Life of a Soldier

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Life of a Soldier

Post by Aardvark on Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:25 am

//This and the three posts following it are all one continuous story.

Unfinished

Dark Crusader War: Day 1

"Still no news on the mass disappearance of Jedi and Sith Temples all over the Galaxy today, and the Temple Masters have declined to comment. One thing is clear though, crime is up! Theft, Kidnapping, even Murder rates have gone through the roof in recent months and there appears to be no end in sight. The Corellian Security Force is doing all it can to handle the increase in crime, but without Jedi assistance they are having to ration their resources, and without Sith vigilantism there is nothing to discourage crimes both minor and major in districts throughout the sector. The people are are angry and afraid and the one question on everyone's mind is: Where are the Jedi?"

"How can you listen to this drivel?" Cyrinity Feckle asked as she reached over and shut the comm down.

Salm Tibal shrugged, "What else am I supposed to do Cy?"

The Arkanian woman looked hard at him, "I don't know Salm, we could talk!" She shook her head at him as if his levels of stupidity astounded her.

The human sighed and looked over at his co-pilot, "About what? We've known each other since we were kids, at this point what's left to be said that hasn't been said, repeatedly in the last twenty years? We're both in dead-end jobs, we live in the middle of no where, both of which are impressive feats on Corellia, and I don't see us ever making enough money to change that any time soon. We spend our days hauling freight together so I seriously doubt you could tell me about your day and when we're not both working we're usually too tired for social lives, so what do you want us to talk about? Your sparring practice? You know I don't give a damn. My target practice?" he laughed, "Oh yeah there's a riveting topic, 'Did I tell you I managed to shoot a can yesterday while hopping on one leg? Man I don't know what use that would be but isn't it impressive?' Come on Cy, we've got nothing to talk about."

"And listening to the same stories repeated over and over on the holonet is any better?" She shot back.

"You've got me there," Salm answered, turning back to the task at hand. Cyrinity began to nod approval, "So we won't do either," Salm cut in before she could begin again, enjoying the annoyed look on her face.

She threw her hands in in defeat, "Fine, I'll just sit here and stare out the window!" She turned around and stared at the scenery, not that there was really anything to see, they were taking a shortcut across a forest, pushing the skiff's repulsors to their absolute max to clear the tree tops, in order to cut an hour off their flight time. The only thing out there were the tops of trees as far as the eye could see and even those were flying by so fast that it would just look like a blur of green. She was simply sulking as he knew she would, but it wasn't all bad, the position his copilot was in was giving him a nice view of her... assets. Remarkable really how she could still make a pair of baggy, dirt stained pants look sexy.

As if sensing what he was thinking she quickly turned around and put a finger in his face, less then an inch away, "I've told you a million times, stop staring at my ass!"

Salm put his hands up in mock surrender, unable to hide the smile from his face. "I can't help it, it's the only view I haven't gotten bored of yet!"

Cy sighed, disgusted, and slumped back in her chair, "You're a pig you know that? I can't believe we're still friends."

"Admit it," he answered, dropping his voice to a deep basso, "you love my roguish charm."

"I think I'm gonna be sick."

"Come with me," he continued, "and that feeling can last a lifetime."

"Keep it up, your lap is looking more and more like a bucket with each comment...."

-------------------------------------------------------

The Commander rounded a corner, came to attention and immediately barked, "Attention!"

Kir Cari was rewarded with a mad scramble as his odd assortment of pilots struggled to get into some semblance of the at-attention pose, abandoning cards they never should have had out, and spitting drinks that were both against regulations and all good taste at this hour. He had known long before he entered the room that his pilots were doing anything but what they were supposed to be doing, he knew this because he'd just grown to expect it over the years and as he waited patiently for the pilots assembled to gather themselves into a single row, his expectations were met with flying, if depressing, colors.

He began counting and immediately noticed he was two short. "Lieutenant Malcom!" He called, turning to a tall brown haired pilot who was just now hopping out of a closet while trying to put his pants on, one of the young female pilots trying to do the same. Inwardly he sighed at the unsightly display the man was putting on, no longer surprised at anything the man did and constantly wondering exactly who in power he had managed to sleep with to get his rank.

It took almost a full minute, but the man came to full attention, despite knowing how stupid he looked, "Yes sir!"

Kir shook his head in disappointment, "What is your current assignment?"

The man frowned, "Blue Squadron is to remain on standby should the Security Force require assistance."

"And is this Blue Squadron?"

"Yes s-"

"And does this situation seem to even remotely qualify as ready?"

The man looked down on the Sullustan in front of him trying to find something to read in the obviously inhuman face and failed, "We were just-"

"Yes or no?" Kir shouted again.

"No Commander," the lieutenant replied, sulkily. "Permission to speak freely sir?"

The Commander considered the request for a moment. The man should have been apologizing profusely by this point and promising never to do it again, something he never lived up to for more than a day, but this was out of character in his experience. "Granted," He responded after a moment, he was interested to see what the man had to say for himself. Who knew, maybe he had finally seen the error of his ways when forced to break off intimates with a pilot fresh from the Academy. Maybe he clean up his act, strive to do better, and finally start acting like the officer he his rank indicated and Kir knew he could be.

The man relaxed a little, "Sir we've never, and I repeat never in my time here ever had to scramble the fighters. We're in a time of peace and aside from a rising crime rate, there is and never has been a threat to Corellia in my lifetime. So what exactly is the harm in relaxing and having a little fun once and a while?" He finished with a smile, obviously satisfied that he had successfully told his commander off.

Kir's shoulders sagged, his hopes dashed. He just didn't understand, none of them did. He was the Base Commander, he was responsible for the safety of Coronet and, to a lesser extent, the entire planet. The whole point of appointing a squadron to standby was to make sure there was always a force ready to respond to any threats, but none of his men saw it that way. Malcom wasn't the only one, he had two other squadrons under his command and they acted the same, the Lieutenant was only the current worst of them. He knew his problem wasn't a new or unique one, many worlds in the Galactic Alliance were like this, they were at peace and had been for a long time. No one alive knew what war was like, none of them were ready for the grim realities, save the special forces, and nobody believed that just those extra few seconds could mean the difference between life and death.

He sighed and was just about to begin another useless speech informing his pilots of the merits of being ready for anything when the raid siren began blaring. He knew what it was, what it meant, but he couldn't quite believe it was going off. That particular siren had not gone off in this base for nearly one hundred years, its sound would be foreign to anyone who hadn't taken the time to learn what it meant. They were under attack, and not a minor one, it wouldn't sound if there wasn't something serious going down, if this wasn't a life and death threat. He knew from his studies that whenever that siren went off there was a good chance of there being a body count afterwards, but he couldn't help but smile at it's timing. He turned to the pilots who were looking around confused, "Well Lieutenant Malcom, you're about to find out."

---------------------------------------------------------

Tyrena, Corellia, a mecca of entertainment and the one place every tourist was guaranteed to visit on the planet. It was a beautiful city surrounded by water and situated right next to both Coronet and the Golden Beaches, themselves major tourist destinations. More money was spent here then in any other city on the planet, a place where you could find anything and then find an opportunity to lose it all in one stupid move. In this city you were either were a mark or working one, and what Alelena Ijaaz was eying a couple right now.

The Twi'lek peeked around the corner of warehouse and withdrew almost immediately, pulling back before she knew what it was her eyes had seen, hoping they would hold the image long enough for her brain to process it. It was a move that provided risky intel sometimes, as you could never be sure if certain details were real or things your own mind had made up to fill in the blanks, but she preferred it to letting her head stick out long enough for someone to shoot her lekku off. Two guards right in front of the door we need to go through, end of the pier so they're only a couple meters from the water, and a single camera aimed to capture them and the door, two stories up, near the roof. She reviewed it again in her head, making sure she came back with the same image, when she did she nodded and turned back to her crew. She flipped up two fingers on her left hand to indicate a number and then put two fingers down on the other to indicate what the number represented, in this case guards. Then she flipped up one finger and a fist followed by crossing her arms, one holocam watching the guards and their only entrance into the building. Finally she made a wave motion and drew a line in front of it, the pier ended here.

Nola Anturk, her Mon Calamari demolitions expert nodded and ran over to the edge of the pavement they were standing on and slide into the water dragging a backpack full of explosives in a variety of shapes, sizes, and yields under with her. Nola had always been a bit of a wild element. She had always made it clear she worked with them only because they managed to find good scores fast, but she was good at her job and hadn't done anything to make her believe she was a threat, but Alleena always worried about how loyal she would turn out if she were ever caught. This job placed her in a precarious position for a lot longer than Alleena was comfortable with, but there was nothing she could do about it. This shipment of personal shields was worth a small fortune and could keep them going for six months, but it was too big to move with just four people and a handful of fighters. If they could get in though, reprogram the shipping manifest and get them redirected to a 'less secure facility' they could come in later with a bigger ship and haul it all away. It was a huge score, but that meant it would require careful planning and all her resources, even if she wasn't sure she could trust them.

Xoquon Verasx, a Verpine engineer turned slicer and hot wiring aficionado, turned silently around, dragging her attention away from her concerns, and began his long trek around the back of the building and eventually the other side. Unlike Nola, Alelena knew Xo would stay loyal. She had known the insectoid for a long time, had actually smuggled him off-planet after the Verpine had 'inadvertently' killed his senior mechanic over a calibration dispute. He claimed he had simply been trying to illustrate to the mechanic what his calibrations looked like to him, hitting the board until it gave him the numbers he wanted, when the hydrospanner had slipped and cracked the man's skull. It was a plausible excuse given the reluctance most Verpine had to commit acts of violence and he probably would have been put on probation, but eventually let go. Problem was he had panicked when the mechanic had stopped moving and instead of seeking medical help he had pushed the body into a trash compactor to get rid of the evidence. It was just his bad luck that the compactor he shoved the body into was currently undergoing a surprise inspection. In short he owed her, and he knew it. Whereas most sentients would take offense at that though, the Verpine seemed to find renewed purpose.

Kettch tapped her on the shoulder and gestured up. No words had to be spoken between them, Alleena knew what he wanted and placed her hands low to comply. Kettch got a running start and, when he planted his foot on her hands, she threw him up while he simultaneously kicked off, sending him sailing up to the roof of the warehouse. She imagined to anyone watching it would have looked ridiculous, a diminutive Twi'lek hurling an Ewok into the air and she supposed it was, but Kettch was no normal Ewok. It wasn't clear exactly why he was different, Kettch was a being of few words, but from what little he'd told her she had been able to piece most of it together. Descended from a genetically modified Ewok during the days of the old Galatic Empire, Kettch was easily as smart as any human and tough as nails, having been designed to replace the dwindling number of stormtroopers in the old Empire. Whatever the case, his abilities had earned him the position of combat specialist in her little band of pirates. He was far stronger then he looked and while not able to lift as much as even as a strong human he had lightning fast reflexes and a grip strength that could put a Wookiee to shame. To her personal shame he was also not only a good pilot, but one of the best she had ever seen, using arm and leg prosthetics to reach the control when not in his own custom designed cockpit. The whole thing was completely ridiculous, but she couldn't deny that he was effective at what he did. Without him they wouldn't have been half as effective as they were as a unit. Though for this mission he would simply be unplugging the holocam long enough for Nola to plant the explosives and Xo to run in and do his reprogramming,

Of course none of that would happen if Alleena didn't get off her ass and get to work. She sighed, she really hated doing this, hated the way it made her feel, the way it reminded her of a past she really did not want to revisit, but she couldn't deny it was very effective under the right circumstances and these were those circumstances. She took off her shirt pulled down her pants revealing a second set of clothes beneath, though on most worlds they would still qualify as undergarments. The skirt was shirt enough to give someone a people show even when fully erect and the top was so small and thread-bare it was almost not worth having, but she somehow doubt her black pants and gray top would have the same effect, even if the pants were rather tight at times. She took the time to chuck her clothes up to Kettch and put on her best smile. Let's get this over with, she walked around the corner and immediately strode towards them in the most alluring way she could manage without wanting to gag herself. She immediately caught both guard's attention, both were human, both had black hair, and they had similar faces, probably brothers or cousins, not that it mattered, what did matter was how the closer one was looking at her. It wasn't hard to figure out what was going through his mind, and immediately she knew he was the target.

She came to a stop in front of them and watched the close one look her up and down, "Can I help you sweetie?" He asked absently.

She looked up into his eyes with a look that she knew said "I want you" and put a sensuous tone into her voice, "My speeder broke down and I need a big," she spread her hands over his.... lack of muscles, "strong," she sidled up close to him, "man to help me."

"Well sure," he replied with a big stupid smile, "I'd be mighty pleased to help such a beauty."

"Rik," the other said, "you know we can't leave our post."

"The little lady needs help bro," he said back, "and I intend to give it."

Alleena knew is she didn't start coaxing the man's third leg his brain would start working and he'd realize his brother was right, so she began pulling him with her, making sure to give her ass a little shake to keep the man's attention. It wasn't even hard, the man was practically ready to jump her already. The other guard called his brother but it was obvious she had Rik's complete and undivided attention. She cast a glance over her shoulder saw the dilemma play out over the brother's face, whether to stay and do his duty or to come with his brother to make sure he didn't get in trouble... and maybe get lucky in the process. If he didn't come with them then she would have to improvise and seriously risk their plan in the process. But she needn't have worried, as she expected the lower brain won out over the higher and he trotted along like a good little dog after his brother and his score.

She knew the moment she was out of sight her crew would get to work. Kettch would pull the camera, Nola would hop out of the water plant a timed explosive, and dive back in, the explosive would have just enough time to let her drag the guards a good distance away before blowing, then Xo would reprogram the manifest's shipping instructions and steal a couple unit on the way out to make it all look like a robbery. After that Alleena would find a way to ditch her two love-sick puppies and they would all rendezvous at the TIEs. By the time she actually made it to the speeder they had stolen and sabotaged at the roadside the job would be done. All she had to do was keep the guard's attention and as always, that was proving very easy.

It took them about five minutes to reach the speeder and another ten minutes of flirting and peep shows before the two idiots figured out the battery wasn't plugged into the speeder's engine. She thanked them profusely and put off their obvious attempts to get in her pants right then and there, instead giving them a fake address where they could find her 'any time for a good time' and drove off. By the time they actually gave the address a check she'd be off-world and when they found the signs of forced entry they would just assume she was a dancer who'd been hired by the thieves as a decoy. She knew they wouldn't actually look any further into it, they never did. There was a stigma attached to red-skinned Twi'leks, though nobody else seemed to notice it. They were highly sought after as dancers and, though no one outright said it, sex slaves. As such any red-skinned Twi'lek seen by the public was assumed to be either a dancer, or untrustworthy. They always figured the Twi'lek had to have been a dancer, they never gave them another choice and thus when they found one outside the dancing field they assumed she had run away and probably killed her master to escape. Twi'lek masters were not known for their generosity after all. Aleena had done neither, never been a dancer, though she had been trained for it, and had never been sold into slavery though not for lack of trying,but she knew the stereotype existed and knew she could use it to her advantage, as she had just done. She had just begun to laugh at the poor sots when the siren began.

-------------------------------------------------

Cy saw the city first as a white speck on the horizon against a backdrop of jagged mountains and knew their long trip was coming to a close. She'd had nothing to do the entire time Salm was driving and was looking forward to stretching her legs for a while, maybe get something to eat besides protein bars, but all too soon they be back in the skiff and heading back to Corellia. She always had to shake her head at it's name, a pun of the slang comm and the planet they lived on, but they payed pretty well and put up with Salm's antics so she could excuse the horrible name choice.

Just as the military compound they would be making the delivery, Salm put the speeder into a sharp rise, prompting Cy to grab the sides of the cab. "Really?" Cy asked, quickly reacting for the safety harness and strapping it across her, "Again?"

"Oh let me have my fun," Salm answered with a cocky grin. As the speeder rose through the air, gaining more altitude then the vehicle had even been intend hit, he turned to looked at her, "This is the only part of the trip where I get to do anything but drive in a straight line."

"Fun is fine, fun is good," the engine's whine began to grow as they ascended, making Cy raise her voice, "but if we die because you taxed the engines too much I am going to haunt your ass off."

The skiff began to cough as the engine strained to maintain its level speed with all the fuel being sucked out by gravity, "Relax, I know what this baby can do," he patted the dash just as the engine quit. The power went dead and the sound in the cabin dropped to near silence as their rise began to slow. With the driving force of their engine gone there was nothing to keep them going up, and nothing to keep them from plummeting to their deaths. Cy risked a look out the window to see exactly how far the rescue crew would have to look to pick up all the pieces and was disturbed to see that Doaba Guerfel, their destination, was only a white stain on the ground. This caused her to revised her initial accession, they probably wouldn't even bother looking for the pieces.

"Now the real fun starts," Salm said as their rise ceased and they hung in the air for just a moment before they began falling. In a starfighter, or even an expensive speeder, the forces exerted on them would have been negated by Inertial Compensators, but this was not an expensive skiff, the only Inertial compensators they had were for their cargo and what money Salm had put into the vehicle had gone into the repulsor and engine power, not such trivialities as making sure they had gravity in free fall. As she looked back on that, this was probably why he had never bothered.

Cy let out a string of curses as they picked up speed, quickly hitting terminal velocity, a string of curses her mother would have killed her for using, but the wind whipped past them so fast that she doubted her co-pilot could hear a single word. Salm wasn't paying any attention anyway, he had his feet up as the wind buffeted him and made his pants and jacket snap about wildly along with a stupid smile on his face. Cy very nearly reached over and slapped him, but felt her lunch threaten to float up with the rest of her and focues on forcing it back down instead. It wouldn't do for her blood stain on the ground to be covered in vomit after all. She looked over at Salm, laughing at her reaction. He was flipping around grabbing onto the steering wheel to keep from hitting the ceiling and pulling his feet back under the dash to reach the peddles. She gave him a look that would whither most men instantly, but he simply laughed harder and leaned out the window to watch as they neared the ground.

At the last second Salm tilted the skiff back to a 45 degree angle to the ground and suddenly the power was back. The repulsors were bounced them off a compound wall she hadn't known would be there and sent them hurtling back. The impact sent the two of them into their seats, hard, then right into their restraints as their fall speed was transformed into backward movement, a speed still more then capable of flattening them, just against the compound wall instead of the pavement. Salm flipped the speed up to max and diverted repulsor power to it for a second, slowing them quickly but leaving them in free fall for a few crucial seconds. Right before they were about to skid across the ground he activated the repulsors again flipping them high into the air and over a gravsled that had been passing behind them, the personnel shaking their fists at them as they sailed past. They bounced again when their speeder dropped back down, but by then Salm had already switched the engines into reverse and was in the process of spinning the speeder around to shed even more speed as they rapidly approached an open spot. At the last second he shut it all down and let them glide neatly into an open space, bumping gently into the side of the building.

Salm let out a yelled of jubilation and looked over at Cy, her face gone from it's normal white to a bright red. He clambered out of his seat just before Cy's hands could close over his throat. "I am going to kill you!" She yelled struggling to remove the harness.

The cocky young human backed away, the smile still plastered across his face, "That sensation you're feeling? That's adrenaline, it's what happens when you have fun, but if you really insist on spurning my gift to you and feel the urge to strangle someone I'll stand by and let you do it." He put his hands up, "Just let me go get your victim." With that he dashed off and Cy was left with a lot of anger and no where to direct it.

Breath, breath, remember your Echani lessons, she thought to herself, struggling to regain composure. She had learned years ago what Salm did with anything that moved and had decided then to take Echani lessons. Initially she did it to learn how to kick his ass whenever he pulled stunts like this, but found out that the "Jedi breathing exercises" were a lot easier and a lot faster to learn, though she still stayed long enough to learn how to kick his ass. The thing was, as much as she hated to admit it, he hadn't actually kriffed up yet, his stunts were dangerous no doubt, but he hadn't done anything that hurt her or anyone else and he was a fantastic pilot when he wanted to be. So she had held off, but this was starting to get out of hand, she needed to talk to him about a more healthy outlet for his desire to die.

Finally sure she wouldn't murder the first person she saw Cy climb out of the cabin and locked it down, heading to the rear to unlock the cargo container. The compound was a buzz with activity, most of it caused by Salm's little trick, but that was being generous, 'a buzz' in this case just meant most of the other skiff drivers were looking at her as if she were crazy and the military personnel were too busy shaking their heads or laughing their asses off to get any work done. The facility itself was bare durscrete for twenty meters around the compound, surrounding a series of closely packed buildings varying in size from storage sheds to office complexes, all painted in the CorSec green and white. They were parked at one of the larger buildings, the main administration building, but from here she could spot the secondary hanger at the back corner of the compound, it's paint chipped and fading from disuse, and several of the recreational facilities like the gym and pool. Considered non-essential buildings they tended to be placed as an outer cordon in case of invasion.

As she was looking around and unlocking the back of the skiff she saw Salm walking toward her with someone between them acting as a human shield, or rather a Falleen shield in this case. Her face began burning again and she idly wondered if she could manage to arc her hydrospanner over the man to hit her co-pilot.

"Hello Cy," Sham Athzaria said with a look of pity, "I heard about the rough landing. Do you need medical help?"

Cy blushed out of embarrassment bringing the red hue back to her skin, "I'm fine," she glanced around the Alliance soldier, "Salm however is on borrowed time." Sham laughed at that and that's when Cy saw the new chevron on his uniform, "Oh you were promoted. Congratulations!"

Now it was Sham's turn to blush, though for a Falleen that meant turning entirely red, "Yeah, Corporal Athzaria now. I can finally take whole deliveries all by myself."

"Can I come out now?" Salm asked from behind their friend.

Cy hefted her hydrospanner, still reviewing that problem, they were much closer now so she would have to arc it more. She was about to let the man have a piece of her mind, but Sham beat her to it, looking behind his back, "She's still got a hydrospanner, I wouldn't."

Cy used the 'spanner to loosen the straps, pretending they were her co-pilot's throat, it helped, but there were only so many straps. She looked at it once wistfully, then sighed and chucked it into the back of the skiff theatrically, "You've got a stay of execution until we get this inside."

Salm jumped out, saw her face, and decided for once in his life to keep his mouth shut. Instead he just pulled out the gravsled and they loaded it up in silence, then followed Sham inside the building. "You know Salm," Sham said as he led them along the dull gray halls, "I really wish you would reconsider joining up, you've got the piloting skills," he glanced over at Cy and blushed adding, "both of you do."

Salm shrugged, "You know that's not for me man, I can't stand orders. 'Go here, clean there, sign these papers and maybe we'll let you fly.' " He shook his head, "I'd rather be free to pilot a skiff, then ordered to pilot an starfighter, because at least with the skiff I can have some fun. Even if Cy's quietly plotting my death."

"Who's being quiet?" Cy asked.

"Well what about you Cy," Sham persisted.

"We've been over this," she answered, shaking her head, "someone's got to watch him," she nodded to her co-pilot, "otherwise people won't keep joking about killing him, they'll just do it."

Sham shrugged theatrically, a smile on his face to let them know there were no hard feeling, "I tried." They passed through a set of double doors and moved into a warehouse stacked high with boxes and crafts of all shapes, sizes, and colors, all stacked together up to the ceiling ten meters above them. He waved them over to an open spot, "Drop it anywhere while I check this in," he said, heading to an office in the corner of the warehouse near where they had just entered.

Cy slid the crate off the grav sled and turned to lean against it as Salm moved the gravsled out of the way. She watched Sham talk with the quarter master, an old Duros, and looked at her longtime friend, "Honestly, why don't you sign up? I'm sure you could find someplace that would let you fly and you'll never get that chance hauling freight."

Salm shifted uncomfortably, "I know, but it's more important to me to stay here," he avoided the question.

"Why?" Cy asked, honestly curious and not willing to let him off that easily, not after the stunt he had just pulled. She had been trying to get the answer out of him for months and he had stonewalled her each time, this time she was going to get answers.

"Honestly?" He asked. Cy nodded. He shifted again, squirming, "Well because y-"

The rest of the man's sentence was drowned out as a siren blared over the building's intercomm. She'd never heard the sound before, it sounded like a Bantha in heat. She clamped her hands over her ears and was getting ready to chastise the quarter master for letting his equipment get into such poor shape when she saw Sham running toward them, his face pale, his features set in serious concentration, and a blaster on his hip that hadn't been there a few moments ago. Instantly she knew something was wrong, seriously wrong.


Last edited by Aardvark on Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:02 am; edited 4 times in total

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Re: Life of a Soldier

Post by Aardvark on Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:26 am

Kir ran up the ladder to his X-83 Twintail taking it two and three rungs at a time, fully aware that time was of the essence. He swung into his seat and began flipping switches, initiating a quick warm-up sequence. "Chip, he called to his ship, "I need a status report, what have we got?" A message flashed across his screen letting him know the ship was quarrying Flight Control for more information. X-83s, unlike most Incom starfighters was not equipped to hold an astromech, mainly because it was an astromech. The starfighter had a built in computer with it's own unique personality making astronavigation and personality quirks inseparable from the rest of the ship unless modified otherwise. The design limited the pilot in what they could use astromechs for and if you crashed it you were on your own, but it drastically sped up start-up procedures. Since the astromech didn't have to be put in place the ship only needed a pilot and, with the enhanced computer programming, it could warm-up from a cold start in under a minute. The unique design of the ship made it the default fighter for all Galactic Alliance outposts that might be required to launch fighters for defense.

The speakers activated in his cockpit as he slid the canopy shut, and brought his repulsors online, "We've got reports of multiple capital clash ships in orbit Commander!" The voice yelled before Kir could get a word out, "Sensors designate them as two Victory-class Star Destroyers, an Imperial Two Star Destroyer, and two Lancer-class frigates."

Kir froze at the report, each of those Victories could field three squadrons of fighters, the ImpStar Deuce could field six, giving them a total of twelve squadrons. Three full wings, two Fighter wings and a Bomber wing if they were operating at full capacity and he had no reason to believe they were not. That alone put Corellia severely underpowered as the planetary defense was limited to an old Interceptor frigate and a single wing of fighters, spread out across the planet, but even more depressing was the presence of not one, but two Lancers. Lancer-class frigates were specifically designed to take out starfighters and were exceedingly good at it, against one they might have a chance if they got into point-blank range, with support from the Interceptor, but two could cover each other's backs. It didn't take long for the math to tally up, they had no where near the numbers they needed to win this fight, they were out-classed in every field and worse, the enemy had known exactly what to bring.

As the hanger doors slowly opened he keyed his comm, "Verify that Flight Control, three star destroyers and two lancers?" If those numbers were correct then this was no pirate attack, no raid by another planet with a grudge, this was a full scale invasion with enough fire power to crush any resistance. For the life of him he couldn't think of a single group with this kind of firepower that had issue with them and there was no way anyone should have been able to get this close unnoticed until they were right on top of them, not at that size.

"Affirmative," the man replied, doing his best to keep panic out of his voice and failing.

Kir swallowed hard, he knew what he had to do, but he'd never expected it would ever come to this, his first and probably last command action, "I'm issuing Command Order One. I repeat Command Order One." Command Orders were the same on every Galactic Alliance world, they dealt exclusively with emergency scenarios, the lower the number, the more dire the situation. Order One was essentially the setup of a rebellion, it meant they had already lost this battle and there was no point in even trying to fight the enemy head-on, "Batten down the hatches. Blue Squadron, our objective had changed. We are to provide cover for Coronet until they can evacuate and then we will go to ground. This is a Command Order, anyone caught violating this order will be shot on sight. Launch when ready, drop usual assignments, repeat form wing pairs as they become available." The Commander squeezed his control yoke until his knuckles were white, "Blue One lauching!"

Kir screamed out of the hanger going immediately to full speed and circling around to get eyes on the city. He saw Lieutenant Malcom on his wing almost immediately, having launched right behind him. He looked at the pilot through the canopy and nodded, acknowledging that whatever dispute they had had moments ago was over now. They were here to save lives.

The Commander checked the information Flight Control was feeding him. The Duece, Lord's Will was hanging almost directly above them, already disgorging fighters, while the two Victorys, Painful Death and Death's Embrace, had their Interceptor frigate in a cross fire was tearing the ship apart. One Lancer, Fly Swatter was positioned over Doaba Guerfel, Corellia's second biggest city, and the other, Bug Squasher over Tyrena, their third largest. In short, the enemy had already destroyed their only orbital defense and had frigates in place to hit the two most likely spots of resistance, with TIEs already descending over every major defense installation across the planet, including one burning through the atmosphere to drop in on Coronet even now. He peeled around and immediately saw a squadron of a TIE Predators dropping through the clouds, their flight path suggesting they intended to strafe the city.

Kir shunted all power to his engines and shot forward, closing distance with the starfighters faster then they had anticipated and was within targeting range before they could level out from their dive. He immediately evened out his power and, while he was waiting for his laser banks to recharge, switched over to Proton torpedoes, firing one at the lead TIE the second he had a lock. The torpedo closed the distance in the blink of an eye and obliterated the fighter, the fireball expanding and catching two others in it's wake, frying their shields. Kir began to track one of the falling TIEs when, suddenly Malcom came roaring through spitting fire at the unshielded fighters, getting both kills in a matter of seconds. He began to yell congratulations at the pilot, expecting him to do the smart thing, turn, and form up with him, but instead he kept on flying, letting a pair of TIE drop onto his tail.

Kir congratulations ended in a curse as he was forced to gun his fighter and fly after the man, hoping to save the foolish pilot before he could get himself killed. He targeted the lead TIE and began firing without a lock, hoping they would panic and split so Malcom and he could follow and land on their tails, but they didn't budge. Instead they continued to fire on the lieutenant wearing down his shields quickly. Swearing at the pilots and his own wing man the Commander switched tactic swinging down into the city and dropping off their sensors as he disappeared between the building then cut power to his engine and overloaded the power conduits to near bursting before angling his tail to the ground and letting the pent up energy loose. His fighter, the engines up against solid pavement with no where to spend their energy, rocketed up at the TIEs, gaining faster and closing to optimal range in a second. Immediately he began firing, chewing through the TIE's shields and blowing it out of the sky with his constant rate of fire and switched targets to the TIE's wing, triggering another burst of sustained fire. This one, however, had thought more quickly then his wingman and doubled his rear shields to better hold up against his fighter's fire while continuing to fire on Malcom.

If he didn't do something quick the TIE would kill Malcom, if only the Lieutenant could open fire from the front where his enemy didn't have any shields.... then it hit him. He keyed his comm, "Two, blow your canopy, but do not eject. Don't argue, just do it!"

Much to his surprised the X-83's canopy flew off the fighter and immediately hit his tail, crushing the unshielded cockpit. The TIE listed to port and continued on a ballistic curve out of the city. He had done it, he had saved his subordinate's life. He breathed a sigh of relief, "Come around and drop on my tail Two, no more hero-"

One minute the Twintail was there, beginning a slow turn, and the next it was gone replaced by a ball of fire and a pair of TIEs flying through the debris. It took a moment for him to process what had just happened, that he had just saved his subordinate's life, but it wasn't enough to keep him alive. The thought immediately threw him into a fit of rage. Kir roared and hit his rudder, slewing around after the TIEs, his Sullustan mind ablaze as he turned the unfocused rage to his advantage calculating odds and analyzing his environment faster then any human could manage. He immediately seized on a floating holoboard half a kilometer away and he immediately began herding the two TIEs to it with laser fire before flipping targets and hitting the board's anti-grav units. The gigantic advertisement lost power and tumbled over, landing on the two TIEs and crushing them instantly. He switched his attention, not even watching the two fighters explode into the pavement, he could see another TIE harassing one of his pilots almost immediately above him. He pulled into a tight corkscrew that would take him right into the side of a building, tapping his repulsors at the last moment to bump him away and let him gain altitude faster, blowing out the viewports in the process. His targeting brackets immediately went green and he triggered a burst at the TIEs underside. Apparently the TIE had had his shields doubled one way or another as a single burst hulled the craft and sent it spinning into the side of a building. He hauled back and spun his ship, catching sight of the TIE's lost wingman and going for a head-to-head, flipping his shields to double front and cutting power from speed to lasers to give his weapons a greater recyle rate. Two seconds later his shields were down to half and he was flying through a ball of debris. His immediate rage subsiding for the moment he dove again to street level, giving him a few seconds to check his board where he wouldn't be an obvious target

What he saw shocked him. All but three of his own unit were gone and as he watched yet another disappeared off his board. Meanwhile three Predators still remained and more were beginning a descent. The harsh truth was right there in front of him, only he and Malcom had scored any kills, the rest of his unit had died with nothing, completely out-flown by their enemy. He had known his pilots were green and not even very good for green, but these losses were tremendous, he was facing a level of skill only seasoned veterans should possess. He shook his head, he didn't want to follow that line of reasoning, besides there were still two of his pilots, maybe he could still save them, then they could regroup with another squadron. Yeah, that could work!

Kir hauled back climbing into a cloud of fighters, his two against three TIEs and immediately activated his comm, "Five, Seven break now!" He yelled thumbing over to torpedoes and launching one into the group. Standard procedure for a break order meant the pilot would go to double rear on their shields, something that would save them from a close torpedo detonation, but when the torpedo detonated, not only did it take out all three TIEs with one blast but it also critically damage his pilot's fighters.

"I'm going down I'm-" Five's voice washed out as she hit an overpass and her Twintail detonated. Seven fared marginally better, punching out... and right into the side of a duracrete building, the impact snapping his neck instantly. Both dead in five seconds, all of his pilots out of action less then ten minutes into the engagement and all deaths against a single enemy unit.

Kir closed his eyes and slammed a fist into the dash. All his pilots dead by rookie mistakes. He was the only one left and as he looked at his board he saw even more TIEs descending toward the city already. He knew there was no hope, he knew he was about to do something he would never forgive himself for, run. Going one on twelve was suicidal for anyone, even a Jedi. He'd done all he could to buy the city some time to evacuate and now he had to survive himself. It was more important he survive and get help then die in a blaze of glory, but still he knew there were still people down there and he was dooming them.

He hung his head, came about, and dropped to street level, keying his comm to Galatic Alliance frequencies and encryption. "This is Commander Kir Cari of Blue Squadron and if you can hear this, I need your help."

-----------------------------------------------------

Nip'badaewa and her unit dropped out of hyperspace at the edge of the system. "Begin scans," she commed simply to her Flight.

They were responding to a distress call from Corellia, an Advanced Recon Unit sent to access the nature of the call and decide if the Temple needed to render assistance. Of course the Temple they were from was already dealing with a Crusader threat of their own and it was stupid to waste resources on a fight they couldn't help with if they tried, but the General believed they had things well in hand. He didn't believe the Crusaders posed any real threat, never had since they had gotten the message from JvS, so he thought he could stand to lose the resources necessary to investigate the call and he had sent her and her Flight to investigate. She had always known the man didn't like her, but this was an outright insult she might just have to kill him for.

A chime sounded as the scan announced it was finished. Nip narrowed her eyes at what she saw, then out the viewport in front of her, her Chiss heritage allowing her to pick out details in the space above Corellia before her advanced sensor suite could get back to her. It looked as if there were a few cruisers parked in orbit, one of them very large, but they weren't of a design common in the Corellian Security Force, in fact they looked more like what the Temple was facing. She looked at her sensor board, to verify it was telling her what she thought she was seeing, "Is anyone else getting this?"

"Thiz one iz," Argath Sebatyne, her Barabel second-in-command replied, his lizard tongue having a hard time speaking quickly, "it lookz az if the Crusaderz are no longer limiting themselvez to Templez."

"Affirmative," Vyrr Ski, her Bothan pilot replied, her voice all confidence. "I designed these systems myself, after all."

"[That is what we are worried about]," Tomax Tsark, her Togorian wingman spoke up, or rather growled up as he couldn't manage Basic at all. He began laughing at his own while Vyrr harrumphed.

Nip sighed unnecessary nature of it all, she was a very serious individual, she didn't believe in joking in the middle of a mission, but the General had sidled her with Tomax anyway, or more likely, because of it. One thing was for sure, for someone who couldn't speak a word of basic he never shut up. "Cut the chatter," she commed back, "I need suggestions, not jokes."

"We have completed our scanz," Argath replied, "but I do not see any resistance, no one fighting back. I believe we should get closer, find out if coming to the rescue iz even an option."

"We'd have to get in range of the planet's gravity well to do that," Vyrr cut in suddenly, "my scanners are good, but not that good."

"[My point exactly,]" Tomax chimed in again.

"Four," Nip threatened, "if I hear you over this comm again for anything but a 'yes sir' you'll be walking back to the Temple... without a suit." She was already tired of his incessant jokes in the middle of a serious conversation, this would be a long mission. "So to complete our actual mission," she clarified, "we'll have to drop into hostile territory, is that what you're telling me Three?"

"Yes," Vyrr answered succinctly.

"How long?"

"It depends on how clear a read I can get on it, minute, minute and a half tops if I can get into orbit, more if we have to remain outside of firing range. If we end up having to fight and scan at the same time we're talking five minutes or more."

Nip considered her options, five minutes was a long time to last when everyone was shooting at you and they had already technically completed their mission, so there was no real justification for sticking around. Then again they would probably be sent back anyway to find out if anything could be done to actually help or if they were already too late, and if they spent the time to go home and come back anyone that might be alive now would probably be dead by then. Taking the initiative was a faster route to promotion then doing as you were told and it would annoy the General no end, both things Nip was seriously striving for. She earnestly wanted to lead a squadron at some point, she was a Marauder after all, she should already be in command of a squadron and her Watchman second-in-command should have been an executive officer at least and if they pulled this off the man might just have to give her that promotion. That was it then, "We're going in. Two, Three form a wing pair, but wait until a minute after Four and I launch to engage hyperdrives. We'll draw them away, while Three scans the planet. Two you'll be watching her back. Four you're on me." After each pilot acknowledged her order she set a course for Corellia, took the time to double-check the nav computer and check that Tomax was on her wing, then engaged the hyperdrive.

Stars stretched into the lines then snapped right back as their short hop took them in-system. Their sudden appearance caught the Crusaders off guard and they scrambled to respond to the new threat. "Divert maser power to shields, we won't need them for this and we need to be able to take the beating," she commed. Her entire Flight was out-fitted with M-wings, a recent model of starfighter thought up by a now deceased human Jedi and distributed to every Temple, Jedi and Sith alike. The hull was shaped like the letter it was named for with the two downward projections being massive engines narrowing into needle thin tips capable of generating a continous line of laser energy known as a maser. The cockpit was dead center in the craft with two banks of lasers to each side.

The M-wing was a powerful craft, but limited, it had powerful engines that could out-pace any vehicle and the masers lent the craft a level of fire power that could present a major problem for capital ships. It's shields were likewise very powerful and the four total banks of lasers gave it a rapid rate of fire for dogfighting. The ship was extremely well-balanced, but it had it's flaws, it had a limited power supply so not all systems could be used at full power at the same time and the efficiency of each system depended on how much power you allocated to it. So the M-wing was the fastest fighter, if it sacrificed weapons and shields. It had heavy shields, if you surrendered most of your speed and gave up fighting back. And the masers were powerful enough to punch through a capital ship, if you went completely unshielded and dropped speed to a crawl. In short, the M-wing was a craft that required an expert touch to perform well, or a Force-user at the helm. Nip was both.

She smiled and dove at the nearest enemy squadron, half squadron really, opening up with the fighter's faster cycling on her lasers to strafe the squadron, Tomax right on her starboard wing, copying her move for move. The Togarian was annoying and had no idea when to shut his mouth, but he was a good pilot and knew her moves very well. They passed out the other end of the group without scoring any kills and on a course for Corellia, leading the enemy towards the planet, and away from where Argath and Vyrr would be coming out of hyperspace. As the fighters turned in pursuit Nip reached out to Tomax and used the Force to convey a maneuver she thought might be effective, given how aggressive Crusaders tended to be. Not the specific maneuver of course, that would take far too long and require a lot of concentration, but rather a specific emotion they had associated with certain moves during practice runs.

Tomax returned a felling of comprehension and she immediately dropped back behind the Togarian and switched her shields to double rear, diverting laser and maser energy into them, while her wingman swung his ship around, managing to maintain his speed the whole time, and lined up in front of Nip so they were cockpit-to-cockpit. He began to spin his fighter, and she felt him fall into the Force as the ship built up speed on it's spin. Suddenly the space around her was full of red as the Dark Jedi opened up with a spiral of laser shots, not so much targeting one particular ship as dealing damage to the entire group, using the Force to make sure none of his shots clipped her as he spun. Nip felt her ship rock as it took the full force of the squadron's lasers but wasn't worried, her shields were getting extra power from her weapons and were effectively double their normal strength, add to that the fact that she had doubled her rear shields and it was the equivalent of quadruple protection, but still she kept an eye on her shield indicator for any changes in integrity. When the light finally went from green to yellow, a sign she was below half strength, she made her ship wobble, a sign she needed to break and immediately dove just as Tomax leapt forward into the formation scoring two kills as he blasted through and came up on the tail of another fighter.

Meanwhile Nip diverted her weapon power into engines and leapt forward, closing on the nearest Victory cruiser, Painful Death faster then her gunners could track. It was a risky maneuver with her front unshielded, but she was confident she was too fast for the gunners and a trio of Predators were still on her tail. As she closed with the Painful Death she twisted her yoke to the side, swooping out and under the great ship, and immediately shunted shield power to engines as well and zipping along with no protection and no guns, but at an incredible speed centimeters away from the underside of the destroyer in a matter of seconds. She hauled back, curling around and evening her power back to normal as her lasers dropped on the lead Predator, still in it's dive to follow her under the cruiser. Two shots later it was so much debris and his two wingmen were pulling back as hard as they could to adjust course for a head-to-head with her. She had hoped they would be blinded by the explosion and run right into the ship, but they were better then she had given them credit for. She doubled her forward shields and put weapon power back into the masers, disregarding her own order not to use the weapons and charging them more quickly. The two TIEs began firing, hitting her shields, giving them a good beating while she did what she could to make their shots miss, but giving them enough hit to keep them from breaking off. The maser indicator went to yellow on her board, weak but available, and she immediately opened up. The powerful lasers, meant to carve into the hulls of frigates and cruisers, had no trouble with the fighters. Two thin beams shot out and hulled one fighter, instantly penetrating the shields and turning his cockpit into a bloody mess while the other fired right through the pylon holding one of the Predators wings, shearing the wing clean off. Both fighters, now out of control, careened into the hull at full speed, triggering a massive fireball she flew right through, using it to cover her flank from the ship's gunnery crews.

Nip continued her curve away from the cruiser, evening out power once more as she checked her scanners.Vyrr and Argath were in-system, the Bothan remaining stationary and scanning the planet while Argath chased off any fighter who got a little too curious, but not pursuing long enough to actually score any kills. Tomax had dealt with the TIE he had been chasing and was now terrain flying over the other Victory, Death's Embrace, to keep their gunner's attention off of his squadmates. She keyed the comm, "Status?"

"Scan complete," Vyrr answered, "but I'm not quite sure what to make of it."

Pictures of Corellia's major cities came into view, damage evident, but not all that extensive. The lack of any defense measures did get her attention and as she looked closely at the screen she saw that all of them looked abandoned. Just as she was about to ask about life signs a new voice entered the comm, "This is Commander Kir Cari of Blue Squadron and if you can hear this, I need your help. Corellia is lost, every city on the planet has fallen silent and if you're listening then it's only a matter of time before they find you too. I'm calling anyone with the urge to fight to meet at the coordinates I'm broadcasting alongside this message. I do not care who you are or what you have done, whatever our differences they no longer matter, we have more important enemies to fight. No one will stand a chance if they go it alone, we need to band together so I plead with you, please come."

"Two?" Nip solicited.

"Thiz one feelz hope, but doez not think they go unnoticed long enough for uz to go get reinforcementz," the Barabel replied.

"[Let them die, they are too weak to bother with,]" Tomax's voice butted in, all humor gone from it, replaced by Sith doctrine.

"We cannot just let them die!" Vyrr interrupted, Jedi doctrine replacing her usual tone as well.

Nip shook her head. She knew they were about to get into an argument over the merits of Sith teachings over Jedi, despite the fact that this was neither the time, nor the place for such an argument. It was incredibly stupid and ill conceived to even have these debates in the first place, but at the same time it was not surprising to her. Vyrr was a Jedi Knight and Tomax a Dark Jedi, both just experienced enough to take pride in their teachings, but not experienced enough to know that Jedi and Sith teachings did not always apply. In this case they needed to consider the tactical worth, was it worth risking four M-wings to help an unknown number of Corellians? In this case it wasn't, without concrete numbers to suggest it was a gain of any sort, she had no reason to believe they would gain anything from trying to meet up with the Corellians and it might even be a Crusader trap. "Come about, we're leaving," she said over the comm, unwilling to give an order that would risk her unit for no foreseeable gain.

"That may not be possible," Argath hissed, "thiz one detectz Lancerz on our exit vector."

"What?" Nip asked, looking at her sensor board. They hadn't detected any Lancers on their long range scan! Of course if the ships had been in a low enough orbit they might not have shown up. Still they were frigates and should have been big enough to detect, even in atmosphere, but as she turned her starfighter towards their exit vector she saw them. Sure enough two Lancers had managed to maneuver between them and their hyperspace route and the two cruisers with their fighter complements had boxed them in making going through the Lancers the only way out of the system. Even for Jedi taking on Lancer was risky, dealing with that many gunnery crews so close together made it difficult enough, but dealing with two of them covering each other's backs? That was suicidal.

She bit her lip, realizing she had let herself be distracted and had now been out-maneuvered, she had no one to blame but herself and now her only choice was to head toward the planet and try to escape pursuit. "I guess we'll get a first hand look at what reinforcements we can expect down there," she said over the comm, bringing her fighter about and heading for atmosphere. "Divert all power to engines, leave just enough shield power to survive re-entry, we're going to have to outrun them."

"[Run? But we-]"

"Enough Four, I don't like this anymore than you do, but we help no one by going out in a blaze of glory," she swallowed hard, almost gagging on the words she was about to say, "we need help and so do they. If we work together we might just make it out of this in one piece. Now form up!"

--------------------------------------------------------

Alleena had no idea what was going on. One minute everything was fine, her plan had gone off without a hitch and she'd been laughing at how easy this score had turned out to be. The next a siren was blaring and she was forced to put her speeder through a series of maneuvers it had never been designed to take in order to avoid getting hit by strafing runs.

She floored the speeder, taking it up to several hundred kilometers an hour, keeping it low to the ground to avoid being spotted. The speed she was going was anything but safe on this road as she was forced to wildly veer out of the way of burning speeders at a second's notice and take turns that very nearly forced her to go perpendicular with the ground, but she didn't have a choice. TIEs had been shooting at anything that moved and while none had taken any particular interest in her, they still took potshots any chance they got. It was only adrenaline and her own piloting skills that had kept her alive this long and she knew they wouldn't keep her that way forever. She had two options, go to ground and wait the attack out which from the strafing runs she'd seen was nearly suicidal, or floor it and try to get to the rendezvous point before she was turned into ash by a lucky shot. So she had floored it, she would rather die trying to fight back then just lay down and let them kill her.

As she rounded a bend in the road she got a look back at a TIE that was angling straight at her.... and a second later she was looking at a ball of fire as an X-83 blew through the expanding ball of gas where her overzealous pilot had once been. As it zipped through the sky she gave silent thanks to the pilot. She was nearing the rendezvous point now so she opted to stop her evasive pattern in favor of a more expedient route. She ramped up the repulsors as she neared another bend in the road, skipping over traffic lanes and broken down wrecks, pulling everything she could out of the luxury speeder as she did so. If the enemy was taking time out of it's attack to harass speeders, the city was already lost so it wasn't like she was going to get pulled over for breaking the traffic rules and she was close enough to the cave that ditching the road was her best option.

She hopped the rails, climbing a hill high enough to make her a target, but willing to risk the momentary exposure to cut the extra five minutes off her travel time. As she crested the rise and began her descent she banked heavily to the left, heading towards a rocky outcropping. There was a path there, though it was all but invisible until you were right on top of it. She aimed for it now, narrowly missing the two rocks that boxed the entrance as she threaded the needle at full speed emerging into a large cavern. She hit the breaks and cut power, making a hard turn with the speeder to shed more speed and bring her to a stop before she could crash into the TIEs. They had found this cave years ago on another job, it was only visible from the cliff side where a narrow opening led in, just large enough to fly a starfighter through. Since then, whenever they had come to Corellia, they had stashed their fighters here so they could make it onto and off of the planet without going through customs and whatever awkward questions they might ask about the fully armed starfighters. It could be a bit treacherous though, they always took their lives in their hands when they came and went during a storm, but it was easier then trying to explain the, Dark Hope.

As the speeder came to a final halt against the crate full of personal shield generators her crew had stolen to throw off the authorities she took a moment to mourn the loss of such a wonderful score. She had briefly considered the worth of trying to go back and get it before it was destroyed, while she was driving like mad but quickly dismissed it as suicidal even with their particular craft. It was just too dangerous out there.

"What the stang is going on out there?" Nola asked before Aleena could even climb out of the cabin, "We've been hearing laser strikes and explosions!"

"I wasn't really in a position to get a status report," she replied as she climbed out, "too busy trying not to get shot, but it looks like an invasion," She took the extra time to put her regular clothes back on for the first time since she the distraction while she let that statement sink in.

Xo and Kettch shared a look like they weren't quite sure what to make of the statement, but Nola had no such problems, "An invasion?! How... why.... what...."

"My sentiments exactly," the Twi'lek responded. She reached inside the crate and grabbed some of the shield units, "All I know is that they're got a lot of Predators out there so there has to be a cruiser to take them back and forth, they don't exactly have hyperdrives."

"They're invading the entire planet?" Her Mon Calamari crewman looked as if she still couldn't grasp the scale of it all. Understandable, Alleena was having trouble herself, there hadn't been armed conflict in the Galaxy for generations and the only reason she knew what she did about the TIEs were from the stories her grandfather used to tell her. "What about the shipment?" Nola finally managed, regaining her ability to speak.

Alleena shook her head as she passed out the units among her crew, no use in losing all of it, "If it's not gone already it won't be long before it's ransacking or bombed out of existence. We'll take what we have here, but right now we need to worry about getting off this planet and back to base."

"No problem for us," Kettch spoke up, cutting off Nola's reply, "stealth drives, but you."

Alleena nodded understanding what the Ewok meant. Nola, Xo, and Kettch flew TIE Phantoms, ships equipped with stealth drives to let them go through enemy lines undetected, but Aleena piloted a TIE Hunter, an older model meant to mimic as closely as possible the X-wing designs of old. It could take much more of a beating and was great in a dogfight, but it had no cloaking system. Then again she wasn't sure how effective the Phantom's systems would be either. "Correct me if I'm wrong Xo," she said to her Verpine tech, "but the Phantom's cloaks only hide them from sensors, they're still fully visible."

Xo nodded, chittering a response in his own language since he couldn't manage Basic, "[Correct. The cloaks were built to give an invading army the element of surprise, not to hide ships already in an engagement zone.]"

"Then maybe we should just stay here, keep our heads down until it's over and try to sneak out then," Nola suggested.

Alleena was about to agree, they were safe for now in the cavern, but as if the Universe had it's own sick sense of humor, the cavern they were in began to shake as it was hit from above by bombardment. She put her head down and got under her TIE's S-foil to protect her from any falling debris. For a few terrifying moments all they could do was wait and hope the roof didn't cave on them. It was a frustrating position to be in, completely at the mercy of another, and she didn't like what it reminded her of, she wasn't that scared little girl anymore, she was a grown woman making her way in the Galaxy. She would be cowed by no one, and as if the Universe could hear her thoughts the shaking stopped and they could all get up. She knew it wouldn't last long, and that any plans of waiting this out had just gone out the window.

"Into the TIEs," she shouted, pulling herself up onto the ball cockpit, "that was a bombing run so we've either been found or they're carpet bombing the area, either way we won't last long in here." She climbed in and initiated the fighter's start-up sequence, pulling and dogging the hatch shut as she waited. Absently she hit the comm, "I'll go out first, draw their fire. When I give the signal activate cloaks and follow, maybe we can still get the drop on them." She got a chorus of 'ayes' but only half listened as she activated her repulsors and glided out of the tunnel, hitting the thrusters the moment she was clear and curving up and around to get a look at what she would be facing.

Immediately she saw the half bomber squadron and her heart sank, they were TIE Heavy Bomber. Much like the original bomber they were slow and heavily armored so they could accurately deliver their payload without hindrance, but the Heavy variety sacrificed even more speed in order to give the bomber better armor and a shield system as well as an increased payload. They were the perfect bomber, just fast enough to avoid cruiser and frigate fire and armored enough to make sure they were able to deliver their payload without getting blown out of the sky by a fighter screen first. It wasn't hard to take a Heavy Bomber out, but it would take you all day and you wouldn't stop it from delivering it's payload unless you could seriously out-number it.

Good thing I don't have to prevent that payload then, she thought to herself, saying over the comm unit, "Six double Ds," using the abbreviated pilot slang for Double Dupe, in itself slang for Heavy Bombers, the original Bomber having had the slang of just 'dupe' during the days of the old Empire, "might take me a while to get their attention so keep your engines primed." She got another chorus of affirmatives as she opened her Hunter's S-foils into attack position and came around for a head-to-head run on the lead bomber.

Unlike the X-wings of old the Hunter did not possess four laser cannons, instead substituting two of the laser cannons for ion cannons. This meant the fighter had less fire power, but could decimate shields quickly making it a bad fighter to deal with Heavy Bombers. Luckily she didn't have to rely entirely on her underpowered lasers. She opened her S-foils as she brought her Hunter in like with the DDs. Her Hunter began spitting fire as she put her shields double forward, hoping the imposing figure of her fighter and it's constant fire would spook the pilots into breaking formation. She hit the two lead TIEs, hammering their shields and quickly depleting them to nothing in a few seconds. Any other starfighter would have then been able to quickly neutralize the two bombers, but with a limited laser output she could only begin to chew at the armor plated hull and hope the constant shuddering would get the pilots to reconsider their attack.

"Blink dammit!" She shouted as the half squadron kept on pressing coming. Just as she was about to break off the attack to avoid a collision the DD veered to his right... and right into his wingman. Both ships merged together in the blink of an eye and detonated in a powerful explosion that sent out a ripple of turbulence. Instead of trying to veer away Alleena flew through the fireball, relying on her shields to protect her just enough to survive the speed run. She came out the back, pulling a tight turn that put her right on the tail of the pair that had broken right. She glanced at her shields, they were intact, but low on power, and she had gone through that with double shields, the DDs with even shields were probably without them at this moment, which meant... She targeted the lead bomber, switched over to torpedoes, and fired a shot right at his payload. She was reward with a brilliant flash as both the DD and it's payload detonated, taking both fighters with it. She could only enjoy it for a moment though as she hauled back on her yoke so she didn't repeat the fireball move, something that, with her weakened shields, could kill her this time.

She looked at her sensor board as she climbed and saw that the other two DDs had managed to get on her tail. Immediately she shunted all shield power to the rear just in time for it to take the first volley of laser fire. She started to shake from the close call, but clamped down on it. If she had been even a quarter of a second later on that they would have opened up on her unshielded rear and that would have been the end of Alelena Ijaaz, but she wasn't out of the fire yet. With her already weakened shields it would only be a matter of time before they failed and she wouldn't be able to out-maneuver them in time. She keyed her comm, as she would have done a long time ago if she'd been thinking, "Now!"

She spun her fighter through a series of maneuvers designed to buy her some time and hoped that her crew would get to her before it was too late. Almost immediately her shields flashed red from the constant barrage, they were gone, and she was out of time. Closing her S-foils to put on more speed she dove, trying to see if she could in fact manage to out-maneuver her pursuit, despite her earlier assessment. Because with her shields gone the only edge she had was the Hunter's superior speed in Flight mode and she wasn't a good enough pilot to avoid fire long enough to out-pace the bomber. If they had been closer to Coronet she could have probably lost pursuit in seconds but with only the occasional hill and tree to provide cover out here it would be nearly impossible to do, even if she her ass off.

"Suffer and die!" A voice came over her comm as Kettch dropped his cloak and began firing wildly at the two bombers cutting up right across their flight path and drawing one of them off, "Yub Yub!" To the unpracticed eye it was an incredibly stupid move, exposing a stealth fighter when a kill was not guaranteed, but he hadn't been trying to get a kill, he had simply been trying to take pressure off her and isolate the two DDs. Alleena knew why he was doing it and copied his lead, diving to the ground, right into a valley to completely separate the two DDs from each other's sensors. A moment a Phantom uncloaked behind her pursuit and immediately opened up with a withering array of fire, vaping the bomber inside of a second with near point-blank fire.

Alleena sighed in relief as Nola's voice came over her comm,"You're welcome."

A grin spread across Alleena's face and she was about to comm back a retort when Xo's voice broke over the comm, "[I think all of you should hear this.]"

Suddenly a voice Alleena had never heard began speaking, "This is Commander Kir Cari of Blue Squadron and if you can hear this, I need your help."


Last edited by Aardvark on Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:27 am; edited 3 times in total
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Re: Life of a Soldier

Post by Aardvark on Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:27 am

Come with me!" Sham yelled to be heard over the klaxon as he herded Salm and Cy back towards the hall.

"What's up buddy?" Salm asked, letting himself reluctantly be pushed along. He had noticed that Sham's skin was red, something Falleen's only did when under extreme emotional stress, and the man was emitting pheromones to try and influence them into becoming more cooperative which just sent more alarm bells ringing in his head. Not that he needed more ringing, the noise around them was already deafening.

When the Corporal didn't answer he dug his foot in, Cy following his lead, having come to the same conclusion he had, "What's going on?"

Sham opened his mouth to try and smooth them over their concerns but he caught the looks on their faces and immediately snapped it shut. Rethinking his strategy he came to the conclusion that honestly would get the job done faster. He looked around to make sure none of the people running by them were paying too close attention, then dropped his voice and leaned in close so as not to be over heard, "We're under attack, I don't know by who and I don't know why, no one seems to know, but what we do know is that they have a lot of firepower. Enough to level the city in minutes if they wanted to," when he saw the concerned looks on their faces and knew they were taking this seriously he continued, "I need to get you two away into the underground bunkers. With any luck you'll be able to ride out the attack and get right back to work tomorrow."

The two exchanged a glance. "Sham," Cy spoke looking him right in the eye, "how likely is that? Honestly?"

Sham shook his head by way of response, "But it's your best chance and out here you'll only be in the way. So please."

Salm was torn, on the one hand he really wanted to fight these bastards, this was his home and he was willing to die protecting it, but at the same time he knew what Sham meant. They weren't a trained unit, they could defend themselves, but they were more likely to get in the way of the real soldiers then actually help anyone. He groaned knowing the right thing to do, but still hating it, "Alright let's get going," he waved Sham ahead to lead the way, "but hurry it up will ya?"

Sham relaxed slightly, relief on his face, his skin retuning to it's normal green hue. He began jogging down the hall, Cy and Salm right behind him as he led them through a maze of corridors, threading between people running in every direction around them. On a hunch Salm reached into his jacket and pulled a large hand blaster out, checking it's power pack and flipping its setting over to kill, just in case. He was a good shot with a blaster, when you lived in the middle of no where you ended up with a lot of time on your hands and target practice with a hand blaster was a cheap and easy way to while away the time. It was also a valuable, practical life skill, or so he hoped, in truth he had no idea where he ranked among real soldiers who did this kind of stuff for a living, but then again, that was part of the fun wasn't it?

Cy noticed the motion, saw the blaster in Salm's hand and her eyes widened as the possibility of having to defend themselves entered her mind. Quickly she reached inside one of her pant's pockets to pull out an extendable Force Pike, thumbing it's setting to its highest, but not activating for fear of injuring someone as they ran. Salm knew she didn't keep it on her for decoration or to make herself feel safe, she really knew how to use it. Her Echani training had gone past mere hand-to-hand combat and into the realm of weapon training. She was one of her class's top students. When he had asked why she kept going with it she had responded, 'it gives me something to hit that isn't you.' He had never been sure what to make of the statement, but at the moment he was very glad she had continued.

The building shook as the shield over the base struggled to dissipate the energy being directed at it and several times while they were running the lights blinked completely out for a few seconds before coming back online. They picked up speed, flat out running now, but the press of bodies kept slowing them down, outright halting their progress a few times as everyone around them began to panic. It felt like they'd been going for hours, but he knew it was just the adrenaline talking, he was in danger and his mind was beginning to panic because it couldn't see that they were making any real progress as they went from one identical hall to the next.

The building began shaking more violently now, no longer the slight vibrations that had felt like small ground quakes, but violent shuddering, that nearly threw them from their feet. As if the building was being crashed into. As they approached an intersection they took another hit and the hall directly across from them suddenly caved in, collapsing on a group of people with so much rubble that no one had to ask if they were dead or not. Not that anyone cared, the people were getting whipped into such a frenzy that he doubted they were running on anything but instinct and training.

Sham led them around a final corner and finally they saw daylight, through a door that had been propped open. Salm's body perked up at the sight of it and he felt a new rush of energy energize him as they ran. He could finally get out of this death trap, he just had to get to that door, get through it before this entire building could come down on them, but before he could reach it a body interposed itself in the doorway, a big hulking man holding a blue lightsaber.

Salm, along with the rest of the people around him, let out a sigh of relief at the sight of the Jedi, they could breath easy now, they would be alright, the Jedi would stop this madness. He was about to begin waving the man down, but something stopped him short. As he watched the man raised the hand holding his lightsaber and brought it down on a man who had been going over to greet him, cleaving him neatly in half. Everyone stopped moving as their brains struggled to process the new information that conflicted so heavily with what they'd come to know about Jedi. Jedi were supposed to refrain from killing if they could manage, and this man had just killed someone in cold blood for no reason. Jedi were supposed to help, but this man was blocking the door, bringing his blade down on anyone he could reach. Jedi were supposed to be good, this man was obviously not. Then panic broke out as everyone ran from the door in blind fear, pushing and shoving, not trusting anyone now that their lives had taken the final turn and ended up completely upside-down. All the while the Jedi ran them down, one at a time, with a smile on his face as he closed on Salm and his friends.

Without thinking the freight hauler raised his pistol and fired three bursts in quick succession, one to the leg, one to the groin, and one to the shoulder. The man managed to block the first and the second, but the third, him him right in the shoulder, traveling to fast for him to block it. Cy, recovering faster then any of them, immediately took advantage of the opening and parried the lightsaber back and out of the Jedi's hand. Sham recovered just in time to deliver the final blow with his service blaster, turning the Jedi's head into a crater in one neat shot. The three of them looked at their weapons, then at each other, the same thought going through all of their heads. They had just killed a Jedi. That shouldn't have been possible, they weren't trained to fight Force users and they weren't equipped for it, but they had managed, the dead man laying at their feet proved it. Salm wanted to kneel down, take a look, figure out what had happened to make the Jedi this crazy and why he'd been so incompetent as to be killed by the three of them, but at the same time he knew this really wasn't the time to worry about that, they were still in danger.

They began running again, not bothering to put their weapons away or even shut them down, and emerged outside. They never stopped, they didn't slow and take their barrings, they just kept following Sham, but as they ran Salm couldn't help but look around him at the chaos. The Jedi they had killed was not the only one out here, far from it there were enough Jedi and Sith out here to start their own Academy, if they hadn't been too busy running people down and slaughtering them to care. They were accepting no surrenders and hearing no pleas. There were a pair of landing craft in the compound that had obviously been used to transport them here and he briefly considered trying to steal one, but there was always at least one Jedi or Sith with them at all times and he could hear the scream of starfighters passing close overhead. Even if he could steal one he'd be shot down immediately in one of those slow-moving tubs, but at the same time what he saw told him it was pointless to try and wait this out. They would be found and killed, their only hope was to keep running, preferably with a big gun between them and any enemies. Thing was, they would never be able to outrun the Jedi and Sith on foot and any speeder would just make them a bigger, more obvious target. If only the pilots hadn't taken all the starfighters, they might have been able to get away in one of those, but the base only kept twelve active fighters....

That was it! Salm put on more speed to get in front of Cy and Sham and waved for them to follow him. They him without argument as he turned them to the secondary hanger having come to the same conclusion he had about trying to hide and wait this out. The base Commander only ever used the secondary hanger as storage for old vehicles too broken down to use, but still with valuable replacement parts. That didn't mean everything in there would be unflyable though, some fighters were retired as just being to outdated to use and with any luck they could some parts together and get a few of those flying. They would be out-gunned in every engagement, but any gun was better then no gun and it really was their only chance.

As they got closer to the door Salm raised his blaster and took aim at the lock, looking to blow it off, but Cy put a hand on his arm and shook her head, running forward and slashing through it with her Force Pike. It took Salm a couple of moments to realize why she had stopped him, the blaster would have emitted light and sound calling attention to them when, so far as Salm could tell, they had managed to go unnoticed during their run across the compound. Her quick thinking had probably just saved their only chance at getting away.

Salm and Sham dashed into the hanger as Cy held the door for them, slamming it shut the second they were through, dropping them into near total darkness. They took a moment to catch their collective breath and let their eyes adjust to the darkness. The hanger was a mess, that much he could tell. Salm could see pieces of various starfighters all over the place just thrown around as whoever scavenged parts tore through the piles until they found what they want. There wasn't much that looked like it stood a chance at being flyable, though he thought he could make out a couple faint outlines in the back that looked like they might be mostly intact.

"Let there be light," Sham's voice sounded followed by a bright flash that made Salm wince, as the overhead lights came to life revealing much of what Salm had already deduced about the hanger. Except he could now make out a control room along the far wall that would control the roof top hanger doors. "All right," Sham clapped his hands getting their attention, "we probably don't have much time before they realize they haven't searched this building yet so we need to work fast. Cy, block the door with whatever you can find, with any luck they'll decide the door is jammed shut and assume no one is in here. Salm go see if you can find anything that's still flyable, then find out why it's in here and not out there. I'll head to the control room and see if i can setup a remote command to open the hanger doors." They made no move to do as he said instead opting to just stare back at him as if he had just grown a second head. The Corporal sighed, "Let's move people," he said putting more authority in his voice and spurring both Salm and Cy into action.

Salm jogged to the back, winding his way around piles of discarded tech, making his way towards the shapes he had seen from the front, finally emerging from behind a pile to stand in front of half a dozen fully intact starfighters, or at least they looked intact at first glance. There were two Eta-5 Interceptors, two E-wing escort fighters, a CF-9 Crossfire Interceptor, and an XJ-7 X-wing and they all looked to be in good repair, but he knew they wouldn't be here if they still worked at all so he got busy checking them. First he tested to see if they would start at all, one of the Eta-5s didn't so he immediately dismissed it. Then ran a basic diagnostics check in each fighter to see if everything showed up, the other Eta-5 showed a missing hyperdrive motivator so he dismissed it as well. That left him the X-wing, two E-wings, and the Crossfire. It took him nearly ten minutes to check the critical systems in person, but it was a good thing they did, the fighter Salm had planned to take, the Crossfire, was missing a redundant capacitor so if he had happened to lose shields for any reason they never would have recharged. The other three fighters still required minor wiring, but that was something he was familiar with and finished up in another five minutes making both fighters flight worthy.

As he stepped back to survey his fighters he heard Cy and Sham approaching. "I managed to wire the hanger doors to open through my datapad," Sham said waving the pad to show them, "so we can take off whenever we're ready."

"I blockaded the door," Cy added with a smile, "and if they manage to get the door open I managed to wire an old laser cannon to an even older capacitor to handle any intruders we might have. Once they push the door open the connection is made and tada, freshly vaporized bad guy."

Salm smiled at the mental image, "I got the X-wing and E-wings working, the rest of them I could get working if I had a couple hours, but I don't."

Sham frowned and looked at the vehicles, "These things are ancient, are you sure they'll do any damage to those Predators?"

Salm nodded, "Yep, to my surprise they've been refitted with brand new weaponry and shielding. They're also fully fueled, stocked with proton torpedoes and have brand new astromech units." Sham's mouth dropped open, which made him laugh, "Yeah I think your quarter master was turning and burning your repair stock to make a few bucks on the side. Good thing for us because everything else in this hanger would take days to assemble into something that might fly."

Sham shook his head, "At this point I'm not going to argue. Are they ready to fly?"

Salm hopped up onto the X-wing's S-foil and dropped into the cockpit, "Oh yeah, they'll fly and this one here's all mine." He ran his hands along the frame, admiring the workmanship, "And if we get out of here I'm keeping her."

Sham moved a ladder over to the left side E-wing and clambered up, "If we get out of here I'll buy you one myself, but I really think we should save the fantasies for a time when we're not being chased by crazed Jedi."

"Be nice," Cy said, climbing up into the cockpit herself.

Sham rolled his eyes, "Do either of you even know how to fly a starfighter?" Salm and Cy shared a look, keying their ignition at the same time, their engines winding up in unison, and directed broad smiles at Sham. The Falleen shook his head, "Do I want to know how you know how to do that?"

"When you live in the middle of no where..." Salm began.

"... you have a lot of free time," Cy finished.

They all donned helmets with built-in comm units and closed the fighter canopies in prep for lift-off. It was at that point that Salm noticed a bright flash of white over by the door and saw that the door along with a good chunk of the wall around it, was gone. They'd been found. Salm activated his repulsors and opened a frequency, "You wanna open those doors buddy? I think we're about to have company."

"Working," Sham's voice came back. A moment later the doors began opening slowly and both E-wings had engaged repulsors alongside Salm. "We still need designations so we can keep in contact," Sham reminded them, "a squadron name or something."

Salm tapped his foot impatient for the door to open and said the first thing that came to his head, "Kriff One reporting!"

Sham started to object, but Cy cut in, "Kriff Two in the green!"

The man sighed, defeated, "Kriff Three, ready to go."

Salm smiled and kicked in his thruster as soon as the doors were just wide enough to admit him. "Kriff One away!" He whooped as his fighter shot through the hole, immediately looping his fighter, relishing the speed of the high performance craft and began seeking a target. He found one almost immediately, a TIE Heavy Bomber that had gotten separated from it's wing and he locked in on it. "S-foils to attack position!" He yelled, repeating a line he'd heard countless times in holodramas as he dropped on the TIE's tail, linked his lasers and fired before his enemy knew what was happening. The linked fire immediately overwhelmed the TIE's shields and smoke began to trail from it, a second shot finished the craft, reducing it to a field of debris. He circled left, looking for another target and found one, or rather a whole stang of them, nearly a half squadron. He'd been through enough simulator runs to know that even with modern shields, an XJ-7 couldn't survive a concentrated onslaught from Heavy Bomber lasers. So instead of turning and running he doubled his forward shields and headed straight at them, firing even before he had a target lock, juking around to spread his fire in as broad an area as he could, but the pilots knew what he was doing and just doubled their own more formidable shields and began firing back, knowing even if they didn't destroy him on this run they had the advantage in number and could drop onto his tail even if he could out-maneuver a couple of them.

Unfortunately for them they weren't fighting just one fighter. Like a well oiled machine Cy and Sham shot out of the hanger behind the TIEs vaping one each with a torpedo while nailing two others with enough laser fire to get their attention and get them to pursue. That left just one bomber, the wingman of the TIE Salm had taken out. The TIE showed no evidence of turning away from him so Salm kept on, exchanging fire with the Heavy Bomber. They passed having damaged each other's shields, but doing no significant damage and the TIE immediately began turning to try and drop in on his tail. Salm was about to do the same, but saw that the troop transports were right below him and instead took a sharp turn heading down and putting the two transports between him and the TIE as it turned to fire on him. He continued past the transports and on around the secondary hanger he had just left, keeping low and hoping to lose his pursuer, then a thought struck him. On a hunch he pulled to a stop right before he would have come out from the cover the hanger offered and saw lasers flash in front of him, right where his fighter would have been. Instead of following them out a second later he goosed his repulsors to full power, popping out from behind the building while the TIE was still trying to find him, got a target lock and fired two linked burst, one ripping through the bomber's shields while the second hit his payload, turning the craft into a brilliant fireball.

He made a gesture at the ball of expanding gas, one which, on most worlds, the receiver would feel obligated to deck him for, but worry for his friends chased away the momentary elation he felt at out-witting his enemy. He yanked his fighter around, searching the scanners for Cy and Sham. He found them, both running from the TIEs and curving toward each other, passing each other at such an angle that they both had shots on each other's pursuit and took it, vaping both with two torpedoes in one smooth move and looping around to meet up with Salm.

"Good flying," Sham commed him, "stupid flying, but skilled nonetheless. I didn't expect you to get two Double Ds in your first dogfight."

"Double Ds?" Salm asked confused, "I thought we were talking about flying not Cy's chest?"

"You do realize I have laser cannons now," Cy replied, "don't you Salm?"

"No, Double Ds or Double Dupes, is pilot slang for those craft."

"Well they're big I'll give you that," Salm continued on as if he didn't understand, "but I'm not sure I'd call them craft, headlights maybe."

"Torpedoes Salm," Cy answered, her voice dripping venom, "fourteen of them left."

"Okay, okay," Salm responded deciding he'd pushed his luck with her enough for one day, "so how about we finish these guys now before they can call for help?"

"It's a little late for that," Sham cut in, "I'm reading a full squadron of Predators inbound. We need to get out of here before they show up, with any luck they'll decide they've taken enough losses and let us go."

"Where do we go exactly?" Salm asked. They hadn't been thinking this far ahead when they decided to grab a couple starfighter probably because they never expected to get this far, and he had no idea where they could go."

"For the answer to that I suggest you open you comms to channel thirteen."

Salm was confused but did as Sham suggested and suddenly new voice started in his ear, "This is Commander Kir Cari of Blue Squadron and if you can hear this, I need your help."

-------------------------------

Kir landed in a low valley far outside of Coronet, away from all civilization on the planet, and settled into to wait for his call to be answered. It took about an hour for the first stragglers to make their way to him, most of them on foot or in small speeders, people who had managed to get away from the initial assault one way or another but lost their homes in the process and had no where to go. They had heard his call somehow, over downed fighters or off comlinks they took off dead soldiers he didn't know, but they came hoping for a miracle. He couldn't help him, but maybe someone would come who could, so he didn't turn them away, instead waiting hoping right along with them.

About three hours after he put out his call the serious reinforcements started arriving, first was a freighter, not an armed freighter, but a quick scan told him it had plenty of speed and a large cargo bay. If he could put some sort of screen together and convince the captain to help them, that freighter could take a lot of these civilians out of here. Though for some reason every time he tried to get a comm call from the ship he just got howls of static, suggesting the freighter might have been damaged in the attack. He decided not to pursue it, there would be not point in trying to secure the captain's cooperation if they didn't get some sort of defense together to protect the ship.

Fifteen minutes after the freighter arrived a group of TIEs, three Phantoms and a Hunter, arrived claiming to be friendly for the moment, simple pirates who had been caught with their pants down when everything went down. They weren't much in terms of fire power, but three of them were equipped with stealth drives and the Hunter looked like it could perform well, if the pilot was any good. Alone the group was pretty much useless for his purposes, but with more back-up, another flight, he could put them to good use.

Ten minutes after that another group of four fighters showed up, M-wings from the nearby Temple who had come to investigate their distress call and been trapped in-system, by the Lancers. The group gave him some hope, Force users were good flyers and M-wings were powerful little ships when used properly. A plan began forming in his head, but it would require a few more ships to have a chance at succeeding so he settled in to wait a while longer, hoping some of the other pilots from Corellia might have survived and heard his call.

It was thirty minutes before anyone else showed up and he had very nearly decided to call the groups together and plan an escape attempt with the resources available when another group appeared. Two E-wings and an X-wing ancient ships to be sure and worse piloted by locals with no experience, but a scan showed they were out-fitted with recent upgrades, military grade engines, lasers, and shields putting them on par with any modern craft. Fierfek the X-wing had more punch then anything he'd seen as far as laser power went the numbers he was looking at told him the ship could probably destroy a Predator in a single linked shot if it didn't have it's shields doubled. Even if it had few heavy weapons it would prove a good dogfighter.

After the near miss in resources he decided to give it some more time, but as four hours turned into five and only a few more civilians trickled in he decided this was all he was going to get. It was time to call a meeting. He began broadcasting again, "Starfighter pilots, freighter pilot, please meet at my Twintail." After a series of acknowledgements and another howl of static from the freighter he climbed out of his fighter and dropped to the ground. As the group began to form around him he couldn't help but shake his head, it was certainly a mixed bag of both individuals and species.

The Jedi, or rather Jedi and Sith were in their standard robes, Sith wearing dark gray and black, Jedi with off-white and tan and compromising a Bothan, a Barabel, a Togarian, and even a Chiss, though the Chiss was not the oddest sight by far. No that was reserved for the Pirates.

Lead by a red-skinned Twi'lek in black leather pants and a sleeveless gray top, with a crew consisting of a Mon Calamari, an odd choice for a pirate, wearing loose pants and shirt in dark blue that contrasted sharply with her red-brown skin, a Verpine who chose to wear nothing but a loin cloth and utility belt, and an Ewok of all things dressed in nothing but a black hood and his own fur. It was the oddest group of pirates he'd ever seen crewed by species he never would have guessed would ever work together and had never struck him as the pirate type.

The final fighter group gave him both the greatest hope and the most dread. Obviously led by a Galactic Alliance Corporal, a Falleen Kir briefly recalled seeing on an application to Flight Command, in full uniform. As he recalled the pilot had tested too low to be considered for pilot training, obviously he had been wrong in that assumptions. Real combat must have brought out his true talent, or so he hoped to believe, in truth he might have just been assembling this in his spare time and used it to run the second he saw trouble, but Kir preferred to believe he was a hidden talent. The other two didn't inspire anywhere near the same confidence. One an Arkanian off-shoot with white skin dressed in dirty brown cargo pants and a grease-stained sleeveless tank-top, the other a Human in much the same apparel save he had a jacket that matched his pants, neither looked like pilots. They looked like grease monkeys, locals who had no business even fixing such a high performance machine, much less flying one, but he'd take it. He couldn't afford to be picky.

To round out the group was the freighter captain, a Wookiee, small for his species but still towering over everyone, even the Barabel. Suddenly all the howls of static made sense, his comm system wasn't on the fritz, Kir just didn't understand Wookiee. He hoped he could convince the sentient to still work with him on transporting the hostages because he doubted he could force the issue. He would just have to come up with a dazzling plan with the group he had. Then he actually looked at his resources.

It was perhaps the most depressing set of resources he had ever had to deal with, had ever even imagined would show up and it was apparent that this group would require careful delegation. His mind already set to work solving the problem, as he sized up the group and how they were interacting so far. They all seemed wary, but not outright hostile, that was good except the third group, with the GA infantryman, was keeping as much distance as they could from the Jedi and Sith. Curious, what's that about? "Introductions are in order I suppose," he began figuring the best way to get the information was to see if they would volunteer it, and it would give him time to work through the logistical problems, "I am Kir Cari, Galactic Alliance Commander and the man who called you all here."

"'Nip'badaewa, Nip for short," the Chiss began, "I'm the leader of an Advanced Recon Unit."

"Salm Tibal," the human said distractedly. He pointed at the Jedi and Sith, "Are you sure they're alright? I mean we just had to kill a Jedi to get our starfighters and I really don't want to repeat the experience."

"Argath Sebtyne," the Barabel answered, "Second in command of said unit, and yez you can trust theze onez. You fought Dark Crusaderz, not true Jedi or Sith."

"Cyrinity Feckle," the Arkanian continued, "freight hauler and what's the difference?"

"Vyrr Ski," the Bothan shot back, "Jedi Knight. The difference is that we are not brain-washed minions of a psychotic dictator who believes he is a god."

"Sham Athzaria," the Falleen GA infantryman added, "Galactic Alliance Corporal," he turned to his friends, "and if they were with the invaders why would they bother talking to us? They could just drop their forces on our heads." His two companions looked like they hadn't thought of the possibility.

The Togarian growled, but Kir couldn't understand his words. Language was not one of his skills, luckily the Chiss translated, "Ah yes he's Tomax Tsark, idiot extraordinaire," the Togarian glared at her but said nothing to contradict his commanding officer.

"Alelena Ijaaz," the Twi'lek spoke, "I'm a pirate, and I would really like to leave this hell hole if you guys are done now."

"Nola Anturk," the Mon Cal added, "the less you know about me the better."

The Verpine chittered, but again Kir couldn't understand a word. The Twi'lek had picked up on that though and translated a moment later, "He's Xoquon Verasx, pirate, slicer, fugitive and he wants you all to know he would never wield a hydrospanner in your vicinity." Kir thought the comment was odd, but the pirate leader raised a hand to forestall questions, "Don't ask, it's a very long story."

The Wookiee spoke up, apparently tired of being ignored. The Twi'lek sighed, "He's Solimar, he hauls 'sensitive' freight." She looked up at the Wookiee, "Give me a call if we get out of this, I often have 'sensitive' freight that needs shipped."

Finally all eyes turned to the final member of the group and by far the most unexpected, the Ewok. He growled at them, then seemed to translate himself, "Name Kettch, blow stuff up good." When they didn't move he growled again, "Back off or die." They all took a step back, suddenly aware they had been staring and crowding the little man though not really sure what to make of his aggressive comments.

"Can he fly?" The human asked, head tilted like a bird.

The Twi'lek barked a laugh, attracting everyone's attention, "He's probably the best pilot here. Of course you don't have to take my word for it, he's more than willing to engage in duels to prove it."

The human looked at his friends and shrugged, they had no idea what to make of that either. He Knelt to be at eye level and studied the Ewok. He was silent for a few moment then suddenly said, "I bet I can beat him."

The Ewok, much to everyone's surprise, smiled, "Put money where mouth is."

The human returned the smile, "All right, fifty creds to whoever can get the most kills."

"You're on," the little pilot replied, putting his paw out for a shake. The human took it and gave it a single firm shake before both pilots retreated back to their own groups. The Arkanian looked particularly pained at the stupidity of the exchange.

Kir clapped his hands together to get their attention, "Alright, this isn't how I imagine this going, but I'll take whatever I can get. Let's get to work."

--------------------------------------------------------------

Salm leaned against a nearby boulder as the Sullustan placed the holo-projector on the ground and stepped back. He fiddled with something in his hand and a moment later a picture of the planet appeared in front of them with a red dot flashing on one of the land masses, "This is where we are," the Commander began, flipping a switch that brought the view back and showed the space around the pilot. There was a single cruiser in orbit with what appeared to be several squadrons around it, farther out, but in the same general region of space as the cruiser were a pair of frigates and on the other side of the planet another cruiser of the same type as the first. "This is our enemy," he continued, "two Victory-class Star Destroyers, two Lancer-class frigates, three squadrons of TIE Heavy Bombers, and six squadrons of TIE Predators. Coronet Flight Control also tracked an Imperial2-class Star Destroyer, but it has since disappeared. Its fighter escort is still here though so we can assume that wherever it is, it's not far." He hit another control and the holo changed to show a spread of thirteen ships, twelve fighters and a frigate, along with ammunition counters where applicable, "This is what we have available, four M-wing variable starfighters, three TIE Phantom stealth fighters, two E-wing escort fighters, a TIE Hunter starfighter, an XJ-7 X-wing starfighter, and an X-83 Twintail starfighter, along with an unarmed freighter of course. That doesn't give us much of a chance against these odd, luckily whether through pure chance or our own thriftiness we still have sixty-two of sixty-nine possible Proton Torpedoes and we have the M-wing masers so we can pack a pretty decent punch of our own." He pressed a button and the two holos came up one atop the other with the tactical view on the bottom, "Now my question to anyone who cares to answer it: How do we use what we have to get out of the system?"

"I take it just running without fighting isn't an option?" Salm asked.

The Bothan shook her head, "Because of the way the planets are aligned right now there are only two viable hyperspace routes out of the system." She pointed at the far destroyer, "Rimward," she pointed at the Lancers, "or Coreward."

He looked at the projection, "That's a bit lop-sided in protection don't ya think? I mean one cruiser has got to be easier to get past than a cruiser, eleven squadrons, and two frigates."

"Obviously," the Chiss replied, "they're trying to herd us. I'm willing to bet that the minute we attack that lone cruiser the Deuce will drop in on top of us. We don't have the kind of armament to take down a ship that size, especially not after taking out it's little brother."

"That was my assessment as well," Kir put in, "my instinct is to deny them this strategy, but I wanted to get opinions first. I have no doubt it's a trap, but it is still and easier route to make a run for, though we will suffer heavy losses."

Cy raised her hand and the Sullustan nodded to her, "Wouldn't we suffer a lot either way? I mean Lancer frigates specialize in killing starfighters."

"So we don't engage them directly," the Twi'lek said matter-of-factly, "we have stealth fighters, we can close with the frigates without being detected and cripple them."

Kir nodded, "I thought of that, but the Lancers are within firing range of each other. Can a single Phantom do enough damage to cripple these ships?"

The Mon calamari shook her head, "No, three would be pushing them as it is, we'd need some heavy explosive to guarantee a kill."

"And there-in lies the problem," Kir replied, "Proton Torpedoes would do the job, but we can't get close enough to get a lock without ending up space dust and Phantoms are not equipped with torpedo launchers."

"Quite the conundrum thiz one thinkz," the Barabel hissed, "we need to be sneaky, but without power it doez uz no good."

The Verpine chittered something Salm couldn't understand while the Twi'lek translated, "Xo thinks we could fashion a bombay out of a torpedo launcher if someone would be willing to donate theirs. Says it would be a simple matter for him to weld it to the Phantoms and wire them into the controls."

"He can do that?" The Commander asked, astounded, "In a reasonable amount of time?"

"He's a Verpine," Alleena replied as if that explained everything. "We'd have to disable the proximity fuses though so they don't detonate while maneuvering, which poses another problem. Mainly how do we set them off and be sure the Phantoms are at a safe distance? Stealth fighters can't use shields while their stealth drives are engaged."

"We could just shoot them," Salm suggested, "they're still explosives right?"

Nola nodded, "Yes that would work, but we'd have to develop a way to keep them in place once we dump them otherwise they'll float away before we can get far enough away to detonate them safely." She turned to the Verpine, "Xo?"

The Verpine nodded and chittered again. "He says he can attach a magnetic strip to them so they'll stay in place," Alelena translated, "but they'll have to come into direct contact with the hull in order to stick, which shouldn't be hard so long as they don't detect a threat they won't find a need to defend themselves." The Verpine chittered and addition, "He could even pack in extra baradium if anyone is willing to donate some torpedoes."

"Alright we're getting somewhere now," Kir said, "but we still need to worry about that cruiser, it could wreak some serious havoc on us while we're making our escape."

"Easy," Nip chimed in, "masers. We can carve a few sections of the hull out, should give them bigger problems to worry about then a few fighters. If you can keep the fighters off us for a few moments then we can take care of the cruiser."

"Thiz one thinkz we have on more thing to worry about," Argath threw in, "we should not put all our eggz in one basket."

Kir frowned, "Are you suggesting we make simultaneous attempts on both routes?" He asked.

The Barabel nodded, "Distract them. When you disable the cruiser itz brother will come to reinforce it. We can get the civilianz out that way."

"If they respond," the Twi'lek added.

The Barabel shrugged, "We lose nothing by trying."

"Except whatever escort we give the unarmed freighter," Alleena shot back, "we should be putting everything it this, not dividing our forces."

"I don't like the idea of losing two valuable pilots either," Kir replied, "but the Jedi is right, we shouldn't bet everything on one attempt. In the end getting word out of what's happened here is more important then any single one of us." When he got no more dissent he clapped his hands, rubbing them together as if he was about to dive into a good meal, "Alright we have a plan, now let's work out the details."

--------------------------------------------------------------

Kir's Twintail zipped by along the surface of planet, sticking to low altitude to avoid tripping enemy scanners. He was about to make a break for orbit, followed by his makeshift squadron and the freighter filled to the brim with refugees. He opened the frequency they had all settled on earlier, "Blue One to Group One, prepare for rapid ascent." He rolled his fighter to the right, most of the others following suite save for the freighter and it's two fighters escort of M-wings making up Group Two. He really hated wasting such a valuable resource as the Jedi on providing a screen, but the M-wings were the most heavily shielded fighters he had and the only ones capable of keeping up with the freighter's powerful engines. Still, he would have the Sith pilots in his group, so he knew he at least had some pilots who could work with a unit. "Stick to the plan," he continued once he made sure his unit was all together. "Six, Seven, Eight, engage stealth drives," he said, addressing the TIE Phantoms. "Four, Five, pair up, same for you Nine, Ten," he addressed the human and Ewok, then the Sith. "Eleven, Twelve," he said looking over at two Jedi flying escort, "get those civilians to safety, take no unnecessary risks. Two, Three, you're with me," he said to the Arkanian and Falleen.

The Sullustan got a storm of acknowledgments, watching as the TIE Phantoms disappeared from his sensors. "Two Group," he called over to the freighter and it's escort, "get a move on, we'll cover you." In response the three craft shot forward as they ran their engines up to full speed. "One Group," he called to his own formation of fighters, "engage delta pattern and begin ascent, make sure our little surprise stays a surprise."

Suiting actions to words he immediately hauled back on his stick and began a steep ascent through the atmosphere, the E-wings forming up to either side of him while the Sith dropped back and to the left. Meanwhile the Hotshots, as he had come to think of the Ewok and the cocky human, slid back and to the right, completing the triangle of protection around the stealth craft that would both keep the Phantoms hidden from sight and provide protection for them while their shields were down.

As the clouds began parting, giving them a view of space and what they would be face his sensors began blaring. A half squadron of TIE Predators had picked up on them and began diving to meet his little force of fighters. "Shields to Double Front!' He called back, bracing as fire poured into his shields, battering them, but getting before they made it through the first pass. Until they could break atmosphere and let the stealth craft break into an environment where they wouldn't be easily spotted as easily Kir couldn't call for his group to break and engage, but at the same time he couldn't just let the TIEs harass them. "Four, Five," he commed back, "give our pursuit something to think about."

"Acknowledged," the human replied, "Four giving them hell." Kir regretted having to rely on the two at all, they were an unpredictable element and both over confident in their skills, but they were also the best pair to choose to engage. He'd reviewed the flight recorders from each starfighter while planning and it had become readily apparent that they were the two pilots were the best in the group when it cam to situational awareness. It was something you couldn't teach a pilot, they were either born with it or they weren't and in a pilot the ability to track ship locations in your head without the use of sight or sensors was an invaluable tool. So while they were the ones most likely to pull idiotic stunts, they were also the ones most likely to survive overwhelming odds.

As the Hunter and X-wing turned to face their pursuit, the Sith adjusted course sliding in directly behind the TIEs to continue shielding them from view and fire from behind. "Switching shields to Double Rear," the Chiss called, already working to provide the Phantoms the most protection without being told to do so. It was refreshing to have at least one competent pilot for once.

Kir's cockpit began to glow red around the edges as his Twintail reached the outer boundary of the planet's atmosphere and suddenly they were through. Staring the Painful Death and more fighters then he could count right in the face. "Two, Three, stick close and do what I do," he said as he put his fighter into a steep dive that took him under the cruiser's main guns, waiting a few seconds to make sure they were all under and out of sight before yelling, "break!" His "Wedge" as he'd taken to calling the three pilot unit, immediately broke right, the M-wings breaking left, leaving the Phantoms to disappear in the chaos. He activated the comm, knowing the TIEs would be maintaining comm silence but still feeling the need to say something, "Good Luck and may the Force be with us all."

------------------------------------------------

"Break!"

Alleena immediately dove and accelerated as fast as the Phantom would let her, pulling into a long curve that would take them far away from the engagement before leveling out and searching for her unit's target, the Lancers Fly Swatter and Bug Squasher. She shook her head at the names, someone in the Crusader ranks had a sick sense of humor.

She adjusted course, Xo and Nola on her tail, and headed straight for the frigates. Many people, if asked about this kind of scenario and what was the biggest threat would point out the Deuce followed by the two Victorys, and while those ships were certainly dangerous, they were not the biggest threat of a fighter unit. Fighters and freighters tended to be fast enough and small enough to completely avoid the guns on big cruisers like Star Destroyers and while they were still a big threat they could be outrun easily. No for them the biggest threat were the Lancers, frigates built specifically to target and destroy small and nimble craft while still fast enough to keep their gunnery crews in range, could destroy their entire unit in a couple minutes. Problem was, while it was the biggest threat to them it was also the one thing in this fight they couldn't fight, not in a direct confrontation. That's where the Phantoms came in. Though Aleena preferred her Hunter to the Phantoms she had known that Kettch could make better use of it in a dogfight then she ever could. That and procedural stealth work had never been the Ewok's thing, he preferred shooting targets who couldn't see him to planting bombs in a coordinated effort. So she had traded with him, she still missed her Hunter, but she was more concerned about getting them out of here and maybe engendering some good-will with the Alliance in the process.

She dropped her comm power to the lowest possible power setting so it would only broadcast as far as her wingmen. "Nola, I mean Seven," she chided herself for using real names in the middle of an engagement zone. She was not used to this kind of military procedure, and wasn't even sure what the point of it was, "Take the Fly Swatter. Eight the Bug Squasher." She got a double-click from the comm, acknowledgment, and the two Phantoms began to drift onto different trajectories.

With the frigate captain's attention undoubtedly focused on the battle happening in front of them the Phantoms could cloak and get close enough to the frigate to deliver their payload of Shadow bombs. It felt odd to her, using a weapon commonly used by Jedi. Shadow Bombs were proton torpedos with extra baradium explosives packed in where the fuel supply and targeting systems would normally be. This made them a lot more powerful then a standard proton torpedo with half again the yield, but unable to track an enemy as they could only be launched in a straight line. They were used primarily by Jedi as the Force users could guide them after launch with the Force making it a much more powerful weapon for them with no real down side. No one in Alleena's group was even the least bit Force Sensitive of course, but Shadow Bombs were also undetectable to sensors, making them ideal for stealth work.

The Twi'lek commander came about, lined up her sights so she had a view on both frigates, and shut her engines down to wait for her crew's signal. Nola and Xo's Phantoms had been the ones modified to carry the payload, so until they had completed the assignment there was nothing she could do but watch and wait. Her job was simple, coordinate and, once they gave her the all clear, she would open up on the frigates, igniting the bombs sitting right on top of their hulls. The resulting explosion should, in theory, be strong enough to at least disable the two frigates, if everything went according to plan, but then again when had everything ever gone according to plan?

She really hated being out of her Hunter....

-----------------------------------------------

Salm pulled a hard left, diving away from the group, Kettch's Hunter right on his wing. Immediately his brackets flashed green as he got a laser lock and sent a quad-linked burst into the Predator, blowing it to pieces before it could prepare for the head-to-head while Kettch stitched a line of fire up another, ending with a shot that hulled the fighter and sent it careening off. Without waiting for the TIEs to form up for a head-to-head Salm broke right, feeling break left to divide their pursuit. He closed his S-foils, giving him more speed and spun his fighter through a loop, shedding air resistance in order to tighten his turn and come around just as a pair of TIEs broke off to follow him. Having never changed his shields after Kir's order Salm reduced his speed, opened his S-foils and linked his lasers firing on the lead TIE in a blast that would normally overload it's shields and blow it to pieces, but instead splashed over the fighter's reinforced shields. The lack of penetration didn't rattle him though he simply fired another burst, this one penetrating enough to cause the TIE to smoke and break off for an emergency landing. Switching targets and changing to dua,l instead of quad, fire a move that would let him fire less powerful bursts faster, he opened up on the second fighter, tracking it through it's evasive maneuvers and finally scoring a kill with less than twenty meters between them and flying through the resulting fireball.

As he came through the ball of fire he heard an alarm blare in his cockpit and looked down to see that the debris cloud had destroyed his shields. He'd watched plenty of holodramas in his life and one thing he was fully aware of was how precarious a lack of shields was to a pilot. The old Empire had used unshielded TIEs in combat and the turnover rate of those pilots was so high there was actually a special commendation for living through your first year of service. He immediately closed his S-foils and dove, putting as much distance as he could between him and any potential enemy fighters. He didn't think there were any, but he could make up whatever time he lost in the maneuver later, it was more important he get his shields recharged.

Having nothing to do while putting more distance between him and any possible pursuit the pilot had nothing much to do. He could still see the Ewok pilot though so he decided to watch the little furball for a while. The Hunter had two Predators harassing him and was snap rolling left and right to avoid enemy fire, but he wasn't rolling far enough to actually change course, just enough to make the pilots jump as they thought he was trying to break away. After about the sixth snap roll the Predators stopped falling for the trick and just began concentrating fire on the predictable movements. Salm began to pull out of his dive and come to the Ewok's assistance as it was obvious he needed help, when the pilot surprised him. On one of his snap rolls he hit the rudder, turning the Hunter into a wild tumble for a half second that ended up with it's nose pointing at the TIEs. Before either enemy pilot could react the Ewok fired a torpedo on one while opening up on the other destroying both before his enemy could even begin to break, and flew right through the debris cloud.

Salm checked his boards and saw that his shields were coming back up, and put himself on a course to match the Ewok's. "Nice trick," he commed his wing.

A bark came across the comm unit that almost sounded like laughter, "Told you, Kettch best pilot."

Salm smiled, "Fight's not over yet furball and last I checked we have the same number of kills."

"True, Kettch play hero now!" The Hunter stood up it's tail and rocketed skyward.

Not one to be out-done Salm copied the maneuver, adding an inversion that put him upside down relative to the Ewok, "Not if I get there first!"

--------------------------------------------------

Kir hauled back on his stick and brought his Twintail out from under the Painful Death, hoping to catch some of the TIEs by surprise as they dove to catch up with his last move and instead had roll his fighter out from the cruiser to avoid a flight of TIEs that had decided to cut him off by diving under the cruiser where they felt he would emerge. To his pleasant surprise both of his wingmen managed to keep up with him and avoid a collision as well, "Two, Three, break. Bring up torps and wait for my signal." Without waiting for a reply Kir cut his speed and pulled hard, shortening his turn to keep the TIEs from dropping on his tail, the E-wings flashing by as they separated and waited for his signal.

The Commander immediately sighted in on a pair of TIEs coming around to face him, pounding them before they could get a bead on him, and punching his engines. He sailed past, not trying to do damage but simply get their attention and goad them into coming after him as he began closing with the second pair who had lengthened their loop to cut him off once the first two began harassing him. Instead he was quickly gaining on them, firing as he flew, hitting their shields and forcing them to break formation or be destroyed. He knew his pursuit would begin firing soon and dove, letting the first barrage pass harmlessly over him and giving the two Predators time to join back up with their Flight. He knew the pilots weren't stupid, they could see he was good and they would want to stack the odds in their favor, before pursuing him. Kir was letting them because he knew something they didn't.

He began juking and jinking, not avoiding all the fire being directed at him, but reducing the number of blows he took to something his shields could take for a while. When the fire suddenly intensified he knew the TIEs had rejoined and were now flying in formation. "Fire two!" He shouted and before he could even get the last word out his fighter was buffeted as half his pursuit was suddenly reduced to ash. "Aga-" Before he could even finish the word the remaining two TIEs disappeared from his sensors.

"You're clear One," the Falleen called. He and the Arkanian having correctly guessed what Kir was doing. "We're forming up on you now," he continued as two blue dots appeared to either side behind him.

The Commander smiled, they may not have been a fully trained Alliance unit, but maybe, just maybe they stood a chance if they could keep this up. He pulled his ship around and back towards the engagement zone, alight with laser fire as the two Sith pilots did their best to distract the main group. Being as out-numbered as they were was both a blessing and a curse, because of the relatively low number of M-wings to TIEs the Crusader pilots had to double-check all their firing solutions or risk hitting an ally. This meant they couldn't do much damage to the M-wings, but it also meant the Sith had to constantly break targeting locks so they could hardly manage to return any fire. Stil their main objective was to attract attention and they were doing an admirable job of it as only one Flight of DDs was aware enough of Kir's Wedge to break and head their way. "Line formation," he called back, an idea forming in his head. "Keep torpedoes armed and stay behind me."

"But sir," the Falleen sounded confused, "we can't get a target lock with you in front of us."

Kir smiled, "That's why you won't be aiming I will. Switch targeting frequency to channel three point four four three," he reinforced his forward shields and began his run, "and get ready to break." The TIEs began firing as soon as he was in range, most of their shots going wide, but a few connecting and dissipating against his deflectors. He knew that wouldn't last long, they would get more accurate as the distance closed and his shields were already weak from dealing with the first Flight, but he planned to have dealt with them long before it came to that. "Chip," he said to his ship, "give me dual targeting on a priority channel and assign Three priority, Two secondary." A second bracket appeared on his screen inside the first, he targeted the left lead TIE, waited for five seconds to secure the lock and moved to do the same with the right lead, his targeting computer looking glitchy as the two locks clashed with each other. He would have preferred to control his own torpedoes, but he'd been the one to donate his torpedo launchers to work as bombays on the Phantoms, so he was forced to manage the torpedoes of his two wings.

His shields flashed dangerously as he took hit after hit from the oncoming bombers. The minute he got the second lock he keyed his comm, "Fire!" Two blue flares shot out just beneath his fighter and immediately nailed the two targeted TIEs, "Break and loop!"

Kir put his fighter into a steep climb as Cyrinity and Sham broke right and left. His hope was that the flash would blind the remaining two pilots long enough for them to drop on their tails, but as he and his wings pulled their loop and came in behind where the TIEs should have been Kir realize how severely he had underestimated the pilots. "Line formation!" Kir called, maneuvering in front of the Arkanian before the TIEs could get a bead on him while his shields were still down from the first run. He hadn't expected them to recover so fast and with such efficiency, he had underestimated them and now was putting his wingmen in danger to cover his own ass.

His face immediately burned red as anger at himself and then anger at his enemy surfaced and as before he directed that anger, focusing it into strategies and statistics. "Two, Three, cycle now!" Cycling in a line formation was a maneuver in which one ship would trade places with another replacing one fighters damaged shields for another's fresh ones. It was purely a delaying tactic, or at least it was taught like one, but a long time ago Kir had isolated an opening in the formation that would allow the fighters to retaliate while being beaten down. The trick was that it required three fighters to do, a full Flight had more useful tactics to use and a wing pair wouldn't be able to manage it. That and it required a level of precision flying usually best reserved for Jedi and Sith, but he thought he could manage it himself.

Before the two ships could even begin to maneuver Kir was acting, shunting laser energy into his shields to get them up, cutting his forward thrust, slewing his fighter around, and before re-engaging in reverse. The maneuver maintained his position in formation but flipped him end-for-end and left him with his bow guns pointed aft just as the gap he had identified so long ago opened between his wingmen. Immediately he got a pair of target locks on the remaining two DDs, "Fire torps!" He yelled, hoping his wingmen would understand the quick order in time, they did and one torpedo fired from each craft into empty space, still tied into his own targeting system. So instead of flying out to hit nothing their thrust cut out and they immediately stopped right in front of the two TIEs. The pilots had no warning and no time to maneuver, they just exploded in a wash of energy .

Kir rolled out and engaged forward thrust again, heading back to the main fight with his wings looping around to follow. He looked at his scanners noticed two more ships had entered the mix. Kettch and Salm had managed to deal with the squadron that had harassed Group One on ascent. "Blue One to Group One," he called over the comm, "we're on our way in. Nine, Ten, begin Stage Two."

An amused voice came back, as he and his wings plunged into the field of fighters, "Nine, acknowledged One. Beginning our run."


Last edited by Aardvark on Sat Aug 04, 2012 2:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Life of a Soldier

Post by Aardvark on Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:27 am

Nip dumped laser energy into her thrusters and shot away from the main group, managing to pick up almost a full squadron as she and Tomax left the engagement zone. It was flattering, they'd only given Kir two Flights for his three ships, but they were so afraid of her they had sent a whole squadron. Either that or they were just being typical Crusaders and going for the Force-users first, but she preferred to think it was the former. She diverted power from the masers into the engines as well and shot away from her pursuit, her engines now far more powerful then the TIEs. She knew they would keep following her even after they had left firing range, at best she was buying a few seconds for her run, but a few seconds were all she needed.

A green light showed up on her board, having changed from yellow for unoptimized range to green meaning she was fully out of range of their weapons. She restored power to the masers and fed the shield energy into them as well, warming them up more quickly while maintaining the distance between her and her pursuit. This far out from the engagement zone she didn't really need shields anyway, the cruiser was too distant and couldn't get a lock on her anyway and the other cruiser.... where was it anyway?

The Chiss scanned her board, looking for the signals from the other Victory and possibly even the Deuce, it hadn't been very long since they surprised the first cruiser, but one of them should still being showing up now to reinforce their allies. She began a long loop sooner then she had planned to, bringing her weapons around to face the Painful Death. Something wasn't right here and if she was right they would need every advantage they could get and that meant taking this cruiser out before whatever it was they could spring their trap. She had initially prepared this run to give her plenty of time to make the subsequent run safely afterward, but time was of the essence so she cut her route down to the bones, giving herself just enough time to do it, if she did it perfectly.

Nip brought her ship fully about and fed half of her enhanced engine power into the masers charging them up from a weak yellow to a strong green, but slowing the fighter enough that the TIEs would catch up to her just after she began her run. "Nine beginning run early," she commed, hoping Kir would somehow understand the worry in her voice and interpret it correctly. She switched over to masers and her targeting bracket changed to a broad circle with two dots to represent where the fire would begin and all it would encompass. She targeted about where the hanger would be in the destroyer and fired, spinning her ship as she did so, making it damn near impossible to see what was happening. She had done this enough to know what would happen though. The two needle thin lasers would instantly penetrate the cruiser's shields and begin carving into it's hull, quickly burrowing through layer after layer of durasteel until it eventually made it all the way through and punched out the other side, the spin making the penetration a perfect circle that would completely separate the target area from the ship. Somewhere nearby Tomax would be doing the same thing to the engines, crippling the ship and forcing any help to remain on station or abandon the ship entirely.

Nip's indicator light went dead, her the masers were out of juice. She immediately shunted everything into an even shield spread and hauled up skimming bare inches over the surface of the cruiser. As she'd anticipated her fighter rocked as her shields were bombarded with laser fire from the TIEs. She had no choice but to wait it out and hope her shields held until they were past her.

The fire let up all of a sudden and she was in clear space, the fighters having taken her shields down to half power, but not penetrated. She evened out her power and came around to rejoin her wingman and got a good look at the damage her masers had dealt to the cruiser. The Victory's guns had fallen silent, her shield completely shattered by the long tube of hull that was even now floating free of the rest of the ship as it violently vented atmosphere, smoke and fire flashing along her centerline as the hull strained to keep the ship together with a large chunk of it's structure now missing. She saw Tomax's M-wing looping around the back of the cruiser, his own damage becoming evident as a series of explosion began racking the back of the Star Destroyer. She came around to join up with the Togarian and together the two hurtled away from the crippled ship and headed back to the main engagement zone. "Primary target neutralized," she commed, a brilliant flash from the destroyer punctuating her words, "still no sign of reinforcements."

"Acknowledged, Nine," Kir's voice replied "All units begin Phase Three."

----------------------------------------------

Alleena watched in silence as the Painful Death's aft ignited fiery flash and the cruiser fell silent. A moment later she heard Kir issue the order she'd been waiting for, "Al units begin Phase Three."

She activated tight beam transmission and aimed it at Nola and Xo's Phantoms, "How's it coming guys?" She asked as she powered up the engines again in anticipation of her run.

Nola grunted with exertion, "Just finished. Took me a while to get them in place while avoiding being spotted, but they're in place now. Making my way back to the fighter now," she finished, her outline waving to the Twi'lek from on top of her fighter.

"[I have calculated their trajectory,]" Xo chittered, "[they will enter the field of explosives in the next thirty seconds. So long as their shields remain inactive they should adhere to the hull.]"

"Acknowledged," Alleena replied, as her engines finished warming up again, "making my approach now. Move out you two." She got a double click from both pilots and watched as the fighters moved away from the frigates. She began her own approach, making sure to keep both of the craft in front of her without dropping too close and risk being spotted early. If they had stayed in position she wouldn't have had to worry about lining up the shot again, but the frigates that had slowly, but inexorably closed with the main engagement, always maneuvering to keep their bulk between their fighters and the hyperspace route they intended to take. Obviously they still wanted to engage in the fight, but were also making sure they fulfilled their orders to block any attempts anyone might make to get out-system. They hadn't quite entered within firing range yet, but the Bug Squasher was getting dangerously close, already she could see the batteries lining up shot in anticipation of conflict.

She didn't quite have a shot on both ships yet, but she couldn't risk waiting any longer. If that frigate got it's shields up before she got her shot off all of this would be pointless. She aimed at the ship and opened up on the ship, raking fire along it's center line for two full seconds before one of her shots hit a Shadow Bomb and detonated. Fire blossomed all over the frigate as each bomb blew and trigger the closest in the chain, to blow in turn running a line all the way up the ship's hull and cracking it like an egg.

She immediately began tracking left to hit the Fly Swatter, but whoever the captain of that ship was he was far more attentive then she had expected. The frigate's guns opened up on her immediately and she barely had time to activate her shields before she was being hit by a devastating array of firepower. She dove to avoid the bulk of it and began an evasive pattern she hoped would be enough to keep the guns off her, but fully aware of the futility of it. She had tipped her hand early and now they knew she was there which meant the cloak was useless now, they could simply track her by line-of-sight. Worse their shields were up which meant she couldn't just snap off a shot and detonate the Shadow Bombs. Add to that her shields were already nearly gone and she was too close to the frigate to make a run for it and suddenly the pirate queen felt fear she hadn't experienced in a long time. "Mayday mayday!" She panicked, suddenly a little girl again hiding in the closest as her mother and father begged for mercy, "Help!"

"Six, break port!" Kir's voice yelled.

Too razzed to argue Alleena's instincts took over and she made a hard turn, following the Sullustan's instructions. Immediately her brain and eyes latched onto the flaming hulk of a frigate they had just taken out and something told her to get to it. She was too panicked to understand that the ship's bulk would block the shot, her brain wasn't firing on that many cylinders right then, she just knew she had to get there and followed her instinct. She pulled another hard turn, gunning the engines for all they were worth and sliding in behind the broken ship just as her shields failed. She saw two Phantoms in front of her and, her brain finally kicking in again, she killed her forward momentum. She breathed a sigh of relief, her heart pounding so hard she was sure they could hear it over her comm. They were far from safe, but for the moment they weren't being fired on and she was still alive. That was enough.

Her mind began working through the problem they now faced. They still had the Fly Swatter to deal with and it knew they were there, but their fighters had been found and their shields weren't strong enough to survive making a break for it or a concentrated assault on the frigate. They were stuck and they couldn't fight back, not that it would matter, with the frigate's shields up the Shadow Bombs were beyond their reach having been directly attached to the Fly Swatter's hull. Her head snapped forward, unless... She keyed her comm, "Xo, did I wait long enough for the bombs to adhere to the hull?" If they still had any luck she might just have fired a couple seconds too early.

"[No,]" the Verpine replied, "[only half of the Shadow Bombs adhered to the hull before they raised shields.]"

She smiled to herself, maybe hadn't noticed that it was flying through a mine field, "So if we could detonate some of them it might just overwhelm the shields long enough to set off the rest."

"[Yes.]"

So not all hope was lost, they still had a chance to remove it from the battle. She opened her comm unit to the entire squadron, no point in bothering with low power or tight beam transmissions now that their cover was blown, "Six to One, we have a slight problem here."

"I noticed," Kir's voice came back. "Do you have a plan or is this just a courtesy call?"

"I know it looks bad, but we've had a stroke of luck," she outlined what had happened with the Shadow Bombs and what she thought they could do about it. "So, any ideas?"

--------------------------------------------------

Kir was considering the scenario when he was distracted by another three friendly blips appearing on his board. Not new blips either, "Eleven, Twelve, what are you doing here? You were supposed to escort the Wroshyr Berserker out of the system."

"We waited az long az we could," the Barabel came back, "but the Death'z Embraze never made any attempt to move. Thiz one did not think it best to risk the civilianz on a blockade run."

The Sullustan banged his head against the back of his fighter, he did not need this now. Why couldn't these Crusaders ever just fall for the ruse? They must have thought a single unit of fighters did not pose a significant threat to a cruiser and two frigates built to take out fighters. He should have seen that coming, so he had no one to blame but himself. He couldn't blame the Jedi, they were right, trying to make a run for it with only a two fighter screen would have been suicide. He was about to comm the Barabel back and tell him as much when the human's voice broke in, "One, Four here. Five just bolted."

He banged his head against the back of the cockpit a few more times, he really didn't need this.

--------------------------------------------------

Salm heard Aleena's question absently as he rolled out of a target lock, but didn't didn't have the where with all to even consider possible solutions, much less suggest a course of action or even notice the protracted silence that arose afterward, but his wingman didn't have any such limitations. Kettch's Hunter zipped out of the engagement zone without a word, grabbing his attention as two TIEs following the Ewok out. The little pilot poured on speed, outpacing the TIEs and heading right towards the Lancer. "One, Four here," Salm commed. "Five just bolted."

A weary sigh entered the Sullustan's voice, "Follow him and try to find out what he's doing."

"Yes sir," Salm replied, hauling back and then immediately reversing direction into a dive and rolled out to his left, confusing, and temporarily ditching, his pursuit. He angled on an intercept course and opened up on the two TIEs, nailing them one with a torp and the other with a quad shot before they could notice him. When he didn't so much as get a thanks from Kettch he hailed the Ewok, "Do you have a plan or are we just going out in a blaze of glory?"

"Told you, save day!" Kettch answered, "Fire torpedoes."

"That Lancer has a longer firing range then you do Five," Kir cut in, finally joining in the conversation again, "after you're in range you'd have to go evasive to avoid their fire, otherwise you'd be cooked inside a few seconds. You can't get a target lock like that."

"Not me shooting," the Ewok replied simply, "Four get kill, Kettch just fly."

What the Ewok was suggesting finally dawned on him and it was insane. Salm smiled, he liked insane, more fun, "Sir, I think he wants me to fire on him and let him lead the torpedoes in."

"It has been done before," Sham jumped in before the Sullustan could turn them down outright, "I remember studying a similar move performed by a Rogue Squadron pilot, but no one has ever repeated the move. Many have tried, but tacticians believe it was the pilot's Force Sensitivity that allowed him to avoid the Lancer's guns."

"No choice," Kettch growled, "do this or die. Kettch too good to die," He finished, breaking procedure by using his own name.

"Maybe I can make it a little easier for him," Salm put in as he remember a move from a recent holodrama he'd seen, "we aren't actually aiming at the ship right, just the bombs surrounding it? What if I detonated the torps early?"

"You'd have to be in target range to detonate early," Kir pointed out.

"Then I'll follow him in, if I don't have to target while I'm maneuvering-"

"Then you won't be able to see when to detonate the torpedoes," the Commander finished.

"I'll comm him," Alleena suggested, "we can't do much pinned as we are back here, but my sensors work just fine and I don't have to worry about being chased by laserfire."

Kir was silent for a moment as he contemplated the plan suggested, all the while Salm and Kettch closed with the frigate. "Fine, but I'll do it Five, I'm the better pilot."

"I'm sorry sir but no," Salm answered, resolute, "you don't have any torpedo launchers, but even if you did I have three, and you would only have two. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the goal is to detonate those Shadow Bombs and the more torpedoes out there the better chance we have at succeeding."

"He's right sir," Sham cut in again before the Commander could shut him down.

The comm was silent for a long time and for a moment Salm was afraid the Sullustan would wait too long and they'd loose their shot, but just a few moments before they entered the frigate's firing range he said, "Do it."

The two fighters were a blur of motion. Kettch immediately closed his S-foils and shot away at top speed, keeping his maneuvers simple and easy to follow at the periphery of the Lancer's firing range in order to give himself more distance before Salm fired while still presenting an easy target lock. Salm dropped speed immediately and flipped over to torps, gaining and maintain a lock on his wingman, but refrained from firing just yet. He had to time this carefully, give the Ewok enough of a lead so that the torp wouldn't hit him, but not so much that he wouldn't be able to catch up. His knuckles tightened as the numbers scrolled up and he strained to maintain the target lock. He was just entering firing range of the frigate when his gut told him to fire and he thumbed the button. "Three away!" He shouted, as the trio of proton torpedoes leapt out from his fighter. Immediately he doubled his forward shields and throttled back up to full power, closing his S-foils to give himself more speed and maneuverability. He began juking and jinking, rolling and diving, anything he could think of to make himself a harder target, all the while keeping his finger primed over the early detonation control.

Time seemed to slow as he flew, each maneuver seemed to take hours to complete and every kilometer a day to tick off. He had no idea what he looked like to outside observers, but he imagined it was impressive if the Gs he was feeling were any indication. His palms began to sweat and a couple times he very nearly lost his grip on the control yoke, but he recovered quickly each time, determined not to let Kettch die until he had shown the Ewok who the better pilot was. What better way then by doing exactly what he was, but having to do it while being ready to act at any moment? He couldn't help himself, he smiled. He was completely terrified of course, anyone in their right mind would be, but that was what made it fun. There was nothing quite like the threat of death to make you feel great to be alive.

"Now!" A woman's voice sounded in his ear and for a brief moment, a millisecond to anyone else, he wondered who it was and why they were trying to spoil his fun by breaking his concentration. Then his brain kicked in and he realized what it meant. Hoping it wasn't too late for either of them he pressed the button, rolling out and on a course that would take him behind the destroyed frigate in a few moment. He didn't need to consult his scanners and hadn't planned any sort of course out in advance, he just knew where it was there and headed towards it.

When he didn't immediately hear the explosion he began to worry that he'd let too much distance open between Kettch and himself, very nearly turning back to take a look when suddenly his fighter was nailed from behind by something that wreaked havoc on his unshielded aft. He was slammed against his restraint harness and felt the fighter being thrown off course. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a big chunk of debris spin away, along with a portion of his starboard wing, "I'm hit!" He checked his diagnostics as they wailed at him, "Shield emitter unresponsive and I've lost half my laser cannons." He toggled his S-foils, getting no response, "I can't engage attack mode."

"We'll worry about that later!" Kir's voice came over, worried, "What about you? Are you alright? Is your fighter responsive?"

Salm took a deep breath and checked his body, cockpit, and control yoke, "No injuries, seal integrity's fine, she's sluggish but I think she'll make hyperspace."

"Five?" Kir solicited.

"Kettch unharmed," the Ewok replied, "ship damaged."

"I'm on it," Alleena responded without waiting for an order. She moved her fighter out from behind the destroyed frigate and came alongside the Hunter, "Looks like his shield emitter is out too, and I see engine damage, but it doesn't look too serious. Five can you maneuver," the TIE looped around slowly in answer, "good. Is your hyperdrive still online?"

"Yes," the pilot answered, his voice tired, "we go home now?"

"Good idea," Kir replied. "Everyone listen up. Full retreat! Repeat fall back, prepare to receive nav coordinates," the Sullustan ordered, finally able to make the call now that their exit vector was clear of the Lancers. A second later Salm saw nav coordinates appear on his screen, "Engage hyperdrive in three... two.. o-"

"Ship!" Kettch interrupted half a second before the Lord's Will dropped out of hyperspace right in their path. The ImpStar Deuce immediately opened up with it's gunsm spraying fire everywhere.

Salm was stunned silent by the size of it, it was just so big. It blocked out his entire view with it's massive bulk. "Break!" Kir yelled and instinct kicked in. He kicked his engines in, goosing as much as he could from the damaged fighter and heeled over to put as much distance as he could between him and that monstrosity. With the X-wing in this shape trying to out-maneuver the massive ship's guns would be pointless, he just had to hope his damaged fighter was a low priority to their gunners.

-----------------------------------------------------

Kir looped back around into the cloud of TIEs pursuing him. "Eleven, Twelve, get them out of here," he yelled to the two Jedi still keeping guard over the freighter.

"Where?" Argath asked, "Our escape iz blocked at both endz. We have no where to run to!"

The Commander paused. It was a good question, they didn't anywhere to run. Their plan had failed utterly to secure them an escape route and they couldn't go into hiding anymore, they were dedicated. So what could they do? Beat them? They were already down to just ten fully functional fighters and over half of their torpedoes were gone. They still had the M-wing masers, but they hadn't even managed to fully destroy the Painful Death. Taking on a Deuce with those conditions was suicide, but what else could they do? If they separated it might let a couple of them get away, but it would condemn the rest of them and both Kettch and Salm stood no chance in that scenario. Still, it had the best odds of getting at least some of them out of here, he had to go with it.

He keyed his comm, prepared to give the damning order when Alleena cut in, trepidation in hre voice, "Sir, do you trust me?"

It was such an odd question that it took Kir a moment to process it, "Given the situation I have no reason not to," he replied, not understanding what the question had to do with their situation. Trust truly seemed a trivial matter at this point.

Aleena was silent for a moment, as if she were fighting with herself over a decision, "Prepare to receive coordinates. Your nav computer will tell you they won't work, override it."

Kir swallowed hard, that was quite a tall order. Nav computers were programmed to detect only dangerous conditions for a jump, and military grade fighter equipment only those that were potentially fatal. Now he understood why she had asked if he trusted her, only someone very sure of themselves or their source would ever input such dangerous coordinates, and yet what did he really have to lose? He disabled the nav system's safety protocol and issued an override command to every computer in the unit. "Ready," he said simply, swallowing the fear rising in his gut. If these coordinate didn't work they wouldn't find enough of him to even identify as organic.

"Engage!" Alleena yelled. As one they blindly jumped out of hell, not sure where they would end up wouldn't be even worse.

------------------------------

The hyperspace jump took them five minutes to complete and while Salm knew he should have been biting his nails in anticipation of disaster the truth was, he really didn't care. He couldn't have fought with his starfighter in this condition so he had had no desire to stay and duke it out and he had no real desire to die so to him the Twi'lek's course was simple expedience, the lesser of three deaths and the only one he might live through. So while he was pleasantly surprised when they emerged unharmed and in the clear he wasn't shocked at the result... though he was shocked.

Right in front of them, less than a dozen kilometer away, was an old Venator-class Star Destroyer whose registry came back as the Dark Hope. Venators were capital class ships used during the Clone Wars hundreds of years ago, they were out-dated technology and had long since been decommissioned for private use, but you still didn't see many of them outside of museums and militias. You certainly didn't see one in the hands of a four man pirate crew, which led him to believe there was far more to Alleena then he had guessed.

Apparently he wasn't the only one surprised by it either. "I really hope you have an explanation for this," Kir commed on an open channel.

"Well it was decommissioned, it's all perfectly legal," Alleena replied.

"Yet I have no records of it entering the sector," Kir responded, "and I'm reading a couple military grade proton torpedo and concussion missile launchers."

The comm was silent for a minute before Alleena's voice came back over it low, "Do you really want to get into this now Commander? In your position?"

Now it was Kir's turn to be silent for a moment, "No I guess it's not important anymore. Besides I think I have couple starfighter pilots guilty of the same ordnance regulations. I'll take whatever help I can get. As an old Mon Calamari saying goes: Any port in a storm...."

----------------------------------------------------

They had no problems docking with the ship, the Dark Hope had plenty of hanger bays, even with half of them converted over to mass shadow generators and cargo bays. It was still a Venator and Venators were carrier ships capable of hauling dozens of fighter wings of all shapes and sizes. It quickly became apparent however that a woman he had initially assumed to be a small-time pirate was anything but. The ship only had a skeleton crew, but for a Venator that still meant nearly one hundred people and it maintained two full squadrons of droid-fighters for point defense. This level of coordination wasn't unheard of in pirates, Black Sun could field an entire fleet if needed, but it still meant she was a caliber of pirate far above small time stuff.

As he walked the halls of the great carrier he saw all sorts of species ranging from Ugnaughts to Talz and while there were entire sections of the ship with no power or life-support for cost-cutting measures the places he visited were still well maintained. If the species he had passed had been wearing uniforms he doubted you could have told the it apart from a Galactic Alliance ship. They were well organized, no one wondered around aimlessly looking for something to do and getting into trouble. There was an obvious command structure as he saw people give orders and take them without argument. There even seemed to be divisions like engineering and gunnery crews.

He came to an intersection and noticed that Alleena was waving at him from down a hall, or rather waving him over. He followed with argument, the Twi'lek had been very generous and helpful, willing to repair their fighters and even pay for a hypercomm so he could talk to someone in command. The least he could do was do as he asked while he was on her ship and not give her stang for it.

As he approached she began talking, "We managed to get someone finally."

Kir's eyes widened in surprise. They had been trying to raise Alliance Command for days now with no response. He had guessed the Crusaders had taken out the hypercomm buoys to isolate them, but the mere presence of a reply disproved that theory. So why had it taken so long? He had a few theories on that, but didn't want to jinx it by voicing them. "Great," he replied realizing he had been staring at her, "show me the way."

Alleena nodded back where she had just come out, "You can take it in here. Hope you don't mind if I sit in on the call, I want to know if you guys decide to sign me up for anything else."

Kir shook his head, "Not at all."

The pirate queen, as Kir was now beginning to think of her, turned and waved him after her. The room they entered was very small and spartan, about the size of a one-room apartment with a couple consoles along the far wall, a life-sized holo-projector, and a marked off area to show what the camera would capture. Both of them stepped inside and immediately the lights dimmed and a male Nautolan appeared in front of them, decked out in full alliance gear and wearing the rank of Admiral. The man put on a sad smile when he saw them, "Commander Kir Cari I presume?"

The Sullustan saluted, "Yes sir! It shames me to say I do not know your name!"

The Nautolan waved the comment away, "At ease Commander. No shame to be had, I was a Captain only a week ago, but with the way things are going promotions are common. My name is Zieger Calad, and currently I am the head of the Fourth Fleet, such as it is."

Kir put up his hand up to forestall further words, his mind closing on on the man's initial statement, "I'm sorry sir, but what do you mean by 'with the way things are' has something happened?"

"That's right you haven't had any outside communication since before the attack," the Nautolan replied, understanding dawning on him. "Then you don't know..." he swallowed hard. "I'm not sure how to tell you this Commander, but the Galactic Alliance is no more. When the Crusaders attacked they did it en masse, hitting every major Alliance world on the same day. Entire fleets are gone and what little organization and military might we have would perhaps best be described as a rebellion, not a proper military. In short Kir, we are a remnant of what we once were."

Kir nearly fell over, surprised as he was by the statement, but luckily Alleena was there to catch him, "Whoa easy there."

"I- I-" he stammered, "I had my theories and I knew this was a possibility, but still it is hard to swallow." He swallowed, "How many are left?"

The Admiral shook his head, "Not enough. The Fourth Fleet is our strongest remaining unit, but we're down to almost half power. The First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Fleets have gone completely silent and I can only fear the worst. The Third and Seventh are still around, but they took heavy beatings and are working together until we get their numbers back up. The Ninth Fleet's status is unknown, we've had no word from them, but they weren't at Crix Base when the Crusaders attacked and that was their post so it's entirely possible their still out there."

So many ships.... so many lives.... it was monstrous to think of the level of destruction much less who could have caused it. He could only hope they had managed to take some of the bastards with them when they went. "Give me your location, I only have my Twintail, but I want to help."

"Sorry Commander, but I can't do that," the Admiral replied, "I need you right where you are." He put out a hand and someone off cam put a datapad in it, he flipped through it, "I've reviewed your report, your unit has some impressive numbers and better yet you're currently behind enemy lines. This gives us an advantage we can't afford to lose so it is with a smile and a heavy heart that I offer both my congratulations and my condolences." Alleena and Kir shared a look, not quite understanding what the Zieger could mean. "First," he continued unaware of the look, "you're receiving a field promotion to the special rank of Fleet Commander. This promotion will allow you to maintain your position as a squadron leader but give you the authority to rally any elements you can find into a fighting force. Second your squadron has been officially recognized and can now act as an active Alliance unit," he laughed, "the boys in the naming department had a little fun with this, I see. Congratulations Kir, you now command Mongrel Squadron."

Alleena practically fell over laughing and he couldn't blame her. A mongrel was an animal of mixed heritage and usually unwanted by anyone, in a way it was the perfect name for the squadron he had put together. Though for the life of him he didn't understand why the Admiral would recognize a squadron that had only existed for one mission. "Hilarious sir," Kir answered, "is that all?"

The man shook his head, "No, for now I must offer my condolences." He turned to Alleena and said, "Miss, your ship and everyone on it has just been recruited into the Alliance. Effective immediately you have been assigned the rank of Captain and the position of Executive Officer in Mongrel Squadron. Congratulations."

_________________

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Re: Life of a Soldier

Post by Red-X on Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:54 am

Unfinished

Dark Crusader War: One Week Prior

To the Galactic Alliance and the Empire, the galaxy as a whole was at peace. It had been at peace for quite some time. No major engagements, no wars. Everything was running smoothly. Or, so it seemed to the typical blinded civilian. Even on the galaxy’s capital planet of Coruscant, it’s billions of people continued on with their lives, not knowing what danger was growing out in deep space. The city wide planet was wide awake as usual. An undercover Imperial operative strolled down the many steps of the Senate building with his hands in his coat, appearing as casual as everyone else around him. He looked the civilians and always asked himself what would happen if they knew a fraction of what he did about their own government. Know how corrupt some of the men and women they voted into the senate. Know where some of the worst criminals in galaxy hide out in plain sight.

As he strolled towards the taxi platform, he checked his chrono once more to make sure he was on schedule. He was to report back to his Watcher, who had set up a terminal, thousands of levels below the typically gray surface of Coruscant. The part of the planet he felt most uncomfortable going to. By the time you can no longer see the light from the surface, things can get very unpredictable. He was in no mood for confrontations with local thugs and beggars. The meeting he had just sat through for three hours with Galactic Alliance Intelligence Service, hidden away in the Senate building, was boring as ever. He never liked the Galactic Alliance agents; always carrying themselves around like they were better than everyone else. Spoke as if they’re the true unsung heroes of the galaxy.

The mess I sit through for my Empress…

No one in Imperial Intelligence liked working with them. The Director of Intelligence, who keeps everything in Intelligence functional, didn’t like it either. The Director had no choice, and the person whom no one has ever seen except Royalty, answers directly to the Empress. From what his Watcher had passed down to him, large disappearances from the Jedi and Sith have been appearing across the galaxy. Their temples on numerous planets were practically ransacked, with only a few bodies left behind that seemed to have been those who fought back. Galactic Alliance Intelligence have been trying to keep things all hush, hush . Fearing it could cause panic, which proved to him how blinded an average civilian was with mass genocide happening behind their backs.

It didn’t take long before Alliance Intelligence reached out to the Empire. They hoped we had heard or seen anything. Not surprisingly we had, of course they didn’t believe us at first. Did they really forget who we are? We’re Imperial Intelligence, we’ve always had eyes and hears everywhere. Luckily, the Sartinaynian system was unaffected by this invisible force of destruction. Sartinaynian, his homeworld and capital of the Empire was a heavily fortified planet ruling over its territories. They always knew exactly what was going on each planet, due to having significantly less planets to rule over, unlike the Galactic Alliance. We can assess problems with a much faster response than any other system. No one was foolish enough to mess with us. Admiral Kora, who lead the Empress’s Third Fleet made sure everyone was alert at all times. Kora was one of the well-known Knights of the Empire and took no nonsense from anyone. Like the rest of the Imperial Knights that were stationed throughout the Empire’s territory; they answered solely to the Empress. Due to the unusual distress call from the Alliance, the Imperial Knights have been putting in more patrols around the system. Nothing was going to separate our people.

The Imperial Operative looked up and down the taxi platform checking to see the nearest cab. Soon enough he was able to reach a cab that had just arrived and got inside. The driver who was an Iktotchi turned around looked at him for directions.

“Sub-level 1938.”

The Iktoch gave him an unsure look, “I’m not authori-“

“-Sub-level 1938, now.” The agent dug in his pockets and pulled out a card and slid it into the cash terminal in the back of the cab depositing 500 credits. The Iktoch nodded and pulled the taxi away from the platform and sped off towards one of the sky lanes. It wasn’t the fact that the driver was unauthorized to go down there, it was because nobody wanted to go down there. The crime level down there was horrendous. Everything beneath the surface was about survival of the fittest and the Empire was sending him right into the rancor den. It had been awhile since he’d come across any Black Sun or Exchange thugs. Though they ruled the dark corridors of Coruscants under city, it was nowhere near as bad as Nar Shadaa. Not even the Empire liked meddling with those lunatics.

The taxi cab flew around one of the many gigantic skyscrapers overlooking the planet. Not far in the distance, stood the familiar structure of the Jedi Temple. This had been turned into a galactic embassy hub for them. Jedi representatives from temples around the galaxy traveled here on a daily basis for numerous agendas. He knew the Jedi were carefully watching over the place after getting word of what’s happening off planet. One of the few places he would never willingly step inside. He had heard many stories about the Jedi reading minds and knowing exactly where you were at all times. If the Jedi knew what was going on in his head, relations between the Galactic Alliance and Empire would be a little shaky. At least they weren’t the Sith. He did feel a bit better there was separation between the Empire and Sith. Also the fact they had left Empire alone after what happened with that Darth Krayt guy?. We had earned our freedom after that long sought war. Outside of the Empress’s palace stands a large statue of Roan Fel after his heroic efforts during that war. The best sculptors in the Empire had worked years on making his presence well remembered.

It wasn’t long until the taxi flew into the depths of the Coruscant skyline. They passed by level after level, and slowly beginning the decay of the wealth from above. Fewer speeders were appearing and more cargo ships began to show dropping off supplies. Soon the daylight from above was gone and the under city lit up with its dark yellow gloom. The area functioned similar above, though the atmosphere was full of danger and unrest. The agent wondered if this was done intentionally, or if his Watcher decided to pick a random place. Getting the “Why” out of his Watcher was always annoying. Due to the “Need to know” basis that’s usually the norm within Intelligence. A field agent’s task was simply to get the job done and lay low until called upon again. He had been staying on Coruscant for months in a safe house waiting for the call to get moving again. This ended when he received an encrypted holo-message to appear in a meeting with the Galactic Alliance Intelligence.

“Here we are sub-level 1938.” Iktoch grumbled, “Good luck…”

The operative climbed out of the cab onto a rusted platform and closed the door without looking back. The cab quickly departed back to the surface. Looking around he was surrounded by many different groups of individuals. A large mix of aliens and humans walked around giving the agent curious glances. It wasn’t often someone would show up at this depth not looking as desperate and as dirt covered as them. Justicars and thugs roamed around harassing anyone that got in the way or looked at them oddly. One of the thugs saw the agent and approached, presenting his rifle as dominance.

“You’re obviously not from around here, pal.” The thug’s clothes were ragged and wearing an assortment of mess the operative felt disgusting. The stench was unquestionably wretched. The man wasn’t wearing any shoes either. His feet were crusted, scared and nearly black from the garbage he had stepped through. “And you don’t belong here surface dweller.

“…” The agent checked his chrono and pressed a small button on the side that presented an image of a map. The location of the terminal he was supposed to head towards. Ignoring the thug, he began to take a step forward. Only to be blocked by the rifle the thug was holding in front of him.

“I was talking to-“Thug was quickly disarmed by the agent, getting his rifle twisted out of his hands. Then the agent gained control of the rifle and slammed him in the face with the butt. The blow broke the man’s nose and he fell to his knees. Normally before the agent even gets to this point in a combat situation, he decides whether or not to kill the target. Though, if he was to take this man’s life, it would be considered an unsanctioned kill. Intelligence didn’t like agents taking unsanctioned kills unless told otherwise or truly life threatening. So, the agent threw the rifle over the platform into the abyss below.

Expecting a crowd to have gathered behind, he turned to face them. No one was there. Everyone was minding their own business and continuing on with their lives. The Justicars had even deliberately turned a blind eye. He guessed he must have taken someone down they were going after. He placed his hands in his coat pockets and continued to walk towards the coordinates. Several minutes went by as he turned down alleys and past by run-down shops until he came across a terminal by a large trash bin. The agent stood in front of the…How old is this damn thing? Watcher, I swear. The terminal was ancient and rusted. The screen was brown with dirt and whatever filth was on it. He used his coat sleave to wipe the screen and pressed the activation switch on the side. The machine was slow to boot and the screen came to life. A message came up, asking for a voice command.

“C2-5298547…Hurry up, Watcher.”

The “C”, also known as Cipher was Intelligence’s best operatives. The rank was reinstated eight centuries ago to new agents coming into the program. They were trained on a much higher level of hand-to-hand combat, espionage and more killer inducing traits. Not many past the tests and only a few still operated across the galaxy. They are given almost unlimited access to resources to complete their missions. The Empire made sure they were given a blank check. The downside of being a Cipher agent was you were rarely called to report back to headquarters. They were always stationed on key planets in the galaxy to watch over things.

“Good evening Cipher 2. How is your stay on the Galactic Alliance home world?” A female voice asked charmingly through the terminal. Her image appeared a few seconds later. A young woman around his age, wearing an Intelligence grey and black uniform stood firmly with a grin.

“Does it look like I enjoyed my time here...Why of all places did you send me to the Undercity, Watcher 8?”

“You will get your answer once you transmit the information you have gathered from the meeting with Galactic Alliance Intelligence, Cipher 2.” Watcher 8 nodded with assurance.

“Fine, I hope you deliver.” Cipher 2 inserted a datachip from his left coat pocket that he had used to record the meeting into the terminal. “I’ve edited the audio for the more important information.”

“I deliver whenever is necessary, Cipher 2. You know that.” Watcher 8 smiled once more as she checked the data coming in on her end. She quickly reviewed the audio in a matter of moments. “This is good, very good. I’ll send this to the Minder division for a more detailed report. For now, you are to report to these coordinates. There you will rendezvous with a team of Operatives and wait for further instructions. This will be a joint operation; you will be briefed on more once you arrive.”

“Joint? With whom, Watcher?” Cipher 2 asked, expecting the worst.

Watcher 8 gave Cipher 2 another one of her unreadable grins, “Galactic Alliance Intelligence, of course. Good Luck, Cipher. Watcher out.”

Cipher 2 grumbled with annoyance and shut down the terminal. He checked his chrono and watched as the data he received from Watcher was finished uploading. Then it appeared on a mini holo-image for him to read. Another safe house was set up, this time inside of a terribly conditioned hotel a few miles away in Black Sun territory. The room number was also given. Tomorrow he would have to set out again, to the rendezvous location in the [iUscru Entertainment District[/i]. He navigated around trying to keep to himself, ignoring beggars and anyone who tried to sell him garbage. Animals ran unleashed around the area scavenging anything they could find. Every few corners, broken droid parts littered the area; critters peered out of the joints to see who was passing.

The hotel appeared soon enough with only a few dozen lights flickering on and off. Luckily no one was outside to cause any confrontations. Due to being so far below, there was no way for him to tell whether still day or night. His chrono read it was currently night time, which may be why the area was somewhat deserted. He entered the old run down lobby and approached what he believed was the receptions desk. No one was in sight, though he could hear a holo show in the background, probably being watched by someone. Off to the left was the staircase. After three flights of climbing, he opened a door onto his level. Dimmed glass light bulbs lined the hall. The floor he walked on was stained and dirty. The walls were cracked, along with the ceiling. Continuing his stroll, he could hear muffled sounds and voices through the room doors he past.

At the end of the hall by a window looking on towards a wall of another building was his room. He searched into his pockets for one of many false identity cards he had to use to enter into a safe house. As he was about to slide his card into terminal on the door, he took off his coat. Then looked up at the dimly lit bulb and unscrewed the ball sized object. Next, he wrapped his coat around the bulb and silently crumpled the bulb into shards, and sprinkled them on to the ground in front of the door. This was of course a mild security measure to give him a little heads up if he has visitors. This end of the hall was now encased in darkness, allowing the glass to be hidden as he stepped into his room for a nights rest.

The next day after trekking long hours through the Undercity finding his way back to the upper layer by hitch hiking with speeders and cargo trams, he made it to the Uscru Enterainment District. During these hours most of the clubs and bars were closed. Not many pedestrians were around, except for the usual drifters or the ones with hangovers from the previous night. One of them, a female Zeltron stumbled into him. Considered the most alluring and most beautiful humanoid species around, this one looked like she had fallen very far on the beauty side. Her hair red hair was mangled; her clothes were torn and filthy. She grabbed at him trying to regain her balance. Cipher 2 could smell the strong odor of alcohol coming off of her. The woman was spurring incoherent words trying to drunkenly get his attention. After a few seconds of confusion he pushed her away and watched as she crumbled to the ground in tears.

As he walked further still hearing her cries, she suddenly stopped. He took a glance for only a second back at the woman and she was staring right at him. The tears were gone, expression blank, they locked eye contact. When he turned back around, only to register how weird that encounter was, he looked back at her once more. The Zeltron had disappeared. Cipher 2 stopped completely to check his surroundings and looked around expecting her to pop out again. Suddenly a bin crashed into view spewing trash from an alley not far ahead of him. A Rodian stumbled into view holding his head, clearly unaware of wear he was.

Cipher 2 checked his wrist chrono and saw he was only two blocks away from the coordinates. From where he stood, the place seemed to be inside of one of the local bars. He looked once more at the spot where he ran into the Zeltron, then continued walking. A few minutes he appeared in front of the entrance and walked inside. The owner of the bar, an Aqualish, was behind the main counter in the center of the two story building. A few others of his kind were roaming around cleaning the place, getting ready for another busy night. The man looked at Cipher and motioned him to come over. Before Cipher reached the bar, the man then pointed towards the second floor towards what seemed to be an office overlooking the entire bar. Cipher looked back towards the Aqualish and nodded. Soon he was outside the door. He waited quietly outside listening to catch any noise from within. Nothing was coming across his ears. He took a glance at the ceiling to catch any surveillance cameras and spotted one in the corner on the right wall. The door in front of him chimed, and then slid open to reveal an empty room.

He stepped inside, noticing the desk and shelves covered with the bar owners possessions. The window behind the man’s chair gave him a view of the Uscru District streets below. The door behind him closed on its own and the then Cipher felt the floor beneath him lurch. Suddenly, he felt a sinking feeling and watched as the window, ceiling and the shelves remained where they were as the floor he stood on descended. The floor which had turned into a platform only had the desk and chair going down with him. Slowly, he was swallowed up by darkness in silence. Cipher reached into his coat to check his S-5 blaster pistol in is holster. A few more minutes past until his platform came to a stop.

“Welcome.” A somewhat familiar voice said, “You just happen to be early.”

Monitors in the darkness flickered on in the darkness. Along with numerous other panels, following low level ceiling lights. The lights revealed a long rectangular table with 5 seats. A woman appeared out of the shadows to reveal herself. It was the same woman from outside, no longer wearing the same dirt stained clothes. Her hair was cleaned and still a curly red. She had cleaned herself up very well, with a very revealing skin tight outfit. Her curves and smile really stood out about her. “Was that some sort of testing you pulled out there?” He had heard about this species, they can easily fool an individual with their outgoing sex appeal and he was already falling for her. It must have been her pheromones. He never really cared much for beings outside of the Human race unless he was told to do so. He would have to be careful with this woman.

The Zeltron grinned, “Was just keeping an eye out, until you happen to get too close. Had to make sure it was actually you.”
“Satisfied?” Cipher 2, walked off the platform and approached the table to take a set. Behind him, the platform ascended out of view. “I know you are not from Imperial Intelligence…”

“What makes you say that?” The woman hadn’t locked eye contact with him the entire time she revealed herself. She moved to the opposite side of the table from where he was sitting and leaned over as if she was interested; letting him see her cleavage. He could feel slightly more nauseated as she kept her glance. She was trying to win him over with her pheromones. Luckily, things like this were drilled into Operatives as a part of their training. The memory of being shocked with electricity the moment they start to sway echoed in his mind. He knew how to focus, though he didn’t have the tools to completely block her out.

“You can stop with the games.”

The woman laughed a little, “Maybe I like games. Not many males can hold back the urge to get their hands all over me.” She stopped leaning on the table and walked around to him. She pulled out the chair sitting next to Cipher and sat down next to him, still looking into his eyes. He was still looking straight ahead, ignoring her advances. She put her arm around the back of Ciphers chair pulling herself closer.

“Not professional much, aren’t you.” Cipher turned to look her in the eyes. He slowly slide his hand on the table closer to his coat.

“I just wanted to-“She stopped immediately and saw his blaster pointer at her diaphragm, “See what made you tick.” She looked back up and bit her lip lightly, then winked.

Cipher could feel something along his neck, somewhat pointed upward into his chin. The arm that was behind him wielded a vibroblade in her hand ready to strike if he had attempted to pull the trigger. The girl was pretty quick at thinking. But he knew he could get a shot off before her blade dug it’s self into his throat.

“Naveena, please stop toying with our Imperial friend.” Another voice came from the shadows, and an elder human man walked into view. “You know how they are, all business.”

The newcomer walked in with civilian clothes and looked like anyone else off the streets. The platform in the back of the room came down once more with 3 people. Cipher 2 did not recognize any of them. Everyone in the room was all undercover. Due to their jobs, they had freedom in what to wear, unless told to do so. One of them was a male Iridonian, and a female human. Naveena continued to sit next to Cipher 2, as everyone took their seats without a word. Then the elderly man stood in the table to face everyone.

“Good, everyone made it. My name is Jaren, and I belong to Galactic Alliance Intelligence. Along with Naveena,” He nodded towards the Zeltron who smiled back happily, “and Lok.” The Iridonian nodded at the acknowledgement.

“Of course, these are not our real names. So, what do you two go by?” Jaren said, looking towards Cipher 2 and the other woman sitting by Lok.

“My name is Cipher 2, Imperial Intelligence.” Cipher said, hopping this wouldn’t turn into another boring meeting like in the Senate building.

“I am designated as Cipher 6, also Imperial Intelligence.” The woman across the table said, turning to look at Cipher 2.

Naveena cocked an eyebrow looking at the Imperials with confusion, as did Jaren. Lok seemed to not care at all. “Is that really the best your people can do?” Naveena asked, “You’re not allowed to pick your own code names?”

Before Cipher 2 could say anything to Naveena, Cipher 6 got to her first with a small hint of humor, “If I was to tell you anything, either me or Cipher 2 would have to kill you before you could comprehend what happened.”

The Zeltron woman was having trouble believing if she was telling the truth. She looked at Cipher 6 with concern. Cipher 2 was already beginning to like his fellow Imperial operative. She had wit he can handle.

“Ok people, at least for once we can all sit in one room without trying to kill each other. I was notified one of your people has information for all us to hear.” Jaren turned around walked to the control panel for the monitors. On the screen, Cipher’s Watcher came into view.

“Good evening. Imperial Intelligence has combined everything you had offered to give us and we combined it with what we have found. The overall picture is still a little blurry. This invisible force that is taking out force sensitive strongholds is doing so with extreme efficiency. More temples in the past twenty hours have gone dark.” Watcher said, still reading the data on her end.
“Is there anything we can do to slow them down?” Jaren asked what had been on everyone’s mind in the room.

Watcher mildly shook her head, “From the analysis, we would have to make a near pin-point accurate location to head towards. We do not want to risk taking in a fleet, since we do not know what exactly we are up against. The southern Outer Rim temples have gone dark.”

An image of the Galactic Map appeared on the monitor next to Watchers’. The areas on the lower end of the galactic disk were rapidly growing red to show how many planets have been affected. The invisible invasion force was heading straight for the Core Worlds. Cipher can see things were getting worse and worse by the days. “Why haven’t we received any images of these people? Any holo’s of the attacks?” Cipher 2 asked.

“Because no one had made it off world Cipher 2. Transmissions have gone out as well. Refugees have been flooding into the Inner rim…Those that have escaped. The Jedi Embassy cannot even tell what’s going on. Some of the Jedi representatives have already departed to their home worlds to make sure things are secured.” Jaren said looking back to everyone.

“From the latest occurrence of events, we have been keeping tabs on our territory just in case. We believe infiltrators have breached the walls of the Jedi and Sith to wipe them out for something horrible to sweep through. Before we can aid you, we must make sure our territories our secu-“Watcher said, but Jaren cut her off as he was just notified by his datapad of urgent news. He activated another moniter and an image of female in Jedi robes appeared.

“Grand Master Carlin? Is something wrong?” Jaren asked worried. The Jedi Grand Master was the head of the Jedi Embassy on Coruscant. Cipher 2 didn’t know much on the woman. He never had to, unless she came into the sight of his work. During his stay on Galactic City, he did she her appear on holo’s doing interview’s for the public.

“Though what I have to say is bad news, it’s the best news we have so far. We’ve been notified of a very recent attack on Adumar’s Sith temple. All communication traffic has been stopped. You’re mission, agent Jaren, is to get your team to Adumar as quickly as possible. Make sure Adumar’s weapon factories have not been seized. Find any survivors of the Sith temple and report back immediately.” Carlin said worried.

Cipher 2 gave a look towards Cipher 6 to see if she was thinking the same as he was. Adumar was practically next door to Imperial territory. He looked towards Watcher who had already been on a com-link talking to Keeper the moment she had heard Adumar. He knew the Empire was only moments away from high alert. Every planet in the territory will prepare for battle. Cipher 6 returned a small look towards Cipher 2 with concern.

“Adumar is located in the Unknown Regions. It will take us awhile to get out there.” Lok said, finally speaking up. “Even with a fast ship, it will take us days to get there.”

“Even if it’s too late, there’s still hope. Find out what exactly is going on over there. I’ll keep you updated on your journey. Carlin, out.” The Grand Master reached forward and turned off her end of the transmission. Jaren began typing into his datapad shortly afterwards.

“The Empress has just demanded all its star ships to return home. We will not be able to loan you any assistance. “ Watcher said, “You all will be our eyes out there.

“And I just got word from the Chief of State, that he can loan us some transport. That’s all he can afford to give us. It’s getting prepared now.” Jaren said, as he continued to key into his datapad.

Naveena looked around at everyone and then raised her hand at Jaren. His head was still down, Cipher 6 and Lok looked at her confused. Then she added a little cough to get his attention. Jaren peaked up and saw her hand; he sighe. “Yeah?”

“I was wondering…If…There was a tanning booth on board.”

“…”

---
*Other part will be added later

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Re: Life of a Soldier

Post by Red-X on Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:52 am

Unfinished

Dark Crusader War: The Day Before

The ShaShore-class frigate was assigned to Jaren’s team to transport them into Adumar’s system. The ship was designed to give them the speed they needed to get to their location, as fast as possible. There wasn’t much armor plating, though the ship can defend itself when necessary. Without its big brother, Scythe-class battle cruiser, it can’t last long in a fight. No one knew what to expect when they arrive in system. The Long Night of Solace had been in hyperspace for 5 days with engines on full. Some of the crew had no clue where they were going. One minute they were being called back to Coruscant for a possible threat, next they are resupplying to head right back out again. Cipher 2 was surprised how quickly they were able to make a turn around. He believed it was almost as efficient as Imperials.

Throughout the trip, Cipher 2 had kept to himself. He mainly stayed in his room during daylight hours then strolled around while everyone slept. He was taught, even your allies could betray you without notice, while you rested in their home. Within the first hour spent in his room when he came aboard, he had found numerous hidden audio devices and other surveillances. He figured every ship in the Alliance was similar. Cipher 6 probably had found the same annoyances in her room as well. She had kept her distance from everyone and mostly remained in her room. Though, she did show herself to the meetings about what to expect on Adumar. After each meeting, she would vanish back to her room. Cipher 2 had made contact with Watcher 8 to see if she had anything on Cipher 6. Watcher’s in the Empire were only authorized to information pertaining to the agents they are assigned to. Watcher 8 did have a long history with Cipher 2 and sometimes went out of her way to help him. She had tell him Cipher 6’s profile was black. There was nothing she could scrape off the top, and couldn’t go any deeper. Cipher 6 was a total mystery to Watcher 8, and she reminded Cipher 2 to be careful.

Now, only a few minutes from exiting hyperspace, Jaren called for them once again. The group met in the Operations room a couple of decks below the bridge. In the center of the room layed a large circular holo-table with 3-D image of section in Cartann. Cartann was one of many nation states on Adumar, and this was one of the biggest. All of the nations were apparently weaponized to defend from invaders. They had no blueprints to any of the structures, so looking inside was impossible. Though, they did discover the location of the Sith temple not far from Cartann City. There wasn’t much they could gather from the world due its isolation out in deep space. What the rest of the galaxy did know, they created and sold all kinds of missiles for those who were willing to pay the high cost. Its two major buyers just happen to be the Galactic Alliance and Empire.

“The Galactic Alliance had an Informant stationed in Cartann City, and has since been MIA.” Jaren said, “I have tried reaching him multiple times with different methods. He has not responded back to any of them. The last message he had sent us, was this safe house located here,” Jaren pointed to a heavily structured building with many windows and floors. “I have requested to the Captain of this ship to have his men prepared for a fight.”

“And that leaves us…” Cipher Two said trailing off. None of them were soldiers, and didn’t have the firepower or strength to fight back an army if they just happen to run straight into one.

“…With no assistance on the ground. Like it has been stated before, we are blind. When we arrive in system, we will be taking an unmarked shuttle down to the surface. We will be in civilian attire and make our way to the safe house. Once base is set, we head out for the temple to find out what happened. I don’t know how the Sith will react to our presence, and we will only state who we work for when we come in contact with members of the temple.”

“Ugh, the Sith are so boring…” Naveena complained, “Maybe they just want to be left alone?”

“Without saying anything? Did you forget we can’t communicate with anything on Adumar at all?” Cipher Six said staring at the zeltron, “If an entire planet disappears off the grid, you expect us not to take a curious look to find out the why?”

“I’m sure they have a good reason…” Naveena said.

Cipher Six gave her a disgusted look and then turned her attention towards Jaren, “I’m beginning to worry about the status of your teammate here. I feel she might slow this operation down and risk getting-“

“-Risk getting what? That I might be on to something here?” Naveena said her attitude rising.

“That you might be on some sort of death stick addiction.”

Naveena’s face turned to anger as she was about to say something before being cut off by Jaren, “Enough. Cipher Six is right, Naveena. We would do the same thing if something like this happened to the Jedi. One cannot exist without the other-“.

“Agent Jaren, this is the Captain. We have dropped out of hyperspace and have Adumar in sight. Have your team down in the hangar as soon as possible.” A voice said through the intercoms. Without a word, Cipher Six rose and left the room in silence.

Everyone met in the hanger soon after the other. Six was the first one there looking over the unmarked Crix-class shuttle. Its on-ramp had already been lowered and lead into the passenger area. Lok was seen hauling a few bags of gear into the hangar along with Jaren. Naveena had brought up the rear carrying nothing, and only applying a bit of make-up to her face. Six glared at her and turned to walk towards the nearest Crossfire that was being checked by engineers on the other end of the hangar. Two went over to her to see if she had actually found anything interesting about Naveena.

“You two seem to be getting along, very well.” Two said with a smile. Then he continued to move his lips without making a sound, “I’ve seen many Imperial Operatives, but you don’t look familiar at all.

“Oh really...” Six said continued to inspect the star fighter in front of her after reading him.

“I was getting a little worried back at the meeting.” Two shrugged and followed Six around the starfighter. “I want to know if you are here on any other agendas.Two said. He didn’t expect to get the answer and figured she would trail off into something else.

“I can handle myself.” Sixsaid, “There is a mole inside both the Alliance and our government. I've lost contact with Imperial Intelligence as well. No one on my list of contacts have made any efforts to respond. I fear Sartinayian is under attack. And we're alone out here till we find some answers. ” After the sudden news, she left Two at the star fighter and walked back to the shuttle where everyone was gathered.

Cipher Two wished he knew how close she was to catching this mole. He wondered how long Watcher Eight had known about this huge breach in security. If she did know, why didn’t she tell him early? Now hearing that Sartinaynian had gone dark, this mole could have easily been the cause of this. He wanted to know more about this person and he was going to have to arrange for Six to be alone. There was a possibility she still had ways of communicating with at least someone in the Empire...If they were alive.

Getting back to the shuttle, everyone had climbed inside. The magnetic barrier that protected people from the vacuum of space came to life as the hangar doors slid open. Two could hear Jaren issuing orders from within the cabin as he stepped up the ramp. Lok was seated near a viewport with his boots resting on top of the seat in front of him. Naveena was near the front by Jaren. She was listening intently waiting for her role in the mission. Six was in the very back, appearing to have turned off the lights in her area, was sitting in the dark. Only her legs sitting in a crossed positioned was visible with her finely polished boots shinning from the light.

“Cipher Two, please, take a seat we’re about to depart.” Jaren said gesturing to the few open seats around the cabin. Naveena smiled at Two and patted the seat next to her with a hand. The operative winced slightly and turned away without responding, then proceeded to the back. Naveena’s smile dissolved into a scowl while she watched him leave. Lok had already fallen asleep in his chair and the seats next to him were taken by a few of their bags. The row of chairs on the other side were open up and Cipher Two was about make his way across the viewport seating on the other side when he heard a familiar low pitch noise. It was a technique Imperial agents were trained to use and understand when applied. It was to help get a person’s attention in practically utter silence. No technology was needed.

“Lok, you will be our in the field tech as usual…And he’s asleep, again.” Jaren said shaking his head at the Iridonian.

The noise had come from the back where Cipher Six was sitting. She was still hidden in the dark as she communicated to him with a series of pitches only Imperials could understand. He went into the dark area of the cabin and sat down next to her. When his eyes adjusted to the darkness and looked at her for a moment only to see she was staring straight ahead. Naveena had taken another look back to see what the two Imperials were up to. Six didn’t want her getting into hear shot at all. If for any reason Naveena came back here, Six might get defensive, intentionally.

“Naveena, this time around you will be our eyes and ears from the local civilians. Hopefully they can give us some information with what’s going on.” Jaren nodded to the zeltron. She cheered for a moment and spoke of getting out to the clubs and bars to have a good time. Though she quickly saw Jarens stare and assured him she was only practicing her undercover persona. Then he mentioned the two Imperials in back, Cipher Two being their point man. Cipher Six was to be partnered with him as his fall back. Both of them acknowledged uncaringly and resumed their conversation.

“I’ve been told I am allowed to share only very little of what I know.” Cipher Six said quietly, without turning her head.

“Told by whom?”

“Cipher Two, you need to know one thing about me. I don’t like to be kriffed with.” Six remained all business as she continued to watch everyone in the cabin. “If for any reason, I get a hunch you try to screw me over, your life will become hell.” The woman then turned to Two for a moment, “And it will remain that way.”

“You don’t think I feel the same about you. Don’t give me that preach poodoo. Tell me what you know, so we can make our jobs a bit easier.” Cipher Two said scornful, “What else do you know about this mole?”

“He or She has managed to gather locations on our exact whereabouts in the Imperial Territory. This person was able to transmit to an unknown source before we were able to shut it down. Whoever this person is was very good at covering their tracks. They have also found access to numerous hidden Sith temples…” Cipher Six said whispering.

“So it’s a fact, whomever these people are, they have been attacking the Jedi and Sith separately.”

“And very quietly. Even in some of our highly secured areas at the Imperial Palace, when this person comes into view, our vids are scrambled. No signs of a forced entry, no use of slicer chips, nothing.”

“Any idea if the Alliance has a similar problem?”

“This conversation will remain between you and me; no one else. Do not ask them anything, do not share anything. Also, some relationship advice, stay away from the zeltron.” Cipher Six said now watching the back of Naveena’s head. Jaren had turned to the pilot in the cockpit and told him to take off. The Crix quickly launched out of the hangar into space. Behind them, the Long Night of Solace disappeared from view as it changed course to head towards one of Adumar’s moons. From there, when called upon, would reveal itself for emergencies encase Jaren and his team were in trouble.

Outside Cipher Six’s viewport, she could see a steady flow of various cargo ships heading to and from Cartann. Then a representative from Central Control reached out to their shuttle when they came into range. Their pilot was redirected to one of the many air bases just outside of the city, Giltella Air Base. It wasn’t long before the transport shuttle came through Adumar’s atmosphere during twilight hours. The towering skyscrapers loomed closer revealing thousands of comm cables lining the buildings and skyways. Strobe lights were carefully placed on the cables to help direct traffic through what Cipher Two felt to be confusing. The civilian’s seemed to have no issue navigating with so little clearance.

Giltella Air Base was only minutes outside of Cartann City, away from the large weapon building corporations. The base itself was controlled by the millitary. Blade-56 superiority fighters were parked all over the run way and packed into hangers surrounding the area. No one on board the Crix had ever seen an Adumari star fighter. The crafts seemed to have been influenced from X and Y-wings from many decades ago. Not many were seen around the galaxy, and were deemed rare. What did stick out was, none have seemed to be flown in quite some time. As they flew closer to their landing zone, weeds began to show growing from the cracks beneath the star fighters. Cipher Two also noticed the main hub of the air base had also suffered what looked to be some damage.

“Is that blaster scaring?” Cipher Six asked, also looking out with Two. Some of the windows had been boarded up. Long jagged black lines raced down some of the terminal walls.

“Those look somewhat recent.” Lok said slightly making everyone jump. No one had seen him move from his laid back position since their trip here. “Hard to tell, too far away.”

“I’m sure asking around won’t be a problem, once we get inside. Everyone grab your things and get ready.” Jaren said changing out of his clothes from Coruscant and putting on something to fit the local atmosphere of Adumar. Cipher Two didn’t like what he had to put on to not stand out too much like a tourist. Felt like something out of a holo-drama dealing with pirates, just cleaned up and stylish.

Cipher Two slid on brown knee length boots, light weight black rugged pants. His brown shirt was made out of silk that eluded him, with buttons down the middle. A red sash that dropped down to his knees was tied around his waist to keep his pants from falling, along with keeping the fashion. Last was a long comfortable coat of dark covered velvet. He loved coats. Everyone else had dressed in similar attire, though Naveena, like the previous outfit was revealing and tight with heel boots that could probably kill a man. He watched her bend over and slid a small vibroblade into each boot. Then another into her overbust dark blue corset. Cipher Six unceremoniously pushed his head forward in annoyance to get his attention away. He shook his head remembering the pheromones and shut the invisible force out once more.

“I told you to watch yourself around her.” Six said sternly.

“You have no idea how strong that mess is.” Two equipped a sling over his sash to holster his blaster.

The main hub vanished from view as the pilot turned around a control tower to descend onto a landing platform, surrounded by vacant Blast fighters. A crew from the base came to the shuttle to escort them to the nearest ramp leading into the building. Once they step out, they would be on their own and head straight for the safe house. Before Cipher Two did anything else, he wanted to find out what happened here and he figured everyone else would do the same. Night was now upon them as they walked across the tarmac. The crew that escorted them through the dozen of empty Blades were armored with what appeared to be blastswords. Half of the weapon looked like the hilt of a blaster, and the other half held a meter long blade. At the tip appeared to be an opening…

“A weapon within a weapon. You should see how they fight.” Jaren whispered, catching Cipher Two’s curiosity.

Cipher Two had zero training in wielding a sword of any kind. Though, they were almost extensively trained in defending against force-users. Some of their instructors were in fact Imperial Knights, as well. Some of their escort looked a little rough and skeptical. Their eyes peered around the barely lit tarmac. All of them were wielding their blastswords expecting something to happen.

“Is everything Okay, gentlemen?” Jaren asked out loud, “Could you explain what happened here?”

“We had a problem with rogue Sith infiltrating our government, trying to destabilize us. They were put down recently.” One of the men said, “Only a few were able to escape, so things are on lock down right now till they are found.”

“When we were on the way down, no communications were coming off planet; did the rogues have something to do with that?” Lok said, “How did this place get so ruined?”

“They were trying to escape through our air bases…Look, you will get everything you need to know inside.” Another crewman said as they approached the entrance to a ramp leading into the hub. He directed them to follow the path and their escort departed. The lights in the ramp flickered every couple of seconds and along the walls were blaster holes and long lines of scarring.

The group silently continued their walk and then came into the hub. Almost everything was in disarray. Many troops were running around attending to the needs of the wounded. Walls and ceilings were blown through. Rubble littered the floors. Chairs, holo-screens and tables were toppled over or smashed. Cipher Two took a moment as he scanned the mayhem before him. He had never been on a battlefield to witness such destructive events before. He always remained behind the scenes, and now this job he had no choice in deciding just placed him possibly on the front lines of something big. A solider pointed to him and his group with his blastsword directing them to keep moving. As he began to move forward, his foot contacted something. He looked down to find the hilt of a lightsaber.

Though, the hilt had been cut in half. It was also smaller than a typical built saber with a perpendicular grip. He placed his hands on the pieces and his surroundings suddenly turned to black. Cipher Six, Jaren, Naveena and Lok dissolved away. Everyone insight dissolved as well. Ahead of him, a being approached his position in a dark cloak. The person held his left arm across his chest and had a limp in its walk. Cipher Six couldn’t move from his knelt down posture. He had to crane his head to see if he could identify the individual.

“Time is short.”

“For what? What happened here?” Cipher Two said.

“Find me.” The being now stood in front of the agent. Cipher felt as if he was bowing before this person. He bowed only to the Empress and her Knights. The being reached out with its right hand which was covered in shadow and touched his for head. He felt a searing pain on impact. Images of a dark cathedral-like building appeared. He was swept inside and felt a bone chilling cold as he flew past torn tapestries and scorched walls. Moving through eerie hallways and doors, the cold was enduring and fear radiated off of him. The first time in a long time, he was afraid. Everything happened too quickly to put up his defenses.

Up ahead he arrived at a dead end. His hand without any of his control pressed a section of the wall and a small rectangular section caved in. The piece disappeared from view and part of the wall as wide as his shoulders, slid open. Then he was pulled into the blinding darkness for several seconds. On the ground was a person sitting back against a wall with a torch lit above. Its head looked up and Cipher Two was met with red and yellow eyes. He locked eye contact with the person for only a few seconds then was blasted back out of the room. He shut his eyes in fear, and felt the cold slowly ebb away.

“Hey, keep it moving!” a voice called out.

Cipher Two opened his eyes to see himself staring at the split hilt in his hands. He was still knelt down. When he looked up to see if anyone of his team noticed. They had already walked off on their own routes. He placed the hilt inside of his bag and got to his feet. The soldier that had called out to him directed him towards the transportation portion of the hub. The bulk of the civilians were still trying to back home. Some of the vid’s on monitors were reporting about the incidence that had gone on for a week. He discovered the Perator of Cartann had apparently been one of the conspirators in trying to overthrow the Adumari Union along with many other Sith from the temple located in the city.

Another civil war had broken out within the Sith temple in an attempt to take out the power hungry Perator. The Perator herself was in fact a Sith as well. She was also the Dark Lord. As the feeds continued the news report, it had also pointed out the Dark Lord’s followers had shut down communications on the planet to cause their pursuers to become disorganized. The Perator had fled from office to go into hiding, while a new Sith took her place. This man enacted martial law, grounding Adumari pilots and any other transports from lifting off. To add on, even blastsword dueling had been banned. During the ending hours of the week-long war, the surviving traitorous Sith had made a run on the Air bases to get off world. The new Dark Lord quickly dispatched units of Sith who had no allegiance with this insurgency to halt them in time.

Judging by the look of things around him, they obviously went out with a bang. He checked his chrono under his sleeve and saw it was near the middle of the night. His team would move on the temple in a couple of hours.

_________________
"To be a Sith is to taste Freedom and to know Victory..."


dandaman7 wrote:Yea, you see it on the news all the time: 'Guy gets mugged for Jedi Order symbol by possible Sith'
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Re: Life of a Soldier

Post by Red-X on Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:29 pm

Unfinished

2 Years Before Skyfall and Crusades

Loud roars and cheering, followed with rhymic stomping filled the century year old cantina. Every man, woman and child was full of energy and adrenaline. Dust covered monitors around the dark moldy cantina was showing a scene from a gladiator arena with two individuals in the center. With a powerful swing from one of the combatants’ vibro-axe, the blade hit home through the others chest plate. The blade sunk deep into the person’s shoulder blade, bringing the individual to their knees. The roaring crowd in the cantina quieted, waiting for the killing blow. On screen, the massive audience in the arena had followed suite. The standing individual looked down upon its wounded foe, then quickly brought forth a heavily armored knee and struck the victim’s jaw with bone crushing force. The head snapped back with a brutal whiplash and collapsed to the ground. The crowd in the cantina and the arena simultaneously erupted in a massive celebration. As soon as the crowd began to cheer, a chant slowly crept through the mob until everyone chimed in…

Mandalore! Mandalore! Mandalore!”

The individual now dominating the center of the screen was a hard boiled woman. Her face scarred from past and the she had risen out of as victorious. Blood trickled down her chin and forehead along with sweat from the blazing sun overhead. She held her war-chiseled arm into the air clenching her fist in triumph to the roaring crowd. A war cry boomed from her voice as she released all of her bottled frustration from the battle. The woman dropped her worn now scrapped helmet with the distinct T-visor, to the blood drenched sand by her feet. She approached the motionless body in front of her and kneeled down to peer into her victim’s helmet. Then she grabbed hold of the helmet and pulled it off. A middle age man’s face was revealed with bruises riddling his face and his dislocated jaw gave his expression a lopsided look. He blinked weakly as he starred into the woman’s eyes as she donned his helmet. His time of rule was now over, as he continued to look at the new Mandalore, she pulled her bloodied vibro-axe out of his shoulder and watched as the blade came down once more…This time, its destination was his head.

In one of the booths near the back of the frenzied cantina after watching the spectacle on the monitors was a young man, drinking a few shots of strong alcohol. He was alone and slightly shrouded in darkness due to the lack of functioning lights in the old building. Over the mob and mugs raised into the air sloshing around its contents, he kept his gaze on the monitor over the bar counter. The man had sat in same seat since the start of the fight and waited patiently for the end result. No one gave him a second glance or bothered to make any conversation with him. Most likely due to his wardrobe, giving off the impression of being a peasant and depressed. His ragged robes were covered in mud stains and dirt. When he witnessed the final outcome of the match, he grinned slightly underneath his patched and ruffled hood. Once he finished his sixth glass, he slid out of his booth and dropped a cred chip on the table. Like a ghost, he silently maneuvered around the overzealous crowd and approached the high arching doorway that lead into the bright blinding sunlight.

It was now midday on Concordia. A chilling breeze that had come through from the massive mountain range surrounding the old mining town caused everyone around him to bundle their clothes a bit tighter. The valley the town was situated in was on top a massive Beskar reserve, which was heavily sought after and the planet’s main export. The planet itself was settled by Mandalorians over millennia ago. The peasant looking man strolled the streets and observed the cheering town folks over their new Mandalore. Even the miners who were stuck in the caves for months finally resurfaced and joined in the celebration. This particular town was home to one of the many clans across Concordia. Their symbol was a red skull of a Strill on a white mountainous background. Those who were in lineage with the original founder wore red beskar armor, suited for everyday life. Acted as a second skin from what he had seen over the past couple of months he stayed here. They rarely took the armor off.

The peasant man soon reached the town’s space port. Due to the planets numerous mining excavations all over the surface, it was required to take a shuttle to the space station orbiting the planet. Where ever a dig site began, a small town would soon grow around it, to house the workers and their families. Then the society would evolve from there like any other city, until the beskar ran out, the people travel to another location and start all over again. Though mining was their task for sustaining wealth out here, they also ran numerous fight clubs. Everyone fought, including woman and children. Even individuals who were seniors still moved around and struck just as hard when they years younger. They thrived off of combat and it was the number one recreational activity for Mandalorians. Combat also helped prove the right of passage for younglings to create and wear their own beskar armor. As they grew older and so did their armor as they changed, and modified to suit an almost endless amount of uses. Everyday someone would challenge one another to a duel and it was treated as a town spectacle. He watched as the warriors sparred with each for respect, revenge, and for many different reasons.

The woman behind the Travel counter gave the man a slight disgusted look. Without saying a word she tapped a monitor above her, showing the price rates for taking a speeder up, or somewhere else across Concordia. He slid a chip from his pocket under the window into the tray. The woman scanned the appropriate amount and gave him a ticket pass. Soon after, he was seated inside the shuttle on its ascent through the sky. The blue and orange outside the viewport slowly grew darker as they exited the atmosphere. The cabin’s lights flickered on, followed by the continuous groaning of the deck and engines. As zero-g kicked in, the gravity generators came on. People from different species roamed around the cabin to stretch their legs or look through luggage. The man who appeared to be peasant reached down beneath his seat and felt around for a device. A small disguised recording device in the shape of a mini toy R2 unit not sat in front of him on a tray table he unfolded onto his lap. Pressing into a few sections on the toy to unlock the combination caused the dome of the droid to open up. Inside a neatly folded piece of paper appeared. He grabbed the paper and peeled back the edges.

Docking Bay 9. Transport waiting.

Outside the viewport, the space station was insight. Unlike the station orbiting Mandalore, this was not quite kept in good condition. A much older model amazed even the locals that it was still keeping position over the planet. A few Mando’s from the engineering core have been hard at work renovating the old tech and bringing up to speed with the current era. This work was ongoing for many decades. Its defenses were obsolete and a patrolling squadron of newly streamlined Bes'uliik watched over the mining colony. A pair flew by the transport and escorted them to the nearest opened docking bay. As they landed, many workers were on the walls and over chasms in the floor patching in new metals and plates. Mostly every individual was hidden by their uniquely put together armor. Drawing his attention back to the piece of paper and the droid in front of him, he placed the paper back inside dome and closed it shut. On the underside of the cylinder, he pressed a small button igniting a flame inside the droid burning the paper to ashes.

The man walked through the terminal and tried to avoid bumping into the armored juggernauts that roamed everywhere. Vendors riddled the walls calling out for buyers to purchase their products. A middle aged woman digging through a trash bin, by a merchandise counter spotted the peasant man, strolling past and called out for him.

“You, sir, please I need the money.” The woman dropped the garbage in her hands and waddled after him. The man continued to ignore her. Then she deliberately rapped her arms around him crying and begging. Causing a mild scene in the crowded terminal hall, she slid a device into the man’s robe. Quickly, she was pushed to the ground in tears. She continued to look at him and began to blink what seemed to be off-putting in a frenzied manor as she cried. Although, man in the robes, knew exactly what she was doing. The woman was delivering a coded message, while on the outside; she was out of her mind crazy to the public eye. One eye blinked a particular set of times, while the other did the same on its own. When both eyes blinked, the number was given, and then she would continue to blink to reveal the next number. This went on for several seconds, even when a pair of Mandalorian enforcers picked her up, and carried her back down the hall way.

6. 2. 9. 7. 4. 12.

3. 5. 0. 8. 52. 41.

Two sets of sequences he was given, and now feeling the weight of the device in his robe, he waited till he found Docking Bay 9. An elevator was the only thing standing beneath the dimly lit colors of the sign indicating where he was. As he approached, the doors slid open and he walked inside the circular tube. Scanning the tube, he spotted no cameras or other possible listening devices inside the aging elevator. The floor was transparent, giving off the view of an endless abyss into the inner workings of the station. The man pressed the button for level 9 and the doors closed. Once the doors clicked and the elevator descended, took off his battered robes. Underneath, he was secretly carrying a bag on his waist, to give off a distorted physique. Inside the bag was another set of civilian clothes. After several minutes of changing into a dark red long sleeved shirt, brown pants and cleaning off the dirt he had covered himself with; he took out the device the woman before had given him. It was holo-device and a pair of wireless ear phones for him to listen.

He turned the device on and put the earphones in. A deliberately distorted voice began to speak.

“Good evening, Agent. If you are receiving this message, then your mission on Mandalore has been successful. Along with your encounter with another agent to take over where you left off…”

He recalled the woman he met in the terminal that had given him the device he was currently using. It seems her plan to be captured would take her over to Mandalore and where her work will begin.

“…The two codes you have been given will grant you access to Docking Bay 9 and access into the ship that will take you off station. Once off, a frigate will jump in system to piggyback you out. Once on board you will be briefed further on your operation. You know the drill. Watcher VI, out.”

After a few seconds, a small pop came from the holo-device and flame erupted from the screen. This procedure was to get rid of all electronics once its task was completed. He dropped the device to ground with a crunch. When the elevator stopped on level 9, the doors didn’t open and there was no chime. The buttons on the wall where you press the level you wish to arrive on, flashed on and off. He reached over to the panel…

3. 5. 0. 8. 52. 41.” As soon he pressed in the last digit, the doors departed. In front of him was an abandoned hanger with Helot class transport ship resting on its legs and the activated mag-shield open to the stars. A shadowed figure in the cockpit saw the elevator doors open and started preparation for liftoff. The engines came to life and the boarding ramp was lowered. The agent walked up the boarding ramp to the closed blast door. Once he put in the second combination of codes, the door slid up and a blaster was aimed directly at his face. The agent did not flinch a muscle and stared back at the woman with the weapon drawn.

“It’s been awhile, Mira.”

The woman holding the weapon then brought a fist in attempt to strike him. The agent almost missed the opportunity stop her. His hand blocked the blow, and he noticed Mira had become quite stronger.

“If I knew they were sending me to get your ass, I would have turned them down.” Mira grumbled. “Especially after that night you just left me.”

“You know who we work for Mira…”

“So that means you just cut off all contact and leave me hanging?”

“I would have got bac-“

“-That’s a load of bantha poodoo, and you damn well know it.”

The agent reached up with his other hand and calmly lowered the pistol in front of his face. “Honestly, I mean it.”

Mira continued to stare at him with menace and scoffed, then moved out of the way to let him on board. “You owe me.”

The woman purposefully brushed past, hitting him in the shoulder on her way to the cockpit. Mira was also in the same program as him. Both were agents of the Empire. Their division involved field work all across the known galaxy. Only in the last two decade the Empire’s Intelligence division was reorganized. Officially, and only known by the Empress, her Imperial Knights and her council of government, knew the existence of Intelligence. Every couple of years individuals are approached and vanish from the public eye. Their identity coated in black ink and recreated; everything from birth, favorite food to love interests. Agents are never allowed to take a life, though skilled in methods to do so when ordered to. They are trained extensively to disarm and infiltrate almost any environment. Their main agenda was to take care of the medial tasks their Empress wanted taken care of. Majority of this was ever truly confrontational. It wasn’t until an agent reached the status of Cipher, they could take a more direct approach to handling situations. This also came with a license to kill. What Ciphers did, was more top secret then the typical agent in Intelligence. Not many made to such an elite class, nor did many survive for long. Although, being a Cipher was the ultimate dream in Intelligence.

Mira took the transport out of the docking bay, leaving Mandalore and Concordia behind in the distance. Far ahead, a grey speck stood out in the darkness of space. The small dot slowly became larger as Mira brought them closer. The frigate was of Imperial design, fresh out of its ship yard. It is one of the latest in design for covert operations. Its construction was shrouded in secrecy and only the Minister of Intelligence, War and the Empress had written off on its design. This starship was called The Stagnant, due to its ability to maintain over watch of an assigned location for very long periods of time. Stagnant also helped boost communication signals whenever there’s a necessity for operatives to make long range off world calls, while remaining untraceable. Most of its capabilities were still being tested in the field. Many antennae arrays riddled the surface, along with most of the surface being flat and somewhat blocky to help vanish from sensor arrays. Its engines were arguably the most silent ever built in the known galaxy, though it lacked in speed. The sound decibels made arriving planet side nearly undetectable. Stagnant did not however wield camouflaging technology. The Empire’s top scientists were still working out the kinks, but experiments have shown they were still years off. Their goal was to hopefully beat the Republic to it first…

“Have you been aboard already?”

“It’s how I got here. I was told to bring my new partner on board for a new assignment.” Mira said guiding the transport into the Stagnant’s hangar bay.

“…And that would be?”

“Sadly, you.” Mira said disgruntled as she lowered the ramp onto the busy hanger deck. “Though on the bright side, I get to remind you every single day about what you did to me.”

“That’s not bright at all…That’s just cold and twisted.”

Mira winked at the agent and walked out of the cockpit. He watched as she leaned over to grab her bags and disappeared down the ramp. Seconds later he was out of his chair and grabbed his belongings. Just as he approached the ramp, a freshly cleaned protocol droid appeared at the entrance. The droid turned its head towards the agent and greeted him with a bow.
“Hello agent Milon, of the Imperial Intelligence bureau. I am protocol droid Z-Z9R of Commander Yolan, Commander of The Stagnant. I am your escort to your quarters. First, Captain Yolan must know why is a scoundrel, a princess, and a wookiee inside an asteroid?

To kill a mynock.” Milon said to the droid.

“Access granted. This is to be viewed by Agent Milon and Agent Mira as top priority.“ A panel on the droids forearm opened and a data disk sprouted up. Without a word, the droid picked the disk out and handed the device to Milon. “Please, if you have all your things, follow me. Mind your step.” The droid bowed once more and rotated around to head back down onto the hangar.

Milon looked over the device before stepping out of the ship, and knew the device was most likely encrypted. He would usually receive these disks in many different unique ways to lower the chances of witnesses. Inside were normally messages with updates on a mission; rarely a live holo chat would take place due to the location constraints. He slid the device into his pants pocket and followed the droid. The Stagnant’s hangar was just small enough to fit two regulation size imperial transports. Double the length and width of the Helot craft he arrived on. Technicians and crew roamed the deck going over equipment and making sure everything was working efficiently as possible.

The Stagnant is Imperial Intelligence’s newest mobile base of Operations. Here, agents operating across the galaxy travel through here as a momentary resting point before heading back out.“ ZeeZee said cheeringly. “We help handle emergency extractions, supply the latest in technology for field agents and have temporary holding cells for subdued captives…”

The droid took Milon through dozens of halls past other individuals. A few were wearing uniforms to signify they are crewmen while others were casual or wearing an odd assortment of clothing. From armor, casual, robes, formal gowns…They could be anyone.
“…Was never designed for ship-to-ship engagements, but what it does excel in, is its state of the art defenses. No, we do not hold a squadron of fighters due to the size constraints of the ship. Only 56% of the weapons on board have been field tested and the rest is still being optimized. It has been a total of 257 days since the last on board incident…”

ZeeZee turned a corner and stopped in front of a door and turned towards Milon, who was looking up and down the hallways taking in his surroundings. The droid pressed a few keys on the panel next to the door. A piece of the wall around eye level gave in and a streamlined scanner came through. “Please, Milon, for security purposes and to gain access to your room.”

“What is it that you said? 250 something days since?” Milon asked while getting close to the scanner. A black light came on going over his eyes for a few seconds, with several clicks.

“We experienced a sudden breach in security when files were being copied from one of our databases. The suspect had been apprehended…and then spaced. ZeeZee said with a sad undertone.

“Woah what, we spaced him?” Milon said as the scanner slid back into the wall, “We couldn’t contain him in a cell?”

The droid cocked his head to the said for a moment, “My apologies, agent. We didn’t kill him. He spaced himself. Now, please, in 0300 hours your holo device will activate and the debriefing on Mandalore will begin. I will make sure you will not be disturbed.”

The door to Milons room slid open into a pitch black room and then disappeared inside while the door slid shut behind him.

_________________
"To be a Sith is to taste Freedom and to know Victory..."


dandaman7 wrote:Yea, you see it on the news all the time: 'Guy gets mugged for Jedi Order symbol by possible Sith'
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Dark Lord of the Sith

Join date : 2010-07-26
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Comments : "You were trusted to lead the Republic but you were decieved, as our powers over the Darkside had blinded you.

You assumed no force could challenge you and now...finally, we have returned." - Darth Malgus

Im active on XFIRE, my username is bojack2424
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Re: Life of a Soldier

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