Star Wars: X-Wing:
Lusankya Chapter Twelve
Authors Warning: This fic is rated R for heavy graphic violence, torture, and imprisonment.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Star Wars characters except those of Akiba Muune, Lieutenant Dysune Tayib, and Captain Falco Avin. All other characters belong to Lucasfilm and their respective authors. I am not making a profit out of this story, it is only written for fans to enjoy.
Akrit'tar was not really a habitable world. In many ways, it was a lot like Kessel, except it was a total garrison and fortress. Imperials controlled the planet and the atmosphere contained barely enough oxygen that in order to move far, one had to wear masks so not to die of asphyxiation.
This was the barren home for convicts, political prisoners, and all sorts of denizens who weren't sent to Kessel. This was the private holding pen of the Empire. Kessel was used by everyone so sending Tycho Celchu there wouldn't be too wise. Keeping him here at Akirt'tar was another story it was perfect and the Rebels weren't able to penetrate it's tight security.
Its prisoners lived in confinement, only allowed out to work in digging tunnels. There were no precious metals or any type of refined ore in this planet ... they were just digging tunnels until they died and were buried in those tunnels. They were digging their own graves.
So when Tycho felt the first stirrings of consciousness, he heard the murmurings of conversations all around him. His hearing still wasn't acute enough to pick out what people were saying, but as a gradual awareness surrounded him, he realized that he wasn't on Lusankya anymore. The gravity here felt different, a bit heavier ...
He was also aware that there was something wet sponged on his forehead. He welcomed its cool presence, but after all those days, months he didn't know how long he was in Iceheart's torture chambers in confinement and under torture probes, he tensed against the touch.
"It's all right, I'm not hurting you," a voice whispered above him and the sponging continued.
Tycho tried to place the voice, but couldn't. He could feel water drip down the side of his face and through his hair and while it did feel good, he still couldn't shake the sense that something was wrong. He slowly opened his eyes and blinked them a few times, trying to see when he realized that he was in near absolute darkness.
"I won't hurt you," the voice said again and this time, Tycho could hear a familiar accent in the voice. It sounded like something was being sucked into a water ventilator only to be pushed back out at the same time. There were only two species in the whole galaxy with that kind of accent. Mon Calamarians and Quarrens.
"You're ..." he tried to say, but his throat and lips wouldn't cooperate with him.
"Here," the voice said again before cup was placed near his lip and tilted. Tycho sucked greedily at the water, not caring if it tasted sour or had bits of dirt in it. He swallowed a bit painfully and drank more of the filthy water. "Not too fast ..." the voice chided him gently, "it's not the best, but it's all we've got."
Finally, when he felt his throat was wet enough he tried to speak again. "You're ... Mon Cal or Quarren, aren't you?"
The sponging immediately stopped and Tycho heard the rustling of fabric against the floor he was lying on. "How do you know?" the voice asked, this time warily.
The brief image of Admiral Ackbar floated up to his mind and a brief smile formed on his lips. "One of the commanders of the Rebel Fleet is a Mon Cal. He's got an accent you can't forget."
"Admiral Ackbar?" the voice asked.
"Yeah ..." Tycho tried to move, but it was painful. He blinked in surprise as the sponging started again. "Why ..."
"I trust you. It's just Ackbar's one of my heroes. I've heard so much about him and his service to the Rebellion that it just lifts my heart when there's news of his exploits that reach here."
Tycho still didn't know if he could trust the Mon Calamari, he was sure it was a Mon Cal because as far as he knew, Quarrens didn't praise that much about Ackbar though most respected him. The only Quarren he knew that would most likely praise Ackbar was Nrin, and Nrin was back on Home One.
As he searched his fuzzy memories, he knew that he had been captured, but the last few, was it days or weeks or even hours, those were so fuzzy ... He remembered ...
"Lusankya," he whispered as a flash of cold eyes stared at him, one molten red the other icy blue. "Iceheart ..."
The sponging immediately stopped and there was a slight shift that was a harsh scraping sound in his ears. "Lusankya?! You were at Lusankya?!"
"I ..." Tycho hesitated before his squeezed his eyes shut against the onslaught of rapid-firing images. He could feel the phantom pain, but he clearly remembered Iceheart's face ... "I ... think so ... I don't really remember."
"Oh," the sponging suddenly continued, "its okay. You're safe now. You're on Akrit'tar, one of the Empire's prison strongholds."
As the Mon Cal continued sponging away, he could feel the phantom pain receding and was grateful for such care, but he still didn't fully trust the Mon Cal doing this to him. "Who are you?" he asked tentatively.
"My name is Akiba Muune. I've been a prisoner here since the fall of Emperor Palpatine and the Empire at Endor," she replied.
"Why ... are you helping me?"
"Because ... I sensed something within you. I can't really describe it, but it tells me I should help you. That sense is something that I can't tell anyone, but I know that you'll keep it a secret from the guards around here. It's like a hunch, I guess," Tycho could almost see the Mon Cal smile in the near darkness that he was in.
"Why do you trust me that implicitly? For all you know, I could be an Imp spy sent to find you out."
"I know. But if you were, those hunches of mine would have warned me long ago and then you'd be cannon fodder for the other prisoners here who want nothing more than to eat you alive, literally."
Tycho didn't know why, but he felt in his gut that he could trust this Akiba Muune. He let loose a sigh of relief, hitching only when he felt a sharp stab of pain in his ribs.
"Careful, you're pretty injured right now. They don't care if you work today with that injury, but I'll hide you so you can heal properly," Akiba said.
"Thank you," he replied as he closed his eyes and regulated his breath, his discomfort eased by the sponging Akiba was giving to his forehead. "By the way, the name is Tycho. Tycho Celchu."
"Very nice meeting your acquaintances Tycho," were the last words he heard before he drifted off to a fairly uneasy sleep.
* * *
When Tycho awoke again, his forehead was dry and he couldn't feel the nearness of Akiba's presence like he did before. He opened his eyes and sat up slowly, trying to regain his equilibrium. Looking around, he noted with a start that daylight had streamed in and the large expanse of dirt and rocks with bars was his prison cell.
It wasn't a single prison cell, but a mass pit where bodies laid and a few of those bodies groaned in pain or were the sounds of those dying. If was hadn't been so battle-hardened, he could have shivered in the fear of being close to dead and dying bodies, but the sight of it wasn't uncommon for him. He had been next to dead bodies since he joined up with the Rebel Alliance fallen bodies of his comrades in the fight against the Empire.
The pits were mostly empty and he wondered if the people who had inhabited the area were working as Akiba had mentioned the last time he was conscious. His time sense was totally thrown off ever since he had been transferred from Lusankya. The odd thing was when he tried to think of that place, he would get flashes of pain and blurred images, but he could barely remember anything about the place. The only thing he knew for sure was the whisper of the dreaded place that was his constant reminder that he had been there and he had been a prisoner of Ysanne Isard.
There was no doubt in his mind and he knew that he wasn't hallucinating. Call it a gut feeling of sorts; he mentally challenged those who doubted his words.
Tycho got up, using a rocky outcropping near where he laid as a support to get to his feet. He gingerly tested his weight and felt dizzy, but otherwise fine, though he ached all over. Glancing over himself he noticed that dried blood was caked on the remnants of clothing that looked like remnants of a flightsuit. He wondered why he wearing a flightsuit and a flash of memory appeared in his head.
He had been on a mission to Courscant, to gather intelligence information and that was how he landed in Lusankya. I must have been escaping in a TIE ... he thought to himself as he took his hand off of the outcropping and stood on his feet, swaying slightly. He realized his dizziness was probably from a mixture of hunger, lack of water, and some of his healing injuries. At least he hoped they were healing instead of being infected.
Looking around at his surroundings and letting his eyes focus and adjust, he rested a hand on an outcropping and let himself just breathe in and out for a few seconds. As soon as he felt he had regained some of his equilibrium, he took a tentative step forward, deciding to explore his surroundings. Feeling though he wasn't going to collapse any time soon, Tycho walked around slowly, a twinge of pain in his ankle. He had a feeling that it had been broken and recently mended and took easy over the uneven ground.
There were a few moans coming from dying bodies of prisoners there and it took all of his effort not to cringe and instead, kept to himself, forcing himself to walk the whole length of the giant cavernous pit a few times to get his strength back up. He was about half-way through his fourth round when he heard a clamoring of boots in the distance and he looked around, trying to find a dark corner to crouch in and hide.
He spotted an outcropping near where he had started and hobbled slightly towards it, the twinge of pain in his leg protesting as he put his weight on it. Just as he got to the outcropping and hid himself as best as he could behind it, at least a squad of stormtroopers came marching down the hallway on the other side of the pit, their booted feet resounding in unison. Behind them were a bunch of prisoners, all dressed in rags and covered in filth and dirt. They were humans and humanoid along with aliens and all of them at least had a defeated look on their faces.
Behind the group of prisoners was another squad of stormtroopers and an imperial officer. The massive bars to the pit area opened and the prisoners shuffled into the pit obediently before the bars closed behind them. Then the stormtroopers left again.
Even before the stormtroopers left the group of prisoners that had been shuffled in already began to disperse to the various corners or just sat down on the ground, staring at nothing. A few even began to talk among themselves before a small scuffle broke out. Still, Tycho didn't leave his hiding spot ... and he was glad that he didn't as more stormtroopers leading more prisoners came by again and let the docile, defeated prisoners back into the pit-cell.
He watched as this process happened at least six other times before the pit was almost overcrowded with people and alien beings. Bodies pressed up against another and Tycho felt like he was going to panic among the crowd. He still didn't feel well enough to venture out and ask where the food was ... or even tempt some of the denizens in the crowd for some information.
He desperately wondered where the Mon Calamari that had taken care of him was ... perhaps Akiba had been killed? Or maybe she was somewhere in the crowd and had forgotten him? He wouldn't doubt that she had probably forgotten him. In situations like these he knew that it was survival of the fittest and right now, he was near the bottom of the food chain.
Suddenly a salmon-colored Mon Cal poked her head through the throng of people and the wide watery eyes blinked at him before its mouth opened in an equivalent of a smile. "Tycho! You're awake!"
He stared at the Mon Cal and realized that it was Akiba and she had found him ... She pushed her way through to his side and one of her finned hands came up and brushed his forehead lightly. "Are you all right?"
"How did you find me?" he asked as he stumbled slightly as bodies pressed and moved around them.
"I had a sense of where you might be and followed it," Akiba shrugged, "you all right?"
"A lot better," he nodded, "thank you."
"No need," she gave him a rueful smile, "I expect the favor to be repaid someday."
Tycho half-smiled, "Consider it." He looked around, "What's going on? And ... is there any food?" They both sat down near the hidden outcropping, almost touching each other because of the crowded area, but he didn't mind. He at least had an ally if not friend in this whole mess.
Akiba shook her head, "You'll have to work to get food. I was lucky enough to sneak in some food and water for you while you were recovering from your wounds. They usually come around in the mornings and grab all of us in groups to work down in the mines."
"Akirt'tar has mines?" he asked, confused.
"Yes, but they're worthless. We're basically digging our own graves," she replied. "But don't even think of trying to escape after you're locked up in here. Guards all over the place ... plus there are many factions in here and they'll be watching for anyone to escape. The Imps here give the heads of these factions' rewards for catching anyone who tries to escape."
He nodded; absorbing all of the information he was given. "Thieves, murders, and other unsavory folks around here, aren't there?"
She laughed softly, "Not all of us are unsavory."
"Present company excluded of course," he replied, a part of him feeling better since he could actually chat and laugh with a fellow prisoner. "Why are you here? And are there any other Alliance members here?"
"Most of the command staff was killed within the first few weeks we were here. It's only the low level technicians like me that are left and the rest have pretty much joined up with the factions here. I've tried to stay away, but it's been hard."
There was something about her words that didn't make sense and Tycho stared at her, wondering what she was trying to hide. He could see the hidden fear in her eyes and frowned. What made her so scared ... ?
"What happened?" he asked gently, noticing for the first time through her ragged clothing that she was covered in bruises and scars either from previous fights or something else he didn't know.
She stared out into the crowd, parts which had formed circles around at least two fights that were happening and was silent for a long time before she finally sighed. "The real reason I saved you because I didn't want you corrupted by the others."
"You were dumped in here around two weeks ago by one of the high level Imperial officers that rules here. We've seen him about and know that he's one of the top Imps. He only brings prisoners personally when that particular prisoner has a lot of stake. So when you arrived, unconscious, you were already part of the warring factions. Each wanted you because you were important to the political power and influence the factions have here. You had to be important ... otherwise that Captain wouldn't have brought you down here personally."
Tycho didn't say anything and just waited for Akiba to continue.
"The hunch I had told me that if you were to be taken by any of the factions your life would be over as it is and I knew I had to do something to save you from that," Akiba quieted and trembled slightly before forcing herself to continue, "I persuaded the faction leader that had taken you in to release you to me."
She immediately fell silent and Tycho stared at her, comprehension dawning on him as he realized what she had done to save him from being a pawn in what looked like the tip of the iceberg of a war between the various factions in the prison. That was why she was probably covered in bruises and scratches ... she had sold her body for his sake.
"I'm ... sorry," he said, feeling hollow as he didn't know any words to comfort her.
She stared at him, her bulbous eyes watery with unshed tears. "Don't be ... I just hope my hunches are correct ..."
They fell silent for a few minutes before a thought nagged at Tycho. Her hunches ... they sounded awfully familiar and he had heard of these "hunches" before ... from Luke when they were stationed on Hoth. His former Commander had always had hunches on when there was going to be a bad storm or perhaps some of the Wampa were going to attack.
"These, hunches of yours," he started in a halting and quiet voice, "do you think you can access the Force?"
She blinked and stared at him, her mouths lightly agape in surprise, "I've never thought about that ... I mean I only heard of the Force being present in Jedi Luke Skywalker, but no ..."
"Don't take my word, but just consider it. I mean Skywalker used to be my former commander back on Hoth and he used to comment about his hunches and instincts being correct."
"All right," she nodded, understanding that he was only suggesting and not trying to imply that she could use the Force. "Thanks Tycho ..."
"I think I'll start work tomorrow and maybe plan my escape," Tycho commented softly before turning to Akiba, "you should get some sleep. I've slept enough as it is."
"Are you sure? You still don't look fully healed," Akiba looked at him doubtfully.
"I'll survive ... besides, I want to meet the Captain that sent me here," he muttered the last part mostly to himself as the Mon Cal nodded before settling in next to him, closing her eyes. A few minutes later, Tycho could see the rise and fall of her chest as sleep took her. He stared back out at the crowd that was still a bit rowdy and wondered what the next day would bring him.
* * * * *
Authors Notes: Okay, if this chapter sounds incredibly awkward, it's because I haven't written in the story for soooo long. I have a bad habit of putting these chapters off. I was trying to make it into a summer project but that didn't work so it'll just have to make do with a sporadically updated story. Thank you for all of you who've stood by this fic for such a long time. We are getting the gears and plot moving.
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