Chapter 2: Pax


One minute earlier...

In a transport called the Jade, Extraction Team Cresh moved as fast as possible to Oc'nel's hill aboard the Jade. Slightly larger than a Republic LAAT, the Jade was a Sienar-Chall Utilipede. Originally painted red and white, they had repainted it an ugly sandy brown.

Zuro Pax, the blue-skinned Duros, led extraction team Cresh. The other three members of the Extraction team were Awerl, a huge reddish brown-furred male Wookiee specialising in grab and go, a female Gand named Driffu, and a green-coloured male Rodian with blue spines named Brent Fojo, their medic.

Also aboard Jade were the pilot and co-pilot, Rama Stunol, a female Duros, and a female Twi'lek named Lanya Pran.

All of Team Cresh were wearing armour lacking any Republic markings, except for the Wookiee. The Wookiee wore nothing aside from rubber parasite-proof boots and a thin plastic one-eared headset which set awkwardly on his fur. The howling wind blew in from the open hatch, ruffling through his fur.

["Do you think I am annoying? Do you think I am more annoying than Averross?"] growled Awerl in Shyriiwook, as if he knew Pax was thinking about him.

Pax muted his helmet's internal mic so no one on the Agarath could hear. "No, I don't think you are more annoying than Averross," he replied, realising he must have been staring at Awerl.

As the Jade circled around the hill Oc'nel was on, Pax could see one figure standing near the Bothan, who was prone in the greenery. Three other figures were wandering around the bottom of the hill with what appeared to be scanners. The area around the hill was dense jungle, but the jungle had been cleared from the hill and from around the spaceport.

Pax saw one figure whack Oc'nel with a polearm.

"Oc'nel is under attack! Permission to engage the targets on the hill?"

"Yeah, hit 'em hard," Averross ordered.

Jazal's voice came urgently through the channel to everyone "Be sure to use non-lethal force! The Commerce Guild has seceded from the Republic and no longer recognises our authority. Killing their personnel could be seen as an act of war." Jazal then added in a speech-giving tone "We are here to arrest Separatist leaders who have committed crimes against the Republic, not wage war against the various corporate guilds or drag the Republic into a war with them."

Pax was the first one out of the transport, followed by Awerl, the Wookiee, who landed on the muddy ground with a splash.

Averross's voice unsurprisingly came next, as if to one-up Jazal and remind them who is boss. "Remember, we can go down there and whack a few of 'em with our lightsabers, but if we do, then everyone on the planet knows the Republic was here, and that the Republic attacked them. I need you blaster brains to get this done."

The Extraction team was running fast to the hill. They now could see that the figures were Koorivar.

"Everyone," Pax said frantically "Switch to the team channel!" He switched channels on his headset and could no longer hear the Jedi giving advice.

Awerl growled angrily into the channel in Shyriiwook "Yedai mauuwhal rrashrakrrykap nyrr! AYE AWEROSHHHH GA GRRRRUPMPRRR!" ["The Jedi need to get rid of him! DAMN AVEROSS IS ANNOYING!"]

Pax agreed with Awerl's complaints for once, although he wouldn't have voiced them himself. "Master Nerf Herder annoys me too, but we have to ignore it and be professional. We are going to try and do this non-lethal." While running, the Duros removed the lethal slug ammunition from the bottom of the slug thrower, put the lethal ammunition in his cargo pocket, and popped in an ammunition cartridge coloured green for non-lethal. "I am going to hit those Koorivar with plastic slugs if I have to, the rest of you set your blasters to stun! My rounds are non-lethal, but they can sometimes cause damage."

"Roger that!" the two other basic-speaking members of the team, Fojo and Driffu, said in unison.

As they advanced up the hill, the static interference intensified. All of the Judicials were in earshot of one another, so that did not really matter, however they had no way of contacting the Jedi in orbit.

The Koorivar nearest to Oc'nel seemed to stomp onto his face, and they could see blaster fire going from Oc'nel's wrist into the Koorivar over him. That Koorivar collapsed, and the other Koorivars in the middle of the hill began running up towards the sound of blaster fire.

"Everyone, double time! Weapons free!"

Running from the bottom of the hill, the Judicials were now gaining on the Koorivars, who seemed to be unaware that four individuals were now in pursuit.

Pax did not have to fire a shot. As the Extraction Team cleared the crest of the hill, stun blasts emanated from the blasters of Driffu, Fojo, and Awerl. The Koorivars collapsed to the ground, engulfed in blue rings.

The scene was a mess. The largest Koorivar was laying on top of Oc'nel, and both of them were laying on top of a puddle of blood. The Koorivar was clutching at his stomach, struggling to get up.

"Who are you! What are you doing here?" he grunted in a pained voice.

"Oc'nel! Can you hear me!" Fojo said urgently as he worked to pull the Koorivar off.

Awerl approached and pulled the Koorivar off with one arm, dropping him next to Oc'nel. He then began patting the Koorivar down, grabbing electronics, various knives, and a pistol from the Koorivar's pockets. The Gand had her blaster aimed at the Koorivar, covering Awerl. The Koorivar was visibly angry but did not dare resist the Wookiee's search.

Oc'nel raised one hand and let out an incomprehensible gurgle as if to answer Fojo's question, then began coughing.

Awerl separated the electronics from the blasters and knives.

"One of those must be a jammer. Smash everything until the interference stops!" Pax yelled.

The Koorivar protested as Awerl frantically stomped on every one of his electronics. "Hey those are expensive! Those are all property of the Corporate Alliance and you will be held liable!"

The interference stopped once Awerl crushed something that looked like a scanner wand.

"Never seen a jammer that looked like that. Switch back to the general channel! We are clear." Pax said, adjusting his comm unit.

"—is anyone there? Can you hear me!" Averross's voice bellowed into the channel.

"We've secured the hill," Pax said. "Oc'nel is down, three Koorivar are stunned, and one's been blasted."

"What is the status of the casualties?" Jazal asked into the channel.

Fojo replied "Oc'nel has severe jaw injuries all along his snout, probably a crushed eye-socket, and several broken ribs…. I can stabilise his chest wounds." Fojo shifted over to the Koorivar "The Koorivar's lucky. Shot with a blaster but surprisingly, he'll make it. The shot missed his liver and passed right through his cheap Chitin armour. Had he been wearing better armour it would not have penetrated both sides. The heat would have cooked him to toast. I can stabilise him with some bacta until his friends get here, or his knocked out friends—"

"—the Corporate Alliance will kill you all!" the big Koorivar interrupted.

"Hua-yug loshgh nan nyrro warrrrgh?" ["May I step on his face?"] Awerl lifted his foot up menacingly.

"No. Awerl, you may not stomp on his face," Pax said firmly.

"Whatever you scum are planning—"

—Driffu, the Gand, shot the Koorivar with a stun blast to the chest. "Seemed like the best choice," she said through her gas mask.

Pax switched to the pilot channel. "Rama, we could use a pick-up. One for medical evac."

"I know, we've been listening to the commotion too. On our way to pick up Carver then we'll be back. One click from the—" she stopped talking. "Pax switch back to the general channel."

Pax sighed and switched.

Averross's voice was echoing once more into Pax's earpiece. "Everyone, change of mission. Carver has planted a tracker on the ship, but the Corporate Alliance will suspect something's up. All of their bodyguards just got beat up on a hill and…" Averross paused "I think we need to make this look like piracy."

"Piracy?" Jazal, Pax, Fojo and Carver said at the same time in shock.

"Yeah piracy," Averross said.

"It makes sense," Driffu, added supportively.

"You are suggesting we rob a ship on a Separatist world?" Jazal said angrily.

"We will do some damage to the airport too," Averross added in a helpful tone.

"Fojo, can you keep Oc'nel stable aboard the Jade while we do this?"

"I am not sure about his head injuries." Fojo said as he squirted a Bacta cannister into the Koorivar's stomach wound. "I can keep him alive, but the longer this lasts, the more likely we risk permanent brain damage. I would not want to wait longer than 30 minutes."

"Respectfully, Master Averross," Pax said in a cautious tone, "I disagree. We stunned the Koorivar bodyguards here and Fojo has given them medical attention. We could steal some things from the ship and the spaceport, and do a smash op on the ship, but I don't think the Commerce Guild or Corporate Alliance will believe this was piracy. The longer we stay down here, the longer our risk of exposure."

"He's right," Jazal's said. "There are only four of them and the Jade, assuming Fojo remains behind with Oc'nel. If the local security forces or droid response teams attack, they will be outnumbered with no backup and air support from only one ship." She paused for a moment then reasoned "they also were jamming Oc'nel. That means they knew he was transmitting to somewhere, and the Commerce Guild or Corporate Alliance may have tracked our position."

As the two Jedi continued lecturing each other, Extraction Team Crash began getting restless. Pax decided to switch to the pilot channel and call for the ship. Whether Jazal wins the argument, or Averross does, we still need to be on the Jade.