Chapter One – A Long Shadow
Prologue – Part One of Two
Jundland Wastes – Planet Tatooine
A Z-11 Cargo Speeder skims across the rocky wasteland, the open bed loaded with numerous cargo containers bearing the Imperial Crest. Two Imperial stormtroopers stand at the back of the bed, each holding on to a vertical post with one hand. In the cabin, a clean-cut human drives, while a grungy looking one rides shotgun. “Hey boss, how are you gonna spend all dose shiny ImpCreds you get from dis job?” the passenger asks the driver. “Let’s finish the job before we worry about spending the money, eh?” the driver shoots back. The passenger shrugs and leans back in his seat, “Jes’ tryin to pass the time… How much further we got?” The driver rolls his eyes, “A couple more hours. That detour around the blocked-off canyon set us back two hours, now we’ll be lucky to make it to the Imperial base by nightfall.” The passenger, Gren looks out the window nervously. “We better hurry ap then, dontcha think?” The driver looks over, irritated. “You know I’m going as fast as I can,” he replies. Gren looks back at the driver, “I know uv a shortcut, get us back on schedool.” Reg’s head whips over as he looks at Gren, “Are you serious? How much of a shortcut are we talking?” Gren grins, “A couple uv hours. Settlar’s pass, itz called. Thens we don’t hafta drive around the Razorpeaks range. Reg looks at Gren suspiciously. “Are you sure?” Gren nods emphatically, “Yeah boss, it’s an old smugglers secret.” Reg looks down at the chronometer on the dash and nods. “Show me the way.”
The Cargo Speeder slowly approaches a slight incline at the foot of a mountain range. A slight ways up the incline, a tight pass between two mountains can clearly be seen. “You had me worried there for a minute, Gren,” Reg says, clearly relieved to see the pass. “I toldja boss, old smuggler’s secret,” Gren replies with a grin. Reg gives Gren a pat on the back, “Looks like you will be worth the money I’m paying you after all.” Gren just nods, and Reg guides the cargo speeder up the incline and into the pass. The pass is very tight and rocky, with sheer vertical walls. Reg tenderly guides the speeder through the pass, and the Stormtroopers in the back seem to be on high alert.
After a slight bend in the pass, Reg sees the wreckage of a landspeeder blocking the pass. He stops the speeder, and hops out of the cabin. One of the stormtroopers gets down and comes up to talk to him. After a short conversation, he motions to the other trooper, who gets off the bed of the speeder and joins him by the wreckage. As Reg opens the cab door to tell Gren to give them a hand, the wreckage explodes, sending the stormtroopers into the steep walls of the pass. The shockwave from the explosion knocks Reg off of his feet, and the world becomes a bit blurry for a few moments. As he begins to come to, he sees several swoops approaching from the direction they just came from. Dazed, he looks around a bit, before noticing that Gren is standing over him with a blaster pistol pointing at him. “Sorry boss, just business…” says Gren. Before Reg can manage to open his mouth for a response, Gren pulls the trigger, ending Reg’s life in a brief flash of red.
“Gren” ditches his overcoat, revealing a swoop rider’s leather vest beneath. On the back is the image of a Krayt Dragon’s skull. He waves at the approaching swoops, and their riders dismount near the back of the cargo speeder. “Good work, Coppo. Spikes will be very pleased,” says one of the riders, also wearing the same style vest. Answering his actual name, Coppo responds, “He better be, it took me weeks to gain this asshole’s trust. Let’s get this thing back to the hideout and see what kind of goodies we got, before the Imperials notice the missing shipment…”