Qi’ra entered the cockpit where Han glanced back at her as he sat behind the controls.
“What happened?” he asked.
With her gaze on the floor, she said, “L3-37 is dead.”
His expression saddened. She sat down beside him, looking out of the window to the chaotic beauty of the Maelstrom. L3-37 had been the mission’s first casualty. She could only hope it would be the last.
The cockpit became crowded as Chewbacca joined them, then Tobias Beckett, and finally Lando who was cradling his arm as he wrapped a spare piece of cloth around his blaster wound.
Han turned to look back at him. “Sorry,” he said with a genuine tone.
Qi’ra’s lips quirked upward in a slight smile. When they first met Han was far from fond of Lando but his kindness outshone that needless despisal. Han’s eyes locked with hers for a moment before he directed his focus back on the window.
“We’re going to need to get moving if we want that coaxium to get to Savareen in time,” Lando said.
“Yeah and I just checked it,” Tobias added.
Qi’ra looked back at him.
“We haven’t much time,” he finished grimly.
Qi’ra’s jaw clenched.
“Just exactly how much time do we have?” she asked him.
He shrugged. “If we’re twenty parsecs away from Savareen it’s not going to be good.”
She looked to Lando who suddenly looked crestfallen. “Are we twenty parsecs away?”
He looked at her directly in the eyes. “Twenty-one.”
She gasped. No. This couldn’t be happening. If they returned to Dryden Vos without the coaxium they would all be killed.
She was about to speak when Han said, “Hey guys, we’ve got other problems.”
She followed his gaze and much to her dismay an Imperial Star Destroyer sat directly ahead, a haunting figure in the dark clouds of the Maelstrom.
Tobias Beckett cursed. Chewbacca growled.
Lando leaned forward. “That is an Imperial Blockade.”
“What do we do?” Qi’ra asked.
“We continue forward,” Han replied, garnering everyone in the cockpit to look at him. “I’ve flown for the Empire. There’s no way they’re going to send their TIE fighters after a rinky-dink freighter.”
At that very moment, five TIE fighters emerged from the Star Destroyer’s belly.
Qi’ra’s eyes widened. She had a very bad feeling about this.