Chapter 48 - Part 1

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Til'trius tiled camera feeds in front of him, as he watched hundreds of da phelu rise from surface ruptures Fett's explosives created.

Blaster fire from autori spat down on the mutants now filling the streets. Yet the da phelu were remarkably resilient, pressing forward after taking hits and leaping towards the Rodian soldiers. The mutants gutted some soldiers and impaled others through openings in their armor. It was no wonder the mutants had resisted extermination.

Nonetheless, for an armed forces group, the da phelu should have posed no challenge. The mutants were out of their element; they couldn't sneak up and take autori by surprise above ground. It was just claws versus blasters, the stone age versus the hyperspace age. Indeed, the da phelu were meant solely as a distraction from the SKYE assault, forcing the autori to contain the mutants before they spread into residential areas and attacked civilians.

But many autori had been pulled away by Municipate Adjooto and Premier Mubatoo for some power grab. Not properly trained nor staffed to face the mutants, the da phelu were causing more havoc than they otherwise would.

Til'trius witnessed one of the beasts tear the helmet and then the face off a Rodian. His heart sunk, thinking of Urawa, the Rodian lieutenant who'd helped him take down Khachu. That could have been her. Noble Rodians were dying because of him and this operation. Commander Kenobi framed up the mission as saving the good ones and killing the bad ones, but they were killing good ones too.

They were deciding which lives were more important. They were playing like gods, or from another standpoint, devils. Til'trius triggered an explosive planted by the deceased Teel, sending autori forces in disarray, and didn't know what to think of himself. He rarely did.

A ring tone sounded in his mind -- an emergency from Commodore Tarkin. He quickly read the update. You've got to be kidding me. The Kur'zo?

* * *


"What ire enfires my infernal circuitry!" IG-68 mused as he shot at one of the hulking mining droids, aiming carefully above the hostages it pulled like pets on a leash. The rail bolt toppled the mining droid forward into a street pole, bending it, but the droid's heavy armor absorbed the energy. Human screams sounded from below. Patience, mortals. Salvation comes.

The mining droid reoriented itself and turned towards him. Incredible what those models were designed to withstand; IG-68 bet they really could survive multiple cave-ins. If they could get free. "What passion so fastens to my industrial soul! And moves me to remove you, brother?"

The mining droid raised its weaponry towards him. Ax beeped a warning, and IG-68 ducked back behind the cover of telequipment atop the SKYE tower, as the RX-9's mining laser pounded on his position. The laser severed off the holonet tower, and IG-68 scrambled away, as it came crashing down.

I've got to keep pressure on that Mandalorian. Emerging, he fired Ax in another direction towards the warrior that had pursued Era and Graff, and squatted back down.

This was that sadistic reprobate Til'trius had told him about -- Chona -- in it for both blood and money. Terminating her would made the galaxy a slightly better place. Well, before some other thug took her place. Unfortunate that people like him would always be needed to prune crime's many branches.

Chona slowly advanced towards the entrance to the building the Skywalkers occupied. Very careful, a professional. One mining droid resumed circling that building to its other side, barring an easy exit.

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