Dean wrenched on the controls of the Impala, swerving the ship to the right. Flak exploded outside the viewscreen. They were taking heavy fire and the deflector shield was starting to fail.
“Did the transports make it through this shit-show?”
I can’t raise them, said Ree. Our comm systems are damaged.
“Damn it! ” Dean heaved the ship sharply left. He knew whoever made it out would head for the rendezvous point. With this many Imperials dotting the sky however, he worried that the number of survivors would be horribly small.
He expertly swung the ship in steep climb then veered back to the right. Two massive Star Destroyers were bearing down on them. A blast from one of their lasercannons cracked against the Impala’s shield.
“Would you like me give it a try?” Bela said sharply from the navigation seat behind him.
“I can out fly these bastards!” Dean shot back.
He pulled the Impala around in a hard arc towards the Destroyers. Bela started sputtering in protest and he barked at her to shut up as he gunned the engine, praying his Baby held together as long as he needed her to. The ship bucked under another hit from the TIE fighters on their tail and Ree worriedly reported the status of the shield.
Dean barely heard her. He flew directly at the Destroyers and then shoved the Impala into a sharp nosedive. The view changed from Destroyers to stars as they plunged. Bela gasped. She’d done her fair share of fancy flying, he had no doubt – had seen her in action, and he had to admit she had guts – but she didn’t fly like him. Nobody did.
Dean brought the Impala screaming upwards a moment later, spinning sideways and around in a tight loop. He laughed when they leveled out and the Destroyers were in their view again. They were nearly ramming into each other in their haste to corner Dean, not expecting him to slip between them at such a high speed. The five trailing TIE fighters squeaked around the ships and tore after Dean, firing en masse and peppering the blackness of space with bolts of green and red.
“Lightspeed,” Dean ordered as he coaxed the Impala into some evasive maneuvers. He relied on his experience and pure gut instinct, guiding the ship this way and that. “Now!”
Ree reached up to flick switches above their heads. Her hands darted across the controls and Dean sucked in his breath when she pulled down the handle that would spur the ship to lightspeed. Baby revved and rumbled… then sputtered like a dying tauntaun.
“Son of bitch!” He wanted to slam his fist onto the console or ream Bela out for screwing up his ship, but he had time for neither. The Destroyers were untangling and heading their way again.
“Take over!” he barked and hopped out of his seat.
Bela unbuckled and, for once, did as she was told.
In the engine room, Dean snatched up the toolbox and levered open a maintenance hatch. Jamming a wrench between his teeth and a hydrospanner into his belt, he slipped in between the bars and cables, cursing Bela all the while. Never mind that she’d gotten him off the Death Star, she’d torn up Baby in the process and then didn’t fix her right. This was seriously the last straw in a long line of last straws.
He was definitely going to kill her. If the Imperials didn’t first.
The ship shook under a volley of hits from the fighters outside and Dean growled as he made some quick tweaks with the wrench. He switched to the hydrospanner, then fished in his pocket for his comm.
“Try it now,” he called.
The ship hummed around him as Ree obliged on her end, but then the hyperdrive moaned and petered out again. Before Dean had the chance to make another adjustment to the mass of panels and engine inner-workings before him, the ship lurched so hard that Dean smashed his head on the side of the maintenance crawlspace, hard enough to make his vision flash white.
That wasn’t blasterfire, he thought with a flutter of panic, blinking and clutching his head. “What the hell!”
“Dean, get up here!” Bela hollered over the ship-wide intercom.
Dean was on his feet and pounding back to the cockpit.
“We seem to have stumbled across an asteroid field,” she informed him when he came panting in.
She gestured one-handed to the viewscreen and gave the controls a wrench to avoid getting hit by a small red asteroid. She didn’t quite succeed, however, and an incredible boom quaked the ship as the rock impacted the hull.
“Where are they?” asked Dean, reaching over Bela’s shoulder to jab at some buttons. He fiercely ignored his throbbing head.
“Right behind us,” she reported. “We’re dead in the water without the hyperdrive.”
“Not necessarily,” said Dean and gestured for Bela to switch places with him.
She shot him an incredulous look but complied, so stunned by what she guessed he was planning that she refrained from the usual arguing.
“You’re not thinking of flying into this.” It was half fearful question and half flat statement.
“Buckle up,” was Dean’s only reply.
Bela took her seat behind Dean in the navigation chair. “I assume you have some entirely clever plan up your sleeve that I haven’t considered yet, and there is absolutely a good reason for risking our necks in a bloody asteroid field.”
Dean smirked. “Something like that.” He gunned the engine, steering the Impala towards the sea of shifting, uneven rocks floating in every direction.
Bela yelped and Ree squeaked, but Dean pressed on, even as they both laid into him with a variety of warnings and protests.
“Darling, you cannot be serious!”
You can’t just fly us into an asteroid field! Never mind the Imperials, you’re going to get us killed!
“Hey, they’d be crazy to follow us, right?” Dean quipped.
He ignored Bela’s continued freak-out and focused on the Impala, on his hands tight on the controls. Adrenaline coursed through him, his every sense tingled. He hadn’t felt this alive in eons. He was liquid, he was fire, and he could do this. Nobody flies like me and Baby.
He eased left then pushed the ship right, tumbled down so close to one big asteroid that there must’ve been only a hair of space between it and the ship’s hull.
Bela went quiet, either too scared or too stunned to continue complaining. Ree watched the viewscreen with sharp, focused eyes, making adjustments as they went. A sheen of nervous blue-tinged sweat broke out on her face, but she too fell silent to allow Dean to concentrate.
A set of pin-wheeling asteroids collided in front of the ship and Dean guided the Impala through the debris-strewn aftermath. Their shields were nearly shot to hell, but they could still take small flak. They were jostled by chunks of asteroid, but they avoided a far larger one in the process. It was big enough to flatten them and Bela cried out, clapping her hands over her mouth when it shifted close. Dean expertly steered them below the massive rock.
Dean allowed himself a little smile: the farther he pushed the Impala into the asteroid field, the less blasterfire resounded behind them.
“You know, if you’re doing this to impress me,” said Bela shakily. “Or if this is some sort of misguided attempt to get me killed, might I remind you that you are aboard this ship, as well as Ree, who really is quite lovely…”
“Can it, Bela,” Dean retorted without heat.
He banked the ship hard to the right, then turned her fully on her side to skirt around another giant asteroid. An explosion jerked them from behind and a quick glance at the readouts showed several of their pursuers had just become space dust.
“Hah!” he laughed with a triumphant grin.
Ree squeaked and Dean paid for his split second lapse in concentration as a small asteroid clipped the Impala, jolting it sharply.
“Whoops.” Dean wrestled the controls and narrowly missed taking them into the face of a rock twice their size that rolled into view.
“I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about your piloting,” Bela said in a rush, fear bleeding into every word. “Just, for the love of God, get us out of here alive, now.”
The longer we stay out here, the higher our chances of getting smooshed, Ree agreed. Your excellent skills or not, there’s been too many close calls.
Dean frowned. “You’re probably right,” he admitted. “That’s why I’m taking us to that big one.”
“You’re what?” Bela sputtered.
“Hey, I actually have a plan now, so,” Dean shrugged. “Be happy.”
“You didn’t before?”
Dean refrained from answering and instead made a loud shushing noise in Bela’s direction.
The viewscreen soon depicted a massive asteroid, the size of a small moon, rolling slow and steady amongst the expansive field. Dean pushed his ship in close, skimming across the rocky surface. There were huge craters, tall ridges, and wide valleys criss-crossing the asteroid’s surface. His attention caught on one crater in particular.
“Here we are,” he mumbled. “That looks all right.” His eyes darted to the readouts and he made for the crater and tunnel below, sending the Impala diving into the black abyss.
He could feel Bela opening her mouth to make a hundred and one comments, and he held up a finger without looking at her.
“Don’t,” he warned. “Just wait.”
Ree flipped on the ship’s guiding lights as Dean gently flew the ship farther into the asteroid, deeper and deeper until the readouts showed the cave’s entrance was nothing more than a pinprick of light far behind them.
As he got ready to land the Impala, he allowed himself a satisfied smirk. He’d not only outrun the Imperials, in a damn asteroid field no less, he knew they’d destroyed most if not all of the TIE fighters pursuing them in the process. No doubt the Destroyers had taken some solid damage too, which was a nice thought. And now he was parking beneath a few hundred layers of rock, which made the Impala effectively invisible to any kind of scan the Imperials might try. It bought them some time and some modicum of temporary safety.
He powered Baby down, smile still tugging on his lips, then swiveled to face Bela. She was scowling at him.
“Well?” he prompted. When she didn’t immediately reply, Dean said, “Told you I’d out fly ‘em. What was that about my piloting skills?”
“That was needlessly reckless,” she sniped.
“Oh come on, you would’ve done the same.”
Bela shook her head and stood. “No darling, I’m risky, not suicidal. There’s a difference.”
Dean rolled his eyes. “I didn’t hear you coming up with a better plan.”
“Almost anything is better than flying into an asteroid field!” said Bela. “Have you considered how we’re going to get out of said field?”
“The same way we flew in!” Dean shot back hotly. “The same way I flew in. I’m buying us a bunch of time here to settle in and fix the ship.” He turned his back on her, shaking his head. “Some gratitude would be nice.”
“I’m – ?” Dean spluttered, but stopped himself from rising to her bait.
He heard her footsteps exit the cockpit a second later, and he spun around to call after her, “You’re welcome for the rescue by the way!” Dean faced the viewscreen again, grumbling under his breath. “Thanks for the back-up,” he growled at Ree.
Hey, while I am thankful I am not a smear on a rock, she clicked in reply. I kind of have to agree with her on this one – you don’t fly into an asteroid field. You just don’t – it’s far too dangerous.
Dean sighed. Maybe they had a point, but– “We were out of options.”
I know. Ree nodded. Outta the frying pan…
Dean exhaled loudly again and carded his fingers through his hair. “Well, let’s get Baby properly fixed so we don’t have to do this again. The sooner we can get back out there, the sooner we can catch up with the rest of the Alliance and you two can be on your way.”
Ree’s expression turned apologetic at the sudden bitterness in Dean’s voice, but he waved his hand at her.
“Don’t,” he warned. “Just…”
He didn’t need to have the usual ‘oh but she really does care for you deep down’ conversation with Ree. He’d had it too many times over the years and was tired of trying to believe it.
Ree thankfully obliged, staying quiet for a minute, before tactfully changing the subject. She and Dean swiftly got to work figuring out what needed to be repaired on the damaged Impala.
Despite Sam’s best efforts, his arrival on Dagobah was not smooth.
As soon as he hit atmo, he was blinded by thick fog in every direction. His dashboard lit up with conflicting alarms and his scopes went dead. Branches and vines seemed to appear out of thin air and slap at his ship as he descended roughly through the opaque gray fog.
Sam worked to keep his ship more or less steady as he started the landing cycle. “Crap, crap, crap!”
His ship lurched and crunched as it slammed into land, sliding forward on the wet mossy ground and bouncing over rocks. Sam wrestled the controls until the ship came to a shuddering halt in a sizable swamp.
That was graceful. He shook his head and frowned. Getting the ship back out was going to be interesting. Sam unbuckled and popped open the X-Wing’s cockpit hatch.
A wave of warm, thick air poured in and the wet smell hit him like he’d walked into a wall. It was so humid Sam felt like he couldn’t breathe and he coughed a few times to clear the sensation. He stood up and climbed out of the X-Wing, grimly realizing he’d have to swim to shore.
He absolutely hated the idea of leaping into the dark green and brown water on this alien planet, but there was no other way he could get to land. He took a deep breath, steeled himself, and jumped into the water.
The swamp was warm, which he appreciated, but Sam wasted no time and swam as fast he could to the shoreline. The water was murky, slimy, and smelly. He had visions of something horrible grabbing his ankle and pulling him under. He scrambled up the mossy bank, grabbing at slippery tree roots to haul himself out of the water all the faster.
The fog wasn’t quite so heavy this close to the ground, though it was still thick enough above him to make it feel like it was nearly dusk. Mist swirled over the water where his X-Wing was smoking. As Sam settled down on a boulder, he watched biazrre winged creatures flying lazily overhead between the massive trees. They squawked loudly, joining the murmur of creature noises echoing through the mist. Everything felt alive and completely eerie; Sam felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle.
Sitting and observing the strange world around him, Sam realized his stupidity. Now that he was here, how was he actually supposed to find Castiel? The guy hadn’t exactly left a map or a set of coordinates, and Sam wasn’t keen on the idea of tromping around the whole weird planet looking for him.
He pressed his hand over his eyes. Idiot. Why hadn’t he thought of this sooner?
Rather at a loss and hoping Cas would find him, Sam decided the best thing he could do was stay put. With any luck, Castiel had somehow detected Sam’s arrival and was on his way.
In the meantime, Sam decided to get the survival supplies from the X-Wing and make himself a little camp-site. He bit his lip and took another look at his surroundings. Perhaps it was irrational, but he felt safer in sight of his X-Wing even if it wasn’t exactly flyable in its current condition. He opted to set himself up in view of it and got to work gathering logs and vines to bind together to build the short bridge needed to access the ship. He sure as hell wasn’t going swimming in the murky water again.
He grabbed trunks and crates with spare clothes and rations first, followed by a couple of plasma lanterns for light and a fusion furnace for warmth in case it got chilly. He arranged the crates in a semi-circle beneath a canopy of twining branches from a pair of huge trees. Sam stripped out of his sticky, soggy flight suit and changed into the gray spare clothes he found folded neatly in one of the trunks. Even in the fresh set of dry clothes it didn’t take long for Sam’s collar to feel damp. He almost smiled at the thought that in less than a week he’d managed to visit two planets that were the absolute opposite of Tatooine.
Once his small makeshift campsite was set up, Sam started to feel restless and useless. Maybe he should be trying to find Castiel after all – but where was he supposed to look, and how? He tried checking for other lifeforms with the scanner from the toolbox and the thing overloaded. It was an old model, so it had no way to narrow down the life signals to human only (and that was assuming Cas even was human – Sam had seen his fair share of aliens in Mos Eisely who looked basic-human and were distinctly not).
He abandoned the scanner and attempted to make a meal out of one of the ration packs. The first protein bar was sandy and tasteless, and the second was gummy and pasty. He washed them down with some filtered, bagged water and didn’t bother to try for thirds. He shuddered, trying not to gag on the dusty aftertaste. He didn’t know how pilots could eat those things.
Sam stood up to explore a little bit, though he didn’t go far, lest he get himself lost in the mist. He found more dense foliage wrapped in moss, and more swamps and boggy areas. He picked his way carefully over slippery rocks and ducked around hanging vines and found some areas that were simple clearings of mud and rocks. Though he continued to hear animal life all around him, he didn’t see anything more than a few lizard-like things and the occasional winged creature gliding by. Both species were entirely uninterested him and that helped put him at ease.
Night was falling, making the already dark jungle even darker, so Sam returned to his campsite. The temperature was dropping too, which made him feel less clammy and damp (which he appreciated), though it wasn’t long before he was huddling close to his fusion furnace to warm his chilled hands. He retrieved a datapad to do some reading as a way to pass the time, which was all well and good until it started raining.
The rain came down fast and hard. The natural canopy above him didn’t keep much of the rain out, and Sam couldn’t find a tarp or anything to aid the branches in shielding him. He scrambled to get anything that might be damaged by the rain into the safety of his waterproof crates. Soon he was soaking wet and shivering. It was far colder than when he’d arrived on Dagobah and the rain was only making it worse.
His snuggled up tight to the biggest tree in his campsite and got as close as he could to his furnace without hugging it and burning himself. Even so, his teeth were still chattering as the minutes (hours? It really felt like hours) crawled by.
Hypothermia twice in two days, Sam thought wryly, shutting his eyes against the water sliding down his face. Jo’s going to be pissed.
He wondered if he should be taking shelter in the X-Wing, but it hadn’t felt very stable when he’d gone for the last couple crates. It’d wobbled and creaked, sliding sideways several inches and dipping lower in the swamp water. Sam decided shivering under a tree was preferable to being trapped in a sinking ship.
Sam suddenly realized that rain had stopped trickling over his eyelids. He could still hear the rain pouring just as heavily all around him. He opened his eyes and cried out in surprise – Castiel was standing before him, holding a sort of homemade wood and cloth umbrella over Sam’s head.
“You came,” Castiel said by way of greeting, a soft smile lighting up his worn features.
“I d-didn’t hear you over the rain – you g-gave me a heart attack!” Sam’s jaw was trembling from the cold, making his teeth clatter.
Cas dipped his head slightly. “My apologies. I’ve been looking for you since I detected your ship entering Dagobah’s orbit, but I lost track of it when it entered the atmosphere.”
“Yeah, m-my scopes b-blacked out,” Sam pushed his wet hair off his forehead and fought off another wave of shivers. “I d-don’t suppose you live c-close?”
Cas smiled. “This way, Sam Harvelle.” He gestured for Sam to follow and took off through the jungle.
Sam cast a worried glance at his things. He’d put everything away earlier, and it wasn’t like anyone was likely to steal them. Cas paused, realizing Sam wasn’t right behind him, and waved his hand.
“Sam, you are frozen and soaked,” he called back. “And probably hungry. Those ships only have terrible protein ration packs, I know from experience. I promise I’ve got better food, dry clothes, and a roaring fire.” He offered Sam a warm smile and gestured again for him to follow.
“Th-th-at sounds k-kind of like heav-ven right about n-now,” Sam admitted, rubbing at his wet arms with numbs hands. He picked his away over the sprawling tree roots and hurried through the rain after Cas’ retreating figure.