Nox could watch as Izla contemplated his plan, the risks, and the benefits of it. At first, she detested the idea of her people being used and left in a precarious position but the Mandalorians would be right there with them. As Raya pointed out, if they fell, they would all fall together in one last hoorah.
After a few moments, Izla would stand as confidence not there before swelled within her as she was finally given a path to get payback. Nox would stand with her, the Solus giving her a nod before he replied, "If your people's fighting ability matches their spirit, then that will be all we need." The Solus'alor was impressed by her leadership despite the situation the Ranchers found themselves in. They were being assaulted by an armed Warlord and his men but they were still holding out, the will to fight each day growing stronger.
At the question of when they will attack, he thought for a moment before giving the Elder an upward nod, "Tomorrow night. Gather whatever broken-down equipment, or at least willing to part with and bring it to the coordinates we send you. We need to make it look real."
Izla would give him a stern nod, a certain fire within her eyes, "We'll be prepared."
Night fell over the landscape as it became eerily silent across the swamp, sentries from the walls of the Warlord's fort scoping the perimeter. The guards were about to drop their rangefinders until a series of explosions ripped through the swamps, lighting up the sky in hues of orange. With the trees, they couldn't tell what was happening but they could hear the sound of chaotic blaster fire and even more explosions as the ground shook. "What the hell is going on?!"
At the site of the "battle", it would be numerous Mandalorians and Ranchers huddled by each other, a few here and there simply firing in random directions. Nox stood on top of a rock, a detonator in his hand as he pressed the button one last time, a slightly closer explosion taking place as a tree fell over.
When the explosives ran out, the Mandalorians and farmers would stop firing into empty space and reloaded their weaponry for the real fight. Nox would hop off the rock then, glancing over to Raya before gesturing with his head to the farmers, "Prepare and get the restraints for them. I'll get the weapons." The Solus would collect a few overs to carry over the crates of weapons.
Raya didn’t miss the glint that suddenly seemed to burn with Izla’s eyes - a ferocity and courage present that even the Kryze had to admit she found nothing short of impressive. It didn’t matter the how bad the circumstances the farmers had found themselves in were. It didn’t matter how much they had suffered and lost. It didn’t matter how poorly the odds were stacked against them. Through it all, they never lost the will to fight for themselves - to defend their home and to stake out their place in the Galaxy.
In more ways than one, it was a sentiment that resonated deeply with Raya. “Tomorrow night.” The Kryze gave a solid nod. She listened to the last thing that Izla said, pausing for a moment before speaking one last time, “Fight well.”
Nightfall had arrived, and so had the time to begin their assault on the Warlord’s compound. Raya was already in place when the explosions began to rip through the forest - the canopy providing them all the cover they needed while sufficiently leaving their enemies completely in the dark as to what was actually going on. She had to admit, so far so good.
Ray glanced towards Nox when the Solus’alor spoke. “You got it,” She said with a nod, slinking from her position and towards the farmers. While the Solus readied their weapons for the upcoming battle, Raya began to apply restraints to the farmers - selling their ruse of holding the locals as hostages to ransom back to the Warlord. She approached on man in particularly, gesturing for him to lift his arms so that she could apply the cuffs to his wrists.
As she did so, Raya raised her voice loud enough for those in the immediate vicinity to hear, but not enough for any of the Warlord’s men to pick up on. “Only tighten the restraints one click,” She said, glancing between both the farmers and fellow Kryze warriors. “They’ll be tight enough to stay on and look legit, but they’ll be easy to take off when the real fight begins.”
Within a few moments, the last restraints had been applied - the farmers lining up in three rows flanked by Mandalorian warriors - their heads down and posture all helping to sell the idea that they had only just been broken and defeated by the invading Mandalorians. Raya waited for Nox to finish his preparations with the weapons before turning to the Solus, pulling the twin peacemaker’s from her hip. “Ready to go say hello?” She jutted her chin towards the fortifications.
The Kryze tapped the side of her helmet, opening a comms channel with the warriors positioned to scale the walls. “We’re moving in. Be ready on my signal.”
There was a small pyramid of crates stacked up on the side of a tree. When Nox approached, a Solus would dismantle it and morph the shape into a neatly organized line on the ground. They would be opened to reveal the contents not for them but for the farmers. Blasters and explosives lined side by side, all of the equipment small enough to be carried on each person and not detectable, at least from a glance.
Nox and Zuus would each take their own crate and begin to hand out the armaments, warriors then bringing them over to farmers that were already lined up. They would all lift their shirts, stowing whatever they were given by their waistbands or wherever they could find before placing the restraints on themselves.
Once that was finished, the Solus would turn to find Raya ready as she pulled out her two blasters. At her question, he chuckled softly before giving a cock of his head, "It is polite to make introductions." Even though there was an ease to him, his gaze was cast to their "prisoners." Nox respected their spirit but they would all be in a precarious position until the walls assaulted from the outside. They would just have to hold out until then. After his reply, the Kryze would witness Nox pulling his beskad free and would twirl it so the blade faced the ground. He brought it to his chest, his head tilted down slightly after, mumbling out a prayer for both the Mandalorians and the farmers.
After that was done, he slid the weapon back into its sheathe before turning to the whole crowd and speaking up, "It's time to move out. Remember the plan, trust your instincts. We fight together." The farmers all gave a brief but certain nod, earning one back from him before he turned and started to walk toward the fort.
An hour later their large colum would arrive at the gates of the Warlord's fort, guards posted at the top of the walls with rifles in hand. Within shouting distance of the gate, a man slightly elevated above the others would put out his hand for them to halt before he chuckled at the sight of the farmers. "What a beautiful sight! State what you want."
Nox raised his visor slightly, his reply simply, "Get your Commander. I think in removing these pests he'll appreciate a friendly chat and exchange."The man smirked before gesturing for one of the other guards to run off. A few minutes later, fellow Mandalorians getting in position during, the gates would finally open and allow them access. Nox would give a look to Raya, holding it for a moment before stepping forward.
“Well I’m nothing if not polite,” Raya quipped right back at Nox, flashing the Solus a playful grin from beneath her helmet. The Kryze glanced down towards the blaster pistols she carried, ensuring both were fully loaded and the had been set to lethal. Her umber eyes briefly drifted over to the prisoners, before back then to Nox. “Or couldn’t you tell?” She said with a playful tone, following up her statement with a faint nudge against the Solus' shoulder. Nevertheless, she turned her attention back ahead shortly after that - umber eyes fixating onto the Warlord’s fortress before them.
Though it wasn’t visible, the Kryze’s eyes narrowed as the first man appeared over the gate - the fingers on her Peacemaker’s tightening ever-so-slightly as she listened to the back and forth exchange. She watched as one of the armed men ran off, only to return a few minutes later - another man returning with him. The grizzled figure approached the gate, gazing down at the pair of Mandalorian’s below. “How kind of you to do me the service of handling these parasites.” He said, crossing his arms over his chest. “What is it that you want?”
Raya inclined her head towards the gates. “Perhaps you’d be so kind to allow us to speak face to face.”
After a pour moment of pause, the Warlord finally gave a nod - gesturing to one of his men. “Let them in.” Within moments, the gates opened to allow the Mandalorian’s and farmers to enter - the guards atop the walls pointing their rifles down at the group as they passed through the threshold.
Nox led the group forward with Raya as they were immediately under the aim of multiple rifles. The Warlord would walk with them on the wall, flanked by his two guards as both he and the Solus'alor just locked gazes as if they were the only two there. Without tearing his gaze from the man, one almost similar in size to him, he murmured to Raya in their native tongue, "He is mine."
The group eventually reached the center of the fort as Nox would come to a halt. All of the Mandalorians would stop before putting their hands on the prisoners, either stopping them or shoving a couple to the ground who chose to stay there. The Warlord would eventually stand on a platform that was above them, his hands upon his hips as he stared down at them like he was the rightful king. "I've seen your invasion force. Honestly, I believed your first target would have been me but color me surprised. What do you want?"
As the two parties spoke, teams of Mandalorians would approach the flanks of the fort, using the swamp as cover while the occupying force was preoccupied with the new arrivals. Zuus led this force as he silently ordered the others, one by one each crusader aiming a grapple line before firing and finding purchase. All they needed would be a little more time.
Nox stared at the Warlord for a brief moment before he finally responded, "My people are expanding and we value talented and skillful allies. We found there is quite an abundance on this planet and wish to work together." The Solus'alor wasn't specific about who he was speaking to.
The Warlord chuckled and spread his arms wide, "Then I welcome you as you recognize the true power on this planet. The populace has recognized me as their ruler during these troubling times but the transition has not been smooth." He gestured to the prisoners beneath him before he continued, "But, with our forces together, we could easily remove these pests as you put it yourself."
Nox waited a couple of seconds as his fist tightened slowly, the way the man spoke infuriating him with each word. As he was about to open his mouth, an inaudible and muted color beep would suddenly start on his gauntlet. It was time. Catching it, he would offer a quick glance down before he placed his hands on his hips as well. "Ironically, we had the same idea. Now!" With his hands already on his hips, he reached within his belt smoothly before dropping a smoke grenade as thick clouds would billow out.
Immediately after, the Solus'alor activated his jetpack as he took but low to the ground. He flew in the path of a reverse J and straight toward the platform, unloading a wrist rocket with blaster fire around him as he tilted up. The explosive would shoot ahead and explode underneath the wooden platform, sending the warlord and his guards flying back as pieces of wood shattered and splintered in an explosion of debris.
Practically instantly after that happened, Nox himself would fly through the hole as he broke through the rest of the construction. A blur of steel and crimson as he angled for his primary target right afterward. He would collide with the warlord as he held onto the man and took them both in the air for a few feet, slamming them down onto the ground as both tumbled away harshly and upon contact and crashed into their own walls with heavy thuds.
Raya briefly glanced over towards Nox when the Solus muttered, her umber gaze lingering on the man for only a split second before fixating back onto the Warlord himself. He was gunning for the Warlord himself, and the Kryze simply muttered back in response, dipping into their natural language.
There was an almost involuntary flexing of the Kryze’s fingers as she listened to the man speak, every word out of his mouth proving to be too many and filling her with a distinct sensation of irritation. As a result, she couldn’t help the grin that genuinely manifested on her lips when she spotted the signal light from Nox. She kept her peacemakers low at her sides, but her fingers nevertheless curled against the trigger of her weapon - ready to turn them on the Warlord and his loyal followers at the drop of a hat.
Nox dropped the smoke generate, and Raya immediately sprang into action. “NOW!” She yelled into her commlink, signaling the Mandalorian warriors outside the gates to begin their assault. Within mere moments, grappling line were fired up from hidden positioned at the base of the wall - briefly preceding the swarm of Mandalorian’s who began scaling up the side over the surface. Some sections of the wall didn’t even notice because of the chaos, while others turned and began to exchange fire.
Raya, for her part, didn’t stay still for more than a split second after her announcement. Activating her jetpack, the Kryze immediately lifted several feet off of the ground and slid backward from where she was stand, blaster pistols raised and leveling upon a group of the Warlord’s men - unleashing a volley of yellow plasma which was quickly returned. It forced the Kryze to find some permanent cover behind the corner of an adjacent building.
Without warning, Raya shifted her gaze and fired a shot in the direction of Nox and the Warlord - hitting a guardsmen who has been preparing to flank Nox square in the chest.
After a quick shake of his head to clear it, Nox placed one hand on the wall beside him before standing up slowly. He was slightly dazed and he caught the tail end of someone who screamed behind him before a shot rang out upon his flank. The Solus turned just in time to see the guardsman struck in the chest before hitting the wall and then bouncing off and over the side.
After his momentary surprise, he followed where the shot came from and found Raya standing there. A quick cock of his head was offered as a silent thank you as that was about all he could do in that window. By the time he turned his head halfway to face the Warlord, the man would already be upon him. A massive sort of axe was swung right toward his ribs, Nox able to activate his lightsaber in time to act as an impromptu barrier.
It prevented the Solus from getting cleaved in half but the force of the blow would send him stumbling back with a loud grunt. Because of his unpreparedness, he couldn't find his footing and fell onto his back. Instead of letting him be there exposed, Nox would roll away as quickly as he could, barely avoiding a strike that easily pierced through the wood. Quickly, he sprang to his feet afterward, quickdrawing his peacemaker and firing a shot right at the Warlord.
The man dodged the best he could at the last minute, grazing his outside arm and searing the flesh. It more pissed off the Warlord than anything else as he let out a bellow of rage before charging once more. Smoke still billowed out from the wound that had been inflicted but no mind was given to it.
Immediately, Nox dropped his blaster and gripped his lightsaber with both hands to counter the weight of the ax. With another heaving strike thrown, the Solus threw his lightsaber into it as the two weapons would lock. After they connected, a spin was attempted in order to get around the Warlord but the man had assumed a similar move would take place. By the time the Solus got out of it, he saw a massive hand palm the front of his face before lifting him up a few feet and slamming it down.
Because of the weight from Nox, the Warlord, and the strike from the ax, the small area of flooring would finally give out. Instead of stopping, Nox would just go through the wooden planks before his opponent joined as the foundation gave out. Both crashed into a small room, dust, and debris falling in behind them as Nox gave a slight groan before rolling onto his stomach.
Raya only had a split second to acknowledge the nod from Nox before her attention was drawn elsewhere. The Kryze abruptly whipped around into the direction of something in her peripheral - catching sight of one of the Warlord’s men barreling towards her at full speed.
The Kryze barely had time to level her blaster on the man before he ducked low and slammed his shoulder into Raya’s chest. Armored and skilled as she was, she was still an exceptionally small woman - and full weight of someone nearly double her height and with a foot of height over her was enough to knock her right off her feet, slamming harshly into the ground with the man on top of her.
There was an immediate struggle between the two of them - both Mandalorian and Mercenary grappling for dominance in the mud. An elbow directly into the front of Raya’s helmet was enough to knock the Kryze’s bronze helmet off her head, and another blow brought a fresh stream of blood pouring from an opened Vash in her lip.
Just as the man drew back for another blow to her face, Raya seized her opportunity - her torso rising up from the ground as one arm snakes around the man’s shoulder. She pulled herself up towards him, while her other fist swung up towards the side of his neck. A flex of her wrist revealed the concealed blade in her vambrace, and the razor-sharp steel soon buried itself into the side of the mercenary’s throat before he even realized what she was doing.
Shoving the dying man off of her, Raya forced herself back onto her feet, retrieving her blaster pistols to begin exchanging a new volley of fire with the enemy. She watched with no lack of satisfaction as several of her blaster bolts found their mark, resulting several new bodies hitting the floor - all while Nox handled the skilled Warlord himself.
The fighting was incredibly bitter - and there was no lack of casualties on either side. Slowly but surely, however, they would begin to see the odds tipping in their favor. Those set to scale the walls had caught the defenders off guard, and it didn’t take them long to claim dominance over the walls - beginning to turn their attention onto the fighting below from their new vantage point.
Both Nox and the Warlord needed a moment to regain their bearings. The abrupt change in environment took them both by surprise. With a groan, the Solus pushed himself to his feet, able to stand for a brief moment before he stumbled back into a wall. His helmet smacked against the stone with a light thud but he was thankful for the support to give his legs a brief rest.
But his brief moment really would be brief as the Warlord finally got to his feet as well with a shake of his head. By the time he reached his full height, he would find Nox against the wall and waiting for him. The Solus just stared back at him as he breathed heavily, slipping his lightsaber back onto his belt and replacing it with his vibro-knife.
A laugh ripped out from the Warlord at the sight of the lightsaber being put away before he charged once more. Nox pushed off the wall immediately as well so that the two met in the middle. The Solus would take a step to his right, avoiding a downward slash from the ax it would split the planks but become stuck. Seeing his opportunity, he would capitalize and lash out like a viper to leave thin cuts across the Warlord's body. The first one would glide across his opponent's bicep and then the second his shoulder.
The ax would simply be dropped by the Warlord once he realized what was happening, spinning around as he pulled out his own knife. Seeing where he was about to spin to, he threw his shoulder right there and caught Nox square in the chest. The force would send him backward into a cabinet, glass, and whatever else shattering upon impact.
The crazed Warlord came at him once more and he ducked underneath the strike, shooting out a hand and gripping onto his collar before pulling his head down and having it slammed into the wall to daze him. Nox would then step to the right and jammed his knife right between the ribs and twisted. A pain-filled scream was out by his opponent, his weak attempt to resist by slamming his elbow down on Nox's spine but it didn't dissuade him.
Activating his jetpack once more, with his grip still on the knife, he would lift the Warlord into the air as both of them would go through a window. They would appear back in the courtyard as they aimed straight for the ground. Once they struck, a small explosion of mud would take place before they slid a few feet.
Nox would be on top of the Warlord and covered in mud, still holding onto the knife. The man clawed at his helmet before the Solus simply pushed both his hands away with a swipe and yanked out the knife. It would be brought down with a yell and slammed into the heart of his adversary. Almost instantly, he could see the life slip away from the Warlord's gaze before he finally let go. Nox would just exhale softly before he rolled off and laid beside him.
Within minutes of the initial attack, all-out chaos had consumed the fortress. A steady stream of plasma-bolts were exchanged throughout the compound in all directions, and the cries of the injured, dying and rallying Mandalorians could be heard on the air. It was a cacophony of sound that rang dull in Raya’s ears - her head still ringing from the blows she had taken to the face.
She could feel her hair matting down to her forehead as blood seeped from an open injury, but that wasn’t enough to take the Kryze out of the fight. Slipping one of the pistols back into its holster, Raya instead pulled the beskad from her hip and lunged forward - swinging her blade in a horizontal downward arc across the chest of one of the Warlord’s commando’s. It didn’t take the man more than a split second to spot Raya and to position his own vibroblade to intercept the weapon, catching the beskad just as it was beginning to arc upwards from his hip.
While it blocked the swing of Raya’s blade, the defensive maneuver did nothing to neutralize the other pistol in the Kryze’s left hand. Without a word, she pulled the trigger in rapid succession - firing three plasma bolts directly into the commando’s chest at near point-blank range.
By the time that Nox had finally put an end to the Warlord, the Solus would be able to see the battle definitively tipping in the favor of the Mandalorians and farmers. Even with their fortified position and initial advantage, the element of surprise and continuous stream of Mandalorian’s pouring in from above the walls began to completely overwhelm the defending forces. Men had already begun to retreat from the compound - attempting to slip out of back entrances, while others slowly but surely began to lay down their arms and surrender.
As the fighting began to slow, Raya picke up her helmet from the mud - running the top side of her gauntlet across her lip to smear away the blood. She glanced over towards Nox, umber eyes fixing onto the man properly for the first time. “You alright?”
Nox knew he should be on his feet and moving but he was doggedly tired, his breathing ragged. After multiple times of either falling or crashing through surfaces, it had a way to zap the energy out of him. There would be multiple cuts and bruises that covered his body but nothing that was debilitating or life-threatening. Both he and the Warlord laid beside each other but unlike the man next to him, his heart still beat and there were still warriors counting on him.
Rolling onto his stomach and then pushing himself to his feet, Nox was able to see the tide had turned. The walls had been practically taken. There were enough Mandos on it for it to be rendered useless. The farmers had fared slightly worse, all of them donned with fabric instead of armor plates like their allies. Multiple bodies would be face down in the mud but they still fought on strongly. Nox could spot Izla behind some cover with fellow villagers, peeking out to open fire periodically.
At that point, the pirate's resolve would be wavering, portions of them surrendering, retreating to the compound, or still fighting. To deliver the final blow, Nox got to his feet and simply grabbed onto the collar of the Warlord's clothing with his metal arm. Activating his jetpack, they both took to the air in order to hover above everyone else and open to see.
"Lay down your arms! Your leader is dead and you will share the same fate if you refuse!" With no assistance, Nox's booming voice would echo across the fort. Pirates who had started to run into the compound would stop in their tracks to turn and look at him. Those who were still fighting would separate as well to peer up into the sky. Once he had their attention, the Solus'alor would simply let go of the body and let it plummet to the ground. It would crash into the mud without grace and with a crunch as bones shattered upon impact.
Upon hearing the sound, the pirates only had to stare at the body for a moment before all of them dropped their weapons and put their hands above their heads. Nox remained in the air for a moment, ensuring that they did so until he came down, fellow Mandalorians walking through the prisoners and disarming them. The battle was won.
Hearing Raya approach, Nox would turn towards her with a slight grunt as he gave a cock of his head, "Nothing I haven't dealtwith before. Good work Raya." It hurt but he would live. The adrenaline in him may have been masking most of the pain, however.
Before the two could continue, Izla would approach, a loose grin on her face from the victory but subdued because of the losses she knew personally. "Victory is ours." Nox would focus his attention on her and give a nod, "It is. The Warlord is dead, and the other farms will eventually fall back into the fold." He was the symbol of unison for the pirates that had just been wiped out. "As per our agreement, we will allow you to keep control of your farmland and remain in command of your people in exchange for supplying us. You are not alone anymore and I hope this will be the birth of a great friendship."
The grin on Izla's face, while stagnant at first, crept even higher. She gave a bow to both Nox and Raya, "Thank you, to both ofyou. This day will not be forgotten." She would extend her hand, one that would be shaken by the Solus'alor and solidified the planet to the Mandalorian cause.