The night he had returned from the Imperial Academy she seemed
troubled and distant. His mother had never told him what she did
for the Empire, but Chris knew it had something to do with Intelligence.
He never pressed her for more information, figuring he would know
when the time was right. He had always wanted to follow in his father's
footsteps and become a fighter pilot.
"Chris, I have some disturbing news," she finally said.
"Is it about dad? Is he dead?" Chris questioned, swallowing the
lump in his throat.
"No son, your father is fine. This is another matter, something
much more serious."
Chris tried to think of something that would be more important to
either of them, but nothing came to mind. "What can possibly be more important than family?" he asked.
"I know you don't know what I do, but I have come into possession
of information that I want to share with you." She handed him
a disk and continued, "You will find on this disk disturbing
news about the Empire as you know it. It will shed light on secrets
they do not want you to know, it will help you understand the truth."
Chris took the disk and looked at it. On the surface the disk was
common. This disk, with the label Minx, held the information he
needed to know to understand what was troubling his mother. "The truth? What do you mean by that, am I living a lie?"
"What I mean is everything they have told you, everything you
see and hear is not as it seems. Please watch, then you will begin
to understand what I am talking about."
She uncovered a portable holo player on the table and Chris inserted
A reporter appeared on the screen. A mobile holo cam floated around
his position taking in the scene while he spoke. Destruction lay
all around, smoking buildings, humanoid bodies lay on the ground
dead, and in the distance Imperial walkers could be seen. AT-AT's
were firing on retreating troops, and gunning down unarmed civilians
in cold blood. The camera began to zoom in on an AT-ST that had
a squad of men trapped. They lay down their weapons and held their
hands up. The hatch opened to reveal the commander. Barking orders,
the new prisoners dropped first one knee, then to the second. Hands
on their heads now, the commander gave another order and the walker
shot them... all of them.
Chris's jaw was agape with astonishment. No sound could escape
his mouth, as the silence began to become uncomfortable. "This can't
possibly be true, it must be a forgery. I don't see any troopers.
Where are the...."
His mother cut him off, pointing to the display. "Watch!"
The camera returned to the speaker and he was continuing his broadcast.
A shadow suddenly loomed over him, as a huge mechanical leg became
visible. The reporter turned to look over his shoulder as he realized
he was doomed. He began to shake, his legs frozen in fear. The large
leg rose into the air and crashed back to earth, killing the man
and ending the transmission.
Chris sat dejected. He was speechless. So many questions he wanted
answered, but all he could do was sit there and shake his head.
His mother sat by his side and put a hand on his shoulder, "I
can understand your pain. I would not ask you this now if I had
any other choice, but you have seen what I had to show you. Now
I must ask you to make a decision. I will be leaving here, fleeing
Coruscant to freedom. You are welcome to come with me." She
paused, a tear forming under her eye, "I would like you to
join me, but you must do so on your own. I have scheduled a rendezvous
with a Rebellion emissary, they would be happy to have a pilot of
your skill in their ranks."
Chris had heard of the Rebellion. Everything he had seen about
them was traitorous and without honor. Their hit and fade tactics
caught many an Imperial convoy by surprise. But they were no match
for the might of the Empire. How could he possibly just leave the
life he has known for so long, and defect? Traitorous thoughts bombarded
his mind as the conflict within him came to a crescendo. He trusted
his mother; she had raised him well while his father was away saving
"Son," she interrupted his thoughts, "I apologize
for pushing you in this time of confusion but you must make a choice
soon." She handed him a datapad and an ID chip. "Use these
to board the passenger ship Dazzler, there I will make contact
with you. You have less then 24 hours. I must go now. I hope I will
see you later."
Chris stuttered his speech. "I-I-I don't know what to do. I need
more time to make this important of a decision."
"Your heart will lead you, son, as will my love. Make whatever
choice you feel is best for you." With that she was gone.
Chris sat, confused. This was far from what he expected, and certainly
not in his career plans. He needed time to sort things out, and
a drink to help him on his way.
Chris awoke from his dream on the passenger ship Dazzler.
Faced with the most important decision of his short life, sleep
had eluded him. His decision had ultimately come to a choice between
two people. His father, the well known and respected Imperial test
pilot. A man who he barely knew, yet wanted so much to become. Then
there was his mother. The woman who had been with him throughout
his life, providing guidance and encouragement. He had faith in
her honesty, and he would yet again trust her to lead him down the
Being off of Coruscant made him feel a little more secure, but
he wasn't safe yet. The identification his mother had provided for
him had worked perfectly, barely a second glance was given by the
agent who received his boarding pass.
Chris began to feel uncomfortable, like he was being watched. Glancing
around the room, he was uncertain if he was under observation. The
lounge area wasn't full, but there were plenty of people talking
and drinking. Several odd looking aliens sat at the bar, drinking
some colorful liquid. There were a couple of humans engaged in a
heated discussion at a table close by and another table with a lone
figure pondering what lay at the bottom of his drink. Chris noticed
he wasn't paying much attention, and he had an idea.
Chris was hardly an adept thief, but he was far from naive. Self-preservation
was a powerful force, and if someone else could help, with or without
their knowledge, then so be it.
Sitting, looking out the window, Chris pulled his fake identification
and the data cylinder his mother had given him from under his shirt.
Before Chris could talk himself out of it, he set himself in motion.
Chris walked towards the bar, making sure to pass by the lone
figure at the table. The man was staring into his drink when Chris
stumbled over the chair sitting next to him, knocking his pack and
its contents over the floor.
The man rose to help him up, apologizing for being careless. "I
am sorry sir, are you all right?"
"Oh my goodness," Chris played it cool, "I am so
sorry, I didn't mean to be so clumsy. Here let me help you clean
The older man pulled his hood back, revealing a bald, tattooed
head. "It's quite all right my friend, I am sorry to have been
in your way."
"It is I who should be sorry," Chris pressed. "I
should pay more attention to where I am going. For your troubles
I would like you to have my window seat. Looking out into the vastness
of space makes my head dizzy. I do not want it to go to waste."
The man considered Chris's offer. He was cautious, but saw no harm
in sitting by the window. "That would be splendid, you should have my seat." The cleric reached
into his pocket as Chris tightened up. He kept searching as Chris
tried to make a run for it.
The mans features changed to that of confusion, and then he focused
his eyes on Chris, pointed and began to shout, "Security, Security,
arrest this man!"
Chris was just about to the door of the lounge when a leg from
someone sitting at the bar extended, tripping him. Chris hit the
floor, skidding while the contents of his pack spilled out of his
coat across the floor. Chris felt himself being lifted off the ground,
and he was thrown hard up against a bulkhead. Looking at his attacker
all he could see was his own reflection off of a curious silver
mask. "Going somewhere friend?" the female voice asked.
Chris's shoulders dropped. There was no where to run now. His fate
The stranger retrieved the datapad and ID that fell on the floor
and showed them to the old man. "Do these belong to you, good
"Yes, those are my things, he stole them from me," the man replied.
"Take it then, and be on your way. This scoundrel will pay for
his crimes." Chris was turned around to face the wall, his hands
locked together with binders.
"How long did you think you could run from us?" the woman rubbed
it in. At least his fate wasn't in question any longer, he would
be tried for treason, and put to death.
Dejected, Chris let himself be led through the inner hallways
of the civilian passenger ship, not paying attention to where he
was going. He was surprised when he was thrown into a room and onto
a bed. He heard the door close behind him and the stranger stood
"We meet again young man." The woman removed her disguise. "How
dare you steal and get caught!" she said with a slight smirk.
Chris' mood lightened as death seemed a little more distant. "I would
hug you, but I'm a little tied up right now. Thanks for the rescue,
She unlocked the bracers as they embraced. "Call me Minx,
and you're welcome."
She wasted no time, producing two sets of security uniforms, complete
"You've been busy haven't you?" Chris asked.
"This was the easy part. We still need to get out of here."
"So what's the plan?"
"This may be a passenger liner, but it has a full complement
of fighters and a shuttle. We are going to sabotage the fighters
and take the shuttle, and we need to hurry. We are behind schedule."
"Nothing like a little pressure to get the blood pumpin'.
Lets go, I'm starting to get antsy," Chris said, his resolve
The pair walked calmly outside. Dressed as security, they found
it easy to walk freely through the ship. They received nods, smiles
and even looks of distrust. A pair of patrolling guards was not
an uncommon sight. Minx led them through the ship towards the hangar.
He just hoped she could get them out of this.
They wove their way through the civilian deck of the passenger
liner until they reached a turbolift marked authorized personnel
only. Using the counterfeit badges Minx had provided, the door opened
and they were on their way to the hangar.
Exiting the turbolift, they were directly in front of a security
station. Chris tensed up, preparing for a fight. Minx placed a reassuring
hand on his arm as she walked forward to present her identification.
He followed suit.
The seated guard looked them over and accepted the ID badges.
Scanning them through his terminal, he looked at the display screen
and back at the pair a few times before relaxing and returning them.
"You are clear, proceed to your designated patrol route."
"Yes sir," the two said in unison as they gave a salute.
Chris stayed tense until they were out of sight. "That went over
"It seemed a little too easy. As paranoid as I am I can see
nothing wrong. Let's get going."
Walking down the corridor, there wasn't much activity. A few droids
walking around, going through their daily routine. Minx took them
on a snaking route towards what Chris could only assume was the
hangar. A couple of pilots passed them, talking about their recent
sim battle if he had to guess. Chris thought it interesting that
they carried weapons. A quick salute and they were on their way.
They turned another corner and were in front of another security door.
Minx looked shocked. "This door isn't supposed to be here,"
she said, sounding confused. Taking her ID she swiped it through
the security lock. The red light only blinked.
Someone behind them cleared his throat "Ahem..."
Turning around they were trapped by the two pilots that had passed
them, they had blasters pointed at them as Chris put his hands up
"Can we help you with something, officers?" the pilot said.
Minx replied, with her hands still at her sides, "We are just
on a routine patrol, had a report of unusual activity down here,
they sent us to check it out."
"Only thing unusual down here are you two, mind coming with me?"
"I would mind actually," Minx responded matter-of-factly. "We were ordered to patrol this area. Now if you don't mind,
I think we are going through this door. Steve, your ID badge please,
mine doesn't seem to be working."
Chris knew that she was talking to him. With the last name Stephen
you got used to responding to it as your first name.
"Do not move a muscle, Steve. Both of you get your hands up.
With a glare from Minx, she complied and the pair was caught by
a couple of hotshot pilots. This was beginning to be a very interesting
The lead pilot grabbed the two ID badges from their prisoners.
"Let check these two ladies with Central."
Their captors led them into the pilot's lounge where three other
pilots sat playing cards. Turning their heads, they saw the two captives
and forgot about their game for the moment.
"What's goin on Sal?"
"These two guards were poking around, looking suspicious. Gonna
call it in."
"Why you always gotta be a jerk? There's no need to bully people
around. You're just a pain in the ass sometimes."
"Hey Bones, you been around here a long time, you ever see these
two before?" Sal asked.
The dealer looked up from his cards. He had a pale face, looking
almost skeleton like, his eyes studying them for a moment. "Nah,
never seen em. Don't mean they's doin' anything wrong though," he
replied reluctantly, and returned to his card game.
Sal headed to the terminal on the far wall as his buddy held the
two prisoners at gunpoint.
The man with the gun, in familiar surroundings, seemed to relax
a bit. Chris edged closer, waiting for a time to strike. Sal was
at the comm station, apparently talking with the authorities. He
nodded a few times, as the grip on his blaster became tighter.
He was finished with the security check. "Seems as though these
two aren't cleared for that corridor. They have never heard of you
either, and they enter in ALL the new employees. What do you ladies
think of that?"
"You are right of course. We are from Imperial Intelligence.
Sent here by your company to check for security leaks. Our mission
has not succeeded, but your security performance is adequate."
"That's a likely excuse," Sal replied with a chuckle. "What do you
take me for, a fool? You hear that Bones, they say they're from
The room erupted in laughter.
Sirens wailed all around as the laughter was drowned out. Minx
was first to react, drawing a hidden blaster from somewhere, and
killing the pilot closest to her. Chris was right behind her, stepping
around the drawn blaster and planting an elbow in his captor's gut.
Relieving him of his blaster, Chris fired at the sabacc game.
The card game ended as the players overturned the table to take
cover. Chris dove behind a lounge chair as Minx laid down cover
fire. Firing a few stray shots around the chair, he thought of what
to do. Minx was pinned down in the corner too, and with three defenders
the odds needed to be evened out.
Chris backed away from the lounge and began to shoot the ceiling
above the entrenched pilots. Minx, seeing an opening, began to shred
the table they were using as cover. Soon they could see the pilots
holding their empty hands up.
"We surrender, please don't shoot!"
Switching his weapon to stun, Chris stepped up to survey the situation.
Minx, off to the side, approached cautiously as two pilots stood.
The third was buried below a small pile of the ceiling paneling. Chris fired
at both of their prisoners, stunning them.
Minx searched the pilots and returned with a smile on her face.
"You OK? What's wrong, they don't show you how to kill in
the Academy?" she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Yeah, I'm OK. There just isn't any way to prepare you for the real
thing, that's all. Never had to kill a man before."
"Looks like I have some good news, and bad news."
"Bad news first," said Chris.
"We are way behind schedule, those warning sirens mean our escorts
are here. We were supposed to be launched by now."
"And the good news?"
"These pilots here, Bones and Sal, were the escort pilots, looks
like we have ourselves a pair of interceptors."
"That is good news, we should be able to break out of here with
those without much of a problem. Lets get suited up."
They had no problem, once suited in TIE pilot flight gear, making
their way into the hangar. The main entrance opened into a small
landing platform for the Lambda class shuttle and the TIE Interceptors
The pair crawled into their pilot's seats and strapped themselves
in. Skipping the preflight check, they quickly hooked themselves
Looking through his viewport Chris saw the many TIE fighters the
hangar held. To either side of the main hangar were rows upon rows
of TIE fighters. Because of this careful packing, the TIE fighters
were slow taking off. Switching on his comms, the channel was alive
Engaging the repulsorlifts, he lift off from the landing pad. "Echo
Two, this is Echo One, ready for departure."
"Echo One, this is Two, ready for departure," was Minx's response.
Minx had suggested that he lead the flight, seeing as he as trained
for just such a task, much more so then her. It was as good a time
as any to test his mettle in combat.
"Roger that, heading out," Chris answered.
Chris accelerated forward. Cutting forward thrust, he turned to
port and began to strafe the parked TIE Fighters. Minx, following
suit, did the same. Chris lost count of how many craft he destroyed,
as each craft explosion caused a chain reaction. Chris could feel
the heat of the explosions and thought, it's time to go.
"Let's get out of here before we get caught."
Echo Two fell in next to him as explosions rocked the hangar of
the passenger liner, covering their escape.
Outside the Liner, three Rebel X-wings patrolled the rendezvous
point. Six Imperial TIE fighters streaked towards them, unaware
that their ship was virtually gutted.
"Chris, I am sending the coded message now."
"Roger that, you've got one minute till contact."
"Chris, change comm frequency to battle status."
"Echo Two, Echo Leader," Chris liked the sound of that, "Comm
"Echo Leader, Echo Two. Comm check, comm check."
"How much battle training do you have in the interceptor?" Chris
"I have no battle experience, I am familiar with its operation
but I have no idea of military tactics or strategies."
"All right, once we are engaged with the fighters I want you to
head for the cruiser. I'll be alright without a wingman."
"I don't think that is a good idea, I might not know tactics
but I should be able to cover you as a wingman."
"I do not want you to perform the duties of a wingman. I doubt you
will be able to follow me and stay on my wing, and if I have to look
for you and cover you I will lose perspective. It will be a danger
for both of us. Please, for both our sake, head for the Cruiser."
"Copy that Lead, I'll head for the Cruiser at first opportunity,"
Minx said reluctantly.
The darkness of space was alive with red and green lasers as the
TIE fighters engaged the X-wings. The Rebel fighters were, if not
skilled, highly organized. Eleven T/F's were soon reduced to eight,
as they were almost close enough to engage.
"Echo One, receiving tactical data from the Cruiser, sending it
your way now."
Activating the data sent from the Cruiser, comm traffic came alive
with new voices.
"Nice shot Smitty."
"I can't shake em, get this guy off my tail."
"On my way Two," said another voice.
They were close to the fray now. Individual ships could be made
out, engaged in a dance of death. The X-wings were holding their
own, but the unorganized TIE fighters were proving more of a menace
Chris counted seven TIEs left. It was time to see how good of
a pilot he really was. He dropped behind a pair of unsuspecting TIEs. The wingman should
have noticed the threat, or should he? He was in an interceptor
The time of reckoning had arrived. In a split-second Chris had
to decide between a life on the run, or a life in the Empire.
"Red Two, break high right!" Chris exclaimed, making his decision.
The Rebel pilot, hearing the mysterious voice reacted on instinct,
pulling back and to the right. His maneuver took him out of Chris'
sights and cleared him for a shot. The TIEs easily followed the
X-wing's maneuver, unaware of their impending doom.
Chris squeezed his firing stud. His quad shot clipped the lead
TIE, removing the port stabilizer. Without its solar panel it was
out of control, banking hard right and into the path of its wingman.
All the TIE could do to escape a collision was to dive. With a clear
shot, Minx's dual linked lasers tracked her prey.
With a minor correction in aim, Minx pulled the trigger. Leading
the TIE a little too much, she was relieved when it dropped right
into line. It was destroyed in a small fireball that quickly faded
"Red flight, this is Red Leader, remaining TIEs heading home.
Form up on me for escort duty."
The replying confirmations made Chris smile. The Rebellion was
outmatched in every way by the Empire, except one: Passion. These
pilots weren't the mercenaries he had heard stories about, and they
were far from the pirates they would like them to be.
"Echo flight falling into escort, thanks for the welcome boys,"
Chris thanked them.
"New contact, Victory Star Destroyer entering system, it's on
the opposite side of the Cruiser!" Red Leader's voice boomed.
A collective sigh of relief could be heard over the comm channel.
Being on the other side of the Cruiser gave them considerable protection.
The Independence was more then a match for a Victory class Star
Destroyer in ship-to-ship combat. Now it was up to the fighters.
The Star Destroyer wasted little time as it launched wave after
wave of fighters and bombers until 12 of each were released.
"That is not a full complement of fighters... it must be holding
some in reserve," Minx said.
No sooner had she said it than the VSD made a micro jump. The
tactic put unnecessary stress on the hull of capital ships, and
in this instance showed the importance of their mission. It stopped
directly in the path of the Independence. Somehow this meeting had
been leaked to the Empire, and now a VSD stood between the CRS Independence
Out of the hangar came another squadron, this one made entirely
of interceptors. 12 total, which formed two groups of six, and sped
towards their target.
"Echo Two, make a run for the Cruiser. I will form up with Red flight
and cover your escape."
"No, I can stay and fight," Minx replied.
"Mom, I can't order you to go, but they aren't here for me. It's
you they want. You have knowledge that will greatly aid the Rebellion,
and only you and the Rebel leaders know how important it is. They sent
the Independence, so it must be important. My place is here, you know
that. Please. Go."
"I'll see you aboard, son."
As Red flight formed up for the oncoming threat, the two interceptors
split up. One stayed with the Rebel fighters, the other averted
all power to engines, hoping to reach the safety of the Cruiser
ahead of the enemy.
By now the strike force on the other side of the Independence
was engaged with Rebel fighters. The bombers posed a serious threat
to the Mon Calamari Cruiser and had drawn out the reserve
Rebel fighters. The bombers were doomed however, and tactically
were sacrificed to keep the Rebel fighters from aiding in the rescue.
Chris couldn't believe the blatant disregard of life. How had it
been hidden from him for so long?
"Echo flight, continue on course. We'll cover you."
"Roger Red Leader, Echo flight heading for hangar."
"Fleeing Imperial traitors. This is Scorpion, Alpha Flight Leader.
I seem to remember a brash cadet saying that he was better then
me. Seems as though he has lost his edge since he put on a dress.
What happened to the wimp I knew in boot camp who took all of his
due punishment like a man? But now you run, in the shadow of a woman.
Run, little pansy, run. You watch as I carve up your new-found friends.
You are a pathetic excuse for a pilot."
Chris could no longer control the anger. He wanted badly to teach
this monster a lesson. Before he knew it he had turned his craft
around and was heading for the lead interceptor.
"Echo One, I don't know what you're doing, but you're going to
get yourself killed."
"As soon as I land I will be questioned and hassled by Rebel security.
Better that I'm out here, making a difference while I can. I can
be of help out here Captain. I promise I won't let you or the Rebel
"All right, I can't make you go. But you better not make me regret
this decision. Lock on a target and fire when in range."
"Captain, those interceptors will easily evade your torpedoes.
I have an idea, but we're low on time to talk about it," Chris said.
"Can you remotely detonate your torpedoes?"
"Well sure, but we still need something to shoot at. Unless you
want us to dumb fire them, which is yet a bigger long shot."
"Use me as a target Captain, and I will guide those torpedoes
home. Just be sure and detonate as close to as many of them as you
"Out of the question, you don't even have shields. If you are
too close to the blast you'll join them!"
Chris accelerated to maximum speed. "Captain, trust me. I can do
this, and it will be the last thing they expect."
Time was getting short now; the squints would be on them soon.
Chris got his answer in the form of his threat display. "Locking
on to you now, Echo One. I hope you are right about this."
If he was wrong, this was going to be the shortest defection in
This stunt put his lone interceptor between the approaching TIEs
and the X-wings. They were already gunning for him; there was no
need to put him at more risk. Chris looked at his threat display.
Red Leader held the torpedo lock.
"Fire one, Captain."
Green lasers filled his view screen as the interceptors came within
"Fire two," Chris grunted under the strain of his maneuvers.
At these speeds Chris had no prayer of aiming his lasers at anyone,
but that was a good thing, because they were having a hard time
hitting him as well.
The other members of Red Flight added their torpedoes to the battle,
making a total of six. That should keep them somewhat occupied.
Chris headed for the biggest clump of the enemy. Using high-speed
evasive maneuvers, he flew past as their fire narrowly missed his
"Detonate one," came from the Captain.
Chris could see the torpedo detonate from the reflection in his
viewport. They would not be fooled again so easily. Thinking they
would break off their attack, Chris picked a direction, up, and pulled
back on the yoke. The interceptor objected to the high-strain turn,
but held together as he settled on a trajectory.
Turning had allowed the torpedo to gain a little ground, but the
distance was actually increased as the torpedo couldn't stay with
the sharp angled turns of its target. Relentlessly tracking its
target, it once again began to gain ground.
Heading back to the furball, a pair of squints tried to persuade
him to reconsider. Chris slowly rolled left and snap rolled back
into their path, and split their formation down the middle. "Detonate
Sparks flew inside the cockpit, as Chris's interceptor was a little
closer to the second torpedo's explosion. Damage report indicated
engine performance down to 80% and the right solar panel had been
hit. A visual check confirmed a shrapnel hole the size of his forearm
in the starboard side wing rendering a laser cannon inoperative.
"I'm hit, minor damage to the starboard wing. Nothing major,"
Checking his six for what seemed like the hundredth time, Chris
re-entered the battle. The X-wings and TIE fighters were engaged
in a tug of war, each gaining an advantage and then losing it. Chris
thought of the holo his mother had shown him, the needless death.
The merciless killing of innocent people. These pilots would not
be able to continue on that course.
Chris banked behind a TIE on the tail of an X-wing. The fighter
was doing everything it could to shake the Imp, but the enemy was good.
Chris linked his fire and waited for a clear shot. The X-wing turned
over, starting a split S dive. The fighter on his tail fired the
same time as Chris. The X-wing's shields failed as its belly and
left wing were scarred. The TIE fighter was not as lucky. Chris
shot the wings right off, making the cockpit implode.
Chris banked to the right, checking his instruments, and looked
up to see himself face to face with Scorpion. A heartbeat passed
as each pilot stared and fired at the other. Had the lasers been
set below the cockpit like that of the TIE fighter, each pilot would
be dead. But the profile of the other ship made the shots go wide.
Instinct took over as each pilot pulled up and out of the inevitable
collision. The solution to Chris' problem presented itself. To
beat the perfect pilot, you must do the unexpected. Scorpion had
an answer to every scripted maneuver. Instead of pulling up and
out Chris pushed forward on his yoke. The turn was slower, but
it wouldn't put him in front of his enemy's guns.
Instead Chris found himself behind one of the X-wings. He had
his hands full; a pair of interceptors were tracking him unhindered.
Chris forgot about his problems for a moment as the Rebel X-wing,
the pilot sent to protect him, was in dire straits. Chris gained
on them as they felt comfortable enough to match the X-wing's speed.
The interceptors broke through the shields of the X-wing, their
concentrated fire ripping the aft section of the engine apart. The
X-wing lost all power and went dead in space, but the squints were
They moved in for the kill as Chris rolled his craft to orient
his guns and fired a quad blast at the center of the pair. Being
in close formation each TIE was struck square in its cockpit. One
of the craft lost all power while the other was not so lucky. The
laser blast went straight through the center of the craft, killing
the pilot and destroying the ship.
"Nice shot Echo One! I owe you one."
Chris veered off to avoid the collision with the newly formed
space debris. His peripheral vision caught sight of an interceptor,
Scorpion's fighter, swooping for the kill. Chris could see the pilot
smirking in his chair as he moved in for the sure kill.
Four red lasers impaled the interceptor, causing it to explode
in a brilliant ball of fire. The X-wing flew threw the debris as
Chris thanked him. "Thanks Red Leader, nice kill."
The remaining interceptors put up a valiant fight, but the shielded
X-wings dispensed with them in short order. Forming up on the crippled
X-wing, they headed for the Independence.
"This is Red flight, returning to hangar with all hands accounted
"Echo One, you are instructed to head to the ship. There has been
Chris's heart sank in his chest. He was sure he knew the answer,
but he had to ask, "What do you mean?"
"Echo Two has crashed in the hangar, you better hurry," was the
Chris was virtually out of the cockpit of his interceptor before
it had touched down on the flight deck. He could see the charred
remains of his mother's craft coated in thick light blue foam.
A man stopped Chris short of the wreckage. He was smaller than
Chris, but had no trouble holding him back. "You can't go up there,
I'm sorry sir. There is nothing you can do."
Chris saw the sympathy in the man's eyes, as he grew weak. Great
sadness and despair washed over him as the realization that his
mother was gone set in. This was her dream, to join the Rebellion
and make a difference.
Nothing mattered now, not how it happened, not why it happened,
only that it did, and there was no way to change that now.
Chris gathered his senses and stood upright again. "Clear that
outta here, you have a crippled X-wing on its way in. He's gonna
need some help."
"Right away sir. You just go with the doctor and the lieutenant
and they will take care of you."
Chris hadn't even noticed they had walked up behind him. It made
no difference how long they had been there.
It was time to begin yet another journey.
After what seemed like weeks of questions, interrogations, interviews,
and tests, Chris entered the lounge. It was busier then most he
had seen. He saw several alien races he could identify, Sullustans,
Bothans, and even a Wookiee. He approached the bar as two men approached
"You must be the interceptor pilot. I'm Dead-Eye, and this is
Maniac." Chris exchanged handshakes, anxious to be drowning his
sorrows in a drink alone, but not enough to be less than friendly.
"I am happy to meet you."
"You look like hell, partner," Maniac observed. "Mind if I buy
you a drink for saving our asses out there?"
Chris forced a smile, realizing that he actually didn't want to
be alone, he just didn't know anyone. "That would be great, they
probably won't take Imp credits anyway," he said lightly.
That brought a chuckle from the pair as they escorted him to the
The bartender, an odd looking protocol droid, quickly came over
to the three.
"What can I get you Captain?"
"We- I would like a shot of whiskey, and a beer."
The droid nodded with acknowledgement. "And you Lieutenant?"
Maniac clapped Chris on the back. "My friend and I would like
a shot of the strongest stuff you got, followed by the most bitter
beer in the house."
"Yes sir right away." The droid nodded again, then stared inquisitively
at Chris and nodded again.
"That was odd," Maniac said. "Anyway, you are a heck of a pilot
son. Where did you get that crazy idea with the torpedo?"
"To be honest I have no idea, I was just trying to even the odds
a little," Chris replied.
"You were an animal out there, you got half a kill for each in
the torpedo blasts," Dead-Eye said. "Plus three of your own. That
makes five kills, you're an ace already."
With that the drinks arrived. Maniac stood up, used the bar stool
as a step and climbed onto the bar. The bartender droid complained,
"Sir, do you mind?" but by then it was too late.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. We are gathered here today to, well, to
drink of course." That brought a laugh to the crowd. "I would like
to propose a toast. To the newest addition to the piloting ranks
of the Rebellion, and he is already an ace." Chris could hear a
few "wows" and "oh's" from the gathered patrons.
"Chris 'Animal' Stephen is a fine fighter pilot and saved my ass
as well as Pale-Face. Let's show him how real pilots get drunk."
With that, Maniac brought up his shot glass in a toast.
Chris gave Maniac a shy but appreciative nod as they toasted and
downed the drinks. It felt as though he had swallowed liquid sand
and then breathed out fire. He couldn't stop coughing as Dead-Eye
comforted him by smacking him on the back. "Easy there lad, you
might want to start slow, plenty of time to kill yourself later."
Chris's thoughts returned to that of his lost mother as he turned
to find his other drink to chase away the fire in his mouth. In
front of him was a frozen red drink in a bowled glass. "Hey, bartender!
I didn't order this!"
The droid looked over at him, noticing his drink and looking as
curious as a droid could be, came over mumbling, "How did that happen,
I'm sorry sir I'll get your....."
"No wait!" Chris said, hold his hand out to stop the droid from
taking the drink. "What is the name of this drink?"
"Why sir, that is a Strawberry Daiquiri," the droid said, regaining
some of its pride.
Chris stared at the drink. The significance was lost on anyone
but him. This was his mother's favorite drink. A flood of emotions
that Chris had successfully blocked out rushed back and overwhelmed
"Animal, are you alright?" Maniac asked, shaking Chris back to
Chris's eyes darted around the room. He could see no one out of
place, as pilots enjoyed their relaxation in the lounge. Looking
towards the door he saw a hooded figure round the corner out of
"I'm OK, just thought I saw someone I knew," Chris answered. "I'll
just drink this daiquiri, it's my mother's favorite drink. She used
to make these for me when a shipment of fresh strawberries came
into the market. Brings back lots of memories."
Maniac took a sip of an amber colored liquid in front of him and
smiled, "Your past is behind you now Chris," he said, getting philosophical.
"It's time to make history."