New Blood Strikes Back
By Michael Weyer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer owned by Mutant Enemy
Star Wars owned by George Lucas and Lucasfilm
Some material and dialouge taken from "The Empire Strikes Back" radio drama written by the late Brian Daley.
The character of Kasen Moor created for the video game "Star Wars Rogue Squadron" from LucasArts.
Well, after a bit of delay, finally going with the next part of my saga. Thanks for all the great reviews that have made me decide to keep it up and hope to have some fun tweaking things in the next set of chapters. All comments welcomed.
During her eight months in the hellish, never-ending heat of Tattoine, all Buffy Summers could constantly wish for was to try and reach a colder climate of some sort.
The fates, she should have realized, had a warped sense of irony.
It wasn’t that Hoth was cold. It was the fact that just going outside would cause her tear ducts to freeze and her lungs to feel like they’d burst. It was, as Xander put it, the kind of cold that would cause you to freeze an arm and have it shatter, that was how cold it was.
Exactly who came up with Hoth as the likely spot for a Rebel base was unknown. The half-joke was that the Alliance leaders were keeping it quiet for the poor man’s own safety from the troops having to endure this horrific cold. If nothing else, it seemed to keep them safe from the Empire as this would be the last planet anyone sane would set up a base of operations.
But there was always the chance of such a strike, which was what was leading Buffy to her current assignment, undoubtedly one of the least wanted in all of Hoth. She was astride a Tauntaun, a native beast of the area with resembled a lizard with thick fur that left off a smell she was better used to from demon lairs. The horns at each side of its head seemed to flare with each freezing breath it took as Buffy brought it to a stop to dismount.
She landed onto the snow, her boots sinking into the bank. She was clad in the thickest clothing available with dark pants and the typical brown-colored tunic. A cap with scarf-like cloth to protect her face was on along with goggles and a thick fur-lined hood. Her gloves reached to the pack at her back to take out a large cylinder and put it into the snow. She gave it a twist to allow the large red light at the top to start blinking.
With a sigh, she stood up, unwrapping her glove to reveal her comlink. Pressing it, she spoke. “Echo 2 to Echo 3 or 7. Han, Luke, either of you guys get me?”
There was a burst of static before a familiar voice replied. “This is Luke. How you making out?”
“About like you,” Buffy said as she gazed around. “It’s a hard area. Especially after Tatooine.”
Luke snorted. “Try living on that planet all your life. This place is even worse for me.”
“Got a few of the sensors set up already,” Buffy said. “Heard from Han?”
“Last I heard, he was still at the base,” Luke replied.
Buffy winced. “Oh, that can’t be good…”
As usual, her instincts were dead on.
It had taken the Rebel engineering corps some time to drill and carve out tunnels in the pre-existing caves of Hoth. Even now, the work was still going on as the Rebels spent most day and night doing everything possible to keep the base operational despite the conditions.
In the main command center, General Carlist Rieekan, a military veteran, was overseeing a meeting of various commanders. Princess Leia was next to him, her hair done up in a long braid along the top of her head, clad in a nearly white snow outfit. Nearby, as usual, was Willow Rosenburg, who had scrounged up a slightly darker version of the outfit, her hair in a tight bun as well.
Rieekan was listening as one captain spoke. “The tech crews expect the speeders to be fully adapted to the weather by tomorrow. We’ve managed to procure or improvise enough clothing for people and the heaters for the quarters are working well.”
“That appears to be our current base status,” Rieekan grumbled. “What of the sensors?”
“When Commanders Skywalker, Solo and Summers are through, we’ll have the perimeter set,” another man said. “We can expand it later on.”
“We’ll do it fast,” Rieekan stated. At first, some thought Reeikan was a bit too edged. But once they heard his past, they knew better. He had been at a hidden Rebel outpost when the Death Star passed en route to Alderaan. Reeikan had thought against sending a message of warning, not wanting to give away their position and not seriously believing the Empire would be so twisted as to destroy the entire planet.
He was, of course, completely wrong. It didn’t matter that no one blamed him at all for it; he blamed himself and as such he went out of his way to make sure any precautions that could be taken, would be and no one was going to argue with that.
“It appears we’re still short on a lot, including sleep,” Reeikan said. He turned to Leia. “Anything you’d like to add, your Highness?”
“Just this,” Leia said, stepping forward and clearing her throat. “I think everyone in Hoth Base is bearing up as bravely now as they ever did in battle. Please let your various stations know that.” There was a series of nods and mutters of appreciation as the various Rebel commanders left.
Reeikan leaned forward, sighing. “They’re worried even though they’re trying not to let it show.”
“They know this is our best change to regroup,” Leia pointed out. “Maybe our only chance.”
Just as the commanders were leaving, a figure in a blue coat burst in with a large fur-covered creature trailing behind him. “Is this the staff meeting?” Han Solo stated.
“Captain Solo,” Reeikan began.
“Ah, never mind, her Overwhelmingly Highnessness will do,” Han sardonically said.
Leia sighed. “What is it now, Han?”
The smuggler pointed at her. “Have me and Chewie been pulling our weight around here or not?”
“When the Falcon got shot up that last time, I knew we’d have to wait a bit for repairs,” Han continued. “But they’ve got the base’s ion cannons and defense placements set up along with the generators and the rest.”
“We still need to make sure the energy field is set,” Leia argued. “And the techs are still adapting the snowspeeders.”
“Look, I need a ship that works,” Han argued. “It got shot up helping you Rebels and-----“
“Aren’t you a Rebel, Han?” Willow interrupted. “Or do you and Chewie still consider yourselves ‘independent operators?’”
Han brushed back his hair. “Look, me and the Wookie get a little jittery when our ship can’t fly. That ship’s important and you need it too. All you got around here is some speeders, X-Wings and a couple old Y-Wings.”
“Yes,” Leia impatiently said. “Yes, we need fighters. We need supplies, we need provisions, we need more pilots…”
“Han, half the tech crews are dead on their feet as it is,” Willow added. “And they still can’t keep up with half of what the base needs.”
Han shook his head. “Hey, me, Chewie and Xander would have had the ship fixed by ourselves! But I’ve been having to spend my time running around planting sensors!”
“Which are needed,” Rieekan stated as he entered behind Solo. “As I recall, Captain, no one twisted your arm to keep working with us. So as long as you are here, I’m requesting you go back out on sensor detail.”
Han bit back his anger, apparently not wanting to upset the elder man. “I know, General. I was on my way out. Just had to discuss things with her Highness here.”
“You can have ample discussion time when you get back,” Rieekan said in a voice that left no room for argument. Han seemed ready to say something but instead just nodded and headed off. As he did, he spoke to Chewbacca. “Make sure Xander’s keeping his eye on the ball, ok?” The Wookie rumbled as they left.
“I see I missed another charming visit,” Kasen Moor remarked as she entered through another doorway. The dark-haired pilot was clad in an orange flight suit that did little to hide her shapely body. After a rough start, the former Imperial ace had been accepted by the Alliance with her terrific flying skills coupled with her knowledge of Imperial tactics. Leia had given her more of a chance as the women had both grown up on Alderaan and thus shared a common loss.
“How’s the speeder work coming?” Leia asked.
“Slower than we expected,” Kasen admitted. “Thos things were never top-notch as it is but moving them to this climate is causing problems with tools and getting the engines on-line.”
“Do you need more help?” Willow asked.
Kasen shook her head. “We’ll get it done. But thanks for the offer.” She brushed back her short hair. “I know this is a remote place but the morale around here is dipping along with the temperatures.”
“We’ll make do,” Willow said. “We have to.”
Kasen smiled. “You do have a gift for optimism, Willow. I’ve yet to figure out how that is.” She shrugged. “Maybe sometime I will.” She nodded to Rieekan before heading out.
Leia glanced to Willow. “You seem to have been spending more time around her lately.”
“She…reminds me of someone I once knew,” Willow explained. “It’s nothing, really.”
“Maybe not,” Leia said. “But I know how hard it is to keep any type of relationship, friendly or otherwise, going in a place like this.”
“Anyone…ever…tell you…” Xander Harris gasped. “You have...a serious effect…on my work habits?”
Mara Jade winked as she dressed in the tight generator room of the Millennium Falcon. “I don’t see you putting up much of an argument whenever I suggest it.”
“Like I have a chance,” Xander remarked as he zipped his pants back up. “You know, if Han suspected this was the reason my repair work on this ship is so slow, we’d both be buried in the ice right now.”
“He’s welcome to try with me,” Mara said with a dangerous glint in her eye. She turned to reach up and grab a set of tools from above. She winked at him as they exited into the main hanger bay area where an open conduit was waiting.
Despite having been with her for over a year, Xander was still uncertain exactly what kind of woman Mara Jade was. She was sharp in a fight and had some great flying skills that impressed even Han. She was flippant with a dark sense of humor but seemed determined when a fight came. And the sex…oh, wow the sex…
And yet Xander couldn’t help but feel Mara was keeping something from him. She seemed tight-lipped about her past but then again, so was Han so Xander didn’t find it too suspicious. But he couldn’t shake this nagging sensation there was something off about Mara. Something he feared might come back to haunt him.
But for now, he was too busy enjoying the nice company. It wasn’t just the sex that pushed him and Mara on. It was the fact she actually treated him with some respect, something that was really refreshing to him. While Han groused about having her along during their missions, she was a good addition to the crew and Xander couldn’t help wondering if she was willing to go with them when they eventually left.
As if hearing his thoughts, Mara spoke. “So, Solo’s really serious about leaving, huh?”
Xander nodded. “He’s put off this thing with Jabba way too long. He needs to pay him back before he can do anything or we’ll have bounty hunters up the wazoo following us.”
“Will he be back?” Mara asked as she moved a power torch to the wiring.
Xander shrugged. “I’m not sure yet. He keeps claiming he’s done playing hero for no reward but I think he really likes helping out.”
“Huh,” Mara smirked. “And I’m sure a certain Princess has nothing to do with it…”
Xander chuckled. “Good point. Not that Han will listen but it’s so obvious.”
Mara leaned in to the wires as she spoke. “So…you going with or sticking around here?”
“I don’t know,” Xander admitted. “I owe Han so I’d like to help out. But I also owe Buffy and Willow. I can’t just leave them hanging.”
“It’s a tough choice,” Mara acknowledged. “Then again, Buffy has been busy with that Jedi training with Skywalker. Personally, I think it’s a crock, but hey, to each their own.”
Xander rose up to check a nearby console. “We still have some time to get it settled. Come on, we have to get these repairs finished soon.”
“All right,” Mara replied. She smiled as she watched him. “Well, where you go, I might just have to go along. Not like you’d find anything better.” Winking, she went back to work as Xander tried to concentrate on the console rather than the shapely rear end before him.
Buffy grunted as she mounted her tauntaun once more, gripping the reins. She paused to tighten her scarf around her neck before checking her comlink. “Echo 1 to Echo 3 and 7. You guys there?”
There was static before Han’s voice came in. “This is Solo, Buffy. How are things on your end?”
“Quiet,” Buffy replied. “Any sign of life on your end?”
“Girl, there’s not enough life on this ice cube to fill the Falcon’s hold,” Han replied. “I finished my sensor check, heading back to base.”
Buffy nodded. “Heard from Luke?”
“Yeah, he said he was checking out a meteor that crashed not far from here. He should be back soon.”
“All right. I’ll check with you then.” She signed off and moved to plant her final sensor. It took her a few minutes before she rose up and activated her comlink. “Luke, you read me?” She paused but heard only static. Frowning, she spoke again. “Luke? Luke, come in.”
There was still no answer and Buffy felt a chill go down her spine that had nothing to do with the cold. She pulled her tauntaun around and galloped it to the direction Luke had last reported himself in. She urged it on, driven by the worry she felt for the man she’d come to call a true friend and partner.
More than anyone, Buffy could understand Luke’s uneasiness being a hero of the Alliance. She did her best to keep him grounded, although his humble life did help that attitude. She was also helping as they tried to train in the ways of a Jedi.
At first, Buffy had simply planned to help him learn how to use his lightsaber and fight. But as they went over records of the Jedi and their ways and tapped more into the meditation of the Force, the more Buffy got the feeling she could use it as Luke was. It was only minor stuff, like managing to lift small objects but they both were confident they could learn more. Willow had compared it to her own learning magic, needing to start small and get stronger. Buffy had been thrown about using the Force at all but Willow pointed out how she had never believed magic existed before meeting Buffy and was now a strong witch.
It seemed to create a connection between Buffy and Luke of a sort. It was that connection that was making Buffy realize something was wrong. Her suspicions were confirmed when she came across a large shape in the snow. She hopped off to investigate and recognized it as Luke’s tauntaun. The creature’s head was twisted to the side in an unnatural way with claw marks on the side of its face.
Quickly looking around, Buffy saw a series of large tracks going off into the distance. Mixed in was a pad of snow as if something had been dragged by whatever made those tracks. As her eyes followed the long trail, Buffy was caught by the sight of dark clouds in the distance, coming in close. A blizzard was coming and Buffy knew that a snowstorm on Hoth was lethal to the extreme.
Taking a deep breath, Buffy mounted her tauntaun and started to follow the tracks. She checked her comlink but could tell she was out of range from the base or anyone else. She bit back the fear in her breast as she pushed herself on, determined to find Luke before the chilly planet claimed another two victims.
So that’s my start for now. Hope to continue it soon, keep all comments coming.