Hey guys I'm sorry this chapter was delayed. I had it written and just had not had a chance to upload it. I've been getting ready for my work to start up again. Hope you enjoy.
As the rampway into the Wystoh opened, Percy stepped out, blasters at the ready. Jaina had said that there were readings around the area they landed in. Percy scanned the area, using his helmet to check in different light frequencies. He knew the Vong could hide from some types of scanners, but he was not sure if there was one that was better suited to finding them. It was almost impossible to find them through the Force too.
He glanced over towards the Stormfalcon, seeing Delta squad exit with tactical precision, followed by Ordo and Fi. Percy wouldn't admit it to the Delta's, but he was glad they were here. They were the longest living active commando team from the Clone Wars era. In fact, they had lived through the Empire days and survived defecting. In truth, these clone troopers should all be dead, but something in the formula used to extend their lives to normal, actually extended it. These soldiers were past their prime, but so were other "heroes" of the galaxy, and they were still fighting as strong as ever.
Each of the Mandalorians, once satisfied, gave a signal to each other that the area was clear, and that whatever had been here must have run off. Percy sent an all clear message to the others, and they exited their craft. Each of the Jedi, Hazel, Nico, and Thalia included, had their lightsabers ignited and at the ready. Piper was holding a large blaster rifle, an old A280-CFE if Percy was not mistaken. Percy was slightly impressed.
"Alright. We are two buildings West of our target. Jacen is supposedly being held in that building," Percy said pointing through a vine covered window, "However, he's about fifteen floors down as well."
The stealth team looked out at the city, the first time any of them were truly able to take in what they were seeing.
The Yuuzhan Vong had completely changed the look of Coruscant. No, change was the wrong word, they had started terraforming the planet. To the clone troops, the city was unrecognizable. Several structures had been torn down, while those that remained were in shambles. Vines and trees grew all over the buildings around them. Percy noticed sweat starting to show on each of the non-armored members. Percy thanked the fact that his armor was climate controlled, like the other Mandos. What should have felt like a trip to New York City, actually felt like a trip through Kashyyyk.
Percy shook his head, he had been in this galaxy for too long. Normally, he would have referred to the Amazon, but now, even New York seemed like a foreign reference to him. Maybe he would never really return home, even if he did go back to Earth.
"Percy!" Boss, the leader of Delta squad's voice rang through his helmet comms.
Percy looked over at him, "What? Sorry?"
Boss shook his head, "You're not acting like yourself. You are letting your thoughts control you. Right now you must be ramikadyc. Suvarir?"
Percy nodded, "Apologies. It has been some time since I've seen these people and they bring up thoughts I had buried. I will be focused. Oya!"
The Delta commandos each walked over and patted Percy on the arm as they made their way to the doorway. Percy felt his spirits lift some at their actions.
"You know," Jaina said from next to him, "It's kind of rude to carry on conversations the rest of us cannot hear."
Percy shrugged, "It lets us talk about things without noisy people butting in. Now you and the others follow Delta squad. Fi, Ordo, and I will bring up the rear."
Jaina nodded, "I don't remember this place being so hot."
Thalia groaned, "If I wanted to fight in a jungle I would have gone with Lowbacca to Kashyyyk months ago. Let's hurry up and get inside."
Percy shook his head, "Thals, why don't you use the Force to regulate your body temperature."
Thalia gave Percy's helmeted face a blank look. A blush slowly made its way across her cheeks. Percy realized that she had forgotten that she could do that. Thalia lowered an eyebrow at Percy, glaring at him threateningly to keep his mouth shut. Percy chuckled audibly and turned to watch their six. Percy motioned for Fi and Ordo to follow the group in and that he would be the last one in.
As Percy started through the doorway, a noise caught his attention from behind. His demigod danger sense seemed to warn him about something incoming as well. Putting his hand on Riptide, which had been infused with beskar, Percy turned and sliced the air in front of him. Laying there in two pieces was a Shamed One, a Yuuzhan Vong who did not take well to the implants put into them. Blood splattered onto Percy's armor as he saw several more coming towards them.
"GO! But stay on your guard! We have company!"
The team moved forward more tactically, weapons at the ready. Percy drew one of his blasters, a strong one that could pierce even the strongest armors, and kept Riptide in his other hand. The team moved forward quickly, not focusing on stealth as much as they had planned.
Vong soldiers came at them from all directions, Shamed Ones and actual warriors flooded into the building. If Percy were to guess, they were facing five times their own numbers of Yuuzhan Vong warriors, and a seemingly endless number of Shamed Ones and other lower caste members. They made it to the wall separating this building from the next quickly, although their path was rather obvious with all the bodies they had left behind.
"Alright give us a minute," Boss called, "Scorch! Get off your shebs and blow this wall open."
"Roger, Boss," Scorch replied. He moved up to the wall with his blasting tape ready.
"Uh, how about we speed this up," Nico suggested, "Blasting the wall will take too long."
He and Thalia stepped up side by side and ignited their sabers. The Mandalorians' eyes widened behind their helmets when they saw Nico's blade, but they kept their mouths quiet. The two demigods cut a hole into the wall, wide enough for them all to fit through two at a time.
"Well what do you know, jetiise can be good for something," one of the other members of Delta squad commented out loud.
"If you're all finished admiring the work they did, can we get a move on. More are coming, and I'd rather not get overwhelmed here of all places," Ordo called out, trying to urge the team to keep moving.
Jaina reached out through the Force, trying to find any sign of Jacen nearby. Stretching out, she could not feel anything out there.
"Percy, where did you say Jacen was located?" she asked.
Percy motioned the team ahead, however, Piper stayed behind with Percy. Ordo knew where they were going and could lead the team forward, Percy would catch up with Piper and Jaina no problem.
"Right here," Percy said as he pulled up a holo of the buildings. The holo was projected from his left gauntlet and showed where they currently stood and where they were heading. Jaina took a good look at the map and reached out through the Force again, now with a better idea of where to look.
"What's wrong Jaina?" Piper asked. She had been with Jaina long enough to know her facial features better than almost anyone.
"He's not there," Jaina whispered.
Percy turned his head towards her, "What do you mean he's not there? How do you know?"
"I can't feel his presence in the Force," Jaina replied.
Percy scoffed, "You can't trust the Force with this."
Piper raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean Percy? Have you turned your back on the teachings you had at the Academy or with Starkiller. Is being Mandalorian so important to you that you have given up a part of you?"
Jaina had turned away from the two when Percy told her not to trust the Force. Now she listened intently. She truly hoped that Percy had not given up the training he had received. He was a strong Jedi, even if he seemed more likely to walk the path of the rumored Grey Jedi when he was at the Academy.
"Wow Piper," Percy commented, "You seem to have something on your mind."
Piper rolled her eyes, "You haven't been acting like the normal you. The you that we knew three years ago."
Percy chuckled, a laugh that was void of humor, "Well Pipes, three years can change a person. However, now is not the time for this. I am a Force user, and I am Mando. I said that you cannot trust the Force here because this is Vong territory. It is difficult to tell anything through the Force when they are involved."
Piper blushed, "Oh...right."
"Piper, trust me, where you're concerned, I'm the same old Percy. My personality is just a little rougher. I spend a lot of time with soldiers or alone," Percy said. Out of the four that came with him, Percy was closest to Piper and Hazel. The three of them had gone through similar circumstances before coming here, and had grown close as drinking buddies.
Jaina turned back to the group, "Okay, I get it. The Force is weaker here against these creatures and their buildings. Call it twin intuition. Something is amiss."
Percy thought for a second, before calling over the comm, "Ordo, position?"
Static came through at first, then Ordo's voice, "Getting ready to enter the target building. Heavy resistance...FRAG OUT!"
An explosion echoed through the comm. Percy turned to Piper, "I know your Force powers are not as strong, but have you been training them?"
Piper shrugged, "Jacen had been working with me some, why?"
"Can you speed yourself as you run?" Percy asked.
Piper nodded, "That's probably the most useful thing I can do."
"Alright then," Percy replied, "Stay close and pump as much power as you can. We have to meet up with the group and bail them out."
Jaina ignited her lightsaber, Piper following suit. Jaina's blue blade and Piper's pink made Percy think of cotton candy for a split second. He put away his blaster and drew his own lightsaber. Wielding both blades, Percy would show the Vong why he was a force to be reckoned with. The three of them looked intimidating as they took off towards the group.
"Percy and those girls better hurry up!" Sev, a member of Delta squad called over the fighting.
Blaster shots impacted the wall next to him. He looked up to see what the Jedi were doing, only to see that they were locked in close quarters combat with several Vong, and were unable to deflect the bolts coming their way. He missed the days when the enemy was either a clanking droid or a cowering rebel who couldn't hold a blaster correctly. These bugs were a tougher enemy than he had fought before.
"I'm sure they're almost here," Hazel called out as she parried a strike aimed at her head. She hated the amphistaffs that the Vong used in combat. Mostly because her saber could not easily cut through it like other close combat weapons. Hazel was better at mounted combat than on the ground hand to hand combat.
"Percy has never been late to a fight because of a girl before has he?" Anakin asked.
The demigods all stuttered a bit in their fights, luckily picking up the fight quickly before they lost any ground.
"Please, Annabeth caused Percy to arrive just in the nick of time several times," Thalia responded.
Fi started chuckling as he unloaded several shots into a Vong warrior, "You think he's hooking up with his girl and the other one?"
"Aren't we trying to save the other's boyfriend?" Scorch asked.
"I thought it was Percy's girl's brother," Ordo countered.
Anakin, tired of the commentary unleashed a powerful flurry of strikes and Force energy, taking down three of the Vong, "Guys, the girl Percy is with is my sister, we are here to save our brother. Yes, he's with Piper. I highly doubt that they are hooking up right now while we are pinned down. Can we focus please?"
Nico laughed, "This is how I focus. The commentary and banter keeps me from worrying about whether or not this amphistaff is going to kill me or not."
"This kid knows how to fight," Fixer commented, "I like him."
"Fixer, you cannot take him home with us," Scorch replied, "You remember what happened the last time you brought an animal home with us."
Nico blocked an amphistaff strike while flipping off the commandos, "You guys can suck it, and by the way, we could use some fire support. I've seen like five more of these bugs enter the room."
Boss stood up and fired three grenades from the attachment on his blaster, "There, taken care of."
Nico looked over and saw three dead Vong who took the grenade blast directly to the chest. He would have smiled, except more crawled through the hall door like several roaches escaping a can of Raid.
"Guys," he called to everyone, "We might need to accept that this is futile and figure out an exit strategy."
"No! We have to save Jacen!" Anakin responded.
"Not at the cost of these men's lives," Thalia replied.
Ordo nudged Fi, "Kind of reminds you of some people."
Fi nodded, "Yea, I wish they were here right now, Dar too."
Ordo shrugged, "Bardan is not really cut out for this with that wound he has though. We do have Percy though."
"Yea, the first Jedi to really become one of us since the wars," Fi responded, reloading his blaster, "If only he were actually here though."
"Aw, Fi, you need me to take care of the mess you're in?" Percy said over their commlink.
A flash of light that looked like the color of sea foam along with steel appeared as two Vong warriors were struck down and killed. Percy stood there in his armor, flanked by Piper with blaster charged and ready, and Jaina, blue saber glowing brilliantly.
"Aim for the armpits, this group seems to be weak there," Percy told the group.
He walked forward slashing at enemies, and parrying strikes that came towards him. He felt in his element during battle like this. He may have seemed like an agent of chaos on the battlefield, but he was truthfully never more focused. Well, maybe when he was in water. However, he could tell every detail of what was happening around him, and instinctively knew when and where to strike. It helped that Bardan had taught him how to tap into the Force during a fight to gain more awareness.
It took no time at all and the extra Vong had been dispatched. Delta squad was able to return to cutting through the walls into the next building again. Percy stood in the doorway to the room they were in to cover the rest of the team, as they prepared to enter the next sector.
"We're through!" Sev said to the team.
They entered in quickly, the former clone commandos showing precision and tactics that reflected their training. The Jedi and demigods tried to act the same, but were clearly untrained in tactical building entry.
Upon entering the building, they noticed that this building had undergone far more terraforming than the previous one. Where the previous had some flora and fungus growing on the walls, this building seemed to be made up of it. They could barely see any of the metals that made up the original building.
"Fierfek," Boss complained, "It's like we are on Felucia again."
"It's just as hot," Fixer agreed.
Thalia paused, "How would you know? Aren't your suits climate controlled?"
"Yes," Ordo, explained, "However, the hotter it is the harder the suits have to work. If the suits work too hard, then they stop for a while to reset the system."
Thalia nodded in understanding, "It's difficult keeping the Force regulating our body temperatures as well."
"We used to be close to a couple Jedi," Fi responded, "They tried explaining how it all worked, but it seemed like a lot of concentration and it made Ordo's head hurt. He is a little slow."
Ordo snorted, "This from the guy with actual brain damage."
"Really?" Jaina asked.
As the clones nodded, Ordo responded, "Yea a while ago. It took time to recover, but unfortunately he's back to normal."
"Yea, but he sometimes has trouble with his numbers and letters," Percy said before turning to Fi and mock shouting," FI. CAN YOU COUNT TO THREE?"
"I can do it backwards," Fi laughed and counted, lowering a digit with each number. When he reached one he left up a particular finger which Percy had taught him and the others. Percy laughed harder, joined in with the rest who had also learned what that particular finger meant.
"Cut the chatter," Piper's worry and anticipation was starting to show more than before. She was close to saving Jacen, and she didn't want their mission to get any more screwed up.
"Agreed," replied Scorch.
The team moved quickly to an elevator shaft that Percy had indicated they could take to drop fifteen feet. They started to pry the door open, but Nico moved forward and pushed the button. Everyone turned to look at him, causing him to shrug in a 'it could work' kind of way. Nico gave them each a smug smile when the elevator door opened, allowing the team to get on.
Boss smacked Nico upside his head, "Good work, little man."
Nico groaned as the demigods snickered, even Thalia. Nico gave her a betrayed look, but she simply kissed him.
"You are kind of short," she told him, "But that's ok with me."
Fi began humming some love song that played over the holos all the time. Ordo punched him in the arm to get him to stop.
"Hey?" Anakin asked, "Why does this building have an elevator large enough to hold our entire group, including fully armored Mandalorians?"
Percy turned to look at him, "Why do you think I picked this way for us to go. I didn't know the Deltas would be here, so it's a bit more of a squeeze than I planned, but I knew there was this elevator shaft here and its size."
Anakin raised an eyebrow at Percy's armored face, "I just thought you were more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of leader. I didn't know you actually put plans together."
Percy sighed audibly, "I plan things. The plans just usually fall apart."
The elevator stopped on their floor. Percy signaled that he would take the lead. As soon as the doors opened, he burst forth with both his lightsaber and beskad. Rushing forther, Percy kept an eye out for any guards. However, to his surprise, there were none. This did not make any sense to him. They were heading towards a high profile prisoner, there should be guards somewhere. Something had gone wrong, it could not be because of the resistance they encountered. There was not enough time to pack up and move a prisoner from this facility.
They stopped in front of the door where Jacen was. Percy indicated their location and the team stacked up, ready to enter. Piper and Jaina stood right behind Percy ready to follow him in as soon as he cleared the door. Percy took a deep breath, and then kicked in the door. Thanks to the reinforced armor on his boot, and the deterioration caused by the strange plants, the door was sent flying into the room.
The team poured in, checking each part of the room to make sure there were no enemies. They saw strange torturous utensils on tables, and cages to hold prisoners. Inside the cages there were a couple of people, but they were part-way through the transformation process. It was clear that the process was not successful with them as they looked more grotesque than any of the other Vong the team had encountered.
In the center of the room, illuminated with some sort of spot light, was a terrifying looking torture device. It looked similar to a rack, although its purpose was not solely stretching a body. Based on its set up, the prisoner would be suspended upside down in the device. There were tendrils with electrodes on them sticking out of each side of the main structure. None of the demigods or Jedi had seen this before, in fact Delta Squad were scratching their heads about it too. Fi, Ordo, and Percy were all looking at each other though.
"This is the device right Ordo?" Percy asked.
Ordo nodded, "The Embrace of Pain, yes."
Ordo shook his head, "He's supposed to be here. My information said that the Jedi prisoner was kept constantly in the Embrace of Pain."
Fi raised his hand slightly, "Ordo, was your information right?"
Ordo rubbed the eyebrow ridge of his helmet, "Of course it was. Have you ever known my hacking to be unsuccessful? I always find the information I'm looking for. They must have moved him before we got here."
"Wha..what are you saying?" Piper asked.
Percy sighed, "It means that Jacen was moved. He's not here."
Like I said, my work is starting back up. I know it takes me a while to update this story, but hopefully the time between posts won't grow too terribly long. Thanks for reading.