Tank wished he was wearing more clothes, especially something more substantial on his feet, but didn’t complain as they moved swiftly out of the detention block. Solo went first, hands held arrogantly behind his back, though when Tank looked closer, this position was meant to hide the worst of a ragged blood stain on his left cuff. He stared at the back of the troopers’ heads, noting how the armor made the stormtroopers appear very intimidating. But the way these two troopers carried themselves, it would be clear in seconds they were imposters.
Tank tried not to outwardly cringe. If they kept acting like new recruits on a training cruise, it would be a miracle if they made it as far as the mythical shuttle in the hangar bay, to say nothing of reaching the remains of the Rebel Fleet!
“Walk closer to the the prisoner,” Tank suggested in a low voice. “Hold your guns in both hands. Look straight ahead. Don’t seem so… I don’t know, so untrooperish. And tell Luke to look more like a prisoner. Unless he really wants to become a prisoner.”
The trooper on Luke’s right prodded him with the end of his weapon. “Hey Luke, the Imp says to look more like a prisoner.”
Out of the side of his mouth, Luke mumbled, “How do prisoners look?”
“I don’t know! Hey, Imp, how--?”
Tank didn’t let him finish, but whispered to Luke, “Stare at the floor. Look scared, a little lost, like you don’t know what’s coming next, but you’re sure it’s gonna be terrible.” Suns, Luke was a Rebel. Hadn’t he ever been taken prisoner before now?
A minute later, they rounded a corner and ran into an entire patrol of stormtroopers. A minute after that, Tank understood why Luke had never been taken prisoner.
One of the enemy stormtroopers yelled, “There they are; blast them!” Instantly, the corridor filled with wicked looking laser bolts and choking smoke.
Blood stain forgotten, a blaster somehow materialized in Solo’s hand. He pumped laser bolts towards the group as fast as he could, all the while quickly retreating back the way they had come. “Game’s up. Luke, you’re on!”
“Stun only!” Luke fiercely reminded as he immediately dropped the pretense of being a cowed prisoner and leapt to the front of the group, activated lightsaber gripped loosely in both hands. The next thing Tank saw was a blur of green as Luke used the glowing blade to effortlessly deflect every laser bolt aimed their way.
The amazing thing was not only the deflection part, but that Luke then sent the laser bolts unerringly back towards individual troopers, instantly stunning them with their own fire power. He lifted his left hand out and gave a pulling motion, using unseen fingers to yank several weapons back towards those behind him. He swished his arm to the side so that the five troopers right in front of them slid away to the wall. The hand next rose above his head, and three troopers flew to the ceiling as if tugged there by invisible ropes. They hung upside down for a second until abruptly shooting backwards to drop on top of a whole slew of their unsuspecting comrades, taking out at least twelve troopers with one motion. The green saber scorched the walls to black as another round of laser bolts careened into them. A third spray of laser fire ended up mowing down another file of troopers, and several more skidded to the right to smash into the white corridor wall before sliding down to the floor in piles of armor and splayed limbs. Off balance, stunned, or unconscious, the entire legion was taken out in fifty seconds.[a]
“Wow,” breathed Tank, his eyes wide. So this was using the Force. Was this what facing off against Darth Vader had been like? No wonder he’d had such a fearsome reputation.
Solo probed a downed trooper with the toe of his boot, flipping the faceless man over. “How’d they know we weren’t just transferring a prisoner?”
“Maybe there was a fourth trooper in the detention block, and he sent out an alarm?” one of the fake troopers surmised.
Luke just shook his head and muttered, “Doesn’t matter. Words out. Here’s where the fun begins. Lando, Wedge, get rid of that armor. No use wearing it when everyone already knows we’re here.”
“Can’t see in this stupid helmet anyway,” a dark man said as he tossed the offending helmet to the side. Then he glanced at Tank. “No offense.”
“None taken,” Tank assured. It had been a standing joke in the barracks about how horrible the line of sight really was in those helmets. Leg braces and chest plates soon clattered to the floor alongside the helmets. At least these men were wearing clothes under their armor.
“Tank, grab one of those guns.”
“I’ve already done it, Luke.”
“You’re sure it’s set to stun?”
Tank glanced at the bodies littering the corridor. “It’s a bit late to ask that question, don’t you think?”
Luke cocked his head. “Riiiight. Let’s go.” They took off down the corridor at a quick trot. “Tank, which way is fastest to the main hangar?”
“The shortest route is right through the barracks on level nine. But the quickest way is through the empty guest quarters.”
“And that would be..?”
“On level three.” Tank’s forehead wrinkled in puzzlement. “Don’t you Rebels have schematics to all of our SDs?”
“The old ones, sure,” replied the man called Wedge. “But the plans for these new ones are more carefully guarded. Too carefully.” The annoyance in his tone showed this to be from personal experience of the most negative kind.
If this Wedge fellow had tried to steal such plans in the past, then it was amazing he was still alive. But rather than comment on it, Tank simply said, “Then follow me, and if we get separated, follow your nose.”
“Yeah, we can smell you a parsec away,” Lando agreed, and Wedge gave an appreciative laugh while Solo kept glancing over his shoulder, as if expecting more trouble.
Luke, on the other hand, materialized right at Tank’s side without having to be prompted. “You lead the way, and I’ll clear your path.”
As fast as possible, they set off down another white corridor that appeared identical to the one they had been in, minus the stunned troopers lying on the floor. Tank’s tight black underclothes were at odds in the stark white of the corridors. He gestured toward Luke’s saber as he ran. “How did you get so good with that thing?”
“I told you,” Luke vaguely remarked. “I had a teacher.”
“Yeah, he was 900 years old, or something like that. Did he die?”
Luke nodded, and his expression turned sad. “He did. He was the Yoda that I mentioned before.”
Now Tank remembered. “That’s right, you did mention him. But you didn’t say anything about your parents; ever find out more about them?”
“I talked to your mom before I came to rescue you,” Luke commented, deftly changing the subject. “She doesn’t like me much.”
Tank did a double take. “If she spoke to you at all, then she was being nice. What did you need to talk to Mom about?”
“Things,” Luke said, negligently sending a stun bolt back at a trooper trying to capture them.
“Is this one of those times when it’s good to be careful?”
Two more troopers joined their friend in unconsciousness, and the group ran on.
“I noticed how you dodged the question about your parents,” Tank suddenly said. “Does that mean you don’t know anything more about them, or that you don’t want to talk about it?”
Surprisingly, Luke winced. “I haven’t quite decided yet.”
“Is it a secret?”
“It is… from a certain point of view.”
Tank reared back, a trick while at an all-out run. “A certain point of view?”
Luke tried to hide his unease. “My own point of view is fairly uncluttered, but I have to consider that I’m not just responsible for myself anymore.”
Did that mean he felt responsible for the entire Rebellion? A new government? The galaxy as a whole? Or was there something else going on here?
Tank had drawn a breath to ask when four more stormtroopers suddenly materialized in a side corridor. They raised their blasters only to have Luke pulverize their guns with the flashing lightsaber. Then he shoved them into the wall before any of them had time to react, and they slid into an unconscious heap on the floor.
“I can see how it could be useful having you around,” Tank idly commented as they hurried on.
Luke smiled, shyly admitting, “I have my moments.” Then the smile turned rueful. “But Wedge can tell you that I still can’t speak anything but Basic. Good thing that you don’t need to know any other language in order to fly, or I would be grounded, fast.”
“Still got your mechanic's license?”
Luke barked a laugh this time. “They don’t hand out many licenses to known Rebel sympathisers.”
“I let mine lag, too. It would make Fixer tear his hair out in frustration.”
Luke gave a half grin. “Good old Fixer. Do you know if he ever married… what was her name?”
“You mean Camie?”
Luke threw out his hand and used the Force to shove a lone trooper back down another corridor when he tried to outflank them.
They jogged on as Tank continued, “Don’t know. I haven’t been back to Tatooine in years, and I haven’t missed that dump. You?”
“I was back just a little while ago, but didn’t see anybody.”
Tank scowled. “What was the point of going back then?” Personally, he didn’t think anything was worth going back to that sandy rock.
“Had to rescue somebody.”[b]
Luke could make a business out of rescuing people. “In that case, I’m honored to be one among the crowd of people you’ve rescued.” They had reached a bank of elevators, and all five of them surged into an empty car. “Level three,” Tank brusquely ordered, and the lift swiftly rose.
The elevator door sighed open at level three… and the fifty stormtroopers who met them instantly pointed their weapons right at them. “Freeze!”
[a]Great description of action!