The CR90 corvette Argo rested calmly in the jungles of
the fourth moon of the planet Yavin. Standing on top of the ship,
Commander Derek Atio watched as a maintenance crew worked on installing
a new sensor array." That doesn't look quite right," he said as he knelt
down on the top of the ship and took the hydrospanner into his own
hands. His eyes narrowed as he focused intently on the series of wires
and conduits that were connecting the sensors to the ship itself. With
an odd series of grunts, he adjust several of them until he was
satisfied with the results. He inhaled sharply, rising backup as he
dusted off his trousers. "Well," he said as he turned to look at the
maintenance technicians, "Either I've got the sensors online or we just
got access to the nude Twi'lek channel on the holonet ... either way ...
it's an improvement."
Derek smiled at them as he tossed the 'spanner back to the deck and
climbed back down into his beloved ship. After working his way through
the turbolift system, he arrived on Deck 3 and proceeded towards the
meeting room. Once inside he turned to the intercom and activated the
panel. "Mister Ardac," his voice resonated onto the bridge, "Check to
see if our sensors are back online. Then join us in the meeting room."
His thumb clicked to send a ship wide message, a shrill sound preceding
it through the comm. "All available personnel," he said in an
authoritative voice that blared through every corridor of the Argo,
"Report to the meeting room."
Beneath the Argo within the Sigma-class shuttle Gilded Thranta,
Zek Correson had been working on the mechanical hardware. He discovered
numerous problems, and failures among the ship. He had been gladly able
to fix it with R3-QT detecting what had become the issue with it
recently. He briefly sighed over the malfunctions he had fixed the past
few minutes. Suddenly, his comlink managed to pick up a transmission
from his Commander. He settled for what he had fixed. Meanwhile, he got
up from the floor, dusted off his hands on his slacks. He peered over to
the jacket hanging on the rail till he slipped it over his upper body.
He used a dry cloth to remove the smudge off his oily hands. He decided
to make way to the meeting to check out the current status of the
Argo crew. Lately, the pilot for the Gilded Thranta had not
quite seen anything occur. He guessed patience was one thing he had to
"Aye Commander, all sensors up and running. Why am I getting HoloNet
feed? Is that a Twi... Never mind... Reporting to the Meeting room." Ardac
paused before leaving his station, It was more comfortable to him than
his bunk. Every minute at the panel was solace. Aging joints groaned
with the urging of muscles, and the Chiss headed back at a sharp clip.
Quar's bloodshot and dry eyes opened, and began to focus at the
ceiling above him. The loud speakers within his private stateroom woke
him. He rubbed his hand over his stubble chin, removing a piece of lint
that was stuck to his face like Velcro. A loud yawn was emitted as he
place both of his legs into the pair of pooled up pants bedside. Another
light yawn was released as he pulled his pants around his waist and
fastened them. His hand grabbed a stained white shirt from the back of
dilapidated wooden chair and placed it over his torso. Blood, sweat, and
dirt were embedded within the fibers of the white shirt. Quar grunted as
he threw it over his torso, allowing the bottoms of the shirt to
carelessly hang over his belt line. Quar adorned himself with his used
and freely flowing brown trench coat. Finally, Quar removed his gun belt
from over the dilapidated wooden chair and strapped it around his waist.
His hand pressed the activator switch to leave the stateroom and he
walked barefoot and silently to the meeting room.
It took Alanya longer than the usual time to get up the meeting room.
Usually the Infiltrator was the first one there, but she seemed to be
taking her time, or something was holding her up. She had probably
arrive last, dressed in her usual black utility pants and black zip up
pilot's jacket left open, exposing the grey undershirt. She would enter
with little fanfare, seeming with something on her mind as she moved to
take a chair, to wait for the Commander to show up. Tapping her chin
idly as she waited.
Quar's careless stroll to the meeting room continued. He shrugged his
shoulders a few times to allow his trench coat rest more comfortably on
his shoulders. Two bloodshot eyes surveyed his surroundings as they
finally settled on the room he was to be in. He yawned loudly as he
entered the room, instantly spotting the other occupants in the room.
Carelessly, he made his way to the chair furthest from the captain was
to be sitting. He fell down into the chair and reached into his top
pocket. Without a second thought, he pulled out his pack of cigarras
and opened the Instinctively, he withdrew one cigarra between his
thumb and pointer finger. He placed it just barely into his lips as his
other hand fumbled through the trench coat's pocket for a lighter.
Finding it, he brought it in front of his cigarra, lighting it with a
few puffs to get the amber end glowing. Once successful, he placed the
pack of cigarras and lighter on the table.
He thought about the few wirings that needed readjusting, and the
hardware to be replaced. It would take time until he would salvage what
he would require from the junkyard. He expected to have the shuttle
entirely fixed by tomorrow. Despite only being a pilot for only the
shuttle, Zek would not think he would be wanted for anything else. A
single BlasTech DL-22 blaster was holstered along the thigh while the
belt line consisted of assorted equipment like a grappling hook and a
SoroSuub DH77 comlink and headset. He made his entrance to the meeting.
He stood near the wall, leaning against it while both arms crossed over
his upper form. He fixated his piercing chocolate pools over at the
Commander and the screen behind him.
Wheeler furiously finished pulling on his highly polished crewman's
boots, always one for the 'spit and polish' pomp and fanfare of a
'barracks' navy. He had not fully accustomed to the immense time
demands that the new Commander had put on him. It was expected that a
soldier/sailor's duty day would be a long one...but personal time was
nonexistent on this vessel, it seemed. Perhaps it was just because he
was new ... Wheeler wouldn't have the answer just yet. Boots now fully
adhered, confident footfalls carried him through the decks of the
Argo, until Wheeler arrived outside the meeting room. A quick moment
was taken to address his starched utility uniform, before rounding the
doorway and plunging headlong into the meeting...without doubt, and
with much regret, it appeared as if he was one of the last to
arrive. So much for first impressions.
Cobalt blues narrowed with disdain towards the gentleman, if he could
only be called that, lighting a cigarra a few chairs away. A sharply
drawn inward breath would hopefully garner the man's attention, as
Wheeler hissed quietly, hoping to allow the Commander to continue the
briefing..."Regulations don't permit smoking in duty areas of the
vessel...personal areas only, or with the Commander's permission!"
Wheeler knew the book. It's one of the few things a mediocre officer at
best, could excel in.
The sizzle of cigarra paper was heard as Quar's attention was
caught by Wheeler. He smiled politely as he exhaled his smoke toward
Wheeler and winked. His attention then was turned over to the most
important thing in the room, the female. He inhaled on his cigarra
deeply and exhaled just as quickly as he inhaled. He then used his
pointer finger to drop ash off of the tip of the cigarra onto the
floor of the Argo. He smiled lightly at the female, visually
admiring her, yet giving his audible attention to Derek.
Straight-backed and at full attention, Ardac wore discipline on his
sleeve. The sterile, low-grade oxygen levels the Argo's life
support systems coughed out, suitable and clean, attributed to the
dimness of the Chiss' red eyes. They retained focus, which drifted
between Commander Atio and the screens.
Derek nodded his head politely to those gathered, his eyes turning
from the grouping to the viewscreen on the wall behind him. The planet
Bpfassh was maximized on the screen, the planet Sluis Van and its
shipyards highlighted for all to view. "Gentleman and 'Lady'," he began,
his eyes quickly darting to the lone female present at the moment.
"We've drawn a tough one," he said as he looked at the looming Imperial
presence in the sector outlining various capital ships and starfighter
defenses. "Recently," he continued to explain as the image of an
Alpha-class Xg-1 StarWing appeared on the viewscreen, "these new
starfighters, which we're referring to as 'Assault Gunboats' have been
creating quite a hindrance for our forces." His eyes turned to the
display and watched the ship rotate in the viewscreen, it was not like
anything he had seen prior. "High Command wants to take a look inside of
one of these ships," he nodded to them abruptly, "We're going to give
them that look." He paused, letting the operation sink in. "We'll
proceed to Bpfassh," he began to explain, "Where we will launch the
shuttle and you will infiltrate one of their defense launch stations.
You'll steal one if possible and then jump back to Bpfassh to rendezvous
with us." After a few moments silence, he concluded. "Any questions?" He
had hoped they were ready.
"Who's the pilot gonna be who gets to steal one of these bad boys?"
Throughout the entire briefing, he only caught on a few words before
dwelling on his mind. Suddenly, the world shuttle was heard when they
stated to steal an assault boat. It would seem his expertise in piloting
is highly sufficient ... and valuable ... to this mission. He remained
standing there looking at the crew members voicing their own questions
and ideas. He did become lightly concerned, but he would not loose the
chance of letting things lead to a downfall.
Wheeler was never one to hold back. As much as he had questions about
the infiltration mission, it wasn't his area of expertise to remotely
wander about. Instead, he would focus his queries on the Argo and
it's position relative to the mission. "Sir, if we don't fully know the
capabilities of one of these...gunboats, then wouldn't it pose a
significant risk or chance that the hyperdrive won't be operational or
the pilot won't be familiar with that equipment, in order to jump to
rendezvous with the Argo? Might it not be safer for the
infiltration crew, to make their getaway at sublight, before meeting at
a pre-arranged rally-point with the Argo herself?
Alanya, instead of speaking up, remained quiet. Tapping her fingers
on the table, staring at her hand as the digits thrummed softly. She
seemed to not even pay attention to the briefing, instead simply gazing
at her fingers as they worked upon and down upon the surface of the
table. Usually she would of said something by now, as she was always the
first with an idea. But now she remained silent, letting others speak.
"Correson is needed to fly the shuttle," Derek explained in reply to
Trooper Mereel, "So if you survive that long you can fly the gunboat."
He nodded to the Trooper before shifting his attention to Lieutenant
Wheeler. "A stolen gunboat would not last thirty seconds in the Sluis
system at sublight," he said rather dismissively, "And the Argo
would last even less trying to rendezvous."
Quar obnoxiously dropped his cigarra to the floor and used his heel
to extinguish it. He scooped up his pack of cigarras and lighter from
the table, placing it into his brown trench coat's pocket. He leaned
back in his chair, folding his hands over his stomach as his gaze
shifted from the lone female to Atio.
Ardac's coolly calculating gaze shifted to Ensign Wheeler, the lids
narrowing his field of vision, red slits to those who leered back. This
gaze traveled to each individual in the meeting room ... his comrades,
yes, but he was unfamiliar with most of them. He knew the Argo's
systems inside and out, but it's crew were as alien to him as he, a
Chiss, was to them.
Derek's attention shifted to the group once more. "We'll depart Yavin
within the hour," he said as he concluded the meeting, "and then we will
make the jump to Bpfassh." He forced a smile onto his face and wished
them well. "Dismissed," he concluded as he exited the room and made his
way towards the bridge, "...and good hunting."
Suddenly she spoke up, coughing slightly. "Sir, perhaps it would be a
better idea, sir, if I were to pilot the gunboat." She put forward
softly, before adding. "On Taanab I piloted one of the Sienar Skipray
Blastboats. They seem very similar in most respects..." She said, her
eyes moving over to Trooper Mereel before they returned to the
Derek turned as his attention focused on Trooper Rockturne as she
made her request. He sighed sharply as his eyes darted down to the
chronometer on his wrist. "Work it out amongst yourselves, Troopers," he
said rather passively. "Just achieve the mission objectives," he said
with an abrupt nod, before he moved towards the bridge.
Ardac rose abruptly and fell in behind the Commander, eager to return
to his post. He had his doubt about this mission; he hoped for a more
The CR90 corvette Argo streaked from hyperspace into the
Bpfassh system. Her war torn hull scratched and bruised with damage of
every shape and size. In the distance, the desert world of Bpfassh
loomed ominously, growing larger each kilometer the Argo moved forward.
Their transponder, broadcasting that of a consular ship in the Royal
Alderaan Civil Fleet, should buy them just enough time to complete the
mission. Beneath the corvette the hangar bay doors slowly opened,
providing just enough room the shuttle to depart.
If what the other Trooper had said was true she would know the systems
of the fighter better than he. Jace hated to give up the chance to get
into a cockpit again but the mission had to come first. Giving the woman
a nod he spoke, "I guess you can have control of the Gunboat. I'll keep
you covered in the turrets of the Sigma."
Alanya nodded her head. "Thank you Trooper. I can tell you wanted to
be there, but it is best for the mission..." She said, pausing for a
moment before she continued. "Besides. If the hyperdrive does not
function, it would be a deathtrap. Perhaps I should of kept my mouth
Inside the Sigma-class shuttle, Zek began to work out
different corresponding digits and buttons along the panel. Disengaged
from the hangar bay onboard the Argo, the Gilded Thranta
would simply be lowered into the outer region of the planet called
Bpfassah. He began to guide the shuttle among the controls towards the
orbital planet. On course, he would be sure to make sure there was
people taking position on the gunner seats. "Need a few volunteers for
the gun seats. Thank you. Appreciate it." He continued on the course
over to the planet. "Better hope things run smoothly, otherwise I may
need to put one of my quick escapes," he thought.
Wheeler, sitting in the officer's lounge, was startled by the
emergence from hyperspace. So startled, in fact...that the large slice
of cake he had squirreled away as a snack from the midday meal, was now
thoroughly smeared across the front of that freshly starched utility
uniform...he stormed off to his quarters to find a suitable replacement.
Along for the ride once again, Ardac knew he was getting for too old
to trudge through the mud with the commandos. He imagined the
Commander's trust in his expertise should have been a compliment. Yet it
was bittersweet ... technical advisor. He felt like a diplomat, there to
instruct the heavy-handed commandos that some doors could be opened
without breaching charges. But duty was duty, he settled into his seat
in the shuttle.
Quar sat in the back of the shuttle, looking down to the boots on his
feet. He smirked, looking at the laces all the way up. His hand checked
the Morellian Weapons Conglomerate .48 Enforcer on his right hip, taking
the weapon out of its holster. He pulled back the slide to make sure
that the first round was loaded. His hand released the slide and placed
the safety back on. With mild concentration, the weapon was placed back
inside of the holster. He sighed lightly as he reached into his pocket,
removing a small hand held data pad with the mission specifics. His eyes
darted over the gathered intelligence, studying the maps and layouts.
"Prepare for the jump to light-speed." Zek announced over the entire
shuttle, whomever decided to tag along. He setup the coordinates
provided by his Commander from the navigation computer. When he dialed
up the coordinates, he began to slowly engage the hyperdrive. Within
seconds, the Gilded Thranta would disappear before the CR90
Alanya was dressed in a suit of shadowsilk, cut to her form to
eliminate even the smallest noise. From her belt hung her favorite
multiweapon, the twist-lock emerging knife, weighted club end and
slicewire pull out length made it a constant companion. Alliance
Adjudicator Slugthrower was strapped to her thigh, the silenced
slugthrower whisper quiet. Sometimes there was still a place for 'low'
technology. She wore a full wrap around breathmask, her blue eyes closed
as she concentrated upon the mission. Black rectangular assault pack was
strapped to her back. She had left her Intimidator...she needed the room
for other things. Besides, she needed to rely on stealth this time
around. She opened her blue orbs, looking down at her hand as it flexed
and moved slowly under the light and sound absorbing glove of shadowsilk.
Unlike his fellow Trooper Jace had skill...did not need all that
fancy stuff. A simple blast vest, DL-18 and a DLT-20A was all he needed.
Giving a nod to the pilot of the Sigma he made his way into one
of the gun turret seats. As he strapped in his fingers slid across the
controls of the turret powering the system up to life. He figured he had
better get used to the controls. He most likely was going have to do a
lot of shooting to cover the Gunboat.
Quar adjusted his blast vest which sat over the stained white
t-shirt. He looked at the fully decked out shadowsilked female commando
and eyed her curves. He smiled lightly as he closed his handheld datapad
and leaned back in his jump seat.
The Gilded Thranta sped across the sector to reach the planet
of Sluis Van. Once they entered the atmosphere of the planet, he would
be sure to swiftly find some way to avoid any TIE fighters or perhaps a
Star Destroyer. Hues peer over the radar to scan the area. Unsure
exactly what he would come across, but he knew it would be clear since
the Royal Alderaan Civil Fleet transponder would assist the Argo
crew. He began to make his course over to Sluis Van where he would
search out what Derek wanted them to be at, the shipyard.
Several hundred kilometers away from Sluis Van, one of the dozens of
picket vessels that the Imperial Navy had in place to scan the hundreds
of incoming cargo and transport ships, was the Vindicator-class
heavy cruiser Ardent. The sensors officer aboard the Ardent
signaled his commanding officer upon the arrival of the new contact.
Immediately, a query was transmitted to the approaching shuttle,
demanding a transponder beacon and inventory of cargo/passengers, as per
standing operating procedure. In the meantime, the crew of Ardent
remained passive. It was just one of hundreds of vessels they scanned on
a daily basis. "Approaching shuttle, this is the cruiser Ardent.
Please identify yourself, and state cargo and intentions for approaching
Sluis Van." Bleary eyed, the communications officer in the adjoining
station to the sensors officer, awaited a response. His shift was
nearing completion; he had been on for close to twelve hours, and was
anxiously awaiting his twelve hour relief.
From afar, the Gilded Thranta detected an Imperial cruiser
approaching nearby, taking notice of the shuttle as it approached Sluis
Van. He arched a thick brow to the voice spoken over the com. "This is
the Gilded Thranta. Sending transponder codes now. Our
destination is for Sluis Van and we're making drops of food and supplies
to aid the Imperial troops upon the planet." Zek's intentions were to
possibly make this lie sound reasonable so the shuttle could make a
clear landing on to the planet. He was not a rookie. His past career
consisted of smuggling priceless goods and illegal items to numerous
syndicates and small-time cliques upon different planets. He would send
the transponder codes over to the cruiser meanwhile he remained calm
awaiting for a response of clearance.
The Imperial Navy certainly received the lion's share of amenities
and supplies ... the signals officer felt a few pangs of remorse for the
Imperial troopers slugging it through the surface of Sluis Van below.
Although there certainly could be worse places to be a Stormtrooper; any
place without supplies was a bad one. Hence, the shuttle would not be
questioned or detained further. "Very well, Gilded Thranta. Give
my regards with the supplies those below. Watch the winds on your
atmospheric approach ... there's several storm clusters planetside. Take
care." The Ardent changed course ever so slightly, coming off the
intercept course it had maintained since the shuttle's arrival. Two
circling TIE/ln starfighters clipped the course of the shuttle by about
two kilometers, inbound on the Ardent.
With sigh of relief, Zek released a light breath past his thin lips.
He continued on course, picking up speed to make their approach over to
the planet's surface. "Thank you, I will. Take care." He grinned evilly
before he followed the advice the Imperial officer had stated about
Sluis Van's harsh conditions. He proceeded further towards the plant,
keeping the shuttle on a steady pace meanwhile it experienced a light
quake. "Hold on, boys. This could get a bit tricky." He had been in
worse situations than this. As he bypassed the planet's atmosphere, he
continued on course to find a platform to make his landing on.
Alanya gripped the restraints and held on tight. At least it seemed
they were not about to get blown out of the sky before they touched
down, a small mercy. She would not of been surprised if the transponder
code they had been given was out of date. Luckily it seemed Intelligence
had done it's job this time...
Quar listened to the radio transmissions confidently. He continued to
look at the form fitting shadowsilk around the female, wondering what
she would look like once those tight form fitting clothes were removed.
He brought his wrist in front of his face, glancing at the time on his
The chronograph would show the battle-hardened and tested operative
that the local time was just before dawn, as intended. The eyes of the
inhabitants below, primarily human and Bith, would require the most
adjustment at this time period...hence the reason most attacks occur at
dawn or dusk. Just outside the city of Dapani stood the staging
facilities of the 443rd Assault Wing, as it's nomenclature stated on
unit manning rosters. The equipment of the 443rd was spread out on a
corner lot of the spaceport of Dapani, approximately 300 meters from the
nearest civilian warehouse. Traffic at this time of morning was light ...
and the worn tarmac of the spaceport was barely separable from the
surrounding countryside. No fences were visible on the perimeter of the
spaceport or even the Imperial compound there ... but two patrols were
out, consisting of two guards apiece. These were visible on IR sensor
scans, on the shuttle's display.
Correson located a perfect platform where he could land his shuttle.
He slowly maneuvered the Sigma-class shuttle over near the
platform, disengaging the landing skits. Gently, he set the piece of
junk while gas released from the pressure system. Despite the look he
had seen from the two guards glancing over at the shuttle, he would take
a glance at the troopers seated in his shuttle. "Better hope you know
what you're doing." Being the pilot of the shuttle, he would not be
necessarily required to assist them.
Quar unhooked himself from his jump seat, his head turning to face
the pilot. He smiled at the comment, his confidence creating an aura of
conceitedness. "Get geared up, and let's move out," He said as he looked
to his commandos. He buttoned up the brown trench coat, concealing both
his weapon and the blast vest. He walked towards the exit ramp, grabbing
a clipboard which contained some fimspat and a stylus connected to it.
Standing right at the bottom of the ramp, wearing grease covered
mechanic's coveralls, was a humanoid with a deep, receding hairline and
several teeth missing from his lopsided smile. The sort of smile that
screams 'much less intelligent that necessary for working on
sophisticated spacecraft.' "'Hey! Didn't expect you guys with the next
batch of parts and supplies for another three days! Do you want me to
wake up the base commander or the flight wing commander...or the
security commander...or the maintenance commander...or the..." and the
list went on, as the simpleton plodded on...clearly, it was not his job
to be involved with the arrival of incoming supplies. He was just a nosy
mechanic, poking his head into things. Speaking of poking, his head
swung around the lowered exit ramp, straining for a glance up into the
shuttle...hoping they heard his first statements...thinking they had
not, he began to start again... "Hey! Didn't expect you guys for
Ardac stayed back in the rear of the shuttle, out of plain sight. A
Chiss on board wouldn't help the Alderaanian cover story any.
Alanya stood slowly, soft soled boots carrying her forward until she
froze at the words of the mechanic like a statue. Staying completely
still in the shadows of the shuttle. She would have to rely on Quar to
deal with this one, as he was too likely to scream if he saw an
Infiltrator charging down at him. Shooting him rather messily would not
be a good option either. Somebody might miss him while the operation was
Quar nodded and reached into his trench coat pocket, feeling a long
cylinder shape. His hand wrapped around it as he continued to nod at the
balding, toothless mechanic. His fingers removed the tip off of the
cylinder and brought it to hide behind the clipboard. "Waking people up
won't be necessary. See, my boss is riding my ass," Quar said as he
gesticulated with his hands. He shook his head as he stood next to
toothless man, bringing the cylinder off the clipboard and to his side.
"See, take a look on my bill of laden!" He moved the clipboard in front
of the man and shook his head. As the toothless wonder's eyes moved to
the clipboard, Quar brought the small cylinder to the man's neck,
pressing it in. A small surgical steel needle would exit the cylinder
and enter the man's neck injecting a small amount of sedative.
Fariss the Mechanic's Assistant, 1st Class, slumped forward towards
Quar, his knees buckling under him from the potent, fast-acting
sedative. An audible gurgle emanated from the man's throat, as he tongue
lolled about in a pool of saliva, the moisture bubbling when it mixed
with escaping air from the man's lungs. His eyes remained open, but
glassy and distant. He was unconscious within seconds.
Quar's arms wrapped around the mechanic, ensuring that he would not
fall to the ground. The cylinder dropped onto the floor of the exit
ramp. He pressed the clipboard against his chest as he dragged the
mechanic down the ramp. He continued until he reached a small tool
station on the docking pad. He released the mechanic, placing him
against the small tool station. Once again, he reached into the trench
coat's pocket removing a small baggy of spice. He opened the top of the
baggy, sprinkling it on the mechanic's lips. With his thumb and pointer
finger, he resealed the baggy, placing it into the mechanic's hand. Quar
sighed loudly and looked towards the exit ramp of the shuttle, placing
his hands back inside of his pockets. [d]
Only after Quar finished did she move to the shuttle's ramp, moving
quietly down as she lowered her body down, eyes glancing from side to
side. "Those guards. Do we take them or leave them?" She asked, her
voice muffled somewhat by her breath mask. Doing two at once would be
hard without alerting anybody. It could get rather messy. But she was
not the one in charge of mission, after all. She kept her hands free for
the moment, not seeing the need for a weapon just yet, as that would be
chosen by what she was ordered to do.
Walk down the ramp, to a ship, hop in and start it up. As if it would
be that easy...there were plenty of Imperials around who would not like
very much having one of their toys stolen. She moved down the ramp and
onto the tarmac, her soft soled boots silent against the ground. She
would need to take out the sentries...but eliminating two at once
without alerting the other patrol would not be easy. She glanced around,
spotting some rocks by her foot. She crouched down
to her knees and picked one up. She lowered herself down, blending in
with the darkness of the Tarmac as she heaved the rock as hard as she
could towards the parked starfighters, to try and make as much noise as
The Imperial Patrols were getting slack. They always did, this late
in the night. The two squads of six men eventually broke into four of
three, and wound down the higher the numbers on the chrono rolled. Two
of the main groups moved out to the far perimeter, while those
patrolling across the tarmac in a loose zigzagging pattern all but came
to a stop. Near one of the Gunboats, two Imperials leaned against the
outer hull. "Yeah, I keep submitting replacement forms for that heating
coil in my bunk, but of course that gets shuffled to the bottom of some
stack in a rancor pit. I'm freezing my a...hey, did you hear something?" A
loud bang, the sound of rock on metal. The three loitering Imperials
raised their blaster rifles, moving through the darkness between the
starfighters. Their flashlights beams crisscrossed every few seconds,
but it was not a perfect screen. "It's probably just an animal, but if
it craps on one of these ships the commander is gonna have a bantha."
Meanwhile, Ardac sat in the shuttle cockpit, adjusting the seat until
his back was the straightest and he had the most mobility.
Alanya moved the instant the beams turned away. She leapt up to her
feet and sprinted flat out, the slapping of her booted feet on the
ground minimized by their soft soles. She came to a quick stop behind
one of the gunboats, pressing her back up against it's underside to
avoid the roaming lights that threatened to expose her. Now they were in
her territory, the starfighters provided her terrain in which to close
the distance, and remain hidden. She moved against one of the gunboats,
her back sliding along the hull as she unclipped the multitool from her
belt and held it in her left hand. Right ring ringer slipped into the
pull loop and silently emerged a length of slicewire, the deadly, ultra
razor sharp material. She crouched low and moved forward silently,
approaching the trio of imperials.
"There's nothing here man, it was probably metal settling or
something." The trio stopped, two of them shouldering their blasters,
the third still probing the shadows at random with the narrow shaft of
light his flashlight emitted. "Metal settling? No wonder you're just a
guard," One of them chided the other. "Hey, you're a guard too." "Yeah,
but I'm in charge, and I say it was nothing. Let's go relieve Dagan's
group, almost time for shift change." The group of three split up, two
strolling casually up the center of the tarmac, the third ... the one in
charge ... pulled out his radio. "Reporting. Shift's almost up guys. Gonna
get a sabbac game started, let's wrap it up."
She listened quietly, and glanced around. No need to kill them if she
could avoid it, would give her the advantage until the last second. She
turned to face the gunboat she was leaning against and deftly climbed up
it towards the cockpit as she retracted the slicewire with the thumb
stud set into the multitool. She tried to cockpit window, but found it
locked and flipped out the dagger, sliding it along the edge of the
cockpit glass, looking for the locking mechanism that secured it.
Security guards, even Imperials, were not machines. They functioned
in shifts, twelve men on at a time. At the shift change, six men would
take a speeder at the far end of the tarmac and check in at the Imperial
barracks. Twelve more would come in two speeders, the remaining six
taking the spare back to base. It was a soft spot in the security, but
in this desolate place in the woods, even the Imperial's notorious
paranoia had grown slack. All the men were preparing to be off duty.
Alanya slid the dagger back hard, and there was a soft pop as the
cockpit opened. Climbing inside as she folded the dagger back in she
dropped back down into the seat, pulling down the cockpit covering. She
checked the controls over once, a sweep of her eyes determined their
function before she turned the power plant on, strapping herself in as
she waited for the plant to heat up.
"Did you hear that?" "Are you kidding me, again? I told you, it's
probably one of those big, nasty rats. We'll lay some traps in the
morning." The guards slowed, turning back to head in the general
direction of their parked speeder. "If it'll make you feel better, we
can put up an alert. Then when we get back you can file a report. Miss
the sabbac game." "Let's just go. Maybe it was nothing." "Yeah, maybe."
Alanya waited a moment longer before turning on the repulsorlifts and
bringing up the landing gear. Ignoring the noise that it would make
folding up into the undercarriage. She pivoted the Gunboat around in
place. Thumb flicked over the weapon selector switch, bringing the
missiles up. She had chosen this particular gunboat for a reason. A part
of a squadron was always on alert like this, loaded and ready to go. She
squeezed the trigger back, she did not need a tone at this range, firing
the missiles point blank at one of the nearby gunboats before she kicked
the engine into high gear.
"Do big rodents fly spaceships?" "What? What kind of question is
that." A beam of light fell across the canopy of the starcraft as it
raised up on its repulsors. In the dark of the tarmac, it was impossible
to miss. The two guards stood side by side, dumbfounded for a moment,
before the missile fired. It impacted one of the nearby ships, an
explosion sending shrapnel in every direction, flames reaching for the
sky. The force of the blast sent the two guards flailing, ragdolling
into the tarmac, unconscious or dead. It got the attention of the four
other men left over, one of which began radioing frantically. Somewhere
in the distance, an alarm began wailing, its high-pitched keening
filling the quiet night. Floodlights on every corner of the tarmac
clanked on, flooding the area in bright light. But four blaster rifles
fired haphazardly at a Gunboat was not going to stop it.
The explosion was Correson's signal. The shuttle's plant had been
kept warmed. Raising onto the repulsors, he killed the exterior lights
and then switched to the sub-light engine, taking the dark mass up into
the clouds. He was an old hand, a steady pilot. The shuttle shook when
it met atmosphere but the human managed to even it out, breaking away
from the planet. Rockturne was on her own, he did not know her enough to
have faith in her, but he was a Rebel ... having hope came with the job.
Already the Gilded Thranta might notice something was wrong.
Instead of heading on the same trajectory as the shuttle she had turned
away, taking a different route through the atmosphere, up into space.
Alanya kicked the power from her laser weapons over to shields and
engines, dividing the extra energy evenly. She would rely on missiles if
she needed to fight. She was just looking to flee, after all. The edge
in speed and protection should get her out of there. Wherever it was she
Flee she would. At this time of night, only half the pilots were
awake and on call, and the guards were in such disarray that information
did not reach anyone in charge until Alanya and the Rebel's new Gunboat
cleared atmosphere. By the time the pilots were in the cockpits, it was
too late ... they did not have sophisticated enough scanners to follow the
Ion trails, and the ship's transponder had been deactivated. It was a
clean smash and grab, one more notch on the Rebel's belt and one more
knot in the Imperial's noose.