The Blue Streak jets down the service access area, heading to the intersection Tcho clued her in on. Occasionally she ricochets off walls or clips herself on a corner. These corridors are just not as spacious as open air, and JT does not have a lot of experience operating her jet pack in confined quarters. She is traveling too fast when she does reach her destination and whooshes past a human in a uniform. Probably that was the captain, she thinks, trying to slow down.
“What was that?!” Rowan cries, mouth now free of duct tape.
“The Blue Streak!” echoes down the hall, following a trail of blue glitter, some of which sticks annoyingly to his white uniform.
As JT does her best to stop and turn around, she sees Tcho farther down the hall at a hatchway. She pulls up to a halt before colliding with him.
“Citizen, are you safe?” His clothes are a bit rumpled, and his blue skin has darkened to purple on the left side of his face. It looks kind of swollen and puffy around his temple.
“Thank goodness you’re here,” Tcho tells her a little breathlessly, exactly the sort of thing the Blue Streak has always wanted to hear. The next news is not as good. “Uh, there’s a shipjacking going on right now. And… oh, that’s the captain, by the way,” Tcho adds distractedly, pointing back the way JT just came. She calls a greeting down to the man, and Tcho adds more quietly, “I didn’t bring up the gala yet. Sorry.”
“That’s okay. We’ll get there.”
“I’m sure he’ll be really grateful to you, though, after this whole thing goes down.” Raising his voice, Tcho introduces her. “Captain, this is the Blue Streak. She… fights injustice?”
“Rights wrongs! Fights crime, especially Hutt crimes. And associated groups.”
JT is so over-the-top in Blue Streak mode… well, more over-the-top than usual, and Tcho is still not entirely sure how accurate the fighter part in crimefighter is. “Right, right… So, we need to be careful going in because this is not just a mutiny,” he cautions. “They’re backed by a major crime player here.”
“Who are we dealing with?”
Tcho sighs. “Do you know anything about Zann?”
JT knows about the Zann Consortium. That organization, particularly the executive Romar Kek, is connected with one of the darkest parts of her life. Memories flash through JT’s mind. Her good friend Nyn Kablo in shock after Desert Rose Solutions rescued her from the clutches of Zann executive Dinek Blen. The New Meen medical center in ruins after the bounty hunters hired by the Zann Consortium sought out DRS at their home base. Romar Kek offering to square things with DRS regarding Blen’s murder if they bring him the mask of the Veiled Sorority Pirate Queen. JT in the Lessu air traffic control tower, pointing at Romar Kek’s ship and using the Force to rip it out of the sky and into the ground, watching through a green haze as it crashes. JT handing a bruised and bleeding Romar Kek over to Angel and encouraging the woman to consider starting up her own Veiled Sorority branch on Christophsis. “I’ve been thinking about my sisters a lot lately, Angel. You could do so much more with more power.”
“They don’t mess around,” Tcho is saying when JT tunes back in. “They do some really… Look, there are lines that some groups don’t cross, but they do.”
JT’s voice is still modulated by her helmet, but the projected calm of her rehearsed lines is gone as she groans, “Zann!? They’re bad news, in more ways than one.”
“You’ve gone up against them before?” Tcho asks.
“Yes.” JT blows out a long breath, which comes out of the speaker as a bunch of static.
Tcho drops his voice lower. This is a conversation for him and JT, not the captain down the hall. “Okay, so you know a thing or two about the types of tactics they use, then.”
JT flips off the voice modulator so her words will not carry as far. Her natural voice wavers as she says, “Um, they’re really vicious, but they’ll… It messes you up… And I don’t just mean like they’re going to cut you—well, they’ll do that too.”
“Yeah, I know,” Tcho says gravely. “That’s why I left.”
“You used to be in Zann?!”
“Medical school is expensive,” is all the explanation Tcho gives.
“I hear you,” JT wearily acknowledges. “A Hutt paid for my school.” Getting out of that loan was a doozy, but it found her the friends with which she formed Desert Rose Solutions. More brightly, she adds, “Well, I’m glad you’re out,” with her classic two-handed emphatic gesture.
Tcho gives a small smile. “So we have something else in common then.”
“Let’s try to deal with them, but let’s… stay level,” JT says. She does not want to go down that dark path again. “Let’s not lose ourselves. Most of the people in there are probably just a bunch of hired help. They don’t care one way or another.”
“Yeah, it definitely sounded like some of them were hired just for this job,” Tcho agrees. “But whoever is pulling the strings is up there.” There is a more immediate problem right now, though. Tcho turns back to the hatch in the wall. “Ugh, a guy got away. He went through this door, and I can’t get it open. But this is where they were taking the captain. I don’t know the layout of the ship super well… Is there some other way for us to get in?”
“So we’re going to bring the captain to them?” JT asks.
“That’s not going to fly again. I was doing that for a while, but they eventually saw through that and…” Tcho gestures back down the hall where the captain is binding the two unconscious thugs with duct tape.
“Oh! Good job,” JT compliments them.
“Yeah, but we’ve got to do something about this. And, you know, you need to make a good impression if you want him to…”
“Oh my gosh, yes! I’m sure the Blue Streak can get him to go to the gala. All right! So option one: go in, whipcord blazing.”
Tcho frowns a little. Stun bolts dissipate rather quickly. “My gun doesn’t have that kind of range, JT.”
“Shhhhh! I’m the Blue Streak right now, okay? Don’t you understand, it’s a secret identity! Just like you’re not Tcho. You have a new identity now.” She gestures up at his black hair.
“I am Tcho,” he hisses back. “Tcho is a very common Pantoran name.” Although, come to think of it, the captain never did ask my name.
“Okay, well, there’s not many Pantorans here, and you don’t want them to start looking for you again,” she snaps, her hackles raised. This does not quite warrant a slap, but some secrets are important to protect.
Tcho holds up his hands defensively. “Fine, Blue Streak.”
JT lets out a long breath and looks around. “All right, so what else are we working with here? A couple vibroknives? That’s not going to work out so well.”
Tcho weaves down the hall to where the captain is. Rowan has cut his own wrists free with a vibroknife, but the weapon is now discarded alongside him. Tcho picks it up and holds it out handle-first to the other man. “Even if you’re not going to use it, you can brandish it. I’m not saying you need to come in on the attack with us, but someone might come down the hall.”
JT comes up alongside him, flipping her modulator back on as she moves.
“Stay close!” the Blue Streak advises confidently.
“The safest place is standing by each other’s side. We have to stand up for what’s right and retake your ship.”
She looks back over at the hatchway, and her voice grows more thoughtful. Her next words are ruminations, rather than pronouncements. “But they might be watching this door. What other routes do we have? Well, vents are always fun…. Let’s see, what room is this? Meeting hall 3A? Currently under renovations?” JT knows this detail because it is one of the rooms the steward told her was not available for her gala. “That makes it the ideal place for the Zann contingent to use as a base of operations. But the adjoining room just has a partition divider. We should be able to slip in that way. Might even be able to hear what’s going on in there first.”
Tcho pats down the two unconscious thugs for anything else useful. The Nikto has a canister of the gas that was used to knock out the bridge crew. That goes into Tcho’s satchel. He has his own sedatives, but more is quite welcome. He also takes another vibroknife. He is not looking to get into a knife fight, but its sharp edge could come in handy for sabotage. He dismisses the idea of cutting the lights when JT tells him her visor does not have any nightvision built into it, but the tool could potentially get through the inter-room partition.
“Should we be worrying about containment? About them not being able to escape out this door, once things start to happen?” Tcho asks.
“We don’t know if they might have more help elsewhere. It’s probably better to keep them isolated, and we don’t want their commander to get away,” JT says, nodding.
“They closed up the door from the other side, but if there’s anything we can do to jam it…” Tcho looks expectantly at the masked vigilante before him for a moment. Then, through the mental fog that adrenaline is no longer keeping at bay, he realizes this is something he knows a thing or two about himself. He has busted door mechanisms in the past during heists gone wrong. Tcho takes a look at the edges of the door.
JT joins him. “There’s probably something I can do,” she says positively, pulling out her hydrospanner and twirling it around. But as they conduct their inspection, Tcho hears her muttering about fire safety protocols that prevent such hatches from being sealed from the exterior. Short of a welder, there is little they are going to be able to do to secure it, in her opinion. Tcho continues looking for weaknesses or things they can jam, but every time he moves his eyes, the hall around him seems to tilt for a moment. When he kneels down to examine the bottom section, he has to throw a hand out to catch himself, and it takes a moment to even remember what he is doing there. A blurry blue and gray form is saying something. What is she saying?
“Are you doing okay? That’s a pretty bad looking bruise. You’re not a hundred percent, I can tell. Look at how wobbly you are. I’ve seen this sort of thing before. Sit down.”
She is right, and she is back-up. With Tcho no longer solely responsible for the captain’s safety, and no immediate threats in the area, it is a good time to deal with this concussion. His vision is too blurry to read the fine print on the vials, so Tcho tells JT the drugs he needs for reducing swelling and mending tissue in the sensitive regions of the brain. She pulls them from his sophisticated medkit, and then he administers a hyperstim with the appropriate proportions. “This is going to take a while to take effect,” Tcho tells JT. “Time we don’t have.” He blinks his eyes a few times, monitoring how he feels.
“Just take it easy,” she says. “We’ll get to the adjacent room and see what there is to see. We’re not rushing in just yet.” JT reaches a hand down and pulls Tcho back up to his feet.