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03.26.2012 , 05:36 AM | #5
Chapter Four: The Search

Dorn began attentively tapping at his datapad, attempting to connect Besh to the cruiser’s communication grid. A notification of success appeared in the corner of Besh’s visor, but Dorn beckoned Besh to delay commencement with a raised hand as he eyed the screen on his other forearm. Frozen for a few seconds, the slicer finally dropped his right hand, gesturing for Besh to continue. The sniper almost cleared his throat, but was interrupted by a large icon in his HUD signaling that he was live.

“Trooper, status report!” Besh commanded in a faux authoritative tone. There was a moment of silence as the squad eagerly listened in.

“Oh, uh. Here sir!” A nervous voice shot back from the armory’s communications panel. It was familiar to the troopers’ ears, but seemed tainted by the accent of a Corellian farmhand.

“I asked for a status report! Why are you locked within the armory?” Besh continued his castigation.

“Oh. Well, uh, you know that prisoner? He took me hostage, and forced me to take him to where his armor was. Afterwards he locked me in here while he made his escape toward the hangar!”

“Damn it, not the hangar! We just got word of a boarding party completely wiping out the security posted there!”

“You… you did?” the voice replied, almost dropping its accent.

“Yes! Now don’t worry soldier! We’ll send a squad down there immediately to get you out of there!”

“Uh… negative. It would probably to take too long to override the door controls. Go on without me.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll send a security expert.”

“No, wait, I think he rigged some explosives to the door. Any interference, and, you know… boom.”

“It’s okay, we have a demolitions expert on the way.” The two continued back and forth. It was all but confirmed that they had found Aurek, but the amusement of the two troopers blatant overacting was great enough that none of the squad members bothered to chime in. In time, Besh dropped the charade and directly confronted his squad leader.

“What kind of accent is that, anyway, Aurek?” Besh asked, returning to his usual vacant tone. The silence that followed had been one of the heaviest since beginning the mission.

“Corellian, I think. Just a lowly farmer with dreams of seeing the galaxy spreading the good will of the Republic,” Aurek replied in a light-hearted manner.

“Corellia has farms?” Besh wittily tested.

“If Balmorra and Tatooine can have farms, any place can,” Aurek reasoned.

“Well, it’s good to hear that you’re okay Aurek,” Besh admitted. “We’ve taken the hangar and will be on route to escort you out of here as soon as you are ready. I assume that you are there with your armor?”

“Yeah, but they slapped so many damned restraining bolts on it.” Aurek confessed with more than a hint of annoyance. “Managed to get the suit on and functioning, but the helmet’s still out of commission.”

“Will you have it ready to go by the time we get there or should we wait here for a bit?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll have it on and working by the time you all get here,” Aurek informed. It was a rule no one was to see any member of the Seven outside of their armor, especially without their helmet. One of the many protocols for the Project, and Project Protocol always came first. Luckily for Aurek, only the interrogator and two guards had seen him after he was stripped and detained, making the witness elimination process a bit smoother.

“You did make sure to deal with anyone who saw your face, didn’t you?” Besh obligatorily questioned.

“Yeah, yeah. They managed to get me all the way to the detention center before asking me to remove my armor. Minimal witnesses. Not a problem anymore,” Aurek answered.

“Security footage?” Besh continued. There was a beat, as the previously unthought-of of notion was processed in Aurek’s head.

“I guess they would have cameras… in the holding areas. Makes an inordinate amount of sense now that you mention it,” Aurek softly mused to himself, but still broadcasting to his team. “The footage is always so grainy and blue-ish, maybe they’ll just suppose I’m a Chiss?”

“That won’t fly with the Director. We’ll have Dorn work on destroying the electronic evidence while the rest of us come and rescue you,” Besh indicated. Dorn’s head sank when he realized he wouldn’t be moving from his station for some time.

“Oh, you’re too kind,” Aurek joked. “Well, you know where I am. I’ll be waiting.”

And with that the communications ceased. The soldiers in the hangar passed each other looks of relief knowing the safety of their squad mate had been confirmed. The looks stopped when the individuals realized they still lacked a definite plan of action. After communications ceased, the troopers still on the hangar floor ceased their previous tasks and began making their way toward Besh and Dorn.

Cresh and Esk dipped their head towards the Republic soldiers they had gathered before stepping out from under the forward platform. Forn popped out from behind a cove a stacked crates near the aft boundary of the room. Grek had attached his footlocker to the spine of his armor, serving as a backpack that increased his already sizable volume.

“Alright,” Besh began, “Dorn will stay here, with a second watching his back. The rest will make our way towards Aurek.” Each of the soldiers mini-maps shed the previous markings and pings from before and were replaced by a single objective point where their comrade could be found.

“And who will get the honor of guarding my person as I remain plugged into this console with an ever increasing soreness in my legs?” Dorn asked, only half-joking. Esk raised one of his hands as he ascended the brief stairs towards the two.

“Don’t worry, I‘ll keep the guy safe,” Esk promised.

“You sure?” Besh asked.

“Yeah, yeah,” Esk confirmed. “Forn hates guard duty if he isn’t all by his lonesome, and Grek looks ready for a fight. Not too sure he’ll find another one in here. And I wouldn’t want to separate the little one from the group this early in his career,” he said jutting a thumb towards Cresh.

“I’m taller than you,” Cresh murmured in response. Esk responded with his own boisterous laugh.

“Besides, most of my stuff is on that shuttle. Wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to it,” Esk admitted.

“Most of your stuff better stay on that shuttle… wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to the hangar,” Forn interjected, breaking his silent approach toward the platform.

“When have I ever used more than the recommended amount of explosives for any given situation?” Esk inquired. The turning and dipping of heads from his comrades provided a sufficient enough answer. “Fine. Discretion it is.”

The demolitionist’s heart and shoulders simultaneously sunk as he uttered one of his most detested words. One of those shoulders was met with the planting of a hand, one from Forn in fact.

“Listen. There are maintenance hatches… tucked away under the forward and rear platforms. Should you wish… rigging some traps… would prove advisable,” Forn comforted. With that, Esk’s shoulders and spirit simultaneously rose once more.

With the six troopers together, they each shared a series of subtle nods and what one would assume to be glances indicating that everyone was ready to proceed.