STAR WARS - THE CAMPAIGN II: A WAR OF EMPIRES (A MARVEL STORY) CHAP II -- PT. 4- 8.30.2019

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PROLOGUE

STAR WARS - THE CAMPAIGN II: A WAR OF EMPIRES

STORY: UTILIZING A SWIFT AND UNEXPECTED SNEAK ATTACK, THE GALACTIC EMPIRE OBLITERATED EARTH WITHIN 10 MINUTES, STARTING A CAMPAIGN FOR POWER.

HOWEVER, A SMALL BAND OF SURVIVORS ESCAPED EARTH DESTRUCTION AND HAVE JOINED THE REBEL ALLIANCE.

NOW THE GALACTIC EMPIRE AND THEIR NEWLY ATTAINED 'FORCE SENSITIVES' FROM EARTH ARE PLANNING A CONQUEST OVER THE SHI'AR, KREE AND SKRULLS.

HOWEVER, SOMEONE HAS HACKED THE REBEL ALLIANCE AND THE EMPIRE, WITH AHSOKA AND APPRENTICE MOLLY HAYES ON ITS TRAIL, BUT NOW PRESUMED DEAD!

THUS LEIA HAS DISPATCHED A TEAM TO RETRIEVE THE DATA.

SIDIOUS HAS DISPATCH VADER TO RETRIEVE THE DATA.

NOW THE HUNT IS ON TO GET THE DATA AND FIRST STOP IS A WATERING HOLE FOR ALL BOUNTY HUNTERS - KNOWHERE!

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The humid air smelled of strange gases. The heavy fog that seems to be denser in some areas than others, held a stench of strong alcoholic substances.

They had walked about for close to a standard sixty minutes. Knowwhere, the neutral space port located in the Outer Rim of the Known Territories, was unoccupied by both the Galactic Alliance and the Empire.

This was the realm of the The Bounty Hunters. The Smugglers. The Gangsters.

A true ‘No Man’s’ paradise, if any law enforcement tried ‘enforcing’ anything, other than a personal agenda, his head was sent floating out to dead space with a detached body.

This was the rule here. This was the culture. This was Knowhere.

And they had to find one person here, who could tell them where their friends went before they were killed and hopefully, give them the only lead hoped the get.

CAST

SABINE WREN

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HERA SYNDULLA

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JULIA CARPENTER

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MILES MORALES

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NICO MINORU

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STAR WARS - THE CAMPAIGN II: A WAR OF EMPIRES

CHAPTER 2 - NO NEED FOR BOUNTY HUNTERS

PART I - THE WATERING HOLE

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“I hate this place.” grumbles Julia Carpenter, “Like I really hate this place.”

Nico Minoru walked her hand cupping her face and nose, struggling in vain to keep the odors from bringing up the small amount of food in her stomach.

Unimpressed at the establishment, Nico arches her eyebrow, “If I sneeze will it fall over?”

Sabine smirks at the quip, “Probably.” she says before looking to Miles Morales, “Miles, be careful, sneak in while we three go in the front.”

Miles nods and gives a two-finger salute before disappearing into thin air.

Nico’s eyes open wide, “He can do that.”

Julia pulls her along by the arm, “He can do more than you can.” she says.

However Nico shrugs her arm out Julia’s grip, “I can handle myself.”

Julia’s face turns firm at the reply, “This isn’t Los Angeles Nico, this is the Bounty Hunters waterhole…”

“What?” Nico scoffs.

Julia sucks in a frustrated breath between her teeth before explaining, “Okay.” she sighs, “In Space, Bounty Hunters, the good ones, belong to ‘Houses’ or ‘Guilds’. They, in turn, are hired by high powered people who can afford them, making them great storehouses of information if you can get cozy with a few. We can. So try not to get yourself incinerated but if you, that’s fine by me.”

“Alright Julia.” Sabine interjects, stepping between them, “Let’s keep focused…” she says, “...we go inside, find who stole Data from the us and the Empire and maybe a lead as to where Ashoka was last. That’s the mission. Is that clear?”

Julia looks at Sabine, “Nico cannot be left alo....”

“ENOUGH Julia.” Sabine growls with an equally stern glare, “I’m Field Leader. Its my call.” she says, checking Julia’s assertion, “Either you get on board or you both head back to the ship and let Miles and I handle it.” she states.

Nico and Julia exchange a brief look before Julia pushes up her gold lens goggles from her eyes to the top of her head and shakes her head in annoyance, motioning to the entrance of the establishment, “Let’s just get this over with.”

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Opening the creaky wood door to the ‘Hotel Bar’ establishment, Nico’s field of vision almost immediately becomes overwhelmed by the cluttered crowd and pungent odors.

Dim lightning didn’t hide the fact that the rather large gutted space with a massive bar on the left, and various ‘island counters’ populated with clustered patrons. Clanky music with sporadic rhythmic horns offended Nico’s ears and didn’t drown out the inaudible voices filling the room.

Nico’s tried not to stare, but she garnered looks at passersby. She couldn’t help herself, she had never seen red skinned humanoids in blue cloaks before. Their elbows, reverse bent, bringing exotic yellow color drinks liquids frothing blue at the top to their darker red shaded lips.

Canary yellow skinned humanoids with one or two thick tendrils coming from their heads, wearing skimpy clothing and smile their sharp-tooth grin at gruffy individuals who could’ve been deserter soldiers.

Others, wore masks that completed covered entire faces. Some stand at the bar alone, quiet merely staring while some hold out shiny weapons, displaying them to their female companions at their site, running their fingers up their chest while whispering. A loud roar of cheering voices erupts from the rear.

Nico peaks over and sees a large round with crowds around it screaming, throwing coins and paper while others push each other and brawl.

“Over here.”

Feeling a gloved hand on her shoulder, Nico looks to see Sabine behind her, moving her through the crowd to the Bar. Reaching a seat, Sabine calls over the blue skinned humanoid with three eyes. He raises his six arms and speaks a foreign language.

“Put this in your ear.” Sabine whisper to Nico, sneaking something into her center of her palm.

Nico quickly pushes the soft device into her ear. Within moments, voices suddenly become sharp, clear, and in English. Surprised, Nico looks at Sabine in shock.

“Universal translator.” Sabine says as if on cue, “Sit here, order anything. Don’t talk to anyone. Everyone here is trouble. Keep your head down and your ears open.” she says, to which Nico nods.

Sabine leaves Nico at the bar, making her way through the crowd. Spotting Julia, making her way casually through the crowd, Ignoring the alien language ‘cat calls’ at her figure, Sabine reaches the crowded section that sinks down two steps - the gambling den.

Leaving her helmet on, Sabine allows the facial recognition on her Heads Up Display, HUD, do its work. Standing still like a sentry, she observes for catching sight of Julia Carpenter slinking through the crowd with ease. Then it comes. Sabine sees alert on her display and moves. Like two predators moving through a thick field of brush, Sabine and Julia make their way from opposite corners of the room to one of the largest tables on the floor.

“DONE! YOUR DONE!” shouts a gravelly voice, followed by cackle.

Sabine pauses amidst the crowd seeing a rather muscular blue fellow stand up and hunch over the table, slamming his large hands on the table with a tremble.

“YOU VERMIN FILTH…” he bellows, “...YOU HAVE CHEATED ME.” he shouts.

Suddenly, Sabine hears the swift draw of a weapon out a holster followed by a high pitch tone of it charging.

“INSOLENCE!” shouts another voice.

Immediately the crowd clears, leaving Sabine a clear view of the two individuals. Her HUD brings up the species of the blue skinned muscular humanoid hunched over a black topped card table, staring down the wrong end of a blaster pistol. A Kree.

Holding the pistol to the Kree’s face, a Weequay, dressed in a long crimson red high collar coat with a set of square goggles over his eyes, “We are Pirates and Bounty Hunters.” he declares, “INSOLENCE?! WE DON’T EVEN WHAT THAT MEANS!” he exclaims, “You my blue skin friend, are in front of the Legendary Hondo, I have…”

Suddenly, the Kree reaches across the table and smacks the gun out Hondo’s hand while reaching for his blaster with his free hand. However, a loud blaster fire is goes off, stopping the music in the establishment as a bright dolt of red light shoots through the Kree, leaving a large burning hole Hondo sighs, looking down at the card table where Rocket Racoon stands up, holding out a silver blaster, watching the Kree fall backwards to the floor with a thud.

His black eyes look about at the crowd cautiously, “Anyone ELSE feel like gettin’ murdered?!”

After a moment, the music begins to play again and everyone turns about, minding their own business. Holstering his pistol, Rocket cuts Hondo a dirty look, “You let him get the drop on you.”

“I knew my righteous furry business partner…”exclaims Hondo, holding his hands out to Rocket, “...would absolutely have my safety in hand!”

Rocket folds his arms, “Because you owe me two hundred and fifty thousand creds.”

Hondo smiles and wags his finger at him, “OF WHICH i will pay promptly!”

“This table free for a private game?”

Rocket glances over at Sabine Wren, setting down a fallen chair at the table, but instinctively, he reaches for this blaster handle in his holster but hesitates, “You know…” he sighs in relief, “...you really should get a new helmet.” he points, “If it was a tad more grayer, their woulda been a tad more red, and your insides on the floor.” he huffs, shoving his blaster down into the holster.

“My dear...” Hondo exclaims jubilantly, “...Hondo is so glad to see you. Have you finally left the ‘cause’ and taken up the wonderful life of you Mando like your brethren, Fett is it?”

Sidling up to Sabine, Julia Carpenter in her black spider-girl one piece and leather jacket, nods at her, “All clear.” she mumbles.

Hearing Hondo use the word ‘Mando’ short for Mandalorian lifestyle, make her stomach flutter with anxiousness. Pulling off her helmet, Sabine ruffles her bright pink hair with white frost tips. Her lavender eyes settling on Hondo, “Rocket, don’t associate me with Fett.” she flatly states.

“You two got a lot of balls coming in here…” Rocket says, hopping back into his seat, “...especially you!” he says, pointing at Julia, “You know how much the bounty is for a Human Refugees? Your right in the Bounty Hunter’s Guild watering hole? If I call you out, I could pay a years rent with you.” .

Pushing up her golden goggles from her eyes, Julia narrows her blue eyes at Rocket, “Not if you’re face is smashed into your…”

“Thank you Rocket...” Sabine sternly interrupts, cutting her a look before returning her attention to Rocket, “...for the concern, but its why we are in a bit of a rush. We’re here for information.”

Hondo plops down in his chair, “Sabine.” he says in a calmer aged voice, “Even in the days of the Clone Wars, I, Hondo, supplied many with information in their time of need.” he says, resting his hands on his chest confidently.

Rocket tilts his head in disbelief, “You helped people?”

Hondo jolts, startled at the accusation, “Helped? No. For a fee? YES!” he says to Rocket but then smirks at Sabine, “And Hondo and his furry business partner can assist you as well - for flat rate of course.” he grins.

Hondo’s yellow teeth grin make Sabine’s jaw clench, “Of course. Because why shouldn’t I let you charge me after all the help us rebels have given you?!”

Rocket points at her, “Landscapes changing Mando and this is Knowwhere, baby. Don't let this total disaster fool you, we may let wonton havoc thrive here, but we guard it…”

“I think what my business partner is saying…” interrupts Hondo, “...is that both Rebels and Empire alike invite more trouble than free work allows and we are more ‘picky’ over our clientele.”

Julia folds her arms and looks to Sabine massaging the bridge of her nose with two fingers, “Let’s just get out of here. We can get info from…”

“Don’t be so hasty. Play a game.” Hondo invites, fanning out the black and gold cards in his hand, “Ahsoka would, especially if it was for something she wanted.”

Julia tenses, her lips pressed firmly together as she looks to Sabine, also tense and quiet.

“One game.” Sabine says, slamming her helmet onto the table.

Elsewhere in Knowwhere

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Inside an abandoned residence among the shadows, Boba Fett, holds up his wrist gauntlet.

Immediately a soft blue lit hologram appears of Darth Vader.

“I take it you have a job?” Fett asks.

Besides Vader’s image, a picture of Sabine Wren, Nico Minoru and Julia Carpenter appear.

“I do and it starts immediately.”

To be continued….

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#9  Edited By silverspidey

PART II

Safety is found at the heart of Truth, but the truth often hides within danger.

~ Anonymous

KAMINO

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The clones were slaughtered one by one with the efficiency as true as a ticking clock. Eight dead now, and the executioner was barely straining himself.

The scene of the massacre was from the nightmares of a demon: the stench of fresh blood, the nauseating odor of bodies in chemical liquid sprawled out on the white floor, the distinct subtle odor of burning flesh made visible by the long lightsaber marks on the bodies.

Yet, in front of the grisly scene stands a half-naked man. His face the same as the rest of the slain clones behind him. His sweated brow furrowed, his face tight with resolution dripped with sweat. His almost black irises two Black Holes, seem to slowly glow a soft amber with unexplainable rage.

Wearing white pants stained with blood and dirt, The Clones lean muscular body glistens in sweat and throbs from every breath drawn. The Clone takes one large step forward, pressing his feet firmly against the blood slicked floor, and raises both hands gripping a cold lightsaber hilt. The radiating heat from the red lightsaber over his head hums in the silence as it's pointed directly at his foe.

The hiss and occasional snap of the lightsaber are drowned out by the echoing respirator from Darth Vader. Standing in front of the clone-like grim death, Darth Vader holds his red lightsaber up.

His mask, unchanging and cold, shifts slightly toward a scientist nestled between two work columns, out of the way of the slaughter, but barely. However, with a slight turn of Vader’s helmet, he looks to her. Having no visible eyes or facial expression, the scientist has no discernable way of telling Vader is looking at her, until that is, she feels the sweeping pain across her face.

“He has given in to his hate and anger.” Vader says, snapping off his saber. With a simple gesture, Vader reaches out with the Force and sends a heavy iron object flying across the room and bashing across the clones head.

Watching the Clone drop to the floor, Vader turns his attention to the Kaminoan scientist and points his gloved finger at him, “Dress him and prepare him for transport.” he orders, turning away with his cape billowing behind him, “I’ll be in my shuttle.”

STAR WARS - THE CAMPAIGN II: A WAR OF EMPIRES

CHAPTER 2 - NO NEED FOR BOUNTY HUNTERS

PART II - No Need for Caution

CAST

DARTH VADER

KAMINOAN SCIENTIST
KAMINOAN SCIENTIST
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SABINE WREN
SABINE WREN
JULIA CARPENTER
JULIA CARPENTER
NICO MINORU
NICO MINORU
J'SON EMPEROR / AMBASSADOR OF SPARTAX
J'SON EMPEROR / AMBASSADOR OF SPARTAX
TANULTH THE PURSUER - KREE AMBASSADOR
TANULTH THE PURSUER - KREE AMBASSADOR
DRANG - LAST OF THE BADOON BROTHERHOOD, NOW AMBASSADOR FOR BADOON SISTERHOOD (PARANOID POLITICIAN)
DRANG - LAST OF THE BADOON BROTHERHOOD, NOW AMBASSADOR FOR BADOON SISTERHOOD (PARANOID POLITICIAN)
Major General Ka'ardum
Major General Ka'ardum

PSYLOCKE AKA DARTH LOCKE
PSYLOCKE AKA DARTH LOCKE

VICTOR VON DOOM - GALACTIC EMPIRE AMBASSADOR
VICTOR VON DOOM - GALACTIC EMPIRE AMBASSADOR

BOSSK - BOUNTY HUNTER
BOSSK - BOUNTY HUNTER
BLACK KRRSANTAN - MEAN WOOKIE
BLACK KRRSANTAN - MEAN WOOKIE

UNKNOWN PLANET

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“This Planet reeks of Death.” she snorts, “Surely you sense it, J’son?” she asks, looking at him from the corner of her eye.

J’Son, Emperor of Spartax looks at the blue-skinned Kree Ambassador. He hadn’t known of any Kree Females promoted to Ambassador in the history books - this was a first. It was probably because she had the appearance and demeanor of her obvious mentor - Ronan the Accuser.

Dark red hair pulled into a long braid that coiled on the snow behind her, Tanalth - The Pursuer wore a dark green cape that covered the soft glow of her pulsating armor. She rested her clasped hands on top of the four and a half foot tall hammer that stayed upright in the ground.

Her cape barely moved in the wind, most likely weighted, as he stood still like a statue, observing the frozen surroundings. For Kree, Ambassadors had to serve in the military, it was obvious this one was good.

A cold shiver runs up J’Son’s spine despite his heated coat, yet he nods in agreement.

“An Empire comes through a wormhole, destroys Earth, no complaints from me mind you.” J’Son smirks, “Then, it reaches out to every major Empire with -- an offer we can’t refuse -- and here we are. Standing in a frozen wasteland for all I know, recognizing sovereignty I’d never heard up until six lunar cycles ago. So yes, I sense ‘Death’. I think it these people are planning ours.” he huffs.

At that moment, the sound of hard snow crunching underfoot catches J’Son and the Kree Ambassador's attention. Turning around, both men notice a lizard humanoid decked in golden armor with a black mesh coming down from its neck to the abdomen.

“Perssssonaly I sssense an alfffa predatur that ssseems hungry for dominanssse.”

J’son lets out a sigh. He hated the Badoon. They look like reptilian apes. Leathery green faces. Yellow snake-like eyes and the moral compass of Third Generation Slave Traders. Yes, the Badoon were civilized now, but what irked J’Son more than anything was the entire Race's ability to take years to finish one sentence.

“Tell your Brotherhood that no one in the galaxy would take the remains of the Badoon Empire if you left the front door open, Ambassador Drang.” J’son retorts.

Drang, the Badoon Ambassador - bares his teeth at J’Son’s statement with an audible hiss.

“J’sssson underesssstimatesss Badoon Sisterhood and new Empire that invadessss our sssspace.” he retorts, “Empiresss offffer isss very appealing to Badoon.”

“That’s because this Empires Champion pitched your Brotherhood into a Sun.”

(See STAR WARS - THE CAMPAIGN II: A WAR OF EMPIRES PROLOGUE - PT II of III)

Drang bares his teeth once more. It was humiliating that recently the human simply known as 'Void' had arrived to their planet and razed the Badoon Brotherhood entirely, and indeed pitched them into the sun.

The fact was made only irritating by the distinct tone of voice who said it. Arriving via Teleport, a Gold shoulder plate decorates the broad-chested Shi’Ar Military Major, General Ka’ardum. Arriving via teleport, his mere size demanded acknowledgment from everyone. As soon as he materializes, his weight crunches the snow and ice beneath his feet with little effort.

“The Shi’Ar will not barter for a Sovereignties Recognition while it holds a threat of annihilation behind its back.” Ka’ardum states, “This, Empire, offers a serum to combat all diseases for our civilians, but we must coalesce to them first. It is a tactic.”

“Perhaps it is or...” J’son pauses, hating to have to look up at General because he’s so tall, “...it’s a gift.” he reasons, “Like, how they removed planet Earth from the universal table. That’s a gift and for that, I’m willing to hear them out.”

The Major moves forward, slightly trembling the ground with his firm step, “No creature kills first to then offer peace. This, Emperor Palpatine, is only offering these miracle drugs to Kingdom’s that recognize his - that’s called Leverage. If any species says no, war will start.”

“Sounds like the Shi’Ar Empire have finally learned from all us Kree Military Tacticians.”

Ka’ardum clear purple eyes immediately shift to the Talalth, the Kree ambassador, standing afar.

“Tanalth the Pursuer…” Ka’ardum says, “...congratulations on your appointment. Let’s not make enemies of me on your first day.”

Talalth raises her dark blue eyebrow, “Sounds like you’ve forgotten that my hammer hurts as much as the truth. No matter, I’m sure your jaw hasn’t.” she smirks.

Ka’ardum jaw clenches tight, struggling to restrain his actions.

Talalth turns to say more however everyone hears the same voice in unison.

“Apologies for the delay.”

Everyone turns around to see a woman decked in a dark purple one-piece with a white ‘x’ moniker

Her fine black hair pulled back, her face welcoming, she extends her gloved hand towards everyone and motions to the frozen cave behind her, “I am Psylocke, I am here to welcome you to the Empire’s secondary base facility - Malachor IV.”

The Badoon Ambassador narrows his yellow eyes and grows, sniffing loudly, “Drang cannot sssmell Ambasssssador. Ambassador laysss a sssnare! DECISSSEPTION!”

Psylocke nods and holds up her hands, “Oh no, I’m not trying to deceive you. I am merely using an astral projection to avoid the cold.” she says, before standing aside and pointing to the cave, “If you please, head to the cave and I’ll be inside waiting.” she grins, floating ahead of them.

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Entering through the frozen mouth of the cave, the group of Ambassadors observes the frozen icy ground give way to an endless sheet of cold and dark polished concrete. Smooth surfaces with ancient strange script covered in frost fill their view.

Emerging from the shadows, Psylocke appears before the collective group. The warm fog lifts from the noses and mouths of the group like smoke from warm food. Standing in the middle of the cold temple, Psylocke stands in the center structure where pale sunlight hits her from above.

Turning to the side, she gestures with her slender arm as everyone turns their heads in observance, except for Tanalth - who keeps her piercing blue eyes fixed on Psylocke at all times.

“Welcome to the Temple of Malachor IV.” Psylocke welcomes.

“This is a temporary base until we have a more permanent location up and running.” Psylocke explains, “Can I offer you any refreshments?”

Pushing his way past the group, J’Son steps in front of the group unzipping his coat and revealing his Commander Garb, “We’re fine. When do we meet with Palpatine?”

“Emperor Palpatine will not be joining us at the moment.”

Everyone’s attention shifts to two green glowing eyes within the darkness in the far corner. Then a glowing orb illuminates from the shadowy human outline. The figure emerges from the shadow, each step a slight ‘clank’. His body encased in metal armor, a dark green cape billows behind him as he steps into the center floor.

“While I admit -- I am a poor substitute, I am sure we shall make due.”

Shi’Ar Military Major, General Ka’ardum folds his arms, looking at the figure suspiciously, “And what do they call you?”

“Depends.” he replies, “Doom. Or Victor. Rather depends on the occasion.”

An overall tense quiet rest between everyone with only the howling wind outside to be heard.

J’Son arches his eyebrow, “And what occasion is this?.” he states, breaking the silence.

“We shall see.” Victor Von Doom states, turning his back to them, “Now follow.”

MEANWHILE....IN KNOWHERE...

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Knowhere, apparently the decapitated head of something called a Celestial avatar, had floated about in space, unregulated by governments for centuries. The absence of rules and regulations turned Knowhere into a safe haven for outlaws. Hence, it was the best place to start if someone wanted information no else wanted to be known.

Sitting alone at a bar in the center of a non-government regulated Space Station was probably the worst place a visitor could find themselves Nico thought. Standard natives could sense ‘tourist’ like how the body senses foreign antibodies that don’t belong. It was clear to everyone at the bar, Nico Minoru, didn’t belong. Her bushy feathered black hair resembled Raven feathers. Her black clothes, was nothing of the sort to find in Knowhere. She was an outsider, again.

Only her serious demeanor barred passersby from approaching, but that wouldn’t last long. For people who are different, no matter how different others may seem, they are always prodded.

Swirling the carbonated light blue drink before her, Nico weighs her options. Sabine and Julia needed her to stay at the bar but their talk with the talking Raccoon and whoever ‘Hondo’ was, was taking long over a game called Sabacc. Hence, Nico tries to be patient, and keeps her eyes to the bar, until something catches her eye all too briefly off the reflection of the bar mirror.

A flutter within her heart makes Nico’s cheeks flush. Swirling around her seat, Nico couldn’t understand herself. The crowd was thick. Whatever she saw, her impatience was getting the best of her.

Be patient.

The sinister nip at Nico’s ears makes her jaw clench. She had almost forgotten she hadn’t heard the tormenting hallucination that was her deceased mother for more than an hour - it was refreshing.

“I am patient, I just....” Nico sucks her teeth in frustration, “...I lost what I thought I saw.” she says, anxiously looking into the crowd.

The almost specter image of her mother standing about in a black glittery dress with black smoke rising off her shoulders would be one to behold for all, but only Nico could see her. Turning aside, Nico’s mother extends her arm and points through the crowd.

Just follow the routes of egress, as I taught you. What exits are in this direction?

Nico remains silent, refusing to address a hallucination in a public setting. However, she follows the trajectory of her mother’s finger pointing into the crowd. There were no true exits in the direction she was pointing in.

Yet, there was an arching threshold leading to a dark hallway cast in blue light. Then, Nico sees it. Nico almost slides off her stool, barely able to control herself. In the hand of what could be the ugliest thing she could ever see, Nico spots for a moment, a lizard-like humanoid in an orange jumpsuit of sorts. His eyes, orange with black slits, rove about carefully as he walks. But his hand, comprised of three digits with claws, clasp tightly a pink backpack in its grip.

The hair on the back of Nico’s neck rise. Her palms become moist. Her stomach excites to the point of nausea. She recognized it. The backpack. She brought it for Molly in Santa Monica not more than six years ago.

“No need for caution. GO!”

Nico pushes off the stool before her hallucination could finish. Into the crowd, pushing past the gamblers and drinkers, Nico pushes towards where the lizardman had gone. No one mattered. Not Sabine’s mission, not Julia’s insistence - nothing. She had to her priority, Molly; and she was going for it.

Within moments Nico reaches a doorway, distinctly dark was the hallway. A visual warning that whatever vices led into this dimly lit hallway, don't require lots of people.

He didn’t go this way.

Nico's mother appears again following her statement, pointing to the grimy wood floor with claw marks, then at the metal stairs leading upwards in a spiral, with scratches resembling the same markings.

He went up.

Racing up the stairway leading into darkness, Nico arrives at the top of the stairs and at the beginning of an almost silent dark hallway.

Drawing a deep breath, Nico clenches her jaw, letting out an audible exhale, “This is wrong.” she mumbles.

Several doors leading into rooms with muffled noises. Nico glances down at the floor, seeing the same claw marks continued down the hallway.

We’re in a den full of vices.

Nico’s mother appears by her side, looking at her in the face.

I’ve shown you these, so don’t act so innocent.

Her statement prompts a narrowed eyed look from Nico, “It’s not the place that bothers me…” she whispers, “...its where he went.”

Nico’s mother folds her arm, smirking a cheeky smile.

Either he’s going to horrify some poor animal tonight, or do a deal under the cover of certain vices, just walk through the hallway and listen out for him. Unless you wanna sit at the bar, useless again?

Nico sighs, “I’d rather die.” she mumbles, slowly proceeding down the dim hallway.

Atta girl.

Stepping carefully, Nico watches each door she passes. Slowly the noise from downstairs almost all disappeared as did the light. Soft candle glow illuminates from behind the old wooden door she passes. Each door barely held by the hinges, the sounds coming from behind the doors were graphic enough. Some screams. Some the opposite. Regardless Nico proceeds forward, trying to imagine just how the lizardman would sound.

Squinting her eyes, Nico peers at the dark floor, trying to see where the scratches from the lizardman’s feet end.

“Hsssss, that’s too LOW!”

Immediately Nico stops. Still, as a statue, Nico turns her head to the right, hearing the sudden outburst of a forked tongue individual, or someone with a horrible lisp.

“They, were a Jedi!” says the voice, “I want full payment!”

“Jedi are dead Bossk! ALL OF THEM. Don’t try and feed me this cannon fodder to up your price!!”

“I’m telling you! Thissss garment wasss a jedi apprentisssss.”

Hearing the conversation from behind a door, Nico turns on her heels and motions towards the door.

“And if it was?! I don’t think you want it out there that you killed or worse yet, delivered a ‘jedi’ to someone OTHER than the Vader!”

“It doessssn’t mattered. It wasss one of thosssse Terran Refugeeeees anyway…”

Nico’s heart sinks. Her mind crowds with as many thoughts as they were drinkers downstairs. Molly was alive. Her backpack was evidence. Somehow. But she had heard enough and she wanted answers. Nico looks at the door, ready to break it down immediately.

Do it.

Nico glances to her left, seeing her transparent mother floating beside her. She was waiting for it. Eager for it. Whispering into her ear like the Devil on the Shoulder, loving that the angel is missing on the other side.

Looking at the door, Nico draws a breath, grappling with the notion of the best move to make.

But then, the earbud in her right ear crackles momentarily. Sabine’s voice and Julia’s voice come through. Over the frequency, she still carried the faint conversation between Sabine and Julia with Rocket and Hondo. They were the best option. The lizard man, Bossk, was in that room with one, maybe two others. And It was a long time since Nico had not really been in a fight, and the idea of testing out her skill after all this time, on a trained lizard-like Bounty Hunter, plus one...seemed more suicidal.

Shaking her head at her mother, Nico slowly stands up straight, ready to back away from the door.

Raising her hand to her ear, Nico backs away once more, but then feels something…furry?

Nico freezes. The fur was soft, but it smelled of an indescribable body odor that almost makes her gag. Nico’s mind skitters to the thought that maybe it was a rug on the wall that she missed, but then she feels the rise of a stomach taking in a breath. The low growl follows like that of a Tiger and then the shift in weight to something that trembles the floor under her foot.

Immediately Nico turns around and spots to eyes, yellow in appearance glaring at her. The face was almost human but covered in fur like a bear with a scar running over the creatures frosted left eyeball.

“HOLY…

The creature swings it furry arm into Nico’s body, throwing her straight back through the door, into the room and skidding back until she hits another wall!

Groaning in pain, Nico’s eyes open wide as she sees the lizard man jump up and away from her while, the bear-like creature leans forward between the doorpost, filling its width and then some. All at once, the bear belts out a thunderous roar that sends a chill up Nico's spine so fast it melts.

Trying to crawl on her back and away, Nico just gets her feet planted, ready to stand up but hears then hears the distinct ‘klik klik’ of a gun in her ear!

“UH-HUH!”

Nico remains still, looking up at the sight of a rifle pointed at her face by a man dressed in plated battle armor and a white turban to cover his head. His face was partially scarred, but his face remained firm and calm.

“HSsssss…

Nico looks at the Lizardman kicking aside the pink backpack, “Black Krrssssssantan….” he says, pointing at the Wookie entering the room with a thud, “...sssssayss the female ssspied on ussss, Dungar!”

Nico narrows her eyes at him, but then keeps her attention to bear, shocked to see it wearing two gold shoulder pads with spikes, “This is the freakiest…:”

“HEY!”

Kicked in the gut, Nico groans, then glares at Dungar holding the rifle at her, “You a Terran refugee? You fetch a high price. Get up.”

Nico remains silent as her ghostly mother appears next to her.

Murder them all, or they’ll kill you. You can do it.

Nico shakes her head, “No.” she mumbled.

Dungar smirks at the answer, “Your accent says it all. Not Correllian, Courascanti, nothing…” then he shifts his eyes to Bosssk, and nods at Nico, “...maybe that girl you sold had a friend?”

“WHERE’S MOLLY!” Nico roars, leaning forward.

Dungar kicks her in the gut once more, watching her double over his boot as Nico coughs.

“Stay still Terran.” Dungar spits, “You crashed my party, my rules, now answer my question....”

Clutching her stomach, Nico raises her eyes at them all but sees her mother appear.

Let me take us over, I’ll get us out of this.

Nico shakes her head, “No.”

Dungar shakes his head, “I don’t like no.”

Then a low growl and soft short roar comes from Black Krrsantan. Bossk looks to Dungar, “The Wookie says rebels are downstairs. Their scent is on her.”

Dungar smirks and looks back down at Nico, “I captured a rebel pilot, then your people came and got him out.” then a sinister smirk comes across his face, “That cost me a lot of credits, but I wonder how much you’ll fetch.” he grins.

Nico face firms, “You can go to… “

Suddenly a swift boot kicks her across the face, knocking Nico out immediately.

Dungar looks to Bossk, “Take her to the ship, she fights, chop her up. We can still sell her parts.”

Bossk nods and makes his way over to Nico, but hesitates as Nico’s chest illuminates brightly.

“What the…”

Suddenly Nico’s Staff of One floats out of her chest. The three bounty hunters amazed as it floats up before them, glimmering with fiery copper-like radiance.

Immediately Nico’s hand reaches out, grabbing the Staff.

Everyone looks down at Nico, her face emotionless as a bruise on the side of her face.

Bossk chuckles, “SSssssome sssspunk, youngling.”

Then, most unexpected to everyone else, Nico smirks a bloody smile, “I’m afraid you put the youngling out…” she says, slowly raising to her feet, “...so you’ll have to deal with me.” she corrects.

Dungar aims the rifle right at her left temple, “Oh really, and who are we dealing with then?”

Suddenly Nico looks at him from the corner of her eye, “The Mother of course.” she says, before twisting the Staff of One in her grip as if turning a key.

Immediately everyone is telekinetically thrown off their feet, out the room, through the wall in every direction with a loud boom!

Her eyes closed, Nico’s mother, operating her daughter’s body, opens her eyes.

Black Krrsantan, having been jettisoned through the wall behind him and into another room, scrambles like an animal before getting on his feet! Anger and murder fill his eyes as he glares at Nico, standing in the center of the room he was just in, looking at him through the gaping hole as her irises shift red.

“C'mon you ugly build a bear...” Nico says, twirling her staff with an evil grin coming across her face, “...time for me beat the stuffing outta you!”

To be continued….

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J'Son, Emperor of Spartax - Self Appointment Ambassador
J'Son, Emperor of Spartax - Self Appointment Ambassador

Talulth the Pursuer | Kree Ambassador
Talulth the Pursuer | Kree Ambassador

Drang | Ambassador for the Badoon Sisterhood
Drang | Ambassador for the Badoon Sisterhood

General Major Ka'adrum | Ambassador for Shi'Ar Empire
General Major Ka'adrum | Ambassador for Shi'Ar Empire

Psylocke aka Darth Psylocke
Psylocke aka Darth Psylocke

Darth Doom
Darth Doom

PLANET - NEW MALACHOR

No Caption Provided

Sith Temple
Sith Temple

No Caption Provided

The group of Ambassadors had remained quiet. It hadn’t disturbed Psylocke or Victor Von Doom.

Victor, having been many things in his life, knew politicians and he knew warriors; this group of Ambassadors - were warriors dressed to be Ambassadors - a precaution he anticipated.

Each sent to play the role of Ambassador, but be equipped enough to be warrior had this been a trap. Palpatine had foreseen such a maneuver as well, but so did Doom and he was confident that the 'Ambassadors'' collective experience would restrain their impulse to start a fight simply because of unfamiliar territory.

Thus, Doom’s words were sparse at best. His metal footsteps clanking against the cold marble floor said more as he led the group through the temple and into a dark corridor. As if buffering the group from Doom, Psylocke follows behind him, quiet as well. Every so often, her eyes would fall upon the Kree Ambassador, protege to the famed Ronan the Accuser, Tanulth the Pursuer; she was hard to read.

However, Psylocke said nothing, following the orders she was strictly given by Emperor Palpatine. This was dance, and she was to dance elegantly in order the further the Emperor’s plans. Having left the initial entry of the Sith Temple with walls decorated in ancient inscriptions and forgotten art, the had all disappeared into a dark corridor that opened up to a wide bridge over dark nothingness.

It would have been concerning to anyone, perhaps even threatening, but whatever feeling could be had, was swiftly discarded as everyone’s eyes fall upon the massive structures as they emerge out the long dark corridor.

No Caption Provided

The architecture, the mile-high ceilings, and natural luminescence with a seeming unending distance was a feast for the eyes. The group of Ambassadors comes to a slow stop, taking a moment to register the feat of such a place and how much it insignificant the people walking about inside seemed.

Psylocke watches Doom come to stop in front of her, paying them no mind. He remained still, crossed metal arms over his chest plate and kept his back to everyone.

Psylocke turns to the group, extending her hand to the view as she continues her role as Tour Guide.

“This is the Inner Sanctum of New Malachor’s Temple.” Psylocke begins, “This Sanctum, is where most of our people are located as well as travel between. As you can see, it goes on for miles.”

“How many gatewaysssss?” asks the Badoon Ambassador.

“Seven in total.” answers Psylocke.

J’Son, King of Spartax and self-appointed Ambassador, weaved through the group to face Psylocke herself because her statement made J’Son almost wince. Seeing the seriousness in her continence, made her previous sentence ring even louder in his ears like an alarm bell.

“Forget how many! What do you mean…” J’Son skeptically states, “...’travel between’?!”

At this, Psylocke, glances over to Doom who remains still as a statue, saying nothing still.

Ready to answer, Psylocke turns her attention back to the group.

“In short we have...” Psylocke smirks at the analogy. “...’Bridges’.” she concludes. “Bridges that traverse sectors of space within moments to a corresponding bend in time and space, a gateway.” she explains, but then holds her hand out the view behind them, “These leads to our Colonies throughout the galaxy.” she states.

Tanulth the Pursuer remains silent, observing J’son’s face grow firm at her use of the word ‘colony’.Shi’Ar Major General Ka’ardum motions towards Psylocke, who simply looks at him in the eye, undeterred at his vast side, and then looks to Doom.

“Amongst many subjects…” He gruffly states, “Military Aspects of that statement must be discussed.”

Everyone notices Doom’s metal mask and green eyelet turn in their direction from over his shoulder. Psylocke remains quiet, feeling the air grow tense at the General’s unwavering expression of displeasure. Standing as solid as a stone column, the General glares back at Doom, unintimidated.

“I expect no less.” Doom answers, throwing aside his green cape before turning aside and walking down a cascading set of stairs.

STAR WARS - THE CAMPAIGN II: A WAR OF EMPIRES

CHAPTER 2 - NO NEED FOR BOUNTY HUNTERS

PART III - The MESSAGE

Proceeding down the stairs, Psylocke follows suit as the rest come behind her. J’Son, glances over at Tanulth and then at the Badoon Ambassador who also remains uncharacteristically silent.

They had reached the stone floor of the immense temple. Walls of solid frozen rock towered above them with the light from the Sanctum shining above. As if walking through a narrow path of trenches, Doom continues ahead with Ka’ardum continuing.

“The Inherent Advantage of moving armies any distance without treaty let alone colonies…” adds General Ka’ardum, his voice tainted with agitation, “...is more than...”

Ka’ardum words fade as he observes Doom come to a stop before a rock wall with a jagged ‘X’ shaped mark on the rockface wall.

“What is this?” Ka’ardum growls, half-expecting a hostile maneuver. The throbbing red light reflects off Doom’s metallic body, but his bright neon green eyelets look upon the General as he rests his metal palm on the rock wall.

“The answer to your question.” replies Doom.

~Darth Doom - Recognized~ says a voice.

Immediately the sound of grinding rocks fills their ears as the jagged ‘x’ mark on the wall slowly splits apart. Suddenly bleeding sunlight fills the narrow trench with light. Everyone holds up their hands to their eyes from the glare, except Doom, who continues to look into the light. Gradually, the light fades with Doom now standing before them with a blue huish light reflecting on him.

“Follow me.” Doom demands, walking inside.

The General grimaces. Glancing over his shoulder, everyone looks at him, equally suspicious.

“Stay alert.” General Ka’ardum mumbles to everyone, following behind Psylocke.

Entering the room, the jagged rocks give way smooth and polished stone. Metal pillars with lumen slots give enough light to the small room. However, it was the upright circle at the end of the room that provided the most light.

Doom stands before it, watching everyone enter.

“Each ‘Gateway’...” Doom says, “...a combined effort of my ingenuity and the Empire’s technology holds a different aesthetic to indicate where it leads.” he explains.

No Caption Provided

Tanalth steps forward, cautiously observing the room before resting her eyes on Doom, “And where are you leading us?” she demands.

“To the General’s answer, of course.” Doom replies, much to General Ka’ardum displeasure.

Ka’adrum narrows his lavender eyes, “I asked you no Questions.”

The huff of laughter was as clear as if Doom had a visible smirk on his mask.

“Didn’t you?” Doom retorts, “No matter. We will answer the question of our, worthiness momentarily.”

“Worthy?!” Tanulth scoffs.

J’Son rolls his eyes, “What do you wield an Asgardian hammer too?”

Psylocke smirks, “Our Emperor does.”

Everyone looks to Psylocke with equal and quite stunned expressions.

“And yes…” Psylocke continues, “...its the same one you’re thinking of.”

“Enough.” Doom interrupts, Time for their answers.” he says, stepping through gate, disappearing.

Psylocke nods at everyone, “It is perfectly safe.” she says, turning aside and walking through the gate, disappearing.

“I don’t like thissss. ” the reptilian Badoon Ambassador hisses.

General Ka’ardrum grinds his teeth, before holding out his large palm over his form-fitting suit left. Immediately a silver bulge rises on his thigh. Pulling it up, Ka’ardrum pulls off the black cloth over it, revealing a silver blaster, “Neither do I.” Ka’adrum replies, marching towards the gate.

Stepping through the cool frothy gateway, Ka’adrum keeps his eyes peeled for any sudden movement. His body tenses as he walks through the gate that seems filled with cool smoke resembling a cloud. His keen vision sees nothing ahead except white until the soft glow of red.

Then, the heat hits Ka’ardrum’s face with an unrelentless intensity. His feet arrive on the solid stone ground. His keen sense of smell immediately picks up what his overwhelmed vision tries to establish - death.

No Caption Provided

The stench of burnt flesh and smoldering debris overwhelms the senses.

Covering his nose, J’Son of Spartax looks to Tanulth pulls off her robe and expose her armor that pulsates with green light. Hearing the low growl behind him, J’Son watches Drang, Ambassador of the Badoon, hiss aloud while pulling out a gold blaster.

In front of them all, Major General Ka'ardum raises his blaster in aim at Psylocke and Victor Von Doom, “What is this! WHERE ARE WE!!” he growls.

Psylocke’s devilish smirk sends a chill up J’Son’ spine, despite the exorbitant heat, "A new settlement for our colony." she replies.

Doom extends his arm to the view, “And the place where the answer to your question lies, Ambassador - Planet Xandar.” he replies, "Or what's left of it."

Everyone’s eyes open wide in pure shock and horror.

Doom looks out the distance, pointing at it, “The Empire, is led by an Emperor who has no intention to impress you, collaborate or compromise. A fact the Xandarians have learned the hard way. We are in a Campaign, one that is destined to be successful.”

General Ka’adrum’s face turns sour as he cocks his weapon.

Psylocke swipes her finger across the air. Immediately Ka’adrum’s pistol is yanked out his hands and sent clattering across the stone ground.

“The Empire is a SITH government…” Doom explains, “...one that has already dethroned one form of rule and has since been accepted. And while we could take ten standard years to replicate what was done in his dimension, our Emperor has no intention to take a subtle approach, here.” he declares.

Tanulth steps forward, cracking her knuckles, “You dare threaten multiple Ambassadors representing Major Political Powers! You must be mad.”

“I’m not insane.” Doom states, “I once was. Insane with power. Mad with insecurity. It crippled me yes. I suffered a many loss at the hand my inferiors.” he admits. “That is, until, the Empire came and exuded power I never knew of prior.” he says, “A power stronger than any magic, technology. A true Force.”

“And you threaten us all with it?!” J’son asks, “We are all from Kingdoms greater than yours.” .

Doom lifts his hands to his mask and gently pulls off the facemask, revealing his human face. His ragged hair covering part of his scarred face looks upon the group before him. His green eyes locked to J’Son’s almost immediately. A sinister grin comes across his face as the winds pick up.

“Weak men threaten.” Victor Von Doom states, “And I promise you, I am far from weak.”

At that moment, a soul shuddering clap of thunder bellows above with such force the ground quakes. Lifting their eyes skyward, everyone sees from the fiery rolling clouds, a blackness start to form with two red eyes appearing.

General Ka’adrum jaw drops and turns to the gate behind him, “EVERYONE OUT!” he shouts.

One step forward, Psylocke’s eyes shift red as she thrusts out her hand, reaching out to everyone at once, “Oh no you don’t.” she snarls, balling up a fist.

Paralyzed, Ka’adrum’s face tightens as he’s forcibly held still. Straining every muscle in his body, Ka’adrum’s unable to move no matter how much effort he summons.

“Stop struggling.” Doom states, “No one is a match for The Force and a natural born telekinetic.”

Ka’adrum’s eyes again turn skyward at hearing the crack of violent lightning as what resembles a parasite comprised of black energy, stretches across the sky with a lone figure descending from the clouds.

Bringing his hands behind his back, Victor strolls over the smoldering ground among the paralyzed ambassadors. Coming to a stop at the glint of something buried in the ashy ground, Doom kneels to the dirt, sifting his metal finger through the dirt to reveal what is in the ashy rubble.

“Our Emperor wanted us to invite you here to send a clear message...” Doom states, pulling out a gold helmet from the ashy heap, “...one Darth Void made very clear to the Xandarians who ignored the very message I am about to convey.” he says, holding up a gold spartan like helmet to them, “Except, I am thankful my Emperor allowed me to show you all this object lesson.”

Tossing the Nova Corps helmet aside, Doom looks squarely at Tanulth, held still by the Psylocke’s paralyzing telekinetic hold, “Tell your masters, that the Empire that fell out from the heavens and destroyed Earth, is called a Sith Empire.” Doom states, “And we intend to expand our Empire’s sovereignty on the bones of whoever we chose, father, son, mother-daughter alike.” he threatens.

“Thisssss isss madnisssss.” Drang the Brood Ambassador states.

Victor shakes his head and lifts his eyes skyward, watching as Void slowly descends to the ground beside him. His arms stained with dried blood, his resolute face littered with red specks, his eyes remain hollow and black, sending fear into the Ambassadors that look upon him.

“Your empires are built on tragedy and fragile alliances meant to break the minute at a moments notice.” Doom says, “That, is madness, Chaos. What we are, are wielders of an ancient power that was banished from this universe meant to keep total, unassailable peace and order. We have demonstrated this in the isolated territories your Kingdoms do not control, the last of which we will take by force, a place called Knowhere. ” he explains, "After this, you are all next." he flatly states.

“So run back to your masters, tell them an absolute surrender to the Sith Empire is expected in two lunar cycles. Anything less…” Victor warns, raising his metal finger at them, “...will be your DOOM.” he concludes.

Silence befalls everyone with only the high winds to be heard.

Shifting his gaze from them, Victor looks to Psylocke, “Their replies?”

J’Son immediately starts to scream, feeling as if a knife is running through his brain.

Psylocke’s eyes glow bright purple, “They got the point.” however she turns to the Shi’Ar General Ka’adrum, “He’s gonna give us a problem.”

Looking to General Ka’adrum’s grimacing face, Victor sighs in disappointment, “How unfortunate. I guess a more accurate message must be sent.” he says, looking to Void, “Darth Void...”

Before anyone can even register that he moved, Void superspeeds over the ground in a single bound with boom, ramming his hand straight through the General’s chest!

J’Son’s eyes open wide in horror, watching Void’s emotion face look curiously at his own hand that’s emerged out the General’s back.

“Please bring the General Back to Chandilar.” Doom requests, “I want the one called Gladiator to get the message personally.”

Nothing said, Void simply looks to Doom and nods as all the black clouds in sky swirl into a vortex. Nodding at him, Void looks up at the sky and explodes off the ground, punching a hole through the clouds before disappearing into space.

Returning his attention back to the Ambassadors, Doom looks upon them all, “This is where we say goodbye.” he says, holding his hand up to the gateway, “Psylocke will take you back. Good Day, and may the force be with you, always.

To be continued….

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#18  Edited By silverspidey

PART IV - 8/30/2018

Sabacc was a game of both skill and chance that could be played with as few as two and as many as eight players, but for Sabine, it didn’t matter if no one played - she was still horrible.

Folding down the cards flat in defeat, Sabine looks across the table to Hondo Onaka. His eyes smiled as he grinned at the fanned out cards in his grip. Beside him, Rocket Racoon standing on the table, pistol in one hand, cards in the other - staring at Sabine with irritation.

“Are you serious, did you fold already?!” Rocket scoffs.

“Rocket…” Sabine sighs while pushing forward the cards, “...as much as we appreciate you letting us sit at your table…” she tactfully says, trying to measure her words.

“...we’re not here for this crap.”

Sabine’s entire body almost seizes at Julia Carpenter’s spontaneous statement. Sabine, dink’s her face into a palm, mumbling a flurry of curses under her breath before cutting Julia Carpenter a sharp glare.

Julia Carpenter also known as Spider-Girl, the Earthling Refugee had become an unbelievable asset to the Rebellion. Recovering captured rebel agents from behind enemy lines was no small feat.

But it was known that her attitude could get the best of her at times and this was no less an example. Julia replies to Sabine’s glare by flicking away her cards, scattering then across the table. Julia’s defiant expression sweeping over her face.

“We came a long way.” Julia says to Sabine. Julia then aims her ardor at Rocket and Hondo, “And it wasn’t to play, whatever stupid game this is…”

“What my friend is trying to say…” interrupts Sabine, glaring at Julia like a disobedient child before returning her attention to Rocket and Hondo, “...is we’re pressed for time. If you have intel about Ahsoka, we need it.” she says.

Bounty Hunters, and their ‘friends’ were always sensitive people, this Sabine knew. She didn’t need a gunfight erupting over hurt feelings and Rocket was particularly sensitive over the littlest things. His black nose wiggles momentarily before turning to Hondo.

“Do hear this?” exclaims Rocket, whipping his tail irritatedly back and forth, “They ask for things after we invited them to our table gamble?!” He scoffs.

Sabine starts rubbing her temples. Another stress-induced tension headache forming.

“WE INVITED THEM TO OUR TABLE TO GAMBLE!” Rocket proclaims once more, “How dense are your friends?!!” He says to Hondo.

Hondo leans forward, snapping his fingers as if recalling a memory.

“AH yes I think what my furry companion is saying…” Hondo exclaims to Sabine.

“Don’t call me your companion?!” Rocket spits back, “I’d shoot you ‘today’ if you didn’t owe me so much money.”

“Aha ha…” Hondo awkwardly laughs, “...always joking you are…” he gulps while turning to Sabine, “...what uh, Rocket, is alluding to is, when one such as yourselves, have been invited to gamble to our table, “...usually, gambling is done, and you haven’t…gambled..” he says, rubbing both fingers together to indicate money.

“I see.” Sabine sighs, reaching in her pouch for credit coins.

“You gotta be kidding me?!” Julia scoffs.

Sabine tosses three gold coins onto the table, “Fine, let’s gamble…”

“That just covers you sitting down.”

Sabine cuts Rocket a look as he taps his foot, “what?!” He scoffs, “This isn’t a charity for the wounded Inhuman Empire.” he says, nodding at the gold coins.

Julia leans forward, “I’ll show you wounded you…”

“Its fine Julia. Adapt!” Sabine growls to her, tossing six more gold coins on the table, “Okay Rocket, payment for our seats for the next two nights.” she says, “Now, Ahsoka, you mentioned her - what happened?!”

Rocket picks up one of the gold coins, biting it momentarily with a firm gnaw between his teeth, making sure its not fake. Pulling it away from his face, he nods at Sabine, “Don’t know any Ashoka?” he says, walking away with the coins.

STAR WARS - THE CAMPAIGN: A WAR OF EMPIRES

CHAPTER 2 - No Need for Bounty Hunters

PART 4 - Sideways

Sabine Wren
Sabine Wren

Julia Carpenter
Julia Carpenter

Nico Minoru
Nico Minoru

Bossk
Bossk

Hera Syndulla
Hera Syndulla

BOBA FETT
BOBA FETT

Rocket Racoon
Rocket Racoon

Hondo Ohnaka
Hondo Ohnaka

Knowhere

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided

No Caption Provided

Slamming both her fists on the table, Julia forces her seat back, “You sniveling lil...”

Immediately Rocket pulls out his minigun that folds out three crackling green needles focused around the barrel. The small half-inch diameter of the gun barrel hums with green glow inches from Julia’s face.

Rocket shakes his head, “Now now now…” he says condescendingly, “...you enhanced humans can move fast, but my murderin’ trigger finger is faster, especially spider symbiote types.” he says.

“Excuse me?!” Julia huffs.

“Rocket…” Sabine says sternly, placing her hand on her holster gun handle “...don’t do this.” she warns.

“Do what?.” Rocket scoffs, turning his sight back to Julia, wagging his gun at Julia’s chest, “You walk in here, with an Earthling no less - who all have a bounty on them - and then she gets pissy just because she can’t get what she wants. I don’t need some Symbiote getting pissy and then trying to eat everyone.”

Julia’s blue eyes narrow, “I’m not a symbiote.” she retorts.

“Enhanced human, white spider insignia.” Rocket shrugs, “Sounds like a symbiote ta’ me. I’d burn your keister right here if it wasn't for me just getting this place fixed up from the last fight.”

Looking around, Sabine raises her eyebrow, “This place is fixed up?!”

Swiftly Rocket turns his gun on Sabine, “I suggest you leave Mand’o.” he spits, cocking his blaster with a high pitch tone emitting, “Get in your ship and get lost at whatever dive in Coruscant you Rebel types always seem to find themselves in...”

Sabine arches her eyebrow as Rocket looks at her deliberately.

“...and if you’re lucky…” Rocket snarls, “...you won’t see me at the 1313 auction - I don’t care how exclusive it is or if its by invite only, I see you, I may put a blaster bolt in your head.” he says.

The majority of Rocket’s threat was indiscernible for Julia, but she looks over to Sabine, who seemed to be holding back a grin.

Promptly, Sabine stands up, holding up her hands, “Sorry Rocket for the disturbance.” she says, patting Julia on the shoulder with a prompt nod to the door, “Let’s go, we’re leaving, good to see you Hondo.”

Rocket narrows his eyes, “Yeah, that’s what they all…”

Suddenly, all the lights in the establishment begin to flicker violently. Confused, everyone in the establishment looks about in confusion before a prompt and muffled explosion erupts over everyone’s head. The sound of shattering wood and a loud thud calls everyone’s attention to the center of the bar. Once the flickering lights become steady, a steady series of prompt clicks and high pitched screams from every Bounty Hunter’s weapons fills the room with sound. Barrels of every weaponed aimed at whatever fell at the center room remain steady and aimed; ready to incinerate.

However one of the Bounty Hunters at the bar holds up his three-digit blue hand.

“Slrrttt takan!” he calls out. Approaching the furry mass sprawled on the floor, the Bounty Hunter kicks it over, then, startled, doubles back, “Wahdidad Kraakstaan!”

“Kulu teeni!” exclaims an Amphibious green creature, pointing up at the hole emitting a soft red glow. Standing towards the back of the bar and far from the commotion.

Julia looks at Sabine, “I swear I hate space language, what did he say?” she asks.

Sabine feels a nudge behind her. Holding out her helmet, Hondo comes from around the table, “I suggest the rear exit, old friend.” he smirks.

Sabine smiles back, “Who you calling old?” she quips, taking the helmet while touching her earpiece, “Okay Miles we done here, keep the rear clear, we’re exiting out the...”

Before Sabine can finish, Julia grabs her arm, shaking it, “Sabine. Look.”

Looking at the commotion, Sabine feels the blood drain out her face, “OH bantha…” she gasps.

Descending from the gaping hole in the middle of the wood ceiling, Nico Minoru’s slender form gracefully lowers to the bar floor. Her long brass Staff in one hand, the unconscious reptilian bounty hunter Bossk held by his collar in the other. Once Nico’s feet gently touch the floor, her menacing red eyes observe at the flurry of weapons held by the Bounty Hunter’s aimed at her head.

Her black coated lip stretches to a menacing smirk, “well hello.” she greets.

Sabine can barely believe her own eyes, “What in...” Sabine mumbles, motioning forward to Nico, but Julia promptly pulls her arm back.

“Don’t.” Julia says before Sabine can say more, “Something’s wrong. Look at her, she’s...different.” she mumbles.

“Julia…” Sabine gulps, looking to her for some kind of explanation, “...tell me you can explain this.”

~~~

Nico drops the reptilian bounty hunter Bossk to the floor like a bag of dirt. Standing in place, Nico watches as all bounty hunters surround her in a circle. Their weapons trained on her, Nico looks at each Bounty Hunter in the eye, unimpressed.

“So this is the welcoming committee?” Minoru huffs, taking one step toward a weapon held by a shaky hand, “How disappointing.” she sighs.

“WAKA NAAAN YAAT!” Exclaims one Bounty Hunter.

Nico tilts her head to the side, making sure the universal translator earpiece processed the whole statement.

Understanding it, Nico draws a deep breath, “What am I? You ask.” she repeats.

The thought crossed her mind to divulge her backstory. Her daughter Nico, Japanese American teenager had her own body hijacked by her mother who’s been trapped inside her mind and an artifact for the past five years. It crossed her mind to explain to them that, Nico’s mother, Ms Minoru, had made a body count that rivaled of a small nation. But then again, the thought of exhaling it all, was just too tiring.

“Oh honey, it's simple.” Ms Minoru says, leaning forward, “I’m a Predator.” she whispers with a sinister grin.

One turn of Nico’s wrist, a deep ‘warb’ sound emits from her Staff of One and all the Bounty Hunter’s weapons are immediately sent straight up off their feet and to the ceiling. Screams and cries fill the bar. Cups, food, and cards break on the floor. Everyone’s terrified eyes focus on Nico who just makes her giggles with joy at the sight of everyone is pressed up against into the wood ceiling like tiles.

“Oh I missed this.” Minoru laughs.

~*~*~ OUTSIDE~*~*~

Running through the hallway, Hondo pushes out the rear door and staggers out to a terrace platform. Out of breath, Hondo turns around, looking at the entire Bar’s lighting, flicking. Pulling out a communicator, Hondo draws a breath, “Bobba, my friend! I hear through the network of a ‘job’ you have - I think they are here my Mando’ friend - care to make a deal?”

Perched on the roof, crouched between two flickering signs and cloaked invisible, Miles Morales brings his wrist to his mouth, “Hera, I’m not inside, but I think things just went sideways..”

~*~*~*~Inside the Bar~*~*~*

Standing on their feet, Sabine and Julia remain still, paralyzed with fear as they are the only ones still standing on their feet. Lifting their eyes, Sabine and Julia see Rocket, and every patron in the bar, squirm with their back up against the ceiling as well, except Hondo.

“And then there were Nico's associates.”

Sabine eyes snap back to Nico standing in the middle of the bar glaring them like a carnivorous beast. Sabine knew it was Nico. It was Nico, but then again, it wasn't. It was as if Nico had shed her skin and became something, menacing. Julia and Sabine exchange quick glances at each other, both equally confused.

“Sabine Wren…” Minoru announces

Sabine brow scrunched at hearing her name said in full, let alone, refer to herself in the third person.

“...Nico thinks your the smart one, are you?” asksMinoru, the red light in her Staff brightening ever so slightly.

Sabine, rolls her tongue in her mouth, she knew which fights to choose and which fights to let go, the experience had taught her that. Slowly, Sabine lifts her trembling hand off her gun handle.

“Good girl.” Nico says, refocusing her attention at the two bounty hunters, Bossk, and Black Krassatan, sprawled out on the floor at her feet, “Now, Sabine Wren, Jennifer Carpenter…”

Again, the use of their full names causes a wash of confusion over both Julia and Sabine’s faces.

“...scurry along.” advises Minoru, while telekinetically lifting the unconscious Bossk the Bounty Hunter off the floor, “I don’t have much time and all that tends to make things decidedly graphic.” she warns,

Julia shakes her head, “Nico, we got what we came for, we can go, just put him down…”

“YOU...” Ms Minoru barks, glaring at them both agitatedly before stabbing the end of the Staff in the floor so it stands on its own “...got what you came for, but Nico needs something, and the gecko has it!” she snarls.

Telekinetically lifting both of Bossk’s limp arms, Nico points at her own face, “She needs to find Molly...” she says, pointing to Bossk, “...and was hoping for your help…”

“We WILL help her...” Julia interrupts,, hoping to defuse this, “...we can come to a...”

“Don’t.” interrupts Nico, telekinetically throwing Julia’s across the room with a flick of her wrist!, “False expectations compounded by lies seriously irk me.” she snarls.

Sabine’s eyes open wide as Julia’s pressed up against the wall, clasping at her throat for air, “NICO LET’ER GO!!” she yells, pulling out her blaster.

Before Sabine can clear the holster, Nico nods her head, telekinetically throwing the blaster out her hands.

“Seriously?” Minoru asks, raising her eyebrows at her, “You’ll do what?!” she asks, releasing her hold on Julia who drops onto all fours, coughing and rubbing her throat. Nico returns her sinister red eyes back to Bossk floating before her, “Why Nico cares about you is BEYOND me.” Minoru snarls, pointing her finger at Bossks limp left arm, “She’s the reason BOTH your necks aren’t snapped. But Don’t. Test. Me.” she warns.

Turning her attention to Bossk, Nico gestures her finger across the air, tearing his arm out his shoulder! Bossk awakens and his slit irises dilate in painful agony, as he screams out loud.

“Oh my!” Minoru giggles, watching Bossk’s arm twitch on the floor “Well aren’t we a bleeder!”

Bossk’s haunting high pitched scream fills the entire bar as his arm slowly regrows out his shoulder. Nico eyes open wide, “Oh, that’s unexpected!” she smirks.

“NICO STOP THIS RIGHT NOW!!” shouts Sabine.

Nico points her finger to the floor, telekinetically throwing Sabine face-first to the wood floor!

“GUH!” Sabine groans, holding her cut cheek

“Told you not to test me.” Minoru shrugs, before looking to Julia who seems terrified and hesitant to move, “But you, oh please do something cause I REALLY don’t like you!” she spits.

Turning her attention back to Bossk, Nico holds up her two fingers as if pinching something. Instantly Bossk’s wriggling suspended body stiffens. His head then forcibly turned to face Nico. His lizard eyes look at her in pure horror, “Hi.” she grins, “Let’s play a game. I ask a question, you answer. Don’t answer, I rip something off. Understand?”

Bossk simply snarls at her, baring his teeth in pain.

“Good.” Minoru replies, “SO, a woman named Ahsoka had an annoying little girl with her named Molly, where’d you last see them? This is when you answer!” she says.

Answering questions that could compromise a client, was against everything in the Bounty Hunter Code and Bossk knew this. Even though he wasn’t one not to decline information in return for payment, he did so in secret. Yet with all the patrons held up to the ceiling and still conscious, Bossk knew he couldn’t answer - it was suicide.

“SSSSSCREW YOU BANTHA FODDER!” Bossk hisses in a pained voice.

Nico sighs at his reply, “Oh I was hoping you’d say that!” she grins, pulling her hands back. Immediately Bossk screams as a telekinetic force tugs at his legs! Shaking his head in pain, Nico Bossk’s howl in agony as his right leg is stretched beyond its normal length before a loud pop comes from his hip!

“AAAAAH!!” he screams in agony

“I ASKED A QUESTION!” yells Minoru, tugging her arm back again! Screaming, Bossk’s leg is torn away from his hip and dropped to the floor.

“YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO ANSWER IT.” Minoru shouts, swiping her hand across the air, she rips off Bossk other arms in a flurry of screams, “THATS HOW THE GAME WORKS!” she shouts.

Seeing sweat pouring down his face, Minoru shakes her head, “Oh don’t you dare lose consciousness on me.” she spits, thrusting her hand left. Mercilessly, Bossk is hurtled through the air across the bar and sent smashing into liquor bottles behind the bar counter, shattering the mirror wall. His green blood splattering everywhere.

“I don’t have much time...” exclaims Minoru, now pointing at the floor at her feet. Immediately Bossk crashes through the bar counter, smashes through the wood planking on the floor to a grinding halt at her feet.

“...and you won’t run out of limbs!!” exclaims Minoru, glaring at Bossk covered in blood and debris at her feet, coughing up blood as his limbs grow back.

Lifting up her hands, Minoru telekinetically rips the wood planks out the floor and they float around her. Twiddling her fingers, Minoru smirks at Bossk as the wood planks shave down to ten sharp projectiles.

“So let’s switch games to one I played as a kid. Its called: ‘Operation’” Minoru snarls.

“Coruscant.” Bossk coughs, “Planet Coruscant.”

Nico’s lips firm together into a line and shakes her head, “Hmm. Sounds like a big place!” she replies, pointing at Bossk. Immediately all the projectiles stab into Bossk’s torso at once. Bossk’s haunting scream is quickly silenced by Nico pinched her fingers telekinetically forcing his mouth closed, rendering his cry to a mumble.

“I hate getting lost.” snarls Minoru, hold up a finger as the last projectile poised between Bossk’s eyes, “So be specific, or i’ll specifically put this spike in your brain where it won’t grow back. Ready?” she nods, “Go!” she orders, releasing his mouth from her hold.

“LEVEL 1313!” Bossk screams out, “I SOLD THEM TO CADE BANE. HE HAS THEM FOR AN EXCLUSIVE AUCTION IN TEN HOURS. LEFT POCKET! INVITE ONLY, TAKE IT. LEVEL 1313!”

Satisfied, Nico squats down to Bossk and pulls out his pocket a slender black card. Holding it up to his face, Nico smiles at him, “Last question…”

Suddenly an object shoots through the door, explodes in a white cloud of dust with a bright orange laser net shooting out and wrapping around Nico. Caught in the electrified net, Nico is sent to the floor, screaming in pain. Instantly everyone held to the ceiling drops to the floor and bar counter in a collective thud! Their groans of discomfort is drowned out by a rocket booster roaring into the bar. Rocket looks up to see Boba Fett heavy boots stomp to the floor to a stop.

Making his point, Boba Fett pulls out a pistol on everyone and grabs the tether connected to the net “My catch.” he declares through the voice emitter.

Rocket Raccoon, slowly stands up, glaring at the Boba’s mask.

“On a normal day, I wouldn't interfere…” Rocket says, but then looks at everyone before pointing at Nico, “...but not today.” he snarls, “TWO MILLION CREDITS TO THE MAN WHO GETS THE GIRL!” he shouts, pointing to Nico.

With that said, Boba Fett ignites his jetpack that roars to life, kicks off his feet, barely hits the floor and zooms out the bar doors, dragging Nico in tow out the door! The harmonious roar of angry Bounty Hunters follows them while they pile out the front door like madmen, chasing after Boba streaking through the atmosphere of Knowhere like a fiery meteor with Nico tethered in the air behind him.

At the rear of the bar witnessing all this, Sabine gets on her feet and open her comm on her wrist mic, “MILES! Boba has Nico, GET HER BACK!” she says. No sooner than she finishes, Julia watches Nico’s Staff of One that’s lodged into middle bar floor, bend like a tree in the wind then snap out of place, and shoot through doors, zipping after Nico.

Unable to believe her own ears, Julia’s blue eyes open wide in anger and she smacks Sabine comm mic away from her mouth to her surprise.

“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FRICKIN’ MIND!!?!” Julia exclaims, pointing at Bossk laying on the floor being tended to some Twi’lek females, “DID YOU NOT JUST SEE WHAT NICO...”

“SHE HAS THE CARD JULIA!” Sabine interrupts, “Rocket gave the indication where Ahsoka and Molly were headed - its Coruscant, obviously where there’s some auction come to find out.” she reminds her while pointing to the door behind her, “We can’t get in without access, so either we take a chance and hopefully find a way to STEAL access to that auction…”

Julia turns her back to Sabine, balling up her fists and closes her eyes tight with enough frustration to cause tears, knowing what the obvious choice is.

“Or we go after the person we KNOW who has it incapacitate Nico, bind her up, save Ahsoka and Molly from being sold, recover the data and mission accomplished.” Sabine reasons, “Tell me I’m wrong, tell me there’s an easier way and I'll do it, but tell me now before Miles loses Boba!”

Letting out an aggravated breath, Julia angrily grabs a chair and throws it, “Son ova…”

~*~*~*~*~

Meanwhile

Running through between a row of dilapidated homes alleyway, Miles Morales looks up at the dark sky of Knowhere and shoots out his web. Line taut, Miles pulls and launches off ground over the row of bars and rows of homes. Immediately, Miles reaches out and sticks to a tall antenna.

Touching his earpiece, Miles clearly Boba Fett by his bright fiery rocket streaking through the air with a bright tether dragging in the air behind connected to a wrapped person in a laser net, “Sabine I got’em…” he says.

Peering into the distance, Miles sees the Ship Docking Station and a cluster of ships parked their in the distance, “Hera, its Miles, I have an idea.”

~*~*~*~Up Above~*~*~*~

No Caption Provided

Streaking through the air, Boba Fett peers through the red tint of his Heads Up Display or HUD within his helmet. The visor’s HUD could make anyone disoriented at first view. It took Fett time to get used to, but once he customized it, he could understand everything around him without turning his head.

He saw the closing distance meter between himself on his ship Slave I. Once he was on board, he would call Vader and tell him, like always, his job was complete. If his target's associates followed after him, then he would draw them out into a battle towards the Empire ships he would call. Either way, he would get paid. Checking the HUD's battery meter for the electro-net he had Nico caught in, he had enough charge to keep her like this for several hours before should start to have seizures because of the constant current. The low voltage made moving uncomfortable, making any caught subject requiring them to lay still.

Hence, no surprises were possible, except for one and to surprise Fett, his HUD would picking it up. An incoming, fast-moving object - an unknown variable in his plan. It was cutting through every single material on the ground that stood in its way. Punching through homes, slicing through vehicles, even bursting through standing individuals in its path without conscious. It couldn’t have been a Rebel, they had codes of conduct, this thing didn't. Any other Bounty Hunter after him, save for one he knew wasn’t in Knowhere, could move this fast.

Touching the side of his visor, Boba’s HUD picks up on his radar an object smashing out a rooftop and hurtling for him. Immediately Boba turns, narrowly missing the object streaking past him, trying to cut the tether he holds to Nico.

“YOU CAN'T TAKE ME!”Boba looks down at Nico who had shouted at him, "I'LL GET FREE AND BEAT WITH THAT HELMET!" Minoru shouts.

He understood now. Looking back at the Staff taking a wide turn in the air like a glimmering red star, Boba watches what he surmises is the girls' weapon, redirecting towards him. How she controlled it mattered little, he just had to get to Slave I, and fast.

Flipping the switch on his utility belt, Boba readies himself to kick in afterburners on his jetpack.

“KOWABUNNNGAAAAAH!!!!”

Seeming out of nowhere, an invisible force collides into Boba body’s throwing him uncontrollably through the air as the Staff streaks by him again, missing him. Grappling with whatever invisible force this, Boba feels two feet plant itself on his back.

"OH this looks important!" says the voice, before ripping off Bob's jetpack with tremendous strength, sending them both freefalling!

Hitting his wrist gauntlet, Boba Fett, shoots a powerful electro-current over his entire suit. Yet amazingly, whatever force was on top of him, leaps off in the nick of time, shoots a string to his chestplate and yanks him towards the ground with tremendous force!

In a flurry of confusion, Boba can barely see his up from down as proximity alerts scream in his ears. Without a jetpack, Boba finally catches sight of a fast coming rooftop. Curling himself up and relying on his invested, and expensive armor, Boba Fett crashes through a rooftop and lands square inside another swelling.

Reeling in pain, Boba Fett lays sprawled out as two amphibian creatures peek over from behind their seats, looking at him laying on their dinner.

Groaning in pain, Boba spots through the massive hole in the ceiling, across the way, a tall antenna with the glowing line of his electro-net being gathered. The line is gathered until Nico is raised up to something, that now, decloaks itself.

Miles, decked in his black and red spider suit, pulls the net off of Nico. Painful to move, Boba fights through it and touches the side of his helmet. Snapping a still image of Miles, he renders a clear image of Miles before he leaps away with Nico.

“See ya soon.” Boba mumbles to himself.

~*~*~*~~*

Landing on another rooftop, Miles holds Nico in his arms and gently rests her on the roof tiles. In the fall, Miles saw Nico hit her head as he grabbed the tether. Miles figured it was remarkably better than Nico going splat onto the concrete, but then again, he figured she would disagree.

Touching his earpiece, Miles draws a deep breath, “Miles to Ghost, I got her.” he announces on his frequency. .

*Great work Miles. We’re ten seconds out. Stay frosty.*

Stay frosty, or stay alert - he was used to that Phrase now. He never thought -

Suddenly a red light glows from overhead. Looking up, Miles scampers away from Nico as her Staff of One glowing bright slams into Nico’s chest like a missile but then disappearing in a cloud of red fog covering the surface of the entire rooftop ankle deep.

Miles pulls off his mask, revealing his face, “Nico?” he calls out. Waving his mask to clear the fog, sees Nico squats down to her side at hearing her cough repeatedly.

Shivering, Nico holds her chest, coughing repeatedly as she opens her eyes. She felt like she had been on a drinking bender and had finally woken up from a drunken coma. Raising her eyes to Miles, Nico squints confused, “What happened? Why am I on a roof?” she asks him.

However before he can say anything, a bright light shines behind him. Miles stands up and sees Hera Syndulla's ship The Ghost hovering behind them. Its rear doors opened, the ramp extended, Miles squints due to the rear landing lights but then, makes out clearly Sabine Wren on her knee, her helmet off, clutching a rifle nestled up against her padded shoulder aiming at them!

“GOT HER!” shouts Sabine pulling the trigger, jolting from the recoil.

Miles hears the shot zip past him and shoot into Nico. Stunned, Miles turns to Nico, observing the large tranquilizer needle lodged in Nico’s chest as she triedly falls back, sprawled out, her eyes closing.

Standing up, Sabine rests the rifle on her shoulder and looks to Julia behind her, “Let’s go!”

To be continued..