Nadska knew he was in trouble. He’d had the misfortune to be planet-side when the first of the Star Destroyers emerged from hyperspace above Kashyyyk, now everyone on the jungle world was trapped. The imperials had already jammed global communications and were commencing a well orchestrated assault on the planetary defences. That was all Nadska knew, he honestly didn’t care what the Empire wanted with Kashyyyk. He just needed to get away. Any skilled smuggler could outwit an imperial starship, but evading ground forces was a sight harder.
Every so often he heard remote shots of canon fire, though it was difficult to pinpoint the origin. The acoustics of the forest convoluted his perception of sound.
He stooped into an abandoned yurt just as a handful of interceptors screamed overhead, thunderous explosions shook the ground beneath him. A great splintering of wood, like a toppling tree, followed the bombardment. Nadska tried to banish the image of innocent wookies plummeting to their doom.
Shots from the standard issue E-11 blaster rifles, carried by all ordinary stormtroopers, cut through the din a battle. By the sound of it he didn’t have much time before they reached him.
Nadska drew his modified verpine pistol and held a concussion grenade in the opposite hand, just in case. Through the yurt’s open entrance he saw a group of wookies mercilessly cut down by a portable turret. At least he assumed it was a turret. His visibility farther up the beach was obstructed by the yurts flap, but the rapid-fire incendiary bolts suggested a gun much stronger than a rifle.
Nadska sank into the shadows as a contingent of stormtroopers crossed his field of vision. Their stark white armour gleamed in the sunlight. Following the troopers was an entirely different figure, tall and as black as night, with a billowing cape and –Nadska couldn’t believe his eyes– a lightsabre. He’d only ever heard about the legendary weapons of the force users, never had he actually seen one.
"Vader…” he breathed. This apparition of evil could only be the dark lord himself.
He watched the notorious sith ignite his weapon; a blood-red blade sprang to life to meet the furious charge of two wookies, a black furred male with dappled colouring and a sandy brown female. Both roared furiously at their antagonist and brandished primitive weapons.
A wave of the dark lord’s hand sent the sandy brown female soaring backward. The enormous male barrelled into Vader with the force of a transport shuttle and swung his cudgel. The sith slashed at the weapon with his lightsabre, severing it. The wookie tried to jump back but wasn’t quick enough to escape the murderous red blade.
Nadska waited until Darth Vader and his troopers were out of sight before dashing from his shelter toward the cover of some shoreline debris. His ship, The Silverfish, a customized service shuttle, was sitting on a waterborne landing pad not far from his position. Not a minute went by that Nadska wasn’t cursing his luck for not deciding to have left an hour or two earlier; or not stopping on Kashyyyk at all and heading straight for Dantooine instead. Life as a smuggler was a relatively easy life for those who new the tricks of the trade. The most difficult aspect was being at the right place at the right time, Nadska generally steered clear of imperial occupied regions of space. It was just his luck that he found himself in the middle of a planetary assault.
Several more TIE fighters and a sentinel-class landing craft flew by overhead, the whine of its ion engines blotted out the sounds of distant battle. A squad of jet troopers hopped off the transport as it passed, activating their power-packs in mid flight and shooting off into the woods. The efflux trails left by their jets looked like shimmering blue strands of a web.
Nadska remained concealed until they passed and sprinted across the open expanse of beach toward the docking pier, and his salvation. He might have made it too, if not for the flash-bang grenade that went off beside him.
Then all hell broke loose.