“Kazz, where are the droids currently?” Geldar asked as he attempted to get his mind to work swiftly.
“Sensor unit two floors up just got taken out about ten seconds ago. It registered about thirty droids on that level right above us. Another sensor unit closer to us registers about fifty droids coming down the passages on this level at a rate that will cut off our escape to the west in about six minutes. To the north on this level twenty more droids will be cutting off our escape in one minute. To the south we’ve got fifteen cutting off our escape currently. They seem to be holding their position.”
“And our east passage is cut off by mines,” said Tarrsk to finish recapping their situation.
“What about below us?” asked Geldar.
“A two hundred foot drop into the city’s main septic tank,” replied Kazz.
“That explains the smell,” said Tarrsk with a grunt.
“Is there any way you could disable the mines?” asked Geldar as a panic threatened to set in.
“Not likely,” said Kazz. “I don’t think I have enough skill, and even if I did one wrong move would finish the job the Trandoshans started.” He shot a glance at Tarrsk, but the Trandoshan only seemed to be thinking of what position would be the best defense if the droids pinned them in the corridor.
“The comlink,” suggested Brin’tac, and he quickly pulled his out to see if he could reach Satchal. “Nothing,” he said after a moment. “The signal must be jammed.”
“Blast it!” Geldar snapped. No matter what he couldn’t seem to figure out a solution other than dropping into the septic tank. “I’m such a fool! We never should have come here. I thought we were being so careful.”
“It’s not your fault,” said Lialla. “We all agreed to do this.”
“We just need a moment to think,” said Brin’tac.
“We don’t have a moment,” said Tso, a bit panicked.
As they all continued their conversation Nyarchagga moved to the other end of the corridor where the mines were, and he smiled as an idea came to him. While everyone was growing more and more concerned about their lack of an escape route Nyarchagga casually made his way over to them. “Get out of the passage and cover your ears,” the Dug said nonchalantly, and they all looked at him as if he were a nasty bug to be squished.
“What are you talking about?” asked Geldar.
“We don’t have a lot of time,” said Nyarchagga. “Just trust me. I know what to do.”
Geldar looked at the others and saw they all were just as bewildered as he was. However, since Nyarchagga obviously seemed to know what he was doing they all moved down the passage and out of the corridor as he instructed covering their ears in the process.
Suddenly, without warning, a terrible, ear-splitting cry shook the passages as the sound of Nyarchagga’s Dug bellow echoed off of the durasteel walls turning the underground into a giant gong. The walls and floor shook violently, and the sound was so deafening that even with their hands over their ears the pain was excruciating. They did not even hear the sounds of the explosions in the next passage as the vibrating walls set off the sensors on the mines.
Then just as quickly as it had begun the sound ended, and everyone’s ears were ringing for quite some time afterward. Kazzra’an was roaring in pain as loud as he could, but even though he was right next to them his roar sounded distant and barely perceptible. Half of the team was on the floor, and Tso was actually comatose from the experience. His ears were more sensitive than the others, and the Dug’s bellow had caused him such pain that his brain shut down.
Geldar was the first to recover, using the Force to try to help deal with the pain. He looked around to ensure that everyone was okay, and he was quite concerned to find most of them still holding their ears and writhing on the ground. Deciding to help them he moved over to Tso first and used the Force to heal him as best he could.
Tso awoke almost instantly, and Geldar breathed a sigh of relief. “Can you hear me?” asked Geldar, and when he realized he couldn’t really hear himself well he decided to speak louder.
Tso nodded when the words finally reached him, and Geldar moved to help the others. Before long, to everyone’s relief, they were all on their feet and their hearing was returning.
Nyarchagga entered the room and smiled victoriously. “The passage is now clear,” he replied. “However, it has suffered some major damage from the explosions, and it will be precarious to pass through. I see many gaping holes dropping into the septic tank below. We’ll need to be careful.”
“I never knew you could do such a thing,” replied Lialla in disbelief.
“I have only heard that bellow a few times,” said Brin’tac, “and it was never that loud. The walls down here amplified it to the tenth degree, I think, and that’s saying something since it is pretty loud when it isn’t amplified.”
“Our sensor equipment is destroyed,” remarked Kazzra’an, his voice strained from screaming at full force. “He either shattered the screens or I did when I fell on it.” Geldar pulled out his datapad with the schematics of the city and he saw the screen was shattered on it as well. “Blast! We’ve got no map,” he said.
“Hey,” said Nyarchagga. “You wanted a path of escape, and I gave it to you. Stop complaining.” Then he turned and headed off down the passage without looking back. He was still in a foul mood, and he just wanted to get back to base and put the whole affair behind him.
Everyone else followed after a moment, and they came to stand at the end of the passage where the mines had been laid. The whole passage was much worse than Nyarchagga had described. It looked as though the passage had been blasted with a turbolaser. The floor was almost non-existent, shredded by the deadly explosives. The walls and ceiling were scored and superheated. The very integrity of the passage was in question, and in short, it looked impassable.
Even as they stood there a section of the ceiling gave way, buckling under the pressure of some support beam above, and the passages shook once more. Then the passage caved in, and large sections of durasteel broke loose smashing through the area and crashing into the septic tank below.
This actually proved to be their salvation. Because of the cave-in a gaping hole was torn into the ceiling above them, and some of the debris provided a precarious ramp across the gaping hole into the septic tank and up into the next level. Nyarchagga was the first to note this, and he quickly and adeptly shot up the debris to prove its stability.
Everyone else eyed it nervously. At long last they decided to allow the lighter members of their team to go first leaving the heaviest for last. Tso carefully climbed up the thin metal slab and was up without incident. Lialla was next, followed by Brin’tac who both made the climb with relative ease. Geldar followed, but as he went he felt the ramp give way a bit, and his stomach lurched for fear that they all wouldn’t make it.
Kazzra’an and Tarrsk were the last, and they both looked at the ramp skeptically. Neither of them wanted to be the first to go, but Geldar helped them decide that Kazzra’an would go first. Though bigger and a bit heavier, it was reasoned that he was the better climber and also taller, and they figured that if he made it across he could reach down to help Tarrsk if the Trandoshan had troubles. (Of course, Tarrsk wasn’t convinced that Kazzra’an would necessarily be willing to help him, but that was beside the point. Tarrsk trusted Geldar and trusted Geldar’s influence with the Wookiee. That would have to be enough.)
Kazzra’an made it up, and just as he did the ramp broke loose below him. The Wookiee barely caught himself on the edge of the upper level, and the others were there to help steady him. The ramp fell through the floor and disappeared into the darkness leaving Tarrsk alone on the other side.
“Now what?” asked Lialla in a panic. “We can’t just leave him.”
“We’re not leaving him,” said Geldar in an attempt to calm her. “It’s not that far. He’s got a grappling gun. He can shoot it up her and we’ll haul him up.”
Just then a blaster shot nearly took Tarrsk’s head off, and he spun around to see droids pouring into the passage behind. “No time!” he cried and he took a leap across the pit before anyone could blink. The Trandoshan missed completely and fell through the gaping floor as everyone else watched in complete horror. Tarrsk disappeared from sight, and just as Geldar closed his eyes to hopefully help slow the Trandoshan’s fall with the Force somehow a hook shot up and nearly struck him in the face.
“Grab it!” cried Tso, and everyone made a grab for the line at once. Kazzra’an grabbed it just in time, and the line snapped violently nearly dragging them all into the pit. If not for some debris jutting out of the wall above to help catch them they would have all fallen into the septic tank.
The line was being reeled in quickly as Tarrsk ascended out of the darkness, but the droids were nearly to the end of the passage with blasters aiming for the cable supporting the Trandoshan. Then, as the nearest droid, who was carrying a vibroblade, reached the pit Tarrsk shot up to his friends and was yanked out of harms way. As he passed, the vibroblade came within inches of slashing open the side of his face, and Tarrsk felt several shots pummel his armor.
At last they were out of harms way, but they figured they weren’t safe for long. They had no map and no idea of where they were going. They only had one exit, to the east, and they knew that although there were no droids in that direction a few minutes ago that could have changed. What was worse was that they had no way of knowing if it had.
Down the hall they fled as fast as they could while they held their weapons ready for a fight. They reached the end of the passage and rounded a corner into another just as an explosion shook the underground once more. It came from behind, and Tarrsk, the last in the line, glanced back to see a hole in the ceiling leading to the next level up. Droids were dropping through the hole, and they scrambled to pursue even before they could right themselves.
“We’ve got to move quicker!” Tarrsk cried as he followed hot on everyone’s heals. “They’re coming from above.”
“I quit!” said Tso in desperation. “Game over! Game over!”
“Just keep running!” Lialla said as she came from behind Tso and grabbed him by the left hand to haul him after her.
They reached an intersection but didn’t even think of which direction they should go. It branched off to the right and left, and Geldar, at the front, took off down the right hoping it would continue to take them at least southeast. At the end of that passage they reached another intersection, and this time Geldar took them to the left to compensate for going right the first time. He just wanted to keep them going east since it was in that direction that the droids had neglected, leaving the mines to bar their escape.
Instead of finding another passage, however, they found themselves at the foot of a ladder. Having no time to think Geldar rushed up only to find, to his surprise, that the ladder extended far up through the bowels of the underground. He couldn’t even see in the dim light of the glow rods just how far it went. “I only hope this is our salvation,” he murmured, and he disappeared from sight. Everyone else followed without question, and Tarrsk came last just as the droids rounded the corner and fired at him.
“This is going to make us easy targets,” commented Kazzra’an, but Tarrsk was already thinking of something that would rectify the problem. As the first of the droids, which were nothing more than a series of protocol droids refitted with weapons, reached the bottom a small spherical object bounced off of the floor plating. The droids all turned their heads downward just in time to see the grenade explode.
Instead of blowing the droids limb from limb, however, the grenade plastered the entire area with a sticky, slimy goo that instantly hardened and held the droids fast. Any droids that attempted to step into the area were held fast as well, and they all fought hard to break, cut, and blast the substance in an effort to continue pursuit.
“That’ll hold ‘em for awhile,” said Tarrsk as he hurried to rejoin the others. “Let’s just hope they don’t have any more at the other end.”
“Kazz, where are the droids currently?” Geldar asked as he attempted to get his mind to work swiftly.