Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dark Homecoming

"Darrus, what's happening?"

He had nothing to tell her. Darrus was as confused as Maya at the moment. The what was actually quite simple. Their Basilisks were no longer under their control. They were flying as fast as the war droids could move towards the lead Mandalorean vessel, weapon systems retracted and environmental shields up.

The why, on the other hand, was a complete mystery. They had started moving this way only a few moments after the dark fleet arrived. Their flight systems were all off-line, controlled from an outside source. Presumably, the ship was bringing them in but there hadn't been any communication or attack. If they had been identified as enemies, why weren't they being shot at? The ship definitely had its share of guns.

Right now, those weapons and the ones bristling across the hulls of the other vessels in the Mandalorean fleet were making themselves known, sending glowing lances of deadly light across space into the makeshift Rebel ships in the distance.

Before he could say something to his panicking partner, his comm light glimmered. Hoping it was some kind of explanation, he toggled the receiver. Only then did he notice it was on a frequency usually reserved for Jedi Temple communications.

"If you're hearing this, 'Wraith', you are who I think you are. Don't talk, just listen. I'll try to reach the Rebels and get them to break off their counter attack. This has all gone Bantha up. If you can, do the same with the Mandals."

Then the transmission ended. There was something familiar about the voice but at the moment, Jeht couldn't place it. He silently wished the mysterious figure, whoever it was, luck and sighed to himself. He wasn't sure he'd have the ability to sway the Mandaloreans from their attack but he was certainly about to get the opportunity.

The side of the vessel was scored with dozens of blaster cannon hits, a single working cargo bay opening to receive them. The other loading doors were too damaged to open or, in one case, close. There was a plasma fire raging inside that bay, metal glowing from intense, unquenchable heat. He hoped there hadn't been men inside it but he suspected that hope was in vain.

"Darrus... I'm scared."

That wasn't over the comm. That was Maya using the thought sending ability he'd shown her. Unfrtunately, she was also sending her fear and it was very strong. Strong enough to touch a darkness of a wholly different source.

"Calm yourself, dear." He used the term of affection to change her mood, knowing that it would make her focus on her feelings for him. It was manipulative, yes, but it was better than them both dwelling on fear and panic right now. "Calm your mind. We have to both be prepared for whatever awaits us here, be it battle or escape."

He could feel her affection but it was tempered with embarrassment. She answered with a quick, "Of course. Sorry..."

He sent soothing thoughts her way, easing her mind of doubt and regret. They would also cloud her vision and he was concerned they would both have need of her healing skills before this was over. A warship of angry Mandaloreans? That did not bode well.

The bay engulfed them, swallowing their relatively small Basilisks like a Naboo spurwhale feasting on glow-krill. Below them, the landing deck was in shambles. There were four fighter craft, all with serious damage. None of them looked flight-worthy. Half the bay was a mass of wires and twisted metal, as if a massive explosion elsewhere had nearly shaken the bay apart. On the outside, the ship was a fearsome sight.

Inside, Darrus wondered how it could possibly still be functional.

His time to wonder anything was cut sort by what he'd been fearing. As guidance tractor beams brought their Basilisks in for an auto-landing in a small cleared area of the bay, several Mandaloreans in full gear, complete with heavy blasters and powered armor, came forward and pointed their weapons in a textbook cover formation.

At least one mystery was solved - the reason for their Basilisks having their environmental systems active. His instruments showed that outside the droid's cockpit, there was pressure but no breathable atmosphere. The bay's life support was completely shot. No real surprise.

His control panel crackled to life, the communications array switching on. "Come out slow, hands up. We see a weapon, you stop seeing. Comply." The voice was rough and invited no argument or discussion.

So Darrus didn't argue or discuss. Popping the clasp on his seat harness, he left his blaster cannon behind and opened the droid's chassis. Plates slid open and footholds extended to let him climb down outside the loyal metal beast's body. His back still turned to the Mandaloreans, he watched to make sure Maya's rebreather would be up to sustaining her outside the droid. Seeing that she was fine, he touched down on the warm deck and turned to face his captors.

There was a stir among the Mandalorean soldiers. Jet had been afraid of this. His armor was a custom piece of work by Vaaro but it was still noticeably Mandalore in design. By their warrior culture, owning a suit without being one of them was an offense punishable by death.

This was about to dissolve into a fight. An ugly one. And he was disarmed.

The Mandalorean in the lead strode forward, pistol still in hand, and crossed halfway to Jeht before dropping to one knee and clapping the grip of his gun to his chest in a salute. "Sir! We had no idea one of the Silverguard had made it here before us!" The soldier turned his helmed head to the others, ordering them to stand down immediately.

They did.

"Sir, please come with us. Our Battlelord and his entire command staff are dead, the bridge is knocked out and we are running the entire ship from the aft consoles. We need you!"

The other soldiers all stood at instant salute. "Lead us to victory and glory, Exarch!" As one, they turned and followed the speaking commander out, obviously expecting Darrus to bring up the rear.

Inside his helm, Jeht blinked very dark, very confused eyes.

"What just happened?" Maya said, handing him his cannon and fetching her blasters.

Now, like before, he had nothing to tell her. Nothing at all.


erisraven said...

Well, look, Jeht's luck resurfaces, and the situation has gone 'Bantha up' a whole *new* way... Typical.

Bet he'll have some choice words for Vaaro when he gets out of THIS one!

Tarek said...

Ah, that explains a lot... Neo-Crusaders. :)

Tarek said...

Hmmm... Vaaro + Mandalorian Bes'ulic (Iron Beast) = ?

I'm not sure I'd want to stick around and find out. I mean, look at what he did with just a DC-15 and a lightsaber... :)

Tarek said...

Umm... wait... doesn't the Empire still technically control Tatooine?

Wouldn't this fleet provoke a... okay, this is Tatooine after all, the Imperial response would be, in a word, pathetic. Never mind.


Tarek said...

Bibble babble bobble...

How many 'extra' feats does Darrus have from the events of the Living Force campaign?

I'm trying to see if I can convert him to the Saga rules; I have some idea of where he'd probably spend the extra attribute points, but I'm having problems with the feats.

A Man of Earth said...

Are these Mandalorians Death Watch? I have to ask, more for my own analysis than to get an answer or a chapter.

They seem to follow the old Neo-Crusaders' traditions, like battle circles. More current (if you will) Mandalorians found the practice very barbaric as far back as the Clone Wars. It's really because the True Mandalorians culture took the dominance the society.

Death Watch keeps popping up in galaxy, usually black...um...blacker sheep of Mandalore. Last time, they were bed-buddies with Black Sun, the mafia of Star Wars lore.