The sound of TIE/gt bombers could be
heard screeching over the skies of Salibury, one of the war torn cities
on Ralltiir. Commander Derek Atio, recently returned to active duty
following his near-death experience with the Black Sun, navigated his
A-A5 speeder truck through streets that were strewn with debris. Every
bump in the road literally caused him to grab at his stomach, where his
wound had not completely healed. He stomped on the repulsorbreaks as the
image in front of him suddenly caught his eyes. A building, which looked
like it had once been a shelter, had been struck by the TIEs and at
least a dozen young children, some of them looking rather badly injured,
appeared to be emerging from the debris. He could also make out several
bodies in the carnage ... it was a stark reminder that they were in a
warzone and that the Empire did not play fair. "We've got a problem
here. Refugees ... children," Derek muttered over the comm to Valeria who
was in the rear compartment of the truck, which was filled to the brim
with weapons, rations, and medical supplies. Equipment the Rebellion
badly needed if they were going to stand up to the Imperial war machine
in the system. "Go check them out. See if there's anything we can do to
help," he said to them, as his eyes glanced down at the chronometer.
This area was scheduled for another round of bombing soon ... they had not
"I'm still not sure why I couldn't sit
in the front with you." There was mirth in her voice despite the
grimness in the situation, but then Valeria was a rather mirthful
individual. She would open up the hatch of the cargo truck and exit, her
boots making a slight crunching sound on the rubble as she hit the
floor. She was outfitted in her normal manner, the skintight Thinsuit
worn beneath her leather jacket. It was practically a glamorous ensemble
when juxtaposed against those who had survived a ruthless shelling from
the Empire. She glanced around for a moment to locate the children he
had indicated. Valeria lacked a soft spot for children, perhaps because
of her rather...liberated upbringing. Not that she didn't care for
people in distress, it just had little to do with their age.
Three children approached Valeria as she
exited the speeder truck. Nine other children looked as if they were too
badly injured to walk on their own. The 'leader' of the group, a young
Human girl, smiled as she looked towards Valeria. "Are you a doctor?"
she weakly asked, as she coughed slightly, perhaps the indication of a
larger injury. There was death and destruction all around them and the
stench of rotting flesh filled the air. This had once been a relief zone
for refugees, but the bomb shelter was only large enough to fit a small
handful of children. They just were not prepared for such level of
destruction. In the distance, perhaps five kilometers away, another
explosion could be heard as the Empire continued its punitive strikes.
"No...but I'll help." Valeria smiled
gently, making sure to keep the slight look of insanity others glimpsed
in her eyes from the expression, as she reached out a hand to tap on her
wrist com and talk to Derek. "We'll need to ditch the cargo if we want
to get all of them." She started to back towards the rear of the truck,
looking towards the crates to identify which of them contained medical
supplies. She then communicated with Derek again. "If you don't mind
some...slight...damage to the truck I have a...trick...for offloading
Derek flinched visibly as the explosions
went off in the distance. It sounded like gentle rolling thunder at
first, but now it was something entirely different. "Whatever you're
going to do ... do it fast, Valeria," he said over the comm as he kept
the vehicle's engine running. They were already behind schedule and they
were in danger of becoming the next round of victims in this bombing
zone. His eyes darted to the chronometer on the wrist as beads of sweat
began to form on his forehead.
Valeria removed the crate of medical
supplies she was looking for with both hands, letting it thud onto the
ground. The smuggler did not close the rear cargo hatch, but did remove
the tie downs which were keeping the cargo steady in the hold. Valeria
would then hold up one finger to the wounded children as she rounded the
side of the truck. She would get into the main cab and scoot over to
take over the driving of the vehicle. "This will be quick, but you may
want to exit. You're not going to like this." Valeria had a grin on her
face. For Derek she did not bother to hide the manic look in her eyes.
"Oh why do I even bother," Derek moaned
as he opened the door on his side of the speeder's cockpit and slid out
to allow her to control the vehicle. As he exited the speeder he could
see the full extent of the injuries to the children and an uncomfortable
feeling began to wash over him. He let out a dejected sigh as he began
checking over them, realizing some of the children would more assuredly
die if they did not get immediate medical attention. But then his focus
shifted to the growing sound of the bombs of the distance ... it seemed
they had bigger problems.
"Okay, now what I need here is..."
Valeria's silver-blue eyes scanned the horizon as she looked for a
particular geographic feature. Since they were in the city, 'geographic
feature' was a bit of a stretch, but ceaseless bombing by the Empire had
made this urban landscape decided less flat. Finally she found what she
was looking for, a large building that had been flattened by what was
probably a proton bomb. She had done bombing runs herself in the past
and probably would again, so she knew what that kind of destruction
looked like. In this case her eyes were attracted to a 30 meter long
intact section of ferrocrete that looked a lot like... "...a ramp."
Valeria grinned and gunned the engines of the truck, bringing the
utilitarian vehicle up to full speed. Anyone looking at her could see
what she intended.
"Oh no..." Derek said in frustration as
he could clearly make out Valeria's intentions. He lowered his face into
his hands and shielded his eyes so he could not see what was about to
happen. He had worked so hard to gather those supplies for the Alliance
... he had even taken a slug for them ... and now they were about to be
carelessly dumped all over the bombed out streets of Salibury. "Blast
her..." he muttered, as he continued to do what little he could with the
one crate of medical supplies that Valeria had placed by the dozen
Valeria caught air in what must have
been a quite thrilling moment. The cargo truck had, for a few seconds,
transcended its mundane origins to become a vehicle for a thrill
seekers. It soared off of the ferrocrete ramp, crates of valuable
supplies being strewn behind it as it flew, and it was easy to imagine
Valeria giddy within. Eventually the dream ended, however, when the
truck landing hard. The cargo truck must have taken some damage to its
repulsorlift engines when it landed, but it did not do more than dent
the undercarriage. Valeria would quickly whirl the vehicle around as she
came barreling towards Derek. She had been honest ... that was probably
the fastest way possible to empty a fully loaded cargo speeder.
Derek had a nauseous feeling from what
had just occurred ... and while he had not watched what happened, he had
certainly heard it. Cringing, he brought his face around to finally look
at the crates of weapons and other equipment that had been strewn so
haphazardly over the street. "Valeria, I've heard about this weapons
depot in the Essesia system. You're going to have to come with me to
help replace this stuff..." he told her vaguely as he grabbed one of the
young children and began carrying him towards the vehicle. The sounds of
the bombing grew louder and the TIE/gt could now be heard in the
distance. "Come on, Valeria. Let's get these kids loaded!" he shouted as
he placed the first one in the cargo area, before going back for more.
Valeria had just managed to get the
truck stopped a few feet from Derek. Casually she would hop out of the
truck, a smile on her face as she ran over to the children and took two
out a time. She was a lot stronger than she looked, or perhaps the
children were light. Either way she took one under each arm, getting the
least injured ones out of the way first. She would have to be a lot more
gentle with the one with serious injuries. "You do know that was the
only way we were going to get the stuff offloaded in time." Over the
smell of the burnt out rubble the Commander would be able to smell a
rather soothing fragrance. Calming, even. It seemed to send a wave of
reassurance over whoever breathed it in, provided they didn't try and
resist it very hard.
No one had ever accused Derek Atio of
being a strong willed individual and thus it was no surprise when the
pleasing scent immediately caused a soothing sigh to escape his lips and
a disoriented smile to form shortly thereafter. The poor man had been
taken aback by the fragrance and suddenly he found it much easier to
lift the children. They somehow felt lighter and by now three quarters
of the children were safely aboard the speeder waiting for evacuation.
Then suddenly a massive explosion about half a kilometer erupted and
rained debris and shrapnel down upon them. Derek, however, seemed
oblivious to it and continued with the orderly process of loading
refugees aboard the truck.
Valeria would blink in surprise as she
saw the change in Derek's attitude, apparently not certain what had
happened herself. It was not something she did consciously, most of the
time. She preferred to manipulate people on an even playing field.
Valeria must have been on some level concerned with the stress the
injured children must be feeling. Finally she would put the last of the
children onto the back of the speeder truck. She got on it shortly
afterwards, bringing the crate with her. "Okay, get in the front and
drive! We've got to get moving!" She would close the hatch and see to
what medical care she could provide.
Derek leapt into the cockpit of the A-A5
speeder truck and without even bothering to strap himself in he slammed
on the throttle to accelerate the old truck to its maximum speed.
Without the weight of the cargo the vehicle seemed to handle a lot
better, but there were many rough patches of land ahead. Behind them a
bomb fell, destroying the cargo they had worked so hard to get this far.
It was a loss for the Rebellion in terms of supplies, but they had
managed to save twelve children whose lives would have otherwise been
snuffed out. He plotted a course for an evacuation transport that was
headed towards one of the Alliance's safe worlds. That would be the best
place for these children to start their new lives.