Chapter 1: The Captain's
In the cold
and bare naval morgue, Piett stared in quiet horror at the figure
lying on the examiner's table, barely visible beneath the white
sheet. This corpse had once been his dear friend, Captain Lorth
not too far off, stared out the viewport, pretending to be absorbed
in a nearby quasar, with its purple reds exploding into brilliant
color. His face looked grave and colorless.
Veers thought. He turned and saw the guilt written on Firmus'
blame yourself," Veers ordered. "There was nothing you
slid open and the chief coroner entered. A man of advanced age,
his wizened face peering out behind a pair of antique eyeglasses,
he put his datapad down. "Gentlemen, I have news for you.
We have completed our autopsy, and tests confirm that this corpse
is not the captain's."
felt a surge of relief.
a clone?" Veers asked.
A well-engineered one."
lit up. "That explains how the Millennium Falcon got away.
The clone purposely let them escape."
"The real Lorth would not have given up so easily. And it
isn't like him to feel compelled to 'apologise' to Lord Vader
in person, either."
find that rather odd," assented Piett.
more," said the coroner, plucking a small knife from his
pocket. "The clone had concealed this in his uniform. It's
quite possible that he intended to kill someone with it."
he wanted to 'apologise'," Piett mused. "To get within
arm's length of Vader."
he didn't count on Vader killing him first." Veers added.
So where was
moved with purpose through the rebel battleship. This was no routine
visit by any means. She turned the case over in her mind: Imperial
officer held captive, the infamous captain of the Star Destroyer
said that he had been spirited out of the Avenger in a crate,
under heavy sedation. A clone had taken his place but was executed
by Darth Vader. It was only a matter of time before the Imperials
discovered the truth.
the cell observation deck where an interrogation officer curiously
watched the prisoner through a one way glass. Inside the darkened
room sat the captain, his arms bound behind his back. His cheeks
were hollow and he looked as if he hadn't had much food or rest.
asked the interrogation officer, "Are you ready to interview
yes. I have been looking forward to it."
a tough one. Three days straight interrogation, won't break."
cell under armed guard, Mon Mothma cautiously approached the disheveled
and gaunt figure.
Senator Mon Mothma. I'm here to ask you about your actions against
the Rebel Alliance."
up at her with an evil sneer.
light she could see the severe torture that he'd bravely sustained.
Out of habit from her days as a doctor, she began to make a mental
note of his injuries: deep hematoma to the upper torso... possible
ruptured spleen... second degree burns to the left scapula...
possible dislocated shoulder... broken ribs.
What had they
done to him?
He was in
a lot of pain, and trained his face not to show it but all the
signs were there: shallow breathing, glazed eyes.
do you know what is the first rule of self defense?" he asked.
He was patronising
her. Typical, she thought. Most military men were out to make
her feel her place was in the home and not in the political arena.
"No," she wearily replied.
In an instant,
he was on his feet, grabbed a blaster from the inattentive soldier's
holster, and aimed it to her temple. He tightened his arm around
her neck. She struggled, but could not escape his vice-like grip.
first rule is to never, ever, let your guard down," he said.
barely had time to draw their weapons.
your weapon! Drop it!" they yelled desperately.
He edged himself
and his hostage slowly towards the door.
the door now," he ordered.
The men hesitated.
feel the muzzle grinding against her temple. The man was on edge,
capable of anything.
do what he says!" she snapped.
opened. The interrogation officer stood there. "You're not
getting away with this, captain."
as I have thoroughly enjoyed your hospitality," he said,
"I fear I must depart." Blaster in hand, he and Mon
Mothma moved out of the cell and into the corridor.
followed them closely as Needa and Mon Mothma inched their way,
painfully slowly, down the hall and into the docking bay of the
With the adrenalin
pumping through his veins, Needa's senses were acute as ever.
It was his luck that Mon Mothma's security had been lackadaisical,
neglecting to change shift after a long and taxing voyage. Fatal
unhurried steps they moved, Needa calculating risks, ensuring
that the Rebels never got a clean shot, especially from behind.
He kept close to the walls, knowing that one mistake could cost
him his life.
woman trembled, her perfume occasionally breaking his concentration.
No doubt she was afraid. She probably thinks I will kill her,
he thought. So much the better, she will surely cooperate from
approached too closely from behind. Needa casually shot him in
the leg. The soldier fell to the ground, whimpering in pain. The
others cautiously withdrew.
closer to the ships nearer to the docking bay. He knew right away
which one to board. The smaller, lighter ship. The one armed with
missiles, and a cloaking device. But did it have an up-to-date
hyperdrive? No matter, he thought. The cloaking device would more
than make up for that.
Up above them,
in the rafters, a sniper took careful aim. But Needa reacted too
late, having pulled away, the shot came perilously close to the
senator's head. The shot hit a utility shaft, spewing steam into
It was more
than Needa had hoped for. Under the cover of the steam he made
a run for the ship with his captive. Closing the door behind them,
on the bridge, he engaged the deflector shields and powered up
the sub-light engines for launch. Down below, the Rebels were
utterly powerless to stop him.
he ordered Mon Mothma, gesturing with the blaster to a nearby
corner, "sit over there, and don't try anything."
calmly, trying to control her fear.
out of the battleship, and as soon as open space was before them,
he engaged the cloaking device.
officer stood at the edge of the docking bay, fuming with anger
as the ship disappeared from view.
Chapter 2: The Journey to Executor
into the chair wearily, and set course for the Executor. With
the ship's speed specifications, it would take them eighteen hours
to get there. Not exactly ideal, considering the pain he was in.
He wiped the sweat from his brow.
Eighteen bloody hours.
the controls so that Mon Mothma wouldn't be able to alter the
ship's course, and put a palm print lock on the blaster, just
in case. Better safe than sorry, he thought. Who knows? She might
be capable of a lot more than she lets on.
to her. "Are you all right?"
fine," she assured him, rubbing her wrist, which had turned
black and blue. "Don't worry about me. It's you who needs
help, I think."
a surgeon. I can help you."
me, but I can't exactly entrust you with my life just now."
sit and argue here all day but it won't change the fact that you
need immediate medical attention. If you wait till we get to the
Executor, it may be too late."
thoughtfully at the heavy crimson stain spreading across his uniform.
His side felt like it was on fire.
the lights inside the deck went red and a general alarm sounded.
not believe what he saw on the screen.
a seismic charge, dead ahead. An antique left over from the clone
wars. It's coming towards us."
From the viewport
a small yellow flash approached them at terrific speed. Needa
engaged the missiles, locked on it, and fired.
In a voice
filled with dread he shouted, "It'll detonate too close!
As the missiles
made contact with the seismic charge, a white flash blinded them,
and a shock wave grew with unimaginable force, it's brilliant
blue rim approaching them with frightening speed.
was certain this was the end.
see she was overawed by the magnitude of the approaching shockwave.
He did not even stop to think, he merely embraced her and dove
roar shattered the viewport windows and pitched the craft into
a tumble. Lethal shards of plexi peppered the air and exited into
the vacuum of space. They hung on breathlessly until the blast
doors automatically sealed the now useless viewports. Oxygen flooded
the deck again.
slowly regained consciousness. Raising herself up, it immediately
became clear to her that the severely wounded captain had shielded
her from the lethal debris. Many large shards, some as large as
knives, lay embedded in his back. He was frighteningly pale and
Chapter 3: Mon Mothma, MD
his eyes and found himself lying in sickbay. Mon Mothma, seated
on a chair, dozed wearily beside him, still dressed in a green
surgeon's scrub uniform, a gauze mask hanging from her neck. Small
specks of blood still on her face.
the blanket, he saw that he was covered in bandages. He could
recognise the familiar smell of bacta. An IV of fresh blood was
being transfused into him.
from her sleep, wearily raising her head. "Up already, eh?,"
she said, rubbing her eyes. "That's good. How do you feel?"
pain in my side. It's all gone."
contained your internal injuries. Took three hours, but you'll
be all right. The painkiller's doing its job, I see."
to the packet of blood. "Yours?"
have much choice, really. It isn't like there were other donors
aboard. You're lucky. We're the same blood-type."
at her rather guiltily. "Thanks, senator."
thank you enough for shielding me from the plexi debris. Very
brave of you," she admitted. "You probably saved my
life... You can call me Simara. We're blood relations, now."
first name basis already. My, doesn't this qualify as 'fraternising
with the enemy'?'"
I owe you an apology," she said, avoiding his eyes. "You
shouldn't have been tortured. It was wrong. A clear violation
of the code. I'm so sorry you were treated abominably."
men were quite zealous. I suppose they thought they were saving
lives. Put in their place, I would be no different. All the same,
I accept." He held out his hand.
it, still embarrassed.
impressed. She's not bad at all, he thought.
him a white container, ship rations in a self heating strip. "Here,
eat this. Doctor's orders."
"Is this Kashyyyk kelp?"
afraid it is," she smiled.
On the bridge,
Mon Mothma tried endlessly to override the ship's course.
was locked, and worse, the comm link transmitter had been damaged
in the shockwave. There was no way to contact the Alliance.
sorry, but unless you know how to land a ship without windows,
I can't let you take over."
It was Lorth, supporting himself on the doorway.
blame me for trying, can you?"
I can't." He could see she had been crying. She was afraid.
honestly think Palpatine will treat me humanely, or Vader for
should have considered that before you defied the Empire."
her head sadly and walked out.
He went over
to the controls, reviewed the coordinates, and attempted to triangulate
a shorter, more direct course to the Executor.
timidly, "Might I ask a favor of you?"
he replied, so deeply absorbed in his calculations that he didn't
even look up.
Vader 'disposes' of me, will you send word to my brother on Chandrilla?
So he can send for my remains," she said with much gravity.
"I'd like that. Can you please do that for me?"
clearly held no illusions of her cruel fate in Vader's hands.
He felt sorry for her.
stopped his work and nodded, unable to look her in the face. "I
shall see to it personally."
you, Captain." And she left.
rest of the journey, she never again referred to him as Lorth.
To her, he was again her captor, her enemy.
Chapter 4: They Arrive
ready. We're nearly there," Needa announced.
glided down and slowly landed. The doors opened, letting the cold
wind in. It was dark outside.
first." He gestured towards the door.
onto the tarmac. To her surprise, there were no waiting stormtroopers.
It was not the docking bay of the Executor. The lights of the
towering structures nearby were instantly familiar. "You
brought me home," she said, utterly astonished.
see, at the far end of the platform, Chandrillan guards approaching.
They were heavily armed and would no doubt arrest him. "There's
not much time," he urged.
The wind swept
at her hair. She came close and embraced him. He summoned the
courage and kissed her on the lips. Holding her close, sweet and
intoxicating, she responded by prolonging the kiss and for a brief
moment they forgot where they were.
her eyes were filled with immeasurable tenderness.
It took all
his strength and self will to pull away gently from her embrace
and say, "Now, go."
guards were almost upon them. She stood and watched as he barely
had enough time to retreat into the ship. He hit the controls
on the door and launched.
there on the platform, barely paying attention to the commotion
around her. Later, the base psychologist put it down to post traumatic
stress. She was fortunate that no one had seen their parting kiss.
to the bridge. He was both sad and exhilarated by their parting.
Damn this war, he thought. Damn.
himself unhappily to the task of returning to the Executor. Much
to his dismay, the anti-matter cells were almost spent. The ship
would lose power before he could reach the fleet.
Chapter 5: The Executor
and General Veers had read the reports. Intelligence had traced
the clone to a renegade scientist on Kamino. Spies reported an
Imperial prisoner who had escaped from a Rebel battleship.
we detect a derelict craft approaching the fleet. It isn't responding
to any of our messages," said the lieutenant.
"How did a small ship like that drift into deep space all
by itself? Any life forms?"
there are. Signs show it has long been adrift. It could have been
part of a convoy and gotten lost."
it, and scan for bombs. It could be a trap."
waited as the ship landed on the platform of the Executor. With
laser cutters they gained entry, then the soldiers made their
sweep, room after room.
the walls. How long that ship had been out there was anyone's
we found something," reported a private. In the hypersleep
chamber was the unmistakable figure of Captain Needa.
Veers made haste to the platform. The captain was carried out
on a stretcher, attached to an emergency life support system.
all right?" Veers asked.
alive, sir. He just needs to wake from the hypersleep," the
medic reported. They put the stretcher down.
Veers came close. The medic opened Needa's shirt and saw his scars.
They couldn't even imagine what he'd been through. "Those
rebels are going to pay," Veers angrily murmured.
Piett said. "Lorth," he repeated, shaking him gently.
Needa opened his eyes and saw Piett and Veers. His face brightened.
Max. I'm so glad to be back... have I got a story to tell you."
* fin *