//I reccommend skipping to the bottom for the summary, this turned out to be longer than I expected. >.>//
The Balance Guardian - Bridge
Korwin swiveled this way and that on his chair, monitoring his men and tapping his chin in thought as they left hyperspace and the jungle planet came into view. He leaned forward, looking into the screen infront of himself thoughtfully, until one of his ensigns spoke up.
"Sir, a Republic ship is hailing us, they're navy. It's an Acclamator vessel." he said, swiveled about in his own chair in front of his terminal.
"Let's hear what they have to say, then." Korwin replied and leaned forward in his chair, uttering one sentence that for some odd reason, seemed to make him feel like a real captain of a space ship "Put it up on screen, ensign."
A familiar looking face came into view on said screen, this particular clone had the markings of a commanding officer, however, as shown by the pattern on his uniform.
"This is the Republic Navy Vessel Solidarity to unknown vessel. Please Identify yourself and state your purpose in this system." The soldier stated in a neutral tone.
Korwin swiveled to the side to the ensigns, by force of habit, speaking a little less loudly. "Tell the men at the hangar to prepare the interceptors, just in case." The ensign nodded and proceeded to relay the message. Once that was done, Korwin gave him his reply to send to the Solidarity.
"Solidarity this is Korwin Sanscred, captain of the Balance Guardian, relaying ID signature now." after a brief pause in which the data transfer was confirmed, the jedi continued "We are in this system tracking down a lead on slavers, originating from Zygerria. They were reported to have entered this system in a small vessel, with the cargo of several zygerrian females, possibly children as well. Have any unidentified vessels entered the system recently."
The captain of the Solidarity seemed to consult with one of his own crewmembers before replying. "There was a vessel that entered Kashyyk's atmosphere fourty galactic standard minutes prior to your arrival. They made entry before we could question them, it seemed as if they were headed for the jungles. We're sending you their known coordinates before they vanished off our sensors. You'll forgive me if I don't send any of my men tracking down zygerrians, captain Sanscred."
Korwin restrained a frown from spreading on his features and simply nodded as the ensign confirmed the coordinates were set into the navigation system. The man took a deep breath and inclined his head somewhat.
"Thank you, Solidarity, safe patrols. Guardian out." with those words, the link was cut and Korwin rose from his seat. "Ensign, tell the men in the hangar to prepare an LAAT, I want two squads waiting for me inside, tell them to pack the e-webs."
He spoke as he took his usual, calm strides toward the mechanical doors leading to the sprawling corridors that navigated the ship's interior. He ran his hand along one of the walls, feeling the cool texture and the hum of circuitry beneath the panels. As he did, he reached into one of the pockets of his robe, retrieving his comlink.
"Lorreck, I need you on the bridge, you're in command until we return from Kashyyk." he spoke clearly, but stopped abruptly as he walked, realizing he'd been headed in the wrong direction. Swiftly turning about on his heel, he headed the other way, toward the armoury.
The comlink came to life with his XO's voice. "Not taking me along down there?"
The jedi thought for a moment, then gave his reply. "No, I need you here, to keep an eye on any ships that might be leaving the system. Plus...I think the soldiers on that other ship'll respond better to your presence, should something come up."
The reply came immediately. "Roger that, Kor, on my way. Good luck down there."
He did so enjoy the professionalism of his lieutenant. Once again, the force-user's intuition and memory came into effect as he stopped abruptly just as he was about to pass by the door to the armoury. Smiling to himself, Korwin stepped toward the door and through it as it slid open. Inside, the gunnery chief and quartermaster were busy at work sorting and maintaining various weapons. They gave him a nonchalant salute as he entered and he responded in kind with a warm smile still playing on his lips.
It did not take the jedi long to find his own, personalized suit of armor, repeating the now instinctively imprinted process of donning and securing it over his robes. It left some to be desired, but it protected his body adequately without impeding movement. When finished, Korwin brought his comlink up to his face once again. Pressing on a small button at the side, switching to a preset connection with Vizal's comm.
"Vizal, I need you in hangar bay A, we're heading down to the surface." he said as he rounded a corner and weaved past an engineer before they collided.
After a brief pause, a response was finally given. "You always take me to the nicest places, don't you, jedi? I'll be there in a moment."
Once again, a bemused smile spread on the jedi's lips as he slowly approached the hangar, at a leisurely pace as he was used to.
The Balance Guardian - Hangar
There, the two squads of troopers and the twi'lek smuggler were preparing their respective equipment, checking their weapons and ammunition. Vizal was the first to notice his arrival, looking at him with a reprimanding frown as usual.
"Took you long enough, Sanscred." she started, holstering her blasters "We were about to head down without you."
Korwin simply met her gaze with a smile as he mounted the gunship. "One doesn't rush perfection, Vizal. I plan to do this as cleanly as possible."
He heard the twi'lek scoff behind him. He turned about to offer her a hand, to help her board the LAAT. She looked at him with an inquisitively arched brow, seemingly determined to seem bitter. She fluidly hauled herself on to the gunship, disregarding the offered hand. Korwin knew better, though mentally admitted she kept up a good act.
The whole scene proved to be amusing to the troopers as some made quips at both their commanding officers as to this exchange. As the gunship's hatches were hermetically sealed and the journey down to the planet began, they exchanged many more jokes. It was the jedi's belief that an atmosphere that didn't demand that his men hold back whatever it was they wished to say helped to make for a cohesive team coordination.
Korwin closed his eyes and waited for the turbulence as they descended to pass. He glanced over his shoulder and spoke into the pilot's cockpit.
"Pilot, you've got the coordinates, see if you can detect any settlements near them."
"Aye-aye, sir." the pilot responded and consulted the navigation system. "There's a wookie village, sir, a few kilometres from the coordinates, shall I redirect us there?"
"Do so, pilot." the jedi responded and leaned back against the vessel's wall, awaiting their arrival.
As the pilot signalled their arrival, one of the hatches was opened and, holding on to one of the metal beams above, Korwin leaned outside the confines of the gunships to get a better view. The wookie village seemed to be the victim of an attack, no doubt from the slavers, some huts had caught on fire and the wookies were scrambling to put them out. He tensed somewhat as he saw several of the villagers raising their bowcasters to bear on them. He waved his hand in a wide arc, signalling them not to fire and luckily, the militia seemed to lower their weapons, one even directing them to a sizable landing pad which had traces of carbon scoring, no doubt from the intruders' hasty retreat.
There, they dismounted and Korwin swiftly directed his troopers to help secure the village and help the wookies put out the fires. Though that part had gone over easily, Korwin was faced with a dilemma. He was not versed in shyriiwook, and the wookie that had guided them to the landing pad didn't seem to understand galactic basic. He turned to the side to face Vizal.
"Is there any chance you're fluent in their tongue, Vizal?" he asked, putting his faith in her considerable know-how. However, he was to be disappointed, as he was met with but a shrug of the twi'lek's shoulders.
The proceeding communication proved straining as through rudimentary sign language, Korwin finally succeeded in getting the message across, that they wished to meet with the village's chieftain. They were brought to a large hut within the village, wherein rested the wounded, but not mortally so. Near him was a translator droid, much to the jedi's relief.
The troopers, having successfully aided the wookies in putting out the fires, gathered near the chieftain's hut. Korwin turned to Vizal as they stood before the wounded old wookie.
"Tell one of the men to bring a medical kit, then take the others and make a sweep of the village, in case anyone decided to stay behind and keep a lookout." With a nod, the twi'lek swiftly set about to do as the man asked.
Korwin then approached the chieftain and respectfully inclined his head, something that proved to mean generally the same thing in most cultures. He then asked.
"I am Korwin Sanscred, myself and my men are hunting slavers and we're here to help. Can you tell us who attacked your village?" he watched the droid quickly assess his words and translate them into the growling sounds of shyriiwook.
The chieftain slowly began to retell the circumstances of the attack. The droid dutifully translating his growling. It mentioned a strange vessel and trandoshans who took three of the village's youths before being forced off. Korwin knew he was hunting the right people, but the last piece of information the chieftain shared made him frown. The defenders had damaged the slavers' ship, making it fall down through the canopy of the wroshyr trees into the Shadowlands bellow.
"And where exactly did the ship fall?" Korwin asked, his brows knitted.
After a brief pause, the droid translated the short grunt as "Down.".
Certain that he'd gleaned all the information there was to glean from the wookie, the jedi once again inclined his head, speaking his gratitude to the cheiftain as the trooper entered the hut, armed with a medical kit. Korwin left them in peace, searching for a secluded spot in the village. His search led him behind stacked crates of supplies, where he sat and crossed his legs.
As he often did, he reached out to expand his senses through the Force, attempting to peer through the sprawling jungles of Kashyyk, searching for any sensation that would give him a clue. All he sensed, however, is the darkness of Kashyyk's floor. It seemed like an endless mist that shrouded his vision. The man heaved a sigh as he dreaded stepping down there. Nevertheless, he resolved to fulfill his duty in full. Rising to his feet, he once more entered the village proper.
Once more, he headed to the chieftain's hut. He raised his hand to beckon the trooper that treated the chieftain.
"He'll be fine sir, none of his wounds were life threatening." the soldier reported.
"Good, good." came Korwin's somewhat distant reply, followed by a pat on the clone's shoulder. The jedi stepped into the hut once more.
The wookie looked at him, expectantly as he sat resting.
"While I'm determined to seek out these slavers and return both your tribesmen and the other slaves, I will need a guide through the jungle, if you can spare one." the man started, watching the wookie's reaction. Even on his alien features, Korwin could feel a sense of deliberation. Finally, he responded, though much to Korwin's disappointment, no guides would be sent.
Frustration began to rouse itself within the jedi as he left the chieftain once again, after curtly bidding his farewells. Once more he approached his men, a corporal turned to him.
"Your orders, sir?" he inquired, with those words, the rest all turned to face the jedi. Standing still for a few long moments as if considering, their commander finally replied.
"Back on the gunship, we'll take a look from the skies, see if we can find them." he started and leisurely strolled toward the aircraft. "We'll have our work cut out for us, of that I'm sure."
Once on board, they opened the hatches, inspecting the surroundings from a bird's vantage point both by eye and through the navigation systems of the on-board computer. They covered ground quickly, and eventually the pilot managed to spot a pillar of smoke rising from beneath the canopies.
"Korwin, I think we have them, they're a few kilometres out from the village. The lizards have some wicked luck." he began, bringing the gunship closer to inspect the rising vapors. "I'm getting a heat signature, faint, from the forest floor. Damn miracle they didn't hit any trees."
"Can you take us down anywhere close by?" Korwin asked, turning his head to the side, with his eyes locked on the smoke.
"Negative, I'd be landing blind. Chances are we'll lose an engine or two in the descent. You know what that means. The wookies use lifts to get down to the forest floor, maybe they can show us one."
"Take us back to the village, then, we'll find our way from there. Mark the coordinates."
With that, they made their return to the village. The chieftain seemed surprised to see the jedi walk into his hut for the third time, but nevertheless welcomed him.
"My greetings once again." Korwin started and inclined his head respectfully "I have come seeking your assistance for the last time. We seek passage to the Shadowlands."
The chieftain seemed taken aback, returning only a look of disbelief. Eventually, however, he relented and made a motion of his large hand toward his tribesmen, one of which left the hut. Soon after, he returned with a young, but strong looking wookie. Korwin sat on his knees before the chieftain as he quietly conversed with the newcomer, whom he suspected was his son.
The translator droid dutifully translated the aftermath and Korwin was delighted to have a guide, at least as far as the lift to the forest floor.
The following trip along the terraces proved not to be as quiet as expected. The wookie seemingly understood galactic basic and some of the more curious troopers took turns asking him simple questions during the trip.
Meanwhile, Korwin was denied the leisurely pace he so enjoyed taking so as to match the strides of their wookie guide. Soon, he heard a familiar voice scolding him.
"Korwin, day by day I'm starting to believe that you've gone insane." his twi'lek companion muttered as she walked beside him. "You're risking our lives for zygerrians. Among the roots of Kashyyk, no less."
Releasing a soft sigh, the jedi turned to face Vizal as they walked.
"You know well enough that I wouldn't condemn anyone to slavery. Not everyone on zygerria is a slaver. Few oppose the idea, but few have the strength to do so. Believe me, I see the irony of the situation and I don't find it amusing." after a bit of a pause, he found the words to truly encourage his smuggler lieutenant "Remember, though, the reward. I'm sure his sizable sum is enough to pique your good will."
"You...well...yes, it does." the twi'lek muttered in response. "I better get some creds extra for all this trouble, jedi."
A chuckle escaped the jedi as Vizal sped her pace to get ahead of him. He shook his head in bemusement, squinting his eyes as he made out a platform in the distance.
Soon, they stood before the wooden lift that would lead them down to the Shadowlands. Their wookie guide ushered them on, motioning with his hands that only a dozen of them could descend at a time. With that, the jedi turned to his men.
"Vizal, take five from each squad and get down there, secure the area and we'll be down right after you."
The process proved to be a lengthy one as the wooden lift slowly approached its destination. In that time, Korwin sensed the turmoil within the young wookie. He could feel his desire to descend and free his brethren. He masked this well, however, his sense of duty was strong.
"You can join us, if you wish." the man started, turning the chieftain's son's attention to himself. "It will be dangerous, but if you truly desire to help us rescue your tribesmen, I will not stop you."
The wookie fell into deliberation, letting out whimpers and growls as he struggled to decide. With one last, tortured groan, the large tribal simply shook his head, then bowed it, his jaw clenched.
Korwin placed a hand on the wookie's shoulder, simply smiling at the youngster as the platform was raised once more. He nodded to the rest of his men and they made their descent with a parting growl from their guide.
The descent seemed endless and Korwin could feel the atmosphere slowly change the further down they went. The canopies grew thick above them until barely a flicker of sunlight was able to penetrate the leaves. The air grew cold, chilled from the eternal night that reigned in the Shadowlands. He breathed out slowly as he stepped out of the lift. He truly felt the cold that filled that gloomy place.
Taking a moment of composure, he raised his voice to give his orders.
"Flashlights on, men, form up in phalanx. I want eyes in every direction, I and Vizal will take point. We move as one, hopefully in a few hours we'll reach the coordinates and get this over with."
A hushed chorus of "yes sirs" followed as the men neatly moved into as best a formation as they could and began their approach through the winding pathways and tangled vegetation. The sounds of the Shadowlands seemed to unnerve even the able soldiers under Korwin's command as animalistic screetches were followed by roars in the distance and the constant shuffling of unseen creatures among the underbrush followed them.
Their progress was swift, maybe too swift that it would attract attention. Suddenly an alarming sensation swept over the jedi commander and he raised his arm, his hand balled up in a fist, a symbol for his men to halt. He felt eyes on himself and the others. He was not left long to wonder what was so keenly interested in them, as one of the clones' flashlight illuminated the form of an enormous red spider clambering down the bark of a nearby wroshyr tree. As everyone turned their attention to it, several more were revealed. Excitement filled Korwin's mind at this newfound danger.
"Pull back and take aim." he spoke clearly and their phalanx began to make a steady pace away from the creatures. "Steady...lay them low!" he gave his order and immediately, a barrage of blaster fire erupted toward the creatures. The clones expertly rotated in position, the two squads pairing their volleys perfectly. It had been quite a while since Korwin last used his weapon of choice in a real combat situation. The familiar sound of the lightsaber's blade being switched on and it's glow was both comforting and exhilirating. He breathed out and stretched his senses out to his men, instilling in them the calm and fluidity they needed to get through this. A subtle intervention by means of the Force, but one he was all-too skilled in.
Five of the giant arachnids were blown away or mowed down in the first two volleys, precision shots by the twi'lek lieutenant laying low a sixth. One of the beasts had managed to approach their lines, avoiding the brunt of the onslaught, it lunged toward a clone. Korwin made his own move, pushing himself forward like an expert fencer, whirling the radiant blade in practiced movements and slicing through one, two, then three of its appendages. It two met its end at the hands of the troopers.
The creatures were more intelligent than their appearance would hint at. Weaving over and between the tangled roots and bodies of the Wroshyr trees, the remaining spiders circled around the front of the phalanx from both sides. More resilient as well, as two of those who met the volleys and survived hauled their bodies forward with animalistic fervor.
"We've time before they reach our flanks, focus your fire on the far one!" Korwin shouted over his shoulder. "Smuggler, think you can divert some of their attention from me?" He did not wait for an answer, however as he immediately dashed forward.
The jedi jumped, using the force to propel himself closer to one of the beasts, it was in moments such as this that his usually leisurely and relaxed posture seemed to melt away to reveal a spontaneous and swift-acting combatant. As the spider's many eyes became trained on him, he assumed his favored stance of the Djem So form, abstractly imagining that the spider's legs, adorned with bladed protrusions, were blades being swung toward him. And just as in his training room, he parried, effectively slicing off one limb and making a counter-attacking motion to slice another and then a third appendage, all the while surrounded by deadly bolts. Rolling aside to allow his lieutenant to bring down enough shots to finish the creature, he evaded the explosion wrought by one of his heavy-weapons teams as their e-web made short work of the other approaching spider.
The time they had to retaliate to the flanking spiders was less than he anticipated, as the jedi stood to see one of his regular troopers struggling and shouting as he fumbled to push himself away from the spider that had lunged him and imbedded its mandibles into his leg. He extended his hand, focusing on the attacking spider, using the force to push it away. It staggered back, giving him enough time to act.
"Bring down the other one!" Korwin commanded as he propelled himself forward once again. He landed gracefully and immediately began whirling the lightsaber in a defensive manner, battering away and injuring the creatures' limbs as it attempted to attack him, before driving his weapon between its bloody mandibles, twisting to rend and burn through its flesh. With a hideous shudder, the spider fell in a heap before him. Switching off the saber, he turns about to hear the downed trooper's pained groan. Knowing the man is alive, he turns his attention to the rest of his men, only to see one of the e-web team that took down a spider before be mauled and slammed into the forest floor, before the assailing creature was brought down by blaster fire.
The last shot echoed through the woods, followed by an eery, still silence. The adrenaline began to subside as it dawned on Korwin that the conflict was over. He helped the wounded trooper to his feet, helping him walk over to the others. To his dismay, one of the e-web team members was dead.
"See to him." Korwin said and let the wounded soldier into the care of his teammates, while he approached the corpse. He inspected the clone's wounds and found a disturbing liquid that was certainly not blood.
"The spiders were poisonous." he glanced over his shoulder to the wounded trooper "Will he pull through?"
One of the others spoke up as he bandaged his comrade's wounds "It's just a flesh-wound sir, Josik got lucky, no venom in the wound."
The jedi exhaled, relieved at the news.
"Kor, we ought to get moving before any more of these come crawling." Vizal spoke in a hushed tone as her eyes darted around uneasily.
Releasing a sigh, he separated the trooper from his amunition and dragged his corpse into a nearby cluster of roots, hiding his body between them. He spent little less than a minute simply standing over the body, simply looking at it.
"Move out." he finally said, once again assuming his position in the phalanx, re-arranged to compensate for the missing trooper. At a faster pace now, hoping to avoid further confrontations.
Korwin counted out two kilometers, but had lost track of time in the dark. He could sense various other creatures watching them as they traveled. They had to redirect once to move about a barrier of roots interlocked with each other. They reached a clearing, but were faced with another barrier. A pack of katarn beasts, feasting on their prey of tachs. Withholding a cuss on the tip of his tongue, the jedi searched for a way around the clearing, all for naught, however.
"Any suggestions?" he inquired, looking over his squad. "Anyone happen to know this or that about katarn?"
A period of silence ensued.
"It's a bad idea to try and brush their teeth." Vizal replied in a dry tone.
Sighing, the jedi retreated in thought for a long moment, before reaching for a rock and weighing it in his hand.
"This might work..." he muttered to himself. In a sharp motion, he flung the stone, reaching out further to steer it with the force...or he would have, had a small lizard not decided to make use of his head as a stepping stone. With his concentration broken, the stone landed squarely on the head of a katarn beast. Incidentally, the largest of the pack. The beast let out a roar, it and four of the other katarns beginning to approach the team's position.
The cuss that was on the tip of his tongue found its way out.
"Spast." the jedi seethes "Ready weapons." he says over his shoulder, his men moving into two lines, the regular troopers standing and the e-web teams crouched in front of them. "Fire on my mark."
With one final roar, the large katarn rushes forward, apparently having spotted them and the four that crept behind it following suit, their bulky, muscular bodies accelerating for a deadly impact.
"Bring them down." Korwin uttered and activated his saber, a volley of rockets and blaster fire bursting forth.
A rocket made direct impact with the massive katarn, instantly blowing half of its body into a charred mass and flinging it aside. Concentrated fire brought down a second beast, making it tumble limply from the momentum. A third, was able to avoid most of the projectiles, only to be met with the seething blade of the jedi's saber, its head sliced clean off in one fluid motion.
Two beasts remain, miraculously avoiding the barrage. Proving too fast to be shot down, the beasts had pinned two of his clones, pounding and snapping at them with their monstrous jaws.
Withholding more cusses, the jedi leaps toward the nearest katarn, spinning in a graceful, acrobatic fashion and almost instinctively managing to reach out toward the second katarn to push it away with the force, sending it tumbling away from the soldier it'd been pounding at. As he landed, the bloodied maw of the other predator turned its attention to him. In a deadly, yet graceful motion, Korwin brought the blade down upon its head, slicing deep into the animal's flesh, before it dropped to the side. The tortured groans of the other katarn brought him relief and as the firing ended, silence overcame the scene once more.
"It's over." he muttered almost reverently as he knelt over his soldier. The beast had ripped into the flexible mesh around the clone's neck. Even if it hadn't penetrated it, his throat would've been crushed. Korwin closed his eyes, bringing a hand up to his face, but did not remain still for long. With another body hidden among the vegetation, the warrior turned his attention to the other wounded trooper, who was staggering to his feet.
"Can you stand, soldier?"
"Fripping thing popped a rib. Just a few bruises other than that. They wont slow me down. Is...Desik..?" the question hung on the soldier's lips.
Korwin simply shook his head with a frown. "I set aside his weapon and ammo, gather those, we're moving out before all these bodies draw the attention of something bigger."
They subverted the one katarn that had ignored them, simply leaving it to feast on the tachs as it made no aggressive move toward them.
As they made progress toward the crash site, a palpable feeling of unease seemed to well up in Korwin's mind. A dark presence, evil and ancient, seeping into the very soil of Kashyyk and the roots of its trees. It was wild and filled with rage, unlike any sentient wielder of the Force.
"What's wrong, Kor?" the twi'lek muttered to him as they walked in formation.
"I feel...something, ahead. We're close, but...I have a bad feeling about what we're about to face."
"Here's hoping it's just something you ate."
The sound of gunfire of various calibers soon came into earshot and the team quickened its pace to close the distance. Maddenned roars of a monstrous beast soon echoed outward their destination. The sense of trepidation among the party grew in intensity. Soon, they came upon a striking scene. The slavers' ship, downed amidst the roots of the wroshyr, but still intact, surrounded by nearly one and a half dozen trandoshans, arranged in a perimeter. The most striking image in this scene was the creature the slavers seemed to be fending off.
It was large, standing at least twice or more times tall as any man, its form was thick and muscular, with thick plates covering its skin. It was akin to a rancor and yet, there was something endlessly sinister that emanated from it that seemed to defy anything natural. It was approaching the trandoshans' perimeter, seemingly not too fazed by the pulses of fire, only increasingly angered.
Korwin was certain, that what he faced here was in fact, a dark-side monster. He took several calming breaths, before turning to his men.
"I want a wide semi-circle around the beast and lizards, try not to draw attention to yourselves." With that, he rushed ahead, lightsaber activated with its characteristic "fzzt" and a vibroknife clutched in his other hand. He sprinted toward the back of the creature as it was still focused on the slavers. The jedi leapt, his grip on both weapons reversed, propelling himself forward and high his heart pounded and adrenaline once more sharpened his senses, giving him a sensation of being suspended in the air for but an instant, before he made contact with the monster, a terentatek's back. He brought down both the saber and the vibroknife into its body, the saber penetrated its thick hide, giving him the leverage he needed. His latter weapon, however, merely scraped at the surface. Forsaking the vibroknife, Korwin merely found his grip and attempted to lodge the saber's blade deeper.
The scene around the jedi becomes a blur as bolts and other projectiles fly through the air, seemingly aimed chaotically. Straining his body, the warrior finally manages to drive his sword deep into the terentatek's flesh, sending the creature into a rage-induced charge at the trandoshans' perimeter. He could hear hissing and the tearing of flesh, coupled with shots from numerous weapons. Feeling the heat of bolts flying about him, the jedi steeled his resolve and extended his senses to the force, weaving it about himself as a keen barrier, not stopping the bolts, but merely redirecting them away from himself in a wide arc. Korwin leaned down closer to hug the terentatek's form for more stability, unintentionally shouting into the comlink secured in his gauntlet.
"Forget subtlety, heavy weapons on the beast's legs!"
Meanwhile, he twisted the blade of his lightsaber, driving it almost as far as the hilt, with a sickening scream, the terentatek shook it's body chaotically, ichor streaming from its maw, in an attempt to throw its attacker off, to little avail.
The following moment would remain in Korwin's memory in a haze as he directed and redirected his men, searching to still their minds in the chaos through the Force. As more and more trandoshans fell, however, he began to assume more control over the situation and clarity overcame him.
Korwin twisted the lightsaber one last time, before leaping off the terentatek's back as it attempted to roll over on its back to crush him, landing safely aside. The beast quickly rose again, roaring and sputtering its blood as its maddened stare found the jedi, immediately rushing toward him.
Overcoming the terrifying emanations of this enraged dark-side entity, Korwin prepared to avoid it.
"Weapons trained on it, men." he spoke into his comlink, he intended to finish this cleanly.
He counted out the broad strides it took toward him, easily dashing to the side of the gargantuan fist meant to crush him, then leaping back in a feat of acrobatic finesse away from the fangs ment to rend through him. At that instant, his men carried out his next order with deadly precision.
"Light it up!" he'd shouted into his comlink and soon after, two missles made contact, one into the beast's leg, ripping through muscle and bone and as it opened its mouth to roar in anguish, a second imbedded itself into its maw, detonating and instantly ending its life.
As its body fell limply on the bloodied ground, Korwin came face to face with another enraged being, a trandoshan with a concussive rifle brought to bear squarely on him. An instant later, however, the slaver too, fell dead, gunned down by Vizal along with the rest of his crew, all killed in the firefight that had ensued.
"Re..." Korwin paused for a moment, peering about in expectation of more danger "Regroup at the ship."
They had gathered around the ship's sealed airlock. Korwin leaned against it as his troops came carrying two others. One dead, the other with a broken arm.
"Llar took a direct concussive blast, died on the spot." one of the troopers said somberly, shaking his head "Jerro just has a broken arm, but it looks serious, the wound's exposed, we should get him to sick-bay as soon as possible."
The weary warrior heaved a heavy sigh, he despised seeing his men wounded, even more so he blamed himself for their deaths. The need to aid his wounded comrade arose, seemingly to compensate for his failiure to defend the other.
At that instant, Korwin felt an incomprehensible tug in his mind. As he approached the wounded soldier, his eyes were locked on his wound. He reached out, gripping his arm firmly.
"Sir..?" one of the troopers hesitantly started.
With a swift motion and a snapping sound, Korwin pushed the bone back into place, eliciting a muffled groan from the soldier called Jerro. Placing his hand over the spot the bone had fractured, Korwin closed his eyes and let his senses free to this newfound lead in the Force. It unraveled before his eyes in a manner only a force-sensitive could comprehend. Through focus and effort, he channeled the Force into the wound, feeling it mend at a rate impossible even to genetically modifies soldiers like the clones.
As he pulled away, the trooper spent a great deal of time looking at his arm in awe, testily moving it.
"Don't...ask me how I did that." the jedi blurted out and instead turned about, approaching the airlock again, just as his smuggler lieutenant finished breaching it.
The pair entered the ship's holding cell area. Within, three wookies met them with wary glares, unsure how to react, whereas the zygerrian females cowered.
Korwin raised his hands in a non-threatening manner.
"Worry not, you shall not come to harm from us." he started, approaching "I am Korwin Sanscred, my crew and I have gone to great pains to find you...and liberate you. We're here to bring you home."
The slaves stared at him in disbelief, until it was replaced by doubt and later, by a faint sensation of relief.
"Vizal, remove their bonds, we're moving out as soon as possible."
The Balance Guardian, Meditation Chamber
The trip back to the settlement was uneventful, but Korwin had not lingered to hear more of the gratitude of the wookies, merely wishing them well as he departed. On the ship, he'd left the zygerrians into the safe custody of his men, promising them safe passage home. He'd retreated to his meditation chamber soon after to make sense of the whole encounter and this newfound insight into the Force.
He sat at the plain platform in the room, illuminated now in a calming, light blueish-green hue. He heard the mechanical door open behind him and a familiar presence enter.
"I'm going to be fine, if that's what you're going to ask me." he said, not turning back or opening his eyes.
"Sure, but I don't get you, jedi." the twi'lek started "Sure..I've...come to like this crew and all, but they're clones, I can only tell them apart from the name tags. You're taking their deaths very hard, I can tell, but I can't figure out why."
A tense silence overcame the room.
"I have to look at the tags to tell them apart sometimes, too, Vizal." came the response of a tired man "But they're not just clones. When they were "grown" into men, they were assigned numbers. Eventually, they chose their own names, made their own personalities. It's..just as simple as that, really, they're not just soldiers."
With that, he glanced over his shoulder.
"It might seem silly, but they're not just my subordinates. They're my brothers, my kin. The only family I have left."
"I think I understand. I'll uh..leave you to stare at the wall or whatnot. Uh...Lorreck's already set a course for Zygerria."
"Did he set up a course through an extra proxy-system?"
"The navs kinda do it on their own by now."
The jedi chuckled, he would have to be content with the outcome, despite his losses. It could've been much worse, he'd tell himself. As his lieutenant left the chamber, he drifted off into his meditation.
And that is the mother of all posts, gawd that took a while to write. >.>
Anyway - Summary:
1. Came to Kashyyk in search of slavers.
2. Found wookie village.
3. Lot of roundabout trips.
4. Got led to a lift into the Shadowlands.
5. Fought through the Shadowlands' beasts, a terentatek and 17 trandoshans to reach the slavers' damaged ship, freed wookie and zygerrian slaves. (Losing 2 regular clones and 1 heavy weapons trooper in the process)
7. Learned Force Heal by intuition.
8. (On the way to) Profit (15 sp)