Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Andrew J. Fowler, Christopher Levy, and Michael Whittaker.
Zero years after the Battle of Yavin (35:5:6) in the Brentaal system: Brentaal IV (Cormond: Spaceport) and Gilded Thranta and the Ralltiir system: Gilded Thranta.
Corporal Jason Athol, Commander Derek Atio, and Sergeant Korr Machton.

The portly Commander Derek Atio stood in Cormond's spaceport, which was still partially closed following the massive terror attack of several weeks prior. The Gilded Thranta had seen better days, and the round fellow was beneath the forward landing strut attempting to fuse a hydraulic line that had sprayed his brown shirt with a dark fluid. He let out a tired sigh as he struggled to mend it, but the old piece of equipment had seen its better days. He moved his right hand to wipe the sweat from his brow, but only succeeded in smearing grease upon his furrowed forehead. He was expecting nondescript personnel he had been instructed to take off Brentaal and he stared down at his grease covered chronometer wondering if he was early, they were late, or if he even had the right day. At long last, the hydraulic line was repaired ... at least temporarily ... and the Tetan male leaned against the landing ramp's support beams, awaiting his passengers.

And speaking of passengers, here came one now. Dressed in the usual civilian attire of a green weaved shirt with black pants, a tan jacket, and a black synthweave backpack, Jason walked up to the partially repaired starport, keeping an eye out for their pilot.

Leaning back lazily against a support pylon, Korr Machton silently tapped his fingers against the duracrete surface to an unheard rhythm in his head. He glanced about as he waited for his rendezvous partners; he had been told to watch for a portly pilot, as well as a green shirt - tan jacket combination that would surely clash against typical fashion tastes. Dressed in his own tailored black jacket, dark brown pants and a red stripe that ran through both, Korr had little cares to worry about. Though not armed with any blasters, a deactivated vibroblade rested in each tongue of his boot. Ideally they would not be needed, but service with the Rebellion was never ideal.

Never one for fashion, he wore what he liked the color of and felt comfortable with. Despite the fashion mistakes, it would be hard to spot him against the crowds, not only because of the population density but also his own native skill with blending into and disappearing into groups. He was also looking out for another person though as usual, Carson had failed to provide any concrete details.

Glancing at his chrono, Korr knew the assigned meet time was quickly approaching. His own specialty was in vehicular combat, not blending with crowds, so the Rebel assumed either the pilot or his alleged companion would find him. Reaching into his jacket pocket, Korr pulled out a cigarra and lighter. Setting the cigarra alight, the man nonchalantly looked around as he puffed on the narcotic. Somewhat relaxing, it was, though it would hopefully make him just conspicuous enough to attract the right type of attention.

Hmm, spotting the lighter and narcotic use would be just enough of a hint for him from the limited details, and while still blending into the crowd, it was an easy walk over to the location. Taking a moment to assess, he would tap the shoulder of the man from behind. "1800 to Ralltiir?"

Though a spy he was not, Korr could certainly keep up a modest degree of operational deception. Taking another puff on the cigarra, he smiled slightly and turned towards the stranger. "Only if you travel by moonlight." A rather melodramatic code phrase, to be sure, though the Rebel enjoyed his occasional attempts at espionage. Looking slightly past his new companion, he nodded towards a hangar bay to their left. "I think we're in there."

To that he nodded, recognizing the other half of the code. "Hold it, stand still a min, just try and look casual." Taking out his customized datapadd, he'd run through the normal Imperial and RSSF listening frequencies to make sure there were no extra bugs. After sweeping the area and determining it was clean, another nod was given and the walk to the hangar commenced. "Jason Athol, slicer by contract. Your name?"

Korr had been born casual. Hailing from a carefree family of Corellian scoundrels, his life would have been one of extravagance and excitement if this war had not ruined everything. Taking another drag, he kept pace with Athol as they walked towards the hangar. "Korr Machton, Pathfinder with vehicle specialties." Not the smoothest title, he would have to work on that. The comm chatter from a repulsortank was often far simpler than the urban warfare he now found himself in, though he was gradually adapting. "You trust this pilot?"

"About as much as I trust anything these days, he hasn't betrayed us yet. Though if he does, he'll find himself shot and sucking vacuum before he can do more than signal. You have any piloting experience?" While Korr was walking with Jason, it would definitely be a disparity in the way they moved. Jason created no wake, no visible sign of his progress, and was looking around casually at everything in sight to make sure they were not taken by surprise.

Korr bumped into the occasional passerby as they walked, before attempting to somewhat stagger himself behind Athol and take advantage of the man's swift maneuvering. "Tanks, repulsors and air speeders mostly, though I can handle up to a freighter if things get rough. We expecting any trouble today?" The Rebel mostly kept his eyes facing forward, allowing his companion to do the covert glances.

"First lesson about this, always expect trouble. Imperials get lucky occasionally, like with Rake the other day in the cantina. Fortunately we have plans in place for most things, but once you use it, it's spent. Don't look left, keep your eyes straight forward or to the right. Lean down a bit, don't be so rigid. There's a RSSF patrol coming from our northwest." Moving quickly along, he was heading for the hangar in the path that took the least time, slowed slightly by the movements of Korr. "When we reach the hangar, you go in first. I trust you know what to do from there."

The Rebel quickly adapted his movement patterns based on his companion's advice. While he was not a spy, he was a rapid learner. His left hand instinctively fell to where his blaster typically rested upon his holster, though only his utility belt greeted him. Keeping his gaze forward with the occasional glance right, he tugged at his jacket as he entered through the main bay of the hangar. He spotted a rather rotund man smeared in starship grease and deduced that was their contact. Casually puffing at his cigarra, Korr slowed his pace and glanced up at the freighter while nearing the pilot. "Need any help with the reverse intake?" Another rough code phrase ... he would work on those during the trip.

Derek let out a frustrated sigh as the commando finally arrived and offered him a firm nod of his head to the man. "I don't have time for codes, disguises, or charades, pal..." he said as he washed off his fluid covered hands with a dirty rag, which was then casually discarded. "We're either an hour or late or six hours early..." he said as he looked at his illegible, grease covered chronometer, which was in desperate need of service. "I'm going to go get her prepped. If you want to stand down here making clicks and whistles until your paranoia subsides ... indulge yourself..." he said with a small laugh as he turned to ascend the ramp into the old Sigma-class shuttle. Making his way the short distance to the cockpit, his hands went to the overhead control panel as he pressed several toggles, which caused the main reactor to power up. The ship began to *humm* to life as the engine came online. Another glance out the viewport towards the idle commando caused him to scowl slightly, and he tapped the chronometer causing the grease to embed beneath his poorly kept nails.

It was a rather marked change, going from the subterfuge of Athol to the gruff nonchalance of this pilot. Tugging at his jacket with his left hand, Korr took one last drag of the cigarra before flicking it across the ground. A bit close to flammable materials to be sure, but Korr was not terribly concerned. Turning towards the hangar entrance, the Rebel nodded at Athol once before following the pilot up the ramp into the Sigma shuttle. The craft had certainly seen better days, and Korr somewhat longed to be back in the depths of a Hawke repulsortank.

"Try not to show your emotions so much. It'll give you away." Following Derek in, he only nodded at the pilot and took a seat, strapping himself in. He remembered the last trip all too well to not take precautions.

The Gilded Thranta shook violently as Derek Atio activated the repulsor controls and the ship gradually lifted off the duracrete tarmac of the docking bay. "This is going to be a little rough," he warned the two commandos as his hand went to the thruster controls and accelerated the aging shuttle to roughly 50-percent of its atmospheric cruising speed. The ship began to rattle violently as it moved through the upper atmosphere and a conduit burst to the left side, resulting in a blast of pressure gas being released. "Don't mind that..." he said to them calmly, as his eyes scanned it over, followed by a nervous swallow. After a few moments the atmosphere of Brentaal IV began to fade and the viewport was filled by darkness and a seemingly endless sea of stars. "Star Destroyer!" he exclaimed, as he pointed at the large, wedge shaped Imperial war machine that was orbiting the planet. He casually did a passive scan of the vessel, locking in the coordinates as part of his standard cruise through the system.

Indeed it was a Star Destroyer, and Korr could do very little about it. He glanced at Derek, as if to ask for instructions, though he was doubtful he could be of much help out here. He knew the Star Destroyer would ideally be busy conducting scans of the larger and more suspicious-looking cargo vessels, hopefully leaving their battered craft in peace.

"We're a bit too small a fry for them right now. Just keep your cool." Not even blinking as the conduit blew, or the gas released. "With all the chaos in system, the ISD has more to worry about; just use the transponder codes and act normal." Settling back into the seat, he closed his eyes and began to take a short nap.

Derek began to maneuver the Gilded Thranta further from Brentaal IV as they were still within the native gravity well produced by the Brenta star. As the autopilot guided them towards the Perlemian Trade Route he turned his attention to the navigation computer. He began the slow, labor intensive process of downloading the coordinates for Ralltiir. "We're coming up on the hyperspace route now," he said as he counted the hundreds of transports exiting hyperspace all around them. Going to be deuce difficult to mine this area, he thought silently to himself as the navigation computer beeped and the coordinates were laid in. "Hang on!" he said as he moved his hand over the hyperdrive controls and an instant later ... nothing happened. "Blast," he said to himself, as he unstrapped himself from his seat and moved to the hyperdrive controls. He pulled out his hydrospanner and removed the hyperdrive motivator!!! ::CHEER!:: to more closely examine it. "Hey ... when are you two going to stop blowing up a quarter of the planet and get me some new components?" he complained to the sleeping Athol and the inexperienced Machton. A moment later he inserted the motivator back into the panel and the ship surged forward into hyperspace! He fell backward as the ship lurched, the rotund fellow rolling hapless into the cargo compartment. Nearly an instant later he was upon his feet, dusting himself off as if nothing happened. "Nobody worry, I'm OK," he announced, as he retook his pilot's seat.

"See what I meant about trips with him? Derek, you actually get me off planet and able to do a few jobs and I'll buy you any component this ancient bucket needs to not be falling apart every time you touch it. Now, back to my nap."

The Gilded Thranta emerged from the Perlemian Trade Route with a violent shake, lurching to a dull halt as they arrived successfully in the Ralltiir system. "It'll just take a moment to get everything back online..." he said, hoping it would jar them out of their naps. His hand went to the controls and he began bringing the main systems back online. As his hands went to the throttle, the shuttle began accelerating at 80-percent of the craft's top speed. In the distance a buoy could be seen which broadcast an automated message over the comm. "Warning! Warning! Warning! You are entering restricted space. You are entering rest-," the transmission was prematurely terminated by Derek, who deactivated the comm system in frustration. "Not my favorite tune," he complained, as he spotted the sentry ships in the distance.

A pair of TIE/ln starfighters approached the Gilded Thranta, having been launched from the Victory I-class star destroyer Renown as part of the patrols of the boundaries of the restricted space market. "Unidentified ship entering the Ralltiir system ... please identify," the lead pilot said as he began running a passive scan of the shuttle. The two TIE fighters soared overhead of the vessel before slowing to match her speed.

Derek hated making trips to Ralltiir for precisely this reason. Ever since Commodore Tion had declared open war on the Ralltiiri the system had been restricted and it had become increasingly difficult to get through the blockade. "This is the consular ship Gilded Thranta," he replied calmly over the calm, using his best faux Alderaanian accent. "We are on a mission of mercy from the Alderaan system carrying medical supplies and foodstuffs," he replied, hoping they would buy it. The vessel did have a proper Royal House of Alderaan transponder that had gotten them out of more difficult situations in the past. "One of you had better man the turret..." he instructed, as he turned his attention to both Athol and Machton, unsure of which was the better gunner. His clenched fist banged on the transponder, ensuring that it was still operating properly.

"That I can do." Korr quickly unstrapped himself from his seat and left the cockpit, running at a brisk jog as he tried to remember where exactly the turret was. Coming upon a conveniently-marked sign, Korr took a left and began ascending the ladder to the turret. Climbing over the seat, the Rebel began activating the targeting systems and control levers for the weapon. The turret was still powered down, as far as he knew, as it would take the pilot to activate the weapon and give away their hostile intent. "Locked and loaded," came his voice through the comm.

"Gilded Thranta," the lead pilot replied over the comm as the two TIE fighters began to edge closer to the vessel. "We are no longer accepting Alderaanian credentials. We have been ordered to escort you to the Star Destroyer for further inspection," he concluded as each fighter took up a position on either side of the small shuttle.

Derek paused for a moment as he thought about what to do next. "Uh huh..." he finally said as he broke formation with the two TIE fighters and began heading back towards the hyperspace route at an alarming speed. The vessel began to shake once more and pressure gas was again flushed from a busted pipe that controlled the landing struts. "You two better hold on. I'll shake him," he said as he clutched the controls and maneuvered the ship to port in a desperate evasive pattern. His attention went to the navigation computer once again and the viewport flooded with light as a laser cannon impacted with the deflector shields. A series of hits were scored on the vessel and the shields began to dramatically lower as they closed in on the hyperspace lane from which they had come.

This is why he hated travel with Atio ... nothing ever seemed to go right. Fortunately, he had a good understanding of ship systems, so it was off to the control panels he went. Beginning to monitor power and stress levels, he was more than a bit shocked at what he saw. "Atio, what kind of second rate patch job did you do on this thing?! We've lost the entirety of the lateral control system!" Now the tech's job would be to get the systems back up and running before the fighters either disabled them for a tow or blew them apart.

As soon as the Sigma shuttle began veering away from the fighters, Korr switched off the gun turret's safety and swiveled to track the Imperial ships. Taking several moments to line up a firing solution the Rebel depressed the trigger and bolts of searing red light began streaking toward their foes. He rotated in tandem with the fighters while counterbalancing against the movement of the shuttle. Firing from the turret of a speeding repulsortank was much the same and Korr had ample experience in that field. The undue shaking of the Sigma was slightly unsettling, however the Rebel had a fair amount of confidence in their pilot. Ideally that was not misplaced, he hoped.

The secondary pilot was not expecting a diplomatic shuttle to have a laser cannon aboard and therefore was unprepared for the sudden burst of energy that tore through his port support strut. The vessel spun out of control and he managed to hit the eject button just in time, sending his body spiraling out into space at a dramatically accelerated rate. The lead pilot focused with intensity and soared over the dorsal hull of the shuttle, raking it with a spray of green laser energy bolts that further complicated the vessel's journey.

"Well that got one of them!" Derek yelled over his shoulder as he shook violently from the impact of the laser cannon bursts hitting the upper hull of the vessel. "One more and we can go home!" he warned, as his hands tightened on the controls. Suddenly a large Action VI bulk freighter exited from hyperspace in front of them and Derek had to push down sharply on the controls to avoid an imminent collision. "Jason ... if you can't get that patched I'm going to crash into something!" he cursed at the Rebel technician. They were now flying desperately through the entryway of the Perlemian Trade Route. The navigation computer beeped, indicating the coordinates for Brentaal IV had been reloaded, but the battered vessel was in no position to enter the hyperspace route.

"I heard you the first time. Just shut up and fly so I can work back here!" While Derek was attempting to pilot and Korr was blowing things up, Jason had been working on the lateral control system diligently. Rerouting and repairing were making a mess of this system, and Derek would have a hard time sorting it out after. Finally he managed to get the system up and running again after a few more minutes. "We're good! Stabilize this bucket."

Korr had just lined up the second TIE fighter in his scopes when the Sigma shuttle dramatically dived to avoid the Bulk Freighter. The Rebel squeezed the trigger but the shots went wide, very nearly impacting the large freighter above them. Korr stabilized the turret and began firing to their rear; even if he could not hit the TIE from this angle, perhaps he could drive it off long enough to allow their escape.

"That got it!" Derek exclaimed as Athol's work had finally paid off and full power was restored to the shuttle. An instant later his hand moved over the controls and the shuttle lurched forward into hyperspace. However, this time he was conveniently strapped to his seat, preventing any kind of mishap like the one before. As the shuttle disappeared, a Gymsenor-3 appeared and dramatically collided with the oncoming TIE fighter in a massive explosion that consumed both vessels. In hyperspace Commander Atio let out a desperate sigh, wondering where he could get a new transponder. It was obvious the destruction of Alderaan would take a heavy toll on their operations from here on out.

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