Chapter Six: The Rescue
Besh and his three compatriots made their way down the pristine corridor, intent on reestablishing contact with Aurek. Besh lead the way with Cresh and Forn to his sides, positioned slightly behind him, and Grek protecting the rear. Thankfully the hallway was high enough not to encroach upon Grek nor the footlocker attached to his back.
Making their way through the bowels of the cruiser, the lights and sounds of a ship on high alert assaulted the invaders’ senses. The ship locked down, only with the help of Dorn did the automatic doors in the assailants’ path retain their automatic function.
The four troopers traced a path along the maps present in their heads-up-displays. A relatively straight path along the vessel’s spine until a sharp turn would put them toward a series of compact personnel lifts. The armory that housed Aurek was one level below, meaning a quick descent would be necessary.
Carbines and rifle in hand, the four troopers made their way toward their destination at a sprinting pace, looking to avoid combat if at all possible. Small doors leading to ancillary rooms lined the walls on either side of the marching Imperials. Fervently eyeing them as they passed, the soldiers did not want another squad of Republic troopers surprising them from behind an unchecked door.
One such door happened to open as the troopers made their way past it. A lightly clothed crewman had not even managed to get one foot out of the door before the massive Imperial in the rear shoved him back with the quick brunt of his bracer. The squad disappeared beyond a large doorway that shut behind them, vanishing before the ship’s tenant could even register what events had transpired.
The squad’s first turn in an otherwise straightforward venture put them a short distance away from the designated lifts. It also put them in the line of sight of the squad of troopers protecting said lifts. The four republic troopers fired upon the invaders before taking cover behind the corners where the hallway widened significantly.
The Imperials followed suit by taking cover where the path intersected the spinal passage they had been following. With a lack of navigable space, Besh and Grek deferred to Cresh and Forn to dispatch their foes. Blasting away from behind cover, what would have been blind-firing to most soldiers was actually precise maneuvering due to the Imperials’ weapon sights being synced to their helmets.
The Imperial carbines managed to make short work of the armored opposition, allowing the troopers to continue their advance toward the lifts. Unlike the ordinary doors that had preceded them, the elevators lacked the courtesy of ignoring the lockdown the ship was currently under.
Besh sent word to Dorn asking for assistance, but was told that unlocking the lifts would take some time. The news depreciated even more when word of incoming Republic soldiers was acknowledged by the Imperial squad. Not wanting to be locked down waiting for the lifts to come back online, Grek decided the best course of action was to forge a new path.
With his immense strength, Grek parted the lateral doors himself, exposing the dark maw of the empty tube that breached the numerous layers of the cruiser. Forn leapt into the tube and descended the few meters that separated the two levels of the ship’s interior.
Vibroknives drawn, the hunter kicked off of the shaft’s back wall and stuck himself into the wall next to the doors below, a slight hum emitting from each activated blade. Withdrawing one from its place in the wall, he jabbed it instead where the lift’s control panel rested on the other side. Slicing through the metal and circuitry, Forn quickly withdrew the blade once again before swinging through the now opened doorway.
Forn beckoned his squad mates to follow. Besh was first down the tube. Grasping Grek’s hand with his own, he was gently lowered down a sizable distance before Forn assisted him from the lower level. Grek offered his hand to Cresh, but the two were interrupted by the arrival of more Republic soldiers further down the hallway. After taking cover, Cresh signaled for his companion to go first. Grek nodded without opposition.
The sizable trooper flung himself backwards down the shaft, facing toward the doors as he descended. Falling quickly, he managed to catch himself on the bottom ledge of the level below and readily hoisted himself up. Cresh took a few shots at the opposition before making his own dash toward the chute.
A stray blaster bolt managed to hit his hand, spinning the soldier about down the lift and causing him to let loose of his primary weapon. The carbine fell into the darkness below. Cresh, however, managed to be yanked from his descent by the outstretched hand of Grek.
After a few moments were spent catching a breath, the squad continued their speedy trek toward Aurek. This level of the cruiser lacked the single hallway running its entire length that the previous level possessed. Instead it was occupied by a myriad of twists and turns and curved hallways.
Navigating the labyrinthine floor plan was made simple by the carefully calculated route on the Imperials’ visors. Due to the winding nature of the halls, the ever splitting pathways provided ample cover for the troopers’ approach. Each straightaway lasting only a few meters, it was easy to avoid being sighted by any of the squads patrolling the area. It was only when nearing the small armory that two Republic soldiers popped out from an adjacent room.
Cresh managed to drop one of the Republic troopers, his carbine having been replaced by one of the pistols that once rested at his hip. The other was brought down by Besh’s sniper rifle, shot from the hip. A quick look into the room that spawned the now fallen soldiers revealed it to be a sort of interrogation chamber.
The darkly lit room spied on its brother further in through specialized monitoring equipment. A video screen depicted the aftermath of Aurek’s escape: table and chairs knocked aside, interrogator suffering from severe case of blunt force trauma, armored guard lay defeated in the doorway connecting the two rooms. Taking a pause to look back, Besh noticed that a pair of restraining cuffs tossed to the ground in the hallway. Opposite the direction of the armory.
The squad continued until their visors declared they had reached their destination. The sealed door of the armory before them, the troopers took defensive positions while Besh tried to connect with Aurek. Cresh guarded the return path with his pistol raised and ready. Forn and Grek knelt side by side, training their eyes on whatever threats might approach from the unknown end of the hallway.
Besh banged the door twice with his fist before sending out a communications signal, hoping Aurek had managed to get all of his equipment online. After an uneasy pause, the squad’s leader connected his comm to the group and was met with a cheered welcome.
Chapter Six-Point-Five: “The Interlude”
Back in the hangar, Esk emerged from the shuttle toting a small but sizable box from the shuttle’s cargo bay. The crate was plastered with a series of warnings and labels in a bolded, vibrant font. Stepping off the vessel’s ramp, the demolitionist set the box on the hangar floor with a loud thud.
“And all I’m sayin’ is an X2 droid probably would have checked what was behind the door before opening it,” Esk muttered over the two-man channel connecting him with Dorn.
“So you’d replace me with an Astromech?” the technician bluntly replied.
“We’re not talkin’ about any ol’ Astromech,” Esk offered with a chuckle. “A military X2… with some modifications. Cortosis weave armor plates, matching paint scheme, and maybe some shoulder slings so Grek could carry it like a backpack.”
“Yeah, but then how would Grek carry his pride?” Dorn asked.
“Do you meet his literal pride or his footlocker?”
The two soldier’s antics were interrupted when word of Aurek’s returned echoed across the shared comm.