In the final chapter of Mark Wooden’s fourth episode of Star Wars fanfiction, Rebels Corana and Piani speed to the rescue of their companion Jedi Nile Chinelo. Meanwhile, ISB Agent Kaila Ores reports to the Naboo queen and Grand Moff.
That good news always comes with bad news represents one of the many cosmic jokes haunting the galaxy. Or perhaps it’s the galaxy’s means of balancing Good and Evil.
Whatever the purpose, joke or balance, it now played upon Jedi Nile Chinelo.
It was good that
As an ISB agent, she was already in league with the Empire and potentially on the Dark path.
However, the Jedi believed no soul was beyond redemption. Kaila was still young; someone could show her the path to the Light. Nile didn’t think herself up to the task, but there was always someone.
The bad news was in order to meet Corana and Piani, Nile had to evade the blonde ISB commander and a team of four Imperial Security Bureau troopers.
That didn’t take into consideration the number of additional troopers who would soon swarm the scene.
The ISB commander couldn’t let the escapee she unwittingly walked out of ISB headquarters to escape. That never looked good on the resume.
The predominant architecture on Theed was ornate courtyards with broad fountains of crystal blue water surrounded by ancient buildings in a classical design.
It all went toward establishing the city’s regal stature. Those designs also afforded the Jedi a means of escape: up.
Rounding a corner moved Nile out of the line of sight of the commander and her troops. Using the Force, Nile leaped up a single story and to the balcony of one of the buildings. Once there, she ducked down out of sight.
The balcony’s railing was waist high, with small columns reaching up from the balcony floor to the rail itself. With the columns providing cover, Nile looked between them and down onto the street.
The commander and her troopers rounded the corner and were taken aback when they didn’t immediately see Nile. Hopefully, they wouldn’t think to look up.
Stormtroopers joined the scene. The commander had them begin clearing and blocking off the street. Even if Corana and Piani got here, could they get through? Would they survive the attempt?
“Hey!” a man’s voice said from behind
“Funny thing,” Nile began, “I didn’t think so either. Is this the museum?”
The trooper continued his cautious approach. “No. How’d you get up here?”
“Would you believe I jumped?”
The trooper stopped to contemplate. He was just out of melee range. If he were a fast draw, he could get off a shot before
Glancing back to the street, Nile saw the commander and one of her troopers still there. The others had moved off searching for her.
“Stand up now, real slow,” the trooper told Nile.
Her attention back to him, Nile held up a hand, palm out to the trooper. Drawing on the Force, she held the trooper in place. She saw the panic in his eyes as he failed to control his body.
“I need you still for only a few moments more,” Nile told the man, trying to sound sympathetic.
“Nile, you copy?”
That was Piani on Nile’s comlink. The Jedi had left it loud enough for her to hear while on the run. Now she pulled it out of her pocket and responded. “I’m here. There’s an ISB commander and some troopers after me.”
“We’d expect nothing less,” Piani said.
The ‘we’ part was good. This meant the two smugglers had managed to stick together.
“I’m near the ISB building, on a balcony a few blocks away,” Nile told Piani.
“We’re tracking your comm signal. Stay where you are.”
This confused Nile. She knew the ladies who traveled with her were tech-savvy but didn’t realize it extended to this level. “New trick?” she asked.
“This one’s not —”
The Jedi heard the Twi’lek scream in pain. “Piani?”
“Corana’s driving,” Piani explained. “Slammed my already broken leg. Gotta go. We’re almost there!”
Nile looked to the trooper. “Just a few moments more,” she assured him.
At least, that’s what she hoped. She also hoped the chilling sensation she felt was the cool Naboo breeze and not the call of the Force’s Dark Side.
Corana jerked the swoop’s steering controls hard to the right. Piani, now awake but fighting back the pain of a fractured leg, slammed hard into the section separating the passenger from the driver.
Corana moved the swoop around a slowing hover transport and into oncoming traffic. Another turn put them on the walkway next to the street. Naboo locals dove out of the oncoming swoop’s path.
The smuggler pilot looked to the dashboard in front of her.
Agent Ores’ datapad displayed a map of Theed. A yellow diamond represented Corana and Piani’s position. A red square represented
To meet up, the Rebels had to get back across the street and down the upcoming perpendicular street.
The Pantoran pilot jerked the steering controls to take them back through two lanes of traffic. Piani held on for dear life as the swoop cruised down the perpendicular street.
Through gritted teeth, she muttered, “This is doing wonders for my broken leg!”
“How’s Nile doing?” Corana asked.
Piani snapped back, “Thanks for your concern!”
Corana spared a glance at Piani. “Well, I know you’re in pain!” Turning back to her driving, she asked, “How’s Nile?”
Piani worked at situating herself in her seat to favor her injured leg. “She seems safe, but the ISB is on her trail.”
“Didn’t think she’d just walk out.”
Corana made another sharp turn. This one didn’t go as neatly. She clipped the front of an oncoming speeder bike. Corana quickly adjusted and set them back on course.
Piani looked at the datapad while using her good leg and a free hand to hold herself in place. “We’re almost there, Nile!” she said into her commlink.
“Tell her to be ready to move!” Corana said. “And you be ready with that ISB agent’s blaster!”
The Twi’lek took the chance of letting her free hand go so she could draw the holdout blaster they’d liberated from Kaila. “Nice of her to give this up,” Piani said.
“Don’t think she wanted to,” Corona replied. She swerved the swoop around another corner, barely dodging an incoming repulsorlift truck.
According to the datapad, Nile was on the building just ahead to the right.
Unfortunately, that commander and an ISB trooper were right in front of it and Nile was nowhere in sight.
Nile looked down the street and saw a swoop driving erratically in her direction as it weaved through the light speeder traffic. It’d already taken several hits, denting its chassis. This had to be Piani and Corana.
The stormtroopers marshaling the crowds saw the swoop too. Luckily, the crowds blocked their ability to get off clean shots. So much for Imperial efficiency.
The crowd and stormtroopers alike wisely moved out of the swoop’s path. Corana turned the swoop down the street cleared by the stormtroopers.
The commander and her trooper, still positioned in front of Nile’s building, also saw the incoming swoop. They raised their blasters to fire.
Drawing the Force away from the trooper on the balcony and back to her, Nile leaped from the balcony and landed behind the Imperial agents. As they were occupied firing at Nile’s allies, they missed the miraculous event.
Piani blasted the trooper, taking him out.
To Nile’s surprise, the woman ducked the blow. Without hesitating, the Imperial agent brought her blaster around on
A second shot from Piani struck the commander. She stumbled to a knee.
Blaster fire came from behind the swoop, scorching part of its rear. The stormtroopers had repositioned. One bolt hit so close to Piani the Twi’lek jumped back. In her effort to avoid taking fire, she lost the holdout blaster.
Corana made a quick stop near Nile. “Need a lift?” she yelled to Nile.
The Jedi leaped into the swoop’s passenger seat next to Piani as blaster bolts flew over their heads. “You may need the Force to hold us in place,” Piani said, “especially the way Corana drives!”
In answer to the Twi’lek’s gibe, Corana slammed the swoop into gear. Both Piani and Nile were pressed hard into the back of the seat. Piani gasped as her injured leg took a hit.
As blaster bolts whizzed by their heads, Nile glanced back and saw the ISB commander getting to her feet.
She did not look pleased.
In the Naboo throne room, Kaila stood before Queen Dalné and Grand Moff Tretyro. The magistrates had gathered behind their queen, all suspicious of the Imperials running amok in their city.
The ISB agent assumed the Rebel activity didn’t ease their angst.
“It appears you’ve confirmed the Rebel threat on my planet, Agent Ores,” the queen said in her noble monotone. “The question now is what to do about it.”
Commander Rundsor stood in her position behind and to the side of Kaila. She’d encountered the Rebels, but they had eluded her, fleeing the city for the jungles beyond. “I respectfully request sending a squad of stormtroopers into the swamps after —”
“The forests and swamps of Naboo are off limits,” the queen said, her tone signaling she would not address the request further.
“With no supplies, the Rebels will surely fall prey to the creatures of the swamp or natural fatigue.”
Noticing the scowl on Tretyro’s face, the queen added, “However, if the Empire wishes to post troops at the outskirts of the swamp to prevent the Rebels attempting to return to Theed, that is acceptable.”
Tretyro leaned forward in his chair. “You do not dictate to the Empire what is and is not acceptable, Dalné.”
“I will dictate that it is unacceptable this Rebel threat was allowed to fester on Naboo,” Dalné said in reply. “Whether it is new or lingers from a year ago.”
“Commander Rundsor was following up with Agent Mirko,” Kaila said.
As anticipated, all eyes turned to Rundsor. “We’ve been informed that Agent Mirko is dead, killed on an undercover assignment.”
“How terribly convenient,” the queen said.
“I don’t appreciate your tone,” Tretyro said.
The queen turned in her throne to face him. “I do not appreciate the violence in my streets. Nor do I appreciate your commander walking a prisoner out of ISB headquarters.”
Her head bowed, Kaila was relatively sure no one saw the smile she gave at Rundsor’s public dressing down. She stole a glance at Tretyro. If stares were daggers, Naboo would need a new ISB commander.
Addressing the room once more, the queen continued. “Worse than that, Agent Ores brings to light an important point.”
Kaila looked back at Queen Dalné, being sure to remove her smile.
“If the Rebels encountered today are the first to the planet,” the queen said, “there is the potential of grave abuse of power regarding the execution of Agent Ores’s father so many years ago.
“As this is a conflict of interest for the Empire, I insist that Agent Ores continue her investigation into the Rebel threat but report to Magistrate Aadhar.”
One of the magistrates, an older man with golden, sleek hair graying at the temples and a lean frame under his robes of service, stepped forward. Kaila assumed him as Aadhar.
“With respect,” Tretyro began, though everyone in the room knew he had no respect for the Naboo throne. The queen raised a hand to silence him.
“I despise the violence in my streets, but I despise abuse of power more.” Looking at Kaila, the queen said, “Report to the magistrate what you uncover. If the Empire unjustly condemned your father, I shall bring the call for justice to the Emperor myself.”
Tretyro rose from his chair. “You dare set your position as queen of a planet above a Grand Moff of a system?”
“I set justice above all, Moff Tretyro. I suspect the emperor would agree.”
Mention of the emperor curbed Tretyro’s anger. Kaila smiled to herself.
Corana brought the swoop to a stop. Nile squeezed out of the passenger seat and splashed into the swamp’s soggy green earth. Piani, her teeth grinding to distract from the pain in her leg, remained in the vehicle.
Picking up the datapad, Corana read the coordinates displayed on its screen. “This is where that Agent Ores told us to go,” she said, adding “Lovely spot” with more than a touch of sarcasm.
“And she truly wants to work with us?” Nile asked.
Corana shrugged. “If you ask me, that agent’s already halfway to evil and all the way to pain in my ass. I don’t think she’s worth the trouble.”
“She could have killed you both but restrained,” Nile said while taking in the surroundings. “Either there is a chance she could work with us, or —”
Sensing something, Nile immediately stopped talking. She reached out with the Force for more information.
“What is it?” Piani asked Nile.
Nile didn’t answer. She didn’t have to.
The eight stormtroopers emerging from the brush were answer enough.
To be continued in Episode Five!
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