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Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Fri Feb 25, 2005 5:14 pm Post subject: The Final Mission: Book Three.
|Continued from Part 8.
“I think we’re in trouble,” Jenna mumbled from the front seat.
“Anyone have a plan?” Alya asked, “I’m afraid I left my book of plans at home”
Deven thought quickly. His hand dropped to his belt and came into contact with his lightsaber. A plan began to form in his head. It was risky, but if he could pull it off.
“Faster” Deven shouted vaulting over the roll bar and onto the hood. “Drive straight at the ST” Using the force to hold himself steady he stood straight and ignited his saber. The blood red blade seemed harsh in the early morning sun and not for the first time Deven considered the inappropriateness of the colour. Red lightsabers had always been connected to Sith and Dark Jedi and several Jedi had expressed concern at Deven’s choice of colour.
In reality Deven’s decision to have a red blade was actually the result of an error. The crystal he used in the lightsabers construction was originally orange. But an undetected flaw in the crystals makeup had resulted in a colour shift when energy had been fed though it to form the blade. Despite the error Deven had left the blade red, as a reminder that though plans can be made the results can be so different.
“Deven, what are you doing?” Trinity shouted.
“Taking care of business” Deven replied
“Get down from …” Trinity shouted, but was cut off as the AS-ST fired.
Deven caught the laser bolt on his lightsaber and deflected it harmlessly away. A wave of heat passed across him and momentarily distracted him from deflecting the bolt towards the scout walker. The second one he caught at the right angle and sent the bolt back towards the walker. This time the bolt struck the lightsaber with enough force to send him sprawling back slightly.
But his aim was true.
The bolt travelled back along its previous path and impacted the walker’s head. There was an explosion as the AT-ST exploded.
Jenna Tarn watched her father in amazement as he deflected the bolt effortlessly back at the Imperial walker. THIS was the man her mother had always talked about. The hero who had almost single-handedly liberated the world of Ald Suran many years before. A man who ignored the odds and came out on top. That was the Deven Tarn of her bedtime stories.
She’d always thought the stories might have been exaggerated; yet here her father was demonstrating his sheer bravery.
As the AT-ST exploded, her father scrambled back over the roll bars and back into the rear of the warthog.
Next to her Alya let out a yell of delight “Way to go sir!” She shouted
“Way to go indeed,” Jenna’s mother shouted turning her head to look her father in the eye “If you ever do anything so stupid again, I will break both your legs”
“Understood” Deven said in response, then he grinned and winked at Jenna.
Jenna grinned in return. It was good to have her father here.
Alya accelerated the warthog and swerved around the wreckage of the AT-ST. Behind them the AT-PT turned and began to give chase.
Deven turned and spotted the walker increasing its speed. It’s laser cannons fired and a bolt of energy passed close by to impact against the façade of a building. Masonry exploded and large chunks of duracrete tumbled to the street.
“Get us out of here!” Deven shouted
“I’m on it” Alya responded
Trinity glanced at the warthogs map display that projected a basic map overlay of the immediate area. She traced her finger across a number of streets.
“Go left!” She said quickly.
Alya skidded the ‘hog’ around the corner and ran straight into a stormtrooper squad. Most of the troopers got out of the way; two of the troopers weren’t fast enough however. The wheeled vehicle bounced and Deven was thrown around in the back.
“What was that?” He asked
“Road kill” Jenna said
“Speed-bumps” Alya said increasing their speed.
“What’s that walker doing?” Trinity shouted changing the subject.
“Still following” Deven replied as the AT-PT came running around the corner behind them.
Alya threw the jeep around corners and accelerated down streets, occasionally they passed Imperial troops who responded by firing on them. In reply Deven and Trinity answered with their own blasters and the Imperials quickly gave up on the conversation.
Still the walker chased. It fired off another burst that passed over in a wave of heat. Another building exploded into flame.
“Where are the Royal Guard and Republic troops?” Jenna asked
“They must have already been defeated,” Trinity said quietly.
Another shot from the walker blasted a crater in the road ahead, forcing Alya to swerve the warthog around it and allowing the walker to gain on them.
“We need to get out of the city!” Deven said
Alya glanced at the map “Got it!” She grinned swerving around another corner “Hold on!”
Trinity frowned at the screen then looked up in horror. “Not this way!” She shouted
“Too late” Alya answered
“What’s wrong?” Deven asked “Doesn’t this way lead out of the city?”
“It does” Trinity said “But it’s under construction”
“Ah!” Alya said quietly “That explained that sign”
“We have to stop” Trinity shouted
“Not a good idea” Deven responded, “What’s the road like ahead?”
“The road ends in a steep slope. It was part of a new road system, but the project was put on hold after several accidents”
“Do we stop?” Alya asked
Deven thought for a moment “No, keep going”
“Alright. Hold on tight everybody”
The warthog reached the end of the round and shot out over a steep drop. Jenna let out a whoop of exhilaration as the jeep began to drop. It hit the ground hard and nearly threw everyone out. Only Deven’s use of the force kept everyone in their place.
The ‘hog’ drifted left and right as Alya worked to keep the jeep under control on the loose terrain. The engine whined as it struggled to cope with the gradient and parts ground against parts they weren’t designed to come into contact with.
“Is that walker still with us?” Trinity shouted above the noise.
Deven looked behind them just in time to see the AT-PT stumble off the end of the road. The sudden shift in terrain at such speeds was too much for the Imperial machine. It’s right leg snapped at the joint and the whole thing went over and began tumbling down the hill after them.
“He’s good” Deven replied, “Though you may want to get out of his way”
A few moments later Alya got the ‘hog’ under control and they raced away from the city.
“Where too?” Alya asked
“North-east” Trinity said looking at the map screen “To Ravenholm. We can regroup there”
As Alya turned the warthog in the indicated direction Deven’s comlink beeped.
“Tarn” Deven said bringing the comlink to his mouth.
“Colonel, It’s Raiko. Where are you?”
“Heading out from Nashira. What’s your situation?”
“We are airborne in the dropships and Laat’s heading north. We’re with a Skye fighter squadron. They say there’s some sort of base up there. Do we trust them?”
“They’re telling the truth. Head to the base and get the troops set up, we’ll meet you there”
“Copy that, Raiko out”
“So we get to this base and then what?” Alya asked
“We fight back,” Trinity said quietly.
Garik ‘Face’ Loran walked across Freedom plaza in Coruscant’s palace district. A short time ago he’d received a message asking for him to meet here. Though he admitted there was a slight chance that it could be some sort of trap, he dismissed it on the basis that the message had carried an old Rogue squadron encryption that to this day hadn’t been broken. On the other hand, he hadn’t survived this long by being foolish, so he carried his trusty Redemptor and a vibroblade as security.
Looking around he could only see one figure. A man dressed in robes that all but screamed ‘Jedi’. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he quickly deduced the man’s identity.
“Hello Corran” Face said approaching the man.
“Greetings face” Jedi Master Corran Horn replied turning around.
Face noted that Corran had changed little since they’d last spoken. His hair had a few more grey hairs and his beard was grown out a bit more, but he still carried himself was an indefinable calmness.
“It’s been a while,” Face said offering Corran his hand.
“That it has” Corran gripped Face’s hand and shook it firmly.
“So what brings you to Coruscant?” Face asked, “I’m guessing it wasn’t for the political atmosphere”
Corran didn’t answer straight away and instead turned and looked at a nearby holo news terminal. After a moment he turned back to Face.
“I’ve had a vision of some importance”
“I see” Face replied. He didn’t.
“It’s important I find Deven Tarn. The galaxy could depend on me getting a warning to him”
“That could be a problem. He’s in the outer rim at the moment on a world called Skye. Unfortunately The Imps hit a few of our relay stations and we haven’t been able to get messages though for a few days”
“Then we have to go there. It is of vital importance,” Corran said gravely.
“Getting a ship could be a problem. Everything is tied up with the situations on Manaan and Tyferra” Face replied referring to the two major suppliers of the so-called miracle fluids. Tyferra produced the heavily used bacta, while the ocean world of Manaan produced the less effective, but still valuable Kolto.
“Yes, I heard about the Imperial attacks and felt the deaths in the force. What sort of casualties are they looking at?”
“Tyferra is heavily devastated and it could be decades before they can reach full bacta production. Estimated casualties are estimated at twenty-three thousand Vratix and half that in other workers” Face shook his head “Manaan is a total loss, the ocean was effectively poisoned. All sources of Kolto are gone forever and….” He sighed, “Though the floating cities escaped harm, it’s estimated that the Selkath will be extinct with a century”
“They can’t be resettled?”
“No, they can only mate in Manaan’s oceans and that’s now out of the question”
Corran nodded. “The Empire appears to be unified again”
“Yes, thirty separate attacks with four days. Intel seems to think they have unified behind a new leader. Who, we don’t know”
“I feel we may find the answers on Skye” Corran said gravely
“We’ll need a ship and I know just where to find one” Face grinned
Halley Kadorto walked into the Bantha’s Rest, A cantina in one of Corusscant’s middle-class districts. He was on Coruscant for a few days collecting a new Sentinel landing craft for the Lianna academy. Retrofitted for use as an observer vessel during star-fighter training, the shuttle had been sat on a pad on Coruscant for the better part of a month waiting for a pilot to deliver it. Finally Halley had given in and travelled to Coruscant to collect the shuttle himself. It was a four-day round trip and it also gave him a chance to collect information on the new X-Wing redesign that had just entered service.
Then he’d got the message asking to meet him at this cantina. As he ducked though the door he looked around expecting to see a familiar face. Instead he heard a familiar voice.
“Hey, Kadorto over here”
“Why do I have a deep sense of foreboding?” he muttered turning. He saw Face loran and Corran Horn sat in a booth and quickly joined them.
“Hi guys” Halley said sitting down “what’s up?”
“I’m cutting straight to the point Halley” Corran said, “We need a ship quickly”
“What does this have to do with me?” Halley asked already knowing the answer
“It’s come to our attention that you currently have possession of a ship,” Face said with a tight smile.
“And you want to use that ship to go somewhere? Possibly somewhere were it might get damaged?”
“Sort of” Face shrugged
“No way” Halley shook his head “The only way that ship leaves the landing pad is with me at the controls and it’s going to Lianna”
“And there’s nothing we can do to change your mind?” Corran asked
“But you said it would only be a few days”
“I know Tela” Halley was saying “But something has come up. I’ll be gone another three weeks at the most”
“It’s not Janson again is it?” Tela frowned “Remember last time the two of you got together?”
“Yes, I remember. But it’s not Janson”
“I miss you”
“And I miss you too” Halley smiled “And the twins”
Face and Corran stood a respectful distance away as Halley spoke to his wife on the holo-comm. He’d been lucky to have even made the connection, since half the relays were down and the other half were all but jammed with communications traffic. After a few more minutes Halley reluctantly signed off and joined Corran and Face.
“Lets go. The sooner we set off, the sooner I can get back to Lianna”
They rode the travel car to the star-port in relative silence then made their way to Halley’s shuttle. As they approached they noticed a man lingering nearby.
“Friend of yours?” Halley asked as the man moved to intercept them.
“Never seen him before” Face replied and Corran also offered a negative.
“Greetings” The man said as he approached them “Are you heading to Skye?”
The three exchanged looks of confusion. “What makes you think that?” Face asked cautiously.
“You have business with Deven Tarn?” The man asked ignoring the question.
Face took a long look at the man. His hair was almost pure white and the wrinkles of his face and roughness of his voice hinted at advanced age. “Who are you?” He asked
“Call me Jan” The old man replied “Could you gentlemen possibly find room for one more passenger”
“What makes you think I’ll agree to another passenger?” Halley cut in.
“Perhaps the fact that I’m designating this a Omega-seven-Five situation”
That stopped Face short. An O-7-5 meant an Intelligence mission that superseded all other assignments. Face had only encountered one before when he’d been pulled off and assignment to investigate rumours of a new Imperial Star-ship design known as the Imperium. He’d never found anything about the vessel other than a few facts about its basic specifications.
“What’s an Omega-seven-Five?” Corran asked Face.
“It means he’s coming along” Face acceded.
“Hang on!” Halley protested, but Jan turned and walked up the shuttle’s boarding ramp. With a cry of frustration Halley threw up his arms in surrender “I’ll get us set for launch” He said following Jan into the shuttle.
“So what was that all about?” Corran asked
“It can only mean trouble” Face sighed
Imperial SSD Smoke Jaguar.
Supreme Admiral Lon Sur glanced over the various displays on the bridge of the Smoke Jaguar and nodded in satisfaction. The Republic fleet had pulled back and was now holed up in the Skye shipyards where they licked their wounds. The ground battles were dying away, although a large number of units had escaped the Imperial forces and where grouping somewhere north of the capital. However the Imperial troops had taken the capital with minimal losses and had captured several high-ranking officials. Including Republic Councillor Fyor Rodan. Also the political entity known as Rogue Squadron had been caught on the ground and wiped out.
“A fitting end for political pawns” Sur thought
Still there had been some errors. The Genyosha and Thirtieth Armoured had escaped destruction and all members of the Royal family had escaped. The officers responsible had been executed and their bodies hung outside the royal palace as a warning against failure.
Still Sur still had to answer to his own master.
He turned to the deck officer. “Have my shuttle prepared to take me to the surface”
“Yes my lord”
“I’ll be in my ready room. Signal me when the shuttle is ready”
“Yes my lord”
Sur turned and strode from the bridge. Once in his ready room, he sealed the door and almost instantly felt the subtle pressure on his mind. As pain sparked though him he fell to his knees.
“Forgive me Celestial One,” He whimpered, “I have failed to achieve my objectives”
The pressure increased.
“Several key Republic units still live and the Royal family escaped our grasp”
Pain sparked though Sur’s mind.
“I have taken steps to rectify the mistakes, though they will take some time to come to fruition”
Despite the great distance between him and the source of the pressure on his mind, he could almost feel the satisfaction.
“I do not understand Great One” Sur lifted his head and ignoring the blood running from his nose tried to stand. “This sets back your timetable”
The pressure increased and Sur knew he’d erred.
“I apologise Great One. I will double my efforts immediately”
The was a brief feeling of acknowledgment then the pressure was gone completely. With his mind free for the time being Lon Sur collapsed and began quietly sobbing.
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:05 pm Post subject:
|Several hours after previous part.
Deven scanned the horizon for a few seconds and stopped on the sight of the city of Ravenholm. Once great spires and towers were pitted with holes and many were reduced to rubble. The city appeared to have suffered an orbital bombardment.
“That’s Ravenholm?” He asked passing the electro binoculars to Alya.
Trinity nodded “That’s Ravenholm,” She confirmed.
“Looks like we’re too late” Alya said, “The Imperials have already blasted the place”
“Actually that happened over thirty years ago when my father took Skye for the Empire” Trinity corrected. “When my grandfather refused to bow to him, my father order Ravenholm destroyed” She shook her head sadly “The largest city on Skye and they kill all twenty thousand citizens in less than a day”
“What’s there now?” Deven asked.
“The fall back planetary command centre. Buried under enough ferrocrete and durasteel to withstand a full bombardment,” Trinity answered “We built it under Ravenholm to avoid civilian casualties that would result from such an event”
Deven nodded. A wise choice.
The three of them turned and walked to the warthog where Jenna was scanning the comm channels.
“Anything?” Deven asked his daughter as he climbed into the drivers seat.
Jenna nodded. “The decryption software on this thing isn’t the best, but it got through some of the low level Imperial frequencies. Apparently The Republic fleet has pulled back to the safety of the shipyards and the Imperial fleet is under orders to hold back”
“They obviously want the shipyards intact,” Alya said “Other wise they’d just charge in”
“What else did you find out?” Deven asked
“Nashira is under martial law and some sort of construction work has begun in Freedom Park”
“They’re what?” Trinity said coldly.
“They’ve landed a pair of construction droids which are in the process of constructing a shield generator”
“In Freedom Park?”
Jenna nodded in response.
Trinity silently shook her head sadly.
“Wait!” Jenna suddenly shouted. She listened carefully to the communications channels. “The Imperial fleet has launched a relief force for the ground troops, around twenty ships,” She looked up “Enough troops and armour to take complete control of the planet”
“We have to get to Ravenholm and organise” Deven said starting the engine as Trinity and Alya climbed into the jeep. As soon as they were in they headed off towards the ruins of Ravenholm”
Deven drove the ‘hog’ slowly through the ruin streets steering around the occasional, crater, pile of rubble or long abandoned speeder. Most of the buildings in Ravenholm had been reduced to just two of three floors in height. In a few places several of the cities skyscrapers still stood, though severely reduced in height they towered over the other ruins.
As they drove Deven could feel the echoes of death caused by the bombardment so many years before. He tried to clamp down on his force sense, but the event had been so horrific that that the wound in the force was intense.
“Take a left here” Trinity indicated a main highway that led of their current route.
As Deven turned the warthog he was immediately confronted with a large squat building. It looked like it had once been a government building, but the upper three floors were non-existent and a large opening had been created at the front. The structure encompassed an area the size of a Star Destroyer.
As they approached Deven could see a large over-hang that would effectively hide the opening from above. The opening was high enough to get an AT-AT though and in the darkness beyond Deven thought he could see a pair of dropships similar to the ones assigned to the Genyosha.
They had just reached the opening when a pair of soldiers in Royal Guard colours stepped into view. They held their rifles at the ready, but relaxed slightly when they recognised the passengers. Without a sound the guards saluted and waved them though in to the opening.
Deven drove them in though the opening and what he saw took his breath away. The inside of the building had been hollowed out and reinforced with what looked like Starship grade armour. On the wall closest to them he could make out the distinctive shapes of sensor baffles and he guess that they ran all over the interior of the building.
Surrounding them was a hive of activity. Enough troops and equipment to fight the Battle of Geonosis three times over were in preparation. A trooper in Atlas power armour waved them over to what was obviously the Genyosha’s staging area. The units Laat’s and dropships were closest to the doorway and were oriented towards the outside ready to launch on a moments notice. Genyosha troopers stood while techs swarmed around them running checks and making minor alterations.
Deven parked the warthog next to the units over jeeps and climbed out before helping Jenna step from the vehicle. As they disembarked Master Sergeant Raiko, his helmet tipped back, met them and with relief evident on his face, Raiko stepped up to them.
“Glad to see you sir” Raiko grinned, “We knew the Imps would never get you”
“I’m glad to be here” Deven answered, “What’s the situation?”
“The Queen has requested your presence,
“Got it” Deven turned to Alya “Alya, get suited up and ready. I’ll be back shortly”
“Right boss” Alya turned and sprinted to the Genyosha area.
Raiko led Deven, Trintiy and Jenna to a large central elevator and they began to descend to the depths.
A short time later the lift stopped in a large circular room and they were met by another pair of guards. The guards escorted them down a corridor and though a number of check points. Eventually they were led into the command centre. A large bowl shaped room filled with consoles and dominated by a massive holo projection unit; the command centre was built to co-ordinate the defence of an entire planet.
As they entered several figures including Queen Marthe looked up at the new arrivals. Trinity and Jenna immediately crossed to Marthe and embraced her. Raiko stayed at the door while Deven followed his wife and daughter to the holo unit.
“Its good to see you” Marthe smiled, “When we heard about the assassinations we though the worse”
“Assassinations?” Deven looked around in confusion,” What assassinations?”
“Almost the entire Skye high command was killed during the night by unknown assailants” A Skye officer answered.
“Colonel Tarn” Marthe said regally. Deven raised his eyebrows at the Queens use of his Republic rank as opposed to the Skye rank of Tai-sa “The fact is that with the lose of the senior command you are currently the highest ranking officer we have to lead the defence”
“Hold on” Deven held his hands up “What of the other Republic officers? Generals Yodama and Horash and Colonel Veng”
“Colonel Veng and General Horash are dead and their regiments all but destroyed” Marthe shook her head sadly “General Yodama won’t arrive here for three more days. Until then I need you to accept the rank of Tai-Sho, a General and command the defence of Ravenholm”
“Then I have no choice but to accept” Deven nodded.
Marthe nodded to the officer “This is Chu-i Adam Steiner. He will serve as an aide to you and as liaison to the other units”
Deven shook Steiner’s hand “What do I have to work with?”
Steiner glanced at a datapad. “We have three Skye Infantry regiments. The Seventh and Fifth are solid units with experience from several Imperial raids last year, but the Ninth is a training cadre. Green troops, but plenty of spirit” He indicated a young woman in scout armour which bore the insignia of Colonel Veng’s Second Combined Arms regiment. “Captain Soria Onasi and her scout squad survived the destruction of the Second though sheer luck”
“Onasi?” Deven raised an eyebrow “Would I be right in assuming you’re the descendant of the legendary Carth Onasi?”
“Yes sir” Onasi blushed “I’m a direct descendant”
“Obviously the Onasi luck still holds true”
“We were scouting for a fresh water spring when the bombers hit” Onasi shrugged “We returned to the camp and found the entire regiment wiped out. We found a few survivors and recovered some equipment then hooked up with the Thirtieth”
Steiner nodded. “When we made contact with General Yodama, he sent Captain Onasi and her squad straight here along with a dozen of his fastest vehicles. Mostly light tanks and hovercraft. We also have about twenty Skye vehicles including a pair of antique AT-TE’s. Two squadrons of fighters, mostly captured TIEs and Z-95s and of course, your Genyosha”
“What about static weapons?” Deven asked mulling over the numbers.
“Fifty anti-air flak guns dotted around the city and twice that number in anti-armour and anti-personnel turrets. We also have enough mines to surround the city several times over and five Archer artillery vehicles”
Deven nodded as was about to speak when a young officer interrupted the conversation.
“Scouts indicate a massed Imperial force landing four miles to the north of the city. Approximately thirty landing craft from shuttles and heavy lifters to AT-AT barges and two Acclamator cruisers. They are offloading troops”
Deven winced. “Well people, sounds like we don’t have much time. Here’s the plan”
Several hours later.
Admiral Archer Christifori glanced over the sensor operator’s shoulder and took in the data that was coming in.
“Has the Imperial fleet made any moves?” He asked.
Ensign Tav’Ri shook his head “Not since they launched all those ships to the planet four hours ago. They’ve not even launched any more starfighters” Tav’Ri frowned
“What’s wrong?” Archer asked seeing the Twi’lek officer’s expression.
“Some sort of anomaly. Just outside the boundary of the shipyard, Can’t seem to penetrate it with sensors”
“Put it on the screen”
An image appeared on the sensors officer’s screen and Archer scrutinised it for a moment. It showed a void in space close to one of the shipyards Golan II defence platforms. No stars could be seen and as he watched a section of drifting ship hull from the earlier battle moved to the void and vanished.
Archer looked up in alarm and spun to the comm officer. “Lieutenant Orcran, get me Tai-Sho Ward on the Storm Hammer”
The image of the Skye officer appeared on the Challenger’s bridge holo unit. “Is something wrong Admiral Christifori? We have detected no recent activity from the Imperial forces”
“Tai-Shi, we have detected an anomaly just outside the shipyard. It matches no known contact bar one. A cloaking field”
Ward’s eyes opened in surprise. “Do they know we know?”
“Unlikely. However, they know they wouldn’t be able to hide it for long” Archer considered “Chances are they’ll make their move the second we make ours” #
“Then we should make the first move. Bring your fleet to full alert and prepare for battle. Storm Hammer out”
Archer turned and began to give out orders. “Launch all fighters, bring all weapons on line and raise shields. Pass that order though the fleet”
“Cloak field disengaging” The sensor officer shouted.” Three capital vessels, Two ImpStars and One VicStar. Approximately three wings of starfighters, mostly bombers” Tav’Ri paused for a second “Additional squadron launching from the Vic. Unknown type. Running the data though ship library”
Archer turned to the viewport to see the unfolding battle. The three Imperial vessels were well within range of the Golan platform and were firing on it mercilessly.
As Republic and Skye vessels rushed to the station’s aid a large flare eclipsed it as the eighty missiles launched from the smaller Victory Destroyer impacted against the stations shields. The shields held for a second, then collapsed in time for the two larger vessels to open up with their compliment of turbolasers and Ion cannons. The station shuddered and was wreathed in secondary explosions. Lights flickered and died and the fighter squadrons raced passed into the shipyards.
A squadron of X-Wings turned in pursuit of the bombers, while the MC75 Ocean Rider and the MC90 Star Tide turned to block the three Imperial vessels.
“Bring us across the bow of the port ImpStar” Archer shouted, “All weapons fire at will!”
The deck of the bridge shuddered slightly as the Challenger’s turbolasers opened up on the closest destroyer. The target vessels shields glowed a sickly green and held against the assault. As the ponderous vessel turned towards the Challenger with the intent of engaging Archer’s ship, it fired it’s own weapons in response.
Sirens sounded as the Challenger’s already damaged shields struggled to absorb the damage thrown at it.
“Ocean Rider’s gone!” Archer didn’t recognise the strained voice, but it due his attention to one of the other battles forming up in the shipyard. The lighter Mon Calamari cruiser was rolling and clearly dead in space. As the vessel’s port side came in view somebody in the crew pit gasped. The cruiser entire starboard side was opened to the vacuum of space, a massive rent ran from bow to stern.
“In fact” Archer thought, “It looks like…” His eyes were drew to the VicStar, which had matching damage to its port side. The two vessels had collided and Ocean Rider had come off worse.
Star Tide wasn’t willing to let the death of its counterpart go unpunished and unleashed a hellish firestorm of weapons fire at the VicStar. The destroyer’s shields had clearly failed in the collision because Star Tide’s weapons wrought havoc across the Imperial ship. The hull was breached in multiple places and equipment and crew- members were sucked into the vacuum of space.
A shudder ran though the deck and Archer returned his attention to the Challenger’s counter-fire against it’s own opponent. The Imperial vessel’s shields flickered and died, but at the same instant it’s own weapons fired.
The deck heaved as Challenger took heavy damage from the assault and secondary explosions rippled across the port side. Archer was thrown to the deck as his ship launched into an uncontrolled turn to port.
“Compensate for the turn and return fire,” He shouted above the emergency sirens.
“They’re pulling out,” Somebody shouted.
Archer rose to his feet and looked out the viewport as the Imperial ships pulled back. The VicStar was adrift, it’s command tower was gone and in several places, stars could be seen though gaps in the hull. The two larger destroyers had taken minor damage and were quickly pulling back, laying down a barrage of fire to cover their escape. Less than half the Imperial fighters and bombers returned to their motherships.
The damage however had been done. As well as Ocean Rider and the Golan platform, two of the uncompleted BattleMasters and one of the shipyard units had been destroyed as well as the Corvette Spearhead and the Dreadnaught Republic’s Pride.
“Admiral” Tav’Ri’s voice called from the crew pit “It’s a moot point now, but I have a match on those unidentified ships”
“What were they?” Archer asked.
“TIE Bombs. Basically flying bombs designed to crash into the target and explode with the equivalent of a salvo of torpedoes”
Archer nodded. “Get me the Storm Hammer”
A minute later Tai-Sho Ward’s face appeared in holo. “For what it’s worth Admiral. Thanks. If you hadn’t caught that cloaking field trick they would have caught us unawares. As it was we were hit pretty bad” Ward wiped sweat from his forehead “While you were tackling those destroyers, a squadron of those cloaked starfighters appeared in our rear and knocked out the Protector”
Archer chewed his lip. The Protector had been one of Ward’s BattleMaster ships.
“Do you think they’ve got other groups tricks like that?” Ward asked.
“I don’t doubt it” Archer answered, “They haven’t finished yet, not by a long shot”
“Admiral” The communications officer called “Ground forces have engaged Imperial troops. What are your orders?”
“Not much we can do up here” Archer muttered “Except pray”
The Imperial force moved slowly into the ruins of Ravenholm. A half-dozen Juggernauts led the Imperial force, moving though wider streets and avenues. A pair of AT-STs and a pair of AT-PTs supported each Juggernaut and a number of troop transports, including two refurbished Trade Federation MTTs, followed each group. Several of the transports stopped to deploy squads of stormtroopers who quickly moved down narrower streets and alleyways.
Moving down the four widest highways into the city were eight AT-ATs. Two of the massive walkers moved along each route and were supported by a large number of AT-STs, AT-PTs, Chariot LAVs and Thrawn class assault hovertanks. Two squadrons of TIE fighters provided air support and a single flight of Scimitar assault bombers stood by to hammer entrenched positions.
General Johan Blucher allowed a satisfied smile to touch his face as he stood in the cockpit of his command walker and watched his force move with perfect precision.
The plan was simple. Move into the city, smash all resistance and pave the way for the elite nova troopers to swoop in and grab the members of the Royal family. Once the Royals were secure resistance to the Imperial Occupation would cease and the remaining Republic forces could be forced off Skye. As far as intelligence reports could determine the only units defending Ravenholm were three inexperienced Skye regiments, a handful of vehicles and starfighters and the Genyosha.
Blucher snorted. In his opinion the Genyosha’s reputation was mere Republic propaganda. The Genyosha had achieved victory against Imperial forces a few dozen times and had then spent four years babysitting an outpost on the rear end of nowhere. Hardly the sort of assignment an ‘elite’ unit should receive.
‘Then again’ Blucher thought, “Underestimating Tarn could be a mistake” Blucher had read the dossier on Deven Tarn and accepted that while the man could hardly be classed as a strategic or tactical genius, he was good. He could take a dire situation and spin it into a victory. “As on Naboo” Blucher nodded to himself. On Naboo Tarn and his Genyosha along with a handful of the local RSF militia had waged a guerrilla war for twelve days before Republic forces had arrived to reinforce them.
“Twelve minutes to target” The pilot called to Blucher.
“Very well, open all comms” As the pilot moved to obey Blucher considered ordering his force to speed up, but decided against it. Finishing the resistance quickly would elevate his status, but rushing into a trap would be fatal.
“Comms open sir”
“This is General Blucher to all battle groups. We will be engaging the enemy in just a few moments and I expect you perform and fight as imperial soldiers. Give no quarter and fight for the glory of the Empire” He paused to allow his words to sink in then continued, “Remember the battle plan and do not let your guard down. Good luck and good hunting”
The pilot cut the comm off, paused then turned to the General. “Sir, Captain Sanderson online”
“What does he want now?” Blucher snarled, “Put him on. What is it Captain?”
“Sir” Sanderson’s voice had a hard edge to it as he spoke. “I must advise caution. We do not know exactly what defences they have arrayed, nor do we have an accurate count on the units at their disposal”
“Your caution is noted, Captain. As is your apparent unwillingness to follow orders to the letter. Continue this and you shall be relieved of command and executed immediately. Am I clear?”
“Good” Blucher signalled to the pilot to cut off the transmission and settled back to watch the battle unfold.
Captain Felix Sanderson frowned and the comm unit for a few moments before the pilot of his walker stirred him from his thoughts.
“You tried sir, But the General is too stubborn to see any flaws in his plan or listen to advice”
“Sanderson’s voice took on a hard edge as he stared at the pilot. “General Blucher is a superior officer and deserves your respect, understand?”
“Yes sir” The pilot swallowed nervously
“Be that as it may” Sanderson’s voice softened “You are right of course. But we must follow his orders, however I am not above making my own changes to the plan”
“Orders sir?” The pilot asked
“Slow our speed by five percent, we can blame the speed reduction on the terrain. We will let Blucher hit trouble first”
The Imperial forces moved inexorably towards the target, the old city hall that was now the command centre for Skye’s defence. As they moved forward debris and wreckage on the streets forced several units to clump together making them more vulnerable to any attack.
Such as the one that was about to be launched.
Captain Soria Onasi crouched in the makeshift barrow as she watched the Imperial Juggernaught approach the intersection. Around her were two privates from her scout platoon, the Shistavanen Kal Rosk and the Noghri Ravikcham. Also with her were the four engineers who were responsible for the surprise waiting in the intersection.
At strategic points in the city other members of her squad were in similar situations and awaiting the same thing she was. Battle.
Soria had heard many stories about her ancestor Carth Onasi and how he had been instrumental in helping end the Third Sith War, otherwise known as the Jedi Civil War. She had heard how he had fought at Dxun, Serroco and Duros and a dozen other worlds. But the story that stuck in her mind was the one about how he had return to his home world of Telos to find it devastated, his wife dead and his son missing. Though Soria also hailed from Telos, she had some difficulty visualising Telos as Carth must have seen it that day.
Less than seven years after its firebombing at the command of Saul Karath, a massive restoration project had been undertaken by the Republic. With the help of the Ithorians and with plant life and creatures imported from the Onderon moon of Dxun, Telos had begun to flourish again. It had taken many decades for Telos to be fully restored and to Soria that was ancient history, to her Telos had always been a vibrant world, and to her it was impossible to see it as the barren and fire scarred landscape it must have been that day when Carth walked the planet.
When she’d heard the story Soria had sworn that as long as she lived such an event would never befall Telos again. As she remembered the story she thought of Telos and its lush hills and plains and the great herds of Cannock and other myriad beasts. She thought of the beautiful skies and tried to wonder what it must have been like to look up and see the world spanning Citadel Station where the restoration project had been based. She thought of her family and began to wonder what her little brother Jace was doing now.
“Skye to Captain Onasi, Skye to Captain Onasi”
Soria snapped out of her reverie and turned to see Kal Rosk grinning at her with his glistening fangs.
“Sorry, you were saying private?” She flustered.
“If you wished to sleep, let us know and we would wake you when victory is secured” He grinned again “Though you would only get a few minutes at the most”
“No, no, I’m fine” Soria blushed and turned to watch the Imperial advance. They were almost on top of the intersection. Soria cursed her wandering mind then turned to her group. “Keep your heads down, this is gonna be one big bang”
The Juggernaught was halfway across the intersection when the mines detonated. The blast of more than a dozen carefully positioned mines lifted the Imperial vehicle into the air before gravity took over and brought it crashing down with enough force to snap the Juggernaut in two.
The attendant AT-STs moved around the wrecked vehicle and promptly toppled over as other mines vaporised their lower legs. The AT-ST on the left toppled straight onto another mine and was blasted into non-existence by the subsequent explosion.
The two smaller AT-PTs held their position and blasted the intersection in the hopes of detonating any remaining mines safely. Meanwhile the attendant transports landed and began deploying stormtroopers. Seconds later laser fire turned the remaining mines in harmless explosions and the Imperials began to advance again. Safe in the knowledge that they had survived this trap.
They didn’t expect clever planning.
The roar of the gunship as it began its strafing run stirred the Imperial troops into inaction as the scanned the sky for the LAAT. Instead of diving in on the position the gunship raced straight down the street and unleashed the fury of its missiles. The Imperial troops and the surviving vehicles disappeared in a firestorm as the gunship passed over their position. When the smoke cleared Soria was surprised to see a pair of stormtroopers in fire blackened armour firing ineffectually at the retreating gunship. She raised her longshot rifle and with a pair of shots dropped both of the troopers.
A quick survey showed the Intersection was now clear. She activated her comm-unit and called to the rest of her squad. The reports she received described situations similar to her own, while others indicated on minor losses on the part of the Imperials. The heaviest losses had been suffered amongst the Juggernaut groups, though at least two AT-ATs were down.
“Good workpeople” Soria said after the last report had been given “Fall back to rally point Alpha and prepare for phase two”
Last edited by Deven Tarn on Sun Jun 05, 2005 6:36 am; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:38 pm Post subject:
|Continued straight from previous part.
General Blucher scowled as he looked over the incoming reports. Five of his six Juggernauts were destroyed and their attendant forces devastated. The sixth Juggernaut had taken heavy damage and was now trapped alone somewhere in the city. In addition one of his AT-AT groups had come under attack and both AT-ATs destroyed.
Clearly he had underestimated Deven Tarn and the determination of the defenders.
“Still, they are only delaying the inevitable” Blucher thought. He still had more than enough overwhelming firepower to eliminate any forces Tarn could throw at him. He switched to the command frequency and gave what would turn out to be one of the last orders of his life.
“Press forward and crush all resistance”
Deven crouched in the shadow of a ruined statue and watched as the Imperial’s command walker moved into the plaza. Just ahead of it another AT-AT had already reached the halfway point across the plaza. In addition a number of Tie-Crawlers, tanks and lighter walkers were fanning out across the square. Several transports followed closely behind.
As Deven watched the Imperial force advance his Heads-Up-Display lit up and began picking out targets and prioritising them. His weapon systems were configured for anti-armour and were linked both to his shoulder launchers and to the heavy E-Web cannon he carried. The closest AT-ST was picked out as his primary target and the TIE-Crawler next it was designated his secondary. Other members of the Genyosha were similarly armed and would have their targets designated in the same way.
In addition other units were scattered around the plaza with a large variety of weapons ready for when he gave the order.
The command walker entered the plaza fully and almost simultaneously the Imperial transports began disgorging stormtroopers.
It was time.
Deven activated his comm and gave the order everyone had been waiting for.
“Group one. Open fire!” He shouted.
The plaza lit up with a storm of laser fire as the troops under Deven’s command rose from hiding places and opened up on the Imperials. Deven himself stood and triggered the missile launchers mounted to his armours shoulders. He was rocked back on he feet as a pair of missile launched form the shoulder pack. A second later he felt his weight lighten as the empty launcher automatically dropped from his shoulders. A second after that both missiles hit the head of the AT-ST. Even before the wreckage of the walker began to topple Deven swung his blaster cannon in line with the nearest TIE-Crawler and opened fire. Heavy laser bolts stitched a black scar across the Crawler’s spherical cockpit before finding a weak spot. A small explosion shook the crawler and it ground to a halt with smoke leaking from various openings. Seconds later the hatch opened and the pilot clambered out and ran for safety.
Deven took a moment to take in the situation. One third of the Imperial’s light vehicles had been disabled in the first exchanged and the ground was littered with the bodies of stormtroopers. However, the Imperial commander had overcome the initial surprise quickly and was even now organising his force in order to maximise his firepower.
The AT-AT’s opened up with their main weapons and Deven and those with him were forced behind cover. One of the Genyosha, a young Nagai named Rei, wasn’t fast enough. The bolt of energy caught her full on and evaporated armour and flesh in the blink of an eye. A Skye trooper caught on the edge of the same blast writhed on the ground in agony, his skin horrifically burnt and blistered. His pain filled screams seemed impossibly loud and they only became worst when a pair of Skye soldiers ran to him and carried him clear.
“Team two. Begin phase two” Deven shouted into the comm.
The front of a building behind Deven collapsed as carefully placed charges detonated. As the dust cleared Deven’s ace-in-the-hole was revealed.
A pair of Strike medium tanks and the impressive bulk of an AT-TE.
Blucher’s eyes widened as the presence of the AT-TE was revealed.
“This is unexpected,” He muttered.
While the antique war machine was far inferior to his AT-ATs, it’s projectile cannon still packed a punch. As if to punctuate the point, the AT-TE’s cannon fired and one of Blucher’s Thrawn class hovertanks was sent spinning into the air. It came down hard on its turret and almost instantly was launched into the air again as it’s energy stores detonated.
Blucher cursed. Things were not progressing as expected. Losses were quickly approaching the forty-fifth percentile and rising quickly.
The AT-TE fired again and his AT-AT reeled under the blast. The pilots struggled to keep the walker upright, as nearly three tons of armour was lost.
Things definitely were not going as planned.
Across the city Soria Onasi was engaged in her own battle. After successfully rendezvousing with the rest of her squad, she had led them on a hunt for Imperial squads that were moving though the ruined city separate from the main force.
Raising her rifle she opened fire on the stormtroopers moving up the corridor of the ruined building they were in. One of the troopers went down with a smoking hole in his chest and the others scattered into side rooms.
Across the corridor from her, Julus Dank opened up with his repeater rifle. He didn’t hit anything, but then Soria hadn’t expected him to. The repeater wasn’t a weapon known for extreme accuracy. In any case Soria hadn’t expected for her squad to engage the enemy. The plan had been to recon the area and report enemy locations to more experienced squads. They’d ran straight into this Imperial squad while cutting though the ruins of an old hospital and were now engaged in a running battle though the abandoned wards and operating theatres.
“Cap” Soria’s comlink squeaked.
“Speak to me Kal”
“Just made contact with command. Transport is on the way,” The Shistavanian’s voice growled across the channel. “ETA, two minutes”
“Good” Soria switched to her squad frequency. “Ok everybody, lets finish it up here and get to the roof”
Any replies she may have heard where over-ridden by a flurry of blaster fire from the stormtroopers and the return fire from Julus.
“Lets get out of here,” She told him.
“Right” He replied laying down a stream of fire before following her.
Despite the Imperial forces chasing them they reached what was left of the building without much trouble. When they reached the roof, Soria was surprised to see the transport sent for them was a primitive rotor-lift aircraft. Its twin rotors beat a thunderous beat above her head as she and Julus ran across the roof and climbed aboard. A heartbeat later, the rest of the scout unit joined them aboard the craft.
“Let’s go” Soria shouted to the pilot “Get us back to HQ”
“Yes sir” The pilot replied
As they lifted away from the ruins, Soria looked across the ruins of Ravenholm and quickly realised the Imperial advance had stalled.
The defenders were winning. Barely.
Sho-sa Kren stood behind the barricade with his troops and watched the Imperial force as it approached the Skron river crossing.
Kren was a Feeorin whose ancestors had arrived on a colony ship several millennia earlier. The colony ship had travelled though space for years before landing on Skye where the human colonists, who had arrived only a few years before, had welcomed them.
As the only non-humans on Skye for many centuries the Feeorins had mostly kept to themselves on the southern continent, though in times of need they had emerged to help defend Skye.
Kren himself had fought during the resistance against the Imperial occupation and had been proclaimed a hero during the liberation. More recently he had taken command of the Seventh Skye Rangers after the assassination of Tai-sho Huang Zee Chan.
“Here they come!” Somebody down the line shouted.
Kren looked up. Sure enough, the Imperials were finally making their attempt to take the bridge. A juggernaut was racing towards the crossing at nearly 200kph with its weapons blazing.
Kren frowned; a juggernaut travelling at those speeds was unheard of. The wear and tear on the aged machines put tremendous strain on them.
Evidently the Imperial commander was desperate and Kren was happy to oblige him.
“Reapers, open fire!” He shouted into his comlink.
Behind him the three Reaper missile tanks opened fire with their Devastator missile pods. Over a dozen missiles arced over the Skye lines drawing smoke trails behind them. They came crashing down around the juggernaut as it reached the bridge inflicting heavy damage on the Imperial vehicle. Armour shattered and at least one axle broke under the assault, but still it came.
“Fire!” Kren shouted again.
Once more the Reapers fired their deadly payload and seconds later the juggernaut was wreathed in flame. Something exploded under the juggernaut and suddenly it flipped over and began a tumble that was surprisingly graceful for such a large and heavy war machine. Finally it came to rest on its side in the centre of the bridge, smoke and flame bled from tears in the armour and one wheel continued to spin.
Any celebrations were cut short when Imperial troops and scout walkers began moving across the bridge using the wrecked juggernaut as cover.
“Cut em down” Kren called to his troops.
Laser fire poured from the Skye lines and seconds later the Imperials returned fire. Soldiers on both sides were caught by blaster bolts and thrown to the ground. Shoulder launchers fired missiles at mobile armour and grenades sent troops flying.
One of his Reaper tanks vanished in an explosion as the lasers of an AT-ST found their mark and seconds later the same walker joined the reaper in death. A Skye Chariot LAV caught a pair of missiles in its side and literally broke in half, In return an Imperial Scarab light tank caught the wrong end of a heavy laser and exploded.
Despite the loss of most of their mobile armour the Imperial forces continued their advance across the bridge, often using wrecked vehicles and even the forms of the dead as cover.
“Suppressing fire!” Kren shouted and in response his forces concentrated not on killing the enemy, but on forcing them behind cover.
“Hammer team, spring the trap” With perfect timing in response to Kren’s order a dozen Skye close assault troopers pulled themselves up over the side of the bridge from where they had been hiding and opened fire on the trapped Imperials. At such close range the stormtrooper’s armour did little to protect them against the flechette launchers and repeater rifles used by the Skye troops.
“They’re retreating” A voice called.
Sure enough the Imperials were in full retreat. White armoured corpses and smashed walkers littered the bridge and the surviving Imperials had lost their nerve. Kren breathed a sigh of relief. They had lost nearly all their heavy weaponry and they had taken heavy losses, but they had held.
“Sithspit! What is that?” Someone shouted down the line.
Kren looked out over the bridge to see a pair of ‘somethings’ march past the retreating imperials. They appeared to be a standard Tie fighter cockpit mounted on a pair of reverse articulated legs. Armed with a pair of heavy blaster cannons on either side of the cockpit they looked like the crazed mating of an AT-PT and a TIE fighter. The pair of TIE Walkers fired in unison and the last of Kren’s Reapers vanished in a ball of flame.
“Hammer team!” Kren called “Get out of there!” Unfortunately his order came to late and Hammer was the first of the Skye troops to die under the guns of the walkers. As the last of the screams died out the TIE Walkers turned their guns on Krens’s main force.
“Fall back!” He ordered, “Fall back!”
No matter what was happening the Skye troops kept their co-ordination as they pulled back from the combat zone. First one group fell back while the other group fired on the walkers, then the second group fell back under the covering fire off the first group.
Kren watched the new Imperial machines as they moved though the former Skye lines. Small arms fire bounced harmlessly off the armoured walkers and barricades proved no obstacle to them. As he watched them move an idea began to form. He turned to the nearest trooper.
“Go-cho, do we have any satchel charges left?”
The young man looked confused for a moment before he spoke “Yes, sir. I have several with me”
“Give me one, then take one and hand the rest to another trooper”
“Yes sir” The trooper hesitated “What are we…?”
“Watch what I do then take the walker on the left”
Before the trooper could respond Kren raced out towards the closest walker. As he approached the pilot of the walker tried to angle his weapons to fire on him but was unable to move fast enough. Passing under the cockpit he jumped and managed to find a handhold on one of the walker’s leg. Pulling himself up he managed to stuff the satchel charge in the knee joint, before dropping free he pulled the detonation tab from the charge then let go. Hitting the floor he spun quickly and ran for the nearest cover. Kren turned his head enough to look behind him and was surprised to see the young trooper right behind him.
Kren nodded. Evidently the young man had got the idea faster than Kren gave him credit for. He felt a wave of heat pass over him as one of the walkers tried to fire on them then the pair of them were behind one of the wrecked Reapers. A second later there was a pair of muffled explosions, one slightly louder than the other.
Kren waited a few more seconds then looked out at the walkers. One of the walkers, the one Kren had gone for was beating a hasty retreat, it’s left knee joint was mangled and the pilot was showing remarkable skill by moving the walker as fast as he was. The other walker was laid on the ground, one of its legs had been severed by the blast and its cockpit was battered by the sudden interface with the tarmac it had suffered.
“Good work solider” Kren nodded to the trooper who grinned back at him then promptly passed out. Kren nodded again then pulled out his comlink. “Kren to HQ. Skron crossing secure”
Deven slowly advanced across the rubble of what had once been Ravanholm Central Plaza. His blaster was held at the ready and his HUD was constantly looking for targets and finding none. The Imperials had pulled back a short time ago leaving behind the dead and wounded, as well as one heavily damaged command walker.
The AT-TE had scored a lucky shot on the AT-AT with the result that the walker’s front right leg had come away from the body. The massive machine now lay on the smashed road, it’s remaining legs splayed out almost comically and its weapons silently.
“Do you think it’s a trap?” Alya asked from beside him. She was instantly recognisable from the unique shape of her helmet, which was designed to contain her lekku and keep them from harm.
“It’s not a trap” Deven said confidently “This commander played all his cards earlier” Deven had attempted the contact the enemy commander, but his attempts had gone unanswered.
The pair of them advanced carefully to the walkers side hatch. Despite the damage caused by the AT-ATs landing the door offered little resistance to the artificially powered muscles of the Atlas power suits. Other than debris thrown around by the crash the main hold appeared empty.
“All clear” Alya said “Cockpit?”
Deven reached out with the force and located two distinct spots of life. One was weak as if injured and the other felt like a whirlpool of rage.
“Cockpit” He nodded
General Johan Blucher sat against the wall in the wrecked cockpit of his walker. His disgust at being brought down by sheer overwhelming firepower was matched only by his hatred of Deven Tarn. The fact that Tarn had proved a match for Blucher was a difficult pill to swallow. Blucher cast a look at the two pilots; one was still alive and moaning softly despite the length of metal that thrust though his abdomen. The other had died on impact, his neck broken. Blucher himself had a broken leg and what he believed was a serious spinal injury.
He was going no-where, but he planned to take somebody with him. In his hands he held a pair of frag grenades. The dead man switches were active and all he had to do was let go.
“Not long now” He thought as the cockpit door began to grind open. A wave of pain washed over him and his vision blurred but he still saw the outline of a figure in the doorway.
With a last defiant grin he opened his hands.
Alya had just stepped into the doorway into the cockpit when the blast wave hit her followed by what seemed like a massive clap of thunder. An invisible hand picked her up and threw her back into the main hold and seconds later she struck the rear wall hard enough to activate her armour’s breach warning systems. She dimly heard Deven cursing and several wet splats around her. She tried to get up but her body didn’t want to respond and a wave a pain began to spread out from the left side of her stomach. In addition she was getting a sharp pain in her chest when she breathed.
“Alya!” Deven’s voice seemed tinny and indistinct as if her suits audio pick-up was damaged.
“Or my ears” She thought dimly.
“Alya!” Deven shouted again and then his face appeared in her field of vision. His helmet was tipped back and his face was filled with concern. His armour was liberally sprayed with what looked like red paint and blood ran from a cut somewhere in his hairline.
“Strange that the paint is the same colour as blood” Alya thought distractedly. A heartbeat later her brain registered the connection. “Not paint blood!” She tried to sit up but the pain spread though her body and she suddenly couldn’t breathe.
“Hold on Alya, Don’t do this to me” Deven said slipping his hands either side of her helmet and flicking the emergency releases there. A few seconds later her helmet was off and she could feel the cool air on her face but her breathing was still restricted. She tried to take a breath but darkness rushed into swallow her.
Some time later. The medical bay of the Skye defence centre.
“How is she?”
Deven turned to see Trinity standing behind him looking at Alya as she lay on the bed. A short distance behind Jenna was looking closely at Alya’s armour that had been stripped off of her as soon as she arrived in the medi-bay.
“Doc’s say she’ll be alright” Deven replied, “She suffered a broken rib and a punctured lung. She need a couple of hours of bacta therapy, but she should be back on her feet day after tomorrow”
“Apparently you had a narrow escape yourself,” Trinity said wrapping her arms around Deven’s waist.
“Yeah, when the Imperial commander set off those grenades I caught a chunk of shrapnel in the helmet. It penetrated the visor and just nicked my scalp. Any lower and I wouldn’t be here, I be on the bed next to Alya”
“How bad where the losses?”
“Bad. Five Genyosha dead, another seven including Alya injured. Two won’t fight again. Ninety Skye soldiers’ dead and another hundred injured, most are from the seventh. In addition we lost a total of twelve vehicles including one of the AT-TE’s” Deven shook his head. “We captured about ten tanks and speeders to offset the material losses, but the troops are harder to replace”
“At least General Yodama will be here in the morning”
Deven nodded silently.
“Dad” A voice said quietly
Deven turned to see Jenna looking at him “Yes, sweetheart?”
“Can we win?” She said
“I don’t know Jenna, I really don’t know”
Supreme Admiral Lon Sur stared silently at the two officers before him. The one on the left was the newly promoted General Ricard Veers, distant cousin of the famous Maxamillian Veers and General Blucher’s replacement. To the right stood Captain Felix Sanderson, who had ordered a full retreat after General Blucher was lost.
“Tell me” Sur began “Why you ordered a retreat Captain Sanderson”
“Sir” Sanderson gulped nervously “After the loss of General Blucher and the loss of fifty percent of our force, I believed that continuing the assault was no longer possible” He swallowed again “Sir”
To Sur’s surprise Veers jumped in to defend Sanderson. “I agree with the captain here. My lord. The position of our forces became untenable after such heavy losses. In addition Blucher refused to wait for further intelligence reports that would have allowed him to alter his plan in response”
“So you place the blame for this failure at General Blucher’s feet?”
Veers winced “Yes my lord”
“Indeed. My sources tell me likewise” Sur nodded “Moving on. Captain Sanderson. In response to your initiative I am placing you in command of a special unit”
“I have brought with me a squad of elite soldiers. Their target is Deven Tarn and I need you to lead them. Do you accept this honour Colonel?”
“Sir, yes sir!” Sanderson snapped to attention.
“Good, Allow me to introduce you to your new squad” Sur pressed a button on a comlink he held and seconds later the door to the chamber opened and a dozen humanoid shapes entered the room.
Though similar to stormtroopers in shape they were far larger and armed with a whole variety of deadly weapons. Sur smiled as he heard a sharp intake of breath from Sanderson.
“Colonel Sanderson, these are your Dark Troopers.
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Sun May 08, 2005 2:21 pm Post subject:
|Seven days after previous part.
Somewhere in hyperspace.
Garik ‘Face’ Loran looked up as Jedi Master Corran Horn entered the main galley of the Sentinel class shuttle. He considered the data stream before him one last time then switched the terminal off in disgust.
“Everything is wrong” Face snorted, “Before we made that last jump I tried to access the command network for an update on the general situation” He waved a hand “Nothing. I even tried news networks without success. About the only information I was able to get came from the emergency service. Apparently the enter rim is silent from Naboo to Toprawa. Every world between those two points is out of contact”
Corran grimaced. “Things have become far worse than they were when we left Coruscant. The Empire has pulled out all the stops on this one”
“And you think Deven Tarn is connected with this somehow?”
“Yes” Corran nodded “Whatever is happening I feel Deven has some connection to everything. What the connection is..” He shook his head “That I don’t know”
“What do you know?”
Corran thought for a second. “Very little. The dark side is gathering strength in a way I haven’t seen since the days of Darth Zeev. And I fear Deven is at the centre of it or will be”
“You don’t think he’s going to go dark do you?” Face asked with concern
Corran hesitated “I don’t know. Deven’s always been pretty level headed and wary of the dark side. I’m sure that there were run-ins with the dark side that he never told me about on top of the ones he reported”
“So he wouldn’t go down that path?”
Again Corran hesitated.
“That’s what I was afraid of” Face grimaced
“Deven has always had an impulsive streak. In the Rogues he’d act first without thinking, often running headlong into a situation without considering the consequences” Corran sighed “On at least two occasions he’s also let his anger get the better of him. Both times he’s at least managed get himself under control before he did anything to rash”
“You think he may be susceptible?”
Whatever reply Corran might have made was cut off by the voice of Halley Kadorto.
“Thirty seconds to reversion guys”
Both Corran and Face moved into the shuttles cockpit and settled into the rearward seats. Halley sat in the pilots seat with his hand poised over the lever that would drop them out of hyperspace on command. He turned his head fractionally and scowled at them before returning his attention to the controls.
Face shook his head. Halley was still sore about having his shuttle effectively commandeered to get Corran and Face to Skye. A week of sharing the same shuttle space had done Halley’s mood no favours. In addition Halley’s attempts to contact his wife Tela on Lianna had met with no success raising the spectre that Lianna had been attacked.
The forth occupant of the cockpit was Jan. Face knew next to nothing about the man other than he was part of the intelligence division. His reasons for going to Skye were still unknown; Jan was keeping his secrets close to his chest.
At a signal from the ships computer Halley pulled the lever and the tunnel of hyperspace collapsed into the pinpricks of stars.
For a number of heartbeats the four watched as a massive battle cruiser bearing the insignia of the Skye Royal Navy exchanged fire with a pair of Star Destroyers. Star fighters weaved between the battling vessels and in the distance a number of other vessels exchanged fire.
The Skye Cruiser suddenly seemed to lurch as a massive explosion engulfed the mid-section of the mighty vessel. A number of secondary explosions ran the length of the ship and then it began to break apart. In the vacuum of space the silent death of the battle cruiser was almost eerie.
“By the Force” Corran whispered.
“Hang on!” Halley shouted as he wrenched the controls to the side and brought the shuttle in a sharp turn. At the same time he pushed the throttle to its limit. Face felt inertia press him against the seat and was about to complain about the ride when a massive jolt shook the shuttle.
The cockpit lights flickered and over Jan’s shoulder Face saw the shield indicator change from green to yellow. A TIE Interceptor raced past the cockpit followed by an X-Wing. A brief exchange of laser fire and it was just an X-Wing.
“Unidentified shuttle. This is Commander Tolyn Yar of Enforcer Squadron” A strong male voice came over the comm. “You are in a combat zone. I suggest you leave immediately”
“No can do Commander” Corran replied, “This is Jedi Master Corran Horn, I am here on matters of great importance. It is essential that we get to the planet”
“Well, Jedi Master. I’m telling you this” Yar’s voice came back tinged with annoyance “Unless your vaunted force can deal with those Star Destroyers then you’re out of luck”
Face looked out towards the planet and saw a pair of Star Destroyers in close orbit around the planet. With the two destroyers were pair of Dreadnaughts and a smaller dagger shaped vessel. He guessed it was either a Victory or Enforcer class vessel.
Halley’s voice interjected into the conversation “Hyperspace is out of the question Commander. That hit took out our hyperdrive”
“So you see Commander” Corran continued “We’re going to the planet whether you like it or not”
Yar sighed with Exasperation “Fine, fine. But don’t expect my help…One moment” Yar went silent for a second. When he came back he sounded even angrier than before, “Well, Horn looks like you’re not only going to the planet, but I’ve also been ordered to escort you there”
“That’s not necessary Commander”
“Admiral Christifori’s orders. We’re with you whether you like it or not”
“Thank you Commander” Corran replied.
“Hold on boys” Halley smiled tightly aiming the shuttle towards the planet. “This is gonna get rough”
Commander Tolyn Yar swore under his breath as he cut the transmission to the Sentinel class shuttle. When the shuttle had suddenly dropped out of hyperspace into the middle of a battle, Yar had immediately assumed the crew were late arrivals for the diplomatic team that hadn’t head of the invasion.
When Horn had introduced himself Yar had been left more than a little confused. Corran Horn had dropped out of the public eye several years ago after Rogue Squadron had been disbanded. Rumours of his disappearance hermitage had abounded for years.
For Horn to be hear now meant trouble.
Though whether Horn was here to stop trouble or cause it would remain a mystery for the time being.
Yar had neither really approved of the Jedi. In his opinion Jedi held them selves too far above the average solider. There vaunted force gave them far too many advantages over guys like him. When he’d briefly met Deven Tarn during the trip to Skye he’d found the man to be far too cheerful and obnoxious.
Tarn was a hero of the Fortress campaign and seemed to unconsciously rub his status in Yar’s face at every turn.
Yar pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind. He’d been ordered by Admiral Christifori (Now there was a true hero!) to make sure the shuttle reached Skye and he always got the job done.
He activated the squadron channel “Listen up Enforcer’s, we’ve been ordered to escort that shuttle all the way to Skye. It’s our job to protect it and make sure it gets there in one piece”
“What’s so important about it leader?” Enforcer Nine asked.
“I wish I knew” Yar muttered, “Okay, Enforcers form up”
The X-Wings of Enforcer squadron formed up with Yar and the shuttle.
Or at least nine did.
Yar grimaced. Eleven and Four had fallen to TIE’s and Seven had been to close to the Witch Hunter when she’d blown. Three good pilots had died fighting a battle that was dangerously one-sided.
Horn and his friends on the shuttle had better be worth it.
Halley felt the throttle judder in his hands as he eased it forward and frowned. That judder was a good sign. It either meant that the engines had suffered minor damage or that there was damage in the connections between controls and engines. The former he could handle, but the latter could prove to be a serious problem.
A quick glance across the various readouts told him all other systems were in working order so he eased the throttle all the way and bore the shuttle towards Skye.
“I’d get the weapons ready..” Jan began speaking next to him.
“But we don’t have any. I know” Halley winced.
“Whoa!” Face exclaimed, “You didn’t tell us about that when we left Coruscant”
“Yes I did!” Face responded without turning.
“He’s right” Corran interjected “He did. But you were busy at the time. Convincing port authority to let us launch”
“So no lasers?” Face asked
“Nope” Corran shook his head.
“Not even a slingshot”
“What are you so worried about Face” Halley said bringing the engines to full power. “You survived with no weapons before”
“Yeah, but it was always factored into the plan” Face said sinking into the seat with a sigh.
Up ahead the X-Wings of Enforcer squadron began to exchange fire with a squadron of Tie Fighters. Halley angled the shuttle towards the planet and took a deep breath.
“Here we go”
“The shuttle is making for the planet with an X-Wing escort”
Vice Admiral Paul moon turned his head slightly to look at the star fighter co-ordinator. “Dispatch a TIE squadron to engage the escorts. Orders are to slow down the shuttle for the moment” He turned to the communications officer “Get me a holo connection to Supreme Admiral Sur”
A moment later the image of Supreme Admiral lon Sur swam into focus above the holocomm plate.
“My lord” Moon spoke quickly “A Republic shuttle has entered the system and is bearing towards the planet at high speed”
“And this interests me how?”
“From communication intercepts we have determined that Corran Horn is aboard. Do you wish me to detain the shuttle?”
Sur narrowed his eyes “Yes, detain the shuttle and..” He stopped mid-sentence and for a second Moon swore he saw a pang of fear cross Sur’s face “No, Destroy the shuttle. Leave no survivors”
“Yes, Sir” Moon answered before Sur cut the connection. He turned to the crew pit “Signal Captain Qin of the Persecutor. Tell him that the shuttle heading towards him must be destroyed at all costs”
“And if he fail, then may his ancestors pray for his life”
The shuttle was halfway towards the planet when the Star Destroyer group between them and the planet opened fire. It was at that point when Corran recognised the small destroyer in the centre of the group.
“Venator Class Destroyer” He said with surprise “Where did they find that?”
The Venator Class Destroyer had been the principal combat star ship of the Old Republic during the latter half of the clone wars. A solid vessel capable of holding its own against similar sized ships, the Venator had been phased out in favour of the far more destructive Victory class.
“I’m less interested in where they got it” Halley grimaced as a near miss lit up the cockpit. “As I am in what they plan on doing to us”
“I’ve got Yar on the comm” Jan cut in.
“This is Commander Yar. We’re barely holding off two squadrons of Ties. I’m afraid you’re on your own. Good luck”
“Hold on Enforcer One” A new voice cut into the transmission “This is Admiral Christifori. Blazer squadron is moving to assist you. Dynasty squadron will clear the shuttles way. Good luck out there”
Corran was about to thank Christifori when the connection terminated.
“Here they come” Halley shouted.
Corran looked out of the view port expecting to see more Ties incoming. Instead he saw only the Imperial vessels slowly growing bigger before them. Suddenly dozen blurs raced past on either side of the shuttle. It took Corran a second to resolve the blurs into 4 K-Wing Assault bombers and their escorting E-Wings.
“This is Dynasty Lead. We’re escorting you all the way in General Horn” A voice came over the comm.
“Thanks Dynasty One”
“No problem General. It’s a pleasure”
The K-wings dived on the Venator in the centre of the Imperial formation and unleashed a full salvo of heavy rockets, then followed it with another salvo. Seconds later the E-wings fired their own torpedoes. The Venator tried to turn its weapons against the torpedoes and rockets but the decades old targeting computers were incapable of targeting such small objects.
The Destroyer’s shields erupted into light as the first salvo of rockets detonated, then they rippled and collapsed in time for the second salvo of rockets and the torpedoes.
The Venator was eclipsed for a moment by a multitude of explosions. Hull fragments and debris spiralled away from the stricken ship. Escape pods began launching from the ship as it began to break up. Even with the death of the Imperial vessel the K-Wings weren’t finished, they quickly turned their attention to one of the Star Destroyers.
Corran felt the deaths of hundreds of crewmen though the force seconds before he felt the sudden acceleration as Halley jammed the shuttles throttle forward. The shuttles shields sparked as small debris struck them as Halley aimed them though the gap in the Imperial blockade.
“Incoming Ties” Jan said glancing at the sensor displays.
“We’ve got your back General” One of the E-Wing pilots called over the comm as two of the swift fighters fell in alongside the shuttle.
“Good” Face muttered, “The sooner I get planetside the better”
Paul Moon watched as the Persecutor detonated and joined the Harkonen in death.
“Better that Qin died with his ship” Moon thought “Than risk the Supreme Admiral’s wrath”
“Sir, the shuttle has entered the planets atmosphere”
“Signal the ground forces. Tell them to dispatch the 121st to destroy that shuttle”
“Aye sir. Sir, the rest of the Persecutor’s task force is breaking off and returning to the fleet”
Moon looked out of the view port to see the remainder of the Persecutor’s task force falling back towards the umbrella of the fleet. Moon had lost two capital ships to the Republic bombers and another to the Skye Battlemaster that had been the Republic’s only major loss of the day.
“Signal all attacking vessels” He sighed “Break off and return to the fleet for repairs”
As he gave the order Moon grimaced they were losing capital ships at an unacceptable rate. Though they outnumbered the Republic and Skye forces heavily, they were being forced to fill gaps in the fleet with outdated and obsolete vessels.
Moon sighed. Perhaps he should be more worried about his own life than those of his sub-ordinates.
The shuttle bucked violently as it cut though Skye’s atmosphere. Despite the best efforts of the escorts the pursuing Ties had succeeding in scoring hits against the shuttle. The resulting damage to the shuttles port wing was the cause of the current uncomfortable ride.
“Does anyone know were we’re going?” Halley asked as the shuttle bucked wildly.
“Wherever we go” Jan said, “We’d better go there fast. We’ve got a pair of Imperial fighters on an intercept course”
“Where are we now?” Corran asked.
“Over the equator” Jan replied looking at the screens before him.
Corran fell into the force to try and find an answer. He searched for a clue as to where they didn’t to go.
“Anytime now Corran” Halley grunted casting a look to the scopes and seeing the approaching Tie pair. “I’m sure our new friends’ll wait for you to decide”
“North” Corran finally said “North”
“Right” Halley said wrenching the shuttle around and pointing them North. The engines squealed in protest and a disturbing rumble went though the vessel.
“That didn’t sound good” Face muttered.
“Four minutes thirty seconds till the Ties get us” Jan shouted above the squeals.
The shuttle raced across the planets surface pursued by the Ties that were quickly gaining. Below them grassy plains gave way to deep valleys and tree filled gorges. The ship began bucking wildly before suddenly dropping ground wards.
“Hold on!” Halley yelled trying to bring some semblance of control to the shuttle.
“Two minutes ten seconds till those Ties get here” Jan added.
The shuttles rapid descent slowed as Halley activated the repulsors. Heat displays and other systems began to redline.
“Ten seconds” Jan shouted.
“Go low” Face shouted, “Get as low as you can”
Halley pushed the control stick forward without hesitation. The shuttle groaned in protest as they dived towards the forested tracts below. Lasers flashed by the cockpit followed quickly by a pair of Tie Defenders, both of which began to turn to make another pass over the shuttle.
“This is a bad idea” Halley muttered.
“Unfortunately” Face added with a wince as his restraints cut into him “We don’t have any choice”
The first of the two Defenders swung around and began another run on the shuttle. Halley swung the shuttle to port in an attempt to evade the Ties laser fire.
“This is gonna be bad” He shouted.
The laser bolts walked along the side of the shuttle from bow to stern. The vessel shuddered under the assault and began to slew to starboard. The console exploded into sparks and flame and Halley drew his hands back with a yelp of pain.
Another explosion in the aft of the shuttle followed by a complete loss of power indicated the loss of the power core.
Bereft of power the shuttle began a fast descent to the ground.
“This is defiantly bad!” Halley shouted grabbing the control yoke with both hands despite the painful burns on them. He hit several controls in the hope of getting some sort of response but to no avail.
“When we get back to Coruscant” Face began pulling the crash webbing around himself “I’m going to complain to the travel company about the quality of service on this flight”
“Yeah?” Halley responded, “Well, I’ll be right up there with you”
“This is all a moot point” Jan cut in “I estimate about thirty seconds till we hit”
Halley began hitting other switches and buttons in the hopes that something would work. A new tremble ran though the ship as back up power came on line.
“At last“ He shouted hitting another switch. A second tremor ran though the shuttle as emergency flaps were deployed. Not meant for general use, the flaps were used in emergency situations when all other options had been exhausted.
The shuttle began to slow its descent though they were still going to crash. Albeit with a little more control.
“Where are those Ties?” Corran shouted above the multitude of sounds that filled the cockpit.
“Watching us” Jan answered, “Watching us die as if it’s a game”
Nobody had anything to say to that and they continued to fall.
“This is it!” Halley shouted at long last “Nice knowing you guys”
And they hit and were swallowed by darkness.
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