Title: The Graverobbers of Alderaan Timeframe: Concurrent with Return of the Jedi, Legends Continuity Characters: Alexis Wentlas Summary: Making the Return on behalf of the crew of her father's flagship, Alexis Wentlas runs into more trouble than she thought in the Graveyard. *** Alexis Wentlas had been abandoned by her parents. The sentiment was strong, the young woman thought, but it matched the aching feeling in her gut. She sat in the round cockpit of her YT-2400 freighter, surrounded by the countless stations and consoles that were slaved to the main piloting station in front of her. She remembered the conversation clearly in her mind. Lounging on the large couch in the sitting quarters of their shared living suite with her young whisperkit in her lap had become second nature, and two days ago hadn't been any different. Her parents entered the room together, a rarity ever since Hoth due to their increased schedules, both in their pristineAllianceuniforms. They had been keeping something from her for at least the last few days before she had been sent away. Conversations abruptly stopped when she entered the room and looks of concern crossed over their faces. It hadn't been like it was previously, though, when those whispered tones had been solely about her and her condition following her capture by the Empire. It had been like they were trying to protect her from something. The command chair creaked as she stood up from it, left knee stiff from the constant sitting, her right perfect in its cybernetics. The sounds of her boots hitting the bare durasteel echoed through the empty corridor. She turned a right after exiting the cockpit, leaving the offset control center and entering the circular main hull of the ship. A soft meow drew her attention to the khaki-colored couch in front of the entertainment suite, where a young whisperkit lounged. The pitten stretched her front legs out, paws spreading wide. Alexis smiled at her pet and sat down next to her, absentmindedly running her fingers through the dark grey fur. "Good morning, Kimmi," she said. The whisperkit stood from her sitting position and rested her head upon Alexis's leg. Kimmi had been a gift from her parents months ago, a present to not only serve as a companion for Alexis but as a way to calm herself when the memories of her Imperial captivity got too much for her. Alexis looked over the lounge of the vessel, almost hearing ghostly voices from years back wafting through the walls. The Alderan Lemures hadn't always been her ship. It hadn't always even been known by that name. When she first came aboard the ship, it had been called the Ni Huutan, a Huttese phrase meaning "Shimmering Gem." An apt name for its smuggler/mercenary owner and the ragtag Rebel crew under her own nominal command. Kimmi's soft purring focused Alexis's attention on the present. She took a deep breath in and picked up the semi-willing whisperkit into her arms. She stood up from her seat and passed the turbolaser emplacement, the newer metal clashing with the worn paint of the walls surrounding it. Hoth hadn't been her first failure and it wouldn't be the last. Alexis stepped into the shortened cargo compartment, the original layout's capacity of 150 metric tons reduced to just half of that by expanded passenger suites. The bay was clean, devoid of the oil stains and grime that frequently pooled in cargo bays. The still-large room was empty save for a two-meter square crate in the middle. It was her payload, a mission intended to be simply busy work for her but still important. Inside were the memories, mementos and monuments of over a thousand beings, herself and her parents included. A series of staccato beeps sounded over the intercom, the warning that she was about to reach her destination. It was frantic, far more than the usual warning was. Alexis walked back to the cockpit, setting her whisperkit down upon her bed in the room as she did. Sitting down in her pilot's chair, she watched as the countdown to reversion ticked down its final minutes. Alexis closed her eyes and took in another deep breath. She could do this, she kept repeating inside her brain. She rested one hand on the hyperspace switch, the other keeping a firm control on the flight controls. "Lem, I want weapons and reserve power to the shields and double them front," she said. The ship's droid brain, based off of and expanded from an R-series astromech, was silent in reply, but the shield indicator in front of Alexis shifted from a circle of harlequin around the ship to two half-ovals of jade in front. The hyperdrive lever reversed easily, the ribbons of blue outside of the transparisteel viewscreen shrinking into long lines of light before reverting into stars. Larger objects filled her view as the sensors screamed out multiple contact warnings. Asteroids of motley sizes floated wildly in the distance. No, not asteroids, Alexis thought as she piloted her starship into the field. Ruins. Asteroids were formed at the birth of a system, the remnants of giants balls of rock that never formed into planets. These rocks weren't those. They had once been a planet, verdant and full of life. Two billion people had once called these rocks a home, replaced only with ghosts. Alexis fought back the tide of emotions that rolled over her as she saw the field for the first time with her own eyes. Alderaan. What was left of it after the Empire and the Death Star came, anyway. She wiped a burning tear that came to her eye away and focused on what lay ahead. She had told her parents that she'd be okay with going here, but the reality of it slammed into her with more force than the microfragments of the planets hitting her ship's shields. Alexis had been born here, had been raised for long portions of her life there. Now nothing of the world that she had known remained save for a manmade asteroid field, a large remnant of what had been the planet's sole natural satellite, and a much smaller sister planet in the distance. Alexis flipped a few switches at her station, transferring all available power to the shields and ordering the ship's droid brain to take any evasive action needed. She walked out of the cockpit, leaning down to scratch her alarmed whisperkit between the ears. "I thought you were supposed to be the one comforting me," she said with a smile. A silent "meow" was her only reply. Decked in a thin enviro-suit, Alexis walked into the main cargo hold again. The suit, lithe as it was, still provided ample protection from the cold vacuum of space. She cycled the oxygen out of the hold and opened the main ramp. Outside of the ship, the remnants of her homeworld looked as if she could simply reach out and pull them into the ship with her. She walked around the crate, gloved fingers tracing lightly over its surface before closing over the handles of the hover-forklift. She cleared her throat and tried to coax out the words that were choking her. "I know I should say something, but I don't know what to say. I lived here and I took every day I was on it for granted. I never thought that one day that it would just... End... "I've dreamed about this world when I needed comfort, I've had nightmares about it, and I'm not the only one. So, I consign these dreams, memories and hopes to space. May we Alderaanians never forget what was lost here, and may we find some peace in the galaxy again. " With a slow push, the cart and the crate separated as the latter cleared the magnetized hull. Alexis watched as it floated away, carried by the momentum deeper and deeper into the Graveyard. She blinked a few tears out of her eyes and cursed as the helmet's internal sensors mistook the gesture as a cue to lower the macrobinoculars. The enhanced vision caught a metallic glint in the distance; the telltale bright shine against a dark surface as light from Alderaan's primary hit it. It was another large memento left by another group of surviving Alderaanians, she thought. Perhaps even the canister left by Princess Leia Organa gathered from the refugees on Delaya that had been left in the Graveyard four years ago. The movement of the object dashed any hope that it was unpowered. The large metallic thing decelerated as it approached something that Alexis couldn't make out. A ship, then, she thought. A thousand possibilities crossed through her mind about the other ship: another group of Alderaanians coming to leave memorials of their own, an Imperial scout-ship looking for rebels in the ranks of the former, smugglers using the asteroid field for their own nefarious purposes. Alexis shut the freighter's cargo ramp and repressurized the hold before throwing her helmet aside and running into the cockpit. Kimmi looked up at her master in confusion as Alexis ran to the soft bed and picked her up. The whisperkit yowled in fear and anger as she was forcibly placed in a nearby cage. Alexis ignored the cries, content that if things got hairy that her pet would be safe in the crash cage. Whoever the crew of the freighter was, there was a good possibility that they weren't up to anything good. Alexis sat in her command chair and adjusted the crash webbing's straps over her body. It wouldn't hurt anything to take a closer look, she thought. Move through the debris field, see what they were doing. Alexis's jaw clenched. See what they were doing and then deal with them if necessary. Her right leg burned at the thought, but she pushed it aside. Alexis transferred power evenly through the ship and eased the throttle forward. Her ship moved slow at her command, gliding around large chunks of devastated crust, flying as close as she could to them to mask her ship from sensors. She rounded the edge of the last planetoid, cresting over the deep craterous impression in the rock that could have easily been a dried lake bed. A few flips of switches and presses of buttons powered down her freighter. The sensors she left on, letting them sweep through the area with as much power as she dared. The unknown ship was the only other ship in the area, at least that she could tell. Any number of other ships could be hiding out in the field as she did. The other ship wasn't Imperial in design, but Corellian like her own. It had the hammerhead design of CEC's famed corvettes and the flat triangle of a main hull like their earlier Consular-class cruiser, but was roughly a third of the size of either ship. Three engines sat at the rear of the craft in a clustered line. An XS-800 freighter, Alexis recognized. Alexis's eyes remained cemented on the sensor screen, now fine tuned in order to pick up every single particle in the area that was larger than a canid. The other freighter had slowed to a crawl next to a humanoid-sized object made of metal, gobbling up the floating form. Her heart hardened inside of her chest, eyes narrowed in anger. They were grave robbers, searching for something remotely valuable in the memorials for the dead. "Lem, distribute power evenly to all systems and take control of the dorsal gun." The speakers inside of the cockpit whistled and beeped in reply. Alexis pressed a few buttons in quick succession above her, transferring control of the ventral turret to her own control stick and locking it into place. It wasn't ideal, she thought, but she was the only other sentient being in the ship and the droid computer's memory could only handle one of the ship's two laser cannon turrets. Her transport closed the distance between the two ships quickly, swinging over the sensor antenna of the other ship. "This is the Alderan Lemures to unidentified ship," she said as she swung her ship around to face the other freighter. "Dump the cargo you just picked up and leave the Graveyard or join it." The words felt strange leaving her mouth, the tongue of a woman long dead speaking through her. Red blaster fire was the smuggler's answer. The Lemures shook as the blasts hit its powerful shields. The ship's computer immediately opened fire in response, spewing blasts that bounced just as harmlessly off the shields. In the distance of the cockpit, Alexis could hear Kimmi's frightened meowing coming from behind her. She swung around for another pass, slingshotting around a large space rock the size of a city. The grim thought that perhaps it had once been a city came to Alexis's mind, her grip on the steering yoke tightening as a result. The XS-800 had already begun to turn its tail to her, three massive engines flaring blue in the darkness. The sensor array and the shield generator attached to it lined up in the yellow brackets of her HUD. As the ship's computer fired randomly upon the ship, Alexis depressed the buttons on the top of her control yoke. Blasts of fire-linked energy surged out from under the craft and exploded meters away from her target. Sweat beaded down from the base of Alexis's dark brown hair, moving down her forehead and speeding up at the slope leading to her eye before veering just away. She blinked anyway and spun her freighter on its axis to avoid a riposte of fire. The space rock in front of her exploded upon contact with the missed shots. A larger piece of it, about a quarter of the size of the original rock, was shoved by the force towards her. "Shavit..." Alexis cursed. She threw the control yoke away from her, diving so quickly that the inertial compensators failed to account for the full amount of g-forces exerted upon her. Stomach nestled firmly in her throat, Alexis whispered a silent plea to anything that was listening to just clear the obstacle. The entire universe spun and shook like a groundquake had hit. Sensors. warning sirens, and one very frightened whisperkit screamed out their cacophonic symphony that drowned out the loud crunch to port. Alexis was thrown against her crash webbing, the crisscrossing straps keeping her firmly in her seat. She struggled with the flight yoke, moving the sluggish craft out of the way of several more pieces of space debris. A quick glance at the blinking warning lights confirmed along with the fact that she was still alive that no major damage had occurred. The particle shields were down completely and the hull around the machine shop and primary escape pod was banged up pretty badly, but it wasn't anything that couldn't be fixed. Alexis landed the Lemures upon the closest rock she could find and scanned the area for any sign of the smugglers' ship. Through the hazy image--the main sensor suite must have taken a small hit in the collision as well, she thought--Alexis watched as its three engines flared to life and headed out of the Graveyard, its ill-gotten gains safe in its hold. Kimmi's cage opened with a few depressions on the security lock on the door. The whisperkit was huddled in the far corner of the padded cage, fur raised where it wasn't matted down from the busted water dispenser. "Come here, Kimmi," Alexis coaxed. The kit stayed put, entire body shaking. Alexis gave the whisperkit a reassuring smile. "You and me both..." The Lemures limped out of the Graveyard, course set for Delaya. It had been Alderaan's twin planet, visible to the naked eye on certain nights as a dot half the size of a decicred in the sky. Alexis peered over her scanners and into the darkness beyond her canopy. "Shavit..." she cursed as she watched the other freighter already hundreds of kilometers away and sped away into Hyperspace. The ship's comlink beeped quickly, a single message appearing on the screen. It was a text only message from her parents' comm address, a series of star coordinates to some gas giant in the Moddell sector accompanied by only four words: COME HOME. IT'S OVER.