There was a stillness in the air just before the blasters were fired. For a moment there was a calm before the storm. The Bounty Hunter quickly reflected on the events that were leading up to this moment. Memories rushed through his mind as he remembered the missions all throughout his life. All those jobs and missions that he had pulled off had all led to this moment. In this moment of reflection, he thought about his most recent jobs that brought him to this planet. After Jabba's death and the fall of the Empire, work was hard to come by. In recent times, he heard about a bounty on a Mandalorian that had escape with an asset. While he had a desire to hunt down that Mandalorian and collect on the sizable reward; he was given orders from someone else not to pursue that. His expertise was needed elsewhere, and the pay was well worth his time. In this quick moment of stillness, the deranged bounty hunter reflected on one mission that was located on the planet on Dathomir. This job was a year, maybe two years after the Battle of Endor. For some reason, he reflected on this job on Dathomir. Even for the most skilled individuals, Dathomir was a dangerous terrain. From the vegetation to the lifeforms, the planet was nightmare for many. With all his pride and confidence, Dengar was not afraid of what dwelt on this world. He went with a crew of bounty hunters to this dangerous planet. This crew consisted of bounty hunters that were some of the most feared in the galaxy. Dengar and the rest of the hunters landed upon the surface of Dathomir. They were informed that there were squads of troopers being sent to the planet as well. The Imperials had a different task, while the bounty hunters were given some rather peculiar orders.
In that moment before the blasters went off, the stillness that had filled the world around made the world come to a sudden stop. The Bounty Hunter continued to reflect on this job on Dathomir. This job that had led him to this exact moment in his battle with the Marshall from Tatooine. On Dathomir, one of the bounty hunters questioned whether it was to show their worth to whoever was leading what was left of the Emperor's armies. There was bickering amongst the different bounty hunters, but Dengar did not care too much about the intent behind the orders. He knew that they would be paid handsomely for this job, and their target would be rather different than the targets he had faced in the past. They knew that the Imperial units that were sent there to Dathomir had very different orders than they had. As they made their way through the harsh landscape, they could hear sounds of the creatures that had dwelt there. The roars and the cries could be heard from all around. There was a stench in the air that would make most that were not accustomed to it pass out. This crew of bounty hunters had experienced this stench on more than one occasion. One of the crew had tracked their target into a swamp that was surrounded by sharp rocks. A blood-red haze had covered the world from the light of its central star. They heard growls that had shook the swamp around them and heard the powerful roars. Dengar chuckled as he knew they were getting close to their target. As the crew of bounty hunters walked through the swamp, they could see the remains of different inhabitants of this planet. Some were crushed into the ground and others were floating in the mirky waters of the swamp.
As Dengar confronted the Marshall of Mos Pelgo, a blast pierced through the air. His mind still on that job on Dathomir. The crew of bounty hunters crept through one of the many horrifying swamps that livde upon the planet's surface. From high above, they saw tie fighters that swarm through the air traveling towards one location. They knew that whatever the Imperial troopers were facing, they needed air support from the remnants of the Empire's forces. The dangerous crew of bounty hunters heard the growls of their target growing louder. They saw different creatures darting across the landscape. The highly trained hunters did not flinch as they were aware of, they were after. Suddenly, they felt a tremor from underneath. The terrifying growls quickly turned to powerful roars. The towering behemoth tore through the swamps as it made its way towards the hunters. This powerful monster, this Rancor swung at one of the hunters and knocked them several feet away. The frightening beast pushed its way through some of the other hunters. Dengar chuckled as he watched the beast tear its way through the crew of deadly hunters. "Shame we have to take you alive..." Dengar said under his breath as he put it on stun. He shot at the beast, but to no surprise; the creature continued with its rampage through this grueling swamp. Dengar roared at the other members in the crew to unleash their stun blasts upon the creature. With deafening roars, the Rancor fought against these bounty hunters. With a bone crushing grip, the mighty beast snatched one of the hunters from the ground. The creature bit the hunter in half and threw the hunter's lower torso in the mirky water below. Dengar let out a chuckle as this beast was putting up a fight. The sadistic bounty hunter glanced up as one of the other crew members was able to get in their ship. The ship hovered over the Rancor. Beams of blinding light shined from the ship and onto the Rancor. The Rancor let out a roar as it tried to attack the ship. With this distraction, Dengar and the remaining bounty hunters unleash several stun blasts upon the dangerous creature. The creature finally fell upon the swamps of Dathomir. With the beast defeated, Dengar and the other hunters were able to secure the beast. Dengar grinned as he realized that with one of the hunters now dead, that would mean more payment for Dengar and the others. Soon they would deliver this Rancor to the remnants of the Empire. The sadistic bounty hunter was curious as to why they wanted a pet Rancor, but that curiosity faded as their ship disappeared into the outer reaches of space.
All those memories that had flashed before his eyes in an instant had left to this moment now. Standing before the Marshall of Mos Pelgo, the sadistic bounty hunter thought that he would be able to defeat his enemy with ease. As that blast range out, he realized that this Marshall was quick on his draw. A single blast went into the bounty hunter's chest. A burning pain surged through his body as he felt his legs trembling beneath him. The bounty hunter let out a hiss as he shook off the pain and took aim with his rifle. The Marshall shot off another blast that once again went into the chest of the bounty hunter. Dengar fell back onto the ground below him. The sounds of hissing quickly turned to grasps for air as he tried to fight for what life he had left. Cobb Vanth stood over the bounty hunter and kicked the rifle away from the infamous bounty hunter. Cobb stared down at Dengar, and Dengar stared right back up at the Marshall. The bounty hunter nodded his head and smiled as his head fell back. The bounty hunter's life faded away as Cobb Vanth left him there on that spot. The Marshall of Mos Pelgo heard blaster fire throughout this Imperial base. As he sauntered through the corridors, he could have sworn he had heard powerful roars coming from somewhere within this wretched base. He thought to himself what kind of trouble could the Jedi and Mandalorian be getting themselves into as he continued on through the base.
The daughter of Clan Wren made her way through this Imperial Base. As she sauntered through the base, she reflected on what Ahsoka had said to Cobb Vanth and her, "May the Force be with you." She remembered those words every time Ezra had said them in the past, and she had hope that there was something more here. In her heart, she hoped she would find something that would lead her to her friend; but in the back of her mind, she knew better. Sabine knew that Ahsoka was right, and this journey would be a long road in finding Ezra. Despite knowing all of this, she knew there had to be something in this base that could help them in their search. As she snuck past the hordes of stormtroopers, there were symbols that she had seen before. Symbols that brought memories from a time that she tried to forget. Symbols that were from the planet of Dathomir. Sabine remembered her time when she was possessed by the Nightsisters. The Mandalorian let out a sigh as she glared at these different symbols that were located on different areas of the base. "What are they planning?" Sabine thought to herself as she continued to make her way through the base. As she stared upon these different symbols, she could not help but think of Thrawn. She knew how Thrawn took interests in studying different cultures and exploiting the weaknesses of those cultures. For the Grand Admiral Thrawn, knowledge was power. There had to be some connection between these symbols from Dathomir and the Grand Admiral. From underneath her helmet, a smile formed over Sabine's face as an idea raced through her mind. She took out a cannister from her belt and started to paint over the different symbols. The Mandalorian quickly painted an image from a memory that she had from her days with the Ghost crew. She heard the unified footsteps of stormtroopers coming down the corridor, and the daughter of Clan Wren went to hide in the shadows.
It was only a matter of moments until one of the Imperial troopers discovered the spray-painted ways. They scrambled around, knowing that there was an intruder on their base. "That didn't last long..." Sabine said under breath as she threw a smoke bomb out in the middle of the squad of troopers. As the smoke bomb detonated and the corridor filled with blinding smoke. The Mandalorian jumped from behind a corner and let of several blasts in the direction of the troopers. She heard a couple fall upon the floor below as she ran for a better vantage point. Sabine shot down a couple more before the smoke cleared and was able to take down the rest. She knew that with the sounds of blaster fire, it would not be long until more troopers would come. The Mandalorian quickly up some explosive in one end of the corridor. She started to make her way into one of the laboratory areas. There were metals being forged into different weapons. Sabine remembered the weapons that she herself created for the Empire and shook her head in disgust. While glaring at the different weapons, she gazed over what appeared to be relics from Dathomir. "What are they up too?" She said to herself as she looked at the weapons and the relics. As she crept through this lab, she came across an Imperial science officers. Before this officer could react, the Mandalorian aimed her blasters upon the officer. The officer started to tremble as he got on his knees before the Mandalorian.
"Who are you?" Sabine asked as she glared upon the trembling man.
"Randalls... Ca... Ca... Captain Ra... Captain Randalls..." The officer stuttered as he continued to tremble.
"What is going on here? What does the Empire have planned?" The Mandalorian asked.
"I... I... I don't... I don't know." The officer replied.
"What do you mean you don't know?!" Sabine yelled as she looked over the lab. "Why are there artifacts from Dathomir? What is the Empire planning?"
"We are trying to gain more knowledge of the galaxy, and a deeper understanding of cultures." The officer responded as he continued to shake.
"Huh..." Sabine chuckled. "You expect me to believe that?" Sabine said as she kept her blasters trained on the officer.
"After the fall..." The officer said as he cleared his throat. "There was not much we could do. We are trying to make this galaxy into a better place."
"Why Dathomir?" Sabine asked.
"I.... I... I'll show you..." The officer replied.
Sabine took a breath as she let out a grunt. "If this is a trap, I will not hesitate to burn this base to the ground with you inside." Sabine hissed as she followed behind the officer with her blasters against his back.
With her blaster trained against the back of this young Imperial science officers, she knew in the pit of her stomach that there was something wrong with this. Despite the cowardly ways of this Imperial, she knew that there had to be a trap. As she followed behind, she also knew that she had to find some answers. During that short time on Dathomir, she lost herself and she knew that she could not allow what was left of the Empire to gain that type of power. Through the dark corridor, she could hear the unified steps of different squads of troopers. She hid in the shadows with the officer in front of her. The daughter of Clan Wren warned the officer if she even had the slightest thought that he was leading her into a trap, she would put him down in an instant.
4 Years Ago…
Descending upon this planet in the unknown regions, the crew of bounty hunters landed their large vessel upon a platform. Several troopers surrounded the vessel with blasters trained and pieces of equipment ready for what was about to come. Large doors from the ship opened wide revealing the massive behemoth that was captured on Dathomir. With electric rods, the hunters were able to lead the creature onto the platform, and the stormtroopers stood ready for any sign of trouble. The creature roared in fury as it tried to find a way to break free from the chains that kept it contained. With every move the creature made, it felt a surge of pain from the electric rods and the chains contained a source of energy that kept the creature weakened. The Rancor was led through a large gate and into what appeared to be an aquarium that was made for this beast. Little by little, they led the massive creature into this aquarium all the while several Imperial officers stood behind cover watching as the monster was being delivered. The massive Rancor knocked troopers back and crushed under his massive fists. As the cries of different Imperial troopers filled the world around, the bounty hunter fought to keep the creature bound. A rage burned within the Rancor as it was being led into this prison. That rage started to slowly burn away as it became a sadness. This creature was ripped from its home and taken to this prison for reasons that it could never understand.
As the squad of stormtroopers and the crew of bounty hunters unleashed the creature into the aquarium, the massive Rancor sat down upon the ground of its new home. It growled and roared as it gazed upon the surroundings. There was a stream of swampy water that went from one end to the other. This stream had a continuous flow that continued to push water through the aquarium. There were trees and plants from all parts of the galaxy surrounding stream. There were massive rocks and what appeared to be a cave on one end of the aquarium. The Rancor glared in the sky and saw an observation deck high above this prison. It saw a man staring down upon the beast. The beast let out a powerful roar as it glared up at the Imperial officer. After a while, the creature dropped its head and closed its eyes. The creature realized that despite its size and strength, it was stuck in this prison. With a growl, the creature sat down upon a rock and waited for what was to come. As the creature sat there in defeat, the Imperial officer stood high above with a grin on his face.
In the years that followed...
Day after day, the Rancor was being tested by the Imperial officer above. Days would go by without food, sometimes even weeks without being fed. Day by day, a rage burned inside of the beast as it became dependent on the Imperials. Day by day, the beast would gaze into the air to see if that Imperial was standing on an observation deck, and day by day it would wait. It waited for food to be dropped down for it to devour. It waited to see what was planned for it. There were days that it was shocked with some type of electrical weapon. The Rancor howled in pain as it glared in the air. Whether it was enduring pain or devouring a meal, that Imperial officer stood and watched from that observation deck. As time had passed, it seemed as if different beasts were put in the aquarium with the behemoth. Large beasts from other parts of the galaxy were placed before the Rancor. The Rancor battled these creatures, all the while that same officer gazed upon it from high above. The Rancor would stare up at the officer and let out horrifying roars, but it was no use. For the Rancor, it was survival of the fittest. When the dangerous beasts stopped coming, the Imperials started putting another threat into the aquarium with the Rancor. Massive droids that towered above many others were led into the Rancor prison. Through blood and scars, the Rancor battled these droids. With every victory, the Rancor great more and more vicious. With every battle, that same officer studied the beast from that observation deck. With each passing day, he was molding this creature for a specific purpose.
After avoiding multiple squads, Sabine and the Imperial Research officer went into another laboratory. There were research tables scattered throughout the room and bone fragments all around. Sabine glared at all the different skeletons and bones. In her time with the Empire, she had seen atrocities and horrors, but this seemed different. She had seen different creatures being tested on for weapons development, but she had not seen the skeletal remains of the different creatures. Typically, the Empire would quickly dispose of any remains and go onto the next test.
"What is it that you do around here, Randalls?" Sabine asked.
"I... I... I study different creatures’ behaviors and how to modi.... modify them." Randalls replied as his voice continued to shake.
"You mean control them against their will?" Sabine asked with anger.
"Not ex... not exactly. We... We are trying to find ways to make a habitat better for all living creatures in thi... in this galaxy." Randalls replied.
"Better? The Empire has destroyed entire systems and enslaved races of people. There is no better with the Empire!" Sabine replied.
"I... I will... le... lead you to my friend... he... he will show you what it is that we are tr.. trying to accomplish." Randalls replied with that same shaking voice.
"I don't trust you at all!" Sabine replied. "I've never met an Imperial as cowardly as you and there has to be more to this facility. Why are metals and weapons being brought here?"
"I am simply a research officer..." Randalls replied as he attempted to catch his composure. "I do not work on weapons research or manufacturing. I ca.. I can assure you that we are striving to make the galaxy into a better place. My... my research is proving to be beneficial for our purpose. My friend, my associate will show you what exactly we are doing here."
"Like I said before... one wrong move and I will not hesitate to put you down!" Sabine replied.
"I understand." Randalls replied.
A Week Prior...
"We are not moving forward with your project..." An Imperial General said as he glared out into the Rancor aquarium.
"Sir, we can proceed as planned. This operation will prove to be a vital movement in the resurgence of the Empire. The Grand Adm....." Officer Randals responded before being cut off.
"You are merely a subordinate. Do not argue with me. We have our orders, and you were given reign over your little science project. The Grand Admiral does not wish to proceed at this time." The General said coldly as he glared out into the aquarium. "Quite frankly, it is a waste of resources that we do not have."
"This plan will work... We unleash this creature onto the New Republic, it will become a nightmare to all those worthless leaders. It will be the distraction that we need for the Grand Admiral to proceed with the plans that he has in motion." Randalls pleaded.
"We have let this gone on long enough. This project will be shutdown. Our plans with Dathamir will take a different approach. The Grand Admiral was never interested in this disgusting anyway." The General said as he started walking away.
"How long?" Randalls asked.
"A week, maybe less. Everything will be phased out in time. Your project will be put down." The General replied as he disappeared in the corridor.
With those years wasted, the Imperial officer stood out on that all too familiar observation deck. He glared upon the beast that he had molded for so long. The creature stared up at the officer with hate in his eyes. Randalls shook his head and said to himself. "Pathetic... You were going to change the ride of this galaxy, and now you will just be another worthless form of life." As he walked away, the officer could hear the roars of the Rancor, and just sighed as he realized that his work would go unfinished.
A week later...
As Randalls prepared to clear his memory pads, he saw something that sparked an idea. There was motion throughout the base. His readers found that a Jedi, a Mandalorian and some gunslinger had snuck into the base. This could be the opportunity to show his superiors that his work could prove vital in their plans against the New Republic. He waited in the shadows of his laboratory. He waited for his opportunity to lead them into the lair of the Rancor.
After walking through different corridors, the Imperial officer had a metal door open. He glanced back at the Mandalorian. A small smile formed across his face as he disappeared around a corner. Sabine growled as she lost side of the Imperial officer. The door behind her immediately shut as Sabine glanced back. Another door opened with an energy shield. Sabine saw the officer standing before her with a sinister smile on his face. The daughter of Clan Wren aimed her blasters at the officer, but she knew that there was nothing that could pierce the energy shield.
"What is this?!" Sabine hissed as she glared at the Imperial.
"You are simply a means to an end." Randalls said with a confident voice that Sabine had not heard up to this point. "A test for my champion! This champion will be a terror to the members your precious High Republic while the Empire will rise again!"
"What champion?" Sabine asked as she stumbled back.
A growl pierced through this strange room that almost felt as if it shook the ground beneath her. Sabine stumbled back with her blasters trained on the shadows. A light broke through the darkness as Sabine the room clearly. It was an aquarium with a habitat for a swamp like land. There were rock formations that touched the ceiling above. A stench filled the air as Sabine saw bones scattered throughout. The Mandalorian slowly walked through this world that the Imperial Officer had trapped her in, and her eyes moved in all directions. She then heard a powerful roar that echoed throughout the entire base. The daughter of Clan Wren saw the horror emerge from the shadows within its cave. She saw the nightmare that was the Rancor.