Smurths and Smithies Chapter 3 Based on a true story.
I had turned the corner down a new hallway and made it three and a half steps before the floor dropped out from under me, literally. A quick twenty foot drop and then I hit the sandy floor, landing on my side. The impact stunned me so by the time I could move again, several Smurths had gathered above me, grinning down through the trapdoor.
Surprisingly I still had a hold of Danielle’s E-11 blaster, and I was tempted to fire a few shots at the Smurths, but before I could decide Pedro landed on top of me and the trapdoor slammed shut. I broke his fall nicely so he was on his feet in a moment, lightsaber buzzing to life and lighting the long hall.
“Gimme a hand up, would you?" I asked him. He helped me to my feet, apologizing for landing on me.
“Eh, no problem," I told him, “So I take it Jewels wasn’t happy to see you sneaking back."
“Didn’t see Jewels," he replied, “Victoria caught me on the way back."
“I see. You still have your saber. How’d that happen?"
“Victoria was in a hurry to throw me down here. Said something about keeping George waiting. Who the hell is George, man?"
In accordance with the laws of timing and comedy, a roar echoed down the hallway, shaking the walls.
I jerked a thumb in the direction of the noise, “I’m willing to bet that’s him."
“Well it’s not a chupacabra!"
Stomping footsteps shook the floor and we knew we’d been scented by the giant beast. I shrugged and ran for it, Pedro right behind me. We didn’t run very far; the hallway ended in a blank wall.
I took a moment to examine the wall, expecting a doorway but not finding one.
“Why did they paint this wall, man?" Pedro asked, confused.
I scratched at it and it flaked off on my fingers, “Hmm... I think that’s blood."
We turned around and faced towards the oncoming rancor. I could see its shadow now, stretching across the sandy floor, and I clicked off the blaster’s safety. No stun setting just now.
“How do you kill a rancor?" I asked Pedro, hoping that in his travels he had accomplished this feat.
“I was about to ask you," he responded. I had to grin at that.
I thought Pedro had said something. “You don’t have to whisper, Pedro, it already knows we’re here."
“No, guys, over here," someone female said. The voice came through a very small grate in the wall.
“Jewels!" Pedro exclaimed, rushing to the bars. His lightsaber extinguished and the hallway fell into near darkness. There was one of those romantic moments where they held hands as best they could with the steel grate being in the way.
“Pedro, ifIcouldborrowyourlightsaberforasecond,I’llbuyusalittletime!" I said hurriedly, for the rancor had turned the corner and spotted us. He tossed the weapon to me without looking, engaged in earnest conversation with the Smurth. Blindly I caught the saber and it hissed to life as I flourished it before me. The rancor barely slowed in view of the lightsaber, and it lashed out at me with a huge clawed hand. All those stun blasts had made me slow. The rancor pinned my lower half to the wall, fortunately missing my ribs. I cut a deep gouge in its arm and it dropped me. I fell on my knees, painfully sucking in air, but I raised the E-11 and squeezed off a three round burst into the rancor’s open mouth. It staggered back, but was only burned.
A deep rumble, not rancor in origin, began, almost drowned out by the beast’s howling. Gears were turning and a door was slowly raising. Pedro must have worked out a deal. Just in time I realized the rancor had recovered enough to take a swing at me and I rolled away, barely avoiding decapitation. I lashed out again with the saber, cutting off a couple of the huge clawed fingers, and then sprinted for the door.
Door, where was the door? There was the grate… “Sith spit!" The door had slammed shut and Pedro was on the other side. I ran to the grate and by the glow of the lightsaber I could see Pedro and Jewels.
“Jewel’s, how could you do this to me?" I asked sarcastically. Behind me the rancor was still roaring in pain.
I could tell by Pedro’s expression that he wasn’t happy about what the Smurth had done, but there was nothing he could do to change her mind.
“I’m sorry, man…," he started, but I shook my head and cut him off.
“Mind if I keep the saber for a while longer?" I asked him. He grinned and nodded. “Then get out of here while the getting’s good… though I think a tame Smurth is a better deal than this oversized chupacabra you’ve left me with."
And with that I wall-walked up the door, back flipping over the rancor’s claws as it tried to grab me, and then dashed off down the hallway, leaving the lumbering beast behind.
Early that morning at Smith House, about an hour before Pedro busted in and untied me, search parties were preparing to move out into the morning and look for Pedro. All of Smith House was surprised that Pedro hadn’t just come in on his own, and my name was only mentioned when someone to blame was needed. All over Mos Eisley’s Old Quarter sentients decided to stay home as rumors spread that the Smithies and Smurths were at it again. Justin Cothern had insisted on breaking out the Tenloss Disruptors to cover Smurthwaite’s exits, so sniper pairs were dispatched, and all our heavy repeaters were distributed to those that had guard duty. Justin took up his weapons and set out on his own.
Justin was a little off. He suffered a head injury in a podracing accident that left him that way. He carried a lightsaber, but preferred two dagger length vibroblades in combination with Force enhanced speed. His Force speed capabilities were highly advanced; he was very hard to catch when he activated his Force powers. His choice of weapons was frowned upon by Smithies, no stun setting, so Shawn required the off-kilter killer to use knock-out poison on the blades. A small scratch and a human sized target would take about five seconds to drop unconscious.
As Justin left Smith House, Shawn had a quick discussion with Trevor, who consequently set out to watch Justin’s back.
So at about the time Pedro was untying me, Justin was poised to infiltrate Smurthwaite, four three-man teams were searching along the Old Quarter-New Quarter boarder for Pedro, and three two-man sniper teams had Smurthwaite in the crosshairs.
Justin entered Smurthwaite through a second story window. Smurthwaite had a courtyard in front and on both sides surrounded by a ten foot wall, and Justin made his leap directly from outside this wall. Reaching out with the Force he located me, and then, to his surprise, Pedro. This explained Pedro not coming to Smith House. Concealing himself as much as possible in a doorway he flipped on his com-link and contacted the search parties.
Outside a junk shop Sebastian left off arguing with a Twi-lek in its native tongue and replied to Justin.
“Sebastian here. What’s going on, Justin?"
“The Smurths have Pedro, too."
“Pedro Two?! How’d they get Jonathan?" exclaimed Sebastian.
“No no, the Smurths have Pedro also!" was the annoyed response. A Smithy listening in on a third com-link laughed, but Justin ignored it and went on, “I’m going to get a few details and then I’ll contact…"
Sebastian waited for moment when Justin didn’t finish his sentence. “Justin?! Justin come in!"
Justin didn’t answer. He just stood there, eyes locked with the Smurth Lauren, who had come face to face with the Smithy quite unexpectedly. First Justin noticed how good looking she was. Then he noticed the black-bladed vibrosword in her hand.
“I’ll call you right back," he told Sebastian hurriedly and flipped shut the com-link. “Hi, how are you?" he asked her quickly, knowing if he made a move for his blades or saber he was a dead man. She continued to stare in surprise, mouth slightly agape.
“You’re Lauren, right?"
At her name she flinched and Justin made a break for it. Fast as Justin was, Lauren still grazed him across his broad shoulder with her virbrosword, the razor edge splitting flesh and nicking his shoulder blade as his he sped away, just a blur. He wall walked as he turned the corner, flipping up across empty space to land in a high alcove beside a strangely carved stone statue. A few seconds later, Lauren ran past, yelling frantically into her com-link, broadcasting Justin’s presence to all of Smurthwaite.
Jacob and Seth were the sniper pair watching Smurthwaite’s back entrance and they watched unhappily as the palace went into lockdown, grates slamming shut over windows and guards appearing on balconies. Trevor had joined Jacob and Seth to let them know Justin was inside, and he cursed as he turned on his com-link to get Shawn’s advice on the situation. Shawn’s advice was, predictably, “Stay where you are so things don’t get worse!"
“Yea, sure," Seth said after Trevor related what Shawn had advised. Both snipers immediately began packing up their gear.
“What are you guys doing?" Trevor asked.
Jacob gave him a look that spoke volumes, and replied, “We’re still missing several hundred thousand credits that Pedro was carrying, on top of having three Smithies trapped inside Smurthwaite. We can’t just sit here."
“What are you suggesting we do?"
“Let’s go get Fallin back," Seth suggested, “We can at least trade him for Pedro maybe."
Jacob chuckled. The thought of trading Fallin for Pedro struck him as funny. Trevor however was not amused. “Look guys, Shawn knows what he’s talking about. Give him time to think of something. We just saw Smurthwaite go into lockdown, it’s likely that at least Justin is still loose inside there. If he gets out he’ll need cover."
Seth slammed the power cell clip back into his Tenloss Disruptor, “All right, we’ll give it two hours." He flipped a switch on the side of the blaster, “But I’m vaporizing any Smurths I see!"
“No!" both Trevor and Jacob answered quickly. Grumbling, Seth switched it back to stun.
Back inside Smurthwaite, Justin was whispering into the com-link telling Sebastian what had happened when the roaring of the rancor echoed up from the basement. Reaching out with the force he got a good idea of my predicament and Pedro’s escape from the rancor. He hopped down from the alcove and went the direction Lauren had gone, working his way swiftly down towards the lower levels.
Meanwhile I as discovering that I had a deep and abiding dislike of rancors. I hacked and slashed at it again and again, but for all the damage I did it never slowed, forever seeking to shish kabob me with its huge claws. Once I dodged past it I discovered that the large hallway was very long indeed. The sandy floor ended and I found myself shin deep in foul smelling water. I had gained a lead on the rancor which finally seemed to be slowing. Through the force I could sense Justin drawing closer and Pedro moving away.
Pedro was let out through a back tunnel by Jewels, and only avoided getting shot by a pair of sentries because of Seth’s and Jacob’s quick trigger fingers. Trevor got Pedro safely away, under fire, covered by Seth and Jacob as more Smurths appeared at windows. A fierce blasterfight ensued, Smurths rushing to the windows thus clearing the way for Justin inside Smurthwaite.
I rushed on till the water was up to my knees and the light was dim, and then I stopped. Any farther and I wouldn’t have a chance of fighting rancor. Though I’d been unconscious off and on to stun blasts I was suffering from lack of sleep, and they hadn’t fed me, except to the rancor. I was in bad shape. Through the dim light the gigantic beast advanced and I emptied Danielle’s blaster as soon as the distance was right. It shrugged off the searing energy blasts and kept coming. From habit I holstered the E-11 blaster before drawing Pedro’s lightsaber.
Suddenly sparks showered down upon me from the ceiling. I looked up to see a green saber burning through a manhole. The iron disk splashed into the water in front of me, sending water into my eyes. Frantically I pawed it out while Justin yelled down at me. Before I could answer him the rancor took a swing at me, flinging me backwards to land sprawling in the water. The rancor advanced.
Justin’s a little off. He dropped through the manhole down on the rancor’s head, attacking it not with his lightsaber but with his daggers. I regained my feet and watched as the madman tore at the back of the beast’s head with both daggers, slashing intermittently at the rancor’s claws as it tried to grab him. It finally caught him by the leg, dragged him off and smashed him against the wall. I went to Justin’s aid and attacked the rancor from the front. It let go of Justin, who dropped and caught himself with the Force to land on his feet.
“Let’s get out of here!" he shouted, and I heartily agreed. In a flash we both Force jumped out of the manhole, leaving the rancor behind, wounded and unfed. I found myself in Smurthwaite’s dungeon, as dark and depressing a place as I’ve ever seen.
“Justin, I trust you can get us out of here," I told him. He nodded and we set off as quickly as we could, injured and bruised as we were. Fortunately we met no one and came to a back door without incident. We went out a first floor window to the right of the back door and found the street strangely silent.
“I don’t think we have sniper cover anymore," Justin whispered.
It was true, all the snipers had been driven back after Rebecca took command of the sentries and distributed Flechettes which they used to lob exploding mines up onto the surrounding buildings. The snipers abandoned their positions before anyone was seriously wounded, but that left Justin and me in a ticklish situation.
A thought occurred to me. “You know… the Smurths still have my lightsaber…"
Justin gave me a look, “And people say I’m crazy ‘cause of my blades. You and that saber! I remember when you jumped right off a cliff after it."
“The cliff was easier to deal with than these Smurths…," I mumbled, thinking. At this point it was way beyond foolishness to go back in after my lightsaber, as much as I might want it back. Painfully, I drew a deep breath. That rancor had seriously roughed me up. Justin wasn’t much better. I asked him about the cut across his shoulder.
“It’s a vibrosword cut from the one named Lauren," he answer, sounding less angry than he should have. “Hey, we gotta get moving or one of the Smurths will find us."
“To the left, along the building and then the wall. We’ll have cover for longer," I suggested. He nodded.
We were nearly in the clear and Justin sent me ahead. I crossed the road into the shadow of the next building, checked the Smurth sentries and then beckoned to Justin. He was halfway across when a light repeater ripped out a short burst that barely missed Justin and he sprinted the rest of the way at top speed. Once safely behind the building with me he took a cautious look back at Smurthwaite. In an open window towards the rear of the building stood the Smurth Lauren and she waved at us.
“I didn’t have to miss!" she called. Justin waved back and then got out of range, headed for Smith House. And me, I was one step ahead of him.
George is the name of the garbage disposal at Smurthwaite. He is known to vomit on people when he is switched on. This tempermental piece of machinery quickly became a rancor in my mind.
Chupacabras are mentioned with all apologies to Pedro for all the jokes we made.
Pedro Two is a very obscure reference to Jonathan Greene's nickname Duece, which is itself a rather obscure reference to Greene's tastes and habits that echo Pedro's, who joined Smith House a year before Greene and I.
And at the risk of digging up old bones:
As it says in the title, this is based on a true story. People made their debut in the story based on need for their character, or, more dangerously, my interaction with them.
Lauren appears here, and then lets Jesse and Justin escape, because during the time this was written, Justin was gunning for Lauren, if I make myself clear.
I have since gotten more careful about including these things. Fortunately, Lauren would later prove to be a most useful character.