Star Wars: Aberrant Cause

Chapter 6

"You want to fly out of here in that?" Alexis asked in a voice far louder than she should have. It was late at night and both she and Saz were standing in a restricted hangar, staring at a classified fighter that was under strict lockdown ordered by the Emperor himself.

Saz, turned from the Missile Boat, shrugging wildly at her. "Well, yeah! If you're going to steal a ship from the Empire, steal the fastest, nastiest ship you can find. Don't tell me you're not dying to fly this thing," he replied, a big smile on his face.

"You're such a technophile, Saz," she sighed, looking from him to the ship. She was not as excited about it as he was, but flying a ship that very few had before did have a flare of incentive that lessened how impractical it was to her.

"It looks like a shuttle with teeth," she remarked coldly.

"It is a shuttle with teeth. The Empire packed more firepower in this little ship than a frigate. Just imagine the fun we could have in this baby," he continued, running his hand along the bow of the fighter.

Alexis smirked at him. "Always thinking with your hydrospanner," she said.

"Alex, come on! It's got engines that go twice as fast as anything else. There's no way they could catch us and even if they did, it's got missiles. Lots and lots of missiles," he replied, approaching her with persuasive eyes.

She sighed at him and looked up once more, trying to find the same level of excitement about the idea as he had. The finer points of his escape plan were enough to convince her of its success, but it was his pick of an escape vessel that was making her hesitate. She had tried to point him towards a true shuttle, a freighter and even a small corvette. He would not even turn his head. "It only has one seat, Saz! You would have to ride in my lap everywhere we went," she griped, though his wicked smile and the way he put his arms around her made her laugh in spite of herself. "Oh, wonderful. I can see that aspect is actually part of your master plan," she laughed.

"Alex," he said sweetly, flaring pouty lips at her.

"Oh, don't give me the look. You know I can't say no to the look," she whined, playfully struggling in his arms.

"I'll name her after you. She can be our baby," he cooed.

Alexis groaned, looking from him to the ship and back again. A ludicrous idea piled on top of a ludicrous idea somehow made it seem more plausible and she sighed weakly, finding his banter too charming to deny. "I want you come up with a good name for her. And after we get out of here, you need to fit two seats in that cockpit or you'll be riding in the storage compartment," she said, relenting to his coercion. Saz cheered, jumping back from her to start figuring out how to get the ship out of the garage.

Alexis sighed with a smile. "I know I'm going to regret this," she said.

After watching Saz fawn over the ship and dismissing silly feelings of jealously, Alexis left him in the hangar, determined to get a few hours of sleep before her next shift. His plan to escape was a week away, so they had to continue their daily lives and not draw attention to themselves. It was enough to know he was happy and that, despite the fact he was choosing the ship to satisfy his own love of technology, she knew it would be their best chance at escaping. She also did not mind the thought of being cozy with him in the cockpit of the fighter as they sailed through hyperspace together.

"Late night, Lieutenant?" said a voice as she rounded a corner, freezing her blood and making her nearly shriek in surprise. A uniformed officer was standing strictly in the next passageway, looking at her with devious eyes and his hands clasped firmly behind his back. Her shock diminished after a moment and she glared at him, not at all hiding the disgust she felt with his very presence.

His name was Lieutenant Salazar Bimms, an operations officer who often commanded the flight deck when she was out on flights. He was a capable officer, popular with the command staff for his ability to perform flawless operations and for his spotless record. Alexis knew him for his ability to hide mistakes and blame subordinates when anything happened that might make him look bad in his efforts to move up the chain of command. She was also reviled by his blatant interest in her and the way he seemed desperate to do anything to have her. As he was poised to be promoted very soon, which would make him a superior officer, she found Saz's idea of leaving all the more attractive.

"Can I help you, Lieutenant?" she asked with little regard to his rank.

Lieutenant Bimms scowled at her tone, but did not lose his obvious interest in her. "Just curious as to why you're all the way in Module A this late at night when your last shift ended eight hours ago and your next doesn't begin for another five," he remarked, then looked about the passageways, as if to look for someone else who might be with her.

Alexis could feel the blood burning in her ears. This man was the last person she wanted to find out about Saz's plan or their relationship, as he would undoubtedly use it to get what he wanted from her. She could not even imagine what he would do if discovered either, but her fears were slowly becoming reality in the malice in his eyes.

"What I do in my spare time is none of your…" she began, but was interrupted by his candid voice.

"Do you think you hide it well, Lieutenant? Do you think it's a secret?" he said, looking back to her. To this, she had no answer, but rather tried to hide the blood boiling her cheeks and the breath caught in her throat. She did not know which of her secrets he was referring to, which made her feel even more panicked by his tone. It choked up her usual poisonous response. He seemed amused by that reaction. "Your little romp with the enlisted technician is unbecoming of you, Alexis. You could do so much better," he said, stepping closer to her and reaching out, taking a bit of her hair between his gloved fingers and examining it as one would fine linen.

Tall and proud, Bimms would have made some woman a handsome husband, but to Alexis he was a snake, always slithering through the grass and waiting for the next meal to present itself. He could not even approach her without looking down on someone, in this case her beloved Saz. It made her blood boil even more.

She batted his hand away and stared up at him, unrelenting against his commanding presence. "What I do in my spare time is none of your concern," she repeated, this time in a firm, powerful voice.

It was a part of her that he found intoxicating; the unwillingness to be intimidated. It made him want her even more. "Perhaps, but you know it's against the rules to fraternize with enlisted personnel. I would hate to see such a promising career come to an end when it could be…easily avoided," he said, smiling viciously as he looked her in the eyes.

"Spare me your threats and intimidations, Lieutenant. I know just how well you get around this station and who's coattails you keep between your fingers," she sneering back, stepping so close to him that her toes pressed against his, "If you feel so inclined to try it, perhaps I'll have a word with Admiral Daala about the little network of bugs you've collected around the station and how you use these little bugs to hide all of the little mistakes you make as you go about your little day. In case you have forgotten, the Admiral has a bit of a soft spot for us female officers and tends to listen well to what we have to say."

Bimms scowled. While he had the high ground with her disregard for regulations, he could not risk having such a high-ranking officer as Admiral Daala formulate a negative opinion of him. It was even more unsettling that the object of his affections somehow knew about his network of underlings coerced into doing his bidding, as he put considerable effort into keeping it all a secret.

Knowing that she knew changed how he looked at her.

He saw her as an enemy.

"Well then, I suppose it's mutually beneficial for both of us to keep secrets, wouldn't you agree?" he suggested without hiding the scorn he felt for her.

Alexis smirked at him, leaning back to give herself some distance. "That's the most sensible thing I've heard you say. I trust we have nothing further to discuss," she said, the stepped around him to hurry back to her quarters. Inwardly, she was shivering at coming so close to getting caught and her knees felt as though they would collapse underneath her.

More than ever, she wanted to leave the Maw with Saz and never look back. It became the one thing she looked forward to as time grew short. Never discussing it with Saz, she let the encounter with Bimms slip to the back of her mind as she dreamed more and more of the day that they would squeeze into the ship and start their life somewhere new.

Unbeknownst to her or Saz, she would never live long enough to see that dream realized.

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