The Mid Rim
TWO YEARS AFTER THE CLONE WARS
Soleil wipes the sleep from her eyes, still groggy after being woken by the transmission from the ICS. Heading up to the cockpit, she punches in the coordinates for Fornax Station, and goes to wake up Tik’Trii while S19-N5 calculates the jump to hyperspace. A sleepy Tik’Trii climbs the ladder to the cockpit, as Soleil sets about waking the other members of your crew for the stop-over. After a couple hours in hyperspace, they reach Fornax Station, orbiting the ringed gas-giant. Tik’Trii smoothly cruises Ataraxia into a docking bay and Soleil, Raighl, Oduph, Max and Tik’Trii disembark and work their way through the station’s corridors to the administration level. Approaching an office, Soleil notices an old man with ill-fitting clothing behind an enclosed counter who looks up and regards the crew as they approach. “Yes?” The man asks, “What can I do for you?” ‘’Are you Li-Shen?’’ Soleil asks, showing him a copy of her ICS transmission. ‘’Ah! Why yes indeed. My name is Li-Shen, and you must be the Captain I’ve been waiting on. You know you should have more respect for your elders, I think I strained something hauling your package into the courier depot! Tzao-gao! Not enough droids to do the work around here,’’ the old man grumbles before shuffling into the back of the office.
After some loud crashing noises, Li-Shen comes out of the office carrying out a rectangular container, almost two metres long with the help of a protocol droid and places it on the floor. “This is the package Captain. Now place your thumb here to confirm your genetic identity,” The old man says, as Soleil touches her finger to the datapad he has placed on top of the container. Once the datapad confirms Soleil’s identity, Li-Shen seems satisfied and shuffles back to the office, leaving her with the unknown package.
Reaching out, Soleil tries an edge of the container, finding a release trigger for the lid. Oduph gives her a hand hauling off the heavy lid, and suddenly Soleil‘s staring into a familiar face, one she hasn’t seen since the Clone Wars. Corporal Cresh, blue hair styled into a crest, is lying in the container in scrubbed Clone armor as if prepared for a state funeral. “What’d go you order a dead guy for Captain? I could have found you one, if you really wanted one I guess,” Oduph asks, scratching one of his eyestalks in confusion. “Out! Out! Out!” Li-Shen hisses at the five of them, motioning Soleil away from the container holding Cresh. ‘’I can’t have bodies coming through my station Captain! Not through the ICS, the Empire will cut my funding and end service to the station. Or worse! They might come here with their stormtroopers, shooting up the place, disrupting my business! Get that out of here Captain, now!" Sealing the container again, Soleil and Oduph lift it carefully and the five of them return to Ataraxia, leaving the old administrator fuming. Setting Cresh’s ‘coffin’ into the starboard cargo hold, Soleil goes about explaining to her crew her history with Corporal Cresh in the Clone Wars, while Raighl searches Cresh’s body for any indication of why he was shipped to Soleil.
Raighl eventually pulls a small holoprojector from a hidden nook in the container, which plays a holo message. ‘’Hello this is CT-7354. My name is Cresh, and this message is intended for Sergeant Soleil, formerly of the Republic military. I sure hope you’re the one listening to this Sarge. I have little time, I’ve made so many mistakes and I know I’m getting put out of commission soon, I’m just hoping you can help this soldier complete one last mission for old time’s sake. I need you to get my body to my brothers on Mygeeto, led by a man named Rex; they deserve to know what happened to me and that what we did during the war wasn’t our fault. The nightmare is finally over for me Sarge, take this Clone home and the truth along with him.‘’ The holo recording ends, and a serious of medical charts and diagrams begin displaying, which end when Soleil promptly shuts off the holoprojector. "I guess we’re heading to Mygeeto," she says, directing Tik’Trii and Raiden to plot a course to Mygeeto and calculate the jump to hyperspace. Oduph raises an eyestalk at Soleil questioningly, “Captain, I don’t see the percentage in dealing with a dead guy. How are we gonna get paid again?” Raighl shoots him a dirty look, while Soleil gets up from the couch and leaves the lounge to get some much needed rest.
Nearly two days in hyperspace pass before they reach Mygeeto, but immediately the calm is broken as Ataraxia is hit with a laser blast, sending the whole ship rocking. Soleil vaults up the ladder to the cockpit; Tik’Trii is at the pilot controls, Raighl is co-piloting, while Oduph is at the gunner controls. No sooner can Soleil ask for an update, than a transmission is broadcast over the internal comms, as it is forwarded through Ataraxia‘s systems. ’’This is second-lieutenant Warrens of the Imperial Navy. We have been diverted by ISB to run scans on suspicious vessels in this system, and you match descriptions forwarded to us by administration on Fornax Station. You will stand down and be boarded while we search your vessel for contraband. Any resistance will result in your termination.‘’ Soleil activates the comms and sends a message to the Imperial gunship closing in on Ataraxia. "Whoa! Not so fast lieutenant, you knocked out our airlock control with that warning shot of yours. No can do with the whole boarding thing, assuming you don’t want to take a walk into hard vacuum?" The comms system’s holoprojector activates, displaying a black-haired man not yet middle-age, with extensive burns on the left side of his face, down to his neck. “Captain. You will hand over that body or else,” the Imperial officer threatens. " Wow, you really want that Clone. Now how exactly are you going to get it if you blow up my ship? That body will go up with the rest of us if you do," Soleil turns away from the holoprojector and assk Tik’Trii quietly, “Think you can outrun this guy?” Tik’Trii smirks and comically thuds his diminutive chest with an even smaller fist. “Tik’Trii can outrun them all Captain!”
Ataraxia accelerates sharply, turning and twisting into a corkscrew heading down into Mygeeto‘s atmosphere. The small holo-image of lieutenant Warrens glares at Soleil menacingly. “FINE! Have it your way Zeltron,” the Imperial officer shouts at her, “We can do this on the ground too.” The holoprojector shuts down as the transmission is ended, prompting Soleil to run to the cargo bay with Cresh in it, hoping to see just what the interest in her friend’s corpse is. Oduph follows Soleil to the cargo bay, and the two of them begin re-checking the container holding Cresh, along with his body and his clothes. “Find anything?” She asks Oduph as he tears apart a wooden insert that Cresh’s body was resting on. “Not unless these boards are made out of magical wish-granting wood Captain,” Oduph loudly complains to Soleil. But then it hits her; it’s not something on Cresh they’re looking for, it is Cresh. Clones are property, not citizens. Sealing Cresh’s coffin, Soleil dashes back up to the cockpit to get an update, but a jolting lurch that knocks her off her feet suggests it’s not going well.
Snowy peaks swiftly streak by the cockpit’s viewport as Tik’Trii pulls Ataraxia into a tight turn around one of the mountaintops and down into a canyon system. The Imperial gunship follows, taking shots but the laser bursts only kick up rock and snow. The barrage of lasers stops, with the pursuing gunship accelerating until both ships are neck and neck, fighting for space in the narrow canyon. Allowing the Imperial gunship to pull ahead Tik’Trii fires the laser cannons, but the blasts seem to be ineffectual, striking only the Imperial gunship’s shields. Raighl begins priming the launch tube with a real missile, not a transponder decoy like the one used to fool the Empire at Ord Mantell, and begins tracking the gunship with the launch controls. Just before a bank in the canyon, Raighl fires a missile, the projectile striking beneath one of the gunship’s engines, slamming it into the canyon wall and detonating it in a fiery burst.
Leaving the canyon behind Tik’Trii flies Ataraxia to Stalbans, landing on the outskirts of the city. Soleil and Raighl leave the others and take Cresh to this ‘Captain Rex’ that they’re supposed to meet, borrowing Tik’Trii‘s speeder with Cresh’s container loaded onto the hitch. The wind is picking up, whipping up ice crystals into the air in a frosty mist as the two of them speed down a series of side streets in the snowy town. Soleil and Raighl Nova eventually come to the coordinates that were given and Soleil gives the door a slight knock; answering the door is a Clone in his thirties, with short shaved hair dyed blonde. “Can I help you with something, miss?” The Clone asks, to which they both nod. “Captain Rex? I was sent to meet you by someone we both know, Corporal Cresh. He asked me to deliver his body to you. He was my friend.” Rex’s stern look softens and he opens the door to let the two women in. “He was my brother, he was all our brothers.” As Rex spans his arm in the room, indicating two other Clones, one of them with a cybernetic eye. “You’ve done so much helping him miss, but, and pardon me for sounding blunt, but why would you help a Clone? Most people don’t think of us as anything more than relics from the Clone Wars.” Soleil extends her hand in greeting, and Rex takes it. ‘’My name is Captain Soleil, and I served as a Sergeant in the Republic military during the Clone Wars, Cresh was under my command. We were on Muunilinst when the Emperor ordered…never mind.’’ Rex puts his hand on her shoulder, “Those days haunt us still ma’am. But there’s nothing we can do. Did…did Cresh have something with him? The last time we spoke to him—” Soleil cuts Rex off by handing him Cresh’s holorecorder. “Everything is in there, I hope you get your answers Captain Rex.” Soleil tells the Clone, staying for the short ceremony they hold in Cresh’s honour before her and Raighl return to Ataraxia.