Teaser Chapter - Ben

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***** Please note. This teaser chapter was pre-released before the official launch date. What you read below may not be in sequence with the story as published to date. *****


Commander Ben Kenobi cringed as soldiers’ boots squeaked against the tunnel floor, despite the gripfoam applied to them. The mine's walls and floor were thick with moisture at this depth, so Ben ordered his fireteams to tread cautiously. It demanded patience from the soldiers: slowing them down and paining them with the annoyance of restraint.

There was little time to spare with the Skywalkers’ trial beginning soon. Ben had planned the rescue with a generous buffer, but setbacks already stretched them thin. First the random aircraft inspection, then having to abandon the speeders, and of course, there were “the unclean ones,” the mutant da phelu.

Ben followed alpha team along the neighboring shaft, passing through abandoned miners' quarters. Bunks pushed over, splintered chairs, discarded food packages littering the floor. Mutants had trashed the room.

He scanned the walls. They looked to be marked with the miners' names and the number of months they'd served underground.

Lines crossed out most of the names. No one made it very long. Were the da phelu or the working conditions the reason? Probably both. 

Exiting the camp, the tunnel curved on itself, leading to a wider corridor where stopes propped up portions of the ceiling.

"Hold up," said Lieutenant Til'trius on the open channel. "on feed 6 I see something. They're close." Three shadowy figures busy feasting upon a corpse. Ben heard one gnawing lustily on a bone in carnal worship. Disgusting.

"More da phelu," noted Sergeant Chalmers. "Alpha team, can we engage?"

"Negative," said Specialist Aro. "The uglies are just around a bend. I can’t shoot through the rock. We’ll have to close in for stun."

"It’d be my pleasure," said her teammate Ronk.

"No Specialist," Ben asserted. "You'll never have time to stun all three. As wet as it is, you’ll alert them before you get in range. I'll handle this. Direct the drone away from the mutants."

Ronk made a quick objection that Ben readily dismissed. This wasn't about who got to kill mutants; it was about what was safest and most efficient to accomplish objectives.

Ben took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Using the force on his body armor and boots, he dampened the pressure his weight made on the floor. The outfit wasn’t designed to handle his full weight, otherwise he might have levitated by it. It at least made him lighter on foot. Letting the force guide him as to which steps to take, he scaled quietly, passing the other soldiers and closing in on the da phelu. He made it around the bend, the mutants only a few paces up.

The creatures might notice him if he grew closer, their eyes too accustomed to the dark. He adjusted his v-filters for the best picture of his adversaries, and observed they were consuming one of their own. Perhaps an older member of their pack, or a particularly annoying one that these others turned on?

His hand reached into his utility belt, passing by the lightsaber that was too bright and loud, and too clumsy and random for this situation. He pulled out two light vibroknives instead: deadly, silent. Two he'd take out swiftly; the third was a different matter.

Ben threw a vibroknife with both hands. A force-enhanced push made them zip across open space and plant into the necks of two da phelu. He concentrated with the force and clamped the jaws of the third da phelu together. It let out a muffled, hardly audible sound, clawing at its mouth in surprise that it's voice was denied.

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