Defection, Chapter 1
Rating: PG
Csillag

Author’s Note: It has taken a long time to come back to writing, but suddenly inspriation struck and the following story is the result. This story is part of Csillag's own personal canon and timeline. It references an incident that takes place in the story Snapped Out of His Terror and touches on Bouquet of Flowers as well as Rise of the House of Celchu. It also — eventually — dovetails into Prelude to Rebellion (which, upon reflection is a rather silly title, but hey ... I wrote it a long, LOOOOONG time ago). It also fulfills a penchant of mine for filling in gaps in the official canon and timeline by writing things that happen off-screen. Enjoy.


"You’re doing WHAT?!" Jerking his arm out of the vice-like grip of his fellow classmate, Biggs Darklighter, newly commissioned Imperial flight officer Tycho Celchu could not believe what he heard. He turned to face the other man with them. "And you're going along with this? Hobbie, you're insane. You are BOTH insane."

Biggs turned Tycho back around to face him. "I told you what those bastards did. I can't live with that on my conscience and still serve the Empire. As soon as we get aboard the Rand Ecliptic, we're gone. If you're the person I think you are, you'll do the same." He let go of Tycho's arm and headed back across the quad to the senior dormitory.

Hobbie Klivian had stayed silent during Biggs and Tycho's exchange, but spoke now with quiet vehemence. "Tych, you didn't see the face of that freighter pilot. He was no Rebel and that convoy was no threat to the Empire. Biggs knew that guy. He knew the guy's kids! He and his buddy, Luke, had worked on that hunk of junk for Biggs's dad. Can you blame him for reacting the way he did?"

Tycho recalled their final combat exercise before graduation and shivered involuntarily. He and Biggs and Hobbie were the top three pilots in their graduating class. Their flight instructor, Captain Fel, had assigned them to clean up duty after the battle, collecting battle debris and bringing it aboard their ship. Noting their somewhat poorly concealed displeasure, Fel explained to them that the battle itself was only the tip of the iceberg. Analyzing the debris would provide useful intelligence — IF it were interpreted properly. As their final lesson, he intended to teach them proper analysis.

None of them could have anticipated Biggs's reaction, though. Among the debris retrieved was the decapitated head of a freighter pilot frozen in a death scream and still encased in a leather podracing helmet. Reflecting on the image, Tycho realized that he probably would have been reduced to blubbering jelly too if it had been someone he knew. Hobbie had dragged him back to the landing bay where the debris was stored and showed him the piece of hull plating with Biggs's and Luke Skywalker's names on it. He shuddered again recalling how easy it had been for the cadet squadron to cut the convoy to pieces.

Returning to the present and shaking the images from his mind, he looked at the dour blond man. "But defecting? Hobbie, you know what happened when Security uncovered the rebel cell here at the academy. We were out there on that quad in formation and watched the firing squad execute them!"

"Don't think I didn't think about that, Tych. But Biggs is right. I won't go shooting down harmless trading convoys. Our briefing before that exercise didn't tell us they were innocent traders. And you didn't hear what Fel said to Biggs and me in the infirmary. I got the distinct impression that he wanted us to find out that it was a trading convoy that we'd hit. He practically told us to bolt." Tycho's jaw dropped. "What did he say?"

"I will never forget those words as long as I live, Tych. I was sitting on the floor in Biggs's room. Fel came in and sat down next to me. Biggs was all but catatonic, but Fel was definitely speaking to both of us. He said, 'I can't say, one way or the other, anything conclusive about the mission, but sometimes it is not up to us to question. There is always a bigger picture that mere soldiers cannot hope to comprehend. Some of it is due to strategy, some due to luck, both good and bad.

It's not easy to follow orders, and sometimes, you end up losing a bit of your humanity in the process. You have to build walls around your true self, protect it from harm and from insanity. Be a soldier or be a man. Remain above the battle, gentlemen. To get too close is to test the strength and integrity of those walls. Every soldier needs to decide whether to shore up those walls, or to let them fall. Both actions have their consequences.'
"

Hobbie looked back up at Tycho. "About a minute and a half after Fel left, Biggs stood up and walked out of that infirmary without saying a word."

"Sithspawn, Hobs. He was telling you to bolt. But why? He's a hero of the Empire."

"I don't know, Tych, but when we ship out on the Ecliptic we're going. You know what the Empire is capable of. Like Biggs says, if you're the person we think you are, you'll get out too. I wish you had been assigned with us."

"Me too, Hobs."

*****

[Three months later aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Dominator]

Tycho sat at the small desk in his quarters waiting for the holo-transmission to come through. His father owned the largest holo-broadcasting corporation on Alderaan, thus he was able to receive a real-time transmission for his birthday. He had gone home after graduation for his brief leave, but he missed his family and was looking forward to seeing them all — especially Nyiestra, his fiancée.

The holo projector on his desk lit up and a miniature Celchu family portrait came to life. "Happy Birthday, Son. Happy Birthday, Tych! How are you?"

The greetings and questions and answers tumbled over each other and Tycho laughed. "Thanks everyone. I'm fine."

"Darling, you look thin. Are you eating enough?" Rabrina Celchu asked.

"Yes, Mom. I'm eating enough. And believe me, I have to fight the other pilots off when your care packages get here. They can't get enough of your pastries. They told me they'd be your devoted slaves forever if you send more."

Rabrina grinned, "Of course, Dear, I'd be happy to."

"Thanks, Mom."

"What have you been doing, Son?"

Tycho knew that the transmission was being monitored as per standard procedure, but he didn't think he would get into trouble giving general information that was already being publicly reported. "We've been cleaning out pirate nests in the Fondor Colonies region. The Dominator has been credited with wiping out five different pirate nests. Rumor has it we'll be rewarded with shore leave on Commenor."

"That's wonderful. We're so proud of you, S ..."

Suddenly the projection disappeared. Tycho sat and waited for it to come back. This had happened before and he took great delight in teasing his father about the dropped signal when it came back.

While he waited, he thought back to his visit home after graduation. It had been so short, but he treasured every moment. Since his engagement to Nyiestra was official now, the restrictions against seeing her during the courtship negotiations were lifted. His mother had invited Nyiestra for tea and Tycho had begged his mother to use the private family tea dishes and to tell Nyiestra the story she used to tell him and Mia and Skoloc. She had smiled. "Yes, now that she is going to be joining our family, I think it would be alright to tell her."

Moving on to another memory, he recalled walking into his father's office to drive him home after work. His father was just finishing up a meeting. "You know what to do with these, Rig," his father was saying as he handed the man a box.

"Yes. They'll be safe in the vault. I'll be back in a couple of weeks and let you know how the rest of our transactions went." He headed for the door nodding to Tycho on his way out.

"What was that about, Dad?"

"Rig Milson is the comptroller of the company, Tycho. He's taking current backups of our family and business records to our offices on Coruscant ..." he paused for a moment."I just can't get used to calling Coruscant Imperial Center," he said shaking his head.

"Come on, Son. Your mother is waiting. Let's go home."

Tycho realized he had been sitting at his desk for over twenty minutes. It had never taken this long for a holo-transmission to come back. Making his way to the communications center he asked the duty officer what had happened.

"I don't know, Celchu. The problem wasn't on our end. I'll let you know when we get the transmission back though."

"Thanks."

*****

Tycho was sitting in the pilots' ready room with the other men in his squadron, but he was lost in thought. He was puzzled by the lack of any message from home since the Holonet connection crashed a few days before. He thought it odd, with all he knew of the technical side of the family business, to go quiet so long. Even if the main Holocomm repeater had gone down at the edge of the Alderaan system, they should have sent some sort of message by now.

"Tycho, when is your mom's next care package getting here?"

Ranik Zillan, Tycho's wingman in the TIE squadron he'd been assigned to looked over at him hopefully. "Her sweet rolls are incredible. If she sends you enough and you sell them on the ship, you could retire a wealthy man in a year. I'd be happy to be your sales agent — for a small share of the goodies." He winked and Tycho laughed.

He and Ranik were acquaintances at the academy on Prefsbelt IV, but had been in different cadet corps. Since being assigned to the Dominator as wingmates, they had begun to develop a strong friendship.

"I don't know when the next package will get here, but when I talked to my family a couple of days ago, I did tell her what a hit her pastries were. I know my mother. She loves to bake so she'll be baking up a storm. We can expect a big batch."

"MMMMMMMMMMMMM. Can't wait."

Tycho had drifted back to his thoughts of home when he was startled out of his reverie by the ship's All-call signal. "Attention all personnel. This is the Captain. I have an announcement. We have just been informed that the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the planet Alderaan."

"No! It's not true!" Tycho had bolted out of his seat shouting at speaker on the wall. "It's a lie ... They can't be dead! They can't be!"

The room had erupted with outraged shouting, but not loudly enough to drown out Tycho's outburst. Ranik jumped to his side and pushed him back down. "Quiet, Tycho!"

"Rebel forces illegally and clandestinely stored weapons of mass destruction on Alderaan. Alderaan was disarmed by treaty. These criminals violated the treaty. They detonated the weapons, which resulted in a chain reaction and complete destruction of the planet. The Emperor has sworn that this vicious, unprovoked act of aggression against the galaxy will be answered in kind. All forces will be notified as soon as the Rebel base has been located. We will destroy every Rebel and bring order back to the galaxy."

The pilots continued their loud and angry discussion of the captain's announcement, occasionally glancing back at Tycho and Ranik.

Oblivious to his surroundings, tears streaming down his face but speaking more quietly now, Tycho gripped Ranik's arm. "The Alliance couldn't possibly have destroyed Alderaan."

"Shut up, Tycho. You're talking treason."

"But Ranik ..." he whispered.

"I know, Tych. But now is NOT the time to say that," he whispered back. More loudly he said to the others, "His whole family were on Alderaan. I'm taking him to the infirmary. He needs a sedative."

Tycho and Ranik left the ready room, but instead of the infirmary they returned to their quarters. He sank onto his bunk. After a long silence, he looked up at his wingman and friend. "I can't believe it. Mom, Dad, Nyiestra. All of them dead," he said his voice choked with grief.

Ranik clasped his shoulder in a gesture of comfort. "I'm so sorry, Tycho." He didn't know what else to say.

Tycho brushed the tears from his face. "The Alliance didn't do this, Ran. I know they didn't. They wouldn't. It was an open secret that Alderaan was sending funds to the Alliance somehow."

Ranik bent down and gripped Tycho's arms. "Will you stop saying stuff like that? It's treason. Look, Tycho. You know it's true and I know it's true, but saying it on this ship at this time will do nothing but get you thrown in the brig and me along with you."

Tycho took a breath and visibly took himself in hand. "I'm sorry, Ran. I'll keep my mouth shut."

Ran looked at his face and could see that Tycho had made his mind up about something. "What are you thinking, Tych?"

"Nothing. You were right. It's better for me to keep my mouth shut. Hopefully, they'll just pass my outburst in the ready room off to being distraught over my family." He flopped back on his bunk. "Go back and tell the others that the sedative knocked me out. I'll be alright."

"Are you sure you'll be okay?"

"Yeah."

"Okay, Tych. I'll see you later."

After Ranik left their quarters Tycho sat up again, grief and fury warring inside him. I won't stay here. Biggs and Hobbie were right. The Empire killed Alderaan. They murdered Mom, Dad, Skoloc, Mia, and Nyiestra. He let out a choked sob. I will not wear this uniform one minute longer than I absolutely have to. If we still get shore leave at Commenor, that will be my chance. I'm getting out. I'll find the Alliance. Then the Empire will pay for what they've done.

*****

The Dominator had been ordered to Dantooine based on information from a high ranking prisoner. The information indicated that a Rebel base was located on the planet. No less than five fully armed assault shuttles were launched carrying ground troops to overrun the base and capture any and all Rebels they found. Tycho's squadron, the Vengers, was among those flying cover for the assault shuttles.

He felt sick to his stomach. He hoped that Biggs and Hobbie had made it to the Alliance, but quailed at the thought that he might have to shoot them down. The Vengers were next to launch. He took a deep breath and concentrated on what Captain Fel had taught them. "Situational awareness, cadets, begins in the hangar or in the landing bay if your squadron is posted to a capital ship. You must always know where you are in relation to the ships around you. Space is limited, particularly in a landing bay. One slip and you could be responsible for the destruction of the entire fighter complement of your ship."

Tycho adjusted the black helmet, settled himself in his seat strapping himself in securely and double checked all of his instruments before looking around the hangar bay to make sure his ship was clear, then followed Ranik out through the magcon shield.

Doing an immediate visual sweep, followed by an instrument scan, indicated to Tycho that only the Imperial assault force was in the vicinity. Breathing a brief sigh of relief he flipped the comm. switch to his wingman's private frequency. "There's no one here, Venger Five."

Ranik's voice crackled back in his helmet speaker. "Yah. The assault shuttles just reported that the base down there is deserted, but they seem to have left in a hurry. Come on, Six. Let's go down there and take a look."

The two TIE's dove after the rest of the squadron to complete the sweep of the sector they'd been assigned.

*****

[Two weeks later on Commenor]

Venger squadron sat at a large table in the Verraxian Vortex. Several pitchers of Lomin-ale had already been consumed, facilitating the retelling of various engagements the squadron had been involved in.

Unlike his squadronmates, Tycho had been nursing a single tankard of ale all evening. He'd been catching the bartender's eye periodically for the last hour. He got up and headed toward the back of the room.

"Where are you going, Tych?"

He turned back, looking directly at Ranik. "I'm going to tell the bartender to send over another round."

"Atta boy, Tych."

"Thanks, kid."

He turned, matching actions to words. "Send another round over to that table," he said putting credits down on the counter. Then lowering his voice, he asked the bartender, "Is there a back way out of here?"

Looking intently at him for a moment, the grizzled man jerked his head toward the corridor in the back of the room.

"Thanks." He turned around coming face to face with Ranik.

"What do you think you're doing, Tych?"

"Don't, Ran. Don't stop me."

Ranik took a deep breath and held it for a moment. Letting it out slowly, he nodded. "Okay, go Tych. Good luck. I hope you make it." He turned back to the bar to pick up the pitchers of lomin-ale.

One of the merrily drunken pilots, noticing that Tycho wasn't following Ranik back, wondered aloud "Hey, Ran. Where's Tycho going?" as he grabbed one pitcher of ale out of Ranik's hand.

"Watch it, Whip. I want to drink the ale, not wear it." Looking absently at his departing friend he waved his hand dismissively. "He's going to the Little Pilots' Room."

Tycho heard the pilots' table erupt in laughter and nodded thankfully to Ranik before he turned back to the corridor.

The bartender followed him into the storeroom."What is it you want, pal?"

Figuring that the truth was his only option, he said, "I need to get out of here and off-planet as soon as possible."

"Your ship is leaving soon. Go back aboard."

"No, you don't understand. I need to get away from my ship. I'm from Alderaan. You've heard what happened to Alderaan, haven't you?"

"Yeah. The Rebels blew it up."

"No, they didn't. Only the Empire has the power to blow away a planet. That was MY planet. MY home. MY family! I won't stay with the Empire. Help me, please?

"Your family was on Alderaan?"

Tycho nodded.

"Hmmm. The first thing we have to do is get you out of that uniform. Imperial black will be a little conspicuous where we're going. Come with me."

*****

Perill Hannak called Tycho over to the window of the small apartment. "I thought you said Zillan wouldn't sell you out."

Hannak was the Alliance contact the bartender had turned him over to.

"He wouldn't," Tycho said looking around the edge of the window while keeping himself hidden from view as much as he could. Ranik was standing just outside the bar they'd been in the day before with his chin lowered as if in deep thought. "He's alone. Let me go talk to him."

"Are you crazy? Even if he wouldn't sell you out ... which I doubt, you can't think he's not as obvious as a boil on a rancor's butt in that slick black uniform. Shore Security is all over the place. If they spot the two of you together, you're both history, Flyboy."

"Please? I owe him."

Hannak nodded, but he drew his blaster and held it ready. "Alright. But if I see a single Imp, I'll assume it's a trap. Zillan gets it right between the eyes."

"I understand."

He waited till Ranik was looking the other way, then quickly stepped outside and went a couple of hundred meters down the street and crossed it before approaching his former wingman. "Ran. What are you doing here?"

Startled, Ranik spun around. "Tych! Man, it's good to see you! I was hoping you hadn't left yet."

"You were looking for me? This better not be a trap or we're both dead."

"No. I wasn't looking for you specifically. Listen Tych," he had lowered his voice as he clasped Tycho's arm. "I've been thinking about what you said back on the ship. You are right. There is no possible way, the Rebels could have blown up Alderaan. I thought about my parents back on Raltiir. And I remember the look on your face when the captain made the All-call announcement about Alderaan. For all we know, Raltiir could be next. I couldn't just sit back and do nothing."

Hobbie's from Raltiir, Tycho thought to himself as Ranik continued. "I went back to Vortex and tried to get the bartender to tell me where you'd gone, but he wouldn't tell me anything. I was just trying to figure out some other way to get in contact with the Alliance. I want to join them too."

Hobs would want me to help him if I could. "We can't stay out here in the street, Ran. You stick out like a sore thumb."

Ranik laughed. "Yeah. I notice you've changed tailors."

Tycho looked down at himself and grinned. He was kitted out in some of Hannak's clothes; dusty brown pants, a faded blue shirt, and a leather jacket that looked as if it had been dragged along behind a swoop bike. "Come on, Ran. I'll introduce you to my tailor."

The underground operative opened the door as they approached. "It's okay, Perill. He wants to go to the Alliance too."

Hannak rolled his eyes. "Alright, but moving two of you will make it that much harder."

Another member of the local underground came in quickly behind them. "Who's he?" he asked jerking his thumb at Ranik.

"Ranik Zillan. Celchu's wingman. He's decided to come along too."

"Oh, great."

*****

"Hey, Scerri. Not bad. They don't look a thing like a couple of Imp flyboys on the run."

The woman who had been putting the finishing touches on Ranik's face turned and grinned at Hannak. "That's the general idea."

Ranik's jaw line had been made to appear wider using plastine cheek pads inside his mouth. His eyes were muddy brown with the addition of contact lenses and his complexion sallow with the pigment Scerri had applied. His black uniform had been replaced with faded work pants and a gray shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbow and a torn breast pocket.

Tycho had also undergone a transformation. Nothing could be done about the length of his regulation cut hair, but Scerri had colored his hair dark brown and put something on it to make it curl tightly. She had also widened his nose using cosmetic putty and darkened his skin tone several shades with another pigment.

"Alright. Here's the deal boys," Hannak said flopping into an armchair. "We figure nobody will pay attention to a beat up old freighter going on its regular Commenor to Tynna run. The captain of the No Shame owes me a favor, but not big enough to cover two of you for a free ride. You'll be working your passage as crew. We're due at the spaceport in a couple of hours."

*****

"Here it is, boys. Docking bay 38."

Hannak led the way into the docking bay. A Corellian Engineering Corporation HWK freighter that had not been new back in the days of the Old Republic, stood in the bay with its cargo doors open. Heavy duty cargo loader droids carried sacks and crates into the hold from the palettes lining the walls of the bay.

"Sithspit, Hannak. No Shame is a good name for this heap. The captain must have 'No Shame' to fly it."

"Shut up, Ran." Tycho smacked his friend's arm.

"It's older than my great-grandmother Tych," he said rubbing his arm. "Are you sure it can fly, Hannak?"

"It can be your great-grandmother, kid. As long as it gets you off this rock," Hannak retorted.

"Hey, Jimmin." Hannak waved his arm to attract the attention of the man who was supervising the loading. "These are the boys I was telling you about," he said as the man approached.

He was about 1.6 meters tall with shoulder length dull brown hair, going gray, parted in the middle, but pulled back into a somewhat greasy looking ponytail. "We got a little problem, Hannak."

"What is it, Jim?"

"M' navcomp didn't pass the safety inspection. Commenor Control won't let us lift 'til it does. Too much traffic up there. They don't believe I could thread that needle with m' eyes closed. Problem is ... techs can't get here till the day after tomorrow."

Hannak groaned, but Tycho interrupted what he was about to say. "Excuse me, sir." Hannak stifled a snort. No one had ever called Jimmin 'Sir'.

"Let me take a look at it, Sir. Ran and I know quite a bit about navigation and nav computers." He had enough sense not to say just how they knew it, but he was well aware that the longer they stayed on Commenor the greater the danger that they'd be found. Their shore leave ended at 18:00 hours today. Being AWOL and hauled in by Shore Security was not in his plans.

Jimmin looked them up and down, then turned to Hannak with a questioning look. "Yeah, Jim. They know what they're doing. And the sooner they're outta my hair, the happier I'll be."

"Okay, boys. Go to it. I gotta finish gettin' the cargo loaded and track down them inspectors again. Think you can be done in a coupla hours?"

Hannak held Tycho's arm for a moment. "They'll be there in a minute, Jimm."

Jimmin turned and headed back to the ship and Hannak clasped Ranik on the shoulder pulling the two young pilots into a huddle. "Listen," he said quietly. "You're good kids and the Alliance can definitely use your talents. But only if you make it to the Alliance. Get used to using the names on the ident cards I gave you. Jimmin knows more or less who and what you are and he won't give you away. But don't go calling him 'sir' where other people can hear you. And lose that military posture. There's no telling how long you'll be on Tynna before the Alliance brings you in from the cold. Imp eyes and spies are everywhere. Don't give yourselves away."

Ranik and Tycho's eyes widened as Hannak spoke. Swallowing nervously, they nodded. "You're right, Hannak. Thanks. We'll be careful."

Hannak smiled and shook hands with both of them. "Good luck boys. Clear skies and stick it to the Emperor."

Giving them a jaunty salute from the entrance to the docking bay, he turned and disappeared out the door.

Tycho looked after him for a moment, then tugged Ranik's sleeve. "Come on, Ran. Let's get to work."

*****

"Ra'ik, y' go' thoth numberth 'et?" The access panel screws Tycho held between his lips rendered him incomprehensible.

Ranik looked up from another console screen and twisted around. "What?" Seeing the panel screws in Tycho's mouth, he grinned. "Sorry, Tych. I didn't quite catch what you said."

Tycho spit the screws into his hand. "I said, have you got those numbers yet? I'm done with the wire splice, but I want to cross-check the navcomp's calculations with my own on that datapad. You know the old saying 'calculate twice, get lost none-ce'."

"No, I can't say as I've ever heard that before. Finish putting the screws back in the panel and I'll feed you the numbers."

Working quickly, Tycho finished with the access panel, then entered the numbers Ranik read off on the keypad. He punched the execute key, then reached for the spare datapad and entered the navigation coordinates again and began his own calculations.

"Damn, Tycho. I wish I had your memory. I'm running the calculations over here too, but I've had to refer to the database entry three times."

Grinning wickedly Tycho drawled, "Six hours in a shuttle with an angry General is a long time, Ran."

"Yeah, yeah," Ranik replied, "I know, I should've learned my lesson after getting stranded shuttling that dork to Fest, but man, it was almost worth the dressing down to watch him lose his lunch when we flew through the asteroid belt."

He sighed heavily."You're never going to let me live that down, are you?"

Saved from answering by the chime of the navcomp signaling the completion of the calculations, Tycho checked the results on the screen against those on the pad. "Mine checks. Let's see yours." He compared the calculations on Ran's datapad and looked back up at his friend. "Yours checks too. Good job, Ran."

Both young men were standing and stretching the kinks out of their backs when Jimmin came into the cockpit with the inspector in tow. "Didja finish?"

"Yah, Jimmin," Tycho answered consciously drawling. "We ran the numbers for our course on the 'comp an' cross-checked on th' pads." He handed Jimmin the two datapads.

Jimmin glanced at the pad screens then over to the navcomp. "Not bad, boys. Numbers check to twenny five decimal places. Close 'nuff fer gov'ment work," he said handing the pads to the inspector and winking at the two of them.

The inspector let out a guffaw. "Alright, Jimmin. Let me get this inspection done since you're in such an all-fired hurry to get out of here."

"Come on, boys. Let's get some caf in the galley while Dannyn earns his pension."

*****

Half an hour later, Dannyn had completed his inspection. "Jimmin, I know that navcomp is the same old piece of junk I looked at this morning, but it works twice as fast as my calibration comp. How did you do that?"

Jimmin grinned. "Ask m' new crewmen, the Braccat brothers. I wus lucky to find them. They wus headin' to Tynna anyway so I said I'd give 'em a ride. T' next scheduled transport don't go for a week."

"Are you sure you don't want to stay here and come to work for me? The Inspection Service is always looking for qualified people and you two definitely qualify."

"No thanks. Our cousin's got jobs lined up for us on Tynna, but thanks anyhow. If we ever get back this way, we'll look you up," Ranik said getting into his role.

"Okay boys. Clear skies, Jimmin." He walked down the boarding ramp.

"See ya in a coupla weeks, Dannyn," Jimmin called after him then closed the hatch. "Come on up front, boys and strap in."

"Commenor Control, this is the No Shame requesting clearance for departure."

Tych noticed that Jimmin's grammar and speech patterns improved considerably when he was in official communication representing his ship. He smiled at the inconsistency.

"No Shame, this is Commenor Control. You are cleared to depart. Clear skies."

"Thanks, Commenor Control. See you in a couple of weeks."

And the No Shame roared off into space.

To Part 2


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