- Posted On: Feb 15 2022 2:29pm
“Telos IV. That’s it.”
Mayfeld sat back in his chair. “That was where my contact said I could drop em.”
The rest of the crew, now sitting aboard Corran Horn’s liberated CEC Gozanti Assault Carrier Antioch, listened with intent. “This is where they told you to bring captured force users?”
Mayfeld nodded. “Kept thinking maybe one day, I’d run into one down on his luck, see if he wanted to light the place up,” Mayfeld said. “Figured if an ex Imperial Sharpshooter and a Jedi Knight side by side weren’t gonna be safe than safe just wasn’t gonna happen.”
“And as far as you know, the place is still active?” Auriga asked.
“This was a long time ago, ho… Auriga,” Mayfeld said. He didn’t want to get too familiar. He wasn’t sure which of them would punch him harder, over protective daddy Ahnk or Auriga herself. “My info is admittedly stale. This line up with anything you’ve heard?”
Corran found himself nodding his head. “They were reluctant to give out the names of active facilities for obvious reasons, but it sounds like their MO,” Corran said. “So, if we’re going do this, we need a plan.”
“Well, the basics of the plan are simple,” Ahnk said, “we go wookiee prisoner.” Ahnk was applying the binders himself, along with a comlink and a device that Auriga couldn’t see tucked beneath it.
“That would be where I come in,” the actor, Griffin Kahane, sat forward. “I’ll bring you and Auriga with me, wanting to claim my reward.”
“And since no idiot in the world is gonna believe you captured one, nevermind two force sensitives, I’m there as your muscle,” Mayfeld said, raising up an E11. “We make the introduction while Corran infiltrates via the Sihoyguawa and gets a location on the prisoners.”
“Then we show them our ace in the hole and we walk out with them nonethewiser,” Ahnk said. “We did make sure to bring him with us from Bonadan?”
“Your gift? It’s in the storage locker in your cargo hold,” Corran confirmed.
“No, not the gift, the passenger,”Ahnk reiterated.
“He’s in the other cargo hold,” Auriga said, “the one that had been mine. I don’t mind telling you, Ahnk, I don’t entirely trust him.”
Ahnk looked around the rest of the room. “Okay, show of hands if there is anyone else on this ship that you trust completely.” After a few seconds, Vonta and Corran Horn, cousins, raised their hands. “You two don’t count.”
“It’s a sound plan, depending on if your passenger can do what he says he can,” Kahane said.
They all turned to Ahnk. “He can. He will. And we go.”
The ship stopped a few klicks out of Telosian orbit, setting off the sensor net on the surface below. “Unidentified Gozanti Cruiser, this is Telos IV Flight Control, please identify yourself and state your business here.”
Kahane sat up, knowing it was his time to shine. “This is Crown Prince Arcturus Valaerian Solo, of The Sons Of Corellia. I have two kidnapped force sensetives to turn over to Dominion custody.”
“Stand by,” the port authority confirmed. “Your clearance checks out. Permission to dock in hanger two. We’ll have a team meet you there.”
“All right, Wook, show me your arms,” Mayeld said, and Ahnk presented his arms so that Mayfeld could lock him in chains. Mayfeld hesitated. “You know, maybe you should do your girlfriend, I don’t want you to…”
Ahnk glared at him. “You’re already holding the cuffs, you can do both of us,” he said. Then he turned back to Auriga. “Remember, they’re just latched. Not locked.”
“I got it,” she said, as Mayfeld latched the cuffs around her arms as well.
The ship rocked a little. “Easy does it,” Mayfeld said. “Nothing to worry about. Touchdown. Alright Crowny, you’re up.”
Kahane, otherwise known as the Crown Prince Arcturus Valaerian Solo, took the lead as the group stepped off the vessel. “Ah, Commander, as you can see here I have a pair of force sensitives in my captivity, please prepare to process them,” he said.
“Very impressive catch,” the commander said, stepping forward. “Where did you catch them anyway?”
“Fleeing the core,” Mayfeld said. “Probably fleeing Coruscant, caught up with them around Junction.”
“How’d you manage to subdue them?” A second officer asked, rifle bouncing on his shoulder.
“Hey, Jedi or no Jedi, everyone dies from explosive decompression, right?” Mayfeld said. “They made the only logical choice at the time. When I heard about this place…”
“Can we hurry this along?” Kahane added. “I am a very important person, as you know.”
“Of course, your highness,” the commander said, stepping forward. “We’ll need to process them, so if you don’t mind turning over those handcuff controls.”
“Whoa whoa, hey, before I turn over these keys, you need to turn over your credits,” Mayfeld said. “This wasn’t charity work here.”
“You mercenaries are all the same,” the commander said. “Isn’t it enough that you have earned the gratitude of a Crown Prince of Corellia?”
“The gratitude of the Crown Prince of Corellia and five credits will still get me five credits worth of coffee, so all the same I’ll take hard currency please,” Mayfeld said, standing firm.
“Do you have any idea how much benefit this work will do to your future asking price?” the other soldier cut in.
“Oh, so I should do this job for the exposure I’ll get on a galactic stage? Listen, you value exposure so much, how about this, I will expose my asshole to you, and you can get me my fucking money,” Mayfeld said, ramping up the tension in his voice.
The first soldier stepped up and looked ready to start throwing hands. “You would DARE…”
Down the hall, a bulkhead door opened, and a truly massive being walked through. The two troopers turned their head immediately and bowed. “My lord, I wasn’t aware that any of your agents would be…”
The creature approached them, his large, red eyes glowing, speaking a language that no one else understood.
“I’m sorry my lord, I don’t understand you,” one of the guards said.
The creature gestured with his hand to the two force sensitives.
The guard snapped to attention. “Ah yes! Of course,” he said, and then grabbed the cuff chain of Auriga. “A gift, to the Cree’Ar Dominion.”
“On behalf of The Sons Of Corellia, as represented by I, Crown Prince Arcturus Valaerian Solo,” Kahane stepped up.
“And me too,” Mayfeld stepped up. “And listen, glory to the great Dominion and all and whatever, but pony up the money or I’ll kill them both before I hand them over.”
That was a great twist. It started a shoving match between Mayfeld and the guards with the Cree’Ar and Kahane trying to talk over them and get them to calm down. It allowed Ahnk, unmonitored, to check in with Sihoyguwa.
“Vonta, report,” Ahnk said softly.
“We may have issues,” Vonta said.
“What’s up? I don’t have a lot of time,” Ahnk relayed.
“Corran has infiltrated the facility, but we have two problems,” Vonta informed him. “For one, the prisoners we are jailbreaking don’t appear to be here.”
“Come again?” Ahnk said. Auriga shot him a very worried expression.
“He’s checked and rechecked the prisoner manifest, no sign of either of the Jedi,” Vonta said. “I have meanwhile rechecked the information I had. According to my sources, they should be here, as of today.”
Ahnk’s eyes widened. “You mean to tell me we might be trying to jailbreak prisoners who aren’t even here yet?”
“Which leads us to our second issue,” Vonta said. “There’s an unidentified Corellian Corvette that has dropped out hyperspace and heading for the planet.”
“Our prisoner exchange?” Ahnk posed. Then, the facility they were in shook as if it had been fired upon. “Oh don’t tell me…”
“Alright, you don’t need to know the unidentified ship just opened fire,” Vonta said.
Ahnk, disgusted, muted his comlink. “Things might be getting a bit complicated,” Ahnk said.
Auriga rolled her eyes. “Wookie prisoner, he said. Works every time, he said. In and out, he said.”
“There is a reason we call it Wookie Prisoner,” Ahnk said. “Sometimes, things get a little hairy.”
The ship rocked even harder; that hit bypassed the shields. “I don’t know what sort of hinky shit is going on here,” Mayfeld said, “but I’m not dying so the Cree’Ar get another couple of captive wizards. So either give me the money, or give me free reign to leave with my prisoners.”
Before the guards could answer, the room was filled with a sound that Ahnk immediately recognized. Auriga saw his look of understanding and poked him. “What is that sound?”
“A Jedi,” Ahnk said, “cutting his way through a bulkhead,” he continued, “with his lightsaber.”
And when he said that, Auriga suddenly realised the nature of their situation.
They’d made themselves wookie prisoners trying to rescue a pair of prisoners, who weren’t prisoners, but were instead coming to perform a jailbreak of their own.
Rebellions are messy things, and sometimes, communication lines can be ragged and dirty. “Go to this planet and jailbreak two Jedi” and “two Jedi are going to this planet for a jailbreak” aren’t radically different messages, but they are different on key and fundamental levels that, sometimes, in the chaos and immediacy of getting information past a totalitarian regime, get lost in translation.
It was a reasonable mistake to make. Auriga couldn’t even be mad.
Ahnk was, though. Auriga could feel it, not even needing the force, just resting her hand on his chest. He was taking furious breaths. He was ready to murder.
He wouldn’t get a chance. When the door popped open, cut free by the lightsaber and shoved into the room by the force, a soldier and a Jedi walked into the room.
Which isn’t a joke, although it sounds like the set up for one. No, a soldier and a Jedi walked into the room. And a minute later, he had a companion step in behind him.
The guards raised their blasters but Kyle Katarn had done this before. He killed both guards before their blasters cleared the holsters.
Then, he analysed the room, and saw Kahane and Mayfeld making absolutely no hostile actions, and keep his blaster movine…
…to the towering Cree’Ar, frozen as if confused. Then, Kyle put two blaster bolts into him too.
And immediately, a wave of cold washed over Auriga. There was grief. And pain. And guilt. And fear. She realized, she had never felt fear from Ahnk Rashanagok before. Now, he was consumed by it.
He threw himself across the room. Already, the Cree’Ar was bleeding, smoke raising from his wounds where the blaster had burned him. “No, no no no,” Ahnk said. He put his hands on the Cree’Ar. Auriga watched, confused, as the massive creature… almost seemed to wilt? Maybe deflate was a better word… under the touch of Ahnk’s hands.
“What the hell is going on?” The second Jedi Soldier, Ganner Rhysode, queried of the group. “Why are you so worked up over a dead Cree’Ar?”
Ahnk turned, and a bit of the anger turned with him. “He’s not dead,” Ahnk said, “and he’s not a Cree’Ar.”
And then Ahnk was gone, shutting out the world, and pouring all of his energy into the wounded man in his arms, Auriga holding him tightly, and the rest of the room slowly coming to terms with how it had all gone wrong.
“A Yuuzhan Vong?”
Kahane nodded. “They have a synthetic flesh that can mold itself, and make it a perfect duplicate of other organic beings,” he said. “Thought it might come in real handy, too, having a Yuuzhan Vong for when we go up against the Yuuzhan Vong.”
“Obviously I didn’t know,” Kyle said, but received no response from Ahnk.
“He’s focusing, Kyle,” Auriga said. “But I don’t think he holds you responsible.”
“Either way, we are in a tough situation,” Rhysode pointed out. “Can we move him?”
Auriga looked down and saw a subtle shake of Ahnk’s head. “Not yet,” she told them.
“Then we need to brace ourselves,” Kyle said. “You… Mayfeld?”
“Yeah,” he responded, “what do you need me for?”
“Your skills with a blaster,” Kyle said. “There is a forty man garrison that got a rude wake up call when we shot on this vessel. They’re on their way here and I figure we have maybe fifteen minutes before they come in the same way we did. We could use some more firepower.”
“You can count on me,” Mayfeld said, but then tapped Auriga on the shoulder. “What can we do, besides die?”
Auriga looked up at him. “He’s in tremendous pain,” she said. “He might die if we try and move him.”
“Well, at least with Ahnk laying over him like that, he won’t take anymore fire,” Mayfeld said.
“I didn’t mean Chang,” Auriga said. When she looked up, she had tears in her eyes. “I meant Ahnk.”
That drew the attention of both the other Jedi, and the other two civilians. They all looked at Ahnk, and saw for the first time, how tired, and damaged he looked. His face had sunken in, and blood had poured out of his mouth at both sides in coughs no one had noticed. It almost looked like Ahnk had been the one to take the shots.
And then they realised what he was doing. Ahnk was using the force to transfer the trauma from Chang to himself. He had saved Chang’s life; he looked stable. Tired, but breathing steadily. But the effect it had on Ahnk was unmistakable.
Auriga reached down and touched his cheek. “Andrew…”
Ahnk’s eyes opened the tiniest amount. “Auriga…” he said, weakly. “Have Kahane help Chang back to the ship. He needs rest.”
Kahane didn’t need to be told once. Auriga meanwhile, just squeezed Ahnk’s shoulder. “Andrew, I…”
“Let Mayfeld take you guys to safety,” he said. “Leave me here.”
She shook her head defiantly. “I won’t leave you alone…”
“I won’t be alone,” Ahnk said, “as I understand it, forty guards are going to be joining me soon.”
Auriga grabbed Ahnk by the shoulders, and sat him up. “Ahnk… Andrew, I… you can’t go. I need to tell you something…”
“I need…” Ahnk said, he reached up his hand to put it on her shoulder. “To tell you something too…”
Auriga noticed, for the first time, the strange device he had been fiddling with before. It was now displaying his vital signs. “What is it, Andrew?”
“I’m… very hard… to kill… maybe this is the time… maybe this is the place… or maybe, I’ll see you on the other side…”
Auriga almost collapsed in grief. What other side? Why did Ahnk have to be such an asshole, even with his dying breath?
Then, Ahnk sighed. His dying breath.
The monitor on his wrist started going haywire. His vital signs plummeted. He was barely still there at all.
“Auriga,” Mayfeld said, his hand on her shoulder. “Auriga, we need to take cover.”
Auriga felt no desire to move. She felt no desire at all. Only an absent, abstract annoyance at the beeping on Ahnk’s wrist. Why was it so powerful? Why so frantic, why so active, why so loud? Of all the things of Ahnk Rashanagok to rage against the dying of the light, why a strange device he had wired to his wrist?
She took one last look down at Ahnk. His tired, worn face. His blood soaked lips. His bruised eyes, closed, maybe never to open again. She could feel the tension of the other Jedi rising. Mayfeld taking position between her and the exposed bulkhead. As she heard boot stomps in the distance, she sighed softly, squeezed Ahnk’s hand, and looked straight out to the rushing violence that came her way.
She felt relaxed. She felt ready.
I’ll see you on the other side.