Here Come Cowboys

Characters: Tomás Darquin, Tylo Narsh, Anakin Solo, Validenn

It had almost been a perfect escape. The Minbari refugees and Phoenix crew were at the shuttle Striker. But something in the universe decided that they wouldn’t make it easy for Tylo, Tom, and Anakin to join them. The three of them needed a new problem. Unfortunately for them, this problem had hovertreads and a plasma turret. A Minbari hovertank parked itself directly in front of the Striker, effectively cutting off their escape. Like any sane person, the three dove for cover.

Tomas Darquin looked over the fallen wall they used for cover, then to the captain beside Anakin Solo. “Well…now what do we do?” Tomas asked him.

“One thing’s for sure, guys. Until that tank moves, we can’t do a damn thing,” Solo pointed out.

“Probably frag us if we take off,” Darquin muttered to himself. “Y’think they can hide a space station in that forest too?”

Solo lobbed a pair of binoculars at him, forcing Darquin to lean back and catch it with his free hand. “Watch our back, smart guy.”

Then the captain had an idea…a glimmer of hope in his eye. He hit his commlink. “Zanier, are you still up there?”


“Validenn, Zanier, respond.”

Still nothing….

…then the gentle wheeze and click of servomotors from Darquin’s binoculars. “Sir! Someone’s running into the combat area near the shuttle, straight for us. Minbari…it’s Validenn’s wingman! Zanier!”

Solo waved at him as best as he could without giving away their position, telling him to head back to the shuttle. Tylo Narsh reset his link for a person to person channel. “Zanier? Status.”

“Ran into a little trouble and had to punch out. Any word from Val?” Zanier said.

“No,” Tylo said. “I’d really like to know where he is. I’m gonna have a little talk with him.” He was not happy at all with Validenn’s behavior. Then again, not many would be happy. Having your escort cut in half while entering enemy grounds is not going to make you feel too good. Being at half power was only the beginning, however. The fact that Validenn disobeyed a direct order was what really got Narsh angry. He was definitely going to have a talk with Val later.

Validenn sat on the field, staring at the dead Minbari. Now what was he going to do? The reality of his recent action hit him full force. He thought back to what he was doing before he came here…what was he doing? Something about a rescue, and him flying escort…

“What have I done…,” Val whispered. Somehow, he felt that his friends were in danger…

His father’s voice still echoed in his head. The same words repeating. Then it seemed as if the words changed…The voice, his father’s voice, was saying something different now. It was almost as if he could hear his father next to him.

“Father, forgive me…it wasn’t my fault. There was nothing I could do. I…I tried to help…” He whispered. Much to his surprise, he got an answer.

“I forgive you. Go, help your friends, they are in danger…,” Valen said.

Validenn lay there, his face filled with surprise. Was he hearing things, was it just his mind playing tricks on him, or did his father really speak to him? He didn’t have time to ponder what was going on the feeling that his crewmates were in serious danger hit him full force. It was almost as if he could see them…

Val got up and rushed to his fighter. Maybe there was still time. He climbed aboard and shut the canopy, hitting the thrusters at the same time. The Zen’Tha lifted into the air and shot off in the direction of Yedor.

“Sir, I have an idea. Maybe we could knock out the tank’s hovertreads with our PPG’s,” Solo said.

Tylo looked to Darquin for his opinion. Thinking, Darquin wiped the dirt off his face, wincing as he brushed the waxing bruise near his mouth. “Might work…if we max out our PPG’s. The blasts could do some fun stuff with their anti gravity field or whatever, even if they don’t reach the hovertreads. Cripple the drive system and bring the tank down. But we’d fry probably all our caps in the process.”

The captain pondered it for a moment, then gave his answer. “All right, let’s do it. Set PPG’s to full. Break up and each take a separate tread. Let’s give them more than one target to worry about. On three. One…two….three!”

All three jumped out from their cover and took aim for their separate tread. Squinting through the heat haze of their gunfire to focus on their glowing targets, they watched the blue plasma bolts flash under the hovertank like a miniature lightening storm. And the tank kept coming. Unfortunately, in the time they were pinned down, more reinforcements showed up. Tylo managed to get off his shot before he had to get back under cover, but Darquin and Solo were not so lucky. A few volleys from the tank slammed into the ground ahead of their cover and sent flaming debris flying over the fallen wall. Solo nearly got his face blown off in the process.

The explosive reprisal knocked them off their feet. Darquin rolled onto his back and fired on what he thought were viewports, helping Solo back to the fallen wall. The hovertank took the last hit, wobbling and groaning like a wounded animal. It compensated with its remaining three treads, and decided to take a pot shot in retribution, taking off the top of a tree.

Solo sat against the wall. “Well, that didn’t work. Now what?”

Just then, the captain’s commlink beeped. He slapped it, and was both angry and surprised as Validenn’s voice came out.

“Sir, I’m sorry for leaving. There…was something I had to do. However, in the words of John Sheridan, I’m better now. Permission to save the day, sir.”

“Granted. And I want to talk to you later…”

“Yes, sir….”

The captain hit his link, and just then he saw a blur of motion scream over his head. Validenn took the tank completely by surprise, blasting it dead center. The turret evaporated, and frightened Minbari could be seen fleeing from the wreckage. Seeing that they were outmatched, the rest of the Warrior Caste fell back to cover.

“Ok, sir, you can head to the shuttle. And don’t worry, I’ll be escorting you for the duration of your flight.”

“Glad to hear it, Val. Well, here we go!”

Solo and Darquin peeled themselves off the wall now that the shockwave of Validenn’s wake had passed, mumbling in unison, “Hooray for our side.”

Tylo and the rest of the party emerged from their cover, making a beeline to the shuttle, and occasionally dodging phased plasma from the remaining Warriors. They got to the shuttle easily enough, and Solo keyed the preflight while everyone else strapped into their seats in record time. The shuttle lifted off, and they were on their way.

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