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Old 04-09-2006, 01:26 AM   #32
machievelli
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Danika

Break into a base, fight who knows how many guards, find the launch codes, then get into the Lowercity past yet more guards in the midst of a serious battle? Sure no problem.

It seemed to be my day for impossible missions.

I walked back toward the apartment. I had to leave someone behind, but who? I was dealing with two serious prima donnas here.

I decided I would leave Carth. He could inform the others of what we were doing, and at least he and Mission got along. I signaled for him to move closer, and gave him his instructions. He looked pensive. Probably wanted to keep his eye on me even now. “Maybe we should finish our discussion.”

He stiffened. “I said I didn’t want to talk about it.”

“Well I do.”

“Listen sister, just because were working together doesn't mean you get to poke and prod at me every chance you get!”

“So we have another problem?”

“Blast it, you are the most stubborn and frustrating woman I have ever met!”

“I’m frustrating? Look who’s talking!”

“What? Me? What did I do?”

“What, you stepped out for a drink and sandwiches for the last few days? Where have you been that you don‘t remember all the crap I‘ve had to take from you?”

“Okay, I give up. I’ll talk!” He sighed, and inside of him I felt a pustule of hate burst. “I could really use someone to talk to about it.” She watched me silently. “When I think of everyone who betrayed us, the one that stands out above all the others is Saul.”

“Saul? You say that name like I should know it.”

“You don’t? I thought everyone did. Saul Karath is the Admiral commanding the entire Sith fleet now. He’s the reason Malak has done so well since Revan died.

“But he didn’t start there. He was the first officer I reported to back when I joined during the Mandalorian wars. He was only the exec of a Frigate then, an old man who had been passed over because he didn’t have the right connections, but he was going up the promotion ladder fast since the Mandalore wars started. He took a green kid under his wing, and taught me everything I know about how to fight. When he transferred to his own ship, he took me along. Then it was Admiral Karath, and I was still there, now as command pilot for his ship. I looked up to him, and he betrayed me. He’s up there now with that very ship. Leviathan.

“I was transferred home for a while there. Revan and Malak had taken the fleet out on a deep space recon, looking for any remaining Mandalorian holdouts. Three years ago they came home.

“He approached me right before he went over. I had just been recalled because of the first Sith attacks. He talked about how the Republic was weak, how it was going to fall unless the strong took the lead. He told me that if it came to that fight, I should be on the winning side.” I shrugged. “I didn’t think about it until later, but I heard later that he was sounding out a lot of the officers aboard. He was trying to get me to join him. Me, I was home, I was happy, and I was sick of fighting. We fought, he left. That was the last time I saw him.”

“But you didn’t think he would betray the Republic.”

“Saul was my mentor. Before the Jedi joined us he was in the front of every battle, and he brought us through even when it looked hopeless. After all the men that had died under his command, all of the battles he had won, I couldn’t see him turning his back on what he had stood for.

“He did though. Worse yet he gave them the access codes to the planetary shield grid. I was assigned to the fleet there, and saw the waves of bombers and fighters coming in unnoticed and unopposed when we arrived. I knew then how they had pulled it off. We fought, and lost.” I felt my eyes burn. “I could have saved them if I had killed Saul before he betrayed us, before he betrayed me! But I didn’t.”

“So you blame yourself for trusting your friend.”

“I blame Saul! I was... I was naive. I ignored the danger such a man could be on the other side. He nearly destroyed us all.

“I’ve fought him for years now. If I ever meet him face to face I am going to make him regret what he’s done with his dying breath.”

“That isn’t all.”

“It is for now.”

We reached the apartment. I made sure Carth had his communicator on, and Bastila and I left again. We went to North City. The droid shop was where I had been told it was, and I entered. There was the smell of burning insulation, and A Twi-lek was cursing in her own language behind a counter.

I called her, and she came out. “Canderous sent me!”

“Ah! For the little droid.” She went into the back, and a little wheeled astromech droid rolled out. “As specified, the droid is disguised as an astromech, but it has several features. Weapons!” A blaster popped out of a panel in it’s front. Two other tubes lifted one to either side of its dome. “A shield disruptor and a stun beam. All I had for installed weaponry unfortunately. It also has a full security and encryption package as requested.”

“Good. How much.”

“Two thousand.”

I winced, but Davik was a big man, and would have paid without complaint. I pulled out the coins, dropping them into her palm. “Hey, big spender! Well, he’s all yours. T3M4, go with her.”

The droid whistled, dome turning to lock onto my face. It beeped quizzically at me. Janice handed me a small com screen. “I didn’t install voice circuits, but you can read what he says here. It attaches on the wrist.”

I looked at the screen

-Can you get me out of this shop before she thinks of more modifications?-
“I laughed. “Let’s go T3.”


He whistled. -Good finally somewhere else-

Bastila and I walked across the concourse past the elevator that led down to Bek territory. It opened, and half a dozen wounded were carried out. We followed as those were taken to a shuttle that then lifted off. The battle was still raging down below.

The door to the base was unguarded, and I leaned against the wall beside it. Watching the shuttle take off. Another was coming down to take its place. “T3, Open this door.”

He bleeped at me, rolling forward. An arm extended, and he stretched his frame upward until it linked to the lock plate. There was a clicking sound, and the arm retracted, the door opening. I walked past him into the elevator.

There was a Twi-lek at the receptionist’s desk, and her eyes widened when she saw us. “You’re not supposed to be here!” She looked at the desk, probably at an alarm button.

“Wait, you really don’t want to be here in the next few minutes. Maybe you can take a lunch break?” I flashed a 50-credit coin.

She grinned. “As long as you let me out of here before all hell breaks loose!” I flipped her the coin, and she took off running.

“T3!” The little droid rolled forward, and inserted the arm into a slot. I watched the screen.

-Four concentrations of life forms. War droids patrolling halls. Heavy combat droid in the elevator. Blaster turrets in elevator and armory-

“Can you gas them?” I asked.

-Negative. However two concentrations of guards are in rooms where I can blow access panels and remove them-

“Do it.”

-Complying. Done-

“Now take the droids down.”

-Query, take down? -

“Deactivate.”

-Understood. War droids in diagnostic cycle. Will remain for ten minutes. Heavy combat droid systems can be reached, but only force field can be deactivated. That has been done. Turrets have been shut down-

“Now download a base schematic.”

He did so, and I checked the screen. There were four Sith in a room right off the reception area, five in a control room. Red markers noted the presence of light blaster turrets now deactivated.

I motioned for Bastila to follow, and ran to the door. It opened, and we were among the enemy. I cut one down, turned to another, and hacked him down as well. Bastila had shoved the officer in uniform into a console, and he whimpered as his back broke. T3 calmly shot the last one.

I put the officer out of his misery, and we ran down the hall. It opened into a vaguely triangular room. There were restraint fields to the side, and the occupied one caught my eye. “You?”

The Duros looked at me. “You remember me?”

“I remember a brave soul that hid bodies so they wouldn’t be discovered.”

“Not well enough. I was captured last night.”

“Can we free you?”

“The panel on the wall control the cage.” I ran over, and released the field. As it came down, he stumbled out, then ran for the entrance.

There were five guards in the section to our left, and I led us that way because it’s stupid to leave an enemy at your back and I didn't want to have to fight every Sith on the planet to escape. The hall opened into a control room, and I froze as I saw a mine laid at the threshold. But T3 rolled forward, and deactivated it. I ran forward toward the center where four people worked at the consoles. Bastila followed me as T3 shot the technician.

One of the armored guards reached for his weapons, and was down as I continued my rampage. The other went down, then I turned. Bastila had taken the other two. I motioned and we hurried to the room we had just left to go the other direction. At the end of the hall, I opened the door, then ducked instinctively. The heavy attack droid had been waiting, and only my reaction had saved my life. Bastila reached out, and the droid arched as electricity ran wild through it‘s chassis. Then it sagged and collapsed.

I motioned and we went on into the elevator. It was a short trip down, and I readied my equipment as it did. Then it opened into a room. A man in Sith armor, bald head gleaming turned, glaring at us, “Who dares...” He stared at Bastila, then at me with increasing interest. “So there were two of your kind, Bastila. Your master, perhaps?” He drew. “It doesn’t matter, you’re both dead.” He stepped forward, then froze staring at me. “You!” Then he screamed, charging. I felt something hit me in the chest, and somehow stayed on my feet. I blocked his cut, then Bastila slammed him against a wall, cutting him in half before he could fall to the ground.

“Me?” I asked.

“They recognized you from the race obviously.” Bastila suggested.

We searched the room, finally finding the pad with the launch codes. With our timer running down, I led a frantic run back out of the base.

T3 had not been able to extend the cycle, so we only had a couple of minutes. I ran down the promenade to the elevator.

“No civilians-” The guard started and I rammed the authorization papers I had kept into his face. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know they had extended your contracts.” I walked past him, and opened the door. As the elevator dropped I heard a wailing alarm. I keyed my communicator. “Carth!”

“Go ahead.”

“The fat is in the fire. We have really heavy crap coming down in the next few minutes. Ready to move?”

“Yeah. Mission got into the local database, and we have a shuttle prepped and ready to launch.”

“I’m enroute to our meeting with Canderous. Lift off and get ready to head toward Davik‘s estate.”

“You mean the big area marked fatal to all incursions?” Mission asked from the background.

“Well it’s either that or surrender.”

“I take your point.” Mission replied.

The area at the base of the elevator was packed with wounded not yet transported. I threaded my way through them, and turned, headed for the cantina. Bastila followed, eyes downcast. Still no one noticed her. I nodded to the doorman, and entered the Cantina.


Bastila

When the Sith apprentice had shouted, I was worried. He tried to throw us back with the force, but she resisted it well, and I had been ready for it.

I dealt with him swiftly, and while my answer was lame, she seemed to accept it. We hurried through the maze of paths and finally entered the Lowercity cantina. It was not even close to being as clean as the one above, but the fighting seemed to have kept it busy. Danika moved through the crowd, and there was Canderous.

He tapped his earpiece, grinning. “Some piece of work you did girl. Sure you weren’t born among the Mando?”

“That I am sure of.” She replied. “All right, we have the codes, now what?”

“We walk into Davik’s place, take it down, and grab the ship.”

“Is that all?” She asked aghast. “Probably the most heavily fortified place on the planet and he’s going to just let us walk in?”

“Davik is always looking for quality talent. As you saw down in the Wasteland, there isn’t much to be had on this backwater flyspeck. That was why he hired me. But he hired some bounty hunter-”

“Calo Nord.”

“That’s him. He thinks that because he kills retail, he’s as good as one of my people. Better than me!” He snarled. “I’d like to see a hundred of his kind take on just one battle phalanx of Mandalorian recruits!” He snarled, then the emotion was gone. “He watched the swoop race, and thought you looked like a good candidate, especially after the altercation with the Vulkars. He said that if I could contact you, he wanted to offer you a job. I’m just following orders. The way he works he‘ll offer for you to be his guest while he does a background check. If you clear, he hires you. If you don‘t.” He flicked his thumb across his neck.

“That might actually work. What about my friends?” I motioned upward.

“They can fly in after we get there. The shield extends to the elevators and landing bay. Once they come down, I can transmit the code to open them from outside. Your friends can land right on the pad beside the Ebon Hawk.”

Danika nodded. “All right, I’m in. When do we go?”

“Right now. I have a skimmer waiting.” He looked at me. “But I bring you, he’s going to be thinking credits big time. The reward has been jumped to 10,000 credits. You had better stay here.”

“But-”

“No. Danika shook her head. She touched the com on her wrist. “Carth?”

“We’re airborne. Headed for the estate.”

“Change of plans. You have to pick up Bastila. “ I considered. “The apartments at the West end of the promenade here. Home in on her com unit.”

“Next time let’s schedule all the stops first.” He laughed “Mission forgot to go to the bathroom before we left.” I heard Mission squeal at the comment in the background.

“Good. Listen in on my unit after picking up Bastila. Canderous is going to give us the code for Davik’s defensive shields.”

“Better and better. I’ll be there.”

They led me to the apartment complex, and Canderous blew out the window with his heavy blaster. A shuttle dropped down, and I could see Carth coolly gauging the distance. The hatch opened, and Zaalbar was standing there, waving. I leaped, and he caught me, dragging me aboard.

The last thing I saw was that frail form waving wordlessly once before she disappeared back into the structure.

Leviathan

Like a great killing fish, Leviathan swam over the planet. One of the largest ships ever built, the Interdictor cruiser was over 600 meters long, and carried a crew of almost 3000.

On the bridge, a man watched the planet below. Darth Malak was in a foul mood. If he had still had teeth he would have been gnashing them. A week wasted on this futile exercise!

Admiral Saul Karath came up behind him. He had seen Malak lash out at those that disturbed him when he was meditating, but he had after all been sent for.

“You summoned me, Lord Malak?”

“Report.”

“The men in the Undercity are being routed. We have already lost a hundred or more to those damnable Swoop riders. Who thought a gang of incompetent criminals could be this good at fighting?” He hesitated. “There is also a report that someone attacked our base in the Uppercity. Calan is among the dead.”

Malak didn‘t even flinch. One of those vying to be his apprentice had just died, and he didn’t seem to care. “I grow weary of this. Bastila is either dead, or down among the riders. I cannot risk letting her escape. I want the fleet to close in and destroy the planet.”

“Sir? But there are billions of innocent civilians down there! Not to mention our own men!” He knew as well as Malak that any attempt to withdraw the troops would be seen as clearing the planet for demolition.

Malak turned. His bald head glinted, but the gorget that covered his face below the eyes gleamed even more. “Your predecessor once questioned my orders, Admiral. I trust you are not making the same fatal mistake?”

Saul had seen that, the man gasping as his heart had torn from his chest into Malak’s hand. All without a word. “No my lord. However only we are in position to begin such a bombardment. It will take some time, several hours to move the others into an interlocking position.”

“Then I suggest you get to it.” Malak turned, dismissing his servant.

Estate

The run to the estate didn’t take that long. Canderous wasn’t the kind for unnecessary talk. He just sat there as the automated system took us to our destination. T3 had come with us, and he bleeped to himself. I looked at the screen.

-How do I get out of this crazy outfit? - I laughed, rubbing my hand across the dome. He burbled, and I looked at the screen again. -OH baby! Right on the sensor! -

“Behave.” I said.

The screen bleeped, and an automated voice said, “Inbound skimmer, state your authorization or be fired on.”

“Now.” He whispered leaning forward. “Authorization 9941210.”

I had keyed my com, and it tingled as Carth sent back a silent acknowledgement. The skimmer lifted, and entered a tower near the Western extreme of the city. It dropped to the deck, and powered down. We stepped out, passed through a door, and into a hall. Davik stood there. He was a chubby man in his fifties, hair slicked down. He wore what looked like a suit of heavy armor. “Well, if it isn’t the best swoop rider in twenty years!’ He said. He came forward, shaking my hand firmly. “I’ve seen what you can do and I am impressed.”

A man entered from behind Davik and I looked at him. Calo Nord. “Well, you usually work solo Canderous. Getting soft in your old age? Or did her face turn your head?”

“Watch your mouth, Calo.” Canderous gritted out. “You may be the newest hound in the pack but you’re not the top dog while I’m still here.”

“Guys, let it go. I can’t stand to see my two best men fighting.” He gave me a wry look as if to say ‘boys!’ “So you decided to accept my offer?”

“Let’s just say your offer intrigued me.” I replied.

“Fair enough. The Exchange is always looking for new talent. You could go far in the organization if you live up to expectations.” He looked at Canderous. “With Canderous’ recommendation and verification that you don’t really work for some law enforcement organization, you could easily become a valued member of the Exchange. There are those that would kill their mothers for such an offer.”

“The offer was interesting enough that I am here, Davik.”

“Well come along and I’ll show you around.” He motioned for me to walk beside him, leaving Canderous and Calo to follow. He did have a big operation. A warehouse full of goods from all over the galaxy, a room filled with guards and a dozen boxes of glitterstim spice from Kessel. And slaves. I wanted to vomit at that. The slaves looked pathetically willing to please, their slave collars explaining why they were so obedient. Finally we walked through the hanger. I had never seen a JT 4100 up close, and I wasn’t impressed at first glance. I know Carth had enthused about its capabilities, and was impressed by the guns in the turrets, one above and below, and larger bore cannon attached firing forward on her hull port and starboard. “There she is. The newly upgraded Ebon Hawk. Remind me to tell you how I got her later. It’s quite a story.” He led us through a large room that Davik called his ‘throne room‘, then into the guest wing.

“These are your accommodations while you are my guest. The house slaves are quartered right down there. If there’s anything you desire, food, drink,” He leered, ‘A massage, your wish is their command.”

“Am I a prisoner?”

“Perish the thought! Thanks to the law enforcement agencies we have been forced to use deeper background checks than we are used to. That forces us to make the applicants wait. At least I’m not a Hutt! They’d throw you in a dungeon and let you out afterward without even an apology!

“Once the background check is done, we’ll talk again. Then I will make you an offer. I would suggest you consider it very carefully when I do.” I could see the cold anger in his eyes. He wouldn’t like having someone turn down his offer! “Until then, I bid you farewell.” He motioned, and left, followed by Calo. The door hissed closed.

Canderous growled, then went to the table. He ripped it free of the floor, and slammed it into the wall.

“I’ve seen him treat his Kath-hounds better.” He snarled. “Well we’re inside. Ready?”

I nodded. I started to reach for my com, but he stopped me. “Davik has every circuit monitored. Any calls from here gets us killed right now.” I nodded again, and opened the door.

The hall was empty. “Which way?”

“Through the throne room, then left, down the hall to the main security computer, then we blow the door to the hanger, grab the ship and get out of here.”

“Where’s the nearest computer?”

He looked at me. “Turn right at the throne room. There’s a common terminal there.”

“Then we go there first. Hey, T3!” The little droid whistled. “Ready to do some more slicing?”

I looked at the screen. -Always ready-

We moved through the throne room. There were three guards in the room, and we took them down fast. T3 raced to the terminal, and a blaster bolt just missed singing him. I ran up, through the door that had opened on the right, and took down the guards there.

“T3, gas or zap any rooms you can! Then get the hanger door open!” I shouted.

The droid worked, then paused, giving a whistle and a few bleeps. -Rooms gassed, most of the life forms are dead. However the codes for the hanger door and access codes for the ship are not in this system-

“Who has them?”

-Davik Kang, Calo Nord, and a man named Hudrow-

“All right, we can’t get to Davik or Calo without entering the hanger, so there is no way to get to them. Where is Hudrow?”

-In the ‘guest room’ -

“Davik’s torture chamber.” Canderous explained. “What did he do to deserve that?”

“Where?”

Canderous led me into the throne room, turning right again. We were headed for the spice refinery. The door opened, and I was charging even before I saw the bounty hunter that was patrolling the hall. I killed him. Canderous watched with respect. “You sure you’re not aren’t Mando? Ever been a war bride?”

“No. You can explain it later. Where.” He pointed again to the right, and I ran that way. The door opened, and I stared in horror. A man was in a holding cell, and two torture droids were working on him. I charged, Canderous standing behind me to blast one of the droids as I cut the other into scrap. I disengaged the force field, and the man collapsed, gasping in pain.

“Thank you.” He gasped.

“I couldn’t let you be tortured.” I replied.

“Well I pay my debts. I don’t have money, but I do have something of value. I was the pilot of the Ebon Hawk. I have the codes for access to the Ebon Hawk. Hanger, security, all of it. You can take the ship, sell it, ransom it back to Davik.” He laughed. “Or go into business for yourself.”

I held up my pad. “What are they?”

He spoke, giving the code numbers. When he nodded that he was done, I hefted him to his feet. “You don’t want to be here!”

“I know that! Davik was going to kill me when I finished screaming. I’m out of here.”

Canderous was merely watching. “All right, we have what we came for. Let’s go!”

We had a number of rooms to go through, and we showed no mercy. The Exchange was brutal enough that these men would die rather than surrender or let us pass. I had to assure we had no one able to fight behind us.

We reached the security computer, and I entered the code. The monitor flashed HANGER BAY DOOR OPEN.

I ran to the door just as the building swayed. “An earthquake?”

“Nah. I think those lunatic Sith are blasting the city apart.”

The door opened, but we had just run out of luck. Davik and Nord entered from the other section of the estate. “Damn Sith are going to ruin everything! There’s a lot of money to be had here! We’d better get to our ships, Calo-” Davik saw us.

“Well, thieves in my hanger! I thought better of you Canderous.”

“If you did it wouldn’t have come to this, Davik”

“So you expect to just waltz in, steal my ship, and leave me here to die? Sorry, but that isn’t the way it’s going to be.”

“Leave him to me, Davik. I’ve been looking forward to it.” Calo said.

I threw a frag grenade at Calo, charging him. Better to die fighting him than the bombardment. I expected Canderous to support me, but he yelled, “T3!” And opened fire on Davik instead. The man went down in a welter of blood, and Calo backed away, grabbing something from his vest. I felt horror when I saw the thermal detonator in his fist. “I’m not going to hell alone!” He screamed. I skidded, falling.

The scream brought the house down literally. Actually it was a turbolaser bolt that blew through the supports, dropping a section ten meters on a side right on top of where Calo was standing less than half a meter from my legs.

Canderous ran up, “we gotta get out of here!”
I thumbed my com. “Carth!”

“Inbound! One hell of a storm out here!”

I ran to the side of the Ebon Hawk and stared at the distant towers.

The sky was raining fire. The city was being leveled by something they couldn’t defend against. I saw a structure hit far below. It shuddered, then like a forest giant it fell, taking smaller buildings with it. “Hurry!”

“Clear the path!” Suddenly I saw a shuttle coming toward us. Carth wasn’t slowing down. I yelped, dodging aside, and suddenly it was there, slamming into the pad as Carth hit the retros at the last second. The skids screamed, then ripped loose and the shuttle slammed to the deck on it‘s belly. It rammed into the wall, and I thought they were all dead. But the ramp opened, and Zaalbar was there. He carried a screaming Mission with him and up the ramp, followed by Bastila and Carth.

“Well, you coming?” Canderous shouted.

I thought of Zelka Forn, who wouldn’t leave his patients this side of their deaths. Gadon and his merry band of lunatics far below in their desperate fight. All the people I had talked to who were or might soon be dead. I wished them all well and flung myself up the ramp.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 04-09-2006 at 01:14 PM.
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