Star Wars: Cruise Control | Scene 3.3

JT explores the cargo hold and its contents a bit more. While Tcho is distracted with his call, she is free to open boxes with impunity. There are some large cargo containers in a good central location that she thinks could work for the stage. Conveniently, some smaller boxes are near one of them, creating a makeshift staircase that she can ascend. She climbs up and pushes aside the top panel, then leans over to take a look inside. JT feels something tug at her, and then she is falling forwards with an undignified yelp, her legs kicking up above her.

Across the room, back turned to the event planner, Tcho continues his conversation with PD-101. The protocol droid is able to arrange for binary load-lifters to help the human out, but he has other news that is alarming to the Pantoran. So focused is Tcho on this that he remains unaware of what has befallen Jai Tessa.

JT scrunches her eyes shut, expecting to smack into the floor of the seemingly empty crate, but the collision never happens. She cracks her eyes open one at a time, and in the dim interior of the large container, she finds herself hovering just above its base. JT remembers Draac and Cal’s experience with a super-magnet trap. What is going on here? Do I have too much metal in my clothes? Her friends were caught by their cybernetics, Draac’s subdermal plating and Cal’s metal legs. JT’s only implant is a cosmetic LED light in her thigh. Surely that is not enough for a magnetic field to hold her this tightly. JT starts going through a mental list of all the metal items in her belt, wondering if that is the problem.

Whatever the field is, it is strong enough to prevent her from rolling onto her back. She cranes her neck around, trying to get a look at the sides of the dim crate, but her line of sight is very limited. JT pulls out her compact, which is tricked out with a variety of doodads, to use its mirror. When she pops it open, the small lights lining the inside also give her a bit more illumination. Now she can see the devices installed in the sides of the crate.

At the time Renci was telling JT about something like this, JT—if she is honest with herself—was not paying much attention. She was focused on bringing down Romar Kek from the Zann Consortium and cared very little about the exploration trips Renci and Renn were off doing. Renci told her all about the reverse repulsor field because she thought JT would be interested in the unusual technology. JT blew her off, and the thought of it still makes her feel bad.

Come to think of it, another type of repulsor technology was also present in the temple on Gesaril. Cal got caught in the field, and Kash had to disable the projection device. And here JT is now, stuck in a repulsor field web herself. She considers trying to enhance herself physically with the Force, but then wonders if that would even be effective here. The Gesaril temple was a place run by a Dark Force cult, with traps clearly intended to hold Force users. If these sorts of things were used on Jedi, it is unlikely she will just be able to jump out of here.

JT can see where the fields are being projected from with her compact. She could use her lightsaber to slash through one of the projectors, but that would leave some pretty obvious evidence behind. She needs to be more subtle here. There is no way for her to disable both of them at the same time, and if she only takes out one, she is likely to slam into a wall. But then she will be in the same situation as Renn, based on what Renci said, and he was able to pull himself off it. He is not that strong, not like Kash. With all the training Elaiza has given her, JT can make herself as strong as Renn… for short bursts of time… Force willing. She decides to try wrenching herself free of the field while both projectors are still on.

Slow breathing, meditation, patience, discipline… JT tries to focus on all the things Elaiza keeps telling her are important. She can feel the presence of the Force moving in and around and through her, and she begins tugging against the field. Then she loses concentration completely, distracted by a burning pain as her attempts to pull herself out succeed only in dislocating her shoulder. She manages to bite down on the scream that accompanies the injury. Been in worse situations, she reassures herself. It’s not like I’m physically crammed into a vent… again. There’s plenty of space here.

JT returns to the lightsaber plan, but she uses it in its extinguished form, as the really nice hydrospanner she designed its hilt to be. If she moves slowly, she can extend her uninjured arm enough to reach one of the projectors. With the extra length from the tool, she is able to turn a few things, cutting off the field on that side and unbalancing the whole contraption. “Oh, boy,” she sighs, as she falls half a meter to be squished up against one of the container’s panels.

* * *

Tcho flips his comm closed and takes a moment to steady his features, concealing how upset PD-101’s news has made him. Then he turns around to tell the human when her moving crew will be available, but she is nowhere to be seen. Where did she go? The hold is a big space; she could just be behind some cargo. He heads in among the crates himself, looking for her. Tcho hears something metallic skittering across the floor and sees some loose screws snap against one of the large containers, probably a magnetic one. The sound draws his eye to its side, and he recognizes the Imperial seal there. Taking in the other boxes around him in this area, he realizes they all belong to the moff.

This is too good of an opportunity to let pass, and the human seems to be nowhere nearby, so Tcho decides the chances of discovery are low enough to take the risk. From an inner pocket of his borrowed uniform, he draws out a set of picks and sets to work on the latch of one of the crates. It springs open, revealing a collection of bindercuffs. This type is particularly hard to slip out of, but it is much easier to deal with cuffs when one is not bound by them. He picks up a pair and flips it around to the narrow pinhole in the back, then inserts one of his tools to just almost flip an internal setting. A little bit of stress will be all it needs to spring open. He latches one side around his wrist to test it, then squeezes his fingers together and gives a sharp tug and a twist. The restraint comes off, and Tcho allows himself a private smile as he continues going through the crate, sabotaging its contents.

There is not enough time to get through the whole supply, though, because an explosion across the hold sends him scrambling for cover.