Chapter 1

'On a Planet of shimmering blue, Where large, floating cities loom, Lies the reason that you flew, The star of water here does bloom.'

The tall figure watched from the safety of his ship as more of the floating cities were destroyed by the attacking fighters. He watched as the cities exploded into flames and gradually began to sink beneath the planet's watery surface. He forced himself to watch even though part of him wanted so much to aid the planet's habitants, whereas the other part of him wanted to flee the planet while there was still time.

It suddenly occurred to him that he still held the artefact he had came for and it was whilst looking at the blue, star-shaped gem, that he realised that he must leave the planet in order to keep the valuable piece from the evil that was at this very moment destroying the once beautiful floating cities in search of it.

Takajo Findala sighed as he placed the gem securely in his pack and then running a hand through his grey-white hair, he took one last look at the sinking cities before turning to the ship's controls. As the cities burned and sank, under the constant attack of the incoming Tie-fighters, a lone, sleek, silver ship rose from one of the many 'jetties' and cloaked itself before leaving the planet Calamari.

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'On a planet of sandy inclines, The star of the desert lies.'

The sleek, silver ship decloaked just before entering the atmosphere of the yellow/orange sphere that was Tatooine. Once through the planet's atmosphere, the ship flew in the direction of Mos Eisley and landed in one of the many hanger bays.

Takajo walked down the ship's ramp and once the ship's hatches were closed securely, he headed towards one of the cantinas on the planet. Before leaving the ship he had compiled a 'recruitment' message and transmitted it over all frequencies. The message simply stated that seven mercenaries were required for a special mission and that they were to go to a cantina in Mos Eisley and meet a man, who would be their 'employer', there. Takajo figured that if he and the 'seven' were to cross paths than they would walk into the right cantina to meet him.

'The first, then two, of one hundred sixty-two, To be the first, to be the last, To be the first to put a dash, Then of sixty-four, take the last of the two.'

Buck Wilmington, Captain of the 'Lucky Lady', landed his ship in one of the hangar bays. He had received a rather 'odd' message about a job and having plotted the co-ordinates, headed straight for Tatooine. *Now which cantina shall I try?* Buck asked himself, *Why not try the usual?* and with that said he headed towards the cantina known as 'Four Corners'. The 'Four Corners' cantina appeared like many of the cantinas from the outside but when you entered you were greeted by a rather rustic environment, the furniture was wooden, the lighting was low and more natural than in other buildings, and it was one of the only places that served human beverages like whisky and brandy.

Buck walked up to the bar and waited for the barmaid to serve him. "What can I get you Senor?" Inez Recillos asked. "The usual please Inez darlin' and maybe a little extra hmm?" Buck replied waggling his eyebrows at the pretty senorita. Inez smiled, poured a beer and a shot of whisky, and slid the beer to Buck. "Who's the whisky for darlin'?" Buck asked, "Why you of course Senor!" the barmaid replied and threw the whisky into Buck's face and walked off. "I'm wearing her down!" Buck said to the man sniggering next to him, as he wiped his face dry. Inez suddenly appeared again and slammed a bottle of whisky in front of Buck. "Please take his over to that table Senor!" Inez told him, "As you will probably get a warmer welcome than me." Buck took the bottle gingerly and made his way over to the table Inez pointed out, curious as to who could be sitting there.

At the table sat a tall man dressed head to toe in black. His hat was pulled low over his face, so as to conceal his identity. He grunted a "thanks" as Buck placed the whisky on the table, but became a bit aggravated when Buck didn't leave. "Look mister I don't need no trouble, so why don't you just get the hell outta my space!" the man's speech had started as low as a whisper but had ended in a shout, as he raised his head to see who dared invade his space. "Buck?" the man suddenly asked, squinting up at Wilmington. "Well, well, well, Chris you ol' dog watcha doin' here?" Buck asked pulling the other man up and into a bear hug. "Buck please, folks'll talk!" the man, now identified as Chris, said pushing the taller man away from him and sitting back down glaring at the cantina occupants who were looking in their direction. Buck chuckled as he sat down next to his long time friend, "So.why are you here?" he asked. "What can't a man have a quiet drink without being questioned?" Chris asked, taking a sip of whisky straight from the bottle. Buck sighed and looked at Chris, pushing him to tell him. "Fine! I got a strange message of sorts, saying something about a mission requiring." "Seven mercenaries!" Buck finished for him. "You got it too!" Chris said, more as a statement than a question but Buck answered him nonetheless. "Yep!" he replied, grinning from ear to ear, " You think this is the cantina?" "We'll know soon enough."