Template:PostIn CatH Post 22 Clear and her group are forced to flee Excelsior after Kiron Nightstrider murdered Warlord Strang. They break through a checkpoint where they're forced to kill the stormtroopers on guard. Once through they make it to The Hopeful where Wai, having evacuated all of the technicians, had the ship ready for launch. Once everyone is aboard, they leave Excelsior. In the Command Centre Pully expresses her anger at the situation before leaving the room and Kiron's condemnation of her is swiftly countered by the wise words of Telkrin Izep. Aurora requests that they go to the Rebel Alliance where they would be rewarded. As they prepare to jump Excelsior opens fire - but Wai jumps before they could be damaged too badly.
The last hassle of the escape. A security check-point before anyone could enter the docked ships. So far the whole group had been able to saunter along in broad-sight of everyone. Kiron Nightstrider wore his red helmet and the rest of them marched along, escorting the chained up princess as they went. The Æon Knights drew the most attention, them being outsiders, but everyone else in the group appeared to be doing what they were meant to be doing. Clear is surprised that no one had yet checked on Strang in the meeting room.
Clear: "Why is a son of Algernon working for Strang?"
Kiron: "I joined the Empire when I was young. Progressed through the ranks and when I was offered the role of Imperial Guard, a kind of promotion for loyalty, I took it. When Grand Admiral Thrawn was killed I was actually on sick-leave. Here on Excelsior. That kind of determined my position. I wasn't even awake during all the fighting. Afterwards I was automatically under the rule of Warlord Strang. I hated him and I felt like a traitor to the true Empire. Then I heard he captured Princess Aurora Briarose and I knew he was going to execute her. I couldn't stand by any longer. Sorry that you got mixed up in it."
Clear: "I don't like what you did. Not one bit. But I wasn't happy here either. I'd been trying to think of a way to escape for some time now. You just forced my hand."
She presses a communication button on her wrist device.
Clear: "I want everybody off the ship. Sound the alarm that there's a radiation leak or something."
Wai: "Easily done."
Pully: "Who was that!?"
Clear: "Uh... a friend."
Pully: "Was that that God damn A.I.!? I knew you saved him! I just knew it!"
Clear: "Lucky I did, isn't it!? Otherwise we'd never be able to start the ship without a whole crew of people."
Pully: "I'm not even sure it's ready to fly at all to be honest. The medbay extension took a whole chunk of the schedule. This little escape attempt could end in disaster."
Clear: "I know the engines are working. Wai already checked."
Pully: "I can't believe you hid that from me."
Clear: "I didn't want you to betray Strange anymore than you had to, Pully."
Pully: "So explain why he's dead and I'm a fugitive..."
Clear: "That's not my fault!"
Guard: "Halt. Please swipe your passes through the machine."
Kiron goes first. Clear. Then Pully. Also clear. Then Clear approaches with the Princess.
Guard: "Where are you taking this... woman?"
Clear: "Uh, prisoner transfer. To ... The Hopeful."
Guard: "I wasn't notified! I'll have to clear it."
The guard motions for two stormtroopers to take the handles of the princess' chair.
Kiron: "Screw this!"
He breaks his staff in half and slams one of the blades into the armpit of a stormtrooper. Clear pulls the princess' chair away from the incoming guards, running backwards past the three knights. All three have their glowing blades exposed and as she passes she hears a strange sound emitting from the blades- almost choral. Telkrin easily guides his sword and slices the head from the stormtrooper that had chased Clear. The sword cuts through the neck of the man like a hot energy knife through warm butter that had been left in the sun for an hour.
Kokoro Lymn, who Clear had to guess was the Muovinian that Strang had proclaimed, moves with such precision that even her teacher didn't seem to possess. She practically dances her way through two soldiers, slicing them both in twain. Her sword cuts through the stormtrooper armour without hassle, which amazes and scares Clear.
Princess Aurora: "All this violence!"
Clear: "It's awful, I know..."
Princess Aurora: "It's bloody terrific!! Smack 'em with the chair!!"
Kiron grabs a stool with his free hand and smacks the head guard with it, sending him flying against a wall. He turns, snatches the sword he'd left embedded in the other trooper's neck, and then returns his attention to the guard who is trying to climb back to his feet. Kiron violently thrusts the knife up into the chin of the man, the blade cutting straight through his entire skull and pokes out at the top. Kiron yanks his blade back but it's quite stuck. He has no time to prise it free as a soldier shoots at him. A blast grazes his red armour but he's too quick for the stormtrooper. He throws his remaining knife straight at the enemy - the weapon smashes through the visor of the man's helmet and impales him squarely between the eyes. The soldier falls flat. Kiron releases his weapons from the two dead men and looks up to see the entire guardpost is now quiet. He wipes the blood from the blades and fastens them both together again to make his pike.
Princess Aurora: "Wow! Such gallantry!"
Clear: "Such carnage..."
Telkrin: "It is an unfortunate loss of life, Clear. I'm glad you are so empathetic. But their deaths were necessary. If not them, then surely it would have been us."
Clear: "I know. I know. Doesn't stop me feeling bad. Especially because I just... kind of joined them... we'd better get moving. I don't know how long it will be before someone investigates this point. And I don't know how long it will take for all the technicians to vacate my ship."
She pushes the princess through the checkpoint.
Telkrin: "Kokoro, Ffion, I want you to watch this area. Monitor the communications. We'll patch into them so we can listen, but I want you to try to divert them as long as you can."
The two young women nod their acceptance and begin to move dead bodies out of sight. Clear and the rest of the group arrive at the ramp to The Hopeless. Even standing outside of it, Clear feels the strange warmth of home beginning to draw her in. Like everything will be alright as soon as she's home again.
Technicians are gathered outside the ship and one of the foremen is doing a head check. When he sees Clear he gives a quick salute. The kind of salute of a man that doesn't care for it but knows he has to.
Foreman: "Captain. Sorry to inform you, but there's been a radiation leak onboard. No idea where it came from. Probably that crazy core you have in there. I tried to get a look at the thing but it killed one of my men."
Clear: "I did warn you of that."
Foreman: "I know, Captain. But curiosity got the better of us. Didn't make that mistake again. Hard writing up death reports, especially for such a senseless death."
Clear: "Sorry that it happened. I hope you'll be okay..."
Foreman: "I'll be fine once... here they are."
Some more technicians are exiting the ship. That's when Clear hears the communications light up from the checkpoint - the sound buzzing in her ears.
Comms Officer: "What happened?"
Ffion Heul: "Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh... everything's perfectly alright now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?"
Clear groans and Pully facepalms.
Princess Aurora: "The woman is an idiot."
Comms Officer: "We're sending a squad over."
Ffion: "Uh, uh, negative, negative! We had a reactor leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak, very dangerous."
Comms Officer: "Who is this? What's your operating number?"
Then suddenly there's a screech of static before Clear, and those also listening, are able to switch to their private channel.
Ffion: "Boring conversation anyway. Teacher, we're gonna have company!"
Telkrin: "Next time, Ffion, please allow Kokoro to use the communicator."
Ffion: "She talks like a robot doing yoga."
There's a moment when Ffion's voice becomes faded - likely arguing away from the microphone with Kokoro.
Telkrin: "You should both come to me now. There's no more you can do there."
Clear: "Well, up we go. The foreman says all his men have gotten off. Kiron, take the princess onboard."
Kiron pushes Aurora up the ramp. Pully stalks after him, watching his every step.
Foreman: "They can't go in there, Captain! The radiation leak!"
Clear: "It was nice knowing you, guys!"
Clear runs up after Pully and Thrain follows her. When Clear gets to the top she turns to wait for the rest. The two Æon students finally appear and Telkrin asks them to get on first. Ffion nods casually to Clear as she passes, while Kokoro gives a sedate nod that is almost like a bow of the head rather than a mere nod. Telkrin comes up last.
Telkrin: "Thank you, Clear. You're doing a very brave thing."
Clear closes the doors behind them.
Clear: "I'm not the one wielding the swords."
Telkrin: "Sometimes it is easier to wield the blade, than it is to watch another do the wielding."
Clear: "Your students must hate it when you talk like that."
Clear activates her wrist device to talk to Wai.
Clear: "Get us out of here, Wai. Once we're far enough away, activate the jump drive. Get us to the nearest system, then make an immediate jump again. Do it three times. That'll confuse anyone trying to follow us."
Wai: "Aye, aye, skipper."
She feels the faint grumble of the ship's engines. Once she could never have imagined what The Hopeful's engines purr would be like and now she hopes to never hear it silenced ever again. She and Telkrin head towards the Command Centre. There Kiron is talking to Aurora and Pully is watching them.
Clear: "Where are the others?"
Pully doesn't take her eyes off of Kiron.
Pully: "Thrain went to check on Green. The two mini-assassins went off to find rooms. I guess they think they're staying."
Clears turns to the rebel princess and her saviour.
Clear: "You've gotten everyone into a lot of trouble..."
Kiron: "I know that. I do regret it. If I had a choice I wouldn't have exposed you to this. But there was no other way."
Princess Aurora: "Actually I would hazard that it was a stroke of luck that you were there, Captain Clear. Nay, dare I say, fate? Without you and your ship, I doubt we should ever have escaped that accursed place! And, of course, the bravery of the Æon Knights! Thank you all."
Pully: "How many people did we just kill and all you have for us is thanks?"
The room falls into a brief and awkward silence.
Princess Aurora: "You're right, of course. And yet they were all soldiers, trained and prepared to kill me and anyone else that doesn't obey the will of a despot like Strang."
Pully: "Better to bow and scrape to a princess is it?"
Princess Aurora: "I would never ask for such a thing. The monarchy of Algernon is... was a constitutional monarchy. Much more of a symbol than of any actual use. We were expected to sit pretty, smile, wave and encourage the populace. That's all."
Pully: "Yeah right. At least Strang was carving out his own destiny. Making a name for himself and the people that followed him. You rebels just bring chaos and bedlam."
Kiron: "Are we going to have a problem, Imperial?"
Princess Aurora: "No need for that, Nightstrider."
Clear: "I trust Pully more than I trust you, Kiron. Don't threaten anyone aboard my ship..."
Kiron: "I apologise again, Captain."
Clear: "And Pully, stay out of political debate, okay?"
Pully: "I've just had my entire life ruined. Sorry I can't take that as easily as you... Sir. I'll be in my room."
When Pully had left, Clear sighs.
Telkrin: "Poor girl. She obviously had a lot of love and respect for her master."
Kiron: "Then she was blind to the man's true nature."
Telkrin: "There was plenty to admire in Strang, young Nightstrider. He was a man of vision and drive. The will to succeed. You yourself have committed quite a few atrocities this day. Perhaps you shouldn't be so swift to condemn?"
Kiron opens his mouth to retort but then relents and falls into deep musing.
Clear: "Where do you want to go, princess?"
Princess Aurora: "Rebel space. There I can rejoin my people. I'm sure they'll reward you. Everyone."
Clear: "I don't think anyone did this for the reward, princess. But thank you. Maybe your reward can help finish the repairs to the ship."
Princess Aurora: "Will the ship be safe?"
Clear: "I don't think it's ever been especially safe for travel. But Wai assures me it'll stay in one piece. Kiron, you need to take the princess out of her chair and held hold of her by the wall."
Clear: "The jump systems on this ship are very, very old. There's a safety mechanism that pins us against the walls during jumps."
Kiron: "How unusual... your Highness.... may I?"
Princess Aurora: "A bit undignified... but since becoming a cripple, I'm getting used to it."
She lifts her arms and Kiron hoists her from the hoverchair. He edges closer to the wall. Then the ship shakes.
Telkrin: "That... didn't feel like a jump."
Screens flash up on the wall monitor and display the turrets of Excelsior blasting in their direction. The Hopeful is as vulnerable as ever and the laser fire is easily shredding whole parts of the ship's outer hull.
Wai: "Don't get your knickers in a twist, Clear. Jumping in five... four... three... two... one... jump."
Everyone is flung against the wall.