"I'll be back shortly. Have Marr's crew service the Arallute in the meantime." I gave Vette a reassuring smile.
"Your name usually gets us pretty fast service. Shouldn't be a problem." Vette quipped. She turned back to the airlock and re-boarded our ship.
Jen stepped through the airlock on the other side of the narrow hall and smiled widely at me. "Ever get sick of meeting up like this?" ▪
I nodded my head. "Just once, I would love to take a nice long vacation."
"That sounds wonderful! I would love to go back to Rishi!" Her nose crinkled as her smile grew larger.
"Quinn promised to take me back to Rakata Prime, once this whole business is wrapped up." I couldn't wait to go lay on the beach, under the shady palm trees with Malavai. My toes in the sand.
"So maybe you should get a move on." Vette's voice came through my ear piece.
I motioned to Jen and took point. We turned down a corridor and were met by Captain Fora, who informed us that Darth Marr was waiting for us on the bridge. I led the way, having been here before. Marr was pacing near the forward viewport, clearly anxious to get his search underway. I bowed to him. "I received your message. And now that I am here...I sense it too." ▪
Marr looked out to the stars. "We grow closer every moment. Our former Emperor is out there."
"The sooner the we take him out, the better. Saving the galaxy is great, but I've got better paying jobs I want to get back to." Jen replied.
"Do we know what could have brought him to this area? My ship's charts don't have much." I asked Marr, hopeful that he would have more information.
"There are rumors of many civilizations in this region, but our only outposts nearby were destroyed without explanation some time ago. The culprits were never determined." Marr stepped closer to the viewport. "Why travel so far? Why consume every living thing on Ziost, then turn and flee into the depths of Wild Space?"
"He definitely didn't sound afraid the last time we spoke. Could this all be just a game to him?" Jen asked.
"We'll soon find out. If we do find him, I believe I can press the Dark Council into line...But I am beginning to doubt the the Republic will make any serious contributions. Their assistance has been useful, but limited."
"There are at least a few people in the Republic who can be reasoned with. I could contact Theron Shan." Jen offered. ▪
"He is a spy. But...if we have no other means..."
"With or without the Republic...this has to be done. We'll find a way." I vowed.
"We'll see." Was all the reply Marr gave.
An officer interrupted our conversation. "My lord! Sensor contact...fifteen clicks. Small...no life form readings...some kind of probe?" No sooner where the words out of his mouth than the probe flew past the viewport.
Another officer spoke up. "Readings are identical to scans from the unknown source that attacked Korriban!"
"Raise shields. Pursue and destroy." Ordered Marr.
"Why would someone send a probe out here? Some kind of survey?" I wondered aloud.
"We can find out from the wreckage."
The probe continued flying at a breakneck speed, right into a large fleet that blinked into view before us. I had never seen ships like these before. The size and number was intimidating. I looked at Jen, knowing that the same thought was probably going through her head. Our ships! The Arallute and Mando War would not stand a chance in a space battle with ships of this size. We had to warn our crews. ▪
"Evasive maneuvers! Come about 180 degrees!" The Destroyer turned to face the unknown fleet head on. The ship shook under our feet.
"We've been boarded! All decks report hostile forces!" One of the officers shouted.
"We'll sweep for boarders. You get us out of here!" I ordered. Jen followed close behind me, engaging shields around both of us.
I heard Marr giving orders as we left the bridge. "Set deflectors to double aft! Divert weapon power to the engines!"
Jen and I made our way through the ship, taking out droid after droid, but more and more infiltration pods were piercing the Destroyer. I carved a path to a hall and saw two men arguing over a blast door. There were soldiers trapped on the other side. "Drop the sheild and let me through--I can handle this."
"Right away!" The Republic soldier said with a salute.
"We'll cover the exit and make sure no stragglers sneak out past you." The Imperial soldier said.
Jen and I went down the hall and took out the droids that were making their way to the soldiers that were trapped. Once freed we all rejoined the two soldiers in the main hall.
"You did it!" Said the Republic soldier. "I've never seen anything like that..."
"Regroup at the bridge--we can't lose control of the ship." I ordered all of the soldiers.
"Right away. Thank you" The Imperial soldier said before leading everyone else back the way that Jen and I had come.
We were sweeping the next deck for anymore intruders when the barrage of weapons fire started hitting the Destroyer. The deck rolled under our feet and I lost my footing for a second.
"--thing isn't working right. Are you there? Droids put a bunch of holes in the airlock and melted the docking clamps--we could use some help!" Vette was near panic.
"I am on my way Vette." I looked at Jen, fear gripping me. "The Arallute...They can't get free."
"Mako, can you guys break free?" She was quiet while she waited for an answer. "I will be right there." She shook her head at me. We ran back to the hall where our ships were docked. There were fires sprouting up and not enough astromech droids to put them out. Crew members were in a panic and running down halls trying to find places of refuge. This situation was growing more dire by the moment. Jen and I manually released the docking clamps on our ships.
"That did it--we're free! But, uh...there's an awful lot of these guys out here!" Vette exclaimed. ▪
"If you see an opening to escape, take it. Someone has to make it back to the Empire." I told her. She had to get out of here. If I didn't make it, at least those that I loved most would. I had to hope. I was glad she was at the helm. I couldn't bear it if it was Malavai. I know he would argue, he would stay and fight, he would die.
"What? And just leave you here, in the middle of all this?"
"Yes, it is the only way." Go Vette! I urged her.
"I...If you say so. We'll bring whatever help we can find, just...don't die out here." And then she was gone. I watched as the Arallute banked and fled from the fight.
I closed my eyes and thought of my Captain. Malavai, I love you. If I make it out alive, I will find you. Please forgive me. I looked to Jen, I am sure my face matched hers, the pain of having to tell our crews to leave us behind. Knowing that though they lived they would forever be altered by this day. The pain was staggering, the only relief was that I wouldn't have to bear it long. The ship was coming apart around us.
"The enemy has breached the engineering deck--they're after the primary generator. I'm on my way now--Meet me there." Marr wasn't going to go down without a fight. I nodded at Jen and we changed course and headed to engineering. We found Marr in a cross section, droids closing in from every side, the raw fury and utter destruction he caused his enemies was something to behold. I had never seen him in battle before, but it gave me a whole new respect for him. "The bridge is secure for now. But without main power we will be destroyed in seconds." ▪
Jen looked at him with an angry glint in her eyes. "Lets not waste any time, then." We followed Marr to the engineering, weapons drawn, ready to cut down any more of these swarms of droids. Once we reached the engine room Jen quickly looked everything over. "The power core is strained to the breaking point. We can recharge the shields, but they still won't last long."
Marr slapped the console in front of him. "The hyperdrive has been completely burnt out."
A hologram of Captain Fora appeared. "Enemies on the bridge! Repeat, enemies on--" The hologram disappeared as quickly as it has appeared.
"There are rudimentary back up controls here, but the enemy ships have us surrounded. We have few options left." Marr sounded resigned.
"Then we save as many lives as we can." I pushed a button that would broadcast to the entire ship. "Attention! Shields are failing and the enemy has us surrounded. Evacuate now, while you still can!" ▪
Part of the ceiling came crashing down behind us. "So be it." Marr said, shaking his head. The Destroyer shimmied, and the floor pitched beneath me. There was a horrible screeching sound as the ship ripped itself apart. ▪