"Well there doesn't look to be a battle going on," the comm officer says. Both he and the sensor operator had moved up to the bridge so that they could communicate easier with DarkRula without giving out signals to anyone in space. "Who knows," DarkRula says. "Maybe it's already finished." "So why not hold out until your forces are back aboard?" "Maybe it's like us," the sensor operator says. "Forced to move position." "Whatever the reason, we'd better get away fast," DarkRula says. "Too late," the sensor operator says. He was right. The Scimitar slows down and stops. It then starts moving sideways towards one of the cruisers. They weren't very professional though, as when the ship finally was brought into the cruiser's hangar, no-one was waiting for them. This came at an advantage. The three walk to the lift pod. "Right then," DarkRula says, "I'm going into the heart of this cruiser and I'm going to find the reactor. Meanwhile, you two will wait here and protect the ship." "How? We have no weapons." "There are a couple stashed in some crates." The lift slows and stops and DarkRula uses the Force to open the hatch. Running through it, he sees that no-one is around. Continuing to run through corridors of the cruiser, he meets no resistance. He finds his way to the reactor very easily. Again, there is no-one around. Then the door slams shut on the reactor room. "You have found it easy so far. This reactor is set to go off in ten minutes. Escape if you can." The voice then stops and alarms start to blare. Immediately, DarkRula springs into action. Activating his lightsaber, he plunges it into the door and keeps digging it in. He then channels the Force through the blade to crack the door in two. Deactivating and putting the lightsaber away, DarkRula then runs full pelt back to the Scimitar. At the hangar, he is inside with the hatch closed and inside a lift pod before the two men can look up. Diving to the controls as soon as the lift doors open, DarkRula lifts the Scimitar and zooms out of the hangar. A few hundred meters from it, the cruiser they were just in explodes, but they weren't out of danger. The other cruisers started firing turbolasers his way, and DarkRula was doing all he could to keep out of the way. However, this would soon be for nothing if he couldn't escape, as fighters were launching from the cruisers. Hundreds of ships were pouring out of the many hangar bays, and immediately locked on to the Scimitar. A bleep warns that he is out of the gravity field of Naboo, and so he flips a switch and blasts into hyperspace. For the second time in an hour, DarkRula leans back in his seat and relaxes. In hyperspace, no-one could get at them. A blast sounds, alarms blare, and suddenly the Scimitar is pulled out of hyperspace. Wondering what is going on, but not sparing any time to check, DarkRula looks on the map of the sector to see where the nearest planet is. Aiming in that direction, he then sends the ship planetward, to land on the surface using autopilot. Heading to the lift however, prove pointless, as it would not open. That could only mean one thing. Walking back to the controls, he sees the ship land itself and power down. Only then does the lift door open. Heading down, DarkRula heads to where the last two of his group were. They were no more, however. And neither was the front half of the floor.
The Ark pulls out of hyperspace to see Neimoidia in its sights. Kronis then turns to the humans who were stood guarded by battle droids. "Well, I guess this is your tour of duty over," the Kel Dorian says to the humans. "Let's go and take them back to the surface. CM-22, you're in charge until I get back." "Roger. Roger." In the shuttle, down to the planet, and onto the landing pad. Then Kronis, with procession of droid and human, leads the way to the building of the Neimoidian Trade Federation headquarters. Just inside it are three Neimoidians. "Ah. General Kronis. So good to see you again," one of them says. "Yes. As it is you. However, these humans thought to gain greater power aboard the ship. I request that no more humans or organics other than myself to be of command upon The Ark." "It will be as you wish. As it so happens, the new B-1 droids are available, so on your return trip, perhaps you could take some aboard." "Yes. So, what have I got next? As an assignment?" "Things have been quiet at the moment," the older of the three Neimoidians says. "Therefore all units of naval pursuit have been given sectors to patrol. You will be stationed at the Duluur sector until we have further need of you." "I understand," Kronis affirms. "Are the new droids ready for me to take now?" "Yes. Yes. This way. You," the first Neimoidian points at the humans, "will come with me." Kronis follows the Neimoidians who split, with one heading to the brig with the droid guarded humans, and Kronis and the other two Neimoidians to the storage room. Two boxes were waiting, each large and carrying ten droids in deactive mode. Kronis uses the Force to pull the boxes along back to the shuttle, where the droids acting guard were waiting inside. Back in The Ark, the cruiser pulls into hyperspace and Kronis activates the new droids and immediately puts them to work. As soon as they pull out of hyperspace, Kronis retreats to his quarters and contacts DarkRula on the holocom unit. Both of them reveal what has happened to them as soon as the greetings are over. Kronis was horrified to hear what had happened on Naboo, and said they shouldn't have been split up. "Hey. No denying it was a complete waste, but even if both of us were together, it wouldn't have made a difference. And besides, you being on Cyrillia prepared me for what that thing was. I just feel sorry for you. Patrol duty? Just hope you can get back into the action quickly." "What about you though, with the repairs to the Scimitar?" "I'm sure I'll find something to occupy me." The two have nothing else to say, and so just stare into each others holograms, each both thinking about far off events and hoping the other well. Time passes and neither moves. After a while DarkRula turns his head and says "The repair crew are here. I'd better go." And without a goodbye, leaves the holocom unit of Kronis empty once more.
DarkRula was right. Patrol duty wasn't much fun. In fact, Kronis had so much spare time that he spent most of it thinking. And when he wasn't thinking, he was sharing news with DarkRula over holoconference, as well as speaking with the Jedi Council. Then came a time when, a week after, Kronis finally revealed what he was thinking. While on to DarkRula again, the topic sprang up suddenly. "I think you have been worthy of Knighthood, if anything of this is to go by," Kronis says. "You have shown cunning, daring, and a use of the Force that most wouldn't be able to call on in the situations you have been present in." "Are you really saying what I think you're saying?" DarkRula asks. "I'm being promoted?" "You will be given a special rank, it has already been confirmed. When you arrive back here, aboard this ship, you will be an official Jedi Protector to me." "Seriously? That's great! But there's still getting away from here." "How long are the repairs going to take now?" "No idea," DarkRula comments drily. "But the fact remains that the new computer systems are still awaiting fitting and rewiring." "Well, keep me updated anyway." "Sir!" a battle droid says, entering by teleport. "We have contact with two vessels that are firing at each other. It looks like the final cruisers of two factions unknown." "Avoid them at all costs. Unless they start firing upon us, do not fire at them." "Roger. Roger." And the droid teleports away. "You're learning them to use the teleports?" "Why do you think I requested the B-1's to have added Force sensitivity? Using the teleports makes them more efficient than any humans without the Force." "Well good luck. I'm off now." "Keep me updated with news." Over the next week, nothing more exciting happens then coming across the remnants of a war. As The Ark reaches the beginning of its loop again, a call comes from the Trade Federation council, requesting that he returns to Neimoidia. Since they were roughly in-line for one hyperspace jump, they would be back quite soon.
"Approaching Gamor," the crewer says out loud. "Good. This delivery job takes too much time for something so simple. And fuel." "Out of the tube!" another crewer says. The angularities of hyperspace fall away, and the shuttle angles to the planet nearest to them. The shuttle then shudders. "Whoa!" "Call for reinforcements!"
"A small hop, he says, to help a delivery ship. To hell with it. Why do we always get the boring assignments?" The cruiser belonged to the local Stormtrooper barracks of this sector of space. And of course, they thought stuff like rescuing small delivery vessels should be for local police forces. However, the call came to the Stormtrooper baracks, and as per usual, the officer in charge had sent a full kitted out cruiser. "Well, if we can sort this out quickly enough, we can get back to the action," another Stormtrooper says. Rumbles and thuds then surround the cruiser. The Stormtroopers then look around the bay they are in. "Looks like there's more action here than we first thought," a Stormtrooper says. "For the pilots maybe. But who's ever going to get near enough to this cruiser to enter it and give us troopers a run for our money." A message then runs through the entire of the cruiser. "Bad damage sustained. We need reinforcements." "Hold out. Hold out." "We can't! We either reach the shuttle or fight, and at the moment we can't do either." "Get the call active then. Send out a distress signal."
"Ah, General Kronis. You came." The Neimoidian council this time had met him in space, and so the two cruisers were locked by airlocks and tunnel. "We needed someone with great expertise." "And what can I do for you?" Kronis asks, wondering what was so urgent for a meeting in space. "There is a matter of urgent attention we wish you to attend to. And you are really the only one to do so. As I understand it, a great warrior clan has been involved in attacking supply ships headed to the Gamor system. A call for reinforcements escaped one of the shuttles, whch was recieved by the local Stormtrooper barracks. But they also ran into trouble." "I think I understand what you want me to do. And I think I understand who you think this might be." "Yes. We want this stopped, and as you have had contact with the Mandalorians before, you will be in a position to assess whether it is them." "I'll head off then." "One thing before you do. The Ark has been improved with voice commands so you can have less crew members aboard the bridge." "I'll certainly consider that. I'll be going now." Kronis walks back to his own cruiser, where he then tests out the new voice commanded controls. "Computer: set course for the Gamor system." Looking to the airlock, Kronis sees the tunnel has already been retracted. He then feels the cruiser power its engines toward the hyperjump point. When it reaches it, the stars turn to streaks of light, and the cruiser blasts into hyperspace.
"Another cruiser just pulled out of hyperspace," a Mandalorian says over the comlink. Tir LeRane looks down and sees on the tracker The Ark's transponder. "You know what to do. Make their day haran while we settle things up here." "Sir." LeRane switches the comlink off and turns to the pilot of the shuttle. "How are we doing?" "The weapon systems on the cruiser are still operational but we will land." "Yeah, well. Today would be nice, you chakaar. The Jetii are closing in. Do you really want to give them a chance?" "Not really. Udesii. I'm doing all I can." "Well do it right, or you'll be going to the dar'yaim next." "Vor'e." The shuttle jinks slightly as the weapons fire upon the side of the cruiser. The shuttle then speeds up, flying around the debris to attach the shuttle's airlock alongside the hole. "See. Nothing to worry about." "I'll just go and inform our guests we've arrived," LeRane says, and walks out of the bridge. The Daleks are already busy though. As soon as the shuttle had attached itself to the hole, more Stormtroopers had arrived on the scene and were trying to fight the Daleks. The Daleks, by comparison, were just mowing the Stormtroopers down. Thankfully, the Mando troopers had decided to stay out of the way. If they had revealed themselves, that would have ruined the surprise.
At Kallidah, DarkRula was inspecting the newly repaired floor of the Scimitar. The job had been done good, even if slow. All the payment had been made, and so the only thing to do was to find out where Kronis was. It took a while, but when he did answer, it sounded like there was something happening. "What's happening?" "Repairs are finished," DarkRula says. "Where are you and what's happening?" "Gamor system, and we're in a battle, so you might want to get here quickly." "Sure thing." DarkRula then switches all power to the bridge then heads to the lift pod. In the bridge, he strokes the controls, glad to be getting back in the action. Pressing a button to activate the engines, he lifts the Scimitar off, opening a link to say one last thanks to the repairmen he had been seeing the past two weeks. Getting a confirmation back, he then powers through the atmosphere, and reaching the endlessness of space, sets course for the Gamor system. When he reaches the end of Kallidah's gravity well, he jumps to hyperspace.
"Sir. The scanners say a cruiser has appeared from between two asteroids and is charging weapons. What do we do?" "Computer," Kronis says, "lock all available weapons onto that cruiser." The computer beeps to confirm this. "I'd much rather have proper shooters, however. Are the droids at their stations?" "Yes, sir. And ready for action." "Good. You are smarter than the average battle droid, aren't you?" "We haven't been extensively tested, but there have been some faults. Only minor, though. Most of us have been passed as being more extraordinary." "What are these faults?" "Low IQ and broken vocabulators seem to be the big ones, usually occurring together." "How low?" "Only basic memory modules and functionality." "Find them and recall them! If it does come to battle, I'd rather have helpers than hinderers." "Roger. Roger." The battle droid walks away, and Kronis activates the comlink to call all droids on duty to be ready for action. He then fine tunes the link to all turbolaser operators, telling them to fire at the enemy cruiser. "Computer: can you keep the guns locked to that cruiser while moving us forward at half speed?" A few seconds pass and a confirmation beep sounds. The engines indicator moves upwards more to show the increase in power. The Ark moves forward towards the cruiser which holds the Stormtroopers, and to the cargo vessel. How they had ended up there, Kronis could only guess. But he had a theory the cruiser firing upon them had backup. The comlink activates. "Sir, we are suffering damage, and fast. They appear to be aiming to disable, rather than destroy. I expect they want the ship for their own. We can only jump to hyperspace to avoid that." "Yes. Affirmed." Kronis cuts the link, then, "Computer: plot the safest way out of here and jump to the next nearest system." The Ark then turns tight left and the sound of the hyperdrive indicator whines. A sudden acceleration surge takes The Ark, when a huge vibration takes the cruiser and it suddenly stops dead. Alarms start blaring. "Status report!" Kronis roars into the comlink. "The hyperdrive is damaged and has shut down the main engines," a tech droid reports. "We are repairing the hyperdrive, but cannot activate the main engines until we have done so." "Carry on, and be quick. But until then, we are defenceless and can only rely on the gunners."
The Scimitar is pulled out of hyperspace, and DarkRula wonders why. It was too early to be at Gamor. Seating himself at the pilot seat, he looks out at the starscape in front of him. Massive warships and a space station that he recognised as a Battle Sphere, used during the Clone Wars by the Separatists, were locked in battle. He guessed that the Battle Sphere was also trying to get to Gamor, as reinforcements for Kronis. Admittedly, he didn't know what condition The Ark was in, or how bad the battle at Gamor had become, but he wasn't going to be contacting anyone to find out. Checking the computer, he decides to jump to Aridus, which was one of the closest planets to Gamor. Upon pulling out of hyperspace, he sees a cruiser of a police patrol. Wondering why that would be here, he corrects his approach for Gamor, when the comlink activates. "State your name and intentions for the route you are travelling." It sounded official and not to be argued with. Usually the police avoided contact with Jedi vehicles, but this wasn't coded as such. He had no other choice but to stop and alert them. "Jedi Protector DarkRula heading to Gamor to take part in the action there." "We've heard that one before." "It's true!" DarkRula shouts. "What sort of a name is DarkRula. Sounds like a spy code." "If I was a spy, I wouldn't be giving a code name, would I?" "How do I know the way spies run these days? Prepare to be boarded." "Yeah, right. I've got to get to Gamor. And I'm not staying here!" Quickly, he programs the computer for a short hop, and flicks the hyperdrive switch. But no starlines greet him, or the angularities of hyperspace. He then starts to move backwards. "We have you in a tractor beam," the official voice calls through. "You will be detained unless you can clear your identity upon arriving aboard." DarkRula, not even bothering to reply, switches channel to The Ark. The only way he would be allowed to continue to Gamor would be if his identity was confirmed by General Kronis. However, he isn't able to get through to him. Instead, he leaves a message. "Kronis. If you hear this, contact the police patrol of the Expansion Region or this ship and clear my identity for me. They don't believe my word on who I am and think I am a spy." He then sits back and waits for the imprisonment. The only thing he does is hide his lightsaber in a secret compartment of the control board.