Join Date: Jan 2004
Chapter 17: The Ruins of Kwayci
The crashing thunder brought with a terrifying lash, like that of a massive whip, cracked in the air. Tachs and other animals scampered for shelter as another wave of powerful downpour released itself from the clouds and onto the damp earth. The rain fell relentlessly on the cold, untouched stones of the Temple of Kwayci. The temple was a known ritual altar, used by the Kwaycionkari tribe of Wookiees. The tribe would regularly sacrifice some of their profits for gaining more profits (which they would sacrifice again). The tribe was very religious and devoted, and their fierce fervour during battle was a legend told by many Wookiee historians. But that was thousands of years ago, and as time passes, so do tribes. The Kwaycionkari tribe was wiped out in one of the many thousand battles and skirmishes that have taken place on the rather primitive forest planet.
Seliqa pushed away a low branch of a tree as she trudged alongside Wefive. They had no precise idea on where to go, but Wefive had planned on some sort of small enclosure, hidden from the world. The forest would be too dangerous and the abandoned facility was unpredictable. The long hours without sleep had worn out both Seliqa and Wefive. After realising their ships were not functioning, their already squashed hopes were killed. They only walked in silence, passing the trees, ignoring the sounds and hoping for a cosy bed in the middle of the arboreal land they trespassed.
“This looks good.” Wefive said, stepping on the cobblestone flooring beneath him. The Temple, or more so the Ruins of Kwayci lay ahead of him. The magnificent temple was some twenty metres wide and fifty metres long, and seemingly consisted of a single sacrificial hall, where once appalling sacrifices had been made.
“What makes you so sure?” Seliqa asked sceptically. She too felt her spirits rise as he stepped on the firm stone.
The temple was elevated from the ground, and it’s wide door was greeted by a flight of stairs, which numbered anywhere between twenty to thirty steps.
“Well we’re away from DY44 and this place looks splendidly luxurious. Why not give it a try? Where’s the reservation counter? We need a double room…”
“Let’s just camp up on those steps.” Seliqa replied very tersely.
The two had not yet brought up the topic of Torrd’s death. Wefive had avoided the subject since he escaped Zivz and Seliqa had tried her best not to think about the incident. Her mind was too bushed for it anyways. She made her way past the wet stone towards the stairs. The stone railing that sandwiched the stairs had been well sculpted for a Wookiee artist and although the figures were a little abstract, Wefive guessed they would sell for millions if the right marketing strategy were used.
Seliqa collapsed on the base of the stairs and let the pure water of the skies soak her. She breathed in fatigued exasperation. Wefive dropped his gun and his helmet and sat beside her. They said nothing, and simply appreciated the musical, liberating quality of the raindrops, as they landed on their faces. Another thunder brought with it another great wave of water from the atmosphere, only to be reduced slightly in a few seconds. The rain formed a sort of illusion, of spirits fighting and killing demons above. The wind broke away these illusions to form new ones. Wefive sighed as he reviewed everything he had done, and achieved. He closed his eyes and thought for seconds, minutes into what seemed like hours. He was very tense, and Seliqa knew that. What she did not know, was what he was always thinking of, beneath that dense veil of his mind. At this stage, Seliqa did not care either.
DY44 had never been on a more frustrating assignment to date. Their prey had escaped them more than once, to the point where Irtan had begun to wonder why they are running in the first place. There was nothing on Kashyyyk, except dense foliage and probably some towns and villages speckled across it. Irtan was tapping away at his computer, his face bearing a very grim and serious expression on his face. Jesqas drew up behind him, watching the probe droid trace the red trail in and out of the jam-packed forests. Blade watched Xydan, who lay below on the muddy ground, his armour an ugly mess of clay and carbon scoring. Xydan’s injuries were too severe. He had influentially led the DY44, but the battle had not only sapped his strength, the blows dealt by his opponents had caused heavy damage.
He got up, in much pain and limped towards Irtan. He collapsed on a log and fell back, breathing heavily. “What is it?” he asked, pointing at the computer screen.
“The probe droid, he followed Camman all the way into the forest. We’re launching as soon as we find their resting place.” Irtan intelligently answered.
“No. Go now. I… need rest. My armour is banged, my weapon’s jammed and my body’s broken. I want you all to go and murder those turncoats, you get me?”
The rest of the squad nodded firmly.
“Once you are done, contact me and return immediately, upon which we will exit this piece of junk.”
DY44 agreed solemnly and after performing some checks and reloads, set out with a direct feed of the computer data into their helmets. They marched away speedily, cutting through the trees and other plants with ease. Xydan watched as they left and laid back on the log, letting his head rest and his eyes close. He was playing a gamble. His squad was nothing without their leader in the field, but his opponents were no more invigorated. He quietly switched on his squad radio on the helmet and kept it beside him, listening quietly, but not whispering a breath.
Seliqa awoke with raindrops plummeting into her eyes. She got up quickly and realised she was drenched. Her clothes were soaked and her back ached bluntly from sleeping on the stairs. Looking around, she recollected what happened last and saw Wefive in his armour, still on the stairs. Seliqa could not guess whether he was sleeping, or simply leaning. She assumed the former, since he neither turned nor spoke. There was an unusual tingling inside her and she realised that her Sense abilities had started working. The Force Sense works when the user is in danger, and surrounded by opposing energies. Sense can be accurate or not. It can be a simple, harmless mouse with malicious intentions, or a very powerful foe, ready to deal the user a painful death. Seliqa, being a true-born Jedi Guardian, had never sensed much or predicted a calamity.
She turned to where she thought the danger would present itself. Her mind was telling her, it would be none other than DY44, or at least some jungle beast sensing a new quarry.
“What happened?” Wefive asked, noticing Seliqa’s alert state.
“I don’t know. The Force is trying to tell me something. Some sort of danger is approaching. It could be mortal.”
“Yeah? Well just be more careful, then.” He said, getting up.
Seliqa turned back and asked in a very sombre tone, “How did… what happened to Torrd?”
Wefive turned down, on hearing the question. He found it painful to answer the question, as he had witnessed, in a very conscious way, the death of Torrdemnon Wassi.
“He was shot. Multiple times, in the neck and the back.”
“But that’s crazy. Torrd was a very experienced Jedi. He could block the attacks, or at least sense them.”
“He didn’t. The bacta had worked like a painkiller on his neck. He couldn’t feel a thing there. It was only much later that he did realise, and then it was too late.”
Seliqa opened her mouth to ask, but then closed it abruptly and thought in silence. She sat back down in the relentless rain as it poured down on them.
“What… what happens now?” she asked ingenuously.
Wefive lay silent for a while, looking out in the dark rain, almost as if ignoring her question. His featureless helmet revealed nothing.
“I don’t know. They got our ships. They got Torrd. We haven’t got anything. We’re alone in the middle of a Kashyyyk jungle. Perfect nightmare.”
“But there must be some locals. Master Kenobi told us to survive by any means possible. And we’re going to do it. We’re one of the few rebels. Our endurance is the key to the struggle. We can topple…”
“Enough with the half-baked lies already!” Wefive snapped animatedly and then buried his head in his hands. He sighed in the frustration built inside him, at all the meaningless struggles of existence they had fought since that one moment when Order 66 was announced.
“OK, look. We’ll rest here until the morn comes. Then we’ll head out and look for some village or something. You can speak Wookiee-language, right? Just use your mind tricks to have them follow us.”
Seliqa looked vaguely into oblivion. “Right. What after that? We head for Polis Massa?”
“No. We can’t go there. We’ve been ordered not to, remember? We’ll… hide on some far-flung planet, wait around till some big movement comes up, or we are contacted by Jedi. We can’t do anything else all the same.”
“Great. Any planets in mind?”
“Not many good planets survived the Wars. Most of them will have clone residue on them like dust. We’ll need to hunt.”
Seliqa was about to speak when she suddenly lunged ahead and fell straight down the stairs. Nanoseconds later, a brilliant blue sniper shot lit up the large ditch in which the Temple was nestled. The ditch was surrounded by raised forests, which rose to hills. The sniper shot struck right where Seliqa had been sitting.
Wefive jumped up, grabbing his rifle and reloading it. Seliqa ignited her lightsaber and stood at the stair’s base in a combat stance which clearly illustrated her battle expertise. Another Sniper shot followed, aimed for Seliqa. This time it came from behind, but Seliqa turned back in time and forcefully struck the laser, driving it back where it came from.
Wefive fired blindly where he thought the laser had originated. He hoped to land a lucky shot, which would expose his target. None of his shots connected his expected target. An unsettling peace pervaded the Temple. The rain battered down on the beleaguered stone, creating the satisfactory, chirpy sounds of the rain. Suddenly a whooshing and then, booming sound resonated in the ditch. A large, smoking ball erupted out of the woodwork and landed a few feet away from Seliqa, exploding with great intensity and sound. Seliqa jumped away in time and dodged yet another sniper shot.
She carefully concentrated into the forest, hoping to pinpoint her attacker’s location. It was broken soon enough, when a volley of blaster fire opened only a few metres behind her. She gracefully eluded the attack and turned around, slashing away at the rain and laser with her lightsaber. Her attacker was in full view, at the floor of the ditch. He was a recon trooper, armed with a powerful heavy repeater. Wefive counterattacked him, sending running for the bushes. Another flaming anti-armour shot jumped out of nowhere and landed straight at Wefive’s feet. Wefive, who was at the top of the temple’s stairs was knocked off. He fell down, and suffered on his back, but avoided the calamity that was to come. The blast knocked out the stones where Wefive was standing, shooting out rocks and stones in all directions. The pillar was shattered in a dazzling explosion and crashed onto the blasted stones below. The roof above the pillar, too crashed, unsupported by its trusty pillar. Wefive rolled around in pain, but it showed no signs of subsiding as rocks and boulders and debris rained on him with the water from the skies.
Seliqa brushed away the invading blasters and closed in at her assailant with deadly precision. Her opponent, Jesqas knew better. He stepped back with every step of Seliqa’s. His blaster did not falter. He had a plan up his sleeve, and he had put his life on the line. Seliqa found a gap in Jesqas’ shooting pattern and then leapt up into the air, seizing the first opportunity she found. She was about to thunder down with the rain, when another recon trooper rammed into her with a jet pack. Caught by surprise, Seliqa lost her concentration and plummeted to the unforgiving stone floor below. She felt the sudden rise of temperature as the heat of the jet pack swept past her. She regained her senses seconds before the fall and landed on her hands and legs like an experienced cat. She jumped away unpredictably and served a forceful stab of her lightsaber into Jesqas’ shoulder. Jesqas screamed in pain and fell to his knees. His hand went numb and the blaster rifle fell with his body. He rolled around and catered to his injury, but he knew very well that the damage was irreplaceable. No metal hand could ever match with a natural, organic hand.
Seliqa swung her lightsaber with full force, but the flying Recon trooper was out of her reach. She jumped up as high as the Force permitted her and grabbed him by the belt. The astonished trooper dodged and spun in the air, trying to shake off Seliqa. The latter held on firmly and ripped off the jet pack from the trooper’s pack. The jet pack flew wildly in the ditch and collided into the Temple’s wall, demolishing it. The trooper fell and made hard contact with the stone ground, as Seliqa drove him down. He kicked the Jedi off and quickly drew out his blaster, shooting a few desperate shots. Seliqa frantically deflected them and then swung some attacking manoeuvres at him. The recon trooper, Irtan, picked up Jesqas’ rifle and emptied a magazine as Seliqa advanced threateningly. He slipped out two smoke grenades and denoted them under his feet.
The incident looked like an accident. Seliqa stood bemused as all her visible space was filled up with the all-too-familiar white smoke. She heard the boots scamper across the wet stone. Following her instincts, she ran after the sound. The smoke grew denser and then clear, then again dense. By the time the smoke cleared away, pummelled by the rain, Seliqa stood wet and confused, opposite to the great stairs of the Temple. The right side of the stairs had largely been undone, because of the anti-armour shots. The entrance had been partially covered up with the explosion of the pillar. She saw Irtan rush up the steps and leap to the left pillar, still intact.
Wefive realised everything. He jumped onto the debris, and shouted “Watch it! The Recon Trooper is baiting you! They’ll launch an anti-armour!”
Seliqa stopped at her third step. She concentrated against the pillar and found Irtan hiding expectantly beneath it. Initiating a force pull, she pulled Irtan towards her and slammed him onto the pillar. Without losing her hold on Irtan, she concentrated on the pillar itself. Wefive watched as it chipped and cracked away. It’s smooth, round body reduced to a series of crevices. It suddenly gave way and churned down in white and grey smoke of dust particles. The roof above slammed down onto the unwary trooper and buried him in a large heap of stone, wood and smoke. “One down!” Seliqa yelled as the rumbling wreckage dropped on Irtan.