It's 3,653 years before the Battle of Yavin. The Empire is closing in on the Republic, crime rate is rising, and in the midst of this the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate is at a time of great success. The Red Dragons are a group notorious for piracy, smuggling, and spice trade. Their leader is a young woman known only as the Red Queen; a nickname taken after the passing of the previous leader, Vash Kantarus. With spice in high-demand, new recruits are brought to the Red Dragons' space station on the border of Hutt controlled space to learn the ways of being a space pirate.
Chapter 1 | The New Girl
Red Queen impatiently tapped her foot in the hangar waiting for Andarta to return with the three latest recruits. She had picked up word that a shipment of spice was being moved not far from Hutta and decided the newbies' first test would be to steal it. The mission was taking longer than expected, however.. Could something have gone wrong? Red knew Andarta could handle herself but wasn't sure about the others. The hangars energy door flickered and a ship pulled in. Andarta exited the ship with a look of concern on her face.
"You're late," Red bluntly stated.
"Sorry about that, Red. The mission was a success but we had a.. ah ... had an incident," Andarta replied as she glanced back at the ship. A young rodian walked out of the ship, followed by a twi'lek then a zabrak. Each barely into their twenties.
Red examined them. "What do you mean, 'incident'? Did one of them get hurt?"
"The rodian, that's Doress, and Zenu'sin are fine. The problem was with that little red brat, that there zabrak, said her name is Idunnr. She went and beat a helpless pilot damn near to death during the raid. It took a lot to get her off him, I swear she's on something. A person doesn't simply become that strong. The incident caused the entire ride back to feel strange and cold" Andarta explained.
Red thought for a moment, "Was it provoked?" The Red Dragons needed as many people as possible to maximize their trade but they couldn't risk having a loose cannon around.
Andarta shrugged. "No idea, I was in the cargo area when the s**t hit the fan"
"She still has another chance, then. I've already got a buyer set up for tomorrow. We'll find out how well they handle a deal. And I'll oversee it personally."
The next day, Red Queen and the three recruits boarded the Red Dragons shuttle and departed for Nar Shaddaa. Doress and Zenu'sin chatted with excitement while Idunnr sat silent and alone. When Red looked over at her, she could almost feel the cold feeling as Andarta had mentioned. She shook it off and returned focus on the mission. Once on the ground, she led the recruits to the Bantha's Hide Cantina to find the buyers. It may have looked like a usual cantina but this place had earned a reputation for shady agendas. Even though the place was rather full, Red caught the attention of a pair of sullustans as soon as she entered. They subtly signaled to follow them and went into a back room. Red caught on to this but the newbies had not. She put a hand on Idunnr's back and nudged her toward the doorway. Entering the room, the other two recruits started showing signs of nervousness. Their excitement turned to fear as their heads came back down to reality. These men could be armed and dangerous. This could even be a set up. Idunnr, however, remained perfectly calm.
Red got right to business. "Let's not waste time with chit-chat, I want to see credits."
One of the sullustans revealed a metal case and the other demanded, "Show us the spice!"
Tasked with carrying it, Doress took it out of her pack and held it out for them to see.
"Take it to them. Zenu, you get the credits," Red instructed.
Doress hesitated for a moment then carefully approached them. The strangers let out a short laugh in excitement as they receieved the spice. Zenu quickly took the case and brought it back to Red Queen. She opened it and quickly counted their payment. Everybody jumped when she slammed the case shut and threw it on the ground. "Is this a joke? This is barely half of what that's worth!"
The sullustans gave each other a scared look then one of them exclaimed "That's all we've got! We can't afford any more than that!"
"Then we don't have a deal!" Red told them, "Hand that spice over. Now!"
"Can't you make us this deal? Just this once? We've been out all week!" the other one said.
"I told you..if you don't have the credits, then--" Red started to say but was interrupted.
"Filthy Pigs, DIE!" Idunnr shouted while drawing a blaster. Before anybody could move, she gunned both sullustans down. "There, I've taken care of this mess."
Red angrily shouted back, "What the hell did you do that for!"
"These lowlife morons had to die! What are we running here, a charity service? They didn't have the credits so they paid the price. Hell, it's even better now, we get both the credits and the spice."
"They may have been morons but they were unarmed morons! Sure we may be smugglers and thieves but we are NOT murderers!"
Idunnr gave Red a cold blank stare obviously thinking she didn't do anything wrong.
"There is no way I'd let someone like you join the Red Dragons!" Red Queen stormed out of the cantina. Doress and Zenu not far behind. Idunnr was left on Nar Shaddaa, what happened to her was no longer Red Queens concern.
Chapter 2 | The Empire
Four days had passed since the incident on Nar Shaddaa. RedQueen and Andarta were in the meeting room discussing the next stage of their spice operations when Reds holocommunicator alerted to an incoming call. She activated the device and Zenu appeared before her. He wasn't given time to speak. "This had better be an emergency...newbie, where's your commanding officer?"
He was panicked. "Everything went to hell! They're gone! They took everyone!"
"Slow down, dammit, and start over! What happened?" Red questioned him.
"We showed up to make the deal and the lieutenant told me to watch the door. I tried my best but I couldn't help it. I kinda sorta had to..uh..well, I had to go..pee. So I left--only for a minute--but when I got back the area was swarmed with cops. You've got to come help!"
This wasn't good at all. Red Dragons had been arrested before and successfully rescued in a variety of ways but something didn't seem right, here. How did the Coruscant Defense Force find them? Red Queen looked to Andarta, "What do you think, Dart?"
"That lieutenant is loyal, been with us a while, and we really cant afford losing so many people. We're short handed as it is." she replied.
Red closed her eyes and thought for a moment then turned back to the holo and said, "Listen to me. Stay where you are. Send me your coordinates and we'll come to you." She closed the connection. "Guess you were due for a visit back home, anyway, Dart."
The two boarded their ship and warped to Coruscant. After travel time and docking procedure, nearly two hours had passed. Andarta checked the coordinates; they pointed to a back-alley in an industrial zone. "Why were they all the way over there..," Red muttered. They pressed on and closed in on the coordinates. A lot of the buildings there looked run-down and abandoned. From behind a pile of empty crates came the sound of quiet crying. Andarta pushed aside the crates, revealing a startled twi'lek.
"You actually came! Listen, don't get angry, please? I didn't have a choice. I had to do it or I would end up like the others," his attention turned to a nearby dumpster. Red signaled Dart who nodded then moved to the dumpster and slowly lifted the lid. She peeked inside, sighed, and flipped the lid open. Inside were the remains of the lieutenant and the rodian recruit, Doress. "Start talking..." Red said with a glare in her eyes.
"She set us up. Told me if I didn't call you and make you come to Coruscant then she'd kill me too," he explained, "She kept saying something about the Empire, something about a ... hey... what's that in the sky?"
Andarta and RedQueen shifted their views upward. A faint shape was in the sky, somewhat triangular. Another appeared, and then another. As they grew closer, more and more revealed themselves in the sky. "What the hell are the Imps doing here!?" Andarta exclaimed.
"It can't be.." Red shook her head a bit. "Would they really go so far as to attack the Republic capital world?" She was shocked, she had never seen so many ships descending toward a planet at once. Their weapons systems prepared to fire. The Sacking of Coruscant had begun.
"We have to move!" Andarta shouted.
Red gathered her senses and grabbed the newbie by the arm. They took off sprinting, backtracking their way to the spaceport. The imperial ships maintained altitude and unleashed death from above. Everything shook as the bombs went off. Screams, explosions, and fires erupted everywhere; the world was falling down around them. By the time the three made it to the spaceport, it seemed like a miracle they were still alive. There was no time to lose, they had to get off Coruscant. The structure of the building was partially destroyed but the bay containing their ship remained intact.
"Wait, you two," Andarta barely let out between breaths.
They came to a halt and turned around with a questioning look in their faces.
"I've been thinking. There's no way this hunk of metal is going to be able to get past those d**n Imps. We'll just get shot down, and I'm not a huge fan of rushing off to death."
Zenu'sin showed a look of terror and spoke hysterically, "What are you saying? You mean we're stuck here!?"
"Now calm down!" Red ordered, "I'm sure we'll think of something, there has to be a way.."
Just then an Imperial shuttle quickly landed in the port and started unloading troops. The ground invasion had begun.
An idea sparked in Red Queens head and she grinned.
Dart knew exactly what she was thinking. "Hm, I've never had the chance to steal an Imp shuttle before ... this should be exciting."
They took cover behind a cargo crate and waited for the unsuspecting soldiers to march out of the bay. When the way was clear they made a dash for the shuttle. The engines flared and the ship started preparing to take off. Red jumped into the open shuttle door followed by Zenu then Andarta. The cockpit door was right next to them with a totally unaware pilot inside. Dart stepped in, grabbed the now-shocked pilot, and tossed him off the ship. She sat down in the seat, still warm, and familiarized herself with the controls.
"It's a bit weird compared to other stuff I've flown but I can get us home," she assured the others.
The outside door slowly shut and the ship took off toward the sky. As they approached the Imperial cruisers, a sweat broke out on Red Queens forehead. She wiped it off and sought assurance, "This plan is gonna work..right?"
"It..uh..should work," Andarta replied.
They met altitude with the cruisers. If they get found out too soon, they'd be shot down for sure.
"How much longer until we can warp?" Red asked.
Andarta checked a few readouts and responded, "Fifteen seconds, maybe. We're almost out of here, just a little--"
A voice invaded the cockpit--it had an Imperial accent. "Transport IT-935, why aren't you docking? Return to the ship, at once!"
Dart activated the transceiver and commented, "Hmm yea I just don't feel like it," She gave a little smirk, "Instead, I think I'll go get some Correlian booze," then disabled the communications. She activated the hyperdrive and the ship jumped to lightspeed.
Chapter 3 | Divided We Fall
The Imperial shuttle swiftly landed in the hangar of the Red Dragons space station. An unrecognizable ship rested across the room. Someone had decided to pay them a visit, but who? And where was everybody else? The halls appeared to be empty. As they approached the center of the station, the echo of a microphoned voice could be heard. Following the sound lead them to the auditorium where seemingly the entire syndicate had been gathered. Red felt a spark of rage when she realized who was behind the podium.
"The time has come to seek true power! Too long have you been led by cowards and fools," Idunnr instructed the crowd. They didn't seem sure what to think of what was going on.
Red and Dart pushed through the mass of people up to the stage. "What is this!? I told you I never wanted to see your face here again!" Red shouted at her.
"Oh? You made it out of Coruscant? I'm impressed. I thought my imperial friends would have gotten you for sure."
Andarta burst out, "What!? That b**** set us up!"
"What's your scheme, Idunnr? What are you trying to prove?" Red asked.
Idunnr grinned and explained, "You're weak and a fool. You've been holding these men back. They could become so much more!" She turned back to the crowd. "This 'Red Queen' you have been following is unfit to lead! She does not have the will required to succeed in the coming age. A leader must show no mercy! The Empire will soon control the galaxy and if we are to survive we must swear our loyalty to the Emperor! They have already begun their assault on the Republic capital world. If we do not become their ally, then we will become their enemy!"
The group started to chatter amongst themselves. Idunnr's word had gotten into their heads.
"Don't listen to her!" Red said, taking the crowds attention. "This girl is exactly what we've tried to avoid becoming! She allies herself murderers and betrays everyone around her! I was at Coruscant when the attack began, innocent people were being slaughtered with no remorse! Serving the Empire will only make us as evil as they are!"
A voice came through the crowd, "Yeah, what other choice do we have? I'm not gonna sit here and wait for the Empire to bring us down!"
"We've done just fine this far," Andarta defended, "and we'll continue doing so! To hell with the Empire. They'll see we're not so weak!"
"You don't understand just how vulnerable this place is," Idunnr assured, "I've already supplied the Empire with the coordinates of this station and several attack strategies. You will surrender to the Empire or be destroyed."
The crowd of people erupted in an uproar of arguments between those that supported Idunnr and those than remained loyal to the Red Queen. A bottle came flying past Andarta's head and smashed into a wall behind her. A fist met someones face and fights broke out all over the place. Idunnr let out a slight laugh as she watched the chaos build. It didn't take long to escalate and for blasters to get involved. Red and Andarta looked at each other and could tell what they were thinking. "Time to take this b***h down." Andarta said. Red nodded and they pulled out their blasters.
The two sides traded shots but neither made a hit. They dived for cover behind pillars on either side of the stage. Red managed a glance out toward the crowd. People were fighting and dying everywhere. Some were getting out only to end up in a fight elsewhere on the station. She leaned out of cover to fire a few shots at Idunnr but couldn't hit her position. "We need to flush her out," Andarta insisted.
"Rush her on each side. Fast and low," Red replied.
The two broke from behind the pillars and started sprinting. Idunnr popped out of cover and lined a shot on Andarta. Red quickly pulled the trigger of her blaster and sent a bolt into Idunnr's shoulder, forcing her to safety. The station started to rumble; something was wrong.. An explosion went off near the stage, knocking Red Queen to the ground. Andarta quickly looked to see that she was alright and continued her charge at Idunnr. Coming around the corner, she swung her boot forward and right into Idunnr's gut, who dropped to her knees. Dart put her blaster to Idunnr's head.
"You don't have what it takes.." Idunnr said through gritted teeth.
"Oh, you'll find I'm not quite as forgiving as Red is," Andarta told her.
"Imbecile! You've already taken too long!"
A dark red glow surrounded Idunnr. Her arm snapped toward Darts throat and though it didn't reach, it still choked. Dart didn't know what to think. She reached for her neck to try to discover what was preventing her from breathing. The world started to get blurry and dizziness set in. By this time, Red had recovered and was lining up a shot on Idunnr. This action went unnoticed and Andarta was released from her choke hold. Red's blaster was ripped from her hands and tossed across the room. She pulled out a knife and ran at her enemy screaming. Idunnr, with both arms this time, grasped Red with her power and lifted her off the ground. She struggled but it was no use. Sparks shot out of Idunnr's fingers and led a surge into Red's body. The was almost enough to make her black out.
Another explosion went off somewhere in the station, this one bigger than the last. With so much fighting going on the place wasn't going to hold on for much longer. Idunnr sensed this and decided to flee. She used her power to throw Red through a glass panel, broken shards flying everywhere, then took off into the chaos. Andarta caught her breath and struggled to stand up. Through all the gunfire and yelling, she still heard the painful screams coming from Red. She limped over to her and noticed a lot of blood coming from side of her head. She had hit the glass panel really hard and must have suffered a lot of damage. Red wasn't covering the side of her head though, she had her hands over her face. Dart pried one of her hands away so she could see the damaged and gasped when she saw the large shard of glass lodged into Red's eye socket.
Andarta wasn't sure if she could do much to help but it was certain they had to get off the station as soon as possible or it wouldn't matter anyway. She helped Red up to her feet and they slowly made their way back to the hangar. Many fights were still going on along the path but those still loyal came to the aid of the Red Queen. As they loaded up on the stolen Imperial shuttle, Dart noticed Idunnr's ship was still docked. When everyone was aboard, they lifted off and flew away at max speed. Red was a bloody mess but could still see with her good eye. She watched through the rear view port as the station she was supposed to take care of explode into a bright fireball. Her vision got blurry then dark. Andarta could he heard shouting, "--a goddamn Sith!
Before passing out, red whispered to herself, "I'm sorry, Vash..I've failed.."
Chapter 4 | Out of the Ashes
The survivors escaped the madness brought on by Idunnr and sought refuge on Tatooine. Red was able to recover from her head injuries and destroyed eye thanks to a cybernetics expert who outfitted her with implants. For the first time in her life, she seriously thought about the coming fate of the galaxy. She had seen the evil of the empire first-hand and watched as a young sith destroyed her crime syndicate. The images of that day flashed in her head over and over again. She thought it over and felt certain Idunnr had fallen that day. Andarta even assured her that her ship was still docked just before they left.
Their spice trade was bust, their home destroyed, everything they worked for was gone. For months they scavenged and made trade with the jawas until an unfortunate rumor spread around. The Red Dragon Crime Syndicate had been reborn and was working with the Empire. Their leader: a powerful sith claiming to be the 'Red Dragon' herself. "Could it be?" Red wondered. "Had she survived?" A deep feeling of hatred filled her. She had been made to feel a failure to her late mentor, Vash Kantarus, because of that terrible girl. Revenge wasn't the only thing on her mind, though. She contemplated the support the Red Dragons would have if they truly worked with the Empire. As a kid, Red had run from the Republic to live life on her own terms but now it seemed she would have to go back if she was going to destroy the blight that corrupted Vash's legacy.
Red Queen gathered her remaining followers and began a small speech. "In the past, the Red Dragons had always been a freelance group doing what it wanted, where it wanted. But times have changed..The Red Dragons are back and out of control. They have become no better than the evil Empire, itself; a group that murders and destroys worlds. If we are to go on, we will need to change as well. In order to stop the disgraces that wear the Red Dragon name, we will need to join forces with the Republic under a new banner. We will spread out across the galaxy and rally any who would join the cause. Though we'll be cooperating with the Republic, we'll still be taking down our own enemies, our own way. All through the reaches of space, the Empire will learn to fear us..to fear the Space Cowboys!"