Through the skaters on the rink, Tcho sees the Stormtroopers starting to move across the ice toward him. The one with a slightly different set of armor is clearly pointing him out. Not good, but at least they’re not shooting. The most ambitious Stormtrooper suffers a nasty spill, and it occurs to Tcho that he might be able to take advantage of his childhood here. He slides on his gloves and steps out onto the ice. His target is the far end of the rink, the part of the Snowscape with the fake mountainside. If he can get there, he could lose them in the ice caves. At the very least, he should have an easier time climbing it than the troopers in their clunky armor.
Tcho played on frozen surfaces with his siblings all the time as a child, so he figures that getting over to the slopes this way should be no problem. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that a fancy ice skating rink kept slick by the constant work of zamboni droids is far more slippery than the pebbly surfaces of frozen streams or sewage runoff. Street shoes were fine for that kind of rough ice, but they are not sufficient here. Forward movement is not as easy as Tcho expected. As he slides unsteadily across the ice, he checks over his shoulder and sees that two of the Stormtroopers are clutching the third, yanking their comrade back upright.
Then Tcho finds himself suddenly stumbling forward, one foot having caught on a spot the smoothing droids missed. His own arms flail about, and one of the nearby skaters catches him with a tight grip.
* * *
Renault narrows his eyes, watching the Pantoran head out onto the ice. Where is he going? What are his options? The sergeant scans the possible exits and then returns his gaze to the suspect. Think back to your academy training, he tells himself. What did they say about chasing aliens? But Renault went to a third-rate school. The main thing that stuck with him from that experience was all the yelling. He growls to himself. He is never going to get ahead on his academic record; he needs to prove himself in the field. With a shake of the head, he returns his attention to the ice rink before him. I’ve seen lieutenants do this; I can figure it out. What is this guy trying to do?
The sergeant pushes past more people, making his way down the edge of the rink in the same direction the subject is fleeing. He darts his eyes up to see if there are any hatches in the distant ceiling and ends up staring straight into an array of very bright lights. They briefly overload his helmet’s sensors. When they clear, he sees how little progress has been made out on the ice by the three stooges in Stormtrooper armor that he is stuck with. Gah! Stupid apes. At least now that he himself is moving around a bit it does not feel as cold in here.
* * *
Tcho is about to thank the Gran in front of him for steadying him but stops, momentarily stunned by what the man is saying.
“Now there, young man, those nice Stormtroopers just need to talk to you.” Tenex Sinemet holds the Snowscape winter coat tightly, pleased at the opportunity that has presented itself. This could maybe get me a meeting that I could parlay into some Imperial contracts.
Tcho groans inwardly. I don’t have time for this! He shrugs his shoulders, relaxing his arms back behind him, and then rolls forward, letting them just slide from the sleeves. As the Gran stands there, blinking his three eyestalks in surprise, Tcho rolls back to his feet and snatches the coat from the fellow’s now loose grip. He slides away across the ice, the corner of his mouth quirked up. It has been a while since his cat burglar days, and it was just a job for him, not a calling, but it is still nice to see that those skills have not atrophied. Yeah, Tcho thinks with a private smile, I’ve still got it.
Tenex does not give chase; he did his due diligence. Maybe he can catch up with the Stormtroopers later and remind them of how helpful he was in slowing down their quarry. He begins rehearsing his approach in his mind. Why yes, I stopped him for a moment. He was very wily. You did an excellent job tracking him down… He may still be able to play this to his advantage without endangering himself. No point risking getting hurt. After all, he has that important business meeting this evening that he has to be ready for.
* * *
Renault continues down the side of the rink towards the end with the restaurant up on the hill. This seems to be the general direction of his subject’s movement. The sergeant does not go out onto the ice himself, hoping to cut off the alien before he can reach his chosen exit. He looks to be a limber guy, given how easily he tumbled out of that civilian’s grasp. He is probably crafty, too. He could be headed to any of a number of doorways towards that end of the chamber. Renault is not willing to commit to any of them just yet.
Out on the ice, his minions are still aping around. RB-937 turns to his partners with a brilliant idea. “Push me!” They give him a shove, and he careens across the ice. At first, it looks like he might successfully close distance on the target, but he keeps going past, all the way to the other side of the rink. There he crashes into the railing and flips over it.
Frustrated that the subject still remains at large, Renault steps up to an opening in the railing. The orders are to bring this guy in for questioning. If he can just close to stun range, he will happily shoot him. With the commotion out there, the crowds are clearing away, so he does have a clear line of sight on the target. Maybe some yelling will make him feel better.