A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[Clan Arcona - Team 2x2 Hands of Bleu]


2x2 HoB team members as follows, with Snapshot URLs:

Uji: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/13561/snapshots/444/822
Qyreia: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/14369/snapshots/476/926
Lucine: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/14877/snapshots/486/918
Kordath: https://www.darkjedibrotherhood.com/members/13593/snapshots/436/808


Giletta Spaceport
Selen, Dajorra System

“You want us to take that?” Qyreia looked up at the dull gray-blue hull of Kordath’s XS-800 Bleusmobile and cringed. “There’s a gun at least, but this thing’ll move like a drunk Hutt on Hoth.”

“Fit for a king, lass,” Kordath beamed as he sauntered up. “Be nice ta have all that room and soft beds, eh?” His eyes darted toward the redhead behind the both of them, currently speaking with Uji Tameike. “Might be nice ta take a run down ‘er trench… show her a few new things.”

The Zeltron grabbed the Proconsul by the head and knuckled his scalp. “We talking about the ship or the cheeka over there?”

“Why not both, eh?” That earned him a bit rougher treatment from the mercenary, who only relented when he yelped from the friction burning his skin. “Arright! Ye win!”

As she released him, the realization that they were in a very precarious situation was not lost on them. Through the few leaks of intel that managed to reach the Citadel, the Summit had learned of a collection of Sith scrolls that had fallen into the hands of the Collective — some Technocrats on world called Nancora Prime. As it turned out, these belligerents had fortified their terrestrial holdings on the planet, making the mission that filtered down to these four Arconans all the more difficult.

A Proconsul, Quaestor, Aedile, and a Battleteam Leader. At the very least, they wouldn’t be running short of leadership. Now, how much they listened to each other might be another matter.

It was almost a relief when Uji came forward with the pretty Sith just behind. “I couldn’t manage to get us any support from the Clan. Everything is either grounded or strictly dedicated to local system defense. Qyreia, I hate to ask this, but do you mind if we use your ship? You likely know your way around a cockpit better than any of us.”

The Zeltron had expected a quip from that, but even Kord seemed to have held back, if barely. “Much as I might regret it, I think Mister Bleu’s ship might be better suited to this. The stealth suite on here might be just what we need to get in under the Collective’s sensors.”

And there’s all the comforts o’ home ta…” Qyreia stomped lightly on Kordath’s foot. “Is that any way to treat yer boss?”

“It is when he’s a horndog that doesn’t have a filter on what he’s saying.”

“Will we actually be able to get in?” Lucine asked, interrupting the argument in an effort to get things moving.

“That depends on the terrain, the enemy, and just how good our Proconsul’s ship is.”

Some time later…
Above Nancora Prime, Nancora System

It had taken the better part of a day for the four of them to gather their effects and make for their objective. Much of Kordath’s effects were already onboard, and Qyreia had only to transfer her R3 droid onto the ship. The two other Force users had little to bring aboard beyond what they were already carrying. Taking off was clearly going to be the easiest part of the whole ordeal.

No matter how much he had postured prior to departure, Kordath spent the greater majority of the trip face-down in a bucket. He wasn’t puking the whole time, but “it dinnae hurt to be prepared,” as he put it. Lucine eventually joined their mercenary pilot in the cockpit and, much to Qyreia’s relief, largely kept to herself. A few light conversations sprung up between them — how long they’d been with Arcona, what each of them specialized in, et cetera — before Lucine’s attention drifted to her datapad, and Qyreia’s to learning more about the ship’s systems. Uji, according to the redheaded woman, was meditating in the lounge.

“Meditating? On what?”

Lucine shrugged. “I could not say without asking him, and he does not appear to want to be disturbed.”

“Whatever,” the Zeltron sighed. “You Force users are so weird sometimes. But, if it works, I guess there’s no point in questioning it too much.”

“How is it weird?”

“Like… what do you even do when you’re meditating? I get it on the stress-relief level, but not your,” she waved her hands around fluidly, “space magic… stuff.”

The human chuckled cutely at the display. “It depends on what you are trying to do. Every technique works differently and must be trained accordingly.”

“Kord probably just imagines up Force ghosts of naked women.”

Lucine balked, half amused and half fearful. “I would not doubt it. Have you had to deal with his ‘Skitters’ yet?”

That led into a long tirade about Qyreia’s earlier times as Quaestor, prior to her demotion, wherein the Ryn had nearly lost his droids to her blaster. Lucine shared her own stories, and it passed the time well enough. As the broiling planet came into view, however, any lighthearted conversation died off quickly. The stealth system was fully active and Remee, the merc’s droid, was monitoring the sensors while the party consolidated in the lounge area. Even Kordath didn’t look too horrible despite his spacesickness.

“I have been searching the Force,” Uji started off as the others sat in the well-cushioned seats, “and I am not seeing any options that lead to success.”

Qyreia’s eyebrow quirked. “Well damn skippy, why not just shove a torp up my exhaust port and save the Collective the trouble of fightin’ us?”

“It is what I was shown, whether it comes to pass or not is up to you,” he shrugged.

“Ye could’nae seen this a bit earlier, mate?” Kordath asked with a strained, positive air. “Welp, suppose we just got tae go back home then.”

“No. Bad Kordath,” the Zeltron chided jokingly.

“It will be difficult to get past their defenses, even with the ship’s stealth technology,” Lucine said, a hint of worry tingeing her voice.

“I think I can get us down there and into the facility in one piece.”

“And after that?”

Qyreia shrugged. “Stay stealthy where we can, shoot schuttas everywhere else.”

“Is that the extent of your tactical planning?”

“Dinnae question it too much,” Kordath coughed knowingly. “Works better than ye might imagine.”

“Once we’re on the ground, that might change,” Uji chimed in. “Unfortunately we do not have a very good idea of what the inside of this place looks like, so we will be playing it by ear and trusting the Force to see us through.”

“In the meantime,” Lucine said almost seductively to the Zeltron, “you said you have a plan to get us in?”

Qyreia grinned.

Crowding into the cockpit, the three Force users watched the pilot’s plan unfold. Even Kordath kept his eyes open, though not without cinching the safety restraints nice and tight, and maintaining a pale-knuckled grip on the arm rests. Off in the distance, they knew the Collective fleet was circling the planet. Unfortunately for them, a cordon is only as good as its coverage, and they didn’t have enough to block off the whole planet, much less from a single ship that stayed as far from their sensor range as possible. They might have picked up the heat signature of atmospheric entry if not for the slow pace that the Bleusmobile took going in. The maneuvering thrusters were stressed to their limits, especially given the requirements of the stealth mechanisms, but Remee was able to siphon additional power to aid in their descent. Internal temperature control was overrated anyway.

What limited intel they had received had thankfully included rough coordinates for the Technocrat base. Even weakened through power drain, the navicomputer was able to give the pilot a visual display. From there, Qyreia could see the fortress on the zoomed imagery. As they came closer and closer to ground, they could make out the small black speck of the structure on the horizon.

“Gonna be mighty hot walking out there,” Kordath muttered through clenched teeth.

“Probably an enclosed structure,” the Zeltron said hopefully. She didn’t know a huge amount about computers, but she knew they worked better in climate controlled environments; and what were the Technocrats but computer freaks?

“Where is our entrance?” As confident as Uji was in the merc, he wasn’t seeing anything special in the plan beyond flying thus far.

“There.” Qyreia pointed to a large sandstorm bowling slowly toward the black speck of their target. “We slide on in and, between the ship’s systems and the wind and sand, their sensors won’t be picking up druk. We’ll be able to park right on their doorstep, so long as there’s no windows to see out of.”

“Not that they could see much in that,” Kordath said, thankful they were in the atmosphere.

“If you’re not buckled in yet, better get there,” Qyreia said as she nosed the ship toward the sandstorm. “This is the hard part.”

Atmospheric entry had shaken the craft immensely. The dust storm was worse. Without the aid or luxury of inertial dampers, the light freighter rocked violently with each blast of gale-force wind. Sand blasted at the exterior pieces and the special stealth coating that was saving them from being spotted. It all held together.

How much bloody longer are we doing this? Kordath thought as they watched the mercenary frantically work to keep the ship aloft. The Ryn could see the meter that denoted height above ground level ticking by in double-digits — numbers that looked far too small for his liking. Sporadic dips to single digits made him want to scream, but he kept control of himself. The Force helped a little, but it was understandably hard to maintain his concentration. He peeked at the Zeltron again and took in her physical state. Sweating through her shirt as much from the hectic stress as from the mounting heat in the ship, her black undergarments showed through the clinging cloth. A part of her lip was clenched between her teeth, her expression as much frustrated as it was happily crazed.

“Are you smiling?” Lucine yelled through the thunder of the wind outside.

The red skinned woman seemed only to bite her lip harder, though it was hard to tell if it was out of amusement or a way to tighten the hold on her concentration. The ship lurched sluggishly with its maneuver thrusters. If she could keep the ship from crashing, they might just be able to pull this off.

Mouk Compound
The Badlands, Nancora

The security control center was cool and dry. Without the blast doors covering the large viewports, Kendra Icasta would be wading through sand and grit that would be havoc on her mechanical arm, and likely would not bode well for the lens of her cybernetic eye. All in all, it was a fine place to be during the massive storm that, like the many before it, was enveloping the compound.

“Nothing to report?”

“Nothing,” one of the cyborg workers stated flatly. “We are monitoring the surveillance cameras, but the storm has reduced functions to eight point five percent. Sensors are picking up nothing.”

“Strong storm,” she said to no one in particular.

Kendra was anxious. Every part of her wanted to embrace the thrill of the hunt, and she thought she could almost feel the wind lashing at the reinforced duracrete and thick metal shutters, yet she was rewarded with nothing. No shaking in the floors. Nothing to hunt. Nothing to feel but the cool, dry air. There was hardly even any noise to speak of coming through the protective shutters. Once the storm was over, she would have to take her Shikari out for a training exercise. That would satisfy her for a while.

“Very well. Continue monitoring and notify me if anything comes up.”

Her command was met with a methodical salute. She expected no less from the personnel of the Technocratic Guild. Another dull day I suppose.

Aboard the Bleusmobile

“What the hell was that?!” Kordath screamed as the ship listed shortly after an almost explosive popping sound echoed through the hull.

“Sand is clogging one of the starboard thrusters,” Qyreia explained, her mop of blue hair clinging to her face. “Troubleshooting now…” Lets see if this clears it up.

Priming the thruster port with fuel, she ignited the engine with an ear-splitting bang that sounded like part of the ship should be missing. Rather than crash though, the ship started righting itself, the sand effectively blasted from the thruster. Frack yeah! Need to remember to high-five myself later for that one. The Zeltron’s eyes darted to the navicomputer and she was relieved to see that they were nearing the Collective base.

“Are we slowing down?” Uji asked.

“Yep,” their pilot grunted as she continued to fight the controls. “Almost there.”

“Oh thank the Force,” he sighed with no small amount of relief.

Slowly but surely, the craft slowed, the winds rocking them manageably the closer to ground they came. Out of the brownish fog of dust, a large rock rose from the gloom into vision. A small outcrop proceeded forth from below, into which Qyreia gingerly landed them, careful not to overcompensate once the ship was out of the better part of the wind. It wasn’t a perfect shelter, but it would keep the ship safe while they were gone.

“How far are we from the enemy base?” Uji asked as he unbuckled his safety harness, the others following suit with varying degrees of joy at the release.

“About one, maybe two hundred meters tops.”

“That’s a long way to go with that wind,” Lucine said, looking at the lightly clothed merc. All the Force users at least had cloaks to shield them from the airborne particulate. The Zeltron had a leather half-jacket.

“I’ll just have to huddle in with one of you,” Qyreia said somewhat nervously as she wiped the sticky hair from her forehead. “Gonna suck worse than a hooker Hutt, but we gotta get in there.” She turned to Kordath, “And before you offer, you’re too short for me to get under your cape.”

“We better work it out soon,” Uji intoned as he looked out the viewport. “Better we get back before the storm abates and they never knew we were here in the first place.”


Kordath affected to look hurt but shrugged and hid a grin. A year past if he’d been in this situation with this group he’d have looked to Uji as the most steadfast of friends. Conditions had taxed their friendship, and while it was on the mend at the moment, it didn’t mean they were completely comfortable with one another again. Turning from the crew — his subordinates, something he was still coming to terms with — he began to dig through one of the supply stations near the hatch.

As he produced a few more breath masks, standard fare for most modern ships in case of gas leaks, he turned back to them. His eyes tracked over the trio, sliding over the curvaceous redhead and back to the recuperating pilot. Qyreia gave him a lot of crap these days, but she had every right. These days she was one of the few he trusted – hell, he and Zujenia trusted her enough to let her watch their daughter. He threw a breath mask her way, and to the others.

“Well, now, since I’m a wee bit too short, and poor Uji here is gonna be limpin’ behind-”

“It’s sand, Kordath; it isn’t exactly conducive to a cane.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Qybbles, luv, I’m afraid yer gonna have ta make due huddlin’ up with Lucine here,” he said, his voice steady and clear. The very picture of innocence and concern on his face. “Now, Lucine, lass, Qyreia just had herself a ‘ell o’ a time flyin’ down, so ya may need ta help, uh, support her a bit. Let her recuperate, eh?”

He covered his smirk by putting on his breath mask and flipping up the hood of his cloak. Still, he tossed the Zeltron a conspiratorial wink. She rolled her eyes in response and moved to follow the Ryn towards the boarding ramp. The wind howled, and sand blew up into the ship, much to his annoyance as the hatch opened.

Gonna take weeks ta get all that out.


Lucine looked down at the breath mask in her hands and made a face. Between the wind and the mask, her carefully coiffed hair would be absolutely ruined. But, it was better than the alternative of risking exposure to the elements.

“It is not going to get any better by standing around staring at it,” she said as she adjusted her cloak before putting on the mask. “Let us go so we can get this over with.”

It took some experimentation to get both women positioned under Lucine’s cloak in a manner that both would be covered. The already difficult proposition was made worse by the addition Kord’s occasional inappropriate comment and Uji’s bemused glare.

“This is slightly less than ideal,” Lucine muttered as she tried to adjust the hood to minimize the damage to her hair.

“You’re telling me,” Qyreia snapped from inside the cloak.

“Ya cozy, luvs? Might be ya can fit one more in there,” Kordath put in, his leer obscured by his breath mask.

“Good idea, darling. And while we are in such close proximity, we can discuss all those undergarments your creature ruined,” Lucine said with a toothy smile. Her words were met with a guffaw from the Zeltron; after a moment, Lucine’s cheeks reddened when she realized how her words could be interpreted. With a scowl, she turned her attention back to the task at hand.

Once the final adjustments were made, they set out toward the compound. The wind howled around them, tearing at their clothes. The sands shifted under them, making the footing treacherous and slowing their forward progress.

Kordath took point, being the least encumbered, but was careful not to stray too far from the group for fear of losing them in the blinding sand. Uji struggled along after him, followed at distance by Qyreia and Lucine. The close confines of the cloak, the height difference between the two women and the interference of the elements meant that there was a constant risk of falling. On more than one occasion one would stumble, only to be righted by the other.

At last they reached a small outcrop of wind-blasted rocks that overlooked the Collective compound. The group gratefully took shelter there as they considered their next steps. Intel on the compound defenses had been scant, and the sandstorm did little to aid in a visual inspection of the compound.

“All right, we’re here. What now?” Qyreia asked as they caught their breath.


A sharp painful hiss escaped from the Galeres Quaestor as he leaned back against the outcropping of rock. The other three Arconans looked to him, a mixture of concern, whether for his health or for the liability that he could be to them. “Ya alright mate?” Kordath’s hand clapped down on his shoulder he helped Uji brace for a moment putting himself between Uji and the two women.

“Remind me again, Bleu, why did I agree to come back and help?”

“Well, I’d wager tha sister, yer blasted pride, or that you’re still daft” Kord and Uji shared a brief laugh. The Proconsul glanced over his shoulder at the two women clustered together, their impatience obvious as the awaited the two senior officers to provide the guidance. He felt Uji take a deep steadying breath and rise to his full height, though he could tell the Quaestor still leaned heavily on the cane.

“The Proconsul or myself would likely be easily recognized and picked off. Our infiltration will depend on the two of you.” Uji’s eyes connected with Qyreia’s narrowed gaze.

“We need access to the facility, which means either sneaking or talking our way in or perhaps a combination of the two. I seem to remember you being rather deft at disappearing on the Nighthawk, Kordath. I can, with sufficient concentration, maintain a link between us within the Force that would mostly eliminate the need for communication, but I will need somewhere I can reliably maintain my meditations as you three venture throughout the facility.”


“And you can’t do that here?” Qyreia eyed the storm raging just beyond the protective shelter of the rocks.

“It would be easier if I were closer at hand.”

That earned an audible but unintelligible grumble from the merc, which Lucine seemed to find cute, judging by her giggle. “Mind if I borrow the cloak for a bit?” the Zeltron asked abruptly, though not without propriety.

The grimace on the human woman’s face clearly displayed her hesitation at the prospect. On the one hand, it would leave her largely exposed to the elements that swirled around the stony protrusion that they called shelter. On the other, her hair was already ruined and there wasn’t much more damage that could be wrought at the moment without facing direct combat. With a reluctant “Fine,” Lucine relinquished the cloak and Qyreia dashed alone into the vortex of particulate, much to the surprise of the others.

“Tha’ woman’s completely mad,” Kordath grunted amusedly.

In the murky winds, the Zeltron knew only to follow the looming silhouette of the compound’s walls. It was remarkably closer than she had initially thought. Her hands quickly found the smooth, wind-polished surface, but she could see little else, save for what looked like the vague shape of a gun emplacement high above. Taking her knife, she marked out a deep gouge in the hardened dirt that she figured even the storm wouldn’t be able to cover quickly enough.

The mask was stuffy and the hood of the cloak destroyed her peripheral vision, requiring her to turn her head fully to see anything. It created an almost comical appearance as she walked the length of the walls, looking for any sort of ingress to the facility. She would take a sewage tunnel at this point. When following the wall to the right failed, she turned back and went the other way, passing her marking in the ground en route. Finally, she saw something that might actually allow them entry: a vent cover, nigh ten meters off the ground. And no friggin’ way to climb to it, she thought, noting the walls were a near vertical and wholly smooth surface. Begrudgingly, she marked another hole in the ground and, after a brief failed attempt to find a better entrance, she returned the way she came back to the rocky outcrop.

“Find anything?” Lucine asked as Qyreia returned and resumed their huddle beneath the cloak, now slightly more worn than it was before.

“There was a vent, but it was pretty high up.”

“Think this’ll get us in?” Kordath pulled a grappling hook from his belt and showed it to the group.

“Not sure. Exterior could be stone or metal, and probably too thick for the pointy bit there to penetrate.”

“What if we were to penetrate the vent cover?” Uji asked.

“Rather not. Supposed to be sensors galore in there, right? I wouldn’t even suggest using your lightsaber to cut through.”

“Then how are we supposed to get in?”

The Zeltron’s eyes narrowed sardonically. “Use the Force, Uj,” she said with sarcastic mystery, waving her hands as if performing some magic trick.

“Do not call me Uj.”

“Would they not be able to notice us using the Force?”

“A coalition of non-Force users? How? Honey, there ain’t a sensor in the galaxy yet that’s been able to detect the Force.” She punctuated the note with a butt-bump with Lucine, which Kordath silently approved of.

“Opening it up is easy enough, aye. And gettin’ up there?”

“Second verse, same as the first. Y’all lift each other up there.” The Force users all looked at each other skeptically. “Oh god, what is it?”

“I am not trained in the skill,” Uji said flatly.

“An’ I’m nae very good,” Kordath added.

Qyreia looked at Lucine. “You’d better not frackin’ say you don’t know how to work that mojo.”

She raised her hands defensively. “I can! I cannot lift myself though. I would have to be left behind.”

They heard a gentle clinking noise beneath the wind whistling around them, drawing their eyes to the Ryn, waving his grappling hook almost mockingly. “Kordaaath.” He grinned. “I’ve got yer answer right here, ladies.”

The Zeltron grimaced. “I really hate when you say that word with that tone.”

“Why don’t we just climb the grapple?” Uji inquired, not entirely confident in the mercenary’s convoluted plan.

“You guys climb a lot of ropes before?” Lucine and Uji both shook their heads. “It’s a pain in the choobs with a normal rope, and that’s if you’ve got the strength and the form down. That there is a flexible cable — thin and with very little friction to grab on.”

“Could just pass the grapple back and forth…” Kordath stopped short at seeing the merc’s expression. “What?”

Desire to hit the Ryn rising… “We need to move quickly. This plan gets that done, and doesn’t require everyone to voice their bloody two creds on it. Now let’s go!”

Now that they were armed with a plan, it was only a matter of execution. Following Qyreia’s lead, they shuffled away under the cover of their cloaks into the howling wind and toward the walls of the compound. It took some time to find the markers that Qyreia had left, the wind having blasted the rough edges smooth and round, but once they found the first, it was almost no trouble finding the second that marked their entry point. Once there, they all understood the plan.

“Time to work your magic,” Qyreia said to her cloak-mate.

“I will show you some magic alright,” Lucine returned coyly before outstretching a hand toward the shutters that covered the vent.

Ignoring the mercenary’s conflicted reactions, the human woman reached through the Force and, despite the very air tearing at her concentration, she managed to wrench open the slats with some difficulty. Then came the less-than-entertaining game of “musical cloaks.” Against the protests of Uji, Kordath was squeezed in with the Galeres Quaestor while Qyreia took the Ryn’s cloak before being bodily lifted toward the vent by Lucine’s invisible machinations. It was an odd sensation, to say the least. Once at the vent, it was a simple matter of squeezing between the slats to get into the safe and significantly cooler interior.

From there, Kordath and Uji were given similar treatment, though lifting two people in one cloak was rather more challenging. Both of the men were quite happy to separate from each other once they reached the safety of the vent. The Ryn then took to his task of leaning out the vent covers and shooting the hook down to Lucine. With the high winds, he was less concerned about being particularly accurate so long as he didn’t hit the eye candy below. Once the human secured the line on her end, the group helped to haul her up together. Once consolidated in the vent, Kordath rewound his grapple while the redhead sealed the vent covers.

No alarms were sounding; a good sign. The Collective seemed none the wiser.


Monitor Room A
Nancora Prime, Nancora System

Lieutenant Ryan Briggs yawned cavernously, before taking a long pull from his cup of caf. From the next console over, Lieutenant Meri Caverson gave him a raised eyebrow, “Long night last night?”

Briggs gave her a grin. “Yeah. Good night too, if you know what I’m saying.”

“Yeah, I know what you’re saying,” Carverson replied tightly. Her lekku twitched in annoyance. “Half of the damn barracks would know what you’re saying. You and your partner weren’t exactly quiet.

Briggs tried to look abashed, but the effect was spoiled by the impish grin that spread slowly across his face. “Yeah? Did it sound like I did a good job?”

“Just shut up and watch your monitor,” Carverson snapped.

“Why? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Carverson, but there’s a sandstorm going on out there. No one in their right mind would be out wandering around in it, and even if there was, it’s not like we’d be able to see it anyway,” Briggs pointed out.

The Twi’lek opened her mouth to reply but before she could speak, a series of red lights began flashing on Briggs’ panel. “What’s that?”

His smile vanished, immediately replaced with an air professionalism. “Something tripped the sensor on exterior vent S2. Bringing up the visual now.” As he spoke, the keyboard clacking as he executed the necessary commands. The screen flickered on, but revealed nothing but black and white static. “Damn it! This always happens when there’s a sandstorm!”

The screen flickered several times as Briggs cycled through all of the cameras in the area. The effect was the same; they saw only snow. “You know, we had this same problem last week. I hate sand; it gets everywhere. I’ll bet some got into the vents and triggered the sensor. I told the tech guys last week that they needed to decrease the sensitivity on those things.”

“Maybe,” Carverson replied thoughtfully. “I’m going to notify command and send a patrol anyway. Just to be sure.”

Inside Vent S2
Nancora Prime, Nancora System

As the Arconans delved deeper into the vent, it rapidly narrowed. After only a few feet, they were forced to crawl in order to move forward.

“I swear, Ryn, if you’re staring at my choobs…” Qyreia seethed.

“Nah, luv,” Kordath replied with a hint of disappointment in his voice. “Uji’s in the way.”

Lucine stifled a giggle from her place in the front of the line. “It appears we are coming up on the exit,” she said quietly over her shoulder. She scooted forward as quietly as she could, before peering through the vent cover.

“Well? What do you see?” Uji said impatiently.

“There is a large building across from the vent, approximately twenty feet away. It appears to have large bay doors, so it could be either a warehouse or a docking bay. Unfortunately, I cannot see much else.”

“Well, I don’t see any point in staying here,” Qyreia said.

“Agreed,” Uji said.

They reversed the process they had used to get into the vent. Lucine was lowered first; once she was one the ground, she utilized the Force to lower the rest of the team down. Once everyone was on the ground, Lucine replaced the vent, and they hurried into cover next to the building.


The vent had been a nice respite from the wind and sand, and the compound walls were thick enough to keep much of the heat out. Still, it was warm enough in the courtyard that ran alongside the inside of the walls to make the gray-furred Ryn uncomfortable. He leaned against the warm wall of the building and fought off a yawn. The adrenaline from the flight down, the dash through a sandstorm, and the ventilation fun were already starting to wear on the Proconsul.

This is why I do nae need ta be workin’ a desk job, gettin’ out o’ bleedin’ shape.

He twitched, his tail flicking in surprise and annoyance as he felt a Force driven contact in his mind. A glance at Uji showed the man’s eyes closed, face drawn in concentration.

“Maybe we waits till we find someplace we can stash ya, mate? Wee bit exposed yet.”

“Just throw his cloak over him and pile sand on top, they’ll never know he’s there,” spoke the merc, peering around the corner of the building.

“That’s a bit coarse, darling.”

“Really?” hissed Tameike, eyes opening and turning to glare at the trio. “Fine. Some place with climate control would be preferable. Kord?”

“Yeah yeah.”

The Ryn’s expression mirrored his friends look of concentration as he reached out with his senses, spreading his mental net wide. His brow furrowed, things weren’t right in the compound. They’d had some intel about the Collective having Force suppression tech of some kind, as unreal as that sounded. ‘Dark’ spots throughout his awareness might have accounted for that, bits of the compound he just couldn’t get a read on. Deadspace in the Force. He shivered.

He shook it off, focusing on life signatures and energy instead. Patrol routes wouldn’t be readily apparent to him unless he did this for an hour or so, and with their ship parked near the compound that seemed unwise. His ears perked up, and his tail lashed in triumph as he narrowed his search, certain he’d found –

“Ow!” he yelped as the redhead’s open palm struck the back of his head. “Tha’ frak was that for?”

She was glaring at him, her face almost as red as her hair.

“Your tail should learn some manners.”

“Oh. Yeah, it does that, sorry. More important, though, eh, think I know where we’re headed. They gots that suppresin’ tech stuff all over tha place, yeah? Bad scene, but there’s a big spot o’ it down below. Maybe thirty meters; my guess is anythin’ Force related, say, ancient Jedi or Sith stuff? Gonna be down there. We just, ya know, gotta find a way down. And stash Limpy here. And figure out how we’re gettin’ out when the alarms start.”

“Speaking of,” spoke up Qyreia, her hand gripping her boot knife. “We’ve got company coming.”

Kordath unsheathed his own dagger and palmed the stiletto in his left hand.

“Yeah, noticed them, sorry,” he mumbled and moved to back up the merc. “I sensed three, they got any droids?”

“No droids, just three schuttas in armor. With blasters. They get off a call or shot, and we’re gonna have a lot of company.”


The sandstorm kept them concealed for the time being, within the compound walls it provided some shelter from the worst of the storm though visibility remained minimal. The four of them took shelter behind various supplies and crates strapped down within the courtyard to withstand the high winds.

The patrol moved closer, their voices muffled by the hoods covering their features to block the sand and wind. They came to a halt within ten meters of the Arconans, close enough even with the storm the four began to worry. Uji considered their options for a moment and with a short hand signal to Qyreia and Kordath sent them flanking to each side, each of them had spent enough time in Galeres and with one another to recognize the signals used.

The Qel-Droman sat impatiently, her eyes watching as the Proconsul and Aedile slipped away until she felt the sharp tug of Uji drawing her closer. “Your dossier says you’re fully trained to make others see what they want to see, make them believe you found one of theirs and are bringing them in.”

Uji slumped against her, being held up by the smaller womans frame as he leaned on her. He could feel the touch of the Force as she melded the illusion before pulling him out from behind the crates towards the three guardsmen. “Hey! You three gonna stand around or give me a hand? He’s hurt, screwed up his leg or something” even Lucine’s voice was different, deeper, masculine and hidden by her abilities.

To the edges Kordath and Qyreia had managed to stay concealed, only beginning to move forward once the Technocrats attention was placed solely on the bait. Lucine made a show of lifting Uji back up onto his feet, the Quaestor of Galeres playing the part and dragging his leg with each step wincing and biting back a cry.

“What the frak happened?” Shouted one of the three as they came closer, each with their hands down on their weapons. Though Lucine’s illusion could portray them as what she imagined the Technocrats to look like, they were still two new faces. Lucine kept her hands visible as she laid the Quaestor down.

“Hey hey guys, it is fine, ease up yeah?” Her voice remained close to the same as she tried to be heard over the wind, cracking slightly as she concentrated on the three men, her concentration straining as she tried to bring a sense of ease to their minds while maintaining her’s and Uji’s appearance.

The three relaxed, coming to stand within a few meters of the two. Kordath and Qyreia flanking them, the normally jovial Proconsul moving with surprising grace as the stiletto flicked down into his hand, Qyreia’s boot knife was gripped firmly as she approached. Uji laid on the ground, ignored for the moment as he concentrated and within moments he could sense and feel the intention of each of his companions, their movements becoming coordinated as each took a last breath before springing into motion.

The guards were never given the chance to react. With smooth motion Qyreia and Kordath’s blades bit deep into the guardsmen’s throats just below their helmets, their gurgle cut off by the storm as Lucine’s fiery red hair replaced the illusion she’d held moments before. The Guardsmen’s look of surprise cut off as she closed the distance and with a smooth draw of her lightsaber ignited the blade and finished the man in a single stroke before deactivating it and hiding it from view.

Without speaking the three immediately grabbed the bodies and drug them out of sight. As they finished they felt the bond between them disappear as Uji coughed and sputtered on the ground, taking a deep breath as he lifted himself, placing his cane underneath him.

“Guess you aren’t useless after all” Qyreia quipped with a smile as she passed by him.


Qyreia scouted along the wall of the building while the others kept a wary eye out for any other guards. She came back a few minutes later to report that she had discovered a door that led into the nearest building.

“It’s got a security lock on it. Looks like it uses fingerprint identification,” the Zeltron said.

Uji cast a wry glance at the fallen guards. “Well, it is convenient that we encountered these guards when we did.”

They dragged the corpses until they found the door that Qyreia had discovered. After several minutes of awkward positioning, they managed to get one of the guards’ hands positioned on the lock.

The door slid open to reveal what appeared to be a warehouse. Numerous crates and boxes of varying sizes filled the room, arranged to create aisles to allow passage through it. Once the corpses were safely stashed away, the group spread out to search for a way down to the Force-suppressed area that Kordath had sensed. There was a large loading dock to the eastern end of the room, the durasteel door secured tightly against the wind and sand. A second door on the western wall led deeper into the complex. It was Qyreia who found the third door, nearly obscured by crates and fitted with a cyberlock.

“I’d say this is what we’re looking for, yeah?” Kordath said as they gathered around the Zeltron’s find.

“So it would appear,” Uji said dryly. “Any thoughts on how we will get past that lock?”

“Well, one of you could just cut it with your lightsaber,” Qyreia suggested.

“That would likely trigger an alarm,” Uji replied.

“As good fortune would have it, I did happen to buy a new toy before we left,” Lucine said as she pulled a Gyrda keypad from one of the pockets of her cloak. “It seemed like a handy thing to have.”

Kordath fought the urge to cringe at the small piece of technology in the redhead’s hands. The redhead was infamous for the mishaps that occurred when she tried to use any sort of technology. Though he had not experienced it first hand, he had heard enough stories of her antics; the memories made his tail twitch nervously. “And, uh, do ya know how ta use that thing, luv?”

“How hard could it be? You just stick the thing into the other thing,” Lucine replied with a toss of her hair.

“Yeeeah, how ‘bout if we let someone else give it a go, huh?” the Ryn suggested, before looking desperately at Uji and Qyreia. “Either ‘a ya know how ta use that thing?” When both the Zeltron and the Human shook their heads, Kordath’s tail drooped. “Just… ah… try not to set the place on fire, a’right?”

“Really, darling, your faith in me is heartwarming,” Lucine replied as she plugged the Gyrda keypad into the cyberlock. The device beeped three times, before the light on the lock turned green. When it became clear there was not going to be an explosion, the Ryn let out the breath he had been holding.

The door opened to reveal a stairwell descending into the depths of the base.

“So, what’s the plan?” Qyreia asked.


Kordath shrugged, “Go down, keep goin’ till we find tha stuff, eh? Hope we do nae run inta too many more of those blokes.” He gestured over his shoulder at the hidden bodies.

“Get in, quietly, steal the package and get out,” murmured Uji, eyes staring at nothing.

“You alright?” asked the Zeltron

“I believe he’s searching the future. His earlier attempts failed to convey the possibility of success. Perhaps things have changed?” The redhead lifted her eyebrows in question.

Bleu caught Uji’s look as the man came back to the moment, and it didn’t look confident. He didn’t think the others caught the flash of grim worry, and the Proconsul decided not to pass it along. They’d deal with it when they got there.

“Right, let’s go down tha scary stairs inta tha base o’ all tha folks tryin’ ta kill us!”

The stairs lead to a well-lit corridor, and the emptiness was disconcerting for the Ryn on point. Senses pushed to the limit as they crept along, and he twitched away from one side of the hallway from time to time.

“Dead spots,” he muttered. “Tis unnatural, it is, blockin’ out tha Force like that. How tha ‘ell are they doin’ it?”

“Rumor was some kind of technology,” spoke Uji.

Lucine scoffed, “I have never heard of any such technology.”

“Yeah, well, we find it, we’ll let ya put yer hands on it. Might blow it all up on accident, eh?”

Excuse me? I recall bypassing the door above without any issues, Bleu!”

“Do you people want to quiet the frak down.”

“Sorry, Qybbles.”

“Don’t call me that right now, Kord.”

The silence stretched out for several minutes as the group moved along, and the quartet began to get antsy.

“We should have run into someone by now.”

“Thought ya said quiet, Pinkie?”

“Shut up. Why haven’t we found any cross corridors? The passage just curves, but not enough for us to have gone in a circle, we’d have found where we started anyway.”

The Arconans glanced at one another warily.

“That is a bit worrying, yes. Does our fearless Scion have any insight? Or our Quaestor?” The flame-haired woman looked at the two men with an arched eyebrow.

Kord shrugged and leaned against the wall, closing his eyes and reaching out. In the middle of the hall, Uji lowered himself to the floor, eyeing it oddly as he settled.

“Tis dark up ahead, can nae pick up a blasted thing. Could be gettin’ close, but we shoulda gone down a flight or two o’ stairs ta get ta the room. Does nae make sense.”

The Quaestor let out a sigh from his resting place, rolling the tip of his cane across the metal plating. “We are going in a circle.”

“What? Nah, we’d have seen where we came in,” responded Kord, eyes opening to give his friend a look. It was the kind of glance that said ‘are you feeling okay?’

Uji pointed at the floor, “There’s a gradient, it’s subtle but its there. We’ve been going in a circle, but we’ve been headed down. If I had to venture a guess…”

“They’re waiting for us,” spoke Qyreia, her voice grim. The group exchanged glances again. “They’ve had to have noticed they lost a patrol by now. This is going to get loud.”

“Hope there’s another way out from down here, fighting our way back up would be suicide,” spoke the Quaestor, grimacing as he used his cane to push himself off the floor. “Dawdling will get us nowhere.”

The Arconans moved on, headed down the gently sloping surface. A few minutes passed before they found a blast door, wide and imposing. Qyreia turned, fishing out a Denton Charge and glancing over at Kordath, before pausing. Her eyes widened in concern as the Ryn slumped against the door, his features pale. A look towards the other two Force users showed them in a similarly uncomfortable state.

“Well, we’re bleedin’ blind, no Force here.”

“Oh no, how terrible,” muttered Qyreia, slapping the spherical charge to the blast door. She stepped away, pulling a frag grenade from her belt and un-slinging her rifle.

Kordath shook himself and blinked. He took a deep, shuddering breath and held his flash grenade up, nodding. Further back, Lucine drew her pistol, looking decidedly uncomfortable. Uji simply shrugged and backed away up the hall.

The breaching charge exploded, sending a blast of concussive force into the chamber beyond and tearing a man-sized hole in the blast door. Kordath tossed his primed flash grenade inside, ducking back and drawing his dagger as light and sound erupted from the breach.

Shouts of pain could be heard through the opening, and Qyreia’s addition of a fragmentation grenade briefly increased their volume. Bleu mentally counted to five and dived through, trying his best to avoid the tattered metal of the breach. Inside was a charnel house, smashed Technocrat soldiers painting the walls opposite of the blast door. Blood and limbs were scattered around the room, probably from the frag grenade. The Ryn dove for the nearest cover he could spot, as he saw several troopers struggling to stand and draw a bead on him. Red blaster fire flashed into the room through the blasted open door, scything one of them down.

The Proconsul scrambled around the edge of an upturned desk, makeshift cover that the troopers had set up in anticipation of an attack. Force-blind, Bleu wasn’t sure who was more surprised, him or the soldier clutching at his bleeding ears while hunkered down behind the cover. Kordath felt sickened as he put the man out of his misery. He hated this sort of fight; killing wasn’t something he was against, but he didn’t glorify in it. When he peeked over the edge of the desk, he could make out the muzzle of Qyreia’s A280C spitting death through the opening.

Another trooper fell, and the room grew quieter, other than the moans and cries of pain from the fallen defenders. The Arconans quickly, and with as little cruelty as possible, dispatched the wounded. Kordath stumbled to a nearby wall, noting the nearby door set in the wall. A cursory glance around the room showed it to be the only one.

At least they were nice enough ta set this place up simple like.

“Through there, I assume?” asked Uji.

“Wee bit o’ rest, maybe, mate?”

“I’m fine.”

“Yeah, that’ll happen when ya stay outta tha bleedin’ fight!”

“What was I to do, strike them with my cane?”

“Sarcasm, real helpful, mate.”

“Boys, you’re both pretty, and you’ll both have dates to the karking dance, can we please move on?” The Merc glared at the pair of them and gestured at the door.

“Locked,” muttered the Ryn, smacking the keypad.

"Well I can fix tha— " Lucine began to say, pulling her mobile keypad out before the sound of a lightsaber activating brought her up short. Uji’s brilliant white blade sliced around the edges of the door, a look of annoyance on the man’s face. The hatch fell away with a thud, and Kordath chuckled.

“See, ya can still be useful, eh, mate?” he said with a laugh, slapping his friend on the back while stepping through the door. He fell back with a cry of pain and surprise, a smoking hole in his side. A shot from Qyreia’s rifle rang out, dropping the Technocrat trooper hiding on the other side. “Fr-frak that hurt,” gasped the Ryn, clutching at his side.

“I’ll see to the fluffy idiot, you two check the room,” said the Merc with a sigh, pulling the medpac from her belt.

“Be gentle,” was the last thing Uji heard as he limped through the door, followed closely by Lucine. The pair stared in confusion at the contents of the room.

It was large and circular, with a large table in the center. Stacked among the table were innumerable scrolls. Large ones, at that, some three feet in width.

“We intended to leave with these?”

“I did say it was impossible to succeed on this mission, did I not?”


“A few more details may have been helpful.”

“Must I instruct you in the ways of the Force, Vasano? Or can we do what we came here to do?” Uji’s irritation was beginning to grow into a growing sense of worry. Despite his best efforts, he had been unable to foresee past this point in time. His visions had been unclear as to what came next. Continuing towards the scrolls, his inability to touch the Force forced him to take his time as he expected there would be traps within the room.

Lucine ignored the snappy remark and did the same. The interior of the chamber was lit by iridescent lighting, the room itself was stark and clearly designed as a storage vault. The two Arconans made their way forward, Uji’s hand never straying far from his saber as he leaned on his cane, Lucine’s grip on her Westar-34 tight and prepared.

When they reached the pedestal holding the scrolls, it didn’t take but a moment for Lucine to draw her datapad and move to begin snapping images. The Qel-Droman knew the value of these scrolls and what they could mean for Arcona. Uji’s hiss of disapproval stopped her short.

“What? If we are going to destroy them we may as well get the value of the information for ourselves.”

“And make ourselves the next target of the Brotherhood’s ire? Any Clan who walks away with these scrolls or the information within them, even a portion of it, will be embroiled in constant conflict. No, we destroy them”
“You are kidding me” The woman hadn’t particularly cared for the former Proconsul-turned-Quaestor to begin with, even less so when he was willing to deprive them of a significant payday. Uji’s stern look of disapproval likely worked quite well on his subordinates, but Shadow Gate’s battleteam leader had seen worse. She knew the Quaestor’s bark was worse than his bite.

“Return to the Proconsul and retrieve something we can use to destroy these things, be quick about it.” Uji waved her off with his cane.


Beyond the doorway, the Ryn was grunting with apparent discomfort while Qyreia worked through her medical supplies. “Could nae be a bit gentler, luv?”

“The bacta patch isn’t sticking well to your fur, hair, or whatever it is, so I need to make sure this bandage is tight so it’ll stay on there.”

“Your bedside manner is crap too,” he joked.

That got a grin from the merc. “I just know enough to patch you up. Be happy you don’t need surgery or anything.”

I am, he thought as his eyes spied Lucine returning to their patch of floor. “What’s the situation, lass?”

“Uji requires something to light a fire.”

The Zeltron’s knot-tying punctuated harshly at that. “Why?”

“He means ta destroy tha thing,” Kordath said more stoically than any of them were used to. He fumbled briefly through his jacket and tossed a lighter to the redhead. “There. Make sure I get it back.” Lucine offered a quick nod before returning to the older Force user, leaving the two alone again. “May not have the Force on hand, Red, but I can tell somethin’s botherin’ ya.”

“Thought the mission was to bring these artifacts back with us.”

“Plans change,” he sighed. “If Uji’s thinking they need to be destroyed, ‘m pretty sure it’s for good reason. I honestly dinnae care one way or another.”

Qyreia’s tongue clicked, clearly trying to figure out how she felt about the situation. So long as it’s not in Collective hands, I guess it’s mission complete regardless. With a little motivation, and some mild painkillers, she got the Proconsul back on his feet and helped him along into the next room where Uji was already applying the flame to the scrolls and books. The old, dried papers caught quickly and brightly, bringing a yellow-orange glow to the already lit room, the warm light dancing across the shadows of their downturned faces.

“What a waste,” Lucine said to no one in particular.

The other two Force users kept a silent watch as the other Plagueian articles were consumed in the growing pile of ash. The Zeltron however, looking back at the bodies, found her blood was up just a little bit. Moving off to the side, the group initially ignored her actions. That was, until she threw on some ancient wooden totem and an armful of other artifacts.

“The hell’re ya doin’, Q?”

“Frack these choob-lickers,” she said somewhat angrily. “Burn it all.”

“We do not have that sort of time,” Uji replied tiredly, as though the antics of his teammates were wearing on him. “The documents we came to destroy are nearly all consumed. We should leave before reinforcements arrive.”

Qyreia threw more priceless items into the conflagration though, tearing books apart and letting the flames spread further across the floor to items too heavy for her to move. They say they’re fighting for a cause… How many damn credits did they spend on this crap? Some cause. It’s all about power. It’s always about power and wealth and who has the bigger pocket rocket. She was about to throw on an armful of some partially worm-eaten series of treatises down when Uji grabbed her arm.

“That’s enough.” His voice was calm, neither pleading nor commanding. The red woman was halfway to conceding when they heard a noise back in the direction they’d come from. “What was…” but Qyreia had already dropped the books — landing conveniently in the fire — and turned to face the threat. Of course.

The Zeltron was already in cover, the others moving at their own paces to take positions against the wall. Peering out carefully revealed a squad of Technocrats combing the wreckage of the quartet’s earlier battle. They did not seem pleased by the results. Kordath was halfway to whispering something about proceeding with caution, but the mercenary next to him stiffened on hearing the phrase “call this up” from the Collective troops. In a heartbeat, she leaned out from the door and went to work.

The ones keying the comms were the first targets. They needed to be silenced before anything could reach their superiors. One down, then a second, before the enemy could fully process they were under attack. A third fell in quick succession.

Lucine, opposite the Zeltron against the door, leaned out and joined the fray. The combat felt foreign to her, and it likely looked a bit strange for the other Force users present. They all felt that need to strike out with that familiar arm that had so conveniently detached itself from them, and it was more than a little frustrating that they didn’t know how to counter it, or what the source even was.

“You go left,” Qyreia barked over the cacophony of fire, “and I’ll go right! Move!”

Elsewhere in the Compound…

“What is happening, Chief Oligard?” Kerwin Drake watched the subterranean battle on the surveillance feeds alongside Guild Master Mouk. It was a marvel that these creatures had managed to make their way inside the compound. It was somewhat troublesome that Avitus Oligard, Chief Counsel to the unifying Rath, had come on a surprise visit. The Ithorian at his side seemed less perturbed, but Mouk had a way of making everything seem like it was part of his plan all along, though he had slumped somewhat at seeing his artifacts so recklessly destroyed.

“Perhaps you should tell me,” Avitus replied curtly. “I see a handful of Brotherhood spies that have made their way inside your perimeter. Do you not have countermeasures for this?”

“We do,” Mouk injected, “though perhaps you might provide us with some insight.” His eyes narrowed at the screen. “I want them alive.”

Oligard didn’t need the Force to tell him what was going to happen — what he called a “gut feeling” around others within the Collective. The intruders would have to come back the way they came. There were very few alternatives on that regard. What would help his comrades-in-arms was his ability to keep the interlopers from calling upon the Force for their own ends. Some of the more prideful warriors within the organization might call it an unfair fight, but that was not the point. The point was to win, and he aimed to do just that.

Besides, none of them had complained when he had a gut feeling that there was danger on Nancora, or that he felt the need to visit Mouk’s compound. No, they’ll just add this to the list of things that I’ve gotten right, and they’ll watch over their shoulders all the more.

Returning to our “heroes”…

“Holy brackballs, that was a rough one. Shoulda saved that grenade.”

“Aye, probably shoulda done that.”

“At any rate,” Uji said with apparent concern, “the alarm is clearly raised. We need to leave.”

There wasn’t much room to argue. With a final check to make sure they didn’t have any new holes to their anatomy, the Arconans made quick pace up the ramp, Qyreia and Lucine leading the way against ever-increasing patrols. The close confines made any numerical superiority useless. However, the Collective wasn’t without a few tricks.

“An electro-fence?!” Qyreia yelled in anger, shooting through the gaps to fend off an incoming band of Technocrats. “Are you kriffing serious?!”

Uji shrugged in his adopted meditative stance. “Intelligence did suggest…”

Frack intel! Shoulda saved ourselves some trouble and blown this schutta from orbit!” She looked over her shoulder while Lucine picked up the slack. “Kord, you got anything up your sleeve? I know these other two don’t have jack.”

“How do you know that?” Lucine yelled between shots.

“Have you seen your dress?”

Lucine paused her barrage. “…Fair enough.”

“What’re you thinkin’, Red?”

“There’s a terminal just past the barrier.” She pointed to the wall-mounted interface. “Need a way to hack it. Dunno if blowing it up will work, but the angle is just outside of what I can manage.”

He grinned. “Been saving this,” he mumbled, opening up his jacket to reveal the little ID9 droid he called Skitters. “Wake up buddy.” The droid jolted to life and eyed the Ryn carefully. “Don’ look at me like that. I did nae want tha ladies seein’ ya about.”

That seemed to appease the droid and it hopped down from its master’s side, skittering forward to receive its mission from the Zeltron. The little droid seemed fearless, if only because it might not have had very good self-preservation coding. In either case, amidst the fury of traded blaster bolts, Skitters leapt up from the floor onto the console where it attached its probe module and went to work. The seconds passed by agonizingly slow as the little droid struggled to get by the sophisticated security protocols, but it managed eventually.

“Good boy, Skitters!” Kordath cheered as the energy field deactivated.

No time to celebrate. In quick order, they surged up and up, narrowly avoiding injury as they killed their Collective opponents. As much training as they received in fighting Force users, they were les efficient in a traditional battle. The engagements were by no means easy, and it became very apparent that these were delaying actions. For what, though, was anyone’s guess.

That is, until they reached ground level.

Collective troops surrounded the door in carefully arrayed, if hasty, battle positions. Among their number were some of the bigger names of the organization that even had their own intelligence dossiers. Clearly, they’d walked into a trap.

“Well crap.”

“How’re we getting out?” Kord looked at Qyreia. “And no, still no Force to help.”

“Thanks.” She looked around carefully. Their leaders were saying something, but between the wind and her level of give-a-frack, she couldn’t hear what it was about. “Okay. Gonna run-and-gun at the right side of this group.” She pointed out the direction for clarity. “Gonna be a mad dash, but I think we can make it. Should surprise them well enough.”

“This is madness,” Uji intoned. “We should surrender and come up with a different strategy for escape.”

“I’d rather escape now, thanks.”

“Myself as well,” Lucine added, smiling at the Zeltron.

Here goes nothing. Laying down a withering fire between herself and the pistoleer Sith, Qyreia ran full-tilt at the concentrated formation she had indicated. More than a few fell in the onslaught, albeit amidst a furious return of fire. The distance was short though, and the two fleet footed women managed to breach the gap with a handful of scratches and grazing marks from the Technocrat weapons. Kordath, however, had paused to help the struggling Uji. Unfortunately, this left them exposed and… rather captured.

“Kord! Uji!” The merc turned about entirely once she realized what was happening, but Lucine pulled her back, blaster fire raging through the air all around them. “I’m not leaving without them!”

“We have no choice! You cannot shoot that fast! Come on!”

The Ryn and human both could see their friend’s troubled face as she turned for their escape route, back through the vent through which they’d come. Q will be makin’ Lucine sweat, Kord thought with a chuckle. Surrounded, both he and Uji put their hands up in surrender.

Even with all of their training to face Force users, the enemy troops remained largely in place. Several long minutes were spent just listening to the howling wind. Messengers and comms were going wild as the fugitive pair were gradually lost amidst the winding structures and paths of the compound.

Avitus was confused. “What are you waiting for, Guild Master? You’ve already lost two of them, clearly.”

Mouk felt the slight, but remained outwardly stoic. “Not yet. I am awaiting reports of their friends.”

“If I may,” Drake said, a little impatient by this point, “I will go and take these two into custody myself.”

“Please do,” the Oligard cousin said, bypassing the Technocrat leader’s authority.

I won’t forget that, Chief Counsel. Still, he assented with a superficial nod as his Field Commander began making his way through the assemblage of troops. Densely packed as they were, even the well-trained troops had difficulty getting out of his way, to say nothing for the bodyguard that followed him. For his part, Avitus was doing everything he could to suppress the Force users’ abilities. All his focus was on achieving this goal. The irony that he was also a Force user, amidst the oppressive Collective, was not lost on him, and it wrenched his insides like a lifelong flu; always fighting it, but never rid of the discomfort.

“Throw down your weapons,” Drake called out as he reached the formation’s edge.

“I’ve got a droid. Nae any harm, but he’s kinda attached.”

Drake nodded and Skitters came slowly down from Kordath’s back, followed closely by the equipment the two men carried with them, landing in the dust with a dull thud.

“Well lad,” the Proconsul said to his compatriot, “seems we’re goin’ back into a cell, eh?”

“It would seem like that.” He shook his head. “I will admit, I did not see that last maneuver coming. At least I was partly wrong.”

With the two Force users disarmed, Drake motioned for his troops to secure them. Four stepped forward — two to shackle, two for security — and made their way across the hard-packed dust of the open space. The wind roared with an exceptional violence, almost with a whistling quality to it, and it made at least a few people pause.

“Y’hear that?”

“Yes, but the wind speed has not increased.”

The whistling roar grew louder, but the troops decided to ignore it and continued walking toward their prisoners. A shadow appeared in the dust-filled sky, faint against the cloudy grit, but it grew rapidly along with the sound that clearly was that of ship engines; the whistle that of the wind raging around the frame of the Bleusmobile. Kordath’s smile couldn’t have been bigger as the ship careened mere meters over the perimeter wall and made the hardest landing he’d ever seen, the struts tearing through the perimeter troops and crushing the arresting party entirely.

On the ramp, Lucine was seen panting and screaming at them. “Get on! Now!”

“Well,” the Ryn quipped, “when a pretty lady says something like that.” He grinned, grabbing his and Uji’s effects. “Let’s go!”

Engines roared, thrusters heating the already unbearably hot air, as the active stealth system fought to stay that way. It was the only way Qyreia had managed to take the ship through the storm-crippled defenses. As soon as her redheaded compatriot called over the internal comms, she set the fragile ship on a course away from the structure as fast as she could. Keeping it low, she followed the wind, letting it add speed to the slow vessel’s stealth-inhibited velocity.

Once free of the guns, it was back to normal flight. Back out of the atmosphere. And no one left behind. Eat it, Uji’s predictions.