Sunday, February 16, 2014

Betscape

Episode II of The Adventures of Young Solo

It 
was 
a time of 
the sin. All 
possible sins have 
marked an impressive 
growth along with the  growth 
of the imperial domination. Extremely 
good profits of this have made the worlds of 
gambling…

***



The ship, that customer arrived with, was very expensive. A model not older than 2 years with the new hyper drive technology, lightweight and fast. That was the only thing Lando managed to learn about the other side of the upcoming meeting. His attempt to make a prior examination of the client – that he always tried to do, resulted in an absolutely zero success. So the evaluation reached was of the ship and”by eye". Obviously it was quite a rich customer. But the fact that he allowed this to be known, presumed there were other arguments that could be used to push the price down.

“So you're Lando, and you are his assistant Han?”– These were the first words of the client, whose face was hidden behind a helmet and everything down was covered by a huge and thick cloak. The only visible was his height - slightly lower than Solo. Even the voice was unknown because it was coming from a synthesizer.

“You obviously know more about us than we will ever know about you...”- Han replied.

“If I didn’t know about you, how could I find you to hire?”- Asked the client –”Your glory is floating around the markets of smuggling services.”

Lando smiled:

“Obviously, we have an optimistic future in business...”

“Yeah, this story of going through the blockade has become a legend. Some people even stop believing it.”– Said the client.

“But you obviously don’t.”- Lando concluded.

“I am obviously still believing the story.”– Confirmed the client –”But let’s stop losing time and go on the major topic of our meeting. I want to buy”The Millennium Falcon”and I am offering you ten thousand imperial credits. I expect you will try bargaining, and I admire this, but do not expect serious results. I have a second offer for you, if you reject the selling.”

"Look, anyone who can get rid of”The Falcon”will do it with a great pleasure. But 10,000 credits is too low even for it. There are probably junk vessels at this price, but”The Falcon”is worth a lot more.”- Said Lando.

"How much?”

"I would not give it for less that 50,000..."

"50 thousand? A good offer, from which I am getting the impression that you expect to haggle. And final deal to be around 25-30 thousand. But I forewarned that you will not achieve anything. I would not give more than 12,000 for „The Falcon“.

"Obviously,”The Falcon”will not be sold. What else do you have to offer us?”

"If this ship will not be bought, I would like to rent it. I'll pay you 15,000 credits plus will install a new and faster engine. The total value of the deal will reach about 30 thousand credits. But I doubt you can find the same engine for 15,000. This is my offer, and I will not haggle. A fixed price.”

"15,000 in cash, plus a new engine? You are offering more as a renting fee than you suggested for buying it? I am beginning to think that your offer to purchase was just to make the rental offer attractve...”

“You're wrong, Lando. The offer for renting is actually higher, and it is quite a logical proposal. I suggest you to buy ”The Falcon” for 10000, or rent it for 15,000, plus a new engine."

“Han, am I drunk, or we are really listening to it?”

"I think we are really listening to this, and I feel we are under something like kidding. There is a catch in the whole concept, I think...”- Han replied.

"There's no catch, guys. The logic is quite simple. If I rent the ship I am also hiring both of you. If I buy it, I am taking it without you. I think you understand that in fact the main object of the deal is your participation. Or at least of one of you. I hope to get ”The Falcon” for a few weeks, plus at least one of its two pilots who are making fun of playing with Imperial cruisers."

“Lando, if I understand correctly, you have got a client exactly like the last time. Again, someone is trying to get into trouble far beyond the usual smuggling business.”- Said Han.

"I also think so...”- Lando replied.

"Everybody sells what he has, guys. What have you got? A ship with half a light speed that does not know its age. Almost all of your competitors offer something far better. So what's your advantage? Obviously it is your ability to create troubles and then get away from them...”- smiling, but logically compelling said the customer.

Lando thought for a while. After the story with Jedi swords, from which they went out with a minimum profit after huge risks have been taken, he was not eager on making deals promising huge profits, but containing too much uncertainty. But in general, these days there were no many clients on the market.

“Let's hear a little more about the work...”- said Han.

"The work is very easy, but there are risks to become more complicated. That's why I need you. If it is realized this small risk of complication, I will rely on your ability to get away from emergencies. I will need your skills to quickly find solutions. For this I want to hire you. If all goes according to the plan, it will be the easiest money in your career.”

"The words “if everything goes according to plan” makes me chill.”- Said Solo. -”Even more confused I become when someone promises easy money “if all goes according to plan".

"Look, guys, there is no easy money. But you can make this money...”- insisted the client.

"Can we have some more information to refine what exactly is the job.”– asked Lando.

"I can, but I'll have to kill you, or at least seal and insulate you, if the offer is not accepted. I can not allow a leakage of information. Are you willing to spend a few weeks in my estate under the supervision of my security, if you reject the deal?”

Han and Lando looked at each other. Then Lando said:

"We will not refuse a little free holiday..."

The client was silent for a moment, then continued:

„You’ve probably heard about the gambling tournament on Betty Nebula. It starts in 2 weeks. I have a plan to make a big impact there, and then get out with the money. Everything is planned in great detail, and is secure. But if something goes wrong then you will have to figure out how to get out.”

"The tournament on Betty Nebula? Are you implying that your business is to win at gambling? And to outplay exactly a big tournament?”– amazed was Solo.

"Exactly. I have prepared a system that will work. Then we'll gull the security and will get out with the money."

"Han, I am asking myself if this guy may be our friend - the klukluk?”

"No, he was shorter...”

"But he offers even more incredible business than him..."

"Sir or Madam, do you understand what you are talking about? You have a system capable of deceiving the biggest tournament in the galaxy. And in addition you have a system that will grant you getting unnoticed away from the planet?”- Said Solo.

“And he wants to do it with ”The Falcon”... - added Lando and smiled.

“Yes, I have both these possibilities, even sounding incredible...”- replied the customer.

"I personally prefer the estate...”- Lando said.

“Me too...”- confirmed Han.

"I accept your decision and I was really expecting it. But I have a suggestion for you. We can stake the decision on poker. If I win, I will hire you at that price, if you win, you go to a free holiday.”

"Poker? Didn’t we talk about a business?”- Said Solo.

“You are good gamblers and love playing...”- said the client.

"We're playing often, but business is business. I am not interested in your poker.”- Said Lando.

"If I win, it will be an argument that I understand gambling..."

"Even if you know everything about gambling, it does not mean you will win a Betty Nebula tournament. Everyone that is there does understand the gambling. And mostly understand it the organizers of the tournament, who take a lion’s share.”- Said Solo.

"Not against my system.”- Said the client.

"Do you know for how many thousands of years there exists the dream of ​​creating a ”system” to ensure profits in gambling?”- Said Solo.

"I know...”- said the client.

"So we agreed - we will go on a vacation...”- Lando said.

"Anyway, a poker deal...?"

“No”- said Solo.

"Then I will slightly change the bargain. Will you come with me on Betty Nebula and join my business only if you want and decide so?"

"What then you need us for?”– asked Lando.

"Because I'm sure you will like. Tomorrow I will meet you at ”The Falcon”. We will fly to install its new engine.”- These were the last words of the client, and then he just got up and left.

"What happened to the estate and our free rest?”- Lando shouted -”Didn’t you want to keep us in isolation, if we are not going with you."

"You will come..."

***

"We're not in a position to reject customers.”– Said Solo after they left the bar.

"Last time you were extremely angry when I dragged you in such a deal. And now you look like sympathizing to a new rush.”- Lando replied.

"I don’t. I'm just saying that we have no customers."

"It’s is not only us. Nobody has clients. The business is in a bad condition."

"And to become worse appear only psychopaths..."

"You can’t imagine how much you're right..."

A few minutes later, while continuing their conversation in the same way, the two obviously not very successful smugglers suddenly found themselves in front of targeting them and loaded blasters. They probably would not surrender without fight if the men with blasters were not clothed in uniforms. The Tatooine police.

"What is up, boys? We are conscientious citizens. Everything is OK with us.”- Said Lando.

"Yeah, guys, we're from Jabba’s team. It guarantees for us.”- Added Solo.

A ”guarantee” meant the bribes the crime boss of this world regularly paid the police for not to hang him or the working for him.

A lieutenant closed and said:

"Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, you are under arrest for a violation of imperial blockade...”

"What?”- Snorted Lando.

"Follow me.”- Turned a back to them the lieutenant. Seconds later their own blasters were in the hands of the police and their own hands were handcuffed.

The interrogation room was not very comfortable. In fact, it was used quite rare because the police on Tatooine was generally very rarely working. Usually, the law was imposed by the local crime bosses, and actually it was the law of the bosses themselves. When the Empire had some work it was sending its imperial officers. So the police’s main job was to regularly harvest the bribes in return for transferring its power to criminal bosses.

The investigator entered - apparently quite angry that someone has found him a job to do:

"So guys, a few weeks ago...”- the inaccuracy in the expression, which was legally inadmissible, pointed to the attitude of the officer to the work – „... you have passed without permission through an Imperial blockade. So we are arresting you and you are going to trial. I encourage you to plead guilty immediately. You will be imposed suspended sentences. If you do not plead guilty, the trial will be in about seven months - when the judge comes to this sector.”

The investigator wearily leaned back in his chair.

Lando got angry:

"These allegations are absurd and groundless. But even if they were true, the case is beyond your authority. You are a local planetary police and you cannot deal with crimes occurring on other planets or in their space…"

"So you admit this crime?”– Happily got smiling the investigator.

"I do not admit anything. I'm just saying that this exceeds your rights. You do not have jurisdiction outside this planet. Only The Empire can investigate for such hypothetical crimes that we are being blamed."

"So you're not guilty, and plead not guilty”– even more happily smiled the investigator -”So with that my work is done. I'll write a report and deliver it to the judge. I will not see you again."

Then he got up and turned to exit.

"We must get free, you can not leave us here...”- Said Lando.

"I'm not a police officer or a sheriff. I'm an investigator. My job is to investigate. The investigation is completed. On other issues you have to talk to the guards, or with a lawyer.”

"Lawyer? A great idea. I want to hire a lawyer and you must ensure me a possibility to choose.”- Said Lando.

"This is the work of the guards, so do not bother me with your problems. But since I am a gentleman, I'll help you - your lawyer is already here. He is standing outside and waiting for his turn to enter. Under the laws of Tatooine, the investigator shall take precedence over the lawyer."

"He stands and waits? We never hired anyone…”– surprised was Lando.

"It’s neither my problem, nor is my job to investigate who is your lawyer and how he is employed. You are in charge...”- and then the door slammed shut behind him.

It did not take a minute and entered the lawyer - their candidate-client who they drove less than an hour ago.

As they needed not much time to understand everything that was happening, Lando and Han almost killed him with a look. They would have killed him really, if were not tied.

"Hello again, boys. How fortunate that I have not left. Now I can get you out, and I hope it will make you more kind to me...”

"Is that your mansion – the prison of Tatooine?”- Asked Lando.

"Not really. I have a real estate. But if I send you on rest, there is no way to convince you to work with me.”- answered the client-lawyer.

"Why should we work as we were promised a rest and received prison? What fool would believe the rest of your promises?”- Asked Han.

"Look, guys, we need to divide one thing from the other. This prison is simply a cost that arose accidentally, and for which you are guilty – with your refusal. If you had not rejected my offer, it would not have happened. But you are important to me, or at least one of you as minimum, is important to me. So I had to have a backup plan, albeit with additional costs. But they are at your expense. I paid 3,000 credits for what is happening now, which means that my offer to you is now 12,000 credits. They will fall by another thousand credits after we pay the bail to leave."

"Add these losses to the other already on the sheet…”- Lando replied.

"Are you preferring to sit here instead in the luxury of Betty Nebula?”

"I prefer everything that is without being blackmailed”- Lando replied.

"What about you?”– The lawyer turned to the silent Han - ”You can change your mind."

"It would be foolish to let you divide us this way...”- Han replied.

"Look, guys, let me be clear. I need you. I can not let my plan to stay without a reserve scenario. The risk is too great..."

"You were absolutely sure in your plan an hour ago, even you tried to convince us…”- sarcastically said Lando.

"It is well planned, but every plan must be comprehensive. I will not run without a scenario in a case something unexpected happens. And the reserve plan is you two…"

"Who taught you those tricks with the police? How did they pay attention at all? The police generally does not work...”- said Solo.

"I paid in advance to get an advantage in negotiating with you. I found that you can refuse and took measure to be prepared in this case. A reserve plan.”

"So here you have a reserve plan with us and our choice too…”- Lando found.

"As you can see, I like elaborating everything.”- replied the customer.

"Who has sold out us?”- Asked Solo.

"I paid 2,000 credits to Jabba to give me an advice on what to do if you refuse. And a thousand more credits to the police to move on action."

"So Jabba has sold us?”- Staggered Lando - ”We're of his people, how is that possible?"

"You are not exactly his precious asset”- answered the customer -”You do not bring him enough profits to protect you. In terms of money, it was profitable for him to sell you.”

"So for 2,000 credits Jabba has sold you an advice on what to do if we refuse?”- Said Lando.

"Yes. But he also helped me to find a policeman that will do the job."

"A full service”- concluded Han.

"But as I said, you can add these expenses to your losses…”- Lando said - ”I don’t like being blackmailed. ”The Falcon” remains here with us. And we will find another lawyer."

"Look, guys, earlier than 7 months you will not leave this place, even if you find another lawyer. Don’t forget, I paid a thousand credits for that. The only way to get you out before the judge comes is to come with me now and on bail."

"Anyone can pay the bail. We have friends. Someone will give us a thousand credits to get a thousand and hundred an hour later. And then I will find you and make pay me these hundred bucks…"- said Lando.

"But have you got eleven hundred credits?”- Slyly asked the customer. He obviously knew the answer.

"Don’t simulate being smart” - Lando shouted - ”I have ”The Falcon”. It costs more and is sufficient to provide us a loan."

It followed the most overwhelming and compelling thesis of the client:

"Are you sure that you have ”The Falcon”?

"What?”- Lando barked and jumped up from the chair. The handcuffs on his hands saved the client.

"Nothing, Lando. It's nothing. ”The Falcon” is here. I'm just saying that some time ago you claimed that you do not want the deal, and I argued that you want it. Now you say that you have ”The Falcon” and I – that this is not absolutely sure."

"Again you have a reserve plan?”- said Solo.

"Obviously. I hope you will appreciate how important you are to me after following my other contingency plans."

Han held the answer for a while to give it credibility, then said:

"You might be bluffing for ”The Falcon”. You're a gambler. The same trick will hardly go a few times. I think you can not take the ship from us, even if we stay arrested here…"

"You have a talent for a player Han. But you're not a bigger player than me. I'm not bluffing. But in any case, the check if it is a bluff will be at your expense. Not at mine."

Han thought for a moment. He realized the general parameters of the situation and found the optimal solution. To the horror of Lando:

"I'll come with you. But only if you free Lando too. You said that you do not necessarily need both of us. So you free both and I will come with you."

If they were not handcuffed, this time Han would be strangled by Lando.

"What are you talking about? We will not divide. The ship is mine. I will not allow being blackmailed..."

"You don’t need to allow anything, my friend. I'll decide for you. You are not blackmailed. We'll just get out of here free and this will happen fast. All risks are to me..."

"Han, you can not take ”The Falcon". The ship is mine. I do not allow using it for this insane mission.”

"Lando, my friend, remember you owe me a favor since last time. I will take ”The Falcon” and we will assume that you repaid a tenth of your moral debt to me.”

"One-tenth? Are you crazy?”

"You want more?”

"I want nothing, there will be no deals. We will stay here...”- Lando shouted.

I'm going, even if you decide to stay here. I'll give you back ”The Falcon”- I promise.”- Said almost gaily Han, and then turned to the client:

"A good deal you get. Accept it or we both with Lando will stay here for seven months."

The client did not think long.

Lando shouted at the final:

"You'll pay me dearly for this, Han. You will not get away with it.”

"You will be thankful to me, Lando. The jail of Tatooine can be a pretty boring place.”- finished Solo.

***

Several hours later, Han and the client were in the cabin of ”The Falcon”. The client wanted to be present during the piloting. Additionally, he was not much impressed by the passenger rooms. Shortly before flying off, Solo played his last trump. He pulled a blaster, which was hidden under the pilot's seat, and leveled it at the helmet of the client:

"What prevents me from kicking you out of ”The Falcon” now?"

"I thought the team of Lando and Han usually keeps its word.”- Answered the customer, but sounded neither surprised nor frightened.

"I did’t give my word voluntary. It was motivated by extortion. This word is worth nothing.”- Han said, and continued -”The right decision now is to throw you out, get Lando, and fly with him. Without you. And far from Betty Nebula."

„You know that I always have a reserve plan…”- the customer said calmly –”You don’t really think I'm so stupid not to anticipate what you are doing now?”

"A reserve plan? I see no one around to save you. And I can not only kick you out, but shoot immediately. No one can prevent this. Believe me, the blaster will break this helmet."

"Solo, do not be a fool, let's respect each other. You're making me a fool.”

"No, I just want to see the reserve plan..."

"It is quite simple, Solo. If I am being killed, ”The Falcon” will explode. It is mined and I have a sensor that monitors my vital functions. At the moment I die, the ship will explode. The same will happen if my sensor is removed or destroyed. This means that there is no difference if you are leveling the blaster to my or to your head. From your point of view it is the same."

Han thought for a while, but he was not very surprised. He did not think he will so easy outplay the client. But he had to try.

"However, what prevents me from leaving you here with ”The Falcon” alone. And report it stolen. I do not see any detonators on me. I can just leave."

"And you will have to explain Lando that you have left the ship in the hands of a thief. Think what would Lando prefer - the ship to be in my hands, or you to be with me yet?”

There was logic in the contingency plan of the client. Han took back the blaster. It still remained one last chance. In next days he could deactivate the explosives and then get rid of the customer. He conceded, however, that there is a reserve plan for this case too.

"Let’s stop wasting time any more”- Said the customer -”We're going to upgrade the engine of this vessel. Here are the coordinates."

Han said nothing. Minutes later, still the old engine detached the ship from the ground...

Shortly before leaving the communication range, from the radio it came the voice of Lando. Mainly were heard profanity and threats. Solo tried to explain him that he tried to outplay the client, but failed. So now it is better that he is still in ”The Falcon” than to leave the ship totally stolen. The anger of his friend, however, did not abate, despite the logic in the decision that should be in his best interest. To soothe him, Han told him that surely one tenth of the previous friendly debt can be considered paid. Then turned off the transmitter for not to meet the next wave of expletives...

"Apparently, Lando disagrees that I'm with you here. This should mean that I can leave you on the first planet on which we land...” - Han said the customer.

"Will you do it?”

"Obviously not."

"Why? Lando was very angry?”

"Angry? If I abandon the ship, you will see what is really angry...” - said Han.

"If I understand you correctly, you're still here, because if you leave, then the curses of Lando will be even more...”

"You are fast to understand. Furthermore, I have no a reserve plan in this case...”

The laugh of the customer got clearly heard from under the helmet...

***

After 3 days of travel, the ship ended up on a planet worthy in its decline, to rival Tatooine. Of course, the world XCL3, had neither the glory of Tatooine nor an equivalent of Jabba. But that did not prevent it to be a classic ”dump of the Universe” attracting all possible criminals and adventurers, and a place where the Empire avoided sending troops.

Han landed the ship in the middle of something much resembling a graveyard for old ships. The appearance of ”The Falcon” perfectly fit the surrounding landscape and it could easily be considered one of the planned for recycling targets around.

From somewhere among the mountains of metal, appeared a man smoking a pipe. Looking at ”The Falcon” for 2-3 minutes, he said:

"This vessel is better than ninety percent of the ships here.”- Followed by a deep throaty laugh and then continued - ”But ninety-nine percent of the ships here are for melting.”

"Is the engine ready?” - Asked the client without losing much time.

"Of course, it is waiting for you.”- Replied the one with the pipe -”But for the money you offer me, I can give you a ship more as a bonus. Better than this one...”

"Get to work, Robert.”- Nudged him the client, pronouncing for the first time his name -”And send me the project so I can show Han what we are doing."

The client and Solo went to some sort of bar, obviously designed for customers waiting for some minor repairs. A little later a worker of Robert brought them a small computer. The customer whose name Han still did not know turned it on. A detailed hologram of the new hyper drive appeared in the air. Underneath it was written something very interesting: ”Price - 100,000 credits."

"A great bargain you have made for this engine.”- Han said, apparently referring to about 10 times the lower price, which was presented to him and Lando.

"Robert is not greedy, he is not bargaining. He always puts a fair price of his services. You accept or there is no deal.”- Replied the customer.

"But here is written 100,000 credits?” - Said Han.

"Yes, that's the price I have paid...” - said the client.

Han got a little confused and for a short time had nothing to say. Then got back:

"You lied us. At that price you will probably refuse to execute the deal. Is that the catch? Will you tell us that you had higher costs and will not pay. And ”The Falcon”– will it stay for you at the end?

"No, Captain Solo, there will be no tricks. ”The Falcon” is for you. I lied to you about the price, as part of my strategy to take me seriously. How would I look to offer an engine worth 100,000 credits on a ship that is not worth a quarter of that price?"

"A Quarter? I'm not sure that Lando would have sold it for 25 thousand?”

"Lando can have a high view for his ship, but 25,000 are even relatively high price for it.”

"Anyway, I'm not Lando and I can not sell it. But I really do not understand the logic an engine worth 100 grand to be installed on ”The Falcon”.

"There is quite accurate and correct logic, Han... When I install this engine, the ship will be much faster. I need a fast ship, in fact I need the fastest one. That’s why I am investing in such an expensive engine."

"I'm not daft, I know why such engines are being installed. I do not understand why you are placing such an engine in ”The Falcon”.

"Think about it, Solo. Why do I need an extreme engine in ”The Falcon"? You have enough intelligence to think..."

Han paused, and then said the only possible assumption:

"It seems that you need a ship that looks terrible, but flies beautifully..."

„Exactly. “The Falcon” is a perfect base for this project."

„At this dump I see a lot of ships like „The Falcon”. Following the words of Robert, at least nine percent of the ships here are better than „The Falcon”. You could avoid wasting time with us, and your ship would be already ready."

"Try thinking again, Solo? Besides the ugly ship that moves faster than a sports capsule, what else do I need? One hint I will give you - do you remember why I rented ship more expensive than I offered to buy it…?"

"Obviously you need a good pilot. The importance of „The Falcon” is to catch me or Lando in the operation."

„Exactly. That’s why you will receive a generous salary plus an engine worth 100,000, and not 10,000 credits."

Han thought again briefly, and then said:

„If you go back at all, Lando will be pleased. But actually he expects an engine worth 10 grand. Can you arrange for me after the mission to get back here and Robert to put a cheaper engine? I will take the difference in money?”

„You can talk to Robert about it. But I doubt you will get out with a profit."

„Why?"

„Because not the engine itself is the main expense, but the service of Robert. He created this engine, specifically for this order. If you need to remove it and put another, and then Robert to sell this one, you may not get back what I have paid him. I.e. he can not make a buyback at the same price. The work of Robert is expensive.”

„If you're right, it appears that this engine costs 100 grand, but is worth the money only if left installed in „The Falcon”.

„Yes, it is so…"

„In other words, Lando will get a much larger fee than me, although I will do the job."

"I think that is the way it will happen.”- Said with some irony the client.

Han dissatisfied took a sip of beer.

„This engine is unique, Han. A brand new research. Probably will be the first engine based on a closed loop. Its efficiency is much higher than anything on the market?”- Said the client while looking at the hologram.

„A closed loop?”- Choked Han -”We are going to suicide ourselves, right? There can not exist a closed-cycle engine. All are exploding."

„You are wrong, Han. This is a fully functioning prototype. Robert has tested it. Robert never sells faulty merchandise. The engine relative to the mass of „The Falcon” will allow it to reach a speed of at least 20% higher than that of light. And there will be more opportunity to develop. Robert claims that it can pump it up to 50% more than the speed of light. Of course, now I asked him not to risk and give us a robust engine."

"There is no engine based on a closed loop”- said Solo - „For 500 years engineers are trying to do this with no success. It is up to pure physical laws, restrictions that we cannot overcome.”

"I think some apprenticeship with Robert will be useful, Han...”

"Surely. I'll watch what he is doing during the install..."

The closed-cycle engine was a dream of generations of designers. The main idea was to use the energy many times - rather than once - as in conventional engines. With each use, due to losses the energy left has decreased, so it was virtually impossible to get a perpetual motion machine with infinite power. But any repetitive use of energy was adding efficiency to the classic single-cycle engine. Thus, it becomes possible to obtain a highly efficient engine that achieves a 5 or even 10 times higher output with the same amount of fuel. The only problem of the engine was its extreme instability, excessive overheating due to energy accumulation and blowing in 100% of cases in which it was activated. I.e. the only problem of this engine was that it is impossible.

But Robert didn’t think so. He needed only 4 days to mount it, which did not allow Han to absorb much of the „craft”. Robert was also not very sociable. He was apparently keeping the skills for himself. And he was right - they brought him regularly huge amounts of money. However, as a good trader, he provided very extensive documentation that allowed every good engineer to make repairs. There was even guidance on how to further increase the power, but with the proviso that it would bring a risk for the customer. Robert guaranteed stability for up to 1.2 times the speed of light after entering in the hyperspace.

Besides the engine, implemented were some changes on the computer, simply because in the galaxy did not exist a computer programmed to operate an engine with a closed loop. Quite separately, the computer in „The Falcon” deserved to be in a museum, and not actually in use.

When everything was ready, Robert went alone on the ship and tested it to several nearby star systems. Then parked it where it was taken from, and disappeared into the maze of debris, forming his world.

„Now it is your turn, Han. I would not dare to run such a miracle.”- Said the client.

"If this really makes 1.2 light speed, no imperial ship can catch us. We'll be on Betty Nebula in 2 days.”- Said Han.

"It’s enough for me to introduce you to the next stage of the plan...”– concluded the client, adding - „And soon you will know my name...”

***

A day later - when they were halfway to the planet of gambling, Han returned to his room at once shocked, but intrigued. This came after a 3 hour conversation with Janine. Yes, the mysterious client was a woman, and not an ordinary woman. Janine was coming from the planet Vulcan 4, known throughout the galaxy with the cult of genetic improvement. After generations of experiments carried out with real people on Vulcan 4 had been created the most beautiful, the smartest, the strongest, and even the most perfect, according to their own criteria, people. Their only problem was the amount. Vulcan 4 had become a proof that the exceptional quality cannot happen simultaneously with a large amount. So the planet was very sparsely populated, as a result of approximately 99.99% failed genetic combinations that were detected before the sperm and egg has gone blend. And accordingly they were destroyed, before it came to conception. The survivors, however, did look perfect. That's where the legend of unspeakable sex with a woman from Vulcan 4 was coming from. Han did not doubt that Janine has much to give him, if she wanted to do. But really, right now her fabulous beauty didn’t interest him. He had heard her plan for making ”business” at Betty Nebula. And he did not know if he was angry or interested.

As a planet of gambling, attracting every possible scum of the Universe, Betty Nebula had an impenetrable system of control and protection. Since the start of the super tournament many years ago there were no cases a ship could fly without permission. There had been attempts to do this, and none of them successful.

The access control was built up at 3 levels. Of the planet itself all ships landed at fixed locations, and immediately were placed under the control of a supercomputer. All computers of the ships were connected and subordinated to the supercomputer, and until it allowed the fly, it was impossible.

If someone got disconnected, this immediately activated the guards that up to 1 minute could reach every possible ship. Also was activated the second level of protection, which consisted of extremely accurate flak. A flak that fired without warning. Any ship that has taken off without permission has become a target of dozens of guns, whose shells could even reach the space. The system worked so quickly that the ship should be hit no later than 10 seconds after taking off. The power of the guns was enough to overcome even the shield of Imperial destroyers.

Finally, if someone still managed to pass the first 2 levels of control then in orbit was waiting an impressive fleet of over 100 extremely fast and well-armed patrol vessels. They also fired without warning.

In short, from Betty Nebula you could not fly off surprisingly and without permission. And exactly this was conceived by Janine.

She presented herself as a very good gambler who plays many games, but the most powerful is in poker. Of course, everyone who was going to Betty Nebula believed that he is a great gambler, so Janine was not intended to impress Han with that. Her plan was slightly different.

Betty Nebula was a huge corporation to make money. Like all gambling centers. With an experience accumulated over generations, and employees representing themselves great players it was absurd to think that it is possible for any player – no matter how good he is, to outplay the system. Not that aimed Janine. She wanted to take an advantage of the system.

Designed to suck as much money as possible from the players, the system of Betty Nebula applied every possible incentive for betting. Janine claimed to have discovered a ”crack” in the combination of two of these incentives - preliminary determination of the duration of the game, and manipulation in favor of the players at the earlier stages of the game.

Betty Nebula had perfect control of the duration of the game. It was the center of their business strategy. When you come to the planet you should announce in advance how many days you will play. The more you say, the more bonuses you get. But you have no chance to leave earlier. Additionally, you can accept one extra condition - to have increasing stakes. I.e. every day you have to bet more than the previous day. Unless you're broke, of course. If you accept this condition, you get not just bonuses, but also an access to big games and profits.

The second stimulus was not official. It was suspected that it exists, but the planet would never admit it. In order to amplify customers to bet more and more money, the system guaranteed their regular earnings in the early stages. So really, everyone could be at profit at some point - to make him believe that he is going well, and continue to bet more and more.

Janine concept was to combine these two elements of the system of incentives. She would determine the longest possible time to play and accept the condition for increasing bets. This way she would gain access to high profits. Then, based on her skills and informal incentives Janine intended to gain huge intermediate profits. Calculations showed that the optimum will be somewhere around the seventh or eighth day of the ten day cycle. When that happened, she planned to fly illegally and escape with the money.

Of course, the system of Betty Nebula prevented such departures, and here was the most daring part of the plan. ”This is the biggest gamble in the whole operation,”- said Han after hearing how it should happen. Janine just smiled in agreement.

The plan of escape relied on the idea to convert the advantages of the protection system on the planet into disadvantages. The weak point, according to Janine, was the universal connection to the main computer. It was placing under control each ship in the world. I.e. if somehow you succeed to infiltrate the computer all ships would go under your control. Janine has acquired a new and unknown super- virus that could penetrate even the imperial computers. She personally had tested it. Using this virus should give them a control over the supercomputer.

But the goal was not to get a false license for takeoff. It would be quickly found and guns be activated. The aim was brutal, brazen and indescribable...

Janine wanted to activate simultaneously hundreds of ships to fly off on automatic mode. With a command from the central computer and lack of pilots in them, the sky would be filled with so many targets that the flak would not be able to shot them down. Janine’s calculations showed that if the shooting is optimal and accurate, the chances of ”The Falcon” to be damaged were no more than 10%. ”Chance of one a ten to kill us”- said Han -”This looks like a Russian roulette”. Janine smiled again and said that the actual risk is even much smaller because the shooting will not be optimal. Moreover, it was assumed that in the confusion, actually no one will shoot, because losses from such a cannonade will be enormous. The planetary government could not pay hundreds of destroyed ships that had taken off due to the fault of the government, and not because of violation of the owner.

Once the ships got in space, they would be scattered in different directions so they could not be tracked simultaneously. This way would be outplayed the third level of protection.

The whole plan did not need Han to take place. Even the departure of ”The Falcon” was going to happen on command from the central computer, and it to drive it. The goal was in any way the behavior of the ship not to differ from that of others.

Han's work was to be there if something goes wrong. As promised at the beginning, Han was part of the contingency plan of the client.

He himself did not know what to do if something does go wrong. He could escape neither the artillery nor the patrol in orbit.

"However, you're the best reserve plan that I can think of”. - ended his doubts Janine. If there was something in which up to now there was absolutely no flaw, it was Janine's ability to figure out the perfect contingency plans.

Coming half-angry, half-interested in his cabin, Han hoped to avoid the reserve plan. Which logically led him to the conclusion that they should make the most of themselves to help the master plan. From a certain point of view, he could say that Janine has succeeded to motivate him to be the best assistant for the master plan. ”Was this the real goal?”- wondered Han…

***

The space around Betty Nebula was filled with hundreds of ships. The planet was not only a place for rich gamblers, but a center attracting hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in their dreams to get rich quickly. Interplanetary liners at that time were overwhelmed, and the period was a golden age for taxis. All this naturally led to queues of ships waiting to be adopted and to get a landing spot. Whatever was the ship, it had to go through a strict control procedure.

Just as expected by Janine, ”The Falcon” was analyzed by the radar computer and sent to the most reprobated ort. Janine had learned the procedures Betty Nebula, as far as possible - and the location of the guns. She also found that the ports that were accepting the cheaper ships were actually less covered by the guns. Of course, the world had enough guns to make it impossible to escape, even from such a port. But the chance of being accidentally hit in a mass shooting against many targets was lower. The truth was that ”The Falcon” in general could not be used to escape without the modifications of Robert.

„Millennium Falcon", please identify and accept the exit-code”- called a voice from the control of the flight.

„Here is ”The Millennium Falcon", under the command of Captain Solo, we are accepting the code...”- Han replied.

"Keet it carefully. You can not leave without it”- said the controller and continued -”Number of passengers?"

"Two”- replied Solo.

„Number of players?”

"Two”- Han replied. Both with Janine they agreed to register him, but without benefitting from the system of increasing stakes.

„How will you compete?”- Asked the controller.

Here Janine got into the conversation:

„One will participate in a 10 day cycle with increasing stakes. The other will be at free regime.”

"I see. The Boss and the driver.”- Noted the controller, with a flat voice.

Han jumped, but Janine put her hand on his shoulder and calmed him. It was just a jargon of administrators. Actually exactly such statuses she desired for her and Han so to arouse minimal suspicion.

Finally the voice concluded:

„Land on the eastern port 3082, position 45."

„All right. We are on the way”- Han replied.

The ship smoothly and without suspicious maneuvers went to the designated place. While landing Han looked around the field, filled with ships. Nearly all were of simple inexpensive class, and also almost all looked better than ”The Falcon".

"Even here we will protrude”- said in a bitter irony Solo.

„We will protrude exactly in a way it is planned”- Janine answered, then covered her beautiful face with the helmet. At least at the beginning no one would see her.

The hotel, that was booked, was a derelict. The hotel itself was a moderate and acceptable quality, but was in the worst neighborhood. The reason for the choice was simple - an indicator of the ”quality” of the neighborhood was the number of policemen guarding. Any self-respecting crook would have preferred neighborhoods with fewer officers.

Janine has booked fairly large apartment with separate rooms. Formally, the boss and the driver would have a common reservation, but in reality they would be separated inside the apartment. The client has ordered also the maximum package of extras like food and additional services. Han had a coupon for a free 10 days ahead. Or being more exact – for 7-8 of them.

„Tonight we will play for fun in the free access. You can try against me”- said smiling Janine -”Tomorrow we are starting the business.”

Han could not resist the offer. But they had to play really quite small bets because Solo rejected to play with money that Janine offered him as a gift. Instead he used 500 credits from his future payment, and they played out in a mediocre casino. As other players were involved, in fact the game was not exactly of Han against Janine. But Janine made of her 500 credits 2000. And Han increased his own only by 100. Actually he played well, and if Janine was not part of the table, he would have won more. But she simply outplayed all and finally there were only two of them at the table.

„We do not have to bet against each other,”- said Janine -”The fact is I have won. I have a lot more profit than you.”

"Surely in poker you are a little better than me”- Solo replied -”But perhaps this is just the beginner's luck."

The client laughed out loudly:

"You are hardly falling on your back."

„I never fall. It is just not polite to a lady to beat her at cards”– answered Han and added -”But now I have just earned 100 credits, so I can invite you to a dinner...”

„The apartment is full of food…”- Janine answered.

„An interesting response to reject...”- Said Solo.

„An interesting strategy for courtship…”- Said Janine.

„Courtship? Me you? This is obviously the belief of your species in its enchanting beauty.”

"It is not a belief but an objective fact. We are among the most beautiful in the Universe. And something that's useful to know - Vulcan 4 women are choosing their partner and they are not subject to courtship. When they want something, they get it.”

„Actually, all women can choose their partner”- Answered philosophically Solo -”And almost always they get it."

Janine laughed again from under the helmet:

"However, you must know that with us when you succeed in making a woman laughing, this does not mean you have won her."

***

The first three days of the actual game passed fairly monotonous and predictable. Han was walking and looking at the city in which there were many sights. Playing in less prestige casinos, he did not use the privileges of the big players, and was sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but as overall made a good plus. In the evening he accompanied Janine in expensive casinos with high stakes. It was extremely useful to watch the game, but the most interesting was to see how Janine was making a series of rallies not for profit, but in order to ascertain which of those present at the table was the agent of the government who had to lose money on other players to entice them to be more active next few days. Then itself Janine was manipulating her own losses, so to help these agents not to lose enough. I.e. to make them nervous. Of course, generally she didn’t come at a loss because she compensated by others. The idea and was just as brilliant as everything else in the plan. If government intervention was not going as it should, the government would have to increase it in the coming days. There would be more agents and lose more.

Generally, Janine was really a great gambler. If it was true the thinking that who goes good in gambling goes bad in love, it was probably futile to attempt a courtship.

On the fourth day, the interesting development happened that interfered even the flawless plan of the belle, whose beauty was up to now only seen by Han, because she kept moving with her helmet. But the change did not come from the government, the casino or generally from anything on Betty Nebula...

Around midnight they left the casino after the first day in which Janine took off her helmet, then generously allowed government agents to lose in her favor, while they were looking at her dazedly. With that the profit from the beginning of the operation reached 200 thousand credits. The plan from here until the seventh day was this amount to grow, and reach between 500 and 700 thousand credits. After that they had to leave because the last 3 days government incentives would be deactivated and would start a carnage among gamblers forced to continuously increase the stakes. Betty Nebula was very rich world, one of the richest in the galaxy. Obviously because it could make money well.

Han and Janine entered the apartment amused and pleased with the day, not without the help of generous devotion to the city's alcohol. Janine heard a strange noise and turned to see with her own eyes the man who closed and locked the door behind them, armed with a police rifle. On Betty Nebula it was forbidden to carry personal weapons. So it was logical to assume the gun was seized from a policeman. And now was in the hands of… Lando.

Han momentarily froze when he saw him, but then said:

„You committed a serious crime...”

„Yes, I will get 3 years minimum, if they arrest me for assaulting a police officer.”- Lando replied. -”But this way I guarantee that will achieve my other goals."

„I'm glad you figured out and came, my friend?”- Han said, trying to lighten the situation.

"I came to give you back those ten percent of the favor-repay, which you generously gave to me, and to take back ”The Falcon”. Take it along with all profits as a thief like you have no right on any share of the profit…"

„A thief?”- Said Han.

„Yes, even on Tatooine it is said so - a thief...”

"Look Lando, I did what was correct and possible. Otherwise we had to stand still in jail. And look here we are - a free boarding and an endless entertainment. We'll take a pay too."

"I see you are having a good fun, Han.”- Lando said this time looking at Janine. -”But now we have to talk about business, so get your lady out. This time you will pay for nothing...”

"Me to pay? Me to pay for...”

This time the unshakable calmness of Janine was shaken, and she fell into a hysterical laughter:

"I'm a prostitute, am I? Hahaha. Your friend has a sense of humor...”

Lando got a little embarrassed, but then snapped:

"Whatever you are – get out with or without money. With this scamp we have a serious conversation. If he is still alive at the end, and if he can still move, he'll call you to restore him to conscioness.”– The Gun went straight to one of the most beautiful people in the universe.

But instead of leaving, Janine just sat back in a chair.

Han joined again

"The Helmet. Lando, she is without a helmet. She is not a prostitute. This is our client. It is not good to chase her away, at least not if you want to get your money...”

"This is our client?”– Surprisingly said Lando -”This doll?"

"Yes.”- Said Han.

"Reasonable businessmen do not shoot at their customers, Lando.”- Janine said smiling. -”They do not do it, even for the perverse pleasure to make one of the most beautiful faces in the world a mess."

"Obviously we have a beautiful client. This makes me happy, but not less angry. “The Falcon” is mine, you have stolen it, and I'm here to take it back. Now!”- still stubbornly continued Lando.

"It is impossible, Lando. For many reasons.”- Janine answered.

“Many reasons?”- Lando said furiously raising his rifle - ”I know a reason more important of them all - the rifle is in my hands..."

"Even this important reason is not enough”- calmly snapped the client.

"Are you sure?”– a rage filled the eyes of the owner of ”The Falcon”. The gun closed to only half a meter from the beautiful face.

Han joined again:

"Lando, we're friends. You are holding the gun, but since we're friends, and old and good friends, you just cannot use it. There is no way you to shoot..."

Lando retreated for a while, but then recovered:

„Just because we're friends, you should acknowledge the impact of the gun and not put our friendship as a barrier. Once the rifle is in me, I’m the boss. Otherwise it would come out that having friends is a big fallacy in life. Even I do not use it, you have to behave properly and as a friend. And to behave as if I was not your friend and to comply with the gun."

Janine smiled again:

"An interesting argument is formed - in whose favor should work the friendship?

Lando put the gun down, but it still remained in his hands. Han had no intention to attack and disarm him. Janine continued:

"Why don’t you decide the dispute on the gaming table?”

Both jumped:

"The gaming table?”

"Yeah, guys, do a poker and then get back to serious issues...”

"Stealing my ship is quite a serious issue, beauty. And not a subject of a bet. I am taking it and going. I'm here to take it willingly. But I can take it also with the help of the authorities. The difference is that you will spend less in prison. I want you to understand see my generosity and magnanimity to you. I am doing it for you...”- Lando said nervously.

"Look, Lando, what you want is imossible...”- Han started to reply, but was interrupted.

"OK, Lando, get your ship. No need to do it with the authorities.”- Surprisingly said Janine.

"But! This way our plan is failing...”- totally surprised said Solo.

"Relax, Han. We'll be fine. The ship is yours, Lando..."

Lando himself was extremely surprised by the development. And he was not stupid he felt that something was wrong:

"What's the catch, beauty? What do you invented now?"

"I am doing exactly what you want, Lando. I am giving back your stolen ship. I'm guilty of theft. Han tried to escape, but the ship was mined. He had no choice but to come with me. Here now I release the ship, and I guarantee that I will not blow it up. You're free to fly. This way we with Han are no longer in a crime and the government cannot do anything. By the way, you're still in a crime - holding a stolen police rifle and hitting a policeman. It would have been very brave from you to go to the police to report us about the ship...”- said smilingly the client.

Lando was not impressed by the last remark. The Police could not charge him. Han and Janine could report him, but they had no evidence and he could always explain they do it, for devaluing their own offense in the case with the ship. A case that was very real and visible. But yet something was wrong:

"Your generosity is impressive, Janine. But I do not think it is enough to sacrifice the already invested money and miss the likely profit. Let the cat out of the bag...”

"No cat or bag. You asked something and got it. I have no responsibility for anything in the outside world...”

Solo joined again:

"Look, Lando. It is impossible to take the ship. I told you it's not just because we need the ship itself and its lack would fail the business. It is objectively impossible to take it. ”The Falcon” is blocked here till the end of the game. It cannot fly off, no matter who is the owner..."

"It cannot fly off?”- Lando asked incredulously.

"Yes, my friend, it can not. Janine entered into play with specific conditions and can not take off before the end of the game. Until then, the ship is blocked. Indeed, the objective truth is that the fastest way for you to take the ship is to follow the plan. It includes a casual getaway that is before the legal deadline. In fact, if you try to take the ship through the authorities it will take at least several weeks of bureaucracy. And we plan to be out in days."

Lando thought a bit and said:

"I can wait till the end of the tournament and then take the ship guaranteed in one piece. Why shall I risk with your plan that is doomed in any case, whatever it is?"

"Because you're a player, Lando. Because you're greedy, because you have chosen the life of a small-time crook...”- Janine replied smilingly.

"Very romantic,”- said Lando - ”A small-time crook... But don’t you think that the small-time crook is not eager to accept any crazy plan offered him?”

"I can not believe I'm hearing this from you, Lando... After the story with the klukluk...”- said Solo.

Janine finally took the control in her own hands :

"You will not ruin my plan, Lando. If needed I will buy the ship, or any of the other ships here. ”The Falcon” is specially prepared for the mission, but I can finish it with another ship too."

After such an ultimatum Lando was nothing left as a chance but to come out with honor. He thought about it - just to gain some time and not to look like he immediately agreed. Then he said:

"I think it's time to hear your plan before thinking further..."

Neither Janine nor Han were surprised of the reaction of Lando, after he heard the details of the plan. It was approximately the same as that of Solo - sanity and rejection.

"I think you should go searching for a new ship. Han may be crazy or in love, but I'm still in my mind."

„In love?”- Exclaimed incredulously Solo.

„Captain Solo adopted the plan before he saw that I'm a woman.”- Said Janine.

„Captain?”- Exclaimed incredulously this time Lando -”When did you become a captain?”

„Lando, if you leave now, you will lose everything...”- said the client.

"I am not losing anything, beauty. I am losing only the product of your imagination. However, if I stay will surely lose ”The Falcon”. Not counting the fact that they will kill me...”

Han frowned, while a huge smile dawned on the face of Janine.

„Look Lando, when we start a job, it I good to finish it. There are big risks. But isn’t this exactly what you wanted when you decided to become a smuggler?”- Asked Solo.

„Don’t worry, Han. Lando will join us. He is just bargaining for the price. I respect good tradesmen...”- said Janine.

„Bargaining for the price? Your mind is a professionally twisted, beauty...”- Lando replied.

"Every scamp like you haggles on the price. Even if he is doing it subconsciously. You're a greedy guy and rogue, Lando. For you the price is everything. And I'm willing to pay. I'll help you go directly to senator level on Briby...”

Lando shocked froze. Solo looked uncomprehending.

„How do you know about Briby?”- Asked Lando.

„Researching well my partners. It was not hard to guess why you went there three times in the election year...”

„Can anyone enlighten me on all this. What is happening on Briby?”- Slipped back to conversation Han.

„Briby is a planet here politics is a business. All posts are being bought and sold.”- explained Janine.

"The politics always is a business, and all positions are to buy and sell…”- said Solo.

Janine smiled...

„Briby is an extreme, extreme case. On this planet everyone accepts this as normal and no one is investigating. The purchase of positions is an ongoing process. Ultimately, the competition has led to a situation where this business is not very profitable. Sometimes you can get out at a loss...”- said Janine.

„Hahaha, I understand,”- giggled Solo - ”The Politics is a lucrative business, but only when you succeed to lie people that it is not a business. And this way to restrict the competition...”

„That's right. And on Briby the competition in the political trade does exist, making the power a business like any other - with the risk of both gain and loss...”

„And Lando wants to try there?”

Lando still could not come to his senses shocked by the depth of research that has been done by Janine. So he said nothing.

„Lando is a slicker who wants to buy cheap”- said Janine -”For several months up to now Briby is in conflict with the Empire and is a subject to economic sanctions. The Emperor presses the local government using currency devaluation and leaving them without reserves of imperial currency. The exchange rate is now ten times higher than before the crisis. I.e. anyone who owns imperial credits, and somehow brings them to Briby, there he can get ten times more of the local currency. Your friend finds it is the right time to buy a political position on Briby. And when the crisis is over, to cash a huge profit. I guess that he aimed to become a state councilor or a mayor of a medium- size city. Now I am raising the bet and suggesting to make him directly a planetary senator. What do you think, Lando?”

Neither the requested nor Solo said anything. One was numb from his brutal strip. And the other - from the amazement plans for a political career of his friend. Yet Solo first recovered:

„Lando, look, the politics is foolishness. Even if the time is good to buy, do not experiment with political posts. Buy something else - land, property, something local. The politics is madness, you can go out with a huge loss of it.”

„In politics is the big money, Han. All other are petty crooks. You can not make the big cash in the crime business unless you become a politician at some point. This is the peak of the criminal cartel.”- Lando replied, then turned to Janine – ”I'm confused, but I am also impressed, beauty. Your plan is absurd. But your ability to foresee everything and explore everything is amazing. If your plan is so perfect, you may have a chance to succeed. The bid for a senator seat is seductive. I'm divided.”

Obviously expecting exactly this, Janine pulled a deck of cards:

"When you are divided, there is a way to decide. Let the fate, chance, and game, do it for you...”

Lando fixed on the cards, but Han said:

„Lando, do not be deceived. She is a brilliant player. You have no chance against her. It would not be fair and equal play. It will not be the game to decide. If you accept to play, it means that everything is already decided...”

„A brilliant player? Thank you, Han. You for the first time admit that I am better than you?”- Janine said smiling.

Han turned :

„Me to admit? I said you are better than Lando. I acted as a good friend...”

„Exactly, Han. You and Lando are equal players. So I'm better than you...”

"Me and Lando equivalent? I can always beat that scamp...”- said Solo.

"Always beat me? Who taught you to play, boy...”- obviously affected responded Lando.

The dispute would continue between the two if Janine did not end it :

„ Han, in fact I do not intend to jeopardize your friend. I had no in mind for me to play with him. I meant you...”

"Me to play? I'm just a pilot. You with Lando are disputing about ”The Falcon” and about your plan to rob the government of Betty Nebula...”

„It is quite simple, Han. You will raffle ”The Falcon”. If Lando wins, he takes it, along with the counter - bet of twenty-five thousand credits that I will lace against ”The Falcon”. If you win you will stay, and Lando may decide to become our business partner.”

„What actually is risking Lando? If he loses, he will share the business if he wins, he will walk away with 25 grand without risk?”- Said Solo.

„The risk must not be very great for him if we expect to agree to play...”- Janine replied -”And 25,000 credits are not enough for a senatorial seat of Briby. He will need to return to its initial run for a mayor... If he stays, I will provide him a Senate seat...”

„25 grand without any risk, and though we have not met, against a senatorial place on Briby if we get out of here - is this the game?”- asked Lando.

„Obviously, this is the game, Lando. With the condition that to get one of these, you will have to play. You can still get ”The Falcon” and just fly with it...”

„What if I beat Han, and then still decide to stay?”

„Then you will have ”The Falcon”, 25 grand plus a senatorial seat on Briby...”- said Janine.

Lando took the cards from her hands and threw the gun on the couch.

„Greedy bastard...”- Han said with a grin.

The poker game ended in 11 rounds that happened in 1 hour, fixed in the pre-game commitment on the duration of the game. Janine was right that the two players are equivalent. However, Solo got several more coins. Lando was not very pleased, but did not seem angry.

„You have made a good deal, Lando. You have sold ”The Falcon” in exchange for a senatorial seat on Briby...”- said Janine.

„I wish you a success in business, my friend. The politics has pitfalls, be careful...”- said Solo.

Lando smiled and said:

„You can be very smart and both are big gamblers but actually I won. The game just decided my ambivalence - whether to join this mad plan. Obviously this would happen. But ”The Falcon” has not been lost...”- Lando laughed.

„What do you mean? You lost it?”- Confusingly said Solo -”The game was fair”...

„Han, my friend, the game is not just at the table and with cards. The game is on many places simultaneously. If you were interested in politics, you would know that...”

„What are you talking about? ”The Falcon” is mine, and you will have to kill me to get it. I'm not interested in your political nonsense. The game is all about, and it is over...”

„Han, my friend, we are on a world of gambling. Here are in force specific laws on gambling. One of them is that every bet that is not registered and is not made in a licensed gambling hall is invalid. Though we have not played...”

„Who cares about the law? We played each other. You lost...”

„Yes, I lost, but according to law this loss is invalid. ”The Falcon” remains mine. Actually I risked nothing. If I had won, I would not tell you about the law, and I would get the 25 grand of beauty...”

„Technically he is right, Han. There is such a law. I never thought he would use it to trick us...”- said Janine.

"If he plays this way, why we must work with him? Let ”The Falcon” to him to fly, and we'll buy a new ship. Why we need such a partner - a crook?”

"We are all crooks, Han”- said Janine - ”The Falcon” is best suited for the mission. Moreover, I think it will eventually remain for you. Senator Lando would not need this jalopy on Briby. He will get a much more comfortable there and paid by the government. Most likely he'll let you use ”The Falcon” for the duration of his political adventure. Right, Lando.”

„Yes, there is no more suitable person whom to leave the ship. This will keep my chance to go back to smuggling, if my plans of Briby fail...”- Lando said.

"Obviously the poker anyway has produced a result...”- said Janine.

„Lando, once we are out of this world with its laws you will take ”The Falcon” only over my dead body. Take it now, or the game is valid and you lost...”

"This obviously is a dispute that will continue in the future”- said Janine smiling.

„Keep well my ship, Han. Captain Solo - now officially...”- Lando finished.

***

In the last 3 days the plan of Janine did not meet new obstacles. Lando and Han cruised among casinos for poor betting small amounts, making small profits. In the eve they joined Janine as part of the servants in the games of the elite players. On the sixth day Janine made a profit of 300 thousand credits, and then deliberately lost half of them on the final bet. One of the other players smiled. Han and Lando later realized that this was a tactic aimed at reducing the stakes the next day. Janine explained that between the sixth and seventh day there is no sense of such tactics, but she has started it to allow its repetition on the seventh seems logical and not sudden. Other players also took a similar approach, apparently to optimize the flow of pledges by the end of the tenth day.

And so came the crucial seventh day. Janine played very well and got a profit of 1 million credits. Then - as expected, she prepared for final bets on which Han and Lando already expected losses. Just before the last deal, however, in the room there was a small incident. One of the losers, obviously taken a little more alcohol, got into a fight with another player, calling him a ”crook". The waiters intervened, followed by the security, but the drunken one was pretty big and strong, so it became a melee which delayed the game. Then there had to come to the casino manager to examine the case and finally - deliver the offender to the police. So the very last dealing was delayed by about twenty minutes. Janine smiled knowingly, and both friends stood in bewilderment what exactly a new part of the plan has been implemented, which they did not know.

In the last move, the profit fell from 1 million to 500 thousand, and the obvious government agent came and greeted Janine for good governance of the gaming process. Generally from the beginning of the operation up to 7th day Janine had accumulated about 700 thousand.

After that the events went like wildfire.

The three got back from the casino straight to the ship, along with the money. Janine activated the virus and while it triggered, was able to explain to Han and Lando what was happening.

"We have to leave in half an hour. Banks will reopen after that and the players will deposit their money. But if our operation starts earlier, it is possible other players who have been profitable to decide to use the chance...”

"So that is the reason of that brawl in the casino?”- Said Lando.

"Yes, it cost me ten thousand credits...”- Janine answered.

"You are creating a cover”- said Solo - ”If other players get away with big money, it will be difficult to find exactly who has organized everything.”

"Exactly. If they find us the only ship that is not found empty, they will easily guess. But if there are other ships like our, it will be more difficult..."

"This planet is full of greedy sharp-witted bastards. Surely there will be other ones…”- Said Lando.

"And if in the right moment the money is with them, and not in the bank, they will use the chance...”- Janine said, adding - ”The banks close at midnight for 1 hour for prophylaxis and accounting. During that time they do not accept deposits. So the profit must wait. The brawl helped to slow the last bet, so we entered the interruption. Now we have at least a dozen of players that hold hundreds of thousands of gold-chips."

„A great temptation.”- Said Solo.

Meanwhile, the virus was able to cope and give access to the central computer at the spaceport.

„Take these vessels out of the forced launch.”- Janine gave a list to Han.

„The bastards, that will also profit?”- asked Lando.

„Yeah...”- Janine answered.

„It’s showtime”- said Solo and sat in the pilot's seat. Lando disappeared somewhere in the back part of the ship.

Janine launched.

***

The officer-on-duty on the radar with a great stupefaction started to see the greatest adventure that would happen in his life. At one and the same time 975 ships signaled a take off and in an unimaginable chaos went up. From the communication device came a startled scream of the officer of anti-aircraft artillery:

„What is this, what are all these vessels? Who launched them?”

„I do not understand, call the Coordinator...”

„The coordinator is here, I hear you. Report...”- said a third voice.

„The guns are following the maximum number of targets. We can take down a few dozens of ships. But so far it has never happened like this. These are thousands of ships...”- said the military.

„So far 975 have taken off. We receive alerts that others are preparing...”- explained the radar-officer.

"Shall I shoot, sir? It will be a carnage…”- said the military.

The Coordinator totally confused could not answer immediately. Then he escaped from responsibility in the only possible way:

„Get me the Chancellor. Find him immediately, even if he is in bed with his wife...”

In the next few minutes about 300 more ships flew, including ten without a command from the central computer. Ten from the Janine’s list...

***

"The plan is going so easily that I'm starting to have a fun...”- said Solo.

"I always hope it does not reach to the reserve option. Anyway it is here. I hope you earn the easiest money in you life...”- Janine answered.

But then appeared the first surprise. And not from the confused officers on Betty Nebula...

Within a few seconds, the number of flying objects in the planet's atmosphere has tripled. This surprised even the initiators of everything, and especially the developer of the plan...

„Escape pods?”- Exclaimed Han -”Thousands of rescue capsules are launched from ships. Probably all available capsules...”

„Genius. A great idea, even I've missed it. Now the radar will be totally overwhelmed, and the chance of a cannon to hit us decreases even more...”- said Janine.

„But how...”

„It must be the computer. There is no one else to order...”- said Janine and stared at the screen... -”It is not possible from below to order this. There is no logic to pose more problems, even if they regain control. It is more likely to get the ships down...”

„Then who...”

"Obviously it must be our command...”

"We...? Lando. Where is Lando?”

Only now they saw the signal on their own computer that the escape pod of ”The Falcon” was also launched.

Janine laughed heartily:

„He has implemented our own plan against us. He has gotten away with our capsule. The rest were launched to hide him, not to help us...”

„It is hardly to believe he escaped only with the capsule...”- said Solo.

Janine went back to check the money. Meanwhile, ”The falcon”, along with the thousands of other ships approached the boundary of the atmosphere. From the surface still there were no a single shot.

On communication screen appeared the grinning face of Lando...

„You could say that we are now ”quits”, my friend”- he said the surprised Solo. - ”I took my share, some interest and the rent for ”The Falcon” for 10 years. You can use it safely, but do not crush it...”

„Lando, you have gone crazy? What will you do with all that money down? They will declare a martial law. Sooner or later they will find you and will reveal that you are connected with us...”

„Why do you think I will go down? There are so many ships around...”

Only now Han understood everything. Lando has really invented an ingenious and serving him only addition to the plan of Janine. The capsule was a standard model, which meant that it could be attached to most of the ships in the air. Then he would open the hatch manually and also manually – to disable centralized control.

"You will steal a ship? You will become a real thief. You - Lando!”

„Not just a thief, my friend. A double thief. I will steal the ship and the control of it from you...”

„The control of the ship? Why I should care about one boat?”

„I knew my friend, you will not bother me. That's why when I'm done I'll return the control of this armada...”

„I'll get back the control?”

„Of course I’ll return it back. Let you deal with your ships. You’re a great pilot. Pilot them all. In a minute I am going to my own ship and you have your control...”

Han pushed a few buttons on the computer and found that in fact the thousands of ships currently in the atmosphere were not under his control. Lando has moved the control to the console that was with him in the rescue capsule. Perhaps it was possible to get it back, but it would take some time. Much more than a minute.

Janine returned:

„We lack about one hundred and fifty thousand,”- said she -”Your friend highly appreciates his services."

"With this share of money he obviously has self-proclaimed to be your partner. About one-third of the profits taken. Much more than his share, and all possible interest...”

„A good crook is Lando. Being a good hustler means not only to come up with a great plan, but to apply a simple plan at the right time...”- said Janine.

The minute passed, then Lando reappeared on the screen. All ships were already in space, while the rescue capsules turned in all directions on the surface.

„I am returning the control, I took this wonderful sport yacht for me... I'm a little faster than you and most of the hunters...”

„Lando, the owner of the ship will find you. You should have taken something cheaper...”

„Let me ride conveniently. And the owner will find his ship, but not me. I am not a thief, I will not keep the ship. I even think of leaving him 1000 credits as a rent...”

„So the only robbed one will remain me...”- said Janine.

„Yes, I have stolen the control over the armada. But now you have it back...”- the computer signaled that the link to the central computer is again in ”The Falcon”. Lando then added :

"As for the money – there is no theft. This is my share of the profits, the cost of a Senate seat on Briby, a little interest, and the rent ”The Falcon” for 10 years. That last one you can search back by Han, who is currently your debtor...”

"A lease for ”The Falcon”? I will pay rent for my own ship?”

„My ship, Han...”

„As the main loser in this let me get back the common sense, guys...”- Janine said - ”We have a more important problem at the moment. We must get out of here...”

„I'll with pleasure follow your plan...”- said Lando.

„You have a better chance if you help us, Lando. Take the control of part of the armada...”

„What?”- Lando exclaimed.

"Managing thousands of ships is difficult. Get some of them and we will work together...”

„You offer me becoming again partners?”- said Lando.

„We have never ceased to be. Especially since we've been on the target of thousands of guns...”- said Janine.

„I do not want to have anything to do with this scam, liar and thief...”- called Solo.

„Han, I’m still the boss here. You're a pilot. If you have better ideas, let me know. But the objective reality shows us that it is more profitable to work with Lando than to do it alone...”

„You're a gambler devoid of emotion...”

Janine smiled happily again.

Lando took the control of about 300 vessels, and went with them in the direction of the nearest star. The rest remained in the disposal of Janine and Solo. The two armadas were surrounded by a few dozen fighters of the patrol of Betty Nebula. Nobody fired. It was a matter of minutes to get to a place convenient for hyper jump. A time, apparently completely insufficient for the ones below to invent anything.

But the same could not be said about another participant in the game. A totally unexpected participant... And at the same time - a participant who must always be expected...

The computer alarmed that someone is scanning the communication channels and is testing jamming. No later than between ninety and one hundred seconds the link between the central computer and the ships would be interrupted. They would lose the control.

„The Empire”- called Han. At the same time on the radar appeared four destroyers. One went to the armada of Lando, the other three followed the main group.

"They will disable the remote control and then easily detect the ships that are manually controlled”- Lando said - ”They will also break the link between us."

„What’s the Empire doing here?”- Han shouted angrily.

„Probably looking for a prey...”- said Janine - ”The game is up to you, Han. My plan was up to here. You are the alternative...”

„A prey…”- wondered Lando.

„These are thousands of abandoned in space ships. The one who saves them will have some judicial rights. May be they will arrest the ships and extortion insurers to pay a ransom...”- said Janine. -”But we have another problem. We have to get out of here...”

Han looked scary. The panic and chaotic situations were his destiny. His ”luck” was to find only such a deals. He jumped and drew from the hand of Janine her mobile computer. Then tied it with a cable to the ship's computer and played on the keyboard.

„Lando, get ready to fly among the asteroids. I am taking your ships back...”

„I'd love to give them.”- Interference could already be heard...

Han finished with the computer. Four seconds later, the connection to the central computer broke and Lando disappeared from the screen. And thousands of ships flew around in all directions...

„Asteroids?”- said Janine.

„Not exactly. Worse than this. Asteroids fly under any physical laws. These fly under random rules...”

„What did you do with my computer? You almost twisted my arm because of it...”- Janine asked while rubbing the affected area.

„I followed your backup plan, beauty... I started a training computer game to generate coordinates for ships. Now they are flying to constantly changing random coordinates around the planet...”

„Awesome”- marveled Janine - ”My plan was perfect. I have chosen the perfect reserve plan...”

„Now we have to get out...”- Solo said and began to maneuver between the ships assigned as asteroids.

„If the vessels begin to collide, the cost of our robbery will become incredible...”- said Janine.

„We are certainly in a space adventure already”- Han replied - ”But the ships will not collide. I entered coordinates to which to go, but the on the way they will run on autopilot. If there is a risk of collision, the automation will make them pass each other.”

„You deserve a bonus fee”.- said Janine.

„You're pretty generous for just robbed...”- said Solo.

A minute later, a little before they reach a convenient position for a hyper jump, The Empire made its final blow. A thick cloud enveloped the entire armada. The computer detected thousands of trackers that were attaching to each ship. Surely at least a few were on the hull of ”The Falcon”.

„Tricky”- said Han. -”Now they will just track the one who will jump into hyperspace and then catch him as he is out. Surely all imperial posits are now informed to monitor the signal of these tracking devices.”

"However, we'll win some time. They will not catch us now...”- said Janine. -”We can go straight to Robert to clean the ship."

„Whoever we go to, it will be a death sentence for him. We have to fend for ourselves.”

Han worked something on the computer, and after about a minute, the screen showed a broken line, which obviously had to be their path of escape.

"We have only one advantage - the speed of the ship. This is a series of coordinates that are most distant from the nearest outpost of the Empire. On average we will have between twenty minutes and two hours before they come. And we will hope that accidentally there will be no another imperial ship nearby. We will travel to these points, and while staying there, will be inspecting the hull outside and seek the tracking devices. And this way until we find the last of them. Nor do I know how many devices we are looking for, neither how many times we will have to go out.”- Said Han.

„The reserve plan has become more complicated...”- said Janine.

„Yes, we'll have a bit of legwork to do...”- said Solo and activated the hyperdrive for the first jump.

Lando saved himself easier. He had an escape pod, and a ship that already did not think to hold. He programmed a complex trajectory in autopilot and on the way escaped with the capsule. The pod itself was inside the ship and there was no chance of tracking device to be hooked to it.

***

„So we came to the end. The deal is over...”- Janine said three days later, after twenty jumps and tiring breaks between them. Sometime after the tenth jump the space suit Han was damaged, leaving only her in working condition. So she herself had to finish the cleaning. Han joked that at least part of their profit is eared by honest labor.

„Yes, I can say that I personally did not get out at a loss.”- Solo replied, looking at fifteen thousand credits that were awarded. - ”But your profit is a little off the expectations.”

„However, I am at a good profit. And for me, more importantly, we were able to outplay the system of Betty Nebula. Something unseen for centuries...”

„In fact never seen...”

„You and Lando are going out at almost equal profit level. He never realized how much the upgrade of ”The Falcon” cost.

„Yes, he outplayed us with the money, but at the end, ”The Falcon” is upon us with an engine for 100 grand...”- happily said Han. -”And is mine...”

„Sooner or later it will become popular what a ship has become ”The Falcon”. Then Lando will insist keener that it is his property...”- said Janine.

„Lando will see ”The Falcon” only on a picture. I'll find a way to legalize and register my ownership. On Tatooine, anything is possible. Especially if the alterative claimant is absent...”

„And not only there is this way...”

"Ultimately, how much is your profit. Approximately I see less than half a million, net of costs...”

„You could say it is tens of millions...”- Janine smiled enigmatically.

„Tens of millions? Have you filled all vessels that flew with gold?”- Amazed said Han.

"No Han, the game was just a small part of the whole plan...”

"Oh, your plans, your plans again...”

„Han, the life in general is a huge game. Everything is a small part of this game – a small game in the game...”

"Forgive my ignorance, but I does not yet have an idea how we have won tens of millions, and how Lando missed to take one third of them self-declaring him a partner...”

„It is quite simple, Han. High stakes are not in the casinos, but on stock exchanges. The shares of gambling corporations on Betty Nebula are always flying to the heavens before the annual tournament. A very good time to open a short position against them. Especially if you know they will collapse rapidly...”

"They will collapse because the entire galaxy will see what happened...”

„Exactly...”

"It was not about the money, not even for the sake of vanity. Everything was for the shares...”

„That's right. If I had failed, I would have lost millions because the tournament emerged as very successful, and the shares would still go up after it. But after what had happened the market will collapse - at least for a few months...”

"With your ability to make such complex combinations, I wonder why you are not in politics yet. The big players are there...”

"I may enter the politics soon. Lando will need a good partner...”

"You will play again with Lando? With this bastard?”

„Lando is a good target for me. Very soon he will realize in what a swamp he has entered. On Briby it is easy to buy a political office. The difficulty is to cash it in competition with others who have bought offices...”

„You mean, Lando could soon go to loss...”- Solo grinned.

„I'm pretty sure that he will go to loss, unless he has an experience in the vilest policy areas...”- said Janine - ”And then I will come to help him”...

"I feel great with my 15 grand...”

„Yes, and with ”The Falcon”, equipped with the fastest engine in the galaxy, worth 100 grand...”

„Now I think that if Lando starts sinking on Briby he can sooner start making problems with ”The Falcon”. I'll need to expedite the registration...”

„I also think you should speed it up. Jabba will make money out of thin air...”

Solo’s face got a sour look. Then he tried a provocation:

„Once you will make so much money from the stock exchange, why not let me the profit from gambling. Just a several hundred thousand...”

"You did well, Solo, but the bonus I have already given to you. All 15,000 are for you, including the share of Lando. And those few hundred thousand for me worth more than millions...”- Janine answered.

„Again, you have a plan? One in which thousands will mean more than millions? Money is money, what do you plan now...?”

„Look, Han, this money is something very rare that I get. This is money that I really had to work for, with hard labor, and even risk. I almost do not have any money of this type in my life. And last three days I really had a lot of hardworking. Understand me, it's strange to me...”

„It's amazing! You can come back at the poor class at any time. Welcome. There is no entry ticket...”

„Witty you are...”- said the beauty, then stood up and said -”However, I will give you a bonus, which is also very valuable. It will stay for a lifetime...”

A long and thorough kiss followed, and then Han tried to keep her close to himself.

„Do not be greedy, Han. A kiss from a woman from Vulcan 4 is a rare gift in the galaxy. But do not be greedy. There will be no more... And Lando is unlikely to get one...”

The last words delivered to Solo almost the same pleasure as the kiss itself...

***

Anyway someone has made even a bigger that Janine’s profit from the Betty Nebula incident.

“Are we ready with the investigation?”– asked the boss.

“Almost. We know the most probable motive and the most probable result. We just don’t know who the executor was…”– answered the servant.

“Executors don’t matter. They are just random people…”– said the boss.

“Anyway it is good to investigate if it was not a Jedi work. This operation was so brilliant, that it can be presumed, a Jedi mind stays behind…”– said the servant

“I don’t believe Yoda or Obi Wan will concentrate their power on making money…”– said the boss.

“Every rebellion needs money…”– said the servant.

“OK. Check it, my friend… But in all cases, the big money is for us. We must thank these criminals…”– said the boss.

“Is Betty Nebula ready for the extended federal contract with The Empire?”

“It is a matter of days. Very soon Betty Nebula will ask officially for our protection, and in exchange will accept additional Imperial taxes. Our revenue from this planet will rise at least 10 times…”– said the boss.

“This will accelerate our major projects…”– said the servant.

“Yes, my friend…”– finished the boss.

As Lando wisely had said – the politics is the greatest of all games…



(More of Young Solo adventures - soon)

October 6, 2013
Dobri Bozhilov


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