Beta: A huge thank you to Cariel for beta reading this piece for me!
Notes: This tale is a continuation of Escapes.
Chopper both loved and hated the mission they had just received. Danger was present, but it was not ever present. He hated it because he had better things to do than play watchdog for another faceless, famous politician. As a representative of one of the republics, more staunch supporters she should have more than enough security of her own without having members of Torrent company adding to it.
Yet General Skywalker had specifically requested Chopper and his brothers to be her protectorates. Jester found it laughable, commenting that her own private army-the nameless, faceless warrior maidens-were more skilled than they were. Chopper begged to differ but kept his thoughts to himself. Jester was involved with one of the said maidens a petite beauty named Yané, and thus was biased in his opinion.
Immediately he was reminded of another warrior maiden. It had been weeks since their paths had crossed at the nightclubs. Chopper wondered how she was managing since that day or if her wounds from the bar brawl had fully healed. He had many regrets in his short life, beating the young woman's assailants senseless was not one of them.
The senator's expression was stoic and watchful as studied them while they stood to attention. Satisfied by the respect shown she spoke not a word to them but glanced to the handmaidens at her side.
"The journey will not be easy," she stated politely. One of the cloaked women replied in equally vague tones, "We are ready senator."
It was an exchange of code, one Chopper did not understand. He could almost see Jester smirking from behind his helmet. The scar-faced man scowled to the thought. Something was not right with the senator and he did not appreciate being kept in the dark about it. However, duty demanded his obedience and Chopper reluctantly gave it. It did not stop his good eye from burning into the petite woman's face as if in silent warning.
The journey from Coruscant to the outer rim was peaceful. Chopper knew enough to know it would not remain that way. The General had an uncanny way of know when trouble was going to hit, a side effect of being a jedi he supposed. Tucked away in a dark corner of the ship he diligently worked on his current project. The droid digit necklace hung heavy between his fingers as he worked on adding to the collection. It was a macabre way to pass the time, even he knew it, yet it eased the burdens of his mind and kept him sane. It did not distract him from the doubts he had about the Naboo senator.
Chopper knew nothing about the woman save her title and the rumours that linked her to the infamous General Skywalker. There was something distinctively familiar about her. The subtle details troubled him most. The lilt of her voice, the dialect of her accent, the way she carried herself and the age in her eyes. She did not have the silent poise of a woman raised into royalty. There was an edge to her that was difficult to ignore. The question remained, if this was not the senator than who was it, why were they posing as her and where was the real senator? Clearly, there was more to this mission than they had been briefed on, and it did little to ease Choppers doubts.
The ships klaxon blared without warning causing the scar-faced clone to jump to his feet. The necklace was promptly placed back on his throat, with his helmet covering his face a moment later. The ship shook violently as a deep rumble echoed through the dark hallway. Sparks exploded from torn wires, while the durasteel walls loudly creaked causing Chopper to curse under his breath, so much for a moment's rest. He raced down the halls and up the hatch that would take him to the upper decks.
"Damn tinnies have breached the hull! Time to get your chu'tu's into action boys!"
The sound of Checker's voice filled Chopper's commlink the moment he activated it. In the background, he could hear the sounds of laser fire. There was no sergeant in their group meaning Checkers was now in charge. The position should have gone to Jester but the war had changed him-as it did everyone-leaving him unfit for leadership.
It did not matter no one matter that was in charge as no one could top Slick's courage or charisma. He was a traitor, they were not, and in the end, it really did not matter any more so the thought was buried along with the nagging doubts.
"I'm on my way," he announced as he powered up his laser rifle. Where he was going, it was sure to be hot and Chopper was not a many to go into battle unprepared. The sound of metal feet pounding against metal warned him that trouble was near. Rounding the corner the scar-faced warrior promptly discovered that he was at an even greater disadvantage than he initially believed.
Droids poured in from a carved opening through the ship's durasteel wall their weapons aimed and ready. Out manoeuvred and out manned, Chopper froze in position his weapon ready and aimed at the enemy. His body was irresponsive as memories of another time; another place sent his mind spiralling back to the horrifying days of his capture. It was happening all over again, just the way it did the first time around.
Fire your weapon soldier! I said fire your frakking weapon! his mind screamed in a blind panic as his body grew taut, frozen with terror as phantom pains of old wounds flared back to life as though he were experiencing it for the first time again.
Searing pain tore through his leg and stomach as a voice screamed his name snapping him out of his horrified reverie. Dropping to the floor Chopper watched as everything before him unfolded in slow motion. Droids fell one by one lifeless to the ground while more soldiers-Naboo security-took to blocking off the opening in the wall while more fired shots at the droids attempting to enter. The senator was amongst them and was promptly rushing to his aide
Choppers disjointed thoughts began to register all that happened around him and the fact the politician had saved his life.
His helmet once a comfort had become suffocating. His leg and torso screamed in protest as he struggled to sit up, to remove his bonnet.
"Sit still you've been hit hard-I'm going to try and patch you up," the senator said as she removed the shrapnel that had once been a part of his armour in an attempt to reach his wounds. Chopper cursed through gritted teeth, he did not need help. Nor did he understand who this woman even knew his name, which only added to his suspicions.
"How in the blazes did you know my name?" he growled in protest. The woman gave him a look that reminded Chopper that a little gratitude for her assistance would be welcomed. He reluctantly gave his thanks causing her to smile.
"I'd recognise that droid necklace anywhere," she replied before going back to her task as all around them the firestorm continued.
"You were wearing it the day you saved my ch'utu," she explained in response to his surprise and confusion. The senator was none other than the petite woman he had defended back in the clubbing districts.
This time it was her turn to stare at him in surprise. "I didn't think you'd remember my name," she confessed before Chopper pushed her down just in time to dodge more laser fire. There was no time to ask why she was posing as the senator, or even what she was doing roaming the darkened halls of the royal star ship.
More droids were arriving and were soon overwhelming the security force sent to take them down. With a little help from Moteé's steady hands he was back on his feet his weapon set and firing shots at the tinnies. His shots were fast, hard and true leaving the robots with little chance to respond.
Moteé remained by his side, her own laser pistol smoking from her reign of fire. She was a spectacular sharpshooter. Between the weight of his own firepower and the speed of her quick rounds, they were an unstoppable team. However, Chopper's wounds ensured that they could not remain to see the end of the battle. Their actions had ensured that the tide would turn in the crews favour.
By the time, they had made it to the medical bay the assault was over. The Naboo ship and its crew had come out victorious. The blood lost the rush of adrenaline and the exertion of his already wounded body had left Chopper's head swimming. He lost consciousness just as the medical droid took to tending to his wounds. The damage done was extensive but not life threatening. Moteé remained by his side throughout the healing process. The distant memory of her warm, calloused fingers in his own hands served to remind him that it had been no dream.
It was two days later when Chopper found himself back in duty. It was the same mission he both loved and hated. Before him and his brothers stood the Senator of Naboo, her expression as before, stoic and unreadable. Their numbers were smaller now but still they stood tall and proud. Duty had demanded their sacrifice and though Chopper was uncertain about it all, he chose to honour the memory of his fallen brethren by being on his best behaviour.
Her dark eyes scanned over his brothers it was not long before Chopper could feel her gaze settling upon him. He could not be certain that the barely visible smile he saw was not imagined, but the mischievous wink she gave him was very real. It was their secret and he had no intention of ever sharing it with anyone.
Words were exchanged between Moteé and the Naboo security, discussions about the events transpired were briefly explained and new courses of action were set in motion. With a final word exchanged between Moteé and the handmaiden that Chopper suspected was the real senator the briefing drew to an end.
With a stiff salute and a hidden smile Chopper departed. Perhaps there was hope even for those like us after all, he thought as he made his way to the bridge. For the first time in all of his eleven years Chopper truly felt alive.