The Guy in Back

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Arron's View
Heroes are made, not born. We may like to read stories when the hero has some predestined ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. However, in reality heroes are made by the situations they find themselves in. Those true heroes rise to these occasions, despite their limitations, to master the situations and themselves. This is one such story.

Submitted: April 03, 2016

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Submitted: April 03, 2016

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Introduction

This is my second attempt at fan fiction. As I have said in my earlier work I am the world's worse proof reader and I am solely depended on my word processor to pick out the errors. Please bear with me with these.

When I looked at the six Star Wars movies I was interested not only with the main characters, but in what was going on in the background. We can't all be heroes and have mastered Jedi force powers. What about the poor jerks in the back that only seems to exist on the periphery of the story. They never see any of the action nor do we care if they exist or not. That is not how real life is lived or real war is fought. This story tried to fill in some of the blanks. I hope you enjoy it. I can be contacted at wilberarron at my gmail account. Again this is not my real name.

Star Wars is copyrighted by George Lucus and the Disney Company

 

 

"Hand me the flux spanner," he called down to his floor tech.

The Mon Calamari tech handed up the tool. He took it and applied it to the actuator on the port X-Wing grav module that powered the inertial damper. He slowly turned it adjusting the gravimetric field while watching the field pattern on his scanner screen. When the scanner showed the field generated by the module formed the perfect oval shape along the axis of the X-Wing he stopped. He looked at the adjustment. It was almost over to the max.

"That grav module won't last too much longer being treated like this," he said to the tech and carefully climbed down the maintenance ladder to the ferrocrete deck.

He reached instinctively for his support cane to prop himself up. He walked over and saw the Maintenance Chief looking over some blast repairs to the lower left wing mount.

"Take that cover plate and replace it," the tall human barked. "I can see from here it's shot."

The senior flight tech removed it and threw it to the floor. It shattered when it hit the ferrocrete surface. Good call by the Chief.

"Chief, I fixed the grav module in the damper, but it isn't going to last," he told him. "A few move emergency turns by our hotshot pilot and it will break for sure."

Chief got slightly red in the face. He thought for a second he was going to be chewed out, but the Chief stopped and shook his head in frustration. "Do what you can," he said angrily. "I got two A-Wings, a Y-Wing and a B-Wing out with bad dampers and I got damn few spares. The ones I have go to the X-Wings. Kryll's, policy, they get priority."

"Any idea on replacements," he wanted to know?

The Chief broke out in a laugh. "Boy, you got to be kidding me," he said. "I haven't seen a new damper or grav module since I got to this dump."

"Well we better get some soon," he said with his own trace of frustration, "Or our hero boys are going to be walking to their next battle with the Empire."

The Maintenance Chief just shook his head and went back to his job. Out here on the edge, parts, supplies, and appreciation were all in about equal supply. This was not the core, where the main forces and their glorious heroes hug out. Out here it was jump a convoy, grab the stash, blast a couple of TIEs, then run like hell before someone big showed up. The Empire had cruisers, carriers, and a few old Dreadnaughts along with more TIEs than you could shake a stick at. They had a wing of X-Wings, half a squadron of A-Wings, a Squadron of B-Wing and two squadrons of Y-wings. All of them so far past their major overhaul due dates, the pilots should be awarded medals just to climb into them. Did anyone at the Rebel Alliance care one tiny bit? Not a snowball's chance in hell of that.

He hobbled on his walking stick back to his electronics shop. He had half a dozen grav modules there he was trying to refurbish. Despite the policy and procedure's book telling him you are insane for even trying this, he had managed to fix about a dozen of them in the last period. It was complicated, slow, work, but there were at least eight X-Wings that were still flying because of it. Did anyone utter one word of thanks for his work; another snowball's chance. All he was to these people was the Crip because of his bad leg and walking stick.

As he walked down the long hallway toward his shop he past some new female medical staff. The girls had tans which meant they hadn't been locked up in the hidden asteroid base for very long. He had forgotten what a sun was; never mind what it was to stand under one.

"Ladies," he said with a respectful bow of the head.

The women turned away and didn't even reply. Then again with his limp, the cane, and his ghost white pale skin, prime male material he was not. Well he never joined the Rebellion for romantic company.

He walked on toward the tech shop when there were two beeps from his wristcomm. He reached down and hit the com stub. "Chief Technical Specialist Wilson," he reported.

"Wilson, this is Major Subat. Come to my office immediately."

That stuck him as strange. In the two years he'd been here he had maybe been in the CO's office twice to give some report that was duly ignored. He raised the wristcomm to his lips. "Wilson, acknowledge, on my way."

What was that about he wondered? What had he done wrong this time? He couldn't think of anything. The CO didn't see anyone except the Ops Officer, Supply Officer and Security Officer. He didn't mess with the commoners. That's why he was so loved by his staff. The techs were all under Captain Francine who knew as much about engineering as he knew about ancient Wookie tribal art. He limped down the ferrocrete and stainless steel tube toward the central core of the asteroid. His short gate and limp meant it took him a few minutes to get there. Outside the steel door marked 'Base Commandant' stood two armored guards with Blastech heavy blaster rifles at the ready. Both were tall and heavily built. He walked up and automatically presented his ID disk to the lead guard. He took it and put it in his bio scanner. They both read it and looked at a sensor display. "The Commander is waiting, Tech, go on in."

The guard opened the door into a five by five meter room covered in maps, reports and outlines of the base. Behind the baby face and petite body of his young CO, sat a woman, maybe in her late twenties. She was not beautiful, but she was attractive. Next to her a familiar face, Captain, now Major Arkenn Ranker.

"Specialist Tech Wilson, reporting as ordered" he said standing upright. Since he was not in the military anymore, he did not salute.

"Relax Wilson," the CO said in his high pitch voice. "I think you know Major Ranker and this person is Captain Ilene Marcom, our new Force and Security Chief. Major Ranker will be taking over here as I have been reassigned.

"Yes, Major," he said keeping his face empty of the emotion of relief.

"Major Ranker has a job he wants you to do. As you know our spare parts situation for our fighters is getting critical."

He wondered what amazing Jedi Force powers had led his fearless leader to that revelation. He said nothing and remained looking straight ahead.

"We have a plan to have the Empire solve our problem for us. Please continue Major."

Ranker got up and smiled. "Nice to see you again, Allen." he said in a friendly voice. "We know the Empire is sending a resupply convoy to their base on Tabar. In one of those ships, there is a full supply of grav modules, flight control panels, and computer spares. Not the usual third rate crap, this is good Sienar stuff. I know we can modify them for use in our fighters. Problem is none of us know what stuff to grab. We won't have a huge amount of time; maybe an hour or so before the Imperials get wise to us. I need you to go into a captured robo-freighter with a field team led by Captain Marcom and find the stuff we need in a hurry."

That sounded like a nice job, only he couldn't do it.

"Sir, since Hoth, I am not in a hurry about anything," he said and touched his cane to his withered left leg.

"I know, but you can walk a few hundred meters and that is all that we will need," Major Ranker went on. "You are the only one who knows what this stuff is. Without you we will waste time opening every box in the cargo hold and that is time we do not have."

He turned to face the Captain who made no secret of hiding the scow on her face. "If you don't mind dragging the Crip around, it is ok with me."

"No choice civi, we leave tomorrow, can you pull your stuff together that fast?"

He nodded.

"Can you use one of these," she said and took out her Blas-tech heavy blaster pistol.

"I was trained on the DL-44s in flight school.

That seemed to startle her. "You are a pilot," she said.

"Large ship pilot," he explained. "I was completing training at Hoth when the base fell. I was doing emergency maintenance on the field coil of the shield generator when one of AT-AT's blasted a heavy laser next to me. The power coupling exploded and shredded my left leg. Thanks to the Captain, now Major, I got out on the med transport. Since you can't fly without both arm and leg controls, I got washed out of flight school and became a tech."

"What was a pilot doing at the shield generator," she asked?

"They needed volunteers who understood grav field coils," he went on. "That is what I did back home before I joined."

She actually seemed impressed for a moment then went back to her hard ass look of scorn. "Very well, you will have to do."

"Thank you too," he felt like saying but just stood silently.

His baby face Major then looked at the clock. "Be at docking bay 3 at 15:00 tomorrow with any stuff you need. "Make it light since you will have to move fast ahhh… err..." he stammered as he looked at his left leg.

"Yes sir," he said and turned and left.

# # #

"I was looking over your PIF 1402 form and something struck me as strange," the Captain said sitting in her seat. They were sitting forward in the Assault Shuttle with the rest of a ten man strike team behind them. Two cargo men and a Twl'leks engineer for the shuttle's engines completed their group.

"What's that?" he muttered.

"Why would someone with advance degrees in Gravimetric Field and Flight Control design, sign up as a freighter pilot. I figured you to be working in some Incom lab designing parts for sub fighters."

"I was," he said. "I never wanted anything to do with the Empire or the Rebellion. "I had a job lined up at Sienar with my fiancée I had meet at University of Ceti. She wanted to go back to tell her parents about our marriage. They lived in Dawson City on Alderaan."

"Oh," the Captain said face going a little red. "Sorry, didn't know."

"Not your business to know," he told her hoping she take the hint. "In any case I wanted back at the Empire, and figured I could do that best as a pilot. I didn't have the reflexes for snub fighters so I signed up for Capital Ship training. I was fairly good at it only the Rebellion didn't have many cruisers at the time. They put me in freighters until the fleet was built up. Then came Hoth the rest is history. Now I fix things in this asshole of the galaxy and I have to let others do my fighting for me."

"And that bothers you?" she added curiously.

Great, he was stuck with another Jedi Master. He took a deep breath and went back to checking his sensors.

"Freighter in sight," he heard the pilot say. "We are making our approach now.

"Fighter cover," the Captain barked into her wristcomm.

"This is Red Leader, our X-wings took care of the six fighters on patrol. The Y-Wings blasted the light carrier. No one else is around, Captain."

"Morris," she shouted back. "I want you to link with the freighter's computer and shut down all internal programs. Rest of my team will go in and secure the perimeter."

"If you can," he added. "Have him pull up the cargo manifest. Have him sort it by shipper name. Only a few companies make the stuff we need. It will be faster that way. When he gets it, transfer it to my datapad."

She looked back, "Do it!" she ordered.

When he was sure he had all his equipment working, he reached down and took his DL-44 blaster's primary safety off.

The Captain looked surprised he remembered. "I hope you won't need that."

"Not half as much as I do," he said.

"Coming up now," the pilot called back. He looked through the front window at the large freighter in front of them. The pilot maneuvered the Assault Shuttle in between the central spine of the freighter and lip of the outer cargo bay. He put it down squarely on the landing pad next to the airlock, exactly where a transfer shuttle would land. He felt the maglocks engaged and the outer airlock cone extend to the freighter's airlock to seat it airtight. They could now walk into the freighter without Environment suits.

"Last stop," the pilot said getting up.

"I'm in the main computer," one of the black suited soldiers said working his data scanner feverishly. A few seconds later he called out, "Internal systems are down."

"Ok," the pilot said and walked into the airlock. "Balancing pressures now. Once second and I will have the door open. He heard the hiss of pressure and the metal clang of the airlock door sliding up.

"I need help manually opening the freighter airlock," the pilot said. "Stu, come and help me."

The copilot got up and moved in. He heard them grunt and then the sound of bearings catching and the airlock swinging open.

"What the…." he heard from the pilot followed by a shout of "NO!" from the co-pilot.

"PHAM. . . PHAM . . . PHAM. . .PHAM," he heard a heavy blaster cut loose. An instant later both the pilot and co-pilot flew back through the airlock like flung rag dolls onto the flight control. Both bodies had been flash burned and were smoking.

"PHAM. . .PHAM. . . PHAM… he saw blaster bolts tear into the flight crew and the flight controls sending sparks and metal debris everywhere.

Both he and the Captain threw themselves down on the floor. He was reaching for his blaster and she was bringing up her blaster carbine. A second later a floating white globe maybe a meter in diameter drifted into the cabin.

"Frak!" the Captain shouted, "An Imperial Security Droid, BLAST IT!"

He raised his blaster and started pulling the trigger. The Captain did likewise. Then heavy blaster bolts came from the strike team in the back. In seconds the floating ball was covered in blaster fire. It turned and looked to try and get a lock on something, but it was getting hit too hard and too fast by the combined fire. Finally its shield shorted out and it fell like lead to the Shuttle's floor with a thud.

It took him a second to realize it was over. He got up with his cane keeping his blaster squarely pointed at the now inert object that was smoking as badly as the control panel. Two of the strike team came up hunched down and keeping their blaster rifles on the droid. He looked behind and saw the fire suppressor. '

"Masks," he called out and pulled his breather mask down over his mouth. He pointed the extinguisher at the control panel and the droid and released the blue foam putting out the fire before it could consume them all.

"What the hell was that," the engineer called out from the back.

"Morris," I thought you said the internal security system was off," she yelled at the hapless trooper her face as red as a Garon Beetle.

"I did," he yelled back. "The damn thing must have been set to manual."

He walked up and looked at the slumped over bodies of the flight screw. They were flash burned in at least three places each. He didn't have to get out his bio-scanner. They were fried. He then looked at the control panel and saw the still smoking and sparking ruins of the electronics. The control panel was equally fried. Smoke filled his nose with the odors of burnt insulation and fried power cells. He felt a bump at this side. It was the Captain looking over his shoulder.

"Both crew and ship fried," he told her. "We are going nowhere without a salvage tug."

He let that sink in for a second before he heard the Twl'leks engineer wail. 'We're stuck here. This was our only way home."

"Stow it!" the Captain yelled.

"We can't do anymore here," he said out loud.

The Captain turned around, "Mason, Atlar, Moscone," outside and scan. We need to know if there are any more of these damn things floating around."

Three blacked suits figures rushed by them weapons at the ready and moved quickly out into the docking port. At least he didn't hear any more shooting. The Captain then got on her wristcomm.

"Black Leader to Red One," she said.

"Red One, he could hear from the speaker.

"We ran into a security droid, the flight crew is dead and the shuttle is fried. We can't leave." Her voice was ragged, but clam under the circumstances.

"We don't have a replacement and the Imperials will be back in less than an hour," the X-Wing flight leader said voice sounding excited. "We can't get you out."

"Roger, stay close as long as you can, but don't get trapped here. Any Imperials show up, you bug out, and that's an order."

There was a short delay before he heard the answer. "Roger, will comply."

"Let's go, everyone out," she yelled and moved into the freighter.

He grabbed his walking stick and followed her as fast as he could. Once through the short airlock connection he came out into the cargo loading bay. He removed his mask and looked around. It was empty except for a few cargo movers. The freighter was clean, almost new looking. By now the rest of the strike team had scattered searching out other threats.

It was him, the Captain, and the engineer. The short Twl'leks engineer was shaking, looking as if he was about to cry. The Captain was looking at her scanner, trying to get some idea of what to do.

"We are stuck here," she cursed. "The Imperial come back, and we're a sitting duck. All they have to do is land one company of bucket heads, and we are all dead."

With that the engineer did start to whimper. She was right, they were going no place in that shuttle and all they could do is fight to the last when the Imperials showed up. If they were lucky, they all be killed. Then he looked around at the freighter. There was nothing wrong with it.

"You!" he called to the engineer. "Can you work these engines?"

The short Twl'leks tech looked startled at his outburst. The Captain turned with a face that was wondering what got into him.

"I said can you work these engines?" he barked.

"If there are standard Natar engines, yes," he replied in a whimper.

He next turned to the Captain. "Any of your people know engineering or navigation"

Now the young Captain looked at him a red tinge of red on her cheeks. "Who the hell said you are in charge," she said.

"That dead shuttle did," he said pointing at the airlock. "Now answer the question," he said loudly, before adding a polite, "Please."

The Captain thought for a second. "Orkott and Morris have engineering background. Morris can certainly work the computer. When in the Star Scouts, I took a navigation badge, but never went to school for it. My father used to be an Exec for Sharmr freight lines. I use to help out on breaks between school."

"It might just work," he said out loud then he gazed at the others who must have thought he had flipped out."

"Look," he said. "The shuttle is fried so we either fight and die bravely here, or we walk home. Well I am not a hero and it is a long hike back to the base. We can't take the shuttle so we take this freighter. "You," and pointed at the Twl'leks "You and the others run the engines. You," he pointed to the Captain, "navigate us a course, and I fly. Maybe we all get out of this alive."

"But you washed out of pilot school," the Captain reminded him.

"If you have a better pilot, now is the time to get him. Otherwise, this is the only way we have a chance. If it all goes wrong we are no worse off than we are now. Any objections?" he said and looked at the others.

The small frame Twl'leks tech turned and stated running down the corridor toward the main engine room. He started to hobble forward toward the bridge. The Captain was on her wristcomm. "Orkcott, Morris, Stanly, get to the main engine room and help the engineer get the hyperdrive working. I will be on the bridge with Wilson."

"He then got on his own wristcomm, "Wilson to Red One," he said trying to keep his voice under control.

"Red One," came the reply.

"We are going to try and highjack the freighter."

"What!" he heard the voice shout through the small speaker? "Are you nuts?"

"Yea I am now listening up. You remember that spot we got the water ice from when we ran low on fusion fuel last year?"

There was a second delay. "Yea, that was by. . ."

"Don't say it, you idiot," he interrupted. "This channel may be monitored. Now I want you to meet us there with as many large freighters as you can dig up. As long as we are going to highjack this tub I am going to loot it for everything it has. Meet up time…." He trailed off and looked at the Captain. "What is the current operational time?"

"She looked at her watch," Zebar 00:54."

"We will meet you there at Zebar 10:00. Send in a scout party first. If we are not there or you find any Imperials, leave and write us off. Now go, you are going to need every minute to pull this together."

"Roger," the voice answered. "Good luck, Red Flight out and returning to base."

"Let's go." he said to the Captain. "It is going to take me a while to get to the bridge."

She looked back at the cargo loader. "No its not," she said and climbed into one of them and got it running in seconds. She pulled it up next to him. "Get on, next bus stop, the bridge."

The drove down the absolutely straight corridor past grey compartments all sealed with maglocks behind which was stored the cargo they have come for. Some compartments were no larger than the size of a bedroom, others he could have parked a shuttle in. Other than a set of half meter tall letters on each door, they were featureless. The Empire was not one to go in for aesthetics. The place was immaculate, unlike the cargo ships he been on where anything goes and usually did.

They went on until they came to a large bulkhead that marked the end of the cargo bay. The airlock was too small to allow the cargo handler through so they got off and started to walk past the heavy blast doors of the inner airlock. He hobbled past ten cabins, two with open doors. They were all empty they never held a crew. So this freighter was made to operate only on robotic control. At the forward end of this short corridor were the galley, WC, and another heavier blast door, the entrance to the bridge. This door was closed. He tried the manual door operator, and the door slid sideways into the cockpit.

"So much for Imperial security," he said to the Captain.

"The cockpit was compact, but not cramped. There were five duty stations: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, engineer, and comp-com stations.

The Captain recognized the nav station and started to go to work immediately with the nav computer. He sat down in the pilot's seat and started looking over the controls. Most were familiar. The robotic pilot was still off. He started reading off the control panel to himself. Fortunately most freighter controls were similar around the galaxy. It took him only a few seconds to find the manual override and turn it on. Immediately the cockpit was bathed in a red light.

The Captain looked up thinking they triggered an alarm, but all it meant was the ship was shining red light into the cockpit so the crew could get their night vision while flying the freighter. The Captain then looked out the window.

"The other freighters are gone," she called out.

He looked out the cockpit window at the darkness of space around him. The other six freighters were gone. They must have jumped into hyperspace for the next part of their trip.

"If they get to their destination and this freighter is missing, we are going to have Imperials crawling all over this place," he told her.

"Right," she said and put the navigation holoscreen up on the main display. "Now where do we want to go?"

He looked and saw their destination and pointed it too her. Put those coordinates in there.

"No," she said. "We do not want to go directly there."

"What!" he said not understanding? "That is where they are going to meet us."

She stopped and looked at him with concern on her face. "We got reports recently that the Imperials have put hyperspace beacons on their freighters. These beacons are under independent control and well hidden. If their freighters get highjacked like we are doing, they can track it once it reaches its destination. If we go there now, they will have plenty of time to track it and launch a strike force to take it back. Our freighters would then be defenseless."

"When were you going to tell me this?" he spat out. He started to feel angry he wasn't told up front about this little ploy. "Then it doesn't matter where I take this thing, the Imperials will be on our tail."

"No," she said. "It takes times for their monitoring stations to locate their beacon, then calculate its location, and communicate back to central authority. Then they have to coordinate a response and it needs to get here. That can take hours."

"Right," he mumbled and looked over the holoscreen. Most systems he did not know, but there was an old scout base they abandoned when the Empire had located it. The Imperials had slagged it anyway when they found it. "There," he pointed, "try those coordinates."

She started working feverously to see if there was a clear hyperspace path between them and this new location. He worked on getting the flight control up and running. In seconds the ship was under his control. He tried a few simple maneuvers. The ship started to roll and yaw. With his withered leg he was having trouble with the pitch controls which were operated by pedals. The Captain looked up and shot him a glance.

"That was me," he said, "Just trying out the controls."

He then got on his wristcomm. "Engineering, how is it going?"

The Twl'lwks came back sounding as happy as a new kid with a puppy. "We got the engines working. We have ion drive operating and the hyperspace modulator is almost fully charged. Was that you at the controls?"

"Yes" he answered, remembering they would have felt his maneuvers too, "How long until we can jump?"

A short pause then he got back to him, "Two minutes at the outside. I will flash your control panel light blue when we are ready."

"How is our nav-plot," he asked the Captain.

"If I read this thing right, we should have a clear path I am double checking it just to make sure it is clear of obstacles."

"He put the ship on station keeping and locked the controls in. Pitching around as you enter hyperspace was the surest way to end up in the middle of nowhere. He then set the ion drive to respond the moment they came out. He looked over the control panel. He had done all he knew how to do.

Just then the red and gold proximity detector lit up.

"Company," he yelled.

The engineering light turned blue.

"Coordinates in," the Captain shouted back.

"Hang on to your shorts," he yelled into his wristcomm and hit the hyperdrive control.

The cockpit window went streaky white and he felt the ship lung forward. They were gone. In an instant, they were surrounded by the pale blue false light from hyperspace. He took a deep breath and leaned back in the seat.

"We're alive," the Captain said getting up and putting a hand on his right shoulder.

"What's our transit time?" he asked her.

"Seventy eight minutes, it's not far," she said standing beside him looking into the pale blue infinity of hyperspace.

"At least for seventy eight minutes," he added as a joke. "Now what" he asked and turned to the Captain.

"Don't know," she said.

"If I can make a suggestion?" he added.

Captain nodded. "Have the rest of your strike team pull up the manifest. There might be something in this cargo we can use. If nothing else we can prioritize the cargo unloading when we get to Tabis-3. If the Imperials are tracking us we will need all the time we can get to grab the stuff."

"You are a fountain of good ideas," pity you can't be on a….." and then she trailed off as she looked down at his leg.

He leaned forward concentrating on the controls. "Don't worry about it," he muttered.

She turned issuing orders on his wristcomm and walked out of the cockpit. He grabbed his walking stick and went for the WC outside the bridge.

He spent the next hour going over ideas on what to do if they got to their destination and the Imperial fleet was there. Had had to admit his ideas could be put into two categories; mostly futile and utterly futile. There were in an unarmed tube that could maneuver as well as a Bantha down a narrow alleyway. If they were lucky they just blow the freighter up with them in it. If not it was either die in the boarding action, or a fun session with Imperial Intelligence. Neither option appealed to him. With five minutes to go, The Captain came back in minus her armor. She was dressed in a skin tight black action suit. It clung to her in some interesting ways.

"I got a manifest," she said with a smile. "We hit the jackpot. Sienar grav modules, Icom and Kadar flight controls, preserved food stuff, geology field equipment with seismic charges, and the weapons load out for a full Imperial guard company including, pistols, rifles, grenades and thermal detonators. Hell we even got an AT-AT, disassembled in one of cargo holds. Now all we have to do is deliver it."

"Hurrah" he said to himself. Not only was he flying an unarmed whale, he was flying an unarmed whale with enough internal explosives to blow them into atoms by one good heavy blaster hit.

The nav computer start to squawk its proximity alarm, they were here. The Captain looked over her nav screen. "Get ready to cut in the ion engines," in three…two…one…Now."

He cut the hyperspace drive and fired up the ion engines. The blue glow vanished and was replaced with the velvet black vastness of space that was punctuated with thousands of bright multi-color pin points of light.

He got on his sensors and starting looking for a gas giant he knew should be here. He found it, but it was more than10 million kilometers off in the distance. They had missed their target by half a star system, but at least they were in one piece.

Oh, sorry," he heard from behind. "Well we made it, more or less. I will do better next time."

He got on his wristcomm "We are here," he told them, leaving out the more or less part. "Get the engines recalibrated and the hyperdrive up and ready. We may have to leave here in a hurry."

"Roger," came the engineer, "working on it now."

He put the holographic displace of the system up and started to try and pin point their exact location. He had to accurately measure the angle to the primary star, the gas giant and at least two familiar stars. Once he got the angles entered and verified, he let the flight computer chomp on the data before it gave them their exact position. They missed their mark by a little over eleven million kilometers.

"Position data confirmed," he said and transferred their location to the Nav computer. Now it was up to the Captain.

"Working on it," she said and bent over furiously punching data into the Nav board. He went back to do a full checkout of the ship sensors. There was nothing around that could hurt them that he could see. The cargo looked secure. They had plenty of fuel to travel. A check of the flight control indicated all was ready.

"I got the hyperdrive charged except topping off the motivator," the engineer reported." If I charge that too early, it may overheat. We can jump to hyperspace with a minute's notice."

"Thanks, standby we might be here for a while."

The Captain turned and looked at him somewhat peeved. "Why are we staying here," she griped"

Because if you are right, if we jump now, it will be seven hours before our fleet will show up. If this hunk is being tracked, that is plenty of time to mount a counter assault. I don't want the Empire to find us before our friends. Besides, if the Imperials show up here, then we know we are being tracked."

She started to smile. "Didn't think about that," she said. You know you could easily be a force commander yourself. You plan ahead."

"Fat chance," he said and felt his withered leg.

He went back to work with the flight controls and started to running flight simulator programs for practice when the proximity warning light came on indicating another presence. At the same time the computer and communication consol lit up.

"We got more Company," he called out.

"Someone is transmitting nearby," the Captain reported.

He got on the sensors and started looking around. There couldn't be anyone out here. He did a quick sweep and picked up something. It was metallic, small, but a hell of an energy signature and it was closing.

"Something close by is transmitting in Imperial code," the Captain told him.

The sensor imager showed maybe a three meter long object with a sphere on one end attached to a longer cylinder as a basic shape. It could be only one thing. "Probe droid," he said out loud. "It has to be an Imperial probe droid. Now did it follow us through hyperspace or was it just left here as a sentinel?"

"Doesn't matter," the Captain said looking over the com panel controls. "It certainly broadcasted our location to someone."

"How are those nav computations working out?"

"Two minutes," she said.

He started thinking, the Empire couldn't get a major assault force to them for at least two hours, but did they have too? There were other options. He asked himself if he was the Empire, what would he do? The answer came with a sudden chill running down his spine. "Engineer." he called out. "Start charging that motivator, we are going to have company soon,"

"On it," he heard back.

"We will be there too soon," she glared back at him.

"I know," but if they can get two blast boats to us quickly, and that will be easy for them to do, they can disable this ship with their ion cannons. Once we are dead in space they can take their time sending in an assault shuttle if they don't just blow us apart with torpedoes."

She thought about it and nodded. "I see your point."

She worked feverishly, a minute later she saw her transfer he the coordinates into the flight control computer. The ready light was already on."

"Hang on," he yelled out. Just as he hit the hyperdrive, the sensor proximity light came on warning of new contacts in the system. It didn't matter, they were gone.

Once inside the safety of hyperspace he sat back in the chair. This was turning into a fiasco of galactic proportions. His plan to deliver the cargo was shot. He knew he could not stay at their destination. He had to jump, but where. Anyplace he went, the Imperials would be on his tail in hours. There was no way they could stop long enough to contact any rebel base for rescue before the Imperial navy would show up to make any rescue impossible. There was no way off this bucket and he only had a limited supply of fuel to keep running. Sooner or later, they get them all, unless he could drop off the crew somehow.

He turned in his chair and faced the Captain. "Look I have an idea, when we get to where we are going, I want you to plot a new course to a location I will give you and put it in the flight control computer. Then I will have the engineer charge the hyperdrive. You and the rest of the crew get off in the escape pods. I've been to that place before, that moon is full of caves and holes; you could hide two escape pods there easily. Once you are gone, I will jump the freighter to the new location. When the Imperials get there and find the freighter missing, my guess is they will not stop for a long search. They will come after me. When our fighters show up, tell them what happened and where I went and then they can mount a rescue."

She listened intently then shook her head no. That won't work" she spat out. "The Imperials will find you before we will. You will be dead, or worse."

"I considered that possibility and I have a plan for that. I am no explosives tech, but I know if you set a low frequency seismic charge off over the Dentite in the thermal detonators, even if it is inactive, it will destabilize and explode, correct?"

She nodded," I'm not understanding you."

"You put those seismic charges we have over those boxes of thermal detonators with a command trigger and then give it to me. If the Imperials do show up, I will make sure they don't get me or the freighter."

"You'll be blown into a million pieces," she yelled, "frak that."

"Look," he said trying to explain."Out here in the boonies the Imperials don't have the fancy mind probes, or the hypno drugs they have at the core. They do things the old fashion and painful way, and at the end of it, I am still just as dead. I don't want the last line in my PIF 1402 file to read, torture to death by Imperial Security."

"We could just put the ship on auto and you could come with us.

"And have them read the nav computer and get the cargo. Thank you no," he said. God he was starting to sound like a martyr. "If we blow the freighter at our destination, the Imperials will know we got off and search the place with a fine tooth comb. No the freighter has to be gone. Besides if I turn on the autopilot, all it will do is follow its program and fly to an Imperial base and we be in the same boat. We could try and reprogram the computer but that could take hours without an R2 unit."

She looked at him with a mixture of sympathy and respect. "And I thought I was hard core, she said with a low voice and left."

Besides what the hell did he have to lose anyway? Another two years at a base doing jobs he wouldn't give a Rancor to do for people whose attentions were always someplace else. He suddenly felt very expendable. He stopped thinking about it and started going through nearby star systems to find a place to jump to. He found one a short jump from the rebel base in a star system marked uninhabitable. At least it was a chance He noted the coordinates and gave it to the nav computer.

The Captain came back with about fifteen minutes to go before arriving. In her hand she carried a small cylinder with two rings on it. She gave it to him.

"Turn the lower ring clockwise," she told him. He did so and the top of the cylinder started to glow blue. "When you see that, turn the top ring counterclockwise, but don't do it now. That frees the safety and the top will glow red. Push the button on the top and that's it. In three seconds eight hundred and fifteen thermal detonators will go boom setting off the other explosives. You might feel something as the freighter breaks up, but it won't be for long."

"Thanks," he said and put the cylinder in his top pocket. "Ok I put the coordinates in the nav computer plot me a course.

She worked in silence and he went back on manual. The ship responded more or less to his piloting.

His wristcomm beeped once,

"Ok Wilson I am charging the hyperdrive to about 80 percent," the engineer said. Anymore charge and the module will over heat while you are waiting. It is all balanced. All it needs is the top off and it is ready. You can finish the job by punching cod into the flight control. That will run a simple computer routine back here to complete the charge. Once it is ready, the light will turn blue and off you go. Now will you listen to reason for a second and not do this damn stupid…." The voice stopped as he cut the connection.

The alarm went off telling them he was there. He hit the iron drive and they popped out of space, exactly in the place they wanted, maybe ten thousand clicks from the moon.

"I am going to fly the freighter about five thousand clicks from the moon. The big ion trail should hide the signature for the life boats as they leave. In any case, once they find I am not here my guess is they will leave fast. You got my destination coordinates?"

"Right" she said held up her datapad. "As soon as anyone comes by I will let them know." He could tell she was not convinced he had chance in hell of getting through this.

"Ok then get the hell out. You got fifteen minutes before I get to the moon."

"This is Captain Marcom, everyone assemble Lifeboat bay two and move it. We are on the clock."

"She turned and looked at him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Leg or no leg, you can be on my team anytime."

He nodded and she was gone.

It wasn't a straight course, it wasn't a pretty course; he wandered all over space like a drunken Gammorrean was flying the freighter. His withered leg could not operate the pitch control well enough to keep the ship straight and level. His crappie flying did have one advantage; his erratic course should help conceal traces of the life boats even more. He maneuvered inward keeping at least a few thousand clicks between him and the moon. He flew the freighter toward the exact coordinates he gave the Captain. The distanced to the moon closed He hit his wristcomm.

"One minute, once you pop free, just use the thrusters to land. It will make it even harder for the Imperial sensors to follow with all the crap I am putting out."

"Copy" the Captain said, "Good luck."

"Yes right," he muttered and flew onward. He got to his closest point to the moon and yelled into his wristcomm, "Now!"

Two seconds later he felt two bumps on the bridge as both escape pods detached and headed to the moon. He kept on as straight a course as possible until he reached his jump point. He cut off the ion engines and started the routine to charge the module. He downloaded the course into the flight controls. Right on schedule, the hyperdrive light turned blue and he hit it.

After that he was alone with his thoughts, because there was nothing more he could do. He had about two hours to reach his destination and maybe two hours later, the Imperials would show up. Figuring it would take about two minutes to blow the freighter to bits, or if they wanted it bad enough, about thirty minutes to get a storm trooper assault force inside the ship and reach the bridge. He figured his life expectancy was about five hours if he was really lucky. Not that he thought for a second it would really matter. He was getting hungry and thirsty and he had other biological needs to attend. He went back to the WC and looked for something to eat. All he found were standard Imperial emergency ration packs and emergency water containers.

"Not exactly what I had planned for my last meal," he said out loud, but ate and drank it anyway.

"Clang" he heard and felt a vibration through the hull.

He went back to his ship sensors. All was operating perfectly. Where did that come from?

"Clang," he heard again.

He ran a level two diagnostic scan; nothing was out of place, no red lights, and no alarms. The ship was operating perfectly.

"Thunk," came through the hull plate.

"He reached over and turned on the internal scanners then kicked in the video link. He went through ship systems looking for trouble. The engine room was empty, but seemed to be working. He checked the outer cargo bays; nothing looked wrong there. He next did an outside search; he had hit nothing nor was there anything attached to the hull. He switched to the internal cargo hold and he saw it. A cargo handler was moving near where they came in from the assault shuttle. It was opening one of the cargo bays.

"This is Wilson," he yelled into is wristcomm. "Who the hell is back there?"

"Relax," the Captain told him. "I am working on our transport."

"What!" he yelled out. "Are you completely wacked?"

"Shut up and fly. I will explain later," she ordered and went back to work.

"What a klat." he said out loud.

He continued flying the ship, but it needed little help from him. He watched the Captain open one of the largest cargo bay. She then left and an hour later came back with a dozen cargo containers on the hauler. She started loading them into the cargo bay. Then she placed something square along the base of deck against the outside hull. She did this half a dozen times before she used the cargo hauler to lift her to the ceiling where she placed half a dozen more. They looked like explosive charges to him.

"What we didn't have enough explosives to blow us to hell," he said to himself. "We have to go for complete disintegration."

He didn't know what made him angrier, the fact that she had stayed, or the fact she was doing things he had no clue about. A few seconds later his old friend the proximity alarm came on, they were here."

"Cutting the hyperdrive," he said into his wristcomm. He watched the nav computer display count down to the exact moment of destination. When it said they were there, he cut the hyperdrive. They came out into a deep star field with a small grey planet about fifty thousand klicks away. They were right on target. They were also dead in space with no one to operate engineering.

"We're here," he said."

"Get your butt back here," she barked out. "You can't do anything more on the bridge. Make sure you bring that detonator."

He checked his to pocket to make sure the little cylinder was there, picked up his walking stick and start to hobble back to the cargo bay over a hundred meters away. As he walked down the hall he could clearly see cargo boxes laid out all over the place. Most were open. A few had electronics and bottles of gasses lying on the floor. He finally made back it to the cargo bay and saw the cargo hauler parked outside. He looked around the end of the cargo bay and saw a disassembled AT-AT. The head was lying on the floor with the emergency access door open. As he looked he saw a black suited figure crawl out.

"Why didn't you leave," he said? "Now we are both stuck."

"I don't leave people behind," she said seriously. "Besides, there may be a way out of this."

"Hunnn," he shrugged.

"Shut up and grab those box and give them to me, we're low on time,"

"What the hell," he thought. He might as well be busy until the Empire shows up. He grabbed some boxes they had Sienar printed on them. He read them, they were grav modules. They had to be about three dozen of them. He helped her put all of them in the head of the AT-AT. Then they loaded bottles of oxygen, environmental suits, vac patch kits and spare rations. The final thing he loaded was a medium range commlink. The Captain was loading them away in storage area or just letting them sit loose on the floor. She got out and went over her list she carried.

"Ok that is," she said and turned to him and pointed to the open door it "Inside the AT-AT head spaceboy."

"That thing doesn't fly," he said.

"It doesn't have to fly," she explained "All it has to do is survive an explosion." She must have seen the bewildered look on his face because she went on explaining. "Look AT-AT heads are air tight and they are armored. When we blow this ship, cargo is going to go everywhere. We are going to be just one more piece of cargo debris hopefully ignore by the Imperials. Once they see the freighter in a million pieces, I hope they leave and get a salvage crew to pick this place clean. By the time they can get back, with any luck our forces will get here before then."

That was as insane a plan as he ever heard, but considering the other alternatives were instant death or painful torture followed by death, why not. He grabbed the last two boxes of rations and climbed in, the Captain shut the emergency door.

"Get into the environmental suits; just in case this thing loses pressure when we blow the ship, don't seal it yet, we made need every minute of the suit's life support."

He follower her instruction and got into the suit leaving the helmet off. "Now what?" he wanted to know,

"Now we wait and see who shows up first," she said and reached for the commlink. She tied it into the external aerial on the AT-AT. "I set this thing to known Imperial channels. When they show up we should know it. The energy signature should not show on their sensors inside this thing."

"What happens if they do search this piece of junk and find our improvised escape capsule?" he asked.

She said nothing but reached into her pouch and showed him two thermal detonators, tops screwed in and ready to activate. She didn't need to say anything else. That did remind him of something. He quickly opened his unit and took the cylinder out of his top pocket and put it in his suit pocket before zipping it back up.

They spent the next forty minutes, mostly chatting about their past lives. She was a freight line owner's daughter, whose father was not an Imperial supporter. When the new Imperial governor took over her planet, her father's company was confiscated and he disappeared into the Imperial justice system never to be heard from again. She and her mother managed to smuggle themselves out on a freighter and got to Corell. She grew up on the street of Corell doing odd jobs, while her mother worked as a freight shipping agent. Six years ago when the rebellion started to set up shop on some of the Outer System, she joined and never been back. He filled in some details of his background, nothing spectacular he knew. It wasn't the worse way to maybe spend your last hour.

"PK 117, this is Imperial Task Force Leader Ubank, can you read me?" squawked the commlink

He looked at his wristcomm, a little over two hours since they arrived. They had to be tracking the freighter.

The Imperial went on repeated his hail and then warning everyone on board to surrender and the usual tripe. They said nothing. The Imperials appear to have done a scan of the freighter, saw their shuttle and assumed they were still aboard. After about fifteen minutes of chatter, they heard what they were waiting for.

"Assault shuttle Ceris One and Two proceed to left side cargo station and secure the freighter."

"Roger, Ceris One and Two proceeding,"

"Seal up" she said.

He put on the helmet. She then pointed to the suit's commlink and motioned for him not to use it. He nodded and then she leaned forward to touch her helmet to his.

"I need to blow this part of the cargo bay before you set off the main charge," she said. Her voice was hollow sounding and seemed far away. "After I set off the charges, count to three and then hit the button."

"Then what?" he asked.

All she did was shrug her shoulders. He reached over to his cylinder and turned the lower ring clockwise. The top of his detonator started to glow blue.

She held up her hand for him to wait and then pointed at the commlink that was barely audible. There was some chatter as the assault shuttle pilots vectored in and set down on the cargo pads. He felt two small vibrations.

"Ceris One and Two, accessing airlocks now," the calm almost mechanical voice reported.

The Captain pointed to the top ring on the detonator he held. He turned it and the light immediately glowed red. Hers was the same color. Now both their charges were ready

He watched her carefully. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath and pushed her red button.

Immediately there was a huge bang. The AT-AT head got pushed back a few centimeters. There was an immediate whooshing noise as the ship started to depressurize. He slowly counted and pushed his red button.

What happened after that he was not sure? He felt that a huge hand had picked up the AT-AT head and shook it violently and tossed it as far as it could. He was thrown back against the hull. The impact must have knocked him out for the next thing he remembered, he was floating in the cabin with dozens of boxed around him bumping into them. He saw the Captain floating like a limp doll. There were all kinds of chatter coming from the commlink. After he cleared his head it started to make sense to him.

"Can you see any survivors," a voice called out.

"Scanning now, nothing on my sensor," another voice reported.

"Keep looking there were two assault teams there, plus the rebels."

Nothing on my sensor scan," another voice reported.

"Keep looking, anything left of the freighter we can grab."

"Nothing, it is just in pieces, we are going to need salvage crews and tugs to collect any of it. Rebels must have imploded the ion engines, this freighter is shredded."

He ignored the rest and starting looking at the limp figure floating in front of him. He read her suit vitals. She was alive and looked she would remain that way for now. He kept his movement to a minimum, he wanted to give no sign the AT-AT head was anything other than scrap. He waited and let things calm down. He saw a TIE fighter fly by slowly, but other than that, nothing.

"Command, this is TIE leader, we have nothing on our sensors. I think they all had it."

"Roger TIE leader, all TIEs return to base, I am sending for a salvage team. We can't do anything more here."

That was a relief; now all they had to do is wait for the Rebels to show up, or for their makeshift life support to give out.

About twenty minutes later the Captain started to stir in her suit. She immediately grabbed her side. "I think I broke some ribs," she groaned.

He reached over and adjusted her suit control. "I am increasing your level of oxygen. That should make breathing easier. Try not to move. We are ok, our Imperial friends have gone."

"Thank the Goddess," she whispered and looked down at the commlink. "Set the control for scanner, that way it should also pick up any of our transmissions."

He did what he was told. He looked at her and it was obvious she was in lot of pain. He went looking for a medical kit in the floating clutter. He found one and took out a hypoinjector he could use through the suit without puncturing it.

"I am going to give you a pain killer. It should make you feel better but might knock you out. I'm ok and I will keep watching.

She nodded, "You do ok," she said. He injected her and she passed out almost at once. That was a relief. What better way was there to live through suffocation if the life support ran out?

Two hours and ten minutes later, the commlink started to speak.

"This is Red Leader, looks like they blew the freighter when the Imperials showed up. I see traces of two Imperial Assault shuttles."

"Crap," he heard; it was Ranker's voice. He hit the transmitter.

"This is the Strike team; we are in the AT-AT head. The Captain is hurt. We need pickup and hurry. The Imperials went for a salvage team."

"My, God! they're alive," he heard from Red Leader.

He took a deep breath and smiled.

# # #

"Well I have just got done with the reports. Damn good job Wilson. You destroyed the freighter carrying valuable cargo to the Empire, took out two Imperial assault teams, and got us our grav modules to boot."

"That was the Captain's idea along with our escape pod," he explained.

"The Captain told me everything," Ranker said. "They just released her from medial. She will be sore for a few days, but no lasting injury. You know with what you did, you are up for a medal for this, plus you impressed quite a few people at command."

"You can keep it" he said. "Medals are like hemorrhoids, sooner or later every asshole gets one."

The Major laughed openly, "Still the same Wilson. You know this does rate you for transfer to core if you want it."

"Naaa, it will take at least two periods to modify and install those new grav modules into our fighters. I will stick around until then."

"Glad to hear it," Ranker said and stood up to offer his hand. He took it affectionately. He then left the office and started a slow walk back down toward the mess hall. He had to unbox and modify thirty four modules before he could even think of installing them. It was something to do. Who knows maybe it was even something important. He got past the main east west corridor junction and saw the new girls from the medical team walking down the hall after dinner. He smiled and they pretended he wasn't there. Some things never change

He got closer to the mess hall when someone walked up and placed their arm around him.

"Going for dinner flyboy," the Captain said, "Want company?"

"Yes and Yes, Captain," he said with a grin

"Call me Ilene, Allen," she said with her own huge grin.

"Yep, maybe this was important to someone after all.

The End.


© Copyright 2017 Wilber Arron. All rights reserved.

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