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A Pilot Story (OT - The Adventures of Wedge Antilles)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction Stories--Classic JC Board (Reply-Only)' started by RogueLead11, Jul 27, 2000.

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  1. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    I?ll be working on this off and on, see if I get any responses. It?s Classic Universe, mostly pre-Battle of Yavin, and deals with the adventures of Wedge Antilles, in the period between his parents' murder and his actual joining of the Alliance. Keep an eye out for some future Rogues and familiar faces, they'll be popping up at different points in the storyline. I?ve been here in the fanfic forums for awhile now, but this is my first solo story. I am incredibly nervous, so bear with me. Feedback is always welcome! :)

    * * *


    * * *

    That day.

    I would always remember everything about that day: the explosion, the flames that blossomed against the backdrop of stars and space like a crimson flower. It would all be seared into my mind for as long as I lived. Like an invisible brand ? a permanent mark upon my soul: a burden for me to carry for all eternity.

    The transmission had been breaking up. There hadn?t been much time for good-byes. Just those last words. They would haunt my dreams for a long, long time afterwards.

    ?We love you, son.?

    Then came the roar. The fire spat, clenching its fist and crushing my home in its fiery clutches.


    Standing at the viewport, my hands pressed up against the cool transparisteel, my own farewell caught in my throat and threatening to choke me, it didn?t occur to me to cry. I knew tears were sliding down my cheeks. I half-wondered how they?d gotten there. It all seemed so distant, so unreal?

    There was a hand on my shoulder, turning me around. I wiped the tears away. Some words murmured, intending to be comforting, but the person who was saying them had no experience in solacing young boys. What was he to say? ?Your family is dead. Your life is over.? There was nothing.

    Instead, he handed me a flight helmet and pointed the direction to the hangar.

    The Z-95 wasn?t much, not like the fancy ships I?d flown in the past. I wasn?t of the mind to care. All I felt then was anger. I could barely think, even as I went through the familiar start-up procedures and guided my little ship into space. There was only one thought floating in my brain then. A shameful thought.

    Revenge. Sweet, terrible, wonderful, remorseless revenge.

    I killed that day.

    Not just one, either. The freighter I?d targeted carried more than one man ? his entire crew, too. They were all guilty, of course. They?d all committed murder. That didn?t excuse the fact that they were living, breathing beings, but it hadn?t mattered to me at the time. I blasted their ship apart.

    It was only when the last remnants of the freighter were spinning away from the dissipating fireball that events caught up with me. The hot flames of my anger shrank and evaporated in smoke. I slumped back in my pilot?s chair. The same voice from before was now coming through my helmet?s com-system, trying to talk some sense into me while a transport swooped in from above to pick me up. The Z-95 shuddered as the transport?s tractor beam locked on.

    It was only afterwards, once again in the embrace of those that cared, that I could think of anything but retribution.

    I cried.

    I would never forget the day that changed my life, for better or worse. That day?
  2. Amidala22

    Amidala22 Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jun 20, 1999
    WOW! That was so sad! Who is it?Is this Au, Eu?

    Really good, please post more!

    (hurry! I am posting this at work and probably won't be able to read any posts at home!!!)

    Queen of Jedi Knights
  3. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    Thanks! Wow, I thought nobody was going to reply to this. I'm working on a post right now... maybe get it up today, don't know.

    As for who the narrator is, you'll just have to find out for yourself! :) More hints will turn up as the story progresses. This takes place a little before ANH. Not AU, though.
  4. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999


    * * *

    ?Looking good, Ace!?

    She was young, attractive, and seemed to float through the tavern doors on a cloud. A couple envious bar patrons turned their heads to follow as she glided through their midst. A few drooled on their shoes.

    Maire was oblivious. She usually had that effect on those of the male gender and she was used to it by now.

    I had a booth near the back wall, the same booth as always. She made a beeline strait for me, and I smiled as she slid in on the opposite side. ?Hello, Maire,? I said. ?It?s been awhile.?

    ?Too long, Ace. Way too long.? She gave me a radiant grin. ?I?m thirsty. Got anything to drink? What?s that you have there??


    She made a face. ?Lomin-Ale? That?s kid?s stuff!? Maire stopped. ?Oh yeah ? you are a kid. I keep forgetting.?

    I handed over my glass and despite her grumbling, she dispatched what was left of my ale in record time. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, Maire studied me. ?Got another job for you,? she said quietly.

    ?You don?t need to lower your voice,? I said. ?This place has been swept for bugs thousands of times.?

    ?It?s a supply run,? she continued, seemingly ignoring me. ?Medical supplies, stuff like that. Pretty simple. Nothing? complicated. Not like last time.?

    ?Sounds too good to be true.?

    She winked. Reaching across the table, she lay her closed fist on the table next to my arm. ?You won?t let us down, will you?? she asked plaintively. Little-Girl-Lost. Damsel-In-Distress. She played her part well.

    It was all a front, one I?d seen before, but I still had to hold back a laugh. Maire was more a big sister to me than a girlfriend. She was at least three years older than me, anyway, and we only met to complete official affairs. Nevertheless, I kept up the charade and covered her fist with my hand, squeezing slightly.

    ?I?d never let you down, Maire,? I said. There were disagreeing growls from the bar patrons. I was half-expecting a bottle of lum to come crashing down on my head at any moment ? luckily, I was fairly well known at this tavern.

    She smiled and leaned closer. I did the same. Using our bodies to partially shield what was happening on the table, I pulled my arm back in, taking her fist with me?

    ? At the same time transferring what she?d held in her fist safely into my own palm.

    I closed my fingers around the object, hearing the quiet rattle of coins. I weighed the money-pouch once (quickly) in my hand before putting it away in my inner jacket pocket. My down payment, a little incentive. The rest of my compensation would be forked over once the job was done. Standard procedure.

    I glanced up to see Maire?s nose hovering about an inch away from mine. Her blue eyes seemed to bore into me, flicking up and down my face, as if they were trying to read my mind. I remained impassive. I wondered what she saw, if she saw anything. People sometimes said they had a hard time reading me. They said it with respect, so I supposed being hard to read was a good thing.

    ?What?? I said.

    ?I don?t get you sometimes,? she said after a while.

    I frowned, jokingly. ?Is it my cologne??

    ?You seem like a good kid. Weren?t born into this life. You could be in the Academy, or working in a shipyard, or even sitting behind a desk somewhere, making decent money. What are you doing out here on the fringe, living off bread crusts?? She hesitated, then decided to make the leap. ?Why, you could even make a half decent rebel, if you gave it a chance-?

    ?Not the ?R? word.? I held up a hand to stop her. ?We?ve been over this before. Don?t try to recruit me into your little revolution. It didn?t work last time, it won?t work now. I?m not for joining lost causes and throwing my life away.?

    ?Like you are now?? she retorted.

    ?Touché.? I leaned back, folding my arms on my stomach. ?Listen, Maire. I don?t tell you how to do your job. Let?s just keep these little meetings of ours strictly business, oka
  5. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 31, 1999
    Here's hoping that Ace=Wedge.

    But until we find out, I'll be keeping an eye on this story.
  6. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    I awoke and was greeted by a most unpleasant sight.

    ?Welcome back.? Tal Sayis gave me a smile full of pointy, rotting teeth. ?I?m glad to see you are well, my boy. Hope the ride over wasn?t too rough on you.?

    His breath, as usual, smelled of a compost heap, but I didn?t embarrass myself by scooting away. Even if I?d wanted to move, it was impossible due to the two thugs sitting next to me, one on each side. We were inside Sayis? long hover-limo, the three of us squished into one seat, Sayis himself on the other. The drone of the engine told me we were moving. Where, I didn?t know.

    The Devaronian was watching me intently. ?Comfortable?? Sayis asked at length.

    ?Oh, very.? I gave him a wry smile and held up my hands. A pair of metal binders hung around my wrists. ?Nice,? I said. ?You shouldn?t have.?

    ?Precautions, my dear boy,? he assured me. ?You did, after all, injure two of my messengers before they could get a hold of you.?

    ?Conversation goes more smoothly if you don?t start out by shoving a blaster into someone?s spine.?

    ?My apologies.? He shrugged languidly. ?I told them to bring you right away. The urgency of my order was clearly misinterpreted.?

    ?Clearly,? I said.

    ?You?ve gotten into trouble lately, Ace,? he said. ?Late payments are not acceptable. You should know that by now. When I give a loan, I expect it to be paid back. In full. Promptly.? He dug a cigarra out of his pocket. Holding it between his front teeth, he lit it and blew smoke into my face. ?You still owe me ten thousand credits for those ship repairs, if you haven?t forgotten.?

    ?I?ll pay it back within the month,? I said neutrally.

    ?That?s what you said *last* month,? he reminded me. ?Not enough work, neh??

    It was true. Lately jobs had been scarce. Maire?s offer had been a relief ? it was my first run in nearly two weeks. The Imperials had been cracking down on Corellia and smuggling was getting harder. And my time for paying back my loan was getting shorter.

    I kept my face stony. ?I?ll get you your money, Sayis,? I said.

    ?Of course you will. You look like a boy who has a lot of his life still ahead of him.? The loan shark leaned closer, emphasizing his last words. ?And it would be a shame if that bright future were to suddenly ? tragically ? come? to? an? end.?

    Subtlety was never Tal Sayis? strong point. ?I see.? My lack of enthusiasm earned me a hard elbow prod from the thug on my left.

    ?I want the rest of the ten thousand in a week,? the Devaronian said. ?Seven standard planet cycles. I will not settle for lateness a second time.? He settled back in his seat, evidently satisfied. ?Have we come to an understanding??

    A million comebacks sprang to mind, all of which would have probably just gotten me a few more bruises for my trouble. ?Perfectly,? I grated out instead.

    ?Excellent.? Sayis beamed and swiveled in his seat. ?Driver, our guest will get off here. ? The limo screeched to a stop. He eyed one the thugs sharing my couch as the doors on my side swung open. ?Oh, and Ira, please give our boy a reminder. So he doesn?t forget what we discussed here.?

    I turned my head in time to see Ira cock his fist back. ?Nice talking to you,? Sayis said cheerily, blowing more smoke in my face. ?Always a pleasure, m?boy.?
  7. Idiots Array

    Idiots Array Jedi Knight star 5

    Jan 3, 2000
    Wow, good start so far RL11. Good description and dialogue, but why don't you just come out and say it! IT'S WEDGE!! :D Anyway, you have a reader here. Keep up the good work, but don't neglect Talon Squad. :)
  8. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    Shh, IA! Don?t spoil it! :) Never fear, I?ll always be a loyal Talon, but I was planning on letting the cat out of the bag soon anyway. Glad you folks have liked the story so far.

    * * *

    ?How *do* you get yourself into these messes??

    Dabria clucked her tongue as she dabbed at my swelling eye with a cool cloth. ?Another fight?? she despaired. ?That?s what you get for hanging around the city streets at night.?

    ?Not exactly a fight.? I tried not to squirm. ?Look, I?m sorry I had to bother you. You don?t need to go to all this trouble. I just stopped by for some ice??

    ?Well, now that you?re here, you might as well stay. You?re so thin!? She pulled my arm and lifted me to my feet. I stood dutifully as she appraised me. I was suddenly glad I?d left my blaster outside. It would have upset her. ?You?re taller, of course,? Dabria noted. ?But thin! Nothing but skin and bones. You haven?t been eating.?

    ?Don?t have much time anymore,? I mumbled, plopping back down.

    ?More like not enough money.? She shot me a disapproving but affectionate look. ?You know you can come here anytime if you need help.?

    ?I know.?

    I sat on the edge of the bed, kicking my legs back and forth as Dabria bustled about the room. No matter how old I was, I always felt like a child around her. She?d been an old family friend, a mother figure as long as I could remember, secondary only to my real mother. She?d cleaned my cuts, consoled me, worried about my direction in life, supplied hugs and love without fail for all my nineteen years.

    ?You?re looking more like your father everyday,? she commented. She didn?t see me wince. I don?t think she realized even what she?d said until it was out in the open.

    ?Oh.? She stopped and put a hand to her mouth.

    ?That?s okay,? I said wearily. Good, sweet Dabria. Not a malicious bone in her body, and yet just seeing each other was causing us both unimaginable pain. It was not thoughtlessness that kept me away from her house in suburban Coronet (though shame did play a part sometimes), but concern. She and my mother had been like sisters. Every agonizing minute we spent with each other was a reminder of the past.

    A past that I was trying with all my power to put behind me.

    I was falling down a deep, dark hole. My life had been in a tailspin ever since that explosion all those years ago. Inevitably I?d hit bottom. I didn?t want to drag Dabria down with me.

    Evidently my brooding hadn?t been lost on her. ?You can?t go on like this,? she exploded, whirling on me. ?You weren?t meant for this, not this life of an outlaw.? Dabria put her hands on her hips. Her rosy face more flushed than normal. ?You are *not* a smuggler, W-?

    I cut her off. ?Don?t call me that anymore. As far as I?m concerned, he died three years ago.?

    She sighed impatiently. ?Fine. Ace.? Dabria had never liked the nickname. In her heart, I was always going to be the lovable little boy she?d used to watch after school when nobody else could. That little boy was innocent. His life had been a quiet world of constants: endless routine, day after day. Never any change.

    Except *that* day. When that guileless little boy had morphed into a cold, heartless killer.

    He wasn?t me anymore. And she would never be able to see that.

    I put my chin in my hands. ?What else am I supposed to do, Dabria? The money from the insurance company is almost all gone. I used the last of it to buy my freighter. I?m starting to take out loans again.? I neglected to mention Sayis and his goons.

    She waved her hands. ?Go legitimate again. You?ll do better.?

    I shook my head, closing my eyes so I didn?t have to see her hopeful expression fall. I had been legit in my first year on my own. Less than a month after I?d first started out, I?d been wallowing in debt. It had taken nearly a year of smuggling to put me back above zero.

    Free traders didn?t survive around Corellia. Smuggling and pirating were the rules of the game. She could not possibly know this, but I did. Very well, unfortunately. Dabria would have been horrified to know what the
  9. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    A short installment today.

    * * *

    ?Medical supplies, huh??

    ?Yep, that?s what the order says.? Cheeter consulted his datapad. ?Six big metal crates were deposited here earlier today. Didn?t see who brought them in, but I had a couple of my boys load ?em up for ya.? He glanced at my rapidly swelling eye. ?Looks like you had a bad night.?

    ?Thanks, Cheeter.? I gave the spaceport?s senior technician a hearty slap on the back. ?You?re a life-saver.?

    ?Don?t worry about it. Always glad to help out a buddy. So?? Cheeter?s eyes took on a sly gleam. ?Up for a couple fights in the sims before you leave? There?s been a new crowd of flight jockeys hanging around there lately, showing off. Fresh meat for you to chew up.?

    ?Mm.? I pressed an icepack against my eye. ?I don?t know. I don?t feel much like flying in the simulator today.?

    Cheeter wasn?t going to be discouraged that easily. ?C?mon, you?ve got to! The boys have been telling these new pilots about our ?Ace? for ages. Ace the Undefeated. About time you made an appearance. It?ll cheer you up. You?re always happier after some time in the simulator.?

    I couldn?t help grinning. ?So are you. You get to collect the bets you?ve won then.?

    ?That?s not the point,? he huffed.

    ?Well? I guess a bout or two can?t hurt.? I reluctantly shrugged, checking my chronometer. I was scheduled to leave port early that afternoon. It was still morning. I had time. ?I can spare a couple minutes.?

    ?Great!? He practically skipped ahead of me. ?I?ll tell ?em you?re coming.?

    I followed behind him a bit more sedately, shaking my head and smiling. Despite everything, Cheeter was right. Flying always did cheer me up. And the way my night had been, I definitely needed a pick-me-up this morning.
  10. Darth McClain

    Darth McClain Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 5, 2000
    This is great RL!
  11. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    There was a group of young men clustered around the flight simulators when Cheeter and I walked up. Two of them I recognized right away. They were regulars. They spent most of their time hanging around the spaceport, challenging pilots to dogfights in the sims and collecting money if they won (which was often). One saw me right away and gave me a wave.

    After all, I was a regular too.

    The other two I didn?t know ? they had to be the new guys Cheeter had spoken of. They seemed to be regaling the pair of regulars with a story of some extravagant (and mostly fictional) past adventure. One of them was a baby-faced man, dark-haired, handsome by human standards. He was the one currently talking, waving his hands around excitedly, his words almost tripping over each other in his hurry to get them out.

    ?And so Theron sees this guy drop in behind him and the guy?s sticking on real tight, and no matter what he does or what he tries to pull, he can?t shake him. So he yells out real loud, ?Somebody help me!? and I call back, ?Hold on, Theron!? So I swoop in and set my sights on the guy tagging Theron and BOOM! The guy doesn?t see the proton torp until its practically up his nose. Beautiful shot.?

    The second stranger tapped his friend on the shoulder. Unlike his companion, he was much heavier-set and probably the oldest of anyone present. ?Hey, you didn?t mention me! If I hadn?t saved you five minutes before, you wouldn?t have been around to make that kill!?

    Baby-Face poked him in his ample stomach. ?Who?s telling this story anyway, Piggy??

    The other reg noticed me then and hailed me. ?Hey, Ace! Come to teach these rookies a thing or two??

    I blushed. ?Just waiting for my turn in the sim.?

    The newcomers turned. Baby snorted. ?So where?s your legend? I don?t see him.?

    ?Maybe this guy knows.? The heavy man (Piggy, that was his name) looked down at me. ?Hey, you see someone named Ace around here? Pilot? About ten feet tall? With the strength of ten men and the appetite of a Wookie??

    I shot a poisonous look at the regulars. They chuckled and pretended not to see. They?d been telling their crazy stories again.

    ?This *is* Ace,? Cheeter exclaimed. He gave me a little shove forward. ?Nobody?s ever been able to beat him in the simulator, not in the year he?s been here.?

    ?Him?!! You?ve got to be kidding,? Baby snickered. He studied at me. ?Does he need a booster chair to see over the controls? Do you bottle feed him??

    I was used to being teased about my age. I looked younger than I was. ?I just turned nineteen,? I said, though no one was really listening. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the man called Piggy nod thoughtfully.

    ?He?ll show you,? Cheeter declared. ?Ace can beat anybody.?

    ?How does he reach the rudder pedals?? Baby asked loudly. ?Stilts??

    In truth, he didn?t look much older than me, and wasn?t much bigger either. ?Get him, Ace,? one of the regs said.

    Baby glanced at Cheeter and the regulars, his face showing he was still unconvinced. ?This isn?t a joke, right?? When they shook their heads, he returned his attention to me. ?Okay, if you?re all they say you are, you wouldn?t mind a friendly match? One on one. You and me.? He dug several credits from his pocket and held them out in his hand. ?With a little reward for the winner, of course.?

    ?I don?t like flying for money,? I muttered. ?Just for fun, you know??

    ?Riiiiight.? He raised an eyebrow.

    ?I?ll pay your part, Ace.? Cheeter pushed his way in between us. ?You?ve won a lot for me. It?s the least I can do.?

    By this time a bunch of techs were starting to drift over. They began putting down bets. Piggy joined them and added his own contribution to the pot. Cheeter handed me a flight helmet. Piggy tossed one to Baby. The simulators had been constructed next to each other. The empty cockpits beckoned. As Baby slid into his respective pod, he tossed me a mock salute.

    ?We?ll see whether you actually deserve that nickname of yours, Ace.?
  12. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999

    Hopefully I'll have a post up by the end of tonight, since all my other topics are moving at the pace of snails. :) Daily updates! Who woulda thought?
  13. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    My targeting brackets flickered from yellow to green and I hit the trigger as I caught a glimpse of Baby?s ship flash by my viewport. I barely burned some of the imaginary paint off his port side.

    Baby was good.

    I?d given him the privilege of choosing ships before the match had gotten underway. He?d selected Y-wings, no missiles. Not very fast, but they packed a punch if you knew what you were doing, even with just lasers. I was surprised he?d passed up X-wings ? most people were willing to make the sacrifice of firepower for speed. He?d probably trained at the Academy or received formal training. A lot of the maneuvers he pulled were standard textbook material. I didn?t fall for them ? I?d seen most of them before.

    He darted in again. We exchanged a few spats, doing nothing but slicing a little more off our shields. I snap-rolled and peeled off, checking my stats with a glance at the monitors. Shields were lower than I would have liked. Baby was a great shot ? he wasn?t trigger-happy and he rarely missed. *Excellent accuracy.* I filed that away in my brain for later. Maybe it would come in use if he ever called for a rematch. It wasn?t uncommon.

    We didn?t say anything. Baby didn?t taunt while he was flying. A point in his favor. Some of the idiots I?d faced in the past should never have been allowed to climb into a cockpit - for their own safety.

    ?He?s smarter than he looks,? I said aloud to the empty cockpit.

    An alarm shrieked and I nudged my stick. My fighter hopped, juking lasers that seemed to appear from everywhere at once.

    *How?d he get back there?*

    Somehow he?d crept up behind me. *Stupid!* I hadn?t been paying attention. I coaxed the throttle along for all it was worth, but the alarms kept wailing and Baby doggedly stuck behind me like he?d been attached with glue. I shunted some more power to my aft shields. They were almost gone. And if Baby tailed me for much longer, soon they wouldn?t be there at all. He knew it too; he had no intention of losing me.

    *Have to do something quick.* I jammed my stick forward. The Y-wing dove steeply. Had we been in real space, I would have been smashed back into my seat by the force of the turn and the controls probably would have been yanked out of my hands. But as the simulator was either too old or too cheap to simulate G-forces, I stayed exactly where I was.

    Baby was either following me too closely or was too intent in blowing me out of the sky to be as alert as he could be ? he didn?t see what I was planning until it was too late. He had to follow me into the loop. Down and around we went. For a moment or two everything was upside-down in my cockpit. Lasers were peppering my shields constantly now and accompanying alarms came with them. I ignored them. *Right? now!*

    I cut the power to the engines.

    Once again I was thankful for the lack of G-forces which, had they been present, would have undoubtedly thrown me forward in my safety harness and happily introduced my skull to the hard metal control panel. I did lurch forward slightly in my seat, though not from any inertia, but simply to watch as Baby?s Y-wing swerved wildly around me in a desperate effort to avoid a collision. Engines screaming in protest at the sudden change in course, he broke away?

    ? And settled himself comfortably right into my cross hairs.

    I smiled grimly as I squeezed the trigger. Perfect.

    The field of stars in front me died. I once again found myself sitting inside the simulator pod, dazed, blinking. Hands pounded my back and congratulations were already ringing in my ears before I could even hoist myself up.

    ?Toldja you could do it!? Cheeter was saying.

    ?Great job, Ace,? someone else said. ?You showed him.?

    I shook my head, grabbing Cheeter?s proffered hand and hauling myself out of the sim. ?If that had been real, the Y-wing?s inertia dampeners would have died and my brains would be splattered all over the controls right now.?

    I turned to see Baby conferring with his friend Piggy. They both studied me as I walked past, but made no attempts at
  14. Idiots Array

    Idiots Array Jedi Knight star 5

    Jan 3, 2000
    LOL!! Porkins! :) Great work Rogueleader. Nice description on the space fight. More? :)
  15. KnightMara

    KnightMara Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 13, 1999
    This is a great story, Rogue! Keep it up.

    LAZARO_DENMAN Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 10, 2000
    Hellfire, darlin'!

    I cannot say how grand it is to read such fine flyin'! Not every pilot can relay the workin's of a man's mind as he does the work, but you are doin' an admirable job of it.

    The history is solid, too: these heroes of the wars come alive in your capable hands. I never knew Commander Antilles as a young colt, but I have seen that shadow of sadness in his eyes, and always knew there was more to the man. Here's hopin' you'll share more of your unique insights into our Wedge!

    And no, that ain't a hint: that's gently worded *command*...

    I am also hopin' you'll do me the honour of lettin' a grizzled old vet buy you a drink in the Doom. As the sayin' goes, a man ought to make whatever gesture he's able, when there's a debt owed. And don't you worry too much, I'm a happily married man, and my wife'd make me sleep in my boots if I ever did anythin' to offend a lady.

    Thanks again, darlin', and fly straight!

    In loyal service to the New Republic, I remain,

    Wing Commander Lazaro "DL" Denman
    Javelin Squadron
    NRS Emancipator

  17. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    Thanks for replying, everybody! I really appreciate that you take the time to comment on this story. BTW, might just take you up on that drink offer, DL. :) I?ll drop by your topic later, I promise!

    * * *

    The rest of the information for my run was in the usual place, as Maire had said. As I went down the corridor to the port?s private hangars I stopped to let a beetle-like cleaning droid go by.

    The droid was always there. It had malfunctioned before I?d been born and should have been replaced long ago, but the port officials were too lazy to do anything about it. So the droid stayed, a loyal sentry, following its defective programming and cleaning the same stretch of hallway every day on schedule, searching for dust that wasn?t there anymore with its bristle-less brushes.

    As the droid spun around and passed me a second time I reached out with my boot and flipped it over on its back. There was an envelope stuck to the bottom in between the two sets of rollers.

    ?Sorry pal,? I said, tearing the envelope off. ?They?ll let you retire one of these days.?

    I righted the droid and it swept on like nothing had ever happened. I slit open the envelope and scanned the briefing as I walked, finding nothing out of the ordinary. Six crates of bacta canisters, medpacs, and other medical supplies destined for a space station in the Mid Rim (never heard of it), no questions asked, with as little interference and delays as possible. The figure at the bottom, the amount of the final payment, was impressive.

    <15,000 galactic credits for safe delivery.>

    I completed the journey back to my ship with a bounce in my step that hadn?t been there before.

    The Bucket was waiting for me in its usual berth. I gave a nearby piston an affectionate slap as I walked up the gangplank, taking in the familiar patchwork of carbon-scoring and rust and scratched paint that decorated the hull. The freighter wasn?t so sparkly and new anymore, but it had been my home for a long time, and just having a home to return to was good enough for me.

    I?d bought the little YT-2400 when my savings had still been substantial, more than two years ago. Since then, it had undergone considerable modification. The light freighter was originally meant to be handled by two crew members, but with help from Cheeter, he and I had rewired some systems so that I could comfortably handle the ship by myself. The Bucket had reinforced bulkheads and considerable shields, with a double laser cannon turret to discourage unwanted attention. To me, it was beautiful.

    ?That ship?s the closest thing to a girl you?ll ever have,? Cheeter had said once as we stood, covered in grease from head to toe, admiring our masterpiece. ?I swear, you have a damn love affair with that rust bucket.?

    I?d called him a genius and we christened my freighter the Rust Bucket right there on the spot.

    I wandered around the ship, making a brief stop in the refresher to check on my eye (swollen but functioning ? improving) and in the galley to find something to eat (stale nutrition bars ? unappetizing), and eventually found myself in the hold, looking over my cargo. Cheeter had been accurate in his report. I ran my eye over the six metal boxes. Unmarked. Nondescript. Unmemorable.

    The cargo looked sealed, but as I ran my hand along the nearest one, the lid shifted. No one had bothered to lock the boxes, just put the tops on. I gave the lid a push and it slid off completely. I peered inside the crate.

    Nothing. There was nothing inside.

    Fighting the sinking feeling in my stomach, I checked the other boxes, one after another. All were unlocked, and all were completely empty. Nothing more than props. *But for what?* I took a step backwards, cursing hotly under my breath, and bumped into something behind me. A heartbeat later, a muscled arm snaked around my neck like a noose, dragging my head back and thoroughly convincing me that something was very, very wrong.

    ?Damn, he?s back early,? someone swore above me. ?That chief tech said he would keep him busy in the simulator room as lo

    LAZARO_DENMAN Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 10, 2000
    Blast it, darlin', you know how to keep a man on tenterhooks!

    Eagerly awaitin' the next installment, and you better watch it or you're like to earn yourself a reputation, teasin' a man like that!

    Seriously, though, this tale's readin' better all the time, I'm enjoyin' myself immensely. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

    Thanks as well for droppin' by the Doom: it's always rewardin' to be drinkin' in the company of a lovely young pilot.

    Yours, in Service,

  19. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    Starting tomorrow, I'll be gone for a week on vacation, so this won't be getting any story segments for a while after today. Maybe I can get up a post or two now... here's a quickie while I type up a much longer one.

    * * *

    For the second time in twenty-four hours I swam back from unconsciousness. For a minute or so I lay where I was, completely disoriented, trying to remember what had happened to make me that way. My head was throbbing. I put a hand to my temple, pushing it through my hair before letting it slide down my neck.

    My neck? that hurt too.

    Everything came back in a flash. Crates with holes, the arm, the needle? Someone was onboard my ship!

    Whoever they were, they hadn?t tied me up, which was a step up from Sayis, but that wasn?t much. I was lying on something soft. Upon further investigation, I found I?d been deposited onto a familiar hard mattress, half-tangled in rumpled hand-sewn blankets. I was on my bunk inside the Bucket?s sleeping cabin.

    I slowly sat up and stood. The headache was subsiding. Whatever drug they?d put into me, it was wearing off quickly. I checked the chronometer on the wall. I hadn?t been out long ? five minutes at most.

    The first thing I tried was the door; it had been locked from the outside. Through the tiny porthole I peered out into the hall, but saw no one. *No guard, at least.* I looked around the room for anything I could possibly use to escape. No luck there either. The cabin held nothing but the few sentimental items I?d kept over the years. Some book-chips. Datacards. Spare clothes. A hologram of my family on a shelf near the ceiling.

    The ceiling. My eyes followed the contours of the room until they came to the ventilation grate directly above the bed. I mentally calculated the distance. The cabin was small. Standing on the bed, I could nearly touch the ceiling anyway. If I could get the grate down and somehow get a boost up for a few more inches?

    One of my less-favorite datacards had the thin edge needed to undo the screws on the grate. Using the bunk?s worn mattress to gain my precious extra inches of altitude (I hoped the springs would recover), I was able to clamber up into the ventilation shaft. Lying on my belly, the top of my head nearly scraping the ceiling, I started crawling forward on elbows and knees. The ventilation system extended the length of the entire ship. I smiled grimly.

    It was time to get my ship back.
  20. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    There were two of them in the cockpit, one in my place in the pilot?s chair, the other in the un-coveted co-pilot?s seat. They were busy pushing buttons and pulling levers. The modifications made to the Bucket had rearranged the controls around considerably to make things easier for a single person to operate everything. From their voices, I could hear the hijackers were frustrated. They were having trouble adjusting.

    I didn?t feel sorry for them.

    The lights were turned down low and their backs were to me as I padded into the room. Neither of them knew I was there immediately. Their first clue was when the man in the co-pilot?s seat turned around and my fist smashed into his face. As he reeled away, I snatched his blaster from its holster and brought it to bear on his companion.

    I hardly needed to. Suddenly he was right there in front of me. The barrel of the blaster embedded itself in his forehead. I motioned for him to put up his hands. ?I insist,? I said, ?for the sake of your brains.?

    ?No, *I* insist,? he replied, ?for the sake of your guts.?

    I glanced down at his previously unseen vibroknife, its tip pressing gently into my stomach through my shirt, and wondered how he?d gotten it out so fast. I studied him. Even up close, the hijacker?s face was hard to see in the dark. ?Lights, full!? All the lighting in the cockpit flared back to life. I blinked as the intruder?s mysterious features reverted back to a familiar visage.

    ?Peekaboo,? Baby-Face said, grinning.

    ?People have been bitter before when I beat them in the simulator,? I told him, ?but this is the first time anybody?s drugged me and tried to take my ship.?

    ?I said it was nothing personal.?

    ?Forgive me if I find assault just slightly personal.?

    Baby sighed and rolled his eyes, but didn?t respond. ?Fine mess you?ve gotten us into,? he said instead to Piggy, who was sitting on the floor and rubbing his jaw. ?You were a big help. What do you have to say for yourself??

    ?Ow,? Piggy said.

    ?You always say that.?

    ?Would you guys quit it?? a new voice demanded. There was a woman standing in the cockpit doorway behind us, taking in the scene with an unhappy frown. ?Put down the gun and the knife. We don?t want anyone dead here, even though you?ve managed to completely botch this up. How you two have been able to survive this long is beyond me.? The last parts were aimed at Baby and Piggy.

    ?Our stunning good looks?? Baby suggested helpfully.

    ?Maire!? I blurted. ?What are you doing here??

    My rebel contact looked sadly at me from the door. ?I?m sorry to have dragged you into all of this, Ace. I swear, we were going to compensate you for everything. The Rebellion isn?t like the Empire. We repay people for whatever we take.?

    She seemed genuinely apologetic, but the last thought on my mind then was forgiveness. The implications of what she and her friends had nearly done slammed into me like a block of duracrete. ?So that whole medical supply deal was just a sham,? I said quietly. ?Really all you wanted was to help your friends steal my ship.?

    ?We didn?t have a choice!? She flinched at my cold tone. ?We don?t have much time left. The Imperials are hot on our tail. I was going to tell Wes and Piggy to move you somewhere safe once we discovered you in the hold, but then our window was getting smaller and smaller and we had to lock you in the cabin instead. Sorry for knocking you out like that, but I knew you wouldn?t go along with the plan. You?re not part of the Alliance. You were a security risk.?

    ?You were going to steal my ship,? I repeated, ?and leave me here for the nek dogs to chew up.?

    Maire looked like I?d slapped her. ?Ace,? she pleaded. ?Please understand??

    ?We?d all love to stick around and chat,? Baby interrupted, ?but we?ve got trouble.? He was standing at the front viewport. I brushed past Maire and joined him there. Sure enough, there was a group of white-armored figures streaming through the doorway of the Bucket?s private hangar. ?Stormies.?

    I saw an Imperial with orange shoulder pads ? the capta
  21. Idiots Array

    Idiots Array Jedi Knight star 5

    Jan 3, 2000
    Great story Rogueleader. Hope you have fun on vacation. (is it possible to have fun witout a computer?? :) Anyway, go forth and corrupt the rest of your family to the Fort Club.
  22. Idiots Array

    Idiots Array Jedi Knight star 5

    Jan 3, 2000
    Look! At the top of the Forum!!

    It's a bird!

    It's a plane!!

    No, It's the Pilot Story!!!
  23. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    Thanks for trying to keep this topic out of the basement, IA. I'm posting from my cousin's comp right now. But I'll start putting up story sections again as soon as I get back home next week.
  24. Idiots Array

    Idiots Array Jedi Knight star 5

    Jan 3, 2000
    To the top!!
  25. RogueLead11

    RogueLead11 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 19, 1999
    I'm back! :) *Listens to the crickets* Well... um, here's the next part. It's quite long, to make up for what I missed over my vacation.

    * * *

    ?The ladder to the gun turret is down the hall, to the left,? I said to Baby as I hurriedly pushed buttons on the control panel. ?After your fantastic targeting back in the simulator, I hope I don?t need to tell you how to work it.?

    ?I?ll manage,? he said, disappearing out the door.

    ?You sit here,? I pointed at Piggy and then to the co-pilot?s seat. ?You can operate one of the guns from the cockpit. Keep an eye on our shields. If they get in the red or something falls off the ship or anything that involves our imminent death occurs, notify me please.?

    ?Would screaming count as notifying?? he asked.

    ?You?ve got the idea.? I cracked a smile. ?Where were you planning to go once you got off Corellia??

    Maire was the one that answered. ?Dantooine,? she said softly. ?But we can?t go there directly. We need to make several stops on the way to throw off any pursuit. Imperials are notorious for using homing beacons to locate our hidden bases.?

    ?Fine,? I said. I jabbed a finger to a set of buttons on the console. ?Program that into the navicomputer and get us our hyperspace coordinates.?

    As I spoke, lights started to come up across the board and the soothing hum of the Bucket?s engines filled the cockpit. Outside the viewport, I saw the stormtroopers take some hurried steps away from the freighter, raising their blasters. A few of their shots bounced ineffectively off the Bucket?s hull. The Imp with the orange shoulder pads withdrew a comlink from his belt and said a few words into it.

    The Bucket?s gun turret spat and red lasers lanced scattered the stormies. Taking advantage of Baby?s distraction, I activated the repulsorlifts. I was glad the Imps hadn?t thought of shutting the bay doors. As soon as we were clear of the hangar, I turned the Bucket?s nose toward the stars and poured on the throttle.

    As we climbed, Piggy yelled ?whoa!? and I heard a lot of scraping and banging and cursing behind me, followed by a tremendous CRASH. A few seconds later the battered pilot staggered his way back to the front. He resituated himself in his seat and without a word, went serenely back to his instruments.

    ?Oh,? I said belatedly. ?I guess you should strap in.?

    ?What an *excellent* suggestion!? he exclaimed, throwing up his hands. ?Why yes, I think I will.?

    The last of the mottled blue and gray of Corellian sky fell away and open space sprawled out before us. I hunched over the steering yoke, scanning the immediate area, and Piggy did the same; however, it was Maire who spied the Imperials? reinforcements first. ?There.? She pointed to the sensors and the little red blips speeding toward us. ?TIE fighters. Twelve of them.?

    ?And that.? Piggy pointed out another bigger blip lingering behind the others. His expression didn?t change, but a concerned note crept into his voice. ?It?s an Imp customs ship. A Rendili light corvette.?

    ?Fantastic,? I growled. ?You guys have an impressive host of fans.? I switched to the com frequency of the gun turret, hoping Baby had taken the time to don the pair of headphones that linked him to the cockpit. ?You awake back there??

    The rebel answered by opening fire on the TIEs as they screamed into range. A storm of green lasers sizzled toward us and I threw the Bucket into an upward corkscrew, randomly twitching the yoke right or left to present a harder target. Some of the first modifications made to the Bucket had been to the engine. Though not quite as agile as a TIE or an X-wing, my YT-2400 could match a snubfighter for speed and I handled it like one.

    A TIE fighter off to our port side exploded and there was a triumphant ?Ha!? from Baby. Piggy was at work on the cockpit guns. One of his shots clipped a TIE that swooped in too close. It collided with one of its fellows and both unfortunate fighters burst into flame.

    ?The Imp corvette?s hailing us,? Maire said tightly.

    ?How long until we can we make the jump to hyp
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