The hull of The Void of Integrity hummed gently, it’s deck vibrating with the sounds of hyperspace and it’s bulkheads echoing with the sounds of sentients breathing and moving.
“hand me the …” Joe stopped speaking, as the connecter he was about to request was already in his hand, puzzled he gave his new companion a quick glance before slotting it in it’s port and going back to the calibrations of the microservos on module G. Metallic fingers moved and flexed like arachnoid legs as the program ran the diagnostic – there seemd to be an anomaly in the secondary thumb, a misalignment on the first joint.
The one called K’than was digging into the guts of the small machine, and adding a set of secondary servos to some of the joints.
Before Joe could open his insectide mouth, K’than was holding up a macrospanner, his left hand still working on their project, eyes unblinking and lost somwhere inside his plan.
Joe accepted the tool and went about tightening joints based on his readings.
This was a different side of his friend, so lost in his work that he stopped pretending to be nice or kind, so lost in his thoughts that he barely saw other sentients.
Joe was wondering if he looked into K’thans eyes right now, what would he see? a gridwork of techincal workplans? circuits and binary? or just the vast void of space? At least he wasn’t asking questions anymore.
Since Joe had arrived, the crew of “The Void of Integrity” had been digging, some more overt than others, the one called V’x was the most direct. And K’than the most successful.
Joe didn’t understand how, but he really Wanted to tell K’than things, more than others. Thankfully, K’than wasn’t pushing it yet, but Joe feared that if he wanted to, he could tear secrets from him like a child tearing the wings from a insect …
Well, the mechanic next to him could maybe, but the man he was the rest of the time would never do something like that.
There was a gentle change in the humming of the ship and Joe snapped out of his thoughts “do you feel that?”
They’d dropped out of hyperspace, that meant it was time to prepare to disengage from Cartol’s Emporium and plot a course for Kashyyyk.
This was Beautiful.
Krankawarrok was in the turret, beneath him was his homeplanet: Mighty and Tempremental Kashyyyk – with it’s titanic trees, roaring rivers, and demanding mountains.
This was a world that tested you and either broke you, or made you better – stronger faster … wilder.
Even though he was sitting, Krank could feel his blood rushing faster, like his body knew he was almost home.
Home, he wondered if that word meant anything anymore for him, this wonderful world – was it home? after all the pain, loss and blood, could he manage to smile when standing on the ground where his people still was being oppressed?
He would find out when they landed.
If they landed.
Above Kashyyyk a battle was being fought: the empire -as always, against some other foe.
He wasn’t sure whom, but the ships sure were ugly.
Lasercannons were lighting up the space around them, explosions of smaller craft were sprinkled around them, these large ships were moving like slow watercreatures, lashing out at each other in a massive struggle.
Every second he was watching this a sentient life was being snuffed out, the glittering from debris highlighting every death, the lines of lasers and protonblasts pointing them out.
This enormous display of disregard for life was framed in flames for him, his ship was entering the atmosphere with no engines and no control.
The bulkheads around him were glowing orange, the glass in the turret was showing small spiderweb cracks snaking around him like death closing in.
As the violent shaking of the ship threatened to throw him from his seat, through the glass, and into space he wondered: was Onda going to make this landing? this sure as hell didn’t feel like he was in control …
I might actually die here, he thought.
Far from battle, without a weapon in his hand, the thing that finally killed him might be simple bad luck and the force of gravity.
How pointless, how honorless.
But if he was going to die here …
The view sure was beautiful, there was at least that,.
And at least his funeral would be seen and heard for miles, a comet with his name would be his burialmarker, a crater his grave.
Here lies Krankawarrok, he came home to die.
Fuck he hoped Onda would make this landing.
The Void of Integrity was quiet.
Quiter than it’s ever been, Kotan thought.
The only sounds were the sounds of the tree they had crashed into, leaves on the wind and the forest around them.
But the ship was silent, it’s engines bust, it’s shields gone, both powergenrators and hyperdrives dead. It was the end.
They’d lived here for how long? some months, a year? So many conversations were buried in the walls, so much of their sweat and blood had seeped into the metal. Every inch of the craft had been touched by them at some point.
He was done packing, there wasn’t much to pack anyways, only the necessities.
Now he was saying goodbye.
“You ready?” Onda emerged from his room, he walked stiffly, his eyes were ringed in dark circles – his visons always tired him.
“…I think so, I just….” Kotan had difficulties putting his thoughts into words, that was a first.
Onda stared at him “… Yeah, I know – me too” he put a hand on Kotans shoulder, a gesture of familiarity and friendship. It felt awkward and forced.
Something had changed between Kotan and Onda, but they were still trying to pretend everything was as before.
Kotan looked at his friend, had his eyes always been so sunken, had he always had that vague tint of yellow in the outer iris?
The moment stretched untill it became unbearable, where there had before been banter and reasurrances between comrades, only silence reigned.
Ondas hand dropped slowly “anyways, we should get moving. You and Joe got something from the sensors?”
Kotan looked away, “yes, there are some promising powersources to the east. Vex and Krankawarrok has already left”.
“We should catch up with them then.”
Onda landed on his back, dirt billowed up around him.
His chest stung from the impact of claws.
Another of these catlike creature swiped at him, he rolled to the left and swung his saber between keeping the beasts at bay, his mouth tasted dust and blood.
He felt it in his veins now, the rush of violence, the promise of supremacy and mastery.
How dared they? he was the best swordsman in the galaxy – and these vermin had him tasting dirt!
He grabbed the rage and made it his, drew it into him, conquered it and made himself into it.
The world slowed down, the music started again.
He flipped himself up, noticing that Krankys blade was digging into one of his attacker, he dispatched the other one with a nonchalant swipe: shoulder to hip.
Following his own momentum he stepped on the head of the dying cat and launched himself, his shoulder touched Krankys and he rolled over him, using him as a springboard.
In the distance he noticed Kotan shooting down another of these things, Joe was in front of him and blinking in suprise as his attacker fell to his feet.
But Onda was in the air, double grip on his saber, moments before touching down he started his kata: two parallel sweeps followed by a finishing cleave.- left -right, twirl – and swipe.
Blood hit everything but him, limbs were flipping lazily in the air, his opponent was not only dead, but dismembered, demolished, defeated.
It felt good to be king.
“See this?” a coin wagged back and forth in the insectoids left appendage, a flick of fingers and it was gone. The left appendage showed a coin at the same time. “now it’s here”
The wookie … child? pup? grub? -what was the correct term for offspring in their culure? looked at the trick with a mixture of amazement and intense focus, trying to figure it out.
Joe continued, left hand flickering forth, behind the … Youngling, he would refer to it as youngling for now at least – Ear, or at least were many creatures had auditory sensory organs, these sentients had a bit too much fur for him to be sure, but the trick demanded it so he went with it.
“but what is this?” he fished out a coin, technically the same coin that had dissapeared before, but to his audience it was a new coin.
Behind Joe, the others were discussing with the elderes of the wookie ... tribe? community? group? Well, K’ran’kaw’arr’ok _ was that the pronunciation? these people had so weird names …_ -was discussing, the one called V’x was standing a bit behind keeping an eyes on … well everything, paranoid that one, which was a practical trait.
And K’than, who obiously didn’t speak very well Shyriiwook, was embarrassing himself. He was intterupted by the green one, ’Nda, who shouted at him.
Should he get involved? -no, they would probably manage to secure resting arrangments without him.
Back to the trick, this part was more difficult. “Now look at the coin …” The wookie youngling stared intently, Joe allowed himself a smile.
In the distance the Imperial compound was glittering with lights, walkers were patrolling lazily aound it’s perimeters, Tie fighters swept over it in rutine patrol patterns.
Vex adjusted the mangification and studied the transports: wookie slaves being moved offworld.
He handed the magnoculars to Kotan and wrinkled his forehead ridges in disgust and worry “at least one large walker, several smaller ones, Tie fighters, not to mention the rest of the troops, turrets and who knows what else …we sure this is where we should go to find Kiados? what if you’re wrong?” he directed the last comment to his green companion.
Onda answered “Joe’s intelligence led us to this world, I led us here, I’m not wrong – I’m never wrong”
Krankawarrok made some of his sounds, Vex looked in his direction.
“you’re right Krankawarrok” Kotan said " we’re too far away to accomplish anything now, we’ll rest here – then infiltrate tomorrow night"
The wookie made some other noises and looked up to the sky.
Onda rolled his eyes “sure, lets set up camp, tomorrow night we enter the base.”