darts more quickly.
“We have many grips in stock zat you can look over, but we have a store policy zat we do not do alterations… Zey void the warranty. You are welcome to use ze tools in my workshop, though, to modify things as you wish. Come, come, it is not busy, let us see what you can do.”
Fir’ith brings Renn behind the counter into the back room and there provides suggestions and commentary as Renn attempts to modify the forearm grip. It is a lot harder than he anticipated, and after a frustrating hour, he gives up. “This is a mess! I’m just no’ mechanically inclined. I might as well buy another grip and start over from scratch. I don’ suppose ya buy used parts, do ya?”
“Mais non, mon ami. We only sell new equipment here. But do not despair. If you are really intent on buying a new one from my stock, do not just throw zat one away. Here, let us open it up and take a closer look at ze parts. Perhaps you will learn something from ze dissection, non?”
As evening draws on, Renn finishes adjusting the grip to be comfortable for his left-handedness and sizing the sling to fit his torso and arm length so that he can quickly bring the air rifle up into firing position. Fir’ith smiles. “Do not worry about improving ze accuracy. It is more important to hit hard when you do.”
“I don’ know that I quite agree with ya’ on that. Personally, I’d rather hit more often, particularly with the SmartTranq. D’ya get out inta the field much?”
Fir’ith points over at the sign with the shop hours. They are well past closing time now, but in particular, what he highlights is that the store is shut completely one day each week. That day simply says Gone Hunting. “You must join me some time, mon ami,” he says.
That invitation would have been very enticing once upon a time, but looking down at the tranq gun now, Renn just shakes his head. “Despite its name, this weapon isna fer sport. It’s fer survival, both mine and the animal’s. But I appreciate the offer.”
* * *
At the end of the week, the Resolve launches from Z’voak’s landing bay. Renn takes them out of Ryloth’s gravity well and then leaves the cockpit to Renci. She handles the navicomputer alone, as always, to maintain the confidentiality of their destination. Once the Resolve enters hyperspace, she joins Renn in the common area. She wears a pocketed vest over a short-sleeved shirt, and she has tied a bandana around her forehead. “Do you like archaeology?” she asks.
“I’ve only been in one ruined temple, and it didna go quite well.” Kash dragged him out of the collapsing temple on Gesaril with most of his right-hand ribs broken.
“This should be better than that… and if it’s not,” she drags a large backpack out of her quarters, “this should help.” She opens the bag, and a large insect flies out. Mira pursues it out of the room and back into the cargo hold. “Well, these other things, anyway,” Renci clarifies. She starts rifling through the bag to get a sense of its contents, then gives a cry of triumph as she pulls out a slender datapad. Renn raises an eyebrow. “The specs, just like I asked!” She starts paging through, and her smile fades. “Item 3, do not push? Item 8, fire fire burn? Item 11, blank?!” She sighs. “Well, do you like jungles?”
Renn smiles at that. “Aye, that’s where I’m from. The humidity will be a nice change of pace, particularly after a week on Ryloth.”
Renci frowns. “Oh, right, humidity.”