In the Lounge
Sipping his favorite drink, Lomiin-ale, and munching on a platefull of nachos, at a booth in the lounge, Marc "ProwLer" Desrosiers felt only boredom inside him. Not because life on the Liberty was boring, mind you, but because his girlfriend and fiancé-to-be, Lyrtia Desori, was gone again on some Top-Secret Intelligence mission that he knew nothing about.
But boredom was really just the beginning of how he felt. He was scared -- petrified would say it better -- that something would happen to her.
Why, oh why, do you always have to leave? You stay for barely a few days and then head back out to the-Force-knows-where in some lost area of the galaxy.
Deep in his thoughts, he didn't notice the new arrivals in the lounge. Robert "Paladin" Hasegawa and Jonathan "Valkyrie" Hu, both members of Buccaneer Squadron, walked in. Their brows were still dripping with sweat after a practice-duel with their swords. They walked to the bar, each ordering a drink, and gulped down each of their mugs. After a refill, they glanced around and noticed their fellow Buccaneer, seated alone in a dark corner of the lounge..
" Hey Prowler, why so glum? " said Paladin, as he and his fencing partner sat down.
Prowler looked up and said, "Ah...nothing, I'm just bored and worried about my girlfriend. She's off somewhere, completing some Intelligence mission." Sighing heavily, Prowler looked down to the floor.
"Oh!" answered Paladin, slightly embarrassed for asking the question.
On the other side of the table, Valkyrie was fidgeting a with a small object that was lying beside Prowler's drink.
" What's this?" he asked.
"That," answered Prowler, "is a Numbka, a goodluck charm that my girlfriend gave me when
joined Starfighter Command. I always have it with me. Reminds me of her."
Paladin smiled slowly as an idea crept into him. "Um..Marc, you haven't really told us much about yourself. None of us know you really well. And if you feel cramped, you ought to tell someone."
Prowler frowned and said, " Well, I guess I've been keeping to myself, it's just that if I started to explain to someone what happened to me, it'd take hours."
Valkyrie laughed a little and called to the other pilots in the lounge. " Hey, guys, get over here. Our friend has a tale for us."
The chatter in the lounge went up quickly as a few pilots got up from their seats. Micheal "Mighty" Tolle, now Rogue 10, and Pashk "Silk" V'tikan came over and sat. Eloy "Mynock" Cintron came over too, expecting a good story.
Prowler smiled , "All right, if you insist, I will tell you a story about my voyages among the stars " he said, waving theatrically towards the viewport that showed the starscape.
The members of the audience smiled and nodded, signaling Prowler that it was time to spin the yarn.
My childhood was cut sharply to an end when my parents and sister were killed in a freak transport accident. My family was very wealthy, leaving a goodly-sized fortune in my hands.
That was when I ran off in a Charter-class freighter, exploring the galaxy. At first, I simply headed out to Corellia, where I traded money for goods, mostly equipment. Then, I flew to Coruscant, where I wanted to visit the museums and see the Imperial Military. This is the part I shall tell you all about…
It was a rainy day, as usual, on Coruscant. Lighting bolts flashed everywhere in the planet-city. The traffic was heavy and the boardwalfs were filled.
Coming out of the Cardooine Sunset, my freighter, I headed for the main Imperial Museum.
I payed the usual fee of entry and headed strait for the top level. There I found holos about the begining of the Rebellion, transformed by the Empire to make it seems like an evil project, of course. There were also booths and holos about the era of the Jedi. They were described by the Empire as evil knights, trained to take control of other people minds and rule the galaxy with a iron fist.
Just as I was reading this, I tripped over a wire and crashed into the wall. The wall gave way, letting me roll away into a dusty and dark room. Swearing away silently, I got up. I saw a strange glow in a corner, a red-blood glow that filled me with dread.
The brightnes increased suddenly, reveling the face of a woman. She was horribly deformed, but she held an aura of power about her. At first, I thought she was a servant, but slowly I realised that this woman couldn't be a servant, all servants on Coruscant were pretty much droids.
So I stepped slowly towards her, being careful not to make a sound. As I got closer, I saw her holding a laser welder onto a golden coin. What the heck is she doing? I asked myself. Then I recognized the object. It was a Jedi Credit, and she was gouging the eyes out of the Jedi Master represented on it. Stepping even closer, I tried to see more of her obscene act.
At that moment, she realized she wasn't alone. She whirled around and pointed her hand at me. An unknown strengh took hold of me and threw me against a wall.
"Who dares interrupt Yhana Melloy, the Emperor's Hand ?", she said, in a horribly disformed voice. I didn't answer, I merely stared in horror at here, gaping stupidly like an infant. She gripped me again with that strengh of hers and brought me closer, "Who are you, ignorant child, to interrupt me?" she asked. I was trembling in horror, images flowing though my mind at the unspeakable end my life might come to.
But somewhere, my mind clicked. Danger and fear transformed into a cold and icy determination. My limbs seemed to tingle and my mind opened up to me, like a dark window that only now has been opened. Pushing against her with my will and all the strengh my mind could muster, I propelled her grip on me away, freeing me temporarily. Without hesitating, I dove down to the ground and crashed into a metal casing. The casing tumbled to the floor and spilled its contents in front of me, including an old metal tube and two shining stars. Grabbing the stars, I threw one of them with not only my physical strengh, but also my mental strengh. The star twirled in the air with a high shrilly whistle and connected with the woman’s torso. She pitched in half, her hands going for the deadly object that had just killed her.
She gasped for air, but nothing but a bloody gurgle came out. She toppled to the floor and weased for a few seconds. Then, she said a single sentence : "A child, and yet he has the Force with him, incredible!" and then she died.
I stared at her in amazement and then recovered.
Turning back to the weapons on the floor, I grabbed the other star and metal tube and ran out, just as a dark explosion rocked the building. I barely escaped the blast, only to run into two guards.
Hesitating for a second, I threw the last star, saw it connect with the front guard and then I jumped in a side-kick at the next guard. The guard dove to the ground, letting me pass overhead and crash into the turbolift entrance.
I scrambled for the control pad and hit it. For what seemed an eternity, the door slid closed as the guard fired twice, burning durasteel off the turbolift door. But then it locked closed and started moving. I stopped the turbolift with the manual override as soon as I had reached level 11, one level above the main entrance. I popped the security-maintenance hatch on top and scrambled out, to reveal a deep, dark pit. "Great, oh that's just great !" I muttered. The distance between level 11 and level 10 seemed to be approximately 100 meters. A long way down if I slipped. White-nuckled, I started downward.
After ten minutes, I reached level 10. I took the metal tube I had found and searched for a button, trying to figure out what it was. There was a single thumb-switch. Pressing it, a white-gold shaft of energy leaped out of the tip of the tube. "A lightsaber !" I said amazingly. I had found a weapon that probably dated from the Clone Wars. I was ecstatic, especially since I like swordfighting. Turning off the lightsaber, I walked to a wall and placed my ear to it.
"No, Ma'am, I can't lower the price for you because you have a family of eight… no ma'am, I can't...."
Right beside the main entrance, I thought, nice orienting.
I walked 40 meters further and thumbed on the lightsaber. I twirled it around, amazed at the sound it made and the non-weight of the blade, and then slid it through the wall. Sliding it up and down, left and right, I cut a neat one-and-a-half-meter tall door. Pressing on the metal board I had just made, I slid it forward. Then I slid out of the backroom, and placed the board back to its spot. I looked around and then walked rapidly to the main entrance.
Once outside, I went onto a boardwalk that was crowded, hoping to lose the guards that without doubt would be looking for me. I headed north for a while, and then sat down on a bench, trying to relax.
The boardwalk was packed, at least a couple million people on it. And many holo projectors, advertising ads for airspeeders and the latest news about the war against the Rebellion. I was watching the airspeeder ads when the image flickered and changed.
"Attention to all Coruscant inhabitants, this is a important holo broadcast. Barely three hours ago, Rebel Alliance X-wing and Y-wing pilots successfuly destroyed the Empire's ultimate superweapon, the Death Star. Be assured, inhabitants of Coruscant, that freedom and justice shall triumph over the evil the Empire represents, and soon you shall all be freed of their tyrannical hand."
During the length of the message, video images showed the Y-wings and X-wings attacking the Death Star. My mouth was wide open as I saw all of the Y-wings but one being destroyed, and then all the X-wings but two being destroyed. One of the two X-wings pulled out of the trench early, leaving two others to continue their attack. One of the last two was destroyed, guarding the rear of the lead X-wing, which fired of two proton torpedoes into a hole in the side of a wall. Moments later, the surviving craft were flying away at full speed from the Death Star, which exploded moments later.
As I watched the video, a whole garrison of stormtroopers emerged onto the boardwalk and moved into the crowd. I dove for cover behind a bench, avoiding the searching troopers. Then, as the stormtroopers began pushing through the crowd, I got up and charged one of the rear troopers, my approached disguised by the noise of the crowd. I ran at him with my lightsaber turned off. As I closed up on him, I ignited it, spearing him through the back and pulling up through his body. His head split in half, and splatted to the ground.
Moving quickly, I sideslipped towards another trooper. Swinging low and not to hard to avoid overbalancing, I chopped him at the waist. He collapsed without even twitching. Then I rolled to the ground and came up with the lightsaber horizontaly to block the next trooper in line, who was turning towards me. The move chopped the muzzle of his blaster and bit deeply into his chest. Getting up, I kicked him off and sprinted with my lightsaber clenched between my hands and set solidly sideways. I sliced through a whole line of troopers, leaving their upper bodies to topple to the ground like bowling pins.
By then, pretty much all of the stormtroopers had in their minds to shoot me. Sprinting all along, I dove off the edge of the boardwalk, only to crash into an Imperial speeder bike. The trooper on it never saw me. He only noticed I was there when I threw him off the speeder, letting him fall to his death, several kilometers below.
Gripping the handles solidly, I punched the engine to the maximum and turned on the E-web heavy repeater on the front. Glancing to the sensors, I saw two speeder bikse were stationed barely three klicks away. Cruising towards them, I waited until I was clearly in range and then fired.
My first two blaster bolts hit dead on, bursting the first speeder and its pilot into debris and flame. But the second speeder was no longer in my sights when the area cleared of smoke.
My speeder jolted twice, prompting me to look on my six. The second speeder was there, hugging on my rear, barely 100 meters out. Diving for the ground, I avoided his second volley, but clearly the first one had done some damage. Smoke was billowing out from the fuselage, and the engine was increasing in sound. Tipping the nose of the speeder even more downward, I aimed for another boardwalk, hoping that it was empty. Luck was still with me, a 200 meter area was clear of people.
Pulling back up to slow my descent, I grabbed the blaster carbine that was in the holster on the speeder. I locked the gear strait for the clearing, and emptied the fuel tanks. Then I turned around and fired a stream of bolts towards the speeder bike that was still pursuing me. None of them hit, but encouraged the pilot to jink more. Turning back around, I waited for two seconds, and then jumped off the speeder. I was only six meters high by then, so the fall didn't hurt too much.
But as I hit the ground, I heard something crunch in my legs, and I didn't get up. The speeder slammed into the boardwalk and erupted into flames. The speeder following couldn't see anything, so he turned around for another pass.
Breathing heavily, I fumbled for my remote and hit the homing button. The rangefinder indicated four kilometers. Pressing the commlink on my remote I yelled, " Go for a torpedo lock, you twit!" A positive warble came back and then I shut down the commlink. I looked around for the speeder. There, I thought, he's coming back around. Grabbing the carbine, I pointed it towards the vicinity of the speeder and fired. One bolt grazed the fuselage but did no damage.
The same could not go for his blaster bolts. They jabbed heavily into the duracrete of the boardwalk, tracing towards me. But he was too low to keep at it. Pulling back up, he turned, but fired with his blaster pistol at me. His shot hit me in the gut. Screaming in pain, I waited for the bitter end. But it never came.
A blue jet of flame passed over the boardwalk, and tracked toward the speeder. Seconds later, the speeder bike was fuming debris.
Smiling slightly as my modified Charter-class freighter settled on the boardwalk, I waited.
The hatch opened, revealing a human-sized droid that came running for me.
"Master, Master, are you injured?" said Holo, my droid.
"No, of course not Holo, I 'm grimacing and wincing just for the fun of it. Now get us out of here, quickly!"
Holo nodded, picked me up and brought me into the freighter. Propping me into a sitting position in a passenger seat, he went to the cockpit and engaged the modified engines. The thrum of the engines calmed me down as we exited the atmosphere, then the shield sphere and eventually the gravitational mass shadow of Coruscant.
"Where to, Master ?" asked Holo.
"Anywhere, but just get us out of here, ok !" I answered.
Minutes later, I was floating in my bacta tank in the rear of the Cardooine Sunset, healing my injuries.
All of the pilots whistled and clapped lightly, congratulating Marc on his story, but mostly for paying for the booze and food.
"So, " said Silk, " admit it, none of this happened, right? That story is pretty impossible !"
Smiling broadly, Prowler said, "Ahhh... but that is what defines a good story, the fact that nobody knows if it is real or not.."
Groaning slightly, Mighty said, Come on, you're not going to tell us if it really happened or not...that's not fair, if you ask me."
Smiling even more, Prowler nodded, " That's right, no sense in spoiling a good story over the question : i it true or not? Don't you think ?"
All of the pilots laughed a little. " Ok, good story Prowler. But you're on early duty assignements tomorrow, so I suggest you go and get some sleep," said Valkyrie.
"Aye, sir!" answered Prowler, as he walked out of the lounge.
"Good story, " Paladin mused, turning towards his friend and squad XO. " Think it’s true? "
" No way, " Valkyrie responded. " A few of the little things, maybe. But the story itself? Nah. Couldn’t be. " He arched an eyebrow. " Could it? "
Pulling out a tube of his pocket, he pressed a button and watched the gold-white energy blade come to life. Ahh, the memories I've had with you, my friend. And the number of times you saved my life. Swinging it slightly through the air, he smelled the burnt ozone the blade left in its wake. Bringing the blade around in one last curve, he shut it down and walked to his quarters. The door opened with a small hiss as he went strait for his computer terminal. Switching it on, he checked for any new messages, but nothing was there. He looked around the room and saw his holo-pictures. He switched it on and watched as the pictures sifted by. First him and his family, then him and his friends at the CAA, then him and Holo, and finally him, Lyrtia and the gang from the Liberty.
Sighing slightly, he thought, my past is gone, and so are the friends that came with it. Now, I'm here, defending what I think is right, defending my friends from the evil side of the universe. And in that, I find justice and friendship. That's good enough for me.