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#Tatooine Extraction novella:
“Stitches!” “Yes!” she answered. “Can you get Duster out?” “Working on it!” The human female call sign 'Stitches' approached the writhing dying Krayt dragon with far less temerity than her Kel Dor commander thought was prudent. The massive lizard settled but it's clawed paws and its tail continued to twitch dangerously. “Capitaine! Toutes les personnes!” Ghost cried in her native Twi'lek, “They are still coming! Maintenant!” The terror in Ghost's voice was unmistakable but most of the crew turned at her cry of alarm and the fury of blaster fire intensified in the direction of the tunnel that led to this massive chamber. It was the only tunnel to and from this cavern and a swarm of juvenile Krayts were hungrilly rushing to the aid of their dying senior. Stitches extended her hand toward Wrasp, “Give me your lightsabre!” The Captain handed it over unquestioningly and stayed within arms reach of the teams combat medic. Stitches ignited the weapon and a red blade poped into existence as Stitches studied the belly of the beast. Duster was somewhere in that creatures stomach and Krayt anatomy hadn't been taught in med school. Duster had just moments earlier been grabbed by the massive dragon's dagger laced jaws and swallowed whole! She might not even be alive after that! But Stitches didn't want to cut up her friend just in case as the leaned in with the crimson bladed sabre. There was more resistance than she had expected and the Dragon's hide was resistant even to this miracle blade. “Yeah,” Breakout whispered, “There . . . Careful now.” Stitches didn't break her line of sight as muscle and viscera parted. “Stop!” Breakout snapped, but even as Stitches withdrew the sinister blade the bladder holding Duster parted and the woman spilled out onto the cavern floor. Breakout, the Duros had seemed to walk through the cave networks as if in a trance and it hadn't broken yet. “Breakout!” Wrasp barked, “Get to the tunnel and secure our EXIT.” But the Duros ignored him as he stooped down and began rummaging into the same stomach that had just held Duster. Wrasp shook his head and turned to see how that fight fared. He was in time to watch Boomer gleefully toss a grenade into the darkened tunnel while cheerfully warning, “Frag Out!” Cheerfully . . . Normally Wrasp might have flinched at the warning, but Boomer had just tossed a handful (he'd lost count in the fight) of the high explosive grenades at the now dead Adult. The subsequent thrumming 'Whomp' and the concusion wave that crashed over the team seemed tame compared to the earlier explosive barages. However the wave of juvenile Krayts screamed in pain and suffering. “Merci!” Ghost cried, “They flee!” Wrasp shook his head at her. She was just at the lip of the tunnel and brought her blaster pistol up as the rest of the team's blaster carbines fell silent. Ghost was the least combat capable team member and she was on the front of the fight to keep the tunnel clear. The others were moving up to protect their weakest combatant. “How is she?” Stitches still focused on the only other human on the team. “I have a pulse. She's alive.” That was a miracle. The Adult Krate had dug into her torso with teeth easily six inches long and the lacerations and puncture wounds were terrible. Her tech suit was drenched in blood and the Krayt's stomach acid and Stitches was cutting the cloth and web belting away. And with each wound the medic clipped the wounds shut with plastiskin and sprayed anticeptic in a desperate race. “Wrasp!” Stitches asked, “Can you run plasma?” Wrasp bent over to the medic kit and looked for the appropriate tool. “Can you talk me through this?” “No,” Stitches barked. “Give me!” Wrasp had trouble watching Stitches because he could see bits of Duster's lungs and rib bones. And that was part of her intestines. He turned his focus back to the Duros. “Breakout. What are you doing?” The Duros looked up and held up two white pearls. “I've got them! Here they are.” But at what cost? Taking down this adult Krayt had been a team effort. Grenades, blasters, his single light saber. And yet bolts and explosions had seemed to roll off off it's back and belly like wind on a dune sea. Truth be told, the Krayt corpse lookes depressingly intact. They must have hit this creature somewhere vital. Some biological weakness. With the exception of a blown out eye and it's lolled tongue, this lizard could be mistaken for being asleep. Well that and Stitches had just gutted this creature open down it's belly. There was that. But Breakout had the two kyber crytals that they'd come for. If only they could get out. “Is she going to make it?” “I don't know!” Stitches reported. Duster was topless now save for swadling of bandages which probably kept her torso intact just now. “I think she still needs about 6 hours in an operating suite with a med droid and another day or so in a bacta tank. Light, I wish Drips were here.” Wrasp growled. This trip had been all the more pleasant without the iracible med droid. But looking down at his mangled team mate gave him hesitation to object to Stitches. “We don't have any of those,” Wrasp observed. “I know.” “We need to get her out. Have you stimed her yet?” “Not yet.” “If we can get her up, that'll make extraction a lot easier.” Duster's eye's fluttered open after she was hit with the stimpak. That was a good sign. Stitches took entirely too much time trying to check Duster's condition. Her spine seemed intact and though she was unsteady on her feet she could kinda move. “Okay, Breakout,” Wrasp ordered, “Take us out.” “What?” “You lead us into here. Do you remember how to get us out?” “No,” The Duros reported. “I have no idea how to get out of here.” Breakout's eyes had cleared and he was no longer in the trance that had led the team into this very specific chamber and those two very specific kyber pearls. “I have a map,” Ghost replied clearly, her panic placed back in check, “I can get us out.” “Good.” There were blood trails trailing from the tunnel entrance but only two of the juvenile krayt bodies just outside the chamber. The team walked in a security line, protecting Stitches & Duster in the middle while Ghost led just before the wounded and medic. Slider and Boomer lead and Wrasp trailed at rearguard, keeping his head on a constant swivel after their first branch. The juveniles were doing a good job of staying out of sight. Occasionally a pair of their red glowing eyes would reflect the light beams from the glowrods, but the creatures would dart out of sight just as fast. They must have injured dozens of the smaller krayts, but on reflection Wrasp couldn't count more than three of the juvenile corpse on their foray in and out of these tunnels. They weren't mindless creatures and maybe they were as keen for survival as his team. When they emerged from the tunnel into the looming walled in canyon, the binary suns had finally fallen below the horizon and the Razor Teeth mountains loomed black. But straight above the team a brilliant starlite sky shown with striking fidelity. But no one paused for long. “Ghost,” Wrasp voice wrasped, “Call Aliz and let her know that we're coming down the canyon. I don't want her blasting us with the ships cannons.” Quietly Ghost commed the other Twi'lek and the two women conversed quietly over the comms. The trip back to the Flair Rider was as tense. Rocks and scree would shift suddenly and the team would only find puffs of dust in the wake of a fleeing smaller Krayt. The blasted lizards were almost perfectly camouflaged and in the near pitch dark they were nearly invisible. But the blasted creatures seemed to still shadow the crew. “All clear,” Ghost reported as they crested the last ridge between the team and their ship. Spice had powered up the external lights for the Flair Rider and the YT-2400 glowed in the junction of two box canyons. With the ship's lights acting as a beacon, the team's pace seemed to quicken. “Breakout.” Wrasp addressed the Duros. “Yeah?” “Get us off of this rock.” “With pleasure!” Wrasp made sure he was the last one to board the ramp and he scanned the perimiter about the ship. The rascal lizards thought they were being smart, but in the illumination, Wrasp caught sight of at least a score of pairs of tiny red eyes reflected in the night. Thankfully they stayed put. It could have been a heavy cost for the krayts, but they could have torn his tiny team to shreds if the krayts had abandoned all sense of self preservation.