This story is, for now, currently cross-posted on Questionable Questing and Archive of our Own.
It may be added to Sufficient Velocity and Spacebattles in the future.
Also, this entire chapter is told from other POVs, though it will cover Cam's fight in Keldabe.
Current date: 4 years until the Invasion of Naboo
Mandalorian Words and Phrases: (Again lots of cursing. To make a plural, add an "-e" to the word)
Aruetii – Outsider/Foreigner/Traitor
Aru'e – Enemy
Dinii – Lunatic
Di'kut – Idiot
Di'kutla – Stupid/worthless
Haar'chak – Damnit
Hodar – Fool
Hut'unn – Coward
Jareor – Reckless/foolish
Jare'la – Stupid (person)
Jate'kara – Good luck
Manda'yaim – Mandalore (planet)
Me'shab – What the fuck
Shabla – Screwed up
Shabuir – Jerk
Shab ni - Fuck me
Shebs'palon - Asshole
Vor entye – Thank you
The Warrior Reborn 4
This was not how Bo-Katan expected today to go. Not by a long shot.
She and Naz had received a day off from training at the Institute (something the Laamyc group were given due to their more intense training) and had been wandering the city trying to relax. Bo-Katan had planned for today to involve some target practice at a range near the Institute, then some light sparring with Naz followed by heading to the Oyu'baat cantina.
There they'd meet a handful of their squad mates and a few other friends who also had the day off for a night of games, singing and drinking. After that… Well Bo-Katan had rented a room above the cantina on the (highly likely) chance that Naz became amorous as the night wore on.
Hell, if they both began flirting with someone else, she wasn't averse to bringing them to the room as well. Though she doubted it would be a male as while she didn't find them unattractive, outside of a few, she preferred to spend her evenings in the company of other females. Naz, on the other hand, was happy to flirt with both genders, but Bo-Katan knew that if the choice was there, Naz would always come to her bed. Well, for now.
Bo-Katan was all but certain that if Cameron Shan ever changed his mind about Naz, she'd likely end up coming second to her lover as to which bed the blonde would choose. And while she couldn't stop the prang of jealousy she felt every time she thought of Naz and Cameron together, Bo-Katan could (at least partially) understand her lover's desire. While a Jetii officially, Cameron was nothing like what she'd expected from a member of their Order. He was a warrior at heart, and a good one as she knew from their spars over the last year and carried himself as a leader. Plus, as much as she didn't want to admit it, he wasn't a half-bad kisser. Haran, if he'd been born a Mandalorian, she suspected her father would be grooming him to take over leadership of House Kryze one day, though at that point it would become House Shan.
Though that wasn't to say she felt Dorgo would be a bad clan chief, just that he was… less martially inclined than she would've liked. And the less said about her sister the better. Satine had been brainwashed by those hut'unne in Sundari and was little better than a lapdog for the Republic.
Still, regardless of if it would've been just her and Naz, or if another (she wouldn't mind it being Ursa, but the heiress of Clan Wren had recently started spending time with an artist) had joined them, she knew that after a day of getting all hot and sweaty from training, a few drinks would help put Naz in the mood for some "fun" later. And Bo-Katan wasn't much different, save that she preferred combat to drinking, singing, and dancing to get her blood pumping.
Of course, those plans had been shot to osik by this attack on Keldabe by those shabuir'yr Death Watch shebs'palone.
"Shab!" She cursed as she was once more forced to duck down behind the dumpster that had been tipped over (along with a few other things) to form the makeshift bunker for her, Naz and a Protector they'd run into on the streets not long after the chaos had started. From both ends of the alley they were taking heaving fire from, at her guess, about a dozen members of Death Watch.
This position was osik, and under normal circumstances she'd have never been caught dead in such a position. However, not only was the attack that had occurred on Keldabe not normal, but it seemed as though this group of Death Watch had been herding her and Naz. Though that had only happened once Bo's helmet had been damaged, and she'd been forced to drop it.
This group of Death Watch (which her father had claimed was all but defunct with the death of Naz's uncle) had altered their attacks from outright attempting to kill them to guiding them here; where the second squad were waiting to ambush them. And, from what little time she'd had to process the attack, none of it made sense.
They'd been coming out of a small shooting range that was run by an ally of Clan Kryze, when at least six explosions had rocked the city. A moment later, Bo-Katan had seen two Protectors gunned down the other members of their patrol squad before opening fire on the crowds around them. At that, she'd begun to drag Naz back towards the range (and the large supply of weapons within) only for said range to explode as a rocket slammed into the front door. Bo-Katan had stared in horror as the owner of the range – an old woman from Clan Brenz – had stumbled out of the door ablaze, only to fall over a moment later as her life ended.
Moments later warning sirens had sounded around the city, and she'd risked a glance skyward. Thanks to it being a clear morning, high above the city, in the very upper atmosphere, she caught flashes of colour. That was when she realised this wasn't just a simple attack on Keldabe but a coordinated attack on the entire planet. Yet, from what she knew of the remains of the group, Death Watch didn't and couldn't have the strength to do that alone.
She hadn't had time to consider who must be helping these hodare, before Naz fell to the ground. A bolt had struck her near her midsection. While her armour had taken the brunt of the damage (though that armour plate wasn't made of beskar and had been deformed by the hit), it was enough to make Naz fall to the ground.
Bo-Katan had reacted on instinct, and in a single move, dropped to a knee, pivoted, and shot the hodar who'd dare shoot her lover in the back in the helmet. The man had stumbled back and seeing the fact his helmet was badly scorched from her hit (indicating it also wasn't made of beskar), she'd shot him in the head three more times in quick succession.
As the body dropped to the ground, one of his cohorts had opened fire on her, striking her helmet and damaging it enough that the internal systems stopped working. As she'd pulled it off, Naz had fired on this second Death Watch fighter; forcing him and his fellows to find cover.
As her and Naz had withdrawn, Bo-Katan had tried to contact her teammates and her father, however the commlink responded only with static. That meant that either the central communications hub had been attacked, or the city was under the effects of jamming (or both). It wasn't long after realising this that Naz was hit again, this time, near the back of her thigh. As Naz had crumbled to the ground, Bo-Katan had cursed that their armour was made from durasteel and not beskar as a section of Naz's had slipped and sliced a long, but thankfully shallow, cut down Naz's right leg. While Bo did have a suit of beskar armour (which had been her mother's before it'd been reforged), that was back in Sundari as beskar armour was not allowed at the Institute; save for the end-of-session tournaments for Laamyc group.
A moment later, just as Bo-Katan had initially wondered how the approaching Death Watch (and the traitorous Protectors who had joined them) would kill them, their new partner had arrived. While she'd been reluctant to work with the lone Protector – since she had no idea if the woman was not allied with Death Watch force – Bo-Katan knew she had no choice. Together, they'd managed to get Naz back on her feet, though that was when Death Watch had begun to herd them towards this alley.
"Control, Blairn, I'm trapped in an alley off Tal'Chortav with two Trainees." The feminine voice of the now-named Protector Blairn with them drew Bo-Katan's attention. "We've got aru'e at either end and are cut off from a retreat." She saw a small hologram of another member of the city's Protector unit appear on the woman's vambrace. However, as the hologram moved, she couldn't hear what was being said by the image; likely meaning the sound was being filtered into the Protector's helmet.
A growl escaped Brian's lips, which wasn't in any way reassuring to Bo-Katan. "One of them's Duke Adonai's daughter."
Bo-Katan tried and failed to keep a scowl from appearing on her face. While Blairn recognizing her wasn't that big of a surprise (since she'd tossed away her helmet when it's stopped working and her armour bore the sigils of both Clan Kryze and herself over her shoulders), hearing the other woman use her as an excuse to try and divert support to their location was irritating. There were others in the city that likely needed help more than they did and trying to use her status as the daughter of the ruling Duke of the sector felt wrong.
The hologram responded once more, but Bo-Katan was forced to divert her attention back to those attacking them. The dumpster she was using as a makeshift barricade rattled as three, no four, bolts struck it while another pair flew overhead, striking the wall of the alley somewhere between their makeshift shelter and the other group of Death Watch. With everything they were using as cover made from thick durasteel, being several layers thick, or both, the incoming bolts were currently not a threat. However, if things didn't improve soon, she doubted the shelter would survive and with the sheer volume of incoming plasma, it was hard for her to fire.
"Understood Control, Blairn out." The Protector stated as Bo-Katan saw – from the corner of her eye – the hologram blink out. "The nearest support is, at least, twenty minutes out but they're busy trying to retake a Protector station."
She grunted in annoyance. Those stations were dotted all around the city and were intended to be fallback points if (or when given her people's history) the city came under attack. Each was meant to have basements able to survive against orbital bombardment for a short while and an armoury capable of outfitting a full company of Mandalorians. To hear that Death Watch and the aruetiie Protectors had seized at least one made perfect sense. Even if it diminished their chances of survival.
"We won't last that long." Naz spat out, her tone echoing Bo-Katan's feelings on the matter. As if in agreement, the dumpster Bo-Katan was hiding behind rattled as another volley of blaster fire impacted against it.
"We might. They seem to want both of you alive, Miss Vizsla." Blairn replied, making clear she knew who Naz was as well. "Both you and Miss Kryze would be important hostages for them to use against your fathers." Bo-Katan suppressed a grunt at the idea. If given the choice, she'd rather die than be used to allow these aruetiie to grow stronger. "So far, you're the only pair I know of that they haven't been trying to kill outright in this attack."
"Shab!" She spat out at hearing that. The idea that she was being 'spared' because of who her father was, and not because they respected her, lit a fire in her. Whatever it took, she was going to survive this attack, find the ones behind the attack and make them pay for thinking she was an easy target to attempt to capture.
The dumpster rattled as more bolts impacted against it (and into the wall above), and with her anger flaring, she reached her arm over the top and fired back a handful of bolts for her gauntlet. As she pulled it back, something hit it – likely a lucky bolt – and her arm jerked back at the force of the hit.
"Aargh!" Naz called out as Bo-Katan saw the damage to her gauntlet (a few sparks coming from the controls suggested the thing was now useless). She spun as best she could while staying in cover to see Naz had slumped to the ground, a hand resting against the section of her armour that had been hit earlier.
"Naz!" She called out before crawling over as quickly as she could. Thankfully the dumpster and other objects meant that she could do so without going onto her belly, though she did so just to be safe.
Once she was close enough, she saw that Naz was holding her side, at the same point where she'd been struck before. However, now there was blood flowing out from between her fingers. Bo-Katan cursed internally as she realised that the bolt that hit her gauntlet had deflected and, incredibly, hit the part of Naz's armour that was already weakened.
Carefully, she placed her hand over Naz's and eased the other woman's hand back. Naz groaned as she allowed her hand to be moved away and Bo-Katan gulped as the flow of blood increased and she saw the wound. The armour plate had buckled, driving the corner into Naz's midsection. Concerned about what internal damage had occurred (the plate sat over one of Naz's kidneys), Bo-Katan quickly ran her working gauntlet over the wound.
She exhaled in relief as the scan showed the plate had missed anything vital but had still cut deep enough that Naz was losing a lot of blood. Bo-Katan ran her scanner over the rest of Naz, and apart from some blood in the blonde's hair (which the scanner assured her wasn't anything more than a shallow cut) and the graze she'd taken earlier on her leg, Naz was in a solid, if wounded, condition.
Slowly, she moved Naz onto her side (mindful of the still incoming blaster bolts), which made her lover wince. "Aargh!"
"Sorry." She muttered as she reached into her belt (mentally thanking her father for insisting that she always kept some basic medical supplies on her person, even when in supposedly secure locations) and withdrew a pair of bacta patches.
While applying two small patches over a larger wound wasn't something she should do, it was all she could do. Naz hissed as the patches were pressed against the wound and Bo-Katan caught the faint whiff of bacta's familiar sour scent as they began to do their work.
Naz grumbled and reached for her pistol, which she'd likely dropped after getting hit, only for Bo-Katan to grab her arm.
"Wha?" Naz mumbled out as Bo-Katan gently forced her arm away from the blaster.
"Haar'chak, Naz! Stay still!" Bo-Katan hissed out as she felt Naz fighting against her grip, trying to reach the pistol.
"I can still fight!" Naz shot back, trying, and failing to push through Bo-Katan's grip. Under normal circumstances, they'd likely be evenly matched, but with Naz wounded and lying on her side, she didn't have the leverage to overcome Bo-Katan; a fact Bo-Katan was grateful for. She'd never forgive herself if Naz ended up more seriously wounded because she allowed the blonde to keep fighting.
"You probably can, but that wound is fresh enough that it'll break open if you stress it too much." Bo-Katan retorted. "We're not completely kriffed yet. They aren't trying to kill us at the moment. Save your strength for when shab gets real." She gave her lover a none-too-gentle poke in the ribs – well away from the wound – to drive her point across. "Stay down." She added as Naz grunted in annoyance at the jab.
"I…" Naz paused and for a moment Bo-Katan was worried the small cut on her head was worse than the scanner stated. She began to raise her working gauntlet (thankfully not on the arm stopping Naz from picking up her blaster) when an unexpected smile crept onto Naz's face. "He's coming."
For a moment, Bo-Katan wondered if the bacta was affecting Naz's mind, though she didn't say anything as ran her gauntlet scanner over Naz's head once more. Just be sure. Still no sign of a concussion, thank Manda.
"He's coming." Naz repeated, and Bo-Katan looked her lover in the eyes. Naz's expression was a mixture of conviction and relief, and Bo-Katan opened her mouth to ask what Naz.
"Me'shab?" She muttered as she felt… something strange. She didn't know what it was, never mind why it was happening, but in the corner of her mind, she felt something strange, foreign, and yet familiar. She tried to focus on it, pull whatever it was into focus, but the moment she did it vanished.
Before she had a chance to process exactly what had happened, Naz gripped her arm just above her gauntlet and squeezed. "You felt it too." Naz whispered, drawing Bo-Katan's focus back to her lover. "You hear his voice."
"Whose voice?" She asked, even as she felt as if she knew who Naz was speaking of. Unrequested, her mind pulled a memory about Jedi and Sith being able to touch the minds of others, and what they could do if a warrior ever lowered their guard around one.
"Cam's." Naz whispered in a tone that made a not insignificant part of Bo-Katan want to punch the boy. "He's coming."
A part of her wanted to say that Naz was wrong, that she was letting the pain from her wounds affect her mind, but the larger part of her realised her lover was right. As much as it galled her to admit, somehow Cameron had found a way to reach into their minds and let them know he was there; or would be soon. That left her conflicted as part of her was relieved that help – real help not the possibility of it – was coming, and at the chance to see what he could do in a combat situation. Though an equally large part of her was furious that she needed to be saved by a Jetii (even a Mando'ade one) and at how this would only play into Naz's feelings for the young man.
"Doesn't matter if that was him or not, or even if he's coming," she began, as she pushed her feelings on the matter to one side, "we're trapped here and if don't stay still you'll likely bleed out and I…" her words trailed off as an image of a dead Naz flashed through her mind. "I don't want to lose you."
Naz's fingers drifted over Bo-Katan's – sending a pleasant shiver up her arm – where her hand was holding her lover down. "I know." Naz said with a weak smile.
Bo-Katan took a moment to look at her lover. Naz meant more to her than almost anyone; certainly more than her traitorous sister – regardless if Satine had softened in her stance over the last year, she still argued that peace was the way forward – or her weak-willed father and brother. While she knew what they had wouldn't last, after all Naz's father had stated clearly that Naz would have to marry Kote Wrajud – which had resulted in Naz shattering the boy's nose when he tried to impress her. Bo-Katan was furious at Pre Vizsla for arranging the marriage for Naz, and not just because it would take Naz away from her. Arranged marriages weren't the way the Mando'ade behaved, but with Pre Vizsla acting as a mouthpiece for those di'kute in Sundari, it wasn't a surprise he acted in such an un-Mandalorian way.
However, for whatever time together they'd have, she planned to enjoy and she'd always… care for Naz.
With the moment over, Bo-Katan nodded and gave Naz a smile back before lifting her hand. She turned to head back to her cover, only for something to be pushed into her hand. She looked down and saw Naz had placed her pistol there. "Kill these shabuire for me." Naz ordered.
Bo smirked, and as she turned, she reached over the dumpster and fired off a volley of bolts towards the group at the far end of the alley. Quickly she pulled the pistol back down, not wanting to give Death Watch a chance to destroy it, then crawled back to her side of their temporary bunker. The entire bunker vibrated as both groups of Death Watch troopers rained down fire on their position, and Bo-Katan had to wonder if they'd called in reinforcements.
While it was nice to have a working pistol again, it was soon apparent to her that, unless Cameron really did arrive soon, she and Naz would be captured (at best) while Protector Blairn would be dead. There was nowhere for them to retreat to, and even if every other skirmish across the city was going against Death Watch, here they only had to wait until Bo-Katan and Blairn were out of tibanna gas for their blasters and gauntlets before they could approach and overwhelm them.
While she and Blairn were able to fire off some bolts to keep their attackers honest, the simple fact was Death Watch was toying with them. Bo-Katan could barely keep a snarl from her face as she became convinced that she'd soon be taken prisoner by these aruetiie. With her and Naz as their prisoners, no matter how the battle for the city went, Death Watch could force her father (And Naz's, though he had far less power and influence) to do what they wished if he wanted to see his daughter again.
Still, she kept taking any opportunity she could to fire in the direction of her attackers. There was always the chance she'd get lucky and take one of them out, even if she thought she had more chance of drawing pure sabacc from her opening cards.
This pattern of their temporary protection rocking as it came under fire, and her and Blairn firing back all but blindly – she was cursing the fact her helmet had been damaged as without the sensor package inside she doubted her shots were coming anywhere close to her attackers – until the moment came where she lifted her pistol and pulled the trigger, only to hear it misfire as the gas inside ran out. With her not having taken any spare power cells from the range when they'd left, nor fully charged her own pistol before they'd left, that meant she was down to just her gauntlets.
"Osik!" Bo-Katan spat out as she threw the now useless weapon to the ground. She checked the gauntlet that was still working, and her mood worsened. There was less than ten percent charge left and with the other gauntlet damaged, she couldn't eject the power cell to swap them around. "Osik!" She spat out again.
"Here." Bo-Katan turned at hearing Naz's voice. Her lover tossed a small object – that Bo-Katan realised was a gauntlet power cell – which, in a single fluid motion, she caught and brought towards her working gauntlet. "About a sixty percent charge." Naz added, making Bo-Katan smirk.
With practised ease, she released the old cell (letting it drop to the ground), slid Naz' one in, and recharged the gauntlet's built-in blaster. The power reading stated a sixty-three percent charge, meaning she was back in business. At least for now.
With a gauntlet that would last more than a few dozen bolts, she felt she had a better chance of lasting long enough until help arrived. However, she knew that if Cameron or other true Protectors didn't arrive soon, it would all be for nought. A glance at the chronometer on her gauntlet let her know that only six minutes had passed since Blairn had called for support; meaning the nearest Protector unit was still a quarter-hour out (at best). As for Cameron… even if he was on the way, there was no indication of when he'd arrive.
With this being her last working weapon – she had no intention of asking or taking Naz's other gauntlet's power cell – she knew she had to make every shot count. At the next (relatively speaking) lull in incoming fire, she returned fire with only three shots, instead of the half-dozen or so she'd been taking before the pistol had run out of gas.
"Shab!" Blairn snapped, drawing Bo-Katan's attention as she brought her gauntlet back into cover; just before a new volley of bolts slammed into the dumpster. She saw Blairn throw down her rifle in anger, making it clear the weapon was, much like Naz's pistol, now useless as a firearm. When they'd met the Protector, Bo-Katan had noted that she'd only had one spare power cell on her - likely meaning she'd been heavily engaged before their meeting - and, just before they'd created this bunker, the Protector had slapped that cell into the rifle. Bo-Katan kept her face neutral (as best she could) even as she felt as if something was constricting around her heart, slowly squeezing the life from her.
She took a deep breath, centring herself. She couldn't control when help (if any) would arrive. All she could do was keep fighting, keep resisting and do her best to take out at least a few of these aruetiie before they were overwhelmed.
The dumpster rattled once more, and she spotted a section of wall on the ground at one end. Slowly, she crawled over to it and discovered the makeshift barrier had damaged the wall at some point from when she'd knocked it over or from a stray bolt from Death Watch, she couldn't say – and there was a small gap between the dumpster and the wall. Moving as slowly as she could, he lay down to look through the hole.
There were about a dozen fighters at the end of the alley, though only four were firing. Though what caught her eye was one of the ones not firing had exposed more of his rifle than she would've.
Figuring this was a good opportunity to take out one of the Death Watch, she slid her arm into the hole, and trusting her instincts, squeezed off a bolt. She couldn't see the fighter react, but an unexpected yelp from the alley had her hopeful her shot had been true.
Before the other attackers could shift their aim at her gauntlet, she pulled her arm back and with her free hand, dropped the chunk of wall that had been dislodged into the hole. She'd barely begun to move back when said chuck was shattered into pieces from incoming fire.
Taking another chance, she scrambled to the far side of the dumpster, slid her gauntlet over the top, and squeezed off two bolts. A few grunts came from the alley, suggesting she'd at least come close. And before the return fire impacted near her, she was already fully under cover.
"Bo! Naz! Stay down!"
Even as her mind processed who had called out, she felt her body begin to comply. The air above her seemed to shift as something large and powerful shot overhead. It passed over her dumpster first, then quickly cleared the temporary bunker, before heading to the far end of the alley. There, it sounded as if the walls had exploded, yet she'd failed to smell a blaster bolt or rocket fuel as whatever it was flew overhead, nor hear the sounds of whatever was fired exploding on impact.
Dust was kicked up in the alley, though not enough to obscure her vision, and as she realised who had called out the warning/command, she saw Naz looking at her, a large smile on her lover's face. "Told you."
Bo-Katan slapped down a spike of anger at having to be rescued by a Jetii before she turned and dared to peek over her cover. Her eyes widened as she saw Cameron standing at the end of the alley, one hand outstretched towards her while the other held his ignited lightsaber (and just as every time before, there was a moment where she confused his weapon for the Darksaber) in a relaxed stance. His eyes were open, but in the moment before he spotted her, she swore he was angry about something.
Curious, she turned and looked to the far end of the alley. It was hard to see what was there – a decent sized dust cloud had sprung up from whatever Cameron had done to the wall near the corner of the alley – but there wasn't any sound to suggest the Death Watch were still conscious. Or even alive as, for a moment, she spotted two bodies lying unmoving in the middle of the street.
"Shab." She whispered at seeing the carnage he'd unleashed in only a few seconds. Naz chuckled softly, having likely heard her whispered curse, which made Bo-Katan's anger flare anew.
Scowling as her anger at having to be rescued by him came back, she snapped back around and looked at him. "Where the shab have you been?!" She spat out.
His lips twisted upwards, and she swore she saw him chuckle before he replied. "Sorry, the traffic was murder."
She bit off a growl at his apparent flippancy and moved over quickly to Naz. "Get over here. Naz is wounded." She called out even as she knelt beside her lover.
The dust around them kicked up for a moment. Before she could turn to see why she realised that Cameron was beside her; his lightsaber was already depowered. She had to slap down an instinct to react defensively at the sudden appearance of someone next to her. An instinct that was empowered by her anger at his arrival and behaviour and by how Naz reacted as she looked up at him.
"I heard you in my mind." Naz whispered caringly as Bo-Katan watched Cameron run his eyes over Naz. Again, she had to fight off the small voice inside that told her to strike at him for daring to get close to Naz. Yes, she knew there would come a day when she and Naz would have to end, and yes, if Cameron ever showed interest, then Bo-Katan would accept him being with Naz over Kote Wrajud, but that didn't mean she had to like it. Still, Cameron seemed to either not hear Naz's whispered words, or chose to ignore them.
His free hand drifted over the bacta patches Bo-Katan had applied earlier. She saw a faint silvery-blue glow emanate in the gap between hand and patches. Naz's eyes rolled upwards as her head tilted back and a soft moan escaped her lips. Bo-Katan lifted her working gauntlet – whether to protect Naz or strike out at Cameron for seemingly hurting her, she couldn't say – to aim it at Cameron's head, only to stop as she realised what she was doing.
While he may be a Jetii, he was Mando'ade. Yes, he was wearing his dragon-skin cloak (and a part of her would always be jealous that he'd killed a dragon for his hunt), but it was over the robes worn by his Order. The sooner he stopped wearing those, the sooner she would feel comfortable knowing his loyalties lay with their people and not the di'kute on Coruscant.
The light faded, and she pulled back his hand. "There, that should heal the damage, but I'd still suggest getting a doctor to check it and taking it easy for a while." He said, only to chuckle once and look towards the far end of the alley. "Well, once things aren't shabla around here."
Bo-Katan felt her lips twist upwards at his weak attempt at humour, though they stopped when Naz did smile. To be losing the affection of her lover to a Jetii – even one who had joined their people – was infuriating. If ONLY he'd leave that Order and join their ranks fully. Then she could give her blessing (no matter how much it might hurt her) for Naz to pursue Cameron. He was a far better choice than most around them – especially Kote Wrajud, who in her opinion, wasn't much better than shab on her boot – and the first Mando'ade to take down a shabuir'yr greater krayt dragon.
"Who are you?" Blairn asked, drawing Bo-Katan from her thoughts. "And where the shab did you come from?"
Right, she didn't know who Cameron was, or where he'd come from. After all, the Jetii assigned to their sector (and whom Bo-Katan had met a few times) was a Cathar male named Lhan.
"Cameron Shan, at your service." Cameron replied, giving the Protector a lazy salute. "And I arrived in orbit a short while ago aboard Duke Torrhen Ordo's cruiser." While Blairn was wearing her helmet, Bo-Katan could detect the subtle signs from Blairn at her shock at what she was hearing. Cameron might not realise it, but his name was on the lips of every Mando'ade on the planet (and possibly throughout the sector) because of his hunt. Of course, she and Naz had promised to wait and see how the young man reacted when he discovered this instead of telling him outright. The reaction was one they were both looking forward to seeing.
"S-Shan? Right." Blairn responded, all but tripping over his name. "Duke Torrhen is mounting a counter-attack against Death Watch then?" She asked, killing Bo-Katan's amusement at the Protector's surprise – and Cameron's lack of understanding about why.
Cameron's face contorted, making her wonder if there was something he'd done that he shouldn't have, and he absently rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm, uh, not really sure. I might've, sort've, jumped from the cruiser to get down here quicker." Bo-Katan felt her brow rise at that, because as far as she knew, he'd never had any training with their jetpacks. Come to think of it, where was his jetpack? "They were plotting a course for Sundari, but my friends were in danger, and I, um, felt I'd be more useful here than there."
"I didn't realise you were trained with our jetpacks." Blairn stated, giving voice to the thought Bo-Katan had just had.
He gulped and smiled even as his head shrunk into his neck. "I'm not. I, uh, well I jumped without one." She felt her jaw drop (and hear Naz inhale sharply) at hearing he'd leapt from a cruiser – one likely in high orbit at best – so he could reach them quicker. "The, uh, Force helped slow my descent and helped me land." He finished, looking like he wished to be anywhere but here right now.
"I see." Blairn replied after a moment's silence. Even without being able to see her face, Bo-Katan was sure the Protector was just as shocked as she was about Cameron's way to reach them.
For her part, Bo-Katan was both impressed and shocked at his behaviour. That he'd done something so reckless, so jareor, to help them… it left her conflicted. What he'd done was beyond reckless, and even though she wanted to ask how it felt to sky-dive without any supporting technology – and ignored the strange feeling she had at him doing that to help her and Naz – she was more likely to smack him for the sheer
Bo-Katan felt her brow rise into her hairline at seeing Naz slap Cameron across the face. It hadn't been a gentle slap either, something confirmed by his reaction to it as he fell back onto his butt and lifted a hand to his cheek.
"That was jare'la, you di'kut." Naz growled out, before leaning forward. Cameron, much to Bo-Katan's amusement, scuttled back a fraction before Naz's hand came to rest on his. She fought down another wave of anger as Naz smiled tenderly at him. "Vor entye."
"You're welcome. I think." Cameron replied slowly as Bo-Katan got her anger under control again. He glanced her way, making her wonder if he'd sensed her anger, though said nothing.
The unexpectedly strange moment was ended by a bleep from Cameron's wrist; one Bo-Katan knew came from a Mandalorian gauntlet communicator. Removing his hand from his cheek, he tapped at the small display and Bo-Katan saw a saw hologram of Master Fay appear. While she couldn't deny she found the Jedi Master attractive (who wouldn't?), Bo-Katan would've preferred to see an image of Master Dooku. At least he wasn't being pursued by her father.
"Yes, Master?" Cameron asked, his brow twitching in a way that had Bo-Katan wondering if he'd jumped without permission. Which was something she found amusing, further annoying and further endearing.
"Since you are now answering my comms, I assume you have landed safely." The Jedi Master began. Bo-Katan thought she heard a hint of amusement mixed with annoyance in the woman's tone. "And given that I can see Miss Vizsla's image, you have reached both her and Miss Kryze."
"Yes master." Cameron replied as Bo-Katan did her best to not think back to the last time someone had called her 'Miss Kryze'. She'd hated elementary school; mainly because they weren't allowed to carry a weapon until their fifth year. "They're here with a local Protector. Or one that hasn't turned sides." He added with a sneer that reminded Bo-Katan of an issue she'd insist her father allowed her to help with afterwards; the cleansing of the city's Protector units and the hunting down of friends and family of those who'd broken their oaths. "From what I saw on the way down, most of the fighting is focused on the Mandalmotors HQ, and the attack in the city is being led entirely by Death Watch."
"That agrees with the reports we've received from scattered locations across the city." Master Fay paused and she sighed before continuing. "With that in mind, Master Dooku and I would like you to head to the tower. From what we know an important figure in galactic business is trapped in the tower and is the main focus of Death Watch's attack on the city."
"Understood." Cameron responded. "What about you and Master Dooku?"
Once more Fay paused for a moment, then her hologram turned to face Bo-Katan. "We will be… helping Duke Torrhen to secure Sundari. Duke Torrhen believes that Duke Adonai is the primary target of the assault on Sundari and both Master Dooku and I concur. While I am unsure if us becoming involved in internal Mandalorian matters is the correct course of action, I believe it will help Master Dooku."
"Yes, master." Cameron replied, making Bo-Katan wonder why that would be. A split second later a likely reason came to her. Master Dooku may be upset for his role in the battle of Galidraan, so any action that would harm Death Watch could be a way to re-balance the scales. Or that's how she would see things if she was in the Jetii's position. Though if she was, she'd have no issues with using the full range of the Jetii's abilities to put down Death Watch once and for all.
The hologram turned from her to look at Naz. "While I will not offer false hope, you both may rest assured that we will do all we can to ensure the safety of both your families."
"Thank you master Jedi." Naz offered. Bo-Katan lowered her head in thanks, unwilling to verbally thank a Jetii for help in a Mandalorian matter. Plus, there was still the issue that her father was enamoured with the graceful female Jedi master. Though, she supposed, if Master Fay was able to protect her father, brother, and nephew, she might be willing to… stifle her resentment of her father's affection for the Jetii master.
If anything happened to her family… She felt her fists close tightly as, for all the bad blood that existed between her and her father (and even Satine), she would never forgive herself if they died because of her inaction. If anyone hurt her family, she'd, she'd…
A hand on her shoulder broke her from her dark thoughts. She turned to see that Cameron had been the one to place the hand. He didn't smile or offer any words of support (or thank Manda, sympathy), instead choosing to stay silent. And while she would likely never admit it, she did appreciate the gesture.
"Do you have any details about the attack on Mandalmotors?" Blairn asked, drawing Bo-Katan's focus back to the here and now.
"Sporadic at best, I'm afraid." Master Fay began. "We've learnt that the tower has been breached, though from the last report security is still holding the top third of the building. This dignitary had the foresight to bring their own security, which is assisting the building's beleaguered forces." Bo-Katan thought that bringing their own security wasn't foresight but just common sense. Then again, she wasn't a weak-willed Republic stooge like most dignitaries. "Local forces are trying to retake the tower entrance; however Death Watch have dug in and still have a large force outside the building turning the plaza into a death trap."
While she hated to admit it, Bo-Katan had to agree with Death Watch's tactics. The plaza was a nightmare to hold in a firefight, but if they were bunkered down inside the tower, then it was an almost perfect area to have outside. Bar some monuments, benches and the like, the area had very limited cover that any counterattack could use to approach.
What she wasn't happy about was how weak losing control of the tower and plaza made the Protectors – and by extension those who followed the old ways – to other factions; both internal and external. She saw that Cameron was frowning at his master's report, but she doubted it was because of similar thoughts to hers.
"Who exactly is this visitor?" He asked with a slight edge to his voice.
"A Munn by the name of Hego Damask. Apparently Master Dooku has had dealings with him before and was surprised to learn he had travelled to Mandalore." Once more, Fay paused and Bo-Katan was all but certain she was upset about something. "Once this internal Mandalorian matter is resolved, we will be discussing your actions. Until then, head to the tower and assist the local forces in retaking the tower and rescuing Magister Damask."
She felt her brow rise and her pulse quicken at hearing Cameron would help. Not because of any silly desire about him, but because of getting the chance to fight beside him and see what he could do in a real fight. Oh, he'd taken out the two squads that'd trapped her, Naz and Blairn in this alley easily, but that'd likely been due to him catching them unawares. After engaging Death Watch on the way to the plaza, that would no longer be the case. Meaning he'd have to really show what he could do and something told her that it'd be glorious.
"Yes, Master." Cameron replied before closing the link and turning to face her. "Bo, get Naz to a medic. While I've healed her wound, I'd rather it was checked by a professional."
For a moment, Bo-Katan's brain thought it had misheard him. Was he telling her to stay out of a fight? She opened her mouth to respond – and saw Naz doing the same – only for the area (centred on Cameron) to become engulfed in silver light.
When it faded a second later, she felt her jaw drop. Cameron was gone, as in completely vanished. Since when could that shabuir do that? And more worryingly, could all Jetii do the same because that certainly hadn't been in any combat manuals about the Order (or the other major Force group, the Sith) that she'd read. That was just…
"Me'shab?" Blairn muttered, giving voice to Bo-Katan's thoughts.
Bo-Katan resolved that once things had settled down, she was going to haul Cameron into a ring and demand that he fight her no-holds-barred. She needed to know just where she stood against him (and by extension other Jetii, even if she knew he wasn't a typical member of their order) and how far she still had to go to be as good as her idol; Shae Visla.
"Come on." Naz called out, breaking her from her thoughts. Bo-Katan saw that her lover was beginning to stand, one hand holding the bacta patches against her side as she did so. "I'm not letting Cam do this alone." She added once she was standing. Bo-Katan was quickly on her feet and helped her climb over the dumpster.
"Wait!" Blairn called out, but neither of the younger women paid her any heed. Both had soon cleared the dumpster and begun to jog out of the alley. As they stepped into the street, Bo-Katan saw a shop opposite – one her brother Dorgo enjoyed going to – ablaze while she saw two limbs lying on the ground. Both had been cut cleanly off in a way she knew was the mark of a lightsaber. The carnage they passed made her smile as it proved (in her mind) that Cameron wasn't as weak-minded as most Jetii. He was willing and able to do what he must to end a situation quickly and efficiently.
As they orientated themselves to be sure of which way to go, sounds of blaster fire drifted towards them, coming from both sides of the new street. That was a reminder to her that getting to the plaza was going to be a challenge. Or more of one as they had, at least, a few kilometres to cover; likely more if any of the streets were blocked by fighting or rubble. One thing they'd have to do was rearm, as both were down to a single gauntlet blaster, with hers being down to forty-one percent.
"He couldn't have left us one working weapon?" Naz spat out as she kicked the muzzle of a destroyed rifle.
While they'd passed some weapons as they'd emerged into the street, all of them – like the limbs – had clearly met the business end of a lightsaber. Or at least the ones that hadn't still been holstered/attached to Death Watch fighters anyway. The others had likely been destroyed in the explosion.
Bo-Katan smirked at her lover's annoyance. "I'd have done the same. Taking their rifles out helps against a larger force. Just wish I could've seen him do it."
Naz smirked at that. "What? You going soft on him?"
Bo-Katan shook her head. "Nah. Just want to watch him crack some skulls." She took one last quick look around the street but saw nothing useful. Even the one body that wasn't in flames was useless as it'd been thrown so hard into the wall, a good chunk had fallen on top of the body: burying anything useful in rubble.
Without another word, the pair started jogging again, and quickly reached an intersection. There, she stopped as she heard a groan. She went to one side of the street while Naz went to the other, allowing them clear views down the opposite direction. A pair of nods confirmed both ways were clear of combat, and Bo-Katan moved around the corner. About ten metres in front of her, just outside a kaffa house chain shop, were two Death Watch fighters. Both were down, though one was crawling along slowly; a femur sticking out from their leg with a pistol in one hand.
She jogged over to the man, reaching and disarming him of his pistol before he realised she was there. She knelt beside him then, after removing it from its sheath, drove her knife through the back of the man's neck, severing his spine. The death was quicker than she felt he deserved for his treachery, but there was no way she would move one without making sure he was dead.
She heard footsteps behind her, and while she was all but certain it was Naz, she still turned – pistol raised – in case it wasn't. Thankfully it was. Naz paid no heed to the man Bo-Katan had just killed as she walked past her. Bo-Katan followed Naz's movement and saw her lover gingerly kneel beside the other body before scooping up a rifle.
The pair quickly removed the power cells from the dead Death Watch trooper's gauntlets, then stood. That was when Blairn came around the corner, running into two aimed weapons from Naz and Bo-Katan. Not wanting their new ally to be unarmed, nor likely wanting to have to wait for Blairn to find her own replacement weapon, Naz kicked another pistol – this one coming from the same body where she'd found the rifle – to the Protector before turning and running off.
Bo-Katan was quickly on her heels, a fact made easier as she saw that Naz was moving gingerly at a pace barely above a jog.
Another explosion rocked the city, this one having come from the direction of the tower and plaza, with enough strength that both had to stop. Bo-Katan moved quickly over to Naz as she saw her lover grab her side, a hand coming to rest on the bacta patches.
"Naz?" She asked softly as she reached her lover's side.
Naz waved her rifle-carrying hand in the air. "I'm fine. Come on, Cam needs us." She stood, pushing away Bo-Katan's hand and started jogging again.
Bo-Katan smacked down a wave of anger at Naz being so concerned about the Jetii. While she knew that her lover had feelings for Cameron, letting that anger out in battle would lead to mistakes. Though she did suspect that the reason for the new explosion was the young man. He just seemed to have that kind of jate'kara.
With no intention of letting her lover head into danger alone (nor miss out on seeing just what the Revan'ade could do when unleashed), she took off after Naz. The sound of footsteps behind her let her know Blairn was following close behind.
They passed two more intersections before hearing voices as they approached the fourth – which would be close to the plaza. Upon hearing the voices from the direction they needed to go, the pair slid to a stop before reaching the corner.
With a nod, Bo-Katan slid round Naz so both could emerge with sight lines down the new street. There they saw three armoured warriors groggily getting to their feet. The crest of Death Watch on one of their Pauldrons was enough for both to open fire. A third stream of bolts soon joined them, indicating Blairn had joined them, and the three Death Watch troopers quickly fell under the sustained and unexpected barrage.
As they stood, she heard a hiss of pain from Naz, and turned to face her. "Naz?" She asked as she saw the other young woman holding her patched side tightly.
"It's nothing, I can work through this." Naz replied, though Bo-Katan knew it was a lie. Even ignoring how long they'd spent around each other over the last few years, Bo-Katan would've known Naz was lying. The slightly clenched jaw, and her pale complexion where the skin was exposed made things clear to see. "We need to help Cam."
Bo-Katan batted down another spike of anger at Naz's feelings about Cameron. However, she was unable to ignore her concern about Naz's health. Cameron had stated that he wanted Naz checked by a medic, yet here she was heading directly towards the thickest combat. While Bo-Katan loved that about Naz, right now it was an issue.
"Naz," She began, her insides twisting at the wince of pain that dominated Naz's face. At that, she reached forward and placed a firm hand on her lover's shoulder. "You're not going any further."
Naz's grimace twisted as she replied. "But…"
"No." she cut in, stopping Naz from trying to convince her to let her go. "Cameron was right; you need to see a medic." Naz opened her mouth to respond, but Bo-Katan cut her off by placing her hand over the mouth. Or trying to as it was hard to do that with a pistol in it. "I know you won't do that. It's one of the things I love about you." She added as a smile crept onto her face. "So can you instead take overwatch?" She asked as she removed her hand from Naz's face and pointed to a building that would give sightlines of the plaza.
Naz followed her hand and saw the building. It appeared stable – otherwise Bo-Katan would never have recommended it – while keeping Naz away from the worst of the fighting.
Naz's shoulders slumped as she turned back to face her. "Fine. But you're coming with me."
"No. Cameron does need help." She offered, though she didn't really believe it. The main reason she wanted to reach the plaza was to see Cameron in action at close quarters. She had a feeling it would be something special to watch the Jetii cut loose against Death Watch.
"Bo, you're not going to…"
Bo-Katan smiled at Naz, then acting on instinct, leaned forward and kissed Naz hard. As she pulled back, she took a step away. "Yeah. I need to do this."
"I can't let you do that." Blairn said, reminding her that the Protector was still with them.
She resisted an urge to roll her eyes at the Protector thinking she could stop her from doing anything. While she'd been useful while they'd been pinned down by Death Watch, since then she'd been bringing up the rear and generally doing nothing.
"Try and stop me." She replied to the older woman with a smile, before winking at Naz then taking off at a full sprint. She considered heading directly towards the plaza from her current location, but given they'd run into a small Death Watch unit right here, and smoke from the explosion from a little earlier (which she suspected Cameron was behind) was rising near the next intersection, she decided to head a little south first. Better to come at the plaza from an angle where Death Watch might not be than one where they certainly would be.
Now, she could only hope she arrived in time to see Cameron fight against Death Watch. And maybe kill a few of those aruetiie herself.
Gar Saxon's POV
Gar ducked lower behind the wall he was using as cover (or what was left of it) near the edge of the plaza outside the Mandalmotors tower as said wall was peppered by multiple, rapid-fire blaster bolts. As small pieces of the wall broke loose and bounced off his helmet and armour, he cursed Death Watch for how effective their initial assault had been.
He'd never admitted it publicly (only once to Rook after a rather raucous bout of sex had the topic ever come up), but he understood the appeal of the group. The old ways had been cast aside by those diniie in Sundari and empowered by Duke Adonai's decision to ally with them (and he could understand the duke's reasoning, even if he didn't agree with it), thus any group proposing a return to the natural status of being Mando'ade would find support among the people. But to attack the ancient capital of Keldabe, and slaughter civilians (or at least, Mando'ade just going about their daily lives) and children… No, Gar could no longer believe Death Watch was anything but a group of aruetiie that needed to be exterminated. Along with the traitorous elements within the Protector core who'd aided in the assault on the city; and broken their oaths in the process.
"We're pinned down." Rook's call out over the squad comms came through loud and clear, even with more rubble bouncing harmlessly (so far) off his armour. He turned his head and glanced to where she, and two of the remaining six members of the Protector detail were cowering down. They'd been trapped behind an elevated area of garden that dotted the edges of the plaza outside the Mandalmotors tower. While the tree in the middle of that particular plot had long since been destroyed, the walls of it – while low – were sturdy and could take far more of a pounding than the wall Gar was currently using for cover.
"Stay down Kast. We've got no support incoming." Responded their squad leader, a Zabrak named Roprun. "Other units are working to secure targets closer to their location and get children and civilians out of the warzone." The Zabrak was trapped with the remaining member of their guard squad (two members had fallen in the initial Death Watch assault while the entirety of the other squad that'd been guarding this section of the plaza had been wiped out) inside a small restaurant a short distance beyond where Rook was pinned down.
Initially Gar hadn't enjoyed working with Roprun. Not because he was an alien, though Gar couldn't deny that was a slight issue he still had as his father had been very xenophobic (thankfully his mother was far more openminded about who could be Mando'ade), but because no longer being a team/squad leader was a shock to Gar's system. However, once he'd gotten past that initial discomfort, Gar had found the Zabrak to be a harsh, but fair leader. Roprun lacked any grace in his command style (a failing Gar shared with him) and was aggressive, but he was a solid unit commander.
"Understood." Rook replied, though Gar could detect the annoyance in her tone. Which wasn't a surprise as he was feeling the same way. Being on the receiving end of this attack and watching dozens of their fellow (loyal) Protectors gunned down in the initial assault and following attempts to retake the tower were wearing on Gar's psyche.
There had been no warning of that attack. One minute their squad had been standing guard in the square – keeping their distance from four Sun Guards that the Munn VIP in the tower had brought with him as an escort – when the next chaos was unleashed. Three of the four Sun Guards – along with two whole squads of Protectors – had died in dual explosions that rocked the plaza; then Death Watch had swarmed down from the roofs and streets around the plaza while the aruetiie within the Protector's ranks had stuck at their supposed friends and co-workers.
Before Gar was able to get his bearings, nearly fifty Death Watch commandos had stormed the lobby of Mandalmotors tower, overrun the security forces there, and taken control of the building's defences. Two more squads of Protectors – including the one containing Anno Hark and Trushrul Frka (two members of Gar's unit at the Institute) – were gunned down by the twin heavy repeating blaster cannons that Death Watch deployed once the lobby was secure. Another member of Gar's former unit, Ellan Aran, had already been removed from the battlefield after she lost a leg to a grenade.
With those repeating blasters in place, and Death Watch still holding several buildings and streets surrounding the plaza, a hastily arranged Protector counterassault had been massacred. Now, all Gar and the remaining Protectors could do was stay in cover and await reinforcements. However, given that the Protector communication channels were awash with reports of attacks on major Protector stations – and other targets of value – throughout the city, Gar had doubted any help would be coming. And Roprun had just confirmed that.
A strange silvery light appeared behind him. As he turned to aim his rifle at whatever had caused it, his helmet's sensors flared at a new, unexpected contact that had appeared out of nowhere about a metre behind him. However, in mid-turn, his rifle seemed to hit against an invisible barrier, and he almost lost his grip on it as his body continued to turn. As he saw who had appeared, he was glad he was wearing his helmet as it hid his shock and disbelief from sight (and he'd deny ever being shocked to his dying breath.)
"Hello there." Cameron Shan said, a small chuckle escaping his lips at some private joke. A blaster bolt from a member of Death Watch was swatted aside with a gesture as the Jetii stood there, and he just stood there as if waiting for Gar to respond.
"Where the shab did you come from?" Gar snapped out without any venom as he regained his senses. At the same time, he felt the invisible grip on his rifle (which he now realised was Shan using the Force) end. He pulled the weapon back into a more natural/useful position as he glared up at the younger man.
"From that building there," Cameron responded, flicking a hand (that Gar saw contained his unlit lightsaber) towards a building about a hundred metres west of Gar's location. "Though if you're meaning more generally, then from Duke Torrhen's cruiser."
Gar felt a small shred of hope blossom at the idea of reinforcements from Clan Ordo. "Where are his forces?" While he didn't doubt the remaining Protectors in the city could retake the tower, he doubted that would be anytime soon. And would likely result in the death of the VIP inside – who appeared to be Death Watch's primary target with this assault.
"On their way to Sundari." Shan replied, his head sinking into his shoulders for some reason. "Duke Anzur Varaud launched a simultaneous assault on the capital. He and my masters felt that was the more important target."
Gar grunted in understanding. Even if he didn't want to admit it – mainly because reinforcements would be highly useful right now – he understood that Sundari and Duke Adonai were more important in the current scheme of Mandalorian politics than a VIP from outside the sector. Yes, Keldabe held an important place in the hearts of all true Mandalorians, but in galactic terms, it was just another major city on the planet; hence why the Jetii would prioritize Sundari.
"Saxon! Who the shab is there with you?" Roprun's demanding shout/order cut off Gar's next question. With the computers in their armour and helmets linked in a battlenet, every member of Gar's unit would be aware of Shan's arrival.
"Cameron Shan." Gar replied quietly into his helmet microphone. "A Jetii Mando'ade." He added, which made the younger man frown. Whether that was because he wasn't sure he Gar was talking to, or didn't like being called a Jetii Mando'ade, Gar didn't know nor particularly care.
"Shab ni." Rook muttered softly – though obviously not quietly enough for her helmet to not pick up her words. Gar had to agree as he knew what Shan could do in a spar (even if it wasn't a live-fire or freeform spar), so getting to fight beside the Jetii was going to be fun.
"The Revan'ade?" Roprun asked back. Gar swore he saw Shan's eye twitch a moment later, but there was no way he could hear the Zabrak's comment, right? Gar's audio feed was directly into his ears and muted to external sources so unless a Jedi had a way to enhance their hearing – which, from what he knew about their abilities was possible – to allow him to hear Roprun, he couldn't have heard that.
"Yes," Gar responded. He thought about saying something to Shan since he knew the younger man disliked that title – even if, to Gar at least, he'd earned with his actions over the last year and a bit – but before he could, Shan began to move.
"Get Down!" Gar hissed out as the Jetii stepped beside him, but Shan ignored him. Gar's arm was stopped from grabbing the younger man by the Force, meaning he could only watch as Shan stepped around the wall Gar was using for cover into full view of the plaza. And the Death Watch fighters scattered around it.
"Saxon!" Roprun screeched into his ear, demanding to know what was going on. As he regained control of his arm – the Jetii's abilities were a nuisance – he scurried over to the edge of the wall, planning to pull Shan back into cover.
However, that plan failed because of two things.
Firstly, was the sudden, but Gar had to admit expected, increase in blaster fire. Death Watch had clearly seen Shan step out of cover and planned to mow him down. However, the second thing that stopped Gar was when Shan raised his free hand, and the bolts slammed against an invisible barrier.
It took Gar a moment to remember that Jetii could stop blaster fire with more than their lightsaber, something he'd received training in to counter. Yet to see it done for real was considerably more impressive than seeing it on a recording of when Mando'ade had fought the Republic's defenders in the past. And it was doubly impressive as it was a man of thirteen doing it, and making it look easy as Shan continued to walk forward at a slow but steady pace.
"Me'shab," someone muttered in over the battlenet comms, and Gar found himself agreeing. For a second, Gar's mind wandered back to his tournament fight with Shan; a fight that had been the single greatest fight in his life to date. Then, Shan had been holding back to show Gar (and his people) the respect he deserved. Yet, as Gar watched the younger man continue to slowly walk towards the tower, he began to wonder just how much Shan had been holding back. Once this battle was over, Gar made a promise to himself to spar with the Jetii no-holds-barred. He needed to see just how powerful the young man was, and confirm if what his mother had hinted at was possible.
But before that, he would enjoy the chance to fight beside Shan.
Gar leaned out from behind his cover, and as the fire aimed at Shan increased – indicating one of the repeating blaster cannons had targeted him – he took aim at a Death Watch trooper who was focused on the Jetii. Even as Shan continued to calmly walk forward, apparently unconcerned that a blaster cannon was firing on him, Gar lined up his shot, overcharged the chamber and fired off a bolt. The Death Watch trooper was sent spiralling back; his head bending unnaturally as it struck a bench. Gar quickly returned to his cover, aware that the trooper's squad mates would quickly turn their attention to his location. Something proven as bolts slammed into the cover of the wall, sending chunks flying and forcing Gar to move deeper into cover.
The second the fire at his cover lessened, Gar popped up, hoping to help Shan by taking out another Death Watch trooper. However, that intention was lost as he saw three rockets streak in from Shan's right. He opened his mouth to scream a warning, only for all three rockets to explode, showering the area of the plaza where Shan had been standing in intense flames.
"Di'kutla Jetii," someone else muttered over the squad's comms. While that person likely thought Shan had died doing something typically stupid for a Jetii, Gar wasn't so sure. Shan may be a Jetii, but he always seemed to move with purpose. Shan would've known Death Watch would've focused their attention on him as he stepped out, but that shift in focus by the aruetiie would allow gar and his fellow Protectors to move.
This was proven true as the flames and smoke of the explosions began to dissipate, and Shan was standing there; apparently unharmed. His cloak and robes appeared covered in dirt, while his hair was a few shades darker, yet apart from that, nothing seemed out of place.
The sensors in Gar's helmet detected movement (though that likely was from someone else in the battlenet as his focus was on Shan), on the third floor of the tower. Gar focused the sensors there, getting a zoomed-in image of two Death Watch troopers readying two more rockets. While Shan had survived the first barrage, and likely would do the same again, Gar wasn't going to let them take the shot. Quickly he aimed at the pair – using the sensors in his helmet to gain a boost to his accuracy and snapped off a shot. The bolt flew past Shan, missing him by perhaps a dozen hand's widths and sailed forward to slam into a launcher. The rocket inside exploded, killing both troopers in the explosion, with one unlucky soul sent flying from the third floor and ending up impaled on a railing just outside the tower's lobby.
Gar froze as, somehow, Shan's voice echoed around the entire plaza. If he didn't trust his mental defences, Gar would've sworn the Jetii was projecting his voice directly into his mind. More likely, Shan was using the Force to enhance his voice, and it must've carried to every corner of the plaza – and the surrounding buildings – as the rate of fire from both sides suddenly decreased.
"THIS IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE. SURRENDER NOW!" Shan added, making all blaster fire cease.
Shan started walking once more. His path clearly the lobby of the tower. That movement seemed to be a signal for the battle to resume as over a half dozen rockets came hurtling towards Shan from within the building. Gar moved on instinct to target one of the rockets even as the battlenet informed him others in his unit were doing the same.
However, before anyone could fire on a rocket, Shan thrust out both his arms and seven rockets froze in mid-air. No, they didn't freeze as Gar could still see their engines were active. Yet none of the rockets were able to move closer to the Jetii. Well, not moving quickly as the sensors in Gar's helmet logged that they were moving, but at a snail's pace, shuddering as they went.
Gar was so shocked by this that his focus slipped off of the fight as he viewed first-hand a feat that he'd only ever heard rumours about. His lapse was broken a second later as one, then both repeating blaster cannons opened fire, reminding him of the others on the battlefield. Yet, just as before, the bolts did nothing to Shan; instead slamming into an invisible barrier.
Gar focused his helmet's scanners on Shan and saw that while the younger man appeared comfortable, his fingers were beginning to shake. Likely the strain from holding back that many missiles while raising a barrier to protect against the cannon-fire was putting a strain on him. While that gave Gar an idea of Shan's limits, it wasn't overly comforting as it was a limit beyond what anything short of a platoon-strength fireteam could bring to bear. And, provided he survived this, Shan would only grow more powerful in the years ahead.
"Target those cannons." Gar called into his comms. Yes, he was overstepping his authority, but there was no way he wasn't going to help a fellow Mandalorian, Jetii or not. Yet, even as he brought his rifle to bear on the lobby, his sensors informed him that the missiles were losing thrust. With them being short-ranged ordinance, that made sense, but it would more than likely allow Shan to do something with the now u powered explosives.
Shan swept both arms towards the lobby, and Gar could only blink as all seventeen missiles were flung in that direction.
Instinctively, Gar ducked down as a massive fireball erupted from the lobby. The ground shook, though not enough to cause Gar to stumble. While powerful, even twice that many rockets wouldn't have been able to cause that kind of tremor. That meant that they'd either impacted something that boosted the explosion, or Shan had a way to increase their explosive yield. Gar silently prayed it was the former because he'd never heard about Jetii – or their splinter group the Sith – being able to do such things. If they could, then a single properly trained Jetii (like Shan) would be a literal one-being army.
As the tremors subsided, Gar peered over the top of his cover to see the aftermath. The lobby was in flames, and both cannons were gone. It was hard for his sensors to determine if anything was still alive in the inferno, but they could detect the remains of at least two Death Watch troopers on the steps leading to the lobby. Though the only reason the sensors couldn't be sure was that the bodies were in pieces and still burning.
"All units prepare t…" the words of one of the Protector commanders came over the battlenet, only to be suddenly stopped as Shan surged forward. If not for the inbuilt sensors in his helmet, all Gar would've seen was a blur. Even then, he struggled to follow Shan's movements as the Jetii propelled himself forward at a speed Gar could never hope to match.
Several blaster bolts came flying towards Shan, yet none hit him. Haran, the Jetii didn't even bother blocking them with that invisible barrier of his. He simply sped past them, and even as the first few bolts stuck the duracrete tiling of the plaza, Shan was at the entrance of the tower.
Several gasps came through the battlenet as Shan ignited his blade; the blade shape of it standing out easily against the blazing remains of the lobby. A pair of Death Watch troopers surged out of the flames, though before Gar could even scan them to see if they were injured from the explosion or not, Shan had moved forward.
A head bounced down the steps, joined less than a moment later by the upper half of the other trooper's body. Gar's helmet was (only just) able to process Shan's movement but even then, it had happened too quickly for Gar's brain to process.
As he started to understand what had happened, Shan vanished into the flames. A few seconds later, three bodies came hurtling out. As they bounced on the steps – inadvertently knocking the head between them like a ball – Gar confirmed the trio were Death Watch. Gar noticed that all appeared to have their limbs – or most of them, as one was missing a hand – but his focus was on making sure they couldn't get up.
He opened fire with his rifle on the trio, quickly joined by fire from Rook's location. That seemed to be the signal for the battle in the plaza to resume, though Gar noticed that without incoming fire from the lobby, the Protectors had the upper hand. If they were quick and efficient, they'd be able to surround and eliminate the remaining members of the Watch before they could escape into the city and do damage elsewhere.
The trio outside the lobby all fell – the sheer amount of incoming fire made sure they never had a chance – even as two more bodies were flung out of a window on the first floor. Gar shifted his aim to those two – even as he realised Shan was going likely going to clear the entire tower single-handedly – only for his helmet sensors to alert him of a new threat behind.
He dropped down, making sure his cover protected him from incoming fire from the plaza, and brought his rifle to bear on the corner of a nearby street. The sensors had someone at the corner though they hadn't stepped forward.
Gar snapped off a shot and caught the faintest of feminine grunts from the corner.
"Shab, I'm friendly, ok?" A voice called out. Gar recognized it, but he couldn't place who it was instantly. Still, that moment of recognition was enough for him to release some of the gentle pressure he had on his trigger. Not enough that he couldn't fire off a shot if this was a ruse, but enough that he wouldn't make a mistake and accidentally shoot a potential ally.
"BO?" Rook shouted, letting Gar know who was there. "Me'shab you doing?"
"Helping Cameron." Bo-Katan called back as she came around the corner. While Gar was confused as to why the woman was here – he'd been under the impression that, the celebration aside, she wasn't overly friendly with Shan – at least she had the sense to stay low. She crouched and moved towards his cover quickly, which made sense as it was the closest.
"That's Bo-Katan Kryze, commander." Rook explained to Roprun over the comms. "Last I knew she was in the city with Naz Vizsla."
"Kryze." He said in acknowledgement even as Roprun grunted in confirmation of Rook's explanation of who the newcomer was. Gar shifted around, readying himself to return his attention to the battle in the plaza.
"Saxon." The redhead replied. "Where is he?"
"In the tower." Gar replied before standing and firing off a burst at a location the battlenet indicated a threat was located. "Walked straight in there, not a care in the world. Got balls of beskar that one." He added as he ducked down.
"Haar'chak!" Kryze cursed as their cover to some return fire. "I want a recording of it." She demanded a moment later.
Gar began to respond, only for a flash of bright light to erupt in his periphery, followed closely by a heavy rumble. This one wasn't as violent as the previous one, but it did lead to another lull in the exchange of fire.
He popped his head over his cover for a moment – and saw that Kryze did the same, which was jareor as the woman didn't have a helmet – then down again. He saw that several of the windows about a third of the way up the building had been blown out from the force of an explosion coming from inside.
He pulled up a feed from someone else in the unit and watched as a faint black object surged across the opening where the transparisteel window used to be. The object - which Gar knew was Shan's lightsaber - moved like a viper, striking other larger objects, which Gar took to be members of Death Watch, then fading into the smoke and dust. Several bodies were flung out of the opening like pieces of refuse. Sometimes, Gar noted with detached interest, they were indeed in literal pieces as they slammed hard into the ground below.
Gar considered saying something to Kryze, but his attention was drawn to movement to his right. His helmet had movement there, and the battlenet confirmed it was hostile.
A few quick hand gestures let Kryze know what was up, and he raised his rifle to engage the incoming Death Watch. Kryze, though, had other ideas, and before he could ask her why she hadn't aimed her pistol properly, she'd tossed a small object towards the threat. The faint beeping from that object let Gar know what she'd thrown, and he braced himself before a moment later a corner of the building exploded.
Two bodies scurried to get clear of the now collapsing building, leaving them both exposed. Something Gar and his unit had no issues with exploiting.
As they ceased firing at the now, unmoving troopers, Kryze turned to him, a slightly deranged smirk on her face. "I want a copy of your battle logs."
Gar grunted as his helmet located his next target. "I suspect you'll have to get in line."
Gar was sure that, once Death Watch had been handled, many would be wanting to review the footage of this battle. Specifically, to see what one of the two Mando'ade Jetii had done to turn the tide of the battle all but single-handedly.
However, he was once more looking forward to the day when he could enter a battle at Shan's side. Deep in his bones he knew that, when it came, that no matter if they won or lost the battle would echo throughout history, and he planned to make sure his name was remembered with honour in the battle-rolls of his clan.
Hego Damask's POV
As he sat, seemingly helpless at the far end of the conference table (like everything he'd seen on the planet the table was spartan but functional in nature) the Munn known to the galaxy as Hego Damask was infuriated.
Oh, externally, he appeared calm; or he did if you couldn't see a few nervous ticks such as an inability to sit still or long, narrow fingers gently drumming against the table. Those little ticks would've led anyone who saw Damask to think he was nervous about how effective his Sun Guard unit was at defending him against the massive assault on the tower.
Yet internally, Darth Plagueis was irritated.
While he would normally use such anger and frustration to focus his mind, he was slowly reaching a point where he considered he might have to deal with these pitiful fools personally. However, he still maintained a durasteel grip on his restraint, since he knew that indulging in such reckless and fervent immersion in the Dark Side was what often led to Sith becoming unstable, and the purview of trained and bloodthirsty assassins, such as the one Sidious was grooming. A true Dark Lord of the Sith was above such an undisciplined loss of control and knew how to use their anger and hate in more efficient ways to maximum effect. However, the longer this siege continued, the more he felt handling the situation himself would sate the anger, even if it meant a tedious clean up to ensure there was nothing that could be traced back to him.
However, if it came to that, then so be it. Plagueis had already scoped out the tower to be aware of where the various visual and audio recording devices were. He also knew where the central security office was as if he did have to handle this situation personally, he couldn't leave any possible records that could link Hego Damask to the Sith. With every room and floor having a separate circuit for their security systems, the control room was the only easy point of weakness for him to target if he needed to handle the potentially annoying, but well-designed security system.
Within the conference room he was currently waiting in, the sensors – both visible and hidden – were already down (a simple matter for one such as he), so if he could contain his reveal to this place, handing the fallout would be easier. He had, for now, left the simpler audio recorders. If he needed to defend himself, he had several schemes where a recording of his interaction with the attackers would be beneficial to maintaining his cover. Should the attackers possess internal recorders in their helmets…well, then a display of Teras Kasi wouldn't be too suspicious - if unexpected for a Muun -, as long as he allowed himself to be suitably challenged by them.
Still, even with the preparation that he had set up in this room, Plagueis was devising, altering, and scrapping various plans, contingencies, and strategies. The Mandalorians, while much reduced from the time of Darth Bane, held the potential to be useful pawns in the Grand Plan, reclaiming the role that they had unwittingly filled at various points in galactic history for the Sith. Yes, the current ruling faction were nothing more than Lothal cats pretending to be Ralltiir tigers, but from what he'd seen, been told, heard and was now experiencing, a large portion of the populace still maintained their spine. Their obvious – and justified – rage at the Republic and Jedi was something that could be easily sculpted to suit his uses.
Yet, while his various plans regarding the locals were useful for keeping his mind sharp and his plans fresh, they paled in comparison to the potential that lay in his true reason for being on this backwater world.
When Sidious had first brought the descendent of Revan to his attention, Plagueis had been unnerved, if only for a short while. Darth Revan was one of the most powerful Sith of the Old Republic, displaying a deep understanding and mastery of both the Force, and its applications in war. His knowledge and methods were met with such success, that his holocron's teachings were used as the base for Darth Bane's Rule of Two; a system that had allowed the Sith to grow more and more powerful in the shadows while the Republic and Jedi grew weak. Thus, having a direct descendent of Revan appear – and at roughly the same time he and Sidious had attempted the Great Experiment with the Force – was unsettling.
Learning that the boy was being trained by Master Dooku, a man who was as anti-republic as it was possible to be while still wearing the label of Jedi, was an unexpected boon. Plagueis had once considered Dooku as an apprentice before selecting Sidious, and even now still had plans that could use the unusual Jedi to further the Grand Plan; plans that only needed for Dooku to leave the Order to be enacted. Though the knowledge that this child of Revan was also being taught by Master Fay; a one of the most obscured, revered, and least-known Jedi Masters in both the galaxy at large and in the Force, tempered some of Plagueis' approval of the boy's instruction.
For a time Plagueis had been willing to leave the child alone, though he ensured that Sidious and other agents continued to monitor him. When Sidious had reported the child had sparred with Grandmaster Yoda and had shown far more abilities than had been revealed before, Plagueis' interest increased. To any with a sound mind, it was clear the boy was deliberately holding himself back against his peers. While to most that would seem like a very Jedi thing to do, Sidious – and Plagueis once the reasoning was explained to him – felt differently.
His apprentice believed that the boy was hiding his abilities to allow him to gain allies and power within the Order. This theory took on more credence when, in a day that Plagueis could admit was one of those rare moments when he was truly caught unawares – Sidious discovered the child had increased his midi-chlorian count to unprecedented levels. Before, the boy held potential on-par with himself and Sidious - at least before He'd begun his experimentation with midi-chlorian manipulation, but now…
Well, it was one of the reasons Plagueis had come to this backwater of a planet.
Now, an increase in one's midi-chlorian count didn't automatically lead to a better ability to control the Force – or be led around by it like many Jedi were – but it did mean that a higher innate potential existed. And the Jedi, in their infinite wisdom (Plagueis had to suppress a sneer whenever he thought of those two things together) had done nothing with the boy.
Plagueis, though, was far more aware of what that count increase could mean and was eager to see if his hypothesis was correct. Despite that, he knew that kidnapping the child wasn't the way to approach the issue, since both the boy and his masters were far too high-profile. Yet, while he'd been considering just how to meet the boy discreetly, the child had, in another moment that caught Plagueis unaware, bent the Force to his will and screamed out through it, letting his anger and pure, undiluted hatred bleed into the Force.
Plagueis had savoured that moment, much the same way that Corellian connoisseurs would sample a new wine; both allowing themselves to enjoy the taste, while also staying alert for inconsistencies and weaknesses as possible areas of improvement. He wished he could've seen the faces of the Jedi High Council as they felt the wave of fury wash over them. Because of that, and the need to directly see what part the child would play in the Grand Plan, and if it was one that needed to be removed before the Plan could commence, he had travelled to this world under the guise of Hego Damask seeking to invest in Mandalmotors.
However, moments after arriving he learnt that his target of interest was off-world. If not for the fact he'd also been informed soon after that the boy would be returning in a week or two, Plagueis would've wrapped up the negotiations regarding Damask Holdings investing in Mandalmotors in short order. He'd later learnt that the boy had travelled to the homeworld of Clan Ordo at the invitation of the clan leader, suggesting that the boy was indeed beginning to cultivate alliances of his own.
Still, even if this incident today prevented him from meeting the boy, the trip hadn't been a total loss. Meetings with the CEO of Mandalmotors and its subsidiaries had gone well. Provided that the new leadership of the company – he had sensed the CEO Arde Yomaget die perhaps twenty minutes previously – honoured the agreements he'd reached with the old head, Damask Holdings would invest several billion credits in a joint venture with Mandalmotors. While the company didn't have anywhere near the size or capacity of well-known shipyards like Fondor or Rendili, it was a solid, profitable company that had proven its stability for several centuries. That it was on a world and sector where Cameron Shan had spent a year building bridges, was a helpful secondary benefit.
Another benefit of those meetings was being allowed to view a recording of Shan's hunt. While Yomaget had been reluctant to allow him to view the recording due to some cultural issues, Plagueis had successfully been able to purchase a recording from a Mandalorian who had attended the celebration feast and viewing. While the recording didn't show when or why Shan had dominated the Force to his will, it was still an interesting viewing. Shan's desire to prove himself to these people would be ridiculous if one didn't consider the potential the Mandalorians held. Yes, they were a scattered and damaged culture, but at the height of their power, they were a threat to rival the Republic.
From that perspective, Shan's desire to fight a greater krayt dragon while not actively using the Force – he certainly used it, though Plagueis was impressed the boy kept such instances to a minimum to limit suspicion – made sense. And, while he would always prefer subtlety and coercion to make his alliances, Plagueis could respect Shan for managing to kill such a fearsome beast. It was a testament to both Dooku's training and the boy's innate potential that he could manage such a feat.
As was the surge in the Force Plagueis had sensed around twenty minutes previously.
At that time, just after the seventh member of his twelve-member unit of Sun Guards fell to the terrorist onslaught, Plagueis had felt a pulse of formidable power through the Force. The pulse wasn't directed at him specifically and was simply the standard location detection that all Force users employed. Even so, when it brushed up against his cloak of concealment – the ability all Sith mastered to hide their presence from the Jedi – for a moment, it was strong enough that Plagueis was momentarily concerned that his cloak would be detected.
After it passed, Plagueis was able to determine, by process of logical elimination, that it was Shan who had sent out the surge. Why he couldn't say, but the natural researcher that lay at the base of his entire being quickly began to consider tests and projects he'd need to conduct to determine the limit and usefulness of such power. Cameron Shan was shaping up to be a truly fascinating study in his own right; even ignoring Plagueis' burning curiosity to learn how the boy had so massively increased his connection to the Force.
While Sidious was still central to the Grand Plan, perhaps there was a role in that plan for Shan; one where his potential to dominate the Force could be turned into an advantage for the Sith.
Plagueis suspected that Shan had used this surge to find someone within the city. From there, the only valid hypothesis was that his 'friends' were in danger, and he was moving to help them. Said friends, depending on their connections to local figures of importance – Plagueis knew Shan was familiar with the youngest daughter of the ruling duke of the sector – then that might be a vector of approach he could use (as both Damask and Plagueis) to gain a connection with Shan.
Wanting to confirm this hypothesis, Plagueis had sent faint, infinitesimal tendrils into the Force. This was done more to avoid detection and risk his cover rather than worry about the threat a Jedi Padawan (even a potentially powerful one) might pose. Shan had shown himself to be far more intelligent and discerning in his actions than most of the typical plebeian beings being groomed to become Jedi. His first act upon detecting Plagueis would likely be to call for backup, which would possibly throw away his long-crafted anonymity.
From those tendrils, he'd sensed a brief spike of anger, followed shortly after by a Shan bending the Force to his demands. Why it was used, Plagueis couldn't say, but the fact the spike of anger remained throughout this – even if it was seemingly ignored by Shan – was enough to hint at the possibility the boy could be turned from the Jedi. A possibility that grew when, in one particularly interesting moment, Plagueis felt Shan channel his anger and use the Force in an aggressive manner.
The death of two more of his Sun Guard – including one outside his room – forced Plagueis to draw back his tendrils. It was also why he was now at the far side of the conference room, as far from the door as he could be. He had slowly been feeling them die one by one, almost always coinciding with a barely discernible tremor running through the building. Explosives most likely, and powerful ones too considering that this building was designed to withstand an orbital bombardment. True, Plagueis' senses were boosted to the nth degree by the power flowing through him. But it was still an impressive accomplishment. Plagueis couldn't picture one of his Sun Guards being taken down by any less, even if the group he'd brought weren't the best of the best.
With only one remaining guard outside the room facing a group of highly skilled warriors on par with the Sun Guard, it was only a matter of time until they breached the door to this room. Hence why the Dark Side was lapping eagerly at Plagueis and enticing him to lash out and show these imbeciles who they were daring to assault.
He stood and moved gracefully behind the chair furthest from the door. Carefully, he reached into the Force, cautious of alerting Shan to his presence, and slowly demanded its servitude. As the power coalesced around him, he felt the elation and excitement of the Dark Side as it anticipated the glorious bloodshed soon to come. This was the power of the Force made manifest, though unlike many Sith before him, Plagueis was the one in control, not the Dark Side. The urges to inflict pain, to dominate the will of another, to inspire a being's primal fears; he dominated these urges to serve his own purposes and whims, not the other way around.
His thoughts sharpened as the impulses the Dark Side fed upon submitted themselves to him, helping focus his mind on what was to come. The Force began to hum, feeding strength and power into his limbs, sharpening his senses to an unnatural degree, readying his body to spring into action.
Only to turn in surprise as he felt another tremor, stronger this time as it was much closer at hand. As he turned his attention once more to the hallway beyond the door, he felt the lifeforce leave his final door guard – another was several floors below, but his ability to sense them in the Force was diminishing – though not before taking out one of the four outside the room.
The three remaining Mandalorians were easy for him to sense through the Force. Two were brimming with deliciously potent rage that, while he could, Plagueis allowed that rage to bleed into him, drawing further power from his soon-to-be attackers. The third, however, was different. There was rage there yes, but it was more subdued and not directed towards him. Plagueis could easily sense the altered mind of this third individual, but why that would be the case wasn't something the Force was willing to divulge. Still, it could give him a possible angle to work once the three entered the room; or at least an angle to pretend to play if he was able to avoid breaking cover to kill these fools. As they were preparing to enter the room, Plagueis began implanting and tweaking enough arrogant and prideful emotions needed to cause the fools to waste some time grandstanding. With luck, he could still manipulate the situation to his advantage.
The door to the room slid open, and the three Mandalorians became visible, though mainly as silhouettes against the darkened corridor outside. The first to enter did so with pistols drawn. Those quickly focused on him as Plagueis slapped down the desire of the Dark Side for him to lash out at the Mandalorians instantly. He felt there was more to be gained by trying to draw them out in conversation, and while not a significant threat to a Dark Lord, the Force was warning him that this one was the leader and the most dangerous of the trio. To be on the safe side, he continued to feed all three of them the cocktail of arrogant emotions which would manoeuvre himself into a more tactically advantageous position.
The second to enter was female, and the source of the strangely muted/misdirected fury, with her sweeping the room carefully to ensure no threat was hiding in a corner. Through the Force, Plagueis perceived her as less of a threat than the apparent leader, though still greater than the third Mandalorian (or any other Mandalorian he'd examined during his time on the planet.) The third member of the trio, and another male, stayed outside, acting as a bouncer.
"Your plot to seize control has failed," The leader of the trio announced loudly as Plagueis saw his grip tighten on his pistols. "Never again will any Mando'ade ever allow an aruetii to gain a foothold on Manda'yaim!"
Thanks to his master's meddling, Plagueis' ability to sense the future was all but destroyed. Yet, even then, he could tell this man wouldn't just execute him. No, thanks to his mental probes, the Mandalorian would likely feel the need to gloat at the 'inherent superiority' of his people – a falsehood given how far the culture had fallen from the influence and prestige they once held in the galaxy – and/or disparage Plagueis' own species for their apparent shortcomings.
"Nor should they." Plagueis replied in a tone that seemed calm but had a hint of faux concern embedded in it. "I merely wished to discuss a possible investment with the likely former leadership of this company that would've been beneficial to both of our companies, and likely Mandalore itself." He continued even as he sensed a subtle shift in the Force. "Though with the likely death of said leadership, possibly at your very hands, I suppose such an arrangement is no longer possible."
The leader grunted before he responded. "Yomaget fought well, but he had grown weak, honing his skills with words and coin instead of with mind and body. His death will serve a purpose in helping me unify the sector under strong, centralized leadership."
Internally Plagueis chuckled at the misplaced arrogance of the man, though externally he appeared pensive. "If that is the case, then I do hope that once this… situation is resolved, I will be allowed to depart the planet peacefully." He lifted an arm slowly towards his face, wanting to draw attention to his mask. "I am no threat to you or your goals, and I'm not looking to cause offence."
"Your mere presence already has, aruetii." The leader replied and Plagueis suspected the word meant something akin to an outsider. "Just as the training of Jetii by our warriors has. Mandalore is not some world that kneels at the altar of the Senate. You, the Jetii, and everyone else need to be reminded of that." He continued, raising his blaster pistols towards Plagueis.
"Please, I'm sure we can come to an agreement that doesn't carry the need for mindless bloodshed." Plagueis suggested as he raised his hands in what would appear a gesture of surrender. Though, if this maniac didn't accept Plagueis' suggestion to avoid carnage, those same hands were already drawing the Force to them.
The leader chuckled and flicked one pistol-holding hand back, over his shoulder. "Sadly for you, I quite enjoy the bloodshed." He remarked, drawing a chuckle from the bouncer.
Plagueis tensed, readying himself for the moment when he would need to act. Though a strange sensation within the Force, stilled him. And that was followed by spotting a subtle shimmer appear on a wall outside the room, directly behind the bouncer.
That third Mandalorian turned, likely due to technology in his helmet and armour detecting the strange occurrence. He brought his rifle round, only to have to shift his movement when he (and Plagueis) saw, and everyone heard the ignition of a lightsaber.
The saber was barely visible against the dark background, with only a white edging giving away where the blade was. The bouncer instinctively released his hold on the blaster rifle and whipped his forearm up defensively, blocking the lightsaber with his gauntlet. The slight colouration shift as the armour heated allowed Plagueis to determine that at least one of the insurgents – though likely all – were wearing armour at least partially composed of beskar.
Sparks flew from the bouncer's forearm as the lightsaber scraped down the arm, slashing through the weaponized gauntlet Mandalorians were known for. Those sparks, sending flecks of multi-coloured superheated particles throughout the hallway, illuminated the room enough that Plagueis was able to make out the figure that had emerged from the wall. This was Cameron Shan, Plagueis' primary reason for coming to this cursed planet.
The boy was tall for his age, and unlike most Jedi, wore a cloak over his robes. Also unusually, his hair was longer than what was normally accepted for Jedi Padawans. though what drew Plagueis' attention was Shan's eyes. As the lightsaber pulled back and the bouncer suddenly jerked in an unnatural way, Plagueis saw that Shan's amber-green eyes were as cold as the frozen surface of Mygeeto. Either the boy was able to steel his emotions for combat – an unusual feat for a Jedi Padawan – or he took no enjoyment from combat.
The latter hypothesis was proven wrong as the bouncer fell, one knee dropping lower than the other. This was clearly the result of being pulled there by the Force, though Shan hadn't made any grand gesture of doing that suggesting a control over telekinesis that most Jedi lacked. Plagueis felt Shan's excitement, desire and – most importantly – a strong and growing sense of fury as he drove an elbow into the bottom of the bouncer's armoured chin. While the boy was doing an exceptional job of not advertising those feelings, the fact he held them while fighting – and likely after slaughtering his way up to this room, if the constant stream of death Plagueis had been sensing was any indication – suggested to Plagueis the boy might be turned to the Dark Side.
The strike forced the bouncer's head back, exposing his neck. Thanks to the Force, Plagueis was able to track the rapid movement of one of Shan's hands as it reached out and gripped the throat. An accelerated twist – boosted by the Force – resulted in the bouncer all but spinning around while still kneeling. That brought the bouncer's front back to facing Plagueis; and made the kneeling man into a temporary shield for Shan.
By this point the two Mandalorians in the room had refocused their attention on Shan and had begun firing off blaster bolts. However, most hit their disorientated compatriot and the few that didn't were easy for Shan to avoid with the barest of effort. The whole sequence, from elbow to the chin to body shield only took a few seconds, but Plagueis was impressed. Very few Jedi would ever consider using another being for protection – a fact that often made their deaths occur soon after – though Plagueis felt the whole thing was a touch theatrical. Though since it drew the Mandalorians' attention from him onto Shan, he couldn't deny its effectiveness.
Just as the bouncer started to counter the hold, Plagueis was able to see Shan's lightsaber move. The blade slid clean through whatever armour the bouncer had around his neck – obviously not beskar – and as the head slid forward, Plagueis had to fight to stop his curiosity showing. While Jedi weren't against killing, the removal of a head was an extreme method for them to use to end a duel; doubly so when their opponent was kneeling in front of them. When coupled with the complete lack of concern at what'd he done on Shan's face, it made it clear to Plagueis that Shan had killed men before. Additionally, it showed he had no issues with killing in combat or acting in a brutal manner, suggesting that much like his ancestor, Shan may have an inclination towards the Dark Sith. That was a possible avenue to have the boy ostracized by the Jedi, then turned to the Sith; though it also increased the threat he could pose to the Grand Plan.
Plagueis wondered if that behaviour was entirely natural, or the result of an earlier trauma combined with the more sociopathic tendencies displayed by Dooku. Indeed, there were hints of the older Jedi' mannerisms in how Shan moved.
The bolts from the two remaining Mandalorians lessened, though Plagueis was able to see that was more because they were now moving than because of the death of their compatriot. The pair were spreading out, looking to flank Shan when the now headless body fell. Yet, unlike what those two were expecting, the body didn't fall. Plagueis could sense the boy using the Force to keep it upright; allowing him to maintain his mobility while still having it available as a shield.
Again, so very un-Jedi-like.
Even as they moved, the two remaining Mandalorians shifted their fire, trying to aim where the head of their compatriot had been. Yet, Plagueis felt another shift in the Force and those bolts impacted harmlessly with a Force barrier; one that extended out to cover Shan's flanks where the headless body couldn't function as a shield. This time Plagueis' brow did rise. While the generation of a barrier wasn't beyond a Padawan, Shan had done so without any obvious gesture. That spoke to a skill with the ability that many older Jedi lacked, and while a generally defensive ability, Plagueis knew that it had a use to even the Sith.
Once more the rate of fire lessened, and the faintest of movements from the leader drew Plagueis attention to him. He holstered his pistols, though the female increased her rate of fire to prevent Shan from taking advantage of the change. Moments later, the man had raised one gauntlet, and with the other hand made flames leap from it.
Shan's barrier was engulfed in flames, which seemed to be the signal for the female to move. She moved forward quickly, holstering her pistols before Plagueis saw her raise her now empty hands. He blinked in surprise as engaging in hand-to-hand with a Force user was not at all a common occurrence. There were only a few cultures in the galaxy that had come up with effective counters, and he was eager for the opportunity to study one up close.
The flames receded as the female reached striking distance, and while Plagueis wasn't surprised to see Shan unharmed, it was still good to see. Mainly because Shan defeating these warriors allowed Plagueis to observe the boy in action without having to risk his cover. The distinctive blade of Shan's lightsaber thrust forward, aiming for the female's throat. The female shifted her arm up, letting the blade slide harmlessly against her vambraces, which were clearly made of beskar as they held against the lightsaber.
Shan didn't appear too concerned by this development. That wasn't unexpected from someone who's spent a year training with these people. He took a step forward, stepping inside the female's guard and with the fluidity of movement that spoke of his years of training, slid his blade away from the block while thrusting his free hand forward a fraction.
That gesture sent the female flying back with such acceleration that Plagueis was forced to duck. A huge crash came from behind him, and he glanced back to see the female had been thrown into the wall of the room.
A surge of anger burst through the Force and Plagueis saw the remaining Mandalorian tense. "Jetii!" The man all but spat out. "You will fall by my hands!"
Shan smirked even as Plagueis had to fight off an urge to scoff and roll his eyes. This Mandalorian was quickly devolving into one of those villains that were popular in children's stories available over the Holonet.
"Your troops said much the same thing." Shan retorted as he took a step back. "I have to say that it gets a bit repetitive after a while."
Plagueis felt the Force subtly shift and he knew the barrier had been disengaged even as he watched the boy adopt the opening stance of Makashi. That wasn't unexpected as Sidious had informed him that the boy was skilled in the form and was being trained by Master Dooku. However, the relaxed position of the blade, as Plagues expected, resulted in the Mandalorian's anger flaring once again. "Shame they were about as useful as an Ewok in a blizzard." Shan added with a smirk, further inflaming his opponent's anger.
With no hint from the Force that Shan was attempting to empower his words in a display of Dun Möch, Plagueis was impressed, although slightly disappointed that the boy was attempting to use mere taunting as a strategy in his fighting, though he wondered if enraging the Mandalorian was the best approach. Everything he could sense from the human adult hinted that he took strength from that rage. An almost Sith-like quality that was sadly wasted on the fool. Hearing that the lower-level warriors within the building hadn't been able to stop Shan wasn't unexpected; he was here after all. Yet, the casual dismissal of them, along with the arrogant tone was. Again, this suggested a shared inclination towards more natural behaviour like his ancestor, or that Dooku was having a greater effect on the boy's psyche than either Jedi had realised. Though Plagueis suspected it was a bit of both.
"You will find me more than capable of backing up my words." The Mandalorian growled out as he grabbed a long, slightly curved blade from a magnetic clamp on his back. "I will take great pleasure in mounting your head over the entrance of this tower and adding your lightsaber to my family's collection." He continued as the blade was brought into a fighting stance. As it moved in the light, Plagueis could see the distinctive ripples that signified the blade was made of beskar. That would make this fight a fraction more interesting to observe.
Shan's stance didn't shift, though Plagueis saw his eyes glance at the blade. Good. So the boy recognized the beskar for what it was. While seeing a Jedi's face when something was able to block a lightsaber was amusing under most circumstances, Plagueis was more interested in seeing how Shan fought than watching him die.
That roar came from behind Plagueis, and the Force warned him of a need to move. Keeping up his cover, he shuffled away from the hole in the wall just in time to avoid the enraged female as she came storming back into the room. Unlike before, the rage was no longer subdued, though Plagueis was easily able to sense confusion mixed in with it. Still, that didn't seem to be impairing the female as her focus locked on Shan.
She charged forward, and Shan shifted on his backfoot in preparation for the new assault vector. However, Shan's shift to the more vocal threat was a miscalculation as it left an opening for the male, which he took. Plagueis could see that, much like his master, the boy clearly favoured Makashi. Unlike Dooku, however, he had clearly not yet learned how to modify the Ysalamiri form to deal with multiple opponents.
The beskad thrust forward in a basic attack, which Shan was easily able to sidestep. He then leapt back to avoid a wild haymaker from the female. The leap back had cost him his stance though, and the male took advantage. Yet even with his stance unbalanced Shan was able to deflect the strike with the elegance of a skilled Makashi practitioner, then angle his blade forward to meet the still attacking female. Yet, in a move that caught both the boy and Plagueis unawares, the female reached out and grabbed the lightsaber blade.
A fraction of a second later, as Shan's brow rose, then furrowed in irritation, Plagueis realised that the female must be wearing a set of the Mandalorians' infamous Crushgaunts, designed to both enhance strength and resistant enough to allow her to grab the superheated blade of a lightsaber with no apparent ill-effects.
In that moment of confusion, the male struck. His blade thrust forward yet again. Shan tried to move to avoid the attack. However, with his lightsaber trapped, he couldn't evade properly; not if he wanted to maintain control of his weapon. The blade sunk into, then through Shan's upper right arm just below the shoulder, exiting the other side with a crunch of bone and a spray of blood.
Plagueis sighed as the female ripped the lightsaber from Shan's loosened grip. The boy had potential, but as his lightsaber was tossed away, Plagueis felt it was about to be squandered by his death. A waste of potential, but not one Plagueis would allow to concern him from this moment on.
Slowly, he altered his stance, and began to summon the Force to him, only to feel the Force begin to churn unexpectedly. Anticipating this new development, he braced himself before, a moment later, he and the two Mandalorians were driven back by a wave of Force energy that emanated from Shan.
While the wave had caught him unaware, he wasn't knocked over; only requiring a single step backwards to restabilize himself. The two Mandalorians however, were far less fortunate. Both were knocked off their feet, with the male slamming into the wall on one side of the room while the female was slammed into the edge of what remained of the table.
Before either could regain their footing, Plagueis felt a spike of anger through the Force as it bent to Shan's will. The female was suddenly lifted upwards with enough velocity that the lights in the roof shattered as she impacted them. As Plagueis watched, he felt yet another microtremor echo through the roof and walls upon impact, though even as that happened, the female was slammed back down into the table.
Plagueis was forced to duck and shield himself – purely to maintain the illusion that he was nothing more than a simple Munn businessman trying to earn a profit in the galaxy – as the table exploded upon the impact.
As the female was lifted upwards into the air again, Plagueis closed his eyes and took a moment to enjoy the pure, unadulterated rage and desire for retribution that was flowing out from Shan. Yet, as a flick of Shan's wrist sent the female careening towards the male Mandalorian, Plagueis sensed the boy begin to reign in that anger. However, Shan wasn't trying to ignore it, nor banish it. Instead, it felt as though he was trying to focus it; as if to draw strength from it, within the Force, Plagueis could sense the anger being directed towards the two Mandalorians.
The male was able to scramble just enough to avoid the inbound female, who collided with the wall behind her again. Plagueis thought he saw the flicker of a grin on Shan's face as, with a larger burst through the Force, the table in the centre of the room sped towards the woman. Just as she was rising to her feet, it collided squarely with her helmet, causing her neck to jerk around, and bouncing her head off of the wall. She slid to the floor and didn't move, her life force dimming in Plagueis' senses as she was knocked unconscious.
Another warning from the Force had Plagueis turn his attention back to the male in time to see him fiddle with one of his gauntlets. The next moment Plagueis was driven to one knee as the room was engulfed in loud, chaotic high-frequency sounds. Being a Munn, his aural perception was weaker than other races, though that was faint help with the mind-interfering patterns being generated by the sonic disruptor.
It seems that these Mandalorians had come expecting to fight a Jedi; or at least were prepared for such an eventuality. While the other weaponry they'd deployed were aimed at Shan, a sonic disruptor affected all Force users equally. Though Plagueis was grateful he hadn't yet broken his cover to reveal he was Force-sensitive, allowing him to channel a sliver of the Force to counter the disruption while the remaining Mandalorian – from who Plagueis could see ripples in the air generated by the sonic device – closed on Shan.
The boy had fallen to one knee – clearly hampered worse by the sounds due to his closer proximity and keener auditory senses – and was trying to cover his ears. However, with one arm badly wounded to the point of almost being useless, that was a failing proposition. The Mandalorian raised his other gauntlet, and a stream of condensed fire shot forth.
The flames engulfed Shan before Plagueis could even consider how the boy could counter them. If not for the boy's rage and pain screaming out through the Force, Plagueis' would've made the mistake of assuming he would soon be dead. However, that pain and fury wasn't because of the flames touching Shan's body. No, Plagueis could almost taste Shan's desire to brutalise the Mandalorian for continuing to hurt him.
Shifting from what remained of the chair he'd been using for cover, Plagueis came to a new vantage point to see that Shan had managed – if only barely – to slide his cloak over his arm; the arm that had been wounded earlier by the Mandalorian's blade. What caught him by surprise was that the cloak was withstanding the flames. He had thought the cloak was a simple way for the boy to emulate Master Dooku, but he now realised that it wasn't. Remembering the recording he'd reviewed several times, Plagueis suspected the cloak was made from the skin of the greater krayt dragon that Shan had killed. A Logical thing to do with skin that was prized for its damage resistance properties, though unexpected for a Jedi – especially a mere Padawan – to wear such a reminder of their kill.
Clearly, the boy was closer to both his Jedi masters than Plagueis or Sidious had anticipated. That would require further analysis to determine possible ways it could be exploited to further the Grand Plan. As would the fact the boy was only likely to grow more distant from the High Council with everything that had and was happening to him on this planet.
As the flames blasted against the cloak, Shan's anger continued to grow. Plagueis knew that, for all its special properties, the cloak would have a limit and he was curious to see what Shan would do; not just immediately after the cloak failed but how he'd win this battle.
The flames died out, which thanks to the Force, Plagueis was able to tell was due to the fuel cell running dry, and Plagueis had a fleeting moment to examine the cloak. It was now almost entirely black, though otherwise appeared undamaged, making Plagueis wonder if he could purchase some of the skin from Shan for analysis.
The male lunged forward, striking out with his blade even as his other gauntlet continued to emit the sonic pulses. While Plagueis was now able to withstand them, it appeared that being closer to the source – combined with his injury – was causing Shan some difficulty. The boy reacted slowly to the incoming attack, sliding back slightly while lifting the cloak towards the blade. Surprising Plagueis, the cloak held against the blade, or at least was able to divert the thrust enough that it missed Shan and guided the sharpened edge of the blade away from his body.
The Mandalorian growled and instantly switched his avenue of attack. He rolled his shoulder, twisted his wrist, and brought the blade down on Shan with a downward stroke. Yet, in the time it'd taken the man to do that, Shan had reached out with the Force and wrapped the cloak securely over and around his shoulder, upper arm, and elbow, fashioning an unconventional shield. The cloak again held, but the force of the blow was enough to force Shan to slide backwards and shift his footing to brace himself.
Plagueis felt a brief flicker in the Force, and then spotted Shan's lightsaber hilt slide up from the floor towards the boy. However, the Mandalorian turned in time to smack the hilt away with a foot. Likely, the movement was detected by sensors within his helmet.
Unbridled fury flared in Shan, and Plagueis enjoyed sensing it, though it only lasted a moment before Shan once more regained control of his emotions. Once more, the boy did something most other Jedi wouldn't and used that fury to focus his attention. Plagueis was impressed as it was something both he and Sidious did, but not something any Jedi would've been taught. While the way Shan did it was crude, it showed yet more promise in the boy's potential to further the Sith's plans.
The Mandalorian took a step towards Shan and lifted one hand from his blade. That hand reached forward, clearly to rip the cloak from Shan's arm, while the other moved the blade into a low guard position from which a quick attack was possible. However, just before the free hand reached the cloak, the familiar hiss of an igniting lightsaber cut through the sonic pulses and a flash of gold came around from Shan's back.
Plagueis saw that the boy now held a lightsaber shoto in his uninjured hand and wondered where the blade had come from. There didn't appear to be a second clip on the Jedi's belt for the blade, so it was likely secured behind his back; being hidden by the cloak. Not something a typical Jedi would do, but Plagueis was more than aware that Shan was far from typical of the delusional Jedi Order.
The lightsaber caught the beskar blade from underneath and near the tip giving the boy overwhelming leverage – Shan making use of his much lower stance to slide under the Mandalorian's guard – and pushed it up and towards the man. That forced the Mandalorian to take a few steps back to retain his balance, which generated a large enough gap between them that Shan was able to regain his footing.
Shan grimaced – possibly from the pain of the quick movement – as he slid into a loose Makashi stance. While he disdained lightsaber combat – even if he had mastered all seven forms to prove – Plagueis understood it served a purpose. Shan's stance was loose, likely due to both his injury and the shorter blade he was wielding. That made his height and reach disadvantage even greater, though the way the Force swirled around Shan, Plagueis was certain the boy could overcome those weaknesses.
Shan lunged forward unleashing a flurry of short slashes and precise thrusts, showing prodigious skill, for his age, with his chosen form. Though they succeeded in forcing the Mandalorian to go on the defensive, Plagueis noted while the velocities were technically proficient, they lacked finesse. It was almost as if he was watching a droid attempt the form: All skill, no style.
To Plagueis, driving the larger man back while wounded and wielding a shorter than normal blade was an impressive demonstration, yet he was more focused on how the boy was interacting with the Force. It was similar to the way other Jedi allowed the Force to guide them, but Plagueis sensed an undercurrent of anger being used to empower Shan's connection. An unusual approach, and one Plagueis was near certain would be unsuccessful in the long term given how diametrically opposed the two viewpoints were. Many before Shan had tried and failed. Oh sure, they were able to pull on both sides of the Force but pulling on both simultaneously as Shan was attempting was infinitely harder than simply having a foot in both camps.
However, as Shan continued his attack, he couldn't deny that the boy was doing far better than most newly minted Knights would do. Yes, the sheer textbook nature of his technique created flaws in his form that any true blademaster could easily exploit, but Shan's opponent, while quite skilled, was not a true blademaster and was neither fast enough nor skilled enough to be able to withstand the boy's speed and precision.
The Mandalorian was able to parry one of Shan's attacks and launch into a short flurry of his own. Though none came close to landing, their probing nature forced Shan to focus on the defence. Or at least it did, until Shan moved forward with a speed few in the galaxy could follow unaided – never mind match – stepped inside the Mandalorian's guard and twisted his wrist. The Mandalorian's helmet clearly allowed him to track the movement – something Plagueis was able to do through the Force, though even he would admit to being momentarily caught off-guard by a speed increase of that magnitude coming from a Padawan – and moved to counter, however his body couldn't match the speed needed.
Sparks flew as the tip of the lightsaber dug into one of the gauntlets, disabling the source of the Mandalorian's flamethrower with a small burst of fire. With unusual grace for one so young, Shan's blade seemed to dance up the beskar armour before biting into the mesh at the elbow. A flick of the wrist and the blade sliced clean through the joint, letting the now detached forearm bounce harmlessly off the floor.
Such a point of attack was more in keeping with a Jedi, but the fluidity of the attack impressed Plagueis. Yes, he was being trained in Makashi by Master Dooku, but he'd never seen one so young move with such ease.
The Mandalorian twisted awkwardly, trying to bring his blade around to behead Shan. The Jedi ducked and brought up his cloak-covered shoulder. Or he tried to, as the arm – badly wounded as it was – struggled to move and locked up. The beskar blade caught the cloak on the edge. Shan hissed as the cloak was severed and the blade ran down his arm with a large spurt of blood, exacerbating the earlier damage.
Even as he grimaced in pain, Shan was on the attack. As the Mandalorian's blade swung clear of his body, Shan thrust forward with his lightsaber, connecting with the Mandalorian's remaining forearm. Plagueis offered him a silent thank you as the accursed sonic pulses ceased as that weaponry on that gauntlet was disabled.
The Mandalorian took a step back, and struck once more from above, bringing his blade down in a powerful overhand chop. However, his pain had made him sloppy, and Shan instantly made him pay for it. Stepping in close and catching the man's downward strike on the shoto's blade near the hilt, he deftly redirected it towards the ground. He stepped on the beskad, moving further into his opponent's guard as he did so, his shoulder almost touching the Mandalorian's chest. His blade flowed up the beskad and traced over the armoured bracer in a shower of sparks before brutally taking it off at the elbow. Smoothly following through on the momentum, the blade then spun in a tight loop before Shan began a second twist that cleanly removed the head of his opponent. The body softly dropped to the floor as the helmet fell to the ground with a clatter, the remnants of the head dislodging slightly from the inside.
Plagueis blinked again in genuine surprise. That was not a move the Jedi condoned, in fact most Jedi considered Sai Cha a borderline Sith manoeuvre; certainly not one which would ever be used on an apparently defeated opponent. If other Jedi learnt of this, Shan would likely be heavily reprimanded, if not expelled from the Order. While this opened up some avenues for manipulation, Plagueis knew that if he revealed that, then any plans he had for ingratiating himself with the boy would fail before they could truly begin.
The battle over, Shan's shoulders slumped as he looked down at the severed head of the man he'd just killed. In that moment, Plagueis considered, and rejected, giving the boy the faintest of pushes through the Force to indulge in the violence he'd just unleashed. The Dark Side clearly hungered for it; however, the rational nature of his mind knew that would be an unnecessarily dangerous risk to take, not to mention premature even if it were to work. Killing the boy now would be child's play, but it would be a waste of a potential asset. An asset for which Plagueis was already considering new strategies for exploitation.
The moment passed and Shan took a deep breath. Plagueis felt the Force settle around him as the boy released his built-up anger. With the battle over, that was the sensible thing to do, even if some anger would likely help keep his mind focused through the pain from his shoulder that must be coming close to overwhelming him. A faint, blink-and-you'd-miss-it, smile crossed the boy's lips before he clipped his shoto onto his back (confirming there was a magnetic clip there.) A simple gesture and his main lightsaber returned to his hand and Plagueis felt a calming aura emanate from the boy. Like most Jedi, he clearly placed a great deal of importance in the tool; something that showed the hypocrisy of the Jedi's code and attachments.
Shan turned to face him, and Plagueis saw the boy's entire posture shift. Where before there was a warrior, now there was a wounded young man. His injured shoulder slumped, and he supported it with his good arm while the effects of the battle seemed to catch up with his body.
"Master Damask, my name is Cameron Shan." He paused and gave a weak nod of his head. That resulted in the remains of the cloak sliding from his arm, revealing a decent slice of the upper arm and shoulder had been removed by the beskar blade. "Are you unharmed?"
Plagueis allowed a weak chuckle to filter out through his mask. "I believe I should be asking you that, Master Jedi."
Shan chuckled as well, though it quickly ended as he grimaced. "Yeah. Though I'm not a Master." There was a pause as he whispered something to himself. "I'm a Padawan."
Plagueis stepped towards the Jedi, making sure to be overly mindful of his step to reinforce his persona. "Truly? Then I am highly impressed by your actions today. Without them, I fear I would be dead, and for that I am in your debt, young Jedi."
"All part of the job." Shan remarked with a strange smile and a lazy salute.
"Are you well?" He asked, showing concern for his supposed saviour while gesturing at the blood still seeping from the wound on Shan's shoulder.
Shan looked at the wound before closing his eyes. The Force swirled around the boy once more as a gentle silvery-blue light caressed the wound. While the skin didn't heal, or the missing muscle regrow – which was something very few Jedi were capable of without significant training – the blood flow slowed then stopped. Shan staggered a little as he opened his eyes.
"There. That'll hold for now, though I know they'll bitch at me about it." He remarked, his eyes drifting towards the darkened window.
"I-I've never seen a Jedi do that before." He commented slowly as he came closer. While he doubted the boy would think about the moment when he'd almost brute-forced his way through the cloak of the Force he used to hide his nature as a Sith, Plagueis needed to be careful. Raising the boy's suspicions was something he wished to avoid. No need to have the boy suspecting that he was more than he appeared until that moment was needed.
"It's not an easy thing, and there are many better than me at it." Shan replied before chuckling as he looked down at the bisected body. "My skills lend themselves more to causing wounds than healing them."
"For which, you have my eternal gratitude." Plagueis offered as he also looked down at the body. While that operative's actions had cost him a dozen Sun Guards, and likely the opportunity to invest in Mandalmotors, it had allowed him the chance to observe Shan at close quarters; and granted him an easy way to stay in contact with the boy. Overall, an acceptable, if pricey, cost.
"As I said, all part of the service." Shan slowly lifted his leg over the chest of the dead Mandalorian. "Now, I don't know about you, but I've had quite enough of Die Hard for one day."
Plagueis was confused about the reference, which made the confusion on his face genuine. "Indeed. Please, lead on young Jedi." He said, gesturing towards the room's original entrance.
As Shan turned and offered his back to him, Plagueis began to run through his strategies. Already he could see that some would be doomed to failure. Others however, had potential.
Yes, the boy was trained as a Jedi, and had elements of their weak-minded philosophy. However, the person he saw in combat today had the makings of, if not a powerful and charismatic Dark Lord leading and guiding the will of the rabble beneath them, then certainly a Sith Warrior on-par with those of the old empires. A general to lead their armies and command the projection of their power and authority. And as Sidious had convinced him, there were uses to having other Sith outside the Rule of Two to act on their behalf in furthering the Grand Plan.
Now all he needed to do was guide the boy down the path most beneficial to the Sith; the path that led to the fall of the Republic and the destruction of the Jedi Order once and for all.
A/N: This should be the last chapter to need/get a translated section of Mando'a. For most words that crop up from now on, they'll likely be curses and I think by now that most people can guess their meanings.
This story is currently cross-posted on Questionable Questing and Archive of our Own.
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May the Force be with you. Always.