Coalescence, Chapter 11

Couryn plopped down on the ground, exhaustion threatening to overtake him, and stared vacantly into the sky. In some distant part of his mind, the tactical side that was always running, he realized that Katrynne had finished stabilizing the few survivors of the attack that she could, and was now attempting to get the transport up and running. The walker was too far gone, but he figured Katrynne just needed something to do.

Dimly, he tried to recollect the events that had led him here, so swiftly and suddenly to a bloody battlefield and a squad all but annihilated.

The base had received a tip that a fugitive was meeting with someone at these co-ordinates. Couryn and his squad had been dispatched to the location where they found the fugitive, Jon-ah, practically waiting for them.

Why the man hadn’t tried to escape on their approach, Couryn wasn’t quite sure, but he suspected that Jon-ah hadn’t been entirely able to leave his training or his loyalties behind. Instead of running, the fugitive had quickly tried to warn them of an attack.

The attack came, just as Jon-ah said it would, and went south fast. If not for the fortuitous arrival of the gray-haired Jedi, the mercs probably would have overwhelmed their position rather handily. But just when they seemed to be in the clear, the ferocious Sith woman appeared, toyed with the old Jedi for a minute or two, and then left with him unconscious and strapped across the back of her speeder.

Finally, another two Jedi had shown up, one of whom had proceeded to immediately turn his focus to healing the survivors. Then, just as suddenly, this healer, the senior of the two Jedi, had left in pursuit of the Sith over the objections of his student. And now, said student was pacing.

“I thought Jedi were supposed to be calm and all that,” he said to the young padawan, not really expecting an answer.

Ky-an turned to face him with an abashed grin. “I’m still working on that.”

“Your master seemed to recognize this Sith when I described her,” Couryn continued, more to take his mind off the wounded and dead than anything else. “What can you tell me about her?”

The young Jedi shifted. “Honestly, not much. I think the only reason we’re even on this planet is because my master’s been looking for her.”

“She’s the reason we’re all here, apparently.”

Both Ky-an and Couryn were startled by Jon-ah’s comment. When no one spoke any further, the fugitive continued.

“I was contacted a few months ago by an individual who wished to keep his identity a secret for a job: to track down a certain redhead by the name of Lilandra. I’m guessing that’s your master,” he said, pointing his finger accusingly at Ky-an.

Standing up off the speeder he’d been sitting on since the Jedi arrived, Jon-ah moved over to a slightly shaded outcropping and sat down. “I tracked her here, and once I confirmed that I had a solid lead on her, I let my employer know. Shortly after that, I was contacted by a man with silver hair, who said he had some information for me, and set up a meeting here.”

Couryn sat up as Jon-ah mentioned the man with the silver hair. “The guy who tipped us off about a wanted fugitive in this area.”

Jon-ah nodded. “Yup. I don’t know how this older Jedi you mentioned plays into it, but I’ve got a sneaky suspicion this whole thing was arranged rather precisely.”

“And I’ve seen your file,” Couryn answered. “You’re the kind of man who’s “sneaky suspicion” I’d wager on.”

Jon-ah proffered almost a self-mocking little bow, and Ky-an tensed even further.

“But that means my master could be heading right into a trap.”

Couryn looked into the young Zabrak’s eyes. “Sorry, buddy. But it looks that way…”

The padawan appeared torn; if Couryn had to guess, he was probably trying to decide if he should hop on his own speeder and follow Sreya, or trust his master and stay with the wounded.

Jon-ah, evidently, picked up on the same thing. “Kid, trust me, if he’s been looking for her, he knows what he’s getting in to.”

Ky-an did not appear any more at ease.

“Sarge!” It was Katrynne. “Incoming recovery transport!”

That was apparently all Ky-an needed to hear to reach his decision. He had already started toward his speeder when Couryn stood and approached Jon-ah. Kneeling down beside the still slightly dazed cyborg, he quickly applied one end of a restraining clamp to Jon-ah’s wrist and the other to the ankle of a nearby dead soldier.

“Hey!”

“Sorry, but I need you to return with the survivors on the transport and turn yourself in,” Couryn told him. “You’re still a wanted fugitive.”

Jon-ah frowned at him. “That’s gratitude for you.”

“I repeat: you will accompany the wounded troopers back to base Echo-One-Niner and turn yourself in to the established authorities.”

Jon-ah offered Couryn a mocking salute. “Sir, yes sir, that sounds both logical and likely, I’ll be sure to do just that sir.”

Couryn highly doubted the man’s sincerity in that regard. In fact, he was pretty sure Jon-ah would make short work of the manacles, but since he couldn’t accompany Jon-ah to the base, this was the only way he could be sure the fellow would get away and Couryn could still keep his hands clean.

“Thanks for your help today, Jon-ah, I mean it.”

Jon-ah offered another gesture in return, to which Couryn responded with a grin. The whine of a speeder told him that Ky-an had already left in pursuit of his master.

“Katrynne, grab your cannon and get the old man’s speeder prepped,” he barked, offering Jon-ah a wink. Jon-ah turned his head slightly to the side in dawning comprehension.

“Sir?” came Katrynne’s questioning reply.

“We’re about to play cavalry.”

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