Chapter 17: Battle for the Herds
After the dust settled, Ashira jumped to her feet. While waiting for the dust to settle, she had been picking the lock on her cuffs with a hairpin she had tucked in her mouth. Now that she was free, she moved towards the door where she took out the guards. By the time she came back from retrieving the weapons that had been taken from her and Obi-wan, he was on his feet and giving her and odd look mingled with a slight scowl. She ignored it as she used his lightsaber to release him. Saying nothing, she shoved his lightsaber into his hands and turned tail to run towards the bulkhead.
Once out of the tunnel, they were greeted by Daranka who barked a warning just as one of the men fired with a blaster at them. Ignoring the danger, Ashira ran low towards where she left her charges. Obi-wan tried to follow but was pinned by the blaster fire. He heard through the Force, Stay put padawan. He knew that it was Ashira. Judging by the way that she had called him padawan even though he was a master, she meant business. He watched as she narrowly missed being hit as she went to the crates where they had hid before.
Ashira made it to the charges and began to lay them. She noted that the blaster fire was no longer being directed at her but away. She knew that the tribe had come and were laying attack, well at least part of them. The rest were on their way towards Sheng Xin to help Miklos. She had sensed his arrival with ground troops but never sent anything through their connection. As she was setting the charges, her thoughts drifted back to her decision to defy the Council and follow Obi-wan, Anakin and Siri to Azure and the visions that accompanied it. They seemed to give her an immune response as she finished the charges. With a deep breath, she set the detonator and ran back to the tunnel.
The explosion that followed collapsed what was left of the observation deck and opened the bulkhead. The only sound heard of was the sound of stampeding katarans followed by their herds on their draigons heading for the valleys. There was still blaster fire coming from Dragus’ men but a steady retreat, a retreat heading towards the Sheng Xin. Ashira watched until she caught sight of what she was looking for: Dragus slinking off on a Saluki stallion. She narrowed her eyes and prepared to run into the midst of the herd only to be held back by Obi-wan grabbing her arm. He asked, “What do you think you are doing?”
Looking at him in the eye she replied, “Fixing my wrongs. What do you care?” She took off into the middle of the running herds that miraculously avoided trampling her. She gave a shrill whistle and a Saluki stallion came up to her. She mounted it and followed with the herd leaving a dumb founded Obi-wan with Daranka who cocked his head at her departing figure.
Lilah saw Ashira leap on the stallion and take off after Dragus. She took it as her cue to tell the warriors to head for the city. It was part of the plan that Nekang had come up with and presented to Moira before the Jedi arrived. She followed Nekang as she followed Dragus to a small hangar where there was a shuttle waiting for take off.
Tarkus had survived the blasts but was badly wounded in the process. He had managed to get out of the compound and head down the path that led towards Sheng Xin. He began to shout for reinforcements. Dragus knew that Ashira would have something planned and compensated by having reinforcements blocking the pass to stop the herds just in case the bulkhead blew. He called into his comm and was able to get a message through before he was trampled to death by the katarans.
Lardonis was leading the warriors behind the katarans and saw Tarkus get trampled. He felt little remorse for the man but gave the prayer for the passage into death anyway. He didn’t ride much further than that for right near the river bend; there was a huge army of Rashikians. He called for a halt and everyone even the herders stopped. It was a large army that they were going up against. Lardonis stared at them and he knew that there weren’t enough of the Haida women and the rogue male warriors that stayed with them but he knew that they would fight to the end. It was the Bushida way.
Lilah came up beside him and glanced before them. She spoke, “I guess Nekang didn’t figure on this.”
“Maybe she did. You know her and you’ve heard of her reputation.” Lardonis was still watching the Rashikians as they pulled out their blades.
“Mostly through Mother.” Lilah was watching the same thing as Lardonis. She thought about what her mother said about coincidence and faith and thought about the private conversations she had with Nekang. She then said, “Mother was right. She is Nekang for now the herders are free.”
“I see you finally believe in the legends,” Lardonis said.
“I just only hope that Nekang has come to terms with it. I fear she is only using this as a means to end her pain.” Seeing the look on Lardonis’ face, she explained, “Her emotional pain. She still feels guilty about one of our sister’s death.”
There was no time for Lardonis to respond as the Rashikians began to charge. The katarans were restless and began to charge. The Rashikians and the tribesmen ignored them as they charged forward. Lilah pulled out her bow since she was better at shooting and fitted an arrow. She urged her draigon forward as Lardonis pulled out a blade and charged. It was all part of the plan that had been conceived ever since Nekang came back. Lila though was more worried about the planner than the battle plan. She only hoped that Nekang would remember who she was.
Selene was exhausted but she was thrilled at the fact that they were driving the besiegers away. It also helped that Queen Moira sent some of her warriors to help along with herself. The thrill of the hunt rushed through her veins as she swung her blade. Gisan once attributed it to her Mandalorian genes. It wouldn’t be surprising since she was descendant from a Mandalorian who married an Avalonian about four thousand years earlier. From there, they started to populate the planet Amshrey together with the Shreyites and the planet joined the rest of the Avalonian planets.
Selene, at the moment, was battling a rather large brute and enjoying every minute of it. She didn’t waste her energy on fancy moves but rather concentrated on making him frustrated by simple movements of dodging. She would avoid the large swings of his vibroaxe and counter with firm strike on the arms with her katana. He finally got frustrated and careless and allowed her to gain the advantage and ram him with her blade. Now that her blood was up and the enemy was heading towards where there was another battle in the distance. She shouted, “Forward on!”
Baring cuts and the katarans running through the forest, it was hard to tell the numbers. Still the tribesmen led by the Haida women pushed forward all utilizing the art of Bushida. Lilah had long abandoned her bow and took up a blade. She managed to find the sheika who was holding her own with her loyal right hand man. Things were looking good somewhat and they were driving the Rashikians back. All looked as if were well and they would reclaim their planet.
Suddenly a cry sounded from the east and everyone looked to see more warriors coming, Rashikians. Right behind them was the other half of the Haida women and the Bushida warriors. There were also the warriors from Amshrey. The tide was starting to turn. If only things were going as well in the space battle.