Episode I.vii (Drones)

Red bolts cut through the room, saturating it with superheated plasma just above the many desks and control terminals that filled it. The burst of fire ended as quickly as it started, which was Veye's cue to emerge, bracing herself against the back of a terminal as she returned fire. The silhouette imitated those of battle droids, whose image she’d become at least slightly familiar with during her upbringing, but these were all wrong. They looked tormented, twisted cruelly from the streamlined and lightweight ideal that droids so favored.

Disks filled with crimson glowing bars ringed in subdued red angled this way and that as they zeroed her burst and retaliated in kind. They began chortling among themselves in an alien tongue which was further filtered by the robotic static.

As metal clanks signaled their movement, she started hers, keeping her head low and blaster ready. The first walking lane she beat them to, moving on to peek the second where she dropped a pair of bolts into a surprised drone. Before its team could engage, she had slipped around the corner and was on to the last lane, where she caught the next expecting her to pop up from her cover rather than peeking low. Both it and the drone behind it crashed to the metal floor with a clang.

The drones must have finally caught on to her, quickly moving down the room aimed in her direction. She activated her deflector shield, bolts either ricocheting away at random or just evaporating on impact. A back kick proved enough to open the door, which she quickly sank through and shut on her assailants. Black splotches began to form as blaster fire began to melt through.

She turned her shield off and dragged herself up the ladder, punching the hatch door open. She stayed prone on the roof and shut the door behind her, not that she expected the drones to follow her up. The ships they came in would fill in for that, and she didn’t want to be here when they loaded back up.

Rolling being faster than crawling, she wove her way to the far end of the building, the direction the Imperial droid had told her to go, peeking at the edge with her thermal. The drones had moved inside, and the ships were staged elsewhere. She’d have to jump, and then she’d have to run like hell.

As the clanking drones piled out, she dropped from the roof and tumbled to break away without injury. Bolts of red lit up the road, Veye adopting a dead sprint. One round caught her on the shoulder blade, the impact throwing her forward, the heat singing her lekku. She rolled, fell prone, scrambled to her feet and resumed sprinting. Another bolt caught her opposite shoulder, and decimated the durasteel plate that protected it.

Behind her, the ships started back up and began to ascend, spotlights chasing after her.

The blaster fire tapered off, then started back up again. She activated her shield and rotated between blocking her left, and then her right, and then her head, before starting over again out of order. It was slowing her down, and the blaster fire was becoming more heated. She unslung her own and returned, her shots going wide and only blackening the outer hulls,. It was hardly accurate enough to even suppress the onslaught.

She caught another bolt, this one grazing the already defeated shoulder, and now her gun arm was done. It and the blaster went limp, and it was all she could do to surge forward, throwing herself into the next intersection where barriers had been moved. She curled up behind her shield, which flickered dangerously on failure as the ships circled around. Blaster fire raked the defensive circle.

Brilliant red streaked up from the dark, and struck the far side of the gunships. A massive explosion rocked the drone ship as it peeled away, its partner veering around only to catch and fusillade of blaster fire, forcing it to ascend.

Veye didn’t ask, she frankly didn’t care. She dropped the shield and broke from the circle, switching to thermal to locate her rescuers. Nearly twenty heat signatures of human silhouette were spread out across an opening in the far wall she could finally register, firing aggressively away at the gunships. She dropped back into dead sprint, and threw herself through the line of people, using her off hand to bring her own blaster to bear against the ships.

“Xi! Get us moving!” one yelled out. Veye switched off from thermal and recognized the gray officer’s uniform of the Order.

“Aye ma'am!”

She kept herself focused on firing under the doors closed, and with a shudder, the lift began to rise. All those around her were men and woman in dust covered and scratched worn white armor of First Order Stormtroopers.

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