Star Wars: Predators
This was supposed to be the happiest day of his life, Lando thought ruefully as he dived behind a table and slammed another power pack into his blaster pistol. Considering the large group of armed beings who had crashed the reception, he supposed things could be worse – they could have attacked after Ilsa’s arrival. That said, maybe it was not such a good idea to get Gand to arrange the seating plan. Or to get Travok to handle the catering for that matter.
“Listen fellas,” he called out, “Was it the band that offended you? Because I don’t have a clue where they came from”. His assailants responded only with more blaster fire that sent lavish dishes splattering across the room. He made a mental note to have a word with Ghost about hiring angry Ugnaught punk rockers.
Maybe Lady Luck had decided to get revenge on him for his flippancy in dismissing his position as Baron Administrator and longing for his old life. Well, he was certainly getting a taste of the good old days. He just wondered who was trying to kill him this time? His first thought was of Han, but he dismissed that immediately – if Han were going to try and kill him he’d fly here and do it himself – and besides, if anything Lando was more likely to kill Han for cheating him out of his ship (ok, technically Lando had been cheating too, and Lando had cut Han out of his share of the ORD Mantell job but still…). The trouble with his position (and part of his dismissal of his position) was that he had no shortage of enemies, it could be someone from the good old days, someone new like Shren, someone with a grudge like Raynor, or even the Empire for all he knew.
Trying not to think of the expense he had gone to to procure the Naboo wine as the bottles shattered around him, he waited for the shooters to get closer. Two of the humans were already in range, he just had to wait on the Aqualish and the one-eyed Gamorean – it was probably the best he could hope for. They edged a little closer, into the middle of the dance floor. It was now or never, Lando winced at the thought this would do to his bank balance.
He pushed himself up off the floor and raised his blaster, firing at the magnetic field generator that held aloft the lighting rig. It only took two shots to cause the tangled array of metal and wires to come crashing down onto the dance floor and atop the four nearest assailants. Not bad for being so out of practice, it had been about two years since he’d had to dodge an assassination attempt or squad of bounty hunters. He was by no means home and dry yet as more armed beings poured into the room near the stage and balcony.
There was only one thing for it, he’d have to make a break for the landing pad. He just hoped they weren’t late and that they’d brought a lot of firepower.
Lando dived across the room, firing to keep his pursuers back as he went. Dropping into a roll, he crawled to the head dining table. Blazing blaster bolts followed him and from the sounds of things the cake may have gone too. Reaching the end of the table, he grabbed his objective – a small serving trolley used by the droid staff. Pushing himself as hard as he could, he dropped onto it, his blaster firing back at his assailants all the way.
He made it to the double doors that led into the main corridor, snapping off a few quick shots at the goons, dropping a Twi’lek, he ducked through the doors. He sprinted flat out towards the eastern platform, his best chance would be to make it to the platform and hope that both he and his luck could hold out until the cavalry arrived. As he hit the main door to the platform, he heard the reception room open behind him. He did not have much time, not even sparing his pursuers a glance he sprinted through the door.
He burst out into the curved veranda that connected to the pad. The skyline was bathed in an ethereal orange glow as the sun rose. For a moment Lando regretted that he could not stop and savour the view, but then he reminded himself – he was lucky enough that he could savour this view every day, he just had to ensure he lived long enough to see it. Despite the stresses of the job, Lando loved the lifestyle afforded him by being Baron Administrator and his city; he had worked a long time to go legit (well, as legit as one such as he could get), and he’d be damned if these Nerf herders were going to take him out before he could savour his retirement, especially before he had the chance to enjoy his wedding day.
Lando turned the corner and saw the landing platform. He grinned, it looked as though Lady Luck had changed her mind and decided to smile on him today. In the centre of the pad was a small shuttle decked out in the decals of the Wing Guard. It was quite long, a slightly squashed cylinder with a bubble cockpit on the front and a large irised hatch on the rear; it’s two antenna arrays swept back from the mid section giving it an insect-like appearance.
Lando sprinted for the hatch and hammered the button. Not waiting for the hatch to fully open, he sprung inside, only to find himself flying back onto the landing pad as a result of a strong kick from the Trandoshan inside. Maybe Lady Luck hadn’t changed her mind after all.
Standing two meters tall, wearing a hideous yellow flight suit and flak vest, Lando regretted that he recognised the Trandoshan; Bossk had already tried to kill him a few times during his career, usually over one bounty or another, but some times because that was simply how Bossk entertained himself. Bossk kept his carbine levelled at Lando, priming the under-barrelled grenade launcher. The Trandoshan’s growl was low and guttural, filled with menace.
“Go on, twitch. See what happens,”
So focused was he on the foreboding carbine being waved in his face and the pain in his chest that it took him several moments to register the figure trailing behind Bossk. As dread swept over him, he knew Lady Luck had not just abandoned him, she was actively trying to torture him.
Ilsa, tall, lithe with long blonde hair and looking ravishing in her flowing fuchsia wedding dress, swept up behind the Trandoshan and came to a stop. He stared at her, but the woman gazing back at him was not the woman that he had fell in love with. Her eyes were cold, her expression one of steely determination and a little anger, she was everything that Ilsa was not. For the first time in his life Lando Calrissian did not know what to say.
“I had often wondered what this moment would be like for you,” she said, it was still Ilsa’s voice but Lando had trouble processing this, “I suppose you’re wondering how, why, when would I have turned on you?”. She ran her hand across his cheek. “But the truth is I was never yours. Everything I have done has been to destroy you. Utterly. Dominic said to ensure I did that before killing you”.
Lando was in a daze, surely he must be dreaming – one too many pre-wedding brandies. The sharp throbbing pain from his ribs remind him that this was not the case. This was real, this was happening, his fiancé was trying to kill him at the behest of Dominic Raynor, his predecessor as Baron Administrator of Cloud City. Lando was silent for a while, gathering his thoughts. He was dully aware of the thugs that accosted him inside were now taking up positions around the perimeter of the landing pad. Ilsa was the perfect woman for him: warm, gentle, a calming influence. Maybe she was too perfect. The old Lando would have seen that she was too perfect. The old Lando would not have been so worn out with running an entire city that to let anyone in was a relief. Then again, people were always trying to kill the old Lando, maybe it wasn’t so different.
He sat up onto his knees and said “I feel like an idiot. I should have seen this coming”
Ilsa leaned in close and whispered in his ear “Don’t feel too bad darling, if it makes you feel any better, you look magnificent”.
Lando grinned, “Oh I know. But not as magnificent as you”.
Ilsa arched her eyebrow, exchanging an amused glance with the Trandoshan, “How very you. I never fell for your charm before, why try now?”
Lando shrugged, “Well I always said I’d flirt with my executioner. I figured I might get lucky and persuade her to botch the job. I’ve got a feeling my luck has to turn around eventually”.
Ilsa could not help herself this time, Lando caught the flicker of a smile across her face, it was almost enough to distract him from the low hum he could hear mixed in with the howling of the wind. “Unfortunately for you, it seems as though your luck has run out”.
Lando no longer had eyes for Ilsa, he was looking past her, into the sun, the elongated silhouette of a YZ-775 rocketing towards them at full speed. He grinned, they took their sweet time getting here. It was followed by the double-podded silhouettes of Cloud Cars.
“I wouldn’t count me out yet,” he said, rising up into a crouch, “you never know when I might pull a made-to-order miracle out of my sleeve”.
The thugs opened fire on the Wing Guard airspeeders, Bossk turned around to look, giving Lando his opening. He lunged for the Trandoshan, knocking the carbine to one side, but Bossk’s meaty claw jammed in the trigger mechanism, sending a grenade skittering to the deck. It exploded, blinding Lando and flinging him into the air. The next thing Lando knew, he felt himself flying through the air and then falling. He kept falling. And falling.
Lando’s vision began to clear and all he could see were clouds. He was beginning to suspect that Lady Luck was just yanking him back and forth like this for her own amusement at this point. Lando was just about to give in to panic, when Lady Luck changed her mind yet again and presented him with a lifeline.
He came down hard in the dented and scratched durasteel plating. He rolled, but the triple engine housing kept him from slipping off. Lando mused that it was actually useful that they flew a large ship with a wide-rear. He may be battered and bruised and his ego may have taken a significant dent but he was alive. The Honey Badger rose towards the platform as he crawled towards the top hatch. From his vantage point he noted that although the Wing Guard were rounding up the thugs, Ilsa’s shuttle was missing and neither she nor Bossk were on the platform. He sighed, maybe Lady Luck wasn’t through with him yet.
He crawled to the hatch and straightened his cape as Oz let him in.
Lando cut him off, “Before you ask, I’ll be fine – I just need a working comlink, a datapad and some brandy stat. It’s time to revaluate this city’s security. I cannot stress the brandy part enough by the way”. He turned to make his way forward to the galley, but a thought occurred to him, he’d better make sure they didn’t get any ideas. He turned back to Oz and said “Oh, and that dent was already there. Just in case you were thinking you might try to bill me or something”.