Star Wars: Treasures of the Force – Bonus Ch 2

Sali gave her first order to “Open Fire” at age 16. It wasn’t that she was particularly precocious for her age. It was that she was righteously enraged at the Palmaran Law Cruiser which had killed her Aunt and Uncle and was in the process of trying to kill her and the rest of the people on her ship.

“We can’t fire unless the Captain gives the order,” Beluk, the taller of the two remaining bridge crew said. “The ship’s got the weapon’s locked down.”

“I don’t give a kriffing phud about that,” Sali screamed. “I’ve got the Captain’s badge, so I’m the Captain now, and I say charge the damn guns and blow that ship out of the sky.”

In theory Captaincy of an inter-system transport wasn’t the sort of thing which could be acquired as a “finders keepers” sort of thing, but after escaping the depressurizing cabin from which her only previously surviving family had been cast into space, and then struggling to get through both a burning corridor and an electrified elevator shaft, Sali was entirely out of patience with the galaxy and everyone else in it.

“Computer, initiate scan, process new crew assignments,” Loxtrol, the short and fuzzy other surviving bridge crew said.

Sali heard a tortured beep as the computer scrambled to find the resources to execute the requested routine.

A moment later a blue light bathed the bridge and the badge Sali had grabbed off the charred corpse on the central command chair responded with a blue pulse of its own.

“New crew allocation confirmed,” a mechanized voice said a moment before one of the displays at the far end of the bridge exploded.

“Give the order again,” Beluk said, running his hands over the controls at his station faster than Sali could follow.

“Charge our guns, target the Law Cruiser, and fire on it until there is nothing left but a cloud of expanding gas,” Sali said. “If any escape pods launch, I want them tractor beamed and once the Law Cruiser is gone, we’re going to pop them one right after enough and then blow them to space dust too.”

“What?” Beluk said.

“Was I unclear,” Sali asked.

“No. Not at all. Charging main guns now,” Beluk said.

“I’m getting a hail from the Law Cruiser and their engines are powering up,” Loxtrol said.

“Target the engines first. There’s no escape from this,” Sali said. “And put the hail through. I want to hear them beg.”

“Illegal transport vessel Dartan Sol, we read an energy build up on your weapon’s system,” a still Imperial accented voice said.

Sali knew voices like that.

She’d heard them a lot growing up. 

Remnants of the old Empire that had been swept away, driving those who clung to its power out to to the fringes of the galaxy. The thing about the galaxy though is that four hundred billion stars is a lot of space, and the fringes had plenty of room to absorb all sorts of awfulness.

“That’s because we’re going to kill you with them,” Sali said, assuming there was still a microphone intact somewhere that would pick up her voice.

“We have engaged the remote firing locks on your weapons,” the ex-Imperial said. “Your engine systems and navigational controls have been disabled as well. Cease resisting and you will be processed according to Palmaran law.”

“This is the Zudani system. Palmaran law does not apply here,” Loxtrol said.

“The Zudani system has been accepted as a member of Palmaran Protectorate,” the ex-Imperial said. “Any attempt to resist our lawful prosecution will result in the destruction of your vessel and permanent indenture of any survivors.”

Sali saw a light flicker off on the console in front of her.

“There won’t be any survivors,” Beluk said. “Just like there probably aren’t many Zudani left anymore either.”

“What do you mean?” Loxtrol said.

“The Palmaran’s took the Kastobol system last year,” Beluk said. “The Kastobol resisted and the Palamaran’s used some of the old Imperial Star Destroyers to bomb the planetary surface to a molten sea of rock. They only care about territory for the ‘humans only’ mini-Empire.”

“Are the weapon’s charged yet?” Sali asked. The history lesson was fascinating but she was more focused on consigning people to history for the time being.

“No. A lot of the relays are down. Repair droids are working on it, but they need time,” Beluk said.

“How much?” Sali asked.

“As much as we can give them,” Beluk said. “If we can buy them five minutes though, it looks like they can get the central relay going. That’ll give us weapons but no maneuverability. Of course we don’t have engine control anyways so no loss there.”

“Put them back on then,” Sali said.

“Are you sure?” Beluk asked. “They don’t seem to have the plans for our class of ship or they wouldn’t have shot up the bridge and missed the main nav computers that are two floor up, but they could still hit us again and we barely survived the first shot.”

“Some of us didn’t survive it,” Sali said, though in her case it had been a shot that had mistargeted the engines.

“If we get the deflector shields up, we can take some of their shots,” Loxtrol said. “We certainly won’t be dodging them.”

“Put them on, and get the weapons online first,” Sali said.

Beluk and Loxtrol shared a glance that said ‘we’re going to die no matter what, might as well humor the girl with the Captain’s badge’ and got to work.

Sali waited until the light on her console came back on before speaking.

“What charges under Palmaran Law are you bringing against us?” she asked once the channel was open again.

“Your weapons are still powering up,” the Imperial said.

“Energy overflow,” Sali said. “You damaged the regulators when you destroyed the navigational array.”

She had no idea if any of that could even vaguely be true but she didn’t need it to be true, she just needed it to be believable.

“Get that under control then or we will be forced to enact a summary judgment on you.” Why the Imperial had stopped firing wasn’t much of a mystery. Even with the damage they’d inflicted the transport vessel was worth a fortune, and there wasn’t much fledgling micro empires liked more than stealing resources from others.

With the damage the Law Cruiser done in its initial bombardment, the Imperial had to be aware that any further attacks could deal a lot more damage than intended. Which would make them cautious. Maybe even for five minutes.

“The droids are working on it now,” Sali said. “Now what charges justify your assault on us.”

“You violated Palmaran sovereign space,” the Imperial said.

“You fired on us before you even declared that this was Palmaran space!” Beluk said.

“Our borders are sacrosanct regardless of your ignorance of them,” the Imperial said.

“So why did you disable our navigation array?” Sali asked. “We could leave your space if you’d left us the ability to fly out of it.”

“Criminals are not allowed to escape justice. Your ship is to be impounded and all aboard will stand trial to determine your Loyalty Rating.”

“Our what?” Sali was playing for time but she couldn’t deny that plumbing the depths of the Palmaran’s terribly stupidity held a morbid fascination all its own.

“Your identification will be seized and compared to a database of known Rebel sympathizers and subversives. If any of you are determined to have acted against the laws of the Palmaran Protectorate, you will be tried accordingly.”

“What about people who aren’t carrying Palmaran identification chips?” Sali asked.

“Failure to provide proper identification is a crime and is punishable at the highest level of offense.” The Imperial seemed gleeful about that which told Sali all she needed to know about the sort of horrors that awaited them.

“What constitutes proper identification?” Sali asked, already knowing what the answer was.

“Any form of Imperial blockchain identification is acceptable, provided it has been registered with Palamaran Central Command or carries a Gold clearance level or higher.”

In other words, they were looking for people who wanted to remain Imperial citizens when the Empire fell, especially ones who were in positions of authority and would have access to the monumental amount of stolen funds the Imperials had hidden away after the destruction of the second Death Star. 

Sali cast a glance over to Beluk, silently asking for an update.

Beluk shook his head and held out his hand with his thumb and forefinger separated by a slight gap.

Sali grimaced. She was tired of listening to the Imperial. Tired of knowing he was still alive. Tired of any of the people on the Law Cruiser being alive.

“Are you going to be sending boarding parties over?” she asked, a new plan forming. “We will need to redirect the repair droids to the hangar in that case.”

“We will send a team to take control of your bridge,” the Imperial said. “All of your command staff will present themselves at the hangar, along with any security staff. You will all be disarmed when our security team arrives. If any weapons are detected, the security team is authorized to render summary judgment upon any and all who are present.”

Sali motioned for Loxtrol to mute the comm and saw the light on her console flicker off again.

“Do we have any security staff?” she asked.

“Not enough to repel a boarding party,” Loxtrol said.

“We lost some when the blew out the eighth deck,” Beluk said.

Because apparently the security team were headquartered on the same deck where Sali’s uncle had booked their rooms.

“That’s terrible for them but good for us,” Sali said, imagining the dead security team members delight at how she planned to avenge them.

She gestured for the comm to be enabled again.

“We have extensive damage which the repair bots cannot clear. It will take us time to make it to the hangar,” she said. “When will your security team be arriving in the hangar?”

“They will be departing on my command,” the Imperial said.

“They may want to wait until the decks have been cleared,” Sali said. “The droid reports are saying that may take several hours.”

“We do not have several hours, and I do not trust you,” the Imperial said. “Order the security team to depart now.”

“Uh, sir, the transport’s weapons are still building up energy sir,” someone on the Law Cruiser said from outside the transmission window.

“It doesn’t matter. We have them locked down,” the Imperial said. “Send the security team.”

A fast shuttle was perfectly capable of traversing the distance between the Law Cruiser and the Transport in under a minute. At best pace, the security team could have arrived in time to thwart all of Sali’s plans.

But they didn’t make their best pace.

The security shuttle floated leisurely through the void, lining up with the transport’s dock for an easy landing.

They were roughly at the halfway point when the first turbolaser batter began firing, and the security team had an excellent view at the primary weapons array on the cruiser went up like a bomb.

More turbolaser batteries on the transport spoke after that, each targeting a different weapons system until in just under two seconds, the Law Cruiser was stripped of offensive weaponry. That wouldn’t normally have been possible but the transport had been given an awful lot of time to work out precise targeting of an enemy which they had the exact deckplans for.

Before the security team could process that, the tractor beam caught them.

And then the Turbolasers switched targets and began tearing apart the Law Cruiser’s engines.

None of the shots hit the bridge, and none hit the crew quarters.

Sali gave them plenty of time to free and waited until the last of the escape pods had launched before turning the Law Cruiser into cosmic dust.

Then, just as promised, she had the tractor beams which held the escape pods begin to crush them, one by one, saving the Security Shuttle and the Imperial Captain’s pod for last, so they would have plenty of time to understand what was coming.

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