stood in the cargo hold of the Pelta-class frigate
Blue Haven, tirelessly moving repulsorsleds full of
captured cargo from the Imperial transport they had
disabled. As she worked she noticed Mug Zoran
playing with his adopted daughter, Callista Nilar,
and shook her head with a smile. The young Mug was
not getting any work done, but at least Callista had
not gotten in the way yet. If the transport had
gotten off a distress call when attacked it was only
a matter of time before Imperial reinforcements
arrived, so she, along with the rest of the crew,
were moving double time to load the cargo. She had
no idea what was in the crates ... weapons, food,
miscellaneous parts ... but she did know whatever it
was the Rebellion desperately needed it. She stopped
for a moment, placing her hands on her knees and
hunched over to catch her breath. Her short hair was
matted with sweat, and she took a moment to bring
her hand up to her forehead to wipe away some of the
sweat. "Feel free to lend a hand ... *Milord*," she
said, as she had come to calling him condescendingly
since fleeing Delaya with him.
Mug Zoran had
initially come to the cargo bay to help Kat and the
others load cargo, but Callista had quickly put a
stop to that. "Catch!" he said, giggling, as he
threw a disarmed proton torpedo at the little girl.
It was hardly a proper toy, but it was all they
could manage aboard a ship of war. It was tough
being a new father to an adoptive daughter ... it
was nigh on impossible doing it in a warzone. They
could not stop in their duties as Rebels just to
raise a child in peace. His mother and the other
victims of the destruction of Alderaan deserved to
be avenged, and this cargo raid, while not a major
victory, was yet another step to gathering the
resources that he believed would ultimately bring
them victory. "Okay, okay!" he said, as he moved to
grab part of the repulsorsled to move it deeper into
the Blue Haven.
"Weee! I got
it!" Callista opened up her arms wide. She made
small steps heading backwards to catch the disarmed
proton torpedo. Her rear end hit the ground as her
arms wrapped around the torpedo. "Look, Daddy! I
caught it!" In her innocent mind, this wasn't a war
ship. This was *home*. As long as her parents were
there, the girl was happy. The little girl handled
the situations that were thrown at her better than
her adoptive mother and father. With the torpedo in
hand, Callista bounded towards Kat. "Here, Auntie
Kay! I'll help you!" She dropped the torpedo on the
ground. Using her hands as fans, she attempted to
cool down Kat. She smiled widely.
Iyah Xergo was
working equally as hard as Kat. With Callista, it
was hard to stay motivated in her duties as a Rebel.
It was tempting to quit and hide somewhere far away
with her family. In this magical peaceful place that
didn't exist, they could play all day and become
oblivious to the Empire. This place didn't exist.
Until the Empire fell, no where was safe. She wanted
to avenge people. She also wanted to provide a
wonderful, bright future for Callista. With that
said, Iyah walked into the cargo hold with her black
hair slicked back from sweat. Hairs were bursting
out of her normally neat pony tail. She moved to the
other side of the repulsorsled and began to push.
"Working hard or hardly working?" She said, peering
out from the other side. Iyah was so happy to have
Callista back. She never stopped feeling over the
moon about how the Rodneys had helped them get her
back. Callista was a symbol of hope.
*much* better," Kat said, sarcastically, but in a
way that Callista would not pick up on it. The tiny
fingers barely circulated at all, but it was the
thought that counted. She was just about to move to
get another shipment of cargo when the alarms began
to sound. Suddenly the Blue Haven was rocked, as it
was impacted by a laser blast. "Those reinforcements
must have gotten here faster than we expected," she
said, as she moved to close the cargo hatch. All
around them troopers were scrambling to their battle
stations. With the cargo hatch closed they were
disconnected from the Imperial transport.
get to the bridge," Mug told Iyah, as he let go of
the repulsorsled and grabbed Callista. They had been
through this before, but he was always worried that
the young girl would get scared. "It's fire drill
time again," he told her, lying, as he moved with
her down the corridors, past scrambling troopers and
droids, to the cabin the three of them shared. Once
inside the cabin the sound of the alarm and the
activity was diminished, but each time a blast
struck the frigate the ship shook violently. After
one particularly accurate blast the lights went
dark, but eventually came back on in a dim shade of
red emergency lightning.
girl concentrated hard. She moved her hands as fast
as she could. Her little tongue stuck out of her
mouth. "Mama! Look! I'm helping Auntie Kay!"
Callista was nearly knocked off her feet at the
first impact. Her eyes widened. This had happened
before. In her innocent mind, she believed her
father that it was a fire drill. As they traveled
down the corridors together, she reminded her
father. "Stop, drop, and roll, Daddy! Stop, drop,
and roll!" Inside of the cabin, she huddled closely
to her father. She was okay with the occasional
rocked until the lights went dark. "Daddy... I can't
see..." Callista wasn't a fan of the dark. She had a
night light shaped like an Ewok in the cabin for
that reason. The red lights made her uncomfortable.
She clung to Mug.
softness had risen to the surface briefly at the
time the ship was hit. Mentally, she cursed. She
looked at Mug. They both knew the drill. In order to
keep Callista safe, they had to split up. "Alright.
Be safe." Her heart was split in these situations.
Regardless, duty was calling and she came running
towards the bridge. "We need to get out of here as
quickly as we can." TIE fighters screeched by the
Blue Haven. Their shield was taking some serious
abuse. Already, Rebels were taking up positions at
turrets and attempting to shoot down the TIE
fighters. Iyah quickly plotted a course away from
Imperial ground. Several screens had begun to turn
red just as the emergency lighting came on. "They're
about to take the shield down... Shit."
scrambled with the other members of the crew, doing
her best to secure the cargo in the midst of battle.
After a blast impacted, shaking the ship, a stack of
cargo containers toppled over, crashing into her
shoulder and crushing another crew member. "Medic!"
she called out, wincing, as she placed her hand upon
her dislocated shoulder and scurried away from the
cargo. If they did not make the jump to hyperspace
soon they would be in a world of hurt.
"Hold on," Mug
said, as he went to grab a glow rod. The hand light
brought some light into the darkened cabin, but not
as much as the overhead lights created before they
lost power. "The drill is almost over. Mommy will
have the lights on soon," he said, as he sat down on
the floor with her. He wrapped his arms around her
tightly, clinging back, as he drew her nearer him
and the light. He wondered if they were about to be
disabled and boarded ... and what that would mean
for his family. Thoughts like this played hell on
him in the midst of battle, which made him useless
in a fight. His sole responsibility was to take care
of Callista while Iyah did the fighting.
onto her father. The glow rod helped. She could see
it illuminating Mug's face. It put her at ease. The
little girl cuddled him affectionately with less
fear. "That's much brighter, Daddy! Don't worry!
Mama will come get us soon." Instead of feeding off
of the hell in Mug's head, the little girl looked to
make her father feel better. "Will you show me how
to do itsy bitsy spider again?" She asked, holding
up her small hands for direction.
frigate was ready for the jump to hyperspace. The
shield was still up at fifteen-percent. It wasn't a
pleasant number, but the current repairs could be
done with the droids on the frigate. Iyah refused to
allow her ship to be boarded. It would have to
happen over her dead body. The lights buzzed back on
as the frigate launched forward. "You can do it,
girl. Just get us to Ringali Nebula and we'll be
safe. I'll take good care of you. Promise." Iyah
sweet talked the ship from behind its navigation
controls. She went so far as the stroke the controls
while the frigate departed from the battlefield.
When the frigate left hyperspace, they had reached
their destination. The young woman breathed hard.
She immediately began assigning droids to make
repairs. They were safe, right?
When the ship
emerged from hyperspace into the Ringali Nebula the
lights gradually were restored throughout the ship
by the dedicated engineering crew. "Yay!" Mug said,
clapping both his hands and Callista's hands
together as the lights came back on. "The drill is
over. Mama turned the lights back on," he told her,
as he rose back to his feet, and then helped her up
as well. He took her by the hands, outstretched her
arms, and began to dance around in a circle with
her. "The lights are on! The lights are on!" he
chanted repeatedly as he danced about playfully with
his daughter. Inside he was relieved, but he
wondered how bad the damage was and how many had
been hurt ... or worse. It was then that he noticed
an incoming transmission on the HoloNet transceiver.
He let go of Callista for just a moment to take a
look at it, wondering why they would be receiving a
message here and not on the ship's main receiver.
When he realized what it was, he immediately moved
to contact Iyah on the bridge. "Commander, I am sure
you have your hands full up there, but there's an
urgent message for you in your quarters," he said,
trying his best to act like a professional yeoman
rather than a lover. There were still many who would
judge their relationship, but as the weeks drew on
few aboard the ship did not know what was going on
They had just
dodged a bullet. Iyah had no time to relax. No
sooner had she begun to breathe properly again did
she receive contact from Mug. Her eyes showed her
worry while the rest of her facial features
maintained professionalism. He may have been her
yeoman, but she feared the day he'd contact her to
report something had happened to Callista. Her look
hardened at his report. She nodded her head. "I'll
be there right away." She promised him. She was on
her feet half a second later, headed down the
corridors while she checked on anyone she came upon.
There were people who were judgmental over their
relationship, but Iyah did not care. She openly
loved Mug. They knew when to play nice and when to
let their passions show...and that made their
relationship work. The doors leading into her cabin
slid open as she appeared. "What is it? Are you both
okay?" She had no idea why she'd be receiving a
message in her room. She couldn't begin to guess
what was happening.
Callista danced and rejoiced with her father.
Another fire drill had passed. "The lights are on!
The lights are on! Mama is *awesomeee*!" She
continued to dance around the room while her daddy
took care of business. She rushed into her parent's
bed, finding her favored plush: a white bunny
wearing a pink ballerina costume. She continued her
dance with the floppy rabbit in tow until her mother
showed up. "Mama! You saved the lights!" She bounded
towards the dark haired woman. She tackled her into
a big hug. By the look on Iyah's face, it was
exactly what she needed.
relieved to see that Iyah was ok, but he knew the
transmission they had received was of greater
importance. He moved towards her quickly, wrapping
his arms around her in a loving embrace. "You need
to see it," he whispered softly into her ear, before
turning his attention to young Callista. "Mama needs
to use the HoloNet," he said, as he took her by the
hand, and led her out of the bedroom. "Let's go get
something to eat," he told her, as he moved over to
the next room. He fixed her a bowl of fruit and sat
her down on the table, before moving back to the
doorway to peer into the bedroom and attempt to
watch the transmission, while simultaneously
shielding Callista from it. He swallowed in nervous
anticipation, fearing what news it might impart.
message came to life the image of Jelena Rodney
appeared on the display in a prerecorded message.
"Commander Xergo, I am dismayed to report that the
Empire has invaded Delaya and the refugees you once
sought to aid are now in grave danger," she
reported, grimly, as she once again moved to betray
the Empire and act in what she believed was the best
interest of her people. "The new Imperial Governor
has torn apart the refugee center and arrested
countless individuals on trumped up charges. The
Empire wants to destroy the only remaining trace of
Alderaan ... its people," she said, fighting back
emotions, while simultaneously looking around to
make sure she was not being watched. "I beg you to
return to Delaya and save as many of these people as
you can, and take them somewhere the Empire can
never find them," she said, before suddenly becoming
nervous and abruptly terminating the transmission.
Iyah Xergo was her only hope.
Iyah sat in
front of the transmission. Before her eyes, a
familiar face appeared. "Jelena Rodney," she gasped.
She had not seen the fellow Rebel since the passing
to the Grand Moff's wife. Despite the fact that they
were both Rebel Alliance, she didn't expect to hear
from her any time soon. Her family was tainted by
the Emperor. Iyah listened in complete shock while
Jelena relayed what had happened on Delaya. The
planet was now governed by the Grand Moff. After
they left...after they were run out...Iyah had never
considered going back. Mug had seemed entirely
callous when the news of Julius' death...his
father...had reached them. Iyah grew more serious
during the transmission. A new Imperial Governor was
causing hell for the poor refugees. Delaya had been
so open to taking them on. Even if she hated the
woman, Sierra Dakkar had created a better place for
them to live than the shit camp she had pulled Mug
and Callista from. "No..." She believed every work
coming out of Jelena's mouth. There was no time for
them to further discuss the details of Delaya's
invasion because the girl had terminated the
be. I positioned a group on Delaya." They were
supposed to be watching over the refugees."
Panicked, Iyah remembered Ashori Monoceros. She was
the leader of her undercover group. The commander
tried to initiate contact with Ash. Ashori's
apartment had already been gone through. Through her
torturous time with Governor Arundel, she had become
loose lipped. Her forehead collided with her hand.
"Come on. Pick up, Ash!" She had been very careful
with that group of Rebels. Their communications were
rare out of necessity...not because Iyah didn't
care. Anxiously, Iyah looked towards Mug. Had the
whole unit perished under Delaya's new Imperial
Governor Papius Arundel was hard at work reviewing
information concerning the capture of Grand Moff
Rodney's wife and daughter. Although it happened
outside of the system he governed, he was hoping
that *someone* connected to Delaya had been involved
so that he could stick his beak in. It was then that
he heard an annoying beeping, but despite his best
efforts he could not immediately determine where it
had come from. It was beginning to become an
annoyance, and then a disturbance, and he ultimately
rose from his desk and began actively searching for
it. It was only then that he stumbled upon the
personal possessions of the captured Rebel Ashori
Monoceros. He dropped down next to the box and
opened it, and after some searching found a hidden
comlink. He had been so busy *examining* her that he
had failed to notice the device. He pressed the
button to activate the comm, but did not say
anything, hoping he might overhear something of use
on the other end of the line.
Xergo's heart was beating so hard that she felt
sick. How had she overlooked Delaya's situation? She
should have been watching. She was living up to the
low expectation that everyone had for the youngest
commander in Rebel history. She tapped her fingers
on the desk. "Come on, come on, come on, come on."
She chanted. There were many logical explanations as
to why no one immediately picked up. Iyah's mind
just went for the worst thing it could come up with:
death. She was ready to terminate the communication
and rush to the Alderaan system when someone picked
up. The comm was silent. Iyah could hear breathing.
"Ash? Ash?! Are you okay?" Iyah was falling into a
trap. Her crew was her second family.
heard the female voice on the other end of the
transmission he realized he had intercepted the
Rebellion and finally had a chance to make real
progress in the advancement of his career. He moved
swiftly from his office and down the corridor
towards the room where he was keeping Ashori. She
was strapped to a table, unable to move, and he
quickly placed the comlink down on the table next to
her head. His hand moved to the blaster pistol he
kept at his side and raised it, placing it directly
over her forehead. He did nothing. He said nothing.
He needed this to play out.
ceased to exist for Ash since she had been captured.
The time of mentally reprimanding herself for
failing to kill Papius had ended. Every day, he
gained control over a little more of her. She had
been alone for some time when her evil captor
entered the room. She blinked, staring up at him
with tired green eyes. He had her teetering on the
brink of insanity after the last few weeks. The
sight of her comlink destroyed her. It stole the
air from her lungs. He'd found it. Even when she
confessed to her secret Rebel lair, she never
expected him to find the hidden comlink. She knew
who was on the other line: Commander Xergo. "Ash?
Are you there?" She could hear Iyah asking. With his
blaster lingering over her forehead, Papius had
already made the choice for her. "C-Commander!" She
gasped. "Commander Xergo, can you hear me? My
comlink is malfunctioning." Ash evened her voice.
It was hard to hide the fact that she was terrified.
At last, Iyah
was able to hear the girl. She breathed a full sigh
of relief. "It's good to hear from you, cadet. I've
received disturbing news about Delaya. There's a new
Imperial Governor there?! How are you and the others
holding up? We're bringing back up as soon as
There was pain
on Ash's face. Papius would kill Commander Xergo if
she reached the planet. Her mouth went dry. Her eyes
stared up at the very same Governor.
A name. And
not just any name. It was the Rebel that was well
known to him ... the lover of Grand Moff Rodney's
half-brother. He could not have dreamed up a more
perfect scenario. He could not contain the grin that
threatened to split his face in two. When Ashori
grew quiet he lowered his blaster pistol until the
barrel of the weapon was making direct contact with
her forehead. He applied considerable force to the
weapon, making a circular impression on her
forehead, and then pressing the back of her skull
down onto the durasteel table she was strapped to.
If she knew what was good for her she would speak
His grin made
the room drop several dozen degrees. It was
*freezing*. She shivered on the durasteel table. The
pressure of the barrel of the blaster hurt her
forehead. It was becoming more difficult to
differentiate between right and wrong. All she
wanted to do was make him happy so that Papius would
leave her alone. "Oh Commander." She sighed.
"There's a new Governor. His name is Papius
Arundel." She confessed truthfully. "The others in
my unit fled the planet as soon as he appeared. I've
been down here, quietly trying to continue carrying
out my orders." For a dramatic effect, the tone of
her voice changed to worry. "I don't know how much
longer I can last alone."
It was just as
Commander Xergo feared. All hell was breaking loose
on the planet she wanted to see least. Why didn't
these things happen on lovely, non-polluted planets?
Perhaps planets that didn't house an Imperial Grand
Moff who wanted to kill her and her family? The
sound of Iyah's forehead collided against the table
with a quick *thunk*. "Ash, don't worry. It's going
to be okay. I'm sending reinforcements...including
myself. We'll soon be there to help you with the
Imperial scum. We shall chase him away from the
planet and rebuild the refugee's home."
transmission ended, Papius slowly lowered his hand
to deactivate the comlink. He then pulled the
blaster pistol off Ashori's forehead and placed it
back within his holster. Hovering over her he
lowered his head until face was directly above hers,
only upside down. He fiercely placed his lips upon
hers in a passionate, violent kiss. When it broke he
lifted his face only an inch before laughing right
in her face. "Good job," he said, with a snicker, as
he moved away from the table to leave her alone in
the dark room to think about what she had just done
... and what she would do.