Commander Derek Atio lay on his back
underneath the Sigma-class shuttle Gilded Thranta, which
was docked inside the hidden Rebel base deep within the Ringali Nebula.
The middle-aged human male was wearing the soiled remnants of his Rebel
uniform, which was becoming increasingly soiled by the leaking oil that
was spilling from another ruptured conduit on the ventral hull. "Blast!"
he curses, making several adjustments with his hydrospanner that did not
seem to be having any affect. Growing increasingly frustrated, he
attempted to wipe the sweat that had accumulated on his forehead, but
only succeeded in smearing grease upon his face. He was told to expect a
co-pilot to assist him in his blockade running in the Ringali Shell, but
if he did not get the shuttle repaired they would not even make it out
of the docking bay.
J. J. Raineri strode on in. Duffle bag
decorated with all sorts of alternative looking badges that had been
stitched on. Goggles resting on her forehead, coveralls hung low on her
hips, the arms wrapped around and tied. The pant legs bloused at the
calf high boots. A white muscle shirt, hair pulled back in a low pony
tail. Errant strands of her bangs fell on either side of her tanned
face. She was slowly chewing on what would appear to be some sort of
gum. " Problems?" That husky rasp of a voice ebbed out.
"Problems? Nothing but problems..."
Derek bemoaned as he slid out from beneath the shuttle, and awkwardly
rose to stand in front of her. His uniform, comprised of a two tone
brown jacket, brown shirt, and matching pants were tattered, stained,
and in desperate need of a wash. He had been on his back for hours doing
everything he could to nurse the last bit of life back into the old
girl. He wanted a better ship, but anything more advanced would draw
unwanted Imperial attention. "Commander Derek Atio, pleased to meet
you..." he said, with a charming smile, as he extended a filthy hands
Most would have cringed and avoided that
hand. But from one gear head to the next, J. J. was right as rain. Hand
grasped in a firm shake before she dropped the duffle down. " so, this
is what I am suppose to be co-piloting?" Brow rose curious.
Derek looked over his shoulder at the
shuttle, which was likely older than the young woman standing in front
of him. He could definitely see why anyone would be less than thrilled
with the prospect of being assigned to this ship. "It doesn't look like
much, but..." he paused, bringing his hand up to rub at the back of his
head as he tried to convince her it was not an unworthy assignment.
"When it does work, it gets the job done, and most importantly it
doesn't draw any unwanted Imperial observation," he concluded, with a
genuine smile as he tried to size up exactly who was in front of him.
"Sounds like just what we need"
Admittedly. J. J. stood 1.68 meters, not too short and not too tall, her
body was that of slender toned frame. "What do you need help with?" As
long as the money was good, they would do just fine.
"I think I got it," Derek said, turning
his back to her to look at the puddle of lubricating oil that had formed
beneath the shuttle. No longer a steady flow, there was now merely
nothing more than a series of subtle drips. "Well, I got it as good as
I'm gonna get it..." he said with a laugh, turning his attention back
towards her. "So what's your name?" he asked, hoping there would be some
pleasantries before they headed out.
"J. J." She offered out, her eyes were on
that slow drip. "J. J. Raineri" She offered out again as she stepped
towards the shuttle and crouched down to peer under the belly.
"Well, J. J.. I'm pleased to meet you,"
Derek said with a pleasant smile, reinforced my a nod. Looking her over
he immediately saw that she was more attractive than most of the
smugglers he had come across since being assigned here, and the fact
that she was human made all the difference. Still, he was a professional
and attempting to make a pass at her was a good way to end up in the
brig. "She's all loaded up with cargo we need to get down to Ralltiir,"
he informed her, not looking forward to the assignment. Ralltiir was
under the heaviest blockade in the region.
"You ready for that?" Having information
that Ralltiir was dangerous at this time. Snagging up her duffle bag J.
stepped towards him, waiting for him to lead the way. "What else do we
need to know?"
"Unfortunately, we won't know what we're
up against until we arrive in the system," Derek revealed to her,
lowering his head with some hesitation. Ralltiir was by far the most
dangerous of the six planets in the Ringali Shell, and it was not the
most ideal candidate for a first mission with his new co-pilot. "Let's
get aboard," he said, not wasting anymore time, and scrambled up the
ramp that ultimately led to the shuttle's cockpit. The back was filled
numerous crates filled with weapons, explosives, rations, and medical
supplies that would be used by the Rebellion in the ongoing operations
on the planet. Once in the cockpit he strapped himself in and began
toggling switches to power up the main reactor, which was not exactly a
quick process on such an old, tired craft.
J. J. took a moment. Quick survey of the
area before following him on into the shuttle. She dropped her bag
nearby, securing it. She settled in in the seat next to him and strapped
on in. Eyes scanned over the control panel. Taking it all in and
becoming familiar. Then her hands began to set the shuttle to ready.
After what seemed like what me a false
start, the Gilded Thranta emerged from the hangar of the Rebel
base and entered the vast gasses of the Ringali Nebula. Their visual
flight options were limited and all that could be seen were the
multi-colored gas pockets that formed the nebula. While it kept the
Empire at bay, it was no easier for the Rebels to navigate, and only a
series of pre-programmed waypoints allowed them to escape unhindered.
"You'll get used to this," he said, as he removed his hands from the
controls and allowed the auto-pilot to do the work.
There was a bit of jostle and stuttering
at the start but it made it through after several minutes had passed.
Derek had got comfortable, auto piloting it. J. J.'s attention flicked over
the scenery briefly before looking over to the man she barely knew. " So
how did this pairing happen?" Curious how she was chosen for this drop
Privately, Derek was pleased to have
someone with her physical attributes confined to the seat next to him
for these voyages. It sure beat some of the others he had flown with
over the past year, but he certainly would not be that over about his
feelings towards her. "Don't ask me, J. J.," he said, having always avoided
the personnel decisions. "I guess someone in Support Services command
thought you'd be of some use to me..." he said, turning his head to
offer a subtle grin.
"Mm." J. J. shrugged. Peering out the front
window. The view was always beautiful and scary. Though she loved it to
be honest. "Possibly, this isn't the first time is it?"
"First time?" Derek repeated, with a
hint of laughter, imagining a hundred different meanings the question
could have had, before choosing the most obvious. "No. I've been doing
this run for months. This is always the boring part," he said to her, as
the nebula gas began to dissipate and stars slowly faded into view. "But
it's about to get more interesting..." he warned, turning the auto-pilot
off and taking manual control of the craft.
J. J. took it in. Relaxing once more. She
would settle in, her thumb lightly flicked over the pistol hammer lock
and once more. "Good. Not fond doing runs with the the less salty."
Suddenly a red light began flashing on
their display indicating the proximity of another craft. "TIE fighters
coming in!" he alerted her, as he shifted over his right shoulder to
begin programming their coordinates into the navcomputer. "Get those
shields up!" he pleaded with her, while his attention focused on getting
them out of there.
J. J. leaned forward immediately. Hands
flicked over the toggles, switches and what not. Putting the shields on
line. She was checking for any heavy guns she could utilize.
The newly activated shields flickered as
incoming laser blasts from the fighters impacted, causing the cockpit to
flash with violent bursts of light. "This happens every time. Believe it
or not ... I'm used to it," he said, as he attempted evasive action with
the lumbering craft. An instant later the nav computer activated and the
coordinates for the Ralltiir system had been activated. "Hang on! I'm
going to make the jump to lightspeed," he warned her, but in actuality
gave her very little time as with his next action he thrust his right
hand forward and sent the shuttle into hyperspace. The stars instantly
disappeared and they now found themselves surrounded by the streaking
blue column of hyperspace. They had left the TIE fighters behind, but
would have new obstacles when they arrived in Ralltiir.
J. J. was shoved back into the seat.
Holding on for life for the time being. This was his ship, she did not
argue with his wisdom. Eyes were ahead and then on the controls,
readying to take over if needed. "You got it."
"How much damage did those fighters do
to our shields?" Derek asked, as he unstrapped himself from his seat.
With the autopilot engaged and them now in the safety of hyperspace, he
was free to move to the control panel behind them to check the status of
the reactor and determine if the repairs they undertook had hold.
"Its a few bumps and bruises, nothing
that's going to keep it doing what it does." J. J.'s eyes read on the
"I'm going to go check our cargo," Derek
informed her, content that everything was in order in the cockpit. When
he arrived in the rear compartment he found that, surprisingly, the
cargo loaders had managed to secure everything properly and nothing had
shifted. Feeling quite exhausted after a long day's work, he took a seat
and began fumbling about beneath him for the bottle of Alderaan Ruge he
stowed away. "You want a drink?" he asked her, yelling down the corridor
into the cockpit.
Nodding. She continued to keep things
situated. When he returned, she regarded him with a smile. "Definitely."
She shifted slightly in her seat to get comfortable as she waited for
that offered drink.
Derek placed two glasses on the table in
front of them, both of which probably could need an adequate washing,
but the alcohol would sterilize the glasses and prevent any ill health
affects from consuming it. "To Alderaan..." he said bitterly, as he
offered her one of the last glasses of Alderaan Ruge anyone was likely
"To Alderaan" She replied in that same
husky rasp. The glass was taken up, toasted and a slow sip. Enjoying the
taste of it for the time. "How long you been doing this?" Curious.
"For the Rebellion?" he asked,
rhetorically, as he took a sip of the Alderaan Ruge. "Less than a year.
Working on broken down ships? Feels like all my life..." he said,
half-jokingly and half-serious, finishing the drink, and placing the
empty glass back down on the table. "You?" he asked, before refilling
"As long as I can remember." She
shrugged. " My father helped the rebellion...'til he was shot down
couple years ago." J. J. downed the rest of her drink.
Derek flinched momentarily, a nervous
grimace coming over his face as she mentioned the death of her father.
Without asking, he moved to refill her glass, before offering a toast.
"We've all lost people in this war. I'm sorry for your loss, J. J.," he
said with genuine emotion, before clanking his glass against hers.