fan fiction scrollThe Reverend’s Fall: Part III

 Star Wars

Tidis flexed his newly repaired arm and wrapped stiff fingers around the hilt of his lightsabre. The Pasha had implanted a small device beneath the skin at his wrist which would be removed if Tidis kept his side of the agreement; if not, the Pasha would flick a switch and the Jedi’s radial artery would explode.
Tidis rolled up his sleeve and regarded the jagged scars. Remintago’s machines had not produced a neat restoration and Tidis believed their malfunction was a result of the drug lord’s dread fascination with pain. The Jedi frowned at the thought of bearing such disfigurements and forcefully pulled his sleeve back down.
Brea’ Bas was located in the centre of a vast desert wasteland known to the nomadic xan as Palikiti (Abandoned). Tidis stood with Remintago’s masked assistant outside a watering hole some fifteen kilometres from the City centre. She had not said a word to the Jedi since they had left the guild enclosure, yet she had rarely taken her eyes off him. Tidis took a long swig from a water skin and sat against a derelict navigation beacon, used to illuminate waypoints at fifty kilometre intervals across Palikiti.
“At least tell me your name,” Tidis asked.
The masked woman scoffed. “You expect me to reveal my name to a Republican Knight?”
“What can I call you then?”
“You can call me Nareen. But there is really no need for us to communicate.”
“Very well Nareen, I shall only address you when absolutely necessary.”
“Sarcasm, I have come across this aberration before; is it not a human affliction?”
“If we are to wait for your droids I insist that we talk.”
“The Pasha’s reconnaissance droids are very reliable, they will return shortly with the information we require. Yes, impatience, another human affliction I believe.”
Tidis pulled the cowl of his cloak forward so that his eyes were hidden from Nareen. “Why do you wear the mask?”
“For practicality only, it has cooling properties and is resistant to dust and spores.”
“Would you agree that masks create a certain barrier to communication… to trust?”
“Of course, anything that limits ones perception of another’s facial expressions would constitute a barrier. Certain races choose to cover their faces for that very reason.”
“Such as the Sith.”
A red light cell began to pulse on Nareen’s belt and Tidis spotted the two reconnaissance droids on the horizon. They were drifting alongside each other, generating a flume of sand in their wake. As they drew closer and emerged from the hazy vapours of the dunes, Nareen grabbed Tidis’ forearm and pulled him forcefully into cover behind the navigation beacon he had been resting against. She tore the pulsing cell from her belt and trampled it into the sand.
“What are you doing?” Tidis snapped.
“Be quiet! My eyes are no better than yours, but I am used to the desert; those droids have been tampered with.”
“How can you tell?” Tidis whispered.
“The one on the right is hovering at an angle; its parts have been replaced with heavier components.”
“You got all that from this distance?”
“I know these droids.”
“What do you propose we do?”
“We need to destroy them swiftly, but there is a chance the manipulated droid is now a mobile bomb.”
“I agree, have you a ranged weapon?”
“We are due to collect supplies at the next waypoint, my rifle is there.”
“I have a bola, but it would be little use against a limbless droid.”
“What do your intuitions tell you?”
“That we have little to fear. I have already survived one assassination attempt and I am prepared this time. I will confront the droids. If you hear me activate my lightsabre be ready to attack.”
Nareen nodded and Tidis walked back around the beacon to meet the approaching droids. They were less than twenty metres away and Tidis observed the right hand droid’s progress. It was leaning slightly to the left and a number of panels across its fuselage had been twisted or removed entirely. The deafening whirring of engines diminished rapidly as the droids halted beside the Jedi.
“Do you have the information?” Tidis asked.
“We have the information, please access archive.”
Tidis leaned tentatively forward and triggered the nearest droid’s memory port. A holographic projection extended out to encompass the space between them. The image of a xan merchant materialised within the blue ribbons of light.
“You forget that I sold these droids to you Remintago,” the xan said. “Now you send them to spy on me. You are getting old, too old for this business; please except a retirement present.”
Tidis was aware of the threat before the xan finished his sentence and the Knight activated his lightsabre. Nareen darted from cover and drew a curved blade from a scabbard at her hip.
“What’s happening?” she asked.
“It seems your covert droids returned to their birth place. Shall I destroy them?”
“No, they may still contain information. They were supposed to locate ‘Material-M’ dealers.”
“I believe they completed their task.”
“The xan do not deal in narcotics. They trade in vehicles and droids only.”
“Maybe the market dried up like this forsaken desert.”
Nareen circled around the tampered droid and stopped suddenly. She extended her scimitar and used the tip to pry at the fuselage.
“We have to get out of here,” she said hopelessly.
“What’s wrong?”
“They have sent a convoy. This droid is not a bomb, but a homing beacon. They will be here shortly.”
“A convoy of what?”
“Xan mercenaries; the Pasha often hires them to assassinate disloyal employees… they never fail.”
“Would they engage a Republican Knight?”
“Probably not in the City, but out here in this wasteland you are just another body destined for the sand.”
“I think they may have already tried to kill me. Can’t Remintago call them off?”
“It is too late for that; we need a strategy. Do you think your arm will function well enough for combat?”
“I’m confident in the arm and well versed in the systems of combat. How many are there likely to be?”
“At least ten; they commonly arrive in a disguised freight, but on this occasion they will not bother concealing the fact that they grossly outnumber us. I imagine they will attack riding speeders in order to outmanoeuvre us. They will possess ranged weapons; likely rifles and possibly a cache of grenades-”
“You seem to know a lot about them.”
Nareen raised her scimitar and Tidis looked upon a metal disk pierced by the blade. The disk displayed an engraving of a skull being pecked at by an unfamiliar scavenging bird.
“I used to be one of them,” she said.

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