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re: The Despondency of Echo-niner-six


Background: Immediately following the events of "Scattered"

Aden Lukal was on his way to begin his Jedi training on Ord Mantel. He arrived during the attack on the Saint's base, and ended up being rescued by a small band of drop ships fleeing the planets surface and carnage.

The air was thick, and the aroma was not pleasant. The only lighting in the stuffy compartment came from emergency lighting in a harsh red. Some of those he shared this space with were wounded and their moaning and cries of pain did little to aid and lull the others into a restful sleep on their journey. Among the later, Aden Lukal sat in the cramped cargo compartment of a Republic drop ship. He, nor most of the others would find rest here, no respite from the horrors they had just seen unfold on Ord Mantel. Most people just stared off into the wall or floor. Relief, sadness, anxiety, hatred, exhaustion all twisted their visages in a random but consistent panoramic portrait of sentient emotion. They had only been travelling what seemed like a few minutes… or was it hours… when they fell back to realspace, causing an uneasy stir among the occupants. They could not have reached their destination of Tython yet. Many got to their feet, in eager anticipation to learn what was going on. Aden was among them.

“What is going on!” One man shouted from the other side of the compartment. “Tell us what is happening!”

A chorus of agreement rose from the others on board. Peacekeepers as they were, the troopers on board formed an instinctive boundary between the refugees and the pilots compartment, as they urged the people to calm down and move away from the cabin.

“I thought we were heading to Tython! Where are you taking us!” Came another voice.

A large trooper stepped forward. He commanded such a frame and air of authority that the crowd gathering seemed to take a collective step back. Aden recognized him as the trooper that had asked him several question right after takeoff. “We know as much as you do, which is nothing! When we find out something , I will let you know! Not sit down and stow it!” The refugees did as they were told, as if they had been scolded by a parent.

Having dispelled the crowd, Aden watched as the trooper stepped into the pilots area, which was open to the adjacent cargo compartment the rest of the passengers were seated in. After a few brief moments he returned to address them all.

“Listen up! We are rendezvousing with a Republic patrol somewhere between Vortex and Anobis! We will be linking up and detaching with one of their Cruisers, and heading back to Tython. The ride will be a bit more comfortable, and we can get these wounded people some medical treatment.” This seemed to be welcome news to those on board, drawing murmurs of discussion. “Quite down! In addition, they have asked that any able bodied individuals that can fly unassisted report to the Deck Officer once we make it on board! Can any of you fly!”

Aden was one of a few that raised their hands. Aden was a little more hesitant than most in doing so.

“Alright! You’re with me!”


The interior of the Cruiser’s docking bay seemed like a city compared to being crammed in the small drop ship. Aden took in the surroundings as he and the other pilots followed their trooper escort to the Deck Officers station, all the while dodging and weaving out of the bustle of activity on the deck. He had never seen the inside of a warship before. He couldn’t help but feel a little awestruck and excited. He quickly shook those thoughts and feelings away, and tried to dwell on the somber situation he was in, and his task at hand… whatever that was.

“Sir! Sergeant Bathon reporting with four pilot volunteers!” The Sergeant barked as he snapped to attention and saluted the Deck Officer.

Volunteers? Aden thought to himself.

“Ah, most excellent.” The Lieutenant retorted, standing to full height and eyeing those who stood before him. Aden noticed a similar but altered grace with which the Lieutenant carried himself. He was imposing, like the Sergeant, but his prowess seemed to flow from his calm and collected calculating demeanor, and his piercing but friendly gaze. “Ensign Kenth will show you to your craft. “ He gestured to a small man standing next to him. “We simply do not have enough scouts to cover the expanse of space tasked to us. We request your help in doing so. We need to try and spot that rumored massive Sith fleet that hit Ord Mantel, so we can one, verify it exists; and two track its movements.”

Segeant Bathon cut in. “Rumored Fleet, sir?”

“Yes. Well we have no doubt that a fleet hit Ord Mantel. However, I have seen more than one occasion where an enemy fleet size gets, shall we say, a bit over exaggerated in the heat of the moment.” The Lt. stated dryly.
Bathon may have snorted, it was hard to tell with the man’s helmet still in place.

If the Lt. heard it, he paid in no mind and continued pacing and explaining the mission. “If the Empire has amassed this amount of hardware, that it certainly needs full Republic attention. However, if it is a small attack group over emphasized, than we cannot afford to expend too many resources on it.”

He turned to face the small group again. “In addition to the fleet, there may be more Republic ships out there. Military, Jedi, or refugees who may have fled the attack and need aid. It will be your task to jump to your coordinates, scan the sector, and report back any Intel or aid that requires our attention. Tell those stranded in ships to stay put, and relay their coordinates back to the Cruiser. We will be functioning as a home base for the scouting parties, and dispatching aid where needed. Make sure to scan your sectors well, you may be the only ship to jump in range of a stranded crew in time to save them. We will not be double dipping sectors, so keep your eyes peeled. Ensign.”

Ensign Kenth stepped forward, and ushered his pilots toward their craft. “We do not have enough hyperdrive capable fighters, scouting craft, and shuttles to meet the demand of the scouting parties. You will be assigned to one of these commissioned civilian ships.” He gestured to a rag tag bunch of space craft clustered in a dark corner of the hangar. The ships varied from one man skiffs, to shuttles, and even a couple bulky freighters. “We will determine each of your experience, and assign you a craft accordingly.”


Aden had been running down his list of coordinates for a few hours. Jumping from sector to sector, visually and electronically scanning them for a few moments before leaving.

He sighed in exasperation as there was nothing… again. He surmised that this could be considered a good thing. He began to run his pre-jump checklist again, ready to move on to the next sector. He had entered the jump coordinates and started to power up the hyperdrive generator. This old skiff handled like an atmospheric hoversled, that was a century old. Although his piloting experience lay mostly with freighters he had logged a fair bit of flight time and thus was assigned this fidgety old wreck, leaving some of the newer friendlier craft to a couple other relatively new pilots.

The generator grew ever louder, as it stored the energy necessary for a jump to lightspeed. He checked in. “Resilient, this is civ. scout echo-niner-six reporting no joy in sector Delta Forty-Two.” He paused and waited for the comms officer to respond.

“Affirmative civ. scout echo-niner-six, proceed to next set of coordinates.” An eager but placated voice responded dutifully.

“Copy that, niner-six out.” Aden shut down the comm.

A slight noise caused him to raise his head. It sounded like… hail, bouncing off a metal roof. It grew louder and more intense.

Space debris!

Though exceedingly rare, sometimes space fairing vessels were struck by small pieces of rock or debris flying through open space. Usually these were small pebbles from asteroid collisions, or other impact events in space.

A sharp SMACK! caused Aden to snap his head up. He saw a small surface crack had appeared where it had struck his canopy. “Time to get out of here!” He called to himself aloud. The hyperspace generator toggled green, and Aden flipped the switch. Three seconds to jump… two…

His skiff was suddenly struck by a large piece of debris on his right wing. The impact caused his craft to spin erratically in circles as both his pitch and yaw were dramatically affected. Warning lights and sirens flashed red and pierced the small cockpit. Aden panicked, but not a single thing was in his realm of control. The G-forces were beginning to mount. He simply let out a yell. “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” and held on to his yoke for dear life.

The fail safes should have disengaged the hyperdrive, but he could still hear it spooling up. Where there even fail safes on this model? To his horror the tumbling skiff shot into lightspeed regardless of a proper or original orientation heading from the navigation computer.

One thought ran through his head over and over… I’m going to die!

The Story continues in... Trench Foot

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