Through the slit fabric of the partition, JT sees a conference room in disrepair. Scaffolds and machinery for renovations are set up in numerous places. Everything is coated in dust from construction debris. Although the room is deep within a starship, its floors are made of duracrete, and there are several mixers scattered about, as well as forklifts with crates. On the far side is the door through which Tcho’s quarry entered the room. It has a small partition around it, creating a foyer of sorts. It looks like if she and Tcho had chosen to bust through that door, they could have entered without being immediately seen. No one is watching that way with guns out, ready to shoot down invaders.
Instead, everyone’s attention is directed towards a long boardroom table in the center of the room. A tan Selonian in fine clothes is seated at the far end, and a dark green Trandoshan stands with arms crossed a little behind her. Probably a bodyguard, JT thinks, based on his attire. The Selonian is definitely the Zann executive, as her stylish scarf is held in place by one of the consortium’s distinctive pins. JT suddenly realizes she recognizes the Selonian. Her name is Mukry Boze, and they chatted together in the First Class Lounge before the Dame’s departure from Corellia. JT does not know much more about her, other than that she was interested in pharmaceutical products from Chiewab. That seemed innocent enough at the time, but now it is cast in a new light, given what Tcho has told JT about how the bridge crew was subdued.
Right now, though, Boze is dressing down a Weequay while a mix of spacers and uniformed ship staff watch. “You had the captain and you let him go?” she seethes. “One man without any weapons? Really? Some guy took out your whole group with his bare hands? And took your knife away, I see.” She shakes her head in disgust.
“Yeah, one guy. He was blue,” the Weequay adds, confirming to JT that he is talking about Tcho.
One of the crew speaks up, a dark green Rodian who is probably Kepra. “That captain is Adalat’s responsibility. She’ll take care of that. Why were you getting in the mix of that, anyway?” she asks the Weequay. JT notes that Kepra wears a stun baton on her belt, as do some of the spacers.
Boze glares at Kepra, and the Rodian shuts up. It is not her place to ask questions when the Zann executive is not finished speaking. “Your Adalat called in that the captain had his own set of personal enforcers. Somehow, none of you knew that.” Turning her gaze back on the spacers, she continues, “We were only supposed to spend a short time in hyperspace. The Dame was not supposed to get that close to the Maelstrom, not until I gave the go-ahead for targeting the ship depot the Veiled Sorority has hiding nearby. When that asteroid is dust, then the Veiled Sorority will understand that Zann does not mess around. But I’m still waiting for a call from the reinforcements we’re rendezvousing with. That should have come an hour or two ago. We need those extra boarders and their ships to offload the wealthy hostages for ransom. We were supposed to have our extra weaponry by now.”
“Yeah, and we were supposed to have our pay,” one of them grumbles.
“Agreed,” a pink Twi’lek in a black bandana interjects from where he is leaning against a scaffold on JT’s side of the room. The fellow wears reinforced clothing and a heavy blaster, but the souped-up datapad in his hands makes JT think of her slicer friends. “This is the biggest shipjacking that’s ever been done, but I’m not just doing it for the exposure. I need the credits too. We were supposed to be done by now. I got you control of the comms; that’s what you hired me to do. I’m supposed to be paid and out of here, me and the rest of Shipjacker, LLC.” His lekkus wriggle in the direction of the knot of spacers around the Weequay. “So lay off them, Boze. Chewing them out is my job. We’d be out of here already if your plan was working. I certainly don’t want to be on the ship when it’s crashing. What’s going on? Normally things work so smoothly with Zann.”
Boze bares her sharp teeth at that comment. “You’re the shipjacker, Alask. That we are still in hyperspace is your fault. What am I paying you for, if you are not jacking the ship?”
“I fixed the comms, didn’t I? It was the ship’s staff who were supposed to reprogram the hyperdrive. I worked up the astrogation route for them; they just had to implement it. I thought that the people who operated the ship—the ones you brought into this—knew what they were doing there,” the Twi’lek shoots back. “But, no, I’m working with amateurs! Of course these people work on a cruise ship. They couldn’t get a better paying job; they don’t have the skills!”
The folks in uniform bristle at this, but the Trandoshan behind Boze snorts. “I’m getting paid,” he rumbles. “My money rolls in every two weeks.” This comment confirms JT’s suspicions that he is part of the Zann Consortium like Mukry Boze, not someone hired just for this job.
“You should be taking his threats seriously,” Alask says of the Weequay. “But no, you just don’t. You don’t care. Nobody cares about professionalism in piracy anymore.” He throws his hands up and storms off to the back corner of the room near the part of the partition behind which Tcho is stationed.