(( Related: The following is on my SWTOR Smuggler, Jacqueline “Jackie” Rees, her estranged daughter Vanessa, and my Agent, Tevaria. ))
Aboard a Lambda-class shuttle destined for the Shadowstar, Tevaria received two priority messages at once. The fevered beeps of the console was her first alarm. The second was two piercing lasers lancing at her ship from the Shadowstar.
The targeting warning system screamed, indicating the enemy locked on target. Yanking roughly on the yoke, she rotated the ship into an evasive starboard spin. The console warnings silenced, then screamed, then silenced again as she attempted to juke, weave out her enemy’s targeting brackets. In the blackness of space, there were few places to hide. Hardly a renown pilot, she was just quick enough to calibrate her shields to the aft end of the ship and burn the engines. More green lasers stabbed the space behind her shuttle.
Tersely, she hailed the Dreadnaught: “Shadowstar, Agent Tevaria. Clearance codes to land are being transmitted. I am under attack. Repeat: I am under attack.”
No response came over the comms. Only the priority message blinking light blinked at her between console warning screams. Chancing a look at her radar, a single blip raced towards her. Its size indicated that it was a short-ranged, one-man fighter. Who’s was it? Aside from the Shadowstar and Valor-class capital ships, who else in this sector could deploy a fighter? Did it launch from the planet itself?
Finally, the comm crackled to life, its frequency from the Shadowstar: “Confirmed, Agent Tevaria. Our fighter has orders to kill. The esteemed Lord Brembal has declared you have gone rogue against the Empire. Surrender presently to face charges or you will be shot down.”
Narrowing her eyes, the agent evaluated her options. She was’t nearly a good enough pilot nor flying an equatable fighter to whatever pursued her. Lambda-class shuttles were for transport, not dogfighting. The Valor-class cruiser, likely her closest point of safety, was too far for an escape. Landing planetside put her back at risk of being shot until her heat shields were damaged and the shuttle burned on entry. Multiple possibilities raced through her mind, few showing promise. Again the console screamed, cutting off her thoughts, warning of the oncoming fighter attempting another target lock. Either it intended to fire or was simply keeping on the pressure. Tevaria didn’t want to waste the time measuring the more likely possibility. Inhaling slowly and garnering her own focus, she weaved the shuttle and keyed the navcomputer.
“Be advised, Shadowstar. I am under attack and having comm difficulties from the opening shot. Repeat your message,” it was a blatant stalling tactic. Finishing inputting commands into the computer, her eyes watched as numbers ticked down on the holo display.
“We confirm no hit on your shuttle, Agent. You have your orders. Surrender or face a traitor’s end for turning on the Empire.”
Tevaria watched as the numbers ticked down. She didn’t reply.
“Acknowledge and surrender, or perish, Agent. Our fighter has orders to kill.”
The console screamed another target warning. This time, Tevaria didn’t juke the shuttle. She kept it steady on its course, engines hummed in preparation.
“Fighter, Agent Tevaria has officially gone rogue. You have orders to fire.”
The fighter clicked his comm in confirmation, targeted, and fired.
The numbers ticked down to zero.
“For the Empire,” Tevaria murmured, punching the console and leaping into hyperspace.
Corellian streets were an odd dichotomy: Metropolitan bliss coupled with battle’s ruins. Storefronts crowned with still-lit neon signs sagged with their innards spilling through broken windows. Vehicles usually reserved for high-end society lay sideways and abandoned in the streets. Bypassing it all, Jacqueline passed down debris-filled alleys with a hand ready on one blaster. Recognizing one avenue, she turned sharply and ducked inside a half-open door.
Much like the streets surrounding it, the cantina was also partway toward disaster. Half of it was entirely unusable, the wall collapsed completely, the other end with untouched tables and chairs waiting customers. Unsavory folk occupied them, only a handful paying the captain any mind. They looked as rough and unimpressed by the state of the streets as she was; ruffians comfortable in the shadow of blown-out alleys and refuse.
Finding her mark, Jacqueline crossed the room, grabbed him roughly by the collar and yanked him right out of his chair. He came easily, only with a startled, drunken yelp in protest. Hardly expecting the assault, his second-best defense was an ineffective flail of his arms. One hook across the chin and that silenced both his mouth and attempts to hit back.
“Talk Drago,” Jacqueline growled. “There’s a new Sith in town. Probably got fancy guards, hiding out somewhere quiet. Probably someplace fancy because he’s the type.”
The man, alleged Drago, gaped. “You’re… you’re supposed to be dead!” His accent was Imperial but clearly from the Empire’s lower dregs, and made no clearer by inebriation. His eyes bulged, almost comically so, clearly convinced he was being accosted by a ghost.
“I’m back. And free to roam, actually. And pissed off to hell and back. So fucking talk, Drago. I don’t have time for stories,” Jacqueline grabbed his neck, pressuring the man’s windpipe.
“I don’t know nothin’!” He gasped. “I don’t got no more ears listenin’ anymore.”
“Bull,” snagging the front of his coat, Jacqueline pushed him against the wall. Drago gulped, raised his hands up in defense. The other patrons of the cantina took notice but other than semi-interested glances, none rose in protest. Perhaps the most stirring reaction was to sip their luke-warm drinks slightly quicker, watching the exchange as one would a mildly eventful show.
“You’d never drop the business, Drago. And there’s no way in hell you paid off your debt already,” Jacqueline growled. “Look at my face. You really want to bullshit me right now? Talk,” she pinned him against the wall with her forearm, the other hand loosening the holster hold on a blaster.
“Stop! Yes! I ‘eard of one. Kybersmith, one of the rich ones! Don’t know ‘ow long ‘e’ll be in town an’ only got rumors, but… the credits started followin’ the moment he came in,” the man squeaked, nodding, desperate and eyes shifting between Jacqueline’s face and her blaster.
“Good,” the captain said approvingly, letting her blaster hand just barely pause removing the weapon from its holster. But she kept it there, a looming threat. Her voice growled: “Spill it. Where is he?”
“Damn it all, Veera. How’d you get more scary — “
At the sound of the name, Jacqueline loosened her blaster from its holster, took aim at the man’s foot, and fired. He yelped in pain, writhing against her forearm, but leaning her weight and muscle against him, she kept the smaller man successfully pinned against the wall. The cantina patrons watched with increased interest but did not deign to intervene. One ordered another drink.
“Shut the hell up about me,” Jacqueline snarled slowly, menacingly, jamming the muzzle of her blaster against the man’s thigh. “And spill. Now.”
Tucked warmly into bed, Vanessa waited till she heard no more sounds outside the bedroom door before moving. Her little feet padding across the sandstone floor, she retrieved three light cubes from a satchel of toys brought from the Shadowstar along with her bed. Placing them on the floor, she sat cross-legged and concentrated. One by one, each cube soundlessly floated from the floor and spun. As they rotated, warm light emanated from them, filling the room with a gentle glow.
The girl smiled then furrowed her brow, deepening her concentration. She closed her eyes and slowly the cubes lowered to the floor. Trying something new, unsure what would happen, her young mind reached for the earlier warmth and affection that touched her, enveloped her when Brembal spoke to her through the Force. Biting on her lower lip, trying to remember the feelings of that moment, trying to recreate them on her own, she sent three words somewhere into the galaxy:
Come home, Daddy.