Life's Illusion is a rebuilt and heavily modified Mon Calamari DeepWater-class Light Freighter (turned Space Yacht) currently owned and operated by Tim Battershell (formerly Tim Dodd). Affiliated to the Guardians of Light, she is based at the Temple of Light, Saridona Prime.
Ordered in 26 BBY by Survey and Colony Specialist Transport (SCST), she was launched from the Mon Calamari Orbital Shipyards (Dac) the following year under the name "WaveRider", joining SCST's small fleet of her sister-ships in supporting newly established Colony projects and Scientific Survey expeditions. With their 85 ton cargo capacity, reasonably compact (45 metre x 34 metre) hull-form, accomodation for up to six passengers, two month endurance and independence from any sort of conventional landing facilities; provided that there was a nearby body of water of sufficient size for their WTOL (Water Take-off Or Landing) capability; SCST considered the DeepWater-class to be an ideal platform.
The Clone Wars and Imperial EraEdit
With the expansion of the Clone Wars (22 to 19 BBY) across the Galaxy, SCST's entire fleet of DeepWater-class ships were taken into service by the Grand Army of the Republic both as supply vessels and as Covert Insertion craft for Advanced Reconnaissance Commando/Republic Commando operations; due to their ability to operate as submarines up to a one kilometre depth. Several of the fleet were lost in this latter role, but "WaveRider" survived the war. Her Ship's Log suggests that she was tasked to transport an all-Jedi Strike Team on one operation, but all details of that mission appear to have been deleted from the records.
After the end of the Clone Wars, the survivors from the SCST fleet were retained in Imperial Service almost up to the Battle of Endor. "WaveRider" is thought to have been assigned to Imperial Intelligence (including being used to transport members of the Inquisitorius).
Demobilisation and IdlenessEdit
The original plan for all the ex-SCST DeepWater-class survivors on being declared surplus to Imperial requirements was for them to be expended as live-fire targets. "WaveRider" avoided this fate by being hi-jacked en-route by a group of would-be Spice and Deathstick smugglers, who were intending to use her in their planned operation. However, poor maintenence was found to have degraded her WTOL and submersible capabilities beyond the point at which even smugglers were prepared to take a risk, so, to defray some of the costs of the hi-jacking, she was quickly sold to a collector.
When the collector, resident in a System still under the control of the Imperial Remnant, found out that his new purchase had been stolen from the Imperial Navy, he promptly deposited her in a concealed hangar and did his best to forget all about her! Up to the time of her purchase by The Great Prestorius in 120 ABY, her only function became that of a static play-room for successive generations of the family's children.
In common with all other Stage Illusionists, The Great Prestorius was paranoid about keeping his secrets to himself and his back-stage assistant, even suspecting employees of reputable transport companies of wanting to pry into the Illusions' inner workings. This had meant that he had been forced to limit his appearances to venues with an adjacent spaceport; and while he had looked at the more recent MC-18 Light Freighter, it's lower hold area than his YT-1300 counted against its WTOL capability. So when he was informed of an old DeepWater-class lying idle (even if in need of major refurbishment) he jumped at the chance to purchase it. "WaveRider" was, with difficulty, extracted from her lodgings and shipped back to Dac for a full rebuild and upgrade to modern standards.
The shipyard stripped "WaveRider" right down to her spaceframe, inspected it and replaced anything at all doubtful. She was then rebuilt with entirely new hull-plating (in the traditional Dark Green finish), and the following upgrades:
- an outsized power-core
- a Class 1 hyperdrive with Class 10 backup (in exchange for her old pairing of Class 2/Class 15)
- new High-Power Sublight engines
- the latest version of Chempat Supreme Defender Shields (the original Mon Calamari Main Shield suite being retained as a backup and for submerged operation)
- Wiring and avionics were completely replaced throughout; including a brand-new Navigation Computer with a five-jump memory
- dual Light Turbolasers replaced the original dual Laser Cannons in her dorsal-turret
Finally, her WTOL and submersible capabilities were completely restored and tested in Dac's oceans. As she was now essentially a new ship, The Great Prestorius renamed her "Life's Illusion".
The newly rebuilt and renamed ship was nearly the death of the Great Prestorius and his pilot on their very first voyage! Instructed to "see what she can do", the pilot pushed the sublight throttle levers to their stops, resulting in "Life's Illusion" taking off like a scalded kybuck at far beyond the expected acceleration and (almost) overloading the compensator! The pilot (after rapidly throttling back) was the first to recover, saying "Well it makes sense she'd want to stretch her legs after being idle so long, but all the same Sir, let's say that we don't take her beyond three-quarters power from now on!". A white-faced and shaking Great Prestorius could only nod in agreement!
In late 134 ABY, The Great Prestorious' pilot/backstage-assistant died suddenly (due to an undetected, congenital, heart condition) during a supply stopover on Agamar. The Great Prestorious asked the Director of the Agamar Security Force if he could recommend a highly-trustworthy suitable replacement and was introduced to Tim Dodd, who (in addition to being a childhood friend of the Director's son and a known inventor and tinkerer) had recently been instrumental in solving a rash of high-profile, but apparently inexplicable, burglary cases by tracing the cause back to rigged ROM chips in the residences' Security Systems. Tim, also an aficionado of (theoretical) Practical Jokes, hit it off with The Great Prestorious right away and was employed on the spot.
An attempted, but failed, pirating of "Life's Illusion" the following year brought a change to her outward appearance. Agreeing that they had been lucky that the four would-be pirates had been none-too-intelligent Weequay, The Great Prestorious turned "Life's Illusion" into possibly the largest Illusion that he ever created, using nothing but paint.
Her pristine hull was dappled all over with fake rust-patches, fake (large and sloppy-appearing) seam-welds, fake hull-patches (all in slightly different shades of green to what could be seen of her real hull and to each other), dents and other impact scars plus some very convincing-looking weapon-damage.
When finished, she appeared to be a highly dilapidated, hard used and poorly maintained freighter, one landing away from the scrap-heap or else making her last run for an inflated insurance claim on both her hull and a (non-existent, or worthless) putative cargo. As an additional safeguard, Tim installed gravity projector intruder-traps in the area of the air-locks' inner doors and Boarding Ramp, so any future uninvited 'guests' would find themselves prostrate and helpless, but "Life's Illusion" was never troubled by pirates again.
In 138 ABY The Great Prestorious was shot and killed, on stage and in mid-performance, by a Sith-affiliated Bounty Hunter who was so deceived by the quality of the Illusions that he thought he had encountered an on-the-run Jedi. However, the head Sith in the area had already confirmed that The Great Prestorious was not even slightly Force Sensitive, and had been looking forward to being amazed (like any other paying customer) at a private performance later that evening.
The Bounty Hunter (a Rodian) was immediately arrested by Sith minions (who, unlike the hapless Bounty Hunter, were in the know about The Great Prestorious' status) was hauled away and never seen again. Tim was shocked to learn that; due to a highly-unusual, but perfectly legal, stipulation in the childless and family-less Great Prestorious' Will; he, as the pilot/assistant at the time of the Illusionist’s death, had inherited not only "Life's Illusion" and the Stage Equipment but all Prestorious' not inconsiderable wealth as well.
After the funeral (not attended by any Sith, in an unusual demonstration of tact), Tim took "Life's Illusion" back to Agamar; where she was hangared (still in her leprous disguise) during his stint as an Agamar Security Force Consultant.
Preparation and QuestEdit
Prior to seeking out the Guardians of Light, Tim engaged a team of Verpine technicians to overhaul and fine-tune "Life's Illusion".
- The exterior remained untouched; both as effective camouflage and as a tribute to his late friend and benefactor.
- The Pilot's Station was modified to allow one-being operation of all main Ship's Systems (Shields, Navigation, Communications and Sensors) from the Pilot's chair as well as from their normal Stations. A much simplified Fire Control System was installed to operate the turret by remote control - firing is possible dead ahead or dead aft (selectable) at zero angle of elevation. Aiming (manoeuvring the entire ship to bring the guns onto target) is guided by the Force or by a small, on-mounting, holo-cam. The turret also retains full functionality if a being is available to crew it.
- The acceleration compensator was replaced with a much higher-capacity model.
- Everything (including the armament) was raised to new levels of power and efficiency.
- The installation of a hand-built (and extremely sensitive) passive sensor suite, coupled with powerful enhancement algorithms and their integration with the main control systems, completed the preparation work.
This overhaul also solved the riddle of the ship's abnormally high acceleration and blazing Sublight speed, which turned out to have been a simple clerical error on the part of the engine suppliers, who had supplied Mark VI engines instead of the ordered Mark IVs. As both Marks were identical in every way except in power output and labeling, Tim and the Verpines concluded that the error had not been caught due to the peculiarities of Mon Calamari eyesight.
In a straight-line trial from a drifting start she even outran an Agamar Security Force Incom R-28 Starfighter!
It was never revealed exactly how Tim was able to slice into the Bureau of Ships and Services databanks and change the status of twelve lost or scrapped DeepWater-class ships back to 'active', but it did become known that all of them ended up registered to legitimate, but non-trading and inactive, businesses set up (through reputable local legal firms) on as many different planets throughout the Galaxy. Agamar Security Force inolvement and blessing can probably be assumed, but access to the BoSS encryption keys is another matter. Suffice it to say, it happened. At least two of these alternate ship identities were compromised during the two-year, convoluted, journey to Saridona Prime after encounters with over-persistent presumed Sith.
Then one day, "Life's Illusion" exited hyperspace near Saridona Prime...
No two ships (even sister-ships) built by the Mon Calamari are ever identical, but this diagram conforms closely to the after-rebuild layout of "Life's Illusion"; the only real difference being that she now has two airlocks - an additional one having been fitted in a 'mirror-image' position on her port side.
1. Cockpit:- (a) Pilot's Station, (b) Co-Pilot's Station, (c) Shield/Sensor Station
2. Port Airlock (with extendable boarding tube) and Port Escape pod
4. Equipment Storage
5. Boarding Ramp
6. Crew/Passenger Cabins
8. Medical Bay
9. Crew/Passenger Lounge
10. Ship's Computer
11. Environment Control Console
12. Gunwell access
13. Lower Sensor Pod access
14. Port and Starboard Holds:- (d) Loading/Unloading Elevators
15. Engineering Section
16. Tool Locker
17. Starboard Airlock (with extendable boarding tube) and Starboard Escape pod
Although "Life's Illusion" is armed, neither of her two most recent owners have ever used her weaponry as a first resort, preferring to rely on her dilapidated looks, her speed and guile for defence. Tim has even added a new manoeuvre (or, rather a long-abandoned one) to her reportoire, after having discovered it in a very, very, old printed-page book! The manoeuvre does require a nearby airless moon or planet; but is an almost infallible escape and evasion tactic; and, in the event of a pursuing pilot actually managing to match "Life's Illusion's" moves precisely, presents any pursuer who is unfamiliar with the manoeuvre an unexpected problem on exit.