The TARDIS arrives safely back inside The Ark's tower hangar. The doors of it open and DarkRula walks out. The Doctor joins him from just inside. The journey had been smooth. The talking that happened, not so much. "-so just give me some time, dear Max. She'll be ready in no time." The Doctor looks a bit haggard and irate, though that is nothing to the razor sharp stare and poised pose of DarkRula. "How many times, Doc!" he fires in a loud voice. "DarkRula! Call me DarkRula!" "And how many times do I have to tell you, dear Max, to not use the shortened version of my name. Besides, DarkRula is a name you have applied to yourself. A self-appointed title, if you will, that I wouldn't want to use." "Ho! That's rich, considering I don't even know your real name. If anyone has a self-appointed title here, it's you." The Doctor doesn't recoil at that, and instead says in a tone of finality "I've got things to be doing. This is your ship. Do something." With that he turns back and walks to the console. Looking around, he sees DarkRula storming away from the TARDIS. Pressing a button, the doors close. "Honestly, he takes things so personal. It's just a name. Just a form of address. Does it really matter?" The Doctor sighs. "Oh, whatever. I'm sure he'll calm down soon enough." Walking around the console, he strokes a few of the panels. "For now, let us see what we can do for you, my beautiful girl."
DarkRula storms into the bridge, and the droid on duty greets him with "How did the journey go?" "Fine!" DarkRula snaps. He can't help it when he adds "When will that thing ever start working right? It's just causing trouble no matter what you do with it!" "Um... sir?" the droid asks. "Are you okay?" "I'm fine!" DarkRula says, again in the snappish tone. "Except for the fact we never even made it to Da Soocha, get tangled up in some business on Tatooine, almost lose the TARDIS, and all The Doctor wants to do is find out where the Daleks are so he can stop them once and for all!" "You never saw the Jedi base?" "Hah! That's something else! No! I haven't been yet! I-" He lets out a breath of air and seems to calm. His voice matches his calmer outlook. "I need to find out where the Jedi main base is. Yes, the Daleks have to be stopped, and so... I met them first, so it falls to me." "Okay, sir." "Did anything happen while we were gone?" "There was a scout, a small ship," the droid informs. "It arrived just a while after you left. Then it disappeared." "A scout? Did anything tip you off about who it might have been?" "No, sir. Nothing." "I don't like that. Prepare for a hyperspace jump. Not far, just a bit closer to the core. Throw them off for a bit." The settings are input quickly and The Ark stands hyperspace ready. Just a few seconds before the drive powers up, numerous ships revert from hyperspace. Before a clear visual could be had, The Ark jumps.
"That was indeed The Ark," Skirata confirms. "The information you gave was correct." Lei'sa smiled at that. The bounty hunter had been following The Ark, and had watched it stop at Zhar. She had miscalculated its next jump and had landed right into the Keldabe-class cruiser at Tatooine. Skirata had invited her on-board, saying he would only let her leave if she helped them. Her sister had gone to the Zhar system to continue from the last known location. So'lei had found The Ark, so while the Mandalorians jumped to their fleet, Lei'sa had the location to give them. A fleet of five had jumped and arrived to see The Ark jump. "So where are they heading?" the black figure asks. Not the Mandalorian. The other cone-shaped thing. The thing she heard Skirata call Dalek Zane. "We know it's going closer to the core, but that hardly narrows our options down. There's no point in this entire fleet following yet, however." "I could go," Lei'sa offers. "I've already got a contract to hunt them down, so I'd just be doing my job." "And this job is for the Neimoidians, whose need is probably less than ours. We could probably double the amount offered if you deliver to us first." "That's generous, Skirata. However, I only really need the one coded DarkRula for the Neimoidians. I assume you mostly want the other – The Doctor. That right?" "It is," Dalek Zane says. "I thought both of them were together on the bounty?" Skirata asks. "If you want The Doctor dead, then all I need is a part of him to prove I captured both. It only lists DarkRula as live capture." "Go do your work, then. Make sure to keep us informed." "I will." Walking from the bridge, Lei'sa quickly returns to her ship, docked inside the main hangar. Once inside and away, she calls her sister. "So'lei, if you want a big sum of money, stick with me and let's find this Doctor and the other."
"So you've calmed down, I see," The Doctor says upon entering the bridge. "Yes, Doctor, and I understand that the Daleks need to be stopped as soon as." "A fleet of ships appeared on my scopes, so the connection between the TARDIS and the Ark is fully operational. Which also means the real work can begin now the beautiful girl is responding well." "Good to hear." DarkRula had mulled things over, and decided he would do better dealing with the Daleks than trying to find the Jedi main base. The Daleks were the major threat to the galaxy. Finding the main base was just a personal vendetta, and one that could easily be sorted once the Daleks were taken care of. "As I understand," The Doctor muses, "you and Kronis were the ones who had primarily been dealing with the Daleks." "I don't think two encounters with them before you arrived counts as dealing with them, but we were one of the first to encounter them, yes." "I'd love to follow the route they took, to see exactly what it was they did upon first coming here." "That'd take us to the core, where this ship will most likely be boarded upon entering any system." DarkRula didn't know if that was true, but with a high bounty on him and it being listed that this cruiser was in his command, it more than likely would happen. "You misunderstand me." The Doctor gives a knowing smile. "The Ark won't be going. It'll be me, you, and the TARDIS." "The Ark can't stay here. Let me plan a course that'll take us to a part of the core that sees little traffic, then we'll go." It took some planning, but eventually a route was mapped to the Hemei system. It was a small colony with very little presence from any corporations, and while possible the Ark could get found out it was unlikely enough to take the risk. While the route had been in the process of planning out, a small scout had emerged from hyperspace. It had just sat watching them. Nothing had attached itself to the Ark, but it had still made DarkRula worry. Once in hyperspace, it was impossible to accurately track without the codes of specific ships. Even so, once the Ark emerged from hyperspace, DarkRula had put off travel in the TARDIS for a few hours to make absolutely sure no-one had tracked them. Only then had the real journey began.
"They came out at Hemei," the voice sounds through the speakers. Lei'sa was sat in hyperspace, cruising between systems in a zig-zag, and had been waiting on the news. With the system named, Lei'sa could now set a course directly to Hemei. She still wanted to make sure, and asked how the other knew. "I worked for the colony that's located there hunting out someone once. They're just repaying the favour." "I still don't understand how you make a living from the smaller jobs, but meet me there and we'll get this underway." A few hours later Lei'sa looked upon the Ark, and a bleep came indicating another ship reverting from hyperspace. The coded name for it gave Lei'sa a start. Quickly getting back on the comm, she calls to her sister "This is meant to be covert! What do you think you're doing having that name running." "So'lei Mining is a sub-division set up in my name," her sister responds. "It was done so they knew it was me whenever I returned." "You mean you occasionally run cargo for them." "Nothing wrong with that. Now let's scan that cruis- Why is it in a low powered state?" Lei'sa looks down at her own scan. Sure enough, the Ark was showing up with emergency systems only. If everything had been deactivated, they didn't even need to board. Or so she thought. "Can you remotely access anything?" Lei'sa asks. "Nothing. We need to go in." The two ships quickly do a fly-by, making sure no security systems waited to blow them to atoms if they tried getting access. All hangar doors were closed, Lei'sa notices, and suggests suiting up for a bit of hull work. Attaching to the side of the tower, So'lei managed to cut into the power reserves enough to lower the hangar door on the tower. Lei'sa lands inside, and So'lei joins her. Everything was eerily quiet. The red emergency lighting did little to lighten the place. Blasters out, the two walked through the corridors, looking around the corners before signalling clear and moving on. The lobby for the turbolifts was also full of red emergency lighting, which did even less to cover all the places that needed lighting. Lei'sa switches to night vision on her goggles, checking everywhere. Nothing. What is this? She couldn't help but think. "There isn't anything on the infra-red," So'lei reports. "The bridge is devoid of any lifeforms." "What about the EM?" "Already checked. Nothing." Lei'sa presses a button to open the bridge doors. The noise as they opened made both jump. It sounded almost the same as a lightsaber activating, just without the signature sizzle of that weapon. The bridge was full of droids, though none were active. Pressing a button on one of the computers, a security feed plays out. Live footage from the camera in the bridge. Calling So'lei as she traced back through the feed, she found a point in which everything appeared normal and let it play. The one who she recognised as DarkRula was just standing. Everything around him was powering down. The droids appeared surprised, and when even they started powering down, Lei'sa realised – he was using the Force to do it. No wonder the shut down was happening so fast. With everything now powered down, DarkRula said "Now let's go start this journey." The Doctor was obviously out of sight. Once DarkRula was out of sight as well, just one word reached the microphone of the security system.
"Coruscant," Lei'sa reports. "Are you there now?" Skirata asks. "We found out through the Ark's security feed. It's in a low powered state in the Hemei system. We were going to report the location to the Trade Federation." "What stopped you?" "We're unsure if the Neimoidians could even take control back. The whole cruiser is resistant to remote access, and aside from the security feed there is nothing accessible using standard Federation codes." "We'll deal with it. You go... No. If this is what I think it is, go to Fresia. Lay-up and wait for them." Lei'sa looked confused at that, but confirmed and hung the call.
The TARDIS had landed in one of the plazas of the planet-city. The same plaza in which the Daleks had risen. The area had been completely repaired since that time, with the towers looking resplendent in the sunset. The Doctor had followed DarkRula to an area that overlooked the plaza. DarkRula had then set about explaining the encounter. The two had been helping the local police look into a case that threatened to break into a hostile situation. Reports came from nearby of vehicles being shot down. Fearing a distraction attempt, the police had sent the two Jedi to check it out. They weren't meant to engage, but had no choice. The blast from one of the lasers had struck the place they were at now, and the two had dodged the rubble while falling down below. "Far out in that direction is a spaceport," DarkRula finishes up. "One of the biggest on the planet. The Daleks stormed through it, and ended up inside a ship of the Mandalorians. The one I now control that's known as the Scimitar." "The Daleks didn't care about anyone here, which is normal for them. What I find interesting is that they decided to make for the nearest spaceport. Perhaps they thought they were still in their own universe, so wanted to head back to their base. Hmm..." The Doctor was at a loss for what happened next, and asks DarkRula. "We were tasked by the Jedi to find them. We'd reported about them, and at the time they thought it best to control the situation. At Ruan we met up with three other Jedi, and the five of us were meant to take them out. It didn't happen anything like we expected." "And was this Ruan where you encountered them?" "No. That was Fresia." "Tell me more while we head back to the TARDIS." The Doctor turned a bit too fast, and his top hat slips to the side a bit. As the two walked, The Doctor learnt of the battle that had taken place at Fresia. Across a walkway, a vehicle drove close by. A police vehicle followed, hot on the tail of the other. The resulting draft of air took The Doctor's top hat from his head. DarkRula saves it using his Force power. Pulling it toward him and smiling, DarkRula says "Hold onto it until we're back inside the TARDIS."
"Still don't understand why we were told to go here," Lei'sa comments. "Unless Mando wants us to defend his base from something." "Oh, stop complaining," So'lei cheerily says. "I highly doubt this is a base any more, considering all that damage down there." The two were within their ships, a few hundred metres apart from each other. The idea was to come from both sides and disable quickly. They'd been waiting for a while. "Whatever happened, it sure was a grand battle," So'lei continues. "Scavengers would have a field day with all this junk, as I'm sure some already have." "If we'd have gone to Coruscant, we'd have been able to track them easily," Lei'sa growls. "What? A big city-planet like that? Maybe he has sources we don't know about. Maybe this DarkRula was present at this battle. It looks very recent. It's entirely possible." "Why return?" "Because he just has." Lei'sa looks up at that, looking out into space. Looking down at her scopes, it is the same as ever. "Stop kidding around." "You don't have your scopes trained on the planet itself, do you?" So'lei made her voice sound condescending, as though Lei'sa should have been looking at the planet instead of out in space. "And why would I be doing that?" "The energy source we scanned on Forsaad is back. Down on the planet." Lei'sa gave a feral grin, saying "Let's get down and go hunting."
The bong sounded, alerting the two that they had landed. The TARDIS was responding marvellously, and The Doctor was loving it. She was almost her old self again. The time drives were still down and a few other problems couldn't be fixed, but she was working just as she always had. "Fresia was a small outpost of the Mandalorians, then?" The Doctor enquires. "Not a main base?" "I doubt it was ever more than a staging post of some battle or other, with the equipment left behind." DarkRula walks toward the door, continuing with "It might just have been a secret meeting place, but the defensive towers were a giveaway if it was." The doors open and DarkRula jumps back. "Doctor? Why are we parked in the air?" The Doctor walks to the doors and looks out, indicating what was the massive shell of numerous cruisers. "We don't need to be on the surface to see what happened here. It's obvious that the battle was small in scale, despite the numerous wrecks of cruisers." "Yeah, small in scale. It was multi-tiered, and I never got to say-" Numerous blasts peppered the TARDIS, rocking it forward. The Doctor had been holding onto a rail, and almost ended up following DarkRula through the entrance to the fall that awaited. Watching him fall for a few seconds, The Doctor looks up to see two craft looping around for another attack run. "Not if I can help it," The Doctor mutters, running to the console. A few inputs closes the doors and sets a new course. The thrum of the engines starts up.
The attack had surprised him, and before he had known what was happening, he had ended up outside the TARDIS and falling down to the surface. Correcting his position, he angled for a landing, using the Force to push against the ground and buffer his speed. The scream of the two scout ships alerted him to their presence, and looking up he saw them angling to get a lock on him. The TARDIS was nowhere to be seen, but it was likely The Doctor had just shifted position. DarkRula didn't dare use the Force on those ships, since the bounty was for live capture, and he had a pretty good reason to believe these were bounty hunters. They couldn't have been following them, so they had to have found a way to access the Ark. Stupid! Leaving it low powered! Varying ways of how he could have protected it were running through his mind, chief of which was not bothering to activate any power-down procedures in the first place. It was already protected from remote access, which meant whoever this was would have had to battle numerous droids if they had wanted to get access. The ships scream over him, and start settling down near to an engine from one of the cruisers. His thinking catches up with him as he realises they wouldn't have got this place from the Ark. It was a case of outside help, and he knew a bounty hunter who was working for the Neimoidians, who would know exactly what had happened at this place. His suspicion was confirmed when a Twi'lek jumped from one of the scout ships. A second warning, the Force called, and DarkRula raises a hand to catch a piece of metal before it hit his head. Reaching out to sense his surroundings, he felt the two Twi'leks, and The Doctor to his right. Turning slightly, a large part of one of the cruisers was sticking out from the ground, making a tower. Inside that tower, The Doctor watched, and a slight bit of blue could also be seen. Did he really land inside the wreckage? He's crazy! Looking back at the bounty hunters, he could tell they would react should he move. He could predict their movements through the Force, but even that wouldn't help after a second. He did have the piece of metal in his hands, but there was something telling him not to do it. He needed the distraction, so did it anyway. The metal flew from his hand without said hand propelling it forward, and as he quickstepped to his right, he received a shock when the metal flew to the side and a blaster bolt ripped the air right next to his leg. These two have the Force and I didn't even know it! That changed things. As two more bolts were fired, DarkRula dodged as best as he could, but still fell slightly off-balance. He was pushed off his feet. He felt an impact on the back of his head, and crumples slightly as the last of the momentum forces him through the gap between two of the girders. His feet clip the bottom girder, flinging them upward. Slightly dazed, he took stock of his surroundings. "Come out Jedi," one of them calls out. "We can do a few tricks as well. Care for more?" Clearing his head with a shake, DarkRula senses The Doctor's position, and quickly climbs through the wreckage to get there. A blast rings out, and the structure becomes unstable. Jumping through a gap, The Doctor grabs ahold of him and drags him inside the TARDIS. "Wait one," DarkRula says.
"We want them alive!" Lei'sa says through gritted teeth. So'lei gives a great sigh. "And the collapse of the structure won't kill him. I aimed away from where he currently was." A scraping sounds, and both look up. They look to the side, and quickly drop. The amount of metal and wire flying toward them had to have been manipulated through the Force, which was just a distraction from DarkRula. When they were able to stand up again, slightly battered from the occasional strike, they looked through the giant space that had been opened up. No-one was around but them. "He's hiding," Lei'sa assumes. "Hoping to get another attack on us." "No. They've gone." "What?" "Can't you feel the lack of people? The missing element of a certain darkness? He's gone from this planet." The two worked their way out of the structure and back to So'lei's ship. The energy source was no longer being read on the planet. Giving a sigh, Lei'sa makes the report. "You're done on this mission," Skirata informs. "Head to Tatooine and track down someone by the name of Thalia, leader of the planet." "We can still work this," Lei'sa demands. "Tell us where to go next. We will get them." "Tatooine. Thalia. To me." The call ends. So'lei stretches out. "Well, so much for that. Been fun working with you again, but I've got other stuff to be doing." "No! Wait!" So'lei had already taken off. Lei'sa gives a huff of contempt. "Go to Tatooine. Find the leader. I'll do that simple job, but don't expect me working with you again. And don't think I'll be taking this Doctor to you."
"That was close!" DarkRula feels the ebb of adrenaline from his body. It is then he notices that one of those blaster bolts had indeed hit his leg. It wasn't badly damaged, but he certainly hoped no more trouble awaited him. "They're certainly a lot of trouble," The Doctor comments. "From the Federation, I'm guessing." "The same one, yeah." "The journey ends here, then? Just the two planets?" "No. What comes next isn't as exciting, but is where the hunt ends." A shudder rises from DarkRula as he says "Byss." "Bad place?" "It's seeping with evil. The Daleks had rigged a tower to explode, which me and Kronis stopped. Well, activated it prematurely, anyway." "Can we go have a look?" "Sure." DarkRula could remember the last time he had set foot on Byss. The way the planet felt eternally cold, as though energy was being drained from every living thing. He had hoped never to return, and hoped even greater this trip would be quick. It took a matter of minutes to travel to Byss, and once landed and the doors opened, the crumbling remains of the tower were visible. The Doctor steps out, and is back in quite quickly with a silver faceplate. "A Cyberman. Ahh... Another old nemesis. I wonder how they got here? If anything, I say it would be the same way as the Daleks, but that would mean either this technology to allow a jump between universes has started to become widely available, or the Cybermen were caught in the middle when the Daleks travelled here. Once I get back to my universe, I must make sure to stop the invention of this technology. Seriously! How could anyone even think-" "Doctor?" "Yes?" DarkRula looks at the faceplate, then outside the doors. What looked like a Cyberman was waiting. Wondering how to get in. "Why, hello there," The Doctor says, walking up to it. "You are not welcome here," the thing outside says. The voice didn't sound mechanised. In fact, it sounded human. There was also a slight crack to it. It was a human, wearing the armour of one of the Cybermen. "We can't be welcome here if you won't let us," The Doctor says. "All we want is to be friendly." The man raises a hand, palm outward. "That's bet-" The Doctor starts, but that hand let's out a laser blast. The laser is broken upon contact with the TARDIS' shields. "Well now," The Doctor says, affronted. "You can't just use this technology to make yourself more menacing. I ought to sort you out." "Um, Doctor," DarkRula says, looking at a screen on the console. "I wouldn't go out there if I were you." "And why would that be?" "He's not the only one with Cyberman armour." Surrounding the TARDIS was numerous other armoured people, along with others further away. All were firing upon the TARDIS, though the lasers were small and ineffective. "Ah. I see your point," The Doctor says. "If this is all you need to show me, I think I'll drop you off at the Ark." The doors close and the engines start up, and only then does DarkRula realise what The Doctor had said. "Wait! Drop me off? You ask for a tour and now you're leaving?" "I am better suited to track the Daleks down, and now I have a good idea of how they use this universe, I should be able to track them down quickly. I will of course alert you when I have solid information." "Okay..." DarkRula says wearily. Inside, he's feeling broken. Like being split from Kronis for long periods. A strong bond had formed, he realised, between him and The Doctor. But it wasn't exactly that bond he was thinking of. It was his one chance to do the right thing. The only thing that made sense. "No. We make a good team. We stay together." "Ah," The Doctor sighs, "I know you want to stay on the hunt for the Daleks, but this gives you the chance to do the other thing you want to do. Track down the Jedi main base, and get the answers to the questions you have. But don't do anything rash." DarkRula exhales. "Sure, Doc." It's said with a calm tone. "Now don't- Ah. No matter. Just be careful. I hope to see you well when we meet again." "Same to you, Doctor. And sorry for the outburst after Tatooine. I was just annoyed and looking to point blame." "That's good to hear. And by splitting we can pursue separate goals while still working together." DarkRula walks to the TARDIS doors, which open when he nears them. Outside, he looks back. "Don't take too long with the hunt." "I'll be sure to make it swift." The doors close, and the TARDIS starts to dematerialise. The one chance to make things right. Now gone. Once The Doctor returns, if I've failed at every other method, I'll be sure to use that final chance. Until then... DarkRula walks to the bridge, intent on powering everything back up. Da Soocha called.
"It should have been easy!" Skirata shouts. The figure in the hologram recoiled at that. Full Mandalorian armour and a helmet with a menacing mechanised voice could put fear into most beings – Lei'sa included. "She isn't here. I've asked around, but everyone's confused. Thalos is dead, Thalia's meant to take over, but she hasn't shown. Some of the staff haven't even seen her since before you arrived." "Pah! She was with us. She was with DarkRula and The Doctor right until the very end. She was right there when her brother was killed!" "I'm telling you things are crazy around here. I'm heading to Anchorhead to see if I can get anything from there." "Report with anything you have." The hologram disappears. "She fears us," Dalek Zane says. "She must be hiding among the people of Anchorhead, if they even know it's her." Skirata knew better than to remove his helmet in front of present company, but needed to. He needed to properly breath the air. "We have no other way to increase our numbers. The facilities on Tatooine were our only hope." "And it looks like they've been lost. We will retreat for now," Skirata says. "The preparations to the final trap will need all hands on deck to finish." "To Dalek Command." "To Dalek Command," Skirata repeated.