In Mark Wooden’s latest Star Wars fanfiction, ISB agent Kaila Ores pursues terrorists in Naboo orbit. She also encounters the starship carrying Rebels Nile, Corana, and Piani.
Unknown to Kaila, have traveled to Naboo to find her.
Want to read from the beginning? Go to Episode 1.1 here! Go to Episode 4.1 here!
Having barely scraped by the E-9 scout vessel, Corana didn’t relish another collision with the approaching N-1 Naboo starfighters. She pushed her flight controls forward, throwing her Legate-class carrier the Bevryder into a dive toward the Naboo atmosphere.
The hasty maneuver threw co-pilot Piani into her console. Nile, seated behind Piani, pressed forward into the back of the Twi’lek’s chair.
The trick worked. The women watched as both starfighters shot past the Bevryder.
Once settled back in her chair, Piani said, “Nice flying, as usual.”
Corana threw a look over her shoulder, flashing a practiced grin. “Nothing like a little starship chase to get the juices flowing.”
“You enjoyed that, didn’t you?” Nile said, weariness in her tone.
Ignoring Nile, Corana asked Piani, “Can you figure out who the players are in that merry little chase?”
Reading monitors, Piani replied, “Landing pad chatter says the scout ship’s occupants are terrorists escaping.” Turning to Corana, she added, “Those are royal Naboo starfighters chasing them.”
Piani held Corana’s gaze for a moment.
Nile leaned forward in her seat, looking at first Piani, then Corana. She recognized their expressions, a shorthand between two women who’d worked for a decade together.
Sensing where the two young minds in front of her were going, Nile said, “Getting into a firefight is not the best way to maintain a low profile.”
“But, if we help the Naboo catch the bad guys, maybe they’ll get us to the agent quickly?” Corona said.
“Or maybe they’ll throw us in jail for interfering,” Nile said. “We have a mission.”
Both Corana and Piani swiveled in their seats, preparing for action.
Sensing defeat, Nile sat back in her seat and slid the restraining arms into place so she didn’t get thrown around. “Just try not to get us blasted out of space.”
The good news was the scout vessel’s collision with the courier slowed it down and removed its top turret.
The bad news was Kaila would suffer a similar fate or worse if she collided with the courier.
Turned out the courier’s pilot was just as concerned. They dove under Kaila and her escort N-1 and avoided a collision. The Imperials continued their pursuit of the terrorists.
However, now that the E9 was in open space, it was only a matter of moments before it attempted a jump to lightspeed.
Finally clear of traffic, Kaila squeezed every ounce of speed from her ship. She closed to weapons range. Kaila switched on the starfighter’s targeting system.
Then the scout vessel took a breaking turn downward.
Kaila overshot her mark and was unable to compensate. The scout vessel cruised further away from her as she made her turn to pursue.
An ion bolt lit up the blackness of space.
Kaila looked out the side of her cockpit window and saw the E9 scout vessel take a hit. As she spun her starfighter around, Kaila traced the ion bolt back to the Legate-class courier she’d avoided earlier.
While lining her ship up on the scout vessel, Kaila slammed her hand on her comm button, opening a channel on the “all frequencies” band.
“This is Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kaila Ores to the Legate-class courier!” she said. “You are to immediately stand down!”
“Did I hear that right?” Piani called over the ship’s internal comm channel. She was down below in the ion turret.
Corana slyly turned to look at Nile, who sat in the seat diagonally behind her. The Jedi sat with her mouth gaping. She looked back at Corana, who joined her in her surprise.
“And you wanted to just land,” the Pantoran captain said. Nile motioned for Corana to continue her efforts.
Nile closed her eyes and reached out with the Force. “I sense her thoughts,” she said as if in a trance. “It is her.”
Corana watched a twisted smile form on the Jedi’s lips. “She’s not terribly happy with you, Corana, but secretly appreciates the help.”
Corana turned back to her console. “Then let’s see if some fancy flying and shooting convinces her to like us!”
Setting her sights on the scout vessel, Corana continued pursuit.
Down below, Piani fired another ion bolt at the vessel. The shot went wide.
Wanting a piece of the action, the two N-1 starfighters raced toward the courier ship and its prey. The lead Naboo starfighter (presumably Kaila’s) shot past the Bevryder, while the other took up a position to the ship’s port side.
Coming up on the scout vessel’s starboard side, Kaila fired her forward lasers. She scored a hit, with the ship listing from the impact.
“Thing’s got so much armor that’ll take all day,” Piani said from the ion turret.
“Let me get you in there so you can end this then,” Corana said.
She steered the courier closer to the fleeing scout vessel, pulling up so that its dorsal ion turret had a clear shot at the opposing ship. Piani fired again and scored another hit.
One of the two rear engines flickered before giving out completely. The ship slowed to the point the Bevryder shot past it. Corana looped the courier around.
Kaila strafed the scout vessel as she passed. The vessel turned down toward Naboo’s surface to avoid the bolts.
The other Naboo starfighter also took shots at the vessel, missing the mark but forcing the target back toward the planet.
“Agent Ores to the scout vessel,” Kaila said over the open frequency. “Your ship is damaged. You’ll never make it to lightspeed. Head back to the surface or be destroyed.”
“I can immobilize them with one more shot!” Piani said.
“Hold off,” Nile suggested. “We don’t want to be too helpful.”
Corana brought the Bevryder around for a visual on the E9 without losing a potential shot for Piani. She had to turn in her seat away from the bright ball of flame that burst from the E9.
The ship broke apart into scrap.
Kaila stumbled down the ladder deplaning her N-1 starfighter. A maintenance tech helped her maintain her footing. She snatched her arm away from the helpful man.
Her fists clenched, the ISB agent stormed from the Naboo naval starship landing pad and toward the pad housing the larger vessels.
She was specifically after the Bevryder and its crew.
The ISB trooper who had flown with her fell into step behind Kaila. Halfway to the lower level pad, another ISB trooper approached Kaila.
One look at her determined stride and the trooper avoided stopping her. I
“Is this the data on the Bevryder crew?” Kaila asked.
The new trooper answered in the affirmative. Kaila scanned the pad while maintaining her pace toward the courier. She glanced at the ship while descending a flight of stairs.
Six stormtroopers had positioned themselves where the Bevryder’s boarding ramp would drop.
The ship’s crew had yet to disembark. They’d better be off by the time she got there, or she’d have the stormtroopers burn the ship to the ground with them inside.
Kaila finished with the datapad and handed it back to the newer trooper. She didn’t wait for the man to take it; he fumbled with the pad before getting it under control.
As the trio approached the Bevryder, the ship’s boarding ramp descended.
Agent Ores took up a position at the foot of the ramp. Her ISB troopers flanked her, with the stormtroopers just behind them.
The stormtroopers were far enough to either side of the ISB agents to have a clear line of fire at whoever came down the ramp.
A Pantoran woman in an outfit better suited for a dive bar than piloting a starship stood at the top of the ramp. She wore a pleasant smile, with a healthy amount of maroon-colored hair falling about her shoulders.
A Twi’lek woman stood next to her. During Kaila’s time traveling the galaxy for the ISB, she’d met many a Twi’lek.
All were uniquely attractive (male or female), which led to many of them winding up as pleasure slaves on backwater planets against their will.
This Twi’lek had probably endured that fate for a time but had risen above to join this Pantoran woman as… whatever they were. Smugglers, lovers, partners.
Kaila glanced over her shoulder at her ISB escorts. Both men were trying to be subtle in ogling the two women descending the ramp. Kaila refused to think about what they thought about her.
The lead ISB agent cleared her throat to get their attention. The troopers resumed serious about their responsibilities. Kaila turned her attention back to the women.
The datapad had listed the Pantoran woman as “Anne Bonny,” freelance pilot. The Twi’lek was “Mary Read,” co-pilot and navigator.
Judging from how well the two worked their attack on the scout vessel, Kaila doubted either woman was what they seemed.
The Pantoran had the nerve to wave to Kaila as she and her partner descended the ramp.
“Hey there,” she said. “First of all, we were using ion blasts. That explosion up there was not our fault!”
“Your attacks didn’t help,” Kaila said. Her even tone caused Anne’s (if that was her real name) smile to melt into a frown. “I needed to question those suspects,” Kaila explained.
Now at the bottom of the ramp, the Pantoran shrugged and put on what she probably thought was a charming smile, coupled with an innocent shrug of her shoulders. “Sorry?”
Kaila practically snarled. “How does a simple cargo pilot learn to fly like that?” Looking to the Twi’lek, she added, “Or shoot like that?”
“Anne” put her hands on her hips. “I’ll take that as a compliment. See, I wasn’t always a simple cargo pilot.”
While the Pantoran babbled on with what was probably a lie, Kaila reached out with her special abilities. She was almost afraid to think about what she’d find listening to the thoughts of this cocky woman.
The pilot’s surface thoughts weren’t as depraved as Kaila had feared. They revealed the pilot’s fear that Kaila would see through the game she played. She also wondered when their other partner would enter the picture.
“Who else is on that ship?” Kaila asked, interrupting the pilot. The question drew startled looks from the Pantoran and the Twi’lek.
Kaila took a step toward them. “Either bring her down here right now or these stormtroopers will tear your ship apart!”
“That won’t be necessary, Agent Ores,” said a female voice from within the ship. She sounded older, her voice carrying a sense of wisdom.
Kaila looked up the ramp and saw a woman older than the Pantoran and the Twi’lek but remarkably well kept for her years. Her attire made her look only a few steps above a street beggar, but she carried herself with the controlled motion of someone who could handle themselves should violence erupt.
Instinctively, Kaila reached out to read this woman’s thoughts as well.
To her surprise, she heard silence. That silence grew to drown out the Pantoran’s prattling and threatened to silence Kaila’s own thoughts.
The ISB agent felt a hand on her shoulder. She quickly slapped the hand away, then looked to its owner. The Pantoran woman had attempted to console her.
Kaila then realized she’d unconsciously moved her hands to her temples, massaging them as if she could force the silence invading her mind to go away.
Then the newcomer’s voice, heard only in Kaila’s mind, pierced the silence.
“You and I must talk, Kaila Ores.”
To be continued…