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Saga - OT REBEL TRANSPORT- "Fates at Junction" (OCs, short story) COMPLETED

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Kurisan, Mar 11, 2017.

  1. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Summary: Set just after the Battle of Yavin. Rebels v Imperials v Pirates. Original characters. Action/adventure short story.


    - STAR WARS -
    REBEL TRANSPORT

    "Fates at Junction"


    [​IMG]



    Chapter 1

    “DON’T MOVE OR I’LL SHOOT,” said Cal Hawke, peering through the starlit gloom at the intruder, blaster pistol wavering in his grip. The gruff pilot blinked several times to make sure he was not imagining things in the hot night. That had been one blue-ale too many. Distant voices and the beat of a sync band still thrummed from the cantina across the other side of the landing plain.

    No, there was definitely someone there, crouched beneath the access ladder to Soley’s transport, a tool of some sort in one hand. It was just a skinny teenager, or not human. The head looked a little large and round for a human.

    “Put that down and back up,” said Cal. The stranger threw up one hand. He snuffled. It sounded like snuffling.

    “Uh-huh, it is no problem. I just made a mistake.”

    The mumbling reminded Cal of Sullustans. Then he spotted the large round eyes and the distinctive jowls. Definitely Sullustan. He had not dropped the tool. Cal identified the outline of a holdout blaster pistol at his hip.

    “You are not an Imperial are you, friend?” said the mouselike alien.

    “Doesn’t matter. I know the guy who runs this rig.”

    The Sullustan took a step toward Cal. “Listen to me. It is not what you are thinking. The Imperials are taking over all the mining operations…”

    “I noticed. New boss, same old kriff,” said Cal, still aiming his blaster.

    “No, this is different. They are doing something bad. I am not stealing anything… and we all have to do something – we stick together, is it not right?”

    “Look, pal, that’s none of my business. You some kind of rebel?”

    The scoundrel froze for a long moment. Then he gulped. “Uh-huh, of course not. Someone is just paying me to know where this ship is going. Friend, what the Empire is doing here will be bad news for everyone…”

    “Hey, you!” barked a harsh voice through a helmet pickup. Cal spun to see four stormtroopers in full white battle armour. Blasters aimed at both him and the Sullustan.

    “Drop your weapons. What is going on here?”

    Cal instantly sobered up and complied. He knew better than to mess with the Empire. The troopers marched up and surrounded them. The Sullustan gave Cal a searching look then let his small pistol drop to the sand. Cal noticed the tool had completely disappeared.

    “Uh-huh, I am just making friend…” said the Sullustan. Without warning a trooper cracked the short alien across the jaw with the butt of his rifle. The Sullustan gasped and crumpled. Cal flinched but resisted the urge to do anything more.

    “Is that right?” a sergeant with an orange shoulder pad challenged Cal.

    “I…” Cal saw no need to get involved in this business, “I thought I knew him.”

    One of the troopers consulted a datapad as two others inspected the transport. The leader fixed Cal with an inhuman stare through his military helmet. Cal shifted but did not falter.

    “What’s your business in Junction?” barked the Imperial.

    “Starminer pilot. Bring in ore from the belt… for exporters.”

    “Asteroid dodger, huh?” said the stormtrooper with contempt. “You like to live dangerously?”

    “Look, Sir; a Sullustan is on the list,” said the trooper with the datapad.

    “And this is one of the contracted transports,” said another.

    “For the live run?” said the leader.

    “Yes, Sir.”

    “Alright, that’s it. We’re taking him in.” The troopers grabbed the Sullustan, who was still moaning from his blow, and shackled his hands. The sergeant rounded on Cal.

    “What did he say to you?”

    Cal scratched at his stubble, then made a decision.

    “Not much. I asked his name… turns out he’s not my guy.”

    A trooper whacked the Sullustan in the back with the butt of his rifle and he yelped. Cal winced and said, “Is that really necessary?”

    The leader took a step toward Cal and poked him in the chest. Cal matched the sergeant for height and was probably broader in the shoulders. A harsh life working the asteroid fields by day and brawling in city cantinas at night had toughened him well for a fight, but Cal did not retaliate.

    “That’s right,” hissed the Imperial. “This is none of your business. Be a good citizen and just walk away.”

    Cal walked away. He found his own rig, flopped onto his smelly bunk in the back, and tried to get some sleep


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    Last edited: May 13, 2020
  2. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 2


    “YOU GOTTA DO SOMETHING ‘BOUT THIS!” said the grey, furry hulk.

    Waiting in line at Imperial Administration Center, Cal glanced across. The towering alien was a Gigoran, and he had stormed over to a station closed for maintenance. An Imperial worker in dark utility uniform looked up.

    “I’m sorry, Sir. You’ll have to join that queue. I’m just a computer technician.”

    Cal looked again. The technician was a she, and she had a pretty voice.

    “I waited long enough! Tell me why my ship’s impounded!” yelled the Gigoran. His growling voice was translated through the vox-mask he wore.

    Cal grinned at his friend. “What’s up, Stunno?”

    Stunno worked on orbital tugs bringing in cargo runs to and from the asteroid belt mines, and hung out with Cal at the Junction cantinas in between. He nodded to Cal then glowered at the Imperial. The technician sighed, checked the ID card Stunno had slammed down, and punched some keys.

    “Oh,” she said. “You need to renew your licence.”

    “Since when?” Stunno leaned over the girl. “I trade independently, just like most the riggers.”

    “Since the Empire took over operation of the ABM Corporation,” announced a reedy voice. Cal switched his attention to the black-uniformed officer that had marched behind the girl. Stiff and sneering, just like all of them, Cal decided.

    The officer continued, “It is a requirement that all ships either coming or going within the ABM docks-halo must re-register for Imperial approval.”

    “I can’t afford that register fee!” said Stunno. “I’m scratching together a living as it is.”

    “That is not my concern. This is the new rule,” said the officer.

    “So how come the Renston teamsters not gotta register? You playing favourites with the humies, eh?”

    The officer glared at the alien. “Do I need to call security?”

    Cal’s turn in his queue arrived. “Next!” called the bored administrator. Cal offered his credit chip for the previous day’s sales. The grey-suited man tapped keys and handed back notes in local currency.

    “That’s all?” said Cal.

    “That’s the rate,” barked the Imperial. “Next!”

    “Sir, perhaps if a sponsor could verify the gentleman’s credentials…” suggested the technician in the next booth. Now he was closer, Cal saw she had a pretty face, too, with tan skin and dark hair.

    “Yeah! Let’s do that.” Stunno glanced round and saw Cal. “Hey, you know me, right?”

    Cal cracked into a laugh. “Too well… Stunno’s solid ore, for sure.”

    The officer gave the girl a murderous stare and then peered at Cal.

    Cal became serious. “Yeah, I know him. Stunno.”

    “How nice,” the officer grimaced. “And are you willing to offer up registration fee and take ownership of this… thing’s… trading craft?”

    Cal held up his hands. “Well, hold on there…”

    The Gigoran spun back to the officer. “Why he gotta own my ship? This ain’t fair! You just making up new rules!”

    The girl looked down and stared at her lap. The officer snapped gloved fingers and stormtroopers appeared from somewhere.

    “What you doing? I done nothing!” said Stunno as the soldiers closed.

    The officer peered at Cal, as if waiting for a reaction. The girl looked up too, and Cal thought she looked pained, as if she wanted him to do something. He took a deep breath.

    “Put your hands up,” a trooper barked at Stunno. Another approached with manacles.

    “But he didn’t do anything…” said Cal.

    The officer glared at him. “This is not your business, citizen. Just walk away.”

    Stunno roared and threw a punch. A stormtrooper flew backwards. Then blaster rifles spat red beams and the strapping hauler collapsed into a pile. The technician jumped from her seat and covered her mouth with a hand, eyes wide. Cal glanced around. Everyone watching in the admin center seemed to have frozen into statues.

    “He’s out,” reported a soldier. “Take him to the jailhouse.”

    Cal took a step towards the troopers surrounding the downed Gigoran. The officer intercepted him and fixed him with watery grey eyes.

    Just walk away…” he warned through gritted teeth.

    Cal turned and walked away. He took his coins and wandered back into the dry heat of Junction town, murmuring to himself. “Not my business.”


    .​
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  3. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 3


    “THEY ARE SCUM. Never give them any mercy,” said Lieutenant Cripps. “Do I make myself clear, Technician Tamara? I will hear no more suggestions like that from you.”

    “Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir,” Keia Tamara nodded, staring at her hands.

    “Then get back to work.” Cripps whirled and marched away.

    That had been five hours ago. Since then, something inside the young computer expert had hatched, and grown, and insisted, until she just had to take action.

    “Now or never…” Keia whispered and bit her lip, staring at the screen. The petite technician’s hand hovered over the com-station keyboard, the “execute order?” message waiting patiently before her. She glanced over her shoulder again, making sure no-one in the computing office was observing her. She took a deep breath and hit the confirm key.

    Data pulsed as the complex algorithms she had designed went through their ordered routines. It was over in a few moments. She exited the spare cubicle and hurried to her own work-station, buzzing with excitement. Back in her own seat, she entered her identi-code and queried the account. There it was; the sudden block of credits that weren’t there before. She tried the standard account-transfer trace, then the advanced key-line query. Nothing could explain where the bonus had come from, or that it had ever been otherwise. Licence status had switched to green “approved”. It worked! she thought, punching the air in celebration.

    He would never know what happened. He would just go to a station as normal and find his licence – and life – back in order. Keia was not sure why she had just committed this act. Was it because he reminded her of Treny?

    A thought came to her and she accessed the Imperial Command accounts from which she had diverted the funds. She tried the same trace checks, with the same results. No-one would be able to see how it happened. She gazed longingly at the remaining mountain of credits – a mere fraction of a percentage was gone. She had been unable to create credits out of thin air, but this way they surely would not be missed. The tiniest of interest accruements was just slightly out from the continuously readjusted base rates, and the rounding programs took care of the rest.

    Yes. It works all right, she decided with a grin. And I can do it again and again, help out all those who need it. Patience. I’ll wait before the next one. No hurry. I’ve got all the time in the galaxy. They’ll never come for me…

    * * *​

    THEY CAME FOR HER THAT NIGHT. One moment she was sound asleep. The next, blinding lights and harsh voices shattered the silence in her tiny apartment in Junction’s New Sector. Stormtroopers dragged her out of bed. Armoured hands bound her wrists behind her back, then she was hauled off and thrown into the back of a cage on a transporter. As she was carried off into the night, confused and terrified, Keia could only give thanks that she had fallen asleep in her work-clothes.

    The jailhouse was chaos. Originally a small crossing-point town where riggers congregated before their extra-orbital runs, Keia witnessed firsthand how Imperial takeover had changed Junction. Stormtroopers hauled all manner of shrieking species through the foyer, not even bothering with the formalities of booking them in or listing their crimes.

    Cripps waited before the heavy portal to the cells, his black trench coat spotless. He leered as the soldiers dragged Keia towards him. She opened her mouth to speak but he slapped her across the face with a gloved hand.

    “Insolence and stupidity, Tamara. You would never have made a good Imperial. Now I have to spend my time filing a report on you.”

    “Why… how… ?”

    “I admit I don’t know exactly what you did to the systems, Tamara, but you didn’t account for the cameras. Yes, I see everything. Did you not think I would be watching you after your little outburst with the scum?"

    “Sir,” said a stormtrooper. “The cells are packed full – there’s no separate space for female prisoners.”

    Cripps grinned. “Good, good. Throw her in with the drunks and the rest.”

    “Wait, no… I’m in Imperial uniform… they won’t like me…” said Keia. Cripps waved her away and the stormtroopers dragged her to the cells. A cacophony of cat whistles and jeers assailed the slender girl’s ears. She could not bring herself to look at the howling mob pressing on the bars either side of her. A series of sliding bolts and clangs and then she was thrust into a cell. The door slammed shut behind her. The troopers disappeared.

    An ominous silence fell then. Keia stared after the stormtroopers, frozen with terror and unable to bring herself to turn around and face her fellow inmates.

    A deep voice chuckled then said, “Ain’t fate a bitch?”






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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  4. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 4


    THE GIGORAN’S COLUMNAR PHYSIQUE LOOMED OVER KEIA. The waifish technician flattened herself against the bars, as if hoping she could melt through them to safety. She remembered his violent fury back at the administration bunker. The overcrowded cell stank of sweat, alcohol, and testosterone.

    “Now then, fancy someone like you ending up ‘ere,” chuckled the giant. He stepped forward, invading her personal space. Keia shrank and trembled. Other prisoners were making noises. She heard the word Imperial muttered several times.

    “I’m just a technician. Please don’t hurt me.”

    “What the kriff did you do to get in ‘ere?” he laughed. Keia remembered he was called Stunno. Fear focused her, and a beam of light shone in the darkness of panic shrouding her mind.

    She said, “Stunno, I hacked the system so that your licence was approved.”

    Stunno cocked his head to one side at that. “Now why would you wanna do a thing like that?”

    “When I was in school, on Coruscant – I mean Center – my friend was Gigoran… before the Separation Laws came in. She was called Treny.”

    “Treny?”

    Stunno rubbed his hairy chin. Keia prayed he would believe her. Other prisoners grumbled. A crater-faced Klaatu said, “Hurry up or get out the way, eh? We all gonna have a go at this Imperial bitch, heh heh.”

    A Weequay reached for her. “Come ‘ere me pretty…”

    Stunno shoved questing hands away and whirled. “No-one touches her."

    The thugs complained. The Klaatu challenged, “Who put you in charge, eh?”

    I did,” said Stunno. “You gotta problem with that?”

    “Are yer out of yer kriffin mind? Imperials threw all of us in ‘ere!” complained the Weequay.

    The Klaatu ran out of patience. He tried to barge past Stunno. The burly Gigoran held his ground and they locked and wrestled. The Weequay lunged round at Keia. She screamed and kicked. Her boot connected with something soft in his trousers and the ruffian crumpled, groaning.

    Violence erupted. Shouts. Punches. Grabs. Bodies pressing.

    Keia, driven by instinct for self-preservation, fought like a cornered nexu, kicking, scratching for eyes, even biting one hand. She was dimly aware of Stunno nearby, hurling bodies around like a wampa. They ended up back to back as the baying mob surrounded them.

    Alarms screeched. Keia did not notice them until the fighting paused. With preternatural coordination, the crowd suddenly dispersed, leaving Keia and Stunno surrounded by unconscious or groaning bodies. She found out why a moment later. Stormtroopers with stun batons raided the cell. Several attacked Stunno. One whacked Keia across her kidneys. Pain exploded and she fell to her knees. Then they fired the electro-stuns and Keia groaned and writhed as agony overcame her. The next thing she knew the soldiers were dragging her by the wrists through a corridor.

    “There’s no space,” muttered one. “Even the solitary cells are full.”

    “In here,” said another, halting and indicating a solid door. Keia saw four of the white-armoured shock troopers were struggling with Stunno’s bulk.

    “That’s for political prisoners. The special ones, waiting for… you know…”

    Keia felt a chill at hearing even a stormtrooper lower his voice in fear.

    “It’ll have to do. She’s a traitor anyway.”

    A trooper keyed the code panel at the side of the blast door and it rose to reveal a grey cell. They manhandled her in and Keia was still too weak from the shock-baton to resist. They dumped Stunno in after her. The door slammed down.

    She tended to the groaning Gigoran, feeling useless. He winced every time she touched one of his electro burns.

    “I am not having a good day,” he grumbled.

    After a few moments, Keia jerked to her feet when she realised there was another being in the corner. Big round eyes fixed on her from a pale, rodent face with distinctive jowls.

    “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know this was your cell…”

    Keia felt like an idiot an instant after she said that. Stunno propped himself up on elbows and peered at the silent watcher.

    “Sullustan, huh?” said Stunno. “What you in for?”

    The large eyes blinked, but he did not answer, only shifting on the bench. Stunno exchanged glances with Keia, then looked back at the shifty Sullustan.

    “Suit yourself. But don’t worry ‘bout her. She ain’t no real Imperial.”

    “You must be a pretty special to get put in here, uh-huh,” their mysterious companion finally said.

    The mumbling tone sounded almost like a chuckle to Keia, but she could not mistake the haunted look in his eyes. He was clearly terrified, of something.

    “This is a mistake,” said Keia. “I’m just a technician.”

    “Me, too,” said the Sullustan. “I did not steal anything.”

    “Right,” said Stunno. “So I guess I’m the only one who belongs here? Tell me another one…”

    The Sullustan jumped from his seat and began pacing back and forth.

    “We have to do something before Torrment comes!”

    Keia’s heart skipped a beat and a cold dread slipped down her back like a sliver of ice. “Torrment is coming here?”

    “That is what they said,” said the Sullustan. “I am no rebel! We must leave here before he comes!”


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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  5. divapilot

    divapilot Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Very cool story! I like how you have such diversity represented with the "rebel" characters (even if they aren't officially rebels). Cal has s a kind of Han Solo- just doing his job, trying to stay clear of trouble. Keia seems very kind hearted. I hope her trick to get Stormy's ship back will pay off as a means for their escape. The idea that the Imperials have arrested so many that the jails are overcrowded is kind of chilling.

    Now I wonder how Cal will get wrapped up in it all.

    Nice story!
     
    Kurisan likes this.
  6. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Huzzah! My rebels get their first commenter. And it's not just a pilot, it's divapilot !:)

    Thanks for looking in and the kind comments. It took me a while to get these four right, but finally I feel like this series is now taking off, literally, lol.
     
  7. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 5


    “WHO, OR WHAT, IS TORRMENT?” Stunno looked from one prisoner to the other.

    “He’s in charge of the whole Imperial operation on Junction!” said Keia. “You should see him – he’s got this cybernetic eye, like a droid, and he does not treat people well. He… well there are rumours…”

    She slumped onto a bench and held her head in her hands. “How did this happen to me?”

    Stunno eased down next to her. “If it’s true what you said – ‘bout my licence, I guess that woulda done it. Why did you do that?”

    Keia shrugged. “My mother always said we should try to help others. She said… all that evil needs to flourish is for good people to walk away and do nothing.”

    Stunno tugged on her uniform sleeve. “So you joined the Empire?”

    Keia flushed with embarrassment. “Mother again. It was just me and her at the end. My father died when I was a baby, after my family was repatriated from Scarif. My brother left for a swoop gang or something. We weren’t so rich. She was desperate for me to make it – so I promised; study hard, go to the academy, get a good job. But now I’ve thrown it all away…”

    The Sullustan studied a section of wall near the doorway. Stunno and Keia watched him in silence for some moments. Then he stepped back and clapped his hands.

    “Aha.”

    The mousey alien had conjured a micro omnitool from somewhere and prized away a section of the armoured wall plating.

    “What are you doing?” Keia sprang to her feet. “You’ll get us all in trouble!”

    He whirled and snuffled. “OK, please listen. I need to get out of here – before Torrment is coming. I need to return important information to the Rebel Alliance.

    Keia’s eyes widened. Stunno huffed. “Huh, so actually I’m the only one who really hasn’t done anything here!"

    The Sullustan stepped towards them. “It is just a job, I get information for money, yes? But this person – he is saying bad things will come with Empire control. Do you come with me? My name is Swyve. Nim Swyve.”

    He held out a hand.

    Keia recoiled. “We can’t break out. We’ll get into real trouble!”

    Nim said, “Uh-huh, I do not wish to say bad news, but you are already in real trouble. I need someone knowing computer circuits to look at this…”

    Stunno rose to his feet and peered down at Keia. “The little man ‘ere tells it right. We better make a bust for it.” He turned to Nim. “I’m Stunno. I’m done with Junction – it’s been nothing but trouble since the Empire took over.”

    Nim looked up at Stunno. “You can fly starships?”

    Stunno chuckled. “I’m a cargo hauler. Been flying all my life."

    “I am thinking we need to leave this planet.”

    He turned to Keia, but she quailed. “I can’t join a rebellion! I’m just a technician!”

    “Please look just at this,” said Nim. “You do not need to do anything.”

    Keia sighed and took a look. “Well, yes… that circuit will feed the locking mechanism. This line will bypass… hmmm…”

    Stunno traded a wink with Nim and whispered, “She’s just a techie, huh?”

    “Well… I do like to know what these look like, so I know how the input loops work when powered,” she muttered, now completely engrossed in her subject. “Give me that tool, will you?”

    “It is yours,” said Nim, handing it over. Keia kept on studying. Stunno began singing under his breath a popular sync track making the rounds on the holonet.

    Fate came knocking and I opened the door… Fate came knocking and I looked back no more…

    With a few strokes, Keia set sparks leaping from the exposed circuit board in the wall. The heavy cell portal swung open. She grinned at the others. “It worked!”

    Nim darted for the exit and peered around the corner. Stunno moved towards Keia. “Well done, little lady. This’s where we part company, unless…”

    Keia bit her lip. She had never done anything like this in her life before. And yet, she realised; yes she had: That little act of helping Stunno. Was that not already a rebellion? Had she already chosen this fate, or had it chosen her? She jumped as she heard a voice bark from somewhere nearby outside the cell.

    “Cell door open!” The electronic hiss betrayed that it had come from a helmet’s com pickup. Stormtroopers. The voice again, “Set to kill…"

    Stunno roared into action, charging from the cell and diving into the astonished Imperial soldiers just as they appeared around the corner. Nim scampered behind the Gigoran. Keia froze. One stormtrooper slumped against the far wall, unconscious, but the other fought back, clutching his blaster as Stunno fought to wrestle it away. A blast ricocheted down the passage. An alarm screamed its surprise, and others quickly joined it. Another blast and then a groan from the soldier. Stunno stepped away.

    Keia gasped. “You… you killed him…"

    Nim picked up the blaster of the dead Imperial. He looked at Keia and Stunno as alarms yelled throughout the jailhouse.

    “Now or never: You are coming or not?”




    .​
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  8. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    I like these guys. But then I do have a soft spot for underdogs. Hope they make it okay.
     
    Kurisan likes this.
  9. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 6

    “IT IS THIS WAY!” said Nim, pointing with his pilfered blaster. Stunno grabbed the other rifle from the unconscious trooper, and promptly set off in the other direction. Keia glanced from one to the other as sirens screamed along the corridor.

    Nim said. “Where are you going? The exit is this way.”

    The burly Gigoran looked back. “Cells’re this way.”

    Nim slapped a hand to his face in frustration. “So?”

    “There’re a lot of innocent riggers in there… thrown in by the Empire.”

    Nim said. “Uh-huh, there is not time for this. I am sorry, but we have to think of ourselves now…”

    “I’m going this way,” Stunno said, and strode away.

    Nim looked at Keia. She was still standing, frozen.

    Nim grimaced. “Uh, then we are going that way too. Let us go!”

    He grabbed her arm and they scrambled after Stunno. They found the cells in an uproar. Prisoners banged on bars and yelled, competing with the sirens. Stunno shouted a warning then fired several blasts into the locking mechanism. The barred gates sprang open.

    Keia tensed, spotting the Klaatu and Weequay that had assaulted her before. Now they ignored her, streaming away with the tide of escaping prisoners.

    “See?” Stunno yelled over the din at Nim, “Distraction.”

    “It is good thinking. Now we can leave?” the Sullustan pleaded.

    They moved with the flow, Stunno grabbing Keia by the wrist as the crowd surged along the corridors towards the foyer. Keia heard blaster rifles firing before she saw them. As soon as the stampede reached the foyer, mayhem broke loose. Prisoners dived for cover or rushed at the line of stormtroopers.

    Stunno, Nim and Keia skirted the edge of the foyer, hoping to avoid detection. The riot could not be contained. The line of Imperial soldiers was overwhelmed and the tide of escapees spilled out onto the streets of Junction. Keia avoided looking at the bodies of prisoners and troopers that lay trampled by the rush. Stunno and Nim led her into the hot desert night, scampering down the twisting streets of the shantytown.

    * * *​

    THEY MADE IT AS FAR AS THE NEXT BLOCK. They turned down a narrow passage between corrugated sheds when the dreaded command barked at them from above.

    “Halt! Halt or we shoot.”

    From above, a spotlight pinned them as a dark wedge descended. The security speeder floated down, packed with stormtroopers. Four of the soldiers leapt and surrounded the three escapees. The repulsorlift craft ascended again and swept its beam over the ugly structures of Junction.

    A stormtrooper shouted at them, “Throw down your weapons!”

    Stunno and Nim exchanged a long look. Keia trembled. The expressionless faces of the stormtrooper helmets sent chills of terror down her spine. She had never known what it was like to be this side of Imperial law.

    “Comply now or we shoot!” shouted the voice. Keia doubted they would be given another chance. Stunno and Nim agreed, dropping their stolen blasters.

    “Some problem here?” said a new voice, and two troopers snapped round to face its direction. Keia peered. A silhouette emerged from shadows at the end of the passage. It was a rugged human male in tough spacer’s fatigues. He had a laconic expression across his face. Keia noticed he had intense blue eyes.

    “Get lost, citizen. This is none of your business,” said a trooper.

    “I think I know these guys,” said the stranger.

    “They are fugitives from Imperial justice! Back off!”

    The stranger backed off, hands raised. “My mistake.”

    “That’s right citizen, just walk away…”

    The stormtroopers all returned their focus – and weapons – to Stunno and Nim, and standing between the two aliens, Keia in her Empire technician’s uniform.

    “Call the Commander. Tell him we got his special ones,” said one trooper. He reached for binders at his utility belt. “All of you; on your knees.”

    A blast shattered the night. One stormtrooper fell on his face, a black hole smoking in his back. Two other troopers whirled. Another ruby arrow fizzed and smashed a stormtrooper in the helmet. He crumpled. The third soldier fired back. The stranger ducked and rolled, then fired again.

    Stunno launched at the nearest stormtrooper to him, smashing the soldier into the side of the passage. Keia gasped. Nim disappeared behind a dumped cargo crate. Blasts screamed up and down the dark passage. Then the fourth and final stormtrooper spun as if a battering ram had struck his shoulder, before falling and lying still.

    * * *​

    CAL HAWKE STRODE FROM THE SHADOWS, DH-17 blaster pistol in his grip, its barrel still smoking. He trembled slightly, not sure what he had just done.

    Stunno and Nim retrieved their rifles, and Keia liberated a stubby 411 hold-out pistol from the holster of the stormtrooper officer.

    Stunno faced Cal. “Bout time.”

    Cal took a breath. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. First this guy told me about the Empire taking over,” he jerked a thumb at Nim Swyve. “Then it happened right in front of my eyes – to you. I was sitting in the cantina, going over and over what I coulda, shoulda done. That stupid fate knocking song was playing. Then someone shouts there’s a riot at the jail.”

    He glanced at the cute technician. “I came, and recognised you guys…”

    “It is well, but now we are to leave!” Nim said.

    Stunno nodded thanks to Cal and took the girl’s arm. To Cal, she seemed too shell-shocked to know what was going on, staring down at her newly acquired firearm.

    “You’re with them?” he asked her.

    “I… I’m not sure,” she said.

    Nim groaned. “Will everyone decide their minds please? Remember Torrment is coming after us!"

    That seemed to jerk the woman to her senses. “Oh, we have to leave Junction!”

    Nim looked hopefully at Stunno. He sighed. “My rig’s impounded.”

    The Sullustan groaned. “You did not say this before!”

    The girl brightened. “Maybe I could steal an Imperial ship?”

    Stunno frowned. “Thought you was just a technician?”

    Cal watched this conversation silently for a moment, then asked her again,

    “You’re definitely with them now, then?”

    She could only shrug. “It just sort of happened. I just wanted to do something right… to help… and it all blew up…”

    Cal made a decision. “Okay, look, you need to get out of the city until this all blows over, right? My ship’s at the cantina.”

    He turned to lead them but Stunno stopped in his way. “You’d do that? You can just walk away, you know?”

    Cal looked at the dead stormtroopers and exhaled. He turned his intense blue eyes towards Stunno.

    “I’ve been walking away all my life. Now I’m in it, when they came after you.” He glanced at Keia and shrugged. “I just want to do something right… to help.”

    She flashed him a shy smile, and Cal felt something inside he could not describe. Cones of light swept above the passageway as Imperial skiffs closed on their position. Sirens blared in the night, as well as echoes of distant blaster fights. Cal thought he could hear the stomping of some great walking machine.

    The asteroid-mine pilot groaned internally as he led them towards the cantina, darting between passageways and covered walkways. What have I done?



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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  10. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Thank you for reading and replying, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701. I like your comment re; likability - it's my holy grail when creating characters lol.
     
  11. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Cal Sunrider is a good guy. A reluctant hero, at least for now, but his conscience just wouldn't let him sit back and do nothing. And I think maybe he likes Keia, just a little bit.
     
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  12. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Hey Cowgirl Jedi 1701 - thanks for sticking with this. I guess it was a slow start, but things about to get interesting. :cool:


    Chapter 7

    “UH, WE ARE NOT EVER GOING TO ESCAPE,” Nim groaned this assessment in the landing patch outside the cantina. The diminutive Sullustan surveyed the Quadjumper and tugged at his jowls in despair. The squat star-tug crouched between several much sleeker craft; four brutal jet engines bolted onto a basic crew pod.

    Keia rounded on Cal. “That’s your ship?”

    “It’ll get us out of Junction,” grunted the pilot.

    “Right. So what’re we waiting for?” Stunno growled in his deep voice.

    A blast ricocheted from a nearby transporter and the four fugitives ducked. Two Imperial speeders invaded the airspace above the cantina. Cal also spotted the white battle armour of stormtroopers stalking between parked rigs at the far end of the landing area.

    “Come on,” said Cal. The rear access ramp of the Quadjumper lowered and he dashed inside. Keia and Stunno followed, and the bulky Gigoran crushed against the elfin girl as they passed into the narrow interior at the same time.

    “Sorry ‘bout that,” he muttered. Cal flipped switches in the cockpit and Keia struggled through the cluttered crew compartment toward him.

    She wrinkled her nose. “Do you live on this thing? It stinks.”

    “You wanna go back out there?” Cal barked, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

    Several blasts whined in the night. One struck the rear of the ship. An amplified voice barked, “Come out with your hands up!”

    The engines spluttered and died. Cal slammed a fist into a control panel and they roared into life on the second attempt. Stunno chuckled at this method of maintenance. Cal glanced back.

    “Where’s the Sullustan?”

    Everyone exchanged glances. There was nowhere to hide in the cramped pod.

    “Oh, kriff…” said Stunno. Then Nim Swyve scrambled up the closing ramp.

    “Uh-huh, sorry… I needed to get important thing.”

    “What coulda been so important right now?” Stunno said. He was interrupted by a series of blasts hammering the outside of the Quadjumper.

    “Get us out of here!” Keia yelled.

    Cal grabbed the control stick. “On it.”

    The starship lurched into flight. More blasts slammed into it. Cal cursed and hurriedly activated more flight systems. Keia shoved aside debris and struggled into the co-pilot’s seat beside him. He looked at her.

    Keia said, “I can fly too – I have my proficiency training certificate.”

    “This ain’t no pleasure cruiser, darlin'…” said Cal. She ignored him and hit a switch.

    The ship leapt skywards. Cal spotted a hulking AT-ST marching below. Its heavy blaster cannons swiveled upwards to track them.

    “Hold on!” said Cal, shoving forward the accelerator vane. Stunno and Nim stumbled as the pilot twirled the controls and the Quadjumper zoomed, zipped and dodged. Keia gripped her armrests, staring at Cal. Streams of blaster bolts filled the night sky, but the chancer seemed to have preternatural instincts. He glanced back at her, noticed her incredulous look, and shrugged.

    “I dodge asteroids for a living…”

    * * *​

    WARNING LIGHTS FLASHED across the Quadjumper’s dashboard. Alarms shrieked.

    “What is that?” Nim pointed from behind the two pilot seats.

    “I think we’re in trouble,” said Cal.

    Keia studied a screen. “That last barrage from the walker… We’ve lost power to engines one, two and four!”

    “We’re in trouble!” said Cal. He wrestled with the steering vane as the Quadjumper fell into a nosedive back toward the desert.

    Keia squeezed in below the cockpit’s control panel and started ripping cables. “What a mess.”

    “Hey, don’t touch them,” said Cal. “Everything’s just as I like it!”

    Keia ignored him, working on a circuit board. A massive clang resounded from behind. Cal was too busy throwing switches to pay it heed. Keia wriggled. The waif slipped in further amongst the nest of cables and link boxes.

    “How do you ever switch power round down here?” she said. The clang boomed again. Cal looked round this time. Stunno had appropriated a grav-hammer from a toolbox amongst the detritus of the crew pod. He smashed it against the ceiling again.

    “Stunno, what’re you doing?” yelled Cal.

    The hulk looked back at him. “Why won’t it open up, eh?”

    Cal’s jaw dropped. He was unable to answer. Stunno gestured through a transparisteel port in the pod’s roof. Black smoke gushed from one of the engines.

    “I get out there, I fix it.”

    “There is not time!” squealed Nim, pointing out of the cockpit. Cal followed the Sullustan’s trembling finger. The ground hurtled towards them at breakneck speed.

    “Hey, you…” Cal kicked Keia to get her attention from beneath the panel.

    “Working on it!” she called up.

    “No time,” breathed Cal. “Strap in. We’re going down…”




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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  13. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Not quite Han Solo, is he?:p
     
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  14. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 I guess the comparisons with Han will be inevitable, but I realy tried to make Cal different. He's actually been through several incarnations where I tried to get his physical/mental/thematic traits right - including his speech pattern. He started off as a nerfherder (a real one!) then a rich boy with a luxury yacht. I had to be careful as Knocker is the "space trucker" and I didn't want to duplicate that in another character.

    So, although he is another commercial pilot I went for the lonely/dangerous profession of dodging asteroids. My basic script for this guy is: "Strong silent type, space cowboy" - think of a young Clint Eastwood in a flightsuit.[face_laugh]

    As you're a cowgirl yourself I hope he comes up to scratch. I've run him through several adventures now, and it's sort of working - though he's turning out to be a bit of a drinker/smoker, too. Not sure what that says about him. Self-destructive?

    Strangely I got Keia figured out in my mind instantly. Maybe I should make her the lead/POV character? [face_thinking]

    Knocker & Swyve AKA The Muscle and the Mouth are just for fun really.

    K
     
  15. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    He's a terrific character. And yes, he is kind of a cowboy type personality. The thing is that I have always seen Han Solo as sort of a cowboy, so because of that, even though I like Cal for himself, I, personally, just can't not compare him to Han.
     
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  16. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 That's perfectly right; Han is the original space cowboy, but more of the "yee-haa!" type lol.

    Chapter 8

    “BRACE FOR IMPACT,” said Cal. He gripped the controls of the Quadjumper as the stubby starship screamed towards the ground. Keia fumbled with her G-harness, trying to strap in. Stunno and Nim dived into rear seats and belted up. The howling descent built to a crescendo.

    At the last moment, Cal flicked a switch and hauled back a lever. The one remaining engine spat fire at reverse angle, forcing up the Quadjumper’s nose. The fugitives slammed against their harnesses with the sudden inversion of G-forces. The ship skipped across desert. Metal twisted and squealed. The Quadjumper bounced twice then punched into a sandbank. Once again, safety straps bit into the shoulders and waists of the crew. Then all was still.

    “Uh-huhuh, you did land it!” chuckled Nim. Stunno exhaled.

    Cal held up a hand for quiet. A sensor beeped somewhere.

    Keia spotted it first on the control display. “Overheat! She’s going to blow!”

    No-one needed an order or a prompt. All four rogues wrestled with their straps then scrambled toward the rear access portal. Cal punched a button. It did not open. Stunno slammed a hairy fist into the entire panel. Then it opened. They staggered out and ran away. At forty paces, Cal suddenly stopped and whirled to run back inside again.

    “Whoa, what you doin’?” Stunno grabbed his arm.

    “My credit chip – we’re gonna need it…” said Cal.

    The explosion interrupted him and threw all four escapees to the ground. Debris and spent fuel chunks showered the fugitives. Cal sat up and spat out sand.

    “Perfect! And I just paid it off…”

    Stunno groaned and regained his feet, as did Keia and Nim. They each surveyed their desolate surroundings in a different direction. Vast expanses of sand spread away into the distances, grey under the starlight. Frowning mountains crouched at the horizon.

    “How we gonna get outta this one?” said Stunno.

    Cal was checking his pockets and searching frantically about the blackened remains of the Quadjumper. Stunno hissed at him, “This is the kriffin’ desert! You can’t buy anything out ‘ere!”

    “But that was my life savings…” said Cal.

    “Are we going to die out here?” Keia searched in vain for some sign of civilisation across the desert.

    Cal returned, dejected, and noticed Nim Swyve had disappeared again. Then he spotted him.

    The little Sullustan was already trotting away towards the rise of a dune. Cal squinted skywards. Darkness of night was rapidly fading to dawn. Before long, the desert would be drenched by Junction’s sweltering giant sun. Nim reached the top of the dune, then chortled and beckoned to them.

    “Uh-huh, come on, you will look at this!”

    The others struggled up to him and peered across the rock-strewn plains beyond. There was a settlement! A collection of pre-fabricated shelters surrounded at least a dozen starships. It could only have been an hour’s walk away. Sunlight spilled from the horizon and marked the base, as if showing them the way.

    “It is our fates! We can be saved!” exclaimed Nim.

    Stunno grinned and punched the air. “Oha, the Force is with us!”

    Then they set off for the mysterious desert camp.




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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  17. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 9


    “I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS,” said Cal, halting a strategic distance before the barrier of shelters. Guards swathed in desert robes and armed with long-barreled rifles patrolled the roofs. They jerked to attention upon spotting the interlopers in the scorching sunshine of mid-morning.

    Stunno leant down and whispered in Cal’s ear, “A starport, way out ‘ere?”

    Cal nodded agreement with the Gigoran’s suspicion. “Too good to be true…”

    Nim Swyve strolled on, however, with Keia following faithfully behind. Cal and Stunno caught up with them when a gang of six beings marched out from the settlement to meet them.

    Their species was unclear, but the blasters they brandished were not. They pointed these and barked a warning. The four fugitives made sure their own weapons remained safely at their sides.

    Nim turned to the others. “OK, so I think I can deal with these people. I will get ride for us.”

    “With what?” Stunno groaned.

    “I have credits,” said the short Sullustan, producing a chip from a pocket.

    Cal frowned then grabbed his wrist. He forced the rodent’s hand round and examined the far side of the credit chip – and a distinctive scratch on the smooth metal.

    “That’s mine,” growled Cal.

    “Oh, uh-huh, I must pick it up by chance in the ship. Very confusing. We will use it anyway, or we are stuck, yes?”

    Cal released Nim’s hand with a scowl and watched as the rascal skipped away and greeted the advancing guards in a different language. Stunno tapped Cal on the shoulder.

    “Better watch that one. Quick hands…”

    “He has a quick mouth, too,” said Keia. “Did anyone notice until now he was just tagging along, and suddenly we’re all relying on his bargaining?”

    They joined Nim as he faced the welcome party. With desert cowls removed, an olive-skinned Rodian and an anvil-headed Arcona had revealed their faces. Four Nikto brutes that rivalled Stunno for height and bulk flanked them. The Rodian was doing the talking, his snout curling as he spat words. Cal thought he sounded angry. The Arcona watched them all silently with golden, multi-faceted eyes glittering. Nim chuckled and replied in the language of the Rodian. Keia started with alarm.

    “Stop! Don’t tell them that!” she pulled at Nim’s jacket.

    Swyve rounded on her and hissed a warning.

    Cal touched her shoulder. “Hey, you speak Rodian?”

    She nodded, “Yes, and Huttese."

    Cal regarded her, impressed. Keia shrugged. “I grew up on Coruscant – big city, lots of species.”

    “Whatever,” said Cal. He jerked a thumb at Nim. “What’s he saying?”

    “He told them everything; that we are looking for the Rebel Alliance, that we are running from the Empire, and that we’re desperate to rent a starship short term.”

    Cal and Stunno exchanged panicked looks. “He’s crazy!” said the Gigoran.

    Nim turned and grinned as the menacing thugs walked away and jabbered with others from their organisation.

    Cal remained calm but squared up to the Sullustan.

    “What’s going on, Friend?” said Cal. His tone was dangerous.

    Nim huddled with them and lowered his voice.

    “I think we can borrow ship, but you must know something important: These people are pirates. I will make guess it is Gundark Gang.”

    Keia squeaked with alarm. Cal bit down his fear and squinted at the Sullustan.

    “What’s the big idea telling them our plan?”

    Nim took a moment, then said, “Uh-huh, if we are not careful we are dead already. You understand this? Good. If they think we have information, they will take it from us, then kill us. If they think we have credits they will kill us, then take them from us. So, I tell them we have a contact to give us secret location for Rebels. Now they think we can give them a better chance to take things. So, they will give us a ship.”

    Cal exchanged a look with Stunno, who squinted. “I didn’t follow that.”

    Cal was also unconvinced. “Why would they rent us a ship? They must know chances are against us coming back.”

    Nim grinned. “Uh-huh, because they will try to follow us. But you guys are the best pilots I have seen. You can lose them, it is right?”

    Cal exhaled and grabbed Nim by the lapel. “You want to let us in on these great plans before you go deciding on them?”

    Nim twisted in Cal’s grip until they were interrupted by the returning outlaws. Cal let go and faced them. This time the shadow-skinned Arcona spoke in a hissing voice while beckoning with long multi-jointed fingers.

    “Come. We might have a ship yess. First, the bosss wantss to speak to you…”



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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  18. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 10


    “YOU DO NOT NEED THOSE WEAPONS HERE,” said a velvety voice.

    Cal peered into the shadows of the hangar interior. Stacks of crates towered on each side, marked with a collection of different corporations. Cal patted the DH-17 in its holster at his hip. “I dunno ‘bout that. It’s a dangerous galaxy out there.”

    “Well then. I insist,” purred the voice. This time Cal spotted its owner, lurking beside a pile of opened crates just beyond a failing glow-pole. The first thing Cal noticed was his teeth – shining needles in a grinning maw. Then the eyes, slanted and red. The debonair being stepped forward to reveal himself. That was when Cal spotted the horns and identified the species: Devaronian – the Devil People.

    “I am Mak’kai,” bowed the demon. A long crimson cloak swathed a lithe body packed into a close-fitting body armour suit. “Did you not come here looking for help?”

    The Nikto brutes appeared behind the four escapees, reinforced by others of the gang, and gestured for their blasters. Nim chuckled and gave up his liberated stormtrooper weapon, nodding for the others to do the same. Cal sighed and complied. Keia handed over her stolen officer’s pistol, and finally Stunno let them take his rifle and grav-hammer with a grunt.

    The shadow-skinned Arcona slithered to the Devaronian’s side, golden eyes fixed on Cal and the team. He whispered something to the Devaronian.

    “So…” Mak’kai enacted a dramatic pause, “You want to leave Junction, quickly, and… without Imperial entanglements.”

    “Uh-huh, we can make a payment to you for short time rent of a ship…”

    Mak’kai held up one long-fingered hand. “That will not be necessary. We are friends, are we not? I am sure we can make an arrangement…”

    Cal exchanged a look with Stunno. He checked where their blasters had gone, carried by one of the guards. Keia slunk close to the hefty Gigoran’s side as several of the pirates crowded her, leering.

    “You, the one in Empire uniform,” said the pirate prince, wandering next to a huge container at one side of the hall and peering into a slit inside. “I suppose you know Imperial security codes?”

    Keia gulped at being addressed directly. She said, “I… I’m just a technician…"

    “Is that so?”

    Hidden inside the container, something rocked and hissed. The four all instinctively took a step away from it.

    “What’s that?” sad Cal.

    “That is Bor Gullet, my little fact-finder, sensing impending work,” said Mak’kai. He turned away and grinned at Keia. His fangs sparkled in the dim light. He paused again, then said, “But not tonight.”

    He strode towards the fugitives and came face to face with Nim Swyve. “I think I can do better than simply rent you a ship. I have a cargo freighter standing idle. I could always do with more crew. You will travel upon the Akuma, take it to your destination…”

    Nim chuckled and rubbed his hands together, but Cal sensed the pirate had not finished and waited for the conclusion.

    Mak’kai said, “And a dozen of my men will travel with you.”

    Silence filled the hall for several moments, then the Sullustan scoundrel spoke up. “Huhhuh, I am sorry, but that it is not possible.”

    “Why?”

    “My contact, he runs away if he sees strangers.”

    “Why?”

    “It is reasonable because it is rebels, yes? They do not want Imperial spies.”

    “My men will stay out of sight.”

    “Uh-huh, it is difficult I think. Rebels are very careful.”

    Mak’kai made a deep, theatrical sigh. He sashayed over to the cage of the Bor Gullet once more, toying with release bolts on its doors. Cal watched him very carefully, feeling exposed without his blaster at his side.

    “I see,” said the pirate. “Then perhaps it is better for you to try another friend. Junction Town is about three hundred leagues that way. Or is it that way? I never can remember. This is not such a large planet, if you keep walking for long enough you are bound to find it. Good luck, then.”

    Mak’kai gestured for the door.

    Cal, Nim, Stunno and Keia huddled. Nim hung his head. “I am sorry. He is clever.”

    “We’re not done yet,” said Cal, though he knew they would be dead – or worse – if they tried to leave. They broke and faced the grinning Devaronian.

    “Alright,” said Cal. “You got a deal. Which ship’s the Akuma?”






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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  19. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Chapter 11

    GUARDS WITH RIFLES MARCHED the fugitives out amongst the parked starships. Cal spotted their destination; a chunky Barloz-class freighter. The ramp was lowered and more gangsters loitered around its stubby landing struts. Cal thought he saw cages inside the hold, for hauling livestock – or prisoners. He turned and winked to Stunno.

    “Uhhn, I gonna die!” The Gigoran halted and doubled over, as if he was about to vomit.

    The Rodian snarled something, brandishing a blaster pistol. One of the Niktos leveled a spear and growled, “Get movin’”

    “There’s something wrong with him,” said Keia, crouching beside Stunno. He shoved her away and retched. The Nikto moved in as Stunno groaned. Cal waited until three of the escort party were all focused on the writhing Gigoran. Then he sprang.

    A fist to the snout of the Rodian toppled the pirate into the sand. Stunno reared and clobbered one of the Niktos. Keia screamed. Cal cracked another gangster – a bearded human – across the jaw and he spun away. Blasters fired. Cal dived and grabbed his fallen DH-17. He rolled and returned fire.

    Stunno rampaged.

    Keia fell to her knees and protected her head as the melee erupted around her. Then she saw her recently acquired 411 pistol in the dust and grabbed it. A shadow loomed. She looked up into the eyes of another Nikto with a spear, and fired. The brute collapsed.

    With their immediate captors defeated, Cal and Stunno exchanged quiet nods of triumph. Cal reached down and tugged Keia to her feet. She clutched her pistol and trembled, staring at the gangster she had killed. Nim had disappeared.

    Shouts bounced around the pirate’s camp and more enemies ran to surround them. A blaster fired at them and they dived into cover. Nim suddenly reappeared, snuffling.

    “Uh-huh, what do we do now?”

    “Didn’t think that far,” breathed Cal. He knelt by a cargo crate and returned fire at a squad of gangsters that had rounded a parked starship with blasters spitting. More and more pirates joined the operation to surround them as word spread through the base.

    “This is your escape plan?” Keia said. Cal ignored her, listening.

    “Hear that?” he said.

    A rhythmic crunch pounded from somewhere outside the camp, and beyond that, a rising engine whine howled across the sky. Keia slapped a hand to her mouth as she recognised it.

    “That’s a TIE fighter!”

    The massive outline of an AT-ST walking machine appeared over one of the perimeter buildings, before promptly stepping on and crushing the prefabricated shed. The heavy blaster cannons beneath its chin spat and the pirates’ Barloz starship erupted in a fireball. Smoke billowed. The gangsters were thrown into panic when white-armoured stormtroopers poured into the camp behind the armoured dreadnought. Hexagon-winged TIE fighters screamed overhead in the scorched sky. The AT-ST’s monstrous head turned and peered at the four escapees. Its cannons pulsed.

    “Look out!”

    Cal and Stunno dived in one direction, Keia and Nim were thrown in the other as their tiny bulwark exploded.

    Blasters whined and ruby arrows criss-crossed through the parched air as a full-blown battle intensified between the pirates and unexpected Imperial attackers. Cal regained his wits and spotted Stunno lying nearby. They struggled to their feet and Cal eyed the scene.

    “Time to leave,” he said, pointing to the nearest ship – a compact YT2660 in pretty good condition.

    “What ‘bout the others… ?” said Stunno, but then a stray blast smashed him in the chest. The hefty rigger gasped then tumbled to the sand.

    * * *​

    KEIA GROANED AND SAT UP, her head throbbing. She soon realised she was in the middle of a battle as weapons spat and bolts zapped all around her. She still had her 411 pistol, and remembered she was still in her Imperial technician’s uniform. Where were the others?

    The elfin technician peered through the smoke and spotted Cal disappear up the ramp of a starship. She struggled to her feet to join them. Then two stormtroopers loomed before her, blaster rifles pointed at her face.

    “Drop your weapon!” barked one through his helmet com.

    “She’s the one,” said the other, touching his ear-piece ready to transmit.

    Keia sank with despair, a desperate realisation seizing her heart like a claw; she couldn’t make the others wait or come back for her. Her fate ended here.

    Then a blast flashed from close range. A stormtrooper fell. The other glanced round. Keia reacted and blasted him in the chest and he crumpled. Nim Swyve seemed to appear from nowhere again, his pilfered blaster rifle smoking from its barrel. Keia gaped.

    “Uh-huh, I am thinking it is time to exit!”

    Keia grinned and allowed Nim to take her hand. Together they sprinted towards the little transporter and dashed up the ramp.

    Cal was speed-switching it through pre-launch cycle when they entered. He grunted an acknowledgement. “About time.”

    Keia noticed the huge Gigoran strapped onto a couch, unconscious, and understood Cal must have hauled him single-handedly through a battle to get him there.

    “Is he… dead?” she said.

    “Dunno. Get ready,” said Cal. Then the YT2660 leapt skywards.

    The sky offered little respite from the battle. The AT-ST’s head tracked them and blaster bolts filled the air around the starship, forcing Cal to shift his course and weave between streams. Keia noticed from the cockpit screen that the TIEs had abruptly turned and were heading straight for them. The ship vibrated with the power Cal was pushing out of its engines.

    “Nim, take the gunnery bubble,” Keia said, pointing. The Sullustan nodded and scampered away. She took co-pilot seat beside Cal.

    “Angling deflectors,” she said. “Here we go again…”


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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  20. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    BOR GULLET!
     
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  21. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Hah, that comment cracked me up! Yes, it survived Jedha, somehow...

    Chapter 12


    “HERE WE GO AGAIN,” said Cal. He swerved in and out of streams of blaster fire from the ground, trying to achieve altitude. A blast knocked their freighter and he cursed.

    “Kriff, we’re going down again unless we get out of here now."

    Keia hit a com switch to the gunnery bubble. “Nim, where are we going?”

    “Nar Shaddaa!” came the voice of the Sullustan, followed by a judder. He was already shooting the ship’s dorsal cannons at pursuing TIE fighters. Keia and Cal exchanged a look with raised eyebrows, then Keia set to work on the co-pilot’s computer station.

    “Give me a moment to set the hyperdrive.”

    “We don’t have a moment!” Cal dodged another volley, almost. The ship rocked again. A warning signal yelped on the control panel.

    “Shields failing. Right, that’s it!” said Cal. He turned the ship and dived back towards the surface. Keia was so intent working on co-ordinates that she did not notice, but Nim’s voice crackled on the internal comlink.

    “Uh-huh, it is the wrong way. We want to go up, yes?”

    Keia glanced up just in time to see the AT-ST centred in the ship’s main forward-firing cannon crosshairs. Cal thumbed the triggers on his control sticks and streams of ruby javelins speared towards the Imperial walker. It teetered as the blasts struck home, then collapsed into a pile. Cal pulled the ship back skywards.

    “Now I feel better. That kriffer took out my Quadjumper.”

    He glanced across to see what Keia was doing. “Hey, the nav-com does work, you know?”

    “I’m quicker than the nav-com…” she said, dainty fingers flying across keys.

    Emerald blasts swept before the cockpit screen. Cal glanced at the sensors.

    “We have got four TIE fighters chasing of us,” signaled Nim. “Hyperspace any time in the about now is very good!”

    “Keep ‘em off us,” said Cal into the comlink. He sent the ship into a twirl as it arrowed towards space, trying to throw off the pursuing pack of hunters. Nim intermittently flung bursts of cannon fire from his bubble to keep the TIEs at bay.

    “Ready,” said Keia. She met eyes with Cal. It had to be a record time.

    “Ready?” he said. “You get it wrong we end up in the middle of a star.”
    “You’re the hotshot, you can fly us out of it.”

    She offered him her hand, he clasped it. Together they gripped the hyperspace activation lever and shoved it forwards....


    .​
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  22. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Now let's see, who else do we know who can calculate hyperspace coordinates in their head? I think he also made a similar comment about ending up in the middle of a star. Hmmm.........
     
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  23. Kurisan

    Kurisan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Ah I think Han says something about ending up in a star, but I didn't know he could astrogate like that too! :(
    Oh well. So, it seems it's just you and me at this party, so let's wrap things up. Thanks for sticking with this. It's just the beginning for these guys. And you can say you were there at the start lol. ;)


    Epilogue

    LIEUTENANT CRIPPS CREPT THROUGH THE DOORWAY, entering the darkened chamber. For such a luxurious space aboard the Star Destroyer, Tyranny, it seemed a waste to keep it so spartan, Cripps decided. He thought he heard servo-motors whirring and he stiffened. Red lights winked in the darkness at him.

    “Proceed to report!” barked a semi-mechanical voice, making Cripps jump. He straightened and smoothed his black uniform.

    “I… err… well, the mission resulted in a partial success, Commander.”

    Cripps’ eyes got used to the dark, and he witnessed Commander Torrment sitting apparently comatose upon a metal throne fed by wheezing cables. The only sign of life were winking red lights upon the cybernetic half of the commander’s head. Cripps jumped again as something swished behind him. He spun to see a hovering interrogator droid fix him with its glowing visual sensor. Another prowled around behind it, taking up another angle on him. Cripps avoided the buzzing droids and turned back to the commander.

    “That does not compute,” said Torrment. “Clarify.”

    “We discovered a pirate base here on Junction and destroyed almost sixty percent of their ships before the rest escaped. We have severely damaged their operation…”

    “The prime objective, Lieutenant: It was not achieved. What about the escapees?”

    Torrment’s robotic voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once, as if disembodied.

    “Well, yes… they managed to steal another ship… from the pirates… in all the confusion you see… and then they unfortunately broke through the orbital blockade…”

    The droids closed on Cripps and the officer knew that Torrment was directly controlling them through cybernetic brain-links, as if they were extensions of his own body. The red orbs of the automatons were Torrment’s own eyes.

    “Who are these bandits?” said the Commander.

    Cripps grabbed a holo-projector from his pocket and flicked the switch. Faces rotated one at a time.

    “Cal Hawke – human, local asteroid dodger. Stunno, a long-haul Gigoran rigger. This one we don’t know, but Agent Gar warned about a Sullustan trying to gather information. And finally…”

    “Keia Tamara,” said Torrment. The droids crowded in closer, peering. “Imperial Second Technician. She was in your own unit, Lieutenant. How did you not see this potential for insubordination in her psyche report?”

    Cripps swallowed. “She is academically very gifted, I thought that… with the right guidance… she could become a great asset… she betrayed me. Sir, I…”

    “You betrayed yourself!” Torrment silenced him. “She has a nice face and you allowed emotions to influence your decisions.”

    Cripps trembled, unable to answer.

    “They have escaped, possibly with sensitive information,” said Torrment.

    “Sir, I assure you the operation is proceeding on schedule…”

    “I did not intend to leave an entire garrison here. You are aware that Imperial forces are stretched as it is. This is a matter of logistics, Lieutenant. Now we face a significant risk on this asset – if the rebels understand its importance. Your mission was an utter failure.”

    Cripps felt sweat trickling down his face and braced himself.

    “You should spend more time with droids, Lieutenant Cripps. They always do exactly what you tell them to do – even if it is something… unpalatable, like administering electro-shock torture.”

    “Sir, I really will catch them, I…”

    “I am demoting you, Lieutenant Cripps – to Sergeant. You will look after my droid pool. This is not because I am angry with you. Understand this. It is important that failure is not rewarded. Everyone under my command must understand this. Failure has consequences. You will have the opportunity to redeem yourself and rise in rank again. Success is rewarded.”

    “Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir…”

    “Do not thank me. It is a matter of logistics. Now go. I will compute all the information and find these fugitives, these bandits…”

    * * *​

    “YOU HAVE THE INFORMATION? I HAVE THE CRRREDITS.” Maryk Beda’lya, as was usual for the furry Bothan species, growled his R’s like a canine.

    Sitting on the other side of the corner booth in the smoky sublevel bar, Nim Swyve snuffled.

    “Uh-huh, yes I have the information.” Nim offered a flash of a code cylinder from the chest pocket of his jacket. “But there is something else I am wanting.”

    Sync music pounded through the crowded dive’s speakers, assuring privacy for their conversation, deep in the bowels of the smugglers moon known as Nar Shaddaa. Beda’lya snorted.

    “The terrrms of our deal were quite explicit, Swyve.”

    “I know this, but now it is something better! I have new recruits for your cause.”

    “You mean those three at the barrr?” Beda’lya growled and nodded.

    Nim winced. He did not even need to look. “Okay, okay, they are green, uh-huh. But they can all fly.”

    “Starrrship pilots?” Beda’lya leaned forward.

    “Yes. I am hearing what happened at Yavin.”

    “We beat the Empire at Yavin, Swyve. It was a grrreat victory.”

    “But at what cost? Your Alliance is scattered. You need new pilots. These are the best I am seeing.”

    The Bothan leaned back and ran a paw through his mane of golden fur. He fiddled with whiskers before exhaling.

    “Call them over.”

    Nim turned and beckoned, chuckling. Cal, Keia and Stunno all squeezed into the booth seats. The Gigoran did not fit and had to perch on a corner. Maryk Beda’lya surveyed them all for several moments, then grinned like a nexu.

    “Welcome to the Rebellion. It seems no longer are your fates in Junction…”


    THE END… THE BEGINNING
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2020
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  24. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    The end ends in a new beginning. :p Now that is clever and I love this creepy photo. =D= I will check twice tonight before turning off the lights.
     
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  25. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Kurisan - sorry I'm late to the party. [face_blush]

    I enjoyed this, for a number of reasons - your writing's always excellent, but this also feels very SW, and like an opening adventure of a new, small roleplaying game group. :D (I'm a sucker for RPG nods, intended or otherwise. :p)

    These four are an interesting mix - and you used a Vurk! =D= Not a species we see nearly enough of, IMHO.

    And Cripps ... got off easily, IMHO. This Torment feels like an even less emotional version of Count Vidian, but different enough to be interesting. I also applaud the absence of Force-sensitives - this isn't a time period where they should be super-common (Rebels works for what it is, but I think it could've benefitted from Ezra perhaps becoming something besides a Jedi ... [face_thinking])
     
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