[Couple of updates. My last entry has been edited to reflect a change in Nellith's character and the tone of her scene with Kenobi.
To answer your question JHodges, I'll definitely reference Tarkin in Episode III as one of the rising stars of sorts in the Republic military. Whether or not he'll appear will depend on if it services the story without feeling too contrived.
For now however, enjoy the next portion of A Galaxy's Fury.]
In a dimly lit Coruscant sewer, the company one by one drops into a large and very wet drain. Skywalker states that best he could tell given the type of surveillance, no one saw them. “Forget the despotism its their lack of sanitation care which is really damning about these people.” Carima adds with Anakin telling her to keep her voice down. He orders them to get some distance from the entrance ASAP, emphasizing quick, but careful.
As they stealthily move through the sewers, Nivir in a whisper asks Nik what they'll do if the Mandalorians have already gotten to those underground. Anakin tries to downplay that possibility, saying any group that's survived this long has to be resourceful. She sighs and tells him that if they make it out of this, the two of them are taking a well earned vacation. As it'd be nice to have galactic trip not hampered by the prospect of certain death for once.
Anakin gives her a look and says he's assuming that her finding a safe place to hide while him and the company execute the mission is out of the question. Carima replies that she'd never leave him at such a crucial point. She gives him a restrained smile, “Besides, if you're gone, who else is gonna tell your bosses to reimburse me for a lost ship?” He gives her an affectionate nod and says they'll just have to find the resistance hide out before anything else provided they don't attract any attention-
He's interuppted when a nearby hatch on their side opens to reveal a surprised clone squadron. Skywalker yells “Positions!” and the company immediately makes a formation and fires on the enemy. Most are taken out instantly, but one manages a shot off hits a Republic soldier, wounding him. Carima hits that shooter with her own blaster, leaving the clone dead, with none left standing. Surveying the situation, Nik asks if anyone else was hit and upon hearing a negative, assists the injured soldier.
Another soldier asks what the enemy was doing down here, but before anyone can respond, an alarmed voice is heard coming from one of the bodies. Carima picks up the comlink device currently and loudly telling the now dead commander to respond and report what they've found. Still helping the wounded man, Skywalker tells everyone this must have been a scout group, though he can't tell if its a regular search party or not. The voice still yelling through the transmitter, Anakin smashes the device.
An officer asks if the Mandalorians have new information, and Nik replies that even if they don't, those on the other side of the comm link will be down here soon enough and they have to get out of here quickly. With various members of the company helping the wounded man move Skywalker orders the group to follow him. The same officer asks how they're supposed to find the resistance in this place. Eyes forward he gives them an answer. “Leave that to me.”
As quickly as they can with the injured soldier, the group moves through the sewers; the young Jedi leading the way, with him looking back towards Carima to confirm with her that they're heading towards the redundant generator according to the old maps. She confusedly tells him yes and ask why go there? Anakin replies that he's got a hunch. “Sensing something in the force?” She asks. For the first time on Coruscant, Skywalker's confidence is slightly betrayed and he responds. “I hope so.”
While moving, they begin to hear the echos of enemy troops in the far distance behind them. The injured soldier tells Nik that he's impeding the whole company with his wound, that for the sake of the others, they have leave him behind and he might be able to slow any following Mandalorians down. Before he can finish Anakin cuts him off. “Lieutenant I order you to shut up and keep moving; we're all gonna get there.”
Soon enough the company find themselves on the edge of a sudden drop off, with the waterflow falling down into large water filled basin going directly to an old but active hydro-electric generator at its end. Skywalker eyes in the machine carefully and intensely, seemingly looking past it somehow before eventually nodding his head in understanding. He turns back and tells them to get ready to jump in. One of the officers looks at him with wide eyes, pointing out that the turbines will cut them to pieces.
Already readying himself to jump, Nik replies that he knows its safe they'll have to trust him. When the officer replies how he knows this its Carima who responds. “Sir, take it from me, don't underestimate the Force.” Still a bit disbelieving, but hearing the sound of approaching enemy soldiers coming, the officer obeys Anakin's and after assisting the injured man, the entire group jumps into the basin. As the water immediately carrying them towards the generator Skywalker determinedly tells them to hold their breath as the group is sucked in.
On the bridge of her ship Phakerem stares intently at the sensor readings, eyes focused and waiting. She asks if there's been any change in readings and is told there's been nothing since they stopped the signal. One of her captains, after some reticence, slowly gets up from his station and approaches her. In a quiet voice he asks permission to speak freely, which she grants, curious at what has to say. He mentions to her that with the visual damage earlier seen on the engines of Jedi vessels its unlikely they could either get back to their station or escape the nebula without being noticed.
In the most respectful tone he can manage he explains that with the enemy trapped and no way to get out, and he recommends pulling the bulk of their forces to other parts of the front line or bulk up their defenses elsewhere. “Your efforts have succeeded; the Jedi threat has been neutralized.”
After a few tense moments with the general looking displeased at his comments, she rises from her chair and surprisingly enough, gives a knowing smile and begins to speak. Filled with confidence she details how the greatest threat of the Jedi isn't out there, pointing to the viewscreen, its in the territories the Coalition has yet to control. “In the pilot agreeing to every mission despite the risk, in the politician still refusing to negotiate with us, in every Republic citizen not doing everything they can to defect.”
The explanation turning into a speech of sorts, she justifies their continued presence here as the key to not just winning the war but ensuring those conquered will have no spirit for insurrection after the Republic is defeated. “Defeat a man and the peace is temporary; destroy a legend and the peace is eternal.” She finishes saying that they cannot afford to let up when next phase is almost there, with the ultimate weapon against the Jedi nearly ready to be deployed, and that they need only keep them silent and scared; time will do the rest.
On the lead Jedi cruiser 81 and Darelda briskly walk through the halls of the ship. She asks how badly damaged the engines were and he replies that had they likely been hit again, they'd likely be adrift in space at this moment. For now they're safe provided the Mandalorians don't spot them again. She sighs “I don't know who's got it worse, me not knowing the exact odds of that or you knowing down the number.” The security droid replies that dubious distinction quite certainly belongs to him.
They arrive in Nellith's quarters where they find her and Kenobi waiting. The former is considerably troubled and isn't looking at them. Ben tells them both that they've figured out that the signal was not remotely induced, someone inside the ship set it off. HX says he's at a loss as to how such a person could even get onto a ship of Jedi, let alone pull this off without being spotted. Ben replies that's what they're trying to figure out.
Darelda ask if its possible there's a Dark Jedi who could have done this and Nellith and Obi-Wan immediately answer no, before the former clarifies that “I haven't felt... that kind of willful use of the dark side in a very long time.” Kenobi does however mention that there's something earlier that felt wrong, something not natural to this place. These words get a reaction out of Korusya who says she perceived something like that herself but couldn't quite grasp what exactly it was.
Obi-Wan openly wonders if there are any droids on the ship who could have been reprogrammed. HX-81 answers that besides himself there are only two other droids on the ship, a protocol model and an R2 unit, both working in maintenance. He does the robotic equivalent of a grimace as he recalls, “And having spent just a few minutes with them, I don't believe the Mandalorians would trust them in waste extraction let alone sabotage.”
81 inquires about their strategy given they don't know what they're dealing with with Organa saying that if there's a traitor on board was willing to blow themselves up via revealing their location to the Coalition, then something tells her they'll have no qualms about trying again. Darelda agrees and says that they have to find the saboteur quickly before they strike once more and without tipping the individual off. Ben states ideally they can capture them for information and not have to destroy them.
Nellith's burdened eyes tell the story as she ever so briefly feels the lightsaber hanging at her neck. For the first time since arriving on the cruiser, Obi-Wan looks just a bit afraid.
On Couruscant, sitting in a luxurious chair in his home, Crayde is indulging himself with a drink from a fine glass when he's signaled by his communicator. Annoyed, he tells the receiver that he already got their most recent scouting report and he doesn't need redundant information. The voice tells him that their scouts were attacked in the sewers, and he rolls his eyes, saying they can fill him on details of a resistance attack later. Upon being told there's signs a lightsaber was involved he's briefly struck dumb before putting his drink down and eyes suddenly serious, says he's on his way.
Back in the sewers the heads of Anakin, Carima and the troops emerge from a filthy and quick current. The group makes their way to a small hanging platform and climb out, immediately trying to wring the wetness out of their clothes. One of the officers asks if the Mandalorians are coming and after a moment's silence to listen Skywalker says they've lost them for now.
Another officer looks at Nik and asks if the Force told him the generator was safe. He almost smirks and tells him “Just to trust my instincts, thankfully that's been enough.” Before he can continue, out of the current a few feet ahead a large contingent of bedraggled soldiers surface, makeshift blasters pointed at Anakin and company. Surprised and outgunned and Skywalker can only look at Nivir resignedly and in deadpan continues “So far.”
Cut to the dirty soldiers escorting their weaponless prisoners, with Carima and Nik at the front, through various tunnels. She starts to speak before he softly shakes his head no, not wanting to provoke their new keepers. Eventually they are led into a large underground shelter filled to the brim with various jury rigged portable generators, small explosives, containers of various sizes/shapes, rolled up beds, and small bits of furniture acting as tables.
Walking towards them is a scarred, middle aged man with thinning hair and a cybernetic eyepiece, a large blaster rifle on his shoulder . He eyes his prisoners warily, giving particular attention to the stonefaced expression on Anakin's face. After a moment they hear his hoarse voice come out. “Well you're not the ugliest clones we've seen down here.” Skywalker and Nivir share a look before she responds. “We do try and make the effort.”
When asked what they're doing down there Anakin doesn't answer and inquires if he's Trukiz. This question gets a hand around the Jedi's throat as the scarred man gets particularly angry and demands how he knows that name. Not showing any fear Nik asks again if he's Trukiz, but Carima gets alarmed and says they're from the Republic and were sent to find them. This gets her a brief angry look from Skywalker, but this reveal does get the scarred man's attention.
He asks Anakin who he is, but when he again refuses to respond, Nivir says he's a Jedi and that he's here to help them. One of the grimy soldiers pipes in and says they did confiscate what looks like a lightsaber from him. While still skeptical, he does release Skywaker's throat, and takes a step back. Briefly taking in this information, he tells them that Trukis died weeks ago and that he's Fordala, his second in command.
At Carima's silent urging the Jedi reveals he's Command Anakin Skywalker and that he and his platoon were told to get into contact with the resistance here. Fordala still isn't entirely believing, but does signal his soldiers to put their blasters down. Anakin mentions they're here to relay orders from Fleet Admiral Organa and President Palpatine.
There's a dead silence by the resistance soldiers in the room with Fordala specifically in disbelief about what he just heard.“Relay orders?” Nik nods and describes the timeframe of the upcoming offense against the Mandalorians on Coruscant and how the plan is dependent on the resistance sabotaging the enemy's defenses. Fordula's anger returns and he can't even stand to look at Anakin.
“They abandon the planet, leave us down here for who knows how long, tell us to to provide intel while the Coalition are shooting every stranger they find, and now you're telling me they want us to undermine the most heavily guarded places on the surface before they can even bother rescuing us? Well you know at least they sent one Jedi, otherwise I would have thought the high commanders were completely indifferent fools.”
Anakin does his best to excuse the situation, reiterating that forces are going to free them, but their best chances to do that are if they're not cut down by Coalition planetary weapons; simply put the Republic needs them now more than ever. Fordula gets back in close, hand gripping his rifle while he asks just how many times the Republic is going put a price on their liberation? Try as he might, Skywalker has no immediate answer.
At this Carima intercedes, saying that have a wounded man who needs a doctor or some kind of medical help. While still noticeably angry, Fordala reluctantly orders one of his soldiers to assist the injured officer, who helps carry the man over to their medical supplies. Anakin tells him that even if they're not willing to help sabotage the defenses, he and his officers can't leave until they have a plan to scout where the Coruscant defense network is centralized.
Slowly easing back into role of professional soldier, Fordala says it be suicide to try and go back out where they came in and given the time table for the Republic assault, he can't afford to try any of the longer complicated routes. He says their best chance would be a tunnel leading a destroyed building, one of the few caved in structures within the capital city the Coalition haven't cleared away yet. Nivir asks if the area's heavily patrolled and is told yes, but will be less protected in a few hours.
Obviously hating having to utter this, Skywalker inquires if they can get some rest here. Fordala doesn't immediately answer, but then asks in response if any of his people are mechanics. Carima enthusiastically answers yes, eyes wide and excited. The resistance leader stares at her confused, while Anakin can only lightly smile to himself. Fordula shrugs and tells the two if she can fix up some of their generators, then they can probably spare a few beds and supplies.
Nik gives Nivir the okay, and concealing her clear merriment she goes off to look at the units. One of the Jedi's officers walks up to him and says the resistance's help is their only chance of knocking out the defense network. Skywalker grimly shakes his head. “No, if we have to, we'll find another.”