Defection, Part 2
[Tynna, two weeks later]
"Thanks for helping me 'n the droids reload the ship, boys. I’m sorry I can't take ye to the Alliance m'self. I know Hannak tol' ya that y'd be able t' get to the Alliance from here, but the Imps is lookin' for them ever'where. They know who y' are. They'll check you out an' when they're ready, they'll contact you." He clapped them both on the shoulder. "Ye got those ident cards Hannak made for ye's? Good. Yer gonna need 'em." He stood up from the table in the ship's galley. "I'm gonna take you to a buddy o' mine who can find jobs for ye."
Tycho and Ranik got up and followed him. "Jobs, Jimmin?"
"Yeah. If y' want t' eat, that is."
They looked at each other dubiously. "Jimmin, we're pilots. Wouldn't we need to stay on-planet so the Alliance can contact us?"
"Don't worry, boys. Rellet'll find something for you. Come on."
"So. You boys are pilots." Jimmin's friend, Rellet, looked them up and down.
"Yessi… Yeah. We can fly pretty much anything you got."
"And they're damn good navigators too, Rel."
"Hmmm. Well your timing's good anyway. I need to get those supplies in the warehouse out to the North Cape mining platform and the cargo jockeys I had quit on me just last week."
"They're gonna need a place to stay and mebbe a little advance on their pay, Rel."
"Alright, Jim. I'll take care of it. You heading back to Commenor now?"
"Yeah. Any messages?"
"Yah. Tell Perill the bio-control units he's been sending through are working out well. Keep 'em coming."
"Will do. See you around, boys." Jimmin shook hands with Tycho and Ranik and left.
"Let's see your ident cards." The boys handed him the false ID's and he looked them over. "Daggan and Drannen Braccat. Brothers. You don't look much like brothers, but then I don't look much like mine," he said with an indecipherable grin.
Tycho and Ranik looked at each other puzzled and wondering what Rellet was talking about.
"You've met him."
"Perill Hannak." He held the boys' ident cards up in salute. "Your ID's. Perill was just letting me know it's been too long since we've seen each other." He grinned at the dumbfounded looks on their faces. "I'll hang onto these till for a while till I get your work permits organized." He started ushering them to the door. "Come on. I'll take you to a place you can stay. The owner's a friend of mine. Being brothers, you won't mind bunking together, will you?" He winked.
"Uh ... no. We're used to it."
"Not too bad, huh Tych. Bigger than our quarters on the Dominator." Ranik put his arms across the back of the couch he sat on. "We don't have to use a communal 'fresher and we even get home cooked meals." He stopped when he saw Tycho halt his thorough inspection of the room and bow his head. "Oh, Tycho. I'm so sorry. That was very thoughtless of me." "It's okay, Ran." He took a deep breath. "Come on. Rellet said to meet him back at the office at sundown."
"Good evening, Mistress Jidelle," they called to their landlady who was in her front room reading. "We're meeting Rellet for dinner. Would you like to join us?"
"Oh. Thank you boys." She smiled. "I'm sorry, I can't this evening. I'm waiting for a call from my daughter. She's out at the North Cape mining platform. She's a drilling engineer and supervisor out there."
"We're supposed to fly supplies out tomorrow. Can we take anything out there for her from you? A care package, maybe?" Tycho offered.
"That's so kind of you. Yes, I'll have something ready in the morning." She patted Tycho on the arm. "Tell Rellet to take you to Parkeesa's. They have the best shellfish stew in the entire city of Lutris."
"Thanks. We'll do that."
"Good night, boys. Have a good time." She smiled till the door closed behind them, then she turned and went upstairs.
"Here are your ident cards, and here's the advance I promised Jim you'd get," Rellet said handing Tycho and Ranik their cards and some credits. "I'm covering your rent for the first month, but don't forget to pay Lissaan next month. She is a good friend of mine, and I knew she had a vacancy in her place, but nothing in life is free."
"Sure, Rellet. We understand. Listen, thanks. You've been great."
They were sitting and enjoying a round of lomin-ale after the delicious seafood stew they'd eaten and were beginning to relax.
"What time do you want us to be at the warehouse, Rellet?" Tycho asked.
"Not at the warehouse, Daggan. You need to pick up the transport at the airfield and fly it to the warehouse. There's a landing area behind the warehouse for loading. I'll drive you out to the airfield and ride with you this first time. Be ready at 8:00 hours."
"Come on, Tycho. Rellet is going to be outside in five minutes."
"Be right there, Ran." He was kneeling in front of the dresser, but Ranik could not see what he was doing. "Okay, let's go."
"What were you doing, Tych?" Ranik asked as they clattered noisily down the stairs.
"Nothing, Ran. Good morning, Mistress Jidelle. Is that the package for your daughter?"
Their landlady came out of the front room holding a box. "Yes, Daggan, dear. Thank you so much for taking it out to her. She forgot one of her sweaters the last time she came home. I put a batch of her favorite sweet rolls in too. She likes to share them with her crew." She looked the boys up and down. "Are you sure you're dressed warmly enough? It is so cold and windy out on that platform. I hope Rellet remembered to tell you that."
"Yes, Mistress Jidelle," Ranik answered. "But he says he's got thermal coveralls for us at the warehouse so we'll be fine."
"Good. Good. Now you be careful and I'll see you both tomorrow night."
"What's that you have there, Daggan?" Rellet gestured toward the box as Tycho got into the speeder.
"Mistress Jidelle's daughter left her sweater here the last time she was home. We're just returning it and some sweet rolls she made for her daughter to share with the crew." Tycho's face went still for a few moments.
Rellet caught the expression on Tycho's face, but said nothing. He smiled. "Rissia's the smartest mining engineer I've ever known, and a damn good pilot too, but she can't supervise the platform and fly the supply shuttle at the same time. Still ... one of these days I know she's gonna catch a spark in her afterburners and head for the stars." The speeder stopped next to a hangar and the three men got out. "I'll introduce you when we get to the mining platform."
"That was some very impressive flying yesterday, Daggan." Rellet looked over at the taller of the two young men he'd taken under his wing. "Those gales at the North Cape blow up out of nowhere." The speeder stopped in front of the boarding house and the three men headed up the walk. "Rissia was impressed too. She thought for sure we'd have to turn back, but you parked cargo hauler on the landing pad like it was an Ithorian orchid blossom floating in a tropical garden pool."
"Oh, that was nothing, Rellet. You should have seen what he did at ..." Ranik stopped at the quelling look on Tycho's face.
"Well, we didn't want to disappoint her mother and not deliver her sweater. That wind out there is cold." Tycho grinned disarmingly. "Mission accomplished, Mistress Jidelle. Your daughter has her sweater back," he said to the woman who had opened the front door and greeted them.
"And the sweet rolls disappeared almost before she could get them out of the box," Ranik chimed in. "She managed to save a couple and offered them to us. They were delicious!"
She laughed delightedly. "Thank you, boys, I'm glad you're home safely. Are you hungry?" She ushered them into the front hall.
"No. Thank you, Ma'am. We're just tired. I'm going to take a hot shower and hit my bunk."
"Yeah," Ranik said quickly. "Me too."
Rellet waited till the two young men had closed the door to their room at the top of the stairs then turned to the woman. "Well?"
"What did you do that for, Tycho? I'm starving." He watched Tycho systematically scan the room. "What are you looking for, Tych?"
"Nothing, Ran. You go hit the shower first."
Not understanding, but trusting his friend he shrugged. "Okay, Tych."
He waited till he heard the water running, then scanned the room again. Yes. He walked over to the dresser. The hair he'd secured across the edge of the drawer with a bit of saliva was gone. They've tossed the room.
He dropped onto the couch with a satisfied smile and waited for his turn in the shower.
[Tynna, eight months later]
"Tycho. How long do we have to wait for the Alliance Security people to come and clear us? The Rebellion will be over by the time they decide we're not spies. I didn't leave the Dominator to end up hauling supplies to mining platforms and ore processing plants."
The two young men were flying back from their latest run to the western ore processing plant. It was their first chance to talk privately for several days. The last five runs they'd made to the two plants Rellet supplied had included crew rotations. Tycho had warned Ranik months ago not to refer to their status as refugees from the Empire and potential Alliance recruits when anyone else was present.
"I know, Ran. I'm getting pretty restless too. I haven't forgotten what I owe the Empire and I have every intention of paying with interest." He scanned the instrument panel in the cockpit of the cargo hauler. "That pressure valve reading is too high, Ran. Remind me to have Rellet tell the maintenance crew give this heap an overhaul when we get back. I don't want to have to do it myself in the middle of nowhere."
Glancing up at the gauges over the front viewports he noted that the third rivet head from the right still had the slightly different reflective coating from the other rivet heads. You know what I owe the Empire too, he thought. I hope you'll let me start paying it back soon.
"I hope those guys fix that pressure valve. I'm not taking off tomorrow till they do even for double pay."
"They'll fix it, Tych. They know better than to cross Rellet by messing up his delivery schedule. Come on. Aunt Liss promised us nerf steaks for dinner."
"I'm coming. I could eat a whole side of nerf tonight."
"Not if I get to it first."
Ranik opened the door to their room and stopped. "Rissia. What ... ?" He reached for his blaster as he saw her eyes move to his right, but suddenly the door slammed into him and the next thing he knew the blaster had been knocked out of his hand and his left arm was locked in a vice grip behind his back.
Tycho had started to go for his blaster as well, but then raised both hands and slowly stepped forward. "Relax, Ran. It's okay. We're safe. This is what we've been waiting for."
Ranik stopped struggling and noticed the others in the room. Rellet Hannak, Lissaan Jidelle, Rissia Jidelle, a swarthy black-haired male who had his blaster trained on Tycho, and the red-headed green-eyed female who had hold of Ranik moved back into the apartment. Come in, Tycho. Ranik," Rellet said beckoning to them. "It's good to finally call you by your real names."
"I'm sorry about that," the red-head said as she released Ranik. "I hope I didn't hurt you."
He rubbed his wrist where she'd held it in a surprisingly strong grip. "No, I think I'll still be able to use it," he answered ruefully.
"She sometimes doesn't know her own strength, Ranik," the swarthy male said as he holstered his blaster. "I'm M'dran Klist and she's Vidara Jadan. We're with the Alliance."
Tycho smiled lowering his hands. "I guess we must have checked out."
Ranik turned to him. "Checked out? Nobody's interviewed us or evaluated our flying ski ... " He stopped and slapped his forehead when Rellet and Tycho started chuckling. "How thick could I be?" he said shaking his head.
"They had our room and the cockpit of the cargo hauler bugged from day one, Ran. And Mistress Jidelle ... Sorry. Aunt Liss." He nodded his head toward Lissan Jidelle. "She tossed our room when we flew out to North Cape the first time."
"And that landing in a force five gale on the platform told us more than your academy records ever would have – although they're very impressive too." Rissia Jidelle took a step toward the two young men. "I would have turned back at a force three."
Lissaan Jidelle stepped up and gently patted their arms. "I'm so sorry, Ranik. Tycho. We had to be sure. The Empire has so many spies and we are so vulnerable. But we're determined. The Empire will not succeed." She smiled. "Especially if we have your help."
"Jimmin told me how you repaired his navcomp too. VERY impressive, boys." Rellet Hannak cleared his throat. "Now that we have that cleared up ... It's time for you boys to move on. M'dran and Vidara are here to take you to your next stop. Rissia will be going with you. I received a message from Alliance Command. She's needed to scout for new locations for bases. The Imps are spotting us too easily."
"They may not be too happy when they hear where I think we ought to be looking." She grinned. "Make sure they issue you thermal uniforms, boys."
"Come back downstairs, everyone. Let's have a good hot meal before you go."
None of them could argue with that.
To Part 1 | To Part 3
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