“No you do not get to have my rifle,” Siff said, clutching the weapon to her chest tightly. It was her baby, she’d reworked and calibrated and tinkered until the rifle was just right, and no, Carter could not take it just because he ‘only had a knife’. He should have thought to get his kit from the ship before she blew it up. That was on him.
“Look, you’re under my purview,” Carter hissed. They were both crouched behind a fallen tree’s roots while they waited for the incoming fire ships to circle and land. “So hand over the rifle.”
Siff scowled back. She knew she was supposed to submit to Empire Authority, all Chiss were when out in Imperial space. But. It was her rifle and he was undercover and- Siff sighed shoved the rifle at him, muzzle pointed safely up and away from them both.
“Fine. You break it, you owe me all the parts to make a new one,” she grumbled. “Give me the knife then.” Stupid Imperials, thinking they ran everything. (So what if they did? They were still assholes about it.) When Carter held the knife out to her, hilt first, she snatched it and grimaced at the feel of it in her hand. Twisting the pommel, she activated the vibroblade, and watched the edge of the knife start to glow orange-hot.
Carter stared at the blade for a moment then looked up at her, squinting.
“Do you own anything that’s regulation?” He asked under his breath. Siff wasn’t sure if he was disdainful or impressed. She chose to believe the latter even if she suspected the former.
“Regulation for… who? Mercenaries?” She whispered back, arching an eyebrow. “Yeah, report me to my superior for unsanctioned weapons. I’m real sure my C.O. will confiscate them.” Rolling her eyes, Siff adjusted her grip on the knife’s hilt. She didn’t like knives. They were all up close and personal and if there wasn’t at least an arm’s length or ten between her and the target, Siff felt uncomfortable. Embarrassing, but true.
Chiss weren’t supposed to feel uncomfortable with simple stuff like that. Technically Chiss weren’t supposed to be a lot of things Siff was. Flighty, awkward, used to adapting when plans went awry, all things that didn’t fit in with the Ice Queen image Siff knew she was supposed to fit. A sore point in her psyche, but one she couldn’t stop prodding like it was a sore on her lip.
Mother would be so proud, Siff thought bitterly as she darted from the cover of the tree roots toward a nearby tree. First I farked the job, then sort-of-kidnapped an Imperial Agent, and now using the tactic of setting a whole swamp on fire to steal a ship. Although to be fair, the fire was doing it’s job. More than that, the flames wonderfully backlit the silhouettes that rushed out of the ships to try to put out the fire. Siff crept from shadow to shadow, working her way carefully to underbelly of the closer of the two ships. A battered but still space-worthy gunship. A Ricker if she had the classification right.
The air cracked and one of the swamp firefighters fell over, missing half a head. The familiar report of Siff’s rifle echoed through the swamp, and she didn’t bother to hide the smirk at Carter’s muffled curse. So, maybe, she’d upped the stopping power a bit and sacrificed kickback.
No time to get distracted and gloat, Siff reminded herself. As the fire-fighters stopped fighting the fire and started firing at the fight, the Chiss woman scampered on her hands and knees until she was right under the ship’s cockpit.
Looking around to make sure that Carter had the fighters distracted, and he did, Siff rolled out from under the ship. Rifle fire cracked again and again, but Siff ignored it. She had a job to do and if she got distracted there wouldn’t be another bagful of explosives to bail her out. Climbing up to the cockpit, Siff was relieved to find it empty.
Hopping into the pilot’s seat, Siff looked over the controls for a moment then grabbed the ones for the guns. Maybe one day all the ships in the universe would be standardized, but at least the controls in front of her were clearly labeled. This must have been someone’s new toy they were still learning how to fly.
Swinging the ship around to the fighters left standing, Siff grudgingly had to admit that Carter was a good shot. Of the half dozen, there were only three left standing. A twi’lek male and two people in suits. Loosing a volley of laser fire, Siff made sure there were no survivors.
“HEY,” Shouted Carter, head poking out from behind a tree that still sizzled from laser fire. “You almost killed me!”
“No I didn’t,” Siff said, frowning. “I would have had to use a shot with at least 35% more power to break through the tree, and 38% to ki-”
“You almost shot me!” He corrected, still clearly angry. Maybe he hadn’t been in the field much? He seemed pretty upset about almost being shot.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t,” Siff said, motioning him to climb into the back of the fighter. “I have better aim than that. You going to get in or take your chances with that shuttle over there?”
Carter glared at her, then looked over at the other ship. Small, fine for short trips through the void, but the amount of rust along it’s hull was worrisome. Siff wouldn’t risk it, but she wasn’t a human male. They did weird things because of hormones. It was a point of pride that the weird things she did were all based on intellectual reasoning or desperation of circumstance.
“Let me fly,” he said, marching up to the Ricker. “You don’t know the coordinates of where my rendezvous point is.”
“Why would I go to your rendez-vous point?” She asked, arching an eyebrow. “I’m going to the nearest trading hub, selling this junker than you can find your way back to…wherever.” She puffed a strand of dark blue hair from her eyes. “Besides,” she added. “Last time you were the pilot we got shot down.”
Although it looked like he wanted to argue further, Carter snapped his mouth shut and stomped over to climb into the gunner’s seat behind her.
“Why are your ears red?” She asked, looking back at him as he got settled. “Are you embarrassed because you got shot down? It’s okay. A lot of people are bad pilots.”
“I’m not– I’m not a bad pilot,” Carter said, scowl just getting deeper and his ears and cheeks more red. “Just- just get us to the skrogging trade hub.” He looked upset, more than usual.
Siff shrugged, uninterested in pursuing his flying skills –or lack thereof– further. Instead she closed the hatch over them and shifted the engine into take off. As they lifted off, she glanced down with a wince to see that the fire had spread far further than she’d intended. Whichever Hutt owned the power plants wouldn’t be making much credit this year. Or… lifetime.
Well. Served them right for trying to double-cross her.
“Leaving atmo,” she said out of habit, and managed to bite back the rest of what she was so used to saying. ‘Where to, Grandad?’
Flying up into the darkness of space, Siff mentally reviewed the results of her first solo mission. Hardly a success, she now had an Imperial agent (presumably since he was undercover) in the gunner chair behind her, still holding her rifle. She’d set the swamps of the Hutt backwater on fire. And stolen a Hutt fighter.
Things could have gone better.
“Entering hyperspace in three, two…”
The first thing Carter did after setting foot on the small moon where they had landed. The Trading hub was busy and had enough wares for what Carter needed. First he bought new clothes and a holopad, ignoring the wrinkled nose of the merchant. Then he found a flophouse and rented a room. Carter gladly paid extra for a shower because he was going to wash off the smell of that horrid swamp and Emperor pity anyone who tried to stop him.
Only after he’d scrubbed off every decayed leaf and speck of mud, did Carter call in to his Commanding Officer using the new holopad. Skin pink and raw, he ran his hands over his face and waited for the call to connect. He could still feel the mud and bacteria on him. Ugh.
“Yessir,” Carter said, saluting the hologram of his C.O..
“Was the mission successful?”
Carter groaned inwardly, but at least… after everything that had happened, he had the information he’d gone undercover for.
“Yes sir. The economy of the local Hutt lord has been damaged and I made contact with the person of interest you requested.”
“I’ll forward you the file as soon as I finish detailing it. I have… some reservations. The contact was effective, but-”
“I look forward to reading your report. Your input as to suitability is not required. Return to Headquarters as soon as you’re able.”
The hologram blinked off.
Carter buried his face into his hands. Why Headquarters cared about an insane Chiss woman was beyond him. But it wasn’t his place to ask, he just needed to write the report and pray that he would never cross her path again.
Opening up the holopad to create a keyboard, he began to type.
[Chiss Female, known as ‘Siff’.
Hesitating at the end of the report, Carter added a new line under the notes section.
[Suitability for Imperial Affiliate Operative program: Extreme mismatch. Do not recommend except under exigent circumstances. Unpredictable behaviour and inability to follow all but the most direct of orders.]
Thanks for reading ❤