The Photonovel Alliance
ALLIANCE INTELLIGENCEChapter 11HUNT BY NIGHT





-When we last left Col. Airen Cracken and his band of rebels, they were fleeing the planet Fangorn with the mercenary pilot Patch Quasile, after failing to complete their mission. However, the ship receives a distress call from the planet Felucia. The rebels drop out of hyperspace to investigate. However, once they near the planet a burst of light envelops the ship, instantly shutting it down. The crew scrambles to the escape pods, barely escaping in time.


    



-The pods land in a savanna surrounding Felucia’s flowering rainforests, where the team regroups.





-“Air!” Havi calls out. “Something’s wrong with Artoo!”





-“Jax’s leg is completely fried,” Patch reports.





-“All of our weapons are too, Colonel,” Hank adds. “Either we hit some freak storm or we walked right into somebody’s trap. With our luck, it’s probably a trap”.





-“Well,” Cracken begins, as the group gathers around him. “If it is a trap, whoever set it will be coming for us. So we’ve got to get on the move”. This is answered by a loud growl from Patch’s tall, furry copilot.

——“Grunt blames you for the destruction of our ship and I can’t say I blame him. You will pay for it, I trust?”

-“Well, of course. I’ll just tell George, I’m sure he’ll give us the money.” Cracken is silenced by a howl from Grunt.






-At this, Saigorr leaps at the angry alien, who instantly prepares to fight…





-But it never happens, as Patch and Cracken rush to break up the squabble.





-“Wookiees and Baalurs don’t exactly have a positive history,” Patch whispers to Cracken.

——“I see, I’ll remember that” the Colonel replies, before raising his voice. “Now we all need to calm down. Captain Quasile and his men will get due restitution for their ship. As for us, we need to get moving. There’s a small dip in the ground on the edge of the jungle, we’ll camp there. Jaig and Havi, you scout the east, Hank and I will secure the west, make sure no one’s hiding out in those ruins”.






-“Let’s go. Regroup at sundown”.





-Little do they know, they are being watched. From high in a flowering tree, the two mechanical eyes of a Hunter-class Air Droid peer down at the small group of rebels.





-Unbeknownst to the Hunter, it too is being watched, by a mysterious, black-clad figure…





-Who leaps from his perch onto the back of the mechanical menace.





-A futile gesture, as the droid easily knocks off its assailant…





-Before taking off into the sky to report to its master.





-Who is none other than Bane Malar, widely considered the best bounty hunter in the galaxy and currently employed by Chief Inquisitor Tarsus himself. He receives the report along with Imperial General Yusef Quasile, one of the few non-humans deemed worthy of serving in Palpatine’s army.





-“So your little weapon has indeed worked”, the General muses. “But we did not count on the rebels surviving the crash. I do not believe my small force is capable of dealing with Cracken. He has beaten far larger units in the past”.

——“That will not be of issue,” Malar replies. “I have the Empire’s most advanced weaponry at my disposal, as well as a most kind gift from our friend, Inquisitor Dreyfus”.






-“Shade!” the bounty hunter summons Dreyfus’ commando. “Is the War Droid ready?”

——“It merely awaits your order, commander”.

-“Good. Send it out after the rebels. Make sure it’s locked in on the Hunters and Seekers frequencies to help it track. Everything is going according to plan”. Shade departs to carry out his orders, scowling under his helmet. He does not trust Malar, nor his plan.






-Elsewhere in the flowering forest, Sergeant Bass leads his men through the tree tops, towards the location of the rebel’s camp.

——“I hate this job, Doyle,” he grumbles to his Corporal. “Every planet we go to is worse than the one before. I hate heights, I hate flowers, I …






-His rant is interrupted when he whacks his head on a low branch.





-”I hate treeeeeeeeees!“ He screams out.

——”Sir“, trooper Fours says, ”I feel the need to remind you that we are on a stealth mission“.

-”I know that Fours,“ Bass grunts. ”But we’re in the top of this kriffing tree, I don’t think anybody is going to hear us. Hey, Trout, see anything back there? Any more big scary pink birds that sound like rancors?“






-”That was just a misunderstanding, sir,“ Trout, serving as rear-guard, replies.

——”Rancors don’t climb trees, soldier. I’ve got half a nerve to send you back to basic training for Xenobiology again, you dumb nerfherder“.






-”Sir, we’re in sight of the plains,“ trooper Merlin reports, bringing the squad to a halt. ”I can see two bipeds moving west towards the old temple, no sign of anyone else. Probably in the tall grass“.

——”All right. Fours, send that back to base,“ Bass orders. ”And put a call out too Goldie and Niner, make sure they’re in position. Probably looking at flowers“.






-Sure enough, the two missing squad members are not yet in position, and medic Goldie is indeed looking at flowers.

——”Sergeant CT-9977 is on the com, Trooper CT-9985. We must proceed to our designated position at once“.

-”Got it. You really ought to take the time to smell the flowers, man. That and stop calling us by our numbers. Even Fours does that“.






-Meanwhile, Cpt. Patch is supervising the rebels making of weapons out of the sticks and stones they’ve found when Sila returns to camp from a scavenging run clad in tree bark.

—”Boy, just what do you think you’re wearing?“ Patch struggles not to laugh.






-”Camouflage. It doubles as body armor, too, made it myself“ Sila answers.





-” I can see that. Now you’d best get rid of it yourself before your Colonel gets back or you’ll be the laughing stock of the Alliance“.





-A few hours later, as the sun begins to set, Col. Cracken and Hank stop to take one last look at the crumbling temple ruins before regrouping.

——”Wait“, Cracken motions for Hank to stop. ”I hear something“.






-Sure enough, a tall, red droid the likes of which the rebels have only seen in history-grams smashes through the wall in front of them.





-Shocked, the duo turns to run, with the droid in pursuit.





-Hank, seeing a chance to escape, scrambles up a wall…





-Grabbing his hand, Cracken is pulled up as well…





-But the droid will have nothing of it, crashing into the wall and tearing the crumbling rock down…





-Burying both it and the rebels.





-A few minutes later, Hank digs is way out. Looking around, and with the droid nowhere in sight, he frees his friend.





-”Was that what I think it was?“ Hank asks.

——”A Sith War Droid. We need to get the others on the move. Now!“






-By the time they reach the camp, night has fallen.

—”Patch! Get everyone moving, we’ve been spotted!“ Hank orders before pausing. ”What’s Sila wearing?“

-”Boy, I told you to get rid of all of it!“ the Patch scolds Sila.






-As the rebels scramble to leave, Cracken formulates a plan.

——”We’ll head into the jungle; there’ll be more places to hide there. Whoever laid this trap will surely have a com, we just need to find them, steal it, and…. Where’s Jaig and Havi?“






-Jaig and Havi, as a matter of fact, are learning the hard way that even a Jedi-in-training can get lost in unfamiliar rainforests. Wandering through the maze of flowering plants, they pause in a clearing to regain their bearings in the light

of Felucia’s bright moon, when Jaig hears something.






-He rushes to react, but the mysterious black-clad figure moves faster, leaping from the shadows!





-Jaig pushes the attacker away with the force…





-He stands right back up, drawing a blaster, but is Havi leaps at him…





-Knocking him back down.

—”Stop! It’s a mistake!“ he calls out.






-Jaig and Havi step back warily as the stranger stands.





-”I can see you are not Imperials. My name is Willix, Jafar Willix. I have traveled here to claim vengeance on the one who killed my father, the bounty hunter named Bane Malar. I have followed him and his Imperial cohorts here, where he is testing some new weapon“.





-”Well,“ Jaig replies. ”Perhaps we can help each other. I’m Jaig Landow, of the Rebel Alliance. We can help you find Malar, and you can help us get off-world. And help us find the rest of our party. We, um, were separated from them“.

——”Sounds good to me“, Willix answers.






-As Jaig finds a new ally, the rest of the rebels have slowly made their way into the rainforest, having decided that Jaig will be able to use his ”special Jedi powers“, as Hank puts it, to find them…





-Unaware that there every move has been recorded…





-On silent wings, Hunters circle above the forest, equipped with tracking scanners…





-While they are followed on the ground by a silent, unknown threat, both droids reporting to Bane Malar and Gen. Quasile’s squad of Scout Troopers.





-”Sir, the unknown target as joined with the two stray targets.“

——”I know,“ the bounty hunter replies calmly. ”Lock the War Droid on their position“.






-”We need to act soon, or the sun will take away our advantage. Hold back the SK Drone, it’s too expensive to risk losing“.





-”And forget those slugs,“ he continues addressing his men. ”Stealth is no longer a necessity. Ready the speeder bikes to go on my word. Make sure all men are in position“.





-Meanwhile, the Sith War Droid has caught up with Jaig, Havi, and Willix. Overcoming the shock Jaig leaps to attack it…





-But his borrowed sword merely slides off the droid’s armor, and he is casually shoved away. Willix opens fire with his blaster, to little effect…





-”Run!“ he yells, and the trio sprint off, following Willix’s sensors.





-They flee towards their comrades, who are slowly making their way through the forest.





-”Where did Sila get that necklace he’s wearing?“ Cracken turns to Patch.

——”Don’t ask…“ the one-eyed Cerean replies…”Wait, what’s that sound?“






-Havi, Jaig, and Willix crash into the space in front of them, with the War Droid in hot pursuit.





-Jaig rushes to a shocked Cracken.

——”We found our way back, sir“.






-Hidden in the brush, Bane Malar promptly gives the order: ”Go“.





-At once, the rebels are further startled at the sound of motors starting up…





-The first speeder crashes out from the brush directly in front of Grunt.





-Without flinching, the burly Baluur lunges forward, grabbing the front of the high speed machine…





-The speeder instantly spirals out of control…





-And Grunt directs it towards the War Droid, presently wrestling with Saigorr…





-And connects with explosive force!





-But that is but one speeder down, as Sargeant Bass’ squad leads the attack on the rebel band, charging into the clearing…





-And opening fire.





-The rest of the Imperial troops attack as well, and Hank proves to Patch that the bark really is blast-proof after all.





-Bane Malar has underestimated his opponents’ skills.





-And is shocked to see the tide of the battle turning against him.





-”A change of plans,“ he turns to his aid. ”Call off the attack. We’ll regroup, the scum aren’t going anywhere“.





-The order is sent out to the remaining troops.

——”Fall back men,“ Bass commands. ”Doyle, find Goldie and Niner!

-“Niner’s dead, sir”

——“Then just get Goldie. Let’s move!”






-Bane Malar is making his own retreat when a black-clad figure crashes out of the brush. Jafar Willix has found him.





-Recognizing the vengeful warrior, the bounty hunter turns to flee…





-Allowing his aid to take Willix’s first shot.

——“So you flee again coward? Stand and fight!” But Malar flees towards the sound of the battle.






-Back in the clearing, trooper Goldie struggles to start his speeder bike and join the retreat.





-Only to be shoved out of the way by a fleeing Malar.





-As the shocked medic tumbles to the ground, Jax Pavan, having been forgotten for most of the battle due to his crippled state, has aquired a fallen blaster, and takes a shot…





-Striking Goldie down as Malar flys off on his stolen speeder.





-While Doyle watches helplessly.





-Next to enter the clearing is Willix, who, seeing his quarry’s departure, promptly commandeers the next closest speeder.





-And gives chase.





-Malar attempts to evade the furious commando…





-But Jafar Willix has his sworn enemy in his sight and is not about to let him escape.





-The hunter’s speeder explodes into a ball of flame. His assailent circles back to finish the job…





-But is stopped when his own bike explodes…





-Shot down by one of Malar’s remaing scouts.





-Jafar Willix is a prisoner of war.





-Meanwhile, the battle has virtually ended in the clearing. Patch and his co-pilot, Grizzle, have tracked doen Malar’s mobile command center, overhearing and order.

——“All the troops are clear of the area, Corporal. Let’s get back to General Quasile,” the Imperial officer looks up…






-Just in time to see Patch charge out of the brush.

——“General Quasile?!” he shouts at the top of his lungs…






-Elsewhere, Crpl. Doyle drags Goldie to the rendevous point.





-Leaning over his dying brother, the trooper tries to hold together.

——“Stay calm, Goldie, we’ll patch you up, it’s gonna be okay…”

-“Come on, Doyle, you know you’re no good at optimism”, Doyle manages to smile. “That’s my niche in the team. The one who stops to smell the flowers. You were the tough guy, Trout the idiot, Niner and Fours were Spaartis. You were all so serious. I don’t know what you’re going to do without me…….”






-As the last breath fades from Goldie, the rest of his squad slowly approaches Doyle.

——“Him too?” Bass utters. “Krif. Him too. Why did it have to be Goldie?”






-After a long pause, Fours breaks the silence.

——“Sir it would be best to get moving back to base. Orders stae…”






-“No, not this time,” Bass snaps. “I’ve had it with orders from those worthless nerf-herders and their kriffing orders! I’m not going back now, not now or ever. Who’s with me?” Slowly, all four clones nod in agreement, even Fours.





-And without a word, the squad turns away into the darkness. Their footsteps echoing in the now-silent forest.





-Unaware of Bass’ desertion, General Yusef Quasile waits at the Imperial base, planning what scolding he can safely give the returning bounty hunter. But instead of Bane Malar, the speeder entering the compond instead carries Claton “Patch” Quasile.





-“So we meet again, my one-eyed brother,” Yusef sneers. “What rock have you climbed out from under this time?”





-“And you’re still catering to ol’ Yellow Eyes, I see,” Patch shouts back, casually knocking away the general’s guards as he walks into the spotlight.





-“Was that really nesecary?” Yusef snifs once his brother reaches the tank. “He’ll probably wake up with a concussion”.

——“I’ll get him health care in exchange for one of your shuttles”.]

-“What a suprise Claton. Always wanting to take my toys. Well, just so you know, I’d sooner kill you. In fact…”






-“I think I will”. The general moves fast, knocking Patch off the tank…





-And leaping down after him.





-But Patch moves just as quickly, countering his brother’s attack with one of his own…





-Which Yusef dodges.





-Scrambling to his feet, the mercenary captain turns to see his brother at the controls of the tank, attempting to run him down…





-But leaps to saftey, attacking Yusef at the same time.





-This attack to is foiled, and he is flipped over onto his back.





-In the ensuing struggle, however, Yusef loses control of the tank…





-And it careens into the platform holding the spotlight and prototype weapon.





-Hours later, the sun rises on Felucia. In the early morning, Bane Malar and his remaining troops stumble into their ruined camp.





-He rushes to the side of a moaning Cerean in the General’s uniform.

—“Get me a medic, you fools!” he shouts. “The General’s lost his eye!” The troops scramble to attention, but are suprised at the sound of one of their shuttles lifting off.






-Elsewhere, the bright tropical rays of sun iluminate the clearing where the rebels regroup and tend to their wounds. Jaig approaches Cracken.





-“Colonel, I’ve got to talk to you about something,” the young rebel whispers.

——“What’s wrong, Jaig?”

-“I’ve been thinking about this ever since Castille IV, sir, and, well, that war droid was the final straw. I should have been able to beat it. I want to be able to”.






-“What are you saying?” Cracken asks.

———“With your permission, sir, I want to resign from the squad to focus on my training as a Jedi under Master Qwarr”. After a pause, Cracken asks:

-“Have you talked to your brother about this?”

———“No, sir. I wanted to speak to you first”.

-“Well, Jaig, I’ll give you my support whichever path you take. And remember, you always have a family here”. He turns away, only to be startled by the sight and sound of an Imperial shuttle landing in the clearing.






-The entry ramp lowers and Grizzle climbs out, running first to Cracken, speaking in broken basic:

——“We leave quick, before they fix ships. Quick, quick!” He turns to hurry the rest of the group but Craken pulls him back.

-“Where’s Patch?”

———“That…that is complicated”.






-As the rebels commandeered shuttle leaves behind the jungles of Felucia, Bane Malar watches it fade into the atmosphere. He has lost the battle, but he has captured a dangerous foe, aquired new knowledge of rebel tactics, and, most importantly, Bane Malar has learned a lesson. Airen Cracken is a worthy opponent, he has beaten the hunter.





-And Bane Malar will not forgive. Or forget……

————To be continued…




ALLIANCE INTELLIGENCE
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THE GLORY OF FANGORN
 
Chapter 11Chapter 12
PRISONERS OF WAR
 
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