Walker sat underneath his ruined fighter, trying to remember where the red wire led. His apprentice, Jason, was on the wing trying to repair several fractures that had sprung up during their frenzied flight away from their previous home. Another human approached the fighter, carrying a toolbox. The human crouched next to Walker, setting the box down with a rattle.
"Need any help?"
"Yeah. Go away. It's bad enough I'll have to scrub your reflection out, J, but I shudder to think what you'd do to the engines."
"This from the guy who tried to bomb a weapons R&D plant alone about a year ago?"
"You certainly weren't much help. Do you know how much of the upholstery back there I had to replace because you couldn't handle a simple shift?"
"Well, you could have warned me!"
"I didn't think it was a problem! The kid handled it without a problem, didn't you, Jase?" The kid in question was too busy laughing at the two adults tearing into each other to answer. The boy's laughter tapered off as he focused on something else on the tarmac. "Boss-"
Walker also saw the approaching figure: a leonine biped in a military uniform. "I'll go see what he wants. Don't touch anything," he admonished J as he headed off. J sneered at him, and as soon as Walker's back was turn, he immedately began running his hands down the fighter's hull, just to annoy the owner. Walker ignored the sound of something ricocheting off J's skull, followed by the man's "Why, you little-"

Walker approached the military figure, who was watching the humans with an indifferent air. "Can I help you, Lieutenant?"
"Chell Walker, I'm Lt. Tre'tal, of Intelligence. May I speak to you for a moment?"
"Go ahead. Is this about the dimensional drive? Because they don't have a clue how it works-"
"No, sir. Have you heard any stories lately concerning the Outlier regions?"
"Yeah, a few. Something about someone nasty picking off small convoys and outposts?"
The lieutenant reached into his jacket and withdrew a datapad. "Sir, what I am about to show you is classified In-System Only. No one is to know what is displayed here." The lieutenant thumbed the pad on, and a picture of a very large ship appeared.
"You know, Lt., this ship looks a lot like-"
"We know, sir. But our searches of the database show no mention of a ship this size from the Times Before. We believe that either someone is trying to frame us, or that there has been an anomoly similar to the one that brought the Emperor's flagship through."
"Alright, so why show me this?"
"Our fringe contacts are not as wide as yours were when you helped us remove the T'nathi from our world. We expect that you could still contact several who may have information."
"I probably could, but I don't have a ship anymore." Walker jerks his thumb over his shoulder. "I barely have a grasp as to how the shift engines work, and the trained monkeys there haven't a clue how to fix a Skydagger-class."
"A trained repair team is on its way now."
Walker mulls it over. "And weapons, both for the fighter and for me. Some of these contacts don't have fond memories of me."
The lieutenant sighs. "Those will be provided as well. Anything else?"
"I guess not. I'll lift in a couple of days; there's a few things I want to take care of first." The lieutenant gave Walker a brief half-bow, then turned and walked away.

Two days later, Walker sat in the cockpit and reflected. He had finally convinced his brother to let J and Jason stay there until Walker's return, although the battle to get him to relent was of epic proportions. Rift won't be happy, but he'll forgive me. Besides, it shouldn't take more then a couple of weeks, tops. That thought died painfully when Walker dropped back into realspace- right next to the dreadnaught he was pursuing.
Walker watched in horror as the dreadnaught's particle beams finished off the colony. I chose this place because it was out-of-the-way. Looks like they had the same idea. Before diving for the planet's surface, he had the presence of mind to toggle the scanners to full power. The atmosphere was rough at high speeds, and the only thing Walker could do was hold on as his fighter's nose began to flouresce in the extreme heat. It wasn't until a laser barrage passed right by the plummeting fighter that Walker really realized the danger he was in. A breakaway is hard enough at this speed, but when it makes me a bright target... Walker's dilemma was solved when the next burst clipped off his left wing, sending the fighter into a spiral. Straining against the G forces, Walker withdrew the chip onto which the sensor scan had been written. Finally working it free, he crunched himself into a more compact form and reached for the eject sequence. Waiting for the canopy to be on top, he finally triggered it and was shot into the planet's atmosphere.
Walker eyed his fighter while in free-fall. Maybe Nate can salvage parts of it after this? Once again, Fate gave Walker's hopes a swift kick when another laser barrage hit the fighter, detonating the newly-repaired craft. He looked at the flaming wreckage, too shocked to be properly angry. Knowing that his ejector seat was too heavy to allow a soft landing, Walker began to undo the restraints. Lifting a latch, he pulled-
and nothing happened.
Walker began to tug furiously, very much aware that hitting the planet's surface at terminal velocity would prove- well, terminal. He continued his struggle until the seat fell below the cloud level. Walker took a look at the rapidly approaching scenery, knowing that time was up. He closed his eyes, whispered a wordless prayer, and gave one last tug.

To Be Continued...