Morning dawns on the CRS Liberty; at least as far as morning can dawn on a Mon Calamari Cruiser. The Liberty Lounge is uncharacteristically quiet. In fact, the only voice heard in the normally busy Lounge is one young Corsair working on a song. He takes a drink from his can, then begins to softly sing:
...dusty is the air we breathe,
A loud yawn interrupts him. "You always up this early? You woke me up when you left your quarters."
Michael "Parody" Miller looked up to see Eloy "Mynock" Cintron pulling out a chair. "Sorry about that. I've been trying to catch up on some work--what with all the rumors about a new Imperial campaign."
"Did you hear? The Bothans have nailed down a date for when the Imps are starting their new operation. Near the end of the month."
"Hmm... and I bet the simulators will be swamped with people getting prepared for them." Parody took a drink from his can of Mon Tain Di'eu; a slurping noise indicated he'd drained another one. "I know I've been taking too much time to get through the training sims."
"Relax, Par, we're working on the same set now."
"I know--but I started months ago. Nothing I can do now but keep working at it." Parody picked up the can and headed for the bar. "You want anything?"
The doors of the Lounge opened, admitting Rebecca "Rooster" Bryan, Corsair 8. "Morning, Roo, how's it going?" the two men asked.
"Things are going quite well. Isn't it a little early for you two?" Rooster asked as she headed to the table.
"I was just trying to get a little work in. Looks like I wasn't quiet enough this morning." Parody began rummaging around behind the bar.
"Yeah," stated Mynock, "not quiet enough. I'll take a Full Throttle, since you're buying."
"That sounds good to me. I'll have the same" chimed in Rooster.
"...and add one Juri Juice, for one tired Buccaneer," Aradia "Slicer" Emerson's voice came from the entrance to the Lounge. Dropping her flight helmet onto one seat, she sat with the others.
"Green? Purple? Orange?"
"Quiet out there?" Mynock asked.
"Not if you consider a pair of pirates attacking our latest supply shipment quiet. We didn't lose anything, but they led us a merry chase through a small asteroid swarm."
"Well, no asteroids here, just Full Throttles, one, two, a red Juri Juice, and one Mon Tain Di'eu."
They all reached for their drinks. "Mmmmm, good," said Rooster.
"How can you drink that stuff this early in the morning?" asked Slicer.
"You're almost never without a can of it," added Mynock.
Parody took a swig of his Mon Tain Di'eu, then stared at the can. "Mon Tain Di'eu is known throughout the Rim as one of the most caffeinated drinks that are safe for human consumption. I have heard of a drink called a Jo-elt that has more, but I've never had any. In the morning it picks you up, in the sims it can keep you going. In the evening, well...it keeps you awake. Which is why there are things like Juri Juice, mild Full Throttles, and water."
Parody chuckled, "It keeps you awake. That saved my career in the Imperial Navy once..."
Going from Coruscant to the Tainah system by the route we were given would have taken about 4 days. However, Chora, a born navigator, found us a few shortcuts so we would get there in 3 days and have a day of shore leave before the Minotaur arrived.
We did a lot of talking and sabacc playing. This was the first real time we had to relax after entering the Academy. We also took turns flying the freighter. I was flying it when we came out of hyperspace in the Tainah system. We docked our ships at Byra, the capitol city of the Mon Tain, and arranged rooms for the night. Then we proceeded to the local cantina.
I'd been pretty reclusive when I was in the Academy--not like the Imperial Academy exactly fosters friendships. I'd never had an alcoholic drink in my life. So when Jonak ordered me a Corellian Ale, I was skeptical.
"Don't worry, Mike, it's fine, just drink it!"
I sniffed the drink--ugh, the alcohol just turned my head. Trying to be friendly, I took a sip of the bitter liquid. Even that small amount of alcohol burned down my throat. "Sorry, Jo, but I can't take that stuff. Here, you drink it."
"You don't know what you're missing!"
I walked up to the bar. "What do you have that's non-alcoholic?"
His voice was dripping with sarcasm. "Non-alcoholic? Well, there's water. Assorted juices... or there's our Galaxy-Famous Di'eu..."
"Di'eu? What's that?"
"It's our main export after refined minerals and metal. Very sweet, fizzy, has a mild stimulant called caffeine added."
"Sounds good. Let me try one."
I paid the man and brought the green can back to our table. The Mon Tain Di'eu can was cold, and it had a built-in opening device on top. I popped open the can, and took a drink. WOW! (Back in the Lounge, Parody thunked his hand on the table, making everyone's drinks shake.) The sugary, syrupy drink slid down my throat wiping out that horrid ale. "This stuff is great," I thought, and took another swig.
We spent the night drinking and talking, relieved to be out of the Academy atmosphere. I was almost drunk myself, with all the Di'eu in my system. Around midnight local time we staggered back to our rooms. Thanks to the alcohol, my fellow cadets were out like a light, but I couldn't sleep. Having left most of our stuff in the ships, I headed back to the docking bays to get a gaming pad.
As I approached the freighter, I heard two voices. Peeking around the hatchway, I watched two humans who were at the door of the ship.
"It ain't openin' "
"You aren't doing it right. And keep it down!"
"Sorry. Ah, there we go." The thinner man had some device in his hands; apparently that was what made the door open.
As they headed inside, I activated my wristcomm. "Jonak, Chora, WAKE UP!" No response. Well, I hadn't expected anything. The freighter's engines were powering up. I headed across to the shuttle.
"Hey, there's some kid." Oops. A blaster shot narrowly missed my head. I darted behind a structural support. The blaster shots keep coming until the freighter began to lift off. When they stopped, I headed for our shuttle and got it fired up. The comm is erupting with complaints from the port authorities about unscheduled departures. I pulled up the comm. "Flight Cadet Miller of the Imperial Navy. That ship is an Imperial Freighter and has been hijacked. I am pursuing in our other vessel. Any assistance would be appreciated."
"This is Byra Transit Authority, we will send a patrol ship as soon as one is available."
"Thanks, Miller out." Meanwhile, I'd been catching up to the freighter. They had a good head start while I was starting up the shuttle. Of course, they hadn't been responding to any attempts at communications from either the authorities or myself, so as I approached I warmed up the lasers. Being a large target, I was easily able to strafe a few warning shots across the rear of the ship. The shields absorbed the hits, and they started some evasive maneuvers. I tried to raise them again. "Freighter Omicron this is Cadet Miller. If you do not lower your shields and surrender, I will be forced to continue firing."
No response. So I started shooting again, this time in earnest. They were able to dodge a few shots, but they didn't stand much of a chance. However, I was watching the clock--those things had good shielding, and it might actually last until they could get into hyperspace. Thankfully, we didn't leave the engines preprogrammed. The "fight" continued. However, they had one more trick up their sleeve--as the shields on the ship went down, they did the one thing I honestly wasn't expecting them to do. They went to a full stop.
I had been following them fairly closely, and had just reacted to their shields going down by slowing down and attempting communications again. When I looked back up, they were within .1 klick and I jammed the stick forward. My illustrious career in impact damage was off to a roaring start as I heard metal grating against metal. I was knocked back in the pilot's seat, and stunned by the impact. About a minute later my head cleared. I stopped the ship and pulled up a damage report. Most of the upper wing had been torn off, which was causing all sorts of flying problems. Next I checked the mapping system. The freighter was running away. Not being one to give up, I closed the wings and limped off in pursuit. However, the only thoughts in my mind were "We're going to be brought up on charges."
The comm system grated to life. A sarcastic voice said, "So long, 'Flight Cadet Miller'. Next time, be a little more careful--you scratched the pai--WHAT THE!"
Out of hyperspace came an Imperial Frigate; very quickly the sensors reported it was the Minotaur. I flicked the comm switch. "Shuttle Lambda to Frigate Minotaur. Freighter Omicron has been stolen. This shuttle is badly damaged."
"Minotaur to Lambda, acknowledged. Head to Docking Bay 3--we'll send out a welcoming committee."
Very quickly some transports and TIEs were launched; they disabled the freighter and captured it. The CO of my new squadron took down my side of the story. I was given a commendation for my efforts in protecting Imperial property and bringing criminals to justice. Jonak and Chora weren't so lucky: they were late for our appointed meeting time with the Minotaur; when they arrived at the landing pad we were there waiting for them. They were put on report, and I don't remember them being around for too long in our squadron.
Rooster stood, "Sorry to leave so soon, but I've got to get ready for my morning training sim. Nice story, Parody. You'll have to show me how to fly a TIE sometime."
"Sure, Roo. See you later."
Yawning, Slicer added, "I'm off to bed. Don't work too hard." Rooster and Slicer walked out of the Lounge.
"Heh, heh. So you drink this Di'eu because it kept you in the Imperial Navy? Maybe you should make a career switch to Blue Stuff," jokes Mynock.
Parody smiles. "I think not. I still don't really like alcohol.
Like what I told Guardian once: It's not that easy, drinking green..."