Joint Operations Center (JOC)
Jedi Command Temporary Headquarters, Menant Ombo, New Tython
Eighteen Hours Later
The Knight-Commander stared at the massive wall monitor containing the map of Kamuekiko. Nothing unusual on the situation map or in the intelligence reports. Perhaps the DIA intelligence was wrong. Turel stroked his chin deep in thought amongst the bustle of the routine JOC activity.
None of this made any sense. Why would Sight have come to him with this information? Surely the old Ooroo commander still had some contacts left in the Odan-Urr Sentinel network he could have fed this intelligence to. Somehow, Turel had ended up on the DIA’s radar and he had a pretty good idea who was responsible: Teroch Erinos Arconae. Was this some kind of test to see how he’d handle the intel? To see if he could be discrete? Turel could sort out the cloak and dagger intrigue later, for now he had to determine if there was any validity to the intelligence his former comrade-in-arms had provided him. The prospect of an impending One Sith invasion of New Tython could not be ignored.
Turel’s thoughts were interrupted by the approach of Revak Kur, the current Ooroo commander, “Hey Turel, you asked for me?”
“Yeah, I had an intel question for you.”
“Are you tracking any strange activity on Kamuekiko through the Sentinel network?”
“Kamuekiko, that’s Tribal Alliance territory. Not to my knowledge. What does the intel report say?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary.”
The Sentinel stared at Turel for moment, slightly confused, “Why do you ask? Is there something strange I should be tracking?”
Turel hesitated for a moment, throwing up his best Pazaak face. If he flat out told Revak, or anyone in Odan-Urr for that matter, where he got the intelligence from, it would lead to some uncomfortable questions on why he had recurring contact with Arconans. It was probably best to play this one close to the chest, “Local security forces, um, got a tip about a possible smuggling base in the southern region of Kamuekiko.”
Revak stood slightly perplexed as to why the Knight-Commander was acting so strange, “Okay. This seems like a law enforcement issue, but I’ll keep my ear to the ground.” The Sentinel commander turned to leave.
“Wait.” Turel had to know if there were One Sith on New Tython or not. Simply keeping an ear to the ground wasn’t good enough. “Is there any way you can get a scan of the southern tundra region, you know, for any unusual thermal readings?”
Revak sighed. “I suppose I could divert a reconnaissance flight over the continent.” Turel’s face lit up. Revak continued, “as a personal favor. Are the Knights really that hard up for a mission?”
Perfect. “Uh, yes! That’s it. I’d really like a real world mission for the team to shake some of the rust off. Kamuekiko is perfect for harsh environment training.”
“Right. Well I’ll head over to the air desk and get a recon flight re-missioned. We should know something in a few hours.”
“Thanks Revak! I owe you one.”
“Whatever man.” The Sentinel gave a dismissive wave as he headed across the JOC to the air desk.
12 Hours Later
Turel returned to the JOC after the recon flight’s scheduled debriefing time was complete. He was anxious to see if the flight found anything. The Jedi hoped the DIA intelligence was wrong.
Revak rushed up to Turel as soon as he entered the JOC floor, “I’ve been looking for you. Turns out your little security forces tip was right on. There’s definitely somebody operating in the tundra region that doesn’t want to be found.” Revak handed Turel a datapad with the reconnaissance data. “We would have missed it if the analyst hadn’t been specifically combing the data for thermal irregularities.”
Turel felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. This was one case he wanted to be wrong. “What do you think is there?”
“A small outpost perhaps. If you look at the thermal readouts here, there is evidence of active camouflage measures. Whatever it is, it’s big and someone has gone through great lengths to hide it.”
“Big enough for a landing pad?”
The mission planning wheels had already started spinning in the Knight-Commander’s mind, “Can we get another recon flight? Close enough for a visual of the compound? We’ll need to know how many men they have and what kind of defenses they have.”
Revak sighed as he knew his answer would disappoint Turel, “I can get the orbital defenses to focus on the flight lanes in and out of that area, but a closer recon flight is simply too dangerous. If this is indeed a smuggler base, which is very likely, they probably have tight air defenses.”
The Knight-Commander was undaunted, “I’ll call the Colonial Alliance, there’s a platoon of rangers in the Ducks that specialize in winter warfare. I can take some of the Knights with them on a ground recon mission.”
Revak shook his head, Turel just wasn’t getting it, “You have a bigger problem. Southern Kamuekiko is Tribal Alliance territory with a pretty isolationist tribe down there. They aren’t going to be terribly happy about Jedi and Colonial military forces conducting operations in their backyard.”
“I thought there were Mon Calamari settlements in southern Kamuekiko?”
Revak pointed to the map on the wall monitor, “Yeah, here in the western isles. The tundra region is further south, down here, to the east. Smack in Tribal Alliance territory. You can’t just launch a ground mission down there. You’re going to have to take this to Liam.”
Turel was afraid Revak would say that.
High Councilor’s Office
Jedi Command Temporary Headquarters, Menat Ombo, New Tython
2 Hours Later
The elderly Quaestor stroked his beard thoughtfully as he reviewed the datapad at his desk. Two of his Battle Team Leaders, Turel Sorenn of the Knights of Allusis and Revak Kur of Strike Team Ooroo stood on the other side of the desk waiting for his reaction to the information on the datapad. Liam set the datapad down and took a leisurely sip from his mug of hot tea before speaking, “Smugglers operating out of the tribal areas. If this is indeed true, this is very disturbing.”
You don’t know the half of it. Turel thought as he waited for Liam to finish.
“I will bring this to Whenua’s attention when he returns from the northern tribes in two weeks. Once he’s able to convene the Tribal Council, we should be able to chart a way forward for securing the tribal areas from outside criminal activity. Excellent work, gentlemen.”
Two weeks! The One Sith could smuggle a full invasion force on to the surface in two weeks! Turel knew he had to act quickly. He was certain the hidden outpost was One Sith, he just couldn’t tell Liam why he was certain. He needed proof. “I could put together a small ground reconnaissance mission to verify the data. I wouldn’t take more than a platoon of rangers and a few of the Knights of Allusis. Just so the Tribal Council can make an informed decision.”
“I appreciate your enthusiasm Turel, but the Tribal Alliance is a sovereign nation under the Treaty and we simply cannot conduct military operations in their territory without their consent.”
“But Master Liam, the tundra regions are unihabited as far as we know and we’d take care to avoid any Harakoan settlements.” Turel kept the habit of addressing senior Jedi as “Master” from his days as a Padawan even though none of the Odanite Jedi held the official rank of Jedi Master. It was, for Turel, a sign of respect given only to a few.
The Quaestor’s gaze narrowed on the Knight. Turel suddenly felt like a small child who had pushed an issue one step too far with a stern father. Liam’s normal grandfatherly tone hardened with gravitas and authority as he spoke, “There will be no military operations in Tribal Alliance territory until I have a chance to consult with Whenua and the council. Do I make myself clear?”
Turel stiffed his stance like a soldier going to attention, “Yes Master.”
Liam’s grandfatherly tone returned, “Very good then. The matter is settled until we receive word from Whenua on the council’s decision. Revak will ensure that our space assets maintain surveillance on the site for orbital traffic and we will reconvene when there is a change. Good day gentlemen.”
Revak approached Turel after the pair left Liam’s office, “Sorry man, looks like your mission is going to have to wait.”
“Yes, it certainly appears that way.”
Menat Ombo, New Tython
Several Hours Later
Turel lay on the couch in his sparsely furnished, Spartan apartment, staring at the ceiling. He had moved in weeks ago, but he had few possessions from before the war and hadn’t really had time to go furniture shopping after the war. The Knight’s mind was racing with questions and possibilities. Why didn’t he just tell Liam about the Arconan intelligence? Why couldn’t he just wait until he got authorization for a mission? Why was he still pretending to do things the Jedi way when this situation called for decisive action?
Turel knew that telling anyone about the Arconan intelligence wasn’t an option, especially now. It wouldn’t change much at this point and besides subjecting himself to strict scrutiny, it would probably foreclose any further intelligence flowing from that channel. He had to keep this off the books. The DIA had reached out to him for a reason and Turel wasn’t about to slap their hand away by exposing their role in acquiring the information. That intelligence back channel had to stay open, even if it had been opened because of some ulterior motive on Teroch’s part. Or perhaps Teroch had nothing to do with it and this was simply Sight looking out for his old House. All this spy intrigue gave Turel a headache.
What was clear was that this situation required quick action and action is something Turel understood very well. If Liam and the niceties of Tythonian politics wouldn’t allow Turel to act officially then he would have to act on his own. The world was at stake after all. He also knew he couldn’t do this alone. He needed people he could trust. Turel couldn’t just mobilize his team, as he was violating a direct order from Liam. Well, the spirit of the order if not the letter. He couldn’t put his team in that position, at least not the whole team.
The barrage of Turel’s thoughts was interrupted by a knock at his front door. It was Edgar Drachen, his second in command and long time friend. Turel opened the door, “Hey man, glad you could come over on short notice.”
Edgar walked straight to Turel’s kitchen, making himself right at home, “You really need to decorate this place man. How are we supposed to get you a girlfriend when you live in a depressing dump like this?”
“Girlfriend? Aren’t we supposed to be Jedi?” Turel jokingly inquired.
Edgar laughed, “Sure, you didn’t seem too worried about the Jedi code when Aerin was around.” Turel’s ‘interest’ in Aerin, his Zeltron former teammate, was public knowledge and very much old news. She had left Odan-Urr and New Tython after the war without so much as a goodbye note and Turel was thoroughly over the whole thing.
“Yeah well maybe I turned to religion to heal my broken heart.” Turel couldn’t keep a straight face and cracked up at his own joke.
Edgar poured Turel and himself glasses of Corellian ale from Turel’s kitchen. “You, turning to religion? Right. No maybe you found love somewhere else. Like on the battlefield.” Edgar elbowed Turel in the ribs as he handed him a glass of ale. “What was that handsome young Arconan’s name you talk about so much? You know, the one who kicked your butt on Bergeren?”
Turel’s face turned bright red. “It’s not like that! I’m not like that!”
Edgar took a step back with a legitimately shocked expression on his face. He hadn’t expected to strike a nerve with that passing joke, “Hey man, no judgment here. Whatever makes you happy. If you want to experiment a little, switch sides, have a secret Dark Side boyfriend it’s fine by me. Less competition for the ladies.” Edgar took a large gulp of his ale.
Turel rolled his eyes, desperate to change the subject, “Whatever man. Look I asked you here because I need to ask a huge favor from you. I need your help on a mission.”
“That’s kind of my job, we’re on a team together, remember?”
“No, this is for an unsanctioned mission.”
"Oh. What’s going on? You’re not going back into organized crime are you? Didn’t we just break out of prison?”
“Very funny, no, nothing like that.” Turel handed Edgar a datapad. “There is a hidden outpost in the tundra region of Kamuekiko. We can’t launch an official mission because it’s in Tribal Alliance territory and we need their blessing.”
“So why not just wait for official permission, what’s at this base? Smugglers? They clearly aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
“That’s the problem. There is a lot more going on here than smugglers, this could be a major threat to New Tython, I just have to prove it. That’s why I need your help to do a recon mission.”
Edgar looked skeptical, “What makes you so sure?”
Turel sighed. “You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.”
“I hate it when you say that. But if you’re going on some kind of black op, you know I’ve got your back.”
“I have to let you know that I’m violating a direct order from Liam.”
“Since when has that ever stopped us. Besides, what’s he going to do? Throw us in prison? Mirus is going to want to come too.”
“I’d appreciate it if you kept this whole thing quiet.”
“It’s not going to stay quiet, and you know Mirus will get upset if he finds out we went on a black op without him.”
“Fine. We’ll bring Mirus in on this too.”
Edgar smiled and stuck out his hand for a handshake, “Brothers to the end.”
Turel returned the gesture with a handshake that turned into a brief hug, “Brothers to the end.”
“Now tell me what you had in mind for this secret mission of yours.”
700 Meters from Hidden Outpost Coordinates
Tundra Region, Kamuekiko, New Tython
48 Hours Later
“We should be able to see the outpost from the crest of this hill, come on.” Mirus Hi’ja urged as Edgar and Turel trailed behind him in the tundra snow. The Titan of New Tython was the consummate Jedi Guardian, trained and ready for combat in any environment. Turel and Edgar on the other hand were relatively new Knights untrained for and unaccustomed to cold weather warfare.
Despite his discomfort with the heavy winter gear he had to wear for this mission and operating in the harsh tundra environment, Turel was driven by the urgency of his mission. An urgency which he could not reveal to his comrades just yet. As the trio of winter geared Jedi crested the snow covered hill, Turel took up a prone position and pulled out a pair of macro-binoculars, “I see the outpost, directly southeast of our position.”
Mirus pulled out his own macro-binoculars, “I see a three man roving patrol, air defenses and what looks like a large generator of some kind. Could be powering a shield or disruption field. These guys are far too well-equipped to be smugglers, they are almost full blown military. We’ll have to get a closer look to be sure.”
Edgar sat below the crest of the hill, out of sight of the outpost, trying in vain to keep himself warm, “I’m going to turn into a Jedi popsicle if we don’t get moving soon.”
Turel pulled out his comlink to call back to the LAAT/i parked two kilometers behind them, “Falcon Three, Falcon Three this is Knight Six over."
The Knight-Commander’s comlink crackled to life, “Knight Six, this is Falcon Three, go ahead.”
“Falcon Three, I need you to contact Colonial Alliance command and have them spin up the quick reaction force from the nearest settlement. We have a hostile outpost at the objective coordinates. Break. Outpost has heavy air defenses, will advise when the air defenses are down and it’s safe to approach from the air. How copy?”
“Good copy Knight Six, will relay information, Falcon Three out.”
Mirus nodded, somewhat pleased with Turel, “Impressive, you almost sounded like a real soldier for a minute there.”
“Yeah, Vorsa has been training me on how to be a Jedi general. Anyway the cavalry is on its way, we need to sneak into the outpost and take out the anti-air defenses with these.” Turel pointed to his backpack full of explosives.
“I guess this went from a recon to a raid.” Edgar cracked.
“More like a recon in force.” Turel corrected his second in command with a roguish grin as Mirus shook his head.
The Titan was not amused, “If you two are done chattering, let’s move out.”
The outpost was built into the base of a large hill with hasty barricades and camouflaged repeater positions in various stages of improvement. A makeshift landing pad had been constructed on the largest flat piece of ground available. A small freighter stood docked at the landing pad. Behind the defensive positions was a large generator attached to three automated anti-air batteries. The rest of the outpost was populated with pre-fabricated shelters.
From what the Jedi could see from their position the occupants of the camp not manning the four repeater positions or on roving patrol were inside the shelters, probably trying to stay warm. The cold environment and complacency had taken their toll on the outpost’s defenders. They didn’t seem overly concerned with a ground attack. If the three Odanites could get past the defensive barriers undetected, they could plant the explosives almost without interference.
The Jedi waited until the roving patrol passed then crept along the back side of the ridge line the outpost was built into. Time was not their ally. It was only a matter of time before the roving patrol came along the back side of the ridge line and spotted the Jedi’s tracks in the snow. They simply had to move too far and too quickly to cover the tracks.
When the trio got within one hundred meters of the outpost Mirus signaled Turel and Edgar to join him behind a large rock. “We need to split up.”
Edgar and Turel exchanged confused looks under their winter headgear. Turel asked the obvious, “Why? There’s only three of us.”
“I’ll take out the roving patrol when they reach the east side, then I’ll get inside the ship to keep it from taking off. You two will infiltrate through the unfinished west wall and plant the explosives.”
Edgar nodded, “Sounds like a plan to me.”
The Knight-Commander was not convinced, “Are you sure you can handle most of the outpost by yourself?”
Mirus shot Turel a sarcastic look that seemed to ask ‘are you serious?’
“Ok fine, forget I asked. Go Titan smash em’ or whatever. Just try to leave some alive so we can get some intel off them.”
The Titan of New Tython shooked his head before splitting off to the eastern side of the outpost, leaving Edgar and Turel to figure out how to get inside undetected. The Jedi pair bounded from cover to cover, staying along the edge of the closest repeater position’s line of sight. Edgar reached out with the Force to momentarily distract the guard on the repeater and signaled for Turel to move up to the barrier. Edgar quickly followed Turel to the barrier as the guard returned his attention to his sector of blinding white tundra.
Turel made eye contact with Edgar and silently pointed up. Edgar nodded with understanding and knelt down to give Turel a boost on to the top of the unfinished barrier. The Jedi Guardian crouched down on top the barrier to give a quick scan for nearby guards before reaching down to help Edgar up. The Knights snuck from building to building, checking for guards around each corner as they traversed the camp. Just as they had suspected, they didn’t see any internal security. The rest of the outpost’s defenders were indoors keeping warm.
The pair made it to the generator and Turel knelt down to pull out his backpack full of explosive charges. Edgar grew impatient as he shifted from corner to corner of the generator checking for guards venturing out of the shelters, “Would you hurry up already, this is a raid, not a fireworks display.”
“If I use the wrong type or amount of explosives it won’t knock out the air defense batteries, or we’ll get caught in the blast. It’s more of an art than a science.”
“Yeah well, you can create your masterpiece of death some other time. The quick reaction force will be here any minute.”
“Almost done.” Turel was interrupted by the unmistakable sound of blaster fire coming from the landing pad. The Knight-Commander looked at his brother in arms and shrugged, “I guess it’s Titan time. Go knock out those repeater positions, I’ll catch the soldiers off guard as they come out of the shelters.” Edgar nodded in acknowledgement and rushed toward the nearest position, igniting his amber lightsaber as he travelled.
Realizing that it probably wasn’t a good idea to take cover in the same place he had just planted explosive charges, Turel bolted toward the largest shelter with Force enhanced speed. Instead of pulling out his lightsaber, the Knight-Commander opted for one of his DL-44 blaster pistols in his right hand and a thermal detonator in the left. He reached the largest shelter, which he assumed was a command center of some kind, and positioned himself near the entrance. The Jedi Guardian stood with his back to the wall, blaster aimed toward where the door would open with the thermal detonator at the ready.
As expected, a soldier blew through the door in a rush to see what was going on at the landing pad. He didn’t make it one step out of the door before Turel blasted a giant hole in his chest at point blank range. Before the soldiers still inside the large shelter could even process what just happened a thermal detonator bounced off the door frame and into the room. Turel dove around the corner of the shelter just in time for a fireball to shoot out of the door.
By this time the entire outpost was in complete chaos. Mirus had dispatched the crew of the freighter inside the ship and had engaged soldiers on the landing pad. Edgar had similarly dispatched the first repeater position and had already closed the distance to the second. Turel had both of his blaster pistols out, ducking and weaving between the shelters, blasting hapless soldiers at point blank range.
Turel froze behind cover for a moment as he felt the familiar chill in the back of his neck that signaled the presence of the Dark Side. Then he heard the sound of lightsaber igniting nearby. It’s the Equite officer! Turel’s mind rushed to the intelligence Sight had given him. The One Sith officer was supposed to be the equivalent of a Krath Priest. All he had to do was buy time until Edgar and Mirus could join the fray and help him out. Turel holstered his blaster pistols and drew his own lightsaber without igniting it. He’d faced tougher odds than this, surely the Jedi Knight could out against a low level Equite for a few minutes.
Edgar was close by but still needed to take out the last of the repeater positions. Turel knew he had to deliberately get the officer’s attention and fast. He peaked around the corner to size up his opponent. The One Sith officer was a human female, young, pretty face with shoulder length brunette hair, dressed in the same white winter gear as the rest of the soldiers in the camp. Very atypical appearance for a One Sith, but she was probably an expert at infiltration and needed to blend in. Well, here goes nothing.
Turel stood up and calmly walked around the corner of the building he had taken cover behind to face his Sith opponent, “The white suits you, brings out your eyes. Most Sith wear some dreadful variation of black and red. The red saber though, very uninspired. I’m a fan of blue myself.” The Knight ignited his own azure saber.
The Sith officer was not amused, “I don’t know who you are, or how you found us here, but you aren’t leaving this camp alive. I’m more than a match for a few of your so-called Brotherhood’s Jedi lap dogs. The fact they allow you to live is proof of their weakness, and yours.”
Turel shook his head in feigned exasperation, continuing to try to provoke his opponent to buy time, “You say that and yet the Brotherhood has beaten you back almost to Korriban. Not to mention the fact that you are about to be captured by Jedi. You could just surrender peacefully and avoid this-" The Knight’s sentence was cut short by a telekinetic blast sent his way from his now incensed opponent. He tried to dodge it but to no avail. Turel took a direct hit to right shoulder in mid-air which sent him spinning horizontally before landing on his face in the snow. His own bulwark of Force energy had absorbed some of the blow but it still felt like getting hit by a rampaging wampa.
Ow! Why do the pretty ones always have to hit so hard? Oh no! Turel felt the familiar burning in the back of his mind, warning him of imminent death and rolled to one side just in time to avoid a ruby lightsaber through the chest.
“You’ll pay for your insolence Jedi scum!”
Yeah, if I had ten credits for every time I’ve heard that. Turel gave his retort in the form of a sweeping kick directly to the back of the Sith’s right knee, causing her to topple to the ground beside him. Wasting no time, the Knight had rolled away from his adversary and launched himself to his feet.
The Sith officer threw up her free hand to launch a small jolt of electricity at Turel, which he easily deflected with the aid of the Force and his lightsaber. I’ve face Darksiders capable of full on Force Lighting before, this is sad. “Well that was uncalled for. What were you trying to do? Tickle me to death?” He knew good and well the jolt was to buy time for her to get on her feet. Still, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to taunt a Sith. The fact they rely on anger to fuel their powers makes it almost too easy to get under their skin.
Turel braced himself as the Sith officer launched herself at him with a flurry of quick saber strikes. The courtyard of the outpost erupted in flashes of purple as the Guardian blue and Sith red sabers clashed in a passionate dance of death. The Knight wasn’t used to fighting in the snow, or with such heavy gear on, but he could tell he still had the advantage of speed over his opponent. She clearly had a slight edge on skill with the lightsaber.
Edgar rushed on to the scene to aid his friend and teammate, having dealt with the repeater positions and any of the soldiers he could see. The Sith officer broke contact with Turel after Edgar’s arrival and the two Knights began to circle the Equite like pack of aak dogs taking down a larger predator. The Sith was undaunted, “I hope you brought more Jedi, it’s going to take more than two of you to take me down.”
Turel decided to take the high road, eschewing some very inappropriate and un-Jedi like responses he could have made just then, “I’m going to ask you one more time to throw down your weapon and surrender peacefully. This fight is over.” The Sith resumed her attack on Turel. Well I guess that answers that. At least I tried. The two Knights and the Equite began trading blows across the courtyard in a dazzling display of red, blue and amber.
“Wow Turel, you sure know how to attract the crazy ones.” Edgar quipped.
“You can have this one.” Turel knew that even two on one this fight was still very dangerous. There was no telling when Mirus would make it over there. He had to end the fight now. Then he noticed the Sith had her back to the generator, which gave him an idea.
“Hey Edgar, I think she needs to see my masterpiece.”
Edgar was slightly confused, still fending off blows from the Sith, “Your what?”
“You know, my masterpiece from earlier.”
“Oh.” Edgar judged the distance from the generator and slowly began moving the fight closer. Both Edgar and Turel made mental notes of where they could take cover. When they got close enough to the generator, Edgar signaled his readiness, “Ready when you are.”
Turel already had placed the detonator remote in his off hand when the Sith had her back to him, “NOW!” The two Knights dove behind shelters on opposite ends of the courtyard. Before the Sith officer could even process what was going on the generator exploded behind her sending a concussive shock wave of force and debris that hurled the Equite clear across the courtyard.
The two Knights bolted across the courtyard to subdue the now stunned Sith. Turel retrieved her lightsaber while Edgar began putting the dazed Equite into cuffs.
Mirus came jogging on to the scene just in time to assist with the capture. “I leave you two alone for five minutes and you make a mess of the place.” The trio shared a hearty laugh.
Turel stood up, the adrenaline still flowing in his system, and took stock of the mission. He had not only thwarted a One Sith invasion but had a prisoner to gain valuable intelligence from. He felt vindicated, “I’ll get on the commlink with the quick reaction force and tell them to bring a shock collar and site exploitation teams. There’s going to be a lot of intel to sift through when they get here.”