The Planets Bend Between Us

Chapter 8

A full minute after the footsteps above their heads had completely receded, Bela cautiously popped open the lid of the compartment she and Sam were sandwiched into. She waited another few seconds, peering between the crack of the lid and the floor of her ship. Bela fully slid the panel out of the way and slipped up out of the compartment.
“I always knew these would come in handy for more than just hiding goods,” she quipped and extended a hand to help Sam climb out. “Although I can’t say I much minded being pressed into a tight dark space with you, Sam.”

She winked and he fought the warm flush that crept across his features.

Ree and Bobby extricated themselves from the second compartment a couple of feet away.

“Now what?” Bobby dusted off his hands.
“Don’t look at me,” said Bela, crossing her arms. “I got us this far. Your turn.”
Sam bit his lip and scrunched his brow. “I think I have an idea.”

Bobby was not a fan of Sam’s plan. While he agreed he had no better course of action in mind himself, he felt Sam’s idea was too risky. Bela scoffed at the older man and reminded them that waiting around inside the ship was even worse than Sam’s idea. Any minute now, the Imperials would send a scanning crew aboard.
“They’re not stupid,” she told him. “They know it’s a smuggling ship. A little captain’s log message isn’t going to stop them from scanning the ship just to make sure we’re well and truly gone.”
Bobby didn’t have a counterpoint to offer, so he took the blaster from Sam’s hand and hid in the alcove by the Impala’s entrance as the younger man had instructed.

The pair of men in the anticipated scanning crew were blindsided. The moment they were out of the sight line of the guards outside, the scanning men were knocked unconscious, bound, gagged, and stashed in the common area of the ship. Sam casually called down the ramp, asking for some help unloading the scanning equipment. As expected, a trooper came hurrying up the ramp. They dispatched him next, and while Bela stripped him of his armor, Sam and Bobby lured two more troopers into the ship.
The armor was ill-fitting on them all: Sam was too tall, Bobby too round, and Bela too slim. But it would do, so long as they acted like they belonged. They weren’t planning to stick around for too long anyways.
The only problem was Ree. She was far too tall and skinny to fit into any set of trooper armor and too green to move about the station unnoticed. Sam reluctantly suggested that Ree stay behind to keep watch over the ship and the unconscious Imperials. This earned him freezing glares from Ree and Bela both; the former of which snapped and clacked at him fiercely.

“I’m not going without my partner,” Bela said icily.
“Then either you stay with her or you come up with a way to get her out of here inconspicuously,” Bobby grumbled.

Once again, it was Sam who came up with a workable solution. He pulled a set of binders from the belt of his armor and offered them to Bela with a shrug.

“The prisoner schtick?” Bela raised her eyes at him. “That’s actually not bad.”

“No need to sound so surprised,” Sam retorted. “I did come up with the disguise idea too, remember.”

“You’re right, darling, you’re positively on fire,” she teased.
Ree was much less impressed with the prisoner idea but she reluctantly agreed to wear the cuffs and play the part.
“It won’t be for long,” Bela promised.

Bobby exited the ship first and sent the other soldiers standing guard in the hanger bay to a different post, supposedly on commands from higher up. They filed out without question since Bobby’s armor denoted he was of a higher rank than they were.
The older man waited and then gave the all clear signal up the Impala’s ramp. Sam, Bela, and Ree hurried out of the Impala and across the bay to the nearest set of doors. They stood back while Bobby accessed the computer terminal nearby for a simple map, and then were on their way to a control hub one floor up that overlooked the hanger bay.
Sam had to concentrate to keep his pace regular as they walked down the brightly lit corridors. Every time they came across an Imperial or another trooper, he was sure they could see right through their act, and at any second alarms would blare announcing intruders.

His every muscle was tense, waiting for discovery, waiting to be caught and trapped. The inside of his armor was soggy with sweat.
“Act natural,” Bobby advised under his breath.
“Right, because it’s natural to be impersonating an Imperial Stormtrooper,” Sam hissed back. “And in armor that is obviously too small!”
He ignored Bela’s chuckle behind him.
They reached the control hub without incident, though Sam still couldn’t relax. The door slid up with a swoosh when they approached it. The man in Imperial garb who’d been about to exit looked surprised, then Bela shot a blaster bolt through his chest. His comrades were on their feet but didn’t have the chance to do anything before Sam and Bobby had dispatched them too.
Bela shut and locked the door behind them while Sam uncuffed Ree. Bobby slid the unmoving bodies of the Imperial men into the server closet to the left of the entrance. Sam yanked off his helmet to get some air on his overheating head.
He tried really hard not to think about what he’d just done – he’d never shot or killed anyone before. Bela meanwhile, looked entirely nonplussed as she shook out her hair.
“That went as well as it could’ve, I think,” she said and took a seat in one of the cushy black control chairs. She gave it an experimental spin before facing the computer screens and controls spread before her. She began typing rapidly.
Sam swallowed and removed his gloves so he could wipe at his forehead. Bobby was suddenly at his side, and Sam couldn’t help thinking his friend looked strange without the baseball cap he was used to seeing him wearing.
“Hey, you doin’ okay, son?” he asked, placing a firm hand on Sam’s shoulder.
Sam nodded. “Yeah, I... I’ll be fine.”
Bobby eyed the younger man like he wasn’t sure he believed him, but he didn’t say anything further on the matter. Instead, he turned to Bela.
“All right, that settles Phase 1. I’m ready for Phase 2.”
“Working on it,” Bela replied without glancing away from the screen in front of her.
“You sure about this?” Sam questioned. The next step to getting off this deadly station had been Sam’s idea, but he was still uneasy about it. Particularly the fact that Bobby insisted on doing this part alone. “I could still go with you.”
“We’ve been over this,” Bobby frowned. “It’ll be easier for one person to do it undetected. Besides, if something happens to me, it’s not a big deal. You can’t be lost – you’re too important.”
“Don’t say that,” Sam snapped. “You’re all the family I have now, Bobby. I can’t lose you too.”
“Yeah, well, right back at you,” the older man grunted, but Sam could tell how much he meant it despite his rough tone.
Bela cleared her throat. “I’ve located the path of least resistance for you, Bobby.” She pointed to the screen, where a path to the tractor beam control hub was highlighted.
He leaned forward, taking several moments to study it and commit it to memory before stepping back. He retrieved his stolen trooper helmet.
“Right, once I shut down the tractor beam and magnetic forcefield, meet me at the ship, and we can get the hell out of here.”
“Good luck, Bobby,” said Sam. “Be careful.”
Bobby nodded at the pair of them and Ree. “You too.” He popped on his helmet, scooped up his gun, and exited the control hub.
Sam locked the door behind him and sat down in the chair beside Bela with a heavy sigh.
“Your plan is a good one, Sam,” she assured him. “And contrary to how he looks, Bobby seems like a smart fellow. He’ll be all right.”
Sam couldn’t help smiling a little. Her attempt at humor didn’t particularly ease the tension knotting up his gut, but he appreciated it nonetheless.
She returned her attention to the computer screens and typed idly. Sam put his feet up on the console. Behind him leaning by the door, Ree exhaled in loud rush. Now they had nothing to do but wait.

Bobby moved deliberately through the halls of the Death Star. His senses were on high alert, and he was anxious, aware that something could go wrong at any moment. But no one gave him a second glance. The corridors closer to the hanger bay were less populated than the rest of the station; activity spiked the closer he got to the station’s core. There were hundreds of workers and soldiers with varying uniforms and he was simply another one among many, which made his job infinitely easier.

He straightened his back and walked like he knew where he was going, all the while silently repeating the directions he’d made himself memorize while staring at the screen Bela had brought up for him – two lefts, one right, straight to the second set of turbolifts, down six floors, straight, right, right, left...

As Bobby fell into step behind a dozen other white armored troops, a man dressed all in black came swooping out of a lift up ahead. Trailing behind him was a group of grey-suited command-level Imperials, but it was the man in black that made Bobby falter and struggle to stay calm.
There was no mistaking those yellow eyes.

Bobby feared the worst – knew it before they saw it. John smashed open the doors to the bedroom. Mary’s body was a tangle on the floor, a massive smoking wound in her chest. A man dressed all in black stood over her lifeless form. He gripped a brilliant red lightsaber and turned to face John, Bobby, and Ellen, a sick grin on his face. “Welcome home, Winchester,” he sneered, yellow eyes glinting...

Bobby took in a shuddering breath. He locked his arms at his sides and fought against his quivering knees. He had to keep his feet marching forward, keep his head from turning. He used all his strength to contain his anger and not blow his cover by shooting down the Sith that had murdered his best friends.
He blinked fiercely inside his helmet and forced himself focus on Sam, on Dean’s message, on how important it was that Sam made it out of this place alive. He wouldn’t be able to do that if Bobby didn’t stick to the plan and take that tractor beam out of commission. And he couldn’t do that if he was busy being arrested or shot for killing that yellow-eyed S.O.B. in the heart of the Imperial’s base of operations.
Bobby sucked in one deep breath after another and compelled his feet onward.

Sam lounged beside Bela, trying not to feel every single second that passed by far too slowly. He watched her flick through the Imperial’s database for anything interesting, coming upon a list of several Detention Blocks and prisoners confined to them. He was about to find something else to occupy his attention when his eyes caught on a familiar name.

“Wait, go back,” Sam sat up straight in his chair.
Bela tapped a few keys to show the information she’d been lazily flipping through.
“See something you like?” she quipped.
Sam leaned close to her screen to double-check he wasn’t just seeing things. “Oh my God,” he whispered.
“What is it?”
He jabbed at the name on the screen: Dean Winchester.
He heard Bela’s breath hitch slightly behind him. Sam could barely believe it. Maybe getting sucked into the Death Star had been a good and fateful event after all.
“That’s him – that’s the guy we’re delivering the message for. He’s here!”
Sam clicked a few keys on the keyboard to bring up the status of the prisoner and his whereabouts. His heart tumbled into his stomach. Beside Dean’s name was the word: TERMINATE. His was one of only two names slated for execution that day.
Bela’s voice was toneless and disinterested when she said, “Wonderful, so he’s here.”
“We have to save him.”
“We absolutely do not,” Bela scoffed.

Sam whirled on her. “Bela, they’re going to execute him.”

“And that is very tragic, but also very much not our problem.”

“Come on, we need him,” Sam wheedled. “He’s a leader for the Rebels – we can’t just leave him here!”
“I don’t care if he’s Chancellor of the whole damn galaxy, I’m not risking my neck to bust him out of an Imperial prison,” said Bela hotly. “I have already gotten far more on this journey than I bargained for with you lads. I want to get out of here and get rid of you before you get me killed or arrested or both.”

“They’re going to kill him!”

“Better him than me, I say.”
“Bela, please,” Sam pleaded. “I can’t go get him by myself.”
“No. Absolutely not. The plan – your plan – was to stay put until the old man disabled the tractor beam. Since that provides the least opportunity for me to be discovered and shot, I’m sticking with it.” She crossed her arms over her chest and turned away from him. The conversation was over as far as she was concerned.
Sam bit his lip. He’d known Bela for a very short time, but it didn't take long to figure out she was generally selfish and put self-preservation as her top priority. She’d made it clear on the trip to Alderaan that she was only doing it for the money.
“I’ll pay you,” Sam blurted. “If you help me get Dean out, and once we escape to a safe location, I’ll get you more money for helping me.”
She tossed her hair, cool and indifferent, avoiding his gaze. He could tell he had her attention.
“How much more?”
Sam thought of the savings he’d stashed away in the bank over the years in the hopes of one day buying his way off Tatooine. It was meager, certainly not enough to tempt Bela. He didn’t want to speak for any money Bobby might have; he’d already sold a large portion of his belongings to pay Bela’s first fee.
“A lot,” said Sam, much more confidently than he deserved to be. He hoped the Rebels would be so grateful to have Dean back they’d be able to pay Bela.
She tossed him a skeptical look. “That’s very specific.”
“I’ll make sure you get rewarded handsomely,” Sam coaxed. “As long as you help me rescue Dean Winchester.”
Bela pursed her lips and twirled the chair she was in. When she came back around, she leaned around Sam to address Ree.
“Well? You’ve been awfully quiet. Care to chime in?”
Ree spread her long webbed fingers. She clicked and squeaked in response, then pointed at Bela, whose cheeks promptly flushed bright pink.
“What?” Sam glanced between them. “What’s she saying?”
Ree snapped and clacked, finishing with a shrug. Bela stared down at her hands briefly before returning her attention to Sam.
“Very well, Sam.” She was back to her usual cocky, blasé attitude as she stood. “Providing I get the sizeable paycheque you’re promising me at the end of all this little adventure, I’m in. So’s Ree.”
Sam was curious about what exactly Ree had said to convince the other woman, but he didn’t want to waste another minute. He grabbed his helmet.
“Then let’s go get him.”

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