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#13809286 Jul 07, 2018 at 12:30 PM · Edited over 3 years ago
11 Posts

Waking up in the morning, Sallus sits up in bed and moves his legs around and over the edge of the bed. Today will be a big change. He will head to the starport to start and prepare for a big journey. He will be joining his good friend Nomesh, a Shistavanen. His friend has recently open up an unknown region of space, now known as Nomesh's Shelf, for further exploration and now he has been forming a big expedition to explore it which Sallus had agree to help with. Now he will be heading to the ship to help with final preparations and the journey itself.
Hearing a stirring, Sallus is knock out of his thoughts and turns to see Thyone sleeping on the bed and starting to wake up. Smiling he recalls them marrying and settling here on Nexum 4, a peaceful sleepy minor trade world. By now they have 3 children: 2 sons Joran and Byton, and a daughter Donna. He smiles wider as he sees her beautiful face and her eyes as she opens them and her beautiful smile when she sees him. As she sits up, He leans to her and starts to kiss her lovingly which she kisses back lovingly as well. They embrace as they start to make love.
In the aftermath, they lay side by side looking at each other in love as they caress each other gently in silence. Then they hear a soft knock on their door of their room then a small voice, “Mom... Dad.. Are we going to visit the ship today?” Sallus and Thyone look at each other with wider eyes then quickly get up and hurry to get dress. Thyone shouts back, “Yes, love. Give us a couple minutes and we will prepare to go.”

Two years earlier....

The inner room was lighted only by various consoles and holograms, including one that is an interesting and moving orrery. A ceiling lamp shines down on the center table where a relaxed and friendly sabacc game is being played. Sallus looks at his cards then back at the other players, all real good friends of his. He can barely hear the traffic from the nearby starport through the walls of this office.
Across the table from him sits Nomesh. A Shistavanen, Nomesh is also a famous and prolific explorer and scout as well as owner of an exploration agency, Mwarbu, which office they are playing at. The agency is also where Sallus works at. To Sallus' left sits an one-eyed Trandoshan named Sallux. Even though Sallux can't recall his real name or much of his past, he continues his life and now has a couple successful businesses, showing he has quite a talent for running them. Between Sallux and Nomesh sits a young Human named Jored. He works for Nomesh as an explorer and scout, being his protege. To Sallus' right sits another Human and also a comrade in arms named Mallor “Redeye”. He has suffered much from all the battles he has been in and is only now coming out of his combat fatigue. Between Mallor and Nomesh sits a Bothan named Lowar, another comrade in arms who now finds peace in starship maintenance and repair as well as modifying.
Drawing a card then looking at his hand, Sallux smiles and looks at Nomesh, “I have heard you have gotten three wonderful finds that have made you very rich,” seeing Nomesh just smiling in response, he continues on, “Why haven't you gotten anything real nice or even try to retire?”
Everyone smiles as their banter continues. Jored looks at his cards as he smiles slyly, “Then can I have a raise?” asking jokingly. As they begin to laugh, Mallor joins in, “How about a grant?” The laughter gets louder.
Nomesh smiles in good humor, setting down one card and picking up another to add to his hand. “Well I have bigger plans and I have been needing to ask for help from all of you,” he says as they get quiet to listen better, “I have been saving up for and planning a more extensive exploration cruise but with a much bigger ship with a bigger crew to do more expansive and detailed surveys. If that goes well, I would do more such cruises. I would like your help in planning and execution if you accept.”

Back to the present......

Arriving to the parking lot for Mwarbu, Sallus, Thyone and their three children walk to the office building then through a big opened gate to one of the agency's two landing pods. There sits a Corellian Corvette in the middle of a hive of activity, the Queen Gem. Nomesh bought it a year and half ago. Then he had it modified and re-equipped for exploration. Just two weeks ago, they took it on a couple shakedown cruises and now it is being readied for the actual six-month long cruise which is suppose to launch today.
As Sallus takes the excited children around to check out the ship, Thyone looks around. She can see Sallux with the ship's quartermaster Kirnor as they direct and double-check the loading of last-minute supplies. High on top of the ship, she sees Lowar along with other technicians and mechanics as they prepare and do last-minute check-ups on the ship. Under the ship, she spots Nomesh, the ship's captain Yade and a few others looking over various parts of a plan. Seeing Sallus and the children coming back, she knows it is time to help load his stuff into the ship before he goes to join in the work.

Hours later in the parking lot, Thyone with her children around her, Sallux, Jored and Lowar as well as a few others, all stand out and watch as the Queen Gem takes off and sails smoothly and gracefully up into the late afternoon sky. After it disappears in the sky, she and a few others go inside to listen to the communications with the Queen Gem till it jumps into hyperspace.

Groggily, Sallus wakes up in his cabin of the ship. He can feel and hear the ship traveling through hyperspace. He was allow to sleep in as he has been working the “night” shift lately. Sitting up he starts to wake up. After they had left their planet port of call, Nexum 4, they did extensive surveying of a few systems that Nomesh has already surveyed but briefly, so to train the crew further. In one of the systems they had a planned rendezvous with Jored whom was flying his scout ship an Incom A-24 Sleuth. They hung out for awhile in Nomesh's crowded cabin playing a friendly game of sabacc. Before long Jored had to leave to continue on his own exploration flight after exchanging mail and information to take back home. After that they went on and done exploration of several previously unexplored systems.
For the tenth time, he turns on his holomail from Thyone and smiles, listening to and watching the holo recording. As he watches the recording he can feel the rhythm of the ship change as it exits hyperspace. After this recording he figures he would have time to eat then some recreation. He isn't sure what recreation he would do. Maybe that sabacc game that is usually happening in the mess hall. In the middle of the recording, the ship lurches and rocks, knocking Sallus out of his bed.
Hurriedly putting on the rest of his outfit, Sallus leaves his cabin into the hallway. The ship alarms blare loudly and the crew members hurry about in this emergency. Whatever is happening it is bad. As he starts to head down the hallway to get to his position, the ship rocks and creeks. He ducks and nearly falls to the floor as a side panel burst open in an explosion of fire and electricity.
He hears a new explosion, similar to the first one, causing the ship to rock more and producing more fires. As he gets up, a fire blast comes from aside corridor ahead of him muffling brief cries from there. [What is going on?] he thought, [Must get to the bridge.] He stops in his steps in shock and horror as the alarms change to signal abandon ship. Something must really be wrong. He then continues to run down the corridor to reach the bridge, ignoring the alarms.
A fiery explosion knocks him off his feet onto his side in a side corridor, knocking some sense back into him. Turning his head around, he can now see fire breaking out everywhere and the ship rocking more. Getting up he notices he is near some escape pods. [Good. Can remember to be back here but first...] he thinks. Then his thoughts are cut short by short cries and a wall of fire heading down the corridors towards him.
To his horror and terror, time seems to slow down and stretch. For what seems like agonizing hours he stands up, figuring anytime the fire will engulf him. He then runs towards the nearest waiting escape pod but finds that even running to be in slow motion much to his dismay. Much to his disbelief he makes it to the escape pod and jumps in. [Jumping in? That was stupid. Now I have to get up and shut the door.. wasting time,] he thought. Standing up again seems to go in slow motion still. Looking back for the first time, he can see the fire wall approaching closer and closer. When he thinks for other survivors, he realizes the fire wall totally blocks all ways to him. He slaps the launch button. What seems like hours the door didn't shut. As he backs away in horror as the fire wall is almost to the entrance of the escape pod entrance, the door shuts and then the pod automatically launches and time goes back to flowing right.
As the pod speedily launches away from the ship, Sallus sits down and looks out the rear observation window. To his horror he can see the fire hitting the closed portal where his pod just came from then bust out producing a pillar of fire. [Blast.. this isn't good at all] he thought of the ship, though knowing he is safe for now. As the pod moves further and further away, he can see it is worse than he first thought. The Queen Gem moves forward, mortally wounded. Her other side is bleeding fire and debris from over half that side while the side his pod came from jets out a few vicious pillars of fire. Hearing the beep from the pod's computer that it is approaching a planet's atmosphere, he sits down in one of the cushioned seats, buckles up and keeps looking out the rear window. As his pod flies further and further away, he finally can see the Queen Gem moving like a wounded animal as it moves to where the planet must be, still spewing out flames and explosions. To his horror, the ship seems to be breaking up and tearing itself apart.
His view gets blocked as the pod enters the planet's atmosphere causing the pod to start to shake and the window gets blocked by flames of entry. He holds onto his straps as he hopes the pod stays together as it goes through the atmosphere. For all his experience he never have to use one of these things so he hopes this entry goes safely and quickly. After what seems like a grueling shaking hour, he can feel the pod's rockets and repulsorlift engines kick on. Before he knows it, the pod rocks and shakes as it lands. Once everything stops moving, he sighs in relief.
Undoing the straps, Sallus gathers what equipment he can find as he checks on the pod's computer and sensors that said the outside is breathable and safe without environmental suits, much to his relief. Gathering a blaster pistol and carbine, he also gathers the emergency foodstuff, water, first aid kit as well as a survival pack. Popping out of the rear hatch with the manual latch, he pulls himself up through the now-opened portal. Halfway out of the portal, he pauses as he looks around and sees quite a surprising and familiar sight. [ A battlefield??] he thinks in awe, [Not just a battlefield but a massive one.]
It is dusk as he can spot the sun setting. He can see the land is newly scarred by war with the only trees he can see are stripped to the trunk and major branches. At times one or more aircrafts of various sorts fly by at various attitudes. Artillery fire occasionally crosses across the sky, either missiles, projectiles or energy bolts. Fires are concentrated at various spots in the distance with a few acting like small fake sunsets.
[I better get going.. this is bad. I am on a battlefield I know so little about..] he thinks then pauses and freezes in spot as he notices a flaming “meteor” rocketing across the sky. “Oh blasted fragging sithspawn,” he shouts out without realizing it as he recognizes what it really is, the Queen Gem. He watches it as it flies high across the sky in flames and breaking apart then disappearing on the horizon. A couple seconds later a massive explosion appears from that direction just over the horizon. He unfreezes as he knows he must get moving.
Sallus freezes again as he starts to bring himself out of the hatch fully. From just over the long mounds dug up when the pod crashed, a group of soldiers point their blaster rifles at him firmly, clearly all willing and able to fire. All has the feel of veteran warriors to Sallus' combat experience. Slowly and carefully he sets down his blaster pistol and blaster carbine. Then the one who seems to be the leader motions with his rifle for Sallus to get out and move a good distance from the pod. Sallus carefully moves out of the pod then a good distance from the pod with his hands raised. The leader and a few others walk closer to him with their rifles expertly aimed at him, while the others move over and into the pod, checking it out.
After a few short seconds the leader approaches him closer under the covering aim of his comrades. He then stops several steps from Sallus then speaks in a strange dialect of Basic, “Are you a Gathial?”
“Gathial?” Sallus asks, clearly confused and new to this word, thinks, [What in the moons of Aelous is a Gathial?]
The leader looks at him a little startled, saying, “No, I guess not..” One of the solders fast-walks from the pod to the leader to say, “Just an escape pod. Nothing more.” The leader nods his head in response then signals them all to move out. He then signals four of them to lead Sallus to march with them and keep him under guard. Sallus finds them leading him into the bed of a landspeeder which the whole unit pile in before it speeds off.
After a couple minutes, the speeder stops at some temporary position behind some huge repulsor tank. Being lead by the solders with their readied rifles, Sallus gets out of the speeder then to the back of tank into an armored airlock door. He then finds himself in a small command room. Made to sit down at a small holo table, he can now see what must be a higher ranking leader.
This leader turns to face him across the table, looking at the squad leader then back at Sallus, “What brings you to Jorzo 5 in a battle?”
Sallus looks at him, puzzled, “Jorzo 5? Is that the name of this planet?”
The leader pauses as if a bit surprised, “Are you with the Gathials?”
“What's a Gathial?” Sallus asks, clearly not understanding what it is.
“I see...” he responds and thinks a bit, “How did you get here? Why are you here?”
Sighing, Sallus gathers his thoughts and then explains he was part of an exploration ship and experienced some sort of problems that brought it down here. The commander listens patiently, nodding and when Sallus finishes, he asks, “So it was that unknown ship that came down in this area?” When Sallus responds with a nod of his head, the commander turns and talks softly into some communication gear.
After a few minutes, the commander turns around and looks at the squad leader and says, “I will take care of this. You are dismissed and continue your patrol.” The squad leader salutes the commander then looks at Sallus and gives him a nod before leaving tank out the back hatch. After the hatch closes, the commander looks at Sallus then says, “Looks like you got the attention of Urion.”
“Urion?” Sallus asks, clearly unfamiliar with the name.
“Urion..” He says, seeing how confuse Sallus is, “the famous Torillan warlord.”
“Torillan?” Sallus asks, not knowing that word either.
The commander stops as he can see how Sallus is not knowing these words, “Torillan... from the planet of Torilla.” Before he could continue, the hatch opens to show two armed solders. The commander looks at them and says to them, “Take him to the landing pad. A Firebat from the Torillans will be there to pick him up. Go, take him now.”
The guards then take Sallus out of the tank and leads him across the outpost to a temporary landing pad. He finds himself being lead to some sort of shuttle. The cockpit was in front with the two crew members sitting in tandem. It has wings curve from high on the fuselage, where the two engines were, then down nearly to the ground and the craft also has a twin tail assembly. They lead him to the side where a big door slides open to show a fairly big room where they guide him to sit in. They then move off and away as now he has two new guards. The door closes as the Firebat takes off and starts to climb quickly. As he sits there by the two alert guards, he can tell it leaving the atmosphere when the air turbulence stops.
After a few short minutes, the shuttle rests down and the side door opens unto a fairly busy cavernous hanger bay. Two veteran guards meet them right there. He was handed off to them. The guards lead him to a waiting passenger skiff which then silently rushes off with him and the guards out of the hanger bay into a wide corridor of the ship. After what seems like a couple miles, the skiff turns off into a side corridor then stops. The guards lead him out of it into a room and have him sit at a table and they stand at the door behind Sallus, silently guarding.
After what seem like a couple minutes, a burly bearded man in a grey armor and a beautiful fur cape walks in the room from the door on the opposite side of the room. He looks at Sallus then pauses on the other side of the table from Sallus. "So are you a Gathial?" he asks.
"What's a Gathial?" Sallus asks, agitated that they are not explaining it to him.
Urion smiles knowingly then nods his head, "Guess not.. so did you come from that ship that crashed?"
Taking a deep breath, Sallus then explains what happened without giving away any personal details as Urion listens and nods his head in deep thought. When Sallus stops talking, Urion keeps pacing slowly and thinking a couple minutes longer. When he stops pacing, he turns to look at Sallus and says, “While this needs to be investigated further, you will stay here till it is decided for sure what to do with you." He then turns and walks out the door he had come from. The guards then immediately have Sallus stand up and lead him off.

Sitting with his back against the wall on a cot, Sallus loses track of time as he thinks on all that has happen as well as his lost friends from the ship along with his family and friends back at home. He wonders if he will be able to find a way home. Since his cell has no window, he can only try to figure out what is going on by the vibrations of the ship. As far as he can tell the battle hasn't come to this ship which he is glad about. After what feels like almost a life time the cell door opens. In walks two guards, that squad leader that found him and someone that must be a relative of the squad leader as they look so similar.
The newcomer comes closer and smiles friendly, "Sallus, I presume," seeing he has Sallus' attention he continues, "I am here with an offer. As long as you behave, you can come with me to where I live and be under house arrest during your probation or you can stay here and hope they remember you. What do you have to say? This is your only chance in deciding." Sallus thinks for a few seconds but can see already the best choice. He gets up and goes to the newcomer, "I will go with you then." They lead him through the brig area then into a corridor and onto a skiff where all but the guards got on.
As the skiff travels swiftly through the corridors, the newcomer says, " I am Perdion and this," pointing at the squad leader," is my little brother Jurion. Jurion told me about you so I am curious and decide to take you as my responsibility. We are heading to my ship, the Moongem, a Starcat," talking about his ship in pride. The skiff goes down the corridor then into a busy cavernous hanger bay. It stops not far from a ship that seems to be a calm area in this busy hanger.
Getting off the skiff, Sallus follows behind Perdion and Jurion as they walk towards the ship. It is angular bullet shape with flat sides. It has long straight wings to the back and the cockpit in front just behind the nose end. Canards is placed behind the cockpit from the sides. He can see a group of guys relaxing right by the ship and under its wing. Upon seeing Perdion and Jurion they get up and welcome then with brotherly friendship. Some look at Sallus in guarded caution but when they notice Perdion's and Jurion's seemingly acceptance of Sallus, they relax and not stop nor go against Sallus. One of them approaches then hugs Perdion and Jurion with laughter in his voice, "So how long till we head home? We are all eager to be with our families."
Perdion smiles back in caring friendship, "Now.. so get your gear and get in the Moongem and get ready for takeoff." The guys quickly get up, stopping an ongoing card game and pick up their gear they been using to lean on and hurry up the rear ramp of the Starcat. Both Perdion and Jurion instead go into a side door of the ship, having Sallus follow them. They walk up a ramp and finally into the cockpit, setting down their gear to the side. The cockpit is roomy with 4 chairs. Two front chairs for pilot and co-pilot with Perdion and Jurion respectfully sit in. Two seats are in the back, one to communications/sensors and the fourth to navigation which Sallus sits in the latter. As he watches them power up the ship then head out of the hanger into space, Sallus hopes this is better than in that cell and maybe his situation is getting better. He sits back to relax, glad to be unbound though he can tell they are alert to him and his movements.

The Moongem pops out of hyperspace and flies into the atmosphere of a green planet. “My home planet Mylur,” Perdion says as someone coming back to a much loved home. It flies over blue-green ocean then over land full of lush verdant forests, heading to a plateau that has a large mansion compound like a stout cylinder with several dome ceilings. Sallus thinks {House arrest in that? It is huge. Far better than I thought.} It flies to the mansion then through some opening doors into a fairly big hanger bay full of various vehicles.

Looking out from a balcony, Sallus looks down onto one of the manor's many courtyards. This one has the stable and he watches as some people get their mounts ready for a trip. He has been treated very well. Despite only allowed to roam the manor and not beyond, no one has treat him cruelly or impolitely, especially since he has kept on his best behavior. He figures no need to misbehave since he could still be in that cell or worse. As he watches on, Jurion walks up to his side and slaps an utility belt on Sallus' shoulder. "Come on," Jurion says with much concern in his voice, "Perdion's daughter, Inutia, is lost in the forest and we are going to find her." He leads Sallus down the walkway then down corridors till they enter another courtyard.
As they walk in this courtyard, Sallus puts on the utility belt which he can see contain basic gear for survival and search-and-rescue. They approach a civilian variant of the Firebat which waits for them in the courtyard. As they get in, it takes off swiftly and heads away from the manor. Inside other people wait as they are there for the search too. Plus he can see three other Firebats flying in the same general direction.
Soon the Firebat lands in a small clearing, letting off the people. As Sallus and Jurion was about to head into the thick forest, Jurion hands Sallus a sheathed sporting blaster and a knife, "For self-defense. Be careful. The forest is quite wild and dangerous." Sallus takes the two and straps them on and then enters the forest.
Unholstering the pistol, Sallus walks through the lush forest, dripping from a recent rainfall. The forest is quite thick and full of life with no signs of a trail so far. He walks carefully keeping aware for any signs of Inutia and danger. He treks on as he carefully makes his way on the slippery forest floor with the birds making calls in the canopy. He walks along through the trees and alongside a slip not far from a cliff to his left that rises real high. Spotting what seems to be a very faint trail, he calls out, "Jurion.. Jurion." Not hearing an answer, he looks around to see no one in sight or sound in this thick forest. Sighing to himself that he lost track of his group, he decides to move ahead and investigate since he still has a comlink but wants to make sure he has something before giving a call. Following what he thinks might be a faint trail, he moves down the slope into a higher part of a valley then over a fast-flowing creek that then fall off a cliff as a waterfall. After nearly slipping down the slope, he stops automatically without thinking to listen. Hearing something faint like a cry, he holds the blaster firmly and at ready as he hurries down the slope towards where he heard the cry came from.
He hurries down the slope as best as he can so not to slip, pausing often to listen for the cry and to correct where he is going. To his surprise as he gets to the bottom of the slope, the terrain flows from a forest into a swamp. He stops suddenly as he almost runs into the water. Looking up he can hear the cry much clearer and it definitely is a cry for help. He sees a 10-year-old girl crying out for help, sitting up in shallow water not far from the shore. He recognizes her as Inutia and that she is in trouble. He quickly moves along the muddy shore avoiding the roots and branches. He wades the short distance to her from the shore. He quickly sees her leg caught in some branches and might be broken from the angle of it. He grabs her, startling her. When he tries to get her out, the limb holds her fast. She screams out in pain and horror. Looking where she points to, he sees a large crocodilian heading straight for them, gaining speed.
He raises his blaster with trained ease and fire. The blaster bolt hits the animal making an injury but it only seems to anger it further and not slow it down. {Blast it.. wish I had something much better} he thinks as he goes to help get her leg loose. In frustration and danger sense, he expertly shots the tree limb holding her leg. To his surprise, the bolt snaps the branch and he then easily picks her up and starts to run back to the shore, hearing the reptile coming closer and closer in its strike. With adrenaline running, he carries her up a steep slop by the trees on the slope as well as some small ledges. Once he gets on top of the slope, he turns to see the reptile stops and turns away, but still he carries her away further away from the swamp. After what seems like a hour but might be just a few minutes, Sallus stops running and stops on top of a hill with some cliffs. He sets her down and checks her leg and sees her ankle is either sprained or broken.
He then puts a brace on her leg and calls on his comlink to report he has found her. They respond for him to stay there as they triangulate on his position and send help to pick him up. Looking back at Inutia, he can see she is sitting there tired, cold, wet, scared, dirty, and in pain. He takes off his vest and places it around her to try to keep her warm. As she stays there silent and watching him, he gathers some dry limbs he can find, builds and starts a fire. Not sure how long the help will come, they gather at the fire to warm up and try to dry up.
After a few long quiet minutes, Sallus looks up as he hears a noise and sees a Firebat comes to a hover just above them pass the canopy. Then Perdion along with two men comes down expertly on jetpacks. Perdion immediately goes to Inutia and picks her into his arms in a loving fatherly manner. Without a word he takes off to fly through the canopy and into the Firebat. Along with the two men, Sallus puts out the fire. As he then looks up wondering how he is going to get on board or they going to leave him to walk out of the forest, the two men walk to both sides of him, putting their arms around his back and under his arms. As soon as Sallus notices this, they together take off through the canopy then into the opened side door of the Firebat to land inside, all with expert ease. He and the two guys sit down with their backs to the back wall as the Firebat then starts to fly on, quickly gaining speed and altitude with both side doors still wide open. Sallus looks at both Perdion and Inutia, seeing he has her sitting with him by his side and embracing her with one arm firmly. She stays in his comforting embrace, staring back at Sallus quietly with wide eyes.

Later that night, Sallus stands on a balcony overlooking the jungle over the cliff with the moon giving plenty of light to see with. As Sallus watches on, Perdion steps onto the balcony and silently walks to stand beside Sallus, staring out as well. "It can be quite a beautiful sight at times, wouldn't you say?" Perdion says with a smile. They look at each other as Perdion still smiles, "We want to thank you for rescuing Inutia.”
"How is she?" Sallus asks, having not heard anything about it since they got back to the manor from the search and rescue.
"She is fine. She is a little shaken, has a sprained ankle as well as cuts and bruises but nothing serious at all," he answers, beaming at the good news, "We appreciate a lot what you have done for us. Inutia might not have survived otherwise."
"You are welcome, Perdion," Sallus answers, delighted that he is being thanked for it.
"Perry..." Perdion interrupts in a kind manner, "Call me Perry. My friends call me that and I want you to be one of them," sticking his hand out in friendship which Sallus shakes his hand in return, "Your house arrest is over. You are no longer a prisoner, but you are more than welcome to stay as long as you like."
Sallus smiles widely as they shake hands in frendship, feeling like he just made his first real friend in this unknown area of space since Queen Gem went down, which seems like almost a lifetime ago. He can feel himself relax now and more at home.

Sallus finds himself in a place he rarely ever goes to.. a library. It is in the manor of Perdion's family. He looks through various databanks trying to find leads of routes back home. Despite the extensiveness of the library, he can't find any such information he needs. With the little astronavigation he knows, he can guess the general direction to go but nowhere exact enough to be of help. Ever since his rescue of Inutia, he is now treated like a member of the family, not just a stranger. From his research, he found out the people here call this area of space Lamaria though he is unable to find any reference suggesting the Old Republic or Galactic Empire. From what he can tell Gathials is a group of people that mysteriously showed up in Lamaria at least 350 years ago and has since formed an empire that has grown and waned a few times since. From what he heard from others, the battle on Jorzo 5 was the swan song for the Gathial Empire. As he works on to look through all this information, Perdion walks up through the library. "Find anything useful?" he asks.
Sallus looks up, "A little but nowhere near enough that I need."
Perdion frowns slightly, "How about take a breather and come with me? I could use some help."
Sallus gets up and shuts off the computer he was on, "Yeah.... think I could use a break," starts to walk along with Perdion as they exit the library, "So what you need help in?"
Perdion smiles now, "I am heading to the Admiral and I need a wingmate, someone to watch my back. Are you game?"
"Yes, I'll come," Sallus responds, "Uhm.. the Admiral?"
They walk on down the corridor then another one. Perdion explains, "An ancient Gathial battleship turned space station and major trading port," handing Sallus an utility belt with a holstered heavy blaster pistol, "Here, just in case."
Sallus quickly puts the belt on, smiling in that he is glad he gets a powerful blaster this time, "Why are we going there?"
"Mmmm.. got a meeting as well as some special trading," he replies as they now walk out of an elevator then a corridor before walking out into the hanger bay. They head to the waiting Moongem.
Sallus asks as the door and ramp of the Moongem opens for them, "Who all is going?" "Just me and you," he answers walking into the ship follow by Sallus.

The Moongem exits out of hyperspace into a different solar system(Ganot system), heading for a large ship hanging in orbit around a verdant planet, Ganot 3. As they draw closer and closer, Sallus is able to see the ship better. He starts to see some of the busy traffic to and from the big ship.
"The Admiral," Perdion says, "An ancient Gathial battleship. An one of a kind. A spaceport with many warehouses, resorts, casinos, a few factories as well as some residences."
As they draw closer still, Sallus can see the traffic is busier than he first thought. There are a few large cargo transports nearby with their own traffic of shuttle, lighters and the like going to and from the ships, the Admiral, and sometimes the planet itself. {That ship is huge,} Sallus thinks in amazement, {It is bigger than an Imperial-class star destroyer} Unlike a star destroyer, the Admiral is more rectangular in shape. It's bow is wedge shaped with projects forward out of the bottom of the bow like a ram device. He now can see the length of the ship contain a multitude of ornate towers. As they near the mouth of a cavernous hanger bay, he manages to spot some people in spacesuits and small maintenance vehicles working on the Admiral's hull.

Inside the Admiral, it is definitely a busy starport. It have people of many different alien races, cultures and occupations, many of the races and cultures Sallus is new to. In one of the many dives there, Sallus finds himself sitting in a booth alongside Perdion and some of his buddies. Iceneus is a strong, bearded and jovial man with looks of a seasoned warrior with his battle-worn armor partly hidden under a poncho. Lomcus seems to have some warrior abilities but reminds Sallus more of a merchant. Lomcus also is an alien he is not familiar with. He has a cone head with short horizontal stalks ending in big eyes which Perdion told him they are called Nohluns. The next buddy is a Human named Ocajar who seems to have a love for game hunting and is dressed for such. They all talk together in jolly and excited conversation of great friends.
Laughing from a previous joke, Iceneus looks at Sallus and says with a friendly smile, "I heard you rescued Inutia from the forest and some crocodillian."
Sallus smiles back, unsure how to act as he has been quiet this whole time then replies, "It was nothing. Anyone would do it."
Iceneus laughs again and pats Sallus on his upper arm, "Very modest of you. That rescue was very heroic and impressive. I'll even say you might make such a Hastam.”
Sallus raises an eyebrow, "A Hastam?"
"An ancient super soldier of the Gathials," Ocajar answers.
"Nay, the Hastam are only a myth made up way back then," Lomcus says dismissively of the idea.
Iceneus adds his opinion in as well, "They are overgrown legends based off the exploits of the Red Talons."
Ocajar replies, "Well, the Red Talons were based off the Hastam and so confused with them."
Before the argument gets carried away, Perdion raises his hands up to talk the talk and says calmly to the confused Sallus, "Either way the Hastam are widely known for great heroics, bravery, martial skills and acumen. It is quite a compliment."
As the conversation dies back down to less of an argument and more of casual conversation, Sallus notices the dancer in the cantina is a race he is unaware of but alluring still. Wearing a skimpy outfit, she is deep red skin with a few soft projections from her face. Seeing where Sallus is looking at, Perdion asks, "Ever seen them before?"
When Sallus shakes his head no, Perdion says, "She is a Masset and they are quite common around Lamaria."
Looking around Sallus can see Perry is right as there are several Masset patrons scattered throughout the cantina and even spots some walking pass the entrance randomly within the crowd there.
The conversation goes on as Sallus pays more attention to it as it goes to the trading offer.

In the warehouse district of the Admiral......
Perdion opens the door to a large storage shed. They walk in as they turn on the shed lights which shown dimly. He and Sallus walks in followed by Perry's buddies as the two check out what Perdion is getting and comparing it to the invoice on their datapads. With the help of glow rods, they check each item as they head deeper and deeper into the dimly-lighted shed. "So far so good. Everything seems to be in order," Perry says as they check inventory.
"Same here. I see nothing out of place.." Sallus answers, his words dropping off as they get to the back of the shed to various crates that seem to be out of place.
As they check out this last bit of unusual crates, Perry looks at Sallus, "Is any of this on your list?"
Sallus shakes his head, kneeling down to get a better look, "Not at all."
Lomcus looks puzzled as he stands there holding a glow rod, "That is strange but all in this shed belongs to you, Perry. I have no idea where these came from. But it's all yours as far as I am concern."
Ocajar looks along these crates with his glow rod held high. He comes across a slate of a crate leaning back against the back wall and stops, "Think I found something." As the others stop to look what he meant, he reaches around to the side of this unusual crate to press buttons without hardly thinking.
As he presses the buttons, they all realize what it really is. It is a carbon-frozen slat with someone in it. Before anyone could think to tell him to stop, the unfreezing process starts. They stay there staring as the process quickly runs its course. Soon a Human woman falls forward out of the slab onto the still-kneeling Sallus making him to fall onto his back with his head between her full covered breasts, much to the shock and amusement of the others.
Before any of them could decide what to do, the woman sits up and off of Sallus, shaking her head as to clear it. Sallus silently stifles a protest of her getting off of him. They can see she is deeply-tanned, curvy and beautiful lady with long curvy hair. She opens her eyes and blinks several times in silence. 'Where am I? Who are you?" she asks, clearly dazed "Are you working for Emperor Vagorian?"
"Vagorian?" everyone, except Lomcus whom responds to her last question. Lomcus thinks deeply then asks, "The Gathial Emperor Vagorian, husband of the Empress Irena?"
She looks at him and nods her head, "Yes.. that is him for sure. Though last I knew they were not married yet."
The rest look at Lomcus for clarification. He looks at her in surprise and replies, "That was 200 years ago. The Gathial Empire is no more now." nodding at Ocajar to check for him.
"Yes, according to the controls here, it is 200 years go," Ocajar says as he checks the chronometer on the slab control.
She looks at Lomcus and Ocajar in shock then shakes her head as to clear it further, "200 years? Been so long. What to do now?" mumbling more to herself than speaking to them.
Perry smiles gentlemanly and offers his hand to help her stand up, "How about introductions? I am Perdion. This is Lomcus. He's Ocajar. He's Iceneus and the one you were laying on is Sallus," pointing to each person in turn.
She accepts his hand and stands up, "I am Neriu. And I am sorry for landing on you.. uhm Sallus"
Sallus gets up, "It's no problem," thinking as he stifles another protest, {Would been nice if she laid on me a little longer}
They then walk out of the shed to get in better light. Perdion looks at Neriu, "Well guess best to stay with us till you have an idea what you want to do. 200 years is a long time to catch up with. But I am sure if you behave, we won't mind helping you." His words get cut off as they exit the shed and blaster fire starts hitting all around them. They quickly duck to the sides for cover then draw their weapons and start firing back accurately.
"Who are these guys?" Sallus asks loudly over the noises of the firefight, coming out of cover to shoot his blaster then ducking back into cover. {At least firefights are the same here as it is at home} he thinks. He fires again, helping to keep the opposing side from gaining the advantage.
"They are certainly not the Auxies," Perry shouts back then adds to clarify, "The Admiral's law enforcement." He fires back a few times then ducks back and checks the level of his blaster's power pack.
"Well they picked on the wrong guys," Lomcus says after firing a few shots. By him, Iceneus fires at the opponents, knocking out one of them.
Looking over at Perdion, Sallus can see one of the attackers is sneaking around to their flank and is aiming at Perdion. With one shot, Sallus hits him with a blaster bolt, killing him. Perdion quickly notices the save and nods his thanks to Sallus and goes back to firing. A second later, Perdion shoots across and pass Sallus, hitting another flanking attacker. Sallus nods his thanks. Right by Sallus, Neriu starts to shoot back with some skill by a blaster she gained from a fallen attacker. As she does the shooting, Sallus sneaks up by the flank and starts to go around to outflank the attackers, careful to stay alert. He quickly moves around the various sheds and crates, circling the firefight noises to tip the balance.
Soon Sallus finds himself right where he wants to be. Coming out of cover briefly, he starts to fire into the flanks of his foes, catching them by complete surprise. He quickly takes down 3 of them before they quickly break off and run away, firing back inaccurately. As he fires at the escaping foes, the rest of his group catches up to his position.
Perdion looks at Sallus and says, "Sallus, you and Neriu stay here and guard the shed as we get the rest of these guys." He and the others rush off as they can see their attackers piling onto a skiff and zooming off.
Sallus watches them run off and also gets in an unoccupied skiff and give chase. He turns to look at Neriu who looks back at him. "Think it is best to guard from inside the shed," he says, which she nods with a smile as she seems to be recovering well.
They enter the shed and lean against one wall as to hide themselves. After a few long minutes, the tense silence is broken as they hear the engines of an approaching speeder. They hold their weapons ready.
After a couple tense seconds, Perdion enters, "Sallus.. is everything alright?" The others enter the shed, following Perdion.
"Yes, nothing happens at all," Sallus replies, lowering his blaster, "Who were they and why did they shoot at us?" Sallus asks.
Iceneus pulls out a metal badge... skull that is half red and half silver, "They were from the Jurile Syndicate. Which is strange because they rarely operate in this area."
Perdion then explains it to Sallus, "A criminal syndicate though here on the Admiral they are very much not welcome. So they rarely can operate here."
"Why attack us?" Sallus asks, nodding his understanding.
"That is not known," Lomcus says, "They end up bumping into the Auxies and none of them survive the short-lived firefight."
"Well, let's get a couple bigger skiffs and transport this cargo to the Moongem," Perdion says, "Maybe the mystery will be solve later on when we might get more information."
As Ocajar and Lomcus left to retrieve a few skiffs, Sallus moves to help start preparing the cargo to be moved. Neriu walks right by him as she figures to help them as she thinks on her situation.

After the fight, they quickly load up the Moongem and secure the cargo. They say their good-byes as well. Iceneus took Neriu to hide her as she figures out what she wants to do and just in case the Jurile were after her. Once back to Perdion's manor, Sallus goes back to researching at the library. Though his times at the library is frustrating that he had much trouble finding the information as well as the chief librarian, unawares, keeps distracting him. She is always sweet, helpful and patient with him and his search. He finds he gets distracted by her as she moves around to work as well as bending over with various chores. One day, Lomcus shows up in his medium freighter to do some trade but mainly to visit friends.
At the dining table, Perdion, his beautiful wife Betta, Sallus and Lomcus along with Perdion and Betta's children, including Inutia, sit and eat. As they eat, Sallus listens to Lomcus tells his stories. He smiles from the funny stories. Seeing something at the corner of his eye, he turns his head to see the silent Inutia trying to watch him without him realizing it. She has always been silent to him, so he shrugs his shoulders and figure she is playing some child games with him. Sallus continues to listen to Lomcus as he seems to change subject and become more serious.
Lomcus smiles to his friends as he drinks the refreshing juice, "Now I am really here to give a proposition." Once he has everyone's attention, he continues, "I have found some clues that will lead me to the Vagorian treasure," smiling big as if it was a big deal. Seeing Sallus' confusion, he adds, "Vagorian was a rich and powerful Gathial emperor whom is said to hide a great fortune in some great vault somewhere."
"Which many people have looked for since and no one has yet to find it," Perdion adds, chewing on his steak hungrily.
"But I found some clues that I am confidant will lead me to the vaults," Lomcus adds, "I am not asking for money. I am asking for some help in my search." He looks at Perdion and Sallus, waiting for an answer.
Perdion finishes chewing and leans back. After glancing at Betta, he says, "I can't go. I got way too much stuff to deal with. But there is someone that might," he glances over to Sallus, "Sallus, do you want to help him? You seem like you might need to get out of the manor and do something else. Don't get me wrong. You are welcome here, but you seem like you are getting cabin fever here.”
Sallus looks at Lomcus and Perdion as he thinks deeply {Well would like to research more but I can't focus enough for it... mmmm} "Yes, I will go," he finally replies, making Lomcus grins in delight.

Hearing his name being called, Sallus stops just short of the boarding ramp to Lomcus' medium freighter which is sitting on one of the manor's landing pads. Turning, he sees Betta fast-walks to him. He smiles at this smart beautiful woman. She was one of the first people that treated him like family and always been so sweet to him. She stops just before him, almost touching. She hands him an utility belt with a holstered blaster as well as some spare power packs. She then kisses his cheek softly and says, "You are always welcome here and be like family. Take this as a gift from Perry and I. For saving Inutia as well as watching Perry's back.”
He unholsters the blaster and checks it out. It looks fairly utilitarian in design but he can feel with his extensive experiences with blasters how well balance and sturdy this one is. The blaster is rectangular in shape with handle on the bottom and called a PB-51 from what he heard. It must been made by some master blastersmith. He smiles widely for a change, "Thank you.. I appreciate everything." He watches her walk off to join her family. Seeing her and her figure moving so enticingly in a natural feminine grace creates a rising stirring in his loins. Quickly putting on the belt, he waves good-bye at them and then heads up the ramp into the ship as it starts to take off. Bracing his hand against the wall, Sallus calms himself down from the sight, shaking his head to clear it. Then he heads down the corridor as he can feel the ship rises off the pad and starts climbing into the sky.

After a cold shower, Sallus meets Lomcus and some of his crew in the common room where they play some card games as the ship flies through hyperspace. Most of the crew are Nohluns like Lomcus. Here at the game all but Sallus are Nohluns. As they play cards, Lomcus explains to Sallus about the background of the vaults, "Vagorian was a Gathial emperor around 200 years ago. He was known as a powerful and quite wealthy one at that. He even was known to store some of his wealth away to these vaults. After him the Middle Gathial period started to decline. Many have tried to find these vaults since but all failed. Some even think now it is only a legend or myth."
One of the Nohluns says sarcastically, "Like the mythical legend of an ancient Nohlun galactic empire."
Another one speaks out, agitated, 'That empire is for real. The stories for it have always been around."
The previous one shot back, "Then why has there never been found any evidence for it, even on Covrelu (the Nohlun homeworld)" This response silences the other Nohlun.
Lomcus raises his hands, silencing the argument then he continues on, "I found an item on the Admiral that has lead me to some serious evidence of the trail to these vaults. Sallus, You and I will search for it as my men here do the regular trading as cover and to do actual trading... profitable both ways so to speak."

(continue in Part 2)

#13809291 Jul 07, 2018 at 12:39 PM · Edited over 3 years ago
11 Posts
Wearing a parka, Sallus walks down a street in one of the cities of the cold weather planet of Nadow through snow flurries. Unlike him, the residents seem to take this weather with ease as if it is second nature to them though they also wore cold-weather clothing too. He is looking around as Lomcus goes to talk to a few contacts. He decides to check around to learn some of the culture here. He pulls his hood tighter against the blowing wind coming down the street.
As he eats some delicious food he bought from a vendor not far back, his ears caught a noise down a side street. He sees two men, one armed with a big knife and the other with a club, approaching a beautiful shapely woman in some fancy cold-weather outfit flanked by a somewhat rodent bipedal race (which Sallus heard called Wyram). Seeing she is in distress, Sallus walks down the side street to quickly and silently approach them since the two guys have their backs to him. While she sees him,she doesn't show any change of expression on her face and body language. Quickly Sallus grabs the heads of both men and slams them together, knocking both unconscious.
The lady smiles and looks at Sallus and says, "Looks like I have a rescuer. My name is Lady Herena. Who might you be?"
Sallus nods his head, admiring her beauty and shapely body that he could tell, "Sallus and you are welcome."
The Wyram begs her, "My lady.... we must go. It isn't safe here and we got much more business to deal with."
Smiling sweetly, Herena looks at the Wyram, "Alright, we are going, Bomar," then turns to Sallus, "Sorry, we have to go but I really appreciate the rescue. Maybe one day I will be able to award you," winking at Sallus then she turns to walk with Bomar towards the main road as the snow flurries fall thicker now.
"There you are, Sallus," Sallus turns his head to look behind him to see who call his name. He sees Lomcus approaching him. "I got the information we need and we are heading out," Lomcus stops and looks at the two men on the ground, "What happened here?"
"Just two muggers that didn't know whom they were facing," Sallus replies.
Laughing a bit, Lomcus pats him on the shoulder and starts to lead Sallus away from there and back to the main road, "Well, let's head out before they wake up. We got a journey ahead of us," leaving the two muggers as they start to gain consciousness. Both Sallus and Lomcus unaware they are being shadowed.

The monorail train moves above the snowy verdant forest as snow flurries fall lightly. Sallus looks from the window at the rushing scenery to at Lomcus whom is sitting across from him in this private cabin on the train. "So where are we heading?" Sallus asks.
"We are heading to a small town then a trip through the forest to a remote spot," Lomcus responds with a smile, sipping his drink casually.
Nodding his head, Sallus gets up, "I am going to get me something to drink." He walks out the cabin door into the narrow hallway. He turns tight and walks past several similar side doors before entering another train car, the dining car. He walks to the bar and orders some fruit juice called Thava juice. He sips it as he walks back to the sleeping car, enjoying the taste of this juice. Entering the sleeping car, he stops when he almost bumps into someone else. He stops himself from apologizing when he notices it was a whole group of suspicious guys. The one he was about to bump into produce a vicious looking knife and lunges at Sallus then everything slows down for Sallus.
As he watches the knife comes to him in slow motion, Sallus recalls what one of his old teachers taught him, {mm oh yeah he said, "Don't be rude, give the knife the right of way"}. He steps to the side allowing the surprised attacker to rush by. {"At times be nice and help them along"} Sallus then pats on the attacker's back as he rushes by throwing the attacker off balance and ramming into the wall before dropping to the floor. Sallus then turns to see the next nearest attacker. As this new attacker charges, Sallus kicks low to scrap his lower leg then to smash down on his foot, causing the opponent to cry out. He then smashes into his face with his elbow, dropping him to the ground. Sallus also notices some of the attackers rushing into Lomcus' cabin then the cry of surprise from Lomcus.
{Unable to help Lomcus just yet} Sallus thought as he mentally figures the first attacker should be up now. Turning around, he sees he is right and the first attacker is about to charge him. Sallus punches him in the face making him to slam back into the wall then collapse onto the floor.. out cold. Turning around, he sees his next attacker trying to pull out a weapon. Sallus charges in, not giving this attacker the chance. He punches him into the stomach, causing him to bend over. Sallus then grabs his head and pushes it down as he brings his knee up to contact with his face, knocking him out cold. Looking up, Sallus watches one of the attackers falling back from the opened door to Lomcus' cabin to collapse on the floor with a blaster hole in his chest.
A train employee appears from the car door opposite of Sallus, flanked by a few local policemen. He points at the attackers on the floor, "Those.. those are the intruders I told you about," then he points at Sallus and Lomcus as he comes to his door with his blaster lowered, "Those two are passengers for sure."

After a time of investigation, the police allow Lomcus and Sallus to go on as it quickly becomes clear the two fought in self-defense and the attackers were arrested. Sallus and Lomcus got off the train at some quiet sleepy town. There Lomcus bought an used landspeeder. Sallus relaxes in the passenger seat of the speeder as Lomcus, with ease, drives the enclosed speeder on a trail through a snowy forest. After a time of driving, Sallus leans back in the chair, about to take a nap, when Lomcus tosses a medal on his chest. When Sallus looks at it, he can see it is of a symbol of two corvines standing side by side, alert and strong.
"I found that on one of the attackers," Lomcus says while driving.
"What does it mean?" Sallus asks as he looks at it.
"I don't know. I never seen it before or heard of it," he answers, "but guessing it is some sort of organization. For whatever reason they attack us on the train."
Before they could say or do anything next, an explosion hits and rocks the speeder. Sallus braces himself as Lomcus grimaces while trying to keep control of the speeder only to have it crash down seconds later. Sallus crawl out of the crashed speeder into a hail of blaster fire. Noticing Lomcus safely getting out on the other side then diving for cover, Sallus fires back several times, heading to the forest edge. He quickly goes in it, but notices a couple armed guys right there. Mumbling under his breath, he quickly shoots both dead in quick succession. As the blaster fire draws closer, he starts to head for better cover then stops when he notices one of the two had a bandolier of grenades on. {That can be useful} he thinks as he pulls the bandolier off of the dead body then heads off to the side being chased by blaster fire then jumps over a snow mound into some natural trench. He then keeps firing back again and again, thinking how best to outflank the ambushers. He then hears some noises behind him.
Looking behind him, Sallus sees that 3 of the attackers has jumped into the trench just behind him. The closest attacker raises his pistol to point at Sallus. Recognizing this uncommon pistol, Sallus jumps out of the trench and over the mound right out of cover. The flamethrower pistol shoots out a fiery cone right where Sallus was just moments before and further down the trench. A split-second later, Sallus throws over a frag grenade right back into the trench. A second passed then an explosion comes from the trench follow by a second but a fiery explosion as fragments from the grenade rupture and ignite the pistol's flammable magazine. He then jumps back into the trench, avoiding more blaster fire to land back where he was before but now with 3 dead burned bodies.
As he kept firing back and ducking back in cover again and again, he thinks on what to do, knowing if he stays here they will probably get time and ideas to outflank him. Spotting the closest ambushers to his right further ahead, Sallus throws a frag grenade almost upon them. Just before it explodes, he throws a smoke grenade just ahead of him. Sallus quickly gets up and runs to his right side deeper into the forest. He quickly runs as stealthy as possible just inside the forest edge towards the ambushers. He moves deeper into the woods but stays parallel to the forest edge. He stops when he sees two guys moving just ahead of him in the forest towards the forest edge. He watches them and sees then get behind cover as he moves himself to get in their rear, noticing they just show him exactly where his ambushers are. He moves forward quickly as he can tell they are looking for him but where he was fighting from earlier. Knowing they might figure out that he isn't there anymore, Sallus takes another frag grenade from the bandolier and throws it right into their midst. Taking advantage of the confusion and shock, he charges forward, recalling where all they were, shooting with his pistol, making sure each shot count. Making sure everyone is down, he looks up to see the other ambushers across the clearing, firing near the crashed speeder. Looking at the crashed speeder, he can tell Lomcus is on the other side, firing back when he can. {At least Lomcus is still alive,} Sallus thinks.
Looking down to see what he can find from these fallen opponents, Sallus spots something and picks it up. He picks up a light missile launcher. Relatively light and inexpensive, it is really good for anti-personnel and against unarmored vehicles as well as light defenses. He then relaxes, aims then fires right at the other group of ambushers across the clearing. To his satisfaction the missile explodes right among the group as well as tearing a small opening in the light forest behind them. He then can see Lomcus looking around and tracking the trail of missile then noticing Sallus. He quickly signals Sallus to the crashed speeder to get their stuff then shows he is going to the clearing the missile made where a couple speeders are sitting at. Nodding his head Sallus starts to head into the clearing when he hears commotion to his far right along the treeline. Turning his head, he spot another group of ambushers now turning their attention to him. He quickly fires another missile right into their midst. Using the confusion and shock, he runs through the clearing to the downed speeder.
Reaching the downed speeder, Sallus quickly works to fish out their two packs. Hearing some distance noises, he looks up and towards the path they had driven from. He can see a rushing speeder full of passengers heading their way. Seeing some of the passengers pointing at him and bringing out their guns to bear, he knows they are certainly not friendly. Picking up and aiming the launcher, he fires it sending a missile straight into the speeder. The speeder turns to the side then starts flipping over, sending out some passengers before tumbling and crashing into the snowy ground.
Sallus nearly jumps when he hears a speeder zoom up behind him and stops to his left. He turns his head to his left, preparing to fight. He stops to see the speeder passenger door opened to him. Inside the speeder, he can see Lomcus at the controls, motioning him to hurry and come in. Grabbing the packs, Sallus tosses them into the back seat of the speeder then jumps in the passenger seat and closing the door as Lomcus zooms the speeder off from the fight scene.

Lomcus guides the speeder down a trail to another and sometimes doubling back to throw off any pursuers. Finally he arrives at a clearing and passes over a small frozen river to a cliff side that was obviously a landmark of some sorts. Lomcus parks the speeder a few yards from the base of the cliff. Sallus watches as he sees Lomcus frowns and hurriedly looks through a datapad. Out of frustration, Lomcus gets out of the speeder and stands by it, placing the datapad on the hood. Sallus gets out and stands on the other side, noticing the datapad is making a holo of a map.
"What's wrong?" Sallus asks, "We did get away."
Nodding his head, Lomcus keeps looking, clearly frustrated, "True... but.. there is suppose to be a statue here that lets us know we are on the right track."
Sallus looks where Lomcus is pointing at on the holo seeing a statue of a heroic warrior with some old style blaster rifle. He then turns his head as he notices it is getting colder and spots the sun setting. "Why don't we get some sleep and continue the search in the morning when we have more light?"
Packing up his datapad, Lomcus nods his head, "That would be best," heading back in the speeder as Sallus does the same. After Lomcus sets the speeder on sleep mode, they try to make their beds in the speeder before going to sleep.

After having a small breakfast from what supplies they had, Sallus gets out of the speeder into the morning air. He walks from the speeder to the cliff as Lomcus goes back to looking over the information on his datapad. Climbing up the cliff, Sallus stops just short of the top, careful not to silhouette himself against the horizon. Using microbinoculars, he scans and looks around steadily. {No signs of any pursuers. Good. Still nothing else} he thinks then puts away his microbinoculars and climbs back down. Almost slipping near the bottom, he thinks on, {That feels like strange rock.} He brushes more of the snow to see why it is strange. Upon seeing it, he goes to the speeder and gets Lomcus and brings him back to the cliff where they uncover more of the rock.
Lomcus stands up and turns on his datapad with growing excitement, "Oh yes.. that is the statue. It must have fallen over years ago from the looks of it." He looks at the datapad in delight as he fast-walks to the speeder while Sallus does likewise. Soon they speed off in their search.
Sallus sits and watches Lomcus as he drives a couple hours, heading down one frozen river to another then through a few more trails. They finally turns down a narrow small canyon that was hidden so well they pass it by and had to backtrack to it. The narrow canyon leads to a dead end canyon the size of a shockball field. As they look around, it looks like this canyon is just a false lead. Sallus finally points at an unassuming corner of the canyon, "There... right there.... a bunker that is well hidden."
Spotting what Sallus is pointing at, Lomcus guides the speeder to the corner and stops not far from it. They got out of the speeder and walk to the bunker and its entrance. Lomcus looks at the door, finds a keypad and begins to work on it. "Ah ha... This is an old Gathial style of security that has long been broken. Give me a few minutes then," Lomcus says.
Sallus walks back to the speeder and gets their packs then spots a heavy carbine blaster on the floor of the backseat. {Oh yes.. it will work nicely} Sallus thinks as he picks it up. He walks back to Lomcus whom seem to be in deep focus as he works on the security.
Finally after a couple minutes, Lomcus cries out in delight, "Ahh ...there we go." The door opens and Lomcus enters, picking up his pack. Sallus follows him inside, taking his own pack and carbine with him. Inside they find themselves in a short hallway. Going through the next heavy door, he can see this must be a security checkpoint. Smiling Sallus moves to a side booth that had security computers and starts to turn them on. "Ok," Sallus says, "We are all good," getting into the security programs and unlocking the next door.
Lomcus enters the now opened door to go deeper into the facility, "Keep an eye on things here. I will see what we have here." much excitement in his voice.
Looking at the monitors, Sallus spots the one for outside. Noticing some speeders coming into the valley and familiar people getting out, Sallus shouts back towards where Lomcus went, "We got company... I think our pals from the train and ambush.”
"Try to hold them off as best as possible while I look for something to help us," Lomcus shouts back from a distance. Sallus hurriedly works on the security computer and smiles as he finally gets the defenses up and once-hidden heavy repeating blasters come from their hidden positions and out of their long slumber and starts to fire on the approaching group, much to their shock and horror. Sallus works to keep the blasters shooting accurately and effectively, taking out speeders and work on eliminating these arrivals. He keeps at it, ignoring everything else, knowing him and Lomcus to survive, the best chance should be to take all these guys out before they can enter in and/or call for reinforcements.
He stops suddenly as he feels a blaster pointing against his temple. Looking from the monitors and at whom was with him, he can see it is one of the arrivals with a couple more joining up to point their blasters at him. As he raises his hands, he now sees the secret door in the wall where more were coming in by. {That is how they got through... secret passages} he thought. Following the motion of the blaster, he gets up and walks to the wall and sits down. One of these guys gets on the security computer and shuts the guns down. From the look of the guy with the pistol pointing at him, Sallus figures he must be a leader and he can see that this leader is wearing that same two-bird pendant he seen before on the train. As more come in from both the trap and front door, they converse in hushed tense words while a few, including the leader, keeps their guns trained on Sallus.
Suddenly the door to deeper in the facility opens and the rest of the group point their guns at it. Out walks Lomcus with his hands up.
"Get away from there," says one of the men, motioning with his rifle for Lomcus to sit by Sallus, "You are not taking anything from the vaults."
With his hands still up, Lomcus moves cautiously then sits right by him, "Doesn't matter. All the vaults but one is totally empty. And that one vault hardly has any treasure anyway."
The leader shouts, clearly angry, "You lie and will soon be punished," keeping his blaster pointed at both of them.
Lomcus just looks at them calmly, "Go ahead and look to see if I am telling the truth."
The leader clearly gets angrier and signals his group. Half of them head off deeper into the facility. Sallus can see him holding one hand to his ear then noticing he has an earpiece for a comlink. As a couple minutes pass, the leader gets angrier and angrier from whatever he is hearing from the comlink. He gets so angry that his blaster shakes and he turns red. Soon the men come back and the whole group starts talking together in hushed angry arguments. Finally the leader comes to Sallus and Lomcus, clearly very angry and fuming. "Normally I won't do this," he says through gritted teeth, "But strange times call for strange things. We can make a deal.."

As Lomcus' ship flies through hyperspace, Sallus is guided by one of the crew members through the ship to a cargo bay then into a special secret cargo hold. After the door shuts behind him, Sallus can see Lomcus sitting in a far corner of the hold as he inventories the treasure they found though it hardly comes close to filling just the corner. Glad to be off that cold planet, Sallus walks across the room to Lomcus. Whoever those opponents were on Madow they were true to their words. Whatever got them to make such a change of behavior, they fulfill it. Lomcus was allowed to take what little treasure there was while Lomcus and Sallus were suppose to not talk about the location or what happen to anyone else. Both of them have not talked about it since or to anyone else including the crew members.
Stopping a few feet from Lomcus, Sallus asks, "I don't understand. Why did they let us go with all this treasure? I was sure they would have killed us or worse."
Looking up from his work, Lomcus replies, "Nor do I understand fully. From what you can tell they were betrayed very deeply. By whom or how exactly, I don't know but seems to deal with the vault and the fact is was almost totally empty. Somehow that fact changes things so drastically."
"So, this hunt is for naught?" Sallus asks.
Smiling slyly, Lomcus replies, "No.... when they let me look on the computer for inventory, I found plenty of clues where the rest of the treasure was sent to. Then from other clue I had elsewhere, I was able to figure out where to go."
Surprised, Sallus asks, "Where is that?"

Narl. A desert planet. Sallus has been to desert planets before, especially Tatooine and Lok. Unlike Tatooine, Narl actually has some vegetation, mostly scrubs at places. Along with sand and rocky deserts, Narl has oases which some are on the planet's various rivers. This city sits near such a lush oasis which is on a river but still some distance as though not to smother it.
Walking down one of the roads of that city, Sallus makes his way to meet up with Lomcus since Lomcus had went to talk with a contact. {First a cold snowy planet and now a hot desert planet} Sallus thinks then adds jokingly, {Why can't it be some nice quiet vacation planet traveling a nice scenic route on a luxurious sail barge to the treasure.}
A few steps into a side street, he gets knock down by a few assailants. Pushing the closet guy off of him, he turns around on the ground to face the attackers. Spotting that attacker coming at him with a knife, Sallus knees him into the groin then kicks him off with a hit in his chest. Gaining some room, he pulls out his blaster and fires at the next nearest person then the third in rapid succession as he gets back onto his feet. Seeing the other attackers drawing their weapons, he quickly move to the nearest one to put a barrier between him and the other attackers. He quickly shoots him then kicks him into the other attackers, interrupting their aim.
Not wanting to give away his advantage and let them use their advantage of numbers, Sallus shoots again and again as they try to bear their weapons at him. When one then two start to run away, he holds his fire as it is better he goes to find Lomcus then to follow these guys elsewhere. Making sure no one else is attacking, he picks up an item that one of the dead assailants dropped. Looking at it, Sallus can see it is a metal badge. {Jurile Syndicate. Lomcus might be in danger, if not now but very soon} he thinks then runs off to hurriedly meet with Lomcus.
Putting up his blaster, he hurries down one road then another. He finally stops as he comes upon a rather busy road. Across the busy road, he can see Lomcus being escorted by several aggressive men. As they turn down an alley, he works to get across the road. Glad to not be spotted somehow, he follows them down the alley swiftly. He sees them heading out of the alley into a wider road where there are three airspeeders waiting. He recognizes them as a rather popular series in Lamaria. These CQ's, as he heard them called, are basically angular wedge shaped with a very blunt flat tip. As the speeders were facing away from him and in a line, he could see the two covered thrusters in the back of the last one. He notices them putting a bag over Lomcus' head and putting him in the first CQ.
As he draws near and sees all the men get in the airspeeders, he runs faster. First then second CQ speeds off and up. As Sallus reaches the back and side of the last CQ, it takes off and Sallus hurriedly grabs onto it. Seeing the speeder gaining altitude and speed, he climbs up to on top of the speeder, glad to find any grips. The speeders quickly and smoothly flies above the city, over a ridge and then over a desert. {This is crazy,} he thinks, {Need to get in the speeder. This won't do.} He crawls on the top slowly as the wind beats on him, knowing it is best he doesn't stay on top of here.
As he draws closer to the front, he is glad that this CQ, while having a windshield, is open at the sides and top except for a bar in the middle. He slowly peeks into the cockpit when he could then lowers himself back down the speeder. {Only two. One driver and one passenger,} he thought as one hand holds onto the speeder and the other unholsters his blaster, {Got to do this fast.} Raising himself back up, he shots the passenger first then the driver before hurriedly dropping into the cockpit. Looking at the controls then out the windshield, he stabilizes the speeder quickly. He then undoes the dead driver's belt then throws him out of the open side onto the desert floor below. Sitting in the driver's seat, he follows the other speeders, glad they don't seem to notice that anything happened. He glances again at the controls, glad they are quite easy to figure out. {Now, how to get Lomcus?} he thinks as he keeps following the other speeders, thinking on what to do now.
As he thinks, the speeders speed over the desert, covering lots of distance. Before he could get a good idea in mind, he notices the first speeder speeding up faster as a base of sort appears up ahead. Across the communication box of the speeder, he can hear some hurried conversation. It talks about some target that escaped and on the loose. {Well, seems like they mean me,} he thought. Then he can tell they are doing a roll call of sorts. As they get to one part and repeat it with more agitation, he thinks correctly, {Well, looks like the gig is up.} Seeing that the first speeder is heading to park at the base since it had sped earlier, he notices the speeder directly in front of him starts to turn to the left. Getting the feeling it is about to attack him, he arms his speeder's medium repeating blaster and fires on the second speeder. His speeder's medium repeating blaster shoots true, destroying one of the second speeder's twin thrusters as well as devastating its repulsorlift. That speeder goes into a diagonal uncontrolled dive trailing thick black smoke.
Sallus then turns his speeder to the right and leans it to the left so to look out the side to get a better view of the base. He spots them leading Lomcus from the first speeder into one of the buildings as the falling speeder rams into another building in an explosive result. Seeing many of those at the outpost moving to get weaponry to shot him down as well as looking and pointing as him, he thinks grimly, {Well, can't waste time. I need to head down there now before it gets worse.} He turns the speeder around and dives for the outpost, aiming his gun and firing away to cause more chaos and confusion. Despite his effort, more and more blaster fire comes his way with increasing number hitting his airspeeder. Within moments, the console of his speeder lights up and shorts out as it is mortally wounded and dives down further. Knowing he can't pull the speeder out of the dive, he aims it as best as he can away from the building Lomcus was taken in and towards another building to cause more confusion. He then hits the ejection button which sends the seats of the speeder to rocket out of the speeder.
As his seat falls, the small repulsorlift engine in it slows down the fall some. Sallus forces himself to look out and keep track where he is and where the building he needs to go to as well as the men heading in his direction. As the chair lands roughly, Sallus undoes the seat straps and scrambles up in the desert sand, drawing his blaster pistol readying for action. Running towards where he last saw that certain building, he fires at four men as they draw closer to him, knocking one of them down. One of their shots hits him in the arm which his outfit took most of the damage. The impact causes his side then his body to twist to the side and onto the ground. Because of his adrenaline, he just rolls with the impact, gets up and continues to fire back at them.
Sallus frowns as he keeps firing, seeing more men appearing to fire back at him, knowing soon he will be overwhelmed. Then to his and his attacker's shock and horror, accurate blaster fire suddenly starts coming from behind a sand dune into the flank of his attackers. One of the attackers throws a grenade in that direction in response. His aim is true and hits just on the other side of the dune causing a small fire ball. From out the side and back of the dune, a person in desert robes rolls out on fire. As the person rolls, the newcomer throws off the outer robes away to get away from the fire. Sallus can now see this newcomer is a woman now in fatigues and a top bringing up her blaster rifle with the skill and calm of a veteran warrior and fires back with great skill, running closer to Sallus. Unsure if this is a friend or foe, Sallus prepares himself for the worst as she draws nearer, both still firing at the attackers.
Also cautious of this meeting, she approaches him closer, still shooting at the attackers. She stops with a few steps away, "I presume you are going in for your friend they just brought in."
"Yes," he replies, still shooting as they support each other's fire, "What does it means to you?" She dispatches one then another in quick succession, "I want to get in there too. How about we work together and get out of here alive?"
Noticing their attackers now frantically running away after several of their members are taken down, He looks at this newcomer,"Yes... that will do but no surprises," then seeing the base ahead is chaotic from the crashed speeders and the black smoke as well as a slight sandstorm. Seeing an opening in the base security, he hurriedly runs forward with his pistol ready. After a brief looking back at the smothering remains of her outer robe and backpack, she follows him to the base.
As they quickly head to the base, Sallus turns to look at briefly. {Not the best way to team up, but have little choice in the matter and hope this is not a set-up.} With their weapons ready, they head onto the base and towards the building, shooting the few people that try to stop them in the chaos. As she covers him, he enters the building then she follows him in. Entering a hallway, they nearly run into a man. Out of reflex Sallus knocks him down with a hit with his forearm then points his blaster at him. "Where did they take the prisoner brought in just a few moments ago? Sallus asks with menace.
The man looks at Sallus then the lady whom is also pointing her gun at him then answers in fright, "They.... they took him that way and the first hallway on the right to the end. Don't kill me.." A blast from the lady's rifle hits the guy, knocking him out on the floor. Sallus looks at her for explanation. She replies, "I just stunned him. We don't need him to tell his buddies about us right now."
Sallus nods his head in understanding, thinking {At least she isn't bloodthirsty.} They move the unconscious man into a nearby room and close the door. They then hurry down the hallway then turn right down the first corridor. Coming to the last door, Sallus knocks it open and rushes in with his blaster ready, follow by the lady also ready with her rifle. In this room he can see Lomcus tied to a chair in middle of the room surrounded by four men in an apparent interrogation room.
The man who seems to be in charge turns angrily at them and shouts, "I said we are not to be interrupt.." his words stop as he sees who has enter the room. Without waiting for any more reactions, Sallus shoots the speaker then the next guy followed by the lady firing at the others in accuracy, this time not using stun setting. Seeing all the men are down, Sallus turns to Lomcus and presses the button on the chair, releasing Lomcus. As Lomcus stands up and rubs his wrists, "I am so glad to see you. I thought it was over for me. Who is she?" Lomcus says as he grabs his stuff from a table against the wall.
"She is here to help," Sallus replies, {Since that is all I really know anyway.} They head out the door into the corridor. He continues, "We need to find transport from here before they get wiser."
Opening doors and looking in briefly as they go, the lady says, "Yes, but first we need to give us a better advantage... here we go.." she enters one room. Sallus and Lomcus follow her in. Sallus decides not to argue when he sees the room is full of computers. She pulls out some slicing equipment from a pouch on her belt and plugs it into a computer. She then works on it, "I am going to make their alarms go berserk as well as the rest of the security systems so to cause more confusion. Plus find some transportation." Sallus and Lomcus looks on, seeing her going quickly through many files. After a few tense seconds, she stands up, "There that will do it. Now let's get out of here."
Lomcus takes her place at the computer and starts working on it, "One quick thing first," goes to some previous files that seems to catch his attention just a moment before. She lets him get what he wants and a datachip for it before she picks up her slicing gear. They then hurry down one corridor then another with her in the lead, avoiding anyone they come across. They enter a large garage and run to check which speeder they can take.
"Here, this one," Lomcus says loudly as he turns on a skiff. Sallus and the lady stop trying to find an unlocked speeder and quickly board the skiff. Lomcus then drives it out of the garage into the desert, leaving the chaotic base behind.
A couple silent minutes later,, they are still on the skiff as Lomcus stands in the back driving it swiftly over rolling sand dunes. Sallus and the lady sit further up almost back to back.
Glad this skiff has a canopy protecting them from the desert sun, Sallus looks at the lady, "So how about introductions? I am Sallus and this is Lomcus."
The lady turns to look at him, her short dirty-blood hair flowing in the wind. She gives a friendly smile, "I'm Froya. I work for the NDF."
"The NDF?" Sallus asks.
"Yes.. the Narllite Defense Force," she answers.
Seeing Lomcus nods his head in recognition, he says, "Go on."
"I have been investigating the activities of the Jurile Syndicate. I was observing them when you came along," she says.
With his adrenaline dropping, Sallus moves his left arm as it gets more and more uncomfortable. Froya frowns from his actions and looks better at him. "You are hit," she says as she gets up and looks around the skiff which was being used to carry much cargo till they took it. Finally finding a first aid box, she comes back to him and starts to bandage his upper arm. "At least your shirt took most of the damage of this grazing hit," she says while Sallus stays still. She then found another injury on him, thankfully also a grazing hit on the side of his upper leg. As she wraps that, he notices she has reddish light burns all over her back, probably when her gear caught on fire. When she finishes his leg, he tends to her back.
Out of the corner of his eye, Sallus sees Lomcus puts a datachip in his datapad. After a couple seconds, he glances at it then turns the skiff at a different heading. Both Sallus and Froya gets up and walks to the back to stand just behind and both sides of Lomcus and looks at his datapad. It seems to be showing a map. Spotting on the map where it looks like they are heading to, Froya nods her head, "I know that general area. It'll take us till sometime tomorrow before we get there. Otherwise we should be good."
They drive on in silence as they fly over the dunes. As the sun starts to set, Froya guides Lomcus into a hidden lush oasis that she said goes for a few miles straddling a river that comes from underground to travel this length till it goes back underground. Lomcus parks the skiff under an overhang. They carefully cook some rations they were able to find. After he hungrily finishes his food, Sallus starts to hear a noise. Froya gets up and pulls out her rifle at ready. They listen as the noise seems to go by high above them. She whispers, "Airspeeders... most likely from Jurile.. probably haven't spotted us yet." They wait one more tense hour before they relax then get some much needed rest.

The next morning, they are back on the skiff and going across sand dunes with some rocky outcrops. Unlike where they been at before, this area is littered with burn-out and rusty hulks of a wide variety of armored vehicles. Sallus turns to Froya as to ask why. She notices his expression and answers, "The Battle of the Hirl Dunes. The last great tank battle of the Narllite Civil War," seeing Sallus is not fully understanding, she continues on, "About 90 years ago a civil war erupted here between royalists and independents that lasted a few years. The war is a result from gradual schism that grew here among us before that. The royalists lost and left Narl. They joined the rest of the Gathial royalists and eventually ended up at the Battle of Jorzo 5.
Lomcus brings the skiff to a stop just over a dune not far where it changes from sandy to rocky ground. They got off the skiff and heads towards the cliff. After a time of searching lead by Lomcus, Froya shouts something as she finds a well-painted door. As Sallus watches their backs, Lomcus and Froya work on the door till it finally opens. They all enter in. The lights and systems that seem to be on stand-by turn on as they enter in a few steps. Shutting the door behind them, they walk till they find the first room, a security room. Using the slicing gear, Froya brings up the floor plans and hacks into the rest of the system. She tells Lomcus best place to look and he hurries off.
Sallus and Froya head off to another part of the facility, checking out various rooms. The place seems far larger than they would thought and in quite great condition though seems not to have been visit in a long time. As they search on through various rooms, Lomcus rushes up to them, very excited.
"Found something?" Sallus stops to ask as Froya keeps checking more rooms.
"I found the vaults... very nice," he replies, "Well better than nice, Sallus."
"Let me guess all vaults are empty except one," Sallus jokes dryly.
Shaking his head, Lomcus says, "No, my friend. The vaults are all full and far more than what I would have thought!"
"Really?" Sallus says, glad they are finally to their goal, "Now what we do?"
Lomcus calms down as he thinks, "Uhm... find a way to move it into my ship, but it will be hard long work through that small door."
"Maybe there is another way," Froya says from a side room just ahead.
Sallus and Lomcus walk to then into the room where she is. The room is full of controls and computers of some control room with a long window that looks out to a dark room. Sallus ponders as he looks at it, getting a funny feeling that he should know what kind of control room this is. Yet he was having a hard time figuring it out. Finally an idea comes to mind. Lomcus and Froya also seem to get the same idea as Lomcus presses a button. On the other side of the long window, lights turn on in quick succession. To their amazement it reveals a huge hanger bay that could easily fit three medium freighters.
"I think we found a solution to that problem. Thanks to you, Froya," Lomcus says with a smile.

They exit the facility and head to the skiff all in a good mood. Before they could get close to the skiff, an explosion happens on the other side knocking them back and knocking the skiff over onto its side, spilling out its cargo. Getting up they quickly move pass the skiff to the top of the dune, keeping low. Seeing armed people coming their way, Froya pulls out her rifle while Sallus pulls out his pistol. As they start to fire back at the attackers, Sallus notices Lomcus is using a blaster carbine he haven't notice before.
"Where did you get that..?" he asks but cuts off his words when he notices the skiff had dumped much weaponry down their side of the dune. Picking up a heavy blaster rifle, Sallus gets back in position and starts firing back, "This is more like it." Froya's and Sallus' accurate and covering fire slows down the attackers. The fight keeps up as they keep the attackers at bay despite returning fire and explosions about them which threw up sand around and upon them.
Finally the source of the arching firepower comes into view as a tank moves smoothly around a wrecked tank on its repulsorlift engines. Froya and Sallus look at each other, knowing their guns will not even hurt it. She does a double-take to behind them and asks as she shoots back, "Can you get me that missile launcher there?"
Turning his head to where she pointed at, he sees among the pile of spilled munitions a rocket launcher. He scrambles for it and brings it back to her. She takes the launcher and with professional calm and focus she aims then fires it. The missile swirls as it streaks towards the tank then hits it in a great explosion. The tank tilts to its right side then plows into the sand becoming another one of the tank ruins in the area.
A silence falls upon the firefight after the tank goes down then burns and pulses brightly giving off a thick column of smoke. Lomcus, Sallus and Froya nearly hold their breaths as they wish beyond hope that it is over. A few tense seconds pass all in silent then to their chagrin the firefight starts anew with the appearance of two tanks. Before Sallus could scramble to find more missiles for the launcher, the nearest tank blows up suddenly. Then he and others notice shuttles and attack crafts swarming from out the sky.
Sallus notices these newcomers having different color schemes and symbols on their vehicles but at least they are shooting at the attackers. Froya turns to him with a big smile, "My reinforcement!!"
As the attackers scatter and the other tank is destroyed as well, NDF shuttles land and release troops and vehicles which spread out to secure the area and pursue the attackers, supporting their attack crafts. One particular shuttle lands and releases large number of troops then a high-ranking officer from the looks of it. Froya gets up and walks quickly to them. The troopers leave her alone as they seem to recognize her. She talks with the officer as Sallus and Lomcus stands there with their weapons lowered, wondering what would happen to them now. Froya and the leader talks on quickly while most of the soldiers move out, spreading out to patrol the area as well as enter the facility. The solders who stayed to guard also keeps watch on Lomcus and Sallus, not out of hostile intent but alertness.
The leader stops talking with Froya then walks up to Sallus and Lomcus. With a friendly smile he shakes both Lomcus' and Sallus' hands. "Froya tells me I have you two to thank, "he says, "for this unexpected but welcome break through of our investigation of the Jurile. While my troops take care of the rest and secure the area, let's go inside and continue." He leads them inside then into a side room as more solders move out throughout the facility.

Sitting back on in his chair just outside a cafe sipping some honiu juice, Sallus relaxes as he thinks about the turn of events since they found the vault and fought off a force of the Jurile Syndicate with the help of the NDF. Now he is here in this Narl city as Lomcus' crew continue their trading after secretly loading the treasure from the vault. He pauses a bit as he enjoys the drink. Froya had told him about this native fruit and suggest he try it. He smiles wider as he recall that back at the vault as Lomcus ship was being loaded up in the vault's hanger bay. He had found Froya turning some remote office into temporary quarters. There they had spent time together releasing some tension from the stress of the earlier fights. He grins wider at the fun memory.
Looking up he can see Lomcus approaching him to seat opposite of the table from him. "How is it going now?" Sallus asks.
"Nearly done with the trading here then it is off to another world," Lomcus answers.
Sallus talks softer now, leaning closer, "How about the treasure?"
Lomcus can't help but to smile, "It is secure and safe. But inventory will take a while now. That will take a lot of my time for this trip."
"I don't get why the NDF let us go with all that treasure in return we keep its location secret and take no more claim of the facility"
"Well.." Lomcus pauses and gets more serious, "from all I've seen and gather is that we only got a some of the treasure.."
"But," interrupts Sallus, "We empty all the vaults"
"There seems to be an extensive and vast library there as well. Information can be worth even more many times. I think that is why. Plus this was the best scenario for us in that situation," he pauses to gather his thoughts then speaks a little louder to Sallus, "But that is not what I am here for. I know you've been looking to find a way back to your home. I've been keeping my ears open to any clues to that. I have come into knowledge of an exploration and surveying cruise being launched from here. It is not going to the exact spot your ship had came from but it would be in the general direction. I am not sure how far they are exploring but I figure this would be a good chance for you. If they come across a place of your area of the galaxy, you can find a way home. I can get you in to the crew. What would you like to do?"

In the exploration ship, Sallus sits in a small room compiling surveying results together. He is glad of the experience on the Queen Gem which has given him the skills to do this well. Sighing inside, he recalls his time on the Gem. Even now he has no idea if anyone else survived from that ship. Nor is he sure if this present ship will head into space he knows. Focusing, he goes back to his work.
Finally finishing the his work, he leaves the room and walks down the hallway. He didn't take but just a few steps and the ship rocks. {Not again... wait, this is different} He then hears several distant thuds as something hits into the ship hull in several distant spots both behind and in front of him. {Boarders} He then hurries as the ship sirens are already calling for general quarters with one hand on his holster blaster. He begins to hear in the distance blaster fire, shouts and cries as well as some mysterious noise. The mystery of that noise is quickly revealed as a couple grenades roll from a side corridor then one other from behind him, all starting to release a green gas.
Spotting some masked armed people coming around the corner, he pulls out his blaster and starts to shoot, knocking down 2 surprised pirates down. {No choice but to go through} Covering his mouth, he runs through the gas, firing back at the shocked pirates knocking one then another down. A pirate he didn't see rammed into his side almost knocking Sallus over. Feeling his blaster knock from his hand and his eyes getting itchy and foggy, he kicks this newcomer, breaking that pirate's leg. The other pirates now pounce on him, kicking and punching him. He finally falls down on his side as the gas affected him. They keep kicking him till finally one hit him in the head with the butt of his blaster rifle, knocking him out.

In the darkness seconds stretch into years and years into seconds. Sallus isn't sure if he is dead or alive or something in between. Slowly at first he begins to wake up for brief periods, each time a little longer and each time his vision gets better. Every time he wakes up he can tell a female is looking over him. Finally at one point, his vision clears enough to see her well. "A Togruta? I must be in home space. Lamaria must been a dream" he thinks.
She smiles at him as she brushes a damp cloth across his forehead. She frowns slightly as if reading his thoughts. "I am afraid you are still in Lamaria I believe or so they tell me." she says.
Realizing he had talked out loud, he tries to sit up but stops as he feels the pain all over him and she holds her hand up to tell him to stop. Staying sitting up with one hand to his aching bandaged stomach, he asks, "Where am I? What happen? Last time I remember I was on a ship being attacked by pirates."
"The Killer Moons. A vicious group of infamous pirates here. They brought you here all beaten up and I've been taking care of you since."
"Togrutas also live in Lamaria?"
"No, I am consider very much one of a kind alien. My name is De'ev. Long before this I served on a medium freighter as a navigator. Then we were taken by the Star Eaters. I was sent from one area to another. I am not sure how many times I was traded off. Before I knew it, I was placed here."
Sallus recognizes the name Star Eaters. It is an vicious pirate group in the Mid and Outer Rim lead by the infamous Houk pirate captain Angror. {Well this also means there are known routes between Lamaria and known space,} he thinks {Probably trade secrets but still the possibilities are there}
Sallus hardly recovers when the pirates put him to work in the mines along with the rest of the slaves, including De'ev. Even as he is forced to work, he secretly notices the guards' routines as well as the security. He thinks and plots an escape plan as he has no plans to stay here. He even notices one of the pirate officers is wearing his blaster pistol. He takes notice as he plans to get it back before escaping.
Despite being kept indoors and working again and again in the mines, he plans and plots his escape carefully, buying his time. Finally he spots his chance. Most of the Killer Moons left on a voyage for raiding ships or settlements as it seems to be usual, leaving a small crew behind. As he is lead to his cell, he sees his time when his guards are distracted as usual by banter from fellow guards. That moment is all he needs. He lunges into the newest guard, stealing his blaster pistol and vibro-knife. He shoots the same guard in the chest as he stabs the next nearest guard with the knife through the chest. Leaving the knife in the fallen guard's chest, he starts to shoot one guard then the next.
{Be quick} he thinks, shooting carefully and quickly, {Can get overcome..} His thoughts interrupt as a guard pulling out a blaster falls down which he didn't shoot. To his surprise he sees it is De'ev, shooting with a blaster she had gotten from a fallen guard. To his surprise the fellow slaves around him start to join in this uprising, something he never thought of. Not willing to lose an advantage, he tells a fellow slave to use the key cards off the guard to free the others as well as they take up arms.
With the added goal of freeing fellow slaves, he rushes down the hallways followed by freed slaves now armed from fallen guards. He comes to the mines flanked by De'ev and others. The foreman calls out to them. Of the humanoid frog race called Sordyt, this cruel, abusive and sadistic foreman is hated the most. As the foreman goes for his electro-whip to punish him, Sallus shoots him dead. As he falls back with a face frozen in shock, Sallus thinks, {I rather listen to some Gamorrean love poems in their language than listen to more of your babble.} Then slaves cheer and stop mining. As they are freed, they quickly gather what weapons they can as well as overtake the guards left.
Going through the rest of the base followed by a whole mob of freed slaves, Sallus can see how right his observation is. The only pirates now in the base are dead, gravely wounded or imprisoned now. The vast majority of the pirates are out on the hunt. Still he hurries to the hangar bays, knowing the rest of the pirates could arrive within a hour or two at the earliest. Luckily one of the slaves spots a corvette still parked. "Make sure everyone gets on and tell me such," he says to one of the slaves whom took a leader role, "I'm heading to the bridge." He hurries inside, glad to find it empty of occupants. He finds the bridge and gets in helm followed by De'ev and 4 others whom seem to know their way on such ship.
Halfway through the start-up, he sees the signal that all are on board and the ramp is shut. Letting go of the breath he didn't know he was holding, the ship takes off and out of the hangar bay. It flies over a beautiful forest landscape, the first time he has seen the surface of this planet. It rose into the sky into space like a home-sick star dragon. As it flies from the planet and out of its orbit, Sallus turns to look at De'ev, "Put in a jump to the nearest safe system." Seeing her expression as she looks at the navicomputer, he realizes like him she has no idea of the systems in Lamaria. One of the other slaves moves to her navigator post and points at it, helping her, "There. The Goruta system will be very safe from the pirates and it is close." She nods her head and puts the coordinates in. Within a minute the corvette jumps into hyperspace with much cheering from all on board.
As the corvette flies through hyperspace carrying its passengers to freedom, Sallus makes his way to the captain's cabin which seems to be close to the bridge. Much to his surprise, he finds De'ev already there getting ready for a much-needed nap. Noticing she has found some blankets, he gets one then lays down for a nap.

As the ship flies out of hyperspace, Sallus and De'ev are already in position on the bridge. Before them, Sallus could see a planet with a quite active space traffic even from this distance. As they begin to fly towards the planet, a message comes over the comm to stand down and prepare to be boarded. {Wait, we are escaping} he thinks then realizes, {Oh this must be a known pirate ship} Noticing several system patrol ships heading their way, they slow their corvette to a stop and breathes deeply to prepare for boarders from law enforcement.

(continue in part 3)
#13809293 Jul 07, 2018 at 12:43 PM · Edited over 3 years ago
11 Posts
Escorted by a police officer, Sallus is lead from the depths of this police station into the commons room. After the Gorutan police board the corvette, he, De'ev and fellow ex-slaves were taken in and separated. Though he was held in a cell and give a few intense questionings, they never were violent nor cruel to him. Soon they lead him to the main desk and to his delightful surprise, he is handed his belt with his holstered blaster.
"Sorry for the stay," the senior officer says, "We had to make sure none of you were pirates trying to escape. Now you are free to go"
"I told you everything even the base," Sallus says as he puts on his belt with blaster.
"Oh yes and we sent a task force there. We were able to catch the pirates on the ground and capture the base along with most of the group. We also captured much from their computers. Thanks to you and your friends"
"How about De'ev the Togruta. What happens to her?"
"Who? Oh that lady of an unknown species. Togruta you say? Mmm.... Well we let her go hours ago and you are the last of the group to be let free. Last I heard she got a job on some ship." he pats Sallus's arm, "You did a fine job freeing them all and coming here with such a lead on the Killer Moons. It is very much appreciated. They been wanted for a long time now. Wish you well in what you do"

Walking through the busy common room, Sallus decides to get outside to clear his head and think what what to do now. He slows down to a stop as he hears his name calling out from behind him and getting closer. {Strange} he thinks as her turns around, {Who would know me?} To his surprise he sees Ocajar heading to him, calling out his name.
Patting Sallus' shoulder, Ocajar smile, "So it is really you that I been hearing about. Glad to see you are alive and well"
"Hearing about me?" Sallus asks, stunned.
"Oh yes, a good number of the slaves you rescued have been telling their stories here and there. Each crediting you with the rescue. I overheard several of them. So I came here to see if it was really you. I was here meeting up with Lomcus"
"Lomcus is here?"
"No, he left the planet to continue his business trip shortly before I heard about you. What are your plans now?"
Sallus pauses as he thinks, realizing he have no idea what to do now. He answers slowly, "I have no idea."
Patting Sallus on the shoulder, Ocajar leads him out of the station, "I am on a hunting trip. Would you like to join me?"

Ocajar's ship is a Stellar Eagle-class shuttle named Hunter's Mate. The Stellar Eagle class is similar to the Starcat but smaller and with a delta wing with its outer halves angling down. On board Sallus switches out of his worn-out clothes as a slave to a hunter's outfit Ocajar gave him. On that hyperspace jump to their destination, Sallus sleeps better than he had in a long time.
Soon they land on the jungle planet of Hantac. Besides its few cities, the Hants live in scattered towns and villages, feeling at home in the vast lush jungles. Ocajar and Sallus treks through part of the jungle passing by a river that lazily snakes its way. Sallus follows Ocajar as he keeps quiet but very alert, finding their way deeper and deeper. He is glad this time he is carrying a heavy hunting rifle as well as his pistol and a few knives. He finds himself enjoying this. Just hunting. No war and no slaving.

Sallus looks ahead at Ocajar as he seems to looks for tracks and sights for some prey that Sallus is not sure what it is. They have already hunted several animals successfully. Mostly for food as well as training for Sallus as Ocajar seems to have hunting to the point of an art form. Some of their kills they have given to nearby villages in barter for various supplies and information.
After some hours, he watches as Ocajar stops to study some tracks on some nameless animal trail in middle of the jungle. Seeing that the master hunter seems to be quite interest in this set of tracks, Sallus draws closer to get a look as well. While he is nowhere as good a hunter, he can see the tracks are from some large feline. Ocajar turns to face him with a big smile and nods his head. In silence they begin to set traps as part of an ambush.
Time passes and the light through the thick canopy starts to dim as the afternoon turns towards evening. Sallus stays still in his camouflaged position, holding his rifle firmly as he peers out to look for a big cat. Though he couldn't see him, Sallus knows Ocajar is somewhere to his right very well hidden.
He pauses as he hears a slight noise and some movement along the trail. Keeping his gun ready, he carefully watches any sight of what this might be. He aims with his gun then follows some movement through the thick vegetation towards his right. Unable to even pinpoint where this is exactly, he holds his fire. He then hears a crash through the plants as well as blaster fire and a shocked cry from Ocajar.
Still aiming he sees nothing and hears no other sounds. Then to his shock a large blackish cat seems to materialize right out of thin air coming out of the vegetation. Reflexively he fires but the shot goes wide. Still his semi-dodge causes the claws to go by him but the cat rams into Sallus knocking him back a good distance and his rifle flying further back. Getting up he can see this big feline killing machine about to pounce on him. He pulls out his pistol and fires in hope of delaying it as he rushes to his fallen rifle. His heart beating loudly in his ears, he jumps at the rifle, grabs it and rolls further to kneel with his gun ready for this fight of his life.
To his dismay and shock he sees no sight of the cat. He moves his rifle ready to fire left and right then up to see if he can spot the cat. Puzzled how the feline disappeared so quickly when it had the advantage, it then dawns on him that there was something different. Right where he was knocked from, he realizes there is a big pile of black fur. With his rifle still readied, he moves to the side. Sure enough he spots the reason for the cat's demise. One of the eyes is blasted through deep through the skull into the brain. Collapsing to a sitting position, he paints and heaves as he realizes the life and death situation is over. {Killed it} he thinks in shock and astonishment, {All out of dumb luck}
Out of the jungle Ocajar appears with his rifle ready and very much like he came out of a rough tumble. He looks over the situation and comes to Sallus' side. Patting him on the shoulder, Ocajar starts to laugh, softly at first, "Well done, Sallus. Not the way most would like to get their kills, but it happens."
"I didn't mean to take your kill,” Sallus answers, not sure what to say, laughing too over the situation and to relieve the stress.
"Oh that's fine. It belongs to you. I will get other chances"
Sallus then realizes for the first time since he came to Lamaria, he feels no longer a total stranger. Not a native but surely not totally alone. Still he plans to find his way back home.

To Be Continue........
#13854240 Sep 08, 2018 at 10:51 AM
3 Posts
Great story Latona...entertaining and exciting! 😀
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