The Prison World
Jorgan disembarked onto Belsavis, helmet fit snugly on his head. Ah, it felt good to be back in action. He followed Prudii to the command center. Vik stood to the rear, and Jorgan wondered if he was remembering his “lesson”.
Havoc was on Belsavis to free a squadron of fighter pilots known as Dagger Squadron. Rumor was they’d disobeyed orders in order to take out a Sith Lord, and been unfairly imprisoned for it.
“Guard Captain Zess?” Prudii said.
Zess turned. He was a Kel-Dor. “Ah, Major! I’m glad you caught me. I was just heading out to round up another wave of runners. The Imps are springing everyone they can. The Daggers volunteered to get everything under control. They are spread out across the prison.”
Jorgan wasn’t sure he liked that. They didn’t have days, let alone weeks, to round up the men. They had more people to free for the eventual fight with General Rakton.
“Can you put me in contact with Conrad Gall?” asked Prudii.
Gall was the leader of Dagger Squadron. Jorgan had heard good things about him.
“Gall’s in one of the higher security zones,” Zess said. “So my comm won’t reach him. The Daggers’ XO is closer, though. Let’s give him a shot.”
He pulled out his holocom and typed in a code. Jorgan watched quietly, impatient to get to the action.
“Harlan?” Zess said. “Harlan, come in. This is Zess, over.”
Harlan appeared. He was a beefy man with black hair in military cut, with a facial tattoo and wearing prisoners’ garb.
“Zess?” he said. “Heh, good timing, pal. We need backup, ASAP. The Imps are opening the vaults!”
“Are they insane? We’ll get you backup, Harlan, just hang in there!”
“Where are they?” Prudii asked. “We’re ready.”
“Who is that?” Harlan asked. “Forget it, I’ll take anyone you got. We’ve got some Imps cornered in one of the vault entrances, but we’re shot up pretty bad. We need medpacs and manpower, and we need them yesterday.”
Yes, the Daggers were definitely professionals. Jorgan was looking forward to working with them.
“Help is on the way, Harlan. Zess out.” He seemed worried. “We’re out of medpacs. But…there are some caches you can raid on the way. Here are the coordinates.”
“Lieutenant Dorne, could you handle them?” Prudii asked. “If so, no need to waste time on raiding caches.”
“Not knowing their condition,” she replied, “I would still recommend extra medical supplies.”
Prudii nodded. “All right, we’ll get the caches and get to Harlan as quickly as we can. Let’s double time it, Havoc!”
“Stay on your toes out there,” Zess warned. “This place is a madhouse.”
That, Jorgan decided, was probably putting it mildly.
* * *
Several caches of medpacs and dozens of angry prisoners later, they caught up to the Daggers. Vik walked into the vault behind Prudii, his rifle at the ready.
Harlan was down on his knees, firing at some of the Imps. An explosion rocked the room, and Harlan and his men stumbled. One was cut down.
“Dagger Wing is still kicking, you murdering cowards!” Harlan snarled.
Prudii fired off a few shots, killing a pair of Imperials. Vik nodded and slowly lowered his rifle. The appearance of reinforcements made the Imps fall back. Vik walked up to Harlan, while Dorne approached the wounded.
“Your backup is here, Harlan,” Prudii said. “And your medpacs.”
“Best news I’ve had all day,” Harlan replied. “So did the army finally send reinforcements, or are–” he looked at Prudii’s armor and saluted without breaking conversation, “–Havoc Squad! It’s our lucky day, ladies and gents! Dig in and patch yourselves up–the army sent its best.”
Vik loved it when they had that reaction. Not that it had happened all that often in his career, but it was still exciting to be recognized.
“Give me the Imperials’ position, armaments–everything,” Prudii ordered.
He was good at giving orders.
“They’re dug in farther in the tunnels,” Harlan said. “And they’ve got some serious heat. If we hadn’t caught them by surprise, we’d all be dead.” He paused. “There may be even worse things in here, too. I’ve heard there’s scary stuff locked in these vaults–nobody opens them. Ever.”
Tanno did not like the sound of that.
“Whatever’s in there should be scared of me,” Prudii said.
“We’ll make sure no one flanks you. Give those Imps what they deserve!”
* * *
“I don’t ever want to go back in there again,” said Dorne.
“Agreed,” Jorgan replied.
Whatever had been in there, it had been…well, the closest word Jorgan could think of was unholy. He was shaken, and it took a lot to shake him.
“Relax, guys.” Even Prudii’s voice was a little unsteady. “We’re out now. Right?”
Vik was totally silent. Yuun was typing into his datapad. He was the only one other than Forex who seemed unshaken. He actually seemed fascinated.
“Yuun wonders what the beast with the three legs would be classified as.” He typed more into his datapad. “Was it a mammal or a reptile?”
“I don’t care,” Jorgan replied bleakly. “All I know is it ate an Imperial whole before we killed it. And I could see the Imperial’s fists hammering on the inside of its stomach.”
Vik had apparently heard enough. He ran out of the vault and vomited all over the ground. One of the outpost guards shook his head and pulled out his comlink to call a cleaning droid.
“Looks like we won this round,” Harlan said. “On your feet, people. Get ready to move out.”
Jorgan steadied himself against the wall and took off his helmet. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, wishing he’d never seen those monstrosities. Nothing had ever fazed him like this. Nothing.
He stood straight and walked outside to stand beside Vik, who was still vomiting. Jorgan patted him on the back. Vik inhaled, retched, and wiped his mouth.
“That…was…horrifying,” Vik grunted.
Jorgan nodded. “Just…part of the job.”
Prudii, Dorne, Yuun, and Forex came out of the vault. Dorne took her helmet off and wiped sweat from her forehead. Prudii kept his helmet firmly planted on. Jorgan wondered why, until a moment later, when Prudii quickly shuffled away and tore his helmet off.
“Yuun is surprised,” the Gand said. “Yuun had believed that the major had a stomach of steel.”
Prudii returned a moment later, his dark face much paler and a cold ring of sweat around his lip. He inhaled slowly.
“That…was bad.” He exhaled. “Anyway, Dorne and I talked to Harlan–”
“And I lost my temper,” Dorne admitted.
“Relax, Lieutenant,” Prudii said. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Prudii rubbed the back of his neck. “Anyway, we need to move. Some of Harlan’s men have been pinned down in a complex.”
“Better a complex than another vault,” Vik grunted. “I’m ready.”
“Let’s move out,” Prudii said.
Jorgan, as XO, requisitioned five speeders for them and a repulsorlift for Forex. They set out for the complex at full speed.
* * *
The Daggers’ man outside the complex was Kal, a Twi’lek male. He met up with them in an office, and it didn’t appear he was a prisoner at all, other than the uniform and shock collar. Captain Zess gave them a lot of freedom.
He turned. “What? A major? Havoc Squad! This is huge! Oh, I’m Kal. It’s a real honor to meet you. You’re here to help, right?”
These men did not deserve to be here, Yuun thought bleakly. They had been ill informed. He had heard Harlan tell Prudii about it. They’d been targeting a Sith Lord on Fest, and instead of hitting an arms facility they’d hit civilians.
“Absolutely,” Prudii replied. “Give me a sitrep, kid.”
“With all the commotion going on, we started breakouts from one of the labor camps,” Kal said. “Some real bad characters in there, believe me. The worst is a guy named Gouge. You don’t even want to know what that freak was up to before they locked him up.”
Yuun considered. The very name Gouge was probably a good indication of what he had been up to.
“You told Harlan some of your men were stuck in the prison complex, right?” Prudii asked.
“Right, because of Gouge. Let me explain. One of the guard officers, Brok, wanted to storm the labor camp and make sure Gouge didn’t escape. A bit obsessed, that guy.”
Yuun shook his head. Anyone obsessive as that would get good men killed trying to achieve his goals–like General Rakton.
“Three of our people volunteered to back Brok up,” Kal continued. “But things went bad in the labor camps, and now they’re trapped.”
Prudii rubbed his chin. “Can your pilots confirm that, Kal?”
“Can’t get through to them.” Kal was sounding worried. “Last I heard, they were holed up pretty good. Here are the last coordinates Brok gave me. You should find everyone there–a little stressed, so take it easy on them.”
Now, Yuun thought, was time for action.