Eiko crouched over the small blocks of detonite, each one cased in black wrappers punctured with detonation cord. His own fingers glowed hot through the infrared vision of his mask as he drew the blocks together with blue adhesive – the predetermined signature of an Obelisk’s planned explosives.
“You’re nervous, aren’t you?” He asked softly, his voice dead and metallic through the mask’s speakers. “It’s just detonite – stable enough.” His eyes hunted for any sign of variation in the temperature of the blocks for a moment, cautious of any risk from static built up in the dry underground.
The Guardian stiffened his expression. Eiko rose, clapping his hands together to clear the tunnel’s dirt from his fingers before casually flicking open the guard on the detonation trigger. He shut it just as quickly, clamping the metal lid over the button.
“Tell me the next step, Furios.” Eiko stared at the Plagueian through the pin-hole retinas of his white mask.
“We check the area above ground.”
“Precisely. Back to Boyna, then out on to the main fight.”
“Are you sure this is the best way to deal with things? Two fighters on the field might kill more people than any one explosion.”
“This is a precaution. If the Krath start to pull together and swarm these tunnels with their abominations, then boom – we secure Boyna in one shot. Some Sith war-machine tries to overrun one of our field bases above ground? Boom. And if we don’t use it, then we don’t use it,” Eiko shrugged as he jammed a laser-triggered explosive into the rock at the entrance of the tunnel off-shoot. “Whatever happens, I just don’t want people toying with my handiwork.”
“Are you coming?” Furios called from further down the tunnel.
Eiko hurried a little to catch Furios, his whole body relaxed and casual. Eiko’s soft whistling faded in and out of the speakers as they worked back to Temple Boyna.
The pair walked out of the tunnel entrances and into the armory of the Temple Boyna. As long as this was an Obelisk controlled place, the chapel would always be an armory, containing the weapons and supplies required for war. Furios picked out a nice steel dagger, outfitted with a titanium blue blade and grip. This dagger was slightly bigger than the basic Combat Center blades and contained basic supplies in the hilt. It was meant for a long war. Eiko simply stood by and let Furios choose among the weaponry.
Finally, Furios signaled his content with thier supplies and they walked out of the Armory and up the stairs to the roof. Once there, Furios pulled a pair of military issue binoculars out of his small supply kit.
"Oh, great," Furios muttered sarcastically.
"What is it now?" his partner asked.
"Take a look," Furios said and handed Eiko the binoculars.
Eiko peered toward the battle and did not like what he saw. The Sith War Machines and Krath Warbeasts had overrun the Obelisk forces. Each enemy faction had their colossuses split between the Obelisk and each other. The battlefield was litered with purple, red, and blue armored bodies, but the blue was most common. The remaining Obelisk troops weaved in and out of the pillars, running for safety.
"Well, that's not good," Eiko uttered with a hint of surprise in his voice. "Let's get some more explosives. I have a good feeling we'll need them."
A few minutes later, the two Obelisk men stepped out of the entrance of the temple into the acrid smell of battle surging from the distant reaches of the area. Waves of the smell of distruction hit the dark jedi. It felt natural to them. Obelisk were practiacally bred for battle. The Temple Boyna loomed nearby with the rising sun behind it, making the shadow of the monstrous structure cover the entire area.
Furios let a small sigh of anxiety stream out of his mouth into the already warm Anteian air and the two headed across the short, deserted field to the main battle. The two men carried kits and bandoliers riddled with small explosives of various kinds. It was time for some more unconventional tactics.
The front line was a seething roll that rose up and collapsed on itself as lit sabers and stray blaster fire glimmered in the distance. Eiko drew his saber into his hand and let his thumb hover over the ignition switch, dropping his body into a crouch as he shifted along the floor of the field. Not far behind him, Furios gripped the dagger in one hand as he followed the Revanite toward the fray.
A column shuddered, the sandstone giving way in an echoing crack.
"Ground-47 is entering the field," Eiko called sharply into his mask. Frustration spilled out of his actions, the preemptive rush of adrenaline already dialating his eyes and outlining the details of the fight. His fingers flicked the switch under the lip of his mask, filtering his air and cutting out the dusty world outside.
Half of the column separated in mid-air, lifted by the force and brought down on the skull of a hulking warbeast, tossing up a wave of dust on all sides. The Dark Jedi who'd lifted the stone pillar leaned against a smaller block.
"Furios, cover him," Eiko pointed, igniting his saber as he lazily deflected errant blaster bolts. The Guardian rushed over, his eyes focused intensely on the fighting at the center of the area. Eiko slipped a block of wrapped explosives out from a bandolier pouch, leaving the pouch flap open as he tore off the adhesive backing and slapped the block against one of the pillars one row closer to the fighting. Letting his body fall into a natural roll, he cut back away from the pillar.
A softened fragment of stone clicked against his mask. The column tipped, slowly losing its fight against gravity as it fell into the empty space between the fighting and the recovering Dark Jedi.
Eiko exhaled. "That'll give us a little time to figure this out."
Furios had already drawn his body up against the pillars, peering around to look for any sign of snipers or backup supplies.
"Anything major coming?"
"There's a walker still off in the distance - Sith, but it's firing on the Krath now. No snipers," Furios said as he scanned the ridges.
Eiko nodded, undoing all the flaps on his bandolier and slipping the tongues into the pockets. "We're clear for the moment then." He managed to smile, the corners of his mouth jerking from the wild rush of battle. This side of the Temple had to hold.
"Two transports landing at our two and three," Furios announced.
Eiko let his saber twist idly in his hand, arcing smoothly with its distinct hum. Tightening his grip slightly, he stopped the blade's motion and held the ice-blue light over his head, signalling any groups that were following that he meant to charge into the fray. A pocket of Sith soldiers caught his attention.
"Let the Equites and Elders take care of any Dark Jedi. We take out the soldiers first - cut through to the transports and keep this place from getting any bloodier. Understand?" Eiko yelled.
"Good," yelled Furios back at his master. "Wait, follow me! I have a plan."
"What kind of plan?"
"Just follow me and I'll tell you what to do."
Before Eiko could get out a response, Furios ran off towards the transports, pulling his Armory Saber off his belt and charging the Sith soldiers that poured out of the ships.
"Damn," Eiko muttered and chased after his partner, pulling his saber as well.
Furios ran into the soldiers, saber twirling in and out of their limbs and bodies. The Sith troops were dead before Eiko could even arrive at the ship. Furios had already leapt inside and killed the pilots when Eiko came in. The other transport had already begun the taking off process.
"What are we doing?" Eiko asked.
"To start, throw a grenade into that transports engines before it takes off," Furios said as he started the engines.
Eiko did as he was told and the second transport's whole left side was destroyed as Furios brought the ship off the ground. The blast forced them away from the wreckage of the first ship and gave the pair a push into the right direction. As Furios brought the transport ship toward the battle, the Sith had thinned out most of the Krath and thier Warbeasts. The ship had been brought over a Sith Walker when Furios yelled to Eiko.
"Go sabotage that walker, we need to start taking out the Sith forces," Furios yelled to his partner over the scream of the engines and rumble of the machinery. "After that, we split up and meet back behind the pillar."
Eiko dropped down and placed a detonation pack on each side of the Sith walker. He immediately jumped off the walker and landed right on a speeder-mounted Sith soldier. He commandeered the speeder and raced back to the rendezvous point.
Meanwhile, Furios pushed the transport up, higher into the morning sky. He turned the transport ship around and changed course to a group of walkers and warbeasts that were in a skirmish on the ground. He let go of the steering aparatus and ran back to place det packs on the twin engines. Furios was about to just leap and take his chances when he saw something in the back of the transport. There was an emergency swoop bike stored in the back.
"That makes things much easier," Furios said to himself.
He grabbed the speeder and jumped on it going straight to the ground. The repulsor engines just barely kept Furios from hitting the ground and possibly injuring himself. He pulled the accelerator and sped off toward the rendezvous to meet up with Eiko. The transport behind him crashed into the skirmishing Sith and Krath. The combined explosion between the trasnport and the detonation packs on it's engines unsettled a lot of dust and smoke as well as scraps of metal and warbeast body parts. Furios proceeded to ride to the rendezvous point to meet up with Eiko.
Eiko turned the soldier's neck until all the tension built up in the bones and armor gave way to leverage. Quickly sliding the limp body out of the main seat, he steadied the controls and throttled down the speeder. A wide banking turn against one of the hills brought him back to bear on the AT-TE's blocky side legs.
Sad. They've already used up all the good fodder, Eiko thought to himself as he jammed his feet into the speeder's altitude controls. His shirt rippled against his side as he leaned forward against the momentum. When he let go, his senses were alive with the Force. As he tumbled, he watched the speeder's steering vanes crumple - then again as the electronics' circuits sparked in the air - then again as the engine smashed into the legs joint and tore the metallic hub into shreds. Half of the smoke was from the speeder - the other was from leaking oil that was now burning in plumes that charred the ground.
The explosion had dislodged some of the vital organs of the walker - servos, drive shafts, actuators, hydraulic lines. Oil lines. Electric circuits that controlled the atmospheric controls. Ventilation systems. Eiko tucked his body underneath the AT-TE's outer shell, ignoring the heat radiating from the crippled leg. Like a spider with one leg crushed, the walker was now correcting itself, favoring one side before the pilot overcorrected to the other. At least it was slowing down. That in itself was a victory of sorts.
"Command? Command? Group-47 is in the walker. Do not fire on the walker." Eiko pulled what looked like a heavy syringe from his belt and shoved the hollowed end into a portion of the vent system. He clapped his hand over the opposite end, collapsing the corrugated interior to shoot weaponized dioxis into the closed environment of the cabin.
"Confirmed, Group-47. Holding fire."
Eiko watched through the smoke as a speeder ripped back towards the main battle lines. Gently, he adjusted himself to get better footing as he propped himself between the exterior armor and the internal supports; he shifted his left foot over, then brought the rest of his body up to that point. Again, he drew himself a little further from the smoking leg and closer to the maintenance door near the back of the walker. It hummed with a shield - still active.
Eiko bit at the finger of his glove as he pulled it off his hand and wiped the sweat away on his jacket. Slowly, he caught hold of the Force and let his hand press against the door. The temperature of the door alone made him wince. With one hand against the door and the other clinging to a cable, Eiko drained the energy out of the door. He swung his hand around to try and cool it off, sliding his glove back on and drew a charge out of his bandolier. He cracked it in half, leaving the remote ignition device attached, and buried it in the crease of the door.
When he was back near the burning leg, he tensed his gut and shut his eyes. The flash of light still registered on the back of his eyes as vibrant red, even with his mask in place. The sound shook through his head - but at least the pilot wasn't correcting the walker's drift now. Pale green gas poured out of the opening and tumbled into the open air below, dispersing slowly in the dust.
His lightsaber returned to his hand from its clip as Eiko cautiously checked his mask's settings to make sure it was still set to filter the air. Otherwise, this would be a very short trip into the belly of a metal beast. He crept over the bodies of soldiers who had been trained for this one task - to take the AT-TE to Boyna and overrun it. Blue displays yelled angrily at operators who had collapsed over keys and controls. Everyone inside had suffocated.
Eiko worked along the panelling until he found one marked with a red and orange striped exterior. His saber severed the wiring to the other half of the behemoth's drive system.
The loud clack of boots against the metal decking spiked Eiko's alertness. He replayed the sound over and over again in his head, still trying to filter it from the ring of the breaching charge. Far too quickly, he stepped across the aisle into a maintenance alcove. Blue flashes grazed his coat. Before he'd realized exactly what had happened, Eiko instinctively sidestepped and drove his saber into the soldier's chest and partly into the wall panels. He didn't take the time to think about it, turning the corner and seizing the main gunner's seat.
The display came to life as Eiko swung the joystick slowly to the side. The reticle bore down on second wave of AT-TEs that were coming up from the distance, filtering out of the staging areas further east into the warzone of Temple Boyna. Overpenetration. Each shot lanced through the forward legs and continued to take out the ankle joint of the main legs - two AT-TEs floundering in their own smoke as they drifted and righted themselves, drifted and righted themselves.
Eiko slipped back into the corridor to the maintenance access that he'd blown open.
"Command, this is Group-47. Fire on all AT-TEs." Eiko pulled his saber and let it hang in his hand for a moment as he walked toward the mob of Sith and Obelisk. "Weapons Free on all AT-TEs."
The problem with any conscripted soldier was that they did what they were told. They fought forward, ignoring their flanks and ignoring their backs.
Eiko forcibly removed the thought from several soldier's heads before they started to think of fighting along their sides as well. Ahead, the front line was still swarming with soldiers - but something was drawing their collective attention away from the east where their reinforcements were slowly plodding up the valley. Eiko saw the reflection off of the tanks' exteriors well before the first salvo landed. The tanks were speeding down into the valley...
As soon as Furios got back to the fallen pillar, he had to change course. There were a handful of tanks on their way to save the slightly faltering Sith war effort. Damn, Furios thought and turned the speeder to face the battle between the Obelisk and Sith soldiers. With the Krath retreating back to their library, only red and blue armor littered the battlefield. Once Furios got to the troops, Eiko had slain most of the Sith that opposed the Obelisk forces. Eiko jumped onto his own speeder and the two Foxtrot Uniforms rode off to meet the Sith tanks.
Once the Obelisk pair came within firing range of the colossal machines, the tanks opened fire upon the speeder-mounted men. At first, dodging the shells and shrapnel was easy, but as Furios and Eiko came closer, Furios was thrown from his speeder by the force of a shell landing right in front of him, flinging the Guardian onto one of the enemy tanks. The particular tank's hatch opened up revealing a Sith soldier coming out to remove the blight from the tank. Furios quickly tore the Sith soldier's war mask off and punched the man in the face, knocking the Sith back down into the tank. A grenade quickly followed from Furios' bandolier and the hatch shut behind it.
Furios leapt from the tank and diverted his peripheral attention to Eiko just in time to see him slicing a hole in the side of another tank and throwing his own grenade into it. The tanks exploded in unison, hailing the other machines with hot metal. The Obelisk Dark Jedi proceeded to lift their destruction through the reaches of the Force. The display of telekinetic power struck awe in anyone who watched as the intact tanks were crushed by the destroyed ones. The last of the war machines finally managed to aim a shot at Furios while he was preoccupied with the other ones. The shell was hurtled from the tank at a screaming speed, but Eiko was faster. With the power of the Force, Eiko stopped the tank shell in mid flight, spun it around to face the tank, and hurled it back into the tank. The resulting damage left the tank in ruins and the two Obelisk walked out of the heavy black smoke, truly an impressive display.
"Do you understand the term overkill, Furios? Restraint? Control?" Eiko muttered acidly. He let his voice rise in volume as his pitch dropped. "I am not your master... You're not invincible - as much as you feel that you are."
"I've taken down two tanks."
"Full of conscripts," Eiko countered. His arms were only now regaining feeling from the exertion of drawing the Force down as quickly as he did. "Subtlety is a law of war."
"You're a Revanite and an assassin to boot," Furios laughed.
Eiko lowered his shoulders, his focus drifting out to the edge of the battle that he'd crossed through again and again. "Never underestimate your opponents. Or your allies." At least the Sith were fragmenting now, separating from the main battle to address threats like us. They aren't completely inane, Eiko bit angrily in his thoughts. "And never mistake age for experience."
"What do you mean by that?" Furios replied absently.
"Keep your eyes open. What did they teach you in Plagueis?" Eiko hestitated before going on. He pointed with the butt of his lightsaber at the fraying battlelines. "Though I give you credit for this: they're breaking up. Should make it a lot... Sabers!" Eiko yelled, curling his wrist until his blade settled into a classic ready-stance.
Furios jerked his head to the side to see the red saber spiraling through the air, smacking roughly against Eiko's saber in a burst of light. His armory saber ignited in a blue streak.
"Run, kid," Eiko barked sharply, tossing the remote detonator to the underground supplies to the Guardian. In the back of Eiko's mind, he knew that Furios was older. Furios obediently slipped the detonator onto his belt and hurried backwards to the tanks. "What the high kriff are you doing?" Eiko yelled, his voice scraping against his throat.
"Commandeering," Furios smiled.
Eiko's mind didn't think of the comment - his eyes were devoted to the fight at hand. The Sith drew the saber back to himself in a widening arc, letting it snap back into a gloved hand.
"Well met, Obelisk," the mouth grinned from underneath a velvet hood strewn with dust.
Eiko exhaled, unfocusing his eyes so that he could take in all the details from the battle around him. He rose slightly to the balls of his feet, shifting them from side to side to gain a little more traction against the dusty ground. The Sith took his time in approaching, relishing the challenge.
"You've made quite a presence on the battlefield - you and your student."
Cocky, Eiko thought, sorting all the information he could from his opponent's stance, weapon, demeanor. Cocky like any ambitious boot-shining Sith.
A shell whistled ruthlessly overhead, shredding the upper section of a pillar in the distance. Eiko didn't dare to take his eyes off his opponent. Instead, he stretched his senses backwards to the mass of tanks that lay behind him - still smoldering. One of them shifted slightly, its turret bearing back towards Eiko.
He flung himself away from the shell's trajectory - a ripple of air that stirred the smoke and dust as the shell plowed into the ground right in front of the Sith.
Eiko couldn't brace himself against the light shockwave, stumbling backwards as the messy, velvet-strewn remains separated in a long trail leading back to the main lines.
Kriff. Eiko understood the sudden turn of the masses of helmets before he recognized them. The Sith were now focused on the two Obelisk standing behind their lines.
Eiko lifted his lightsaber up to face the many Sith soldiers. He was about to charge when he heard Furios over the comm-link.
"Come on back to this tank," Furios said. "We can't stop this many troops with just lightsabers."
Eikos ran back to the tank, deflecting a few shots that flew towards him as the Sith opened fire. He climbed into the tank and saw Furios pushing forward with the weakened repulsor engines. Furios fired a shell at the oncoming soldiers. The shell crashed into about ten of them, but the blaster fire continued to singe and crack the hull. Suddenly, Furios let go of the controls and picked two small belts off the seat next to him.
"Put this cloaking device on," Furios demanded as he put one of them on himself.
The two immediately became transparent in the small cabin of the tank.
"Now let's get out of here before we're trapped for good," Eiko said in reply.
The Obelisk Dark Jedi crept out of the tank and quickly strode around the battle at hand. Around the time they got to an outlying pillar, a few of the Sith soldiers had begun to investigate the tank that had been recently occupied by Furios and Eiko. The soldiers were cautious. They dropped a smoke grenade into the tank's cabin and waited a few minutes. They deemed it necessary and dropped in, one by one. As soon as all but two of the troops were inside the tank, Furios pulled the detonation trigger and a pack set off, destroying the already badly damaged tank and killing the soldiers inside.
Furios and Eiko quickly rounded the remaining soldiers, who were turning their attention back to the Obelisk troops. The Obelisk Journeymen, meanwhile, came to a halt on the Sith flank a good distance away. The two pulled out their reserves of detonite to split it up, attaching blasting caps to each individual square.
"Alright, we can use about ten squares each and once they are all in place, we detonate it all," Eiko muttered to his partner. "If we place it on the Sith's ammunition pouches, there will be a slightly larger explosion."
"Sounds good to me," Furios replied. "We can end this battle in one quick move if we're lucky."
With Force-fed agility, Furios and Eiko wove in and out of the Sith troops, sliding the small squares into Sith ammunition pouches. It was easy since most of the Sith were taking cover behind various pillars to shoot at the Obelisk soldiers and therefore quite stationary. The plan would have gone without a hitch if the cloaking devices hadn't died. Furios was right in the middle of placing a charge on a commander's ammunition when it happened. Eiko, on the other hand, was at the very edge of a fallen pillar and could easily roll to the end without being noticed when his did the same.
The Sith Commander quickly turned and struck Furios in the head with the butt of his gun. Furios collapsed and slid into unconsciousness. The last thing he saw before passing out entirely was the Sith soldiers looking down on him.
When Furios came to, there were only Obelisk soldiers in his view. Then Eiko stepped into his path of vision.
"What happened?" Furios groaned.
The shells in the background and the slight concussion made it hard to hear what Eiko's reply was, but when Eiko saw the blank expression on his face he said it again.
"The Sith diverted their attention to you," Eiko repeated. "Then our soldiers shot the hell out of them. They retreated and I blew them up once you were out of the blast radius and now the remaining Sith are in full retreat."
Furios stood up and began using the Force to heal his head injury. Bacta had already been applied, but the actual concussion was still affecting him.
"So what's happening next?" Furios asked.
"See for yourself," Eiko replied and handed Furios his binoculars.
Furios saw the shimmering red armor slowly shift back, soldiers retreating to transports. "They're in full retreat, just like you said."
"Not all of them. Look at the center of that pack - there are two or three Jedi left out there." Eiko pointed to the forces stumbling backwards. His attention drifted to one of the soldiers standing nearby, white armor scuffed and marked with dust and blaster scoring. "I need a comlink."
"You had one in your mask, didn't you?" Furios questioned.
Eiko turned his head to the side to show the long melted scar in his mask. "Repairable - didn't even breach the environmental layer."
The soldier pulled off his helmet in the shelter of the collapsed pillars, plucking the speaker and microphone from his ear and drawing the wire back from its connection near the collar of his armor. The comlink was one long wire, a full headset. Eiko nodded stiffly as he pulled the mask off of his head and adjusted the comlink in his ear.
"Command, this is Group-47. I lost communication," Eiko spoke dully.
"You're on... CT-1661's set. Redesignate?"
"I need to know what groups are left on the southern side of Boyna."
The voice at the other end hesitated. "20, 26, 37, and 47 are still on the field."
"The Sith are retreating. Bravo C-4 and C-5 are on the southern edge, right?"
"They're already working on mop-up operations, Ground-47."
Eiko drew his hand away from his ear, tucking his mask into a pouch at his belt. "They're set for cleanup. We're not needed here. The Sith might regroup and try again... but it'll take a little time. Boyna took a little bit of a beating. We should..."
"Group-47?" the voice sounded sharply in his ear.
"There's a Krath team pursuing one of our reconnaisance teams through the tunnels. You have the trigger for the safeguard?"
Eiko pulled the trigger from Furios's equipment, loose articles that had to be peeled away to administer the bacta. "Patch me over to the team at the tunnel access."
"Patching. Group-47 and 12, hardlinked," the operator noted, stress creeping through his voice.
"12, this is 47 - the safeguard operator. I need to know exactly when you have our guys back. Slam the door and bolt it. Over."
"Got it. Stand by - we can see them up the way."
Eiko shut his eyes in concentration. His thumb hovered over the sheen of the trigger.
"Go," 12 called back, the hum of shield generators coming to life adding a crackle to the transmission.
Eiko let himself exhale halfway, tightening his muscles to minimize the shock that would come through. The trigger whined briefly, a glowing red bar giving a visual sense that the signal now burrowed into the earth toward the central controller.
From the small metallic control box, electric pulses jumped into detonation cables and into the black-wrapped explosives. The air heated instantly and expanded as the shockwave raced down each side of the tunnel. The pressure swell alone would have knocked a human out cold. Above ground, the dust pulsed and rippled with the forces underground - not loud, but damaging.
The tunnel's roof tore in a wide line, pouring loose dirt, packed clods, and solid boulders into the accessway. Like sand rushing through a sieve, the surface caved in an unsteady ripple.
Furios held his forehead, still trying to fight off his concussion. "I thought you said..."
"It wasn't about killing," Eiko interrupted, his voice dry as he slowed his heart rate back to normal. "It was about victory." Revan Nian, he noted softly in the back of his mind, exhaling.
"You're unlinked, Group-47," the operator announced. "Cave-in was successful."
Eiko nodded for Furios to head back into the Temple's common area, shielded by the suppressed flashes of the sniper units picking off the Sith one by one.