Star Wars: Heroes of Another Kind

Alright, I've been meaning to try my hand at a Story Hour for a while now...so, here it is. This will be based on a very long running Star Wars(d6 to d20) game. I'm going to incorporate a good amount of the character's backgrounds into the telling of the story, and the first part will mostly be from just one character before meeting the others.

The game is set AFTER the Battle of Endor, and while running it I did my best to keep it to the timline set by the novels and comics. The start of this is a couple of years earlier, but gives background on what's going on in the galaxy at the time. I'll post pictures of the PCs, stats, etc as things move along. Here's the actual cast of PCs:

Raan Maxwell: The story will mostly be told through his eyes. He is a young human Scout/Soldier. He's also the character that goes through the most name changes, so right now he's listed as his 'first' name. Raan is mostly a commando, though he trained as a pilot. He has a lightsaber as his only connection to his past.

Shadow: She is a two meter tall Alraxian Soldier/Force Adept. Alraxians are a homebrew race of feline shapeshifters from the Unknown Regions. She's an assassin with very little knowledge of her people or her past, but holds a deep hatred of the Empire for being used by them for many years.

Titus Voort: An human Soldier/Sniper. He is an ex-Imperial sniper not so much running from his past as doing his best to ignore it. He hides among a group of mercenaries, none of which actually know his Imperial past. He is also a former Emperor's Hand.

Jen Zaarin: Another human, she is a Tech Specialist working for the New Republic as a scientist. Zaarin is the only non-military voice among the group, and is usually the one to give a more practical point of view on things beyond the others 'move in, kill, then ask questions'.

Added onto that there are many many NPCs all through this. So now, we begin with Raan's background, as most of this is told from his point of view.

Character stats can be found HERE

Also, newly attached is a 'cover image' of sorts with everyone on it. And one character twice. ;)

Disclaimer: All Alraxians and their worlds, except for Jyren, are not my creation and I do not claim them to be. They are the property of their copyright holder.

Prologue: Been Here, Haven’t Done That

My name isn’t important. You’ll undoubtedly know it be the end of this, anyway. Simply put, if I told you my name now, I’m not sure it’d be the correct one. What I can tell you is that I grew up in the Outer Rim. I traveled from planet to planet as I could, with no real knowledge of any home or family. I didn’t know anything before the age of seven, and even then I could be wrong. When I did stop moving around so much, I found myself on Corellia. It was a good place to live if you were a kid with no past. I wasn’t the first to grow up in that, and no doubt I wouldn’t be the last. As I grew up, I learned to pilot. It was more from necessity than a real want, but I eventually found I had a natural talent for it.

This, in turn, led me to the Rebel Alliance. By that time, the Emperor had already been killed. In fact, it was many years after that had occurred. However, the Alliance was still fighting the strong remains of the Empire. It was a tough fight, and the Alliance had only managed to slowly make their way Coreward. Corellia had always been a strange place for the war. The Alliance held a strong presence, the Empire held jurisdiction, and CorSec held the peace. With the Empire spread out fighting the Alliance, the Empire’s presence on the planet had weakened. It was In this environment that I found the Alliance. I was only fifteen at the time. They took me in as no one had before, and allowed me to work as a tech’s assistant for a few years.

When I was seventeen, one of the officers confronted me about an item I always had with me. At first, it was assumed that this was a tool and I encouraged this as much as I could. But with the galaxy as it was, someone eventually pinpointed what it was. A lightsaber. I had to explain to the officer why he shouldn’t take it off of me. And I did tell him the truth. It was the only connection to my family that I had, something that had been with me for as long as I could remember. I knew how to use it, yes, but I wasn’t any Jedi as the officer had seemed to hope for...even though I was a kid. Once these questions were pacified, and I somehow managed to convince them to let me keep the weapon, I got a promotion of sorts. They needed pilots for transport ships to load up supplies for an assault that was to occur on the Imperial capital on Coruscant. I was taught to fly the bulk freighters, and given a position as co-pilot of the Ascension. This also meant I was trained to use a blaster, and I found that the skills I had learned to survive on the streets came in handy with things like that.

We made two successful transport runs before I was given another promotion. Now eighteen, even I was amazed at being inducted into Starfighter Command as an Ensign. But they needed pilots. And they took anyone that could fly. I was Ensign Raan Maxwell. This is where the story truly began. I won’t say my story, because I simply record it. Many others played a part in it.
 

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Chapter One: The Young Fight the Wars

The hangar was amazing. At least forty starfighters everywhere. X-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, and B-Wings. Raan looked around with a feeling of awe and amazement. There were pilots and techs everywhere.

“Hey, kid! Keep up!” that was the voice of Commander Tsun. It was the deep and slightly scratchy voice of a human who’d flown a B-Wing at Endor and led countless starfighter assaults in the past years. Now, he was in charge of a nameless training squadron. The squadron that Raan had just arrived to join.

“Oh?” Raan turned away from staring across the hangar to look to the Commander. Smiling sheepishly, the young human nodded and started back after Tsun. Quietly, he said, “Sorry.”

“Sorry, sir,” Tsun corrected, but in a kind way, “You’ll get used to it.”

Raan gave the hangar one last glance as they entered a lift tube in the Mon Calamari cruiser, Intrepid. He wasn’t sure if the Commander was referring to using ‘sir’ or seeing the hangar. Probably both. They stood in the lift tube in relative silence for only a moment, then the Commander spoke up, “I didn’t know they let kids your age into Starfighter Command.”

Going slightly red and looking worried, Raan managed a shrug. He ran a hand through his unruly brown hair, which was slightly covering his face on the right side, and managed to find his voice, “I uh...I flew bulk transports into Borlieas and Balmorra...”

“I didn’t say that I didn’t think you had any experience,” Command Tsun said with a smile on his face, “I was barely older than you when I joined up anyhow. There’s a couple others in the squadron your age, but most are older still.”

Barely managing a nod, Raan simply did his best not to look as amazed and overwhelmed as he was. The lift tube stopped, and the Commander led Raan down the long and very populated corridors of the ship. It was strangely muggy and humid all through the ship, but Raan had been told of this before. Apparently, the Mon Calamari kept the ships at their own comfort level, especially since the command consoles were still built for them. This was merely something other species got used to, and never anything beyond an annoyance. Raan found it somewhat refreshing compared to the stark nothingness that most ships’ air filters produced.

They eventually arrived in a small, amphitheater-shaped briefing room. There were ten others dressed in civilian clothing seated there, and a blank nothing on the screen in behind the stage. All eyes fell on Raan as he entered, and he went red quickly. The others all smiled and a couple of them laughed, but even Raan could tell they’d all been through this at one point recently. As Commander Tsun walked down the steps to the stage in the front of the room, Raan continued to stand looking slightly lost.

“Oh, c’mon and sit down, will you?” a human female, about Raan’s age from what he could tell, said from not too far away. She had shoulder length brown hair, and wore a grey jacket with the sleeves rolled up. Even her trousers were rolled up. It took a moment before it clicked in Raan’s mind that this was because of the humidity.

As it dawned on him that he was still standing, Raan made an ‘oops’ noise and quickly took a seat next to her. She patted his shoulder some, a grin on her face and in her eyes, which Raan noticed were a bright green, “We were all terrified for those first few seconds. Can’t imagine what its like being the last of us though,” she moved the hand out in front of him, “Elizabeth Mare.”

Raan sat there looking amazed at how friendly she was. No one had ever really just started talking to him without accusing him of stealing or ordering him around before. Friends were never a priority. He’d never even thought that he’d meet people that could become friends in a starfighter squadron. Carefully, he took her hand and shook it, speaking in a bit more steady a voice than he had before, “Raan Maxwell.”

Before anything else could be said, the lights dimmed, the viewscreen came on, and Commander Tsun began the training course.
 
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Chapter Two: First Kill, First Death


They spent three months training. Simulator runs were the most common occurrence for the first month, but soon after they were each supplied with our own X-Wing and R-Unit and the real training began. The squadron even got a name. They were now pilots of Zephyr Squadron. It was an interesting name, and all of the members took to it well. All of them were assigned permanent wingmates and uniforms. Raan would have been overwhelmed by it all if he hadn’t been so engrossed in it. He was Zephyr Five, and his wingmate, Zephyr Six, was Elizabeth Mare. The two had developed a good friendship in the time, as had all of the wingmate pairs. They all could work together as a squadron, but when it came down to it, you relied on your wingmate to always help out when you needed it.

The assault on Coruscant was nearing, now in the final stages of planning. It was decided that the first real mission for Zephyr squadron was flying fighter escort for an assault on the strongly defended planet of Kuat. Kuat was far enough from Coruscant to be a good diversion, and was only planned as a hit and fade attempt with a few troop transports(that would be empty) to feign a stronger assault. A good plan, but a dangerous test for a rookie squadron. Thankfully for the Zephyrs, a squadron of experienced Y-Wing pilots would also be participating.

Raan sat alone in the cockpit of his X-Wing, looking at the long blue tunnel of hyperspace around him. Idly, he checked the chrono. Two minutes until leaving hyperspace. The one thing he hated about hyperspace jumps was how alone he felt. Isolated. He smiled slightly to himself at the thought, glancing around and up to see R5-P8, or ‘Plate’, sitting in his slot in the X-Wing. Alright, not so alone. But it still would have been nice to be able to talk to someone...especially Mare.

From their friendly talks, he’d learned she was the daughter of rather modest family of farmers from Naboo. Being a heavily controlled Imperial world, the fact that the family had Rebel sympathies was kept quiet. Like most children of farmers, Mare grew up wanting to see the stars, and left Naboo at the first chance she could. At nineteen, she hadn’t been gone long, but had quickly found her way to the Alliance, working as a courier between some of the Core worlds and the Alliance command ships for a short time. She was then invited into Starfighter Command, and inducted into Zephyr squadron with the other ten of them.

It was amazing to Raan how thinking about Mare caused the time to pass so quickly. Plate made a few beeping noises, and he looked to the chrono to see it was just about time to revert to realspace. Taking a deep breath, not sure what he would see once reverting back, Raan watched the chrono intently. It hit zero. Reaching over, he pulled back the hyperspace levers and the blue tunnel faded into stars...stars and a large, industrious looking planet. Surrounding the planet, which Raan knew to be Kuat, were hundreds of kilometers of shipyards. Kuat was where the Imperial Star Destroyers were built, among other large capital ships for the Empire.

The comm beeped, and Commander Tsun’s voice followed it, “Zephyr One here, the rest of you kids alive?”

There was a chorus of ‘yes, sir’s and other acknowledgments from the members of the squadron before a new voice came through. It was hard to tell separate voices through the crackling comm, but they had all gotten used to it in the second month, “This is Blackmoon One, good to hear you Zephyr’s made it okay. Base One will be here in another minute. Until then, you know what to do.”

The comm cut off, replaced by Tsun again, “Just a reminder, Zephyrs, we’re flying fighter screen for the bombers. Stick with your wingmate and no heroics, that especially goes for Rulae and Marin. You two hear me?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the voice of Rulae Nok, Zephyr Eleven, a Duros with a passion for the spotlight. He was a good pilot, but had a way of trying to do things that were well beyond even his abilities, and at the same time dragging his wingmate, Marin Essenu, a Mon Calamari female, down with him.

As the squadron continued closer to the planet and the surrounding shipyards, the pilots opened the S-Foils on the X-Wings and charged the weapons. This came in response to the group of signals coming around the planet. In just a matter of minutes, they identified an Imperial Star Destroyer, an older Victory Star Destroyer, and a small Carrack Cruiser. This defense force was quickly answered by the Mon Calamari Cruiser Intrepid reverting back to realspace not far behind the two squadrons. With the Intrepid was the rest of the attack force, consisting of two Nebulon-B Frigates, four Assault Transports(two of which had only two pilots aboard and were to be used as decoys), and three small Corellian Gunships.

The comm crackled with these new arrivals, “Zephyr and Blackmoon Squadrons, this is Base One. We are moving into position for the attack, proceed with the operation. You are clear to attack.”

“Zephyr One, this is Blackmoon One,” came the voice of the commander of the Y-Wing squadron, “We’re breaking off to begin our runs on the shipyards. We’re picking up fighter signals launching from the planet and the defense fleet. Think you can handle them and keep us covered?”

Commander Tsun almost laughed slightly, “That’s what we’re here for, Blackmoon One. Begin your runs and we’ll be there to keep those fighters off of you,” the comm clicked slightly, a noise to indicate the Commander was switching to the Zephyr’s private comm channel, “You heard them, kids. Break off into your pairs and engage the fighters. Ignore the ones coming from the planet for now, focus on the ones launching from the attack ships. And keep your eyes open for any stationary defenses.”

The channel was then filled with the double clicking of comms, a sign to acknowledge the orders Tsun had just given. Raan double clicked his comm, checking his sensor screen and picking up the fighters coming in. He banked the X-Wing off to a more direct course to them. He caught sight of Mare following suit, off to his starboard side. Angling the shields to double front power, Raan held his breath.

The comm was strangely silent and the world outside the X-Wing empty for what seemed like an eternity. Nothing happened. Then, space lit up. The capital ships had gotten into range and were beginning their bombardment of each other. Bright red and green lights streaked across the space over his X-Wing, and Raan found it was almost unnerving. This was it...the first real combat. The first real live fire engagement. And deep down, he knew they wouldn’t all go home.

“Stick with me, Five,” Mare’s voice came over the comm just as his droid beeped something. Checking the range, he realized what it was. Now not only the capital ships were firing, but the fighters were in range. Raan saw so many green flashes streak towards him and those around him that he was sure they would all die. But at the same time, he and the others let loose a barrage of return fire, weaving through the blasts. There was a bright flash far to Raan’s port side, and a screen that was cut off.

One of the Zephyr’s was gone already. Two more flashes, but these were from the TIEs ahead of them. Raan quickly realized that there was a TIE directly in front of him, coming in firing. Reacting with an almost unnatural speed, he pulled hard to port, firing off a stint of laser fire as he did so. The last of the shots managed to catch the TIE directly in the cockpit, and scoring Raan’s first kill. Strangely, he wasn’t proud of it. Besides, there wasn’t time to be.

Another scream was cut off through the comm, and another of the Zephyrs was gone. The two waves of fighters having past each other, Raan quickly evened out his shields started to pull the X-Wing around towards the TIEs again. Through the current chaos that was coming through the comm channel, he called out, “Six? Six you still with me?”

“Same place I’ll always be, Five,” Mare responded, but Raan didn’t have the time to look to see if he could find her. He was sliding around and dodging laser fire all over, amazed at how truly chaotic the fight was. Raan switched his weapon’s to linked fire, coming up behind a TIE and firing off all four of the lasers in one flick of the trigger. The caught the TIE in the solar panel as it tried to dodge, sending it into a long death spin towards the now much closer shipyards. As he pulled around past the dimming flames, two quick flashes of green went over his cockpit. Raan cursed, but then saw a bright flash and heard Mare’s cheer as she hit the TIE behind Raan.

“Thanks, Six,” Raan breathed a sigh of relief and brought his X-Wing through a long loop, weaving through the laser fire of two TIEs that were trying to get behind him. Quickly, he cut the thrusters and watched as first Mare’s X-Wing shot past him, then the two TIEs did the same, except seemingly panicked in trying to avoid a collision. Raan put power back to the thrusters and did his best to catch up to the TIEs, which were now trying to get a shot on Mare, who was making her way much closer to the shipyards. As he brought his targeting reticle around, firing off a stuttered blast of the lasers and missing, he noticed that it was possible to see Blackmoon’s Y-Wings starting their bombing runs on the shipyards.

Most of the proton bombs and torpedoes they fired were aimed at a half-constructed Star Destroyer, deep within the floating mess of metal that formed the shipyards. There were bursts of green light all around the shipyards, indicating that there were in fact a large amount of stationary defenses in place. Raan caught sight of two small flashes, and instinct told him that two of the Y-Wings were gone.

This was quickly followed up by an interruption in the chaotic chatter across the comm channel by Blackmoon One, “Zephyrs! Where the sith are you? We could use that cover about now!”

Raan could tell that Mare was moving that direction already, and he heard Commander Tsun responded that they were tied up at the moment but would try to get there as quickly as possible. Cursing to himself again, Raan took his focus back to the TIEs in front of him(and behind Mare, which was the important part at the moment). He slipped around a large piece of an empty shipdock, coming down from above at the two TIEs and letting off another burst of stuttered fire. This time, the blasts caught one of them. It hit the TIE to the left on the solar panel, sending it spinning in towards the second before they both burst into a cloud of quickly diminishing flame.

“We’re even now!” Raan called out, a grin on his face as he leveled out the X-Wing next to Mare’s and they continued on towards the Y-Wings. His sensors picked up two ships approached from behind, but the IFF screen identified them as Zephyrs Eleven and Twelve. There was no word from them, but it seemed that they had also manage to break away from the chaotic dogfight to move in to help Blackmoon out. That would be the Duros, Rulae, and his Mon Calamari Wingmate, Marin.

Approaching the shipyard that the Y-Wings were attacking, Raan found himself pointing out all of the turrets and defense installations that were giving Blackmoon so many problems. So far, there didn’t seem to be any fighters. Before he could say anything, however, Mare’s voice came across the comm, “We should try and hit as many of those laser batteries before they catch sight of us.”

“You mean use Blackmoon as bait?” that was the watery sounding voice of Marin.

Rulae spoke up sounding confident, “The two of us will take out the ones on the far side of the destroyer if you two can handle the ones closest.”

“We’ll do what we can,” Raan responded, angling the X-Wing up. The shipywards themselves were large cylinders with hollowed insides. There were many holes and long lines of emptiness between the outer walls which allowed smaller ships to pass through. From the looks of the laser blasts, most of the turrets were on the upper sections of the outer walls, able to fire inward and outward. Currently, they were all aiming in towards the Y-Wings which were making strafing runs across the front of the Star Destroyer. Raan and the other three X-Wings were coming in from the side, making it easier to pick off the turrets.

Zephyr Eleven and Twelve angled down, looking to go under the cylinder and come around on the other side to catch the opposite sides’ turrets. At the same time, Mare and Raan were already letting off bursts of fire at the turrets on the closest side. Four were gone before the others moved to directly fire on the new arrivals. Doing their best to still fire on the turrets, the two of them wove in and out of the oncoming fire in different directions, trying to make it as difficult as possible to get a hit on them, despite the fact that there were at least five bearing on each of them.

Both of them managed to get through the hole in the cylinder, now inside the actual dock and able to see the extent of the damage done by the Y-Wings. They had done a serious job, but were having to avoid most of their runs to stay out of the way of the turret fire that nearly blanketed the inside. Inside now, and realizing how small it actually was, Raan did his best to loop around to come at the turrets on the far end before they could come to bear on him. As he did so, the comm channel was drowned out by a loud cry that was cut off. A sound they were all getting far too used to. Before anyone could call out to identify who that had been, another cry...but this one wasn’t cut off, indicating that the speaker hadn’t been destroyed, “My port thrusters are out and I can’t get out of this spin! Ejection seat is jammed!”

It was Rulae’s voice. This was quickly followed by his Mon Calamari wingmate speaking, but in a rushed and almost panicked way that Raan had never heard before, “Five, Six, is there anyway you can get to us? Eleven’s spinning towards the planet and he’s going to either hit the atmosphere or another shipdock! I’m trying to hit the turrets before they can fire on him again! Is there anyway you an help out?!”

“How can he be helped?!” Raan called out, pulling just over a turret’s fire before sending his own return fire, which hit but didn’t destroy it, “Its not as if I can dock with him in this thing! And I’ve kind of got my hands full at the moment!”

Raan watched his sensor screen as Mare’s X-Wing looped around to head towards where Eleven and Twelve were, “Stay here, Five! I’ll do what I can!”

As she pulled away, Raan managed to send a few more blasts into the same turret, destroying it and giving him and chance to loop around to follow her, “You’re insane! You’ll get killed on your own!”

And for some reason, they went after Eleven’s signal with no idea how to get him out. Raan had figured that the Duros was already dead, but part of him couldn’t accept that. He knew that he could do something...it was just a matter of what, how, and if he’d get a court martial afterwards.
 
Chapter 3: The Cold of Space

“Eleven, does your flight suit’s life support system work?” Raan asked as he pulled his X-Wing as parallel as possible to the tumbling Zephyr Eleven. The other X-Wing was in a near uncontrollable spin, tumbling and spinning as it was pulled in towards Kuat. Not far being Raan’s X-Wing, was Zephyr Six doing her best to provide cover from fighters that were trying to get to their position from the planet below. From the last trajectory readings, they had five minutes before the fighters arrived.

“Y-yes, but I can’t eject! So what good is my suit?!” cried the Duros, Rulae. He was still panicked, and when the cockpit of the X-Wing came into view, the blue-skinned alien was nearly flailing around trying to find something to do to get out.

Raan pulled the face cover from his flight suit on and started working on overwriting his X-Wing’s ejection system,“I’ve got an idea, Eleven, just seal your flight suit!” he then switched the comm to a direct link with Mare’s X-Wing, “I’m going to need you to cover me as best as you can. Send a message back to Base One and tell them that Five and Eleven have gone EVA.”

“What are you talking about?!” Mare sounded like she was talking to someone that had lost their mind, and in a way, she was grounded in thinking that, “There’s no way he can get out of that! The best we can do is cover him from the fighters coming in!”

Raan finished with his altering of the X-Wing’s systems, and did his best to match his speed with Zephyr Eleven. He closed his eyes, then said, “Plate, get the X-Wing back if you can,” then he hit the switch to open the canopy. Normally, this was impossible without firing the ejection seat, but he had overridden the system to let it work. The pressure quickly escaped the cockpit, and Raan felt his suit holding its pressure. It could keep him alive in out there for just under an hour. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be out in it that long.

With the canopy completely open, Raan looked up to the tumbling Zephyr Eleven. Part of him felt the spin, and he closed his eyes and just...let instinct take over. When his timing felt right, he opened his eyes and pushed off. It was an impossibly eerie silence and he floated towards Eleven’s cockpit. In only a few seconds, he caught onto the section of the nose just below the canopy, hitting it surprisingly hard. He looked up to see Rulae with a shocked look on his face, large eyes wider than Raan knew possible for a Duros. As he gripped onto the edge of the canopy, Raan’s free hand pointed towards the section of the flight suit covering his face. It took a moment, but Rulae got the idea and pulled his own on, still looking very confused.

Mentally counting down the time left until the TIEs arrived from the planet, Raan then moved his hand down to his belt. Unhooking the lightsaber that rested there(in a small holster that looked more fit for a blaster), he pulled himself up to a better position and activated it. There was no snap-hiss from the blade, but the bright blue-green blade now extended from the hilt in his hand. This made Rulae’s eyes widen even more in surprise. But not as much as what Raan did next. He took the lightsaber out, and made one last look to Rulae. That’s when Raan drove the lightsaber blade through the canopy of the X-Wing.

It was in the front section, and not only cut through the canopy but also destroyed a section of the consoles and sensor screens. He then pulled the lightsaber across the front of the canopy, cutting a long line. With that, he made sure not to catch any of Rulae with the blade(despite the fact that the Duros was pressed against the seat so hard that he was nearly melting into it) and cut up along the canopy to continue with the box. Two more long cuts, and a near close call with the top of Rulae’s head, and the hole was finished. Rulae got the idea, and undid his restraints. In the moment that Raan pulled back and deactivated the lightsaber, Rulae punched the piece of canopy out into space. Raan finished getting the lightsaber back on his belt, then reached down and helped to pull out the pilot.

Once Rulae was out, Raan kicked off of the X-Wing, making sure to time the push so that they wouldn’t be hit by the ship as it continued its doomed tumble into Kuat’s atmosphere. Rulae was still looking shocked by the events as they floated away from the ship, but Raan’s attention was around them. He could see Mare’s X-Wing pulling off to intercept the TIEs from the planet. With here were three other X-Wings that had gotten over to help. Raan turned the other direction to see that Plate had followed orders and was flying his X-Wing back to the Intrepid. But the most wonderful thing he could see was approaching them. One of the four transports was coming their direction, avoiding the shipdock with the unfinished Star Destroyer.

A sudden feeling of exhaustion passed over Raan, and he finally allowed himself to calm down. It was strange. He knew that he was fine in his suit, and that neither his or Rulae’s suits were torn...but he felt light headed. Probably from the adrenaline and the impact of what he’d just done, Raan’s eyes closed and he simply faded into blackness.
 
Chapter 4: If We Only Knew the Future

Raan’s head hurt. No...that wasn’t just it. His legs hurt...arms hurt...as his mind slowly worked through things, he decided that the answer was simple. He hurt. He could hear vague and distant voices around him, though it was impossible to identify whose they were or what was being said. Slowly, he managed to half open a single eye. The world around him was blurry and white. Wait...no, it suddenly shifted to a pale fleshy colour with brown everywhere. His eyes focused again, and he could see two green circles staring down at him.

“Mr. Insanity is awake,” Mare said as she slowly came into focus. Raan opened his other eye and blinked a few times. After his head stopped spinning, he opened his mouth and managed an ‘ugh’ but nothing more. Mare’s face moved back some, no longer covering his view of the white medical room around him.

After another pathetic groans, he turned his head to see the others in the room. Three people in white just as white as the walls, two were human and the other...Raan squinted his eyes and figured the third was a Mon Calamari. There was also a blue skinned humanoid figure with large red eyes that Raan identified as the Duros he had pulled out of the X-Wing. Next to him was a tall human who eventually came into focus as Commander Tsun.

Not really giving Raan more time to recover, the Commander took a step over and eyed him, “Just because I told Rulae and Marin no heroics doesn’t mean that didn’t go for the rest of you.”

There was the slightest hint of a grin tugging at Tsun’s face, but Raan managed to look worried, “Um...sorry, sir?”

That got a soft laugh from both Mare and Rulae, but Tsun held a mostly straight face and shook his head, “No apologies on this one. You made it out alive, Rulae made it out alive. That doesn’t mean you should try a stunt like that again, but it does mean I’ve managed to keep you out of any disciplinary action for that.”

“Yes, that was very hard to talk your superiors into, wasn’t it, Commander?” Mare asked with a strangely sarcastic tone. The mood was much lighter than Raan would have expected. Mare laughed to herself and grinned again, “‘One of my pilots left his ship in the middle of space, used a lightsaber to cut another of the pilots out, and got both of them away alive. And to make it even better, his X-Wing wasn’t damaged.’ Honestly I think it at least deserves giving him a good mental check up.”

That time the Commander did laugh, turning to Mare and nodding, “You know they actually want to promote him for that stunt?” Tsun turned to give Raan a mock glare, “One mission and now he’s a Lieutenant.”

“So you’re against these heroics because we’ll all outrank you before you have a chance to pull one of your own?” Rulae asked, leaning against the wall with a large grin on his face. Of course, with how Duros’ faces were built, all grins were large on them.

Tsun smiled but his expression went neutral as he turned back to Raan, patting him on the shoulder, “All jokes aside, good job. You missed the debriefing, but that’ll slide since you’ve been unconscious. Just don’t make a habit of it and get some rest.”

The Commander then turned and left the medical ward. Rulae watched him go before stepping over and nodding slowly, “Thanks for what you did out there, Raan. If it wasn’t for you, I’d have made it half the squadron lost.”

Half the squadron? Five were already gone?! Raan’s mind raced through this and before he could ask anything else Rulae had also left. This left Raan to turn to Mare with a bewildered look on his face, not sure what to say. What was one life when compared to five? Standing in the medical room not a minute ago was over half of the remainder of the Zephyrs...

“Hey, its not your fault,” Mare said, easily reading the expression on his face. Through the months of training together, she’d learned to read him well. Sitting on the bed next to him with a concerned look she shrugged, “We all know the risks of what we do. Rulae’s right...it could have been worse. He was as good as dead out there...and with what you did...” she trailed off, looking off to the opposite wall. She was silent, then finally said quietly, looking to him out of the corner of her eye, “Nearly had to add you to that number.”

There was something in the way she said that...the look that Raan’s still somewhat out of focus eyes could pick up. His instincts told him there was more than was obvious. Before he could comment, however, Mare’s expression returned to the usual smile and she patted his leg, “Just get some rest. And next time you go EV, check your oxygen, first.”
 
Chapter 5: Of Times Long Gone

His hair was longer now, the fringe coming down to his nose on the right side of his face. On the other side, the hair was swept back, though it was gathering at his neckline. His once young face was marred by experiences of war and suffering. It was obvious he was still young, but the years were truly shown in the eyes. There was something heavy and pained deep within them that anyone could see. No longer was the bright orange flight suit worn, or the grey and red-piped formal uniform. It had been replaced by a utilitarian brow jumpsuit with a high collar. Something that made its wearer even more of a mess to look at, as it was covered in smudges and what looked like burn marks. No one asked why there was no record of his existence anywhere in the galaxy for the past three standard years. No one asked what had happened to a young Lieutenant that spent only three months with the New Republic Spec Force. Even they had given up on trying to track him.

Even Akan didn’t remember why he’d run from that life anymore. It had been so long since his time as a pilot which soon after was followed by a short stint as a commando. But those days were gone. Those memories buried, hidden away so that he could no longer feel the hurt. The name Raan was even gone from his memory. It was the last to go, but the quickest to fade once discarded. He could not remember his past, so latched onto the last three years of his life as Akan Tavos.

The life in the military was long gone, but the skills remained. Akan’s subconscious had its own way of keeping these in his mind as only natural aptitude. Nothing he was trained in. He trained as a Jedi Knight. Learning from old texts he had uncovered just two years earlier while wandering the depths of Coruscant. Like many things, he didn’t remember the details of how he found them, or even where. He just knew that he had them. Part of him, somewhere at least, knew how dangerous it was to learn in his condition. Though his conscious mind would never admit or accept the deep pain and scars buried within, Akan’s subconscious knew they were there and did its best to protect him from it. It had only succeeded to a finite point. The pain was connected to his emotions, and if emotions grew to strong...dangerous things were likely to occur and his control was lost. Akan knew it had happened at least once, though he knew not why.

He currently stood alone on the primary bridge of a retrofitted Carrack Cruiser. It was not his, but owned mutually between all of the mercenaries. Of which, he was one. They were called Ansion’s Claws. Ansion was the Verpine who had formed the rag-tag but very effective group of mercenaries. They were not ruthless and cruel as many in the profession, but at the same time weren’t about to work for no profit. Divided into four divisions, Akan was the leader of Division Three. Currently, they were in hyperspace on their way to the planet Endor, of which they had been called to check a science installation out. Apparently, the New Republic had lost contact with a small installation on the planet’s forest moon, and as the conflict with the Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn had just ended, they did not have the resources to spare.

“Um...sir?” the voice was that of T’an Vissar, a small Chadra-Fan who was one of the youngest members of the Claws and was part of Division One(where all recruits started out before being placed in one of the other three).

Akan turned around from looking out the viewport to look to T’an. In a voice that held a bit of ice, but was as kind as he could manage in these days, he said, “Don’t call me sir. What is it?”

“Uh...” T’an glanced at his feet looking worried, but then took a deep breath, and his squeaky voice kept its composure, “Ansion wanted you to report to the briefing room for a uh...meeting.”

“I’ll be there in a few minutes,” Akan said, nodding to the small creature and starting to look back to the blue tunnel ahead. He felt something then, a slight hint of something in the Force from the direction of T’an. A strange smile crept onto Akan’s face, though the Chadra-Fan couldn’t see it, “You wanted to ask me something, T’an?”

A feeling of panic rippled through the Force as T’an was still getting used to the fact that Akan was a Force user. The others had already learned that he’d pick up on things like that, but it always unnerved the new recruits. T’an quickly composed himself, and asked his question, “Why do you um..stay up here? I thought the secondary bridge was all that was needed to pilot the ship...”

Ah. That one. He’d been asked that a few times already. Akan turned around and started over towards T’an and the exit to the bridge, “Its quiet here. Empty. And there’s truly an amazing view of the stars from here. Sometime when you’ve got nothing else to do, just come up here by yourself and watch it.”

Without another word, he left T’an to the empty primary bridge and went to the turbolift. He would be somewhat late to the meeting, but they were used to it and always waited on the important things.
 

ledded

Herder of monkies
Ragboy, Threshel, I'm gonna have to start just following you guys around, I keep finding you at all the good new story hours :)

Nice work so far, I'm liking it quite a bit.
 
Glad to see people are actually reading/liking this! More to come probably later tonight, but until then...just got around to throwing up some links to a couple of images of some of the characters.

They're over in the RG thread that's linked in the first post.
 
Chapter Six: Shadows of the Past:

The meeting room was much like the rest of the ship. It was obviously designed with Imperial aesthetics in mind, and had been given a good pale blue paint job to hide the boring grey it used to be. It was a large, cylindrical shaped room with a long oval desk in the center. At one end was the entrance to the room, and the other a large holoscreen. There was also a holoprojecter in the center of the table that hadn’t worked for two and a half years.

Akan Tavos sat back in the high-backed chair on one side of the table. He sat close to the far end, looking over towards where Ansion stood near the holoscreen. The insectoid Verpine looked like a two meter tall stick with green colored chitin layers of plating. His two long arms had only two fingers and an opposable thumb, and many a time Akan wondered how the Verpine had ever come up with the name “Claw” for his group, as Ansion’s hands were much closer to stubs. Ansion’s large black eyes looked across the room as the two antenna down the back of his head twitched slightly. They did that when he was nervous or feeling agitated.

There were four others in the room not including Ansion and Akan. Looking around, Akan identified all of them except one. The three he knew were the other Division leaders. Across from him was Sorak Tallone, a tall Trandoshan who led Division Two. Next to Tallone was a Rodian with one good eye, the other covered by an eyepatch. His name was Eslick Seero, but they all called him Patch because of his refusal to have his eye replaced. Patch was the leader of Division One, and the one who had to deal with most all the new recruits. Across from Patch and to Akan’s left was the leader of Division Four. Her name was Elona D’ares, and she was a grey skinned Duros with a mean streak. It was joked, quietly and far away from Elona, that she was grey because she’d scared her skin color away.

Akan’s eyes then fell on the one he didn’t recognize. She sat on the other side of Elona, and was seemingly staring off into no where. Akan was fairly sure that it was a she, but this was mostly in the face structure than...anywhere else. She wasn’t human, but at the same time, was very close. The only real indications that she wasn’t human was that her ears looked wrong, and were in the wrong place. The sat close to the top of her head, and were feline. Her skin was also an almost mocha color, and her hair was white except for a long black streak down the center. She glanced to him, and Akan noticed that her eyes had a feline quality to them. A strange, silvery color with a vertical slit down the center. She then turned away, though her ear turned slightly towards him still. Something that caught Akan as odd was that she looked to have ‘extra’ muscles. This was easy to see as she was earing a form fitting white and blue tunic with a simple jacket over it. There was something else too...something he couldn’t pinpoint. A feeling in the Force, or his memory...or both.

Before he could further inspect this unknown creature, Ansion spoke up. In his usual scratchy yet somehow insect sounding voice, the leader of the Claws indicated to the map of the Endor system that had appeared on the wall’s holoscreen, “But now you all know where we’re going. We will arrive in the Endor system in less than a standard hour, and then we should be in orbit around the forest moon within the next thirty standard minutes.”

The map zoomed in on the green planet, and a red box appeared over a small section near the northern end of the planet, “This is where the New Republic’s science installation is. It is suspected that those stationed there fled for an unknown reason. This is based on a communication that was sent out three days before we were contacted. In this, the leader of the installation’s security team requested that help be sent. He spoke of something attacking the installation, and said they were going to attempt to hide in the forest. Because it is still a dangerous planet, we will be sending two Divisions down to secure a perimeter of the installation itself, while the other two will explore the surrounding area for any sign of life. Divisions One and Four will form the perimeter, while Two and Three will search the area.”

“Ansion,” only Tallone spoke in that nasal sounding voice that his Rodian vocal cords produce, “What about the installation itself? Are we to ignore it?”

The Verpine shook his head, “No. I will be leading Division Three in their search of the surrounding area, and this will free up Tavos to use his own...talents for such a search.”

At this, Akan simply nodded. It wasn’t the first time he’d gone in alone to check an area. It was easier with no one else...besides, the last time that he’d done that with assistance...well, that was one of those moments his memory didn’t allow to come through.

“But you won’t be going alone, Tavos,” Ansion said, interrupting Akan’s thoughts and putting a confused expression on his face. He paused, putting pieces together just as the Verpine explained. One long fingered hand extended towards the creature that Akan didn’t recognize...or rather, wasn’t sure he recognized, “This is Shadow. She has skills that will...compliment yours in the search of the facility. I do not expect there to be any problems with this arrangement.”

Great. Not only was he not going alone, but it was with someone that he had on idea about. Before he could express his feelings on the matter, the holoscreen shut off and Ansion waved them out, “Get your Divisions ready to move. Akan, you and Shadow go to the hangar and prep the Y-Wing. And at least exchange a hello.”

The meeting broke up, and Akan just sighed. As he stood up, he noticed that Shadow had not moved except to look up at him. That’s when he noticed two other things about her...the first was that she had a long tail with the same color markings as he shoulder length hair, and the second was in her eyes. Something young and...innocent almost. But it was masked by another thing. A coldness he knew all to well from his own life. Raising an eyebrow at this, and the feeling he was getting through the Force that he couldn’t seem to interpret, Akan motioned for her to follow and shrugged his shoulders, “C’mon...”

She got up and followed him like a droid. No words. Very fluid movements. Somehow, this disturbed Akan in a way he’d never felt before. There was something wrong with this...woman? Girl? Female? Shadow...compliment his skills? What was that supposed to mean. Mentally kicking himself for getting annoyed and arrogant about this, he gave up and just went to the hangar.
 
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ragboy

Visitor
ledded said:
Ragboy, Threshel, I'm gonna have to start just following you guys around, I keep finding you at all the good new story hours :)

Nice work so far, I'm liking it quite a bit.
I'm a sucker for a good Star Wars story... which is weird since I haven't liked the couple of Star Wars books I've picked up over the years. So far, I like this one because it takes the starwars-iverse and tells a compelling story without feeling like it's written inside a 'sacred bubble' of canon.

Keep it up man!

*/hijack - ledded! When are you guys going to play WWGO again? --hijack/*
 

ledded

Herder of monkies
ragboy said:
I'm a sucker for a good Star Wars story... which is weird since I haven't liked the couple of Star Wars books I've picked up over the years. So far, I like this one because it takes the starwars-iverse and tells a compelling story without feeling like it's written inside a 'sacred bubble' of canon.

Keep it up man!
That's the same thing I think I like so far here, the very same thing I think I told Ragboy in his SH. You own the tale while still making it fit into Star Wars, which if most of the Star Wars books I've picked up are an indicator, is apparently quite difficult ;) . And anyway, Ankh-Morpork Guard, your handle was enough to get me to take a look, those are some of my favorite Pratchett books. Keep up the good work.

*/hijack - ledded! When are you guys going to play WWGO again? --hijack/*
Tonight, and baby are they in for it. I'm tired of all this 'survive to laugh at the dangers stuff'. The gloves are off ;) (sorry for the hijack Ankh-Morpork Guard).
 
ledded said:
You own the tale while still making it fit into Star Wars, which if most of the Star Wars books I've picked up are an indicator, is apparently quite difficult ;) .
You wouldn't believe how right you are. I know when this game started we all tried to do our best to fit it in where it wouldn't contradict timelines or anything. It mostly worked, though a few little things popped up here and there.

And anyway, Ankh-Morpork Guard, your handle was enough to get me to take a look, those are some of my favorite Pratchett books. Keep up the good work.
Ha! Knew the username was good for something. Apparently it was once mentioned in a Knights of the Dinner Table in something talking about creative usernames. :)

Glad to see people are actually reading this! I was doing this more for myself than anything(well, and the PCs in the game, though they probably won't get to see it until it gets farther along)

Another update coming(most likely) tonight...just have to get around to working on it.
 

ragboy

Visitor
Ankh-Morpork Guard said:
You wouldn't believe how right you are. I know when this game started we all tried to do our best to fit it in where it wouldn't contradict timelines or anything. It mostly worked, though a few little things popped up here and there.
I just take the tact that I could care less about the details of the Star Wars arc. I mean, my characters aren't going to give Darth Vader a wedgie or anything, but I keep the overall arc and make the details my own (while avoiding, as much as I can, the main characters of GL's story).

Ankh-Morpork Guard said:
Glad to see people are actually reading this! I was doing this more for myself than anything(well, and the PCs in the game, though they probably won't get to see it until it gets farther along)
I've found that two things motivate me to write more: Reading a great story hour and seeing feedback on your own. It's amazing how much it motivates you when people start begging!
 
Chapter Seven: Questions Without Answers

The most interesting thing about this Carrack Cruiser was the fact that it had a large hangar bay. Most Carracks, at most, had clamps on the underbelly to hold a fighter or two. This one, however, had a huge portion, that was once devoted to crew quarters and extra cargo, turned into a functional hangar bay able to hold the four assault transports(one per Division) and a couple of fighters. One of these was Akan’s Y-Wing. The Y-Wing was older than the Carrack, most likely, but had a fresh paint job with green and black(the Claw’s colors) painted across it to give it the new ship look. That look died away once you were anywhere close.

Akan was currently checking the fuel and making sure the built in R3 unit(which had so many memory wipes it could do nothing but its primary function) was doing alright. Behind him, leaning against one of the sublight engines, stood Shadow. She had her arms folded across her chest and was watching him with a critical eye. She looked like a droid collecting data. Sighing as he climbed up to reconfigure a few systems in the cockpit, Akan called over his shoulder, “Do you just plan to stand there or are you going to help out?”

He heard movement, and a moment later she was up on the ship next to him, an inquisitive look on her face. Akan glared as she just sat there and grumbled, “Can you even speak?!”

“Yes,” she said in a calm, controlled voice, “What do you require assistance with?”

Still giving her the same look, Akan pointed towards the rear-facing gunner seat, “Configure the systems so you’re comfortable with them. Just make sure I still have access to the weapons systems.”

Carefully, and with a strange look on her face, Shadow nodded and sat down in the seat. For a long moment, she stared at the controls. Then, she looked up to him and asked, “How?”

Oh. Great. Just wonderful. Akan sighed again, and then spent the next half hour teaching Shadow the basics of the controls. From the sound of it, she picked up on it quickly...but she had no idea what was what before he’d shown her. Strange...Ansion usually made sure everyone of the Claws had at least some piloting skills. By the time Akan had finished going over the basics, they were in orbit around Endor. Great. Now there wasn’t anymore time for preparation.

The members of the other Divisions were already loading up into the other transports, and in a few moments Ansion found the two of them. The Verpine’s antenna twitched, and he tilted his head, “Are you prepared?”

“As good as I can be...” Akan mumbled, hopping down and stepping over to Ansion, speaking in a lowered voice, “What the hell is this girl?”

For the first time, Akan watched as Ansion shrugged, “I do not know of her species. However, she has skills much like yours...and you have shown ah...dangerous tendencies on the last missions alone. I believe she will do well to keep up with you.”

“You don’t trust me?” Akan looked genuinely hurt, a confused look on his face.

The Verpine shook his head, patting Akan on he shoulder, “No...no...it is not that, Tavos. We worry about you. We trust you. If we didn’t, you wouldn’t be in charge of Division Three, and you wouldn’t be allowed to carry that,” Ansion indicated to the ‘holster’ that held Akan’s lightsaber, “But that is where we worry. We don’t need the senses you have to know you’re dealing with a lot. Its not healthy for you to bottle all that up...especially being in command. Talk to someone,” Ansion glanced back to the Y-Wing’s cockpit, where Shadow was sitting and poking buttons carefully, “All I can tell you is she was used by the Empire. Its all I know. An assassin...much like you once told me you were.”

“I never did anything like that,” Akan said flatly, his conscious mind being honest. However, Ansion could remember when he’d first met the young human, and how...desperate he had been. Desperate to get away from a life he had blinded himself from.

“Fine...” Ansion stepped off towards Division Three’s assault transport, “Do a good job down there. Our sensors picked up life readings all over the area, so many we couldn’t pinpoint them. Keep your eyes open, alright?”

“I always do,” Akan said as he turned and headed to the Y-Wing. He climbed up the ladder, then pulled it into its section inside the cockpit. Dropping down into the pilot’s seat, he closed the canopy and glanced over his shoulder as the Y-Wing’s engines started to warm up and the systems come online.

There was something...something...Akan felt it. Couldn’t be...no...could it? He looked at the side of Shadow’s head, and his mind slowly worked out that strange feeling. It was...”You’re Force Sensitive, aren’t you?” he asked.

Shadow turned her head to give him a look as best was possible in how the seats were situated. She nodded slowly, “Yes. Does this disturb you?”

Strange question. The engines were online, and Akan started the starfighter moving up and then slowly out into space. He’d wait until at least two of the other transports landed before even going into orbit, “Disturb me? No...just surprising,” But there was something else he felt. A feeling of...deja vu? Similar. Akan could swear he’d seen her before somewhere...or at least, something like her. But he couldn’t put his finger on where or when, and when he tried to, he saw the face of a human girl. She was probably only a couple years younger than him...bright green eyes, shining brown hair, and an amazing smile on her face. Pain suddenly shot through him, and he quickly pushed the images away.

Behind him, Akan heard Shadow move to turn her head to see what had happened. She had obviously felt the pain. She said nothing, though, and simply turned back to facing the consoles in front of her and waiting to land. This human was odd...
 

Sidekick

Visitor
AMG I'm reading too. I know nothing about Star Wars d20 but this story makes for a good read.

keep it comin!
 
Chapter Eight: Into the Unknown

Trees everywhere. How the assault transports had found room to set down eluded Akan at the moment, though he knew they had landed and were already going about their assigned tasks. Through the trees, he could see the science facility, but couldn’t find enough room to actually bring the Y-Wing down. Shadow had pointed out one spot, but it was off towards the transport for Division Two, which was just too far away. They had argued on this point for a good two minutes, which surprised Akan because of how strongly Shadow was speaking. She just couldn’t comprehend why anyone didn’t see the obvious position that she held.

Finally giving up, Akan growled for her to shut up and he centered the Y-Wing just above a small clearing that was in the front of the installation. There was room on the ground to land, but the trees had bent and arched inwards. Grumbling to himself, he told Shadow to hold on and brought the ship down anyway. There were cracks, scraping noises, and Shadow yelling at him for being a fool, but they made it down in one piece. To the ship’s right side was now the sprawling installation, a dull grey series of sharp corners and straight lines that stood out far too easily within the green and natural forest.

Akan hit the switch to open the canopy, and pulled on his comlink as it opened. The comlink was military issue, a headset which left the hands free. He clicked it on, and then finished powering down the ship, “We’re down, Insect. Heading in now.”

“Alright, Sword” Ansion voice replied, sounding even stranger through the mechanical comlink, “We’ve caught signs of Imperial activity around here, so keep your eyes open.”

“Understood,” Akan said as he climbed out and then hopped down to the ground. Shadow was already down, inspecting something on the ground near the entrance to the installation. He walked over and looked down. Footprints. The ground was somewhat soft here...but not enough so that it would be easy for them to remain.

Catching onto his thoughts, Shadow stood up and said simply, “Boots. Imperial issue from the markings.”

“How do you know that?” Akan asked sounding genuinely surprised and giving the tracks a closer look just in case.

“I’ve worn them before,” Shadow then stepped over to the entrance and began to examine the large, closed blast door. Worn them before? That either implied a good amount or simply meant she’d killed Imperials and stolen the footwear...or both. Not time for that now...

Akan moved over and watched her struggle with the door. She gave him an emotionless look and said flatly, “They have been sealed. Someone’s in there. I can’t slice the code, though.”

“I can do better,” Akan responded, reaching to his belt and getting his lightsaber out. Slice in, eh? A bit of a literal point of view, but it would work if the door wasn’t too thick. He ignited the lightsaber and felt a strange comfort from the snap-hiss and the sudden blue-green light. He then planted his feet, and jammed the blade deep into the door. It took nearly five minutes for him to cut through completely, and then it was only a small hole that both of them had to squeeze through to get inside.

The walls of the interior looked much the same as the outside...greys and greys. Blocks, straight lines, and few actual curves. Ahead of them, the corridor went straight for about thirty or so meters before it hit a T shaped turn. Lightsaber still activated, Akan switched it to his left hand, still just as able to defend with it there. He then pulled out his blaster and gave Shadow a look. She had seemed somewhat surprised by the lightsaber at first, but was now focused on the job at hand. Her once blue skin-tight suit was now a grey colour that matched that of the walls. Interesting...though her face, hair, and tail were easy to see, the rest of her was just that much harder to notice. In her hand was a small vibroblade.

Almost like they’d worked together their entire lives, both of them moved slowly towards the end of the corridor. Shadow was against the right side, looking ready to literally pounce at a moment’s notice...her tail was even twitching slightly as were her ears. On the left side, lightsaber in front of him, was Akan. He took one careful step at a time, blaster ready in his right hand as they moved. The low hum of the lightsaber was drowned out by noises from the walls. A deep rumbling noise that sounded similar to large power generators that weren’t working all that well. With his sense of hearing thus drowned out, Akan moved onto other...more reliable senses.

He reached out with the Force, now only a few steps away from the corner. Nothing...except that strong feeling from Shadow again. Ignoring that and trying to focus, he let his mind flow outwards, trying to see if there was anyone...He gave Shadow a look. She simply nodded to him. The feeling got across.

At the exact same moment, they both spun around the corner to face the opposite directions. Akan had his blaster outwards and his lightsaber off to his side. The corridor in front of him was...the reason for the noise. Five or six worker droids were doing repairs to a faulty power generator. He could tell it was faulty from the flames that one of the droids was putting out. Akan turned around again, seeing that Shadow was against the wall again, moving towards a door at the end of the corridor.

Deactivating the lightsaber and sliding it back into its holster on his belt, Akan caught up to her and they both stood a safe distance from the door. He could feel life on the other side...how many, he wasn’t sure. Shadow seemed to have the same kind of focus, but he knew she wasn’t using the force. He would be able to feel that. Instead, she seemed to be...watching. Listening. No doubt her ears were very sensitive. Carefully, he stepped forward towards the door, blaster ready. When Akan was sure that Shadow was ready also, he hit the switch and pivoted around the corner to see inside, blaster out in front of him.

The room was trashed, consoles and tables smashed and scattered in pieces across the floor. Searching through something was a human. He wore an olive green uniform of an Imperial Officer. He was bent down digging through a pile of metal, and didn’t seem to have heard the door open. Silently, Akan walked over to him, avoiding anything that would make noise under his feet. Just a few steps away, he placed his blaster against the back of the officer’s head, “Fr–“

”Don’t move,” the modulated voice of a stormtrooper said from behind him, “Drop the blaster and step away from the Captain.”

Damn. Caught at his own game...and by a stormtrooper of all people! Part of him wondered where Shadow was and why there hadn’t been a similar order direct towards her. Slowly though, he did as the stormtrooper had ordered. Jyren could hear more movement, and was sure that there were now at least two others. He let the blaster drop to the ground, and held his hands out just slightly. Close enough that he could get the saber with one quick movement...

“Hands on your head,” said a second trooper with a slightly deeper voice. Almost old and grizzled if stormtroopers ever got that way. Somehow, Akan doubted that. This was when he’d have to act...it would be tough, but he knew that he could...

A growl cut off his thoughts. Loud and sounding like one of the larger feline predators. There was a cry from one of the stormtroopers, and a noise of slashing, blaster fire, and more growling and screaming. The officer in front of Akan had started to get up, drawing his small blaster in the process. Not one to let an opportunity disappear, Akan quickly pulled out his lightsaber, and started swinging it in a long arc towards the officer. It activated halfway through the arc, cleanly dividing the Imperial into two. Akan’s momentum spun him around on his right foot to see a closed door with three stormtroopers sprawled out in front of it. Scratch marks and bite marks all along their armor...and through it. Sitting there in front of them, was a large panther-like creature. It was white furred, with a long black stripe all the way own its body. It tilted its head to him, then Akan’s brain hurt.

The creature...changed. It was impossible to describe exactly what he watched, but in a few moments, Shadow was standing in front of him. She had a strange, predatory grin on her face. That grin was not something that would comfort anyone. Akan had seen a lot in a short twenty one years, but this was something new. His mouth was wide open, and she stepped over, tilting her head in the same way the panther creature had, “Close your mouth or you might swallow a bug,” that grin still on her face, Shadow spun around and started towards the door the stormtroopers were dead in front of. Over her shoulder, she called back, “And if we’re here to get information on why those scientists left, I’d suggest you not kill the officers.”
 
Chapter Nine: Starfighters Aren't Made for Passengers

The two of them had moved unobstructed through the installation for a what seemed like an eternity. The place was big. They had exchanged no words since hiding the bodies of the stormtroopers and the officer. Currently, they were standing on either side of a large access door to some research labs. Akan had felt many people on the other side, and Shadow, apparently, could hear some talking. After a few moments, she looked over to him and spoke quietly, “They have two scientists locked up in a food storage room past this lab...they still don’t know anyone’s here, and said something about a search of the area.”

“Good ears,” Akan mumbled, not really meaning for her to hear him say that ut realizing the irony in that thought almost immediately, “We aren’t here to save any captives, just figure out what’s going on.”

“I’m getting them out one way or another,” Shadow said, a hint of a growl in her voice. There was something about that Akan obviously had missed.

Instead of arguing the point, he simply put out a hand to signal she wait, and tapped the comm on his ear. In a short moment, he heard Ansion’s voice, “We’re a bit busy right now, you think you can wait to call at a better time?”

Akan grinned slightly, hearing the Verpine speaking like that was always funny, because the way his vocal cords were, sarcasm always sounded somewhat...childlike was they best way Akan could describe it, “Just telling you that we’re going to be coming back with some guests if all goes well. Shadow here wants us to get some captives out.”

“You deal with them,” Ansion said after a long pause and other loud noises, “We’ve got enough trouble out here with an Imperial transport that just landed that you’ll have to get out on your own. We’re not pulling out of here yet, but you’ve got about half an hour before we jump this rock. If you aren’t back on the Claw by then, well you’ll have to catch up on your own.”

“We’ll be there,” Akan responded, looking to Shadow and relaying the information he’d gotten.

She gave him a strange look, “What do the Imperial want with a science station way out here?”

“We’ll figure that out later...lets just do what we’re here to get payed for and go,” he said, nodding to the door and bringing his blaster up slightly, “Right now, the New Republic wants to know what happened, and the only way to that is through this door.”

Shadow got the idea, and put her hand over the switch to open the door. She gave him a look to make sure he was ready, and when he nodded, she opened the door. Akan quickly moved in, blaster raised and ready. The room was huge. The ceiling was domed with a transparasteel so that the trees on the outside could be easily seen. It almost looked like the room was once a hangar that had been converted to some other use, as there were two large bay doors and the many tables, desks, and consoles looked to be more recently installed. In the center of the room, there were at least six stormtroopers and four officers. Immediately upon his entering, the Imperials reacted.

Even if he hadn’t had his blaster pistol out, he’d probably have been greeted with the shots from the troopers that quickly moved in his direction. However, he might have at least had a chance for them to question him. But that wasn’t the case. Letting off three quick shots of his own, Akan dove and rolled behind a larger circular console off to his right. Blaster shots flew off past him and burned the other side of it. He quickly put the blaster back in the holster and got the lightsaber back out. Range? No. But the intimidation factor was always worth it.

Before he moved, he heard someone yell, “Another one!!” then blaster fire followed. Well, Shadow had moved in. Akan glanced to the side to see her, vibroblade in hand, duck and jump in an interesting pattern before she, too was pinned behind a console. She had, however, gotten closer than he had. Alright, no more spectator. The snap-hiss of the lightsaber cut off the voice of one of the officers who had just started to say something about being under arrest. They could probably see just the tip of the blue-green blade above the console, which made Akan grin even more. Letting the mood sit for just a few seconds longer, he got to his feet and spun around to face the Imperials. All but one of the officers were out of sight...Akan hadn’t heard any doors opening or closing, so he assumed they’d gone of and hid or were sneaking around. There were enough consoles and other large devices for that to be easy to do.

At seeing him, the six stormtroopers turned back to fire on him in a more panicked fashion. Most of the shots went wide, but Akan caught more the one on his lightsaber, sending them back at the stormtroopers who had quickly gotten the idea that it might be smart to spread out. One blaster bolt he even managed to send back to the faceplate of a stormtrooper, sending him sprawling onto his back, a puff of smoke now rising from the helmet. Shadow then took advantage of the situation, and with all the attention currently on Akan, she hopped up and over her cover, diving onto a stormtrooper and pinning him down. Her vibroblade was dug deep into the man’s unarmored neck, and then the others realized they’d have to divide their attention.

While they backed away, three of the troopers turned their weapons back onto Shadow, sending a barrage of blaster fire at her. The officer had also drawn his blaster pistol and fired at the feline creature. She had no trouble finding more cover, a large mainframe looking block that was placed close by. But when she rounded it, she found another of the officers. The Imperial was more surprised than Shadow, and let off a stray shot in panic that went past her ear, singing the fur slightly. She growled at that, and dug the vibroblade into the officer’s stomach, which caused him to cry out in pain before crumbling to the ground. Not dead, but close and wishing he was.

Akan had stayed in the open to keep as much of the attention on him as possible. However, two of the stormtroopers were moving slowly around to get to Shadow. The other two were still firing on him, and the officer who was in the open quickly moved behind a large holoprojecter that was the centerpiece to the room.

“Watch yourself, two coming around your way,” Akan ‘said’, sending the message to Shadow through the Force. He wasn’t sure if she’d gotten it, or even understood, but it was the best he had at this point. With a quick, upward sweep of the saber, he deflected two of incoming blaster shots at once, one of them flying back and catching a stormtrooper in the chest plate. He crumbled back onto the holoprojecter, and as Akan slowly started to move forward, still deflecting shots from the other trooper still focusing on him. When a short break in the constant blaster fire came up, he switched hands with his lightsaber, and drew his blaster pistol, letting off a shot at the trooper in the same motion. It hit dead center on the trooper and he crashed back against a small console. Deactivating his lightsaber, Akan fired off another shot, this time at one of the troopers that had gone after Shadow.

He missed by a good distance, but in a moment he saw a foot contact with the trooper’s helmet, and before he could fall, a vibroblade was inserted into his neck. Akan couldn’t see the other trooper, but assumed that Shadow had already dealt with him. That left...three officers. One was still behind the holoprojector, firing madly at Shadow. Akan ran over so he could get a sight on the man, and flipped a switch on his blaster pistol. He was heard, and the officer turned to get one shot off before the blue stun blast hit him and he collapsed.

Shadow was nearly already on top of the man, and she gave Akan a strange look before he motioned around, “Still three others.”

“Two,” Shadow corrected, her ears swiveling to catch something. She growled a little and looked towards the far wall, which did not have a large hangar door, “Door just closed...”

“This one will be out for a while, we’ll pick him up on the way back,” Akan commented, currently working out how to get three people into a Y-Wing. The officer could easily fit into the cargo compartment...but if they got one of the captives to bring back? The cockpit was going to be cramped...
 

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