Smurths and Smithies Chapter 17 Based on a true story.
Naboo is a beautiful planet. The splendor was lost on Seth as he arrived from space in pursuit of Jordan Lemmons. Tony however was struck by the blue green beauty and commented on it to the other new man, Tyrel, as they sped over the Naboo wilderness.
“Somehow that looks like home… which is odd because I grew up in the New Republic base on Kile.”
“In the Zhar system?”
“That’s right. That airless moon looked nothing like this.”
“Then why does it look like home?”
Seth cut in, “Would you two cut the chatter and find Jordan? We’re pressed for time here.”
“Sure thing,” Tony replied.
“I’ve got something on my scanner…,” Tyrel observed, tone rapidly becoming concerned, “It’s too small to be a ship, but coming fast. Gaining altitude.”
Waa! Waa! De!De!De!De!De!... The cockpit of Tyrel’s starfighter, BraveMind, was suddenly filled with a cacophony of alarms.
“It’s a missile!”
“It’s tracking you! Gun it, get a lead on it! I’ll swing around and shoot it down!” Tony instructed as he banked hard right. Tyrel accelerated to top speed, delaying the approach of the missile.
Tony finished his wide turn and got behind Tyrel and the missile. He struggled to get a lock on it.
“Anytime now!” Tyrel pleaded. Tony took a shot, missing the missile and grazing the BraveMind.
“Sorry,” Tony gritted his teeth and tried again, destroying the missile and then diving below the blast radius. As he did so, anti-air fire ripped up from the forest below. Rolling to avoid the projectiles he incidentally avoided a second seeker missile that roared up from below. Its sensors locked onto Seth’s starfighter, the Blade of Light, which Seth had slowed to see how the new men fared in battle.
Tony and Seth watched as the missile screamed towards Seth, who made no move to accelerate. In fact, Seth did quite the opposite. As soon at the proximity warning flashed on the Blade’s control panel, Seth engaged and throttled the starfighter’s powerful reverse thrusters. It was as if the ship stopped in midair and did a back flip as the missile sped by below, unable to react to the sudden movement of its target. With second nature deftness Seth opened fire and destroyed the missile. It blew up only meters in front of the Blade of Light’s nose, but the starfighter’s thick prow armor and heavy forward shielding took the blast without harm. Bursts of ack-ack continued to rip up from the tree cover below, forcing the three to weave across the sky.
“Let’s get to ground. There’s a villa about three klicks ahead. We’ll land there and secure it,” Seth instructed, “It the most defensible place in the area.”
Tony and Tyrel accelerated and followed Seth, but Tyrel switched frequencies and spoke to Tony alone, “Wouldn’t we be safer off the ground?”
“You wanna miss the chance for a fight?” Tony asked.
Tyrel wasn’t pleased, “If those are Smurths, we’re screwed.”
Tony chuckled, “If those were Smurths, we’d be dead.”
* * *
When Marshall and the rest of the Smithies arrived above Naboo they were immediately contacted by Seth and made it to the villa without incident. The villa was deserted, only recently by the looks of it, and the men secured its perimeter, keeping a wary eye on the surrounding forest. It wasn’t more than an hour before the villa came under fire from the tree line.
“They’re staying well hidden,” Seth remarked to Tyrel, after peering through the scope of his Tenloss-disrupter for the better part of an hour. The two lay flat on the highest roof of the villa.
“Why are we here? We can fly out of here any time,” Tyrel asked.
Tyrel waited a moment, expecting more. “Right what?”
“We can leave at any time. Apparently Naboo is in quite a bit of trouble. We’d like to see who’s causing it. And if we can kill a few and get some info for the Naboo government, all the better.”
“You guys are going to have to pick up the nuances of this lifestyle a little faster.”
“Eh.” Tyrel was nonplussed.
Almost casually Seth told Tyrel to duck. A turbolaser blast narrowly missed the roof and another slammed into the wall below them.
“Oh Sith spit. They’ve set up cannon.”
It was at this moment that I finally got through to them on the subspace radio. The transmission was sent from the SmurthBane to the Blade of Light to Seth’s com-link. I’d been trying for several hours to get in touch with a Smithy, any Smithy.
“Come in Smith House, come in. Somebody talk to me.”
Seth flipped open his com-link and answered, “This is Seth, go ahead?”
“Seth, excellent. This is Jesse. What are you doing on Naboo?”
Tyrel snatched the com-link, “Oh my gosh, are you Naboo security forces? You’ve got hostile armed forces on the ground! They’re attacking a villa about 80 klicks south of Theed. They have cannon trained on us; the building is taking a hell of a beating! Stuff’s blowing up all over!”
I held the com-link away from my ear and regarded it askance before speaking again, “…Am I talking to the right House?”
Seth grabbed back the com-link, “Dammit Tyrel! Jesse, ignore him. That was one of the new men. Master Renaldo didn’t exactly send us veterans.”
“They’ll shape up,” I could hear explosions in the background, “What are you doing on Naboo? I thought you were going to Tatooiine.”
“Can you speak up a bit? Someone’s trying to kill us,” Seth replied.
“I thought you were going to Tatooiine,” I repeated.
“The New Republic set up an embassy there. They would have been waiting for us.”
“Alright. Why Naboo?”
“Jordan Lemmons, the informant, has joined us,” Seth answered, “He said he had a place for us to hide here.”
“And now you’re under attack,” I observed wryly.
“Actually we lost Jordan. He jumped the gun and headed here. Family trouble, I think.”
I sighed, “I see… well, don’t get yourself killed before I arrive, we’re a long way from you.”
* * *
Geonosis is one of my least favorite planets. Zeltros scares me more, but Geonosis smells way worse. And it was to Geonosis that Green and Brandon had tracked the Smurths holding Shawn and Crow captive. I’ve always been glad it was them and not me.
“That’s definitely the Veiled Perfection,” Greene announced as he and Brandon cruised through Geonosis’s upper atmosphere.
“I’ve got nothing on my sensors,” Brandon replied.
“It’s the big empty spot by the second tallest rock spire when you switch to elemental scan,” Greene told him.
Greene had realized that to find something that can’t be detect, you detect everything else and look for the space where everything else is absent.
“You suppose they’ll see us?”
“They won’t be looking. They think they’re hidden.”
“Then let’s go!” Brandon moved to dive.
Greene maneuvered his P-38 starfighter, the Emmigrant, to block Brandon, “There’s a literal army down there if the Veiled Perfection is fully manned. Plus Geonosians. The damn bugs fill those catacombs. We either need a plan or more help.”
* * *
“Out!” Meryl barked at the trandoshans lounging in the Lady of the Night’s mess hall as she walked in, followed by Lauren Sturn. One hissed at her, and slouched even more in his seat. Zzzuuzzz. Meryl’s purple lightsaber made one of the trandoshan’s stubby horns even stubbier. “Out! Now!”
As the reptiles scrambled for the exits, Meryl deactivated her saber and clipped it back to her belt. She turned to face Lauren, who cocked an eyebrow and asked, “Something wrong?”
“Nothing… and everything,” Meryl replied.
“You’ve been irritable since Nar Shadda.”
“Smurthwaitians died under my command in that cantina!”
Lauren took hold of Meryl’s arm, “Meryl, you couldn’t know those Smithies would react with lethal force. We’ve never known them to renounce their oaths… They’ve been remarkably tolerant of us shooting at them.”
Meryl sighed, “Exactly, we’re fighting men who don’t want to fight us, who cannot hurt us by the oaths they’ve taken. And I killed them, Lauren, those two Smithies. How can I do that? How can we do that?”
“Because they’re dangerous to others. They upset the balance of the Force, you’ve told me yourself you’ve felt the disturbance they create. It’s a Mandate of Smurthwaite to oppose Smith House, and the new Republic has contracted us to bring them all in, dead or alive.”
“Why does our Mandate require us to oppose the Smithies?” Meryl asked, the question making Lauren raise her eyebrows in alarm. Questioning the Mandate of Smurthwaite was not encouraged. “In power they’re practically Jedi. They’re hard to kill, you’ve seen it yourself. And the Force favors them.”
Lauren was shocked, “Favors them? They’re renegades! Heathens, without respect for the light or the dark side. Shoffner said…”
“Shoffner is wrong. On Correlia, Justin survived a concussion missile at point blank range and a thousand foot plummet into the ocean. Sam and Jesse survived the crash. I got a look at the crash sight. From that height they should have practically vaporized on impact.” Meryl smacked her fist into her palm to illustrate, “But they nearly landed the front half of the ship using the Force. And they could sense us even though I had the entire group cloaked in invisibility. Jedi Master Kyle Katarn could barely sense me through the cloak I create, but Sam defended every strike as if he could see me.”
“They got lucky,” Lauren suggested, “You killed the two on Nar Shadda with no trouble.”
“They weren’t Smithies any longer. They lost whatever enchantment they had when they renounced their oaths. I felt it happen. Their connection to the Force weakened. And they still almost took my head off when I got close.”
Lauren shook her head, “This doesn’t make any sense. How could Shoffner and Beth miss this?”
Meryl shrugged, “I don’t know. They were fighting Smithies before we ever were.”
“They haven’t seen combat for quite awhile. Maybe something changed,” Lauren suggested.
There was a moment of silence before Meryl spoke again, “Now you’ve got something on your mind.”
“I’ve been given command of a squad of the new Smurthwaitians. We found out Jordan Lemmons joined the Smithies, and we’re taking steps to keep him from being useful to them. The plan is already in motion; I’m on my way to Naboo to oversee the next step. How can I protect the girls in my command?”
Meryl smiled, “I don’t think you have anything to fear. These new Smurths are not so battle hardened as us. They will not fight unless they have to, they’ll find a way to deal with the Smithies that we who have fought them for so long would never think of.”
The conversation between Meryl and Lauren was much appreciated by the Smurths. The discussion it sparked on Facebook in the comments left was a debate on whether the Houses could actually make peace. Sara Lynde said she hoped peace would come, until I told her she would have to give up her flamethrower. She has still not been able to decide.