So . . . here is the next chapter. Well . . . enjoy!
Rahn gazed out of the Ebon Hawk’s cockpit window. The blockade reminded him slightly of the Republic Fleet surrounding Coruscant, except the one on Coruscant had about twenty times as many ships, all of which were Capitol Ships and Royal Dreadnoughts.
The crew were all gathered there as they endured the painstakingly long wait that was, in Rahn’s opinion, more tough than his entire stay on Peragus.
Atton, who had dosed off, suddenly jolted up as the communicator started beeping.
Rahn reached over and let the message come through. Suddenly, an armed Onderonian appeared onto the screen. “We have been awaiting your arrival, Exile.”
Suddenly, everybody in the room was on alert. The hologram continued, “Your journey ends now.” The connection closed as the hologram disappeared.
Atton took a deep breath. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
“No sh*t, genius,” whispered Rahn as he looked out the window with a worried look. “There!” he suddenly pointed to about ten Onderon fighters manoeuvring through the blockade. “I’ll man the turret,” he demanded. He hesitated for a second as he replayed his voice in his head. It had been a long time since he used that tone of voice; a military commander’s voice. Forget about that, you blithering idiot! We’ve got friggin fighters coming after us!
“Atton, I need you to get through this mess and make a shot for Onderon,” he said tersely as he quickly ran off.
Sprinting to the ladder, he climbed up it and found himself in a very crowded control ‘pod’ (if that was the right term), staring out into space with its dome window. Taking a breath, he grabbed the turret controls, turning the pod around towards the incoming attackers. Pushing all thoughts out of his mind, he immersed himself in the force as he targeted the fighters through the currents of life. He quickly lent all of his focus to those few fighters as he opened his eyes.
He jerked as the Ebon Hawk lunged forward. Before he knew it, he was twisting about in different ways as Atton displayed his piloting skills. Rahn swiftly targeted his foes through blockade and sent a single turret laser into space. In a split second, he had calculating the speed, acceleration, and direction of one of the fighters, resulting in it colliding with the laser and exploding on contact. Rahn set his eyes on his next target, sending another laser; a laser that once again hit its target.
Just as he was about to pick off a third, the Ebon Hawk swivelled around, causing Rahn to lose track. He swore under his breath as he relocated his enemies. He noticed that they were now trying to circle him. Perfect. He switched the turret type to a lighter laser with much more rapid burst of fire. About four of the fighters were now circling. Calculating the variables, he quickly sent a rain of heavy fire onto one of the fighters; it was enough to kill the pilot but not destroy the fighter completely. As per plan, because of its momentum, it ran into one of the others. Both fighters were decimated in one glorious catch.
Four down. Six to go.
But Rahn had made a crucial error. A fighter had snuk up from behind and fired on the Ebon Hawk’s hull, throwing the freighter out of balance. Rahn swore as he tried to focus his turret. The unsteady movement was too much, and he automatically knew what was going on. The ship had been hit hard. Obviously, the Onderonian fighters had advanced turrets.
He swore as he exited the pod and ran down the ladder, sprinting to the cockpit.
“We’ve been hit hard! The best I can do is land on Dxun – its nearest moon. I can still get us down there!” yelled Atton desperately as he heard the Exile enter the room.
Rahn’s mind suddenly went numb. “Is there any other nearby moons of Onderon we can land on?” he asked desperately. But it was too late. Atton had already started taking the Ebon Hawk down into Dxun. Rahn was thrown to the ground as they broke the atmosphere. They were coming in fast; way too fast.
Rahn grabbed onto the seat as everything else in the Ebon Hawk was flying around. He was sure Atton was going to lead them to another crash landing. However, with great difficulty he kicked in the ship’s reserve energy to slow themselves down gradually. By the time they were on the ground, he was softly landing the Ebon Hawk down in a clearing.
The crew was in a silence as they all stood in the cockpit. Rahn felt strange emotions building up, most of all frustration and anger. They filled him up till the point where he banged his fist on the galaxy map.
“Damn it!” he grunted. “I swore that if I ever came here again, it would be too soon.” He turned to Atton. “How long is it going to take to get this ship up and running?”
Atton shook his head, looking slightly serious. “About a week. We’ve had some heavy losses.”
“Great,” started Rahn sarcastically. “Did you find any outposts or camps in the vicinity?”
“Well, I’m picking up readings from an old camp just up ahead. The readings are old, but they’re up and running, meaning someone is living there,” replied Atton as he scanned the radar.
Rahn bit his lip. An old outpost on Dxun? That could only mean one thing. “How old, exactly?”
“I can’t tell exactly, but its gotta be about ten years or something like that.”
Rahn sighed. “Well, we don’t have much choice, do we?” he said as he turned to his crew. “Ok, so here’s the plan; Three of us are going to go up ahead and make our way to the outspost. Atton, I need you to stay here and man the communicator. If anything goes wrong, we’ll need some backup. We’ll be leaving in a few minutes.” He suddenly noticed that the general’s voice had come back.
At first, he was scared and taken aback at it. No, I have to savour it. My charisma is crucial to this mission.
He cleared his throat as he continued, “Alright, so I want the Handmaiden and Bao-Dur to come with me to scout the perimeter. Let’s move out.” And so the crew of the Ebon Hawk dispersed as they got armed. Rahn walked back to his room, and opened his footlocker and closet, trying to find the right set of weapons and armour.
He decided to don the robes he had picked off one of the Sith Assassins on Peragus. It was perfect for him. It was built for stealth and finesse; it was incredibly flexible, yet at the same time provided adequate defence. As for the weapon, Rahn picked out his personal blaster pistol, along with another Echani blaster he had picked up, strapping them onto his belt as he slung a vibrosword over his back. Within minutes he was ready.
Once the three of them were all ready, they left the Ebon Hawk and onto Duxn’s surface.
Rahn was greeted with the sight of a quiet, tranquil jungle clearing. It was cold, but in a pleasant way. Frost was starting to develop on the grass, and the light from two moons illuminated the frost, giving the underbrush a pure, crystalline look. The same deceptive beauty; this place hasn’t changed
. The second he took a step on the ground, however, he could feel the mushy, muddy terrain that was underneath the frost. The terrain that was soaked in blood.
Taking a deep breath, he led on into the forest. They had little trouble making their way through the passageways, as they never really faced any resistance. Easily dispatching Malraas and Cannocks was not difficult, especially since each animal in the jungle had the intelligence of teaspoon.
However, Rahn soon realized that the threat of this place lay not in the beasts of the forests, but in the demons of the mind. It was when they stumbled on to a certain clearing when they realized this.
The Handmaiden gave a questioning look as she scanned the area. “There was once a battle here,” she said softly as she gazed at corpses scattered around the area. She turned to Rahn, and was surprised to see that he was shell-shocked. “What’s wrong?” she inquired as she walked towards the Exile.
Rahn didn’t answer. There was a look of pure horror on his face as he kneeled down, picking up a medallion from the ground. It was rusted and scratched from the decay of the forest, but it was still intact.
“What is that medallion, General?” asked Bao-Dur. He was about to scan the area for any useful remains when he noticed Rahn’s face.
Rahn swallowed hard as he said hesitantly, “He . . . he told me to take it home to his family. After the battle, I . . . well, it must have slipped my mind. It was one of my first battles, I was still in grief.” His voice was extremely distant, as if he was muttering to himself like a madman. But he was not insane. He simply remembered things best left forgotten . . .
”Commander, we can’t hold out long against their firepower, we have to pull back!” yelled Lt. Doran over the raging battle.
Rahn plunged his lightsaber in an enemy warrior’s heart, quickly spun around, and lunged to another attacker who was trying to penetrate the left flank. Not being able to control the dive, Rahn simply tackled him to the ground. Luckily, they had landed on a mine, subjecting the Mandalorian to a gruesome death.
Rahn quickly got up and dived behind cover. Doran was right; they were being pushed back meter by meter, cover by cover. There was no hope; but they had to keep on fighting. There was no other way.
Turning to his left, he noticed the man next to him was the Lieutenant. Rahn shook his head. “No way! If we die here, so be it, but I’m going to take those monsters with me!” Rahn was beside himself. He felt different; there was this anger and hate rising up within him. He fed on it, embracing it like a tool; a tool to help him fight.
Doran groaned, catching Rahn’s attention. He noticed a deep gash in the Lieutenant’s chest. “Travis, you’re injured!” yelled Rahn in shock. Doran nodded as he winced. He grabbed Rahn by the shirt and brought him closer.
“I just got hit . . . a powerful blaster bolt,” Travis Doran gasped as he started coughing spastically.
“Hold on!” yelled Rahn, his voice drenched in emotion. “You’ll make it! Please, hold on!”
Doran shook his head. “No, I can’t. I have a few moments left.” He stuck his hand into his shirt and retrieved a bloodstained medallion. “Please . . . take this . . . take this to my family on Corellia. Let them know I died with honour.”
“NO!” yelled Rahn in rage. Tears began to well in his eyes. “Hold on, my friend! Don’t give up, don’t stop fighting, don’t stop fighting!” he yelled again. But it was too late. The Lieutenant’s body went cold and limp. Rahn brought his eyes up to the Mandalorians. He felt rage pour through him. Hate and anger; perfect!
He revelled in this power as he charged the Mandalorian lines, cutting them down in an uncharacteristic bloodlust. He laughed a savage laugh as he hacked the Mandalorians into pieces. Even after he had killed a foe, he laughed maniacally as he continued to mutilate their bodies, laughing as tears rolled down his face from his intense, fiery eyes; he made them pay for killing his friend. He made them pay.
A lonely, crystalline tear fell onto the rusted medallion. Rahn quickly blinked, closing the gate for anymore. The Handmaiden tentatively put a hand on his shoulder. “Is there something wrong?” she asked softly.
Rahn brushed her hand off as he stared at the medallion. After a pause, he gave a tired sigh. “There’s a fine line between fighting for revenge and fighting to protect others,” he said softly as he ran his fingers softly through the metal. “I – I alternated between both sides. Half the time I wanted to protect, and the other half I wanted to kill.” He shook his head before continuing, “Those times were I fought for revenge; I’m not proud of it. I’m ashamed of it. There were times were I felt I was no better than the enemy.”
Bao-Dur sighed. “I know what you mean, General,” he said softly.
Rahn sighed and shook it off. “Let’s move on,” he said simply. He took one more look at the corpses. “Don’t take anything from these soldiers. I knew all of these men and women; give them at least some of the respect they deserve.” And so they went.
After a while, they went deeper and deeper into the jungle. Beasts were more common, and it wasn’t long before they arrived at another piece of Rahn’s past best left forgotten. However, this time it was not completely past.
“Stop,” he said as they approached a clearing. Rahn frowned. Something was wrong. Bao-Dur noticed it too. Handmaiden was about to say something, but Rahn cut her off. He kneeled down, scanning the ground.
“The tracks, the formations,” he whispered, “they are heavy into the soil. They follow a scattered formation, and whoever was here, their boots have some strange shape.” They were familiar; all too familiar. Suddenly, Rahn realized what was going on.
“Draw your weapons! There are Mandalorians in the area!” He quickly took out his vibroblade while his party took out their weapons. As if on cue, five Mandalorians suddenly appeared out of stealth. They were surrounding them.
Their leader, a man with dark red armour, was the first to talk. “Nice eye there. Dare I say this isn’t the first time a Mandalorian has pointed a gun at you?” he said with a chuckle.
Rahn stared at him with a fiery hate in his eyes. He looked around at the heavily armed Mandalorians. They were at a disadvantage. Reluctantly, he spoke. “What do you want? I heard Mandalorians had turned to raiding worlds, but Dxun? Here to brood over your defeat?” he spat at their leader.
The Mandalorian ignored him. “We have orders to take you to our leader,” he said simply.
Rahn gave a bitter laugh as he spat at the man’s feet. “Over my dead body, Mandalorian!” he hissed.
“That can be arranged,” said the Mandalorian coldly.
“General,” said Bao-Dur wearily.
Rahn sighed. “Whatever. Just take me to him.”