Title: Wrehn, The Great Hunt Champion - For A Reason Author: PlanetSmasher Timeframe: The Old Republic Era. Genre: Action/Adventure Characters: All OC characters, Darth Nox (My version of Darth Nox), Darth Malgus (for bit parts) Summary: Wrehn, a Great Hunt Champion among the Mandalorians, gets access to the best paying jobs. More often than not, those jobs turn out to be the most dangerous. She's also attracted a lot of trouble for herself, and has had to blast her way out of many situations. Wrehn's wisdom is questioned as she takes on her most lucrative job for a Sith lord, the notoriously ruthless Darth Nox. Notes: This story takes place during the Star Wars: The Old Republic era. Around about the time when Nox Ascended the Dark Council. I hope you'll enjoy this. I look forward to comments and critiques. __________________________________________________________________________________________ Chapter One: Wrehn, The Hunter, and The Hunted The Rodian male sat in his ray-shield jail cell at the 427th Imperial Army Police Station, in Limdast City, 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. Meanwhile, an Imperial army clerk registered the Rodian's information into the planet-wide inmate database. As expected, the Rodian was wanted in several cities across Ziost. Several arrest notices had appeared from around the Imperial world. This made Ziost the eighth Imperial planet the criminal was wanted for his violent crimes. The duty sergeant, after receiving authorization from the station commander, proceeded to transfer seven hundred twenty five thousand Imperial credits into the bounty hunter's business account. Then he prompted the Chiss hunter to give her digital signature, verifying the bounty reward amount was correct. Very shortly after, 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. Yehw'reh'nomai gave her best customer service smile. "It was a pleasure doing business with you, Sergeant," she said. "Right," the sergeant replied. He was mystified by her friendly smile. Until a moment before, the Chiss woman’s expression was dour, speaking of a woman who didn’t brook any nonsense from anyone. Her sudden friendly disposition gave the Imperial soldier an excuse to say what was on his mind. "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." The Chiss woman kept silent, her smile beginning to recede from her face while her customary dour expression began its return. Turning to look at the captured Rodian, the Imperial soldier explained what he’d meant. The cobalt blue skinned bounty hunter couldn’t help but notice how strong his Imperial accent was. “I guess every group has their bad seeds," he said, and returning his gaze towards the Chiss, concluded, "and every group has their hardworking, dedicated folk who strive to do good for the betterment of Imperial society." Yehw'reh'nomai, realized that the sergeant, a human male with carbon black skin, meant well with his words. She decided there was no cause to take offense. "I think you’re right, Sergeant,” she told him, saying no more on the matter, but instead saying, “If our business is concluded, then I’ll take my leave. May you enjoy prosperous 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 parked speeder. Two of her crew waited patiently in the vehicle for her return. One thing that he’d gotten wrong was lumping her together with a Rodian. She was Chiss, not Rodian, not Advosec, not Bith, not Duros, nor any of the other myriad species in the galaxy. She was Chiss. This tendency of humans to categorize everyone as either human or alien was mildly irritating to her. Yet, she quickly put it out of her mind. It wasn’t a big deal to her. The bottom line for the bounty hunter was that she was properly paid for her work. The other thing the Imperial Army sergeant had gotten wrong was assuming that she was an Imperial citizen. Yehw'reh'nomai was not. She was Mandalorian. Although the Chiss woman was Mandalorian, she maintained her independence, choosing not to join any of the clans within Mandalore society. When Yehw’reh’nomai chose the life of a bounty hunter, she had also abandoned Chiss society. When she had accepted Mandalorian citizenship, she had also renounced her Chiss Ascendancy citizenship. Yehw’reh’nomai’s status among Mandalorians, however, was quite unique. She was the only living Great Hunt champion in the galaxy. Five years ago, Galactic Republic SIS agents, together with Jedi, had attempted to murder her and her crew. They were after Yehw'reh'nomai and her crew because of their very successful hunts on behalf of Imperial Intelligence. She and her crew had killed or captured key members of the SIS and a Jedi who’d worked closely with their agency. __________________________________________________________________________________________ Five years ago... Yehw'reh'nomai and her crew walked down a busy durasteel walkway in a popular entertainment district. She and her crew were celebrating her victory in the Great Hunt. They’d already stopped at two drinking establishments having had a drink or two at each pub. Mako hailed a taxi. She was a petite, cybernetically enhanced human with creamy white skin and straight, jet black hair cut just below her ears. She was also the first to join Yehw'reh'nomai, as the Chiss bounty hunter recruited members for her crew. “We’re gonna be late to the party if we don’t get going, Champ,” Mako had told her employer. “We will be among such distinguished warriors!” Torian Cadera proclaimed with such pride, “We will be counted as one of them! Others will look to us as great warriors with a name! We owe it all to you, Great Hunt Champion.” Torian Cadera was a human male with white skin, a reddish complexion, and sandy crew cut hair. He was the only other Mandalorian on Yehw'reh'nomai’s crew. Unlike Yehw'reh'nomai however, he was a staunch Mandalorian traditionalist. “We’re gonna have access to the best jobs! The credits are really gonna start coming in!” Yehw'reh'nomai said, excited about their future. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Gault said, rubbing his palms together with a clap, “Credits! Lots and lots of credits!” Gault was a Devaronian male, with very red skin and two horns protruding from the top and front of his forehead. He had one of his horns filed down and hollowed out after an attempt on his life resulted in the horn taking damage. To those who didn’t know him, it seemed as though he had two complete horns. In reality though, he had a prosthetic horn attached which contained tools for slicing computers, deactivating manacles, breaching looked doors, and other tools that could aid in his escape from confinement. The bounty hunters piled into the taxi operated by a Twi’lek male. He became deeply worried, having so many heavily armed and armored people pile into his cab, but he kept his cool, adopting a dry and indifferent attitude. “Where to?” the taxi operator inquired. “Club Vertica Casino!” Mako chirped, excitedly. The taxi ride was quite the tourist show for the passengers. They were treated to brightly colored holographic advertisements, buildings decorated in plasma field lighting with ever changing colors and shades, and many, many tall sub-buildings. For once, Skadge, a burly Houk male, was completely blown away. Each time the Houk looked up at the sky, he saw the enormous pipes and air circulation ducts on the ceiling of the main building floor instead. “What floor are we on?” the Houk asked the taxi operator. “We’re on the seven hundred thirty ninth main building floor. We’ll be on the roof in another twenty minutes, if the traffic keeps moving,” the Twi’lek answered his passenger, seated behind him. “The roof?” Yehw’reh’nomai asked, adding, “I thought Club Vertica was up in the air.” “It is,” the taxi operator replied, “But its not over this building. We gotta get out of this building and go a few buildings over to get to it.” “A few buildings over?” Gault asked, mildly curious. “We’re five buildings over from the Karagga The Unyielding district building.” He knew one of them would ask, so the Twi’lek explained. “We’re in the Bienna The Hutt building district.” As the taxi exited the roof of the Bienna The Hutt building district. The passengers were again blown away by the forest of towering buildings that rose hundreds of stories up from the roof of the main building. The towers were enormous, measuring a few kilometers across. “Hey! Look at that!” Gault said, pointing, “You can see the cities inside of the towers!” Each floor of the mammoth durasteel and transparasteel towers had mini cities of twenty to thirty story sub-buildings inside. The local speeder traffic on each floor were quite congested. The taxi continued to climb until it was high over the tops of the towers, merging with a major freeway. The taxi passengers’ minds were blown away by the size of the traffic. It was as though they were in a swarm of flying insects. The freeway route was filled with so many lanes, and several layers, of traffic – all going in one direction. A thousand meters higher up was a similar swarming throng of traffic, all headed back in the other direction. Finally, after a forty minute commute, the Three Jewels of the Karagga the Unyielding district became visible. The three massive structures floated in an area void of mega towers. Far below the Three Jewels was the rooftop of the Karagga The Unyielding district building. The entire roof, along with the tens of thousands of utility buildings and maintenance sheds, was painted white. The faint blue glow of a force field hovered over the roof, far below. The Three Jewels were the center of tourism, commerce, and high society living. They were The Promenade, which levitated, along with her younger and much smaller twin siblings, Club Vertica and Star Cluster casinos and hotels. The Promenade was a mini city, ten kilometers across, levitating hundreds of stories above the rooftop of its main building far below. The Club Vertica and Star Cluster hotels and casinos were much smaller, at only a kilometer across as they were only hotels and casinos, but the two also levitated above the rooftop of the main building far below them. Located on opposite sides of the Promenade, Club Vertica and Star Cluster slowly orbited the floating mini city. The hotel casinos, made two orbits over a single Nar Shaddaa day night cycle. The hotel and casino guests, sitting in outdoor patios, could enjoy their drinks and fine cuisine with an ever changing cityscape around and below them. The tourists could watch the same ever changing cityscape in the daylight, during breakfast, and again, later at night as they had dinner. The Promenade itself made two rotations per day. The residents and tourists, living in apartment homes or staying in hotel rooms, at the outer perimeter of the floating mini city could also enjoy the ever changing city views. Residents and tourists who stayed in luxury apartments or hotels on The Promenade had the added bonus of watching Club Vertica and Star Cluster slowly drift by, as they made their own orbits around the Promenade. Actually, very few tourists ever had the patience to watch the crawlingly slow change in the cityscape. It did, after all, take all day and all night. Fortunately, for the tourists, there was a high production quality time-lapsed holographic video which showed off this view in an entertaining fashion. The program was only thirty minutes long. It featured the voice of a well-known and respected Hutt news anchor who performed the narration. The famous news anchor detailed various points of interest, tourist attractions, and many popular shopping districts as the aforementioned attractions swept past the point of view of the holo-recorder. For a nominal cost, tourists could purchase this holographic video and watch the changing scenery at their leisure, while learning of other places they could visit – and spend their credits. All three floating mega constructions were wirelessly powered from several enormous and powerful baradium reactors. These reactors took up so much space, that the top two floors of the main building far below had to be combined into enormous two hundred meter high spaces. Operating speeders of any kind for any reason underneath any of the levitating structures was strictly forbidden and carried very stiff penalties for surviving violators. The speeders always suffered severe electrostatic discharge damage to their class three or class three aurek (3a) repulsorlift generators. They always suffered catastrophic power failure and, invariably, the disabled speeders ended up plummeting to the main building rooftop, far below. In the early days after the Promenade had first been levitated, during its construction, several such crashes had already taken place. A famous incident occurred where a speeder crashed through the roof and onto a reactor coolant vessel. This prompted the evacuation of the top six stories of the main building for many kilometers all around the accident. The evacuation lasted twelve weeks, until repairs to the reactor’s cooling system had been completed and the contamination cleaned up. The cost of repairs was a paltry three billion credits, which was negligible compared to the loss in business in the evacuated areas. That loss had totaled a whopping forty nine billion credits during those same twelve weeks. As a consequence, traffic laws were enacted prohibiting the operation of speeders underneath the floating mini city and its satellite casino hotels. To protect the rooftop of the massive building below, and to protect the baradium reactors just under the rooftop, powerful force field generators had also been installed onto the main building rooftop. There was still the problem of drunken speeder operators, thrill seekers, and other idiots who believed that somehow they could make it all the way across – or who very well knew that they wouldn’t make it at all. These dolts, for whatever reason they gave themselves, risked the lethal joy ride underneath one of the three levitating structures. Invariably, they never made it. “It isn’t fair to the insurance companies to have to pay out damages for such utter stupidity!” lobbyists vehemently argued on behalf of the insurance industry, “Those are not accidents. Those are deliberate acts of foolishness! Acts of foolishness must not be covered in speeder insurance policies!” Yet, Karagga the Unyielding had reasoned that someone had to pay for damages done to the rooftop of the main building which, despite the force field’s protection, still suffered some damage. Unmentioned by any party during the hearing, however, was the fact that Karagga actually owned the property in question. Fees, and other inducements, had to be paid to the great and wise Karagga the Unyielding. These fees were quite helpful to the supreme mogul in formulating a practical and equitable solution. In a fair and just ruling, the magnificent and benevolent Karagga the Unyielding had issued his decree. “The unfortunate demise of the foolish speeder operators must never be used as an excuse to get them out of their financial responsibilities. These fools had, after all, flagrantly violated very strict traffic regulations. If the estates of the decedents could not meet their fiduciary obligations, then the responsibility must naturally fall to the surviving relatives of the irresponsible deceased speeder operators.” Never mind that the decedent had been paying premiums to these insurance companies, in some cases for many years; this was a fair and just ruling. Never mind that this ruling effectively nullified legal and binding contracts for services, and that the ruling effectively rewrote the terms of those policies; this was a fair and just ruling. Never mind that third party persons, not responsible for the business dealings of their deceased relatives had been involuntarily made a party to those business dealings; this was a fair and just ruling. To argue that the ruling was other than fair and just required the payment of fees and other inducements, and the families of the dead speeder operators could never afford to pay those. So, they simply resigned themselves to comply with the order. The families and estates had to pay the fines and half of the damages on behalf of the dead moronic speeder operators. The insurance companies were then only responsible for payment of the remaining half of the damages. However, Karagga ruled against the forfeiture of life insurance benefits to the survivors of such utterly stupid speeder operators. “The beneficiaries are not at fault for the utter lack of sense on the part of the imbeciles who so stupidly killed themselves operating their speeders beneath class twelve repulsorlift generators,” Karagga the Unyielding stated in his ruling, “It is bad enough that the surviving relatives have lost one of their own, but to deny them financial benefits while also requiring them to pay half of the damages, too? It is too much to ask of them.” The fees and inducements paid by the insurance industry had turned out to be insufficient. As such, the insurance industry didn’t get all they had set out to get, but it was certainly better than nothing. Also, the surviving families were granted a small amount of relief with the ruling. At the very least they could apply their survival insurance benefits towards the damages for which they had been made responsible. Ironically, this ruling also led to a significant reduction in attempts, by morons, to drive beneath the three levitating structures. As idiotic as those dimwits were, most didn’t want to risk heavy financial burdens on their relatives – on the off-chance they failed to make it all the way across…. Yehw'reh'nomai’s taxi took the complex ever changing route to the floating casino hotel. The speeder lanes for the Promenade and the twin hotel casinos, were constantly changing. It depended on the orientation of the Promenade and of the location of the twin hotel casinos. Speeder operators had to pay attention to the ever changing positions of their destinations. It was not unheard of for hurried drivers to arrive at the wrong hotel casino, or to the wrong quadrant of the Promenade. After debarking their taxi, the party of bounty hunters strolled, talked, and laughed it up on the enormous speeder port at the main level of the floating hotel casino. Yehw'reh'nomai and her party drew a lot of attention from curious onlookers. The party of five were heavily armored, two of them in Mandalorian armor. They were heavily armed, too. Four of the gang were armed with standard military blaster rifles. Their leader was armed with twin police duty combat pistols. Five very stern looking Weequay Hutt security officials quickly approached the five unknown, heavily armed individuals. They stopped the party of potential trouble makers just outside the main entrance and questioned them. “Are you hear on business or pleasure?” one of the Weequay asked, in a firm but polite tone. He wore the look of a competent security official who wouldn’t take any guff from the bounty hunters. “Pleasure, Wrehn said, wearing a happy grin, and lying, “We’re celebrating my birthday.” The Great Hunt was a closely guarded secret among Mandalorians, and the existence of great hunt champions was also a secret. It was a matter of pride among the Mandalorians that very, very few outside of their society were aware of those two secrets. Non Mandalorian bounty hunters almost never participated in the Great Hunt, and if they were, it was by invitation only. Yehw’reh’nomai had been invited. Upon her victory, she was also offered Mandalorian citizenship. In a flash, the stern looks on the Weequay officials were replaced with friendly smiles. “Please, enjoy your stay at Club Vertica Casino and Hotel,” the lead official said, most cordially. He pulled an envelope from within his armored vest and offered it to Wrehn. “Enjoy this voucher for complementary casino chips, and two free drinks for you, and for each one in your party.” the official said, “Good luck at the slots or at the card tables, and Happy Birthday, honored guest.” “Woo-hoo!” Wrehn cheered as she accepted the envelope. “As a reminder, and as a caution, please remember that at all times, roughhousing, combat, and bounty hunts are forbidden within Club Vertica and Star Cluster Casinos and Hotels,” the security official stated, still smiling, “These regulations are in place for the safety of all our guests and are very strictly enforced.” With that the five smiling security officials stepped to the side to allow the Chiss hunter and her party to enter. “We’re gonna have a blast!” Gault said, “Oops! I meant, fun. We’re gonna have fun! There shall be no blasting, Skadge. It’s against the rules, here.” “How long do we gotta stay at that party?” Skadge asked, ignoring the Devaronian, “We ain’t got there yet, and it’s already boring.” Wrehn shook her head disapprovingly at the Houk’s idea of what constituted boring, but decided against saying anything about it. “Skadge, you should give a lot of thought on broadening your horizons,” Gault said, sagely. “Shooting at bounty marks, and blowing crap up isn’t all there is to life. Ya know?” “Like what?” Skadge challenged, skeptically. “Like making credits, spending credits, traveling to new cities, planets, and star systems,” Gault stopped himself, to regard the Houk brute before asking, “Have you ever thought about finding a mate and settling down in a nice house, burrow, nest, and having kids, pups, broods?” “I ain’t ready for that,” Skadge said, explaining, “I have to mature another ten or twelve years.” “You’re not mature!” the Devaronian exclaimed, “That explains everything! You’re not mature. I should have known.” “Gault. Stop,” Mako warned, sternly. Wrehn froze in her tracks. After a couple of heart beats, she turned about to face the Houk. “You’re not old enough to have kids?” she asked, her incredulity was off the charts. “Not for another ten or twelve years,” Skadge confirmed, coming to a stop in front of his employer. “You’re still a kid?!” “I ain’t no kid!” “You’re a grown adult. Right?” “Blasted bantha poo! I might be in violation of every child labor law ever written by every government, territory, and empire in the whole blasted galaxy!” Yehw'reh'nomai was especially worried because of the line of work she was in. “Well… I’m not mature, yet,” Skadge said, uncomfortably. “I’m employing a child warrior!” Yehw’reh’nomai thought, in a panic. Mako, fascinated by the revelation, walked closer to the two to listen in. “Are you old enough to legally drink alcoholic beverages?” Yehw’reh’nomai asked, tersely. “I don’t like booze!” the Houk said, before asking with some indignation, “Hey! What is it with all the questions? I don’t go for other species, if you’re trying to come on to me.” Mako turned about and covered her mouth with her right hand to suppress her laughter. Gault laughed uproariously. Even Torian was not immune and gave in to the levity of the moment. “Skadge,” Yehw'reh'nomai said evenly, calmly, “You’re not my type, either.” “That’s good,” Skadge said, seriously, “It’d be kind of weird if you was into me.” “I’m not into you,” Yehw'reh'nomai said, tersely. Mako, Torian, and Gault could quickly tell that Yehw'reh'nomai was at the verge of losing her composure. Skadge, on the other hand was not as quick as the others to pick up on the signs. “That’s good,” the Houk said, “Can we talk about something less gross, now?” Mako now covered her mouth with both hands, but her laughter escaped, nonetheless. Torian erupted into full, unbridled laughter. “Give it up, Wrehn,” Gault said, between bouts of laughter, “Skadge just isn’t interested. Just accept it, already. You’ve been dumped!” “Gault! I’m gonna slug you!” Yehw'reh'nomai declared. The ill-tempered Chiss woman could no longer stand against the humor of the moment, however. Even she had to give in to laughter. Skadge, however, didn’t understand what was so damned funny. “I don’t like being laughed at,” the Houk groused. “We’re not laughing at you, Skadge, we’re laughing with you – at Wrehn!” Gault said. The conversation had moved on to several other topics as they made their way, finally reaching the ground floor turbolift lobby of Tower Four. The party of hunters had exited the turbolift on the one hundred and thirtieth floor of Tower Four, one of eight towers of the hotel, unhurriedly walking down the fancy hallway, laughing and joking towards suite T4-130-B052. This suite was located in Wing B of the tower, and was a long walk from turbolift lobby B. The floating casino and hotel was an enormous structure. Eight glass towers with oval footprints and of varying heights rose from the circular kilometer diameter base. The towers ranged from seventy stories to two hundred stories high. The circular base was, itself, five stories high, and was filled with casinos, restaurants, bars, holographic and stage performance theaters, and many other entertainment venues and other fun distractions. Below the ground floor were all of the power distribution points, the class twelve repulsorlift generators, sewage, water purification, heating and cooling, and everything else needed to keep a massive building structure functioning. Those areas were strictly off limits to tourists. Security was very, very tight in those areas. In between and all around the glass towers, covering the entire open deck, was a manicured garden park. Beautifully trimmed shrubbery surrounded the base of the towers, and lined the walks. There were many walk ways, paved in white resicrete, meandering throughout the park. Park benches were interspersed along the walk ways. Picnic tables featured in the open grassy areas of the park, and although barbecuing or grilling was not allowed, levitating waiter droids darted to and from occupied tables taking orders and bringing out picnic lunches. It was a very nice park. The effect was that of a tiny city of glass towers in the middle of an idyllic meadow with tiny copses of nicely trimmed trees scattered throughout. Wealthy revelers from all over the galaxy spent their time and credits enjoying a great time at the two vacation resorts, Club Vertica and Star Cluster hotels and casinos. Yehw'reh'nomai and her crew laughed at a joke Gault had told, but a shiver went down the Chiss woman’s spine. She froze in her tracks and drew her twin Coro-Sec Arms high-rate repeating blaster pistols. Her crew instinctively reacted, pulling their blaster rifles from the weapons bracket on the backs of their armored cuirasses. Gault and Mako aimed the way, they’d come, while Torian and Skadge aimed in the direction they were headed. Yehw'reh'nomai, her blasters pointing up, looked in both directions of the corridor. The sliding doors of the hotel suites on the right side of the gently curving hallway were all closed. There were no doors on the left side. After a moment, Wrehn and her crew began to relax again. “What spooked you, Wrehn?” Gault asked. “I don’t know,” Yehw'reh'nomai answered. She holstered her pistols and took one step and froze again, drawing her weapons again. This time, she was aiming at one of the doors as she approached carefully, leaving her wary party behind. Wrehn alternated her attention between the door and the stain on the carpet in front of it. The Mandalorian bounty hunter confirmed that what she was looking at were bloody boot prints leading from the closed door. Her heart sank when she looked at the suite number on the door, T4-130-B052. “Blast!” Yehw'reh'nomai cursed under her breath. She backed away from the door, stepping back to where her team waited, covering her movement. She whispered her orders. “Mako, start scanning for traps at that door and see what you can detect inside. I’m going to pry the door open. If the panel opens instead, pull down the handle. Torian, Gault. You two go in, one left and one right, clear the room. Skadge, you follow me in. We’ll clear the rooms on the left, while Torian and Gault clear the rooms on the right.” Her team approached the door and stopped when they were in position. Yehw'reh'nomai re-holstered her pistols, then looked at Mako. “Outside of door is clear,” Mako whispered, “The doors and walls are shielded, can’t scan inside.” Yehw’reh’nomai jammed her armored-gloved fingers into a maintenance access recess in the door frame and pulled mightily. Doing so would expose an emergency door release bar which Mako would pull down to unlock the sliding door. However, as the Chiss woman and her crew expected, the door slid open without any resistance. The emergency door release mechanism had already been pulled. Her team moved quickly and expertly. Torian shouted, “Left cleared!” “Right cleared,” Gault shouted. “Scanning interior!” Mako shouted. Right behind Torian and Gault, the Chiss woman rushed into the hotel suite and veered to the left with Skadge at her heels. Her pistols were already drawn and aimed forward. Her face twisted into a mask of rage, as she dashed to a tiny hallway leading to the other rooms of the suite. She had to step and jump over the bodies of her fellow Mandalorians, and of her fellow Great Hunt Champions, to get to the doors of the other rooms. In very quick succession, she hit the door contacts of each door and very quickly scanned the interiors of the two spaces. One was a bedroom, the other was the fresher. Both were empty and seemed undisturbed. She dashed into the bedroom and smacked the closet door contact with the but of her right pistol. It slid open revealing an empty and unused closet. “Room cleared,” she said. Yehw’reh’nomai turned about, walked out of the room and looked in the fresher a second time. It was still empty. She turned to face the main room. At the opposite side of the main lounge were the doors of additional rooms. There, she watched as Torian and Gault also returned to the central lounge of the suite of rooms. They’d just completed their own searches of the two bedrooms and the freshers on that side of the Suite. “Skadge,” Yehw'reh'nomai ordered, “stand guard at the main door and make sure no one tries to ambush us from outside.” “Yeah, yeah,” the Houk grumbled as the barrel chested brute complied with his orders. Yehw'reh'nomai’s stomach was in knots as she surveyed the carnage. There were nine bodies splayed or heaped onto the blood soaked carpeted floor. None of the dead bounty hunters wore their helmets, but then neither did anyone in her team. Five of them didn’t have their armor on, either. Opened bottles of various spirituous liquids had been toppled over, their contents spilled all over the caf tables, and onto the carpeted floor. A single unopened bottle of a very expensive rye whiskey blend, imported from Alderaan, remained on the caf table. “Look at this, Wrehn,” Gault said, “By the way, dibs on the rye whiskey.” Yehw'reh'nomai walked to where the Devaronian stood, taking a moment to glance at the bottle of spirituous liquid. “It has a gift card with my name on it,” she remarked, “It’s mine.” Stopping beside Gault, she saw the message scrawled onto the carpeted floor beside the body of a woman. It was written in her own blood. “SIS Jedi” “Three bodies are missing,” Torian Cadera said. Yehw'reh'nomai looked to were the Mandalorian stood. She saw where blood had pooled in three places on the carpet, but the bodies were gone. She surmised that the attackers had taken their dead and wounded with them when they left the scene. The Chiss bounty hunter took another look at the dead and, after a cursory examination, found that half of the dead, still had their pistols holstered, or their blaster rifles were leaning against a wall. They had been taken by complete surprise. The others seemed to have drawn their weapons, but were only able to fire off a few shots, as evidenced by the three missing bodies. “Mako, take still images and video of everything,” Yehw'reh'nomai ordered, “Did your scans turn up anything?” Mako began to walk carefully, tiptoeing around the slaughter, so as to not disturb the crime scene. She recorded everything via her cybernetic interfaces with her ocular, auditory, and olfactory senses. Using her cerebral cybernetic interface, she connected to the holo-net, accessed her computer in her quarters aboard Yehw’reh’nomai’s freighter, and uploaded terabytes of data to it. All of this was done in real time. The cybernetically enhanced petite woman uploaded all of the images, the video, chemical and organic substances detected in the air, and other data to her computer via the holo-net. Remotely, she set a software program on her computer to run various analysis algorithms on the evidence that she’d collected. This software suite would search for finger prints and any other evidence normally invisible to the unaided eye. The analysis conducted by her software would reveal other insights into how the dead Mandalorians were taken out so easily. Was a suppressant gas used to dull the reactions of the hunters, for example? Later, when she and her team returned to Yehw'reh'nomai’s starship, Mako would review the results of the deep analysis. “Scans turned up no traps or eaves dropping tech, Boss,” after a moment of looking about the large lounge room, Mako said, “I’m done recording the crime scene, Boss.” “Let’s get out of here, team. The party’s over,” Wrehn said, working to keep her outrage under control. Wrehn and her crew quickly left the scene. They fled towards the opposite end from which they’d come, going towards turbolift lobby A. The hunters, fearing traps and ambush, took the stairs down ten stories, before switching to the turbolift, going down to the tenth story. From there, they took the stairs the rest of the way down to the main level. There were many thousands of party goers, gamblers, and tourists coming, going, or milling about. There were several hundred concierge personnel selling every goods or services that one could ever imagine. Wrehn and her crew had secured their weapons, remembering the Weequay security officials from before. They knew there would be hundreds of other security officials watching the crowds. Holding their weapons in their hands would call attention to themselves. Wrehn’s team rushed to the taxi kiosk and piled into a taxi without waiting in line nor ordering one from the kiosk droid. “Hey! That’s our taxi!” an outraged tourist shouted. “Shush, Dear! They have blasters!” her husband warned, “We’ll get another one.” The driver, a hardened old Advosec, took a couple of good whiffs of the air in his cab. He didn’t smell the scent of battle on his passengers. The retired Galactic Republic soldier decided they’d fled a situation without resorting to using their blasters and decided to reward them with his services. “Where to?” “Bienna The Hutt building district Spaceport, concourse thirty nine,” Yehw'reh'nomai said. The driver drove. For most of the trip, the bounty hunters kept silent, until the driver couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer. “Did you get your Mandalorian armor at a swap meet, or are you two the actual thing?” “We are Mandalorians,” Torian replied. “You ain’t fooling me. I know you guys are on the run. What’d you do, rob a bank?” the driver asked, with a laugh. “SIS are involved,” Torian replied. “Then that’s the end of my curiosity,” the driver replied. After that, the cab had been plunged into silence for most of the remaining trip, until Skadge broke that silence. “That was the most boredom I’ve ever had in a long time. Let’s hurry and do that again, Wrehn.” “Blast!” Gault cursed, “I forgot to pick up that unopened bottle of rye before we left the suite. Dammit!” “Can it, everyone,” Yehw'reh'nomai said, with such low energy, “I don’t want to hear it.” “You’re the last one,” Torian said to Yehw’reh’nomai. “The last one what?” Mako asked, as the cab driver’s ear seemingly perked up. “The last Great Hunt Champion,” Torian said, “The only other living three had just been slaughtered.” Mako suddenly began to weep. “I’m sorry, Wrehn!” she lamented. “Don’t cry, Mako,” Yehw'reh'nomai tried comforting her friend, but with no energy in her tone, “It just means we’ll get all the jobs with the big credits.” Yehw'reh'nomai’s friend wouldn’t stop weeping. “Tell her, Torian,” Yehw'reh'nomai implored. “The weight of their legacy now rests on Yehw'reh'nomai’s shoulders. There are no others left to shoulder that burden,” Torian said. Mako wept louder. “Idiot!” the Chiss woman said, rebuking Torian, “You’re supposed to stop her crying, not make it worse!” Yehw'reh'nomai shook her head disappointingly at Torian. She found herself also on the verge of tears. Her gaze morosely settled on Gault. “Sorry, Wrehn,” the Devaronian said, “All I could think of to say is that now all of the big credit jobs are gonna go to you.” For some inexplicable reason, Mako found that confession from Gault, funny. She started laughing. “Great job, Gault!” Yehw'reh'nomai said, smiling brightly. She was, herself, saved from wallowing in tears. “You guys gonna pay up, or what?” the taxi driver groused. The crew poured out of the stopped taxi. Gault shared a look with Torian and shrugged his shoulders. “Women,” Torian remarked. “Yeah,” Gault replied. Having been paid, the taxi driver happily pulled around to get in the cue for a new passenger. Yehw’reh’nomai and her crew began to make their way through the enormous park lot filled with rental speeders and people carriers. Yehw’reh’nomai’s starship was another six kilometers away. She had no intention of walking all the way there and was determined to rent a people carrier to get her to her starship. As the crew of bounty hunters approached the rental service kiosk, walking between the parked speeders, blaster bolts began zipping past their heads. The last Great Hunt Champion dove for cover between the parked speeders and drew her weapons. Skadge was already returning fire and laughing up a storm. “Now, I’m having some fun!” the burly Houk declared. Yehw'reh'nomai’s eyes went wide when she watch Torian throw a grenade into the midst of parked rental speeders. She could only imagine the fires the explosive munition was going to cause. Instead, she was dazzled by the extremely bright blue white strobe of light that resulted. This told the Chiss woman that it was an Electromagnetic Pulse grenade. Fortunately, she wasn’t looking in that direction and wasn’t completely blinded by the strobing flash of light. Suddenly, the enemy ambush team appeared. The electronics of their stealth shields had been disabled, revealing the assailants. Yehw’reh’nomai immediately took aim and began shooting. In a very short time, their ambush was broken as her team of hunters returned well aimed shots. Enough time had passed, allowing the ambushers to restart their stealth field generators. As the enemy vanished from view, the firefight suddenly ended. The ambushers fled the scene, leaving their dead behind. Yehw'reh'nomai and her crew remained at the ready, however. They waited for their attackers to restart their ambush. “Anybody hurt?!” Yehw’reh’nomai shouted her inquiry at her team. Gault answered, “I’m good.” Mako replied, “No problems, Boss. Did you guys see the Jedi with them?” Torian reported, “No injuries.” Skadge, “Are we gonna waste time yapping, or are we gonna go after ‘em?” A full minute had passed before Yehw'reh'nomai decided that the enemy had actually fled. Hutt security was certainly on their way by now. “Torian, Gault, search the bodies. Look for clues. Skadge keep your eyes peeled. If they come back, make them pay. Mako get images of their faces. You saw a Jedi with them?” Yehw’reh’nomai and the others hadn’t seen the Jedi. “Yeah,” Mako chirped, “I’m guessing none of you guys did, huh? Then, it was my cybernetic implants that pick him up through whatever stealth field he was using.” “That EMP grenade should have knocked out whatever stealth tech he was using,” Torian said. “Less chatter, more work! Hurry it up, we’ve gotta clear out of here before Hutt security shows up.” Yehw'reh'nomai said, urging her crew. While her team conducted their tasks, Yehw'reh'nomai quickly approached the vending machine styled kiosk and rented a people carrier. The cobalt blue skinned Chiss woman entered her credit card number and began the ordering process. While ordering the conveyance, she went over the ambush in her mind. “They screwed up and tripped their ambush while we were still in cover among the parked speeders. They should have waited until we were in the open at the kiosk. We got lucky.” The vending machine assigned an automated carrier to her from the vast park lot outside of concourse thirty nine of the gigantic spaceport. Yehw'reh'nomai and her crew piled in and rode the open cab wheeled droid to her rented landing bay. Six kilometers and twenty five minutes later, the team of bounty hunters rushed off of the carrier and up the massive ramp of her freighter. “Gault, launch the ship. Get us off of this moon,” Yehw'reh'nomai ordered. “You don’t want me to get a launch window?” Gault asked. “Those SIS might come at us here and wreck my starship. I can’t afford that. Get us off the moon.” “Hey, you’re the boss. It’s your Hutt Space starship license you’re risking.” “Just let me know when we’re out of the atmosphere. I need to put in a call to Mandalore,” Yehw'reh'nomai replied. The D5-Mantis medium patrol craft, manufactured at Kuat Drive Yards, and modified to perform as a light freighter, had been out of Nar Shaddaa’s atmosphere for twenty minutes before Yehw'reh'nomai finally got around to calling Mandalore. She’d been reviewing the evidence Mako had gathered. Mandalore was the chieftain – king of the Mandalorian clans. Since the Great Hunt Champions were involved, Mandalore had to be involved. Wrehn told him, "SIS and Jedi raided the hotel suite where I was gonna party with the other champions. They were all killed in the raid with their crews." Mandalore stared blankly for some time before he finally managed to ask, "How do you know it was Jedi and SIS?" "One of our dead had written in her own blood, SIS Jedi next to where she died,” Wrehn replied, “Then as me and my crew went back to our ship, we were ambushed by a well disciplined group of operatives accompanied by a Jedi. We were ready for them, though. We killed a few and made the rest run for it." "Very well,” Mandalore said, somberly, “I'll find out what I can, and return in contact with you." "Mako,” Yehw’reh’nomai ordered, “Give Mandalore a copy of the evidence you collected.” “You got it, Boss.” “Me and my crew want to be the ones to get vengeance on them, Mandalore," the Chiss woman told the Chieftain – king. "Of course it should be you. You are the last surviving Great Hunt champion. It is your place to seek vengeance for the murder of your fellow champions." Mandalore cut the connection. "We can't let this go,” Yehw'reh'nomai told her crew, “We got to hunt these guys down and make them pay." “Do we really have to go back after them, Wrehn?” Gault asked, plainly not keen on the idea. The only other Mandalorian in Yehw'reh'nomai’s crew, Torian Cadera, shouted something in Mando’a, the Mandalorian language, at the Chiss woman. Then turning to the others, he repeated what he'd said, but in Basic. "Death is too good for them, but that is what they'll get!" "You know, Torian,” Gault Rennow, a conman, and a highly skilled sniper, replied, “you could save a lot of time and effort if you'd just say it in Basic the first time around, every time around." "You'd save us all of lot of time,” Skadge chimed in, laughing, “if you didn't say anything at all!" Mako, the only one among them who was cybernetically enhanced, laughed and was about to add her own two credits, but suddenly became serious, making her report. "I got something!" Mako had been scanning the holo-net, making a deep search through her brain's direct connection to the local global information network. "There's a hit called out for us!” She said, a bit excitedly, “The reward is a half million credits for our capture or deaths. The Exchange Gang put out the call! It just came out a couple of minutes ago!" Yehw'reh'nomai, whose core name was 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 Imperial Intelligence. It is for the highly effective nature of your work that they have targeted you." Wrehn was wanted for her successful hunts. She had captured a Jedi who worked closely with the Galactic Republic Strategic Information Service, the SIS, and had killed his two padawans. She had also successfully killed or captured several Galactic Republic government officials and military officers. It was a very lucrative contract with their client, Imperial Intelligence, the Sith Empire's spy agency. Wrehn became introspective. "They could have ambushed us on the way to or from the party at the suite without killing anyone else,” the Chiss woman said, “They didn't have to slaughter the others." It was obvious on the holographic image of Mandalore that he was struggling to keep his fury under control. "It was a cowardly attack,” the Chieftain – king, said, “but the scum have wounded our honor when they so easily killed our very best. Our best were caught unaware and unprepared. You cannot let this insult stand. Our honor must be restored. “You, our last Great Hunt Champion, must show the galaxy what an aware and prepared Mandalorian hunter is capable of. The secret society of clients throughout the galaxy must see that those scum got lucky and that their luck has run out." A data stream began to download into the ship's intra-galactic holo-transceiver. It was a list of fifteen names with fifteen 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 the Jedi and his name as well. Mako immediately recognized the Jedi. She, Yehw'reh'nomai and the others also recognized some of the other faces in that file. They were the four agents that had been killed in their failed ambush just outside of the spaceport concourse. 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 weapons the ambushers used were the same. They were high quality weapons without any serial numbers to trace ownership. The only clues Wrehn had were their faces. "Mandalore,” the Chiss woman said to the chieftain – king, “we killed four of those people in the images you sent us. We had to take their masks off to look at their faces. These guys here,” she said, pointing out which four those were, and adding, "At the hotel suite, we saw evidence that at least three dead or wounded were removed from the scene. So, the way I see it, seven of the fifteen have been taken out. "You have some real good sources,” Wrehn said, laughing ruefully and telling Mandalore, “That was fast, and accurate. You wanna share your source with me? I'll pay you good." As though it were an afterthought, 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 the SIS pay. I'll take care of the Exchange Gang." He cut the connection. Yehw'reh'nomai pointed at the holographic images. "Find them, Mako," the Chiss hunter ordered her computerized human employee. "Already found the Jedi, Mako replied, “He's founded an orphanage on Nar Shaddaa a couple of weeks ago, and already got orphans living there. Oh! And happy coincidence, all fifteen of the orphans happen to have the same names as those fifteen SIS agents, and we killed four of them." "At least give me a chance to finish giving an order before you finish carrying it out!" Wrehn said, laughing. "I'm just that good. You know I won't hold back," Mako replied before telling her employer, "You have an incoming message from Bienna The Hutt building district Spaceport Authority." "Good. I need a hanger to dock my ship,” Wrehn said, “We need to get back there before they leave the moon." "Put him or her on," Wrehn was in the middle of saying, as a Twi'lek's holographic image appeared on her ship's intra-galactic holo-transceiver. "You have violated regulations that were put into place to ensure the safety of all starship traffic,” the male Twi'lek official said indignantly, officiously adding, “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." "O.K.,” the Chiss bounty huntress said, “but just to let you know, I had extenuating circumstances." "Oh? And what might those circumstances be?" the spaceport authority official asked, obviously unimpressed. "Some Republic SIS agents was after us. They were trying to kill me and my crew. We was running for our lives." It was clear that the Twi'lek official did not believe the bounty hunter’s story. "SIS agents were after you, clearly," the official replied before adding, deadpan, "The fine is forty five thousand credits, in Hutt currency. Additionally, also in Hutt currency, your penalties are in the amount of fifty thousand credits." He looked smugly at the Chiss woman as though he’d expected her to exclaim in outrage at the ridiculous penalties and fines. "That's all?! I thought it was gonna be worse! Mako, pay it." "Already paid," Mako replied. The official’s smugness was quickly replaced by indignation as Wrehn returned her attention to him. "I need to book hanger space for my ship, I need to get back." The Twi'lek clearly flustered, tried to speak, "Back?! You just… You owe…. I just…" He paused to listen to someone outside of the pickup range of the holo-transceiver he was using. He seemed to deflate as he listened to whoever was speaking to him. Then, returning his attention to Wrehn, the Twi’lek official spoke disgustedly. "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." "Thank you," Yehw'reh'nomai replied, in a neutral tone. She turned to Mako and opened her mouth to speak, but Mako had cut her off. "It's paid," the cybernetically enhanced woman said, smiling impishly. "Let me get the words out!" Wrehn complained, frustrated. The Chiss bounty hunter recomposed herself before returning her attention to the Twi'lek official, and asked for landing codes. Those were transmitted to the ship, and immediately thereafter the Twi'lek official cut the connection. Yehw'reh'nomai turned to the Devaronian. "Gault land the ship." She then turned to the Mandalorian. "Torian, get your heavy assault blaster rifle." Turning to her cybernetically enhanced employee and friend, "You too, Mako." To the Houk, she ordered, "Skadge, get your blaster cannon. We're going to have us a small war." Skadge shouted, "HELL YEAH! That's what I'm talking about!" Her crew scattered to go about their preparations. Yehw'reh'nomai also made her way to her captain's quarters and went straight to her weapons locker. She unholstered her 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 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. They were very expensive, but well worth the cost. 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 very, very fast, and got very hot, very fast. Wrehn walked out of her quarters, took two steps and stuck her head in the control bridge. Gault was already slowly gliding the ship to its landing spot. Wrehn, shocked into surprise, thought in great alarm, "That was too fast!" Worried about the ship's exterior paint, she asked the red skinned Devaronian, "Did you burn us through the atmosphere? You didn't burn us through the atmosphere, did you?" "You said we needed to get to them before they left the moon,” Gault Rennow replied, “To me that sounded like, burn us through the atmosphere. So, I burned us through the atmosphere." The Devaronian 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 Yehw'reh'nomai, helmet cradled in her arm, staring at him quite intently. "What?" the Devaronian asked defensively. Yehw'reh'nomai’s tone was deadly serious when she spoke. "You are going to scrape the burned paint off of the hull, and get it ready for a fresh coat of paint – if you make it back alive," then adding, "Get your heavy assault rifle, we're going in for a serious firefight." Gault, looked down at the deck and sighed. "So, if I get killed, I can get out of scraping the hull." he said, as though thinking it over. "I won't let you off the hook that easy, Gault," she answered. There wasn’t a gram of humor in her demeanor that Gault could sense from his employer. “It’s that, or you’re gonna pay for a new paint job for my starship,” Wrehn said. The angry Chiss woman departed the bridge to return to her captain’s quarters, only a couple of steps away from the bridge. Gault shook his head as he walked out of the control bridge, and past the captain's quarters towards the back of the ship. The Devaronian walked to the metal grate staircase in the cavernous cargo bay, taking them down to the lower deck of the light freighter. At the bottom of the stairs, he turned back towards the front of the mostly empty cargo bay. There was a six passenger speeder parked in the front right corner of the cargo bay. It was tied down to the deck with tie-down straps. On the left were three ray-shield brig cells. They were empty of prisoners, so the ray-shields were deactivated. “Gault?” The Devaronian stopped and looked up when he heard Yehw'reh'nomai call down to him from the upper cargo deck, high above the main cargo deck. He waited to see what she would say. Her expression was somber. When she didn't say anything, he asked, "What?" "Gault,” Wrehn told him, somberly, “Please, be careful, today. O.K.? I don't want anything to happen to you before you scrape the hull clean." Then she turned away, laughing up a storm as she made her way back to her quarters. Gault shook his head, amused, as he made his way to the crew quarters, which he shared with Torian Cadera, and Skadge.