Monday, May 14, 2007

Chapter Five

Cap sat on the edge of his crippled LAAT and watched the skyline above Miner’s Rest as the last remnants of the impromptu dust storm died down. His eyes were fixed, waiting for the bright blue flash of atmosphere thrusters that would surely signify his quarry was escaping. Behind him, his men stood, waiting, wondering what their next order would be.
’32 yelled out from his seat in the cockpit; he hadn’t moved since their enforced landing.
“Captain! Transmission from Command.”
The words broke Cap’s mesmeric stare and he slid out to plant both feet on the orange dirt.
“Patch it.”
His helmet link burst into life and he listened to the orders as they were concisely and tersely relayed to him, nodding his head almost imperceptibly as he listened. Twenty seconds later he turned to his squad; his face was expressionless.
“Break out the swoops, we’ve been told to delay them.”
As Cap’s men hustled to follow his order, he contemplated the order that he had withheld. High Command had ordered that any Jedi they found was to be taken alive. As he watched the rear of the gunship open like the giant maw of an Aihwa and then spew its contents onto the ground, he then considered what High Command hadn’t said.

They had told him to take the Jedi alive, but not the Ashes.

“Smoke. You want to explain to me why we’re still on the ground?”
Calz paced to the front of the cruiser and sat in the navigator seat next to his pilot. Carud casually depressed several buttons on the immense console as he answered.
“Well, Sarge. I’m ready to go, but nobody notified the port authorities.” He nodded at something outside the view screen. “If those docking clamps remain in place we’ll be sitting here watching the rest of this death trap break orbit without us.”
Calz peered out of the window. He growled out of the corner of his mouth.
Peko, why are we still clamped in this pit?”
The scout trooper hopped up onto the rusting plateau of the flight deck and joined his sergeant, following his gaze.
“They were deactivated, Sarge, I swear.”
“Well, they appear to be reactivated.” Calz muttered something unsavory involving Banthas and Hutts, and then spun around to face the rest of the group. “Rece, get out there and slice those controls for good!”
“On it, sir!”
As Rece made his way to the central ramp, Scarp suddenly rose and followed him out.
“I’ll watch his back,” he murmured as he followed the trooper into the heart of the ship.
“You do that,” said Calz quietly, turning his attention back to the view screen, and the twenty tons of plasti-steel that held their getaway craft in place.

Digger stood alone at the back of the flight cabin, watching his sergeant seethe, looking for something to keep himself busy with. The flight deck appeared to be cobbled together just like the rest of the ship, something he had noticed as they passed through dim corridors from the storage bay to the bow, and he scanned the cabin, trying to identify where each piece of the puzzle was from. It was pretty obvious that this monstrosity was the offspring of the Corellian Engineering Corporation but, like some secretly birthed abomination, it had been hidden from public view for many years. A precursor to the YT-class freighters CEC built their name upon, this ship had been refitted so many times that it now resembled an abstract sculpture. The seats were definitely Corellian, their Dire-cat hide coverings frayed and nearing retirement. The panel configurations were uniquely Corellian also, but that was where the familiarity ended. Digger could see Nubian support struts hastily welded to the bare inner fuselage, their superior strength disguised by the slenderness of their design. The thick pipelines that ran overhead supplying life support to the cabin reminded him of the interior of a Neimoidian sheathipede class shuttle, and upon closer inspection he could see several delicately engraved connector rings; the unmistakably ostentatious signature of their previous owners. Other close inspections revealed Rendili StarDrive-built quad turret controls and a shielding system that looked so practical, so non-aesthetically pleasing, that it could only have been dreamed up by the calculating minds of Cygnus Spaceworks. Digger marveled at the manner in which these spare parts had been introduced to each other, and now considered themselves part of one big, happy family.
He wanted to meet the ship’s engineer, and shake his hand.

Lig sat cross-legged on the floor of the cramped med room as Virus hoisted Rev onto one of the two beds, brushing aside various tubes and drip lines that hung from the blistered ceiling like grapple vines. Soolad and Janstorr had stayed with Master Pel in the storage bay, now a temporary docking bay for the Ashes’ damaged gunship. They had said they wanted to help him reconfigure the crates and barrels, to make more room. Lig couldn’t help wondering if they were vying for master Pel’s attention, each youngling hoping he would devote his time to them, as Master Scarp did with Lig.
She watched as Virus plugged a thick cable into Rev’s suit, just below the neckline. The cable was made up of two smaller tubes, twisted together like an artificial umbilical, and as Virus tightened the seal he highlighted each tube to his inquisitive aide.
“This dark line is the VS link, it connects to the vital signs monitor up here,” he tapped on a thin screen nestled among the raised plasti-steel blisters on the ceiling that displayed a multitude of digits and colored lines. One of the lines expanded and shrunk with the rhythm of Rev’s heart.
“This clear line is the drip; giving him a steady dose of dream juice. I don’t want him wandering this ship when he should be healing.”
“But, Virus, he’s already healed.”
“I’m sure he feels right to you, Lig, but you don’t know Rev. He’s always first in, last out… who knows what other injuries he hasn’t told me about.”
Lig looked at the man sleeping peacefully on the bed.
“Why is he always first in? Does he want to die?”
Virus smiled and patted Rev’s chest plate the way a hunter rewards his hound, “No. He doesn’t want any of us to die.”
Virus began to investigate the storage units that were fixed to the walls all around him at chest height. As he slid back panel after panel he pulled out a variety of different tubes, boxes and pouches, each one displaying its contents through clear plastic or glass.
“This is quite an eclectic collection,” he mumbled to himself, turning a small vial of Dathomir Fire around in his hand, watching the salve undulate and glow scarlet in reaction to his movement, “quite the collection. Say, Lig, you ever…?” He looked up, but the youngling was gone.
“Great.” Virus flung the pulsating salve back into the cabinet and, giving Rev one last look, stepped out of the med room to look for his new best friend.

“I still say I could’ve sliced it faster…” Rece grumbled as he and Scarp strolled out of the dock authority control room. Behind them through the open doorway, four controllers lay unconscious and tape bound under a wide-spanning desk, and at the rear of the room the central control system for all twenty-two of Miner’s Rest’s docking bays sat forlornly on the floor in a dozen pieces, looking like a giant executive puzzle toy. The edges of the plasti-steel housing for the controls still glowed from the not-so-tender touch of Scarp’s broad saber.
“I do not doubt your abilities, trooper,” answered Scarp, pausing and raising his face to the sky, “we merely required a fast solution.” His face darkened and he took a step out into the expanse that separated them from their docking bay entrance. He and Rece were standing at the far Northern edge of a huge, barren courtyard. Along both the east and west walls were a multitude of metal doors, all of them sealed, all of them leading to their respective docking bays. The Ashes’ newly acquired freighter waited for them behind the far southeast corner door, but Scarp’s senses told him that they wouldn’t reach it in time. Even as he sent a thought to Pel, urging him to ignore the force signs that he was no doubt feeling and to stay with the younglings, Scarp turned his solid face to the large archway in the middle of the south wall, the exit to the center of town.
“Stay behind me,” he said quietly as he swung his saber from its scabbard and ignited it.
“What’s the…?” Rece’s words were silenced by a volley of blaster bolts that peppered the wall behind them; all but the ones that were on target, which Scarp blocked with ease, sending them back into the arched entrance. There was the muffled sound of an impact and fingers of smoke looped into the courtyard, followed by a damaged swoop, the leader of three.

The RMP swoops were bulkier than the normal, sleek Republic speeders. Their larger saddles held two police troopers, one piloting the bike and the other raised slightly behind him, operating the various weapons of suppression, or execution. On either side of the swoop, like giant saddlebags, containment pods connected to the main frame skimmed the ground. Each pod was a big enough transpari-tube for an average-sized human to comfortably fit in, or for anything larger to have a miserable ride.

The three swoops drove halfway into the courtyard and fanned out. Rece could see the captain was operating the cannons on the smoking, lead swoop. He swung his DC-15 up and braced it against his shoulder. Through his scope he could see the faces of the men who had come for him, faces just like his own, troopers he had probably served with before Order 66. His finger glanced against the trigger of his rifle, but he knew that he couldn’t use it; despite their circumstances he could not regard these men, his brothers, as the enemy.
“I won’t make you attack them,” Scarp whispered, sensing Rece’s turmoil, “instruct Sergeant Calz to take off.”
Rece nodded and spoke into his internal comm.

“Put down your weapon, Jedi.” Cap’s amplified voice was calm, “you, and the other traitors, are all under arrest.” The three swoops held their arrowhead formation, bouncing gently with the hum of their repulsors.
Scarp didn’t appear to shout, but his voice still boomed across the space. “You and your men will back down and let us return to our ship.”
For a moment, Scarp thought his coercion had worked. There was a second’s silence before the RMP captain suddenly balled his right hand into a fist and pulled it down. Upon his command the two swoops on either side of him peeled off, rushing towards Scarp and Rece, undercarriage blasters blazing red bolts of energy. Scarp twirled his massive saber with blinding speed, blocking every blast that threatened to take down both himself and Rece, and while the Force guided his hands, his eyes watched the lead swoop slowly creep toward their position.

“Take off?” Calz’s tone was incredulous. “Who the hell does he think he is? That’s one of my boys out there.” He touched his hand to his ear-mounted com-link and barked into it. “Digger, Peko, get out there and bring those two back in.” Then he turned to Carud who was watching the docking clamps fall away from the dull, gray nose of the ship, “Fire this crate up, Smoke. I want to be in the air the minute Rece’s boot hits the ramp.”
“You got it, Sarge.”
Calz watched a whisper of smoke curling over the wall, coming from the central courtyard, and listened to the sounds of Digger and Peko as their boots thundered through the ship toward the exit ramp.

Rece stood frozen, his finger poised on the trigger, knowing he wouldn’t fire, watching in disbelief as Scarp Hed’n ended the confrontation in a little under eleven seconds.
For Scarp, the time seemed much slower.
In mid-rotation he had taken his left hand from the hilt of his saber, and continued to swing it with his right. This required more exertion, but his Force-fueled muscles were more than capable of handling the strain. As he subconsciously connected with each and every laser bolt, sending them flying out into the sky above the courtyard, he focused on the pilot of the swoop attacking from the left. A twitch of his hand and he felt the police trooper’s neck twist and saw his helmet fall to his chest. As the trooper went limp he slid from the saddle, catching in the space between the running plate and the containment pod, hitting the ground and becoming an organic rudder, his armor digging into the dirt and turning the swoop a full ninety degrees sending it hurtling towards the other machine approaching Scarp’s right.

While the pilot of the second swoop adjusted direction to avoid the collision, Scarp turned his attention to the leader who had crossed a third of the distance between them. Time slowed even more and the sounds of blaster fire, screaming swoop thrusters, scraping armor, all receded into the background. Now he could hear the shallow breaths of the man beside him, the sound of Rece’s fingertip brushing the trigger. Scarp could hear the click of a weapon being activated; he watched as the RMP Captain squeezed the trigger on the immobilizer cannon, observed his helmet as it glanced up to confirm the aim, and then he saw the foam begin to spurt from the cannon mouth, already thickening in the air. Scarp had already guessed that a terrible fate awaited any Jedi, but he also knew that his clone compatriots would be considered expendable; so he was to be taken alive then.

Even as the left swoop clipped the nose of the right swoop, sending both vehicles spinning into the west wall, spitting blue armored bodies into the air to land with wet thumps among the exploding wreckage; even as the lead swoop advanced ever closer, the foam jet almost bridging the gap between Jedi, clone and police, Scarp was flying through the air, leaping from a standing position as if he had been launched by a Gungan catapult, the broad saber leaving red and blue streaks behind him, his outstretched palm facing the foam. The sticky stream suddenly halted in mid-air as if it had slammed into a window, then peeled back in a funneled wave and flew over the head of the pilot towards the Captain. Cap barely had time enough to raise his hands in alarm before the foam hit him, solidifying upon contact and cementing him to his own cannon which was clogged and spluttering its last. The RMP Captain could only watch as Scarp landed with both feet on the nose of the swoop and deftly decapitated the pilot, switching off the blades before the pilot’s helmeted head could bounce on the ground. Scarp reached in and flicked off the swoop systems and the machine slid to a halt in front of Rece, who was still pointing his unfired weapon at Cap.
Scarp leaned in and removed Cap’s helmet, dashing it against the side of the main frame and tossing the pieces to the floor.
“This is your only warning. You will call off your pursuit.”
Cap wanted to spit the Jedi’s words back in his face, wanted to tell him how the RMP would never give up the hunt, wanted to tell him that he would now be brought to justice as a murderer, but the foam that had crept up his chest had sealed his lips, and he could only snort angrily through one exposed nostril.

Scarp leaped down from the swoop and joined Rece who was walking in stunned silence towards the door to their bay, his rifle hanging at his side. As Scarp reached him, the door flew open and Digger and Peko burst into the courtyard, rifles ready. One look at the carnage told them they were a few seconds late.
“C’mon,” said Peko, turning and trotting back up the service tunnel, “Sarge is waiting.”
Digger took one last look, and then followed Peko as Rece stepped through into the gloom.
Scarp stepped in and placed one giant hand on his shoulder. “Rece…”
Rece violently shrugged Scarp’s hand off and his walk became a trot as he saw the loading ramp beckon at the end of the tunnel.
“Don’t touch me, Jedi,” he hissed, and he followed his brothers onto the ship.
Scarp paused, stunned. Then slowly approached the ramp. Around him the air shimmered and cooked as eight rows of thrusters fired up; the air smelled of burning meat, sweat and carbon, and as the ramp elevated with Scarp the stench lingered, before the sweet smell of the internal air supply rushed over him.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Chapter Four

RMP-0019 sat next to his pilot and tapped three gloved fingers on the central control hub that separated his seat from MPP-3232’s. He was fully aware that his squad had already established that his finger tapping denoted one of two things, anxiety or anger, and given their circumstances a wise clone would bet on the former. His modified LAAT lurched once more, plummeting then leveling as Kiffu’s lightning raged all around, and RMP-0019, known simply as Cap to his men when not on duty, surreptitiously tightened the straps securing him to his seat. It wouldn’t be seemly for a police captain to be tossed around inside this can like a dried heta bean.

Behind Cap, nine of his ten man squad sat bouncing with every shuddering lurch of the gunship, each man silently praying that their pilot would deliver them from the turbulence sooner rather than later, their visible thoughts distorted by the angled plexi-plast of their helmets. They sat in rows of four and five facing each other across the deck, sandwiched between the cockpit and the holding cells. Above them, slotted into the roof, were their DC-15s, net guns and foamers. The Republic Military Police were ready to take down anyone or anything, efficiently and without prejudice, and deliver them back to Coruscant. As ‘32 finally dropped the ship below the cloudbank, Cap heard a static pop in his earpiece and a familiar voice, his own voice, cut through the interference.
“Captain. 3278 reporting.”
“Go ahead, ’78.”
“Sir, contact confirmed, repeat, contact confirmed.”
Cap smiled and ceased his finger tapping. “Excellent work, ’78. Transmit coordinates.”
As a row of figures ticker-taped across the bottom of his visor, Cap relayed them to every man in his squad. “How old is this intel, ’78?”
“It’s fresh, Captain. The target is holding position right now – point oh five east of Miner’s Rest.”
“And you can confirm it’s Calz and the other renegades?”
“We’re the only other clones on this whole dreffin’ planet, Captain.”
“Good. Maintain position,” Cap glanced at 3232 who was holding up four fingers.
“ETA four minutes.”
“Four minutes, confirmed, Captain.”
Cap patched his mike into the squad network and spoke quietly.
“Gear up. We have confirmed contact and they are all in one place. ’42 and ’67, I want you manning the grapplers, we may have to execute an airborne arrest.”
“Yes, sir!” All nine, identical voices rang in his earpiece, and Cap thumbed the safety on his DC-15. On, off. On, off. If Calz wouldn’t come quietly, and he suspected he wouldn’t, then he would be removed from the wanted list, permanently.

Janst’orr watched from the back of her perch as the rear doors opened and Pel and Peko gunned the swoop out, dropping several meters before the repulsors kicked in and sent them screaming towards town. The doors closed immediately, and she turned to watch the activity ensuing on the flight deck. Scarp, Digger, Rece and Soolad were standing around Sergeant Calz, who had removed his wrist projector and settled it on a storage barrel having magnified the holographic image of Miner’s Rest, and the group watched as a new, golden circle rapidly approached the red outlines of the building.
“OK, they’re almost at the gates.” Calz had removed his helmet, and Janst’orr could see fresh lines etched into the skin around his eyes. This man had known a lifetime of stress in as many years as she had been alive. She looked past the huddled group to the front of the ship where Lig sat next to Rev, her eyes closed, her tiny hands on his face. Rev seemed to be sleeping. Virus watched them both as he monitored Rev’s vital signs.

Janst’orr could feel waves of jealousy washing over her, and she clenched her teeth, attempting speed meditation to calm the ripples. She knew her feelings of resentment towards Lig were wrong, and yet she didn’t understand why she had them in the first place. Master Scarp had repeatedly told her how everyone had their own strengths; Soolad’s force-push was unparalleled and Lig’s healing powers would make her the stuff of legend, but Janst’orr knew only one thing, how to wield a saber, and she prayed to the Mon Cal Gods that it wouldn’t be a red blade.

Calz dipped his finger into the projection and highlighted a cavernous space in the center. The buildings around it receded to nothing and enhanced details appeared on the three dimensional schematic.
“The docking bay has two exits,” he pointed at a bright square in one corner, “Peko and the Jedi will enter here, infiltrate the cruiser and open the loading hatch.”
“What if she puts up a fight?”
Calz looked at Digger and grinned, sheepishly. “If she thinks Peko is me, then she’ll welcome him with open arms.”
Virus interrupted from the front of the ship. “Should’ve put some gray in Peko’s hair if you wanted to pull that off.”
Digger and Rece chuckled as Calz pointed at Lig. “Careful, we’ve got her now. You’re expendable.”
Virus laughed and turned back to his data pad.
Scarp tugged his hair out of the overhead webbing and bent lower to stare at the schematic.
“Who’s she?”
Calz looked at him and cocked an eyebrow.
“The owner of the cruiser we’re stealing.”

Cap loosened his restraining straps and strode to the rear starboard section of the gunship where he patched his wrist-projector into a sprawling comm bank. The panels displayed a multitude of colored lights and waveforms, revealing the equipment’s extraordinary Intel capabilities. Normally, RMP-2388 would be manning this station, but he was sitting alert with his brothers, checking his kit, his face identically impassive as the rest of the team as they waited for Cap’s next command. ’42 and ’67 were standing with their backs to each other at huge, floor mounted tripods. Their hands gripped slender stocks and their thumbs hovered over the firing switches. The bodies of the grapplers were deceptively compact, but the menacing, multi-barbed hooks that emerged from the front of each device left nothing to the imagination.

Cap keyed in his pass code and the face of another Jango Fett clone shimmered into view. Cap saluted as the face spoke.
“RMP-0019, report.”
“Positive identification, Commander. We will be intercepting target in ninety seconds.”
A sudden flickering on the face was caused by electro-static interference from Kiffu, not through any emotional response from the clone commander.
“Message received, Captain. I will contact Lord Vader immediately. Carry on.”
“Yes, sir.”
Cap switched off the holo-link and turned to his men. Their blue armor gleamed, highlighted by violet slashes flitting through the door slits; their black shoulder pads denoted their status in the newly formed Republic Military Police and their new helmets, with the vertically extended visors, framed their hardened features. Cap couldn’t be prouder. He faced the front of the ship and gripped his rifle.
“’32, open the doors.”

The black gunship, commandeered and repainted by the Ashes over a week ago, hung motionless in the sky half a click outside the town walls, testament to Carud’s piloting skills as he countered the electro shock waves of Kiffu’s ceaseless storms. Calz stood at his shoulder and tapped him lightly on the helmet.
“The wind direction is perfect, ner’vod. How about conjuring up a little cover for our departure?”
“I hear you, Sarge,” nodded Carud, and he tapped a short command into his armament panel, loading a low yield seismic charge into one of the ship’s belly tubes.
“Smokescreen away.” He fired the tube, blasting the tiny device into the arid desert below them. The charge commenced to burrow for five meters through dry, orange clay and rock before exploding in a shower of pebbles and dust. The cloud of debris caught the breeze, and drifted towards Miner’s Rest.
“Perfect,” grinned Calz, “perfect, son. I haven’t seen this much dust since Geonosis…”
Suddenly his com-link burst into life and Peko’s urgent voice yelled in his ear.
“Sarge! Watch your sixes, we’ve encountered a Blue Boy, and where there’s one…”
“There’s a squad.” Calz finished. “Status?”
“He’s out cold, Sarge, but unconfirmed if he called in the troops.”
“Get that cruiser’s hatch open, Peko, we’re coming in.”
“Roger that, Sarge.”
Scarp made his way over to Calz.
“Blue Boys?”
“Police,” replied Calz, silently gesturing to the rest of his men, who immediately assumed defensive positions on either side of the ship, “The RMP has been on our tails for a week now. I think they’re looking to prove their worth.”
He strode to the middle of the gunship and ushered the younglings into a depression between two crates.
“Stay here, things could get messy.”
“But we…” Soolad began.
“Do as he says!” Scarp bellowed, and he swung his broadsaber from his back; no easy feat in the cramped quarters.

Carud swore from the front of the ship and craned his head back. “Sarge, this dust cloud has fouled up my sensors, it’s as good as an EMP!”
“Use your eyes then, Carud.”
“Viz is down to ten meters, Sarge. We could be… wait! There’s something to port!”
Calz rushed to the side of the ship and peered through one of the slats, then leapt back, pulling Digger and Rece with him. “Down!” he yelled, just as the ship rocked sideways as a grappling hook burst through the door like it was flimsi-film. The soldiers leapt to their feet, their yells muffled by the sound of the squealing crunch of tearing metal, and the entire door flew off and into the cloud. Orange dust filled the cabin and those without helmets had to cover their mouths.
Calz stood defiantly in the now exposed flank and shouted into the air.
“We won’t fight you, ner’vod!”
A dark shadow slowly solidified as the Police LAAT hovered into view, and Scarp could see six, blue-clad troopers with their guns raised and one at a grappler which was at that moment disengaging the cable that held the gunship door.
Scarp watched as one of the policemen stepped to the edge of their own craft, and he could see though the large visor that he was identical to every other clone he had known. The man yelled back.
“That makes things easier, Calz! You’re under arrest.”
“What’s your name, soldier?”
I’m not a soldier any more,” replied Cap, and my name is RMP-0019. Now, power down.”
“You know I can’t do that, ner’vod.”
“I am not your brother, Calz. You and the other traitors have no family.”
Scarp saw Rece bristle at this remark, as had Calz who placed a hand on Rece’s chest.
“Leave it, son,” he said quietly, “they are the traitors.”
Cap yelled once more across the swirling divide. “Final warning, power down!”
Calz looked at Scarp. “I can’t kill my brothers.”
Scarp returned his gaze with compassion. “There are alternatives, Sergeant. Soolad!”
The little Bith poked his bulbous head out from between the crates. “Master?”
Scarp gestured for him to join him. “I may need your help.”

Cap watched as his quarry appeared to huddle in a conference. He squinted as he tried to make out the two other figures standing by the clones. One was a giant humanoid, and the other one appeared to be a child. He spoke loud enough so that his men could hear him.
“Prepare yourselves. Sergeant Calz will not come quietly.”
Suddenly he heard one of his men mutter, “What is that?”
Cap turned, just in time to see a spinning blur of red and blue light disappear under his ship’s belly. There was a blinding flash and the LAAT lurched sideways. Cap found himself on top of a pile of his own men, staring at the open sky through the doorway.
“Pec stabilizers are gone, Captain! We’re going down!”
It was his pilot’s voice, and now the sky was starting to rotate above him. The sight was almost mesmerizing, but his current predicament took precedence.
“Level out!”
“I can’t, Captain! Five seconds to impact!”
Cap braced himself, and the final seconds seemed to stretch out forever. After a while he realized that they really had stretched out, and ten seconds later he opened his eyes and saw his men slowly untangling themselves and standing up, all of them walking towards the open door which displayed the electrified landscape of Kiffu. They had landed. But how?
“Captain, I can’t explain this, but…”
“Quiet, ’32! Find a working comm and contact the Commander. They need to know a Jedi is down here!”

Calz looked in astonishment at the huge Jedi Knight and the tiny Bith as they slumped together, sweating, in the middle of the cabin. He had watched the man’s saber fly out and take off the police ship’s stabilizers, and saw them spin down to certain doom, and then watched as Scarp and the youngling had reached out with their hands, grasping at invisible threads, and lowered the ailing ship gently to the ground. He had seen it all, yet he still didn’t believe it.

The air whipped through the exposed cabin, clearing out some of the dust as Carud flew the ship over the town walls and directly to the open-topped docking bay. Digger looked over the edge, and grinned when he saw Pel standing on the roof of a cruiser, its dorsal load bay open wide and ready to receive its package of AWOL clones.
As Carud skillfully piloted the craft downwards through the hatch, Pel leaped on and glanced at his brother and Soolad.
“So, what have you been up to?” he winked, “We thought you weren’t coming.”
As the ship’s debris-clogged thrusters finally powered down, Calz turned to his men.
“We’re not out of this yet, boys. Grab your lids and ‘15’s. Carud, get our new crate into the air.”
Calz’s men shouted their affirmation in unison, and went about their heavily practiced routines.
Calz turned to Scarp and Pel. “They know we’ve got Jedi with us. That’s going to bring down more heat than you could ever expect.”
Scarp pushed a few sodden strands of hair from his eyes and fixed the Sergeant with a smile.
“You have five Jedi with you, Sarge. That’s more heat than they’ll ever expect.”

Lig and Janst’orr emerged from their hiding place and joined the others as they disembarked one ship for another. Janst’orr watched as clones and force-users helped each other down from the deck. “Now where are we going?”
When no answer was forthcoming, she hoisted up her robes, and ran to join her tiny clan as they followed the clones into the depths of the ship.