The Photonovel Alliance

-When we last left Col. Airen Cracken and his rebels, they had stolen and Imperial shuttle…


-Fleeing the bounty hunter Bane Malar and his Imperial forces, who had ambushed them on the jungle world of Felucia.

-Leaving behind one of the Quasile brothers dead and the other greviously injured.

A month later, events are about to unfold stemming from the beginning of that mission, a botched heist that left Imperial fighter ace Hans Kott with the shocking fact that his brother has joined the Rebellion.

-A thought he still dwells on as, in a supply room on General Yusef Quasile’s Star Destroyer, he tinkers on an ancient, broken down astromech droid.

-He is approached by his closest friend and fellow ace, Cpt. Oxixo.

——“Hans, you’ve got to stop running off like this. I had to use Terril as my Sabaac partner”.

-“I like this, Ox. It keeps my mind off other things”, Hans replies.

-With a sigh, he continues:

——“I guess I still haven’t gotten over losing Dad, and then Sila running off with his murderers. It’s not like him. Sometimes I wonder if I know the whole story”.

-“Well, the Empire never lies, Hans. That’s one thing we can always count on,” Ox tries to change the line of thought, pushing back his memory of who really killed Hans’ father. “And we have orders to report to the shuttle. General Quasile is taking us with the prisoner transfer”.

-The prisoner in question is being transferred to a remote Imperial prison on the frozen moon of Annesland, which is already home to many criminals including:

-Jafar Willix, vengeful commando with a grudge against Bane Malar; was captured during the skirmish on Felucia

-H’larr, diminutive Klaatu mechanic from New Tirith; joined the rebels before his capture in the Battle of Castille IV

-And former Lt. Hogan of the Imperial Navy, imprisoned pending execution for treason against the Empire. He now finds himself under the command of his former friend Commander Niles Klink, who rules the prison camp with an iron fist, determined to prove his continued loyaty to Palpatine.

-Klink now guides General Quasile through the camp as he delivers his prisoner.

-“I can assure you, General,” the Commander is saying, “No one has ever escaped from Annesland Prison, especially not under my watch.”

-“Good”, Quasile smiles. “See to it that it stays that way. I suspect his friends will attempt a breakout before the transfer next week”.

——“You needn’t worry about that, sir,” Klink replies. “I’ve requested assistance from two bounty hunters whom we have dealt with before, they should provide any needed backup”.

“Excellent work, Commander. Now there is an electric storm coming in tonight. Are you capable of providing quarters for me and my men?”

——“Of course, sir. Right this way”.

-As Klink walks off, Quasile turns to Cpt. Oxixo.

——“See to it that all of the boxes are unloaded from the shuttle, Captain. A small gift for the troops here on this frozen wasteland”.

-With the officers gone, the guards finish their escort of their prisoner, rudely shoving a diminutive Aleen to the ground in front of his new peers.

-The guards return to their stations and Hogan rushes to the aid of the freezing reptilian, draping him with a spare cloak. Instantly, he recognizes Havi Grayleaf, loyal teammate and friend to Col. Airen Cracken.

-As the two return to the group of Hogan’s closest friends in the camp, where Havi tells the story of how he got “captured”.

——“Well, it all began when Saigorr happened to overlook the tracking deviace on a shuttle we stole on Felucia. Then General Naht just happened to immediately order it out on another mission with only me on board. So when Marquand and Watts showed up, I was captured and taken here. Now tonight Colonel Airen Cracken himself will be here and by tomorrow we shall all be free of this frozen misery.”

-“You seem very confident of this Colonel, small one,” a bald human prisoner sneers.

——“Don’t worry Pops”, Willix replies. “I saw his team work on Felucia. If he wants us out, we’ll be out.”

-The siren for meal call sounds and the prisoners, now with a new sense of hope, shuffle off, but two do not follow. One, a mysterious stranger watches from the shadows…

-While the other, a deceitful Klantooinan goes straight to Com. Klink to report the new developments.

-That night, in the last few minutes before bunk call, Hogan’s inner circle huddle around a fire in the freezing cold, waiting for Cracken’s arrival.

-“ I don’t think he’s coming,” the Klantoonian gruffly barks.

——“Be patient, Graff,” Hogan calmly replies. “He’ll be here”.

-Sure enough, a mysterious figure steps out of the darkness into the light of the fire, revealing himself to be Col. Airen Cracken.

-The rebel leader walks straight to Hogan.

——“First, Lieutenant, I want to thank you for what you did for the Alliance at Castille IV.”

-“I’m not a Lieutenant anymore, Colonel”, the prisoner corrects Cracken. “But what’s your plan for getting us all out of here?”

———“Tomorrow, take your men to the hanger. You’ll find three crates filled with weapons”.

-“Wait,” Hogan interrupts. “How did these crates get here?”

——“I have my ways,” the mysterious rebel replies. Suddenly, the conversation is interrupted by a shout from Hogan’s lookout.

-“The Imps are coming!” the lookout whispers. “Get out of here!”

———Cracken fades into the darkness…

-As Commander Klink and his men storm into the gathering.

-A short while later, it has begun to snow, as all of Hogan’s allies have been lined up outside their barracks.

———“It has come to our attention,” Klink barks, “That there is one amongst you who is not supposed to be here! A rebel spy who seeks to free you. I can guarantee his failure, so do not let him raise your hopes! Now, turn him over to me, and you will be spared any collateral damage”.

-“Commander, sir,” Hogan replies. “Are you implying that you will execute us if we refuse to yield the rebel?”

——“Yes, Hogan, that’s exactly what I’m implying,” Klink snarls back.

-“I must protest, sir, that this goes against the founding virtues of the Aveneg Concord…….”

-“Shut up!” Klink turns to his men. “Open fire”.

-With that, one trooper fires a blast, killing Pops instantly.

——“Any confessions, yet, Hogan?” Klink sneers beneath his helmet.

-Two more shots ring out, killing one more prisoner and striking Willix in the shoulder.

——“Klink, stop this now!” Hogan yells out, but the Commander shows no sign of relenting until…

-Col. Airen Cracken pushes his way out of the crowd into the spotlight.

——“Here I am. Take me and let them go.”

-The next morning, General Quasile prepares to leave, taking with him his new prisoner as well as Havi, his bait. But before the shuttle departs, an enraged Hans Kott tracks down Cpt. Oxixo.

-“Ox, tell me what happened last night,” the furious pilot shoves his friend up against the wall.

——“Hans, calm down,” Ox stutters.

-“All right, I’ll tell you. You stood by and watched as that Commander murdered two of his prisoners. You did nothing!”

———“Just calm down, Hans let me explain. It was all for the greater good….”

-“How many would have you let die before it stopped being for the greater good? The whole camp? This was a blatant violation of the law, the law we swore to uphold!”

———“The Empire made the laws Hans, they dictate how they are enforced. It’s not our job to question…”

-“Well then maybe the Empire’s wrong!” Hans shouts. He turns towards the shuttle as Ox calls out after him.

———“The Empire can never be wrong Hans! Just stay calm don’t do anything rash!”

-“See you on the shuttle,” Hans mutters as he trudges through the freezing snow. His decision has been made for him.

-An hour later, Commander Niles Klink calmly cleans his blaster as he watches the General’s shuttle depart. His mind is focused on thoughts of promotion for his aid in the capture of the galaxies most wanted man, leaving no time to question how Cracken got into the camp, or to check the remaining supply boxes. And as he looks up to the sky at the distant shuttle, he first sees only a spark….

-And then, in an instant, an explosion lights up the morning sky and General Quasile’s flaming shuttle plunges to the icy river below………………

<<  Chapter 11
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Brought to you by Choi

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