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02.01.2013 , 11:36 PM | #31
Chapter 22

Hangar Bay 01-A
Keldabe, Mandalore
115 days ABDK

Backblast ran up the ramp into Dankin’s ship and entered the cargo hold, where his armor was stacked neatly against the wall. He picked up the plates and began strapping them on over his bodysuit.

When he had clipped on everything except his helmet, he clipped his assault cannon to his backpack and picked up the helmet, and then stormed back into the main hold.

He activated the holoterminal. As it powered up, he paced impatiently. This was bad.

“This is Republic Command, receiving,” a voice said.

“Republic Command, this is Colonel Backblast of Republic Special Forces,” he replied. “Mandalore is under attack by the Dread Masters. This is the perfect opportunity to get rid of them.”

“Understood, Colonel Backblast. I’ll relay the information to Supreme Commander Malcom, and we’ll get forces out ASAP.”

“Good. Colonel Backblast, out.”

Dankin ran into the room behind him and shoved him aside. Backblast, confused, started to ask what his brother was doing, when Dankin put a call in to his privateer fleet.

Backblast grinned. “The more the merrier,” he said.

He slammed his helmet on and sprinted out of the ship. The Dread Masters were beginning to land their forces now. As one of the landing ships came in over his head, he switched his cannon to grenade launcher configuration and fired straight up.

The mortar round slammed into the landing craft’s engines and it swiveled aside, smashing into the ground. Dankin ran out behind Backblast, pistols in hand.

“Well, brother,” he said, “looks like it’s finally time to fight side by side.”

Backblast nodded. “For our family, and for the Republic!”

He charged into the streets. A squad of the Dread Masters’ troops opened fire. Backblast spun sideways and let the bolts bounce off his heavy shoulder pads. Then he turned back, heaved his cannon, and swept the streets. The troops cried out and the front ranks fell.

Dankin rolled for cover beside a fallen speeder. He trained his blasters carefully on the next rank of troops and took precise potshots at their neck seals. The fabric incinerated and the blaster bolts sheared through their throats.

A Houk in Imperial armor leapt forward, spinning a large electrostaff. Backblast fired, but the Houk’s armor took most of the bolts. He slammed the staff into the side of Backblast’s head. He raised his staff to deliver the killing blow, and a sniper bolt sheared through his head.

Backblast looked back to see Risha standing there, biting her lower lip, left eye closed in concentration. The Houk fell back, dead. Backblast nodded thanks and stood.

A squad of Trandoshan berserkers charged in with vibroswords and blaster pistols. Backblast fired and found they were less armored than the Houk captain. He ripped through three of the Trandoshans. Dankin tossed a sabotage charge onto the hem of one’s pants. Backblast grinned and put a bolt through the charge. The Trando grunted as his leg was blown off.

Backblast heard footsteps behind him and turned around. Corso, Bowdaar, Akaavi, Guss, and Dinua came around the corner, weapons in hand. Akaavi and Bowdaar leapt in to attack as Corso took up a firing position with Risha and Guss and Dinua worked to set up a field triage.

Backblast returned his gaze to the battle as a Gand jumped on him. Firing his cannon point-blank, he blew a fist-sized cavity in the Gand’s chest. He took a breath of relief and stepped back to fire at the ranks again.

Mandalorians were now pouring out of every building en masse, blasters, vibroblades, and myriads of other weapons in hand.

Backblast grinned. He may have turned his back on his father’s people to serve the Republic, but he had never betrayed their memory. The Mandalorians were always ready to fight when it came down to it.

A Mandalorian in white and brown armor ducked down across the street from Dankin and began firing a snub rifle. Others charged in with pistols, blades, and their armor’s assorted tools like flamethrowers and wrist blades.

Backblast fired a mortar round into the center of the line of troops. Another two landing ships were coming down, dropping combat droids in addition to troops, now.

Backblast swept the line with his cannon, ripping through the droids’ casing and blowing holes in the troopers’ armor.

“So far so good!” Dankin called back, grinning.

“Shut up!” Backblast grumbled. “Never say it’s easy! Never!”

He hoped Dankin hadn’t just jinxed them.

A squad of Nikto Morgukai assassins charged in with the next team, and though they weren’t as large as the famed crime lord called the Mountain that Dankin was known to have helped take down, he knew they would be a challenge, because they were trained to kill Jedi.

He shot down the first Morgukai before it got into striking range. Two more went down thanks to Risha and Dankin, but three more got into close range. The first swept Backblast’s legs from under him. He lost his grip on his cannon. The other two began to slam their electrostaffs into him. He grunted as they hit him, but his armor blocked the blows successfully. He couldn’t last long, though.

Suddenly, one of the Morgukai grunted as a foot planted itself between his legs. Nikto puke splashed onto Backblast’s armor, but a moment later a surgical bolt sliced through the maimed Nikto’s chest. The other two glanced up, and Backblast took the chance to whip out his pistol and blast the other two.

“Come on,” Dankin said.

“Nice…kill,” Backblast said. “Not typical, but effective.”

“You do what you can in my line of work.”

Backblast reached down and wiped the gunk off his chestplate with a cleansing pad. There. Back to perfect.

“We can’t hold out like this for long, can we?” Dankin asked.

Backblast sat down behind the overturned speeder and looked around. Due to the strength and durability of Mandalorian iron, more of the Dread Masters’ troops had been killed than Mandos, though Dinua and Guss had begun patching up half a dozen men, and two Mandalorians lay dead in the street.

“Not forever,” Backblast replied. “But a while. Maybe long enough for reinforcements…maybe.”

Republic attack fleet
115 days ABDK

On the deck of the Telos, Prudii looked out at the blue swirls of hyperspace and tried not to worry. For all he knew, his brother Dha was on Mandalore, and could be in big trouble.

Vik and Elara were loading the BT-7 Thunderclap with combat and medical supplies. The Jedi had sent a strike team to assist the Republic–several of them, which Prudii had worked for.

Jasin and Gareb commanded the team, with Degan and a few Knights serving as division commanders. A junior Knight named Ylenia and a senior Knight named Chance–strangely, he was a Sith Pureblood–were assigned with Havoc Squad.

Across the hangar, Jorgan was supervising the separation of troops. A major named Rakiya was in command of guarding Keldabe’s left flank, and a small Mirialan captain who had the affectionate nickname of Squirt had the right flank.

[Sir,] Yuun said. [Supreme Commander Malcom has requested your presence on the command deck.]

“On my way, Yuun,” he replied. “Thanks.”

Prudii tucked his helmet under his arm and took off toward the command deck. He found Commander Malcom standing at the center of the room, looking at the tactical screen that took up one wall.

“There are a lot of forces over Mandalore,” he said quietly. “And more arriving by the minute.”

“Shab,” Prudii grated. “Level with me, sir. Is there any chance of winning?”

“Slim,” Malcom replied honestly. “But it would get bigger if the Imperials would fight alongside us, and what are the odds of that.”

“Better than you think,” Prudii replied. “Before we got Colonel Backblast’s transmission, we got a similar message from Agent Merok, who said he was sending a copy to the Empire under the alias Cipher Nine.”

“Then there’s hope,” Malcom said. “Good. We can’t afford to be defeated here.”

“We won’t be, sir. I’ll ensure victory or die trying. That’s a promise.”

“That’s what worries me, Major. Dismissed.”

Prudii saluted, turned, and then rushed back to the hangar to meet with his squad before they reached Mandalore.