A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
War has disrupted even the furthest reaches of the galaxy. As more and more planets fall under the control of THE SEPARATIST CONFEDERACY, more and more refugees flee their homeworlds in search of a peaceful life, or gainful opportunities.
As the GRAND CLONE ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC scramble to fight this threat, their influence is stretched thin. Only at the furthest reaches of the galaxy can the war be avoided.
Or at least, that is what the group of travelers aboard THE HARROWING GALE believe, as they make their way to VELABRI, a planet on the furthest reaches of wild space, barely even a part of the galaxy itself.
With the galaxy warped into the folds of hyperspace behind them, they believe their troubles behind them, when an their trip is suddenly interrupted…
The Harrowing Gale was not an impressive ship by any description, save for the fact that it actually made it of the ground. It was a junker, a scrap heap, and quite probably a death trap. This didn’t make Hirani Laroon any less proud of it though – she’d worked and scrimped and saved for years on her father’s ship, the Roonic Spell, to afford it, and the Twi’lek and her trusty astromech, B4-KP, had worked for months to get the hyperdrive into good enough condition for them to start carrying cargo off of Rishi.
A few stops, and almost a quarter of the galaxy later, she found herself with a few passengers and a cargo hold full of supplies she’d picked up en route to Ryloth, all bound for the beyond-backwater planet Velabri. She’d already noticed when refueling at Lamaredd that they were no longer in the galaxy – the bulging, starry disc was fully visible in the starboard viewports when they weren’t filled with the bright blur of hyperspace.
For those interested, Velabri is in quadrant S18, just "South" of Ryloth and Tatooine.
“We should be there soon.” A voice came from behind the blue Twi’lek, in the distinct accent of the Nautilan people. Jix, a young jedi, or so Hirani had surmised by the lightsaber hanging from his belt, had come in from the common area of the ship. B4, or “Backup”, as she called him, was busy working on some repairs in there, so she imagined he’d decided to move away from the noise.
“Yeah. We’re coming out of hyperspeed in the next few minutes. It should be quite a view.” Hirani started working the controls, and turned on the ships internal comms. “Azariah, Yubalo, we’re coming in. You might wanna strap yourselves in – this ship gets pretty bumpy on reentry.”
“No kidding,” Azariah Wren snorted. The mandalorian soldier had barely been able to keep his lunch when they’d launched, and the Reactor Cores that the small droid had insisted he drink before hadn’t helped. The astromech had been used as a bar tending droid by his previous owner, and had apparently picked up a few habits. Yubalu, on the other hand, remained quiet as usual. The lethern Twi’lek had barely said a word the whole trip – even the jedi had been more talkative. She was an enigma as much as the jedi had been – Nobody on the ship had ever seen a red Twi’lek before, and the tattoos adorning her lekku were equally uncommon. Even though they’d only been travelling for a couple of days, Azariah knew better than to expect a response, and watched in silence as she buckled the harness over herself. No sooner had she done so, than the starlines in the viewport started to contract into the normal light of realspace.
Jix saw the green-brown planet appear in a flicker of pseudomotion, but his senses screamed at him that something was wrong. He’d come to Velabri to get away from the war as much as the order, but there it was – far too close, a Lucrehulk-class droid control ship. The jolt of movement also ended too soon as a loud crash rocked the ship – a bang of durasteel bending and screaming at a hard impact. Hirani gasped as she looked out the viewport, seeing the starboard half of her ship floating in front of her. She slammed a button on her control panel just in time before the vacuum tugged her out of her seat. She flew a meter into the corridor that led to the common area before the bulkheads sealed it off from the pull of outer space.
Solution: give them a junker ship they won't miss, use it as a plot device, get an easy meet-cute out of it. Modern problems require modern solutions.
“Everyone ok?” The jedi called down the short hallway, extending a hand to help the captain to her feet.
“Ow!” The mandalorian groaned in exaggerated response. He’d not quite buckled himself by the time of the crash, and had wrenched his shoulder holding onto the straps for dear life. Yubalu had unstrapped herself, and was at the cockpit by the time Hirani had gotten to her feet. “How do I help?” she stated more than asked. Hirani checked the scanners, the viewport, everything she could to get a better picture of what was going on. The first thing she noticed, was that half a patrol of Vulture droids was pursuing the ship as it hurtled toward the planet. Half a patrol?
“The guns!” she said urgently, pointing at the ladder in the hallway. “On it,” Yubalu said, turning. Hirani looked back at the console, noticing Jix was already studying them. “It looks like we hit the patrol head-on.” he said. “You’ve lost an engine, most of your cargo…” A sudden panic hit Hirani. “BACKUP! Where are you?” She called into the ship’s comm.
A loud whistling squeal came back almost immediately. On the ship. A bit dramatic of a response if he was still onboard. “Alright, get to work on the engines, buddy.” she said with relief. Another squeal. “What do you mean you’re on top of… Azariah! Find my droid!”
The mandalorian was already on his feet, staring in disbelief as he saw the droid hanging onto a stray piece of metal on the outside of the ship, visible through the transparisteel viewport on the bulkhead. Apparently he’d been pulled out of the ship but managed to magnetise one of his legs before completely floating off. The ship shook. The vulture droids had opened fire on the ship, and the shields were probably worthless by now, if the ship had even had any to begin with. “Um, he’s on the other side of the bulkhead?” he said, still unsure what he could actually do about it. “Shouldn’t we be making for the escape pod?”
“Not without my droid!” was the immediate response. “You have air in your helmet, right?”
“Sure, but that’s not going to help if the whole ship decompresses! We won’t be able to stay in the ship!”
Another bulkhead closed, separating the common area, as well as Azariah, from what was left of the rest of the ship. “Well then, strap in!”.
The mandalorian did as he was told, with no small sense of foreboding. He put on his helmet and called. “Are you sure about this?”
Azariah felt the rush of air leaving the room, and suddenly it stopped. He also felt lighter – the ships artificial gravity was starting to give out. He had to move fast. B4 had managed to get his other strut onto the ship, but he didn’t seem able to move on his own. Holding onto the hatch with everything he had, he extended an arm, which B4 reached for with his manipulator clamp. they were a bit short, and the mandalorian tested his weight – even with half his body outside the ship, he still had some weight, though not as much as he’d like. He waited until the ship stopped rumbling from the last shot, and quickly snapped his hand out as he let go of the ship. “Let go!” he told the droid, who floated slightly as Azariah closed the gap and grabbed him. He pulled the droid closer, lifting himself ever so slightly, making sure the droid made contact with the ship, a full foot closer than he had been before.
B4 magnetised again, and now was holding them both onto the ship as it rumbled again, and specs of turbolaser fire whizzed past them. Closer to the ship now, Azariah was able to reach for the bulkhead, and start pulling them both in carefully. It was slow and terrifying, but he managed to get them both in, where B4 immediately plugged himself into the console, closing the bulkhead and opening the one in the corridor, calling a rush of fresh air into the room. Pulling off his helmet, Azariah called out to the comms, still lying on his back. “He’s in!”
Luckily, he was in as much disrepair as the ship, and it took Hirani a good two levels to fully patch him up.
Yubalu grunted in effort as she turned the laser toward the trailing vulture droids. To describe the turbolaser turret as “sticky” would have been an understatement. Even worse, without any targeting systems, she was having to eyeball her shots, getting the lasers closer to the dark-coloured droids with nothing but black space and bits of debris for reference. Luckily, the droids were too busy dodging the same debris to really aim as they wildly sprayed return fire. Still, the ship rocked and bucked as the occasional shot hit the remnants of the falling ship, and it became that much harder to get a frame of reference. Unless…
“Captain, can you get the stars behind us?”
“Are you kidding? I’ve got half an engine here!” The ship bucked again under more laser fire. Hirani pulled on the yoke and hit a few buttons. “Backup, see if there’s anything you can divert to the engines!” The ship was hurtling towards the planet, and was now breaching the upper atmosphere. Usually, this would make the ship harder to steer, but since she was trying to level it out, and almost glide the ship, the atmosphere worked in her favor, and she finally started to get some control of the ship. A few seconds later, a triumphant cheer came from the gun chamber, and the droids vanished off the scopes. A few seconds later, Yubalu stepped into the cockpit, shortly followed by Azariah and B4. Hirani opened up a hatch in the floor. “I’m not gonna be able to land this. Time to hit the escape pod before we get too low.”
Hirani had done her best to level the ship from it’s initial nosedive into the planet, but after the amount of damage it had taken, the ship was definitely beyond salvage. She shook her head as she pulled the door closed on the escape pod, her three passengers and her trusty droid cramped into the pod. As she hit the release, she looked down to see the blue-white forest blur beneath them, then up to see the blazing wreckage of the ship she’d worked so hard to get streaking through the sky above them. Without a ship, and with the Separatists blockading the planet, it seemed they’d be stranded on Velabri for some time…