The Photonovel Alliance
ERA OF DARKNESSChapter 1-09






    











The young rebel Dreya exits the temple, preparing herself to navigate the rough and snowy terrain.





She sighs as the cold air seemingly blows right through her.





As she continues her trek, deep noises can be heard in the distance. As the complex continues to crumble deep inside of the icy mountain behind her, explosions echo throughout the valley.









Her face is numb from the bitter wind as she presses on.





She takes in a breath from the sharp air as she scans the area, squinting her eyes to see through the snow.













The droid squeals, whirring with concern for his owner, as the young woman approaches the craft.





“R2,” she calls out over the wind sorrowfully. “The encrypted code, ‘no joy’, send it out as soon as we’re in the air.”





“And prep the hyperdrive.”





“We’re getting out of here.”









Captain Brior reflects on his situation as he walks down one of the many corridors of the Aberrant Dawn, slowly making his way to his quarters as he considers his fate.





He knows that hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women have walked these halls, and how life in the Imperial armada has changed everyone on board, himself included.





His footsteps reverberate with each stride, an empty beat down every cold hallway.





As he passes his crewmen, who are now under the command of Colonel Elliot, he tries to make eye contact with them.





Yet every time he meets someone they refrain from looking. They glare down the hallow blocks of the Star Destroyer, most likely thinking about their own duties and what is to become of their ship.





The captain knows that a difficult conversation lies ahead, and he continually goes through what could happen to him again and again. There are many possible outcomes, but none of them good.





His uncertainty makes him nervous as his hands become clammy under his gloves, and his hair stands on end. He carefully watches a pair of soldiers approach him.





“Sir,” says a Stormtrooper, breaking the narrative of Brior’s thoughts. “Hold here.”





The officer faces the men, knowing that they are following Colonel Elliot’s orders.

“You may refer to me as captain; I do still hold Imperial rank aboard this ship,” says Brior.






“Yes, captain”, reports the same trooper. “We have orders to stop you at this location.”





“Of course,” he replies. “I’d hate to keep the colonel waiting.”





“Us too sir,” says the other soldier.





“What do you mean they got away?” asks Colonel Elliot as she walks briskly down the hall.





With some hesitation, the trooper’s voice crackles. “Command reports turbo batteries didn’t get a lock on the shuttle before Able Squad made the jump to hyperspace-”





Elliot squeezes her first tightly in anger. “Relieve the gunner crews of their duties, and bring our secondary squad over from the Dark Talon. Replace anyone that cannot do their job, do you understand?”





“And where is Captain Brior?” the Imperial officer says quickly. “I have questions for him.”





“Will she be long?” Brior asks the men, having stood in the same place for several minutes. “I’d like to get to my quarters. It’s quite far from here.”





The two troopers look at one another.





One of the troopers nods at the other, prompting him.

“We have orders to hold positions until further notice, sir.”






“Very well,” Brior sighs. “To be held captive on one’s own ship. How odd, isn’t it?”





“Ma’am, crew members report that Brior was headed to his quarters to meet you there.”

“Find him then,” she says. “Locate Captain Brior, and bring him to me.”






“Sir-captain?” Asks the soldier, breaking the long silence. “We have…a question.”





“Yes…trooper?”





“Able Squad sir, we heard they were-”





“We heard they jumped ship,” says the other trooper. “Blasted out of the hangar-committed treason.”





“I can assure you, everything is just hearsay until the official reports are issued,” says Brior matter-of-factly as a crew member passes by.





“Believe me on this one troopers,” says Brior.





“We have much more important things to worry about on this ship than the whereabouts and rumors of a single squad.”





“Send a security team to Brior’s quarters,” says Elliot impatiently as she walks swiftly down a hall. “I want him found. He’s done something to let that shuttle escape, I know it.”





“Contact me as soon as you have him, and bring Lieutenant Sumner to command for further questioning. I need more information about this…Able Squad.”





Captain Brior sighs as he looks at the men. He grows impatient as he wonders why they have stood in the same place for so long.





“How long do we wait?” asks one of the troopers.

“Until we hear from her” reports the other.






One of the soldiers shakes his head. “We don’t want to wait here too long.”





“Yeah, it’s pretty exposed.”





“Everyone, attention!” says the colonel as she enters the command room.





“Wipe all recent memory banks and destroy all reports of this whole incident. As far as I’m concerned Able Squad never made it back from the planet below.”





“After completing that, bring me every file you have on the members of that team. I want to know everything: loadouts, past campaigns, connections! If it’s relevant, then I want it.”





“Tactical, dispatch three squads to search the planet below, I want to know what went on down there and why. If there’s still rebels down there then terminate them.”





“And someone get me an update on finding Brior!”





“Wait, I’m getting something: a report,” says the trooper through his helmet’s static microphone.





After listening to the message, the man motions towards the group. “Well,” he pauses. “Alright, we have new orders,” says the trooper. “Sir, we’re…moving you to a new location.”





“Follow us, captain,” says the other soldier.





“Colonel,” the squad leader breaks the officer’s concentration. “Here’s the prisoner as you requested.”





As Sumner is thrown towards Elliot, she turns on her heel to face him.





Her eyes narrow as she stares at him. He can feel her intense observation of his every reaction, as if he was being researched in a lab by a hundred instruments at once.





“What is your experience with Able Squad?”









“Speak! I want to know what you know,” she says firmly as she approaches him.





“Ab-Able Squad and myself?” asks Sumner with hesitation.





“Yes,” says Elliot coldly. “Their past, their connections. All of it.”





The young man watches the colonel as a bead of nervous sweat runs down his face.





“I will tell you everything there is to know about Kane and his men,” says Sumner quickly. “In exchange for my release.” His hands shake uncontrollably.









“You tell me where to find them, you foolish little coward, and I’ll give you more than your freedom.”





“Let’s keep moving, down through here.”





“Wait, did you hear that on the comms? They’re moving on his quarters now. There’s a security team en route.”





The officer furrows his brow as he looks at the men.

“That’s where I was headed,” he tells them. “That’s where I was going before you stopped me.”






“Yeah, don’t thank us now, huh?” says one of the men as he turns to watch the hallway behind them.





“Excuse me, trooper? Are you impeding an officer purposefully? Are you neglecting your duties?”





“What is this?” asks Brior. “What are your opperating numbers?” he demands.





“We’ll get back to you on that,” says the other Stormtroopers as he looks around.





“I never!” says Brior. “Both of you, how-”





“Quiet!” interjects one of the men holding up a hand for the group to listen.









The men stand in silence as the hall becomes empty, only the distance noise of footsteps can be heard.





“Are we clear?” whispers one of the soldiers cautiously.

“Copy, I think so.”






The men look back and fourth down the hallway as Brior watches them closely.





Suddenly one of the men begins to remove his helmet, quickly freeing himself of the cumbersome device.





“I’m Basso, this is Keel,” he says with a smirk. “We’re getting you out of here.”





“If you want to get off this ship alive-”





“-You’ll come with us.”



ERA OF DARKNESS
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