Bloodline: Excerpt

When Ransolm Casterfo had realized Leia Organa was in danger, he had not hesitated before rushing to her rescue. Yes, she had insulted him, been difficult at every turn, proved touchy and defensive–but she was his partner in the delegation and a member of the Senate. She required help. That was all there was to it…

…Ransolm felt he’d been brave. Decisive. Possibly even heroic.

His reward? Finding out he’d just ruined a sting operation nobody had bothered to tell him about. Wonderful.

As the mobster’s thugs swooped in, Ransolm gunned the engines of the sled and took off. The sudden rush of speed made Princess Leia gasp, and he shouted, “Hold on to me!”

One of her arms went around his waist. With the other, she grabbed the blaster from his belt. As she clung to him, she shouted over the roar of the wind, “Here they come!”

Ransolm couldn’t afford to look too closely at the approaching attackers. He needed to lose them. Losing them meant flying faster through caverns the others wouldn’t want to enter. That meant he needed to keep his eyes straight ahead.

Green blaster bolts sliced through the air directly in front of them, and Ransolm braced himself for a direct hit on the sled–but Princess Leia fired upward, and the caverns lit up with a brilliant flash of an explosion. When she fired again, another of the pursuing sleds slammed into a wall; Ransolm saw the blaze from the corner of his eye.

I’ll give her this, he thought, she doesn’t lose her nerve

…”They’re getting too close!” Leia shouted. She fired behind them, a series of short, staccato blasts–and the stone rumbled. Had she caused a cave-in? Ransolm’s momentary fear changed to satisfaction as he realized Leia had targeted some of the stalactites, ensuring they’d topple in front of their pursuers. Explosions behind them lit up the crags ahead, and the dark maw that promised an end to this cavern.

“We’re heading up.” He gripped the controls even tighter. “Brace yourself!”

They emerged from the crevasse into a larger pit, and Ransolm turned the sled sharply vertical. Their momentum allowed them to keep their footing–barely.

“We’ve still got two on our tail.” Leia swore again. “See any other places you could lose them?”

“Not yet.” Would they be shot down despite everything?

Ransolm heard the engines before he saw the blasterfire from above covering them. He gaped as he realized what was flying overhead–an X-wing fighter darting through caverns hardly wider than the ship itself. It lanced through a narrow opening in the rock and spiralled over them, energy bolts streaking down toward their Nikto pursuers. At the last moment before the X-wing would’ve collided with stone, it looped up again, swiftly tilting sideways and pulling up its foils to slip between stalactites.

“What in the worlds is Seastriker doing here?” Leia asked.

“I’ve no idea. How did he even fly down this far without crashing?”

“Not a clue. But it looks like he’s saved our skins.”

…Ransolm pulled the sled out of its sharp ascent, steadying them both. Leia’s arm slipped away from his waist as he cut speed to a more manageable level. His breathing slowed as he realized the chase was over. His rescue mission had been successful.

Unnecessary, but successful.

Then Leia said, “You know…you’re not a bad pilot.”

He turned toward her. To his surprise, she was smiling.

Ransolm began to smile as well. “And you’re not a bad shot.”

Bloodline, by Claudia Gray, p. 80-83.

Check out my review of Bloodline here.

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