Just a note that our story has been featured on Wattpad the last two weeks, and we've posted our first 15 chapters. For those who haven't started to read our story yet, I'm posting the first chapter below. Thanks!
The twin suns flamed in the orange sky above Skywalker Enterprises’ headquarters, raining heat through soot, smog, and water vapor. On the horizon, three hulking shuttles approached low in the sky. Minutes dripped by as the shuttles drew nearer, when a roaring pair of security interceptors punctuated the quiet scene. The Skywalker Enterprises logo, SKYE, gleamed a deep blue on the inteceptors' sides, as they streaked across the thick, moisture filled air.
Kay began her approach protocol. As Alpha 9, the flight leader of the SKYE interceptors, she made it her business to know what was in her airspace. No one at HQ could find record of a scheduled landing, and shuttles this big would definitely require special clearances. Someone in the company has to know what's going on, Kay told herself. The shuttles were registered to Skywalker Enterprises.
“Identify yourself,” Kay ordered.
“You are ordered to return these cargo shuttles to the SKYE mining camp.”
No response. The squarish bulks lumbered forwarded like giant metal cattle.
Kay flipped channels. “HQ, what the hell is going on? We should already know if three SKYE cargo shuttles are missing and be on alert. And they are way outside legal flight paths - even the Rodian autori should have notified us by now.”
“Copy that. We have no idea Alpha team, we’re investigating that as we speak." A brief pause, and then the order Kay was dreading came. "Alpha 9, we cannot allow these cargo ships to get any closer to SKYE HQ. You have permission to engage.”
“Copy that, HQ.” Kay flipped channels again. “Turn your ship around or you will be fired upon.”
Frustrated, Kay flipped channels again to her wingman. “Let’s fire a warning shot, Alpha 6.” Alpha team zoomed by the shuttles to take firing positions. Yet as Alpha team’s interceptors prepped firing solutions, twin concussion missiles lanced through the amber sky. Kay’s missile lock alarms blared. Her last thought was to realize that the missiles were not fired from the cargo shuttles - they were fired from HQ.
* * *
Owen Skywalker followed the missile contrails towards three shuttles in the distance. It was terrifying to see SKYE’s weapon systems deployed, but he had to trust the security team. They did what they had to do, even if it meant destroying three apparently defenseless shuttles.
He was imagining his father and CEO, Jerod Skywalker, apologizing for the destruction of the shuttles, when the missiles streaked past and annihilated the SKYE interceptors instead. A cold chill worked its way down his spine as the true nature of the situation dawned on him. Someone had taken over the SKYE defense system, and was using it against them.
He started running towards the SKYE security office, and grabbed frantically at the blaster on his hip. Being the son of the CEO gave him certain privileges, but he’d always hoped the blaster would be unnecessary. Now he just hoped it wouldn’t be useless.
Owen commed a quick message to his father. SKYE compound under attack. Get Mom and get out. He’d talk to dad, only dad would try to convince him to run in the opposite direction. At least Anakin would be safe; he was at a flying lesson or something.
As Owen rounded the bend near Security, he smelled the stench of blaster fire. Owen skidded to a halt and retreated to cover. A handful of green-skinned Rodian security guards were assaulting the security office, who were themselves being assaulted by a pair of Rodian security guards. He wasn’t sure who the good guys were, assuming there were any.
He listened, and overheard one of the guards closest to him shout “Rodia Prima, ash ja soo fuda cajala chupa!” Anyone talking about wiping humanity off the face of the planet was probably one of the bad guys. There wasn’t time to debate.
With practiced accuracy Owen shot the pair closest to him; one in the neck, and the other in the back. The bolts seared into their bodies, turning them into smoking corpses of charred flesh. He was tormented by how easy it was to pull the trigger, but he didn’t have time to dwell on that right now.
Those two were the only ones assaulting the security guards trying to get into the security office. Or at least from this direction. Whoever was inside the security office was still trading shots with the team outside. He recognized Lareeda in the team outside the office, and decided to risk it.
“Lareeda, it’s Owen. Just got those two off your back. You need a hand?” Owen called out.
“Owen?” Lareeda said, her marsupial eyes growing even larger. “Come out where we can see you.”
It was now or never. Owen holstered his blaster, and rounded the bend with his hands up.
“He’s good guys - don’t shoot,” Lareeda called out, and Owen’s blood stopped pounding in his ears. She motioned for Owen to come over.
“What’s going on?” Owen asked, kneeling down next to her cover.
“Some friends messaged us that the Security office was under attack,” Lareeda explained, “but no alarms had gone off. We headed here to see what was up. At first we figured everything was okay but then our own people opened fire on us.”
Lareeda paused for a second, glanced around her cover, and fired a few shots at their assailants before heading back to cover. “A bunch of us were burned down but we managed to hole up here,” she continued. “We thinned the ones inside down a bit but then these two idiots showed up. Thanks for taking care of them for us.”
“How many you think are left in there?”
“Probably only three or four; we’ve been picking them off.” Lareeda pulled a spherical object out of her jacket, and motioned to her squad. They nodded. “Know what this is, Owen?”
“Yep. And now we can use it. Give me some cover, wait a second, then drop. You and I will scan left, Xoldo and Chandool will scan right.”
Owen and the rest of the squad rose to firing positions, hammering away at their attackers’ cover. Lareeda had ample time to lineup a beautiful arcing toss for the flashbang.
Lareeda, her squad, and Owen took cover. The bang went off, and they rushed forward. Owen scanned left with Lareeda. He saw a Rodian firing wildly, blinded by the flashbang. Owen fired and missed, but Lareeda’s followup blast caught the Rodian in the chest. Two more shots went off. Owen and Lareeda kept scanning, when they caught sight of Xoldo and Chandool. Room cleared.
Owen went to check on one of the dead Rodians, and saw that he was still jacked in. “This slicer must be how they hacked our system,” he called out.
“Ee choota!” Lareeda swore. “We’re still locked out of the missile system. Slicer must have changed the logins. I can’t get in.”
“Alarm?” Owen asked.
“Can you access anything?” Owen asked.
“I can pull up the security cams.”
The cameras captured three huge shuttles slamming into the landscape around SKYE headquarters, forming a perimeter. By this time, masses of SKYE employees had started to stream outside. As the footage cut to different parts of the compound, Owen saw some people still at their desks.
Davo from Accounting was still there counting the beans, probably thinking the entire episode was another pointless emergency exercise. No alarms had gone off, after all. And yet others like Owen must have seen the missiles strike the security interceptors in the distance, and were running towards their air cycles.
The cargo shuttles’ doors released, unhinging toward the ground. As soon as they were open a hodge podge of Rodian miners lept from the cargo holds and began to close the gaps between the ships, further encircling SKYE HQ and its employees. Some carried blasters, others wielded mining lasers and concussion picks. A select few even sported masks of galactic celebrities in an attempt to conceal their identity.
Owen inhaled sharply, as if dipped in a bath of icewater. Up until that moment, there was always the outside chance that maybe Lareeda's team and he had dealt with the worst of it. That hope had evaporated as quickly as it came.
Three heavy-duty RX-9 mining droids crawled down the ramps after the miners. The droids appeared low slung due to their wide snout and long bodies, but they were about three meters tall - twice the height of most Rodians. Mining lasers and massive stone shredding blades protruded from the snout. The snout in turn, was attached to a telescoping crane that ran the length of the RX-9's back.
“We’ve got to contact IT to get control of the missile systems,” Owen urged. A look passed between them. No one knew who to trust beyond the people in the room. "We've got to risk it, or we'll never get this compound back."
More tense seconds passed. Owen could feel the time slipping away from them, like his fingers slipping off a cliff, when Lareeda spoke up.
“I’ll contact Dzalbee,” Lareeda offered resolutely. Dzalbee was the head of IT, and they could only hope he was on their side. Owen turned his attention back to the screens.
A tall, gaunt Rodian separated himself slightly from the crowd, stepping forward. Like all Rodians, he had large, round, marsupial eyes, a tapir-like snout, and a pair of saucer-shaped antennae on his head. His green reptilian skin seemed flaky and translucent, like a lizard trying to burst from its skin. He began to speak, his voice amplified by loud speakers within the cargo shuttles and RX-9’s.
“My name is Krul te Rosin. The SKYE facilities are now under my control. Comply with our demands and you may be spared. Those who attempt escape will die.” He gestured towards a few escaping air cycles. A barrage of missiles launched from the HQ security building, decimating the fleeing air cycles.
“Someone’s got remote access!” Owen exclaimed. “We’ve got to shut the missiles down right now. Is Dzalbee coming? Or can we just shut off the power?”
“He’s running over,” Lareeda answered. “I hope he can get here. Maybe he can hide in the crowd.”
On screen, Owen saw screams and protests erupting. The security cams captured some people panicking as they scrambled for safety inside the buildings. Others yelled at their captors, demanding to speak to Krul. Krul had one of the most vociferous protestors dragged before him, beaten, and shoved onto his knees.
“Now to business. These proceedings will be broadcast on the holonet, for the galaxy to see.” Owen saw several holocasting droids hovering about Krul that Owen had missed in the confusion. Incredible. Not only is Krul taking my family’s corporation hostage, he’s creating a spectacle out of our suffering.
“Return to your buildings, and do not attempt to leave. You will be searched. If you resist, you will die.” Krul calmly pulled his hip blaster out of its pocket, armed it, removed the safety, aimed, and shot the protestor in the back of the head.
“Any approach within 300 meters will be considered an act of aggression. The airspace must be empty within 5 kilometers. Failure to comply will result in the death of hostages.”
“Dzalbee made it,” Lareeda advised, jerking Owen’s attention back to the security office. “Should be here any second.”
If the force was with them, they should be able to take out the RX-9s. That should help with any rescue effort, Owen thought.
"Drop your weapons,” Chandool called out, as Dzalbee approached with SKYE security officers in tow. The SKYE security officers looked at Dzalbee, and he nodded. They lowered their weapons carefully to the floor, and walked into the security office.
“Gods be praised! Lareeda you’re alright,” Dzalbee said as he shook her hand. Then he turned his attention to Owen, and reached out to shake his hand. “And Owen. Thank you,” Dzalbee said sincerely, “thank you for making this so easy.”
With one smooth motion, Dzalbee reached into his pocket, pulled out a mini-blaster, and shoved it into Owen’s face. “Drop your weapons,” Dzalbee hissed, “or the Skywalker dies.”
Seconds ticked away in tense standoff. Owen didn’t actually know if it would be as easy as Dzalbee said. SKYE HQ was overrun. Sure Owen was the son of the CEO, but Lareeda, Xoldo and Chandool might just let him die, shoot everyone else in the room, and say Owen died in the firefight. It really boiled down to who they were, and the loyalty they felt for his family.
Lareeda broke the silence. “You don't have to do this Dzalbee." she said, carefully lowering her blaster to the floor. "Leave Owen alone." Xoldo and Chandool hesitated for several long seconds more, but lowered their weapons as well. Owen watched with pained admiration. When my time comes, Owen swore to himself, give me the strength to die with honor.
“Thank you,” Dzalbee said magnanimously. "Now line up against that wall.” As Lareeda, Xoldo and Chandool walked towards the wall, Dzalbee’s guards recovered their blasters from the floor.
"Face the wall," Dzalbee ordered.
"Dzalbee - we've worked together for years," Xoldo spoke up, refusing to turn his back. "If you're going to shoot me, have the courage to look me in the face."
"Fine. Now shoot them," Dzalbee's thugs shot Lareeda, Xoldo and Chandool unceremoniously. Owen flinched at the discharge.
“Take this cajala chupa to Krul,” Dzalbee ordered, as he confiscated Owen’s blaster. “Tell our te Rosin that security is under control.”
Dzalbee’s thugs marched Owen back through the corridors he had run through just minutes earlier. He stepped over the charred corpses of the two Rodians he’d killed in the hallway, looking away. As he trudged on, Owen saw signs other signs of struggle -- blaster scorch marks, smashed panels, a few human corpses. Yet the struggle was over, and it had ended decisively with the terrorists in control.
The thugs dragged Owen outside, and he squinted his eyes to adjust to the suns’ glare. When his eyes regained focus, he saw a Rodian with papery skin before him, the one he had seen in the security cams. Krul.
“You’re wondering why I had you delivered to me, aren’t you? I brought you here to be judged.” Krul pointed at him accusingly. “You killed two citizens earlier. For that I should tie you to the RX-9s with the other human shields.” Owen glanced at an RX-9 mining droid and saw several humans attached to the monstrous droid’s body. “What do I do with you, Owen Skywalker?”
Owen considered pleading for his life a moment, or attempting to bribe the Rodian. Then he remembered his promise to himself only minutes earlier. Die with honor.
“My only regret,” Owen said sincerely, “is that I didn’t shoot more of you.”
“Tell our galactic audience more, Owen,” Krul taunted, gesturing towards the hovering holocasting droids.
Damn it. Those words were perfect for whatever PR nightmare Krul had in mind. Owen resolved to keep his mouth shut.
Krul paused, then moved on as Owen kept silent. “You see this grand empire your father constructed, crumbling before you?” Krul gestured around him at the ravaged compound. “If we just tear down the stones and shoot the people, we haven’t really destroyed it. The lies live on in here,” Krul pointed at Owen's head.
“First you must be re-educated,” Krul said, and then drew close to whisper in Owen’s ear. “Then--and only then--will I shoot you.”
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