“You!” Shouted a Trouper in red armor. “What are you doing up there, get down here now!”
Cassus looked down to six Troupers standing close together. He lowered his weapon to his side and looked around checking for any children. Seeing he was clear, he simply grinned from under his Fedora and said with a strange hint of relief, “Now this will be fun.”
Firing his Sniper rifle from the hip and tagging one of the troupers dead center of his helmet. Cassus leaped from the overhang and down behind a few scattered cargo containers for cover, while simultaneously tossing a thermal detonator into the remaining troupes. The detonator landed in front of its targets, clicked open and beeped three times. The troupers ran quickly for cover as the explosion sent them hurling through the air and into the walls and floor of the corridor.
“What is it now IGGY?”
“Sir I believe we were giving a no kill order. Sir.”
Cassus prepped another detonator “I didn’t kill the target IGGY!” The distinct sound of blaster fire could be heard over the com-link.
IGGY looked down at the ships control panel in disbelief, “Please tell me you did not fire on any of the enforcers with in the station, Sir?!”
Cassus sat with his back to the container and his rifle over his shoulder randomly firing in the direction of the new squad heading his way. “Little busy here IGGY, get to the point!”
“Sir we were informed that the client has relations with one of the leaders here.”
“Yeah but they never said directly not to shoot the enforcement did they IGGY?” He fired another round blindly.
“Well...No Sir they did not. However I do believe it was somewhat implicated in the conversation.”
“Well maybe they should have been clearer with what they wanted.” Cassus brought his rifle to his side and with his left hand tossed the prepped detonator over his shoulder.
Mir was close. Damon could feel her through the Force, keen and alert. He tried to reach out to her, to reassure her that he was nearby, but wasn't sure if she could hear him. No matter -- they'd be together again soon enough.
"What was that?" Tam asked, cocking his head to one side. Damon stopped and listened as well. There it was, a sound that Damon readily recognized -- blasterfire, and lots of it. Then a heavy whumpf that rattled his teeth even at that distance.
"That's some kind of explosive," Damon said grimly. "I don't know what's going on, but let's keep as far away from it as possible."
"Yeah," Tam agreed. Without another word the two started moving again, nearly running now. The corridors were mostly deserted -- Damon guessed that between the mysterious blasterfire and the earlier orders for everyone to be combat-ready, Mull's people were more than busy elsewhere. All that was left, then, was to follow the Force as it led them to Mir.
If only that tingling at the back of his neck would go away.
The nagging sensation distracted Damon so much so that he rounded a corner before belatedly realizing that the corridor ahead was no longer empty. Two of Mull's guards were there, gaping at him in surprise. Damon, caught off-guard, scrambled for his pistols even as he heard the snap-hiss of Tam's lightsaber as it sprung to life. He brought both pistols up, wondering why the guards weren't reacting--
Damon stopped cold. That voice... "Mir?"
"Damon!" Mir yanked the clunky helmet off and practically tackled him, her lips meeting his, and suddenly that was all that mattered in the galaxy.
There was a bemused cough, and Damon and Mir pulled apart to see Mir's companion, a dark-haired man who had removed his helmet and was running his fingers through his hair awkwardly. Tam, meanwhile, was steadfastly looking down the corridor, his ears -- and, no doubt, his face -- quite red.
"So, uh, I take it this was the 'friend' you were referring to?" the man asked Mir.
"Um, yes," Mir said, still slightly out of breath. "This is my...this is Damon."
Damon nodded to the other man. "And who might you be?"
"Jason Greysands," the other man said.
"He's been trying to help me escape," Mir explained. "He's with the Rebels -- thought we might want a job."
Damon chuckled. "The Rebels and I haven't gotten along all that well in the past. But," he said, extending his hand, "I owe you one. Not many people would stick their necks out for a complete stranger." The other man shook his outstretched hand, and Damon noticed the other's hand was cybernetic.
"And Tam," Mir said, wrapping the boy in a great hug, "I'm so glad to see you."
"I'm glad to see you too," Tam replied, hugging her back. "You didn't think I'd let Damon come by himself, did you?"
"Hate to interrupt the happy reunions, but we're not out of this yet," Jason pointed out.
"Jason's right," Damon said. "Now, we have a ship, and with some luck and the Force on our side we should be able to get out of here. But we need to find Fi first -- Tam and I both heard her call out to us while we were on our way here, and we're pretty sure she's on the station somewhere--"
"You are correct, brother. Miss Shaku is aboard Mull Station right now."
Damon turned at the sound of a voice he'd not heard in years. "...Verik?"
Damon's brother stood in the corridor behind them. He spread his hands. "In the flesh. Surprised to see me?" He was dressed similarly to Damon himself, his most noticeable differences being the dark blue longcoat he wore and the blade he carried in a sheathe at his waist.
Damon laughed incredulously. "Surprised? I've been looking all over for you! Mir, guys, this is--" He stopped as he looked at Mir and noticed the dread on her face. He looked back and saw that Verik had been joined by a tough-looking Falleen woman. "...Verik, who's that?"
"Naveena," Mir said. "Why are you with him?"
"I'm sorry about this, Mir, I truly am," the Falleen said, almost gently. "But...boss's orders." She drew her blaster and fired a stun bolt at Mir.
Damon, still stunned by the sudden appearance of his brother, could do nothing more than watch events unfold. However, Jason and Tam were much quicker to act. The Rebel flicked his cybernetic arm out, catching the stun bolt, as Tam's lightsaber sheared through Naveena's blaster, nearly taking a few fingers with it. The whole thing was over in less than a second.
"Did you really think that would work?" Verik asked mildly. Naveena, her skin several shades paler, merely glared at him and nervously checked her blaster hand to make sure it was all still there.
"Verik, what are you doing?" Damon asked. It couldn't be what it looked like. It just couldn't.
"Ghull and I have a deal," Verik said matter-of-factly. "I help him find her," he jerked a thumb at Mir, "and he lets me deal with you."
"What? Verik, you...you're joking, right? You, teaming up with Ghull?!"
"I don't think he's joking," Tam said grimly. He raised his lightsaber. "You're not getting anywhere near Mir."
Verik seemed to notice him for the first time. "Oh. That lightsaber of yours makes a compelling argument, doesn't it?" He grinned a feral grin. "Allow me to make a rebuttal."
A ripple of Force energy seemed to blast from Verik's body, sending Jason, Damon and Tam sprawling. "And now there's just you," Verik observed to Mir. "This really isn't anything personal, you know. I'm just keeping my end of the deal."
"Damon is your brother," Mir growled, raising her blaster. "How could you betray him like this?"
The question seemed to anger Verik. "He betrayed our family! They're dead because of him!" he snapped. In an instant he was at her side. "And you shouldn't talk about things that don't concern you." Verik ducked under Mir's claws as she slashed at him. He caught her arm as she tried to recover from the missed swing, and pressed a hand against her forehead. "Sleep now."
Damon struggled to his feet, still trying to make sense of how things could go so horribly wrong in such a short time. He saw Mir's eyes roll back in her head as she collapsed due to the strain of a Force-induced sensory overload. He drew his pistols but found that he couldn't pull the trigger -- Verik was his brother.
Oh, Force, what can I do? What should I do?
"She'll be out for awhile," Verik told Naveena. "Take her back to the ship and wait for me there. I've got some loose ends to tie up."
"And what of Mull's people?" Naveena asked, eyeing Damon and the other two men warily. "I don't think they're happy with us right now."
"I think Ghull has a man aboard the station -- a bounty hunter named Cassus, or something like that. He might be able to give you some support if Mull causes trouble."
"...Fine," Naveena said, hoisting the unconscious Mir. "Don't die, all right?"
"Mir!" Damon shouted. Not again. This can't be happening. He ran towards her, only to be caught fast by the iron grip of the Force before being slammed with bone-jarring force into the wall.
"You want her?" Verik asked. "Then you go through me." He glanced at Jason and Tam. "I don't really have anything against either of you, but I can't have you following Naveena either. So..." he unsheathed his blade, "I'm just going to have to deal with all of you."
"And here we were getting along so well..." Jason said with a pout as he got back up on his feet after being sprawled on the floor by what he thought was a burst of force. He had thought that he would just have to make a fool out of a few criminals, escape, meet Jedi, bring them to the rebels and be awarded a medal and maybe a paid leave. Instead he had found himself in a family feud other than the one over the girl. He sighed as he assessed the situation. The girl was being brought away and they had a force user in their way. Good thing he hadn't a lightsaber. He stretched the muscles in his shoulder and then got a hold of his blaster again. "Hey, Damon... That's your name, right? You have to choose."
"What?" Jason took a single step forward, clenching and unclenching his mechanical prostethic hand. No damage.
"I understand that this sicko here is your brother, right? So, it's personal, but that woman is getting away with your girl." Jason mentally checked out all the systems of his arm, suspecting that he was going to need them very soon. "So, it's personal too. So, choose. You either fight your brother and let one of of us give chase, or you do chase while me and... Tam? Take care of this cook. Just a note. I may not be a force user, but if that guy's only weapon is that blade..." He pumped his arm and clenched it strongly in a fist. "I can take better care of it than even your lightsaber. So, what will it be?"
"Damon, we'll get her for you!" Not waiting to hear the gunslinger's response, Tam gestured to the man who had become their improvised ally and ran after the green skinned woman and Mir, who disappeared behind a closing blast door. Reaching out with a hand, he willed the blast door to stay open. The pistons and servos behind the wall whined in protest as Tam dove through the unstable opening, and once he hit ground he shouted for the man to follow. "I can't hold it any longer!"
With a deft tumble, the man was through the door. "I see you're the decision maker in this outfit."
"Damon knows what the score is, and he doesn't need some newcomer to spelling it out for him." To forestall the man's outrage he added, "What he needs are allies." Tam dusted himself off and ran down the corridor.
The man ran after him. "That's why I'm offering him the help of the Alliance."
"What's your name again?" asked the boy, slowing to a jog.
"Jason, at the moment we need to do less talking and more running." He picked up his speed and reached out with his feelings to find the path of his quarry...
Cassus glanced around the room quickly admiring his handy-work, grabbed a clip to reload his rifle and started on his way. Knowing his target had to have noticed the fighting behind her, she would most likely have ran for cover.
"IGGY, give me a full scan on the station." Cassus power up his visor, "Bring up any Blue-print's you can get and send them to me, I want a full lay-out of this place."
"Already on it sir." *Click* "Sir, scans show that Ghull has another crew on board, a Falleen called Naveena and a person named Verik."
Cassus stopped for a moment to give his situation a thought, however the only thing to come to him was place explosives at the door leading into the corridor he was standing at. Not one to disobey his intuition, he set the explosive's and readied the detonator.
Suddenly a Falleen woman came running through the doorway with a Farghul woman over her shoulder that fit the description of Mir'isha. Catching these details quickly, Cassus set the trigger for the charges. "If anyone followed, they would cause the charges to explode and that would be that!" Cassus thought to himself.
"Naveena I presume." Cassus removed his Fedora and tussled his hair, before placing the Fedora back on.
Fi held onto one of the protruding corridor struts, more for psychological support than physical, as the sound of another explosion echoed up the corridor. A gaggle of assorted ruffians ran past her - some Fi knew and liked, some she knew and hated, and still others who were as-yet unknown to her. At this moment Fiola Shaku fully realized that, despite herself, she'd become part of quite a large, interesting family here on Mull Station.
And now that family was under attack.
She'd been looking for Mir and her captor, both of whom were very likely now traveling disguised in the red-painted clone armour of Obar Mull's guards. Then the sounds of battle had erupted behind her, in the direction of the station's dorsal hangar bay. The hangar bay where her recently-acquired and beloved ship, the Dawncaller, was berthed.
Fi looked back in the direction of the hangar, blinking orange emergency light catching her face in one conflicted freeze-frame after another. Turning her gaze back up the passage, she thought of her employer, Obar Mull. Obar who, while a heinous criminal for sure, had been nothing but generous and just with Fi and the rest of his company of ne'er-do-wells.
But if Mir's impersonating a guard, Fi thought, she's going to have to be heading for that hangar.
She looked behind her, back down the corridor.
And if she's been kidnapped, she's gonna have to be heading for that hangar.
Fi bit her lip, inhaling deeply. With one last, regretful look bridgeward, she turned and sprinted back down the corridor.
Verik glanced at Damon. "Are all your companions so quick to abandon you? I suppose I can't blame them, given your true nature." He shook his head. "Still, as easy as this makes it for me, I can't just let them go. Excuse me for a moment." He started for the door Tam and Jason had gone through, his arm outstretched and the Force pulsing around him.
There was a sharp crack, and Verik's head snapped back as the bullet whined past his nose. "Made up your mind, have you?" he said calmly, turning to face Damon.
"Don't make me shoot you, Verik," Damon said, his pistols held at the ready. "Please."
"Heh," Verik's smile was cold. "When did you start caring about your family?"
His arm whipped forward, and the blade spun through the air almost faster than Damon could react. He dove out of the way and the blade embedded itself in the durasteel wall. Damon rolled across the floor and came up with his pistols ready, trying to get a bead on his brother.
Damon spun around and saw an indigo-tinged bar of light coming straight for him. Reflexively he raised his pistols, catching the bar of light in between the muzzles, knowing that it was a futile effort.
Damon blinked in surprise -- the lightsaber blade was grinding against the pistols, and perhaps would eventually melt through, but for now...the pistols held.
Verik chuckled. "I see. Dad left you some of his toys, too." He pulled the lightsaber away and called his beskar blade back to his free hand. "Now, brother, I think you'd best use that lightsaber you've got on your belt. It's going to take more than trick pistols to save your friend."
"So kid," said Jason with a chuckle, "do you have any idea where we're going?"
Tam gritted his teeth. "The more you talk, the harder it is for me, so no, I'm not sure where we need to go."
"That Falleen could have taken your friend anywhere by now; taken a turbolift to the upper decks, or hopped on a service car and be on the other side of this crate."
"Those are entirely possible, yes."
"So maybe you should let me take over. I say we find a computer terminal I can hack into so I can track any movement..."
Tam thrust the rest of the man's words out of his sphere of attention. Crouching low, he placed his hand on the cold metal floor of the corridor. The ship hummed under his touch, and through that connection, he began to drink in the presence of every bolt and bulkhead, every conduit and corridor. It was more taxing than he realized, taking in all that information at once, and when he turned his attention back to himself he noticed his brow was sweaty and his breath was heavy.
"Look," said Jason, "like I said. She's in one of these three turbolifts, but she must have seen us trying this because she's activated all three. Two are decoys."
Tam pointed to the far left turbolift on the terminal monitor. "That one. Its repulsors are more taxed than the other two; it's riding heavy."
"The readout doesn't say anything about the loads. I don't think--"
"The far left turbolift is express access to executive quarters. It will require a passcode to enter."
"Not a problem. I can get us on it."
"Good. Let's go." He ran down the corridor, then stopped, turned around, and looked past Jason in the other direction.
"No time to wait around, kid. We gotta go if we're going to catch up to your friend."
But Tam ignored the man's urging, for he was too focused on what was about to come into view...
"IGGY, pull VT out and head to these coordinates. I'll rondevu with you there."
"But sir... Very well sir, I shall see you there." The IG-301 unit started the ship's engines while blaster-fire rang over the hull. Then it pulled itself free of port, quickly pursued by three standard dog-fighters that had been docked in the same bay as the VT-06.
Blaster beams could be seen lighting up the side of the ship as they danced upon the shields. One of the beams made it through and hit the shield generator just as the hyperdrive kicked in.
"Damn it IGGY you better not scratch my ship!"
"Cassus is it? Lets hurry, we've no time to waste. We need her on my ship now." Cassus looked to Naveena, "Wheres your ship docked?"
She pointed in the direction his gun fight had started earlier. The blast scoring from the thermal detonator was still smoldering and the two squads of six laid where they fell, for some their blasters gripped tight and yet others with their blasters holstered.
Cassus stayed at least five paces ahead, watching the corners and doorways for any movement. He held his blaster ready, walked crouched and aimed high. He suddenly stopped on a four way corner, "So... whats the cut when we get the bounty to Ghull?" Cassus rubbed at his nose nonchalantly then smiled.
Verik's skill had only grown with time and training. The boy with the dancing blade Damon remembered from their childhood had been surpassed by the man now in front of him. Verik's blades moved in a way that was almost hypnotic...and Damon almost paid dearly for his inattentiveness. He barely brought his blade up in time to block his brother's lightsaber. The two blades crackled with energy as they clashed. Verik sneered and brought his beskad up with his other hand, slamming it into Damon's blade. The weight of the metal blade combined with Verik's strength pushed Damon backward, and he stumbled and fell to the ground.
"This is pathetic," Verik said. "I thought you were going to be an famous pirate or bounty hunter -- yet you can't even whip your little brother."
Damon got to his feet unsteadily. "Verik...why are you doing this?"
"You really don't know?" Verik asked mockingly. "Let's think back, shall we? Who was it that left home three years ago, vowing to become a galactic bigshot? And who was it that not too long ago decided to show off how special he was -- to the Empire, no less?"
"I wasn't showing off!" Damon protested, parrying a series of vicious slashes as Verik took the offensive again. "I was captured by the Empire -- I had to escape!"
"Captured by the Empire?" Verik's voice dripped sarcasm. "After three years of obscurity, suddenly the Empire finds you worth noticing? Why was that?"
"I told Dad, remember?" Damon snapped, pushing Verik's beskad away and parrying the retaliatory lightsaber strike. "I was poking around in something they didn't want me to poke around in."
"Oh yes," Verik said. "Now I remember -- you found some juicy information and thought 'How can I turn this to my advantage?' Just like a petty little backwater pirate." He scowled, and swept both his blades out in a scissoring motion that nearly took off Damon's head. "Didn't ever think about what could happen to your family, did you? Didn't bother to think about who might come looking for us."
"I--" Damon stopped. Verik was right. At that point in time, Damon had been far too concerned with making a name for himself and keeping his own hide intact. "...I never meant for that to happen."
"But it did, brother. And now Mom and Dad are dead, thanks to your reckless ambition," Verik growled. "I can't let their deaths go unpunished."
A vicious backhanded blow swept Damon's lightsaber out of his hands. It clattered across the deck, the green blade disappearing as it powered down. The beskad blade was at his throat, as was Verik's lightsaber. Damon looked at his brother and saw death in his eyes.
"What about Mir?" he asked, not expecting to get an answer.
"The Farghul that was with me. I can understand why you're coming after me...but why drag her into this?"
Verik shrugged. "Like I said, part of a deal. Ghull was looking for her, I was looking for you, it seemed like a good idea to join forces. And why should I care what happens to some runaway pilot? Can't blame him for wanting to punish a traitor."
The resulting blast of Force energy knocked Verik off his feet. "Don't you dare talk about her like that!" Damon roared. He summoned his lightsaber back to his hands. "You don't know anything about what she's been through!"
Verik sprung back to his feet, both blades ready to meet Damon's charge. The brothers clashed, and Verik found himself being pushed back by Damon's fury. "Where'd you get this strength?"
"When we were boys, you always talked about living by a code of honor," Damon snarled. " Well, tell me, brother, what does your code say about returning a slave to her owner, huh?"
"What?" For the briefest of moments there was a chink in Verik's armor. "Don't be ridiculous, she's just a pilot--"
"She's a slave, and you just helped her master get her back," Damon shoved his brother away. "A whole lot of good your code of honor's done you, huh, slavecatcher? Now you're a petty little backwater pirate, just like me." He laughed hollowly. "I guess we really are brothers."
"Don't put us on the same level!" Verik snarled. His blades flicked out, whirling around Damon's defenses, nicking his shoulder, drawing a line of blood across his cheek. "I'm not like you!"
"Maybe not," Damon admitted. "I don't spend my spare time working for a monster like Ghull."
"Shut up!" Verik gestured, and Damon was bodily hurled into the wall, hard. His vision began to fade, and his last sight before unconsciousness claimed him was Verik standing over him, blades at the ready.