After the opening credits...
Sel Zonn Station hangs seemingly motionless among a sea of starships and satellites above the twinkling world of Brentaal as a transport vessel approaches. A central pylon forms the bulk of the station’s mass, and three landing platforms leading to docking bays extend from the central section, equidistant from one another and jutting out into space. The dorsal side of the station features a disc-shaped secondary structure, on top of which blinking lights indicate the presence of a landing platform reserved for wealthy patrons.
The camera lingers for a moment on five characters, who will be our heroes:
Rima Ajram (female Human Noble, played by Doug) is writing on a datapad. Olive-skinned and dark-haired, she looks impressively calm for a woman on the run from the Empire.
Rima was born on Byblos, the second child of a highly-placed executive in the Byblos Drive Yards. She grew up around the yards, immersed in the culture of the ships and their construction. Her older sister had more of an interest in the financial side of the family business, and was groomed as her mother's successor; Rima was more interested in the proper construction and maintenance of the fleet, and took a job in the civil administration of the Republic starfleet, eventually rising to be highly placed in the ship inspection and maintenance bureaucracy of the Colonies region.
During the Clone Wars, she remained near Byblos (which remained part of the Republic) and coordinated defensive efforts against the Separatists. Following the foundation of the New Order, however, she began to grow concerned about the direction the star fleet was taking: the contracts with Kuat Drive Yards and Sienar Fleet Systems seemed less than above-board, and the mixed emphasis on oversized capital ships and cheap, disposable fighters seemed questionable from a safety viewpoint. She ignored warnings from others (including her parents) to keep her head down, as well as the "reassignment" of other members of the old Republic bureaucracy, and continued voicing her concerns to her superiors.
Eventually, she received an urgent warning from her immediate superior: Imperial stormtroopers were on their way to "reassign" her. She took what she could and fled the system. Discovering that she was still wanted, she hired a bodyguard to protect herself, and is currently looking for a place outside the reach of the Empire where she can use her (somewhat specialized) skills to establish a new life.
Beside Rima, her bodyguard Path Rash (male Zabrak Soldier, played by Josh) sits, his slugthrower rifle within easy reach. It's not the best equipment, but it's the best he's managed to afford on what he's made working as a mercenary and bodyguard since the war ended. Fortunately, his unit was believed to have been wiped out in battle, so no one's looking for him as a former Separatist. He's even able to travel under his real name.
Path's eyes narrow as he spots a Gungan he recognizes. During the Clone Wars, that guy was for sale to the highest bidder, joining neither the Republic nor the Separatists but working for commanders in both factions and cheerfully selling out former comrades if the other side paid him enough.
Naulan Daiun (male Gungan Scoundrel, played by Andrew) realizes he's been spotted. He looks like he's about to smirk but catches himself.
"I hate when Gungans smirk," Path mutters.
The two nod at each other warily, and Naulan goes back to absent-mindedly playing a game on a small hand-held device. He's mostly using the reflection on the screen to look behind him, with the result that he's losing horribly at the game.
Jebet Bahby (female Sullustan Jedi, played by Kathleen) is curled in a corner not far away, pretending to read something on a datapad, but actually keeping a watchful eye out for any trouble. Her lightsaber is safely hidden.
Jebet knows she's taking a chance by being here. She was with a group of Jedi when the Order 66 purge began but managed to escape after seeing what happened to the others. She fled back to her homeworld, figuring she would blend in better there. She stayed away from anyone who knew her well, for their own safety, but managed to secure a job through connections with friends of friends. It would have been safe; but she grew bored with sitting around Sullust not doing anything interesting or useful, and besides, manual labor wasn't really to her taste. So she obtained a falsified ID and set out to travel and look for more congenial work. She's been bouncing from place to place for several months now.
And finally, Beejax Toth (male Duros Scout, played by Lindsay) is engrossed in tinkering with a bit of circuitry, completely oblivious to his surroundings. He's also out of a job, since his family's business making droid-tracking parts was shut down when first the Separatists and then the Empire took over his home planet. Fortunately for him, he was off-world doing field tests when the Separatists captured Duro.
Inside the transport, an announcement is being broadcast over the PA. "This is your captain speaking. We are approaching Sel Zonn Station. We'll be docking in approximately five minutes. After a brief customs inspection, you should be free to disembark. Thank you for flying Freebird Transport."
Rima stows the datapad in her bag and sticks the stylus into the loose bun of hair atop her head. "Well, we're here."
Path is already getting out the licenses for his rifle and vibrobayonet. He figures it's best to have them ready ahead of time, to avoid any incidents where he was "obviously reaching for a weapon."
There's a slight jolt as the transport touches down. A short time later, several uniformed Imperial naval officials board and start moving through the passenger section, checking identification.
One of the officials scrutinizes Jebet's credentials (which are made out in the name of Bebet Jahby) as she waits nervously.
"Here on business?" he asks.
"Looking for work."
"Not much on Sel Zonn. Not for non-humans."
Path overhears. "It's that way everywhere," he mutters to himself.
The official moves on to Naulan, checking the ID holo closely against the Gungan in front of him before handing it back, and then stops by Rima and Path. "Identification please, citizen."
They turn over their holos. Rima's is an excellent forgery in the name of Neera Donpol, and the official accepts it readily. After looking at Path's ID, the official the points to the slugthrower rifle. "You have a license for that?"
Path hands it over.
"Got a lot of weaponry, don't you?" the official asks suspiciously.
"Bodyguard work." Path nods toward Rima. "Pop star. Need to keep her fans off her."
Rima frowns slightly at Path, giving him the "we-didn't-discuss-this" look.
"Really?" The official looks more closely at Rima as if wondering whether he should be excited to meet her. She gives him a dazzling smile in response, doing her best to look like the idol of the galaxy. It doesn't convince him fully, but he doesn't seem to suspect her of anything more than exaggerating her popularity. "Haven't had the pleasure," he says politely.
"Well, the career isn't exactly taking off. That's why I'm here."
"So, a bit optimistic about the fans mobbing you, then."
"You can never be too careful," she says, looking for a way to change the subject from why a not-very-successful singer would be traveling with a heavily armed bodyguard. "Besides, if you want to actually experience the lifestyle, it's best to start living it first, and then the perks will come."
At this point, much to Rima's relief, the official's attention is distracted by one of the others tapping him on the shoulder and murmuring something in his ear. The two walk off together toward the front of the cabin.
"They really don't have a sense of humor," Path says as he watches them leave.
Meanwhile, the exchange with the customs official has caught Jebet's attention. She realizes she's seen this human before, back when she visited the Byblos shipyards once during the war. Rima knows who she is--but then, Rima is clearly traveling incognito as well.
"Are you going to do this every time we go through customs?" Rima is saying to Path as Jebet inches closer. "I suppose it's better than trash compactor maintenance."
"I liked that one," Path says in an injured tone. "And two stations earlier--author of a famous cookbook. Had a religious jihad from the wookiees."
"That's why I'm not allowed to travel with my razor any more," Rima sighs.
"It's never intended to be believable. I suck at that."
"Yeah, it's up to me to sell it. That's the problem."
"Just hit me upside the head with something if you come up with a better story."
"I'll use a blunt instrument rather than my bare hand, thank you."
"Good idea. Hard head."
Just as Jebet is about to speak, a commotion from the forward cabin snaps her to attention. The door bursts open, and the captain is escorted out in restraining cuffs by the two customs officials who just left.
"Look, I'm innocent!" the captain yells angrily. "I didn't know it was there! Really, you can't do this! I'm an Imperial citizen! Can I call my lawyer?"
The door slides shut behind them.
"Think we can get a refund?" Path asks.
Continued in part 2