certain?” Colonel Veers questioned the technician currently
hunched over a
flat data screen imbedded into a console. It
currently showed a two-dimensional image of the Death Star’s
layout and a red line highlighted a trench in the Northern
Hemisphere, a trench that was currently witnessing a space battle
between Imperial and Rebel starfighters. The very same Rebel
starfighters had a certain interest with the trench.
Veers had heard
several reports from the TIE Ops Center that several starfighters
had dove into the trench on a strafing run. But they weren’t
attacking the surface, just flying and following the trench. To
where, the Colonel feared the worse.
Colonel.” The technician replied. “If the Rebels
continue to fly along the trench they will come across a thermal
exhaust port. It is one of the station’s critical ports that
dispel the heat directly from the core. It is ray shielded so their
lasers won’t do any good, but the thermal exhaust port was not
with a particle shield since it would prevent the exhaust
port from doing its primary job, dissipating the heat.”
Rebels shoot a proton torpedo into the exhaust port?” Veers
asked, his worse fears
suddenly coming true.
possible sir, but highly unlikely.”
happen should a Rebel succeed?”
uh…in theory…destroy the
technician stumbled over his answer in disbelief. The very idea that
a single proton torpedo could possibly destroy this station, the
ultimate power of the Galactic Empire, was nearly impossible to
believed it and feared that is what the Rebels were aiming to
accomplish. Why else would they send all of their starfighters
against something the size of a small moon, knowing they would just
be committing suicide, unless they had found a critical weakness?
Veers called out urgently and against proper procedure.To
hell with procedure.He
thought as Chief Bast, the head of the Death Star’s
engineering and technical staff, approached the Colonel and the
Colonel, what is it?” Bast sounded unhappy that he was being
disturbed from whatever he was doing a moment ago.
believe we found what the Rebels are trying to do.” Colonel
Veers and the technician then quickly explained what they both had
discovered. Chief Bast’s face blanched at the revelation. The
same idea had never crossed his mind just like everyone else onboard
Except for Colonel
Veers and a very few others.
It was his job to
enemy’s attack strategy and find a
counter-strategy, then deploy it through whatever resources he or
his superiors had available. Although he was an officer of the Army,
he was on board a space station and therefore it was his
responsibility to defend it. Even though the battle being fought was
suggest we evacuate as many personnel and soldiers as possible just
in case they do succeed in destroying the station.” Veers
safe than sorry.
I’ll go and inform the Governor of your discovery.” Bast
replied and left to talk to Tarkin.
A minute later
Chief Bast returned to the Colonel’s side. He didn’t
look too pleased about something. “The Governor has denied an
immediate evacuation. He thinks we overestimate their chances.”
stubbornness is going to get us all killed.” Veers replied
quietly. “We should evacuate just in case.”
“I do have
the authority to
evacuate my people, but as for the troopers and
everyone else. Its up to General Tagge or Admiral Motti.”
wrong, gentlemen?” The voice of General Tagge asked. Colonel
Veers cleared his throat, knowing
that Tagge would listen to him
since it was he who strongly feared that the Rebels could find a
weakness in the station. Veers explained that weakness to the man.
“I see. Has
the Governor been informed?”
“Yes, but he
refuses to evacuate.” Bast answered.
strongly believe that the Rebels will succeed?” Tagge asked.
It was proper procedure to get as much information as possible
before making a decision on an order, such as evacuating a space
station that has one in a million chance of being destroyed.
Bast answered before Colonel Veers could. “All it takes is one
torpedo to get through and we are all gone.”
Tagge nods in
agreement. For the next thirty seconds he looked thoughtful as he
decided on whether to make the call or not. After half a minute
later he gave his answer. “We evacuate.”
Both men acknowledged in union.
Veers turned to the
technician. “Are you critically needed to run the station?”
He asked and the technician shook his head no in reply. "Then
get to an
escape pod or a shuttle.”
General Tagge called.
evacuation of the station. All non-essential personnel are to leave
the station and assume a polar orbit around Yavin until either the
danger has passed or the fleet arrives.”
General, sir.” The commander replied slightly confused, but
followed his orders to the letter.
Lord Vader reports there are three starfighters attempting an attack
run in the trench.” A TIE Ops officer reports.
minutes until planetary
target is within range.” A monotone
voice over the speaker system announced, soon followed by the shrill
sirens of the evacuation alarms and the voice of the commander.
non-essential personnel are to evacuate the
station. I repeat all
non-essential personnel are to evacuate the station.”
time we go, Colonel.” Chief Bast said, then as an after
thought he turns to the General. “Sir, will you be joining
stay with the Governor as long as possible.”
sir.” Colonel Veers said, disappointed, and then left the
General to evacuate.
thirty seconds and counting.”
The intercom of the Imperial shuttle announced just as it began an
approach vector toward
Yavin that would put it in a polar orbit.
Colonel Maximilian Veers glanced eagerly out the portside window to
see if he could see the space battle above the station.
the mechanical voice of Lord Vader. Veers saw a series of green
flashes and then a small explosion as a starfighter blew up.“What
Another tiny explosion was seen and then all comm traffic ceased
from the TIE fighters.
all clear kid! Take the shot and let’s go home!”An
unidentified voice exclaimed in excitement followed by a very
familiar Wookiee howl.
After a moment of
silence the same voice returned over the comm system.“Great
shot kid, that was one in a million!”
whispered, fearing the worse has just happened. “By the
Emperor, please don’t let it be true.”
But it was. The
Rebels had succeeded in doing the impossible.
The Death Star
exploded in a fiery display.
All aboard the
vessel stared in shock and horror at the tragedy that they were
witnessing. None paid attention to the sudden approach of the
super-sonic shockwave until it was nearly on top of them.
actions!” Veers exclaimed and clutched tightly onto his
restraints just as the shockwave impacted against the shuttlecraft.
His teeth clicked together sharply and rattled along with every
mechanical part of the shuttle. The stars and the gas giant outside
swirled past the viewscreen several times, making the Colonel dizzy
and sick to the stomach.
If I wanted to
ride a maglev-coaster I would have stayed home with Zevulon and took
him to the amusement park! Ugh, make it stop already!He
thought sarcastically, the contents of his stomach trying to fight
its way up.
“I think I’m
gonna puke!” A young enlistee in the back of the shuttle
moaned and the sounds of someone regurgitating soon followed.
Lights in the cabin
of the shuttle flickered on and off. The sounds of metal under
stress echoed throughout the ship, sending new fears into all of its
passengers. If the joy ride didn’t stop any time soon, the
pressure of the shockwave would tear the ship apart.
clenched his eyes tight and gripped harder onto his restraints.
Images of his family and his life flashed before him as he thought
this would be his last flight through space. He didn’t want to
go this way. He had his own death planned out for him, he wanted to
die in retirement on some backwater world doing who knows what
retired officers do or die in the glory of battle on the ground.
Not like this.
When he thought the
shuttle was about to split apart, he felt himself shoved into his
seat as if 4Gs were pressing against him, pinning his entire body in
place. Then the creaking sounds of metal and the emergency wail of
the collision alarm ceased abruptly.
It took him a
moment to realize that the ride had stopped and longer to understand
why he felt lighter than air.The
inertial dampeners must be damaged.
He concluded silently to himself and then out loud he said:
His answers were
several miserable groans.
himself from his seat and floated freely out of it. Using the back
of the chair as a push board, he flew for the cockpit to check on
the pilots. Halting himself between the doorframe he could already
see that one of the pilots had fainted and the other was holding his
thing still fly?” He asked as soon as the conscious pilot
pulled himself together. The pilot obediently began to do a systems
check on the vessel. After what seemed like an eternity he came up
with the answer.
It wasn’t one
Veers was looking for.
“We can still
fly, sir. But the hyperdrive has been damaged.” The pilot
answered. “We’re stuck until the fleet arrives.”
The pilot hesitated whatever he was going to add to the end of the
Veers reluctantly asked.
“We also have
been knocked off our original course straight for the jungle moon
and life support is down to 40%.” The pilot answered again.
“If the fleet
doesn’t get here any time soon we’ll
have to land on Yavin IV.”
Rebel terrorists that would gladly kill us or capture us.”
Veers added diffidently. He was just about to leave the cockpit to
check on the
passengers when a light on the console in front of the
co-pilot began demanding for someone’s attention. “What
The pilot announced. “They are heading straight for
“Get us out
of here!” Veers ordered forcefully and only had enough time to
push himself down into the seat behind the pilot before the man
jerked the shuttle sharply away from the gas giant and directly for…
“Where are you going?”
go anywhere else but to the moon. Its our only chance, sir.”
Ruby red laser
blasts silenced Veers complaint about going further into enemy
territory. Again the Colonel found himself in another ride as the
shuttle, without an inertial dampener, juked and jinked to avoid
enemy fire. The jungle moon of Yavin grew larger as the pilot raced
starfighter overshot the shuttlecraft and into the sights of the
Imperial vessel. It turned sharply to port and came around for
another pass, four ruby laser blasts impacted into the side of the
shuttle. Knocking Veers into the side of his seat roughly.
this thing go any faster?” Veers complained.
putting everything I can into it. Shields are down 68%.” The
pilot informed out of habit then pulled the shuttle into a
thirty-degree decent as soon as it began to enter the moon’s
atmosphere. The starfighters relentlessly pursued them, hammering
away at the rear shielding of the vessel.
Something in the
back of the shuttle exploded and smoke began to fill the cabin.
Veers coughed and choked on the filthy air and glanced up to stare
out the viewscreen of the cockpit. Before them and rapidly
approaching was the canopy of the jungle treetops.
were his last thoughts before the smoking vessel crashed to the
III - Piranha Attack
Something like a
cricket chirped in his right ear.Odd
sound to hear on the Death Star.Colonel
Veers thought and coughed a couple times.I
should have that checked.He
slowly opened his eyes and then shut them again as acrid smoked
filled air stung them.
Another spasm of
coughs and chokes racked at his lungs as he continued to breathe in
the toxic fumes.Smoke?Veers
tried to move but found something was holding his legs down. He
opened his eyes and squinted to see where he was and what was
holding him down.
Pale light filtered
through the wreckage that was all around him. A
temporarily cleared the air in front of him but it didn’t last
long enough as much as he would have liked it too. Specks of dirt
blew into his face and he coughed again.
His voice was hoarse and his mouth was dry. He
tried to remember the last thing he was doing. Vague images of an
enormous explosion and an X-wing flashed past his mental field of
vision. And a single word seemed to annoyingly repeat in his mind.
Then it all came
back to him and Veers realized where he was. “Help!” He
called out but his cry for help was only answered by the silence of
the jungle forest outside. He took a look at his
situation and was
thankful that the shuttle wasn’t currently on fire. Though he
didn’t know how long that would last.
He attempted to
move his legs and found that the console of the cockpit had pinned
them to the floor.
He scowled as he wondered what happened to the
pilot and copilot. But when he tried to free a leg, twisting his
body in the process his face came face to face with the pilot’s.
He pulled back as
far as his pinned legs would
let him in shock and horror. The
pilot’s face was marred with large bleeding gashes and tiny
pieces of debris either from tree branches or the shattered
viewscreen. If the pilot hadn’t worn the insignia that gave
him his rank, Veers would not have known which of the two he was
since his face was completely unrecognizable.
skies.” He mumbled in half shock. Something dripped past his
field of vision of his left eye and it took him a moment to notice
the tickling sensation of something trickling down his forehead.
When he removed his
hand from his scalp it was covered in red and very warm.I’m
bleeding. I have to get out of here. Who knows what kind of
predators this moon has.
The Colonel tested
either of his legs to see if they were broken or in pain. The only
thing he could feel was the pressure of the console weighing down on
his limbs. Veers twisted and pulled gently until he had one leg free
then carefully freed his remaining leg.
He coughed and
choked again from the smoke a couple more times as he tried to push
what looked like to be the stabilizer fin of the shuttle off of the
gapping hole that use to be the viewscreen. The heavy metal budged a
few centimeters and he was just about to give up when he gave his
last push all he had and the fin slid off of the crushed nose of the
shuttle. The fin crashed loudly to the ground and tilted wildly
before coming back to bang against the shuttle nose.
Veers stumbled out
of the ruined cockpit and into fresher air. Smoke gently rolled out
of the rubble behind him in a
northeasterly direction as he slowly
stood atop of the wreckage and studied his surroundings.
Parts of the jungle
had once been on fire but the heavy moisture in the air kept that
fire from spreading to other parts of the jungle.
To the east he
could hear the trickling sound of water flowing.A
river no doubt.
He could see
through the pillars of smoke behind the shuttle the deep gouge the
craft made when it crashed and slid across the earth. Bits and
pieces of the shuttle were strewn all over the place; some even hung
limply from tree branches.
mess.” He sighed in frustration. Veers then took
fulls of the fresh air, which caused him to cough a couple times
from the stabbing pain he felt in his bruised ribs, before making
his way down the side of the shuttle. He had to see if anyone else
had survived the crash.
He was pulling away
at a loose sheet of metal when he thought he heard someone moan
inside. “Hello?” He called out. “Can you hear me?”
Veers pulled harder
against the hull until he had a large enough opening for a man to
slip through. “Hello?” He repeated as he slipped
through. It was a tight squeeze and was forced to sacrifice his
uniform jacket as it caught on a jagged edge and ripped. He
care about that at the moment, the only thing that was on his mind
was getting to the person he thought was still alive.
He made it through
without any further problems and had to crouch in order to make his
way to a human half
buried beneath slabs of metal and seats. The
human was a young male and Veers was saddened that such a young
person had to die this way. The Colonel removed his fingers from the
man's neck and lifted his gaze at the sound of a groan.
“Can you hear
me?” He repeated. “If you can’t speak give me a
sign that you can hear me, please.” He didn’t hear it at
first but after a second he recognized the sound of someone tapping
metal against metal.
followed the sound until he found himself closer to the rear of the
shuttle, or at least what would have been the rear. Earth had piled
up inside the back and buried parts of the shuttle. The sound seemed
to be coming from a portion of the shuttle that was half buried.
coming, just hold on!” He shouted and began digging away at
the mound of dirt. Smoke once again began to fill the inside of the
shuttle and it felt hotter than the smoke he breathed back at the
cockpit. That only meant a fire was beginning to break out.
Veers coughed and
wondered what kind of affect this was going to have on his lungs in
the future as he continued to dig through the dirt until his fingers
scraped up against metal and flesh.
He grabbed what was
an arm with one hand and pulled at the metal with another.
Occasionally he had to resume digging in order to move the slab. He
continued at this task until he had a coughing face emerge.
alright?” Veers felt stupid asking that question when the man
he just unburied had been buried and covered in dirt mixed blood.
The man sputtered in a dazed voice. “W…what happened?”
be alright…” He paused as he looked for the man’s
rank but found his chest bare of the insignia. Instead he
repeat himself. “You’ll be alright.”
feel anything, sir.” Veers frowned while he continued to
unbury the Imperial.
He said and listened to the Imperial’s, whose name he would
later learn was Lt. Pliskin, description of his injuries that he
Veers concluded sadly after listening.
“Am I going
to live, Colonel?” Pliskin asked in a tired voice.
tightly. How was he supposed to tell him that he was or wasn’t
going to make it? He wasn’t a doctor and hadn’t had the
chance to see the Lieutenant’s complete injuries yet.
too early to tell.” Veers replied. “Come on, let’s
get you out of here before we both die from smoke inhalation.”
Veers pulled Pliskin from the pile by the shoulders back toward the
hole he had made in the side of the shuttle. He had a difficult time
trying to make it easy on the
Lieutenant when it came to squeezing
him through the hole, but he made it through without furthering more
damage to his already battered body.
that sound?” Pliskin inquired and looked up to the sky.
Veers asked and cocked his head. He had feared the Rebels might send
a party to see if anyone survived the crash, but he didn’t
hear anything similar to an ion engine.
like a buzz. Like a Stinger Fly.” Pliskin answered. Veers
scowled and strained to listen. He could hear something far off in
the distance that did resemble the sound of a Stinger Fly buzzing
about its nest.
know.” Veers sounded worried. He hoped it was nothing but
being on a planet with animal life he was unaware of made him
nervous. He wanted to get away from the wreckage as far as possibly,
mostly though to avoid the Rebels than any
predators that could be
The Imperial Army
officer lifted Pliskin into his arms and began walking away when the
buzzing sound steadily grew louder and from the northeasterly
getting closer.” Pliskin’s voice sounded frightened.
Veers couldn’t blame him for it. He was also afraid. Afraid to
find out what the source of the buzzing was. “I think we
should get away from here.”
Veers was only able
to walk a few paces when the first signs of the buzzing appeared at
the edge of the crash site in the tree canopy. Small insect like
creatures that reminded Veers of Sand Beetles began to swarm
overhead and quickly descend for the shuttle.
Beetles!” The Colonel exclaimed. He had heard about them back
on Coruscant while watching a Biology channel. They traveled in
swarms and ate anything that got in their way. They also had an
olfactory sense a million times more sensitive than humans and
therefore could smell the scent of blood miles away.
covered in it!Veers
panicked as soon as he saw the swarm split in half, one half
consuming the shuttle remains and the other half-approaching Pliskin
and him. He didn’t hesitate like most men would have. As soon
as he saw he was in
danger he began to run away from the tiny
predators, Pliskin in his arms.
gaining!” Pliskin informed, his voice completely filled with
remind me!” Veers exclaimed. The buzzing reminder was enough.
He didn’t need Pliskin to tell him that they were right behind
him and gaining. He hadn’t realized where he was going; there
was no time to think about what to do, until he began splashing
through a shallow river.
An idea hit him
like a maglev train. “Hold your breath!” He ordered and
took a deep breath before ducking beneath the surface of the water.
The buzzing sound of the beetles was muffled
beneath the surface and
both Imperials could make out the dark swarm above them.
Veers hoped that
the beetles didn't know how to swim otherwise he and Pliskin were
good as dead. He also didn't know how long either of them could hold
their breath underwater before the beetles gave up on them.
Then Pliskin began
squeezing Veers’ shoulder hard. He was running out of air and
so was Veers. Worse, some of the beetles, driven by the suicidal
desire to reach
them, began diving into the water after them.
- Another One Bites the Dust
mentally sighed in relief when he discovered that the beetles were
killing themselves. He and Pliskin were fortunate enough to have
been too far below the surface of the water for the beetles to reach
them. Through blurred vision, Veers could make out the swarm slowly
dissipating into nothing as the carnivorous insects
gave up on prey
they had thought would be easy.
Once Veers was
certain the predators were gone, both emerged from beneath the
surface gasping for lung fulls of air. Colonel Veers then warily
searched for any sign of the beetles
but only heard the distant
sound of their buzzing. He sighed in relief now that he was out of
Worried that the
Piranha Beetles might return once he and Pliskin left the river;
Veers decided that it would be
safest to travel by water until he
was certain that the things had left the area. He also did not want
to be visible just in case the Rebels were looking for them.
glanced above him at the treetops, doubt clouding his
the Rebels could see them through the thick canopy above. But he
didn’t want to take the risk.
rest here.” Veers told Pliskin after he found and moved to
hide underneath a half rotten
log sticking out from the bank and
covered in algae and moss. The log would hide them from Rebel eyes
and the water would wash away any scent of blood from them,
therefore keeping the Piranha Beetles away.
feel so good.” Pliskin complained and shivered. Veers’
eyes fell downward to stare at a streak of red liquid flowing down
river before disappearing a couple meters away. He glanced at his
own hands and saw red bloodstains that were not washed away, in the
creases of the joints and palm print.
on.” Veers encouraged, his voice sounding worried for the life
of the Lieutenant. Carefully he settled Pliskin’s feet to the
muddy ground of the river while he held onto him with one arm and
wrapped one of the Lieutenant’s arms around his shoulders.
Veers could feel
the injury beneath his arm and knew there was nothing he could do
for him. Sometime during the crash Pliskin must have fallen on a
steel beam that slashed into his back, severing his spinal cord and
leaving behind a large gash.
“What is your
name?” Veers asked, he wanted to keep the young officer awake.
The Colonel thought that if he could last long enough for him to
carry back to the shuttle, he could find a medical kit and patch up
the injury as best he could. But he couldn’t do that now so
long as the beetles remained devouring the remains of his
Andrew Pliskin, sir.” He replied in a small and tired voice.
His head dipped forward slightly and he caught himself in time to
you doing on the Death Star?” Veers adjusted the Lieutenant so
that Pliskin could lean against him more comfortably and lessen the
pain he was no doubt feeling in his back above the severed spinal
was a technician in the...” Pliskin trailed off abruptly.
Colonel Veers frowned and gently nudged the young man.
He quietly called. His voice sounded uncertain. Alarms began to go
off inside his head. He called more loudly next time. “Pliskin!”
Veers’ free hand shot straight for the man’s pulse.
“Wake up, please!” Colonel Veers pleaded, his voice
quivering, as his fingers found nothing along the main artery in the
Veers whispered in disbelief. He closed his eyes and rested his head
against the rotting log, holding the limp form of Pliskin in his
arms, and silently grieving that he had lost another colleague to
- Skulls & Bones
A mound of stone
and a make shift tombstone were the only signs that Lieutenant
Andrew Pliskin had ever existed. Colonel Maximilian Veers stood over
the gravesite in solemn silence. It had been several hours since the
Piranha Beetle attack and he had no fear of attracting their
attention again anytime soon.
During that time he
had waited in a river beneath a rotting log, holding onto the prone
form of Pliskin and once he was certain the buzzing had completely
ceased to be heard by human hearing, he emerged to bury the young
man. He had painstakingly collected rocks and small boulders from
the riverbank all around
and carefully arranged the burial mound of
a proud and heroic soldier of the Empire.
absentmindedly rubbed an emblem patch of the Empire between thumb
and forefinger. A symbol that stood for the order of the New Order
that had superseded the Old Republic. An emblem that held pride and
honor for the Imperial war machine. Delicately he placed the patch
onto the capstone of the grave and held it in place with a tiny
Andrew Pliskin, you have served your Emperor in more ways than one.
You will not be forgotten, I swear it on my own honor.”
Colonel Veers straightened his posture proudly, clicked his heels
together and saluted to the lost Lieutenant.
He was now alone on
a hostile world full of things that would want to eat him and
traitors that would want to either kill or capture him. He was wet
and cold and he felt like the first signs of hypothermia were
setting in his bones.
And he had the
galaxy’s worse migraine.
Veers rubbed his
throbbing temple, grimaced and pulled away a bloodied hand. He had
forgotten that he had been injured in the crash himself. His pained
reminded him of his bruised ribs, as if the revelation of
his head injury had made him once again aware of his own body.
I need a medkit.
He told himself and wondered
if one had really survived the crash of
the shuttle. Then he remembered about the others and a new sadness
enveloped him as he realized no one could have survived the
veracious hunger of the Piranha Beetles.
made his way back to the crash site all the while thinking
about his colleagues and how many of them were alive when the
carnivorous insects came down upon them. He shook his head of the
vivid thoughts; he did not want to depress himself by continuing to
live in the past.
But the smell of
Death would not let it go by that easily.
As Veers approached
closer to the remains of the shuttlecraft, the air around it reeked
of death. He could feel it permeate
through his flesh and down to
his own bones. Veers shivered in response to the frigid atmosphere.
He wanted to leave this area for more reasons than just the Rebels.
He had seen
soldiers die in front of him. He had glimpsed at the
agony of men
who Death would not take quickly. He had seen and faced Death many
times himself but nothing he had experienced in the past could
prepare him for what he saw now as he crawled his way back inside
the shuttle in search of a medical kit.
Skulls and bones
greeted his return.
He whispered in complete and terrifying horror as he stared at a
slacked jaw skull staring out at him with eyeless sockets. He felt
like he was in
the middle of a horror holovid, no matter where he
turned, he saw skeletons in tattered and torn uniforms. Some were
missing their skulls; others’ were missing limbs and pieces of
limbs and other parts.
away from the skeletal remains of the pilot and bumped into
something that gently rested on his right shoulder. Already
terrified, he pulled away from the object that landed on his
shoulder. The bones of a forearm clattered to the dirt covered
forgot about the medical kit as he hastily scrambled his way out of
the shuttle in fright. Never had he ever had to experience this in
his entire career in the Imperial Army. Basic training had not and
could not prepare him for the sights he saw back in the shuttle.
- Rebel Sighting
Veers refused to return to the shuttle, even for
a medical kit. He
did not want to face the remains of his comrades or smell the stench
that was no doubt by now hovering over the entire area. The past
events had left him shaken, unusual for a man of his caliber.
dowsed his face in cold, river water to wash away the dried blood
from his face and head, as well as the vivid images. The cold,
unsanitary water stung at his wound sharply but he ignored it and
preferred the annoyance to the visions that kept swimming before
Once he was certain
that his head wound was clean, he pulled off his torn uniform jacket
and began ripping away at it until he had thick and wide strips of
cloth. Expertly he wrapped the wound with the strips until he looked
like a tired, dirty, and wounded soldier from the Clone Wars
holomovies, in his water reflection.
I am a tired,
dirty, and wounded soldier.He
laughed gloomily at his own rippling reflection. Veers sat back on
the edge of the riverbank and just stared out into space. Only now
did he have the time to finally fully grasp his hapless situation.
rephrase that, I am a tired, dirty, wounded,and
stranded soldier.” He groaned at his hopelessness. Veers knew
Imperial Fleet was coming, once it realized that the Death
Star was no longer making or receiving any more communications. But
the chances of the fleet finding him on a jungle covered and
Rebel-infested planet was next to nil.
make my way to those stone monoliths I saw earlier. When the fleet
arrives, the Rebels should be either gone or defeated.” He
vaguely remembered getting a glimpse of a set of golden colored
stone temples before the disastrous crash. Slowly he stood up and
searched in all directions as to which way the structures were
He visualized the
trajectory of the shuttle and which direction he remembered seeing
the temples. Veers scowled in frustration when he realized he wasn’t
absolutely certain as to which direction was right.
He hollered and kicked at the muddy riverbank, sending clods of mud
into the gentle flowing river. After the brief spurt of his temper
he slowly began to calm himself. “Take it easy, Maximilian,
just stay with the...”
Then he heard it.
It was faint at
first and then grew louder as it approached. At first, Colonel Veers
thought the Piranha Beetles were returning and then he distinguished
the distinct sound of an ion engine. The stranded Imperial began to
run back toward the shuttle in hopes of a rescue, but after the
first few meters he came to a dead stop. A new type of fear etched
across his tired visage.
He muttered as he turned and ran away from the crash site. He
splashed his way across the river to the other side and into the
tree line of the jungle. Veers tried to make himself smaller and
unnoticeable by lying flat on his stomach.
He did not want to
leave the area since he didn’t know which way the temples were
located. His only chance of rescue was the hope that the Imperial
fleet would spot the earthly scar of the crash from orbit.
The noisy craft
slowly flew overhead, barely skimming the tree canopy, from the
south-southwesterly direction. It was just about the same direction,
which the Imperial shuttle had made it’s deadly crash from.
Veers heart fluttered in both adrenaline-induced excitement and a
new hope that he could be rescued sooner and easier than just
staying around the downed craft.
The Rebel craft
came into full view as it began its descent over the crash site. It
was Veers realized, a stolen Imperial shuttle bearing the insignia
of the Rebel Alliance. Unconsciously he pressed his body further
into the moist dirt of the forest floor as he waited for the
craft to leave in conclusion that no one survived.
Then a new idea
came to him. What if he could capture the shuttle and make his way
back to Imperial held territory? He knew he might be branded a hero
and survivor of a
disastrous battle against the Rebel terrorists. He
wondered what the Imperial Gold Cross would feel like around his
just like every other medal I had received.
He made up his
mind, he would try and steal the shuttle and in the process kill the
Rebels that arrived with it. After all, he owed it to the millions
of soldiers and civilian workers that died on the space station,
including Lieutenant Pliskin.
Then as he moved to
grab for his pistol, he found the leather holster empty of the DL-44
BlasTech. Veers dark blue eyes glanced to his side in dismay. Now
how was he supposed to defeat the Rebel search party without a
lead this way.” Someone said on the other side of the river
just out of sight. Veers craned his neck to get a better view and
spotted a group of three Rebels following something along the
following my footprints!
One member of the
group pointed ahead and the Colonel held his breath as they briskly
approached the grave of Lieutenant Pliskin. A blonde human picked up
patch and flipped it over in his hand with scrutiny.
survived.” He said to the others.
were only one set of footprints?” Protested a younger Rebel in
status quo orange flight suit of Rebel pilots. Veers snickered at
the stupidity of the young man and wished all Rebels were just as
“Then how do
you explain a dead body buried underneath rocks?” The third
member pointed out after removing several of the stones. Colonel
Veers hissed at the audacity of the Rebels to disturb the grave of a
dead man, especially that of an Imperial officer. “No way a
dead man could bury himself like this.”
“Oh. You do
have a point.” The young pilot admitted embarrassed by his own
ignorance. Veers wondered how such an imbecile could make it to be a
The leader of the group pointed at a set of impressions in the
ground. “The tracks lead back into the forest toward the
shuttle.” The Rebel stood from his kneeling position and
looked ahead, than pointed again. “And there, they return to
Veers heart raced
as he realized the Rebels were tracking him. He grimaced at his own
stupidity for leaving his tracks so easily visible. The three Rebels
followed his trail to the embankment of the river, the leader knelt
down and scooped up
a handful of dirt and let it fall through his
survivor is injured and nearby. The blood here is still fresh.”
The tracking Rebel stated for his companions, his gaze followed
along the opposite
tree line until both Veers’ and the Rebel’s
It was only sheer
will that prevented the Colonel from getting up and run from his
hidden position. He softly let out his breath that he had forgotten
holding as the Rebel turned away from the forest.
end here. I’m going to cross to see if they start again on the
other side.” Colonel Veers groaned in dismay as he watched the
Rebel pace back and forth along
side the riverbank in search of the
anything?” The young pilot inquired and the Rebel leader
nodded, waving for them to join him on the other side.
“Yeah and I
think he knows we’re here.” The Rebel replied and
explained to his companions how the stride of the tracks was wider
than the ones on the other side of the river, indicating that the
owner was running.
The three Rebels
straightened and each pulled their sidearm free of the holster.
cautiously glanced around his surroundings and hoped his hiding spot
hid him well. He did not need the Rebels to find him, even though it
meant he would no longer be stranded on the mud ball of a planet.
Seriously though, he would rather be captured than live the rest of
his life here. At least his chances of escaping the Rebels were
better than being rescued on a jungle covered, backwater, and
The leader, the
blonde, and the pilot began to make their way toward the Colonel’s
position, unaware how close they were to the sole surviving
VII - Die Rebel Die!
Colonel Veers held
his breath as the blonde was nearly on top of him. If the Rebel came
any closer, no matter how well he was hidden, Veers knew that the
Rebel would discover someone was hiding. And that would be bad news
for him. He did not want his cover blown so early, not until he made
the first move anyway.
patiently all the while his heart raced inside his chest. Vivid
images from basic training came back at him at the most
inappropriate time. He recalled doing something very similar in the
forest terrain of Carida, something his instructors had called ‘The
Breakdown’. It was a three-week exercise where new recruits
were forced to
put to test all the skills they had learned in the
first six months of training. It put a lot of mental and physical
strain on the recruit until they broke down.
A mock battle would
be fought against experienced Imperial soldiers
civilians. The objective of the exercise was to not only survive but
to defeat the enemy and apprehend the mock garrison they were
holding. He had survived the battle and was one of ten cadets who
had raised the Imperial flag at the base. Veers believed it had been
the most exhilarating experience he had ever gone through.
The blonde Rebel
turned his back to Veers. It was the moment he was waiting for.
Without hesitating, Veers lunged out of his hidden spot on to the
back of the Rebel. Both men fell toward the muddy ground of the
Cried the Rebel as Veers pounded a fist repeatedly into the human’s
face all the while he wrestled for the blaster. Colonel Veers could
hear over the struggle the two other Rebels rushing through the
forest to reach their fallen comrade.
Blonde smashed his
own fist into Veers face, sending him sprawling onto his back. The
Rebel than moved to tackle the fallen Imperial, but a red flash of
light and a smoking hole in his chest a split second later stopped
him dead in his tracks.
scrambled to his feet, a smoking blaster in his right hand at his
side, just in time as the other two Rebels emerged from the forest.
Cried the leader and fired a shot at the fleeing Colonel. The energy
bolt sped past Veers, narrowly missing him by half a foot. By the
time the Rebels began chasing after the Colonel, his uniform had
allowed him to blend into the greenery, allowing him to disappear
Long enough for him
to take advantage and flank the two remaining Rebels.
“Where did he
go?” The Rebel pilot inquired loud enough for anything to find
it up, foolish Rebel.
Veers beckoned, smiling deviously as the pilot did as he silently
commanded. “No way he could have disappeared that easily.”
he’ll find us.” Snapped the leader in a much quieter
Veers inched his
way quietly toward the group until he spotted the pilot.Turn
pleaded and found himself to be lucky that fate was with him, for
the Rebel pilot did turn his back to the Colonel. Maximilian Veers
slowly stood from his position, blaster extended
out and fired into
the young pilot’s back.
Already the last
remaining Rebel was turning just as his companion’s body began
to fall to the ground. But he wasn’t fast enough to bring up
his own blaster and return
fire. He too joined his two dead comrades
with a smoking hole in the middle of his skull.
leaned against a fat tree trunk littered with protruding step-like
fungi. He took several deep full breaths of the air. He
the smell of burnt ozone and flesh, or was it from the fungi behind
him? He didn’t know but he still took steps to avoid the fungi
just in case he actually was allergic to the organism.
Veers wanted to
rest after the
small firefight he had with the Rebels, but he knew
he couldn’t stay around for very long. He didn’t know
how many Rebels were in the shuttle and he certainly did not want to
find out right away and on their terms. While he was searching
through the pockets of the two Rebels, the comlink of the Rebel
leader began to beep urgently for attention.
Veers slipped the
leader’s jacket onto his own torso and pulled out the comlink.
He flipped it over in his hand, still beeping, before deciding to
throw it into the jungle. The stranded Imperial stole the blaster
clips of the Rebels, a couple ration bars, and a tiny maglite before
moving back toward the river and the Rebel shuttlecraft.
He still had to
find a way to steal the shuttle.
VIII - Standoff
crouched behind a gnarled dead tree and peered below the trunk
through a crevasse that was dug into the earth by some burrowing
creature that wanted
to get past the trunk but couldn’t climb
over and was too stupid to go around. It also gave him a good view
of the Rebel shuttlecraft and that of the downed vessel half buried
in the earth from the high-velocity impact.
He was badly
outnumbered five to one and outgunned ten to one. Still, that didn’t
persuade him from giving up and getting off of the rotting planet.
He had faced greater numbers than the ones he was presented with now
and still came out on top as the victor. Except, he also had support
during those battles and resources to rely on.
Here, all he had
was his own ingenuity and a blaster.
Veers had two
choices currently presentable to him. He could use
the protection of
the rotting trunk and the small hole beneath to fire from and pick
them off one by one all the while leaving himself vulnerable to
flank attacks. Or he could fire off one or two shots then move
deeper into the forest and flank the Rebels and come up from behind
the wreckage allowing the Rebels to run for cover inside the
Or he could act
like the Corellians and charge into battle blindly with no plan
except for a blaster blazing wildly. Veers snorted at that idea. He
knew how that would end, with him dead. Veers recalled watching
security footage of a Rebel terrorist getting separated from the
others and chasing after two stormtroopers. A Wookiee had followed
behind him and was lucky to not
have been with his human companion.
The charging Rebel had quickly retreated as he had bravely chased
the stormtroopers when he found out a legion of troopers was waiting
around the corner.
That moment made
Veers smile broadly.
He had several
plans formulated in his mind. None of them insured flawless victory
and most of them were too much of a risk to his life.
“How hard can
it be to take on five Rebels when you just took out three earlier?”
Veers chastised himself quietly for his reluctance.Except
all three were humans while these five are a mixed sort.
The two Rebel humans inspecting the wreckage had a Wookiee tugging
at the plastisteel that Veers had hours ago peeled away at to get to
A Twi’lek and
a species Veers couldn’t
identify were guarding the shuttle
ramp and talking away idly with each other as if it was only another
drill and nothing serious. Colonel Veers decided he would take out
the two at the shuttle and make a break for it before the remaining
three could react to him.
But that idea was
washed away with a new development.
A sixth Rebel
walked down the ramp to the two aliens and spoke to them in hushed
tones. Veers could only guess as to what was being said, but he
a good idea they were talking about him. The Twi’lek lekkus
twitched in agitation while the second seemed to stiffen in response
to whatever the human was telling them.
The three Rebels at
the wreckage came back, the
Wookiee wrinkling its nose in disgust at
the smell it had to endure, to listen in on what the sixth Rebel was
telling. Then, to Veers alarm, they unholstered their blaster rifles
while the two aliens and the sixth Rebel walked back into the
What are they
Veers inquired, troubled. His worries rocketed toward the sky when
the Wookiee began to sniff the air and moaned something to the
humans. Veers knew what had happened; the giant furball had smelled
the Colonel’s scent.
The shorter Rebel to the Wookiee’s right inquired further. The
Wookiee howled lowly and pointed in the general direction of the
Imperial and to prove that something was hiding, the alien un-slung
the giant bowcaster from his back and fired a green energy bolt.
The blast was short
and dug into the dirt in front of the gnarled tree trunk. It
splattered dirt down upon Colonel Veers who refused to flinch to the
provoked attack. Another blast hit the tree trunk itself and
splinters flew everywhere.
nothing there.” The short Rebel argued and the Wookiee howled
in disagreement, shaking its chocolate furry head.
pressed himself against the tree trunk and listened to the movements
of the Rebels. They weren’t moving due to whatever the Wookiee
had been telling them. Veers concluded they were hoping he would
come out and reveal himself. He wasn’t that big of a fool as
they thought he was.
Then the sound of
the shuttle starting up alarmed him. His chance of escaping the
planet was leaving the area. He had to somehow stop it from going
He questioned to himself.A
mere blaster cannot bring down a shuttle that is designed to resist
hand and rifle blaster fire.
He didn’t know if the owners had closed the ramp yet. There
only one way he could find out.
He was about to
peek underneath the log when another blast from the bowcaster kept
him positioned up against the decaying organism. The Wookiee was
certainly persistent about someone hiding behind it.
whine of the shuttle drowned out any other noise as it began to lift
off from the ground. Veers pounded his fist into the earth beneath
him in anger as his ride left rapidly over the tree tops back in the
direction it had came. He only had one choice left to take now.
He would have to
venture toward the temples.
But first, he had
to get away from the party that the shuttle no doubt left behind to
deal with him. That meant, getting out of sight if the Rebels had
moved since the shuttle took off.
Veers began to
shift his weight to stand up and run for the forest when a ruby
blaster bolt whizzed past his temple narrowly missing by
millimeters. The close proximity of the shot was near enough for him
to feel the heat and singe the bandage he had wrapped around his
The closeness of
the shot would have been enough to freeze any normal being into
place. But Veers was not a normal being, his training did not allow
for Imperial soldiers to freeze in place when under attack. It
enforced spontaneous reaction into its trainees and veterans.
Instantaneous, Veers leaped to his feet and began running.
As soon as he
revealed himself, blaster fire chased him and tried to trace his
path ahead of him. But his training again enforced his path into a
zigzag and unpredictable. It also made him return fire knowing that
he had the slimmest chance of
hitting any of the hostile force.
Veers dived into
the trench the wrecked shuttle had created upon crashing, just as a
salvo of blaster and bowcaster fire whizzed overhead. Breathing
heavily, he raised his hand blaster over the edge
and sent a reply
without exposing himself. It was only meant to force the enemy to
keep their heads down and not really do any damage. One out of a
hundredth chance does that tactic ever actually hit a hostile.
Oh how Veers wished
he had some grenades to throw at the Rebels. He even wished he had
an entire legion of stormtroopers, Imperial walkers and Scout
walkers, and a squadron of TIE bombers strafing the ground from
overhead. He missed having all those resources and realized how much
he took them for granted.
He had always
thought he would have the Imperial war machine right behind him when
he went into battle. He had never considered the idea of being
stranded on a hostile world with only a blaster and himself to fight
with. He never had realized how much he relied on the stormtroopers
he led to keep him unharmed and breathing. How many of those
stormtroopers relied on him to keep them alive long enough so they
could live and fight
life can enlighten you of things you took for granted, at the
strangest and most dangerous moments.” Veers laughed
Imperial dog!” Yelled one of the Rebels as soon as the blaster
fire had died down long enough for the message to be clearly given.
“You are surrounded and outnumbered!”
Colonel Veers' thoughts dripped with sarcasm. His dirt covered back
pressed up against one side of the shoved dirt of the man-made
gorge. His hands danced over the blaster as they switched the
cartridge from empty to a full one. His blue eyes took
remaining cartridge and he knew he wouldn’t last for very much
longer once he ran out of ammunition. Sooner or later the Rebels
will realize he was out of ammo and begin making their way toward
now and the Alliance will promise that no harm shall come to you!”
The Rebel pleaded, his words marinated with deception and falsehood.
Although Veers had no idea how the Rebels would treat him, he did
know that once they found out his rank and how much authority he had
they would press for whatever information his mind kept locked away.
Even if that meant using torture, both physical and mental, to break
want to find that out. He’d rather suffer on the planet than
having to live with the guilt of betraying his Emperor and the New
Order through an interrogation. His loyalty to the Empire came first
over his own self-being. The Academy at Carida had taught and
that into him relentlessly until he either understood it or
it became programmed into him.
He also did not
want to have to go through the steps of an interrogation. He knew
what it was like to witness an Imperial questioning session;
did not want to imagine what Rebel interrogations, with crude
instruments and methods were like. Anything they did would be a lot
rougher than what the Imperials could ever do. He had heard stories
that the Rebels made Imperial interrogations look gentle in
Veers shuddered at
the idea of savage and uncivilized criminals torturing his body and
mind only for the knowledge he possessed and perhaps for their own
sadistic twisted pleasure. He remembered seeing footage of Rebel
insurgents uprising on some backwater world in the Outer Rim.
Imperial officers and stormtroopers unfortunate enough to be in the
path of the angry mob were either trampled to death, shot, or beaten
to a pulp (sometimes
resulting in death later).
“Come out! We
know you can’t last forever on just one blaster!” The
same Rebel hollered. Much as Veers loathes admitting it, the Rebel
He replied back and added three random and blind shots. He had no
intentions of leaving his hiding spot. Veers let his gaze wander
along his surroundings to see if there was anything useful in
helping him against the Rebels. There was nothing except
pieces of shrapnel the size of a door or smaller.
His intense blue
eyes stared at the pieces of wreckage, then with the determination
of an Imperial soldier bent on staying alive and defeating the
enemy, he began digging
away at a piece of metal with his blaster
and hands until he had it unburied. The piece was only about two
feet long and a foot and a half wide. And despite all the dirt and
smoke stains, it still shone with a metallic sheen.
Perfect for a
Blaster fire rang
overhead as Veers pulled his jacket off and then his issued uniform
shirt. He replaced the jacket back on his person and gripped the
shield tightly with one hand and with his
blaster-equipped hand he
raised his shirt over the edge, careful to keep his shield out of
sight, and began swinging it back and forth. The fabric of his shirt
hid his blaster from sight.
coming out!” He hollered
and tossed an empty clip a couple
feet ahead of him in hopes to fool the Rebels in thinking that he
had thrown away his blaster. “Hold your fire!”
choice Imperial!” The Rebel replied and Veers could
moving, most likely to accept theirprisoner.
Someone needed to teach them a little bit more about wisdom and
warfare. Veers intended on being that person to give that lesson.
The Colonel took a
deep breath, tucked his shirt partly into his belt, and leapt over
the edge of the trench with shield raised and blaster blazing. He
caught the two human Rebels by surprise, one went down with a blast
to his shoulder while the other ducked and rolled behind a tree. The
Wookiee could not be seen anywhere but Veers did not pause to find
out where the alien furball was.
The Imperial ran
for the forest, his makeshift shield protecting him from the
returning blaster fire. He could feel the impact of each shot and
the metal was beginning to emit heat that it was absorbing. Then a
shot from the bowcaster knocked him
sideways. Veers staggered on his
feet but kept himself upright and protected by the shield by
Once he was within
the relative safety of the forest, he dumped the shield and began
running harder. He didn’t pause to look
over his shoulder and
fire back or to see if the Rebels were coming after him. The only
thing that told him of the Rebels’ status was the occasional
shot of a blaster and a Wookiee howl as the alien took up the chase.
ran around tree trunks and prickly bushes. Branches scrapped and
tore at him as he fled from the crash site for the third time that
day. The first time was to escape the piranha beetles, the second
time was out of fear and the stench that reeked the area, and now he
ran from it again to get away from the Rebels.
It just was not his
day with that site.
A frustrated howl
told Veers that the Wookiee was giving up the chase. He didn’t
understand why but he really didn’t care. He wanted to get
away from the Rebels. Another howl, this Veers understood, echoed
behind him. Something, he realized, he must have done to get such a
threat from the creature.
never comes about.” Veers muttered as he pushed his way past
several vines hanging from a limp tree. He never stopped running,
not even after the Rebels had momentarily given up the chase. Not at
least until night fell and the temperature began to drop did he stop
walked another kilometer in the dimming light of dusk to find a
suitable place to spend the night. He found a toppled tree that
leaned up against a larger one. It was an ideal place to sleep. The
massive trunk of the dead tree was just large enough to be a roof
and dead vines from that tree drooped downward to about two feet
above the ground, partially hiding anything inside from view.
dare light a fire for fear of the Rebels discovering it from
overhead. Instead, he curled up into a ball beneath a pile of fallen
leaves and dead vines and scrunched his jacket closer around him and
tried to sleep the night away.