- Kasula Daegella
- Tali Zorah
- Kordath Bleu
- Koliss Welcott
En-Route to The Sanctuary III
Yer not serious? I am not getting on that thing! were Kordath’s first words on seeing the white lotus emblazoned on the hull of a white-and-teal VCX-100 freighter—their chosen transport for the mission. Now, glancing about the fuselage, Kordath realized he had almost come to regret those words on seeing the Daegella sisters’ stock of whiskies and brandies from across the Galaxy.
Splashes of the Ryn’s chosen vintage soaked into his beard as the fuselage jostled from the twins’ unnecessary maneuvers and the dialed back inertial compensator. Stained at the front from the errant spills, his otherwise grey tunic revealed blotches of color beneath the nerf-leather jacket above it. He bore a grimace when Koliss offered one of the freighter’s sick bags from the seat behind Kasula, but took it nonetheless.
“When Morgan offered us ‘two of the best’ pilots aboard the Matron, I honestly expected something far more discreet than,” Zujenia indicated to the telltale lotus visible outside the cockpit with a waving gesture, “this.”
Ysera turned around in her seat, “Well no-one told us that we were supposed to go unnoticed.”
“Also, that lotus took me and Ysera three hours to get right!” finished Kasula from behind the main controls.
Lurching as the VCX-100 freighter left hyperspace to prepare itself for another micro-jump, Tali swore when the twins engaged the ion afterburner. The sudden realization of lacking a restraint around her shoulders meant the Twi’lek would have landed across Zujenia’s lap beside her, had she not instead grabbed the headrest just in time.
“Koliss!” Kasula shouted on hearing the sound of Kordath’s stomach from the other side of the cockpit, “Tell that rodent I’ll toss him out the airlock if he makes a mess in our ship!”
Zujenia was about to retort when Tali Zorah rested a hand on her shoulder and cast a condescending smirk in Kordath’s direction. Were it not for his current predicament, she was certain that the lecher would have taken a keen interest in the sisters—perhaps asking for an ‘autograph,’ given half the chance.
Koliss shook himself at the sound of his name being called, although it was difficult to shake his dozing state he had adopted since the launch of the freighter. He tried to remember exactly where he was, and what he was doing; did he get taken by a pirate crew with a bleeding out captain again?
“We’ll be happy to let you pay for anything that rodent scuffs up in here, doctor!” Kasula sounded out again from the pilot’s seat.
The situation cleared into shocking focus at the words and the sounds of acute onset nausea associated with sudden acceleration. Koliss swiftly kicked over the metal bucket to Kordath, and quickly set about checking his medical pack for something to calm the symptoms of motion sickness; at least he now knew why Kordath insisted on the bucket.
“Of all the possible afflictions, how does a traveller like you get motion sickness?” Koliss shook his head as he regarded Kordath.
“Remind me to tell ya tha story sometime k-Uggh!” Kordath quickly disappeared to inspect the bottom of his new bucket closely. Koliss took the moment to regard the rest of the assembled group. The tension that had emerged since the VCX-100 freighter had launched had not been waylaid much by the travel time. Their objective weighed heavily in their minds, and that did not do any favors in allowing the newly formed crew from interacting with one another.
“So… an infiltration mission to stop warheads stuffed inside cargo containers apparently aboard a cargo-hauler set on a collision course with Sanctuary III… interesting to say the least. You all usually prone to have such excitement filled missions?” Koliss tried to keep the question amicable, but the looks he received from his comrades made it seem like he had stumbled into the wrong cantina at the worst time of night.
“If that attack is allowed anywhere near the sanctuary, then the White Lotus will be on their back heel against the Iron Throne and the Inquisitors; that’s not to mention how many people will end up dying in the attack, and the military campaign to follow it.” Zujenia spoke without looking at Koliss. “We must do everything in our power to stop it before it starts.” Her own thoughts on whether it was a good idea to bring along these members for such an important operation continued to swirl in her head.
Koliss nodded to himself, “Well, seemed a bit, odd is all. An infiltration mission where we aren’t exactly-”
“We’ve established that-” spoke Ysera, “-So stop mentioning it.” finished Kasula.
Koliss went to speak, but stopped himself. He turned to look at Tali, his fellow newcomer, who offered a shrug at his glance. He closed his mouth and turned back to Kordath, who had pulled himself from his bucket to give him a strangely knowing look. Koliss shook his head and turned to rummage through his medical pack with a grimace. This marked the fourth time he had gone through it since ‘volunteering’ for the mission; it was still better than thinking about the heavy stench of dread that seemed to hang around as they approached ever closer to their ultimate goal.
Bleu cradled his bucket like it was his firstborn child. Second born, he reminded himself as he glanced at the Half-Ryn sitting forward of him. Why she was putting up with him still after a surprise from his past had popped up recently he wasn’t sure though he admired the hell out of her for it.
“Tha word, Kol, mate, you’re lookin’ for is ‘raid,’ cause that’s what this is. Tha loud variety o’ infiltration,” stated the queasy looking Ryn as he gripped his bucket tight and went to stand. The vessel moved under his feet, causing the nimble Arconan almost to lose the game then and there before regaining his balance. “I’ll be, uh, further aft. Away from all the wee bits o’ glass that show tha void and all that, yeah?”
“Don’t you throw up on anything!” came a shout from one of the pilot sisters. He wasn’t sure which one yet, he’d been a bit busy ever since departure trying not to toss up.
When he felt he’d stumbled far enough into the ship, he fell against the curved bulkhead and slid down to the cold metal deck. Resting his head against the wall and closing his eyes, he could feel the thrum of the engines and the little sounds that told him the ship was on the go. That was fine, as long as he wasn’t watching the vacuum go by. He was more suited to travel in cargo holds and storage lockers, as he’d done in his misbegotten youth.
“You’re not dead, are you?” came the voice from outside of his own daydreams.
“Nae, luv,” he spoke with a small smile. “Hope I didn’t worry ya, was startin’ ta think I had a handle on this whole space thing. Those two crazy Lek-heads got odd notions about takin’ off.”
Zujenia leaned against the wall across from him, arms crossed with a serious look directed at him.
“I didn’t know you were coming, Bleu, on this mission. Att – my Master didn’t tell me to expect you, she even went so far as to say not to. If this is some kind of need to protect me or make sure I get the job done, we’re gonna have words.”
He blinked a few times, looking up at the hybrid woman who’d come into his life when little else made sense anymore.
“Ya think I came along ta babysit ya? Zuj, luv, you’re more capable than me in whole lotta ways. Yer one of tha smartest, most gifted women I’ve ever known, ya are. Ya got a light step and a mean swing with yer staff…but I’m still better at findin’ things than ya.”
“Found you, after all,” he grinned at her.
A raised eyebrow and piercing amber eyes told him he’d failed to deflect the issue. “You came along because you thought we’d need help?”
“Who’s we in this case? You and the crazy twins flyin’ this deathtrap!? How was that all ya intended ta pull this off with!?”
“In and out, quick and quiet, that’s how. Now it’s going to be loud and dangerous! All because you can’t trust me to do this on my own.”
“I never said that!” he wailed, head smacking against the bulkhead in frustration. “Ow. I brought Koliss and Tali along ta help because…well, they got no love for what the Iron folk are doin’. Tali knows ships better than you and me, she lived on one for a good long while. And havin’ a talented medic along ain’t ever a bad thing.”
He grew quiet for several long moments before speaking again, “It’s not that I do nae trust ya, Zuj. Yer capable, yer bleedin’ amazin’ and I think ya could pull this off alone if ya had ta. But ya do nae have ta do it alone, now do ya? Gettin’ aboard was gonna be noisy anyways, luv, now ya got back up at least.”
Kordath looked up at the woman who for some strange reason liked to waste her time with a low life like he and gave her a tired smile.
“Just here ta help, Zuj.”
Dark amber eyes continued to burn as the Half-Ryn kept her gaze fixed on Kord. Finally, she closed them shut and sighed. The tightness of her gut refused to relax as her anger shed away to expose the weariness beneath. He had a point and despite popular belief, there was usually a bit of wisdom behind Kordath’s words. As for the other two, Zujenia realized she was just being stubborn, trying to keep the newest members of her team from harm’s way. They’ve had their share of experiences and were both willing to fight in this war that may potentially end the massive xenocide. For that, she needed to lean back and lead, not hold their hands.
“I know,” Zujenia said after what would of seemed like ages of silence had it not been for the occasional jostling of the ship to disrupt their sense of time. She continued after a short pause, “It’s not like I can tie you up and force you to stay here either.”
Kord’s smile widened a little, “Nah, the twins would ‘ave me hide afta’ the fightin’ be ova if ya did.”
A gloved hand barely hid the slight lift of the corner of her mouth as tan fingers massaged her temple. If that occurred, she would be coughing up some credits to cover for the mess. The small bit of breathing room his comment gave was swiftly replaced by a lump in her throat. Dropping her left arm, Zujenia returned her gaze to the sitting Ryn.
“It’s just…you have someone dependant on you now, Kord. What if — ”
Kord flicked his tail, cutting her off. “Let’s not think like that, luv. Do nae wanna curse us before we give it a go.”
He shifted where he sat and pushed the bucket around a bit. Grey eyes darted to meet her own as the craft shook again, tired from his bouts of sickness and drained from the conversation. Zujenia exhaled, wishing she could stop thinking about it, that sense of dread still latched around her. The Half-Ryn pushed off the wall to stand upright and swallowed.
“If the situation turns to the worse, you are to take an escape pod or call Kasula and Ysera. Take Koliss and Tali with you…Do not worry about me…Got it?” Her tone was cold, an attempt at neutrality that her nerves betrayed with slight inflections to her voice near the end.
Kordath open his mouth to protest, but closed it again, opting for a slight nod which eased her worries some. Crouching in front of him with a look tossed towards the cockpit, Zujenia leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead, a good luck blessing. She gave him a slight smile before spinning on her heels to return to the others.
The short trip back to her seat was a little shaky, but she managed. The Half-Ryn strapped herself in before regarding the rest of the team. Both Tali and Koliss tossed her a glance that seemingly asked quite a number of questions.
“Should I go back there and help him?” the medic asked, running his hand through his hair.
“No, he’ll be fine.” Zujenia answered half-absently. Her mind busy trying to rework the mission’s plan to account for the three extras.
“Alright, here we go!” The twins shouted from the cockpit as the astromech finished the hyperdrive calculations, having plotted a necessarily dangerous micro-jump into the heart of the incoming fleet. As the ship accelerated into light speed and the stars around them turned into streaks of light, Tali found her hands squeezing tighter on the arm rests. This was, as they said, it.
The jostling of the ship combined with the palpable air of unease at the daunting mission ahead and the faint scent of stomach acids were having a noticeable effect on the young Twi’lek. She had ‘volunteered’ to defend her newfound home against those who’d wish it harm; doubly so when she learned about their views regarding ‘lesser races’. Even so, she was starting to feel the all too familiar sensation of self-doubt gnawing at her courage as the ragtag band of misfits hurtled through space towards what amounted to a jerry-rigged ordinance carrier.
She decreed there had been better mornings in her life thus far, albeit depressingly few and far between.
The ship decelerated out of hyperspace a short while later and even from her poor vantage point, Tali could see the cluster of grey hulls drifting towards Sanctuary III in a loose picket formation. Consisting of a gaggle of obsolete ships there mostly for their shields and bulk, the real danger of the fleet lay at the heart of the formation; a slab-like Baleen-class heavy freighter that carried enough explosive power to scour a continent.
Almost immediately upon detecting the intruder, the fleet opened fire as a flurry of laser bolts flashed towards them, forcing the sisters manning the light freighter to take sharp evasive maneuvers. Hoping to distract herself from the whole and perhaps guide the rest of the clearly troubled lot towards the common goal of saving the station and preferably coming out of it alive, she decided to go over the plan one more time.
“So, vhen ve get to the target, assuming our tame racing drivers can do so vithout getting us all blastedt to oblivion, ve secure the bridge, place the disruptor and begin disarming the bombs, yes?” She stated in the calmest voice she could manage considering the circumstances.
“That’s the plan, yes.” Zujenia replied, casting a glance at the sick Ryn who looked like he was about to say something before the racing twins pulled the ship through a tight barrel roll to avoid incoming fire and he decided to return to his previous task. Miraculously, despite the extravagant maneuver, none of his deposits spilled from the bucket.
“So, vhat’s our escape plan?” She asked and was met with a number of looks she was not quite comfortable with.
“We’ll… uurgh… wing it!” came Kordath’s reply from somewhere in the back, his voice booming and metallic as if amplified by some cone-shaped object into which he spoke.
“There are escape pods on the ship if it has a crew to steer it. If we can’t commandeer the ship for our own use, we’ll use them to escape and they’ll come and pick us up.” Zujenia replied with a nod towards the cockpit.
“Vait… they’re going to stay on a holding pattern vhile ve vork?” Tali retorted. “That sounds… suicidal.”
A dismissive laughter echoed from the cockpit in stereo. “Just watch us, sister! They won’t even get close!” Kasula hollered just as a turbolaser blast violently shook the freighter, the shields flaring from the impact, but managing to hold, for now.
“Lucky exception…” Ysera stated before pushing the ship into another series of violent evasive maneuvers as it dodged a string of long-range fire from the escorting picket fleet and headed straight for the Baleen-class looming at the center of the incoming force.
Blazing ion trails through the oncoming formations of TIE Fighters, the Damsel’s Distress blasted the lead fighter’s cockpit with one blaster cannon bolt hitting it directly in the center viewport. Blowing outwards, the remnants of the cockpit and attached solar collectors cleared the VCX-100’s trajectory as it flew directly in-between the rest of the squadron’s fighters.
Emerging from the fireball, the sisters re-engaged the ion thrusters without so much as a warning—much to the distaste of those onboard. Sploshing at the bottom of the bucket, Kordath’s vomit began to climb the sides as the inertial compensator once again failed to adjust in time with the acceleration. Shedding his fur in disgust, the Ryn tilted the bucket to keep himself from wearing the mess.
“Coming around!” warned Zujenia, clutching the sides of her seat. Breaking formation, the remaining TIE fighters reversed course and formed up behind the Damsel’s Distress, “Those fighters are going to lock on!”
“No need to tell us twice—” started Ysera, “—we know when someone’s drawing a bead,” Kasula interjected.
“Wouldn’t we be better off getting someone on the turret?” Zujenia asked, feeling the cabin rock as a blaster mark scored a direct hit on the hull.
“Kriffing hell—” Kasula swore, “—forgot the rear deflectors,” Ysera groaned in frustration.
Unbuckling herself, Tali sought for the various handholds in the cockpit, “I vhill get it.” Clambering towards the furthest bulkhead, she seized the sides of the ladder and hoisted herself into the dome-like compartment. “This vhill be fun,” she remarked, getting a feel for the dual controllers; one for each axis.
“Aim high!” she heard Kasula giggle over the intercom, “don’t miss.”
With that moment’s warning, the Damsel’s afterburner disengaged and the starship maneuvered into the tightest spiral upwards that Tali had never seen a freighter of this size make. Squeezing the triggers far too hard than necessary and clenching her teeth, Tali unleashed hell on the tailing starfighters. As if the twins were compensating for her inaccuracy, most of the shots seemed to find their mark.
“Nice shooting, tailheads!” Zujenia commended the three at the various stations, “Let’s all hope Kord didn’t drop the bucket.”
Kordath was wedged between the cold durasteel inner bulkhead and the disposal unit of the ship’s refresher. The bucket had long since left him for its own devices, whatever those might be. He hugged the seat and took slow, shuddering breaths as the deck below him seemed to buck and move under him as the ship maneuvered. It grew quiet and still, only the hum of the ship’s systems filling the air as shouts from the cockpit and sounds of weapons firing ceased.
He gripped the seat all the harder as the Force flashed sensations of future unpleasantness through his mind and the ship grew loud once more. Metal screeching sounds could be heard distantly, and the entire sense of gravity and balance went nearly sideways. In a literal fashion, the lid slamming down on the unit nearly smashed his thumbs as the Damsel’s Distress seemed to be stuck at an abrupt and unnatural angle. Finally, the sounds of hull and plating scraping across one another stopped as well, and the Ryn shakily regained his feet.
He pulled himself out of the refresher with both hands on the door frame, boots sliding across the smooth deck as he came into the hall. The lights in the ship flickered once, twice, and the vessel lurched nearly tossing him back to the floor.
What are they doin’ up there?
Even as he stood once more, his feet splayed and tail waving uncertainly to maintain balance, he felt the ship move under him. This felt smoother, at least, as he stumbled into the common area of the ship and stole a glance towards a viewport with nearly closed eyes. Artificial lighting was coming through the glass, which caused him to pause as several members of the thrown together crew came running back from the cockpit.
“…did we now?”
Zujenia shot him a look that suggested the less said the better as one of the twin sister pilots came back.
“We’ve landed inside their ship.”
“I thought we was gonna like, I dinnae know, uhh, latch onta tha side and board…”
“Things happened,” stated the Half-Ryn as she thrust a pack into his chest to quiet him down.
“You better not have made a mess!” shouted the Twi’lek as he was pushed towards the landing ramp.
The unflinching stream of the hanger lights sparsely illuminated the cockpit of the Damsel’s Distress as the crew made its effort to begin their mission in haste; but the emergency lights flashing and the strangely deserted hanger inspired a feeling of dread. Koliss could only be reminded of so many pitch black nights splashed with a dose of searchlights. He shook himself of his short revelry, he had to be in the here and now. Koliss stalked toward the ramp with his medical pack strapped on tightly and his, perhaps too low powered, sporting blaster rifle unslung.
“If anybody starts to feel a sharp pain that feels like it’s coming from a bone, or you start to feel dizzy or your vision blurs, just let me know.”
“Feelin’ dizzy ya say?” Koliss turned to gaze at Kordath with a slightly exasperated look.
“More so for those of us that don’t suffer from slightly violent motion sickness.” Koliss turned back halfway, hesitating, before turning back, “All the same, if that happens to you say, after, you get off the ship…. don’t keep it to yourself.” Koliss turned his attention to Zujenia, missing out on the slightly put off look from Kordath.
“Mission parameters change, and we change with them.” The battle team lead started. “First step is securing this hanger so we aren’t immediately ambushed once we leave. Spread out to search; once we’re done, we’ll go over the revised operation plan.” She drew up her Tusken cycler and gripped her electro staff, placing her hand over the button to drop the ramp. “Make it quick, and stay safe.” The button was pressed, there was no going back now.
The shadow team moved quickly from the hulking and slightly out of place freighter. Zujenia was out first in an effort to identify any immediate threat; Kordath followed suit with slightly less tense but just as alert movement as they themselves moved to clear the far sides of the hanger for any surprises that might be left. Koliss and Tali, blasters drawn, remained closer to the ship as they themselves moved to clear any possible hiding place.
Koliss didn’t have to go far to be stopped in his tracks. A single polished boot seemed to stretch out from beneath what he could only describe as a few hundred kilogram storage container piled on top of one another, leaning dangerously, apparently an outcome of the sudden appearance of a recently landed ship. He wondered who it was that lay underneath there; how old were they, why were they in here, what were they doing only a few hours prior?
Koliss shook himself again as he tried to bring back his focus. It had been too long since he had stepped onto a battlefield proper, too much time in refugee camps, he needed to get mean and double quick. Besides that, there was little else to think there was some master trap that was laid out for the recently landed team from what he could see, and little to assume that much else was coming for them at the moment. Their enemies were apparently just as surprised at their landing as the team was. That was soon to change, and the quick return of Zujenia and Kordath from their own clearance only drove that home. Koliss and Tali moved back to them quickly, the sister pilots joining them as well for the quick briefing.
Koliss squeezed his finger tightly against the trigger guard of his rifle; the hairs on his neck were standing on end, and he hated when that happened without any apparent cause.
The white-haired woman nodded to the group, her eyes passing over the hangar in one last surveying glance before she spoke. “Alright, our target is to stop this ship from crashing into Sanctuary III as well as the warheads our data says they plan to deploy. Easiest way to do that is take control of the bridge, located a short distance inside.”
“Being a suicide mission, they likely have a skeleton crew, two or three — just enough to pilot and an extra hand to drop the warheads.” Zujenia adjusted the strap to her rifle over her shoulder, clearing her throat. “That being said, there probably a few soldiers onboard to keep infiltrators such as our self from mucking things up. — ”
A scoff came from Kord with a flick of his grey tail behind him, “And ta keep the crew from flakin’. Prolly some Iron Throne-kissers if ‘em willin’ ta do this.”
Which makes them even more dangerous, the Half-Ryn noted, filing it away in the growing list of factors. She was about to continue when a raised purple-skinned hand drew her attention. “Tali?”
“The cargo modules must be held vith some sort of tractobeam fieldt. There’s gotta be a powerfieldt generator controlling that. If that goes offline…those bombs are gonna drop. “ the Twi’lek suggested. Zujenia rolled the information around in her head, Kasula interjecting with agreement.
“Okay. Then you and…” amber eyes hovered over the gathered rebels, “Kordath will go to secure the generator. Stop anyone who tries to override it. Ysera, Kasula — ”
“Doing repairs and covering the hangar for your cargo holds!” Ysera butted in affirmatively, the barrel of her blaster pistol resting against her shoulder as she straightened her stance up with her shorter sister crossing her arms beside her. Zujenia again nodded, making sure they could get off this rustbucket was high on the priority list. She turned to Koliss who looked a tad lost in thought, noticeably stirred when he caught her gaze.
“I’m to go to the bridge with you?” He asked tentatively.
“Yes, you a decent shot with that blaster of yours?”
“I — ” the Human medic was cut short as Kord piped up, his white mustache seeming to twitch with weariness.
“Luv, we ‘ave company. Sensin’ three incomin’ ”
Hands gripped weapons, tighter if already, and the group burst into action. The Twins took cover using their ship, Kasula from the ramp way and Ysera ducked behind a landing gear that the two had managed to place before the Damsels’ Distress had leveled itself out. The Ryn skittered behind a crate, Zujenia following closely behind him. She hadn’t seen where the two journeymen had gone, but she hoped they had taken cover as red bolts peppered the space. Patting Kord’s shoulder with a half-gloved hand, the Gate Warden drew upon the Force, wrapping shadows and light around her in a veil before pushing off and towards the gunmen
Kordath glanced at the Gate Wardeness like he was about to say something when she was already gone, moving towards the troopers under the veil of her Force-powered abilities. The male Ryn gave a distressed whine, knowing full well that what he was about to do was supremely stupid, before setting off after her.
“Get them! Get the Lotus scum!” One of the three troopers yelled, gesturing frantically in the general direction of their foes while firing half-aimed shots with his blaster pistol. The two troopers flanking him on either side were crouched down on one knee and sending off a flurry of crimson red blaster bolts that smacked into the obstructions and the two Daegella sisters’ ship, leaving rather unstylish marks on their recently finished paint job that left precious few doubts about the affiliation of these unwanted intruders.
“Hey! I spent four hours on that, you kraks!” Kasula snapped, firing a few angry shots in return at the troopers, but failing to impress. “Three hours, sister.” Ysera corrected her. “And I was there too, you know?” She added before squeezing off a few more bolts, driving the shouting man into cover behind the doorway they’d come through.
Tali and Koliss had found some cover behind a shallow bulkhead, the two squeezed against the wall as one of the two gunmen seemed to have it in for them. Blaster bolts kept slamming into the wall and the four inch slab of superstructure that separated them from a premature grave.
“You thought this was a good place to hide?!” Koliss snapped as another bolt whizzed past his cheek, so close he could feel the tingling on his face from the charge it carried.
The Twi’lek woman was hugging most of the cover, her lekku needing more space to stay out of harm’s way and leaving Koliss dangerously exposed while he returned fire whenever he dared and could.
“Ve’re drawing their fire, keeping them distractedt. Just stay put, ve’re doing great!” She replied as another near-miss chipped off a piece of durasteel beside her head, the hissing of vaporized metal making her wince despite her encouraging tone.
“We?! I’m the one being shot at!” The medic snapped back, firing off a few more shots and narrowly missing Zujenia as she snuck up on the guards who were now single-mindedly determined to bag themselves some lekku. One was peppering Tali and Koliss, keeping them pinned, while the other kept exchanging fire with the Daegella twins in an extremely simplified pop-up shooting gallery.
Blaster shots criss-crossing the hangar deck, Zujenia advanced on her prey with purpose, electrostaff readied in one hand as she closed the distance between herself and the two tunnel visioning guards. At the last moment one of them seemed to sense something awry, his shooting momentarily ceasing as he turned his head minutely towards Zujenia’s direction, but could not see a thing before a crackling energy tip slammed into his helmet. Arcs of power coursed through him and a muffled scream died inside his helmet as he collapsed backwards, unconscious before he hit the ground.
The second guard reacted quickly, much too quickly to her liking as he threw himself back from the doorway and fired a few stray bolts at the half-Ryn. It took all her skill and foresight to dodge the shots by somersaulting after the guard she’d just incapacitated; skidding to a momentary halt on the worn decking before launching herself at the terrified foe.
Her first swing was blocked by his blaster as the man raised it sideways to keep the electrified tip from slamming into his head, Zujenia dancing around him and bringing the other end of her weapon down and up at his knee instead. The man yelled in pain as the electrostaff did its work, his leg numbed from the shock as he was swiped off his legs and tumbled to the deck.
Before he could recover, she jabbed the staff in between two armor plates at his neck, sending in another powerful jolt that knocked him out completely. Yet even as she did so, she sensed she’d made a grave mistake.
“You Lotus scum…” The third trooper, who’d fled deeper into the corridor, stepped out with his blaster pistol aimed at her head. At such range and out of balance, she was dangerously exposed and unprepared.
His finger curling on the trigger with a cold, malicious grin at the chance to execute such a foul Lotus-sympathizing piece of filth, the man suddenly froze with his eyes wide. Staggering back a few steps, his pistol dropped and he clutched at the side of his throat where the grip of a dagger stuck out. Blood welling out of his mouth, soaking the front of his uniform a deep crimson, he tripped and collapsed onto the deck as Kordath brushed past her to reclaim his weapon.
Pulling it out of his throat and wiping it clean on his uniform sleeve, the Ryn turned to glance at her with an almost apologetic expression. “Just here ta help…” He muttered before sliding the weapon back into its sheath.
They exchanged a momentary look before she nodded and turned back to her team. “Clear! You know your objectives, now move out!” She snapped with a clear and experienced voice. Returning her attention to Kordath, for a moment she thought he was still expecting some sort of response, but as none was forthcoming he simply walked past her to meet up with his team-mate. As he passed, she could feel his senses brush against hers along with a faint whisper she was not quite sure he had physically spoken. “Take care o’ yerself.”
Left to their own devices and the task of getting the Damsels’ Distress back in working condition, the Daegella sisters remained in the hangar as the rest of their Arconan comrades began to check the cargo. Kasula and Ysera gave a farewell salute to the others, blowing a kiss when Koliss craned his head back to the racing vessel that made him blush red.
“Ahh, they’re just teasin’,” Kordath brought an arm around Koliss’ shoulder with an audible slap against the fabric of his overcoat, “Havin’ a bit o’ fun, is all.”
Tensing up at the sudden one-armed embrace, Koliss felt the redness drain from his face, “How do you know?” he asked, taking a half-glance back at the Twi’lek sisters now working on moving crates and spare parts from the loading ramp, pretending not to notice.
“Know what?” Kord asked, arching his brow in mock confusion.
“Well, I don’t guess that you’ve ever had a pair of Twi’lek twins ever teasing you. Why, I can still smell the vomit from the other side of the hangar!”
Casting a grimace, Kord looked down at his shirt. Sure enough, it was blotched with more stains than usual. “Yeah,” he muttered, “let’s leave before they find out where that bucket ended up.”
Now, it was Zujenia’s turn to butt in with her own tone of worry, “You didn’t?”
“Rather not speak o’ it,” Kord answered, making a show of brushing off Koliss’ shoulder before returning his hands to himself.
Spotting the twins setting up the Z-6 rotary cannon on the loading ramp with their not-quite-inconspicuous astromech in tow, Tali decided to offer her own interjection. “Zhat might be a sign to move out.”
“Indeed,” Zujenia nodded, leading the three other Arconans down an otherwise unremarkable hall. No defenses. Not even a single Iron Legion soldier, the realization made her fur stand on edge, “Watch for movement, or traps.”
“Most of these doors are filled with cargo that just might kill us all. So, be mindful of where your lightsabers are. We need to find—”
“On it,” Kord volunteered before she was finished, grinning despite the threats her stare communicated wordlessly, “When finding’s what ya’ need…”
Without even the chance to give pause or warning, the Ryn’s tail whipped around to depress a button on the bulkhead. Koliss, Zujenia and Tali braced themselves in unison for the imminent explosion. A futile effort, but unwarranted, given that not so much as an alarm sounded. Lekku flipped over to protect the two delicate orbs set in their sockets, Tali slowly uncovered her left and let her jaw drop in astonishment. Four beings in white coats stood on the other side of the threshold in just as much amazement as their rescuers offered.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Was about to ask you the same. Where the blazing are we?” A tall, blond human snapped, his tone gruff as he moved to push past the Ryn. Zujenia quickly interjected, raising a half gloved hand against his ruffled shirt to stop him. Quickly withdrawing her arm, yet keeping it close, amber eyes fixed on the man.
“Hey, hold on a second, alright? You’re on a cargo ship that’s about to collide into a space station…” Realizing that is not a particularly reassuring comment, her gaze landing on a rectangular name tag as she continues. “which we are going to stop, Mr. White.”
“And you’re doing that how? By blabbing here? Get us out of this place!”
“Goji! These people will, just calm down. Shouting isn’t going to help us out any.” A dark haired woman beside him responded, touching his elbow. Turning to the group, she pleaded with brown eyes. “ Please, help us. I’m Jade Jian, one of the scientists —”
“That the Iron Throne had taken…” Zujenia tossed a look at her assembled team, biting the inside of her cheek. She could send Kord back with them, but his Arcanist skills were needed here. Tali? The Twi’lek’s knowledge of the power generator deems her requirement to go onward. That leaves Koliss. Don’t want to take the medic off the field, but…
“Koliss, lead these folks back to the hangar.” Pulling the vibrodagger from its sheath clipped at her belt, the Gate Warden twirled it into a backwards grip. “Then head back to me, trust you can follow a trail?”
“Wait! You must be looking for the nuclear warheads, yes? I’m an expert in fission technology, I might be able to deactivate them.” A second woman spoke up, stepping closer.
“No offense, Lady, but I donae think these bombs need to be activated to go boom.” Kord flicked his tail.
“Just let me help.” The woman, Amillia Sencha based off her tag, turned her gaze to Zujenia, having sensed she was the lead of the group. The Half-Ryn silently cursed, her inner need to protect screaming no against her psyche.
“Fine.” She replied after a couple heartbeats, tossing a nod towards the Ryn. “Kord.”
Gesturing with two fingers, Zujenia headed out. Her footsteps fell in whispers as she rounded a corner and separated herself from the group, notching grooves into the walls before every turn. The layout of the ship she had memorized directed her towards the bridge.
Kordath saluted simply to Koliss as he moved off toward the generator, the fission expert Amillia staying close to him as he moved. Tali followed after, shooting a smile of reassurance at Koliss as well. Zujenia had already disappeared into the darkened hallway leading toward the bridge to take care of the pilots; Koliss was left standing with the three sudden additions to their mission for a few seconds. Though the relative silence was broken quickly.
“Well don’t just stand there looking gob-smacked, are you going to provide us armed escort or not?” The rather tall man with almost brilliant blonde hair snapped at him. Goji White, Koliss remembered, the disgruntled look mixed with a set of eyes that almost seem to speak to the man’s arrogance about his ability to order his apparent rescuer around. Koliss was instantly reminded of an old memory of a chair member that his father knew quite well; Koliss stepped suddenly towards the group, and could not suppress his own smirk as Mr. White flinched noticeably.
“Let it be said that I am not a gentleman, or at the very least accommodating of others.” Koliss felt himself moving back into an old and practice persona, butting heads with the high and mighty. “I’ve got my orders and I shall follow them to the letter. Let’s be off to the hangar to get you set; please, after you,” Koliss motioned with his blaster rifle almost nonchalantly.
Dr. White looked ready to burst open with an argument at the rudeness of Koliss’ back talk, but a comforting hand from professor Jian held back any retort. “We are most appreciative of your help of course sir,” Jade started off while keeping a glare on Goji, “We will comply, so let us be away from this place.” Jade turned to start moving, followed by Goji and the last remaining scientist who had not spoken or given his name yet.
The group moved leisurely, Koliss doing his best to keep his eyes and ears open for any surprises. “I don’t think we ever got your name, sir?” Koliss held back a sigh, so much for ever alert.
“Doctor Koliss Rosander Welcott, at your service Miss Jian.” The reply was curt, but that did not deter Jade from questioning further. “A doctor; a most interesting choice for an infiltration mission. Especially for the White Lotus, of all things.” Koliss eyed Jade out of the corner of his eye, suddenly curious himself. However, he managed to catch a strange continuous whirring noise that had just started up and was now building in pitch. Koliss stopped walking as the scientists continued moving; he could swear he had heard something like it before.
“I don’t intend to offend, doctor,” Jade continued, seemingly missing out on the growing sound that was now beginning to almost echo, “just that from all accounts the Lo-
Jade was interrupted as Koliss sprinted full tilt into the backs of the scientists, managing to bowl all of them to the ground simultaneously. A streak of red light and the buzzing of an energy burst flashed above the prone group, striking close behind them with a small thundering explosion.
Seconds seemed to stretch into minutes as Koliss quickly looked about for some kind of precious cover; he instantly noticed the ever silent one firmly planted into a rather spacious alcove in the wall, eyes frozen forward. Koliss still pressed his weight on top of Goji and Jian, which he quickly rectified into dragging panickedly into the alcove in the hope of shielding them all.
Koliss was only able to rise to one knee before Goji cold cocked him with a closed fist in an apparent rage, “You absolute idiot, are you hoping to see us stain the wall!?” He was quickly grabbed onto by Jade, “Damn it Goji, now is not the time; restrain yourself damn it!” The two scuffled slightly, but never enough to push each other into the open hallway where the the whirring sound of an energy turret powering up was present again.
Koliss did not feel much pain as he could feel the rush of adrenaline pulsing through his ears. He stood shakily, trying to take stock of this new situation. Goji and Jade seemed to be arguing almost silently, which was a wonder in their enclosed area, and the silent one, who Koliss could now see beared a name tag of Oolong Var’ren hefted a loose piece of plasteel that had come from the wall.
Koliss inched to the edge of the now crowded alcove to try and get a sight on the new threat. A rather rusted looking turret with only one barrel which looked ready to slip out of the ceiling, but Koliss figured that it still had a few shots left in it as he keyed his radio. “This is…Doc,” Koliss hated himself for using his hated moniker, but he never remembered getting a code name. “Myself and the labcoats have been suppressed by a rather low grade automated turret, but it has us dead to rights if we move. Will try to eliminate and move on.” He quickly keyed off the radio, he needed some quiet to think.
That silence was quickly cut, “I would wager that it’s’ motion tracking only.” Koliss snapped around to see the now speaking Oolong in his face, hefting his plasteel plate. “A gamble to be sure…” Koliss hesitated, “Its’ presents the most tactically sound choice, both ways.” Koliss wanted to answer, but was surprised by the plasteel plate flying by his head into the hallway, quickly followed by Koliss himself essentially on reflex.
Two sounds of blaster discharging rumbled down the narrow corridor, almost with a musical tone. Koliss sat frozen, convinced that time had stopped; the smoking and broken turret that faced him from down the hallway spoke otherwise.
“Heh…Heh-heh.” Koliss could not stop the chuckle rolling from his stomach, which now relaxed from its tensed state.
“You know I’m pretty good with a blaster, but damn; that was probably a top ten shot for me.”
Koliss paused at the sight, for a brief moment he heard another strange sound, this time a slight whooshing.
Koliss heard the crack before he felt it against the back of his head. Once standing, he now was firmly face down on the ground. His vision faded quickly, and the last sound he remembered before totally blacking out was a slight scoff.