Authors: Michael Kogge
Tags: #Young Adult - Fiction
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To all those new rebels, about to take
their first steps into a larger world.
The Outer Rim.
It was the largest region of the known galaxy—and the loneliest. Much of it had not yet been mapped. Ships could travel the hyperlanes for years and never run into another soul.
Such was not the case for the
. The sector of the Outer Rim where it traveled had suddenly become a very busy place. Four flat-winged Imperial TIE fighters screamed after the diamond-shaped freighter in hot pursuit.
“Kanan.” Hera’s voice crackled over the
’s intercom. “We have a small situation here.”
Kanan Jarrus hurried down the
’s main corridor to the dorsal turret. He shook his head at Hera’s words.
A small situation.
Hera loved to understate their challenges. It was her Twi’lek sense of humor.
In reality, there was nothing funny about being chased by TIEs. They were the Empire’s fastest fighters, flown by the Empire’s best pilots—pilots who were willing to surrender their lives for the greater glory of the New Order.
A TIE fighter’s lasers shook the ship’s shields, causing Kanan to bump into a wall. He grabbed the turret ladder to steady himself.
No. Their troubles were far bigger than just a
“And if you’d care to blast one of those TIEs out of the galaxy, I don’t think anyone would object,” Hera said through intercom static.
“Working on it,” Kanan said, climbing the ladder into the turret. Internal microphones would transmit his voice back to Hera in the cockpit. “But it’s not like you gave me a lot of warning.”
“As I recall, raiding an Imperial convoy was your plan, love,” Hera said.
Kanan dropped into the turret’s bucket seat. “Well, it made sense at the time.”
And it had. They’d thought they had hit the jackpot when Chopper, their antique astromech droid, had unscrambled an Imperial military frequency. Comm chatter revealed that nearby cargo ships were transporting minerals used to build the Empire’s war machines. But what Kanan and Hera hadn’t known was that the Empire would have TIE fighters waiting for them. The cargo report had been a trap set to capture rebels.
Kanan didn’t blame himself. He and Hera would’ve been lazy banthas if they hadn’t done something about the transport convoy. Every chance to end the evil of the Empire had to be taken—no matter how great the risk. That was what Hera always said.
More lasers hammered the
’s shields. A TIE roared over the freighter. Kanan grabbed the gun grips and spun in his seat, tracking the enemies.
The TIEs were indeed fast and hard to target. Yet speed had its sacrifices. The Empire had designed their fighters to be all engine, no shields. One or two direct hits could knock out a TIE for good.
The targeting computer beeped. It had a lock.
His shots nailed the TIE in one of its twin ion engines. The enemy pilot couldn’t maneuver out of this. His craft exploded in a blaze of light.
Kanan whirled around in the turret. One down, three to go.
Hera was nearly blinded
in the pilot’s chair. First there was the explosion; then came a barrage of laser fire from the remaining TIEs. The light was so intense that even Hera’s Twi’lek head-tails twitched.
Laser fire shouldn’t be that bright. The shields should have lessened the intensity. It could mean only one thing.
“Shields down!” Hera shouted after checking her scopes. “Chopper, fix them!”
Behind her, the astromech unit C1-10P, otherwise known as “Chopper,” uttered a sound halfway between a snort and a beep. He was an old and moody little machine, always whining about this or that. But as much as the droid complained, and as out of date as his model was, Hera wanted no one else repairing the
. Chopper connected with the ship’s systems far better than any flesh-and-blood mechanic or new droid model ever could.
Chopper extended one of his repair arms into a socket and got to work. Meanwhile, Hera toggled switches on the control panel. They were going to need every boost of speed they had to avoid the TIEs until the shields were online again.
Kanan wasn’t making their job any easier. His next shot completely missed. But the oncoming TIE didn’t. Its lasers hammered the
’s hull, rattling Hera in her seat.
She slapped the intercom. “Kanan, what part of ‘blast them’ did you not understand?” she said while steering the ship into an evasive roll.
Hera expected one of Kanan’s wry replies. He had a thousand one-liners ready to go. Humorous banter was their way of keeping their heads cool during life-and-death moments. But there was no response through the intercom.
“Kanan?” Hera stabbed at the intercom button again. “Kanan, do you read?”
There was nothing but static. If the TIE’s blasts had somehow hit the turret and she’d lost Kanan, she didn’t know what she’d do. Kanan Jarrus was more than a friend or a colleague. The human meant the world to her—although she’d never admit it to him.
A burst of cannon fire from the turret relieved her worries. Kanan was still there in the turret, fighting the good fight. The enemy’s shot must have destroyed only a communication module.
“Internal comm is out,” Hera said to Chopper. “Go back to comm control and fix it.”
Chopper let out a high-pitched whine that exasperated Hera. This was no time for complaining.
“I know you’re fixing the shields,” Hera said, jerking the flight stick from side to side. “But I need the comm operational to coordinate our attack. Now go before I pull your battery!”
Chopper grunted and withdrew his arm from the socket. A third round of cannon fire rang out from Kanan’s turret. The closest TIE swerved around the bolts and came at the
for another laser strafing run.
“And while you’re back there,” Hera said as the droid rolled out of the cockpit, “tell Kanan to please hit something!”