Ask Borgo Prime: Paradise

Nox Solus

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Nox stood in the bridge of a Gladiator, specifically at a command table with a few other Mandalorians as the crew attended to their duties. The fleet flew in formation, the cruiser in the center of an umbrella formed by three frigates, two being the Fremen and the remaining a Purgio. The vanguard in front of that was formed with five Raider IIIs, acting as the fleet's screen. A majority of the fleet was present with the target being the trading hub of Borgo Prime.

The Alor had picked the hub for many reasons. First, it was a springboard/supply point to other planets farther north and allowed the ferrying of supplies. Not only that, the merchants and information brokers could help establish a reliable network that would provide invaluable information/data to them. Nox was able to recognize his people's weaknesses and hopefully with the acquisition of the port, they could be alleviated somewhat. One of those benefits was made known straight away as a holo-map of Borgo Prime was on the table and the asteroid belt near it, procured with the help of one of those brokers.

At the table, the group of Mandalorians would be speaking about their next move, Nox listened as another Solus named, Vroj, the only one with the similar paint job of a claw mark down his helmet, informed him of the situation. "The broker provided us with a possible location of the pirates." A finger was pointed to the western end of the belt, "This is the most likely area, given the access in and out and vicinity to the trade route." Nox stroked the bottom of his helmet as he listened, his white dire badger resting on her stomach by his feet, "What type of forces they have?"

Vroj would bounce his head left to right, "Consists of heavy fighters. Most likely a few corvettes as well. We have firepower but they have been practicing on merchants and security. They're some damn good pilots." The Solus' own badger would huff, the exact opposite color of Nox's with it being jet black as more of the sacred animals were claimed.

Nox exhaled softly as he thought before asking another question,
"And the port? How will our arrival be viewed?" Vroj straightened slightly before answering as he gestured behind him, "We have a transmission from one of the merchant guilds. They're requesting a meeting. So, I would assume we have a few minutes once we pull in before the port opens fire upon us if we don't give an answer."

@Sreeya
 
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Shale Vizsla

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Shale had already landed on the asteroid ahead of time. She didn’t come part of any fleet, but she was posing as a lone bounty hunter. Mandalorians often had the luxury of being on any side or no side at all. In truth, she was actually going against what was agreed upon with Nox. She knew he would be a little pissed, especially as he had a tendency to worry. However, Shale was also known to be stubborn, so she found herself deep in pirate territory with a handy dataplague to infect and corrupt their weapons systems and ships for when they tried to attack. Her goal was to sabotage the pirates when Nox and his people inevitably acted on behalf of the merchants and turn them into sitting ducks.

After a moment of hesitation, Shale finally popped into the shared channels, “This is…” She sighed, “Mudpie coming in,” No one would have known who was speaking except for Nox at that point, “Going to attempt some synchronized dancing,” It was code word for what she was about to do, “Do not actively come here to engage, draw them to you when I give the signal.”

With that, Shale would slowly make her way towards where some of the pirate ships were parked. Over time, they had built up a network system that talked to each other, which meant a dataplague would be especially effective. She simply had to get into position to plant one physically without getting caught or killed.
 

Nox Solus

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After hearing Vroj's assessment, he leaned forward slightly as he put both hands on the holotable for support. The gears turned in his head as he thought for a moment to himself. A couple of seconds passed until he finally came to a decision, fixating his gaze on Vroj before he spoke, "Alright, let-" Before he could finish, the ship's comm beeped before a new voice was projected from the table.

At first, he didn't recognize the voice given the slight static but when he heard the callsign, Nox's visor whipped directly to the speaker it came from. A wave of disbelief struck him, then anger, then concern, and a large sliver he wanted to deny but couldn't, amusement. Shale was supposed to be at the port, as per what they agreed for the plan but somehow along the way, she found herself in the complete opposite direction and in enemy territory. Nox never knew which direction she was going to turn and that was part of the reason why he was drawn to her so much.

Nox didn't speak at first, his helmet thankfully covering his slightly parted mouth from the others. Vroj still noticed his reaction and how he didn't know the voice himself, "Who the hell is Mudpie?" The question was asked with slight confusion. The Alor just held up his hand for a moment before pressing a button to respond. "We read you loud and clear... Mudpie."

Standing to his full height, he motioned to the deck behind Vroj for him and others, "Respond back to the guild. Tell them we would like to meet as well and are already creating a solution to their infestation." They all would give him a nod before departing from the room.

Once they all left him in privacy, Nox would once more place his hands on the table as he leaned forward to just stare at the surface. The comm was still connected, allowing her to hear all of that and know that Nox was still there.
"Shale... Where the hell are you?" He already knew the answer but it was his own version of a doubletake to make sure he heard correctly. The subdued anger would still be palpable in his voice but she would know it was indeed from a place of concern more than her disobeying orders.
 

Shale Vizsla

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Shale was slowly inching towards the ship bay, spotting a few figures in the distance. She thought about how to appear casual without tipping anyone off. There was a hint of guilt as Nox’s voice came in again and she knew he was alone. Shale bit her lip, not responding for a moment before she finally spoke, “I’m in their ship bay. I think I can get this installed without being caught. Trust me, it’ll make a difference. I didn’t wanna tell you because you’d lose focus. Just….let me do this, Nox.”

It would almost remind him of when he ventured off to fight the direbadgers. Shale put the comms away and stood up straight, making her way over to the docking area. One of the pirates spotted her right away, walking over carrying a rifle. Mandalorians may have been rare nowadays, but they still carried a reputation with them. Most knew better than to unnecessarily mess with one.

“You lost?”

“Naw,” She answered in her accented Basic, “Heard you guys are looking for some extra hands.”

“..A Mando?” The pirate asked incredulously, “Your gear will fetch a nice amount of credits,” The pirate grinned.

“I’m more useful to ya with it on,” Shale quipped back, keeping her cool. She had to tread carefully. She knew she was outnumbered. She just had to get close to one of those parked ships.
 

Nox Solus

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Nox listened to her explanation as he shook his head, specifically that she was deep enough within the pirate's encampment that she was actually in the ship bay. Using the context clue of "install," he could piece together what her idea was roughly with the pirate's crafts. His mouth opened to speak but that's when Shale revealed why she didn't tell him and that she could pull it off if he let her.

His mouth would shut then, the memory of his badger hunt flashing through his mind as he also glanced at Albino right at his feet. But, more pressingly, it reminded him of the times that he had told her to trust him before sending himself off. Each time he has returned with fewer pieces of himself and there hadn't been a single complaint from her. As Nox stood up straighter, realizing their call was about to end, instead of telling her to be careful or pull back he said, "I do trust you. Good luck." With that, the two would disconnect from the line.

There was still worry that flared within him but he quickly squashed it, for his sake and hers. Nox would give a slight whistle to Albino as he walked around the table and deeper into the bridge. Linking up with the others, Vroj glanced back at him before directing his gaze to the asteroid belt. "So, are we going off Mudpie's signal? Do we even know what it is?"

An answer was given without hesitation, "Yes, we are. Prepare our fighters and corvettes, they'll have the easiest time navigating through. I want the fighters grounded on asteroids and powered off, I don't want to waste our surprise. Tell our corvettes to safely park within the belt itself. The asteroids should scramble their scanners enough to allow them to close in." Vroj nodded before pressing a button, relaying the orders to squad leaders and across the hanger bays. After he finished, Nox added one last thing, "And prepare a shuttle with an extraction team. Just in case." The Solus would stare at him for a moment, figuring it was for this Mudpie before he relayed that as well.
 

Shale Vizsla

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A bit of back and forth and the pirate she was talking to decided he would go ask his higher up what to do with her. Shale knew this bunch wouldn’t trust her, and she had to quickly improvise. For now she kept her cool for a while before she watched the pirate wander off to get the other guy. She used that opportunity to quickly run up the ramp of one of the ships. There was a pirate there that looked around in surprise, and she promptly decked him hard enough to drop him right there. Shale jumped over him to get to the cockpit, quickly hooking up the dataplague to the terminal.

She could hear commotion outside and knew the jig was up. Shale closed the ramp and fully powered on the starfighter she was in while the dataplague began to pierce into the Holonet network between the pirate ships. She had precious moments before this starfighter also went offline and she had to bail. Shale began to pivot the starfighter in the bay, pointing it to an exit as she began to fly it out.

Someone shot at her from behind, the very edge of it taking a hit. However it wasn’t enough to stop her, and she zoomed out of the bay and into the sky. The dataplague was rapidly eating through their systems and it would be a while before the pirates realized. It would begin by shutting down their weapons systems, followed by attacking engines.

Shale’s heart was thundering against her chest as she got back on the comlink, “Incoming! Incoming! Prepare to engage!” The slight panic was clear in her voice. The pirates began to take off behind her, intent on shooting her out of the sky. Shale banked hard from side to side to evade as best as she could.

Her ship took heavy hits and she knew she had to eject. Without hesitating, Shale activated her jetpack and zoomed out through a massive hole in the side of the starfighter as the ship deactivated. The Mandalorian zoomed through the air before a stray bolt just barely grazed her. It was enough to send her off trajectory, abruptly shooting through the air and disappearing.

Meanwhile Nox would have a small fleet engaging him. However, he would notice the ships began to stop firing slowly one by one and instead stalled out in the air.
 

Nox Solus

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The orders had been given and the assigned ships would move to get into position. Fighters spilled forth from the hanger on the Gladiator, as well as the other two frigates. They flew in formation at first toward the asteroid belt before finally splitting off, a mixture of Imperial and Mandalorian interceptors and fighters landing on different asteroids. The Corvettes carefully navigated themselves between the rocks as well, maintaining a safe distance so a stray boulder wouldn't smash into the shields. Once that had been completed, each ship powered off except for the Corvettes, removing a possible signature on scanners.

Nox waited on the bridge, one of his hands where his chin would be if it wasn't for his helmet, the other hand a platform for his metallic elbow. His gaze burned right into the only opening where Shale and the others could come from but all they could do was wait. Seconds would turn to minutes and it was agonizing for him, not to know what was happening, especially when it came to Shale and her being behind enemy lines.

But then, right about when Nox was ready to storm back to the table and comm Shale, she did it for him and gave the signal. His head snapped once more to the speaker where her voice came from, a wave of relief washing over him as a prayer of thanks was offered to Kad. Vroj stepped forward, ready to speak to the ships laying in wait for the ambush but Nox held up his hand to stop him for a moment.

They had once chance to pull this off and while he yearned for Shale's safety, she had asked him to have faith in her and they had one shot. From the specified opening, Shale would zoom out with handfuls of pirates chasing after her wanting revenge. Nox saw her ship get shot and his heart froze but that's when he saw her jetpack activate. When his gaze then went to the pirates, he found all of their ships harmlessly drifting through the air. "NOW!"

As Shale jetted through the air, at first nothing would happen but then one by one ships would lift up, a rising tide and a swarm of steel as they surged forward to her position. Fighters would stream past her in the dozens, explosions sounding off behind her as the short window they had was capitalized on. As the raider's ships reactivated eventually and the massacre turned more into an actual battle with ships flying all around Shale and firing upon each other, she would be able to spot a lone transport shuttle heading directly for her at full speed. The only problem for her would be all the fighters in between zooming past and screaming with laser fire.
 
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Shale Vizsla

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Shale was in more trouble than what appeared. The spiral sent her to the side, and she was injured on top of it. There was a shuttle heading towards her, and she attempted to reorient towards it. However, she was once again caught in the crossfire, grazed by another blast as she was shot out of the air. This time, she would careen towards the ground, clear out of the line of skirmish and completely out of line of sight.

The Vizsla barely controlled her landing as she thudded harshly against the surface and fell into a heap. She remained there for now, unmoving. She felt pain pulse through her entire body, and she was unable to move. Shale knew she had burns along the sides of her body, but she could do nothing about it now. She vacantly gazed up at the battle raging above, watching as the pirate ships began to stall out and get quickly overwhelmed. Shale smiled behind her helmet, patting herself on the back for succeeding in her mission before she faded from consciousness.

If Nox commed her, he would get radio silence.
 

Nox Solus

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Fighter clashed against fighter, explosions tore through the asteroid field, and blue and red laser bolts tore through the sky in streams. It was a spectacle even with the relatively low number of ships participating but Nox wasn't focused on any of it. His visor had tracked the transport that had been on course to retrieve her before a stray bolt struck and pushed her out of the way. The transport had to yank left in order not to hit her as it went deeper into the battle, unable to turn around unless it wanted to offer itself as an open target.

Nox, unable to control his emotions, threw a closed metal fist into the window in front of him, "Shale!" All he could do was watch as she crashed onto the surface of a large asteroid. Without even thinking, he spun on his heel as he threw his words back to Vroj, "You have operational command. I want those Corvettes in there now." Nox would already be making his way to the exit, his natural long stride carrying him about halfway before the fellow Solus could turn. "Get me a fucking shuttle."

Vroj would turn slightly before shouting after him, "Nox!" The Alor would just repeat the same sentence but this time with authority that couldn't be questioned before he exited. "Get me a fucking shuttle."

By the time the second shuttle had reached her, she would be out cold. Nox had been with the team to physically retrieve her and would arrive back on the Gladiator in a few minutes. A small group would exit from the shuttle, Shale carried on a stretcher with an IV attached to her arm as medical drugs were pumped into her. Droids also floated above her, administering her vitals. Nox led at the front of the group, quickly taking them into a hallway before he was approached by another Mandalorian, "Solus'alor!"

Before they even reached each other, Nox gestured to the side with his head, his tone made of steel, "Talk to Vroj." The Mandalorian opened his mouth, "Bu-" Without warning, an arm would simply grip the Crusader and shove him to the side as he snapped, "Out of my way!" There would be nothing stopping him from escorting Shale to the medbay. He trusted his men but really he couldn't think without it drifting to Shale's injuries.
 

Shale Vizsla

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It was a while later when she blinked her eyes open. Nox had only been allowed in the room after droids confirmed she had no head injuries and her helmet was placed back on. Shale spotted only he was in the room and she slowly reached up to remove the helmet. Moving caused a lot of pain, and she glanced down to realize that she wasn’t in armor. Her upper body was bandaged up and padded with bacta.

“This…wasn’t how I imagined you seeing me for the first time..” Shale said sheepishly. However, such was the way of Mandalorians, and in some ways she wasn’t entirely surprised. Her hair fell over her shoulders as she slowly moved to sit up. Her vibrant eyes gazed at the look on his face and she managed a small laugh, “Quit lookin’ like you’ve seen a ghost. I’m still kicking,” Shale had to cough as the laughter caused a massive pulse of pain.

“I told you my plan would work,” She said proudly, the pain clear on her face. She rested back against the propped up pillow. It would take some time for her to fully heal, but bacta could expedite a lot of it.
 

Nox Solus

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Once the most important items had been taken care of, the drugs administered, Shale's wounds bacta'd and bandaged and her head checked, he would be allowed inside. By the time Nox came through the door, he was about ready to grab one of the droids and throw them through a window if they had made him wait any longer. But, his eyes first immediately went to Shale and when he saw that she was moving, he completely forgot about the time he had spent waiting.

Their gazes locked for a moment as the rest of the room would finally clear. Nox made sure by locking the door but his gaze never left from Shale's. Once the mechanism clicked in place, he would remove his helmet just as she was removing her own, revealing his tired face with lines of worry etched in certain places. It would be placed down on a stand by her table before he took a step closer himself, his optics scanning over her body and specifically her injuries.

Shale's armor had taken the brunt of the damage but it hadn't prevented all of it. There was evidence of burns peeping out from underneath the bandages and he wondered how extensive it was. Shale's comments snapped his attention away from her torso and to her face, his mouth parting slightly as he didn't know what to say at first. She then called him out playfully and he just shook his head before he sat on her bed and by her hips. His gaze went back to her torso as he spoke softly, "No I just..." But when Nox's eyes flicked back to her's, there would be a streak of humor and the same playful tone as one of his knuckles drifted against a bare spot on her stomach, "Didn't think you could get any sexier than you already are." Even though it was a recovery, there was truth to it.

He wouldn't be able to let out a soft laugh too at her own. Truth be told, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted from his shoulders. The seconds that had ticked by were agonizing and laughed at him when he had been in the waiting room. Seeing Shale return to her normal self; it eased his worries and made him realize how much he actually cared for her.

When she proudly stated her plan worked, Nox let out a soft but humorous scoff, his eyes closing momentarily as he shook his head. Not even being shot fazed her off from showing her plan was good. Instead of saying anything, he just leaned forward with one hand reaching out to cup her cheek. He drew her in gingerly before claiming her lips and with a certain hunger before he made himself withdraw. Nox's forehead still remained connected to hers as he said with a smirk, "And I did say I trusted you. But do me a favor and let me know ahead of time the next idea that pops into your head."
 
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Shale Vizsla

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Shale’s face flushed at his compliment and she grabbed a pillow and tossed it at him, “Shut up,” She said with a huge smile, her face bright red. It was bad enough that she was in this state of attire, but now he was checking her out. It was surreal seeing this side of him when he was normally stoic and rather aloof. Solus were known for being loud and obnoxious, but Nox didn’t fit that mold. He certainly had their stubbornness, however.

She smiled at him as he moved closer, feeling his touch against her skin. She gazed into his eyes before she met his lips. Shale lifted her arms to wrap around him, but it only resulted in a soft groan of pain. Instead, she simply let her hands rest against his chest as she kissed him, taking her time and lingering there. It all felt so natural, as if they had been doing this for years. Shale felt as if she were on a cloud, and she doubted it had to do with the pain meds.

“I’m never promising that,” Shale said flatly, flashing him a grin, “Your bullheaded ass would do everything to stop me. I’d rather do and then ask forgiveness later,” She gave him a wink, “I’m sure I can think of ways to coax you into forgiving me.”

That was right when a nurse droid stepped in and Shale cleared her throat and looked away. There was a moment as her bandages were being changed and Nox would see fully how badly she had been burned. Shale gritted her teeth through the pain, but it was thankfully over quick. After the droid left, she glanced up at Nox again.

“Were you able to secure the trading posts?”
 

Nox Solus

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At first, he was about to pull back when he heard her groan in pain but her arms went to his chest, keeping him in place. Everything about her felt perfect to Nox, her touch, her voice, the way she smiled at him. It made him savor the taste of her even more as he realized just how lucky they both were that she was still alive.

Both of them would separate from the kiss softly, Shale was the first to speak as her words earned another humorous scoff out of him. Nox would lean in towards her bed, his torso lightly hovering over her own as he rested each arm on one of the bed railings. When it was commented that he was bullheaded, he would simply just roll his eyes, almost sure she could partially be able to thank for that. If he hadn't been bullheaded with her, Nox was pretty sure she wouldn't have given him any time of the day before they grew close.

Upon hearing that she could think of ways to coax him, one of his eyebrows would shoot up before a grin spread across his face. Nox leaned forward slowly in order to not disturb her as he murmured, "Oh? Care to do some coaxing now?" His lips parted as he was ready to claim her's once again but that's when they would be interrupted as the door opened. A soft exhale escaped from his nose as he turned his head the other way as well, more away from the droid even though it wasn't a living being, his arms returning to his sides.

Nox didn't watch at first but he couldn't help but peek when he heard part of the bandage peel away. The burns were gnarly and they would most likely leave a scar. Thankfully, bacta had been applied in time that it wouldn't be disfiguring. He would just shake his head slightly before standing up as the droid left the room. His helmet would be slipped back on and sealed to his suit before he spoke with his voice more modulated, "The perimeter. The guild wants us to make landfall and finalize our deal. They would also like to meet the one who installed the data plague."

A step was taken toward the bed as he gripped onto the bed railing with one hand, "If you're too injured, you can just rest." Then he gave a slight cock of his head, "Besides, I hear the special desert onboard tonight is called, 'The Mudpie.'" Nox then followed up with a slight shrug, "From personal experience... not too bad."
 

Shale Vizsla

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Shale’s face heated up at his comment, and her cheeks flushed red. She winced through the treatment, but she knew she would be better in no time. After the droid left, Shale turned to Nox and was surprised to hear the guild wanted to meet her. Her idea was reckless, though she would never admit it to him. It had all the potential of going sideways, but it only would have ended up badly for her and she was okay with that.

“The Mudpie?” She asked at his dessert name, chuckling to herself, “Sounds like it’s about to be your favorite dessert,” Shale said coyly. Once the droid left, she tugged him close again to steal another kiss. She couldn’t get enough of him, and that didn’t change even with her being banged up and burned.

“I’ll join you.”

—​

The bacta worked its magic, and she was able to move enough to at least meet the guild. By now the Solus members had heard about her exploits, though some of them were grumpy about it being a Vizsla. Shale was still in pain, and she moved slower, but she was up and walking again. It would take a few weeks for everything to heal.

“Shall we?” Shale said as she approached him, her body language betraying that she was still in pain.
 

Nox Solus

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As many voices as there were that grumbled about Shale and her clan affiliation, there were just as many that cheered her actions. The fleet was mixed of multiple clans and while the Solus members were sullen to not have fully taken the credit, everyone else however made up for it with their hoots when she passed or ginger clasps on the shoulder.

When she arrived at the shuttle, both Nox and Vroj would be waiting there for her. There were a couple of other warriors but there as a precaution for when they landed. As Shale stepped onto the shuttle and it took off toward the port, his first response would be his visor glancing down at her before floating back up while he repeated, "Shall we?" He knew her well enough to tell she was in pain, even through her attempts to hide it.

Nox stepped closer to her as he raised one hand to grab a handle above, offering himself to lean on if she needed it. Pressing a button, a secure line was formed, "If you're about to pass out, let me know." While he cared about this station falling to their side, his care for her reared its head once more. It was easy to tell with his voice that if it was needed, he would turn them right back around.

The shuttle approached and angled toward one of the personal hangers of the port, specifically controlled by the reigning guild. It took out the crowds and let them get straight to business. After the craft landed and the doors opened, the small party would be approached by a group of robed merchants. They were a variety of races, humans, twi'lek, and a couple of neimoidians. All of them clapped softly, the one taking charge a neimodian,
"Greetings Mandalorians! I must say, such an impressive display of efficiency and coordination."

A human behind him spoke then, "That asteroid belt has been protecting them for weeks." The neimoidian nodded eagerly, "Our scouts saw their ships shut down before they clashed with yours. How or who installed such a plague?"
 

Shale Vizsla

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“I ain’t no dainty princess,” Shale scoffed as he remarked about her passing out, nudging him playfully on the side. She forgot she was around other Solus, and they all visibly stiffened. Shale drew back slightly at once, realizing she was crossing lines. Once they arrived at the humanoids, the Vizsla was surprised at the praise.

“That… was me..” Shale said awkwardly, not used to being center of attention like this. The Neimodian turned to her and nodded.

“You have our thanks. We will be sending extra patrols out there to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” He said before turning to Nox.

“Your people have done us a great service,” He said, “Opening up trade and allowing you access to our resources is the least we can do to share our gratitude.”
 
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