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Crixus vs. Nok, Judge: Jaina

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(Note: This hypothetical duel takes place several years before either character's canon appearance in the main plot. So Nok will not have any force powers in this duel)


"Are you ready?" Master Miwak asked. The noghri trainer elbowed the back of Nok's knee, forcing the neimoidian to stumble, or else fall on his face.


"Considering what I pay you, and what you asked for this 'special session', I think I should be asking you that. I expect to be impressed here."


"You will be," Mistress Kida said from his other side, her lope easily matching Nok's long gait. "You hired us to train you to survive, and then you told us to spare no expense. This is what you asked for."


"A warehouse that somehow costs more than three spice refineries? And I'm not talking about the cheap hutt sweat shops, I mean the glass and chrome jobs that get senators on Coruscant high. A warehouse that somehow has a 'weapons budget'? If this is one of those glorified obstacle course "Gauntlet" knock-offs, you're all going to find your checks a lot smaller."


"Not a gauntlet," Master Miwak said without looking up. "A test. You want to survive? What was the third lesson of survival?"


Nok barely hesitated, the answer coming by rote. "Control your environment."


"Exactly. Your enemies will attack you when they think you are weakest, so strive to never be in a place of weakness."


"So you've created a place of weakness to drive the lesson home?"


"No," Mistress Kida said as the trio passed through a set of doors. "We created a place of strength."


Before Nok stretched a massive room, hundreds of feet in every direction. Slate gray panels lined the floor, walls, and ceiling, electric-blue light running along the seams. Large, impressive, and...empty.


"...I know you're waiting for a dramatic reveal, so please get on with it."


Mistress Kida rolled her eyes and produced a wrist remote. A quick flick of a dial and the holographic display powered up, coating her arm with a translucent blue control system sporting hundreds of labels. Nok squinted to read them as she moved.


"Section 12 laser grid?"


Mistress Kida smiled, her predatory noghri teeth and glinting eyes remind Nok of a hungry cat. She adjusted the holographic controls, and the word "Deploy" flashed across the holographic interface in green. Across the room, a section of wall split open and a series of six laser turrets emerged, whining as they powered to life.


"...oh." Nok's mind raced with calculations at the expense reports he'd received for this place. That translated to a lot of weaponry.


Mistress Kida detached the wrist control, the holographic interface blinking out while the turrets moved back behind the wall panels. She tossed it to Nok and leaned against a wall.


"This place is a seat of strength for you. You have control here. The test is to see how well you use it against something stronger than you. You have advantages, but can you exploit them?"


Nok attached the control and marveled at the options that ran along his arm. "This place is overkill. What the hell do you want me to fight? A rancor?"


"A rancor is easy. Tough but slow and stupid. You want to prove you can survive? Than you need something clever...and fierce."


Mistress Kida pointedly looked to the other side of the room as hidden doors opened.

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Crix breathed and muttered to himself as he checked his rifle again, making sure the power pack was secure and fully charged. Enough shots to take down a small army if necessary and used correctly. His fingers, plated with the robotic enhancements, slowly rubbed over the name engraved. He smiled to himself, remembering Folso's death. That was a brutal kill, one hard earned. Course, back when he had made the kill, Crix was in a blind rage and nearly died from wounds, but now he could look back fondly at the kill, though hints of rage always came through. Crix couldn't help but think of the scream his comrade made as his own blades found their target, and the taking of the weapon to be used against the other traitors.


Crix shoved the memory aside and rechecked the weapon. Now was no time to look at the past. He had a job to do. And an interesting one at that. He remembered how on Nar Shaddaa he had been contacted by a Noghri. This had surprised Crix for two reasons. In his experience, he was the person hired to kill a Noghri would be assassin, not the other way around. From Crix's experience, the Noghri were lethal killers and sentient predators, not too unlike Ganks. When someone hired Crix, it usually was to kill or collect someone and a Noghri would usually not need help with that.


The second reason was because Noghri and Ganks didn't typically associate with each other. As similar as they could be being predators and killers, the two species were like two opposite sides of a coin. Ganks were known to hunt in teams, communicating with each other seamlessly as they would close in on their bounties. Noghri were a bit more....adabtable. Certainly some worked with teams, but to Crix's knowledge, the Noghri worked as lone assassins. Ganks had focused exclusively on enhancements, modifications and technology, where the Noghri had perfected their natural tools of tooth, claw and scent. Not to mention, Ganks rarely cared about honor, but the Noghri cared deeply about honor. Ganks and Noghri were two different breeds of hunters to say the least. So when two of these assassins approached him with a job offer, Crix was curious.


The job offer was a challenge. Their employer needed a challenge in his, what they could only describe as, arena. They had seen Crix fight in arena's before against various beasts and gladiators, and when they had heard Crix had slaughtered his own teammates, they claimed Crix was the ideal candidate for the arena.


"After all, an individual who has gone up against threats like reeks, nexus, sibian hounds, not to mention all those bounties, would be able to handle a situation where everything is against him" the female Noghri smiled coyly, her teeth wide with pleasure.


If Crix understood correctly, their employer, a Nemodian, would have control over the arena and all of its weapons and features. Crix merely had to survive it and attempt to kill the Nemodian. If he succeeded, he would get a sizable profit. If not, well, then the Noghri would be happy knowing their employer's confidence wasn't for nothing.


And so here Crix stood, the elevator moving upwards slowly. He triple checked his rifle and this time his hand went to his disruptor, making sure the hidden illicit weapon was still secure. Grenades to control distance, a bomb pack for a finishing blow or to create cover with debris, vibrodaggers for all ranges, wrist blades, disruptor for the more difficult weapons of the room, magnaboots, robotic eye....he had the distinct feeling that he was going to use it all. Under his mask he smiled. A worthy challenge since the death of his team.


The elavator stopped and before him the doors opened, revealing the room. Rifle in hand, powered and at the ready, stepped in. He wasn't to start shooting until the Noghri had stepped out of the room and the door closed. Then all hell would break loose.

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Out of the doors strode the most well-armed...thing Nok had ever seen. Knives, grenades, rifle, pouches containing who knew what, and no doubt even more concealed in the battered but clearly well-made armor.


"What is that?" Nok asked.


The only response he got was the sound of the doors behind him closing, his trainers gone.


Oh, so that's how this is going to go


Nok's hands flew to the controls on his wrist, eyes searching the options. Maybe if he had an hour or two to train with this room he might be able to do something. But no, that was part of the point of the test. He had all the power here, but none of the preparation, just like the victim of any competent assassination attempt.


"Defense first"


Nok's found controls for Floor Columns and immediately began activating them, hoping they did what he thought they might. With a twinge of relief, Nok watched sections of the floor rise up into walls 10 feet high, staggered thanks to his random activation, but providing an impromptu maze and cover from the armored attacker.


"Now try this Mr. Overkill."


Nok pressed down on Laser Grid 12. And 13. And 14. And 15. The control beeped rhythmically as Nok activated system after system, the walls parting as the turrets emerged.


Fire at non-friendlies


Nok loved a good autofunction.

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Crix's rifle began to open fire as the doors closed. He aimed and pulled the trigger simultaneously, but was annoyed when the Nemodian reacted with the floors rising as makeshift walls. Under his helmet he smiled. This wasn't going to be as easy as he thought.


Then the turrets began to fire.


One shot glanced off of Crix's shoulder. The force made Crix take a step back but beyond that the damage was fairly minimal. Just a burn mark, nothing more. But as the turrets continued to fire, Crix's instincts came to life. Years in gladiatorial arenas taught him that in a firefight, either shoot the guy shooting you or get cover.


And the Nemodian had provided some perfect cover with his make-shift maze.


Crix dashed forward, receiving another blow to the back. While the armor prevented the worst of the shot, it did burn slightly. Crix ignored the pain as he entered the maze, rifle in one hand. Between two opposing walls, he began to activate his magnetization boots, a cybernetic enhancement often used in zero gravity environments. However, Crix had often discovered all enhancements had duel uses. He jumped up, placed a boot on the wall, and then while his foot got a grip, released the boot's magnetization to push again, using his other leg on the opposing wall. This 'wall hopping' allowed him to reach the tops. Popping out just for a moment before falling back to the ground, Crix had pulled a concussion grenade off his belt and flung it to where he had last saw the Nemodian. Maybe he could take the Nemodian out right away, or at the very least, force him to join Crix in the maze.

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"Where are the cameras on this thing?!" Nok muttered as his fingers scrolled through the options on his controller. Under the sound of blaster fire, Nok definitely heard the distinct pang of bolts striking armor, but the thud of boots didn't stop.


Of course he has armor. Can't make this easy right?


Nok's muscles unclenched a hair as he finally found the camera controls and activated them.


Now where are you...


Images flashed past, and...there! Dropping back down to the maze.


Why were you-


Any coherent thought in Nok's head shriveled and died as he saw the little metal canister bounce in front of him with a light ting. With a burst of speed he hadn't known he was still capable of, Nok ran, every step lasting so long he might have been running through water. He ran for the only cover available. The maze.


THUMP The blast sounded like a thousand fists punching a thousand pillows at once, and a wall of air shoved Nok into the metal columns, slamming his forehead into the durasteel. Gritting his teeth and struggling to focus his eyes on his controller, Nok scrolled through the cameras.


Aggressive little monster they dredged up. Let's see you get past this.


A smile split Nok's face as he activated the option labeled Floor Trap: Flame


"Let's have that...hmm...EVERYWHERE!" Nok shouted, not caring if the armored thug heard him as he started activating random sections of the floor over and over, only keeping enough care to avoid his own. The whoosh of fire shooting up into the air out of hidden apertures in the floor even as the blasters in the walls searched for a target they could no longer see made Nok change his mind. This hadn't been a waste of money. This was fun!

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Crix chuckled as he heard the exploding grenade and tried to move forward through the maze. He needed to confirm his kill after all. A cut across the throat and then he would be paid handsomely.


Helmet, begin to scan Crix muttered in his native Gank, sounding like a mixture of growls and grunts. His helmet beeped in confirmation. While the basic scanner in his armor couldn't make a map of the maze that the Nemodian had made, it would help him find his target at the very least. Judging by the life signs, the Nemodian was still alive. If Crix had to guess, he was just inside the maze now, while Crix was closer to the center.


However, his hopes for an easy kill died as he heard the Nemodian shout. His feelings were replaced with shock as the sounds of the floors begin to randomly open up. Crix reflexively took a step back as a platform opened before him. Deadly red and orange flames shot out, a death sentence had Crix stepped forward instead of back. Even here, Crix could feel the heat of the flames. Crix needed to move quickly. He wasn't sure how long the flame traps would stay open, how much fuel they had, and he didn't have time to figure out how long. He needed mobility, and he needed to get his target closer to him.


Crix hated that he had to lose his rifle for now, but in attempt to stay mobile, he shoved it into the flame trap in front of him, feeling his fingers get burned slightly. However, he was able to wedge the weapon so that way the floor would be impossible to close for now. The fuel would run out sooner or later, making this spot the one safe spot Crix could depend on later. But he had to let the fuel empty first.


The floor behind him was beginning to open, and the floor below was beginning to shake as well. In an instant, Crix activated his boots once more, jumped up and began to move up. He halted just below the top of the walls, remembering how their was practially an army of weapons outside the maze, most likely waiting for him to repeat what he did earlier. The heat from below made the ex-gladiator sweat, but he was used to worse situations. While it would be tiring, Crix could make do with this. And now that he didn't have to carry his rifle around, he had a free hand to balance against the walls. He could stay off the floor for a while.


Now to make his prey move closer.


Target lifesign. Give estimate for grenade toss. Must fall down onto target Crix again muttered in Gank. The helmet made a quick calculation and fed an estimated throw directly into the bounty hunter's robotic eye replacement. With his free hand, he pulled an ion grenade and activated it. Should he hit the Nemodian, any other 'tricks' he may have could be disabled for a bit, allowing Crix to crawl forward along the walls. If he missed, the Nemodian would be forced to move toward the center of the maze, closer to Crix and possibly into his own traps. With a practiced arm and the help of his helmet's calculations, he tossed the grenade up.

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The whining of the floor panel servos echoed through the maze under the fwoosh of the flame traps.


He jammed something. Fine. I've got time, and he can't find me.


As if to mock him, a familiar canister shape dropped in front of Nok.


"No! I'm not supposed to-" Nok's words were cut off by a burst of sizzling energy. He collapsed backwards as a million insects on fire scurried across his skin while a sun exploded behind his eyes.


Yet, he wasn't dead. Nok opened his eyes, skin still tingling, everything around him blurry. As his eyes focused, his brain caught up.


...an ion grenade.


Laughter bubbled up inside of him, and Nok stuffed his fist in his mouth to keep from giving away his position.


An ion grenade! Ha! You moron! Why would...


Realization hit him like a bucket of ice water, his glee shriveling instantly.


Frantically he looked down at his now dead controller.


No, no, no! Work! He pounded the controls, pushing the manual reset over and over. WORK! he silently shouted as he slammed his wrist into the wall.


Nok wondered if he was dreaming, as the wrist controller flickered to life.




System Reset




Around him, the columns slowly withdrew into the ground. The wall panels whirred as the laser turrets folded back in.


The floor panel still whirred.


He might still be close to there.


Nok sprinted, jumping onto one of the dropping pillars and leaping off of it towards the whirring panel, depowered vibroknife in his hand, his pistol a useless piece of steel now. As Nok rolled across the floor in an acrobatic fall his trainers would have been proud to witness, he saw two things. One, the armored man was no longer at the panel. He was clinging to one of the pillars somehow. Second, a rifle was wedged into the panel. A rifle that hadn't gotten hit with the ion blast.


Have to be quick.


As Nok reached his feet he flung his knife at the warrior. There was no way in Chaos that little blade would pierce that helmet, but reflexes were a hard thing to fight, especially regarding something sharp headed for your face. Nok grabbed the stock of the rifle, and with pure panic-induced adrenaline powering him he wrenched the rifle out of the jammed panel and fired blindly at the warrior.



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Crix couldn't hear the Nemodian speak when his grenade landed, but he could imagine his foe's surprise. When the walls began to lower after a series of clanks of someone hitting metal against a wall, Crix smiled to himself. His grenade must have hit the target. A full system reset would naturally occur after a complete power failure from the controller, which the Nemodian must have been carrying. Heck, even the turrets outside the walls were probably resetting.


That meant Crix needed to strike now. However, he didn't expect the burst of energy from the Nemodian.


If Crix had time, he would've been with the perfect acrobatic roll from his target. However, his combat instincts were working. Even as the Nemodian rolled, Crix dropped to the ground. He was going to have to fire fast. As he fell, he began to bring both arms up, to fire two of his weapons at the Nemodian: The blaster attached to his left wrist, and the nerve gas stored in his robotic hand. The gas would be a slow guarantee kill but the gunshot would make a critical wound.


Then the knife was thrown.


His instincts took over and he flinched, turning his shoulders and head away, almost feeling the dagger breeze past his face. He wasn't targeting anymore. Crix was firing blindly. In this one brief moment, Crix was unable to do anything but fire his blaster and keep firing at point-blank, while simultaneously release all of the nerve gas stored in his hand. If he could land a hit, maybe the Nemodian would fall. Or if his target could take a slight breath of the gas he released as he fell, he could land and make a shot before something bad happened. At this close of range, a blaster shot from either side could be a killing blow.

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