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Saga - PT Death Watch: The Journal of Praetor Ordo [DDC 2020] - Updated Weekly

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Volund Starfire, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Title: DEATH WATCH: THE JOURNAL OF PRAETOR ORDO

    Author: Volund Starfire

    Timeframe: Between 20 BBY and 19 BBY.

    Genre: 2020 Diary Challenge, Mandalorian, Death Watch, Journal

    Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Dave Filoni for his awesome rendition of the Death Watch and Mandalorian society (even if it was a little HATED BY EVERYONE WHO WEARS A T-VISOR in the beginning), Uncle George who gave us a great galaxy to play around in, Disney for keeping the sandbox open, and The Mandalorian for lighting a fire under my shebs to take this story on again!

    Author’s Note: This is my take on the events in and around the Death Watch story arcs as they are depicted in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This is my second try at this journal and I’m GOING to finish it. Additionally, some of the language in this story uses the Mando’a dialect. If you don’t know Mando’a, then you can either pick up on what it means based on context or there are a couple websites that offer translations.
     
  2. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 056: Kidnapping

    It all started about lunch time. Dal’buir was inside the house fixing the meal and I was helping jag’buir with the mine. He was inside the actual shaft because, as mother said, I was still too young to go down. So, I was outside waiting to throw the ore from the droid-pulled carts into the extractor to separate the iron from other ores and melt it into ingots. Beskar mining was still the one way we could make enough money to keep the lights on and food in the pantry.

    One of the droids, a repurposed astromech we called Red, was pulling a load out when the periscope hatch popped open and it started smoking. I went over to take a look, waving off the acrid smoke, and saw that the droid was completely nonfunctional.

    Buir,” I yelled into the open mine. I heard my father’s footsteps a few moments before he walked out into the light. He lifted his visor and let out a sigh as he looked at the poor droid.

    “You damn son of a kriffing di’kut… Drek!” he yelled before glancing over his shoulder toward the house. Dal’buir always chided him on his language around me. If she had overheard his cursing, he probably wouldn’t even get any haashuun for lunch. She said it was bad to curse in front of me in case I learn the bad habit. Little did she know, I used far worse language (Basic, Huttese, and Mando’a) with my friends in town.

    All was silent from inside our house, so he began to mutter more curses in a couple languages I didn’t understand as he pulled a tool off of his belt and removed the droid’s head.

    Ad, go into the shed and get the spare droid motivator. It should be in the back on the middle shelf.”

    Elek, jag’buir,” I said before turning and running to the shed. I looked on the shelf he said it was supposed to be on, but didn’t find it. I knew I’d probably be punished if I came out of the shed without locating the part, especially with the dush mood he was in, so I kept looking. I finally found it tucked inside the fourth toolbox I upended.

    I was about to unbury myself from the mess I had made when I froze. I heard the unmistakable sound of a speeder approaching. Besides the low whine of a landspeeder, I heard the higher pitch of a couple speeder bikes. A moment later, I detected the low rumble of a sen’tra. I’d only ever seen jetpacks in town, but the sound was unmistakable. I launched myself over the pile of tools and parts to peek out the door at the new arrivals.

    There were seven of them. They were all dressed the same. They had blue kute with a dark blue blast vest over it. Their beskar’gam was dark gray along with their kom’rk and lovik’gam. Their buy’ce was also dark gray with light blue around the black visor. All of them wore jetpacks, even the ones on the speeder bikes. Each also had a pair of pistols holstered in thigh armor and three carried carbines, though one had the weapon clipped on his belt.

    “Why are you here,” father said. There was a hint of fear in his voice, but he didn’t show it in his posture. He was already standing and wiping his hands on a rag. His posture was relaxed, but his hand was also resting on the pistol holstered at his belt. “I gave tribute last season and the next tribute isn’t for another three weeks.”

    “We aren’t here for tribute, old man,” one of them said. “We’re here for recruiting.” The rest laughed at that comment, but then went dead silent. One looked up at the house and his finger dropped onto the trigger of his carbine. Father noticed that and closed his grip around the pistol.

    “I already told your boss, I fought for his father for twelve years and was rewarded with exile to this rock.” Jag’buir lifted himself up to his full height, his cybernetic leg creaking with the strain. “I’m done with fighting. All it ever gave me was dents to my armor and this leg.”

    “I never said it was you that we were here to recruit, old man.” The leader pulled a pistol and shot at the same time as my father. The blast deflected off of the leader’s beskar armor, but my father wasn’t armored. A smoking crater was all that remained of my father’s chest. He fell to his knees and looked toward me for only a moment before he slumped forward.

    Three of the strangers ran up to the house where I heard dal’buir screaming. There was more blaster fire and then silence. After a few seconds, I smelled smoke and heard things being thrown inside the house. The three walked back to the group, one shaking his head.

    The leader pointed directly at me and one of the armored men started walking toward the shed. I wouldn’t be able to hide if he opened the door. Father taught me the kind of sensors those helmets held. I was surprised they hadn’t found me as it was.

    “Maybe he’s in the mine,” one of the others said. The leader nodded and the group of three ran for the cave entrance. The one walking toward me stopped and turned back to his commander only a meter from the door.

    I knew it was my time to strike. Only with surprise could I hope to overcome the sensor package in his buy’ce. I burst out of the door and threw myself down at the back of his knees. They buckled the moment I hit and I reached up and dislodged the pistol from its holster. I shot once under the back of his helmet and hit his gauntlet with the grip.

    It must have been dumb luck because the rocket shot off his pack and blew up the deactivated droid that was standing near the commander. At the same time, the dead warrior’s jetpack thrusters activated. I rolled off of him, catching his arm and redirecting him in a spin at the mouth of the mine. I only hoped that his pack would explode when he hit, but saw it had beskar plates to protect it.

    I sprinted the short distance to one of the speeder bikes and leaped on. It rocked slightly under my weight as I pushed what I hoped was the throttle. There was no explosion from the cave, as I hoped there would have been, just a sickening thump as he hit the wall. By the time it registered, though, I was halfway to the tree line. If I could make it there, I could get to the primary speeder lane for town.

    I saw a blue ring of energy flash past me and immediately turned away from it. A second ring caught my right arm and I felt every nerve in my arm, shoulder, and the right side of my chest explode in pain before going numb. If I weren’t leaning forward, I would probably have been okay. Unfortunately, my arm went limp and I rolled forward off of the speeder. I hit the grass-covered ground and rolled.

    I didn’t think that I hit my head, but my ears were ringing and my vision was foggy. I was on my back on the ground and saw the five men walking around me. One of them had a tourniquet on his left arm, his coverall slashed under it where blood mixed with the circuitry beneath the ablative bodysuit.

    “You missed,” one said looking at another who was holding a carbine.

    “He’s on the ground, isn’t he?”

    “Yeah,” the commander said, pulling his pistol with his one good arm. I knew it was the commander because he still had the carbon scoring on his chest armor where jag’buir shot him. “Let’s make sure there is no more trouble for the ride back to camp.”

    I was looking down the barrel of the blaster when things slowed down. I saw his finger tighten on the trigger, and then a blue ring came out of the barrel. The ring hit my face and everything went white. A moment later, it went black.

    I woke up in the cramped hold of a land speeder with six other kids. I couldn’t see much in the glow of the dim red light within, but definitely felt movement. Three of them were unconscious, their breathing the only indicator. The other three were holding their knees to their chests, and one was crying.

    I don’t know where I’m going or if they’ll take my journal, but in case they do… Whoever you are that finds this, please help.

    I live on Concordia, outside Refugee Mining Center Tad’eta. My mother and father were killed. My name is Praetor, House Ordo, of Clan Ordo, I am twelve years old, this is my journal, and I’ve been kidnapped by Death Watch.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
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  3. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 57: Initiation

    I woke up and felt numb all over. The numbness was replaced with the stabbing feeling of pins and needles as if I had slept wrong on my entire body. I don’t know how long we had traveled. There were no windows and the only illumination in the cramped compartment came from the dim light indicating that the door was locked. I knew we were moving from the occasional change in the center of gravity during turns and the gentle pull of acceleration.

    Inside the transport were six other kids like me. One, I’d guess he was about nine or ten, was just sitting in the corner crying the entire time. The others were scared, like me, but also looking around at each other. After a while, the one kid’s tears dried but the sobs continued.

    “My name’s Praetor, House Ordo,” I said quietly to a boy next to me.

    “Drain,” the boy replied. “House Bratt.”

    “How did you get here?”

    “The seven of them kidnapped me from town. Someone yelled, but one of the guys with the carbine shot him. They threw me in here and stunned me. You?”

    “My home. They killed my buire. I think I killed one of them when I ran, maybe two. I don’t know.”

    “Impossible,” one of the other boys said. “Drik, House Gemungh.”

    “It’s not impossible,” one of the other boys said. “I’m Bum, House Shugg from roleta’shecu. My buir kyrayc one of them. Took his head off with her kad.”

    “I surprised one and was able to shoot him under the back of his buy’ce before I took a speeder bike and tried to run. I only saw five before they stunned me.”

    The boy in the corner looked up and said, “I’m Kay, house…”

    His sentence was cut by the whine of the speeder cutting out as the vehicle came to a stop. The red light turned green for only a moment before the hatch was opened and blinding light filled the compartment. The breeze was chilly and carried the smell of pine, dirt, and sweet sap. As my vision adapted to the brightness, I could see the low scrub trees from the forests outside the mining zone.

    “Everyone out,” one of the faceless warriors barked, waving his carbine to get us to move faster. I crawled out and looked back to make sure the other six got out, too. The little one was pulled out by the back of his shirt and thrown face down on the grass to the laughter of two of the other men.

    We were on the outskirts of an old strip mine. There was grass on the rim and shrubs clinging to the walls. We were led down a series of ramps to the bottom. I saw that the edges of the walls were rounded and smooth, speaking to its age. It might even have been before the civil war.

    In the bottom of the mine, there were about a hundred kids and about twenty of those strange armored warriors. The kids looked about my age with a very few older and younger. Though, I noticed that there were no girls. The warriors were the same, all jagyc.

    When we got to the bottom of the pit with the other kids, one warrior used his rocket pack to jet to the second tier of the mine. His armor was beaten and dented, unlike the almost pristine look of the others. I knew it took a lot to damage beskar once it was refined. He had a huge scar across his buy’ce. He lifted it off of his head and revealed a plate bolted over his eye in line with the scar. His hair was white and he had a sneer that seemed to never fall off of his lips.

    “My name is Ruus’alor Devin Farr,” he said. His voice was loud and echoed around the walls, drawing even the whimpering to a silence. “I am your Rally Master.”

    He looked around at us and spat. “You will follow orders without question or you will be shot. If you disobey, you will be shot. If you fail, you will be shot. If we are displeased with your performance, you will be shot.”

    He looked around at the frightened faces. I wasn’t scared, though. He made eye contact with me and I narrowed my gaze. I wanted to kill him, to kill them all for my buire. I saw him smile for just a moment before continuing his gaze around.

    “Are any of you injured?”

    There was a slight buzz of conversation before a boy not too far in front of me raised his hand. Those of us around him cleared a small circle, but I found myself uncomfortably close to him for the look Devin Farr was giving him.

    “I… I think my wrist is broken,” he said. He held out his hand. There was a purpling bruise around his forearm and his hand was bluer than it should have been. He cradled it back against his chest.

    Devin nodded to a warrior who walked through the crowd toward the boy. When someone wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way, they were backhanded or kicked. The warrior roughly grabbed the boy’s injured arm, causing a cry of pain as it was turned and inspected. The boy tried to pull away, but even that elicited another shout from him.

    The warrior let the boy’s hand go and started walking back to the edge, the kids in front of him clearing a wider hole for his passage. The boy had tears streaming down his face, but he didn’t make a sound. He just held his arm to himself protectively. When the warrior was back in his original position, he looked up at Farr and nodded.

    The older warrior smiled like a wild nexu, drew one of the blasters from his holster, and fired a single shot that hit the boy in the chest. The force of the blast flung him back into me. I didn’t move, only let his lifeless body fall to the ground. The smell of charred meat made me want to throw up, but I swallowed the bile back.

    “You are now Ge’verd,” Devin Farr announced, donning his helmet. “For those of you who do not speak the glorious language of our forefathers, and you will soon enough, that means you are almost warriors.”

    He launched himself into the air and hovered over us, quite a feat without the control from the helmet. I shied away from the heat blast from the thrusters. “Get them their uniforms, feed them, and show them where to sleep. Welcome to Death Watch!”
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
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  4. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 62: Daily Grind

    The slow ones were the first to die, followed soon after by the weak ones.

    It’s almost sickening how I am no longer even fazed by the deaths of others. We began a few weeks ago with one hundred and fifty kids, and are now down to just seventy-five. Most of them were killed by Rally Master Farr or his instructors; the rest either took their own lives or died in training.

    The training was brutal. We woke up and had too little time to deal with personal hygiene before being run out of the camp and onto the obstacle course. After the obstacle course, we ate a quarter portion while being given classes. After the classes, we were back on the obstacle course until our quarter portion lunch before technical training. After that, we ate a quarter portion for dinner and then were allowed to go back to our barracks for what little personal time we had. Most of us used the time to clean our clothing and gear, clean up in the fresher, and pass out until the next day.

    The camp was at the base of a strip-mining pit. It consisted of a series of modular arch shelters set up for various purposes. The largest was the command bunker that the warriors and Rally Master slept in. There were a number of barracks for us that held twenty kids each; we were reassigned as the numbers shrank and the shelters disassembled. There were a couple of other bunkers set up for an armory, kitchen, and some that none of us had any idea what they contained.

    There were two starships on either side of the base; Kom'rk-class fighter/transports we learned in one of our classes. There were also a row of speeder bikes, a couple of land speeders, and an Armored Assault Tank that was purchased from the Trade Federation. Strewn about the grounds were supply crates and moisture vaporators. Some of the crates were full, others were empty for us to use while training.

    The training was brutal, and I cannot stress that enough. Most of it involved an obstacle course set up around the lowest tier of the mine. We had to climb the steep wall to the tier and then run around the course until it was time to stop. Three-quarters of the kilometer-long course was just flat ground to run across; anyone who slowed to a walk was shot. The remaining quarter was the obstacle course.

    It involved climbing, swinging, crawling, and jumping across various hazards. A couple of kids were injured and shot, a warning to the rest of us to be more careful, according to the Rally Master. Those of us that survived were becoming stronger and quicker, though. As I said before, the slow were the first to be killed, followed by the weak.

    We all learned the benefits of our new uniform, as well. We were each wearing the same blue combat suit that the warriors had. In addition to the suit, we also had lovik’gam, or knee armor, attached to padded magneto-plates in the kute, which saved me more than a few times from injuring myself during falls. Each of us also wore positive-traction boots and grip-gloves. Those protected and aided us during the daily exercise, but also kept us warm during the down-time.

    The classes were a respite that we all looked forward to. Most of them dealt with teaching Mando’a to those who were not raised with the language. We also had classes related to the history of the True Mandalorians and the schism of the Supercommando heresy. I knew it was propaganda, but I paid attention during the classes to avoid being beaten or killed. My buir taught me all about the Death Watch movement and the battles that led to the exile.

    The technical classes familiarized us with the integrated heads up systems of the buy’ce. We also learned about the jetpacks, weapons, and vehicles that were primarily used by Death Watch. Every day we looked at a different item. We were shown basic maintenance and repair, but never how to actually use them. Oh, and we didn’t look at any explosives.

    At the end of the training day, we would be allowed to go back to our open-doored barracks. A couple of kids tried to escape during the darkness of skotah’ca and munit’ca, the short night where Mandalore eclipsed the sun and long night of the moon’s rotation, but they were killed before they got more than a few steps outside.

    The barracks were sparsely furnished. We each had a cot with blanket, insulafoam mattress and pillow, a wall locker for the small amount of gear and hygiene items we were allowed, and an additional blanket for the colder nights. The barracks held twenty of us and we all shared a large refresher in the middle of the bunker.

    Did I mention it was brutal? Because it was. Hellish, really. The entire thing. The first week, most of us cried ourselves to sleep. After that, we either stopped or walked outside the doors. I’m not going to die, though. I’m going to live long enough to see the entire lot of them taken down and killed, hopefully by my own hands.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
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  5. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 67: Target Practice

    It felt good to be doing something other than running the obstacle course as we had been doing for the past two months. It was not any less brutal, but at least was something different.

    The first morning of the training, after our classes, we were taken to the armory and given a set of thigh plates like the warriors wore. Holstered on each plate was a Westar-35 blaster pistol. Their sleek silver and gray bodies were heavy, but didn’t feel that bad when the thigh armor was magneto-sealed to my kute.

    One of the kids pulled his pistol out and immediately shot himself in the head, which caused some of the warriors to laugh around us. Another pulled his out and shot one of the warriors in the chest, which caused even more laughing as the blaster bolt struck the armored plate uselessly. It didn’t even deflect off. It was so low power that the energy dissipated on the beskar. The warrior’s full-powered blaster killed the foolish kid on the spot, though.

    The weapons we were issued were little more than target blasters. The boy that shot himself came to a few minutes later with major burns from the blast, but little else. The blasters were identical to those carried by the warriors in all other respects, though. They were now our responsibility and we were told that we would be punished severely if we lost them or failed to properly clean them.

    We spent a couple of weeks on how to aim and fire the pistols, since they didn’t have sights. Mostly, it was firing by feel and reflex, but we were also told it would be much easier when we received our helmets. Not that it stopped the instructors from beating those who were bad marksmen.

    We spent another week on dual-firing the pistols. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded, but was definitely more fun. I was one of the few that had a hit rate higher than 80%. For the last part of that training, we were all put in a group and told the last one standing would win. I wasn’t the last one standing, but I was in the top five. Not that the burn to my right shoulder didn’t hurt. One kid was hit in the head and lost an eye; he was still unconscious when the Rally Master finished him off.

    We practiced on the Westar-35 Blaster Carbines, as well. They were also under-powered, but were enough to kill if the target was too close. They had a greater range than the pistols and were more accurate. It was easier to sight along the length than the pistols. I think I was a little more accurate than others. I guessed this only because I wasn’t beaten as badly the few times I missed.

    Our other classes didn’t let up in the late afternoons. Our training on weapon maintenance got into greater depth. We were shown how to recharge the blasters while we slept, how to break them down to be transported without detection, and even how to repair damage to their internal components. Sure, they had plates of beskar on the body, but that didn’t stop a lucky shot from getting through.

    The last month a dozen of us were broken off from the rest of the group and began familiarization with a sniper blaster rifle. It had a much longer range than the carbines, precision optics and a bipod, but wasn’t Westar design. One of the trainers said it was obtained from Separatist supply lines.

    At the end of the marksmanship training, the Rally Master had us all form up into a group. He had me and two others separated from the rest of the mass, and had another three taken aside away from us.

    “You three are free,” he spat toward the other group. “Start running and make your way out of the pit.”

    The trio of stunned recruits looked at him for only a moment before he fired a shot at their feet, causing them to take off running for the ramps up toward the rim of the strip mine.

    “You three are the best shots here,” Rally Master Farr said. “They are the three worst shots. Prove your skill is justified by killing one.” He added, “or die,” as an afterthought.

    The first kid took aim and fired almost immediately. It was too quick. The shot missed by two meters over all three of their heads. The kid was dead before he even looked away from the scope, a smoking hole where his spine used to be.

    The second kid was more careful with his shot and caught one of the three in the small of his back. The sniper rifles were full power because the boy slumped forward while his legs ran two more steps before he hit the ground.

    I got down into a prone firing position, like my father showed me, and let the rifle rest on its bipod as I pulled it into my shoulder. Jag’buir showed me how to shoot the small game in the forest near the house; this wasn’t really any different. I just sat there, the target reticule centered on the back of the rear runner’s neck, and waited.

    I heard a warrior draw his pistol behind me, but ignored it. Likewise, I ignored the low grumbles of voice in an internal comm from Farr to the warrior that caused the pistol to go back into its holster. I disregarded the green light in the scope telling me it was linked to Farr’s heads up display. I just waited until the boys were in the right position, just like a pair of hartalopes.

    The only way I would be able to defeat Death Watch was by being the best. The only way that could happen was to give in to the training, the blood thirst, and the brutality. I lightly brushed my finger over the trigger until the blaster bolt flew from the barrel.

    I had waited for just the right moment, when both boys were turning to climb the last ramp to the edge of the pit. The bolt tore through the neck of one, taking out enough to put him down before slamming into the head of the other. Buir always told me I had a special skill with lining up shots.

    “Clean hit,” Rally Master Farr said before jetting off the landing and back into the main camp.

    My revelry was short-lived, though. He hadn’t even landed before the sniper rifle was ripped out of my hands and I was kicked for lying down. The sixty-three of us were run around the obstacle course a couple of times before technical classes to learn how to perform a more advanced maintenance on the weapons.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  6. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 77: My First Revenge

    I can’t use my right hand very well, but it’s not too bad. Thankfully, I didn’t break it. I’m pretty sure that has more to do with the new armor on the backs of the gloves than anything else. It wasn’t much, but it definitely helped with the training we had this past month.

    Yes, we received a new piece of armor for our kits. Small tombstone shaped plates that mag-connect to the backs of our grip-gloves. They’re made out of the same light metal as the rest of the armor plates and painted the same dark gray as the thigh armor.

    Instead of more marksmanship, this month the ge’verd who survived were led to the raised gravel pit. The Rally Master was already waiting for us with his usual cadre of warriors in their identical armors. This group looked slightly more muscular, though.

    “Today, you will learn unarmed combat,” he yelled out to the fifty-three of us who were gathered on the perimeter. “Those of you who cannot will be killed.”

    We were broken into groups of ten with one extra kid in my group and two others. For the next week, we were taught how to throw proper punches, kicks, elbows, knees, and headbutts. At first, we did this against pads with the instructors demonstrating proper techniques on those who didn’t do it right. Every one of us was used as a practice dummy at least once. By the end of the week, I had the basics down fairly well. I remember training in some of it with dal’buir, but she didn’t beat me if I got something wrong.

    We next moved to wooden targets that were generally humanoid in shape. We were taught combos and how to properly aim our attacks, again with the instructors showing us the proper way if we didn’t get it right on our first try.

    The training progressed into having to break the boards. The first kid who tried broke his elbow and was killed on the spot by the Rally Master. The rest of us were much more careful. It still hurt, though. One kid dislocated his fingers, but we pulled them back into place after training was over. I ended up hurting my wrist, but it wasn’t broken, only sprained.

    We went on to match-ups against other kids. I lost a couple of fights, but won a few more. Some of the kids were getting brutal in their attacks, but I made sure to stay in control. We’ve all talked about how easy it is to give into the training and be as bloodthirsty as the warriors, but without the training we’d just get dead.

    After the match-ups, we were given instruction in how to use the butts of our pistols and the carbines as weapons, and how to include them into the combination of strikes. But the end of the training was the most surprising.

    One morning, after our run, we came down to the pit to find the instructors all had long sticks with electro-pads up most of their length and wider grips. We immediately formed up on our respective instructors before the Rally Master landed in the center of the pit.

    “One thing that all members of Death Watch must learn is how to fight jetii. They are the worst enemy of our people. Each of the instructors are carrying dar’kad'au. One touch by the training lightsabers will render you unconscious.”

    A trainer activated one of the strange weapons and the plates on the blade glowed to life with blue crackling electricity. He reached out and lightly tapped it to a recruit’s arm, causing the kid to let out a scream and fall to the ground, convulsing and wetting himself.

    “Don’t get hit.” The Rally Master jetted off and we were left with our instruction.

    Jag’buir had often told me about the Jedi. They were wizards who fought with laser swords. He said they were invincible, but that only the Mandalorians knew how to really kill them. I was learning just that for the entire week.

    At the end of the month, we were set into one-on-one matches against instructors in front of the Rally Master. However, I was more interested in watching the instructors than my fellow ge’verd. Mine always used his jetpack to jump and come down with a flying kick before striking with his stunstick. I thought I could use that to my advantage. I was the eighteenth to fight.

    My instructor’s first attack was a sweeping slash, but I didn’t back away from it. Instead, I stepped into it and threw a punch into the instructor’s elbow. I heard a grunt and the roar of his jetpack activating. At the last second, I dropped to the ground and hooked my foot around his ankle.

    It didn’t do much more than throw off his balance, but that was enough to make him go higher than he usually did in the fights. He came down with that same kick, his fake jetii’kad raised for a downward slash.

    I rolled forward and threw myself backwards. His kick missed and the force of my weight pushed him off balance. I turned and pulled at the maglock of his jetpack, sending it flying into the sharp gravel. He also wasn’t able to recover as quickly with its weight replaced by mine.

    I was able to bantha kick hard into the back of one of his knees before wrapping my legs around his waist. I grabbed the edges of his vest and jerked his neck armor against his throat.

    He dropped his weapon and started scratching ineffectively against the metal as it pushed into the neck seal. The Rally Master tilted his head a little and I stared directly into the scarred T-visor, picturing his one eye and the plate under it. I saw a slight nod and knew what I had just been given permission to do. I was glad to do it.

    Letting go of his vest, I quickly wrapped my right arm around his helmet and grabbed his left ear plate. My other hand did the same behind his helmet and found purchase on his right. Before he could get a proper grip on my elbows, it was too late.

    With a roar of strength and emotion, I pulled as hard as I could with both hands. I felt the vibration of popping from somewhere inside the helmet and heard the wet snaps below it. The warrior went limp.

    I stood over the man’s body, his head looking back over his right shoulder. The Rally Master nodded as I walked back to the edge of the pit with the rest of the kids. Everyone was silent, recruits and instructors alike. I wasn’t beaten for killing the instructor. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t beaten again for the rest of the month.

    Counting the one I killed when I was kidnapped, that makes two down.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  7. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 85: Things that go Boom

    We were issued our belts and waist wraps today. The magneto plates of the belts are perfect for carrying some of the gear we typically use and it provides a little more armor around our midsections. The side plates also have an attachment to hang our carbines from if we need our hands for other work. We were not lacking in that other work this month.

    If I had to describe explosives work with one word, it would be tricky. If you cross a wire the wrong way, enter a code the wrong way, or drop a detonator the wrong way, you’ll just end. Sure, other people will see the explosion, feel the shockwave, and have to clean their armor and clothes, but you’ll just cease to be. Needless to say, we weren’t beaten as hard or as much during this portion of our training.

    In the beginning, we used inert blocks of clay with the detonators. We learned how to take down support braces, how to rig anti-personnel explosives, and how to wire-sabotage bombs so they couldn’t be disarmed. But later, we did the same thing using actual detonite blocks. I’m just glad that none of the other recruits were killed during this portion of training.

    Grenades were a little more involved, though. We began practicing with dud grenades, but the instructors made sure that one in five of them were live so that we didn’t get complacent. If we didn’t make it past a certain distance, we were within the blast radius. We lost eight ge’verde in the first week before we began throwing harder. After that, we didn’t lose anyone else.

    We’ve been having more freedom to move about the camp, but we were still only allowed to go as high as the obstacle course, and it was death to go into the command building without permission. Unfortunately, that was also one of our regular assignments.

    Each of us had to do two hours a night on the radio in case there was a comm from another Death Watch base. I never received one, but that didn’t mean I was just left alone. I’d get hit by warriors walking by, I’d clean up purposefully made messes, and I’d have to perform other degrading tasks. But, it’s also where I met her.

    Faytil was from the eastern mining zone, across the main city from where I came from. She was kidnapped like me, but her parents were alive and forced to work in the mines. She was too until about a week ago when she was moved here. She was restricted to the command tent, only able to go outside when the Rally Master let her. Otherwise, she watched the radio and cleaned when we recruits were training.

    We were told there were no girls allowed in Death Watch, but she said she wasn’t training. She was sent as a ‘training aid’ or something. Not even she knew what that meant. It didn’t matter to me, though. I liked spending time on my shift with her and found myself trading shifts with others to spend time more time with her. She didn’t seem to mind, either.

    The Rally Master noticed my shift trades and actually complimented me on my determination to be part of Death Watch. He didn’t know I was really doing it to see Faytil, but my beatings ended up being less severe after that. I just saw that as a bonus.
     
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  8. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 88: The Freedom of Flight

    The training is getting a little more fun for me. I used to like piloting the family speeder when buir went to town, but I never imagined anything like what happened this month. The physical activities feel like they’re getting easier, but we’re still doing the same exact things we had before. The only difference is that now they added pop-up targets to the obstacle course and actual battle droids for us to shoot and attack in hand-to-hand while doing laps.

    We were given kom’rk, boot, shin, and cod armors to wear with our uniforms. The gauntlets were a lighter gray, like our knees, and the rest were a darker gray. We had a couple of classes on how to use them in both an offensive and defensive manner. I was able to get in a surprise shot on the instructor showing me. I nailed him right behind the cod. It was fun watching the puke squirt out from under his helmet. I didn’t even get beaten for doing it, either.

    The rest of the training was better. We were learning how to pilot the vehicles around the compound. I did okay on the landspeeder, but was only in the middle of the group of forty-seven of us. I did much better on the speeder bike, though. One of the instructors told me that I was a natural, and would only get better when I got my helmet. One of the other guys, who did best on the landspeeder, actually got to pilot the AAT through a target course. I was a little jealous.

    However, my favorite training was the simulator for the big transports. The Kom'rk-class attack transport was the primary starship of Death Watch. Besides classes on maintenance (which I didn’t particularly like), we got lots of time in the simulator. It was one of the buildings that used to be closed to us. Inside was a full cockpit mockup, including an inertial repulsor to give the feeling of movement.

    Out of all the training, I enjoyed that one the best. I liked it so much that I began using the simulator even in the evening off hours, even giving up some sleep to be able to fly a mission or two. I got really good at it. So good, in fact, that I was selected as one of the recruits to fly an actual ship!

    I walked up the boarding ramp and made my way to the cockpit. Before I got there, though, I heard a voice from the troop bay call me over. I found the instructor seated in one of the jumpseats, a series of mission drop chairs that could be lowered from the cargo compartment for dropping troops at a moment’s notice.

    “What do you think you’re doing, ge’verd?” He asked in an almost bored tone. He was absently twirling a pistol around his finger.

    “Going to the cockpit to begin pre-flight,” I replied. He didn’t even look up at me.

    “Nope,” he said and leaned his head back against the rest. “You forgot the first rule of piloting your own ship.”

    I thought I was dead, but the warrior just stood, spun his pistol one more time and slid it easily into his holster. He walked past me and motioned to follow. For the next ten minutes we went over a full external check of the ship. He seemed annoyed that I couldn’t jetpack up onto the wing, but otherwise spoke to me like a normal person. After that, we began doing the full internal check. Thank the Ka’ra that Faytil found a datapad with the manual for the ship and helped me study it when I pulled the comm shifts.

    When we got into the cockpit and it was ready for flight, I took a seat in the copilot chair. That’s the first time the instructor, who told me to call him Dush, actually hit me. It was just a light cuff to the back of the head with his palm. I looked back and he pointed at the pilot’s chair. I wasn’t going to argue.

    Five more minutes and we were skids up. It was the first time I had actually flown higher than a hundred meters. More than that, it was the first time I had actually been into space.

    Dush let me do my own thing, flipping the odd control when he needed to as copilot. Otherwise, he spent most of the time with his chair leaned back and his boots kicked up on the main console. He was the most laid-back instructor I had ever met.

    We went through some programmed courses, did some target practice in Kaiga Gorge, and he had me do some basic hyperspace calculations. It was all amazing and more information than I thought I could even remember.

    After landing, Dush and I performed post-flight checks and did some basic maintenance on the wing-spin mechanism. He said it felt a little sticky during the firing drills. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I didn’t question him.

    That night, I spent the entire two hours of my radio shift telling Faytil all about what happened. I was so excited that I didn’t even realize I was using my hands to show her the maneuvers I had done in the sharp turns of the canyon. She noticed an instructor walking in and got scared that I’d get beaten for moving around so much.

    She grabbed my hand and pulled it under the table beside her as he walked by. I recognized Dush’s voice as he chuckled and walked into the barracks. After he left, she didn’t let go of my hand. It was strange because the moment she grabbed it, I felt like the temperature shot up about five degrees. My mouth also went dry and I couldn’t do anything more than just look in her eyes. Neither of us could even speak. Then, as if it hadn’t happened, she practically sprinted back to her room. I saw that her face was red under her blonde hair.
     
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  9. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 90: Our Second Skin

    I haven’t been making as many posts in my journal as I should have, mostly because all of my spare time is spent ‘studying’ in the command bunker while manning the comm station. In reality, I’ve been spending as much time with Faytil as I could. Dush noticed and told me not to get too attached to her, but said nothing more about it. I didn’t really know what he meant, but I wasn’t about to ask either.

    We were issued our blast vests this month, complete with the armor plates attached to them. There were lighter than I thought they would be, but no less strong than the armor I remembered from home. The vest was a synthetic ablative material that spread any blast energy that the plate didn’t absorb across the entire upper torso. It hurt like haran, but I didn’t die from a point-blank blast to the chest diamond (the instructors showed each of the thirty-five of us that remained).

    The Rally Master told us that this would also be our last month of training. I didn’t even realize we had been here for eleven months. It felt like only eight weeks had passed since the day I was kidnapped. Heck, it felt like only two weeks since I first met Faytil. But I needed to remain focused to survive this last month.

    One of the first things we did, after getting used to our new beskar’gam, was jetpack training. Rather than helmets, we were given a visor that linked with our armor systems in the same way a helmet would. We learned how to use the jetpack as a jump assist and how to actually fly with it. It ran off of an oxygen mix that constantly recycled, so the fuel was technically unlimited in an atmosphere, but we only had about twenty minutes of maximum thrust before it needed to recharge.

    Beyond that, we learned how to use the anti-personnel rocket that fit in the primary socket. We were only issued those for training, and then only one live rocket for the final test. It was all controlled through the visor display and touch-pad on the gauntlets.

    The use of the visor made targeting much easier, but also provided some distractions through the additional readouts. Though it was just a simple wrap, it simulated the actual head’s up display of our buy’ce. It also had some of the enhancements and comm systems for squad drills.

    The final test for the jetpack was almost as much fun as flying the Kom’rk, which I had been doing more of using the visor. We had an aerial obstacle course. It involved flying through checkpoint rings, shooting various targets with our carbines and blasters, and then a pinpoint target against an actual Separatist B-1 Battle Droid.

    I took off and shot higher than any of the other recruits. This put me a little behind them for the first ring, but I also didn’t miss it from the number of bodies trying to fly through it at once. Just as I passed it, I pulled my carbine from my belt.

    The first target was a floating drone that my visor told me I had to shoot before the next ring. It was easy and I hit it with four out of six shots. The second ring was more difficult to navigate because another kid went through it with me. The thrust from his jetpack hurt, but didn’t burn through the thigh of my coverall.

    I banked around a corner of the small canyon and saw the next two targets. They were stationary on the wall. I hit them both, but also scorched the wall with a couple of shots. The next turn had me climbing rapidly to make the third ring.

    There was a long distance to travel for the fourth ring, but no targets. My visor told me to holster my carbine. I attached it to my belt and accelerated to maximum while aiming for the fifth ring. The other kid was in front of me by a few meters, but I didn’t care. I dove through the ring and my visor lit with a targeting notification and a grenade symbol.

    I pulled the single grenade from my belt, activated it, and dropped it. It landed inside the three-meter-wide square target and popped with a small amount of smoke. The kid in front of me missed his target, though.

    The next three rings were maneuvering with one under a bridge, one up a cliff face, and one through a dry riverbed. That’s when the pistol notification flashed before my eyes. I drew both and went through the ninth ring.

    This part of the canyon was still deforested. It was a barren expanse of land about a kilometer long, but now there were droids moving all around it at various speeds. I knew exactly what I needed to do.

    I dropped my altitude and began to fire. I ignored the accuracy percentage in my visor and just kept shooting at anything that moved. I pulled up at the end of the run and accelerated back to full, but noticed that I had been passed by two more recruits.

    As I flew through the tenth ring, I saw a target in the distance. It had a rocket symbol next to it in the visor. I stared at it and hit the lock stud on my gauntlet. It took longer tha I wanted, because I needed to maneuver around an idiot who wouldn’t get out of my way. A quick tug on his boot made him slow to avoid tumbling. The tone finally sounded as a red triangle formed around the target, but I waited to launch.

    I saw the contrails of other missiles tracking to the target, but my range indicator said it was still too far. I waited until the numbers turned green in my visor, counted two more seconds, and launched. I pulled up, the shockwave of only two missiles striking near the target giving me extra incentive to climb. I rolled over and aimed for the final waypoint: the camp.

    When you fly, you get an instinctive feel for your speed and fuel. My visor told me I had seventeen kilometers in a straight line back to camp. I jacked the thrust on my jetpack up by five percent over maximum and stuck my hands straight out in front of me. I used my fingers as maneuvering vanes, rather than redirecting the jetpack thrust from straight ahead. It was something dal’buir taught me.

    I ended up tying with another kid, named Lodre, from the tent next to mine. I didn’t mind, though. We were both first place. When everyone returned from the test, Devin Farr said that I hit the most targets, but had the third best accuracy. It was because I was firing too blindly on the flats.

    That evening, I spent time with Faytil at comm duty. We spoke quietly and I learned that she was seventeen years old. She didn’t think it was strange that I was only twelve. Well, I’ll be thirteen next month. Mandalorian society doesn’t place much weight on age when one is capable. We held hands more when the instructors weren’t looking.

    It was difficult to get comfortable sitting with the jetpack on, but the vest did a good job of distributing the weight evenly across my shoulders. Not that it mattered as we had to wear it or face severe punishment for being out of uniform. About ten minutes before the end of my shift, when Faytil normally went to bed, she got really quiet and nervous.

    I didn’t know why, and started to ask if I had said anything that upset her. Before the first word could leave my lips, she leaned forward and kissed me. Her hands wrapped around the back of my head and I felt her fingers grab my hair. I did the same, quite enjoying the feeling of her lips on mine.

    Then it was over and she practically flew back to her room as if she were the one wearing the jetpack. My replacement relieved me and I left back for my tent. As I left the command bunker, I heard someone making a “tsk’ing” noise behind me.

    It was Dush, but he had his helmet off smoking a death stick. “I told you not to get involved,” he said absently as he dropped the smoldering remains and ground it out in the dirt. “It’ll just make it that much harder.”

    I didn’t know what he meant, but he turned and walked inside before I could ask.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2020
  10. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 93: Final Test

    This morning felt different for all of us. Things were slowing down in training and there weren’t even any beatings in the past month. Those of us who weren’t the most skilled at one task or another were given extra training; otherwise we were allowed to train by ourselves. For me, that meant marksmanship with the sniper rifle and piloting, the two things I absolutely loved to do.

    Faytil and I were getting closer, too. It took about a week for her to speak to me after the kiss. I thought I had done something wrong, but it was her embarrassment. Otherwise, we were spending more and more time together. I had it scheduled to take the first- and second-hour watch for radio every night. Devin Farr thought it was because I had become a “true believer.” Far from it (pun intended).

    Dush didn’t warn me off of Faytil when he saw me anymore. He said that I was old enough to make my own decisions. He was righter than he knew. I was a man now; thirteen years old. Most of us were. Though, we really would be when we passed the final test.

    At the beginning of the week, we started preparing for the verd’goten. That’s the Mandalorian rite of passage. Mostly, it was wargames inside the mine. We weren’t facing the instructors at first, but were facing off against each other. It was team on team for the first couple days and then every Mando for himself after. When an instructor was thrown into the mix, we either got completely trounced or were able to stun him into unconsciousness with concerted firing because we still had the reduced-power weapons. My team wasn’t the first to take down an instructor, but we were still able to get one before the end of the week.

    And then there was this morning. Thinking about it still makes me sick, but I need to tell someone even if that someone is my journal (or whoever finds it if I die). I should have listened to Dush.

    We woke at the normal time and put on our gear for the daily training. However, Rally Master Devin Farr was waiting at the formation area. The strange thing was that he was flanked by instructors behind boxes of pistols. We were issued a new set of pistols that were fully charged and capable of killing.

    “This is your verd’goten,” the Rally Master said through the amplification system of his helmet. “Today, you will either become Death Watch or you will be killed.”

    My heart leaped at the thought of finally getting out of this hell hole of a strip mine, literally.

    “As we speak, a number of slaves have been set loose in the mines. It’s up to you to find them. If you kill one, you will be awarded the rank of verd’ika and become a warrior in Death Watch. If you are lucky enough to kill twice, you will be given the rank of verd. If you don’t get any kills, then you will be facing your fellow poor warriors with the last one standing becoming a verd’ika.”

    “If I were you, I wouldn’t let any of them escape. Each that does will receive their freedom and you will have one less chance to avoid dying at the hands of your fellow failures.”

    He rocketed off and we all ran for the entrance to the mine. We were all together at first, but slowly broke up to explore the various tunnels and rooms. It only took three minutes to find myself alone. I drew my pistols and activated the light below the barrel on each. One was illuminating the ground in front of me and the other tracked my eyes.

    It was quiet as I searched through the mine for my target. I figured that I’d find and kill one before leaving. I knew there would be some who would try to find and kill two for the added prestige, but I didn’t care. The first chance I got, I was out.

    I heard the echoes of blasts and screams from through the mines, but I wasn’t finding anything. Well, until I heard a scrape to my left. I turned and saw a deactivated cart. It was empty and there was nobody hiding behind it, but something had to make that noise. That’s when I noticed the small tube jag’buir told me was used to test the depth of a vein of ore.

    I had to crawl through it, but it led to one of the main passages. A flicker of movement and I had both blasters trained on a smaller side-passage. I readied myself and jumped around the corner, fingers tightening on the triggers.

    I froze a moment before the bolt would have loosed. In front of me, fear filling her eyes, was Faytil. She let a sharp rock, already slick with blood, fall from her raised hands. The crack was almost as loud as the sound of my own heartbeat in my ears. I knew that I couldn’t finish pulling my finger back the millimeter necessary to end her life and escape.

    “Prae…”

    The flash was blinding and her body was flung into me by the force of the blast. It hit me hard, enough for me to lose grip on one of my blasters.

    “…tor.” And she was dead.

    Standing over her was one of my fellow trainees, Lodre. I wanted nothing more than to bash the self-satisfied sneer off of his face with the butt of my pistol.

    “You shouldn’t have hesitated,” he said matter of factly.

    I didn’t hesitate. I lifted my left blaster and pulled the trigger. The yellow bolt of energy sped past his ear and struck the man behind him. The mining pick clattered out of the emaciated man’s grip as he fell against the wall and collapsed.

    “Looks like we’ll both be verd’ika, vod.”

    “No, we won’t.” I was completely numb as I pulled the trigger again, turning his head into a smoking stump. And then again, and again, and again, until my blaster was completely empty of its charge.

    I slipped one of his power packs into my empty blaster before returning to Faytil. I pressed my lips lightly against her forehead and crossed her hands over her sternum. I put the empty power pack face-to-face with the other power pack from the ge’verd under her hands and pulled the deadlock bar.

    I was halfway to the entrance of the mine when the power core detonated. It was a fitting funeral for a warrior. The blast would have vaporized her body and the explosion would bring down the entire mining tube so her final resting place would never be found.

    Outside, I was confronted by Rally Master Devin Farr. He congratulated me on my killing of the second slave and told me that I was awarded the rank of Verd’ika. He then asked me what happened with the rest of the firefight as the slave had fallen on the holo lead. I told him that I had a blaster jam and that the other recruit tried to kill me before I shot him. I falsely blamed him for the explosion.

    He accepted my lie and congratulated me on disposing of a traitor. He gave me the last part of my armor and told me to pack my belongings. The helmet was lighter than it looked, like the rest of the beskar armor. I handed my visor over to one of the other warriors and donned my helmet, making me indistinguishable from the rest of the murderers. Out of the one hundred and fifty of us that began a year prior, only thirty-three became warriors.

    I later found out that, because of my ‘dedication’ to working the radio, I was being sent directly to the main Death Watch base on this very moon. This made the last of my feelings drain, as I was being rewarded for spending so much time, and falling so deeply in love, with Faytil.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2020
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  11. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Praetor really has all the luck, doesn't he? :p This is so vividly written, and it really immerses you in the desperate circumstances of the narrator. He's a resilient one, but still, one wonders how much of him will make it out of the Death Watch training by the end. I have little doubt that he'll manage exactly what he intends on one level.

    I mean, yeah. Kid's tough and he'll manage if he puts his mind to it, I think. But what after? The loss of Faytil is clearly ripping his heart out, and it doesn't seem like there's anything in his world now to fill that void. (Can't say as I really "shipped" that relationship -- the age gap might not be weird to them, but it sure is to me! But for her to die that way is incredibly tragic, and sure to mess him up for a long, long time. :( ).
     
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  12. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    In Mandalorian society, age differences aren't really a thing. Well, they are, but not like that. It's very much like the ancient Spartan society where you were considered and adult at age 14. In Legends, most Mandalorians marry shortly after turning 16 years old.
     
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  13. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 98: My New Home

    I arrived at the main Death Watch base by starship. It was on the other side of the moon from the training camp, and on the eastern edge of the equatorial forested zone. It was nowhere near home, The Town (there wasn’t really a name for it), or anything else I had known since birth. It also wasn’t too far from Concord City, the capital of the Moon and seat of Governor Vizsla. I thought that I may have been able to escape and reach the city, maybe seek asylum from the Governor while he mobilized the guard to wipe Death Watch out.

    That glimmer of hope was the only thing that kept me from completely falling to despair over what happened. I saw her face the moment before she was shot whenever I closed my eyes. I heard her voice saying my name whenever it was quiet. I was one of eight of the newest warriors on the ship, and was definitely the quietest.

    Ni su'cuyi, gar kyr'adyc, ni partayli, gar darasuum. Faytil, Berdor Ordo, Sakyl Ordo, and all the children murdered by the instructors. Let me focus on describing the tour I was given rather than letting my mind dwell on the kyrayc.”

    The central point of the camp was a set of three barracks structures. They were identical to the ones at the training camp on the outside, except they were larger, but the inside was much different. For one thing they all had internal walls that rose about two meters to give some semblance of privacy for each warrior.

    In addition to the separation walls, the rooms didn’t use bunk beds. Mine had a single bunk, a locker, a chair, and a pull-down desk. My bunk was located next to the refresher, but there was no smell coming from it like the one in the training barracks. I dropped my few personal supplies on my bed before the main tour began.

    The command structure had a lounge in the central corridor with a communications room to one side and a briefing room and quarters for the commander and officers to the other. The middle of the lounge had a holoprojector on a mobile base. The communications room had a single manned station and various sensor display screens on mobile posts. The comm station was an actual chair and console with computers. It was definitely more intricate than the military-grade comlink on a faux wood table at the training camp.

    To the eastern edge of the pit mine crater this camp was located in was a maintenance shed with various bits and pieces of speeders and other gear spread around it after having been stripped for spare parts. What was surprising was the mechanic. Even though he was in the same uniform as everyone else, he somehow ground dirt into his knee plates and stained what I thought was a material that couldn’t be stained. I didn’t know it was even possible to grind dirt into beskar.

    To the north was an armory with all of the gear you’d expect to find here in Death Watch. There were shelves for pistols, carbines, sniper rifles, macrobinoculars, comlinks, jetpacks, a locked area with missiles and grenades, and all forms of replacements for the armor. The man running the stores was as laid back as Dush. He was firing a training pistol at a printed picture on the wall. It turned out to be Dutchess Satine Kryze from Mandalore, but was modified to show her without clothing. She didn’t look all that bad for her age.

    To the western side were a simulator and the motorpool. The simulator was identical to the one at the training camp. The motorpool, however, was indoors and filled with only speeder bikes. I saw a couple of charging ports on the outer wall for landspeeders and one larger one that must have been for one of those old Trade Federation tanks.

    Finally, the south was an open area that my guide said was for training and as an emergency landing area. There was a group in a circle practicing hand-to-hand with another couple shooting at targets attached to the wall of the mine.

    Things got really interesting when we went into the actual mine, though. Not only was the mine active, but it was making beskar’gam. There were mining droids throughout the tunnels gathering ore. The ore was processed in the central room of the mine and sent right into a fabricator. It was an older fabber, too, able to completely melt and form the beskar ore. My father would have appreciated more than me, if he were still around.

    When we returned to the surface, there was another transport on the field. It had a different color scheme from the others. I couldn’t see very clearly, but there was some kind of trident symbol over the cockpit. That’s when my guide told me that the boss had returned and it was time for me to meet him.

    Being the primary comm operator meant I would have a close working relationship with the man in charge. It didn’t really matter to me. The first time I was assigned any kind of a patrol, I would be off to Concord City before anyone even realized I was gone.

    My heart dropped and the scant feelings that I had begun to cultivate at the thought of the entire pit engulfed in fire fled the moment I entered the commander’s office. Sitting behind the desk was the familiar face of the governor that I learned about from mother’s classes. He wasn’t smiling, though. He was looking over a datapad report with a bit of a sneer. I am glad that I was wearing a helmet as it saved me from explaining my scowl.

    Pre Vizsla was a little intimidating. His armor was colored differently and he wore a cape over his shoulder. There was also something over his shoulder that I couldn’t identify. It looked like the hilt of a vibroblade with the rest of the blade sheathed in a port on his back armor. Otherwise, he was in the same armor as every other warrior, right down to the twin pistols.

    The conversation didn’t last very long and was entirely one-sided. His official title among Death Watch was Aliit'alor, translated to Clan Leader. I was expected to do my job, learn the comm system, and keep it in order. If I could do maintenance on the comm system, then I’d have a month to learn. Failure meant that I would be assigned to a suicide mission or just outright killed. I was also expected to be loyal and not repeat anything I heard; comm operator was a position of responsibility and discretion was necessary. Finally, I would have other assignments according to my skills.

    I was dismissed and went to the comms room. The warrior on duty handed me a couple of datapads and told me that I was expected to be up to speed on the system by the end of the week. At least that meant I wouldn’t have a lot of free time to think about… to think about Faytil.

    I got some chow from the autochef unit in the barracks, yeah that’s a thing here rather than portions, and went back to my bunk to start reading. I found out later that evening that this new barracks was separated from the training barracks in the form of a unit heater under the bunk. It took me a few minutes to adjust it to my comfort level.

    I began reading and, by habit and pure muscle memory, cleaned and serviced my pistols and jetpack. I was sure I would find a way to escape soon. Until then, I had to study as if my life depended on it… because it did.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2020
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  14. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 104: First Mission

    I’ve been working at the communications platform for about a week and have learned a great deal of the inner workings of Death Watch. We were taught that it was a powerful force spread through the Mandalorian-controlled systems, but that’s as far from the truth as the Core was from Wild Space.

    Death Watch was small. Smaller than I thought when the thirty-three of us completed training. I believed the training happened regularly like it did with system militia, across several different training bases, but I was wrong. The training happened only once a year at a single training compound. On top of that, I learned that my group was one of the larger ones to ever make it. Usually, only about twenty or so warriors survived.

    As for the attrition rates, those were another thing entirely. I learned that the hard way. Not only was it my first official mission, but it was also my first taste of what Death Watch was like outside of training. There were some definite similarities.

    I was in the comm bunker when we received a signal from the Confederacy of Independent Systems. They were fighting against the Republic, and Mandalore was staying neutral. The government under Dutchess Kryze was pacifistic; a contrary to Mandalorian ideals. They came to power after the civil war between Mandalore and Death Watch, banished the warriors from their ancestral home, and claimed their seat in the Republic Senate.

    The signal was from Count Dooku, the leader of the Separatist movement. I won’t get into details, since it was rather boring, but Death Watch was paid to insert Mandalore in the Clone Wars. Vizsla wanted to break Mandalore’s neutrality in order to gain popular support of the people and take over from the pacifists. Things were in the works for a while, with Death Watch training for a larger operation. This was apparently the first move.

    It was simple. A warrior would be smuggled onto a Republic cruiser where they would do as much damage as possible. This was something that we were trained for, so it seemed like a piece of cake. Unfortunately, there was the little issue about getting through the cruiser’s fighter screen, blowing the docking hatch, and fighting through an entire battalion of clones.

    Well, the first couple of parts were for me to figure out. After the conversation with the bearded Separatist leader, Vizsla assigned me the mission of getting the saboteur onboard the ship. My prep time was however long it took me to get from Concordia to the Republic cruiser. Thankfully, the Separatist information packet also included their intel regarding the capital ships.

    I met the warrior I was delivering to his death shortly after we lifted off. He came onto the bridge and sat at the co-pilot station just staring into the stars before we jumped to lightspeed.

    “What’s your name?” He asked. His voice was lightyears away.

    “Praetor.”

    “You’re the new comm operator?”

    “Yes.” What more could I say?

    “Don’t screw up.”

    We came out of hyperspace on the edge of the Lasan system, just beyond the sensor range of the cruiser. I’d run a simulation similar to this one close to a hundred times, but the simulator was nothing compared to the real thing.

    “Unknown transport, this is TI-6132, identify yourself.” The clone’s precision clip reminded me of the accent one of the instructors had, but I put it out of my mind. Instead, I engaged the wing rotation for combat.

    The first of the Torrent starfighters didn’t even know what hit them, the second blew without firing a single shot. No doubt, the cruiser was alerted to the destruction of its forward fighter screen. It didn’t really matter, though. This was supposed to be a peaceful system and their alert fighters wouldn’t be able to launch in time to help.

    I punched straight toward the cruiser in what could have been a suicide run. Their turbolasers were too slow to track my Kom’kr, though it didn’t stop us from being shaken by the flack. The shields took a glancing blow and dropped by a quarter.

    I saw the dorsal launch hatch split open and aimed for the growing light of the hangar bay. I caught three ships as they were accelerating out of the atmosphere shields to engage me, but it was too late. Before they knew what was happening, I was inside their own hangar firing at the power couplings that held the atmo shields in place.

    “Go now!” I yelled as I spun the ship to engage some clones who weren’t violently blown out into the vacuum.

    “Do a good job on comms,” the warrior said before leaving the cockpit. His next message came over the intercom as he made his way to the jump bay. “Or you won’t just replace me, you’ll become me.”

    Yeah. I ferried the previous comm operator to his suicide mission. I didn’t have time to think about it, though. I nosed up and blew through the closing hatch of the ship. Through the rear camera, I saw the warrior jetting deeper inside the cruiser.

    I was supposed to return to base after he was off the ship, and that’s what I did. Though, just before I jumped, I saw a flash from my rear screen. The cruiser jerked and went dark a moment before it blossomed into a ball of light. I activated the hyperdrive a moment later.

    I considered running. All I had to do was exit hyperspace, set a new destination, and I was free. But, where would I go? I just made myself a criminal in the Republic. Mandalore would arrest me the moment I tried to get near the planet. I still felt hollow from losing Faytil, but I knew I had to bide my time and wait. Soon, I’d be able to destroy everything and stand over the burning corpse of Pre Vizsla, the heart of Death Watch.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2020
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  15. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 111: Resupply Action

    I was still in shock from learning that the vod I replaced was also the person who I had delivered to his own death. However, that didn’t stop my next assignment. Based on the comm traffic I had been fielding, Death Watch and the Separatists were looking to become narudar.

    Because of this alliance, and the necessity to outfit more than just the usual small units, a second training base was opened. The beskar mine could produce the necessary armors for them, and had begun doing so, but the blasters were another matter. Death Watch was very particular with its weapons. It gave uniformity and made our numbers hard to tell estimate. In truth, the only armors with any actual difference from the rank-and-file were Devin Farr and Pre Vizla.

    This kind of outfitting was difficult since the Westar manufacturing plant was located on Mandalore. Specifically, it was located on one of the lower levels of Sundari, the domed capital. Death Watch launched raids on transport ships carrying the pistols, but with the war, those ships were gaining heavier defenses. Pre Vizsla didn’t want to risk the loss of a ship and crew.

    I was assigned to a team under the command of Ruus’alor Kal Tinoc for the mission. It was supposed to look like a simple vandalism raid. Besides the crate of blasters, we were also supposed to get whatever supplies were nearby and leave a concussion bomb in our wake. It was a relatively simple mission with my job being heavy lifting, specifically moving the crates aboard the ship.

    We came in skimming the sands to throw off the city’s sensor nets. It was my first-time riding jumpseat during a mission. It wasn’t all that uncomfortable, but the padding was just an afterthought. We were a light unit, only ten of us, even though the capacity was two dozen. It was supposed to be a simple mission with light resistance.

    We landed without a problem. The cargo doors opened and I leaped off the chair, trusting my jetpack to carry me safely to the ground. My buy’ce scanned the various cargo tags and immediately marked the blasters, along with foodstuffs, vaporator parts, and an entire crate of tihaar bottles. The guys would definitely enjoy that, not that I ever had more than a sip when jag’buir let me taste it out of his flask.

    I landed and lifted the crate of blasters with another warrior when I heard a shout. My visor immediately identified the threat and showed red dots moving into position alongside a larger shipping container. I heard the first blaster bolts fly from Ruus’alor Tinoc as we got the crate loaded on the ship. By the time I got back down the ramp, things had really heated up.

    I counted a dozen Mandalorian police, and my target identification list showed three more speeders incoming. That’s when I heard a cry over our internal comms and saw the commander go down. The blast caught him right beside the cod and the amount of blood told me that it burned through to open the artery. He was already dead; he just didn’t know it.

    I toggled over to the command channel with a brush of my chin. “Get those crates loaded and lay down covering fire,” I ground out. I had taken cover behind the crate of alcohol. It would have been fun to get haryc b'aalyc, but I would rather survive.

    I popped the side of the crate and pulled out a single bottle, replacing it with the only grenade I had on my belt. I activated both the explosive and the repulsor plate under the pallet and gave a strong shove. It was a little off course, and it toppled when it hit the cargo container the police were hiding behind, but it did its job.

    The officers ran from behind the cargo pod and took up a covered position behind it. I made it to the ramp, feeling a couple of shots impacting my back plate and one catching the side of my helmet. It didn’t matter. I was safe and those officers were…

    When the grenade went off, it ignited all of the alcohol. Being in a sealed plasteel container, it expanded in all directions at the same time. The container became shrapnel to take out anything the fireball didn’t initially vaporize. I didn’t see any of it, though, because I was already on my way to the cockpit.

    Just as I entered the control room, the ship lurched to starboard. I thought we had taken a turbolaser blast, and the shields display showed that we lost our rear deflector. I plugged into the co-pilot chair and read through the diagnostics. The primary hyperdrive was damaged and the secondary was spinning up. One of the wings had taken severe damage and its blaster was inoperable.

    I glanced at the rear camera and my mouth fell open. There was no longer a dock where we had just been; it was all a smoking crater pockmarking the side of the dome. I spun the recorder back and saw that the crate of booze had set off whatever was in the larger container the police were using for cover. A quick scan of its number made me laugh.

    Not only had we scored the blasters we needed, as well as spare parts for our vaporators, and food, but we had set off an entire crate of excavation charges on what was once one of the main freight docks of Sundari. The dock, along with the three warehouses adjacent to it, were now a vaporized mess of girders and plasticrete.

    We jumped into hyperspace for ten minutes to throw off the Mandalorian sensors before returning to Concordia. Vizsla was quite impressed with our score. He was even more impressed that I had saved a bottle of tihaar. He shared a glass with me as I gave him my report. Afterwards, he let me take it back to the barracks.

    In all, I got five shots out of the bottle. It wasn’t enough to get me drunk, but was enough to keep the dreams from torturing me as I slept. Not that it mattered, as the real nightmares were still there when I woke up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
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  16. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 117: Comm Duty

    I was on comm duty today when I received a communique from one of our spies. A jetti landed at the docks and was taken immediately to the palace. One of our long-range recon units reported that he had holo-images from the raid on a Republic Cruiser. It didn’t take the Republic long to assign a Jedi to this matter.

    Vizsla strode in and tossed me a datapad with some report he was reading. A quick glance showed it to be the Republic report on the attack. “Put me through to Count Dooku,” he ordered and waited while I dialed up the connection. Rather than take the comm on the main projector, he motioned that I should send it to a handheld.

    It took a moment for the droid to put the Count through, but Vizsla relayed the information to the unflappable head of the CIS. Even after hearing that the Jedi had arrived to investigate the attack that the Count ordered, the man showed absolutely no emotion.

    “I do not understand why the arrival of this Jedi doesn’t upset you. You promised to support the Death Watch forces so we could overthrow the Duchess Satine and her weak peace-loving government.”

    “And, I intend to keep my promise,” the Count responded.

    “But how? If the Republic interferes now, Death Watch will not be able to take over the planet.”

    “Consider,” Dooku said with a moment’s pause. “Once the senate orders peacekeeping troops to Mandalore, the people will be surrounded by a military presence. Most distasteful. They will rebel.”

    “And rally to Death Watch. Our insurgency will grow stronger.” I could see Vizsla stand a little taller at the thought.

    “Yes, and Duchess Satine shall fall.”

    Vizsla switched off the holoprojector and turned toward me. “Where is the Jedi now?”

    “He and the Duchess just arrived at the Memorial Shrine in Peace Park.” I glanced down at the screen in front of me, only to confirm what was already listed on my visor. I had the news feeds going in the periphery of my vision for just such a question. On another screen there was a list of our current operatives in Sundari and their assignments. “We have one operative on site, the shrine is already wired, and a holosign is in place.”

    I could hear him smile under his helmet. “Give the signal to destroy it.”

    I punched the single red key beside the operative’s name, issuing the order. At the same time, I set the comm station to broadcast both the Mandalorian Police secure frequency and the Palace Guard frequency (though, I had no idea how we had both frequencies when they were so heavily encrypted). It was piped around the room as we listen to the reports of the destruction followed by the suicide of the saboteur after a short fight with the Jedi.

    Vizsla nodded and turned to leave the room when another signal came through. This one was from our spy in the palace. The Duchess was going to accompany the body back to Concordia, following the fake identity of the saboteur. Beyond that, the Jedi was coming with her. I was about to report it to Vizsla when he glanced back at me from the door.

    “Draw a guard uniform from supply. You’re coming with me to greet the Duchess.”

    I was surprised that I was getting that high of an honor, but then I realized it was probably to keep me from talking. I was stunned, to say the least. I was ordered to accompany the boss to the capital. This day was turning out to be special, indeed.
     
  17. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 119: Taking Down a Jedi

    The shield I was carrying was heavy and the lack of pistols made me feel very exposed as the transport landed. I did what I could to keep my emotions in check, though. I’ve heard stories of what these jetti could do if they sensed something wasn’t right.

    This was the first actual time I had seen the Duchess in person. She was older than the holos I had seen, and not quite as attractive. She was pretty and wasn’t dressed anything like her office dictated, but definitely didn’t have the shape from the motor pool picture.

    “Duchess Satine, you are most welcome,” Vizsla said

    “Thank you, Governor Vizsla. May I present Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, representing the Jedi Council. Governor Vizsla is one of the officials I spoke of. He has been working to find the members of the Death Watch.”

    I bit down on my tongue to keep a smile from crossing my face. I never really knew how much I hated the lack of a full mask to cover my outward emotions.

    “I take it you have heard the rumors about Satine. About how she is supposedly leading Mandalore into an alliance with the Separatists,” Vizsla said with complete sincerity. It astounded me that he could actually say such things without betraying how much of a lying monster he was.

    “My only instructions are to seek the truth,” the Jedi said with a thick Coruscani accent.

    “This was the man who bombed the memorial shrine,” the governor asked as the royal guards escorted the ornate coffin deeper intothe hangar.

    “Yes, Kenobi answered. “He was apparently part of Death Watch.”

    “A worrisome prospect,” Vizsla responded with actual sadness in his voice. “If you will pardon me General, we must attend to the body.”

    I followed Vizsla deeper into the capital spaceport as the royal guard let us take possession of the body. The governor closed the blast doors and immediately sneered down at the man. He instructed the other guard to dispose of the refuse and turned to me.

    “Get back to the base and prepare for immediate evacuation.”

    I was about to turn and do as he ordered when he added, “and get back in uniform before you hit ground lest you get shot by accident.”

    I left for the base on a Kom’rk, one of the two in the capital, and changed in the troop compartment. We landed by the time I was finished and I donned the helmet before I exited. I relayed the boss’ orders and went into the comm room to begin disengaging the equipment there.

    It wasn’t long before I received an encoded text across Vizsla’s personal frequency. It was only four words, but sent a shock of both excitement and dread through me. “The Jedi is coming.”

    I looked at a group that was in the process of packing up the command equipment and said, “Boss says to hurry up.” They did so as I walked to the mine elevator to see how they were doing getting the gear moved to the ships.

    A couple vod pushed more crates full of armor onto the lift as I got off. I climbed the command platform and was about to ask how much longer he needed before everything was loaded when a blinking light drew my attention. It indicated that someone opened the outer doors and the display showed the Jedi entering the mines.

    I moved back and crouch behind the controls as the other guy hurried down the ladder and jumped to the other side of a conveyor belt. Using my internal comms, I told the commander that the Jedi arrived but we’d handle him. I got no reply.

    It wasn’t long before the Jedi entered the processing area. He commended, “Doesn’t look abandoned to me” as he walked to the like of jetpacks and helmets. He picked up a helmet to examine it and, most likely, saw the vod running at him in the visor.

    He turned faster than I thought possible and lifted the helmet to deflect the only blaster shot of the three that would actually have hit him. The other trooper tackled him to the ground before doing a bit of a flip to get his footing back and running behind another conveyor.

    The jetti stood and activated his laser sword. I was impressed by it for a moment as he moved forward like one of the hand-to-hand instructors getting ready to attack. He called out, “I am here on a diplomatic mission under the protection of Duchess Satine.”

    The other Mando growled out, “We do not recognize her rule.”

    He ran toward the Jedi and fired twice, both shots being intercepted and absorbed by the Jedi’s lightsaber. Kenobi then spun and kicked the blaster out of his hand. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to actually hit the Jedi with a blaster, but I took the kick as my chance and scored a direct hit on the hilt in his hand that was raised to strike down. The force of the blast knocked it across the room.

    The vod threw a couple punched that the Jedi blocked before punching him twice in the helmet. We were told that the two things to needed to do to beat a Jedi was to disarm them and then lock their arms. For some reason, we were taught that you were beaten if a Jedi could raise their hand at you.

    The vod got he Jedi’s left arm into a lock and received another punch to the helmet that caused a grunt. By that time, I was down from the command tower and grabbed the Jedi’s right arm, wrenching it open until I heard a pop. I threw a right hook across his face and then the two of us both knocked him backwards with full uppercuts. He looked up just in time to receive a boot to the face from the vod, knocking him unconscious.

    “I got an idea,” the vod said. He turned his head left and right, flexing his neck muscles from the punched he took. I finally glanced at his name display and it said ‘Bark Bard.’

    “What’s that,” I inquired.

    He set up an ore holder on the conveyor belt and I immediately knew what he was planning. It took the two of us to actually lay the Jedi on the belt before activating the field. Unfortunately for him, it pulled him upside down inside the suspension field.

    I walked over and retrieved the jetti’kad from where it landed after my shot. It was lighter than it looked and fit in my hand almost perfectly. The craftsmanship was amazing. I saw Bark put a hand up to his helmet and walked over to where he was standing next to the prisoner, who started struggling slightly against the force field.

    The vod rotated his left wrist, probably spraining it when we uppercut the Jedi, before saying, “The commander wants us to sweep the area and check for any other Jedi until he arrives.”

    The commander was an idiot. There was only one Jedi that came with the Duchess and any other landings would have been detected. However, I just replied with, “This one’s harmless enough without his lightsaber.” I tossed the cylindrical weapon in the air and caught it, it was so perfectly balanced that it didn’t tip to either direction. “The boss will love this.”

    Bark went back to the command tower and I headed back topside. The lift opened and more grunts exited to finish packing up the jetpacks and helmets. I avoided the commander because, if he saw me, he would have taken the Jedi’s lasersword and given it to Vizsla himself.
     
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  18. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 124: Revenge of the Jedi

    The boss arrived in his personal Kom’rk fighter/transport, the Gauntlet, after another hour. The only thing not torn down and packed up was the semi-permanent command building and the field lights. Otherwise, the rest of the equipment and gear were already at the new command point.

    “A gift from the Jedi down in the mine,” I said and handed him the lightsaber. He was in his full armor and surveying the gutted command structure.

    He looked it over before attaching it to his belt. He lifted his hand to the side of his helmet and said, “Execute him.”

    With that, he turned toward me and nodded. “You haven’t been with us long, but already you have proved that you are a formidable member of Death Watch. I promote you now to Verd.”

    Before I could even thank him, not that I would, an alert sounded from the mine. It was a collapse warning, but there was nobody in the actual mines to send it. All we had were two guards who should have been executing the Jedi.

    “Bark, report,” I said into the comm, but there was no reply.

    “Sir.” I turned to Vizsla and said, “There’s no contact from the mine.”

    “Look there,” someone said from outside the command building. “It’s the Jedi,” another one finished.

    A moment later, I heard blaster fire from outside. I grabbed my carbine and ran to see if I could help. There were three warriors firing at one of the large containers full of supplies. Me and another guy took up position and began adding to the fire.

    Vizsla walked out, assessed the situation, and pointed toward the commander and two others. “You three,” he said. “Stop him.”

    The three took off and began firing at the Jedi. That’s when I saw the unbelievable. He reached toward the carbine of the unconscious warrior by the door and it flew into his grip. I thought I was seeing things, but then he began actually firing at the three aerial Death Watch.

    He took careful aim and shot the commander in the jetpack. Flew backwards out of control and crashed with the sickening crunch of armor and bone. He wasn’t dead, though. Then, the Jedi pulled off the jetpack of the unconscious trooper and threw it, shooting it to cause an explosion.

    The one closest to the blast landed hard and wasn’t moving, but the other hit the ground and rolled to his feet in the smoke. He tackled the Jedi to the ground and was about to deliver the killing blow when someone yelled. It was the Duchess!

    She threw a rock at his helmet and ducked back behind the cargo container as he fired at her. The momentary distraction was enough to let the jetti sweep his legs out from under him before kicking him in the chest. He landed unconscious.

    “I’ll deal with this,” Vizsla said as he walked to the command bunker door. On a broadcast channel he said, “Get to your ships and evacuate.”

    With the order given, the remaining warriors boarded and three of the four Kom’rk took off for Site B. The only ones left was myself, Vizsla, two other guards, and whoever was injured.

    The commander was just starting to come around as Vizsla walked toward the Jedi, me and the two others following. As he neared the commander, who had pushed himself to his knees, Vizsla simply said “failure” and blasted him in the chest at point blank range. I noticed the blow aimed just to the side of the chest diamond meaning it was a lethal shot.

    Vizsla motioned for us to stay where we were and walked a couple more steps toward the Jedi, who walked out to meet him. Amazingly, he them removed his helmet and tossed it back to us. The warrior to my left caught it.

    “For generations my ancestors fought proudly as warriors against the Jedi. Now, that woman tarnishes the very name Mandalorian. Defend her if you will.”

    With that Vizsla tossed the Jedi his lightsaber. He removed his cape as the Jedi assumed a fighting stance. That’s when Vizsla drew that strange hilt from his back armor and activated what looked like a black lightsaber blade. Well, it wasn’t all black, because the edges were white with energy.

    “This lightsaber was stolen from your Jedi Temple by my ancestors during the fall of the Old Republic. Since then, many Jedi have died upon its blade. Prepare yourself to join them.”

    I wish I could tell you what all happened, but it was quick. Vizsla was on the offensive the entire time and even a punch he threw at the Jedi was blocked. That’s when Kenobi pulled back his hand and threw it open at Vizsla. Unbelievably, the leader of Death Watch flew backwards through the air into the three of us. We caught him, but he shook off our help and ran back to the fight.

    He attacked and was caught with a knee and then a kick which launched the dark lightsaber a few meters away. The Jedi momentarily hesitated and was hit with a combination of attacks that likewise knocked him backwards. I recognized them as the same series that we were taught in training.

    Vizsla retrieved his weapon and launched into the air for a strike like the instructor tried using on me all those months ago. Kenobi then leaped higher than humanly possible before he punched and tossed Vizsla to the ground near us.

    “Warriors, finish him,” Vizsla ordered as he got back to his feet. I got on line with the other two and hit the anti-personnel missile targeting button on my gauntlet. It zeroed in on the Jedi and I leaned forward with the other two as the missiles fired.

    Astonishingly, the Jedi dodged all three missiles. Too bad their tracking packages would bring them around for another pass, right toward the entrance of the mine where the Duchess was. Kenobi called for her, lifted her off of her feet, and jumped into the mine just before the three missiles impacted.

    Me and one other warrior ran up to the mouth of the mine and looked down at the flaming debris. “Should we go after him, sir?” I asked.

    “No,” he responded. “There’s no time. Don’t worry, we’ll catch up with the Duchess soon enough.” With that, we boarded Vizsla’s ship and took off for Site B.
     
  19. Volund Starfire

    Volund Starfire Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Entry 127: Special Delivery

    It took us an hour to reach Site B. It was only a quarter of the way across the planet, but we jumped to hyperspace to throw off any potential tracking. The Gauntlet had a signal cloak, but Vizsla wanted to be careful and follow the same route as the rest of the ships. If nothing else, it would lead Mandalorian on a wild bantha chase toward Concord Dawn.

    I was seated at the communications station behind the pilot. Vizsla, however, was looming over the pilot and co-pilot, just staring out the main view port. I focused my HUD on that strange lightsaber he carried, magnifying until it filled my vision. It didn’t look like a Jedi weapon.

    The moment we jumped to hyperspace, Vizsla spun and directed his gaze at me. “Contact the Separatists. I need to speak to Dooku. Forward the transmission to my hand-held.”

    I nodded and got to work. We were out of the micro-jump by the time the connection was made and back into the return trip by the time the Count replied. With my job done, I decided to punch up views from the cameras around the governor’s estate in Concord City.

    The first thing I noticed were the transports. The grounds were lousy with them. Moving among them, like insects, were the security and technicians. Inside wasn’t much better. Every room had security searching it or scanner crews looking for anything they could. Finally, there was the banquet room, which had two very familiar faces standing amidst royal guards as the technicians did their thing at the perimeter.

    I was hoping that the Jedi and Duchess would at least have looked like they had been in a losing battle. Not that I wished either of them any ill, just that they both looked like they were the victors. The camera didn’t have an audio pickup, but they looked to be having a friendly disagreement of some kind. Both were smiling, but their body language was standoffish. She pulled a comlink off of her belt and held a brief conversation before she, the Jedi, and the guard all exited. They walked to the hangar and boarded one of the transports.

    One of the channels reserved for reports from Sundari lit up a moment later. It was audio only, as per protocol, and I activated it for in-helmet audio. Vizsla wasn’t back from his conversation and I didn’t know how important this would have been.

    “This is the palace operative,” the speaker said. It momentarily shocked me that the palace didn’t have tighter security.

    “This is Death Watch Command, go ahead.”

    “I just received word that the Duchess plans to travel to Coruscant with a number of senators from the neutral worlds. Inform Vizsla and I’ll wait for a reply.”

    “Received.”

    I decided to type up the message rather than interrupt the boss. It would flash on his HUD and he could ignore it if it wasn’t important. I didn’t get any reply from him.

    We landed at Site B and found it already a buzz of activity. The barracks were already erected around the command building. I disembarked from the Gauntlet and made my way to set up the communications gear. I knew it was more important than situating the armor or getting the mine up and running.

    By the time it was online, Vizsla walked into the command building. He stared at one of the displays for a few moments before pulling up a feed from the mines at the old base. I glanced over and saw Mandalorian security swarming through the tunnels on each of the feeds.

    “At least one small victory,” Vizsla said as he keyed in a code on the display. The camera feeds began going dark as charges set throughout the underground detonated, collapsing the tunnels around the men and women searching the mines.

    He spun, his cape twirling in a flashy movement. “Inform the sentries that a Mandalorian transport will be arriving within the hour. They are not to shoot it down. Contact me when it gets here, and get some sleep.”

    I nodded and began sending the appropriate comms to the appropriate people. After that, my relief appeared and I decided that the boss was right. I was so tired that I didn’t even take my armor off. I did, however, remove my jetpack. Well, and my boots. I keep my helmet on because it blocked out the ever-present noise of movement. At least my higher rank permitted me a bunk that wasn’t next to the refresher.

    I was awoken by my commlink. A quick glance at the chrono in the corner of the HUD showed that I slept for six hours. It was a text message only, which I read as I slipped my feet back into my boots and reattached my jetpack. One of my pistols also slipped out of its holster.

    ‘Boss says to meet him at the transport.’

    Sure enough, there was an Aka'jor-class shuttle sitting on the landing field. I jogged over toward it, more to get the kinks out of my legs from sleeping in my armor than for any other reason. As I rounded it, I saw the loading ramp down and a B1 battle droid speaking to Vizsla. They were standing on the ramp, but the majority of the inside was filled with two large crates.

    I came to a stop at the foot of the ramp and scanned the codes on one of the crates. It was listed as medical supplies destined for Coruscant. Yeah, like we’d be smuggling medical supplies or anything else as helpful. They were probably bombs.

    “Verd,” Vizsla turned and spoke to me. “Take this shuttle to the royal docks. You already have clearance. Be sure to change into a security uniform before you arrive. You’ll meet our contact and offload these two crates.”

    I nodded. I found it was better to be seen than heard, especially around Vizsla. He turned and walked off.

    “We should depart soon,” the mechanized voice of the droid buzzed with impatience.

    “Do you want to be spare parts,” I asked as I started to walk away.

    “No, why?”

    “Because that’s what you’ll be if you talk to me again.”

    I drew a Mandalorian security uniform from supply and changed. I kept my normal uniform in a carry-on, though. I got whistles and jeers as I walked back across the camp from some of the other warriors. Most of them were ignored, but a couple of comments got a smirk and impolite hand-sign.

    I mounted the ramp and made my way to the pilot’s seat. It was difficult because the crated took up almost the entirety of the interior space. The skeletal droid was already seated. It looked up and me and raised its chin as if to say something, but I interrupted it.

    “Do you fold up for transit?”

    “I have a collapsed mode for transport and recharging, why?”

    “Because,” I shot it a deadpan stare. “You’re in my seat and annoy me.”

    “But, I’m the pilot of the shuttle.”

    “That’s one,” I said, remembering my mother’s three-count before punishments would ensue for talking back.

    “What’s one?” The droid said as it looked at me with a curious tilt to its head.

    “That’s two,” I rested my hand on the pistol holstered higher than I was used to.

    “Um,” the droid bleated for a moment. “I’m sorry to take your seat, I’ll be over in the corner recharging.”

    “That’s a good droid.”

    I sat in the pilot’s chair and saw that the preflight was finished. I closed the ramp and lifted off for Sundari. There was a great deal of traffic to and from the planet that I was able to blend in. Most of the transports were either destined for or departed from Concord City and all of them had security force designations. Then again, I noticed that my IFF painted this ship as security force, as well.

    I spotted the dome city of Sundari just in time for the commlink to activate. It was odd hearing it from the simple speakers in the open-faced guard helmet rather than the more advanced comm system of my buy’ce. I also had to speak up a bit louder because the audio pickup wasn’t right next to my mouth.

    “Shuttle 421, this is Sundari Control. What’s your destination? You’re not on any of our logs.” It was a female voice, very official.

    “I have a shipment of medical supplies for the royal docks,” I replied. “You should have authorization for my landing.”

    “Wait one,” the voice came back. I hoped that whoever the palace contact was, they were high enough in rank to authorize my landing.

    “You are cleared for Platform 3, Shuttle 421. Sorry about the delay.”

    “No problem, Sundari Control. Shuttle 421 proceeding to Platform 3. Have a wonderful day.” I heaved out a sigh as I turned for the new destination on my screen. I didn’t mean to sound so cheery, but that was the first actual female voice I had heard since… I put up a ray shield in front of that train of thought to keep it from infiltrating further into my head.

    Landing wasn’t really a problem. The problem was maneuvering beside the two crates to the hatch. I stood at the bottom and stretched, something that was impossible on the ship. It felt good and the last kink from armored sleep worked its way out of my legs.

    Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long. I didn’t really know who my contact was supposed to be, but I guessed it was the person making their way toward me. I was surprised when they got closer and I recognized him. It was Tal Merrick, the Mandalorian representative in the Senate. Definitely surprising, but I kept from showing it.

    He looked nervous as he approached, looking around several times. “Are you here with the medical supplies marked for immediate delivery to Coruscant?”

    “Yes, sir. Are you supposed to receive them?”

    “No,” he said, looking back over his shoulder, not noticing my hand resting on my blaster wrap around the grip. He made eye contact and gave a half-grin. “I have nothing to do with them. They will be loaded aboard the Coronet by authorization of the Senate.”

    He made a gesture with his hand and a pair of cargo droids approached and carried both containers to sit beside a small hill of similar boxes waiting for transport. At that moment, a klaxon rang out. I looked up to see a huge blade-like ship fly in from the horizon before turning and pulling into a hovering dock with the main platform. The senator looked up and said, “That’s my queue. I’ll be in touch when the plan succeeds.”

    Not long after the larger ship landed, a Republic shuttle also landed on Platform 2. I had seen holos of the clones at home, but this was the first time I actually saw clone troopers with my own eyes. White armor and uniform, not altogether unlike Death Watch. There were two with strange markings and accessories that I thought might have been officers, again like I Death Watch.

    Behind them were four other figures. One was a fat blue Twi’lek with ornate-looking robes, a Rodian, and another figure who was almost completely eclipsed by the Twi’lek. Then, there was a man who looked like he was oozing confidence. He wore a similar outfit to Kenobi, so he must have been another Jedi.

    I boarded my ship and closed the ramp, just in case some of the stories I heard about the Jedi were true. They used some kind of magic to move things, maybe they could also hear thoughts and make you do things with their space magic.

    “Sundari Control, this is Shuttle 421, requesting takeoff clearance.” I kept my voice as neutral as possible, but hoped a little harder than I should have that it was the female voice to respond.

    “Shuttle 421, this is Sundari Control. Your request is acknowledged and you are in the number four slot. I’ll let you know when you’re clear.” It was her again.

    “Thank you, Sundari Control. Any news about what’s happening?” I didn’t have to ask, but I didn’t want to seem suspiciously secretive. Then again, it might also have been that the voice sounded kind of cute.

    “What isn’t happening, 421. Republic ships coming, royal ships going, and something on Concordia that I’m not cleared to know about. So much for a boring shift.”

    “Acknowledged more than you know, Sundari Control,” I chuckled out. Apparently, Death Watch wasn’t the only group inconvenienced by the Jedi.

    “Anything you’d be willing to share,” the voice said in a lowered tone. I checked and saw that the frequency had turned from the BoSS channel to a private channel.

    “I don’t know any specific details,” I joked. I wondered how much I’d get in trouble for talking about what happened. “Something about the governor’s residence in Concord City and some mine in the middle of nowhere that collapsed with a bunch of people in it. Someone said it was Death Watch.”

    “That figures,” I could hear her sign over the comm. “Kyr'tsad is usually responsible for ruining what should be a nice day. Bunch of hut’uun, if you ask me.”

    I don’t know why, but I bristled at the comment. She was right, we were cowards. But, knowing that she was referring to me make it hurt a little more than it should have. I saw the large ship, which registered as the Coronet on my sensors, slide away from the docks and angle up into space.

    “If it were always a nice day, it would get mirshepar'la.”

    She laughed and it was more than a pleasant sound. “I could use a little more brain devouring. I knew it was going to be a bad after that jetti landed yesterday. Trouble follows wherever they go.”

    I saw a red starfighter lift off and head into the sky. It was dagger-shaped and I swear had no pilot in it. Though, I did see and astromech to the left of the cockpit, so that was probably the pilot.

    “What did you expect?”

    “True,” she said, and then paused. “421, you’re almost up. One more ahead of you.”

    “Thank you, Control. Though, if we’re on a private channel, it’s just Praetor. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to formalities over comms.” I was being honest, but bit my tongue lightly for actually giving my name. I watched the Republic shuttle lift off and go almost straight up.

    “Acknowledged, Praetor. I would say to call me Kirstal, but you’re cleared.” I saw that the private channel switched back over to the BoSS frequency.

    “This is Shuttle 421 to Sundari Control, lifting off.”

    “Sundari Control to Shuttle 421, see you next time.”

    No, she wouldn’t.

    I pulled up and through the atmosphere. I saw the dagger-like fighter and the Republic shuttle both making their way toward a Republic Cruiser. A flight of starfighters began making their way in my direction, but veered off on the next point of their patrol pattern. It was then that I realized I was just another Mandalorian transport in the space over Mandalore.

    I stood up in the cockpit and kicked the droid. It unfolded in a rather disturbing way.

    “Are we there yet?” It asked, looking around the empty transport.

    “No,” I said, taking my helmet off. “Pilot us back to the Death Watch base and make sure to contact them. If we get blown up, I’m shooting you before I die.”

    “Uh,” It sounded unsure and it practically leaped into the pilot’s seat. “Yes, sir.”

    I was back into my Death Watch uniform before we touched down. I don’t know why, but I felt better being surrounded by beskar rather than the too-light plastoid armor that the security services wore. I packed up the security uniform into the carry-on and walked away from the shuttle the moment the hatch opened.

    With the security disguise returned to supply, I made my way to the command bunker. Vizsla was there and motioned me to take over at the comms station.

    “Good work, verd.”

    I was about to respond when a transmission came in from the Coronet on the priority encrypted channel. Vizsla must have been monitoring comms because he said, “activate the visual scramble and put it on the pedestal.”

    I did so, and noticed that it just turned his armor from beskar to what looked like a suit of clone armor.

    “Death Watch command,” he said. I noticed that he pulled his cape entirely around him.

    “Tal Merrick here,” was the response. The man who I had seen less than an hour previously was now standing with a blaster in one hand and his arm around Duchess Satine’s neck.

    “Senator Merrick,” Vizsla was calm. “Have you completed your mission?”

    “Yes, sir. I have the Duchess, but I’ll need help getting away.”

    “Very good. Reinforcements are on their way.”

    Vizsla disconnected the call himself and turned to me. “Contact the Separatists and give them the ship location from the comm.”

    I nodded and punched in the proper codes for the transmission to Separatist command. I received an acknowledgement that three breach pods were being sent with a platoon of droids. Then, there was nothing.

    After four more hours, Vizsla simply shook his head and walked into his suite, closing the door behind him.