The Lambda-class T-4a
shuttle Sprite emerged from hyperspace in the Essesia
system after department Brentaal IV with cargo, two
Stormtroopers, and a pair of mercenaries. At the
controls was Lieutenant Hawkins, a young
officer from Talus, who had been assigned to what the
local Imperials had called 'milk runs' ... shuttle
missions that ran between the bustling planet of Brentaal IV in the Bormea sector and Esseles in the
neighboring Darpa sector, the capital of the Imperial
Oversector that contained them both. Pilots like Hawkins
had been doing this route for months without incident,
and they had begun to take a lackadaisical approach to
the assignment. As he looked at the viewport at the
large Imperial naval force and the omnipresent TIE
fighter patrols he transmitted the clearance code to the
star destroyer Warspite, the command ship. "This is the
shuttle Sprite. Priority cargo bound for Esseles," he
announced, in a proper voice, before leaning back in the
seat and letting the autopilot handle the rest.
During the few hours of
flight, both Tycho and El-Nay had kept their helmets on.
If it had been a much longer flight, well, he wouldn't
have bothered; the troopers weren't going to live long
anyway. As it was, there was little talking, what with
the helmeted stormtroopers being disciplined, elite men.
They were taught to remain attentive and serious about
their job at all times. And, naturally, there was the
whole Imperial rule about keeping helmets on at all
times during duty. Tycho and El-Nay had exchanged a bit
of conversation, and he'd even said a touch to the
troopers, but they weren't conversationalists. He'd
ended up playing a dinky little video game on his
gauntlet computer, but quickly closed it out when they
dropped out of hyperspace. He walked up to the cockpit
to glance at the instruments over the pilot's shoulder.
"Everything copasetic, Lieutenant? We're on a deadline."
A flight of four TIE/LN
starfighters came alongside the Sprite, and formed a
standard escort formation as the small craft moved
towards the larger command ships. "I have *never* fallen
behind schedule..." Lieutenant Hawkins responded towards
the rear cargo compartment, as his hands moved to toggle
a switch on the overhead control panel. "...mercenary
scum," he muttered underneath his breath, at a volume he
expected would not be heard by those behind them. As the
shuttle passed the star destroyer and picket ships, it
began its descent towards the planet Esseles, and he
disabled the autopilot to begin a manual landing.
Tycho wasn't sure what the
pilot had said, though he'd heard the muttering and felt
a twinge of disdain. He leaned in closer and said, "I'd
choose your words more carefully. I'm above your pay
grade. You don't even know what you're transporting."
Before any reply could be made, a voice came over the
comm. "Warspite to shuttle Sprite," the voice said, very
proper. "Your shuttle is being diverted to this ship.
Follow the TIE fighter escort and do not divert from the
coordinates sent." Tycho had a bad feeling about this.
The TIE fighters weren't there as escorts to the planet.
They were there to make sure that this shuttle didn't
pull anything. He'd known there was a chance the travel
documents wouldn't hold up for long. Either way, they
wouldn't be stopping. He reached out and snapped the
man's neck with a quick twist, then stepped out of the
cockpit, nodded at El-Nay. His blaster pistol came up
and he fired two shots into the chest of one of the
shocked stormtroopers, while the other one got his rifle
up and ready to fire before Tycho could adjust aim.
El-Nay Darr quickly lowered
the targeting scanner from atop her helmet so that it
would cover her right eye, and she instantly locked onto
the remaining Stormtrooper. She raised her DT-57 heavy
blaster pistol and fired off a quick blast, unleashing a
deadly bolt of crimson energy that impacted the
Stormtrooper with such ferocity that it knocked him off
his feet before he fell to the ground dead. "Well that
didn't work," she said, shaking her painted orange dome
at Tycho, before moving towards the cockpit. "I really
don't want to spend my life on Kessel mining spice," she
said, before grabbing hold of the dead pilot's body, and
throwing him to the ground below. "Got any more tricks?"
she asked him, as she took over the pilot's seat, and
strapped herself in. She had never piloted an Imperial
shuttle before, but how hard could it be? It was just a
larger, slower, less maneuverable version of what she
was used to.
"Yeah, I do," he said. "The
trick's called running the blockade. You're in my seat.
This thing ain't a starfighter, honey." He paused,
waiting for her to unstrap and get in the copilot's
chair. "We've gotta take out at least a few of those
fighters with these shitty weapons. They're too
maneuverable and fast to lose them.
"Are you saying I can't fly
because I'm a woman? Or because I'm too young?" El-Nay
said angrily, as she rolled her eyes beneath the helmet
at him. "I've got this, Tycho!" she assured him, as her
hand began to toggle the switches that would give her
direct control over the vessel. She was not about to
move and let some old man fly, after all ... she had
learned on Corellia, where the best pilots in the galaxy
came from. It was only then that the viewport began to
illuminate as laser blasts began to impact the
shielding, causing the shuttle to began to violently
shake. "They mean business!" she said to Tycho, as she
gripped the controls, and did her best to perform an
evasive maneuver, but the shuttle had all of the
maneuverability of a bantha, and despite her best
efforts the shuttle continued to be struck.
In the cockpit of his
fighter, Flight Captain Reek Trolg of the 471st Fighter
Wing locked the shuttle into his targeting computer and
began firing repeatedly at the ship. "Too easy," he
muttered over the comm to his three wingmen, before
toggling over the shuttle's frequency. "Stand down and
prepare to be boarded," he ordered over the comm before
squeezing down on the trigger once again and unleashing
two additional green laser bolts at the ship. "...or we
will destroy you!" he warned, momentarily refraining
from firing to give them a chance to respond.
"I don't give a damn if
you're a woman or a Hutt," Tycho said, annoyed. "I'm
trying to keep us alive ... this thing moves like a
garbage scow? Think you can handle something so..." He
stopped as the first shots rocked the ship. He jumped up
into the cockpit and strapped himself into the copilot's
seat. He began to flip switches and push buttons.
"Shields at full, weapons systems armed. Hit the brakes,
fast ... I'm gonna cram some blaster bolts up their
asses." The TIE fighters were fast and maneuverable, but
they would shoot right past the shuttle and if he timed
it right, he could take out one or two. "If I can get a
couple, make for the planet top speed. I'll angle our
deflector shields behind us then." The bounty hunter
waited for his moment, a serious look on his face. And
the moment they dropped speed and the TIEs flew past, he
opened fire with the small, underside turret that aimed
in only a 45 degree frontward angle. He moved the stick
as he aimed, spraying green bolts across the empty
space. One ship was caught in the wing and began to spin
out of control, striking another. They both went up in a
wicked explosion. The other two broke away, screaming
through space, and there was no way he'd get another
shot. "Punch it!" He began angling the shields as
quickly as he could.
While two of the fresh
pilots that had been newly assigned to the 471st Fighter
Wing had been obliterated, Captain Trolg managed to juke
his stick quickly enough to avoid any damage other than
a debris strike on his port strut. "They'll pay for
that," he muttered under his helmet, as he accelerated
his TIE/LN to its maximum speed, causing the twin ion
engines to emit their distinctive roar. "Trolg to
Warspite. We've got a live one," he reported in over the
comm, before grouping with his one surviving wingman,
and prepared to come around for another pass.
On the bridge of the Star
Destroyer Warspite the officers erupted in gasps as the
explosions could be seen out of the massive viewport.
The captain, Tiberius Anson, stormed quickly across the
walkway towards the crewpit that contained his tactical
officer, his uncharacteristic calm demeanor, momentarily
dropped as he barked orders at the crew. "Report!" he
yelled, as his eyes moved from the explosions out the
viewport down to the officers below.
The blue-skinned Chiss
tactical officer Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloca was
perhaps the only member of the Warspite's crew who was
unfazed by the developments that were unfolding. "Sir.
A shuttle inbound from Brentaal IV was intercepted by an
element of four-seven-one-slash-one. Two of our craft
have been destroyed. Two remain in pursuit," she said,
her cold voice unmoved by the loss, her voice sounding
decidedly exotic, before her red eyes rolled back down
to her scanners to watch the activity unfold.
"Alive. I want them alive,"
Captain Anson scolded Meham'ohorovi'cloca, with a wag of
his gloved finger, before storming forward down the
walkway to get a better direct view through the
expansive port. His gloved hands curled into a fist, as
he always hated to lose pilots, as each time they lost a
skilled pilot it weakened their efforts to contain the
system. The Empire could easily replace a cheaply
produced TIE fighter, but it could not help to replace
the skill and experience when a pilot was lost.
"Hang on, Tycho," El-Nay
said, as she moved her hand forward on the throttle,
accelerating the shuttle to its top speed ... which was
not much. Beneath her helmet she bit down firmly,
grinding her teeth, as she sent the shuttle plummeting
into the atmosphere at an unsafe speed. Heat flares
began to build up on the shields, as the craft buffeted
against the atmosphere, bouncing around violently the
further they descended. It was then that a series of
laser blasts began to impact them from behind, causing
the Sprite to react violently, until finally the right
lower wing had been blasted off. "I can't ... hold it..."
she warned Tycho as the shuttle began to spin violently
on its left axis, ultimately spiralling down to the
surface of the planet on a 360 degree rotation. The
G-forces were incredible, and eventually the young
Mandalorian found herself losing consciousness, just as
the remains of the craft violently slammed into the
surface. Although she was strapped in, she was still
sent briefly flying forward onto the display, becoming a
bloody mess beneath the armor, and was ultimately
suspended in the harness upside down, as the craft had
come to a stop on its dorsal hull.
"Son of a..." There was a
loud *wham* that drowned out his voice and made the
shuttle shake. He flicked a switch and bolstered the
shields, returning them to a 360 degree full coverage.
Then, he activated his piloting stick and began to help
her pull up. Between the two of them, they got the nose
a little higher and slowed their spin. They might have
gotten it under a little bit more control if they
weren't rocketing to the ground so quickly. The world
became a mass of confusion and pain as they hit the
slope, bounced slightly, then ran down the slope until
they hit the valley floor, spinning and bumping the
whole way. When they finally came to a halt, Tycho was
sagging against his harness, barely conscious. "Ungh ...
El-El-Nay...?" He reached out for her, grabbing a metal
plated shoulder. "Are you okay...? We ... have to go."
"Woo! That got 'em!" Capain
Trolg cheered underneath his black helmet, as he
followed the shuttle's maddening spin until it impacted
onto the surface of Esseles. As he overflew the crash
site he spun his TIE in a victory roll, feeling
justified in his actions as it avenged the two pilots
that had been killed in the pursuit. "Trolg to Warspite.
Enemy down. No way anyone could have survived that," he
said, proudly, as he smiled from beneath his helmet, and
began the ascent back up into space.
On the bridge of the
Warspite, Meham'ohorovi'cloca blinked silently as the
news was relayed from the flight leader. "Captain,
four-seven-one-slash-one five reports the shuttle has
been destroyed with all hands lost," she informed her
Corellian superior, as if she were reading the local
weather report. With the threat eliminated she began the
process of standing the vessel down from alert. Never
one to miss a beat, her priority next shifted to filing
the official report on the incident and updating the
"Blast!" Captain Anson
yelled, taking his gloved hand and slamming it against
the transparisteel viewport. "Inform the garrison to
send a detachment of Stormtroopers to survey the crash.
Recover the remains. Any cargo," he ordered, before
folding his hands behind his back, and moving down the
walkway to retire to his cabin. There was no excitement
in blockade duty ... save for one some fool erroneously
attempted to run the blockade.
El-Nay was silent from
beneath her helmet, she had not yet regained
consciousness, and as she hung upside down in the
harness the blood continued to rush to her head. She was
badly bruised from the impact, and had developed a gash
on her head that was bleeding into her helmet. Maybe
Tycho should have flown after all, it had seemed, as she
helplessly lay there waiting for a rescue.
While Tycho may have done
better, that was far from a certainty. The girl was a
good pilot and they were lucky to be alive. That was the
last thing on Tycho's mind, for he was content to blame
her anyway. Grunting and grumbling, he unfastened his
harness and landed on his shoulders. He righted himself
and groaned as he went about freeing her from her
harness. When he got her down, she fell on him and he
caught her, though it hurt. "Nnngh ... you got a fat ass,
girl," he complained, though it had nothing to do with
the tiny, petite young lady. It was all the damn armor.
He struggled to his feet and half carried, half dragged
her out of the cockpit. It was a laborious process, but
soon he'd gotten them out through the hatch in the cargo
hold. He heaved her up over his shoulder and carried her
as far into the woods as he could, before dumping her on
the ground. Off came both helmets and he checked her
wound. It wasn't terrible, but it was pretty nasty, and
she'd most likely have a concussion. He patted her
cheek, checked under her eyelid, and decided the medkit
would be a fantastic idea. He was gone long enough to
fetch the medkit and the items that they had dropped in
the crash. He hurried back to her and knelt beside her.
After going through the medkit, he put a strip of mesh
over the wound, then injected her with a stimpack. That
was about the extent of his medical expertise, so
hopefully that would do the trick. "El-Nay ... El-Nay,
speak to me."
When the stims entered her
system, her eyes opened immediately, as if in a sudden
rush, which was met with a sharp inhale of air. Her
hands immediately moved for the flight controls, but
they were not there, and she panicked. She had forgotten
everything from the moment of the blast, and it took her
several moments to realize they were on the ground. "Tycho?"
she asked, as she looked up at him, reaching up for his
cheek with one of her gloved hands. It was only then
that the pain hit her, and the sting from the cut in her
head. "Ugh," she groaned, as she brought her left hand
up to examine it, but sensing the mesh, she kept herself
from fooling with it too much. "How ... how bad?" she
asked, before coughing several times, which produced a
small amount of blood that she brought up. "...pretty
bad I guess," she said weakly, before allowing herself
to close her eyes, trying to find some composure.
"Pretty..." he started, until
she coughed up a little blood. "Okay, worse than I
thought. You're gonna need a doctor. You've got a bad
cut and some internal damage. You have to stay awake,
though, cuz you've got a concussion. I'd bet my ass on
it." He helped her up to sit against a tree. "They'll
send a few troopers out to check on the crash site.
Standard procedure. If they've got a speeder or
something with them, we'll go ahead and take them out so
we can use their speeder to move the goods. Can you get
around at all?"
"Of course I can get
around," El-Nay said, as she attempted to get up from
the tree, but the pounding sensation in her head caused
her to have blurry vision and lose balance. She wobbled,
nearly falling back to the ground, but she caught
herself, and put a hand out to press against the tree,
propping herself up. "Just give me a minute. Just give
me a few minutes," she said, as she reached down to grab
up her helmet. If there was going to be a firefight she
was going to need it, and she quickly placed it back
upon her head. "This isn't worth two thousand," she
again repeated to the man, in frustration as to the
ordeal she had been put through. "We really need to look
at that cargo. It might be a worth a whole lot more than
what they're paying us," she suggested to him, before
she heard a noise in the distance and prepared herself.
An Imperial Troop Transport
was nearing the crash site. The slow, lumbering vessel
had been dispatched from the nearby garrison to survey
the site, and identify whom the passengers were, and
what they were carrying. As it approached it mowed over
tree, crushing them below the powerful repulsorengines,
until coming to a stop near the crash. The door to the
transport opened and an Imperial lieutenant flanked by
four Stormtroopers quickly exited, hurrying towards the
crash, to search for remains and cargo.
Tycho was prepared to catch
her, thinking that she wouldn't be able to maintain her
footing, but she managed it. He put on his helmet as
well, then said, "All right, listen," he said. "If
you're too fuzzy to get in a good shot, at least just
keep shooting and lay down suppressive fire. We'll see
if these Imperials have any fight in them." He left her
behind the tree and darted off into the forest to find
himself his own big tree for cover. For a big man in
heavy armor, he could be pretty stealthy when he wanted
to be. It came from his assassin training. He unslung
his long blaster rifle and sighted down the barrel.
After a few moments to line up the shot, he opened fire;
a red bolt lanced out and struck one of the
stormtroopers in the back, throwing him to the ground.
He fired off another few, and though they all got to
cover, he blasted another of the troopers in the arm,
nearly blowing it off. He knew that the man was out of
the fight and would likely bleed out.
El-Nay's hand moved to her
helmet once more, bringing down the targeting scanner
over her eye, and revealing three remaining targets.
"You gotta go for the officer first, Tycho! Even I know
that," she said, as she reached down to grab her thermal
detonator ... only it was not there because Tycho had
seized it from her. "Damn it," she muttered beneath her
helmet, as she locked in on the Imperial lieutenant. Her
scanner had a good lock, but her vision was still
blurry, and instead of one good lock she saw two bad
ones, and quickly fired twice, shooting at each one,
which resulted in two blaster bots impacting on either
side of the lieutenant. Frustrated, she aimed in the
middle, and squeezed off a third shot in the middle,
which nearly obliterated the lieutenant's face. But all
of her chatter and firing had given away her position,
and the two remaining troopers unleashed a heavy wave of
fire upon her location that soon engulfed her tree.
"Not exac-" he trailed off
as the fire rained down and he saw that she was pinned
down and in danger of being hit. He leaned around the
tree and started laying down cover fire, causing the
stormtroopers to duck down behind cover again. "Find
better cover," he called to her. "I'm gonna go around
and flank them." Without waiting for a response or sign
of obedience, he hurried along, skirting through the
trees quietly. He wasn't without noise, but it was
unlikely the troopers would spot or hear him with all
that was going on.
El-Nay blind fired in the
direction of the Stormtroopers, doing her best to
distract them, giving Tycho the time he would need to
flank them. She moved in the darkness, but it did not
afford her much cover, as the orange paint would be
quite visible even in a void. How can they see me? She
wondered silently to herself, unaware of the tactical
disadvantage she was at, before diving behind a boulder.
Her eyes went wide as she saw a frag grenade land in
front of her, and she screamed in terror, bringing both
of her hands up in front of her face in defense. An
instant later it detonated, raining her down with soil
and rocks, but for the most part leaving her unscathed.
"Whatever you're going to do ... do it," she muttered over
the comm to Tycho ... her patience with this mission had
He saw the frag grenade fly
through the air and heard her scream. His eyes widened,
but before he could do more than blink, the explosion
went off. He didn't hear her next words, for he thought
she was dead. With a roar, he dropped his rifle and
leaped through the air as the Force filled him through
his rage. His vibrosword came out in mid leap and, after
clearing a good 10 meters, he slashed out and took off
the head of one trooper cleanly. The other looked up at
him, stunned but what he'd just seen. By the time he
brought up his rifle, Tycho was there, and he cut it
cleanly in half. Then, the stormtrooper had his guts
carved open and dropped to the ground, trying to hold
them in as he died. He saw the stormtrooper he'd
wounded, sitting back against the side of the broken
shuttle and trying futilely to stem his bleeding. He had
taken his helmet off, and Tycho saw a young, sandy
haired man with pallid features from the blood loss.
"No... please," the man said. It didn't stop Tycho from
jamming the sword through his forehead.
El-Nay slowly arrived on the
scene, her armor covered in soil, and her patience
completely eroded. "Tycho. I've been shot down. Shot at
it. Nearly blown up..." she said, as she holstered her
heavy blaster pistol, and moved in the direction of that
shuttle. "I'm going to check that cargo. If I'm going to
keep risking my neck, then I want to know *why*!" she
told him, angrily, as her hands moved to pull the helmet
quickly from her head. As she reached the shuttle there
were still two large, very much intact, magnetically
When he saw her emerge from
hiding he was both relieved and terrified. That was an
unusual feeling for him, but he thought she had just
seen him use the Force. Even if she didn't recognize it
for what she was (for he certainly hadn't known anything
about the Force at first) she would still know he could
do things other people couldn't. It could still get out.
How could he have been so stupid? But, alas, he had no
cause for concern. Judging by her reaction, he could
tell that she had not scene. The vehicles must have
blocked her line of sight. He scowled behind his visor
and walked over to intercept her. He caught her arm and
pulled her away from the crates. "*Don't* touch the
merchandise! We *never* open the merchandise. Ever.
These are the dangers of the job, that doesn't mean we
get to know what we're carrying. Now come on, help me
get it moved onto the transport. Be quick about it." He
moved around to start pushing a heavy crate from the
back of the crashed shuttle. He'd definitely need some
help. Whatever it was, it was heavy.
El-Nay huffed when Tycho
grabbed her, planting her feet into the soil in an
attempt to brace herself. "Man. Screw you..." she
muttered, as she moved to help get the crates moved.
With some effort they managed to get both of the crates
loaded into the Imperial Troop Transport, and she worked
her way into the cockpit, but this time decided to take
a seat in the back with the cargo, rather than in the
pilot. "You had better drive this thing," she explained
to him, putting her helmet down on the crate next to
her. This was one of the times when she could really
benefited from a cigarra, but the old man had his rules.
The first thing she was getting when she got her share ...
literally the first thing ... would be a pack of cigarras.
Once everything was settled
in place and he'd climbed into the pilot's seat, he took
off his helmet and looked at her. "Any time you'd like,"
he said. When she looked at him quizzically, he
chuckled. "You said 'screw you'. Anytime." With a
crooked grin, he started up the transport and took off.