Galactic Tales: “A price paid in blood”

In Uncategorized on 2009-08-02 by Kyle Maxwell

The original concept for “A price paid in blood” came from a character concept I had worked out for a Rebel soldier character in SWG. And even that came from an adventure hook I read once in an old SWRPG sourcebook.

I ended up not using the character concept in SWG, but the basic idea of tagging along in an Alliance jail break and joining up stuck with me. When I read the prompt “Watch It” in the Star Wars Galaxies “Galactic Tales” biweekly writing challenge, things sort of coalesced for me from there. The following represents my entry for the competition beginning 2009-07-26.

I had gotten picked up the night before. No big deal, really, just some drunken bar fight. I sort of wish I could remember what started the fight, but when the local enforcers showed up, they ended it. So I sat there again, just like the times before. By this time, the guards had gotten to know me. In fact, one of them, a lanky fellow named Beric, came from my old neighborhood and occasionally joked with me about which sides of the locks we ended up on.

I shared my cell for a few days with another guy, some Bothan who’d come into the jail looking a little worse for the wear. Not that they’d worked him over, but hungry, thirsty, dirty, like maybe he’d spent a few days without getting a shower and a square meal. He didn’t have a lot to say about himself. After I asked him his name a few different ways, he finally just mumbled something that sounded like “Ears,” so that’s what I called him. Some of the other men told me he’d been arrested for landing without proper identification, which made him sound like a smuggler to all of us.

Ears seemed grateful for the way they’d treated him, actually. He mostly kept a little smirk, not quite a smile, on his face, but when somebody would ask him what he found so funny, the smirk would disappear and he’d get even quieter. I kept trying to get some friendly chatter going with him. He seemed to listen with a friendly grin, but still never said a whole lot.

So the night everything happened, I had the top bunk. Some light from outside through the window woke me up around oh-dark-thirty, but I couldn’t really make out where the light came from. Speeder moving in the sky, maybe? Then I heard shouting outside, an odd sort of whirring, and some girl screaming, “WATCH IT!”

The world got very bright and very loud for what seemed like no time at all, then very dark and quiet. Actually, the world didn’t get dark or quiet, but the explosion had that effect on me. Once the cell stopped spinning, I realized that not all of the building still stood. Down the hall, it looked like part of the ceiling and exterior wall just weren’t there anymore, replaced by dust and debris and ragged edges. Two or three oddly-armored men rappelled down into the confusion. They didn’t say anything but made odd gestures to each other, sort of like you see Stormtroopers do in the holovids.

The locks had disengaged and a few of the prisoners had tentatively opened them up, unsure whether they should try to make a run for it or whether they might get cut down in the crossfire that had already started.

A guard lay slumped just outside our cell. Without really thinking about it, I took his blaster, figuring he wouldn’t need it anymore. Ears moved quickly and silently, working his way down to the soldiers that had fought their way into the building.

Just then, Beric and three of his fellow guards came racing down, blasters drawn. One of the armored intruders shot, faster than I’d ever seen anyone shoot, and three of the guards fell. Beric crouched and drew a bead on Ears. Before I’d really thought it through, I just put the blaster to the back of his head.

As the rest of his body toppled forward, I had a quick memory flash of playing nunaball as kids, but then the soldiers grabbed me roughly and we got pulled up into the speeder, which actually turned out to be some old salvaged gunship like those clone troopers used back during the war.

Well, they grabbed me kind of roughly but not mean. I guess they found themselves in a bit of a hurry, really, since by this time the local garrison had responded. We could hear small arms fire outside and the whoosh of a blast door at the end of the corridor toward the guard station.

Once we got underway, a woman took a closer look at us both, then saluted Ears. “The Force was with us, Colonel.”

I blinked a few times. More had happened in the last ten minutes than I had realized, as this rapidly had turned into something more than a smuggler’s buddies breaking him out of the local lockup. “Um,” was about all I could manage.

Ears — the Colonel, I suppose — straightened up. “Thank you for your help. I didn’t quite expect that, but you’ve saved more lives than you realize.”

I shook my head. “He was just a good-for-nothing brother, like me. Still…”

Ears smiled oddly, almost respectfully, and shrugged. “A terrible price to pay. We’ll get you in touch with a recruiter, if you wish. Certainly, the Empire would take a much darker view of you now”

By this point, I knew. These people belonged to each other. They believed in something and that something drove them to attempt really crazy things, then succeed at them. Better than spending the rest of my life in and out of jail for drinking too much and getting a little rowdy. The firebird insignia on their sleeves and the gunship told me the rest of the story.

Once we landed next to their old YT-1300 transport to get off planet, I had my proposal all worked out in my head. Now to see if Ears — erm, the Colonel — would put in a good word for me after all.


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