Nancora Prime, Technocratic Guild Compound
With one man down, the team had to rethink their strategies. Zul contemplated on his next course of action. He pulled his data pad out and studied it again, before briskly swiping his hand across the screen, pulling up the map of the area on a holographic projection.
Darkness crept over the team while they deliberated, as dusk neared nightfall. Zul looked up, not squinting at the sun any more. “We have less than an hour ‘till total darkness,” he said, stating the obvious. “I don’t suppose anyone has night vision goggles do they?” Crackles of lightning through thunderous roars could be heard in distance. “Never mind then,” he said smirking.
The winds in the badlands began to pick up due to the incoming storm. Zul’s droid communicator chirped. To the average ear, most would only hear whirls, whips and whistles. Zul understood his BT - 16 quite well, and he knew that it was jabbering on about the incoming storm and the seismic activity with it.
Constantine looked to Zul in anticipation of what the droid was telling him. Zul explained to both Constantine and Plaid that not only was there a storm, but it was big enough to cause tremors. “This could work to our advantage.” informed Plaid. “This is just the break we needed for cover. Not to mention, three force users in this storm could cause some serious damage were they able to enhance its effects in anyway.” Plaid continued.
Zul and Constantine listened to what Plaid had to say. While deep in conversation Zul looked around at the landscape. Taking note of destroyed weathered buildings that were filled with sand and made of most of the badlands.
Zul interrupted the conversation, “I can add lighting to the storm. We can take cover over there.” Zul pointed beyond the current dune. Looking down at his data pad in confirmation of what he was saying. “There is an old structure that would give us good protection from the incoming sands and weather.”
Constantine interrupted saying “Talk and walk fellas’, talk and walk. Those sandstorms coming in will do us in before this mission starts.”
Zul’s communicator chirped again, reminding him to set it to vibrate as to not give away their position when they get closer. “Go ahead BT,” said Zul. A few chirps and whirls later, the BT -16 unit alerted the team to the on coming scouting party. “Keep outta sight BT, and keep me posted let me know when they are at least 15 meters from our position.” Zul ordered.
Dusk no longer, nightfall was here. The winds of the dunes turned from gentle breeze to hot, stinging sand. It could even be felt through the heavy cloaks of the Jedi . Plaid moved his robes around constantly complaining that the sand was everywhere and even in places that it didn’t belong.
“I don’t know how these people can live out here. It’ll take me a week to get all this out of my gear let alone make me feel clean again.” commented Plaid.
As if on queue, Zul and Constantine covered up more tightly. Walking through sand dunes was bad enough and on top of it the storm made it all the more uncomfortable for everyone.
“Has anyone heard from the Major?” Zul asked questioningly.
“Yes, he was able to find cover.” said Constantine. “I took out his communicator and handed it to him. He will be keeping us posted on anything he finds out.” Constantine said seeing his breath for the first time in the eve in the open desert.
“The wind is picking up and it’s getting much colder now!” said Constantine. “How much farther till that dune?”
Zul replied, “Just over there.” quickly pointing. Trying to be careful as to not fall and get consumed by the desert in the process.
It wasn’t before long that the three arrived at the dune in question. Zul looked down at his data pad. “The entrance is here.” Zul pointed over the crest of the spire.
“The storm is nearly here.” Plaid pointed out. The howling wind was getting louder by the second. Whirls of wind and silt sprayed over the dune. Whistles as loud as a locomotive could be heard for some distance.
Rounding the dune they located the entrance to the structure. It was skeletal, most of the walls were eroded with time. The elements were not kind in the badlands. Not much of anything as a permanent structure remained here for long.
“Zul, does that pad of yours tell you what this building is?” Questioned Constantine, shouting over the loud winds.
“In fact-” Zul began to shout and was cut off abruptly by Plaid.
“DUCK, Incoming!” he screamed. The team dived for cover.
The ground shook from what they could only discern as a grenade type object. The sandstorm was too violent at this point. Red bolts of blaster fire could be seen piercing the veil of the storm.
“BT - 16, I told you to alert me when they were within 15 meters.” Zul shouted into the comms.
BT-16 replied back with an I did. Zul realized that putting his communicator on vibrate didn’t help while in the storm.
Stuck in a rock and a hard place Zul rose from cover with fierce vigor. Howling winds and stinging sand seemed to not have an affect on him. Like a wild animal ready to attack, Zul raised his arms above his head. He began to weave them about in a mesmerizing way. His hands began to glow in a symphony of glorious translucent purple light. “It’s time to go, into the building now!” Ordered Zul, having creating a barrier between his team and their opponents with is weaving.
Without delay they entered the hole riddled building. With the barrier preventing the attackers from harming them any further for the time being it also protected them from the elements of the storm. Visibility was much clearer and with the luminescence of the purple hue they had a good bit of lighting to guide them.
Zul concentrated further, becoming immensely still. The glow of the barrier became brighter but was no longer translucent.
“What did you do?” inquired Plaid.
“I made it pitch black out there. They won’t be able to follow us for a good five minutes if at all. Best we make use of that time.”
“Some good that’ll do us,” quipped Constantine.
“On the contrary,” answered Zul, “they drove us into the best place possible. To answer your previous question, they pushed us into a subway of sorts. According to the data pad, it leads directly under the compound.”
“And, with the storm and darkness, they are as good as dead out there,” Constantine noted.
“Correct. Let’s hope there is one less group to deal with,” continued Zul. Now for the bad news. I lost my droid. He’s buried in sand. And now for even worse news. We’re going to have to do a frontal assault in the tunnel below. Ideas, anyone?” Zul said, joining the rest of the group, and walking to the center of the ruined structure.
“Over here!” Plaid shouted, pointing down to the stairs leading down into a deep dark access tunnel. Plaid let go of the material covering the entrance from view, resulting in a loud thud. “My guess? They used this frequently. If so, there has got to be lighting somewhere. He looked around and shuffled some things before continuing. “Got it!” He lit a torch he had found, and handed Zul and Constantine torches of their own.
With a well illuminated stairwell and tunnel, the three were able to see for some distance with the powerful luminescence of the torches. Plaid turned and covered the opening again, just in time for the hue of the barrier to fade from view, leaving only total darkness and high winds. With a slam and a thud, the sheet metal door sealed them in, allowing only small gusts of sandy breeze in the tunnel.
Making their way further into the tunnels, the three felt a coolness come over them and a slight humid breeze. “My guess,” started Constantine, “We’re deep enough to feel the cooling effects of the earth above, and the wind is from the storm.”
“Not to mention the air duct system,” Plaid said, speaking matter of factly.
“How did you come to that conclusion?” Zul asked. Plaid shined his light above his head while walking down the tunnel with the others.
“Because there’s an air duct system.” Zul looked up to see a fan moving gently, circulating the air quietly. He remained silent.
“Wait!” Plaid said.
“I feel it too!” Replied Zul. With lots of finger pointing gestures, Plaid, Zul and Constantine were able to communicate the fact there was a patrol coming near, and they needed to take cover against the walls.
“I have an idea,” said Plaid. “I need you two to shut off your lights; I need you both in total darkness for this to work. I plan on scaring the snot out of these guys, and then we can dispatch them when they are ready to turn and run.”
The Zabrak was pleased that he would finally get a chance to embrace his Sith Heritage. He beamed a smile at Constantine and Zul only to see them fade into a shadow, and then he could not see them at all. “I need to learn that trick,” He said to himself.
Plaid turned his torch onto the strobe setting and began to walk forward a few feet, before setting his torch down on the ground, facing the oncoming patrol. He then ran back into position and pulled out his lightsaber, ready to ignite it.
“Whaas at about erh?” said one of the patrol men. As he moved closer to the strobing torch light.
“On yer guard, you knuckle heads!” exclaimed another, tightening the grip on his weapon.
Plaid stood, impatiently waiting for them to only come a few feet closer.
One of the patrol men bent down to pick up the strobing torch light, and turning it off. Then, he looked up in front of him. His night vision goggles worked exceptionally well in the darkness - in fact, they were standard issue for tunnel duty, the only bad thing about them being that they did not respond well with flashes of light. It would blinding to the sensors making it nearly impossible to see.
After several moments, the two-man patrol was able to regain their night vision just in time to see a Zabrak, standing right in front of them. His teeth were showing as his wry grin widened in pleasure.
With a crisp snap, and a short hiss, Plaid’s red-bladed lightsaber came to life. He yelled intensely, raising his arms wide and leaning forward like a screaming eagle at its prey. Zul and Constantine watched behind their cloaks as the two patrolmen stood in complete and utter fear.
Taking this as a queue, Zul drew out his two light sabers, Justice and Right Hand. With a snapping hiss, they too came to life. Green and Blue lights came out of thin air, only amplifying the terror the patrolmen already faced.
Joining in on the efforts Constantine ignited his saber with a crackling shutter, revealing his blue blade.
Sheer horror fell over the two guards. Neither spoke, only trembled at the site of glowing swords and a vicious Zabrak. The night vision gear blinded the patrol men, amplifying their horror. Ripping the goggles off of their heads, they came face to face with four lightsaber blades.
They never stood a chance. The last thing they heard was the cruel laughter of the Zabrak.
Plaid stood in amusement. “That was fun! Let’s keep moving.” He bent down, picking up his torch and the two goggles. “Zul, here are the goggles you asked for earlier; you want this one?” he asked Constantine.
“I’ll take it.” Plaid tossed the set to Constantine, and they continued.
The three came to junction. One tunnel left and the other right. Zul pulled out his pad, fiddled around for a little bit, and then pointed to the left. “That leads us to main hub.”
After what seemed like hours of walking, the group finally arrived at the hub. They could see lights on in the distance. Plaid and Constantine removed their goggles.
Zul concentrated on the voices, and looked around at the hub ahead. His eyes and ears zeroed in on the movement. He could see Junkers equipment in cages. He continued to look around, and he noticed the first objective. The lost scrolls of Darth Plagueis were setting on a nearby table. Zul continued to look around, seeing seven footsoldiers in total. He spotted some gnarly looking dog-like creatures and then something really caught his attention.
“It’s the Major!” Zul exclaimed. “I saw the Major. He was in shackles, chained to a chair and being interrogated by the Devaronian, Kerwin Drake.
Major Kharoc’s screams echoed the tunnel. A female’s laughter could be heard, the sick, twisted sound of satisfaction bouncing off the walls and through the hub.