Well. It certainly wasn’t Shadow Academy staff waiting for them in the hangar. Things just got better and better. At least The Collective was always good for a warm welcome.
“They aren’t paying me enough for this Sithspit!” Dax spat at no one in particular as he ducked under a stream of crimson blaster-fire, a few stray shots sparking off the edge of his cloak. They’d been pinned down in the center of the hangar, just a few dozen feet away from the downed Lady’s Flower. A full platoon of Collective partisans was closing in around them, threatening to surround their position. Not that he was worried. He’d seen far worse before. Grumbling under his breath, the old soldier ripped the pin from his sonic imploder, tossing it blindly over the edge of his cover. The deafening double-detonation followed moments later, pierced through by the sounds of ragged screams and broken bones.
“Are you kidding me? I ain’t had this much fun since the Battle o’ Mimban!” Zodiac laughed from Dax’s side, his mane of greying hair shaking. Popping to his feet, the ex-Imperial let loose a salvo of slugs, smoothly picking off the soldiers that Dax had stunned, gunshots cutting through the air.
“You fought at the battle of Mimban?” Luka questioned, narrowing their eyes. Crouched behind a shattered crate, they crooned softly under their breath as they wound a tight bandage Bico’s paw, tending a wound that had been dealt during the initial fighting.
“No, but I drank during it!”
“I’ll drink on your Mimban!” Diy interjected, flashing Zodac a sultry grin, before spinning Whyell around in her hand and smashing a Partisan in the jaw as he tried to vault over her cover, following the blow by kneeing him harshly in the groin. The Kiffar brought Whynetta around in her other hand, and the man was dead before he hit the floor, a smoking hole between his eyes.
One member of the team, however, did not join in the joking… though she certainly wanted to. But, someone had to keep them alive. Even as the Arconans laughed and joked and rambled, not seeming to take the fight at all seriously… they fought like a well oiled machine, like a single entity. Their movements were timed together, running like clockwork: when Dax moved to launch a wrist-rocket into a pocket of Partisans, Diy was already spraying cover fire. When a few well-aimed bolts almost sped for Zodac’s throat, Luka was there, saber reflecting the shots away.
It was efficiency. Synthesis. Harmony. It protected Sera’s team. That was all that mattered to her. Crouched just behind Diy, the Zabrak’s eyes were tightly shut, her hearts pounding to the rhythm of the Force, her lips murmuring a silent prayer to her ancestors. Even with her eyes closed, she could feel Diy standing over her protectively, sense Dax and Zodac as they reloaded their weapons, discern Bico’s pain and Luka’s worry.
There was more. She could feel the minds of the people that they were fighting, their fear. And… she could feel something approaching from behind them. A familiar presence drawing closer, from deeper within the station. It put a smile on her face.
“On my word,” Sera murmured, breaking her silence. “We charge them. Head on.” Breaking her meditation, the Zabrak moved to one knee, her amber saber igniting.
“Are you crazy, Baldy?” Dax shot back, his brow rising incredulously. “There’s still a dozen of ‘em out there, we’ll be running to our death.”
“Just trust me,” she responded, giving him a bright, sunny grin, nonchalantly ducking as a stream of crimson fire hissed over her scalp. “We’ve got help coming up right behind them. We attack, they’ll fall back. It’s our best chance.”
Diy smiled, hefting her blasters. Luke shrugged, brandishing their saber. Zodac chuckled, pulling deeply from his flask… and Dax just sighed.
“I’ll give you a little bonus…” Sera promised, her smile growing wider.
“…right. Just give damn the word.”
“Sweet! Now…ARCONA INVICTA!” the Zabrak cried, raising her golden saber high. Bursting into a sprint, she vaulted over her cover, listening as her team poured out behind her…
And just beyond the enemy’s line, she saw another shining yellow saber ignite.