The Raven's Eye
By: Jedi Master Athena
Please insert Disc I
"What are you doing here?"
"I heard you talking to your locker."
"I know what I said!" he remained silent, "So what I said gave you inclination to follow me?" No answer, "Look, if I don't respond within the next…"
"So it is true!"
` "You were mumbling about a message."
I sighed, "Go home, you don't want to be wrapped up in this."
"In what, what's going on?" Rather than an expression of fear his face was possessed by pure excitement.
"GO HOME, Malcom." I spun around and keyed in the code for the garage door opener. He followed, now I was angry.
"If you keep following me there's a chance you'll end up where you don't want to be." He seemed to think this over. I kept going, I hadn't time for this. There was another panel, this one in hutteese. A trap slid open and I went down.
"Hey!" Malcom called. I knew that if he were to follow me what he would see would shock him beyond belief, unless…
"Okay," I resurfaced and folded my arms over the lip of the edge, "This is the point of no return." I slapped the concrete. He beamed and I groaned. Shaking him was going to be impossible, but I was wasting time and continued my descent. He followed.
"Why won't you tell me what's happening?" we were in my underground hangar.
"There's no time, I'll explain in hyperspace."
"Hyperspace?" he picked up the crate that I had told him to put in the cargo hold. My ship, the Raven's Eye, already had most of my off-world supplies onboard.
"Yes, hyperspace, now hurry." I sighed; he was going to slow me down. The security checks were finished and the place was locked down. I checked the levels on the fuel and hyperdrive coolant then stepped onboard; my pest followed.
"Where are we going?"
"Naboo, now hurry, get on!"
Once on, I sat in the pilot's chair, he in the co-pilot. "Kid, go sit in the lounge and strap yourself in."
"What if you need my help?" That really did it.
"Look at all this!" I splayed my hands over the instrument panels. "Soak it up! Now, do you think I would need your help?" He did as I told him looking sorrowfully hurt. I didn't have time to worry about his feelings right now. This ship had to be in hyperspace within the next hour. I started up the engines and they whirred to life, spat, then died.
"Are you sure you don't need my help?"
"NO!" I popped my head out of the engine casing and grabbed my hydrospanner. "Yes!" I yelled my excitement as I finished my repairs on the engine sooner than expected and hopped out of the engine compartment.
"Did you get it fixed?" I ignored him and ran right to the cockpit turning on the engines, this time they stayed on. "Woohoo!" I punched the air, "Okay kid, sit down and strap yourself in." I cued the throttles and we were away with a cloaking device no technology on Earth could detect.
As we exited the atmosphere I said, "Alright." The jumps were calculated, the sublight engines primed, "Here we go!" I pushed the hyperspace lever forward and the stars streaked in our wake.
"So let me get this straight," I had attempted to explain the whole situation to Malcolm, "a couple of years ago the 'Republic' stumbled across Earth and you; but, since their onworld existence would have caused world wide chaos they appointed you like a part time representative to their senate? And earlier today you received a stray distress signal?"
"Okaay," he breathed. "And I don't get to go home until this is over?"
A rumble ripped through the Raven's hull. "We're coming out of hyperspace!" I raced to the cockpit.
"Yes, but we're still due for another eight point six five minutes!"
"And that's bad?"
"Bad enough…and big enough to yank us out." I checked the sensors then looked out the viewport as we began to slow. The open space beyond Naboo's atmosphere was littered with orb-like ships. "Gunray," I muttered.
"Nute Gunray," I pointed at the nearest orb, "those are Trade Federation battle cruisers."
"You catch on quick." I turned to the comm. station, "Let's see if we can get through.
"Planetary Systems, this is the Raven's Eye. Do you copy?" No answer. "Planetary Systems, this is the Raven's Eye. Do you copy?" Still nothing. I turned to Malcom, "They've jammed their transmissions."
"Well, I guess we should try to contact the ships.
"Trade Federation flagship, this is the Raven's Eye. Do you copy?"
"We copy," responded a raspy staccato voice.
"Raven's Eye requesting status."
"Affirmative, no ships are to leave or enter the system."
"Are there any ground troops?" There was a pause.
"That information is confidential."
"Confidential eh? Thank you. Raven out." I switched off the comm. system. "Did you hear that?" I asked Malcom.
"Something stinks, but Gunray doesn't have the guts to think of this on his own."
"No clue, but we have to get down there."
"Okay, let's run this!" I pushed the throttles to an almost max, saving some juice for the last second. The comm. unit flashed;
"Raven's Eye, you have thirty seconds to halt your advance and surrender." With a flick of my hand it silenced.
The thirty seconds flew by as did the kilometers of open space. Droid fighters were soon on our tail.
"Uhhh…" urged my passenger nervously.
"I see them." The ship jumped and jived as I tried to shake them. None of their paths faltered. "They've improved these things." I put the ship into a death spiral and alert sirens filled the cockpit.
"Is it supposed to be doing that?" inquired Malcom at the flashing red lights that appeared on the instrument panel. His answer received no reply.
With sudden inspiration I veered off to starboard with enough Gs to confuse the gyro stabilizers and cause the fairly new YT to creak at the seams. Several of the fighters flying point couldn't slow in time and collided into each other during the confusion. The rest, however, caught on to my ploy and followed suit.
"STANG, I can't shake them!" I let out a stream of huttese curses. I needed a gunner.
"Watch out!" cried Malcolm. My eyes met his for a moment.
"Kid, how good are you at video games?"
"Okay, I guess. Why?"
"Get down to the gunwale, now!"
"The what?" Of all the beings in the galaxy I get a fellow, clueless Earthling as a co-pilot.
"Figure it out. Here take this." I handed him a headset and he ran of into the innards of the ship.
"Okay, I found it!" his voice came through the comm..
"Good, now shoot!" He seemed to figure it out for soon laser fire littered the space outside the hull. "Easy, kid. Shoot the fighters. They should show up red on your targeting computer."
"I see them!" One of the fighters exploded into a brilliant display of fire and molten metal. "Whooohoo!"
I began to maneuver the freighter around to help his aim a bit. Soon there were only two left. "Get back up here kid."
Once he was back in his seat I gave him his instructions for our next maneuver. Increasing the forward throttles I dove the ship steeply and prayed to the Force that Malcolm hadn't eaten anything before coming onboard. The fighters followed closely and were unsuspecting of what I did next.
With a zero-gravity roll-back we were heading in the other direction. The droids were momentarily distracted and I brought us up to full speed. "Punch it!" Malcolm pushed the hyperdrive lever forward with a shaking hand and before the fighters could fully retaliate we were on the night side of the planet.
"See, that wasn't so bad." I sat back in my chair and looked at the diagnostic scanners. Not a scratch on my ship. Malcolm, however, looked greener than Master Yoda and was digging his nails into the arms of his seat.
"Ease up will ya? That's my upholstery you're destroying!" He gradually relaxed and his face returned to its natural pigmentation. "Now we've got to get down there."
I pulled the swoop out of the cargo hold before covering the entire ship with cam-foil. We had reached the surface without any trouble.
"It's a two day's ride to Theed."
"When do we leave?" Malcolm yawned. I threw him a pack.
"What is it?"
"My lord, the ship seems to have gotten past the blockade." Viceroy Gunray cringed in fear in preparation for the hooded figure's next spout of chastisement.
"Let them pass."
"But, My lord…"
"Do it. I have not foreseen them in the future, they are unimportant."
Gunray gave a slight bow as the hologram faded away.
"We'll stop here for the night."
"Wha? Okay." Malcolm had long since fallen asleep. He groggily stepped off the swoop and, not bothering to spread out the bedroll attached to his pack, collapsed in the tall grass. I groaned.
Quickly I pulled up enough of the grass to make a barely noticeable clearing. Placing it in a pile, I lit it and made a fire. Since the grass was thick and dry it made excellent kindling. Once I had the fire burning well and laid the swoop on its side in order to conceal it I looked to Malcolm.
Trying not to disturb him, I took off his pack, unrolled the small sleeping pallet, and flipped him onto his back. His knees were covered with small welts. Wearing shorts was not the best idea when traveling at high speeds through plains grass. I removed some ointment from the med pack in our supplies and tended to his wounds, grateful he didn't know I was doing so. Had he been awake, the survival situation would have been extremely awkward. Besides, if he had contracted some sort of infection or moped about his pains it would only slow me down further.
Finally, I slipped onto my own pallet. I ate a small meal of ration bars and water from a nearby stream I had used to fill my canteen. Through the slight breeze and kilometers of farm country I could hear a call from a distant shaak. Smiling, I let sleep claim me. It felt good to be home.
The sun had barely risen when I woke Malcolm. "Good mornin'!" I handed him some ration bars and a thermos. "Eat up." He grabbed them thankfully, took one bite and his smile faded. "Ration bars," I explained laughing, "They can get you by, but the taste could kill you." Malcolm smiled at this and continued to eat.
"How are your legs?" I asked. He seemed shocked and looked down at his shins, which were looking much better this morning.
"Fine." The awkward situation was brought on and he blushed.
Eager to end the conversation I righted the bike, and put out the fire. "Ready?" I asked him. He nodded, hastily rolled up his bedroll, and hopped on behind me.
"Keep down and keep quiet." Malcolm nodded in simple obedience. We were hidden behind a stone wall separating a country home on the outskirts of the city from the vast expanse of grass. I peered through my electrobinoculars. Theed seemed to have an eerie silence cast about it. Not a sound echoed from the usual hustle and bustle of everyday citizens. Even the gorgeous gardens had seemed to have lost their luster.
"It's quiet." Malcolm said at last.
"Here have a look." I handed him the binoculars.
"Where is everybody?" He asked. "At work?"
"No. Something's wrong." I hopped over the small partition. Malcolm followed and handed back my specs.
As we walked among the lifeless residential area I had a thought. Walking up to the nearest house I knocked. I pounded with my fist and shouted, "Open up! We're here to help you!" No answer. I tried again.
After a minute or so of knocking and yelling I stepped back a few steps.
"Well, nobody's home, I guess we should…WHAT THE?"
I had kicked the door in. Inside the humble abode nothing seemed amiss. There were dishes set out on the dining table, and holotoons were still running in a living area. All the lights were on. Nobody was here.
"Creepy," noted Malcolm. He was holding a small, blue twi'lek doll that had been laying on the floor.
Going to the holo station, I changed channels. At first it seemed like my motion was pointless, until I switched to the local news network. An image of Queen Amidala appeared.
"Who is that?" Malcolm asked. I promptly shushed him. If the queen herself was appearing on the planetary holonet it must be urgent.
"It is advised," She said calmly, "That those residing within the city of Theed evacuate as soon as possible, before the blockade is…" Switching it off I turned to the door.
"Hey! Shouldn't we listen to what she has to say?" Malcolm protested.
"No, I've heard all I need. Let's go." I waited in the doorway and watched as he carefully set the doll down on the family's couch. She was looking at us with that smile as we left. Perhaps this would end soon and the little girl who had dropped her would return.
We continued on to a small shopping centre. Most of the doors were still waiting wide open, awaiting customers that might never come.
My boot heels clicked and the cobblestone road and I saw our reflection in one of the large, glass windows of one of the shops. I looked perfectly normal in knee high boots and cloak, Malcolm, however, did not. The outlander was dressed in a red Nike T-shirt, shorts, and sneakers.
"What is it?" he inquired at my thoughtful expression.
"We need to get you some new clothes.
Setting the appropriate amount of money on the unattended countertop, I turned to look at Malcolm as he emerged from the dressing room wearing a loose black tunic and pants, and knee high boots.
"That's more like it." I smiled and threw him a holster; he was in my world now.
"Is this a good idea?" He held out the weapon.
"Just aim and pull the trigger. It's really not that hard."
He began bucking the holster as the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I listened and heard a faint whirring. "GET DOOWN!" I rolled behind the counter and Malcolm took a running leap and dove over it headfirst.
From behind the counter we watched as a probe droid approached. It's red eye scanned every inch of the street. If it caught sight of us our whole operation was blown. The whirring got louder as it hovered through the door of the shop. Beside me, Malcolm lifted his new blaster; I stopped him. A lost signal was just as bad as a positive one.
We waited in silence as the small sphere zoomed around the clothing store scanning racks and displays. I'd seen these before. They possessed many sensory arrays, sound, holo recorders, and infra red. There was no way we would be able to get out of this…unless…
Silently, I stretched my fingers for a data pad on the top of the counter; unfortunately, it scraped against the durasteel of the countertop. I froze, and my heart hammered in my chest. The droid swiveled its eye toward the counter. What could only have been a few seconds felt like hours before it finally went back to its inspection of a rack of tunics. Without hesitation I grabbed the data pad and flung it as far as I could, it landed about 3 meters beyond the entrance of the small shop and shattered. My distraction worked and the probe went to investigate. It's back to us I urged Malcom to
Hustle to the other end of the shop.
"Here!" I whispered and opened a door to a dressing room. We didn't have much time . Once inside, I stood on a chair and managed to push off a ceiling grate. I climbed up. "Give me your hand." I boosted him up and led the way.
Soon we were on the roof top watching as a squad of Trade Federation battle droids passed below us. I'd seen enough. "Come on."
"Those were robots…with guns!"
"Thank you, Captain Obvious!" I gave him a mock salute. We back at the ship. "Those were Trade Federation Battle Droids scouting out the city."
"An invasion, you were right."
"Never trust a worm."
"Shouldn't we do something?" He asked excitedly.
"Now hold on. When do you become so cavalier? Besides, what are we suppose to do? It's only the two of us, and we don't have nearly enough blaster clips." He gave a look of defeat. "Then again…" I looked at him suggestively then back out the forward viewport. "No, No, it won't work"
"Oh, I was going to say we could get the hell outta' here, but hat would mean running the blockade again.
"We did it once we did it again!" Good, e was in. I grinned hopefully.
"It's our only hope"
"Hey, Kid, are you ready?"
"Yeah!" He gave a hoot from the gunwale.
"Alright, here we go!" I pushed the Eye faster as we approached the blockade. We steadily got closer and closer. We had almost reached them and nothing had happened. I checked all of the transmitters…nothing. They should be sending out fighters by now. Still, the black void of space remained still.
"Nothing's happening…" I heard a shaky voice in my headset. "Do they see us?"
I checked the systems and ran a quick diagnostic. By this time we were almost out of the blockade. "All of our systems are in the open. No cloaks. They see us, they're just letting us go."
"My Lord," Gunray addressed the cloaked hologram, "the Raven's Eye has been allowed silent passage as you asked. However, my Lord, they are heading for Coruscant. This does not bode well for the Trade Federation. If word of this should reach the senate!..."
"I will take care of it."
"Yes, My Lord."
"I just don't get it!" I exclaimed in hyperspace. "Why would they just let us go?"
"Maybe, their systems were out?"
"I don't think so. There were thousands of ships. Which means plenty plenty of back-up."
We debated this in silence, until Malcom said, "What if they want us to get to Coruscant?" I looked at him. Why hadn't I thought of this!
"That means they want us to report this!"
Obviously Malcom hadn't thought through his idea. "but they're the ones who did something wrong; not us."
"Well, perhaps they don't," I though for a second, "but an accomplice in the senate might…" I stared at him wide-eyed. "We've got to warn the Chancellor."
"Well we should be coming up on Coruscant in a couple of hours." Malcom was in the lounge staring out of one of the viewports. He looked lost. I put a hand on his shoulder. "Hey are you okay?"
"It's so different."
"What is?" The weird kaleidoscope of hyperspace looked the same to me. Oh. "I know what you mean. At home I would always look out my window; at the clouds, at the stars. I remember the first time I ever really saw the stars, I mean really saw them." I thought back to that very moment.
"You're not like most girls." I wasn't expecting this from him. He turned to face me. For the first time I was aware of the height difference. "You were always quiet, yet always happy." His eyes traveled the room then focused back on mine. "Now I know why." Blue burned into green.
"Malcom what is all this about?" My eyes flashed, scanning his face, trying to figure out what was happening. I was frightened.
"In class, you always have this expression. I always wondered what was going on in your head. Whenever I saw something that reminded me of you, I would smile. Sometimes, I would just think about you and hope that wherever you were you were thinking about me too." I couldn't believe what was happening. "It took me until two days ago when I heard you murmuring to your locker about a message and leaving to realize that I couldn't let you leave. And I would cross the stars for you."
I was beyond shocked. We had been so close the past few days and I had not noticed a thing. For far too long I had lived alone. Lived separately from the rest of the world; and, now, to have someone feel this way about me like this was…strange…terrifying.
"Please say something." Malcom pleaded.
I gently lifted my hand to his cheek. "For the first time in my life…I have no words." I let my hand fall and closed my eyes for I could not bear to see his expression as I walked away from him.
It is especially hard to think when you are confined in a ship where the only other passenger has confessed their heart to you and you feel nothing for them.
"Thank you," I shut off the comm unit.
"Well?" Asked Malcom.
"Chancellor Valorum's guard will meet us at a reserved hangar once we reach Coruscant." For a long time neither of us spoke.
"Why did you let me come?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why am I here right now? I mean I could be at home right now watching TV, playing football!" I couldn't believe he was turning this on me, but the truth was I didn't know.
"I don't know; I was in a hurry I guess." I felt my cheeks grow red in embarrassment. My voice sounded small and unsure. All of my confidence drained from my body as he raised his voice.
"Yeah that sounds like you, always in a hurry. Got a galaxy to save today?"
"Malcom," This wasn't fair.
"No, that's your problem; you've fulfilled your dream. You've seen the stars but you don't want to come back down."
"You left your own life behind, and I think it's time you see that."
"Here we go." He only nodded still sore from our last spat. The ramp lowered and we strode down.
"Ah, it's so good to see you again, Chancellor." I bowed a slight bit and glanced to Malcom who did the same. Good. He fit right in as the role of my new co-pilot, but he still couldn't hide his open eyes as they absorbed the Coruscanti cityscape.
"It is a pleasure to bee seeing you again as well. I hope your journey was pleasant.
"Very," I lied with a fake smile.
"Excellent," he ushered us to the awaiting air car. "Come, we have much to discuss."
"Yes, it is. So you see the urgency with which we have come." I had just retold our encounters of the last few days.
"Well, what do you say we do?" asked Palpatine, the senator from Naboo. "The Queen is still on-world and at risk!" he pressed.
"Chancellor, I suggest sending a negotiator…"
"I will go at once!" Palpatine exclaimed.
"Senator," said Valorum, "You do realize that a trade blockade is perfectly legal. The senator nodded solemnly.
"Chancellor," I said, "I wish that this situation were as simple as it seems."
"Why is that?"
"My co-pilot and I have reason to believe that there is an alternative motive bhind the blockade, and possibly, due to our easy escape, an accomplice within the senate." I noticed Palpatine give a motion that seemed like a shudder. "That is why," I continued, "sending a representative from Naboo would cause turmoil in the senate should any legislative action be taken."
"Yes, a very good point." Commented the Chancellor. "Senators from the Trade Federation and their very profitable allies would question a Noobian's account. But, who then, should be sent."
"Perhaps Bail Organa of Alderaan." I offered.
"Alderaan is too closely allied with Naboo."
"But peace and truth has been the way of the Aldeeranians for centuries.
We raged in heated debate, until my co-pilot spoke up.
"What about the Jedi." We all stared at him. He was at a loss of words. I picked up behind him.
"Yes, the Jedi are absolutely neutral, are they not?"
"But will they agree?"
"Peace ahs always been the greatest interest of the Jedi. Chancellor, Allow me to address the Jedi. I have good accounts with them and am welcomed."
"Yes, you shall address the Jedi, meanwhile Senator Palpatine and I shall address the Senate."
"Thank you," I gave another bow and left with Malcom right behind me.
Please Insert Disc II