Way of the Warrior

2 years prior to The Force Awakens...
A persistent and interactive galaxy set shortly before the events of Episode VII

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Way of the Warrior

Post by Cadden » Sun May 01, 2016 7:30 am

A flash of lightning, the crackling of thunder. He remained unphased as he remained in his prone position, lining up the scope of his sniper rifle with the doorway of the building below. The weather was taking a turn for the worse, but it would prove far more beneficial to him in the long haul. He didn't typically prefer to use such an impersonal weapon to fulfill his contracts, but in this particular case it proved to be the best choice for the job.

The rain started to come down. At first it was just a sprinkle, but within a couple minutes it turned into a downpour. The thunder and lightning were getting closer, as even through his helmet he could hear the deafening booming nearly overhead. He continued to watch, waiting patiently for his mark to show himself. He flexed his firing hand to avoid it from cramping up. The last thing he needed was to alert the few guards on the ground of his presence by misfiring.

The door opened, and he lined up the shot. He squeezed his trigger finger, applying just enough pressure to keep the rifle from firing. It wasn't his target. The finger relaxed as he watched the middle-aged man depart from the building. Following him was a green-skinned Twi'lek, with tattoos covering his lekku. He stood just slightly shorter than the human he followed and matched the description of his target perfectly. He lined up the shot, and squeezed the trigger.

A single noise erupted from the rifle, quieted only by the downpour of rain. Lightning flashed a few miles away, followed by the crashing sound of thunder, as he watched his target fall to the ground. He discarded the sniper rifle after a few seconds and leapt off the ledge, falling to the ground floor. At the last second, he engaged his jetpack's thrusters, allowing him to safely land.

He unholstered one of his blaster carbines and, with precision aim, fired at the five guards in the area. Two of the guards managed to impact his armor harmlessly before going down, but the first three were too slow to react to his sudden presence and fell in the first volley of laserfire. He brought his gauntlet up and fired his fibercord at the now-running man, snaring him and causing him to fall gracelessly, face first, onto the concrete. Another blaster bolt hit him, this time nearly striking one of the open portions of his armor, and he turned his head to see three more guards rounding the corner. He raised his gauntlet a second time and fired a pair of rockets at the oncoming men, taking all three out upon impact.

He knew more would soon come, and had to act fast. First the Twi'lek. He knelt beside the dead body and took a blood sample while using his helmet's software interface to scan his target for identification purposes. Once complete, he got back on his feet and approached the human, desperately trying to untangle himself to get away. He pushed the man back to the ground with his foot and came in close, combat knife out and lightly pressed against his neck. "If you want to live, tell me everything you know about Aloran's operations," he said, triggering his recording software.

"H-His slave trade is based out of the Slums," the man frantically said. "Good chance you'd find him there. I-I heard... I heard there's an auction tonight.…"

The bounty hunter lightened the pressure against the man's neck. "Do you know why you're still alive, while your associate there is dead?" The man shook his head slightly, careful not to cause the blade to slice his neck. "Because you're worth more alive." A gloved fist delivered a swift blow to the man's skull, rendering him unconscious.

"This way," he heard someone yell. He slung the limp man over his shoulder and fired up his jetpack, propelling him up to the rooftop. As he landed he looked over his shoulder to ensure nobody saw him before retrieving the sniper rifle and making his way back to his ship.

The Firespray-31-class patrol and attack craft was not a common ship to find, especially so long after its initial release to market, and for a while he had to contend with the legendary popularity that stemmed from Boba Fett's use of his own ship, the Slave I. But he was able to use that popularity to his advantage, exploiting the galaxy's naivete over the bounty hunter's skills and appearance to boost his own reputation. It was starting to pay off. He dragged the unconscious man into one of the ship's holding cells and made his way back to the cockpit.

Two down, one to go, he thought as he pulled up a map of the Slums and looked it over. He would not be able to go into the area like this, he quickly assessed. The Slums were likely to be patrolled by Aloran's thugs rather liberally, if he was indeed holding an auction that night. This would require a far more subtle approach.

Ten minutes later, he was out of his armor and wearing a pair of dark pants, black boots, and a black leather jacket with dark red linings over a light grey shirt. While he would be at a disadvantage without his armor, he made up for it with his anonymity. Few outside his followers knew what he looked like behind the T-shaped visor of his helmet. Those that knew him by his increasing reputation would only recognize him by his blood-red and black armor.

Strapped to his right hip was a single DL-18 blaster pistol, and tucked in his boot a single knife. He approached the boarding ramp of the ship and narrowed his eyes in the direction of the Slums. It was nearly dark, now; he didn't have much time.

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Re: Way of the Warrior

Post by Cadden » Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:59 am

"Do I hear three hundred?" the auctioneer yelled among the gathered crowd. Mostly lowlife crimelords, Cadden noted, though there were a few who seemed overdressed for the occasion. Syndicate members, maybe? There were more than enough out here in the Outer Rim. Or, perhaps, shady businessmen and women looking to save a bit on their bottom line? He wagered it was a bit of both. "Three hundred," the man shouted after a patron raised a hand with a nod to signal his desire to purchase the individual on display, a fairly attractive redhead. Though she appeared somewhat starved, Cadden assessed, due no doubt to how Aloran likely handled the slaves he was selling. But he wasn't here for her, nor any of the others. While he wasn't for slavery, his moral compass couldn't exactly be defined as pointing true north, either. She had a far better fate with her future master than with him. If Cadden tried a frontal assault he would likely fail, and if she clung to him as her personal savior she'd be dead, or worse. He couldn't go back for her, or any of the others, either, seeing as Aloran's thugs would be on him the second he got a shot off. He would be at a disadvantage, either way.

Cadden pushed himself through the crowd that had gathered and made his way to the back of the auction. There he saw three armed individuals, no doubt part of Aloran's entourage, overseeing the proceedings. They paid him no mind as he walked away from the auction. He hadn't seen Aloran, yet. Where was he? Cadden narrowed his eyes in suspicion. If Drego gave him bad information.…

"Six hundred credits, to the Abednedo," the auctioneer hollared. Cadden's ignored the announcement and started back toward the plaza entrance. "We will now bring out the rarer stock," the man continued. "Fighters, or those built as such. Capable as bodyguards, personal soldiers, whatever your heart desires." Cadden stopped and turned to the auction block. Within seconds of the man's announcement, his target showed himself.

Aloran was a stocky man, standing at maybe ten centimeters taler than him, Cadden guessed, and estimated his muscular frame to give him about two hundred and fifteen pounds of power for him to contend with. This was definitely the guy, Cadden knew, drawing from memory the profile he had on his target. He didn't dare make himself known, so he had no choice but to bring with him only his minimal gear needed to get the job done. It was already a gamble, upon itself, but he had been trained well, and didn't think Aloran's thugs would give him too much of a fight. He needed to take Aloran out while he had the chance, and making himself known in his armor would be a quick way to lose his target.

Cadden decided it would be best not to use close quarters combat. He was more than capable, but if Aloran's appearance leant any credit to his capabilities, it would only require one mistake for him to lose the fight. Hell, even an amateur fighter of Aloran's build could down a well-trained combatant with one lucky hit.

As soon as he was sure he was out of view from anyone noteworthy, Cadden entered one of the buildings surrounding the plaza. He'd scoped the area out, earlier, and took note of the locations of the guards on the rooftops he was able to see. Cadden climbed up the stairs, but ducked into a door leading to one of the building's hallways when he heard footsteps descending the stairwell. He pressed his ear against the door and waited.

"… Some trouble back at the club," he made out a man's voice as he and his companion walked down the stairs. "Heard Seylas bit it, and Drego up and disappeared."

"Think he was captured?" the other asked.

"Don't know, but boss is on edge." Cadden heard the console beep and the door opened right on front of him. The two individuals, both human, looked at him for a second, and that was all the time Cadden needed. He brought his hand forward and slammed it into one of the men's larynx. Without skipping a beat, Cadden intercepted the blaster pistol the other one unholstered. While grappling his arm, he swung around and secured the man in place, bringing the borrowed blaster pistol up to his head.

"Don't do anything stupid," Cadden warned the man. He spared a glance at the other, who was struggling to catch his breath while in the fetal position. He wouldn't be getting back up anytime soon, Cadden knew. The window of opportunity was quickly closing, and he had to act fast. He only had one option, and so brought the man back out to the stairwell and shoved him over the railing. The man started to stammer as he was but mere inches from falling to the first floor below. It wouldn't be enough to kill him, but Cadden would place money on the notion he wouldn't walk again.

"Ah, ah," he tried to speak, "no-no-no-no-no… I'll... I'll do whatever you want, just... just don't…." Cadden let him go, and slammed his head against the railing. He threw the man back toward the door before looking back up the stairs. Only two storeys left to climb.

He made it to the rooftop without further incident and found his target. The sniper was positioned with his back to the door, though Cadden didn't know how long it would last. He was quick to get to work, and grabbed him by the collar before sliding his knife across his throat and letting him collapse to the ground. Cadden picked up the fallen rifle and got into place. Aloran was still there, thankfully, though it looked like he was gearing up to return to whatever hole he crawled out of. Cadden would only get one chance at this, and he'd have maybe a mere handful of seconds to get out of the way from the inevitable return fire. Cadden reached into his pocket and produced a portable display. He activated the device and placed it over his right eye. After it finished booting up he silently triggered the recording option and returned to his scope. He leveled its sight on his target. Steady... steady.…

A single shot rang out and the blaster bolt landed Aloran dead center on the forehead. The man collapsed backwards onto the duracrete floor of the auction block and slave and prospective buyer alike scrambled in panic, terrified for their lives. Cadden threw the rifle aside and made for his exit, keeping low to avoid detection as much as possible, and burst through the door. He already had his DL-18 out and ready to fire when he heard the commotion five storeys down.

They were already on him.

Cadden scowled and began his descent. Security was tighter than he thought; it wouldn't take long for them to corner him, and he needed a plan to get out. He descended to the floor where he encountered the two men earlier and dodged into the hallway. It would only be a matter of seconds before they'd reach his floor, and the evidence of the two men at the doorway would cause them to split up their search. Fewer men meant better odds for him. He checked each door to determine if one was unlocked, but no luck. There was nothing for it, he was trapped, and he had to make a stand. They would be more heavily armed and armored, but they were no Mandalorians.

Cadden aimed his blaster at the door leading to the stairwell and waited for his pursuers to arrive. The door opened and he took three shots. One caught an unlucky man dead center on his chest, the second grazed another, but the third impacted harmlessly against the duracrete wall in the stairwell as the remaining two dodged out of the way before they suffered the same fate as the first. Blasterfire came his way as he ducked behind what little cover the entryway to a side room provided him. He cursed under his breath and sneered in contempt as he assessed the situation. He was getting complacent, and he was behaving as though he were in his armor. He was acting like an amateur.

Cadden took a deep breath and swung from his corner. Two shots, one impacting a man in the neck and the other clipping the other man's side. They didn't have the time to react, and Cadden was already on the move. He finished the remaining mercenary off and listened for more. It was quiet, but he suspected that would change in short order. There would, no doubt, be more, very soon, and he needed to either get in the clear or find favorable ground to fight on. Cadden approached the fallen men and scooped up a blaster rifle. He checked the charges on the weapon to ensure he had enough before he drew it to a ready position. He approached the stairwell and started down after verifying no one else would come upon his position from above. He was lucky this time, but didn't dare push his luck and started down the stairs.

Cadden kept moving until he was between the first two floors, but stopped as he heard the door below open. He waited, rifle ready, and let out a single shot as the first man came around the corner. The man fell back down the stairs and someone shouted a warning in response. Cadden kept his blaster aimed at the corner and waited patiently for the next unlucky person, but they'd adapted quick. It was now a standoff, and he was at the disadvantage. They could easily wait him out as reinforcements came from above, and he would be as good as dead. Cadden eased back up and entered the door to the second floor of the building. He would be trapped if he didn't find a way out, and this time he wouldn't be so lucky.

He once again checked each door along the hallway, though none of them were unlocked. He shook his head doubtfully at his only means of escape. Cadden fired at the window at the end of the hall before he approached his escape. He tossed the rifle out the window, took a deep breath, and leaped over the ledge. He fell to the ground and felt the pain in his legs upon initial impact, even as he bent them to avoid breaking bones or causing other serious injuries, and rolled forward to redistribute the force across his body, keeping his head tucked in. He was certain he'd rolled over some of the glass, but he would have to check on his injuries after he was in the clear. He found the rifle, did a quick inspection to ensure it was still functional, and moved on.

Once Cadden cleared the area he discarded the weapon and began his trek back to the Pursuer, every now and again glancing around to check for anyone who might have followed him. He was in the clear. For now, at least. Cadden suspected that they would be monitoring the area for any escaping ships, and his wasn't exactly a discreet design, despite its equipped sensor jamming suite. He anticipated additional trouble on his way out of the system. While Aloran didn't run a massive operation, it was well under his control and Cadden wouldn't put it past him to have a few ships in his arsenal, in addition to whatever was left of the mercs he employed. Though his death would create a power vacuum, exactly what Cadden's employers were hoping for, to shut down this operation permanently they would have to move in fast. In a few days time, someone else would likely fill Aloran's boots and then they would be back to square one. But that wasn't his problem. He'd filled the contract to specifications, and they weren't paying him to wage a war. They were paying him to eliminate three key players to Andelm IV's slave trade, nothing more. If they wanted more definitive results, they would have to negotiate a new contract. And it wouldn't be cheap.

He returned to the Pursuer and donned his armor before getting to work at the ship's controls. The Firespray-31 powered up its engines and, within seconds, was lifting off the ground and ascending into the atmosphere. It didn't take long before his radar indicated two signatures inbound, and Cadden immediately got to work tuning his sensors toward the ships they belonged to. One was a VCX-100 light freighter, no doubt with the complementary starfighter attached, and the other was an Allanar N3 light freighter. Neither ship was overly impressive, granted, but they could still pose a threat to him if underestimated. They weren't altering their course, which was enough to tell him they were on an interception path and were meaning to repay him in kind for their loss. Cadden didn't deviate from his course. While he was confident he could hold his own against the incoming ships, he wasn't about to take any chances, and he had a suspicion that Drego was not all that precious a member of their operation as to consider him worth keeping around. Dead men had a tendency to talk less. The man was merely the supplier, and so he had valuable information for Cadden's employers on the source of the slaves. The Twi'lek known as Seylas was the individual who acquired the slaves for Aloran to turn around and resell. The only one of the group that was worth anything alive was Drego.

The Pursuer screamed a warning at him, immediately followed by a second, as the ship's sensors picked up two incoming missiles. They weren't keen on trying to talk him down. Cadden waited as the missiles closed the gap and, seconds away from what would have been impact he released two countermeasures. The chaff bursts did their job and the missiles exploded prematurely and safely away from the Pursuer. Cadden didn't want to risk direct conflict, however, and continued to race forward as the ship was working on its hyperspace calculations. If he chose to fire back, he could potentially put himself in a compromising situation. Two more warnings blared at him, though he ignored the urgency they tried to impose on him. The blips on he radar rushed toward him, and he eyed the navigation computer impatiently. Twenty meters until impact. The ship finished its calculation within meters of impact and Cadden engaged the hyperdrive just as the missiles reached him. They exploded, and Cadden felt the ship rock as it sped away and entered hyperspace. There were no warnings, and he checked the ship's readouts. That was too close. A split second later might have cost him dearly.

Cadden took the opportunity to check on his prisoner and made his way to Drego's holding cell. As a precaution, he unholstered his DL-18 blaster pistol and opened the door. His captive was, more or less, exactly how he had left him, and after a couple seconds analyzing the man's condition Cadden returned the blaster to its resting place. Drego just glared at him, knowing better than to try to overpower his captor in his present state. Folding his arms over his chest, Cadden looked at his captive through his T-shaped visor. "You can talk now, or you can talk to my employers," he said calmly, "but either way, you will spill the secrets on who's been supplying the slaves out here."

Drego grinned. "You think this is some kind of small-time op?" he said. "The New Republic can't abolish slavery galaxy-wide. It's still well alive out here in the Outer Rim. Neither you nor your employers can stop it. Bring one circle down, another will just rise and take its place."

Cadden shrugged. "That's not my concern," he said. "But if I were you, I would supply your source to me, rather than my employers. I'm not adverse to extreme methods to get what I want."

Drego swallowed hard at that. "Vinsoth," he said after a few seconds of uneasy silence. He looked down at the floor. "We get them from Vinsoth. From a Houk named Nej Lerga."

Cadden frowned. Houk weren't exactly the best species to get on the bad side of. Their strength was rivaled only by a few species, such as Wookiees, and their idea of solving things politically was to wage open war against their enemies. If Drego was telling the truth, his employers would have their hands full. They would likely hire him to deal with this, and that would cost them far more than this mission did.

Some time later the Pursuer dropped out of hyperspace near Mirrin Prime. Cadden went through the procedure with Mirrin Control before he was granted permission to land. After the ship touched down in its designated docking bay, Cadden, still donned head to toe in his armor, retrieved Drego and escorted the man to their destination. He was met by Republic soldiers just within the entrance to their base, behind them his point of contact for the job, one Major Lonno Deso. The man relinquished control over Drego from Cadden before speaking. "I must say, I'm impressed," he said to Cadden.

"Don't be," Cadden said. "Aloran was a small piece in a bigger picture. If what Drego says is true, there's likely a slave trade run from Vinsoth, headed by a Houk called Nej Lerga." Major Deso didn't respond. Cadden produced a data card and handed it to the man. "Time to pay up."

Lonno took the card. "I'll have my men look at it," he said. "You'll be paid based on your results."

"You don't trust me," Cadden said, somewhat agitated.

Lonno shrugged. "You're a bounty hunter," he said bluntly. Perhaps too blunt for Cadden's taste. "You make your living doing this. You'll have to forgive me if I reserve myself to the belief that you could have cut corners on the job, or worse." Cadden knew what he was alluding to. There had been cases of bounty hunters whom claimed to see the contract all the way through but truly hadn't, and even some that took a more lucrative offer and turned on their employers. But not him. This was Major Deso's first time dealing with him, however, so Cadden opted to give him the benefit of the doubt and merely nodded.

"You will find all is in order," he told the major. "I see my contracts through to the end. Always." Cadden was paid in short order, after Major Deso's men verified the data was clean and the deaths were real. He was advised to stick around, as the major said he might have another job for him. Cadden took the opportunity to get some rest aboard his ship, though he was contacted a few hours later. He met Lonno in the base's briefing room.

"Seems our friend was telling the truth," the major said. "At least for the most part. We cannot afford to send a contingency out there and maintain the peace." He gave Cadden a knowing look. "The Republic requires your services once more."

Cadden had figured it would come to this. "It'll cost you extra," he said.

"I wouldn't have expected it any other way," Lonno said. "You will be properly compensated for the task, if you're up to it."

Cadden shook his head. "You don't understand." Lonno gave him an inquisitive look. "You won't be paying me for a bounty hunt, you will be paying me for a war. I will need more men if I will complete this task for you. More men means more credits. You won't be paying just me, you will also be paying for the services of others. I won't take this contract unless these terms are met."

Lonno narrowed his eyes, though he soon nodded. The Republic couldn't devote too many resources to combating all arenas of disorder in the Outer Rim, so it would have to resort to paying others to do it for them. "I will reach out."

"No," Cadden said. "I will provide my own, as well as my price." Lonno gave him another look, and Cadden gave him a figure.

His eyes widened. "You expect me to pay that?" he asked incredulously. "I could send in my own platoon for that fee."

"And yet that would be at the cost of keeping the peace on the world they come from. And they would take casualties, which means you'd have to put in even more to replace them." Cadden folded his arms over his chest. "That is our fee. Take it or find someone else."

Lonno stared at the figure on the datapad for a long moment, then finally looked at him. "You'd better be worth it," he said slowly.

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Re: Way of the Warrior

Post by Cadden » Thu Mar 02, 2017 5:57 am

Where there had previously been one man, now there were a good half-dozen. Cadden had made the call back to Morut for volunteers to join him on the upcoming raid and, within short time, he had at his back the equivalent of a small army to take down Nej Lerga and his slavery operation. Among those joining him were Kyr Aden, the patriarch of the clan of the same name, and Dalen, Cadden's brother. He had some fine warriors with him, and with this assembled entourage he had no doubts they would make short work of the Houk and his men.

Lonno looked over Cadden's small cadre of men and women chosen for the task with both doubt and contempt. "Six soldiers?" he asked incredulously. "I'm paying you for one-sixth the number I could send on my own? Forget it. I'll provide my own men for this task. I've got far more qualified combatants than you do, and if necessary I'll send a small army if it means eliminating this slavery operation and keeping the peace."

Cadden narrowed his eyes behind his visor. "A lone Mandalorian is a small army," he said with disgust. "Our services don't come cheap for a reason. If you want to waste your credits on Republic soldiers, then feel free. However, even if you put an end to this slavery operation, you will have plenty of other issues arise in its place. Pay us to deal with this for you, no one is the wiser, and you can do what you will with few, if any, repercussions."

The Republic major gave him a silent look for a long moment. Cadden's point was solid: a war against Nej Lerga's slavery operation could be seen by some as a move to occupy the world. However, if it were to fall from independent hands, then the Republic could move forces in to secure the planet as a means of keeping the peace. Whether they chose to stay against the inhabitants' will or not was none of Cadden's concern. "Fine," he finally said with a nod of submission, though Cadden could easily tell he was none too pleased with the decision. "You'll receive your credits upon verification of a successful operation."

He still doubted them. Cadden put his personal feelings on that matter aside. To be fair, the galaxy at large still saw the Mandalorians in the manner of those pacifists on Mandalore. While their beliefs were far more desirable than those of their ancestors, a pacifist nation was far more vulnerable to the likes of the Galactic Empire, the First Order, or other nations that could seek to ruin them through military might alone. That was the whole purpose behind the Vanguard, which, unfortunately, was still very unpopular among the majority of the Mandalorians. While Cadden did not create nor organize the Vanguard, he was now their leader, and he followed his predecessor's vision for the group. They were meant to have a healthy mixture of ideals from both their warlike ancestors and their pacifist descendants. Cadden's father, the founder of the Vanguard, had set forth various rules that governed them as a warrior culture, but not as the conquerors from their past. Protectors, if one would, of their heritage and their culture. And, many times, if the price was right, of others.

They were mercenaries for hire, but more than that, they were well-trained soldiers. Commandos, every one of them. However, while mercenary work and bounty hunting were a primary means of income for them, there were a wide assortment of other jobs the Mandalorians of the Vanguard typically took on. Several earned their living as weaponsmiths or bodyguards for the host population of the worlds they lived on. Others remained in the Morut system, toiling in workshops and factories, or working the land as farmers. Several Mandalorians on Morut worked what might be considered "domestic" occupations, tending bars and running shops, as well as working as doctors and veterinarians. Despite the wide array of professions Mandalorians of the Vanguard took, every Mandalorian was combat trained and they could band together into an army on short notice.

"We require half up front," he said calmly. This didn't sit well with Lonno. "A good faith payment, if you will."

The Major frowned but ultimately conceded, albeit reluctantly. "Very well," he said, "you'll receive half within the hour, and the other half upon completion."

Cadden nodded in approval of the terms and turned his head to address the Mandalorians behind him. "You have your target," he told them. "We leave within the hour."

The time passed quickly, and as soon as they verified the first half of their funds were successfully transferred the small cadre of Mandalorians left Mirrin Prime. Cadden lead the way onboard the Pursuer and initiated the jump to lightspeed toward Vinsoth. They all had their own roles to play in taking Nej Lerga down, and half a dozen men would see far better results than one.

Cadden took the required time to go over the details of the mission. While their primary target was the Houk slaver, they would need to take great care to cripple, if not completely topple, his entire organization. The bounty, if one could still call it such, called for Nej either dead or alive, though in this particular case there was no difference in the payoff. This bode well for the outcome of the coming operation, as it meant they didn't need to concern themselves as much over collateral damage. It would be a few hours before he'd arrive in the Vinsoth system, so Cadden took this time as a good opportunity to get some additional sleep. He needed to keep his senses sharp and his wits about him in the coming battle.

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