Chapter 27: Only a few more seconds remained before she was in range.

33 3 9
                                                  

Assayer Neerada guided her TIE through Farsalt's atmosphere at speed. She ignored the turbulence and took a perverse pleasure in the pain the bumping caused in her injured leg. It drove her on and gave her the will to complete her task.

She hailed the Reaver for an update on her commands.

"Pina. Have you found her, Captain?"

"The genetic match has been identified and tracked your Eminence. She was assigned a speeder that we have pin-pointed. I have sent the positions through to your Nav computer. But we have no profile for her, no picture or even description."

"If what I suspect is true, then that makes sense."

"I have also instructed that we run natural interference - it should prevent them from picking you up on their sensors in a way that shouldn't make them suspicious."

"Well done. Keep a look out for any incoming hyperspace signals. Commodore Sarn is probably not too far behind us. I want to be gone before they arrive."

"Very good your Eminence."

Neerada forced her craft into a quick descent. Her gloved fingers honed the Nav computer in on the signal of the Royal speeder. It appeared as a beacon, travelling fast over the ocean, with five signals following in its wake.

If they had sensed her position, they hadn't taken any steps to evade her intercept trajectory.

The thrill of the chase ran through her limbs. Her thumbs hovered over the fire command of the TIE's cannons.

Only a few more seconds remained before she was in range.

She reached out and focused on the targets below her. She felt an urgency but no fear in their hearts.

That was good. That meant they really hadn't detected her.

She eased back on the control of the TIE and dropped back. She would let them get to wherever they were going before she engaged them.

After all, she needed her target alive. And trying to shoot down a moving speeder without damaging the pilot was not an easy thing to do.

But still, her own doubt grew. Would Commodore Sarn give her the time to take this approach? She grit her teeth. There was no other option.

***

Tayre was a minute from Ella's coordinates when Colonel Arnaud, the deputy head of palace security, made contact:

"Units Four and Five, ascend to a higher altitude and see if you can get a better signal reading over this interference. The rest of us follow the Princess to Ella's last coordinates. When we get near, the Princess and myself shall land with unit Three to form a ground security team. Unit Two will provide close quarter aerial guard. Is that understood?"

Tayre found herself nodding as the affirmatives fed in through her ear piece. She thumbed a private connection to Arnaud as the mountain approached and units Four and Five broke off from the formation and gained altitude.

"Do you think the Empire is behind this interference?"

"I don't know, your Highness. But the Reaver is still in orbit and we don't have any information about the other ship that entered the system. In my business, it pays to be cautious."

"Didn't this Captain Pina give his word to Farsalt that no further action would be taken?"

"He did. Part of me wants to believe him too. But Pina is an Imperial."

"Why would the Empire want Ella or me?"

That was a question she had been burning to ask her father ever since she had received his message that a security team was being sent out to bring them back. It seemed excessive.

Arnaud's security speeder pulled alongside hers, several feet away. It was heavily armoured and two soldiers sat in the back with a powerful cannon. Up front, flying, was Arnaud.

"If the rumours of Endor are true, your Highness, then it might be that the Empire has orders to take high ranking prisoners as hostages to keep control over the galaxy."

Tayre grinned. "Ella is high-ranking? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm the princess aren't I? She's the adopted one!" She said the words in jest, hoping to provoke Arnaud into giving some information away.

"Of course you are. But Ella is a ward of your father's. She is important to him and the Empire know it."

"But it's more than that, isn't it Arnaud? We both know Ella isn't a normal refugee that he rescued from the camps. Some people think she's a survivor from Alderaan, and that's why we all have to be so secret about her but I doubt that. I know her better than anybody and the few memories she has of her life before Farsalt are not as Alderaan was described in the–whoah!"

Arnaud's speeder suddenly veered into her path and Tayre was forced to pull to port to avoid a collision. Her speeder gave an ominous rumble as she forced it back on track, the stick heavier than usual.

"What the hell was that?" she shouted into her communicator.

"Sorry your Highness," Arnaud answered. "Turbulence."

"Yeah? Well remember I've got power problems over here. My bike's not as responsive as it should be!"

"'Your bike,' Highness? It was Ella's signal we were homing in on. We were surprised to find you on the wrong speeder."

"She's wise to your ruses now. She doesn't like being tracked when she goes off for one of her adventures. Though it would be nice if she told me she swapped our trackers."

They gained height as she guided them in to the secret place where Ella waited.


=================

If you liked this, then please vote for this chapter and leave a comment in the feedback section below.

We now have three of the book's four point of view characters operating in the same locality, which means they're stories are going to intersect and influence each other. As a writer this is always interesting, for there is a potential here for so many surprises: one character can set a trap for another, they might witness something another character is unaware of, and again it is all to do with giving the reader certain bits of information. Point of view writing also means that some questions are never really answered directly either, as many decisions from other characters happen 'off screen' and it leaves the reader having to hypothesise who did what and why - just as the main characters do. This is an excellent way to increase the empathy a reader has with the characters, as they are also aware of the blank spots in that character's knowledge.

Star Wars: Heir to the Sith (Part 1) (#Wattys2018 shortlist)Where stories live. Discover now