A read-only archive of discourse.darkjedibrotherhood.com as of Sunday May 01, 2022.

[Tides of Change] Co-op Fiction - Team 12


The Best Laid Plans

A Tides of Change Co-Op Fiction

SC Seridan Brehevik, 13767
SBL Terran Koul, 91

Note: Post 7 (Message 8 in this thread) was written collaboratively by both Seridan and Terran.

  • PoV #1 and #3 are by Seradin
  • PoV #2 and #4 are by Terran

Yhi System
New Tython Orbit
The Gentleman Bastard

“Guhaw maw ohyah?”

Terran pressed his palm to his forehead and reminded himself, yet again, that she was just concerned with his wellbeing. “Don’t worry, Issh, I’ll be fine. I’ve got this under control.”

“Wwwah rrroooaaah wha, grumaw khan,” she grunted, a note of reproval creeping into her gutteral tones.

“No, you don’t need to remind me what happened on Bothawui. I was the one they were shooting at, remember?”

“Woogaah. Huu hawaaaah hoooghhe waagh!”

“Sure, but you were surrounded by two meters of hull plating at the time. That doesn’t count!”

The Wookiee, one of his only friends over the past few years, just stared at him. She had risked her life to save his dozens of times. His remark was unfair and he knew it. That didn’t make it any easier to retract, though. Silence fell between the two, punctuated only by the chugging of the environmental system pushing more stale air into the ship’s cargo hold. Unable to hold her eyes any longer, the Kiffar turned back towards the airlock door and started fussing with the buckles and fasteners on his hermetic suit. While his fingers worked automatically, checking and rechecking the seals, he did a quick inventory of the items laid out on the table beside the airlock. Satisfied that everything had been accounted for, he walked over to the table and began transferring the gear to the suit’s pouches one-by-one. Finally, he spoke.

“Look, you know I have to do this. We won’t be able to get anywhere near our bounty until the Sightless Wonder trusts us. Right now, she doesn’t. We’re too much of an unknown. If I pull this off, it’ll put us one step closer to her inner circle. Particularly if I can pull it off in a spectacular fashion. Chicks dig spectacles. Especially blind ones.”

The Wookiee’s only response was a hrmph of dissatisfaction. A squeaky chorus of grunts from the cockpit suggested she wasn’t alone in that opinion.

“How much attention do you think a Wookiee Mandalorian is going to attract? Or an Ewok with an assault cannon? This job is going to be enough of a pain in the ass as it is. The last thing I need when I’m trying to be covert is to draw more eyes to me. I’ll be fine. My plans always work.”

“Aaaarrr wgh ggwaaah. Grrraooowww gruhhh…”

“Sure, the Gentleman Bastard could stay in low orbit and tail me, but what would be the point? This Seridan bloke is supposed to be bringing the ship we’ll use to shuttle the Tythonian council off planet. If we need to evac, we can do it in that.”

With his gear secured in the suit’s many pockets, Terran grabbed his helmet, opened the airlock and stepped in. Isshwarr’s face was resolute, and the Kiffar had known her long enough to know that she was one wrong word away from pinning him to the deck and sitting on him until he reconsidered. Time to make my exit, then.

“Besides, someone has to keep an eye on Little Miss Rainbow Sparkles while she’s getting the fleet blown up. If she dies, our job’s as good as busted. I’ll radio you when the Jedi and I are outbound from the Capitol. Shouldn’t be more than a few hours. Four, tops.”

Throwing the Wookiee a quick mock-salute, he hit a button on the airlock’s inner control panel and pulled the suit’s helmet into place, hearing the satisfying click-hiss that signalled a solid seal and feeling the brush of canned oxygen washing across his face. Then the airlock door whooshed open and he was pulled outward into space.

A quick nudge from the directional thrusters on his suit’s back reoriented him headfirst towards the planet below. He pressed a few buttons on the suit’s control panel, conveniently strapped to his left arm, and the thrusters in his suit’s boots kicked in, rocketing him forwards. The HUD on his helmet’s faceplate reported his altitude and time to destination. Both were within tolerances. In the distance, he could almost, maybe see the faintest outline of the mountains that bordered Menat Ombo. If he squinted.

It was going to be a long fall.


Yhi System
Above Menat Ombo
Fey’lya’s Wart

The small cabin of the shuttle was designed for thirty men at maximum capacity, though at this moment, it held only one. Seridan imagined the space being cramped, hot and sweaty, the conditions made even worse by the protective durasteel lining. The metal would get warm, reflecting heat, and be unforgiving and uncomfortable to sit against. Though, with only one person in the cabin, the metal was cold to the touch. A refreshing coolness after the heat of a long battle. Seridan’s muscles were relishing the respite. After the intense fighting onboard Sanctuary, he really didn’t want to feel fatigued as he carried out his mission.

Periodically, a deep boom reverberated through the hull of the ship. Each time, Seridan would wince and hope that it wasn’t one of the Alliance’s ships. They had already lost too many.

Outside the viewport, clouds rushed past, the fluffy bits of water-vapour hiding the intense fire fight that went on above. The intense red flashes were somewhat dulled, so even the brightest burst only came out as a dim pink. There were a number of birds flying around, but far less than usual. At one point, he saw a lone black form plummeting towards the planet, but it was too small to be an escape pod. Seridan just assumed it to be some sort of diving predator.

It would appear the sky is completely covered with clouds, Seridan observed. The people of Menat Ombo can’t even see the battle. No wonder they’re not rioting.

It was quite an anticlimax, really. The people of New Tython, the planet they were protecting, were largely unaware of the severity of the battles that raged overhead, nor the strength and power of the enemy. They would be able to hear the explosions, surely, but without visual proof, they wouldn’t be worried. The (Dark) Jedi of Odan-Urr and Arcona, along with the combined military forces of both, were laying down their lives and most of the people planetside were ignorant of the actual threat. Defeat was a real possibility - when Seridan had left his post, the combined fleet hadn’t gained any significant advantage.

Either way, the battle would soon be fought planetside. The O’reen’s shuttles had a few minutes’ head start on Seridan, but he had an advantage: he knew Menat Ombo. He didn’t know their numbers, nor their strengths, but he knew their goals. With swift action, such situations could be won easily. He would have happily been on one of the teams that hunted down the O’reenian landing forces, but he had a more specific task. The leaders of New Tython’s government had to be extracted in case assassination or kidnapping were attempted. He was sure of himself, but until he worked with him, the Arconan ‘ambassador’ was a liability. The few Sentinel Network Intel reports on him were vague. According to SeNet, he was supposed to be skilled, and principled, but also fairly shady. That combination had potential for great things, but it was also a hair’s breadth from genocidal insanity. Seridan knew all about that. Without further information on him, Seridan had to accept that things could go badly.

New Tython
Menat Ombo
Undisclosed Warehouse

The shuttle touched down with a solid thump. The metal floor thunked softly with each step, and the ramp hissed as it lowered. The perpetual hum of the city flooded the cabin, though it was different from normal, slightly off-key. Instead of haggling taxi-drivers, or heckling criers, there were more mutters than usual, more anxiety.

Good. Anxiety will keep them on their toes.

The city’s din grew softer, then muted, as the warehouse’s roof retracted, sealing in the shuttle. SeNet had reported that the location was secure, but Seridan still gave the instrument panel a quick once-over. It paid to be cautious in his line of work. Seeing only a single lifesign in the warehouse, the Sentinel nodded and headed aft. After a quick check that he had everything he needed, he headed down the shuttle’s ramp to rendezvous with Terran.

His first impressions of Terran were, like his earlier thoughts, somewhat ambiguous. Terran Koul appeared quite self-assured, confident in his abilities. He didn’t seem cocky, though, or arrogant. Seridan got the feeling that he knew his limitations, but sometimes (or often) exceeded them for fun. Not the genocidal maniac that he could have been, but not perfect either.

But that’s just first impressions, Seridan chided himself. Learn to be more open-minded, fool!

As Seridan neared the Kiffar, Terran raised his head with a tinge of indifference, his own eyes slowly scanning Seridan.

After a brief pause as the two men sized each other up, Seridan gestured towards the city’s center. “Shall we be off, then?”


New Tython
Menat Ombo
Visulu Marketplace

Men and women bustled through the streets of the Tythonian capitol, darting in and out of the shops that lined the busy city thoroughfares or hustling past street vendors hawking their wares. This far away, the shrieks and booms of battle raging around Sanctuary were inaudible. Hovercabs carried passengers to and fro, occasionally backing up traffic and causing congestion two or even three blocks away. More than a dozen species went about their business, running errands or visiting friends and relatives. Yet Terran sensed something off-kilter in the rhythm of the crowd.

“They know.”

“Beg your pardon?” Seridan replied, swiveling his head so one ear pointed directly at Terran.

I’m never going to get used to them not looking when someone speaks, no matter how much sense it makes. the Kiffar swept his gaze across the crowd as he repeated himself. “I said, they know. About the battle.”

“Unlikely. The Alliance council wouldn’t release details, not when it would simply cause a panic to no avail. No, they’d keep word of the attack under wraps until the situation has been handled.”

Frakking Jedi. “Look, I know you feel it. The unease. The restlessness. Or better yet, look around and tell me how many children you see, or how many lovers out for a stroll in this beautiful weather. None. Because they know. Even if it’s unconscious, they know well enough to stay indoors unless they have business elsewhere.”

The Miraluka missed a step as he considered Terran’s words. Lips pursed in thought, he seemed to be replaying the last half hour of their foot trek through Menat Ombo. Finally, he nodded in acquiescence. “You might have a point, Arconan. But what difference does it make?”

“Maybe none,” Terran murmured, half to himself. “Maybe.”

Then the whine of blaster fire erupted from his right. Hot contrails of crimson and jade burned through his vision and he felt a Force-fueled shove from the Miraluka throw him to the ground. A twist of his wrist activated the spring-loaded sheath in his right gauntlet and his lightsaber leapt to hand, snap-hissing to life. Pressing his palms against the grit and gravel of the road, Terran pushed with his arms and his mind. Launching himself upwards and flipping sideways through the air, he narrowly evaded the gray, armored boot that slammed into the ground his head had just evacuated. He landed, out of breath but with his knees bent and his blue-white blade angled between him and their attackers.

There were a dozen and a half of them, all armored and armed with aged, if serviceable, blaster rifles. They all wore the seal of the Colonial Alliance Militia.

With a weary, half-amused glance at Seridan, he shrugged his shoulders. “And maybe we’ll need every edge we can get.” Sweeping the ground around them with his consciousness, Terran located a few dozen slug-sized rocks and latched onto them.

“I hate being right.”

New Tython
Menat Ombo
Palace District

“There is no way this is going to work.”

“It was your plan!” snapped Seridan, exasperation plain beneath the fatigue in his voice.

As roughly three hundred civilians mobbed the steps of the capitol building, Terran ducked his head back around the alley’s corner and turned towards his Odan-Urr confederate. “What’s your point?”

“That you-aggh!” the Miraluka’s words devolved into a snarl as he spun away from the Arconan. “Forget it. We have a job to do.”

“That’s more like it,” chortled the Kiffar, peeking back around the mouth of the alley. “Enough of this quitter talk.” He couldn’t see the Sentinel’s face, but he imagined it was bordering on apoplectic. There were days he truly loved being him.

Smothering his grin, he eyed the crowd in the distance as they overflowed the stairs and began filling the plaza as well. A hundred voices in over a dozen languages hurled questions and accusations at the gray-armored soldiers posted around the capitol’s main entrance. With blasters unholstered and transparisteel impact shields raised, the scene had all the makings of a run-of-the-mill riot. Not a bad turnout considering we only bribed a dozen or so street vendors to spread the word. Nothing gets people riled up like new taxes. His eyes locked onto a well-dressed, middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair and a respectable beard. A successful merchant, as like as not. Probably a member of the PTA or the Town Assembly. Perfect. The man was near the front of the crowd, a few rows back from the soldiers.

Waving Seridan over and gesturing towards the target with one of his WESTAR-35’s, Terran bit his lip thoughtfully before nodding to himself. “Yeah, that’s the one right there. One solid bolt to the heart should do it. Then, when the confusion starts and the rear guard comes around to back up the soldiers at the front entrance, we can slip in through the gardens.”

Seridan looked out at the graying man, uncertainty plain on his sharp features. “Are you sure? I’m still inclined to go for one of the guards. Targeting unarmed civilians seems…questionable.”

“Look, I’ve started my share of riots. Some of them were even on purpose. It’s a powderkeg out there. One spark and this whole place will explode. You could try the guard, but if they’re anything like the squad we cut through a few miles back, they’ll be well trained and unlikely to panic. That makes the crowd our target.”

“Fine,” Seridan muttered, raising a fist and letting off a burst of telepathic impulse at their target.

The well-dressed gentleman, emotions stoked by Seridan’s Force-fed manipulations, pushed his way to the forefront of the civilians and turned to face them.

“Are we going to stand for this?”

His voice cut through the cacophony of the gathered masses, and their answering shout was nearly deafening. Then the crowd surged forward, rushing the soldiers.

The Sentinel turned back towards his unlikely Sith accomplice, wary acknowledgement painted across his face.

The brown-haired Arconan just grinned at him, “See? My plans always work.”

As he spun away from the Miraluka and jogged briskly towards the end of the alley and the intersection beyond, Terran wondered just how close Seridan had been to pounding the grin from his face.


New Tython
Menat Ombo
Council’s Bunker

At first, the militia’s riot shields rang with a particular rhythm, as if the civilians were charging in a coordinated manner or in unison. However, Seridan found that pure chaos and uncertainty weren’t very good for coordination. The heavy thumps and the general uproar that came from the square was a disordered cacophony of noise and anger. The walls of the bunker were thick enough that any external noise was heavily muffled, but the sharp zing of blaster fire was still audible. Seridan winced - he hoped it hadn’t been fatal. His conscience was wearing thin, and another death would bring it closer to the breaking point.

The durasteel walls were polished, with no dents, sear-marks or grime. Such luxury would never be seen in a Jedi practice room. A practice room this clean would be laughed at, sneered the Sentinel to himself. Any respectable sparring room ought to be a bit beat up. Of course, it had never seen action or battle before, but the lack of dust was impressive. They approached two doors, one on the left and one straight ahead. The one on the left was securely closed, but the other was partially ajar - a thin light shone from the edges. If he strained his ears, he could hear the mumble of voices ahead.

Terran, the irreverent Arconan, was a few paces ahead, and the Miraluka couldn’t help wondering if he might be enjoying himself a bit too much. Ever since the riot started, he’d had that smirk on his face. Sure, he wasn’t a genocidal maniac, but he still wasn’t a Knight in grey armour, either. The Kiffar pushed the door open, revealing a pleasantly furnished room. The lighting was much brighter than the hallway’s, casting long shadows down the metal corridor. As Terran entered with Seridan close behind, the voice stopped. Inside the large chamber, there were roughly thirty people, comprising all the councillors, their aides and advisors. Around the edge of the room, Seridan noted that there were just over a dozen guards, keeping a close eye on the doorways and council-folk.

All of the planet’s leaders save one were seated at tables. The man standing up had a datapad in his hand, likely checking the situation above. He was probably the one who had been speaking. The Sentinel had expected more of the people in the room to be in contact with the leaders onboard Sanctuary, but they were now all looking at the newcomers with worried expressions. They were all tense, and after a moment, their eyes began darting around the room.

“Excuse me, but who are you?” demanded the man standing in front of the assembled councilors, his voice a pitifully high-pitched whine. He had a frown on his face, his thick brows screwed together in frustration.

“Well, you see here, I’m Seridan, and this is Terran, our emissary from Arcona. Our Summits told us to evacuate you to the Last Stand. We–”

“Basically, we’re here to rescue you guys,” Terran interrupted with a cocky grin, earning a sharp glare from Seridan.

The standing man winced at the mention of Arcona, but seemed to instantly recover. He wore a smile, though it looked fake even by Seridan’s standards. “Why didn’t you say you were Jedi? Come in and join us,” he started, circling behind the Miraluka and herding them further into the room.

“Sir, we can’t delay. I don’t know how much you know, but we’re losing the space battle. O’reenian forces have landed and we need to get you off-planet before they get to you.”

A few of the guards started fidgeting, eyeing the Jedi pair strangely. There was a dull thunk as the door closed shut behind them. The Miraluka whirled around incredulously, to find the standing man with a stun-baton in his hand and a somewhat foreboding sparkle in his eye.

“Why would I want to leave before the O’reenians get here?” inquired the minister, a sardonic grin on his face.

Suddenly it all fit into place. The other council-folks’ urgent eye contact, the eerie stiffness with which they sat, the guards’ fidgeting. The Sentinel raised his unlit lightsaber to his side and waggled it between his second and third finger. Looking towards Terran for confirmation, Seridan was about to ask who the man thought he was. Before he could open his mouth, he was knocked down by the Kiffar, narrowly avoiding a point-blank bolt to the head. The Kiffar was on his feet again amazingly fast, his lightsaber appearing from his sleeve, elegantly igniting in time to deflect another bolt back to its owner. Before he got shot at again, Seridan climbed to his feet. The councillors cowered around him, ducking so that their heads didn’t go above table-height.

Practised fingers ignited his blade and he turned to face the nearest guard. Adrenaline filled his bloodstream for the second time that day and, for a moment, he forgot his lingering exhaustion. Steeling his resolve, he leapt forward and attacked. The guards he fought were not equipped for close-quarters combat. However the proximity of civilian hostages, as well as the range and number of guards, meant that the two Force-wielders had to reign in their every strike.

Seridan tried not to kill the guards. He aimed to only injure or maim. It became, Seridan reflected, a continuous process. He would deflect blaster fire, then slash at the guard closest to him. He’d then move on to the next one and it would all begin again. However, that strategy couldn’t last for long.

The Scout had downed three or four men and the ex-Jensaarai, blaster now drawn in his left hand, seemed to have killed a good number as well. The guards, obviously seeing the flaw in their ‘point and shoot’ strategy, changed tactics. The female guard furthest away from the Jedi grabbed the High Councillor of Vard Mislu and pressed the muzzle of her DL-44 against the Councillor’s temple. Clearly copying a senior officer, another guard pressed his blaster into the small of a Harakoan’s back.

“Give up. Now,” the guard growled.

The Miraluka deflected one last bolt into the ceiling before coming to a stop. He glanced at Terran, who also stood motionless. Seridan searched for a way forward, but even telekinesis could cause innocent deaths. Terran had shown impeccable marksmanship, but even with the Force he was only so fast. At least one of the hostages would likely end up dead. Even if they could down both of the hostage-takers, the remaining guards could start firing into the crowd. If there’s a good strategy here, Seridan thought as his sweat-soaked blindfold pressed against his empty eye sockets, I can’t see it.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the traitorous minister ram his stun baton into Terran’s solar plexus, causing him to cry out. Seridan was about to protest, but a searing pain in the small of his back burned the words out of him. It danced across his flesh, electrifying his muscles and making it near-impossible to speak. His legs gave out and he fell to the floor. He saw, more than felt, the minister’s boot smash into his abdomen. As blackness obscured his vision, the other guards were crowding around him and the Kiffar, bloodthirsty looks in their eyes.


New Tython
Menat Ombo
Council’s Bunker

The darkness crawled slowly back from his vision like a wave washing steadily out to sea, receding in the face of his returning consciousness. Then he took a breath, and the screech of his ribcage shredded the fog in his brain. His throat tried to yowl involuntarily but his mouth was so dry he nearly swallowed his own tongue. He grasped for the Force like a drowning man flailing for a nearby buoy, reckless and shaken. It flooded him, filled him, and he could think. It wasn’t that the pain vanished or even diminished. He still hurt. Everywhere. It just became much, much easier to ignore.

Shaking his head, Terran willed his eyes to open. They responded slowly, the gritty feeling of sandpaper dragged across the corners was enough to tell him that he’d been unconscious for several hours at the least. The room was small and bare, made from what appeared to be local fieldstone mortared together haphazardly. The walls were unrelieved brown, broken only by a durasteel door to his right. It was a cell. A depressing cell. And this floor is about to freeze my butt right off.

Terran tried to climb to his feet, only then realizing that he was immobilized. A pair of beskar cuffs encircled his wrists, with another clasped around his ankles. A chain ran from one to the other, with the end closest his feet attached to a durasteel ring on the floor. Out of sheer force of habit, he wrapped the loose links around his fist and drew deeply on the Force. Suffusing the muscles of his arms and thighs and back, Terran hauled on the chain, willing it to break. The beskar-wrought restraints resisted and Terran pulled harder. His muscles burned with the strain and he pulled harder still.

Then his fingers, slick with the sweat of effort, slipped through the chains and he careened backwards. The back of his skull cracked against the brown stone wall and he slipped bonelessly to the floor.

“You know I already tried that, right?”

The voice crackled like dried leaves and Terran turned to his left to follow it. Seridan, robes disheveled and face bruised like a week-old peach, sat there grinning at him.

“You might have mentioned it,” muttered the Kiffar irritably.

“What can I say? I truly thought you might succeed.”

The Miraluka’s feigned innocence set Terran’s teeth on edge and he struggled to bite back his retort. Overcome your obstacles first, he thought, still able to hear the Saarai-kaar’s voice the first time she had chided him on his priorities. There will be time for admonishments later. If you survive. She had told him that more than once. Far more.

With an exasperated sigh, the Arconan appraised his own condition. He didn’t feel as if anything was broken. Except maybe my skull… His pants and shirt were torn and singed, but still more or less intact. They had taken his jacket, though, and his gloves. His holsters were conspicuously absent as well. A second glance at Seridan showed him to be in much the same shape.

Throat still painfully dry, Terran bit down on the tip of his tongue. Saliva filled his mouth and he swallowed once, and then again, before his vocal chords felt closer to paper than cardboard. “Any idea how long we’ve been in here?” he asked, struggling to keep the irritation out of his voice.

The Sentinel shrugged his shoulders as much as his restraints would allow. “At least an hour since I woke. I’m guessing they roughed you up worse than me. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.”

“An hour? A frakking hour and you didn’t wake me?”

“Face like that, I figured you needed your beauty rest. Besides, you’re the one who got us into this in the first place.”

“Me?” exploded Terran, his outrage at the lost time, and at the situation in general, finally bubbling over. “How in the name of Palpatine’s butthole did you plot that trajectory?”

“Simple,” retorted Seridan, his composure finally cracking. “If you had taken out that traitorous minister like I said, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

“Like you said? You didn’t say a kriffin’ thing!”

“I gave you the signal!”

“What signal?” exclaimed Terran. The words tore into his tattered throat, each syllable agony, but he was beyond caring.

Seridan gestured in response, waggling the second and third finger of his right hand from side to side.

“That’s not a signal!”

“That’s always been the signal!”

Terran stared at him for several heartbeats, close-mouthed and disbelieving, before finally replying. When he spoke, his voice was deadpan, but it held a galaxy of recrimination. “And I’m supposed to know that how?”

“Oh…” the Odanite’s voice was one part embarrassment, two parts stubbornness. He opened his mouth to continue, but Terran cut him off.

“Besides, I wouldn’t even be on this frakking planet if you Jedi could handle your own affairs,” despite his own ambivalence towards Jedi, the Kiffar turned the title into a sneer, twisting it like an accusation.

“You think we wanted this? We were being attacked. Our people were being slaughtered!”

“Exactly!” Terran was in it now, and the retorts flew like bolts from a blaster carbine. “You secluded yourselves. Held yourselves apart, superior. You insulated yourselves from the galaxy, proud of your ideals…” He let the words hang in the air for several seconds, the tension building. “But the second the path gets rocky, you drop them and call the kriffing Shadow Clan for help.”

“Do you despise us because we’re Jedi or because we inconvenienced you?” the derision in Seridan’s voice was plain, quashing the petulance beneath it.

Terran snorted, dismissing both options with a wave of his shackled hands. “Neither. I despise you for being hypocrites.”

For a brief moment there was silence. Then Seridan laughed.

His still-parched throat roughened the sound, like water crashing over gravel, but it was still a laugh. Terran raised a quizzical eyebrow, and the Miraluka eventually managed to gather himself enough to respond.

“But…” replied Seridan, struggling to form words around the laughter, “you’re a Bounty Hunter. A. Jensaarai. Bounty Hunter.”

A dozen responses raced through Terran’s mind, ferocious and flippant and furious vying for the lead. He wanted to defend himself, his choices, his life. Failing that, he wanted to tear down the Sentinel, tear down his beliefs. Instead, he found himself laughing as well.

“Well, you know…there’s only so many lines of work that being an exiled Jensaarai prepares you for.”

Just like that, the tension broke, and the pair laughed even harder.

With a final, good-natured chuckle, Seridan’s expression turned serious. “So then, what now?”

“I don’t know. We escape, somehow. And quickly. If we’re too long overdue my crew is bound to come looking.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“It is,” muttered Terran, half to himself. “Isshwarr and Kolot would never let me hear the end of it.”

The Miraluka sat there quietly, staring at the wall, but Terran could feel him scanning the room through the Force, hunting for anything that might help them escape. After a moment, he glanced over to the Arconan. “The ring on the floor that the chains connect to…it feels different than the rest of the metal.”

“It is,” replied the Kiffar, realizing that the difference so apparent to him would be much harder to notice without seeing the difference in color. “The chains and cuffs are made of beskar. The ring looks to be some type of low-grade durasteel.”

“Well, we know we can’t pull it free. I spent a good ten minutes tugging on it with the Force and it barely even wiggled. It’s anchored too deep. Can you, I don’t know, disintegrate it?”

It took Terran a moment to grasp that the Odanite was suggesting he use Shock on the piece of metal to weaken it.

“I could. If I didn’t mind the chain conducting the electrostatic discharge right back into me and probably frying my central nervous system.”

“So then,” replied Seridan coyly, “I take it that’s a ‘no’?”

Terran considered it briefly. “Let’s put it under the ‘maybe’ column.”

The Kiffar pondered for a few more seconds, biting his lip in concentration, before finally speaking again. “But maybe there’s a way. How good are you at heali—”

A cacophony of blaster fire and primal warcries came from beyond the door, cutting him off before he could finish. Terran could feel the guards — easy to differentiate from the hostages by their emotions — grow startled, then angry, then worried. For nearly half a minute the sound of superheated plasma searing through the air continued unabated, punctuated only by the screams of the wounded and the occasional beastial howl. The number of guards Terran sensed in the adjoining room dropped one by one. Then there was silence.

“Kark me!” Terran groaned, slouching over to bury his face in his hands.

“What’s wrong? Someone killed the guards. That’s a good thing?”


“Ok,” replied Seridan, confusion evident in his voice. “But, why not?”

“Because,” answered Terran, as the durasteel door’s lock tumbled loudly, “that means the calvary showed up. And, as I said—”

“Wgha ryuraygu yuhahyrrararr.” High-pitched growls cut him off as the cell’s door swung open to reveal a meter tall figure in mismatched armor. The furry Ewok carried an assault cannon nearly as long as he was tall, and the look in his too-dark eyes spoke volumes.

“I’m never going to hear the end of this.”

A second growl, this one deeper and filled with enough bass to rattle his broken ribs, sounded from the room outside the cell.



New Tython
Menat Ombo
Council’s Bunker

The strange, blood-covered Ewok walked over to Terran, chuckling in his odd, warbling voice, and produced an elaborate, blood-stained key.

Seridan glanced at Terran, eyebrow raised. His question was clear: Where did the blood come from?

The ex-Jensaarai chuckled. “My friends aren’t the most inconspicuous. They have a certain way of finding the things they want, and Kolot’s methods in particular usually involve…blood of some sort.”

Kolot turned the key in their shackles, particularly enjoying himself when unlocking Terran’s.

“Don’t you have anything better to do, Ko?” Terran chided, rubbing the blood back into this wrists. “Come on. Let’s get going.”

The Ewok led them through to the next room, where a similarly blood-covered Wookiee stood among a fair number of corpses. The council-folk, most of whom were still cowering despite their captors’ deaths, had begun to raise their heads from their laps. The Wookiee burst into a roar of laughter when she saw the purple welts on Terran’s face. The Ewok walked over to his two meter counterpart and mumbled something unintelligible. It only added fuel to the fire, judging by the way the Wookiee sauntered over and mockingly patting Terran’s head. The Kiffar swiped her hand away, a sour look on his face. The Sentinel presumed this to be Isshwarr and Kolot, the Arconan’s somewhat infamous crew.

The councillors had started to talk amongst themselves, though they still looked wary of the blood covering their rescuers’ mismatched clothing. The guards on the floor had an unlikely assortment of death wounds. Some had blaster burns, and others had stabs and slashes, blood still seeping out. The traitor’s neck had been sliced open and his nose practically flattened by blunt-force trauma. Upon closer inspection, he had a depression in his chest, with one or two really gory bits in his shirt where his ribs looked to have punctured the skin.

Quite a few broken ribs, it seems, he thought. Did he deserve this? He was likely only angry because we allied with our past enemies. I can understand that. I may not have been here when they attacked, but I witnessed the chaotic aftermath of Arcona’s invasion. I should be more wary of them. But still, Seridan nudged the body with the toe of his boot, he held hostages, beat us up, and I can’t see how he would have held up in court.

One of the councillors coughed, reminding the Miraluka of his purpose. He nodded to Terran and the pair started rousing and reassuring the councillors. As Seridan got the council members back onto their feet, Terran began fiddling with a secured locker next to the cell’s door. After nearly a minute of fussing with it in ever-increasing agitation - and twice turning down the Wookiee’s offers to help - the Arconan began cursing loudly. Apparently beyond caring about finesse, he discharged a bolt of electrostatic energy into the locking mechanism. The door sprang open with a soft chick and Terran’s cocky grin returned.

“See?” he asked the Wookiee pointedly as he began to pull his weapons and coat from within. “I told you, I’ve got this.”

The Wookiee - Isshwarr?, Seridan wondered to himself - just shook her head and guffawed quietly. Quietly, at least, for a Wookiee.

The Sentinel walked over to the locker and retrieved his own gear, briefly considering the feasibility of leading the rescued councilors back to his shuttle through the streets of Menat Ombo. He just as quickly dismissed it. He had to assume the other guards in this area were also corrupt, which left him at the mercy of Terran and his crew. Hopefully whatever beat-up hunk of junk they’re flying is space-worthy.

The councillors were still on edge, as only Seridan had a certain allegiance to them. Most of them had a dark history with Arcona that left them wary, and rightly so. Still, they accepted their freedom and thanked the ragtag group of rescuers.

A metallic boom echoed down the corridor and dribbled into the room. The sound was followed with angry shouts and the rhythmic banging of footsteps. It was the militia. Isshwarr and Kolot didn’t even hesitate, readying their weapons and setting off to face them. The Arconan Battlelord looked at the Odanite, a firm expression on his face.

The Gentlemen’s Bastard is on the roof. Issh said we could get to it that way,” he gestured toward the open door on the far wall. “We can get the Council there without much trouble, but I doubt even Issh and Kolot can hold a team of thirty or forty men for too long. You take the council up to the ship - it should be open." Lip split and bleeding, his face looking like nothing so much as a single, giant bruise, the Kiffar continued. “Then, if it’s not too much of an imposition, come back and make sure we aren’t dead.” He paused for half a beat, then finished wryly, "Or, you know, at least come back and stage it like we died heroically.”

Terran grinned his characteristic grin before dashing off down the corridor to join the fray. Shaking his head, a small smirk on his face, Seridan gesture to the councillors and led them out the back door, heading, presumably, towards the ship.

New Tython
Menat Ombo
Council’s Bunker

The Gentlemen’s Bastard was a pretty sleek ship. Even when extensively modified, the yacht was still a sight to behold. As he emerged from the stairwell, the Miraluka whistled at the near-perfect combination of practicality and badassery - though he wouldn’t let the bold Arconan know that.

Even though they were the planet’s de facto leaders, the councillors seemed compliant and obedient. Despite having recovered an air of authority and confidence, their breathing was still fast and the whites of their eyes were still visible. Shock, Seridan diagnosed, before chuckling to himself, You don’t spend time with the Clan’s healers and not learn a thing or two.

A guttural war-cry came from below, though Seridan couldn’t distinguish whether it came from the Wookiee or the Ewok. The sounds of fighting intensified, as if they were moving towards the stairs.

The Sentinel managed to squeeze all of the councillors onto the yacht, though it was a little cramped. He went to the rooftop stairs and looked down. The sounds of battle only intensified. The vipt of blaster fire was punctuated by the odd vwoom of the Arconan’s blade. Seridan’s own lightsaber was in his hand, but the increasingly-frequent cries of the crew’s opponents suggested that they didn’t need help. He decided to stay at the top of the stairs, as the last line of defence in case the worst happened.

He never would have admitted it, but he did hope that they all survived. They may be annoying at times, but their actions showed them to have good characters. Seridan made it a rule to not let good men die on his watch. He stared down the stairway, waiting for movement. When it came, he hoped it was his new-found friends.


Yhi System
Fe’ylya’s Last Stand
Main Bridge

The Last Stand was alive with activity. It appeared that the space battle was coming to an end - and the Alliance was coming out on top. Odan-Urr’s Nebula-class Star Destroyer wasn’t in any danger and the last of the O’reenian ships were being rounded up and destroyed. Alora sat in the admiral’s chair, studying three-dimensional projections that showed the positions of the fleets. She was talking to Atyiru, the Arconan Consul, through a headset, their conversation shielded from any eavesdroppers. Every now and then, she would call out a command to the watchers around her who were constantly speaking into their own headsets, coordinating the ships according to the Consul’s wishes.

Bustling around the room was a Neti, a creature with a tree-mendous, yet weedy, head of hair. The Clan’s Proconsul seemed constantly occupied, yet she always found time to head off any unforeseen developments. Vyr noticed Seridan enter and came sidling over. Despite her plethora of duties, she was obviously concerned about the Council.

“Seridan, how’d it go?” she inquired. There was a very faint roughness to her voice, as if leaves were rustling.

“The Council is safe in one of the inner sanctums. There was a traitorous minister among them - I am told his name was Rashek. He had corrupted most of the militia in the area and was holding his fellow councillors hostage. There was an… altercation. Both Rashek and the guards have been dealt with.”

“Very good, Brehevik. You’ve done a brilliant job on this one.” She leaned in closer, lowering her voice, “Perhaps we didn’t need the Arconans after all. Our Jedi seem to have handled our own affairs pretty well - though don’t mention it to the Consul. She seems to be particularly defensive about her decision to bring the Arconans into this.”

The Miraluka didn’t respond immediately, remembering the worry he’d felt for the Arconan.

New Tython
Menat Ombo
Council’s Bunker

The stench of scorched ozone and charred flesh clogged his nostrils and Terran held his breath to keep from gagging. A lone trooper in scuffed gray armor peeked out from around the corner at the end of the tight corridor and the Kiffar fired reflexively. The blaster bolt flew with pinpoint precision, but the militiaman pulled back behind cover before it could strike home. Stretching out with the Force, the Arconan verified that their single assailant was the last soldier standing before turning to Isshwarr and Kolot. Gesturing with his still-lit saber, Terran gulped down a breath of acrid air and jogged towards the waiting stairwell.

“Come on, let’s get the frak out of here before more bucketheads show up.”

The Wookiee and her pint-sized companion roared in unison, voicing their assent, and followed him up the narrow flight of stairs. With a flick of his thumb, Terran deactivated his lightsaber and returned it to the sheath on his wrist. Tossing his WESTAR-35 from his left hand to his right, he took a second breath, this one far fresher than before, and redoubled his pace. The door above was open and the Kiffar could see a silhouette just beyond it, his posture anxious. You’d almost think he was worried. Gritting his teeth against the stitch in his side, he took the remaining steps two at a time and burst into the sunlit open air.

He stopped a few meters outside the doorway, lifting his arms and intertwining his fingers at the back of his scalp to catch his breath. Isshwarr’s heavy steps and Kolot’s muted padding continued as they ran past to either side of him and headed for the Gentleman Bastard’s boarding ramp. Terran, for his part, pasted on his best devil-may-care grin and looked Seridan up and down. He was a mess. They both were. So, of course, there was only one appropriate course of action. The Arconan opened his mouth, a irreverent remark on the tip of the his tongue.

Seridan ignited his lightsaber’s cerulean blade and lunged.

Terran reacted instinctively, twirling to his left and bringing his blaster into line with the Miraluka’s head. His finger tightened on the trigger. Then he heard the tzsch of cauterizing flesh and the wet, bubbling sound of someone choking on their own blood. His eyes darted back to the right and he saw the lone militiaman, too brave and dedicated for his own well being, skewered on Seridan’s saber. Half-abashed, he holstered his blaster and gave a brief nod of respect to the Jedi.

The Odanite returned the nod and deactivated his saber, the roiling light blue plasma disappearing into its shroud. “Shall we?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow towards the waiting vessel. In answer, Terran turned and trotted towards the Gentleman Bastard’s lowered ramp, Seridan in tow. For once, he felt not the slightest of misgivings at him being there.

As his feet touched the ramp’s durasteel plating, he couldn’t help calling back over his shoulder. “See? My plans always work.”

The Jedi’s aggravated growl was completely worth it.

Yhi System
Fe’ylya’s Last Stand
Main Bridge

Despite some… questionable attributes, the ex-Jensaarai had been a valuable ally. Not only were his skills extremely useful, but he’d still be in that cell if Terran’s crew hadn’t turned up. Terran had saved his life on several occasions, just like an old friend. Or at least a comrade in arms. Despite his flaws, he’d earned Seridan’s grudging respect. It was slightly unfair that Terran not be given the appreciation he deserved.

The whole Alliance was a timebomb. There were people on both sides that were uncomfortable with the arrangement. Some scars just went too deep. But Arcona’s aid was appreciated. In the battles of the last few days, he’d found the Arconans weren’t too different from the Odanites - Terran included.

Seridan had his allies within Odan-Urr. He had his friends and his associates. He had close contacts with several militia organisations, the most prominent being the Sentinel Network. He loved working with his fellow Jedi, and with the people of New Tython. But Arcona’s aid, their help, had been invaluable on this occasion. Not only had they ensured lower casualties for the Odanites, but they’d forged allies and friends in the process.

His attention turned back to Vyr. “I guess,” he smiled, “our Jedi can fight when they want to. That’s not to say, though, that Arcona didn’t help us.”

“Oh, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that we could have won even if they hadn’t arrived. Once the first fleet landed, we could’ve taken them on foot. The KUDF would have been in its element, and would’ve swept the floor with them.”

“I have no doubt of that. I don’t want to bark up the wrong tree, but Terran --”


“-- the Arconan ambassador I worked with. We did work well as a team.”

“Oh? How so?”

“Well, like any good team, we saved each other’s lives a couple of times.”

“Well, if you’d done that with an Odanite at your side, you might not have needed to save each other. I don’t know the story, but if you’d have worked with a Disciple, then I’m certain things would have gone brilliantly,” Vyr smiled as she turned to leave, then paused, her expression mock-serious. With a sparkle in her eye, she spouted, “Oh, and if you don’t stop with the puns, I’ll have your ‘branches’ trimmed for tree-son.”

Seridan grinned, “We all know you’re a sap for them, Vyr.”

He left the bridge, feeling conflicted. He hadn’t said all that he’d wanted to. Terran did deserve some sort of appreciation, even if his plans hadn’t worked as intended.

Triellus Trade Route
The Gentleman Bastard

A mottled pattern of starlines filled the viewport, painting the cockpit in a hundred shades of color as they streaked by the ship. The three sentients, family despite their disparate heritage, relaxed with drinks and plates of spiced traladon ribs as they headed back to Port Ol’val. Terran took another gulp of Ebla beer and gestured loosely towards the console to Kolot’s right.

“Well, just a few hours to go and we’ll be back home. How’d things go aboard the Invicta?”

“Woogaah. Huu hawaawh hogoghe wararagh!”

“Yes, Issh, I know you had to leave to ‘pull my nuts off the fire’. I was there, remember? I meant before that.”

“Wooo hwa hwa,” Kolot replied, his high-pitched Shyriiwook bordering on a squeal.

“Yes, but did she see you keeping an eye on things?”

“Roooarrgh ur roo,” Isshwarr answered for the Ewok as he took another bite of his ribs. “Rowr ahragh awf ahraroww.”

“Pure Sabacc,” chortled Terran around a mouthful of chow. “We completed the mission, killed some bad guys, averted a slaughter, and did so in a spectacular fashion.”

“Hoyaarg aga huwaga?” clucked Isshwarr, reminding him of his numerous cuts and contusions.

“Sure, but that just makes us look that much more heroic - which ought to make Consul Sunshine Flowers that much more impressed. Besides, chicks dig scars.”

“Waag mam ga moo,” rejoined Kolot and Isshwarr in unison.

“Quit complaining, it went beautifully. We even gained the contact we needed in Odan-Urr.” Terran grinned broadly. “Like I told you before: my plans always work.”

The two arboreals shared a look. Then, as one, they threw their plates at him.

Wiping sauce and bits of beans from his eyes, the Kiffar’s grin just grew wider.