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Condor's Tale: The Loss of Botar

This is a moment from my past. It's a part I would rather not remember, but I think that you ought to know about it.

Before Corsair, before I even joined the Alliance, I was drawn to the life of a mercenary. My only concern was money. I needed a lot to get the Empire back for killing all my friends and family. They had taken all I had held dear, so at that time I cared little about anything other than myself and the revenge I had been planning for years.

The life of a mercenary was lonely. Most in my trade cared only for one person, themselves. This made it difficult to make friends. But one mercenary, much like myself, was different. Botar Pryam, a man from Agamar, stood out from the rest. He made the effort to become comrades, and that's how I met him. I was sitting there in a cantina when he came up to me.

"Mind if I sit with you, mate?" he asked me. "I'm Botar. I'll be one of your wingmen in your next escort mission."

Most our missions consisted of protecting the valuable cargo of rich merchants from pirates and the Empire. That night, we sat for hours talking about our pasts and old missions. When we finally had to leave, it was strangely obvious that we would both be friends for as long as we worked together. Botar was a bit of a ladies? man, and had a very active sense of humor that he liked to share with his friends and colleagues, as well as being someone who? well, when you were around him, things happened.

I remember once we were in a busy cantina in the heart of Nar Shaddaa. We had been drinking for about an hour when a couple of 'regulars? came in. Apparently we were in their seats -- they always sat there -- and because they were (supposedly) top bounty hunters they advised us to leave on the double or forfeit our right to live. We had been drinking for a while then and saw the whole idea of them throwing us out of our seats laughable? mistake.

The first was a Gran. I hate those, they're so cocky. He was quite short for his species, but that didn't make him any less dangerous. His friend, however, was a Trandoshan. Trandoshan bounty hunters seem to favor Stouker concussion rifles because the lack of a trigger guard allows them to handle the weapons more easily with their huge paws. This case was no exception, and as most fighters know, at close range, you rarely miss with one of them in your hands. Now normally this would be serious stuff, but for some reason Botar decided we should teach these guys a lesson. To really show the Gran up in front of his fellow mercenaries we though it would be neat to shoot his blaster clear out of his hand before he had chance to react.

After welcoming the new arrivals in his usual charming way he decided to get things moving by arguing that they should learn how to fight from real mercenaries like us. As you can guess, it went down well and it wasn't long before the situation got heated.

Unfortunately Botar's aim was a little off that night because somehow he managed to blow the Gran's hand clear off. As you can bet his friend was not amused as he collapsed to the ground in pain. By some stroke of bad luck the Trandoshan decided to get some payback on me. I'll tell you now, when you're looking down the barrel of a concussion rifle you don't get any delusions about living for much longer. In my case I was extremely lucky? the rifle jammed. Now I'm no Jedi and I know a second chance when I see one, so when I saw there was no clear route to the door I didn't hesitate in running and throwing myself through the window in one giant leap. I did it just in time because as I rolled clear of the window covered in cuts and bruises the entire wall blew clear from the cantina; I figured the Trandoshan must have fired. Apparently he must also have considered me dead because I then heard Botar trying to reason with him.

Slowly I peered through the rubble to see Botar with a concussion rifle held at point blank to his head and Botar's own blaster meters away from him. I drew my own Blastech and ordered the Trandoshan to drop his rifle. Now this bounty hunter didn't look it, but his next action showed his complete lack of intelligence. After holding a weapon to my best friend's head he then turned to face me, turning his back completely on Botar. Botar didn't need to think twice and he kicked the Trandoshan as hard as he could where the sun doesn't shine. He collapsed in agony so we took that as our cue to leave. Having seen that concussion rifle in action, though, we were both mightily impressed, so I took it with me and I still use it on occasion to this day.

Anyway the next six months I knew him, we went on many missions together (as well as having several violent encounters out of the cockpit) and became great friends. We had many adventures, including some narrow escapes from the Empire ? those are other stories altogether -- but one day there was a mission that proved too much for even us.

It looked just like any other escort mission, but this one was different. I only found out afterwards, but the cargo consisted of vital plans bound for the Rebel Alliance. The Empire had somehow discovered this and sent a much larger attack force than expected, and as it turned out, larger than we could deal with.

We came under heavy attack from a group of TIE Interceptors. Our small escort force, consisting of six Z-95 snubfighters, stood little chance against the better trained and armed Imperial pilots. The cargo vessels were in real trouble and we weren't having much success in holding them all off.

We finally got a hold on the squints, but three of them swung onto Botar's tail. I was just about to assist when I got a comm message from the merchant in charge of the convoy.

"You're not paid to help your friends," he said. "Your priority is to protect my cargo. Now get to it!"

"To hell with you!" I muttered. "Botar, I'm on my way."

"Negative," he replied. "I'll be okay. Protect the cargo, that's what we get paid for."

Finally, the squints assaulting the convoy broke off, and I went to assist Botar. Just as I got to him, his ship blew from a missile hit to the rear, fired from the lead TIE. He hadn't had a chance to eject, so he was gone.

I couldn't believe it. The feeling didn't last long though, as I saw red and could think of nothing but revenge. I took out two as they fled back to their frigate, but the third -- the leader -- pulled away too quickly and I couldn't keep up.

Dismayed, I returned to our command ship. Once on board, I stormed straight to the bridge to find the one who had ordered me not to help Botar.

He was a young Calamari, bold and arrogant (as I thought at the time). He towered over those under his command and an aura of confidence shone off him as it does with many great leaders.

"I'm sorry for your loss," he said after I tore into him. "But the cargo was too important to lose. I realize a loss is never easy to deal with, but in this case it definitely saved many more."

"The only thing it saved you was money," I blurted, and stormed out.

I didn't realize this until much later, but he was right. For all I knew, Botar had died for no reason other than that a selfish, greedy, merchant had distracted me when my friend needed me most. In any other mission it would have been true. At least in this case, Botar had died for a cause. Sometimes though, I still can't help but think that Botar had died for a few credits, and that it was my fault for not helping him? surely the rest of the escort force could have managed without me.

The experience never left me the same though, and every time I shoot down an Imperial fighter I hope... that just one of those I shoot down was the pilot that escaped me on that fearful day.