With a clunk, the shuttle docked with the Lobster. Andrelious pulled on a lever to open the docking hatch.
“They have one minute,” he stated cooly.
Kaira Rohana appeared the cockpit’s doorway seconds later.
“We didn’t think anyone was coming. Thank you,” the new arrival said, smiling at the unmoving Andrelious.
“Do not thank me, Jedi. If I had my way, I’d have left your little Clan to be crushed by the O’reenians. Our Shadow Lord thinks differently,” the Warlord replied harshly.
Kaira shook her head, choosing not to say anything further. She disappeared to take a seat in the passenger area. Krandon followed her, tired of the company of the Mimosa-Inahj couple.
“Is it something we said?” Kooki asked.
“They don’t trust us. At least, they don’t trust me. You and Zakath were the only reason I didn’t slaughter the lot of them the second we got off the Conqueror,” the ex-Imperial responded.
“You have changed, babe. Atty herself said that. When I met you, you were headstrong and proud of your Imperial heritage. Being a father has softened you,” the Alderaanian said, smiling at her husband.
“Master, if I could just interrupt?” Vithrian interjected suddenly.
“What’s going on, boy? Are the survivors from the Lobster aboard?”
“Yes. But there’s a problem. The new arrival, a Lady Rohana, tells me that she sensed great suffering aboard her Clan’s flagship,” the Miraluka continued.
Andrelious wasted no time, and targetted the Last Stand. He frowned as he read that its shields had failed and its hull was severely weakened. A quick glance at another monitor indicated that the O’reenian fleet, heavily depleted though it was, was moving in to finish the Odan-Urr ship off.
“Tell the Jedi that their flagship is doomed. I’m taking us back to the Invicta. No arguments,” the Warlord ordered. Vithrian headed off to obey his Master’s command.
The ex-Imperial undocked from the Lobster. He quickly analysed the sensor readouts, his Imperial training telling him that the Invicta was indeed the safest place.
The battle was reaching its climax. Andrelious found that he had to pick his way through debris from all kinds of ship, even having to swerve suddenly to avoid a large chunk of Star Destroyer hull. As he flew through the area, he took a few pot shots at any O’reenian fighter unfortunate enough to fly in front of his shuttle’s sights.
“Invicta, we’re about to land. Please open your hangar bay doors,” Kooki broadcast as the large mass of the Arconan flagship loomed close. Again, there was no response. Its crew were too busy finishing off an O’reenian cruiser.
Nearby, the Last Stand had warded off its attackers, but was in no shape to go anywhere. Its hull was breached in several places, leaving the telltale sign of burning, venting atmosphere. Andrelious already knew that it was unlikely to be salvageable.
Cutting the throttle to near zero, the Arconan Warlord felt the ship jolt slightly as it was caught by the Invicta’s guidance tractor beam. As usual, it began to drag the shuttle in gently.
At that point, the shuttle shook violently. Alarms began to sound, accompanied by several red lights on the control panel.
“What the frak is that?” Kooki yelled, having nearly jumped out of her skin.
“Seems an enemy fighter managed to fire a torpedo at the Invicta’s tractor beam. It’s been overloaded and is pulling us in too fast!!” Andrelious screamed, fighting with the controls in a desperate attempt to break free.
“Invicta, we’re coming in fast!” the Priestess warned, feeling the ship start to speed up again. Her husband was still trying to abort the landing procedure, but was apparently having no luck.
“The team led by Lord Mimosa-Inahj are caught in our malfunctioning tractor beam, Lady Consul,” a bridge officer stated solemnly.
“Shut it down! Ashla and Bogan, SHUT IT DOWN!” Atyiru ordered, already fearing the worst.
“They’re coming in hot! Get a rescue crew to the main hangar bay! Now!” Ban Quell demanded.
“Get to the back of the ship. I’m going to have to crash us!” Andrelious declared, shunting what power he could to the deflector shields. Kooki didn’t argue and leapt out of the co-pilot’s seat, joining the others, who had heard everything, in the rear of the ship.
Now alone, the Sith gripped the controls of the shuttle tightly. He had been trained for this scenario, but only in a TIE starfighter. And he was flying something far larger.
“Arcona Invicta!” he cried, closing his eyes.
The shuttle smashed into the magcon field, crashing a few feet beyond it. As it collided with the floor of the Invicta’s hangar, it continued sliding onwards, even as its emergency braking thrusters engaged. The rescue crew waited at the far end of the hangar as the carnage erupted before them. Cargo containers spilled their contents everywhere, much of it becoming ignited as the shuttle’s fuel tank soaked everything in starship fuel. In no time, the hangar became a blazing inferno as the shuttle ground to a halt after smashing into a bulkhead.
The commander of the rescue crew stepped gingerly forward, guiding her men to start putting out the fire.
The shuttle’s hatch opened from the inside, revealing a hurt and tired looking Andrelious, flanked by his Arconan and Urrite teammates. The rescue crew’s leader nodded a quick greeting. She hadn’t expected to find Andrelious, a known Jedi hater, in such company.
“Welcome home, my Lords,” the woman declared.
“Lieutenant. Prepare the medical bay. We have injuries. We’ll also need to arrange for the return of the lightie bas-our Jedi friends here. Oh, and one other thing,” the ex-Rollmaster stated.
“What’s that, my Lord?”
“Tell Quell not to let Atty touch the tractor beam again,” Andrelious quipped.