Chapter 11: Under Shroud

The surface of Ord Mantell was like many other planets, green in some areas, dry in some others and wet in the rest. The capital city conveniently named Ord Mantell City was a location of a New Republic Embassy.

Haven changed out of most of his pilot's suit Roland, put on his jacket and exited the hanger where his Starfighter now waited for his return. The streets outside the starport were crowded with speeders and beings, most of them Humans, Bith and Falleen. The embassy was only a few blocks away but Roland moved at a quick pace to hopefully not be noticed by anyone with a keen enough eye to notice that the jumpsuit under his jacket or maybe even his boots were Imperial. His attire being black with a few red lines might be enough of a giveaway already.

Before he left Ithor Roland connected his ship to the local holonet grid and checked a hunch he got. The two dead scum had bounties on them. The New Republic Embassy on Ord Mantell was offering thirty-five-thousand for the dealer and five-thousand more for the smuggler. "Will wonders never cease?" Roland collected DNA samples and then returned to his TIE Defender and left for home.

The embassy was unimpressive, just a New Republic holo-crest flickered above a cramped doorway along a long row of other doorways. He approached the door and keyed the com.
"Can I help you, sir?" The poor man sounded bored.

"Looking to collect on a pair of bounties."

"Are you a registered member of the Bounty Hunters Guild?"


"Are you a registered citizen of the Republic?"

"I am." Roland reached into his jacket and pulled out his datapad and tapped the top of it against the scanner above the door controls.

"Excellent…" Roland recognized that pause. The man behind the door just read the highlighted text 'Ex-Imperial' "...Roland Ward. Come on in."

The door slid left into the wall, a rush of cold air came over Roland as he entered. He took in a deep breath of the filtered oxygen. The man was sitting behind his desk, Roland knew not to move. There are more protocols for business with someone with the ex-Imperial tag.

A female Republic trooper stepped out from the door behind the desk, a heavy blaster pistol was on her right hip and she carried a scanner in her right hand. "Place your datapad on the desk please." The man asked of Roland while trying not to sound intimidating.

Moving slowly Roland, placed the datapad over top of the scanner inside the desk. The trooper took another step towards Roland and looked him over with her held device. After a few moments, the trooper took a step back and gave a nod to the man. "Thank you, Roland, you may take your datapad back."

Doing what he was told Roland, slowly placed his datapad back into his jacket pocket. The man behind the desk keyed away at a few screens and gave a few quick glances at Roland. "Gurd and Ragnar, the DNA matches and both read as deceased. The Republic appreciates your assistance with bringing these criminals to justice." The man looked back at his screens for a long moment before bringing his attention back to Roland. "There is a Republic tax on non registered bounty collectors as well as the imperial duty tax will be applying here. Furthermore the embassy services tax."

Roland narrowed his eyes at the man. The last one was a lie. Still, Roland knew better than to fight it. They would only add more fees. "Your total deduction is weighted at twenty-five percent." The man couldn't help it, a small smile showed on his cheeks. "The funds are transferred into your account, good day loyal citizen of the Republic."

Roland turned around slowly and made his way back outside. Once the door had closed behind him he checked how much they had given him. Thirty-thousand, yup they took ten away from him. Still, Roland knew it was enough for what he needed. He did a quick glance over his left shoulder, followed quickly with a glance over his right. He realized that he had been sweating and that he had been looking for Republic troopers. Roland shook his head. They don't have dirt on him, what could the Republic dogs ever want with him? He laughed at himself as he then began making his way back to his lovers waiting for him in the starport.

After closing and sealing the hatch above him Roland redressed himself in the armour that made up his pilot's suit. He pulled his helmet over his head then toggled the sealer on his life support unit over his chest. He took in a deep breath of the cold and clean oxygen. He felt his Master wrap her arms around from behind him. Aa her hands pressed against the skin of his chest She whispered to him; "The Republic worms are coming for you."

Kicking in his training instincts, he began powering up his Defender. Engines online, sensors online, weapons online. Roland brought his Defender to a hover as if on cue the ten meters wide and tall blast door split down the middle and receded into the walls. A full platoon of Republic Troopers flooded in, rifles and ordnance levelled toward the Imperial combat superiority starfighter. "Stop that ship! Blast it!"

Roland was already squeezing the triggers, a stream of intense green bolts unleashed from the Defender's six heavy blaster cannons. Burts of green explosions engulfed the troopers in dirt and death. Shots from the trooper's rifles began pinging into the starfighter's shields. The last bolt left its cannon as a rocket from a Republic trooper's launcher collided against the shield taking them down. Triggering his engines, the Defender ascended into the sky above racing for the cover of the clouds.

The Defender's shields began to regain their strength as the starfighter burst through the heavy layer of clouds. Roland held a steady course and continued to push towards the stars above. Breathing heavily he felt Adarasina's lips lay a kiss against his right cheek. The sensors pinged four signals, New Republic X-Wings began racing toward him.

Cutting right the Defender brought the heavy cannons around to take the approaching X-Wings head-on. "Four seconds till range," Roland whispered. He reached for the toggle on the right and set his shields to double front. The targeting telemetries lined up with Roland's line of fire, he squeezed his triggers. A long burst of six violent bolts flew across the sky scoring five hits on the third X-Wing in the formation, bursting the two left engines that sent it spiralling widely towards the plant's surface. A trail of red bolts from two of the remaining X-Wings splashed across the Defender, draining the shields nearly to nothing. Roland recognized the feigning flank from the lead X-Wing. They were throwing standard flight tactics at him. "The fools."

He rolled the Defender to the left to catch the tailing X-Wing as it began to dive. Twisting the TIE around as Roland pulled up to level his cannons on his next victim. The whaling of the ion engines as they strained to complete the maneuvers was intensely euphoric to Roland's ears. It had been so long since he heard such beautiful notes.

Triggering the next salvo of emerald plasma Roland was forced to cut it short to initiate a climb to the left as a tango lined up Roland in their sights. It was a bad call as the lead X-Wing was now charging straight at him. A burst of red fire had already left the X-Wings cannons. Roland held his breath as he returned fire, the Defender had only enough charge to unleash four of her own bolts. The red shots scored his Defender breaking the shields and scoring damage on his head wing. The X-Wing absorbed most of the damage but one of the bolts scored the upper right cannon. The damage was minimal against the Defender but Roland knew another hit like that might break her.

Roland violently exhaled and did a quick glance over his readouts. Shields were down, blasters were recharging, he still had eighty-two percent of hull integrity. He felt a cold sensation come up his spine as sweat began to coat his flesh. "Trust your feelings, use your anger." Adarasina's voice was arousing him as he shivered. He narrowed his brows and cut his engines. As his Defender began to roll and fall to the magnetic pull of the planet his viewport drifted toward the lead X-Wing again, he had three shots of charge, Roland unleashed them at the underside of the Republic scum. All three bolts scored and the target burst in a tight yellow and orange inferno.

He pushed his throttle forward again into a loose right turn. "Only two more," Roland told himself as he followed the targeting telemetries on his heads-up-display to bring one into his sights. As one X-Wing pushed itself to tail the Defender their wingman was maneuvering to keep out of the Defender's sights as best it could.

Roland felt Adarasina run her hands down the flesh of his chest, his heart skipped a beat as he felt her breasts press against his back. His own senses began to expand, he could see his enemies' ships, feel their strain and their hatred for himself. At that moment he knew what he had to do.

Roland let out a vicious scream as he cut his Defender into a tight left turn to engage the X-Wing maneuvering to tail him. Roland knew the scum had lowered power to their ship's shields, it couldn't withstand a barrage of blaster fire. The targeting aligned with the course of the oncoming X-Wing as Roland let loose with another stream of green hot plasma. The bolts smashed against the X-Wing's hull bursting the cockpit, severing both right-side wings, followed quickly by the remaining ship bursting into a fireball that then began spiralling toward the surface below.

The Imperial craft remained in its turn to bring itself back around to move against the only remaining New Republic starfighter. Roland could feel his enemy's fear as he watched space quickly warp around the X-Wing and in less than a moment it launched out into hyperspace. "No!" Yelled Roland, as he smashed the bottom of his right fist against the wall.

"The war isn't over Roland, there will be more battles." Adarasina's voice echoed calmly in his mind. "Return to your home, there is something you must learn."

"Yes, Master." Roland brought his Defender around and pushed the throttle and raced towards the station above. The Defender burned through the atmosphere as the starfighter rose Roland felt Adarasina release him from her grasp and with her, she took the augmented focus and sense.

Once the Defender was in visual range on its approach to Malleus station Roland, opened the com channel to Danis Marr. "Defender One to Ensign Marr, do you read me? Over." There was no response. Roland's sense of growing comfort as he approached his home was instantly replaced with panic.

As the repurposed Imperial hanger came into focus Roland's eyes befell the horror. The hanger bay was destroyed. Burned out by a battle and spaced. Tools and material floated silently through space around him. Roland toggled on the hull-mounted searchlights and began scouring the debris field. It didn't take long before he found what he was looking for. There are only so many bodies to look through. Danis Marr's body floated silently in front of Roland. Marr's skin crystallized in fine ice, holes in his uniform from blaster burns numbered his body. The lifeless eyes of his best friend burned through Roland. The Rebels took another one from him, another friend but he still had one left. It was just him and his master now. Roland couldn't wipe the cold tears running down his face underneath his helmet. So he just sat and stared. His anger brewing inside him. His hatred. The Republic will pay for his pain a thousand times over.

< Prev : It’s complicated Next > : A Target with Connections