Rey sat in a dusky, smoke filled bar. Across from him sat a sweaty, disgustingly fat man. With the table surrounded by curious spectators, the two men stared at their sabacc cards.
"Seven thousand." The fat man grunted as he threw three coins into the middle fo the table.
"Ten." Rey said sharply.
"You're bluffing." The fat man said half angrily.
"Am I?" Rey asked, as if he had no idea what the answer was.
"Ten." The fat man said, taking back two of the coins and adding a different one.
"Change of rules." A droids mechanical voice calmly said, seemingly unaware of the tension that filled the room. "Corellian Gambit rules, last-hand special case." The two men stared hard at their electronic cards.
"Watcha got Daggerscout?" The fat man demanded as sweat dripped down his swollen face. Rey took a sip from his drink and lay his cards out, with the fat man following his example.
The fat man laughed a loud laugh of relief and victory, and guzzled down the rest of his drink, spilling the clear liquid from the corners of his mouth. "You lose Daggerscout," He said slowly, savoring every moment of his victory.
Suddenly he jumped up, knocking over his chair and scattering the spectators. "Give me my money!!!" He yelled, spit flying in all directions.
Rey took a deep breath. "I..I..don't have it with me." He said, hesitating.
"Don't have it?! You..I'll..." The fat man said, drool and sweat dripping onto the table. The fat mans face turned red and he threw the table over, on top of Rey. "I want my money!!" The man yelled like a spoiled child.
"You'll get it, I assure you." Rey said calmly as he moved the overturned table from on top of him.
"I better! By tomorrow, Daggerscout! Or you're a dead man! Dead!"
Rey walked out of the bar, almost afraid to turn his back on the fat man.
Where was he going to get ten thousand credits by tomorrow? Rey was only twenty-five years old and didn't make very much money. He sat down in his speeder. That's it, he'll sell his speeder. He wished more than anything that he hadn't raised him three thousand.
Rey drove straight to a speeder dealership and made an offer. "I can give you seven thou for it." The female Ithorian dealer said.
"You don't understand. I need ten." Rey begged.
"Sorry, can't do it. Times are tough." She said with a shrug.
"No matter how tough they are for you, they're worse for me. Trust me."
"Sorry. Seven is as high as I can go. Take it or leave it." Rey thought for a few moments.
"Oh, all right. I guess I'll take it." Rey said, defeated.
Rey took his seven thousand and pondered about what to do. He could go to another bar and try to win three thousand more credits at another sabacc game. No. No more sabacc.
Rey took a public transport to one of the many spaceports of Corellia. It would be too easy for them to track him if he took a Liner, so he'd have to charter a ship.
"Look, I got five thousand credits." Rey said to a greasy pilot.
"How far do think you'll go for five thousand?" The pilot asked.
"I don't know. I'll go anywhere. It just has to be very far away."
"Anywhere? Listen, I was just about to go to Tatooine. It's this frontier desert planet in the Outer Rim Territories. If you wanna go, I'll let you hitch a ride for five thousand."
"It's a deal." Rey said, grinning.
The two left for Tatooine early the next morning. After four hours of traveling through hyperspace, they arrived at Mos Eisely, a spaceport on Tatooine.
"Go to Anchorhead. You're too nice a guy to live around here. Find the Transport Depot. And don't trust anyone." The pilot instructed. "Good luck." He granted, shaking Rey's hand.
Rey took a transport to Anchorhead as he was told, and rented a small one room apartment for 250 credits a month. He easily found a job at the settlement that was somewhat lacking in good mechanics at the time. Soon, he was the owner of his own repulsorlift repair shop.
One day, a moisture farmer by the name of Tyuk came into the shop with a TX-3 landspeeder and his 18 year old daughter, Quet.
"Well, it looks like your Centrifugal Debris Extractor is shot. I'll have to order you a new one, and it'll take a while for it to get here." Rey said, wiping lubricant from his hands as he glared into the blazing twin suns.
"Blast it! I need the speeder to get to my vaporators. I'm in it deep now." Tyuk said, staring at the broken speeder as if it were the cause of every single problem that has arisen in his hard life.
"I'll tell you what," Rey said, sensing the farmer's anguish. "I know some Jawas, and I can see if they have an extractor. It'll be used, but it should be alright until the new one comes in."
"Alright." Tyuk reluctantly agreed, trying to estimate at how much extra this will cost him. "I'll leave my daughter, Quet, here. She can drive the speeder home when you're done."
Quet was your typical moisture farmers daughter. Dirty, sun bleached hair, wrinkles around her eyes from squinting, hands callused from the constant maintenance of droids and moisture vaporators. Rey was in love at first sight. Within the next season, they were married.
Rey bought his own small plot of land just outside town, and had a brand new house built on it. Within a year after that, Quet bore Rey his first son, Koe. Two standard years after that, Tap, the second son, entered the world. Four years later came the arrival of the couples youngest son, Teke.
Tap stood on the edge of a narrow canyon in the Jundland Wastes with the wind blowing through his shaggy light brown hair. Standing beside him, was the ten year old Teke, eagerly staring down the crevasse. With them stood a small group of apprehensive adolescents.
"Here they come!" Yelled the young Teke, jumping up and down. The other children scooted as close as they could to the edge of the canyon without falling in.
Suddenly with a deafening roar, three T-16 Skyhoppers at full speed blasted through the canyon. The children began shouting and waving their arms around as the racing airspeeders flew by.
Coming near the end of the canyon, two of the speeders pulled up, while the other kept straight. The children tried to shout louder, but their small lungs wouldn't allow it. At the last possible moment, before the apparently suicidal speeder pilot smashed into the canyon wall at an excess of 1,200 kmh, the daredevil with a death wish pulled out, almost scraping the bottom of his speeder on the edge of the canyon.
The children continued shouting and waving their arms through the cloudless blue sky until the speeders disappeared on the horizon.
"I bet he races swoops too." Teke said with a huge smile, and a hoarse voice.
"He does not." A little girl said matter-of-factly. "That's not possible." She said, putting her tiny hands on her hips.
"He does so. He told me himself." Teke said, sticking his chin high in the dry dessert air.
"Shut up. You never met him." Said Tap, putting his hand on top of Teke's head. "He's just a farm boy. He could never afford a swoop. C'mon, We're gonna be late to dinner." Tap turned his brother's head with his hand and pointed it at a small, rusty landspeeder.
Tap, who was a pretty good pilot for his age (but nothing compared to the pilot in the demonstration through Beggar's Canyon), drove himself and Teke back home, arriving home at second twilight.
"Where have you boys been? We were just about to have dinner without you." Rey said with a smile.
"We were at Beggar's Canyon." Tap said, sniffing the air, trying to get a hint as to what they were to have for dinner.
"Again? Well, go clean up before your mother sees all the sand in your tunics."
The two boys sprinted off to their rooms to change clothes and clean their faces, and were back just as Quet was putting the Dewback stew on the table. The two boys greeted their mother and took their seats at the imported wooden table.
"Where's Koe?" Quet asked sternly. No answer. "I bet he went to Mos Eisley again. Rey, I thought I asked you to talk with him."
"I did, honey. He just said that it's his right to choose his friends, and he left." Rey said, defending himself.
"We didn't raise a criminal..." Quet pleaded to her husband. She saw movement out of the corner of her eye and turned to see Koe standing in the doorway, dressed in his fancy "City Clothes", instead of the usual sand-colored tunic of moisture farmers.
"Mom, I'm not a ..." Koe began.
"Where did you get those clothes?!" Quet demanded. "Where did you get the money for those, huh? Were you gambling? Stealing? Maybe you mugged somebody?"
"Mom, a friend gave them to me." Koe said.
"And who is this friend? A gambler, a murderer, smuggler, what?"
"Blast it!" Koe yelled, kicking the wall. His face was red, angry and hurt at the same time. "You just don't understand!" He stomped off to his room, slamming his door as hard as he could.
Quet sat down, wiping tears from her eyes. "I can't take it anymore."
"Don't worry," Rey said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "Its just a phase. Most boys his age go through one like it." Rey sat back and started eating his stew.
"You know, the Sand People raided another home." Rey mentioned.
"I know." Quet said quietly.
After a long time of silence, and after Rey finished his stew, he finally spoke up. "Well, I have to finish something at the shop. You want to come, Teke?"
Rey and Teke went to the garage, Tap went to talk to Koe, and Quet began cleaning up after dinner.
The next day, Teke was once again helping his father in the garage when Quet came in.
"Rey, my father is sick again, and my mother needs me to help around the house." She said, peeking under a speeder at her husband who was lying underneath it.
"Sure, no problem." Replied Rey. "What time will you be back?"
"Around dinner time."
"You know its not safe traveling from Motesta when its getting dark. Why don't you just stay the night at your folks?" Rey suggested, looking at her upside down.
"You're right. I'll be back tomorrow morning."
Rey slid out from under the speeder and gave his wife an upside down kiss good-bye.
"Bye, Mom." Teke said.
She began to straighten his messy black hair. "Be a good little boy for Mommy. Kay?"
"I'm not a little boy anymore, Mom." Teke said, messing up his hair again. Quet sighed and walked out the door.
"Try to be a little nicer to your mother, Teke" Rey said, sliding back under the speeder.
"But I'm not a little boy." Teke wined.
"I know Son, but some day when you're a man, you'll wish for nothing more than to be a little boy again. Hand me the power scanner."
"Blast it! Where is your mother!" Rey said, pacing back and forth through the kitchen. Quet was supposed to home from her parents house early that morning and the first sun was already setting.
"Maybe Papa got sicker, and she had to stay." Koe suggested, once again wearing "city clothes". Rey looked at his oldest son who was now sixteen, and noticed that Koe was now packing a blaster.
Rey was too stressed out to have another argument, so he decided to pretend he didn't notice. "Yeah, but she would have sent a message. Wouldn't she?"
"Yes. Maybe something's wrong. Lets just go there and find out, shall we?"
"You're right. Why just stand around here worrying? Where's Tap and Teke?" Rey said, putting his hands on his hips, and standing in one spot for the first time.
"They went to Beggars Canyon again. I'll leave a note here for them."
Tap and Teke hurried through the front door to find nobody home. "Look." Tap said. "Koe left a note. Says they went to Papa's and Grandma's to get Mom."
"Why couldn't she come home herself?" Teke asked, looking at the note to make sure.
"Beats me. Maybe her speeder broke down." Tap said, shrugging.
Just then, the front door opened and Rey walked in, saying nothing. He didn't even look at his children, and went straight to his room. Just the look on his tired face made Tap and Teke aware something was seriously wrong.
Koe came in the door, closing it behind him. He calmly stood there, looking at his siblings.
"Well?" Tap said, impatiently. "Where's Mom?"
"She's dead." Koe said, stoically staring forward. "They're all dead." Koe's pain turned to anger. "It was those blasted Sand People!! The blasted Militia was supposed to protect us from the blasted Sand People! Blast it!!" Koe yelled, slamming his angry fist into the innocent kitchen table.
"Rey Daggerscout?" A voice asked. Rey looked up from his work with swollen eyes to see several members of the local militia.
"Yes, that's me." Rey said quietly, very concerned about what the men wanted with him.
"By the order of Emperor Palpatine and Imperial Governor Tour Aryon, we demand that you pay your taxes that were due at the beginning of the season."
"I told the collector that I couldn't afford that." Rey pleaded.
"Sorry, Sir. By the order of the Empire, we have to confiscate your land and business." The part-time soldier said.
"You can't do that!" Rey said, jumping up.
"Try and stop us, Sir, and we will have to place you under arrest. You will be off your land by this time tomorrow evening."
"Will I?" Rey asked, defiantly.
"Yes, you will, wether you walk away or we drag your body away, you will be off this property." The soldiers turned and walked away.
What was Rey to do? Just about everything he had worked so hard for in the past seventeen years, he had lost in the same week. All he had left was his sons.
Rey was sitting at the kitchen table, taking a break from cleaning everything out of his house, when Koe walked through the open door.
"How much did you get?" Rey asked him.
"Two thousand, five hundred for both the WED15 and the EG-6 droids." Koe said, sitting down. "You're gonna need a job."
"I know." Rey said, staring at the grain of the wood in the table.
"I can get you a really good job." Koe offered.
"Oh, really. Doing what?" Rey asked sarcastically.
"Where?" Rey asked, becoming interested.
"Mos Eisely. For Jabba the Hutt."
"Jabba the Hutt?" Rey repeated with disgust.
"Hello, is there an echo in here? Yes. Jabba the Hutt. Do you have a problem with that?"
"Well, yes. I'm not going to work for a gangster. How do you have connections to that place anyway?"
"Dad, don't worry about that. Look, the job pays good, and its not dangerous or anything."
Tap and Teke walked into the room carrying boxes. "Ok Dad, everything is packed." Teke said as he walked through the room, with Tap following. Rey took a deep breath and started biting his nails.
Koe took Rey to Jabba the Hutt's Townhouse in Mos Eisely.
"Remind me why I'm doing this." Rey said, examining the large reinforced blast door.
Koe knocked on the door, and within a few seconds, a spidery mechanical arm with an electronic eyeball at the end of it came out of the door, surprizing Rey.
The eyeball studied the two visitors and then chattered something in some strange language to Koe.
"Tell Bib Fortuna that Koe Daggerscout is here." Koe said to the eyeball. The eyeball blinked and stared at Koe, chattered some more, and then went back into the door as fast as it came out.
"Well that was different." Rey said to himself. With a hiss, the door opened. They were greeted at the door by four armed guards. Two scruffy humans, a Jawa, and a Gamorrean.
"What business do you have here?" One of the humans asked, aiming a blaster at Koe.
"I wish to speak with Bib Fortuna about employment for this man." Koe said, trying to sound official.
"He's not expecting you." The human said. The large pig-like Gamorrean grunted something to the human.
"Do you really think so?" The human said to the Gamorrean. The Jawa also chattered something.
"Alright. Wait here." The human walked down the hall and entered a doorway on the left. A few moments later he returned and the Jawa took Koe's blaster away.
"Follow me." The human said, leading the two visitors into the room on the left. At a conference table sat a Twi'lek, a humanoid alien species characterized by two large "head tails" protruding from the back of their skull.
"Ahh, Daggerscout." The Twi'lek said in a thick Rylothian accent, pointing a finger tipped with a long nail at Koe.
"Fortuna, this is my father, Rey" Koe introduced.
"Rey." Fortuna repeated, studying Rey's face.
"Yes, he is a well respected and experienced mechanic interested in offering his services to the Almighty Jabba."
"Ahh. Come." Fortuna said, inviting them closer to him. "Are you experienced?" Fortuna asked, studying Rey.
"About 25 years." Rey answered.
"Do you work on light freighters and space transports?"
"Yes, it seems there is room for you. Go to Docking Bay 28 and find Dast Ralk."
"Um, I'm not sure exactly where that is." Rey said, looking at Koe, who only shrugged. "It's pretty easy to get lost in this..."
"Outside, you will find a man named Lain, he will show you. Leave now."
The guard took the two Daggerscouts to a human who appeared to be finishing a job of re-programing the security system, and gave him instructions to take them to Dast Ralk.
"Hello, I'm Lainan Tols, but you can just call me Lain." The friendly man said.
"Hi. I'm Rey Daggerscout, and this is my son, Koe."
"Nice meetin' ya. You gonna work around here?" Lain asked.
"Looks that way. We're just supposed to find this Ralk guy, and I guess he knows what's going on." Rey said.
"Yeah, You're a mechanic, right?" Lain asked, leading the pair toward the door.
"Yeah, You're gonna be workin' with Dast. He's a good guy. I know him. You're probably gonna be repairing space transports with him." Lain said, getting into a speeder.
The three rode south through Mos Eisely, a town where visitors got lost more often than they found their destinations. But the locals didn't like visitors anyway, so it was fine with them.
Soon, they arrived at Docking Bay 28. Like most other Docking Bays in Mos Eisely, it was old and outdated.
Rey and Koe followed Lain through the open blast door, and down the stairs to the docking pit. Inside sat a common YT-1300 Transport, and on top of it stood a crude, dark-haired man.
"That's your man." Lain muttered.
"I was sent here for work." Rey said, approaching Dast. "Huh." Dast grunted, putting his dirty hands on his hips. "What's your name?"
"Yeah, I've heard of ya. You're the repulsorlift guy from Anchorhead." Dast said, crawling down a ladder, off the ship.
"Yeah. How do you know?" Rey asked.
"I know some guys that loose business to you." Dast said, looking hard into Rey's eyes.
"Not anymore." Rey said, staring just as hard back at him.
"How do you figure?" Dast challenged, continuing his impenetrable gaze.
"I've been foreclosed." Rey said quietly.
"By the Empire? I know a few guys that that's happened to." Dast said, breaking his testing stare, and nibbling on his dirty thumbnail.
Koe came up and broke into the conversation. "They're doing it to everyone. Busting innocent farmers for every little thing they've ever done. Soon, the Emperor and his thugs will own all the moisture farms, and everyone on the planet will be at their mercy because they'll control all the water."
"Oh c'mon kid." Dast said. "No one person can control all the water on the planet."
"Really? So the Empire will own all the farms and control imports with its massive military, the biggest military ever recorded in the Known Universe, and they won't control all the water? You can't be serious." Koe rebutted with passion.
Dast just stood there, blown away by the young mans little speech, and started laughing. Patting Rey on the back, he said, "You better keep your eye on that boy, he's liable to go to Coruscant and assassinate the Emperor himself."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Koe said in response for his father.
"Do you have a place to stay?" Dast asked Rey.
"Not yet." Rey answered.
"Well, I know some places, C'mon."
Rey and Dast were working on the hyperdrive motivator of a light freighter when Dast struck up a conversation. "I got a small vacation coming up, and I'm planning on trying my hand at smuggling."
"Smuggling? Why?" Rey asked, stopping his task to look questioningly at Dast, whom he had known for a few months.
"Well, I could use the extra cash. Plus it seems a tad more exciting than sitting around here tinkering with other people's ships."
"You're crazy." Rey said, resuming his work.
"Am I? Come with me. I'll need a co-pilot."
"I can't run around the galaxy with you. I got three boys to take care of. Besides, who's gonna stay behind and tinker with other people's ships?"
"Oh, come on. Live a little. Koe is old enough to take care of himself and his brothers for a little while, and I could talk Lain into coming over here for a little while every day and tinkering with other peoples ships."
"Oh yeah? How do plan on getting Lain to take our jobs when he's got his own to worry about?"
"Cash talks. Plus, now that he's got an assistant to help him, it'll be easier."
"Since when does Lain have an assistant?"
"Nobody told you?" Dast asked, a little shocked.
"Told me what?" Rey inquired, once again stopping his work.
"Teke was bored and decided to help the family out by getting a job. Yesterday he asked Lain, and at first Lain said no, that he had too much work to do and couldn't spend his day babysitting an eleven year old. Then Lain went back to the skiff he's been working on for a few days that he was having trouble with, and Teke walked up, pushed him out of the way and fixed it in a matter of minutes. So Lain changed his mind. You sure nobody told you about this?"
"Wow. I had no idea." Rey said, amazed.
"Well, the kid learned from one of the best."
"Giving me compliments won't get me go with you." Rey said, and once again, resuming his work.
"What will? Listen, Koe and Lain are fully capable of watching Tap and Teke. Look, I know that you're having problems paying the rent. Come with me."
"Why do I let people talk me into these things?" Rey asked, shaking his head.
Teke walked into a garage in the abandoned mines below the town, where Lain was supposed to be working for the next few days. Teke looked around and saw nobody. An R-2 unit rolled by and beeped something at Teke.
"Sorry buddy, I don't know what you're saying." Teke said, patting the cylindrical droid on the top of its silver dome.
"Lain?" Teke called out.
"Who's there?" Lains voice yelled back.
"Its me. Teke." Teke yelled back, walking towards where he estimated the voice was coming from.
"Over here." Lain called. Teke followed the sound of Lain's voice toward a rusty open-topped skiff to find Lain crouched down with a power scanner in his hand. "I was just about to check this piece of junk of power leaks. Wanna help?"
"Sure." Teke said, casually looking the skiff over.
"Have you met my son Ars?" Lain asked, working his way through the wiring with the scanner.
"No." Teke said, watching him.
"He's around you're age. He's down here helping me too."
"Is he?" Teke asked, trying to be sociable.
After the simple task of scanning the skiff for power leaks was complete, Lain called Ars.
"What is it?" Ars asked, walking toward where Lain and Teke stood.
"Ars, I want you to meet Teke. He's my new assistant."
"Assistant? Why do need an assistant?" Said Ars, a rather mean looking boy, who was very obviously sizing Teke up. Lain decided to let his son's question go unanswered, considering the fact that he was asking himself that very same question until he saw the boy work.
"Ars, why don't you take Teke back to town."
Ars looked at his father for a moment and shook his head in confusion. "Whatever."
Ars and Teke silently walked through the labyrinth of abandoned mine shafts that networked underneath Mos Eisely. When they emerged just on the edge of town, Ars decided to speak.
"So, what do you do?" Ars asked Teke as they walked toward town.
"What do I do?" Teke thought for a few moments. "Well, I guess I fix things."
"Like, I always take care of my brothers landspeeder."
"Landspeeder? Nobody cares about landspeeders. He needs a speeder bike or an airspeeder."
"I know, but we can't afford one." Teke said, almost ashamed.
"I know how you can money for one." Ars said with an smirk.
"I haven't told you what I do yet." Ars said, with a full-blown, evil smile.
Once the two boys were in the heart of Mos Eisely, they walked around until they saw an elderly moisture farmer, standing near a wall.
"Now go do exactly as I told you." Ars instructed.
Teke took a deep breath. "Right." and began to walk toward their victim, while Ars ran around the corner behind the man.
"Sir?" Teke asked him. "Could you help me find my mother?"
"Sorry kid, I'm waiting for someone." The man said.
"Please!" Teke pleaded while Ars snuck up behind the unsuspecting man and, without the man feeling a thing, relieved him of the burden of carrying his pouch of coins, which was clipped onto his utility belt.
"Please sir, I need to find my mother." Teke continued to beg until Ars was gone.
"Sorry kid, I can't..."
"That's okay, I understand." Teke quickly said and walked away. The farmer just stood there, totally baffled. Teke ran down the street where he found Ars, opening the pouch.
"How much is there?" Teke excitedly asked.
"Seventy credits. What a cheapskate." Ars said, handing the two coins to Teke.
"How did you do that?" Teke asked, examining the coins.
"Its pretty easy if you got the knack." Ars said, taking back one of the coins worth twenty credits.
"Well, I'd better get home." Teke said, slipping the fifty credit coin in his pocket.
"Later." Ars said, as the two walked off in different directions.
Teke casually strolled down the street at Mos Eisely, and looked over his shoulder, where Ars followed about twenty meters behind. Several months had gone by, and Rey and Dast have already returned, and when Teke wasn't working with Lain or his father, he was "working" with Ars.
Teke entered the Transport Depot, which was moderately busy, with people pushing and shoving each other to get to the transport. Teke stood against the wall for a while, until he spied a man who appeared to be some kind of trader.
Teke joined in the hustle and bustle, walking straight toward the trader. When Teke approached him, he looked down and bumped into the man. "'Scuse me." Teke said quietly, and continued on his way.
Teke left the building at the next door and found Ars standing outside waiting for him. "wha'd ya get?" Ars asked.
Teke opened his vest, (he too, was now wearing "city clothes") to reveal a blaster. He looked at it and handed it to Ars.
"BlasTech DL-44." Teke said as Ars inspected it.
"It looks pretty new." Ars said.
"It is. Its got all twenty-five packs in it, and look at the barrel, clean as a whistle. Hasn't even been fired once."
"Blast it Scout, you're good." Ars said, giving the blaster back to Teke, who had picked up the nickname "Scout" from a group of beings employed by Jabba the Hutt. "You're getting better than me."
"I know." Teke said, handing another blaster to Ars. Ars looked down to find his holster empty.
"Geez, don't do that!" Ars said, snatching his blaster from Teke, who was laughing.
Teke and Ars drove to Kayson's Weapon Shop, in the Central Sector of town. They entered the shop and quietly stood near a weapon covered wall until the customer Kayson was helping left.
The boys approached the counter and Teke took out the stolen blaster and displayed it to Kayson, a big gray hirsute alien.
Kayson took the weapon and expertly examined it. "How much you want for it?"
"A thousand." Teke said, watching Kayson's face.
Kayson continued to analyze the piece and then made an offer.
"I'll give you eight hundred for it."
"Why eight hundred? You know your blasters. Look at it, its brand new!"
"Sorry kid, but I'm overstocked as it is. I'd be glad to do business with you, but its not a good time for heavy pistols."
Teke took his blaster back and Ars suggested they go to the Mos Eisely Cantina.
They casually walked into the cantina, which was several blocks down the road from Kayson's, and started looking for anyone they knew; anyone they've sold weapons to before. Many eyes followed the two boys as they strolled in, and a grimy, obviously drunk human, left the bar and staggered up to them.
"Well looky what we have here!" The man yelled, getting the attention of the whole bar. "Little boys want to play?" The man asked, getting up in Ars' face.
Ars quickly drew his blaster and shoved it into the mans chin, while Teke already had his in the man's gut.
"Not interested." Ars said, glaring at the man.
Slowly, two aliens left their seats at the bar and cautiously drew their blasters.
"No blasters!" The bartender nervously shouted.
As the two aliens got closer to the boys, four of Jabba the Hutt's cronies that Teke recognized, stood up with blaster rifles. "Leave the boys alone. They're with us."
The two aliens looked at each other and returned their pistols to their holsters. They grabbed their drunk friend and left the bar. The four thugs returned to their seats with Teke and Ars joining them.
"Thanks." Ars said as he took a seat.
"You better have a blasted good reason for being here." One of them mumbled.
"Don't worry. We're here on business." Ars assured them.
"What do you have?" The thug asked.
Teke took out the stolen blaster and showed it to him, without allowing him to touch it. "A brand new BlasTech DL-44.
"I have no need for another heavy blaster." The man said.
"I do." Said one of the men who was with him. "I'll give you seven hundo, kid."
"Seven hundred! Listen mister, I'm a young businessman, not an idiot. And this is the black market, not a free giveaway. One thousand is as low as I go."
"A thousand! Come on small fry! Give me a break."
"You can get this very same weapon at Kayson's for fifteen hundred, and you think I'll sell you this brand new blaster for six hundred! What kind of a clown do you think I am!?
"Fine, kid. I'll give you eight hundo."
"Blast it! I'll give you the ten!" One of the other men yelled and threw two coins at Teke and took the blaster from his hand.
Teke laughed and put the two coins in his pocket. "Not a bad bit of negotiating from an eleven year old, eh?" Teke said to Ars.
"Shut up you little brat!" The man who didn't get the blaster yelled and grabbed Teke's arm, and started shaking him.
Teke pulled his blaster and pointed it directly at the man's head. "Let go." Teke said quietly, but with authority. The man swallowed, and did as he was told. "Now apologize." Teke said in the same way.
"I'm not going to..."
"Do it!" Teke yelled.
"Sorry." The man said quietly.
"Thank you." Teke said, returning his blaster to its holster. The man got up and left the Cantina as the other three thugs started laughing.
"Blast it, Scout! Wha'd you that for? You're just looking to get killed, aren't you?" Ars chided.
"I'd watch my back if I were you, Scout." One of the thugs said, laughing as he followed the other three out of the cantina.
That evening, as Teke and Ars were walking to Docking Bay 28, Ars heard a noise of someone following them. Ars turned around and saw the man from the bar following him with his blaster drawn.
The man fired a shot, missing both boys. Instinctively, Ars drew his blaster and carefully aimed and fired, hitting the man in the chest.
"What did you do!?" Teke yelled.
"I...I blasted him." Ars said looking at the dead man and back at his blaster.
"Don't just stand there, run!" Teke shouted, and the two boys sprinted off.
"So Rey," Dast began, standing in Rey's tiny apartment kitchen with Rey and Tap, pouring himself a drink. "I got another vacation coming."
"What are you implying?" Rey asked, taking a sip of his drink.
"Well, I heard ryll is selling for a good price in the Issagra system." Dast said, sitting down.
Koe walked into the room and looked around. "What do we have to eat?" He asked.
"Well, its fancy to see you here." Dast said to Koe, who completely ignored him.
"What have you been up to, son? I haven't seen you in days." Rey asked, concerned.
"We've...I've...Geez, don't ask so many questions." Koe said, going to his room.
"That boy's going to be something big someday." Dast said sarcastically. Suddenly, Teke and Ars flew into the room, completely out of breath.
"Have you seen Koe?" Teke asked, panting between words.
"Yeah," Rey answered. "He just went to his room. Is..."
"Thanks." Teke said, running to Koe's room with Ars and Tap following close behind. Teke and Ars decided to seek counsel from Koe about what to do after killing the man, because they felt that since Koe was always gone all day, he must be out killing people.
"You what!" Koe said, utterly surprised. "Was anyone around? Did anybody see it?"
"I don't know." Teke answered.
"How long ago was it?" Tap asked.
"Just now." Ars answered.
"Well, I'd just ignore it." Koe said.
"Ignore it! How can we ignore it?" Ars yelled.
"Yeah!" Teke joined in. "Won't the militia come after us or something?"
"I doubt it. If nobody saw it, it probably won't be investigated. And if somebody who could identify you saw it and reported it, which is unlikely, you will be called to court, and all you have to do is say that this big mean off-worlder was harassing you, a good-natured local boy, and you were merely defending yourself. Its almost guaranteed that you will get away with it."
"Really? It's that easy?" Teke said with amazement.
"Well, it makes sense." Ars reasoned. "Look at where we are. Murders every day in this town." Teke, Ars, and Tap got up to leave Koe's room.
"And guys..." Koe added. "Next time, set your weapons for stun. I don't want my little brother or his friend being known killers."
Tap and Teke walked outside into the bright Tatooine morning to meet Ars.
"Did you bring it?" Teke asked Ars.
"Yup." Ars said, handing Teke a metal box.
Teke peeked inside, smiled, and handed the box to Tap.
"What is it?" Tap asked, taking the box.
"Its for you." Teke said.
Tap opened the box and saw that it was filled with credit coins. "Are you serious? I can't take this!"
"Sure you can." Ars said.
"No, I can't. Where did you get all of this anyway?"
"Tap, don't be so binary. It's just a gift." Teke
"But what would I do with this kind of money?" Tap asked.
"Buy an airspeeder, just as you've always wanted. Come on, this seven thousand, one hundred is enough to buy the T-16 at Spaceport Speeders. We'll all work on it together to make it the best racing machine in the Outer Rim Territories!"
"I don't know." Tap said, pondering what he should do.
"Come on, it'll be fun." Ars attempted to persuade him.
"But..." Tap began.
"Tap," Teke interrupted. "don't worry about where we got the money, that's our business. Look, we're offering you seven thousand credits. Do you want it or not?"
Tap looked down at the box, and almost ashamedly said, "I guess so." He looked up. "But we're co-owners."
Teke, Tap, and Ars casually stood outside of Rey's house. A small group of Imperial Stormtroopers strode by as the boys curiously watched them. Lately, Tatooine had been getting lots of attention from an Imperial fleet, and they heard they were looking for a droid that had some information they wanted. As the troopers left sight, Rey came out of the main entrance and shut the door behind him.
"What are you boys up to?" Rey asked as he entered the security code to lock the door.
"Oh, nothing much." Tap said.
"I want you guys to stay out of trouble while Dast and I are gone."
"Oh, yes sir, of course." Ars said.
"Alright, well Dast and I shouldn't be gone too long. We're going to the Issagara system first. Just stay out of trouble."
"Bye Dad." Teke said as Rey turned and left. As soon as Rey was out of sight, Teke entered the security code that opened the door.
Teke went inside and opened the door to the garage, as Tap and Ars got the speeder. The three boys pushed the T-16 airspeeder into the garage.
"Isn't it great!?" Teke said with a huge grin. "C'mon, lets start making modifications."
A large group of teenagers and young adults, both human and alien, gathered at the edge of the Jundland Wastes. "Alright everybody!" A mans voice shouted out, silencing the chatter of the crowd. "Listen up! There's eight racers. Now is the time to pick your racer and place your bets. Good luck!"
Tap walked with pride past the crowd, into the pit area. He jumped into the cockpit of his T-16 which he, Ars, and mostly Teke modified into one of the best racing hot rods in the circuit. Tap was only fifteen, but he was already one of the local favorites. Teke walked up and poked his head into the cockpit.
"Good, you have your High-G Suit on. You know, I paid top dollar for that. Take care of it." Teke said.
"I know, I will little brother." Tap said as Ars came up and tapped Teke on the shoulder.
"Run a systems check again, and check your control flaps." Teke said before paying the least of attention to Ars. "What is it?" Teke turned around and asked, out of Tap's earshot.
"Koe can't make it. I couldn't find him, and this guy that knows him said that Koe is really busy right now." Ars said, out of breath from running to bring Teke the news.
"Hey Teke!" Tap called.
"Is Koe here?" Tap asked, running a check on his flaps.
"Of course he is. He wouldn't miss this for the world. Don't worry, just concentrate on winning." Teke answered.
"Right. Winning. You fixed the afterburners, right?" Tap asked nervously.
"Of course I did, don't worry."
"All racers, take your marks!" The man called out over the crowd.
"Good Luck." Teke said, handing Tap his helmet. With a smile of gratitude, Tap put his helmet on. The canopy closed, and the whine of the repulsorlift engines started as the speeder crept up to the starting line.
Almost all the speeders in the race were Incom T-16's, because they had ion engine afterburners, making them about 300 kmh faster than those speeders without afterburners. The race officials ran a final inspection of the speeders to make sure they fell into the safety guidelines of the race.
The crowd began to cheer as one by one, the speeders fired up the power converters for the afterburners. When the electronic signal was given, the race began like a drag race.
With all engines roaring, the airspeeders bolted off at top speed.
Tap fell into third place as the speeders arranged themselves into a single file line as they went into a canyon at a sharp ninety degree turn to the right at nearly 10,000 kmh without loosing an ounce of speed. a few minutes after the speeders disappeared into the canyon, the crowd saw a puff of smoke rise into the dry wind.
Teke picked up the comlink and called to Tap, "Tap! What was that!?"
"I don't know, two guys behind me got into it!" Tap's filtered voice answered. "I think someone knocked their wing off."
"Good thing they were behind you. Are you still third?" Teke asked.
"Yeah. I'm gonna try to draft the guy in front of me when we get to the big straightaway."
Just as Tap said that, the swift airspeeders tore around a curve and into a long straightaway, minus two racers. Traveling at over 13,000 kmh, Tap was very close behind the second place racer. When the canyon widened, Tap shot out to the left of the second place speeder and made an attempt to pass.
The second place speeder slid sideways to try to block the pass as they went into a fifty degree turn. The second place speeder made a move on the first place spot as they went into the turn. The second place speeder got too close to the leader's afterburners and scorched his canopy. Blinded, he started to loose control, almost hitting Tap. Tap managed to avoid collision by nearly inverting his speeder as he rolled hard to the left, just barely missing the canyon wall. The out of control speeder dropped out of the competition by pulling up out of the canyon, giving second place to Tap.
The speeders took a sharp eighty degree turn to the left before they came on to a short straightaway. Tap silently thanked Teke for the G-suit and tightened his grip on the controls. Tap swallowed hard as a killer one hundred and eighty degree bootlegger turn came up. He gritted his teeth and slammed the controls as hard as he could to the right. As he came out of the turn, he followed the leader out of the canyon, and raced toward the finish line in front of the spectators.
Tap got neck and neck with the leader as they sped toward the finish line. Teke could hear Tap yelling like a madman over the comlink, "Go Go Go!" But Tap couldn't pull it off. The speeders decreased their speed and returned to the pit area.
Tap pulled up to where he was parked before. The canopy opened and Tap was sweating like a pig as he took his helmet.
"Blast it! Did you see that!? I almost had her!" Tap exclaimed. Teke handed a canteen of water to Tap as he climbed out of the cockpit.
"Hey, now don't be mad at her. She's a good pilot." Teke said as the three stared at the large celebration in the winners circle.
"I know, but twenty five more meters...."
"Excuse me, Tap and Teke Daggerscout?" A man's voice asked. The boys turned to see who it was and saw a small, smooth faced man with two tough looking aliens who were looking them over.
"Yeah, that's us. What can we do for you?" Teke asked cautiously.
"We want to talk to you. We are employed by the Almighty Jabba the Hutt." The human said.
"Uh, sure." Said Tap, still sitting on the speeder. "We'd be happy to talk to you, but we have to take care of a few things here first."
"No problem." The man said. "We can wait."
"Well, maybe we could meet you somewhere in three hours." Tap suggested.
"No problem. Where would you like to meet us?"
"Hey, I'm getting hungry. Lets go to that restaurant in Anchorhead." Teke suggested.
"No problem. Three hours. Oh, and can you find your brother Koe?"
"Yeah, where is he?" Tap asked.
"Koe can't make it." Teke answered.
"He can't?" Tap said, glaring at his little brother.
"No problem." The man said, turning and leaving, with the aliens following closely behind.
"I don't like this." Teke said as he and Tap flew the family speeder over the Jundland Wastes, toward Anchorhead. They had taken care of their business with the race and Ars went back to Mos Eisley with the T-16 and their tools and spare parts they brought to the race with them.
"Why?" Tap asked, sitting in front, piloting the speeder.
"They want something from us. Why else would they want to talk to us?"
They pulled up to the nearly empty restaurant just as the lunch rush hour ended. When they went in, the man and the two aliens were already at a table waiting for them.
"Hello. My name is Calk Fen." The man politely said, standing as the boys sat down.
"Hey, so what is it you want?" Tap said, noticing that the man had a laptop computer with him.
"Your father, Rey Daggerscout, an employee of Jabba the Hutt, went with Dast Ralk, also an employee of the Illustrious Jabba. Together, they borrowed a ship and a moderate sum of money from the Almighty Jabba. They claimed to be going on a trading mission. The amount of vacation time they were allotted by the very generous Jabba, has long ago exceeded.
"The Almighty Jabba, concerned for his employees and their safe return, assigned a bounty hunter to find out what happened to them."
"What do mean, concerned for his employees!" Teke said. "He wants his money and his ship back."
"Yes, well, nevertheless, the bounty hunter has recently returned from his search, and he has found that your father and Ralk were boarded by Imperial Customs and were being arrested for smuggling and other charges concerning the weapon and sensor systems of the ship. They resisted arrest and both were consequently killed."
"Oh, geez!" Tap said, bewildered. The boys just sat there, shocked at this crushing blow, not really believing it.
"All members of Jabba the Hutt's organization express our deepest sorrow."
"Right, sure. So, what do you want?" Teke said, getting a grip of himself before Tap.
"Dast Ralk had no known family. The three sons of Rey Daggerscout are his only known survivors. As his next of kin, the responsibility of paying your father's debt falls entirely on you.
Teke sighed deeply. "Oh, that's just great." Tap just sat there, wide-eyed and shocked.
"The charges that you must pay to Mighty Jabba goes as follows:"
The man typed something into the portable computer, and then continued.
Five thousand credits that they were loaned. Thirty five thousand credits for the loss of one light freighter, and two thousand, five hundred credits for bounty hunter services. So that comes to forty two thousand, five hundred credits."
"We have to pay you forty two thousand credits because our father died!?" Teke exclaimed.
"You have to see this from our point of view. Why should Mighty Jabba pay for his employees to die? Now, Teke," The man began, looking at the small computer screen. "Also known as Scout. May I call you Scout?"
Teke rolled his eyes. "Sure." He said sarcastically.
"Yes, Scout. You are almost twelve years old?"
"And currently employed by Jabba the Hutt as an assistant mechanic to Lainan Tols, also known as Lain."
"You haven't been there in a fortnight. You will now go there every day and work full time, and a certain percent of your pay will be cut to pay your debt."
"No, you don't understand. I have other things going on. I can't work full time every day, I have things to do."
"Well, looks like you wont get to do those things. Should you not agree to these terms, we will sell you into slavery. Now for Tap. Tap is fifteen going on sixteen. Are you not?"
"Yeah." Tap said, his voice cracking.
"Lets see, a pilot. That's right, you were in the race. Did you do well?"
"Second place." Tap said, getting a grip of himself.
"Congratulations. You are a 'fairly successful airspeeder pilot.'" Fen said, reading his computer screen. "Tell me young man, do you think you could learn to fly a freighter?"
"I could learn to fly anything." Tap said quietly, but with pride.
"Very well then, that's settled. You will begin training to fly freighters for the Great One. Tomorrow morning you shall report to Jabba's Townhouse where Bidlo Kwerve will tell you at which docking bay you will find your teacher. Now as for your older brother Koe. He has recently turned eighteen?"
"Yes." Tap answered.
"He has no known talents?"
"No not really." Tap said.
"I guess not." Teke agreed.
"Does he have a job?" Fen asked.
"He doesn't work for Jabba the Hutt?" Teke asked, surprised.
"No, he doesn't. You thought he did?"
"Well yeah. He knows tons of people, most of them work for Jabba the Hutt, so we figured he worked there." Teke explained.
"Oh, well. I suppose I will have to speak to him in person. Next time you see him, tell him he can find me at Jabba's Palace. I must be going now. We have to make another stop, and we have to leave now if we are to return to the Palace by nightfall. I trust you will agree to these terms?"
"Yes." Teke answered with some hesitation.
"Good then. I always hate selling fellow humans into slavery." The man closed his computer and left with the aliens.
The two brothers left without saying a word, or even having a nice lunch as they planned. They went home to find Koe sitting in the kitchen, snacking.
"Hey guys, why you look so blue?" Koe asked, obviously in a very good mood. "Oh, blast it! You raced this morning! Oh, guys I'm so sorry! Can you find it your big hearts to forgive me?"
"Well, ok. I deserve it. So how did you do?"
"Second place." Tap said quietly, still standing in the doorway.
"You don't work for Jabba the Hutt?" Teke asked, almost accusingly.
Koe looked at his brother. "No, I don't."
"Well what in the Universe do you do all day? You're always gone! What are you doing!?" Teke yelled, taking his anger out on his brother.
"Look, I really shouldn't say. It could be disastrous if I do. Please don't make me." Koe begged.
"Well, you might be interested in knowing that our father is dead!" Teke yelled, pushing Koe up against the wall.
"Ugh! Oh...Geez!!" Koe's feet slipped out from under him and he fell to the floor. Sitting on the floor, tears began swell up in Koe's eyes. "This was the happiest day of my life, but now its the worst. How did it happen?" Koe asked.
"He and Dast were boarded by the Imperials and..." Tap began to say.
"The Imperials!!" Koe's sadness turned to rage as he quickly stood up and started throwing kitchen appliances at the wall. "Blast them! I hate them! I hate them all!" After Koe's little trip, he sat down in the chair again and calmed himself. After a few minutes of silence, Koe spoke.
"I...I'm a member of a small Rebel Cell and..."
"Whoa. Wait. You're talking about the Rebel Alliance?" Tap said.
"Yes, and I have been for several years."
"We had no idea." Tap said, shaking his head.
"I've been asked if I want to go to Basic Training." Koe said with no expression.
"What! You're going to leave us! Jabba the Hutt's going to make us work off Dad's debt's! You can't leave us now!" Tap yelled, grabbing Koe's arm, begging him.
"Tap, this is what I've been waiting for, what I've been working towards all these years. I'll get to fight. I'll get to kill Imperials." Koe pleaded.
"I'm sixteen, Koe. I can't take care of Teke alone! Don't leave us!" Tap continued to beg.
"You're right." Koe sighed. "I can't leave you now. I'd be abandoning you."
"No." Teke said matter-of-factly. He walked up to Koe and looked him in the eye. "We'll be just fine. Lain will surely agree to be our legal guardian. We'll be ok. This is your dream Koe."
"But Teke.." Koe began.
"No. Go. Go be a Rebel. Kill the blasted Imperials. Kill every one of them. Avenge our father's death. Avenge Dast's death. Avenge everything those evil people did, if they dare consider themselves people."
"I hate this." Tap said as he walked toward Jabba's Townhouse, with Teke following behind.
"Me too." Agreed Teke.
"I mean, I just hate it when I have to do something. You know, being told and not asked. I hate being told what to do."
"At least you're not loosing money from the deal. While I'm here playing with someone else's speeders, I could be repairing those old blasters I found."
"That you found? Sure, Teke."
"Sure I found them."
"In someone's holster?"
"No, as a matter of fact I bought these ones from a junk dealer." Teke said as the reached the door. "Well, good luck." Teke said, as he walked off to find Lain.
Tap took a deep breath, and just as he was about to knock on the door, a beggar that Tap saw a few moments ago across the street, grabbed his wrist.
"Sorry, I don't have any credits to give you." Tap said, trying to get his wrist back.
"Don't assume anything about people, boy. It's dangerous." The robed man's scratchy voice said. "What's your name boy?"
"Tap Daggerscout. Let me go." Tap said, still unable to fee his wrist.
The man slapped Tap on the face with his free hand, and squeezed Tap's wrist harder with the other. "Wrong!! Take my advice boy. Never give your name out to complete strangers. Now, listen to me, and you better listen closely. You're going to be working around a rough bunch, and you better learn how to act." The man slapped Tap again.
"Ow! What was that for?!" Tap exclaimed, and finally stopped struggling, realizing that this was one of Jabba's thugs who knew about him.
"I didn't like the look on your face. You looked afraid."
"But I am afraid."
"Never...never show fear boy! Or you'll get more than a slap on the face. You'll find what you're lookin' for at docking bay 40. His name is Captain Sedek. Now go." The man released Tap's wrist and whisked away into the alley.
Tap massaged his sore wrist, thought for a moment, and started off towards docking bay 40.
When Tap finally arrived at docking bay 40, seeing no one outside, he went in. Inside he saw a Ghtroc Freighter, class 720. He had seen several before at docking bay 28. He still saw nobody, but the entrance ramp to the ship was open, so he cautiously boarded.
At the Technical Station sat a man in his mid-fifties with graying hair. He was fiddling with instruments, with his back turned to the visitor, either ignoring him, or not even noticing his presence.
Tap cleared his throat, and Sedek finally looked at him. "Captain Sedek, I'm your new Co-pilot."
Sedek looked Tap over. "Is this a joke?" Sedek said bitterly. "How old are you, boy?"
"Sixteen, Sir." Tap said, while trying to make himself seem taller.
"Sixteen, huh? Well, have you ever flown a freighter before, boy?"
"Get outa here!" Sedek grunted, turning back around.
"Come on Captain. I have a lot of potential. And I'm a fast learner. Give the me a chance." Tap said, attempting to persuade the grumpy man.
"No." Sedek mumbled. "I hate kids!"
"Don't act like a child! You will accept me as your new co-pilot, by order of Jabba the Hutt, whether you like it or not." Tap said firmly, praying that he hadn't made a mistake, bossing this around.
Sedek stood up and looked angry. He turned as if he was going to leave the room, and turned back, deciding not to, and sat down.
"Ars! I'm up here!" Teke called from the deck of a cargo skiff. "Do you have them?"
"Yeah." Replied Ars, who was carrying a medium sized, apparently heavy box. Teke hopped off the skiff and relieved Ars of his burden. Setting the box on the ground, Teke examined the contents, a pile of old, rusty, broken, and obsolete blasters.
"Is this all of them?" Teke asked.
"No, there's about a dozen more. This was all I could carry."
"Thank you so much for bringing these."
"Forget about it. Hey, here comes my dad." Teke shoved as many of the weapons as he could in any available pocket space as Ars covered the box with a tarpaulin that was laying nearby. As Lain approached, Teke decided to speak first.
"Hey Lain. Um, it's gonna take me longer than I thought to fix that load lifter."
"Why? Do you need help?" Lain offered.
"Oh, no, its nothing major, just a power leak to the electromagnet." Teke explained.
"Alright then, get to work."
Teke went back aboard the skiff, which he had already completed the repairs on, and began work on repairing the old blasters.
"I'm telling you," Tap said, describing the day's events to Teke as they walked home. "this guy hates me so much! He..."
"Whoa! Wait a minute." Teke said.
"Why? What is it?" Tap asked.
"Look!" Teke said, pointing towards the sky. Tap glared into Tatooine's setting twin suns to see an Imperial Star Destroyer ascending into the atmosphere.
"Koe's gone, right?" Teke asked.
"Oh yeah. I'm sure he jumped into hyperspace hours ago. C'mon it's getting dark, and I'm not particularly interested in meeting some muggers"
Teke sat on the ground in the abandoned mine turned garage with Ars playing sabacc for a pair of bantha skin boots.
"Hey Lain, call the rules." Teke asked.
"Yeah Dad, call." Ars agreed as Lain walked by.
"You kids are only fourteen years old! You shouldn't be gambling."
"But then how will we determine who gets the boots? C'mon Lain, its no big deal. Would you rather us flip a coin or something? Come on." Teke pleaded.
Lain sighed. "Corellian Gambit rules."
"No, something else." Teke said quickly.
"Why?" Ars asked, eager to settle the argument of who should own the boots.
"I just don't play those rules! That's why." Teke attested.
"Ok then, do you know Cloud City Casino rules?" Lain offered.
"Yeah, that's better." Teke said as Ars rolled his eyes. The faces of the electronic metal and crystal cards began to change.
Tap strolled up the boarding ramp and began to speak as Lain signaled him to stay quiet. Tap walked up and looked over Teke's shoulder.
"Alright, count up your score." Ars said. The boys counted the score from their five cards and then looked up when they were finished.
"Well Teke, what do you got?" Tap asked.
"Ten." Teke said sourly. Ars began to laugh. "Well?"
"Seventeen." Ars said as he began to remove his old worn boots.
"Didn't Dad tell you Daggerscouts shouldn't play sabacc?" Tap said, laughing.
Teke got up and turned around so he wouldn't have to watch Ars put on the expensive high-class boots. "How was your run this time?" Teke now stood almost as tall as his eighteen year old brother.
"Scariest one of my life." Tap answered, shaking his head.
"What happened?" Teke asked.
"Yeah Tap, what went wrong?" Ars joined in.
"Well everything was going normal, were in hyperspace travelling on a pretty heavily traveled rout, and our sensors picked up something in the way, so we came out of hyperspace, and there was this asteroid or something, in the way. It shouldn't have been there. Then this pirate ship came out of nowhere and started firing on us! We had what little shields we had on full power, and after we cleared the asteroid, we made a short hyperspace jump and..."
"But wait," Ars interrupted, "You couldn't have possibly had the time to make the calculations for a jump to hyperspace!"
"I know. That's why we didn't make calculations before we jumped." Tap explained.
"You're saying you jumped blind!?" Teke shouted. "You might as well have painted 'I hate the Empire' on your forehead and gone dancing circles around an Imperial Garrison Base!"
"I know it was dangerous, but even if the pirates did let us live, we'd have ended up spending the rest of our lives paying Jabba the Hutt back for all that was lost. Besides, I'm here now, aren't I?"
Teke just stood there, thinking for a moment before he spoke. "You said you had pretty weak shields?" Teke asked.
"What about guns?" Teke continued, ignoring Tap's question.
"Um, just the stock Double Laser Cannon."
"You said the pirates came out of nowhere, how powerful are your sensors?"
"Geez, I didn't build the ship! What do you want!?" Tap was getting frustrated.
"Do you mind if I have a look at the ship?"
"Uh-oh." Ars said.
"What's that for?" Tap asked.
"You know and I know that Teke doesn't just 'look' at a ship."
"There." Teke said as he entered the cockpit of the freighter, which was named Tacit Roar by Captain Sedek a long time ago. Tap didn't particularly like the name, and he guessed that Sedek didn't really like it either because the old fart didn't seem to like anything. "I increased the range of the passive sensors." Teke said to Tap who was sitting in his co-pilot's chair.
"Are you done ensuring my safety yet?" Tap asked dismally.
"Not even. I'll have to ask Captain Sedek before I can do what else I want to."
"And what is that?"
"Well, I want to add more power to the shields, and add another gun. Maybe I can put in a turret. The only thing is, that'll suck up so much energy, I'll need to put in another power generator."
"And where are you planning on finding room to put it?"
"In the cargo bay."
"Oh, great. Its not like a cargo ship needs plenty of space in the cargo bay or anything."
"Hey Tap, Don't flatter yourself. I'm not doing this entirely for you. I just so happen to be enjoying myself."
"I'm happy for you, but Captain Sedek won't be back until tomorrow morning."
"Fine with me. Besides, I have to go to Anchorhead and pick up some blaster components I ordered."
"Ok, see ya."
Teke put his tools down and left. He decided to take the T-16, hoping that if he went fast enough he would get back before lunch time.
"Hey Scout." Said the woman who worked at the shop Teke ordered the blaster parts from, and occasionally they referred someone looking for a rare blaster to him.
"Is there a package for me?" Teke asked.
"Yeah, it's right here, but there's one more thing."
"Some of the parts you ordered were illegal and our people had to go through extra trouble to bribe Imperial Customs, so it's gonna cost you something extra."
"How much extra?"
"Twenty credits extra."
"Oh come on!"
"Hey, we usually try not to deal in too many illegal goods, and we took a risk for you."
"Alright, fine." Teke gave her the credits and took the small but very heavy box.
He got in the speeder and started on his way back to Mos Eisely.
As he got out into the hot desert, he decided to take a short cut through the Jundland Wastes. He kicked on the afterburners and then heard a huge snap. The speeder began loosing speed and the accelerator didn't want to work anymore.
Teke stopped the speeder and got out to see what the problem was. As he looked in the engine compartment, he saw that the problem wasn't one that could be fixed easily. He couldn't fix it with the small tool kit he had with him, he needed a whole new part.
Teke's head shot up. He thought he heard a voice. He stood still and held his breath, listening. Maybe it was Sand People. Or maybe it was a human voice he heard. Or perhaps it was Jawas scavenging the desert. Maybe it was even a hungry kryat dragon.
Teke crawled back into the speeder and reached for the comlink, but then he remembered he removed it to install a more powerful one. He knew yelling for help was out of the question, because of the Sand People.
He sat back in the seat and sighed. At least he had an emergency canteen of water in the speeder, and he also had an emergency flare. He decided to stay where he was and wait a while. Maybe some Jawas will come along to investigate the speeder, and they might have the part he needs to fix it. Maybe another traveller will come along and give him a ride.
Teke waited until the afternoon, and still, nobody had come. He couldn't stay there much longer, it will be getting dark soon and the nocturnal creatures of the dessert will be coming out to feed, and Teke wasn't particularly interested in feeding them.
He took the half empty canteen and the flare and started to walk back towards Anchorhead. It seemed like he had been walking for hours. The canteen was almost empty, and Teke was exhausted. He stopped to examine the horizon, to see if he could see the outskirts of Anchorhead. He saw nothing but sand, rock, and sky.
As he drank the last swallow of water, he almost fell over. He felt very dizzy, and was losing strength. He sat down in the burning sand, and tried to drink from the canteen again, only to find that it was still empty.
His head started spinning, and he fell back, laying down in the scorching desert. He sat up and felt like he was going to vomit. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw movement. He looked in that direction, and saw a small flash of light that looked like a reflection of some kind.
He started yelling, and quickly realized that it wouldn't do any good, so he took out the flare. Unable to stand up, Teke lit the flare and waved it in the air, standing on his knees.
Exhausted, Teke fell back into the sand, twisting his right knee. A T-47 landspeeder pulled up and a young woman jumped out. Teke lay on the ground, looking up at the sky. The young woman's long hair fell in her face as she looked at him.
"Why, hello." Teke said, still holding the flare.
"You okay?" The woman asked.
"Oh yes, I just love laying down in the middle of the desert waving a flare around."
"Very funny. C'mon get up." She offered her hand, which Teke took, to help him up.
"Ow." Teke said when he tried moving his knee.
"Where?" The woman asked.
"My right knee."
"Don't put weight on it. Lean on me." When Teke finally got into a standing position, she helped him hobble over to her speeder.
Sitting him in the open passenger seat, she lightly felt his knee.
"Well, I don't think it's broken or anything. There's not that much swelling." She handed Teke her canteen of water, which he snatched and began guzzling. "How long have you been out here? You're all sunburnt.
"Almost all day." Teke gasped as he came up for air.
"Well, be better get going. Its gettin' real dark real quick."
"Boy, it's sure lucky you left when you did, or my brother would probably be dead by now." Tap said, sitting in the kitchen with Teke and the young woman who found him in the Wastes. Teke sat in a chair with his leg on the table and his knee in a brace with a cold pack on it.
"What did you say your name was?" Teke asked.
"I didn't say." She said.
"Oh, well, that's nice. What do you expect, I'm going to kill you in revenge for saving my life? Can't anyone ever be friendly to anyone else in this town?"
"I wouldn't advise it." She said, studying Teke. "But you guys look pretty harmless. My name is Kit Kole."
"Kole, huh? Isn't that a name common in the Core Worlds?" Tap asked.
"So are you here on business?"
"In a sense."
Tap sighed. "Well, since you're obviously not going to trust us, we have things to do."
Kit looked down at the floor, almost sorry that she couldn't make herself trust them. "Yeah." She whispered. "Maybe I'll see ya around." She said as she got up to leave. "You take care of that knee." She said to Teke as she walked out the door.
Teke sat atop the freighter, removing the double laser cannon as Tap entered the docking bay.
"What're you doing now?" Tap called out.
"Like you suspected, Sedek didn't like the idea of putting in a whole other turret, so I'm replacing the old double laser cannon with a brand new quad."
"That's a good idea." Tap said, and began to walk away.
"Wait. Tap, I have to ask you something."
"I was wondering if I could go with you on your next trip."
"Teke, this is a serious business, not a pleasure cruise. Besides, I don't need you to protect me."
"It's not about protecting you, Tap. It's just that there's a million known planets in this galaxy, and it just depresses me that this is the only one I've ever seen. I feel trapped. I'm getting nowhere in my life. You're perfectly right, I'm just a lowlife petty thief. I want to see other worlds, and do something with myself other that pick the pocket of some poor farmer. Please, take me with you."
Tap stood silently for a few moments, surprised and not surprised at the same time. Tap looked at the desperate expression on his brothers face and sighed.
"I'll talk to Sedek. I don't know, I'll tell him something like you need to see if your modifications are working the way they are supposed to or something." Tap offered.
"Thank you." Teke whispered.
Tap sat in the co-pilots seat of the Tacit Roar running systems checks.
"We're all go, Captain." Tap said to Sedek.
"Good, Your brother didn't break anything." Sedek grumbled.
"Well, nothing I can see so far."
Teke entered the cockpit and took the seat behind Tap.
"So what's the name of the place we're going again?" He asked.
"Oh yeah, that's where you said Wookiees are from. What are we going to do there?"
"Pick up a shipment of some rare kind of plant fiber and take it to Dantooine."
"Strap yourself in, boy." Captain Sedek muttered. "We're leaving now."
The Ghtroc freighter touched down in a landing bay high up in the trees of the canopy of Kashyyyk. Teke stepped off the ship and took a deep breath.
"This is so amazing! It's all so green! I've never seen so much plantlife!"
Tap stepped out of the ship and stood behind his brother.
"And smell that air. You can really smell the moisture in it!" Teke went on.
"Shut up." Sedek said stepping out of the ship. "I'm going to go find the contact. You two stay here."
"Alright, I'll go get the cargo hold ready." Tap said, and he and Sedek walked off in opposite directions.
Teke, not wanting to go back into the ship after their long journey, started walking circles around the freighter. Teke was thoroughly happy as he strolled around the docking bay, listening to the cries of the birds that share their treetop home with the Wookiees. Teke couldn't have felt better breathing the sweet, humid air, and feeling it surround him.
Hearing a noise, Teke peeked around the landing gear at the main entrance to the bay and saw a human face peering around the door frame. When the face spotted Teke looking at it, it quickly disappeared.
"Hey!" Teke called out. He sprinted off toward the door as fast as he could, with his knee still giving him a little trouble. By the time Teke got to the doorway, there was no trace of the person connected to the peering face. Teke went aboard the ship and recalled the account to Tap.
"Well, what do you think it might be?" Teke asked.
"I'm not sure. It could be something as simple as a curious person, or it could be something like jackers."
"Yeah. They're kinda like pirates, but they attack while you're still on the ground."
When Captain Sedek returned with his Wookiee contact, Tap told him what had happened.
"Hmm." Sedek said as he stroked his chin. "Tap, find the owner of the bay and pay him. Teke, hide somewhere where you can see the entrances clearly, but you are hidden from view. If you see the person again, call me." Sedek handed Teke a comlink. "And if the look hostile, give this to them." Sedek unclipped a grenade from his belt and handed that to Teke also. "Meanwhile, we'll start loading the cargo."
Each person did as he was told. Teke crouched behind a stack of crates, and stared at the door. Just as Captain Sedek and the Wookiee were finishing up loading the cargo, Teke saw movement in the shadows beyond the doorway.
"I think we have company." Teke whispered into the comlink.
"Hostile?" The comlink asked.
Teke drew his blaster, unlocked the safety, and set it on the ground beside him. He held onto the grenade and pulled the pin.
Suddenly, the two figures came out of the shadows and began to fire their blasters at Sedek and the Wookiee. Teke flipped the detonator switch on the greande and hurled it at the attackers.
The blast echoed throughout the building, and as the smoke began to clear, Teke saw that the grenade took out the two attackers, but three more were entering the battle. He quickly picked up his blaster and opened fire.
He glanced over at where Sedek was, and only saw the Wookiee loading his bowcaster. Teke hit one attacker in the shoulder, and saw Tap on the other side of the ship, also firing at the attackers.
Tap hit one of the attackers right in the stomach just as the Wookiee expertly fired his bowcaster, killing the other two attackers with the powerful energy blast. The owner of the bay ran out of his office and angrily barked and growled at the three beings.
"Where's Sedek?" Tap asked.
The Wookiee explained to Tap, who could understand him, that Sedek was hit in the face and was the deadest man he'd ever seen. Tap walked over and briefly looked at the faceless body.
"Teke, go see if there's a way to identify those bodies." Tap said, taking off his vest to cover Sedek's destroyed face.
Teke searched the bodies and returned with their purses.
"Teke, I said to look for ID not to pick their pockets." Tap said with disdain. Teke just looked at his brother with hurt all over his face.
"Why do you always treat me like this?!" Teke shoved Tap, and Tap punched Teke's nose, making it bleed. "For your information Mr. Perfect, I was going to give the credits to the owner to pay for damages!" Teke yelled, blood gushing from his nose. He handed the purses to the owner, and quietly boarded the ship.
Tap helped the Wookiees get rid of the bodies, and then the Wookiees helped Tap put Sedek in one of the ships bunks. Tap found Teke laying in one of the bunks.
"You didn't clean your nose." Tap said, keeping his distance.
"I decided not to." Teke said quietly.
"Look, you got blood all over your shirt."
"As I recall the incident, I believe it was you who got blood all over my shirt." Teke said, refusing to look at his brother.
"Teke, I'm sorry. I was just upset. I shouldn't have said that."
"It's not the fact that you said that, but that you thought it."
"Then I'm sorry I thought that."
"That is not something you can possibly take back." They remained in silence for several minutes.
"So, what do we do now?" Teke asked, finally looking at Tap.
"I guess we go back to Tatooine and tell the Bloated One what happened."
When Tap and Teke returned to Tatooine, something felt different, although they couldn't put a finger on what it was. They decided to talk to Ars before going to Jabba the Hutt.
"What are you guys doing here? I thought you would have run off when you heard." Ars said, sitting in his kitchen.
"Heard what?" Tap asked.
"You have no idea, do you?" Ars asked.
"What? What happened?" Tap pressed.
"Jabba the Hutt is dead. Everything is in total chaos."
"Who killed him?" Teke asked.
"People are sayin' it was the smuggler, Han Solo. The thing is, nobody lived to see it. Everyone that was there was killed."
"How can that be? Jabba is always around dozens of people."
"Well, what happened was that they were taking Solo and two others to the Sarlacc for their execution, but they never returned. And when people went out there, all they found was what was left his sail barge and two skiffs."
"Weird." Tap whispered.
"Yeah, tell me about it. But now is the time. Leave. Go. Take your ship and run."
"What about you?" Teke asked.
"Can I talk to you in private?" Ars asked.
"Yeah, I'm going to the Cantina. I'll see you guys later." Tap said, and left.
"So what is it?" Teke asked.
Ars sighed. "I'm leaving too, but I've been planning it for a while. I was afraid to tell you, but I know I have to tell you eventually."
"Where are you going?"
"The Imperial Naval Academy."
"What!! Why? What can you be thinking!? You're insane! You know what they did to my father!"
"Your father was breaking the law." Ars said calmly. "If I stay here I'll never get anywhere. With the Navy, I'll get an education and I'll get to see the galaxy, and I'll get paid for it."
"How dare you speak of my father that way! You know just as well I do that my father was a good man! Better than you and I are! You lowlife scum! How dare you! I hope you die in boot camp. Go on, serve your filthy Emperor! Filthy with the blood millions of innocent beings."
"How dare you speak to me like that. This is a decision I made."
"Oh yeah, well this is a decision I've made." Teke said, throwing his right fist as hard as could at Ars' face.
Tap was sitting at the bar at the Cantina having a drink when Kit Kole sat next to him.
"Hi." She said cheerfully.
Tap slowly turned and looked at her. "Hi." He said quietly.
"My captain was killed, I hurt my brother's feelings real bad, and my life has been turned upside-down. Again. How was your week?"
"Bad, but not as bad as yours. I lost my job."
"We all did, honey. Can I buy you a drink?"
"Ale." Tap nodded and ordered her the drink.
"So what's your story?" Tap asked when she got her drink.
"Well, you probably wouldn't believe me, but my captain ditched me."
"Yep. He just got up and left without me."
"You're a smuggler then?"
"Well, I have a ship and need a partner, and you need both a ship and a partner. What do you think?"
"I think I need a job, and you're offering me one, and I think I'll take it."
Five standard years later, Teke, now twenty years old, boarded the Tacit Roar (Tap decided to keep the ships name in honor of Captain Sedek) and walked to his bunk. He entered the security code to a safe he kept, and set a small vial inside, along with hundreds of others. This was Teke's new hobby. He traveled the galaxy with Tap and Kit, and at each planet he visited, he collected a soil sample. It was often a difficult chore, having to dig through several feet of snow or ice or having to travel thousands of feet under water to attain the sample. Sometimes, it was against a planets law to touch the ground, or perhaps the ground was inhabited by villainous creatures. Whatever the situation, Teke always found a way to fill his vial.
"Hey Teke, you ready?" Tap asked, poking his head in the bunk.
"Yup." Teke said, shutting the safe. "So what's our next stop?"
"Spice to Tatooine."
"Tatooine, huh?" Teke always loved going back to Tatooine, but he never wanted to stay long.
Tap went to the cockpit, and in a few minutes, they were in realspace. Teke strolled into the cockpit and sat down in the seat behind Kit.
Just as Tap began entering information into the nav computer to calculate the jump into hyperspace, Teke spotted a ship in the distance.
"Kit..." Teke began.
"Yeah, I see it." Kit said, switching on the sensors. She scanned the area and focused on the approaching ship. "Oh boy." She said, unenthusiastically.
"What is it?" Teke asked.
"Of all the systems in the galaxy, we had to be in the same one as an Imperial Star Destroyer." Of course, a few years ago, the Alliance had defeated the Empire at the Battle of Endor, but the war still raged on. Whether they had a leader or not, Imperials did not give up easily.
"Do you have those coordinates set yet?" Kit asked Tap impatiently.
"No. I don't know, I think there's something wrong with it. It's acting funny." Tap said, trying to restrain his panic.
"Blast it!" Teke said, approaching the nav computer. "You keep us out of tractor beam range, and I'll figure out what's up with this thing."
"Alright." The Star Destroyer opened fire. "Kit, full shields on the rear quarter." Even with the small freighter traveling at its top speed, it was no match for the Star Destroyer. The Destroyer was quickly gaining on them. "Come on Teke! What's wrong with it?"
"I don't know!" Teke yelled in frustration. He ripped the cover off the computer and examined the circuitry. "Wait! This switch is burnt!" Teke ran off and quickly returned, replacing the switch with a new one. "There. Alright! It's calculating."
"Blast it!" Tap yelled.
"What? Wha'd I do?" Teke asked, looking around, confused.
"Not you, bonehead! We're locked in their tractor beam." The tiny ship was drawn against it's will into the belly of the huge metal monster. Teke, Tap, and Kit waited patiently, with every intention to surrender.
Finally, the ship was docked, and a group of Stormtroopers awaited them. The troopers boarded the ship, and began searching it. A young officer boarded the ship, and the Stormtroopers reported their findings.
"What is in the safe?" The officer asked his prisoners.
"My soil collection." Teke answered.
The officer began to laugh. "You collect soil? Sounds like you need a new hobby. But I need you to open it for me."
The officer and several Stormtroopers herded the group into Teke's bunk. Teke entered the security code and opened the door. The officer looked inside and continued laughing. A trooper approached the officer and whispered something to him.
"Is that so? How unfortunate." The officer said to the trooper. "It seems illegal spices were found in your cargo bay, my young travellers. I'll have to hold you prisoner. Get them out of my face." He instructed the troopers.
As they started off, the officer grabbed Teke's arm. "You will change your hobby, won't you?"
"No." Teke answered truthfully.
The officer turned and kicked his boot into the safe, breaking Teke's precious vials.
Teke, being the way he is, ignored the Stormtroopers blaster rifle that was pointed at his back, and leaped at the officer. Tap acted quickly and shoved the trooper guarding his back, and pulled his hold-out blaster from inside his sleeve, and blasted the trooper guarding Teke.
The trooper guarding Kit blasted Tap in the chest and Kit jumped on the trooper's back and tried wrestling his blaster away from him.
Teke had already given the officer a black eye when the officer slammed his fist into Teke's jaw, sending his flying backwards. The officer took the opportunity, and drew his blaster, aiming it at Kit. Teke quickly gathered himself, and lunged at the officers legs.
But the officer's shot had hit it's mark, and just then, two dozen troopers ran toward the bunk and dragged Teke off to his cell.
Teke awoke in a small gray cell. He could tell by the tingling feeling all over that he had been stunned, although he didn't remember it. Teke looked all around the cell and found only a security camera.
He sat back and began to take his boots off. With his back turned to the camera, Teke reached into his right boot and pulled up the sole. Underneath, was stored a vibroknife, which he inconspicuously slipped into his shirt sleeve.
He replaced his boots and stood up. He tapped his finger on the security camera and began to talk.
"Hello? I know you're there. Watching me, and listening to me. But um, I'm really hungry. I mean, after killing my brother and my friend, and my father too, the least you can do is give me lunch." Teke began to continually talk, talking until they brought him food.
Two Naval Troopers came in and handed him a tray of green muck. Just as the trooper turned his back on Teke, Teke pulled and switched on the vibroknife. He slashed the troopers' throat, and grabbed his blaster. Teke fired twice at the other trooper, missing the first time. Without noticing, Teke had hit the control panel of the cell across form his, and the door slid open.
Teke gazed at the man in New Republic uniform who stepped out.
"Teke? Is it really you?" The man asked.
"Koe?" Teke couldn't believe it. Teke hadn't seen Koe since Koe was younger than Teke is now. Teke picked up the blaster of the other trooper and handed it to Koe.
Hearing hurried footsteps, they saw several Naval Troopers running down the corridor. Teke and Koe ran toward the troopers, firing with every step.
At the end of the hall, the security station was greatly underemployed, and Koe and Teke easily killed all the guards, but not before they sprung the alarm.
Upon hearing troopers outside the door, Teke locked the door to the security station.
"What now?" Teke asked Koe in a panic.
Koe glanced around the room and reached under the computer console, and pulled out a black box, which Teke recognized as some kind of tool kit.
With the troopers beating on the other side of the door, Koe selected a vibropick, and used it to carefully remove the cover to the ventilator, high on the wall. Koe helped Teke climb into the tight shaft, handing him the tool kit.
Koe followed Teke into the shaft, and replaced the grate. He silently signaled Teke to crawl forward in the metal tunnel. And crawl they did, stopping at each grate to look for an underguarded computer outlet.
When one was finally found, Koe removed the grate and silently dropped into the small office when the officer inside had his back turned. Koe blasted the officer, locked the door, and helped Teke climb out of the vent.
"So how did you get here?" Teke asked. "I still can't believe it's really you. I..."
"No time for small talk." Koe quietly said. "We have to concentrate on getting off this ship." Koe examined the large computer, and opened a tiny door on the side. Inside, were hundreds of different colored wires.
Koe examined several greenish colored wires. Choosing one, he used Teke's vibroknife to slice it. He turned to the console, and began pressing several buttons.
"What are you doing?" Teke asked.
"Finding a map of the ship that will show me how to get to the engineering decks. Here it is. We can get there from the vents. "
"Well? What are we waiting for? Lets go." Teke said impatiently.
"We need to know how to get from engineering to the nearest docking bay, and it would be nice to know if there was a ship in it."
"Oh yeah. Right. Well?"
"Here it is. A Skipray Blastboat. But we can't get there from the air duct. We'll have to make a run for it."
"Sounds like fun to me." Teke said, grinning.
"Not if you get killed. Lets move out." Koe took a vibroknife from the utility belt of the dead officer, and pulled himself back into the air duct.
After crawling through the labyrinth for what felt like an hour to Teke, they finally found the main engineering deck, and came out of the vent from the ceiling.
Like the rest of the ship, there didn't seem to be very many people working on the deck. Crouching low, Koe led Teke to a secluded corner.
"Listen." Koe began in a quiet whisper. "I know you know how to disconnect things, so this is what I want you to do. Use your knife and cut the wires that will shut down the main engines, and their sensors. When you're finished, and if everything is quiet, meet me back here. I'm going to take out their weapons systems and their tractor beams."
"What if it's not quiet?"
"If somebody sees you, blast them, finish your mission, and find me. It's only a matter of time anyway, before they detect where the damage is coming from. Now they know that there's two escaped prisoners loose aboard the ship, and when they find out what we're doing, they'll alert the whole ship. So the point is, speed of the operation is the main factor. Got it?"
"Yeah. I think so."
"Good. Move out." Teke and Koe split up and noiselessly crept through the computer-lined hall, searching for the correct terminal.
Teke moved like a shadow through the corridor until he came across the terminal controlling the ship's sensors. He switched on his vibroknife, wishing it didn't make that buzzing noise, and began slicing wires.
"What do you think you're doing?" An obviously Imperial voice asked.
Teke quickly turned around and blasted the man, before even looking to see if the man was armed. Teke quickly finished the job, and openly ran through the halls, frantically searching for the sublight systems control computer.
Just as he found it, an alarm started whining. Teke swiftly shut down the system and ran like the wind to find Koe, but Koe had found Teke first.
"Let's get out of here!" Koe yelled over the blaring siren. Teke noticed several Stormtroopers heading in their direction.
"Lead the way!"
Teke followed Koe through the halls, with the Stormtroopers hot on their tails. As the brothers rounded the corner, they were met by another group of Stormtroopers.
Koe opened fire on the surprised troopers, killing two before they knew what was going on. Teke also fired on the Stormtroopers, but did nothing but waste ammo.
"Come on! This way!" Koe yelled to Teke. Koe started back the way he came, but took a left turn instead of going straight.
The now larger group of Stormtroopers, fired their blaster rifles as they chased the two escapees. Teke and Koe ran as fast as their legs would allow, occasionally firing over their shoulders. The troopers continued to pursue the brothers, and followed them into a docking bay.
Koe dashed aboard the ship, killing anyone that dared to cross his path. He sprinted to the cockpit and glanced at the controls.
"Teke! Shut the ramp!"
Teke did as he was instructed and found his way to the cockpit.
"Can you fly it?" Teke asked.
"I think so. This flies more like a fighter, but I think I can handle it. There is a turret. Find it. They'll most likely send out TIE's." Koe said as the ship lifted off and blasted out of the docking bay.
Teke found the turret and took his seat. As Koe predicted, two flights of TIE fighters came into view. Teke put on his headset.
"Can you hear me?" Teke said into the microphone.
"Crystal clear. They're coming in at point zero-zero-two."
"I'm on it." Teke swiveled the turret as four TIE's came into his view. "They're too fast! I can't get a lock on them!"
"Don't worry about it." Koe said over the comlink. "Just fire at them!"
Two TIE's dove straight on the turret, trying to take it out, but Teke was able to take out the first TIE, and the other had to break off his attack.
"Where'd they go? I can't see them!" Teke yelled.
"They're under us. Hold on." Koe said as he inverted the ship.
Teke found a hornets nest of TIE's, and opened fire without having to aim at all. Teke took out two TIE's but there were still five more, and Teke knew that the ship's shields must be taking a real beating.
"Can't we jump to hyperspace yet!?" Teke shouted as he fired.
"Almost. It's calculating." Koe said as a huge crashing sound came from the left rear. "We're loosing shields!"
The lights aboard the ship flickered and Teke could feel the artificial gravity flicker with it. Just as Teke was about to kiss his life good-bye, the fighters simply left.
"What happened?" Teke asked Koe over the comlink.
"Just like the Imperials are short on manpower, they're short on fuel too, and if those TIE's traveled any farther from the Destroyer, they wouldn't have enough fuel to return, and the Imperials can't afford to loose any ships. Hold on." Koe said to Teke as the starfield in Teke's viewport turned to white lines.
Teke left the turret, and went into the cockpit and sat down in the co-pilots chair.
"So what's your story?" Teke asked after a few minutes of silence.
"How I ended up as a prisoner aboard a Star Destroyer? Or what I've been up to all these years?"
"Both." Teke said after a moments thought.
"Well, I went to basic training, and went on to Special Forces training, and became a SpecForces Marine. I spent several years defending ships, and for the past couple of years my platoon has been boarding and overtaking enemy ships. That's how I was captured. Intelligence underestimated how many troops were aboard the target ship, and several other things were going wrong, and my platoon was cornered, and of course, we kept fighting anyway, and I was injured and knocked unconscious. So the Imperials healed me so they could interrogate me."
"Hmm." Teke said, nodding his head.
"What about you? Tell me your story."
"Oh, it's not much. Nothing special." Teke said quietly.
"Well, what's Tap up to?" Koe asked lightly.
Koe sighed, knowing what the silence about the subject must mean.
"Well, what are you going to do now?" Koe asked.
"I don't know." Teke said as if he'd never thought about it before.
"Why don't you come back with me?" Koe asked cautiously.
Teke sat quietly, deep in thought.
"Ok." He whispered.