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lynnlefey
19 April 2003, 12:08 PM
Falleen. The Corellian run. As usual.

Zhetar, the Twi-lek first mate, sat at the helm of the controls of the CT-200, headed out of port. She punched the buttons on the nav computer. Two minutes till the computations returned. The sky ahead of her darkened and the stars brightened as the atmosphere rarified. The captain was back having drinks with VIPs. As usual.

On board were several diplomatic couriers, headed to Coruscant. Little did they know that there was also several kilos of very nice mytrial gems stowed in the first mate's footlocker. The sight of such beauty nearly made her tingle. She just needed to make it to Correlia. She had a fence there...

She watched the scopes intently. She'd seen some unpleasant signs, starting at Rodia. Was that any wonder? An entire species looking for an excuse to hunt someone down and kill them. No doubt Mreev Vradril had a ransom out by now. He would certainly notice the absence of 30 grand in gems. Mreev had taught Zhetar well, perhaps too well, she thought. She'd seen him doublecross one too many 'associates', and decided to sever ties with her former mentor.

"When you spot an opportunity, exploit it", he was fond of saying. She'd spotted it. Could you blame her?

She supposed the bounty on her could now be as high as 15K. She was worth much more as a bounty than she'd ever been as a lackey. That ate at her. The sneaking feeling that the approaching blip on the scopes was destiny calling ate at her more. Something about destiny knocking... what was the saying? She had never realized destiny used ion drives.

The vector of the ship was too close to an intercept coarse for coincidence. She pressed an intercom button, and in her silky lilt spoke, "Captain Harding, please report to the bridge". She thought it was likely that she was hired on as first mate because of her looks, and her disarming voice. Almost a stewardess, instead of a pilot. Her life was one degrading episode after another.

The blip was gaining fast. The speed was like a starfighter, but the signature was too big. Worse, it was broadcasting no registration ID. She couldn't even guess at the ship design.

"Unidentified craft, this is the courier vessel, Nightglide. You are on an intercept coarse, please state your business", she said, remaining calm. She had a gift. She could consciously control her body language and her vocal inflections. She could present whatever emotion she wanted. It was a great asset in the confidence game. She hoped it would work now.

Normally, she would wait for the captain to give the order to raise shields, but as he seemed to be taking his sweet time in getting to the bridge, she activated them herself.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we may experience some turbulence. I would suggest returning to your seats and fastening restraints. I hope this is not too much of an inconvenience", Zhetar said, feeling her heart in her throat. She sat down in front of the primary controls, buckled in, and powered up the quad turret, then laid her palm on the throttle and waited. It was only seconds before the violent shake of laser fire.

She punched the throttle and broke hard to port, putting the ship in an erratic spiral. Thirty eight seconds to hyperspace. The bursts of laser fire flew past from behind. Zhetar leveled out of the jinking long enough for some convincing return fire, but the pursuer was adept at dodging. She muttered curses under her breath.

The door to the cockpit slid open, and the captain trudged up the corridor. Another hard jerk shook the ship. Zhetar watched her boss slam against a bulkhead and collapse. The alarm sounded, designating that the aft shields had collapsed. She frantically worked the controls, trying to angle the deflectors when the next hit rocked the ship. Another alarm sounded. There was a hull breach. She only saw a streak of the vessel and the lights of its ion drives as it roared past. She had a few moments as it circled.

She took quick stock of the condition of Nightglide. She was streaming atmosphere. Zhetar signaled abandon ship. She heard the first pod eject, and watched in horror as the assailing vessel returned and picked off the escape pod. Life support auxiliaries had locked in, and blast doors had sealed off the hold. The weapons were off-line, and the power core was in flux. If she couldn't lock it down, she'd have to shut the core down completely. That meant losing any chance of escaping into hyperspace.

The next shot echoed explosions through the hull. She could hear people screaming. The emergency blast door was attempting to close, but the captain lay across the threshold. Sparks flew from the main controls. She couldn't tell if the core was down or whether it was going to blow. She unbuckled and bolted aft.

The nicely appointed courtesy room was strewn with expensive liquids and delicate stemware, as well as bodies; two Twi-leks, two Humans, and a Bothan.

She felt the clang of hulls locking. Whoever was after them was about to board.

The twi-lek... the female. She was about the right size. She had a nice green skin. It was close enough, particularly with her injuries.

Zhetar struggled with the body, dragging it to the cockpit. The woman was wearing a tight designer bodysuit. Nothing too opulent. It would pass as a pilot's normal wear. Zhetar rifled through the arm pouch of her outfit, and took the hip pack. She could hear the torch cutting the airlock.

She bolted for the courier's cabin. The door slid closed behind her and her eyes darted about the room.

"Come on, girl... make this work", she thought. Datapad, wardrobe, trendy little blaster. She closed her eyes. She could hear the airlock fall in, clanging against the deck plating. She snatched up the datapad, and flicked through it. She set it on the bunk and began sliding into another of the courier's bodysuits. This one was unmistakably more businesslike... except the fit was a bit too snug. The suit was skin tight on her. She slid into matching boots while skimming the datafiles. She pulled a credit chip from the hip pack, and instinctively slid it into her boot.

She heard the unmistakable sound of blaster fire... presumably finishing the passengers, or perhaps the captain. She'd have to make this look convincing. She slammed her head forward into the corner of the bunk, hoping to make it look like she'd been knocked unconscious. It worked a bit too well, and she felt her knees buckle.

She faded into gray.

She woke with the armored boot jabbing her in the ribs. Her eyes fluttered open. She didn't recognize the style of armor. The helmet seemed to indicate a human. Hard to tell, though. A quick glance of her captor showed that he clutched the small pouch holding the gems.

He held a blaster rifle, but was not pointing it at her. He stood silently for a moment.

Her eyes involuntarily fell to the floor, and the pool of her own blood. Convincing. Too convincing.

"I have no more business here. I've set the distress beacon", the stoic figure stated, and slipped off.

She reached for the datapad again. It belonged to Krenna Talfa. She had a special place in her mind where she saved such information. Zhetar was dead. It would be Krenna Talfa who awoke. She clutched the datapad and slid back into the gray.

Darklighter
19 April 2003, 05:09 PM
Hey, this is a great story, lynnlefey! Thanks for sharing it with us. :)