[ARC-COU] Coop Fiction: Team ACC

(Grot) #1

Grot Snapshot - https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/15060/snapshots/810/1655

Luna Snapshot - https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/13830/snapshots/811/1656

Canto Bight was a paradise in the middle of the desert. A shining spot of civilization in the far outer reaches of the galaxy. A city dedicated entirely to the pleasure of its inhabitants. Every vice and luxury imaginable were available here on the coast of the Sea of Cantonica. This drew the wealthy and powerful from all over the Outer Rim to its shores.

Businessmen, politicians, arms dealers and drug-lords rubbed shoulders in the casinos and on the race-courses. Women dressed in glittering jewelry and scandalously low necklines drew every gaze as they sashayed between the tables, dropping a whisper in every ear. This was the who’s who of the outer worlds, all gathered on the most beautiful planet on this side of the galaxy.

Disgusting.

Cantonia was naturally a barren planet; the sea was artificial. The plants, the animals, and even the stone used to construct the city were all imported. The falthiers thundering across the racetrack would not survive a week in the wild, and the chinar trees in the plaza would dry up without the constant care of an army of gardeners. It was a facade, a barren wasteland dressed up like a tropical paradise, completely and utterly fake. Grot hated every inch of it.

The Trandoshan brooded to himself as he looked across the crowd in the casino. It would be easy to keep the meeting between Arcona and Odan Urr secret in such a bustling city, but it would be difficult to defend it. Any of these people could be a Collective agent and a good portion of them were definitely armed. At any moment a delegate could be charged and killed by an assassin, which made Grot desperately wish the Summit had chosen a lower profile destination.

Grot swept his eyes along the gallery on the second floor. It had a perfect view of the casino’s main floor for the guests, but was also an ideal elevated position for any attackers. He set eyes on a cloaked figure leaning up against one of the marble columns, hunched over and typing on his datapad. The man looked down to the main floor, scanning the area before locking eyes with Grot . A Muun? the mercenary wondered, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. He saw a brief flash of panic in the man’s face before he drew his hood up and retreated into the gallery.

Grot growled, reached down and undid his pistols holsters. He pushed his way through the crowd towards the stairs, intent on finding out what that man was was up to. There were shouts and curses as the heavily armored mercenary moved along, knocking people out of his way as he went.

“Grot! Darling! There you are!” He felt a delicate hand reach up and touch his shoulder, stopping in his tracks. He turned around and was surprised to find Lucine Vasano a few inches away, leaning in towards him. She smelled like a bouquet of wildflowers, her scent washing over him as she whispered in his ear, “Remember, darling, we need to blend in.”

Grot growled and looked up towards the gallery, “I thought I saw…”

“Whatever you saw, I am certain it was no issue, darling. There are bound to be a few shady characters in a place like this. What is more important now is maintaining our cover.” She gave him a gentle pat on his chest-plate, flashing him a stunning smile before turning around. “Now come along darling, the race is already starting.”

She flowed through the crowd effortlessly, her sparkling green dress shimmering in the low light. She walked with almost effortless grace across the floor, charm exuding from her every action. Grot trotted along after her, his armor clanking as he followed in her footsteps.

“You are being too dismissive about this— “

“Grot,” Lucine held up a hand and stopped him, “Right now there are dozens of Force users present in this building, some of the most powerful in the Outer Rim. This is probably one of the most secure buildings in the galaxy at the moment. I appreciate your diligence but if there were any trouble we would have sensed it by now. ” She flashed a placating smile, trying to calm his anxiety.

But I would not have. The implication was clear, if unintentional. He was of little use here. The Trandoshan growled and lowered his eyes to the floor, unexpectedly stung by the comment. The mystical world of the Force was forever closed to him. A simple case of bad luck in the genetic lottery. Lucine sighed and laid a hand on his shoulder, leaning in sympathetically.

“Grot, I appreciate your skill and your service to this clan, but it will not hurt to cut loose for just one night, will it?” she offered sympathetically, giving him a conciliatory smile. Grot sighed and tried his to soothe his troubled mind. She was right, he was being too tense. He risked giving away the entire meeting. He should stay and enjoy the casino— he blinked slowly, shaking his head. No, this isn’t right. I hate the casino, why would I…

Lucine.

Was she manipulating him right now? Picking her way through his emotions and carefully plucking each one like a string? The mercenary felt violated, betrayed, and angry all at once in a sudden flash of emotion. He shrugged her away roughly, determined to resist her sorcerous charms. If she was in his head, good, she would feel his anger.

Lucine frowned almost imperceptibly, but the Trandoshan’s trained eye noticed the microscopic change in expression. He curled his claws into fists, his suspicion all but confirmed, and glared angrily at the Aedile. She paused, considering her next words carefully, before deflating with a sigh. “Perhaps it would be best if you take a break. Tali and the others have security handled at the moment, and I think the fresh air would do you well.”

Grot turned and left without a word.

(Rajhin) #2

“Are you sure you don’t want to come in and have a few drinks?” Ozosi Vym inquired after receiving Luna’s initial scouting report of the area around the casino. The female Togruta stood on the edge of the casino patio in a elegant lavender gown that complimented her tangerine skin tone.

Luna glared at the leader of the Wildcards, they had been through this before on the way to this event. The human female was not the party type, she was here to work. “I’m certain,” she replied gruffly. “The tree line is too close to the casino and the forest spreads out for kilometers with a thick canopy. If I were attacking this venue, that’s the route I’d take.”

Ozosi frowned, this was supposed to be a relaxed event and an easy paycheck for the mercenary outfit. She also knew it was foolish to press the old wolf further; the Mandalorian was most in her element outdoors. “Well, watch our backs on the perimeter and we’ll handle things inside.”

The Okami brought her fist up to her chest in a salute, obviously relieved to not have to decline any more invitations to join the party inside. “Stay alert al’verde, I do not trust this place.” Luna placed her helmet back on and prepared to walk back into the forest.

“I will,” the Togruta replied while turning to rejoin the ongoing festivities.

Luna made a wide arc along the western, forest-facing, side of the perimeter, stopping to check in with the various joint Arconan-Odanite sentries. To her, the coverage seemed inadequate and didn’t push far enough into the forest. The sentries weren’t even 200 meters away from the casino.

The Mandalorian took a deep breath and calmed her mind as she moved past one of the sentry posts deeper into the forest. The cool night air was refreshing and she let all her senses feel the natural environment around her. Birds and insects fluttered around and filled the canopy with a cacophony of sound. She noticed a humanoid figure skulking about roughly 50 meters ahead, though the tree-cover made the figure hard to identify. The figure was looking away from the casino, as she was, it was likely a kindred spirit from one of the clans. Still, it was worth investigating.

Luna readied her bo-rifle and began to approach the figure as silently as she could. The figure remained crouched behind a tree, staring down into a depression. The Okami continued to close the distance between them when the stranger turned and stared directly at her. She was close enough now to make out the figure as a male Trandoshan.

“Show yourself! Unless you want to be shot,” Grot growled with an irritated tone.

Luna found herself impressed that the Arconan had detected her as far out as he did. She moved into the open keeping her rifle at a low ready position. “Grot right? I am an ally.”

“That remains to be seen. You seem to know me, but who are you?” the Trandoshan hissed, keeping a hand on his own slugthrower pistol.

“Luna, clan Okami, here with the Odanites,” the Mandalorian announced.

Grot nodded and removed his hand from his pistol. “What brings you out this far Luna of clan Okami?”

“Same as you, those sentries aren’t posted far enough out and this is a natural point of ingress or egress for a surprise assault.”

Grot nodded approvingly, “It’s nice to see one who does not place blind faith in their magic alerting them to danger.”

“I have no such luxury, I must rely on my own senses and intuition,” Luna replied as she took up a position beside the Arconan and swapped her bo-rifle for her sniper to observe down the hillslope to the creek-bed below. “Perhaps we could patrol together, two can see far more than one.”

“I hunt alone,” the Trandoshan grunted matter of factly. “No disrespect, you seem capable enough in your own right.”

“None taken. We can split the area, I can cover the north quadrant and you can cover the south or whichever you prefer. My frequency is 33.567 if you need anything.”

Grot stood silent for a moment as he considered the human female’s proposed course of action, it made sense and allowed him to work alone. He wasn’t comfortable placing any level of trust in a stranger, but it was the most prudent scenario for them to protect the casino.

“I shall take the north,” he hissed, unwilling to let her steal the best quadrant. “My frequency is 23.45.”

Luna entered Grot’s frequency into her own commlink. “Good fortune on your hunt,” she stated with a slight bow of her helmet.

Before Grot could reply an explosion rang out in the distance from the direction of the Casino. The pair of hunters tensed up and prepared to race back. Both their commlinks lit up with radio chatter on the allied net.

Explosion in the Casino! All stations report in!” The radio net was filled with panicked voices checking in with their commanders and mustering all available personnel.

Casualties, I repeat, mass casualty event. All available medical personnel to rally point besh.

“Let’s go, I need to get back there!” Luna exclaimed as she started to run back toward the casino. Grot needed no further motivation, though he thought wryly about how the Force users had failed to sense the danger in time.

As they made the 300 meter sprint back toward the city another series of calls came over the net.

Possible assailants fleeing the scene, heading west toward post theta.”

Post theta has engaged the assailants, request backup. I say ag—” The transmission was cut short.

Post theta had been the sentries directly between the pair and the main casino. The attackers, whomever they were, were headed directly toward them.

“The cowards flee to their warren, we must pursue! There are no other units between here and the woods!” Grot exclaimed as they ran.

“Agreed,” Luna replied, although reluctantly. Her medical skills would be needed at the bombing site but both clans needed to capture at least one of the assailants first.

(Grot) #3

“We need to get an elevated position, we can see them coming from farther off,” Luna glanced around, trying to remember the topography of the area around the casino. “There should be a small rise not far from here, follow me!”

Grot nodded and dashed after her as she picked up the pace. In a short time the trees thinned, and the ground began to slope sharply upward as they climbed a small hill. From here they had a great view of the sparse woodlands and country surrounding the casino.

It was worse than they thought.

Blaster fire still filled the sky in around the casino, bright nolts of light streaking off into the air as the gunfight continued below. Part of the casinos roof was missing, and the walls looked dangerously unstable. Thick, black clouds of smoke gently billowed out from the casino’s roof, speaking to the extensive damage that had been done. The explosion must have been massive.

There will be a lot of casualties Luna thought to morbidly, sighing as she tore her eyes away from the arresting sight.

“Perfect!” Grot shouted, with obvious approval, “We should be able to easily spot our prey from here.”

“Glad to see you’re so pleased with the situation” Luna snapped back at him with a glare. The Trandoshan frowned, blinking his bright orange eyes as he looked off towards the destruction.

“We can not help them. Focus yourself on the Hunt, Luna of Clan Okami.” The mercenary brushed past her, scanning the forest around them for movement. The Mandalorian behind him growled at his callous behaviour, but couldn’t deny that he was in the right. It hurt that so many were injured, and it pained her that she couldn’t help them, but she would not allow herself to be distracted.

“There! I think I see movement, 200 meters north of us” Grot pointed off into the distance at a small copse of trees. He began to unsling his rifle from his shoulder, hoping to use the scope to see them more clearly. Luna imitated him and reached into her pack, pulling out a pair of shining white electro-binoculars. She dropped down to a knee and gazed through them, trying to focus in on the section of the forest the Trandoshan had pointed out. Through the branches she could see movement, a large group of people trying to move deeper into the woods, heading directly southwest.

“I see them” Luna said, adjusting her binoculars for a clearer view “They must have changed course after assaulting post Theta, they’re heading to the southwest.”

“Two squads” Grot contributed, studying them from behind the scope of his rifle “Roughly twenty men. They are moving rather slowly, however, perhaps they have taken casualties”

Luna continued to surveil them as they made the enemy made their way through the woods, passing through a thinner area of tree cover. Twenty men was about right, and heavily armed too, with black composite armor and more blasters than she really wanted to deal with. There was an officer of some kind in the lead, though he wasn’t in a standard uniform.
She spotted a large number of them were moving slowly, shuffling along as if they were injured or intoxicated at the back of the column. She switched the binoculars to a heavier magnification to get a closer look, and her heart sank as she realized who they were. Chains bound their feet and hands together, and their mouths were muzzled by some sort of steel device. Their eyes stared blankly down at the ground, half-lidded, and they stumbled along as if half-asleep.

“No, not twenty, ” She said, her voice grim , “they’ve taken the Padawans prisoner.”

She felt rage well up inside of at the sight of her Clan’s youngest students taken prisoner. They’d been housed at the southern end of the casino, far away from the important talks taking place further inside. It hadn’t been considered a priority to protect them, and sentries had been particularly light around that section of the building

She cursed herself for not insisting on better security measures. She cursed the Clans for being so karking arrogant that they’d allowed this to happen. Her knuckles began to whiten as she gripped the binoculars tighter, and she unconsciously began to grind her teeth together

“And still far too many. We should report their position to command and await reinforcements.” Grot said, sounding vaguely disappointed. He sighed and shook his head as Luna whipped around to face him

“What?!” She snapped “You can’t honestly be suggesting we let them get away?”

“I suggest that we wait for more forces to help us. One does not hunt a Rancor with a sling.” Grot snarled in frustration, he clearly wasn’t pleased with the situation either.

“Are you a coward?”

“What?” Grot hissed, narrowing his eyes

“I asked if you were a coward, or is your hearing as weak as your heart?”

“This is a fight we can not win! Not without the support of the Clans!”

“A fight you can not win! I intend to go down there and rescue my clanmates, I won’t sit and shiver while my people are in danger. If we don’t help them now we may never get another chance!”

Grot growled, glaring at the smaller Mandalorian and flashing his sharpened teeth. Luna snarled back up at him, each of them daring the other to make the first move. Grot eventually broke down first, letting out a hearty laugh

“By the goddess…,” Grot shook his head, smiling “Very well, Luna of Clan Okami, let no one ever accuse another Trandoshan of cowardice. There are ways to hunt a Rancor with a sling”

“And how do we do that?” Luna asked, returning the Trandoshan’s smile.

“Very carefully. We begin by thinning their numbers.” Grot returned to his rifle, settling down prone on the ground and looking towards the enemy column. “I’ll need you to spot my targets, do you have any marksman training?”

“I know the principals,” Luna answered as she pulled out her electrobinoculars. She’d never done any sniping work with slugthrowers before, but it helped to be familiar with every form of combat.

“Mark out targets of importance, I will let you know when i am ready to strike.” Luna nodded went back to her binoculars, focusing in on the enemy column. They were getting every deeper into the forest now, but from their elevated position she could still make them out. At the far side of the column there was a burly, monster of a soldier carrying a heavy blaster. He would cause them a lot of trouble when the closed in to rescue the padawans.

“Far side, 235 meters, there’s a soldier with a heavy blaster.”

“I have him,” Grot made a few small adjustments to his sight, and cycled the bolt on the rifle in one slow, deliberate motion. “Ready to fire.”

“Fire.”

The report from the slugthrower was even louder than she’d expected, sending birds and animals scattering it echoed across the woods. The armor-piercing slug rocketed through the 235 meters of sir separating them, striking the soldier dead in the thigh. He fell to the ground, clutching his leg and screaming in pain. The column fell to the ground like startled goats, barely audible shouts of “Sniper!” carrying on the wind.

“You’ve only wounded him” Luna pointed out, watching the man struggle.

“Keep your eyes on the target.”

Another soldier broke off from the rest of the column, slinging a bag off of his shoulder as he approached the wounded man. She saw him pull out a cloth and start staunching the flow of blood, tending to the man’s wounds and trying to drag him into cover.

Another bark from the Trandoshan’s rifle put an end to that, and the medic’s head popped open like a over-ripe grape as the slug slammed into it. Luna grimaced reflexively before refocusing on the task at hand. It wasn’t the most honorable tactic, but outnumbered and outgunned as they were there was little choice. Still, she respected Grot’s resolve to do what needed to be done without hesitation.

The Officer at the head of the column began to rally his troops, drawing a long, thin blade out from under his cloak and waving it in their direction as he harshly shouted his orders. The troops began to poke their way out of cover, firing blasters in their direction.

“Officer, 230 meters.”

“Firing."

The officer began to duck his way into cover just as Grot fired, perhaps realizing his exposed position, and the bullet struck the ground behind him. Grot cursed as the blaster fire continued to intensify, and the officer steadfastly refused to stick his head out of cover. Luna ducked down as a few bolts came too close for comfort, but continued searching for targets. She noticed a female soldier at the back of the column, waving in their direction and shouting to the rest of the soldiers. The symbols on her armor marked here out as an NCO.

“There’s a squad leader at the back of the column directing their fire, 220 meters.”

“Firing”

The woman was sent spinning as Grot’s slug struck her in the chest, and didn’t get up from where she landed on the ground. The rest of the enemy soldiers finally broke cover, grabbing their hostages and dragging them along as they tried to retreat further into the forest, where the tree cover was heavier. The Trandoshan took another shot, catching one of the line troops as they retreated, and was ready to take another when Luna spotted something that sent a chill down her spine.

“Cease fire!”

She gritted her teeth and shouted every Mandalorian curse she could think of. The officer they’d failed to strike grabbed one of the padawans, a young Durosian girl, and wrenched her head backwards, laying his sword across her throat. With his hood fallen down, she could see the smug grin on the sandy-skinned Nautolan’s face as he pressed the blade deep enough to draw blood.

I remember her. The little girl who broke and arm in close combat training. Brave fool just refused to tap out…

“I have a shot” Grot said, a savage grin on his face

“Hold fire! You could hit the hostage!” Luna reached down, grabbing his rifle’s stock if he got any ideas. Grot growled in frustration, but did not fire. The two of them watched, helpless, as the Collective soldiers retreated further into the woods, the canopy completely masking their movements.

(Rajhin) #4

“What were you thinking?” Grot hissed.

Luna’s mind raced, what had she been thinking? The Nautolan had clearly been one of the senior officers present and a key target. Taking the shot was the logical thing to do and one hostage wasn’t an unreasonable risk. But the Duros girl, Orona was her name, reminded her too much of her protege Eris and various other healers she had trained over the years. The girl had spirit and a great deal of potential.

“Those are my,” Luna struggled for the right word in basic, “clan-mates.” Her sapphire eyes burned with maternal rage. No one threatened her pack and lived.

The Trandoshan read her tone and body language perfectly, he may not have agreed but he understood her motivation. “Very well, how do you propose we get them back?”

“We follow and try to call for backup,” is all she could spit out in the moment. “But failing that we can’t let them leave the planet, they likely have shuttles stashed somewhere outside the city’s sensor range.”

Grot stood up and slung his rifle. “I agree, but their shuttles are likely not far from here. Let’s move.”

The pair began to move through the forest as swiftly and stealthy as they could. Each began trying their comlinks to no avail, localized jamming. Luna reached to her backpack as she ran and pulled a frisbee sized black disk from on top. She pressed the top of the disk and legs unfolded from the bottom and it floated in front of her. The “disk” beeped and red eyes came online revealing a seeker droid.

“Sirius,” Luna commanded, “comms are down, return to the shuttle and tell Eris we are pursuing enemy agents with Padawan hostages. Give her this location and our heading, watch for enemy spacecraft.”

The droid beeped an affirmative and flew off in the opposite direction.

“Do you think that droid will reach your friend in time?” Grot inquired.

“Hopefully he just needs to get close enough to break through the jamming then he can radio the message.”

The Trandoshan slowed his pace, “we shouldn’t expect reinforcements though.”

“Agreed.”

The pair halted as they can to a clearing at the base of the hill they were on. They quickly ducked into the underbrush and took up another sniper position. Instead of taking up his rifle, Grot pulled out a scan pulse device and began studying the readout. Luna scanned the area with her electrobinoculars mentally making note of the enemy positions.

The clearing was clearly a rally point of some kind for the Collective forces with what appeared to be two landing spaces cleared for Lamda sized shuttles. Behind each of the hasty landing pads were four Padawans lined up in a straight line and fitting with shock collars. They were seated with their heads drooping down, at least partially sedated.

Smart, Luna thought as she continued to observe. Restrain and drug the Jedi prisoners so they couldn’t use the Force effectively. She had seen such tactics on Nancora, when the Collective had bothered to take prisoners.

The eight restrained hostages had two guards a piece, milling about and watching the sky for their rides. The rest of the Collective soldiers had formed a hasty perimeter around the clearing, Luna counted ten total plus the Nautolan officer they had seen earlier, still dragging Orona around like some kind of prize. The Okami zoomed in with her binoculars as far as they could go. Orona had a large bruise on the left side of her face that darkened her otherwise green skin and a bleeding gash from her forehead. She had put up a fight while getting captured, but she had the same shock collar and restraints as the others. Luna’s fury burned that much hotter, but years of discipline kept her rational brain in control.

“I count ten, plus the officer,” the Mandalorian reported.

Grot looked up from his readout and scanned the area with his naked eyes. “Aye and seven hostages.”

“There’s got to be more of them out there,” Luna mused. “We need to move quickly before any enemy reinforcements show up.”

The Arconan growled absently in thought as he pulled out his rifle and began to scan the area. The odds were stacked against them but it was far from impossible. He felt confident he could take out the guards nearest one set of hostages from his current vantage point but that would leave the other set open. It would take both of them, only Luna had a medium range rifle at best.

“I have a plan,” Grot announced as he looked up from his rifle scope. “I can cover you from here and take out the hostage guards on the left before they can do anything but you’ll have to get closer and get the ones on the other side at the same time for this to work. After that we’ll have to take the rest down as quickly as possible.”

Luna nodded with understanding, it was risky but they had few options. She removed her medical backpack and adjusted her bo-rifle sling. The Okami pulled a dagger out of her belt and examined it. “I’ll start with the nearest sentry and try to move as close as I can, with some luck I can eliminate a few quitely before the shooting starts.”

“That armor doesn’t seem like the best for stealth,” Grot commented.

Luna placed her helmet next to her medical backpack, she’d need all her senses for this. “It’s built for hunting and scouting, I think you’ll be surprised.”

The Trandoshan returned to his rifle scope, “I’ll be up here watching if you get spotted.” The skepticism on his voice was palpable.

For having just been shot at less than an hour ago the Collective soldiers were rather lackadaisical in their perimeter. Perhaps Capital Enterprise mercenaries were not as dedicated as their Liberation Front or huntress colleagues. The sentry nearest to them paced nervously and kept looking behind him as if looking for the shuttle that would get him off the planet and away from danger. He was a blue-skinned Twi’lek in his mid twenties from the looks of it. Probably a fresh from training.

Luna crept down the hill slowly, giving the sentry a wide berth at first as to not descend directly in his line of sight. Then she got within 15 meters of him and hid behind a tree. The Mandalorian clutched her dagger close, there was limited cover between her current position and the sentry. If she tried to rush to melee range, she’d be spotted for sure and likely shot. She readied her dart launcher. The shot would be tricky, but nothing she hadn’t hit before. The Okami waited until the sentry looked behind him again then took aim. She steadied her firing arm as best she could, held her breath and fired. The dart landed just above the soldier’s collarbone, not quite where Luna had aimed but close enough to get the job done.

“Hey!” the sentry exclaimed as he reached up to find the dart. He swatted at it as if he had been bitten by an insect only to find a small dart protruding from his neck. The Twi’lek turned to alert his colleagues only to collapse to the ground before he could. Luna crept up to his unconcious form, making sure none of the other guards were looking this way and drug him into some tall grass.

One down, nine to go

The clearing was large enough to land two shuttles which left little in the way of cover for Luna to move to if she wish to avoid detection. The amount of equipment on the ground was minimal. She moved as discreetly as she could to the group of Padawans on the right trusting Grot would take care of the guards with the group on the left. The guard closest to her was leaned over checking restraints on a hostage while the other was absently looking toward the horizon for the incoming shuttle. Like a Nexu hunting its prey the Mandalorian crept closer and closer with her dagger drawn. With a swift motion she brought the blade to the Weequay guard’s throat and slashed. Hot blood spewed onto the back of the Padawan as the guard collapsed with a wet gurgling sound.

Hearing the sound the second Human guard quickly turned and froze for a moment in shock at the sight of his butchered comrade. The row of hostages was between Luna and the guard so she didn’t have a clear line to close the distance for a melee strike so she reached for her blaster pistol with her free hand. Shaking the shock away, the guard took aim at the intruder with his rifle and began to shout “INTRUDER!”

At that moment all hell broke loose. Grot took the shot at the first of the two guards near the right group of Padawans, sending an echo of a slugthrower shot ringing through the clearing. Luna dropped her dagger and dove backwards pulling her pistol out of its holster and aiming it. The angry guard took a shot at the Mandalorian, having the bolt pass over her head as she fell backwards. It would have hit had she not moved when she did. Luna was now on her back with the blaster pistol trained and she hit the Human guard dead center in the chest before he could aim for a second shot.

The rest of the Collective squad scrambled to react to the ongoing attack but with Luna on her back in the grass and Grot in a hidden sniper position they couldn’t tell where the assault was coming from, only that some of their colleagues were missing.

“Sniper due west!” one of the NCOs shouted as the rest of the squad scrambled to cover. The Nautolan officer pulled his hostage close and made sure to point her toward the direction of the sniper as a living shield of sorts.

More slugthrower shots rang out as Grot continued to engage targets with expert precision. Luna got up from her position, holstered her pistol, recovered her dagger and unslung her bo-rifle. She moved to the drugged and restrained Padawan hostages closest to her and had them lay as flat as they could on the ground as not to get caught in the cross-fire. She then ran over to the group on the left and had them do the same. Most of the Collective squad was now focused on Grot’s position and threat of a sniper but the Nautolan officer noticed Luna.

“There’s a Mandalorian inside our perimeter! Sweet Ashla why we are paying you people?” The officer exclaimed in an almost high Galactic accent. He held a rapier to his Duros hostage’s throat turning her toward Luna.

The Okami paid more attention to two soldiers running toward her, she shot one with her rifle and a slugthrower round came out of seemingly nowhere to take out the other. A Devaronian male’s head exploded in a spray of silver mist from the slug round as his toxic blood sprayed on the ground.

Luna felt very lucky to have Grot as an ally. Her attention turned to the officer.

“You wouldn’t kill one of your fellow Jedi would you?” He sneered.

“I am no Jedi,” Luna retorted as she aimed her bo-rifle at the Nautolan’s head.

“A traitor to your own kind then? How does it feel to be the Force user’s lapdog?”

The Okami gave no reply, keeping her aim fixed on her opponent. The unmistakable sound of a sonic imploder detonating behind her told Luna that her sniper support had now been engaged at grenade range. She was now on her own and the rest of the Collective squad had shifted to engage the sniper.

Luna noticed the officer had no ranged weapons on his person, only two rapiers and a whip were visible. She lowered her bo-rifle and deftly converted it to staff mode. “Only cowards hide behind hostages, face me if you dare.”

The Nautolan paused, looked at his wrist chronometer to check the time and smiled as if he got an inside joke. “As you wish,” he replied. He spun Orona around and stabbed her in the stomach before tossing her aside like a used doll with the blade still protruding from her stomach.

“I was hoping to face a true Jedi today, but I guess one of their Mandalorian lackeys will have to do,” he sneered as he readied his second rapier.

Luna charged him with all her fury slashing with the electrified ends of her bo-rifle in staff form. The officer deftly dodged and parried as if studying her form. He was toying with her.

“It was just a little prick, I don’t know why you’re so angry,” he taunted. “If you defeat me you should have plenty of time to save her.”

The Okami rushed her opponent again with renewed vigor, making wide sweeps of her staff to try to catch him for a disabling discharge of the weapon’s energy. He was too fast, it was like trying to snatch a bobbing snake. The officer seized an opportunity when Luna was fully extended in a slash of her staff to deftly dart his rapier forward and slice her cheek. The Mandalorian lept backward to reflexively feel her wound.

“My dear you are starting to bore me. You’ll have to do better than that if you wish to best Lord Ru’g En!” He bragged with a flourish of his weapon.

The sound of a lambda shuttle descending into the area interrupted the two combatants. The vessel landed in the clearing with a thud.

“Oh it appears our time is up,” Ru’g exclaimed as the ramp lowered to reinforcements pouring out with rifles trained in Luna’s direction. She had little recourse but to dive for cover behind some of the communication jamming equipment. The fresh Collective soldiers opened fire, effectively pinning her down.

A second lambda shuttle began to descend next to the first and for a moment Luna wondered if this is how things would end for her, getting overwhelmed on a landing zone trying to save Jedi hostages. Then laser cannon fire from above struck the second shuttle, sending it flying to the far side of the clearing in a flaming wreck. The Okami looked up to see her personal shuttle, Valkyrie whiz by and circle around for another pass. Eris had come through!

“Leave the hostages, we have plenty of others!” Ru’g barked as he rushed into the intact shuttle in front of him. “GET THE SHIELDS UP!” The lambda shuttle quickly rose and began to fly away as Eris pursued them in Valkyrie blasting at the now shielded vehicle.

Luna rushed over to Orona who was not breathing. She carefully removed the rapier and noticed it was coated with poison. She was too late. The Mandalorian rushed to try to revive the Duros but to no avail. Finally she administered an antidote dose to herself in case the cut on her cheek had some of the same poison on it.
Holding the lifeless Padawan in her arms she swore to gods, ancestors and Force itself that she would get vengeance for Orana or die trying.