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[This story occurs during The Old Republic era]
Events occurring between 5,000 and 67 years before the Battle of Yavin.

[ no cover image available ]

Short Story
This story was first published
online at StarWars.com

It is now available at:

[ Suvudu.com ]

Smuggler's Vanguard
SHORT STORY
Robert Chestney
Lucas Online
Story published as:
Short Story (2010, 2012)

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Synopsis:

!! SPOILER WARNING !!
This synopsis is a full summary for published story

For all of her adult life, Hylo Visz has worked as a smuggler and although fortunate in that she owns her own starship, the Crimson Fleece, life as a smuggler was never easy, especially when working for the Hutts. But Hylo has learned to trust not only her own abilities but also those inexplicable portents of forthcoming bad luck that most people choose to ignore - like the time when her father was forced to walk the streets because his landspeeder had broken down on the very day he was killed as the result of Imperial crossfire during a raid; or when her mother had stained her favourite dress just before she became ill and died, leaving Hylo orphaned and abandoned on the dirty and crime-ridden streets of Nar Shadaa. However, a young Hylo discovered she had a natural talent for all things mechanical and it was this that saved her from being killed or becoming a thug for one of Nar Shadaa's crime lords.
Now she was en-route to Corellia, transporting two prototype ion engines - designed on the Smuggler's Moon, Nar Shadaa, and destined for the Republic military - on behalf of Barrga the Hutt. Although Hylo had worked for Barrga many times, the Hutt does not fully trust her and so Hylo is accompanied by two of Barrga's thugs: a Nikto named Musk and a Weequay whose name Hylo can't pronounce or remember. Upon their arrival at Corellia, the Crimson Fleece and its cargo is directed to the landing platforms belonging to the Rendili Corporation, and not to a military spaceport. Although surprised at the change of destination, Hylo is not overly alarmed as she has not experienced any omens of bad luck on this trip.
When they land at the Rendili facility, they are greeted by a protocol droid declaring that the Crimson Fleece has not been cleared for landing. While Musk sends the droid back to its office to double check the computer records, Hylo is alarmed to discover that the Fleece's hyperdrive generator has shut down by itself. Realising that this is a portent of impending bad luck, Hylo attempts to launch the Fleece but is overcome by the Nikto and Weequay.
Fortunately for Hylo, the thugs decide to lock her in one of the Fleece's cargo holds - the one sure place any smuggler would have installed escape hatches. Shortly, Hylo finds herself on the landing pad and discreetly hides amongst some storage crates. From her hidden advantage point she views the approach of the returning protocol droid, now accompanied by a smartly dressed businessman, a trolley of credit boxes and an armed guard. She witnesses the business transaction between Barrga's thugs and the Rendili representative - the ion engines are unloaded and the credit boxes loaded onto the Crimson Fleece. Hylo faces a dilemma of what to do next - should she try to sneak back on board the Fleece, hide and try to explain to Barrga her actions, or should she stay on Rendili and try to find someone to help her?
However, Hylo took too long in deciding and was dumbstruck to hear the Fleece taking off and flying away. Her bewilderment at her own predicament soon turned to shock when her ship explodes in mid-air! The Rendili Corporation had double-crossed both the Crimson Fleece and Barrga the Hutt by planting explosives in the credit boxes. Although upset by the loss of her ship, Hylo realised that her instincts were right and because of this she had survived.
Upon nightfall, Hylo makes her way into the Rendilli facility where she was pleased to be greeted by familiar smells and sounds - those of oil, of burning metal, of fresh paint and of heavy machinery that belong to a starfighter garage. Availing herself of a set of overalls and a welding mask as a disguise, Hylo soon discovers that the Rendili Corporation are working on a secret corvette starfighter, the Vanguard, for the Jedi Order and that they have not only produced a prototype but that it is about to undergo flight tests. Surreptitiously making her way to the prototype's testing platform, she boards the Vanguard. Hylo's attempts to steal the corvette are disturbed by the sound of approaching footsteps. Locating a hiding place in the cockpit, Hylo watches in awe as a Jedi seats himself in the pilot's seat and begins the pre-flight checks. Stealing herself out of her hiding place and using the welding mask as an improvised weapon, she is able to knock the Jedi pilot unconscious. As she drags the body out of the spacecraft, Hylo hears through the comm system that the Vanguard has been granted take-off clearance, she quickly jumps into the pilot's seat and blasts off for the skies.
As the Vanguard approaches Nar Shadaa, Hylo considers her very limited her options: she could try to explain to Barrga what had happened, but her chances of being believed were slim to nil - she couldn't imagine what Barrga would do to her for the loss of the cargo and two of his henchmen. She also contemplates that no-one knows she's alive - Barrga would soon learn of the betrayal by the Rendili Corporation and the destruction of the Crimson Fleece and assume that all three had been killed - but no-one knows she wasn't on the Fleece and no-one knows it was she who stole the Vanguard: she's got a new starship and a chance at a new life. When she spies a silvery comet passing through Nar Shadaa's orbit, she takes it as a sign of good omens and about turns the Vanguard and heads for new adventure.


Chronology:
This story occurs approximately 3,664 years before the Battle of Yavin.

Related Stories (in chronological order):
  • Smuggler's Vanguard


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