Mon Mothma was getting rather sick of looking at the same
sight: the other wall of the shuttle and the one leg of their droid
sticking in an awkward angle into her field of vision.She sighed. When
the first light of morning had crept into the shuttle she had been
relieved to be able to see, at first trying hard to make out the shapes
that had slowly emerged from the darkness, but she had quickly grown
tired of what she saw.
She had grown even more tired of not being able to move. The piece of covering that had been torn loose in the crash lay on her chest and legs like a metal blanket holding her pinned down, making it impossible to even shift around to look at General Madine trapped under the same metal panel next to her. He was much more seriously injured than she was, slipping in and out of consciousness during the night. She had somehow managed to get hold of his hand, slippery with blood. She could hear him breathing close to her but she couldn’t see him. He was unconscious now.
Earlier he had told her that Lina was dead. He could see her body, had said she must have been killed in the crash. Mon Mothma had not asked what exactly had happened to her aide. If she got out of this alive she would have to deal with it, now she couldn’t do anything and she didn’t want to know.
Gently Mon Mothma squeezed Madine’s hand but he did not react. She wondered again whether she would get out of this situation alive. This was such a stupid way to go. She had survived the crash itself, which was somewhat of a miracle, she thought. The chunk of metal that had torn loose from the ceiling could as well have killed her. She didn’t know what had happened to Matrishka or Neko, no sound had emerged from the cockpit since she had regained consciousness after the crash. K-1NO seemed to be destroyed, but apart from the one leg sticking out of the cockpit into which he had tumbled she couldn’t see what happened to him.
Once more Mon Mothma tried to move, somehow wriggle herself out from under the panel but her movement only sent sharp flashes of pain through her shoulder. Something was wrong with her left shoulder, she was not quite sure whether her arm was broken or dislocated or both. Apart from this she was more or less unhurt. Her body ached but there seemed to be no major injury done by the panel. Madine and, she assumed Lina, had taken most of the impact when the metal panel crashed onto them.
The light filtering in through the view-port, now criss-crossed with cracks, was slowly and nearly unnoticeable getting brighter.
Mon Mothma squeezed her eyes shut. How long would she have to remain here? How long would it take her to die?
That was a ridiculous thought, her people knew she was down here somewhere, they would certainly look for her. It might, however, take them a long time till they found the wreck of the shuttle. Mon Mothma did not know how far off course the shockwave had blown their shuttle, or where they were now. The shuttle was lying on its side on some kind of slope, she assumed, the floor was rising from the cockpit towards the end of the shuttle, the wall she was still leaning against was now more or less the floor. For some time Mon Mothma had feared that they were hanging in the branches of a tree but all through the storm that had raged during the night, the shuttle had never moved as it certainly would have, were they suspended in the air. At least the storm had died down during the later hours of the night.
Opening her eyes again she still could only see the other wall of the shuttle, which was more or less above her now, the broken window and K-1NO’s leg. She did not want to die here. She did not want Madine to die. He needed medical care now. Anxiously she listened to his breathing, afraid that it might stop any second. At the moment it was shallow but regular, indicating that he was unconscious. When he was awake she could hear from the little pauses and gasps that he was in a lot of pain.
“Please, please don’t die,” Mon Mothma whispered. She shifted her hand so she could lace her fingers through his, though the new angle made her arm hurt. At least the blood on his hand was dried, wherever it had come from the bleeding had stopped. “The Republic needs you, I need you. You are sometimes a pain but we need all experienced officers we have.”
She listened again, trying to figure out whether he had heard her somehow, even in his unconscious state, but he did not react.
Something big hit the closed ramp at the end of the shuttle. The sudden noise made Mon Mothma jump, and wince in pain as her shoulder was twisted by her movement. Involuntarily she held her breath, straining to hear what was going on outside.
For some time there was no other sound from outside and Mon Mothma was starting to wonder whether she had imagined the clang, or whether it had just been something natural that had bumped against the wreck. Then something else banged against the shuttle. Muffled by the metal of the hull she could make out some movement, too deliberate to be just animals. Then she heard voices. She could make out no words but it was definitely human voices, several of them.
Mon Mothma wanted to shout with relief and joy, but for some reason she did not. Perhaps her career as a cool-faced, emotionless diplomat had reduced her ability to express her emotions freely.
She would get out of this horrible place, get help for Madine!
With a wrenching sound the ramp at the end of the shuttle was starting to move. After resisting the attempts to open it for a few seconds the metal gateway suddenly sprang completely out of its hinges and crashed down. Somebody outside swore violently. Whoever it was, Mon Mothma was sure she didn’t know him.
“Hallo?” another voice shouted into the shuttle.
“Hallo!” Mon Mothma answered, surprised to find her voice quivering.
Somebody out there said something she did not understand, then the voice that had called out, a man’s voice, called, “we are coming in. Don’t shoot.”
Don’t shoot? Mon Mothma stared, completely confused as far towards the now open door as she could. Grey light flowed into the shuttle.
After a few scrambling noises a pair of mud-caked boots appeared in her field of vision, as their owner slowly lowered himself into the shuttle from the side of the door. A pair of grey-green trousers were tucked into the boots and a close fitted jacket of the same colour followed.
Mon Mothma swallowed when she realized what this meant. Her rescuer was an Imperial officer.
Very carefully so as not to slip on the steep floor and without stepping anywhere close to the panel under which Mon Mothma and Madine were trapped the man climbed down into the shuttle. The many coloured squares on his jacket identified him as a high-ranking imperial officer. He slid down to stand on the edge of the open doorway to the cockpit, looking down at her with a worried expression on his face.
Don’t shoot, Mon Mothma realized that he could not have known that she was in no position to shoot, even had she been armed. He had taken a considerable risk to come into the shuttle, unarmed as she saw now.
For some time they just stared at each other. The imperial officer, Mon Mothma wished she knew what his rank insignia indicated exactly, still looked worried. He was quite young, younger than she was, she assumed, with grey eyes and a thin-lipped mouth, now closed firmly. Not a widely pretty or handsome face but interesting. From under his slightly battered looking cap strands of short-cut brown hair emerged. His entire uniform looked somewhat rumpled but then, Mon Mothma knew, she had looked better herself. Something in his face told her that he had recognized her, though he still looked worried.
A second pair of dirty boots appeared, belonging to a second officer, this one with fewer coloured squares on his uniform and without his cap revealing blond, tousled hair. A surprised look on his long face, he perched on the bench on the other side of the shuttle, holding on to the window-frame.
“Mon Mothma,” the higher-ranking officer said, confirming her impression that he had recognized her.
She smiled wryly up at him. “You have me at a disadvantage.” She paused watching his expression becoming more puzzled. “I don’t know who you are.”
“Admiral Piett,” he answered. He looked at his companion.
“Captain Needa,” the other officer said, revealing that he had been the man to swear when the ramp of the shuttle broke loose.
An Admiral and a Captain! Mon Mothma couldn’t help but stare at the two men. She didn’t know a lot about the military organization of the Imperial navy, but she was pretty sure that there weren’t many Admirals around.
Captain Needa smiled at her, then carefully leaned forward to where she assumed he could look at Madine. He flinched and nearly lost his footing.
“I’ll be damned. If that isn’t Ensign Madine!”
Mon Mothma felt Madine’s hand closing around hers. “General, Commander Needa. I am now a General.” Madine said. He must have regained consciousness, perhaps woken by the noise, perhaps by her squeezing his hand harder than she intended.
“And I am Captain.” The Imperial Captain grinned and leaned back, looking at his superior officer who had watched him silently. “We’ve met a couple of years ago, when he was still in the Imperial army.”
“Ah.” was all the comment the Admiral made to this. He grabbed the droid’s leg which hindered his movements and handed it up to the Captain, revealing that it was only the lower half of K-1NO’s leg. “Here, get this out of here.”
Captain Needa took the half-leg and somehow managed to hand it to another man who leaned into the shuttle, out of Mon Mothma’s sight.
Meanwhile the Admiral, Piett, crouched down next to her, looking at her with that worried expression on his face he did not seem to be able to wipe away.
“How are you?” he asked.
Mon Mothma could only stare at him for a few seconds. There she was, trapped under a large piece of metal, unable to move and obviously at his mercy and all he asked was how she was. It was unreal.
“I’m fine,” she finally managed to say. “Madine is badly hurt.” She hesitated again but decided that she had to accept his help for whatever it was worth, for now. “I don’t know what happened to our pilots.”
Without a word he turned around and disappeared through the open doorway into the cockpit.
“We have to get the panel out first.” Captain Needa said, talking to somebody outside, she could now only see his legs. Unlike Piett, Needa had a blaster tucked into his belt. “It is very cramped in here, so the Admiral and I will try to lift it enough for you to pull it out.”
Mon Mothma could hear the Admiral moving in the cockpit. He talked to somebody. At first she thought it was one of the pilots, but he was speaking to one of the men outside consenting that they should try to force open the hatch to the cockpit. After some more discussions he climbed back onto the edge of the doorway.
“I am sorry, the woman is dead. The other pilot, the Twi’lek, is still alive but badly injured. The droid is completely destroyed.”
Mon Mothma suppressed a moan. Of course, she had known that it was highly likely that one or both of their pilots were dead but she still had hoped. Matrishka, I am so sorry. It was such a waste.
“I am sorry,” the Admiral repeated. He turned to Captain Needa. “Let’s get this thing out.”
Carefully he planted one of his feet next to her head and grabbed hold of the edge of the panel. Mon Mothma couldn’t see what Needa was doing but slowly the weight lifted off her, then the panel started to move away. Needa accompanied his efforts with a constant flow of expletives, while Piett remained quiet. When the panel lifted Madine slid down closer to her. He groaned in pain. Not trapped any more Mon Mothma could turn her head to look at Madine. His face was grey and blood had dried in his hair and beard.
“Careful,” Needa said. Mon Mothma could hear his boots slip on the smooth floor.
Finally the men outside managed to get hold of the metal and pulled it outside, while the two officers in the shuttle only made sure it did not bump against Madine or Mon Mothma.
Watching Admiral Piett cautiously pushing at the bit of metal Mon Mothma was again filled with a feeling of unreality. All she had heard of Imperial officers, all she knew from the few she had actually met, was completely contrary to what she was witnessing now. She would have rather expected them to shoot her in the face than help her out of this predicament. Imperial officers, like their master the Emperor, had no respect for life, human or non-human, they thought that Rebels were the scum of the universe which had to be purged and now there were two of these horrible people toiling away to get her and her friends out of a wrecked shuttle.
“There.” The Admiral gave the panel a final push and turned back to look around. An expression of horror appeared on his face which he tried to subdue, though not quite successfully.
“Bloody hell.” Captain Needa obviously thought it not necessary to restrain his reaction to their discovery.
“You know that the other passenger is dead.” Admiral Piett said, turning back to Mon Mothma.
“My aide, Lina. Yes, I know.” Mon Mothma said. She did not want to see, not yet, what had happened to her quiet aide. Instead she watched Admiral Piett still somewhat precariously perched on the edge of the doorway and the wall next to her head, leaning over to assess the extent of the Madine’s injuries.
From the cockpit she could hear some other men cutting the hatch open, while on the other side Captain Needa was helping to move Lina’s body from the shuttle. After a short commotion the hatch of the cockpit was cut open and Mon Mothma could hear people clambering into the shuttle.
After some time, Captain Needa turned his attention to Madine and with the Admiral’s help they slowly moved him towards the open back ramp. Piett had to climb over Mon Mothma who was still lying where the panel had pinned her down. He excused himself profusely for nearly stepping on her. Mon Mothma gave Madine’s hand a final squeeze and let go of it.
Her arm hurt from having been twisted at in uncomfortable angle for some time, her other arm was partially numb and the other part pulsated with pain. But given the circumstances she was alright.
She did feel as if something large and heavy had been dropped on her, but well, that was what had happened after all. To her own surprise she found herself smiling wryly at herself. She cautiously moved her right arm around, shook her legs to get the circulation back. Now she should be able to clamber out of the wreck on her own.
Awkwardly she rolled on her good side trying to ignore her bad shoulder’s complaints and managed to push herself up into a half sitting position. But now her injured arm was hanging down behind her, sharp flashes of pain sent sparks dancing in front of her eyes. She couldn’t move the arm itself and when she would try to use her good arm, she would fall over again. This was so stupid. She should have thought about this before she started to get up.
The Admiral climbed back into the shuttle and half-climbed, half-slid to her.
“Are you alright?” he asked again.
“It’s my stupid arm.” Mon Mothma managed to say through clenched teeth.
For a moment he looked at her then glanced up to the end of the shuttled. “Do you mind?” he asked, but before she could answer or really realized what he planned he had bent down and lifted her up in his arms. Without stopping he straightened up and climbed back toward the open.
Mon Mothma automatically threw her good arm around his neck, digging her fingers into his shoulder, holding on as for sheer life. A few times Piett briefly dropped his arm supporting her shoulders to steady his ascent then before Mon Mothma had had enough time to be worried he had reached the ramp and jumped down nearly onto Captain Needa who in turn just barely avoided falling over as he hastily stepped back.
“Dear me,” Needa commented dryly.
Carefully and making sure she could actually stand on her own, Piett set her down on her feet again. He stepped back looking strangely self-conscious as if he didn’t quite know what to do next.
As a matter of fact, Mon Mothma herself felt somewhat of a loss what to do now. She turned to look at the deformed wreck lying on a slope covered in bushes and brambles. Behind the wreck she could make out another three men busying themselves at the cockpit. In front of her, another officer in grey-green uniform was kneeling next to Madine tending his wounds. He gave orders to another man, that one in the white armour of a storm-trooper. To Mon Mothma’s surprise the trooper was not wearing his helmet, something she had never seen before. A couple more officers, one in black the other in green, looked on interested. Next to them lay the bloodied corpse of Lina, her head nearly completely severed from her body, presumably by the metal panelling. Without thinking Mon Mothma raised her hands to her mouth, only to nearly faint from the pain her mangled shoulder.
The Admiral grabbed her good elbow, steadying her. “Do you want to sit down?” he inquired.
This was just … somehow Mon Mothma’s mind refused to accept the fact that these were really Imperial officers, an Imperial Admiral, who helped her.
“Why?” she heard herself ask. “Why are you doing this?”
He looked taken aback for a second, then stepping back from her he answered making a sweeping gesture at their surroundings, “Ma’am, we are both stranded on a hostile and dangerous planet, we both want to get off here. We have a better chance if we work together.” After a brief pause he continued, “I do not doubt that even now your people are looking for you, but it may take them quite some time to find the wreck and all kind of things could have happened in the mean time. I have my men to think of, I want them to get off this planet alive. As I said, we both have a better chance if we work together.”
Mon Mothma looked around, finding all eyes on the men at this end of the shuttle on her, even Madine’s and that of the men treating him. The faces of most of the Imperials were blank, the stormtrooper was the only one whose face showed something akin to hostility but he still held Madine’s arm that the medic was wrapping in bandages.
Needa frowned at her briefly. “By the way,” he said, “these are not all his men. We’re a lot more.”
Mon Mothma remembered Matrishka mentioning that two TIEs had been sighted earlier that day, yesterday she corrected herself.
“They’re not here.” The officer in black said in reaction to her looking around as if she could spot them hiding behind the bushes. “We’re just the … rescuing angels.”
From the reactions of the others, the smirks and frowns, Mon Mothma assumed he was referring to some kind of in-joke that she could not understand. She wondered how many Imperials were on this moon. They had picked up quite a handful of them, stranded on the moon after the battle. How many more had not been noticed by her people?
A man in a black uniform walked up rapidly from the wreck. “Sir,” he said, addressing the Admiral. “I have checked the transmitter of the shuttle, but I am afraid, it is too damaged to be repaired. We …”
Mon Mothma didn’t pay any attention to what else he said, as behind him, two stormtrooper carried the body of Captain Matrishka.
Choking down a sob Mon Mothma stumbled to where the two men put the body on the ground, and fell on her knees next to Matrishka’s body. For a moment she stared dumbfounded at the mangled remains of the Captain, the metal shreds embedded in her body. Finally her mind accepted the picture she saw. The copper-coloured pieces of metal were what was left of K-1NO. For some reasons the droid had exploded and its hull, turned to deadly shrapnell, had killed Matrishka. There was not a lot left of the Captain’s face or upper body, only her mud-coloured hair, though now blood-matted, reminded of the vibrant woman Matrishka was, had been.
Mon Mothma picked up Matrishka’s cold, stiff hand which somehow had escaped the damage and prayed to whatever gods Matrishka had believed in to grant her entry to heaven, if that was what she wanted.
The two stormtroopers came back from the cockpit, this time carrying the unconscious form of Neko. They walked to where the medic was still busy with Madine and carefully lowered him to the ground. So much for Imperials always maltreating non-humans, Mon Mothma thought, not that she was really surprised anymore.
The other black-clad man who had worked at the cockpit came towards her, holding a round piece of metal in his hand. When Mon Mothma recognized it to be the head of K-1NO, blind rage against the droid who had killed Matrishka filled her for a moment and all she wanted to do was to smack his head open and rip out all the wires within. She wanted to smash her fist into the droid’s silly face. Of course, all she would probably accomplish was to break some fingers.
The man turned the neck-end of the head towards Mon Mothma, revealing a mess of charred and melted wires. “The droid is beyond repair,” he said.
Mon Mothma swallowed, trying to calm herself. After all it was not K-1NO’s fault, but still… “Yes.” she said slowly. “What happened?”
The man shrugged. “I don’t know. I think the droid was thrown against some piece of equipment that somehow …I don’t know how this could happen, but in a crash…, well it somehow pierced the droid’s shell and its power cell and in a, I guess in a kind of chain reaction the droid over-loaded and exploded.” He shrugged again. His gaze moved from Mon Mothma’s face to Matrishka’s bloody remains, he frowned and asked nearly absentmindedly, “what do you want to do with this?”
Mon Mothma stared at the head, fighting with her impotent fury against the thing. She didn’t know what the usual procedure in dealing with destroyed droids was. Usually they were either not too damaged to be beyond repair or they were blown to tiny bits which swirled around in space together with the ships they had been in. She did not care what happened to this piece of scrap metal, but if she said that the Imperial officers might think she did not care about the fate of their droids. Bury it? Somehow she felt this was not appropriate either, this would make her look helplessly infantile.
“It would be a great help if I could take it back to …” she hesitated, “to my friends. They might be able to salvage some useful information from its memory chips.”
What useful information, she wondered? About the banquet with the Ewoks or their crash? Not that she would ever wanted to be reminded of either of these events.
The man nodded at her, and strolled off tucking the head under his arm.
Mon Mothma remained kneeling on the ground. She tried to ignore the throbbing in her left shoulder. It looked ordinary enough if she looked at it. Her clothes were a different matter altogether. Now in the growing daylight she realized that compared to her torn, disheveled, mud-stained robes the Imperial officers looked prim and proper. Not that she looked improper, but white was not a colour to wear when getting into any difficulties - or crashing into a forest.
The Imperial Admiral walked over to her again. “Sergeant Lasalle says that General Madine has a good chance to survive if we get him off the moon and to proper medical facilities within the next couple of days. He is not so sure about your pilot. He has received severe injuries during the crash, particularly to his head. And of course Sergeant Lasalle’s experience in treating non-humans is not very great.” The last sentence the Admiral said with a ironic smile on his face. “Lasalle will attend to your arm as soon as he has done what he can to help your pilot.”
“Thank you.” Mon Mothma said, suddenly realizing that she had actually not thanked him or any other of her rescuers before.
Piett nodded, his minds on other things already. “What do you want to do with your dead?”
Including the Admiral there were nine men around her, some of them now busy building a fire. Mon Mothma wondered what he would say if she demanded that the bodies had to be taken with them, it would be possible, with two men carrying each of the wounded or dead. But no, she couldn’t ask for that, it wasn’t necessary either. “I would appreciate it if you could bury them.”
“Of course.” The Admiral nodded once more. “As you might have heard, the communicator in the shuttle is unfortunately too damaged to be of any use to us. We will have to return to our base and hope my men there will have managed to assemble a transmitter strong enough to reach your friends in orbit. I have just spoken to them,” he tapped on a communicator he had strapped to his wrist, “and so far they have not been able to do that, but perhaps we can reach the people who are looking for you down here.”
“Where are your men?” Mon Mothma asked, “and how many are they?”
“Where they are? Safe, I hope, for now.” He frowned at her. Was he afraid she would somehow be able to call down her “friends”, as they kept referring to the Rebels, to capture them? “As to how many… sixty-nine on the last count.”
The officer in black came walking over to them from the fire, holding plastic cups with steaming liquid in them. He handed one to the Admiral and gave one to Mon Mothma. When Mon Mothma looked at him surprised he said, “It’s not poisoned.”
Mon Mothma stared at him and took a sip of the hot, bitter liquid, some kind of tea she noticed. “Thank you.”
While the Admiral returned to his men, talking quietly with them and occasionally sipping his tea, Mon Mothma tried to decide what to do now.
But what could she do?
She didn’t have a lot of choice actually. The Admiral was right, they had to contact the Rebels and inform them of what happened. Her friends would be very worried about her and her companions. Piett might also be right to worry about what they would do should they come across a group of Imperials stranded on Endor. After all she remembered the violent discussion about what to do with the captured men all too vividly. There had been several officers, Madine among them, who had advised keeping all of them imprisoned until this was over. Only the argument that they would be hardly able of feeding the prisoners and had no clue how long this would take, had persuaded them that there must be a different solution to the problem. It had been late at night and somehow they had diverted into a discussion on what this actually was, when they would say, the prisoners were free to go. At least, when she had left, no decision had been taken. That had been the same night, they had discussed whether it was really wise to completely abandon Endor to its natives, and again the fact that they did not have enough money or men to keep a post here had prevailed. They would take all their equipment, and what could be salvaged from the Imperial base with them, even the transmitter they had built just a few days ago.
Mon Mothma struggled to her feet, gritting her teeth to stop herself from wincing, and walked over to the imperial officers.
He turned around. “Yes, Ma’am.”
“There may be another way to contact the fleet. We built a transmitter down here to be able to keep in contact with our other divisions during the battle, as a relay. Unfortunately it is not equipped to pick up messages from the moon itself, but if we could get there we could send a message.” Well, at least that was what she remembered about the thing. “The only problem is that it was due to be dismantled and taken off planet, so I don’t know whether it is still there.”
“Ketelli!” Piett called out, startling Mon Mothma, who for a moment thought this to be a swear-word in another language, but the man still holding the droid’s head rushed over.
“We may have a transmitter after all.” The Admiral explained. “It is …” he turned to Mon Mothma.
“I don’t know where it is I’m afraid. I know it can’t be that far away. And it’s not capable of receiving messages from short-range communicators, I think.” She added with a rueful smile. “I don’t know a lot about these things.”
“Do you know whether the transmitter is sending a constant carrier wave?” Ketelli asked but her confused face must have told him that the answer was a definite no. “If it does,” he said to the Admiral who was now joined by Captain Needa and the black-clad officer. “we might track it down by following the carrier wave.”
“Can we?” Needa asked, sounding something in between mocking and genuinely interested.
Ketelli nodded and ran to fetch something.
“If the transmitter is not close to the shelter, we have to split up.” Piett said. “Lasalle, Remier and four others will return to the shelter with the wounded and we,” addressing Captain Needa in particular, “and Ketelli will go to the transmitter with you.” He looked at Mon Mothma.
“I take it there will be somebody at the transmitter to keep an eye on it. I doubt that this person will allow Imperial officers to send messages from there?”
“Ah, I guess not.” Mon Mothma felt so stupid, she wished she could sink into the ground. “You’re right, of course.” Still she wished she wouldn’t have to leave Madine and Neko in the hands of the Imperials, helpless as they were. If the transmitter was not close to this shelter the Admiral just mentioned.
“Sir,” Ketelli came back holding a little box with a small display. “I picked up the carrier wave from the transmitter. It is in that direction.”
“Ah,” Piett nodded.
“Where is your … shelter?”
Ketelli, the black-clad officer and Needa all pointed in one direction, not exactly opposite the one where the transmitter apparently was but very nearly so.
“Ma’am,” a voice said right next to her shoulder, making her jump and splashing even more tea over her already stained robe.
“I didn’t mean to startle you,” the medic, Sergeant Lasalle, said. “I want to look at your arm. Do you want to sit down?”
Mon Mothma nodded and let herself be led to where Madine and Neko lay on the ground, both covered with blankets of the same colour as most of the Imperial officers’ uniforms. Apart from the one officer in black and the man holding the droid’s head. They must be army, Mon Mothma now remembered.
Lasalle knelt on the ground next to her. He tried to roll up her sleeve, but noticing the pain it caused her, simply cut the garment open, only afterwards asking her whether this was alright.
“Doesn’t matter, it’s ruined anyway.”
He grinned and ran a scanner briefly over her body then more slowly over her shoulder. “Well, it’s not too bad. Compared to the others, I should probably add. You just dislocated your shoulder and your left humerus is broken as well. Apart from that you sustained some bruising but nothing that needs medical attention.”
Getting a syringe out of his bag he filled it with some clear liquid. “That’s just a painkiller,” he explained. “A strong one. You wont be able to use your arm for a couple of hours, but otherwise I wouldn’t be able to set the shoulder and the bone. –” He carefully injected the liquid into her arm “Well, of course I could but I think you wouldn’t like it a bit.”
“I very much doubt it as well.” Mon Mothma said, though she thought this joke not particularly funny.
Lasalle returned the syringe and took some bandages out of his bag. “No other aches or pains?”
Shaking her head Mon Mothma looked as on as he prepared something. After a few minutes her shoulder stopped hurting quite abruptly, so suddenly that Mon Mothma clutched it automatically with her good hand. Lasalle grinned and snipped at her shoulder with his index-finger. She actually felt nothing at all, it was as if her arm had vanished.
Lasalle waved his earlier assistant to come over and instructed him to hold Mon Mothma firmly by her shoulders. Then slipping one hand under her arm, he yanked at her arm violently. The arm popped back into its socket with such a sickening, wrenching sound that Mon Mothma screamed even though she didn’t feel a thing.
“I’m sorry,” both Lasalle and Mon Mothma said at the same time, then grinned stupidly at each other.
“Yes. It didn’t hurt, it just … sounded so awful.”
With deft fingers Lasalle was apparently setting the broken bone of her arm and wrapped some bandages around her arm and shoulder. In no time at all Lasalle was finished with her and he and his assistant returned their attention to the other two wounded.
For a few minutes Mon Mothma was left alone to muse again about the strange situation she found herself in. The Imperials wanted to get off the moon, which was an understandable request, and Mon Mothma felt they had every right to ask for the Rebellion’s help. The problem was that she knew a lot of Rebels would rather leave them stuck on Endor or imprison them. Particularly the high-ranking officers like Admiral Piett or Captain Needa.
Mon Mothma looked over to the two officers who were discussing something with the black-clad officer and the man who was still holding K-1NO’s head under his arm. The black-clad officer argued, waving his arms around widely. It was Captain Needa who answered him, while Piett was looking on quietly, as did the other man, Ketelli, that was his name. Mon Mothma wished she could listen to their discussion but if she walked over now she would look nosy. What were they talking about? She wondered whether some of the Imperials would also rather shoot her than help her and her companions.
The three stormtroopers were now busy digging two graves, while the other man was preparing something over the fire.
The discussion between Captain Needa and the army officer was cut short when Piett said a few words. The army officer still didn’t look happy, but after shrugging his shoulders he walked away. It was the Admiral himself who, after talking to the man at the fire, finally came over to Mon Mothma. He carried two small bowls with spoons sticking out of them. After carefully sitting down on the ground next to her he handed her one of the bowls. Seeing the surprised look of her face he smiled reassuringly at her.
“It’s not poisoned.”
“Standard Imperial breakfast.” He explained.
Mon Mothma watched him eat for a few moments and then gingerly tasted her own. It was pleasantly warm and tasted of sugar and cinnamon. Not exactly what she would choose for her own breakfast, but now she had started eating she realized just how hungry she was. She had only nibbled at the meal the Ewoks had served them the night before, still somewhat dubious about the contents of the food.
Piett watched her in turn with a quizzical expression on his face. Perhaps he was just as curious about her as she was about him and his companions. The Rebellion had never captured an Admiral before. She wondered what he had been doing during the battle. Which ship he had been on, what the command structure of the Imperial navy was. Madine presumably knew something about this, having been part of the Imperial army earlier, but she had never bothered to inquire about it.
“Somehow,” she said, deciding to take the plunge and just start somewhere. “I always thought that at least Imperial officers would have something fancier for breakfast than porridge.”
“Under usual circumstances I could have, but these are not normal circumstances. – And then I guess by the time you reach the rank where you can do that you’re so used to your daily porridge you can’t live without.” He paused and stared into his bowl. “They probably put something into it to make you addicted.”
“Really?” Mon Mothma exclaimed before she saw the grin on his face. “I see,” she added feeling immensely stupid once more. But somehow she still couldn’t help being somewhat suspicious about her breakfast.
“Sometimes we can’t help but believe in our own propaganda,” Piett said after a short pause.
Mon Mothma stared at the Admiral who was smiling quite amiably at her. Of course he was right to a certain extent, but it still disturbed that an Imperial told her this. After all, unlike the Empire they did not use propaganda to spread lies about their opponents, they didn’t need to. Obviously they stressed the negative aspects a bit more than the positive sides. They were at war after all. But then – she had been surprised that the Imperials acted like ordinary, decent people and not like some kind of mad monsters. It seemed that she had started to believe their own propaganda and had not even been aware of it.
“You’re right.” She grinned guiltily and resumed eating. “It is so much easier that way. And it’s going to take a lot of hard work to convince both sides that we now have to work together.”
“Now?” He frowned at her. “Do you think …” He paused, searching for words. “Do you think this war is over?”
“I wish it were! But I am afraid that even though the Emperor is dead…” Mon Mothma stopped when she saw the shocked expression on Piett’s face. “You didn’t know?”
“No. I thought he escaped from the Death Star. There must have been enough time after the shield generator was destroyed to get away.”
“He didn’t.” She wondered briefly whether she should explain what had happened, or at least what Luke Skywalker had told them had happened. Darth Vader killing the Emperor. What would his reaction to this bit of news be? She felt too tired to the get herself drawn into a discussion about the reasons for Darth Vader's actions. “He died on the Death Star.” She felt a pang of bad conscience about the ease with which she was able to tell politicians’ lies. “That’s what we’ve been told. We followed the Imperial news service closely and the reports have been confirmed. If Palpatine was still alive he would reassert his authority and make sure everybody knows he is still around.”
Piett nodded. “What is going on? Out there.”
Mon Mothma sighed. “We don’t know exactly. The INS were still pretending that everything was alright, that is, the Empire was as strong as ever, a new Emperor would be selected within days, but I guess that’s sheer desperation. Just before I left yesterday we found a new channel starting to broadcast. Independent Interstellar News or something like that. They had just started by taking over the local INS centre on Costira.”
Mon Mothma was still all excited when she thought about this development. It had been one of the earliest signs of Palpatine's bid for absolute control when he united the local news programs. Hardly anybody complained as in the beginning the new and then “Independent” News Service was a great improvement to the smaller and often incompetent companies. Damn, that had been the year before she became involved in the Rebellion.
“Do you think News of the Galaxy will be back?” Piett asked suddenly.
“News of the Galaxy? You remember them!”
“Ma’am, I am not that young. I was in my second year in the academy when INS was started.”
“Of course.” She smiled as from out of the depth of her memory the spherical chime of the News of the Galaxy opening sequence popped up in her head. Damn she was getting all sentimental about the past. As if things had been so much easier then.
“You were outlawed the next year, weren’t you?”
“Yes. – But I am surprised that you know that.”
“Well, you were one of the first people who were publically outlawed and a lot of us at the Academy thought that by acting as if we were supporting you we could annoy our superiors, though I guess they really weren’t bothered. It was in my third year, because I shared the dorm with Lass Petteski then and he had a pin-up of you in his locker.”
“A what?” Mon Mothma stared unbelievingly at the Admiral and then burst into laughter. “A pin-up of me?”
Piett grinned at her, then cast a quick glance at the rest of the little group who had all turned around when Mon Mothma had started laughing. The Imperials were probably wondering what she thought was so funny.
“I knew I was famous but not like that.” She tried to stop laughing but only managed to nearly choke. Piett laughed out loud as well, more amused by her reaction than the story itself. Mon Mothma knew that her exaggerated reaction was caused by the events of the last night, that she was close to hysteria. At least she could vent some of her emotions like this.
“So what’s up?” Needa said, looming over them and pretending to look sternly at Piett.
“He just told me about my career as a pin-up.” Mon Mothma managed to say, wiping her eyes. Gods, it had been ages since she laughed hard enough to cry.
Needa raised his eyebrows.
“Lass Petteski had a picture of her in his locker.”
“What happened to him later?” Mon Mothma asked.
“He was killed in the battle of Iole.” Piett answered all humour leaving his face.
“I’m sorry.” The battle was one of the ignoble hours of the Rebellion. The military command had decided to shoot down all Imperial vessels, even those who surrendered or were incapacitated. Mon Mothma had argued against it, but in vain. For some time she had seriously contemplated leaving the Rebellion altogether, but with the help of General Hall Thorp she managed to convince the military command that they could only win this war if they did not become the enemy.
“So am I. – By the way,” Piett turned to Captain Needa, “It’s official, the Emperor is dead.”
“I told you.” Needa looked down at the admiral for some time, then he looked at Mon Mothma. “And you are now trying to take Coruscant?”
Mon Mothma nodded, too surprised to say anything.
“Good luck, by the time you get there, there will be at least four men who will claim to be emperor.”
“Worse. The Empire was falling apart rapidly even before this debacle. Without the Emperor it’s going to be a mess.”
Needa’s comment confirmed what she had expected. The death of the Emperor was not yet the end of the war. But before she worried about the developments on Coruscant they had to get off this moon. And that meant getting to the transmitter before it was dismantled.
Mon Mothma scraped the rest of her porridge out of the bowl. Piett finished his quickly and assembled his men to attend the quick and quiet funeral of Lina and Matrishka. Mon Mothma recited the funeral rites which had become standard in the Rebellion, not bothering that the men listening were Imperials who didn’t know the two dead women. With the sense of renewed loss, Mon Mothma thought that Matrishka would have thought it very hilarious that her funeral was attended by Imperial officers. She would be annoyed to know that she had been killed in a accident and not in combat.
After the funeral the Imperials got into marching order with great efficiency and after another brief discussion between the army officer and Piett the two groups set out; the stormtroopers, Lasalle, the army officer and another men, perhaps a pilot, returning to the shelter with the two wounded, while Piett, Needa, Tob Ketelli – having handed the head of K-1NO to Sergeant Lasalle – and herself headed towards the transmitter.
Chapter 12: In which
Admiral Piett is cought in a landslide
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