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Before - Legends Sith Politics: A Series of Short Stories and Spin-offs

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by PlanetSmasher, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    EDIT 3: O.K. Story is completed! Editing is done. I hope you held off reading the mess from before. If not, I hope you'll read the redone version. It's in two parts, and I think there might be a part three later, in a few days.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________


    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason.​


    The Rodian male sat in his ray-shield jail cell at the Limdast City, 427th Imperial Army Police Station, on planet Ziost. He hugged his knees to his chest, shivering, still recovering from the after effects of carbonite freezing.

    The station duty sergeant, having verified the identity of the shuddering Rodian, proceeded to make an entry in the station’s logs, while an Imperial army clerk registered the Rodian’s information into the inmate database.

    The duty sergeant then proceeded to transfer one hundred twenty five thousand Imperial credits into the bounty hunter’s business account. The hunter felt the buzzing hum of her personal datapad and, retrieving it from her utility belt, verified that she’d been properly paid for her work.

    Wrehn told the duty sergeant, “It was a pleasure doing business with you, Sergeant.”

    The sergeant replied, “Sure.” Then he added, “I wasn’t so sure, when the Dark Council permitted Aliens to be granted Imperial citizenship and all of that a few years back, but I have to admit you Aliens aren’t such a bad lot.” Turning to look at the captured Rodian, he continued, “I guess every group has their bad seeds,” and then turning to face Wrehn, concluded, “and every group has their hard working, dedicated folks who strive to do good things.”

    Wrehn, knowing the sergeant, a human male, meant well with his words, replied, “Thanks, Sergeant. May you enjoy good days ahead.”

    The cobalt blue skinned Chiss woman with the bright red eyes (all red, no whites) turned and walked out of the army police station and made her way to a speeder, where two of her crew waited patiently for her return. Wrehn was not an Imperial citizen. She was Mandalorian but maintained her independence, choosing not to join any of the clans within Mandalorian society.

    She was also the only living Great Hunt champion in the galaxy. Galactic Republic S.I.S. agents, together with Jedi, had conducted a raid, a few years ago, and murdered the three only other Great Hunt champions in Mandalorian society. They were after Wrehn and her crew, but they had sprung their raid before Wrehn and her crew had arrived to the gathering. The gathering was to celebrate Wrehn’s victory in the Great Hunt and to welcome her into their very elite group of champions.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    A few years ago, Wrehn had arrived to the hotel and casino suite on Nar Shaddaa, only to find the bodies of the slaughtered hunters sprawled all over the floor in the suite. Next to one of the dead Mandalorian hunters, was scrawled in her own blood, SIS Jedi. Wrehn could immediately tell that three dead or wounded individuals had been removed from the scene. She had surmised that the attackers had taken their dead and wounded with them when they left the scene.

    Wrehn and her crew quickly left the scene. They were fully alerted to the danger around them and had their guns out. As they fled to their rented spaceport hanger where their ship was berthed, they were ambushed by SIS operatives. Wrehn and her crew were fully alert and heavily armed. They easily broke the ambush, killing four operatives from the start, forcing the remainder to flee with the Jedi.

    After launching their ship – without clearance from the spaceport authorities, she contacted Mandalore, the chieftain – king of the Mandalorian clans.

    Wrehn told him, “SIS and Jedi raided the hotel suite where I was gonna party with the three previous Great Hunt champions. They were all killed in the raid with their crews.”

    Mandalore asked, “How do you know it was Jedi and SIS?”

    Wrehn replied, “One of our dead had written in her own blood, SIS Jedi next to where she died. Then as me and my crew went back to our ship, we were ambushed by a well disciplined group of operatives led by a Jedi. We were ready for them. We killed a few and made the rest run for it.”

    Mandalore said, “Very well. I’ll find out what I can, and return in contact with you.”

    Wrehn said, “Me and my crew want to be the ones to get vengeance on them, Mandalore.”

    Mandalore said, “Of course it should be you. You are the last surviving Great Hunt champion. It is your place to seek vengeance for your fellow champions’ deaths.”

    Mandalore cut the connection.

    Wrehn told her crew, “We can’t let this go. We got to hunt these guys down and make them pay.”

    A Human male and the only other Mandalorian in Wrehn’s crew, Torian Cadera, shouted something in the Mando language at Wrehn.

    Then turning to the others, repeated what he’d said in Basic, “Death is too good for them, but that is what they’ll get.”

    Gault Rennow, a Deveronian male, replied, “You know, Torian, you could save a lot of time and effort if you’d just say it in Basic the first time around, every time around.”

    Skaage, a Houk male chimed in, laughing, “You’d save us all of lot of time, if you didn’t say anything at all!”

    The cybernetically enhanced Human female, Mako, laughed and was about to add her own two cents, but suddenly became serious, telling her crew mates, and her employer, “I got something!”

    Mako had been scanning the Holo-net, making a deep search through her brain’s direct connection to the holo-net via her cybernetic implants, and found a clue.

    She said, “There’s a hit called out for us! A half million credits for our capture or deaths. The Exchange Gang put out the call!” Then she added, “It just came out a couple of minutes ago!”

    Yehw-reh-nomai, whose core name is Wrehn, observed with some respect, “The SIS move fast.”

    Shortly after, Mandalore had got back in contact with Wrehn and her crew.

    He told them, “You have recently done work for the Imperial Information Service. It is for the highly effective nature of your work that they have targeted you.”

    Wrehn was wanted for her successful hunts, when she had captured a Jedi who worked closely with the S.I.S, and had killed his two padawans. She had also successfully killed or captured several Galactic Republic government officials and military officers. It was work for a very lucrative contract with the Imperial Information Service, the Sith Empire’s spy agency.

    Wrehn, looking introspectively, replied, “They could have ambushed us on the way to or from the party at the suite without killing anyone else. They didn’t have to slaughter the others.”

    Mandalore said, “They have wounded our honor by so easily killing our very best. You cannot let this insult stand. Our honor must be restored.”

    A data stream began to download into the ship’s intra-galactic holo-transceiver. It was a list of twelve names with twelve holographic images of human men and women, members of the SIS team that was formed to go after Wrehn and her crew. The data included the image of a Jedi, and his name, too.

    Wrehn immediately recognized the Jedi. She also recognized some of the faces, as the four that had been killed by her crew when they had been ambushed. After the SIS operatives fled, Wrehn and her crew had unmasked the dead, and went through their belongings for clues.

    There were no identifiers, datapads, communications devices, nor any other items that could be used to identify the dead operatives. Even their weapons were of different manufacture. No two recovered weapons were the same. They were high quality weapons without any serial numbers to trace ownership. The only clues Wrehn had were their faces.

    She told the chieftain – king, “Mandalore, we killed four of those people in the images you sent us. We had to take their masks off to look at their faces.” Pointing out which four those were, she concluded, “These guys, here.”

    Laughing ruefully, she told Mandalore, “You have some real good sources. That was fast, and accurate. You wanna share your source with me? I’ll pay.” She added, “By the way, the Exchange Gang put a half million credit hit out on us a few minutes ago. I think the SIS are behind it.”

    Mandalore laughed, telling Wrehn, “You know who my sources are. Make your own contacts.” Becoming serious, he said, “Make them pay, Yehw-reh-nomai. Make them pay. I’ll take care of the Exchange Gang.”

    He cut the connection.

    Pointing at the holographic images, Wrehn told her computerized human subordinate, “Find them, Mako.”

    Mako replied, “Already found the Jedi. He’s founded an orphanage on Nar Shaddaa a couple of weeks ago, and already got orphans living there. Oh! And happy coincidence, all twelve of the orphans happen to have the same names as those twelve SIS agents, and we killed four of them.”

    Wrehn said, laughing, “At least give me a chance to finish giving an order before you finish carrying it out!”

    Mako replied, “I’m just that good. You know I won’t hold back.” Then she told Wrehn, “You have an incoming message from Rooronu the Hutt Spaceport Authority.”

    Wrehn said, “Good. I need a hanger to berth my ship. We need to get back there before they leave the moon.”

    Even as Wrehn said, “Put him or her on,” a Twi’lek’s holographic image appeared on her ship’s intra-galactic holo-transceiver.

    The male Twi’lek official spoke, “You have violated regulations that were put in place to ensure the safety of all starship traffic. That was a very reckless act. If you wish to ever return to Nar Shaddaa, for business or pleasure, then you must pay the fines and other penalties which shall be imposed.”

    Wrehn said, “O.K., but just to let you know, I had extenuating circumstances.”

    The Twi’lek asked, sounding unimpressed, “Oh? And what might those circumstances be?”

    Wrehn told him, “Some Republic SIS agents was after us, trying to kill me and my crew. We was running for our lives.”

    The Twi’lek, clearly not believing her, replied, “SIS agents were after you, clearly.” Then he said, “The fine is thirty five thousand credits, in Hutt currency. Additionally, also in Hutt currency, your penalties are in the amount of fifteen thousand credits.”

    He looked at Wrehn as though he expected her to exclaim in outrage at the penalties and fines.

    However, his smug look was quickly replaced by indignation, as Wrehn replied, “That’s all?! I thought it was gonna be worse.” Then to Mako, “Mako, pay it.”

    Mako replied, “Already paid.”

    Returning her attention to the official, Wrehn said, “I need to book hanger space for my ship, I need to go back.”

    The Twi’lek clearly flustered, tried to speak, “Back?! You just… You owe…. I just…”

    He paused to listen to someone speaking to him. He seemed to deflate as he listened to whoever was speaking to him.

    Then, returning his attention to Wrehn, said, “I see that the fines and penalties have been paid in full. I’ll book you the same hanger space you had before. The same deposit and daily rates apply.”

    Wrehn said, “Thank you.”

    She turned to Mako and opened her mouth to speak, but Mako had cut her off, telling Wrehn, “It’s paid.”

    Wrehn complained, “Let me get the words out!”

    Wrehn turned back to the Twi’lek, and asked for landing codes. Those were transmitted to the ship, and immediately thereafter, the Twi’lek official cut the connection.

    She turned to the Deveronian, and ordered, “Gault land the ship.” To the Mandalorian, “Torian, get your heavy assault blaster rifle.” To Mako, “You too, Mako.” To the Hauk, “Skaage, get your blaster cannon. We’re going to have us a small war.”

    Skaage shouted, “HELL YEAH!!! That’s what I’m talking about!”

    Wrehn walked to her captain’s quarters, and went into her weapons locker. She unholstered her light and medium duty blaster pistols, and secured them in the locker. She removed her armored vambraces, and replaced the left one with a modified vambrace which had a one shot flame thrower attached to it. She replaced the right one with a vambrace that had a four shot mini rocket launcher attached.

    Next she removed her open faced helmet, and donned her full head and face helmet.

    She switched it on and spoke a command, “Begin pre-combat diagnostic test.”

    As the electronics suite builtin to her helmet started its preprogrammed diagnostics checks, she detached her holsters from her thigh armor, and attached another set of holsters in their stead. Then, from her weapons locker, she took two heavy assault blaster pistols, carefully inspecting both, before holstering the pair.

    She had these blasters made special for her, by a well known armstech on planet Duro. The pair of blasters had cost her two hundred and forty thousand credits. These blasters were capable of taking out heavy war droids. They put out a lot of energy, and had a very, very fast rate of fire. The only disadvantages were that they ate through power packs fast, and got very hot, very fast.

    Wrehn walked out of her quarters, and stuck her head in the control bridge. Gault was already slowly gliding the ship to its landing spot.

    Wrehn, shocked into surprise, thought to herself, “That was too fast!

    Worried about the ship’s exterior paint, she asked Gault, “Did you burn us through the atmosphere? You didn’t burn us through the atmosphere, did you?”

    Gault Rennow replied, “You said, we needed to get to them before they left the moon. To me that sounded like, burn us through the atmosphere. So, I burned us through the atmosphere.”

    The deveronian touched the ship down in its landing space, and then began the post flight shut down procedure. When he had completed the shut down procedure, he swiveled the pilot’s seat and got out. He found Wrehn looking at him, quite intently.

    Defensively, he asked, “What?”

    She replied, her voice deadly serious, “You are going to scrape off the burned paint off the hull. Get it ready for a fresh coat of paintif you make it back alive.” Then she added, “Get your heavy assault rifle, we’re going in for a firefight.”

    Gault, looking down at the deck and sighing, thought aloud, “So, if I get killed, I can get out of scraping the hull, eh?

    Wrehn had heard him from the open door of her captain’s quarters, and called back, “I won’t let you off the hook that easy, Gault.”

    He shook his head as he walked out of the control bridge, and past the captain’s quarters towards the back of the ship. He walked to the metal grate staircase in the cavernous cargo bay, and walked down to the lower deck of the ship.

    He made his way back towards the front of the mostly empty cargo bay, with a five passenger speeder parked in the corner of the cargo bay, tied down to the deck with tie-down straps, when he heard Wrehn call down to him from behind the safety railing of the observation deck high above the main cargo deck. He looked up at her expectantly and saw that she had removed her helmet. Her expression was somber.

    When she didn’t say anything, he asked, “What?”

    Wrehn said, “Gault. Please, be careful. I don’t want anything to happen to you before you scrape the hull clean.”

    Then she turned away, walking back to her quarters and laughing up a storm.

    Gault shook his head, in amusement, as he walked the rest of the way to the crew quarters, which he shared with Torian Cadera, and Skaage.
     
  2. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 2​
    Wrehn, Torian, Gault, Skaage, and Mako all climbed out of their speeder and walked to the end of the alleyway. Mako had a scanner wirelessly linked to her cybernetic implants. Walking next to Wrehn, she carefully scanned the alley.

    Then she reported, “No sensors detected.”

    Wordlessly, the bounty hunters walked to the end of the alley and looked at the shop front, across the metal plated roadway, in the huge corridor. They were on the three hundred fifty second story, deep in the bowels of a gigantic seven hundred story mega-building capable of housing hundreds of thousands of residents, and tens of thousands of businesses. The mega-building had dozens of spires pointing skywards, above the gargantuan roof top, above the seven hundredth story.

    The dozens of spires were, themselves, an additional three hundred stories tall. The spires housed an additional forty eight thousand wealthy residents. The wealthy had windows with views of the cityscape that stretched from horizon to horizon. However, deep in the bowels of the mega-building, the Speeder traffic was heavy, and there were lots of pedestrians walking to and fro on the metallic sidewalks on both sides of the street.

    Wrehn thought, “This is not going to be easy.

    The alleyway behind the shop, which held their interest, had two remote sensors in it. Her crew would be detected, and they would lose the element of surprise.

    Aloud, Wrehn said, “Looks like we don’t got a choice.”

    Gault said, “Frontal assault it is! This should be all kinds of fun!”

    He’d meant that to be flip and sarcastic, but Skaage, replied, “Ha! Ha! That’s my kind of fun!” Then, meaning it, he said, “Wrehn, sometimes you really know how to make work fun!”

    Wrehn, became curt, “Cut the chatter, everybody! These guys ain’t chumps. We mess this up, we die!”

    When the speeders had come to a stop for the traffic signal, Wrehn pushed a button on a remote control, which activated two sentry defense droids guarding the alleyway across the street, behind the row of shops and apartments across the road. These were, essentially, self propelled automated blaster cannons. They were set to attack any armed target that exited the rear entrances of the shops.

    She and her crew of hunters then dashed across the road. Then they ran down the block towards the shop front, which was The Orphanage of The Most Resplendent and Most Benevolent Rooronu the Hutt.

    The pedestrians on the street began to shout and exclaim their surprise and worry over what they saw developing. They ran out of the sidewalk and into the street through the stopped speeders to get away from the impending battle.

    Before Wrehn and her crew could get to within fifty meters of the shop front, two heavy war droids, of Chiss manufacture, rolled out of the sliding shop door, they unfolded themselves and immediately began to fire a heavy barrage of blaster cannon fire.

    Wrehn’s crew had reacted on seeing the droids rolling out of the shop. Her crew came to a stop and got down on a knee, as Torian and Gault deployed portable polarized ray-shield projectors. The war droids’ blaster fire exploded as they dissipated their energy against the ray-shields. From behind the kneeling hunters, Skaage stood, and carefully aiming his blaster cannon, fired a volley through the polarized ray-shield, first at one droid, and then at the next, destroying both droids.

    Gault and Torian both deactivated and recovered the ray-shield projectors, and the whole team then advanced to the shop front. The recessed sliding door was locked. Wrehn attached an explosive charge onto the door after peeling the backing off of the adhesive. She then activated the timer, and backed out of the recess, standing to the side of the recessed entryway. One and a half seconds later, the explosive charge went off, powerfully shaking the metallic shop front they stood against, and the metallic sidewalk they stood upon.

    Immediately, after the blast, they entered the shop and were immediately greeted with a long burst of blaster fire from one shooter. Torian and Gault immediately returned fire, forcing the single shooter to retreat from his perch. Mako stayed within the recessed entryway, keeping watch of the street. She was their lookout for Hutt security forces, or SIS reinforcements. She watched the street clear, as pedestrians and speeder traffic evacuated the scene.

    Inside the shop, five grenades came out through an open door way from the back room, Torian, Gault and Wrehn all shouted “GRENADE!!”

    Each team member including Mako, outside, activated their personal blast shield generators and lay prone on the floor of the store front. The blasts of the five grenades buffeted and pounded them, but their blast shield generators protected them from the worst of the blast waves, while their full armor saved them from the shrapnel.

    Wrehn shouted, “Skaage, let ‘em have it!"

    Skaage rose to his feet, shouting, “HELL YEAH!!! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear!!”

    After making a couple of adjustments to his weapon, he let loose with an unending volley of blaster cannon fire. The blaster bolts fired at an unbelievable rate of fire, and each bolt of energy blasted holes into the walls, large sections of the metallic back wall started to collapse onto the floor.

    Two SIS operatives had been killed by the explosive energy bursts from the energy dispersal of the exploding blaster bolts on the ever disintegrating wall. Wrehn’s crew had no way of knowing this, but even if they did know, that wouldn’t change anything. Wrehn got to her knees and gave hand and arm signals to Torian Cadera and Gault Rennow.

    The two immediately got to their knees and prepared to throw a grenade into the back room. On Wrehn’s signal, Wrehn, Gault, and Torian threw their grenades into the back room, while shouting, “GRENADE!”

    Skaage ceased firing and dropped to the floor with his teammates. The shouts of the surviving three SIS operatives could be heard, as they shouted, “Grenade!!!” All three jumped out the back windows or ran out the back door into the alley.

    At the end of the alleyway, Wrehn’s two sentry defense droids noted the three sentients that had entered the alley. The two droids scanned the sentients and identified weapons on each of the three sentients. This matched the criteria for a valid target for which the droids had been programmed to attack and destroy.

    Each droid targeted an armed sentient, exchanged targeting data with the other in a series of quick clicks, chirps, and bleeps. The droids agreed on which droid would engage which target, so that their fires would not overlap. The two droids polled each other and agreed to commence firing without a countdown. Finally, the two sentry defense droids immediately began firing at their respective targets. All of this occurred in a quarter of a second.

    Two SIS operatives were blasted to death with blaster cannon fire. The third SIS agent received the fires of both droids and was also killed. The agents didn’t have a chance. It was as though they were in a shooting gallery – for droids. The droids scanned the alleyway for additional targets. Finding no other targets, the droids returned to wait mode, scanning the area around them every fifteen seconds for threats.

    Mako scanned the street, her fully helmeted head on a swivel. She unendingly turned her head from side to side, scanning both ends of the street, looking for signs of danger. Her cybernetic implants augmented her senses. Nothing escaped her notice. Not even the Jedi who tried to Force persuade her to sleep, though he was still quite a distance away.

    Mako screamed into her helmet comm mic, “JEDI!! JEDI!! JEDI!!”

    Wrehn shouted, “Mako, inside!! Now!!”

    As Mako entered the smoking interior of the shop, she shouted, “He’s coming from the same direction we came! I didn’t see anyone with him!”

    Wrehn shouted her commands, “Torian, Gault take the back left corner! Skaage, take cover behind the holed up wall in the back room, start blasting the minute you see him! Mako with me!”

    Mako followed Wrehn to the right back corner of the shop front. The team waited, hearts pounding, for the Jedi. A massive wave of sleepiness hit Wrehn and her crew. Mako’s cybernetic implants recognized the externally induced drowsiness affecting her brain, and reversed this drowsiness by stimulating her brain. It did this by causing a signal to be sent down her nervous system which triggered a blast of adrenaline to shoot into her blood stream. That’s twice, her cybernetic implants saved her from this Jedi.

    Mako saw that Wrehn and the others were not so fortunate to have such implants. She opened a panel on her armored vambrace, and pushed a combination of buttons. This caused a hypodermic needle in her teammates’ helmets to extend a needle into the necks of the drowsy bounty hunters, and inject them with a military grade hyper-awareness stim.

    Wrehn’s crew woke right up and became hyper-alert, just as the Jedi entered the shop front through the blasted out doorway.

    Wrehn shouted, “FIRE!!”

    But that wasn’t necessary. Her team had already begun firing. The Jedi, lightning fast, activated his personal shield generator, and had his lightsaber up, deflecting hundreds of blaster bolts. Many of the high energy bolts began to return to her team members.

    Wrehn shouted, “Fire faster!!”

    Wrehn adjusted the controls on her special-made custom blaster pistols to fire at maximum power. She fired a shot at the Jedi. When he attempted to deflect the blaster bolt, the energy bolt exploded on his lightsaber beam. The force of the blast sent him flying, but his shield generator saved him from the searing energy of the dissipating blaster bolt.

    The Jedi, forcing his way back into the shop, used The Force to lift Mako, and sent her flying into Gault and Torian. The three hunters fell, heaped in the corner. He used a powerful blast of Force Push energy at Skaage, sending the Houk crashing into the far back wall.

    Before the Jedi could direct his attack against Wrehn, she had released the safety on her left Vambrace. Pointing her left arm at the Jedi with her wrist bent unnaturally downward, she activated her one-shot flame thrower at him. Nothing the Jedi could do could save him from the stream of burning liquid that splashed all over his drab-brown outer robes.

    His robes on fire, he quickly shed them, revealing white metallic armor that had been underneath his poor man’s robes. However, before he could be freed of his burning robes, Wrehn had released the safety on her right vambrace. Pointing her right arm at him, again, her wrist bent unnaturally downward, she let loose a mini rocket. It exploded, point blank on the Jedi’s shield. His shield generator had expended all of its energy on guarding the Jedi from that attack. Wrehn fired her left blaster pistol at him again, and again, the Jedi blocked the blaster bolt with his lightsaber, but this time, when the blaster bolt exploded on his lightsaber beam, he was terribly burned by the dissipating blaster bolt energies.

    The Jedi used The Force to speed his way out of the store front, making his escape.

    Wrehn shouted, at her team, “On your feet!! On your feet!! He might come back!!”

    Her crew were already struggling to get back onto their feet, when she shouted her commands to get up, however. They readied themselves, waiting for the Jedi’s return. After a time, Wrehn realized he would not come back.

    Wrehn ordered, “Torian, take a look outside.”

    Without hesitation or complaint, Torian Cadera ran to the doorway, then carefully scanned his way outside, his heavy assault blaster rifle aimed at whatever his eyes scanned from behind his helmet visor. He even scanned up on the awnings of the store fronts, up and down the street.

    After a few more seconds of intense searching, he finally shouted, “Clear!! The enemy is not in sight!!”

    Wrehn ordered, “Mako search the area for anything that may yield intel on the enemy. Skaage, make yourself useful, and look through the bodies for intel on the enemy.”

    Skaage replied, “Don’t forget to turn off your toys in the alley. I got three dead nerf turds out there, I gotta search.”

    Wrehn took out her remote and deactivated her two sentry defense droids, then she ordered, “Gault! Help Skaage search the bodies!”

    Wrehn turned to the task of helping Mako search for datapads, comm devices, and other items potentially containing intelligence on her enemy’s activities.

    After a few minutes, Torian called out, “Hutt security forces approaching from down the street!”

    Wrehn ordered, “Fire a volley of warning shots.”

    Torian did. He let loose with a long burst of blaster fire. The energy bolts exploded high on the ceiling above the street, over the heads of the Hutt security teams that came to investigate.

    A moment later, Torian called out, “Hutt forces withdrawing!”

    Wrehn called out, asking, “Gault! Skaage! You two done searching the bodies?!”

    Gault shouted from the alley, “All done, here!”

    Wrehn said to Mako, “We got all we need. Let’s wrap this up.” Then shouting, so that she could be heard, “Let’s wrap this up! We’ll escape down the alleyway, pick up our sentinel droids, and high tail it to our speeder! Move! Move! Move!”

    Ten minutes later, her team were piling into the speeder, with Gault in the driver seat.

    Wrehn swiveled her helmetless head and made sure all of her team, who’d also removed their helmets, were aboard.

    Then she ordered, “Drive!”

    Gault drove.
     
  3. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    What a nice collection of aliens! The addition of the Houk is an interesting choice--never even heard of this species before so I learned something new here. I see you're adding a little humour in the conversations--that's always a plus in my view :D
     
    PlanetSmasher likes this.
  4. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 3​


    At the hanger deck, still three kilometers from her starship, Wrehn spoke into her personal holo-tranciever, “Ship, unlock ramp, break seal and drop.”

    Gault drove as though he’d forgotten what brakes were for. The view of the ship, with its painted hull badly charred, quickly enlarged as they sped closer to it. It seemed they would crash into the back of Wrehn’s ship and then get crushed beneath the slowly lowering ramp, which gradually revealed the cavernous cargo bay inside.

    Wrehn started to get really nervous about his driving and told Gault, “Slow down. Yeah? We’re almost there.”

    There was no change in the speeder’s velocity as it continued to hurl towards the back of Wrehn’s Mantis-class freighter. She looked over at Gault and saw a crazed look on his face.

    She thought, of the deveronian, his two short horns protruding from the top of his forehead, “He even looks like a speed demon.” Aloud, she said, “If you want to keep being our getaway driver, you’d better start slowing down. We’re almost there.”

    Gault’s crazed look developed an ever widening grin, as he replied, “Almost there, isn’t the same as being there.”

    Wrehn replied, in all seriousness, “You’re not getting out of scraping the hull clean, but I’ll let Torian and Skaage help you.”

    Gault replied, jovially, “Now, that’s more like it!” As he finally let off the accelerator, and began applying the brakes.

    Torian didn’t say anything, but he looked pained, as he turned his displeased visage towards Wrehn.

    Skaage, on the other hand complained loudly, “I did my job, good! You ain’t gotta make me do that crap!! I ain’t doing it!!”

    Wrehn shouted, “Skaage, can it! You’re helping! It’s that, or I’m leaving you right here for Hutt security to get you!” Then, realizing that’s exactly something Skaage would like, added, “Without MY blaster cannon!”

    The Houk looked hurt, as he replied, “I had fun today, boss. Why you gotta ruin it like that?”

    Wrehn, exacerbated sighed heavily, giving in and exclaiming, “Fine! You don’t wanna help Gault scrape the hull clean! But it’s either that, or I’m gonna have you help Mako with the paperwork!”

    Skaage exclaimed, “But! But…!” Then fell silent, as he thought it over.

    He acquiesced angrily, “Fine! I’ll help Gault! I hope you’re happy!” Thinking he was insulting her, he concluded, “Slave driver!”

    Wrehn looked over her shoulder at Skaage, surprised that that was the worst he could come up with.

    Thinking that he’d scored a hit, Skaage doubled down, “Yeah! You’re a slave driver! No fun to work for!”

    Wrehn kept silent, facing forward again.

    Gault commented, “You are quite bossy.”

    Torian added something in Mando’a, which he then translated, “That means unreasonable task masters are not always great leaders.”

    Wrehn shot Torian an angry look, over her shoulder.

    Gault said, “Torian, remember? We talked about this. Say it in Basic, the first time around, every time around.”

    Facing forward again, Wrehn grumbled, “You guys make it sound like I’m the bad guy, here. That ship is our home. We gotta take good care of it. You know?”

    Gault drove the speeder into the cargo bay of the freighter, and parked it in its customary spot in the corner of the huge space, shutting down the motor.

    Turning to Wrehn, he announced, “Now! Now, we’re there.”

    Mako finally said something, “Hey, Boss! Good news! One, Gault didn’t kill us with his crazy driving. And two, The Exchange Gang just yanked the bounty hit on us! We’re not wanted anymore!”

    Wrehn took in the news, but remained silent as she opened the passenger side door and got out. Skaage and Torian opened the passenger and driver’s side rear doors, getting out as well. Mako exited on Torian’s side, taking his hand.

    Torian pecked her on the cheek and whispered something, in Mando’a, in her ear. Mako nodded and smiled, returning his kiss, then let go his hand.

    Wrehn walked around the speeder, making her way towards the metal grate staircase, and ordered over her shoulder, “Mako, get us clearance to launch.”

    Mako replied, “Already done, and it looks like we’re getting special treatment. We got clearance to launch in only fifteen minutes!” Then she asked rhetorically, “Crazy, huh?!”

    Wrehn, at the center of the cargo bay on her way to the stairs, started laughing as she turned around and asked, “Why can’t you let me give the order first, Mako? Why?” Then turning to Gault, ordered, “Launch the ship to high orbit. I haven’t decided where we’re going, yet.”

    Gault, already at the entrance to the crew section at the front of the cargo bay, replied, “Sure, slave driver. Why not? Do you want me to prepare a bath and massage, for you, while I’m at it?”

    Refusing to be baited, Wrehn spoke into her personal holo-transceiver, “Ship, raise ramp, lock and seal for flight!”

    As the huge ramp began to rise, Wrehn simply turned and walked the rest of the way to the metal grate staircase at the side of the cavernous cargo bay.

    She shouted over her shoulder, as she started to climb the staircase, “Good work, everyone! Thanks for not getting your asses shot off!”

    However, her crew had already exited the cargo bay and had gone to their quarters in the crew section.

    On the second deck of her ship, Wrehn walked to her captain’s quarters. She set her helmet on a work table. It had expended the dose of hyper awareness stim, and the stim cartridge needed to be replaced.

    Walking to her armor locker, she removed her heavy nylex fabric gloves which had metal armor plating on the backs and around the wrists of the gloves. She set her gloves in the locker, and then stepped to her weapon’s locker, she removed her special-made blaster pistols from her custom holsters and secured them in the weapons locker. She removed her custom holsters from her thigh armor, putting those in the weapons locker as well.

    Then she removed her modified vambraces, setting them down on the work table beside her helm. Those needed to be serviced as well. Wrehn heard someone walk past her quarters to the control bridge, as she removed her armor.

    She thought, “Must be Gault getting ready to launch the ship.

    She removed her utility belt and set it on the work table with her vambraces and helm. The belt needed to be serviced as well. Wrehn needed to inspect the blast and energy shield generators, attached to the utility belt, and replace their batteries.

    She unfastened the heavy nylex fabric straps on the right side of her ciurass. The back of her armor swung open, like a shell, as she lifted the armor off to her left. She set the ciurass in the armor locker. Wrehn unbuckled the straps that held her shoulder and upper arm guards in place. Her shoulders and arms slipped out of the armored pauldrons, upper arm and elbow guards, as though she were shrugging out of a jacket.

    Sitting at the side of her bed, Wrehn removed her heavy armored boots. Standing again, she unfastened the heavy nylex fabric straps on each side of her pelvic armor, causing the front and back to separate and open like a clam shell. These were attached to the tops of her thigh armor. She pushed the pelvic and thigh armor down like a pair of pants, and slipped her legs out of them.

    After setting her boots, and pelvic and thigh armor in the locker, she unzipped her molytex mesh under-armor, from the extended neck collar down to her waist. She peeled the heavy, flexible anti-shrapnel one piece armor suit off, leaving her cobalt blue skin exposed, except for sports bra and panties.

    Wrehn set that in the armor locker, then proceeded to seal it shut. Pushing a couple of buttons got the armor cleaning system to spay a mist of anti bacterial chemicals and other solvents to clean her gear. Wrehn turned to make her way to her fresher, but stopped in her tracks.

    Gault was leaning in her doorway. He quipped, “So that’s what you look like under all that armor. You ready for that massage, now?” Then as an after thought, added, “Oh, and by the way, we’re in orbit. Where do you want to go?”

    Wrehn replied in a business-like tone,”Set course to Mandalore. We’re gonna lay low in Mandalorian Space for awhile. Also, I need to have a face to face with Mandalore, too.” Softening her tone, she added, “Then, when you’re done with the fresher, come back up to my quarters. I’ll take you up on that massage, and I wanna see what’s under your armor, too.”

    As he left to carry out his task, he replied, “Oh, how I like those orders.” To himself, he thought, “I’m going to enjoy this, but I know I’m gonna regret it, later.

    After setting course, and walking past the captain’s quarters, with the door still open, he glanced inside. Wrehn wasn’t in view, but her bra and panties were on the floor where he’d last seen her.

    He picked up the pace to the crew quarters, thinking aloud, “But who cares about regrets?”
     
  5. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    "She thought, of the deveronian, his two short horns protruding from the top of his forehead, “He even looks like a speed demon.” " LOL what a fun crew this is annndddd none of them are wearing seatbelts am i right? (wait..do they even have seatbelts in SW...?). Wow, that's a lot of armour on Wrehn there! Do you need a manual or something to learn how to take all that off? and the last part.............oh dear :p
     
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  6. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    There has to be some procedure for donning and doffing Mandalorian armor. In the movies, you never see them getting into or out of such complex gear, and the equipment needs to be maintained. I wanted to show that those armor pieces need maintenance, too.

    As for that last part.... How am I gonna write that up?

    *thinks to self* "Remember. Family friendly! Family friendly!"
     
  7. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Metaphors could be helpful?
     
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  8. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Part four completed with help and advice from Chyntuck. Thanks, Chyntuck, you really were a great help with the zingy dialog... Plus I learned a couple of things about spotting redundant lines. With practice, I hope to get better at spotting it, and cutting those excess lines out.​
    EDIT: Made a few changes to help clarify the situation.​
    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 4​
    Wrehn’s meeting with Mandalore the Vindicated, aboard his flagship in deep space, went quite well. She secured his aid to investigate the raid at the hotel-casino on Nar Shaddaa. She had turned over the recovered items from the SIS agents she and her crew had massacred in their safe house.

    Mandalore the Vindicated, whose birth name was Artus Lok, promised to put the considerable resources of the Mandalorian Empire and its ally, the Sith Empire, to work on determining who ordered the raid. For Wrehn and Mandalore, it wasn’t enough that the SIS operatives were massacred and the Jedi terribly wounded. They wanted the official who’d called for the raid and murder of their fellow Mandalorians and former Great Hunt champions. Wrehn made Mandalore the Vindicated swear an oath to tell her everything the investigation turned up.

    Unlike the Sith Empire, which had been ruled for over one thousand three hundred years by the same emperor through an utterly ruthless centralized rule, the Mandalorian Empire was a loose affiliation of clans whose chieftains supported a very strong clan chieftain to lead all of the clans. If ever any of the other clan chieftains felt that the current chieftain-king was failing in his leadership, it was not uncommon for one of them to ultimately challenge his rule.

    Mandalorians don’t always choose a Mandalorian ruler over all of the clans. In fact, there have been many periods in their history when many decades have passed without a Mandalorian chieftain-king chosen to rule over their empire. During those times, the clan chieftains were content to rule over their own territories without concern for their neighbors’ wars or other affairs, unless they were locked in a dispute with their neighboring Mandalorian clan.

    The clans would unite to choose a chieftain-king to lead them all whenever confronted with a great crisis, or a great opportunity, that face all of the clans. After nearly three centuries, since the last chieftain-king, a time had come again that forced the clans to unite and choose a chieftain-king from among their number. Over a decade ago, when the resurgent Sith Empire brought war on the Galactic Republic, the Mandalorians saw a chance for renewed glory, and for a chance at avenging their defeat at the hands of the Galactic Republic three hundred years before.

    They chose a strong clan chieftain to lead them, but his rule caused a schism among the Mandalorian clans when it became rumored that he was a pawn of the Sith Empire’s Imperial Intelligence Service. Many of the clans remained neutral, while other clans fought each other in support for or against Mandalore. That was when Artus Lok, a renowned clan chieftain made his move against Mandalore, slaying him in single combat.

    Artus Lok became Mandalore the Vindicated. He reunited the clans, returning strength and honor to the Mandalorian Empire, and refocusing the Mandalorian clans’ war potential on the Galactic Republic, fighting alongside the Sith Empire’s Imperial Army – for a price.

    Mandalorians viewed warfare as a product or a service that had to be contracted out and paid for by a client. The client, in this case, was the Imperial Army. Although Mandalorian naval assets were also available, the Imperial Navy, most unlike the Imperial Army, very rarely hired Mandalorian fleets.

    Yehw-reh-nomai didn’t want any part of that. She liked running her own business, and liked her independence. As a Great Hunt champion, she rated direct access to Mandalore, but very rarely made use of her privilege to do so. She didn’t want to be put in a position where she would end up owing favors to Mandalore. Wrehn made it clear to him that she didn’t believe he was doing her a favor in this case, either.

    “Mandalore, this isn’t just my problem. It’s very much your problem, too. For me, it’s just personal. For you, it’s a matter of defending Mandalorian pride and prestige throughout the galaxy. You can’t let them get away with this. For me, it’s just a matter of, ‘they pissed me off,’ and I want to make them pay. I see it as a matter of you and I working together to get what each of us want from this. So, we won’t be owing each other any favors when it’s all said and done. See?”

    Mandalore clearly didn’t like it, but he had very little choice. He had much bigger concerns to worry over, but neither could he ignore this affront to Mandalorian honor.

    Mandalore agreed, telling her, “I see it the same way you do. I am glad that you feel a need to take some part in this matter. We simply cannot let this go unanswered.”

    A few hours later, Wrehn and her crew were in her ship, in deep space, headed to the territorial space of one of the more friendly Mandalorian clans. She had good relations with some clans and not so good relations with other clans. She wanted to get some work done on her ship, and she needed a new paint job after Gault Rennow had burned through the atmosphere on Nar Shaddaa, causing atmospheric friction to burn up her ship’s paint job.

    In her captain’s quarters, Wrehn thought back to her passionate fling with Gault.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    It was a fun two hours, but after the afterglow had worn off, reality had set in. For as long as she’d known him, she knew that he was a swindler, a liar, a thief, and although he wasn’t a scruffy looking nerf herding scoundrel, he was a scoundrel nonetheless. She respected his abilities, which was why she kept him on her crew, but as someone she could allow herself to get close to… Wrehn realized what a terrible lapse in good sense she’d exercised.

    It also got under her skin that he’d let his swindling nature get in the way of a moment of pure pleasure. Gault had the telemetry to actually think that he could get away with using her giddy feelings of the moment to get out of his impending arduous task.

    Lying next to her, he traced his fingers down her back as he proposed, “What if you hired some cheap labor to get that charred paint scraped off instead?”

    Realizing what he was up to, Wrehn let him have it. “You are cheap, Gault. As cheap as they come, on every level.” Changing her sharp tone to a sweet sounding one, she added with a sly look in her eyes, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll throw in five thousand credits, as a bonus for supplementary services rendered.”

    Gault was a professional gambler, an accomplished con-man, and an undetectable cheat. Putting on his best sabacc face, he masterfully hid his anger at the insult, and replied casually, “For that kind of money I'll work anything you want, even an old and rundown hag...” He paused, pointing at Wrehn, then concluded, just before she could object, “...like your ship.”

    Wrehn was actually a few years younger than he was, and quite athletically toned. Not wanting to let him get the best of her, she countered, “Even if you are cheap labor, I’d still expect you to earn every credit.”

    Gault, refusing to rise to the bait, simply got out of her bed and began to dress.

    Finished dressing, he headed to the door. Just before opening it to exit, he stopped and turned to face Wrehn.

    “Let’s not make a habit out of this. Doing this kind of work is bad enough once. I won’t want to do it again, even for another five-k.” Before she could speak, he added, “So don’t worry, I won’t scorch the hull again.”

    Wrehn suddenly became unsure whether he was speaking about her or the ship’s hull with his assurance and lost the momentum for her next scathing remark.

    He made as though to leave, the door sliding open, but stopped and turned to face her again, adding, “And don’t worry, I’ll be discrete. I won’t tell anyone that you felt compelled to offer to pay me to do extra work."

    Wrehn, lying naked on her bed, bristled on hearing this.

    With a smile that was too tight, and that failed to reach her eyes, she said, “I’ll be sure to credit your account as soon as possible.” Then raising her voice, to be sure Gault – already out the door and down the passageway – could hear, she added, nearly shouting, “You’ve really earned it!”

    Wrehn had to get out of bed to shut the door. Gault’s smile widened as he made his way to the metal grated stairs and to the lower deck of the freighter. He knew that his words had struck her hard, but he still stung at the humiliation of being treated like a male prostitute.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Wrehn was brought back to the present, with Gault’s ship-wide intercom announcement.

    “Leaving hyperspace in one minute.”

    The ship had been in hyperspace, for nearly four days, since leaving Mandalore’s flagship. During that time, she hadn’t spoken directly to him except to give orders, and he hadn’t spoken to her except to acknowledge her orders. Their good-natured and playful banter was gone, and the other crew members had noticed, except for Skaage. He was kind of thick-headed when it came to interpersonal relations and social cues. Skaage merely enjoyed the quiet that had descended the ship’s crew.

    He observed, “It’s really been peaceful around here with nobody yapping about anything. I like it.”

    The minute expired, and a small queasy feeling in her gut later, Gault announced, “We’re in Mandalore space. Adjusting course to intercept Concordia. We’ll be in orbit over Concordia in forty five minutes.”

    Concordia was a moon of planet Mandalore, the Mandalorian’s home world and capital of the Mandalorian Empire. Nearly half a day later, after asking for clearance to land while in orbit over the moon, Wrehn’s ship touched down in a shipyard on Concordia. An hour later, Wrehn, along with Skaage, was in the office of Rast Amurdo, a Rodian male.

    The shipyard chief told Wrehn, “You’re always going to need new paint. Overtime, you’re just wasting money on repaints. Why don’t you invest in an atmospheric re-entry force shield generator? Parts and labor, one and a half million.”

    Wrehn replied flatly, “No deal. I just want the paint job, and the hyperdrive reactor cooling system looked at.”

    Rast Amurdo shrugged his shoulders, replying, “It’s a good deal I’m giving you. You shouldn’t be so fast to turn it down.”

    Wrehn kept silent, watching Rast impassively until he gave in.

    “Fine. Paint job and inspect the hyperdrive cooling system, only. Paint and labor for the paint job, one hundred twenty five thousand. Hyperdrive cooling system inspection labor, seventy five thousand.”

    Wrehn countered, “I already had the old paint scraped off good. You’ve got a clean hull to work on. Sixty five thousand.”

    Rast became mildly incredulous, pointing out, “Labor alone is twenty thousand. The paint is going to be forty five thousand or more, ‘cause you want a fancy three tone camouflage paint scheme. Then I’ve got tax, environmental clean up fees, toxic waste disposal fees, on and on. All of that adds up to almost double what you’re asking. Where am I and my business partners gonna get our profits from? I’m not budging. It’s gonna be one hundred twenty five K.”

    Wrehn looked as though after thinking about it she was going to stand up to leave, but before she could push herself up from her chair, Rast tried to cut another deal.

    “Look. How about I cut thirty K from the hyperdrive cooling system inspection? You’ll be paying cost for labor on the inspection. What do you say?”

    Wrehn said, “I’ll take that deal.”

    Rast nodded approval, and immediately typed in the terms of the deal into his computer. Then, after getting her frequency, he uploaded a digital copy of the contract to Wrehn’s datapad. After reading it carefully, Wrehn signed it and transmitted it back to Rast’s computer.

    Upon returning to her ship, she told the crew, “We’ll be on the moon for at least five days, Mandalore days, not Concordia days. Take four days off. Come back to the ship in four days.”

    A Concordia day was nearly two weeks worth of days on Mandalore.

    She reiterated, “Four Mandalore days, not Concordia days.”
     
  9. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    I'm gonna admit I don't know a ton about Mandalorians, but I really appreciate you adding some extra info for the reader to catch up on who these people are and what they stand for---it really allows the chapter to flow and appreciate the characters that much more. Also, great you figured out a way to make the Wrehn and Gault scene family friendly :p Their dialogue is pretty amusing.
     
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  10. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For a Reason. Part 5​
    Wrehn’s crew wasted no time at all in leaving for their shore leave, scattering on their own getaways from ship and bounty hunter life for a few days. Torian and Mako left together. Torian a Mandalorian himself, was sure to show Mako the best in Mandalorian festivities and hospitality. Wrehn smiled as they left the ship together. She knew they had something going on.

    Skaage had gone in search of the fighting pits.

    He told Wrehn, as he hauled all of his combat gear, “You and Torian always talk up Mandalorians. I want to see, for myself, what Mandalorians really have in ‘em.”

    Wrehn didn’t think Skaage would return – not alive anyway. She credited him, his final pay, in advance of the scheduled pay date for her crew.

    She figured, “He may as well spend his money before he dies.

    Gault didn’t even look her way as he left the ship. She was struck with guilt for the way she’d treated him, but kept her feelings about it to herself. Wrehn wondered if Gault would even return to the ship when their leave was up.

    Wrehn stayed at an inn near to the shipyard. She paid daily visits to her ship, looking at the progress being done on the paint job on her ship’s hull.

    She was pleased, thinking, “It’s really looking good!

    On day three, Wrehn had gone back to the shipyard to meet with Rast Amurdo. He wanted to talk to her about her ship. Walking into his office, Wrehn saw someone else in the office waiting for her arrival with Rast.

    Rast, and the other shipyard worker stood as they greeted her. Rast waved Wrehn to a seat at the front of his desk, next to where the other shipyard worker, a Duros female, sat.

    Rast started, “Yehw’reh’nomai, this is Kliegga Raanahn. She is our lead hyperdrive engineer at our shipyard.”

    Wrehn turned to Kliegga and said, “My core name is Wrehn. You can call me that.”

    Kliegga bowed her head, replying, “Very well, Wrehn. You may call me Kliegga.”

    Rast went on, saying, “There’s still more work to be done with the paint job, but we are progressing on schedule. The work shall be done late tomorrow evening. The painting will be done early after the mid-day hour, but the paint must be cured, and that will not be done until late in the evening. However, we are ready to report on your hyperdrive cooling system.”

    Turning to Kliegga and waving a hand towards her, he handed off the reporting to her.

    Kliegga nodded towards Rast, then turning to Wrehn said flatly, “Your cooling system is fine, but your hyperdrive is running hot because the hyperwave suppressor coil is starting to fail. That needs to be replaced. You still have between eight to ten, maybe twelve, hyperspace jumps before it finally goes out on you, but it may also catastrophically fail the very next time you jump into hyperspace.”

    Her heart jumping into her throat and a cold ball of ice sinking into her stomach, Wrehn hid how badly she’d been shocked at the news by simply replying, “O.K. Show me.”

    Rast could see the surprise in her eyes, but was amazed at how well his customer was taking the news. He nodded and stood from his desk. Kliegga and Wrehn also stood. The three walked from the office and made their way to Wrehn’s ship.

    Centered at the bottom of the main ramp of her ship, which was in it’s raised, locked and sealed position, was a pressure hatch. This hatch opened like any normal ship’s outer hatch. The hatch recessed into the main ramp, then slid up until only the very bottom of the hatch was visible.

    Rast, then Wrehn followed by Kliegga, stepped up and into the ship’s cavernous cargo bay, immediately making their way to the engineering section, beyond the crew quarters. A flashing amber light high up on the overhead of the cargo bay caught Wrehn’s attention. That told her there was a recorded message on her intra-galactic holo-transceiver waiting for her, but Wrehn continued to the engineering section with Rast and Kliegga.

    Kliegga walked to a control panel and immediately began to punch in a series of codes. The hyperdrive reactor, as tall as a single story single family house, tilted out from it’s reactor yoke-mount. After fully extending, the huge reactor vessel which was a tall hexagonal container opened up at one of the six corners. Inside was the reactor rotor and counter-rotor assembly. The hyperwave suppressor coil was a coil yoke with thousands of meters of ultra fine copper wire windings encircling the reactor rotor and counter-rotor assembly.

    Kliegga showed Wrehn the thousands of nicks, and abrasions on the wire wound around the coil yoke in just a few meters of the wire. The wire, as fine as it was, wasn’t cut all the way through anywhere, yet, but the fine wires had deep cracks that threatened to sever the wire.

    The nicks and cracks were what was increasing the inefficiencies that were causing the rise in reactor temperatures. It wasn’t her reactor cooling system after all. In short, she new a fix would require an engine overhaul. Wrehn sighed, shook her head, and expressed her disgust.

    “Tsk!” Then she asked, “How much and how long to fix?” Before Kliegga could reply, Wrehn asked, “How’d this happen?”

    Kliegga pointed at the reactor rotor and counter-rotor assembly, and said, “Look at all of the chromium work. It’s all suppose to be shiny, like a mirror, but it’s all matte. That means you’ve been running the reactor above it’s rated operational specifications. You probably got a real good performance boost from it, but it greatly shortened the operational life of your hyperdrive reactor.

    You still have another six hundred hyperspace jumps with that Reactor Rotor and Counter-Rotor assembly, but your hyperwave suppressor coil isn’t going to last you very much longer.”

    Looking at Wrehn’s darkening expression, she asked, “You’ve probably been noticing ever diminishing performance from your engines, and fuel consumption getting worse over time, eh?”

    Wrehn said, “Let’s just talk about the Hyperwave Suppressor Coil, for now.”

    Rast spoke then, “Two million credits. I have to send your HSC to a certified HSC refurbishment facility to rewind your coil. It’s not something I can do here. A brand new HSC will run you five million.” Then he added, “You’ll probably want to start saving up for a new RR and CR assembly. There’s no refurbishing that. You’re looking at fifteen million credits.”

    Wrehn, angry at the expenditure she had to endure, replied disgustedly, “Fine. Two million to refurbish the HSC. How long to get it all done?”

    Rast answered, “Two weeks.”

    Wrehn, alarmed at the time her ship would be grounded asked in surprise, “Two weeks Mandalore, or Concordia?”

    Rast replied, “Mandalore.”

    Wrehn, relieved it would be fourteen days and not twenty eight weeks, nodded her acknowledgment, replying, “O.K. Draw up the contract. I’ll be at your office to sign it later.”

    Kliegga nodded, then wordlessly turned and left the engineering department in Wrehn’s ship.

    Rast told Wrehn, “I’ll be in my office for another three hours before I lock up for the shift. I can get the ball rolling and make the call to slot in a time, for my friend on Mandalore, to be ready to receive your HSC – if –you sign the contract before then.”

    Without waiting for an answer, he departed the engineering department and Wrehn’s ship. Wrehn looked at her exposed hyperdrive reactor core, and realized Rast was giving her low-ball estimates.

    Shaking her head in bitter disappointment, she thought, “Fifteen million for a new hyperdrive reactor core? For this freighter?

    She realized she was going to have to shell out no less than twenty million, in which case, her two million credit expenditure for a refurbished Hyperwave Suppressor Coil was a waste, because a new hyperdrive reactor already came with a new suppressor coil, tuned to the new reactor rotor and counter rotor assembly.

    Wrehn knew that most of the fortune she had amassed from all of her jobs was about to be absorbed by this expenditure. To top it off, she fully expected to lose Skaage to stupidly getting himself killed in an arena fight, and Gault to simply quit her crew.

    Wrehn, recalled that she had a waiting recorded holo-transceiver call waiting. She left her reactor core in its offline and exposed state, walking out of her ship’s engineering department. Walking through the huge cargo bay, she angled towards the bottom of the grated stairs that led to the upper deck and her ship’s command and communication space.

    Sitting on one of the padded chairs, bolted to the deck, she activated the holo-transceiver to retrieve the recording. The familiar holographic image of her favorite bounty broker popped up, a Twi’lek male named Kathten Relmus.

    The recording said, “You are being requested by name. It is a galactic heavy hitter – a very heavy hitter. I might even advise against taking this job, except he’s saying, “Name your price, I’ll pay it...”

    Wrehn paused the recording, knowing that the timing was just too perfect. She knew it was a complete coincidence, but this was just too much. She needed a huge sum of money, and here she’s being told about a prospective client willing to pay it.

    She whispered in dark amusement, “What are the gods playing at? What will I end up getting mixed up in?

    She resumed the playback. Kathten’s frozen image resumed where it had left off.

    “He’s not in any rush. Get a hold of me, and tell me whether or not you’re interested.”

    The message ended. Wrehn immediately returned the call.

    Kathten Relmus immediately answered, saying, “I thought you had good sense, and wasn’t gonna call back.”

    Wrehn got to the point, “How heavy a hitter is he? Who is it?”

    “He sits on the Dark Council. It’s Darth Nox.”

    Kathten had on a look that said, he fully expected Wrehn to reject the job out of hand.

    He was deeply surprised when Wrehn asked, “What does he want done? Will he really pay any price I name?”

    Kathten looked at Wrehn without saying anything for a while before speaking.

    “Wrehn, turn this job down. Don’t do it.”

    Wrehn asked again, “Will he pay?”

    Shaking his head, Kathten’s countenance reflected his thoughts as he replied, “Don’t get greedy, Wrehn. I don’t have any reason to think he won’t pay, but he’s a Sith. Worse than that, he’s a dark lord. Worse than that is that he’s got a very well justified viscous reputation. Do not take this job, Wrehn. I’m only telling you this because I like you. Don’t do it.”

    “Why? What’s the job?”

    “Something he is willing to pay any price for.” Then, before she could ask him anymore, he cut the connection, telling Wrehn, “Take a couple of days to think this through Wrehn. Please take my advice.”

    Wrehn got up from the padded seat and walked to her captain’s quarters. There, she went through her books and calculated how much of her small fortune would go towards getting a new hyperdrive reactor core. She didn’t like the numbers she saw.

    She figured that without any major expenses, she should have amassed several tens of millions before her retirement. Now here she was looking at already spending over two thirds of her wealth for a major repair.

    Wrehn walked to her bed, and lay down to think it through. She realized, Kathten’s urgent warning to not take the job had, ‘this is a suicide mission’ written all over it. She meditated on the question, forgetting that she had to sign the contract with Rast to get the work on rewiring her Hyperwave Suppression Coil started at the soonest.

    She drifted off to sleep, thinking, “Should I do it?
     
  11. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    Looks like Wrehn needs to face a major dilemma-- work for a Sith Lord to get the freighter repaired (And who knows what Nox even wants!) and risk her life or risk having her crew separated and getting stuck with the expenses… Things are really not looking good for her it seems.
     
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  12. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 6​



    Wrehn awoke with a start. She looked at the chronometer and cursed a vile oath, when she saw that several hours had gone past. Rast Amurdo’s office was closed for business, and she hadn’t signed the contract to start the work on her hyperdrive core. In fact, if she were on any ordinary planet, it would be dark outside, and it would be the wee hours of the morning.

    However, this was Concordia. It would remain daytime for several galactic standard days, to come. Concordia’s nights lasted just as long as it’s days. A complete day night cycle on the moon lasted two weeks of day/night cycles on Mandalore, and Mandalore’s days were just a bit shorter than a galactic standard day.

    Wrehn rose from her bed. She took the stairs down to the main deck and walked to the engineering section. There, she punched in a combination of buttons which caused the reactor core container so shut, and the reactor container to retract into it’s yoke-mount, returning it to it’s normal position. She left the reactor deactivated, however, since the ship was connected to external power sources.

    She returned to her captain’s quarters and began to remove her clothing. She would return to bed and sleep the rest of the sleep period properly attired in her bed clothes. As she lay back to bed, she had decided to contact Kathten Relmus, when she awoke again in a few hours, to tell him she would accept a meeting with the Sith lord to discuss the job, and the money.

    Wrehn found herself waking again, this time to a distinctive tap on her door. She knew right away it was Mako. Wrehn got up from her bed and made her way to the door and opening it found both Mako and Torian waiting.

    Wrehn asked, “Did you two have a good time? Are you married now?” She laughed.

    Mako asked, “Are we that obvious? How’d you know we got married?”

    Wrehn stopped laughing, and in quite a shock blurted her inquiry, “You two really got married?!

    This time it was Mako’s turn to laugh, “Nah! I just wanted to see what you’d do!” Laughing raucously, she added, “You should have seen the look on your face! It was priceless!”

    Wrehn, shaking her head sighed heavily.

    “Mako, it’s too early for that sort of joke.”

    Torian Cadera, laughing at Mako’s prank, observed, “I didn’t see Gault or Skaage.”

    Wrehn replied, “Skaage went to the fighting pits.”

    Torian made a face, and Wrehn commented, “Yeah. He’s probably dead already.” Shrugging her shoulders, she added, “Gault might come back to get his final pay and to clear out his gear.”

    Mako asked, “You gonna try to talk him out of leaving?”

    Wrehn said, “Yeah.”

    Mako was surprised to hear that, asking, “Really?! The way you two have been giving each other the could shoulder, I figured you’d be all too happy to leave him on Concordia...”

    Wrehn said, “I’ll let him quit the crew after this next job. If I take it, it’s going to be a really big payday. Kathten said to turn it down, so it’ll probably be a near suicide mission. I get to name my price, though, so it might be worth it. You know?”

    Mako asked, “Is there anything you’d like me to start researching for this job?”

    Wrehn, nodding, said, “Yeah. Learn what you can about a Sith named Darth Nox.”

    Torian exclaimed, Mako nodding her agreement with him, “Taking out a darth will put a very bad strain on relations between Mandalore the Vindicated and the Sith Empire, and we’d be wanted as criminals. I’m with Kathten. Turn it down.”

    Wrehn corrected, “He’s the client.” Before Torian or Mako could say anything, Wrehn said, “I need to get in the fresher. Then I’ve got to get some breakfast in me. I’ll talk to you two later.”

    Before Torian and Mako turned towards the metal grated stairs, Mako promised, “I’ll make breakfast, so come to the crew mess hungry.”

    Wrehn smiled, nodding her promise to arrive hungry. Then she slid her door shut.

    An hour later, Wrehn walked down the stairs to the main cargo bay deck. She made her way to the common crew mess, where the crew prepared and ate their meals.

    Mako spoke to Wrehn as she entered the space, “I made your favorite, Corellian fried egg toast with Naboo khabbaah tree syrup. Torian brewed the caf, so it’s strong.” Looking at Wrehn’s surprised expression, she added facetiously, “Guess who didn’t come back dead?”

    Wrehn had already spotted Skaage seated at a table pouring another cup of Torian’s caf while watching the Mandalorian sporting news on his portable holo-transceiver. Wrehn couldn’t believe it. She was stunned to see him alive.

    Wrehn blurted quite facetiously, “Skaage, what are you doing alive in my ship? I’m not gonna believe that you actually won the tournament. So don’t lie about it.” Shaking her head in disbelief, she added “But here you are, drinking caf in my ship.”

    Skaage spoke angrily, accusing the Mandalorians of being sore winners. Torian, having already heard the story from Skaage, only shook his head in amused disgust.

    Skaage told Wrehn, “I made it all the way to third place! My opponent was mad because I quit before he could kill me. He won! But he wanted to kill me, too. It’s not my problem if the others were too stupid to know when they lost! The worst of it was the crowds were too busy booing me, to cheer the winner….”

    Wrehn asked teasingly, knowing the answer already, “Did you get your third place trophy?”

    Skaage looked at Wrehn suspiciously, then said, “Torian says there ain’t no third place...”

    Wrehn was kind of glad to see Skaage, which kind of surprised her a bit.

    Wrehn surprised herself again, realizing she was being truthful when she told Skaage, “Well, I’m glad you out-smarted them and knew when to throw in the towel.”

    Skaage said, “I beat twenty turd for brains Mandalorians before I got beat. The turd for brains didn’t know when to quit. I had to kill ‘em to make ‘em stop.”

    Wrehn, incredulous, challenged Skaage’s assertions, “Come on! You tried to not kill them? Well, did you at least try to beat them senseless?”

    Skaage spoke earnestly, “I’d knock ‘em silly. Walk off to sit in my corner, and when the dumb scrubs came to, they’d come at me again. They made it hard for me not to kill ‘em! The crowd kept booing me cause I wouldn’t kill ‘em the first couple times the scrubs came back at me. Said, I was being cruel to my opponents playing with their honor.” Then in genuine frustration he added, “Here I was, tryin’ to be a good sport, an’ the lousy nerf herders, couldn’t take a hint an’ stay down! Then they get mad at me for having the good sense to quit when I was beat!”

    Wrehn told Skaage, “I think you’re right, Skaage. They were too stupid to know when it was time to call it a day.”

    Torian gave Wrehn a stern look of disapproval, but she ignored him as Skaage proclaimed to Torian, “See! I was smarter then those scrubs!”

    Wrehn asked, “How much prize money did you get?”

    Skaage smiled a huge toothy grin and bragged, “I made a killing!” Then he remembered one of the rules of the tournament, thinking aloud, “Maybe that sore winner was mad ‘cause he couldn’t take my winnings from me on account that I wasn’t dead...”

    Torian shook his head in disgust, finally speaking his mind, “You’re twenty victories were made into a sham when you shamelessly begged for your life!” Leaning forward to look intently into Skaage’s eyes, he added with scorn, “It is a disgrace that you kept their money instead of giving it to the one who bested you.”

    Skaage said, “Torian, I ain’t that stupid. What you said is stupid.”

    Wrehn shocked Torian when she admitted, “I’m with Skaage on this. Who goes to a tournament that lets you quit or choose death, but the losers keep choosing to die AND lose their prize money – on purpose?

    Mako, to Torian’s disappointment, told him a bit contritely, “I’m sorry Hon, I’m with Skaage and Wrehn on this, too.”

    Wrehn was surprised to hear Gault’s voice, “When Mako can agree with Skaage on anything, then you know the galaxy is going to hell in a hand basket.”

    Wrehn took a chance speaking to Gault, “Well, look who made it back. How many poor scrubs did you get to clean out before you got caught and had to make a run for it?”

    Gault replied smoothly, “As if you really cared about any of that.” Then getting straight to the point, “I decided to jump ship, here. I just came back to get my gear and my pay before I strike out on a new venture that I’m going to start up on Mandalore. A really promising little deal to rake in the credits, before I decide to travel the galaxy to play tourist.”

    Wrehn knew this was coming, but it hurt her nonetheless. She felt it was her fault, but she was too proud to apologize. Instead she said, “Well, before you quit my crew, I was offered a really big job. It might be risky, but it has a very, very huge payday.”

    Torian and Mako both looked at Gault, waiting for him to make his move.

    Skaage, back to being oblivious asked, “How much they offering?”

    Wrehn, looking at Gault replied, “I get to name my price.”

    Gault arched his eyebrows, whistled, and quipped, “You must be desperate to take a job like that. What’s the job and who’s the client?”

    Wrehn said to her crew, “If you’re all done chit chatting, then pour yourself a cup of caf and follow me to the command and communications section. I’m gonna contact Kathten Relmus, to get the details and put us in contact with the prospective client.” She gently prodded Gault, “You interested in one last job, Gault? It really is going to be a big payday.”

    Gault looked steadily into Wrehn’s eyes, and could see apprehension in them.

    He wondered to himself, “What’s her angle? She’s not saying what’s really bothering her….” Aloud, he said, “I’ll play along for awhile. I want to see what this is about.”

    Wrehn and her crew walked out to the cargo bay and then up the stairs to the command and communications section. Wrehn brought her plate up with her, being the only one who hadn’t eaten, yet. With everyone seated, sipping from their cups, Wrehn forked a few mouthfuls of Mako’s cooking before dialing up Kathten’s frequency.

    Kathten shook his head sadly, saying, “Wrehn, don’t say I never warned you.”

    Wrehn, mouth still full, still chewing, and swallowing between words, said, “Kathten –, I’m a Great Hunt champion –Chances are – I can do this job –. O.K.?”

    Gault muttered under his breath, but everyone still heard him, “Famous last words.”

    Wrehn ignored the remark, instead demanding of Kathten, “Tell us about the client.”

    Kathten gave up, facetiously telling Wrehn’s crew, “Well, maybe you’ll all go in a blaze of glory, and we can sing songs about your heroism.”

    Skaage snapped, “Cut the stupid yapping, and get to the point!

    Torian added, anger clearly etched on his facade, “We have a well deserved reputation of our own. Do you take us for weaklings or fools?”

    Gault added unhelpfully, “He probably thinks we’re both, Torian.”

    Kathten’s holographic image put up both hands, placatingly, “Now, now. There’s no need to take it like that. I’m just saying that some jobs aren’t worth taking.”

    Wrehn said, nearly shouting, “I said that we would be the judge of that, Kathten. Now answer my damned question!”

    As Wrehn forked in another mouthful of Mako’s cooking, Kathten sighed, shaking his head and finally getting to business.

    “Darth Nox recently ascended to the Dark Council. He took Darth Thanaton’s place after slaughtering most of his supporters. Then he took Thanaton himself out. Before that, he was known as Lord Kallig.

    Lord Kallig threw the Galactic Republic off of Taris, trashed the Balmorran revolution, and crushed the resistance against the Sith Empire’s conquest of Corellia. He’s the kind that does not suffer failure, executing Sith and Imperial generals that let him down.”

    Gault asked, “But does he pay his bills?”

    Kathten, stifling a chortle, replied, “I don’t have evidence that he does not.”

    Wrehn asked, “What does he want mercenaries for? It seems he already has Imperial troops to command. Why does he want to hire mercenaries?”

    “I don’t know all the details, I’m still digging, but it seems that there’s some Empire on Empire violence going on. I think the Imperial Military is split between the two factions of Sith….”

    Wrehn interrupted, asking, “So, he needs a mercenary army to augment his forces?”

    Shrugging his shoulders, Kathten answered, “It’s as good a guess as mine.”

    Gault proposed, “Or he doesn’t trust the troops around him.”

    Torian added his assessment, “If Gault is right, then Darth Nox is on the losing side of the divided Sith.”

    Wrehn told Kathten, “I’ll talk to him. Get us connected.”

    Kathten, nodded curtly and cut the connection.

    Wrehn observed thoughtfully, “If he really wanted an army, he would have talked to Mandalore, not to me. He want’s body guards.”

    Torian nodded his agreement, adding, “So, you’ll have to subcontract a few more crews to make up a big enough force to counter any Imperial troops that might betray Darth Nox.”

    Gault interjected, “I don’t like the idea of splitting our winnings with too many partners. Let’s not go crazy hiring too many.”

    Mako finally spoke, “I found something on the holo-net. A big time Sith just declared himself Emperor of the Sith Empire, and he’s got half the Empire on his side. This isn’t just some Sith dispute, it’s a full out civil war!”

    Gault became excited, exclaiming, “Oh, wow! That is big news, and that means big opportunities to make big credits.” Turning to Wrehn, Gault asked, “How much were you thinking of charging him?”

    “I’m going to start the negotiations at a hundred and fifty million.”

    Everyone fell silent as they each mulled over their own feelings and thoughts on the situation.

    Mako said, “We should see what he says first, before we name our price. I don’t want us getting priced out of a job ‘cause we got stupid greedy.”

    Skaage asked, “What’s wrong with being greedy?”

    Gault seconded, “Yeah, Mako. What’s wrong with asking for more?” Then he quickly added, “But I’m with you. We should talk to this Sith, first. I don’t want us selling ourselves short, either.

    Wrehn ordered, “Get your gear ready. If they’re having a civil war, then we got to gear up for a war.”

    With that, her crew got up from their seats and filed to the top of the stairs to make their way to their respective quarters on the main deck, below. Wrehn returned to her captain’s quarters in the opposite direction, forking another mouthful of Mako’s cooking as she walked.
     
  13. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    Oh boy......they're already negotiating how many credits to take from this job but they're probably in for a surprise when they actually meet him! And "“I found something on the holo-net" sounds a lot like "I googled some stuff online", haha.
     
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  14. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Mako is talking to her crew mates and to her boss, Wrehn - WHILE she's surfing the galactic holo-net - with her direct brain connection via her cyber implants. You know how it is when you've been away from the Internet for too long... Imagine what it's like for someone who's directly connected to it.

    She could be doing the book keeping while surfing pr0n on the holo-net.... LOLOL
     
  15. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Who says she doesn't browse those "adult" websites while she's doing the books? :p
     
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  16. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    NOTE: I made the decision to say that Togrutas tattoo their markings, choosing bright colors and the like, because I wanted to show (later) that Ashara Zavros had chosen her dark colors after a fateful decision she made in her life. Although it's not exactly canon, it is generally believed that Togrutans have their bright colors and patterns naturally as a result of biology. Which makes no sense to me at all.​
    _______________________________________________________________________________________​
    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 7​
    Sitting in a padded chair in the command and control section, Gault had his face planted in his palm. He shook his head slowly as he worked not to laugh out loud at what he’d just learned. Torian had on a look of deep concentration. Mako stared blankly at the holo-transceiver, not so much staring at it as staring through it.

    Skaage laughed out loud, observing, “Well, your ship looks real nice with that fancy paint job you got for it. I’m glad I busted my rump helping Gault scraping the hull for you. We can set up a nice patio outside and look at how nice the ship looks. And don’t worry. We won’t remind you your ship can’t fly! Hey! Let's throw a party for….”

    Yehw-reh-nomai furiously shouted at the Houk, “Shut your fat mouth Skaage! I don’t want to hear it!”

    Looking at the rest of her crew, she knew they were all probably thinking of packing their gear and calling it a career. She tried to reassure her crew.

    “Torian, you had part of the plan I already had in mind when you suggested we hire some additional crews. I intend to hire one of the Mandalore’s Hammer Naval Group’s frigates. The Razor’s Edge is not only a fighting ship, but it can house a hundred troops in addition to the ship’s crew and complement.”

    Gault asked, “How do you intend to keep the captain of the Razor’s Edge from taking over your operation? How will you keep the leaders of the other mercenary teams you want to hire in line? Once they find out you don’t even have your own ship...”

    Wrehn snapped, “I’ll be acting as a contractor, with the other teams and the ship as subcontractors! You know me, Gault. I won’t let anybody step on my toes. I’m going to need you guys to help me keep the subcontractors in line, though.”

    Torian finally spoke, “Two hundred fifty million.”

    The crew fell silent as they thought on Torian’s estimation of what Wrehn would need to ask to pay for the hired ship and at least forty five mercenaries.

    Gault thought out loud, “Fifty million to hire the frigate, and maybe another fifteen million for the mercenaries. That’s sixty five million. I wouldn’t mind asking for two hundred fifty million, but…

    Torian interrupted, “Gault, it’s a civil war between the Sith. Mandalorians are going to charge a premium. We’re going to find ourselves also picking sides and fighting each other. We’re going to charge extra for that. This is a time for price gouging. It’ll be a hundred million for the frigate, and fifty million for just one platoon of mercenaries. That’s two hundred million right there, and those are optimistic estimates. It could end up being more.”

    Gault, starting to show concern, asked, “Then we only make fifty million after paying the extra help? I don’t like it.”

    Mako suggested, “Why not get Imperial troops and pay them instead? They’re used to being way underpaid anyway. We could offer them a few million and they’d be excited to take it.”

    Gault, really liking the idea, suggested, “I’ll smooth talk the Imps.” Looking at Wrehn, he suggested, “You and Torian handle hiring the frigate.”

    Wrehn smiling at Mako, replied, “I hope Imperial troops like money.” Turning her smile towards Gault, she added, “If they like duty and honor more, your suggestion could end up with a few of us under arrest on bribery charges.”

    Skaage not catching the finer points Wrehn had pointed out, scoffed at her, “Since when are you scared of bribing anyone? You do it all the time.”

    Mako spelled it out for the Houk, “Skaage, bribery works most of the time, but when it’s a civil war, everyone changes sides, and you don’t know who’s on what side anymore. So, you got to be careful who you’re bribing.”

    Skaage’s facade took on a look of deep concentration, as he mulled over Mako’s words.

    As he pondered the matter, Gault interrupted him, poking his massive bicep with his finger, and teasingly chided the brute.

    “Skaage, you’re going to sprain your brain if you keep that up! I need you alert while I talk to the Imps.”

    Skaage felt terribly insulted, and countered, “I’m in good shape! I ain’t gonna sprain nothing!”

    Gault veiled another insult behind a compliment, replying, “Good! I need your strong muscles! Your brain can’t do any heavy lifting, so let’s use your muscles instead. Your muscles are what’s important for our next job.”

    Skaage was close to realizing he’d been called stupid, but was easily distracted by Gault flexing his biceps and challenging him.

    “Come on Skaage. Show me what you got.”

    Skaage proudly flexed his biceps, each bigger than Gault’s thighs.

    Gault spoke excitedly, to cover his amusement at Skaage’s expense.

    “That’s what I’m talking about! Those are some big blaster cannons! Those’ll come in more handy than your lack of acumen!”

    Gault stood beside Skaage, comparing flexed biceps with the bruiser. Again, Skaage had the feeling that something about Gault’s wording seemed a bit off, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

    Skaage gave up on figuring out how he’d been ridiculed, and instead asked, “Why do you need my strong muscles for anyway, Gault? I thought you was gonna talk to ‘em.”

    Gault replied in his usual used speeder salesman manner of speaking, “Well, it’s simple, Skaage. You’re gonna show how big and strong you are so that the Imps don’t get the wrong idea and think that I don’t have any backup. It’s not important that you lack sagacity.” Poking Skaage’s biceps again, he concluded, “You got it where it really counts.”

    Mako, shaking her head disapprovingly remarked, “You just love playing with fire. Don’t you, Gault?”

    Straining to hold back his laughter, Gault gave a smile that was too wide, making him look more devilish than usual.

    He replied, his grin widening, “Life would be boring otherwise.” Turning to Skaage for confirmation, he asked, “Ain’t that right Skaage?”

    Skaage answered, “I like working here. There’s always something fun to do.”

    In a very businesslike tone, Mako observed, “This is the very reason why we do our jobs, because there is always something fun in our jobs to do, like taking this incoming call from a very official-looking Imperial government holo-frequency, for example.”

    Skaage asked, “What’s so fun about…”

    Wrehn cut him off, “Shut it, Skaage!” Then, “Mako, put it though.”

    Gault took one of the open seats around the holo-terminal in the command and communications section of Wrehn’s ship, as the holographic image of a female Togrutan with a very aggressive and forebodingly dark pattern tattooed onto her face, montrals, and probably, her neck appeared (She wore armor with a high protective collar that hid her neck and throat from view).

    Most Togrutans wore their clan colors, tattooing them onto their faces, montrals, and necks. Sometimes they even tattooed patterns onto their shoulders, arms, hands, and even onto their chests. The Togrutan clans usually liked using bright yellows, blues, reds, and other bright natural colors with small hints of white and, very rarely, black.

    This Togrutan was very, very different. Her markings were predominantly black and white, more black than white, with one splash of bright red on her face. She wore black robes with bright red markings. Underneath her robes, she wore a flexible very heavy synthetic fabric armor with metal plate armor sections riveted onto the flexible armored fabric. This armor was also black with bright red markings. Her knee high boots had metal shin guards that ended in a spike, pointing up and away, above the knee.

    Wrehn thought of her shin guards, “Very handy for kneeing someone to death.

    The Togruta spoke somberly, “I am Ashara Zavros, Lord of the Sith. My master, Darth Nox, Dark Lord of the Sith, will speak to you shortly. Before he does, I will convey to you the proper decorum to use when addressing him.”

    Wrehn interrupted, speaking brusquely, “We’re Mandalorians, here. We don’t have or need decorum. We only need to do business. If he has a job for us, we’ll hear him out, but if he thinks we’re going to bend and wallow for him, he’s gonna be real disappointed. If he’s done business with Mandalorians before, then he should already know this.”

    The Togrutan remained amazingly calm as she replied, “What you have said is true when dealing with ordinary Sith lords. However, this is no ordinary Sith lord. He is a dark lord, seated on the Dark Council. At the very least, be respectful to him and remember to address him as, Dark Lord. I will now advise my lord that you are awaiting his presence.”

    The Togrutan’s image vanished. Mako and Gault both spoke up, “Wrehn..,” “Boss…,”

    Gault told Mako, “You first.”

    Mako cautioned Wrehn, “Boss, don’t push it with him. I’ve been doing research on him. I think we should be careful with him. Sith Politics is kind of tricky. He’s got to destroy anything that makes him even appear the least bit weak – just to send a message to the other Sith that he’s not weak.”

    Gault said, “When doing business with a rancor, it’s important NOT to poke the rancor’s hide, not even with a very long stick.”

    Wrehn expected Mako to have information on their client, since Mako was connected to the Holo-Net via her cybernetic implants, but Gault surprised her.

    “Gault, what do you know about this Sith? What’s got you spooked?”

    Gault replied matter-of-factly, “He’s on the Dark Council, Wrehn. He has to have murdered his way up to that post. He’s got to have some real spooky credentials to be able to be where he’s at. What more do you really need to know to be careful about how you deal with him?”

    The Togrutan’s holographic image returned.

    “The dark lord has been called away to an urgent conference. He has charged me with negotiating the contract with you, and with coordinating your part in his plans.”

    Wrehn, getting straight to business, asked, “So, what’s the job?”

    Ashara Zavros asked, “How much do you know of what’s happening, currently?”

    Wrehn asked, “You really having a civil war?” Then she remarked, “You’re not even done fighting with the Republic, yet. What? Is the Republic starting to bore you?”

    Ashara ignored the impertinent inquiries and comments, replying, “A civil war is a good way of putting it.” Then getting to the point, she went on to explain, “Darth Malgus, an agent of the Dark Council, has committed treason. He has usurped the Imperial Throne, elevating himself above the Dark Council and declaring himself Emperor in a direct affront to the true Sith Emperor.

    “He has subverted much of the Empire, gaining the support of many moffs, high admirals and generals, as well as the support of several prominent Sith lords. Additionally, he has garnered the political support of foreign governing bodies. The Hutts have shown him favor by lending him trillions of credits to finance his war of treason and rebellion, and the Voss have sent emissaries to observe his battle against the true Sith Emperor and his loyal followers.

    “My lord, Darth Nox, is leading the war against Darth Malgus, the usurper, but we have found many spies, saboteurs, and subversive elements within the Imperial Navy and Army, because of this, my lord must endure the humiliation of relying on hired mercenaries to follow him in battle.”

    Wrehn asked carefully, “Am I hearing you correctly? He doesn’t trust his own forces?” Then, with much incredulity, she asked, “Is he looking to hire a Mandalorian army to fight the Imperial Army?”

    Ashara maintained her cool demeanor as she replied, “He trusts his Imperial forces to fight in the name of the Sith Emperor against those rebellious scum who have abandoned their loyalty to the true Emperor in favor of supporting a charlatan and usurper. Darth Nox, however, does not trust them to watch his back.

    “The Army has proven to be subject to subversion. Mercenaries, on the other hand, are only subject to whoever signs a contract for their paid services, and the Mandalorians have a proven track record of honoring their contracts.”

    Wrehn, looking pointedly at Gault, observed aloud, “So, hiring Imperial troops on the cheap is out of the question.” Then addressing Ashara Zavros, “How many Mandalorian warriors does he want on his – security detail?

    Ashara nodded, confirming, “Security detail is a good way to put it, but the dark lord also sees it as his personal additional firepower.” The Sith lord concluded, “Twenty Mandalorian warriors should be enough.”

    Shaking her head in the negative, Wrehn disagreed, telling the Sith lord, “I think he’s going to need no less than sixty Mandalorians. Two heavy combat platoons with overpowered weapons. If he’s worried that his Imperial troops will turn on him at the last moment, then we’ll have to be ready to survive betrayal and destroy the traitors.

    “That is NOT going to be cheap. We’ll have to use responsive-shielded armor – rated to withstand blaster cannon fire, and we’ll need weaponry capable of destroying heavy Imperial war droids. It’s going to be a blood bath.”

    Wrehn fell silent and, lowering her chin to her cupped hand, took on a look of great concentration, as though she were calculating the costs in her head. Ashara Zavros’ image looked on silently as she waited for Wrehn to make her proposal. Mako, Gault, and Torian looked intently at Wrehn, waiting to see what price she would exact from the Sith.

    Skaage observed, “This job is gonna be a ton of fun. We’re gonna do a whole lotta fighting and killing and blasting things to pieces!”

    Wrehn finally looked up at Ashara’s waiting holographic image and named her price, “One billion credits, with seven hundred million in advance for upfront costs.”


    Ashara’s eyes widened in surprise, but before she could protest, Wrehn itemized the expenses.

    “I need to hire a frigate to transport the troops. I need to negotiate the contracts with the clan leaders of each platoon of mercenaries. I’ll likely have to purchase their weapons and armor, or replace their damaged weapons and armor. That’s a business expense. Finally, I’ll likely have to pay a bereavement bonus for each mercenary killed in action to their next of kin. Gods forbid if the Imperial Navy attacks and destroys my hired frigate! Then I’ve got my own expenses to worry about for my own crew.”

    Seeing the look on Ashara’s face, Wrehn pointed out, “If you think I’m gouging you, then consider that I’m going to get gouged by the crews I hire, especially the Mandalorian Navy frigate. According to you, my crews might run the risk of getting jettisoned into space if I rely on subverted Imperial naval forces for transport.

    I wanted to charge you lower prices, it’s why I wanted to bribe Imperial troops, but you said Imp troops are a no go, that they can’t be trusted. Since you’re fighting a civil war and can’t trust who’s on whose side, that’s how it has to go. One billion credits with seven hundred million in advance for upfront costs.”

    Ashara, opened her mouth to speak, but then closed it again and closed her eyes, too. She seemed to go into meditation for a time. When she opened her eyes again, she declared, “Very well. We have a deal.”

    Wrehn fought against her elation, barely managing to maintain a sober expression.

    “Mako, draw up the contract, and transmit it to our client for their signature.”

    Mako, not trusting herself to speak, managed a single worded response, “Right.”

    Gault and Torian both looked at Skaage. Their eyes bore into him as though they were willing him to keep silent, Skaage was Skaage, however. No amount of powerful willing was going to keep him from saying his piece.

    “Now that’s what I’m talking about! We’re gonna go on a killing spree!”

    Wrehn, straining to hold back her panic, used every reserve of calm that she could muster and spoke to him in a very calm and reserved manner.

    “Shut it, Skaage. I don’t want to hear it.”

    Mako spoke, “I have received the signed contract.”

    Wrehn’s personal datapad hummed and vibrated on her utility belt. She pulled it out of its compartment and read the message on its screen.

    “From: Cignos Statti Bank of Nar Shaddaa. To: Yehw’reh’nomai. Esteemed banking customer, 700,000,000 credits, Imperial currency, have been deposited to your account, bringing your total to 689,395,231 credits, Hutt currency. Have a bountiful day!”

    Wrehn looked up at Ashara’s image and said dryly, “We’ll be ready in a galactic standard week. Where do you want us?”

    The Sith Lord replied, “I’ll contact you with those details in a few days.”

    Ashara cut the connection and her holographic image was gone.

    Wrehn, Gault, Mako, and Torian stared blankly at the empty space above the holo-terminal for a few seconds, before Wrehn finally let out an ear splitting, high pitched “WOOOOOOO!!!!” Followed by a full-throated, “YEAAAAHHHH!!!

    Mako jumped up and down, shouting in jubilation. Torian wore a very big smile. Nodding towards Wrehn, he gave her his congratulations, speaking first in Mando’a, then translating it into Basic for the benefit of the others.

    “That means, ‘Congratulations, Commander! You have done a very great thing!”

    Gault, applauding enthusiastically, said, “Wrehn, you’ve outdone yourself! This has got to be the greatest con I have ever witnessed in my life! I don’t think I’ll be able to top that for a very long time.” Turning to Torian, he said, “Torian, remember. Say it in Basic, the first time, every time!”

    Skaage declared happily, “Yeah! We’re gonna blow a lot of crap up! That’s what I’m talking about!”
     
  17. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Skaage may be acting kind of juvenile, but he does sum up the situation pretty accurately. They're gonna get paid boocoo bucks to blow crap up.
     
  18. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Orighinally, I was gonna do this:

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________​

    The cheering and jubilation came to crashing halt when Skaage observed, "Our contract says we don't get more than one million credits per job if the reward is greater than ten million." Then he asked, "So, how come you all are so happy?"

    No one answered him.

    As Wrehn looked at each of her crew, she could see the apprehension and fear of disappointment in their eyes, as Skaage declared happily, "Well, at least we get to blow a lot of crap up! That's what I'm talking about!"

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________________​
    But I changed my mind and decided to end this chapter on a high note instead.​
     
  19. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    Ashara! [face_love] I just find her such a fascinating character and it's great you gave a detailed description of her attire because now she's even cooler. I also like that you have the Togruta tattooing their markings.

    "Mako cautioned Wrehn, “Boss, don’t push it with him. I’ve been doing research on him." --- Holo-net Google again, am i right?
     
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  20. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017

    You called it! She's googling the holo-net all the time! Hell! Who know's how many troll posts she's put up on Force-chan (4-chan)?

    [​IMG]
     
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  21. gizkaspice

    gizkaspice Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 27, 2013
    Let's hope Nox doesn't find any troll posts about him or he might just break the holo-net I'm guessing (potential random plot bunny for you :p )
     
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  22. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    A couple of Notes:

    1) I wrote Skadge's name incorrectly as "Skaage." The correct spelling is "Skadge."

    2) I forgot what was the other note I was gonna make. So, I'll just type this, until I remember what it is.

    3) I remembered what it was! I was off-line for a good while, because I was building a new computer to replace my old one. The new machine is still a bit buggy, and I'm still working on it, but so far, it really looks nice. Now, if I could only work out the bugs....

    Please enjoy part 8.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 8​


    Wrehn jerked her head up as a flight of Imperial fighters’ startled her with their banshee’s roar, as they streaked across a star littered sky on their way to a bombing run.

    The anti-air ion cannon remained motionless, neither tracking nor shooting at the low flying fighter bombers as they passed low overhead.

    Wrehn figured, “Then those were friendlies. I hope.

    She wore her brand new heavy, responsive, full body armored suit for this mission. The new armored suit had built in personal, adaptive environmental control systems to keep the wearer cool in hot environments, or warm in cold environments. It also boasted intelligent responsive protective systems, designed to detect and avoid threats by actually dodging incoming attacks. It did this by activating actuators that moved the suit, and its occupant, out of harm’s way. This system could also intelligently determine which shield array to activate depending on the type of incoming threat detected.

    The average cost of these suits was around one and three quarters of a million credits, and she’d bought one for herself and for each of her crew. Skadge’s and Mako’s suits cost the most, because they were off sizes. Skadge’s suit was huge, and Mako’s was very small. As for her sixty hired mercenaries, they brought their own equipment.

    Wrehn briefly inspected a few of them, in the dim starlit ice field, thinking, “It’s nothing as fancy, but it’s not crap.

    She watched as her two hired platoons of heavily armored Mandalorian warriors, unloaded crates of munitions and field portable battery chargers from their shuttle craft. Those were important. As personal force shield generators or blast shield generators depleted their batteries, the batteries would need to be quickly recharged. The same was true for their blaster rifles. Those also used batteries that needed recharging in the field.

    The portable battery chargers were actually, droids on tracks. The droids would follow the platoons, staying out of trouble, but remaining constantly ready to accept and recharge batteries.

    Wrehn thought about how important droids were to everyone in everyday life. Even her very expensive all environment, powered, armored suit was really just a droid that she put on. She was wearing a droid that not only protected her from the very cold – just a few degrees above liquefying – atmosphere of Ilum, but she was armored against pretty much anything short of a strafing or bombing run from enemy fighter craft. Plus, the suit assisted her movements. She could march for tens of kilometers, carrying a very heavy load, with little effort. The suit did the heaving lifting for her.

    Wrehn, standing with her crew, watched as the two leaders of her hired platoons approached her. A long series of flashing lights reflected off the bottoms of clouds in the horizon, lighting up the entire landscape and casting eerie shadows across the surfaces of the frozen water and frozen carbon dioxide ice fields. The illuminated clouds of methane, reflecting the light of the distant explosions, were themselves reflected off the surface of the methane lake nearby.

    The planet was so far out in orbit from its star, that the star appeared as though it were just a very bright, extra large star in a night sky filled with smaller normal sized stars. Yet, it was high noon – in the middle of summer – on this part of Ilum. The frozen water and carbon dioxide ice made Ilum’s landscape glow, as the light of the stars and Ilum’s super distant sun dimly lit up the world.

    The two Mandalorian leaders came to a stop before Wrehn. One of them spoke to Wren in the Mandalorian language.

    “I greet you, Sister. Will we join that glorious battle on the horizon?”

    Wrehn disappointed him, speaking in the Mandalorian language.

    “No. That’s not our fight. That fight might even end up being pointless.”

    “How so, Sister?”

    “The leaders of these armies are going to join in battle, and we shall support one faction against the other. The survivor of that battle shall determine who is Emperor of the Sith.”

    Torian Cadera spoke up, “From here on out, Brother, refer to her as Commander, or Great Hunt Champion.”

    The commander replied, “I meant no disrespect, Brother...,” His helmeted head swiveled towards Wrehn, as he finished his reply, “Commander.”

    Wrehn cut in, issuing orders.

    “Torian, you go with Captain Tartan. You’ll lead his platoon, with Captain Tartan issuing the commands to his men.”

    “Understood, Commander.”

    Wrehn’s helmet swiveled towards Gault Rennow, “Gault, you go with Lieutenant Dremon. You’ll lead her platoon, with Lieutenant Dremon issuing the commands to her men.”

    Gault replied, “You got it, Boss.”

    Captain Tartan, Lieutenant Dremon, Torian, and Wrehn were all Mandalorian. Wrehn’s helm was already pointed towards Gault, but the three others all swiveled their helms as they regarded Gault’s lax behavior.

    Gault explained, “I’m not Mandalorian, like you four. I don’t have to call her Commander.”

    Switching to a private channel, that only her own crew could receive, Wrehn spoke directly to him in a warning tone.

    “Gault, don’t make me regret putting you in charge of these troops. Don’t embarrass me in front of them again. For this job, you’re calling me, Commander. You got that?”

    Gault sighed and replied a bit peeved, “Yeah, sure. Fine.”

    Switching back to the general channel, she issued her next orders.

    “Mako, Skadge, you’re both with me.” Before the two could reply, she quickly went on, “In a couple of minutes, three Imperial drop ships will land here. They’ll transport us all to the insertion point at the enemy’s command and control center. Imperial forces loyal to the incumbent Emperor, are fighting for control of this planet with revolting Imperial forces supporting the challenger to the throne. This planet has a very valuable mineral resource that they just took from the Republic and the Jedi.

    “Whoever controls this mineral resource will gain a technological advantage over the other. That’s all I know about what’s at stake on this planet, but also at stake is the Imperial throne. My client, a dark councilor wants us to escort him and his party, to the insertion point, and to deliver them safely to the command center and to the Sith who decided to call himself emperor out of the blue.

    “We’ll be linking up with this Sith delegation, soon. So be on your best behavior and watch what you say around them. I don’t know if any of you have worked closely with the Sith before, but they can get really touchy over the stupidest things.”

    Soon, Wrehn would forget her own advice.

    Captain Tartan asked, “Commander, you ever deal with the Sith before?”

    “Yeah, a few years back, I took a job from a moff, whose daughter was a Sith lord, Vereta Fraabaal, working for another Sith that got on the wrong side of Sith politics on Dromund Kaas. The Dark Council was gonna send Imperial troops to wipe these guys out.

    “The moff hired me to assassinate his daughter, to preserve her honor and to spare the rest of his family from the fallout that was gonna affect his whole clan for having ties with the wrong Sith.”

    Wrehn laughed, then added, “We ended up freezing her in carbonite, smuggling her out of her bosses’ compound, and taking her back to her dad. He cried like a baby, thanking us to high heaven and giving us a bonus. But his daughter, Vereta Fraabaal, swore to kill us for rescuing her instead of killing her honorably, ‘cause now she owed us a debt.”

    Wrehn laughed again. Torian and Gault laughed with her.

    Lieutenant Dremon asked, “She never came after you, eh, Commander?”

    Wrehn replied, “Oh, no! She came after us a few times while we was still on Dromund Kaas. We shot her up pretty good, but her shield generator lasted long enough for her to get away, but we ended up shooting off one of her arms below the elbow. She stopped coming after us, after that.”

    Mako spoke, “Uh… Commander, here comes company.”

    She pointed, and everyone turned to look. Wrehn could see nothing but the black sky with its powdering of stars. She activated her helmet’s visual enhancement filters, and saw three craft flying very low, following the terrain, as they popped up and down over the peaks of frozen carbon dioxide covered mountain ridges.

    As the ships neared, Torian spoke, “Commander, have we been given IFF codes to screen for friendlies and bad guys?”

    Wrehn looked at the bottom right corner of her in-helmet display, and saw that the IFF indicator was faded out, meaning it hadn’t been activated. She cursed herself as she corrected that error. A second later, the three approaching craft, were highlighted with green borders. The others in her crew, and her hired mercenaries were all updated with the IFF codes as well.

    As the ships made their final approach to land, it became clear that these were the three Imperial drop ships they’d been waiting for. The three craft landed, kicking up clouds of frozen carbon dioxide and frozen water crystals.

    Wrehn began to walk towards the drop ships, calling out, “Skadge, Mako, come with me. The rest of you join your platoons.”

    Torian and Gault followed their respective Mandalorian officers to their respective platoons of mercenary fighters, as Mako and Skadge followed Wrehn to the far edge of the landing field.

    The ship to Wrehn’s left was the only one to show activity, as a single individual exited from an airlock. The individual, in an ordinary space suit approached Wrehn’s small party. The individual was taller, and bulkier than Skadge, and was armed with an oversized savage looking vibrosword, which he carried in his hand.

    As he came to a stop before the trio, he spoke, “I am here to confirm that you are the wretches my master’s mistress has hired to be his fodder.”

    Wrehn replied to the taunt in a neutral tone, reining in a scathing retort.

    “We’ll be the most expensive fodder he’s ever hired, and he’ll be surprised at how much damage us fodder will do to his enemies.”

    The behemoth, dwarfing even Skadge, stepped around Wrehn and her small party, and looked in the direction of her hired guns.

    He said, “You will be overworked. We will battle our way to a great enemy. You should have brought more fighters.” Turning to face Wrehn, he ordered, “Load your trash onto those two ships.” The behemoth pointed at the two ships from which he did not emerge.

    Wrehn gave her orders, “Torian, Gault get your troops on board the middle and right-most drop ships.”

    To the behemoth, Wrehn said, “I’m getting on the ship you got out of. I need to talk to your master and make final arrangements with him.”

    The monster, towering over Wrehn and Skadge both, replied, “I will not permit filth to be in the presence of my masher. You may,….”

    Wrehn had enough, “Listen, you lump of bio-waste, I’ve had it with your crap talk! I’m providing a service to your master, not you! I need to be in his face to work out the details, BEFORE we land at the insertion point.” Pointing at Skadge and Mako in turn, she added, “And I’m taking these two with me. So, if there ain’t enough room on your master’s ship, then YOU can ride on one of the other ships.”

    The monster behemoth remained silent, as his hand and arm moved as though it could not decide whether to raise his savage weapon in preparation of swinging it down on the vermin before him, or instead reach for a button on the forearm of his other arm. After a moment of indecision, his hand finally pushed the button on the space suit bracer on his other arm.

    The monster growled menacingly, “Stay here.”

    Then it turned away, making its way back to the ship from which he’d come. As the behemoth waited outside the airlock, another, much smaller, figure emerged and descended the ladder on the side of the drop ship. Meanwhile, Torian and Gault led their troops, laden with their equipment and their crates of supplies, up the rear ramps of the other drop ships.

    The monster and the normal sized figure both approached Wrehn’s party of three. It was definitely a Sith Lord. The individual wore a lightsaber on each hip. The Sith stopped before Wrehn, somehow knowing which was the leader, and spoke without preamble.

    “If you are not careful with your tone of voice, the dark lord may slay you, and order your teams killed. The dark lord will allow you on his ship. Only you. The others shall board the other shuttles.”

    Wrehn realized the Sith was Ashara Zavros.

    “You’re pretty mild mannered – for a Sith.”

    The behemoth instantly drew his weapon from the bracket on his back, making as though to attack, but Ashara stuck her arm out, holding back the monster.

    “It is my most fervent desire to see my lord succeed. I believe that with his influence, the Dark Council shall be satisfied with complete conquest over the Galactic Republic, and with their conquest the wars shall end.”

    The arm she held out slowly swung forward, and her spread open fingers balled up, except her index finger, which she used to point at Wrehn’s helmeted face.

    “I will slay you myself if I think you will get in his way. Do NOT disrespect my lord. Do you understand me?”

    Wrehn, not wanting to lose out on the remaining three hundred million credits owed for this contract, decided to tone down the attitude.

    Raising both hands as though surrendering, she replied, “Alright, already. I get it. You want me to behave and show some manners. I get it. OK?”

    Turning to face Skadge and Mako, she told them, “Get on the other drop ships. Looks like I gotta take care of the last minute details on my own.”

    Mako replied, “I’ll try to keep in contact to help you with the numbers, if you need it.”

    Wrehn said, “Mako, I can at least do math on my own.” Turning to follow Ashara and the beast to their master’s drop ship, Wrehn added, “But keep your ears open anyway, just in case something happens. You know?”

    Mako replied, “Yeah. I’ll be ready to instantly correct your math mistakes.”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Wrehn sat in the last seat, at the back of the drop ship. The Sith all sat at the head of the troop compartment of the drop ship. All of them wore space suits with their helmets off. She overheard them talk. They planned to remove their space suits once they had entered the base. They expected that, inside the base, the temperatures would be at normal settings for the survival of Imperial personnel. She counted six Sith in all, plus that monstrous beast. She later found it had a name, Khem Val.

    Wrehn thought in dismay, “Why didn’t I just do what that monster told me and ride with the others?!

    She couldn’t believe her luck. One of the Sith was the daughter of the moff that she’d smuggled to her father instead of killing, Vereta Fraabaal.

    Wrehn had kept her helmet on, worried that the crazy Sith would just go after her right inside the drop ship.

    “Mako.” Wrehn spoke in very low tones over her crew’s private channel. “You’re not going to believe who’s on the drop ship with me.”

    Facetiously, the cybernetically enhanced human female asked, “Wait! Let me guess! Darth Nox?”

    “Vereta Fraabaal.”

    Mako laughed raucously.

    “Wrehn, you got some real strange luck!”

    Wrehn only sighed and shook her head in disbelief.

    Finally, Darth Nox himself rose from his seat and made his way to the back of the drop ship.

    He sat in the seat across from hers and ordered, “Remove your helm. I want to see whom I’m speaking with.”

    Wrehn lied, “This particular suit model has the helmet permanently attached to the chest piece.”

    Nox replied, “I can sense your fear, and I can tell that you’ve lied to me. Do not do that again. Now, remove your helm.”

    She hesitated, but decided, “There’s no helping it.

    With a hiss of the escaping climate controlled air inside her suit, she unsealed and unseated her helmet.

    As Nox studied her face, Wrehn could hear Vereta’s voice, “What? No, it can’t be...” Then silence returned, as Nox turned his gaze to regard the Sith.

    Returning his gaze to Wrehn, he observed, “She seems to know who you are.” Then he asked, “You’ve met before?”

    Wrehn said, “It was complicated business. I make it a policy not to discuss other client’s business deals. So, let’s leave it at that.”

    Nox was about to speak, but Wrehn cut him off, “Think of how well I’ll protect the secrets of our business deals together. If I’m not gonna talk about my other clients’ business with you, then you can bet that I’ll keep our business deals quiet, too.”

    Nox nodded his acceptance of that explanation, then went on to explain his plan.

    “Imperial forces shall breach the base perimeter air locks and enter the base. We shall follow behind my forces. You will provide security for me and my special operations team. When we have reached the usurper, you shall provide security, keeping all enemies from reinforcing the false emperor.”

    Wrehn asked, “You won’t need me and my troops in your fight with the uh…., False Emperor?”

    Khem Val interjected angrily, “Filth! You shall address him as Dark Lord!”

    Wrehn was about to tell Khem Val to plug his mouth hole shut, but instead she told him, reasonably, “I’m a Mandalorian. He ain’t my lord. He’s my client.”

    Then she fell silent, waiting for Nox to answer her question, and waiting for the fireworks to begin.

    Vereta spoke, her voice shaking with fury, “Let me slay this vile scum, Dark Lord!”

    Nox produced a small pad of flimsiplast, used to take short hurried notes by scrawling with the pressure of one’s finger across its surface. He folded it into ever smaller squares until it was a very small and tight square. He then flicked it at Wrehn’s face.

    The impact the folded page on her cheek made an explosive crack of sound, and snapped her head back. Fortunately for her, the raised back collar of her armored suit prevented her head from snapping all the way back, or her neck would have broken. Her entire mass was shoved back against the seat she sat on, causing the metal frame of her seat to warp out of true.

    He told her, “Do not try my patience. I’m worked up to a killing frenzy, and I could just as easily start my killing spree with you.”

    Wrehn unsealed and unseated her armored glove. She touched her cheek, which stung painfully. Her hand came away with blood.

    As she removed her other glove, Darth Nox leaned back in his seat, watching impassively, as Wrehn applied an ointment onto her face to stop the bleeding.

    Nox said, “I forgot your question. Ask it again.”

    Wrehn knew she was backed into a corner.

    She felt she was swallowing back bile, but it was her fury that she swallowed back, and her pride, as she repeated her question.

    “You won’t need me and my troops in your fight with that false emperor, uh…, Dark Lord?”

    Darth Nox smiled, nodding approval of her fearlessness. Even though he felt that her fearlessness was born out of ignorance of his power and what he was capable of.

    “Remember to address me as such, from here on out. Do you understand?”

    “Sure, Dark Lord.” Her face was cast down in shame, and her anger made her voice low.

    Nox cocked his head and cupped his hand to his ear, as though he had trouble hearing.

    Wrehn snarled, “Yes, Dark Lord.”

    Khem Val snorted, and spoke angrily, “Filth! You have no power! You aught not speak as though you held power! Know your place! Or die!”

    Wrehn shook her head, saying, “Dark Lord, my troops and I will provide you the best customer service your money is paying for. You don’t have to worry about how much firepower we’re packing! We’ll keep your Sith safe and sound, Dark Lord.”

    Nox turned to face the forward end of the crew compartment, and said, “Lord Ashara, you’ve failed to convey to these mercenaries how to conduct themselves in my presence. I’ll have to do it for you.”

    With that, he held his hand out towards Wrehn, palm up, as though he’d expected her to put something in it. Wrehn felt searing pain on her cheek again, as a bloody projectile shot out of her face and snapped to a stop, hovering over the palm of his hand, dripping her blood into the palm of his hand.

    Wrehn clutched at her face, gritting her teeth and growling in agony. It felt as though a piece of her flesh had been torn out from inside of her cheek. She looked at the dark lord as he subtly waved his other hand, and an unseen force pried her hands away from her face.

    The bloodied folded flimsiplast, hovering over his palm shot into her face again. Wrehn screamed, from the increased pain. Then the blood soaked wad of flimsiplast ripped itself out of her face again.

    Nox leaned back again, waiting for Wrehn to look at him.

    When she did, he said, “We could do this all the way to the drop point. Have you appointed anyone to take your place, should you die? Who is your second in command?”

    Wrehn realized she was going to die on the eave of making the biggest bank of her hunting career.

    She decided to swallow her pride, and said, “You have made your point very clear, Dark Lord. For the money you’re paying, I should be much more polite. I apologize.”

    Darth Nox said, “Ordinarily, I don’t accept apologies alone. I usually accept them with tributes attached. Think of a tribute that you can offer me, one that will ease my wrath towards you.”

    A small shudder and bump told the occupants of the drop ship that they had arrived to the insertion point.

    Wrehn applied a thick slathering of the ointment to the ragged wound on her cheek, plus a small dose of kolto, to deaden the pain. She didn’t want her mind fogged up by the side effects of kolto, even though her face felt as though it were on fire. She replaced her helm, as did the Sith and the monster named Khem Val.

    She got her gloves back on and activated her helmet electronics.

    Immediately, Mako was on, “Wrehn! What happened, you were out of comm! We couldn’t reach you! Is everything alright?”

    The sounds of explosions thumped through Wrehn’s helm as the ramp dropped down.

    She replied, as she walked down the lowered ramp instead of using the side airlock, “I’m still alive. Aren’t I?”
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    Darth_Drachonus likes this.
  23. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    EDIT: Editing of the borked formating completed.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________​
    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 9
    The crushed, dented, and twisted armor pieces scattered across the shattered and cratered ice field still contained the mangled, smashed, shredded pieces of Imperial men and women who’d once worn them. Their blood stained the frozen water and carbon dioxide ice fields before the heavily fortified airlock that led into Malgus’ command and control center.

    The battle between the fractured Imperial military was extraordinarily fierce. Imperial troops fought with a will and without hesitation. Darth Malgus' forces had attached a bright red epaulet onto their right shoulder or painted their right shoulder pauldrons a bright red to differentiate themselves from forces loyal to the Sith Emperor. It was the only way for the two sides to tell each other apart.

    Darth Nox was furious at his commanders for failing to breech the airlock as planned. General Reyldah Chagreth offered a solution to Nox.

    “Dark Lord, I have an alternative plan for breaching the base, if you will permit me to explain.”

    The angry Sith barked, “Spit it out!”

    “I have engineering units on standby. With your permission, I’ll send them in to breach the ventilation systems to create alternate entryways.”

    Wrehn listened skeptically to the general’s plan, and was impressed that her client was not some mere politician. His own skepticism illustrated his battlefield knowledge, as he berated the general.

    “These ventilation systems are protected with automated blaster cannon turrets throughout the system, and the defenders have probably booby trapped every ventilation system leading to the outside by now! Any ventilation conduit large enough to allow passage has probably been rigged to be collapsed. This is why the plan was to breech the main airlock, and you have failed!”

    The general replied, speaking crisply, to hide her fear, “It is why engineers are the main focus of the assault. They will clear out the automated blaster cannon turrets and neutralize any booby traps and demolitions that we come across.”

    Wrehn had gathered her subordinate leaders for an impromptu conference.

    “There’s no way anyone’s getting in through the airlock, and I agree with him about the ventilation systems.” She said, while pointing a thumb at Darth Nox, who had the tip of his blazing red lightsaber pointed at the general’s face hidden behind the visor of her helmet, as she desperately attempted to convince him of her plan.

    Wrehn asked her team of leaders, “Any ideas?”

    Captain Tartan, spoke a short phrase, “Udmanta mine incident.”

    Wrehn had no idea what that was and asked, “Huh? What’s that?”

    Torian, nodding approval at what Tartan referenced, explained.

    “The Udmanta mine incident. Nearly a hundred years ago, a mutiny occurred on Hethem’cour Two, in the Mandalorians Sector. The leaders of the mutiny barricaded themselves in one of the deeper mines. Callan Hadraah, the chieftain of clan Ormourh ordered a shaped antimatter demolition charge be set on the mountain over the mine.

    “The charge was set off, and the most of the mine was collapsed. Fissures were opened in the mountain that led to parts of the mine that hadn’t collapsed. He sent sweeper teams down with orders to clean out the remaining mutineers.”

    Wrehn turned to Mako, “Get me schematics for this base.” Turning to Gault, “See if you can smooth talk some of the engineers into giving us a shaped antimatter charge so that we can blow out a big chunk of the mountain. Maybe we can blast a hole and create our own entryway.” Turning to Torian, she asked, “What do you think?”

    “Commander, listening to the general and her subordinates, it seems they were trying to gain access by subverting the locking mechanisms and bypassing the security systems. They should have just blasted the airlock clean off.”

    Wrehn’s party hadn’t noticed that Nox was listening in on their conference. His attention was momentarily taken from the general. Sweat rolling down her face under her armored helmet, she thanked the stars that the dark lord had deactivated his weapon and stopped paying attention to her.

    Torian continued with his analysis. “The rubble would have to be cleared, but the cryogenically cold air would be unbreathable, and would catch the defenders inside by surprise. Many of them will freeze to death before they can get into all environment protective armor.”

    Darth Nox turned to his general and asked, “Have you not tried simply blowing off the door?”

    The general replied, “To keep in compliance with the dark lord’s requirement of preserving the…”

    Nox cut in, angrily shouting, “Forget that! Just get me inside!”

    General Reyldah Chagreth snapped a salute, stomped her boot and replied with military crispness, “Yes, Dark Lord!”

    She turned about and began to shout new orders, “Colonel Fruntz…,”

    The general never got to complete her orders. She collapsed dead, onto the floor of the unheated prefabricated office, when Darth Nox’s saber burned through the back of her armor, and then through her heart.

    The dark lord spoke after watching her lifeless corps become still on the floor.

    "Colonel Fruntz, who is in command with this failure now out of my way?”

    Snapping to attention, crisply saluting, and stomping his boot, the colonel replied, “I am, Dark Lord, until headquarters sends her replacement.”

    Nox replied, “Good. While we wait for her replacement, get your troops to blow that airlock out of my way.”

    “As you wish, Dark Lord!”

    Darth Nox walked out of the dead general’s command center. The beast, Khem Val, and two other Sith followed him out. Three Sith remained behind.

    When the doors slid shut behind the retreating party of Sith lords, Ashara Zavros, one of the three Sith who remained, began to berate the officers.

    “Fools! What sort of imbeciles would continue to send limited assets, over and again, to needless destruction while following a failed plan?! General Chagreth deserved her execution! She lacked the vision to see that a plan had failed. She lacked the imagination to quickly try a new approach. She lacked the courage to call the dark lord to tell him that the plan had failed and that a new approach was required!

    “Her failure is not that she lost the battle. Her failure was that she kept following the same failed plan and wasted precious resources! Her cowardice kept her from telling Darth Nox early on of the need for a new approach. Do not follow her example, and do not disappoint the dark lord again!”

    One of the two Sith spoke up, thinking to deride Ashara and embarrass her before the Imperial officers and to belittle her before the other Sith lord.

    “What does it matter how many of these fodder die? It is their duty to die if needed. We can always order their replacements.” He smirked, adding, “Or did the sight of so many bloodied and mangled corpses disturb you?”

    Ashara whirled to face him, took two steps to get in his face with a finger pointed at his nose.

    “The Empire is at civil war! What reinforcements will we get, and from where? Where ever the Emperor’s loyal servants are, they are facing the traitorous scum who have opted to follow the usurper! There are no reinforcements to be had! Even if reinforcements were to come, how would we know what side they had come to support?! The loyal forces we have here are ALL THAT WE CAN DEPEND ON!! We cannot afford to be wasteful!”

    His voice shaking in fury and his teeth clenched, he told Ashara, “Get your filthy alien hand away from my face!”

    Ashara snarled, “Make me!”

    The Sith went for his lightsaber, Ashara used her other hand to shove him away, using The Force to send him flying into the back wall of the makeshift control center. She drew her lightsabers, igniting them both, and stood at the ready.

    The Sith lord hadn’t even ignited his weapon before he found himself slamming into the wall and getting the wind knocked out of him. His dropped weapon had clattered to the floor and skittered to the side of the room and under a desk. He looked about for his weapon. Ashara pointed towards the desk with the menacingly humming beam of one of one of her weapons.

    Speaking caustically, he spat out his words at her.


    "Your arrogance shall be your undoing, alien trash!”

    He reached for the desk, and tried to move it with The Force, intending to throw it at Ashara, but she countered, using The Force to keep the desk in place. This struggle caused the desk to shake, bounce, groan, and warp out of shape, as the two Sith fought for control of the desk.

    Ashara used her other hand to focus as she used The Force to lift her opponent into the air and then threw him into the desk for which they had struggled to control. He crashed off of the desk top, causing it to cave in. Bouncing off the ruined desk, he slammed into the other wall with a resounding crash.

    Ashara used The Force to send the desk sliding to the other side of the Office, causing the men and women Imperial officers to scatter, as she leapt into the air at the other Sith, lying on the floor winded and on his back. He struggled to get up, but saw Ashara in the air, both lightsabers pointed towards him like daggers.

    It was too late for him. Both sabers, one bright red, the other bright blue plunged into the floor, on either side of his helmeted head.

    Ashara’s tattooed face was twisted in fury, as she spoke in a low but very menacing tone, “I would kill you, but my lord needs you alive to face Malgus. We can finish this, if you wish, after Malgus is dead.”

    The Sith lord was shamed. He sought to humiliate the Togrutan female but instead found himself brought low. The other Sith finally spoke.

    “This is what happens when you underestimate your opponents, and overestimate your own power.”

    The defeated Sith was further shamed, as the other Sith added, “Lord Ashara, he can’t be of any use to the dark lord if he can so easily be beaten. Are you sure we need to keep him?”

    Ashara deactivated her weapons and stepped back from her beaten opponent.

    To the officers, she commanded, “Get to work! The dark lord will not tolerate another failure from you.” To the beaten opponent, “You have better prove your worth when we face Malgus and his treasonous followers.”

    Turning towards Wrehn and walking towards her, Ashara remarked, “I’m surprised you still live. Perhaps he has kept you on a whim. Keep your eyes on the back of your head opened. Remember, this time, to keep your tongue in check.”

    With this warning Wrehn realized that her client was not at all hesitant about ruthlessly removing incompetents and failures from his path. She realized that he was quite arbitrary about who he decided to execute or to spare from his wrath.

    Ashara told the two Sith with her, “Follow me. We must report to the Dark Lord. He will have orders for us.”

    Wrehn, her crew and the Imperial officers present, silently watched as the three Sith left the control center.

    Switching to her crew’s private channel, Wrehn warned her crew.

    “Hey guys. Keep on your toes and on your best behavior. I may have pissed off our client during the ride here on the drop ships. He may be waiting until after the mission to take us out. If that happens, then it’s gonna get tricky. Got it?”

    Gault, unsurprised, yet shook his head in disapproval. Torian made a pained expression. Mako whistled her forlorn worries. However, Skadge was more optimistic on his take of the situation.

    “Well, this’ll make our job more fun!”

    Lieutenant Dremon asked Gault, “What has happened?”

    Gault replied in a brightly enthusiastic tone, “You remember her advice to be on our best behavior and to watch what we say around the Sith? Well, she wasn’t on her best behavior and may have not watched what she said around the Sith. So, we may have trouble with them later. It’s nothing to worry about. No trouble at all. Just a mere inconvenience, a minor setback, an….”

    “Can it, Gault!”

    Wrehn didn’t like Gault’s way of glibly ridiculing her errors.

    “… error only a novice would make,” Gault concluded, glibly.

    Gault couldn’t see Wrehn’s face under her helmet, but he imagined that she was scowling at him. He snickered at her discomfort.

    Wrehn couldn’t see Gault’s face under his helmet, but she imagined that he was giggling and making faces at her expense. It angered her greatly that she was bothered by this.

    Getting to business, Gault reported, “Commander, it’s a no go on the request for a shaped anti-matter charge.”

    Wrehn was somewhat surprised, asking, “Really? What did they say?”

    “They laughed at me and asked if I was kidding. When I told them I was serious, they laughed even harder.”

    Wrehn got on the Imperial command channel, asking, “Who’s the ordnance officer?”

    A gruff Imperial Basic accented male voice came back, imperiously challenging, “Who is it that thinks she needs to know?”

    “Yehw’reh’nomai. I'm leading the mercenary forces hired directly by Darth Nox for special operations under his direct command.”

    Much less imperiously, and much more politely, “What can I do for you, Yehw'reh'nomai?”

    “I need demolitions. Specifically, I need a shaped anti-matter charge.”

    “I can’t give you one of those. We need to capture that base, not turn it into a crater.”

    “I want to make a crater next to the base, so that I can knock a hole into one of the walls on the lower levels, so that I can get in.”

    Silence followed for several long minutes before the gruff Imperial male’s voice finally came back.

    “Imperial combat engineers will carry out the demolitions. You must report to Darth Nox for orders.”

    “Yeah, sure,” Wrehn replied dryly, adding, “I hope you get a promotion for my idea.”

    The gruff voice replied, “You have my sincerest thanks.”

    Torian groused, “That was dishonorable of them, Commander.”

    Wrehn replied to the gruff Imperial ordnance officer, “I’ve got another idea for you to steal. When that charge goes off, it’ll shake the base so badly, they’ll be disoriented for some time. Use that time to blast the main air lock off, and take that opportunity to enter the ventilation systems, to make several inroads with your troops, so that you can capture the base.”

    Captain Tartan nodded great approval of her plan, as did Torian.

    In a very sincere tone, the gruff Imperial said, “Thank you, Yehw’reh’nomai. You may have saved us from mass executions with these recommendations. If we succeed here, then only a few of us senior officers will die for our earlier failure instead of the entire command.”

    Wrehn was taken aback by that comment. She wondered whether Nox would actually do something so excessive. Instead of asking, however, she thought about what that meant for her and he mercenaries after the battle. She began to realize just how ungratefully ruthless her client really was from that short exchange.

    Returning to her private channel, she spoke to her team.

    Gault, Torian, I want you to get together with Captain Tartan and Lieutenant Dremon and come up with an escape plan for after we complete the mission, in case Darth Nox turns on us.”

    Skadge complained, “Why are you already thinking of running away? There’s only seven of ‘em, and more than sixty of us!”

    Wrehn turned to Skadge and said, “Skadge…. If you say one more word, I’m firing you without pay and without getting to join the fight. And I’m leaving you here on Ilum.”

    Skadge opened his mouth to protest, but then closed it without another word. He didn’t want to miss out on the fun...
     
  24. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    This is my take on the battle on Ilum when Darth Malgus tried to steal the Imperial throne for himself, and Darth Nox, a newly minted dark councilor, was forced to deal with the situation, since he was already on world helping in the fight to take Ilum from the Jedi and the Galactic Republic.

    The situation, in game, was that just as Nox and the Imperial forces had taken control of Ilum and forced the Republic and the Jedi to abandon the planet, Darth Malgus launched his civil war, declaring himself the new Sith Emperor.

    I made a LOT OF CHANGES to the original battle scene, in order to work Yehw'reh'nomai and her crew into the scenario together with Darth Nox.

    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________​

    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason. Part 10​


    The following day, in his silver toned, lightly armored space suit, standing on the top of a ridge of carbon dioxide ice covered mountains, Darth Nox, through his helmet visor display screen, gazed at the star littered late morning black sky, with the bright, perfectly round disk shape of Ilum’s star dominating all of the other bright stars around it. The disk of Ilum’s star seemed to be the size of a tiny grain of gravel in the black sky, but it shown as brightly as a light probe in a cavernous space, dimly lighting up the ice covered landscape with an eerie blue-white glow, from horizon to horizon.

    He brought his gaze down from the sky, turning it to his right side. There he looked at the heavily armored Mandalorian mercenary that his wife and apprentice, Ashara Zavros, had recommended to him and then hired at enormous expense.

    The Mandalorian and her inner circle of four others, wore the same model armored suit which, when viewed in proper lighting, was mostly white with sea blue accents and markings. Though, in the dim starlight, their suits appeared to glow dimly in a blue-white hue with black accents and markings.

    Nox reflected that Yehw'reh'nomai’s armor contrasted sharply with what the rest of the Mandalorians wore. They wore armor that was bronze with green accents and markings, but which appeared to be dark shades of grey in the dim daylight of Ilum.

    He remarked to his contractor, on the restricted command channel, “We shall see if your plan will work, Yehw'reh'nomai.” He turned his gaze out to the horizon, in front of him, and spoke a single worded command on the general command channel, “Attack.”

    Wrehn was surprised that her client knew it was her plan. As the eerie dim world exploded into a brilliant white light that was magnified by the reflective white surfaces of the frozen water ice and the frozen carbon dioxide ice, Wrehn began to wonder if she had wrongly accused the Imperial officers of taking credit for her idea. She wondered if pride prevented the gruff sounding Imperial ordnance officer to air his insulted feelings to her for her accusations.

    The automatic filters of her optics and sensor arrays adjusted the lighting levels of the display screen inside her helmet. She was now able to make out the super white hot fireball that roiled its way up, as anti-matter and matter combined in the shaped charge to blast a focused burst of explosive energy into the ground about two kilometers from the side of the underground base.

    Along with the rising fireball, a lake’s worth of ice water melted and was hurled outward in all directions in the form of steam. The frozen carbon dioxide instantly ablated into its gaseous form, sending out a wave of compressed gas, right behind the blast of superheated water vapor, which blew everything that wasn’t solid rock, flat. And a mountain’s worth of frozen dirt, and rock was also hurled into the sky as though a giant volcano had erupted explosively.

    Darth Nox spoke on the general command channel, “Colonel Fruntz, a change of plans. Wait until the dirt and rocks come back down, before attacking the airlock. You may actually need to dig out the airlock, once the dirt and rock has settled back down again.”

    Colonel Fruntz was General Reyldah Chagreth’s executive officer but now in command.

    He replied, “As you say, Dark Lord.”

    The world began to shake under Wrehn’s feet. She became greatly relieved that she and her party stood on exposed solid rock, barren of any ice, as she watched the ice sheets below her on the mountain face break into giant shards and then race down in an enormous avalanche. She, and everyone around her, were caught off guard when a blast of frozen water crystals, carried by a wave of carbon dioxide gas, which was itself already crystallizing into ice, blew her and her entire party backwards onto their backs.

    Wrehn struggled to her feet and immediately got on the channel to her team, ordering, “Team leaders, take roll of your platoons! Make sure no one got knocked off the mountain!”

    Her officers all replied crisply, “Yes, Commander!”

    Wrehn looked about in the waning light of the rising fireball, and found both Skadge and Mako, checking each other’s armor suits for damage. Looking about some more, she found her client, Darth Nox and his Sith in various states of recovery.

    Darth Nox laughed and remarked to Wrehn, “Ha! I rather enjoyed that!”

    Wrehn, forgetting herself, quipped, “Yeah, we ought to do that again, sometime.”

    Belatedly, she added, “Uh…, Dark Lord.”

    Nox pointed at her, observing, “Good! You’re learning.”

    Wrehn remained silent, not trusting herself to speak. Her pride and anger, at how she’d been so easily cowed by her client, would surely have gotten in the way of good sense, and gotten her to say what she really felt. On the other hand, Wrehn considered whether his good humor was a good sign for her and her crew.

    However, before she could complete her thoughts on what Nox’s good mood meant for her team, Mako’s worry filled voice cut in via her team’s private channel.

    “Wrehn, we’ve got, maybe half a minute before we get pummeled by the falling rock from that blast. We need to move.”

    Wrehn spoke on Nox’s restricted command channel, “Dark Lord, we got to get back onto our drop ships and move, rocks are about to fall on our heads!”

    She didn’t wait for her client’s reply as she quickly switched back to her team’s channel, shouting, “Mandalorians! Get on your drop ships, we’re leaving, now!”

    There was no hesitation. No questions were asked, as her two platoons of mercenaries rushed quickly back to their ships. The pilots had already been warned, and were readying their ships for a hurried launch.

    The ramp wasn’t even raised, and Wrehn hadn’t even taken her seat when the dropship sprang into the air and rocketed away from the epic center. The ships were not fast enough, as s few clods of frozen dirt struck the hulls of the three fleeing ships.

    Wrehn had finally taken a seat and began to scan the interior of the dropship as she began to wonder how many troops she had lost.

    She called out, “Platoon leaders, give me a head count!”

    Switching to her private channel, she called out, the names of her crew.

    “Mako!”

    “Yeah?”

    “Torian!”

    “Commander?”

    “Gault!”

    “Present.”

    “Skadge!”

    No answer.

    “Skadge!!”

    Still no answer.

    “SKADGE!!! ANSWER ME, BLAST YOU!!!”

    “Why you gotta call my name last? What, I’m not a valuable enough team mate for you?”

    Wrehn surprised herself with how relieved she was that the Houk was still accounted for. She wasn’t going to show him this soft spot she just realized she had for him.

    “Skadge, I was just worried that I had just got done spending over two million credits for your armored suit, and that I was already assed out of those credits without getting any use out of it.”

    Mako burst out laughing, remarking, “Damn, Wrehn! That was just so mean!” She laughed some more, then asked, “Hey Skadge, you gonna take that?”

    Skadge had fallen silent again.

    Mako, becoming concerned over his silence, asked, “Skadge, you’re not letting what she said bother you, huh?

    Gault cut in deadpan, but his sarcasm was thick, “Shhhhh! Let him think, Mako.”

    Skadge finally had his retort, “At least we know whose starship don’t work.”

    Gault laughed so hard at hearing that. Not because of what Skadge had said, but because his sarcastic jibe, about Skadge needing to think, turned out to be true.

    After finally catching his breath, he told the cybernetically enhanced human female, “You see, Mako? Give him some time to let those gears turn. A thought will eventually be produced!” He laughed again.

    Wrehn grinned at the humor of the moment, but she didn’t want to let Skadge’s retort stand. She was about to speak, when she finally noticed the plain silver space suit among the bronze and green armored battle suits in the crew space of the dropship.

    Wrehn stood and walked to the silver suited passenger.

    Switching to Nox’s restricted channel, she asked, “Who are you? Don’t you have your own dropship to be on?”

    Nox’s voice came on, “Who are you talking to?”

    Wrehn replied, “Whoever it is that I’m standing in front of. Uh… Dark Lord.”

    Nox could be heard chuckling.

    Then he said, “So, you weren’t lost to me, after all, Lord Vereta. You at least made it to one of the other ships.”

    Vereta replied, “It would take a great deal more to end me than a mere evacuation drill, Dark Lord.”

    Nox laughed on hearing that, and replied, “Good. I’ll need you to last at least a short while before Malgus’ traitorous followers end your existence.”

    “Dark Lord, I will not shame you!”

    Wrehn had already returned to her seat, all the while listening in on the Sith as she shook her head in derision at her circumstances, wondering to herself, “What is it with my damned luck, always putting me in the worst situations?!?

    Darth Nox did not acknowledge Vereta’s oath, instead reporting the situation.

    “Reports are in that the worst of the falling debris is over. My forces are on the move to breach the airlock and any other access points they come across. I have already ordered our dropships to take us to the crater.. Once, at the scene, we shall search for exposed walls of the lower levels of the base. We shall breach the exposed wall, and enter the base.”

    Ten minutes later, Wrehn was stepping down the ramp into a pitch black landscape. It wasn’t until she cleared the tail of the dropship and looked up, to see the stars, partially obscured by a cloud of dust, which the calm frigid winds lazily blew away from above the crater.

    Without the water and carbon dioxide ice to reflect the dim starlight, the landscape within the crater was black with darkness. The dropships switched on their dim marker lights to help the lowlight sensors on everyone’s helmets to display the landscape on the screens within their helmets.

    Wrehn laughed at what she saw. They were probably seven hundred and fifty meters down at the bottom of a crater. Her video display showed several levels of the exposed broken walls of corridors and exposed broken office spaces, which had been breached at several locations of the underground base.

    Wrehn spoke on her command channel, ensuring that her two hired Mandalorian platoons could hear what she had to say.

    “I think if we’d have done it, it would have been worse.”

    Gault agreed, “Oh, yeah. We would have screwed that up, and the Imps would be blaming us for breaking their base.”

    Darth Nox’s voice came on the general command channel.

    “Colonel Fruntz, the entire side of the base has been exposed in the crater wall. There are several breaches to take advantage of. Send in your forces through these breaches and search for Darth Malgus. Report to me when he is found.”

    “Yes, Dark Lord!”

    On the restricted command channel, Nox ordered, “Let us enter the base from one of the breaches on the lowest exposed level.”

    Wrehn suggested, “Dark Lord, my guess is that, if he’s still alive, he’s making his way up to escape. Just looking at the exposed and damaged passageways and rooms, gives me the impression that the entire base is shook up pretty badly. Expect power to be off line, ventilation and climate controls, taken off line, turbolifts off line, and so on.”

    Nox issued new orders.

    “Colonel Fruntz, keep a large force on the surface, at all of the possible entry ways. Look to capture or kill any survivors, and report any Sith escaping to the surface.”

    Colonel Fruntz didn’t want to embarrass the dark lord, and point out that it went without saying.

    Instead, he replied, “Yes, Dark Lord!”

    Colonel Fruntz’ troops had already captured a few thousand treasonous scum that had managed to escape the ruined subterranean base.

    Darth Nox had been getting a strong impression from The Force about Darth Malgus.

    He turned to one of the silver space suited Sith standing near him, “Ashara, he’s waiting for me to find him.”

    Inside her slightly oversized helmet, Ashara closed her eyes and concentrated on The Force.

    After a moment, she opened her eyes and with urgency in her tone reported, “My lord, he is coming here!”

    As soon as those words left her lips, a section of wall from one of the exposed levels shattered with chunks of masonry flying outward and down onto Nox and his waiting Sith and hired mercenaries. They all scattered and dashed back, away from the wall of the crater to avoid the falling debris.

    Wrehn shouted commands at her subordinate officers, even as her subordinate officers began shouting commands at their troops. In very short order, the Mandalorians had reorganized themselves, taking cover behind the rubble which had been strewn throughout the bottom of the crater, the remnants of the bedrock cleared out by the antimatter cratering charge used earlier.

    The mercenary warriors let loose a barrage of blaster fire, concentrating their fires at the newly opened hole in the wall one level above the bottom of the crater. Two heavy war droids, their shields up, took up positions at the opening and began to unload their blaster cannons at the Mandalorians shooting from behind large pieces of frozen dirt, or solid chunks of broken rock.

    The mercenaries were forced to hunker down and take cover from the murderous cannon fire. Nox watched, disgustedly, as Malgus and four other Sith jumped down into the crater, followed by dozens of Imperial troops. The Mando fighters corrected this situation when they launched two anti armor guided missiles at the heavy war droids, destroying both of them.

    Wrehn shouted orders.

    “Gault! Get your people to concentrate their fire into that hole. Don’t let anymore Imps out of there! Torian! Pin down and destroy the Imps that made it out of that hole! Mako, Skadge! Follow me!”

    Wrehn burst out from behind her rock shard, running hard with Mako and Skadge abandoning their own rock shard shelters as they ran after her. As she ran, the three drop ships suddenly blasted the impromptu battleground with their brilliant landing lights. The entire scene was bathed in stark white light.

    The shuttles repositioned themselves to change the angles of their lights, eliminating the pitch black shadows cast by the thousands of rock shards of all sizes littering the crater floor. Imperial troops on the ground loyal to Darth Malgus, fired their blaster rifles at the three dropships, but to no effect. The dropships’ ray shielding absorbed the energy quite easily.

    Wrehn’s helmet sensors automatically adjusted themselves to the sudden blast of light, making the display go easy on her eyes. She quickly spotted Malgus’ four Sith in battle with four of Nox’s Sith and his beast, Khem Val. Looking about, she found Nox and one Sith standing by his side.

    They just stood there, watching, not the battle, but at something else. Wrehn turned to look in the direction Nox and Ashara were focused on and found that it was Darth Malgus that had their attention. He had his attention on Nox and the Sith at his side. Malgus and his Sith followers wore black Imperial battle armor, with their red painted pauldrons, while Nox and his Sith wore their plain silver toned space suits.

    Realizing that her client’s enemies held the advantage in armor, Wrehn decided to give Nox’s Sith a hand, changing directions as she ran, so that she could slip behind the battling Sith.

    Wrehn shouted her orders, on her crew’s private channel, “Torian, take over command for a bit!”

    “Roger!”

    “Skadge, Mako, I’m gonna do the shooting. You guys watch my back!”

    Both Skadge and Mako responded in the affirmative, as they maneuvered behind the four traitorous Sith. Wrehn decided to start by eliminating the one enemy battling two of Nox’s followers. As she came to a stop, she drew one of her two blasters, and began to aim in.

    Before she could get her weapon steadied on target, all four enemy Sith leapt into the air, doing backwards somersaults.

    Wrehn shouted out urgently, “SKADGE!! OVERHEAD, FRONT!! She could see that all four Sith were going to land right in front of her. Mako and Skadge were still turning around to face forward, and Wrehn was still lifting her pistol to adjust her aim to the airborne Sith.

    Wrehn’s display screen flashed a red tint, warning of imminent danger. Then suddenly, without further warnings, she found herself flying backwards. She landed and ran backwards a few steps and came to a halt, with her weapons pointed at one of the Sith, which had landed an arm’s length from where she had been standing a moment before.

    Wrehn didn’t know what had happened, but her weapon was still on target, and she began firing, as did Mako and Skadge standing on either side of her.

    Darth Nox’s followers renewed their attacks on Malgus’ followers, forcing Wrehn and her party to cease firing.

    Wrehn finally took note of a message in very small print flashing at the bottom right corner of her display screen.

    “Emergency threat avoidance system activated.”

    Wrehn cleared the flashing message from her display, wearing a huge grin on her face.

    As the flashing message cleared, she asked, “You guys get a red flashing screen and a flashing threat avoidance message?”

    Mako replied, “You seriously got your money’s worth with these armored suits!”

    Skadge asked, “How do you shut this thing off. I wanted one of ‘em to get up close so that I could pound ‘em on the head.”

    Speaking firmly, Wrehn warned the Houk, “Skadge, don’t mess with my suit. If you mess it up, it’s coming out of your pay.”

    Nox, watching the situation shook his head with frustration. He angrily chastised his followers.

    “Khem, stop playing with your food and kill it, already! Xalek, you are my apprentice. Show them what you’ve got and stop holding back. Or do you mean to embarrass me?”

    Xalek was thoroughly humiliated. His fury rose. He’d been conducting a technically calculated battle. He wanted to learn what his opponent could do. Instead, to Xalek’s chagrin, his master mistook his calculated strikes and feints as weakness.

    Xalek used The Force to knock his opponent to the ground. He then leapt onto his prone enemy, driving his sabrestaff into his enemy’s throat, where the armor was the thinnest. He immediately turned about and dashing forward a few meters, stabbed Vereta’s opponent in the back of his neck, again taking advantage of the armor’s weakness.

    Meanwhile, Khem Val parried his opponent’s lightsaber with his savage oversized vibrosword, and with his huge size advantage, he simply reached forward and grabbed his opponent by the arm and flung him several tens of meters to the side. He turned away from the Sith, taking several steps towards Malgus.

    Pointing at Malgus with his weapon, he came to a stop, and told Nox, “Master, that is my food.”

    The hapless Sith that Khem had tossed aside, as a toy he’d grown tired of playing with, rose to his feet. Wrehn saw him get up. She pointed both of her custom made blaster pistols at the Sith, and let him have it.

    The Sith lord reacted quickly, powering up his shield generators and using his weapon to deflect Wrehn’s blaster bolts. She hadn’t cranked the power all the way up, so her bolts were not immediately destabilized on contact with his lightsaber beam. Instead, they were deflected away at different angles from the Sith lord’s weapon.

    Mako and Skadge both ran to get different firing angles on the Sith. Mako stopped and began firing her blaster rifle at the Sith, with Skadge stopping a few meters later before he opened up on the Sith lord.

    Wrehn’s blaster pistols had gotten hot, and she had to cease firing. The Sith lord concentrated his defense against Mako and Skadge, and proceeded to advance on the two as he deflected their bolts.

    Wrehn placed her pistols on the frozen shattered bedrock, at the bottom of the crater, to let her guns cool faster. After making adjustments to her weapons, changing out the battery packs, and after letting them cool rapidly on the cryogenically cool rock surface, she picked up her blasters and aimed in on the Sith.

    Wrehn let him have it.

    The Sith lord had ignited a second lightsaber, and used it to block Wrehn’s blaster bolts. The highly overpowered energy bolts were extremely unstable. The instant the first bolt made contact with his weapon’s cutting beam, it destabilized and instantly diffused it’s energy in an explosive burst.

    The Sith was knocked over by the force of the rapidly expanding energy, which quickly depleted much of the energy from his shield generators. Skadge and Mako fired him up where he lay struggling to get back up onto his feet, depleting the remaining energy of his shield generator batteries. Soon, some of their blaster bolts impacted his cortosis reinforced Imperial armor plated suit. He had finally risen to his feet, and made a mad dash for Mako and Skadge.

    Wrehn, already aiming, fired off a single bolt, striking him on the red painted pauldron. The blast energy blew his armored arm clean off, along with his red painted pauldron. The quickly spreading blast wave sheared his helmet off, taking his head with it. The Sith’s body tumbled in the air, following behind his helmeted head onto the edge of the light bathed battleground, where his body crashed in a heap as his helmeted head bounced and rolled out of the lighted area and into the darkness.

    Wrehn scanned the scene for more enemies, but found the battleground had become silent. She called for a status report on the restricted command channel.

    “Torian! Report current status.”

    “Imperial forces arrived in reinforced platoon strength. We destroyed them on the field, and then pressed the attack through the breached wall from which they exited the base. Imperial forces loyal to our client are infiltrating the base from the upper levels of the exposed base walls.

    “Local hostile Imperial forces have been neutralized. We sustained four killed, and four wounded. We had an advantage in numbers with an almost two to one margin in our favor. Mandalorian troops are consolidating their positions. Awaiting further orders.”

    Wrehn replied, “Good work. Standby for new orders.”

    Darth Nox spoke, “The rest of the fight is mine and my followers’. Keep your mercenaries out of this, Yehw'reh'nomai.”

    “You got it, Dark Lord.”
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    Darth_Drachonus and gizkaspice like this.
  25. PlanetSmasher

    PlanetSmasher Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 14, 2017
    Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason - Part 11​

    Special Notes: The dialogue in bold text is an exact word for word copy from the dialogue Darth Nox and Darth Malgus have in the cut scene, depending on the dialogue choices you make, just before the big boss fight. I changed the tone of voice Darth Nox delivers his lines to reflect his own selfish motivations. In the game, Darth Nox uses a tone that shows sympathy with Malgus’ ideals, but disagrees with Malgus’ method for achieving change when delivering that line. Malgus is the boss you got to beat in the game.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Wrehn watched as Darth Nox and Ashara approached Darth Malgus. Khem Val and the other Sith following Nox also converged on Malgus’ left. She concluded that Nox had the decided advantage.

    On her private channel, she said, “I think, our client can handle the rest. Think of a way to hijack those dropships if things go bad for us after this.”

    Torian replied, “I think our hired guns will turn on us and hand us over to our client if they get the idea we won’t be able to pay them the balance of what we owe. We have to watch for signs that they are negotiating with our client to work out a deal with him for a reward.”

    Gault interjected, “In fact, I know they’ll turn on us. As soon as Torian was done briefing them on our contingency plan for a getaway, they had a private off channel chat with each other. I couldn’t hear their comm, but the way they stood around pointing at each other and waving their arms around, got me to think they were arguing about something. Only thing I can think they'd argue over is money. I think they’re ready to turn on us. It’s the only time they'd ever spoken off channel to each other where we couldn’t hear them.”

    Wrehn replied, “Alright. Good report, the both of you.”

    After a moment to think, she gave new orders on the team channel.

    “Torian, Gault, good work with your Mandalorian platoons. This job’s almost over. Hand over control of the leadership to Captain Tartan and Lieutenant Dremon. Return to me. Captain Tartan, Lieutenant Dremon, you both report directly to me now. Report your status.”

    Captain Tartan reported, “My troops have created a perimeter defense against possible incoming attacks from ground forces attacking from the open. Lieutenant Dremon’s platoon is securing the breached wall from the inside to keep enemy reinforcements from reaching us from within the base. We are ready for new orders.”

    Wrehn said, “Remain vigilant and standby for orders, as I get them.”

    What she really wanted was to separate Torian and Gault from their hired guns, and consolidate her own position by bringing her crew together.

    Wrehn added a warning to her hired mercenaries.

    “There’s a fight coming between the Sith. Keep out of this fight and stay out of their way. The Sith want to settle it amongst themselves.”

    Captain Tartan immediately shouted his own orders.

    “First Platoon, expand the line!”

    He wanted to get his troops out of the way of the coming fight.

    Wrehn watched as Tartan’s mercenary warriors rose up from crouching behind the rubble and then proceed to move outward, expanding their curved perimeter until they exited the illuminated battleground.

    She thought to herself, as she watched the mercenaries move, “That opens up the distance between my crew and theirs. More space to run around in.

    Mako gave a series of hand signals to Wrehn, which Wrehn quickly acted on. Dialing a new frequency on her armored suit’s built-in communications gear, she caught a fragment of Nox’s remarks.

    “... betrayed the Sith Empire! Why should I hear your treasonous words?!”

    Getting right to the point, Darth Malgus replied, “The Empire is withering away. Soon it will be obliterated by decadence and antiquated ideals. Yet still you struggle to keep it from healing.

    Don’t you see? Our survival demands a new Empire, tempered by alien alliances and strengthened by tolerance.”

    Darth Nox grudgingly admitted the truth in Malgus’ words, disgustedly replying, “I’ve seen the Empire’s weakness. We must change to survive, but you’re going about it the wrong way!”

    Malgus, expecting that Nox would reject his cause, pointed out, “You know the Dark Council would never willingly relinquish their power.”

    Malgus then laid it out for Nox to see, pointing out, “Our civil war shall be the pyre upon which the Sith Empire will die and a new empire be born. Nearly half of the Imperial armies and navies support my cause, and I have the armies and navies of several alien territories that have allied with me in support of my principles. They seek an end to the Empire’s old ways of exclusion from power and wealth. I will give them inclusion and let them earn the power and wealth their merits will allow them to achieve.”

    Malgus drew and activated his lightsaber. Nox and his followers all reactivated their weapons in response.

    Nox excoriated Malgus, telling him, “You could have been a dark councilor. You could have used your power and influence to steer the Empire towards your ideals and principles. Instead you squandered your power and influence, and wasted the Empire’s resources and might in a fruitless war that will set back these ideals you profess to embrace!

    “You could have overcome Marr’s influence over the other dark councilors and steered them down this path. Instead, all that you’ve managed to accomplish is to almost certainly give the victory to the Galactic Republic! Your betrayal has weakened the Empire to the point of vulnerability to our foes. You are nothing more than a mere traitor!”

    Malgus declared, “The time for talk is past!” Then he proclaimed with great zeal, “Die, or defeat me! Either way, the Empire is reborn!”

    He leapt into the attack against Nox’s followers. Immediately striking down one of Nox’s followers with his weapon, and quickly following that up with a massive force push that sent Lord Xalek flying out of the light washed battleground, and into the darkness.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Captain Tartan toured the expanded perimeter, to ensure his fighters had taken up good defensible positions. He knew the chances of an enemy attack, originating from outside the ruined subterranean base, was quite nil, but not being prepared for such an eventuality was still reckless. So, he prepared.

    As he inspected their positions, he also inspected his troops, checking the condition of their armor and weapons, ensuring his troops were not starting to freeze and that their weapons continued to function. Their service droid followed along, as he went, allowing his troops a chance to swap out expended shield generator batteries, weapons batteries, and to swap out the battery packs that powered the heaters, respirator air scrubbers, communications gear and sensors in their armored suits.

    His men ‘oood’ and ‘ahhed’ at something that had their attention instead of the perimeter defense. He turned towards the lit battleground, nearly two hundred meters from his new perimeter in the darkness, and watched as the hulking beast, that served one of the Sith, was sent flying several tens of meters out of the light washed battleground and into the darkness.

    Returning his attention to his troops, he spoke to his men and women fighters, asking, “Are you ready for greater glory?! Are you ready for a real fight?!”

    One of his troops asked, “Are you really going to challenge the Great Hunt Champion? We’re not done with this mission, yet.”

    Tartan replied, “She is just a mercenary with really good gear and a very fancy title. Don’t let that make you forget your own abilities. And besides, you heard it yourself, our mission is over. We’re just waiting for these Sith to kill each other off.”

    Another chorus of ‘oh’s’ got Tartan to look at the Sith’s battle. He’d heard stories of it before, but until he just saw it for himself, he never would have believed that they could make big rocks fly just by pointing their hands at them. Another of his fighters asked a question, which returned his attention to the inspection of his troops.

    “How are you planning on collecting the rest of the money she owes us? If you attack her before our mission is over, you think she’ll still pay?”

    Yet another of his fighters commented.

    “Miir makes a good point, Captain. How you planning on collecting?”

    Tartan had already lost the support of Lieutenant Dremon. She had adamantly refused to join him in his plot. Plus the doubt expressed by some of his own troops was threatening to cause him to lose control of his own platoon.

    He told his men, “Alright, I’ll let you decide. If you wanna get into a real good fight then come with me. If you wanna play it safe and sit it out, then stay in your positions on the perimeter. But if I win, you’re only getting half pay. If I die, you pick a new platoon leader to lead the platoon, but Lieutenant Dremon will take command of the company. She’ll represent the company to collect the balance of what Yehw’reh’nomai owes.”

    His troops became chatty on hearing his proposal and shouted their well wishes and their jeers.

    “Fight well Captain!”

    “Here! Here!”

    “I’ll write songs and epic poems of your glorious death, Captain!”

    Captain Tartan replied, “Aye, but let another do the singing, your singing can hurt one’s ears!”

    Raucous laughter followed that retort.

    “I nominate Bem’na for next platoon leader!”

    Bem’na shouted, “I’m honored for the vote of confidence, but shouldn’t you wait until the Captain’s dead?”

    More raucous laughter ensued.

    Captain Tartan shouted, “Enough with the chirping! Who’s with me?!”

    He was surprised to get as many troops to follow him as he did, ten in all.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Malgus spun about, swinging his weapon until it crashed into Khem Val’s savage vibrosword, stopping the huge monster’s attack. Malgus quickly followed that up with a vicious front kick, powered with The Force. Despite the size difference, Khem Val was sent tumbling backwards through the frozen air.

    Before the huge Dashade crashed into the ground several tens of meters away, Malgus sent one of the shattered rocks, lying on the crater floor, hurtling at Khem Val. Khem quickly rose to his feet and, seeing the huge rock hurtling towards him, used the broad side of his vibrosword to block the rock. It saved his space suit from damage, but the rock’s momentum knocked him back down again.

    Vereta and the other Sith attacked Malgus together. Malgus reached with both hands towards them and unleashed a torrent of Force Lighting. Vereta quickly reacted, capturing the lighting directed at her with her lightsaber, and quickly redirecting it to the shattered stone surface on which she stood.

    Her comrade was not so quick. His space suit’s systems were fried. His suit ceased to function, and he quickly began to lose heat. Quite rapidly, the air in his suit began to become unbreathable. He turned to flee Malgus, but the False Emperor showed him no quarter. He used The Force to send a rock shard flying at the fleeing Sith’s helmet.

    Again the Sith was not quite fast enough when he dodged. The shard’s sharpened edge glanced off the side of his helm, slicing a narrow hole which let in the cryogenically cold atmosphere of Ilum into his suit. The Sith died horribly, unable to scream out his anguish, as super cold air rushed into his mouth and down into his lungs, causing the blood in his capillaries to freeze solid. He fell to the rock surface writhing and kicking in agony.

    As he attempted to breathe out the still one hundred seventy degree below zero air out of his lungs, the frozen capillaries and air sacs shattered. With his lungs feeling as though they were on fire, every breath he took was sheer torment. Compounded to the torture in his chest, was the fact that his head was also rapidly, and painfully, freezing. He did not feel this agony for long, as his head and brain froze very quickly. It was an eternity to him, but his ordeal was over in just under a minute when he lost consciousness, and then died very shortly thereafter.

    While her ally died, Vereta fired off a blast of Force Lighting at Malgus, which he deflected with his weapon, and followed that up with a Force Push attack that sent him flying. Vereta quickly turned about and ran to stand at Darth Nox’s side, opposite of Ashara.

    Malgus recovered, regaining his feet. Unlike Nox’s party who were only equipped with fragile space suits, susceptible to harsh treatment, Malgus wore Imperial Army Heavy Operations armor, specially modified for Ilum’s frigid climate.

    Not only did his armor withstand the punishment of striking the rocky surface, but its armor was treated with a laminated layer of cortosis. It was able to withstand several blaster bolt hits in the same area, and was resistant to lightsaber beam cuts.

    Malgus was surprised then to see one of Nox’s followers return to the battle. Xalek returned to the light washed battleground, and reignited both ends of his sabrestaff. He dashed forward in the attack against Malgus, reaching his hand towards his enemy and zapped Malgus with Force Lighting.

    Malgus was not quick enough to deflect it with his own weapon, and stood trembling from the shock. Xalek thrust his sabrestaff into Malgus’ armored breastplate, but Malgus’ shield generator, combined with his cortosis laminated armor allowed him to withstand the attack.

    Malgus recovered from the Force Lightning attack and brought the power of his lightsaber strike to bear against Xalek. Darth Nox’s apprentice, used his sabrestaff to parry the powerful strike, then he spun to give momentum to a Force powered back kick, sending Malgus flying.

    Lord Xalek canceled his follow up attack when he caught glimpse of the gargantuan form of Khem Val flying through the air at Malgus. Khem’s huge vibrosword slammed into the rock surface at the bottom of the crater, where Malgus had just recovered, scrambling to his feet and dodging the monster’s attack.

    Springing from harm’s way, Malgus used The Force to lift several rock shards from the crater floor and sent them hurtling at Khem Val. Even as Khem Val nimbly dodged the flying debris, Malgus immediately followed up his flying rock attack with a Force Push attack, this time sending Khem Val tumbling in the air out of the light washed battleground and into the darkness.

    As Xalek prepared to strike at Malgus, Nox spoke his command.

    “Lord Xalek, stop.”

    Clearly frustrated, Xalek angrily shook his sabrestaff as he deactivated it. Angrily stomping his foot on the ground, he turned towards his lord and made his way to his master’s side.

    Even as he battled to keep his voice calm, Xalek growled out through clenched teeth, “As you wish…., my master!”

    Nox walked towards Malgus, accompanied by Ashara and Vereta, and ordered Xalek, “Find Khem Val and get him aboard one of the dropships.”

    Xalek protested, “Master, if the Dashade is too weak to...”

    Nox cut him off, “Xalek, if I hadn’t stopped you, you would have died, too. You aren’t ready for a challenge such as Malgus. Now, go find Khem Val as I have instructed.”

    Xalek knelt before Nox, declaring with clear fury in his tone, “As my master commands!”

    Xalek turned towards the darkness to complete his task. Nox returned his attention to Malgus, walking towards his enemy.

    “I thank you for paying me the courtesy of patiently waiting for me to finish my business with my apprentice, but if I were in your boots, I would have struck with everything to fell my distracted foe.”

    Malgus replied, “You are the product of your dead master, Darth Zash. Craftiness, manipulation, and deceit were her hallmarks, and I see you honor her memory with your own boasts of underhandedness.”

    Nox asked with surprise in his tone, “You don’t approve? After all, isn’t that how you betrayed your Emperor and our Empire?”

    Malgus replied, “I have watched your progress over time. I have seen you grow in power and stature. I’ve heard of your powerful mastery of The Force, and of your prowess in your battles against Darth Thanaton’s followers, and finally against Thanaton himself. Now I want to see this power with my own eyes. Let me test your strength, Nox!”

    With that, Malgus caused several rock shards to lift into the frigid air of Ilum, and sent them flying at Nox. Malgus watched as the rocks all passed through Nox. Just as he felt a violent shove against his back, and was sent stumbling forward.

    Somehow, Malgus did not know how, Darth Nox had fooled him into believing the dark lord was still in front of him, but all this time Nox had been getting behind him for the sabrestaff attack at his back. Again, Malgus’ personal shield generator and his cortosis reinforced Imperial Army Heavy Operations battle armor saved him from a lightsaber strike.

    Malgus immediately spun about to face his enemy, but Nox had immediately, followed up his sabrestaff strike with a very powerful Force Lighting attack that drained the remaining energy of his enemy’s personal shield generator. Malgus was also electrocuted in the attack and had trouble moving his arm to position his weapon defensively.

    Ashara Zavros, Lord of The Sith, used The Force to cause several rock shards to go flying into Malgus’ back. Malgus was knocked forward onto his helmeted face on the cold hard shattered stone floor of the crater.

    Nox immediately leapt into the attack, landing next to Magus and drove his sabrestaff into Malgus’ back again, this time burning a deep gouge into his armor. Nox leapt away before Malgus could grab his space booted foot with his free armored gloved hand.

    Malgus pushed himself up, springing back to his feet.

    Facing Nox, Malgus spoke condescendingly, “You’re pin prick attacks do nothing to...”

    Malgus felt another attack, as he was violently shoved forward again. This time Ashara had struck at his back with her own lightsaber. Malgus realized that Nox and his follower were working to burn through his armor, attacking the same spot on his back.

    He immediately turned and Force Pushed Ashara, sending her flying across the brightly lit battleground and into the wall of the crater beneath the breach of the exposed wall he and his dead followers had emerged from earlier. Malgus chose to ignore the gaggle of Mandalorian mercenaries watching the battle from the breach in the wall above the crater floor.

    Ashara, however, did not crash into the wall. She landed against the crater’s rock wall on her feet, and immediately sprang back at Malgus with her two lightsabers blazing, the blue one on defense and the red one pointed in the attack. Malgus dodged to his left and escaped both Ashara’s frontal attack and Nox’s sneak attack at his back.

    Malgus spat out, “Cowardly!”

    Nox laughed, retorting, “Effective!” Tauntingly, he added, “If you don’t want to die by my hand then remove your helm. Freeze to death, and rob me of my victory!”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Wrehn asked, “Any luck yet, Mako?”

    Mako shook her head slowly in the negative then answered, “I got their frequency, but they are using a very tough encryption algorithm. There’s definitely a lot of chatter, but all I’m getting is a bunch of high pitched beeps and clicks.”

    Gault cut in, “They’re up to something. Some of them are abandoning their positions on the perimeter.”

    Wrehn changed channels and called out, “Captain Tartan. Why are some of your troops moving? They need to keep the perimeter.”

    Captain Tartan replied, “How did you ever become a Great Hunt Champion? You’ve barely fired your weapon at an enemy, here. We did all of your fighting.”

    Wrehn cursed under her breath, and then vehemently ordered, “I don’t have time for a mutiny now, Captain! Get your people back in position and stand by for my orders!”

    Captain Tartan replied, “I’m going to show my men some real fighting!”

    Torian shouted furiously, “Captain Tartan, honor the contract!”

    Tartan replied, “We are honoring the contract. Lieutenant Dremon is defending the breach, to prevent the Imps from reinforcing your client’s enemy, and the bulk of my platoon is maintaining the exterior perimeter against a possible but very unlikely counter attack from an enemy outside the base. Only a small part of my platoon is joining me to challenge the Great Hunt Champion.”

    Skadge commented excitedly, “I wanna play! Come on! Let’s have a little fun!”

    Torian, Gault, Mako, and Wrehn all shouted, “Shut it, Skadge!”

    Gault asked, “Say, Captain, didn’t we have a deal? We’re paying you top credits for this job. Don’t tell me you’re trying to renegotiate the terms, now...”

    Mako spoke as though trying to explain a simple concept to a dimwitted Gamorrean palace guard on Hutta, “Captain Tartan, Wrehn is the Great Hunt Champion – for a reason!

    Captain Tartan answered, sounding mystified as to why Mako couldn’t understand.

    “But this is why we are challenging her. We want to see it for ourselves.”

    Clearly frustrated, Mako threw her hands in the air, “Of course! I should have known! It’s one of those “Mandalorian” things!”

    Turning on Torian, Mako chided him.

    “Why do you Mandalorians always gotta prove stuff with a fight to the death?! You people don’t make any sense!” Pointing a thumb over her shoulder at her boss, she added, “Why can’t you be more level headed and practical, like Wrehn?”

    Mako gave a little hop as she became startled by the full auto report of Wrehn’s twin blasters.

    Wrehn’s mouth also blasted her anger at her subcontractor, “You miserable mynock’s turd! I’ll vaporize your ungrateful carcass!”

    Everyone dove for cover, everyone except for Wrehn who was shooting wildly at Tartan as he scrambled for cover behind a rock shard, and Skadge who was whooping and hollering, as he detached his heavy blaster rifle from its carrying mount on the back of his armor.

    Excitedly, he shouted over Wrehn’s foul curses, “Yeah!! That’s what I’m talkin’ about, Wrehn!! Let’s get ‘em!!”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Meanwhile, taking advantage of Malgus’ attention on Nox, Vereta used that time to concentrate and build up power in The Force. She released a powerful bolt of Force Lighting at Malgus. However, Malgus, without even looking, brought up his lightsaber and deflected the lighting attack back at her. She barely blocked her own attack with her own lightsaber, narrowly escaping a humiliating death by her own attack.

    Disgust tinged Malgus’ tone as he spoke scathingly to Nox, telling him, “The Empire cannot stand with one, such as you leading it! It is people like you, with your back dealing, and back stabbing that has weakened the Empire, draining it of its capable leadership with each assassination! It is why the Galactic Republic will gain such an enormous advantage over us!”

    Nox laughed out loud, as Ashara pointed out the obvious, “It is your treason that has divided the Empire against itself and that has given our enemies in the Republic the advantage! For all of your noble talk of giving all Imperials a chance to rise according to their own merits, you have robbed them of the very chance with this betrayal! The Dark Council will never consider such a possibility again, because it will be associated with your treason!”

    Nox spoke speculatively, “Actually, if I were to propose such a thing, and successfully implement it, I could gain a great following of aliens who will owe their new found elevated status to me…. That could prove to be a powerful tool to further my own goals.” Returning his attention to Malgus, he added facetiously, “Thanks for the idea, Malgus. I think it has serious potential for my own ambitions.”

    Malgus responded indignant, “Such hypocrisy! You battle me to preserve the throne for the ineffective Emperor Vitiate. Yet, you seek the throne for yourself?!”

    Nox answered as though it was obvious, “Well, of course. I’m just not ready, yet. But I’m not going to let you have the throne, either.”

    The quality of the lighting changed as one of the dropships moved from its position illuminating the battleground. Nox surmised that meant that Xalek had found Khem and was going to load him onto the craft.

    With the light source removed, the lighting on the ground changed, creating shadows. Nox hoped the change in the lighting caused enough of a distraction for him to take advantage. He concentrated as he built up power in The Force, and when he thought Malgus might attack, Nox unleashed a terrible blinding bolt of Force lightning at him, which Malgus deflected into the rocky ground with his weapon.

    Ashara dashed forward in the attack and struck Malgus in the back, burning deeper into his armor. Nox used Force Persuasion again, to trick Malgus into thinking that he was standing in place as he prepared for another lightning attack, but Nox began to creep forward to get behind Malgus for another attack with his sabrestaff. Malgus spun to strike Ashara with his lightsaber, Ashara crossed her two weapons, blocking Malgus’ attack and trapping his weapon in the crux of her crossed saber beams.

    Malgus gave Ashara a Force powered front kick, sending her flying into the crater wall, again. However, she had used The Force to guard against his powerful kick, and again, Ashara maneuvered herself, so that she could bounce off the wall with her feet, and land on the ground standing and at the ready.

    Realizing she could not out match his power, she thought to herself, “He is strong!

    Ashara was beginning to see that Malgus’ power was greater than that of her husband and lord, Darth Nox. Lord Ashara realized that Darth Nox was in danger, and that he didn’t know it, yet. She began to see that Malgus was possibly toying with them.

    Meanwhile, Malgus had spun again to face Nox. Thrusting both hands forward as though he were shoving a heavy object, he blasted Nox with a powerful Force Push attack. Nox’s Force Persuasion attempt failed completely. Malgus would not be tricked a second time.

    Nox tumbled end over end as he flew into the darkness out of the lighted battleground. Nox used The Force to recover and land on his feet. His face, chest, belly, the front of his thighs all stung mightily, as though he’d done a belly flop into a pool of freezing water from a great height. Ignoring the stinging pain, he ran back to the lighted battleground, and noticed that Malgus was not there.

    Instinct.

    Nox rolled to one side, avoiding a rock shard hurled at him from the darkness. The rock crashed into the lighted ground ahead of him. Nox sprang back to his feet, reigniting his sabrestaff and pivoting to his right to face his enemy.

    In the darkness, all that Nox could see was Malgus’ deep red lightsaber beam, angled down alongside his leg, illuminating a small patch of ground and dimly bathing Malgus’ black Imperial Army armored suit in its deep red glow.

    Malgus took a running leap into the air, his red glowing weapon raised overhead. Nox dashed to the left, towards the lighted battleground. Malgus landed where Nox had stood a moment before and immediately charged at Nox.

    Nox stood at the ready with his sabrestaff, then reaching his offhand towards Malgus, fired off a blast of Force Lightning. Malgus was forced to lower his weapon to intercept the lightning attack with his lightsaber as he closed in on Nox, thus his attack on Nox was spoiled.

    Nox took advantage of this, attacking as though he would thrust his weapon at his enemy’s gut, but as Malgus moved to parry his thrust, Nox quickly flipped the rear saber beam up and over towards the front, raising his weapon above Malgus’ parry, and thrust his weapon at Malgus’ throat.

    Malgus dodged the attack, spinning on one foot while raising his other to land a side kick into Nox’s hip, sending him stumbling and rolling to the side. Nox quickly recovered, and was back on his feet, his sabrestaff in the ready.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Torian stuck his head out from behind a rock shard and located some of the Mandalorians which had decided it was a great idea to challenge Wrehn and her crew to a battle of skill and cunning. He took aim with his blaster rifle and used its laser range finder to determine their range.

    Then he loaded a self propelled grenade at the end of his blaster rifle and switched his weapon’s fire setting to ‘grenade launcher.’ A holographic reticle was projected above his weapon, one near the muzzle, and one above the pistol grip at the trigger housing group. He punched in the range the weapon’s laser range finder had indicated, adding two meters.

    Two thin red horizontal lines appeared in the reticle, at the front and back holographic projections. He lined up the two lines and squeezed the trigger. A very low powered blaster bolt discharged from his rifle, igniting the propellant of the self propelled grenade.

    The grenade shot forward with a bang, arcing up and then down, as it traversed the one hundred and fifty meters his range finder told him was the distance to his target. Then, traveling two meters past the rock cover behind which the three mercenaries cowered, the grenade detonated.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Darth Nox turned to look behind himself upon hearing the grenade blast through the helmet of his space suit. He was greeted by the sight of variously colored blaster bolts flying back and forth in the pitch black area outside of the lighted battleground. A few of the bolts flew well over his head and struck the crater wall behind him, expending their energies as their uniformly aligned energy waves were suddenly disorganized and radiated in all directions with the force of a powerful blast. Pieces of the crater rock wall shattered and were sent scattering onto the crater floor in the lighted area of the battleground.

    He asked his contractor, “Have Darth Malgus’ forces pinned us against the crater wall, Yehw’reh’nomai?”

    Panting for breath and growling out some of her words as she nearly shouted her reply, Wrehn said, “Nah! Just some of my – hired guns messing around. They – BLASTED K’LOR’SLUG! YOU’LL PAY FOR THAT!! Uh, sorry about that. I – I was saying they got bored of – just sitting around. Sorry about the distraction. Don’t worry about it. I’ll get this mess sorted out.”

    Nox, shaking his head in disbelief at what he’d heard and with great frustration, ordered, “Get this straightened out quickly! You’re embarrassing me in front of my enemy!”

    Wrehn angrily growled out, “You got it, Dark Lord!!”

    Nox turned about and found that Malgus had not moved.

    Thinking that his enemy was foolish for not taking advantage of a distracted foe, Nox told him, “You certainly are quite the gentleman, Malgus.”

    He’d meant that as an insult, but there was no irony in his tone, so Malgus took it as a complement. He gave Nox a slight bow at the waist, acknowledging what he thought to be praise.

    Malgus returned the gesture, complementing Nox’s battle prowess.

    “From our small exchange with our lightsabers, I can gauge your proficiency in the martial arts. You’re skill with that weapon is not just technical, but is telling of your combat experience. I can see there is truth to the many claims of your personal involvement on the battlefield from the way you handled yourself, here. Now, let me test your power in The Force.”

    Nox wondered what dark secrets he might glean from his battles with his enemy. Malgus let his hatred and his malice radiate from him. Nox felt the power of the Dark Side flow from Malgus in crushing waves. He felt himself become overcome with fear and felt himself losing command of his thoughts. The aura radiating from his enemy was terrible!

    Nox felt the pressure of Malgus’ power push against his being and sapping his strength. He felt as though he would be crushed by it as he sank to his hands and knees and found himself barely able to take in a breath as the crushing aura seemed to squeeze his entire being.

    Through his rapidly growing fear, even as he fought desperately to keep his sanity, Nox thought to himself, “I want that power!

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Zigzagging towards a covered and concealed mercenary, assisted by his powered armored suit, Skadge rapidly closed the distance to the lone Mandalorian fighter. He jumped up and over the rock and came crashing down, feet first onto the crouching Mandalorian fighter.

    Skadge rolled forward and ended up on his feet. He pivoted on his right foot, snap turning his bulky frame, made bigger by his armored suit, and pointed his blaster rifle at the mercenary lying spread eagle on the rocky crater floor. Skadge could see on the display screen in his helm, the low light image of the mercenary laying, unmoving, on his back.

    Skadge walked to the motionless fighter and gave a light kick on the mercenary’s helmet. There was no reaction.

    The Houk brute declared, “Ha! Ha! Too easy!” He turned to run off to where he’d last seen another fighter taking cover behind another rock shard.

    Wrehn had seen what the Houk did and shouted angrily, “Skadge, I swear I’m gonna dock your pay for the damages to my suit!”

    Skadge replied, “This suit is a lot of fun! I’m gonna see what else it can do!”

    Gault and Torian had both rushed to the large rock fragment, behind which the three Mandalorians had been taking cover, and found the three warriors unsteady on their feet, staggering back to the safety of the perimeter still manned by the mercenaries that hadn’t taken part in the challenge. The three had left their weapons behind.

    Gault observed, “Damn! Still alive after taking a hit from a grenade? Those are some real good armored suits they’re wearing!”

    Torian had gathered up the abandoned blaster rifles, and leaned them against the rock. He stepped back a few paces and then, firing his own rifle at the weapons, destroyed them.

    Looking at the three stumbling and staggering trio making their sluggish escape, Gault asked, “Do we finish them off?”

    Torian replied, “No. Under the rules of a challenge of skill, if you can’t fight, then you leave the battle. They have left the battle, by destroying their weapons I have made sure they cannot return to the fight.”

    Wrehn had heard what Torian said and angrily shouted her questions at him.

    “You mean I can’t kill ‘em?! I want to kill ‘em! Why can’t I kill ‘em?!”

    Torian replied, shocked at Wrehn’s attitude, “If you killed them as they retired from battle, it would be seen as unsportsmanlike. It would sully your reputation!”

    Wrehn furiously shouted, “I just want them dead! To hell with my reputation!”

    From behind a rock shard, she scanned ahead but found none of the renegade Mandalorians she’d shot at a moment before.

    She cursed, “Damn it, Tartan! Where did you hide your miserable mynock’s hide?!”

    Gault said dryly, “Try asking him that on the command channel, Wrehn. I don’t think he heard you.”

    Wrehn shot back, hotly, “That was a rhetorical question, smart ass! I know he wouldn’t tell me, even if I did ask him on the command channel!”

    Then she took off running to where she’d last seen the mutinous mercenary captain. Mako darted after Wrehn, taking cover as cover became available. As Wrehn ran past a pile of rock ruble, a mercenary popped up, taking aim at her back, but he dove for cover as two blaster bolts flew past him, with a third one exploding on the right side of his armor. Mako got him.

    She ran up to the felled mercenary to be sure of her kill. When she found him, he was rolling onto his back. She watched as he then began to push his weapon away from where he lay, wounded.

    Mako, pointing her blaster rifle at him, snarled, “Do I have to finish you off, or are you gonna quit?”

    The poor man gasped in obvious agony, “I, I quit.”

    Mako pivoted on her heels and continued chasing after Wrehn, covering her boss’ rear.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Ashara found Vereta and told her, “You and I must work as one to complement the dark lord’s attacks against the traitor.”

    Concern tingeing her tone, Vereta asked, “Did you see what he did to my Force Lighting attack?” Vereta didn’t wait for Ashara’s reply, instead answering her own question. “He deflected it back at me.” She added with urgency, “He nearly killed me with my own attack!”

    It wasn’t fear of death that caused Vereta to utter those words, but her realization of the difference of the power and control in The Force Malgus exercised with the way he’d deflected her attack. She realized she was a mere acolyte when compared to Malgus.

    Speaking firmly, Ashara replied, “I watched him block your attack without looking to see from where the attack had come. He is very strong in The Force.” Speaking confidently, however, she informed Vereta, “And this is how we will distract and weaken him, so that the dark lord may strike him down.”

    Switching to the guard channel, Ashara contacted the pilots of the shuttles.

    “Shuttle crew that landed to recover the servants of the dark lord, answer me.”

    “Talon Two, my lord, what are your orders?”

    “Ask Lord Xalek to switch to the guard channel, so that I may converse with him.”

    “As you command, my lord.”

    A couple of moments later, “This is Xalek. What do you want?”

    Ashara replied caustically, “How long did you plan on hiding and sulking on that ship?!” She added, her tone dripping with derision, “Please don’t tell me you were actually going to hide in that ship?”

    Xalek furiously bellowed, “YOU WILL REGRET YOUR INSULTS!!”

    Vereta couldn’t see Ashara’s smirk under her helmeted visor, as the Togrutan switched back to Nox’s restricted command channel and told her, “Give me a little space. Lord Xalek is furious. He might come at me, and I might need to duck and dodge him a bit until I can point him at Malgus.”

    Vereta remarked, “We cannot afford to be distracted. Lord Xalek isn’t going to get in our way, is he?”

    Ashara dodged left, away from Vereta as an unknown object came tumbling towards her. The object crashed against the crater wall and clattered to the crater floor. It was an Imperial blaster rifle.

    Xalek, running at full tilt, launched himself in a flying leap at Ashara. He gave a furious shout, but his helmet conspired to hide his ferocious battle cry from everyone else, since it wasn’t broadcast over the communications system. Xalek held his sabrestaff like a javelin as electricity arced in his free hand. Meanwhile, he caused a rock shard to launch at his rival’s back.

    Ashara Zavros reached behind herself and wrenched control of the flying rock shard from Xalek, and sent it flying towards Malgus instead. Malgus dodged the rock and ignored Ashara, he was speaking to Nox.

    Ashara used The Force to pull her rival, Xalek, towards her and forced him to the ground six meters in front of her.

    She told him, “Good! You are in a fighting mood! Now, focus your rage at Malgus, but don’t let your fury cause you to fly so easily out of control of your senses. Support the dark lord.”

    Xalek barked back, “Do not presume to lecture me! When this is done, look to our own duel. I will finally end you!”

    Ashara replied, “The dark lord will miss you, but if that is what you want, I will not stop you from dying at my hands.”

    Xalek ran towards Nox, intending to fight two on one against Malgus. Instead, he dropped to his hands and knees, feeling the horrible crush of malign hatred. He had entered a field of crushing darkness that filled him with such fear, nearly sending him into panic. His breathing became quick and shallow, and sweat burst from his skin.

    Tears gushed from his eyes as he cried out, “Master! What is this?!”

    Nox replied, his own breathing was labored, “This is Malgus’ power…, power that I want!” After a pause to catch his breath, he added, “Grow stronger with me, Lord Xalek! Use your fear! Turn it into hatred! Embrace this darkness and let it fuel your hatred of our enemy!”

    Xalek was shocked to hear Malgus’ voice on Nox’s restricted command channel.

    “Lord Xalek, cast aside your old title. Join me, and receive a new title in my new empire. I will teach you better than your weak master can. Or would you rather die on your hands and knees?”

    Xalek looked at Nox on his feet, standing strong with his ignited weapon in one hand, and his free hand balled into a fist.

    Nox simply told Xalek, “Choose, wisely, Lord Xalek. Whom will you serve?”

    Xalek immediately heard the difference in Nox’s voice. It was strong, and his master no longer labored to breathe. At that moment, Xalek realized that Nox had already overcome his terrible unreasoning fear, and that he had become stronger. Xalek resolved to follow Nox, choosing to defeat his own fear with hatred.

    Roaring out his fury, he fought the crush of darkness, rising to his feet as had his master.

    He then turned to face Malgus, and raged at him.

    “I WILL NEVER SERVE YOU!! I WILL GROW STRONGER WITH MY MASTER, DARTH NOX!!”

    With that, Xalek unleashed a long torrent of Force Lightning at his enemy, which Malgus deflected using his lightsaber. Nox wasted no time, dashing forward with his own attack. As Nox neared his hated enemy, Xalek ended his Force Lightning attack, so that Nox would not be caught in it.

    Malgus deflected Nox’s sabrestaff as he parried Nox’s thrusting attack, towards his belly. With both weapons occupied, crossing their cutting beams, Nox reached forward and placed his space suit gloved offhand on Malgus’ armored breastplate. Just as Nox attacked with a focused blast of kinetic Force energy at Malgus’ heart, Malgus sent out a blast of kinetic Force energy outward, negating Nox’s attack and sending his enemy flying backwards.

    Malgus thought to leap into the attack at Nox, but found himself welded to the frozen rock floor of the crater. His boots were being held down with The Force, Malgus turned at the waste and blasted Ashara, behind him, with a blinding white bolt of Force Lightning, which Ashara deflected using her blue lightsaber. In an instant, Ashara touched the tip of her blue saber, which caught Malgus’ lighting attack, to her red beamed weapon, near its hilt, and then touched the red saber to the rock floor, which allowed the current of Malgus’ attack to flow into the rocky ground.

    At that moment, Vereta released a Force Lightning bolt attack at Malgus’ back. Malgus twisted, at his waste, the other way, catching the Force Lightning bolt with his own saber, and deflecting the attack back at Vereta. This time, however, Ashara leapt sideways with her weapon extended and caught the Force Lighting bolt attack, saving Vereta’s life.

    Ashara then bounded forward towards Malgus’ back. He still couldn’t move his boots off the rock surface without damaging his armored footwear, and he couldn’t turn to face her attack. Malgus bent over backwards at the knees, suspending himself with The Force, and thrust his lightsaber at Ashara just before she could reach his vulnerably exposed back.

    With her forward momentum, Ashara had no choice but to leap over him, using The Force to propel herself high above the reach of his own weapon. Ashara entered Malgus’ field of hatred and corruption. She felt the fear and panic and the sense of being crushed as she tumbled towards him. She began to lose focus, and battled mightily to keep Malgus’ boots firmly tethered to the rock surface.

    Malgus, however, reached up at Ashara as she tumbled past high above him, and used The Force to grab her in mid-flight. He then swept his hand sideways and down towards the rock littered surface of the crater. Ashara, in his grip, changed direction in midair and followed the arc of his hand, smashing onto the crater surface.

    Malgus stood straight up again as Ashara’s grip on his boots was broken. He then spun about and swung his arm towards the crater wall, as though hurling a stone. Ashara’s winded body was thus thrown against the rock surface. Ashara crashed limply against the crater wall and rebounded a short distance back, falling in a heap onto the crater floor.

    Malgus felt himself being violently shoved forward, forcing him to take several stumbling steps forward as he tried to regain his balance. His toe got caught on a rock shard sending him tripping forward. Reflexively, he converted his forward fall into a forward roll, and ended up on a knee facing back at his attacker, reaching with his free hand.

    It was Xalek who’d attacked that point in his armor which Nox and Ashara had been trying to penetrate.

    Xalek cursed his own stupidity, “Blast! Why didn’t I go for the weak spot at the back of his neck?!

    That was all he had time to think, as Malgus blasted him with a blinding bolt of Force Lightning. Xalek’s world went dark, as he felt flat onto his face. His weapon deactivated as it struck the rock surface clattering away from where he lay.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Skadge whooped then shouted on Wrehn’s command channel, “I got another one! Look at ‘em run!”

    Wrehn’s team was forced to momentarily fall back as they regrouped. Once grouped, her team went back on the offensive. From the outset, when Wrehn began shooting, Tartan lost members of his team in ones and twos, leaving him with only himself and four others.

    He cursed and groused to himself, “Blasted she-nexu! Already took out over half of my people!

    On his platoon command channel, he told his remaining team mates, “We can’t underestimate them. See what operating solo has got us?”

    One of his men complained, “It’s more like she started shooting before we could go over the ground rules.”

    Another of his team mates added, “At least she hasn’t killed any of our people, but they’re shooting at full power, like they want to kill us!”

    Tartan gave his orders.

    ”We’re going to go on the offensive. We’ll finish this, here and now. If it goes into hand to hand combat, we’ll have a better chance to break up their momentum and separate them. We got the advantage in melee combat. Two of them are women.”

    One of his men objected, “They got that monster Houk with them, and one of those women is the Great Hunt Champion.”

    Another of his people laughed, adding, “It’s more like they have the advantage!”

    Tartan cut in, telling his remaining men, “Look sharp! Here they come!”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Skadge observed, “I wish I had my blaster cannon. This would have been over a long time ago.” A moment later he laughed, adding, “I’m glad I ain’t got my blaster cannon with me. This would have been over a long time ago!”

    Gault laughed, adding, “Gotta stretch out the fun times, right?”

    Mako spoke excitedly, “I got it! I’m in!”

    Wrehn spoke, “Tell me what you’ve got, Mako.”

    “They’re gonna fight hand to hand!”

    Torian Cadera called out, “There they are! Look sharp!”

    A viscous grin exploded onto Wrehn’s face, her cheek stung, reminding her of what Nox had done to her face, and realizing the kolto was starting to wear off.

    Wrehn growled out with grim determination, “Let them come!” Then she gave her orders, “Everybody, set your blast shields to full power, I’m gonna drop a concussion grenade in the middle of it all.”

    Gault complained, “Aw, not that! I hate that!”

    Skadge pumped his fist in the air, shouting, “Yeah! Let’s do it!

    Mako asked, “Can I stay back until after the blast?”

    Wrehn answered, “No-yeah. After the blast, start picking them off with your blaster!”

    Torian shouted, “Let’s go!”

    Wrehn ordered, “Close in on the attack! Shoot as you scoot!”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Tartan shouted, “Here they come!” When he noticed one was not among them, he added, “The little one’s stayed back! Find her then keep their team between her and us, so that she can’t shoot!” Then he ordered, “Open fire! Close the distance to the foe!”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Both teams ran hard at each other while shooting. Their shots were wild, with only a few rock fragments getting hit, and most of the shots going either too high or too low. One of the renegade mercenaries brought his weapon up over his head to slam his opponent with the butt of his weapon, but Skadge was too big, and much faster than he had expected.

    Skadge swung from down low, leveraging his full weight and momentum, his balled armored glove arcing upwards and catching the Mandalorian mercenary in the mid-section. The Mando mercenary flew up and over Skadge’s head. The hapless mercenary crashed onto the rocky crater floor behind Skadge as he darted for the next Mandalorian mercenary.

    Gault complained, “Why couldn’t I bring out my sniper rifle?! Why do I have to get in close and dirty with these turds?!”

    Gault pointed his blaster point blank into the midsection of one of Wrehn’s hired renegade mercenaries and fired off a shot. The disbursing energies of the blaster bolt knocked both the poor mercenary and Gault backwards away from each other. Both combatants slammed the rocky floor of the crater on their backs.

    The mercenary writhed and kicked, while clutching at his midsection. His shield generator and armor saved his life, absorbing the majority of that energy blast, but enough residual energy remained to heat his armor to the point of giving him first and second degree burns to his abdomen and chest. Thankfully, his armor cooled very quickly in the super frigid atmosphere of Ilum, which greatly limited the extent of his burns.

    Gault’s armor did a better job of protecting him from the disbursing energies of his blaster bolt. He also saw his chance, and lay still. He had no intention of getting mixed up in melee combat any more than he had to.

    Mako screamed out, “Gault is down! Gault’s down!”

    Gault felt guilt for having caused Mako to become distressed, thinking to himself, “Sorry, Mako, but I’m not gonna risk getting killed on my last day of work on this crew.

    He’d become rankled at Wrehn’s snarky comment.

    “Gault, quit goofing off! Get back on your feet and get to work! I got your vitals displayed on my screen!”

    Needless to say, he was displeased, as well as embarrassed.

    As he rolled to his side, and got on his hands and knees, he complained, “I’m not goofing off!” He got to his feet, adding, “I was just catching my breath! And let me add that you monitoring my vitals without telling me is an invasion of my privacy!”

    Wrehn explained, “I lied, Gault. I don’t have your vitals. So your privacy is protected!” She laughed raucously at Gault’s expense, adding, “This is the biggest payday you will ever make on my crew. I’m gonna be sure you earn your keep!”

    Torian leapt into the air and landed a flying kick on his opponent’s breast plate. The mercenary crashed onto his back, but before he could get to his feet, he found himself looking straight into the muzzle of Torian’s blaster rifle.

    Torian menaced out the mercenary’s choices.

    “Give up or die. Which do you choose?”

    The Mando fighter lay back onto the crater floor, speechless.

    Torian wasn’t satisfied with that and let his opponent know it, telling him, “I didn’t hear you. I’ll take your silence as your wish to die.”

    The Mando raised both hands placatingly and pleaded, “I know I’m beaten! I yield!”

    Torian warned him, “Don’t move from this spot. I’ll make sure you die if you do.”

    The Mando fighter assured Torian, “I won’t get up until it’s all done!”

    Tartan found himself with only one fighter remaining by his side. The two mercenaries looked around themselves and found all five of their opponents still on their feet, and closing in on them both. Tartan’s last remaining fighter cast aside his rifle and lay down.

    Tartan lightly tapped the surrendering fighter with the toe of his boot on his helm, and half jokingly cursed him, “Heh. Coward.”

    “Sorry Captain. We started eleven strong against five, and in no time at all, we’re down to two. And they haven’t lost a one. I say that means we’re beat.”

    Tartan shook his head, disgusted at himself and at his team. He looked up at Wrehn’s crew. He knew that one of them, the only one with twin blaster pistols, was Yehw’reh’nomai.

    He told her, “Your crew is sharp. It was our mistake to underestimate them.”

    Wrehn said nothing, as she gave her attention to adjusting the power settings on her twin blasters.

    He went on, “I’m all that’s left of the challenge. I ask that even as I acknowledge your team’s victory, that you grant me the honor of single combat against you.”

    She raised her weapon, leveling it at his chest and replied, “Granted,” whereupon she immediately let loose a single shot into his chest.

    He was blown off his feet and crashed onto his back. His shield generator was completely depleted by the shot, and the paint on his armor was scorched. He felt his chest warm up, where the remaining energies expended themselves on his armor. His armor had saved him, but he faced a furiously outraged opponent, and didn’t expect to be spared.

    Wrehn walked up to the defeated Tartan, and pointing her weapon at his helmeted face declared furiously, “I SO WANT TO KILL YOU!!!”

    After a long silence, she lowered her weapon and speaking disgustedly, told Tartan, “But I have a reputation to maintain.”

    Tartan’s shaking voice came back, “I yield, Great Hunt Champion.”

    Wrehn holstered her pistols, and announced, “Enough messing around! Get back to your posts!!”

    Torian pumped a fist into the air, letting out a big, “Whoop!”

    Excited that his employer had chosen to end the challenge in such good form, he shouted exultantly, “HAIL YEHW’REH’NOMAI! HAIL THE GREAT HUNT CHAMPION!”

    The shout was taken up by Tartan’s defeated mercenaries, “HAIL YEHW’REH’NOMAI! HAIL THE GREAT HUNT CHAMPION!”

    The other Mandalorians, who’d been watching the match, both on the perimeter out in the open rock strewn crater floor and from the breach in the crater’s wall, cheered and fired their blasters into the black, star filled afternoon sky, filling it with many hundreds of blaster bolts of several different colors. They cheered Wrehn’s victory, and cheered her forbearance in not slaying their company commander. They rather liked him.

    “HAIL YEHW’REH’NOMAI! HAIL THE GREAT HUNT CHAMPION!”

    ___________________________________________________________________________________​

    Darth Nox came to realize the extreme cold conspired against him. He looked around the light flooded battleground at his defeated servants.

    He thought bitterly, “All dead. The Force is with Malgus.

    He seriously thought about escaping and instantly became infuriated at the fact that he would actually entertain such an idea. He spoke bitterly to his enemy.

    “I and my servants have killed you several times over, Malgus. This cold saps the heat energy from our weapons and keeps your armor cold enough to make piercing it a real chore.”

    Then he growled out through clenched teeth, because admitting this truth struck him at his core.

    “The Force is with you, Malgus.”

    Darth Malgus knew full well that he would be rejected, but he taunted Nox with what he said next anyway.

    “Then you know you are beaten. Kneel before me and become my servant, Darth Nox. I shall strip you of your old title and grant you a new one in my new empire.”

    Nox had become livid on hearing those words.

    His low voice quavered in rage as he shot back, “I would rather die a tortuous death than to kneel before you, worm!”

    Vereta had been listening to the exchange between Nox and Malgus. She didn’t want to die. She’d already been nearly killed twice. She realized how outmatched they all were in the face of Malgus’ power, and she had lost faith in Nox’s power.

    She finally understood that Malgus had only been redirecting her Force Lightning attacks back at her because he had seen some flaw in the way that she carried out her attacks. She realized that until she figured out this flaw, she could never even hope to be a match for him.

    Vereta knelt, declaring, “I yield to you, Emperor Malgus! I shall relinquish my title and serve you in your new empire!”

    Nox looked at Vereta’s space suited kneeling form and cursed her cowardice, telling her, “In the end you were utterly useless to me.” Turning to face Malgus, he said, “You can have her. I have no need of her.”

    Malgus walked over to Vereta and said, “Thank you for your declaration, but I would have preferred it if you had made your decision to support me a bit sooner than this…,” Malgus blasted Vereta where she knelt with a blinding bolt of Force Lightning, then told her dead body, “but I don’t need you either.”

    Malgus turned about to face Nox and said, “I thank you for paying me the courtesy of allowing me to complete my business with my servant.”

    Nox tsked disgustedly and chiding himself, said, “Blast! My mind is wandering. I wasted a perfectly good opportunity to stab you in the back.”

    As he re-ignited his lightsaber, with Nox following suit, Malgus retorted, “And here I thought I could think you died with some honor, but it was just a lapse that caused you to miss a chance to be underhanded before I killed you.”

    Nox dashed forward in the attack, a bolt of Force Lightning aimed at Malgus’ helmeted head. Malgus raised his weapon and deflected it, while countering with Force Lighting attack of his own. Nox used his own weapon to defend against Malgus’ attack. Nox, then lifted his weapon to block Malgus’ powerful downward swing of his weapon.

    As soon as the two weapons met, Nox bent to his knee under the weight of Malgus’ blow. Malgus instantly brought his weapon back up for another strike, believing that Nox was seeking death in battle. However, Nox reached forward with his free hand, and as soon as it touched Malgus’ knee, he blasted it with a powerfully focused wave of Force Push, crushing his knee inside his armored legging.

    Nox rolled forward as Malgus screamed out his agony and collapsed to his hands and his one good knee. Nox immediately stood and turned to face his enemy. Using The Force, Nox blasted Malgus with Force Push, flattening Malgus onto the rock floor at the bottom of the crater. Nox then leapt high into the air and came down over Malgus’ exposed back.

    Nox drove his sabrestaff into the gouge he and his servants had been digging out of Malgus’ armor. His weapon had finally pierced through the tough, cold reinforced, armor and then through his spine and finally into his enemy’s internal organs. The tip of Nox’s sabrestaff beam stopped on the inside of the front of Malgus’ armor.

    He wrenched his weapon’s cutting beam out of his enemy’s back and holding it up to the black, star filled afternoon sky roared in furious victory. At that moment, hundreds of blaster bolts of various colors, blue, red, yellow, orange, and green rose up through the black afternoon Ilum sky. It was as though colored rain were falling up towards the heavy dusting of stars. Nox’s rush of victory was magnified by this glorious display of colors racing to the stars.

    With his remaining strength, Malgus managed to roll onto his side, and pointing his unsteady hand at Nox, standing over him, blasted his conqueror with a bolt of Force Lighting.

    Nox was struck by the attack, but his shield generator absorbed much of the energy before being depleted. Nox didn’t realize he’d been struck in the attack until he found himself on his back wondering why there were so many stars swimming around among the star littered black afternoon sky of Ilum.

    He quickly sprung to his feet, and looked about until he found Malgus lying on his side on the shattered deeply frozen rock of the crater floor. With Malgus dead, and his victory sealed, Nox remembered again, his followers and his wife, Ashara. Looking about, he saw Xalek sitting silently, facing towards Nox and his defeated foe, Malgus.

    Nox turned towards the crater wall, and found her piled in a heap on the crater floor near the wall. Ashara hadn’t moved since getting thrown into it by Malgus.

    Feeling a pang of worry, Nox called to her, “Ashara?”

    He walked towards her, his steps becoming increasingly hurried, as he called out again, “Ashara?!”

    Nox fired off another blast of Force Lighting on Magus’ corps as he rushed passed the unmoving

    traitor to be sure his foe was dead, as he ran towards Ashara’s still and crumpled form.

    He called out again, “Ashara!”

    Nox untangled her body, piled against a rock shard, near the wall, and laid her on her back. Hope back to him as he watched her struggle to move her hand to point at the side of her helmet. Her comm gear had been damaged. She signaled she could receive but not transmit. He was overcome with great relief that the worst had not occurred.

    Nox cut out his communications gear, then touching his helmet to hers, asked, “Ashara. What are your injuries?”

    Ashara’s voice came back through the vibrations of the two helmets against each other. She sounded in obvious pain.

    “Sore all over, my ribs hurt, maybe some are broken. My arm hurts. It’s probably broken. Maybe I have a broken leg, too, my lord.” Then she asked, “My lord, did you defeat your enemy?”

    Nox told Ashara, “I’ll activate your medi-aid system.”

    “Yes, please.”

    Nox pushed a few buttons of her space suit’s controls under a panel on her forearm. The built in medi-aid system administered a dose of kolto.

    Nox touched his helmet to Ashara’s again, and asked, “How’s that? Do you need another dose?”

    “This is fine, my lord.”

    Nox told her, “Malgus is dead. We have won.”

    “I wish I could hear the celebrations when you announced it to the Empire.”

    “You are the first I have told, and you make a good point. I should tell the rest of the Sith Empire, and put a stop to the civil war.”

    Nox stood and turned to face Malgus’ dead body again. He saw Xalek standing over Malgus’ defeated form. On the general command channel, Nox made the announcement.

    “Malgus the Betrayer is dead. The False Emperor is destroyed, killed by my hand. Long live the true Emperor, Vitiate.”

    Colonel Fruntz’s excited voice returned, “Long live the true Sith Emperor! Well done, Dark Lord! I’ll get this news reported across the empire immediately! Again, Dark Lord, congratulations on your hard fought victory!”
     
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