Chapter 1: Oc'nel


13:4:19 GrS (22 BBY)

One month went by of Extraction Team Cresh and the crew of the Agarath following rumours of Passel Argente's whereabouts. In that time, Oc'nel saw and smelled much more of the Outer Rim than he had ever wanted. From Saleucami, to Ossus, to Belderone, he found himself perched on hills, or poking his snout through windows in abandoned buildings, staring out into the streets below, providing intel to the deep cover agents on the ground.

Today, the Jedi had been given intelligence that Passel Argente was present on the Commerce Guild world of Felucia. Perched on a hill, wearing a suit of Reinforced Insulated Sheath armour, Oc'nel gazed through the morning mist of the cloud forest, towards Kway Teow Spaceport.

Jom Carver, the human deep cover agent, trudged along through the mud towards the spaceport. He wore rainproof pants and a green long sleeve shirt that covered the fire tattoos on his arms. Around the Felucian capital city of Kway Teow, brushing one's skin on a plant could spell a trip to the medcenter. The flora of Felucia was far more dangerous than the fauna.

Now for more observing, Oc'nel thought to himself as he stared down into lowlands below. The path to the spaceport was not very crowded, with most beings standing around tents and street vendor carts. Occasionally, one would shout something to Carver as he continued down the path.

All right Carver," Oc'nel said, squinting through a set of electrobinoculars in front of his helmet as he observed a change in the crowd's composition. "There are two Gossams approaching from the rear. They look harmless enough, but I suggest stepping to the side."

"Solid copy," Carver replied in a gruff mumble. The mangy greying afro'd human stepped to the side, allowing the two fast-walking Gossams to pass him by.

Oc'nel continued observing through his electrobinoculars until Carver reached the entrance to the spaceport.

As Carver wiped off his boots at the external self-cleaning station, he muttered into the channel "Crossing point of ingress now."

"Roger that, I'll keep a lookout out here," Oc'nel said professionally. Switching channels to the Agarath, their Interceptor Frigate in orbit, Oc'nel began speaking into the other channel. "Agarath, do you copy? Cresh-5 has crossed the point of ingress."

"Copy that. Agent, you gettin' any visual on the ship approaching the spaceport?" Rael Aveross asked.

Oc'nel suspected that Rael Averross's selection for this mission was no coincidence. That human was Dooku's only living former Padawan. This fact, in addition to Rael's general disorderly behaviour, contributed to a deep distrust of him. Rael Averross could be capable of anything. He could be working secretly for Dooku.

"Oc'nel?!" Averross yelled in an alarmed drawl. "Do you copy?"

Shaking his head, the Bothan snapped back into focus, realising he was daydreaming. "Yeah… I… I have visual on something." Oc'nel began tinkering with his vizor to zoom in on a ship setting down on the spaceport apron. "It appears to be a Koorivar ship."

Averross broadcast to everyone on the taskforce in his thick Ringo Vindan drawl: "A Koorivar ship is approachin' the spaceport landin' in Hangar 9. Oc'nel, Carver, get a target ID on any of the passengers."

"Copy that," said Oc'nel and Carver in unison.

"I am already at Hangar 9," Carver added. "I can confirm a Koorivar presence…"

"Excellent!" Averross yelled into the channel.

Under his RIS helmet, ears ringing, Oc'nel winced at Averross's yell.

Carver's voice came back on the channel, updating everyone on the situation. "I will hide behind some cargo crates and ID whoever comes out. I still have the tracking equipment."

A light drizzle began as the ship descended into the open spaceport out of Oc'nel's view.

Suddenly curious as to what the interior of the spaceport looked like, Oc'nel pulled out his datapad, displaying Carver's camera view on his screen. Carver was positioned behind several crates, and the hangar was only illuminated by the grey light coming from the sky. The ship had already landed.

Two Gossams, probably the two they had seen earlier, crawled into view, pushing a red solid carpet up to the ship. They scurried to the left and right as a ramp descended.

"Talk about showy…" Carver mumbled gruffly into the line as two silver B-2 Battle Droids lumbered down the steps. The camera view wobbled as he adjusted his vest. Carver's jacket-mounted camera was of Corulag origin, designed to look like a coat button.

Looking up from the datapad at the space port below, nothing on the outside had changed.

A few moments later Carver's voice whispered excitedly into the channel. "I have ID on the target. It is Passel Argente! I say again Master, it is Passel Argente."

Oc'nel looked quickly down at his datapad again to see for himself. To his surprise, the camera view was now entirely static.

"One sec," Averross muttered. "Jazal here is suggestin'—"

A female voice from the red-haired Miraluka Jedi Knight, Jazal, cut into the feed "—Begin Lekku Tau Osh on Passel Argente." The static interference on Oc'nel's end became worse but she repeated "Say again, begin long term observation of Passel Argente."

Averross said something into the channel but it was too staticky for Oc'nel to hear. Perhaps Averross and Jazal were arguing, but Oc'nel had to fix the interference.

"Is anyone else experiencing this static? My camera view is out." The Bothan began smacking his datapad, flicking it with his armoured gloves.

"Say again?" Averross voice was barely audible. "You are *STATIC*. What *STATIC* status? *STATIC* breaking *STATIC* *STATIC* *STATIC* breaking up—"

Jazal's voice cut in "The Jade has detected three heat signatures *STATIC*"

"Oc'nel ["*STATIC*"]" he could hear Carver saying something completely inaudible. A second later, all he could hear was static.

Oc'nel looked back to the spaceport and saw some Koorivars and the two Gossams enter a speeder. Those couldn't be the heat signatures they were talking about which the Jade, their assault transport, had detected.

Perhaps if they were not close enough to be seen, Oc'nel thought, then they would be close enough for him to smell. While Bothans had a sense of smell many times better than a human's, it was impossible to smell anything outside through his filtered helmet

Oc'nel lifted his helmet up slightly, opening it at the neck. He could smell the humid steamy jungle scent but, worryingly, also the musky odour of a Koorivar. His fur fell flat against his body in fear.

"Blast," he muttered under his breath before yelling in pain. Something had hit his side so hard that it flipped him on his back. He heard a rib crack.

His helmet had flown off completely and he was now looking straight up at the largest Koorivar he had ever seen. The Koorivar was at least 2 meters tall, not counting the horn at the top of his head.

Rain fell directly onto the unhelmeted Bothan's face, splashing into his nostrils and eyes. He twitched two fingers on his left hand, trying to activate his wrist-blaster as surreptitiously as possible.

The Koorivar said "Zo erz woks?" ["Who are you?"] in heavily accented, but perfectly intelligible Bothese. "Zo erz pa pagrum ta?" ["What is your clan?"]

Oc'nel was so taken aback he momentarily stopped doing anything. The Republic had instructed all personnel that if captured to inform their captors of their name and position. Oc'nel thought divulging the latter bit of information was, in this case, unwise.

Clutching at his side, he replied, in a croaky wounded voice, "Erz ko pa Itoll Oc'nel. Erz pa pagrum mo Onel," ["My name is Itoll Oc'nel. My clan is Onel."]

A slight vibration from his bracer let Oc'nel know his wristblaster was now active.

The Koorivar gasped, noticing the wrist-blaster. Rather than recoiling as most beings would have done, he took a step closer, then, to Oc'nel's complete surprise, stomped on his face with a rubber boot.

Oc'nel lifted his arm and began firing blindly with his wristblaster as he heard his own crunching bones.