Star Wars: Division

Chapter 8

The howl of the blizzard swallowed the engines of the Starfighter. Thick, wild flurries of snow blotted out the red glow of its sublight engines as it soared through the grey sky of Harswee with ease. The planet's only surface was glacial ice with the rest consumed with an ocean on the brink of freezing over. Only one settlement existed on the surface, the remote prison outpost, Holmuroth. The Starfighter descended to the icy surface, hovering low as it continued to the crack of light from the opening hanger doors. Four turbo-laser turrets tracked the ships trajectory as it entered the hanger. The doors were quickly shut to shield all inside from the planet's storming blizzard. Five Mandalorians approached the ship, each with their weapons within their grasp. The boarding ramp of the Starfighter lowered and a Mandalorian with leather wrapped lekku stepped out of the ship. Gerren R'hill led a stretcher that hovered off the floor. Strapped to it was a man with a heavy build and long black hair. One of the five Mandalorians approached Gerren, holstering his blaster pistol. His armor plating was pale green adorned over a grey flight suit. On his right shoulder was their clan sigil, the symbol of Holmuroth. The entire clan was dedicated to the security of the Mandalorian prison.

"R'hill?" he inquired.

"Gerren R'hill," the Twi'lek Mandalorian replied. "Dropping off, Mand'alor's orders." The clan leader looked over Gerren's shoulder at the man strapped down to the stretcher.

"You sedated him?" he inquired.

"Only way to shut him up, should wear off in a few minutes."

"We'll take him from here," the clan leader said. Gerren took a step, standing between him and the stretcher.

"Mand'alor wants me to see him through," the Twi'lek said stiffly. The leader in green armor paused for a moment in thought before nodding and turning around, leading Gerren with the stretcher across the hanger floor. The leader nodded to another of the guards, a woman clad in red plating. She nodded back and lowered her own blaster rifle, joining the rest of the procession to the door in the far wall.

"Are you Mereel's new go-for?" she asked Gerren.

"Mand'alor entrusts me at times to do his will, and I carry out gladly. The pay is just bonus," he replied. Though he'd executed a number of operations for Jaster, this was only his second to Holmuroth, though the first time, he never left the ship. He was one of the handful under the Mand'alor's banner that was privy to the prison's existence. Jaster Mereel seemed content with its effectiveness but the Twi'lek was far less trusting. "Word is this is the most secure prison in Mando space," Gerren said.

"Having doubts?" the green clad Mandalorian retorted.

"Just seeing the job through," Gerren said.

"Fair enough. Follow, I'll put your mind to ease," he beckoned.

"Knox, he's an aruetil," hissed the woman in red plating.

"He's on the Mand'alor's orders, Yuri," Knox said then refocused on Gerren. "See those shutters up there?" Gerren followed Knox's pointed finger to the shutters situated high up on the walls. "Anyone we don't like step inside here, we vent Cryseefa gas, corrosive and poisonous. Eats through Beskar in a single minute." Knox led the procession to a cross-closing hatch that slowly slid open. "These blast doors are calibrated to open at a slow pace but close using compression bursts." As the last of the procession stepped into the hall, the halves of the door slammed shut with a hiss. Gerren looked back at the thick metal blast doors, now sealed in a split second. "Four way directional surveillance camera feeds installed in every room and hall way, except for the residential barracks, of course," Knox grunted said with a chuckle. Gerren frowned from behind his helmet.

"Residential barracks?" he inquired.

"Our homes," Yuri said. The second set of blast doors slowly split and crept open. They all stepped through into a circular chamber.

"You share beds with the prisoners?" Gerren chuckled.

"The cell blocks are on the lower level," Knox explained. "We reside up here on the surface level." He pointed across the room to the only other set of doors in the circular room. One of the guards, a rather short Mandalorian in orange detailed plating approached the stretcher with a scanning tool in his hand. As the tool skimmed inches above the stretcher, a red beam searched the captive prisoner's dormant body. All armor plating was removed from the prisoner, including the shin, knee and thigh plates bolted to the legs of the flight suit, leaving only torn holes in the dark grey fabric. After tracing the man's entire form, the guard backed away from the stretcher.

"He's clear, Buir," the guard reported in a young voice. Gerren's brow furled in surprise. The guard had to be no older than sixteen.

"Kandosii, adi'ka," Knox said with a nod.

"Your son?" Gerren asked curiously.

"We're all family here," Knox explained. "My Father in-law was Warden before me, and someday, either my son or daughter will take over." Knox then directed the assembly to step onto a disc platform in the center of the room. GERREN led the stretcher onto the platform. The Warden keyed his comlink in his helmet.

"Sa'jek, activate the lift." The dull quiet in the room was suddenly swallowed by a whirring sound. Gently, the platform lowered, with an echoing moan as they descended down a tube like hole. Lights went by slowly in the dark wall of the elevator shaft.

"How far down," Gerren inquired in a marveled tone.

"A mere fifteen yards," the warden replied. "You aint claustrophobic are you?" Knox asked. Gerren didn't reply, only stared him down from behind his helmet. Finally, the lift emerged into open space. The room was tight and fairly empty except for the air circulation tubes that ran along the plain, white walls. "Behind you there is the security hub for the prison blocks," Knox explained. "And that hall there branches into three individual cell blocks." He led Gerren and the other guards down to the passage way, passing through another set of specially calibrated blast doors. Coming to a three way split, Knox led them down the right hand passage. After a final set of blast doors, they came to the cell block. Gerren saw ten large metal boxes the size of cargo containers hauled in the massive holds of cargo freighters. Five were lined along opposite walls and branching out to the tops of each of them was a system of metal walkways all by a central path with a staircase. Hooked to each solid metal cell was a heating life support system with heating and ventilation.

"Impressive," Gerren said. "How many prisoners have you got here?" Knox looked over his shoulder as he led them up the staircase to the junction of walkways.

"Including your man, seventeen."

"That's actually a record," Yuri mused.

"Really?" Gerren scoffed in disbelief. "How's that?"

"Mereel's the first Mand'alor in a long time that takes prisoners," Knox replied. The warden then stopped at cell twenty seven, situated to the right near the back of the block.

"Sa'jek, activate cell twenty seven," he ordered over his com. After a moment, Gerren heard the hum of machinery coming to life then the hatch in the roof of the cell slid open. The Twi'lek looked down into the cold, dark hole. That was all the prison had to offer, lighting strips climbed up the corners of the walls, providing a red glow. No bed or chair of any kind was down inside the solid metal cell. One restraint at a time, the prisoner was released from the stretcher. His eyes were still closed but as he was lifted off the stretcher, his mouth cracked open and an unintelligible slur slipped free.

"He's still out," the young Mandalorian in orange grunted as he hefted the large frame of the prisoner. On the other side of the prisoner was a larger built Mandalorian adorning brown armor.

"Don't worry, the fall will wake him," he mused. Gerren watched as the two Mandalorians dragged Tor Viszla's limp body to the edge of the open hatch then let him go. As he dropped into the darkness, Viszla yelped, suddenly fully alert. He crashed to the hard floor surface with a grunt. Gerren heard the enraged Mandalorian stirring below as Knox ordered for the hatch to be closed. Instantly, the lock engaged and the crazed screams below were shut away. Gerren couldn't help but stare at the locked hatch.

"Well that's that," Knox said.

"Don't you even want to know who he is?" the Twi'lek asked, finally looking away from the sealed cell.

"We make it a point not to," Knox replied stiffly as he turned away and bid Gerren to follow him back down the central walkway. "Men aren't brought here to be recognized, they're brought here to be forgotten."

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