Balmorra, year 3649 - The Battle of Outpost EX-66
Cᴏʟʟᴀʙ ᴡɪᴛʜ Fᴀʟʟᴇɴʀᴇᴀᴘᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ Bᴇᴀ
Dominik Rothul had never set foot on Balmorra, nor had he even visited the Balmorra system until he was redirected from one assignment to another. Both very different in nature, instead of seeking out intel about possible persons of interest or Empire movements, Dominik was directed to help in the effort on Balmorra as the Republic fought to reclaim large expanses of land that the Sith had managed to overtake.
He was tasked to meet up with another fellow Jedi, Sela Kythor, and her Padawan, Xid Terrik. Dominik had met the younger Padawan once or twice in his time at the Temple. Both interactions had been brief and blunt, as Dominik was not one to converse with others easily.The kid had a talent, Dominik had heard many times from both Sela and other Jedi, so the older Force user was intrigued to find out exactly how that talent was going to be put to use down on the muggy, polluted surface of Balmorra. The briefing Dominik had received was short, sweet, and to the point. The Sith and Empire forces know they’re coming, specifically when and how? That wasn’t clear. This was where Dom felt he could've been most useful, tracking down the mole versus defending a young Padawan and putting his trust into the boy’s knowledge; for the small strike team was headed straight into a hot zone, the battle not more than one klick north of their target: a crippled outpost named EX-66, one that had proved vital in relaying crucial information between two hotspots that had been reclaimed by the Empire.
Dominik could assume the dangers they’d face, even before the in-briefing had begun aboard the assault shuttle as the small strike team departed for their assignment.
Out of the dangers Dominik knew were all too likely; Sith, enemy insurgents, ambushes and infiltrations, the older Jedi set his mind on watching the battle that had been slowly creeping towards their target outpost.
Not only did EX-66 help transfer encrypted messages and relayed important information about the enemy, but the outpost was also a major tipping point in who controlled the fight. EX-66 was one of the strongest points of the Republic defense grid before it had been ambushed and shut down. Should the large battle to the North make its way to the outpost and surround them, air support would be very difficult to come by, which meant extraction by air would be nearly impossible. They could fend off as many Sith as needed, but without extraction or any form of reinforcements, their efforts would dwindle and they could be overtaken by the Empire’s forces.
As the shuttle took off from an outpost far out from any hot zones, one of the troopers briefed the small group of ten on their mission, its critical hit times, and alternate plans of action should something go awry. As the trooper gave his briefing, it would be clear to most in that assault ship that Dominik’s mind was elsewhere. A briefing was nothing new for the Jedi Master, it was something he subconsciously processed as his focus moved to the battle, and preparing for every possible threat the Empire would throw at them.
Sela looked out of the cargobay’s window. She leaned against the metal wall as her right hand folded underneath her chin. Her dark braid followed her back down to about half way, the locks thick in their flow and fixed tightly together. The dull reddish sunlight poured through the glass as it colored her white skin. While her brown eyes seemed fixated on the landscape, her ears absorbed the trooper’s briefing.
After the words stopped, she glanced back to her padawan. With a calm and hint of warmth, Sela broke the background rattling.
“Xid, I can sense your anxiety. What’s the matter?”
Xid lifted his head, the messy curls of his blond hair shifted from his movement. His hand reached up to brush his bangs from his eyes. A small click and buzz came from his lap. There sat a small droid with a banged up chassis, welded in multiple spots with metal patches. It had a hexagonal body mounted at the side with six, segmented legs. It tilted his front upward to glance up at Xid’s hesitation.
He bit his lip then replied, “We’re close to the front lines, aren’t we?”
“Yes. We’ll be alright. You’ll have Navi even when he was supposed to remain at the base.” Disapproval laced her kindness as he flinched.
She seemed to notice, but didn’t address it. Instead she let out a calm, soothing breath. She replaced the disapproving tone with a gentle one.
“You understand your part in the mission, right?”
“Can you please explain it to me? I feel your nervousness might’ve gotten the better of you and clouded your mind some.”
“I avoid all confrontation and bring the defense systems back to functional levels.” Xid watched her, studying her reaction to his words and seemed to seek approval.
“While put in an odd way, that is right.” Her tone continued to retain its relaxed mood.
Sela and Xid’s conversation broke Dominik’s trance as the older man had got caught up in different aspects of the mission. His gaze didn’t move, but his ears listened to the two and as usual, he wondered about their Master and Padawan relationship. Sela was a Jedi Dominik would confidently fight alongside with, she was someone who he knew he could trust. They had known each other for awhile and had worked together many times before.
This mission, however, was a first in working with Xid and his droid, Navi. Dominik was a Jedi who understood not everyone in the order specialized in weilding a saber and dueling, Xid was one of these Jedi. Where the kid couldn’t duel well, he had a hell of a way with machines. Dominik could feel the tension between Master and Padawan, but he would not mention it now. The group needed all of the focus and cooperation they could get if they wanted to return from EX-66 alive.
Protect Xid at all costs while the kid got that outpost back online, that was Dominik’s mission. This outpost had to be operational again if the Republic was to stand any chance at taking control of Balmorra.
There was little for Dominik to worry about in that moment, for the team was capable and willing; but if he had to pick out one aspect that made the man doubt anything about the Jedi he was working with, it was Sela’s confidence, or lack thereof, about her Padawan that the older man could sense in the space between them.
“We’re going black.” One of the troopers announced, as the cab lights shut off and all that remained were small, red operational lights that lined the side door of the small bay. Even the headlights of the ship went black, which would make it obvious to the crew that they were close, and that their mission had truly began.
The three Jedi were handed rebreathers, as the smog and pollution was far too dangerous the lower to the ground you were, and then given a thumbs up by their troop Commander Hoss as they pilot gave the signal that the ship was two minutes out. Dominik finally broke his spell of silence and looked to Xid and Sela, a small smile finding its way to the edge of his mouth. "You ready?"
“I think so.” Xid stated as Navi clicked and buzzed, rattling his chassis in agreement.
Sela nodded and shifted her position, her hand placed on his shoulder.
“One more thing. You must be vigilant of your surroundings and avoid capture. A war zone is unpredictable, especially in a hot zone. We won’t always be around to protect you.”
“I can depend on Navi-”
“Xid…” Sela voice made it clear she didn’t want Xid to depend on the droid to much. Realizing her mistake, she exhaled and resumed with a softer touch.
“Navi is very limited in what it can do. Loyal as it is, you must rely more on your own abilities in combat than your tool.”
The shuttle rattled. It was the first signal they were coming in for a landing. Sela looked at Dominik, unsure of what to say. Her eyes flickered with concern and worry before she shoved them away. Her inexperience with non-combative Padawans was showing despite her efforts.
“Lead the way Dominik.”