Edged by the Empire
Episode 09 Adversity of the Unexpected
Ticket to Ride
A pair of grey Aratech 74-Z speeder bikes – modified to have no flight ceiling – flew westward from the city of Shoribus, the capital city of Kabal in the Mayagil Sector, on a personal mission. Smuggler Hondo Pash‘s sister Yuzy and mother Doro were abducted by his father, whom he recently learned was an Imperial Admiral named Keargan Kanu. To retrieve them, he would have to find Admiral Kanu. The only clue as to where Kanu might be is his secret weapon cache located upon the vast Skolaris Cliff.
As they passed over thick swamps with winding rivers and the occasional gargantuan trees that towered over everything else, Giin Lawquane, the armored mercenary and security officer in the other speeder spoke via his helmet comlink, “Bothth. What if Yuzy doethn’t want to come back with uth?”
“I don’t know what I’ll do, Giin.”
“You know. It’th been a while thinthe I conthidered anyone to be friendth. In fact, it’th been ten yearth thinthe I let anyone near enough for me to call them a friend. Hondo, I conthider you, my friend.”
Two more 74-Z speeder bikes. painted dark red and piloted by droids, flew up from the swamp canopy in pursuit. The first droid fired his mounted blaster, but missed. This, of course, captured Hondo and Giin’s attention.
Giin said, “You thee, bothth, I only do thingth like thith for my friendth.” And he veered to the left then to the right, trying to skew the droid’s concentration. Hondo’s DL-17 blaster pistol was in his hand as he spun and fired. A red bolt struck one of the droid’s arm which jerked down, pulling the handlebars downward. The droid’s speeder dropped down and rammed into a large monolithic tree.
The remaining droid was unperturbed by Giin’s riding and fired at Hondo and scoring a glancing blow. Hondo, still in control of his superficially damaged vehicle, aimed and blasted at his attacker. The droid’s chest erupted in a miasma of sparks and smoke, but he hung on to his speeder.
Suddenly, Giin braked and came alongside the injured droid, his EE-3 blaster rifle unslung. The droid, still shaken by the blast, reacted too late. The point blank shot disintegrated the droid, a beat-up Z-X3, he noticed, and the riderless speeder spiralled down and crashed into a wide river beneath them.
The two sped on wondering why they were attacked.
I Saw Her Standing There
Soon they were riding above a lifeless plain of jagged, broken rocks. Then a colossal natural cliff loomed into view. The wall extended to the north and south. Thick clouds obscured the view of anything above approximately five hundred metres. They had arrived at Skolaris Cliff.
They increased their altitudes to a hundred meters. Hondo took the lead in the search, but found nothing. Then Giin took the lead and climbed even higher to two hundred metres. It was then that he spotted something another hundred metres higher: an old BFF-1 bulk freighter that had crashed and rested precariously on top of a rocky ledge that looked too fragile for comfort. From its hull weathering, it appeared that the 120-metre-long freighter had been there for more than a century.
Suddenly the speeders bucked violently, throwing them about in the air. No wonder no one else found the wreckage, there was a stratum of dangerously strong winds at its altitude and the perpetual clouds obscured it visually from above. They were unable to climb higher, but Hondo’s piloting skill – and Giin duplicating the smuggler’s moves – safely pulled them out of the winds that threatened to smash them against the cliff. They landed below safely.
Every Little Thing
Leaving the speeder bikes behind, the two searched the base of the cliff. The desperate Hondo saw a doorway – recently built – hidden among nearby boulders. They sneaked in, weapons ready. It was a small cavern, an antechamber to what appeared to be an Imperial-made elevator door. Giin barked, “We’re not alone!”
Two Z-X3 droids – similar as the ones on the speeder bikes – attacked from the shadows from the left and right. Hondo’s shot missed the assailant on the left. The droid scored a blast at Hondo’s shoulder, injuring him considerably. Giin slid closer to the one of the right, and took it out spectacularly before turning to the one that shot Hondo.
The remaining droid considered Giin to be the greater threat and aimed at him. Hondo blasted its midsection, causing it to miss its shot. Giin sprinted closer and fired again, his EE-3 totally immolating and virtually disintegrating the old droid.
“Why do you help him?” came a voice. It was Zenep Tchek, the Sakiyan bounty hunter, whom had abducted Giin once before on Naboo. Hondo had blasted him with a blaster cannon, but he fell into a river. Evidently, he was not unhurt by the encounter. He now wore a prosthetic eye. Ugly scars ran down one side of his bald head and neck. There were fresh synthflesh patches on his bare forearms. He levelled a DL-18 blaster pistol at them.
The Sakiyan continued, “Why don’t we hand him over to the Empire? There’s a five hundred thousand credit reward for his head. We’ll each get two hundred and fifty thousand. You’ll be rich, richer than you’ve ever been.”
Hondo thought for several moments and then said, “I don’t think so!” His DH-17 flashed and grazed the bounty hunter’s side. Tchek’s return fire caught Hondo on his left flank, wounding him even more. Giin rushed in and blasted Tchek in his chest. The Sakiyan fell into a smoking heap on the floor, dead.
Giin grabbed Hondo’s medpac and tried to fix his friend’s wound. It was not a perfect patch, but it would do, Hondo thought. (3 Body Points restored.)
“Hondo,” Giin asked. “Why did you not turn me in?”
Hondo winced at the pain on his torso and said, “Because you are like family.”
“Thankth,” said Giin and embraced Hondo, and they both entered the elevator.
They found themselves in the engine room of a starship; to be precise, the BFF-1 bulk freighter wreckage 300 metres above the ground. Power was out, and they tried in vain to restart the ship’s power.
The climbed up to the next deck and saw rows of cryotubes. All were empty and unpowered except one that had its own power core. Within was a sleeping insectoid Verpine, its perpetually open compound eyes looking out into infinity.
Hondo checked the panel on its side and discovered that his name was Kerk Korpil and he had been asleep for three hundred years! Hondo had qualms about waking him up, but Giin thought perhaps the Verpine could help. However, the entire bulk freighter suddenly rumbled and vibrated ominously and Giin was unable to stabilise the reanimation cycle. The transparisteel lid popped open, the Korpil sat up, blabbered in Basic, “I need to get back to the Roche Asteroid Field! The Roche Asteroid Field! Quickly! Quickly! I have a great idea! A great idea! Build! Construct! Engineer! Great idea!” Then the Verpine fell onto the deck, alive but unconscious.
“Thorry bothth. I’m not much of a medic, but what wath that about?” Giin wondered
They explored further. The ship appeared to be fully stripped of any loose equipment and there were debris strewn and panels left open everywhere. In the port cargo module, Hondo searched and found a datapad, a slicer tool kit and a cache of two grenades. Hidden under a loose floor plating was a bandolier of five thermal detonators! Hondo said, “Jackpot!”
Meanwhile, Hondo had dug up a pair of infra-red goggles and a box containing 3000 credits, which they put into their ship’s income pool.
Climbing up to the flight deck, they found station consoles for the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, engineer and other crew members. Intriguingly, there was also a fresh, new holographic station connected to modern Imperial crypto communication console that was installed relatively recently. Admiral Kanu’s discarded gear when this was his secret cache? wondered Hondo. They discovered a medic’s station and found a pair of unused stimpack. Giin grabbed one, saying, “I think the technician could help us.”
They both rushed down to the unconscious Verpine. Giin applied the stimpack, waking him up with a jolt. The Verpine ignored them and started hurriedly walking from wall to wall, chattering to himself, “Roche! Roche Asteroid Field! That’s my home! I’m late! I need to get home! I have an idea! It’s the Kyromaster! I’ll call it the Kyromaster! It’ll be the best starfighter engine ever! I’ll build this engine in Roche!” Suddenly he noticed Hondo and Giin, and asked, “Who are you? Who are you? Why are you here?”
“I’m Hondo. This is Giin. We just found you in this wrecked freighter and woke you up from a 300 year sleep.”
“What? No! You’re nobody! You’re nobody! You can’t help me to build the Kyromaster! it’s an engine. It’s an engine, you see! I have to build it back at Roche!”
Giin said, “Okay, this is taking too long. You’re a Verpine. Can you repair this freighter, so we can fly out of here and take you home?”
The Verpine started tapping on the console, flipping panels and reconnecting cables in the engine room, but nothing was happening. “No! No! This isn’t right! I have to get back to Roche! To make the Kyromaster! These two can’t help me! Can’t help me!” He ran up to the bridge to access the computer at the engineer’s station.
In Spite of All the Danger
That was when the three cyborgs attacks. A human, a Rodian and an Aqualish: their heads and bodies mutilated haphazardly by metal plates, modules, cables and hoses. A pair of blinking red cylinders were affixed onto the side of their scalps. Their glassy eyes also glowed red and their right forearms were surgically implanted with blasters, which they all pointed at Hondo and Giin as they leapt out of the floor hatch from the deck below.
They said in a haunting monotone and electronically-modulated voice, “All hail Darth Cassed! Death to the Jedi lovers!” It was the same types of cyborg – the slaves of Darth Cassed – that exploded at the Shoribus hospital earlier!
Hondo lobbed a grenade at them, which missed, bounced off the deck once and fell into the deck beneath where it exploded. Hondo slapped his forehead. And the blast caused the entire bulk freighter to list to one side and stopped when the floor was at a forty degree angle to the starboard. From behind the engineer’s station Korpil was saying “No more explosion! No more explosions! Or no Kyromaster will be made!”
One of the cyborgs managed to hit Hondo’s thigh with a glancing shot before the human cyborg was dispatched. Giin lunged forward and tore the Aqualish in half – no blood, only wild sparks and smoke – with his blaster rifle.
The final cyborg, the Rodian said, “All hail Darth Cassed!” and jumped back down into the next deck. Hondo tried to follow, but he saw the Rodian turn at the doorway at the far end of the deck. His eyes began to glow even brighter. The Rodian exploded!
“The ship is falling!” cried Korpil! “All your fault! No Kyromaster! No Kyromaster!”
The entire ship was listing and sliding off the ledge, too heavy for the winds to smash against the cliff side. Giin grabbed the Verpine and yelled, “Do something about it, bug! If you save this ship, then you will return to Roche!” (There was a Triumph on Coercion.)
Suddenly, Kerk Korpil had snapped out of it. He looked around, then started to fiddle with the engineering console. Through the forward transparisteel viewport, Hondo could see the sky pivoting upwards and the hard rocky ground replacing it in his view. They were airborn and freefalling. Gravity blinked out like a ghost. Korpil grappled with his console, and finally slapped a large red button. A hum could be heard. Lights appeared on the walls and on every console. The engine and repulsorlift status blinked green. The ship now had power and they had seconds before they end up as squashed bugs!
Hondo (rolling a success in Agility) zero-g-manoeuvred himself down the flight deck to reach the pilot’s station. He flipped several switches and pulled back on the control yoke. Giin was petrified, but the old starship veered up and away from the ground!
They were flying!
Giin, who had fallen onto the deck after gravity returned quickly, stood up and walked to Hondo. Slapping him on his shoulder, Giin said, “Have I ever told you you are the betht pilot I know?”
Behind them, Korpil who seemed more coherent than he had ever been, asked, “Would you mind transporting me back to Roche? I’ll pay six thousand credits for it.”
Hondo smiled as he plotted a course back to Shoribus.
Here Comes the Sun
En route back to the city, Hondo activated the Imperial crypto communication gear. (A Success upon using the slicer tool kit that gave him 2 Boost dice for his Computer skill pool.) He found that Admiral Kanu had four secret bases around the galaxy. The bases on Excarga, Kinooine and Thila had been written off and abandoned. The one in the Shadda-Bi-Boran system was also abandoned but still in operation.
For a moment, they were hailed as heroes when they returned to Shoribus. When the media discovered about the landing of lost local legendary treasure ship the Mimban Wanderer, reporters and their camera droids, historical society officials, city officials met them at the landing bay. A reporter asked Hondo, “Hundreds of treasure hunters have been looking for the Mimban Wanderer for centuries! It’s a local legend! How did you find it?”
“We were lucky, I guess,” Hondo replied.
There was supposed to be banquet in their honour that evening at the Grand Shoribus Hotel, but Hondo, Giin and Korpil skipped out on it as they had more work to do. Soon the YT-1300 light freighter Lava Jaeger had left Kabal behind and was back in the spacelanes. Several hours later, they Korpil had returned to his home asteroid in the Roche field in the Mid Rim. The current hive leader thanked them for his return, and paid them six thousand credits, which made Hondo very pleased. Swiftly they headed back out to the Outer Rim Territories.
The Lava Jaeger came out of hyperspace into a radiation warning zone. The central star of the Shadda-Bi-Boran was emitting high levels of deadly radiation which the ship’s shields had adjusted itself to absorb. Giin said, “This looks inviting.”
The ship detected a beacon signal. Hondo piloted them toward the source of the signal. It was an asteroid, oblong and flat – three klicks along its long axis. There was a tower of rock that grew 200 metres off its flat surface. As they flew closer they saw artificial constructs built into the tower of rock. Suddenly, a light came on. It was a hangar bay. Its doors slid open while a forcefield kept its air within.
“Are you sure, bothth?” Giin asked nervously. “Thith ith an Imperial bathe after all.”
“We’re going in,” Hondo said and the Lava Jaeger glided into the hangar bay, landing beside a Lambda-class shuttle that seemed to be the same one that blasted its way off Spiralblade Island with Yuzy.
“Stay here,” Hondo told the ship’s astromech droids, R2-8D8 and R5-K2. His DH-17 ready, he carefully walked down the ship’s ramp. Giin followed him not with his EE-3, but with his less-often used weapon, the large blaster cannon he had called the Ameliorator-7.
They approached the blast doors that led into the main base. Suddenly, the blast doors slid open. A pair of Imperial stormtrooper squads rushed out in two single, disciplined files, flanking the both. Eight troopers stood on each side, but their weapons were not drawn.
Then someone appeared from the door. He was in an Imperial admiral’s uniform. He looked like Hondo, but was thirty years older and his hair was grey. Behind the man, came Yuzy and Doro. Yuzy was grinning and waving madly at her brother. Her mother held her shoulder in silence, clearly in apprehension.
“Welcome, son,” said Admiral Keargan Kanu. “I thought I would have to get you later after I’ve secured the safety of your mother and sister, but I’m glad you found your way to us before we relocated.” The will-someone-tell-me-what’s-going-on expression on Hondo was very palpable. Giin looked shaken.
“You see, Hondo,” Kanu said. “Once upon a time I fell in love with your mother and married her. I was an Republic officer. She was not. As time goes by, as the Republic turned into the Empire. She became its staunch opponent. But she showed me, convinced me of how evil this Galactic Empire is. So I gathered my most loyal troops, faked your mother’s death so the Empire would not target her. I bid my time and built my own safe haven for our family and my people to escape the clutches of the Empire.”
“But you took Yuzy.”
“Yuzy came to me when I needed to leave Spiralblade Island on Blue Nirvada quickly as other Imperial ships had discovered where your mother was hiding and we needed to evacuate her quickly. So I took her aboard without a second thought and quickly took off.”
Hondo mind was spinning.
“Come with us, son. We have to leave now and if we do, we’ll live our lives away from the grasp of the Empire.”
Hondo realised that Giin’s headache appeared to worsen. He was trembling and he held his head with his hands and grunting with pain. Suddenly Giin stopped. He straightened himself and looked at Hondo calmly. He said, “Leave the Empire? I don’t think so, traitor.”
Admiral Kanu froze and said, “Hondo, what have you done?”
Then, Giin pressed on a wrist comlink and said. “Now!”
Alarm klaxons blared. The speakers droned, “Admiral! We have incoming!”
The wall holoprojectors activated and displayed a horrifying scene: a flotilla of five Imperator-class Star Destroyers, assorted smaller capital combat starships and their tenders had jumped into the system and was cruising in an attack phalanx toward their asteroid base.
“Giin!” Hondo blurted out. “What have you done?”
- Shadda-Bi-Boran was mentioned in a delete scene and the novelisation of Attack of the Clones.
- Kerk Korpil, like Darth Cassed, has a namesake on the Holonet Forums.
- The Kyromaster engine will eventually be used in the B-Wing fighter, but how did the designs get to the Quadex corporation?
- Remember blasting the crap out of BFF-1 in the X-Wing space combat simulator game?
- FIRST GAME OF THE YEAR!