View Full Version : In the Emperor's Shadow (Part 2)

21 October 2005, 10:42 AM
Daska Lane’s throat went dry as he reviewed the openings in the Alliance’s fighter wings. The Battle of Endor, as it was being called, had cost the Rebels many of their best and brightest. To make matters worse, many of the ships were in desperate need of repair and unable to make their way back to Sullust. While it was possible to improvise, it would take longer than Daska considered expedient and he did not hesitate to say so when it was his turn to personally report Gray Flight’s status to Admiral Ackbar. “Admiral, with all due respect, we cannot afford to remain here any longer than is absolutely necessary. If the Imperial Navy is able to amass even a minor task force they will destroy us and all that we have worked for.” He paused and gathered his thoughts before continuing. “We may have won this battle, but there is still a long road ahead of us if we intend to win the war.”
The stubby whiskers hanging from the Admiral’s chin quivered as he let out the Mon Calamari equivalent of a sigh. “Your concern has been noted, Commander, and we will do everything possible to leave as soon as we are able. Until then, your unit will be required as fighter escort to the salvage crews. While our technicians are repairing the damage to Lieutenant Syn’s interceptor, she is free to fly one of Green Squadron’s A-wings.”
The young fighter pilot simply nodded, offered a quick but precise military salute, and left the room, hoping that the rest of the unit would be willing to pull the long hours that escort duty might require. Though his contract with the Alliance was technically completed, Daska had felt that a slight extension would be worthwhile, considering the circumstances. The door to the Admiral’s quarters locked noiselessly behind him, and as he entered the corridor that would lead to the docking bay he nearly ran into a young woman with her hair in traditional Alderaanian braids. He apologized quickly, unintentionally falling into the speech patterns of his home world. “Pardon me, miss…”
The young Alderaanian woman smiled and slowed slightly. Though she looked familiar, Daska was certain that she simply had ‘one of those faces’, a suspicion reinforced by the rather common Alderaanian hair style. “Lane? Daska Lane?” Her smile brightened a bit, and she offered her hand. Hearing her voice, there was no longer any doubt. Daska immediately recognized her as Leia Organa, a former Senator and an old family friend. “It’s been ages. I’m glad to see that you have finally left the Empire. Your father would be proud.”
The pilot winced. His father had been adamantly against his entry in the Academy, and his death at the hands of Moff Tarkin’s superlaser was what finally galvanized Daska’s resolve to leave Imperial service. Even now, speaking of his father left a cold hollow feeling in his gut. Regaining his composure, Daska accepted the princess’s hand and lightly kissed it. “As would yours. I hear you have made quite a name for yourself, Princess.” His voice trailed off as he heard the rushed footsteps of several others in the narrow corridor. The two humans and their enormous furred bodyguard walked casually, though the younger man with the sand colored hair seemed to be in some measure of pain. Daska didn’t recognize them, but from the look in the smuggler’s eyes, he was most assuredly involved with the princess.
Daska’s eyes met Leia’s and they both smiled. On Alderaan, Daska’s father had served as the personal pilot to Senator Organa. The two families were close, and their parents had often suggested that the two of them spend more time together, much to their children’s dismay. Though they got along as friends, they were quite simply too different to ever have a relationship of any substance. With a sheepish grin, he let go of Leia’s hand and sighed. “Well, Princess, I really should get going. It has been a pleasure, as always.” He turned and began to walk away, but was stopped by Leia’s voice.
“Lane.” He turned slowly, and saw the young princess standing with her friends, her hands placed firmly on her hips. “I always knew you’d be one of us someday.”
Smiling, he shook his head and set off down the hallway towards the docking bay where Gray Flight’s fighters were stationed. Mathis Syn, the only female in his unit, was engaged in a heated dispute with the Duros that had been assigned as their mechanic. Daska’s smile widened as he approached, empathetic for the poor luck of the inexperienced Duros technician. Not only had he pulled the most non-standard ships in all the Alliance, but he had the poor luck of crossing Mathis on a bad day. That alone would have been enough to persuade most techs into considering an early retirement. Daska shook his head, deciding that it might be worthwhile to rescue the mechanic, if only to expedite the repairs to their ships. “Lieutenant Syn!”
The young woman spun quickly, straightening herself into a military salute. Her short black hair hung across her face, obscuring the beauty of her elegant features. Ostensibly, the Lieutenant had left the Imperial Navy due to the biases against women, and the sexist views of fellow pilots who claimed that she had somehow gotten her rank only as a result of her promiscuity with commanding officers. As the commanding officer who had given her the promotion, Daska knew the accusations to be false. She held her salute as Daska crossed the spacious flight deck. “Commander Lane.”
Daska could almost see her discomfort growing as he approached. Though there had never been anything more than a professional relationship between the two of them, Daska knew that she valued his opinion and was ashamed to have been caught in a brash moment. He let her stew for a moment, and turned to the technician. “What seems to be the problem?”
The Duros shrugged and opened his mouth to respond, but was quickly cut off by Lieutenant Syn. “The problem? The problem is that this no-talent nerf-for-brains has completely destroyed…” A quick sideways glance from her commander silenced her, allowing the technician to speak.
“The problem, Commander, is that the Lieutenant’s left hyperarray has been slagged.” He tapped his hydrospanner against a section of the ship’s brace that had a large, jagged hole carved into it. The shot hadn’t had quite enough power to blast completely through the brace; otherwise, Lieutenant Syn would have been yet another casualty of war. It had, however, rendered the Interceptor’s experimental hyperdrive unit completely useless. “This isn’t the kind of part I can just order from the factory or scrounge from Ord Mandell. This is state-of-the-art Imperial prototype technology, and I don’t believe I need to remind you that it is also completely illegal technology in all systems within Imperial jurisdiction.”
Daska couldn’t help but smile. The little mechanic was quite a bit more knowledgeable than Daska would have originally given him credit for. “So, what’s your solution?”
The Duros shrugged. “Well, we could always just strip out the hyperdrive completely. It’s not ideal, but there are alternatives. If you’re staying with the Alliance, you’ll always have a carrier available as it is.”
Mathis broke in again. “No. No way, techie. There’s absolutely no way that I am leaving my fate in someone else’s hands. I’m not an expendable pilot anymore, buddy, and I won’t be hauled around as such.”
For the first time since joining the conversation, Daska nodded in agreement. The Duros seemed to get the hint, and shrugged. “Well, we could always try an aftermarket kit. I can mount a pair of Incom Jump-Seventeens onto the solar array panels. Not as elegant as what you’ve got here, but it will work. Probably get you somewhere past one-twenty five.”
Daska shook his head. The Incom hyperdrive was significantly slower than their current model, but it was currently their only option. “And what would you do with the space in the struts?”
The tech just smiled and tapped his hydrospanner against the hull. “Oh, I’ll think of something.”

3 November 2005, 05:51 PM
I only hope the tech's smart enough not to still have it in for Lt. Syn. I haven't been to this forum for awhile, or I would have ocmmented on this second part of what is shaping up to be a most interesting work. However, it did seem that the last edition was around the time of the Battle of Yavin. Ah vell, guess I'm not as observant as I thought.

Good work Tao, and do please keep it up!