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Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:42 am Post subject: The Final Mission: Book five: Beginning of the end.
|Six hours before the Final Battle for Skye.
Garik ‘Face’ Loran moved quietly though the sewers beneath Nashira. Behind him were Soria Onasi and her scout unit followed quickly behind. Onasi’s squad had suffered loses during the protracted fighting but she had been given the chance to draw replacements for this mission giving her a full unit.
Though the myriad of noises in the sewer would cover any sounds, the ‘Ghosts’ as they had been designated, refrained from conversation remained silent.
There had been some grumbling earlier before arrival at Nashira when their mission parameters had been changed. A message had been received from elements within Nashira that revealed Imperial troop dispositions and offered support in any upcoming actions in Nashira.
Although there was some distrust about the source, the information and the fact that it came in under the seal of the Skye Minister of Protocol alleviated some fears. Queen Marthe Oslo had assured them that the personal seal of Franklin Hesht was so ludicrously complicated that it would be impossible for the Imperials to fake it. As a result the Ghosts were required to make contact with this possible underground element, which is why they were slogging through this filthy sewer.
“Do you think our so called contact will show?” Soria Onasi asked, her voice carefully modulated to carry no further than Face.
“I’d like to confidently say yes” Face replied “But I can’t” He shook his head “The Queen assured us that the seal was authentic, but I’m not sure I want to chance things on the possibility that Hesht made the seal willingly or was tortured into do so”
“On the contrary he made it quite willingly” A voice emerged from the shadows.
Face cursed and drew his blaster from the hip holster. Behind his the rest of the Ghosts were likewise alert and readying weapons.
“Show yourself!” Face ordered
In response a man stepped from the shadows. Tall, and well muscled, he had a face that while not in the same league as Face, in his opinion, was at least well chiselled and handsome. He wore a black jumpsuit unzipped to mid-chest, revealing part of an elaborate tattoo and carried no visible weapons as far as could be seen.
“My name is Taisuke Kimura, I am a member of the Nashira Underground. I’m here to show you the way to our leader”
“Awfully trusting aren’t you?” Face asked, “We could be Imperials seeking to trap you”
“True. Except Garik loran would never side with the Imperials” Kimura smiled. “I think you real question is, can you trust me?”
One of the newly recruited Ghosts, a small diminutive Skye woman by the name of Sharon Omizuku, moved up to Face, Soria and Toyama.
“We can trust him,” Omizuki whispered.
Face frowned and looked at Omizuku curiously but something about the way she had spoken assured him. He looked at Soria who simply shrugged in response. He turned back to Kimura.
“Lead the way” Face nodded.
“Great” Kimura grinned, “Right this way”
As Kimura moved ahead Face turned to Omizuku.
“How do you know we can trust him?” He asked.
“He’s Yakuza. I saw his Irezumi” Omizuku said.
“Irezumi?” Soria frowned.
“The tattoo” Omizuku elaborated “Only the most capable Yakuza are given permission from their Oyabun to receive one”
“If he’s a Yak, how come he still has all his fingers?” Julus Dank asked incredulously.
“That just means he’s good” Omizuku grinned.
“I’ll ask again” Face said patiently “How do you know we can trust him?”
In reply Omizuku pulled her collar away from her neck enough to show the edges of a tattoo on her shoulder and throat. “I trust him, therefore he's trustworthy”
“Well, that makes sense” Face muttered as they moved to follow Kimura.
A short time later Kimura lead the Ghosts into a large underground chamber. To Face’s eye it looked like the basement of a building, most likely a tower block. Gathered in groups around the room were a mix of men and women, their ages varied across the board, some were as old as Deven’s father and a couple were probably as young as Deven’s daughter.
He saw the remains of uniforms on some of them; several of them were clearly Republic and Skye soldiers trapped in the city during the initial attacks. The people were engaged in various activities, some were cleaning weapons; others preparing explosives and others were merely sleeping.
One particular group caught Face’s eye. One man was bare-chested and seated on a chair. Though he tried to maintain a stoic air, the expression on his face suggested he wanted to scream aloud and he probably would have if his peers were not in the same room. On the left side of his chest, a black-line drawing of a dragon wound its way from shoulder to waist and around, Face surmised, to his spine. The dragon’s tail ran down the mans arm to just below his elbow.
Omizuku moved up to Face’s side. “This is the first stage of getting a tattoo in the old way, with paint and bamboo needle” She offered, “If he thinks it hurts now, wait until they go back in to give the Dragon colour and bring it to life”
Face nodded to the man who seemed to gain strength from this act for a moment “I take it he must have done something special for his, what did you call it, Oyabun to authorise such a tattoo” He frowned “What does Oyabun mean anyway?”
“Well, basically it translates as ‘Father’. Each city has a Yakuza organisation, the one here in Nashira is the Nakamura-sami and the one in Edo, the one I am a member of, is the Shimazu-sami and other cities have other groups, each of which has an Oyaban at it’s head”
“Aren’t the Yakuza criminal’s and Racketeers?” Soria asked.
“In a way” Kimura said entering the conversation “But we also provide legitimate services too. We help fund schools and provide backing for businesses as well as public safety when the police are overstretched” Kimura shrugged “In addition we provide additional troops in times of need” He nodded to Omizuku, “We Yakuza have a history that stretches just as far back as the Jedi, probably even further back. Anyway we’re here now. Loran and Onasi will come with me” He signalled to a nearby woman, “Show the rest of them where to wash and provide refreshments” The woman bowed and beckoned the rest of the Ghosts to follow, then led Soria and Face to a elegantly wood panelled wall. He pulled aside a wooden panel set in the wall and led them in. A skeletally thin old man knelt on the padded floor with a simple kimono wrapped around him. A tattoo could be seen on the area of the mans chest that was visible, yet it’s style was from a completely different era.
Kimura lead them into the room and knelt before the old man, Face and Soria caught on and did likewise.
“I beg your forgiveness for intruding upon your time. But I have brought Garik Loran and Soria Onasi before you. They are part of the unit sent to destroy the Imperial communications facility ahead of the main attack force,” Kimura said respectfully.
“The old man inclined his head in return “In the name of the Nakamura-sami, I Ryoichi Kushochi, bid you welcome to Nashira”
“We are honoured that you would be willing to assist us” Face bowed in the same respectful way Kimura had.
As way of reply Kushochi slipped his arm from his kimono and bared the left side of his body. Next to him, Face heard Soria gasp and out of the corner of his eye he saw her blush. The Dragon on the mans chest rose and fell with the old mans breathing, seemingly coming to life. Face could have sworn he could hear the rustle of scales and the scraping of the beasts talons on the old mans ribs. Even the blaster scar on the man’s stomach could not rob the design of its exquisite beauty.
The old man indicated the wound “This I got defending a hospital during the first Imperial invasion. That is why I help you, the Imperial Gaijin have no honor in their actions and do not differentiate between civilian and warrior”
“And you believe the Republic to be any better?” Face said without thinking
“I do not” Kushochi replied “But better the devil you can work with than the one you won’t”
Some time later Soria and Face were introduced to the leaders of the Nashira resistance. Kushochi was the overall leader of the group, but he left overall planning to his four lieutenants. On the far left of Kushochi was Buntaro Mayne, a one eyed yakuza who claimed a background that included serving with the rebel troops on Hoth. To Mayne’s right sat Major Dave Jewell, the highest-ranking survivor of the Second Combined Arms Regiment. On the other side of Kusochi sat Elizabeth Scott, defacto leader of the Royal Guards still trapped within the city. On Scott’s left sat the slim, balding figure of Franklin Hecht, the former minister of protocol now responsible for intelligence.
“So the beginning of the end of the Imperial invasion will begin” Mayne nodded with approval after Face and Soria had filled in what details they could about their part of the operation.
Scott nodded. “We’ve refrained from attacking the Imperials outright so far. Instead we’ve been making simple raids for supplies and carrying out reconnaissance. All of it in preparation for this day. We may be a mixture of soldiers, criminals and civilians, but we’re ready”
“I hate to be the bringer of bad tidings” Jewell cut in “But what about the Imperial fleet up there?” He gestured to the ceiling and beyond “If they bring everything they have into play, they’ll pound our fleet then move in to provide fire support for their troops”
“We have a plan that will deal with the bilk of the Imperial fleet,” Face offered “I can’t give details, but we have high hopes of success”
“Hope can be a strong thing Loran” Jewell frowned, “But will it be enough?”
“I honestly don’t know” Face replied.
Thirty minutes to Zero hour.
The Ghosts moved quietly though the deserted streets of Nashira. The population was long gone, forced out to camps some distance from the city. The mid-day sun shone down onto the streets, casting deep shadows from buildings and in alleyways. Face would have preferred to carry out this mission during the night, but unfortunately time was against them. On the plus side Face had to concede that the Empire wouldn’t be expecting a commando raid in the middle of the day.
Two hours ago resistance troops had been begun deploying throughout the city, ready to assist the Skye/Republic forces and armed with pre-arranged code words to identify themselves to arriving forces.
Two additional bodies were added to the six Ghosts in the form of Taisuke Kimura and Franklin Hesht. Kimura would be acting as guide for the squad, while Hesht would be able to help with security access. Face had initially been against Hesht joining them on the basis of his lack of combat experience. Hesht had in turn surprised him by revealing that one of his un-official duties as minister of protocol was intelligence minister and master of security. In addition he had also served twenty years within the First Skye Rangers.
Ahead of him Soria waved held a hand up for the squad to halt and then waved Face and Kimura forward to the shelter of a shop doorway. She indicated a building with a series of communication antennae on the roof. Two storm troopers stood guard outside and a squad circled the building every few minutes.
“That’s our target or I’m a Bothan” Soria whispered to her two compatriots. “Looks like a full squad on guard outside, all nice and ready to sound the alarm when we make our move”
“You have a plan I take it?” Kimura asked.
“Yeah, full frontal assault” She turned and gestured to her sniper James Powell. He nodded and along with his spotter moved off down an alleyway. “We’ll give them a few minutes to find a good spot, then we’ll move” She looked at the shop front behind them. “In here. Could you get the door please Face?”
“Sure” Face moved to the door and within seconds had the lock picked. The door swung inward and the six remaining Ghosts moved in to the shop. As they moved to take up position behind the counter, it was clear the storm troopers guarding the comm facility had yet to notice anything amiss.
Each of the Ghosts with the exception of Franklin Hesht was equipped with suppressed repeater blasters and they shouldered them in preparation of the signal from Soria.
Face shifted the repeater against his shoulder and squinted at the storm troopers through the shop window. The window hadn’t been cleaned in a long while and a thick layer of grime had built up on the inside. Although the grime effectively prevented the Imperial soldiers from seeing the scout group in the darkened shop, it also hindered the squad’s view of the storm troopers.
Face allowed himself a smile. In the holo-films before shooting the target, gunmen would always shoot out the window first and then fire. But they only did that so that the hero had time to react. Face saw no reason that they should give away their advantage when they could simply shoot the targets and break the window at the same time.
“Ready” Kimura whispered.
As if on cue the patrolling squad came around the corner and began to pass in front of the two door guards. As they passed the halfway point Soria clicked her comlink twice and one of the door guards inexplicably collapsed. Almost immediately Face and the others opened fire, the positively charged particles of energy shattered the window in their passage and cut down the storm troopers. One trooper managed to escape the storm of laser fire and made a break for the external alarm panel. Before he could reach it however, his limbs seemed to lock up and he sprawled face first on the ground with a smoking hole in the back of his head.
“Go, go, go!” Soria shouted leaping over the counter, out the window and racing across the road with the rest of the squad in pursuit. Face reached the building last and flattened himself against the wall. At a signal from Soria, Sharon Omizuku moved to the door and placed a charge on it, set the fuse then moved to Face’s side of the door.
The charge ignited with a flash and burnt away the locks. The Noghri Ravikcham was the first though the door, his heavy repeater blazing.
From somewhere inside Face could hear shouting as he charged in behind the Noghri. He found himself in a small lobby area with two doors leading off from it, three dead storm troopers and a pale-faced receptionist, who to her credit still stood behind her desk despite the obvious danger.
“Can I help you? She whispered hoarsely.
“No thanks” Face replied, “But you want to think about taking the rest of the day off”
The receptionist looked at him for a moment, and then moved from around the desk “I was planning on quitting anyway” She grinned as she headed for the door.
“Wait” Soria stopped the receptionist “How many more in the building?”
“Just three techs and four guards” The receptionist answered.
“Are you sure?” Soria continued the questions.
“Yes” The receptionist answered curtly “They took the rest of the guards for some big operation” She looked nervous “Can I go now?”
“Yes” Soria replied “But walk out slowly with your arms away from your sides. That why my sniper won’t feel obliged to pick you off”
The receptionist paled and walked woodenly to a seat next to her desk “I think I’ll stay here” She said quietly.
“Suit yourself” Soria shrugged, “Lets go. Omizuku and Dank, secure this area. The rest of you, lets go”
Face moved into the lead position of the squad as the entered the corridor leading towards the stairwell. As they reached the bottom of the stairwell a storm trooper appeared on the landing and brought his rifle up.
Without conscious thought Face triggered his own rifle and fired three shots at the trooper. The first two bolts the storm trooper in the mid-section; the third punched though the eyepiece of his helmet and took the back of his head off. Some final triggering of synapses and muscles tightened the dead troopers finger even as he slumped to the ground. The dead mans rifle fired three times. One bolt struck Face’s rifle whilst the other two splashed harmlessly against the ceiling.
“You okay?” Kimura asked as Soria and Ravikcham took up positions at the bottom of the stairwell.
“I’m fine” Face grunted throwing his ruined weapon down in disgust. “Do you think they heard us?”
“If they didn’t then this will be easy” Soria said then she winced “If they heard us and decided to knuckle down, then this could get difficult”
“So what’s new?” Face grinned producing one of his many hidden blasters and checking the charge. “Lets go”
They moved quickly up the stairwell and into another corridor running the length of the building. Face again took the lead as they progressed though the building. To their surprise, in the main communications room they found the last two storm troopers dead on the floor and two nervous looking techs holding blaster rifles. One of the techs also had an antique slug thrower in his hand. The wounds on the two troopers indicated the slug thrower was the cause of their deaths.
“What happened here?” Face asked eyeing the techs warily.
“We….we were forced to work here” One of the techs said. His nametag identified him as Willis, the other as Ying “We were employed by SkyeComm before the Imperials came and then after the invasion they kept us on to look after the equipment. When we heard shooting downstairs we figured the good guys had arrived and we made our move”
“Where is everybody?” Face asked
“They stripped the storm troopers from here to bolster some kind of assault force” Ying answered, “I don’t think they were expecting an attack”
“No” Face said, “They were expecting everyone to be busy repelling the assault” He indicated the communications equipment “We need to disable this equipment”
“Consider it done” Willis grinned as he began pulling open panels and ripping out circuit boards and power couplings, after a delay Ying began to help.
“Well” Face turned to Kimura “First part of our mission is complete”
“Not before time” Kimura nodded to the closest window. Thick black storm clouds were rolling in over the city. “Looks like we’re in for one heck of a storm”
Last edited by Deven Tarn on Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:50 am; edited 2 times in total
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2005 11:51 am Post subject:
|Halley Kadorto felt the g-forces pushing him into his seat as he whipped the X-Wing around in a tight turn. The hull of the Acclamator rushed by beneath him before cutting away to laser filled sky as he barrel rolled the fighter.
For a heartbeat the TIE Interceptor he was chasing lined up in his crosshairs and in response Halley opened fire with a sustained burst from his lasers. Most of the bolts missed high, but one bolt struck the fighter above one of its engine ports. Armour melted and ran like wax before cooling and blocking the starboard engine port.
The TIE launched into an uncontrolled corkscrew despite the pilots best efforts to deal with his unexpected situation. As the fighter spun away from his arc of fire Halley resigned himself to letting the fighter go. Suddenly a pair of laser bolts flashed over his port wing and impaled the TIE though the starboard solar panel. The solar panel disintegrated and a split second later the same two bolts punched deep into the cockpit. A flash of light illuminated the fighter from within and then the whole thing seemed to come apart.
Halley watched the debris cloud seed the sky for a moment before turning his attention to the Eta-2 Actis Interceptor pulling up on his wing.
“Good shooting Two,” He said flicking his comm over to the correct channel.
“You set him up Lead” The voice of Jenna Tarn came back giddy with excitement.
Halley shook his head. Despite being only twelve years old Jenna was flying like a pilot fresh from the academy. She had a lot of skill despite being more than a little rough around the edges. Much of Jenna’s skill was natural, the sort of ability that just couldn’t be learned easily and in addition she also had her growing abilities in the force.
Halley had served with her father Deven back in Rogue squadron years earlier, back before what had become know as the betrayal when Rogue and Wraith squadrons had been disbanded for actions they’d taken some years before.
“And now I’m leading a new Rogue squadron into battle with his daughter on my wing” Halley thought to himself, “And to think this was meant to be just a three week round trip. I wasn’t meant to be getting involved in a war”
“Hey lead” Jenna’s voice cut in “Primary-C is on its way out”
Halley brought his fighter around to view the main part of the battle. Allied fighters swarmed around the Imperial transports inflicting damage with lasers, torpedoes and missiles. The Imperial fighters despite being heavily outnumbered were fighting a desperate defence action and had already inflicted several casualties. The centrepiece of the Imperial force were a trio of vintage Acclamator cruisers. Halley had designated them as Primary targets A, B and C.
Even now the cruiser designated Primary-C was showing heavy damage from multiple strafing runs and warhead strikes. As he watched a pair of Clone-Wars era ARC-170’s and a Y-Wing almost as elderly spun in at the cruiser and dumped a salvo of torpedoes into the ships already ravaged hull. The torpedoes smashed deep into the vessel before they exploded with enough force to launch a Thrawn class hover tank clean though the hull. Seconds later the aging vessel shuddered and began to lose altitude quickly.
As the ship fell from the sky surrounding vessels scrambled to get out the way of the rapidly descending ship. Several crewmembers foolishly tried to launch escape pods, but the escape pods were an older model dependent upon descent chutes opened immediately after atmospheric entry. Unfortunately the escape pods were too low for the chutes to open adequately. All those crewmen had bought themselves were a few more seconds of life.
The acclamator struck the plains on its port side travelling at little more than 150kph. Armour buckled and shattered, internal supports twisted and speared though bulkheads, equipment and crewmen with equal force. As the rest of the ship came down something inside exploded, Halley didn’t know what it was, but the single blast was enough to set off a chain reaction of explosions that tore the remains of the Acclamtor apart.
“Enemy fighter support is gone,” Jenna said.
Halley grinned. He wasn’t sure how it had happened but Jenna had got herself positioned as his second in command showing both a good sense of how the battle was progressing and an ability to match his manoeuvres every step of the way. Normally a pilot showing such abilities would be given a greater role within the battle but Halley wasn’t quite ready too give a twelve year old quite that much leeway.
“How are we doing overall?” Halley asked glancing at his screens. A simple glance told him what he needed, but he figured Jenna would be happier giving him the relevant data.
“Almost half of the Imperial transports have been destroyed, of the rest thirty percent have taken light to medium damage” Jenna spoke briskly and calmly, “All enemy fighter cover has been destroyed. In return we have lost seven ships, of those we have four emergency beacons and I have already directed a rescue craft to check them out”
Halley nodded. Jenna sounded very much the professional pilot with her report. Unfortunately she ruined it with her next words.
“So how was that?” She said with a tone that allowed Halley to imagine a sloppy grin on the girls face.
“Very professional sounding” Halley said trying not to sound exasperated.
Halley rolled his eyes. “How long till they reach their projected landing zone?”
“Good” Halley switched his comm system to the command frequency “All pilots listen up. Concentrate fire on Primary-A. Once it goes down return to base for arm and refuel and then Hero, Wolf and Wolverine wings will launch for space to support the fleet and Dagger and Blade wings will proceed to reinforce our forces at Nashira”
“We’re not going to take out the Imps when they’ve grounded?” Rogue seven, a Devoranian pilot called Zabal asked
“Negative” Halley replied, “We’re on a tight schedule. This whole plan is dependent upon us carrying out our roles. The Python Strikers will handle whatever Imperial forces make it down. Now lets do our jobs”
Jalcyn Carr shook with barely controlled rage. Almost half of his assault force was spread across the planets surface over the last three kilometres. In addition he’d lost the Apollo AND his two squadrons of TIE fighters to the attacking star fighters.
“Sir!” His sensor operator shouted, “The Naginta is taking heavy damage”
Carr turned to look out the view port at his other remaining Acclamator. The cruiser was belching fire out of multiple hull breaches and even as Carr watched a torpedo impacted against the hull of the cruiser.
Carr spun to his communications officer “Tell Captain Taggart to begin landing procedures immediately, in fact, pass the message to all remaining ships and begin landing procedures ourselves. Inform General Veers to ready his troops. The sooner we offload all ground forces the better”
“They’re going down,” Halley muttered as he fired his last two torpedoes at the Imperial vessel. Off to his port side Jenna added a single concussion missile. The cruiser was bleeding fire from over a dozen places and return fire was becoming increasingly sporadic.
“Looks like they decided to land now rather than risk losing any more of the assault force” Jenna added. “Must be somebody in charge is finally thinking”
Halley nodded. The Imperial commander was showing some sense at last, although if the commander had shown any worth, he would have landed his force much sooner. The fact he had allowed his force to be decimated so badly indicated the fleet commander was not the ground force commander.
Halley could just imagine the arguments that were probably occurring between the two Imperial commanders.
“Whatever distracts them helps us,” Halley thought.
“They’re she goes” Someone called out.
Halley brought his fighter around in time to see the already damaged cruiser succumb to gravity. It’s descent was far more controlled that the one that had brought the death of the first Acclamator, but was still far faster than was safe.
The ventral surface of the cruiser lit up as its landing jets were fired at full thrust in a desperate attempt to slow the vessels drop. The attempt was almost successful. The landing legs of the cruiser absorbed the initial impact, but where unable to fully compensate for the cruisers velocity. Hydraulics built into the legs ruptured and burst and in one case the forward starboard leg broke free and drove it’s way though the ship.
The vessels hull split and spilled its contents free. A number of small explosions occurred, but none were of sufficient destructive power to ignite a chain reaction in the vessel. A short distance away the last Acclamatar landed safely with the remaining smaller ships landing around them.
Halley nodded. “That’s it people. We’ve got thirty minutes to return to base and rearm. So lets move it”
General Ricard Veers silently cursed Jalcyn Carr, his name, his ancestors and his genetic heritage. Because of Carr’s bumbling Veer’s force had been heavily reduced in number and firepower.
Some vehicles and equipment could be retrieved from the Naginta but it would take hours to free all but the lightest of vehicles. The loss of the Apollo was keenly felt, that vessel had carried the majority of his artillery.
What remained of his forces quickly disembarked from their transports and began forming up in a force that was woefully small compared to its pre-launch numbers. Veers himself rode I the cockpit of one of the remaining seven AT-AT’s. The Rebel fighters had expressed an obvious delight in targeting the unarmed transports bearing the massive walkers. Veer’s looked up at the Rebel fighters as they turned away and headed in the direction of the confirmed Rebel base.
“Why are they running sir?” One the pilots asked
“They’re not running” Veer’s scowled, “They’ve done their duty. Now they’ll leave us to the ground forces. Signal the forces. Move out”
Corran Horn felt the deck of the gunship buck under his feet and not for the first time wished nature could be a little more predictable. Rain hammered in though the open hatch with a ferocious strength. A flash lit up the inside of gunship as a bolt of lightning split the sky, its forked tendrils seemed to reach out for the skyscrapers of Nashira. From where he stood Corran could see the vague outline of another gunship flying in formation with them.
“Four minutes to the LZ” The pilot shouted above the din of the storm.
Corran nodded and turned to Tai-i Ezekiel Crow, the captain in command of the Royal guard. Crow nodded in return and turned to face the men and women of his unit.
“Listen up boys and girls” Crow said, “In just three minutes we’ll be leaving this bucket and going toe-to-toe with the Imps. Make one last check of your gear and get ready because we only have one chance at this” He smiled for a moment, “I’m not going to bore you with speeches about how you’ll all be heroes if we pull this off, In my book you’re already heroes. All I’m asking is you go out there and make me proud”
The comm system crackled to life “This is Omega-Three. We are taking fire from anti-air positions. Repeat, this is Omega-Three. We are taking ground fire”
Corran glanced out of the hatchway just in time to see the gunship he’d seen earlier take a near miss. The deck under his feet trembled as a near miss passed close by his gunship.
“How long till we’re down?” Corran asked the pilot.
“Thirty seconds sir”
“Omega-Four is hit!” A voice tinged with panic cried out across the comms.
“Force help them,” The pilot whispered, her face pale.
Corran followed her gaze already ready knowing what he’d see, having felt the effects though the force. Omega-Four was cutting a blazing trail across the sky, fire filling the cockpit and crew compartment. The stricken gunship rolled over and began a slow plummet to the cityscape below. Before it got there a laser bolt struck the burning transport and reduced it to its component parts.
For a moment the inside of the gunship and the comms were silent, thirty members of the Royal guard had just died. Anti-aircraft fire continued to stab up from below but nothing came close.
Eventually Corran broke the silence.
“Take us down,” He whispered harshly.
Tai-sho Jose Carlos Domingo Camancho y DeBaca, Diaz y Edwards –to give him his full name- was not a strategic genius, nor a tactical one. His name would not be spoken in the same breath as Wedge Antilles or Ackbar.
But he was absolutely brilliant at keeping his regiment –the Fourth Skye Rangers- alive and intact. He also had a seasoned knife fighter’s unerring instinct for where a cut would draw the most blood, kill the most nerves or sever the most tendons.
Don Carlos -as he preferred to be known- settled into his command position within the massive one hundred ton Demolisher he commanded his regiment from. Don Carlos had under him a mixture of tanks, artillery, scout vehicles, and infantry. He had no walkers in the regiment, Don Carlos thought walkers to be lower than walking into battle naked. They were also a symbol of Imperial might that nobody within the Fourth Rangers would use, not since Hatchiman.
Don Carlos himself wasn’t the image of a typical regimental commander either. He was of average height, but much of his bulk was around his waist. He knew he wasn’t poster material, but he didn’t care. He was in this world to do a job and by the force he was going to do it.
Even though the thick armour plating of the tank Don Carlos could hear the hammer blows of the rain on the outside. The storm hanging above Nashira would complicate matters by decreasing visual range and dissipating laser bolts. On the plus side that worked both ways. Hopefully they could use the storm as cover to get as deep onto the city as possible before the Imperials caught on.
He nodded to his communications officer who gave the proceed signal to the rest of the regiment. Underneath him the massive engine of the Demolisher shuddered to life and the tracked tank began to move.
Today the Fourth Skye Rangers would wash the streets of Nashira in Imperial Blood.
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 3:27 pm Post subject:
|Deven Tarn flexed his legs as he dropped from the gunship to the roof of the tower that made up one third of the Imperial citadel. His power armour protected him from the rain and kept him warm despite the cold. Though rain clouded his visual display he was unconcerned, his Atlas amour had enough sensors to fill in for his eyes.
Underneath his helmet Deven could feel a particular area of his scalp begin to itch. Years ago on a small planet called Sekar IV Deven had suffered a run in with a stampede of large quadrupeds, during which he’d suffered a viscous head injury. For a few weeks afterwards -even after they’d left Sekar IV- Deven had suffered short-term memory loss, sudden mood shifts and dizzy spells.
The only lasting sign Deven had these days was a six-inch scar that went from just above his right ear, running forward around his head to a point on his forehead. Whenever he got anxious, usually just before combat, the scar started to itch and he had an urge to scratch it. He knew the real reason was that the original surgery had been performed with what had been at hand and that the artery had been repaired with a slight kink in it, resulting in an erratic blood flow that became noticeable when he really got the blood pumping resulting in an itch.
He looked around and saw the armoured forms of Alya Ven and the other nine members of the Genyosha who accompanied him. He’d originally come to Skye with twenty-five bodies but the weeklong fighting in Ravenholm had cost him ten of his people, four were injured and out of action and the other six were KIA’s. Another four were with Raiko elsewhere in the city leaving Deven with a heavily reduced Genyosha.
Still he’d never let that stop him before.
This is Deven Tarn.
Though he has never seen himself as a brilliant pilot, an excellent warrior or an incredible Jedi, he is these things and more. Throughout his life Deven has pushed himself to his limits and beyond, driving himself to excel and prove himself.
Deven’s life has been such that it has driven him through a whirlwind of events to bring him to his point, fighting to liberate a world, not just because it is his duty, but for his family too.
Losing his father and elder brother to Imperial hunters, the death of his mother from illness, abandonment by his stepfather and the death of his sister at his own hands, all of these events have driven Deven to desire a new family of his own.
And now he has one.
A wife of twelve years and a daughter that same age, they have completed him and made him whole. They have given him new hope.
Yet, of those twelve years he has only known his wife for a few months, theirs was a whirlwind romance. And his daughter, he has only known her for less than two weeks. He didn’t even know of her existence until a month ago.
Yet, he loves them and would do everything to protect them, but even this might not be enough. Even now his daughter is flying a star fighter against the Imperials and his wife is co-ordinating the defence of a base about to come under Imperial assault.
He fears for them and fear is an aspect of the Dark Side.
The Dark Side has had an effect on Deven’s life on many occasions. Followers of the dark side claimed his father and brother, his stepfather left in order to lead those same Darksiders on a false trail, his sister fell to the Dark Side and he killed her to save her from herself. On at least one occasion he almost came to blows with another pilot during Bowman Gavin’s fling with the darkness.
Deven himself has slid perilously close to the edge on many occasions, yet he has resisted with all his strength.
But war brings with it far too many twists and turns and far too much pain and hate and in the end will his strength be enough?
Or will he fall?
Deven looked around the rooftop and decided rooftop was the wrong word. The ‘roof’ was in fact the 70th floor of the unfinished tower. Girders stretched up at the north end of the area along with a variety of construction equipment. The west end was fairly clear and had provided them with a landing zone for the two gunships.
As one the Genyosha raced across the hardened duracrete to the open stairwell that extended up around three or four more floors. Gordo Baird lead the way with his heavy blaster cannon slung under his arm and they descended the stairs to the floor below.
The Genyosha found themselves overlooking a large atrium that dominated the centre of the tower. Surrounding the open area of each floor was an expanse of unused space and empty rooms. Scattered around were various construction tools and equipment as well as temporary tables and chairs. The entire floor looked as if the workers had only been there yesterday, when in fact work on the tower had been suspended back when the Empire had retreated off planet.
A miniature rainstorm filled the atrium and Deven looked up to see the temporary plug that filled the hole in the 70th floor. Rainwater settling on the ‘roof’ seeped down though flaws in the plug then dripped from the underside.
Looking down Deven was presented with a mind-dizzying drop for over thirty floors before being presented with another plug at around the 37th. Under that plug was the generator, the main target of Deven’s Alpha and Beta teams.
With a gesture he directed Alya to lead Beta team to the East stairwell, while he would lead Alpha team down the same stairwell they had come down by. They had descended three floors before Deven developed a deep sense of foreboding. As they emerged onto the 66th Deven waved for his squad to stop and across the atrium gestured for Beta to do likewise.
Relaxing Deven reached out with the force and tried to find anybody or anything below them and found nothing. Either the Empire had failed to post defenders on the generator or….
“Ysalamiri” Deven muttered, “Somebody is playing cute”
For a moment Deven considered his options before waving Alya and Beta team to join him and Alpha. As they arrived Deven crack the seal on his helmet and raised his visor so he could speak unimpeded, around him the others did likewise.
“We have a problem” He said, “I just did a force probe and I believe we are heading towards a possible trap”
“You can sense them waiting?” Alya asked.
“No, all I can sense is a void, which means Ysalamiri”
“No offence boss” Aaron Sortek, a young man from Naboo grinned, “But we’ve never really counted on your force abilities all that much before now”
“That’s not his point kid” Gordo Baird cut in, “If we’re walking into a trap geared for power-armoured Jedi, then it means trouble for us power-armoured non-Jedi”
“Exactly” Deven nodded, “From this point on I want everybody awake and alert. On each floor everybody is to make full checks of each floor, all scanning modes, not just thermal. The last thing I want is for us to get iced because we missed some guy in super cooled armour”
A chorus of acknowledgements sounded before being cut off by the hissing of helmet seals relocking. Quickly the too squads moved back to their assigned stairwells and progressed down, one floor at a time.
Aaron Sortek was getting restless and edgy. Though they progressed past each floor quickly they had yet to encounter anything remotely suspicious. They were now on the 43rd floor and it looked exactly the same as the previous twenty-seven floors.
As he stepped out of the stairwell on the 43rd Aaron caught a shape on his thermal view, but immediately lost it when in his haste to focus on the object he accidentally triggered the suits magscan unit. Cursing he switched back to thermal view and was alarmed to see the shape moving towards him before stopping at his feet. Finally his brain caught up and resolved the shape into that of a small mammal.
With an embarrassed sigh Aaron switched to normal view and saw the small face of a cat looking curiously up at him. As he looked at the cat in disgust he didn’t see the large shape that stepped out of a doorway and opened fire on him.
Deven saw the laser blast strike Aaron Sortek and throw him against the wall before he saw Sortek’s assailant. As Sortek slid down the wall he pressed a hand to his side where his blood pumped out freely, the cat that had engrossed Sortek made a run for it and Deven spun in the direction of Sortek’s assailant.
The Imperial wore a suit of power armour wildly different from anything Deven had ever seen before. Though similar to the Dark Trooper in some respects, the new Imperial armour was far more advanced. The left arm ended in the barrel of a pulse blaster, whilst the right arm ended in a vicious looking claw. The boxy shape of a five shot anti-personal rocket launcher sat over the Imperial’s right shoulder fixed to a bulky backpack unit that presumably provided additional reloads. It was clear that the armour had a heavy mass, presumably somewhere around the two-ton region. Massive shoulder guards rose on each side of the users head, which was encased in a helmet that was clearly part of the torso armour. A clear facemask allowed Deven to see the occupant of the suit as he grinned over his act of bringing down Sortek.
Without delay Deven triggered both rockets on his backpack launcher and watched as both rockets slammed into his target. Armour fragments and shrapnel showered to the floor, the Imperial staggered in his armour but didn’t go down. His armour showed only minor damage from Deven’s missile attack.
Deven swore loudly. For the Imperial to survive that sort of attack he would have to be carrying a lot of armour. Deven quickly re-estimated his guess on the armours weight to something closer to five tons.
This was not good.
Halley Kadorto once again eased his X-wing clear of the hanger at Python Base. Behind him the assembled fighters of his command –five wings worth- also launched and began to form up.
“All wings report in” He called across the comms.
A chain of responses answered him as each wing commander reported his or her commands readiness. Halley half listened as he appraised the situation being depicted on his scopes. In orbit the Imperial fleet was slowly moving to crush the far smaller Republic and Skye fleet as it retreated before the Imperial juggernaut. The Imperial’s were becoming spread out as they raced to be the first to enter battle, a battle that was distinctly one-sided.
“Not for long” Halley muttered to himself. Activating his mike, he spoke the next words out loud. “Dagger and Blade Wings proceed to Nashira and support our forces. Word is there’s a major storm brewing there so watch your flying”
The commanders of Blade and Dagger responded and led their forces off towards the far off city and the heavy fighting that would soon be erupting there.
“Hero, Wolf and Wolverine wings, we’re heading out to orbit via the following route” He transmitted a series of co-ordinates to his three wings. He knew there would be some questions asked about the route.
Rogue Four was the one who brought the important question up. “Isn’t that route a little out of our way?” She asked, “There are quicker ways to orbit that offer a far better tactical advantage”
Halley nodded. Rogue four –a young woman by the name of Malvina and a native of Skye- had a point. But the plan called for such a roundabout route.
“Relax Four,” He said, “All will become clear soon” He switched to a different frequency, this one to Python Base. “Python, this is Rogue One, initiate Hell’s Fury. Repeat, initiate Hell’s Fury”
The voice of Trinity Oslo Tarn came back “Copy Rogue One, Hell’s Fury is go. T-minus thirty seconds. May the Force be with you”
Admiral Archer Chritifori stood on the bridge of the Challenger and nodded at the holo-image of Trinity Oslo Tarn. “Understood Python, We’ll be ready” He turned to the crew pit. “Helm, on my mark bring us around one-hundred eighty. Guns, ready all batteries. Communications, transmit those same orders to the fleet and have them wait for my command”
As the crewmen began to carry out his orders Archer took a deep breathe. Whatever happened now, this would be the final battle”
Python Base actually dated back far farther than the Clone Wars. It had been built centuries before during Skye’s period of warring nations over seven hundred years before.
Python Base had been built as a last resort facility, a short distance away were fifty missile silos originally built to handle one-hundred-megaton Pegasus rockets. Each of the Pegasus rockets had sat un-launched in their silos for centuries until a Skye survey team stumbled across the forgotten base buried in the desert sands shortly before the Clone wars. The base had been excavated and refurbished and the Pegasus rockets disarmed and the lethal warheads transported into space and buried on Skye’s most distant moon of Purgatory.
After the liberation of Skye from the Imperials, the then King Ryan Oslo had ordered that a weapon be developed that could stop an imperial fleet from getting close to Skye.
Enter Howard Blaylock. Though officially a regimental commander Blaylock was also a certified genius, he would have been a scientist if not for the fact that he had a fascination for weaponry and its uses. With an unlimited budget and a free-reign Blaylock had set to work. Over the years Blaylock had developed a number of weapons and technical gear most of which were about to get their first field tests in Nashira and the battle for Python base
But the weapon that could make or break his career was undoubtedly his most ambitious and possible greatest weapon.
Trinity Oslo Tarn turned from the holo-map and moved towards a console. As she approached an officer stood and moved to one end of the console while she moved to the other. They both opened a flap exposing a single twist switch.
She glanced at the officer “On three” Trinity said, “1…2…..3” Simultaneously the turned the switches together. A deep hum sounded within the console and a display powered up and text appeared on it.
<Provide voice verification>
“Trinity Oslo Tarn”
<Voice verification accepted>
<Provide final verification>
Trinity took a deep breath and spoke clearly “Zhe jian fang tai xiao”
<Final Verification accepted>
Trinity nodded in satisfaction. The phrase was in a language of one of the old nation states that had existed on Skye, but the nation itself had ceased to be so long ago that other than this one phrase no other trace of it existed. The phrase translated as ‘This room is too small’ and as legend would have it, was the last thing said by a warlord before his rival assassinated him and set his nation of the long road to its own destruction.
With the verification of her identity a panel opened up before Trinity and revealed a single red button. For a moment her finger hung poised over the button and then she spoke loudly and clearly.
“With this act Skye once again proclaims its freedom”
She pressed the button.
A short distance away the ground trembled and shook, then with a mighty roar fifty Pegasus rockets vomited from fifty silos. The massive rockets climbed for orbit aboard mile long columns of flame, their primitive thruster engines forcing them towards the blackness of space.
At the very edge of the planets atmosphere the first stage booster rockets detached and dropped back into the atmosphere to burn up harmlessly. Seconds later the second stage booster ignited and oriented the rockets towards the Imperial fleet.
Warning alarms aboard the Imperial vessels sounded out and commanders barked out orders for shields to be reinforced.
It was all pointless.
At a point between the opposing fleets, three kilometres short of the Imperial ships, the rockets exploded harmlessly.
Vice-Admiral Paul Moon relaxed his posture slightly as his sensor operator reported the premature detonation of the fifty surface launched rockets. Out of sheer desperation the defending Skye forces had been forced to use the antiquated weaponry in a foolish attempt to stop his fleet.
Still, he frowned, his fleet was starting to become spread out and many ship captains were reluctant to slow their pursuit of the fleeing Republic fleet. Already four of his Star-Destroyers were approaching the area where the rockets had exploded. In a few minutes his own SSD, the Smoke Jaguar would be entering that same region.
A feeling of un-ease swept over him, something wasn’t right here.
Trinity Oslo Tarn stood with her mother Queen Marthe Oslo at the holo-display showing the Imperial fleet. Already sixty-three percent of the Imperial fleet had entered the red highlighted area.
Trinity grinned and turned to her mother.
“I wish I could see the imperial commander’s face when the big surprise is revealed”
Last edited by Deven Tarn on Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:23 am Post subject:
|Maximilian Xiang paced the bridge of the Imperial Dreadnaught Ravager and practically bounced with anticipation. For a few moments during the approach of the surface launched rockets Xiang had felt a twinge of panic, but with the rockets early detonation, he and his crew were ready to destroy the Republic fleet for their resistance.
Already he’d picked out a target, a Nebulon-B Frigate his sensor operator had identified as the Rostok under the command of a Captain Sandra Barcley.
As the Imperial fleet gained on the outnumbered Skye and Republic vessels the Ravager’s sensor operator reported increased radiation levels, higher than normal but still well below safe levels. Xiang nodded, the rockets had been atomics, though the radiation levels should have been much higher, another sign of Skye military incompetence.
Glancing out of the view port Xiang noted the Star Destroyer ‘Hells Horse’ moving out ahead of his own Ravager. Xiang knew the captain –a Kael Pershaw- was a headstrong captain always willing to race headlong into battle, so his ship accelerating out ahead of the rest was no surprise.
As he watched the Hells Horse black spots danced in front of eyes and seemed to moved across the Star Destroyers hull like bizarre blobs. He rubbed his eyes and looked out again. The blobs were still there. He looked towards another ship, the Strike Cruiser ‘Blood Asp’ and the blobs were still there. Xiang glanced around his bridge. No blobs. Outside several of the blobs suddenly emitted small pinpricks of light and began to grow bigger.
A sickening feeling settled in his stomach as realisation dawned upon him.
“Evasive manoeuvres!” He shouted in near panic, “All power to shields! Brace for impact”
When Ryan Oslo had ordered the development of a weapon for use against an entire fleet Howard Blaylock had put all his skills to the task. Traditionally a fleet would be met with another fleet or even with several squadrons of star fighters and bombers. But star ships required large amounts of resources for construction and maintenance as well as a large number of crew. Star fighters and bombers cost far less in resources and crew but their size limited the amount of anti-ship weaponry they could carry.
Blaylock’s solution was a weapon that used existing equipment, facilities and required no crewmembers and only a small number of maintenance crewmen after construction.
Amongst the weaponry stored at Python base after the Clone Wars were thousands upon thousands of battle droids of various classes. The droids themselves were outdated by the time they came to Blaylock’s attention, but it wasn’t the droids themselves that he required. It was what was inside them.
Under Blaylock’s supervision techs worked night and day to pull the AI units and target acquisition software from the droids. These were then combined with IFF recognition software and programmed with data of all known star ship types in use by any government or faction.
The AI units were reprogrammed a series of simple actions and then the whole package was mounted in the centre of a large sphere half the size of a TIE cockpit and connected to sensors mounted to the outside of the shell.
The spheres themselves were built from armour melted down and layered as tightly as possible, the result was an extremely heavy armoured shell that packed a lot of punch when travelling at speed, but would shatter easily within seconds of the initial impact.
Around the inside of the sphere they placed approximately five tons of explosives, packing the material as tight as possible. The explosives were whatever they could get their hands on, missile and torpedo cores, mines, satchel charges and grenades. Finally thrusters were mounted to the shell and connected to the brain centre before the sphere was sealed. Each of the completed spheres weighed in at close to ten tons and had to be treated with the utmost care, not because they could explode -that would only happen if they were armed- but because they were heavy and ten tons of rolling sphere could do a lot of damage.
Left over from the excavation of Python Base were hundreds of Pegasus Rockets. The atomic warheads were long gone leaving only the booster sections. On Blaylock’s orders the rockets were refurbished and modified with the addition of a hollow tube that extended each rocket to double its original length. Into these tubes they placed the spheres –each of the massive rockets was big enough to hold a hundred of the spheres- and filled any free space with quick sealing foam. Finally specially designed charges were placed around the fuselage and inside the second stage booster section. The result when activated would be a spectacular explosion that would do little but provide a purely cosmetic display and crack the rockets shell to release its precious cargo. The last addition was a small amount of radioactive material in order to provide a radioactive signature.
This was Excalibur.
Unknown to the crew of the Imperial fleet the early detonation had been programmed in order to seed the space ahead of the Imperial forces with 5000 Excalibur Mines.
When the first Imperial vessel –The Star Destroyer Hells Horse- entered the range of the closest Mines sensors a transmission was sent out across the minefield on outdated radio frequencies and every single mine oriented their sensors towards the approaching vessel. Using tiny blasts of their thrusters mines began to move out of the way of the incoming vessel drifting to a position that allowed the mighty vessel to pass though none the wiser.
Using data programmed in before launch the semi-AIs of the mines knew the rest of the Imperial fleet was behind the Hells Horse and on a single signal the mines chose to remain silent for the time being.
When the massive shape of the Super Star Destroyer Smoke Jaguar entered the minefield the semi-AIs re-evaluated the situation. As the mines began to exchange data it quickly became clear that seventy-percent of the fleet was within the minefield, but positioning meant that some vessels would likely be obliterated whilst others might escape with only minor damage.
To the mines this was an acceptable outcome.
On one last final signal each and every single mine powered up their thrusters, armed their payload and burnt up their entire supply of fuel in a single mad thrust at the nearest Imperial vessel.
Maximilian Xiang staggered as numerous mines struck the Ravager, the aging dreadnaughts shields had held for only a handful of seconds before collapsing under the furious assault.
Smoke hung low in the air adding forcing Xiang to stoop just to see his bridge crew. The only illumination came from emergency signs and still working consoles. Most of the bridge consoles were little more than burnt out husks and those that worked displayed worse news with each second. Outside the view port the shattered hulk that was all that was left of the Hells Horse began to break up as internal explosions consumed it from the inside out. A single Tie Fighter hurled it self in front of one mine in a desperate attempt to prevent it hitting the Ravager, the mine simply punched though the light fighter before striking the dreadnaught somewhere aft.
As the deck shook beneath his feet Xiang thought about what sort of man could have developed a weapon capable of such devastation. His next thought was ‘why isn’t this man serving the Empire?’
“Captain!” The damage control officer gasped, holding her ribs, “All sections report major damage. All starboard weapons are offline. Sick bay reports heavy casualties. Captain we must surrender or be destroyed”
Anger welled up in Xiang “No! You stinking coward, no” Spittle flew from the corners of his mouth as he raged at the woman. “We will not surrender. If we surrender to these scum then we loss everything. We will fight as long there is a breath in my body”
“Captain, we will lose this ship and our lives if….”
Xiang silenced the officer with a backhand blow that sent her reeling into a console already slick with blood.
“If we die then we die!” Xiang screamed, “Now get back to your post or I will kill you myself”
Turning away from the white-faced officer Xiang stalked towards the sensor console to appraise the situation.
“All remaining weapons on standby, increase thrust and get us out of this mine field. If we are to die, I want to take at least one of those Republic scum with us”
Seconds later, the Ravager twisted and leaped like a gaffed fish as no fewer than seven mines struck the dreadnaught amidships. A fireball burst into the bridge from the outer corridor, and the force of the explosion pitched Xiang across the bridge.
His hurtling body struck the steel railing that ran around the bridge and folded around it like a rag doll. Xiang actually heard the dull crunch of his spine snapping in two. For a long painless second, he hung there, suspended above the deck, then he slid down to the cold hard surface. Dimly, through the shock of his injuries he was aware that his body was twisted at an entirely unnatural angle.
“I should be in pain” He marvelled. “But I can’t feel anything”
Before he could reason out this tiny mystery through the deadening shock, a mine ripped though the hull just a few meters above his head. In that timeless void known almost exclusively to accident victims, where everything seems to be suspended between the ticks of the clock, Xiang actually saw the glittering ball smash though the bridge bulkhead, decapitating a medic as he raced to help his crippled commander.
As the headless corpse dropped to the deck, the universe exploded in his face.
Admiral Archer Christifori watched his screens in sick horror as the dreadnaught labelled as ‘Ravager’ folded in on itself. Christifori hadn’t done what was going to happen –they couldn’t risk any information on a transmission- and he was stunned by the sheer devastation inflicted on the Imperial fleet. Seventy-three Imperial vessels had entered the minefield, now twenty-three remained. Of those, sixteen showed damage to some degree. Thirty-two vessels had been utterly destroyed, leaving shattered hulks drifting though space. Eighteen vessels floundered in space or moved as quickly as possible out of the minefield and away from the Republic forces.
Even the mighty SSD had suffered a large amount of damage, though it could absorb far more before facing any degree of trouble. It led a largely diminished Imperial fleet towards the Republic and Skye vessels.
Though Archer hadn’t known the full extent of the plan, he was ready for it.
“All ships execute a full one-eighty turn. All weapons are free, fire at will,” He shouted, “Lets show them how to fight”
“Sir, incoming fighters from the surface” The sensor operator Tav’ri said, “They’re ours. Three full wings”
Archer let out a sigh of relief as a ragged cheer sounded across the bridge” Deven Tarn had come though on his promise of reinforcements.
The comm officer looked up “Admiral, I’ve got a Halley Kadorto on the line. Designation Rogue One”
“Put him on” Archer moved to his own console “Rogue One, this is Challenger. I’m glad to see you”
“We’re glad to be here Challenger, we were just in time for the fireworks too” Kadorto’s voice sounded calm and even.
“Yes, it was a very spectacular display” Archer looked at his screens, “Were are you now?”
“About to hit the Imps from the flank. We’ll dump our torpedoes at the big ships, and then we’ll go for the fighters.
Archer nodded. A good plan “Good luck Rogue One”
“Thanks, the same to you Challenger. Rogue One out”
Hero, Wolf and Wolverine wings were just clearing the atmosphere when Jenna Tarn in Rogue Two spotted the Imperial fleet first.
“There they are” She said almost giddy with the excitement.
Halley took in the situation as quickly as possible. The Imperial fleet was slowly gaining on the smaller Republic fleet. The image that filled Halley’s belly with a touch of dread was the massive shape of the Super Star Destroyer in the centre of the Imperial formation.
“How can we make a difference?” Somebody blurted out. “We don’t have enough firepower to take down even a quarter of that fleet”
“Watch and learn” Halley said simply.
As if on cue the ships at the lead edge of the Imperial formation were suddenly engulfed in explosions. At least four vessels disappeared from the scopes in a heartbeat, torn apart by a rapid-fire assault of Excalibur mines. Shields glowed brightly for a few seconds before collapsing and allowing additional mines though.
In one case the engines of a strike cruiser overloaded and exploded thrusting the vessel forwards where it rammed a lancer frigate. Both vessels vanished in the ensuing explosion.
“Emperor’s Black Bones!” Somebody whispered and Halley felt inclined to agree.
By the time the last Excalibur mine exploded, huge gaps were visible in the Imperial formation. Almost every vessel remaining showed some degree of damage and at least five ships simply hung dead in space.
“R5” He called to the astromech sat in the socket of the X-wing. “Get me the commander of the Challenger”
As the R5 unit began to carry out his orders, Halley wished for a moment that he had Tranzo with him. But Tranzo was on lianna likely entertaining the children or causing havoc of some sort.
“Assuming Lianna is still there,” He thought soberly, but he shook the thought away. He couldn’t let thoughts like that distract him. He just had to trust that Tela, Jaren, Mira and, of course, Tranzo were fine.
“Rogue One, this is Challenger. I’m glad to see you” the voice of Archer Christifori came over the comms.
“We’re glad to be here Challenger, we were just in time for the fireworks too” Halley answered forcing himself to stay focused.
“Yes, it was a very spectacular display” Archer’s voice replied, “Were are you now?”
“About to hit the Imps from the flank. We’ll dump our torpedoes at the big ships, and then we’ll go for the fighters.
“Good luck Rogue One”
“Thanks, the same to you Challenger. Rogue One out” Halley switched over to the frequency that allowed him to speak to his command. “This is it people, we go in and we go in fast”
A chorus of acknowledgements sounded out as Halley led his wings into battle.
They were almost on top of the Imperial fleet before they were noticed and almost belatedly the Imperial vessels began to direct turbo-laser fire at the incoming fighters. Imperial fighters tried to re-orient themselves on the Republic and Skye fighters, but it would still be some time before they were able to engage.
Halley ignored the laser bolts passing near his fighter and instead picked out a nice big target.
“All wings, switch to torpedoes and tune to my targeting frequency. One full spread at the SSD, then break by squadrons and engage the fighters. If you get a clear shot at any Imperial ship, take it, but make sure you’re all clear first”
A near orchestra of ‘Copy Rogue Leader’s sounded out as Halley dropped his crosshairs over the image of the SSD. The few minutes it took to enter targeting range seemed like an eternity to him, but soon enough his crosshairs began to flicker red.
“All squadrons fire!” Halley shouted as he pressed down on his own trigger. As a pair of proton torpedoes launched from his fighter they were joined by numerous other torpedoes, missiles and rockets.
Halley grinned. He wouldn’t want to be on that Super Star Destroyer at this very minute.
“Vice-Admiral!” The officer shouted from the crew pit, “We have incoming torpedoes”
“How many?” Paul moon shouted moving to where he could look down on the man’s screen.
“Calculating” The officer looked over his screens with mounting panic “We have approximately one-hundred-eighty torpedoes incoming,”
Moon paled as he considered just how much damage that many torpedoes would inflict upon his prized ship. The Smoke Jaguar had already taken heavy damage from those blasted mines, add in these torpedoes and even if the ship suffered no-other damage it would be in a repair dock for a very long time.
“Shields to full!” He ordered.
“Sir, shields are still a twenty-five percent of optimal power”
Moon winced and increased his repair estimate as the port side shields lit up with the impact of numerous torpedoes. They held for only a few seconds before collapsing and allowing the remaining torpedoes to strike the hull.
Explosions racked the mighty vessel as hull plating disintegrated and shattered and even as Moon watched, a massive breach opened up in the hull and the vacuum of space pulled three crewmen from the ship.
As the explosions died down Moon felt despair as he saw the damage done to his beloved ship. The entire port side had been reduced to a mass of blackened and warped armour plates, hull breaches and exposed superstructure.
Suddenly the attacking star fighters were racing over and under his ship from port to starboard. Some of them even had the gall to fire their lasers into the Smoke Jaguar’s already ravaged hull. Though the lasers were insignificant compared to the damage down by the torpedoes, Moon felt each impact keenly.
Anger welling up inside him, Moon spun to the crew pits “Instruct all fighters to concentrate on the Republic fighters. I will personally pay a thousand credits for every enemy fighter brought down”
As the communications officer rushed to pass on the order Moon spun to the helmsman.
“Increase speed I want us engaging the Republic fleet as soon as possible. Not one of them leaves this system alive”
Halley Kadorto had been in some major battles before, but nothing he’d ever experienced before could quite match the fur ball he found himself in. Fighters from both sides darted around each other, each trying to get off the shot that would win their little battle. A Republic fighter would eliminate a TIE Fighter, and then before he could even acknowledge his victory, his own ship would be picked apart by a pair of TIE Interceptors. But for the most part it was just a case of pursuing an opponent until he made a mistake and destroying him for it.
Halley had one of those right now. The TIE Defender he was chasing was manned by a skilled pilot who had so far evaded Halley’s every attempt to destroy him. He’d destroyed the Defender’s shields quickly enough, but now the Imperial pilot wouldn’t give Halley a chance to build on his earlier success.
The Imperial pilot led Halley on a mad chase that took them round the wreckage of a dreadnaught that still bore traces of the name ‘Ravager’. As they came around the engine block of the dead ship Halley triggered his lasers and continuously cycled them in an attempt to get a hit in. Instead of obliging him with a chance to hit, the Defender twisted up and away causing Halley’s shots to go low. Halley threw his X-Wing into a roll and went in pursuit.
Coming around he found himself suddenly having to roll away to avoid a burst of laser fire. He grimaced as his R5 reported a second Defender had joined the first.
“Great” Halley muttered, “His wing mate has shown up, speaking of which, where is Jenna?” He switched to the frequency that linked him with his own wing mate “Rogue Two, where the blazes are you?”
“Coming right at you One” Jenna Tarn’s voice called back. “Erm…you may want to move out of the way”
It took a few seconds for the meaning of Jenna’s words to sink in. He looked straight ahead of him and saw the familiar shape of Jenna’s Eta-2 Actis Interceptor racing straight at him.
Straight at him!
With a curse about insane children Halley hauled back on his control yoke and pulled his fighter into a steep climb that pressed him into his seat. With barely space to spare Jenna’s fighter raced under him, lasers blazing and an explosion lit up space behind Halley for a moment.
“One down” Jenna called out, “But his pal is really cheesed off now. I think I could use some help”
“On my way” Halley said bringing the fighter around in a half-loop and dropping on the aft of the remaining defender as it pursued Jenna. Halley barely noticed that it was the same fighter he’d been chasing earlier before he triggered his lasers.
The laser bolts seemed to chainsaw though the spherical cockpit of the fighter just above the engine. The Defender seemed to falter for a moment then its upper surface lit up as the ejection system activated.
Unfortunately for the pilot the top of the cockpit didn’t release as it should have done. When it did release it drifted slowly from the fighter along with the smashed remains of a pilot’s chair and something black and floppy that used to be the pilot.
Ignoring the dead fighter Halley turned back towards the main battle as Jenna settled on his wing.
“Where were you anyway?” Halley asked her.
“You're welcome” Jenna said curtly, before she elaborated. “I was tangling with the other Defender when he brought a friend in an A-9 Interceptor to keep me busy while he raced to deal with you”
Halley nodded. For a heartbeat back then he actually thought he’d have to return to Deven and explain how his daughter had been killed.
Up ahead the battle was just as bad as it had when he’d left it. Star fighters swarmed everywhere exchanging fire when possible and twisting and turning when firing wasn’t an option. The Republic and Skye fleet had arrived and were exchanging fire with the Imperial ships. As Halley watched the Nebulon-B Frigate Rostok slipped between two Corvettes and began pounding on them with a vengeance.
Switching to the open frequency Halley began to listen for anyone who needed support. A clamour of voices from friendly fighters filled the air.
“This is Grendal Six, going in”
“Four, go evasive”
“They’re all over me! Help me…” A scream cut off that transmission.
“They got eight. She didn’t stand a chance”
“I’m still here. That was Twelve”
“This is Vapour Eagle Three. I could do with some help here”
Halley hit his comm. “This is Rogue One. Hold on Vapour Eagle Three I’m on my way”
“Thanks Rogue One” Relief filled Vapour Eagle Three’s voice.
Halley switched back to his link to Jenna. “Ok, Two follow me in”
Halley led Jenna into the fur ball and towards a B-Wing under attack by a pair of TIE-Interceptors.
“Two, you take left, I’ll take right” Halley said.
Halley dropped his crosshairs over the right hand fighter and triggered a quad burst. The Interceptor pulled up away from the B-Wing and ran straight into the quaded lasers. The Transparisteel of the view port exploded into crystalline fragments and ricocheted around the inside of the cockpit. The Interceptor, now devoid of control, headed out on a straight ballistic flight that would eventually have it strike Skye’s atmosphere.
Off to Halley’s left Jenna fired her twined lasers at the remaining interceptor. Her blasts struck the fighter where the solar panel connected to the cockpit. The connecting spar sheered away and the solar panel swung around and sliced into the cockpit. As the Imperial fighter drifted away the two Rogues settled in on either side of the B-Wing.
“Thanks guys” The relieved voice of Vapour Eagle Three came over the comms.
“No problem V.E.3. We were in the neighbourhood,” Halley said with a grin. He began searching his scanners for anywhere else he could help, but the twittering of his R5 distracted him. He looked at the screen translating the R5’s noises.
“Energy surge? What are you taking about?”
Before the R5 could reply Halley’s question was answered. A TIE-Phantom appeared from no-where as it dropped its cloak.
“It’s coming right at me!” The B-Wing pilot screamed.
Halley opened up with his lasers and tried to stop the Phantom on its run at the sluggish bomber, but the Phantom had the element of surprise on its side. The Phantom fired its lasers at the B-Wing, hitting the bombers main fuselage and setting off it’s remaining torpedoes. The B-Wing disintegrated in a fiery conflagration, the pilot of Vapour Eagle Three never made another sound.
Out of rage Halley swung his fighter around and opened fire, but the Imperial ship triggered it’s cloaking device and vanished from view. Halley continued to fire at the same spot for a few seconds in the hope of hitting it.
“Thirty-degrees higher” Jenna shouted.
Without questioning Jenna, Halley wrenched his fighter up and fired again at the area Jenna had called. A second later she added her own fire to his own and another second after that a pair of A-Wings from Linebacker Squadron added their fire. At first Halley thought that it was a pointless gesture then that area of space shimmered and the Phantom reappeared slowly tumbling, a hole where its cockpit should have been.
“Splash” Jenna called.
“Like hell!” Linebacker Ten countered. “No offence, rookie, but you get no-joy on that one. That kill was mine”
“You’re both buying me a round on my kill” Linebacker nine said.
Halley cut into the conversation “It was vapour Eagle Three’s kill” He said simply.
Last edited by Deven Tarn on Tue Oct 11, 2005 12:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 1:49 pm Post subject:
General Shin Yodama commanding officer of the Republic’s 30th Armoured Division sat in the command chair within his Champion XT battle tank and silently offered a silent prayer of thanks, both to the horrendous storm beating down on the battle zone and to the skills of the infiltration team.
The infiltrators and the storm had conspired through their actions to hamper the Empire’s response to the assault on Nashira. Shin’s forces had penetrated a good distance into the city before the Empire had brought units into position.
In fact, the first Imperial units had just arrived. A pair of 25ton J.Edgar scout hovercraft emerged onto the intersection of the highway the 30th were using.
The two hovercraft slid sideways across the highway allowing their forward mounted missile launchers to keep Yodama’s forces within their forward arc. A fact they made use of, unleashing a salvo of thirty missiles each along with several burst from their laser cannons. The tank shook under the barrage of missiles and laser fire, but emerged with only minor armour damage and some carbon scoring. Shin smiled to himself, between them the hovercraft weighed barely 50tons, his own Champion XT weighed in at a mammoth 95tons, and was armed with a rack of eight medium class lasers and a single heavy blaster cannon.
“Target the leftmost J.Edger,” He ordered his gunner, “Medium lasers only”
The turret emitted a whine as the gunner rotated it to follow the target hovercraft. As soon as the gunner felt he had a good firing solution he let loose with the lasers cycling them in order to keep up and constant barrage. Yodama felt sweat roll down his face as the heat build up from the lasers caused the temperature in the tank to increase. Fans kicked into action to draw away the heat build up caused by the action of firing all eight lasers so close together. It was a flaw in the design of the Champion XT that Shin was willing to tolerate in exchange for the sheer firepower and durability the massive tank offered.
Especially when the results were so effective.
The first three laser bolts missed the target, but served to panic the pilot who tried to escape and thoughtfully presented the larger profile of his hovercraft to the remaining shots. All five punched through the skirt of the hovercraft and shredded the fan providing the air that kept the hovercraft aloft. The J.Edger came down hard on its leading edge and flipped up and over, coming down hard on its roof. A split second later its remaining missile ammunition lit off and kicked the hovercraft back into the air and filling the cockpit with survivors.
Shin allowed himself a tight smile, hovercraft might have some advantages or repulsor-lift vehicles, but they had just as many weaknesses.
A far lighter 25ton Scorpion tank rolled up on the left, looking like a toy next to the massive Champion, and fired its single blaster cannon at the remaining J.Edger. The blaster disintegrated the rear propeller of the hovercraft and suddenly lacking forward motion, the crew did the only thing they could think of. They popped the cockpit hatches and scrambled out to surrender.
Almost immediately a pair of APC’s raced up and disgorged a number of Skye Royal Guard infantry who quickly took the crew prisoner. Already putting the battle to the back of his mind Shin ordered his forces to resume their journey. He barely even noticed when the massive tracks of the Champion crushed the still burning remains of the destroyed J.Edger.
Master-Sergeant Raiko field commander for the Genyosha Gamma team –unofficially known as the ‘Rabid Foxes’- ducked as the statue above his head took the full brunt of a blaster bolt and exploded into stone fragments. Debris rained down on him, but he barely noticed it within the cocoon of his power armour. Leaning around the statues pedestal Raiko fired his concussion rifle at the sheltered storm troopers including the one whose fixed heavy blaster had destroyed the statue.
The hastily erected fiberplast wall the imperial troops hid behind came apart like matchsticks and the Imperial’s were thrown to the ground. As if on cue too more of the Genyosha and three members of the Skye Jaeger’s charged in and sprayed the improvised foxhole with blaster fire.
With the destruction of the weapon emplacement the Skye and Republic troops in Freedom Park now had a clear run at the Imperial base that occupied its centre.
Raiko snorted at the sight of the base. It was one of the pre-fabricated models popular amongst the Empire. A heavy-lifter would drop the core building at the designated points and then other lifters would bring down other sections such as vehicle hangers, medi-bays, prisons and even interrogation chambers, which would then be affixed directly to the central core.
The result was a base that was cheap and easy to construct, but a shaped charge in the right place could give an attacker easy entrance.
Shifting the massive hatchet –carved from a section of AT-AT armour- strapped to the back of his left arm Raiko rose to his feet and led a charge towards the Imperial base.
The tiny little Swiftwind tore through the streets of Nashira’s commercial district at high speed. Little more than steel roll-cage with an engine, single seat, small laser, missile rack and four wheels, the Swiftwind required a brave driver.
Or an insane one.
Buck Payson wasn’t sure if he was brave, insane or a mixture of both, he just knew his duty, and that was to find and provide big juicy targets for the Forth Skye Rangers artillery units sitting on the outskirts of the city. Normally he would use a small Target Acquisition and Guidance laser for the job, but his TAG laser had been swapped out for a full rack of fifteen NARC beacons. Buck didn’t know what NARC stood for and he didn’t care as long as the beacons did what they were supposed to. The only problem was, when Buck used the first beacon he would in fact be carrying out the first test for the NARC under battlefield condition.
This obviously filled him with confidence.
Skidding around the corner onto a main boulevard he pushed the Swiftwind into a higher gear, as he did so the engine behind him roared even louder. A bug splattered its guts on the goggles he wore and would likely have distracted him had he not trained himself to ignore it like the other dozen or so splattered bugs that dotted his face. For a moment Buck allowed himself to ponder on the stupidity of bugs and wonder how much weight a simple windscreen would add to his little buggy.
As he passed the mouth of an alleyway Buck caught sight of something that caught his interest. At the next alleyway he slowed slightly in order to get a better luck.
“Score” He grinned. A pair of Thrawn Class hover tanks were slowly moving down the next street over, blissfully unaware of his presence. After checking his NARC rack was primed, Buck opened up the tiny comm system on the Swiftwind and rattled off a series of numbers –the frequency the first beacon would be transmitting on- and then he gunned the engine and raced towards the next intersection.
Major Percy Fillington ordered his tank crew to move forward down the street towards where the Forth Skye Rangers were believed to be concentrating the majority of their assault against elements of the Seventh Imperial Armoured. It was the job of Percy and his friend Sammy Quinn in the other Thrawn tank to secure a particular intersection and hold it long enough to for additional reinforcements to arrive. He was just about to order another sensor sweep when a small wire-frame vehicle emerged from a cross street and launched a single missile at Quinn’s tank. The missile struck Quinn’s tank just forward of the turret and that was it, no explosion, nothing.
Had the two tanks fired at that moment, then Buck Payson wouldn’t have stood a chance, but both tank crews were stunned at the sheer absurdity of a tiny one-man buggy thinking he had a chance against the two 75ton tanks. By the time the crews recovered Payson had already raced away and the lasers fired in haste at him did little, but blast the masonry of several buildings.
“Report!” Percy shouted to Quinn.
“No damage” His friend replied, “But…that’s strange”
“The missile looks more like a beacon than a missile. It seems to be stuck to the hull with some sort of paste”
Percy glanced at the screen showing Sammy’s tank. Quinn had popped the main hatch and was inspecting the apparently dud missile. With a sudden feeling of sickness Percy realised what it was.
“Sammy!” He screamed, “Get off the street, get under cover! It’s an artillery beacon”
Sammy hesitated in confusion before shouting orders at his crew, that hesitation cost him his life and that of his crew. As the hover tank began to reverse for the safety of an underground car park, Percy saw a massive Arrow IV missile clearing the buildings up ahead.
“Move Sammy, move!” Percy screamed in vain.
The missile struck the tank dead centre on the turret where Sammy had still been half exposed. The upper half of the tank simply ceased to exist; the lower half was slammed into the ground by the sheer force of the blast cracking tarmac and armour alike.
Before the explosion had even cleared Percy’s headset was filled a weird cry, a savage trill climaxing a coyote yips. “Trrrreeeee-ya-ha-ha!”
Another voice answered, this one with a thick accent “Presente la Super Cadena, Radio KATN!”
“—and Take Names!”
Percy felt his anger surge. These Forth Skye Rangers were gloating over the death of his friend and the crew of the tank.
“Forward!” He shouted, “Find that buggy and destroy it. I want blood!”
Don Carlos felt the 100ton Demolisher shudder as it launched a full spread of fifty missiles and seconds later he heard the double clunk of the missile rack reloading. On his screens the trio of Thrawn hover tanks and the lighter Isarrd class raced away in the hope of getting clear of the strike zone. The JES Missile carrier and the pair of AT-ST’s weren’t so lucky. The walkers and the slow moving artillery unit disappeared in a cloud of explosions that shattered windows, broke masonry and cracked the roadway. A single AT-ST leg flew from the fireball and struck one of Don Carlos’ 30ton Badger tanks, crushing armour and disabling the vehicle.
When the fireball cleared all that was left of the unlucky Imperial units was a tangle of metal that was no longer recognisable as three separate vehicles. Seeking blood, the Isarrd opened fire with its quad lasers in the misguided hope of penetrating the Demolisher’s armour. Meanwhile, the three hover tanks opened up with their duel heavy lasers, picking out lighter tanks under Don Carlos’ command. The disabled Badger disappeared in an explosion mere seconds after the crew escaped, as one of the Thrawns hit the lighter tanks missile storage units.
Before they could wreak further havoc, a pair of antique Pinto heli-bombers swooped down and dropped a number of inferno bombs on the three tanks. Liquid fire clung to the tanks and turned the crew compartments into virtual ovens.
Hatches swung open on two of the tanks as they settled to the ground and the crew scrambled out, fleeing in the nearest building. The crew of the third tank never emerged.
Don Carlos returned his attention to the little Isarrd and found that that this too was engulfed in flames, although this time the flames were from internal explosions.
“Scopes clear sir” The Demolisher’s sensor operator called out, “Whatever’s left of the Seventh Imperial is in full retreat”
“How many got away?” Don Carlos asked.
“An AT-ST, two Thrawns, an AT-PT and a round a dozen crewmen and storm troopers” The communications specialist reported.
“Prisoners?” Don Carlos asked, barely daring to consider the possibility of what he expected.
“Fifty-three assorted crewmen and storm troopers. Including four officers”
“None sir” The comm specialist winced as he caught Don Carlos’ meaning. “All prisoners are being treated as dictated in the Naboo Convention concerning the treatment of prisoners of war”
“Good” Don Carlos let out a sigh of relief. Years ago he’d been unable to stop the massacre of the Imperial forces at Python Base. Though there had been no repercussions against the regiment, Don Carlos had sworn never to allow such a thing to occur again.
He’d pensioned off many of the officers involved and transferred many of the hard cases to non-combat assignments, but the core of the regiment had still been built up with those who had been involved. He’d hoped that that the new blood he’d brought into the Forth would dilute much of the anger and anti-Imperial fanaticism that was deep into the regiment.
Fortunately his hopes had come true.
True, many of his men took pride in bringing down the imperial forces, but they didn’t do it out of sheer bloodlust.
Don Carlos looked down at the comm officer “Order the prisoners stripped of armour and weapons, then loaded onto an APC and driven to the Royal Guard outpost back at our drop zone”
“Sir?” The young man had a slight edge of confusion to it. “Why give them to the Royal guard?”
“Because it removes the temptation from our troops” Don Carlos replied.
As the order was relayed Don Carlos settled into his seat. After the liberation political wrangling had left the Regiment’s reputation untarnished, this time Don Carlos would make sure it remained untarnished through honest means.
Somewhere in Nashira.
Marty Simmons was only twelve, but already he’d been responsible for the death of three Imperial officers. After his parents had been killed two weeks ago when the Imps landed on Skye, Marty had found himself among the people of the resistance. He brought with him his grandfathers old hunting rifle, an antique weapon that used an explosion of gunpowder to propel of metal slug out of its long barrel and towards the target. After a quick demonstration the resistance leaders had made Marty a sniper and teamed him up with a grizzled old man called Gil. Gil was currently elsewhere in the city finding his own targets, but Marty had a feeling Gil would be there if he need him.
A slow rumbling caught Marty’s attention and he shifted his vision to where he could see the Imperial tank column as it turned onto the street. At its lead was a massive hover tank he thought was either a Thrawn or a Harsk, its commander stood exposed half in and out of the turret.
“Perfect” Marty thought bracing the rifle against his shoulder. As the lead tank passed a particular point on the street Marty tightened his finger on the trigger. The rifle bucked against his shoulder and before the rifles load report had finished echoing, the tank commander flopped forward across the turret, quite soundly dead.
The lead tank slammed to a halt and storm troopers ran to assist their fallen commander. One of the troopers pointed out Marty’s roof and sent a squad to investigate.
By the time they got there Marty was long gone, in search of another target, another mark on his rifle stock and another of his demons put to rest for a while.
Last edited by Deven Tarn on Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:18 am; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2005 1:07 pm Post subject:
|Supreme Admiral Lon Sur gazed out of the window of the Imperial citadel and felt his world teetering on the brink. Republic and Skye ground forces were moving into the city and cutting through the surprised Imperial defenders.
The 4th Skye Rangers had secured the Eastern commercial district and from all reports had decimated the 7th Imperial Armoured Division. Sur had ordered the 9th Imperial Armoured and the 137th Storm trooper Division to the area to prevent the 4th from progressing deeper into the city.
The base at Freedom Park was under attack from a Skye infantry division backed by a handful of light armour and –if the reports were true- a number of the accursed Genyosha. The troops that could have been used to counterattack, he’d ordered pulled back to the citadel to reinforce the four companies already there.
The Republic’s 30th Armoured Regiment had secured the Hohiro Highway on the west side of Nashira and were using it to make a solid thrust though the industrial sectors. Sur had ordered the 2nd and 31st Armoured to the junction of the Hohiro and the Tormack Highway four kilometres north of the 30th’s position.
Add to this, the two full wings of fighters due to arrive in thirty minutes, the loss of the main communications relay building and the Genyosha and Royal Guard forces that had landed on the first and third towers of the citadel and Sur was understandably anxious. He’d ordered the two wings of TIE’s he had planet side to engage the Republic fighters once they were over the city, but there was little else he could do at this point.
He glanced at the elevator that connected this room to Darth Shiva’s throne room and wondered what the punishment this time would be. Darth Shiva had arrived on planet a few days ago and other than that single meeting he had not encountered Shiva since. Not that he wanted to. Shiva was more creature than human, though clearly humanoid he had been unable to see her features due to the feature less mask she wore. The mask displayed the perfect features of a beautiful woman, but the white of its colouring contrasted darkly with the black armour she wore and the brooding darkness that rolled from her robbed the mask of any beauty. Even the form fitting quality of the armour did little to soften her image, instead creating the image of a vicious predator pacing her lair.
She didn’t even speak, instead forcing her thoughts and intentions into his mind and expecting him to act upon them. Thankfully his actual direct contact with Shiva had been minimal, and any messages had been passed to him via her fellow Sith Darth Hades.
If Sur feared Darth Shiva, then he hated Darth Hades. Since the moment he had arrived on planet, Hades had interfered with interfered with Sur’s every attempt to pacify the world. Sur had wanted to eliminate Python Base with orbital bombardment instead Hades had ordered the assembly of an assault force to take the base instead. For reasons known only to them, the two Sith required Deven Tarn alive.
Deven Tarn. The man’s name was like bile in Sur’s throat. From the very moment Sur’s forces had hit Skye, Tarn had been a constant obstacle, helping members of the Skye ruling family escape and whipping up resistance amongst the Skye people against their rightful Imperial rulers.
And know he had organised the biggest counter-assault Sur had ever seen. Two full infantry regiments, two armoured regiments, two wings of fighters coming towards Nashira, three more wings in space assisting the Republic fleet and another regiment in position to batter the remnants of Sur’s own assault force.
And as for the losses to his own forces, a full armoured regiment devastated and its survivors routing, a huge portion of the force sent to attack Python Base reduced to scrap before they were even unloaded and a massive portion of his orbital fleet destroyed or out of action. In addition, many of his ground units were operating with ever diminishing command ability because snipers kept picking off the officers.
He glanced at the elevator again. Whatever happened, his life was forfeit the moment the Sith knew of this turn of events. He’d done his best to restrict the information Shiva and Hades received, but it was only a matter of time before their vaunted Dark Side told them the facts.
Fortunately Sur had a back up plan. On the fiftieth floor-landing pad of tower two sat Sur’s personal shuttle. It had been kept at full readiness since he arrived and he’d ordered maintenance checks every two hours after Hades had arrived. Now was the time to use it.
He turned to his secretary, a Skye native named Sylvia Dwain, and waited till she focused on him before he spoke.
“Sylvia dear, if anyone requires me I will be in the Citadel command centre for the foreseeable time”
“Yes sir” Sylvia replied then returned to her filing.
Sur liked Sylvia. She was a native of Skye and had been conscripted for the job of his secretary. She wasn’t overly bright and as a result even if she overheard something important, she likely wouldn’t understand the significance. As he watched her file paperwork and twirl her blond hair in her fingers he felt a pang worry for her. She would likely die when Hades found sur was not where he was supposed to be.
“Sylvia” He said catching her attention again, “On second thoughts. Just leave a message on your desk and take the rest of day off. Find somewhere safe to be until the fighting is over”
Satisfied Sur turned around and walked though the door to the corridor outside. He was met by a burly giant of a man with an unlit cigar hanging from his mouth. Sur didn’t much care for Loren Beckett as a man, he was loud, clumsy and poorly-mannered. But he was an excellent soldier and the leader of the squad of mercenaries Sur had hired as his personal bodyguard.
Former members of long dead Imperial regiments, ‘Beckett’s Grave Walkers’ as they were known were fiercely loyal to the Empire as a whole and would only take contracts that allowed them to fight the Republic. They refused to take contracts that had them fighting other Imperials and utterly drew the line at any contract in which they fought for the Republic or its allies.
“So what’s happening?” Beckett asked as they headed down the corridor towards the room the Grave Walkers used as a barracks.
“We’re leaving” Sur replied, “Do you have a route secured?”
“Yep. Got a route mapped out and everything. Uses a lot of side corridors and maintenance passageways, but we avoid checkpoints and any scrutiny. Especially from them upstairs” Beckett shrugged “Take about an hour to get there though”
“Better than attracting attention to soon” Sur nodded. “Get your men together and let’s go”
Sylvia Dwain watched Lon Sur leave then letting out a sigh pulled off her blond wig revealing the dark tresses underneath. Opening a filing cabinet she dropped the wig in, followed by the garish jewellery she had been wearing for her disguise. Next she quickly stripped and dumped the clothes in the cabinet.
Moving quickly she reached under her desk and retrieved the sneak suit hidden there. After pulling on the garment she checked the seals were tight and pulled one pair of items from under the desk.
The first was a comm unit tuned to a pre-arranged frequency, the second was an incendiary device constructed from various chemicals and parts she’d smuggled into the building. This she placed in the cabinet with the remnants of Sylvia Dwain, making sure to place the device in the pile of clothes and other items. She set the timer for five minutes then closed the cabinet. When it detonated all evidence of Sylvia Dwain would be gone.
The woman who once was, but was never Sylvia Dwain activated the comlink and brought it to her lips. If her source was correct the transmission should reach the right people.
With a deep breath she spoke as quickly and clearly as possible. “Do not reply to this transmission. For those of you who may be interested Supreme Admiral Lon Sur is planning to escape Skye aboard a shuttle docked on the fiftieth floor-landing pad of tower two. He leaves in one hour; if you’re quick enough you should be able to catch him. Good luck”
Shutting off the comlink, the woman pulled her sneak suit’s hood over her head and secured it before moving out in the corridor.
She had an appointment to keep.
Garik ‘Face’ Loran, Soria Onasi, Taisuke Kimura and the rest of Soria’s scout unit sat in the bridal suite of the Royal Palace Hotel, eating fresh fruit brought up from the hotels kitchen and talking in quiet voices.
They’d successfully neutralised the communications facility and were now simply waiting for the liberation of Nashira. It had been the Royal family’s former Minister of Protocol Franklin Hesht, who had suggested using the hotel as a safe house.
“When will I ever get another chance?” Hesht had laughed.
Face had just bitten into a crunchy Telosian apple when his comlink beeped. All conversation stopped and everybody was immediately alert. They were only supposed to be contacted in a serious emergency. What had happened that required contact?
Cautiously Face brought up his comlink and activated it.
Almost immediately the voice of a woman emerged. “Do not reply to this transmission. For those of you who may be interested Supreme Admiral Lon Sur is planning to escape Skye aboard a shuttle docked on the fiftieth floor-landing pad of Citadel Tower Two. He leaves in one hour; if you’re quick enough you should be able to catch him. Good luck”
Face looked at the comlink in confusion. Normally he was the one that left anonymous messages, not the other way around.
“A trap?” Soria Onasi asked.
“I don’t know” Face replied. “Even if it isn’t the citadel isn’t exactly the place to be at the moment”
“But if we capture Lon Sur we have a powerful bargaining chip in our hands” Kimura cut in.
Face nodded. A Jedi would probably use the Force to analyse the situation and decide on a course of action, but he was no Jedi and all he had to fall back on were years of experience and his gut.
And his gut told him he could trust the anonymous caller.
“I don’t believe it’s a trap” Face said, “We can trust..” He gestured to the comlink, “…..Whoever that was”
“Well, I’m going” Soria said with a sigh, “I’m not about to start explaining how a Republic hero got killed because I let him go off to play with the big kids on his own”
“Count me in” Kimura said.
“And me” Sharon Omizuku added.
One by one the rest of the Ghosts added their voice and support. Finally all eyes turned to the only civilian in the room.
Franklin Hesht sighed, “You’re going to need someone who knows their way around the citadel. Lucky for you I’ve studied the maps. I’m in”
“Now we just need a way in” Soria nodded.
Face glanced out of the rain-hammered window and saw an Imperial APC trundling down the road. “Hold that thought” He grinned, “I have a cunning plan”
Private Will Jhakes sighed as he looked out of the opening for the underground garage beneath Citadel Tower Two. Outside the storm continued to beat down on the city and lightning competed with distant explosions for dominance. Will was part of the security detail for this garage. In fact, other than the two storm troopers with him, Will was the security detail. Most of the troops had been pulled from guard duty to bolster forces fighting in the city. Others had been sent up to Tower One to repel the forces that had landed on the roof led by –if the rumours were true- by a Jedi Master.
Will had never seen a Jedi before and he was disappoint that he was missing out on this opportunity. With a sigh he glance at the cargo elevator that provided access to the higher levels, he was missing all the fun.
A shadow suddenly crossed over him as an APC entered the garage momentarily blocking the light –what little there was- from the outside. Will recognised the markings as those of Major Waron’s APC. As the tracked vehicle slowed to a stop Will moved to the rear hatch to conduct the formalities, Waron would probably display his annoyance at being asked for identification, but regs were regs.
As the hatch opened Will prepared to speak loud enough to cut above Waron’s whiny tone. Before he could speak, however, an unidentified man and a Noghri leaned out of the hatchway and cut down the two storm troopers. Something pressing against the tip of his nose returned Will to slightly more important matters than the death of two storm troopers. To his surprise the most beautiful woman he had ever seen was jamming a blaster against his nose.
Faced with this sudden change of circumstances Will did the most heroic thing he could think of.
Sharon Omizuku stared at the man who had just fainted at her feet then holstered her blaster and laughed.
“If this is the level of bravery amongst the guards in this place, then this should be a walk over” She laughed before walking over to were the Noghri Ravikcham and Julus Dank were checking out the elevator.
Face and Soria climbed out of the APC and Soria shook her head.
“It worked” She said, “I can’t believe it worked”
“I love it when a plan comes together” Face grinned.
A few minutes later the entire squad was crammed into the elevator.
“What if this is a trap?” Julus Dank asked nervously.
“Well then” Face looked over his shoulder, “This will be your big chance to get away from it all”
Deven Tarn ducked as a stream of energy passed above his head. Four of the armoured Imperials had attacked his unit and they’d taken down three of them. In exchange however, Deven had lost four people.
Aaron Sortek had gone first; a swarm of anti-personnel missiles had caught the breach of his armour. The resulting blast had torn him apart.
Saricia the Quarren had gone next, a laser bolt striking her head and vaporising armour and flesh alike.
Karla Yorke and the Bothan Korsk Val’yin were both injured and out of action. Korsk with heavy internal damage after one of the Imperials stamped on his prone body, Karla with both of her legs severed below the knee.
The last Imperial was proving to be a problem, the Genyosha had expended all their rockets in destroying the other three and the weaponry they brought were rated for armour types up to and including Dark Troopers, but these new armoured suits were far beyond Dark Troopers. Still they had this last plan to fall on. Deven rose up on his feet and began charging around the 63rd floor atrium. The Imperial turned to follow track Deven and as he did he took his attention away from the doorway next to him.
Gordo Baird came charging through the doorway with his head down, screaming at the top of his lungs and slammed his armoured shoulder into the Imperials hip. Stunned by this sudden attack the Imperial fouled his next shot, the laser bolt that should have taken Deven’s head off caressed the back of his armour instead. All power in Deven’s armour failed and he suddenly flopped onto his front as the armour shut down.
Baird meanwhile continued pushing at the armoured Imperial who struggled to regain his balance. The Imperial stuck his clawed arm out to grab a wall for support, but when his flailing arm encounter only empty air, he realised what Baird intended. With a roar of triumph Baird grabbed the Imperial low on his legs and upended him over the railing to the massive drop beyond.
With a sigh of relief Baird leaned against the railing, then half-ran, half-staggered to where the others stood over Deven’s prone form.
“Can somebody get me out of this thing?” Deven’s voice emerged from within.
“Don’t get yourself worked up boss,” Alya Ven laughed.
Alya glanced out the suits power unit, which had been holed from one side to the other, then rolled Deven over onto his back. Reaching under the lip of his helmet, Alya located two hidden catches and released them, allowing her to remove the helmet. After that it was a case of finding one final switch that broke all of the suits seals. With the help of Baird she lifted the torso section over Deven’s head and threw it to one side. Deven sighed as he moved his arms again then slid out of the leg sections. Aware that he was clad only in the tight fitting body suit required to wear the armour, Deven climbed to his feet and looked around.
“Okay, lets get down to the generator and plant the explosives” He said retrieving his light saber from the suits storage pack. “Sooner we’re out of here, the better” He turned to two of his Genyosha, “Vek and Rei, get Karla and Korsk back to one of the gunships. Tell the pilots to be ready to blast off the moment the rest of us are on board”
The two Genyosha nodded and headed off to deal with their compatriots.
“And could someone find me some clothes?” Deven added.
Corran Horn allowed the force to flow through him as he brought his light saber up to deflect the blaster bolts coming at him. As the bolts impacted against the ceiling he effortlessly swept the saber back around and up into a high guard that was really more for effect than anything else in this situation.
The three storm troopers got the message and dropped their weapons, immediately choosing surrender rather than battle a Jedi Master. A number of Royal Guard troops moved passed him and restrained the storm troopers. Corran nodded and deactivated his light saber. As he did so the commander of the Royal Guard unit with him, an Ezekiel Crow, moved up alongside him.
“Master Horn” Crow said, “Do you get the feeling that this is too easy?”
“I do” Corran replied, “The defenders are few in number and are surrendering far too easily. It feels like they’re expecting us and want us to meet them”
“Or at least for you to met them” Crow said,
Corran nodded. It was beginning to look that way.
“The captain is most correct” A womans voice said from behind them. Stunned Corran and Crow along with several guardsmen spun around weapons ready to find a woman leaning casually against an open window. She wore a sneak suit with the hood drawn back to reveal an exotically beautiful face and shoulder length dark hair. Corran’s mind whirled as he tried to work out how this woman had managed to sneak up on him. Sneak suit or not, he should have sensed her through the force.
The only conclusion he could come to was that she was a force user too and had been blocking him, yet she didn’t look like any of the students to have passed through the academy.
“Who are you?” Crow asked her harshly.
“My name is unimportant” she replied, “But for your benefit, you can call me Sylvia. That identity is no longer useful, so there shouldn’t be any harm. As for who I am and who I work for, I’m a free agent currently working for a group of individuals who though they have no love for the Republic, would rather not have to deal with an Empire led by Sith”
“Are you Noz or Progressive League?” Corran asked.
“None of those either, Master Horn. And I’d stop the guessing games right now. I’m certainly not going to tell you who I work for, I get paid far to much to go blabbing”
“Alright” Corran narrowed his eyes, “Why are you here on Skye?”
“To stop the Sith of course. My employers find the Sith to be far too uncouth and bad mannered to deal with. I’m here to do my little part in bringing them down and that’s as far as I’ll answer that one” She gestured towards an elevator, “That elevator will take you down to the Sith’s lair, they set up home of the 80th floor”
“Will you come with me?” Corran asked Sylvia.
In return she rolled her eyes, “I’m sorry Master Horn, You’ve clearly mistaken my for a Jedi. Now I bid you good day” And with that she leaned back and fell out of the window.
Corran and Crow raced to the window and looked out.
“There!” Crow pointed to a figure dropping towards the ground. Suddenly a great black shape open above the figure and Corran realised she’d opened a descent chute.
“Of all the crazy…” Crow muttered, “Who in the blazes was she?”
“I don’t know” Corran replied.
Crow shook his head. “Okay, teams one and three into the elevator”
“NO!” Corran interrupted “I’m going alone” He walked to the elevator.
“Don’t go getting all hero on me Master Horn” Crow narrowed his eyes.
“No offence to your men” Corran said, “But they won’t last long against Sith. I‘m the only one that can take them”
Reluctantly Crow agreed, “Fine. Is there anything I can do?”
“If you can contact Deven Tarn, get him over here as soon as possible”
“Right” Crow managed to say before the doors closed and the elevator began to carry Corran down.
When the doors once again opened Corran found himself in an ominously dark room. The Dark Side rolled around him and made the air feel thick. Taking a deep breath Corran stepped from the elevator.
“Welcome Corran Horn” A voice came from the darkness. It was male and the owner sounded as if his vocal cords were rotting.
Corran turned in the direction of the voice and found a robed figure stood upon a raised Dais, “Who are you?” He asked.
“I am Darth Hades” A shaft of Red light emerged from a cylinder clutched in skeletal hands “And I am Death”
Joined: 20 Jun 2004
|Posted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:53 am Post subject:
|Howard Blaylock watched the approaching Imperial force with interest. They were approaching Python Base through the valley and moving with the speed of a force unwilling to risk casualties.
Blaylock nodded, a good idea considering the losses they’d taken from Kadorto’s fighters. The Imperial force, which was dominated by seven AT-AT walkers, was a hodge podge mix of tanks, speeders, AT-STs, AT-PTs and hovercraft. Some of the vehicles showed damage even though they hadn’t seen combat yet, an indication that they had been salvaged from the Acclamator that had crashed, but not blown up. In addition, a lack of enough working transports had forced a number of storm troopers to hitch rides on any vehicle that had handholds.
He glanced at a screen showing the Imperial forces progress though the valley. They were almost at the spot he’d designated Red Zone and about to enter a whole world of hurt.
He lit another cigarette and settled in to wait a few more minutes.
General Ricard Veers was just thinking that things couldn’t get any worse when everything went downhill. Thanks to the incompetence of Commander Jalcyn Carr, a considerable portion of Veers’ force had been lost in the destruction of the Apollo and a large number of his smaller transports. A number of his heavier tanks and walkers were still trapped within the wreck of the Naginta; he’d freed what he could in the time he could afford before proceeding. He looked out the forward view port of his command walker and noticed one of his Mars Assault tanks getting too far ahead.
He hit the comms. “Reaper Four, you’re getting to far ahead. Tighten it up,” He ordered.
“Copy Fury One. Tightening up” The tank slowed down slightly and was just closing up its position in the formation when it quite inexplicably blew up. The blast was concentrated under the belly of the tank and lifted the massive 100ton track tank into the air. The wreck came crashing down hard enough to crack its own hull and seconds later what was left of the tank vanished as its fuel and missile ammunition exploded.
A sickening thought occurred to him. “All stop!” He shouted, “All units stop! They’ve seeded the valley with mines”
The majority of his force managed to stop, but his warning came to late for one of his walkers.
The AT-AT designated Fury Three brought its foot down on a slight bulge in the sands. A split second later that foot disappeared in a cloud of flame and sand. As the leg came back up, Veers’ was horrified to see the entire foot assembly and a portion of the lower leg was gone. The walker wobbled dangerously and as the crew tried to regain control they tried to bring the damaged leg back down, completely aware of the full extent of the damage.
Veer’s watched in shocked silence as the AT-AT’s crew failed in their attempts to stabilise the massive walker and the towering war machine began an almost comical stuttering stagger that ended with the walker slamming chin first into the sands. For a moment Veers allowed himself to think that the crew had got off lucky, but then the AT-AT’s head exploded into a cloud of flame and shrapnel. Veers winced; the walker had landed with its cockpit right on top of another mine.
He was about to order a retreat when the sound of a double explosion came from somewhere to the rear, loud enough for him to hear even though the armour of his walker.
“What was that?” He shouted switching to the frequency that put him in contact with his rear guard.
“We’ve got enemy assets in our rear, at least four Demolishers and several smaller vehicles” The rearguard responded, “The way out back here is blocked, forward is the only way we can go”
“Unfortunately forward is out of the question too” Veers replied.
“What’s that sound?” One of the pilots asked cocking his head to the side.
Veers looked at the pilot in confusion and was about to order the man to silence when he heard it himself. A long drawn out whistling that turned his blood cold. He slammed the comms for a full broadcast to his force.
“Artillery!” He shouted, “Take cover, ta……..”
He would have said more, but the first artillery projectile struck his command walkers cockpit and completely revoked Veers’ breathing privileges.
Storm trooper 3856 ducked as an artillery round struck the Thrawn hover tank near him and smashed the armoured vehicle into scrap. He felt the tinny rattling of shrapnel bouncing from his armour competing with the ground shaking tremors as the headless corpse of Fury One finally crashed to the ground.
3856 looked around the valley and suppressed a shudder. Already the accurate artillery fire had destroyed a large number of the heavier vehicles and several of the lighter units had taken splash damage. A double explosion caught his attention and he turned in time to see the death of two more AT-AT’s. 3856 expected more artillery to be incoming, but when the only sounds he could hear were the crackling of flames and the screams of the wounded he allowed himself to think that it had stopped. Then he heard a new sound, he looked up at the valley sides and saw tanks, hovercraft, infantry and speeders forming up on the valley sides.
3856 looked around at his fellow storm troopers and curled his lip in disgust. The majority of them were cowering in terror or milling around in confusion, though a very small percentage of them were following their training to some degree.
3856 sighed, he was one of the last clones grown from vats and nearing the end of his life span, but he was a damn sight more competent than these academy cadets, some were from the lost Carida academy, they at least had some skill. The rest were from the less impressive Corvax academy and the remainder were conscripts. But 3856 was a fifth generation clone from when being a storm trooper meant something.
As the enemy troops open fire and took out two more AT-AT’s and several tanks 3856 knew he had to do something. The Imperial force was still reeling from the loss of General Veers and was struggling for competent leadership.
He activated his comlink for full broadcast. “Return fire! Zeta team, concentrate on troop formations and the lighter vehicles. Walkers, concentrate on heavy armour” A shoulder mounted rocket detonated near him, “Storm trooper teams Alpha and Beta, suppressing fire on enemy infantry, especially those with anti-armour weapons”
To their credit nobody questioned his orders. 3856 allowed himself a smile, they might just survive this.
Howard Blaylock winced as a salvo of missiles detonated against the hull of the mobile command centre he rode in. He’d actually underestimated the Imperials slightly, hoping that by trapping them and decimating their command structure that they would surrender. But some lucky Ranat down there had enough experience to pull the survivors together into an effective firing force.
As one of his Challenger XT’s exploded under a concentrated salvo, it took a pair of friendly Chariot LAV’s with it and Blaylock knew he needed to end this soon.
“Striker Seven, Striker Twelve concentrate fire on target Eta-Four” He ordered.
In response to his command a pair of Short Range Missile launchers unleashed a hellish missile storm into the centre of the Imperial formation. Under the withering assault two more Imperial tanks were destroyed and a large explosion heralded the end of the last enemy AT-AT. Finally Blaylock knew he held the upper hand.
“All units cease fire” He turned to the communications officer “Find me the frequency the Imps are using to co-ordinate”
“Yes sir” The young woman said turning several dials. A few seconds later she smiled “You’re on sir”
Blaylock donned the comm headset and flicked it on “Attention Imperial commander, this is Tai-Sa Howard Blaylock of the Python Strikers, the unit currently pounding on you. Would it be possible to speak to the current Imperial commander?”
There was a momentary pause and then a voice came on the line “This is Storm Trooper 3856, currently commanding the remnants of Imperial Assault Force Three”
Blaylock was stunned into silence for a moment. A storm trooper had rallied the Imperial troops “I’m offering you surrender Trooper. I don’t think you want to see what’s left of your force wiped out”
“We could continue fighting until only one side is left” Trooper 3856 sounded defiant.
“True” Blaylock responded “But you have a mine field ahead of you, a full battalion behind you and a steep valley on each side. I could pull my forces back and drop more artillery on you or you can surrender”
Silence answered him.
“What’s it going to be?” Blaylock asked.
3856 considered the situation even as both sides to continue exchanging fire. He didn’t want to see his entire force slaughtered, especially not the under trained troops that had no right being on a battlefield in the first place.
“Sir” Trooper 58064 said, “Whatever you decide, we’ll follow”
A chorus of agreement came over the comms, from fellow storm troopers, tank crews and even the crews of the two remaining AT-ST’s. 3856 was surprised that they were willing to do as he ordered, but then he realised most of the force commanders had been in their safe AT-AT’s and when they died their was no clear commander. When he’d rallied them and started shouting orders, they’d obeyed because they believed he could get them out of this.
“What’s your decision sir?” 58064 asked.
In answer 3856 dropped his blaster rifle, removed his helmet and pulled the comm unit from it holding it to his lips.
“Tai-sa Blaylock. We surrender” Then he switched frequencies, “All Imperial units. Power down, drop your weapons, leave your vehicles, whatever. Our fight is over for today”
All around him Imperial troops were doing as he did. Weapons were dropped, hatches were opened and crew left their vehicles.
Every single one of them surrendered on 3856’s order.
And truth be told he didn’t feel too bad about it.
Howard Blaylock sighed with relief when the Imperials began surrendering. He turned to the officer overseeing the minefield.
“Deactivate the field” As the officer moved to comply Blaylock activated the comlink again “Trooper 3856,are you still there?”
“I am” The storm trooper’s voice carried no emotion and seemed just as monotonous as it had earlier.
“I accept your surrender. The minefield has been deactivated and you may lead your troops out through it. You have my word that your men will be treated well”
“Thank you sir. Trooper 3856 out”
Blaylock deactivated the comlink and turned to the minefield control officer. “When the Imperials are clear, send a sapper down to recover the unused mines”
“That would be the one mine then, sir?” The officer couldn’t quite keep the grin from his face.
“Yes, one mine” Blaylock shook his head.
The comm officer shook her head. “I can’t believe we had a minefield with just four mines in it”
A guilty look crossing his face Blaylock laughed, “Well, we used every other mine for Excalibur and besides, it worked didn’t it?”
Master Sergeant Raiko winced as another burst of laser fire cut down two more members of the Skye Jaegers. Between the Jaegers and Raiko’s squad of Genyosha they’d successfully taken the Imperial Base in freedom Park, but they now found themselves in a reversed position.
A squad of power-armoured Imperial troops, backed up with a number of fast strike hover vehicles had mounted a counter attack on the pack and its attackers-turned-defenders. In addition the continuing storm was reducing visibility and doing its utmost best to turn the park into a muddy bog.
Somebody slammed into the wall behind him, but he didn’t flinch. Instead he turned his head slowly to identify his visitor, who he recognised instantly.
“Got any good news for me Ge?” He asked the Genyosha’s medic.
The Mon Calamarian shook his helmeted head, “Nothing that’ll make you jump with joy” He said in his gravely voice, “Closest reinforcements are too far out. Kren says he’s located the jamming unit the Imps are using, but he can’t get anyone near them”
Raiko nodded. Due to the jamming that the Imperials had put in effect, the Republic/Skye forces had to rely on messengers and hand signals to co-ordinate their efforts. But the Imperials didn’t have any such restrictions on their communications and were forcing the Jaegers to fall back further into the park.
Raiko felt on immense weight settle on his shoulders, His own squad was reduced to just four bodies, himself, Ge, the Chev Afrec and the Gotal Tuuve. Since his early days on the Corellian moon of Talus, Raiko had fought the Imperials, but even back then he’d never felt the tide of despair that threatened to overwhelm him.
A ragged cheer made its way to them from somewhere further back among the main cluster of Skye troops. Raiko was just about to shout for silence when he heard saw them.
A full squadron of fighters shot overhead. A mixed breed of I-7 Howlrunners, Z-95’s, Y-Wings, even a pair of wooden framed, propeller driven, madman piloted aircraft. All of them bore the insignia of Rapier squadron, part of Blade Wing. Raiko felt the weight lift from his shoulders, the air-support had finally arrived.
They over flew the park and over the Imperial forces with some of them scattering laser fire down onto the Imperials and then they were gone. Seconds later there was an explosion two or three blocks away and suddenly his comm channel came to life once again.
“…is Rapier-One. We thought you guys could use some help” A jaunty voice called across the comms.
“This is Rabid-Fox One. Great to see you, Rapier-One” Raiko said with some relief. “Think you could thin out those Imperials a bit?”
“Happy to oblige Rabid-One” Rapier-One replied.
Seconds later in a flurry of blaster bolts and explosions the Rapiers passed over again delivering more pain upon the Imperials. But this time when they came into Raiko’s view, he was horrified to see only half of the Rapiers remained. And of those several were trailing smoke.
“Rapier-One!” He shouted into the comms, “What happened?”
Rapier-One’s voice was full of pain when he spoke. “They had a pair of AT-AA’s hidden under an overhang. They cut my pilots to pieces. We can’t stay around. I’m sorry”
“Copy Rapier-One” Raiko said feeling the despair mounting again. He leaned around the corner of the wall he was behind.
A single power-armoured Imperial remained. Raiko took a moment to look at the armour. It was heavy looking and well armoured –it had taken four rockets to bring down the last one- and the Imperial wearing it was only visible by the clear transparisteel face plate that showed the mans grinning features. The right arm ended in the barrel of a pulse blaster and the left ended in a vicious looking claw. A rocket unit sat on the right shoulder, but in this case an earlier shot had destroyed that weapon. Raiko knew from experience that the Imperial power armour and weapons was far superior to those of the Genyosha. So far only overwhelming fire or a lucky headshot had succeeding bringing any of the Imperials down.
Raiko brought his concussion rifle up, sighted on the Imperials head and pulled the trigger.
Raiko swore and looked at the charge counter for the rifle. The weapon was drained.
Sensing blood the Imperial spun and unleashed a burst from his pulse blaster. Raiko felt fire across his left arm and then Ge was suddenly hauling him back behind safety.
He looked down at his arm and saw armour melted and peeled back exposing burnt flesh and –to his annoyance- blood spraying from an arterial hit. Ge already had his med-kit open and was working on his arm, trying to stop the flow of blood.
A short distance away Raiko could hear the screams of Jaeger infantry as the Imperial cut them down without mercy. There was only one choice left to him.
“I need to get you to a medi-bay” Ge said drawing back his attention.
“Forget it” Raiko said, “I’ll take care of this guy”
“Sir, you’re in no shape” Ge protested.
“You can’t stop the bleeding, correct?”
“I’ve slowed it down, but it just means you’ll die slower if we don’t get you somewhere better equipped”
“Negative” Raiko shook his head and unstrapped the hatchet from the back of his arm. For a moment he held the weapon is his hand, he’d machine the hatchet from armour plating from the first and only AT-AT he’d ever taken down. “The squad is yours now Captain”
“What are you planning to do?” Ge asked with resignation.
“What needs to be done” Raiko rose slowly to his feet, “Good luck Captain”
“Good luck sir”
Jasek Willard revelled in the feeling of power the ‘Emperor’ Power-Armour gave him. The armour was the pinnacle of Imperial weapons design and only the best got to use them and Jasek truly believed he was the best.
His pulse blaster blazed as he swept it left and right cutting down Skye infantry as they retreated before him. A blaster bolt struck his armour and ricocheted off into the stormy heavens. Jasek turned slightly and unleashed a flurry off bolts at the perpetrator forcing the Skye soldier back behind cover. He’d dialled down the power of his weapon to deliver far less punch in favour of a higher firing rate.
Suddenly one of those accursed Genyosha suddenly appeared charging at him wielding what appeared to be an oversized axe. Jasek spotted blood on the Republic soldiers arm and realised that this was the same one he’d fired at earlier.
“What does he think he’s doing?” Jasek thought, “All he can do is die” Then it occurred to him, “He’s going to smash my head in with that ludicrous weapon of his. Well, he’s not going to get the chance”
Jasek swung his pulse blaster in line with the Genyosha and opened fire. Armour evaporated from energy bursts, ran like liquid from the suits wounds like blood and in some cases mixed with blood.
Still the enemy kept coming, closing the distance between them.
As he continued to fire, Jasek frowned. His pulse blaster was powerful enough to blow though the Genyosha, then he realised he’d dialled down the strength in favour of increased firing rate. He swore, he had no time to reconfigure now.
The Genyosha soldier kept coming. It had already gone far beyond the point the Imperial officer would have thought possible. “Surely he must fall soon!” Jasek thought.
Smoking craters dotted the Republic solider’s armour and exposed flesh was beginning to smoke and burn.
Twenty meters short of Jasek, the Genyosha cocked the arm with the hatchet back and threw the heavy weapon. The enemy soldier then stumbled to his knees and then to his face, breathing his last in the street.
“Sithspawn!” The Imperial exclaimed as the hatchet grew larger in his sight. It was pierced and jagged from the barrage, but still a lethal projectile. “I don’t believe it” He does know how to die!”
And so did he, because a heartbeat later the hatchet smashed though the faceplate of his helmet and crushed his head into red jelly.
Corran Horn twisted to the side to avoid the shaft of red light that threatened to impale him. As he twisted he brought his own light saber up and batted the other weapon away.
Spinning away Corran came around and brought his gaze back towards the withered man before him. Darth Hades stood there clad in a dark robe that covered all but his skeletal hands. Occasionally under the hood, Corran caught sight of a black tongue sliding over thin black lips. Despite the heavy robes Hades wore he came at Corran quickly whirling his light saber in an offensive pattern so blisteringly fast Corran was hard pressed to defend.
He needed space to breathe.
As Hades rushed forwards Corran backed away blocking and deflecting the attacks aimed at him. Then as Hades lunged at him Corran deflected Hades’ light saber up and over his shoulder leaving the Sith Lords midsection open to attack, with his light saber occupied with Hades’ saber, Corran grabbed a handful of robe and spun him into a table.
Hades hit the table and flopped to the floor, his light saber flying from his hands and the hood of his robe slipped back and exposed his features.
Corran spun away and settled back into a defensive stance, but as he looked at Hades he thought down an urge to vomit. The Sith lord’s hairless head looked more like a skull with a thin layer of putrid, rotting flesh stretched over it. His flesh bore a grey sheen to it and in places was torn exposing raw flesh, muscles and in some cases, bone. A single bloodshot eye stared at him, a vast difference from the empty socket of the other side of his face. With the hood down a putrid smell of decomposition rolled off of him almost causing Corran to vomit again.
“Do I disgust you so?” Hades asked with a sneer, the simple act of which split skin and exposed blackened teeth. “This body is a mere vessel for me, when it finally succumbs I will merely use once lost arts to take a new body. Such is the way of the Dark side”
Corran shuddered. One of the big aspects of the Dark Side was a rotting of the body, as if the corruption of the soul and mind was reflected in the body. In the beginning it would merely show as show as burst blood vessels or jaundiced skin or eyes, but as the Dark Side grew stronger the body itself could begin to wither.
A Sith or Dark Jedi who used the force in subtle ways for manipulation or deceit could hold off the decay of body for years. But one who opened his or herself to the full fury of the Dark Side risked the complete decay of their body.
Few reached that point of complete body collapse because at the first sign of weakness and an apprentice or subordinate would rise up and slay them, taking their place at the top of the hierarchy.
The Emperor had shown such signs of decay, but some stories told by somebody’s friend of a friend claimed that the Emperor’s decay was in fact scarring suffered during his battle with the Jedi Master Mace Windu. Others stated that the decay had been accelerated in mere minutes when Palpatine unleashed the full fury of the Dark Side against the Jedi Master.
But such stories were unsubstantiated and based on hearsay and the drunken ramblings of bar flies and were impossible to verify in any case.
For Hades to be this fair along and still capable of independent thought, let alone fighting with a light saber, hinted greatly at his strength of mind.
For a moment Corran allowed himself to think about what Deven might have done in this situation.
“Probably made a joke about the smell or said something about beatings with an ugly stick” Corran thought, “Thank the force Alya Ven never became a Jedi, or this whole thing would probably degenerate into stand up comedy”
“Well?” Hades sneered, “Nothing to say Master Jedi? No platitudes about the Light Side? No speeches about how the Dark Side will only destroy me?” He raised his hands to point at Corran, “How about this? The Dark Side will destroy YOU!”
Corran reeled backwards as the Force Lightning from Hades’ fingertips blasted him in the chest. The blast was merely a taster of things to come and Corran managed to catch the next flurry of lightning on the blade of his saber.
And the next.
And the next.
Corran moved quickly throughout the room deflecting lightning from his saber, avoiding that he couldn’t block and never allowing Hades a good shot. After more minutes than Corran could track Hades tired of this, both physically and mentally. As Corran watched, the Sith Lord seemed to sag as if about to collapse and then as if gaining newfound strength picked up the table behind him with the Force and hurled it at Corran.
Any other Jedi could have leaped over the table or simply shoved it aside with the wave of a hand, but Corran lacked the telekinetic abilities that would allowed him to do such things. This weakness was of course made up for by a variety of other abilities strong within the Horn/Halcyon line, but energy absorption and illusions were of little help at this moment in time. Instead he ran at the table and at the last second leaped up and sideways across the table.
And nearly split his skull open on the table that followed the first. Time seemed to slow as Corran flattened himself out as much as possible, and whilst cursing him self for missing the second tables launch, passed though the narrow space between the two tables. With an awkward roll Corran hit the floor and came to his feet to find Hades had retrieved his light saber.
As he watched Corran suddenly became aware of another presence in the room, this one was darker, more malevolent than Hades, yet it seemed stronger and far more controlled than Hades.
Darth Shiva was watching.
Corran drew his hand across his forehead and found it slick with sweat. He was breathing a little heavy than normal and he became aware of aches in his muscles and joints.
“Maybe I’m getting to old for this,” He thought.
One last blaster bolt struck the storm trooper and spun him to the floor where he lay still. Deven Tarn led the Genyosha into the main power control room in Tower Three of the citadel feeling just a little self-conscious. Wearing grease stained workers overalls that were a size too large and a pair of boots that fit okay –though the left one pinched a bit- and the commset salvaged from the helmet of his armour, he thought he looked a little ludicrous leading a squad of power armoured infantry into battle. In addition, the rifle he carried was designed for use by somebody wearing power armour, so it was more than a little heavy.
To his relief they’d encountered no more of the power armoured Imperials during the descent though the tower and the only resistance came from storm troopers, hardly a threat to the Genyosha.
“Okay!” He said, “Beta team, Start planting the charges, Alpha team, take up defensive positions. I don’t want any one getting the jump on us. Alya, a word”
As the two teams moved to do their assigned tasks Deven and Alya moved to one side. Alya cracked the seal on her helmet and tipped it back.
“What’s up boss?” Alya asked in her usual easy-going way.
“Alya” Deven began, “This is probably the wrong place for this, but how would you like to have full command of the Genyosha”
“What?” Alya was stunned, “You’re not going to die on me are you?”
“No, I’m retiring, giving up. When all this is over I’m staying here with Trinity and Jenna, probably take a posting with the Royal guard or something”
“Oh. But why me, why not Raiko? He’s got more experience than me,” Alya protested.
“Because Raiko already knew my intentions and recommended you instead. Says he doesn’t want it”
“But I’m not ready for that kind of responsibility”
“Alya” Deven rested his hands on her shoulders, “When I took you under my wing all those years ago and made you my apprentice, I didn’t do it just to help you control your force powers…”
“What little there is” Alya remarked.
“I did it because in that eight year old child I saw the raw material needed to make a good soldier, an excellent commander and a damned fine person. I saw your potential and I felt I was duty bound to ensure you unlocked that potential” Deven shook his head, “Yes, you make terrible jokes at the most inappropriate times, Yes, you drive even me nuts sometimes. But I don’t care, you’re exactly the sort of person the Genyosha needs leading them”
Alya bit her leap and Deven could see tears forming at the corner of her eyes, “Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou” Alya threw her arms around him.
“Hey, what’s this for?”
“For having the trust in me”
“Alya, I would trust you to back me up anytime, anyplace. The only thing that makes me hesitate is the worry that I might wake up in a strange place with a worrying tattoo”
Before Alya could reply, Deven’s headset beeped and he activated it.
“Sir, this is Gunship Seven, I just had a signal from an Ezekiel Crow, he says Jedi Master Horn has requested your immediate presence, floor Eighty Tower One, East platform”
“Understood, can you pick us up from the ground level?” Deven asked.
“Negative sir. The Imperials still have a lot of ground forces in the area. The last place I want to be is on the ground. What floor are you on?”
“There’s a large balcony on the twentieth. I can pick you up there”
“We’ll be on our way as soon as we’re done here”
“I copy sir. We’ll be there in nine minutes. Gunship Seven out”
“What’s the problem?” Alya asked.
“I don’t know. But I have a bad feeling” He turned to the main area of the power control room. Hurry up and place those charges people, I want us on the twentieth in eight minutes”
Thirteen minutes and one power generator destroying explosion later, Gunship Seven was dropping Deven, Alya and the other four Genyosha on the landing pad at the fiftieth floor of Tower One. They were met by Ezekiel Crow, CO of the Royal Guard detachment that was part of this operation.
“Good to see you sir” Crow said meeting them at the gunship’s hatch.
“What’s the situation here?” Deven said stepping into the rain that continued to hammer down.
“Lets get inside first?” Crow shook his head.
Inside the building proper Deven accepted a towel someone had appropriated from somewhere and began to dry himself off the best he could.
“Shall we try again?” Deven said to Crow.
“We’ve secured the building down to the seventeenth, although my men are almost done with that floor, resistance is light. Most of the storm troopers that should be here were redeployed in the city when our forces first arrived. The only floor we haven’t secured is the eightieth; all other elevators bypass it and other than one in this office and another in a similar room on the seventy-ninth there is no other access. Master Horn insisted on going down alone and told us to contact you”
“Right” Deven nodded.
“I have two messages as well. The first is from a Rei Vorst. Karla is stable. Korsk didn’t make it. I’m sorry sir”
Deven nodded. “And the other”
“From a Captain Ge. Master Sergeant Raiko has fallen in the line of duty”
Deven closed his eyes for a moment. When he’d formed the Genyosha Raiko had been one of the first and had stood with him through all the ups and downs without ever turning from his duty. Behind him Alya and the remaining Genyosha removed their helmets and offered a moments silence. Raiko had been well respected with the unit.
“A fine lad” Gordo Baird offered, “Not many like him left in this galaxy”
Deven nodded, “Agreed. Lets hope he’s still watching over us. Alya, take command and go help the Royal guard with the last few floors” As Alya and the Genyosha moved away Deven turned to Crow. “I’m going down in the elevator”
“Wouldn’t dream of stopping you sir”
Corran ducked a wild slash at his head and tried to bring his light saber around to plunge it into Hades’ chest. Hades responded by bringing his own weapon round and deflecting Corran’s golden blade wide. Unfortunately for Hades this did nothing to help his position.
Corran brought his knee up and drove it into the Sith Lord’s chest. It was only a glancing blow, but it drove the air from Hades’ lungs and Corran was sure he felt a rib or two break.
Hades staggered back from the attack, but showed no pain. Corran guessed that hiss nervous system was like the rest of his body and no longer capable of registering anything at all.
Corran took the moment to gather him self and take a breath.
“Still not saying anything Master Horn?” Hades hissed, “Or do you merely find words a waste of time”
Instead of answering Corran turned in the direction he believed Darth Shiva lurked. “I will speak” He said purposefully ignoring Hades, “But only to those I feel could understand” In return he was sure he felt a trace of amusement come from Shiva.
Hades lips pulled back in another lip splitting sneer, “Touche, Master Horn” He spat the word ‘master’ as to remove all emotional context and leave it as an empty words.
Corran merely nodded in response as Hades leapt to the attack again. Corran blocked high and low as Hades attempted to penetrate his defensive zone. The Sith lord’s attacks began to get choppy and he missed numerous openings Corran offered him.
“It’s time,” Corran thought.
As Corran blocked the next attack he twisted his light saber in such a way that both sabers locker for a brief second. Corran once again grabbed a handful of robe, but this time he merely shoved Hades away.
To his credit Hades recovered quickly, his face a mask of uncontrolled rage and charged Corran. As the corpse like man charged Corran stood his ground until the last second and then spun under Hades’ wildly thrashing blade before bringing his own blade up though his opponents mid-section.
Hades had been carrying a lot of momentum upon his death and his corpse carried along on its original path –albeit in two pieces- until it hit the elevator doors. Or at least it would have had the doors not chosen that moment to open.
From where Corran stood all he heard was a yell of terror, the buzz of a light saber cutting though flesh and bone, a double thud and then Hades’ head rolled back out of the door followed by a white face Deven.
“You!” He said accusingly, “Why are you throwing corpses at me?”
“That wasn’t a corpse” Corran shook his head.
“That IS a corpse. He’s dead, he smells and he’s been cut in half. Now either he’s the greatest actor there ever was or he is a corpse”
“That is Darth Hades”
“Are you telling me Darth Hades was a brain eating zombie?” Deven asked confused.
“No, he was alive a few minutes ago” Corran massaged his forehead.
“Corran, that guy couldn’t have been alive a century ago, let alone a few minutes ago. Meat Surprise smells better than he does”
“Deven, he was alive before I cut him in half” Corran sighed. There were times when he considered the possibility that Deven might have had something important damaged back on Sekar IV all those years ago. “Now calm down, you’re starting to get hysterical”
“I’m getting hysterical? You’re the loony who’s lobbing corpses at me and you say I’m getting hysterical”
Corran sighed and wondered how Deven had ever lasted this long.
“Wait, lets start over” Deven said, “That guy was Darth Hades, correct?”
“And he was alive a few minutes ago?”
“Until you cut him in half?”
“Then why does he look like evidence in a grave robbery?”
“The Dark Side”
“The Dark Side did that?” Deven leaned to where he could see Hades’ one-eyed visage on the disembodied head.
“Oh. Right. Well, forget the ugly stick, that guy was…….”
“Just leave it Deven” Corran interrupted.
Oh, okay” Deven looked around for a second.
“Are you okay?” Corran asked.
“Yeah, it was just the shock of it all. Having a corpse leap at you is enough to upset anybody. So where’s this Darth Shiva”
“Behind you” A woman’s voice cut though the darkness.
Deven and Corran spun in the direction of the voice. A figure clad in black armour stood before a throne that Corran hadn’t noticed before. The armour appeared to be Sith in origin and looked to be very old judging by the styling. The white of the mask allowed it to appear as if a face was staring from the darkness as the armour blended into the shadows. The mask displayed a picture of radiant beauty at odds with the blackness that rolled from the woman through the Force. Steel grey hair emerged from under the mask and Corran found himself wondering if this Darth Shiva was anything like Hades under that mask, or could she be powerful enough to actually hold off the decay.
The only way to know was to remove that mask and Corran decided he was in no hurry.
Deven stepped forwards, “So Darth Shiva. We meet at last”
“Indeed” Shiva nodded in response, her mask offering no clue to who she was.
“I hope you’re prepared to surrender, after all, our forces are crushing your legions, we almost control this citadel and from what I hear, your orbiting fleet has suffered heavy losses” Deven paused for what he hoped was good effect, “So I ask will you surrender?”
Shiva stood silent for a moment and then suddenly tossed her head back and laughed. She fixed Deven with a stare. “It is a while since I bothered to use words, Even with Darth Hades I merely projected my thoughts to him. But, I know of your histories and I respect what the two of you can do enough that I shall use words. This is a privilege offered to only a few. But anymore foolishness like that and I will withdraw that privilege”
She leaned forwards "But I will not surrender"
Corran and Deven looked at each other and nodded. “In that case” Corran said, “You have left us no choice”
“You can try your best” Shiva laughed again. She straightened her arms and produced a pair of light sabers, one in the left hand and the other in the right. With the distinctive snap-hiss they both ignited producing a blood red blade. “To battle”
“To battle,” Corran and Deven repeated.
Then with a mighty leap, she jumped from the throne and landed between them.
Battle was joined.
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