Victory’s Revenge II swiveled into the hangar, parking next to Slave I.
“Alright, Aaray. You know where she is. Find her. Feel free to slot any of the ‘expert marksmen’ that round the corner.”
“I wasn’t aware I needed your permission.”
“Whatever. With our luck, Fett dragged some Journeyman Protectors with him. Great. Alright. If you don’t hear from me in thirty minutes, get to the ship. Dos will get you out of there.”
“Or carry on because you’re waiting for my signal, not the other way around.”
“Fine. See you around. Hopefully with Shushai in tow.”
“I suppose if anything goes wrong you can go all mystic guardian on me.”
“Feel that? That was me poking you with the Force.”
“Very funny, my Basic must have failed me,I heard an intelligent, reasonable statement. I really need to practice more.”
“It’s what you get for trying to think me a rational person.”
“Here they come, I can hear them.”
“Alright. See you.”
The boarding ramp hissed open and a squad of pristine white Stormtroopers entered the ship with the subtlety and harmlessness of a blizzard. “Sir, we’ve been given orders to take you to one of the conference rooms. And to ask you leave any weapons here.”
“Give me a minute, then.”
The whole group shuffled for a minute like they all shared one mind, “Very well then.”
Kom’rk dropped the Verpine rifle on the ground, as well as one WESTAR. He kept the other in his boot, as well as the bes’kade.
Aaray saw her window and took it. Her armour had a very limited cloaking field on it, she decided to see just how far she could push it. She ran behind the troopers and into the hanger. Her helmet pointed her to the nearest computer console, there she could find out exactly where she was headed.
The troopers moved as one behind the Mandalorian as they led him to the conference room. They walked past featureless corridors, passing many a stormtrooper and officer. Eventually, they reached the conference room, and guided him inside.
Caton Brower grinned as the Mandalorian walked into the room, a dark.look on his face.
“Where is the female?”
“Dead,” Kom’rk lied. “She died within minutes of our assault. I did bring the heads of the leaders.”
“Good; that alien scum wasn’t needed anyway. We will negotiate your payment and the release of your sibling.”
Cell 2469. Aaray wondered for a moment how the cells got their number, but dismissed the thought. ‘No alarms, that’s got to be a plus.’ She rounded a corner and ran right into a passing guard. The impact threw her fragile cloak off and she was left staring at a very surprised liability. “What is the meaning of this?” She didn’t bother answering, just shot him where he stood. Now it would get interesting; she broke into a sprint. The synchronized ‘clomp’ of boots approached as she left.
Kom’rk rolled his eyes under his helmet: Brower was simply spouting nonsense. And he called the entire Kiffar species ‘scum’. Whatever respect as a man Kom’rk had left for the captain was gone. Abruptly, the door opened, and in stepped the worst possible person at the worst possible time.
“And you are?”
“Kom’rk Parjai’Kote. What are you doing here?”
“Captain Brower had some business for me. And you?”
“Eliminating a Rebel cell. Not that it’s worth anything to you.”
Boba Fett ignored the other Mandalorian, and glanced at Brower.
“Anything else for me, Captain?”
The mood in the room tensed as a lackey barged into the conference room.
“Captain, we have an officer down near the detention level. Course of action?”
The captain’s eyes shifted and focused on the Mandalorian in grey.
“Parjai’Kote, do you have something to do with this? At this very moment, I could pull up the surveillance footage from that very sector.”
Kom’rk tried to maintain his calm: “I have no idea what you are talking about, Brower.”
Fett positioned himself between Kom’rk and the door; Brower reached down, and with surprising strength for a man of his paunch, hauled Kom’rk from the chair and against the wall.
“You know this intruder. I know you do.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, you thieving fool. I came prepared.” Kom’rk pulled a bes’kad from his boot in a well-practiced move, and brought it to Brower’s neck, turning the tables. The lackey instinctively pulled his sidearm; Fett pulled his EE-3. Kom’rk pulled his WESTAR with his free hand and fired one shot at the lackey, the smoking hole in the cranium confirming the kill.
Fett fired a burst at Kom’rk, the three-bolt streak aimed for the head. The momentum of Fett’s draw acted negatively; one hit Kom’rk below the shoulder plate, the other two bounced off of the shoulder plate and into the bulkhead. Kom’rk grimaced, dropped Brower, and took the opportunity to bolt toward the door.
Blaring alarms did not help her concentrate. Aaray had given up sprinting and was now just running. The door appeared in front of her. The lock took about four seconds to pick. More alarms rang out. Red light flooded the corridor and her adrenaline spiked. “Su’cuy? Anyone here?”
The weak voice from inside the cell answered, “Ni olar, meg gar?”
“Aaray Tracyn, and now would be a very good time to get very far away.”
The alarms blared a little louder, “Like five seconds ago now.”
“You’re right...do you have a weapon?”
“Actually, right now I’m having having to use random stormtroopers’ blasters because mine got hit. They’re not as bad as you’d think.”
“You’re a conversational person, aren’t you?”
“In high stress situations, yes. On average, not really.”
“Hm. So no weapons. I’ll hide in here then.”
Aaray never cursed, she took it as an uncreative way to deal with problems. But after today she could understand people’s use of them. This was beginning to get repetitive. Shoot, kill, make progress, hope you got to the end of the hall alive. It was almost depressing. ‘Nothing like the smell of burning ozone to trigger deep thought.’
“Over here!” She groaned.
A shot rang out and the air around her buzzed. “Missed again, really, thought you guys were better than that.” More blaster fire, now she had their location pinned. ‘Sounds like... twelve. What I wouldn’t give for a grenade right about now.’
Kom’rk staggered out of the conference room, and ran into the hallway. The surprisingly deserted hallway was occupied only by the squad of six stormtroopers that had brought him here. They glanced at him, then lurched into a ready position as he sliced the throat of the one holding his Verpine Sniper Rifle, grabbed it, and fired at the other five. In the blink of an eye, only the Mandalorian remained standing. Kom’rk clutched his shoulder, grabbed his second WESTAR as the spurt of adrenaline wore off. His wound flared again, so he broke into a run toward the cell block. He found the first door, and hacked his way best he could into it.
The door led him to a maintenance hallway, a dimly lit, scarlet-bathed corridor of durasteel and bulkhead. He opened up the schematic on his HUD, grimaced as his wound flashed, then tried to find a way to Aaray.
Caton Brower fixed his collar; this Mandalorian was a tough one. He nodded to Fett, then opened the door. Outside lay the bodies of the six stormtroopers who had brought the Mandalorian. One of them had died from a slash wound to the throat, probably from the saber Mandalorians were notorious for carrying; the rest had died with a slug in their chest, center mass, probably killed before they could react. He would personally dismember him. He knew it.
He called out to a passing sergeant who seemed to care less about the carnage before him.
“Get me six squads on the double. Have them converge on the detention level. I presume the source of this carnage as well as our officer’s assassin are working together. We will wipe them out.”
The sergeant nodded, and darted the opposite way. Brower turned around, and glanced at the silent bounty hunter.
“Do you know this Mandalorian?”
“No, I don’t. But while I don’t condone his reckless abandon, I do appreciate his resolve to do what he wants.”
“So you applaud the destruction of an entire squad worth of resources? I could have Vader upon you in a millisecond.”
“Vader could try to kill me, nothing more; however, we are wasting time.”
Kom’rk was at the detention level. Unfortunately, already he had encountered another squad, presumably looking for Aaray. He had no comms, so he was basically flying blind. He peered around the corner, then sneaked quietly down the hall. According to his helmet schematics, he wasn’t too terribly far off from Shushai’s presumed location.
The sounds of blasterfire ahead resounded off the walls. He sighed to himself: the Kiffar would not give up. He placed his Sniper Rifle snugly in the crook of his shoulder, and advanced toward the echoes.
Shushai ducked behind the bulkhead, and wildly wondered what the female Mandalorian trying desperately to clear the hallway was doing here. Was she affiliated with Kom’rk? Or was she a reckless bandit who suicidally decided to amble into a Star Destroyer and free a prisoner?
Abruptly, more stormtroopers began falling, either a bes’kad to the chest or a slug to the back of the helmet.
The last grunt fell, and the grey-decked Mandalorian appeared. Aaray appeared to loosen visibly, and walked toward the male. Shushai stood and crossed her arms.
“Glad you chose to show up. It just wasn’t a party without you.”
“So I see you found yourself a companion, brother.”
The filtered voice answered back, “It’s not what it looks like, Shu’ika...”
“So she’s more than a companion, Kom’rk? You know that Buir would not approve.”
“Buir is dead, Shushai! You decided to get into trouble, when I explicitly told you not to leave Mandalore; and you’re getting on to me for finding a female that doesn’t want to exploit me? I’m sorry I have a free will.”
Aaray cleared her throat, “Still here you know,” She murmured.
Shushai cast a glare at Aaray. She sighed and spoke again. “Kom’rk, you know that’s not what I meant. I was just concerned about you. You had been pretty down the days before you left.”
Kom’rk raised his hand, ending the discussion. He clutched his shoulder, and Shushai gazed worriedly at the wound.
“I’m fine, Shu’ika. Fett hit me--” The hissing of the bulkhead signaled the renewal of the firefight. He dropped into a crouch, and Shushai followed suit.
“Shushai, here. Take this.” He handed her the Verpine, and pulled his WESTARs. “You’ll need it. Aaray, we’ve got two choke points at the ends of the hallway. I cleared one end, if we want to head that way. Shushai can take them out from long distance, and we can focus on getting out of here.”
Caton Brower glared at the stormtroopers waiting to enter the detention corridor. He understood that within was imminent death, but he expected them to do their duty. If only he had some clones from the Republic. He heard they did their duty without question.
The bulkhead hissed open, and the stormtroopers filed into the hallway. A deadly hail of slugs and blaster bolts cut down most of them, so Brower ducked into cover. Fett unslung his EE-3 and let off several bursts at the trio of Mandalorians.
Kom’rk ducked as a new staccato of blasterfire entered the fray. He tried to not get killed and protect Aaray, who was hacking the door open, at the same time.
“How long until you’re finished? There are way too many of them...”
“How about now? Let’s go.”
“Fine. Shushai, send ‘em a frag.”
Shushai nodded, took the thermal detonator her brother had offered, and threw it down the hallway. The door hissed open, and they stepped through.
“Sir! They’ve entered at the other end of this corridor! We confirm three intruders.”
“Fett, encircle them!”
“I’ll do what I please.”
Boba Fett lowered his weapon, nodded to the majority of the stormtroopers, and led them back down the hallway.
A clang resounded down the hall. Aaray turned her head to listen. “Frack!”
“What was that?” Shushai asked, nervously clutching the Sniper Rifle.
“Lots of troopers, and someone not wearing the same boots. Not good.”
“We need to figure something out. No handy ventilation shafts...yup. Going to have to stand and fight.”
“No, we’d never hold out. You two go, I’ll cover.”
“No way. You take Shu’ika, I’ll hold them off.”
She shook her head, “Not going to happen. I’m using one of their blasters, I can use the dead’s ammo, I have a chance. We came here for your sister, take her and go.”
“I’m not leaving without you. Not now.”
“I- I...” A shout this time, closer, “I don’t have time to argue, just go. Please.”
Kom’rk looked to Shushai, as if for guidance.
“Are you sure you want us to leave, Aaray?”
“We don’t have a choice. I’m sorry. So sorry, I-” A shot sounded. Aaray shot one look back at them, then ran off.
Kom’rk shouted in grief, a final “Aaray!” before pulling himself away and turning. He opened the door again, and raised his WESTARs at the remaining stormtroopers, blindly guided by fury. He tore through too many of them, noticing the fleeing Brower. He squeezed several shots off, but was stopped by a stormtrooper who took the bullets. Shushai helped as best she could by taking down the stragglers, but when the enemy was dead, she could not help but notice her brother wasting rounds on already-deceased stormtroopers.
“Kom’rk, stop! They’re dead! We need to get to the ship!” She said, placing a hand on his shoulder.
He ignored her, and ran toward the opposite doorway.
Purple static laced itself over Aaray’s burgundy armor. Her helmet whined and screeched. Blinding black and white covered the HUD. She threw it off, disregarding safety. The rancid smell, the searing heat, and deafening sounds of the plasma from the enemy’s blasters dulled her now unshielded senses. “Surrender! The Empire will accept your surrender, and you shall be rewarded with a swift death.” A voice, filtered to sound like a million of his peers scraped above the carnage. His answer was an energy bolt through the weak spots in his armor. Aaray bent down over the body to retrieve the fallen’s ammunition, she had to keep going. If it was the last thing she did, which it probably would be, she had to keep going. She had made this choice, she’d stick with it to the end. ‘Whatever end that may be.’
The hangar bay. The ship was within sight. Unfortunately, Brower was smart enough to have two squadrons guarding it. Kom’rk nodded to Shushai, and she placed a round in each of the twelve stormtroopers’ heads. She was accurate--deadly accurate, he gave her that.
They were home free, twenty yards, fifteen yards, ten...suddenly Kom’rk dropped. Shushai dropped into a ready stance. The stormtrooper that had sneaked in unsuspectedly had landed a shot to Kom’rk’s side. Shushai raised the Sniper Rifle, and fired. She grabbed her brother’s arm, and dragged him the rest of the way to the boarding ramp. She pressed the button on her gauntlet, and the ramp lowered. She struggled into the ship, and deposited Kom’rk in the bedroom for Dos.
She sat down in the pilot’s chair, and punched the stick forward as soon as she was off the ground. She needed to escape the tractor beam...
She yanked the stick to the side, and the ship dipped toward the underside of the Star Destroyer. Once there, it hovered, and she punched in coordinates to Mandalore. They would be back.
“Don’t move.” An ominous click resounded from around where Aaray was knelt over the body of the trooper. She lifted her eyes, white boots formed a circle around her position, and judging from the stance, they all had blasters. Moving as quickly as she could she spun to pull the legs out from under the trooper behind her, as she did so she pulled herself up to kick out at the next one. Rings of blue emerged from one of the blasters and the last thing Aaray Tracyn saw was blinding white.
End Part 1