Chapter 2: Razal Wulf

MGX-93776

The whole world fell apart as Itoll and Sey'les convulsed on the floor of the garbage speeder-truck cockpit. The air was still thick with the smoking plastic. The remnants of the radio the angry Bothan, Captain Sey'les, had blasted dramatically.

"STAND BACK!" yelled Ensign Fojo, their Rodian medic. "They are seizing."

Wulf stopped attempting to push forwards and remained standing in the aisle between the passenger compartment and the cockpit. With no idea what could possibly be happening, the young Ardennian stood helplessly as the Bothans continued convulsing in a seizure.

Outside, their LAAT overwatch, callsign Bearcat, tumbled helplessly to the ground, all electronics disabled.

Wulf winced in anguish as the LAAT exploded in a fiery crash less than twenty meters in front of them. For a moment, the destruction outside was enough for him to forget about Sey'les and Itoll.

"Didn't the general say we were going to die?" Asked Lieutenant Dub, stepping around the convulsing Bothans and looking at the hyperspace swirls in the sky. "Right before—"

"—You mean, right before that Jedi piece of shassa admitted… KRIFF!" Wulf yelled in exasperation. "Okay. Okay, I think…" he glanced down at the Bothans, who had stopped convulsing and were now quaking, their fur flat, eyes dilated. He looked to Fojo.

Fojo nodded as he held up a scanner. He stepped out of the way but continued scanning.

Wulf scrambled into the cockpit, falling to his knees next to Sey'les. Please be okay. Please be okay... Her eyes were wide open as she lay on the ground, stammering incomprehensibly in Bothese. "What do you think is wrong with them?!" he yelled desperately to Fojo as he squeezed Sey'les's hand. Her fur was tighter than Wulf had ever felt it. It felt like an impermeable thicket.

"Their blood chemistry is all wrong," Fojo muttered, running a scanner into Itoll's retina. "This makes no sense. There's nothing I can do myself. They're dead unless we can get them to a hospital."

Wulf swore under his breath, pulling on his head with his top to arms while continuing to grip Sey'les's hand tightly with his lower left arm.

"Sir," Knot said urgently to Dub, "We—We aren't dead. We need to do something."

"Let's…" Dub said thoughtfully. "Let's assume we are going to live. That's a start?"

"Good idea sir!" Grath yelled enthusiastically.

"We are going to live!" Dubs yelled in excitement. "Wow that is—"

—Wulf looked over his shoulder, glaring in the Clones' direction in exasperation.

"—Sorry sir!" Dubs stammered, "let's… Let's make sure the Captain and Itoll live too."

"Now… Who's in charge?" Knot asked thoughtfully.

"That's a stupid question," Wulf huffed, picking Sey'les up. "Let's get them out of here and onto stretchers."

o.o.o.o.o

At first, Wulf and Dub took Sey'les on a stretcher while Grath and Knot took Itoll. After five minutes of ambling along the highway slowly, Wulf yelled in exasperation, picked Sey'les up himself, slinging her over his shoulder, then picked Itoll up over his other shoulder.

Fojo protested vehemently, but the group moved at a much faster pace with the squat Ardennian carrying the Bothans himself. The Rodian followed directly behind Wulf, continuing to scan the Bothans as Wulf carried them down the highway. The sky was still filled with a massive hyperspace vortex on every side. Their planet had clearly, somehow, itself entered hyperspace.

Her head near the ground, Sey'les's shaggy mane dragged on the permacrete behind Wulf, picking up the occasional pebble.

Ahead of them, Azagor City rose above the horizon, dome shield still active.

Well, good. This means they still have electricity, Wulf thought hopefully. Which means, the city's hospital and the base's field hospital still have power. "We're almost there," Wulf grunted to the Bothans. "Just a few more clicks and you'll be safe."

"Well, their adrenaline levels seem to finally be tapering off," Fojo said after a long silence. "But if you ask me, their kidneys are already probably shot to hell."

"If you aren't going to say anything useful," Wulf grunted. "Then stop kriffing talking."

"I am simply—" Fojo stopped mid-sentence.

Wulf stopped walking as the ground began vibrating slightly.

"It's a tremor!" Knot gasped in one of his usual state-the-obvious-isms.

"SET THEM DOWN!" Fojo yelled in a panic.

Wulf fell over with an angry grunt before he could even begin to try setting them down. Sey'les and Itoll tumbled onto the permacrete back-first as Wulf dropped to his knees.

The ground began shaking harder in the most violent tremor Wulf had ever felt. Under the eerie hyperspace blue, the savannah grass shook, rustling loudly. The permacrete road shook violently, cracking in a few places.

In the distance, warning alarms blared from the city. As the shaking intensified, one of the tallest apartment complexes imploded, collapsing to the ground.

The shaking intensified further. For a panicked moment Wulf thought this is it. We're dead now. Prococia kriff-head was just wrong about the time but, this is it. It's happened. Then, before Wulf quite realised it, the shaking had stopped.

The road was now riddled with cracks. In a few places, the savannah itself looked cracked as well.

"Are you all right sir?" Grath asked, walking up to the Ardennian.

The exhaustion from carrying two Bothans began catching up to Wulf as he sat on the ground. "I'm all right Trooper," he panted.

"I can carry one of them." Grath stepped up to Itoll, groaning as he hoisted the Bothan into his arms, then slung him over his shoulder.

"That's not…" necessary. "All right, thank you," Wulf panted.

"I've got Sey'les sir!" Knot yelled enthusiastically, leaning over the Captain.

"No, I can really—"

"—You've carried them both for a few klicks. I got this," Knot said reassuringly.

Sitting on the ground, Wulf took a swig of water from his canteen. "Thank you," he said gratefully as Knot hoisted Sey'les up into his arms, then tossed her over his shoulder.

A few pebbles rained down from her mane onto the permacrete.

Well, Knot is taller, Wulf thought with a sigh, realising he had allowed Sey'les's mane to drag on the ground.

o.o.o.o.o

As the group continued on in silent uncertainty, the air became noticeably colder as they drew nearer to Azagor City. The planet had now been without a star for nearly three hours.

By the time the burnt-out part of the savannah was on either side of the road, the steam from their breath was visible in the cold air.

"I can carry Itoll now for you trooper," Dub said with a slight shiver in his voice. "I need to do something to warm up anyways. Dubs, you should give Knot a break too."

"Very well sir," Dubs said to Dub, taking the other Bothan off Knot's hands.

"Are they going to make it?" Wulf asked quietly to Fojo.

"I think so sir," Fojo said with some uncertainty, continuing to scan the Bothans as the troopers carried them on. "Their blood chemistry isn't normal yet, but it has been getting closer to normal since we started walking. Their kidneys though—well I suppose it depends on how many hemodialysis pumps are available at the hospital."

"What do you mean?" Wulf whispered, worry in his voice.

"The city was hit by a big tremor, in case you didn't notice," Fojo said pointedly, gesturing to smoke rising from beyond the Joint-Base.

I ought to kriffing pound your head in, Wulf thought angrily at Fojo's tone. Then he realised he was mostly angry because of what was happening to Sey'les. Still, Wulf thought, I should have kicked that Rodian's ass months ago. His jaw was locked in fury as he tried his best to ignore Fojo.

o.o.o.o.o

A kilometre from the main gate, two TX-130s made a rendezvous with their group. Inside were Clones, unsurprisingly, and another Rodian whose ass Wulf very much wanted to kick—Ekos.

"I sensed your approach," Ekos explained serenely, sitting in the passenger seat.

Wulf and Knot were knelt over Sey'les in the back of the first TX-130 with Ekos and a Clone driver in the cockpit. Fojo, Grath, Dubs, Dub and Itoll rode in the other TX-130.

Wulf found himself torn between thinking about how much more annoying Ekos was, even more annoying than Fojo, and worrying about Sey'les and Itoll.

"What happened here, sir?" Wulf asked, finally able to think of something other than imagining punching the Padawan's purple face.

The TX-130 zipped past the gate, entering Joint-Base Golshten-Myyydril.

"We don't know exactly," Ekos said. "My Master was attempting to stop the hypermatter reactor on the Northern Continent from going critical. He seems to have failed."

Well, we know that part, Wulf thought, balling his fists.

"About four hours ago, we received a message from my Master warning the Republic fleet to jump out of the system," the Rodian continued. "At that point, the planet jumped into hyperspace. Dr Gazra believes multiple craft in orbit slammed into the planet's surface as we entered hyperspace. From the time it took the shockwaves from the impacts to reach us through the core, he believes the Northern Continent was the impact site. We will be hit by massive winds and likely with huge amounts of precipitation from evaporated seawater; all in less than ten hours."

Wait… Who is Dr Gazra? Wulf wondered to himself.

"I am sorry to say," Ekos croaked in a sad voice, "my Master probably did not make it. When I reached out to him… he—he…"

"I am sorry to hear that sir," Knot said solemnly, shaking his head No at Wulf.

Wulf snorted angrily, his jaw locked, grinding his teeth. Good kriffing riddance.

"Do we have a plan sir?" Knot asked changing the topic as the TX-130 stopped in front of the field hospital.

"Yes Sergeant, we do." Ekos said, regaining his calm. "We will use the city's shields to mitigate the winds and hope that a tsunami isn't also coming our way."

The rear hatch opened. Wulf stepped out of the way, allowing two medics to quickly enter the compartment and collect Sey'les.

Wulf disembarked through the rear hatch, following Fojo and the medics.

Ekos stepped in his way "In the meantime, Lieutenant Wulf," he said. "We need you and your team to take the remaining Z-24 Heavy Speeder Truck, and make a garbage run. There is debris all over the city which teams are attempting to clear."

You have got to be kidding me. All four of the Ardennian's hands were balled into fists.

The double doors of the hospital closed once Sey'les and Itoll's stretchers were whisked through.