One week ago.
The leader laughed. He knew, beyond all reason of doubt, that this impudent fool could not win against so many of his crew. He clapped his hands slowly, mock applauding him. 'Very good.' he said in Basic, but his species' vocal chords made forming the words difficult, and they came out heavily accented, barely recognisable. 'I like spirit. I could have used you in my crew,' he smiled sympathetically, 'but do not abide fools. Even Jedi fools.' He switched back to Sullustese, 'take him. Keep him alive for the Knight recruits.'
Jax knew he could not win a straight fit. Not here, not now, not like this. But that wasn't the point. Before he had jumped down the pirates were still spread out, still collected in small groups, but his intervention had brought them all crowding around. He turned on the spot, seeking out the densest group and, spotting them, reached out with the Force for the first thermal detonator. Instead of throwing it at the group, he flicked it up, high to the ceiling. Just in time, as the timer reached naught, there was a blinding flash, a crash of noise, and then a roar as tons of rock fell down, on to the tightly packed group of pirates.
Taking advantage of the chaos, as the others looked around them, covering their eyes from the expanding dust cloud, Jax leapt toward the leader, swinging his blade up, to bring it crashing in a vicious overhead slash. But the leader's pike was there to meet the blade. His blade did not pierce the pike. Momentarily stunned by this setback, the leader took advantage and kicked Jax in the stomach, hurling him back. Gathering himself, he turned in the air to land on his feet. The rest had gathered their wits, and were descending on him, more wary now, and more spread out. He needed to change that and fast.
He leapt over their heads to land in a corner and whipped his blade out at his nearest opponents, ably scything through a wrist, a thigh, taking them out of the fight. He kept his movements to a minimum, for he needed to concentrate on the detonators that now made their way to crevices in the rock ceiling, including just above him. Satisfied, he flicked the timer and centred himself in the fight. Most were armed with blasters, but in the mass hubbub none could get a clean shot, and it was those closest to him that he took out first. He sliced their weapons in two and then, when they came at him with knifes, even simple eating utensils, he took their arms off. His feet, one in front of the other, were rooted firmly to that spot. As they came, now with vibroswords and staffs, he slipped into what he knew best. He knew how to duel. He smiled, and wondered what he looked like to his enemies. It was not the ones that came on in a rage that he feared, but the ones that loved the fight, that stayed calm, that looked you in the eye with a pitiless stare as they tore your life from you that he feared. At that moment, he was such a fighter. And, at that moment, just as the many enemies came on, just as the timer counted that last second, he jumped, leaving them to be crushed by tons of falling rocks, dislodged by the vaporizing detonator.
He landed on the other side of the room, underneath another. But he was in trouble this time. Before, he could take them on a couple at a time -child's work for a Jedi- but here they surrounded him. Two came at once from opposite directions and he spun, blocking high then sweeping low to cut off the legs of one, he turned, advancing on his imaginary line in the dirt, on one, flicking his wrist to take the sword hand of one, then to make a diagonal slash down that same pirate's chest. He flung his free arm out, smashing his fist into the face of one oncoming enemy, but he missed the other coming from behind.
Doc didn't. The red bolt bore down from the other side of the room like an avenging demon, cracking the Ash Angel skull before ripping through the Sullustan one beneath. His next took one in the stomach, and he doubled over in pain, stopping two from advancing on Jax, but as the seconds counted down, he flung an arm wide, pulling as many as he could towards him before leaping to safety. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the feather-crested leader yell at his subordinates, before making a run for the exit.
Jax had had enough. He may not have been the best fighter, or a demolitions expert, but he knew how to build, how to make things. Forsaking his plan to take them out piece-meal, he gathered the grenades, counting on Doc to keep him safe with precision fire, and planted them in the structural holding points, the places that kept the room from collapsing, and set them for a five second timer.
'Doc, we need to get out of here!' He called into the darkness, where he thought Doc was nesting. He cast his senses towards Zen, and was relieved to find him alive, albeit barely. As gently as time would allow he picked up Zen and suited action to words by running for the exit. Doc jumped down to the floor and ran flat out towards him, dodging attacks. Jax himself put Zen down on his front and kept the others at bay with Force pushes, keeping them bottled up, keeping them in. But Doc had further to run, and had no Force abilities to aid him. He wasn't going to make it on his own. With a snarl Jax leapt to him, lunging his sabre at a threatening Sullustan, picked him up and threw him over his shoulder, before putting in a burst of Force aided speed out of there.
Just in time. There was a blinding flash from above, the heat from it almost burning his skin, and in a thunderous roar and expulsion of dust and rock, the ceiling collapsed.
It didn't sit well with him, being the cause of all that death. But he knew, or at least consoled himself, with the fact that it was self defence, just as earlier was, too. Doc bent down to tend to Zen, but Jax waved him up irritably.
'He's just had his ribs torn out. He could crash at any second.'
'He'll live,' he said more firmly. 'Trust me. I put him in a Force heal.'
Doc looked at him skeptically, his lips pressed in a thin line. After a few seconds he seemed to accept his words. 'Okay. Where to?'
Jax reached out, trying to sense the leader. While he could sense others running around in confusion, he could also feel a dark taint and that, he figured, was what was hiding him. Trusting in the Force to guide him, he took one step after the other, and then those steps turned into a jog, then a run, and soon he and Doc were in sight of the crested leader, who was running for his life down a corridor, turning left at the end into a tech area. They followed in pursuit, but their pace was slowed in the tech area, where all manner of machines blocked their path. After passing the technological maze, they entered a cavern. The cavern was dominated by a freighter underneath a large hole in the ceiling-their means of exit. The running lights were on, and Jax could see the leader in the cockpit, hands flying over the dashboard. At that moment the crested leader looked out and spotted the pair. He turned and yelled into the hold of the freighter, and just a few seconds later six or so armoured humans ran out. They were armed with the odd lightsabre resistant pikes that the leader had.
'Neuranium,' Doc muttered. When he saw Jax's arched brow, he pointed to the weapons. 'They're made of Neuranium. Lightsabres can't cut through it. You're screwed.'
'Thanks for the vote in confidence.'
They advanced on the group, who stood, barring their passage, making no move to attack. He reached out with the Force, but these, too, he could not sense.
'Your leader is under arrest.'
'He is not our leader.' The one to the fore said.
'Then why protect him?'
'He is our protector, and our servant.' The guard's voice become firmer, even, but nonetheless with an undercurrent of a threat. 'Leave, Jedi. For if I defeat you, I will make your death last for days, your screams will be left unheard, your pain will be feasted on by my men, and when I do let you die, you will thank me.'
Jax stood still, showing no emotion, save for the slow smile that crept over his face.
'If.' was all Jax said.
He offered his opponents a salute, before pointing his blade to the one who spoke, marking him as the first to die.
He was. He was a good opponent, Jax admitted later, but he was no duelist. He managed to block the first few blows, but quickly Jax had the measure of him. As Doc reined fire on the others, which was absorbed by their armour, Jax plunged his blade into his enemy's knee, collapsing him to the floor. He didn't cry out, he seemed to savour it. That was when he turned a Force blast on Jax, which took him by surprise, sending him hurtling across the decking. One of the other guards loomed over him, about to rip the pike into his stomach, but Doc fended him off with a frenzy of blaster bolts before he, too, was knocked back.
Jumping to his feet, Jax whirled his lightsabre at the guard nearest to Doc, cutting through his legs. He took out his short sword and leapt for the first guard, who swung his pike round in a sweeping arc, but Jax was inside of the arc and he caught the staff in his side, wrapping his arm around it, trapping the weapon before he plunged his sword into the guard's gut, angling it up to pierce his heart. He felt the man's life ebb from his body. Even though he wore a helmet, he looked into his vizor, hoping for eye contact. 'If.' he said again, before his spirit was caste to the Force once and for all.
Pulling out his bloodied weapon, he switched the blade to his left hand, calling the lightsabre to his right. He was not good at duel-wielding, but in a pinch he was grateful of the extra weapon. Doc took the next, jumping on Leglass, shooting him in the neck, before swinging his weapon up to catch another in the un-armoured inner thigh, severing his femoral artery. Jax brought up his Force defence, blocking all but the most powerful Force attack, which, luckily, there were none. They were skilled, yes, menacing even, but these weren't powerful, merely adepts, something akin to a padawan. He blocked a high attack, but another brought the butt of his pike into his side. This one he dispatched by slicing his blade up to the hilt into his neck. He tried to pull it out but it was stuck fast and so he left it there. He blocked another attack, feinted right but attack left with a side-sweep to the wrist, severing it, before Doc shot him three times.
The last guard backed up to the boarding ramp, holding his pike horizontally, hoping to block their advance. He failed miserably. Jax lunged low, which the guard blocked, but opened his chest for a shot, which Doc ably delivered. He stumbled back, and Jax sliced into his armpit, severing tendons, muscle, nerves, making his arm useless. Doc then shot him again in the kidney and he stumbled to the floor.
'Surrender, and you will live.'
'Pathetic dogs.' the guard spat. He dropped his pike, brought his fist to under his helmet, twisted his wrist, activating his wrist blade, which pierced his neck. Blood spurted and flowed freely from his wound, and he collapsed back, shuddering as his life force left him, until he was still.
Jax and Doc shared an uneasy glance, silently wondering why he would have done such a thing, but put the thoughts out of their minds as the engines gave a loud whine. They rushed aboard, making for the cockpit, where the leader was frantically mashing buttons, banging his fist on the dash, willing the start up to go faster. He stopped when he heard the steady thrum of Jax's lightsabre, so imposing in the confined space.
'Surrender.' He offered.
The leader looked about him, no doubt looking for a way out of the situation, or perhaps another way to attack them and survive. At last he gave up, his posture turning stiff, his face becoming haughty. 'I will not.'
'Surrender. Or I will be forced to attack.'
'My life is forfeit. My life is not my own. My life serves a higher purpose.'
'Oh?' Jax raised his blade, sensing an attack, and Doc readied his long blaster, his finger tapping on the trigger. 'And what is that?'
And with that he dived towards them, spitting himself in the blade just as Doc fired his rifle. Too late, Jax deactivated his blade, and the crested leader collapsed tot he floor. He spluttered, coughing up blood. His voice warbled in his native language, before, before his voice stilled, his eyelids closing on his large black eyes.
Five days ago.
'What did Master Voors have to say?'
'He said well done, and to get the next shuttle out of here.'
'So: Stay a while and claim our shuttle broke down?'
Doc took a sip from his ale, and pondered aloud. 'I wonder what he said.'
'Who?' Jax asked, distracted, taking a sip of his drink, looking about the bar for company.
'The leader, whatshisname. Taroon Nen.' he meant the pirate leader. 'His last words.'
'Any idea what he said?'
Doc shook his head. 'I couldn't make out the words. I'll work on it.'
They sat in comfortable silence before Jax asked, 'Did you get a good price for the ship?'
'Oh, yes. Enough to live comfortably for a long, long while. Or to have one hell of a week. Take your pick.'
After the fight, they had looked round the caves, seeking anything of use or intelligence, but the rest had cleared out, taking everything they could with them. He figured they wouldn't be of danger any time soon. Once he had cut off the head, the body would no longer be a problem. Doc had taken the ship to an old pirate friend of his, who was encamped on Sullust for the time being, and sold it to him for a decent price. They had left Zen with him, too, but they didn't sell him, not that they didn't try, merely gave him a place to heal in some kolto as well as some bone replacements. Though the pirates had left some basic supplies, a few speeders and equipment, they had thought it best to hang on to those for a while.
'So, a week of the high life?'
'Oh my, yes. I doubt there'll be much trouble. Certainly nothing worse than a bunch of marauding pirates.'
I am a Star Wars fan. That doesn't mean that I hate or love Jar Jar. That doesn't mean I hate or love Lucas, or agree or disagree 100% with him. That doesn't mean I prefer the PT over the OT, or vice versa. That doesn't mean I hate the EU, or even love all of it. These are not prerequisites. Being a man is not a prerequisite. Being a geek is not a prerequisite. The only prerequisite is that I love something about Star Wars. I am a Star Wars fan.
Life is like the Force - Luke Skywalker, Crucible. Damn straight I am.