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01.11.2013 , 10:38 PM | #10
Chapter 9

Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
47 days ABDK

Dha stood on top of a rather tall building and grinned as Mako tried not to look down. Though she knew, of course, that he was wearing a jetpack, it was probably still a frightening image to see one’s spouse standing just centimeters from the brink.

“Lord Grathan,” she said. “Remember him?”

Dha nodded. “Crazy scientist. Had an apprentice that was daughter to an Imperial admiral. He broke away from the Empire to prove his worth.”

Mako grinned, impressed. “Yeah. You’ve got a good recall for events that happened over two years ago.”

“I never forget a bounty,” Dha replied.

“No, I guess not. Mandalorian, and all that.”

Dha’s people–the Mandalorians, for he did not consider the Zabrak his people–had a saying: munit tome’tayl, skotah iisa–long memory, short fuse. It usually meant they didn’t forget a grudge, but he guessed it worked in this context, as well.

“Yeah,” he muttered. “So, Grathan’s our bounty. Do we break into his manse again? I mean, it will be as easy as last time but I’d prefer not to, you know. I mean, he is in good with the Dark Council now.”

Apparently Grathan’s betrayal had been a bid for power: and the Sith respected that, to all appearances. So, now he was next in line for the recently vacated seat on the Dark Council, the seat left empty first by Darth Hadra and then her successor, Darth Karrid.

“No worries,” Mako chirped. “He moved to Kaas City to be closer to the Dark Council. He lives right over…there.”

She pointed at a building across the skyline. It was nondescript, but that wasn’t saying a lot in Kaas City, where every building came in one recipe: tall, gray, and pointed.

“So, we just have to get past security and find a way to apprehend a very powerful Sith Lord without killing him–that’s what our bounty stipulates, after all–and take him all the way to a Port Nowhere.”

Mako nodded. “That’s the long and short of it.”

That’s what Dha liked about her. She was always so cheery.

Slave colony, Begeren
47 days ABDK

Merok stood in the back of the crowd, arms crossed over his chest and his tunic’s hood pulled down over his face, and listened to Lokin and Kaliyo protest.

They were good, he thought. He’d told them what to say down to the last pause, and they were doing a terrific job. He’d have been happy to do it himself but Chiss were allies of the Empire, not slaves, so seeing one in the camp, let alone rebelling, would look quite suspicious.

“They make us do their work!” Lokin bellowed. “But why? What do we stand to gain from building their statues, their warships, and their weapons? Why do we stand for it?”

“We number in the millions!” Kaliyo agreed. “We could rise up in droves and they could never fight back because we’d outnumber them ten to one! Even the great Sith Lords couldn’t fight us all!”

Merok grinned. He glanced over his shoulder, and saw all the guards beginning to take notice. They stood a little straighter and picked up the rifles that were leaning against the fence. They began to move toward the crowd.

Merok tapped his comlink. “Dankin? Now.”

Voidhound fleet
Begeren space
47 days ABDK

Dankin looked down at his communications’ officer and smiled as the transmission came in. He jumped off his captain’s seat and walked over to the man’s shoulder. There was just a quick statement, but it was enough.

“All right, boys,” he said. “Blow the haul in ten seconds.”

Dark Scar turned to his console and rapidly typed in his commands. Dankin glanced down at his chrono and counted.

“Five…four…” he grinned widely. “Three.”



Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
47 days ABDK

Dha dropped onto the roof and shut down his jetpack. He glanced across to the roof he and Mako had stood on just hours before. She flashed him a signal with a small glowrod, he flashed one back with his helmet.

He wished she were with him, but as much as he loved her, her talents lay in slicing and, to a lesser extent, healing–not fighting. Instead, Torian backed him up. His fellow Mandalorian landed on the roof behind him and pulled his electrostaff from its custom-made zakkeg-hide sheath.

“Ready?” Dha asked.

“Ready,” Torian confirmed.

Dha activated his comlink. “Okay, Gault. You’ve got a line on Grathan’s bedroom?”

“Yeah, I got him. He’s sleeping now.”

“Okay. We’ve got to take him alive. It looks like he’s starting to beat us, and you throw in a couple of gas grenades. Torian and I can seal our helmets, but my guess is Grathan won’t sleep with his on.”

“I got it, Dha,” Gault insisted.


Dha walked up to the door and stood to one side. Torian took the other and raised his staff readily. Dha placed a breach charge on the door and held up three fingers.

Two. One.

Dha blew the door and threw in a stun grenade.

Slave colony, Begeren
47 days ABDK

Just before the guards got to the crowd, there was a rumble, and a cloud of smoke was suddenly visible at the Imperial garrison just over a kilometer away. The guards, alarmed, pressed their fingers to the comlinks in their helmets. Though the conversation could not be heard, Merok figured they were yelling.

“Now’s our chance!” Kaliyo said. “Rise up!”

The slaves roared in agreement and grabbed shovels and picks, or whatever was around. Merok whirled and withdrew a blaster from his sleeve. The guards, distracted, did not react until he had put a bolt in the first one.

The second, surprised, whipped up his rifle, but was caught off guard by a shot from Kaliyo, who also had a hidden blaster.

Merok grinned and pulled off his hood. There was a moment of pause, until the slaves registered that he had been the one to shoot the first guard. Then they cheered. The two they elected the best marksmen ran and picked up the dead guards’ rifles.

“To the garrison!” Merok said.

He activated his comlink again, and then stepped back from the crowd.

“Supreme Commander Malcom, this is Agent Merok,” he said. “It’s go time.”

BT-7 Thunderclap
Begeren space
47 days ABDK

Prudii sat down in the pilot’s seat and prepared for the jump to Begeren. It would be a short hyperspace jump–perhaps ten minutes at the most. They would hit Begeren’s atmosphere and go in for a bombing run at the Imperial command center before landing and beginning a ground strike.

Meanwhile, the Republic fleet would jump in, and ground troops five hundred strong would strike at the Imperial fortresses around the planet.

“We’re jumping,” Prudii said. “Now. Yuun, take the pilots’ seat. The rest of us will begin the ground assault.”

“Yes, sir,” Yuun replied.

Prudii stood and exited the cockpit. As he passed his bedroom he grabbed his rifle, checked its charge, and slung it over his shoulder. In the crash seats by the exit ramp, Jorgan, Dorne, and Vik readied their own weapons–rifle, pistol, and vibrosword. Forex stood nearby, his legs locked to keep himself stable.

“Havoc Squad, we ready?”

“Yes, sir!” they responded.

“For the Republic!” Prudii said.

Kaas City, Dromund Kaas
47 days ABDK

Dha raised his pistol and blasted a hole in the first guard. It felt good to shoot an Imperial uniform. He dodged a shot from a second guard, while Torian leapt in, swinging his staff.

The guard stunned by the flash grenade started to stumble, so Dha put his gauntlet vibroblade through his chin. The guard struggled, dying, and Dha took hold of his shoulder and flipped him to the ground. The guard stopped struggling.

He looked up and saw Torian finish off the last guard. Nodding, Dha led Torian down the hall toward Grathan’s bedroom. Two Imperial guards–the red-robed ones, not the typical troopers–looked up in surprise and whipped out their force pikes.

Torian lowered his head and charged in toward one guard. The guard slashed at Torian, who blocked and stabbed back. As they dueled, the second guard leapt at Dha. Not flinching, Dha put a bolt through the guard’s head.

Torian blocked the blow and slammed the guard’s pike to the ground, and then backhanded him across the face. The guard spun, and Torian rammed his gauntlet blade into the guard’s kidney. The guard shrieked, and Torian kicked the man in the back, sending him crashing out the window.

Dha stood to one side of Grathan’s door, his blaster held at head level. Torian nodded and, without pause, kicked down the door.

Grathan lay on his massive bed, his helmet on the table beside him. From the bulge in his pillow, it was obvious that his lightsaber was under it. Grinning, Dha crept up and grabbed the helmet. He threw it to Torian.

Then, quietly, he placed the barrel of his blaster at Grathan’s head and placed a hand over his mouth.

Imperial outpost Alpha, Begeren
47 days ABDK

Merok knelt and fired, hitting one guard in the back. The rest of his squad looked up and shouldered their rifles. Their aim was thrown off as a BT-7 shot over their heads. They glanced up.

Taking advantage of the pause, Merok and those others with weapons opened fire. The guards fell. A few other prisoners who didn’t have weapons yet ran over and picked up the rifles, and then threw the guards’ holstered pistols to others.

“They’ve got grenades,” Merok said. “Flash, frag, and concussion. Take those.”

The slaves nodded and removed the guards’ belts, strapping them around their ragged clothing.

“One of them should have a controller for the slave collars, too,” he added. “Try for that.”

One slave, a male Duros, rummaged through the belt pouches and found the controller. He pressed the button and there was a collective beep as the collars were shut off. Nearly a hundred slaves happily pulled their collars off.

“Let’s go,” Merok said. “To the command center! It’s time to be freed!”

D5-Mantis starship
Dromund Kaas space
47 days ABDK

“We did it!” Mako cheered.

Lord Grathan was sitting in the cargo bay, a hunk of carbonite. Dha had been disappointed when he’d blubbered out his surrender and thrown his hands up. In fact, he’d been dumbfounded.

Until he realized that this guy was maybe twenty years old, tops.

So he’d interrogated him there in the bedroom, and he’d confessed that Lord Grathan had been dead for years, killed by a Sith Apprentice of Darth Baras, and that he–Grathan’s son–had taken his place under his mother’s supervision. No one knew except him, his mother, and Grathan’s killer.

“I just hope our employer accepts the bounty,” grumbled Gault.

“Of course he will!” Mako insisted. “If Grathan has been dead for years, then his son is the one who was actually in line for the Dark Council seat. So whether or not this Grathan is the same Grathan we knew two years ago or not, he’s the one that our boss wants captured. Which we did.”

“Good point, Mako,” Dha said.

Gault nodded in agreement. Dha walked out of the main hold and into the cockpit and set course for Port Nowhere. As the Mantis received permission to leave Dromund Kaas space, Dha flew it himself, because he loved to fly, and he hated the autopilot.

“Hey Dha,” Mako said.

Dha turned. “Yes?”

“We need to talk. Alone.”

He nodded, entered the hyperspace coordinates, and activated the hyperdrive. Once the ship had gone into the swirling blue, he stood and followed Mako to his bedroom.

“Cyar’ika,” she said.

Dha was surprised. It was the Mandalorian word for darling–he didn’t even know she knew that word. She had probably asked Torian.

“Yes, Mako?” he asked.

Briefly, he remembered the small party they’d had after their wedding in the cockpit–the exchange of vows only took a few seconds in Mandalorian culture –and Mako’s promise to be a true Mandalorian wife. He loved her all the more for that.

“I’m yaihadla,” she said.

It was the Mandalorian word for pregnant. Dha, Mandalorian warrior and maybe the toughest bounty hunter in the galaxy, fainted.

Port Nowhere
50 days ABDK

Dankin leaned back in his seat, his legs propped up on the table. His fleet had split up again, waiting for the next Republic crisis, and now only he and his five shipmates remained here on Port Nowhere.

When last he’d commed, the battle was still raging on Begeren–outposts Alpha through Gamma had been captured, but the others were still offering a good deal of resistance. But his part was done, so he would not worry about it.

Other than the fact that his brother, a Republic soldier nicknamed Backblast, was fighting there.

Dankin tried to ignore that fact. For most of his life–ever since his adopted father, a Mandalorian named Chernan, had dropped him off on Coruscant and left him so he could go fight for the Empire–Dankin had shirked his relationships.

Of course, Dankin knew his father had only meant the best. His mother had been a Republic soldier, and they could not fight against each other, so when she’d reached the end of her service, she’d quit and joined the Mandalorians. And even though Mandalorians traditionally trained their sons on the battlefield at a young age, Dankin and his brother had been nearly killed in an attack on one of Mandalore’s moons. Then their mother had insisted Backblast be dropped off at the Republic Special Forces barracks–he had been twelve at the time–and though he’d been young the drill sergeant had owed their mother a favor.

Dankin, on the other hand, had been dropped off at a friend of his father’s. He was a scoundrel of a man with no scruples, and though Dankin had learned all his smuggling skills from the man, he’d despised the total disregard for anyone who’d gotten in his way.

Dankin was a scoundrel, but he was a kind one.

He was snapped out of his reverie when a group walked into the cantina, led by a man in Mandalorian armor, his helmet held under his arm. It reminded Dankin a lot of his father. Behind him were a human female, another man in Mandalorian armor, a Jawa, a Devaronian, and a Houk.

“That doesn’t spell suspicious,” Corso said over the comlink.

“I know that man,” Akaavi said. She was over by the bar. “The Grand Champion of the Great Hunt. He is a member of Mandalore’s own clan.”

“Wonderful,” Dankin said. “I want to know what he’s doing here. Guss, can those Force powers of yours amplify hearing?”

“I don’t work so well all the time,” Guss replied. He sat two tables from Dankin. “I once tried to use it and thought I heard a guy say ‘selling neks’ but he said ‘break your neck.’ Yeah…I walked in on a murder scene.”

“Okay, make sure you hear the right thing. Really. I don’t want to walk in on a murder scene.”

Dankin glanced at the chrono and resisted the urge to comm Republic command to see how the battle was going.

Defender-class light corvette
Tython orbital station
50 days ABDK

Imindra sat next to Jasin at the hologame table and patted his shoulder.

“You can cancel the mission I sent you on,” she said. “All the Master wanted was to reveal that Lord Scourge had defected–and he did that without even knowing of our mission.”

Jasin frowned. “Yeah, but he’s in a medbay with cuts, bruises, and an almost shattered kidney. He’ll need excessive surgery–Doc’s down on the planet getting supplies.”

“Luckily, he will not be needed for our next job,” Imindra replied. “In fact, neither will you. This job is rather your cousin’s specialty. I just stopped by to say ‘good job.’ And good luck in your war against the Emperor.”

“Thank you.”

She stood to leave, pulled her hood up, and was gone. Jasin sat back and closed his eyes. Having to watch Methic battle Scourge had disturbed him. He had not seen his brother in a long time, and it seemed like every time they did meet it was on a battlefield.

That would change. He was determined.