||Rogue Squadron Board
Welcome to the Rogue Squadron Community.
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:49 pm Post subject: The Final mission: Book Four: The Turning Point.
|Moments after the end of the previous part.
Supreme Admiral Lon Sur gazed at the aide with a calm anger. The news that the shuttle had made it to the planet displeased him to no end. If Corran Horn and those with him had survived the crash then things could become complicated.
“Dispatch a search party immediately” He said quietly “Orders are to take survivors into custody”
“Yes sir” The aide glanced to his datapad and frowned “My lord, a shuttle landed a few moments ago and its passenger is on his way up here”
“What? Why was I not notified of its approach?” Sur turned and looked out the window of his throne room to the landing pads below. A lambda shuttle occupied a previously empty space; its hull was black as night and seemed to swallow all light around it casting a deep gloom on neighbouring vessels. “Who is the passenger?”
When the aide didn’t answer immediately Sur spun around intending to rebuke the man for his tardiness. Instead he stopped short when he sure the aide standing still as a statue and white as a sheet. The aide’s eyes were directed at the door to the throne room. Sur looked to the doorway and his breath caught in his throat.
A shadow stood in the doorway, its robes were black like the shuttle and seemed to ripple with impossible currents. Skeletal hands emerged from the cuffs of the robe and a similarly skeletal chin and throat could be seen in the shadows cast by the hood of the robe.
Sur heard a rustling sound and it took Sur a moment to realise the spectre was speaking.
“Leave us,” the figure said to the aide who beat a hasty retreat from the room. The voice was male and harsh, silky yet rough, like the voice of a man either unaccustomed to speaking or like a man barely capable of doing so.
“Who are you?” Sur demanded trying to ignore the fear that threatened to show its presence.
“I am Darth Hades,” The robed shadow said with a voice that threatened to turn Sur into a gibbering mass of terror. “And my mistress is most displeased with your failure to subjugate this pathetic world”
“I..I…” Sur stammered. Fear saturated his very being and fed his desire to fall on his knees and confess to his failings, to confess anything. Anything to make this man forgive him.
But he didn’t. Instead from somewhere he found a wellspring of courage. It chased away his fear and solidified his spirit. “Yes, I have suffered delays” He said with growing confidence “But new variables have cropped up that were unforeseen”
“Oh really. What variables?” Hades said with a whisper
“Deven Tarn is leading the Skye defence forces and despite our best efforts we have yet to overwhelm their defences. Also Corran Horn has recently arrived on planet though his current status is unknown”
“This names are known to me” Hades replied “But what do you plan on doing about them?”
“Horn may or may not have survived his crash landing on the planet, I have ordered a team dispatched for arrest or body collection. As for Tarn I have already put into action an operation that will remove Tarn from the picture”
“On the contrary Tarn is to be left alive”
“What? But the team has orders to kill, they are out of contact!” Sur felt his fear returning
“Then you had best hope they fail. Because if Tarn dies so do you”
Anger flooded Sur’s very being. “Who do you think you are? I take my orders from your mistress, not from her pets. You come here making threats and expect me to roll over and give up, well I won’t” Sur’s hand dropped to the blaster sitting in the holster on his hip.
His hand never made it.
Faster than Sur would have thought Darth Hades had raised his hands and blasted Sur with unnatural lightning from his finger tips. Agony raced though Sur’s body, igniting his nerves with fire and exploding his synapses. Darkness rushed into his brain and extinguished all conscious thought.
He awoke sometime later on the floor of his throne room, his whole body was racked with pain and his flesh had a red tinge. As he slowly rose to his feet his limbs felt heavy and his cybernetic eye refused to reactivate.
“I hope the lesson was learned Lon Sur” Hades said from were he sat on Sur’s throne.
“I…I will dou…double my efforts to take this world” Sur managed to say.
“Good” Hades smiled beneath his hood with bloodless lips “My mistress arrives in three days and should you displease her again you will find that Darth Shiva is far less forgiving than I”
The ruins of Ravenholm.
The two TIE Walkers marched down the ruined streets of Ravenholm followed by a squad of stormtroopers. The two machines were little more than a TIE fighter cockpit attached to a pair of legs with a pair of weapons pods fixed either side of the cockpit. When pilots washed out of the TIE fighter programs they were often reassigned to TIE crawlers or in the case of the more skilled pilots they were assigned to TIE Walkers.
The Walker taking point had a pair of heavy blaster cannons slung either side of the cockpit. The rearmost walker boasted a pair of missile launchers with a full load.
In the lead walker Terry Merrick whistled a tuneless ditty while working the simple controls. His comm system crackled and his fellow pilot spoke to him across the channels.
“I’m picking up heat signatures from that ruined shop” The other pilot called out. “About a dozen bodies. Heh! They might as well take out an ad”
“Probably waiting for us to move towards them,” Merrick said
“Should we oblige?” The other pilot asked with enthusiasm.
“Yeah” Merrick said with less enthusiasm. “Lets teach them the folly of standing before the Empire. Here’s what we’ll do”
Soria Onasi hunkered down with her squad and watched the approaching walkers with satisfaction. As the two walkers approached the squad of storm troopers began to head wide around them. She saw the Imperial’s plan immediately. The walkers would lead the charge down the street while the infantry would move to flank Soria and her squad.
Obviously the lead pilot intended to take on whatever force Soria could muster with the intention of keeping them busy whilst the storm troopers swung in and over whelmed them.
“Good plan” Soria muttered then she grinned “But there’s plans and then there’s plans”
She saw it as soon as it happened. The lead walker placed its left foot on a particular section of the road and with a crashing sound suddenly found itself up to its knee in a hole. The second walker ran forward and a short distance ahead of the first walker quickly found itself in a similar situation.
Soria grinned. Her squad had spent hours digging the holes and preparing the traps with the intention of bagging the two walkers.
She keyed her mike “Lock and load and let em rip”
And the street exploded.
Merrick knew something was wrong a split second before his computer started screaming alarms. In his helmet he heard the echo of the alarm from the other walker along with the curses of its pilot. He tried to throttle up to escape the trap that he’d stumbled into but all he heard was the screeching of his gyro and the grinding of metal on metal and he wasn’t moving at all.
“I’m stuck here!” the other pilot called out anger evident in his voice.
“Throttle back” Equally vexed, Merrick wrestled with his throttle. What a nuisance, no wonder the defending infantry had held their position. Up ahead he saw the storm trooper squad hesitating at the sudden turn of events.
He moved to activate his comm to tell the infantry to fall back when he heard the unmistakable shriek of missiles arcing in and impacting the cockpit of his walker. The sound nearly cracked his brain in two and Merrick gasped as the explosion rocked its way into the pit of his stomach, like a punch to the solar plexus. Merrick fought the controls as the walker listed and threatened to go over.
Before he could stabilise the machine the other walker took a full dozen missiles and a pair of heavy lasers to the right shoulder. The walker reeled and then its twin racks of twenty missiles ignited. First the right and then a few milliseconds later the left, and Merrick blinked, the orange-yellow fireballs of exploding munitions searing his brain. The ground shook with enough force to bring the remnants of buildings crashing to the ground and Merrick imagined the high wail of the other pilot as he was instantly incinerated in his cockpit.
And then the concussive force of the double detonation slammed into Merrick’s walker. The walker tilted dangerously back as Merrick once again fought to stabilise the machine. As he wrestled with the controls he didn’t see the power core of the other walker detonate. Instead he heard a muffled whump and flinched as the walker blew apart at its core. Gobbets of molten armour rained down on his cockpit and a piece of the other walker, Merrick was never sure what, came rushing at his canopy and he flinched, turning away. There was a BANG! The canopy didn’t just crack or break open like an egg; it imploded. Shards of transparisteel showered over Merrick and he was powerless to avoid the glittering jagged edges. He heard the hollow sound of impacts against his helmet and wished he had worn one of the standard TIE pilot helmets because his cheeks were flayed open and he felt the hot spray of blood slick his neck. He screamed as one shard, sharp as a knife and long as a spear, skewered his right shoulder, slicing though red quivering meat and bone and pinned him to the pilots couch. Pain exploded in his chest and he let out a long, wailing roar of agony.
The only reason he didn’t die there and then is because a human’s heart is on the left. Simple as that.
Merrick’s vision swam orange, then red and then black as a wave of nausea clogged his throat. He tried to take a breath, but found it impossible.
“Got the lung,” He thought as panic swam though his body. As his consciousness began to evaporate he saw one last missile arcing down towards his prone walker.
For some reason his last thoughts were of the storm troopers. “Wonder if they’re okay” He thought.
Then the missile hit.
As the second walker exploded in a Bright fireball Soria found herself picked up and hurled away like she was so much litter. She hit the ground hard enough to momentarily destroy any conscious thought. She came to a moment later and found herself lying on her back looking up a sky brimming with a storm. A roar of silence filled her ears and she felt lost for a moment. Then laser bolts began cutting though the air above her, reacting purely on instinct she rolled to her knees and added her blaster fire to that of her squad as the Imperial infantry beat a retreat.
As she watched the Imperials beat a retreat she became aware of her squads medic dropping to his knee beside her. The medic’s mouth moved but Soria could barely make out a sound.
“What?” She shouted barely able to hear her own voice.
“I said, are you okay?” The medic shouted again his voice becoming a little clearer.
“Yeah” Soria answered standing a swaying a little as a wave of dizziness swept over her. “I’m okay. A little bruised, but I’m okay”
“You’re sure?” Her second in command, a grizzled veteran she knew simply as Aiden moved to support her. “You took a heck of a spill”
“I’m sure. But I never, ever want to do that again”
The Skye fallback planetary command centre.
Deven Tarn nodded to himself as he read the reports coming in to him. As the commander of all forces defending the command centre at Ravenholm Deven had found himself listening to reports far more than he’d expected. Next to him Alya Ven, recently returned to duty was listening to a message form the fleet currently in orbit.
“Were you expecting an unexpected shuttle?” Alya asked looking up at him.
“How can it be unexpected if I was expecting it?” Deven asked in confusion
“Enough of this witty banter” Alya waved her hand “A Republic shuttle just came down 30K south-west of here. No details on the passengers. Apparently they popped out of hyperspace smack bang in the middle of a skirmish between the fleets”
“What did they think they were doing?” Deven shook his head
“I don’t know. But General Christifori recommends we retrieve them. Top priority”
Deven thought for a second then looked up and caught the eye of his wife Trinity. Waving her over he turned to Alya.
“Alya, can you take a rescuer team out to collect the passengers of that shuttle?”
“Sure” She answered, “Though I’ll need a guide”
“A guide?” Trinity asked coming up to them “What for?”
Deven quickly fill Trinity in on the situation, who listened carefully then stood silent and thought for a second.
“I hate to say this, but Jenna knows that area better than anyone I know”
Deven hesitated. He was reluctant to send Jenna away, though he trusted Alya to keep her safe. At the same time he understood that if Jenna knew the area where the shuttle came down then Alya’s team stood a better chance of reaching any survivors before the Imperials.
He sighed, “Okay, I’m reluctant to allow it, but I don’t really have much choice” He turned to Alya again “Load up two Warthogs..”
“Not Warthogs” Trinity interrupted “I don’t know much about the area, but I do know there’s a lot of swampland around there”
“Well, what do you recommend?”
“Hovercraft, not repulsor lift vehicles, those are to inefficient for the area. We’ve got a pair of Bush Whackers in the vehicle garage, those should be more suitable for the terrain”
“Ok” Deven said, suddenly feeling like he didn’t know as much as he should “Alya, load up two of those Bush Whackers, then get together one of the other Genyosha, about half a dozen other guys and Jenna, then head out as soon as possible”
“Right chief” Alya sketched a sloppy salute, then turned and left the room.
As he watched her go Deven felt a wave of anxiety from Trinity. Turning he wrapped his arms around her “Jenna’ll be okay” He reassured her “I trust Alya to keep her safe”
“I know” Trinity said quietly “But its not that”
“Then what is it?” Deven said turning Trinity to face him.
“It’s about how you die”
“Not this again” Deven sighed, “Look, whatever happens I promise you I won’t die. What ever happens I’ll avoid it”
“But Yaddle described her vision to me in total detail” Trinity responded as her eyes brimmed with tears “I can’t help but feel that we’re moving closer to the day when it comes true”
“Then tell me everything and I’ll prove to you that the future can be changed”
“Just tell me”
And she did.
An hour later they stood in the vehicle garage of the Ravenholm command centre. Deven was going over a few last minutes things with Alya and Trinity was talking quietly with her daughter.
Deven leaned close to Alya. “Alya, I’m counting on you to keep an eye on her. Stay away from Imperial patrols, and that counts double when you have any survivors from that shuttle”
“No problem boss” Alya grinned rubbing a hand down one of her lekku “We’ll go out, get drunk, pick up a few guys and before you know it you’ll have a bunch of grandkids”
“Alya” Trinity said cutting into the conversation “Do you know how to remove a thermal detonator from your nose?”
“Erm, no” Alya replied confused
“Well, then look after my daughter. Is that clear?”
“I’ll be fine mom” Jenna interjected.
“Look” Alya said, “We need to get going if we’re going to beat the Imperials to the crash site”
“Right” Deven pulled Jenna into a quick hug that left her blushing and then nodded to Alya. “Good luck”
Whatever reply Alya might have made never materialised because at that moment the ceiling chose to explode inwards.
Trinity rolled with the concussive force of the blast and looked up towards the roof, or at least the hole were the roof used to be. A dozen heavily armoured figures descended on pillars of fire. She’d never seen one before though she had seen the reports about them. About how shortly after the loss of the Death Star at Yavin, General Mohc had begun work on a project to create a new breed of war droid. The construction vessel, the Arc Hammer and many of the prototypes had been lost to a Rebel saboteur, but many of the older models still existed.
“Dark Troopers!” Someone shouted and almost immediately weapons fire lanced up at the descending figures.
A cold feeling spread though her gut, this was it. Exactly as the diminutive Jedi Master Yaddle had described it all those years ago. The Dark Troopers settled to the floor and opened fire, blood red lasers cutting though the air. Sometimes the lasers impacted harmlessly, other times they elicited screams of pain.
In return weapons fire from the defenders struck the invaders taking down four of the Dark Troopers. The remainder began to spread out though the garage. Two of them moved directly towards her, one obviously a droid with its precise jerky movements; the other possessed a human grace that spoke of a man wearing the phase III Dark Trooper suit.
Trinity tried to push herself into the shadows, hoping against hope that what was going to happen next didn’t happen.
Deven dropped between Trinity and the two Dark Troopers, his lightsaber lit. The droid opened fire immediately with its blaster, but Deven deflected the bolts harmlessly away. Next it triggered its missile launcher and fired a single rocket at Deven. Deven waved his hand and the rocket spiralled away and struck another pair of Dark Troopers, leaving behind nothing but debris.
Before the droid could make another move Deven stepped forwards and with a single swing cleaved the Dark Trooper in two.
The human Dark Trooper responded faster than Deven or Trinity expected and in an instant Trinity found herself in the grasp of the Imperial solider, an archaic looking slug thrower pressed against her head. The slug thrower was an antique obviously well cared for by its owner, Trinity knew what it would do at this range. She also knew what it was going to do.
“Drop the lightsaber Tarn” The Dark Trooper said in a rasping voice.
“Let her go first” Deven responded
“Deven don’t!” Trinity screamed
The Dark Trooper tightened his grip “You first Tarn or I spray the ladies brain all over the place”
Emotions warred over Deven’s face. Finally he lowered his lightsaber. “Ok, I’ll do it. On three”
“One” The Imperial rasped
“Two” Deven said
“Deven, No” Trinity screamed, tears running down her face. Everything around them had ceased to exist. The entire universe consisted of just the three of them.
“Thr..” Deven began. He never finished, the Dark Trooper’s arm shot out straight, the slug thrower barked and Deven was thrown back as the slug slammed into his chest. He tumbled rag doll like across the floor and he lightsaber spun away from him, its blade still lit and casting blood red highlights around.
“NOOOO!!!!” Trinity screamed at the sight of her husband’s body rolling to a stop. He lay there, not moving, not even breathing. A small rivulet of blood leaked from the corner of his mouth. “Deven, no!” She wailed and then she broke down sobbing as the Dark Trooper tightened his grip on her and returned the slug thrower to its previous location against her head.
For Trinity Oslo Tarn, her world had ended.
Colonel Felix Sanderson surveyed the situation around him. The last of his Dark Troopers had been destroyed leaving him quite alone. He cast one last look at the body of Deven Tarn and pulled his hostage tighter against himself. A heavily armoured Genyosha moved towards him.
“Drop the lady or I’ll blast you to the middle of the next millennia”
“Try it!” Sanderson shouted “And she dies with me. I guarantee it”
“Whatever happens,” The Genyosha said evenly “You’re not leaving”
“Oh, I am” Sanderson grinned behind his helmet “You commanding officer is dead, I don’t think you want the Princess of Skye to join him”
For a few moments a tense standoff ensued, the silence only filled by the relentless sobbing of Oslo Tarn. Finally a blue skinned Twi’lek stepped forwards.
“Stand down Lieutenant” The Twi’lek said
“But sir….” The Genyosha trooper began.
“I said stand down!” The Twi’lek ordered
“Yes ma’am” The trooper said sullenly lowering his weapon. All around other soldiers were doing likewise.
“What is it you want?” The Twi’lek asked
“What I want” Sanderson said “Is to leave here without being killed”
“Release your hostage and you have my word you won’t be fired upon today”
Sanderson couldn’t help but notice the use of ‘today’. In other words if they saw him another day they wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him down. “Not good enough. I’m taking the lady out of here. She is now a prisoner of the Empire”
“I’m not going to allow you to….” The Twi’lek stopped mid-sentence and stared at Sanderson, her eyes widening.
It took Sanderson a few moments to realise what she was staring out. His right arm, which was wrapped around Oslo Tarn, was bending at a place where it shouldn’t be able. Armour crumpled and his bones snapped as his arm continued to bend away from his body. Shock and surprise overrode any pain he should have felt as he continued to stare dumbly at his arm.
Once his arm was far enough away from his body, Oslo Tarn dropped from his grip and seemingly unaware of what was happening crawled across to were the body of Tarn lay.
Sanderson expected the surrounding troops to open fire on him, they didn’t, they too were shocked by the turn of events.
Then he saw it. A shaft of red light cut across the Twi’lek’s shoulder and raced for him. It took him a moment to recognise it as Tarn’s lightsaber, thrown spear-like with a deadly accuracy by the young girl who stood some distance behind the Twi’lek.
Then it struck and obliterated the life of Felix Sanderson.
Alya Ven watched as the body of the Dark Trooper keeled over backwards and slammed against the floor with enough force to send a curtain of dust tumbling from the hole in the roof. She stared at the lightsaber that protruded from the head of the corpse, the lightsaber that had passed over her shoulder close enough, that she could feel the ionised air around her.
Then she turned around to where Jenna Tarn stood, Jenna simply stood mute, tears streamed down her face and her bottom lip quivered. But it was the emotional emptiness, a look of pure grief in Jenna’s eyes that broke Alya’s heart.
She quickly crossed to the little girl and wrapped her into her arms even as Jenna descended in a bout of sobbing so heart rending Alya couldn’t hold back her own tears.
Around her the gathered soldiers stood in shocked silence as the looked at the body of their fallen leader and his wife sprawled across his body.
“Medic!” Someone finally shouted
To be continued.
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:54 pm Post subject:
The shout cut though the noise of hurried activity in the battle ravaged garage, but Trinity Oslo Tarn didn’t hear it. All her senses, her very being, were concentrated on the still body of her husband.
Tears streamed down her face as she knelt by his unmoving form. His hand still felt warm within hers, a contrast to the stillness of his chest and the pale hue of his flesh.
“Deven” She whispered “Don’t do this, please don’t die” She swiped her hand across her eyes, oblivious to the people stood around her “I need you. We need you”
“Medic!” The shout cut though the air again.
“Deven, please wake up” Trinity whispered, barely aware of the blood soaking her knees.
A hand suddenly cut across her vision and she looked up to see a young man in a medic uniform kneeling down opposite her. Without a word he began to examine Deven’s still form.
“Please help him,” Trinity pleaded.
“I’ll do what I can ma’am” The medic replied. He moved his hand down to the wound in Deven’s chest. He began to examine the wound, then stopped and frowned.
“What’s wrong?” Trinity asked as her gut froze.
Seeming not to hear her, the medic unzipped the bulky jacket Deven was wearing and revealed an additional garment underneath. Around them Trinity heard the gasps of the observing soldiers and techs.
“I’ll be damned!” Alya Ven said quietly. Trinity glanced up to see both the blue skinned Twi’lek and her daughter Jenna looking on in shock. Trinity returned her eyes to Deven and tried to comprehend what she saw.
Underneath the jacket Deven was wearing a vest of heavy-duty ballistic plating. A burst bag of fake blood was pinned on the surface of the plated vest and in the centre of a large dent sat a flattened irregular disc of metal.
“You did it Deven” Trinity whispered as her hope once more ignited.
“We have to get the vest off” The medic interrupted Trinity’s thoughts
“The vest” The medic indicated “It’s pressing against his chest. It’s restricting his breathing”
Carefully the medic found the catch to release the armoured vest and with the help of a tech opened the vest to reveal Deven’s bare chest. A massive bruise covered the side of his chest and it was immediately obvious from the distortion of his chest that at least two ribs were broken. Almost as soon as the vest was opened Deven suddenly breathed in deeply as if he hadn’t done so in years and his chest began to resume a more normal rhythm.
The medic quickly restarted his examination, gently probing Deven’s injured side.
“No penetration. Two, possibly three broken ribs” He frowned “Left lung is punctured. We need to get him to the medi-bay”
“Will he be okay?” Jenna sniffed moving closer
“He’ll live, but he’s going to be sore for a few days at least”
Suddenly Deven’s eyes fluttered open as he regained consciousness. He looked around at his surroundings and tried to sit up but the medic pressed his hand on his chest and encouraged him to remain lying down.
“I recommend you stay were you are for the moment sir”
“Can’t…..breath…properly” Deven gasped in obvious pain
“You’ve got a punctured lung sir. Stay calm and talk regular breaths”
Deven’s gaze tracked over to Trinity. “Told you…….I could change……how things happen” He managed a weak grin.
Trinity nodded in reply, not trusting herself to speak.
Deven moved his head enough to look at Jenna. “Hey sport” He smiled.
“Hey Dad” Jenna smiled wiping the tears from her face “I thought you were dead”
“No, I….only feel like it”
“You’re an idiot you know that” Trinity scowled at him having regain some of her composure. “You could have told us”
“Didn’t want to get your hopes up in case I was wrong”
“Didn’t want to….” Trinity shook her head “The next time you put me though anything like that again, I’m going to kill you myself”
“Promises, promises” Deven grinned. By now a pair of orderlies had arrived with a stretcher and under the supervision of the medic began to lift Deven onto it.
“Glad to still have you with us sir” Alya grinned
“Thanks Alya, Oh and one more thing”
“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Deven grinned as he was carried in the direction of the medi-bay.
Two hours later. The Blood Swamps.
Alya Ven looked out of the cockpit of the Bush Whacker hovercraft as it hovered gently above the bubbling swamps. A short distance away she could see the other hovercraft as it too cut though the swamps.
“Nice place” She muttered edging the hovercraft around a particularly suspicious looking spot in the swamp. Seconds later the previously calm swamp water bubbled up and popped with enough force to rattle the hovercraft. A mixture of swamp water and mud rained down on the windscreen.
“Yeah” Jenna said next to her in the co-pilots seat. “There are all sorts of stories about explorer vehicles disappearing in these swamps” Her tone was neutral and seemed to be hiding her emotions.
Alya turned her head enough to look at the young girl and sighed.
“You know you didn’t have to come. You could have helped me plot the route and stayed back at the base”
“I wanted to come. I needed some fresh air after……what happened”
“I wouldn’t call it fresh air, but I guess I understand what you’re going though”
“No you don’t!” Jenna snarled with vehemence out of proportion for her age “How could you even now what I’m going though?” She looked at her knees and her bottom lip trembled “I used the force to kill that man”
“I would’ve done the same” Alya responded noticing several of the troopers accompanying them were listening in on the conversation.
Anger crossed Jenna’s face “But you don’t have the force. I broke his arm and threw my dads lightsaber at his head”
“You reacted just like anybody else would do. You saw your father gunned down and your mother in danger, so you reacted just as a child would. You struck out at the one threatening your family” She smiled “You reacted like a human”
Silence ensued in the cockpit and everyone within suddenly found more important things to do.
“I was eight” Alya said suddenly breaking the silence.
“What?” Jenna said in confusion.
“Eight years old when I first killed someone” Alya said shaking her head.
“Eight!” Jenna said in shock “Eight! How did..why did. I don’t understand”
“My father was a powerful figure on Ryloth. He ran a profitable shipping company and was making a profit” Alya sighed “Unfortunately he was also a compulsive gambler. One day he got too deep in a game and found himself gambling away everything we owned, but even then he couldn’t stop” She closed her eyes “He put his own six year old daughter up as collateral. Even then he couldn’t win”
“He gambled you away!” Jenna’s eyes widened in disbelief.
Alya nodded “I ended up a slave girl in a spice lords lair on Nar Shaddaa. I guess I was okay for two years and then one day a guard got a little heavy handed and I lashed out at him” She sighed again “In the ensuing scuffle I grabbed his knife and jammed it into his throat”
“And you were only eight?”
“Yeah. I stood and watched the guard bleed all over the floor and die and I guess something just snapped inside me. I went on a rampage”
Jenna stared at her for a few seconds and the troopers in the back shuffled uncomfortably. Eventually Jenna shook her head “I’m sorry, I have trouble with the image of an eight year old Twi’lek girl going on a rampage”
“I’m serious” Alya laughed “I set up loads of traps to catch the unwary, found little hidey-holes to snipe from and generally caused havoc” She shook her head sadly “By the time I’d done thirty-four people were dead, including the spice lord and his right hand man”
“But you’re okay now right?” Jenna shuffled nervously
“Sure I’m fine. It took a few years, but your dad helped put me back together”
“Yeah. I first met him when his unit under the command of Kapp Dendo raided the spice Den and found all the dead. Your dad found me in the throne room in what he described as ‘a serious catatonic state’. Turns out I have minor force abilities and when that guard died his despair, fear and hate warped my mind. The guard hated all those around him and wanted to kill them all. I ended up carrying out his desire”
“So you can use the force too?”
“Barely” Alya snorted, “I can’t even lift a pebble. My skills are limited to feeling strong emotions and that’s it. But your dad took me as his apprentice anyway, teaching me enough to stop me going off on one again. Seven years later I’m the well adjusted individual you see before you”
“And when he formed the Genyosha you were right there with him?” Jenna asked
“Exactly. Your dad saved me from myself and took me under his wing. I owe him a debt I could never pay off. I’d follow him to the ends of the galaxy”
Jenna opened her mouth to say something but before she could, the comm system crackled. “Echo One, this is Echo Two” The voice of the other Genyosha member called out “We got something on the MAD”
Alya bought her full attention to her own console. She dialled her Magnetic Anomaly Detector to maximum and concentrated it in the direction of the other hovercraft. Sure enough a large mass appeared on the scope.
“The shuttle?” Jenna asked leaning towards the scope.
“My moneys on it” Alya replied “Okay Echo Two, wait for us to catch up and we’ll move forward together”
“Can you sense anyone?” Alya asked Jenna
“I’ll try, but I’m not exactly trained. I just know what I taught myself and what dad taught me when we had time” She closed her eyes and concentrated, after a few seconds she opened her eyes “I can sense someone, but I don’t know how many I think another Jedi is blocking me”
“Great” Alya grimaced “This could be good or bad”
Face crouched in the shadows cast by the shuttles port wing. He held his blaster pistol at the ready as he watched the two hovercraft moving toward the shuttle. He looked back at the shuttle and saw Corran also crouched with his lightsaber close to hand.
“Anything?” He asked the Jedi.
“There’s about eight people aboard the two craft” He frowned “One of them has considerable strength in the force, though unfocused and untrained”
Face thought for a moment “Do you recognise any of them?”
“The force user seems familiar in a strange way” Corran frowned again “Can’t put my finger on it though”
Face nodded “I think I know who it is. You might as well tell Halley and Jan to come out of the shuttle. Our taxi has just arrived”
Corran who had already sensed a lack of threat from the approaching hovercraft nodded and headed back into the shuttle. Seconds later he emerged followed by the elderly Jan and Halley, who scratched at the bacta bandages on his hands.
“This our ride?” Halley asked
“Face says it is” Corran said, wading though the knee-deep swamp water to were Face stood.
“That fills me with confidence” Halley grimaced casting a last look at the remains of the half sunken shuttle from which he’d emerged. Behind him Jan followed quietly.
With a roar of fans the two hovercraft came to a stop in a position that allowed both vehicles to cover the shuttle and the surrounding area. Within seconds the top hatch on one of the hovercraft opened up and a power-armoured figure emerged. Face recognised Alya Ven straight away, her helmet off and blue skin glistening and Twi-Lek hanging loose.
“You know her?” Jan asked catching the relaxation in Faces stance.
“Yeah, we met briefly a year back. She’s second in command of Deven’s unit” Face replied. Meanwhile a number of soliders emerged from both hovercraft including another wearing Atlas power armour. From behind Alya Ven Face also caught a glimpse of small girl he recognised far easier than he had recognised Ven.
“Lets go” Face said then he moved forward and raised his voice “Greetings Lieutenant colonel Ven, I was wondering when you’d show up”
“Kill me now” Alya muttered as Face revealed himself.
“You know Garik Loran?” Jenna asked from below
“Yeah, we met briefly a year back. He came up to me and said in sinister voice ‘Pleased to meet you, I hope you guess my name”
“Hmm, That’s Face alright. He said the same to me once”
“Heh, it’s just like in that Chimpanzee song”
“What Chimpanzee song?” Jenna asked confused
“You know. That ‘Chimpanzee for the Devil’ song”
“You mean ‘Sympathy for the Devil” Jenna shook her head
“Huh! No, I mean the Rolling Stones one”
“That’s the one”
“No Chimpanzee!” Jenna said firmly
“Well” Alya shook her head sadly “The coolness level of that song just dropped 666%”
“Yours, on the other hand, are intact” Jenna muttered.
“Wait here” Alya said to Jenna “I’ll go meet our guests”
Corran moved towards the hovercraft as Alya Ven disembarked and began wading though the swamp water towards them. Face, Halley and Jan drew up alongside him.
“Welcome to Skye” Alya grinned “This isn’t the most hospitable region, so don’t let it jade you to the rest of the planet.
“Alya, good to see you again” Face responded “Although from our last conversation, I fear this meeting may be too soon”
Alya muttered something under her breath before turning to Corran and executing a bow “Master Horn, I’m honoured to finally meet you”
Corran returned the bow before replying “I’m surprised we never meet considering all the fuss over Deven taking you on as his apprentice, despite the fact that you were labelled as problematic”
“Only problematic?” Alya grinned and turned to Halley and Jan “I’m not familiar with the rest of your group”
Face stepped forwards to make the introductions “Alya Ven, This is Halley Kadorto and” He indicated Jan “And this is Jan…er” He hesitated when he realised he didn’t actually know Jan’s second name.
“Just Jan” Jan nodded
“Who’s the kid?” Halley asked indicating the girl in the hovercraft Alya had disembarked,
Jenna” Alya said “Jenna Tarn”
“Tarn?” Corran felt his surprise mirrored in Halley. Face on the other hand wasn’t surprised and Jan was merely curious. “Did you say Tarn?”
“Yes” Alya replied curiously “She’s General Tarn’s daughter”
“General Tarn!” Halley said stunned “The surprises just keep coming don’t they?”
Corran caught a ripple in the force just on the edge of his senses. “Miss Ven, I suggest we vacate this area as soon as possible. I fear we have trouble on the way”
“Damn, I’m not gonna argue with a Jedi Master ” Alya turned back towards the hovercraft and began shouting orders to the soldiers “If we can all board as soon as possible”
“Hey!” Halley said as he and Corran moved to one hovercraft as Face and Jan moved to the other “When did Deven find time to have a kid. Back in the squadron he never had time for anything other than sleeping, eating and destroying valuable real estate”
“He meditated as well” Corran responded
“Isn’t that the same as sleeping in Deven’s case?” Halley said climbing in the hovercraft as delicately as possible with his injured hands.
“He also had that pet rock,” Corran said shutting and locking the hatch behind him.
“Only because he didn’t have to feed it, clean it or take it for walks”
The armoured trooper in the pilots seat turned to see them. “We’ve got a full Imperial scout force incoming, so hang on it’s going to get a little rough”
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 8:36 am Post subject:
|(Continued on form last part)
As Face moved to the hovercraft he took notice of the hovercrafts main offensive weapon. The gun was an antique Luxor 500 auto cannon, an anti-armour weapon that had become obsolete some sixty years back. A cockpit sat on the turrets base looking more like an armoured egg than a gunnery chair. The hatch was currently open and a nervous looking trooper sat half in and half out of gunpod.
Face climbed up towards the gunnery cockpit and dropped a hand on the troopers shoulder.
“You okay?” Face asked
“N..no” The trooper shook his head. His face was pale and glistened with sweat. “No sir. I don’t feel so good. I…I think I’m coming down with something”
Face thought for a moment “Tell you what. I’ll take over here. You go lie down in the cabin”
“Sir?” The trooper looked over to Alya Ven for confirmation.
“Do it private. I don’t want you passing out in the pod” Ven nodded as she climbed in the main cabin.
“Yes, sir, thank you sir” The private nodded gratefully scrambling from the pod and heading for the cabin.
Alya Ven shouted out “Five minutes and those Imps will be here. I want to be gone by then”
Meanwhile Face had climbed in to the gunnery pod and secured the hatch. After strapping himself in he pulled on a communications headset and activated it.
“This is Loran online and..” He switched on the targeting systems for the auto cannon “All systems in the green”
“Who is this?” A female voice asked over the comm. “Where’s Lonnigan?”
“I’ve taken his place. Names Loran. But you can call me face” Face grinned.
“As in Garik ‘Face’ Loran?” The voice asked.
“That’s it exactly”
“Never heard of you,” The voice replied “Names Cassandra Yoritomo. I’m the gunner on the other hover. Can you shoot that thing straight Loran?”
Face was just about to reply when the hovercraft started up and lifted on a cushion of air. Looking at the screens Face saw they were moving north and both Hovercraft were in a tight formation as they moved though the swamps.
“Contact!” Someone shouted “Six-o-clock, nine-hundred meters”
Face glanced out his scopes and rotated the cannon around to the south. He saw the Imperial units moving though the swamp. As well as two Viper hover tanks; the Imperials also had a trio of TIE-Walkers, an AT-ST and four hover scouts. Without hesitating Face dropped his sights over the lead TIE-Walker.
“Fire only to discourage pursuit” Alya Ven shouted.
Face mashed his thumb down on the firing button. With a dragon like roar the massive Luxor 500 spat out a shell at the target. The recoil was such that the hovercraft actually tilted with the shot.
Faces aim was true. The shell impacted what would have been the groin on the TIE-walker. Armour shattered and warped under the impact, the left hip joint rotated in a way it wasn’t supposed to and jammed. The pilot tried to compensate, but he could do little. The walker fell face first into the swamp water.
“Wasn’t that a bit un-sporting loran?” Yoritomo laughed.
“He should have worn a cup” Face grinned.
The cannon on the other hovercraft barked and a shell smashed in the cockpit of one of the hover scouts. The disabled vehicle went out of control and impacted against the side of one of the Viper’s. The hover scout exploded and the hover tank was pushed against the side of a tree. Not destroyed, but it was out of this engagement.
Face quickly dropped his sights over the next TIE-Walker and fired. The first shell glanced off the target at an angle doing little or no damage. Holding the firing button down Face drew his sights across the walker. The cannon shifted to repeated fire mode and spat out a stream of shells which reduced the walker’s cockpit to scrap metal. Yoritomo fired again and reduced the already damaged hover tank to its basic components.
“Watch your ammo count Loran” Yoritomo called “You’ve got fifty shells in that antique. Once they’ve gone you may have to use your abysmal acting abilities to scare them off”
“Are you saying you’re not a fan?”
“I thought your acting was worse than having my appendix removed with a rusty pencil sharpener and your holo-films were an insult to my backside”
“Well, they were Imperial productions”
“I bet that’s what you say to everybody who hates your holo-films”
Face grimaced. For once he didn’t have a comeback.
Then the remaining Viper tank opened fire.
Alya Ven winced as a heavy laser reduced the closest tree to matchsticks. In response Alya wrenched the hovercraft in a turn just in time to avoid another strike, this time a salvo of missiles hammered down into the swamp water. A massive spray washed up over the hovercraft, leaving a murky tinge to the cockpit glass. From above the auto cannon thundered as Face loran returned fire. She hit the transmit button on the comm system.
“Echo Two, How you going over there Baird?”
“We’re doing okay, Echo One” The voice of the other Genyosha, Gordo Baird replied, “Passengers are complaining though”
“Just concentrate on your driving Echo Two and they won’t have much more to complain about” Alya grinned. “Echo One out” She turned to Jenna. “Anything?”
Jenna looked up from where she was working on the long-range communications system. “Just garbled transmissions” She shook her head “The trees in this swamp have a high enough metal content to mess with communications. We may have to wait tell we’re clear of the swamp”
“How long till we’re clear?” Alya asked
“Five minutes” Jenna responded
The trooper on the sensors looked up in panic “Sir, enemy air assets are waiting on the swamps periphery. Looks like a single flight”
Alya cursed under her breath. Things were getting worse.
Cassandra Yoritomo winced as a missile launched by one of the hover scouts struck her gunnery pod. The armour held but the explosion rattled her about in the cockpit. In response she dropped her sights over the offending hover scout and allowed them to lead before unleashing a stream of shells that punctured her targets relatively armour. The hover scouts port side repulsors cut out and the small vehicle whipped around in a sharp spin that ended explosively when it collided with a tree.
Absently Yoritomo reached out and stroked the head of Bunny Bear, the small stuffed rabbit that rode in the cockpit with her.
Movement on her sensors caught her eye and she brought the auto cannon around and fired at the remaining TIE-Walker. The walker dodge behind a tree before the shell hit, the pilot having developed a healthy respect for what her gun could do.
She smiled grimly. “All the better” She thought “Makes the final kill all the better”
Then Alya Ven’s voice cut across the comms. “Heads up. We’re about to break out of the swamp”
The two hovercraft burst from the dense swamp and onto the adjoining wetlands at high speed. The flight of TIE fighters circling above the hovercrafts projected point of exit immediately dove on the two hovercraft. The leading pair died instantly as Face and Yoritomo turned their auto cannons skywards and released a stream of auto cannon shells.
Even before the blazing wrecks crashed into the wetlands, both gunners had turned their attentions to the remaining two TIEs. Another stream of shells shattered the starboard solar panel of one TIE and it quickly joined the remains of its comrades. Meanwhile the pilot of the remaining fighter exercised the better part of valour and broke off from the engagement.
Face immediately disregarded the fleeing fighter and bought his attention to the Imperial units emerging from the swamp. The first to appear was the remaining hover tank, the crew hoping to use the Viper’s full range of firepower now that they were in the open.
Without pause Face impaled the hover tank on his sights and loosed a stream of shells, which slammed into the prow of the vehicle. Armour shattered and rained down into the water and the tank tried to reverse course back into the dense swamp. Then the ammo stores for the missile launcher detonated, blasting the turret thirty feet into the air and swallowing the tank in flames.
“I’ve still got it” Face grinned.
“Weapon jam!” Yoritomo’s panic-stricken voice called out.
When she heard the double clunk of a jammed magazine Cassandra Yoritomo knew she was in trouble. Weapon jams and limited ammunition were the two main reasons auto cannons where now longer in widespread use, as both put the weapon out of action.
“Get out of there Cass!” Gordo Baird’s voice called.
Yoritomo knew she was a sitting duck on the top of the hovercraft. Once the Imperials knew her weapon was out of action they would quickly overcome their nervousness and deal with her.
After a moments hesitation she swung her gun around so that the auto cannon itself was between her and the Imperials. The auto cannon itself would offer her a degree of protection against incoming fire, but it also presented another risk. A lucky shot to the ammo storage bin would cause an explosion that would end her life just as quick as a laser shot to the cockpit. In addition the top of the egg shaped cockpit poked above the level of the gun barrel.
“I’m coming out,” She shouted over the comms. “Have the hatch open ready, Loran give me covering fire”
A chorus of acknowledgements sounded out and she quickly began unstrapping her self. As she reached to grabbed Bunny Bear from his perch the last TIE-Walker stepped clear of the swamp and opened up with his lasers. At such a long range the lasers lacked accuracy and as a result the first bolt passed high. The second bolt however struck the top of the gunnery pod. Though it lost much of its power due to the range, it still packed enough to breach the cockpit and fill it with a hellish heat.
On his perch Bunny Bear burst in to flames and Yoritomo cried out, more in grief for her beloved friend than from any fear for herself. For a moment she thought she could smell something cooking, then she realised it was her own flesh burning.
As Yoritomo’s scream echoed though his head Face turned his cannon towards the TIE-Walker and mashed his thumb down hard on the firing stud. With a terrible roar of thunder a stream of shells connected the hovercrafts cannon to the TIE-Walker smashing though its cockpit and out the back, reducing the pilot to red mist in the meantime. Face held the firing button down until the cannon’s safety systems registered hit build-up in the barrel and cut his controls for a moment.
The sudden silence snapped Face from his single mindedness and he watched as the walker staggered sideways and slumped against a tree in the same way a drunk might do. Face removed his thumb from the firing stud, wincing at the popping tendons resulting from the sheer pressure he’d placed on it.
Taking a deep breath he rotated his gun so that he could see the cannon of the other hovercraft. The laser blast had peeled the top of the pod away and Face thought he could see smoke rising. He tore his eyes away from the sight and concentrated on his sensors.
“All boards clear” He whispered.
“She’s still alive” Corran’s voice cut though the silence in the cabin of Echo two.
“How do you know?” Gordo Baird snapped.
“He’s a Jedi” Halley put in.
“We have to get her out” one of the other troopers said.
“We can’t stop”
“What!” Halley said in disbelief “she might be alive now, but she won’t last if we don’t get her out of there”
“I know” Emotions competed on Baird’s face “But if we stop, it increases the chance of the Imps catching us”
“So she gets sacrificed?” Halley grimaced
Before Baird could respond Corran stood. “I’ll get her,” He said moving to the hatch.
“What?” Halley stood “Are you crazy?”
“You said it yourself Halley” Corran removed his robes “If we don’t help Yoritomo she’ll die”
“But I didn’t mean for you to go outside when we’re moving at 100 kilometres per hour” Halley protested
“Would you prefer to do it?” Corran asked opening the hatch and clipping a safety cable to his waist.
Halley looked at his still bandaged hands “I guess you have a point in that regard”
“Then its decided” Corran said and pulled himself up though the hatch on the hovercrafts roof.
“He’s crazy” Baird muttered as the trooper who had spoken earlier whistled in admiration.
“He’s a Jedi. They have a thing for dangerous rescue missions” Halley shrugged.
Even before he was fully out the hatch Corran realised he might have underestimated the hazards involved in the rescue. Wind whipped his hair all over the place and threatened to tear him from the hovercraft despite the presence of the safety cable. Either side of the hovercraft the waters of the wetlands raced past at incredible speed.
Lying flat against the hovercrafts roof he used a set of handholds to move hand over hand down towards the gunnery pod.
Corran knew that the hatch was built into the rear of the pod and therein lay the problem. When Yoritomo had turned the auto cannon to give herself cover from enemy fire it had left the hatch hanging over the side of the hovercraft. This meant that Corran would have to open the hatch, ease Yoritomo out of her seat, out of the pod and to the cabin hatchway, all without falling over the side of the hovercraft.
Not for the first time Corran cursed his lack of easily accessible telekinetic abilities. Still he had survived this long without that ability.
Reaching the pod Corran slowly eased himself into a standing position, though the wind tearing at him did its best to press him against the pod. Locating a small panel close to the hatch, he opened it and pulled a D-shaped pull inside. With a double clunk the hatch unlocked and opened. The wind immediately grabbed the hatch door and flung it hard against the auto cannons barrel.
Without hesitation Corran grabbed the edge of the hatchway and swung himself around and into the pod. The heat and smell of burnt flesh hit him immediately, but he ignored them and eased himself into the tight confines of the pod. When he saw Yoritomo he actually hoped she was dead. Her flesh was horrifically burned and blistered and any trace of hair was long gone. Her jumpsuit had melted to her skin in places, as had the seat in which she sat. Only her sense in the force and the hissing sound of air being pulled into tortured lungs gave any indication of life.
Corran was no medic, but even he could see that under the best of conditions moving Yoritomo without killing had only a slim chance of success. Under the current conditions the chances dropped dramatically.
Corran considered the situation for a moment then pulled out his comlink
“Baird, this is Horn”
“Horn” Baird’s voice came back “You still alive? How is she?”
“Alive. Barely” Corran responded probing Yoritomo’s injuries with the force the best he could “Change of plan. I can’t move her without killing her. You need to get us to a medic soon. I’ll stay up here and do what I can for her”
“Understood” Baird replied, “Wait. Hold on a minute. Something’s come up”
“We can’t contact anyone at Ravenholm. We’re trying to find an alternative”
Corran sighed. Things were getting worse.
“Anything?” Alya Ven asked Jenna Tarn as she worked the long-range comm system.
“Nothing” Jenna replied “Just static. I hope noth..Wait I’ve got something”
“Lieutenant colonel Ven, this is Chu-i Steiner. Can you hear me?” A voice crackled over the static in the transmission.
“Loud and clear. What’s going on, we’ve been trying to contact you?”
“Our position at Ravenholm is no-longer tenable. We are pulling out,” Steiner said
“Do we have a rendevous?” Alya asked
Steiner hesitated “I cannot tell you over an unsecured line” He paused “Ask the princess about Reigan’s last stand”
Alya looked at Jenna in confusion who responded by bringing up a region map and highlighting a specific position. Alya nodded.
“Understood. We have two wounded, one minor, and one in serious condition. We’ll need a burns team on standby”
“You’ll have it. Steiner out”
Alya brought the hovercraft around on a new course and ensured the other hovercraft-followed suit. Then she turned to Jenna.
“Okay Jenna. So what’s at this new location and what’s with the ‘Reigan’s Last Stand’ thing?”
“Well, what’s there is an old Clone Wars era base. Established back when the Republic thought the Separatist’s would hit this far out. But then Grevious went straight for Coruscant instead, so Skye never got hit” Jenna paused “As for the Reigan remark, back when Skye rebelled against the Imperial occupation, the base was where the Imperial governor made a last ditch effort to crush the rebellion. He planned to take the base and use it to mount a counter-attack” She paused “Instead Sho-Sa Kren got there first and locked the doors. Reigan got there and found himself out of options just in time for the forth Skye rangers to drop on the rear of his forces”
“It was worse than you think. Three days before Reigan ordered the township of Hatchiman levelled. Four hundred men, women and children murdered as an example. Most of the Forth Skye Rangers came from Hatchiman, so many of them lost family” Jenna shook her head “The Forth left no-one alive. They even executed the wounded and non-combatants. After the liberation, the Forth were hailed as heroes and the reality of the event was swept under the carpet, exchanged for a fiction that had Reigan killing his own men to prevent their capture or surrender”
“I guess it really is true that history is written by the winners” Alya winced. “So why are they pulling back to this base?”
“Well, Python Base as it’s called has a fully equipped command centre although the techs a few decades old, it might be enough to organise with” Jenna paused to think “Also I’ve never been but there are rumours of a storage facility under the base. Supposedly it’s filled with hundreds of star-fighters, walkers, mobile armour, artillery and even some experimental tech the Imps were working on”
“If the rumours are true, we might be able to use all that to mount a counter-offensive” Alya said thoughtfully.
The two hovercraft moved into the valley and approached the imposing structure of Python base. Alya shuffled nervously as two maser turbo-laser turrets moved to follow the two hovercraft. As they approached the main doors they swung open and admitted the two vehicles.
Alya moved her craft to an area indicated while Baird did likewise with his. Before Baird had even begun to shut down his crafts engines Corran Horn emerged from the wrecked gunnery pod with the horrifically burned form of Cassandra Yoritomo cradled in his arms
“I need help over here,” He shouted
Almost immediately a medical team intercepted him with a gurney and he laid Yoritomo down on it with a gentleness that proved he was a Jedi though and though.
Alya sighed and turned to Jenna “Hey kid, lets go check on your dad”
Alya and Jenna, with Corran, Face, Halley and Jan Bal in tow found Deven Tarn in the command centre of Python Base. They’d found out that the Ravenholm force had arrived only a few minutes before they had and had immediately been directed the command centre.
They found him in conference around a holo-table with Queen Marthe and Trinity Tarn, Jenna’s Grand-mother and Mother respectively, Adam Steiner, General Shin Yodama, Soria Onasi, Chu-I Kren.
Also with them were a Skye General Jenna identified as Carlos Comancho, a heavy-set tanned man and the Forth Skye Rangers commander who preferred the title of Don Carlos and finally a skinny little man with a receding hairline, a pair of garish purple tinted sunglasses and a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. When Alya asked for the last mans identity Jenna could only shrug.
As they approached Deven looked up and grinned, then promptly did a double take when he saw who accompanied Jenna and Alya. He said a few words to those with him then quickly came around the holo-table. He saluted Alya and hugged Jenna, who then quickly moved to do likewise with her mother. Deven then moved to stand before Corran and the others.
“You know if Alya had actually called ahead about whom she was bringing, I wouldn’t have believed her” He grinned, then pulled Corran into a bear hug. The elder Jedi took it in his stride.
“Face, I’m not surprise by your presence” Deven shook his head.
“Am I that predictable?” Face grinned
Deven turned to Jan “Hello Jan” He said simply
“Hello Son” Jan answered, “I think we should talk later”
“Son!” Halley muttered, “Didn’t see that one coming”
Deven then moved onto Halley whose hands were still bandaged, though the ones he had now were fresh.
“Halley good to see you, how are Tela and the kids?” Deven asked
“They’re doing great” Halley hesitated “At least I hope so. Last we heard the war was no-where near Lianna. But that was a week ago”
“War?” Don Carlo cut in “Then what’s happening here is happening elsewhere?”
Face nodded “We’ve lost contact with the entire rim from Toprawa to Naboo. The holo-nets down. Last we heard before leaving Coruscant was news of massive co-ordinated strikes against major Republic worlds and facilities”
“Sithspit” Someone muttered.
Deven scratched his head before turning to a commtech “Anything from the fleet?”
“Negative. Best I can get is an Imperial transmission stating that our guys still hold the shipyard. But I can’t raise any of our ships. Some sort of dedicated jamming”
“Then we’re on our own” Don Carlo nodded
“To do what?” Kren asked, “Much as I want to fight the Imperials, we just don’t have the firepower. We have four full wings of pilots, but no-one to lead them or the fighters for them to pilot” The Feeorin shook his head “Most of our armour assets are to badly damaged to be any good. We have the men, we just don’t have the guns”
“Actually I think I can help with that” The un-named smoker grinned blowing a cloud of blue smoke out of his mouth.
“And you are?” Alya asked
“This is Howard Blaylock. The current garrison commander” Deven turned to Blaylock “So how can you help us with this?” He asked
Blaylock pulled smoke into his lungs and breathed it out before speaking.
“Let me show you” He grinned
The elevator descended into the bowels of Python base. The so-called command staff along with the six new arrivals endured the trip in silence after the first few minutes when Blaylock refused to answer questions. Of the others only Don Carlo and Queen Marthe showed any sign of knowing what Blaylock was hiding.
Eventually the car came to a stop and the doors opened onto a viewing platform that overlooked a large underground facility. The platform was large enough that one would have to move to the rail in order to see what lay below in the cavern.
“Be my guests” Blaylock grinned moving to one side to light up another cigarette.
Deven lead the others to the rail and what he saw took his breath away.
Spread out as far as he could see were the tools of an army. Row after row of star fighters occupied the front dozen rows. X-Wings, A-Wings, Y-Wings, B-Wings, and E-wings, Z-95’s, Various TIE models, at least seven clone wars era Arc-170’s, a pair of V-Wing’s from the same era and a single Eta-2 Actis Interceptor made famous by the Jedi of the Old Republic. Behind them were rows of transports and heavy lifters.
Further back were ranks of tanks, both hover and tracked, mobile artillery, AT-AT’s, AT-ST’s, AT-PT’s and AT-TE’s.
Deven stood stunned for several moments. A state echoed by those around him.
It was Trinity who broke the silence. “How?”
“Stuff left over from the Clone Wars mostly” Blaylock answered “Then the Empire came and brought their own stuff. The rest was stuff taken from pirates or what we got off the black market. This was to be our back-up if the Empire returned”
“What happened?” Face asked
“Lack of bodies” Don Carlo said “We couldn’t take troops from mainstream regiments and we are still in the process of training. Simply put, we were caught with our pants down”
“This changes everything” Deven smiled “From now on we start the fight to take back Skye”
Supreme Admiral Lon Sur strode into the Throne room of the Imperial Citadel in Nashira. The citadel had never been completed before the Empire was originally pushed from Skye and Sur was sure the building was dangerous.
It was in the tallest tower of the citadel that Darth Hades chose to make his residence.
Sur paused at the doorway and considered the situation for the moment. So far Hades had allowed Sur to run things his way and had refrained form involvement in the Skye operation so far.
Sur had a feeling things would soon change.
As he strode forwards into the darkened room he was stopped in his tracks by a voice that cut though the black. “You have news for me?” The voice of Darth Hades filled Sur’s body with dread “Or just excuses”
“My lord” Sur whispered fearfully “A pair of Rebel hovercraft escaped with the passengers of the shuttle. Our units gave chase but inflicted only minor damage”
“I see” Hades responded, “This was expected, though unwanted. And the attack on the Rebel base at Ravenholm?”
“My lord. The Rebel’s held off our forces long enough for a full evacuation of the base. When our troops entered the base, they found only vehicles too damaged for use and in addition, the corpses of the team sent to kill Deven Tarn”
“Did they succeed?”
“No my lord. Communication intercepts indicate Tarn was injured, but still capable of organising a fighting retreat”
“Then you may live a little longer” Hades said, “Tarn’s continued survival is a part of Darth Shiva’s plans. She will deal with Tarn when she arrives”
Sur’s gut turned to ice “Darth Shiva is coming here?”
“Yes” Hades seemed to sneer, “She has been most displeased by your lack of progress and will soon arrive to deal with the situation personally”
Sur could only offer a wooden nod in response.
“However” Hades continued, “You have been granted one last chance. I understand you have a lead on the location of the Rebel’s new base”
“Yes my lord. From the last known trajectory of the two hovercraft, we have projected their course to an Old Republic fortress in the Hatya desert. I have already begun the assembly of a full strike force to deal with the base”
“Good. In three days Darth Shiva will arrive. You may launch your attack at that time”
“Thank you my lord”
Three days later.
“Dad, you have to let me go” Jenna Tarn was pleading, “I’m the only one that can fly the Actis”
“How do you reckon that?” Deven asked
“It was built to specifications for a Jedi. Sure, the techs have added shields but the controls are still too responsive for a non-force user”
“That still doesn’t mean you can fly it into battle” Trinity Tarn cut in. “For Force sake, you’re twelve years old. Just because you spend a lot of time in simulators, that doesn’t mean you’re a qualified combat pilot”
“Anakin Skywalker was ten when he flew against the Trade Federation at the Battle of Naboo and he destroyed the Trade Federation Battleship” Jenna argued “And dad was ten when he first flew a Z-95”
“And I crashed it” Deven responded. He ran a hand though his hair “Look Jenna, I know you want to prove yourself, but its just too early” He reached out and put his hands on her shoulders “Just be patient, your time will come”
“I guess” Jenna said disappointedly, but Deven saw something flash though her eyes.
“Private Daniels” Deven called to a nearby trooper “Please escort my daughter to her quarters and post your-self at the door to ensure her safety”
“Yes sir” Daniels saluted “This way please highness”
As Daniels escorted Jenna down the corridor Trinity moved close to Deven and slipped her arm though his. “Was that really a good idea?” She asked him.
“Of course” Deven shook his head “There’s too much of both of us in her. If I’d ordered her to her quarters she would have simply disobeyed me. I caught the look in her eye that said ‘I’ll do what you say, for now’. The escort and guard will let her know that I’m wise to her”
Before Trinity could say anything in reply Deven’s comlink beeped. “Tarn here” He said bringing the comlink to his mouth.
“Sir, we have contact with Admiral Christifori” The voice at the other end said
“I’m on my way”
A few minutes later Deven and Trinity entered the command centre of Python Base. They quickly moved to the holo-table were apart from Blaylock, the only other people there were Queen Marthe, Corran and Shin Yodama.
Above the holo-table the image of Admiral Archer Christifori swam in and out of focus. As they approached Christifori’s image seemed to look towards them.
“Ah, General Tarn, You must be doing something right for the promotion. From what I hear you’ve been bloodied the Imperials a few times” Christifori offered a weary smile.
“Greetings Admiral” Deven offered a salute “It’s been pretty tough down here. How are you holding out up there?”
“Not too great” Christifori replied. “I’ve got twelve of my original fifteen vessels left and my fighter squadrons are down to 50 percent. Most of my ships have suffered damage to some degree and I’ve got massive casualties across the board. We still have three of the Skye Battle Masters left and we hope to have the other two ready within the hour”
“Have you managed to contact high Command yet?” Shin Yodama asked
“No, the whole holonet appears to be off-line. I sent out a pair of A-Wings four days ago to take the message manually. Only one made it to hyperspace. We’re still waiting on that” Christifori hesitated “I do have some information you might be able to make use of”
“Go ahead” Deven nodded.
“At the beginning of the week, an unknown shuttle entered the system and made for the planets capital. Intercepted transmissions indicate that it was someone of importance. Then just an hour ago another shuttle arrived in system, we would have missed it if some idiot Imperial hadn’t broadcast in the open. From what we picked up it seems the passenger was somebody named Darth Shiva, the person supposedly in command of the entire Imperial force, not just for here but everywhere else”
“Darth Shiva” Deven repeated and glanced at Corran who could only shrug “Thanks for that information Admiral, although I’m not quite sure what to make of it”
“Yeah, me neither” Christifori replied, “If a Sith Lord is involved in all this it could complicate matters, is there anyway you can get us some support?”
“I can’t give you specifics at this time Admiral” Deven replied “All I can say is that by the end of the day I’ll get you some help up there”
“Thank you” Christifori nodded “That’s all I ask for. Challenger out”
“A Sith lord” Blaylock said matter-of-factly “Certainly makes things more interesting. How does this affect your plan Tai-Sho?”
“Quite a bit” Deven grimaced “I was going to lead the force attacking the power generation facility in the citadel. But it looks like I’m going to have to go with the team slated for capturing Sur”
“I’ll go with the capture team,” Corran said
“I thought you were going to lead the star fighters?” Deven looked up.
“I think Halley would be more suitable, He is at least still qualified to pilot a fighter. I haven’t been in a cockpit in six years”
Deven thought for a second before finally nodding. “Okay, I’ll go with that. By the way what about the injured trooper that you brought back with you?”
“Cassandra Yoritomo” Corran said, “I’m afraid she didn’t make it.
“Damn” Deven mutter. He massaged his eyes with the palms of his hands “Okay, I think its time we did the final briefing”
Everybody around the holo-table nodded in agreement. It was time.
The massive auditorium was filled wall to wall with personnel. Pilots, tankers, ground-pounders, commandoes, techs and support staff crowded the briefing room, filling it with an air of anticipation.
At the centre of the auditorium Deven stood before a holo-table flanked by Shin Yodama and Carlos Camancho. Further back seated on a pedestal as if overlooking the proceedings was Queen Marthe Oslo and next to her stood Trinity and a sullen looking Jenna.
“Good morning” Deven said easily as a microphone picked up his words and broadcast them around the room. “I know that for the last too days you’ve all been preparing for what we are to be doing to day” He paused “We have just received word that a large Imperial attack force has lifted off from Nashira and will be her within two hours. Best estimates are three Acclamator class transports and at least twenty smaller transports from sentinel landing craft to AT-AT barges. They hope to catch us unprepared and under gunned. We’re going to correct them on that matter” He stopped for a second as several cheers went up around the auditorium “When the Imperials arrive they’ll find themselves facing five full wings of fighters and bombers under the command of Air Commander Kadorto”
Deven nodded to Halley who tried to slide further down in his seat to avoid the attention. “It will be their job to disable or destroy as many transports as possible to cut down on the numbers that will attack this base” Deven nodded to Howard Blaylock “Whatever gets though will be taken care of by Tai-Sa Blaylock’s Python Strikers” In response Blaylock waved his arm in the air. “While this is occurring our main assault force will hit Nashira”
The holo-table in front of Deven lit up with a representation of the capital city. “The forces of General Yodama and Tai-Sho Camancho will be landed on the outskirts and will move into the city with the intention of drawing off the defending forces” A pair of lines projected the path of both regiments though the city “In the meantime Sho-Sa Kren and his newly formed Skye Jaegers will hit the main Imperial base at Freedom Park along with a squad of Genyosha under the command of Master-Sergeant Raiko”
“Once our fighter wings have accomplished their mission Dagger and Blade wings will move to support our forces at Nashira and the remaining wings under Air Commander Kadorto will head to support our fleet in orbit”
Deven paused for a moment to allow everyone to absorb everything said so far. “Finally the rest of the Genyosha along with elements of the Royal Guard will attack the Imperial Citadel” The holo-table focused on a large three-towered structure reaching above the city. One of the towers was shorter than the others and obviously unfinished. Bridge ways connected the towers at fifty floor intervals “There we will split two ways. The Genyosha will move to knock out the main power generator in the shorter tower, meanwhile the Royal Guard along with Jedi Master Horn will move to capture the Imperial command staff and force a surrender” He looked around the room.
“Some of you may have noticed the absence of Soria Onasi and her Scout unit. Well, they, along with Garik Loran were inserted into Nashira last night. It is there job to knock out the main comm facility. That should stop the Imperials co-ordinating a defence effectively. Any questions”
An officer somewhere at the back raised a hand “What about civilian casualties sir?”
“Good question. Fortunately, the Imperials had the city cleared out almost as soon as they arrive. They shipped all the civilians out to camps 30 miles out from the city. Apart from a few stragglers that avoided the sweep squads, the only people in the city will be the Imperials and us. Anyone else?” When no one else spoke Deven nodded “I’m not going to lie, this is going to be hard and brutal. But it is probably the most important battle in history. We received information that the person in charge of the entire Imperial offensive is in Nashira. If we can capture them we can end this war. If not…at least we went out fighting”
A chorus of agreement echoed though the room.
“Well, it’s time to go to work. Report to your stations and get ready. Good luck and May the Force be with us”
Halley moved though the hanger towards the X-Wing assigned to him. As he approached he noticed techs were swarming all over his ship and those of the ships in his squadron. Halley frowned, ‘Was something wrong?’ All major work should have been done by now.
“Is something wrong chief?” Halley asked the chief tech, a female Zabrak he knew only by her name of Zuma.
“No sir” Zuma spun around trying to hide a sloppy grin. ”Just doing a little respray job”
“Let me see”
Zuma and the other techs moved aside to reveal the new addition to the paintwork. Yesterday Halley had asked for the squadrons colours changed from that of the Skye Royal Guard to that of Republic Fighter command. Now a crest adorned the ships of his squadron. A red twelve-pointed star bore the blue New Republic crest in its centre and at each of the stars points sat an X-Wing, each one flying lower left to upper right. Halley recognised the crest instantly and stared open mouthed at it.
“Well” Zuma began “We knew you were in Rogue Squadron and everything and since the last lot didn’t do the name any good, Master Horn suggested we give you the chance to redeem the name” As Halley reached out to run his fingers along the crest Zuma blocked him “Might want to wait till the paint dries first, sir”
“Yeah sure” Halley whispered “Thanks, I feel a lot better about this whole command thing now”
“My pleasure” Zuma grinned “Listen, when all this is over how about dinner?”
“Thanks for the offer” Halley replied, “But I’m married”
“Oh, well how about your friend Horn?”
“You know” Halley said, “I have no idea”
Deven stood silently as the tech checked all the connections and systems of his armour to make sure they were in working order. He looked up to see Jan Bal standing patiently nearby.
“Can you give me a minute?” Deven asked the tech
“Yes sir” The tech replied “Give me shout when you’re ready to go again”
“Need something Jan” Deven said
“Just a talk” Jan replied
“We had one” Deven said flatly
“Is this about my abandoning you?”
“No, I put that behind me. This is about you not getting contact for ten years” Deven shook his head “It would have been nice to have got to know you as my father and not the man who walked out on me when I was a kid”
“I know” Jan sighed “But my line of work prevented me from doing so”
“What is it you do anyway?” Deven asked
“It’s better that I not say” Jan replied “Understand this, I may not have contacted you. But I have been watching your career. Nothing made my prouder than the day you took command of your own unit” He offered a smile “I was expecting a fighter squadron rather than a commando squad, but you’ve built the Genyosha into a unit the Republic is proud of”
“Thanks” Deven smiled “I’ll admit, a part of me would like you out there fighting with me”
“That will be your imagination” Jan laughed “I’m ninety-three. I’d be a hindrance in a scrabble tournament, let alone a combat zone. But I’ll still be with you” He placed a finger against Deven’s chest, over his heart “In here, along with your mother, your birth-father and your siblings. We’ll all be with you” Jan sighed and turned away. “I’ll see you when you get back”
“Deven bit his lip for a few seconds “Wait…Dad”
Jan turned “Yes son?”
Deven nodded and smiled “Thank you” Jan simply nodded in return and walked away.
“Problems?” A voice said behind Deven, he spun around and came face to face with Trinity.
“No, no problems” Deven replied grinning “I guess I understand things a little more now. Did you need something?”
“Yes, I’m just letting you know I’ll be waiting for your safe return”
“I know you will” Deven smiled leaning down and planting a kiss on her lips “And I shall be looking forward to it. Where’s Jenna?” He asked over the sound of repulsor lifts powering up.
“I think she’s in her room sulking”
“I’d better say goodbye before I go”
A few minutes later they were approaching the door of Jenna’s quarters. Immediately they knew something was wrong.
“Where’s the guard?” Trinity asked
“I think I know” Deven replied running to the door and punching in the door override. Inside they found Private Daniels sleeping blissfully on the floor. A round patch was stuck to the back of his neck.
“Oh, sneaky” Trinity muttered “Tranq patch. Used by spec ops teams to render a captive unconscious as quick as possible. She is so grounded”
“Reminds me of someone” Deven grinned.
“Funny. We’ve got to stop her” Trinity pulled out a comlink “Command centre, this is Trinity Oslo Tarn. Has Rogue Squadron launched yet?”
“Yes ma’am. They just reported in”
“All twelve ma’am”
“Damn” Trinity muttered cutting the connection “We have to get her back”
“How?” Deven asked, “I don’t think she’ll listen. She’s too headstrong”
“Sithspit. I should have seen this coming. What do we do?”
“Give her our support” Deven said
Halley slowly eased the X-Wing out of the launch doors and increased throttle. As he did so it activate his comm.
“Rogue Leader clear. All Rogue’s call it in”
Rogue Three clear”
“Rogue Four, out the door”
The rest of Rogue Squadron called in and then as if trailing late.
“Rogue Two clear and on your wing lead”
Halley stiffened and looked to his portside to see an Eta-2 Actis Interceptor settling on his wing.
“Rogue Two, identify yourself on a private channel”
“This is Jenna Tarn, erm, sir”
“Jenna, You’re not supposed to be here”
“I slipped my guard”
Before Halley could respond, his R2 beeped for his attention. Halley glanced at his console, an emergency transmission from the base.
“Rogue Leader” He said switching channels.
“Rogue Lead this is Python, We have a situation,” The voice of Trinity Oslo Tarn said.
“I know I just discovered it myself. Any suggestions?”
“None that would work” A pause “Just keep her safe. I’m counting on you. Python out”
“Well” Halley said switching back to the private channel “That was your mother”
“Ah” Jenna said nervously “What did she say?”
“She said I had to keep you safe”
“Are you going to send you back?”
“Would you listen?” The silence told him what he needed “Thought not. In that case stay on my wing and follow my orders. Understood?”
“Sir, yes Sir” Jenna answered excitedly “Thank you”
“Thank me when your feet are safely on the ground again” He switched to the main channel “All wings report in”
As the chorus of acknowledgments came back Halley tried not to dwell on the thought that he might have made a mistake.
The bridge of the Acclamator Cruiser Phoenix.
Commander Jalcyn Carr stood proudly on the bridge of his ship as it cut though the clouds. On either side of the Phoenix were the two other Acclamators of his force, the ‘Apollo’ and the ‘Naginta’. In addition to these three vessels were two-dozen smaller vessels including eight massive AT-AT barges. Add to that the two full squadrons of TIE-fighters and the squadron of Scimitar Assault Bombers and Carr had a powerful force at his disposal. The only sour point of the operation was his three cruisers. Though they were suitable for the mission, they were also close to half a century in age. He would have preferred the newer Emperor class transports, but those had been assigned for the Naboo and Brentaal operations.
“Thirty minutes to landing zone” The helmsman called.
Carr nodded. Everything was going as planned.
“Sir” The sensor operator shouted “Incoming contacts. Star fighter size. Multiple classes”
Carr looked up “How many?”
“They’re flying too close together for the computer to get an accurate count. At least two full wings”
Carr winced. Intelligence had estimated that the Skye forces wouldn’t have been able to scrape a single squadron together. This was another sour point to the op.
“Ready all weapons. Have the TIE’s form up ahead of the main force. Prepare for combat. This is where the final battle of Skye begins”
(To be continued)
||All times are GMT - 6 Hours
|Watch this topic for replies
You can post new topics in this forum
You can reply to topics in this forum
You can edit your posts in this forum
You can delete your posts in this forum
You can vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
You can moderate this forum