Ansion, The Mid Rim
TWO YEARS AFTER THE CLONE WARS
Ataraxia drops out of hyperspace, and through the cockpit’s viewport Soleil sees the planet Ansion, a striated orb swirling with what look like rings, but are really high speed surface winds. The descent through the atmosphere is rocky, Ataraxia bucks and jolts against the heavy crosswinds threatening to rip the starship from the sky. Tik’Trii fights against the controls, and manages to smooth out the starship’s atmospheric plunge, settling down on a plain not far from the town of Jiangyin. Soleil and her crew, with the exception of B.B., set about erecting two fenced pens in the knee-high orange grass a short distance from Ataraxia‘s cargo lifts. Once the pens are properly set up, she sends Tik’Trii and Max back in the ship to run the cargo lifts.
The cargo lifts activate, slowly lowering the thirty Nerf they’re transporting for Councillor Harrik Talloran of Ord Mantell. Once the lifts touch the ground, Soleil and the rest of her crew coax the docile beasts into their pens, while they wait on the buyers to show. After about half an hour, and much cleaning the cargo lifts of Nerf droppings, a pair of Gran show up, the Zees brothers they were expecting to meet. After they greet Soleil and inspect the Nerfs, the three of them get down to business transferring both documents and credits. As soon as they hand Soleil a case full of credits however, a squad of scout troopers led by a dark-skinned Human with his helmet under his arm, emerge from the brush with their blasters drawn. “Paj and Attek Zees! You are wanted for the murder of Oren Lojai and theft of Imperial contraband! Stand down and submit to arrest or else!” The lead scout trooper yells at the two Gran. Stepping away from them with the case of credits, Soleil begins to back off towards her crew, but one of the Gran decides to resist arrest, drawing a blaster and gunning down one of the six scout troopers. Chaos quickly erupts as scout troopers begin shooting at anything that isn’t wearing Imperial armor, Soleil ducks for some cover from the blaster fire, the Gran try to blast their captors, and her crew either take cover as she did or begin returning fire at scout troopers who shot at them. One of the Gran brothers takes a blaster bolt in the stomach and drops to the ground, and the dark-skinned Human leading the scout troopers disarms the other and drops him by slamming the butt of his blaster rifle into the Gran’s three eyes.
Soleil yells at the Imperials to stop shooting at them, but it seems as though the scout trooper leader has already gotten control of his men; too late, as Soleil soon discovers. Raighl is bleeding in the dirt, a short distance from Soleil, a victim of one of the scout trooper’s stray blaster bolts. “You kriffing idiot!” Soleil screams at the scout trooper leader, who is busy securing his Gran captives. The scout troopers pay her no mind as they secure their Gran captives and drag them, along with the one dead scout trooper, to a landspeeder parked in the brush. Soleil starts to run after the damned Imperials, but the need to help her friend stops her in her tracks. “Hey! They’re getting away!” Oduph shouts to Soleil, but she makes a rude gesture at him and yells back in response. “Get the stretcher! Raighl needs to get on the ship now!” However, before Oduph can do anything, Shamü clomps over and gently scoops up the Umbaran woman in his arms as if she were a child. “No need to panic Captain,” Shamü says while carrying Raighl to Ataraxia‘s loading ramp and up it. While Shamü gently puts Raighl on a table in Ataraxia’s lounge, Soleil calls over B.B. on the internal comms.
“What’s the matter with you Captain? How can you be so callous! I was in the middle of- uh is she going to be okay?” B.B. asks, as he spots Raighl on the table as he enters the lounge. “Stop your yammering B.B. and help her!” Soleil yelsl at the Bith who begins to apply some bacta between Raighl‘s shoulder blade and collar bone. "I uh, I think I’m out of my depth here Captain," B.B. stammers, as he throws away another bloody rag and used bacta applicator onto the lounge floor. “What do you mean?” Soleil asks quietly, hoping she had just imagined what B.B. said. “I mean she needs an actual doctor, and some real medical facilities; not me who’s, you know, not a doctor, using a first-aid kit.” B.B. says. “Keep a close watch on her, I’m checking with Tik’Trii to see if there’s anywhere close we could take her,” Soleil says to B.B. as she runs out of the lounge.
Scrambling up the ladder to the cockpit, she’s surprised to see Tik’Trii checking the HoloNet‘s medical database for facilities. "Tik’Trii heard," he says to Soleil, never taking his large eyes off the hologram projected towards him. “The best, closest medical station is the Star Destroyer Obedience just outside the system. The next is…well, farther away than Tik’Trii imagines is good for Raighl’s health,” the small Chadra-Fan says. Soleil digests the bad news that the Empire are the only ones close enough to help Raighl, but nods to Tik’Trii in agreement. “It’s not what I want,” Soleil says, chewing her lip, “but what I want doesn’t matter right now. Get Raiden up here and chart the fastest course you can.” Ataraxia lifts off into the tumultuous atmosphere of Ansion, and Soleil stumbles back into the lounge to check on Raighl. She’s unconscious, and still bleeding, but B.B. is doing his best to apply bacta to the wound when needed. She hopes it will be enough, but knows it won’t. “Let me take over BB, you go find our genius Slicer so we can jump to hyperspace once we break free of Ansion’s gravity well.” B.B. gives Soleil a lazy, mock salute in silence, and rushes off in search of Raiden.
Sweating and stammering, B.B. nearly trips on his way back into the lounge with S19-N5 slowly trailing behind him. “Captain! I did as you asked and I found your droid for you. He can program the NaviComp, and we can be on our way shortly, I assume. Now if that’s all, I’ll be heading back to my shuttle-” “Raiden. R-A-I-D-E-N . Where is he? I told you to find Raiden, and you come back with Signs. You sure have selective hearing for someone with a so-called music career.” Soleil says to B.B., who just shrugs back. “Oh, that. Well Raiden’s not on the ship, according to your droid at least, so I just-” “WHAT?” She nearly screams in astonishment, “where is he? What did you do?” Soleil growls at B.B. who puts up his hands defensively. “I don’t know Captain! That’s why I brought your droid, it was the one to inform me that Raiden’s not onboard,” B.B. says, who then points accusingly at the droid. “It did it I’ll bet. Always roving around when everyone’s asleep. Who knows what it does! You know I caught it in the refresher once? What was it doing in there? Droids don’t poop! I’ll bet it’s been secretly recording me, hoping to-” “Enough!” Soleil shouts at B.B., “I asked Signs to clean the refresher, so If you’re not going to be useful, go stay in your shuttle! Now, Signs, tell me what happened to Raiden.” She says to S19-N5, who begins to utter a stream of beeps and whistles to Soleil, while B.B. skulks out of the lounge.
Soleil gathers her crew in the port cargo bay for a meeting, all but Raiden and Raighl, the latter still lying injured in Ataraxia‘s lounge. “It seems as though Raiden has been kidnapped while were shooting it out with the local scout-trooper patrol on Ansion. Apparently some old Clone Wars droids take people from time to time for maintenance workers, but few have been found, or made it back alive,” Soleil informs her crew. "Now Raighl doesn’t have that long to wait, and I won’t cut it close, for either of them. BB I’m taking your shuttle, along with you and Signs, to transport Raighl to the Star Destroyer Obedience to get her the medical treatment she needs. The Empire won’t destroy a small craft looking for medical aid, the worst they’ll do is just ignore us. Tik’Trii, you’re going to take Ataraxia, and the rest of you are going back to Ansion to rescue Raiden. Hopefully those clankers haven’t done anything to him. Is everyone clear on the plan?" She finishes, hoping that it is, but Max begins jumping up and down and waving his arms. “Yes Max?” Soleil sighs, hoping the small Squib doesn’t have any outlandish requests that Raighl may literally not have any time for. “While you gone Captain, can me use missiles?” The Squib asks, with an impish grin plastered on his face. “Only if Oduph and Tik’Trii supervise, no exceptions.” She says, finalizing the matter. “Time to save some lives.”
“Seeing Ataraxia jump to hyperspace from an observers perspective is strange, like someone else driving off with a part of you, far, far away,” Soleil thinks to herself. Raighl is laid out on a stretcher behind her, with S19-N5 holding it steady in his claw arm. B.B. is co-piloting, if it can be called that, the Bith is doing little real work in helping Soleil pilot the small RC-2 Twilight Scoutship towards the Star Destroyer that looms ahead through the starship’s viewport. “Uh, Captain…You sure this is where you want us to be?” B.B. asks nervously. “Yep, unfortunately it sure is.” Soleil laments, awed by the size of the Imperial-Class Star Destroyer that only gets larger as they approach. The Venator-Class Star Destroyers the Republic used in the Clone Wars were large, but this is larger still by about a third, making it one of the largest starships she has ever seen.
“RC-2 Scoutship, identify yourself immediately,” a crisp Coruscanti accent states, as the comms crackle to life, startling them both. “Star Destroyer Obedience this is Imperial Senate craft Twilight Princess seeking medical aid. Please respond,” Soleil says, hoping that the ruse will work. “Twilight Princess we’re not seeing an Imperial Senate designation on your craft, if you could provide a clearance code we-” The comms abruptly cut out, but crackle back to life after a moment of silence. “Disregard that Twilight Princess . Tractor beam has you, and will park you in the main hangar bay, where a security team will meet with you. Please power down any weapons,” the Imperial concludes, with the comms going silent with another static crackle. While the tractor beam guides the starship into the Star Destroyer’s gaping maw of a hangar bay, B.B. goes about ensuring any obvious contraband or distasteful material of his is secured, hidden, or trashed, while Soleil secures Raighl’s ident-card, which hopefully will be all they need to sell the ruse entirely.
The airlock to the RC-2 is forcefully opened, and four stormtroopers file in, followed by a grey-uniformed Imperial officer. The middle-aged Human visually inspects the starship, making visual twinges of disgust every time his eyes meet something that offends him. Finally he addresses Soleil while nearly ignoring Raighl on the stretcher in front of him. “We’re not a civilian medical facility,” The officer states bluntly and does an about-face, ready to march out of the starship with his men. “I wouldn’t do that sir, unless you’d enjoy answering to the Senate subcommittee for naval conduct,” Soleil says simply to the dark-haired man. The Imperial officer gives a short bark of a laugh and turns to face her, “are you threatening me, Zeltron ?” The officer says coldly, to which Soleil only shakes her head. “Not a threat sir, a promise. A promise that I will inform this young woman’s father, the Senator of Zeltros, how you callously denied his daughter the medical treatment that could have saved her life. And then you’d be dragged out in front of the subcommittee for hearings on your conduct. Won’t that be fun? And now, I know you won’t be terminated, but you’ll be demoted. You’ll never work on a Star Destroyer again, let alone leave whatever backwater you get assigned to pending the hearing. But that’s assuming I need to keep my promise, right sir?” Soleil says, laying out his options and releasing clouds of her pheromones into the air. The officer pales, begins sweating, and snatches the ident-card from Raighl’s stretcher, plugging it into a handheld datapad.
The Imperial Officer’s eyes widen in surprise, and he begins rattling off orders to the stormtroopers accompanying him, “Get this woman to the medical bay immediately! Disarm these civilians and escort them to an observation deck in the medical bay as well.” The stormtroopers grab Soleil and B.B. by the shoulders and jostles them out of the RC-2 and are escorted through the expansive corridors of the Star Destroyer to its medical bay; Raighl‘s stretcher is taken a different way, one that is presumably quicker and requires no walking, Soleil suspects. After walking for nearly twenty minutes, and taking a turbolift, they end up at the medical bay, though it appears as though it’s sealed off from patient intake and can only be seen through a large viewport as doctors work on Raighl’s blaster wound.
Hours later, an Imperial surgeon dressed in grey and white medical garments arrives through a side door with a clipboard, and Raighl‘s ident-card. "We’ve done all we can. It looks like she’ll make a full recovery, though you’ll have to wait here for a few more hours before she’ll be well enough to travel," the doctor says, handing Soleil the ident-card, and exiting through the same door that he entered from. Soleil walks up to the viewport and looks down at Raighl sleeping in a medical bunk; her thoughts turning to her crew and Ataraxia, and she hopes they’ve found Raiden safely.
Tik’Trii’s face scrunches in frustration, big black eyes wide with a comical grimace.
“How does the ‘master slicer’ get kidnapped by a bucket of bolts?! Raiden better have a good explanation when Tik’Trii finds him.” He flicks over to the nav computer, punching in what little information they have and start scanning for the droids. “Oh yah~” Tik’Trii drawls sarcastically, “Just go west, can’t miss it… West isn’t a lot to go on, old ma-!… Oh hmm.” The sensors blink as it bounces back ping after ping from hundreds of battle droids all clustered in an encampment.
Oduph rumbles, clearly excited by the horde of things to fight. Tik’Trii chuckles as it looks like his trigger finger is actually twitching. Max is practically salivating, probably dreaming of all that salvage. Tik’Trii brings Ataraxia around, strafing over the mobs of battle droids, and spots Raiden at it’s heart. Tik’Trii’s ears perk in confusion, “Why is he tied up like that?”
Raiden wriggles in futility, tied to a stake on top of a pile of wood, the battle droids raise their metal fists to the sky chanting all kinds of nonsense. The growing call to “Burn the Reprogrammer!” changes everything. Tik’Trii swirls around in the pilot seat, scrabbling for the words, but all that comes out is “Shoot!”. Oduph wastes no time, charging up the heavy laser cannons and raining down laser fire into the crowds of battle droids. Charred pieces of arms and chassis fly into the air in all directions, the small explosions mixed in with the pitiful wails of the defective droids would almost be funny if they weren’t blasting my ship. Ataraxia lists lazily over the mob, and Tik’Trii lands it in the newly formed clearing made from their attack run.
Leaping out of the seat and almost falling down the ladder out of the cockpit Tik’Trii shouts orders, “Tik’Trii will get Raiden on Tik’Trii’s speeder. Do not stop firing!” Visions of his precious speeder being blown to bits in a large explosion stops Tik’Trii dead and he quickly scampers back up the ladder, staring daggers at Max. “NO MISSILES, MAX! Tik’Trii is not going to deal with that mess.” The young Squib glares back, huffing and muttering to himself. Down in the cargo hold, Tik’Trii revs his speeder to life, and checks the newly installed weapon systems as the loading lift descends. A shadow looms over him, and looking up Tik’Trii sees Shamü settling himself onto the speeder’s attached hitch, his bulk beginning to strain its repulsorlift. “Allow me to help you in saving Mr. Anders, little Tik’Trii!” Shamü bellows to him, while the Herglic is strapping himself into the hitch. Battle droids flail their make-shift weapons and a hail of blaster bolts whizz past their heads, but Tik’Trii couldn’t care less. The feeling of the engine beneath him once again, Tik’Trii can hardly hope to contain his cackling if he wanted to. Flying off the lift before it’s even touched the ground the battle droids shout their bizarre zealotry as the nose of the speeder plows them over like blades of grass. The high pitch whine of the blaster rings out as Tik’Trii shoots a path to Raiden, the droids’ wild blaster fire singeing his fur more than he’d like, but it doesn’t matter now.
Tik’Trii pulls up along side the pyre and Shamü tears down Raiden and shoves him onto the seat behind Tik’Trii. Tik’Trii pulls his googles down over his eyes as Oduph lets loose another volley from the cannons. “Shamü’s got him! Fire up the engines, we need to get out of here.” Tik’Trii squeaks into the comms, drifting through battle droids back onto the loading lift. Oduph comes to grab Raiden off the hitch; Tik’Trii stares blankly at the pock marks and scorched paint of his once immaculate speeder. “Raiden! You owe me a new paint job!” Tik’Trii lets out a long sigh, the adrenaline high fading away.
“Tik’Trii hopes Raighl is alright.”