Continuing Mark Wooden’s Star Wars fanfiction, stormtroopers ambush Rebels Nile, Corana and Piani in the Naboo swamp.
Meanwhile, ISB agent Kaila Ores begins her investigation with Magistrate Aadhar into the Rebel presence on Naboo.
Want to read from the beginning? Go to Episode 1.1 here!
Though eighteen years had passed since the Clone Wars, the people of Naboo still remembered the Jedi, specifically how two Jedi Knights had helped Queen Amidala secure Gungan support in the battle against the Trade Federation.
With a heavy Imperial presence on the planet, Nile Chinelo reasoned that a single chance viewing of a lightsaber would draw unwanted attention.
At the end of the Clone Wars, Emperor Palpatine had seen to it that the Jedi were no longer saviors but wanted fugitives.
Nile chose to leave her weapon behind on her ship as she pursued Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kaila Ores. She reconsidered that decision as she stood in the Naboo swamp surrounded by eight Imperial stormtroopers.
Corana and Piani were also without weapons. After unofficially assisting Agent Ores with some terrorists in the space above Naboo, the agent had allowed Corana and Piani off their ship under the stipulation their weapons remained behind.
All the three women had was the battered swoop they’d rode in on. Nile and Corana were already off the vehicle. Piani, her lower leg broken during her escape, remained inside. They weren’t going to escape in this condition.
Not in one piece, anyway.
“I told you that girl Ores was bad news, potential Jedi or no,” Corana said.
“She helped us get Nile back,” Piani replied.
“I should have blasted her and we could have done it ourselves.”
Nile chimed in with, “We’re past that now. Can we focus?”
Corana grunted and turned her attention back to the stormtroopers. They stood in a circle surrounding the Pantoran and her allies.
Looking them up and down, Corana said, “You guys sure are good at the skulking thing. Especially for regular stormtroopers and not the ones trained for swamps environs.”
The smuggler often used her wits to buy herself some
In this instance, she gave her allies a vital clue. Knowing the Rebels had gone into the swamp, the Imperials would send the appropriate style of trooper after them.
The Pantoran smuggler continued.
“I was wondering. Do you all get the same training at the Academy? Because I’ve never seen stormtroopers dumb enough to do the circular firing squad thing.”
The stormtroopers remained silent. Nile found this odd, for stormtroopers loved barking orders at opponents.
The tension increased.
A stormtrooper broke rank and approached another trooper, whispering something to them. The three Rebels exchanged glances.
They all wondered why stormtroopers with comm units in their helmets had to whisper to one another.
That is, if they were stormtroopers at all.
“Kaila Ores sent us to this rendezvous,” Nile said.
“And you’re going to die here if you don’t come with us right now,” the stormtrooper who had listened said, his voice unaltered by his helmet’s external speaker.
In the next second, they learned the helmet wasn’t a “helmet” at all.
All of the stormtroopers shimmered. They were holographic images that flickered out revealing eight Gungan underneath. The blasters, though different than ones brandished by Imperials, weren’t an illusion.
Thankfully, the Gungan lowered them.
The Gungan who had spoken approached Nile. “Next time you might wanna lead with Kaila’s name. Save us some time.” He extended a three-fingered hand. Nile shook it.
“Name’s Ush Bethor,” the Gungan said. “We’ll get to other pleasantries later. We have to move.”
“What’s the rush?” Corana asked.
Bethor sneered at the smuggler. “You can stick around if you want.”
The Gungan signaled to his men. They formed up on him as he moved further into the swamp. “I just hope you like working for free!”
Nile looked at her companions. Corana shrugged.
“Best get going then,” Piani said.
“What? Follow a bunch of Gungan who won’t explain themselves deeper into the swamp because an Imperial Security Bureau agent said so?” Corana asked.
“Better to follow them than wait to see what they’re afraid of,” Nile said.
Corana looked at Nile incredulously. Piani, still hurting from the fractured bone in her lower leg, hobbled out of their battered swoop.
“Nile has a point,” the Twi’lek said.
The Pantoran shrugged. She moved next to Piani so the Twi’lek could throw an arm over her shoulder. Helping her friend, Corana and Nile followed the Gungan.
Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kaila Ores met Magistrate Aadhar in his office within the Naboo palace. She would have preferred the meeting take place at her temporary office at ISB headquarters, but this investigation was now under Naboo jurisdiction.
Hence, the meeting here.
Aadhar sat behind a crescent-shaped desk. He rose as Kaila approached, a slow movement given his older years. Yet the man maintained a golden color to his hair, though it grayed at the temples. His frame was lean, though not yet brittle from age.
“Agent Ores,” he said. “I wish we could meet under more positive circumstances.”
Kaila wasted no time with pleasantries. “You have data you wish me to see?”
Aadhar’s brow furrowed but he still nodded. The magistrate motioned for Kaila to take a seat opposite him. As she did, he turned a monitor on his desk making it visible to her and took his seat.
“When the Empire formed,” Aadhar began, “It decommissioned the majority of Naboo’s security forces, leaving a skeleton force strictly to protect the queen and her magistrates.
“However, then Queen Apailana and Dalné after her wisely allowed this force to maintain surveillance on Naboo activity.”
Kaila’s breath caught for a moment. “They’re spying on the Empire.”
Aadhar looked away from Kaila. They both knew that information would further fuel Grand Moff Tretyro’s rage against the upstart Queen Dalné.
It could also give him the leverage he needed to force the emperor’s hand in removing Naboo royalty and placing the planet firmly in the Empire’s grasp.
Firmly under Tretyro’s solitary control.
He’d be untouchable in the system. Kaila’s revenge would become that much more difficult.
She also reasoned Aadhar wouldn’t reveal a delicate secret without having a form of protection to deflect any adverse reactions. She watched him pull up more data on his monitor.
“During the pursuit of the Rebels who had recently landed on the planet, our men discovered a number of communiques to Imperial troops,” Aadhar said.
“Standard protocol for coordinating pursuit,” Kaila replied, unimpressed with wherever Aadhar was going.
“Yes, but most of the communiques sent stormtroopers to locations where the Rebels either had already been or were still at. There was no coordination that would ultimately corner and captured them.”
Kaila processed that information. Aadhar filled in the blank by saying, “It’s almost as if the Empire didn’t want the Rebels captured.”
The ISB agent flashed a suspicious glance at the magistrate. “Who gave the commands?” she asked.
Aadhar hesitated a moment longer than Kaila would have liked before admitting, “You.”
Kaila’s anger flared. “Do you think I’m that incompetent?”
“With respect,” Aadhar began, mustering a submissive tone, “the Rebels did escape.”
“They escaped Commander Rundsor!”
Aadhar raised his hands in surrender. “The data suggests you sent the commands, but our slicers also determined the data was altered. Specifically, the issuer of the commands was altered.”
Kaila snarled. “You would accuse me knowing I may be innocent?”
“This incident has many layers, Agent Ores,” Aadhar said. “I wish to unravel them slowly as to not miss anything.”
Kaila sat back in her chair. She sized up Aadhar. “Make me a copy of the data. I’ll analyze it myself using ISB protocols.” Kaila paused in thought. She looked back at Aadhar.
“Queen Apailana was executed for harboring Jedi,” Kaila said.
“Assassinated, yes,” Aadhar corrected, not hiding his disdain for the Empire’s cover story.
Kaila waved his objection away. “My point is it would not surprise me if Apailana’s security service had data on then ISB Agent Tretyro’s supposed Rebel presence on Naboo.”
Aadhar slowly realized where Kaila was leading.
Before he could reply, the doors to his office opened. He and Kaila looked in that direction. Commander Rundsor and a team of stormtroopers entered.
“What is the meaning of —” Aadhar began, but Rundsor waved him off.
“Magistrate Aadhar,” Rundsor began with an authoritative air, “you are under arrest as an agent of the Rebel Alliance!”
Bethor and his Gungan team lead Nile, Corana and Piani through dense thickets of trees and muck. Corana and Piani lagged behind due to Piani’s injury. Bethor had two Gungan help Piani, greatly increasing their speed.
They soon emerged from the line of trees near a lake. The Gungan continued toward the water.
Corana stopped at the water’s edge. “Hold up! Just where in the hell are you taking us?”
As his men passed him, Bethor turned to Corana. “Your ally needs medical attention and these parts aren’t safe for what you humans call chit chat!”
“Not safe from what?” Corana asked.
A blaster bolt answered her question. One of the Gungan went down. More blaster bolts shot from the trees on the opposite side of the lake.
A Gungan supporting Piani went down, dragging the Twi’lek and the other Gungan with her into the shallow lake water.
Nile ran to Corana’s side. “You had to ask,” the Jedi said.
To be continued…