A flight of A-wings from Corsair Squadron raced through hyperspace, en route to a hit-and-fade operation. The brilliant lights of hyperspace lit the cockpits of the A-wings. The lightshow was dazzling, especially to one pilot, Flight Officer John "Knight" Vorwald. He smiled for a second, then looked down to check the clock. What it read brought a chill to him.
"Five seconds left..." Knight's voice stumbled. "I thought I was past this… ever since the Imps... and Ray..." He trailed off and started reliving the awful memories that had led him to his life in the Alliance.
* * *
"I certainly hope we're back in time for the festival! I don't want to miss all that food," Knight laughed loudly to an orange Bothan, who was walking alongside him. "I got a message from Ray. He says the Stalker will be in system. He might be able to get to shore-leave and join us for the party!" Knight laughed again.
"Yeah, after all it will be a party. Might as well invite the Imp!" Toger grumbled.
"Oh, come on. He's not like them. He's normal!" the young human pilot protested.
"He's an Imp! He's bound to be like them!" the Bothan exclaimed.
"No! He's nothing like a normal Imp!" Knight persisted.
"I'm sick of arguing about this. You can trust him all you want. Just remember no one with the Empire can be trusted!" Toger gave up.
"Fine... I guess we're done arguing then. Did I give you a copy of the flightplan for the convoy?" Knight asked.
"You haven't yet, no." Toger sighed, then roared again, "We'd better only be escorting this convoy back to your home and not all over the galaxy!"
"Calm down, Toger. This convoy is taking us straight home, nowhere else. We shouldn't miss much." The alien growled something else and walked off. "Yeah, see ya in the skies too!" Knight yelled and walked back down the corridor.
"Y-wing Knight, you're cleared to leave orbit" A voice crackled over Knight's headset.
"Thanks control," he replied. Switching frequencies, he yelled, "Hey, Toger! Good to see your fighter can still get off the ground!" his wingman giggled.
"Funny Toger. I could say the same about your shuttle too. So, is the convoy out of orbit yet?"
"Hey, this shuttle is in perfect order!" Toger boasted. "And yeah, the convoy should be here."
Knight scanned the space around him, looking for his wingman's craft. He spotted a Lambda-class shuttle, and turned his fighter towards it.
"Shuttle Hunter and Y-wing Knight, we're ready to leave. It'd be nice if you guys were here to escort us when we do," a voice, obviously belonging to a captain of one of the freighters, called sarcastically to the two escort ships.
"Sorry for straying... uh, medium transport Mek' Trahab," Knight lightly apologized.
"Yeah sorry..." Toger whispered. "We're ready to go when you are!"
Knight and Toger quickly caught up with the convoy, buzzing past the Mek' Trahab as they went past.
"We are very ready to go shuttle Hunter!" The sarcastic captain chuckled. "Go to lightspeed on my mark-" the captain's tone turned serious. "Now!" the captain commanded. All five ships shot off into hyperspace.
"Yeah, yeah, five seconds to realspace. I noticed, Astro!" Knight grumbled to his picky R2 unit, which was seated in its socket behind the cockpit. Knight looked up from the info on the screen in front of him to see the tunneling light revert to pinpoints, and then a big blue globe blossomed in his front viewscreen. "Ah, Garber. Home sweet home!" Knight lingered his gaze for a few moments more, then broke his stare at his homeworld to check for the convoy and his friend's craft.
"Hey Hunter, Knight!" the grumpy captain yelled cheerfully. "Thanks for the escort!"
"You bet, Mek' Trahab!" Knight replied cheerfully.
"Yeah, thanks for paying us too!" Toger laughed loudly at his comment. Checking his sensors, his eyes widened and he quickly keyed the comm. "Umm, Knight?" Toger yelled, his voice filled with fear.
"Should there be an Imperial Star Destroyer firing on your homeworld?" Toger said nervously.
"No... there shouldn't." Knight looked at the Star Destroyer. He knew it was the Stalker. It was often in the system and would escort Imperial convoys filled with grain grown from the planet. Knight had helped escort many of the Imperial convoys with the Stalker, and in fact he knew many of the TIE pilots aboard the Star Destroyer.
Knight switched to an Imperial frequency and began shouting. "Star Destroyer Stalker, what do you think you're doing!"
"Knight, take your convoy and leave immediately, before we have to destroy you too." The voice of a familiar TIE pilot filled his ears.
"Why are you doing this?!" Knight bellowed.
"Didn't ya hear me? I said get outta here kid!" his friend, Ray, yelled. "Get going before ya get fried!" A formation of four TIE fighters shot past the convoy, firing warning shots and forcing the convoy to go evasive.
"Ray, how could you?!" Knight started to yell at the TIE pilot.
"Go on! Take the convoy and run! You're too late anyway kid!" Ray paused. "We, we didn't want to do this ya know." The TIEs started to turn for another pass.
"Then why did you?" Knight continued to yell. "Answer me!"
"That was your last chance kid. Fine, don't run. We have orders to destroy anything that enters the area during this op." Ray said coldly. "We gave you your chance."
"You're some friend, Ray Baryan, ya know that?" Knight said calmly (Ed. comment: HUGE switch from yelling to calm) as he brought up Ray's TIE fighter on his CMD. "You taught me codes of honor and morals that I fly by. You were my mentor! The rebellion propaganda is right, you're all heartless!" Knight lined up his fighter with Ray's TIE, the targeting box went green. Knight tightly squeezed the trigger. Brilliant blue ion blasts ripped through the Imperial starfighter. "And you can't live without a heart, friend."
With the one TIE disabled, Toger started firing on the other three fighters. "Umm... Knight, I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew! Mind giving me a hand?" Toger blurted nervously.
Knight whipped his Y-wing around to see his friend firing at a TIE while two others were firing at the shuttle. "As usual, huh Toger?!" Knight suddenly stumbled upon his words. "I'm, I'm on my way buddy!"
The two TIEs chasing Toger ignored Knight as he pulled up behind them. Knight again pulled the trigger, releasing another round of laser fire. The shots tore apart one of the TIEs. The other quickly stopped firing at the shuttle and tried to pull onto Knight tail. "Your six is clear Toger!" Knight called, his voice more stable.
"Good to hear. Clear sailing from here!" Toger said as he finished off the TIE he was chasing. "Want any help on the last one?"
Knight swallowed hard, "Yeah... Sure." The last TIE, seeing he was outgunned, started to run.
"This is too easy!" Toger yelled, firing more blasts at the TIE.
"Forget it Toger. He's already too far out. We won't catch him." Knight called off his friend. Knight spun the fighter to face the convoy. "Mek' Trahab, you wouldn't happen to have some empty space in your hold would you?"
"Well, we have just enough for a TIE fighter. Want us to pick up your old friend?" the captain said with a big grin.
"If you could be so kind," Knight said politely.
"So, what're we going to do with him?" Toger murmured in serious voice.
"Hand him over to the rebels when we join," Knight said quickly.
"What! Why, when!" Toger yelled, on the verge of questioning Knight's sanity.
"Yeah, after this, the Imps will have warrants for us," Knight answered. "And we'll be leaving to join once we can get planetside to help."
"Well, we won't have to wait long. The Stalker is leaving as we speak." The Mek's captain noted.
"Then we ought to get down there and see what we can do, eh?" Knight commented coolly.
"Right with ya Knight," Toger called.
"They didn't leave much, did they?" Toger said stumbling over some debris.
"No... No they didn't." Knight whispered, mourning the ruthless killing of his family.
Toger thought for a moment, "Any of your family make it through the attack?"
"Yeah. My cousin. He's up on the space station. Stalker never bothered it." The anger rose in Knight's voice. He turned and walked quickly to the Mek' Trahab.
"Hey wait up!" Toger yelled climbing over a fallen wall.
As they got closer, they could see the dozens of survivors swarming around the Mek' and the other two freighters. Knight and Toger made there way through the crowd towards the captain of the Mek'.
"He's still in the brig." the captain said before Knight could speak. "When you’re done, could I speak to you two for a minute?"
"Yeah, sure." Toger said. Knight didn't answer. He had already stormed in.
"I should've just blasted you when I had the chance, Baryan." Knight growled at the slender figure seated in the shadows of the cell.
"You didn't though. Why?" Ray stood, moving towards the cell door.
"Why? Why! You betrayed me, my trust, and you betrayed the code we follow..." Knight paused, trying to keep his composure. "I would've killed you if it were not for these morals. I suppose that's why I let you live. You were undone by the morals you turned your back to." Knight went silent. He started to head for the door.
"Knight...Knight, forgive me..." Ray stuttered.
"Not yet. My family, who the Empire killed, won't let me." Knight growled, rushing out the door before he did something he'd regret. He slowed his pace in the hall. As he walked around the first corner, Knight walked into the Mek's captain.
"There you are Knight. I need to talk to you." The captain pointed at Knight.
"What about?" Knight sighed.
"I wanted to talk to you about you and your friend joining the rebellion." The captain said staring at the floor as they walked. "I run supplies for the alliance," the captain whispered.
Knight's eyes widened. "So you can take us where we can be recruited?"
"Yes. That's if you still planned on it," the Mek's captain answered. "Rebel ships will arrive to help the populace. You'll be able to join officially then. They need pilots like you."
"What about Toger?" Knight asked. "Is he joining too?"
"He says he is." The captain nodded his answer.
"What about Ray? Will the alliance deal with him justly?" Knight said seriously.
"I'm sure they will. It is what they are rebelling for," said the captain. "They'll more than likely place him in a prison somewhere."
The captain's words lightened Knight's mood. "Things are starting to look up." Knight broke a weak smile. " By the way I never got your name..."
"Captain Terry Rivasky. Native of Alderran, at your service." Terry bowed.
"Okay, Terry. Lets get outside. We have a lot of work to do before the rebels arrive," Knight said smiling for the first time since he arrived home.
* * *
"All those years ago. It changed my life." Knight sighed. "I wonder if I still would've joined had I not disabled Ray's TIE." Knight paused slightly. "Had I not wanted him to see justice, would I be here?"
Before Knight could ponder his question the hyperspace trip ended. Suddenly, Knight and the other Corsair pilots were at their destination.
"There's the repair yard, full of powered-down ships! Get as many as you can, then get out!" Blindman, Corsair Leader, ordered the other Corsair pilots.
"Well, no time to think about that now. Just so long as I'm here," Knight smiled to himself. "That's all that matters. That I make sure the morals Ray taught me don't die with Imperial rule." Knight's smile got bigger. "Scary. I almost feel like thanking you, Ray Baryan."