Chapter 8 - Prisoner TransferAs he quickly stripped one of the two troopers and began to strip off his own outfit to replace with the Stormtrooper armor, Calen took a few milliseconds to reflect on how absolutely insane his life had become over just the past few days. After that instinct that had told him to run, things had been fairly quiet for a year afterward. Then his captain was killed, he willingly went along on a quest for revenge against the Twi’lek who had murdered him, he’d found there was a cult on a dead planet that was seeking a mysterious power, and that the Empire in the region was looking for that power, too, because of a heist gone wrong decades before.
And now, he was being sprung from prison by a bird woman Jedi.
Weird might have been underselling it just a bit. He got his mind back on the task at hand, girding himself in the Stormtrooper armor. He took the blasters from their belts, removing the power pack from the other and destroying his commlink before taking that of the other. There was certainly no need to have them calling for help before the group had made their getaway. If, indeed, they could even manage to do that. Calen turned from there, sliding the helmet over his head and moving toward the door. It slid open and he found himself face to face with another trooper.
“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” A distinctly feminine voice came through the grillwork as the figure leveled a blaster at him. Calen quickly grabbed it by the muzzle, forcing it upward. He received a swift pair of kicks to the stomach for his trouble. The attacks did no real damage, the armor absorbing the impacts with relative ease, but Calen was still forced to adhere to some of physics and give ground. He stumbled back slightly into the closet and his attacker pressed her advantage. “Now, come out of that closest. Slowly.” She said as she took aim once more.
Calen sighed as he raised his hands, moving forward as she moved back. Once they were free of the closet, he lurched forward and tackled into her, sending them both toward the ground. As her hands came up in an attempt to aim and fire on him, Calen grabbed them at the wrists and twisted until she was forced to drop the blaster - it landing on the metal floor with a loud clank. Having moved to straddle her and keep her pinned to the floor, Calen was forced to relent in order to go back and retrieve his blaster that had fallen as they had fallen. He moved quickly and soon turned upon his opponent, who had likewise taken the moment to recover her footing and her weapon.
They were in a stand off now, both of them as unmoving as the durasteel and marble beneath their feet. Could he shoot quickly enough that she wouldn’t get a chance to get a shot off? Could he dodge it if she managed to without missing his own shot? Calen’s entire body tensed like a snake coiling around itself as the seconds ticked by, only to have that tension broken by the sound of someone clearing their throat.
“Do you really believe this is a good time for human mating rituals?” Niyasa asked, her amber eyes giving both a pointed look.
“Ha! He wishes!” The female Stormtrooper reached up and slipped off her helmet, revealing a human woman with short, curly brunette hair and lips quirked into a smirk that hinted at smugness. “Not bad, New Guy. I guess it makes sense for us to bust you from here.”
“It’s Calen.” Calen told her as he took off his own helmet.
“Tessa.” She said, offering her hand for a shake. He took it. “And I see you’ve met Niyasa.”
“Yes, yes,” The Mrlssi cut in. “And I long walks on the beach, reading the latest astronavigation manuals, and - oh, yes - I’d like to get out of here at some time before my feathers fall out.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Calen said, turning to Tessa. “Niyssa said you were supposed to find a transport?”
“And I did.” Tessa said. “We’ll have to override the bay doors to get out, but it should be a cakewalk after that. You did get the full release protocol uploaded, right?”
“Yep.” Niyasa chirped with glee.
“Full release?” Calen asked.
“In a few minutes, every cage in this place will spring open. Easy peasy.” Tessa told him. “Now we just have to get to the ship.”
“This really doesn’t seem like a plan.” Calen said.
“Oh, it’s a plan. And it’s going to work. Let’s move.” Tessa said, sliding her helmet back on.
“We can’t leave, not yet.” Calen said. “I still have two friends down in the communal area. A few levels down.”
“Forget it. There’s literally hundreds of those on the station. We’d never find them again. Especially with the prisoners running amok.” Tessa told him.
“I’m not leaving without them, and that’s that.” Calen was adamant. “They’d do the same for me.”
“That’s great and all, but our superior said we were supposed to get everyone we could. We got you. One out of three ain’t bad.”
“Wait, your superior? What do you mean?” Calen asked.
“There’s really no time for that.” Tessa pointed out. “We need to go, now. You can get us the other part of the map and-”
“I don’t have it.”
“I don’t have what you’re looking for.”
“Glin said you’d have a datacard that has one-third of a map we’re looking for.” Niyasa said.
“You work for Glin?” Calen asked. They must have been somewhat on the level, if they knew that specific detail...or they were spies and he’d just given away the identity of someone who would likely be considered an enemy of the Empire by now.
“Yes. And he told us you’d have it.” Tessa said, irritation leaking into her tone. Calen considered that he hadn’t seen the card since before they’d landed on Pergitor. Who knew where it was now?
“I know who will know where it is, Ordos. He’s down on that communal level.” Calen said.
“I told you, there are literally hundreds of those down there.” Tessa said.
“Level Eleven, Detention Grid Thirty-Eight.” Calen said, earning him a surprised look from both of his new compatriots. “I do occasionally pay attention to things that happen around me.”
“I’m assuming you have a plan for getting them out?” Niyasa asked.
“Well, we have the Stormtrooper armor, let’s put it to use.” Calen said, slipping his helmet back on. “We bluff our way through, say it’s a prisoner transfer.”
“You’re insane. I’ve already got our ship out of here.”
“He’s right, we can’t.” Niyasa said.
“Niyasa, I swear if this is another one of those Force things of yours…”
“It’s...not.” The Mrlssi said, lifting her wrists. “Restraints please, Mr. Trooper.” She said, looking intently at Calen. “You wouldn’t be a very effective trooper if your prisoner was running unrestrained, would you?” Calen nodded, quickly removing the cuffs from his belt and securing them around Niyasa’s wrists.
“This is not a good plan.”
“In that case, let me do all the talking.” Calen said, then a thought occurred to him. “Actually, you probably should.”
“What?” Tessa’s blank stare almost became vocal.
“The guards might know my voice. Can’t take the risk.” Calen said. “You’ve got this, right? You’ve done this before?”
Tessa and Niyasa shared a meaningful look. “...sure, we’ll go with that.” Of all the things she could have said that could have been very reassuring, that wasn’t one of them. Nevertheless, the trio were committed and journeyed forth to the nearby lift. A short ride later, they were on Level Eleven and made their way through the corridors to the appropriate grid. Calen’s eyes met (through the red-black HUD of his helmet) the sight of the pen he’d become all too familiar with, seeing several of the prisoners he’d come to know...and who had kept a wide berth from him thanks to his Wookiee friend. He did not see Ordos or Rook, however. Perhaps they were lost somewhere in the crowd. At least, he hoped.
As they approached, an officer stopped them.
“State your business.” He said in a bored tone, only half-looking up from his terminal.
“Prisoner Transfer from Level Thirty-Two, Grid Seven.” Tessa told him.
“A Mrlssi? I wasn’t notified. Why isn’t she in the uniform?” The officer demanded. There was a silence for a long moment. “...are your audio inputs damaged?”
“There was a shortage in processing, sir.” Calen said, quickly, hoping his processed voice would save him being identified. “They told us to bring her ahead.”
“Highly irregular.” The officer raised a brow, then shook his head. “Who are you taking back up to Thirty-Two?”
“Prisoners Two-Zero-One-Six and Two-Zero-One-Seven.” Calen told him, again speaking quickly.
“...two for one?” The officer asked. “I’ll have to clear it.” His hands began to work the terminal.
“Look, I…” Tessa’s hand came forward, landing on the top of his terminal. “It’s really my first day and I don’t want the supervisor to be up my ass about this. Could you...maybe just this once...not make a big fuss?” She asked. Calen could tell, even through the processing, that her voice was twinged with a sickening sweetness to it. “For me?”
The officer looked unmoved, but his fingers did stop. “They’re being brought up now.” He said coldly. A few moments later, the force field that served as the barrier winked out of existence and two familiar figures in blue and silver were forced forward.
‘Okay...now we just need to get out of here-” Calen’s thoughts were cut off as the alarm klaxons began to blare.
“What in the blazes is going on?” The officer looked up toward the ceiling.
“All Imperial personnel, be aware that we have a security breach.” The voice of Admiral Ayro boomed through an intercomm system. “The fugitive known as Prisoner One-Nine-Seven-Seven has escaped custody. He is believed to be acting in unison with other individuals. I want him alive. The others, you are authorized to use deadly force upon.”
“Full lockdown procedure. Initiate it now.” The officer ordered. When neither Calen or Tessa moved, he stopped and stared at him. “Well? What are you waiting fo-?” Calen’s blaster ended his words shortly, the man being flung back against the wall behind his terminal.
“What the hell are you doing?!” Tessa exclaimed.
“The Wookiee’s loose!” Calen yelled out.
“He’ll tear us all apart!” He could hear Ordos voice as the place erupted into chaos. Other troopers were moving into the area, some coming from the perch above and around the enclosure of prisoners, only to be gunned down by Calen and now Tessa who had realized what he was doing. Ordos quickly joined the fray as well, once a trooper had fallen nearby for him to take up the blaster of. Rook, too, was doing his part and getting them as they came too close, his beastial roars playing up the image.
Niyasa, meanwhile, had gotten a hold of the terminal and was quickly working to hack it, keeping her head down. A few moments later, the Troopers had been dealt and both communications and the prisoner containment were unsealed.
“Okay, so nobody knows what’s going on here on Level Eleven.” Niyasa said, working the terminal. “They know we’re here, but they don’t know where we are.”
“Then we need to keep it that way.” Ordos said. He nudged Calen. “Got some new friends? Hope they weren’t hoping to join the crew.”
“They say they’re from Glin.” Calen told him.
“Wait, Glin?” Ordos raised a brow.
“No time for that.” Tessa put in. “Have they locked down the lifts?”
“On all levels, yes.” Niyasa said, manipulating the interface. “The maintenance tunnels are still open, though.”
“What about the auxiliary stairwells?” Calen asked.
“Uh...no. No, they’re open.” Niyasa said.
“Okay, then we can use those.” Calen said. “We may not move as fast, but we’ll be harder to detect on them.”
“The docking bay is ten levels down. There’s no way they won’t check there.” Tessa said, her blaster guarding the door.
“We have another problem as well,” Ordos said, “if you’re here for what I think Glin has you here for.”
“The starmap of Minos, yes.” Niyasa said.
“It’s in the equipment lock up. Three levels up from here.” He pointed.
“This is becoming unnecessarily complicated.” Tessa protested.
“How do you know it’s there?” Calen asked.
“Because that’s where the guard I managed to bribe said they had it locked up.” Ordos said. “And I highly doubt they found it where I hid it. You came for the card, and we have to get it.”
“Great. Just great.” Tessa clicked her tongue in annoyance.
“Let’s get moving, then.” Calen said. “Tessa, you and Rook can go and get the ship warmed up for an escape. Niyasa, Ordos, and I can head up to get the card.”
“You taking over as the Captain, kid?” Ordos asked, giving him an amused look. Calen winced.
“Sorry, I didn’t mea-”
“No, no. Good a plan as any, I say.” Ordos said.
“Fine. But I still think this is crazy.” Tessa said, gesturing for Rook to follow her. The Wookiee looked to Ordos, who nodded, and then went along with her.
“May the Force be with you, Tessa.” Niyasa said, and the Mrlssi received a quick flip off for her trouble. Calen was surprised when the bird woman just laughed. “Alright, let’s go.” She said. The two groups made their way via the stairwell, Tessa and Rook heading down whilst the others went up. As predicted, the trip upward was uneventful. Once they reached a corridor, however, it was pure chaos. Troopers and officers were scrambling about, searching through every single room, every nook and cranny. It wasn’t long before they were discovered.
“Hey, you found one of the prisoners!” Calen thought quickly and cliffed Ordos in his side, knocking him to the floor.
“Stay down, you scum!” Calen barked out as Ordos fell to the ground. It was in that moment that he noticed that Niyasa had made herself scarce. Where had she gone? Question for another time. “Go get help, I have this one contained!” The trooper had had come across them nodded and started off to go get help. Calen quickly lowered his blaster and helped Ordos to his feet once again. “Sorry, had to think quick.”
“Forget about it, kid. Let’s keep moving.” Ordos said. “And where’s the bird?”
“Right under you.” The voice came from below, and Calen quickly turned to hear where it had issued from. “In the vents. Some of the wiring’s down here, too. I’ll try to see if I can’t keep a few of the guards busy while you search.”
“How?” Calen asked, then watched as a nearby door slid shut and locked, trapping three troopers inside.
“Shame the wiring has all the door overrides in one place, isn’t it?” Niyasa’s smirk could be heard in her tone. Calen bit back the urge to laugh. “You two go on, I’ll help if I can. Use your commlink. Channel Six.” They didn’t need the directive, heading on down the corridor. As they passed a few doors, they were spotted...and then said doors were immediately shut before they could be assaulted.
“It’s in here.” Ordos said, pointing to an open doorway...that promptly slammed shut just before they reached it.
“No, not this one!” Calen protested, turning and firing on a Stormtrooper who had glanced around from behind an archway.
“I’m trying here!” Niyasa protested through the comm. “Poking around with wires with only three fingers isn’t exactly exact.”
“Hurry up!” Ordos protested as his shot took out another attacker.
“Patience is a virtue!” Niyasa sing-songed.
“Not today, it’s not!” Calen barked, blasting another and then dodging three more returning blasts that scorched the wall near him. A few seconds later, the door slid open once more.
“Move!” Ordos yelled, diving in. Calen quickly followed, finding themselves in a room with a multitude of lockers that lined every conceivable inch of the walls, including the ceiling. “Gotta find out where they hid it. Cover me.” Ordos began to work the monitor, scrolling through the inventory. Calen covered the door, though this job became pointless as it once more sealed.
“Any luck?” Calen asked.
“Ah, got it!” Ordos exclaimed, finding the correct number and quickly moving along the wall, his eyes scanning lockers until the one he was looking for, nearly tearing it open in his haste. He threw out several items before he exclaimed again. “Found it!”
“Found what?” Calen asked, having dodged several of the unintentional projectiles and was now doing his best to not stand directly behind Ordos. He certainly had more than enough motivation to do so. When Ordos turned, however, he did not throw what was in his hand. He merely revealed the headpiece of a familiar droid. “...Beedee?” He couldn’t believe it, as he crossed the room to witness the sight of the Triumphant Dawn’s navigator and logistics droid. He stared for a long moment, leaning in very closer on the black, shiny metallic form. “Oh, Beedee, I’m so sor-”
“Apologies? That’s all you have for this?!” The sudden burst of noise from the droid sent Calen lurching back in surprise with a gasp.
“Fools ‘em every time.” Ordos chuckled.
“Thank you for the reactivation, Master Ordos. I did not find the Imperial methods...pleasing.” Beedee said.
“They crack your headcase?” Ordos asked.
“Negative.” Beedee said. “The Imperials were very well equipped and used a variety of methods to access my core programming. However, due to redundancies in my systems, they were only able to access thirty-three percent of my memory reserves.”
“And the datacard?” At the words, a piece of Beedee’s head casing sunk in and split before retreating into it, revealing a small compartment. From it rose a familiar piece of technology. Ordos took it from the slot and it once more sealed itself up again. “Good work, Beedee. Let’s get out of here.”
“I would advise against that, Master Ordos.” Beedee said. “Tampering with my core memory has caused a series of neural breaks that will lead to resonance cascade failure shortly. I fear that I shall soon be little more than a rather symmetrically-pleasing paper weight.”
“Oh, c’mon! You can’t talk like that!” Calen protested. “We’ll hook you up in the Dawn again, good as new. It’ll be fine.”
“Your chances of escape from here are eighty-five point nine nine nine nine three percent more likely without compensating for my additional weight.” Beedee said. “And without my body, I fear I would be unable to provide adequate compensating in the form of assistance.”
“So what do you want us to do?” Calen asked.
“Deactivate me again.” Beedee said. “Permanently.”
“If that’s your wish, old friend.” Ordos said, setting the head on the floor. “I’ll make it quick.”
“There is a zero percent chance that I will feel pain.” Beedee chirped.
“There’s gotta be something we can do!” Calen protested again. “Niyasa can-” A blaster bolt tore through Beedee’s head casing. Then another, both times the black, spherical form exploded into a bright, orange flame. “...okay, nevermind.”
“We can do any mourning later. Stay focused.” Ordos said. He tapped Calen on the back. “C’mon. Quick.”
“He’s dead.” Calen said.
“I know, Calen, but-”
“I...absolutely...hated that droid...and now, he’s gone.” Calen barely managed to get the words out. “So are Burke and Santo...and the Captain…” As the weight of the last few days felt like a weight that someone had pressed onto him, Ordos’ hands grabbed at his shoulders.
“Yes. And you’re alive. And you need to focus on that, right now. If you don’t, we’re both going to be dead.” Ordos made sure he was looking into the younger man’s eyes. “Remember your training. You fall in line, you stay in line. You keep moving. Remember?” Calen swallowed, then he nodded. “Good. C’mon.”
“Come where?” Calen asked, doing his best to root his mind into the here and now and not worry about anything but that. In answer to that, the floor to their immediate left lifted up, revealing a compartment beneath that held...Niyasa, who poked her head up.
“C’mon. Ditch the armor. We can get out through here.” Niyasa told them. Calen quickly began to remove the armor, knowing well that he wouldn’t fit down there with it on. “They’ve locked down Levels Eight through Sixteen. They’re narrowing down too quick.”
“Are the stairwells still open?” Ordos asked, moving to once more put on his jacket that had been taken when they’d been arrested, retrieving it from the floor where he’d thrown it in his haste.
“For now, yes. They haven’t been locked down.” Niyasa said. “But I have no idea how much time we have before they do.” With this in mind, Ordos lowered himself down into the passage first, squatting down low to crawl his way through. Calen, now without the armor and sliding back into the gray, long-sleeved top and black pants they’d been captured in, brought his boots along as he crawled down into the lengthy maintenance shaft. It bled out back into the stairwell, just where they’d left it. The alarm klaxons still blared, but it seemed no one had caught on to their route.
At least, not until they reached Level Five and the doorway opened long before they’d made their way down the stairs to it.
“We’ve got hostiles!” The entire room erupted into blasterfire. Calen and Ordos both ducked behind the railing, firing off shots as they could. “Send them in from Level Six. We have three of the hostiles here.”
“Oh, great!” Calen yelled, finally managing to take out one with a precise shot. “Niyasa, anything you can do?”
“Like what?!” Niyasa was barely managing to hold a blaster in both hands, the kickback for her small stature being tremendous.
“Blow up the upper stairs? Throw them at each other? Anything!” Calen shouted.
“That only works if I can focus!” Niyasa shouted over the din. Calen could agree, there wasn’t much chance of any focusing going on right here. “Wait… I have an idea. Hold on.” She ducked back into the maintenance tunnels at the first opportunity and was gone. Then the sound came of the doors above them opening and the footfalls of other troops coming from Level Six.
“Oh, I have a bad feeling about this…” Calen said as he turned and aimed for the upper regions of the stairwell, leaving Ordos to pick off those coming at them from below. They were swarmed. For every Trooper they took down, two more were flooding in. “This is hopeless!”
“Hold the line!” Ordos barked out just before he took a shot in the arm and fell back.
“Ordos! Hang on!” Calen yelled, turning back and firing on the aggressor, moving to shield the older man as he recovered.
“Cease fire!”One of the troopers raised a hand to stop the sure onslaught that was about to happen. Calen tensed, keeping his weapon ready. This would not be his end, he had decided. ‘We’ll get out of this. We have to.” He thought, staring at the cold, black lenses that covered the eyes of his opponents, all of them bearing down on them. All exits were blocked, and they were stranded. “Surrender now and you will be escorted back to your area.”
“Escort this!” Niyasa’s cry bellowed from within the vents. Calen’s eyes were suddenly overtaken by a bright light, and he had the sudden feeling of the floor pulled out from under him, and gravity once more taking hold as he yelled out in protest.