Grievous Rising

Have you got a game, book or movie you'd like to make a story out of? Want to expand on a story or plot that stopped? Have an original idea for a story that you want to post somewhere? Here's where to do it. Basically an RPG where one player controls ALL characters in the story.

Grievous Rising

Postby dinoman666 » Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:43 pm

Prologue:

Trandosha, Capital City of Hsskhor

Hossk crouched behind the remains of a duracrete wall, clutching a long-barreled blaster rifle in his claws. Around him were around 20 more Trandoshan militia, all armed to the teeth, figuratively and literally. After all, the body of a Trandoshan was practically a living weapon in and of itself. However, that wasn't what was on Hossk's mind at the time, however. What was was the three Imperial AT-ATs still plodding steadily towards their position. They had already destroyed most of the defenses the Trandoshans, and so far, they were probably not going to stop any time soon. Despite this, Hossk couldn't help but smile...

The trio of massive AT-AT walkers continued their march towards the outermost buildings of Hsskhor, the duracrete wall that surrounded it now nothing more than rubble. Just when they entered firing range of the first few structures in the city, the ravaged ground--once beautiful and grassy plains, but now nothing more than blasted wasteland--caved in beneath them, sending up plumes of dirt as the explosives just above the underground tunnels detonated. The clumsy AT-ATs disappeared from sight, crashing together into a massive heap underground. One of the walkers was hit point-blank by one of the oversized Assosh mines (explosives capable of tearing through even the weaker armor of an AT-AT's neck), causing an even more impressive explosion that engulfed all three machines, visible for miles...

The Trandoshan militiamen let out victorious howls and roars as the walkers exploded. They had been the last of the Imperial landing party that had attempt to quash what they had apparently thought was a "harmless" rebellion. Hossk, waving his rifle in the air, laughed heartily. However, even he, the commander of the Trandoshan Resistance, knew it was only a matter of time before the Empire decided to tighten the grip of their iron fist even more around Trandosha...

Chapter One: It Begins

Undisclosed location underneath the streets of Hsskhor...

Hossk grabbed the canteen from the stone slab that functioned as a table, taking a quick gulp before putting it down. The water was lukewarm and not very fresh, but to Hossk it was the sweetest thing he had tasted all day. The Trandoshan smacked his scaly lips and looked around the so-called "Resistance HQ." In reality, it was nothing more than an area of the city sewers that had ben extensively cleaned, cut off from the rest of the sewer system, and stocked with food, ammo, and other provisions. There were only three manholes on the surface of Hsskhor's streets that led to the area, and they were all filled with booby traps and hastily constructed durasteel doors that required a DNA match and retinal scan to get open. Of course, so far the Empire had no idea the thorn in their side was hiding down here, but Hossk still didn't want the defenses left to rust. If--no, Hossk thought, when the Empire found this place, they would need every advantage they could afford. So far, only guerilla warfare was working against the Imperial juggernaut. Sighing, Hossk leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and his head in his clawed hands. "Raikhssa," he hissed, "how many did we lose up there?" Raikhssa, Hossk's right-hand man (or, to be more accurate, lizard) replied, "Thirteen soldiers were killed, and two dozen more were wounded pretty badly. The rest of the soldiers escaped with only minor wounds." Thirteen. Not exactly a lucky number, Hossk thought. He was running dangerously low on willing soldiers, as most of the Trandoshans seemed content to be enslaved. Raikhssa, seeing the sad look on his commander's face from where he sat across the table, growled lowly, "Maybe... maybe you should go see your family, sir. They need you more than we do right now." Grinning slightly, he added, "Don't worry, I can handle this rabble myself." Hossk couldn't help but smirk. Raikhssa was always looking on the bright side of life. That was the kind of view he needed right now. Standing up, he nodded. "Alright, Lieutenant, you keep everyone down here for now. The Empire will be back soon, and they won't like what they see. I'm afraid they'll be coming for us full force this time." Raikhssa nodded. "No worries, sir, we'll teach those Imperial scumbags a lesson or two." Hossk nodded again, saluted and walked off, heading back to the surface...

Imperial Space, the Star Destroyer Harsh Negotiation...

Trachta. The Dark Jedi's name made fear ripple through the Imperial ranks. Rumors of his savagery, his brutality, and his merciless efficiency at crushing would-be rebellions was well-known and respect amongst subordinates, equals, and even superiors, including the great Darth Revan himself. His very appearance was sinister: slicked-back black hair, a rather longish face, and eyes that no Imperial Officer wanted to look into. The Dark Jedi stood on the bridge of his flagship, a heavily-modified Star Destroyer that was capable of taking on any other ship of equal weight single-handedly. He wasn't watching the stars as he usually did, however. He was watching the footage of an Imperial Probe Droid that had watched the entire attempt at stomping out a rebellion on Trandosha. A rebellion, Trachta realized, was far more organized than the Imperial Council thought it was, as was made apparent by the destruction of three AT-ATs at once. A rebellion of this magnitude shouldn't even be able to take out ONE AT-AT, let alone three. Trachta clenched his fists, then opened a channel to Coruscant. The holographic screen that had shown the battle suddenly changed, revealing a dark, shadowy figure. Trachta immediately bent to one knee, and every soldier on deck fell silent, watching the screen apprehensively. "My Lord Revan," Trachta began in his smooth, formal voice, "I assume you have seen the data collected on the planet of Trandosha, and what this new rebellion has done." Revan, his face hidden by a mask, and shadows hiding even that, nodded. "Go on," he replied quietly. "Lord, I ask of you, may I lead the counter-attack on this pitiful planet and squash this rebellion under the heel of the Empire, where it belongs?" Revan didn't reply for what seemed to be ages. Finally, he spoke. "Trachta, you are not my most powerful Dark Jedi at my disposal. I have many who would be all too eager to carry out this mission. Why should I choose you?" "My Lord, my loyalty to the great Empire is unparalleled by any other except yourself." Revan mulled this over, before replying, "You speak truly, Trachta. Very well. I grant you permission to lead the next assault." "Thank you, my Lord," Trachta replied, keeping his fiendish smile of glee hidden. "You will not be disappointed."

Chapter 2: The Attack on Hsskhor

Hossk's home, Hsskhor...

Hossk's living room was rather modest for such a famous (somewhat) figure in Trandoshan society. Then again, so was everything else on Trandosha, thanks to Imperial restrictions. The room was made of stone, small, and round, and the floor had both a rug and several dips in the floor where bundles of soft grass were. In these makeshift nests were a few Trandoshan hatchlings playing with each other, blissfully ignorant of their tense surroundings as Hossk and his mate, Saitorr. "I don't like it, Hossk," the female Trandoshan hissed. "The Empire just doesn't give up, even after losing a couple of their best walkers. That certainly won't happen again, and you know it." The two Trandoshans sat at a round table of a smooth, onyx-like stone. Their chairs were the same material, but had cushions to provide comfort. Hossk leaned back and sighed. "I'm worried too, love," he replied. "But what can we do? I don't have very many soldiers left and we can't draft more against their will. We'd be no better than the Empire, and it would be more than enough for them to notice how strong our resistance has really gotten." Saitorr was about to reply, when a third Trandoshan walked in from an adjacent room and frowned at them. "If I were you, uncle, I'd just take the fight to them. Teach them a lesson, you know?" "Well then, Lissarkh, I'm glad you're not me," Hossk growled, smirking. "If we tried openly fighting the Empire, we'd be slaughtered." "What about sympathetic planets nearby?" "Like who? Geonosis? They wouldn't help us. The Geonosians are simply too isolationist, and the Empire hasn't done enough to them to warrant any resistance from them. At least, as far as I know." Saitorr sighed, and was about to reply with something about the value of allies, when the world seemed to explode around them.

Coughing and hacking, Hossk pulled himself out of the rubble that used to be the wall of their home. Outside, screams and blasterfire echoed across the cityscape, and the distant shape of a Star Destroyer appeared briefly in the smoke-choked sky. After a moment of frantic searching, Hossk spotted Lissarkh and Saitorr just outside, their clothes coated in dust, cradling the hatchlings in their arms. Upon spotting Hossk, Saitorr gently put down the squealing hatchlings and sprinted to him, pulling him up. "Hossk, are you okay?!" Hossk simply nodded. He ached all over, and he was bleeding from a gash in his forehead, but he didn't let the pain show. "Come on, we have to go!" he shouted over the chaos. "We have to get to the outskirts of the city! If any resistance members are alive, they'll be there!" Saitorr nodded breathlessly, tears streaming from her yellow eyes. Hossk gently tugged her back to Lissarkh, hissing quietly, "Please, take the hatchlings. Lissarkh can defend you both. I'll join you at the usual meeting spot." "Wh-what?! Where in the name of the Scorekeeper could you possibly be going?!" "I... I need to find as many survivors as possible. I'm not letting any more people get killed by the Empire! Not while I'm still breathing! Go!" Saitorr, wide-eyed, could only be gently pulled away as Hossk bounded around the corner of a half-demolished building...

Trachta watched the city burn before him. He felt giddy with power as his Star Destroyer, along with two more, stopped the bombardment. He didn't want every Trandoshan citizen in Hsskhor to die. After all, slave labor was a booming business fro the Empire as of late. It was ironic, actually. The Empire used to use Trandoshans as SLAVERS, not slaves. Trachta chuckled at the thought. It wasn't that important anyhow. "Send out an HK Probot," he ordered. "Abduct any shuttles that try to flee. Oh, and send down ground troops. I want to occupy any part of Hsskhor that hasn't been turned into a pile of rubble!"

Hossk looked up at the skies when he heard the thrum of repulsorlift engines. Dozens of shuttlecraft descended on the city, some with AT-ST walkers visibly dangling from their undersides. Cursing under his breath, he hurried onward. He had already warn several families nearby where to go, and one grateful Trandoshan had given him a blaster pistol, but it wasn't going to be enough to handle full-armed Stormtroopers, not unless he found Raikhssa...

A shuttle descended onto Hsskhor's dirt-choked streets, and opened its loading ramp. A column of Stormtroopers, clad in gleaming white body armor, marched out, led by their platoon leader, GC-1000 (nicknamed "Klick" by his fellow soldiers). Looking around, Klick scoffed. "What a mess," he muttered. "These ugly lizards could use a few lessons in cleanliness, wouldn't you say, boys?" The Stormtroopers chuckled a bit, but kept their eyes open beneath their helmets and their rifles raised. "Right. Get a Probot and some Mark IVs out. Let's find this so-called 'Resistance.'" Klick laughed despite himself. This Resistance would be anything but, at least to him.

Hossk slowed to a stop as he spotted something round the corner. He raised the pistol, but paused. The thing that rounded the corner was certainly not a Stormtrooper. It was a small, floating droid, which looked like a black-and-white oval with a few sensor "eyes" on its front, top, and rear. It also had a pair of stabilizer fins on its underside. The droid turned and stared at Hossk, floating closer. Knowing better than to just stand there, Hossk fired. The blaster bolt was enough to completely ruin the front half of the Mark IV, and it tumbled to the ground in a smoking wreck. Smirking, satisfied with his work, Hossk stepped over the junkpile, only to spot two more of the small droids zip around the corner, followed by a trio of Stormtroopers. "D*mmit..." he muttered, rolling into an alleyway as a few blaster shots exploded against the duracrete buildings around him.

Hossk wound his way through the city's alleys and streets, avoiding Stormtrooper patrols, blasting apart any lone Mark IVs he saw. The little droids were becoming far more omnipresent as he made his towards one of the secret entrances to the Resistance HQ, sometimes even escorted by Probots. He had even spotted one of the gigantic HK Probots in Trandosha's upper atmosphere. This is getting worse by the minute... Hossk thought. Fearing the worst, Hossk was relieved when he saw Raikhssa and half a dozen other Trandoshan Resistance fighters huddled behind several duracrete barriers. Behind them was a small, hastily constructed prefab tent holding crates of ammo and extra weapons, including a missile launcher. Unfortunately, their were several Trandoshan bodies lined up next to the tent, covered with tarps. As Hossk moved to Raikhssa, they clapped each other on the shoulder. "Am I glad to see you," Raikhssa hissed. "The feeling's mutual, trust me. Listen, we have to get going. I've helped as many people as I can, but I think the Empire's trying to occupy the city. We have to leave, now!" "No kidding," replied Raikhssa drily. "We've held off two attacks by Revan's little plastic soldiers, and another one's already on the way." He pointed at an approaching shuttle on the horizon. Hossk frowned. They'd be cut down if they tried to run now. After a moment, he grabbed a blaster rifle from the tent. "Well then, let's take care of these b**tards first and then get the hell out of here." Raikhssa smirked, hefting his rifle. "I knew you'd see it my way."

Chapter 3: Fall of Hsskhor

The war-torn streets of Hsskhor...

The Mark IV droid watched the battle from the air, scanning each and every Trandoshan, before stopping on one who had just finished gunning down the last of the droid's Stormtrooper squad: TARGET ACQUIRED: Name: Hossk Gender: Male Threat Level: UTMOST IMPORTANCE. ELIMINATE ON SIGHT. Moments later, the Trandoshan turned on the droid, which instinctively backed up, before an incoming blaster bolt cut its operational cycle short...

Hossk leaned back against the barricade as the Mark IV exploded in a shower of sparks, breathing hard. Two squads of Stormtroopers had already tried attacking him and his squad, and they always had at least one of the blasted droids with them. Why did they want to take them out so badly, he wondered? Of course, the droids kept sending their location to another Stormtrooper squad, but they wouldn't be wasting so many troops on just... him. The thought suddenly clicked into place. They knew who he was, and it was putting the rest of his men in danger. Obviously, he was a high-quality target. Sighing, he turned to Raikhssa. "Lieutenant, take your men to the rendezvous point at the city outskirts ASAP. I'll stay here and cover your backs." Raikhssa stared curiously at his superior officer. "But, sir the next shuttle..." He pointed at the form of a distant dropship, the tell-tale shape of an AT-ST hanging beneath it. "That was an order, Raikhssa! Don't worry, I can take care of that walker." Raikhssa paused, obviously reluctant to leave Hossk behind, but he finally nodded. "Orders are orders, sir. See you at the rendezvous." Hossk nodded and clapped Raikhssa on the shoulder. "Good lizard. Now get out of here." Raikhssa nodded again and stood, barking orders to his men to get a move on...

Hossk was alone by the time the dropship roared overhead, the AT-ST walker detaching mid-flight and landing in a slight crouch with a mighty thud. As the walker straightened and tracked Hossk as he sprinted towards the ammo tent, opening fire on the Trandoshan with its twin heavy laser cannons. Hossk dove and rolled forward, the laser blast annihilating the duracrete barrier he had been hiding behind and blasting a small crater in the ground. THe AT-ST reoriented itself, aiming as the smoke gradually cleared. However, before it could even get another shot off, a missile streaked out of the debris cloud, slamming into the underside of the AT-ST's head. The walker's entire cockpit exploded in a blazing fireball, and the smoking wreck tottered from side to side on its skinny legs, before collapsing with a terrific crash and screech of metal. Hossk stepped out of the smoke, dropping the spent missile launcher and watching the skies grimly as TIE fighters zipped across the skies and dropships filled in any gaps. Knowing more Stormtroopers would likely arrive soon, Hossk wasted no time in leaving the battle-scarred wasteland of a street that he used to walk down every day...

The edge of the city was mostly unharmed by the fighting that had broken out (Trandoshans, being the natural predators that they were, had fought back just as savagely as their Imperial opponents), making the place strangely serene to Hossk as he arrived and embraced Saitorr and Lissarkh, and shaking hands with Raikhssa. He took a look around. Several dozen families and quite a bit of the resistance movement was there, and Hossk knew he couldn't afford to sit and wait any longer. After a short while, the group of Trandoshans were off and moving towards the open, scorched plains around their city, seeking refuge in the distant forest, before setting up camp and planning on what to do from there...

Yet another Mark IV watched the Trandoshan refugees flee Hsskhor, and Klick watched the feedback through a holographic projector, which he quickly switched to a hologram of Trachta, whose arms were crossed as he assessed the Stormtrooper Commander. "Lord Trachta, we've located Hossk. He's fleeing the city with some more of the locals. Looks like he'd rather run than fight." "Don't underestimate him, Commander," Trachta snarled. "Track him down by any means necessary and eliminate him. He is wilier than he appears, so I am authorizing the Dark Trooper project to be used to kill him." "Sir? Dark Trooper project?" "I am sending it down as we speak, Commander. Don't worry, I believe you will like it..."

Unknown location near the outskirts of Hsskhor...

"Why the hell are we camping out in the open, huh?" Sassk hissed angrily, kicking a stick into the large fire the Trandoshan refugees had made, throwing up sparks. "The Empire'll just hunt us down like dogs!" Hossk rolled his reptilian eyes. He knew Sassk wasn't a very big fan of him, but he was even less of a fan of the Empire, and he never caused much trouble. In fact, he was a great soldier. Sometimes, though, he had to be put in his place. "I know it's strategically poor, Sassk. Don't remind me," Hossk snarled, standing up. "But whatever they send after us we'll see coming for miles, even in the dark, and we'll probably be able to take care of it. On top of that, we have an easy escape route into the forest." "Then why don't we just camp out in the forest?!" Sassk asked hotly. "Because," Hossk said calmly, "we have the hatchlings to take care of, and I'd rather not have them get taken by predators. You know, Varren, skags... Bonecrushers." Sassk grew silent, as did every Trandoshan within earshot. They all knew what Hossk was talking about when he said "Bonecrusher." Sassk looked down at the ground and nodded. "...Right, sorry sir..." Hossk put a clawed hand on the other Trandoshan's shoulder. "Don't worry, Sassk. I know how to take care of my people. Now go sit down and have some Grassrunner meat. Saitorr didn't lead a hunting party all day for you to go hungry." He grinned, and Sassk smirked back. "Right, whatever you say, boss." As Sassk left to get a meal, Hossk sat back down next to Saitorr and leaned lightly against her. "Don't worry about Sassk, love," his mate hissed assuringly. "He's a hothead, but he knows you're in charge." Hossk nodded, but looked unconvinced. "You know, sometimes I hate that I made this resistance movement. Leading an entire secret paramilitary group in the planet's capital isn't easy, you know." Saitorr smiled. "But you manage it so well, honey." Hossk chuckled. "Yes, well, I just act like I know what I'm doing..." The two Trandoshans fell silent as they looked over the camp of refugees and the starry sky that seemed so clear in contrast to the distant, shattered landscape of the fields and cityscape. Hossk smiled, almost falling asleep next to his mate, when he saw one of the stars move. Eyes widening slowly, he growled, "Saitorr, what's that?" Saitorr looked up at the sky, confused for a moment, before seeing it as well. "Oh no..." The pair sprang to their feet, shouting out orders to the other Trandoshans...

From the skies above, Klick watched the Trandoshans in the camp far below scatter and begin arming themselves through his exosuit's magnified thermal imager. He chuckled to himself. Like it would make any difference. Shunting extra power into his jetpack, Klick, in the Dark Trooper Phase III exosuit, rocketed down towards the camp, unleashing a hail of missiles from his large shoulder plates...

Hossk looked up and spotted what looked like a massive, bulky, black-armored Stormtrooper flying down from the night sky, missiles flying from its shoulders. He raised his blaster rifle and fired, but the blaster bolts did nothing to slow the juggernaut, and he was forced to run with several other Trandoshans as the missiles slammed into the ground, throwing up massive amounts of dirt and debris. As the monstrous trooper swooped past, it turned around and hovered in place, raising a large rifle and pointing it at Hossk. A voice grated from some sort of external speaker grille in the thing's helmet: "Hello Hossk. Allow me to introduce you to the Dark Trooper Phase III, courtesy of my good Sith Lord Trachta. I might as well tell you a little about the last thing you will ever see, shouldn't I?" Snarling, Hossk fired again, but the Dark Trooper's armor wasn't even scorched. The machine chuckled. "This exosuit's cortosis armor protects me from all but the most powerful infantry weapons. I'll give you an A for effort, though." The Dark Trooper fired, spiralling beams of sparkling blue plasma slamming all around Hossk as he rolled skillfully out of the way. Plasma cannons were incredibly powerful, especially at close range, but they were woefully inaccurate, allowing Hossk to retreat to a safe distance. The Dark Trooper ceased fire and began to move forward, before a good dozen Trandoshans opened fire on it from all directions. Finally reacting to overwhelming firepower, the machine jerked spasmodically for a moment, before managing to take off and retreating back into the night sky, only to swerve around and come back towards them. Hossk shouted at the rest of the Trandoshans who weren't already running (thanks to Saitorr), "Go! Into the forest! Meet at the base of the cliff!" He waited for the last of the Trandoshans to sprint away, before following suit, explosions at his heels rocking the ground below him...

Klick growled angrily as the Trandoshans retreated into the treeline. The Dark Trooper exosuit was simply too large to follow, but he would find another way, and when he did, they would have nowhere to hide...

Chapter 4: Hope on the Horizon

The forest on the outskirts of Empire-occupied Hsskhor...

Fortunately for the Trandoshan refugees, they had soon found a clearing in the forest to spend the night. A couple of Varren, dog-sized, reptilian quadrupedal predators and scavengers with a pair of long fangs in the lower jaw, had tried to sneak into the camp, and had been swiftly killed by the night watch. Hossk, when he found out the next morning, didn't like it, but he knew that killing them was the only to stop them from harming the refugees. Besides, Varren meat was a delicacy if cooked right, which was what Lissarkh was doing, with the help of another Trandoshan, a male named Hssisk. Hossk was leaning against the trunk of a tree, watching the camp, when Sassk walked up to him, obviously angry yet again. Here we go... Hossk thought as the other Trandoshan approached.

"Well Hossk," he began, "it looks like your plan to stay out of the forest failed miserably, didn't it? What are we going to do now, eh? Do you even have a plan?!" Hossk glared back at Sassk, his patience with the uppity Trando getting ever thinner. "Sassk, I appreciate the concern, but now is not the time. No, I don't have a plan, but I'm working on it. Our major problem right now is surviving. You know how dangerous it is in these forests. We have no idea what we'll run into. Instead of arguing, you could be out there helping with the patrols." Sassk snorted. "It's not like we'd run into anything we can't handle. Varren and Skags are only so dangerous, and the larger predators wouldn't come into an open clearing to hunt for food. I say we get back to Hsskhor and take it back by force, while the Empire is still wasting time looking for us out here!" "Were you hatched yesterday?!" Hossk hissed back furiously. The sudden outburst made even Sassk step back a little, and several refugees looked at the confrontation uneasily. Saitorr, who was used to Hossk's occasional outburst, simply looked out at the horizon longingly. Almost immediately her eyes widened and she stepped towards Hossk, who was accosting Sassk on his over-aggressive attitude and suicidal idea. "Hossk, dear, you may want to take a look at this!" Hossk looked up at Saitorr, then paused as he also stared at the horizon. Sassk, relieved that Hossk was momentarily distracted, also looked up. There was a ship in the distance.

Using his macrobinoculars, Hossk watched the medium-sized Trandoshan frigate as it was harried by a small squadron of TIE Fighters. The frigate fired back with its point-defense lasers, but the TIEs were simply too agile. Something in the back of the ship exploded as it was hit repeatedly by the TIEs, and it careened towards the forest below. A small explosion followed, and the TIE Fighters swooped back from the direction they had come from. Hossk lowered his binoculars as he watched smoke extend into the air in a long plume. "Well, Sassk," he said after a moment, "it looks like you'll finally get your wish..."

After everyone had eaten, and once they had confirmed that the Empire hadn't gone back to the crash site to look for survivors, Hossk explained his plan to the refugees: head to the crash site, which was only a few days' walk, and find any survivors or, at the very least, salvageable technology. If the Trandoshans could gather enough fighters (which would include nearly any willing adult Trandoshan), they could definitely take Hsskhor back, and maybe even liberate the rest of the planet afterwards. Everyone agreed it was better then sitting around doing nothing, and even Sassk had no complaints this time. Soon enough, the refugees had packed up their camp and begun their hike...

Chapter Five: Roggwart Rescue

The forest on the outskirts of Empire-occupied Hsskhor...

After a few hours of hiking, Hossk stopped the refugees to rest up. He wasn't concerned about hurrying; it seemed the Empire didn't care about the crash they had caused, and they certainly weren't making any moves to investigate soon. Hossk personally led a scouting party to find some food. Grassrunners, though primarily plains animals, were surprisingly common in the forest as well. The bipedal, Compy-esque scavengers were very quick, however, and it would take a measure of stealth to catch one. The hunting party wasn't too large, but it was large enough to handle larger threats like Varren: about half a dozen Trandos total, Hssisk among them. After about half an hour and some modest catches, Hossk stopped the hunters, who froze, expecting the worst. There was silence, then distant blasterfire and an angry roar. Hossk silently ordered the hunters to follow him as he slunk into the undergrowth...

The group soon arrived at another clearing, peering into the open at the scene unfolding before them. A trio of Imperial Scout Troopers were hiding behind the wreckage of a number of speeder bikes. Their were several more dead troopers littering the clearing around a towering reptile. It was the size of a rancor, with thick, brown, scaly skin, three grasper-like protrusions on its tail, and a pair of massive horns jutting from its head. Its yellow eyes burned with fury as it roared again, ignoring the occasional potshot the Scout Troopers took at it. Their blasters were completely ineffective against the beast's scaly hide, and Hossk knew immediately what it was: a roggwart. Not the most dangerous of Trandosha's native wildlife, but certainly a major threat, especially because it was far more intelligent then its brutish appearance otherwise indicated. Hossk would have been content to watch the beast slaughter the hapless Imperial soldiers, but he realized they were distracting it so the another pair of troopers who were sneaking up behind it could throw the thermal detonators they were holding at it. Knowing that the grenades would prove more than effective against even a thick-scaled roggwart, Hossk immediately ordered the hunters into position with quiet hand signals...

The roggwart bellowed in fury, but didn't charge the makeshift barricade, knowing the much faster humans would simply run around it. It was completely unaware of the threat behind it before another blaster shot rang out. The roggwart spun, glaring down at the two Scout Troopers, one already dead. The other one screamed and turned to run, but was shot in the head from the roggwart's right. Confused, the beast looked around, but saw nothing. The Scout Troopers also seemed confused, and stood up, waving their pistols wildly. One was brought down by the blaster round from the surrounding trees, before a mighty roar rang out and the Trandoshan hunting party charged into the clearing from the left and right.

Another Scout Trooper fell, but the other leaped over the barricade, and retreated towards the clearing edge, dodging blasterfire. Before he made it ten paces, however, the roggwart's tail lashed out, its graspers plucking the flailing trooper from the ground, before slamming him brutally into the earth. Dropping the limp form, the roggwart turned to face the Trandoshans, roaring angrily at them. Hssisk raised his weapon to fire, but Hossk forced his weapon down. "No! You'll only piss it off more!" The roggwart glared at the hunters, and Hossk thought he saw the beast's yellow eyes soften ever so slightly, before it turned away and let out a victorious bellow, tromping off back into the jungle. A few moments of silence later, and Hossk barked, "Well? We don't have all day you know! Let's head back to camp with what we've go. It'll last us the rest of the day." As the hunters dispersed back into the forest, Hossk looked over his shoulder at where the roggwart had fled, before heading back into the jungle himself...

Chapter Six: Bonecrusher

Barren field, in the forests around Hsskhor...

The Trandoshan refugees had rested up and eaten after the strange meeting with the roggwart, and they had moved deeper into the forest, this time through more broken terrain, marked by large rock outcroppings that formed natural staircases and craggy valleys of rock and overhanging vines. As they pushed through one of these narrow valleys, the ground began to tremble in time with distant thumps that rapidly grew closer. Hossk immediately ordered the Trandoshans to freeze, and he waited. The thumping footsteps got so close they dislodged chunks of gravel from the valley walls, but Hossk still refused to move, despite the chunks of stone bouncing off his scales. He simply stared up out of the valley, not moving even as the footsteps slowly but surely faded back into the distance. It took a shake on the shoulder from Saitorr to snap him out of his trance and get the group quietly moving along again...

Night had fallen. Even still, the refugees had continued their trek, this time across a large, barren field of rock and dirt. It was an excellent place to travel by night, thanks to the cool air (though not too cool to slow down the metabolism of the cold-blooded Trandoshans) and the Trandoshans' natural night vision, allowing them to avoid the Skag dens that dotted the landscape around them. The edge of the forest was soon in sight, and Hossk breathed a quiet sigh of relief. He had seen skeletons of large animals, and he doubted it was from starvation. A roggwart? He certainly hoped so. However, no sooner had he raised his hopes did they come crashing back down on him. The entire troupe froze as a roar echoed across the field, sending a shiver down every Trandoshan's spine. Hossk, however, was more than spooked. He knew that roar. He had recognized the thumping footsteps too. It was something he had feared more than death itself in his childhood. Something he feared more than the mighty Empire.

A Bonecrusher.

A massive shadow seemed to materialize out of the darkness, and the ground trembled as the beast grew nearer. Hossk immediately snapped into action. "Go go go! Into the trees!" He barked. The Trandoshans quickly burst into a terrified sprint to the forest, and Hossk made sure every last refugee was in front of him before he followed. He saw the dim outline of Hssisk in front of him, and the Trandoshan tripped over a loose rock and fell. Hossk stopped to help his fellow soldier to his feet, but by the time he had shaken Hssisk out of his daze, the shadow had gotten closer. Much closer. Knowing they couldn't make it to the forest in time, Hossk looked around frantically and soon spotted a hollowed-out, petrified tree trunk. "There! Move!" He pushed a frightened Hssisk into the log and followed immediately. A few moments passed, and the pair were too scared to move as the footsteps of the monster got closer and closer, before they suddenly just stopped. Hossk, breathing hard, looked out one end of the log, and almost jumped as a massive clawed foot slammed down right in front of the hole. He looked up, through a knothole in the top of the log, and saw the dark form of the Bonecrusher's head towering a good 15 feet above them. Its yellow eyes glowed in the darkness as it looked down into the log, and Hossk and Hssisk moved out of sight. The Bonecrusher crouched down, and Hossk saw the tip of its scaly snout poke into the log, sniffing curiously. Hossk resisted the urge to draw his gun and fire. It wouldn't do them any good. Suddenly, the Bonecrusher's snout pulled out of the log and the monstrous creature turned and stomped away with a deep-throated growl that could be felt in the Trandoshans' chests. As soon as the footsteps got quieter, Hossk immediately pulled Hssisk out of the log and they both retreated towards the forest, where the rest of the refugees were anxiously waiting. Before he went into the forest, Hossk dared one last look out over the plain. The massive shape of the Bonecrusher perched on a short rocky ridge, and the beast roared to the night sky, loud enough to make the earth tremble beneath Hossk's feet, even as he turned tail and ran into the relative safety of the jungle...

Chapter 7: Skag Valley

Unknown location in the forest of Trandosha...

After the harrowing escape from the Bonecrusher the previous night, the Trandoshan refugees were all too eager to rest up. However, by mid-day they were up and moving again, eager to get to the crash site before the Empire did (if they decided too). It wasn't long before the forest thinned again, and Hossk pushed past a bush to find himself standing on a rocky ledge with a relatively gentle slope into the grand valley below. It was almost like a miniature desert, and he could see pieces of ship debris scattered in several places. On the horizon, the smoke was much larger now, with only the forest blocking the view of what was possibly salvation. Hossk took an eager step forward, then stopped. By that point, several more Trandoshans, including Saitorr, Raikhssa, and Sassk, had joined him. They watched curiously as he simply stared at a rusting metal sign that had been crudely welded into a small boulder on the ledge, partially hidden by a bush. "Hossk? What is it?" Saitorr asked, as Raikhssa clenched his claws around his rifle. Hossk silently moved to the bush and pushed it to the side, revealing the roughly scrawled words on the sign:

WELCOME TO SKAG VALLEY. I'D TURN BACK IF I WERE YOU.

The Trandoshans groaned in dismay, as did the ones who were curious enough to look at the sign themselves. Sassk snarled, "Well, this is just perfect! What do we do now?!" Hssisk, one of the more recent arrivals, arched a brow. "So it's a valley full of Skags. I know they're not the friendliest lifeform on the planet, but it can't be that bad, right? I mean, we've got weapons." "You've never heard of Skag Valley, have you?" Sassk replied. "Well... no. Why, should I know about it?" "Tell me, Hssisk, is it? Do you know about the Skag life cycle?" The young Trandoshan nodded, and Sassk continued. "Then I suppose you know about the Alpha stage?" Hssisk swallowed nervously and nodded again. "So I'm guessing I don't need to tell you that Alpha Skags can, on rare occasions when there's abundant food sources, grow to incredible size, even for an Alpha?" Hssisk twiddled his clawed fingers, not looking at Sassk. "So... so there's one like that in Skag Valley?" Sassk nodded. "That's the rumor." He was interrupted by Raikhssa, who roughly punched him in the shoulder. "Cut it out, Sassk. You're gonna give the kid nightmares. Don't worry, Hssisk. There hasn't been a report of a so-called "Skagzilla" in years." Sassk, rubbing his sore shoulder snorted. "That doesn't mean there isn't one. I doubt anyone's had the guts to explore Skag Valley in any real detail anyway." "You had better be wrong," Hossk growled as he joined the conversation. "For all our sakes." "You mean we're going in there?" Hssisk asked, wide-eyed. Hossk gave him a reassuring smile. "We don't have much of a choice, do we? Don't worry, kiddo. I doubt there's anything worse than a Firebreather or two down there." Sassk rolled his eyes. "Yeah, as if that isn't bad enough..."

As the refugees began their trek through Skag Valley, it was obvious how it had gotten it's name. It seemed that every 30 feet they walked they spotted another Skag den, often guarded by a single Skag Adult or Whelp just outside the den's entrance. The Skags were quadrupedal, like Varren, but significantly larger. An Adult Skag was almost as tall as Hossk was. Whelps were similar, but a bit younger and smaller, closer to the size of Varren. The most unusual thing about Skags, however, was their heads. Their head was vertically flattened, which seemed to be a disadvantage, until you saw the mouth, which opened vertically as well and was lined with pointed, barblike teeth. Skags also had a long tongue that would be used as a whip to trip prey, and thickened armorlike scales on the front of their bodies. In Alpha Skags, these scales were almost completely immune to blasterfire. However, most other Skags were easily taken care of, and the Trandoshans were able to bypass most of these dens with little more than angry warning growls from the Skag guards. They soon reached what Hossk thought was vaguely the center of the valley, and he hissed, "Keep your eyes peeled. I'm betting that the more dangerous Skags live around here instead of the outskirts." He hardly needed to tell the refugees this, though. They had had their guns up and their eyes wide open the entire walk. Naturally, it saved their lives.

Raikhssa glanced up as they passed several tall, rocky outcroppings, and spotted an unusual looking rock at the top of one. He paused, and his eyes widened as the rock moved. The creature was an Alpha Skag: twice the size of a normal Adult, and its red eyes were almost invisible amongst the thick, ridged armor that covered its head and back. The Skag reared up and roared powerfully, several more Adult Skags emerging from the shadows of the rocks and charging forward, joined by a few Elder Skags: similar to Adults, but thinner and slightly taller, with yellowish armor instead of the normal blue. Worse, they had the ability to spit a corrosive substance from their maws. "Sh*t! Ambush! Open fire!" Raikhssa barked, raising his rifle as a Skag pounced toward him, mouth open wide. He fired into its open jaws, the most vulnerable part of the thick-skinned creatures. The Skag didn't even have time to yelp as the blaster bolt tore through its gullet, blowing out the back of its head and killing it instantly. By that point, however, the Skags had gotten way to close for comfort, and Raikhssa was forced to back up as two more Adults charged him...

Saitorr and Hossk were back to back, knocking Skags away with their rifle butts long enough to fire, a tactic that was, so far, working. Hossk glanced at the rest of the refugees, who were fighting back with all the viciousness of a Trandoshan warrior. It made him proud, especially when he saw Lissarkh, marked out by the green glow of her custom-built Lightsaber. She was busy cutting down the Elder Skags, as well as smaller, green-skinned Spitter Skags, all of which were hanging back to spit their acid at the Trandoshans. However, their armored scales were no match for Lissarkh's Lightsaber. Despite this, Hossk knew they couldn't hold off the Skags forever. They were surrounded, and he saw a couple of his friends go down, dragged away and torn to pieces by the voracious predators. He glanced up at the Alpha Skag, which was watching the fight, for the moment anyway. Getting an idea, he stepped away from Saitorr, who glanced at him in confusion, until he winked at her. Understanding his idea, she watched as he raised his rifle and fired on the Alpha Skag. The blasterfire simply sparked against the Alpha's armor, but it certainly got the beast's attention. With an angry bellow, the Alpha Skag leaped from the rock, landing with an earth-shattering thud. It roared at Hossk, and charged, ignoring the blaster bolts that he shot at it's armored head. At the last second, he dove to the side, and the Alpha tried skidding to a stop, before slamming into another boulder. Momentarily stunned, the Alpha was helpless for a few seconds as Hossk peppered its vulnerable backside with blasterfire. However, it wasn't enough, and the Skag quickly recovered, turning around to roar back at Hossk again. Hossk suddenly shouted, "Saitorr! Now!" Saitorr, who had taken cover to add an extension to her rifle's barrel to make it a sniper rifle, stood up, appearing behind a rock next to Hossk and in front of the Alpha's roaring maw. She fired, and the high intensity blaster bolt tore one of the Alpha's jaw-flaps clean off, spraying red blood into the air. The monstrous Skag squealed in pain and collapsed, blood pooling around its corpse. The rest of the Skags stopped their assault almost immediately. A ripple of fear passed through the Skag pack as they witnessed their Alpha's death and quickly scattered with fearful yelps and roars. The Trandoshans cheered as the Skags scurried off, and some clapped Hossk and Saitorr on their shoulders in congratulations. However, Hossk simply waved them off. "Come on, it's almost dark. Let's camp out here, now that the Skags are gone. Raikhssa, get some volunteers to bury the dead." Raikhssa nodded solemnly, and the Trandoshan refugees silently dispersed to their usual duties until it was just Hossk and Saitorr.

Hossk leaned against a rock and stared at the Alpha Skag's corpse as the Trandoshans dragged it away to make their evening dinner. "It didn't have to end like this. We should never have come down here in the first place. We lost friends tonight, and it's all my fault." Saitorr put a reassuring arm around her mate's shoulder. "It's not your fault, Hossk. It's the Empire's. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have had to come here and risked our lives." Hossk sad gaze suddenly hardened. "You're right. The Empire... The Empire's done all this... And they will pay. I swear by the Scorekeeper I will avenge every last one of these deaths with the Empire's blood. When we're ready... We'll take everything back, Saitorr. And when we do, those Imperial b***ards better be ready for us..."

Chapter 8: New Friends

Near the wreckage of a Trandoshan freighter in the forests near Hsskhor....

The next morning, the rest of the trip out of Skag Valley. Obviously, the pack the Trandoshans had beaten back were the "top dogs" near that area of the valley, and they faced very few Skags, other than the occasional Whelp that was too adventurous for its own good, for the rest of the hike back into the forest. Eventually, the forest thinned again, but this time it wasn't natural. The trees had been torn to shreds, their trunks shattered, and massive pieces of starship hull formed new barriers around the refugees as they hurried farther into the wreckage. The only signs of life at first were a few Grassrunners, which scattered at the sight of the predatory Trandoshans. However, as they got closer to the center of the wreckage, an Adult Skag pounced from behind a chunk of rubble, jaws open wide as it lunged at Hossk. Even as he turned to defend himself, a blaster bolt from the sniper rifle took the beast's life. Looking up, Hossk spotted a far more pleasant sight perched on the remnants of a tree stump: another Trandoshan.

The Trandoshan sniper didn't bother introducing herself; she merely told the refugees to follow her, and the other Trandoshans didn't have any problem with that. The sniper led them into a sprawling campsite made of the wreckage of the crashed freighter. Many more Trandoshans had survived the crash than Hossk had hoped, and they milled around the campsite, many of them heavily armed. Hossk noticed that there was a large ammo cache at one side of the camp, near a collection of tents and awnings, many of them made of foliage, not cloth. The milling Trandos paused, and it seemed the whole camp was watching the refugees. Hossk couldn't help but feel self-conscious, and he brushed the dust and dirt from his clothing as best he could, trying to look the part of leader for his fellow Resistance members. One of the Trandoshans, very large and scarred, stepped forward, whispering something in the sniper's earhole. The grim-looking Trando nodded and walked away. The scarred one walked up to Hossk and looked him up and down, a serious look on his face. After a few moments, he smiled, then laughed heartily, clapping Hossk on the shoulder and nearly knocking him over. "I thought we'd never see another group of Trandoshans ever again, mate! The name's Slysska, Captain of the militia of Farskah city." He extended his hand, and Hossk eagerly shook it. "Good to meet you, Captain. I'm Hossk, leader of--" "The Hsskhor Resistance!" Slysska finished, a shocked look on his face. "My apologies, sir, for my friend Slissk. She's been a bit humorless as of late, what with the Empire killing her family and all. But to see you here, and with your own miniature army no less! Please, follow me! I'll get my Lieutenant, Chardossk, to get your band acclimated. While he's doing that, we can have a chat. How's that sound?" Hossk, surprised his reputation had spread so quickly, nodded. "Of course, Captain." "Please, sir, call me Slysska." "Then you start calling me Hossk instead of 'sir,' alright?" Hossk replied with a wry grin. Slysska laughed again, a deep rumble in his chest. "No problem, Hossk!" As the two walked off, Chardossk, a relatively thin, but still muscular, Trandoshan and several dozen more walked up to the refugees, ready to get their new allies settled in...

The Star Destroyer Harsh Negotiation, in orbit around Trandosha...

Trachta stood at the center of the bridge, standing in front of a pedestal that contained a small hologram of Klick, sans helmet. Like all the Empire's Clone Troopers, Klick was physically and genetically identical to his fellow soldiers, but he had opted to dye his black hair brown and grow a short beard to mark himself out from the rank-and-file troopers. "Commander, how goes the construction efforts?" Trachta asked, cold eyes assessing the hologram emotionlessly. "Excellent, my Lord. The prefabricated structure has been set up, and the wall is almost complete. The labs have been fully furnished to operate at peak capacity, as well." Trachta nodded. "Good, good. What about our... invertebrate friends?" "They are doing well sir. The Queen has agreed on our terms, as long as we give them a share of the planet when we're through dismantling the resistance movement groundside." "And you agreed?" Klick smirked. "Naturally, my Lord." Trachta knew what he meant. He didn't trust the Arachnids as far as he could throw them. The Empire had only recently encountered them, and the bugs had shown themselves to be extremely intelligent, but also voraciously expansionist. He refused to risk them establishing even the smallest permanent foothold on Trandosha. For now, though, they would make excellent troops to hunt down Hossk and his pitiful friends...

Crash site of Trandoshan freighter, Trandosha...

Slysska quickly explained to Hossk the situation once the two were in his tent. As it turned out, Slysska's refugees were all professional soldiers, to the point where they could probably outshoot some of Hossk's own Resistance members. That was impressive, even for a Trandoshan. Hossk quickly explained his own plan: gather as many Trandoshans as possible, and take back Hsskhor. From there, they could spread out and take back Trandosha, one city at a time. Slysska listened intently to his story, and when he had finished, the grizzled Trandoshan shook his head. "A good idea, my friend, but a brash one. Even now, we have no idea what to expect from the Imperial defenses, and we have something else to worry about as well." Hossk looked confused. "Something else?" Slysska nodded and activated the small holo-table between them, which he had managed to repair from the crash. It dimly activated, showing an overhead view of the forest they were in, though not in any particular detail. It mostly showed the differences in terrain. Slysska pointed to a flat, wide expanse at the base of a mountain, which Hossk could see from outside the tent: Cradossk Spire, a dormant volcano that hadn't erupted for several centuries, though geological studies had shown it might do so again soon. Fortunately, no Trandoshan populations were close to the volcano, so the warning of impending eruption did little. "A few of my scouts, Slissk among them, found something here: an Imperial outpost. A command structure, by the looks of it. It was nearly complete by the time we found it, in fact. They must have put down a prefabricated base to start off when they began the invasion. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been built so quickly. There are a few other, minor bases scattered through the forest, but they aren't our priority targets. This command base is. We need to destroy that before we can get to Hsskhor with any semblance of surprise on our side. If we don't, the Empire will simply trap us between Hsskhor and whatever troops the base sends after us." Hossk scratched his scaly chin thoughtfully for a moment. "So, why don't we get ready to assault it now?" "Not so quickly, Hossk. We might need some more help first. Now, I doubt you're the only group of refugees in this forest, and I doubt any others are lacking in proper scanners. So, if we can make a homing beacon, we can lead all the scattered Trandoshans here, now that the smoke from the crash is dissipating." "And how do you propose we do that?" Slysska smiled. "Fortunately, my militia had stolen an Imperial Homing Droid before we made our escape, but the homing beacon it carried--which we had reconfigured to send out a signal to Trandoshan-made scanners instead of Imperial ones--was lost during the crash. At first, we thought it had been destroyed, but now we know where it is, thanks to a few active scanner sweeps." He moved the holo-map, scrolling away from the base of Chardossk Spire to a more dense location to the south. "The homing beacon's passive signal was picked up here just a few hours ago. I was about to send some of my troops to pick it up when you arrived. And now that you have, you can help!" Hossk nodded, understanding. "So, you want us to go find this beacon, bring it back, and activate its primary signal to lure any refugees still in the forest here, to bolster our strength?" Slysska nodded eagerly. "Yes, exactly!" Hossk smiled. "Well, why didn't you say that in the first place, eh?" Slysska laughed heartily. "Now that's the spirit, my boy!"

A few minutes later and Hossk had gathered himself a couple Trandoshans to help with the beacon hunt: Hssisk and a second male named Chorssk, who was part of Slysska's militia. As the two chatted away amiably to each other, Hossk spoke to Slysska one last time before departing. "Be careful, friend," Slysska whispered. "There going to be Imperial patrols about in the forest, and they may have picked up the beacon's signal by chance as well. Or worse, they may have detected our active scanner sweep. You'd best hurry up finding that beacon before the Imperial shoves their whole army down our throats." Hossk nodded grimly. "Don't worry Slysska. Speed is my speciality." Turning to Hssisk and Chorssk, he barked, "Alright, you two! Let's get a move on! My wife's cooking me a good supper tonight, and I don't want to miss out, or else she'll skin me alive for a nice pair of boots!" The younger pair of Trandoshans chuckled and followed their leader into the forest...

Chapter 9: Old Enemies

The forests around Trandoshan freighter crash site, unknown location...

Chorssk and Hssisk were amiably chatting away, and though Hossk was still keeping a lookout for danger, he couldn't help but listen to the conversation. "So then I said, 'Wait, how come I don't get any points for that one?' Then he said, 'Technically, you didn't kill it. A rock fell on it.' So I said, 'Hey, it was a d*mn Alpha Firebreather! It doesn't matter how it died!'" Hssisk rolled his eyes at Chorssk's story. "Well, did you crush it with the rock?" Chorssk hesitated. "Well... I was shooting at the Skag, and I hit the cliffside behind it. I THINK that's what triggered the rockfall..." "Whatever you say..." Chorssk glared at Hssisk and was about to retort, when Hossk hissed, ordering them to be quiet. The two younger Trandoshans fell silent as Hossk moved forward, edging around a small cliff wall that was overgrown with vines.

As Hossk peeked around the corner, he saw that they were at the top of a gentle slope, the flat top of which was dotted by several, thin trees. Looking to the left, he saw another cliff wall, this one only a few meters high. In the side of the wall was a couple of dens, though they seemed to small for Skags. Deciding not to take the risk of finding out what they belonged too, he turned to the right, towards the most immediate threat.

A small wall was under construction by the Imperials at the bottom of the slope. It was only partially built, but was being patrolled by a number of guards. Two Scout Troopers, likely with Sniper Rifles, were patrolling the two half-built towers of the structure, unaware of Hossk at the moment. On the ground were several more Stormtroopers, and there were likely more behind the wall. Hossk couldn't see any entrances through the wall, but there were large gaps on the left and right sides where the wall had yet to be constructed, and a large hole in the right side of the wall that had probably been damaged previously. Something had apparently barged through here previously, and Hossk wasn't planning on finding out what. The wall was obviously there to protect larger outposts deeper in the jungle from smaller predators, and possibly the Trandoshans as well. Then let's see just how well this wall works, Hossk thought. "Chorssk," he whispered, "Time to show me how good of a sniper you are."

Chorssk stepped around the corner, raising his sniper rifle to his shoulder and aiming for the closest Scout Trooper. His shot was perfect. It went straight through the skull of the unfortunate soldier, killing him before he was even aware of the danger. Unfortunately, the red tracer of the sniper round alerted the rest of the troopers to the attack, and they all opened fire. Chorssk couldn't get back behind cover in time, and took a sniper round to the shoulder. He toppled back with a howl of pain, his cry stopped short as the Scout Trooper's second shot went through his skull. Hssisk's eyes widened in horror, and he leaped from cover, spraying his blaster rifle at the Stormtroopers below. Hossk managed to pull the frenzied Trandoshan back moments before the sniper got a bead on him. "What the hell do you think you're doing?!" he snarled, but stopped when Hssisk growled back, "I'm going to kill that sonuvab*tch! He killed my friend!" Hossk said nothing. He knew it would be pointless to argue. He risked a peek around the corner instead, while Hssisk anxiously paced back and forth behind him. The Stormtroopers had scattered under Hssisk's barrage, but they were quickly regrouping, and there seemed to be another trooper down there as well, one with a jetpack. He couldn't afford to let that soldier get in close. He probably had something dangerous in close-quarters fighting. He also noticed that now very wary sniper at his perch. Hossk frowned. No way were they getting past the wall now. Unless...

Hossk turned to look at the dens again. A Varren had poked its snout out into the open, obviously disturbed by the fight. Hossk glanced down at his belt, spotting a flare he was carrying. Getting an idea, he fired his rifle several times, not explicitly aiming for the wall, but alerting the Stormtroopers to his presence, along with the Varren, who crawled out of its den and snarled angrily, followed by three more. Hossk, safe from a counterattack by the troopers for the time being, activated the electronic flare, which sprang to life, sputtering small sparks and producing a bright orange light, even in the daytime. Waving it back and forth, Hossk watched as the Varren followed his motion with their heads. Good. Leaping from behind cover, Hossk hurled the flare down towards the wall, and the Varren, with barks and growls of excitement, charged after it. The Stormtroopers seemed unsure what to do even as the Varren pack barreled into their line. A full-blown firefight broke out as the Imperial soldiers desperately tried to kill the furious beasts. Takign advantage of the distraction, Hossk the hurled a thermal detonator as hard as he could. The device sailed into the distracted sniper's nest, exploding moments later. The Scout Trooper was hurled out of the tower with a scream, followed by several chunks of duracrete...

Hossk and Hssisk charged downhill with howls of fury, ignoring the Varren in favor of the Stormtroopers. The Rocket Trooper, who was busy hovering safely over the battle, spun to face the attackers, only to take a blaster round to his jetpack. The device malfunctioned, jerking the shocked trooper back and forth in the air, before exploding violently, hurling the soldier into one of his brethren below, stunning him long enough for one of the Varren to tear through the joints in the man's armor with its razor sharp fangs, swiftly tearing the screaming Stormtrooper to pieces as another Varren joined its packmate. The fight was over before it even began, with the remaining three Varren dragging the Stormtroopers' corpses back to their dens, ignoring the Trandoshans...

Hossk and Hssisk held a small funeral for Chorssk, burying his corpse at the foot of the slope. Hssisk seemed to have recovered by that point, so Hossk decided it was best to keep the young Trandoshan's mind off Chorssk and keep him busy. "Come on," he said, moving towards the treeline behind the wall, "we need to keep moving if we're going to get that beacon before sundown." Hssisk glowered and sat down on one of the many crates stacked behind the wall, some of which were full of ammo and provisions and already open. "Why bother? Our sniper, and my friend, is dead. If there are any more Imperial troops, we won't stand a chance!" Hossk sighed and sat down next to the Trandoshan. "Look, Hssisk, I'm as sad as you that Chorssk is dead, but that's war. We're going to lose people close to us, especially when it involves the Empire. The sooner you come to grips with that, the better." "Yeah, and what if we all die, huh? How would you feel if your whole family was killed by the Empire, and we weren't any closer to taking back our freedom?" Hossk paused. He didn't know what to say to that. The Trandoshan hadn't lost anyone close to him during the occupation of Trandosha, at least not yet, and he dearly hoped it wouldn't happen. He was about to say something, when the foliage rustled gently. The two Trandoshans looked at the treeline, and noticed that the foliage that was rustling was somewhat thinner than the rest, possibly marking a natural game trail. Hossk raised his rifle and crept closer to the foliage, which suddenly went still...

As soon as Hossk was close to the undergrowth, it exploded outward with a mighty roar, and a huge, green-scaled Skag pounced from cover, pinning Hossk to the ground, its white, pupiless eyes seeming to glow, even in the daylight. It opened its wide mouth to literally bite Hossk's head off, when Hssisk opened fire. The blaster bolts pounded the Skag's head and shoulders repeatedly, and it was forced to back away, until the withering barrage pierced the armor and blew through the creature's skull completely. Hossk stood up, breathing heavily and dusting himself off, while Hssisk stood over the dead Skag. "What in the name of the Scorekeeper is that thing?!" Hossk leered at the corpse. "An evolution of the Spitter Skag and Elder Skag. One of those varieties the mercs used to nickname 'bada**es.' Not yet an Alpha, but bigger than your standard Adult. Basically, a giant Spitter. There are also some that can breathe fire and produce electric shocks. You know about the Firebreathers, from what Chorssk had said."
Last edited by dinoman666 on Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:33 am, edited 13 times in total.
"Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic."
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Postby dinoman666 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:27 pm

Chapter One is up.

In case anyone was wondering by this point, this story is about Hossk, who will later be known as the ever-so-evil General Grievous in the SEW, and how he came to be a four-armed, Jedi-killing cyborg. :P

Chapter 9 Cont'd:

Hssisk nodded wordlessly at Hossk's remark about the "bada**" Skag, and followed him into the undergrowth. As they trekked on, it became apparent that they were in Spitter territory when their dens seemed to start popping up everywhere, and furious Spitters, Elders, and some of the large Corroders attacked them every few dozen meters. Fortunately, Hossk and Hssisk stayed on their toes, keeping the vicious predators at bay.

Just when the attackers' numbers seemed to thin, the two Trandoshans pushed through a narrow crevasse lined with brambles into a large nesting site. A pair of Corroders were feasting on the corpse of a Varren, and the walls were lined with Skag dens. Taking no chances, Hossk tossed a Thermal Detonator, which landed on the Varren corpse with a wet plop. The two Skags stared at it curiously, before their entire front halves were blown off by the explosion. Hssisk grinned and pumped his fist, shouting, "Yeah, take that you... oh, sh*t." A far larger Skag, which was identical to an Alpha, but with the green scales of Spitters, charged down the opposite slope into the nest, roaring angrily at the intruders. Before either Trandoshan could fire, greenish gas vented from the Alpha Corroder's armor plates, obscuring the beast from view and forcing the pair back from the noxious gas, coughing and wheezing. Hossk recovered quickly enough to spot the incoming stream of acid emerge from the gas, and managed to knock Hssisk to the ground, protecting them both from the corrosive projectile. The furious Alpha charged out of the gas cloud with a mighty roar, and the two Trandoshans pounded it open maw with blasterfire, staggering the beast. It spun to the side, temporarily disoriented, and the pair didn't let up, pounding the Skag's unarmored backside until it collapsed. Helping the panting Hssisk to his feet, Hossk waved what was left of the gas cloud away and continued, his friend following. "Come on, let's get out of this hellhole of a jungle..." he growled irritably. "I've seen enough acid to last a lifetime."

Chapter 10: The Vorcha

The forests around Hsskhor...

Soon after exiting the nest site, Hossk and Hssisk were forced into another narrow canyon, just in time for more thundering footsteps. Both Trandoshans wisely froze as the footsteps thumped repeatedly nearby, small bits of debris raining down on the pair. As the footsteps faded, Hossk breathed a sigh of relief and Hssisk rubbed his head and growled, "Why does that d*mn thing have to walk by when we're in these f**king valleys?"

As the two Trandoshans continued further, they heard distant gunfire, both blaster rifles and other, different energy weapons. As they neared it, a small troop of frightened Grassrunners scampered past them, away from the battle. Hossk looked at Hssisk, who merely shrugged. "Well, come on then," Hossk said. "Let's find out what's going on. Judging by my scanner, the beacon is very close by." "Then let's make sure whoever's fighting doesn't find it first." "Unless they're fellow Trandoshans." Hssisk shook his head. "The weapons they're using certainly don't sound like any Trandoshan weapon I've heard before." The two Trandoshans pushed forward, coming into a clearing where the battle was taking place.

Directly ahead of the two was a slope that led down to an intense firefight between Imperial soldiers and an unusual, reptilian looking species firing back with their own weapons, which seemed to be built from scrap or were cheap copies of more advanced weapons. Nevertheless, the creature were putting up quite the fight, using the chunk of metal plating, which had likely been sheared off of the freighter as it crashed, as cover. To the right was a small alcove halfway down the slope and a slope upward that overlooked the alcove. A fallen tree crossed the gap over the top of the alcove, giving access to a high ledge closer to the action. The alcove itself had a Varren nest, but the eggs had been crushed and the Varren were dead. Hssisk instinctively moved up the righthand slope and laid down on the fallen log, sniper rifle in hand, as Hossk glared down at the combatants. "Vorcha," he spat. "What are those scavengers doing here?" "Probably just that," Hssisk replied through a headset he had put on to communicate with Hossk (who had a headset of his own). "Scavenging for anything at this part of the crash site." Hossk watched the fight progress. "Well, we can't wait forever. Hssisk, give our Vorcha friends the advantage, will you? We can at least reason with them." "Roger, boss," Hssisk replied, leveling his rifle. Three muffled shots rang out, and three Stormtroopers fell. The Imperial task force began to falter, not knowing where the attack was coming from. The opportunistic Vorcha, however, took every advantage they could and showed no hesitation in shooting the bewildered Imperials in the back. A few more potshots from Hssisk, and the battle was soon over. The Vorcha scurried into the open, raising their weapons aggressively as Hossk and Hssisk slowly descended the slope, weapons holstered...

One of the Vorcha stepped forward, hissing angrily at the Trandoshans. "What you want from us?!" He screeched. Hossk calmly replied. "Nothing. We're here from a certain item, and then we will leave you in peace." The Vorcha leader let out a chittering hiss at Hossk and replied harshly, "We not believe you! Trandoshans lie! Blood Pack steal us, make us their soldiers! You here to take us!" Hossk shook his head. "Look, we just saved your lives when we helped snipe some of those Imperial soldiers." The Vorcha paused, glaring at the two Trandoshans with barely restrained menace, before finally spitting, "No! We leave! Go find salvage somewhere else! You not take us to Blood Pack!" The Vorcha chittered something to his brethren, and they slunk away. Hssisk arched a brow. "Well, that wasn't so bad." Hossk shrugged. "I never knew the Vorcha hated the Blood Pack mercs. Anyway, it's not our concern. That beacon is somewhere near here." Hssisk nodded with a glower. "I'm going to find that d*mn thing if it kills me!"

Chapter 11: The Return of the Bonecrusher

The forests near Hsskhor...

Hossk paced around the crash site nervously. He couldn't find the beacon anywhere nearby. Hssisk was searching the outskirts of the area, on the slightly higher ground around them. Suddenly, he stopped and, with a holler of victory, picked up a large, dome-shaped object from the ground. "Hey, look, I got it!" Suddenly the ground began to tremble. Hossk, in fear, shouted, "Hssisk, get down here now!" But it was too late. The trees behind the young Trandoshan exploded outward, and a Bonecrusher burst into view.

The Bonecrusher stood like a theropod dinosaur, its long tail balancing its body by sticking straight out. Most of its body was covered in overlapping, black armor plates, which were joined like scales to keep the beast flexible. The only area that was unprotected by this armor was its cold, yellow eyes. The Bonecrusher's snout was average in length, longer than that of a Roggwart, but shorter than a crocodilian's. Its clawed hands had two fingers and a grasping thumb, and two spiny fins emerged from slits in its back armor. The beast stood at least 20 feet tall, if not more. The Bonecrusher reared up and roared loudly enough to stagger Hssisk, who was unfortunate enough to be standing right in front of it. At the same time, the fins on its back extended, and the monster lunged, plucking Hssisk from the ground with its fang-lined jaws.

Hssisk screeched in pain and fear as the Bonecrusher grabbed his lower torso, lifting him off the ground. Hossk, who had been paralyzed with shock, suddenly sprang to life. Raising his rifle, he cursed and was forced to roll out of the way as the Bonecrusher's massive foot came crashing down where he was standing as it moved forward. Rolling into a half-crouch, Hossk watched as the creature walked by him, and saw the armored knob of spike-covered bone on the tip of its tail. With a casual swing of its tail, the Bonecrusher smashed a tall chunk of hull from the freighter out of the ground, knocking it flat. This didn't seem to bother the beast at all, which simply carried the howling Trandoshan into the trees. Hossk growled deep in his throat, and charged after the Bonecrusher, clambering up the short rock wall and into the forest. Overhead, a storm began to loom, and with a massive thunderclap, rain started to fall over the forest...

Heedless of the downpour, Hossk continued his pursuit of the Bonecrusher. He had long since lost sight of it, but it wasn't too hard to track such a massive creature, even in a storm. Its mighty roars periodically echoed over the landscape, drowning out even the thunder. He was getting close. However, he had been sprinting so fast, so focused on finding Hssisk and the beacon, he didn't see where he was going. The ground seemed to suddenly drop in front of him, and he fell face-first a few feet, landing on a slightly lower ledge. Shaking his head, he spat dirt out of his mouth and stood up, wiping some of the mud off his soaking wet clothes. He looked around, trying to get his bearings. Ahead of him was a large clearing, again slightly lower than his current position. The rest of the surrounding walls, however, were much higher, except for one section to his left that seemed about as low as the ledge he was on now. There was also a small canyon carved into one wall to his right. In the center of the mostly barren canyon was a large, dead tree. The tree had obviously been partially uprooted, as there was room between and below the roots for someone, like Hossk, to get underneath. Deciding to rest for a moment, he moved towards the tree...

Leaping off the ledge, Hossk landed right next to the beacon, much to his surprise. He checked the device to see if it was functional, then clipped it to his belt. It was relatively small, so it wouldn't get in the way. As he looked back at the tree, the ground began to tremble again, and too late Hossk realized just where he was when a flash of lightning illuminated the clearing for a split second, revealing dozens of bones and even a few intact skeletons of much larger creatures scattered around the area. From the canyon to Hossk's right, the Bonecrusher reentered its nesting area, spotting the lone Trandoshan, even in the overcast gloom. With a furious roar, the beast took a step towards him...

Hossk at first stared at the Bonecrusher, cold fear filling his veins. He never thought he would come face to face with the monster he feared most. The monster that had haunted his dreams since childhood. The monster that had destroyed everything that had ever mattered to him. The monster that had killed his parents. His yellow eyes changed then, from fear, to rage. Baring his teeth in a hiss, Hossk stared the Bonecrusher down, which didn't take its burning yellow gaze off of him. Suddenly, Hossk bolted, but not towards the Bonecrusher. Instead, he made a beeline for the dead tree, as fast as his legs could carry him. With a mighty bellow, the Bonecrusher charged after him, closing the distance with a speed that belied its bulk. Hossk dove forward, sliding on the muddy ground and under the tree. Two seconds later, the Bonecrusher's slim snout pushed roughly between the roots, snapping furiously at Hossk. The Trandoshan snarled and raised his pistol, aiming for the monster's left eye, which glowed in the darkness like a flare. He fired one shot, and the Bonecrusher howled in rage, washing its hot, stinking breath over Hossk, who reeled backwards as the Bonecrusher pulled its armored head out of the tree. Shaking its head and hissing furiously, the monster walked around the tree angrily. Lightning flashed, and Hossk saw that its left eye had been blinded. Its yellow, fearsome glow was now reduced to a blackened hole. It had done little to stop the Bonecrusher however. Like a monstrous cat, it stalked around Hossk, waiting for him to make a move that would expose him to the beast's wrath...

Hossk glared at the Bonecrusher, mind going into overdrive. He couldn't just sit here. The d*mn thing would find a way to get to him eventually. He'd have to kill it. By himself. On foot. With a blaster rifle and pistol. Yeah, right, he thought. Unless... He stared at the Bonecrusher's burnt and useless eye socket, and got an idea. If he could somehow get the head close to the ground, he could get something explosive into its eye socket, like a thermal detonator, and blow the thing's head apart from the inside. That is, if he could even get the Bonecrusher's head close to the ground in the first place. Unclipping a thermal detonator from his belt, Hossk snarled, "Eat this, you son of a b*tch..." He threw the grenade forward as the Bonecrusher stepped into its path, and the grenade exploded right next to the beast's foot. With a shocked howl, the Bonecrusher was thrown off-balance by the power of the explosion, and collapsed onto its side. Charging out of cover, Hossk leaped onto the Bonecrusher's head, grabbing onto its armor plates to stay on as the furious, bellowing carnivore rose up, staggering around in a blind fury and trying to shake off its assailant. Hossk desperately reached for another thermal detonator, but his rain-slicked hands could barely hold onto the Bonecrusher, let alone find a small, round object on his belt. Suddenly, the Bonecrusher swung its head sharply to the side, and Hossk finally lost his grip. He flew off the angry predator's skull and sailed through the air, towards the ledge he had spotted earlier. The last thing he saw was the ground flying towards him, before everything went black, the echo of the Bonecrusher's roar fading away into silence...

Chapter 12: Rude Awakening

Somewhere in the forests near Hsskhor...

Hossk slowly came too, a voice echoing in his head: "Hey, buddy, come on, get up!" The Trandoshan's vision was blurry at first, but it gradually cleared, showing a starry night sky above him, as well as the visor of a helmet. Hossk suddenly snapped fully awake, scrambling frantically backwards from what appeared to be a blue-and-black armored Stormtrooper. Reaching for his weapons, he found that both his rifle and pistol had been dislodged. The Stormtrooper stood up from a kneeling position and crossed his arms, and Hossk realized it wasn't what he thought. In fact, it wasn't even a human. The body structure was all wrong. "Someone doesn't seem excited to see me," the alien said, pulling off his helmet. Even in the darkness, Hossk recognized the bony-plated face, mandibles, slightly sunken eyes, and head-fringe on the alien. "You're... you're a Turian?" he said, confused. The Turian chuckled, and his voice, like all of his kind, had a slight "flanging" effect to it. "Figure that out by yourself? Name's Garrus. Garrus Vakarian." He stretched his three-fingered hand out to Hossk. "I'm here to help."

It hadn't taken very long for Hossk to find his scattered weapons, which had landed nearby. Fortunately they--and the beacon on his belt--hadn't been damaged during his fight with the Bonecrusher. As he followed Garrus through the forest he asked, "Not that I don't appreciate the help, but what's a Turian doing on Trandosha?" "I suppose I owe you an explanation. Well, the thing is, I used to work for Palaven security. You know, what every Turian aspires to be. Unfortunately, I don't think of myself as a very good Turian. When a good Turian is given a bad order, he follows it. He may complain, but he knows his place. I, for one, got pretty tired of all the red tape and the bullsh*t of the Turian Hierarchy. I was pretty rebellious, and my superiors didn't like it. So I decided to try and do some real good on my own, without anything to stop me. I heard about how Trandosha was being harshly oppressed by the Empire, and I thought I'd found the perfect place to set up shop and start my vigilante career." Hossk smirked. "It didn't turn as you planned it, did you?" Garrus nodded, hefting the sniper rifle in his claws. "No one had told me the Empire had been literally parked over the planet. I barely got a chance to realize what was going on before I was shot down. I've been hiking through this forest for days now. Fortunately, I found a good place to rest up every night." "I'm guessing that's where we're going now?" Garrus chuckled again. "Exactly... um, what was your name again?" "Hossk." "Ah, so you're Hossk, eh? No offense, but I was expecting a bit more from you..." Hossk shrugged. "I've... been having a bad day."

Aboard the Star Destroyer Harsh Negotiation...

Trachta stared inscrutably at the heavily armored figure in the hologram before him. Like the Arachnids, he barely trusted the Blood Pack mercenaries, especially considering they were mostly Trandoshan, but they got the job done, at least for the right price. "Alright, Kuresk, you know the plan?" The grim-looking Trandoshan nodded. "We kill this little friend of yours, you don't take over Tuchanka." Trachta nodded casually. He couldn't less about the war-torn continent of Tuchanka, on the other side of Trandosha itself. Kuresk grinned. "And, of course, my payment..." Trachta rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes, you will be well-compensated for your efforts. Just make sure Hossk and his friends are out of the picture." "You know where they are, I assume?" Kuresk asked. Trachta nodded again. "We've triangulated some of their sensor sweeps to the crash site of a freighter one of my patrols shot down a few days ago. I'll be sending Klick and some of my best men to assist you in the ambush." Kuresk smiled, baring his sharp fangs. "Pleasure doing business with you, my friend." With that the hologram clicked off, and Trachta sighed irritably. Moments later, the hologram came back on, revealing Klick. "My lord, we're ready to move." "Good. Get Longshot and some of your other best troops and meet up with Kuresk. Oh, and one more thing: make sure that upstart merc is... KIA, will you?" Klick smiled. "Of course, my lord."

Somewhere in the forests near Hsskhor...

Hossk and Garrus had taken up refuge in the remnants of a prefabricated Imperial base, that was situated partially underground. Apparently, Vorcha scavengers had cleared the building out, only to leave after finding nothing of real value. Fortunately, they had left behind MREs, along with most other military essentials. The pair was sitting across from each other in a small storage room, sitting on folding stools on either side of a lantern, and Hossk had finished his story to the Turian, swallowing a bite from his MRE. "Wow, that beats the sh*t out of my story," Garrus replied with a laugh. "How'd you kill a Bonecrusher?" "I didn't," Hossk replied. "I took the b*****d's eye, though. It had knocked me out when you found me." "I'm impressed, Hossk. You really are everything you're cracked up to be." Hossk chuckled. "Well, we'll see when we get Hsskhor back." Finishing his MRE, he added, "We should probably get back to the crash site. I'm sure the rest of Slysska's men are waiting for me." Garrus nodded, getting to his feet. "Then let's get a move on, shall we?"

Chapter 13: Ambush

The borders of the freighter crash site...

The nighttime walk back to the crash site was mostly uneventful. The few nocturnal predators, mostly Varren, that Hossk and Garrus ran afoul of were easily scared off. Hossk was soon greeted by a tackling hug from his mate, and she hissed angrily, "Where in the name of the Scorekeeper have you been!?" "I caught him napping out back," Garrus added jokingly. "Actually, I had a bit of a run-in with... well, I'll tell you in a bit," Hossk replied. Saitorr nodded and turned to Garrus. "Who are you? I haven't seen very many Turians around here." "Name's Garrus. I woke up your friend here when I found him unconscious near a Bonecrusher nest." "A... Bonecrusher?" "Like I said, Saitorr, I'll tell you in a bit. I need to report to Slysska first."

Slysska was sitting outside his tent, next to a fire, where he was spit-roasting a Grassrunner. Seeing Hossk, Saitorr, and Garrus approach, he stood up. "Hossk, my boy! How goes the mission? I see you've brought a new friend with you." As he eyed the Turian, Hossk raised the beacon, which was blinking, the Trandoshan having activated it a few minutes before arriving at the camp. "I found the objective, and managed to take out an Imperial squad that had been looking for it as well." "What about Chorrsk? And Hssisk?" Slysska asked. Hossk paused, then shook his head. "Chorssk got caught by an Imperial sniper, and we ran into a Bonecrusher later on that got Hssisk. I'm d*mned lucky to be alive myself." "A shame," Slysska replied. "Those two were fine soldiers--" He was cut off as Sassk approached, having overheard the conversation. "You son of a b*tch!" he snarled. "You just let Hssisk die?! What kind of leader are you? He was my friend you--" A couple of nearby Trandos grabbed Sassk as he lunged at Hossk, spitting curses and insults as he was dragged away. Hossk glared at the Trandoshan, but said nothing. Saitorr put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry about him, Hossk," she growled. "You know how he is." "No, he's right," Hossk said, pulling away. "I could've stopped that Bonecrusher. I should've been prepared. Brought a heavy weapon or..." Garrus interjected, saying, "You kidding me? Who would've seen a Bonecrusher come sauntering out of the forest right on top of them? They're rare around here. You should know that better than me. No one would've seen that coming." Slysska nodded. "He's right, you know. Let's not swell on it now. We've got bigger things to worry about." He took the beacon, placing it gingerly on the ground next to him. "Why don't you get some rest? All we have to do now is sit and wait anywa--" a sniper bolt suddenly slammed into Slysska's chest, knocking him flat. Hossk spun to see where the shot had come from, spotting a single Stormtrooper, red marking on his armor, duck behind a tree. Before he could react, several dropships sailed overhead, moving in to drop off troops in the middle of the camp. And not all the ships were Imperial ships either. Some were Mantis X-9 dropships, a model only used by Blood Pack mercenaries...

The camp devolved into chaos as the dropships sailed in, dropping off Imperial Stormtroopers in addition to Vorcha soldiers and the heavily armored Trandoshan mercs that led them. Varren also charged forward, flushing out Trandoshans even as they took cover. Slissk, the Trandoshan sniper from before, and evidently Slysska's second-in-command, immediately took charge, ordering everyone into battle positions. Hossk, happy to let someone else give orders for once, took cover behind a wall of rubble next to Raikhssa and Chardossk, the three popping up to periodically cut down incoming Varren and mercs who were too overzealous and charged right into the line of fire. The Stormtroopers and Vorcha were a bit more cautious, staying behind cover as well. It didn't take very long for Hossk to spot a familiar foe: the Dark Trooper exosuit operator, who was hanging back, ordering his troops forward. "There's their leader," Hossk shouted to Raikhssa. "Cover me while I take him out!" Raikhssa simply nodded, standing up and sprinting to the side, firing as he did so. Hossk ran in the opposite direction, exiting cover in a gap in the rubble and charging into the open. Blasting past a pair of Vorcha, he opened fire on the Dark Trooper, who was focused on Raikhssa, aiming his plasma cannon. The exosuit staggered under the withering barrage, but spun around and fired on Hossk nonetheless. Hossk dove, dodging the blast, but the resulting explosion sent him flying, landing in a heap near the Dark Trooper. Raising his plasma cannon again, the man chuckled. "You know, I thought it would be harder to kill you. Disappointing..."

Moments before he fired, a sniper round pinged off the Dark Trooper's helmet, nearly penetrating the armor. Disoriented from the impact, the Dark Trooper staggered backwards, giving Hossk time to scramble away, behind a dropship that had had the misfortune to take an RPG hit and crash. He spotted Garrus in the distance, who hefted his sniper rifle and gave a short salute, before firing again, knocking the Dark Trooper back further. Angrily, the operator activated the exosuit's jetpack and sailed away, into the night sky. Hossk cursed, angry that he couldn't get his revenge, and was soon interrupted by the arrival of a Blood Pack merc, who raised his rifle butt and, with a mighty roar, swung it at Hossk, who barely managed to dodge it by mere inches. As Hossk rolled to his feet, he saw the rifle's barrel pointed at him, only to see the Blood Pack merc stagger and fall forward as a number of blaster rounds hit him in the back. As the Trando slumped to the ground, Hossk spotted Raikhssa, holding a blaster pistol in one hand. The Trandoshan chuckled and hissed, "Need some help boss?" Before Hossk could respond, a black form seemed to materialize out of nowhere from behind Raikhssa. "Look out!" Hossk shouted. Before Raikhssa could even turn around, a red glowing Lightsaber blade stabbed him through the back, protruding from his chest. Raikhssa stiffened, staring at the blood-red blade in confusion, before he toppled forward, facedown in the dirt. Hossk's rifle dropped from his hands as he watched his friend collapse, then looked back up, into the face of the Sith who had just stabbed him. Trachta stood there, eyes meeting Hossk's gaze evenly. The Trandoshan's stare suddenly twisted into an angry glare of vengeance, yellow eyes burning into Trachta's. The Sith smirked. Turning, Trachta slipped back into the darkness, Hossk only glaring at where he had disappeared. Before he made a move to run after the Sith, something heavy slammed into his back.

Hossk toppled forward as Kuresk smashed into him from behind. With a guttural snarl, Hossk leaped to his feet. Kuresk laughed, snarling, "So, the great leader Hossk has finally met his match! Come and face me, if you--" He was cut off as Hossk's fist collided with his face. Kuresk staggered backwards, falling as Hossk kicked him brutally in the chest, knocking the wind out of him as he hit the ground. Keeping a foot on the fallen merc's chest, Hossk glared fiercely at him, blaster pistol aimed at Kuresk's face. "You son of a b*tch," Hossk snarled. "You're on that b**tard's side, aren't you?! The one who killed my friends and took over my planet! What the hell is wrong with you?!" Kuresk, clutching his bloody chin, spat at Hossk. "You and your shiny little cities deserve it! But what of the Blood Pack? What of Tuchanka? We're nothing to you. The Empire promised to leave Tuchanka alone. They promised to make us rich!" Hossk laughed coldly. "And you really believe that? You really think the Empire is going to just ignore an entire continent they could mine for minerals and use the inhabitants as slave labor? They're full of sh*t, and so are you if you joined them for the pay!" Hossk was on the verge of squeezing the trigger, but was cut off as something massive crawled over the edge of the battlefield.

An Imperial MT-AT, shaped like some sort of monstrous mechanical spider, scuttled over the edge of the rubble, firing down into the Trandoshan forces, even as the remaining Imperials retreated. The Blood Pack wasn't so fortunate. The walker did not discriminate between friend or foe, cutting down Trandoshan and merc alike. "What a surprise, they've betrayed you," Hossk hissed angrily, stepping off the stunned Kuresk and sprinting into cover, taking the time to drag Raikhssa with him. Sitting down behind cover, he held Raikhssa up as the Trandoshan slowly opened his eyes. "That... didn't go... as planned... boss..." Hossk smiled sadly. "It never does, old friend..." Raikhssa tried to laugh, but it quickly turned into a hacking cough. "Just... leave me here... Take that thing down... for me..." Hossk nodded and got up, spotting Slissk and Garrus, who were both hiding behind cover as well. Hossk crawled over to them, hissing, "Do we have anything that can take that thing out?" Slissk nodded. "We had someone with an rocket launcher, but they were taken out somewhere back there." Slissk nodded her head back towards the main campsite. Hossk nodded. "I'll find it. Keep that thing distracted." Hossk slunk away as Blood Pack troops and allied Trandoshans took cover from the behemoth spraying the area with laserfire...

Hossk charged through the rubble, debris, and bodies as he headed deeper into the camp, a laser bolt exploding as it hit a chunk of hull next to him. Apparently, the MT-AT had spotted him. He dove behind a line of tents as more laserfire rained down near his position, soon followed by a missile the walker fired, which incinerated one of the tents. Looking around frantically, Hossk spotted the corpse of a Trandoshan, a missile launcher laying next to him where it had fallen. Swiftly picking up the launcher as another missile exploded, taking out another tent, Hossk dove out from cover, spotting the walker perched on a high wall of rubble in the distance. Its "head," which was actually the cockpit turned to face Hossk's position as it prepared to fire. "Burn in hell," Hossk snarled, pressing the firing stud. A single missile streaked towards the MT-AT, hitting it right in the cockpit and exploding. The projectile completely gutted the head of the walker, and it collapsed in a heap, black smoke billowing from the wreckage. Trandoshans and Vorcha cheered as the walker was gutted completely by an internal, secondary explosion...

Hossk staggered back to where the Trandoshans were tending to their wounded, spotting Raikhssa where he had left him. Crouching, Hossk was about to explain what happened when he noticed that Raikhssa's eyes were glazed over, staring sightlessly at Hossk. Gently shutting his friend's eyes, Hossk stood up looking around at the devastation. Slissk walked up to him, hissing, "Slysska's dead, so are a dozen other troops." "Raikhssa's... well, you know," Hossk replied sullenly, nodding at Raikhssa's body. "So, you think this was a victory?" Slissk shook her head grimly. "No, but we did get the Blood Pack on our side. I don't know what you said to that Kuresk fella, but he certainly hates the Empire as much as we do now." "There was a Sith." "What?" "A Sith," Hossk repeated. "He killed Raikhssa. He stabbed him in the back!" Suddenly rounding on Slissk, Hossk growled angrily, "My friend is dead because of that b**tard! I'm going to find him, his Dark Trooper friend, and that sniper who killed Slysska, and I'm going to tear them all to..." Hossk couldn't go on any more. He simply fell to his knees, and Slissk grabbed by the arm as he slumped forward. The last thing he heard before blacking out was Slissk's voice: "What the hell is wrong?! Medic! We need a medic over here!"

Chapter 14: A New Mystery

He saw nothing but the bright sunshine glinting off the mighty city of Hsskhor. His family crowded around him, his mate holding him lovingly. Suddenly, the sunshine dissipated, clouds obscuring its brightness, and he was suddenly in the debris-strewn, war-torn version of his old home. No longer was his family around him. Only the corpses of his friends and loved ones lay near him, and the rough, armored arms of a Stormtrooper dragged him away. The last thing he heard was an inhuman screech from a nightmarish creature that skittered towards him, and then he was consumed in blackness...

The freighter crash site in the forests around Hsskhor...

Hossk came to in a stretcher, seeing nothing but the ceiling of a tent. He heard muffled voices outside, angry ones, but he couldn't make out what they said. Sitting up slowly, he groggily remembered the previous events before blacking out, and another pang of grief struck him as he realized what had happened to Slysska and Raikhssa. With a groan, he got to his feet and headed outside, spotting the group of Trandoshans nearby, arguing furiously. It was Slissk, Saitorr, Sassk, Chardossk, Kuresk, as well as another Trandoshan Blood Pack merc, apparently Kuresk's second-in-command. As Hossk approached, he heard Saitorr. "Don't be an idiot, Slissk! Who else is better to lead us now other than Hossk?" "Me, for one," Slissk replied. "Hossk is barely in any shape to lead as it is." "I think I can speak for myself, thanks," Hossk added grimly, walking up to the group. They all turned, surprised, and Saitorr jumped into Hossk's arms. "I was so worried, love! Are you alright?" Hossk smiled sadly. "As good as I can be, I suppose." Slissk crossed her arms, not convinced. "Do you really think you're fit to lead this group now?" Hossk was about to reply, but then stopped. In all honesty, he wasn't really sure. If two deaths could do this to him...

Slissk frowned. "That's what I thought. I guess you don't mind if I take charge then, hm?" Turning back to everyone else, she barked, "Alright, we're all going to stay here for the night. The Empire won't send another force after getting their a**es handed to them, but they'll certainly be ready to attack again by morning. Everyone get some rest, and keep an eye on the beacon. Any remaining refugees in the forest should be able to find us." Saitorr glowered. "Now hang on a second! I refuse to believe Hossk can't handle this sit--" "Saitorr, it's alright," Hossk interrupted. "I'm in no shape to lead right now." Sassk glared at him. "I don't think you're fit to lead at all! You've done nothing but get your men killed It seems every time you--" The rant was cut off by a eerie screech that echoed across the forest, a screech Hossk recognized, but he couldn't tell from where. They all looked out over the treeline and spotted a pair of strange lights that suddenly flickered to life, angled to the sky...

"Alright, Hossk, Sassk," Slissk began with a smirk. "I believe you two need to settle some differences. Both of you will go and investigate that light." "What?!" the Blood Pack merc next to Kuresk exclaimed. "Are you insane? Did you not just hear that noise, because I sure did!" "Congratulations, Grassk, you've just agreed to join them," Slissk replied flatly. "Any more volunteers?" Silence. Slissk nodded. "Good. Be back before morning. If you aren't, we'll be leaving without you." Hossk simply nodded, Sassk grunted angrily, and Grassk groaned in annoyance, but nonetheless all three went back out into the forest only a few minutes later, weapons at the ready...

The trio only made it a short distance into the forest, before entering a clearing with a pair of Adult Skags on the other side. The Trandos raised their weapons as the Skags charged, but one suddenly stopped as its foot seemed to sink into the earth. With a yelp, the creature was suddenly wrenched underground as a large hole emerged beneath it. There was only the flash of insectoid mandibles and the Skag's body before it disappeared. The other Skag spun, confused, and died as a hail of blaster rounds and slugs (from Grassk's weapon) pounded its backside. The three moved towards the hole left by the mysterious creature that had taken the other Skag, and Sassk growled, "What the hell was that? There aren't any underground predators on Trandosha!" "Cut the chatter, Sassk," Hossk snarled back, annoyed with the defiant Trandoshan. "Whatever it is, I don't think it'll leave behind a perfectly god meal to go after us." Sassk glared at Hossk, but said nothing. Hossk moved ahead, followed by the other two group members. Grassk couldn't help but hiss under his breath, "I got a bad feeling about this..."

The group moved through another one of the tall, narrow canyons that seemed to plague the forest, but this time, there was no steady thud of a Bonecrusher's footsteps. Instead, there was a skittering noise up above, out of sight, and tiny bits of rubble feel onto the Trandoshans. Sassk looked up and growled at where the sound was coming from, but it didn't seem to let up. Finally, Sassk shouted, "Hey, stop dropping rocks on us, you--sh*t!" The eviscerated corpse of the Skag from before tumbled over the side, nearly falling onto Sassk. Grassk actually jumped back in shock, then growled, "Alright, I think that's good enough for the night! let's turn in, shall we?" Hossk grabbed the merc by the shoulder as he turned to leave, and spun him to face him. "Calm down. If whatever that thing is tries to attack us, we'll just blast it into oblivion, alright?" Grassk nodded nervously, but he didn't seem convinced. Hossk rolled his eyes and growled, "Let's keep going. We're almost there." The lights in the sky now burned brightly like spotlights in the night sky...

The forest soon opened up, and the ground changed from soil to concrete as the Trandoshans were suddenly faced with a moderately sized prefabricated Imperial structure. In front of them was the source of the lights: the spotlights of an AT-ST scout walker. At least, the head of an AT-ST scout walker. The legs had disappeared underground, and the head was angled upward, shining its lights into the sky. Scattered concrete rubble surrounded the hole the walker was stuck in. Grassk's eyes widened. "How the hell did that whatever-it-is pull a d*mned walker under the ground?!" "Would you shut up already?" Sassk growled irritably. Hossk looked around, spotting a partially opened door in the side of the structure. Moving towards it, Hossk said, "Come on, you two. Help me get this door open." The door itself attempted to open as Hossk approached, but it seemed to be jammed or broken. Sassk and Grassk each grabbed one of the two sliding doors and pulled, trying to wrench the door open. With a twisted creak of metal, the door slowly opened, until it was wide enough for the three Trandoshans to fit through, one at a time...

While Sassk and Grassk caught their breath, Hossk looked around the massive room they were in. There was another, locked door on the other side of the room, next to a large series of consoles below a large monitor. In the lefthand corner of the room was a ladder leading up to the roof, but the bottom of the ladder was blocked off by a chain fence. Hossk moved up to the console, and Sassk hissed, "What are you doing?" "Finding out what information this thing has inside." "Do you know how to do that?" Grassk asked. "No," Hossk replied without missing a beat. Grassk groaned as Hossk tapped a couple keys experimentally. Suddenly, the monitor above flickered to life, and an image of an unhelmeted clone trooper, his name identified as "Klick" near the bottom of the screen next to a long service number, appeared and began to speak.

"It would seem that the Dark Lord Trachta wants to rush the experiments. I disagree, but I certainly won't argue with him." Trachta, Hossk thought. That must be the name of that Sith... Sassk frowned. "It's just a message." "Let it keep going," Hossk replied, as Klick continued to speak. "I must admit, the Arachnids' telepathic communication abilities are a valuable resource. I don't know how long that Brain Bug will cooperate, however. And the Queen... She won't find out what we're doing. If she did, I don't know how well our quarantine procedures could stop her."

The message clicked off, and Hossk furrowed his scaly brows. "They were experimenting on... Arachnids? What are those?" "Must've been those things stalking us all the way here," Grassk hissed. Before they could speak further, a loud banging on the locked door startled them all. Coupled with an angry screeching noise, the banging continued, and Hossk snarled, "Weapons up! When that thing gets through the door, blast it!" The three aimed their guns at the door, waiting. Suddenly, the banging died away, and the Trandos lowered their weapons cautiously. Grassk moved forward, towards the door, and hissed, "Where'd it g--" His voice was cut off as the ground exploded underneath him...

Chapter 15: Arachnids

Unknown Imperial installation, Trandosha...

Grassk was knocked on his stomach as a massive insectlike beast, with huge, curved mandibles that were vertically arranged, burst from the ground behind him. Flipping on his back, Grassk fired his blaster rifle wildly. The blaster bolts did little to stop the monstrosity, which screeched in anger and impaled the merc's leg with its hooked mandibles. Grassk was hauled, screaming, underground, leaving a streak of light-green blood where his body had once been. Before Hossk or Sassk could speak, more of the insects burst from the ground, blocking their only exit, one tearing apart the chain fence as it emerged on the wrong side. Getting an idea, Hossk barked, "This way! To the roof!" Sassk, too frightened to argue, followed Hossk, the pair firing at the incoming creature that tried to stop them. The front of its body seemed to melt and fly apart as it ran into a wall of focused blasterfire. Going around the corpse, the Trandoshans struggled up the ladder, more of the furious insects waiting below, screeching and hissing, reaching with sword-like forelegs. Hossk and Sassk dragged themselves up onto the roof, trying to get their bearings...

The ground around the building was in chaos. The strange, monstrous insects skittered this way and that, filling the courtyard below. Hossk looked around desperately for an escape route, but it was Sassk who found it. "Look, over there! A dropship!" Following Sassk's outstretched finger, Hossk spotted the Imperial ship, sitting, undamaged, on a nearby landing pad. Unfortunately, there was no way to get there from the roof. "How do we get past those..." Sassk struggled for something to name the new threat. "You mean the Arachnids?" Hossk said. "Wait, how do you know?" "Well, what else could they be?" Hossk growled angrily. "We don't have time for this. Follow me. We have no choice but to blast our way through." Sassk glowered, but followed Hossk anyway as he moved to an external ladder and climbed down...

Arachnids immediately charged towards the Trandos, but they were scattered as a thermal detonator exploded in their midst, thrown by Hossk. Those not killed or injured in the blast were stunned, and Hossk and Sassk took the opening, sprinting as fast as they could towards the dropship. More Arachnids burst from the ground, and several scuttled down a nearby slope into the courtyard to try and cut them off, but the Trandoshans were faster. Racing ahead, they tore past the Arachnids, even as the ground, weakened by so many holes, began to crumble. Too late did Hossk realize the ground below was really the ceiling of a tunnel, before the concrete seemed to simply crack and split apart, dumping the two Trandoshans down into the darkness, only a few feet away from the dropship...

Hossk's eyes snapped open with a gasp. He saw that thing again. Scuttling towards him, screeching. Only this time, he could see it clearly. One of those d*mn bugs. Hossk stumbled to his feet, taking in his surroundings. He quickly realized that he was in some sort of hastily-dug tunnel system. It wasn't Imperial, that was for sure. The Arachnids must have dug it, he thought. The Arachnids. The insectoid b**tards who had dragged away Grassk. Suddenly, he remembered something. Hossk looked around quickly, but saw nothing. No Sassk. The only sign of his previous presence was his blaster rifle, lying where it had fallen. Had he been killed? Run? He didn't know. The important thing was finding a way back to the surface, Sassk be d*mned. So Hossk moved down the tunnel in the only direction he could go, the chittering echoes of Arachnids all around...

Hossk's claustrophobic, very dark journey was nothing short of tense. He was almost relieved when Arachnids started popping out of the walls and ground to attack him. Fortunately, the giant insects only attacked by themselves or in pairs, not in large swarms like they had on the surface. Something about the cramped tunnel made the creatures somewhat reluctant to fight in groups apparently, and Hossk wasn't about to complain. He was further relieved that he had Sassk's rifle with him; he doubted his blaster gas supply would last against the never-ending onslaught of Arachnid soldiers. Soon, he passed what looked to be another tunnel perpendicular to his own, but the entrance was blocked by a number of connecting stalactites and stalagmites that formed an effective barrier. Hossk chanced a peek between the rocky pillars, and was glad he couldn't get into the tunnel when a gigantic, beetle-like beast lumbered through another tunnel parallel to his, connecting to the perpendicular tunnel. Not bothering to see whether the thing had seen him, Hossk continued deeper into the cavern, hoping he wouldn't run into the massive Arachnid...

As Hossk continued through winding, tight passages, periodically ambushed by the Arachnid Warriors, he soon ran into even nastier critters: tiger-striped versions of the Warrior that were almost impossible to take down. The first one he spotted nearly bit his head off, so he learned to keep his distance, focusing his fire on the Tiger Bug before any other targets. Strangely, they never attacked in groups, only singly, but sometimes had a few Warriors with them. Another blessing, it seemed. Hossk soon turned another corner, spotting a collection of what looked like light-green Warriors, but smaller in size. Upon spotting the Trandoshan, the creatures simply skittered away, and Hossk quickly followed, trying to find out if they led him to the surface or not...

As Hossk continued, the air started getting more and more humid, until water was literally dripping from the ceiling. "Must be near an underground spring," Hossk thought, noticing the temperature rise as well. "A hot spring, to be precise." His suspicions were soon confirmed when he ran right into a massive cavern. The Workers were nowhere to be seen, but it hardly mattered now. To Hossk's left was a very large lake, with a natural stone bridge across it at the far end of the cavern, near a large cluster of stalagmites. A strange mass that looked like an unusually smooth peninsula of rock protruded from the far side of the lake, connected to the wall. Hossk, seeing as the only way out seemed to be the wide tunnel on the other side of the bridge, moved towards it, noticing several weapons lying scattered about, apparently Imperial. They had likely been dropped when the Imperial troops had run from their former lab rats. Hossk snorted, barely containing his satisfaction that the Empire had gotten what was coming to them...

As Hossk neared the bridge, he heard a light scuffling noise from the stalagmite formation. Turning, he was surprised to see Sassk hiding amongst the rocks. "Sassk?!" Hossk growled in shock. Sassk mutely put a finger over his mouth, cutting across his throat with another. However, it was too late. The cavern began to rumble, and what Hossk had thought was a peninsula started to move and quiver, the section connected to the wall detaching with a wet splotch, revealing the wide network of tunnels filled with eggs behind it, before the lake water exploded in a massive shower...

What Hossk saw emerge from the lake was nothing like any Arachnid he had seen so far. All he knew was, judging by the fact that it had a bulbous egg-sack (for that's the only thing it could be), which had disappeared underwater, the Arachnid had to have been the Queen. Its towering body, serpentine and covered in chitinous scales, arched all the way to the ceiling. Its mouth was made of a reptilian, toothy jaw flanked by hooked mandibles, and it had six legs, all long and multi-jointed, ending in hooked, pincer-like claws. Its large, black, dead eyes fixed on Hossk, and it screeched, an inhuman screech not unlike the one from his nightmare, before striking, scorpionlike, at the comparatively diminutive Trandoshan...

Hossk barely managed to dive to the side in time, the Arachnid Queen's jaws snapping shut where he had been standing moments before. Hossk managed to scramble behind one of a few scattered stalagmites on the lakes shore, taking cover while he desperately thought of a way to kill the beast. The Queen reared back up and howled in frustration, looking for her target. Looking around, Hossk spotted an Imperial missile launcher lying on the ground... at the far end of the shoreline. Groaning inwardly, Hossk nevertheless steeled himself for the sprint to the weapon, only to spot, out of the corner of his eye, one of the Queen's clawed limbs reach up to the cave ceiling and wrench a stalactite from its base, before throwing it at Hossk's protection. Breaking cover, Hossk sprinted as fast as he could, the sound of the rock smashing into the stalagmite only pumping his adrenaline faster. With another dive, Hossk rolled across the ground as the Queen slammed a clawed hand down behind him, coming up right next to the launcher. He quickly picked the weapon up, hefted it to his shoulder, aimed at the furious Queen, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.

Clicking the trigger several more times as the Queen's head weaved back and forth, watching Hossk warily, the Trandoshan cursed. Of course it wasn't loaded. Looking around again, Hossk spotted a pair of rockets at his feet. Cursing himself again for such stupidity, Hossk plucked one of the rockets from the ground and loaded it, just as the Queen reared back with a hiss, ready to strike. Hossk, however, reacted first, firing the rocket and watching as it streaked towards the stationary Queen's head and exploded in a good-sized fireball, sending light amounts of debris tumbling from the cave ceiling. As the smoke cleared, however, Hossk's jaw dropped. The Queen was still alive. Its chitinous plating was scorched, and the Arachnid was flailing madly, obviously pissed off, but it otherwise seemed unharmed. Hossk needed a new strategy, and fast. Loading the second rocket, he aimed his launcher, and fired, just as she recovered...

The missile streaked past the Arachnid Queen's head, exploding violently above her. The Arachnid let out a rattling hiss and prepared to strike the exhausted Hossk, who had slumped to one knee, the constant fighting beginning to take its toll. Fortunately for the Trandoshan, a loud crack gave the Queen pause. Looking up, the Arachnid watched as a huge stalactite hanging just above her position, began to come free and fell straight at the Arachnid. Despite her attempt to move out of the way, the Queen was simply too sluggish to dodge the projectile as it speared her abdomen, piercing the armor plating with ease. With a bone-chilling shriek of pain, the Queen collapsed to the side, her large head crashing into the stone bridge, before sliding into the lake, disappearing beneath the churning waters, which frothed with a mix of the Queen's greenish blood and the dark blue water...

Sassk emerged quietly from the cover of the stalagmites, having witnessed the whole battle from relative safety. He silently approached a grim-faced, panting Hossk, and tried to say something along the lines of "I'm sorry." His stammering was cut off as Hossk shakily handed him his blaster rifle. "Find the coward who dropped this," Hossk growled, walking past the stunned Sassk and crossing the damaged bridge. Sassk, after a moment, followed. Hossk, despite his exhaustion, knew he had to keep moving. Who knew what else lay hiding in these d*mned caves...

Chapter 16: Escape

Somewhere underneath Trandosha' crust...

Hossk stormed across the bridge, pausing on the next shore, which led into a wide open cavern before him, with a slight upward slope and a few rocky columns providing support. Sassk moved up next to him silently, awkwardly looking away. "Uh... Hossk, sir?" "What?" Hossk growled curtly, not looking at Sassk. "I, um, I'm... well, I'm sorry." Hossk paused. "About what?" "Well, er, back there, I..." Sassk sighed. "You know what? I'm sorry about, well... everything. I've been disloyal and, well, just a real a**hole, and I apologize." Hossk sighed as well. "That's... much appreciated. Thanks, Sassk. I'm glad we can put this behind us. Believe me, it's a REAL relief." Sassk chuckled slightly. "Yeah, well-- oh, sh*t..." The pair of Trandoshans froze as an unbelievably large swarm of Arachnid Warriors poured towards them from the other side of the cave, their chitters echoing deafeningly throughout. More appeared on the other side of the bridge, blocking Hossk's and Sassk's escape. The Trandos raised their blasters, but didn't fire. The Warriors had stopped, their whole swarm rippling like an ocean of carapace. Then, as if on cue, they separated down the middle of their group, and something new appeared. A cluster of large, green, cockroach-like beetles scurried forward, and soon, more appeared, carrying a massive, bloated monstrosity of an Arachnid on their collective backs. It looked like a long slug-like creature with numerous vestigial limbs along its side. Its head was like that of some sort of disgusting mutant fly, with a puckered mouth and numerous black, beady eyes. Alongside this new creature was a single Tiger Bug, dragging the beaten, broken body of a familiar merc to the pair: Grassk.

"Grassk!" Hossk cried. "He's alive!" The Arachnids bristled in response, but made no move to attack as the Tiger Bug and Brain Bug marched forward. The Tiger Bug dropped Grassk's body as the creatures paused in front of Hossk and Sassk, and the Blood Pack merc groaned in response. Hossk could see that his leg was horribly mangled, and the chances of him ever walking again were rather slim. His voice was hoarse and shaky, looking up at the two desperately. "Help... me..." he groaned, before the Brain Bug moved forward. From out of the creature's slimy mouth came a long, hooked limb that raised itself over Grassk. "Please... don't let them hurt me anymore..." Grassk moaned pitifully. Hossk couldn't look away as the Brain Bug suddenly brought the spiked limb downwards into Grassk's skull.

The spike penetrated Grassk's skull with ease, and he stiffened, blood leaking from his head. The merc's orange eyes rolled back into his head, and a horrid sucking sound was heard as the Brain Bug sucked out every last bit of gray matter in the unfortunate Trandoshan's head. Hossk and Sassk staggered back as Grassk's body toppled forward, the spike disappearing back inside the Brain Bug's mouth. Its flat head, mostly sunken into its body, turned to Sassk and gurgled something. The Tiger Bug scuttled forward, raising its front legs threateningly...

Hossk's expression suddenly changed from horror to anger. Anger at himself, for everything that had gone wrong ever since he had come with his escape plan from Hsskhor, for every single death he had witnessed, for Raikhssa, for Grassk, for his family. He had had enough. Suddenly, he screeched with incredible fury, "Oh no you don't, you ugly piece of sh*t!" Taking a step forward, he unloaded an entire clip from his blaster into the Brain Bug's face, which screeched unbelievably loud into the cavern. Sassk suddenly joined in, combining Hossk' blasterfire with his own, and soon enough the Brain Bug disgusting face was nothing but burnt paste. As the creature fell limp, the Arachnids screeched in unison, and the two Trandos had to cover their ears as they did so. Hossk reloaded his blaster weakly and raised it, ready to fight, but was surprised when the Arachnids charged, not at him or Sassk, but at each other. The creature tore at each other with animalistic viciousness, too confused by the loss of their entire hive mind to tell between friend and foe. Nevertheless, the nearest Warriors, as well as the furious Tiger Bug, charged at Hossk and Sassk, but they were prepared by then. Blasting their way through the horde of battling bugs, the two managed to, quite literally, blast their way through the fighters and any Arachnid that tried to attack them, and sprinted through the cavern and into the only tunnel they saw...

After what seemed like hours of running through the dark caves, leaving the incessant screeching of the Arachnids behind, Hossk and Sassk finally stopped, panting. "By the Scorekeeper, that was... I don't think I could do something... like that again!" Sassk growled in exhaustion. "Don't slow down just yet... Sassk... We're not out of here yet..." Sassk looked up at the distant tunnel, and smiled weakly. "Hey Hossk, I think it's safe to say you're wrong at that one, for once..." "What are you... talking about?" Hossk asked. "Just look up, boss." Hossk did so, and paused for a moment, staring at the distant light that dimly shown in the distance. Finally Hossk broke down into laughter, tears actually streaming from his eyes. Sassk leaned against a wall, laughing as well. After awhile, the two finally stood, and Hossk slapped Sassk on the shoulder, a relieved smile on his face. "How about we get the hell out of here?" Sassk grinned. "Couldn't have said it better myself!"
Last edited by dinoman666 on Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:16 am, edited 15 times in total.
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Postby Doc 42 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:09 pm

Woot, new fanfics always make me happy.

But, "ever-so-evil General Grievous in the SEW"

What exactly makes Grevious so evil? He seems quite pleasant really. Keen to make allies and watch out for his friends.
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Postby dinoman666 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:00 pm

Yeah, I know, but he's only loyal to his allies. Otherwise, he's just an a**hole.
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Postby raptor33 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:57 pm

did you get this from one of the star wars books? they go from 5 years before Phantom Menace all the way to about 50 years after Return of the Jedi.

Greivous must be in there somewhere.
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Postby dinoman666 » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:30 am

No, this is completely non-canon. It takes place before Grievous' appearance in the Space E-war.

Next chapter FINALLY up.
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Postby Doc 42 » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:42 am

I like the old-school sci fi feel to it. Kinda refreshing. Keep it up
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Postby dinoman666 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:30 am

Next chapter's up. Kind of short, but the next one'll be better.
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Postby Doc 42 » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:25 pm

Short, but still entertaining. Still following this.
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Postby dinoman666 » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:17 pm

Put the previous chapter into Chapter 3 to make it longer, and posted two more chapters.
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Postby Doc 42 » Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:39 pm

A breath of fresh air to the Single Writer Fiction section.
Keep it up.
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Postby dinoman666 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:28 am

New chappy's up.

EDIT: Second chapter's been added as well.
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Postby Doc 42 » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:06 pm

I haven't got a chance to read it yet, will do soon and edit, but could you edit this into the 2nd post instead? so that it isn't broken up.
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Postby dinoman666 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:37 am

Edited. You can delete that above post now.

Also, I posted a new chapter.
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Postby dinoman666 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:42 am

New chappy's up. The most intense one so far.
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Postby Anaclagon » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:59 am

very nice, keep it coming
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Postby dinoman666 » Sat Aug 21, 2010 8:01 pm

New chapter's up, and it has a classic Star Wars phrase in it! See if you can find it...
"Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic."
-Megatron
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Postby dinoman666 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:21 pm

Put up a new chapter, introducing the Arachnid Queen.
"Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic."
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Re: Grievous Rising

Postby dinoman666 » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:39 pm

FINALLY posted a new chapter. I have one new one above, and I continued it in this post.

Just a nice break from the ridiculous fighting.

Chapter 17: Well-Deserved Break

Somewhere in the forests of Trandosha...

Hossk was relieved beyond belief when the cold darkness of the caves gave way to bright, warm sunlight that shined on his scaly face. After taking a deep breath, he sat down, slumping against a nearby tree as he took in his surroundings. He was obviously back in the jungle, just outside what could easily be mistaken for a simple cave. The tree cover was sparse, letting ample sunlight filter through and illuminate the usual dim forest. Ahead of him was a fallen, hollowed out tree trunk that was more than wide enough for him to crawl through. It was flanked by a surprisingly dense amount of shrubbery. The trunk would definitely be the best path... when he finally gathered enough strength to actually stand up again. Sassk soon joined Hossk outside, and he made a hissing sigh of exhaustion. "I really wouldn't mind a quick nap, boss," he growled, sitting down as well. "No sleeping just yet, Sassk," Hossk replied, equally tired. Sassk glowered, but Hossk merely smirked. "We have to eat first, you know." Sassk's face brightened again, and he nodded. "You definitely know what you're doing, boss!" "Would you just call me Hossk already, Sassk?" "Uh, right, sure... Hossk."

A few hours later and the pair of Trandoshans had caught a couple unlucky Grassrunners that had run into the clearing, and were cooking them over a makeshift fire. Satisfied that they were done, Hossk took the dead reptiles off the fire and handed one of the spits to Sassk, before taking a bite of his own. After chewing appreciatively, he growled, "I don't think I've ever had a better meal in my whole life!" "You're telling me," Sassk said. "We haven't eaten in, what, two days?" "Well, I haven't. You were at the camp when..." Hossk paused, reluctant to mention the death of Hssisk at the jaws of the Bonecrusher. Sassk noticed this, and frowned, but he didn't seem angry. In fact, he almost seemed... sympathetic.

Finally, he hissed, "You know, it's not really your fault. There's not much you could've done about a Bonecrusher. They're not the alpha predators around here for nothing." "I know that, I just... I could've stopped that thing. I should've seen it coming. How do you get ambushed by a Bonecrusher anyway?! They're f**king huge!" Sassk gulped down the last of his Grassrunner and replied, "Look at it this way: you at least taught it a lesson, right?" "Well, sort of. I took out one of its eyes, but it flung me around like a d*mn ragdoll..." Sassk raised an eyebrow. "Seriously? You actually hurt it? That's pretty impressive. And here I thought you had just pissed it off a little!" he added jokingly. Hossk couldn't help but smile at that. "I didn't think I'd ever say this, but I'm actually kind of glad you're here, Sassk." Sassk smirked. "Whatever you say, bo--I mean Hossk." Hossk laughed. "Why does everyone want to call me 'sir' or boss?'" "You're our leader. Why wouldn't we?" Hossk leaned back against his tree and grinned. "I'm more than your leader. I'm your friend." Sassk shrugged, still smirking. "Like I said, whatever you say... friend." "Now don't start that, Sassk," Hossk groaned in mock exasperation. "Alright, alright..."

Chapter 18: Rescue

Somewhere in the forests of Trandosha, the next morning...

Hossk and Sassk hadn't gotten much sleep, considering the conditions. Still, it was better than nothing. Better than what they had dealt with so far, at least, thought Hossk as he walked along the jungle path alongside Sassk. They were moving towards the location of their makeshift base in the crash site. He doubted anyone was still their, after the Imperial attack last night, but it was the only place they knew to go. The only things the pair of Trandoshans had on them were their blasters and the clothes on their backs. No comlinks, no grenades, nothing that be of any use. They had to find the rest of the resistance, or else they wouldn't last long in the hostile jungles...

Strangely, the first sign of danger the pair found wasn't any indigenous wildlife, but the rumbling of approaching machinery. Hossk and Sassk quickly hid in the bushes alongside the path, and waited. The rumbling grew ever louder, until they finally saw the source of the noise: an Imperial convoy, made up of a single towering AT-AT walker, flanked by Imperial soldiers, and followed by a pair of AT-ST walkers. "What the hell?" Hossk whispered. "Why do they have such heavy armor this deep in the forest?" "Must be close to their base of operations," Sassk replied. "The one at the base of Cradossk Spire." Hossk frowned. "We have to keep moving. Let these idiots hike all over this jungle to find us." Sassk nodded in agreement and, as soon as the remaining few Stormtroopers vanished in the distance, the pair took off once more...

The two Trandoshans trekked along the edge of Skag Valley, trying to avoid going too far into the open and getting ambushed by Skags. The outskirts of the valley were covered in low-lying shrubbery, making it at least somewhat safer. However, even here there was danger. Hossk and Sassk made it to a small, arena-like clearing with a short ledge leading back into the forest on their right, when they heard a scuttling, chittering noise. Sassk raised his rifle warily. "Great, those bugs must've followed us!" Hossk shook his head. "No, that sounded different... more familiar. Oh, sh*t, Klixen." Sassk frowned. "Klixen? Here? I thought they only lived in Tuchanka?" "They live anywhere that's at least somewhat barren. Tuchanka just happens to be one big desert, so they're more common there." "Alright, screw it, let's blast these--" Hossk abruptly pulled Sassk away from a clump of bushes as a large, screeching, red insectoid creature emerged, flames spraying from its jagged mandibles and scorching the ground where Sassk had been standing. The two Trandoshans turned and fired on the beast, which slowly trundled towards them. Under the combined barrage of blasterfire from both Hossk and Sassk, however, the creature finally collapsed and violently exploded into small chunks as its volatile body was compromised. Several more Klixen emerged from the bushes as well, scuttling towards the pair and screeching for their blood. The Trandoshans raised their rifles, when several shots rang out. Solid slugs hit the Klixen, piercing their small skulls and killing them quickly, closely followed by more shots, this time from a blaster-based sniper rifle. The insects were cut down quickly, and the two confused Trandos turned around.

Garrus stood on the ledge behind them, ejecting a thermal clip from his M-97 Viper next to Slissk, who had her own rifle. "I see you two took the scenic route," Garrus said. Slissk merely smirked. "Good to see you too," Hossk replied. More Trandos emerged from the forest behind the pair, including Saitorr, Lissarkh, Kuresk, Chardossk, and a dozen others. After Garrus helped him onto the ledge, Hossk eagerly embraced Saitorr as she tackle-hugged him. "By the Scorekeeper, I thought you were dead!" Saitorr cried, tears streaming from her orange eyes. Hossk smiled reassuringly. "Please, it'll take more than a botched recon mission to kill me," he growled. Saitorr lightly punched him in the shoulder. "Don't scare me like that again," she hissed back, a smile on her face. Kuresk walked up to the pair and cleared his throat. "Uh, if I can interrupt?" Hossk reluctantly pulled away from his mate and turned to Kuresk with an inquisitive look. He didn't entirely trust the mercenary yet, but he didn't have much of a choice in the matter. "What happened to Grassk, Hossk?" Hossk paused, looking at the ground. "I think it'll be better if I explain what happened to everybody, Kuresk. This goes way beyond one Trandoshan." Slissk nodded, approaching. "Agreed. We've got the rest of the refugees hidden deeper in the jungle. We'll meet up with them, then you can debrief us." She paused, then added, "You were lucky we found you, you know. If Klixen weren't as loud as they are, you might've walked right past us, and no one would've known." Hossk merely smiled. "So, you did miss me." "You're a riot... sir." Hossk arched a scaly brow. "What did you say?" "Come on, you're not the only one who needs to do some explaining, Hossk," Slissk replied matter-of-factly. "Follow me."
"Heroes have morals. Villains have work ethic."
-Megatron
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