Terra and Tycho walked in silence to a nearby hotel room. When they entered, Tycho was surprised to see the connecting door to the next room was open. He sat heavily on the bed as Terra turned her attention to the dresser with a small duffle bag on top. She returned to his side with a change of clothes and set them on the bed.
Before she could leave, he reached up and grabbed her wrist. "Please donít go. I really donít want to be alone right now," he whispered.
His face was a mask of abject misery and Terraís expression softened as she removed her blond wig and shook out her dark gold hair. She knew he was exhausted and close to collapse so she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, tucking his head under her chin and stroking his soft hair. He threw his arms around her waist and held her tightly, afraid that if he let go, she would disappear.
He was close to tears when they heard the unmistakable sound of a blaster clearing its holster. Terra looked over her should toward the door to the next room. A man was standing there with a blaster trained on Tycho. He motioned for Terra to move away but instead she positioned herself in front of her young friend, facing the man.
"Why are you protecting him? Heís an Imp," the man addressed Terra harshly. She just stood her ground and didnít move.
Tycho stood and purposefully stepped out from behind Terra. He spoke softly, "Not anymore. They destroyed my home, my family. I donít want to wear this uniform ever again."
The man lowered the blaster. "Youíre from Alderaan," he said sympathetically. "I take it he is why you asked me here?" he asked Terra, who nodded. "Alright. Youíre familiar with one of these, I believe?" he asked Terra as he handed her a small hand-held electronic device.
She looked at the item and nodded again and gave Tycho a reassuring smile. She then picked up Tychoís duffle and emptied its contents onto the small table in the room, turning her back to the men.
The man returned his attention to Tycho and commanded, "First things first. Loose the uniform."
Tycho hesitated briefly, looking between the man and Terraís back. Slowly, he removed his boots, jacket and pants handing them to the man who tossed them to Terra.
The man raised his eyebrows expectantly. "I said strip. Completely." When Tycho again hesitated, he added, "Donít worry, son. Iím a doctor; Iíve pretty much seen it all."
Terraís eyes met Tychoís as she glanced back over her shoulder. She grinned shyly and nodded then turned back to the contents of his duffle, allowing him to preserve at least a degree of modesty. Tycho watched as she picked up an item and ran the small device over it; he realized with shock that she was scanning his clothes for electronic listening devices. No wonder sheís being so talkative, he thought.
He stripped completely and stood, feeling vulnerable, as the man handed him underwear and a pair of pants, which Tycho quickly donned. Once he had them on, the man began running a similar device up and down Tychoís frame.
By this time, Terra had finished scanning his clothing. She showed the man a listening device that had been installed in the rank insignia on the uniform jacket. Tycho paled when he thought about the conversation he almost had with Adair, thanking the Force he had not told his plans to his roommate. He was sure they both would have been executed on the spot.
She scooped all his clothing back into the duffle then picked it up along with his boots and walked into the Ďfresher. Tycho could hear running water in the shower and she returned, closing the door behind her. She drew a metal container out of the duffle on the dresser and placed his datacards and small trinkets in it, sealing it and replacing it in the duffle.
She raised an eyebrow at the man and he nodded. "It should be safe to talk, now," he said. "I have good news and bad news."
Tycho looked between the two of them questioningly.
"The Empire has been using tracers to route out Rebel cells. Usually without the hostsí knowledge," Terra explained bitterly. "Sometimes those tracers can be detonated remotely, killing all those in the immediate area."
"And you think I might have one of these devices?" Tycho asked in alarm. He sat back down on the bed, shaken by this newest betrayal.
"You do have a tracer but itís an older model. Location signal only and thatís the good news." the man told him. "Iíd say youíve had it about a year or so."
"Just after Hobbie and Biggs took off with the Rand Ecliptic. While you were still at the Academy." Terra said softly.
Tycho nodded, "I bet Adair has one, too." He turned his attention back to the man, "Whatís the bad news?"
"This version is usually implanted in an inactive state and then switched on at a later date," the man paused and locked eyes with Terra. "This one is active and I donít have the codes to shut it off."
Terra paled, "We donít have much time then. Can you remove it?"
The man shrugged. "Itís embedded in his collar bone and itís been there long enough for the surrounding tissue to..." his analysis trailed off when he saw the looks on Terra and Tychoís faces. He turned to Tycho, "I can remove it, but itís not a procedure I really want to perform outside of a proper medical facility."
Tycho nodded in understanding, "If you take me to a facility, the Empire will know immediately."
The man nodded. "If I remove it here, it will be extremely painful and the chances of infection are great. I would feel better if you could be dunked in a bacta tank almost immediately."
Terra shook her head, "We donít have that kind of time. As soon as the signal cuts out, they are going to be all over this place and the spaceport is going to be locked up pretty tight. Is there any kind of vest you can put on him to interfere with the signal?"
He shook his head, "Not that can pass through any of the security scanners at the spaceport or medical facilities. And as soon as he takes it off, heís going to light up every sensor from the Rim to Coruscant."
Tycho took a deep breath and let it out slowly, "Remove it." At the look on Terraís face, he added, "There really isnít any other option and it has to come out some time."
"Are you sure?" the man asked. "Under the circumstances, I will have to use a local anesthetic; I canít take the chance on putting you under completely."
When Tycho nodded, the man turned to Terra for verification. "Heíll need to spend a few hours in a bacta tank as soon as possible and heíll be pretty out of it from the painkillers and anesthetic Iíll have to administer. You sure you can handle him?"
Terraís smile was genuine when she answered, "My Little Celly wonít give me any trouble. And I think I can find a tank where he can spend some time unreported. Itíll be about thirty-six hours before we can get there, though."
The man nodded, "That should be good enough as long as you keep it cleaned and covered with the bacta patches Iíll give you." He smiled at Tycho, "Terraís a pretty good medic in a pinch; youíre lucky to have her as a friend."
He smiled weakly, "Letís get this over with."
After the tracer was removed, Terra led Tycho back to the spaceport. She had given him new IDs along with the duffle to carry. She had changed back into her normal attire and removed the heavy make-up and she was carrying luggage of her own. They looked like a young couple on a few daysí vacation.
The customs area for non-Empire personnel was pretty tight and Terra was trying hard not to betray her nervousness. Fortunately, Tycho was so relaxed from the painkillers that the only fear Terra had for him was that he would identify himself by his real name so she had instructed him not to say anything at all. And if there was one thing the Empire had taught him rather well, it was how to follow orders.
She breathed a sigh of relief when she got him aboard her ship and tucked into the bed in her cabin. She finished pre-flight and got a clearance within minutes. Glancing at her wrist-chrono, she pulled the controls that would send them into hyperspace about two and a half hours after Tycho had walked through customs.
Continued in Part Three