The Dark Side of the Moon - February 2015

A small orange ship quietly arrived from hyperspace, hidden by Earth's sole moon. The interior of the ship consisted of a large cockpit and a small separated living quarters and medical room. The cockpit contained a large window, from which the pilot was granted a luxury view of the moon's barren landscape. The ship's passenger quietly approached the window, his blond ponytail bobbing as he walked down the steps leading there.

"So this is the planet the Ethereals have chosen for conquest? Looks…. barren."

The pilot scoffed, and began to maneuver the ship.

"For a Jedi Knight you can be quite clueless T'Loak. 22, activate cloaking systems."

T'Loak turned towards the co-pilot, a robotic figure attached to a control console in the raised area behind the pilot. The figure twitched, and a low metallic hum rung over the ship's inhabitants.

"Frankly, this ship is an engineering marvel," T'Loak said as he walked slowly around the cockpit. "The fact that we've been granted use of it on a mission like this speaks to your reputation Escarnacion."

"It's a gunship with the guns taken off T'Loak- and please, hearing you say 'Escarnacion' repeatedly makes me feel like a jerk. Just call me Sanchez, or hell, Commander works fine if you want to be like 22," Sanchez responded.

"Very well," T'Loak affirmed. "And this cloaking device is going to keep us hidden from the Ethereal fleet?"

"No known electronic sensor has ever been able to pierce the Aran's cloaking," 22 informed him. "Although the naked eye could spot us easily, the Ethereal ships rely fully on their tracking sensors."

"Good," T'Loak said. "Master Bo'Kanna made it clear that no rescue would come if we were captured, and it'd certainly be unfortunate to be shot down before we managed to reach the planet. Speaking of."

The ship had moved around the moon, and a full view of the planet below was now available to the cockpit. Sanchez slowly shook her head.

"A water world. Isn't just horrible the planets we sacrifice because of the Senate's cowardice? We could wipe out the Ethereals in less than a standard year, but instead we get sent to confirm what everyone already knows."

"No one wants war, Sanchez," T'Loak responded curtly. "But Bo'Kanna believes if we can bring the Senate evidence of the atrocities committed on primitive species by the Ethereals they'll be forced to act against them."

T'Loak paced slowly to the right side of the window, and looked out at the Ethereal fleet amassed in the distance. He could vaguely make out smaller ships moving unhindered from the fleet onto the planet. Clearly, this planet had been unable to mount an effective resistance and had already capitulated. He moved his face closer to the window and squinted at one of the larger ships in the fleet. It's bay doors had opened, and smaller spacecraft poured out of it.

"Hey Sanchez, if there was an Ethereal on that ship…. would they be able to sense our presence psionically?"

"Only if we had a major psionic powerhouse with us. It's unlikely they'd be able to pick up on our location either, just our general direction relative to them," Sanchez responded.

The smaller craft the larger ship had deployed formed a massive wall of evenly spaced ships that maintained a steady course towards the Aran.

"Sanchez-"

"I see them T'Loak. We'll pick up the pace a bit, but once we get in the atmosphere any sort of psionic tracking will lose us."

"Why take the risk? We can just jump back into hyperspace and come back in a few standard days."

"That will be ineffective," 22 informed them from the platform above. "The Ethereals will establish a magnetic net around the planet soon, and will be especially vigilant now that they've detected us."

The Aran sped up and changed its trajectory, aiming for a gap between some of the ships in the center of the wall.

"I recommend you find a seat Knight Johanson. Maneuvers such as these tend to become quite lively when the Commander is piloting," 22 called down.

"Shut up 22," Sanchez muttered through gritted teeth. "Don't jinx us now, we're almost there."

Suddenly, each of the Ethereal craft began to rapidly fire blindly. Sanchez yelled, and spun the Aran to the left as plasma bolts barely missed the ship. With rapidly increasing speed the Aran dashed through a gap in the Ethereal wall and sped towards the Earth. Just as the tension lifted, each of the Ethereal ships spun around, and again began to fire blindly. T'Loak bit his lip as Sanchez pushed the ship's speed to the maximum.

Just as they were approaching the atmosphere a stray plasma shot ripped into the ship from behind. One of the ship's engines was taken out instantly, and the jolt threw T'Loak onto the floor.

"As per my earlier recommendation, there are passenger seats available for you in the piloting area," 22 chided.

Sanchez struggled with the controls, and managed to keep the ship from slamming into the ground. Nevertheless, they were clearly unable to maintain altitude.

"Take him seriously T'Loak," Sanchez yelled. "We're going down, and I don't see anything but trees below us."

T'Loak scrambled into a seat and strapped himself in. He began to concentrate, and reached out to the Force. He focused on calm, control, and peace, and began to slow down the ship.

Sanchez began to steadily lower speed until they were grazing the tops of the trees below them.

"Hang on everyone, this is about to get bumpy," she cried.

Just as the Aran approached a small clearing she winced and cut the engines, sending the Aran spinning downwards.

Eastern Estonia - February 2015