-=arcona Run On=- Desperate Times
Ok guys and girls, if you’ve made it this far then I can hopefully presume you’re interested in participating in this dinky little Run On. The story is set within the Dajorra system and you’ve guessed it, once again a somewhat idiotic and desperate force has attempted to turn our cosy little lives upside down, and yes its our job to stop it. For those of you in the know (those who have read about the Yuuzhan Vong from the New Jedi Order series) will know that around now the Hutts run into a little extra-galactic trouble around now, and as you would expect it the Vong are giving them a hard time. Now the Hutts have chosen to abandon their little corner of the galaxy to the Yuuzhan Vong, but first they need somewhere to go, and yeah they choose us, silly huh?
Now that you know roughly what’s going on let me explain the dynamics of the whole thing. The RO is divided into several stages, at the end of each stage the top three writers (as deemed by myself and a talented and beautiful panel of celebrity judges) will be awarded 3rd Level Crescents. At the close of the whole thing I will select the best three overall writers, which may not include people from the different stages (as whilst you may have done well in one you could have fallen down in another), the top three will all get 2nd Level Crescents.
ROs are great aren’t they? We all get together, learn about each other’s characters, advance our writing capabilities and have fun right? Well guys, girls and Dash that’s exactly what I’m looking for in this one, with the biggest emphasis on fun.
Grading wise here’s how it goes:
•Plot (10) – how well you follow it and how well you make it come alive in the readers mind.
•Realism (10) – Can you really jump to the moon?
•Continuity (10) – Teleportation doesn’t exhist so let’s read before we write!
•Grammar (5) – Yes, that old chest nut.
•Spelling (5) – And yeah easy money again especially with the wonders of Spell Check.
•Tactics (5) – Presented with a problem? How are you going to deal with it?
•Character Development (5) – Writing a blow by blow account is easy, but what are you thinking as you’re beating the crap out of a CSP err Hutt?
And that pretty much wraps it up, have fun and Arcona FTW!!!!1
With the Yuuzhan Vong reaping havoc throughout the Galaxy times are changing. The Hutts in their usual manner have dug themselves into a hole. Allying themselves with the Yuuzhan Vong whilst trading information with the New Republic has left them in neither sides grace, now facing the impending invasion at the hands of Nas Choka. Aware of this fact the ruling Hutt clan (the Besadii) have sent out their probes to ascertain which planet they will rape like they had done to Nal Hutta. One such target is the Dajorra system, fully aware of the vast mineral wealth and plethora of hospitable worlds they intend to sweep aside Clan Arcona in a desperate, albeit courageous attempt.
The Lines are Drawn
Strategos could have been picked out from several kilometres away, the way his head towered above those of his entourage. He cut a foreboding figure, his cold blue eyes glancing out to survey the ranks of assembled soldiers. A calm ripple-less sea of armoured shoulders and helmeted heads lay out either side of him as he stalked his way through a central corridor, nodding to Captains and Colonels either side. The Arcona Consul was currently performing what he regarded as one of the more tedious chores his position forced upon him, never-the-less he understood the need for a soldier to have a Commander’s approval. He could identify loosely the different companies and battalions, but had shied away from reading too much into them; after all, Arcona’s military might was too large to commit to memory alone. The Pontifex came to halt alongside a huddle of men with red crested armour; he smiled an approving smile to the Captain who returned it with a startling crisp and quick salute. Strategos was quite taken aback and had to catch himself from drawing his Lightsaber to defend himself.
“Captain,” he said whilst nodding his reply to the man’s salute. Strategos’ mind was now on his next appointment in the grand Consul tour to the home of the Clan’s Houses; lunch.
Edge of the Dajorra System
Decca Besadii Diori was in an excited mood, her chance to redeem herself in the eyes of her clansmen was close at hand and her time spent cowering in the corner since her mistake on Mawan was growing ever shorter. She was relaxing on the bridge of the flagship of her fleet, dominating the room in a manner that only Hutts could. All around her a vibrant throng of different species went about their duties whilst Decca was left to her imagination. She was looking to her future, studying a holoprojector for the best site for her mansion, something she was sure to receive upon the successful invasion of the Dajorra system. Decca did not think it wise to check and re-check the plan she had laid out, she knew it was sufficient for her aims after having learned a lot from her failed attempt. This time, she was in possession of a much larger fleet and a much larger army as now she had both the support and the financial backing of the Besadii; the ruling Hutt clan on Nal Hutta.
Her quest had been given to her based on her experience and wealth of contacts within the mercenary and pirate world. For once, money meant nothing to the Hutts; suddenly they were staring their very extinction in the face. The Yuuzhan Vong had begun their invasion of their space and had developed a particular taste for Hutt flesh - a thought which turned her gargantuan stomach. They knew they could find little protection from the New Republic (after failed attempts such as the Darksaber project) and that they could expect nothing more from the struggling New Republic than an ancient pleasure yacht with a fork welded onto its nose as its main armament. The schemes and trickery her species had worked in the past had left them in somewhat of a hole. The next logical step for them had been to find somewhere to go where they wouldn’t be found, to establish a new empire, one to grow rich upon the war. Decca’s eye’s had fallen upon the Dajorra System for numerous reasons. Her defeat at the hands of the Jedi Master Yaddle had left Decca with a somewhat buried resentment towards force users and thus invading the home of a group of Dark Jedi seemed a most enjoyable, albeit stupid reason. Secondly, the Dajorra provided the Hutts with a large mineral wealth and a population to enslave to run the mines. The Besadii were hoping that, at the end of the war, they would be the few surviving groups with working mineral mines in the Galaxy and enjoy a near monopoly. The final reason had been that it was close enough to home to reduce the costs of transferring their empire. Now she was the spear of the Hutts ready to drive it into the heart of Arcona.
System Monitoring Station Alpha-One, Eldar
“H-hostiles in the net,” Lieutenant Jirrek stammered, fear and alarm causing his voice to warble. Jerrik had been born on Eldar and had served Arcona for two years in perfect content. He was happy with the situation in the Dajorra System, the Dark Jedi protected them, gave them jobs and traded with them and they lived in harmony. He had seen numerous attempts at destroying the Arcona fail but never had he been the one to report such an attempt in.
“Report!” he superior officer shouted from across the room as he began to stalk his way towards his station.
“I sent the normal meet and greet codes sir but they didn’t respond, and it’s too large of a mass of ships to be anything but a hostile force,” he explained.
“Leave the conclusions to be drawn by myself,” his superior glared down at him. Jerrik could see in his eyes that he did not want to believe it, similar to the feeling the Lieutenant had been experiencing.
“One of our satellites has repositioned itself to monitor it, downloading data now,” his fingers hammered at the keyboard, a blur before his eyes. “Right, it’s a collection of different ships, we’re looking at corvette analogues, frigates, and an assortment of smaller vessels including starfighters.”
“Straight for us.”
“Get me Strategos!”
Ok guys, Strat's here on Eldar visiting the houses to make sure everything's ship shape so naturally you're also on Eldar in your house, your job for now is to post writing yourself into the RO, what were you doing? Who are you with? When the news breaks what is your reaction? Let's get the creative juices flowing and this baby of to a flying start.
The day was exquisite, sunlight broke through the gaps of trees and beams of light flooded the forest floor, leaves would periodically glide gently to the ground and the sounds of birdlike songs flooded the air.
The ecstatic grin stretched taut across Juda’s face as he showed off his newly received medals. His emerald green eyes shimmered from beneath his shady-red, jagged hair that fell low over his brow.
A lot has happened to the young Mandalorian over the past few days, he had passed a variety of Shadow Academy courses, been awarded four medals and was promoted to Protector, Juda was over-the-moon to say the least and with a chuckle the adolescent put the medals into a pouch in his medical belt,
“Must be my lucky week!” Juda said looking over at his Soulfire brethren, Kieran. The pair were clad in their Assault Trooper armour and were enjoying a quick break from a training mission in the forests of Eldar.
The remaining three members of Soulfire Strike Team were scattered within a mile diameter. Kieran leaned against the trunk of a tree, his BlasTech E-15 A Rifle slung low across his back as he glanced at his gauntlet and hoisted himself upright.
“Right buddy, lets get back to it” Kieran said and the pair placed their helmets over their heads before proceeding through the forest.
As Juda stumbled over broken branches that was strewn across the forest floor his surroundings slowly warped into a blur and the dense sound of being underwater was all Juda could hear, aside from the dull thumping of his heart beat that echoed with each pound.
Darkened figures drew closer into the blurred surroundings as Juda stood, poised in a relaxed position before suddenly the figures shot out and flashes of explicit images rushed through his mind, his heart beat raced. The images were rapid as they shot out until his dull heart beat hastily raced into the beat of war drums, faster, faster until…
“Gah!” Juda cried out as he bolted and backed into a tree trunk with shock, various leaves drifted to the ground as the adolescent Force adept rubbed his jaw.
Kieran looked over his shoulder at the commotion Juda was making before shouting out, “You okay?”
“Yeah.” Juda said hesitantly, “I’m fine.” Juda brought his KX-80 repeating blaster rifle to his front before steadily running to catch up with his team-mate.
“You really should apply for a Master/Student program” Kieran said, looking ahead. “You’ll learn to harness your Force sight abilities properly.”
“Hmm” Juda sighed before being startled by a ‘ka-deet’ sound. “Fierfek! Have I stepped on a mine?!”
Kieran looked the young Protector up and down before laughing and waving a small data-pad in front of Juda. The Jedi Hunter clicked a switch on the data-pad’s side with a flick of his thumb and the voice of Zandro Erinos shot out with a static hiss.
‘Kieran, Juda. Training’s over, head back to the Drexl as fast as you can, we’ve just got distress calls and we’re believed to be under attack’
The transmission ended and an eerie silence fell upon the two, suddenly the expression of embarrassment on Juda’s face turned to one of anxiety and fright, without saying a word the pair set off running…
Callus sat with his apprentice Xar'Khan over a small table with holograms representing ships and planets. Xar pressed a few buttons on his side of the table and several of his ships moved over an unoccupied planet.
"How's that?" Xar asked with a triumphant lilt in his voice.
"Almost as good as this." Callus said keying in his own fleet's actions. He sent his largest group straight through Xar's defense into the heart of his dominion striking two of the defense satellites as the satellites fell to Callus' forces Xar threw his head back in frustration.
"It's just luck." Callus said as he watched Xar's defenses fall.
Callus was waiting for Xar to try and make another move the holograms flashed off, and the lighting in the room flickered off for a moment and then returned, though instead of its normal hue the lights were red. Callus' comlink beeped.
"Go for Callus."
"Callus, Drodik here we have a situation. Breifing room ASAP." Drodik crackled over the comlink
"What's the deal?"
"No time now, hurry up. Drodik out." The comlink shutoff and Callus tucked it back in his belt.
"Well, lets get moving then." Callus said to his student as the pair stood up and headed toward the breifing room.
They arrived at the briefing room in no time at all. Callus and Xar strode into the room and made their way on to the back row reserved for Bas-Tyra. Bas-Tyra was without a doubt the leading battle team of the house but it was the youngest and as such held theback row. Callus didn't mind it gave his seat a back to it for naps during the boring sessions.
But no naps tonight, one question was burning in everyone's mind though it was deathly quiet in the room. "What's going on?" was the question asked by the silence.
The grass willowed down perfectly in the clearing as the Drexl set down amongst the trees. Its crew of native conscripts were fast becoming quite able at their jobs – Sashar nodded in approval. Of course, they weren’t Mandalorians, so they’d never measure up to his ‘professional’ standards, but they’d do. They’d received the recall order about half an hour ago, and both he and his sergeant, Zandro Savric Erinos were a little worried. Soulfire Strike Team were used to commando missions, not all out warfare, and thus far it sounded like the Clan’s Summit didn’t have any mission planned for Soulfire.
Rho was first onto the Drexl when she set down. Zandro helped haul the Nagai and his heavy gear onto the Laat/i whilst Sashar knelt down by the comm. Unit installed to the rear of the craft. He put in another request to the Clan Summit for orders, knowing full well it’d almost certainly be ignored for now – they had more important things to worry about.
“Sarge, might it be prudent to get the other two teams geared up and ready?” The Mandalorian asked his former apprentice.
“I was just thinking that. Send the order and have them muster on the Thanatos.”
“Yessir.” Sashar responded crispy, and got to work relaying the orders.
“What’s the recall for, Chief?” Rho asked as he knelt down next to Sashar and started methodically going through his pack, making sure everything was still packed efficiently. The members of Soulfire were taught never to be idle when in their armour. Never.
”I’ll explain once Juda and Kieran get here-ah, here they come.”
Sashar looked up as he finished relaying orders, and moved over to the side, offering his hand to Kieran whilst Zandro heaved Juda up onto the platform.
“Back to the Thanatos, Terk.” Erinos said to the pilot as he reached instinctively for the hand-rail running along the ceiling of the craft’s troop bay. With a familiar roar, the Laat/i jumped up and headed towards orbit. It was already easy to spot the triangular form of the Acclamator-class cruiser hanging in orbit, a harbinger of the battle to come.
“Any reason, Sarge?” Kieran asked as he yanked his helmet off, shaking his slightly shaggy hair loose from his sweat-coated face.
“I’ll explain fully once all of Soulfire is assembled, but suffice to say we’re being invaded.”
“The Dajorra system.”
“Oh.” The cabin was suddenly quiet.
“Oh come now, you love a good scrap, and I’m sure the brass will have a charming locale for us to crawl through to bag us some wets.” Sashar half mocked, trying to inject some levity to the sombre mood of his friends and team-mates. A scattered chuckle denoted only partial success.
Much of the flight back to Faspere just seemed like a vast blur, Juda couldn’t really remember much from the trip apart from the odd remark from Kieran and Sashar’s faithful smile.
‘This is it’ Juda thought as he hopped from the Laat/i to the concrete hanger floor on Galeres’ base, ‘My first piece of real action’ Although it seemed stimulating there was a doubt in the back of the Protector’s mind that he shouldn’t have such a zestful mind on the matter.
“Right..” Zandro said adjusting his gauntlet as the Soulfire unit stood in a circle awaiting instructions, “Get kitted out and regroup in the Grand Arena for orders ASAP”
The five Soulfire members didn’t need time to think over the statement and all but Sashar hurried away.
“Any ideas what’s going on, sarge?” Sashar said glancing over at Sergeant Zandro.
“No, I wouldn’t like to formulate a presumption” Zandro remarked looking on at the various Starfighter’s and vessels that penetrated the Hanger’s force field and set down, the bay was bustling with Galeres members of all ages and races. “But it’s something big… I know that much”
Juda ran and slid on his heels into the Medical Lab all the while checking his KX-80 rifle over. The room was already full of activity, a variety of Arcona’s best field medics stocking up on supplies.
The adolescent Protector stood, almost dumbfounded at the sheer amount of sentiment in the room, an overwhelming sense of confusion came over him as he was approached by a research assistant.
“What do you need?” The man asked, obviously flustered.
“Erm, a bottle of Synthskin and ten Bacta Patches” Juda’s porcelain-coloured skin glowed under the room’s artificial light as he handed over a receipt and walked steadily deeper into the Lab.
Brotherhood medics of all ranks were bursting into cabinets and caches, grasping onto supplies and Juda couldn’t help but give a subtle smile as he watched a young Corellian struggle to keep a hold of the bundle of Medpac’s that was in his grip as he stormed passed the young Mandalorian.
“Here!” Juda spun 180° on his heels to find the assistant pacing toward Juda with the medical provisions he requested. “Ten Patches and one bottle of Synthskin, good luck!”
The man slapped the supplies into Juda’s open hands and hastily chased after another medic, “Sir? ….can I help you, Sir?”
Juda raised an eyebrow that was masked by his exceedingly long fringe as he positioned the supplies in pouches on his medical belt before leaving for the Grand Arena…
As a Soulfirian, Rho was trained to always be prepared for anything. It was a simple task to go from training mode to high alert in a matter of minutes. One thing that everyone knew about him was that he didn't like being kept in the dark about serious matters that directly affected him. So, needless to say he was getting impatient waiting for the Chief to give them the briefing about this "invasion".
Rho knew he had all the equipment he needed to get things done because he just spent the last few minutes making sure everything was packed properly and in good working order.
As he, for the briefest of moment, stood there looking out at his elite unit; the unit that was called upon to commando many successful missions; he felt proud to be part of this team. His life basically began with being ripped from his family and the only life that he knew by the Tof 20 some years ago. He knew what it was like to have a hard life and still come out on top and in control. 'Whatever it is they have to tell us today, I'm sure will not compare to anything I've already been through... so, BRING IT ON!' Rho thought. He didn't know what this was all about yet, but his hatred for whoever was causing this disruption could be sensed by his Master, Sashar.
'Relax, Rho. You'll get your chance..." Sashar reassured him through the Force.
"It's time to get to the Grand Arena." Zandro ordered. "Let's go team."
On his way to the Grand Arena to get the real story, Rho glances up to find Juda, a fellow Soulfire member coming out from the medical Laboratory with the supplies that he will need for the ensuing battle. He could sense that Juda had a hint of anxiety, and understandably so; this being his first real battle outside of their normal practice routines. Although, he could also sense the confidence that came with the hours and hours of elite training that all the members of Soulfire always received with every session.
Rho sent a feeling of reassurance through the Force to Juda. 'I've got your back... We've all got your back and I know you are more than ready for this.'
The tension in the Grand Arena was so intense that everyone was focused inwardly. There were only a few conversations going on within this massive Arena and all at once everyone's attention focused to the front.
Kant Lavar opened up the small armored footlocker he kept shoved under his bunk. It was a far cry from the larger equipment lockers he'd used years ago, as a bounty hunter, but when he'd retired he'd sold off most of his more... exotic weaponry and heavier equipment. He pulled out what he'd jokingly referred to as his "retirement gift" to himself - a tactical vest festooned with pockets. It was made of an artificial cut-resistant fabric, and at strategic points sported panels of armorweave fabric. Not enough to stop a direct hit by a blaster bolt, but enough to deflect more grazing shots, as well as giving him minor protection against bladed weapons (vibroblades, obviously, being the exception). The pouches bulged with gear - a medpack, macrobinoculars, a small hand-held scanner, blaster power packs, a glowrod, and the like - and a drop-leg holster carried his sidearm, a DL-44 blaster pistol. A drop-leg panel on the opposite leg held pouches for the MGL-1 microgrenade launcher attached to his primary weapon, an AXM-50 blaster rifle. It had been modified long ago with a scope, a tactical glowrod, and the grenade launcher. He finished adjusting the vest, slung the rifle over his shoulder, and then pulled his cloak on over the whole kit. It wasn't standard Dark Jedi attire, but since he couldn't use a lightsaber yet, he fracking well was going to carry something besides a blaster pistol into combat.
Making sure his weapons' safties were on and all his pouches were securely closed, Lavar started to move into foot traffic with the rest of the Clan towards the Grand Arena.
Xar took a seat beside his master. "What the hell is going on?" he asked under his breath.
"You know as well as I. Just be patient, we will know in due time." Callus wisely responded. Though what he had said was true, the Knight didn't believe it for a second. He knew the details would be spared only as they needed. It was the way that Arcona worked. There are those on a need to know basis and for some reason or other Oriens never needed to know.
Xar felt the frustration in his Corellian counterpart and shrugged it off, looking around the room he could see more and more of his kin gathering around. It would not be long before at least some of what was going on would be revealed.
It had been a while since Sashar had seen the House assembled in its entirety. Dotted about the grand arena were several Krath mystics, their hoods up covering their faces almost without exception. Obelisk was the prime order of the house, even after the dissolution of order-only houses. Everywhere Sashar looked there were an assortment of Arcona’s best fighters, some heavily clad in armour, some sporting none – proud to show off their defined torsos. Soulfire was instantly apparent – their matte-black armour a stark contrast to the blue suggestions on the other armour decals.
They were a motley collection, to be sure – a collection of force users trained extensively in how to lead Arcona’s forces into battle. Sashar and Zandro trotted down the amphitheatre like seating down to the centre where Malidir was standing, his expression as grave as ever.
“It’s war, lads.” He said without preamble, speaking quietly so the rest of the house wouldn’t hear him.
“We’re being invaded. We have perhaps one hour before they’re upon us. One hour to marshall our entire armed forces.”
“Soulfire been jebbed?” Zandro asked nonchalantly.
“The usual. The Summit have some special, suicidal mission for the lot of you. Oh and we’re also temporarily assigning Etah to Soulfire as his squad is going to be spread throughout the fleet in an effort to co-ordinate the navy a little better. Sashar, I’ll need you to give him a crash course in the armour.” Malidir said. Sashar nodded once and started talking into his com-link, ordering another set of Soulfire’s Custom armour be brought to the Dream Prowler.
“Given his background, he’s probably best suited as a scout, which’ll free up Rho to concentrate on sniping.” Zandro said almost to himself.
“Agreed. We’ll be heading to the Thanatos after the briefing and doling out assignments to the mundanes. I take it you’ll want your usual two spec ops squads?”
“And two extra Larties should do it.”
“Right. Take a seat, we’ll get started in a few seconds.”
Sashar and Zandro returned to Soulfire’s area. The mood of the Battleteam was exactly as the pair expected after months and months of training closely together: Eager, Excited, and calm. There was no nerves, no anxiety, only a heightened sense of things. The recent months had been good to them – they were ready.
Malidir coughed and boosted his voice with the force, spreading it through the arena to get the attention of everyone present. He was about to begin.
Callus leaned forward in his seat and looked over to his apprentice. "Mmmm I know you feel the tension in the room Xar, probably better than I do." Callus took a breath and rubbed his temples. "I cant put my finger on it but it's not supposed to be like this. There's no real feeling of danger, or anxiety. Every one just seems on edge just for the sake of being on edge. A very dangerous time." Callus leaned back and yawned.
"mmmmm. I can sense the feelings whirling in the room but I can't quite sort them all out to place them. It makes me uneasy." Xar said furrowing his brow, "Master... what should we do?"
"It may sound strange coming from me but patient is the best course of action here. I'm in the dark as much as you are but we'll know what we need to do really soon." Callus rubbed his goatee and pulled his DataPad from his pocket. He made a few quick motions and the game that he and Xar had been playing displayed on the screen.
"Your turn." Callus grinned handing the DataPad to Xar
Having recently returned from his month’s long adventure on Kiffex and gone through the elaborate Knighting ceremony, Etah was just glad that he was here for this incursion. He walked down the hallway wearing Brotherhood robes, his hands idling stroking the lightsaber hanging from his belt. Glancing at all those assembled he wondered if they we’re ready, ‘no, they’re not ready’ he thought to himself.
No few of those gathered were under the misconception that fighting the Hutts, meant fighting against the slug like Hutts themselves. That was of course a foolish and ignorant assumption. The Clan Arcona would really be fighting legions and hordes of Klatooinians, Nikto, Vodran, Weequay and even some rouge Sakiyan scouts. The later which Etah would torture and then kill. Not for information, but for fun.
‘I never thought I would be fighting against the Hutts again’ he thought to himself. A few short years ago he had been a reconnaissance Officer in the Saki Army, fighting against a rouge group of Hutts called the Antartis rebels. But that had been a fringe group of Kajidic’s that went against the wishes of the Hutt Clan of Ancients and the Hutt Grand Council. Etah would hate to see the full force the Hutts and their minions.
Sakiya, home planet of the Skaiyan race was smack dab in the middle of Hutt space. Unlike most races in Hutt space, the Sakiyan people have always managed to remain independent because of its advanced repulsar lift technology, technology the portly Hutt crime lords needed. In the end the Sakiyan’s won because their entire civilization is mobile thanks to repulsar lifts. They shifted and adapted too much for the Hutts thugs to keep up. Arcona has no such capability.
What even fewer knew, was that that this act of aggression was a breach with the Tana Consortium. Everyone knew about the gambling and the Pitt fights on their space station stop over just outside Brotherhood space, but there were whispers about what other business the d’Tana family conducted. Some said production and distribution of spice, some said weapon manufacture and running, others said a black market, still others said a slave ring, they were all right, they were all right and more.
The Hutts were the d’Tana’s primary business partners. The d’Tana family was so respected by them in fact, that the Hutts generally referred to them as the Detaana Kajidic. Part of their business deals included the continued sovereignty of Brotherhood space, the Dajorra system in particular. This latest act of aggression was taken on the Hutts part as a means of preservation. To defeat them outright would be nigh impossible, but the Arconan’s could possibly convince them through violence of action that there was easier territory to be had elsewhere.
Hutt Flagship, near Eldar
“Bring us into orbit and launch the landing barges,” Decca bellowed from her floating platform on the bridge. Before her the same plethora of different species scurried back and forth, speaking into comlinks and taping away of displays. Her fleet was manoeuvring itself into orbit and aligning itself to take on the Thanatos
, the giant that stood in her way.
She was staring intently at the screen attached to her platform, waiting to see the swarm of fighters that was sure to pour out from the Cruiser. Decca was concerned that the fighters would intercept her landing barges and destroy her force, but still she had been reluctant to give them too heavy of a guard through fear of the destruction the Thanatos
could reap. She was calm, a visage of patience driven on but her lust for power and the feeling of shame she still felt, this would be her shining hour she vowed.
Command Centre, Eldar
The houses had gathered in their halls, and were awaiting eagerly news from their Consul as to what exactly was the new threat that Arcona was facing. Small bits of information had filtered their way down the grape vine much to the annoyance of Strategos, he had hoped for a better level of operational security, but then again, such a direct assault had not been tried in several years and had caught them off guard. The Consul was standing in the command centre of Eldar, soaking in the force that was alive around him, sifting through the floating emotions and thoughts for important bits of information he would need to give his briefing. They had so far identified the force and the commander after breaking the poorly constructed Hutt code and had also learnt a great deal about the strength of the force; something which worried him slightly as it contained some ambiguous units the intelligence division was having trouble identifying, never the less it would seem that his Jedi would be up to the task once again.
“Teka, if you will,” he spoke with a gesture to the aide assigned to him to be his link to the military side of Arcona. The native Eldarian raised the datapad that seemed to be grafted to his hand as Strategos had yet to find him without, he was even sure he slept with it cradled to his chest. He stilled his mind, and took a deep breathe as his servant did his work.
“Arconans, as you may know an invasion forced was picked up on the Dajorra system half a standard hour ago, as of yet we have had no contact with the party but they are hostile.” He spoke in a steady voice, not wishing to provoke any alarm in the many Arconans that were watching the briefing via the Arconan communication network. “We’re scrambling everything we’ve got as well as mobilising the majority of our ground forces to counter theirs. From intercepted transmissions we have learnt it is the Hutts and they are intent on taking this system for their own. Their fleet will be in orbit within the hour, the Thanatos
is on station to intercept but we can expect to engage their ground force.” Strategos paused for a moment, allowing details of it to soak in before continuing, “now, you all know what to do, you will be assigned you orders by your heads of houses. Time is precious, they have caught us off guard but they shall not succeed.”
Grand Arena, Galares, Eldar
Kieran slapped his hand down onto his leg as the image of his Consul winked out and the holoprojector returned to its silent slumber.
“Well boys and girls looks like we’re gonna get some live fire training done today as well,” Kieran said elbowing Sashar repeatedly.
“Right, briefing room now, I’ve just bee sent something and it looks like they’ve got plans for us lot,” Zandro stood and shouted to his team. “Report says that the Hutts have got mechs … imperial mechs? Definitely our type of game.”
Kieran was off his seat and halfway towards the door by the time Zandro had finished but he hadn’t missed a thing in his hasty departure. The big toys would prove a serious problem if they got up close, no doubt Soulfire and her support teams would be dropped into the thick of them, Kieran just couldn’t wait.
Right there buckos! This is your cue to get into the thick of it. There’s a ground force landing and its up to you lot to do something about it, you can expect pretty much to be up against the lot Etah so kindly introduced in his post as well as a few antiquated battle droids from the Republic era just to mix it up a little. One thing to bare in mind, there is a space battle going on up top as well, so you can if you wish jump a TIE and write that into it. So, let’s get our write on!
Zandro stalked into the room ahead of his troops as they walked into the briefing chamber and took their seats. The Sergeant walked up to the holoprojector and tapped a few keys, bringing the image of a jungle up on the screen before his squad as he backed up to get a better look at the environment being shown.
Wow, this is going to be a laugh.
“Well then boys and girls, we get a special job again. This one will be fun for you all, so sit tight and make sure you get all this, because it seems to be of relatively high importance for the Clan.”
Pausing for a handful of seconds to let his words sink in, Zandro carried on.
“We are being assigned on what has artistically been described as a ‘Mech Hunt’. We are being dropped into the jungle in 3 different groups. Each will be assigned a LAAT/I and each will have the same broad mission; kill anything that isn’t Arconan in our path. We will sweep through the jungle and kill or incapacitate as many enemy troops as we can, and make sure that the jungle stays in our hands. Needless to say that our work will be relatively close-range, meaning that we won’t be operating quite as usual. Nevertheless, I anticipate that although resistance will be strong, we will be stronger.”
Looking around the room once more, Zandro felt a rush of pride at the calm determination etched on everyone’s face. Any fear they may be feeling was kept under the surface in a show of professionalism that made the human glad to be their leader.
“Onto groups. I will lead Soulfire and we will use the Drexl. Maku, you will take Kad Prudii and cover my left flank, with Derik and the reprobates in Kad Hukaatir covering my right. Your two squads will use the 2 Laaties that we are loaning from the Clan to make your insertion. As for the Dream Prowler crew, you can either join one of our squads or take to the skies with the Prowler, I leave that one up to you all. Just make sure you keep me informed. I’m sorry for not giving you all much info or time to prepare, but our hand is being pushed here, and I fully intend to push back twice as hard and just as fast. Rendezvous in the hangar as quickly as possible, but no more than 20 minutes if you can. We need to stop that scum roaming through our land, and we need to do it now."
Nodding to his squad, Zandro headed out of the room and towards the armoury. It was time to get kitted up.
It was raining when the Drexl shot from the Hangar of the Galeres HQ. The Laat/i had recently undergone a paint job and sported Soulfire’s matte-black colouring, complete with dull grey markings to better hide the craft during its predominantly night-time incursions. The bay hatches were shut, and the only light in the troop bay was from the cockpit stuttering light and dark as the Laat/i dipped above and below the tree level. Soulfire were nearly invisible in the gloom and oddly silent.
Zandro had triple checked all of his gear and knew his boys had done the same, yet made sure to remind them, if for nothing else than to give them a routine to feel comfortable with – he needed to keep them calm and focused and not let the pre-battle nerves get to them.
Sashar was stoic as ever. He’d already brought up the Battle meld and was quietly talking to Etah, making sure that the newcomer knew his role in the squad – knew that he was now part of a very closely knit team, even if it was only for the duration of the assault.
Their heavy weapons expert knelt down, checking that every single component on his PLX-2M was in perfect working order – Wolv was young, but had racked up quite the kill count in Arcona – he’d do his job, despite having relatively little time to get adjusted to his new role in Soulfire.
Kieran was virtually hopping from foot to foot with excitement, yet he was almost motionless; there was just something about the way he held himself, wearing the armour like a second skin that let on that he was ready for battle. Zandro hadn’t seen him this excited since they’d blown up the Excidium.
Rho was outwardly calm, yet through the battle meld the blood lust from the Nagai was almost palpable. The Sniper was nevertheless focused, controlled, ready to pour his whole being into that one, vital shot. He was quite the warrior after his stint with Soulfire.
Lastly, there was Juda. The medic hung close to Sashar. He wasn’t nervous – he was Mandalorian, but there was some anxiety there. He wasn’t worried that he’d die in battle, such were cowards’ thoughts, oh no. He was worried that someone else would.
Wonder what that’s about…
Zandro mused before a beeping came over his comm-line – straight from the Consul. He flicked the activation switch with his tongue, and Strat’s voice came over the tinny speakers in his helmet.
“Zandro, we need you to hold the jungle – if we can keep them from gaining a beach head, then we can counter-attack. You’re Arcona’s knife in the back of those degenerate slugs – we need Soulfire to perform as its best, as always. We also need you to survive, you’re an integral part of our plans. Don’t let me down, Zandro.” He warned.
“We’ll do our jobs, Sir. Count on it.” Savric’s voice radiated cool, calm, collected assurance. He could almost picture Strategos’ sardonic smile as the comm line clicked off. The pilot’s voice cut over the din of the engines.
“We’re coming up on your drop point lads; get your zip lines ready!”
“You heard the man Soulfire, Hustle!”
The hatches swung backwards, flooding the commandoes in a wash of light and noise. The Drexl came to an abrupt halt and Zandro’s voice could be heard easily through his helmet even without the com-links.
“Go! Go! Go!”
Seven forms slid down the ropes and landed with a thump, their rifles up as they scanned the area. The Laat/i swung round and soared back towards the Galeres Temple, where it would act as air support if needed.
Their insertion hadn’t gone unnoticed. A scouting party of Vodrans broke through the foliage from all sides, nearly all of them wielding vibro-axes. They had a Sakiyan commander.
The Battle meld surged with a mixture of emotions – trepidation, excitement, alarm, resolve. It mixed in with a flurry of shouts from the Vodrans that were cut off as the Mandalorians, ever ready, raised their rifles and opened fire. Zandro followed suit, bringing up his own E-15A and peppering the zerg rush of Vodrans in a hail of precision fire. He dropped four before they’d made it within a meter to him. Then it was melee range. He swung the butt of his rifle around, catching one Vodran in the face and sending him to the ground. He let the rifle go and drew his lightsaber in one oiled motion, activating it just in time to decapitate another scout and heard multiple shouts of alarm from the Hutt forces as they belatedly realised who their opponents were.
Sashar’s saber was out next, the familiar snap his drowning out the guttural cries of the two Vodrans he cut down, and even Wolv managed to take three down with his blade. Then they were alone.
“Report.” Zandro said, pleased that he wasn’t even breathing heavily.
“All clear, Sarge.” Juda responded instinctively as he stretched out with his force senses, making sure there were no more immediate threats.
“Anyone see what happened to their commander?” Kieran asked as he yanked his knife from the throat of a downed Vodran and wiped the blade on the scout’s clothing.
“He tried to run.” Etah responded in a monotone, pointing at a still spasming humanoid figure that was stuck to the bole of a tree, one of Soulfire’s combat knives holding him in place by the neck.
Zandro chuckled before returning his attention to the task at hand.
“Spread out. Etah, Rho, left and right flanks, spread out to ten meters. Kieran, forward 20 meters. Juda, Wolv, Sash; stick with me.”
His men instantly broke into their recon formation and the Warrior was pleased to note that Etah moved with a soundless grace through the jungle’s fauna – a skill that was rare, even among the more militant-orientated species.
If only I could get him to transfer to Soulfire properly.
The commando squad sifted through the jungle, the distant sounds of battle sending spikes of adrenaline routinely through his system – there was one hell of a dogfight going on in the upper atmosphere. Then there was a bass rumble of an explosion, but it was sustained. Kieran’s voice came through the comm in the same subdued manner as his resole flitted into the battle meld.
“Sarge, we’ve got a roller incoming.”
Roller was the informal name given to Juggernauts – clone wars era treaded tanks that were notoriously hard to take down by infantry units.
“Fierfek. Lads, we’ve got a challenge.”
Mejas was all too aware of the incoming threat. He had felt it through the Force and seen whispers of its arrival in the Shadow Realm. However, Strategos' announcement to the Clan only made the incident more concrete for the Shadow Master. Whilst the exact details of the assault, especially the involvement of the Hutt's, had come as a surprise to the Arconan Elder, the danger that the Dajorra system now faced was all to real.
Entering the Shadow Realm from his chambers, Mejas re-emerged in the Selenian Hall of Shadows. The great chamber reeked of power, of darkness, of chaos and most of all of Arcona. Mejas would never allow this, the very heart of the Clan, to fall to a Hutt.
Surveying the grand chamber, Mejas walked forward to the Serpentine Throne. It had been many years since he had invoked the omniscient powers of the throne, but knew that for the good the Clan and with his standing as a former Consul, that the throne would accept him as its user.
Taking his seat, Mejas gripped the armrests in agony as the Dark Side energies of the throne detected the illegitimacy of the user. As the forces rejected the Arconan Elder, Mejas was left with no option other than to battle the very will of the Serpentine Throne. Forcing his own testament upon the throne and his willingness to use the throne to Arcona's benefit Mejas mustered all the Dark Side energies he could draw upon, eventually bending the will of the throne into accepting him as its user. Mejas knew his intentions were pure - for Arcona above all. With some persuasion, the Throne itself now realised this.
Within minutes the links were made and Mejas could feel himself connected with the consciousness of every one of Arcona's Dark Jedi. He could feel their moods, their fears, their aspirations, their doubts. He could talk to them collectively and individually. He could act as the conduit for the vacant Consul to ensure that Dajorra was a living breathing entity.
"Consul Strategos, this is Master Doto." began Mejas, his gravelly tones entering the Consul's mind as he stood in the command centre. "I have taken the Serpentine Throne in your absence in order to link our Brethren together as one. I will act as your conduit throughout the system until you return to the throne yourself. As a silent entity, with no communications to intercept, we may destroy these illegitimate raiders like the true beings of the Shadow that we are."
"You are well placed Master Doto, though do not get too comfortable." thought Strategos, his emotions mixed; thankful and happy at the upper hand the Arconan's had been delivered, but angered at the arrogance of the former Arconan Consul. "Inform all brethren to disable communications and relay the power of the Serpentine Throne to all Arconan's."
"Yes Consul." hissed Mejas, a wry smile appearing as Strategos' feelings over the Zabrak became known to him. "I will let it be known that I will remain on Selen, defending the Hall of Shadows, until this conflict is over. There is no way Dajorra will fall to these mongrels, especially our great hall."
"Very well Master Doto. Inform all Arconan's of these recent developments and stand-by for further orders." replied Strategos. Now the conflict was really afoot and these raiders would rue the day they ever believed the Dajorra system was a viable target.
Juda wiped the rain from his visor with the back of his glove as the squad swiftly diverted to the cover of moist undergrowth. It was absolute silence, bar that of the beating of rain against various leaves and shrubbery, Juda glanced at the moon that faintly illuminated the area… their only drawback.
‘What’s the range on that Roller? Any infantry?’ Zandro’s voice crackled through the team’s helmet comm.
‘I’d say twenty yards, sarge. Four ground troops, two either side.’ Kieran replied, almost invisibly hidden from sight.
‘Right team, you all know the procedure’ That was the last transmission before the attack. Juda knelt, not taking his eyes off of a tree that stood around fifteen yards ahead of him, his KX-80 poised forward, listening.
Then it came, Juda suddenly felt queasy from the dense rumble of the Juggernaut, this was tension at it’s best. Juda could hear it, could even feel it’s vibrations on the damp, mud-covered ground but was still unable to see the threat, this agitated him.
Kieran fumbled at his belt and unclipped a single, 7-PrG Proton grenade and edged forward into the opening of trees…. Any second now.
The Soulfire Demolition’s expert nudged further out into the opening, still covered by the darkness, suddenly the loud rumbling came to a halt with a screech. The silence was awful as the Mandalorian winced, hoping the enemy didn’t spot him…
Rho looked eagerly down the scope of his X-45 Sniper Rifle, you could almost see the impish grin from behind his visor as he caught one of the four enemy infantrymen in his sight. “One Nikto and three Klatooinians” Rho said to himself, as he traced the Nikto with the crosshair.
“Come on Kieran…” Rho whispered, as if by chance the recipient would hear his prayer, perhaps he did.
Kieran couldn’t wait any longer and bolted from under his cover, flicking a switch on the grenade as he ran. It took longer than expected for the Klatooinian to spot him as the Soulfire troop attached the grenade to the Juggernaut’s treads.
“Bona nai kachu!” The Klatooinian roared, this was of course before Kieran pulled up his E-15 A rifle from a crouched position with a smile. A single bolt raced from his barrel before imploding the Klatooinian’s skull.
The Demolition’s troop rolled back into the undergrowth before the explosion erupted, destroying the tank’s treads, making it immobile but this assault was far from over.
The tank’s turret let out a volley of shots as the Soulfire unit revealed their positions, the Nikto cursed as he raised an E-11 and took aim in Zandro’s general direction, the Nikto didn’t even so much as squeeze the trigger before a bolt from Rho’s barrel silenced him.
Etah swiftly dashed into the clearing and ignited his lightsaber, the blue blur parried several shot from the turret as he ducked and slid on his heels on the wet ground before pulling a SSK-7 from the holster on his thigh and opening fire on the remaining two Klatooinians.
The heat was too much for one Klatooinian as he made his escape by hopping into the thick undergrowth, thorns stuck into his calves as he ran, sweat streaming down his forehead as he tossed his weapon to one side.
“Ack!” The Klatooinian cried as he dropped to his knees and tried furiously to rid the Vibrocombat Knife that protruded from his back. The last thing he probably saw was Juda striding toward him before the Mandalorian took to one knee and viciously gouged the blade deeper into the Klatooinian’s back, until it was up to the hilt. The Klatooinian spluttered and choked on his own blood as Juda promptly withdrew the knife from his enemy’s back and slit his throat with one quick motion.
“Someone get on top of that tank and drop a few Thermal’s down the hatch!” Zandro bellowed over the deafining sound of blaster fire, diving behind a large tree trunk. The turret ripped into the tree and splinters ran down Zandro’s helmet as he turned for another assault…
Callus sighed as the transmission ended. Stupid idiots he thought to himself as he stood why do they always seem to attack when we're trying to rest up? He looked over to Xar.
"Well, looks like it's time eh?"
"mmmhmmm" The Guardian nodded
"Alright, get on the comm and gather everyone, we've gotta get to a rally point. I'm going to see if I cant secure us a transport to one of the ralley areas."
"Right!" Xar bowed and ran off to get the team assembled.
Callus made his way to the hangar and to say the least, it was a mad house. He looked to his right and left, trying to find somone who looked in charge. He looked around and saw several groups boarding the Laat/i gunships loading and moving out to different rally points across the planet of Eldar.
Callus heard somone shouting over the din in the hanagar, "CALLUS! HEY CALLUS!" Callus looked over and saw one of the mecahnics shouting at him from across the hangar bay.
Callus made his way over to where the mechanic was standing. "Yeah cheif, what is it?"
"I got youse' guys a transport of your own nestled nicely in the upper hangar waitin for your orders. 'Figured you'd need it once I heard the scuttlebut flyin' round."
"Thanks cheif, I owe you one for this." Callus grinned at the man, "I've still got a few bottles of that whyrens reserve stashed away..."
"That'll do, just kick those fools arse's eh?"
"Do my best cheif." Callus said heading towards the upper hangar. Callus got his comlink out and signaled Xar. "Alright we've got a transport secured in the upper hangar bring everyone and meet me there. On the double."
Xar affirmed the order and the comm clicked off as Callus made his way to the upper hangar.
Zandro let rip as he spun from the cover of the tree to face the immobile Juggernaut, the surrounding area lit up as the flurry of crimson bolts smashed into the tanks heavily armoured shell. The wet ground made it difficult to obtain a firm stance as he roared while pulling back on his trigger.
With a sharp movement the Soulfire commander threw his rifle across his back and ignited his lightsaber with a click. Sashar had already been deflecting the sweeping attack from the turret with his lightsaber, an orange glow faintly surrounded him as he performed various Soresu defence techniques.
It was quite a spectacle, the commander of Soulfire and his right arm deflecting heavy fire side by side, their lightsabers hummed with every twist and turn as the pair moved as one, fluently aware of each others presence as they missed each other by inches. The droplets of rain evaporated to steam as they caught the weapons that weaved and twirled.
The turret’s fire was repelled by the two, buying enough time and cover for Wolv, who swiftly clambered atop of the Juggernaut before holding out the hilt of his lightsaber, a purple blade impaled the turret, ceasing it’s function.
Kieran joined Wolv on top of the Juggernaut and took to a knee while opening the hatch to be greeted by a surrendering Vodran. Wolv took the liberty to kick the Huttese-mumbling being back down into the tank while Kieran unclipped two Class B Thermal Detonators and tossed them down the hatch before slamming the hatch-door shut.
“Sergeant!” Juda bellowed as he entered the clearing, “We have-” His voice was cut off by the dense explosion from inside the Juggernaut.
“Repeat that?” Zandro said, hooking the lightsaber hilt onto his belt.
“We have compa-” Juda was suddenly yanked to safety as a crimson blaster bolt just missed the young Mandalorian and jutted into the ground. Juda looked up at Sashar who proceeded to release his hand before Juda finished the sentence, “-ny!”
A wave of blaster fire entered the clearing before a powerful crimson bolt crashed into the side of the Juggernaut, sending Kieran and Wolv sprawling to the ground. The strike team were alert within the second and gathered their respected positions. Zandro helped Wolv and Kieran to their feet and took cover behind the powerless Juggernaut, Rho and Etah held their backs firmly against the trunk of a large tree while Sashar and Juda stood behind a tree, entangled with vines on the opposite side of the clearing.
“What did you see, Juda?” Sashar asked in a calm demeanour.
“Around fifteen infantry, all Nikto I think.” Juda said, peeking around the tree to witness a second large bolt crash into the Roller.
“And?” Sashar asked, knowing there was something else.
“And a AT-TE” Juda said, looking down at his boots, covered in mud. Sashar informed the rest of the team over commlink while quickly checking his rifle over…
The Sakiyan knelt within the grass, his heart pounding in his chest, his mind already at work. It was overcast; the dispersed sunlight ran over clouds and made it seem as if the war on the ground paralleled a war in the heavens. The air was damp and smelled like wet soil. There was chirping from birds still in the air, unaware or undisturbed by the dying of men around them. Etah could hear the stepping on larger creatures in the distance, fleeing the noise and disruption of those disturbing their fragile ecosystem. ‘This place would never be right again’ he thought.
The background static from the others thoughts, from the battle meld was something fantastic. Has he been a lesser soldier he could easily induce unwanted feelings, feelings of fear, uncertainty, panic, feelings of indiscipline, luckily he was a Grand Master’s Royal Guard and a combat veteran already. The black Crusader armor the Soulfire Strike team used was a bit uncomfortable, though superbly functional and much more tactical than his bright red Royal Guardian Armor. But that wasn’t the point of the GMRG armor was it? It wasn’t exactly a subtle group.
The Dark Jedi Knight could smell the sticky sweat running down the Nikto soldier’s faces; he could hear their heavy breathing and their hearts beating out of their chest. They were exhausted, they were frightened and they were paranoid, all traits of a combat soldier. The Hutt’s minions however intimidating were all individuals with similar thoughts as other humanoids; no one knew that better than Etah. The Sakiyan would first deliver a grenade or explosive of some kind close enough to their flank to make them feel it, they would clamp down and Soulfire could pick them off at a distance.
The All-Terrain Tactical Enforcer was an archaic piece of machinery from over half a century ago, original meant for law enforcement rather than combat. It was clumsy and could barley move through a heavily wooded forest like the one Soulfire was currently defending. The main dangers were its main weapon, a rather large cannon with balls and distance, and the fact that it could be housing another fifteen land warriors. The best way Etah could think of containing it, is to hit the middle of the cannon and two key front legs with an X-45, destroying its offence and mobility. At that point someone else should pepper the frame with small arms fire to pin the group inside until the fallen AT-TE could be cleared.
The Sakiyan soldier was rather surprised a second later when the X-45 roared into action, taking out the cannon and both leg joints and small arms fire began, simultaneously with a grenade of some sort on the Nikto soldier’s flanks, pining them down. Bringing his E11 up, Etah closed in with the Nikto and opened fire. They had all thrown themselves down in place and were hiding in the tall grass. ‘Two in the body, one in the head’ the Dark Jedi Knight repeated to himself and he fired three times with every step. The Royal Guard was further surprised by accurate supporting fires. The Nikto met their fate with little fanfare.
Then Etah turned his attention to the AT-TE and its crew that was exiting the disabled machine.
The LAAT/i gunship dropped the last few feet in a matter of seconds and the green light flickered on inside the belly of the ship. Orders where spoken silently into comlinks and four armour clad beings leapt from the gunship and rappelled silently down towards the jungle floor. Derik Loran’s descent was quick, the jungle canopy a blur of green and brown as he dropped through the rain. He lifted his legs to cushion the impact then sped off in a low sprint. Suddenly he was in the thick of it; they had happened across a Weequay patrol, blaster bolts sizzled through the rain like angry insects and a chorus of shouts and screams adding the rolling crescendo of the battle that was raging across jungle. His rifle was firm in his shoulder, his breath rasped in his helmet as his eyes darted from in front of him to different pieces of information being fed into his heads up display.
“Take pattern four five, time to play boys and girls” the ex bounty hunter spoke into his comlink and received the customary double click reply from the rest of his squad as they began to fan out and do their work.
Derik’s E15-A pelting out red bolts in a plethora of angles. A group were huddle by the foot of a tree and were taking aim at him. Derik dropped to a knee and sited one bringing his rifle into firing position but his actions were abruptly halted as the first pair of the blaster bolts slammed into his chest, whilst carrying no kinetic force they still sent the Weequay reeling back. Before the dust had settled they were up and moving again, Derik shouting orders into his helmet comlink as his patrol fanned out engaging more silhouettes they glimpsed at through the maze of trees.
They were advancing at a staggered rate, one moment running full pelt under volleys of fire another creeping forward to ambush. Their rate of advance was not their concern it was the casualties inflicted upon the enemy. Derik knew the rules of repelling an invasion, defenders fought primarily with attrition in mind, kill enough of them and they’re sure to give up. At least that’s how they fought when they were winning, as soon as the enemy started to take objectives the inconvenience of having to clear out positions was added to their list of objectives; thankfully the Hutt army had failed so far to gain any substantial footing. Their work was bloody and cold, with not time or desire to take prisoners they left nothing but burnt out mechanic hulks and bloodied bodies in their wake.
“Helluva blast ripped this baby out,” Jarg, his squads demolition expert and fellow clansmen to a trio of Soulfirians exclaimed as he looked at a burning mass of twisted metal.
“Wasn’t us, Soulfire or Prudii?” Reeza, another of the Dxun crew as Derik called them spoke out.
“Kieran,” Flik butted in quickly answering the question, “Soulfire’s hit some big boys.”
“Kier?” Derik spoke into his comlink eager to get an update from his friend, Soulfire was patrolling ahead of her two support squads, their objectives were the armoured vehicles whilst the support squads were there to mop up some of the infantry.
“Yo, busy, talk later, over dinner? Mother fuc-” Kieran came over their squad’s comlinks briefly, raising a shared assumption amongst the squad as to what was install for them up front.
“Right looks like it’s gonna heat up a little bit, what’s Prudii doing?” Derik asked to Flik, his communications expert.
“Checking … engaging light infantry, looks like the most of it is off to our right flank, but their on course to make contact with our main force so not too much to worry there,” she replied after checking her helmet’s HUD for the latest data.
“Check, we’re covering the Mechs pretty well then” he replied, “right boys and girls, four alpha zero nice and hard.”
The patrol burst into life once more, up from their covering positions they began to mobe into a straight line to sweep through the jungle. They cut discerning figures, little light being reflected from their armour, rifles held firm against their shoulders they stalked their way through, the occasional red bolt lancing out from them as though they were one massive machine, operating under complete cohesion. They were encountering resistance mainly from what Soulfire had left behind and from what was being flushed out from other units in operation. They could occasionally glimpse bombers skimming overhead to deliver their payloads, fighters few and far between as most of them had journeyed to the space surrounding Eldar to partake in the battle that was raging above the sky. From the surface all they could see were pinprick flashes of explosions and the occasionally shooting star signifying not the romantic gesture of old but that a piece of debris was burning up in the atmosphere, more often than not that piece of debris was a starfighter.
Derik was contemplating his role in the world as his rifle spat out more death at the dancing silhouettes in front of him. Once a bounty hunter like Kieran now he had turned mercenary, working for Arcona to satisfy a pay check and a lust for action. The transmission had been fairly easy, instead of receiving a picture of his mark accompanied by some useful information as the where to find his mark he was now given troop movements, intelligence and not forgetting orders. Receiving orders had been the biggest adjustment for him, having spent most of his life deciding where and when he was going to do anything, the strict routine of the military had seemed somewhat off putting, but allowances had been made and he was a perfectly content man, doing what he did best; killing for money.
The three units that comprised Soulfire were operating with the killing efficiency of a battalion ten times their size. They shifted through the jungle like wraiths, the rain not impeding them, the will of the Hutts not impeding them, the very flora and fauna little more than cover for the elite commandoes. Sashar felt almost distanced from it all. He knew through the meld that Wolv was loading a ‘chip’ into his PLX-2M and would in less than two seconds fire through the armoured canopy of the walker, destroying the already wounded mech. He didn’t need to warn the others to dive for cover – they felt it too.
As one, Soulfire’s force using element dropped to the floor – all save the heavy Weapons Specialist who delivered his missile straight into the AT-TE. A titanic explosion ripped through the undergrowth, spraying a maelstrom of metallic shrapnel into the surrounding area like an over-sized pipe bomb. Sashar didn’t feel pain through the meld – none of Soulfire had been caught by the blast.
“Up and moving, Soulfire!” Zandro’s voice came through the comm-line, strong and loud.
Sashar was jogging and next to his former apprentice’s side as he switched to another tactical frequency – one used by the majority of Arcona’s ground forces. It was more than a simple invasion – it sounded like a war. All over this hemisphere of the planet there were engagements blossoming out of the jungles and mountainous regions as the Hutts scrabbled to seize as many Eldar settlements as possible. Arcona was valiantly fighting them off, but it seemed like Soulfire was one of the few successful units – all over the channel came panicked cries, frenzied requests for reinforcements, for evacuation, for help.
“How’s it sounding?” Zandro asked in a low voice.
“It’s a mess. Strategy’s no match for momentum, it seems. The Hutt forces are overrunning us…”
Zandro swore viciously, but was curtailed from further comment when Sashar abruptly raised his hand – the universal gesture of asking for a pause. His other hand pressed against his helmet as he struggled to hear something. The Sergeant could feel his former master’s forlorn change in mood instantly through the meld.
“Maku and Prudii are encountering heavy resistance. They’re pinned, have one fatality and two injured.” His voice was all business, relaying information without emotion, though inside he was a rip-tide of conflicting feelings. Zandro paused, raising his fist to bring he rest of his quad to a halt.
“Sashar, take Rho and Juda to Prudii’s position. Get them back and moving and report in again – hopefully you can rejoin the rest of the squad soon enough.
Sashar slammed his right fist against his pectoral armour by way of salute/acknowledgement and gestured at Rho and Juda to follow him. They had a lot of ground to cover quickly if they were to save Kal Prudii.
Soulfire had beaten worse odds than this before and they weren't about to let this one go either. They were nothing but a well oiled machine and Sashar, Rho and Juda knew this and felt the confidence of their training and experience flowing through the Force.
"Alright boys, this is not going to be easy. When we get there, Rho, I want you to set yourself up and start picking off the enemy with your SoroSuub X-45. Pick off as many as you can while Juda and I penetrate whatever defenses they have left. Once you've killed all the enemy forces you possibly can, rejoin us in the thick of it!"
Sashar was giving his orders while the three of them were combining their Force abilities to speed up their pace. Yes, they most certainly had a lot of ground to cover and this was the only way they could cover the standard miles between them and Kal Prudii efficiently.
As they were speeding along it was as if a shock wave of alertness moved through Rho's mind. This was the sort of feeling he had felt on a number of occasions when he and his unit had been in danger. There were more enemies out there and they were swiftly approaching.
"Master!" Rho shouted through their comm-link, "I sense the enemy approaching, dead ahead!"
All three of them came to a dead stop at exactly the same time.
"Yes, I know! We don't have time for this! We have to get to the Prudii now! Let's get this done QUICKLY!" Sashar came back with a hiss.
Rho looked over at Juda with determination and resolve. All he could see was Juda making sure his KX-80 was fully loaded. Rho switched to his silenced BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle which was securely fastened to his back. He took it into one arm and had his Combat Vibro-blade in the other; Juda with his KX-80 in one arm and his Vibro-blade in the other... and Sashar, similarly poised with his silenced KX-80 in one hand and his combat Vibro-blade in the other. They were heavily out numbered, but they were more than ready for this little interlude; this little distraction on their way to the place that really mattered right now.
Just before this battle ensued, Rho had a flashback memory of when he first joined the Soulfire Strike Team. Right from the beginning of his service with them he was more than welcomed among them. He became their brother. Back then, which wasn't really that long ago, it was more of a mixed bag of species on this team. Now though, as there had been some turn-over, he found himself to be the only Nagai... the only alien among humans. There was never a moment in time and service with Soulfire that he ever felt like he didn't belong, not even with being the only alien on the team. None of them ever looked down on him because he wasn't human. This team was elite... this team was family no matter who joined them... and this team was deadly.
"Here they come!" Juda exclaimed.
Fully aware of what was about to take place, Rho turned on the vibration mechanism on his combat knife and tore directly into the enemy Nikto around him. With spilled blood and bowels everywhere... and the Dark Side surging through them, they were happy.
The Nikto charged with a glimmer of hope in their eyes, battleaxes held high above their heads as they encountered the three Soulfire members. They may be disbanded but a long way from ineffectual, the Soulfire troops stood in a triangle formation, with their backs against each others as they raised their respected weapons with a swift efficiency.
“Mir'osik” Juda mumbled as he dropped a Nikto with a solitary shot before taking aim and letting off a steady stream of three rounds at a time. The young red-haired medic couldn’t quite tell if the rain was easing or becoming more heavy as he shook the droplets of rain from his helmet.
Rho loved it, possibly the best marksman in Soulfire he was occasionally scoring two kills with one shot, the Nikto were relentless as they tried to storm the three, the pile-up of blaster-wounded bodies was growing larger.
Sashar flicked his wrist with little effort and his standard issue Vibrocombat knife impaled a Nikto, dropping the poor being to the floor with a yelp. “We don’t have time for this…” Sashar said firmly.
Juda and Rho silently agreed as they shuffled back, still firing their weapons dropping the last remaining attackers.
Blaster fire could be heard in the not-to-far distance as the trio made their way through the moist and dark jungle floor, “Sashar?” Juda asked, promptly jogging behind the Exarch, “Why are the Hutt’s attacking us?”
“Have patience Juda, all will become clear” Sashar said, using the Force to move a mass of twisted vines out of their path, “The universe tends to unfold how it’s meant to”
Juda gave an admirable smile from beneath his helmet, the Exarch’s outlook on life was quite comforting to Juda. Sashar raised a hand sharply and signalled for Rho to set up his post several meters in front before signalling for Juda to follow him.
The pair looked over a ridge to find what can only be described as carnage, the Prudii crew was under heavy attack, but to give them credit they had successfully downed an AT-AP, it’s large turret impaled the ground from it’s heavy fall.
Sashar was right about the two injured and one fatality, one of the team lay strew across the wet grass, his helmet-visor cracked from blaster fire. The remaining Prudii team fought off twenty to thirty Vodrans, Nikto, Rodian and Klatooinian.
Sashar patted the back of Juda’s helmet as he jumped over the ridge and ignited his lightsaber, Juda took to and followed suit.
Juda crouched as he ran and pulled back on his trigger, his KX-80 underarm as the weapon fired a volley of crimson bolts. The young Mandalorian ran and slid on his knees as he reached one of the injured, Juda noticed the universal sign for medicine on the fallen soldier’s breastplate and realised this was Prudii’s medic as he tossed the KX-80 to one side.
The man was gasping for air as he grasped onto his neck, weakly flailing his legs.
“K'uur” Juda whispered while taking off the man’s helmet, he was a human male, a splatter of blood from his neck spoiled his complexion, his hair was dark with sweat that trickled down his chiselled features. Juda gently moved the man’s hand away from his neck to find a piece of shrapnel embedded in his throat.
‘Fierfek’ Juda thought as he opened a pouch on his belt, the man’s wheezing was quite disturbing as Juda took out his laser scalpel. “Okay…” Juda looked down at the man’s tag on his armour, “Davrel, I’m going to perform a tracheotomy. This will hurt”
Juda steadied his hand as he made the first incision between Davrel’s sternal notch and cricoid cartilage.
“Moova dee boonkee ree slagwa!” The voice caused Juda to winch as he turned his head, unarmed.
The Rodian stood chuckling aiming his blaster at the Soulfire medic. Juda raised an eyebrow and shrugged it off before turning to his patient and making a vertical incision dividing Davrel’s strap muscles.
“Keel-ee calleya ku kah” The Rodian continued and raised his voice before taking aim at Juda’s back, the moment felt like eternity as an orange blur soared past in a flash. Juda smiled and took out a hollow rubber tube from his belt, the Rodian’s upper torso slid off the rest of his body and slumped to the ground. “Thanks, Sash” Juda said aloud and wedged his finger into the Prudii medic’s neck who was now going into shock…
He stood firmly over Juda, his feet shoulder-width apart, his shoulders broad, spread apart. His saber was held one handed, but that was virtually impossible to see. He moved with the speed of a flit-gnat, shifting his coruscating orange blade into the path of blaster fire, redirecting it back at his antagonists with a startling accuracy. Juda had only seen the ‘move’ (more a state of mind) a couple of times before, but it was one Sashar was famous for within the clan – His ‘Mighty Guard.’ Nothing could shift him from that spot, no matter how many bolts were sent his way, he always seemed able to redirect them, deflect them or simply move his body around them. As soon as Juda had finished his ministrations to the injured Mandalorian, Sashar was helping to drag the being to the partial cover provide by the smoking wreckage of an AT-AP.
Sashar was relieved to see the squad’s sergeant among the living.
“Copaani gaan?” Sashar asked Maku as he knelt down, reloading his rifle. Juda fired indiscriminately around the leg of the once towering walker, felling another pair of Rodians.
“I thought you’d never get here.” His youth was evident, even over the sounds of battle, of weapons fire, of the screams of the dying.
“Where are they coming from?” Sashar asked snapping another gas canister into his weapon and checking the seal.
“I’ve got Fi checking that now, I’m hoping he can stick a chip into their Shabla drop ship and make them think twice about rushing us again.” The mando accent was strong in the young warrior’s voice.
“Juda, Briike needs you.” Sashar said, noticing another pair of Prudii’s team dragging another injured Soulfirian in to the partial cover.
Rho slid down the slope, deftly avoiding several blaster bolts and landed next to Maku and Sashar.
“It’s not looking good. For every one I fell another three keep coming; we can’t hold them for long.”
“Maku, have they got any SAM weaponry or armour nearby?”
“Not that we’re aware of. It was just this walker and a [Expletive Deleted F-word]load of troops.”
“The troops got anything heavier than blaster rifles?”
“We’ve not seen anything other than blasters or axes.”
Sashar clicked his helmet comm-link back to the general Soulfire frequency.
“Drexel, this is Sashar with Prudii. Come in.”
“This is Drexel, what can we do you for?”
“We have two injured and are overrun. We need immediate air support. Also, if you spot any drop ships on your way in, we’d be much obliged if you could pass on the location.”
“On our way, Prudii. Drexel out.”
Maku grinned behind his helmet, slapped Sashar hard on the shoulder by way of thanks and recommenced fie on the hordes. Sashar’s wrist flicked, pointing over the walker, and Rho lay flat on his belly, taking his favoured rifle down with him, aiming through a narrow avenue of sight to the other side. He sighted a Weequay and took his arm off.
Sashar once again knelt down, switching to a one-to-one channel with Zandro.
“Sarge, confirmed two injured and one fatality. We’re on scene and assisting and should have air support momentarily, but it’s a di’kutla mess down here. How are things at the front?”
“The usual. We met an AT-ST. it met Wolv’s Plex. Not so much an AT-ST any more.”
“Think you can hold on for about ten minutes without us?”
“Does a Bantha sweat in the desert?”
“Gotcha. Good Hunting.”
The air reverberated around the Commandoes briefly, then there was the tell-tale sound of the Laati/i’s composite beam lasers cutting through the trees, the Hutt mercenaries and the soil. It was palpable relief to the Mandalorian.
“Rho, Covering fire! Juda, get those two onto the LAAT/i!”
Sashar and the rest of Prudii charged out into the open, ready to cover their wounded. Sashar’s rifle spat out a torrent of fire as the rush swarmed over them. He heard a roar very close to him, and almost turned in alarm but belatedly realised he’d made it. The Hutt’s slave forces dropped by the tens as he and his apprentices fought back to back, creating a verifiable killing circle between them. The bodies piled high, but then the adversaries were too close for blaster combat. Sashar shoved the muzzle of his rifle out savagely, grinning behind his helmet as the barrel stabbed through a Nikto’s eye. He squeezed the trigger, and let go of his KX-80, instead he brought his knife up into the gut of an approaching Vodran. The being gurgled, but was curtailed as the knife was yanked out and drawn across his neck. The dying being was shoved to the floor, and Sashar’s booted foot was next up, catching the wrist of an axe-wielding Gamorrean. The knife was stabbed up into the snout of the porcine creature, and a heavy blow to the side of the head from Sashar’s armoured gauntlet dropped the heavy being.
Then it was over. The LAAT/i lifted off, and orientated itself vaguely in the direction the unending stream of troops were coming from. The Mass Driver cannons sounded out twice, and an explosion brightened the sky.
“There you go, That’s the drop ship taken care of. Would you like us to cook you a meal next?” the Drexel’s pilot’s said dryly as his gunship turned about an shot towards the Galeres base.
“If you can fit it in – we’re a little busy down here.” Maku responded through the comm-line.
Sashar gestured for Rho and Juda to join him.
“We’ve got to get back to our squad. Shout if you need any more baby-sitting. Sashar said, grinning behind his helmet.
“Di’kut.” Maku responded, but there was no malice behind it.
Rho, Juda and Sashar were gone, ripping through the underbrush with a preternatural speed to rejoin their ner’vod.
The trio rapidly skimmed through the dense undergrowth as they made their way back to their unit. The rain had started to ease as the clouds parted in the night sky, giving clearance to the massive dogfight that was taking place in the skies above.
The trio of Soulfire troops came to an abrupt halt as Sashar looked to one side,
“I sense something, master” Rho said, calmly bringing his X-45 to his front.
“I sense it too…” The Soulfire second in command unsheathed his knife and waded through the thick grass, his arms held beside his waist. Then, he paused for the slightest second, it was oddly silent as Sashar closed his eyes and tuned into the Force for guidance.
Juda raised an eyebrow as he looked across to Rho who was looking down his scope, surveying the area, “I can’t see anything?” The Soulfire sniper exclaimed, becoming ever so slightly frustrated.
“Gah!” Sashar yelled as he viciously slashed his blade horizontally and halted briefly, a static hiss suddenly filled the air as the image of a mech flickered before revealing itself completely and collapsing to the ground with a thud.
“Chameleon’s…” Sashar spoke out as he warily took a step back,
“What’s a Chameleon?” Juda asked Rho as the pair aimed their rifles at the damaged droid,
“Spelunker probe’s, covert mine-laying droids” Rho answered, as Sashar regrouped with his two apprentices “Very sly and sneaky…”
Suddenly the trio watched as eight Chameleon’s revealed their positions and surrounded the troops, the dense sound of their laser cannons charging up signalled for Sashar to ignite his lightsaber and gestured for Juda and Rho to take cover behind the Exarch.
It was an amazing feat of dexterity and proficiency as Sashar blocked the onslaught of blaster fire from the arachnid-looking droids, twisting his lightsaber with such competence that he rebounded their fire, destroying two of the droids.
As the droids closed in on the three Rho spun his rifle with agility and popped at a droid, the crimson bolt smashed through it’s leg before he raised the X-45 and pulled back on his trigger, the bolt connected with the droid and blew a hold straight through it’s sensor unit.
Juda rolled and avoided three blaster bolts that plunged into the ground, sending tufts of grass into the air, the Soulfire medic pulled up his KX-80 and pulled his trigger, ‘click… click’
“I’m out!” Juda cried out as he turned to run, suddenly a Chameleon appeared in front of him and beeped, “Fierfek… Rho, I’m out!” Juda looked back at his fellow team-mates who were busy defending themselves from the vicious droids onslaught.
Juda reached for his vibroblade but was too late as a droid fired out from behind, the bolt reached his calve dropping the young Mandalorian to his knees. Juda cried out in a way that only the adolescent voice could create and whimpered as he got to his feet.
As the droid shot out a flurry of shots, Sashar quickly turned and shot out his hand, pushing Juda to safety using the Force before pulling a SSK-7 that was holstered to his thigh and letting rip…
The Thanatos shuddered under the pressure under the Hutt’s assault, sight from transparisteel windows long ago lost in a torrent of multicolored blasts, vision reduced to nil as immense reactors poured vast amounts of energy into the ancient Acclamator.
The old troop transport had weathered worse, and its sensors were still perfectly functional, cannons never once ceasing their own barrage upon the hostile fleet. Around them, fighters were blown to smithereens, smaller frigates turned to fireballs turned to wreckage, rapidly breaking apart as they entered Eldar’s orbit, miniature satellites of rapidly scattering debris. Energies almost too great to comprehend saturated the planet’s upper atmosphere, sky glowing eerily over the ground battle that raged below.
And, Timeros realized with icy certainty, it was not enough.
Arcona’s new Proconsul stood on the Thanatos’ bridge, unflinching and cold, seemingly unaffected by the ongoing battle. He had long since cast his shadow through the Force, icy tendrils gripping at the minds of the men and women around him, numbing their pain, clearing their heads of all fear and emotion, leaving only one desire within their minds…fight. And fight, they did, with a skill and tenacity the Archpriest had never from them before. They worked as a perfect team, coordinating as never before, without even the slightest hesitation.
And yet, not enough.
Beside the Proconsul stood his apprentice…Dorn. The Rodian had accompanied the Entar on his inaugural inspection of the fleet…and now had gotten in quite a bit more trouble than he had expected. He had taken in it stride however, watching the battle with interest but no fear.
James Lucius Entar, Elder of Arcona, completed the trio. The former starship captain had quickly seized command of the vessel, voice ringing telepathically through the heads of furiously working officers, aided by Timeros’ Battle Meditation in his task. The Archpriest’s fellow Entar had commanded Imperator’s before…the Acclamator had less than a tenth of its volume, and was a transport rather than a dedicated warship. Rusty as James’ skills were, he was more agonized over the Thanatos’ lack of serious firepower than he was with any problems with controlling it. He fulfilled the task with vigor and excellence.
And it was still not enough.
For even as the Hutts swarmed around the Acclamator to die by its turbolaser batteries, the ship got hit by as many weaker guns. Already, localized shield failures had happened all over the ship, and black streaks marked were turbolasers had struck, vaporizing chunks of durasteel at each strike. The shields had been raised again and again, circuitry rerouted and power conduits restored. But still, the ship was slowly edging towards its end. And end that, at the moment, seemed far closer than any end to the hordes of lesser ships the Hutts employed.
The Thanatos, Timeros realized, with a clarity that was almost maddening, was going to be defeated. Not yet, and perhaps not for hours…but its eventual end would come.
The Proconsul did not bat an eyelash at the consideration, instead watching the Hutt fleet swarm closer and closer like some threatening, nightmarish predator, ready to open its maw and devour the Thanatos.
With a small notion, the Archpriest sent his fellow Entar a message. The next moment, he felt the other’s power join his own, to be marshaled, sequenced and unleashed upon the enemy fleet in a telepathic scream…it was an empty gesture, a final statement of the inevitability of their situation before the might of the Hutt’s fleet…but for a moment, the creatures controlling that fleet seemed to paused in fear as they all heard, with crystal clarity, the Proconsul’s voice.
Oh, just piss off won’t you?
With his adrenaline pumping and the Dark Side surging through his body, Rho was slowly backing up to Juda's position while dodging and returning fire with his X-45. He had his Silenced BlasTech E-11 Blaster Rifle strapped securely to his back and he knew that if he didn't get this gun to Juda at this point, he would be as good as dead.
Rho was in the habit of conserving his ammo. He didn't shoot unless he knew for a fact that the round would connect. This came with the massive amounts of marksmanship training and the trial and error that landed him in the same situation as Juda on a few different occasions.
"Juda, are you ok?! I'm on my way to give you my E-11! Rho blared into the comm.
"I... I... my leg hurts, but I think I'm alright." Juda came back. "I could use that E-11 right about now!"
At that very moment with one swift reflex, Rho turned around and shot off 3 rounds toward the droid aiming at Juda. One shot shattered it's main sensors and the other two shots rendered the main blasters useless. Augmented by the Force, Rho sped toward Juda and lanced the E-11 at him. Juda, reacted accordingly and let loose a plethora of blaster fire and knocked the droid off its feet.
Sashar began covering Rho and Juda while Rho began treating his leg.
“This is going to have to do for now, Juda. We must rejoin the rest of Soulfire NOW.”
Just as Rho finished that statement, Sashar came over the comm. “We have to go! Juda, are you going to be able to continue at full speed?”
“I don't think so, Master, that blaster seemed to exceed the capabilities of the self-healing mechanism in this armor. My leg is okay now with the first aid, but my Armour is constricted.” Juda replied.
“Alright, this is a simple. Rho and I will combine our Force powers to augment your speed and your comfort as you go along with us and we'll look after your armor when we get back with the rest of Soulfire.” Sashar continued. “We have to get out of here, we have no time and we must get back. On three, we're just going to leave these things behind.... one, two, three...........
You could see inside the giant Hutt’s mouth through the smile on Decca’s face, her plan had worked exactly as she had wanted. The Jedi were pinned on Eldar and no doubt would be left licking their wounds, whilst she began her conquest of Selen. Her only concern was the losses she had incurred on Eldar, her armoured division had been decimated. Fortunately she had been prudent enough to hold off from deploying the bulk of her infantry. She had been admiring the view of her newest world when the ship’s captain interrupted her.
“We’re encountering resistance, but our attack is pressing on,” the Klatooinian reported.
“Good, withdraw our forces from Eldar, I think it’s time to secure our newest acquisition,” she chuckled.
Command Centre, Eldar
“What!” screamed Strategos, his face contorted in anger. The officer leapt back in fright knowing well what an angered Dark Jedi was capable.
“S-sir, it’s true, reports have just come in,” he stammered.
“Then this attack is a feint?”
“A holding manoeuvre, they attack Eldar, we send our fleet here to reinforce the Thanatos whilst they slip in behind, Selen reports land assault and space blockade, the stationed fighter squadrons are running hit and fades against their troops.”
“Strength?” he asked fearing for the worse.
“A frigate and then mostly corvettes and fighters, and a land force similar to what we have here.”
“But Sir, we do have some good news, it appears the land force and space fleet is withdrawing, we have scattered reports of troop ship take offs and the 28th infantry has radioed in having destroyed one whilst loading on the ground.”
The steward of Arcona knew he had to act quickly, he had been backed into a corner unknowingly and every move counted. He had but one saving grace; by withdrawing his forces here he could retake the territory he had lost on Selen.
“Right order our special forces to load up and withdraw, we’ll send them up to the Thanatos and have them hitch a ride to Selen once their fleet has withdrawn.”
So that concludes what I have dubbed as Act I, so as you may have grasped we’ve been fooled. Selen is in a spot of bother and it’s up to us lot to mission on over and sort the whole kafuffle out. It’s going to be pretty messy down there as you can expect them to have penetrated quite far. Now, remember time frames for hyperspace there people and let’s have some fun.
Right buckos the grading done and here’s your winners:
Juda, excellent writing from you, I’ve enjoyed every one of your posts and there is little that is wrong for it (save for a few bits of syntax and grammar) the only thing that’s lacking is description. I felt your posts lack the ability to pull the reader in, try telling us what’s going on in the thick of it, where you are, what it looks like etc. But remember, as it’s an RO you need to find the fine line between too much description and bland blow by blow writing.
Rho, you’ve got great potential with your writing. However, one thing that comes across strongly throughout your posts is the lack of personal identification with it. You could place anyone’s name into your posts and they’d turn out pretty well what you need to do is stamp your character on it, thoughts and feelings are important to put across as are those of your comrades, let’s work on that in the coming phase.
Well, you scraped in, only just. It’s hard to comment on a writing mentor but what I thought is that you could do with putting a little more description and feeling in it, your normal prose is a little more engrossing that what I’ve seen so far, so show these younger chirins how an old grandpa does it eh?
Third level crescents should be going out in the usual fashion, congrats all and one.
Callus received the news of the new threat as he was briefing his team on the mission on their way to aid the Soulfirans. A quick word to the pilot and the transport changed direction. Those plans got scrapped and a new assault was needed. The Soulfirans could figure themselves out.
"Right, team, we have a new objective. Selen has come under attack in what is thought to be the main attack, Eldar was a decoy and it worked brilliantly. We have been tasked to meet up with the Thanatos to be taken to Selen for a ground assault. Xar, JScumm, you two will be taking us there." The rambling paused for a second for Callus needed to draw a breath and catch up with himself.
"We have been informed that a ground force of roughly the same size as the one here is on the assault, and has taken a few key positions. We must aid the security forces on Selen to ensure it is not taken. We are to aid in the defense of the Citadel. If this falls before we get there, then it will be our responsibility to get it back.
"We cannot fail. It will be our deaths before we let these beasts take our home. We are dark jedi and we are the best."
"Sir," Xar jumped in, "am I to assume I will be taking us there?"
"You are. And you would be right. I want us there thirty minutes ago."
Xar pulled the ship into clear space, dodging as best he could the volleys of the space fight taking place. It was carnage, bits and pieces from a wild assortment of ships littered the darkness drifting effortlessly in no particular fashion. Once clear of the debris the Guardian entered the co-ordinates for Selen, then sat back.
"Sir, we'll be there in about fourty minutes, the distance is too short and risky to attempt a hyperspace jump." Xar informed his Master.
"That'll have to do." Callus replied, "Everyone, get your heads together."
“Sashar, come in. What is your squad’s status?”
Zandro compressed the trigger of his rifle once more, the scarlet bolts it spat out destroying another droid before it had even registered that the Warrior had come out of his cover. He jumped back behind the heavy tree he had hidden behind before and tried to ignore the bolts that were slamming into it as the droids returned fire.
“We have Juda injured, but nothing life-threatening. We need to rendezvous, where?”
Zandro bit back a curse as he calculated the best rendezvous spot for the squad, something that took a surprisingly short time.
“You remember that big droid mech we gutted? Meet there, then we can sort out this mess and what to do next.”
A beeping came from another channel on his comm, and as he flicked the switch in his helmet with his tongue, he was greeted immediately by his Consul’s harassed voice.
“All Arcona forces, withdraw with all haste and make your way to Selen. All ground troops, get onto the Thanatos and prepare for immediate fighting once we make it to Selen.”
Switching the comm over to the frequency used by all three of the Soulfire squads, he reloaded his weapon as he spoke into the helmet comm.
“Soulfire, we are heading out to the dead mech we gutted earlier to rendezvous. Derik and Maku, get your squads to your LAAT/I’s and make for the Thanatos. We have been outsmarted and Selen is under heavy assault. We’ll meet on the ship and organise what to do next.”
Switching once more to another channel, Zandro allowed himself to slide around his cover and trigger off a few more shots before darting away back towards the new rendezvous point.
“Drexl, Soulfire requires immediate pickup at the co-ordinates I’m sending you. Repeat, pick us up ASAP. Sarge out.”
Typing the co-ordinates into his gauntlet datapad and sending them to the LAAT/i, Zandro stretched out with the Force to try and find any danger ahead, but nothing sprang at him. Within minutes his team had reached the rendezvous point and was greeted by Sashar and his team. Walking up to his former master, the Sith nodded his helmeted head before removing the helmet.
“How is he?”
Sashar took off his own helmet and shook his hair, sweat spraying in all directions as he turned to look at his newest apprentice.
“He’ll be fine, we just need to get him some treatment. We have a ride coming?”
Zandro smiled as he heard the familiar sound of their dropship approaching.
“We do now. Soulfire, let’s get onboard and get the hell out of here.”
The team scrambled onto the craft and allowed themselves to relax for the first time since the conflict had begun.
This rest is only temporary, but any rest is going to do us some good.
Taking Sashar aside, he looked the other man in the eyes and spoke quietly so as not to be overheard.
“Sash, when we get back to the ship I want you to co-ordinate the team and get them prepped. I’m going to go ahead and scout around in one of the Phantoms. We need accurate and up to date Intel, especially if we are to make an insertion onto that planet. I like to think that I haven’t lost all of my skills, and I’m used to handling the Phantoms, so I’m going to do it. Make sure Juda gets healed up and make sure they pack a lot of ammo and as much explosives as they can carry. This will not be over quickly, so I need them to be prepared. Got it?”
The other man nodded and slapped him on the shoulder plate, his glove clamping down as a small grin crept onto his face.
“Of course Zand’ika, you can count on me.”
“I know Sashar, I know. I wouldn’t trust anyone more.”
Nodding, the Obelisk walked off to tend to Juda and left Zandro alone with his thoughts.
Well, at least those Hutts are as crafty as they say. Should make it all the more satisfying when we crush them.
He looked over at his injured team-mate and felt anger welling up within him.
And crush them we shall. Revenge is a bitch, and they are about to know that pissing Arcona off is not a good idea.
“I will kill everyone of those slime balls for this, master” Juda said as he looked down at Sashar who was helping the adolescent apply a bactapatch to his wound.
“I praise your enthusiasm, but things could have been far worse” Sashar said while standing up, “You could be in the Prudii medic’s position”
Juda was silent as he gave a nod, the sweat glossed his porcelain-coloured skin as he received a nutrition bar from Officer Dentil, who proceeded to hand them out to his fellow members, Juda might not have been hungry but was always taught by Soulfire to eat when he could, as they never knew when their next meal would be.
The young Mandalorian looked around the Infantry Gunship interior as he leaned against the wall for support, Rho was busy packing ammunition and canister’s into his belt, Kieran was staring absently into space and Zandro was quietly talking with Captain Terk Marjain.
Sashar stood with a certain abundance, his arms held behind his back and his eyes shut. Juda couldn’t help but stare, his fellow Ner’vod and master gave off a compelling and fascinating aura. Sashar opened one eye and caught Juda staring before turning to face his apprentice,
“How’s the leg?” The Exarch asked,
“Stings a bit.” The young Mandalorian said devaluing his wound.
“Hey, Jud” Kieran shouted, obviously snapping out of his absent state, “Chicks dig scars buddy” The Jedi Hunter winked and gave a cheesy grin, Juda couldn’t help but giggle at the statement and began to check through his medical belt, making sure everything was in order.
Juda smiled as he came across the newly received medals he was showing Kieran earlier in the morning, when the sun glowed and before any of this started.
“Approaching the Thanatos, commander” Captain Marjain exclaimed, to which Zandro spoke;
“When we dock, you will be following Sashar’s orders as I have certain business to attend to, my absence won’t be any longer than necessary”
The Soulfire team didn’t question the statement, nor think about so, instead they checked over their weapons, awaiting landing…
Callus watched as the doors on the side of the shuttle opened. Callus jumped out of the shuttle as they were rocked by turbo laser fire a large crater was created out infront of the landing ramp.
Callus lept out of the [Expletive Deleted]tle and powered on his lightsaber, and he lead Bas-Tyra through the oncoming fire. Callus swung his blade to deflect a blaster bolt as he continued forward toward the main opposition force. He dropped behind a tree and the team grouped beside him.
"OK! Xar, Keno and Draco, you guys go and find what's left of Soulfire." Callus ordered the 3 dark jedi. :Aidyn, Dorn and Jaxion. You three cover them and then follow."
"What about you?" that was Xar
"Me? I'm going to make sure no little punks pick you off while you're doing what I tell you. I'd never forgive myself, atleast untill I got a new team. But there would be a 10 minute period where I would be just incosolable. Now GO!" Callus orded with a devilish grin on his face.
The team executed his orders exactly as they were trained to. Callus watched their progress and he peaked over the tree and got a view of hostiles training their blasters on the team. He lobbed a thermal detinator into the mass of enemies. Their was an explosion as bodies were launched into the air.
Callus barely got back behind the fallen tree as blaster fire rained down on him.
"Mabye not the best idea."
‘I should have seen this coming’ Etah silently lamented. His rage was obvious, but it wasn’t readily apparent whether he was angry with himself, the Hutt’s or a bit of both. The Dark Jedi walked down the corridors of the Thanatos absent mindedly stroking the lightsaber hanging from his belt. He was visualizing the battle to come, trying to chase his anger away or perhaps to focus it. He would find his way to power on Selen and there he would claim his revenge and reclaim the honor of the Sakiyan people and the d’Tana Consortium.
The reason Etah believed he should have seen this coming is that the Antartis rebels used a similar tactic. They made a faint on the political capitol of the planet Sakiya, but sent the majority of their forces against the military center which was a continent away. In fact it was Etah’s recon team that detected the forces moving on the military center, convinced the Sakiyan elders to release the strategic reserves and coordinated the response. It was a resounding military victory against impossibly odds, in fact it was exactly like the situation they now faced.
The Sakiyan Royal Guard stepped onto the drill floor where the members of Soulfire had gathered. He wore his red Royal Guard armor instead of the black crusader armor he had been requested to wear. He felt many eyes on him as he came to stop in front of Sashar and Zandro, who were both staring daggers at him. His feelings where so intense, so close to the surface of his mind, that it was easy for the two Equites pick up on. They understood and when they went back to their pre-combat inspections like nothing was wrong, every one else began to focus at the matters at hand as well.
The change was not a refutation of the Soulfire Strike Team, their philosophies or their methods. This was about Etah’s own empowerment. The battle team leader was no longer a member of Soulfire and what’s more, he was no longer a soldier. He had been a soldier, he loved being a soldier, we was proud that he had been a soldier, but now he was a Dark Jedi, he was a warrior and he was a fencer. That was his way to power, that is what was going to make the difference on Selen. Simply put, the rifle was his past and the lightsaber was his future.
Sashar finished going over one of the soldier’s equipment and walked over to Etah. The Exarch looked the Dark Jedi Knight straight in the eye; the Sakiyan’s feelings were so potent that Dash would be able to sense them even if he wasn’t force sensitive. Dash reached up and grasped Etah by the shoulder reassuringly. The Dark Jedi Knight slapped his elder on the shoulder playfully as if to say everything was alright, before the two went back to overseeing PCI’s.
Certain energies and feelings rushed through Juda as he stood with his Soulfire brethren, he could feel wave after wave of virile pressure surge through his mind, through his body, his blood. It agitated him, no, it irascibly inflamed him.
He was fuming, mentally and physically as his clenched fists trembled almost inconceivably, perhaps the reason to these feelings were uncertain to the young Mandalorian… he had no reason, he just wanted to crush something, someone.
Juda looked the glossed-red armour up and down as the Dark Jedi Knight approached the Soulfire Strike team with a smug grin, reality was becoming blurred as Juda glanced away, trying his best to focus.
Sashar grasped onto Etah’s shoulder as he glanced at his youngest apprentice, something wasn’t quite right. Juda received his Master’s stare with a timid smile before looking away apprehensively and rubbing his open jaw with his hand.
Sashar’s hand fell from Etah’s shoulder as his concern grew,
“Juda?” Sashar said before the unexpected occurred,
Juda suddenly bolted and took hold of Etah by his armour, his taut grip snapping half of the Dark Jedi Knight’s breastplate. “Are you trying to get us killed?!” Juda roared while using his bodyweight to shake the elder Jedi.
Etah sneered as he upholstered a SSK-7 and nudged the barrel into Juda’s throat,
“You’ll be picked off within two minutes of landing!” Juda bellowed while being hauled away by Kieran’s shoulder, “I’m not willing to die today!” Juda’s fading voice bawled as he was carried into a turbo lift by his Ner’vod.
The remaining members of Soulfire looked from Etah to the turbo lift, as did many other onlookers, not knowing how to react to the adolescent’s tantrum…
“Dare I ask?” Kieran said while leaning against the turbo lift wall, arms crossed.
“Gah!” Juda yelled as he punched the wall.
“I see your leg’s much better now” The Jedi Hunter said, trying to lighten the situation. Juda didn’t answer, instead he held tight onto the fist he used to previously violate the wall with.
“Where’s this lift heading anyway?”
Sashar had just stepped away as Etah was surprised by young Juda quickly moving toward him with something close to a scream. As the young Mandalorian grabbed his armor the Sakiyan soldier slipped his side arm out and pointed it at the young mans throat purely out of reflex. “You’ll be picked off within two minutes of landing!” the young man screamed. “My mission is not the same as yours young Guardian” he answered, “I’m not willing to die today!” an enraged Juda screamed again as he was being pulled away. “Death is the only lasting peace a soldier will find, welcome it” the Dark Jedi Knight looked the teenager in the eyes as he was being dragged into the lift.
“He’s right, Etah. Your time with Soulfire is up. We have our own agenda to take care of. If you’re interested in glory seeking, then go with the main force – Assist the Consul in the Citadel conflict. I think Bas-Tyra is leading a contingent of Arcona’s ground forces.” Etah nodded, half-expecting it.
There was a flurry of activity, and a Laat/i set down near the Soulfire Contingent – it had the Consul’s colours painted on. Sashar jogged over just as the hatch doors slid open and Strategos emerged, flanked by a pair of Arcona’s ‘Sentinels’ (mundanes trained to combat force users and be the honour guard of the consul) and one of the Commanders of Arcona’s ground forces.
“Consul.” Sashar said by way of greeting, slamming a clenched fist against his own breastplate – the Mandalorian salute.
“Sashar. How fares Soulfire?”
“Mission accomplished. 3 Injured, one dead. Zandro has also temporarily left the squad to do a little recon of the Hutt’s forces.”
“You suffered less than the majority of our forces. I hope you gave them hell for your man.”
“You can count on it, Consul.”
“The Citadel is both their and our main objective. Whoever holds the Citadel controls the system. I will be leading an all-out assault to secure the Citadel with a taskforce of our ground forces.”
“What do you want Soulfire to do?”
“Deny them their beach-head. They will have taken the Estle Spaceport by now and be using that as a staging area. I want you to take all of Soulfire to the spaceport and re-take it. Destroy it if needs be, but I’d rather it was retaken intact.”
Timeros appeared and nodded his welcome to Strategos.
“Consul. With your permission, I have prepared a brief plan of battle for the Selen conflict.”
Strategos offered Sashar a private smirk, one that spoke volumes on his feelings of endless ‘briefings’ and other mundane paperwork, but nodded.
“Lead on, Tim.”
Sashar let the clan’s leaders go, instead heading back to the Drexl, where Soulfire was waiting. He made a gesture with his hand to draw the others in. Noticeably absent were Kieran and Juda.
“Boys, we’ve been given a task. We’re to take Estle Spaceport, deny the Hutt forces a staging area. We’ll be inserted by the Larties, but due to the SAM sites the Spaceport has, they’ll be dropping us off and heading back to the Thanatos – so no air cover like we had on Eldar. Our main objectives are the larger hangar bays, the SAM sites, the air control centre and the cargo terminal. Prudii, you boys will be taking the North SAM Sites so that we can prevent any more troops of theirs hitting the ground. Hukaatir, you boys will be handling the Cargo Terminal. We,” Sashar looked at the primary Soulfire Strike Team, the force users “Will be handling the Larger two Hangar Bays and the Control Centre.”
“Do we have any other forces on call once we’ve secured the Spaceport?” Derik Loran, Kal Hukaatir’s Sergeant asked.
“Once we’ve taken it, the Thanatos will use Estle Spaceport as a landing and staging area, so it’ll mostly be a mopping up operation after that. I want you all fully locked and loaded. We depart as soon as the Thanatos completes the microjump.
As one, Soulfire raised their fists and slammed the outstretched appendage against their breastplates. They were eager to get back into the fray.
Zandro missed the Battle meld. His boys had started finishing each other’s sentences lately, and Soulfire’s collective efficiency just kept improving. The TIE Phantom’s controls were familiar to him, but he still felt disjointed. Something wasn’t right.
The sleek craft rose from the decking of the Thanatos and shot out into the darkness of space, briefly alighted as a departing Hutt Corvette exchanged broadsides with the massive Acclamator. It seemed like the majority of the Hutt flotilla was leaving Eldar – their heading; Selen. With grim resolve, the young Warrior turned his Phantom to pursue them.
After all had been said and done it was time to get down to business. Sashar glanced at Rho implying that he should look after Juda until he feels alright and everything had calmed down. Then he headed off, feeling confident in Rho's abilities, to meet the Consul's Laat/i.
They were finally getting closer to getting into the REAL battle on Selen. The Hutts had been asking for it and they were soon going to get it. Rho's emotions were running wild right now due to a number of things. Right now, the most pronounced emotion was his anger that Etah had pulled his gun on Juda, a fellow Soulfirian. If Etah couldn't control his reflexes enough NOT to pull a gun on a team member now when we weren't in battle, then the question was: "could he be trusted on the battle field?"
One phrase that was drilled into his mind during his Dark Jedi and Soulfire Training kept going through Rho's mind as he stood there waiting for his turn to board the lift. "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." If even their own team couldn't get along in a time like this, then they surely will not win this war.
It wasn't that Rho disliked Etah. In fact it was the exact opposite, because they were family... they were d'Tana. Although, when it came to war and honour, in times such as these, there was nothing more important to him than doing things well and doing things right.
With that in mind and his anger in check, Rho walked up to Etah and looked him straight in the eyes and being the same height he came to about two inches from his nose and said, "Who do you think you are, Etah? You think you're better than the rest of us coming in here with your red GMRG armour?"
"Mind your business, Nagai. You...!" Etah began, but was interrupted. His anger was on edge and you could see his hand twitching towards his SSK-7. There was history of Etah losing his temper and taking it out of his fellow clan members, but at this moment, Rho was not going to let that happen.
"Shut up and listen!" With more force than anticipate, Rho grabbed Etah by the breast plate and pushed him up against the wall. "We, as soulfire, invited you to join our team and you accepted. We don't care whether you think you're better than we are with your GMRG armour... Armour that will be seen for MILES, might I add..."
Etah's upper lip was quivering in anger and with one swift motion upwards with his arms he knocked Rho's hands away from his armour and grabbed him by the throat. Just as quickly as that happened, Rho twisted Etah's arm behind his back and pushed him away from him and Etah tripped over a clan member's equipment bag and landed on his face.
Rho didn't mean for this to turn into another internal battle. Surprisingly, Etah got up and adjusted his armour and walked slowly towards Rho and came just one inch from his face. "Look, Etah, this is exactly the type of behaviour that is unacceptable in our team. I refuse to partake in it any longer." Rho said with resolve.
With that statement made, and with Etah's ever present anger, he took his gloved hand and wrapped Rho in the face. With a slight stumble backwards... "It's your choice, oh prideful and arrogant one. If you are with us, you will use our armour. If you choose not to wear the Soulfire armour as agreed upon before the battle began, you will fight alone." Rho understood that Etah was a rank higher than he, but he had his place on the Soulfire Strike Team and even at one point held the position of Sith Flight Leader before things had been reorganized; So, he had enough authority to look after his team, even if it meant confronting a family member for the good of the clan. "Etah, please, remember what we've learned together: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the Dark Side, and we kill or take captive, if necessary, every enemy to make them obedient to Arcona." This was an unofficial statement made during their training; nevertheless, it meant everything when it came to working together as a team.
With that said, Etah growled and turned away from Rho and began gathering his equipment for boarding.
The Sakiyan re-holstered his side arm and he began to run through his own pre-combat inspections. He idly puffed on his cigarette, the smell that exuded from the crudely hand rolled joint made it obvious it was not tobacco. As he was pulling on the straps to his ruck sack he looked over at his cousin, who still stood nearby. “There are some things you gotta learn kid. First of all, sometimes speed; momentum and fear overcome all the pretty tactical stuff, the Hutt’s minions know to fear this red armor.”
He looked at the Nagai again, still puffing on his joint. “Reflexes develop from muscle memory, muscle memory is created by doing something a million times. You want you muscles to remember the action so that when your minds not working, your body still will. Those reflexes will save your life.” The Dark Jedi Knight finished and threw the ruck on his back. “Third, whether I fight on this team or not, isn’t your call, its Sashars and he already made it.”
“Forth, I was already asked by Strat and Timmy to lead up a section defending the citadel” the Sakiyan stopped long enough to take a deep drag on his joint. “Fifth, keep your head down, don’t hesitate and remember you have the rest of your life to make your next move in combat, cause if you go too slow or go too fast it won’t be very long. Don’t be a hero and know that you haven’t seen the half of it yet.” Etah breathed all the air out of his lungs as he walked away.
Even the slightest drop in the ocean creates ripples
Sashar quickly gestured for the two Mandalorian’s to pick up the pace as they approached the Laat/i gunship, Kieran grinned as he jumped aboard and received his helmet from Rho. Sashar swiftly grasped Juda by the back of his neck before holding a hand up to Captain Marjain and turning the young medic around to face him.
“I’m sorry Master, I just snapped” Juda said sheepishly, “I’ll apologize to Etah onboard”
“Etah is not coming with us on this one” The Exarch said looking down at his porcelain-skinned apprentice. Juda didn’t look up, he tried with all his might to sense his master’s feeling through his voice but to no avail.
Sashar hopped on board the Drexl and outreached his arm to Juda, “I expect you to clear your feelings before we land on Estle” Juda grasped hold of his master’s hand before being hauled into the ship, “Understood?”
“Yes Master” Juda said in a cracked adolescent voice before taking hold of the support rail. As the ship’s hatch-doors began to slide shut with a hiss Juda looked out onto Thanatos’ bay, the young Mandalorian caught a momentarily glimpse at the brightly-red clad Etah who was watching from the other side of the bay.
Juda squinted his eyes and as they came into focus he realised Etah was making an explicit gesture with his hand… ‘Thunk’
And then the doors shut, Juda stood contemplating the image of Etah in his head before a crooked frown crossed his head, “Shabla chakaar”
Derik and Kieran were standing side by side watching the spectacle before them unfold. The site was truly awesome, Juda, several years and ranks junior than Etah was standing in his typical defiant stance whilst Etah brooded debating his next move. Derik glanced at his friend and did not need the force to tell the Mandalorian was angry, his body language said it all.
“Gonna break that up then?” he asked.
“Not unless I have to, Juda’s wrong to take him on, but his point is valid. I’m more miffed about the fact we’re argueing like this, yes tension and all that but come on we need to be united if we’re gonna stand a chance against anything,” Kieran explained.
“What would you rather have them do?”
“Forget the whole thing, it’s not important, Etah’s been reassigned thankfully as he does look like a di’kutla bullet magnet. You know as well as I do we’re Soulfire not glory boys, glory just comes with the territory,” Kieran chuckled.
“Yes, I hear your ego powers the Thanatos,” Derik grinned.
“Heh, there’s no harm in knowing we’re good,” he grinned back.
“Well, you have a point, we’re a team here, Jedi or not, Soulfire or not, we still gotta work together, and if someone doesn’t wanna play then it’s not gonna be a fun ride for the rest of us.”
“My sentiments exactly, and now we’re getting the first phase of it, toys out the pram sort of thing.”
“Us lot getting shot.”
“Sounds like fun then, hopefully Sarge’ll sort it out or Sash,” Derik sighed.
“Or maybe he’ll catch the message, otherwise I’ll just catch him on his own and privately explain it to him.”
"Looks like we're shipping out, buy you a drink tonight," Derik said slapping his friend on the back.
"Yeah, and you, happy hunting," Kieran grinned back before running off to his squad.
Ok guys, don’t wanna see this, play nice.
Etah, no colour please it hurts my eyes and really really doesn’t make for a good RO, remove it from your posts please, secondly, part of my grading criteria incorporated tactics that you would use, by turning up in red you’re scoring zero. This isn’t the GMRG, you’re gonna stand out like a soar thumb and get everyone around you shot, it’s not gonna instil fear in anyone if there’s one of you, if it’s gonna do anything it’ll single you out as the only GMRG there and thus anyone with a grudge is gonna be hell bent for killing you and whoever is with you. Juda, Rho, cool it guys we're in this together and whilst we may have our problems let's leave them off the field ok?
Can we have some fun and put this behind us, thanks and happy hunting.
On board the Drexl Rho took a minute to gather his thoughts and feelings.
"Where does he get off calling me kid?!" Rho muttered under his breath. "I'm five years older than him!" Rho continued to fume. "I'm going to let this go...." He was interrupted.
"Rho, I'm going to tell you the same thing I just told Juda... You WILL collect your feelings before we land and control them so they do not, I repeat, do NOT control you."
"Yes, my Master." Rho nodded his head in agreement. "I've already done so."
With the Force's Dark tendrils flowing through him, fueling his energy, the anticipation was almost more than Rho could handle. The feelings of ripping through Hutt scum was one that truly satisfied. The ship had almost landed on Estle and the doors were about to open.
"You know what to do, men!" Sashar yelled out with as much authority as if he had been the Sergeant himself. Either way, Soulfire would never think of questioning the appointed authority. "We are a small contingent, but we will destroy this scum! This will be instant battle. I will communicate your orders after we've touched ground, so listen carefully!"
"Juda, you ready for round two of this wretched bloodbath?" Rho asked with electricity almost literally blazing from his eyes behind his Scout / Sniper helmet and his hatred of the Hutts being most obvious in his tone. It was more of a rhetorical question because he gave no time for Juda to answer before he continued, "Remember to conserve your ammo this time. Try not to fire unless you are sure it will connect with something that will die."
Sashar then spoke through the helmet comm. "OK boys, ready your primary weapons. We're about to show this garbage who's boss!"
The ship doors opened.
As soon as the Drexl’s hatch shutters opened, Soulfire Strike Team was on the ground. Juda looked up as the Laat/i spun and hurtled into the distance while the remaining two gunships whizzed forward carrying the Prudii and Hukaatir team’s.
The team swiftly moved as one while taking refuge behind a few empty durasteel crates, Juda flinched slightly with every step, his only sign of irritation from his blaster wound. Sashar peeked over the top of the hanger’s crates before crouching down to his brethren who covered him in a circular huddle.
“There’s around twenty targets patrolling, were going to sweep this hanger before moving into the next” Sashar’s voice was absolute, assured. “From that point we can breach the Control Centre.” Sashar’s fore fingers flicked, indicating for Rho to take a position behind a deactivated Septoid droid. His fingers swiftly gave more orders as Wolv and Kieran took left flank.
“Stay close to me” Sashar said confidently as he took a momentary glance at his youngest apprentice and his wounded leg. With that the first steps toward retaking Estle had begun, Rho took the first kill, you could almost follow the crimson bolt with your eyes before it made impact with a Klatooinian’s neck, almost completely decapitating him as his cumbersome head fell to one side of the still standing body, hanging by a few tendons and skin before the corpse hit the deck with a heavy thud, alerting other’s in the vicinity of Soulfire’s presence.
‘Their panic sends them into disarray’ Juda thought as he took his brethren’s advice, aiming with careful consideration, ‘More so them, than me’
Sashar stormed the hanger, his fearless impression cried out with years of hardened Mandalorian training. His KX-80 carelessly blasted a Nikto in his thigh, dropping the unfortunate being to his knees, a quick flick of Sashar’s wrist ignited his lightsaber and amputated the Nikto’s head from his body, silencing his pain.
Wolv took on three at a time, his roar struck fear into the hearts of cowards as his blade viciously slashed at the face of one Klatooinian before rotating the weapon between his fingers and gouged his attacker’s solar plexus in a ferocious manor.
Kieran swung the butt of his E-15, connecting with some ill-fated individual’s face with a crack that somehow echoed over the hanger’s sound of blaster fire and screams. The Soulfire demolitions specialist proceeded to beat the living Force out of the individual with the butt of his weapon… the screams would have curdled your blood before Kieran traced a bolt into his victim’s chest.
I hope Sashar is taking good care of the boys. I really wish I was there with them, but I know that he is more than capable of keeping them safe enough.
His hands danced over the controls of the TIE Phantom as Zandro felt the familiarity of the flight wash over him. He had once commanded a squadron of TIE Phantom’s when he was still loyal to the Emperor’s Hammer, and so knew the ins and outs of the craft as if it were an extension of his own body. This, augmented by his Force powers, made him one of the deadliest TIE Phantom pilots in the Clan, although his modesty kept this fact under wraps most of the time. His ship began to heat up as he slipped into Selen’s atmosphere on the opposite side of the planet to where the Arconan fleet was approaching and within seconds he was in the atmosphere itself. Flicking a switch that hung by his right ear, he initiated the cloaking device that made the Phantom such an expensive ship. Knowing that he was now nigh on invisible, he brought his ship around to the right and headed towards the location where he could feel the familiar presence of his squad. The minutes stretched by as Zandro probed with the Force to try and get a feel for any approaching threats, but he couldn’t find anything in the uninhabited area that he found himself flying over. He began to feel that he was approaching his squad’s location, and saw that he was also approaching the Estle spaceport. Scanning the facility with his targeting computer, he let a grimace spread across his face beneath his helmet as he saw that his next few minutes would not be the safest or most fun in his career.
Great, SAM sites. Guess I’m gonna have to knock them out so that Soulfire can get some more air support if needed.
Powering up his weapons and placing his finger firmly over the firing stud, Zandro let out a long breath to calm himself down before flicking the cloaking device off and firing his lasers, the crimson beams jetting out from the triple cannons attached to his crafts wings and scorching the armoured bunker that housed one of the SAM sites. He flashed past the emplacement as it came alive, it’s missiles missing the juking craft as Zandro went on the defensive before spinning the craft up into a tight turn that brought the site once more into his targeting brackets. Arming a missile, he fired the projectile at the SAM site just as it began to fire at him, the return missiles missing the Phantom as Zandro’s missile flew towards the emplacement and impacted, sending fire and shrapnel cascading into the air as the defensive structure was destroyed. Levelling out while still evading fire from the remaining two emplacements, the Sergeant keyed his comm on and turned it to the Soulfire frequency.
“One SAM site down. That’s two more for you guys to get. Need some help anywhere while I’m here?”
Blaster fire sounded over the comm as Sashar began to respond.
“Good job Sarge, we are being pinned down by some di’kut in an AT-AT. Anything you can do about that?”
Zandro let a feral grin erupt onto his face as his heart pounded with the mixture of adrenaline and another worthy challenge.
“Consider it done. Watch and learn boys, someday you might be this good with a ship.”
He cut the comm off and focused on the task ahead. Bringing the target up on his screen, he wheeled his ship around and into a corkscrew manoeuvre that dodged several more missiles from the opportunistic SAM sites, which swung around behind him to follow him with the other missiles that had been fired at him. However, instead of being afraid by the amount of destruction the missiles could bring if they hit his craft, he realised that they could instead help him destroy the AT-AT.
Oh, they will love this, especially Keiran.
He spotted the walker ahead of him and about a click out, and knew that he would be there in ten seconds. Within two seconds the vehicle had realised that he was incoming and it’s cumbersome head turned towards him and spat fire at his craft, but Zandro easily avoided the shots, his craft barrel-rolling down to avoid the first salvo and then jinking back up to it’s previous position as the next flurry of shots came towards the TIE. Then came Zandro’s riskiest trick as he diverted all power from the shields to his engines so that the distance between himself and the missiles began to stretch.
One wrong move and I die. Just like old times.
Forcing the nostalgic thoughts aside, Zandro let the force flow through him as it guided his hands, delicately sending his craft between the bolts that were being fired towards him as he closed in on the walker. The distance closed rapidly, and Zandro held his course, aiming straight towards the centre of the vehicle’s body before at the last moment he sent his craft spiralling between the walker’s legs and then back up to it’s previous heading.
If I’ve screwed this up, I’m so dead. But at least it’ll be quick.
The second after he had passed the AT-AT seemed to fill an eternity. He could see his troops gaping open mouthed up at him as he flew and felt a rush of smug pride in his own ability as he realised he had finally managed to show them what could really happen when he was in his element. Fear didn’t factor into his mind, and he knew an instant later that his plan had worked. The SAM sites’ missiles slammed into the AT-AT in a rippling wave, slashing through the armour and utterly devastating the walker as it was ripped apart by the missiles explosive payloads. He wheeled his craft around and pointed it towards the Spaceport, preparing to land as a message came through on his personal comm. A flick of his tongue activated the device and his Consul’s voice echoed through his helmet.
“Zandro, we need you back on the Thanatos now. We have a mission for you, so get up here so we can try to resolve this mess. Strategos out.”
Bringing his craft around and pointing it towards the stars, he activated the ships comm once more and opened the Soulfire channel.
“Looks like they need me again. Sashar has command until I return, so don’t let him, the Consul or me down. Good hunting Soulfire, show those worms why we are the best.”
Bringing the throttle up to full, Zandro’s craft shot towards the command craft above, his mind buzzing as to what his new mission could be.
* * * * *
The silence was absolute as Soulfire watched their Sergeant put his TIE Phantom through moves that would have made some of the most experienced dogfighters in the galaxy take note. Never before had they seen him fly in combat, with the sole exception of one individual. Sashar looked on with amusement as he watched his old apprentice destroy the AT-AT with a much flashier tactic than was necessary, but the pride that he got from watching it was immeasurable.
“Fierfek, where did he learn to do that?!”
Sashar looked over at Rho and let a low chuckle erupt from his lips.
“You think he got into the GMRG just on his looks? No, he was a pilot before he was a Jedi, and a damn good one too. Just goes to show, the GMRG can’t all be useless can they?”
Murmurs spread through the comm channel, but Sashar was proud to see that neither Rho nor Juda said anything about their recent falling out with Etah. However, his moment of pride was over, and he knew that they needed to get moving once more so as to get the Spaceport for the Arconan forces as soon as possible.
“Enough chatter, move out Soulfire. Let’s make Zandro proud and prove that flashy flying skills aren’t the only thing Soulfire is good for.”
With that they moved onwards, their thoughts once more focused on the mission as their Sergeant wondered about his own.
The Hangar, still being pelted by shards of what had moments ago been a captured AT-AT was a mess. Ahead, there was a Gallofree transport that was pouring out troops and mechs. Another AT-AT was ambling down the large ramp. There were already troops scrambling for the hangar’s roof controls. They wanted to make sure no more air support came Soulfire’s way.
“Sashika, we’re humped.” Kieran said quietly.
“Pretty much. Rho, there are some Mercs on the other side of the Hangar with PLX’s. Take them. Juda, Kieran, circle around the edge of the hangar and get a charge on the Gallofree’s engines. I want that thing to be a crater in five minutes. Wolv, with me.”
The hangar was easily five hundred meters long and three hundred wide, with a variety of tiered levels and a mezzay of smaller freighters and transports disgorging troops. Rho crouched down, snapping the bipod legs on his rifle’s barrel out and took aim across the cavernous hangar. There were so many targets – he’d run out of ammunition before he ran out of possible headshots at this rate. Grimly, the Nagai got to work.
The pair of Mandalorians didn’t bother to ask questions – they knew Sashar had just given them a suicide mission – and they also knew that he had an idea. He signalled for Wolv to follow him, and jumped down to the lower level atop an old Corellian YT-2400.
The Battle Meld hummed. Sashar emanated calm resolve – clarity only granted to seasoned war veterans and experienced force users. He was both. Kieran was, as ever, grim, determined and constantly aware for even the smallest details to give him a possible edge. Rho was angry. The Nagai wore his heart on his shoulder – and in his mind. His self-righteous incensement from his brush with Etah still lingered within him – he’d doubtlessly take a while to cool down. In the mean time, his anger was giving him added focus in popping Hutt sycophant’s skulls with unsettling accuracy. Juda was excited, still unused to the noise of war – he’d experienced plenty of combat in his short lifetime; all Mandalorians had, but he was unused to the large-scale conflicts Soulfire had recently found itself thrust into. Nevertheless, he ploughed on, letting the reassuring certainty of the Battle Meld urge away his misgivings. Lastly, Wolv was strangely quiet. He felt… content, but reluctant somehow. Sashar couldn’t pin it down, but didn’t have time to dwell on it.
He and the heavy weapons specialist hopped from tier to tier, barely engaging the forces splayed out between them – they’d just get needlessly bogged down in a fire fight when the problem of the AT-AT got even more pressing. The titanic walker was as they moved spraying fire at Juda and Kieran as they dove behind the partial cover offered by a stolen Sentinel Shuttle.
Sashar frowned. The pair of commandoes didn’t stand a chance of making it through that firestorm again without being picked off by its heavy cannons. It was time to return the favour. He raised his arm, stretched his fingers to form a blade and pointed at the AT-AT, just visible over the level of the sunken Hangar bays designed for fighters and small transports.
Wolv immediately took up aim with his PLX-2M and braced the heavy weapon against his shoulder. There was a second for the missile to acquire its positive lock; then the weapon discharged. The rocket soared through the air, eating up the distance before exploding against the side of the command module, barely one hundred meters away. The ‘head’ was engulfed in the explosion and for a second thought he’d got lucky, but the walker kept plodding on further into the hangar. It did however turn its attention to Sashar and Wolv.
The pair landed on the bottom level and most of the mercenaries had the common sense to back away.
“Give me the Plex.” Sashar said quietly to his companion, who frowned but took the weapon from his shoulder and handed it to the acting Sergeant.
“Thanks” he said, hefting the weapon over his shoulder by its strap “Circle to the left, and when I say, fire a missile at the neck. Keep firing until the head falls off or it kills you or the invasion is over.”
“Your words are an inspiration to us all. One more thing, I can’t fire without the Plex.”
“You’ll get it, I’m just getting you a decent firing position.”
Sashar grinned, yanked his saber from his belt and ran to his right, waving the saber frantically. A trail of fire tracked him, lancing the ground he’d occupied just moments before. Wolv mirrored the manoeuvre but he presented a pretty low priority threat without a missile launcher and without a visible saber. When the walker had to start turning on its front two feet to get a decent angle on the Mandalorian, Sashar slowed. He threw himself into a huge cartwheel and whilst doing so hurled the PLX-2M with the aid of the force across the Hangar to the heavy weapons specialist, who was now kneeling down by a pair of crates.
Sashar’s saber worked into an intricate Soresu defence just as a pair of heavy blasters unleashed their salvo at him, and he was badly shaken by the impact of the beams against his blade. The Mandalorian fell to the ground, his saber thrown aside. Glaring at the huge walker, Sashar unclipped an EMP grenade from the back of his belt, and pitched the ‘nade straight at the walker’s head. The grenade exploded, sending a trial of electric blue arcs scuttling across the surface of the behemoth. Its head was frozen in place.
Wolv had caught the PLX and taken aim, and let loose a missile straight at the exposed neck of the mighty juggernaut. It hit, ripping open the Achilles heel of the AT-AT, but it still did not fell the walker. It did however free up the mechanism. The head swung around to face Wolv.
Time seemed to slow. Sashar had a brief vision through the force – one he knew he could not prevent. The Walker’s two main cannons sounded out one more time, just as Wolv fired at the already splintered viewport. He surged the force through his body and threw himself upwards. The PLX weighed him down, so he let the heavy weapon, but wasn’t quite fast enough. One of the laser blasts evaporated the lower portion of his body. His legs were sublimed, and the rest of his body, what remained from above the solar plexus, hit the floor, charred, barely holding together, ashy flakes falling from the NC armour.
Sashar opened his eyes, and saw the vision happen for real. He stood less than twenty meters away, completely unable to stop one of his ner’vod from being roasted alive. There was a brief flicker of finality in the force, and then nothing. Their collective mind was permanently less collective.
The missile hit the viewscreen, smashed clean through, and exploded. The head was torn apart from the inside out, and the walker stopped mid-step, the troops contained within trapped high above the ground.
Sashar didn’t care. He drew his lightsaber and threw himself towards the next tier, blood-drunk, hating himself for putting Wolv in the line of fire, hating the Hutts for having the audacity to attack their system, hating the force for letting it happen. He was going to make things die.
This day had been nerve racking to Dorn. He had heard reports of the attack and of the actions that were to be taken. He was contacted by Xar'Khan to get ready to meet the rest of the team for a debriefing. After the debriefing and they landed on Selen, he felt as if he hadn't gone through this before.
Callus gave orders and Bas-Tyra was into the action. Dorn had gone through similar things but he couldn't fight then but since he has learned. Dorn got his E-11 and went with Jaxion and
Aidyn. Xar, Keno, and Draco were a good distance ahed and pinned down.
"Can either of you two see where the supressing fire is coming from?" the Rodian asked the other two.
"No, I can't. It looks like it is coming from a position we can't see," the Arkanian said.
"I can't either. We need another position to see from," the Zabrak told the other two.
Callus noticed the lead group pinned and the second group looking around. He hurried to them to see what they need help with. When Dorn noticed Callus coming and he then told the others.
"What's going on guys. They need help," Callus told the group.
"We know, we are looking for a better position to see from," Aidyn told the Tetrarch.
Callus looked around and found a spot, "How about over there." He was pointing at some trees laying on the ground that was just barely big enough for three people, but it worked.
"There he is!" Jaxion said pointing towards a droid hiding partially behind a barrel.
Dorn didn't wait for them to say anything or get their sights on the thing, he just fired at it. He had to fire a few times to destroy it. He didn't like using blasters.
Callus called everyone over to him because there was a transmission sent to him.
"Anyone! Anyone please help us! Too many droids attacking. We are overwhelmed." It kept repeating and repeating. After that a new message was sent to all of them. It stated that all Soulfire members are okay and in battle now.
This happiness was short because fire burst out from where they were headed. Dorn got hit in his left shoulder and knew it wasn't bad. He found cover and asked the others about them. He was the only one hit, his luck.
"You going to be alright, Dorn?" Callus asked him.
Dorn nodded and put his E-11 away and got out his sword. He was going to wait until some of the others joined him. He was ready to fight with his sword, like he was hoping to do. He was losing the pain of the shot and his feeling of nervousness and was gaining excitement and enthusiasm for what lied ahead for him. He loved close combat and was ready to dive into the mess of enemies. He noticed he got a message on his datapad. It read:
Dorn, I told Strategos I was going to go down there and help y'all since you are my apprentice. Tell Callus and I'll be down soon enough. Timeros
"Callus, I just got a message from Timeros, he is coming down to help us," Dorn told Callus.
"Okay. We will need the help," Callus said.
“Wolv!” Juda screamed in that cracked adolescent voice, the sound of rushing water filled the young Mandalorian’s ears as he scrambled halfway across the hangar. Blaster bolts soared past the medic and perhaps his only reason for survival at this time was because Kieran reluctantly took chase and opened fire on his attackers.
Juda reached the half-incinerated body and nearly chocked, even through his Soulfire helmet he could smell the violent stench of charred flesh as he knelt before his Soulfire brethren and struggled to grasp at his morphine needles in the medical belt buckled around his waist.
“Ack!” Juda called out as he was suddenly dragged backward, a strong hand clamped taut onto the back of his armour. A quick glance revealed Kieran to be the owner of the hand, and fired out with his E-15, gripped firmly in his free hand.
Kieran finally managed to drag the young medic to cover behind the fallen AT-AT,
“What did you do that for!?” Juda exclaimed, trying to escape his Ner’vod’s grasp. “I could have saved him!”
“There’s nothing left to save!” Kieran replied, embracing Juda from a knelt position making sure the medic wouldn’t dart out recklessly, it was almost as if the pair were comforting each other. Juda was silent as he held onto Kieran’s arm that wrapped around his neck. “Come, focus on the now. We can’t afford another loss”
With that Kieran took to his feet and yanked Juda to his, “Here, watch over me” The demolitions specialist said as he handed his E-15 rifle to Juda. The young Mandalorian held the weapon in his right hand, the butt supported by his shoulder and took a momentarily glance at his left hand, mimicking Kieran’s rifle with his KX-80.
Kieran slapped Juda’s helmet playfully and pointed, “Watch over me”
The two then departed from their temporary shelter, Kieran crouched as he ran never much more than a couple of yards ahead of his Ner’vod who annihilated anything in their path with the two assault rifles. Kieran gave a fleeting look at his master, Sashar whom was giving the enemy the definition of anguish with his lightsaber.
Kieran didn’t look up after that, he focused all his energy on the task in hand and took out a canister of shaped explosives, shoving it under his arm he reached for some wire and bit off a length with his teeth. Juda pummelled various targets as he protected Kieran, who busily prepared an explosive device as they ran, a marvel in it’s own way.
The pair were caught off guard by the sudden appearance of ten-fifteen Nikto, who all huddled around the Soulfire pair, every one of them wielding blasters…
This is our way, to talk the way of the business, so keep your head tight cause you’re about the witness, the hard way…
Juda presence exploded into the battle meld with shock and alarm wrenching Kieran’s attention away from his work to the sudden appearance of the enemy. Ingrained reflexes had him rolling away from his position before he even registered what was going on. He knew that the pair were in deep trouble, at this range even with their armour that many blaster bolts would make short work of the pair. Kieran leapt up from his kneeling position and ran at the assembled group whilst opening himself the force.
“In close so they can’t use the blasters,” Kieran shouted through is comlink whilst pouring confidence through the meld they shared.
Juda was on his tail in an instant, rifles clattering to the floor barely audible over the crescendo of blaster fire. The Nikto opened fire, their bolts flying wildly overhead and then trickling to a stop as the pair of Mandalorians came to close for them to shoot.
Kieran turned to the right as he came to his first target, his vibroblade in hand slashing out at hip level, arterial blood splattered his black armour as he moved on. The Nikto dropped to the floor screaming behind him as the Mandalorian fought on. A thrust with a viscously long blade came for his head, Kieran ducked under the blade turning his back to him whilst reaching up to grab hold of the alien’s wrist. He tugged down hard using his shoulder as a brace and neatly snapped the bone at the elbow, his blade wielding right arm stabbed back into the soft flesh of the Nikto’s gut. Kieran caught the falling blade neatly in his hand in reverse grip and moved on. He caught a glimpse of his ner’vod, his leg spinning out in a jaw shattering roundhouse kick to drop an assailant attempting to bring his blaster into firing position.
Without the distance between them, the startled group fired widely, bolts hissing by harmlessly whilst others connecting with friend rather than foe, it was a disaster for the group. Picking a pair of Mandalorian Jedi torn up about the loss of a comrade was not the greatest idea the dim witted captain had come up with. Kieran was fighting on, his neat black armour now pot marked with blaster bolts and stained with the blood of his victims. He rose his foot of the floor to block a low sweeping kick at his legs. A swift punch to the face with his right hand stunned the Nikto who then dropped to the floor clutching his throat in an attempt to stem the blood gurgling out from the vicious wound. Kieran took two blows to his leg mid stride; he stumbled and fell, unable to regain his footing on the body strewn floor. He found himself staring up at the ceiling watching blaster fire crisscross its way above him. The ugly head of a Nikto loomed above him brandishing his rifle. The Mandalorian rolled over and leapt up from the floor tackling the alien to the ground. Kieran raised his black gauntlets and proceeded to beat the alien’s face into a pulp and then moved on, knowing full well that there were plenty more lives to end.
The hard kids…
The hate steamed, it boiled and it erupted onto the focal point of Sashar’s lightsaber. The blade span and twirled in a hypnotic dance to the crescendo of screams and blaster fire that echoed throughout the great hangar. The acting commander was angry with himself; he’d lost one of his boys, it hurt even before he had time to think about what had happened. His focus for the moment was the assortment on Hutt minions surrounding him. He grinned widely, drunk with hate and power which fuelled the force.
His blade whirled round, cleaving a Weequay in two before the poor creature had a chance to blink let alone realise he had stepped too close for safety. He turned the blade in his hand, deftly sending a pair of bolts back to a blaster wielding Nikto sending him sprawling to the ground with a whimper. But before the body had hit the floor Sashar was in the midst of a trio of beings and he began his dance.
The battle hardened Arconan grasped the skin cells of a Weequay through the force, pinning in him in motion and stopping the blaster carbine from coming into line. He brought his lightsaber twirling round in a overhead blow slicing a Nikto in two, blade still spinning he stabbed behind him, impaling the frozen body behind him. His finishing move, the final step to his dance; he span his way left, blade spinning round his back deflecting bolts widely before searing through the flesh of the last Weequay. Sashar reached out and dragged the quivering body closer to his face so that the alien would see the seething hate deep in his eyes and so that he would know the punishment for killing a Soulfirian and that he would have his revenge.
The hard crusted triple team boys…
The cargo terminal was thick with black acrid smoke, the sharp stench of seared flesh and the throat tickling rasp of ozone. Derik laughed as he pumped round after round into a charging Vodran who obliged by crumpling to the floor in a heap. From his peripheral vision he saw the squads communication expert at work. Flik had her blaster locked tight into her shoulder and was sending scarlet round after round into the sea of moving flesh that swam before them. It had been hard work so far for the team, resistance was strong but then they were a team of commandos trained by Jedi commandos and Mandalorians, no task was too big for the boys of Hukatiir.
We are dangerous…
Zandro ran into his Consul’s office with his helmet tucked under his right arm and his hair still plastered to his forehead by sweat. He merely nodded at his boss before waiting for the briefing to begin, knowing full well that the time for pleasantries was over and every second wasted here was another where his brethren would be under fire and in danger that he could not aid them in.
It hurts to be this far away from them, but that’s how it is.
“I’ll make this quick Erinos, but I’m not going to glaze over the details. The mission we are giving you is as near to a suicide mission as Arcona has, and we have chosen you because we feel that you are up to the challenge and your unit can functional successfully even in your absence.”
Zandro was unsure whether to see Strategos’ last comment as a compliment in his skill at training the unit or a barb at his inadequate command skills, but he ignored the debate and focused on the Consul once more, waiting expectantly.
“Your mission is to infiltrate the main Hutt ship, find their leader, and kill them. Seems straightforward, but it won’t be. Whatever equipment you need should be available however, so just name it and we shall get it to you, should it be viable for us to do so that is.”
A plan was quickly formulating in the Sergeant’s mind and his raised his hand as he began to tick items off on his fingers.
“First, I need to keep use of that TIE Phantom. Secondly, I’m gonna need a flight of four other TIE’s, your choice on the type, to run a diversion for me. They will answer to me until I get on that ship. Thirdly, I’m going to need your assurance that the shields will be down, or you’ll be looking for a new Sergeant. Can you get me all that?”
The Consul had let a smile spread across his face as Zandro was listing his needs, but fixed a more serious look when he had finished.
“Consider it done. Now, get going. The quicker this is done, the more Arconans we can save.”
Zandro threw his leader a quick salute before leaving his company and heading towards his quarters. He had some special weapons to pick up before he headed out, but he knew that time was of the essence.
Zandro felt like a veritable walking arsenal of destructive potential as he ran into the hangar and leapt up to the entrance to the TIE Phantom’s cockpit. Ducking inside, strapping himself in and dogging the hatch closed, he ran a quick pre-flight checklist as he mentally checked out the extra weapons he had with him. Along with his standard issue Soulfire equipment he had a pair of Westar-34 pistols attached to the small of his back along with some extra grenades which were pressed into any pocket he had remaining, except for one pocket in which he had stored an electronic keylock and a sensor scrambler, a device her fervently hoped not to have to use. He brought his craft up onto its repulsortlifts and kicked the thrusters, jetting the fighter out into the vacuum of space and the midst of a space battle. He flicked the cloaking device on just as a wing of fighters pulled up behind him in an escort formation. He activated his comm and set it to the frequency his Consul had given to him.
“Ok guys, I need you to attack the far side hangar bay of there main ship. The shields are down, so just keep them looking that way while I slip in.”
They acknowledged his order and sped off, their lasers already blazing as they approached the Nebulon-B Frigate that housed the Hutt leader. All attention was focused on the quartet of fighters as they sprayed fire across the frigate’s hull and caused little gouts of flame to spiral out, only to be extinguished as their supply of oxygen was stolen by the vacuum surrounding the craft. Seizing his opportunity before it was lost forever, Zandro steered his craft forward and aimed for the hangar bay, praying that its door was still left open and found that luck was still with him as he steered the cloaked craft into the hangar and set it down as lightly as he could, breathing a sigh of relief at the emptiness of the area. He quickly unstrapped and leapt from his craft, E-15 rifle pressed to his shoulder as he moved towards the door which his HUD showed led to one of the main corridors which ran between the hangar and the bridge. He started up the corridor and had made it twenty metres before his first victim stumbled across his path, a Nikto that ran from a side room and was sent hurtling off his feet as three bolts from Zandro’s blaster lifted him off his feet as they crashed into his chest. As soon as he had fired the bolts, he knew he would have a fight on his hands, but he did it anyway. He had hoped to get further into the ship, but he would have to make do. He was backing up towards the hangar to reassess the situation when he got a message from Sashar on his helmet comm. He flicked the message on with his tongue and listened to it as he backed up.
“Zandro, this is Sashar. We have a man down. Repeat, Wolvie is gone. Our mission is going well apart from that, but you needed to know. I’m sorry.”
It took several seconds for the words to sink in and for their full impact to hit, but when it did the words shook Zandro to the core. His mind seemed to fill with an incessant buzzing as memories and thoughts flashed through his mind. He could feel anger welling up inside him, and knew no inhibitions about tapping the well of power and using it to crush the insignificant worms underfoot. Slinging his rifle across his back in a move that felt so practised it was more natural than breathing and grabbed his lightsaber from his belt in the same swift movement. He thumbed on the violet blade and let a maniacal laugh spurt from his lips as he ran forwards towards the enemies that were now streaming into the corridor to face him. His blade darted out and cut clean through the first Weequay as Zandro powered his way forward, his blade dancing and darting as he fought, laughing all the time as he moved forwards. His muscles seemed to run on a mixture of adrenaline and black rage as his lightsaber seemed strike of its own accord, leaving severed limbs and broken bodies as the Soulfirian moved towards the bridge. Time was insignificant, only the progress he made and the lives he took seemed to break through the blood-red haze that floated through Zandro’s mind, clogging his thought processes and feeding his anger, empowering him and making him feel invincible. The blows he received in turn didn’t factor into his mind as he kept moving, his wounds stinging without being felt by him, until suddenly he felt himself falling. He couldn’t feel any pain but also found that he couldn’t move, and that the clouds were clearing from his brain, only to be overpowered by something else.
The last thing he realised as the blackness defeated the red mist in his mind was that he had failed, and that he had been captured, and that his life was now being held by a Hutt. His only benefit was that he was unconscious before the anguish of his failure kicked in. The surrounding enemies grabbed his unconscious form and dragged it over to the bridge which lay a mere thirty metres away, their mistress waiting for them as she watched the battle unfold out in space.
Dorn watched as all the others pulled out their close combat weapons. Callus being the only one with a lightsaber told everyone to get behind him on their trek to the mob of enemies to help protect from the blaster fire. News had came in of a planned attack on the main ship and also of more killings. These Hutts were going to really pay for all the damage they have caused. Callus made the motion to start to move.
The enemy weren't expecting them to advance. The Hutts were struck with fear as they noticed the revenge in their eyes that has been caused to be there. The Huttese begged for forgiveness and surrendered. They were speaking in non-Basic, and Dorn thought he heard it as an accent of Rodese so he tried to communicate.
"We surrender! Don't hurt us!" the first, and biggest Hutt, yelled in the strange Rodese.
"You messed with the wrong people, Dark Jedi are not an enemy to be reckoned with," Dorn spoke back.
"Should we strike?" asked Draco.
"Couldn't wait?" asked Timeros.
"Don't hurt us. Please don't hurt us," the Hutt begged them again, still in Rodese.
"What should we do, master?" Xar-Khan asked Callus.
"Well, These guys have killed many Selenians and Arconans. I don't think they deserve to live but I'm not sure about it. Timeros, what you think?" Callus responded.
Out of nowhere droids started firing at them and in an instant the two blades of Timeros and Callus came to life as they blocked the blaster bolts back at the droids' control panels. The Journeymen attacked the Hutts because the Hutts were reaching down to pick the guns, they dropped, back up. After the little skirmish everyone was more exhausted, this had been a very nerve-wracking day for everyone. Dorn then turned his attention to his wound, for now.
"You alright?" Timeros asked him.
"I'll be fine master," Dorn told Tim, as he grimaced at the pain he felt when he applied the little bit of bacta needed to the wound.
After a few hours blaster fire started going off, in the distance. They completely forgot about the help message that was recieved. They dashed off to the location of the fire and saw stormtroopers fighting some more Hutts and droids, approximately 30 in total.
"Um. Those stormtroopers are going to need help," Xar said.
"Yeah they will," Callus responded to his apprentice.
As they rushed over to help them a ship landed in front of them and the loading ramp slowly lowered. Since the ship was facing the other way they were going to be fine, for now. They saw 5 Hutts and 30 droids step out and unleash their fire upon the stormtroopers.
This was a shambles. The demolitions team was still pinned down by hordes of Hutt foot soldiers, Wolv was dead – his body burned beyond any recognition, and Rho…
“Rho, aim for the fuel lines to the cells over in the north-west bay of the Hangar. Juda, Kieran…hang on.” Sashar barked into his helmet comlink in-between bouts of redirecting blaster fire back at its source.
There was the distinctive whump of the Sniper’s X-45 discharging, and a moment later the fuel tanks in one corner of the massive bay went up in flame. The shockwave tore through the hangar, scattering the freighters and troops foolishly taking refuge near the tanks. Sashar planted his feet firmly onto the ground, hardening his resolve with the force and let the blast wash over him, watching the Hutt sycophants get tossed about as if they were leaves in the wind. A blast of intense heat followed the initial shockwave, so hot that Sashar could feel it even through his armour. Fire swept over the commandoes, knocking Juda and Kieran from their feet, safely under the worst of the heat blast.
From his position on the floor, Juda saw a figure in black walk, no, stalk through the flames, the orange wreath of fire seeming to move around him, never directly touching him. In one hand there was a deactivated lightsaber, the other was empty as he stopped by the medic, offering him his hand. He’d definitely calmed down.
Kieran was up and prone in a second, his rifle sweeping around the area for any threats, but the fuel tank’s explosion seemed to have given them a temporary reprieve.
Sashar’s arm pointed at the transport, his fingers shaped like a blade, then he clenched his fist. His ner’vod nodded and sprinted the short distance to its engines and he spent a vunerable few seconds planting the specially prepared charge, which had somehow managed to avoid combustion during the maelstrom of fire just moments ago.
Kieran must have wrapped his body around it to prevent it from getting caught in the blast. Brave man.
“We set?” the acting Sergeant asked.
“Tick tick boom, Sashika.”
“Rho, prepare an exit for us; we’re heading back up.”
“Copy that, Sarge.”
The trio of Mandalorians made short work of jumping back up to the top level, and Kieran couldn’t help but grin as his depressed the firing stud on his remote detonator. Moments later, Soulfire’s remaining troops were reunited.
“Okay lads, let’s make Savric proud. The command centre is our next objective.”
“What about the other hangar?” Kieran asked as he reloaded his rifle.
“I’m not taking is into another hangar when there’s only four of us. We were lucky to get out with only one fatality. We’ll try and deal with that remotely, or call in air support or something.”
“We do have two other squads…” Rho reminded Sashar, who nodded in return.
“If they complete their objectives then we’ll call on them. Until then, we’ve got a fair bit of distance to cover before we hit the command centre, and I’m in a decidedly bad mood.”
The bridge shuddered with every salvo of energy that the ship’s guns unleashed. The black canopy of space was awash with red and blue streams of light crisscrossing amidst the grey clouds of ships and in the corner of viewport the island dotted ocean’s of Eldar could be seen. The atmosphere was dotted with fiery streams as falling debris succumbed to the forces of friction. Commander Valk stood patiently at the centre, reading information from a datapad in his hands, the latest report on the skirmish with the enemy fleet. A Corellian born human, who unlike his kinsmen liked to know the odds he was against, a calm calculating man he had served Arcona with distinction in his time.
The Hutt flagship had begun to list to port, her drives failing and the planet’s gravity pulling her ever closer. The combined fire power of the cruiser and the Eye of the Abyss had damaged her systems beyond repair and Valk was calmly waiting for it to start sprouting escape pods for his fighters to sweep upon, there would be no survivors here today. He was aware of the plight of the Soulfire sergeant all to well and had no intention of putting him in harms way he had enlisted the help of several Jedi fighting in various squadrons to seek out the location of Sergeant Zandro, disabling a shuttle in transit would be the easy part in the fight in the skies.
“Commander, we’ve picked up signals giving the evacuation order on their flagship,” an ensign called from over his shoulder, still staring intently at the sensor screen before him fully focused on his job.
“Good, began tracking their escape pods, chart those that head for the planet and relay the information to our ground forces, have several of our squadrons sweep the ones being recovered but their priority remains the fighters as before and for god’s sake keep an eye out for any shuttles,” Valk replied to the bridge, various beings began talking furiously into comlinks and punching buttons on their consuls to relay the orders and Valk let a smile spread across his face, “we’ve done well here today lads.”
“Hukatiir to command,” Flik spoke after switching over to the secure line.
“Command here, sitrep,” asked one of the faceless voices she spoke to.
“Cargo bay secure,” she stepped on the chest of a whimpering Weequay before sending a single bolt to melt his terror stricken face, “just mopping up.”
“Copy, new orders coming through, you’ve got two infantry platoons giving you support on the second hanger bay, Soulfire has business else ware, Prudii will join you as well, happy hunting,” he explained quickly his words weighted with urgency.
“Received, and in transit,” she replied before switching back to her squads channel, “we’ve got a party, main hanger, Prudii’s joining the game as are two trooper platoons, so one each to take the second hanger, look’s like Soulfire’s got a date so we’re up.”
“You heard the lady let’s RV with those pretend soldiers and bag some more wets,” Derik’s voice came over the channel and the squad instantly went into action.
Dorn picked his way through the remains of the droid platoon, amidst them lay the bodies of the fallen Hutts and dotted throughout those troopers that had fallen to the enemy’s fire. Their objective had been accomplished but the fighting had been fierce. He found his way to his master’s side eager to find out what was install for them. The revered Dark Jedi was deep in conversation with one of the troopers, clearly relaying orders from command, or as Dorn was betting, Consul Strategos. Tim glanced up briefly and motioned him closer.
“… forces from the Citadel have been routed and are currently retreating,” the voice of Strategos caused Dorn’s heart to leap, “it’s the bulk of their ground force, we’ve denied them their landing zone and now we can trap them against the citadel. We’re routing several battalions to you and you are to make your way to the citadel and engage them.”
“Understood, we’ll rendezvous en route to save time, we must prevent their army from dispersing,” Timeros replied.
“Agreed, Strategos out,” and the link closed.
“Well,” Timeros started, raising his voice so that the assembled Jedi within his proximity could here him, “let’s move, there’s a whole load of bad guys just waiting for us to ruin their day.”
Dorn grinned, his master inspired courage in him and he gripped the stock of his blaster rifle, he would definitely ruin someone’s day.
An escape from the predicament Sashar was in came to him with the sound of his Consul’s voice.
“Receiving you,” Sashar replied.
“Decca’s on the run, she’s going dirt side in a troop transport and by the looks of it Zandro is in there to keep her and a bunch of nasty droids company. You’ve got a rescue and an assassination rolled into one. She’s headed into one of the cities in the northern hemisphere so it’s urban deployment. I want him back and her dead, I’m sure you’ll be happy to oblige, I am aboard the Drexl inbound on your location to take you there,” and the link closed, Sashar sensed Strategos was to busy for lengthy conversation, and besides, with the prospect of recovering one of their comrades time was being wasted.
“You heard him, mop this lot up and bang out,” Sashar spoke quickly, emphasising urgency through the force and hiding his relief from not being forced into a position of losing another ner'vode.
Sashar searched out for life through the force and sent blaster bolts flying to silence them all the whilst listening out for the familiar whine of their chariot’s engines. Soon the hangar was filled with the deafening noise and the team clambered up, nodding hellos to the crew who had time after time delivered them safely into combat. Debris bounced out from underneath as the LAAT/i gunship rose from the floor.
Order, orders, orders ... you heard 'em snap to it. You've got the bulk of the main army to contend with, so pin 'em against the citadel so you and Strat's troops will be cutting them to pieces. Soulfire meanwhile has gotta save Chris, yes our hapless Sergeant has done it again and screwed up. So get those hands moving and I don't mean masterbation!
Well guys that brings another section to a brilliant close. We've had some great posts so far and its been moving along pretty well huh? Now that we're drawing into the final stages let's give it a another push to send it off with a bang. Now for the results:
1. Zandro - your prose and structure bring the reader easily through your posts thus the length is of no issue. Your description of the dogfights are great and you can really get an idea of the moves you are pulling which is great.
2. Juda - again buddy your hitting the nail on the head, now let's flesh it out a little, bring in more about what's going on and add that extra description to really bring the reader in.
3. Rho - you're getting into step now and it's showing in your posts. Your writing flows which is good and your adding in the description which is creating more depth and drawing the reader in. Step up with the detail and make sure you stamp your style onto your posts.
The air was humid as Juda watched the Laat/i land in the periphery with a subtle hiss. The warm air was like a moist blanket that smothered him as he raised the Soulfire helmet from his head and cradled it under his arm. The sweat formed into globule droplets across his forehead and his jagged shady-red hair was dark with sweat, looking more like a wet mop draped across his scalp than it’s former self.
Kieran and Rho were assisted by two of Drexl’s crew to stretcher the fatally wounded Wolv on board the gunship. The stench of charred skin still reeked through the air as the lifeless corpse passed Juda who hung his head, unable to revive his brethren’s life. His gaze shifted from the body to his master, Sashar, who held Wolv’s unembellished lightsaber hilt in his hands as he boarded the Drexl. A sympathetic veil formed across his face as he watched the unresponsive vessel that used to be his companion pass by before turning to look out onto the night sky, “Farewell Dark Jedi” He said while running his thumb along the hilt, “You are now one with the Force”
Juda hauled himself aboard and stood close to his master, his mind raced for words of comfort but his mind was blank, filled with the soft whispers of the Dark Side, pulling at every fibre of his soul. Ever since he had tuned into his Force capabilities, Dark energies had hounded him, whenever he closed his eyes he could see the blurred wash of red as his subconscious fought off the malevolent forces. His obstinacy and Sashar’s teachings of the Grey Jedi had kept him at bay for this long, but deep down, in the centre of his very being he knew, that eventually, it was only a matter of time before the Dark Side would consume him.
Sashar turned to face his youngest apprentice, his mournful visage instantly turned to one of guidance and control as he beckoned for a member of the Drexl crew to close the hatch doors, Juda grabbed ahold of the support railing with his hand while the other flipped open the pouches on his medical belt, trying to busy his mind. Throughout the day various medical items had steadily intermingled into the wrong pouches, this irritated the young Mandalorian as he went about organising the items into his own specific arrangement, at least the laser scalpel was in the right place.
“Whenever you’re ready, Captain” Sashar called and placed his mind into a state of meditation as the Laat/i gunship’s thrusters fired to life…
Sashar’s helmeted head bounced once off the hatch of the LAAT/i. As usual, the craft wasn’t lit inside, and only the small spotlight mounted on the side of his boys’ helmets provided any illumination. Soulfire – what remained of it – were all the same now. Adrenaline let down had hit them all, and each of them were nearly perfectly still. Rho was once more sat down with his knees up in front of him, his X-45 resting between his legs. His helmet’s forehead visor was resting against the Barrel. For all intents and purposes, he seemed asleep, but Sashar could feel the Nagai through the battle meld; he was wide awake, deep in thought about the upcoming rescue mission.
Juda was busy checking and organising his equipment, busying his hands and mind with a banal task that freed him from having to contemplate the recent death or being thrust in harm’s way once more.
Kieran…Kieran was always hard to read, but Sashar was used to him. He was sat down opposite Rho, mirroring his pose and clutching his E-15A loosely. Through the helmet comlink channel shared between Soulfire Strike Team, Kieran started singing in a low baritone.
“Kote! Kandosii sa ka’rta, Vode an. Arcona a’den mhi, Vode an.” He sung clearly. Sashar found himself joining in before he even realised, his back straightening with pride at hearing the slightly altered lyrics to ‘Vode an.’
“Bal kote, darasuum kote, Jorso’ran kando a tome. Sa kyr'am nau tracyn kad, Vode an. Kandosii sa ka’rta, Vode an. Arcona a’den mhi, Vode an.” They sang, and weren’t surprised to hear Juda’s voice joining theirs, identical in pitch and resolution. Sashar began hammering a beat with his fist into the side of the LAAT/i.
Even Rho joined in, Soulfire singing as one – completely private to the outside world, fully entrenched in the collective privacy of their helmets and their battle meld, now burning bright in the force.
“Bal... Motir ca’tra nau tracinya. Gra’tua cuun hett su dralshy’a. Aruetyc runi solus cet o’r. Motir ca’tra nau tracinya. Gra’tua cuun hett su dralshy’a. Aruetyc runi trattok’o. Sa kyr'am nau tracyn kad, Vode an!”
It continued for three or four repetitions, each time drawing more and more fervour from the four brothers – it was only when Strategos laid a hand on Sashar’s shoulder that the chant wound down.
“What are you doing?” he asked, mildly amused.
“Getting our Mando on.” Sashar replied simply. Strategos raised an eyebrow but said nothing – Soulfire were idiosyncratic in the extreme, but by slice did they get the job done.
“I need you to try and find Zandro through the force.” The Consul said quietly. Sashar was no idiot – he knew Strategos was asking him to see if he thought his half-brother was dead. He also knew it was a valid request.
Without saying a word, the Mandalorian knelt on the decking, letting his rifle drop to the floor next to him and clasped his hands simply on his lap, his head bowed. He stretched his conscious self out into the force, feeling for that familiar chain in the force he’d traced countless times, almost frantically trying to find a trace of Zandro’s imprint. It was there – just. Like a candle flickering in the wind, his life was in danger, he was in pain, but it was a bright pin-prick of light in the darkness few would have been able to sense.
“He’s alive, but we need to hurry.”
“understood. Pilot, Gun it!” Strategos shouted to the pilot of the LAAT/i, and he was only too happy to comply.
As they reached the Citadel Dorn noticed ships coming from the sky and even though there wasnt much room on the ships by the look there was a lot of them. On their way there they heard that other battles had been won and not without a cost.
"You alright Dorn?" Timeros asked his apprentice.
"Yeah. Just the fact that Rodians have been seen makes me feel responsible and I just had time to think about due to all the fighting today," Dorn answered.
Then once he finished talking blaster bolts ringed in the air and something felt wrong to Dorn. Someone was in the crowd of enemies, someone he knew. He got behind cover and Timeros was short to follow and Dorn told him what he felt.
"Are you sure?" Timeros asked him.
"I'm positive and from the feeling they are close to me. Only people really close to me outside the Brotherhood are dead. Wait they are heading this way," Dorn said. "We need everyone to cease fire and just stay behind cover until I can tell who it is."
Timeros did a motion to everyone for them to stop firing. Dorn told Timeros he was going to slowly peek out and see if they are visible. They were in his sights. It was a prisoner.
"Sh.it!" Dorn said to himself.
"What? The prisoner there?" Timeros asked.
"Yeah. My grandfather did survive. They must know he is related to me," Dorn told Timeros. "You need to come out with me so I don't get hit by blaster shots."
"Sure," Timeros responded.
Dorn stepped out with his master ready to block blaster fire.
"Are you the Rodian Dorn?" one of the Hutts asked.
"Why?" Dorn asked the Hutt nodding to his grandfather.
"This is a man known as Frenk Ravr. If you want him free you have to come with us yourself," the Hutt told Dorn.
'Dammit. They got me there.
' Dorn thought to himself.
Then Callus and Xar slowly moved forward followed then by the rest of the Battleteam. This was not suspeted and they needed to settle this as more and more troops for the Hutts gathered. Dorn's grandfather nodded to him knowing what he wanted to do. Callus and Timeros looked at each other and nodded that they knew what to do.
"OPEN FIRE!!!!" Callus and Timeros yelled.
With good aim the Hutts guarding Dorn's grandfather were killed and the old Rodian rushed behind cover. Dorn pulled his sword out and rushed towards the remaining Hutts knowing that his grandfather wasn't treated in a good way according to Hutt standards. Bas-Tyra joined in, in the slaughter and with a few minor blaster injuries the lot of the enemy was down. All that was left was what was landing.
Dorn had told his grandfather to keep close to them to not risk him being recaptured. After a few minutes the ship didn't continue landing but they came close to the ground and dropped AAT tanks and droid carriers, carrying 50 droids instead of the CIS standard, and then took off to then later be destroyed by the space units of Arcona.
- Just wanted to state that I have copied every post into a word document and its over 65 pages right now. I just thought it was neat on how long this is...longest RO ive read so far.
The vibrating hum of the Drexl’s thrusters filled the air as it did it’s usual drop-off routine, this time amidst a desolate city. Sashar debriefed his boys as they hopped out into the darkened city, Decca had retreated, Zandro in hand, it was Soulfire’s job to rescue their commander and assassinate the Hutt, along with any others that stood in their way.
The team was silent as they took to the side of a building, the urban skyline was illuminated under the moonlight, three hours until day-light… the shadow’s provided cover until then.
Sashar flicked his wrists, his forefingers called for the team to group into formation as they pressed forward. Rho reached down to his belt and unclipped two Scarab ‘Scout’ Droids prior to hurling them into the air, the droids fired to life and six arachnid legs shot out from the ball-shaped droids before clinging to the side of a nearby building on their descent.
Juda’s eyes were partially shut from underneath his helmet as the group continued, he called out to the Force as he worked on healing his calve, it was almost healed as it was with the Bacta Patch, the only reminder of the wound was a slight stinging. The thought of Zandro coming to any harm didn’t enter his thoughts, Soulfire was closely knit and no one could quite understand this, they were more like brothers than colleagues. A smile comforted his face as the team stalked passed an active fountain in the middle of the square.
The beeping from Rho’s scout droids filled his helmet like blaster fire, he looked up to where his droids should have been but had disappeared, “Sash-” His voice was suddenly cut off by an accurate blaster shot that made impact with his armour-plated chest, he staggered against the support of a wall, more winded than in pain as the Soulfire team sprang to action.
A group of six IG Assassin droid’s surrounded the team and an array of blaster fire followed suit, Rho shook his head back to the present and rapidly raised his X-45, without looking down the barrel he pulled taut onto his trigger, a heavy crimson bolt skimmed the head of one of the droid’s; his first miss
Kieran growled as he pulled back on his trigger, lacing across a droid’s heavily plated chest, the droids moved in closer to the team, blaster bolts reflected off of their armour as they attacked with E-11 rifles. Juda swung the butt of his KX-80 that parried off of a droid’s head with a metallic clang, the IG droid raised an arm and with a snapping hiss he ignited his flamethrower, Juda was engulfed in flames and desperately punched his hand’s against himself as he tried to extinguish the flames.
Sashar’s eyes widened as he skilfully used his blade to slice through an Assassin droid while shooting out his hand, using the Force to throw Juda halfway across the square, his adolescent body hurtled through the air and smashed into the fountain with a crack.
“We need to retreat, we haven’t the time for this!” Kieran roared as he smashed his elbow into a droid’s chest before flicking his blaster up and against the droid’s neck before pulling back on the trigger…..
IG-100 Droids. Otherwise known as Magnaguard. Jedi Killers. Clone Wars era. Sashar’s mind worked like a computer as he analysed the situation. They were caught in a small courtyard, already one man down. The 5 remaining antagonists were impervious to blaster-fire, and only he and the Consul had weapons that could damage them.
“Fall back! Rho, Kieran, cover the Consul!”
Sashar ordered as he placed himself firmly between the 5 droids and the rest of his squad, letting his shoulders slide back, one hand holding the saber loosely, the other gripping firm. His blade moved like an orange serpent intercepting and redirecting the blaster bolts poured at his ner’vod with startling accuracy. He couldn’t block them all. Delving deep into the force, the Mandalorian let his reactions take over, his hands shifting in instinct and he became a blur, a smudge in the night, a mere backdrop to the hieroglyphs carved in the air by Fraternity. Bolt after countless bolt was thrown his way, and he danced around them, between them, his saber blocking the majority. Some impacted against his armour, eating away at the regenerative surface but he paid no heed. Nothing mattered but the blaster bolts and his lightsaber.
His record was stopping eleven strikes a second, and he was coming close to that limit now, moving faster than even he thought possible, his skill with Soresu being tested to the limit until he blocked that elusive twelfth bolt.
Huh. A new record.
Sashar also knew what that meant. He’d reached his limit. It came right on cue. One blast snuck through, caught his arm, spun the saber away, and abruptly the blaster-fire stopped. The Mandalorian dropped to one knee, cradling the injured limb as he glared defiantly up at the Droids. He’d done his job. Not many people knew, but the Mandalorian was the last layer of defence the Consul had set up – he was Arcona’s Centurion, the single individual responsible for the Consul’s safety; his bodyguard.
One droid approached and Sashar was dimly aware of Soulfire having pulled back, each of them yearning to come back and die with their ner’vod, each of them fighting inner turmoil, but they were out of harm’s way. Safely moving away from the courtyard and onto their objective. He closed off the part of his mind that was concentrating on maintaining the Battle Meld, not wanting his brothers to feel his demise. The droid raised its arm, aiming the flame-thrower at Sashar’s visor and he sneered, seizing the droid through the force and shoved it back into the line of identical automatons. Before they could forever silence him in a hail of blaster-fire, a dark green blade slashed down, bisecting one assassin droid.
The Consul Strategos Thanatos Entar Arconae entered the fray. His mastery of Vapaad was text book as he shifted through the odd motions typical to the form, cutting through the droids, expressing his displeasure through his movement. A moment later, it was all over. The Spectran helped Sashar up, grinning sardonically.
“I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to protect me; not the other way around.”
“I fancied a change. Thanks.” Sashar replied as he steadied himself and called his lightsaber back to his hand and appropriated another weapon clipped to the side of his pack, a weapon hidden by a creatively layered double coat of netting. It was his LJ-50 Concussion Rifle.
“Soulfire is waiting in that café. We’ll get you patched up and keep moving. The longer we wait the more time Decca has to prepare for us.”
Sashar nodded and re-established the meld, trying not to let the pain from his arm and numerous tertiary glancing burns seep in too much. The relief from the others as they sensed his presence in the force once more was like a cooling fountain over him – it was always nice to know one was appreciated.
Callus ordered his team to stay back with Soulfire into the small café as Callus made his way to the Consul's side as the assasin droids made their way closer to Sashar's whirling blade.
He watched as Sashar orded three of his group back to cover consul. The assasin droids were slowly, but surely advancing on their position. Callus watched as Sashar took a blast in the arm sending his saber spinning away.
Callus fought the urge to spring to the aid of the mandalorian, but his other members we're trained to stay back and protect the consul and that was his job too.
Though Soulfire and Bas-Tyra we're the bitterest of rivals Callus couldn't help but feel a pang of remorse for his clan-mate as te assin droid raised it's flamethrower. He gripped his saber tighter as the droid seemed ready to finish it's task. At the last possible second Strategos leapt into the air, his lightsaber ablaze and made short order of the droids.
The Pontifex's display was flawless a perfect blend of strength, speed, and unpredictability. It seemed at one moment that his manuvers were completely random but Callus knew better than that having seen enough Vappad in his lifetime. Callus knew that Strategos had his movments planned 4 moves ahead of time. It was a form of complete unity with the force, allowing for no way to predict the moves of the practicioner.
Strategos made quick work of the droids and helped Sashar to his feet. Sashar called his saber to his hand and pulled a big rifle from his pack. He gestured to the cafe and they made their way to where Callus was.
"Not how I would have done it but it worked." Callus grinned at Sash.
"Yeah? You'd be in a pile on the ground." the Soulfieran quipped back.
"You wish." Callus said pivoting his head around looking for more hostiles as they made their way to the café.
The groggy feeling that Zandro always felt after recovering from a beating clogged his mind and made his first few seconds of consciousness as confused as they were slow. The seconds passed and he finally remembered the occurrences of his attack on Decca.
Wolvie…I lost it and fed the rage, but it didn’t help me win in the end, and now I’ve been captured. Wonderful, now my squad is probably on some harebrained expedition to try and save me.
Looking around the cabin of the shuttle that he found himself on, the first thought about his surroundings was that his captors had taken every precaution to keep him in their grasp. Surrounding him were four MagnaGuard droids, made famous during the Clone Wars thanks to their adeptness at hunting down and killing Jedi. He also spotted some extremely advanced looking super battle droids as well as numerous regular line droids. However, despite the size of the forces holding him captive, several things did seem to be going his way. His regulation sidearm was still holstered in his boot and he was still wearing his Soulfirian armour, albeit without the helmet and almost all of his weapons. He uttered a silent curse at the loss of his lightsaber and the fact that he was awake finally became known by the nearest MagnaGuard who grabbed him and hauled him roughly to his feet, metal hands clamping down like a vice on his shoulder and leading the man to a different room. He was marched up to a large repulsorsled and it’s slug-like patron turned to regard the newcomer with eyes as big as Zandro’s fist. A low rumbling laugh echoed from the creatures lips as it regarded it’s newest acquisition with wry amusement. Zandro waited for the inspection to finish with a blank face, although his eyes burned with contempt and shame at his capture. Finally the Hutt spoke and surprised Zandro as he realised that it was in fact a female.
“So, you are one of Arcona’s leaders? If you are their average, then this should be easy, ho-ho!”
“I’m surprised you speak basic, but seeing as you do let me make one thing perfectly clear. This is a pissing contest that you cannot win Hutt, you will fall and I swear to Mandalore that it will be by my hand. As for Arcona? We are stronger than you can imagine, because we fight for a purpose that is other than greed, something I doubt you can comprehend.”
The blow was sudden and powerful, Decca’s tail darting around and slamming into the side of Zandro’s head, the force of the blow causing him to stumble slightly as Decca pulled her tail back and leant as far forward as her enormous bulk would allow. There was no laughter in her eyes now and Zandro finally saw the steel and the fear in her gaze.
“You think we fight for greed? Impudent fool, you know nothing. We fight for our very survival. You sit here in your precious system and wait for the Vong to come for you, but we have already been defeated. To stay where we were is madness, and our last hope lies here. So you see, we fight for more than our purses now.”
Zandro tried to grin despite the pain still radiating from his battered jaw, the contempt dripping from his words.
“You may fight for survival, but your droids fight for nothing. They fight because they must, and that is why you will be defeated.”
Zandro spat at the foot of the hoversled and gazed malevolently up his captor, willing her to attack him once more and feed the rage that was once more rising within him.
Come on you slimy pile of Bantha droppings, bring it. Make me angry, see how you like it then. I don’t care if it failed before, it’s all I have at the moment.
However, Decca merely motioned for the droids to take Zandro away as she turned her hoversled back towards the screens to her side. As Zandro was marched away he finally realised that all hope was not lost, and that there was still one thing he had at his disposal which his captors could not stop. He reached out in the Force for his half-brother and tried to both warn him of the threats surrounding Zandro as well as urge him onwards. The conflict was reaching a critical point, and Zandro knew that the sooner Decca was confronted, the sooner the battle would be won.
Sashar rejoined the squad looking rather sheepish behind his helmet. Kieran cuffed him upside the head none-too-gently, telling him not to be martyring idiot in Mando’a, whilst Rho merely nodded at his master. It was as close to affection the Nagai could manage. Juda was at his side in a second, pulling free the armour plate around Sashar’s bicep and seeing to the wound with an offhand proficiency that belied his years and years of dedicated training as a medic.
“Okay, we got a bloody nose.” Sashar said as Juda clipped the plate back on a minute later. Soulfire were checking their weaponry was ready for battle once more – a useful habit for a crack commando team to have. Strategos smirked to himself at the Mandalorian’s understatement, but said nothing. “But going back is not an option, for us or for the clan. We press on. We give everything for our ner’vod – even our lives.”
“Good, we may need those too.” Strategos commented mildly as he pushed off from the wall he was leaning on back towards the exit of the café. Soulfire fell in around him.
Zandro could feel them. His squad were closing in. They were tired, they were battered, bruised, worn, but they were focused, determined, and boy were they close. He was almost at the blast doors to the Decca’s makeshift command centre, the Magnaguard escorting him back to his cell when an explosion shook the building. The Hutt reared up in alarm and signalled for the droids to stop.
“Wait! I may need him as a hostage! Get him back here!”
Zandro grinned despite himself. He knew that sound – it was one of Kieran’s rapid entry charges. Then there was that beautiful group consciousness. Sashar had found him through the force and enveloped the Sergeant into the Battle Meld. They were all there and well, elated to feel their Sergeant once more, however he urged caution. This control room was heavily fortified.
Soulfire were through the breach in moments, pouring blaster fire and manpower into Decca’s last stand, driven onwards by Zandro’s presence just tens of meters above them. Various sycophants, mercenaries, bounty hunters and other Hutt dregs poured into the main atrium, adding to the chaos. Rho’s X-45 sounded out, picking off every source of illumination, granting Soulfire a further advantage. The others let the force guide them, the grainy resolution of the night vision and low light filters not granting the commandoes enough of an advantage. Strategos hung back, watching Arcona’s best in their element, marvelling at how they applied the force to their tasks, using it to co-ordinate their fire, warn each other of danger, never be in each other’s way or line of fire – and what’s more, they did it without thinking. Their battle meld came so naturally to all of them, yet it was so all encompassing, so much of an advantage to their operational cohesion, it was truly a marvel. They deserved to be arrogant, cliquey and proud – they earned every single character flaw the unit possessed. Almost reluctantly the Consul activated his saber and waded into the fray.
Zandro waited anxiously as he experienced the calm collected nature of the battle meld while also trying to keep his worry from betraying his comrades’ concentration. His eyes darted around the control room, getting a feel for the anything that may give his friends an advantage as he waited for their imminent arrival. His captor was restless, and he could sense the fear rising within Decca as she finally realised that her final gambit had failed, and that her campaign was reaching it’s finale.
“I told you that you would fail Decca, but you didn’t listen and now you will pay.”
The Hutt chose not to respond and Zandro let a small grin spread across his face as he realised how great Decca’s fear was. He could feel the battle that was raging mere metres outside the entrance to the command centre, when a sudden idea struck him like a stray blaster bolt. Quick as a flash, he concentrated on a single thought that he pressed out towards the approaching commandos and held onto it, hoping that they would understand and do the one thing he needed to make his escape and turn the tables on his Hutt captor.
* * * * *
Sashar and the rest of the squad paused outside the door to the command centre to regroup when Zandro’s request drifted through the force meld. Sashar turned to his demolitions expert who merely nodded, acknowledging the order as listened to the request once more. Pulling a strip of ‘door-buster’ explosive from his pocket, Kieran lined the door with the bomb and set the charge, scooting over to the wall and pulling a second explosive out of his pocket. The door crumpled as the first explosives did their work and quick as a flash the Soulfirian had hurled a flash bang grenade and a special EMP grenade into the room and backed away again, a volley of blaster fire slashing through the air where he had just been. He turned to Sashar and nodded as the sound of the twin explosions sounded and he darted around the corner, blaster already training on the first droid.
* * * * *
Zandro saw the two grenades approaching and knew that his time had come. Tapping into the force to contort his body out of the MagnaGuard’s grip, the Sergeant backflipped up and over the Hutt and landed in a crouch just as the grenades exploded, disorientating everything droid and wet in the room, but the enormous bulk of the Hutt shielded Zandro from the blast and thus giving him time to act. He used the Force once more and called his lightsaber from the Hutt’s hand to his own, relieving Decca of the weapon which she had been ineffectually swinging in a sloppy arc mere seconds before. Bringing his purple lightsaber forward, he jabbed forwards at the Hutt’s back and sunk his blade deep into her flesh, causing a scream to rip apart the air as Decca thrashed around. Knowing that she was out of the fight, Zandro leapt back over the Hutt and moved towards the nearest MagnaGuard to stop it praying on Rho. His lightsaber stabbed out and speared the droid’s left arm, severing it and causing it to drop to the floor. Having attracted the droid’s attention, he spun his lightsaber forward but found his attack was parried by the now one handed droid. He danced back and parried several strikes from the droid’s staff before darting under it’s guard and stabbing upwards, spearing the droids chest and ripping his blade free, cutting the droid in half. Backing away, he looked over just in time to see his Consul finish off the final droid and turn to join the others as they aimed their weapons at the Hutt, the only non-Arconan left alive or functional in the room. Zandro sent a quick message out into the meld before stepping forward.
Don’t shoot. She’s mine.
“It’s over Decca. You have been defeated. You have murdered your last victim and it’s time to make sure my dead brothers and sisters rest soundly in their graves. You not only killed my brothers and sisters, but you killed one of my own squad. Your scum murdered him and now I’m going to murder you.”
Zandro started forwards with slow, menacing steps as the Hutt’s frantic pleas echoed around the room.
“You can’t murder me, your leader is there. You must take me into custody and I must stand trial. Why are you still coming? Stop you foul humanoid, this is madness!”
Zandro heard the accusation of madness and his eyes glazed over as he finally let the rage flow through him once more, comforted by the knowledge that his brothers would bring him back when he had banished the final demons of his rage. He began to run at the Hutt as he screamed the final words the Hutt would hear.
“This is Arcona!”
Leaping forward, Zandro’s lightsaber thrust forwards towards Decca’s bulbous eye as he stabbed the Hutt, his blade sinking deep into the skull and out of the back, gore pouring from the killing wound. He held his blade in place as the last vestiges of life echoed from Decca’s corpulent form and she finally died a death much more honourable than she deserved. Zandro stayed atop the corpse, his hands and lightsaber both covered in blood until the blood stopped flowing. He finally let himself be enveloped by the force meld once more as he stumbled back off the body and to the ground to finally confront his rescuers. Before he could open his mouth however, he had been embraced by Sashar as the Mandalorian finally allowed himself to feel relief at his half-brother’s safe return. Zandro hugged his brother back and they soon broke so that Zandro could thank the rest of his squad before finally sheepishly heading towards his Consul and thanking him for the rescue.
“Don’t worry about it Sergeant, just don’t fail in your mission next time and we won’t have to save you.”
Zandro grinned up at his leader and turned back to head towards the door.
“Come on, let’s find my guns and then get the hell out of here so we can mop up the rest of this mess.”
The group walked from the command centre, the reek from the dead Hutt still hanging in the air but the taste of victory fresh on their tongues.
RO Closed, final post pending...
Streets Surrounding The Citadel, Selen
Derik winced as the man to his right dropped, a fist sized hole smoking in the brown body armour the regular soldiers sported. A quick prayer of thanks for his sturdier suit and then the Sergeant of Kad Prudii opened fire again, his blaster’s steady whine joining the chorus of those from the two commando squads the group of infantry. He disliked mopping up duties; however the situation dictated that the two commando squads under his command had to bolster the fleeting ranks of the two infantry platoons. The fight for the hangar had been fierce, massive casualties had been inflicted upon the enemy and their infantry platoons hadn’t faired well. Derik could still count his lucky stars that he had yet to loose anyone he deemed important, feeling little for the loses of the regular ‘grunts’.
He picked his way through the body strewn street, firing off blasts at running shapes and occasionally ducking for cover as the enemy chose to fight to the death rather than a shameful retreat, their choices mattered little to the Corellian, as either way they ended up dead. The once rumbling heaps of jagged metal wreckage created bottlenecks and ambush points, but Derik found these far more appealing than facing the armoured hordes that had descended at first. Starfighters crisscrossed the skies, searching out targets and responding to calls for fire support, mopping up was always a difficult task. Fighting a cornered and desperate enemy had its risks, especially if your troops are bone tired from beating them in the first place.
‘It’s what we do,’ he thought shrugging off his misgivings and with it the fatigue that was steadily creeping into his bones.
The Citadel could be glimpsed through the gaps in the buildings, its dark tower dominating the sky. Reports had come in from the front, and thanks to Flik’s eavesdropping of secure channels, they were fully informed of the developments. The main force had been smashed against the sides of Arcona’s fortress and had begun to scatter like leaves to the wind. The casualties had been minimal when compared to the rest of the engagement, the enemy forces obviously caught off guard by the pincer move so expertly executed by the Dark Jedi’s grand army.
They had known almost the instant that Decca had fallen, not through the force but by Flik’s shrill voice announcing the departure of their enemy and the Soulfire Sergeant’s safe rescue. He hadn’t doubted his comrades for an instant, and besides, he was safe with the knowledge that Kieran was tagging along and easily able to deal with anything that swung their way.
The Citadel, Selen
Strategos stood in the grand hall, Timeros close by his side as they conversed in hushed tones. Groups huddled together, tending to each other’s wounds whilst awaiting orders, those uninjured were busying themselves with appointed tasks. The main focus seemed to be clearing the dead, the Consul was pleased to see the majority of corpses being of the enemy, but his heart sank as those stretchers that drifted by bearing the remains of those he had known, and those he did not but still felt attached to.
“A victory, but at what cost?” Timeros spoke sullenly.
“Agreed, whilst we beat them, and at that badly, I have my misgivings about our performance,” he replied, his head dropping slightly as he spoke his rare criticism of Arcona.
“We were very slow of the mark, and the presence of system monitoring stations and outposts would no doubt have uncovered the lure and prevented our forces from being split in such a manner.”
“Perhaps it is time we put some thought in to exactly how we plan to repel future invasions.”
“It would benefit us enormously, as would a reshuffle of our armed forces,” he replied, looking round and the many beings transporting the dead and wounded.
“However, we worked well given the tools at hand.”
“Yes, we must take pride in our performance, but not let it go to our heads for the future.”
“A stirring in the force has given me light on our future, a greater conflict is looming, but I have confidence in our ability to weather the storm, but after this light shower, I am filled with confidence for our coming performance.”
“Agreed, Arcona shall triumph, that I am sure of.”
Right you pink power ranger. What’s wrong with your writing, well I’ve got say very little as usual except for the one major thing. Good god man structure! At times its perfect and at times it conveys the image that you’re writing it in a rush, its an enter key mere centimetres from your space bar. Apart from that it sucked balls … rather like you really but yeah.
Sarge, last time I read any of your stuff it sucked, no not really. The stuff you’ve been putting out here is fantastic, the quality has outweighed many others and you’re pretty well mistake free. My only criticism is the level of participation; whilst long posts are pretty they don’t make up for the level of contribution you can get through writing more of the middle sized posts.
Dorn, you’re an early starter and all you need is a little guidance. Your posts are well constructed but you’re falling down slightly on your quality of writing. Description and feeling (but try not to make it too personal, there’s a fine line you’ve got to tread) is what you need to start injecting something into your posts to make them stand out. I know I sound like a teacher, but read more, it will honestly aid your prose and writing beyond any lesson or instruction. So in short, work on the grammar, descriptive writing and prose and we’ll make a winner out of you yet.
Lastly, I’d just like to say thanks, it’s been a fun ride and some of the feedback I have got has been good. It’s great to see a diverse group of Arconans working together in such a brilliant manner, I’d like to the see same happen again on the next RO and definitely in the GJW which we all know we’re going to win, or at least bash CSP’s face into the ground.