“Inbound on the Jospro System, Captain Bleu. Shuttle is prepped and ready to deploy you to Jomark. Should take about twenty minutes for us to make orbit running in stealth, should give us plenty of times to locate a suitable landing zone for your mission, Sir.”
“Roger that, Commander Rulvak,” growled the Ryn through the comm as he felt the ship shudder back into realspace. Infiltrating a high security compound, hacking a database and stealing all their information and getting out without dying? Fine, great. The shuttle ride down was the part that he was dreading.
He was standing outside the shuttle bay of the Nighthawk, waiting for it to be in position. Also, he was waiting on his most recently added crew member to show up with his bloody gear like he’d ordered the kid to do an hour ago. Kordath was tapping his foot, tail swishing about in annoyance, when Arcean came jogging around the corner, nearly running into one of the ship’s Talon commandos. A muttered apology slowed the Umbaran a moment before he stopped in front of Bleu, snapping to rigid attention. The Ryn just sighed and held a hand out.
“Sir! I brought you the package as ordered, Sir!”
“Dandy, kid, now hand it over, eh?”
“Uh, yes Sir!”
“Cripes kid, relax. The Hawk innit one of the big military ships, yah? We go out for a few months at a time if we got to. Loosen up before one of the crew tricks ya into cleaning the bloody airlock and ‘accidentally cycles’ the thing.”
“Yes Sir! Master Voth has been trying to adjust me to ship life, Sir. I’ll endeavour to ‘tone it down’ as they say.”
Kordath stared at the Umbaran as he took the rucksack the kid had been ordered to retrieve from his quarters for him. “Nath has tried to adjust ya? Woman must be loosin’ her bleedin’ touch if she only tried. Well, you’re walkin’ so she must not have done too much to ya yet.”
“Sir?” Arcean looked positively perplexed.
“Dinnae worry about it, mate, give your Master my best, eh? Gotta go not get bloody shot for the Admiral now, pip pip and all that poodoo.” Kordath turned about and left the confused Courier in place. Why Nath had taken on a Mundane member of the Clan’s military as a student he couldn’t fathom. She’d done well enough with him and the Kaleesh, Skar, so the kid must have some kind of talents she considered worthy of honing. With a shrug the Ryn walked into the shuttle bay, careful to keep his eyes on the craft that would be taking him down to the planet and not the magfields that kept the vacuum from killing them all.
As much as flying made the Ryn sick, the prospect of looking out into the void of space would incapacitate him right now. Throwing up and curling up into a ball on the hangar bay deck wasn’t the best way to prep for a mission, nor keep your crew’s respect. Not that Kordath suspected his crew respected him, but at least they usually listened. Most of the time. It was probably more out of fear of his superior’s that the ship still ran as smoothly as it did. With a tired sigh, Bleu ascended the shuttle ramp and settled in. The chrono on the wall of the small craft told him it would be another ten minutes before they’d be launching. Whistling through his chitinous nose to calm himself down he opened the sack, and let a little smile cross his face.
Pulling items out and laying them out on the seats around him, Kordath took stock of his equipment. The last few times he’d been dispatched by the Contract Bureau it had been on the fly for him, no prep time, just reactions. Not so this time, the Ryn grinned as he stood up and wrapped a thick belt festooned with pouches and hooks around his waist. He wore the simple uniform he kept for ship use, black in color though bereft of insignia at this time. He’d left such things in his quarters. He wore nothing to identify him as an agent of Arcona or the Brotherhood could be on him if he karked this up.
He turned back to the items on the seats and smiled again, picking up a pair of canister shaped smoke grenades. They weren’t very large, but it was fine. He’d picked them for use inside structures, not out in the open, they didn’t need a large payload. Hooking these to his belt he added a compact set of macrobinoculars to one of his pouches. A self retracting grapnel was attached to the belt as well, into another pouch went a small communications scrambler. Kordath was looking forward to using that, he’d not gotten to play with one of those before. Picking up a comlink with an earpiece hooked to it, he stowed them in another pouch along with a compact datapad.
Along the back, set right above his tail, he packed away a single small block of explosive detonite with a timer set in it. A few data spikes, tools of the trade for Slicers everywhere and a small rebreather rounded out the gear he’d put together.
Bouncing lightly on his feet, he felt that the utility belt would barely even slow him down. The lack of weaponry would be considered a nuisance by some, but the Ryn wasn’t one for blasters and lightsabers anyways. If it came down to a firefight down on Jomark it meant the Captain had karked everything up beyond the point of salvaging. Kordath looked up as a tone played and the shuttle’s ramp began to close.
“Best strap in, Captain!” That would be the pilot, shouting back, realized the Ryn.
Kordath didn’t need to hear such instruction twice. Pushing himself as far back into the crash seat as he could the Ryn pulled at the restraints, tightening them as far as he could. Barely able to breath, Bleu looked over to see the grinning face of the co-pilot as he slid a bucket back towards the Captain. Kordath gave the man a withering glare before snatching up the bucket and holding it. The shuttle pilots of the Nighthawk knew fully well how Kordath dealt with flights.
Guess they’re tired of cleanin’ up after me.
“Landfall in five, Captain! We’ll wait at the LZ for you to make it back, Sir!”
“Great!” The Ryn started to say, before the shuttle lurched into action. He was almost certain the pilots did it on purpose. His stomach lurched and he tried to focus on surviving the flight down.
Ooooh, kark you, Admiral, kark you very much.
Ten minutes later
Kordath Bleu accepted the canteen from the smiling co-pilot, debating what to do that would wipe the smirk off the man’s face. Relenting, he spat out the water after swishing it about in his mouth.
“Right, no pings on the radar or nothin’, yeah?”
“No, Sir. We came in hot and stayed under the radar when we leveled out.”
“You bloody well did,” growled the Captain. The atmospheric entry had almost cost him the bucket.
“Fine, great. North then? Right. Don’t bloody leave me on this rock, yeah?”
“No Sir! No abandoning the Captain, Sir! We were given strict orders on that count,” said the co-pilot, still smiling.
If I had a bloody knife I would cut you, you smug little… “Wait, whose orders?”
The two pilots glanced at one another in uncomfortable silence.
“Nath,” Kordath said, in a tone that wasn’t so much a question as it was a statement.
“Bloody well right, then,” growled the Ryn as he disembarked. They’d landed in a small hollow in the ground, a low spot that should hide them both visually and from any radar systems in the area. Without the running lights on and the sun going down, the craft would be virtually invisible from the air as well. With a sigh Kordath trekked up to higher ground and set off north.
One hour, two kilometers and an annoying amount of walking later.
“Why did I agree to this bleeding job? Oh, right, I didn’t! I didn’t have a choice, now did I!?” the Ryn grumbled to himself as he crawled to the edge of a ridge. An hour of walking through the dark had produced a few stubbed toes, some wholly unappreciated cursing, and an annoyed Kordath. Now the lights of the Syndicate outpost were glowing out from the darkness ahead of him. This was the reason he was here, this was why he’d had to come to Jomark and walk through the blasted night.
“I’m gonna burn it to the ground,” growled the Arconan as he pulled the macrobinoculars from his belt. Bringing them up to get a better image he let out a low whistle in appreciation. “Tight security, Cortel wasn’t kiddin’. These blokes is waiting for somebody to try and raid ‘em. That’s cute.”
Setting the binoculars aside, he pulled the datapad from its pouch and dimmed the screen. If one of the guards actually noticed that from the well lit base, he’d be amazed. If they had a thermal scan going, well, he’d know when he sensed troops coming. Unless they were droids, but the Ryn tried not to think about that as he began to sketch out what he saw of the base in view. Putting the binoculars to eye again, he started watching the patrols atop the wall encircling the installation.
Over the next hour he jotted down patrol pattern and numbers, marking where he could see holo cams mounted on long poles above the wall itself. They moved on timers as well, it looked like, though Kordath didn’t doubt that someone could control them remotely. He figured the cameras would cause more trouble for him than the actual guards. Still, as ever, blind spots appeared on the hand drawn map. There weren’t very many of them, but he only really needed one opening to get inside the walls. After that the game would change, he’d have to find the database, or mainframe or whatever the kark they had. Feeling the block of explosives resting against his back, he smiled. He had to find other things as well.
“No time like the present,” he muttered to himself, stowing his gear and backing away from the edge of the ridge. Standing when he was clear of sight, the Ryn did some stretches and breathing exercises, hopping in place before running back up to the edge. With a roll over the edge Bleu slid down the side of the hill, hitting the ground with bent knees and taking off in a sprint. Counting seconds down in his head, the Ryn unhooked his grapnel and readied it. The wall was just ahead, some ten meters high and a guard walking along it, headed right and away. Another was on the ground, nearly mirroring the one above.
Sloppy, he thought with a grin, his feet touching down not three meters behind the guard on the ground before he fired off his grapnel. The self retracting motor kicked in and shot him up, unhooking as he landed on the top of the wall in a crouch. Counting down, he had about ten seconds before the guard turned back around, and maybe eight before the nearest holo cam had him in sight. He took in the sight below, several buildings arrayed around the inside of the wall around what looked to be a central, dome-like bunker. One was close enough to the wall for Kordath to hop down to it’s roof, before slipping down and pressing himself against the side.
He held his breath as the guard on the wall walked over his position, the man looked bored and the lights up there likely destroyed his night vision. Still the Ryn wanted to take no chances, and didn’t move a muscle as the man marched on. Closing his eyes, Kordath leaned against the building and caught his breath, closing his eyes as he calmed himself. It hadn’t been that close of a run, really, but he still felt the rigors of ship life weighing him down. Not enough running about on board the Nighthawk, apparently.
Breathing easier, the Ryn opened his eyes and quietly, carefully, walked to the edge of the building facing the inside of the compound. Crouching in the shadows cast by the prefab structure, he squinted his eyes and took in the area. A trio of armed men, wearing mismatched pieces of older style fatigues, went not quite marching, too business like for walking, by. Security seemed lax inside of the walls, to Bleu.
Mercs? Hired guns of some kind, this ain’t the kind of thing that attracts people ‘for the cause’ so…yeah. Paid security. That’s good, they don’t think of getting shot as a glorious opportunity.
Ignoring the men marching to focus on the central dome, he spotted a smaller structure behind it. Some kind of utility closet, attached to the primary bunker by piping and cables. A little grin was on the Ryn’s face as he looked about, trying to spot any cameras or stray personnel that would make his life difficult. The comm dish peeking out from above the edge of the dome, set on the other side from Kordath, suggested a long range holo-com was setup within. A glance upwards showed the wall was clear, no prying eyes from above or guards between the buildings before him.
Dashing across the open space, he felt the Force tugging at his mind which prompted him to dive for the shadows once more. Looking back out into the clear area, he spotted another pair of poorly dressed mercs wandering along, talking to one another. Kordath froze in place, using the Force to Cloak his physical presence as they walked past. Relaxing, the Ryn reappeared and crouch-walked his way towards the utility closet. Paranoid now, he drew on the Force to sharpen his senses, ears nearly twitching as he listened for footsteps or words.
The small structure had a panel on it, which opened to a mass of wiring and electronics. Kordath figured if he had time he could determine what much of it was for, but he didn’t have it. Slipping the block of detonite from his belt, he keyed the detonator for thirty minutes and laid it inside the small door, before shutting it back up and scampering away. He started a mental countdown, nodding to himself a little every few seconds.
Making his way around the edge of the dome, head on a swivel as he watched for more roaming personnel, he spotted an open window. The dome was a two tier structure, the window on the upper floor was some ten feet above the Ryn.
Kneeling next to the building he took a few deep breaths, feeling the Force flow into his muscles as he catapulted himself upwards. Jumping as high as he could he got a foot onto the gradual curve of the structure and pushed up, just far enough to get his hands on the lower edge of the opening. Pulling himself up to the point of being able to see in, worried his noise may have alerted someone within, he saw…no one.
Well that’s karking lucky.
Kordath heaved himself through the window, thankful for his slender form as he fell on the cold floor. Smiling as he stood up, dusting himself off he looked around the room. A staircase lead off to his right to the lower level, sounds of people moving about doing work could be heard from that way. The upper area where he was seemed to house a large console unit along one wall and lockers along another, with an opening to what looked like a refresher room. It made sense, to the Ryn, everything about this place seemed prefab, it was easier to have the drainage work on gravity than power pumps.
Bleu walked up to the console, his eyes lighting up with delight as he recognized the readouts for a holonet transceiver. Punching a few buttons he was able to bring up the records for the past few communications, and took a moment to log them in his datapad. Voices echoing up the stairs made him stop and curse, head whipping about to find some place to hide. The refresher was out, if that was where they were headed he’d be found. With a sigh he ducked into a locker, closing it gently as two men in shabby fatigues came up to his level.
“…and that’s when she spit on me, took her twenty creds and slammed the door. Figure I’ll look her up when I’m on leave again.”
“She’s gonna shoot ya, man.”
“Nah, she might be a real dirty Cheeka, but she knows where the credits come from.”
“Whatever, just make sure she’s got a friend lined up for me this time, huh?”
“Hah! Think she’s got a little sister…”
LEAVE! the Ryn screamed mentally, resisting the urge to bang his head against the side of the locker.
Ten minutes later, seventeen minutes and 45…44…43 seconds left on detonator
“…and that’s the second time that Chik Youngee gave me the Nar Shaddaa itch. Dunno why I keep going back to that girl.”
“Because you’re lonely and she’s cheap?”
“Blow it out your ass, comeon I think our break is up anyways.”
Kordath let out a sigh, mourned for the brain cells he’d lost listening to the two mercs, and exited the locker.
Fifteen bloody minutes left, those idiots might have karked the whole thing up.
Going back to the holocom console, he plugged his datapad in and got to work. A gleeful expression crossed the Ryn’s face as he found the data uplink ran between the communications station and the main database.
They must have figured all the security they had on site was good enough. This is great…alright…
The fact that the console had been left logged in was a handy one, but the database was demanding passwords he didn’t have. Grumbling he pulled up a program on his pad and pulled a dataspike from his belt, jamming it into an input port on the console. The dual assault of excess code forced the system into a crash, causing the screen to flicker as it tried to reboot itself. Tapping at his datapad carefully, the Ryn managed to insert a few choice commands into the boot order. When the system came back up it skipped the login sequence, giving Bleu access, for now. He sighed in relief and grinned, before recalling that these sort of things tended to set off alarms after a while.
Deal with that when it happens, eh?
Kordath punched in a few commands into his datapad, pulling the main server’s information up into the holocom. A few keyed in numbers and he’d established an uplink to the Nighthawk and started the upload. He grinned, getting down on his hands and knees he popped an access panel off the comm console and got his scrambler out. Whistling quietly through his fluted nose, he wired the comm scrambler into place. At least with this active they wouldn’t be able to call for off-world help, or update anyone before the Nighthawk made it out of system. The DIA report on this place hadn’t indicated any kind of naval assets in system, but it hadn’t exactly ruled them out either.
Standing back up after restoring the access panel, he checked the upload and his mental clock. Ten minutes to go, and the data dump was nearly done.
Of course, that’s when the alarms went off. Kordath rolled his eyes and unplugged his datapad, stowing it away in it’s pouch and eyeing the progress bar on the screen.
“Check the comm station! We’ve got an alert, somebody accessed the mainframe!”
“Ah kark me.”
The sound of boots thudding their way up the stairs made the Ryn twitch in nervous anticipation.
“Faster, faster faster, come on you bloody piece of junk–” he growled, before kicking the console.
“What!? I’m sorry, I dinnae mean ta kick ya! Just go faster!” pleaded Kordath, dropping to the floor to huddle under the console’s controls. With a deep breath he stilled and Cloaked himself once more, straining to maintain the farce.
“I got nothing!” shouted the first merc to crest the stairs, blaster carbine sweeping the room. Wide eyed and full of adrenaline, the next couple of troopers followed him up, checking the reresher. Next they started tearing open the lockers, one jittery merc even fired into one when an item of questionable nature fell out.
“Umm…Bardo, isn’t this your locker?”
“The hells is that thing?”
“You really wanna know, Sir?”
“No, No I don’t. False alarm maybe?”
Kordath heard the console above him let out a happy sounding beep, confirming the transfer of information was complete.
Eight bloody minutes, I dinnae think I can hole up under here for that long.
The Ryn felt sweat beading on his brow as he tried to maintain the Cloak, but every Jedi has his limits. One of the mercs, the one who seemed to be in charge of this cadre, walked up to the console.
“Oh kark me right in the…Boska! Bsha! We have got to find whoever accessed this console!”
“What’s wrong, boss?”
“Somebody transferred every bleeding file in the mainframe to an offsite location, that’s what.”
“Oh, that’s not good.”
“No poodoo it’s not good! Now come on, we need to search the base!”
Kordath had his eyes closed so that the sweat wouldn’t run into them, silently counting down seconds.
Seven minutes. Please leave the nice Ryn alone, please get out of the bloody room.
“Hey boss, I think I saw somethin’ move.”
Oh, poodoo, thought the Ryn, right before a meaty hand grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and hauled him out from under the console.
“Alright, who the hells are you, how did you get in here, and why didn’t none of my men see you under there!?”
“Hah, umm…inspection?” Kordath smiled at the man.
“Inspection? Kark that, our employers don’t send out bloody inspections, they pay us, we do the job. That’s how it works.”
“Sir, he’s got some gear on that belt of his, might be armed.”
“Oi! Stay out of this!” shouted the Ryn, glaring at the man. Narrowing his eyes he tried to drive a few choice mental images into the merc’s head tailored after the conversations he’d been forced to overhear earlier. The soldier shook his head and looked a little askance at one of his colleagues, but otherwise shook it off. I’m really not good at that, am I?
“Where’d you send the data, Rat?” The lead merc shook him to get his attention back.
“Why?” shot back the Ryn.
“Who?” asked another merc, trying to suppress a smile.
“Don’t play with me, Ryn. I know your kind, thieves and gypsies , the lot of ya.”
“Well that’s not nice. I’m offended, that’s just outright racism! I mean, did I say anythin’ mean about you being a…a…what are you anyways? Some kind of cross between a Human and a Nerf? You’re certainly hairy enough.”
Five minutes, come on, just five bleeding more minutes.
“I’m sorry, did you just call me hairy? You? The one covered in blue fur?”
“Aye, what, was yer mom a Wook? Or yer dad? You’re big enough, for certain, mate. Smell about as bad too.”
A muffled chuckled could be heard from one of the other mercs, drawing the leaders ire for a moment. He turned back to Kordath and jabbed his carbine in the Ryn’s face.
“Where did you send our data, Rat?”
“Don’t start that again!”
“Don’t point a bleedin’ gun in me face! It’s bloody rude, mate! Why would I be inclined to be givin’ ya any information while starin’ down a muzzle?”
Three minutes, if they don’t shoot me in the next three minutes I might be okay.
“If you don’t answer my next question, in a clear and concise fashion, I will shoot you.”
Well kark me right in the tail.
“Where. Did. You. Send. The. Data.”
Kordath stared at him for several long seconds.
“Oh, that was the question then? Sounded more like a statement, wanted to make sure, dinnae wanna get shot for nothin’, eh?”
“Boss, if you don’t shoot him soon, I will.”
“You stay out of this! Answer me, Ryn!”
“Whoa now, mate, you’re friend there may have a valid point, eh?”
“You…you want him to shoot you?”
“Well, no, not really. But why ya gotta go shoutin’ at him like that? Not very good management skills, eh?”
Kordath watched the man’s face darken, the veins along his temple seeming to grow outwards as muscles twitched along one side of his face.
Well if he has a stroke, he probably won’t shoot me.
“Where…did…you…” started the merc, before Kordath smiled at him and spoke.
A blast shook the dome, causing the lights to flicker and die as the timer on Kordath’s detonite hit zero. With a swift kick to one of the merc’s more prized external organs, the Ryn freed himself and dashed down the steps. He nearly tripped and fell down them, but managed to keep his footing despite it. Opening his Senses up to the Force he picked his way through the small command center within, halfway to the door when the backup generators kicked on. The lights came up and a half dozen confused looking mercs saw the Arconan and began to lift their blasters.
Kordath didn’t slow his pace as he yanked the smoke grenades from his belt and tossed them to either side of him before hitting the floor in a slide. He stopped against a work station, huddling under it as smoke began to fill the room, along with a criss cross of scarlet blaster fire. With the appropriate music the Ryn would have almost thought he was at one of the trendier bars back on Nar Shaddaa. Then again, people tried to shoot him there more often than he cared to recall, as well. With a sigh he waited for a break in the shooting, as the mercs realized how stupidly dangerous it was, to make his run for the exit. His memory served him well enough as he ducked out, finding a pair of the mercs bent over coughing outside.
Again the Ryn barely broke stride, grabbing one figure by his shoulders to bring himself up and kick the other in the face with a booted foot. Landing in a roll he kept running, glancing back to see the one he kicked fall and the other trying to get back up as well. Shouts could be heard throughout the complex as smoke poured out of the command structure. Kordath wasn’t waiting to see what their fire procedure was, running at a good pace towards the wall while retrieving his grapnel from it’s resting place. He fired it and ascended, finding himself face to face with a patrolling guard who looked nearly as surprised as he himself felt.
The Ryn acted on reflex, pushing out with the Force to knock the man back with a wave of power. With a scream the guard stumbled back and over the edge of the wall, falling the ten meters to the ground and ‘landing’ with a sickening crunch. Kordath detached the grapnel and jumped over the side, using the guard patrolling on the ground who’d stopped to investigate the fallen one as a cushion. Rolling to his feet, he let out a little laugh, amazed that he’d made it out of the facility that easily. Reorienting himself to South through landmarks, spotting the ridge he himself had used, he set off.
A high pitched whine began to follow him, growing in volume. With a glance over his shoulder the Ryn spotted several speeders in pursuit, loaded up with multiple mercs, armed to the teeth.
“Ah, bugger,” grumbled Bleu, literally running for the hills. Doing some short math in his head, the Ryn determined he couldn’t possibly outrun the two…three…three speeders chasing him. Skidding to a stop in the open ground, Kordath turned and glared at the trio of speeders, willing the image of a copse of trees to appear before the one furthest to the right. The driver jerked to his left in surprise as the illusion manifested itself before his headlights, hard enough to overturn the vehicle and spilling out the handful of mercs.
As the other two speeders approached, Kordath sighed, he was feeling drained.
Don’t…got a lot…left…in me. Gotta make this one count, he thought, growling as the speeders came on.
He held up a hand and stared at the driver of the speeder to his left, and conjured a ball of darkness around the man’s head. The driver shrieked as the Blackness obscured his vision, plunging him into a state devoid of any kind of light. His front passenger tried to jerk the controls away from him, causing the speeder to veer right. Kordath fell to the ground, putting his hands over his head as the speeder’s repulsors washed over him, buffeting him with air as it spun.
Either the Force was with him or some power in the ‘verse thought it was the perfect time for a spectacular crash, either way the Ryn would argue with providence. The blinded driver’s speeder spun two more times before slamming into the other craft, crumpling metal and shorting out repulsorlift systems on the both of them. Kordath got up wearily, watching the mercs try and sort themselves out from the wrecked speeders. Taking a moment he breathed deeply, opening himself to the Living Force and drinking in energy until he felt alive and energetic.
By the time the mercs got disentangled and re-armed, the Ryn was gone.
Two kilometers and half an hour of intense, spastic running later.
“…and that’s the third time that dancing girl gave me the Nar Shaddaa crawlies. I swear, I don’t know–”
“Ship! Now!” shouted the Ryn as he ran past the two pilots, who’d been drinking caf and talking next to the shuttle’s ramp.
“Where did he even come from?”
“More importantly, Sir, why is he running so fast?” asked the co-pilot, looking vaguely concerned.
Ten minutes later
“So, the data transfer was a go?”
“Yes, Captain,” said Arcean, tapping at the console. “It appears to be mostly star charts and routes. A lot of Brotherhood systems and planets have been mapped out.”
“Oh, that’s cute. Somebody is looking at the various Clan’s supply lines, eh? These guys dinnae look like pirates, kid, so that means they’re intel gatherin’.”
“You mean they’re preparing for an attack, Sir?” asked the Courier.
“Could be, or could be somebody just wants to make sure we’re not gettin’ too big for our own good. Never forget, mate, half the time the people yer spyin’ on is yer mates, not just the fellas you know you’ll be shootin’ at later. Could be nothin’. Could be somethin’. We pass it up to DIA, let the big brains figure it out. I got a date with a flask of high quality the Admiral sent along for this gig back in me quarters, anybody comes lookin’ for me.”
“Umm, yes, Sir!”
“And knock that ‘Sir’ poodoo off!”
Kordath sighed and shook his head.
What a long night.
“Time to get karking drunk.”