Based on a West End Games Star Wars D6 RPG session encounter in 1995.
As my vessel, the Bolder Than Most, decelerated from hyperspace, and the streaks of light that denoted the transition to real space were reduced to mere stars, I couldn’t help but feel excited.
Here I was, over the planet Zelon, over the city of Chancai. Chancai! The greatest Trade Centre in the galaxy, or so I had heard. The planet glowed blue and green below me and directional satellites indicated which direction I should go. Hundreds of ships were coming to and from the planet’s surface, and as I watched the great lumbering form of an Imperial Star Destroyer hove into view.
But not even the presence of the Empire could stem my feeling of joy. After all, I had travelled who-knows how many parsecs to get here, right here. From the core, approaching the outer rim. All my friends had told me I was crazy to come here, that most people came to find their fortune and only found death or misery.
Well, with me it was going to be different. I was going to show them all that I had the energy and the confidence to get further than everyone. If you make it on Chancai, you can make it anywhere.
I dropped the nose at the instruction of the automated orbital satellite, and followed the pre-set course to the surface. I hit atmosphere and then cloud, and, as I looked out of my port window, I watched another vessel trailing me, a large heavy freighter with a long nose and a wide rear engine compartment. With a burst of energy it lurched forward and led me down.
My heart leapt from my chest as I saw the city; a huge, mile-high construction with the appearance of a giant pyramid with the very top lopped off to make a flat summit. Down the centre of the construction was a shaft where vessels of all sizes flew in and out, with hundreds of landing bays lining the walls on all sides on all levels. Like insects the ships buzzed around the city, and long lines of vessels formed orderly queues as they awaited landing instructions. The heavy freighter joined the queue.
My ship was small enough to be slotted into a communal landing bay, and I steered her in carefully. I entered the top of the shaft, lowering her on repulsors and thrusters only, and dropped to my landing level. A small circular pilot ‘droid zipped out to help guide me into the bay.
It’s difficult to explain how I felt travelling down that shaft. On all sides were large and small bays and huge plastiglass windows looking into consumer centres and parts of the city that appeared to be small townships built into the walls. Beings of all kinds leaned over railings to look down the shaft and watch the multitude of ships coming and going.
I slotted my ship into position and disembarked. My first conversation was an argument about landing fees! Two hundred credits a day, and Imperial credits at that! That was huge chunk out of my budget already.
I walked angrily from the bay and into the bustling street.
What a sight! A huge promenade stretched out before me. On either side were multitudes of shops and trade rooms, with thousands of beings from all over the galaxy walking about. Repulsorlift traffic sped along the causeway, with four lanes flying above and below each other in some form of organised chaos. I imagined that being in the city was to be a claustrophobic affair, but the ceiling of this level went as high as an eight-storey building.
I took one step and was immediately swept along the tide of beings scurrying off in all directions. I laughed to myself; maybe if I let these streams of life take me I would end up somewhere practical. I decided to follow the flow and just try and comprehend what I was looking at.
White-armoured Imperial Stormtroopers walked in pairs through the streets, shadowing Chancai’s own policing force. I had heard that the Empire had sent a token force here, but Chancai was such a huge source of revenue it wasn’t worth their while invading and scaring off potential spenders.
As I mulled over this particular thought, I felt a huge hand wrap around my upper arm and yank. Before I knew what was happening, I had disappeared into the long alley between two trade rooms and was deposited heavily on the floor.
I looked up to see the biggest, most ugly alien I had ever seen. Even in the dim light I could see a long face and scaly lips, a horned head and a strange cluster of dark eyes. It grunted as it held tightly onto my arm and squeezed. I yelped and grabbed his huge double-jointed wrist.
A small human seemed to materialise behind him, and smiled a thin-lipped smile.
"Saw you touch down," he whispered, wiping a sweaty brow with a dirty cloth. "Need a ship".
I explained I had only just arrived and needed my vessel checked out, but this answer just made the alien squeeze tighter.
"Need a ship," the man said with a movement of his hand, and he produced a wad of credit chips.
As I began to consider the offer, not just for the monetary gain but because of the concern over my health, the alien suddenly slumped forward. I rolled out of the way as the huge form fell flat on his face. The man, shocked and scared, leapt sideways and reached for a weapon at his belt. He squeaked strangely as his chest exploded into sparks, flinging him back and against the wall. The shot had come from the opening to the alleyway.
"Alive, Galletti! Glann wanted him alive!" came a deep resounding voice, and a huge figure stood over me. I looked up into the face of a man with a concerned expression as he looked down.
I explained I was, and he nodded and kicked the alien, holstering his pistol.
"See, Goah? Stun shot, no mess. Now we take it back and we question it. Why? Because I stun shot him and didn’t blow him all over the alleyway on high power".
The other figure seemed to materialise out of the darkness as he approached, dressed in black with several strange attachments to his headgear and weapon. He looked at me with a stern expression and then looked away dismissively.
"Stow it, Jan. The sanction has been fulfilled".
The tall man looked back at me and held out a hand to help me up.
"What are you doing here? Don’t you know it’s dangerous to walk so close to service corridor entrances? This is a dangerous place".
I told him the man’s questions, and that I was just a passer-by. I explained why I had come here, to make my fortune and try to find fame. The two men looked at each other and smiled knowingly.
"What just happened to you is pretty much the norm around this whole sector," said the dark man as he holstered his own weapon. The beings bustling past the open end of the corridor seemed to be trying their best to ignore what was happening.
The tall man looked at me and smiled, holding out a hand that I took and shook firmly.
"First rule of this place - buy a bigger gun. Oh, and welcome to the Setnin Sector."