Dead Squad Chronicles: Season Two

Trapped Part 5

Storm bound

YG-4210 freighter “Trail-breaker”

Hoth System

Hoth

Lnteel glacier

The hull of the battered and bruised converted freighter rattled loudly as the storm continued to tear across the surface of the glacier beyond, gusting winds of a hundred and fifty miles per hour hammering against the small freighters bulkheads. Every now and then, an ominous cracking sound would radiate up from the floor, carried by the landing struts from the ice sheet beneath. The grunting cries of a pack of migrating Tauntauns carried across the wind, shattered by the echoing howl of a hunting Wampa.

Inside the ship, the muted sounds of the icy desert were the least of their worries.

Jenna Nova was getting impatient. For nearly fifteen hours now, she had been stuck inside the cramped confines of the galley, blocking the door and keeping one eye, and a steady blaster, on her three prisoners.

Kyr’am Galaar, the bounty hunter she had been sent to capture, sat quietly in the corner of the galley, his elbows resting on his knees and his fingers meshed together in front of his face. His helmet was sitting on the table next to him, and his weapons - blasters at least - were safely locked away in a storage cupboard above Jenna’s seat. Without his helmet, Jenna could see his face, and it seemed to be getting older by the minute. He was staring blankly at the bulkhead ahead of him, his eyes rimmed by a halo of red, and tears threatening to fall from the edges of his bloodshot eyes. Every now and then his eyes would dart up to the chrono display on the comms controls beside the door, and a look of fear and rage would flicker across his greying features.

The others in the room under her ‘supervision’ were an injured Sullustan male who seemed to have suffered a minor blast to his shoulder, and his growling pet who lay at its masters feet, never once moving its eyes away from Jenna.

This was not how the plan had meant to pan out.

Her own shuttle was somewhere far to the west, probably buried many hours ago by the falling snow. Not that it mattered. She had ‘borrowed’ it from a Toydarian who had fallen asleep, and she had never intended to return in it. The idea had been simple. Follow Kyr’am until an opportunity presented itself, and then snatch him and his ship and return to her employer. The first part had gone fairly smoothly. He had been acceptably distracted by the gun fight with the other smugglers and the Jedi, and she had been able to sneak aboard his ship undetected.

The astromech had proved invaluable in playing its part, even if it was oblivious to the role it played. The pulse beacon she had implanted in its communications array had lead her across the outer rim to this frozen wasteland, and the automatic override she had included had enabled her to shut the droid down before it had been able to reveal her presence.

All she then had to do was wait. And when Kyr’am returned to the ship, she got the drop on him. What she hadn’t expected was to find the Sullustan and its pet being dragged along for the ride, but that wasn’t her biggest problem. The storm had grown stronger, and was preventing them from taking off.

“Well, this is cosy,” the Sullustan said, forcing conversation. Kyr’am did not look up, his eyes still locked on the far wall. Jenna had seen the look on many beings before, and it was the look of failing hope. “Reminds me of the holidays with the ex-wife...” He began to say, but Jenna’s temper had reached its limit. The Sullustan had not stopped talking for what felt like hours.

“Don’t you ever shut up?” She barked angrily. The Sullustan just looked up at her and shrugged.

“Just not a big fan of awkward silences,” he said casually, letting his eyes drop to the creature at his feet and gently stroking it behind its ear. Jenna watched as the creature half closed its eyes, enjoying the attention, but it never once took its eyes off her.

“Well get used to it,” she growled angrily. “As soon as this storm passes, we’re dusting off.”

“No,” whispered Kyr’am. Jenna glanced back at him. He had not moved, but his whole posture seemed to have hardened.

“What?” She snapped.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Kyr’am repeated.

“You really think you have any say in this?” Jenna laughed. “I’ve got a pile of credits waiting for me when I drop your sorry behind off on Nal Hutta.”

“I bet there is,” Kyr’am hissed sourly.

“You really got Soruu wound up,” Jenna said, reclining in her seat but never once letting the blaster drop.

“You could say that,” Kyr’am laughed miserably.

“So what did you do?” Jenna asked, genuinely interested. Usually she did not care what reasons there were behind contracts, but she had worked for Soruu for over three years, and she had never seen him as angry as when he had found out that Kyr’am was still alive - contrary to the reports being spread by a gloating Hydra-Corp thug. Kyr’am had done something to make Soruu see it as a personal affront, and he had ordered his capture, and he had insisted on him being alive.

“Wait a second. You mean you don’t know why you’re hunting him?” The Sullustan said in disbelief.

“Not really,” Jenna replied with a shrug. “A job’s a job. But as we have some time to kill before the storm settles, I thought it would be nice for a trip down memory lane. You were the one who wanted to talk!”

The Sullustan looked surreptitiously across at Kyr’am and shuffled uncomfortably. Were they planning something?

Another loud rumble rippled through the bottom of the ship, this one louder than any of the others they had heard so far. The ship shuddered lightly as the ground beneath them groaned. She noticed the Sullustan’s ears twitch lightly. His eyes half closed and he seemed to be struggling to listen.

“What was that?” She hissed, turning to glare at the alien. His eyes opened quickly and he shrugged. Composing himself, he shook his head and pulled a non-committal face.

“Nothing,” he said a little too quickly. Kyr’am seemed to pick up on the comment and looked up at the Sullustan, his eyes widening in what looked like hope.

“Do you really think I’m that stupid?” Jenna growled, worried she may be losing control of the situation. “Tell me what you just heard.”

“It was nothing,” the Sullustan repeated. “Just a section of the glacier collapsing. About two hundred meters to the south.”

He looked across at Kyr’am and seemed to give him a sorry smile. Kyr’am looked away from him and refocused his attention on the bulkhead. The creature at the Sullustan’s feet picked up on its masters feelings. Shuffling closer, it pressed its flank against his leg and rested its jaw on his knee, whimpering lightly.

“Maybe you’re right. I should shut up,” the Sullustan announced in an all-too-casual way. “Actually, I’m beginning to like the peace and quiet.”

“Well don’t get used to it,” Jenna said, forcing a smile, rising from her seat and moving to the door. Her face was still hidden beneath her helmet, but she knew her voice would betrayed her grin and give her an air of confidence. If she could convince them that everything was under control, she would be able to keep them in line. “It’s plenty noisy where we’re going.”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Kyr’am growled once more. His fists were clenched tighter, and his jaw was twitching as he hissed is words out through gritted teeth. “Not without him.”

“Without who?” Jenna said, taking a step further into the galley and away from the door, somehow drawn in by his silent voice.

“Without me,” a voice hissed from behind her. Jenna realised her mistake a fraction of a second too late. Spinning around sharply, she found herself face to face with the white armoured Mandalorian she had fought on Nar Shaddaa. Her hand was already lifting her blaster towards him when she felt a sharp stabbing pain rip through her stomach.

She inhaled sharply and let out a breathless gasp before a searing pain shot through her whole body and she felt every muscle convulse as pulses of static energy coursed through her veins. The shock staff dug deeper into her abdomen, wave after wave of energy flowing through her, and the world around her began to darken from the edges of her eyes. She felt herself falling backwards, and the darkness wrapped itself around her.

Soundlessly, she slipped into unconsciousness.


Kyr’am stood quickly, startled by the sudden burst of motion. His hands had dropped automatically to the holsters on his thighs, and found them to still be empty. He stared down at the now limp body of the green armoured Mandalorian woman, watching her twitch lightly as the last few remaining pulses of energy dissipated across her plates. It had all happened so fast that he had not had time to take it all in. Standing in the doorway, the shock staff still gripped in his hand, was Taler.

Taler seemed to glare down at the woman lying at his feet, and even through the visor, Kyr’am thought he could see a glimmer of recognition in his body language. Did Taler know this woman?

His mind took in everything at once, but seemed to gloss over the smaller details. There, in front of him was the son he had thought he had lost. He felt his heart swell with relief and pride. For what felt like hours, he just drank in his presence with his eyes, letting his mind believe that he was really back. But as the seconds grew longer, he felt his eyes widen as he realised the state his son was in.

Taler’s armour was scratched and scuffed, the recently acquired armour showing signs of a battle that had been rough. The Kama was ripped and torn, and as Kyr’am swept his eyes up, he saw the dried blood that stained his son’s hands. The mechanical arm that had replaced the one he lost on Geonosis was what gave him the greatest pain. The gauntlet that would have protected it was missing, and the synthetic flesh that covered the cybernetic armature was torn and ripped. His eyes snapped towards his son’s face, hidden beneath the red visor, and he staggered back in shock.

Across the visor, three deep cuts stretched down from above the left eye to the right side cheek, revealing the bare metal beneath. It was shocking. Beskar was one of the strongest metals in the galaxy, even capable of withstanding a lightsabre stroke - for a time at least. And yet something he been powerful enough to slice clean through it, leaving gouges across the visor itself.

Kyr’am stood breathless for a moment, unable to make his mouth work. It remained stubbornly silent, hanging open in a look of shock and disbelief. Through everything that had happened, the fall from the glacier, the encounter that had scared his armour, and the storm that raged outside the ship, Taler had been able to find his way back. Pride rose up from his heart.

Tal’ika," he said warmly. “I’m so glad you’re back. Are you oka...?”

“I’m fine,” Taler cut him off sharply, his visor snapping up, away from the unconscious body on the floor, and now glaring across the galley towards Kyr’am. His voice was harsh and cold, and Kyr’am could feel the anger that still bubbled inside him.

It was even worse than before. Kyr’am knew he had to try and explain what had happened with the cargo, and why he had not told him what they were hauling, and for who.

“Son,” he said softly, taking a tentative step towards Taler. “About what happened on the glacier...”

“Don’t,” Taler growled. “Just don’t.”

“But I want you to understand...,” Kyr’am tried to speak, but Taler took two giant paces towards him, tearing his helmet from his head and tossing it aside, stopping barely an inch from Kyr’am’s face.

“You want me to understand why you lied to me?” Taler barked. “You want me to understand why you were shipping weapons for the separatists? Weapons that will be used to kill more clones? To kill my brothers?” Taler’s eyes were quivering with rage, burning like the fiery rivers of Mustafa. Tears were barely clinging to the corners of his eyes, his face pale, and looking suddenly much older than his twenty accelerated years.

“I was doing this for us,” Kyr’am tried to explain. Taler huffed out a breath of derision. Kyr’am continued, trying to make Taler see. “By doing this one job, Relnar would get us the slicer so we could hack the data I got from Prazon Kexx.”

“And then what?” Taler yelled. “Bring down the whole organization? Make them pay for all the crime they have committed? Avenge all the lives they have taken? Or just get revenge for what he did to YOU?”

Kyr’am stood for a moment in silence, unable to speak. He knew the answer, and it was not the one he had hoped for.

“Don’t pretend you were doing this for US,” Taler continued, poking a finger accusingly against Kyr’am’s armoured chest. “You don’t care what happens to me. I’m nothing but a tool, a slave. I do the running and the lifting. That’s what I was made for, wasn’t it? Bred to be a target. That’s all I am to you... a wet droid.” The tears fell freely from Taler’s eyes now, his fists quivering down by his side. Kyr’am felt his own heart breaking for the second time today.

“Son...”

“Don’t call me that,” Taler spat back. “The galaxy is full of people claiming to do the right thing. But when it comes down to it, you’re all selfish, all just out for yourselves. The republic, the separatists, the Jedi... even you.” Taler glared at Kyr’am, searching his face for anything that might change his mind. He did not find it. “I’ve lost everything... No, I didn’t lose it. To lose something means it was an accident. It was taken from me. Taken away by people who were so arrogant as to think they knew what was best. My childhood. My freedom. My brothers. My trust,” he added pointedly, his eyes burning into Kyr’am’s.

Kyr’am remained silent. There was nothing he could say to defend himself.

Taler’s shoulders suddenly sagged as though all the fight had left him, and he turned and walked back towards the door.

Kyr’am tried to call out to him, his mind and heart screaming inside him for Taler to stop and turn to face him again, to give him a chance to defend himself and tell him that what he thought was wrong. But he knew that it wasn’t. He had done so many things in his life, and some had been selfless, defending the weak and the powerless. But a few acts of kindness could not wipe the slate clean, and there were other things he had done that not even himself could forgive. How could he expect Taler to forgive him if he could not forgive himself?

Taler was almost out the door when another voice cut the silence.

“What happened out there?” Juel asked. Taler stopped in his tracks. Kyr’am had almost forgotten that the Sullustan had even been in the room. “Where’s the Jedi?”

Taler looked back over his shoulder.

“Don’t worry about him,” he growled. His hand unhooked something from his belt and he placed it on the work surface beside the door. It was the Jedi’s lightsabre. “He is now one with the force.”

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