Freezer Burn

The cold, harsh winds of Hoth blew wildly across the frozen wasteland as a terrible storm threatened to bury everything in sight. Snow whipped at speeds of 100 miles an hour, and the temperature dropped to 20 below. It was a night of darkness and terror. The moon and stars were cloaked by the fierce storm, and even if someone were to produce a light the snow would shroud it in seconds.

This storm, however, blew far to the east of the stranded transport ship of the former senatorial aid Tianti, the Anomid that had taken the Supreme Chancellor’s Special Task Force from Darga Prime so that they could meet with Senator Prin Ay’laya, Brin’tac’s former employer. The dense clouds could be seen even from the hill that Brin’tac, Geldar, Satchal, Lialla, and Tarrsk were standing on. The hill was just north of the ship and mountain that had been the trap that Wraith had used to strand them on the icy planet.

“Do you think the storm will hit us?” asked Brin’tac as he and the others crouched next to Lialla with the macro-binoculars.

“It’s difficult to say,” she said grimly. “The winds are whipping fiercely in every direction. Who knows which way it will go.”

The stranded members of the Task Force and the Daragald’s Blight mercenary unit had been stranded now for nearly a week, and so far their repairs had gone much better than they’d expected. However, if the storm they now saw approaching were to hit them who knew what sort of disaster that would cause. They had dug the ship out of the snow and had managed to get it into an upright position, but all that work would mean nothing if the blizzard buried them.

“Do you think we could move the ship somehow?” wondered Satchal.

“I don’t know if that’s possible,” said Geldar. “Par’kiss said that the ship might not have enough power to get us off Hoth as it is. If we move it we may not have the energy again to lift off.”

“Can the Force help?” asked Lialla as she glanced up at the young Jedi.

“I doubt we could stop a storm that strong or even divert it,” he admitted. “Even if we could I wouldn’t really know how.”

“We’d better get back with our report,” Brin’tac suggested. “Maybe the others will have some ideas.” The others agreed and with faces downcast and the situation looking hopeless, the small group stood and slowly made their way back to the ship.


The lounge of the ship was crowded with the twenty-four refugees as they gathered around in the now spacious area to discuss the storm and the repairs. Par’kiss, the Devaronian technician of Daragald’s Blight, told them that the ship’s hull was still far too damaged to withstand the onslaught of the storm if it struck. If they only had a few more days they might be able to get it totally reinforced to withstand the heavy snow. As it stood there were several patches of the hull that would totally buckle and break under the pressure of even a few feet of snow.

“Isn’t it possible, though, that if we get the hull to withstand the blizzard we could always use the ship’s engines to melt the snow once we’re ready for lift-off?” asked Jarith, a human soldier and scout who was a member of Daragald’s Blight. He was a tall, thin man with a crew cut and a face that looked as if it had been in one too many brawls. He wasn’t very bulky, but he was a well-defined individual. He had bright blonde hair and blue eyes, and he was generally a good-natured kind of guy, always looking on the bright side of things.

“It is possible,” replied Par’kiss. “If the engines were warmed up they would melt the snow enough to thaw the snow behind the ship and underneath. However, we would have no way of thawing the snow above the ship. That snow would pack down on us, and it would take a great deal of the ship’s energy to lift off.”

“Then we have little choice,” said Gariss, the gray-skinned Barabel leader of Daragald’s Blight and the one who had assumed command over the entire situation. He was large and muscular, and the jagged scar across his face and on his bare arms indicated he’d seen many battles. He wore a blaster carbine on his back and a blaster pistol at his right hip, and a vibroblade was sheathed at his left hip. A bandoleer was slung from right shoulder to left hip, and on it he carried six grenades and a few thermal detonators. “If that storm swings our way we will have to move the ship. Since the engines do work we’ll have to move to a safer location.”

“But if that happens we might not have enough power to lift off and get off world,” Par’kiss informed them. “The engines would suck a great deal of our power.”

“We have no choice,” said Gariss. “If we don’t move and the storm comes this way we’ll have no chance of getting off alive, am I right?”

No one argued. If the blizzard hit they were stuck for good. There would be no way to repair the ship if they were all buried inside, and there would be no way they could lift off. They had to avoid the storm. It was the only way.

“Could anything else go wrong on this trip?” Satchal remarked, and several individuals glanced in his direction as if he had just jinxed them all. Satchal just ignored the looks and shook his head in frustration.

“Then we’ll need to find a source of power,” said Par’kiss. “We might be able to conserve our energy if we don’t warm up the ship’s engines before moving it, but even if we do that it will sap a lot of power to get us far away from the storm. We have to find another source of energy if we’re going to hope to get to outer space.”

“I just wish we could get this over with now,” remarked Tso unhappily. He had been dreading the trip off the planet since everyone would be counting on him to do the job. He’d be flying without guidance systems, and that meant a very difficult ascent through the atmosphere. If he didn’t fly the ship just right he might burn them all up. Since he’d had several mishaps in the past while flying he had some serious doubts that he could achieve this. However, since he was the only pilot they had he was their only hope.

“Where are we going to find this power source?” asked Brin’tac. “Do you have any suggestions?”

Par’kiss thought about this a moment. “I’m not sure. There is likely to be no technology on this planet, and I’m not sure how we could possibly power the ship up unless we have some sort of energy cells.”

“Is it possible to recharge our energy cells in the storm?” said Hodge, a weasel-like human of Daragald’s Blight who was the communications officer. He had squinted eyes and a darker complexion, and his dark hair fell in a wiry, tangled mess. He also tended to walk more hunched over with his hands clasped to his chest. He wore an assortment of devices all over his dark gray combat vest and at his belt. “The winds might create a lot of power.”

“The winds would also destroy anything we might use to generate the power we’d need,” Lialla told them. “Those winds are strong, and we don’t have the time to both patch and reinforce the hull and create something to channel the wind.”

“She’s right,” said Par’kiss. “It would take me some time to build something to channel the power of the wind.”

“Then we either need to find another power source or some sort of shelter against the storm,” said Gariss. “We should do some additional scouting.”

Chik’a’timin disagreed. He was a Carvrigan, a being with large, bulbous eyes, a thin, flat face, a long, thin neck, and a thin, frail looking body. His head was shaped in a triangular fashion with the point being the nose and mouth and the top and back of the head being a point of the base of the triangle. His eyes were black orbs that stuck out on either side of his flat head, and his nose was nothing more than to slits on either side. His mouth also appeared as a long slit, and when he spoke his head seemed to split open in half. His voice was high pitched and squeaky, and he had a very thick accent. He was a security specialist and a pickpocket, and he often got the unit out of sticky situations. “What are we going to find on this wretched planet? We could search for a decade and never find the power we’ll need or a shelter near enough that we could drag the ship to. Let’s face it, we can’t fly the ship anywhere or we’ll suck the power we need for lift-off, and we don’t have the manpower to drag it anywhere. If that storm hits us we’re doomed.”

Marks agreed with Chik’a’timin. He was a human scout who had never seemed to develop into manhood. His body was that of a thirteen-year-old boy. He was about five feet tall with dark hair and brown eyes. He wore a dark blue combat vest and black slacks, and he was armed with two blasters, one on each hip. In spite of his size he was a very skilled scout, and his skill with blasters was exceptional. “I’ve been out and scanned the whole area. There’s nothing for kilometers.”

“Still,” said Geldar. “We have to do something just in case that storm does come. Satchal, Tarrsk, Lialla, Brin’tac, and I will go out searching to see what we can find.”

Satchal glanced over at him with a raised eyebrow. He hated Geldar’s attitude sometimes. He always acted like he was their leader. “Thanks for asking,” he muttered sarcastically just loud enough for Geldar to hear. “I do so love these excursions into the deep freeze.”

Geldar frowned at him. “Sorry, Satchal,” he replied. “It’s just that you’re a Jedi and can handle the cold better than others. Your skills will be perfect in helping us find anything out there.”

“Besides,” Tarrsk put in with a grin. “He didn’t think you were such a sniveling little baby.”

The words stung, and Satchal had had quite enough of Tarrsk always taking Geldar’s side. “Hey! No need to hurl insults,” he said heatedly. “I was just trying to make a point.”

“Your point is well received I am sure,” Brin’tac replied crisply to end the conversation. “What do you think, Gariss?”

“Sounds good,” the Barabel replied. “We’ll need everyone else to remain here to take care of repairs.”

But the heated words continued, fueled now by Brin’tac’s own attitude. “Why do you always pick on Geldar when he tries to lead us wisely but when it comes to useless over here you never seem to argue?”

Brin’tac was stunned by the words and taken aback. Tso fell back a step in disbelief. Lialla gasped and put her hand to her mouth. Geldar shot Tarrsk an inquisitive glance. Nyarchagga’s eyes widened in hopes that a fight would break out. Satchal’s anger flared up and his eyes narrowed on the Trandoshan. “Useless?” he shot back angrily. “What about…”

But Tarrsk cut him off. “And you! We wouldn’t even be in this mess if that stupid weakling you called master had been able to take out a minor Dark Jedi.”

Satchal’s lightsaber ignited and Tarrsk whipped out his blaster rifle within a split second of Satchal’s move. Satchal was about to lunge at the Trandoshan when a blaster bolt nearly took off the Padawan’s head. Everyone froze.

“Enough!” Gariss roared. “If you two don’t stop I’ll have both of you fried and served for dinner. Now shut up! We don’t have time for your petty bickering. We’ve all been through a great deal lately, and I’ve noticed that everyone is growing testy, but I will not have open brawling on this ship. Whether you like it or not I’m in charge around here. My unit outnumbers and outguns you nearly two to one. Now calm down.”

A dense silence fell in the room as Satchal and Tarrsk both put their weapons away. Each glanced at the other and the others in the room realizing their own foolishness.

“What about me?” Tso wanted to know. “I want to go on the scouting mission.”

“We’ve been over this before,” said Gariss, his words still losing some of their heat. Tso was clearly disappointed. He hated sitting in the ship doing pretty much nothing but going over the ship’s controls while the others went out possibly never to come back. “We can’t afford to risk your life. You’ll stay here where it’s safe. Besides, if the storm comes we’ll need you to fly the ship.”

“Don’t worry,” said Nyarchagga with a sadistic grin. “Pretty soon you’ll be doing plenty to incinerate us in a fiery explosion that will end all of our lives in the most excruciating of ways as we pass through the planet’s atmosphere.”

Everyone shot him a sharp look that caused the Dug to withdraw. “What?” he said with a bit of a smirk. Then seeing Tso’s wide-eyed expression he turned away from them, a smile splitting his elongated face as he stifled his laughter.

“Now let’s get moving,” said Gariss in an attempt to regain control. “We don’t have a great deal of time here. Lialla is in charge of the scouting expedition. She knows terrain a lot better than the rest of you. Follow her lead, and I don’t want to hear any arguments. Is that understood?” Even if there were any objections the Barabel’s menacing snarl would have silenced them. Turning, Gariss led his people out of the room and sent them back to work while Lialla and her team gathered their things to go out into the harsh cold once more.

The End

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