🖋️ Day 17 of the calendar brings you a Starbase fan fic, written by one of the Community Managers. If you’d like to read more, you can find the previous post here!
Hope you enjoy!
”A simple mission,” Seven had told him. ”Sneak aboard, get the thing and get out. We’ve done this twenty times already, ain’t nothin’ weird about it.”
Rookie – model RK-13 – cursed his blue-eyed faith as the Remus, their old cover up ride, landed smoothly between two tall dunes and sent a cloud of moon dust billowing in every direction. The Remus, a banged up old mining ship with chipped paint and a malfunctioning tractor beam that made it useless for its intended purpose, was hardly their fastest ship, but it worked well when they wanted to attract little attention. No one questioned the presence of independent mining crews these days, and the slower your ship was the less the Imperials paid attention. No one in their right mind would try to outrun a fleet on a Remus.
Neither Rookie nor AK7, or Seven, as he preferred to be called, were in their right minds. An Imperial fleet lay in wait in front of the Gate, monitoring all traffic as though expecting trouble, and a Lictor and three Spathas were parked above the dunes. Rookie’s target.
”You didn’t tell me I’m sneaking aboard an Imperial Lictor.”
Seven just gave him a push. ”I’ve faith in your ability, pal.”
The Remus’s engines were still roaring as he jumped out, and he soon understood why. The thrusters created a current that sent even more sand flying around, and within a few moments the ship had received a thick sand-coating. The engines died and the trail vanished, rendering the ship’s whereabouts something of a mystery.
Rookie soon found out what had brought the Imperials to the moon; half the plating of the Lictor was peppered with dents and laser-holes. Rookie remained hidden for an hour, observing as the soldiers made their rounds and squabbled over the repairs. A crew of twenty for the Lictor, and one soldier for each Spatha, if he was counting correctly. The Spatha pilots took it in turns to lazily patrol the immediate area, and the Lictor’s captain tried to keep up the semblance of organization, but it was obvious that any real control in this unit was lax at best. After a while the mechanics told the captain to sod off and let them work in peace.
”No entry through here,” one of the mechanics curtly told an Imperial gunman trying to exit the ship. ”This side’s for the repair crew only. Either stay onboard or use the other side, but stay out of our way.”
There was a nasty silence. The gunman glanced at their captain, then shrugged and turned around.
The shadows grew longer as the sun turned. Rookie waited until the hill he was crouching behind was fully in the shade, then moved slowly, carefully edging around the hill to a peek on the Lictor’s other side. The loading bridge was open, but apart from one bored-looking gunman there was no one guarding the entrance. The Lictor shuddered suddenly, causing the soldier to jump, and an angry voice from the other side of the ship yelled, ”I said, don’t test the engines while we’re working!”
The captain yelled something back. More voices – the other soldiers, Rookie guessed – joined the dispute. The gunman at the door squared their soldiers, glanced around nervously, then broke into a run to join the rest of the unit. Rookie took his chance and approached the ship in a crouch as fast as he could. He paused to listen on the loading bridge, but when no approaching footfalls came, he sneaked in.
The lights in the corridor were dim, only some of the lamps working. Rookie listened, hidden in the shadows and as still as one of them. The lights in the corridor flickered once, twice, until going out entirely. He would have smiled if he only could. He heard the captain’s voice rise by an octave somewhere outdoors.
Rookie sneaked down the corridor and into the control room. Here, too, panels had been ripped out and cabling removed for repairs. He tapped his Universal Tool and pulled out the model Seven had sent to him. A small, rectangular device, his mentor had told him. Not the best instructions to go with, Rookie thought dryly; how many devices in any standard ship would fit the description? He paused as his eyes fell on a device smaller than his palm, installed directly to the flight control unit. The panel it had been hiding under was leaning against the wall, almost obscuring it from view. The device bore the Empire colours, and a minuscule blue light blinked on and off every few seconds.
It has an internal battery of some sort, he thought, or perhaps a built-in alarm system. The latter would pose problems. Rookie assessed the situation quickly. The damned thing was still cabled to the flight control unit. He took out his tools and detached the whole unit. The device continued blinking, but no alarm sounded. Carefully, he stowed the unit and the device into his backpack, and pulled out the bomb. It wasn’t his neatest work, but would make it harder for the soldiers to pursue them after his sabotage was discovered. He attached it where the flight control unit had been, connected it to the cable network, and bolted the panel back in its place. He had exactly five minutes.
He didn’t bother crouching any more on his way out; the soldiers were still arguing, masking whatever noise he made. He heard footsteps going towards the engine room just as he left the way he’d come from. The ship hummed back to life, its floor vibrating under his feet as the power was restored. When he was hidden behind the dune again he heard someone shout, ”hey, who fixed the flight control unit?”
Rookie broke into a run.
He deactivated his mag boots, hovered up to the loading bridge and closed the door. ”They’ll have noticed something’s off by now. We need to leave.”
Seven glanced over his shoulder from the pilot seat. ”You got it?” Rookie gave him the thumbs up, and a second latter the Remus’s engines started roaring. They rose slowly and arched over the Lictor’s repair site, where a gunman tried to open fire towards them.
”You’ve always been just enough of a daredevil to be worth liking, you know,” Seven commented, amused.
He’d only just gotten the words out when the explosion went off, leaving a large hole in the Lictor’s hull. Out crawled a blackened mechanic, covered head to toe in soot. Rookie cast a furtive glance at Seven, who sighed.
”… and enough of a soft-hearted wretch to make me question your choice of profession sometimes.”
”Sorry,” Rookie said. He didn’t sound one bit sorry.
”Some pirate you are. Blow ’em up to smithereens next time, pal, they’re the enemy.”
”Perhaps, but I can’t find it in myself to hurt anyone needlessly.”
”How very altruistic of you.”
Rookie didn’t look away from the monitor when he said, without skipping a beat, ”you know I’d never hesitate to shoot should they seek to harm you – or myself.”
”I know, I’m good like that.”
The ship shook and stuttered as they reached the atmosphere, and Rookie heard something rattle threateningly in the structures above the pilot seat. He glanced up and was greeted by a downfall of sand to his face.
Seven grumbled. The ship accelerated, and the engines let out an unseemly howl that worsened with each second. Seven turned the ship slowly, not towards the glow of the travel gate through which they’d arrived, but to the Empire fleet and the asteroid belt ahead.
”But the gate’s—”
”We’re not takin’ the gate, pal. If we’re being pursued, which I’m sure we will be in a bit, I’m not havin’ a race with our guests,” Seven interrupted. ”Plug the thing in, I wanna see what it’s got.”
Rookie dug out the flight control unit from his backpack and carefully extracted the device from it. It let out a loud, beeping signal in protest. He went to their own FCU and connected the device to it, mimicking how it had been attached to its original FCU, and the Remus’s lights flickered once in response.
”Bull’s eye,” Seven said.
When Rookie got back to him, he stopped to stare in amazement. A bright holograph had appeared in front of the pilot seat, its brilliant green glow reflecting from the windows. Planets, moons, the asteroid belt of Eos, and stations that Rookie could not recognize. Seven reached out and with a small motion of his hand the image zoomed in to a cluster of small dots. Clearly, this was…
”A map,” Rookie breathed.
”The known galaxy, and more.” Seven sounded thrilled. ”Ever wanted to see beyond the borders of the world as you know it?”
”If it’s not more sand.”
Seven laughed. ”Sit down, friend. We’ve a long adventure ahead.”