Rummaging for Survival

The transport was a disaster. As the mercenaries and the Special Task Force climbed through the open entrance ramp they realized that their hopes of survival were dropping rapidly. The hull had been breached in so many areas it would take a miracle to get the vehicle into space again even if it wasn’t on its side.

“Well,” said Tso in an attempt to try to lift their spirits. “At least it wasn’t the Phoenix Moon.”

Tarrsk was the first to give him a deadly sideways glance which caused the Sullustan to fall silent instantly.

“All hope is not lost yet, my friends,” Par’kiss replied, his Devaronian grin flashing towards them. “If the ship’s power cells are still intact and its long range communications systems as well we might be able to contact someone to come to our aid.”

“That’s a pretty big ‘if,’” replied Satchal sarcastically. He was in a foul mood since he’d confronted his master’s killer, and he still felt the taint in his spirit from killing that pirate on the way to Darga Prime. Aside from that he felt guilty for the death of Governor Creed whom he’d cut down even though he knew that it hadn’t been his fault. He had been striking in defense, or so he had thought.

Lialla put her hand on his shoulder as they all crouched before the opening to the ship. “Don’t give up hope yet,” she said sympathetically. “We shouldn’t give up hope even when it doesn’t seem like there’s any left.”

Satchal shrugged her hand away. “No offense, Lialla, but I’m in no mood for your empty words.”

The human soldier from Naboo was taken aback. “They’re not empty words,” she said, her words drowned in pain. “Even in the darkest situations there is always hope.”

Satchal glanced back at her now, and after seeing the pain in her eyes his expression softened. “Sorry,” he replied.

“We’re all just a little tense right now,” Geldar replied, his own sense of hopelessness evident in his voice.

“Forget your tensions right now,” Par’kiss replied. “We’ve got work to do if we want to survive here.” He then motioned for several of his fellow mercenaries to make their way in first.

The ship was not as bad inside as it was outside. The blasts must have been mainly contained to the outer hull. Although the hull was blasted open in many places, allowing the chill wind to whip through the ship, the inside was fairly intact. Par’kiss made his way throughout the ship, climbing over debris and blasted walls, inspecting everything.

Brin’tac stood against what once was the wall of the lounge but was now the floor as he pushed a table out of the way. Light shown through a blasted section of the hull above him providing ample light in the craft since the power was out. He shook his head sadly as his companions rubbed their hands together to get some warmth back into them, and a cloud of air flared from his nostrils in the cold chill of the ship.

“Things don’t look good, my friends,” he said. He was cold, but the fir that covered most of his body protected him a little from it allowing him to be fairly capable of withstanding it.

“We need to find something to keep us warm soon or we’ll all freeze to death,” Tso replied as he shivered, his large ears quivering as his body shook. “I hope the environmental suits are in the storage area there.” He pointed to a doorway across the way.

“How many suits does a normal transport vehicle carry?” Satchal asked worriedly.

Tso grimaced. “Six.”

Satchal frowned. “There’s eight of us here, if you include him,” he said indicating the Anomid assistant, “and a whole lot more mercenaries out there. Six suits will hardly be enough.”

“There should be bunks on board the ship fitted with blankets and sheets,” Geldar said as he and Tarrsk attempted to pry open the door. “If nothing else we’ll all huddle under them.”

“I’m not too worried about them,” Brin’tac added. “They came more prepared for this environment. They may not have environmental suits, but they have heavy coats and other warm gear. They’ll be fine.”

“You know,” said Lialla as she came to help. “Even if they do get the heat working in this thing they won’t be able to keep it in with all these holes in the hull.” “Let’s not worry about that right now,” Brin’tac replied. “One thing at a time.”

At last the door slid open enough for Nyarchagga to fit through, and instantly the Dug climbed Tarrsk and scrambled through, much to the Trandoshan’s displeasure. With a hoot of triumph coming from inside the entire group began to feel better about their situation.

“Ten suits,” the Dug replied. “Enough for us and two others.” Then he started stuffing the suits out of the storage closet to Tarrsk and Geldar. A moment later and each of them was suited, and the heat generators brought warmth to their bodies once more.

Each of them, that is, except Nyarchagga. The Dug swore as he tried desperately to don the suit, but when he realized that the suits were not fit to be worn by his strangely designed race he threw it across the room angrily.

“Keep your head, Nyarchagga,” Brin’tac said soothingly. “It won’t do us any good.”

Nyarchagga sneered up at his friend. “Easy for you to say. You have a nice, warm suit while I’m freezing to death.”

“We’ll try to find you some warm blankets to cover yourself with,” Geldar replied, and though he tried to sound confident that the idea was good he knew it wasn’t what the Dug wanted to hear.

“Poodoo!” he cursed again, and the scowl on his face showed his displeasure more than anything else.

“The bunks are just off that door and down the hall,” Tso said as he recalled seeing them before when they had climbed into the lounge. The door he pointed to was off to the aft of the ship, and since the ship was on its side it was on the wall they were standing on. “If we can pry that door open and slide down the hall we should be able to come upon a couple of rooms pretty quickly.”

“Well let’s get to it,” Geldar said as he made his way towards it. “Nyarchagga’s freezing here.”

And then, just as Geldar, Tarrsk, and Satchal reached the door to pry it open, the power to the ship suddenly came on. Instantly, the door slid open, since Tarrsk was standing on the switch, and Geldar, who had been leaning over the door trying to pry his hands into the crack, fell through with a small cry. Tumbling down the hall to the far wall, Geldar crashed to the bottom with a hard thud causing a sharp pain in his side. A moment later, Tarrsk and the others peered through to see if he was okay.

Satchal smirked at his rival. “The Force is with you, young Padawan,” he said sarcastically. “You managed to open the door all by yourself, and your Jedi reflexes are admirable.”

Geldar winced at the pain in his side. “Thanks,” he replied, not knowing how else to respond at that moment.

“Are you hurt?” Tarrsk asked with a little concern in his voice, something that was odd for the Trandoshan.

“Just a little,” said Geldar. “I think I just got the wind knocked out of me.”

“What a time for the power to come back on, huh?” Lialla put in from next to Tso.

Geldar nodded. Now that was the understatement of the year, he thought. “It’ll take me a few minutes to recover here,” he replied through clenched teeth. “Why don’t you try getting those blankets.”

But his words were just a few seconds too late. Nyarchagga had already dived into the hallway and nimbly worked his way to one of the nearest doors. Slipping through it and into the room he rummaged through the overturned debris and quickly acquired a blanket. As he did so he also noticed a warm gust of air coming from a vent in what once was the ceiling. Smiling, he shouted out to the others, “Well, at least I have a blanket. I hope I don’t freeze while you’re gone.”

“We’ll try to hurry,” Brin’tac called down to him through the open doorway. “Perhaps by then Par’kiss will have the heat working.”

Nyarchagga’s smile broadened. “I...hope so,” he chattered trying to sound as pathetic as possible. “I...j...just wish I c...could go with you to hunt instead o...of just sitting here in icy” Then he moved right over to stand directly in front of the door huddled in his blanket so the others could see him. Then shivering violently he added, “I’m going to sh...shut the door now. It’ll hopefully keep out some of the...the cold.”

The others all stared at him sympathetically for a few more moments and then watched as the door quickly shut the Dug inside. “I hope he’ll be fine until we get back,” Lialla said after a moment as Geldar attempted to climb back up the hall towards them.

“He should be fine,” Brin’tac told her putting his hand on her shoulder. “With a blanket and being shut in away from the cold wind he should be fine. I suspect he’ll wind up being better off than the rest of us.”

“How are we going to find anything out here in this frozen wasteland?” Tso wanted to know as he broke in on their conversation. “This place seems so devoid of life.”

At that moment Tarrsk reached down and helped Geldar the rest of the way up the hall. Geldar said, “I’ll try to use the Force to detect life in the area. Hopefully I’ll be able to sense something nearby. With those creatures living in the caves nearby there must be some sort of food source for them.”

Tarrsk smiled. “Just bring me to them, and I’ll do the rest.”

With that said, the group left the lounge area and climbed back out of the ship. Donning the helmets that came with the suits they aloud the heat of the environmental suits to keep them warm while they trudged through the snow following Geldar’s lead. Hopefully, before long, they’d find something and be able to get back to the ship before the sun set in the sky.

The End

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