Episode III – The Youngling Menace

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Image created by Russ Linton. Rounded Jedi Font courtesy Davide Canavero. Imperial Assault Logo property of Fantasy Flight games.
Image created by Russ Linton. Rounded Jedi Font courtesy Davide Canavero. Imperial Assault Logo property of Fantasy Flight games.

The final installment in a three part series. Read Episode One and Episode Two if you need to catch up.

Captured, our band of Rebels has been locked away in a maximum security facility awaiting their fate for crimes against the Empire. They face a slew of charges ranging from misdemeanor Improper Use of The Force to the more serious felony charge of Disrupting the Peace…

“Who knew Force Fives were illegal?” sighed Diala.

From a dark corner of the cell, the Other Guy shrugged.

“Who’d you contact with your phone call?” asked Mak.

“The president of my Jedi SCA chapter,” said Diala. “I’m totally going to miss the Geonosis re-enactment.”

“What about you, Commander? You’ve been awfully quiet over there.”

Gideon didn’t answer immediately, but checked his watch instead. “Anyone know what time ‘bloop whistle bleep’ is?”

“Huh?” Mak cast a confused glance at Diala.

A click sounded deep within the workings of the cell door and Commander Gideon sat forward. “I guess about now.”

Mak’s eyes lit up. “Ohhhhh. You called R2!”

“Damn straight I did. Okay, listen up. Beardicus is out for more pizza. We’ve only got a few minutes. Security is offline and our equipment is down hallway whir whistle coo…”

“You’re still speaking droid, sir,” Diala interrupted.

Gideon squatted on the cell floor using his finger to map out an imaginary floor plan. “Our gear is that way at the security checkpoint. We have to get to position Alpha next then work our way to Kappa, disable the terminal there and then break off for point Upsilon to access hatch Theta. This will put us in the trash compactor where we can flush ourselves out of here but we’ll need…”

 

“DISENGAGE!” came Mak’s battle cry as he rushed into the hall. Blaster fire erupted in front of his headlong charge, the closest shot striking the wall six feet behind him.

“Did you say disable a terminal?” Diala’s eyes lit up and she raced around the corner.

Gideon fumed. The Other Guy shrugged, again.

***

Later, in the getaway shuttle…

Beep bloop whistle blurrrrrp. R2’s distinct chirps rang over the intercom.

Gideon laughed.

“What’s that?” asked Diala.

“He says you smell like you came out of the wrong end of a rancor.”

“Oh yeah? Well you tell him Terminus has a hunger for fresh circuitry.” Diala gripped her recovered vibroaxe and sunk into her shuttle jumpseat. “It’s his fault we all stink.”

“Hey, compactors are his specialty. It was the only way out,” Gideon replied.

Mak stared ahead vacantly while the Other Guy sat at the shuttle’s controls, only his helmet was visible above the high-backed seat.

“Okay, we’ve got maybe thirty minutes or less before Beardicus finds out we escaped,” Gideon announced. “That should be just enough time to touch down at our next mission site. And this time we have a choice.”

“Anything with a bar?” asked Mak, dejected.

Gideon shook his head. “We can either assault a factory and cut off the Empire’s access to IG-88 or we can hunt down an Imperial Officer with…” Gideon paused, casting a level stare at each of the rebels. “Han.”

Mak sat up, his eyes wide and floppy ears perked. “Really?”

Even the hardened commander had trouble containing his excitement. “Yep. We might just be able to chalk up another win.”

“I demand a shower before this so-called mission!” Diala screamed.

“Think he’ll sign my blaster?” Mak asked.

The Other Guy gave a hearty thumbs-up from the cockpit.

***

“Nice work, guys.” Han flashed a smile as he dispatched yet another stormtrooper in the chamber outside the docking bay. Diala felt her knees wobble and Mak bounced around excitedly in the smuggler’s wake.

“Can I shoot the next one?”

“Knock yourself out, kid.”

Mak squealed and mouthed the words: He called me, kid! He raised his blaster and took aim, winging a stormtrooper and spinning him in place so much that the trooper’s return fire seared through the air directly at Han’s chest.

The white die clattered to the table. A dodge. Han smoothly stepped aside and finished the trooper off with a casual flick of his own blaster. Mak gasped.

“All in the wrist.”

“Arrrrrgh! That die!” Darth Beadicus’ anguished cry crackled through the loudspeaker by the docking bay door. “I leave for a double meat, double cheese only to come back to a destroyed Imperial facility that will cost taxpayers millions to repair. Now more of that ridiculous dodging! That’s it! You’re finished!”

Han sauntered up to the intercom and leaned on the button. “Cool your hyperdrive, Beardicus. Sometimes a guy just gets lucky.” He winked at Diala and she felt her cheeks burn.

“Shut up and open the door!” glowered Beardicus.

Gideon eyed the door suspiciously. “Hold on. I’ll open it.”

“No!” crackled Beardicus. “Han has to open it!”

“Why’s that?” demanded Gideon.

“It’s…it’s…coded to his DNA. Biometric, that’s what they call it. Only he can open it.”

“I don’t like this,” said Gideon.

Mak placed a hand on Gideon’s shoulder. “Cool your hyperdrive, old man.” He withdrew his hand under the Commander’s withering glare. “Han’s got this. Right?”

Han smiled, his strong, cleft chin tilting in Mak’s direction. “Like always.” He pressed his thumb on the pad.

A malicious laughter buzzed over the intercom. Suddenly, IG-88 appeared next to Han. From the other side of the door rushed their target, the rogue Imperial Officer.

Han shot first.

The wound was grievous but the officer stumbled forward. “IG-88, KILL!”

In one quick move, the spindly droid raised two high-powered disruptor barrels and fired.

Han fell.

Dead.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Mak cried, falling face first near the already cast defense die. Terminus slipped from Diala’s grip. Gideon stood frozen, his mouth open in a half-spoken command.

“Ha! I win!” shouted Beardicus, rushing out from the bay where the Imperial was fleeing to his shuttle. “Ha!” He shouted, pointing wildly. “In your face!”

“Wait…wait,” Mak cried, desperately pointing at the die. “He dodged, see! He dodged!”

The room fell silent. Everyone gathered around the die except Mak who quickly stuffed his hands in his pockets. Darth Beardicus tilted his head, leaning closer. Sweat broke out on Mak’s brow.

“Is that…marker?” asked Beardicus, incredulous.

Mak raised his hands, the fingertips stained black. “Marker? I don’t have a marker.”

Beardicus waved his hand and a black sharpee floated from Mak’s pocket. Gideon sighed.

“You cannot defeat the darkside of the force!” Beardicus stroked his beard and laughed triumphantly.

The rebels stood around Han’s lifeless form, their faces turned down and expressions numb.

“I guess I can make it to the SCA re-enactment after all,” said Diala, turning to leave.

Mak sniffed and wiped his nose. He glanced at the blaster in his hand. “I’m gonna hit Ebay.”

Gideon looked at each of his warriors. “Well, one thing left to do,” said the Commander. He flipped the table and left.

“Wait! Guys? You’re done trying to defeat my reign of peace?” called out Beardicus.

“Yep,” said Gideon, disappearing into the living room.

“You killed Han,” said Diala.

“That’s just wrong.” Everyone looked to the Other Guy when he spoke. He shook his head and faded into the shadows. The room cleared leaving only Diala and Beardicus.

“Come on, it was fun, right? This is what you wanted, right?”

Diala’s face twisted and she shook her head.

“But you can’t give up now! There are two more missions. I worked so hard to plan them!” Beardicus was tugging desperately at his beard and Diala quirked her head as she saw a gap appear between the edge and his black respirator.

“Wait a minute.” She waved her hand, pulling the beard off with a precise force strike. “That’s not even real!”

Beardicus’ hands shot to his face. “I…I have a condition,” he cried, his voice breaking into several octaves through his face mask.

“You’re…you’re just a kid,” said Diala.

There was no response from the Dark Jedi as he turned away.

“That explains so much,” exclaimed Diala. “Vader showing up in the middle of a curb stomping. Constantly changing objectives. Using the Royal Guard Champion after you promised you couldn’t. Every single one of these missions was designed by a bratty Game Master!”

Darth Beardicus whirled to offer a retort but couldn’t find the nerve to speak at first. Finally, he gave a dejected response. “I guess so. I just wanted to play a game.”

“You did? I thought you wanted peace?”

“Yeah but I started having fun…”

Diala moved over to Beardicus and put her arm around him. “How about we have a mock battle? Like SCA. Forget these missions and all the complex objectives. An even playing field. No surprises.”

Beardicus looked up and ran a hand across his respirator before releasing a mechanical sniff. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” she said. “I’ll bet the others would be…”

“Nope!” came a chorus from the living room.

And with that peace returned again to the Empire.

Author’s note: Okay, I had way too much fun writing this and probably not enough explanation was given. You may actually need to experience Imperial Assault before much of this makes any sense. There are strategies buried in the craziness that is this story and a final recommendation – skip the campaign. Skirmish mode is likely more fun. But if you do decide to venture down the path of Imperial Peacekeeping, don’t kill Han Solo. That’s just wrong.

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