The trip to the Viper base was a quiet one. We kept to the shadows and moved as stealthily as the environment allowed. Us coming back unescorted and unannounced was not something that Bekka would be expecting, but that still did not mean that it would be easy. There were a large number of them and only four of us, but I like it when the odds are against me, it just makes it that much sweeter when I win.
We reached the lift to the Under-City without incident and I breathed a sigh of relief as the door slid shut. So far, so good. I was not worried about being noticed in the midst of the crowded streets, but I would be nervous, the closer we got to the guarded door of the base. Dak winked at me as the lift came to a halt and the door slowly slid back into place. He had a way of making everything more playful and light, like a game. I was glad that we had him along.
I was still taken aback by the grime and gloom of the Under-City. I could spend years down here and I doubt that I would ever get use to the sights and smells of place, but at least this time, I had my helmet to filter it out. I couldn’t help but think about how much fun it would be to kidnap some of the Upper-City nobility and toss them down here for a week or two, see how they like it.
Aiden led us through the streets, in the general direction of the buildings that had led to the secret base. The closer we got to them, the more I wondered if this plan was going to work. So many things could go wrong, but we had promised Manias that we would get his girl back and we were going to do it, one way or another. It made me sick to my stomach to think of how much time we were losing in tracking down Sinka and the artifact, but this rescue mission was equally important.
Aiden led the way into the dilapidated building and down a long, trash strewn corridor. All was quiet; the shuffle of our boots across the floor made sounds within the stillness, much too loud for my peace of mind. I kept expecting to turn a corner and find guards, but so far, the hallways were empty.
“Anyone besides me have a feeling of Deja Vu?”
“Yeah, but at least we have weapons this round.”
I shook my head. Leave it to Dak to find the bright side. “You prepared to use them?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dak whispered. “Ready to kick some Viper backside!”
He turned toward Aiden. “What about you, Aiden?”
“What about me?”
“I mean aren’t you all about preserving life and negotiation? You don’t want to fight, do you?”
Aiden stopped walking and faced Dak. “If they are so insistent on dying, I will be more than willing to oblige.”
I stifled a laugh. That’s my Jedi, practical and to the point. We eased around the final bend and stopped. There were only four guards at the base entrance. Great, one for each of us. Just as I had decided that I was liking the odds, the door slid open and three more appeared.
“Haar’chak! A patrol is heading our way. Guess we don’t have time to make a decision.” I glanced back at the others. “Wait until the patrol rounds the bend and we will ambush them. The gate guards will rush to help, but at least we will have surprised the first group.”
Dak nodded. “Let’s do this!”
We watched silently as the patrol approached. They were lightly armed; a couple of blaster pistols and some vibroblades. They shouldn’t cause too much trouble. Just as I had that thought, one of the Vipers caught a glimpse of us.
The patrol and the gate guards came running in our direction. “Osik! There goes the element of surprise!”
“Frag out!” Dak stepped from behind the wall and lobbed a grenade in the direction of the patrol. We ducked for cover. Kaboom! Dust and debris clog the corridor, momentarily blocking our view. Shorcuk slumped low and gave a war cry as he moved down toward the patrol. Aiden moved in close behind him, followed by myself and Dak.
The first three lay dead; I could see their bodies scattered across the hallway. The other four were hunkered down, blaster pistols sending bolts of energy zooming past us. Aiden drew his lightsaber and moved with an unimagined speed, flipping through the air and catching one of the guards across the neck. His head slid smoothly from his body. I ran toward the guard in front of me, blaster bolts whizzing past my armor as I ducked and rolled. I squeezed off a shot, hitting his pistol and causing him to drop it. I saw him reach for something and in that split second, I fired again, watching his body fall to the floor.
The door to the base opened and the hallway began to fill with blaster fire. Our little scuffle had been loud and had alerted the others. Well, so much for subtlety!