The Art of War: Opposites Attract
Dxun. The neighboring moon of the planet Onderon and the heart of the Mandalorian wars. Before now the war had been going poorly for the Republic before Revan and the Jedi came. It was so simple, drive the Mandalorians back and stop them from their conquest of the Outer Rim. Become the victor, the king of the beasts again. After all, the Republic stood for something. If the going gets tough, the tough get going.
High above the skies of Dxun, the space battle raged for Onderon and her moons. The Republic ships were easily recognizable with their capital ships and fighters and the distinctive Mandalorian vessels stood out as well. Each were firing upon each other as if they were trying to beat the living daylights out of each other. Given the circumstances, they were.
Flying above the capitol ship the Harbinger in his fighter was the Jedi Korin Katarn. He surveyed the attack on the capitol ship before calling out for his squad to move in. They were trying to buy the Harbinger some time for emergency repairs. The ship called for reinforcements when their guns received heavy damage from the Mandalorian vessels. Korin made the decision to be that squad to help.
He zoomed between the ships to draw fire while his squad fired upon the guns. He made several passes to draw attention from the Harbinger before coming about to target the Mandalorian guns. It was a heavy barrage of fire coming from the vessels and several fighters blew up into a fiery ball that did little more than smack the shields of the Mandalorian vessel.
I hope Revan had the right idea, Korin thought to himself as he avoided another blast from the heavy guns. He turned to fly underneath the belly of the ship and pull up on the other side. When he came up on the other side, he saw Mandalorian fighters coming out. He quickly called to the squad, “Fighters coming in from starboard side!”
He didn’t see the Mandalorian fighter come up from behind until he was hit in the port nacelle. He was also losing power and had to make a landing. The Harbinger was too far away but the moon below was close and there were Republic troops on the ground. He called out a mayday and directed the nose of the fighter to the surface.
He tried to slow its descent but he was coming hard and fast. The ship started to catch fire and all Korin could do was hold his breath and hope that the landing wouldn’t be too hard.
The thrill of battle brought about a rush that once touch was difficult to satiate. The battle being waged in the forest of Dxun was bloody and had a thrill to it. For the young warrior, it was a chance to prove his honor for Mandalore. Through the visor of his helmet he saw the Republic forces trying to hold their ground. He was waiting for orders from his commander to order out the next wave.
We have tamed the jungles before and we hold the high ground, the young warrior thought to himself. He was snapped to attention when his commander said, “Kex, sound advance. Let us show the Republic what we Mandalore are made of.”
Kex nodded and sounded the advance. He watched as the commander withdrew his melee blade and cried out the charge. Kex withdrew his and started to run at the waiting Republic forces who by now managed to get themselves into some modicum of organization.
They were firing mortars at the advancing forces while shooting with their own rifles. Kex didn’t care as he charged forward, stumbling on the wounded and dying. Blood drenched the field as both sides began to bleed dry. Kex kept going but was stopped when an explosion ripped through and pounded the ground next to him and sent him flying along with a few other Mandalorians.
He stood up to find himself surrounded by smoke and dead bodies. His ears were ringing from the explosion and he strained them to hear his comrades. He did hear something that sounded like a call and began to follow it. Unfortunately it led him away from the battle and into the thickest parts of the jungles. He should have stopped when he saw no more smoke or dead bodies but he was sure he was hearing his companions yelling for him to follow so he did. The ringing in his ears stopped when he was thoroughly lost.
Kex looked around and saw nothing but jungle and the jungle was home to many carnivorous beasts with some you didn’t want to get in a tangle with. Luckily he had his vibroblade, specially upgraded, with him. He looked around to get an idea of where he might be but was at a loss. He then heard something in the sky and he looked up.
Streaking across the blue sky was an orange fireball that looked like it might be an escape pod. When it passed over him as it flew, he saw that it wasn’t an escape pod but a Republic fighter. He decided to follow and see where it landed. The occupant didn’t worry him. If the crash didn’t kill him then he would and whatever could be salvaged he would take it. First order of business was survival.
He figured out the path he was going to take by the way the ship flew. There was no way that the pilots would have been able to veer off that course if he was descending that fast. Staying alert, he cut his way through the foliage towards the wreck looking for any signs of the ship’s rapid descent. He would use what he could find to make his way back to his clan. No one would accuse him of cowardice.
His head hurt. His back hurt. Hell his whole body hurt from the impact. Korin didn’t have much time to sit and take a breather though for the cockpit was slowly filling with water. If he didn’t pop the hatch, he would drown.
The ship burned a hole through the thick brush before hitting the deck and bouncing into the lake. It was a better landing than what it could have been. Korin barely had time to clear his head when the glass to the hatch started to crack. He reached for his lightsaber and a few odds and ends before the glass broke. He made his way out of the ship, struggling for air.
He broke the surface gasping for air. He swam deliberately towards the edge and hauled himself out while taking deep breaths. He looked back to see what was left of the flames sinking below the surface, erasing all trace of the ship. Once it was gone, he stood up to look at his surroundings.
Korin saw nothing but jungle. From what he knew about Dxun, it was all jungle and the beasties that lived there were not the kind you would want for pets. He did know that Republic forces were engaging the enemy somewhere and the “where” was a problem. Looking around, he spotted some hills and cliffs to the east. He figured that he might be able to see where Republic forces were and try to make a heading. Taking a final breath, he set off towards the mountains with nothing but his lightsaber and the clothes on his back. The outer robes he had abandoned with the ship.
Kex ploughed through the brush towards the wreck. It took him longer and deeper into the jungle than he originally thought. He finally came across a lake that he had never seen before and saw the scorched brush from the landing. Looking at the lake he figured that the ship fell into the lake. Fat chance of him going down there to look around. He sighed in frustration and looked up.
To the east he spotted some cliffs. They were high enough to see over the tops of the trees. Kex figured that he stood a chance of finding his clan and the rest of his people from that height. Abandoning the plan of salvage, he started to make his way towards the cliffs.
The going was hard as he slashed his way through the brush. He had never been to this part of the jungle before. Most of the brush near the base camp was thin having been cleared for the base buildings. Kex figured that he may have stumbled onto part of the jungle that had not been previously scouted by his people. It also told him to be wary of the creatures. Now that he was far from base camp, the animals may be more bold and not the least afraid of sentients. No worries since he had dealt with a few of them before.
He thought too soon. The ground began to rumble under his feet, the pulse vibrating through his toes. It felt like it might be a bombardment but there really was no concussion that signified a blast. In fact the rumbling was getting closer and closer. Kex looked around trying to find where it was coming from. He heard rustling of the brush and readied his blaster. He pointed it at the rustling, ready to shoot whatever it was that was coming.
It came out looking behind it. Kex held up his blaster ready to fire when the sentient turned its head to look at him. Taking a look at him, Kex recognized him as a Republic soldier. More than that, he was a Jedi. He held his blaster in front of the Jedi’s face and stared.
Korin found the brush abnormally thick for the jungle. He speculated that hardly anyone came by these parts. It was confirmed when a cannocks came up at him curious and then later to try to make a meal off of him. He slaughtered the cannocks and continued on his way. He was standing a small rise when the earth gave away and sent him sliding down.
He slid until he landed on the back of something hard and bounced off. He landed on the ground with a thud and looked up. It was a zakkeg, the first he had ever seen and it was huge. He backed slowly away as it ambled around the clearing. Unfortunately he didn’t watched where he was going and ended up stepping on something that passed for the infant version of the zakkeg. It squealed sending ‘Mama’ towards it where it spotted him. It roared and started to charge.
Korin, not wasting time on debating how foolish it was, turned and ran. Using his Jedi abilities, he increased his speed, trying to outrun the zakkeg, hoping that it would give up once they were far away from the baby. He ran blindly into the jungle, not watching where he was going. He kept looking back to look at the distance between them.
He ran in this manner until he crashed into a clearing and paused. He could still hear the rumbling of the zakkeg following. He was going to turn and run again when he came face to face with a blaster pointed at his head. The one holding it was a bloody Mandalorian! He stared at the Mandalorian, aware that the zakkeg was getting closer but he didn’t want to say anything. It looked like the Mandalorian was a bit too volatile.
The zakkeg saved him from having to explain anything as it crashed through the brush and sent them both running. They ran until they came to a sudden drop in the earth. They were trapped at the edge of a cliff. Below the swollen river rumbled. Korin saw that there was only one way out whereas the Mandalorian was prepared to make a stand. Thinking his was a better alternative, he grabbed the Mandalorian by the arm and jumped into the river.
It was a mistake for the swollen eddies were powerful and carried them down river in fierce rapids. Korin swam hard to get to shore and the Mandalorian was trying to do the same. They finally made it to the shore and pulled themselves onto the gravelly beach and laid there to take deep breaths. It was short-lived when the Mandalorian suddenly stood up and pointed his blaster at Korin. Korin sat up looking at the Mandalorian and said, “You’re going to shoot me now that I saved our arses?”
“After you started the trouble Jedi.” The Mandalorian held his blaster firm, ready to fire at the slightest provocation.
“An accident. Besides you were going to shoot her. She was just protecting her baby,” Korin replied softly.
“One less creature in the jungle is good enough for me. The only thing that matters now is survival.”
“You’re right,” Korin replied standing to be eye level, “Survival is the only thing that matters now. You. Me. We both want to get back to our comrades with the least amount of fuss.”
“You’re suggesting that we work together? Fat chance Jedi,” the Mandalorian turned his blaster at eye level with Korin only to have it tugged away by some unseen hand into Korin’s own. He spluttered, “Hey!”
“I find it very hard to negotiate with a blaster pointed at my face,” Korin replied holding the blaster, “I propose a means to get what we both want. You may not like and I may not like it but it is our only option.”
“Or I could just kill you and continue on my way,” the Mandalorian grumbled.
“I find it better with more than one,” Korin replied. He then held out the blaster back to the Mandalorian and said, “How about it? Until we find our comrades we work together.”
The Mandalorian seemed to debate the options while looking at his blaster. He then reached for the handle and took it. Holstering it he said, “I guess it would work. Until we reach our respective clans.”
Korin nodded. He started to look around when he felt a punch on the side of his face. He held his cheek and eyed the Mandalorian with anger. The Mandalorian replied, “Payback for the blaster. Name’s Kex.”
Korin rubbed his jaw and replied, “Korin Katarn.”
Kex grunted and led the way. He started once more for the cliffs, the Jedi following right beside him. Maybe the Jedi was right that two is better than one. Only time will tell before they meet up and become enemies again.
A/N: Just want to give thanks to mach for being my beta and technical advisor on this piece. Lord knows that he knows almost EVERYTHING on military matters.