2.10: Masters Of Exocron: The Moons of Exocron
DS Day 175-176
Where: Exocron System
Dajus sighed. She wasn’t sure why she was following this group around. How much damage can Loh’Khar do on his own? But something told her she needed to be with him. They all huddled in a cantina, covered in their Devisor-apprentice cloaks, that Loh’Khar’s Turazza were able to acquire. The news of the outsiders had spread, and their faces were all over the Exocronian news networks. They had been flowing a group of humans that Loh’khar called “suspicious”. When the Twi’lek. Says something is suspicious, it usually is.
These humans were odd looking to her, aside from their attire, which was definitely not contemporary Exocronian. They also looked very chiseled, features were somewhat angular, almost fair.
“They are Qektoth. They shouldn’t be here. No one but Exocronians should be here.: ” Loh’khar growled to her, with a strong sense of disdain. It was obvious he didn’t like their presence.
“The Qektoth?” Dajus thought back to her time with Sarne. Their name brought darkness to her heart. They were the ones that killed Dann Drugah on Pitann. There name continued to dominate the dark corners of their journey, a brooding spectre watching them as they traveled through the Outback. There was already evidence they were involved with the more unfriendly factions of the Kathol Republic. She suspected that they are still dealing with Sarne. The shipment of Sullustans tagged for the Nuniok Dak project were headed for their part of space when they found them.
Her mind wondered, thinking of times past, and present… and future. The bar room around her went suddenly dark, fading into a vortex of darkness. She heard voices, many voices. Hundreds, thousands, but all a version of her own. They welcomed her to something called the Aggregate, calling her one with the Assemblage. She saw light and her min was drawn towards it. It was a tunnel, a stone passage way. The stone was black and artificially carved. It looked as if they were in mines of some kind. Her mind brought her to a a work pit where hundreds of humans were being forced to work. She felt their pain, their despair. They all wore a device of the back of their head… not a device, an organism. This thing was controlling them; enslaving them. She heard another voice, not of her own; of the captain’s… crying for help.
She awakened from her daze, finding herself staring at her drink. She slid it aside so the bus-boy-droid would pick it up.
“I want to know what they are up to.” Loh’Khar said as he got up from his drink. He gave Dajus a strange look. Gorak must have returned from his little outing while she was in her daze.
“I think we are being followed” He said.
“Of course. We’re dressed in devisor apprentice cloaks. We’re probably not too welcome around here.” Dajus said.
“It was the best my Turazza could do.” He said as he gestured to the two at his heels. The other did not accompany them, and remained on the Farstar. Was it Vizzel, …Nizzel, …Fizzel…? One of them.
“I don’t know who they are, I just know they are human.” Gorak shifted in his seat, looking around.
“We don’t have time to deal with them. If the Exocronians are onto us, fine. We have to find out what the Qek’s are up to. They might be connected to where ever they took the captain.” Loh’Khar said intently.
“From what we know of the Qek, I hope not” Dajus said. However, something told her that the Qek could lead them to the captain. Why am I trying to save the captain?
They followed the chiseled individuals to a landing platform high above the city. A vessel lay on the platform that was not of Exocron design. There were three groups of humanoids on the platform; three distinct groups. One was the Qek, for sure, dressed in long coats, wearing wide brimmed hats. The other was more recognizable… Imperials. What were they doing here? If they were, why haven’t they attacked the Farstar? The third group took some work to recognize, but they finally recognized the short stout humans as natives of Pitann for the Kathol Republic. They were dressed in diplomatic garb, covered in a nondescript long coat.
It was obvious they were making some kind of exchange. There were droids moving large oblong objects into the ship. The ship was obviously some kind of cargo vessel. With macrobinoculars, the doctor could make out the objects. They were more of those sleep-stasis pods. The last one they saw carried a Darkstryder-enhanced Sullustan that ripped the Farstar into hyperspace with it’s mind. If there were more of them, this could be disastrous. She caught a glimpse of another pod. Inside was not a Sullustan. It was much more stout, and it had four arms… a starwolf. The next one contained a Sullustan, then another starwolf. What would they want from the starwolf? He thought for a minute. Starwolves are sensitive to hyperspace. If the Sullustans had the genetic traits of a starwolf, the ability to sense hyperspace, and the strength of a iron based bone structure… Lords of the deep… they could perhaps survive outside the pod more than a few brief moments. He admired the brilliance, but loathed the sinisterness of it. Sarne could control the hyperspace around Kathol.
“We have to destroy those pods.”
“We have to get on that ship” Jessa said hauntingly. “It will lead us to the captain”
“My Turazza concur.” Loh’Khar said after the two that were with him this trip returned from their scouting trip. “They say that the freighter will make one more stop, to pick up the captain on one of the moons. Dressed like this, we might be able to hide up there. It’s just hiding on the ship is the problem. I have sent Rizzal to find us a hiding place on that ship. We may need a distraction.”
“We’ll provide that” A shadow came alive. No, it wasn’t Kl’aal as Loh’Khar first thought. It was two of the Night Terrors; Dodonna and Tirog. They were the ones following them. “We will set up one of those pods to pop, setting it up on long delay, long enough for them to get to it. A simple distraction. You get on board and get the captain.”
They all stared for a moment while the plan sunk in. From the hidden balcony they were in, they could see that there were several Qek-guards, and a few stormtroopers. Dodonna and Tirog left before they could even agree. They were doing what had to be done.
Gorak nodded to Loh’khar and the rest. They had to do the same; what had to be done. The Turazza returned, saying that there were damaged pods inside the cargo bay they could hide in. Lucky for the Night Terrors they had a place to stay.
Tirog growled that he drew the short straw for this little mission. Dodonna was watching from a distance, watching his back. He found his way into the maintenance conduits underneath the landing bay. There wasn’t much between him and the guards other then a 2 inch-durasteel grating. He could hear them walking just above him. His stealth was the key.
The cargo was just above him now. All he had to do is come out underneath it in one of the open spaces between pods, and find a relatively-difficult-but-not-impossible-to-get-to pod. He used a pocket cutter to cut through the grating, hoping that the noise of the freighter’s warming engines would cover his noise. He climbed into the a space between two pods, and reached an outer-pallet of pods.
Dodonna was nervous, even though he wasn’t down there with Tirog. The guards were wondering to close to the pods. One stopped as if he heard something. It was a Qek. The Qek drew his arm from behind his cloak, revealing the dread “claw” weapon. It seemed to grow larger as he brandished it. Bolts of energy leaped from the claw-tips, as the Qek swept the device of the deck plating as if it were a scanner. He then stopped
“Tirog, you better move” Dodonna whispered in his comlink headset.
“Just one more second. Almost finished”
“Buddy, they are right there at you. He’s doing something funny with that claw-thing. I think they know you are there.”
“Naaa, he’ll think I’m a rat or something.”
“What if they hate rats too?”
“Ok, got it. I’m outta….”
At that moment, a bright flash came from the Qek’s claw. The ball of energy cut through the deck plating of the platform into the crawl spaces. It then paused, as if thinking or sensing for it’s prey.
Milliseconds later, Dodonna stared in shock. Tirog was not responding to his calls through the comlink. The guard walked off coldly, as if he had just killed a rat. Stifling his rage, he turned and walked into the nearby crowds and disappeared, heading back to the Farstar to report his encounter. He knew this was going to really upset Moyato. He hated to be the barer of bad news, especially of this kind.
The others also stared in horror. From their angle, they could only guess, but they knew. Something told them they had just lost a good man.
The alarms of a pod opening snapped them out of their mourning. They had a mission to do. Dajus turned first to the Turazza, and said, “Lead the way. They will be busy for only a short time.”
Loh’Khar nodded to the Turazza who were waiting for his approval. Gorak followed up the rear behind the Doctor. They had to cross a long cross-way before getting to the ship. They hoped that their robes would hide any need for suspicion.
Moments later, with ease that was almost disconcerting, they sat inside the faulty pods inside a cargo bay full of similar pods, all either containing starwolves or Sullustan. Gorak was glad he ordered Samarion to the sprawl team. The short humanoid would go berserk if he saw this.
Gorak had seen the other pods as they worked their way back into the cargo bay. It looked like the Qek system were over riding the basic functions of the pods, filling them with this green ooze and inserting this organic-looking umbilical cord down the victim’s throat. He swallowed deep. He hoped the pods they had found were THAT faulty as to not have that functionality. Now Gorak laid in his more-than-half-filled pods, keeping his chin above the fluid, and avoiding the umbilical cord that seemed to have a mind of it’s own. He secretly hoped the rest were having just as bad a time inside their pods.
As the cargo bay was filled, technicians entered with scanners. Last minutes checks of all the pods before departure, Gorak figured. What would they do when they got to their pods?
Dajus also saw the Qek-techs coming near, with odd-looking hand scanners sweeping across each pod. Her emotions were swirling. Claustrophobia, fear of drowning in the disgusting fluid, fear of dying at the hands of one of these scum, hatred of the Qek, and of Sarne. Her mind reached out, calling for help, even though she herself would never believe it capable. It touched another mind; one that seemed to be waiting for her to call out.
“This is just a sample of what you are capable of, Jessa Dajus. I am tapping your potential, but only a small part of it…”
She felt a surge of power around her, as if something had just opened her mind and soul to the universe. It was amazing. But she sensed two sides to this new power, pulling at her. She felt like her soul was on a thin catwalk, over a pit of fire on one side and water on the other. Weights were pulling her to one side or the other. Then there was a flash…
“These are normal pods, move on…” She heard her voice whisper. She looked out the view port of the pod, at the Qek-tech standing in front of her pod. He glanced at his scanner, then moved on to the next one, as if everything was normal.
Dajus shook her head. Did I do that?
Gorak looked on as the tech moved passed all of their groups pods and started scanning the next after his. Wonder what caused that?
It was hours before they felt the freighter land, and the cargo bay was once again bustling with activity. They had to stealth there way out of the cargo bay, and find the captain. The former proved easier than they thought. Perhaps it was Qek arrogance, or perhaps they were being allowed to sneak in whatever facility they were in. Either way, they were mingling among other similarly robed individuals a few minutes later. They were in some sort of catacombs, or caverns, deep beneath the surface of one of the moons.
There were Devisors here, as well as their apprentices. There were also people, mine-workers, all with strange organic-looking devices attached to the back of their heads. They were being enslaved, by the Qek, for the Devisors. This was making more sense by the minute.
With the Turazzas’ help, they were able to determine that the captain was to be loaded on this ship, and shipped somewhere into Qek Confederation space. No telling what the Qek intended on doing with her.They waited for some sign of the captain. Despite their tattered and goo-soaked robes, they tried to blend in, and look local.
A commotion caught their attention in the landing bay, as they were attempting to load yet another stasis pod onto the Qek-freighter. A Qek-scientist was ranting about something, demanding that the pod taken back to his lab “She’s not ready for travel. You…” He pointed towards Dajus and her entourage…”Take this pod back to Lab 120 on sublevel 9. Hook her back up to the vital-scanners, and inject her with more pandrocsolite to keep the symbiot from going into shock. They have no idea how fragile these prototype symbiots are.”
The group, not wanting to stand out, did as the scientist requested. As they traveled down the hall to where the scientist pointed, they realized who was in the pod… it was Captain Adrimetrum. She had a bio-device similar to those on the back of the heads of the slaves. It was slightly different from the things they had seen before. She looked pale and barely alive.
They brought to a empty medical lab not far from the landing area. Dr. Akenseh immediately began procedures to release Kaiya, while the others kept watch.
“She is heavily dehydrated, and malnourished. We should leave her in the pod and find a way off. On the Farstar, I can help her. Not here.” He looked around at the strange medical bay they had stumbled into. It was stocked with drugs and bio-samples he had never seen before. He made a mental note to grab the most interesting vials and datapads when he had the chance. He turned to reseal the pod.
“Someone’s coming!” whispered Loh’Khar. He had just sent his Turazza out to find them a way out, when he spotted movement down the hall. It took a moment to make him realize that the movement was in white armor. He reached to shut off the light.
Dajus watched through the clear transparasteel door as figures marched by. First some Qek Guards, then some technicians, then …. Imperial Stormtroopers, followed by…. Sarne!! There he stood within blaster reach, surrounded by his guards, and Qek guards. He looked awfully cozy with the Qek. She clenched her fists till her nails bit into her skin. She felt Gorak’s hand holding her down with a form grip.
“Not the time.”
The entourage passed, and the group hurried to finish their work. The Turazza returned with a definite escape route, but they had to move fast.
“Where going to need a distraction to escape. They are not just going to let us dance right out of here.” Dajus said.
“We can set an explosion….” Loh’Khar said.
“Let’s worry about it when we get to the ship. What do we have?” said Gorak
“An Imperial Lambda-class Shuttle. Waiting for us on the west pad. Rizzal knows the way. Move fast before more than just the pilots board the shuttle.”
The pilots were easy dispatched, as were the two guards. But the would be noticed soon, if the Qek were as linked together as people said they were. They needed that distraction. A big one.
Loh’Khar was arguing with Rizzal, as was the sister Turazza.” No, you can’t. What will I do without you!!!”
“What is it finder?” Gorak strapped between them.
“Rizzal wants to be left behind to trigger the distraction. She wants to go on-board that freighter and open as many of those pods as she can. That’ll distract them good.”
“She’ll never make it out.” Akenseh stated the obvious.
Gorak looked at Loh’Khar “It’s our only chance. You can’t stop her from doing what she wants to do.”
Loh’Khar lowered his head. Vizzal collapsed crying. Rizzal left in silence.
Not long after the Turazza left, the alarms sounded. That was their cue. The shuttle was warmed up quickly and soon they were shooting off towards the gas giant. Sensors picked up another shuttle lifting off as they did, heading in the opposite direction.
Sarne! Dajus knew who it was.
Two groups of fighters were launched to pursue their shuttle. Before they could get out of the moons gravity well, the moon and all with in its gravity-reach…. Vanished. Dissolved from sensors completely; dissolved from existence absolutely. The Turazza must have opened quite a few pods. Quite a few Sullustans probably died. The sacrifice weighed heavy on them as the flew back towards the Farstar.