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The Spice Mines of Kessel


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The last Mandalorian alive on Kessel stepped through the dark and lifeless rows of spice processing machines, limping slightly on her injured left leg, but steady in her determination. Her breathing pattern had stabilized, and the taste of Zalis’ blood was still fresh upon her scarred tongue. Her darkmetal jaw ground slowly as she considered target approach vectors. The question now remained; where was her target? 

 

Terra strained to hear any small movement, but there was not but silence. She tightened her grip on the rifle in her hands, her finger twitching against the stiff slack in the trigger. Harjav had always had a thing for stiff triggers, all snap with little give. She would need to keep it in mind for any fights in the future. She leaned heavily on a duracrete pillar, lolling her head up to stare at the yawning expanse of stone overhead. 

 

A voice, bestial in its growl, ripped through her silence. Her jaw set, sending red-hot sparks onto her already burning tongue. 

 

“Your life is forfeit, you meager worms! Die.”

 

And so the enemy reveals himself. 

 

The Mandalorian stepped away from the pillar, watching streaks of light begin to appear on her HUD, indicating firing arcs. All were parabolic in nature, as though from a launcher. Her combat utility package ran a quick parabolic trace pattern, locating the main firing location. One of the firing arcs appeared centered on her location, part of a determined line of fire meant for maximum effect on multiple targets. 

 

Terra began to spring from the ground, igniting her jetpack in a maximal burst to move past whatever explosive radius the grenades would be able to put forth. If they were the same from the last exchange, they would be EMP grenades, and Terra had no desire to play in the dark. 

 

The leap would have been perfect, but the left leg did not quite put out the same effort as her right, sending her into a leftward arc, instead of a vertical jump. Her feet skimmed the duracrete of the pillar she had been using, and she kicked away from it in an upward motion, but it only served to angle her up into it. Desperation began to dig its claws into her heart and she felt its chill in her veins. 

 

I will not die on this kriffing rock.  

 

The Mandalorian skidded sparks up the duracrete pillar as her chaotic leap caused her to skip like a stone on a placid lake. Her already wounded side began to burn as it was dashed on the unforgiving stone. As gravity overcame her upward trajectory, she activated her jetpack and kicked back, soaring away from the pillar and her enemy at the same time ten meters in the air. She was reflected in the blue fire of the grenade’s explosions and some of her natural fear faded. 

 

The tracing complete, the combat AI highlighted the Troig’s location, and through a magnification of her HUD, traced a golden line about its form, a beast kneeling behind a destroyed processing loom. 

 

The Mandalorian settled the reticle on the exposed portions of the Troig and let forth two swift bursts of fire from the slugthrower, stitching the air with a total of six rounds towards the beast. She terminated the jetpack with a blink of a crimson eye, and let gravity embrace her once more. 

 

((1))

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To the Death...

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The still conscious half of the duel-headed Troig grinned darkly as the battlefield was illuminated by the arcing blue glow of the EMPs as they fizzled and hissed, seeking what they may. Even so, the mein of the criminal radiated a single desire, revenge. The rocketing, duracrete-skidding retreat of the last remaining Mandalorian was not good enough. Though, given the warrioress’ trajectory, Blimp had to wonder if the EMPs had at least partially achieved success. If anything, it gave him another advantage alongside his hungering fury.

 

Pushing himself upwards to take better aim with his arm mounted cannons, the Troig faltered. Any legerity he might have had was quickly washing away as the sniper’s round took it’s tax of blood and pain from where it lay nestled, fragmented within his buttock. With a wince of pain and gritting of teeth, Blimp spun and sank back down with his back against his cover, just as a burst of slugs pinged out of the gloom and zinged against his cover and the ground before him. Blimp winced, his elongated neck tucking downwards out of instinct, even as rattled off his armored feet. Not nearly as powerful as the sniper’s round; but enough to convince the Troig to pull his feet upwards slightly.

 

The dropsuit held. With it’s servo-assisted joints, he could move with impunity; but a solid body within made it easier to control and move. An injury within, made the suit bulky and it’s forced movements, a grating pain that would shoot up and down injured limbs.

 

And so, for the moment, Blimp sat there, taking in his surroundings. Devastation reigned supreme. The miniature concussion missiles having set off a chain reaction that had brought portions of the factory crumbling down, it’s integrity now conpromised. Gaping holes in the roof allowed the weak sunlight that streamed in to activate any glitterstim in it’s path. It’s faint glow mixing with the sun’s and casting even darker shadows where pillars and beams still stood sentinel. This is where the Troig sat; beneath a still intact ceiling, his mind churning. ‘The Mandalorian was backtracking, fleeing; surely. Of course it had seen the devastation my missiles wrought. Distance would not diminish such a weapon. The Mandalorian must die!’

 

Even without a target, the missiles were still deadly. It took no time at all to switch from homing to detonation upon impact. The Mandalorian must die! With a hiss, a trio of missiles spun out from his launchers and arced upwards and over his position of cover, racing blindly into the hodgepodge of darkness and light; zipping forward without target; set to destruct upon impact and, with hope, bring the factory crashing down upon the Mandalorian.

 

Blimp whispered, “Don’t worry Shim. I’ll get him. I’ll get him or this will be our grave.”

 

Setting his jaw, the Troig, held his launcher close to his chest, ready to engage his suit’s emergency abilities if the need arose. Without Shim, life was practically not worth living. Still, Blimp would not give the cursed Mandalorians the courtesy of going quietly into the night. 
 

((2))

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Two clones dropped immediately, the first with a sizzling hole in his neck and the second with a blaster bolt through his left eye. A third stumbled as the crimson energy pinged twice off his breastplate before punching through and leaving a smoking hole in his gut.

 

The other two, to their credit, didn't panic. Flash-training and drills robbed them of their survival instinct, and they dropped to prone out of practice instead of fear. They returned fire, sending their own green blaster fire pocking into the wreck of the X-wing.

 

Unfortunately, a rigid, ingrained compulsion to follow orders left the clones with a significant weakness. Their commander. With orders to take her alive at all costs, including their own lives, they didn't aim to kill but just to scare her back behind her cover.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Aboard the Hoat'te's Legacy, Captain Hoat'te watched three of his clones dropped. A twi'lek, his heavily pierced lekku wrapped around a muscled, tattooed neck, his yellow eyes focused on the brief, fuzzy image of his prize's face as she mowed down his men.

 

"Just one rebel, and three die in seconds. Pathetic." He keyed into his comm. "Send out five of the shock troops. Flush her out of there."

 

He paused as he stared at the screen, his own clones returning fire.

 

"And ready my mount. I want to take her into custody personally."

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Another five figures descended the ramp, the deeper thuds of their footfalls hinting at the tall, heavily armored humanoids that emerged. Decked out in the same green and gold gleaming plate as the zabrak troops, these tall figures might have gone unidentified had they not growled in anticipation of the violence. Wookiees, hairless by genetic design, and bred for equal parts obedience and ferocity. Each bore a heavy repeating blaster straight out of the clone wars, modified and gilded to match the opulent garb of the slave soldiers. The weight of the weapons didn't seem to register to them as they all broke into a sprint, moving to flank around the X-wing on each side and catch the rebel holdout in a pincer movement.

Edited by Nok Morliss
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The Mandalorian spun as she fell, her passage creating roiling waves in the spice-smoke laden air. Her 360-degree HUD display was beginning to fill with a lot of erroneous data, and she blinked the data-streams away in frustration. Her team’s basilisks were mourning, and with their neural-links now disabled they were sending data into the void. Even artificial intelligence wasn’t immune to the stages of grief. 

 

Terra’s crimson eyes flicked to her target on her HUD, the orange-outlined Troig in its jumpsuit. A surge of powerful hate flared inside her heart. She reclassified it into a beast, denying it humanity. What she fought now was no more human than the Trandoshans that had tried to sell her into captivity. But there was something more to this fight, something darker was rising to the surface inside her, surpassing the code of honor that she had built as she had joined the Rebellion. 

 

She didn’t care anymore about taking captives. She didn’t care about this useless glitterstim that smoked and burned around her. She didn’t even care for the Rebellion now, or her friend who had sent her and her team on this suicide mission. All she wanted now was revenge for Harjav. For the twins. For the lovers. Her jetpack microfired, slowing her descent. 

 

Tears unbidden clouded her vision, making the outline of the troig swim and shimmer, but as she blinked, three glowing orbs shifted around the beast. 

 

Kriffing… 

 

She fired her jetpack again, angling herself back and away again, but the missiles were faster than the falling Mandalorian. Two of the missiles spun off to impact the ceiling and do the strike team’s work for her, but the third impacted the duracrete pillar before her. The missile’s explosion took the pillar full on, smashing it into splinters of rock and slagged steel and cratering out the ceiling above it in a torrential downpour of fractured stone. 

 

Terra herself was beyond the direct explosive blast radius, but the wave of shrapnel had a much longer reach. The darkmetal chestpiece was showered in splintered stone, some of it spalling into the flesh of her stomach to cut the pale skin in deep gashes. A larger splinter of the stone chewed into the muscle of her left thigh, digging into the muscle belly and causing the woman to shriek in pain as she crashed into one of the many pallets of processed spice. The rifle fell from her grasp, hanging limply from the sling around her shoulders. 

 

The assassin rolled and tumbled from the pallet onto the broken stone, clutching her left leg as it cramped and spasmed about the injury site. The already injured leg was now doubly so, and as she rose to one knee, the woman resisted the temptation to pull the sliver of stone from the injury. She had seen at least one spacer die from removing a knife from a wound, exsanguinating due to the blade being the cork popping from the proverbial bottle. 

 

She breathed in a ragged breath and steeled her nerves. 

 

Terra shuddered against the waves of renewed pain and eased herself forward, laying the battlerifle across the shattered plasticene containers of glitterstim like they were the sandbags in a trench. Checking the fuel supply of her jetpack, she began to angle her field of view back towards her enemy. 

 

The battlefield was now strewn with fractured rock from the ceiling and shattered equipment. The missiles had done the work that she had been assigned; the destruction of the processing plant. She could retreat now with an accomplished mission, but there was only revenge left now. She would drag the beast into the hells of Sabre’tah with her bare hands if she had to. 

 

Terra had previously triangulated the Troig’s position, and with Hades combing her buy’ce’s camera pickups it did not appear the beast had moved. She hefted Harjav’s rifle and watched the firing arc from the impact grenade launcher. It was currently loaded with a Calgary-3 variant of the G-20 “glop” grenade, which would do perfectly. She snapped the rifle down and unloaded a burst of slugs onto the Troig’s position to pin him down, letting the rifle’s recoil raise the angle until it reached proper angulation and depressed the secondary trigger, sending the impact grenade towards the beast. It was time to flush the beast out, or to kill it in its lair.

 

((2))

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To the Death...

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Enemy fire pinged above and around the Troig. “Clearly we missed.” Blimp growled. “Guess we’ll try something else.

 

Pulling his legs up underneath him, Blimp gritted his teeth. This was probably going to hurt, a lot. The moment the rounds stopped pinging about him, the Troig activated his suit mounted rockets. In a relatively uncontrolled ball of metal plating and pain, he shot upwards; spinning about to try and gain a view of the sole remaining Mandalorian; but before the Troig could do so, the grenade that had arced silently through the spice laden air dinged against what had been the alien’s cover and erupted in a marshmallowy eruption of sticky goop that latches onto the flitting armor of the beast, redirecting his relatively uncontrolled launch into a forced arch crashing back into the floor.

 

Blimp let out a shout of pain as the glop yanked him backwards to the floor and slammed his armored frame into it. The pain in his side shooting down his leg and up into his gut. Kicking and pulling at the goop only made it worse. In a matter of moments, any point of the armor that came into contact with the expanding foam was instantly caught in it’s sticky grasp and the Troig was entangled in a spider’s web of mallowy entrapment.

 

This was bad. Very bad. If Blimp knew anything; being immovable was not a position of advantage. It was a death sentence. It only would allow the spider to close in and ensnare him and suck him dry.

 

With his arms and legs snared; Blimp activated the emergency escape protocols of the suit. The armor peeled back where it could from his front and propelling the Troig out forcefully into the air. Even so, it was not enough to send him completely clear of the glop and his legs were entangled along the edges of the foam. For the second time in as many moments, the Troig slammed into the floor, this time without any armor the soften the blow. Letting out a grunt of pain, Blimp gritted his teeth as he used two arms to push himself slightly off the floor. Using his third hand, he reached into his vest and pulled his disruptor pistol free. His eyes scanned the hazy darkness, looking for the Mandalorian. Seeing her in the shafts of weak light that pierced the hazy darkness, he fired once, twice, thrice in the woman’s directing. The haze being eaten alive by the powerful weapon, igniting the haze of spice along the fringes of the blast.


It was time to die or avenge his better half. Nothing else matted.

 

((3))

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Terra’s crimson eyes narrowed as she watched her grenade make impact, spraying its adhesive in a fountain of multicoloured foam. She let out a small breath between her gritted teeth. Her eyes wandered to the various alerts that began to appear on her HUD. Her heart seemed to be racing. 

 

--ENVIRONMENTAL TOXIN LEVELS--

 

Her eyes narrowed. She was feeling extraordinarily warm, and her heartbeat was sounding a drum in her ears. 

 

--Systems infiltration at catastrophic levels--

 

The Mandalorian blinked at the alert, opening the full notification with an explosion of sanguine aurebesh. 

 

--The drug known as Glitterstim has infiltrated into your environmental scrubbing unit- 

 

Kriffing not now! 

 

The assassin began to gingerly move backwards on the leaking glitterstim containers, favoring her right leg heavily. Her eyes were drawn back to her prey as she saw the beast eject from its armored shell. Her mind toyed with the idea of skinning the beast alive for its transgressions, and it contorted her mouth in a cruel smile. 

 

These are not honourable thoughts

 

The crimson eyes narrowed.

 

These are the derangements of the Sith

 

The Mandalorian began to curse herself for dishonoring the deaths of her squad. 

 

This is not who you were meant to be. 

 

Terra’s smile faded as she staggered to her feet, focusing on her breathing as she fought with the corruptions of hate and the onslaught the spice was having on her senses. A bolt that blossomed in the color of fire scorched past her head, and then the viewscreen went blank as a disruptor bolt ripped through the warfare processing center of her jetpack disconnecting her from Hades and the combat AI. 

 

Kriffing…

 

Terra ripped the buy'ce from her head in a snarl of rage, exposing her flushed face to the sweltering environment of the glitterstim processing plant. She gasped a breath, her senses overwhelmed by the rush of spice that piqued her nervous system. The pain her wounds began to produce nearly crushed her and her vision swam with tears as the grief of her loss came in unstoppable waves. 

 

Kriffin… Spice...

 

The assassin shouted a cry of anguish, finally losing the control she had carefully crafted around her emotions, the walls about her rage breaking like a dam over-flooded. Her cry became a shriek as her left leg gave out and she slammed herself again a fallen scrap of duracrete, the shattered stone scraping along her beskar’gam with overpronounced sound, nearly deafening her. 

 

It killed Harjav. 

 

Shaking hands clung to the rifle’s stock and handguard like it was the last handholds of the brink of insanity, and they were slipping. 

 

Aorn. Ba’sar. 

 

The Mandalorian stared at a slowly widening dribble of crimson that ran from her armored side to splash amongst the lumps of steaming spice about her, bubbling into a blackened pool that stank like the backend of a Ragnet

 

Was that from Zalis? Did the Troig do that? 

 

None of her wounds were life-threatening, at least not yet. A few tears joined the sanguine river, diluting its purity with evidence of her grief. She still had a mission, and all it was now was to kill. The Rebellion had designated the mission for minimal enemy casualties. Any opponent she was supposed to bring in for questioning and processing.  

 

Arna. Longkra

 

Terra stood, favouring the right leg and sighted, through the smoke and destruction, along the iron sights of Harjav’s rifle. She pulled with all her might against the pistol-grip and the handrail to bring the rifle to her shoulder and to keep it steady. She closed her left eye and let the front sight come into focus in the ring, letting it waver over the mass of adhesive foam. 

 

I don't care what I'm supposed to be. No prisoners. 

 

The slack in the trigger taken up, she let the front sight rest on the figure of the Troig. She heard nothing but the tachycardic thudding of her heart. Mandalore let out another shriek, a mix of pain and predatory triumph, and slammed the trigger again and again, hammering a burst of slugs at the Beast with every pull. 

 

((3))

 

((OOC: Great job, this was a ton of fun.))

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To the Death...

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Alrighty, first ruling, what could possibly go wrong?

First, I want to congratulate both of you. This was an excellently written duel, one that on my first read through had already sucked me in. You both did an excellent job of detailing your surroundings and the effects the had on your characters. In addition, you both expertly handled injuries from previous duels, making it clear that they were there, and no, they weren't just fluff. Multiple times one of your characters would try something or think of something that didn't or wouldn't work due to present injuries and battle damage, as well as fully utilizing what remained of their kits very effectively. Well done.

 

The only glaring errors in this duel comes from Blimp, firing three concussion rockets even though in his last dueled he emptied his reserves. There were no mentions of a restock or a reload, raising the question of where the rockets came from, and Terra's character sheet being edited before we could confirm that one of her NPCs was in fact kitted with a glop grenade (This is more forgivable, as the rebels came with the express intent to capture the enemy, and he could have just as easily picked one up from an unaffiliated rebel corpse and noone would have batted an eye, whereas finding three miniature concussion rockets on a pirate is considerably more jarring an idea). The takeaway from these is to A) Be mindful of what you have written on your sheet, and B) To be mindful that mods need the info as well

 

When it came to taking new damage, however, I think Terra handled it more effectively. None of Blimp's attacks were useless. Each one, even if it didn't connect, was used by Terra to describe how she came to be in her current location, and damage was assigned accordingly. Terra only made three attacks the Blimp could respond to due to the formatting of the duel, and two of those were disregarded entirely by Blimp. Her opening flurry of shots were described as harmlessly bouncing off of his armor and the surroundings, and then again in the next post when she opened fire again.

 

In the final two posts of the duel, both characters lose important parts of their kits. First, Blimp loses his armor, severely limiting his capabilities. Next, Terra loses her connection to Hades, which she'd been relying heavily on for the prior duel as well as the current one. The duel ends with both of them in the dark, stripped of their fancy tech and weapons, and left to duel it out with regular weapons and the naked eye. For Blimp, he's on the ground, his leg stuck in his armor, his mobility and positioning easily the more disadvantageous of the two. Terra, despite her injuries, is left standing, firing as an opponent that is for the most part, immobilized.

 

This was a very close duel, and one that I'm glad will be my first ruling. But in the end, Terra's positioning and the rockets from Blimp mean that

 

Terra is victorious over Blimp

 

The next post is Terra's.

 

Once again, I'd like to congratulate you both for an excellently written duel. For people that love Star Wars even without all the laser sword wizards running around, this is an excellent piece of storytelling that I look forward to seeing more of in the future!

Edited by Mavanger
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The Mandalorian continued squeezing the trigger, letting the recoil take the rifle wherever it pleased. She could not see past the tears of rage that streamed down her bleeding face, to drip and mix with the sweat to absorb the drugs. Within a moment, the rifle spoke with nothing but the rhythmic clicking of a magazine devoid of ammunition.

 

Terra dropped the rifle, letting it rest on its sling across her heaving chest, the heated barrel glowing faintly orange and giving rise to steam. It took all her energy to start walking, her armor felt unbearably heavy and her joints as if they were greased with sand and lead. She could barely pick up her feet to avoid stepping into the blood-soaked mud which was all that was left of her men.

 

She left them undisturbed but for the tears she let mix with their remains, and still her rage built. Her fists clenched and her pace quickened, for she could now hear its ragged breathing. Adrenaline began to pump through her, washing aside some of the placidity the Glitterstim had forced into her.

 

The assassin could see it now, sprawled in the disintegrating adhesive foam, blood leaking from several gunshot wounds. One of its legs was snapped by a shot and she could see the bone protruding from the flightsuit. One of the heads was clearly unconscious, while the other looked at her through bleary eyes, in shock from the wounds.

 

Kriffing Akk Dog.

 

The Mandalorian stared at the chunk of ivory bone, highlighted in the Troig’s iridescent blood against its alien flesh, protruding like a marble pillar from a macabre landscape. She placed a bootheel onto the wound and began to add weight to the bone until she could hear it grate against the muscle beneath in a wet snapping. She met the bleary eyes and smiled, showing the inhuman features of her darkmetal teeth. A reflection of her soul, animalistic predation hidden behind an athletically beautiful face.

 

She slipped a tomahawk from her belt and leaned on the beast’s wounded chest, staring deep into the eyes of the conscious Troig. Her eyes were crimson and held no emotion but malice. When she spoke, her voice was gravelly and devoid of humanity.  

 

“You killed my family.”

 

The Mandalorian pointed with the tomahawk to the broken body of her Sniper, Arna. She shrugged derisively.

 

“So, I will take yours.”

 

She hacked down again and again on the protruding neck of the unconscious head, all while staring into the conscious eyes. She could have made it fast by activating the vibration, but she had no desire to quicken this. The eyes began to fade as her cuts began to hit the bone of vertebra, sending up splinters of gore-laden ivory.

 

 Terra paused only long enough to administer a bacta injection to keep the beast alive, before finishing her work. She kicked the severed head away from her, watching it roll awkwardly in the dust.

 

-Snap-Hiss-

 

 

The destroyed facility was alight with the azure flame of Qaela’s blade as the Mandalorian cauterized the wound. She made it slow and painful work.

 

“You will live with your loss, as I must.”

 

Terra stooped, picking up the severed head and placing it on the wounded beast’s chest.

 

“May you always remember.”

 

With that, she limped away to collect her men’s beskar and to deliver Zalis to Rebel custody. Within moments, she was astride Hades and on her way back to Nar Shaddaa, followed by her mourning, riderless basilisks. 

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To the Death...

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Across the asteroid, the blasters of Sovros soldiers spraying fire across the desolate landscape went silent. A single order crackled in their headsets.

 

Retreat.

 

_______________________________________________

 

A small freighter, the former property of the droid boss of Black Sun, cut through the dust-churned air. Inside, the autopilot mechanically gave repeated status updates to the lone neimoidian sitting at the helm. Nok barely paid attention. His focus was on the reports and orders being frantically relayed between the Sovros officers.

 

A full rout. The rebels had managed a full rout. Nok's fingers twitched as the implications of his worst case scenario unfolded before him. House Sovros would be cutting him out at minimum. Darth Zayira would be after him personally for this disgrace to her burgeoning reputation. Contractually Nok owed them nothing, but that would hardly matter for insecure heiress's vendetta. Plus, Nok had no spice to guarantee his hold on Mon Cal, and if the reports were accurate his would-be drug lord had been in the vicinity of several large explosions and hadn't emerged.

 

"Approaching warehouse. Setting down," the autopilots tinny voice rattled off emotionlessly.

 

______________________________________________

 

"You're still alive..."

 

Nok stared down at what remained of Shimsinblimp.

 

It was borderline miraculous that the tough spice jacker was still breathing. His pain, muted by his weakness and flickering consciousness, stood out to Nok as a deep, dull thrum. Staring down at him, Nok clenched his fists. His gray-green skin tightened and paled as pure wrath flooded his carefully controlled demeanor.

 

Nok hated. He hated like he had never hated before. This failure...this catastrophe...how dare these idealistic, subservient, moronic...rebels ruin his plan? For what? To save a scummy asteroid like Kessel? They'd fought and died for this garbage scow of a world? This victory was worth the lives they'd tossed away to get it? It was irrational. It was ignorant. It was stupid. And that stupidity had cost Nok. Their suicidal, insecure need to believe in a fantasy and go out in a blaze of glory because they couldn't handle reality had put Nok's plan in jeopardy.

 

The rubble rattled as Nok's pure bile poured out of him and churned the Dark Side.

 

Then he was in control again. The hate did not leave or diminish, but his rationality took the controls back. It was the way of the universe that fools hindered the intelligent. It was childish to think otherwise.

 

Nok channeled his hate, lightly touched the Force, and lifted the prostrate, mutilated troig.

 

"You represent a significant investment. Survive if you can."

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Blimp could barely comprehend the goings on of the sole Mandalorian survivor as she towered over him. He felt the pain, each swing of her blade coursing through his nerves with fiery furor. The red head of the Troig gritted his teeth in pain, able to do little else to stem the assault. In the back of his mind, atop his brainstem boiled a cauldron of rage. Even through his pain, his hatred seethed from his very being. If Shim had not been dead yet, he surely was now.

 

The crime lord forgave little in his business dealings; nor did he allow offense to go unaddressed. Yet here he was, powerless to stop what could very well be the end of his days.

 

Instead the Mandalorian administered enough aid to assure that the Troig would not die on this desolate rock; at least not soon enough. This was no aid. It was torture to the finest degree; an art to the level Blimp himself could respect. And still, he hoped for death. With Shim’s lifeless head atop his chest, he wheezed as he lay there in the darkness. Death would be a welcome release and it would not come. In the dimness of Kessel’s setting sub, Blimp waited for what, he did not know; but if he lay there long enough, the icy hand of death would descend and take him to be with his other half, his soul, the light to his darkness. 


“I am coming Shim” he hissed. He was not afraid of death. He welcomed it if it would come. Even as he awaited the icy embrace, his words tinged with compassion for his other head; the explosive rage boiled beneath his scalp. He did not know who that woman was. He did not need to; her armor was enough. Who she was, he did not know, but what she was, who she called her own. That was enough. Honorable warriors. He spat, the phlegm sticky and clinging to his dried lips. His vision clouded red with pain and anger as his thoughts dwelt on two things, death and hatred.

 

Finally, Blimp faded into a void of rage and semi-consciousness. He was awoken as an otherworldly force hefted him from the ground. Pain shot through his wounds and drove the battered beast to a pinpoint focus. ‘Nok Morliss? So the blind insect is a sorcerer as well’

 

For a moment, he was surprised. The Nemodian had more tricks up his sleeve.  Still stranger yet, he had come for the Troig in his defeat. Staring intently into the eyeless mask of his business partner, he raised a feeble hand to point towards the lifeless bodies of the slain Mandalorians, devoid of their armor and arms. “The Mandalorians lay in ambush. Shim . . .” he paused, gritting his teeth against the surge of loss. For the first time, Blimp was truly alone. “Their bodies.” he hissed, “and whatever spice you can salvage.” His thoughts lay in revenge; but even if Shim was gone, the two heads had shared a telepathic-like connection. Their thoughts, their body, both were mingled together. Blimp had lost his other, most would argue his better, half. He owed a debt to the raiders that had accompanied them. He knew what happened to anyone who left a debt unpaid. The Hutts had taught that lesson all too well.

 

Death would not come; but with Nok Morliss’ help, perhaps revenge lay on the horizon. It was all that kept his heart pumping.

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On 11/20/2020 at 11:51 AM, Shimsinblimp said:

“The Mandalorians lay in ambush. Shim . . .” he paused, gritting his teeth against the surge of loss. For the first time, Blimp was truly alone. “Their bodies.” he hissed, “and whatever spice you can salvage.”

 

The agony of Blimp echoed out from him with clarity as he regained consciousness. His pain was a harmony to Nok's senses, the Dark Side quivering to the pulses like the strings of a musical instrument. Physical pain, loss, rage...and hatred. Clear, cold, cutting hatred. It prickled like needles on Nok's skin. He sucked in a breath, half out of shock and half out of desire to taste the sensation.

 

It was...galvanizing.

 

Nok carefully floated the body of the mutilated troig to his borrowed ship, before reemerging to begin lifting and looting the battlefield for corpses and spice. It was quiet, tedious work. While Nok's "vision" using the eddies of dark emotion within the Dark Side allowed him to see objects and through them, sensing the physical world in a way the sighted couldn't fully imagine, it did nothing for color or light. The wording that was no doubt painted on the sides of containers were invisible to him, too shallow a difference in height for him to distinguish.

 

Then something caught his attention. One of the containers nearby distorted the echoes of the Dark Side as they touched it. It was so minor Nok wouldn't have noticed had he not been paying close attention. It felt like...pain...and death. The container itself wasn't in pain, as ridiculous as that would have been in. It was as if Nok was sensing something from a great distance, something faint yet consistent.

 

He sank deeper into the ripples and churning of the Force, the taint of that dark echo filling his thoughts.

 

Pain...yes...the pain of muscles worked past exhaustion...the pain of blows and electroshocks...over and over...

 

And death...a brief spike of fear, then despair, and then death, a final explosion of darkness that snuffed the life engulfed in it.

 

This was spice, Nok was sure of it. What else could have such a lingering fingerprint on it? The man...men?...who had mined this spice had been overworked and tortured when they had. And then they'd died violently, terrified and hopeless.

 

And Nok could sense it.

 

As he expanded his awareness, he became aware of other, tiny echoes on other containers. None were as insistent as the first, but all were present. Suppressed rage...hope that turned to pain after years of darkness...despair...fear... It was all there. It was soaked into the very stone of the world, generations of agonies poisoning the ground and seeping into the air.

 

The corpses were similar. Their pain and violent murders wafted around them like an afterthought. Had this one been scared when she'd died? No...furious. This other one had suffered, his body burning before giving up the fight.

 

Nok focused his work on the containers that bore the greatest agony, and on the corpses. Soon enough, he was finished, and the stolen ship of Black Sun's lord rose into the sky and shot out towards the stars.

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The small force of rebel alliance marines, escorted by the remaining starfighters and CAS began their cleanup of downed pilots, dead mandalorians, dead black sun, and dead Sith. THe bodies of the rebel allied mandalorians were collected and loaded into the transports, being given a place of honour due to their status of “Heroes of the Rebellion.” 

 

The Iron Knights would ride no longer. But their crypt would be a monolith to the sacrifices of the enfants perdus. Those few Crusaders who turned from their once dark path and forged the light of a new rebellion. 

 

Beth and the Templars escorted them back to Nar Shaddaa as the Rebel Marines secured the planet. 


 

Andromina

Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Lieutenant

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  • 4 months later...

The ragged delivery freighter was not quick to offload her goods. Even if Kessel had been taken by the Rebel Alliance, there was still a lucrative and active black market retail business that bustled about the planet; it’s illicit income still grossly out earning any legal incomes the world had access to. So even as the crew carefully and methodically offloaded their cargo of food stuffs, water, and purification tablets they watched as their local contacts moved an equal number of packages into place to be loaded and transported from the world. Spice, it was as illegal as it was valued.  The financial gain from the delivery paled in comparison to the payday awaiting their next cargo.

 

None of that mattered though. Through the carefully calculated hubbub a figure swarthed in flowing gray cloaks strode silently from the hold, ducking to the side as soon as it exited the ship. Beneath the robes, the Jensaarai’s armor flowed seamlessly, barely giving away the fact that it even existed beneath the flowing robes. The force moved subtly about the man, muted and almost indiscernible against the miniscule buzzing backdrop of the world. With a jump and a twist, The Mantis twisted around the nearest building corner and fell into stride with the few shuffling locals that made their way down the otherwise desolate windswept street.   
 

Silence shrouded the man in an aura of mystery as deep as the force that was muted against the invisible wall outside of his body. He strode silently and with purpose, his head tucked low against the cold biting wind. He did not seem to pay mind to anything around him; lime the others, he looked like he was focused on getting where he was going with as little hassle as possible.

 

Beneath his robes, The Mantis’ weapos were tucked tightly against his armor. They did not clink and clank. They did not rattle. They barely made a discernible bulge. Each tool was designed to fit into the armor, blended against detection but accessible in a moment. 
 

He strode with purpose through the newly conquered city. Things would change here, hopefully for the better. It would take time and effort. For now, chaos and darkness lingered amongst the hope. Hopes of better tomorrows and hopes of less interference in money-making schemes, good and bad. Against the backdrop, with his subconscious signature alteration within the force, The Mantis was all but invisible to anyone or thing but the naked eye. Anybody that did not focus directly on the Jensaarai Defender simply glossed over his very presence.

 

Twisting and turning The Mantis distanced himself from the distant landing pad until he found an idling and unattended landspeeder outside a crowd-packed tavern. With nary more than a glance to see that nobody was attending the craft, The Mantis commandeered it. Soon enough, the speeder was churning up plumes of dust in the weak atmosphere as it tore across the open ground outside the small city. Racing towards Outpost Delta, The Mantis made good time. There was little here to hamper him. The outpost was barely beyond a few prefab structures and an ad hoc landing pad; but it was the start of good things on the oblong planet.

 

Grinding to a halt as he entered the base, The Mantis slowly raised his hands in a gesture of peace in response to the laser dots trained on him by the guards outside the outpost.

 

“The Jensaarai have sent me as a representative. Tell Lt. Andromina I am here.”

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Von Howlster's Reach touches down on Kessel with a subtle whirl. Aboard this ship was Colonel Mythos Von Howlster and the top men of Moon call, Callsign: SaberCats. These were the best he had to offer, veterans of both the Galactic Alliance and Imperial Remnant, forged in the flames of war as eternal brethren forever more. Clad in Katarn Class armor, each sported the weapons of issue, most notably the Lightfoils adorning their hips. They laid in wait under their Commanding Officer, Sergeant Major Jibbs, silently awaiting orders within the lower deck of the Herald Class Transport.

 

It wasn't long ago that they faced the might of the Sith at Corellia. And it was there that they gained a whole new sense of respect for the Shistavanian they called Colonel. Stories of his mental breakdown after his fight with the Sith Nyrys had all but been wiped clean with what transpired during their last battle together. And now they were here, at Kessel, a new mission at hand. No matter what it was, they were willing to follow the towering beast straight into the Corellia Hell without question, as morale and respect rose between them. They weren't just soldiers under anyone's command. They were brothers and sisters, born of commonality, strengthened by their shared blood and bonds.

 

Mythos departed alone, Jibbs remaining on open comm as his commander made the trek to command. A Shistavanian wasn't an uncommon sight on Kessel, but a free Shistavanian did manage to catch a few eyes. Especially a well armed one. But who would mess with a beast that towered over most men, hidden behind a mask of his own visage and strolled with his hand on the hilt of his blade constantly? His clawed hands and jagged teeth alone were deadly, but with the assortment that accompanied them, who would find themselves brave enough? As he strolled amidst the masses, he grimaced beneath his mask. Only the mystics of the two Orders would dare.

 

On the outskirts of town where few dared to venture, let alone by themselves, Mythos found himself walking toward the Command Center posted outside the city. His duster kicking up in the wind, he pulled it's burlap across his about to hinder the dust as his trek began to shorten. Before long, a being stood before him, the Guards of the Post aiming weapons at him. He heard the being speak, but with the wind, couldn't make out gender nor tone, only their words. It seemed they had a common request. Mythos stepped in front of the being, cutting off their aim onto himself.

 

"Let Lieutenant Andromina know that Colonel Von Howlster has arrived as well." He spoke with a hoarse snarl from behind his masked visage, his voice more roar than intelligible thanks to the scar that wrapped his vocal cords. "Lower your weapons as well. That's an order."

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“Dimitri....” The now fourth of her droids to be called by that name whistled away imperviously behind her cockpit. Feeding lines of data into the small holo display that burned in dull orange luminescence above her right hand. “Okay D. Watch for more behind that asteroid.” She flipped comm channels with a click of her right thumb. Forcing the mic that hovered an inch away from her face to broadcast over Alliance Sig 2. “Templar One making approach.”

 

“Templar two in formation.” 

 

The two X-Wings began their run from behind the dorsal engine of their carrier towards the sith fighter screen-

 

“Andromina.” A voice cut throug the simulation as the holo display froze. She caught a moment of nausea from the sudden lurch of the sim pod settling back down. “Guests in service hall two. Waiting.” She sighed and pulled off the helmet and pushed up the sim’s cockpit and helped Dimitri out of his socket. Then together they made their way to where the newest assignees had been sent. 

 

She grinned and extended her hand to each of them in turn. Her accent betrayed her Imperial Training. 

 

“I am Lieutenant Andromina of Templar Squadron. We have been assigned to recon and prepare for the invasion of Mon Calamari. If you will walk with me, we can hit the briefing room. I will need to know your names and abilities so I can best assign you however.” 

 

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Andromina

Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Lieutenant

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As Mythos and the stranger were led into the compound, the Shistavanian let his eyes wander about as the flinching of his ears occasionally perked up or pressed back depending on the levels of noise they encountered. Such was the nature of his beastiality, heightened senses that tended to be more weakness than strength, capable of being used to disarm him. This was the necessity of his helm. This was why he wore a metallic visage of his own face. A warrior adapted, and he had many a year to make such a leap.

 

As they were led into the solitary room where they were instructed to wait, Mythos laid his mask down upon the table and laid his shoulders upon a nearby wall, his ears folded backwards as he lowered his gaze and licked his teeth. The dust had a way of settling in the most uncomfortable of places, and drool overcompensated his desire of clearing his gumlines. As he shifted, the dust upon his duster and fur shifted, his gaze raising upon the being across from him and he sneezed briefly. 

 

"It's been many moons since I came across Jensaarai." He spoke in an attempt to pass the time and hinder the silence, his graveled voice rumbling against his scarred voice box. "I am surprised to see your kind still exist outside the Jedi Order."

 

Just as he finished speaking, a small female pilot entered the room, followed by a small droid, her introductions rushed behind the tone of her accent. Mythos simply bowed, and offered her the lead as he grabbed his mask and fell in behind her and the Jensaarai, his massive form towering over both. For most of their journey to the briefing room, he was silent, carefully observing both the Lieutenant and the Jensaarai as they walked and listened to them as they talked. After all, he hadn't been a part of the Rebellion for all that long and with the presence of Jensaarai, some of whom he had hunted himself as an Alliance Marshall under the Republic, some studying needed to be done.

 

"I am Colonel Mythos Von Howlster of MoonCall." He finally chimed in when he got the chance after their arrival. "Former Marshall under the New Republic and Lieutenant in the Alliance Marines. I've been recently promoted and tasked by Admiral Slaughter and Lady Zynthos to create a unified front of Galactic Alliance and Imperial Marines. While I'm not keen on being pushed back off the front lines, I understand the necessity. Old bones like myself are needed to teach the recruits."

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The Mantis had stood, his limbs hanging loosely at his side, staring down the weapons leveled in his direction. Concern had not been high on his list of responses. The rebel soldiers were doing their job. On a world like this one could hardly blame a fella who was wanted for his mere existence for being a bit jumpy.

 

From behind his enclosed helm, The Mantis raised an eyebrow in interest at the arrival of the hulking canine. If he had to guess, the Jensaarai would have figured him for a bounty hunter of sorts. But still, the being had the same name as The Mantis did and he himself could be considered an odd specimen by some. Who was he to judge. Given the fact that the guardsmen obeyed the wolfman, The Mantis figured he was a rebel of sorts. So was he, he pondered for a moment. The Jensaarai had thrown their lot in with this ragtag band of upstarts and idealists. There was something about them.

 

Clambering with ease from the speeder, The Mantis dropped to the packed earth and made his way into the prefabricated command structure, down the hall to a spare service room set up almost like a cafeteria eating area. He offered a nod of thanks to the much larger wolfish rebel. Otherwise, he was content to remain in the silence of the cramped room, his eyes scanning the walls; diagrams, a few odd maps and starcharts, nothing too exciting really. The comment about the Jensaarai from the wolfman took The Mantis by surprise. Not many usually knew who or what they were.

 

When Lt. Andromina entered, The Mantis stood from the benched sear he had occupied, stepping forward to extend a hand to tightly and quickly grasp the pilot’s before releasing and stepping back.

 

As the ranking rebel spoke, The Mantis fell into step as they left the hall and walked down the hallway. He walked in silence allowing Mythos a chance to speak first, which he did as they entered the official briefing room.

 

With a hiss, the Defender removed the faceplate of his light Jensaarai armor helmet, the suit adapting to the pressure of the world about them. He tucked the faceplate beneath his armpit, his rugged Corellian features offset by his bright green eyes. With a low baritone, The Mantis spoke, after they entered the briefing room and Mythos had said his piece. A sight smile played across the Jensaarai’s face; surely the woman knew what she was asking. “I am Mantis.” he spoke by way of introduction. Any mention of the Jensaarai was left unsaid. His people’s anonymity was one of their greatest defenses, even as he wore his customized armor beneath his gray robe. That same robe he lifted to reveal a complete set of throwing knives held against his armored waist alongside his collapsible staff. “I am not a soldier or a Jedi. Espionage is my area of  . . . ability. Like him,” he inclined a thumb towards Mythos, “I can just,” he circled his hand in the air, opening his fist in a trail of fingers before closing back into a fist as if signing a universal idea of disappearing. 
 

Taking the chance to redirect the conversation, he opted to pepper the lieutenant with a few queries of his own. “An interesting location to plan an invasion of such a contested world.” Shooting a glance around as if for emphasis he continued, “I am hoping there are more than us and a few marines. No offense sir,” he shot an apologetic glance to Mythos as he spoke. “I’ve heard stories about what has been going on at Mon Cal. Dark stuff. What are you thinking? Do we have any rebels planetside already? Getting there should be easy enough. Mon Cal has become the new Nar Shaddaa. What kind of defenses do they have set up?”

 

The Mantis stepped up to a table bearing a holographic rotating display of the watery world in question. His eyes scanned the fluxing world map. Was this real time? Glimmers of ships in orbit blipped in and out of sight above the world. The Mantis was not by any means a one man army. He was a stealthy combatant. Protecting protectors, moving unnoticed amongst the shadows, aiding the Alliance, those were his tasks. By them, he was bettering the cause of his own people. The Sith Empire was too big a threat to be ignored. They were coming for them, the Alliance, the Jedi, anyone who might be a threat. Masters of camouflage and stealth, even the Jensaarai were threatened by the ever growing horde of evil.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Beth wrinkled her nose at the Large wolf like man when he spoke of unifying the galactic alliance. Like the Imperial Remnant needed the cancer that had been the GA military. But those decisions came from far up the chain of command, and now the Imperial Remnant had been renamed and reformed and she was now forced to deal with the ‘cream of the crop’ of the galactic alliance on the daily. Well at least they had slime good commanders such as Slaughter and d’Outremer. But she would have much preferred to keep wearing the black instead of this spasted orange. But her thoughts did not matter. There was a galaxy to save, then after they restored the Imperial Throne, they could deal with the consequences. Hopefully they had all seen the failings of Democracy as well as she had. 

 

“Glad we could have you Howlster. Hopefully you weren’t too put out by the horrifying defeat of the New Republic and Galactic Alliance. We need every grizzled veteran we can get for this fight.” She winked, then motioned for the both of them to follow her. She addressed the Jensaarai’s concerns next.

 

“We have the manpower for the event, though you will be the forward vanguard of the attack. The rest of the fleet is coming from Nar Shaddaa as we speak. Troop ships will be coming into the gravity well two hours after infiltrators. You Will be inserted by civilian means to scout the area and assess weaknesses. Starliner Ghesesset will be your in transport. We have a scouting vessel on the outlier of the system. If you run into trouble or wish to call it off…” She pointed to a series of Comm packs. “Those are your communication packages. It is certainly dangerous. Are you willing?” 

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Andromina

Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Lieutenant

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The Mantis nodded slowly as he took in their task and watched the others. Glancing at their ragtag group, the worn Corellian turned to lock eyes with the rebel pilot. A solemn nod was his designation of agreement. A world of fish folk would be hard enough to blend into. If the Sith found out they were coming, it would only get worse.

 

The Defender did briefly ponder how a band of space marines were going to smuggle their weapons planetside on a civilian cruise ship. He quickly let the thought slip away. It was not his concern. The two hour time gap however, was a bit of a concern. They would have to hit the ground running. Even then, chances of getting much accomplished if they hit any bumps were slim. “Two hours from touchdown to assault; what are you expecting in that time?” he pondered softly to the room.

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The combined fleet arrived over the rocky asteroid like planet of Kessel. Misericordia, in its dark paint scheme, barely registered against the dark background of the stars. The rest of the fleet stayed their distance. They were nearly ready to depart for Mon Calamari and the freedom of the galactic rim.

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Pretender to the Galactic Throne

Leader of the Rebel Alliance

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Emma stood beside the rest of the commanders and HC in the briefing room buried within the bowels of the Misericordia. When there was at last quiet, she looked around, catching each eye and photoreceptor in the crowded chamber before she walked up to the holomap that spread out across the room. Her eyelids flickered for a moment as she downloaded the tactical battle plan then spread her hands across the star map. 

 

The galaxy focused down to the outer rim, focusing even further into a small star system with large and developed shipyards. The Planet itself, which sat comfortably beside the shipyards, was a waterworld. Largely ocean, with a few scattered floating cities. It was a familiar system, one that had seen very recent conflict. 

 

Mon Calamari

 

“Unsurprisingly and as many of you have guessed, we are beginning an assault of liberation on the world of Mon Calamari. Outside of the strategic resources of the shipyards, High Command has decided that they can no longer tolerate the enslavement of so many innocents. As such we have two main objectives: seizing the Shipyards and Planetary Infrastructure.”  

 

Her pale red eyes focused on HC. 

 

“The Shipyards are in two sections. The Assembly Yards, which are under water and along the planetary equator. And the Testing and fitting yards which are in geostationary orbit above the yards themselves. Not quite the great yards of Kuat but still plenty of danger to planetary populations if you accidentally destroy either of these installations. Command sees that as an unacceptable outcome. HC you and our team will head planetside to assist in the capture of the yards. We are to be relieving ground assets that are prepositioned for this invasion. The rest of the teams will be engaging the yards and Golans.”

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“We simply cannot guarantee any good outcomes outside of two hours. Though this is isolated from the Sith Main fleet detachments, we need you to get to or get as close as you can to the ground based shipyards. Cause a little chaos as needed and then our marines land and relieve you.”

 

She let her gaze flitter up to the ceiling where far overhead the Rebel Fleet was emerging from hyperspace.

 

“Or you can insert alongside the rest of the army as needed. I don’t want you taking extemporaneous risks with your lives. The decision is yours.”

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Andromina

Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Lieutenant

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HC-42 nodded as Emma Three Nine gave the instructions. Seemed like a simple enough plan, but he calculated the defenses of Mon Calamari would be tight given how recently it was seized. He hoped he and his squad would have enough support for the capturing to succeed. After all, the Sith weren't going to give up their precious new shipyards without a fight. 

 

But now wasn't the time to worry, as his squadmates needed to keep their confidence. The group of droids and cyborgs had been trained to fight in the simulation, and now they were going to use that training in the field, whether they liked it or not. HC-42 also couldn't help but be excited to pay the Sith back for what they had done to his own world. He could see the same determination in the eyes of Gwal, Sasha, and Leep, as they too had their world subjugated by the Sith. HC-42 turned to Emma Three Nine and said, "Understood. Any further instructions, ma'am?" 

 

He then waited for a reply. The Battle Droid was about to do what he was programmed to do- fight. This Rebellion was the means to liberate Charros IV, no matter how many gruesome battles it took. And once he was with his creators, he could bring them what they desired from their technology- salvation.

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The Mantis nodded. Sabotage, deceit, distraction, set the Sith in disarray before the main attack makes landfall allowing for a divided enemy in disarray; these were all skillsets of The Jensaarai. These were skill skills that The Mantis’ people had used in some way or another to survive for a long time.

 

“If all goes according to plan, we will see you on the other side. If it doesn’t,” he paused considering his next words for a moment, “then there is no need to relieve us. We will die fighting or see ourselves out.”

 

Moving towards the door, The Mantis looked towards Col. Von Howlster as he turned, fitting his hemet back over his head and obscuring his features. “Quick and quiet. Grab your best men. The rest should come with attack forces. We’ll be quick. If all goes well, we rendezvous. If not,” he shrugged, “we don’t. I’ll see you for our cruise.”

 

The Mantis moved like a dark feline amongst the city streets. He flit from shadow to shadow with ease. Before he made the transport that would take them to the cruise ship, the Defender had changed from his signature look into one of the many disguises each Jensaarai initiate was taught to utilize, conceal, and change from and into in a moment’s time. 
 

Striding carefully from the shadows clad in robes head to toe of vermillion and carrying his aros (staff) now with a censer bellowing  heavily odored plumes of qatameric incense all about. In silence, as befitting the religion of The Brotherhood of the Beatific Countenance, The Mantis made his way to the transport. From there, the pleasure cruiser. Even amongst the odd crowd that would cruise the spacelanes amongst a galactic war, and moreso one that had a scheduled docking at the lawlessly resurrected world of Mon Cal, a Brother would not be an odd sight, pilgraming from world to world by whatever means available.

 

Mythos and his crew would have to find their own way aboard the cruiser; one that would leave them undetected by their fellow passengers. Anonymity was their greatest defense.

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Leena walked through the middy streets of the planetoid with a sense of determination. To the untrained eye it was hard to perceive as the young woman, starkly out of place in her white galactically recognized field medic outfit emblazoned with a red medicinal emblem, seemed to stride nonchalantly down the way, genuinely taking in the sights of the ramshackled capital city as if they were some of the most interesting things to behold. Truth be told, Leena had never been to Kessel or anywhere quite like it. It had a sense of lawlessness and shantytown that was common amongst the military, medical, or Jedi groups she frequented. Even in the front lines there was some sense of order. Here it almost felt like chaos reigned. There was surely a pecking order, but what it was, how it functioned, was lost on the young Jedi healer.

 

A contrasting sight for sure, but not one entirely unexpected now that the Rebellion had laid a claim of sorts to the world. Every day it seemed more and more off worlders who would have never given this accursed womb of iniquity a glance seemed to arrive and then depart equally as mysteriously. The troops and sailors were good for business in the local taverns and so, generally, the status quo had become live and let live. The Rebellion did its part, the locals did their thing, and when they crossed they tried to remain mostly cordial. Mostly . . .  Every once in a while a rebel got a little too drunk or a grizzled inhabitant got cross at the influx of  judgemental outsiders encroaching and blows were exchanged. Once or twice shots rang out, but that was quickly put to rest by both sides. There was an understanding and neither side wanted to see what would happen if the unwritten accords were broken.

 

So even when a pair of burly reptilian miners sauntered up and planted themselves in Leena’s path, there was little worry. Leena shot them a glance, unsure of how this would play out; but before she had to do anything, the brutes had been wrestled away by their comrades not wanting any trouble for messing with a clearly denoted peacekeeper and rebel affiliate. Leena had made sure her lightsaber was tucked well within her multi pocketed jacket amongst a smattering of healing gear. There was no sense adding Jedi to the list. Some people still got uppity at the idea of a Jedi walking about.

 

It took a couple hours of good walking, but Leena made it to the rebel command  base. It was snot as grandiose as some, but it was definitely a far cry better than some of the so-called field hospitals she had worked in previously. Showing her credentials allowed Leena access to the base and the healer slipped into the gathering cacophony of plans already in motion. 
 

The talkative girl remained quiet as she stood just inside the door of the briefing room. She was not sure what was all going on. Really, she was not even sure how this so called rebellion functioned. It was not exactly a planetwide or even designated planetary government; maybe a government-in-exile if she had to put a description to it. Did they even have field hospitals? She always thought of rebels as more hit-and-run guerrilla style combatants. There was a lot she did not know and this was a scene as familiar to her as any military briefing, but full of so many added unknowns. What Leena did know was that she had been drawn here, to Kessel. It was almost as if at every choice the way had been made clear for her all the way from Felucia. The Living Force had practically instructed that she come here. 
 

Gingerly leaning her back against the wall, Leena’s bulbous eyes flitted about taking in the room, pilots, soldiers, commanders, and an eclectic bunch of rabble each garbed so differently from one another that they clearly came from far different cultures and ideologies. Still, there was something that seemed to buzz in the room, an electric current that flitted from every mind bouncing from the force to subconsciousnesses about the room. It was hope. Duty, honor, integrity, pride, even fear, all of it twisted together to create a strong cord of hope that could not be easily severed. Leena let the hope was over her. After Felucia, it was a welcome thing. As it moved and mingled, Leena continued to watch, absentmindedly humming to herself a tune she had picked up from the countless troopers she had treated at the devastation of Coruscant and in each note of that soldier’s jingle she radiated the hope expoentially back out into the room, nurturing it and helping it grow. Here, with these dedicated beings, they could do it. The same way that she and Sandy had warded off the darkness beneath the sea and the same way the dark beast of Felucia had been contained; it was in these small victories that together, they would bring the darkness to it’s knees and purge the galaxy of the cancer that now ran freely through it’s veins. A smile played at the edges

of the Mon Cal’s lips as her song drifted into the commotion of the room.

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Where in the seven hells was that spasted song coming from? Where had she heard it before? One of those old repetitive GA recruit ads they spammed all over the ‘net as their spasted republic fell to another internecine war? She couldn’t decide, but let her eyes drift up until she found the source of the song. A Mon Cal, thin and willowy, in the garb of the newest generation of Jedi Knights. Beth grinned and stood, adjusting her orange flightsuit as she walked towards the singing Mon Cal. There was a life filling the room from her, and though Beth suspected it was some kind of Jedi mind meld, she was not offended. 

 

“So you bring us hope and life.”

 

Beth extended a hand in the traditional human greeting. 

 

“Beth Andromina. I am always glad to see a Jedi Knight.” And she was, though her accent betrayed her as one of the Imperial holdouts in the rebel alliance, she did like the look of the girl. So she lowered her voice conspiratorially. “Been a bit tired only seeing Imperial Knights. They kinda creep me out.” 

 

Her datapad vibrated in the triple ring of an action order. And she grimaced. 

Andromina

Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Lieutenant

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Leena’s song  faded to a halt as the orange-suited lady approached. She smiled at the greeting and clasped the woman’s hand in her suctioned-cupped own. “Could you really tell I am a Jedi?” she asked warmly, her voice full of curious optimism. “I figured battlefield medic was better than usual healing robes. Between you and me, this city is a bit on the sketchy side of life. I worried I was going to get jumped on the walk over here. Oh! I almost forgot!”  she caught herself babbling off on a tangent and redirected, “My name is Leena. I am a Jedi Healer and I have come to help.”  She looked around hesitantly for a moment before her eyes returned to the much more comfortable pilot that carried some sense of authority in her every movement. “With, ahhhhh, whatever you need help with. I’ve done front line medicine so I don’t think I am entirely a liability. Just tell me where to go.” 

 

The Healer paused at the loud vibration and look from the woman in front of her. It was probably time for her to be quiet. Should she salute? It felt like something one would have done in one of those recruit holos after they finished talking. She was not a soldier though; so as her hand half heartedly leapt up, the Jedi quickly lowered it back to her side before completing the gesture, turning her curious eyes to the buzzing datapad. 
 

“Can I help?” she whispered excitedly and sheepishly.

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Beth spared a glance to her datapad. Trualis was getting hit by a small Sith strike force. What was there? What could possibly be worth the time and hyperdrive fuel for the Sith Order to even try to go there? There were artisans yes, but she could not think of anything other than a few ballerinas that she had ever even seen from Trualis. But they were calling for help and they were listed under Tripwire. So the Rebel Alliance would send a small team to slow them down, maybe evacuate some innocents. Maybe frag some Sith Lords. She sighed and looked back to the Mon Cal.

 

“Well if you were not opposed to a fight, it looks like one of the worlds in the outer rim is screaming on all channels that the Sith are attacking them. We were about to head on a counterstrike mission against their asset storage on Geonosis but this takes priority.” 

 

She pulled up her flight manifesto and then pointed to the flight commanders that were starting to run into the room. “Leena, join us aboard the carrier Orchomenos. There are ten Lambda shuttles aboard, if it comes to it, you may accompany some of the commandos down to surface and maybe bag a few Sith. I don’t envy you that at all though.” 

 

She turned to the rest of the fighter command teams. They were the same that had come to Kessel not six months before. With a few additions.

 

“Tau and Epsilon.” She addressed the black fatigued Javelin fighterbomber team leads. “Your two squadrons will engage medium vessels and support craft. If they have anything bigger than a bulk cruiser we are not engaging it. Slash and run if so.” 

 

She turned her eyes to the light blue uniforms of the Tapani Pilots, their angular helmets making them as E-Wing fighter jockeys. And the gold lining on some of their uniforms indicated that at least one or two of them were minor royalty from the Princedoms. “Aérien and Fosh you will be supporting Tau and Epsilon. Keep anything off of them you can.”

 

She looked at the white stirling uniforms of the dour Hapans. Whose My’til fighters would join her own in antifighter role. “Sukhoi and Tula, you will be with us.”

 

She looked back at Leena. “And may the force be with us.” 

Andromina

Rebel Alliance Fleet Command - Lieutenant

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Leena did not say a word. She just blinked slowly several times. The Jedi had stared into the face of destruction, had looked death in the eye and fought it back, had been swarmed by hopelessness and come out the victor. She had never faced down a Sith in combat. Bagging one was a term used by soldiers to talk about capturing or killing a high level target as a trophy. Swallowing, her mouth suddenly dry, Leena nodded. She was no foot soldier. She was a healer. She was a Jedi; sworn to protect the weak and innocent, to stand in the line of the onslaught of darkness. She nodded to herself.  The force had carried her to this point. It would carry her through. She was a servant of the force. She would not bag a Sith though. No, she was not a soldier. She would cure a cancer. What she could not cure, she would cut away.

 

Leena nodded to Beth, she needed some air. That was a whole lot of responsibility to dish on the young Knight’s plate. The light aura she had been projecting faltering and skipping as she tried to come to terms with what she had been asked to do.

 

Stumbling outside, Leena leaned against a pillar gasping in the cool thin air. Her mind whirled as she fought to bring her focus back to bear. She was afraid. What if she couldn’t do it? To kill another went against everything she stood for. 
 

Leena fumbled the silvery cylindrical hilt from her pocket and regarded it. The Jedi’ weapon. It could be used for defense and for offense. Leena never liked the idea, but even Jedi were supposed to be able to kill if it was required.

 

Igniting the teal saber, Leena was bathed in it’s eerie light. She stared at the glowing pillar of plasma. She let the force flow. It warped and twisted with each crash of emotion as she wrestled with what she was being asked to do.

 

It took her some time, but Leena finally righted herself. With a hiss she deactivated her saber and hung it on her belt. The girl’s eyes were steeled. She knew what was being asked of her. Cancer was an interloper, just like the Sith. If allowed unchecked it would kill wherever it took hold. It was up to the strongest, the healthiest among them to save and purge those that could not be saved.

 

Fishing a comm out of her pocket, Leena keyed it up sending out a encrypted broadcast. It seemed like a false hope, but then again; rebellions were built on hope. The force was something Leena still did not understand. She was but a drop in the great sea that made up the force.

 

It was that great unknowing that moved in a peaceful wave now as Leena’s comm chimed a response. The girl blinked in surprise. She had honestly expected nothing. The comfort of the message that followed was a gift from the force, one that encouraged the Jedi Knight assuring her she was on the right path.

 

 A single Squib needle ship was docked planetside. Their reasons were their own. The fact remained that Leena and these overgrown squirrel people had a unique bond. Wherever the Sith went, scrap was sure to be found afterwards. The idea of dismantling Sith technology and selling it on the open market was almost salivating.

 

Within an hour, Leena was aboard the hodge-podge scrapper vessel H.M.S. Smalliest. It was cramped and Leena would have wondered if the craft was even capable of spaceflight had she not been familiar with the skills of the Squibs.

 

Sending a hail to Beth and company informing her that Leena and the corvette were with them. The craft then fell into position and jumped to hyperspace with the others.

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Kirlocca sat in the main hold of the J-1 shuttle as it maneuvered itself to the main gathering point of the Rebel fleet. His eyes were closed, half in a meditation state, but mainly centering himself. He was also listening in very slightly to the holocron he was using for both Alliera and Johan, as it was covering some of the basics of lightsaber combat. "Form I, also called Shii-Cho, requires little explanation, as every Jedi youngling learns the basics of attack, parry, body target zones, and practice drills called velocities.” The voice of Cin Drallig was explaining to both. Almost as soon as the image finished explaining and showing a bit with his own lightsaber, Kirlocca finally stood up. 

 

<< That’s enough of the word lesson. >>

 

Without much hesitation, the Wookiee shut down the holocron and used the Force to call it back to him. As he put it away, the pilot called back that they were granted permission to land on the Misericordia. The Jedi Master barely acknowledged the statement as he withdrew two training lightsabers. 

 

<< While I know that you have one Johan, and Alliera you are prepared with other tools of combat, I want for you both to carry one. Practice with it as you can, get familiar with the weight and movement more. But beyond that, be prepared to use it to defend yourselves. >>

 

Kirlocca gave a slight smile to both, knowing that the chances to learn on the fly would present themselves heavily during this mission. And in so doing, both would gain quick knowledge of some of the trails that Jedi go through. He also knew that just being present himself on the battlefield would draw more attention away from others, to which he knew would provide more openings for the rebels… and for the one presence that he could now feel very strongly. Raven...

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