Orak was bored to say the least. This city was interesting, and there were so many species he could devour, but unfortunately the vast majority were of an inferior genetic stock, to many weaklings who enjoy the relative comfort of city life. Very few would be considered warriors, and as such Orak had little variety when it came to absorbing genetic combat prowess. For Orak, a member of the Kroot species, the inhabitants of this world, Coruscaunt, were nothing more than junk food.
From his vantage point in an abandoned skyscraper overlooking two distant dome structures collectively referred to as the senate, he could literally smell all the meat below him. None of it was that appealing. For Kroot absorbing the genetic strengths of an enemy was how his species had evolved and how they thrived. Orak himself had done fairly well for himself in such regards. At full height, he stood at 8 feet tall, and his body while still "wirey" and slim, was ever so slightly bulkier than the average Kroot. His skin, which normally was roughly a light olive green in color, had over time taken a slightly pink coloration to it, due in no small part to the number of humans he had devoured. His large yet stubby beak was marred with chips and scars from countless battles, yet still he sharpened it so as to ease his devouring of his foe's remains. From the back of his skull sprouted a forest of quills which was the closest thing his species had to hair. He wore a piecemeal assortment of clothes held together by leather straps, which amounted to a loincloth and various pieces of armor cannibalized together forming a rough breastplate.
He sat on the edge of an open floor in an unfinished section of the skyscraper, his back leaning against a vertical crossbeam and his right leg swinging off the side. His traditional bolt rifle lay nearby within arm's reach. He had modified it not long ago with a roughly built scope turning the crude bolt thrower into a sniper rifle. He had learned knew marksmen skills after devouring the brain of an Adeptus Astertes scout marksmen, and after gaining the skills sought to improve upon his weaponry.
As he sat there remembering his last good kill, Orak's attention drifted towards his prone partner in crime who was laying by the next closest crossbeam surveying their surroundings through the scope of a carbine length exitus sniper rifle. He was a human, Nix, and he was someone Orak enjoyed a bizarre friendship with. Ever since Orak had taken up the offer to serve Lady Inquisitor Duval, Nix had been a somewhat friendly rival, though the two often talked down to each other using derogatory and xenophobic slurs. Still of the strange assortment of killers and warriors serving Lady Duval, Nix was perhaps the most level headed, on top of being an outstanding marksmen what with him being a Vindicare and all. Such skills could prove to be useful to Orak. With the lack of quality material, he began to consider eating Nix's brain and pondered what improvements he might gain.
Nix looked up from his scope looking at the city with the naked eye. There was a frown of disapproval on his face. "Stop looking at me like that."
Orak's quills rustled at the accusation, "Look like what, human Nix?"
"That look you get when you're hungry."
Orak shrugged indifferently, "Orak, not know what human Nix be speaking off."
Nix looked at Orak with an unamused sneer.
"That's a load of bullshit, you spikey bastard."
"Fine, Orak was considering eating human Nix's mind. Make Orak stronger. If it settles human Nix's mind, Orak often absorbs consciousness of those Orak eats. Human Nix could live on as Orak."
"Yeah I could live on as a freaky bird xeno who eats people! That sure sounds fun old buddy!" Though Nix spoke in a heavy handed sarcastic way, that very sarcasm did not register with Orak.
The two sat there in silence for a moment as Orak looked at Nix unsure if the assassin was speaking truthfully.
"No damn it," Nix shot back. Orak clicked his beak in annoyance as he slouched back against the vertical I beam.
"If you're so damned hungry why don't you eat that crap you brought as a snack?"
Orak held up a thermos shaped cylinder and shook it about. Inside was chopped up brain matter along with various other bits of meat from previous kills.
"Meat not fresh," Orak replied simply.
"Ah make do ya big baby," Nix said as he went back to observing the senate buildings through his scope.
Orak, not having much of a choice at this point, resigned to eating the bits of meat he had stored. They continued to sit there observing those coming in and out of the senate structures. The Largest of the two structures rose up in a vaguely mushroom shape, and based off general information gathered, this was where the members of the Senate of the Galactic Empire convened, though based off Orak had heard on the streets, that was about to change. Since they were on a world far from the Imperium of Man where a wide variety of species intermingled, Lady Duval told her retinue to integrate and listen to the common news and gossip of the people on this planet, as any information gleaned could be useful on their mission. Orak always worked at Lady Duval's pleasure as he owed her a debt he could never repay. As such, when she told them to listen for information, Orak obeyed.
That information in this case pointed to the dissolution of this empire's government, and replacing it with something more authoritarian. Orak didn't care, nor did he think it would be useful information, but it was not his place to question, only to obey.
This new authoritarian regime, however, was mostly focused on the second dome shaped building. It was a palace of some sorts, as far as Orak could tell. Here resided the current ruler of the Galactic Empire, Emperor Sheev Palpatine. While Orak did not know what his Lady's exact purpose was in coming here, he did have the hunter's intuition to know that this Palpatine was more than likely their target. Supposedly he was this empire's savior who ended the last great war, only to start a new one with a rebellious faction. Despite his general approval amongst the people, Orak had heard many rumors about this Palpatine possessing some dark powers and evil agenda that would destroy everything. Orak like the sound of that. If they were going to face this Palpatine, Orak hoped to get the chance to eat his brain.
For now though they simply waited, and watched. Nix had been busy all night observing guard rotations and their patrol patterns. He memorized faces and looked for identifying features of all who went in, be they staff or senator, which Nix was only able to do thanks to a neural implant. Orak on the other hand was a spotter and bodyguard for Nix, but doing this all day was mind numbing. The sun was high and it was clearly past midday. In but a few more hours the sun would begin to set and it would again be night, which meant more boredom for Orak. He needed to pass the time so he started up another conversation.
"Orak has question for human Nix."
Nix sighed at the break in his concentration, "What is it buddy?"
"Human Nix confuses Orak, because of human Nix's mates. Which one has Human Nix chosen?"
Nix gave Orak a look of apprehension. Orak knew the subject would bother his friend and he took a small sadistic sense of joy in that. In this case he was referring to Nix's bizarre relationship with two female members of the inquisitorial retinue, Renn a former adeptus sororitas convinced (or conned) into Lady Duval's service and oddly enough an elder exodite Maya. Both had been brought on for their combat expertise in close quarters, Renn being a sister superior from the Order of our Martyred Lady who wielded a blessed power sword with deadly efficiency, and Maya who formerly was a banshee though had changed her aspect after some grave disgrace, and instead took up the path of exodite, eventually ending up in Lady Duval's retinue.
Nix's relations with both women was peculiar. There seemed to be something resembling love with Renn, and with Maya there was simply an arrangement in place. It could best be described that Maya occasionally had an itch which needed scratching, and Nix was the most eligible to do so.
"You're bringing this up on purpose aren't you?"
"Question still stands human." Orak pressed his beak positioned awkwardly in what resembled a cruel smile.
Nix groaned in exasperation, "Honestly I don't know. I think I pissed both of them off to be honest."
Orak clicked his beak. "Tch, you humans are too complicated. Kroot breed to survive. There is no need for one mate."
Orak was about to continue but Nix raised a hand cutting the alien off. "As fascinating as that may be. Our man is here."
Looking through Nix's scope, down at the entrance to the lower senate dome, the imperial agent Nairn could be seen walking inside. Though he walked as cool and calmly as he could there was a certain urgency to his step. Orak looked through his scope as well and examined the Imperial Agent.
"He is moving with purpose. What did human Nix say to make him so?"
"Stirred up the nest, so to speak," he said with a sense of pride "now we see how they react."
He flicked twice at the radio receiver attached to his ear. The sound of the flick over the radio waves was his signal. Two flicks signaled the plan was moving forward. He heard a flick back in confirmation.
"Alright Orak, enough small talk let's get to work. When they go on alert watch their troop deployments and mark their patrol patterns. They'll be more attentive now so let's back up a bit. Find someplace less revealing," he said indicating the relative openness of the construction site. Orak nodded in acknowledgement and the pair relocated. Now was not the time to fire. Now was the time to watch and learn.
Loaction: Deep space surrounding the Moon of Migeto
"Mr. Sharpe! Status report!" Arno shouted on the beaten and battered bridge of the Defiant. The ship was in a bad way. More than a few of the ships systems were smoldering overloaded wrecks. There were fires internally throughout the ship, and many decks were breached. Of the five ships only the Defiant and the Swift remained along with a handful of tie fighters. Behind them at some 2,000 kilometers to their stern one of the hulking ships was in pursuit. It was hardly the largest of the unidentified vessels, yet its bulk was easily that of a star destroyer, far larger than Arno's light cruiser. Closing even quicker where what passed for the massive ship's fighter compliment. They were similarly bulky, with a clear design that favored void combat. They were almost like the small armed freighters the rebel alliance was so fond of using, though these ships were purposefully designed with combat in mind. As they tried to escape Arno saw that his enemies were closing in ready to snuff out their prey.
"Mr. Sharpe!" he called again.
A dazed officer stood up from his smoldering post. Sharpe was bleeding from his forehead and appeared to be in a daze, but still functioning.
"Sir," he said weakly, "the hull is compromised in a few areas and the hyperdrive is out. We still have propulsion and the weapons are primed."
He was interrupted as a sudden shockwave shook the ship. Nearby the communications officer, Bordo, cried out in dismay. "Sir the bastards got the Swift!"
Looking out the starboard viewport, Arno saw the shattered debris of Swift showering outwards as its hull was torn apart by a massive beam weapon. Without their hyperdrive they would never be able to escape. Arno began to consider his options.
"Sir!" Mr. Borod interrupted again, "I'm receiving a weak transmission from the ground forces on Migeto! It's Lieutenant Pierce! He wants to know why we are abandoning him."
There was a violent shake as a beam weapon fired past Defiant.
"Our left engine is gone sir!" a desperate Sharpe shouted.
He was running out of options. Yet in a moment of clarity, what he needed to do became apparent to him. His crew had to survive no matter what. The question was how to save them.
"Mr. Sharpe give a general order. All hands are to abandon ship immediately."
The bridge crew looked at him dumbfounded. He knew they wouldn't want to go, so he did what he had to, to make them leave. Arno pulled out his blaster and fired a shot at Mr. Sharpe's console. Sharpe jumped back as the bolt struck the computer.
"Now damn you all!" he shouted. They listened this time hustling out to the escape pods. Sharpe lingered a moment looking back to his captain.
"I'm going to turn about and put you lot on a trajectory for Migeto, understood?"
"Yes sir," Sharpe said almost distantly. He snapped one last salute. "It was an honor sir."
"Give my regards to Mr. Pierce. Now go."
Sharpe left the bridge leaving Arno by himself. He felt horribly alone, and utterly terrified. If only he could escape as well. He turned his thoughts away from such things and instead concentrated on what must be done. He reprogramed the turbo lasers to fire automatically at his pursuers, to do what little he could do. He rushed over to the coms station and opened a channel.
"This is Captain Arno to any remaining ties in the area respond."
There was a brief static before a voice came crackling through. "This is Boggy One. Go ahead Arno."
"Boggs! We're abandoning ship! I'm launching the escape pods towards Migeto. I need you and your fighters to run escort can you do that?"
"Roger Arno, what about you?"
"I'm going to give our new friends something to think about. Be sure to hide yourselves on the moon too!"
"Roger that Arno. Good Hunting!"
As he moved back to the helm, he felt an odd sense of calm pass over him. Death felt meaningless now. Though still he could think of other places he would rather be. There was a ding on one of the still functioning terminals, and an indication sprang up showing that all the escape pods had been sealed. What remained of his crew was now tucked away and ready to launch. He took control of the vessel and made a hard turn presenting the ships underside towards Migeto. He put the ship at full thrust and lined up the trajectory. Once the angle was good he flicked a switch giving the signal. There was a series of thuds as escape pods launched out from the ship. The Tie fighters broke off from Defiant, and followed the pods on their trajectory. As if on cue, the enemy fighters broke off from their pursuit of Defiant, and started chasing the escaping Imperials. However, Arno cut them off. With what firepower he had left, he programmed his remaining cannons to fire in preprogrammed patterns, blanketing the area in front of the pursuers with lethal laser fire. He clipped a few of the smaller vessels. Even destroyed some outright. The others were forced to break off under the barrage, and Arno got to experience a brief victory. It was unfortunately cut short, as the larger capitol ship let loose with a barrage of heavy weapons. In an instant what remained of Defiant, was pulverized and shattered. Arno barely felt anything as he was vaporized by the incoming fire. Yet he bought the needed time for his crew to escape to safety. Though now safety was a relative term. As the Imperials floated towards Migeto in a slow descent, the silhouettes of the hostile fleet hung in orbit over Migeto sending chills down the spines of all who witnessed them. Though they escaped one death, the Imperial's fight for survival was just beginning.