A group of ships hurtled through the thick clouds of Ryndellia. Troopers jostled against each other in gunships, led by Inquisitor Morek. Some ships were new models, while others dated back to the Clone Wars, their occupants of similar vintage. They soared over a ridge and settled down into a rocky valley. A steady drizzle of precipitation fell all around them.
Before disembarking, the squad leader called on everyone to double-check their air supplies and filters. “Remember, that’s no spring shower outside, that’s a highly corrosive, if diluted acid falling. The atmosphere is toxic. If you breathe it, your lungs will dissolve into a pile of organic sludge faster than you can say, ‘Your mother’s a Jedi.’” Once satisfied everyone was prepared, he hit the door release, and the panels slid open with a thud. Giving the area a quick visual scan, he signaled to the men around him and they all piled out of the ship. Half a dozen similar ships around them were doing the same.
It was roughly half a click to their destination, and the men marched quickly, not wasting any time.
“What possible reason could the Inquisitor have for coming to this dump of a planet?” asked one of the troopers.
“Cut the chatter, Ricochet,” admonished the squad leader. “It doesn’t matter what she wants, just that she wants it.”
“Sorry, Stretch,” muttered the trooper named Ricochet.
A second squad fell in beside them, this one wearing newer model armor. A few of them nodded to each other, but otherwise didn’t acknowledge each other’s presence. Despite working together now for some time, there was no love lost between the clones and these newer stormtrooper recruits.
After a ten minute march, everyone came to a halt, forming up around Inquisitor Morek, R0-N1, and a handful of officers. They clustered around a hatch of some kind. The Inquisitor wore a dark cloak against the elements, her visor’s reddish glow reflecting against the falling drops of precipitation. R0-N1 was plugged into a socket, attempting to open the door, but without much luck.
One of the stormtroopers muttered, “I don’t like this standing around. Why don’t we just blast our way in?”
Ricochet glanced sideways at him. “Look at your armor.”
The stormtrooper raised his arm. The shiny white surface was already dull, with early signs of pitting in the corners. “What the hell?” he said in surprise.
“If we blast our way in, everything will get exposed to this, and whatever the Inquisitor is after will be destroyed. You want to make her unhappy?”
“No.” The stormtrooper’s pout was audible, even through the helmet filters.
“You just better hope the droid gets that hatch unlocked before your armor dissolves into sponge stone.”
“Yeah, well…what about your armor?”
Ricochet looked at his own arm. The shine had long since worn off, but at least so far exposure to Ryndellia didn’t seem to be doing it much more harm. The last remnants of his custom paint job were quickly being worn away, though. He shrugged. “It’s been through worse.”
At the hatch, R0-N1 was struggling. He had worked for several minutes, but had been unable to make a dent in the security, and he could barely make sense of what the system was telling him. He retracted his data arm and babbled something to the Inquisitor.
“You know I can’t understand you, droid. Just keep at it.” She pointed back at the socket. Getting the attention of Stretch, she barked, “You there. I thought you told me he had been repaired.”
“As fully repaired as possible under the circumstances, Inquisitor. Cutter– ah, that is, CT-7328 tells me the internals on him were unlike anything he’s seen. I think the phrase he used was, ‘not fit for an antique dealer’s junk drawer.’ Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer a newer model?”
Inquisitor Morek replied coolly, “I know what I’m doing, soldier.”
R0-N1 chirped again, more insistent this time. I keep telling you…. He raised the column sporting the restraining bolt in the air, spun a quarter turn and tapped it on the wall, then returned to face the Inquisitor and waggled the column in the air.
Inquisitor Morek stared at the droid for a beat. “You have a one track mind, droid. This had better help.” She drew her lightsaber, switched on the blade and sliced off the restraining bolt.