J’rell tensed as soon as he saw the stormtroopers. He’d done nothing wrong that he could think of, but they were notorious for stopping anyone for any reason. They walked by in a hurry, and he exhaled a breath he didn’t know he was keeping in.
He went back to setting up his tools for the day. Ship repair wasn’t the most glamorous profession in the galaxy, but it kept him busy. He had a few shuttles in the bay, and two larger cruisers in orbit that were waiting for a larger crew to be assembled before he could go up to make repairs. Finding the right crew these days was challenging. He was sympathetic to the Rebellion, and he hoped they would prevail, but he was a little too close to the inner core to be outwardly opposed to the Empire. But he didn’t ask too many questions about who owned the ships he repaired.
Another troop of stormtroopers was approaching. They also seemed in a hurry. And they weren’t as organized as stormtroopers tended to be. There was no unison in their movement, and they didn’t even move in pairs. It seemed less like a patrol than a loose collection of white armor.
The correlian corvette in orbit had a faulty hyperdrive, and the backup was not as reliable as he liked. The maneuverability wasn’t great either, and he wanted to overhaul the entire propulsion system. His client seemed to understand that it would take quite a number of credits to get the ship up to snuff, and half of the payment had been issued. He was itching to get his hands on that ship, but until the client authorized the repairs, he just spent time thinking about how best to approach the project.
Myn, J’rell’s shop director was working on a speeder. She raised her head when J’Rell walked in, but she didn’t stop cleaning the steering mechanism she was working on.
“Something’s up with the stormtroopers,” she said.
“They definitely seem a little more off their game than usual.”
“J’Rell.” She nodded behind him.
A stormtrooper was standing in the doorway. J’Rell started and stood straighter. He inhaled, and quickly turned around.
“Can I help you?”
The stormtrooper shifted and looked around the shop. He didn’t say anything for a second. J’Rell looked at Myn with question. She shrugged, and he looked back to the stormtrooper. And they both gasped as the stormtrooper took off his helmet.
“Are you hiring? I know a lot about fixing ships.”
There was a large crash as Myn dropped the wrench she was holding.
“I always wanted to wear one of these things.” Myn was wearing the stormtrooper helmet. “It’s pretty cool!”
“Take that off!” There were so many things wrong with this situation, J’Rell didn’t know what to worry about first. He glanced over at the stormtrooper, who was examining the hydraulics on a shuttle door. That was his major concern.
Myn took off the helmet and followed J’Rell’s gaze. “Do you think they can quit? Just like that?”
“I don’t think so. But something happened.”
The stormtrooper made an adjustment and tested the hydraulic again. He shook his head and went back to the control panel, grabbing a probe off a nearby table.
Another haphazard collection of stormtroopers started down the street. J’Rell and Myn instinctively moved deeper in the shop, willing themselves invisible. The stormtrooper looked up, but he made no move to hide his presence. One of the stormtroopers directly looked at him, but kept walking on. Another stopped and took off his helmet. He stood in the street for a second, and then he turned and walked the other direction.
The stormtrooper closed the control panel, pressed a button, and the hydraulics moved smoothly. He smiled, and turned to J’Rell and Myn.
“I know how to fix more than this.”
Myn walked up to shuttle and pressed a button. The hydraulics worked perfectly.
“Looks good to me J’Rell.” She smiled at the stormtrooper, and he blushed and looked away.
J’Rell looked blankly at both of them, not sure how he ended up in this situation but not liking it at all.
“Who are you?”
“They called me Spinner.”
“Spinner?” Myn asked.
He shrugged. “It’s what they called me.”
“You can just leave? They won’t come and get you. I don’t want any trouble with the Empire.”
“I think so. I think it’s over.”
“They said the Emperor is dead. They said the Rebellion won. They said it’s done.”
“The Emperor is dead?” Myn could barely say the words aloud.
“That’s what they said.”
“The Empire is dead,” J’Rell whispered.
“I don’t know what to do outside the Empire,” Spinner said, “But I know how to fix ships. And you fix ships. We can fix ships together.”