As Nadrin read through the dossier he had been handed, he was slowly burying the anger he initially felt at the shebs who ran the Contract Bureau and instead was coming to realise that the man he was being sent to kill was an…intimidating foe. The Bothan was a former Jedi Master, and his particular skillset seemed to point towards Nadrin’s favoured long range combat being the best option he had available.
But I’m not on my own.
The Sith grabbed his commlink and thumbed in the frequency that his Fades used and began to speak almost immediately, his feet carrying him towards his rooms so that he could collect his equipment.
“Guys, we have someone to kill. Grab all your gear and meet me at the hangar. Narn, bring as many explosives as you can, preferably remote detonation stuff; I have a plan.”
Matching actions to words, Nadrin hurried his pace and reached his quarters shortly after, not wasting time once he was there for anything but collecting the equipment he felt might be necessary for the hunt ahead. His custom hand cannon was already in the holster at his hip, his lightsaber clipped to his belt at the small of his back before the Warlord grabbed a satchel and began to throw other things in there. Grenades and mines of various types, some vials of poisons that Sela had acquired for him and labelled very carefully after he had almost mixed one of them up with whiskey while far from sober, and various different types of slugs were all thrust into the bag with gusto. Zipping the bag closed, he hefted it in his left hand while grabbing his slugthrower sniper rifle and slipped it across his back, nodding at himself in the mirror that hung next to his mini ‘fresher suite.
Let’s rock this bitch.
“You know you aren’t meant to smoke in here right?”
Nadrin turned to Sela and simply arched an eyebrow, the expression causing the woman to shake her head and mutter obscenities to herself. Whereas normally Nadrin would wear his mask, he took it off when alone with his two Fades, feeling comfortable with the pair and knowing that they understood the significance of the gesture. Taking another drag of the cigarette, the Warlord pointed at the crude map that lay between the trio.
“So this is the place where Gale is probably holed up. Having looked at this guy’s dossier, he’s going to be very hard to kill, but I reckon with some trickery and a combination of a bunch of explosives and some good shooting we should be able to get him.”
“How powerful are we talking here?”
Nadrin suppressed a grimace, barely, and looked up at Narn as the big man sat watching him, his brow furrowed slightly with the intense look that he sometimes took on while he worked his way through problems.
“Think Teroch, but without his flare for the dramatic. This guy is better at hiding than I am too, so we need to be careful.”
This time the swear words were not muttered but instead filled the room, Sela uttering curses in several different languages while Narn sat back, his face creasing deeper into a grimace.
“Yeah, see why I wanted you guys here with me? Don’t want to die alone after all.”
Narn’s expression didn’t change, but he leaned forwards and steepled his hands in front of his face, his eyes fixed on the map in front of them and the various annotations that Nadrin had made during the build up to the briefing.
“So, we have a fighter who can hide, has an anger problem and has more pride than a Hutt. He’s got a stronger grasp of the Force than you have, and could fight any one of us blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back. He’s hiding out on a world that could give Hoth a run for it’s money in the ‘Cold hellhole’ stakes, and he has an entire Citadel to hide in.”
The Warlord took another drag of his cigarette before nodding in the affirmative, watching the other man carefully as he did so.
“Piece of cake.”
Sela looked as though she had just been slapped in the face with a dead pet, incredulity etched into her every feature.
“What the hell?!”
The larger man turned to the female member of the trio and pointed at the map that lay between them.
“Well, between my rugged good looks, your sparkling personality and Nadrin’s vast tactical acumen I don’t see how we could lose.”
Nadrin barked out a laugh and took another drag of his cigarette as Sela sat back in her seat and covered her face with her hands, the gesture muffling her voice as she spoke.
The small shuttle that the trio had appropriated from the Citadel before they had left set down gently in the tundra that covered most of the planet of Rhen Var, a handful of kilometres from the Citadel within which Gale was supposedly staying.
“Would have been so much easier to just come here with one of the capital ships and blast this place from orbit.”
Nadrin looked back at Sela and shrugged his shoulders slightly, his satchel held steady in his left hand as he trooped through the snow towards the distant Citadel.
“That was plan B to be honest with you, but I wanted to prove myself by doing this personally…with your help of course.”
No response came back as the trio made their way towards the nearby lip of the cliff that they had landed on, reaching the point quickly and setting down their various packs with some relief. Pulling some microbinoculars from his pack, Nadrin surveyed the Citadel that lay ahead of them, his eyes scanning for any signs of movement in the courtyard outside the tower. A minute slipped by before the young Warlord lowered the binoculars and turned back to the other two people who had accompanied him.
“No sign of anyone in the courtyard, but I’m not willing to admit that he won’t necessarily be aware of what’s happening nearby; rumour has it that this place was some sort of monitoring station during the Civil War and so it might still be operational. Either way, the plan is still the same as it was before until it needs changing, and then we have several contingency plans that we can fall back on if necessary. Sela, grab your rifle and get ready to set up a watch on the courtyard about half a klick out to cover the retreat, Narn make sure you’ve got everything I listed before in a single bag so that I don’t have to waste any time once I’m in the driving seat.”
Nadrin didn’t stop to watch the two Fades go about following his orders, instead settling himself into a seating position with his back pressed firmly against a nearby rock, his sniper rifle across his lap and the various types of ammo that he had brought with him arrayed across the snow-covered floor around him.
The other man nodded and Nadrin returned the gesture, settling back and allowing his mind to wander free from his body, calling the Force to himself as he did so and began to press himself upon the larger man’s consciousness. Whereas normally a person couldn’t take control of another person, not really anyway, Nadrin had worked excessively with Narn to enable himself to essentially take over the Fade’s body, using it as a vessel which the Warlord drove. He had first gotten the idea when he had been possessed by the spirit of his dead father Zandro, and after a while he had been able to work out a technique which allowed the hijacking, but only if the other person fully allowed it. So far, it had only ever properly worked with Narn but the Sith wasn’t overly worried about that fact as, in all fairness, if you could jump into a 7 foot tall walking behemoth, why bother with anyone else?
Right, I’m strapped into the safety harness and ready to drive. You there buddy?
Yeah, looking forward to the show.
Nadrin laughed, but the chuckle wasn’t his own. Instead of a medium pitched sound, a deep bass became the vessel of his mirth as a grin split the face of the body that he wore. He looked over at ‘himself’ and saw that he was slumped back against the rock rather than leaning forward and leading to inevitable backache, something he had learned the hard way several missions back.
“Right, Sela go take your position and make sure you cover my ass, I don’t want to get jumped by this Bothan asshole.”
His other Fade moved out immediately, gracefully descending the snow drifts and jagged rocks that stretched out between the cliff-edge they stood on and the Citadel ahead. Nadrin, in Narn’s body, was decidedly less elegant as he made his way haphazardly down towards the courtyard that was his destination. He eventually reached the expanse in front of the keep with nothing more than a pair of scrapes and a damp behind and the accompanying embarrassment from slipped on a hidden rock beneath the snow. Narn’s gruff laugh had echoed through the Sith’s mind as he clambered back to his feet, but the man was silent now as Nadrin looked up at the once-ornate statue of some long-dead Jedi Master that stood in the middle of the courtyard within which he stood. He allowed himself a moment of quiet contemplation before he plucked a mine from his bag and placed it on the floor between the statue and the smaller building to the South, priming the device before covering it with a smattering of snow to hide it.
Don’t forget where that is, I like my legs.
Nadrin ignored his Fade’s voice and plucked a remote explosive from the bag and placed it on the ceiling of the entryway to the building, priming the device and moving forwards, blaster pistol held loosely in his left hand just in case. The building that he walked into seemed to be some sort of watchpost, obviously meant to be used in tandem with the keep at the other end of the courtyard, and it looked disused and in great disrepair. Not prepared to trust first impressions, Nadrin moved quickly to seed the building with numerous remote explosives just in case their quarry were hiding within the building, or if he fled here at any point in the battle.
Right, the watch is on det 1 which means all the explosives I have left will be on det 2, which will be the keep itself.
Making his way quickly out of the building, Nadrin began to place mines sporadically across the courtyard between the watch and the keep, making sure to leave a path through that was safe to use on the way back to Sela and Nadrin’s body. As he made his way closer to the keep however, the Warlord began to feel a heavy watchfulness wash over him as something seemed to prod gently against the outside of his consciousness. Trying to shake the feeling away, the Sith began to place remote explosives in the entryway to the keep and it’s first room, a wide open expanse that was filled with scorch marks and the scattered detritus that normally lingered decades after a firefight. Even as he was making his way through the room and setting the bombs up, Nadrin felt the pushing feeling in his head get stronger, and it was as he was placing his seventh explosive that he felt as though he was being pushed and the distinctly unwelcome feeling of someone taking control of his body jolted him.
What the kriff?!
You opened the door Sith, I simply made use of the fact that your vessel’s guard was down. So, you come to kill me?
Narn, you need to cut the link, reject it now and get out!
A lurching sensation of weightlessness overwhelmed Nadrin as he felt himself reenter his own body, eyes opening with a start as he leapt to his feet and raised his wrist commlink to his mouth.
“Sela, Gale managed to hijack my link and take over Narn. I don’t know if he still has control, but we need to cover Narn coming back out and tag this guy if we can. First shot go for the chest, second shot is you high and me low, got it?”
Two clicks came over the commlink, an affirmative signal from Sela as half a kilometre away she took up a firing position, aiming at the entrance to the keep that Nadrin had ridden Narn’s body into only a handful of minutes before. Nadrin copied her actions up on the cliff where he had set up before, picking up the sniper rifle he brought with him and slamming a clip into the weapon, cocking the slugthrower and taking up a firing position. Looking through the scope of his weapon, the young Warlord worked to bring his breathing under control, burying the anger at being duped by his prey beneath the cold focus that sniping always required. Each breath was measured as he entered a trance-like state, his focus razor sharp as he watched the exit from the keep and kept his mental fingers crossed that his own brashness hadn’t cost his friend and companion his life.
Come on Narn, give me a present. Bring that guy out and we can hopefully end this now.
Something shifted in the entryway and Nadrin almost fired but held himself back as a figure burst out into the snow-filled courtyard at full tilt. The Sith tracked the figure and was pleased to see that it was Narn, although the other man looked a little bit shaken up and, more worryingly, was no longer carrying the bag that he had taken into the keep; the bag that had held most of their heavy ordinance.
Bringing his focus back to the entryway, Nadrin saw another figure emerge and the dual lightsabers that the person carried gave him away as the team’s target. As Gale ran out, the Erinos could tell that the Bothan’s normal speed was being augmented by the Force and that, if Sela and he didn’t intervene, Narn would be caught in a matter of seconds.
Nadrin held his breath, the sound of his heartbeat filling his head as he aimed down the scope of his rifle and took aim at the Jedi Master’s chest. With a wuff of released air his projectile fired off, followed closely by a blaster bolt from Sela’s position. Both shots were aiming at roughly the same area but from different angles and against any number of other enemies, one of the shots would have struck home and snuffed the enemy’s life out in an instant.
Gale had other ideas however.
In concert the Bothan’s lightsabers moved, sweeping up to catch the blaster bolt from Sela and parry it uselessly off to the side while also somehow managing to catch the slug that Nadrin had shot and causing it to disintegrate into nothingness.
Another heartbeat filled his ears as Nadrin moved his aim ever so slightly, diverting his attention from the Jedi’s chest to his left knee, letting out the breath he held as his finger squeezed the trigger and sent another projectile hurtling out. The Sith watched his shot slam into the Bothan’s kneecap and imagined the pain that it would cause even as he saw a bolt of crimson energy burst from Sela’s position towards the Master. Despite Gale’s obvious agony from being shot in the knee, he still managed to bring his lightsaber up to parry aside Sela’s shot while Narn continued to flee towards Nadrin’s position. The Sith brought his commlink up to his mouth and spoke quickly, rising as he did so.
“Switch position then continue firing, go!”
The Arconae reached out with the Force and used it to hide himself from view, wrapping the energy around himself like a cloak as he used a Force-augmented leap to jump off the cliff towards the snow-covered rocks below. Pushing down against the floor as he neared it, Nadrin slowed his momentum enough so as to only receive minor bruises upon landing that he swiftly pushed from his mind as he took up a firing position once more. However, it seemed that he hadn’t been the only person with the good sense to hide his location as Gale appeared to have simply disappeared from view, obviously using his own Force powers to render himself invisible.
“Spray and pray Sela, I have a plan. Narn, if you get back to the cliff, trigger the explosives.”
“He has the dets.”
The response almost made Nadrin lose his concentration and start cursing. Almost.
“I’ve got it.”
Nadrin looked through the scope of his slugthrower rifle and, ignoring the scarlet blasts from his female Fade, tried to remember where he had placed the mines in the courtyard near the keep. His memory raced as he slowly traced his weapon across the expanse within which he suspected Gale was still lurking.
Here goes nothing.
The Sith fired at the ground of the courtyard, watching snow puff up as his projectiles struck home and, on his third try, more than the snow leapt up as his shot struck true and the mine he had been aiming for exploded with gusto. Shrapnel and steam burst outwards, littering the landscape with minuscule slivers of furious metal but, more importantly, the explosion set off another of the mines on the courtyard. A chain reaction began as each mine set off more and the courtyard turned into something from a war holodrama while Nadrin watched, a sense of foreboding still prodding at his thoughts. Dropping his rifle to the ground, the Warlord unholstered his custom slugthrower pistol and began to move forward quickly, not trusting the Jedi Master they hunted to die quite that easily. He covered the distance to the courtyard quickly, his Force cloak still active to keep him hidden as the noise that had erupted from the mines slowly died away, leaving nothing but tension and uncertain silence in its wake.
I doubt he’s still at full strength, but I don’t think he’s dead yet; I need those detonators.
Satisfied that all of the mines were gone, Nadrin moved his way onto the courtyard and began to cross it slowly, reaching out with his Force senses in an effort to locate his prey as he advanced. His steps were measured but quick as he closed in on the keep where Narn’s bag with the detonators was located, his pistol held in front of him as the Sith moved closer. He entered the entryway to the building and slowed his pace slightly, creeping forwards as his eyes darted left and right as he took in his surroundings. The building looked much as it had before, albeit from about a foot and a half below the level he had seen it at when he had been in control of Narn’s body.
“You shouldn’t have come here Sith. That trick with the mines won’t work a second time, will it?”
The voice seemed to echo from somewhere above and to the right of Nadrin and he flicked his eyes in that direction as he continued his slow creep towards the bag that lay on the floor a dozen metres away from him.
Nadrin you fool, you’re caught like a rat in a trap.
A chuckle echoed through out the room, harsh and mocking as a single yellow lightsaber blade plunged into existence by the bag that the Sith had been moving towards.
“Now now, you really think I would let you have these? No no, I will not be dying today.”
The blade began to descend and Nadrin instinctively pulled the bag towards him with the Force, yanking it away from the lightsaber and grabbing it out of the air when it reached him. A feeling of dread descended upon him mere milliseconds later however when he realised the implications of what he had just done as a surge of energy blasted towards him from somewhere to his left. The Sith dropped the Force cloak he had been hiding with as he tried to call the Force to himself once more, willing it to deflect away the telekinetic blast and gaining partial success at least. The strike, which should have knocked him off his feet and into the nearby wall instead only winded him and sent him scooting back a step or two, but it was enough. Even as Nadrin made to rise up fully, a furred humanoid shimmered into existence before him and stabbed forward with a single golden lightsaber. The blade pierced the Warlord’s left shoulder with ease, pain bursting from the wound and almost clouding the Sith’s mind as Gale leered up at Nadrin, hate glinting in his eyes as he looked at the Dark Jedi.
“Pathetic, they send someone like you after someone like me and expect you to succeed?”
Nadrin, his nerves on fire, tried to throw a feeble punch with his left hand that the Jedi caught with contemptuous ease, and with Force enhanced strength the Bothan began to squeeze the Arconae’s captured hand. More pain raced through Nadrin’s mind and he knew that he had to act, he had to do something to try to win. He couldn’t die like this, he wouldn’t die like this.
It was then that he remembered the slug pistol in his right hand.
Letting his head drop to look at the ground, Nadrin’s mind forced itself to do rapid calculations despite the pain that racked his body and, pointing his weapon at a point on the floor, he fired. The shot ricocheted perfectly off the polished marble that covered the floor of the keep within which the two humanoids stood and rebounded up into the crotch of the Bothan. An animal howl of intermingled anger and pain rent the air as the Jedi Master let go of Nadrin and stepped back, pulling his lightsaber free of the Sith as he did so. The Arconae brought his pistol up and fired again, the weapon bucking in his hand as the shot slammed into the Jedi’s stomach. With a sound like a cannon the gun fired again and Gale spun partway around as a plume of dark blood spurted from his right shoulder. Nadrin used the Force as a battering ram, slamming a wave of compacted energy into the Bothan and throwing him backwards and into the floor. Nadrin’s breath came ragged as he felt his strength dwindling, but he knew that he needed to finish the man before he could allow himself to work on his own recovery. He staggered forwards, bringing his pistol into line with the Jedi’s face as he advanced.
“You have been weighed, measured, and found wanting. Usenye chakaar.”
The shot rang out and Nadrin repressed the urge to empty the contents of his stomach at the sight of what had once been Gale’s face. Instead he holstered his pistol, grabbed the bag that he had come for in the first place and stumbled his way out into the courtyard. The sunlight dazzled him as he emerged and he saw his Fade’s running towards him full pelt as he meandered his way towards them. Sela reached him first, her face set in a mask of concern as she examined the wound in Nadrin’s shoulder but he shooed her away with a gesture.
“Not now, we need to get up to the ship, blow the ruins and get to space, then I can worry about my injuries.”
The woman nodded and snatched the bag out of his hand as Narn reached them and slipped an arm under Nadrin’s, supporting him as the trio made their way back to the cliff from which they had started their operation.
The destruction of the Citadel on Rhen Var had been, in hindsight, a bit overkill, but Nadrin didn’t care about that. He had been a bit too preoccupied with tolerating Sela’s tutting field-medic act while he used his last vestiges of energy to try and deal with some of the damage he had sustained by using the Force to fix some of the injuries. Narn had dealt with the flight back to the Arcona Citadel while Nadrin had rested, and the Warlord was once more struck by the loyalty his two companions exhibited time and time again. He knew that he would have been dead long before now if it wasn’t for Sela and Narn, and he also knew that they would save his life again.
His dreams, when he finally slept, were fitful and not overly restful and Nadrin was more than a bit relieved when the trio arrived back at the Citadel if for nothing more than the prospect of some actual medic’s and the sedatives that they would invariably have for him. Before that though, he had to contact that Commissioner and let him know that the mission was complete. It was for this reason that he found himself in the dungeons of Arcona’s power hub, approaching a door within which several men exchanged insults and ideas.
He’s good at his job, Marick might get pissed if I shot him.
Swallowing anger than had more than a bit to do with the pain that still lingered within his battered body, Nadrin walked through the door and turned to face the man sat at the desk in the room.
“It’s done, he’s dead.”
The Onderonian merely arched an eyebrow, smoke rising lazily from the paper-wrapped cylinder in his mouth, obviously waiting for some sort of further explanation. His associate, the one who had pushed Nadrin out of the door when he had received the mission, was more verbose in his desire for more information.
“That’s it, not gonna tell us how it went down?”
Nadrin turned to glare at the other man, making a concerted effort to keep his hands from balling into fists.
“He stabbed me in the shoulder, I shot him in the face and then blew his corpse to whatever hell he believed in. Now, I need to go and get some bacta and some sedatives.”
The Arconae turned on his heel and walked towards the door, pausing as he stood within it’s frame before half turning back towards the man not sat at the desk.
“By the way, try to push me around with the Force again and I’ll force-feed you your own intestines.”
Without waiting for a reply, the Warlord stalked away towards the nearest turbolift; it was time for him to go see a man about some drugs.