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Panic! At the Techno Pt.1

Posted on Mon Jan 25th, 2021 @ 11:35am by Jedi Knight Enchelei Dardana & Jedi Knight Satara' Jalran & Mando'ade Zaf A'Toruk & Spacer Talon Kolani & Sage Hud Ubar & Spacer Ariadne Azanni & Ver'alor Jiani Pava
Edited on on Mon Jan 25th, 2021 @ 11:41am

Mission: Episode 1 - All Roads Lead to Nowhere
Location: Techno Union Capital Transport Remittance, Hardcell class

Restrained hand and foot to a metal chair with energy manacles, Ariadne grit her teeth for the thousandth time as electric shock coursed through her body.

"Who sent you?" asked a mechanical voice.

Ariadne laughed the laugh of sullen defeat. Another shock.

"Who sent you?" the voice repeated.

Ariadne grunted but shook her head. Nothing left but to hold out until death. Another shock.

"We can do this all day, Echani. And all night. Who sent you?"

"Your... mother..." Ariadne managed to eke out.

The next shock was triple the length of the others. "Who. Sent. You?"

Ariadne couldn't hold back a groan. The absence of the shock was almost as agonizing as the pulse itself. How long had this endured? Why couldn't she just die already?

Silence. Why were they stopping? The door to the empty isolation chamber opened, revealing nothing at first but a shadowy silhouette against the harsh light. The Skakoans did not seem to like getting their hands dirty, preferring to use droids to do their wet work.

"Hello, Echani." It was the silky voice of the man who defeated her in the duel. The Umbaran. Mun something. Mun Zuir. Crimson Dawn? Thoughts were difficult.

"Hiya." The flippant bit of sass took much of Ariadne's reserves of strength, but it was worth it.

The Umbaran came into view, smiling all the while. "Ah, it is good to see you remain as delighted as I am to be here. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to remain so for long. Our Techno Union friends were called away, so I've decided to expedite this little discovery process myself." His long, pale, slender hands slid over her face and locked onto her forehead. What began as a small tingle in Ariadne's skull began to ignite into what felt like a piercing, white-hot flame. "I won't bother telling you not to resist or you will suffer more, but perhaps a preemptive 'I told you so' will suffice."

And then Ariadne began her descent into true pain.

The commandeered Karatan shuttle landed within the docking bay of the Hardcell transport. So far, the Mind Trick was holding on the two Karata Militia pilots in the cockpit, as they didn't look twice at Lucian who was waiting to be greeted by the Skakoan envoy of the Techno Union.

He stood there on the side of the bay, hands in his pockets as he looked around the room. Once the docking procedure was complete, the ramp lowered from the side of the yacht. At the bottom of the ramp stood a dark RA-7 protocol droid flanked by two IG assassin models.

"Welcome, esteemed guest," the protocol droid said. "Please descend and be inspected for weapons. Upon successful inspection, we will escort you to Deputy Foreman Ondar."

Lucian didn't know what else to do, so he simply walked down and forward. Two utility droids indiscreetly raised his arms to shoulder level with their telescopic rods and ran wands over him in search of hidden weapons. A bead of sweat began to build up around his hairline, but Lucian kept his jar firmly set.

The utility units let out a series of beeps and whistles, which the protocol droid translated in a single word.


The IG units put their weapons at ease. Only then did Lucian let out the breath he'd been holding for the past minute. "Satisfied?"

"Yes," the protocol droid said.

"Then let's go see the deputy foreman," Lucian said with a bout of impatience.

"Let's," the protocol droid merrily agreed.

While Lucian flew into the lion's mouth, the Rancor drifted in space, blacked out and running silent, while the strike team awaited the signal. It would be surely hard to miss.

Clad now in his full armour, minus the helmet, Zaf leant against a bulkhead on the unfamiliar YT-1300. He'd travelled on ones like it before, enough to have a rough idea of the layout if not the specific modifications and so his current mood was focused, ready and a little bored.

Weapons checked long before, patience wearing thin, the Zabrak fell back on old habits and insults to pass the time.

"This rust bucket smells like festering Bantha afterbirth," Zaf complained as his glance lingered first on Talon and then shifted lazily to Jiani. "You think pretty boy is tough enough to go through with this?" He asked them both. "Seemed like he was a little wet behind the ears."

"If you don't like the smell, you're free to take a walk outside," Talon said with sarcasm in his voice. "Hell, if you need a hand with the door, I'm sure I can work the handle pretty good too..." He took a breath.

"And considering that this rust bucket is one of the newer ones off the line and designed to take a passenger on their journeys in comfort, you might want to pay her a little more respect."

Talon turned around from the console in the communal area, where he was checking that when they needed to be, all of the vital systems could be powered up at a moments notice. He didn't like the idea of just floating around in space when there were other better ways to hide, but this was the way of things for now. Knowing that Alema was in the cockpit, ready to go was also a comfort for him.

"Don't worry, he's plenty of practice operating airlocks." The helmeted Mando said with a chuckle from the Dijaric board. Even with her feet up and relaxing back Jiani was sure to project an intimidating image. Fully armoured, her dual WESTARs on her hips, rifle, and other ordinance scattered about; Jiani had cleared her place out before arriving on the Rancor, ready for a fight.

Through the cockpit and various viewports, the team aboard the Rancor watched the Karatan shuttle disappear inside the Hardcell transport. The clock was now ticking.

Zaf's grin was half sneer as he mooched across the decking from one side of the room to the other, stopping just outside Talon's immediate reach and giving the air a cursory sniff.

"I take it back, ship," he said to the space around him. "It's not you, it's your owner." Zaf let his gaze sweep about the room, then gifted Jiani a downward shake of his head as he approached her. "If only we had more time," he said, pointing at the board. "We still need to play that decider, don't we?"

He turned to follow the motion of shuttle and transport and shook his head again, this time with seriousness lined between his brows. "I got a bad feeling about this kid," Zaf muttered.

"Well, we'll never get around to it if you temp the universe like that." Jiani replied with a teasing tip of her helmet. "Although if this takes much longer I may have to take you up on a quick game. Presuming our pilots can keep us being blow out of the sky should things go to haran."

Talon moved from his position on the rear decking to the cockpit where he found Alema checking the controls and readouts in the co-pilot's seat. she looked up as Talon made his way to the pilot's seat.

"So, how's it going back there with our newest guests?" she asked quietly. Talon looked up as he flipped a couple of switches on the side panel next to him.

"We've had worst...but I'll be glad when we can be powered up again and on our way to getting Mr Azari to his destination," Talon answered. "I've been working on a faster course that crosses over some of the free hyperspace lanes that should get us there around the time he's looking for won't be easy, but I'm sure the Rancor can handle it."

"Just make sure that as soon as we've dropped him off, we fuel up and get back home, I'm pretty sure thaat the Rancor could do with a few checks that I can do in the comfort of our own hangar," Alema said as she made sure that the Rancor was drifting as expected.

"Roger that," Talon said.

The R7 and IG's led Lucian out of the docking bay and through tall, narrow corridors that were clearly designed by Skakoans for Skakoans and their spindly droids. While they walked, the R7 prattled on about the various makes and models of the Techno Union wares. It was nearly impossible to determine where the IG's were looking at any given time due to their 360-degree view, but their mechanical limbs were never far from their weapons.

"Do you find any of those specifications sound suitable to the needs of the Karatan Militia?" the R7 asked Lucian.

Lucian was startled to realize he had not been paying as close attention as he thought. "Oh... uh, sure. Sounds good."

"That is most pleasing," said the gravel-like tinny voice of a Skakoan speaking through a helm. "Time is money, and I do not afford the waste of either."

Realizing his own lapse in protocol, the droid scuttered his swift feet to one side of his master. "Introducing His Excellency Deputy Foreman Ondar to Lucian Azari of the Karatan Militia."

The mention of his real name made Lucian nervous. His identifying chain code couldn't be faked, at least not in the time and resources available to them, so he'd had little choice. Hopefully, if this went completely south, the Kel Dor's payment would be enough to buy off any repercussions. Like bounties.

"Nice to meet you," Lucian lied. "I did come for business though. So let's get to it."

Ondar regarded him warily. "It is not common for a representative to come alone without retinue or droid assistant. Such a sight makes me wonder how little you intend to purchase today."

The IG units had not so much as twitched, but Lucian could still imagine them taking swift action all the same. He needed to be careful.

"I'm not making any purchases today," Lucian said truthfully. "This meeting is to assess your current stock and make recommendations to my captain. They will take my recommendation under advisement and send a purchase order. Maybe a recurring purchase order." Hopefully, the promise of a returning customer would help allay suspicion.

"In that case," Ondar said, "I will leave you with the protocol droid who will inform me when you are ready to make a decision."

As Ondar began to turn away, Lucian saw the moment getting away from him. He began dislodging the EMP device from the hidden pocket in his sleeve -- the one he had shrouded from the droid's scans via the Force.

"Deputy Foreman?" Lucian asked.

Ondar paused mid-turn and cast a weary eye on Lucian. "Yes?"

Lucian dry-swallowed in his throat as he primed the device for imminent detonation. Why oh why did he have to be flanked by IG units? "I have another offer."

"Which is?"


Pushing out with the Force, Lucian tossed one IG unit into the other with enough momentum to dent the bulkhead. In the same instant, he flung the EMP device straight for the master controller embedded in the deputy foreman's armour. Force-assisted, the impact knocked Ondar onto his back and sent him into convulsions as his armour began to shut down along with the master controller for the entire droid army inside the Hardcell.

Unfortunately, the IG units were sentient droids which operated on their own programming. They regained their bearings and their footing in no time. Before Lucian could celebrate his direct shot against the deputy foreman, he found himself under fire. If not for the Force barrier he threw up against the IG units, they would have shot him to the ground.

"Druk!" Lucian shouted. He couldn't keep it up forever, so he ran for the nearest door. The IG units were quick on his tail, for the hunt was on.

Outside the Hardcell, space was lit up by an arc of yellow lightning that seemingly came from nowhere. It struck a particular section of the Hardcell that was halfway between the hangar and the bridge.

"Ok, that can't be good, surely?" asked Talon as he saw the arc of yellow lightning that seemingly came from nowhere and strike a particular section of the Hardcell that was halfway between the hangar and the bridge.

Looking at Alema, Talon then looked back at the entrance to the cockpit. "Hey kids, there's a fantastic light show that just started out there!" he called out.

A couple of droid starfighters broke away from the transport and began to listlessly float away.

Seeing the droid starfighters float away, Talon looked over at Alema. "That's the signal, fire up the engines, we're going in," he said, adjusting the angle of the Rancor on thrusters before the engines kicked into life.

Aiming the YT-1300 freighter for a docking port nearby, Talon piloted the ship on max thrust, deftly making slight adjustments as he got closer to the mark. Once the ship was close enough, Talon killed the engines and turned the ship using its inertia and thrusters to decelerate and attach to the docking collar securely.

"That's it, we're locked on!" Talon yelled back to his passengers.

Jiani grinned under her helmet, nodding to Zaf to open the boarding hatch, the Rancor's doors sliding open to reveal the still closed seal of the Hardcell's docking hatch. With practised ease the Mandalorians worked to attach the Merr-Sonn breaching charge to the heavy durasteel hatch, both stepping aside and activating the sonic dampeners in their armour. With another nod, Jiani hit the detonator, and in seconds the doors the hatch were blown aside and pieces sent flying down the docking collar into the vessel. Were anyone not in armour nearby the explosion, their ears would be ringing for a week, were they do survive the Mandalorian assault that is.

Tossing a flash-grenade down the corridor, Jiani waited for the telltale shock reverberating off her armour's sensors before turning the corner. Relby in hand she advanced through the docking hatch, the droid army aboard this ship might have been disabled but the Hardcell would still house an impressive crew compliment. Not a very skilled one, but even the dregs of the Galaxy might get lucky with a heavy blaster. "Which way to the detention centre, Zaf?" She spoke softly, calmly into her comms coming to a split in the passage.

There was a rhythm to their actions that Zaf had to admit he missed when working solo, but he definitely wasn't ever going to fess that up out loud. It worked, and right now that was all that mattered. Jiani didn't need the ego boost any more than he wanted to offer it. He grunted his general dissention to life, the universe and everything and nudged both an upward nod and his blaster to the right side of the split.

He took the lead then, picking up the pace as his helmet's internal display called out a few warnings. Heat signatures up ahead.

"Ready for a real fight, Little Jiani?" He threw back over his shoulder.

Jiani tilted her helmet to the side, effectively raising her eyebrow at the question. "Always." Covering down the corridor to make sure no one came up behind them, the young Mandalorian waiting for the Hardcell crew to try and ambush them. Moving slowly up to the junction she pulled another grenade from her belt, thumb just sliding over the activator waiting for Zaf's go. Once they initiated contact the fight would become quite kinetic, the pair of Mandalorians moving constantly, methodically to clear the way to the detention area.

From that point, Zaf didn’t look back but trusted that Jiani had theirs covered. He didn’t waste time internally questioning her motivation or loyalty, accepting that their contract here was mutually convenient, if temporary. So far, no immediate threat presented itself, but that would only be the case for a real short time. He wanted to cover as much ground as possible in those precious seconds.

Deprived of their army of battle droids, the Skakoan crew of the Techno Union transport began scrambling together a defence against an unknown enemy. With such gaping vulnerabilities, it became clear as to why the Separatists often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Without the Deputy Foreman and his master controller unit, it was pure chaos aboard the Hardcell.

That didn't stop armed Skakoans from challenging the rescue team's progress. A pair of Skakoans opened fire.

Zaf wasted no time in hesitation or debate but fired back. His first shot was a little low, but the follow-up found Skakoan face even as he felt the impact of the opposition's energy blast at his shoulder. The Zabrak rolled with the punch of the hit to his armour and kept firing, laying down enough cover for Jiani to make a move of her own.

Taking advantage of Zaf's diversion Jiani was already moving the other direction. Laying down some fire of her own, Jiani almost giggled as she felt the kick of her Jetpack's thrusters firing, sending the Mando flying across the room and onto the flank of the two guards. Gaining an unobstructed sight of the hapless guards giving them little chance to even react before she cut them down, lances of superheated plasma ripping through their armour.

Pressing their advantage Jiani took the lead into the next space, her armour easily deflecting clumsily aimed shots from the Skakoan crew. For now, even the crew's superior numbers didn't give them the advantage against a pair of highly trained Commandos. Jiani of course knew that was only temporary, if the crew managed to get their droids back online this small raid could become a full on fight.

Zaf didn’t bother to fly into the fray, but fired up his wrist projector on his left side and strode purposefully behind Jiani, picking up on anyone she missed. A couple of hiding places were routed out, his EE-3 carbine making short work of anyone daring to show their faces and a few who attempted to flee. It was safer, and far easier, in the Zabrak’s mind, to do a thorough job up front and leave no one behind seeking vengeance. Besides, he had no idea how long the droids would be down.

While Jiani busied herself up ahead, Zaf dragged a Skakoan ten metres out from behind cover by the lazy application of a directed fibrecord. There was no visible facial expression to greet the guy dragged into harm’s way and a swift death, merely the reflection of his own fear in the shine of his killer’s helmet.

When they finally breached the detention center, the Mandalorian pair was greeted by a small army of battle droids and a large mech-suited warrior. None of them reacted on entry, standing stock still. The droid heads were lowered, indicating they were deactivated.

"Freeze!" shouted the mech-warrior. Behind his transparent face plate was the gigantic eye of an Abyssin. The leftward arm cannon rose on his suit and energized, preparing to fire. "You will be detained or you will die."

At that moment, one of the side doors was ripped apart in a surge of unseen energy. Lucian bolted through it, head tucked low to dodge the blaster fire that followed in his wake. Soon, two IG assassin droids appeared hot on his tail. Recognizing that he had finally found allies, Lucian threw up a Force barrier and shouted, "Shoot them!"

Everyone seemed to take the call as an order for their side. Red, and yellow blaster bolts started to fly around the small space, Jiani once again taking advantage of her jetpack to remain mobile and not give the droids a chance to get a good target on her.

The large cannon that comprised the mech's right arm tried but failed to keep pace with Jiani's flight pattern. Large carbon scoring dotted the internal walls of the detention area. Several panels were blown free from their fixtures.

"He'll kill us all!" Lucian shouted as he barely kept the IG droids at bay with his limited if powerful Force skill.

In the apparent chaos of wild blaster fire, whirling jetpack flight and Force use, Zaf was a source of steady calm. His first move was to offload an upwardly thrown linked delivery of smoke bomb and two frag grenades in the specific direction of the IG-88s. The short automatic timer ensured the smoke dissipated first (in flight) followed swiftly by the double delivery of focused explosions. Zaf hadn’t waited to see how that panned out, a flying Jiani the perfect focus for their wrath.

The Zabrak took full advantage of his fellow merc’s display, ignoring Lucian as he took an alternate direction. Down low rather than up high and counterclockwise, Zaf aimed for the blindspot of the suited cyclops.

Seeing the screen of electrostatically charged smoke, Jiani redirected her flight path to take her right through the concealing barrier. Letting loose with a burst from her Relby she grinned hearing the simulated cry from one of the IG units. Not wanting to break her momentum, she keyed up the retro-rockets on her Jetpack slowing her speed just enough to land and skid across the deck to end up on the other side of the smoke the other IG unit still focused on Paploo.

Zaf's lack of a smile was hidden behind his helmet as he curve-rolled a concussion grenade across the decking, then jinked in the opposite direction to plant a sticky explosive on the rear of the big mech suit. That done, he initiated his jet-pack and slunk upwards and right at full speed, turning his feet into the motion to plant them on the side of the distracted IG unit even as he hit the detonator for the sticky. Up close and personal as they both hit the ground, Zaf traded fire, his EE-3 close against the joints in droid's armour, the IG's blaster fire testing the limits of the Zabrak's non-Beskar plating.

Sound literally exploded in the confined space then with the definite potential to make unprotected ears bleed as the mech's unwanted charge detonated.

Mechanical parts blew in every direction, embedding shrapnel in much of the exposed bulkhead. One of the IG units was decapitated by a piece of shrapnel which pinned its severed head to the wall. With the mech-fighter and one of the IG units out of commission, Lucian felt a rush of relief.

"Go on!" he shouted to the Mandos. "Get the girl! I'll take care of the last one."

Cupping his hands together, he surrounded the remaining IG unit with as much Force energy as possible and began crushing.

Already moving, Zaf ignored the spikes of pain chiming in to his brain - he'd deal with the shrapnel shards later - and pushed forward into the cell block where their quarry rested uncomfortably. Shackled, metal to metal, he could see the slender ashen and white-haired minx was alone, her tormentor no doubt busy elsewhere right now, as planned. "Watch our backs," he grunted in Jiani's direction.

"Got it, go! I'll hold here." Jiani called to Zaf as she turned the sharp crack of her Relby reverberating down the long corridor as more of the crew tried to push on her position. "

Inside the detention center they found a row of cells, one of which contained an Echani woman tied to a metal chair. The bruises around her eyes and mouth made her look like she'd gone twelve arounds against a Wampa. Looking up, her puffy, blackened eyes strained to focus on who approached.


"Keep still," Zaf ordered gruffly. Systematically, he smashed each metal cuff with a beskar fist and then reached down to heft the pale and tortured female up and over his shoulder. "I'm gonna carry you out," he told rather than asked her. "Faster exit."

At first Ariadne just groaned. When Zaf tossed her over his shoulder, though, the jostling brought her back to awareness. "Escape pods," she said weakly. "Jettison... no authorization... needed..."

"Quiet," the Zabrak told her, moving swiftly back out into the wider space. His right arm held her against him as closely and tightly as he could manage.

"We've also got our escape ship, Rancor should be at the hangar by now," Jiani suggested as Zaf joined her at the security station. A fair number of the crew lay in the hatch, none of them having made much progress against her.

"Hangar's this way," Zaf indicated with a nod of his helmet, his T6-Thunderer in his left hand ready in case of trouble. "Let's move." He took off at a run, trusting Jiani to keep pace and saving the jet-pack in case they met trouble between A and B.



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