A Teenage Rebellion
'Ok class, you've got your homework for tonight. I expect it to be complete by tomorrow. You are dismissed.'
Dash's daydream ended as the bell rang. He quickly glanced at his chrono. '15:00 hours' he thought, 'Just enough time if I skip my last class.'
With his lekku twitching in anticipation Dash ran to the refreshers and after checking to make sure nobody was watching, cracked open the window and let himself down the three meter drop to the ground. Dash had been planning this adventure all week and knew that he had exactly 15 minutes until the next class started. He had to make his escape now.
Running over to the school speeder lot he quickly located his precious Ikas-Adno Starhawk Mark V swoop. The front repulsor coil was painted matte black and edged in durachrome piping up the steering column. Red and black designs were painted all over the body, accentuating the various durachrome engine components that were exposed. The landing sleds were upgraded to a durasteel fiber composite too. This was Dash's pride and joy.
Dash hopped onto the bike and felt his adrenaline rise as he started its engines. With a high pitched whine he gunned the throttle and the bike shot out into the side alley.
Ignoring the posted limits he roared down the expressway towards the industrial section of the city. He was in his element! His tchun and tchin, left and right lekku respectively, trailed behind him as the wind whip past his head.
He knew his destination would have holocams watching the main streets so he maneuvered his bike in a zig-zag path through various back alleys and duracrete drainage ditches. He slowed and let the engine's whine shift to quiet mode as he pulled to a stop in a very nondescript alley.
With the swoop's engines turned off, Dash paused to listen to the industrious sounds emanating from the factory one block over. 'Full production', he thought. 'I'm going to have to wait a few minutes.' He tried to sit as nonchalantly on his bike as possible. If someone would walk around that corner he wouldn't be able to give a good reason why he was just sitting there. The alley was empty and fairly clean. This was a newer factory and the usual detritus had not had time to pile up.
Finally the heavy sounds of machinery stopped and the sound of speeders leaving the factory one by one echoed down the alley. 'Ok,' he thought, 'this is my chance!' With a furtive glance around he approached a security door set in the side of the plain duracrete wall and quickly punched in a code into the glowing keypad.
Access granted: Dr. Cham Ryo. Security Clearance: Alpha Sigma 7
Dash let out a low whistle as he quickly ducked inside. 'I can't believe that actually worked!' he thought to himself. 'Now, what am I going to find in here?'
The corridor stretched out before him and then branched to the left and to the right. Dash sidled up to one corner and listened. Nothing but silence. He peeked around and saw a rather boring looking hallway with doors leading off of it in intervals. Turning right he scampered down the hall glancing at the doors as he passed. 'I guess it's just offices here.' he surmised, 'let's see if I can find something more interesting.'
At the next junction he paused to listen again and heard the daunting sound of stormtroopers marching on patrol. To his relief the sound was fading so he chanced a quick peek. Four guards in tight formation were marching away from Dash down the hall. 'Four per patrol? Hmm, OK.' he made a mental note.
Continuing down the halls he heard numerous patrols crisscrossing the office block. Afraid he would be caught he ducked through an unlocked door labeled 'Mezzanine Access' and quietly shut it behind him. In the dim light he saw a metal staircase rising before him.
All of a sudden a voice came from above 'I'm heading down to the main level now. The mezzanine is clear.' In a panic Dash lunged around the edge of the stairs and crouched in the space under the risers. A metallic clicking sound filled his ears as the stormtrooper descended. With his breath held tight and the blood pounding in his ears Dash watched as the storm trooper's feet appeared on the stair directly in front of his face. The trooper continued down until he reached the bottom where he hesitated slightly, one hand on the door's controls. The stormtrooper cocked his head to one side and after what seemed like an eternity activated the doors controls. The stormtrooper stepped through and the door hissed shut behind him.
Dash exhaled in relief and counted to fifty before climbing the stairs to the upper level. At the top the hall opened up onto a balcony overlooking a large warehouse. Keeping to the shadows he maneuvered around crates and shelves until he could see into the warehouse proper.
He gasped as he took in a scene out of a war holo. Huge durasteel walkers in various states of assembly were scattered around the floor. AT-AT was the official designation and stood for All Terrain Armored Transport. Like huge metal beasts the heavily armored hulls stood on twenty meter high durasteel legs and bristled with armaments. Each could carry up to 40 troops inside and the heavy laser cannons could easily level a city block.
'So this is where my parents work?' Dash thought to himself, 'I knew it was top secret and military but I thought it was more mundane, like logistics and trooper weapons. I've got to tell my new friends about this!'
After a few minutes of taking in the powerful machines and watching a patrol or two cross the warehouse floor Dash turned to leave.
'I think you better come with me kid.'
Dash's mind screamed as the stormtrooper, standing at the top of the stairs like a ghost, reached out and grabbed his wrist.
'Uhh, wh− where to?' Dash managed to squeak out.
The stormtrooper remained silent as he marched Dash down the stairs and out into the hall. Three other troopers waited and fell into step behind them.
'I can explain everything! Just slow down, see, I was here visiting my dad but he was in meetings and never got the notice I was here, and he left without me, and everyone else went home, so I went looking for him and …'
'Save it kid, you can explain it to General Stonebren in a moment.'
After a short force march down the halls the stormtrooper stopped at a door labeled 'General Vekis Stonebren'. The door slid open and the trooper shoved Dash inside. An Imperial Officer sat in black uniform behind a large desk. The desk curved to one side where a large stack of datacards sat in a pile. Rolls of flimsiplast drawings were tucked into shelves. A large book case adorned the other wall filled with a tomes like 'The Unification Wars: An In Depth Study', 'Mandalore's Mistakes and the Second Dynasty' and 'Trade Routes of the Inner Rim'.
Dash grimaced to himself. This was too like his mother's study at home. Imperious and pretentious. Filled with knowledge of a universe under enslavement. How could they serve so blindly?
General Vekis Stonebren was a sour looking man. He was slightly balding and had what appeared to be a permanent sneer carved into his face. While not overweight, the General definitely filled out his uniform.
The lead stormtrooper addressed the General, 'Sir, we caught him skulking around the mezzanine level.'
'A Twi'lek huh? Lethan by the color of your skin, I see. So you were catching a glimpse of the glorious might of the Empire, hmm?' Vekis' voice was as sour as his face.
Dash started, 'I can explain everything …'
'Sir.' Vekis prompted curtly.
'Uh, Sir, I can explain…'
'Yes, I'm sure you can. A red Twi'lek, ahh yes, you must be Dr. Ryo's kid, yes? Dr. Cham Ryo and Na Ryo?'
'Sir, yes sir, that's correct. Sir.'
'Ahh, right. Well, I'll raise them on the holocom's and we can start our discussion then.'
'Sir! That won't be necessary sir. You see, I just wanted to see where they worked and maybe try to catch them on their way out so we could grab a bite from that new Kragg's Burger Joint that opened in J Block and maybe catch the holo. It's a new one, the one with, Jynne Javal, you know her? She was great in that heist holo about some gem on Bespin and I just got curious and had to see, I didn't mean to get in the way, and, hey! Maybe, I… I have a great idea!'
'Uhh, yes?' Vekis blinked in the onslaught of Dash's words.
'You must hate doing all that filing, and there never is any time to get out and take in a round of Blindor Ball, so I could totally help you out! I'd come in evenings and work for a whole month!'
'Filing? Well, yes I don't get time to… what exactly are you suggesting?'
'Those datacards.' Dash exclaimed with exuberance, 'I could work for you. I'd come in evenings and file them. You wouldn't have to pay me or anything. It would be good experience and maybe I could surprise my parents with this. I'm sure they would be proud if I took some initiative.'
Vekis leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers together, 'An entrepreneur, hmm? You've got a lot of energy for a, how old are you child?'
'Seventeen sir.' Dash was glad he was under the age of forced drafting on this planet. Other planets had started to lower the age limit and he was sure he would have been whisked away to the Imperial Academy if he was any older.
'And your name is?'
'Dassh'ryo, sir. Dash for short.'
Vekis smiled as he pondered the young boy's offer and after some time said 'All right. You can start tomorrow evening. I'll get my assistant to show you what needs to be done. You will be here by 19:00, am I clear?'
'Dash, such an enterprising young mind. Have you given any thought of attending the Imperial Academy?'
'Nothing would make my parents happier, sir.'
'Maybe I'll have to write an introduction for you. Make sure you contact me when you are ready to apply.'
'Absolutely sir. Thank you.'
Vekis waved to the stormtrooper and turned back to his work.
'You talk fast kid' The lead stormtrooper said as he escorted Dash out of the building, 'That's going to get you somewhere one day. Either that or dead. I'd be careful if I were you.'
Dash got onto his speeder bike and gave a little wave to the stormtrooper.
'My talk isn't the only thing that's fast.'
Dash revved the engine to life and blasted out of the alley at high speed. Looking back Dash could see the stormtrooper making a lewd gesture at him. Dash smiled to himself as he left the factory far behind.
Dash knew that he needed to impart this information to his new friends immediately. He had met a few from this oddball group a few months ago and had quickly been drawn into their cause. It was some sort of rebellion or terrorist group against the Imperial Government. Dash wasn't exactly sure which.
The Baron was a pretty funny guy and quite outspoken. Dash liked him the best. He liked Damaria too but found it hard to talk to her and it wasn't just her Imperial way of speaking. Normally he didn't have trouble smooth talking his way anywhere but Damaria seemed to cause his tongue to trip over itself. Tor-nenko shared his love of the mechanical and that was an instant draw to him. He was still hoping that Tor-nenko would be able to boost his bike's top speed some day. Sprend Stormflight was different. Dash had a very uneasy feeling every time he caught Sprend's eye. It seemed like there was something buried behind those large red eyes. He shivered in his swoop saddle just thinking about what those eyes had seen. There was also supposed to be another joining them soon, some sort of ex-Imperial agent. Off-worlder was what the Baron had said. Dash just hoped it really was an ex-Imperial and not a setup.
Dash stopped across the street from the pub he met with his friends but hesitated to get off his bike. It was normal to see one or two stormtroopers pushing there way through the streets but today there were at least six that Dash could count. He didn't want to stare any longer and was worried what would happen if he brought stromtroopers into his friends' hideout.
'Well,' Dash thought, 'I guess my news will have to wait. There's no way I'm going in there with all these troopers around.'
He slowly pulled away from the road and cautiously merged in with the traffic. Dash sighed as he headed home. He realized that with the excitement of the last few hours he had totally forgotten to eat supper. Dash wondered if that Kragg's Burger joint was still open.
Pulling into the yard of his parents townhouse Dash attempted to remain as quiet as possible. If he could sneak upstairs to his room maybe his mother wouldn't realize that he had been out so late.
He hit the door's access button and started to take his boots and vest off. That's when he heard his parent's voices coming from the next room.
'I thought there was something funny about that place.' Dash's father was saying.
'Yes, they raided it this morning and found evidence of a rebel cell operating out of there.' Dash's mother seemed particularly pleased about that point. 'And to think that it was so close to our offices too! Well, Command apparently knows the identities already and will be rounding them up tonight.'
'Good good. Well that won't make security protocols any easier I guess. You'll be seeing to that, right Na? Oh hello Dash, I didn't hear you come in.'
'Dash?' His mother did not sound happy, 'You missed supper. Again. Maybe we need to start putting some limits on that bike of yours.'
'Mother!' Dash exclaimed, 'I was just out riding and I totally lost track of time. You know how that is, right father?'
Na's lekku twitched with frustration, 'Oh don't start with that again. Just because your father doesn't know how to keep time doesn't mean you get to use that excuse too! And I don't want you staying out until all hours. There are unsavory people out there.'
'Mother! You just don't get it. Riding my swoop is my life. I need to do it. I need to practice.'
'Not at high speeds I hope! And riding a little bike around will not be your life, Dash. You're almost old enough for the Academy. I know there aren't a lot of Twi'lek's attending but I'm sure you'll find friends there.'
'It's not JUST a bike, mother! And I already have fr… homework to do. I'm going to my room.'
Dash stomped up the stairs as his mother made a motion to follow him.
Cham stopped his wife, 'Just let him go dear. He's still young. I'm sure he'll come around. Just give him some space. I can almost remember what it was like at his age.'
Dash's mother gave an exasperated sigh, 'Fine. But you'll have to deal with that when's he older.'