Title: “Come Get Me, Ugly!” Author: Raissa Baiard Timeframe: 30 ABY Canonicity: AU Genre: Action, drama Characters: Wren Ordo (OC), Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono, Humoo Flhaskhalhoosa (OC), Summary: Young Mandalorian Wren Ordo must protect her friends when they encounter a terentatek while hiding in a cave on Korriban. Notes: written for the Monster Challenge. My prompt was: gigantic. Spoiler That thing you don’t care for seeing pictures of, but much larger. These monsters tend to be very much like more ordinary creatures -- though often ones that most people would prefer to avoid. But there’s no mistaking them for their cousins, because these monsters are gigantic. On the other hand, these can also be more usually cuddly creatures that have only become hazardous because of their extraordinary size. Contains mild spoilers for “Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, Jedi Action Hero (or Whatever)”, but it’s not necessary to read that story first. The quick summary is that Jedi Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus and Noemi Bridger are investigating the machinations of a mysterious mining company named Chimaera on the former Sith world Korriban, along with their cousin Mandalorian Wren Ordo, Squib scavenger Humoo Flhaskhalhooosa, and Kazuda Xiono, the son of a wealthy senator, who stowed away on the mission. As this story opens, Ronen and Noemi have been apprehended by Chimaera; the others hide out in a cavern while devising a plan to save the Jedi. Unfortunately, they’re not alone…. Thanks to @Findswoman for beta reading ——————— The terentatek was gigantic. Nothing should have been that big, ugly and just plain evil. When Ronen had been enumerating Korriban’s lethal fauna, he’d described terentateks as the Sithspawn offspring of a rancor and a Kowakian lizard ape by way of a carnivorous reek, capable of devouring a Human in two bites. At the time, in the safe, familiar setting of the weapons range, Wren had blown it off as more of her cousin’s drama. But now that she was facing one of the beasts in an extremely dark and creepy cave on an ancient Sith tomb world, she had to admit that he’d actually been pretty accurate. The terentatek had the rancor’s scimitar-like talons and drooling maw, the reek’s massive tusks and sullen red color, and the lizard ape’s hulking posture and beady, malevolent eyes. The only thing Wren would have added was that it was covered in lumpy, jagged spikes like the demented Sith who’d created it had embedded shards of broken stone under its leathery skin just for extra fun. The terentatek towered more than three meters tall, looming over Kazuda Xiono and Humookanookoopwaha Flhlhaskhalhoosa as if they were dejarik pieces and it was about to clear the table. The little Squib’s fuzzy ear tufts had wilted down to his chin and his oversized boots flopped as he ran. His mouth was working frantically but whatever he was saying was lost in the terentatek’s deafening roar. Wren guessed it was some sort of prayer to the Squibbish gods for mercy or reclamation in the Great Scrap Heap to come or whatever it was Squibbish gods did. Behind him, Kaz fumbled his Blurrg holdout blaster out of its hiding place in his right boot while trying to run, stumbling and staggering in the process. He took aim at the monster, even though his hands were shaking like bas’neral in the wind. Wren’s heart surged with fierce pride to see him ready to protect their small, Squibbish compatriot, but the Blurrg was going to hurt the terentatek about as much as a stinging gnat, and while she was...very fond of Kaz and gave him enormous credit for effort and persistence in their marksmanship lessons, he was still only twenty percent accurate with it. On a good day. Under perfect circumstances. Which left it up to her to save her vode. Wren thumbed her twin WESTARs up to maximum power and felt the adrenaline rush that always came with drawing them. With the single-minded battle-focus that she’d been practicing since she was a small girl, she abandoned her hiding place behind a stalactite and charged toward the terentatek. Oya, Mando’ade! For the glory of Clan Ordo and the Mand’alor! She snapped off a round of shots at the beast’s lumpy posterior. She needed to get its attention to draw it away from Kaz and Humoo, and shooting it square in the shebs had the desired effect. The terentatek bellowed in outrage at this undignified assault on its hindquarters. It stopped in its tracks and turned, swinging its head back and forth, snuffling like some nightmarish bogan-hound. And with a last, enormous snort, it fixed its evil, piggy, little eyes on Wren and bounded towards her with a lumbering—but surprisingly fast—gait. The closer it came, the more details she could see of the jagged scars that pitted its leathery hide, the ropey strands of drool dripping from its jaws, the teeth as long and sharp as her kal and smell the rotten-meat stench of death that reeked from it. It was all Wren could do to make herself stand in the face of its charge, but she was an Ordo—a daughter of Mandalore, a daughter of Mand’alor the Preserver—and she would stand fast for the honor of her Clan. For her vode. “That’s right!” Wren shouted at the onrushing terentatek. “K’olar, jari’eyc!” Come get me, ugly! She leveled her blasters and gave the beast everything her WESTARs had. And the terentatek kept coming. Osi’kyr…. Tendrils of sick dread squeezed Wren’s heart and wound their way down through her gut and up to her brain. How? How was this ugly shabuir still coming?! Her WESTARs were on full power, high enough to fry a Gamorrean into bacon, but they weren’t doing anything to the terentatek except annoying it. Just how? She vaguely remembered Ro saying something about Sithspawn living hundreds of years without eating, which was clearly impossible, but maybe not that impossible after all… And if it was possible, then maybe it was possible for them to take enough blaster fire to roast a gundark without even chipping a claw. Oh, osi’kyr… There was no way she was going to stop the terentatek. The best she could hope for was to buy enough time for Kaz and Humoo to escape. She took a step backwards and another and another. Strategic retreat, she assured herself, not cowardice. Keep the monster away from your vode. Just long enough… “Go!” she called back to them. “Take my pack and go get Ro and Noemi! Stick to our plan!” “No! Wren, no!” Wren spared a glance from the corner of her eye—she would not think “last look”. Kaz’s face was ashen-pale, white as a Krownest winter, but his mouth was set in a determined line. He clutched his Blurrg in one hand and her rucksack in the other. Humoo had a death grip on his right knee and was trying to pull him back to keep from doing something heroic even as Kaz tried to shake him loose. “Humoo, get him out of here!” she screamed. Wren bit her lip. Wasn’t a true warrior supposed to feel a wave of peace and acceptance when faced with their inevitable death? Because she didn’t. She didn’t want to die. She especially didn’t want to die like this. She didn’t want to be eaten by a monster instead of dying in honorable combat; she hoped the stupid, ugly thing choked on her beskar’gam. She didn’t want to die with her mission unfulfilled; she’d come to Korriban to protect Ro, but she hadn’t been there when he’d needed her. She hoped Kaz and Humoo would manage to get him and Noemi out of Chimaera’s clutches. And she hoped that somehow Kaz could get word to Mom and Dad and tell them she’d died bravely to save her vode. She wondered if Kaz would mourn her, just a little. She’d never have the chance to tell him… “Wren!” Kaz’s shout broke into her thoughts. “Catch!” Something spherical soared through the air. Wren dove for it as if she was playing get’shuk and caught… A frag grenade, just like the one Kaz had blown the face off a Sith lord’s statue with. Maybe Sithspawn could eat hot plasma bolts all day long and not get indigestion, but this fist-sized explosive had enough firepower to reduce a half-ton boulder to rubble. Surely it could slow the terentatek down. Wren twisted the top half of the sphere drift-wise; a high-pitched whine and rapid ticking told her she had thirty seconds to get rid of it. “Ordo!” Wren cried, lobbing the grenade as hard as she could at the beast’s slavering maw. She ran towards the nearest stalactite and dove to the cave floor knocking the breath from her lungs. The world exploded with a thunderclap that reverberated throughout the cavern. Wren lay dazed on the stone floor. She was alive—at least she thought so—and she couldn’t hear the terentatek bellowing any more—at least she thought so. Her ears were ringing from the explosion. She opened her eyes cautiously. A nauseating aroma pervaded the air, like charred meat overlaid with a sharp, acrid tang that burned Wren’s eyes and the back of her throat. Chunks of stuff that were probably better left unexamined lay splattered on the floor around her. And there was Kaz. He was kneeling in front of her, rifling through the emergency medkit which Ro, being Ro, had insisted they keep with them. A small pile of self-stick bandages, a tube of BactaGenic and bottles of antibiotics and analgesics lay by Kaz’s right knee. He was frowning over a tube of extra-strength wound sealant while Humoo peered over his shoulder. A wave of elation rushed over Wren. They were safe! Her vode were safe, and she was alive. She’d done it! She’d defeated the terentatek! A messy, narrow defeat, but any victory was preferable to becoming a Sithspawn’s snack. She sat up, ignoring the aches that came from throwing herself onto the not-particularly-even stone floor while running at top speed. “Wren! You’re all right!” Kaz's face lit up to see her conscious—or maybe just alive. He stopped sorting the medical supplies and reached out to help her up (which Wren found she didn’t mind, even though she didn’t actually need the help). “You!” Kaz exclaimed, his smile widening into a big, goofy grin. “And that thing! You were so… I mean, that was the most—” Buoyed by the euphoria of victory and the bliss of Kaz’s giddy, goofy grin, Wren threw her arms around him and embraced him fiercely. If she’d ever had any doubts he was more than an awkward, klutzy tag-along on their mission, this would have settled them. Because she might have saved him and Humoo, but Kaz had saved her by tossing her that frag grenade. He might not have the hang of using a blaster yet, but his bravery, tenacity and quick thinking were the equal of any Mando’s. Kaz was blushing slightly when she finally let go. “I, ummm…you...” he stammered, “You… you have...bits of...um, monster in your hair.” He leaned forward and brushed something—a bit of monster—from above her right eye...and his eyes met hers and widened, and... “Wrendolyn of Clannish Ordo! You are the most magnifluous of all Mandolinarian warriors existent!” A pair of furry blue arms wrapped around her neck as Humoo hugged her ecstatically, perhaps believing that her embracing Kaz had been the beginning of some sort of team hug-fest (it was not). He bounced on tiptoes as he hugged Wren, and for a fuzzy little rodent he had the grip of a Wookiee. “You saved us from that evilacious tenteratecky thinger! I salutify you, and even better, I’ll raise you an extra case of spicy warra nuts on those top-notched Westarry blasters!” “Humoo, if you really want to salutify me, get off!” Wren pried him loose. The little Squib was her vod and she loved him and all that, but he was so karking annoying at times. “And I don’t know how many times I have to tell you my blasters aren’t for sale!” “Of course! Of course!” Humoo bobbed his head obsequiously as he scampered back. “But if you change your mind, I could see my way clear to giving you three cases…” Wren sighed; it would have been interesting to see what might have come of that tiny moment with Kaz, but between the possibility that there were more terentateks or tuk’ata or some other lethal Sithspawn lurking in the cave’s passages and the fact that Chimaera had Ro and Noemi and were doing who knew what to them, this was probably not the best moment for... whatever it might have been. There was no rest for the weary, not when members of one’s clan were in trouble. She stood and picked up her rucksack. “All right, vode...enough fun. Let’s go rescue some Jedi.” —- Notes: Vod(e): the Mando’a word for “comrade”; the same word is used for “sibling” Oya, Mando’ade!— Let’s hunt, Mandos! (Literally, children of Mandalore) Osi’kyr: impolite, “excrement” Shabuir: extremely rude Mando’a insult. BactaGenic: @Findswoman’s fanon product.