munnin: (Red Mist)
[personal profile] munnin

Title: Hugin Chronicles. Chapter 4: Riot at the races.
Fandom: Star Wars – Clone Wars.
Verse: Joe Hogan’s Red Mist Squad.
Disclaimer: No ownership, no profit and no offence meant. Everyone is of the age of consent in their country and period of history
Author’s notes: This ‘verse and its characters belong to the talented Joe Hogan. Individual characters were inspired by members of the Celebrations Rogues. The verse has been hijack by me with the consent of all involved.
Summary: Paths are crossed.


Rebec liked Malastare. Much more than she expected too. It was a world that held on to its identity, to the things that made it what it was. Even as the war raged around them. Even as the Republic and the Separatists fought over the wealth of Malastare’s natural fuel reserves, the Dugs stuck to what they loved.

And they loved to go fast.

The Malastare 100 had been running in some form or another for generations. Be it foot races, animal races, speeders. And now it was Pod Racing.

And the Dugs weren’t going to let a little thing like a war slow them down.

Rebec liked that about them, as a people. As individuals, she wasn’t so fond of them. Dug racers were a special breed of arrogant moof-milkers. But skin-painting was becoming incredibly popular with the top racers and she was willing to put up with the egotistical flirting for the work. Even if she sometimes tapped the needle a little deeper than it needed to be now and then.

And with Tahl as her faithful body-guard; no racer, Dug or otherwise, was fool enough to push their luck.

She kinda wished he was around now, as she touched up the colours on a particularly narcissistic specimen of Dug masculinity. But he was where he needed to be. With Eva.

They had come to Malastare more for Eva’s business than Rebec’s. Over the last year, Eva had managed to acquire some particularly fine antiques. Vintage technological art that Voras the Hutt was particularly partial to.

And like the Dugs, the Hutts were supportive of sporting events going ahead, war or no war. Sponsorship of such events gave them perfectly legitimate reasons to meet and exchange pleasantries with other Hutts. If certain other, less legitimate business happened to come up at the same time, so be it.

At least Eva’s meeting with Voras was above board and hopefully just a matter of handing over the goods, having them authenticated, and getting paid.

Still, she was glad Tahl was with her older sister. No doubt Voras would make some offer for him too, assuming he was a slave, but Eva could deal with that.

Tahl was family now. And a useful and important part of both their businesses. He had a gift for repairing things and an eye for quality that helped Eva no end. And having a big looming shadow who doubled as a walking billboard did a lot to advertise Rebec’s work.

Over the year he had been with them, Rebec had fiddled with his skin. She had kept the strong red outline he had paid for, and insisted on, but she went back and worked over those solid panels of colour, adding texture and shadows, different depths of colour. At a distance, he was still painted with broad strokes of feather-like blood red, but up close those feathers were detailed intricate patterns – complex geometrics on his abs and down his left thigh; animal and plant forms on his right arm and upper chest. Where the red crossed the left side of his head – from crown to cheekbone, crossing his eye, she worked in very fine feathers, delicate as the wings of real birds.

He had taken to keeping the left side of his head shaved, the right side long to display her work proudly. And when he acting as her shadow, he often worked bare-chested, his overalls unzipped and tied around his hips.

It didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eye as well as imposing. It’s a pity he’d never showed any interest in her, in either of them, beyond a brotherly affection and protectiveness. More than once Rebec had found herself wondering how he might react if she came to him one night…

The thought was so happily distracting from the dull racing colour stipes she was working onto another Dug’s hind quarter (a job she could more or less do in her sleep) that she almost didn’t notice the rising tide of noise coming from outside the pits.

It had been a hotly contested race and she was aware there was some dispute about the final scores. A dispute that seemed to have boiled over.

What had started as a push and shove between the two leading racers (and the half a dozen they had crippled, wiped out or gone over the top of during the race) seemed to have spilt over into the crowd and had become something bigger, something frightening and uncontrollable.

Small arguments had broken into fights, like the small stones that started landslides.

And now the crowd were a heaving mass of animal aggression. Equal parts stampede and riot. And it was spilling over into the pits.

She packed her paints and needle gun in a hurry, throwing everything into her case and strapping it securely to her back. If she headed for the delivery doors, she might be able to avoid the surging wave of bodies coming trackside. She was young and fit and no stranger to climbing. If she could just make the mesh fence, she could get up high, find a safe path.

She started to bolt that way as the crowd broke through the pit gates, several young mechanics running the same way she was. As they made the flat-bed lifts that opened to the pod delivery doors, the gates ahead of them banged open, a tide of sentients fighting and fleeing collapsing the mesh fence beyond collapsing under the weight of them.

She could feel herself starting to panic, her chest tight as if the straps of her case were crushing her lungs. Someone shoved past her, knocking her down in their haste to get away. She hit the durocrete with a crunch, trying to focus as her vision blurred.

There were more bodies now, pushing and shoving past her, carelessly kicking as the fastest fled ahead of the avalanche of fear and rage the crowd had become. She tried to stand up, tried to ignore the blood dripping down her face.

Blood red. Tahl’s colour.

It was a stupid thing to fixate on but everything was so blurry and the red on her hand as she scrubbed it away from her eye was such a vivid shade.

Someone slammed into her, catching on her case and dragging her some metres before she fell again, her knee buckling under her as she tried to arrest her fall. There were feet everywhere now. Kicking, stomping, running. All of them level with her head. Instinctively she covered her head, her face, trying to protect herself. But there was no protection here.

Then someone grabbed her, hauled her up.

She tried to fight them off, lashing out with fingernails in a last ditch self-defence.

But her nails skidded over a plastoid faceplate before they found flesh.

It was enough to shock her out of her panic, her eyes wide as she looked into the refection of Tahl’s visor. She let out a sob of relief and hugged him tight.

He wasted no time slinging her onto his back, the way he had when she’d turned her ankle in that hoop-ball match at the docks. She clung to him, arms around his shoulders and knees around his waist as he powered towards a hatch she’d never even noticed.

Seemingly without effort, he ran at a pile of crates, leapt up them to catch hold of a bar and swing them up towards the hatch. Thinking clearer now, she saw they wouldn’t fit, not with her paint case strapped to her back. She freed a hand as they flew through the arm, pulling the utility knife from his belt and cutting the straps, letting the case fall into the seething crowd below.

As he pulled them up and onto the curved roof of the stadium’s pits, she had the briefest view of splashed colours, like drops of ink in a swirling meat-grinder. She sobbed again as the reality of the violence below caught up with her.

Tahl put her down on the hot tiles, slamming the hatch behind them. He knelt over her, hands moving in practiced, unhesitating motions to asses her injuries. Her right ankle didn’t feel right but she didn’t get a chance to tell him that before he had her boot off. He gripped her food and braced her calf, popping the joint back into place with almost brutal efficiency.

She screamed. She knew she must have, but she couldn’t hear herself over the riot below. But when the sharpness of the pain ebbed, she realised Tahl was holding her, his visor pushed up to look into her eyes.

Those big brown eyes of his, as expressive as his voice was silent, begged a question and she answered with a nod. “I’m okay. It still hurts and my head.”

He nodded, one hand flicking a fluid series of finger-signs. She was concussed. He was going to get her to safety. Eva was with the Hutts.

Which Rebec knew was the safest place Eva could be. Voras travelled with an entourage of personal security the Supreme Chancellor would envy.

Tahl cut the sleeve from his overalls, slashing it to bandages to strap and splint her ankle. She held onto his shoulders, trying to keep from shaking.

Shock He signed briefly, chaffing warmth into her rabidly cooling hands. He reached for his belt, drawing out a small skin patch, no bigger than a cred-stick. For the pain he signed, waiting for her nod before peeling and smoothing the patch onto her neck.

He held her a moment longer, waiting for the painkillers to take effect.

Rebec gave him a soft smile, unaware of the slightly drugged slur in her words. “I love you, Tahl. You know that, right?”

He offered her a smile in return and with great ceremony, kissed her forehead before lifting her up like a child and slinging her back on his back.

She clung like a mynock as he pulled his visor down and started plotting a way to get them safely back to Eva.

***

The path to reach the Hutts’ box was not exactly an easy one and Tahl found himself using training and muscle memory he had no memory of learning. He was glad at least that Rebec was able to hold on to his back on her own. Carrying her any other way would have left him happened and less able to keep her safe.

Her slender form press against him, the warmth and weight of her, her breath on his neck was less of a distraction than he expected. Instead offering him a reminder, a reason to fight.

Rebec and Eva were his family. They gave him identity, meaning. And he could protect them, any way he could.

But he knew he needed to hurry. The pain-killers he had given Rebec would not last forever and her concussion was serious. And the Hutts would not wait in the box forever. Tahl had no doubt they would leave Eva behind if they saw a way to safety.

There was no way to the box across the roof-tops, he would have to drop down onto the streets, into the melee of sentients below. He paused on the last ledge, surveying the scene.

There was something else going on. Another force moving the flow of the crowd. Republic clone-troopers in armour he didn’t recognise moved further up the street, causing an eddy in the flow of bodies below. He didn’t give himself time to think too hard about that, about what their presence might mean, but took the chance. He reached back, hugging Rebec to him and warning her to hold on tight before dropping to the street and breaking for the Hutts’ box without a backwards glance.

The guards were gone door buckled and askew on its hinges and for a moment he feared the worst as he pushed it open. A blaster shot rang over his head and he ducked, twisting to protect Rebec.

Eva popped her head over an upturned table, blaster in hand.

Tahl pushed up his visor and raised an eyebrow at her.

“What?” Eva challenged, already coming towards them. “It was a warning shot!”

Tahl eyeballed the scorch mark on the wall and cast another disbelieving look at her. It would couldn’t have missed him by more than a hair’s breadth. Eva was no slouch with a blaster.

Leaving the two women to talk as he lowered Rebec to the floor, he checked the door, leaning out over the balcony to assess the situation below. The riot showed no sign of ebbing here, although he could see local law-keepers trying to subdue the edges of the crowd where the bleeding edge of the stampede had left a trail of broken bodies.

The Republic clone-troopers however, seemed to be regrouping. He could see three together in the heat of the melee, their determined stance making a clear space around them as anyone blood-raged enough to rush them was stunned and dropped. Two more were converging, their unfamiliar phase II armour bright under the Malastare’s sun.

The style and shaping of the armour might have been unfamiliar to him, but the red on white patterns echoed the line of his own skin. The armour he’d given up.

But then Rebec gave a muffled sob of pain as she tried to put weight on her ankle, driving the thought out of Tahl’s mind. Whoever he had been, Tahl was who he was now. And his family needed him.

He peeled off the old patch, replacing it with the last one he had from the stash he had when he crashed on Silvestri VII. He signed rabidly his plan. It wouldn’t be long before someone noticed the box was empty and think to add looting to the riot. He wanted to make the most of the diversion the clones were causing and make for the hanger. If they reached the ship, they could be in the air and out of the danger faster.

Eva agreed, slinging her blaster to help Rebec onto Tahl’s back.

Stay close and stay low He signed, ignoring Eva’s scowl. The elder of the two sisters was a head shorter than Rebec and barely up to Tahl’s armpit. Short jokes weren’t a new thing for them, even if Tahl hadn’t meant it.

Eva nodded her readiness, gripping the blaster as Rebec squeezed Tahl’s shoulder. He counted them in and flung the door open, breaking for the stairs.

***

Apprehending a lone Separatist spy on Malastare in the middle of the pod-racing finals wasn’t exactly the sort of mission the Red Mist Squad were usually sent on. A mission more suited to Shinies than ARCs. But the information had come in late and they were the nearest available support.

It should have been a cake walk, a blue milk run. And it was, right up until it wasn’t.

The squad had split up, spread out and herding the spy towards Fordo’s waiting arms as the riot broke out. None of them knew what it was about. Even as Skate relayed local law-enforcement updates to them via Jat, the crowd seemed to have spontaneously gone from happy sports fans to a violent hoard.

Ridley reported back that he had the target, or what was left of him after panic crowds trampled her. Her and dozens of others.

“Abort.” Fordo ordered, moving to the high ground of the hanger roof to get a clear view of the mess below. “Everyone back to the RV point.”

Fernie, caught between his role as a trooper and his duty as a medic found himself pulling injured civilians to safety, aided by Linc. Jat and Wrathor were trying to keep the fight from overrunning the hanger their LAAT was parked in as Ridley and Gleeb scouted a clear path.

Somewhere in the mix, Crispy got separated from the others, pushed away by the tide of the crowd.

He turned sharply at the sound of blaster fire over the screaming, howling crowd. Short, controlled bursts fired over the heads of the rioters. It was a trained response to disperse a crowd, playing on the instinctive reactions of most sentients. It was part of their training.

Crispy turned towards the sound, running in that direction, shoulders down to defect anyone who got in his way.

But when he found the source of the sound, he froze.

Not the armoured brothers he expected but a man in torn overalls. A man carrying a red-headed girl, another at his side. A man with his face, half hidden by the cut down faceplate of a phase I helmet. A man with a blaster in each hand, forcing a gap in the crowd.

Crispy didn’t need to see the man’s face to know it. He saw it in the mirror every day. He saw it in the faces of his squad.

“HUGIN!” He yelled the name, without thinking, rushing towards the man. And for a moment the man turned towards him, the right side of his head tattooed with that unmistakable feathered pattern.

But the reflective lenses of the visor held him only for a moment, sliding away expressionlessly to fire again, pulling the women through the opening.

“HUGIN!” Crispy screamed again, aware of the crack in his voice as the streaming mass of bodies closed in between him, blocking his path. He fought, shoved, stunned his way forward, stepping on and over civilian rioters to try to follow.

But there was no sign of the painted brother or the red-haired women.

Ridley was at his side, pulling on his arm and yelling for him to fall back to the LAAT.

But Crispy could barely hear him. Or Fordo’s orders over the comms.

Hugin was alive.

And they had given up on him.

Crispy had never felt so angry in his life.

Profile

munnin: (Default)
munnin

September 2017

S M T W T F S
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags