Dankin winced as he crawled over the sharp rock. It jabbed into his side, and he rolled over onto his back and rubbed his belly.
"That hurt," he muttered.
"Stop complaining," replied his brother, Backblast.
"Hey, I'm doing this for you," Dankin said. "I'm a smuggler, not a spy!"
"But you are an official privateer in the employ of the Republic," Backblast reminded him. "You have to fulfill the responsibilities that entails."
"Fine, fine," Dankin growled. "Just stop talkin' to me or they'll hear me!"
The Fondor rebels were moving a convoy from one base to another, and Backblast saw it as a chance to find another of the rebels' hidey-holes. Dankin pulled his macrobinoculars up to his face and zoomed in on the convoy. There were guards on all sides, front and back, armed with assault cannons and rocket launchers.
"They see me," Dankin muttered, "and this mesa gets blown away."
"Hey," observed Risha, "look. That symbol looks familiar, doesn't it?"
Dankin zoomed in on the vehicle she pointed out. He frowned. There was a black stylized star stamped on the side of the transport vehicle. He frowned, thinking for a moment–and gasped.
"Black Sun," he said.
She nodded. "Ye–"
Suddenly, Dankin felt a hand grab the back of his collar. He grunted in surprise and whipped out his blaster. But he dropped it when a fist landed in his gut. He wheezed and swung a fist blindly, and then brought his knee straight up between the attacker's legs. There was a grunt of surprise, and Dankin pulled out his offhand blaster. He shot the guy clean in the face.
Risha screeched and fired her rifle-point blank, killing another attacker. Dankin reached down, picked up his other blaster, and threw down an energy shield. He ducked behind it just before a rain of blaster bolts shot overhead. Risha rolled behind a rock next to Dankin and opened fire.
"Backblast!" Dankin snapped. "Hey, you there? I just got attacked by–"
He broke off and shot another attacker in the chest with three bolts. The black-armored opponent dropped. Risha shot two more clean in the head with her rifle.
"Dankin, you okay?" asked Backblast.
"Yeah, fine," Dankin replied. "I think–" he shot one more target, "–that's the last of them."
"Good," Backblast said. "They attacked us here, too, but I don't think they expected to find me. They tried to grab Akaavi and Guss, but we killed them all."
"Why grab anyone?" he asked. "Why not just kill 'em?"
"No clue," Backblast muttered.
"All right, I'm coming back," Dankin said. "Tell Corso to fire up the engines. You might want to get back to your base–we're pulling out."
Backblast sighed in defeat. "All right. We'll find the rebels some other way. Out."
* * *
Gareb ignited his lightsaber, turned, and rammed his lightsaber through his enemy's guts. Another enemy swung a vibrosword at the back of Gareb's head. Gareb reached out with the Force and hurled his opponent away. Qyzen slashed another opponent with his techblade and stabbed another.
"Who are they?" Zenith asked.
He blasted one of the black-armored attackers and then pulled out a vibroshiv and slashed another in the throat. Tharan and Iresso were busy evacuating non-combatants from Tython's orbital station while Nadia rallied the Jedi and troopers aboard the station for a counterattack.
"No idea," Gareb muttered.
Nadia brought the forces in at that moment. Within minutes, the black-armored enemies had been cut down. Gareb sighed in relief and sheathed his lightsaber, clipping it to his belt.
"I don't know how I know this," Gareb whispered, "but they were after one of us."