[Tython Squadron] Castaway Run-On

Jedi Praxeum, Kiast, 38 ABY
Jon stood before a group of faces both familiar and unfamiliar, all of them looking at him expectantly. He tossed Bokk’s map up and down in one hand as he walked up to the impromptu “stage” that had been erected in the Praxeum hanger - a group of uneven crates and containers (and a deactivated gonk droid turned on its side, go figure). It would suffice.

Jon hopped atop of it, and turned to face the assembled members of Tython Squadron, dramatically swishing his cape for good effect. Time to put on a show he thought to himself.
“I’ll keep this brief,” he said, casting his voice. “I’m hoping you all read the briefing, but if not, here’s the rundown.” Jon began fiddling with the map, shifting the panels and plates along its spherical surface the way he’d been shown. Right on cue, the room exploded into bright blue light, as a miniature version of the entire Kiast system came into existence.

“Here’s how this works: this map is going to lead us to a very nice new ship hidden somewhere in the system, something from Kiast myth. The Light Of Ki’asma.” Most of the assembled faces lit up in recognition, Odan-Urr had been on Kiast long enough for its members to have at least heard one or two stories about the legendary ship.

“Unfortunately, we are not the only ones looking. Because hey, what’s the fun of a treasure hunt without rival hunters, right?” That didn’t even get a chuckle. Tough crowd. Jon sighed.

“I’m guessing you’ve all heard of the Sea Raven raiders? Well, they had this map before us. And they want it back. So, expect this hunt to be a running dogfight in space if they catch up to us.”
“Wait,” someone called out. Jon recognized them as Agate, one of his new recruits to the Squadron. “If they already had the map, shouldn’t they already know where the ship is?”

“When are treasure hunts ever that simple?” Jon asked sarcastically. Instead, he pointed to the holographic replica of Kaerls, the ice moon orbiting Kiast. The moon grew until it took up most of the room, and a single point was highlighted on the moon’s surface. “No, see, whoever made this map wanted us to earn their precious ship. So, instead it’s a scavenger hunt. We go to this location first, where we’ll supposedly undergo some kind of ‘trial’, and then the next location on the map will be shown. Rinse, repeat, until the mapmaker is satisfied. While pirates are chasing us.”

“And how many of these ‘trials’ are there going to be?” Junazee called out.

“We’ll find out, won’t we? But hey, look at it this way: this ship was supposed to have been crewed by all the greatest heroes Kiast has ever seen!” Jon said, spreading his arms out. He hopped down from off his “stage” and walked into the middle of the Squadron. “They say only the greatest and finest the system has ever seen have ever set foot on board. That it’s their ‘guiding light through the darkness.”

Carefully, Jon looked at his assembled Battleteam. Jedi and Force Disciples, real warriors of Odan-Urr. He wasn’t like that, and he knew it. But damned if he would let it hinder him.

“Can you really tell me whatever half-crazed Vatali what forged this thing could have had anyone in mind better than Tython Squadron? Because, I gotta be honest… I can’t think of a single name better suited.” With that, Jon turned and walked towards the Carnival.

“To your ships, Tython Squadron! Let’s go write our names in the history books!”

Jedi Praxeum Hangar bay
38 ABY

As the new Tython squadron leader spoke to the assembled pilots from atop a makeshift platform Talis couldn’t help but peer around. His self imposed exile had kept him away for a good stretch of time and there were some new faces in the squadron. A few he knew of from within Odan urr and a few he didn’t know, even in name. Talis only recognized one other member of the aces among the group other than himself, the other Miralukan force wielder, Junazee. Chrome and Korroth had gone rogue and just vanished without even a goodbye. He had heard Ranarr Kul had defected to Plagueis. Ethan Martes had recently left the squadron so he was not there either. That would put a strain on Talis, as he would miss his wingman Ulwan watching his six. Arcia was also not there which didn’t surprise him Talis tossed a glance over his shoulder at the hangar filled with various personal spacecrafts and starfighters.

Sitting closest to the hangar bay doors was his modified Scyk fighter. Completely painted black except for the stylized callsign painted next to the cockpit. WARPATH in bold aurebesh stuck out from the contrasting matte black paint of the small fighter. Talis had never seen the color or writing due to his vision being so impaired by his Miralukan lineage, he could only trust that the shipyard complied with his order and made the requested aesthetic changes to his ship. The squadrons RZ-2 A-Wings sat across from the personal ships, docked to the upper walkway spanning along the top of the hangar and parked along the floor underneath them as well. Talis hated those starfighters. They performed well but the cockpit felt awkward and unfamiliar to him so he had chosen before arriving that he would pilot what he knew best.

Talis returned his attention to the large man speaking. He was holding a weird orb in his hand moved some tiles on it surface. The group reacted with a quieted gasp as something happened. Talis leaned over and nudged one of the newer members, a human female with long curly hair. Handing from her hip was a lightsaber and the marauder could feel the force exuding from her.

“Nijalah, right?” The younger female nodded and looked at him with an incredulous distrustful attitude, “what’s going on?”

“Are you blind?” The younger force disciple asked sarcastically.

“Technically no.” Talis lifted his helmet to show her his ceremonial eye wrapping. The look she shot him was more distrustful than the first.

“You’re a pilot?” Nilajah asked skeptically.

Talis smiled back at the woman, “An ace actually,” the man replied as he replaced his mandalorian helmet over his face, “I can see physical objects and track them, I can not, however,” Talis paused as he looked down at the shorter woman, “see holograms or images on a flat surface.”

“It’s a hologram of a map,” a familiar voice drifted in from behind the pair.

Talis turned to see Maximus standing a few paces behind him. His gaze was still on the images before him but his aura gave off the distinct color of fascination. Talis turned to his droid, R2- B9, and waved him forward. The droid rolled forward smoothly despite looking like he had been dragged from a recent wreckage. Panels on his torso and head were missing and others were of mismatched color schemes.

“Bee-nine can you save and analyze the map?” The little droid beeped back at its owner irritatingly and scanned the map before turning and abruptly heading towards Talis’ ship.

Talis turned back to the assembled squadron as Junazee’s voice erupted from the other side of the gathering.

“And how many of these ‘trials’ are there going to be?” Junazee aura flashed in excitement.

“We’ll find out, won’t we? But hey, look at it this way: this ship was supposed to have been crewed by all the greatest heroes Kiast has ever seen!” The new leader replied in earnest. Then he did something that surprised Talis. He nimbly hopped down from the junk pile and pranced into the center of the congregation of his pilots. The bravado is not what impressed him. It was the large man’s agility. “They say only the greatest and finest the system has ever seen have ever set foot on board. That it’s their ‘guiding light through the darkness.”

Intently, the heavier set human gazed upon Tython squadron and a wave of confidence rolled over his aura.

“Can you really tell me whatever half-crazed Vatali what forged this thing could have had anyone in mind better than Tython Squadron? Because, I gotta be honest… I can’t think of a single name better suited.” With that, the unkempt, messy, giant of a man turned towards his ship before yelling back over his shoulder.

“To your ships, Tython Squadron! Let’s go write our names in the history books!”

Talis bee-lined it for his scyk fighter. Bee-nine was already loaded and ready to go as Talis clambered into the open canopy. The ship was already halfway thru start up procedures thanks to Bee-nine and was the first to lift off the ground and turned to face the hangar bays exit.

“This is Talis DeMorte, callsign Warpath, requesting clearance to launch and take up a holding pattern until the rest of tython are in the air.”

“Warpath, this is tower you are go for launch and to take up a holding pattern, fly safe and see you when you come home.”

With that Talis advanced the throttle and pulled the yoke back and rose up out of the hangar bay exit into the sky above the Praxeum.

Aryn “Jade” Erinos had heard the entire speech from the current leader of Tython Squadron, as her personal fighter — a Clone Wars era ETA-2 Actis-class Interceptor, more commonly known as the ‘Jedi Interceptor’ — had been docked nearby for routine maintenance after her modifications to the thrusters. The redhead herself, despite having a workable maintenance bay and hangar at her brother-in-law’s home, preferred to occasionally visit the one on Kiast to have interaction with other mechanics and pilots.

Though she would have once jumped at the chance to make a name for herself, to become a legend…

The priorities of the Mandalorian had changed since her marriage to Rowena, then finding out that the experimental procedure had been a success. There was life growing within her body, a son; the two of them were well aware that, due to the genetic splicing done to ensure a child of both of them, there was no chance for it to be a daughter without possible complications. Celevon, Rowena’s twin brother, had been the one to donate the male part of the genetic material.

“Go love,” her wife urged, mercurial eyes soft with understanding. “Mandalorians are very similar to Echani. We cannot let the call to battle go unheeded,” the half-Echani murmured, wiping the grease off of her hands.

Jade turned, the conflict clear within her. “I hate these hormones,” she grumbled, picking up her helmet. “Thirteen, prep the Aurelia once you’ve finished your diagnostic… and connect my helm to the ship’s comm system.” The astromech, BB-13, within the modified droid slot whistled an affirmative, followed by a quick question. “No, keep the power to the thrusters and cannons. Divert it from the ion blast cannon if you have to.”

When she turned back, it was to see an amused smile and her wife shaking her head. “I don’t know how you understand that droid. Anyway… be safe, mesh’la*. Both of you.”

Their foreheads were rested together.

“How about a kiss for good luck?” Jade asked after a moment of silence, bringing a grin to Rowena’s lips.

“Why would I do that? If you want a kiss, make it home,” the half-Echani retorted playfully, giving the redhead a light peck on her pouting lips. “Your motivation to come home is for a real kiss.”

It took a few minutes before Rowena departed, headed toward a shuttle to take her back to their home on Solyiat. The Mandalorian had climbed into her cockpit after a last-minute check of her emergency provisions and spare parts. The hood slid shut, controlled by BB-13, moments after Aryn pulled her helm on, cold blues observing the hangar through the gold-tinted lense of her visor.

A voice filled the helm, courtesy of the internal comlink system. “This is Praxeum Tower. Your droid contacted us, fighter Aurelia.”

Wildcat requesting clearance to launch and take holding pattern Delta until Tython Squadron is in the air.”

“Granted Wildcat. Until next time.”

“Until next time,” Jade agreed, the vessel lifting from the duracrete in a single graceful motion as her gloved fingers flashed across the different flight sequences. “Thirteen, scan frequencies until you’ve got the comm channel Tython Squad is using.”

The droid beeped an affirmative, hesitated for a moment, then asked a question which brought a chuckle from the woman.

“No, we’re not going to buzz the Tower again. They get grumpy when we do that, Thirteen.”

The astromech gave an almost disappointed, long beep.

  • Mesh’a — Mando’a for ‘beautiful’

Kasula and Ysera listened to Jon’s well-rehearsed speech from the comfort of a makeshift lounge across from the Damsels’ Distress’ extended loading ramp. Seated comfortably behind the assemblage, neither of them made an inclination to join with the other members arranged close to the podium. After all, their involvement in Tython Squadron was one of necessity—or, at least their contribution for Kaltani’s assistance in granting them safe passage through the treacherous nebula. It wasn’t often that the monarch would lend a hand to someone formerly affiliated with an organization as unsavory as the Black Sun—yet, the ‘formerly’ part of that was due, in part, to the Vatali Navy’s role in saving the Daegellas’ VCX-100 from termination at the hands of those would-be ‘former’ employers.

However, if their somber attitude towards hearing another “briefing” was at all present, it vanished at the mention of the Light of Ki’asma. While grounded following their noble ‘rescue,’ the twins had heard rumours about the storied vessel. Moreover, the fact that the Sea Raven raiders had a head start meant that this treasure hunt was going to be a tight race. If the Daegellas were going to lose one, it wasn’t going to be the race as legendary as being the first to find the Light of Ki’asma.

With all the haste of a dozen pit-droids, the Damsels’ Distress ran through its pre-flight checks and lift-off clearance as if taking the chance to race Han Solo, himself. Stood at the nose of the Damsels’ domed cockpit, a lone crewman waved amber glow rods as if building up the anticipation on a pod racing track.

Warpath to Damsels’,” the vessel’s comlink buzzed. Standing out of her chair to reach the overhead instruments, Ysera flipped a small switch before collapsing back into the familiar nerf hide upholstery. Adjusting their headset comlinks in unison, both addressed the Miraluka simultaneously.

Damsels’ recieving loud and clear, Mynock.” Silence permeated the channel for a few seconds following that—time enough for the Twi’leks to trade smirks at having chosen the same response for their eyeless companion.

“Real amusing, Damsels’,” Talis drew a breath, “I can see, you know. I can perceive objects and sh—”

“Yeah, but you’re blind,” Kasula interjected before the Miraluka could finish yet another explanation on his Force-given sight… blah, blah, blah.

“So… Mynock.” Ysera finished, half-choking on a giggle. “It works, so we’re sticking with it. Don’t like it, you’ll have to catch us.”

Before the Miraluka could utter another protest, the glow rods shifted hues to blue, signaling an end to the wait behind the starting line. Warpath lifted off before the Damsels’ Distress, as each of the personalized starcraft began leaving the hangar in an organized fashion, beginning with those closest to the entrance. Forming up over Warpath’s wing, the Miraluka might have been able to make out some of the designs over peeling layers of paint if he concentrated hard enough, featuring the heraldry of anything from BlasTech to the Incom Corporation.

“See you all on Kaerls. May the best Twi’lek win.”

Agate was at the corner of the room, while suddenly the leader of Tython Squadron called his members. Agate shocked a bit and everything was like falling apart. She was checking her journal, she thought maybe she could find new creatures along the journey. She also checked her map to point the locations. She imagined maybe she could meet a creature that big and vicious or small and cute. She believed that there many interesting creatures on Kiast. But she realized that her main goal was to find The Light Of Ki’asma, legendary ship of Kiast myth.

“What’s so special about this ship?” she thought.

“Maybe it made of gold or it has important history? I think I lost my mind. I need to check it back.”

As a new member of Tython Squadron, Agate had a lot of questions in her mind. She was a bit nervous but also exited of her new adventure. She rushed to the team. She met her new leader and found new faces. She noticed a few of them. Talis who was vocal and liked to ask questions and Celevon who liked to hang out with the clan members. Celevon often showed his new artworks and he had unique artistic ability. It was nice to hang out with him. She remembered that he also helped her to fight the Rakghouls on Taris. It was a memorable experience.

Jon Silvon, as the leader of Thyton Squadron stood still, he observed his members and then started to introduce the mission. Agate paid attention to him and her new quest began.

Jon watched as the streaking stars suddenly halted, and the frozen waste that was Kaerls thrust itself into view. His eyes immediately snapped to his sensors, and a weight lifted off his shoulders when he saw no sign of the Raiders in the vicinity.

Yet, he thought.

“Alright Squad,” he said into his communcitor, “Welcome to step one on the scavenger hunt. Keep your eyes on the sensors, and be on the lookout for any signs of the Sea Raven Raiders, copy?”

“You really think the Mandalorians who live here would tolerate pirates?” Talis asked over the comm, skepticism in his voice.

“As target practice maybe,” Junazee snarked.

“Hey,” Jon replied, “I never these pirates were smart, but they want this ship badly enough and they’ll take stupid risks.”

“Is that good for us,” Nijalah asked, “Or bad?”

Jon didn’t have an answer to that. He had Artemis send out a message to the mining colonies below all the same, informing them of the Squadron’s intentions - decidedly not mentioning the map or the Light. He’d keep his cards close to his chest for the time being.

The mismatched fleet of ships and fighters entered orbit, heading for the coordinates specified by the map - a darkened valley in the middle of a remote part of the moon, currently bathed in shadows. Due to the moon’s slow rotation, this side of it hadn’t seen sunlight for months, and wouldn’t for a while yet.

If this thing is the real deal, we’re about to know it. He lowered the Carnival, signaling Agate, Ysera and Kasulla to follow him.

“Alright, here’s the plan - the four of us will disembark and see if we can find anything. Everyone else, patrol the perimeter in your ships. You spot any uninvited guests, you turn ‘em back or turn ‘em to ash, but signal us immediately, got it?”

With that, he landed the Carnival on the snowy ground, and walked out into the biting cold. The others followed suit, and soon the four of them were standing at the mouth of a valley that descended into pitch black darkness, while their allies flew circles overhead.

“Alright,” he shouted over the howling winds, “Let’s do this.”

Agate looked out of the window and she could only see the planet surface that so pale and windy. The ship interior was also quite dark. The circumstances were spooky enough for Agate.

While Jon busy with his communicated to his teammates, Agate sensed through the force of her surroundings. She didn’t noticed any of the Raiders that Jon mentioned.

The door opened and four of them walked out, the temperature was so cold. She could only hear the sound of wind and night creatures.

Agate looked at Kasulla and whispered, “Are you ready for this?”

Kasulla nodded. She didn’t want to distract the mission.

And suddenly Jon shouted, called his team to follow him. His voice broke the silence.

“Well, I didn’t see that coming,” thought Agate.

Agate wondered maybe his call might attract the enemies. But there was no time to complain. Agate followed Jon into the darkness.

Waiting was always the hardest part. It wasn’t the inactivity in of itself, it was simply halting, watching, and knowing that someone was coming to kill them. Although Silvon had largely voiced his orders as a precaution, Ka Tarvitz had been on enough such missions to know that they would inevitably end in violence. Unless you showed up with a Star Destroyer at your back, you could always guarantee that one pirate would be stupid or arrogant enough to pick a fight. He just wished that they would hurry up.

Easing back in his restraints, Tarvitz idly tapped one gloved hand against an area of bare metal among the Spitfire’s combat display. He was still getting used to the extended screens following its latest upgrade, with visual adjustments now featuring the status of its microthruster array and flare launcher. The N-1 was as fast as ever, but at least in terms of visual targeting, the additional information was a notable distraction.

Like the rest of Tython Squadron, Tarvitz had fallen into a perimeter formation, moving in a slow orbit about the local area. Most of them had remained silent since that time, save for the occasional sensor ghost or minor update. In the minutes since Silvon’s team had landed there had been little activity to truly remark upon.

Behind the fighter’s cockpit, Ratchet let out a string of bleeps. Tarvitz smirked slightly and shook his head.

“You can try if you want, but I don’t think any of them would join in. Besides, how could you tell if someone’s cheating or not?”

A low whistle answered him, and he laughed at the bluntness of the answer.

“I never should have let Essik teach you sabacc.”

Tarvitz was about to ask if the R3 droid planned on playing for credits or not, when Tarvitz’s display flicked red. He frowned, tapping the read-out and adjusting the fighter’s sensor ranges. It had only been a momentary contact, but it was enough for Tarvitz to stop and pay attention. He reached out with the Force, using it to guide him as he re-adjusted the display, before picking out the two objects once more.

Spitfire to all ships,” Tarvitz said, quickly recognising the design and engine signatures, “it looks like we have a pair of squints shadowing us. They’re hiding at 6-5, moving on low power.”

Neither of the TIE Interceptors were moving with the increased energy output or weight which would suggest a hyperdrive generator. Both were flying low now, trying to keep whatever cover they could find between themselves and the Odanite squadron.

“I’ll contact the commander,” one of the voices Tarvitz was less familiar with answered, “he’ll want to…”

The communication rapidly distorted, the syllables of the following words twisted beyond recognition. He quickly tried the others, only to be met with similar distortions. Jamming, low level but effective for at least a few minutes. In that same moment, the display lit up with multiple hostile signals closing on their position.

“See what you can do to break through that,” Tarvitz said to Ratchet, activating his fighter’s weapons and turning toward the incoming craft. “In the meantime, lets make some pirates very sorry about their life choices.”

Rachet beeped an affirmation as Tarvitz brought the Spitfire around and pushed the throttle to full. The hunt was on as the Jensaarai’s craft hurtled forward.

But something was amiss. As he closed in on the two signatures he could make out laser fire arcing back and forth between the two vessels. Tarvitz glowered at the target display. Two squints. If he’d been able to push the throttle higher through sheer force of will, Ka would have.

As he got close enough to get visual contact with the two vessels it became clear that, although the pursuer was indeed some variant of TIE, the other vessel was nothing of the sort. “Forged engine signatures,” the Jensaarai muttered. “What kind of a maniac would impersonate a TIE?”

Ratchet’s answer wasn’t flattering, but it got Tarvitz to crack a smile.

“Yes, well, I suppose we’ll see for ourselves soon enough.”

The lead craft, a black Aggressor nearly twice the size of a TIE was darting around erratically, an anti-pursuit blaster attempting to ward off the garishly painted interceptor on its tail.

“Well, at least I know one of them is hostile.” Tarvitz squeezed the trigger on his control stick and a pair of lasers cut through the air between the two other fighters.

The TIE pulled its nose up and opened fire on the Spitfire as Tarvitz effortlessly spun out of the way as the TIE overshot it. Tarvitz looped up and around for another pass, and through the transparisteel cockpit bubble he could see the Aggressor and the TIE doing likewise. The TIE pilot, however, seemed to lose his nerve in the face of two opponents and started to veer off skyward. Unfortunately for him, the Aggressor’s main weapons were more accurate and powerful than the anti-pursuit blaster, and the black vessel’s cannonfire blasted one of the TIE’s wings clean off the side of the ship.

As the flaming husk of the interceptor spiraled down to Kaels’ surface, Ratchet started to chitter excitedly. “Comms are back up? Get me the—”

“Since when do Vatali security forces fly antique snubfighters?” a voice called out over the now-clear channel. “Listen, whoever you are, you do not want to start with me right now.”

“Apologies, miss, but who exactly are you?”

“Just an innocent girl hunting for scrap. Oh, look, I found some down on the surface. Dibs. Now piss off.”

The second the four of them crossed the threshold, they were consumed by a deafening silence. One moment, they were surrounded by the loud sound of the rushing winds and the distant screech of Tython Squadron’s fighters up above, but as soon as they walked into the darkness it was like a switch had been flipped, and all other sounds just died away.

“Spooky,” Jon said, and immediately regretted it as the sound seemed to echo endlessly around him. And that’s not helping my nerves much.

“Stick close,” he said to his compatriots. “We don’t need anybody getting lost in here.”

The four of them walked… and walked… and kept walking. There didn’t seem to be any end to the darkness.

“Do you even know what we’re looking for?” Kasulla asked.

“I assumed we’d know it when we found it, but… Agate, do you sense anything?”

The lone Jedi of their group was staring upwards. She said nothing.

“…Agate?” Kasulla asked, poking the younger woman in the shoulder. “You still in there?”

“Something’s happening up above…” she said quietly. She sounded… distant, like her mind wasn’t really on the here and now. “It feels like a fight broke out…”

Jon snapped to attention. “A fight? With Tython Squadron? They’re being attacked?”

Agate was still for a moment, and at first Jon wasn’t sure she heard him, but she nodded soon after.

“What’s the plan, then?” Ysera asked tersely. “Do we keep looking, or go back them up?”

Jon’s mind spun as he tried to come up with an answer to that. He didn’t doubt the Squadron’s ability to handle themselves but… but why hadn’t they signaled him like they’d been ordered too?

Jon took out his comm. “Silvon to Lycanae do you read me?” Nothing but static was the reply. “Silvon to Nijalah?” Nothing. “Silvon to Talis? Anybody? Dammit, someone respond!” Jon wasn’t standing anymore, instead running back the way they came.

Krayth spit and ashes! he thought furiously. This place is jamming us! Has been the whole time! He rushed through the darkness, Agate, Kasulla, and Ysera rushing after him. But no matter how far or how fast they ran… the exit never appeared. The darkness was unbroken.

“Shouldn’t we have reached the exit by now?” one of them asked.

“Maybe we took a wrong turn?”

“Where? We haven’t turned once!”

Jon slowed to a stop. Oh hell. Realization dawned on him.

“We can’t leave,” he said finally.

What?” Kasulla demanded. “What the krayth are you talking about Silvon? What do you mean we can’t leave?”

Jon sighed, turned around, and pushed past the furious twi’lek. “We have to finish the trial. We can’t get out until we do.”

“So we’re just supposed to leave our friends up there to fight a pirate fleet alone?”

“…Not alone,” Agate said. “Someone else just arrived.”

“A friendly?” Jon asked tersely.

Agate smiled. “A friend, Jon.”

Jon took a moment to let that settle. Why must all Jedi be so damnably vague? He took a deep breath, and stood to his full height.

“Ok,” he declared. “Then we let them finish the fight. And we finish the trial.”

By the time Tarvitz was able to register the surprising answer, the other pilot had already closed communications. Banking around, he turned in pursuit of the Aggressor as it dropped toward the surface beneath them.

Spitfire to anyone down there, you’re about to have company,” he said, flipping to any open channel those on the ground might have been using. “She didn’t shoot at us, but I wouldn’t exactly class her as friendly.”

Static answered Tarvitz’s broadcast. Ratchet gave a low hooting moan, and several other rapidly approaching shapes quickly emerged on the fighter’s display.

“Would have been nice for her to mention she’d kicked over a fire wasp nest on the way here,” Tarvitz grunted, abandoning his pursuit in favour of the oncoming ships. “To everyone else in Tython Squadron, I’m assuming you can see that?”

“We’re not blind, Spitfire,” the icon of an Actis-class Interceptor flashed, signifying the member speaking at that moment. “That’s thirteen fighters, mostly TIE variants, with four IRDs backing them up.”

“Warpath here, they’re definitely custom jobs,” another voice chipped in. “Several are burning hot, and they’re moving faster than typical TIE builds.”

Tarvitz silently absorbed the information as the enemy squadron came into view. TIEs were easy to come by, and most pirates quickly kitted them out with anything which might improve their survival, but the presence of IRDs was certainly a surprise. CSA fighters underwent limited production runs, and even outdated variants were difficult to liberate from most decommissioning yards.

“Pick your targets and stick to the plan,” Tarvitz said, already zeroing in on the lead ship, a bizarrely modified quad-winged TIE fighter. “Turn them back or turn them to ash, and keep the landing area clear.”

“As if we’d do anything else,” the Actis’ pilot answered. “Oya!”

The fighters approached them in a swarm, keeping in a tight staggered formation and firing in a singular mass. The members of Tython Squadron scattered as they approached, breaking apart as they swept around the incoming ships. Tarvitz knew the formation well. It was a battering ram, crude but effective, and intended to break an enemy force so they could be divided up and overcome. It might have worked, were it used on anyone else.

As several of the TIEs attempted to pick off the seemingly isolated Warpath as he swept around them, one died in a burst of flame. Another plunged into an maddening dive as a rapid burst of cannon-fire sheared off one wing.

Diverting power into the N-1’s engines, Tarvitz was shunted back into his seat by the abrupt acceleration. The fighter hurtled forward through the swarm, bypassing an Interceptor closing on his position, and focused on the IRDs. His thumb stabbed out twice, sending two missiles toward the ships. The fighters swerved just as the missiles broke apart, discharging swarms of skittering buzz droids onto each IRD.

One fighter blinked out of existence as the buzz droids clustered about its missile payload, their drills prematurely activating the warheads. The other wobbled violently as the pilot attempted to shake the droids clear from the ship. Tarvitz didn’t wait to see the outcome of the struggle, and instead hurtled past them, firing in momentary bursts toward any other target seeking to protect them.

Ratchet bleeped several times, his domed head turning back to regard the pursuing ships.

“Only that many?” Tarvitz laughed, jinking the fighter to throw off their pursuer’s aim. “I’m almost insulted.”

The trick now would be to stay alive and keep them busy while pursuing him, leaving the others free reign to wipe out the remaining pirates. From there it would be a case of holding the area until more pirates showed up, or the squadron members on the surface withdrew from their hunt. He wondered which would be first.

  • Oya - Literally: Let’s hunt! Colloquially adapted as a positive and triumphant cheer with potential meanings including “Stay alive!”, “Go you!”, and simply “Cheers!”

Nijalah cursed under her breath as she dodged and weaved among the TIE fighters, pushing her Scyk fighter to it’s limits. Her ship, while quite a fast one, didn’t have the best arsenal so she was forced to engage in hit and run tactics, flying among the TIE fighters taking potshots when she could, being as annoying as possible. Unfortunately her relative lack of piloting skill in firefights, whilst augmented by the Force, caused her to take no small number of glancing blows to her ship.

Several red lights flashed up on her console, beeping away and warning her about the damage to her ship as well as warning her that her ship’s engine was pushed to its limit. She did her best to keep her breathing calm and focus on the myriad of enemies, tuning out the beeping and flashing of the console.

“By the Force Jon, whatever you’re looking for down there you’d better find it in a hurry.” Nijalah muttered under her breath as she managed to score a lucky shot directly into the cockpit of a TIE fighter, blowing it into a ball of fire before pulling a sharp, ship rattling near 90 degree turn straight up to avoid another fighter coming up behind her.

“Nice shot.” An unfamiliar voice came over the comm. Nijalah smirked at the compliment but the smirk was wiped from her face as she dodged a fighter heading right at her only to hit another one coming from the side and begin spinning as her left most thruster suffered a stall. Nijalah threw herself into the controls, desperately trying to regain control whilst trying to get the thruster restarted. She could hear the telltale sounds of the TIE fighters coming closer as she finally managed to get the ship steady but she still couldn’t get the thruster restarted, leaving her manoeuvrability severely hampered.

“Come on you hunk of scrap.” Nijalah whispered desperately, willing the thruster to restart as she flicked the switch for the thruster on and off. Finally the thruster fired back on just as Nijalah sensed danger and jerked the ship to the side, narrowly avoiding a laser blast from the fighter coming up behind her.

“Alright, how much further can this possibly go?” Ysera asked.

“I think it’s a safe bet to say we passed ‘possible’ some time ago,” Jon replied.

“What is it we’re even supposed to do? What kind of trial is it where we’re just wandering… in… the dark… oh.”

“Yeah,” Jon whispered, taking in the sight before them. “Oh.”

The four of them blinked at the sudden light, nearly blinded after wandering for so long in the dark. It was impossible to say when precisely the interminable void had let up; one moment there was nothing but blackness in all directions, and the next the group suddenly found themselves standing on a precipice, a truly massive cavern opening up before them.

At the top, a massive bright blue crystal hung suspended in mid-air, letting its saphir glow light up the cavern. A thin, narrow staircase wandered down into the basin. That wasn’t what drew their attention, however. Nor, for that matter, was it the colossal statue waiting for them on the other side (though that certainly was a sight to see).

No, what drew their attention most was the winding labyrinth, carved from grey stone walls that filled every inch of the massive cavern below.

“Well, that is certainly what I would call… a Trial,” Jon whispered.

“Not really that original though,” Kasulla intoned. “I mean, a maze? Not very original.”

She was trying, Jon could tell, to hide just how much awe such a sight inspired.

“You guys ever get the feeling there’s a lot more to Kiast than we know about?” Agate asked no one in particular.

“Yes,” Ysera agreed. “It’s not a comforting feeling.”

Jon ran a hand down his face and shook his head. “Alright, no use standing around gawking. Agate, you take the lead.”

Me?” Agate asked, her head snapping to look at Jon.

“You see any other precognitives here, Agate?” he asked. “We need to get through a maze, and you’re the best equipped to do that.” And with that, he stepped back, gesturing to the staircase. “Ladies first.”

Tarvitz grinned as another enemy icon disappeared from his display. Five of the enemy squadron had been reduced to fire-blackened craters on the ground, while Tython Squadron had yet to take a loss. Their opening assault would have worked on most units, but the combination of Tython Squadron’s skills and their mix of fighters gave them the edge here. The opening attack had been blunted, leaving the enemy squadron bogged down in a multitude of individual engagements and struggling to put their greater numbers to good use. The pirates had come looking for a fight, and they were getting it.

Several bolts passed over the Spitfire’s right wing, and he automatically pulled back on the controls, registering the other pilot through the Force. Another several followed it, splashing against its shields, keeping pace with his abrupt turn. Putting his ship into a series of abrupt turns, rolls, and dives, he pushed through the multitude of individual duels which had broken out across the nearby area, trying to shake his pursuer. Every time he started to level out, another shot would come in from elsewhere.

“Persistent one, aren’t you,” Tarvitz muttered as Ratchet bleeped several more alerts and one suggestion. “Good idea, do it.”

A stream of phosphorescent red decoy flares exploded out of the Spitfire, illuminating the pursuit. Each dropped for several meters, before their guidance systems blinked into life and thrusters sent them speeding into the nearest hostile target. The pursuing TIE’s canopy and sensor display briefly went white as the flares pelted his ship, impacting with enough force to dent its thin armour.

The TIE’s pilot veered away, pulling down to avoid making himself an easy target. Tarvitz pulled in a tight turn, closing in on the fighter with his sights, only to jerk back and pull away as another ship emerged. An Interceptor, skull white save for a sable black canopy, swept just beneath the TIE and came in with its cannons firing. Gritting his teeth, Tarvitz jinked about the stream of bolts, most impacting on the edge of the Spitfire’s shields. He’d waited until the last moment, using the other pilot as a distraction, before closing in as Tarvitz was lining up his attack. Clever.

More shots impacted against the Spitfire, reducing the initial indigo hue of its shields’ to a pale flickering as each blast sapped energy from its generators. The name Rhon Ya blinked under the Interceptor’s IFF as it closed in to make a killing shot. At the last moment its bolts went wide, missing as it was forced to avoid several blasts from an allied Scyk fighter.

A cold, rasping chuckle echoed through the speakers in response to this, apparently from the Interceptor. “I should be thanking you, Jedi. This is the first proper fight I’ve been able to give these greenies. Keep this up and I might even start taking this seriously.”

Jon and the others followed behind Agate as the Jedi wended her way through the labyrinth. Her eyes were closed, but her steps were certain. It was odd; Agate ambled through the twists of this “trial” seemingly at random, occasionally stopping for a second as though making up her mind, but never once opening her eyes to actually look where she was going. To the captain, she seemed like she was in some kind of… trance? Was that even the right word for it? Karabast, what was he doing here? Jedi? Ancient artifacts and legendary heroes? He was in deep with this one, and he wasn’t sure how to –

“Careful,” Kasulla said, gripping Jon’s arm. The captain stopped, looking down at the ground. There was a pressure button on the floor, just below where his boot was about to set. “Watch your step, Jon,” she told him.

“Right. Thanks,” he replied, absent-mindedly. Self-analyze later, he chided himself. Mission now. Identity crisis when we’re not trapped.

“How do you think they’re doing up there?” she asked, glancing at Agate as the four of them wandered their way through the underground maze.

“I have no idea,” he answered honestly. “But the girl with magic powers says they’re getting help from ‘a friend.’”

“Any idea who this ‘friend’ is, Jon?”

“Oh, one or two.”

“Force dammit, Silvon,” Vez hissed under her breath. “What the hell are you and your bunch of jet-jockeys doing here?”

All she had been interested in was relieving herself of these visions – ever since she had discovered, somewhat unwillingly her own newfound Force-sensitivity, the dreams and flashes of insight that had plagued her throughout her life had been coming faster, and with greater clarity than they ever had before.

They were still Force visions though, and of course the Force could never be clear about a damned thing. So when the same dream – an ice moon, a dark pit, a winding path, a black bird against a blood-red background, a brilliant multicolored light that – woke her up every night for a week?

She finally gave in, and decided to see where they were taking her, setting a course for the only ice world in the Kiast system. Wouldn’t you know it? She landed herself right in the middle of an aerial battle.

Ok Force, whatever this is, not worth it!

She angled her fighter, trying to get a glance at what was down on the surface through all the laserfire and snow. The ominous fortress leading into darkness did not look particularly appealing to her eyes, however.

She prepared to bring her ship up to fly away, when caught sight a familiar, run-down old scrap heap of a YT-1000 parked on the ground, and her eyes widened.

Oh, what is that nerfherder gotten himself into this time!

Her fighter was shaken, knocking her out of her thoughts as alarms started blaring through the cockpit. Blast it all to Hell! she thought, pulling on the controls to level herself back out.

Vez pulled her fighter around sharply, bringing herself face to face with the pitch-black Agressor with its blasters trained squarely on her.

Last chance to bolt, she thought to herself.

Vez grit her teeth, and armed her weapons.

The winding labyrinth was long, but Jon could tell they were moving, however gradually, forward. The trap that Kasulla had prevented him from triggering was far from the last, unfortunately, and the trio had to watch their steps to avoid them more and more as they went through, following Agate’s lead.

That’s good thought, Jon thought to himself. More traps means we’re going the right way. I think.

Agate, on the other hand, never seemed to need to be stopped. Despite her eyes remaining closed, she never triggered one of the traps – though there were a few close calls.

“How long can this thing possibly go?” Yvera asked no one in particular.

“Did you miss the part where we ran twice as long back as it took us to get down here and didn’t see a thing?” Kasulla replied. “Whatever this place is… I don’t think space works the same down here.”

Pleasant though, Jon mused, but kept his silenth. He didn’t much care for the idea of being stuck wandering these caves for the rest of his natural lifespan, and for all they knew that was a very real possibility.

Jon said none of that though. Leaders were supposed to show no doubt. Probably. He was still new to this, but that sounded… leaderish.

Slowly, Jon walked up behind Agate, and gently touched the young Jedi on the shoulder. She didn’t open her eyes, but her head tilted back to face him, so he took that as a sign he had her attention.

“So, uh… any chance the Force is telling you how close we are to the end of this thing?”

“That’s… not how the Force works, Captain.”

“Ah, yes, of course… uh, carry on then!” Jon said awkwardly, turning back around. Of course it couldn’t be that easy…

“Jon,” Agate said quietly enough that the others wouldn’t hear. “I know you’re worried. But I know we’ll make it through. I trust you.”

Well that definitely makes one of us, Jon thought. Outwardly though, he grinned his best grin.

“I trust you as well, Agate. Not to worry!” Jon said, racking his brain for some kind of plan… “Remember whoever built this place wanted us to --”

Jon!” Kasulla snapped at him. “Turn around you idiot.”

Jon about-faced, and saw… Ok, now this place is just taunting us. That wasn’t there a second ago!

Where a second ago had been more twists and turns, now there was a vast chasm, a gap in the ground leading down into… well, he couldn’t see the bottom. But he could see what was across it. Specifically, a tall statue of a woman in what superficially resembled the Empress’ robes. There were subtle differences however, that gave it an… archaic sort of feeling to it.

“I’m getting more and more curious about the people who built this place, you know,” Kasulla intoned.

“I’m more concerned about what the next trial will involve,” Ysera replied.

“What do you say we just focus on solving this one first, yeah?” Jon said, walking up to the edge of the chasm. The sapphire light from up above shone down, but it illuminated nothing.

“What do you suppose these are?” Kasulla asked, walking up next to him. She pointed to a series of pillars, two on each side of the chasm, each with a hole burrowed through the center.

“Well it looks like the place where a bridge would be located, but…” Jon gestured to the chasm in front of them.

“Yeah that’s inconvenient,” she said, tilting her head. “So… we solved the maze. Or rather, Agate solved the maze. Doesn’t that mean the trials’ over?”

“It’s not that straightforward…” Jon mumbled. “Nothing so far has been.”

“Ok, so… what’s left,” Agate asked. “What have we had to do so far?”

“For that matter,” Kassula asked, “What are we even being tested on? Our ability to solve a maze? Did the people who built this place not know about the Force?”

“Giant floating Khyber crystal,” Jon reminded them, pointing upwards. “Before we came here, I found similar ones in some Vatali ruins. They definitely knew about the Force. Maybe even had contact with the early Jedi.”

“Then why would the first trial be a maze?” Agate asked. “They had to know there was at least a chance that a Force sensitive - maybe even a Sith - could’ve blown through it.”

“Like we more or less just did,” Ysera commented.

“…Unless the maze wasn’t the test,” Jon whispered. “It’s something else. Something we did that… Agate! What were we doing right before all of…” he gestured vaguely towards the scene before them. “This! Happened?”

“Talking?” she said uncertainly.

“Talking about what?” Kassula stepped in, catching his train of thought.

“I… we said we trusted each other?” Agate said finally. “I don’t get it.”

“I think I’m starting to,” Jon said, running to one of the stone pillars, and looking inside. “And if I’m right…” he trailed off before running to the second pillar and looking inside again. Each one had a crystal formation inside in the shape of a handle.

“Trust,” Jon said. “That’s something heroes need, right? They need to trust each other?”

“Not just heroes,” said Ysera, walking up next to her sister. “Nobody in this galaxy gets very far without someone they can trust.”

“I don’t follow,” Agate said. “The maze ended because we said we trusted eachother?”

“Not just the maze,” Jon said, looking out over the chasm. “Remember when we were wandering around in the dark up there? That only ended after we trusted the rest of the Squadron to hold the line for us.”

“So what’s this trial?” Ysera asked.

Jon gestured to each of the two pillars. “I need two people to place their hands in these, please.” When they looked at him increduously he grinned and said “Trust me?”

Kasulla scoffed. “That was your worst one yet,” she said, walking up to the right pillar. After a second, Ysera followed her and walked to the left.

“Alright,” Jon said quietly. “On the count of three.”

“Do you know what’s going to happen when we do this,” Ysera asked, her hand hovering just outside.

“One,” he said.

“Two,” Kasulla continued.

Both twins stuck their hands into the pillars. For a second, nothing happened. Then, there was a rumbling sound, and for a heartbeat Jon was terrified they’d triggered some kind of booby trap.

Then, the blue crystal above them began to shine even brighter, bouncing off the blue rock and illuminating even further into the chasm beneath them. Both stone pillars began to radiate with their own inner light, and Jon watched in amazement as the way forward was revealed.

A bridge of translucent blue, almost like it was made of light itself, began to form, crossing the cavern. The second it reached the foot of the statue, all at once, everything became still again.

“Well that was… unnervingly easy,” Kassula said, and began removing her hand.

“Wait!” Jon called. The second she lifted her hand, the light from the bridge started to waver and fail. “Back, put it back!”

She immediately did so, and the bridge instantly righted itself again.

“Ok,” Agate said, walking up next to Jon. “So… we need to trust them not to drop the bridge while we’re crossing it?”

“I… really doubt it’s gonna be that simple, Agate,” Jon mused, edging his way up to the start of the bridge. “It seems almost too easy for a final challenge. But it’s a start.”

“Just get moving,” Ysera called. “My arm is already getting tired.”

“Right!” he declared. “Agate, you’re with me. You two… keep doing what you’re doing.”

“Oh yeah,” Ysera chuckled. “I was just thinking of taking a caf break.”

Jon didn’t dignify that with a response. Instead he slowly began working his way across the bridge. On the bright side, the gaping dark chasm under his feet almost made it look like the bridge he was crossing wasn’t mostly transparent. Small mercies, Jon, small mercies.

When they had managed to inch their way to the midpoint, Jon actually started to believe, flickering, that they were going to make it without any further difficulties.

“So far so good,” Agate whispered.

“Don’t jinx it Ag-” Jon was interrupted by a rumbling sound from above them. “There now, see what you’ve done?” he groused, turning to look at Agate. She, bless her, at least had the good courtesy to look sheepish.

“Jon!” Kasulla called, “We’ve got company!”

“Wonderful,” Jon called over his shoulder. “Lay out the tea and cookies for them!”

From out of the labyrinth, over the walls and around the corners, and even climbing up from the abyss itself, a horde of primitive looking droids were emerging, lumbering forward. Their metal was rusted, and thick wires and chords hung about on them, and in place of hands they had a pair of bulky, oversized blasters, all of which were trained squarely on the twins.

Ysera, reflexively, moved to pull her blaster free from its holster.

“Ysera, no, the bridge!” Kasulla called, and Ysera just barely stopped herself from pulling her hand out of the pillar, and damming Jon and Agate to a very long drop.

“Guys, we have a problem here!” she called, watching the droids advance closer, slowly but never altering their pace. “We can’t fight these things and hold this bridge! Get across,” she ducked under a blaster bolt that nearly took her head off, “Now please!”

Jon looked back and forth quickly, trying to calculate whether or not he and Agate could make it across the bridge before the twins were –

“Go, Jon, I’ll take care of this!” Agate shouted, snapping him out of his thoughts. By the time he looked over, she was already dashing across the bridge, lightsaber out and blazing.

“Well ok then,” Jon mumbled, turning the other way and dashing across the bridge. He didn’t have time to worry about heights right now, so he focused all his attention on the statue ahead of him and barreled forward as fast as his legs would carry him.

Agate didn’t stop to think about what was happening around her. There wasn’t time enough for that, not now. Instead, she remembered Master Sa’s training.

Immerse yourself in the Force, child.

She let go of her senses, her thoughts.

Let it flow into you, and then out at the world around. You are a conduit for the power.

Her ‘saber in one hand, and her blaster in the other, she descended among the droids, planting herself between them and the twins.

The Force will see you through whatever battles come, child. All you need to do…

Agate saw the droids hesitate in what might have been confusion.

…is trust it.

She smiled. Appropriate.

Nijalah’s scyk fighter dodged out of the way of yet another flurry of blaster bolts. She immediately came about, returning fire on the TIE that was on her tail.

“Tarvitz!” she called over the channel, “They’ve been down there without contact for too long. How much longer are we supposed to wait?”

*“Until they come back up, Nijalah. We’ve got our orders,” the colonel responded.

“I wouldn’t worry too much, girly,” the mystery woman who had swooped in midway through the battle replied. “Jon has this habit of showing up when you least expect - or want - him.”

“So you are from Odan-Ur,” Talis responded, curiosity in his voice. *“What brings you to our neck of the stars?”

Their conversation was interrupted by another flurry of shots, and Force-dammit how many TIE’s did these pirates have?

“How’s about we save the conversations for later?” the woman replied; the strain of keeping her fighter under control was evident in her voice.

“I second that!” Nijalah groused, banking hard to avoid more fire.

“You know, I was expecting a bit… more,” a deep voice echoed over their comms, and Nijalah frowned. “From the fabled Jedi, that is.”

Ninjalah heard the woman mutter something that sounded vaguely like Not a blasted Jedi, but the static made it hard to tell, and she had bigger things to worry about. That was the same voice that had come through earlier, mocking Tarvitz.

“Am I correct in assuming you’re Rhon Ya, then?” Tarvitz asked. Rhon Ya the pirate captain, Nijalah recalled. The leader of the Sea Raven Raiders. The man working with the backing of a rogue Inquistitorius, if their intel was to be believed.

“My reputation precedes me,” he said with what sounded like honest glee. Ugh. “Than surely you know what is down there is my property. I wish only to claim it.”

She opened her mouth to respond to that but… something was tickling at the back of her mind.

“Talis, did you feel that just now?” she asked.

“I did,” he replied. “And you our mystery friend?”

The woman didn’t respond, but there was a very annoyed sound. Or maybe that was just the interference.

*“Well something is happening down there,” Tarvitz said, and Nijalah angled her scyk to get a better view of the structure below them.

There was… a light. A bright blue beacon shining through the ice out of the dark within. It grew brighter and brighter, until it inexplicably burst like a cannon, shooting up into the sky, throwing their adversaries into chaos.

“Well that’s definitely something I’d say,” she commented, taking the opportunity to shake the TIE that had been tailing her, and circling back around. “I’m going in for a closer look.”

*“Careful, we don’t know what to expect,” Tarvitz said, pulling his ship around to fire on a straggler.

Nijalah flew low enough to get a clear view while still maintaining her altitude. Between the bright light and the snow, she couldn’t get a clear look, and the scanners couldn’t pierce the blizzard. Thankfully, she wasn’t limited to such mundane means of detection.

The Jedi closed her eyes, trusting in the Force to guide her hands as they piloted her scyk fighter for her. Instead, her focus was on what was below, reaching out through that great universal energy field to see things far beyond her eyes. What she saw made her smile, and she was the only one caught off-guard when a familiar voice echoed over the communications.

Jon didn’t have time to feel relief when his feet were finally back on solid rock. He didn’t even have time to take in the sight of the enormous statue and its magnificent carvings, so smooth and detailed one would almost expect it to come to life.

No, his friends – up above, and down here in the dark – were fighting for their lives, and he needed to finish this race already.

Jon scanned the area with his eyes, deliberately tuning out the sounds of battle the way his grandfather had taught him. There wasn’t, as it turned out, much to see. Just the monolithic statue, standing atop a narrow cliff over the dark below.

What was he even supposed to do now that he was here? Jon took the map out from his pack, hoping maybe the thing that had started this whole mess would offer some kind of clue. He held it up to the statue. Nothing. He tried shifting the panels around the way Bokk had shown him back in that hospital room. Nothing.

He didn’t let himself panic, didn’t let himself get frustrated.

He started looking to the statue. Parts of it, especially at the base, were covered in some kind of blue cave moss. Carvings and etchings peaked out from under them… wait.

Jon got down on his knees, and started brushing portions of it away, and grinned. Hidden beneath the moss was a perfectly carved space, half a sphere, and exactly the size of the map. He took the map in hand and –

“Agate, look out!” he heard one of the twins call, and spun around. Agate was fighting off the droids admirably, but doing so while defending the twins? It left gaps in even a Jedi’s defence, and one of the droid’s was about to take advantage of it.

Jon didn’t even think about what happened next. One minute he was watching the scene play out, the next the droid inexplicably had a dagger sprouting from its oversized head.

Agate turned to see Jon, one arm outstretched from across the chasm, where he stood at the base of the statue. Turning around, he took out the spherical map, and slammed it down into a half-sphere opening in the statue’s base. It fit perfectly.

As one, the remaining droids froze still, like statues of a battle.

Well done, heroes. a voice boomed throughout the cavern. It was deep and melodious, undoubtedly feminine, like a smooth song being sung though there was no music.

You have passed the first Trial. It seems the Light is needed once more. You have shown trust, in yourself, in your allies, and in each other. Go forward with my blessing, and onto the next Trial.
After that, the crystal above them blinked out, and everything was plunged into darkness.

“Jeez,” Talis heard Jon say over the channel. “I leave you guys alone for an hour, and this is what happens? Can’t take you all anywhere, I swear.”

“Cut the chatter Silvon,” Tarvitz snapped, breaking off his pursuit of a TIE to focus on the conversation. “You get what we came for, or what?”

“The answer is yes,” Kasulla replied. “And no, it wasn’t easy. We’re fine by the way, thank you for asking.”*

“It sounds,” came the slithery voice of Rhon Ya again. “Like you have something that belongs to me.”

“Tarvitz, who’s speaking?” Jon asked casually.

“The pirate guy you warned us about,” Talis responded.

*“Funny you call me pirate,” Ya shot back. “When you are running around with something stolen from my own ship by a traitor.”

*“Traitor?” Jon quipped. “Why, mister Bokk seemed like a perfectly trustworthy --”

“Ok, Jon?” the woman responded. “As entertaining as this is, there is a dog-fight going on up here. Can we deal with that first? Thank you.”

“Ah, Vez!” Jon replied. “I was hoping it was you!”

“What’re you–”

“Banter later,” Nijalah finally snapped, pulling her scyk up to rejoin the battle. “Fight now!”

“Agreed!” Jon said, right before The Carnival rose up from the ground to follow her, accompanied by Agate and Kasulla’s vessels.

“Alright Tython Squadron!” Jon said. “Let’s show them what we’ve got!”