Soulfire RO - FNGs
Teroch Erinos wasn’t a physically intimidating figure. At least, not compared to his squad-mates. They stood around some equipment crates, talking quietly when Talos Erinos approached, with two figures in tow.
“Su’cuy, ner’vod. These the FNGs?” Teroch asked, hopping down from his perch atop a LAAT/i’s wing. They were in the Hangar of the Citadel, however all of the mechanics and other beings in the vicinity tended to give Soulfire’s members a wide berth. It was a smart move, given the squad’s reputation.
“Yeah. You sure about this?” He asked the newly minted Sergeant, barely more than a boy himself.
“We need to boost the numbers. Make up for losses. Slice, even with these two, we’ll only be up to ten.”
“You’re the boss, Boss. We have Colonel Etah d’Tana and Lieutenant Balthier d’Tana.”
“A Colonel?” Teroch whistled sarcastically, pretending to be impressed. “We’ve had a d’Tana in the squad before. Rho. Best shot I ever saw with a scoped weapon. My father trained him. You two anywhere near his proficiency, then I’ll be glad to have you.”
“You’ll see.” Etah replied for both of the new members, which evoked smirks from several of the squad members. Having never personally met Teroch until just now, the Sakiyan was unsure of what to think about the youth and therefore, decided to play tough; the d’Tana crossed his arms and straightened his posture.
Teroch was slow to reply, sizing up the Colonel. “Yeah, about that,” he said, shooting a look at Talos and gestured conspiratorially to the d’Tanas, inviting them closer. “, We’re going to put you through a test. We’re going to Eldar. There’s an abandoned Wayfarer outpost which you’re required to destroy. It will be guarded by the rest of the Squad. You’ll be dropped sixty klicks from the outpost in full gear... but there’s a catch. The rest of Soulfire Strike Force, which comprises 60 highly trained Special Forces Commandoes and 6 sniper/spotter teams, will be hunting you. Your job is to evade pursuit, reach your objective, and bring the building down. You may do this however you like, given the resources we’ll provide you, and the time limit is one week. Oh, and don’t kill anyone. Kieran will show you the basics of the gear we operate with. You have half an hour. Go.”
As they turned to leave, Etah leaned over to Balthier, muttering quietly “Arcona’s best squad commanded by a child? What’s The Dragon thinking?”
Balthier shrugged, but the gesture was lost half-completed. Kieran whirled around, grabbed Etah by the throat, and somehow managed to place one of his feet between the Saikyan’s, dropping him to the floor with the Mandalorian atop him, one knee on his chest, his free hand having produced an SSK-7, which pressed against Etah’s temple. Similarly, Talos had grabbed Balthier in an arm-lock and turned him to face Teroch, who casually strolled over. “Yeah, the suits have pretty decent auditory sensors. There’s a reason I’m Sergeant. You’ll see it on Eldar, hopefully. Don’t question me again. Got it?”
Forty-five minutes later, Etah and Balthier were suited up in Soulfire’s Das’Verd armour, toting KX-80 rifles and were huddled in the belly of a LAAT/i with the rest of Soulfire’s core squad. For the most part, they were ignored - the squad obviously was close-knit, and it’d take time for the two d’Tanas to prove their worth and be accepted into the banter. However, Talos took pity on them and ambled over, handing his rifle to Teroch before sitting down between them.
“You two probably need introductions. Teroch is Lead. I know we all look similar in Armour, but it’s easy to pick him out as the short one. Next to him is Sapper, Soulfire two. She’s Xathia. Former Quaestor, and all kinds of vicious in the ACC. She’s also our tech specialist. If you break something, you can usually go to her to fix it. Juda is Soulfire three, or Red. He’s our medic, so he’ll put you back together if you forget how to juggle grenades or something. Soulfire Four is Malidir. Mal is a living legend. Everyone knows about him, and his place in Soulfire is unquestioned. If he wanted to, he’d lead the squad, but he doesn’t like leading, he just likes cigars, fine women, whiskey and his BFG. He’s the tank with the E-Web, by the way. We call him The Don. I’m Soulfire Five. I’m our scout. They call me Fade. You’ll see why. Soulfire six is Sarge. Kieran Erinos. He originally founded this squad with Zandro and Sashar, and is the only living member who saw it all the way through. He’s our drill sergeant when we’re training, he’s our Quartermaster, and he’s also our demolitions expert. He’s a bit gruff, but underneath his tough, devil-may-care attitude beats the heart of a sadistic maniac, but he’s someone you want on your side. Especially since he knows how to make bombs. Celevon is our Sniper. Soulfire 7, or Spook. He was trained how to shoot by Rho, so he’s good, but he’s got a way to go if he wants to take that prickly Nagai di’kutse reputation, and last but not least is Soulfire 8. Xar Kahn. Boomer. He’s been here forever, and the guy’s an artist with a plex. He learned a trick from Sashbuir which allows him to telekinetically control the missiles once he’s fired them. I saw him once take out a bunker by using a cam on the chip and telekinesis to drive it right down several corners, through a vent and hit the reactor, so don’t take him for granted because he’s only a Knight.”
Etah spoke up, genuinely curious. “Why did Teroch take us on, then? It sounds like he already has a pretty formidable team.”
Talos shrugged. “People don’t last long in Soulfire. Well, unless they’re The Don or Sarge. High attrition rate. If we have more members, there’s less chance one of the old-timers will get ghosted by some child with an E-11 and a death wish.”
“So we’re just meat shields?” Balthier asked, incredulous.
“Basically, yeah. Anyway, we’re coming up on your drop zone.”
Teroch gestured for the two newcomers to approach him, which they did, despite the LAAT/i shifting perilously beneath their feet. “Okay, this is your stop. Your weapons have been fitted with non-lethal rounds, but accidents happen. You kill any of my lads out there, and that includes the non-foxtrots, and I’ll personally gut you both. That said, good luck. Prove to me you deserve to be in Sashar’s legacy.”
“I’ll see you in the field.” Kieran added, grinning nastily behind his mask.
Etah ignored him and gestured for the two to hop down through the now-open hatch, keeping his rifle at hand. A moment later, the Larty was just a fading sound of repulsorlifts, and the rainforests own orchestra fell upon them.
“Tell me again...why did we apply for this job?” Etah asked his comrade, looking around for any potential threats.
“Presumably because we’re gluttons for punishment.”
SF 1/Lead = Sergeant Teroch Erinos = Squad Leader
SF 2/Sapper = Lieutenant Xathia Tugrina = Tech Specialist
SF 3/Red = Lieutenant Juda Erinos = Medic
SF 4/The Don = General Malidir Erinos = Heavy Weapons Specialist
SF 5/Fade = Major Talos Erinos = Scout
SF 6/Sarge = Staff Sergeant Kieran Erinos = Demolitions/Quartermaster/Drill Sergeant
SF 7/Spook = Corporal Celevon Edraven = Sniper
SF 8/Boomer = Lieutenant Xar Kahn = Heavy Weapons Specialist
Abandoned Wayfarer Outpost
Eldar, Day 1
One hour after dropping off the two new FNGs and twenty-five minutes after the LAAT/so (Low Altitude Assault Transport/special operations) had put the rest of the core squad (dubbed Soulfire Actual) four miles from the target site, the eight commandoes stood on a grassy ridge overlooking the abandoned Wayfarer outpost and though they had reached their destination, not a single one of them made any move to ground their 60-pound rucksacks or relax, as normal soldiers might be inclinded to do -- this in itself was just a testament to Soulfire's training and discipline.
"The Wayfarers used this place as an outpost?," Lieutenant Xathia Tugrina asked incredulously, "Frak, I would use this place as a vacation spot, not a military base".
Xathia's comment brought forth a few mechanical snorts from behind the helmets of the seven other troopers. "Yeah, it's nice Sapper, but y'know the wild animals would be a real turn off for me" Teroch shot back, continuing the laughter.
"I dunno Lead, I could live here. Just set some charges around the perimeter and should be fine...maybe some D5 or --" Xar'Kahn, aka Boomer, was about to chip in but Teroch put the wind out of 'Eight''s sails as well.
"And what? Be woken up at 0500 to the sound of explosive detonations every day? We're not all like you, Boomer, some of us enjoy our sleep."
"But Lead," Talos Erinos said amiably, "you have us up at that time anyway." This comment brought about a chorus of boisterous laughter and earned Soulfire '5' a punch on his armored shoulder from the Sergeant.
"Shut it, you di'kut.," Teroch grinned from underneath his helm, "Now lets get moving. The two FNGs aren't on our level, but they've got power, training, and something to prove. They'll have hit the ground running." the son of Sashar said, his tone flipping from light to serious as easy as one flipped a cred-chip.
Almost all of Soulfire Actual, six of the eight in fact, agreed with their Sergeant. But not Soulfire 6....
"Psh, let 'em get a long and comfy headstart," Staff Sergeant Kieran Erinos chuckled darkly, "When I get out there, those two will find themselves nice and shorted before to long"
'Sarge' made a wide-armed sweeping gesture with his left hand and as each Soulfire commando stared back into the dense foilage of Eldar's Central Basin Region that they had just emerged from, each and every one of them knew what Kieran said to be true and each felt a small twinge of pity for the two FNGs.
"Best of luck, auretii" Talos Erinos whispered to himself.
Balthier looked around his surroundings in silence. Glancing at Etah, he smiled and motioned him closer. As the Tapani set his pack down and began removing the excess weight, he spoke softly to his companion.
“We’re gluttons for punishment indeed. What did they fill these packs with rocks?” the Tapani growled under his breath.
Etah gave a soundless laugh and shrugged. “Not my fault you’re the weakest member of the Family.”
Balthier snorted and closed his pack before placing it on his back again. “You realize our chances of getting to the target unscathed are fairly low right, Etah?”
The swooper nodded in assent, looking out over the surrounding as well. “A swooper and a thief, great. At least we were classically trained in tactics.”
Balthier nodded once and motioned Etah forward. “This way, Colonel.”
Etah shook his head and followed the relatively quiet Tapani.
“We have sixty kilometers to cover within a week. That wouldn’t be difficult except that the entirety of Soulfire is out looking for us as well.” Balthier looked at Etah and was given a nod of understanding and agreement.
“Therefore, direct assault and rashness will not be conducive to succeeding in our mission. Let’s work on the stealth idea more than anything. Should they find us, I will run a distraction in the hope that you can continue on to finish.” The Tapani stopped and looked at Etah curiously.
“What?” he asked his brother in an unfriendly tone.
Etah shook his head and started walking quietly. “Nothing, Bal. It’s simply that I’ve never heard you use so many words together.”
The Tapani shot his brother a dirty look. “I’ll see if I can cut back a bit then.”
The Tapani followed the other d’Tana quietly, his hands gripping his weapon with trained ease. He watched the surroundings closely, waiting for anything out of the ordinary. “How long do you think they’ll wait before they unleash the dogs of hell?”
Etah shook his head slightly. “No clue. Not long I would think. Shut up and keep moving.”
Balthier snorted softly and started moving again. His eyes watched the area closely as he moved with a tracker’s silence. He stopped near a clearing and held his hand up motioning Etah to halt. With slow, calculated movements, Balthier edged toward the clearing. He turned back to Etah for a moment, hand signaling him to come forward.
Wordlessly, the Tapani motioned to several points on the far side of the clearing. The intent of the signals was clear to Etah, stating that those were points of entrance. Touching his brother on the shoulder, Etah motioned to two other points which could be used as escapes if needed.
Shaking his head, Balthier looked up at Etah with a sigh. “They know this area just was well, brother. They will not leave exits for us so easily.”
Etah looked over the clearing once more and nodded. “We’re supposed to do this without killing anyone? Bad enough I got stuck with a bli-”
The older d’Tana was silenced by Balthier’s fist hitting his side. “We can and will. The fact that I am blind by what most understand, I am not without my sight. I have yet to be a hindrance to anyone.”
Etah rubbed his side as he shook his head. “Sprightly for a blind man. Point taken though. We keep moving and avoid the hell out of that clearing.”
The Tapani nodded slightly and began to melt back into the forest surrounding them. Only a ghostly chuckle remained as the Assassin moved through the brush with Etah close behind him. The forest reminded him of being at his parents’ home on Reena, reminded him of the days spent avoiding the servants of his father and hiding among the trees.
Balthier smiled lightly behind his helmet as he continued to listen for movements other than himself and his brother. “Soon, brother. Sooner we’re done with this, the sooner I can take a shower.”
Night had descended on the woodland of Eldar. A cool mist surrounded the pair and creatures made indistinct sounds off in the distance. The Colonel even thought he could hear the scuffling of Soulfire as they began entering this forty mile squared area, but that could his own paranoia.
Balthier had just mentioned wrapping up this mission, so he could get a shower and as those words reverberated within Etah's mind, the professional took hold of his body. Etah stopped moving and ducked into a circle of several large trees, where there was plenty of cover and concealment. When Balthier stopped and turned toward his superior officer quizzically, Etah firmly slapped his comrade on the side of the head with an open palm. The strike did not have the force of a punch but it was not friendly.
“Get your head out of the fucking clouds Lieutenant. Showers don't exist, the end of this mission doesn't exist, home doesn't exist. You are not fucking human right now, you are here and now, with me, because this is all that exists,” Etah said angrily. “It's this way because it has to be and if it's not we'll both be fucking dead. We have no idea if those guys are gonna use real blasters or not, and even if they're not, I have worked too fucking long to get to this point, just to blow it.” the Mirialan finished with a snort.
“Of course Colonel. I was just vocalizing my thoughts” the Tepani said.
“Well get your head in the game Lieutenant. We have seven days to traverse thirty seven miles and destroy a wooden structure. Between here and there, there are seventy six trained killers, out for our blood, eight of which are powerful Dark Jedi. If we don't follow a plan, this will be over quickly” Etah advised his subordinate.
Pow, pow, pow. Shoots rang off in the far distance. Balthier raised the mussel of his rifle in anticipation of action. Etah reached over and tapped the top of his rifle with his right hand.
“That's called recon by fire.” Etah reassure. “They shoot in the air and when we shoot back at nothing because they are really far away and they pinpoint our location by ear.” the Colonel related. “Never fire at an enemy you can't see, unless your laying down suppressive fire,” the Mirialan advised.
Balthier nodded wearily, acknowledging that he almost made a terrible mistake. Etah sighed deeply before continuing.
“We move seven miles in the deadest, coldest part of the night. Moving, along with the suit, should help ward off hypothermia. That should take no more than two to three hours depending on the terrain. We sleep during daylight hours in shifts. The last night, we move in the last mile and set fire to the structure before we square off with Soulfire Actual. If during this next week Soulfire finds us, we leap and run, we get away and we hide. We can't fight til that structures already coming down.” Etah says having thought the specifics through in the last half an hour. “If either one of us falls behind, the other one keeps going. Mission Accomplishment first, friendship second. Any questions Lieutenant?”
Balthier nods indicating both that he understands and acknowledging that he does have questions. “One, how are we gonna keep from being spotted by equipment? And two, do we have enough provisions for a full week? I assumed this was a storming the hill kind of mission. I didn't realize it was going to take so long” the blind Saber Rake indicated, reasserting his professionalism.
“First of all” Etah said, reaching into the mud and grabbing a handful of it. Reaching over the Colonel begins smearing the black mud over the turquoise trimming of the armor. “Rho told me they usually paint over this before missions, so were gonna have to take our own measures”. Once he was finished, he did the same to his own equipment.
“Second” the Mirialan said while reaching behind him, into his pack and pulled out two black over-cloaks, tossing one to Balthier. “These should break up our silhouette and along with the armor, and being active during the coldest part of the night, should help regulate our body temperature. Which will allow us to stay warm and keep us from showing up very brightly on thermal scans. Though as a precaution, while sleeping we should intertwine the lower part of our legs, so any thermal image that might show up, won't look human.”
The Colonel paused again. “As to the second question, we should have enough water if we don't overindulge and we have enough rations, for one full meal a day. We can look at acquiring additional foodstuffs as we go, because I know where its safe to drink and I know which of the plant life is safe to eat from.
“How do you know so much about Eldar Colonel?” Balthier asked his comrade.
“The first time I was Aedile of Galeres I was awarded the Pauldron's of Command and with that, direct command of a platoon of Wayfarer's. They died one by one under my command, for Arcona, until only one remained and I released him from service. They remained totally loyal until the very end. They served me and this Clan very well and I learned much more from them, then they ever learned from me.” Etah related nostalgically.
“Let's get going” Etah resolved, donning one of the black over-cloaks.
Celevon “Spook” Edraven had only recently returned to Galeres when Soulfire’s new Sergeant called a meeting. After Teroch explained that he had two ‘hopefuls’ to test in a battle exercise. After the meeting had ended, the squad boarded the LAAT/so en route to their destination: The Abandoned Wayfarer Outpost.
Abandoned Wayfarer Outpost
As soon as the impromptu bantering session ended, the eight members went their separate ways to set up their stations. Celevon smirked beneath his helmet at the playful grumblings of some of the elder members of Soulfire Actual. The absent-minded mutterings of his half-sister amused him to no end as she dug in her pack. The Knight stretched as he took a look around, trying to find a decent spot to set up his gear.
The Journeyman released another amused smirk as he overheard Lead, Fade and Sarge arguing over where and how many traps to set. The fact that most of their equipment was non-lethal for this training exercise had hardly fazed the squad. They would act as though all of their equipment was still lethal. Celevon checked his ammo and was unsurprised to see that there were two separate clips for each type. After double checking, he grabbed red and blue tape, which he in turn wrapped around the base of each clip or plasma pack: red for lethal, blue for non-lethal. The lethal ammunition was necessary, considering the wild animals in the area.
“Vod, what’re you doing with that tape?” Talos asked curiously as he watched the Journeyman finish taping up the last of his clips.
Celevon grinned. “Making sure I don’t injure the FNGs too badly.” Noting the slightly confused look on the Prelate’s face, he held up two of the clips. “Red means lethal, blue means non-lethal rounds.”
“He means that he can’t remember the difference, or that he knows I’ll just wire them up wrong,” Xathia interrupted, causing the pair to jump having not heard the Archpriestess’ approach.
The Journeyman glared at his sister. “You’re lucky we’re not allowed to prank anyone else in the squad when we’re on a mission. Consider that you’re warning for when we get back, Xath,” he finished with a grin.
“Now that’s just a declared war, I might let Alyssa lose on you,” the mechanic retorted as she finished hanging her essential tools off her belt.
Celevon smirked. “I’ll guess we’ll just have to see what she says once this exercise is over, dear sister.”
Sapper glared through her helmet, “And who said older siblings got any respect,” she muttered.
“I’m not sure. I’m sure Lead could tell you if you asked nicely,” Spook grinned as he discovered a good spot to set up his equipment. With that last comment, Celevon walked away from a spluttering Xathia while pulling the bipod from his pack.
Xathia lazily stretched out in her armour once they’d all finished their arguing over what to place and where, watching as Teroch signalled for the them to all disperse. There were enough traps and troops out there to catch the two newbies, or there were going to be once the traps had been set and the targets started moving. Some of the traps were the simple ones, ropes and nets, others had a more complex mechanical aspect.
“Sapper, only stunning with those lasers,” came into her ear from Lead, interrupting her thoughts on where to set up one of the last traps.
“You mean I can’t give Red some actual work?” The Krath retorted, looking back towards the Elder’s general direction whilst Xar jogged over. A smirk formed under her helmet as she started a trudge closer towards the FNGs’ objective, making things easy wasn’t going to make anything much fun for anyone.
“Just don’t cross the red and blue wires at that end,” Xathia said to Boomer, making sure to not knock her pack as a red dot trailed over the floor for a split second after forcing him to stand still whilst she resumed trying to fix the dud laser beam. “Can’t be them,” she muttered, reaching out into the Force to try and establish who was there as the torx wrench slowed.
The sniper teams were brilliant at what they did, not making a sound beyond what they wanted when they moved towards their assigned position, a chuckle came inside both Dark Jedi’s helmets. The Krath shook her head as her sibling disappeared with them.
“Lay the wires down, I’ve got this one sorted now,” the Omwati stated, keeping her head down and her movements with the tool as slight as possible. “And no they aren’t going to fry anyone, well, not enough for permanent damage,” she grinned, speaking to no one in particular as the Knight moved on. In fact, I almost feel sorry for them,” the Krath mused with a wicked grin.
I will be posting tomorrow, guys. I apologize for my lack of activity, the hectic time that the holidays bring/a family vacation to Dayton, OH got the better of me, so I'm sorry for my disappearance and lack of notification...bad Sergeant, bad! In other news, I love the activity, and a major 'welcome back' to Celevon!
PS - Also, for the duration of the RO, Teroch will remain as Sergeant.
Abandoned Wayfarer Outpost, Day 1
"Humph. Really?" Teroch grunted to wall-mounted holo-projecter.
"'fraid so, vod. They're not as green as we first thought." the azure-washed miniture of Kieran Erinos replied.
The diminituive Sergeant mumbled something under his breath before looking back at his armored uncle. "I guess not. Keep looking though." he ordered. Getting a nod from Soulfire Six, he killed the holo-feed and turned to where his cousin, Talos Erinos, was seated...or more appropiately, reclining with his chair tilted back and legs on the small wooden table.
"The FNGs didn't fall for Kier'ika's little ploy." the son of Sashar said, crossing his toned arms over his chest. The youth's expression was as dark as his hair.
"I heard." was Talos' simple reply; Soulfire Five picked up his SSK-7 blaster pistol from the table and began to systematically field-strip it. He knew what Teroch's next words would be.
"...you want to give it a go, coz?" Soulfire's Sergeant asked after a few seconds of silence, the youngest Erinos watching his adopted cousin work the pistol's slide and insert a fresh plasma-pak.
The change in the Army Major's demeanor was as instant as it was profound. "I was hoping you'd say that!," Talos said, replacing the hammer of his sidearm, "Kieran is great at what he does traditional tracking, no matter how honed your skills are, just doesn't cut it at times" the Prelate finished, getting up from his seat and walking towards the door.
"I'll be back before dark" 'Five' promised, slipping his helmet over his head and ducking out the door.
Forest: Training Ground
As Soulfire's resident Advanced Recon Trooper, more commonly known as a scout, Talos Erinos's set of the Das'Verd Combat Environmental Suit (DV-CES) was subtly different from that of his commando brethren; while the look was nigh identical, whereas the DV-CES of his fellow troopers had extra pouches and containers for mission-essential gear, the young Major's armor was about as streamlined as could be, which included the absence of an assault pack. Instead, the Erinos' KX-60 blaster rifle was slung across his back.
These minor, but mission-fundamental, changes allowed Talos to do what he did best...get from place-to-place without being noticed. Like now, 'Fade' found himself high up in the boughs of a pine tree, his gaze sweeping the dense foilage of the training ground...and despite the advanced optics in his helmet, picked up nothing.
"Not that you thought you would, Tal," the scout muttered to himself, "Oh well, worth a shot. Time to be...unorthodox"
With that, the Obelisk Prelate reached into the Force, accessing his knowledge of bending minds to his will, while also dipping into the arcane arts of the Shadesworn Assassins. After a good bit of concerted effort, as he was no master, Talos had reached what he called the 'fade' of his Force potential and carefully draped a net of strong, Force-enhanced persuasion across the area.
The effects of Talos Erinos', known as The Fade, power weren't immediate, nor were they overt. Instead, as the two d'Tana's, Balthier and Etah, trooped along, they unknowingly shifted course until they were headed practically straight for Kieran and Juda Erinos, the Strike Team having put up two of their best against the dubbed 'FNGs', short for 'Frakking New Guys'.
Indeed, it was only the sharp wit and prior knowledge of Etah d'Tana, as well as Kieran and Juda bordering on exhaustion (they had just entered their ninth consecutive hour of tracking the mafia pair), that saved the Colonel and Tapani.
"Oh stang!" muttered Etah, the Colonel's voice seeming to echo through the forest.
Unaware of his elder brother's sudden halt, Balthier came within an inch of knocking into the Colonel. "What is it?" the Tapani noble asked after straightening up. Not deinging to reply vocally, Etah merely pointed towards the slight depression the two had been heading for...and as Balthier followed the Sakiyan's finger, his armor's photoreceptors picked up the outlines of two other Soulfire commandos.
"Oh stang is right," Balt thought in the Force, "How...where did we screw up?".
Again, Etah d'Tana didn't care to reply with any sort of words, vocal or otherwise, and instead just swung his arm about and with the energy of a man looking "death" in the face, emphatically gestured for Balthier to high-tail it back the way they had come.
Needless to say, Balthier mied Demen d'Tana didn't waste any time doing what was suggested....
The day prior the two d’Tana men had traveled seven miles toward their target, but had covered roughly nine and a half miles in total. Their route of travel looked like school boy scribbles written in crayon. Forward, right, forward, left, forward, left, forward. In random, difficult to scout or follow directions, they had marched on during the darkest parts of the night.
Under the soft glow of sunrise the Mirialan and the Saber Rake dug a solid hasty fighting hole, at the base of a rotting, giant petrified tree. It provided cover, concealment and had an amazing view of the stars. They slept and ate in shifts, one of the two always prone and ready to fire. Four hour guard shifts each to start, and two hour shifts thereafter.
Unbeknownst to the d’Tana men, two Erinos had set out not long after the FNG’s hit ground. Coming from the Wayfarer post, they traveled forty miles in roughly nine hours at close to a rate of five miles an hour with breaks in between. Their mission was to figuratively take out the two d’Tana’s, saving the other sixty-four members of Soulfire, the effort.
Talos had attempted to influence the two d’Tana’s, but their minds were strong and their defenses in the force were also strong. The young Prelate couldn’t influence them through the force or otherwise, any more than he could the Grand Master himself. But ironically or perhaps fatefully, the two Erinos managed to find their way to the two d’Tana’s through random happenstance.
As the gentle light of late afternoon gave way to the gentle darkness of an early evening, each man in turn began cleaning his weapons. Once the gentle darkness of early evening gave way to the harsh cold of early morning, the pair slipped out and began another night’s seven mile journey. Not five minutes later Etah cursed aloud.
"Oh stang!" The Colonel said in a harsh but hushed tone. He had sensed through the force, as well as through both sight and sound, on an unconscious level, as both Juda and Kieran closed with their position. Etah made a gesture that other people might have misinterpreted. But Balth got the meaning right away. As Kieran and Juda stepped through the brush and into a small clearing which included the hasty fighting position the d’Tana’s had slept in the day before, Balthier mied Demen d'Tana sprang into action.
Looking at the large tree, Balth focused on the rotting roots of the tree under which they dug the hasty fighting position. Blaster bolts whizzed uncomfortably close by, but he still switched his rifle onto his back briefly. Pulling his arms back, the blind Tepani pushed them forward toward the base of the tree, like a child might push water while trying to splash each other in the lake. The force bolted forward with strength and severed the rotted base. The mighty tree creaked as it fell on the two Erinos, its branches pinning them to the ground.
The blind Tepani was surprised that the two weren’t able to jump out of the way and grabbed the rifle off his back and moved forward as if to butt stroke Juda in the side of the head. Etah moved forward and grabbed the base of his brother’s rifle forcefully and simply shook his head at his brother. With a smile, the Mirialan kneeled down and picked up a packet of premium rations, knocked from one of the Erinos’s assault packs during the impact and he tossed them to Balth.
"Slice! This is some high quality rations, Etah." The other Prelate said with a sloppy grin.
The two nodded to each other as they utilized the force to move as speeds that only Equites and above could ever hope to match. Out distancing their two comrades that were pinned to the ground as much by their own exustiuon as the tree that weighed them down.