With Dean leading, and knowing where the hell they were going, Sam thought it was a lot easier to find their way to the hanger. Dean and Ree jerry-rigged a computer terminal to explode, located in precisely the opposite direction of where they needed to go, creating a solid diversion for the troops pursuing them.
The foursome finally reached an antechamber to the main hanger bay, where the Impala was waiting for them – along with about a dozen Stormtroopers who apparently were staying put despite Dean’s diversion. Sam was glad for a second to catch his breath.
“No way,” Dean growled. “What the damn hell!”
Sam assumed he was referring to the troopers’ presence, until the other man rounded on Bela, his eyes on fire.
“Why is my ship sitting in the hanger bay of the damn Death Star?” he demanded in a barely restrained shout that almost blew their cover.
“Your ship?” said Sam.
“I won it,” Bela replied, tilting her eyebrow up.
“You stole it,” Dean retorted.
“Borrowed,” Bela shrugged and added in a firm tone, “By way of winning it in a bet.”
Dean curled his hands into fists at his sides. “I had a friend taking care of it while I was out on a mission,” he said through clenched teeth. “It was not his to lose in the first place, so it’s sure as hell not yours.”
“Guys…” Sam attempted to interject.
“I won it fair and square,” Bela countered coolly. “You can verify that next time you see your friend, though I’d wager from the way you’re slowly turning purple, he’s not a friend anymore.” She smiled at him and laughed, like this was a game they played all the time.
“I’m going to kill him. I’m going to kill him! And then you!”
“Guys,” Sam tried again, more insistent.
“Give it the hell back,” Dean ordered Bela.
Bela dipped her head down and looked up at Dean suggestively. “Win it back from me, darling.”
“Guys!” Sam snapped.
“Bela, I swear – ” Dean began but was stopped when Ree clapped him roughly on the shoulder, gestured to Sam who rolled his eyes in exasperation and pointed to the hanger bay.
The others turned their attention to where Sam was pointing. The Stormtroopers were filing away, leaving the Impala unprotected.
the...?” said Dean, trying to see where the troopers were going, but
the entrance to the antechamber was surrounded by crates and containers,
blocking much of the hanger from view.
“Don’t question it – now’s our chance!” Bela started forward but a trooper stepped in front to block her path.
The boys had their blasters up instantly, but the trooper put his hands up in a surrender position.
“Whoa, it’s me!” said Bobby from inside the white armor. “Are you idjits gonna stand around here all day? Get to the damn ship!”
Sam and Dean broke into twin smiles of relief before the five of them wasted no more time and made a break for the ship.
Halfway to the Impala,
they saw what had drawn the soldiers’ attention. Across a large, open
lift shaft, the troops were gathered in front of the entrance to another
corridor. Two men were battling with a pair of lightsabers, crackling
with energy as they collided over and over. They were a swirl of black
and red, green and brown, and no one was keeping watch over the enemy
ship any longer.
Sam slowed only briefly to watch the spectacle before hurrying towards the Impala’s unguarded ramp. He glanced back to make sure the others were following, and saw Dean lagging behind and coming to a stop, his eyes fixed on the raging battle across the hangar.
“Cas?” said Dean softly, confused and dismayed.
“You cannot win,” Azazel hissed, slashing at Castiel in a wide arc.
The Jedi deftly avoided the weapon and brought his own lightsaber up to meet it. “You’d be surprised what I can do.”
Azazel twisted left, trying to get under Castiel’s guard, but Cas was ready and parried the blow. He stood his ground, met Azazel strike for strike and could felt the frustration building in his opponent, the desire to kill. Castiel breathed, focused, let the Force guide his movements. He became fire and liquid and moved to the rhythm of the fight.
The Sith’s anger built and his attacks became more desperate. Cas could feel him drawing on the Dark Side as he charged, even stronger and more menacing than before. His yellow eyes flashed.
Cas had only a split second of warning before Azazel swept his right arm out to the side and used the Force to rip a column of pipe from the wall. It barreled towards Cas. The Jedi threw out his own arm to stop the incoming object, and Azazel pressed his advantage in that moment of miniscule distraction. He was blindingly fast as he swung his lightsaber in a ferocious attack. Cas defended himself one-handed as he shoved the pipes away, but he had to stumble backwards a few steps to avoid the Sith’s weapon.
Azazel bared his teeth triumphantly.
A crate came flying at Cas next and he swerved out of the way. He managed to keep his lightsaber up to defend his briefly exposed back. Still, the red weapon sliced too close, cutting a shallow gash across Castiel’s left shoulder. He winced and spun away, using the Force to shove the crate in Azazel’s direction and buy himself a second to breathe.
The Sith dodged the crate as easily as Cas had and launched himself at the Jedi with a fresh wave of relentless strikes.
Cas felt a tremor in the Force that wasn’t coming from Azazel. Sam. Dean.
Azazel and Castiel’s blades crashed together and they held them, each straining to drive the glowing, sizzling blades to their opponent’s throat. The Sith growled and pushed harder, his features purpling with effort. Castiel struggled to hold him; his arms trembled.
Distantly, he sensed that he and Azazel had an audience, and that the time had come.
He hopped back and spun past the Sith and created a few feet of distance. Azazel stumbled slightly at the abrupt loss of resistance and pivoted to face Cas with a furious snarl. Cas chanced a look to his left and spotted Dean’s friends hovering at the entrance to their ship, Dean stood near the open lift shaft, watching the duel.
Azazel glanced to his right and saw the intruders too. His eyes blazed with hate and in that second, Castiel could tell he had a moment of doubt: finish off the Jedi, or rush to kill Dean and fulfill his personal vendetta. Castiel wasn’t going to let him have that choice.
Azazel began to raise his hand, began to take a breath.
Castiel reached deep and far, and before Azazel had blinked, the Jedi threw a wave of the Force at him with colossal strength and extreme speed. Azazel faltered and fumbled to keep balance as he threw his hands up to block the blow.
Cas felt the massive sap of energy flow out of him and prayed he could finish what he started and ensure his friend’s escape. He used the Force to flip the switch on the blast doors dividing him and Azazel from the hangar bay.
The Sith was on his feet, recovered.
Castiel shut his eyes and silently called through the Force to Dean: Run!
Azazel advanced with a bellow of rage and swung his lightsaber.
watched Darth Azazel lurch and then Cas reach out. He saw the blast
doors begin to close, the troopers shuffle unsurely, and the red blade
rise above his friend's head. He inhaled to call out in alarm, and he
heard Cas’s voice echo through his mind: Run!
The blade came down and the doors shut.
“No!” Dean screamed hoarsely. No, not Cas, not like this, not by Azazel, please no –
“Dean!” Bela shouted somewhere behind him, but to his ears she sounded extraordinarily distant and muddled like she was underwater.
At their cries, the group of gathered troopers rounded on them and began firing.
“Dean, we have to go!” Sam hollered, and he was as faraway sounding as Bela.
Dean gripped his gun and fired back on the troopers recklessly, blindly. Some fell, but more were pouring into the hanger bay, drawn by the commotion. His friends were bellowing his name, telling him to run.
“He’s gone!” Bobby yelled in his ear, his trooper helmet gone, suddenly right beside Dean. He seized the younger man's shoulder with a strong hand. “Don’t let it be for nothin’, now come – ”
Bobby tumbled to the ground and Dean reeled backwards.
The older man was face down with a smoking hole at the
base of his back armor. Dean felt like his heart had walloped him in the
throat and then broke into a million little pieces. Not you too!
Sam, Bela, and Ree were there in the next moment. Ree and Bela laid down cover fire while Dean and Sam grasped Bobby under his arms and dragged him towards the Impala’s loading ramp. Blood rolled down the older man’s face in rivulets from where he’d struck his forehead and nose on the floor when he fell. Laser bolts flew in every direction, narrowly missing them.
Dean had lost friends in battle, but if he lost Bobby, it would be his fault for not running when he had the chance. He could barely think, barely focus, as he and Sam pulled the older man into the med bay of the ship.
Bela and Ree tore up the ramp and raced to the cockpit, slapping the control panel to close the ramp as they passed it. Dean was shaking as he helped Sam heave Bobby onto a cot and strap him in.
“I got this,” Sam assured him, and Dean nodded mutely as the ship fired up around them.
He hastened to the cockpit himself. He shoved every thought and emotion down into a dark place deep inside. Now was not the time to feel it; now was the time to get the hell out of here.
Bela expertly maneuvered the Impala out of the Death Star’s docking bay, wincing as the wound on her arm stretched with the motion.
“Let’s hope he disabled that tractor beam, or we are most extremely screwed,” she mumbled.
Ree flipped several switches and then Bela gunned the engine. Dean held on tight and flicked his eyes from the viewscreen to the controls spread before the two women. As the Impala blasted away from the Imperial battle station, alarms sounded.
“And now there’s that,” Bela said grimly. According to the monitor, at least half a dozen TIE fighters had been launched right on their tail. “You remember how to – ”
Dean was already moving. “It’s my ship!” he angrily reminded her. “Of course I do!”
Bela was on her feet behind him. “Just checking. It has been a while, hasn’t it?” she teased.
Dean didn’t respond as he reached the stepladder and pounded up the steps. The smuggler took the ladder down to the secondary guns.
Once seated, Dean donned a headset and readied the guns. The feeling of the familiar chair at his back and controls beneath his fingers went a long way to easing the knot of fear and tension coiled in his gut. He was damn good at this part, if he did say so himself.
“Heads up, darling. Here they come,” Bela reported over the comm.
Dean spotted the fighters and swiveled to meet them. No way in hell was he going to go through all that crap – losing his crew, losing Alderaan, losing Cas right after finding him, possibly losing Bobby as well – only to be blown to pieces on Azazel’s doorstep.
The son of a bitch is probably loving this, Dean thought bitterly. He’s going to love it a lot less when I crap all over his plans. He’s not killing me today.
Dean fired at the TIE fighter in his sights. He loosed a number of laser cannon shots and the Imperial ship attempted to avoid them. Dean’s shot finally connected and the ship exploded in a bright orange and yellow fireball. He smiled with satisfaction and locked eyes on his next target.
For several minutes, Dean was lost in a flurry of laser fire. He pivoted this way and that, aiming and firing, as Ree piloted the Impala out of the Death Star’s range. Bela reported taking out a couple adversaries, but even after they had removed at least half of the fighters from the equation, several more showed up the party.
“Damn it!” Dean fumed. “They keep coming!”
“About what I was saying earlier?” Bela moaned into her headset. “The ‘extremely screwed’ bit?”
Hold on, Ree clicked over the comm, sounding astonished. One of them is... one of them is firing on the others!
“What?!” Dean swiveled his chair and caught sight of the TIE fighter Ree was referring to, and indeed, it seemed to be taking down the other Imperial ships.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Bela murmured in awe. “Either we have a friend out there or someone is very, very drunk.”
“Whoever he is, he is sure confusing the hell out of his buddies,” Dean laughed. The remaining handful of TIE fighters were flying erratically, trying to avoid the blasts coming from the Impala as well as the inexplicable friendly fire from their fellow Imperial ship.
Within a few minutes, only a couple fighters were left, aside from the ‘friendly’ that worked to keep the others engaged. Ree took advantage of their distraction and kicked the Impala into hyperdrive.
Castiel shut his eyes and silently called through the Force to the boy and Dean: Run!
Azazel advanced with a bellow of rage and swung his lightsaber.
Cas pin-wheeled away from the descending blade, but the split second he’d taken to warn his friend and the man who’d set him free cost him. The red beam cut and burned deep into Cas’ already injured shoulder. He cried out and swung his own blade in a blind, defensive arc, but Azazel had already pulled back out of reach.
The Sith tut-tutted and shook his head at the panting, kneeling Jedi. “You’ve overextended yourself, Castiel. And for what? To make sure those traitors escape my clutches?”
Azazel laughed and fixed his atrocious yellow eyes on Cas. “It’ll all be for nothing. My men know their orders. They’ll be in pursuit of that ship the second it leaves the dock. If they haven’t already gunned down its passengers in the bay, of course.”
He curled his lip in a nasty sneer. “Your little stunt accomplished nothing. You’re all dead anyway. Know that as I end you, Castiel.” He swept towards the Jedi, blade humming.
Cas almost smiled. “I’m not done,” he warned. From beneath the folds of his robes, he produced an active proton grenade.
He threw it straight and true at Azazel, who blanched and scrambled backwards, bringing his hands up to use the Force to shield himself. The Jedi used the last of his strength to clamber to his feet and sprint full-tilt down the hall.
The explosion threw Cas off his feet and he smacked down hard on the black floor. Spots sparked in his vision and he struggled to stay vertical and keep running. Behind him, Azazel’s irate and agonized screams echoed off the corridor walls.