ABY 853
Terminus - The Gailles Wharfs
Warehouse 87(A2)

Terminus Sec-Com was foundering. Over three hours and the loss of an initial forty officers, they'd gained only twenty meters out of a heady thousand, starting from blasted in maintenance side-entries flanking Warehouse 87(A2)'s locked bulk-gates. The west wall, halfway along by five hundred meters, was rapidly melting. The firefight spread to a neighboring long-building and a stray rocket-shot impacted into five rows of volatile crop-sprays. A chemical fireball the colour of acidic viridian and violet pitched into ochre-clouded skies and threw every combatant briefly off their feet. Now, the firefight was resumed. The hired-on guns and knitted pirates were pinched in tight lanes of fire up and down unmarked rows of contraband stored high on steel gurney-aisles. Their planned escape through a sub-basement tunnel was shot as Sec-Com burned and blasted their way along through what temporary barricades the illegal defenders could erect. Though they held the virtual 'high-ground', Sec-Com was going to get the better of them.

So suicide teams of desperate mercenaries trudged down the aisles, strapped with explosive kit and streaming concentrated cones of petrol-fire from strapped flamers. Every few moments came a vicious snap-pop of air sucking in and then hotly expanding, bodies blow into jelly-sacks of half-armoured gore. Sargent Mabuse wiped blood off his tactical visor, arms looped around the armpits of one flailing officer. Mabuse winced at the out-pour of gore flooding from the poor lands knees, truncated and missing shin and feet. The man was trying to put on a brave, stoic face through the shared comm. channel, accepting the pain. But his naturally folded, wrinkled face was paling and blubbery lips were trying to beg the Sargent of something. Mabuse dragged him back from Aisle 3's firefighting and around behind a stack duraplast crate pile. He tongued on his helmet comm. while jabbing an adrenaline syringe into the officer's throat.

"Mabuse to Captain Sheele," He was forced to roar over the carbine howls. A quick scan counted his wounded and dead. "I'm losing bodies here, where's that relief we were promised!?"

"'Relief'," Came a irate, feminine voice. "Is still fifteen minutes out, Sargent. 113th and 114th precincts argued for mobilization time and dragged their feet. You'll get your relief squads momentarily."

A stray shot spanged off over the Sargent's head, ducking as his duraplast 'cover' was beginning to disintegrate. Once more, the last seven men and women belonging to his command were forcibly crawling to fallback points along the aisle, unable to run lest they get cut in half with blaster fire. Somewhere, thermal detonators rang off with concussive, shredding impact. Screams followed in the wake of searing ear-ringing. "Captain, it's a karkin' cauldron in here, we may not have a quarter of an hour!"

"Sargent, you will keep up the pressure and you will hold front positions!" Sheele barked back. "I'm working as fast as I can to stem our bleeding manpower. You let those bastards overrun your squad and this mess will leak onto the wharfs."

Mabuse snarled and cocked his compact E-6K rifle around the crates bend, spraying a cone of blind fire that satisfyingly perforated through a charging pirate-merc. "Yes, ma'am! Boys and girls! Find a spot and hunker down! We've another fifteen minutes before we change out!"

"Chit, Sarge, we don't have ammo for fifteen minutes!" A voice cried back over the comm., followed by a staccato click of indiscriminate fire.

"Well not when you're shooting like you got fistula over your arse!" Someone replied back and clipped him across the helm.

Mabuse sighed, staggered over his hip from his cover. A potshot burst open a Trandoshan's head like a ripe bloodfruit, a second volley gusting through a too-thin barrier of corkboard and weak alloy plating. The pressure eased for a handful of precious moments, allowing fast reloads, ammunition accounting, and the plain steeling of frayed nerves. Some guttural challenge echoed down the aisles, backed up by the sawing chatter of a heavy las-gun chewing potholes into the laminated flooring. A Sec-Com sniper eyed him in her long-scope and dropped him, blowing a hole out through his larynx and collarbone. His comm., buzzed again in time for his head to duck back 'round his crate cover, nostrils roiling from the rife burn of caking ozone. "G'head!" He said.

"Mabuse!? Sargent Nek!" A gruff pitch of rotted baritone hollered in his ear. "Just got word on high. The Snakecharmer's inbound!

"So?" Mabuse grunted, rolling onto his belly out to gun the knees out from under an umpteenth suicide runner. The subsequent detonation and roll of hard light crackled Nek's chatter into static. "Sargent Nek, repeat!"

"I said 'So karkin' duck and cover'!"

"For what, is Bar-Sharzanon droppin' a karkin' bomb!?" Mabuse roared back incredulously, looping a crack-grenade off his belt-catch and tossing it up and over a plate of melted slag that was slowly dripping molten duraplast onto his helmet.

Five hundred meters on, midway through the smoke-hazed length of Warehouse 87(A2), square atop the fiercest portion of merc resistance, the meter thick rockcrete roofing gave way. Mabuse gawked as a brief rain of showering mortar dust, warped ceiling girders, and plastisteel glass huffed down onto the naked brows of three score belligerents. Ochre light streamed through the sheared strings of the ragged ceiling puncture, flutters of cold air sucking out the stinging ozone heat that was turning the warehouse into a swelling oven. Something small and black knifed through the settling debris cloud, its arrival marked by a rolling vibration felt through the boots and bone. Mabuse called his squad to hold fire and tried to make sense of what had just occurred. It was akin to the Shore-Riots Terminus suffered a decade past, remembering when a shock-bomb fell through an apartment block yet failed to detonate. Had the damned Council's man dropped a dud?

"Kark!" Mabuse heard Nek cry over the comm,. "Sargent?"

"Form up!" Nek was roaring across the still-opened channel, addressing his sorry squad. "Form up and keep his flank! Move it, sumbitch!"

Mabuse dialed back the background gain and tried catching the sudden, starkly gung-ho officer. "Nek, what is going on over there!"

"The snake man came through!" Nek sounded over his rifle's follow up chatter. "We got a Jedi!"


Seroth fell with the cloud of choking mortar dust and screaming steel girders. Lithely he rebounded off one falling strut, somersaulted left and kicked off a second girder, then caught and clawed down a set of wrapped packaging. Momentum slowed, the jarring grunt of impact rising through his feet and knees didn't debilitate his agility. His solid burst of kinetic Force energy allowed for a prompt, stark entrance that lulled the warehouse firefight for a handful of seconds. An array of hostile dynamism, generated by what felt like three score of aggressive, desperate minds, stung the background hum of 'noise' that came with his Sensitivity. Aggressive desperation that suddenly turned a hard click of danger his way, carbon-rifle barrels swinging down the refuse scattered aisle.

His blades blazed, hilts clutched in ready-calloused hands. The Jedi ran forward into a screaming fire vector of white-hot bolts, flashing through a modified Jar'Kai Shien counter routine. Harried shots were caught and spat back into the faces of their originators, crippling some with enough foresight to keep blastshields swung over their eyes and nose and killing others outright. Seroth drove through, bypassing barricades of mounted boxing, taking one pirates hand as it clutched a frak-grenade. Refusing to halt, his blades shied away whilst his hands gripped one mercenary by the plates of his slug-jacket. They turned over, the merc catching a shivering wave of concussive air and heat that blew open his spine and skull. The boy went with the fall, propelled under the dead man's weight, sliding on his shoulders. A practiced roll and spring brought him up to his feet, blades humming, running on.

Behind came Sargent Nek's 'RoughNeks', a mixed unit of men and women that mopped up in the boy's wake. Through four hours of vicious gunning, they'd made a scant twenty meter advance along their apportioned gurney-aisle, every step marked by spent gas-magazines and hot blood. Ahead through tinted vizors rapidly adjusting to the now evolved scene, they watched Seroth pick through the opposition. Nek watched one arm pick through the slow defense of a merc hauling about a vibro-sword and stab upwards through his diaphragm, the other blade slagging a multi-barreled heavy assault cannon and poking through its owner's shoulder. Forty meters on. A hundred. Three hundred. Nek gunned infrequent potshots through the aisle gaping at adjacent enemy positions, landing stinging hits over bent shoulders and unguarded necks.

"Slow up, son!" Nek cried ahead. Seroth's attention briefly turned, concentration turning briefly to horror. Atop the aisle-walls were appearing rocket-laden pirates hurling abuses down their way. Propelled missiles shrieked down and slagged the nine meters behind Nek's squad, turning rock and linoleum into a cooling pool of superheated shale and melted plastics. One squad member fell in, his back, thighs, and calves sundered by the heat and blistering where the flesh wasn't crisped to bone. Nek grunted, adjusted his rifle-butt and took up fire. Two rocketeers fell over with burst chest cavities before a rippling wall of telekinetic Force tore into the upper aisle walling. Bodies hurled like dolls and stacked contraband fell in on itself down into the parallel aisle. Seroth was there, running up the scattered package and rubble with unerring step, impossibly quick for a human. Nek couldn't see him as the Jedi came down behind a huddled back of blinking grenadiers, who reached too dully for their shivs and vibro-blades.

He worked his blades, caught three through the elbow and discharged their sword-hands onto the floor. One managed a curt parry but failed to follow up, holding to his skewered belly and toppling to the side. The others simply turned tail and attempted to sprint down the aisle - into the waiting vengeance of bloodied, patient Sec-Com officers. Seroth snorted ozone from his nostrils and idly deflected an erratic potshot from burning into his spine. It was akin to Cato Neimoidia, though the droids aboard the Lucrehulk didn't scream when cut or mutter plaintiffs of mercy. Yet it still lacked... a certain righteousness. The boy wondered, turning on his heel and taking up the charge again up the barricaded aisleway, if such a thing as 'honorable work' yet existed.