Please upgrade your browser for the best possible experience.

Chrome Firefox Internet Explorer

A Soldier's Journey

General_Malor's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 02:06 PM | #1
Prologue: Absolute Torment

“I’m counting on you Teran!” she screamed over the cacophony of battle as he ran towards her.

He wasn’t sure where he was, he only knew the trench he ran through. The endless corridor on some nameless battlefield as he sprinted towards her. His legs felt like they wouldn’t move, every step requiring all his concentration. No matter how fast he ran he couldn’t catch up to her. She ran ahead of him, chasing something. She would turn back and wave for him to catch up, she seemed to be moving too slow though. Her hair hung down, crimson curls bouncing slowly though she ran far faster than a human could. Every time Teran extended a hand to she was moved further away. The ground beneath his feet was muddy and adhesive. The water from the muck felt hot and slippery. Only when he looked down did he realize he stormed through a valley filled with blood. The dark red color staining his black armor as he ran.

“Teran I need you!” she screamed again as she stayed out of his grasp.

He didn’t care about the blood any more, he only wanted to keep her safe. He put it aside and ran with every fiber of his being, the hot spray of blood from his steps splashed his face. He could taste the irony bitterness of it hit his open mouth. Sweat stung his eyes and aches riddled his body. Time didn’t matter in this place, for all he knew or cared he could have been running for years or seconds. Then before him rubble started to fall into the trench as he looked up to the ledge far above his head. He noticed the four people who ran, two on each side, their hands reaching down.

“Come on Sarge, we have a war to win, let it go!” the man with blue hair yelled at him. Teran knew he had a name, but could only remember his callsign Brat.

“Listen T… we all want to help her… but there’s nothing we can do… you have to stop this,” a man from the other side yelled at him as he looked down at Teran. This man for some reason looked like he was funny but it wasn‘t anything about him, just that he seemed to be a Joker.

“Boss, I feel your pain, and if you really want to keep going I’ll follow… but we won’t survive it. You’ll get us all killed,” a large Zabrak said from behind Joker. The man seemed unusually kind for Teran to want to call him a Bully.

“Malor please, won’t you just let me in. I want to help you so badly, why can’t you see that,” a woman almost whispered to him from the ledge. Teran could only remember something about her cutting something that fixed him, why she was known as Stitch to him.

Teran ran looking up at all the people who depended on him, then to the woman in front of him who’s face cried for him to help her. He felt like he’d made the decision sometime before, but this time it would be different. This time it would work out. He would change it to make things better. Teran ran on while he spoke to the people above him.

“We don’t lose her again, this time we keep going, I’m on point,” Teran said to his squad.

Their faces looked mournful as they watched him. Each one ran with their hand closest to the trench extended down to him, their faces looking forward. He could see them, though they refused to acknowledge him again, and they looked grim and saddened. Teran couldn’t worry about that now though, he needed to keep going, but as he ran he began to feel sick to his stomach. He felt as if his innards would revolt against him and give way to heaving and lurching until he was empty inside. He knew he’d done something so terribly wrong that it was unchangeable. He tried to keep running but he began to stumble as something laid out before his feet in the muck and blood.

He looked down and felt stomach acid in his throat and his soul shrunk from the sight. Joker was floating in the blood, his face ravaged and half gone from a grenade, his torso was shredded showing pink organs and entrails pouring out as his one remaining eye stared lifelessly. He turned his head to the side only to see Bully trying to crawl out of the trench, both of his legs cut off to cauterized stumps and a cracking sound emanating from his ribcage. Before he could get far he extended one hand that feebly grabbed hold of the soil before falling limp and lifeless. He looked before him but only saw Brat stumbling to him, holding his stomach that bled from the dozen flachette wounds that tore his stomach apart. Tears flowed down his face as he looked at the sight of his body. He locked his eyes on Terans’, crying out for his aid before he fell over and drowned in the blood at his feet. Teran closed his eyes and fought back tears and sickness as he kept running, but he was interrupted when he heard Stitch whisper his name. He looked to her as she clung to her throat trying to fight for air. It wasn’t sorrow or pain that filled her eyes, only pity, and Teran knew it was directed at him. Stitch fell against him, Teran trying feverishly to hold her up but too slicked was she with blood and falling from his grip she ever was. She didn’t speak but her eyes begged him for an answer as to why he couldn’t keep her safe, and he didn’t have an answer aside from his own greed and selfishness.

Teran moved past his fallen squad with his soul sapped of its will. He cast a gaze upwards to the ledges where they stood and was relieved when he noticed them still above him, marching along, arms still down, faces still grim. Finally Teran noticed that the crimson hair woman had finally stopped and looked away from him. He slowed down when he got close to her, knowing he didn’t want to see her but knew that he had to now, especially after everything that hand happened. His squad stopped above him, still ignoring his calls out to them.

“I did it… I saved you,” Teran told the woman with ill pride. “I promised you I would.” He said as he turned her toward him.

When he saw her face it was broken, beaten and bloody, her eyes distant and unfocused. She collapsed, almost falling to the ground but Teran managed to catch her. But she was far too heavy in his tired state and he laid down in the blood and muck along side her, holding her out of it by placing her mostly over himself. He cradled her tightly trying to get her to respond but she was a drift somewhere inside of her mind. Teran felt hot burning tears stream down his face as he looked on to his love as she faded while in his grasp. As he cried she gasped and groaned, her mouth and throat dry as she tried to speak.

“I tried my love… I tried to hold on. Where were you?” she asked weakly, her vision long since failed.

“I came as fast as I could… please tell me you’ll be fine, I can’t go on knowing you suffered like this because of me… please,” Teran said between sobs as he brushed her damaged hair away from her cold sweating face.

“I wanted you to save me… but not like this, tell me… is Jones alright?” she asked, making him feel that crushing sickness again.

“He’s fine my sweet… everyone is fine,” Teran said trying to pull himself together as he lied. “We’re all waiting for you to come home now… you’re coming home now right?” Teran said as he controlled his voice though tears remained steadily flowing.

“How can you lie to me? Teran… you don’t know what they can do to a person, it was so terrible,” she said as she cried and shook in his arms, her body signaling her final moments were upon her. “I don’t want to go on anymore… will you release me from this?”

Teran choked as he tried to answer, but his throat burned and stung as he searched for the words. He looked down at her, digging through his being for his resolve. He wanted to try anything to save her.

“I won’t end you, you will not die like this, I promise,” Teran said as he clung to her as she died.

“Promises, promises,” She said as she looked up and placed a boney hand on his face. “Then you know what you have to do right?”

Her hand dropped as her body stopped it’s violent convulsions. Her eyes started to dim as he looked at her, but she spoke with her final breath.

“Watcher… find me.”

Teran held her deceased form in his arms trying to find the strength to carry her from the horrid trench they were in but found his legs stuck in the mud. Nor could he move his body at all, though her body still laid over his. He looked up to his squad as they finally turned their gaze towards him, looking down with sorrow and pain. He tried to call out to them as they moved further away, but they still did not answer. As he descended the world became entrapping and claustrophobic, growing darker and darker. Soon he couldn’t see his squad, he could only hear his own breathing in the dominating silence. He tried to reach up but his hand hit a barrier that spread out all above and around. No matter where he ran his hands he couldn’t see an opening, then he realized where he was as he heard something hit the outside of his prison. The look of his squad, the small space… he was being buried with Morena. Panic set in as he trashed against the coffin, trying to fight himself free. No one could hear him, they only buried him deeper and deeper. He didn’t care about living longer, he struggled against his own unforgivable choice. He fought to make the right decision that he should have made, the one his squad needed him to make. As the inevitable set in he knew nothing else to do as the air ran out around him, causing him to surge forward in an attempt to sit up.
I will never surrender, I will free the Earth and skies... N7 Loyalist

General_Malor's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 02:07 PM | #2
Chapter One: Introductions

Staff Sergeant Teran Malor woke from a nightmare, it was the same one he‘d been having for the last three months. He tried to shake it from his mind but it was stubborn, making him almost ignore that today was a special day. It was his favorite day; it was the day they would get assignments. The thrill of soon facing hostile forces and testing his mettle against foes was too alluring for him to linger on thoughts of his troubled dreams. No matter what this day would have to start, and sooner seemed better than later. He stood slowly, making even that basic movement into part of his morning exercises. What was once a basic regimen of calisthenics when he was a child was now a grueling test of his limits. Teran prided himself on being a man of extremes, of pushing himself in his search for achieving the perfect state of being befitting a warrior. His body strained and worked until his golden brown skin glistened with sweat, his heavily layered muscles working intensely and showing their religiously maintained status as he took full use of the floor beneath his bunk. His morning routine was an interval course that lasted only eighteen minutes, leaving him with far too much time to waste still. He looked at his disheveled reflection causing him to dedicate some time to cleaning himself up.

It was going to be a long day; usually he would hold off until he got his midmorning workout finished as well before hitting the showers. Once he got out of the shower he tussled his hair with his towel, trying to hasten its drying. He looked at his short cut silver hair and his dark brown eyebrows and stubble, feeling almost amused from the sight. His Echani influenced fair hair and light colored eyes were off set by his dark skin and facial hair, care of his Kiffar blood. Shaving away anything not neat, he dared something he hadn’t allowed himself in a long while. He looked himself in the eyes. He was still a young man, but somewhere along the way he felt like he picked up an extra year or two. Introspection would have to wait until later though; he had to far too much free time to waste any of it. He dressed himself in navy cargo pants and a polyfiber tight fitting shirt, also navy, the shirt bearing the symbol of the Republic on it, and a pair of standard issue boots. The ship he was on wasn’t overly large, but there was enough room for him to get a good run in to work his system.

After running through the halls for a time he paused near an empty room to get a view of the nebula out the window. Despite how much time he’d spent in space he was always humbled by the sight. The cloud of purple and orange seemed to carry some kind of beauty that Teran couldn’t pinpoint the meaning of, but it made him feel like there was something out there looking after everything. Fate, it seemed, should exist in some fashion, be it deity or chaos, at least to explain his failings. Being able to lay his trials and failures at the feet of something greater than him seemed like a comforting idea, and for that reason it couldn’t sit well with him. His burdens were his to carry, no god or entity would make him feel like there was a time for him to stop shouldering the load, because if nothing else in this life he had his own actions and consequences to harbor. The few mistakes he did make completed him, even though they still pained him, and the thought of being able to seek absolution through bargaining felt like a coward’s way out. His breathing calmed as he gazed at the cosmic vista, the ease on his system urged him to work harder to gain back its strain. He left the room at a mid-paced run, trying to speed away from his thinking brain in an attempt for a moment of quiet.

His run was working, as he thought less and simply acted more. He passed crew members who served on the ship, only occasionally bumping into someone from his outfit. Everyone he ran past though seemed to move from his path quickly. Standing a head well over most men and carrying as much muscle as a professional athlete made him quite the intimidating sight in the confines of a hall. Especially if he was moving fast and with certainty. He kept his mind quiet by pacing himself, counting his rhythm with a dancer’s eight count, ensuring proper posture and form at all times, and closely monitoring his breathing. The repetition of his focus left him drift away into a state of non-thinking though his mind remained active. Running always made him clearer, the instinctive ritual of it simplified things for him and allowed him to retreat into himself and view the world a moment at a time or give him freedom to have it pass by as though minutes were seconds.

Teran’s run began to slow as he heard something familiar. He heard the voice of one of his squad mates, a Zabrak about his own height with a slightly thinner build, but all, if not more, of his own strength. Zeek Trocon, the heavy weapons expert of Able Squad, had no hair but a crown of horns and ritual scarring on his face. His broad features made his already large build seem even more absolute. Zeek was something of a heartbreaker, finding someone to break the fraternization regs with most places they go. It seemed he was well on his way when Teran found him. Zeek lounged on a bench with a technician’s legs laid over his own as she shyly sat away from him. Zeek may dally with many women, but Teran knew that he cared about every one of them. Zeek never seemed interested in playing with their affections or using any of them, but forging something to remember. If he wasn’t so promiscuous Teran would dare say he was just a romantic, but as it was Zeek was placed somewhere between love-struck and horn-dog in Teran’s eyes.

“How do you find the day Zeek?” Teran asked as he walked up to their stolen moment, not feeling awkward for interrupting.

“I find it fine, Boss,” Zeek said, standing for a quick handshake and hug with his Sergeant. “I was just speaking of some of our more interesting adventures to the lovely miss here.”

“I hope the more sordid ones are safely off the table, those are a bit too risqué for such an hour,” Teran said as he shook the woman’s hand. “He’ll save those for a more agreeable setting later tonight I’m sure.”

The lady laughed, clearly infatuated with Zeek, but Teran picked up a hint of interest sent his way as well. He wasn’t sure what she’d heard, but Teran knew he had a reputation, some of it false and some of it earned. It would be left alone though; Zeek was too enamored with her for Teran to subvert her attention, even in a joking sense. Even now they returned to resting on one another as Teran stood near the doorway.

“Everything has its proper time and place, Boss,” Zeek said with a wide smile in his typical smooth baritone voice.

“Yes it does, just don’t be too late to the briefing today. Even though you have a fine distraction, you know the Colonel won’t accept it,” Teran said as turned toward the door. “He’ll make you PT until you collapse again.”

“A little strain is good for the system,” Zeek said with a playful glance at the woman. “See you later Boss.”

Teran left the pair and ran again, this time for well over a half hour and nearly two miles in the space of the ship. He wasn’t the only trying to stay fit while deployed; others trained as well, wherever the space was available. Moving in a ship took a life, eventually everyone knew the routine, how to step aside at just the right time, how keep moving past them. It was a good flux and give, making everyone feel connected. Teran was lost in his mind again to the point where he didn’t notice someone calling his name until he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Yo T, wait up bro,” the man said as they ran.

Teran knew him well enough to recognize his voice before seeing him. A man barely a few years younger than him named Jones Teleart, rank Private and Able teams’ infiltration specialist. He was at a glance an average man, but his physique was tightly built and woven muscles sat upon a wiry frame. His short dark brown, almost red, hair was cut into a high-and-tight while his face bore a thin goatee. Teran bumped his fist as they ran, Jones keeping pace along with him.

“So how long you been up T?” Jones asked him as they both looked forward.

“An hour or two, I couldn’t say for certain,” Teran said as they wound their way through the ship. “Only have a half-mile to go until I reach my six for the day.”

“Great, me and the ladies of Bravo were hoping we could get in a bit of sparring tonight, I’m going to ask the rest of Able if they’re available, but without you there it wouldn’t be much of a party,” Jones said as they moved in synchronization with one another.

“I think Zeek might have enough exercise on his plate for one night, but I’m open. Why not, we’ll run through some katas before we get into combat,” Teran said already planning a course for them all.

“Cool, you said you’d teach me the end of that Echani disarming kata, and I’m going to hold you to that,” Jones said with a bit of eagerness in his voice.

“Of course, anything I can do to help you all become better warriors is more than my honor and privilege,” Teran’s tone speaking to the respect he held for his martial training.

“Nice, it’s going to be in one of the port conference rooms, I’ll tell you if anything changes when I see you at the briefing,” Jones said as Teran came to a stop outside his room door, though Jones kept running. “Catch ya later, still have two-point-eight miles left.”

Teran stopped, thoroughly winded from his run, and feeling alive. His bad dreams seemed to be so long ago now, no longer bothering him to think about it. He knew he had to move past it, but he was his harshest critic and forgiving himself wasn’t something that came naturally to him. When he went back into the room he shared with four other people while hitching a ride on the dreadnaught they were on, he washed his face and got ready to head to the mess hall. He traded his now dirtied polyfiber shirt for another just like it as he tidied himself up in the sink. As he rubbed his wet hands over his face he looked at his reflection with a newly forming smile creeping on his lips. The water dripped down his face as he placed his hands on the sides of the sink’s basin. As he looked at his own face he started putting the pieces of his own private puzzle together, trying to make them fit. It had been well over a week since he’d heard new Intel about an investigation he was performing during his free time, leaving him little time for anything that was leisurely.

Suddenly a knock sounded at his door, shaking him from his contemplations. He wasn’t angered, but oddly happy to be reminded to stay in the moment. It was a puzzle he’d been trying to solve for the last three months, and even with everything he’d learned he still wasn’t any closer to solving it. It mattered little as with being assigned a new mission he couldn’t waste his focus on anything but his duty, even things that were most important to him had to be put aside. He slipped into his shirt, the tight fabric clinging to his musculature as he answered the door. He was greeted by the sight of a smiling woman whose looks could melt any man where he stood.

Her name was Jamie Bellana and she was Able Squad’s medic, though she was far more than a medic and far more trained than her rank of Corporal would allude to. She was a fully licensed and trained doctor and physician with a certification in surgery. She was older when she finally enlisted, inspired by the exploits of the newly formed Wraith Corps that she attended to with her father aboard the Crashing Ghost. In three years she graduated a grueling and trying boot camp and immediately transferred to Special Forces academy to be assigned to the Wraith Corps. She was intelligent, driven, and cunning to the point where Teran wasn’t sure anything that could make her back down or yield when she really put her mind to it. But the genius doctor and hardened Special Forces soldier weren’t who Teran noticed when he looked at her. He saw only a beautiful girl with a supernatural smile, almost radiant dirty blond hair, flawlessly tanned skin, and elegant features that belong to a holovid star. Far from what one would imagine when thinking of a frontline recon specialist.

“Sir, I was wondering if you would accompany to the mess hall,” Jamie said as she stood with a salute when he opened the door.

“What’s wrong Corporal, forget where it is?” Teran asked her as he leaned against the doorway.

“There’s strength in numbers, sir,” Jamie said with her arm still raised in a salute. “I just figured you’d need someone to ensure you chew enough and take small bites. You do require so much looking after… sir.”

She threw him a playful glance before they laughed lightly and she dropped the act. Though Teran was indeed her superior and leader he didn’t require that anyone from his fireteams, Able or Bravo, treat him like he was something special. Before he was their leader he was their comrade and brother, both in mentality and rank. And with Jamie being older than him by a few years she really liked to play up the command and respect angle to mock his rank over her years.

“You’re just in time, I was heading there myself. I feel like I could eat myself into a coma,” Teran said as he tied his boots, sitting in a chair opposite his bed.

“PT this morning?” Jamie asked him as she took a seat on his bunk.

“Yes I did, pushed myself a little more, finally hit another three week mark to increase intensity, resistance, and duration,” Teran said as he began tying his other boot.

“Don’t burn out, we have a mission coming up, you’re no use to anyone if you can’t get out of bed,” Jamie said as she leaned back on her elbows on his bed. “Or we could just stay in bed; call the whole war off…” Jamie said as she idly ran her hand against the fabric of his blankets.

“Very funny Corporal, like that’ll ever happen… the war ever ending… pfft,” Teran said as he found his black beret and placed its snug fit on his head. “Now will you get out of my bunk, and stop laying like that, people might think something is actually going on between us.”

“Can you imagine the rumors?” Jamie said as she stood. “I think there would be a lot of ’He’s taking advantage of her’ but no more than all the ’No wonder why Malor seems so exhausted and over worked lately’. But I’m not a fan of gossip, so let’s get some food before your young mind begins to wander to more base thoughts.”

“Yes, if I stay here any longer… my… brain won’t remember… how to say words… good… me need to have pretty woman… now…” Teran said with a mock devolutionary tone and gestures. “Really Jamie, the jokes about my age should come to an end… unless you wish me to bring up how much of an old lady you are, trying to prey upon poor helpless young lads like myself.”

“You can’t tease a woman about her age, we’re like fine wine, we just improve with time,” She said as she swaggered away from him with enough seductive hip motion to tremble a normal mans’ knees.

“Fitting metaphor,” Teran said walking up behind and gently placing his hand on her hips. “Given that you know I never drink.” Teran said as he moved her out of his way with a laugh, moving toward the mess hall.

Jamie wasn’t put off by his comment as their little flirtation was the norm for their interactions. It was a casual thing that started when Teran made a few playful comments years ago back when they first met. She was the one struggling to keep him alive, and he was the one hoping the woman seeing to him knew what she was doing, despite her apparent young age. She was trying to pull shrapnel out of his torso, little did she know that no one had time to give him any anesthetic or put him under, but it was only his willpower that kept him from moving while she worked. He gave her quite the scare when he thanked her as she cut the final stitch.

They ate in the mess hall, Teran’s mountain of food barely meeting his needs for nutrition. They sat in a corner and talked about anything but combat, and especially avoided anything to bring up thoughts of loss. With the war going as long as it had, even during the Treaty, people and loved ones were lost and each memory hurt freshly. Such memories would only mar their time together. Speaking with one another was one of the few times they were allowed themselves to think of life outside of the war. They talked as though their imaginative plans, homes, friends, lives, were real things and just as important as they should be. Teran’s nightmare was put even further from his mind from his time with Jamie. When they finally finished, Jamie had more PT to do, Teran found himself with still too much time to do nothing with. Goodbyes weren’t really said, more just statements of prior obligations and a parting of ways. They’d see each other soon enough anyway.

Teran knew that they had a short while until the briefing started and that showing up early might allow him to go over the plan even further. He walked with sore legs and a feeling of accomplishment. With his lifetime of training physical exercise had to be truly trying and difficult for him to feel sore anymore. The discomfort didn’t impede his stride at all as he moved through the halls. Teran reached the briefing room easily enough; looking about for the files he’d need to study. Sadly the Colonel hadn’t just placed sensitive information openly in an unwatched room. But he was in there earlier, the evidence was clear. The terminal in the center of the room, with rows of four seat aisles stacked to four rows aiming at it, sat with an idle hum that denoted its recent usage. Teran walked over and tried to find a way to extract the recently viewed files and programs. Teran typed away and tried to throw commands at it but it wouldn’t budge. He wasn’t a tech expert by any means, but it was worth a shot anyway.

Just as he was about to retake his seat he heard someone walking up. He listened closely and could tell that the person was speaking, but too quietly to be to someone else, and too quickly to be completely focused. Teran had a hunch and was proved correct when in walked Krager Brek, rank Corporal and Able Squad’s tech, mechanical, and explosives expert. Krager had fair skin, a thin face with large eyes, a small nose and a wide but thin mouth. His hair was a dyed color bright blue. He stood shorter than Teran, but no smaller than Jones. In fact he was more muscled and bulky than Jones by a fair amount, but less defined as well.

“But if the coupling goes bad, then route back to the main drive… no, no, no… wouldn’t work, redundant protocols would engage… lockout… okay, start over,” Krager said to himself as he worked a stylus over a datapad quickly. “Okay, shut down reactor core, engage safety protocols then quickly disable and override them… and then… Hey Sarge.”

“Afternoon Krager, how are the training programs coming?” Teran asked him knowing that Krager wasn’t going through training, but designing training programs for new pilots to the Corps.

“Fine, just designing some commonly encountered walls and stalls, things that they’ll need to know how to override if they sustain damage in combat… it’s been pretty fun actually,” Krager said as he looked up from his datapad. “How’s the hand?” Krager asked him as a joke.

Krager may be a genius when it comes to tech and droids, even bombs, but people skills are not among his gifts. One day while sparring back when Krager was new to the Corps he took a fight too seriously with another recruit who kept hitting below the belt. Krager was far more skilled than the man though, so he quickly took him down once he lost his temper. But Teran didn’t see the low strikes from the other man; he just witnessed a skilled hand-to-hand combatant take down one of the new recruits. When he asked Krager what was going on, Krager said something rude about Teran’s mother, family tree and home world all in under twenty words and managed to completely insult him. Teran wound back a hard right straight that launched Krager off his feet. After Teran helped the other man up, Krager stood again, turning Teran with a pull to face him and hit him as hard as he could with a left hook.

The blow didn’t knock Teran off balance but it did pause him for a moment, which was saying something. After they situation cooled down Krager sought out Teran to talk about what happened. Once he knew the whole ordeal Teran felt bad about stepping in, but Krager said it was a wash for what he said to him and apologized profusely for it. After a trading of compliments about how hard the other could hit and take a hit they came to an understanding of sorts. Teran fractured a knuckle on Kragers’ jaw and Terans’ jaw was bruised up for well over a week from Kragers’ left.

“Not too bad, would you like to see?” Teran asked to tease him, for which Krager laughed about.

“I think once was good enough, so raincheck. Were you trying to access the terminal when I walked in?” Krager asked him as he idled back to his datapad.

“Yes, do you think you can see if the Colonel left anything we can study before he gets here,” Teran asked him moving from the terminal to let Krager work on it. “I’ll warn you though; it was quite stuck when I tried to…”

“Done, you’re in,” Krager said as he sliced into the system with as little effort as most people use to open a wrapped snack. “Anything specific you want Sarge?”

“Anything we should find interesting about this mission?” Teran asked with a smile as he sat back in his seat.

“One moment,” Krager said as he examined the files as though he were a high-end processor himself. The files didn’t hold much information at first but upon finding a specific file and its description Krager stopped. “We… might want to wait for the Colonel for this.”

Krager sat back in his seat after he locked the terminal, keeping Teran from prying. He wasn’t about to go asking questions, if Krager said it could wait, then it could wait. Trusting a man to execute a plan of action while your life is in his hands made the trust extend beyond the battlefield. Teran sat with his feet on the chair in front of him, his arms holding his head as he leaned it back and closed his eyes. Slowly the rest of Able squad showed up earlier than expected, each taking their seats with little talk between them. Zeek took up a seat next to Krager, making Krager put down his datapad to speak with his old friend. Zeek and Krager arrived at the same time in the Corps, and before that they had stories that took them all the way back to boot camp. They made a good duo, their teamwork with one another so practiced and established that in tandem they were able to carry the work load of four.

Jamie and Jones sat close to Teran, Jamie preoccupied with a medical journal, Jones rested his head on the back of the chair in front of him. His arms folded for support, his eyes fighting for a bit of rest. Teran knew the feeling well and patted his friend on the shoulder twice, earning a low grunt understanding from Jones. Bravo team wasn’t far behind Able, arriving only moments after them. Bravo Squad, the second fireteam under Teran’s command was comprised wholly of women. Not out of planning, it just fell together as such. Their leader, a green skinned Twi’lek named Genevive O’on, rank Sergeant, wasn’t overly tall but curvy and strongly built. Her physique was the most muscular of Bravo but she still moved with the natural grace some women inherently have. Her second in command was a dark skinned human of small stature and wiry frame, rank Corporal, named Carmen Viqs. Her hair was kept short in a high-and-tight and her face was serious yet girlish.

Followed closely behind was Bravo’s artillery team, a Mirialan taller than her compatriots but less curvy as well, named La‘Ney Freggs, rank Private. Her face had the geometric markings of her people, and her features were soft as if she hadn’t seen years of war. The other woman was and human named Jolene Mari’que, rank Private as well, average in build and appearance, her most notable feature was her facial scar that ran from beneath her left eye to her jaw. Her skin was fair, and her hair was a straight light blonde that was kept wrapped in a bun. For her grim marking she looked happy and bubbly still. The next three in were all ranked Specialist. The most intimidating was unsurprisingly a Zabrak woman almost as tall as La’ney but far more filled out in frame, named Qiri Cattab, her hair was braided behind her horns but some hung loose and her facial scars weren’t as serious looking as Zeek’s. The next to walk in was a human named Madeline Kilk, her skin was darker than Mari’Que but not as dark as Carmen’s, and she was the most beautiful of her squad. Her features statuesque and symmetrical, her body proportioned to perfectly fit her frame, his musculature showed that she was fit, but wasn’t overly defined or built. The last Specialist in was another Twi’lek named Nasuana Provin, this one with blue skin and decorated lekku, and a body short and solid. The grace of her people was not lost on her, she seemingly gliding into the room as she strut through the space. Her face as composed of almond shaped eyes, full lips, and a narrow nose, with a smooth pointed jaw line and chin. She could give Madeline a go in terms of pure physical attraction on a good day, but she wasn’t quite there.

The last woman in was a human with clear cybernetic enhancements, named Katrina Marhn, rank Corporal. She didn’t look marred by her cybernetics, as it was clear they were voluntary. All the noticeable pieces on her face could easily be removed should she wish to go without them. Her light golden skin and exotic features fit her well, but didn’t seem to be compatible with the strongly built frame she worked so hard to acquire. She was highly defined with more muscle than average, but in a way it complemented her, possibly because of how well she commanded it. Bravo Squad spread out through the room, taking seats where they wished. Teran found himself thinking of his mother’s people, the Echani, and the famed female warriors they nurture. If there was one thing he’d learned it’s that nothing matters about a person, except how hard they can fight, and Bravo Squad was full of women who could give the Echani Battle Mistresses a run for their money. Plus if he was going to have to spend his time looking at troops, they might as well be such a pleasing sight.

They sat for minutes with light talk amongst themselves, speculation mostly as to what their new Op would be. Teran talked with Genevive, who he just referred to as Gene, for a time to discuss the possible roles both fireteams might have to play. Their conversation was interrupted when Madeline spoke up.

“So Malor, are you going to spar with us later, we could really use the assistance,” Madeline said from her seat in the back row.

“Agreed, our hand-to-hand trainer wasn’t as… experienced as you, so your aid would be appreciated,” Qiri said from the row behind Teran.

“I’ll see to it, and I’ll get the rest of Able involved too, we need to strive to become better everyday,” Teran said addressing the room as a whole.

“We know,” Zeek said from his seat with Krager. “There is no such thing as your best, only a day when you get a little better.”

“And that when you stop working to surpass yourself is when the person who’s been waiting to kill you gets their shot,” Gene said loud enough for the room to hear.

Able and Bravo Squad knew well Teran’s views on training and how it should be approached. Teran knew he’d never reach his best, it’s why he insisted on working so hard to get better every day. There was no endgame for him, no day when he’d be fit enough to ease up, only room for improvement. Honestly though his room for improvement was growing smaller every month. When he was put in charge of the fireteams of Able and Bravo he made them understand in no uncertain terms that they would have to work as hard as he did, as often as he did. And their efforts bore fruit when in the year and a half that Teran took over they never suffered a casualty. In all that time they only ever lost one person, who is confirmed MIA and not KIA. The drive he supported in them was already there, but he just tended the fires to temper it into something greater than they thought possible. Their teamwork, abilities, and loose attitudes gained them the collective moniker The Wild Bunch. They weren’t out of control or unpredictable, but the ferocity of their offensives and the family like atmosphere they had spurred the rest of the Wraith Corps to title them thusly.

The room that was filled with such dull clamor of friends talking in familiar tones was brought to a calm silence as the Colonel walked into the room. He was a man of tropical skin, age lines barely noticeable on his visage, and peppered hair. He was tall, but not the tallest man in the room, he was strongly built, but built for speed instead of brawn. His combat boots hit the ground with an authoritative step that seemed to claim the ground as if it were conquered unquestioningly with every pace. His face was set in an introspective expression that gave him a bearing more becoming of a philosopher or a politician who stood accountable and didn’t squander his station. The man stood behind the podium in the center of the room, to which all seats were aimed, and paused for a moment as he looked over his datapad. The entire Wild Bunch sat quietly, waiting patiently for him to start his briefing. They might have had issues with authority in the past, but that all changed when the Colonel took them in. He commanded their respect. He demanded their respect. But most importantly in their eyes, and the eyes of all who served under him, he earned their respect.

“The city of Marnon, on Vikio Prime, has been under siege for the past nine months, as it is firmly within contested territory not properly defined by the Treaty. The Empire has set up an airfield, and they have regular support and reinforcements. But as of late they have been hard pressed to keep it manned to full power. This is far from an oversight on their part though,” The Colonel said as he brought up a larger hologram of the city, red dots blinking to show hostiles, green for Republic friendly. The green dots were barely noticeable. “The opposition they met early on has since faltered as Republic aid has withdrawn since the signing of the Treaty. They are not cleared to operate directly to bolster their allies, that’s why we exist ladies and gentlemen.”

“How much support would we have on the ground, Sir?” Genevive asked as she studied the image.

“The local military and police forces have devolved into a militia since the collapse of their government. The locals don’t have much in the way of firepower or manpower. In a city of roughly three million, there are as of the last estimate nearly five-hundred thousand active rebels. Of that number we deduced that only a third of them are trained for combat and outfitted well enough to be considered actual aid.,” The Colonel told her as by now he had memorized the statistics.

“With such a low static force the locals must know that it’s only a slow fall until the Empire keeps sending fresh troops and armor to wear them down. Morale has to be low by now,” Jones said as he looked over the file that had come up on his datapad.

“Not low, deteriorating swiftly under the heel of the Empire,” The Colonel told them as he brought up recon photos of the situation on the ground. Horrific scenes of death and slaughter were brought to life before them. “With the Republic unable to aid them, it won’t be long until they either submit to the Empire or renounce both and we lose yet another ally that we cannot afford to break from. We need to solidify their faith in the Republic, we need to help our countrymen.”

“What’s our target?” Teran asked as he listened closely.

“Imperial command is consolidated in one building, on the outskirts of the city. It has low vegetation, but it sits in the old industrial district of the city which means plenty of dilapidated buildings to weave through. Plenty of room to lose Imp tails and set up ambushes. They have the air controlled tightly, so we’ll be using darts to get in you,” The Colonel said as he brought up the industrial district of the city on the hologram. A basic animation showing the rough idea of what their deployment and LZ would look like playing out before them on a short loop. “You’ll be dropped in ten miles out and fly into the city under their radar, finally jumping from your darts when you are three miles from the hostile HQ. Then advance on foot through hostile controlled territory. When you reach their complex you’ll infiltrate, assassinate all Imperial officers within, set charges, extract any valuable Intel and then when clear you blow the building.”

“How many targets do we have?” Zeek asked the Colonel as he began planning.

“Four, they’ve been heading the siege of the city since the start. Taking them out would bolster morale on the ground, and hopefully win us some favor that we lost,” the Colonel said as he leaned on the podium with his arms under him like pillars.

“After we’ve confirmed the death of these four how clear should we be of the building? The detonation is a signal yes?” Madeline spoke up from her seat in the back.

“Correct, once their command center is down their anti-air capabilities will be disabled for nearly a full day. Local flyboys and our own pilots will then hit all AA placements, as well as bombing runs on armor, fortifications, and the area surrounding the command center,” The Colonel told her as he flicked his hologram to each estimated target.

“Sounds good, will Able be taking point on this, Sir?” Teran asked, hoping that his team would get to see action.

“Yes… Able will be leading the assault, Bravo will be creating a diversion by using hit and run tactics on their front lines, disabling their armor primarily. If things work out both of you will get your jobs down, crippling any resistance they could mount against either team,” The Colonel told him with controlled sentences as though he was trying to avoid something. “There’s something else you need to know about this. The Intel we’ve received didn’t come from any Republic agents or sympathizers or loyalists. The Intel came over a secure channel that only people in Wraith command know about. We would have considered this a breach of security, but the message that corresponded with the file transfer checked out. It’s a message I think you should all see.”

The Colonel accessed the file that held the message and brought a dirty and blurry image to life before them. At first only the sounds of blaster fire could be heard as an alarm somewhere in the holo sounded its whining call in the din of the audio. A woman stood before them now, her hair obscuring her face. She typed frantically at the keyboard of the terminal she used. She barked orders to someone off screen as she worked. The noise of blaster fire grew louder as she worked, solely focused on the screen before her. She was a human, her features looked as though they had seen better days. Her hair looked dried and damaged from lack of proper cleaning. Her features carried a sense that they were sickly, insinuating an undeniable beauty normally. Her hands looked dry and thin, her fingers cracked near the tips from lack of care or medical treatment. Her image was washed out to a pale blue of holograms, but looking at her Teran knew her hair was blaze red and her skin was perfectly sun kissed. The woman finally stopped to look into the camera that captured her, her eyes looked bruised and tired. A fire inside of them burned though, it was the flame of unyielding resolve.

“Wraith command, this is Valkyrie, accessing the Wraith-Whisper network from an unsecured terminal in the Imperial command center in the city Marmon on Vikio Prime. Heavy Imperial forces, being held captive, they keep moving me. I’ve ensured that upon receiving this message enough red flags would arise that it would not compromise security. By the time you’ve heard this it should have been taken apart and scanned well over twenty times, and if Brat is still any good at what he does, the Empire will still have no idea how to crack the code,” She said to the camera as screams of death could now be heard as blasters drew closer still. “Listen, time is low and this city needs aid… in the files transferred you’ll know all there is to know about the situation down here.”

As she spoke the Wild Bunch didn’t move, or speak, nor gasp. They just watched in silence as the closest thing they’d ever come to seeing a ghost spoke to them. The message played on.

“I’m doing what I can to subvert their efforts, but they’re getting better at restraining me. I can’t keep breaking out. Do what you have to, just get here soon. I’m counting on all of you,” She said with a faint smile as the men closest to her screamed as they died a violent death, but she just looked at the camera.

“Watcher… find me.”

And with that the message stopped.

The room was prepped to explode with the unsettling silence that bloated it. Teran just looked on, stunned into stillness. The rest of the Wild Bunch noticed her as well, she was their sole fallen comrade. She was Morena Teleart, callsign Valkyrie, and she was the Wild Bunch’s commander, though Teran was the squad leader. Her rank was lieutenant but she chose the Wild Bunch as her personal strike team to oversee, utilizing their smaller size for precision strikes. She was courageous, respectable, passionate, intelligent, and a fine commander. But to Teran she was a reminder of failure, a reminder that though he swore to protect her he couldn’t. She was his missing love and the only person he ever let down.

“Huh… that’s interesting,” Teran said as he looked to the hologram, purely shocked.

“Morena?” Jones said as he looked with his jaw hanging loose as he looked to the Colonel. “Colonel, is this authentic?”

“Yes Jones, we’ve checked again and again, and it comes up clean every time. She’s alive, for the moment. This message was received last night, which dates it at twelve hours old. The planet they talk on sits on the border of contested space, closer to the Empire, but we can get there in two days at hard burn.”

“Good, we should try to lend aid as soon as possible,” Teran said with a thoughtful furrow to his brow.

“Don’t try to fool yourself or me, Teran,” The Colonel told him in a direct tone. “Can you handle this? I know there has to be a lot going on inside your mind right now, but I need to know that if I send you on this Op you won’t be a liability. Can I trust you on this?”

Teran though for a moment, honestly looking over his state of mind, trying to search for anything that might creep up. He pondered for a moment and decided that it would be worse if he stayed behind, even though he wasn’t sure what he would do if he found Morena again. How he might react, if he would be stable, if he could stay focused. The curtness of the Colonel’s query made him truly examine himself, and the use of his first name stirred memories of home.

“I can handle it sir,” Teran said as he locked his eyes on the Colonel. “Locate the and remove the targets, plant charges, extract intel, locate and extract Lieutenant Teleart, get clear, blow the building, and await further orders. I’ll see the mission through Colonel, don’t doubt that.”

“Good enough for me,” The Colonel said as he looked out to the group. “With Morena now part of the equation it makes the Op personal, but I expect you all to remain professionals and complete your tasks. Stay focused out there. Dismissed.”
I will never surrender, I will free the Earth and skies... N7 Loyalist

General_Malor's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 02:11 PM | #3
Chapter Two: Beginning Descent

The two day trip aboard the dreadnaught “Iziz”, named after the capitol of a Republic ally, went quickly. Teran instructed Able and Bravo squad through their sparring but remained disjointed through the events. He was pondering the implications of Morena’s abrupt surfacing after three months of being moved through Imperial prisons and detention camps. He could imagine the amount of difficulties she gave her captors, offering him some small piece of joy. Happiness hadn’t been abundant when thinking of Morena since she was taken, though now knowing she was alive let him finally ease some of his burden. There was still time, still opportunity, to resolve his failure and save his lost commander. Teran had been up for an hour, sitting in his room looking over a photo he had of her. It was taken a few weeks before her abduction, and in it she looked vibrant and alive. Her face was dirtied from battle, her armor stained with gore, but she wore the largest smile as she stood next to Able Squad. They stood in a line together, a private from the Wraith Corps had taken the picture, all of them still in full armor. Behind them a city burned and broke under the two month long offensive the Wraith Corps had assisted, the local forces stagnant until their arrival.

For them all it marked a special occasion. It was their fiftieth mission together, thus a streak of fifty completed missions had been reached. They were clearly elated with their triumph and connected to one another as only a family can be. Teran looked over Morena as he had time and time again. Her burning crimson hair, her beautifully tanned skin, the way her smile could confine a moment in time and define it better than words or song. Time it seems has a way of always eluding a person when they most want it, only to arrive when they truly need it. But it was also true that it stood to remind people of when they are needed, as Teran was needed now. He stood and completed a quick warm up exercise, not pushing himself too greatly, only ensuring physical preparation. When on a mission he was needed to stay at his best, and he couldn’t do that if he was too exhausted to meet his own battlefield standards. He dressed as he usually did when not on duty and made his way to the armory. The logistics of the battle had been planned out in the previous two days, everyone aware of their mission and role. Teran had little to think about in ways of variations and unforeseeable events as he’d spent every free moment trying to distract himself from his wandering mind. Secondary plans, backup plans, contingencies, all of them were meticulously thought out as Teran fought to stay professional.

Lives depended on his focus and state of mind, he couldn’t afford distraction and wayward attention. He was needed to be in the moment and aware of all the happenings around him when they got boots on the ground. He had to admit to himself that this was a great distraction though, making him fight harder against it. If this was to test his abilities as a warrior then he would pass it, as he passed every other test. Steadfast resolve and control were paramount to his life as a soldier and leader, and they were qualities of his upon which he rested great pride. And control could be exerted over emotions, which his instinctual reaction was; an emotion. Letting it rule him instead was not only a failure as a soldier but as a person of integrity. So much could be discerned from Teran as a person from how he handled his next task, and he was wholly aware of it. The more he thought on his responsibilities the greater his resolve became. Teran knew fully well that he was not a great man owe completely to his own character, but because greatness was required of him. Because things apart from himself demanded he be such. A man with nothing to lose has just that, himself and a death wish, and though he may be dangerous it is a messy sort of dangerous. But a man with everything he cares about at risk was a force on par with nature. When a man had something to fight for, something he truly believed in, he surpassed what was thought possible both in actions and abilities for normal men. He could be calculating, thorough, and absolutely precise. Such a drive was now Teran’s to command.

Teran arrived in the armory before anyone else had, giving him a seldom found privacy in a place so occupied. He was still ahead of the mission timeline, taking time to get a shower before deployment. The warm water ran over his naked body as he washed away the sweat from his morning workout. The workout itself wasn’t trying, but it still managed to get him sweating. If there was one thing Teran had learned in his lifetime of training was that hygiene was not to go ignored. A number of issues that can arise on long deployments or marches could be avoided with proper maintenance and care. Though this Op wasn’t projected to go past a week after the Wild Bunch’s assault, it didn’t hurt to ensure being as clean as possible before getting boots on the ground. After all a number of things could occur to keep them all on the ground for the whole mission. As he stood under the shower head in the middle of the row he didn’t notice the rest of Able similarly shower before the mission. It wasn’t a moment later that Bravo took up the row of showers on the opposing wall. They did as Teran did, knowing that he had a fair bit of experience at preparation. Whether or not they were aware of their parroting of his behavior was unclear to him.

Teran joined the light conversation among his fireteams as he finished his shower. The rowdy talk and jokes among them brought a much needed smile to his face as he grabbed his towel. He walked to his locker with his towel drying out his hair, leaving a trail of water from him back to the showers. Teran looked over the body-glove that sat in his locker. It was an armor-weaved fabric designed to be vacuum safe, and provide heat insulation against blaster fire. The fabric wasn’t as smooth looking as his polyfiber shirt, the exterior looking a bit more textured, but it fit far better and more comfortable. He didn’t wear anything under the body-glove, its design needed direct contact for comfort. Teran flexed and moved in it, getting accustomed to the slightly pressurized grip it held him in. His locker held his earpiece, implant, and cybernetic contact lenses. His ear piece actually worked to block out sound over a high enough decibel level so his hearing wouldn’t get damaged on a battlefield, and keep him in contact with his team should he lose his helmet. Teran looked at the tiny implant in his hands, almost pondering the device for a moment before inserting it on the back right side of his neck. As it came to life Teran could feel his body start to work at a familiar pace. His heart rate was elevated a half step above a normal person’s, his awareness seemed so keen now, and his body felt as though it moved with no effort on his part what so ever.

He looked down at the contacts, quickly taking them and placing them on his eyes. Once on they provided a sort of vision enhancement, brightening dark areas and leveling out sources of light so as to remove possible image burning. They also gave his silver eyes a swirled green appearance. He closed his locker, his other clothes sealed inside. The locker room they borrowed had an adjoining armory, which they also borrowed for the duration of their trip. Teran walked into the armory and found his armor sitting at the head of the line. The Quartermaster was busy with repairs and modifications to another set when Teran walked in, but still offered a respective nod when their eyes met. Teran opened the casing and withdrew his armor, piece by piece. He started with a pair of nearly black canvas pants, tightening the belt just enough to support the armor soon to adorn them. Before he pieced the armor on to his slacks, he put on his armored combat boots, tying them tightly to their mid-calf height. With his boots secure he placed light armor pieces around his thighs, the pieces allowing for full range of motion at the sacrifice of proper protection higher in his inner thigh. His shin guards wrapped around his calf, but left the spot behind his knee open. He stood with his armor half way complete, looking to equip his torso now.

Before he armored his torso he slid into a nearly black canvas long sleeve shirt, matching his pants. Once his shirt was tucked in he grabbed his body armor and it‘s segmented appearance, the numerous plates also for the enhancement and function of easing movement. He locked the pieces on to the body-glove’s hardpoints, along with the physical straps and harnesses. It gave his clothes plenty of leeway while keeping the armor where it was supposed to be. The final pieces quickly came into their place. His pauldrons though small offered enough protection. His wrist guards had fingerless armored gloves attached, giving Teran one hell of a straight if he wished to get that close. Teran paused as the full set of body armor came to life while on him. The implant in his head, the micro-servos in the body-glove, the heat distribution systems in the armor plates, all of them coming to life to enhance Teran. With his armor in place Teran began equipping all of the harnesses and packs he would need. His hip holsters for his twin heavy blasters, which connected to a basic equipment belt. With everything he had already he would have much chagrin if he left out his armored rucksack, full of a wide though basic array of things from first aid kits to extra ammo, it even held a small armor and blaster repair kit, should he need it on long deployments.

Teran looked at his reflection in one of the glass cases, making sure everything was in place. The only thing left was his helmet and weapons. From the case he withdrew his helmet, it’s T-shaped visor giving no reflection to him as he gazed into its lens. The helmet, like all his armor, was designed for speed and minimal bulk. It seemed to fit the angle of his face snugly when it was worn, giving it less of a round shape but almost oval if you looked at it from above. He took up his helmet under his left arm as he walked through the armory, to where the Quartermaster kept the weapons. He set his helmet down on the counter before him, waiting for the man to finish his task before bothering him. The Quartermaster was always a nice fellow, and more than an expert in his field. Like many in the Corps his talents verged on the genius level. He made sure that the men and women of the Corps had the finest weapons he could enhance, even if their service rifles were far from extraordinary. Despite his great skill Teran still insisted the man refrain from tinkering with his blasters. It was a matter of personal and cultural belief that no one but himself maintain his weapon. It was part of his traditions that he was taught from his father, who learned from his father before him, and so on until their beginning.

Hearing the metal of the helmet hit the counter stirred the man from his work. He looked up to Teran with a well worn smile and went into the back immediately. He navigated the seemingly haphazard row of cabinets and worktables with little to no attention to what was before him. The temporary set up didn’t seem to cause him any undue stress or worry, having clearly claimed the room completely. The man hurried back with an attaché case one hand, a rolling cabinet being pulled in the other. He left the cabinet behind him in the doorway to the back room, while he placed the case on the counter. The man left it alone, leaving Teran with his weapons as he went back to his work. Teran opened the case to be greeted by the site of his weapons. The twin pair of heavy blasters, his rifle, and sub-repeater all sitting in the same state he left them. He holstered his blasters and clipped them into place, stowed his sub-repeater horizontally beneath his rucksack, and slung his rifle around his back. He looked at the man and give him an appreciative nod before taking up his helmet and walking back through the armory. He noticed that a few people were close to finished with getting their armor on, while others were still trying to get dried off to put on their body-gloves. Teran waited near the door to their locker room for everyone to be ready. They were already an hour and a half ahead of schedule, giving Teran plenty of time to relax as much as he could. Once more though he went over mission Intel, variables, and contingencies.

“Hey Malor, how many Wraiths do we have on this ship?” Madeline asked him as she dried her skin.

Teran looked over to her as she ran the towel against her smooth skin, taking in the sight with barely held control. Her naked form went beyond pleasing to behold, and though he was her superior officer Teran was still very much a man. He looked her over for a moment, pausing in his response. She slipped into her body-glove, zipping it shut quickly. With her body concealed once more Teran looked at her face to find her with an amused smile just before she quickly stuck her tongue out at him.

“Out of Only Battalion, we have over one hundred. Ten percent are non-combatants, drop-pilots and the like, twenty are Intel operatives so no direct action for them, and five percent are administrative. Leaves us with nearly seventy or so combatants and fire support,” Teran said with a faint smile as he answered her question.

“So we drop in, instigate some chaos, reorganize the locals into a cohesive force, boost morale, and re-supply them, so they can take it from there,” Zeek said as he walked out of the armory, fully equipped like Teran. “SOP for contested planets.”

“Exactly. If our forces are going to engage hostiles it is going to be on a purely hit-and-run basis. We’re not here to hold the line this time, we’re here to be damn bloody mascots and lead a pep-rally of explosions. If we have to stay near this planet, it won’t be for more than a week. And of that week we’ll probably be resting from this Op, and maybe gearing up for a follow up offensive, nothing to worry about really,” Teran said as he thought about the mission details he dedicated to memory.

Over the next twenty minutes everyone was dressed and outfitted similar to Teran. Their armor all black as well, with differing accents or patterns. Some went for a digital camouflage pattern, others went with basic stripes that meant something. But Teran’s armor was a straight, plain black. The dark grey canvas shirt and pants under his armor gave him a very grim look to his already dark armor. They stood in two lines before Teran and the doorway, all of them holding their helmets. They knew that once they viewed the world through a visor that’s when it was time to change, that’s when it was time to kill. They left that part of them where it lay asleep in their psyches, not wanting to feel the urge for bloodshed while on the ship. Teran looked to the group and with a grunt they all knew it was time to move. None of them needed an extra moment, having known to be prepared as soon as possible. Teran turned to leave, all of them close on his heel as he marched through the middle of the halls. He didn’t actually march, but it was a pace too slow to be deemed a charge. The twelve heavily armed people behind him didn’t lessen the intimidation factor as he walked. The men and women on the ship knew to not be afraid, but their reputation had an air of infamy and danger, giving way for all sorts of exaggerations. If anything most of the people they passed were simply in awe of them. Knowing that the elite of Special Forces were walking among them was a thrill for the enlisted men and women. More than a few times Teran caught looks from the crew, it was a gaze of someone who wanted something. Teran knew that they wanted to be counted among their ranks, to wear the uniform and armor of a Wraith.

Ambition itself wasn’t a bad thing, but he hoped none of them requested a transfer only to face disappointment. Of all the applicants to the Wraith Corps only ten percent of the submissions are actually accepted, of that ten percent only half will make it through the first four weeks of training, and of that number only ten percent will make it to graduation day. The Wraith Corps preferred to recruit rather than review potential Wraiths, looking at their candidates with a critical and uncompromised eye. Too many people had a misconception of the Wraith Corps. They heard stories of a complete lack of restraint, no chain of command to follow, and absolutely no fraternization regulations. All of which were untrue to the rumor fueled degree they were gossiped about. The truth of the matter is far less scandalous than that. The Wraith Corps recruited people who showed remarkable skill and discomfort with the standard codes of conduct. Men and women of such skill and ability are seldom content with the humdrum of military life, so the Colonel gave them a place to stretch and be less contained. It wasn’t as if they had free reign to do as they like with no oversight, it was just a bit more space to pursue whatever it was that they needed to be at their best. As for the chain of command, it was firmly in tact, to a point. Once an order went to the Colonel that’s where it ended, as he is the head of the whole operation. The fraternization regulations were an interesting topic though, because while everyone is to behave in a manner befitting of a Wraith, some business was understood to be personal.

As they walked Krager fidgeted behind him in the line. His twitch happened every three seconds, and every five he ran his hand against the bare skin at the base of his skull.

“Leave it alone Krager,” Teran told him as they moved through the ship.

“Gah… I can’t Sarge, its itching. This time I swear something went wrong,” Krager said as he toyed with the implant in his neck.

“Every time. Really Krager, you think you’d be accustomed to it by now. Implants were made to regulate your system, make it function at above-average levels, and most importantly; give you an edge so you can stay alive,” Jamie said as she looked at the back of his neck to amuse him.

“I don’t care how many times I have to use them, I ain’t gonna like ‘em,” Krager said as he forced himself to stop rubbing the dock for the implant. “ People shouldn’t be getting things stuck in them like they’re droids.”

“You got a problem with Cyborgs, Krager?” Katrina asked him with a slow sarcastic taunting.

“Not really, I mean if they’d a told me that I could build a woman like you I’d ‘a done it years ago,” Krager joked back to his Cyborg friend. “You know I don’t like implants Kat, that’s all I mean.”

“That’s not offensive at all,” Katrina said as she walked near the back of the line. “You just inferred that I came from a krakin’ production line. That’s fine. Not hurtful or anything.”

Krager looked back to try to apologize, not knowing she was teasing him, but Jamie pushed him to keep his eyes forward. After a while, a bit of light laughter from some of the Bunch, Krager caught on to the joke. He looked forward with a sour expression for a few moments, but let it go soon enough. People giving him some grief because of his blunt and often aggravating social behavior wasn’t new to him. It didn’t mean he liked it at all, but he’d had plenty of time learning how to let it go and move past it. Teran was almost distracted by the brief conversations that his teams were having, almost. Being a leader didn’t allow him to be completely free and in the moment, now like he used to be. But being a leader meant that at the end of the day every decision was his, and something he’d have to live with. His time following Morena was difficult for him, every time he had to watch her bare the brunt of a bad call or a shear stupid blind luck working to tear apart her strategies and waste the lives of the men and women she commanded hurt Teran just as much as it did her. He couldn’t stand not being the one who all others depended on. It was admittedly equal parts heroism and ego that drove him to feel that guilt.

The Wild Bunch strode into the hangar all together, catching the crew of their drop-ship in their final stages of preparations. They walked up to the downed ramp of the vessel and took in its appearance. It looked like a triangle with less intense angles, and two large engine turbines on the mid right and left back end. The ship wasn’t very thick, just having enough room inside for a crew to move easily enough without compromising storage and ordnance space. The real feature was that concealed on it’s undercarriage were numerous hatches that opened to expose a launch tube for a small craft known throughout the Wraith Corps as a “dart”. The darts weren’t much, in fact upon a glance you might just think them to be missiles, albeit large ones truly. They in fact were designed to be fast drop/quick deploy means for shock troopers of the Wraith Corps. Sporting a flat bottom and limited wingspan from the collapsing wings they were seemingly too small for men and women to fit into, but this was not the case. Each member of the Wild Bunch could fit into their dart, with their weapons, potential extra provisions and still have room to move.

The darts themselves were an intense experience, even for hardened soldiers. The whole trip from drop-ship to planet’s surface happened while skimming the surface of the atmosphere of the planet, meaning turbulence abound for any passengers. The added inertia gave eased them into their breakneck speeds. From their they would begin accelerating to the surface, increasing velocity considerably. Limited maneuvering capabilities weren’t an issue if anti-air placements or countermeasures were functional, given that at their speeds they would pass right through all modern scanning tech appearing as nothing more than a system hiccup. Once a height of five hundred feet was reached leveling the vehicle was of lethal importance. And no easy feat. Breaking systems and counter-inertia fields were activated for that brief three second period, giving the operator a miniscule window to wrench on the flight-stick and level the craft. Granted the operator levels their craft next up is a slow down to no more than twenty miles per hour over the course of a mile. Once the mile mark was reached the operator was ejected from a standard height of fifteen feet. Normally this could result in moderate to severe injury in the person, but the shock armor Wraiths were required to wear were built for that very occurrence. The armored suits that the Wild Bunch wore were all powered to a certain degree, but not enough to throw them into the realm of the superhuman but firmly within the capabilities of inhuman. The whole trip made for quite the sight, meaning it was a perfect lunatic scheme for shock operations. But more so the quick nature meant small windows where being spotted was possible. The setting determined the outcome, as did the LZ they decided upon. For this infiltration mission they would be opting for low visibility.

“Great to see you, Staff Sergeant,” the pilot said to Teran as they walked closer to the ship.

She studiously looked over his datapad, ensuring her check list was finalized for the fourth time since they started their preparations. The four-man crew consisted of a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and systems analyst. The three men aside from the pilot also doubled as support gunners, should they encounter hostile fire.

“Nice to see you too, Boomer,” Teran said to her as they closed in. “It’s good to know that you’ll be our aerial support on this, I like having the best with me.”

“I’m not the best kid, I’m a legend, remember?” She joked with him, laying the sarcasm on thick when she spoke of her reputation.

“But of course,” Teran said with a slight inclination of his head to her. “Are we ready to go?”

“We were ready to go an hour ago, now we’re just waiting on you,” she said, putting away her datapad.

“Good. Load up,” Teran told his teams.

Though their recon and infiltration armor was smaller and lighter than their shock armor it still added considerable bulk to them. When most of the bunch ascended the loading ramp to the interior of the ship the creaking of metal could be heard. The density of the materials of their armor ensured that it wouldn’t break when they were dropped in, and also supported the micro-servos throughout it. Most of the Wild Bunch now weighed in around the low three-hundreds, Teran and Zeek nearing closer to four, but they moved with such ease you’d never know it. All of their gear, the implants, the armor, was state of the art and the height of military tech, with a few private sector parts added. Once all aboard they sat down in two rows, facing each other. At the end of each row of benches, closer to the back of the ship, were two corridors. These lead to the darts, the ship housing twenty total, more than enough for the thirteen waiting to pilot them.

“Get secured, then helmets on,” Teran said just before he quickly strapped himself into his seat.

Once he was tightly held in his seat he looked at the T-shaped visor of his helmet. He wasn’t trying to look at himself, the visor gave off no glare or reflection, he was just looking at what so many people would see in their final moments. The unmoving metal giving no hint to emotion or intention, making him appear more droid than man. For what he did he might has well have been a robot, unyielding and deaf to pleas of mercy or quarter. To the Empire he showed no empathy, if there was a man worth any sort of consideration he would not stand with those tyrants, he would do all he could to oppose their rule and aid his fellow imperial. By virtue of showing themselves on the field of battle against the Republic, by following Sith orders, they have showed themselves to be cowed men and women of no substance or nerve. Even in the face of death, even if it would cost the lives of his family and friends, Teran would never yield to the Empire, and he knew that those he cared for would understand. It was a line, a divider, between the just and evil, and it was the deciding factor in Teran’s harsh and unforgiving treatment of Imperials and Sith alike. Teran pondered on the visage of his helmet for a moment before he turned it in his grip and adorned it once more.

When it was fully on the flex-armor around his neck latched on and sealed it to the rest of his armor instantly. The world was dark for a moment as the systems of the armor buzzed to life. Then the glowing blue hue of the HUD suddenly blinked into Teran’s vision. The programs of the armor began auto-running diagnostics, activating and assessing the status of each feature. Teran’s eyes would have ached from the sudden brightness, but his contact lenses did their job and leveled out his vision before discomfort could set in. He watched as within seconds all systems were cleared and given a green status His suit was safely air-sealed, all powered systems were wholly activated, and it quickly toggled between standard vision and enhanced-vision modes, showing him that everything was in order. His atmospheric sensors analyzed his environment and deemed it safe for direct access, opening four vents on his helmet to let the air of the ship in. The oxygen systems of his armor had two hours worth air for him to breathe in unfriendly conditions. When all other systems were confirmed clear Teran took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The implant began interfacing with the armor, ensuring ease of use for him. It was a sensation that could take one’s breath away if it took you by surprise.

Teran looked at his fireteams and watched as tactical assessments popped onto his HUD. All of his teams callsigns were displayed next to them when his systems locked onto them. Each of the Wild Bunch looked around as well, just getting a feel for their fully activated armor. The physical enhancements were familiar and welcomed feelings. Teran was a strong man already, far stronger than the average man, but now he felt like he could knockout a Transdosian in one punch if need should arise. It wasn’t much of a change, he couldn’t lift a speeder alone, but it was an edge, however slight, and every edge added up. No matter how many battlefields Teran strode past victoriously, his team at his side, each one was a new obstacle. A new beast to be slain, and no amount of experience could possibly prepare one for every unique war. Teran wasn’t scared exactly, but he was anxious to get on the ground, display his prowess, and get his team out alive. Being the leader didn’t allow him leeway to feel fear, no matter how real. He had to be the rock for his team, he needed to be the thing that keeps them afloat when the tides turn. By now the whole routine he had before a drop was perfected. His emotions were tempered into a force more durable than warship armor, the blade it formed to cut through his doubt had a keen edge unrivaled by any real weapon. Now wasn’t a time of fear for him though. Now he was only eager in a way that words couldn’t describe. Too much was associated and interwoven into war for him to ever explain. War, combat, battle, they were his life’s goal and all he’d been raised for. For him it wasn’t a job or calling, it was who he was on such a fundamental level he felt few would ever truly understand. Only one person ever fully grasped his feelings for war. Morena was that person.

Through the ship the dull hum and roar of the engines filled the empty air. The crew had secured themselves in the cockpit, and had begun preparations for take off. Teran could hear the voices of his teams as they spoke to one another. Krager and Zeek spoke of women on the ship they were interested in, keeping their minds off the impending drop. Jamie said a prayer in a low voice to some god from a religion Teran didn’t know, but he was able to pick up her father’s name mentioned a few times. Jones sat next to Teran and he was just as silent as Teran. For them this op would be something more than the standard fare, but it wasn’t fair to say that it was personal solely for them. Morena was the missing piece of their family for each and every one of the Wild Bunch. Teran couldn’t exactly make out what Bravo was saying to each other as the engines grew louder. The ship moved subtly as its docking clamps unlocked for take off.

“All systems green, atmospheric scans show skies are clear,” Boomer said over the team’s radios. “Cargo secure?”

At once the Wild bunch slammed a fist against the ceiling or a wall twice. Rituals before combat took on superstitious precedence over conventional or rational habits.

“Fantastic, let’s launch some walking death at these Imp bastards for one of our own,” Boomer said into their radios, fully aware of the mission and its details.

The whole ship rumbled with the powerful hum of the engines finally being engaged. The slight wobble the ship took on as it rose from its docking clamps was noticeable and thrilling to the passengers. A tingling in the feet or hands, perhaps a slight falling feeling from your stomach, maybe it was a gleeful dizziness, but somehow the thrill was there. The Wild Bunch aren’t war mongers, nor ravenous murderers, the destruction they wrought was only a byproduct of their true desire. Combat. It was inside of them all, the innate drive to pit everything they were against something else, their whole being the price they gamble with, and come out on top. Such fire could not be manufactured or placed into men and women, it had to be a burning ever present since birth. That was the fire that kept the Wraith Corps above those who would be their peers. And the flame was stoked and fed with the roaring of the engines as the drop ship left the dreadnaught Iziz. The rumble died out to an unsettling smoothness and ease of travel as the ship ventured through the void of space.

“Hey Sarge,” Jolene spoke up through the silence that seemed to fill the room. “What’re you gonna say when you finally see her again?”

The question put such a pause in the air that everyone stopped breathing for a moment, making the ship feel as though it came to a standstill. Teran regained his composure quickly, but it was clear that it was a preoccupation for him. Both Bravo and Able waited for him to speak before shattering the stillness that hung in the air.

“I was thinking something like casual,” Teran said back with a droll tone. “Maybe I’ll just tell her hey, and that I’ve been thinking about her. Good enough?”

Both teams seemed to ease themselves because of his dry joke, making it feel as though it was safe to speak again.

“What do you want him to say Jo?” Jamie asked her. “Looking for some teary eyed speech or something?”

“Maybe a poem to capture the moment,” Krager spoke up as soon as Jamie finished speaking. “Or given the question why doesn’t he just follow Jo’s lead and go for something inappropriate.”

“Come on, its not like I asked something that unthinkable,” Jolene defended herself. “I was merely curious. We all have to face the fact that at least when the message was sent Morena was still alive. Is still alive. This isn’t Malor’s op alone, and she doesn’t just mean something to him and Jones, she wasn’t just our commander. She was our leader.”

“She’s right, we might as well start getting a grip on the thought that we’ll see her again,” Zeek said with his deep voice, calming the room with just a few words. “Better we get accustomed to it here, instead of out in the thick of it.”

“I know we’d see her again. It was never a question for me,” Jones said, his visor looking firmly at the ground.

Teran looked over to his friend and placed a hand on his shoulder, lightly rubbing it at first, then patting his back a few times. It was an effort to shake him back into them moment. To get his head where it needed to be.

“It’s like Jones said, never a matter of if we seen her again, just when,” Teran said with a distant cadence.

“We still have the matter of overcoming a dug in force with home field advantage, superior numbers and support, Staff Sergeant,” Genevive told her CO with a firm tone.

“That’s understood fully well, Sergeant,” Teran said back with a biting tone.

The logistics of the op didn’t give Teran pause when he thought of his objectives. He would have fought his way to the very heart of the Empire if he thought it would get him Morena back, if it would heal the wound he inflicted to his honor. But duty bound him to his post, to following the Colonel and staying with the Wraiths over indulging his own desires. Teran didn’t feel that his honor could take another hit and remain intact. Truly an internal conflict warred inside of Teran, but conflict wasn’t a new occurrence. Soon the rumbling wasn’t just from his own being, but the ship around him also trembled.

“Passing the outer layer now. Everyone to their darts,” Boomer told them as she honed in on her tasks.

Everyone else had an easy job compared to what she was expected to do. She would have to evade detection while maintaining a proper height for the drop, and getting them right over the hostile’s base which had full air support and the means to scramble interceptors. But not one the Bunch was concerned. Boomer was the best drop pilot in the whole Republic fleet, having completely earned her reputation while serving with the Colonel in the famed Wraith Squadron. The Wild Bunch was at ease when they loaded their gear into the darts and began to climb into the pods. They were oval shaped if you looked from the top down, with a few protrusions where the wings and runners were. The patterned black, grey, and navy colors didn’t look pleasing, but they provided sufficient camouflage. When stored the pods sat with the pilot facing down at slant, though not wholly inverted yet. Teran pulled the cover closed over him when he was set. His arms disappeared from his sight as he reached his arms into the area where the flight stick and throttle were. He wasn’t laying completely flat on his stomach, his knees were bent comfortably and he didn’t have to completely look straight up to see out the small window. The pods weren’t uncomfortable, but were more than slightly confining. Teran fidgeted inside the dart in a slight effort to eek out some extra comfort in the small space. Truly the darts could handle a man of his size in full armor, but Zeek and he were pushing the upper limits of capacity.

“Atmospheric entry complete, positioning for drop, ETD one minute,” Boomer told them, giving them a full count down.

“Able team are you green?” Teran asked into his com. Performing one more ritual before combat.

Their responses filled his earpiece with an unintelligible clamor that brought a smile to his lips.

“Bravo team are you green?” Teran asked his second team with more amusement evident in his voice.

Much like Able, Bravo’s response was a cacophony of cheers and shouts. The air was filled to a critical point even though they were in separate darts. Each one of them was filled with a thrill that surged through them. The darts were the first bit of battle as far as they were concerned. Being specially trained in their usage didn’t remove the threats that marred their reputation and kept them from mass usage. The minimalist windows and high-risk factors were only marginally changed with experience, and currently the Wild Bunch were the most seasoned and capable operators of darts, and it was still considered a calculated risk. For their dangers though the Wild Bunch couldn’t wait to get back at the helm of one. It was an exhilarating rush that could be matched by only the most thrilling or harrowing of events. Teran found his face was fixed in a smile he could not remove, not that he wanted to. His feet and hands tingled and tickled, his heart rate sped slightly from his eager desires, each second seemed to last for minutes. Teran put everything aside until he was past this, Morena, his upcoming op, all of it would have to wait until this moment passed. And it wouldn’t pass until it was good and ready. He gripped the throttle again and again, licking his lips as he tried to keep his breathing steady as it would soon be in short supply. The gears of the locking clamps pulled back and completely brought him upside down, letting him look on as the bay doors opened for the dart. He couldn’t make out any thing of the surface from the heights they were at, only clouds and a blue hue of the sky.

“Minimal height reached, drop in three…” Boomer said into their radios.

Teran held his breath quickly then released it as he swallowed air and fixed his eyes firmly open.


He exhaled and ignored vertigo that took grip of his stomach as he was wholly inverted now and staring at the planet he would soon be on, sooner than other men could possibly reach from similar heights.

“One!” Boomer emphasized the last word as she pulled the switch to completely remove the locking clamps.

A single moment, too infinitesimal to actually measure, and surely something that was created in their minds alone, but a moment that seemed to pause the world around them as they floated for a moment, wholly defiant of gravity. Teran didn’t have time to turn his gaze from the planet he viewed through the small window before him, only an exaggerated processing of time for him to think of the event he willingly put himself through. Then the moment was torn, completely sundered and ravaged by the body breaking force of their rushed descent heralded in by the dull pop of the dart engines firing. There was a sense of helplessness as they launched themselves to the ground, flying in the face of everything that told them to somehow stop their momentum and get solid ground under heel once more. Hundreds of feet of altitude blazed into nothing before them in mere seconds. Teran felt as though his stomach was some distant thing, though if it caught him it would revolt and riot instantly. His eyes sunk into his head as he refused to look away from what laid out before him. His feet felt hot, as though too much blood flowed to them, but his hands felt as though a thousand needles stabbed every inch of skin while they thawed from freezing temperatures. All the while he could not remove the smile that took residence on his lips.

With glee he tugged the flight stick, spinning him about through the vast sky. As he lost himself to the euphoria of flight he let out a victory whoop that transmitted through his radio to his team. He laughed from the depths of his being as he danced among the clouds with his teams. From somewhere distant he could make out the sound of their laughter and elation as they took in the moment with the same enthusiasm as he did. The ride was designed to be a short one, and brief it was. With less than half a minute left They had begun to already slow their darts to speeds that wouldn’t twist their bones while still in their flesh and rupture their organs via shear inertia. The instruments of each dart reported green statuses, thankfully indicating that they remained undetected. The area they dropped straight down too was nearly three miles outside of the city limits, meaning that a nearly suburban sprawl of sparse houses and more farm land was before them, though if they looked up they could see the city clearly. The next seconds were too fast to put into correct order logically, but on an instinctual level the Wild Bunch responded. The light signaling the moment to engage leveling procedures flared to life and instantly each one of them pulled the throttle back, simultaneously smashing the button near their thumbs. The leveling process was gradual in a purely objective sense, but when behind the helm of a dart it felt like a running full speed into the wall, with a similar sense of the world being at a different angle than you remembered it only moments ago.

Each dart operated perfectly, leveling them well within safe parameters, keeping them at two hundred feet, fifty feet below imperial scanners. It was a precarious level to be at, putting them at skyline level with the smaller cityscape before them. Weaving past the taller buildings was the next hurdle in reaching their destination. The flipped and rolled their way through the skyline, all the while maintaining a doubled wing formation fifty feet apart. The journey was already slowing them down to roughly eight-hundred kilometers an hour, noticeably slower than what velocity they just raced at. The pace steadily dropped as they flew through the city. Urban decay didn’t touch what dirtied the streets beneath them. The things a war zone could do to a place was astonishing each time, homes reduced not to rubble but to a tattered and ruined state leaving just enough to remind you that once a family lived there, loved each other there, had a place in the world there. True destruction was most horrific when it left you a piece to remember what once had been. And the streets seemed to be a ghost of what they once were, hollow and devoid of life. But to the Bunch it was just a blur of nondescript scenery that accompanied the Imperial armies wherever they marched. Too much of this mission was already personal, they needed to keep their level of detachment strong to the rest of it. Getting too involved could happen, for better or worse, and the Wild Bunch knew that. It was what made them the exemplary soldiers they were. They weren’t bloodthirsty killers out for a thrill, they were patriots who want to save their fellows and countrymen, not just the wanton slaughter of the enemy. It was a thin line, but it was vital. Often it was too casually skirted, but such was the nature of battle.

The drop zone was coming up quickly, the scanners built into the ship feverishly searching for any sign of hostile contact. The Imperials knew what they were doing when they built their base near the abandoned industrial district. The crowded skies made for unfriendly surveillance both on foot and from aerial support. But like most strategies it had the hazard of affecting the enabling party. The steam and smoke stacks, coupled with narrow pathways made it unlikely that the team would be spotted when they dropped down. Unless of course there were spotters watching over a dilapidated bit of factory that sat a mile outside of the Imperial command center patrol lines, and two miles around armor line they’d set up to discourage insurgents. The Wild Bunch flew their darts around the maze-like paths not with ease, but surely the appearance of ease. As they drew ever closer to their drop zone a voice rung of their radios.

“Away teams, this is remote command, we are ready to take the helm of your darts on your mark,” the voice said, though his one voice spoke for a group of operators that sat safely aboard the Iziz.

“Drop zone reached. Mark!” Teran sounded to his team and remote command.

The team’s darts slowed down to well under forty kilometers over a ground level shipping and receiving area of a derelict factory. The hatches of their darts retracted in unison with their windshields dropping down. They were open to the atmosphere of the planet, their helmets closing their vents quickly due to sudden atmospheric change but opening again upon deeming the environment sufficiently safe. From their half laying position the Wild Bunch sat upright and quickly grabbed their stored rifles and canons next to their feet on the side of their individual choosing. The darts were about to pass over the LZ when an expected alert rang over their radios.

“Dart controls now switched to remote, operating personnel clear the pods,” remote command told them with a relaxed cadence.

The teams jumped out of the darts once they were over the yard, landing on the concrete slabs with no pain or discomfort. Teran leapt from his dart in time with his team, not hesitating from the twenty foot height. Compared to his fast drop, the fall from the dart didn’t seem significant in any way. With his rifle in hand he only stalled for a brief moment when he connected with the ground. He instantly regained his bearing, bringing his sights level with his eyes. Able having landed first spread out and cleared the receiving yard with professional efficiency that few teams could achieve. Once they were sure they were clear they went to the center of the yard where Bravo was landing. Teran looked up and watched as the darts were remotely piloted away from them. In under ten seconds Able squad got boots on the ground, secured the yard, and now stood before Bravo. Teran looked at the fireteams for a moment, doing a quick headcount, ensuring everything was in the clear before radioing back.

“Albatross, this is Watcher, both teams are ready, status is green,” Teran said back to Wraith Command aboard the Iziz. “Beginning operations.”
I will never surrender, I will free the Earth and skies... N7 Loyalist

General_Malor's Avatar

01.31.2012 , 09:48 AM | #4
Chapter Three: Concrete Jungle

Able and Bravo squads looked at each other silently for a moment, catching their breath from the hurried trip to the surface. Once it was a caught only a moment later they parted ways, not really saying much.

“Keep chatter to a minimum,” was the only thing Teran said as they left each other’s company.

With their rifles kept at eye level they moved through the urban sprawl before them. Their radios were set to intercept hostile chatter to alert them to any possible detection. It wasn’t a perfect system, given that if they were using a new frequency than previously encountered it would be useless. Regardless of their tech each of them relied most on their own talents and abilities. They moved from corners to inside of alleys, past loading yards and through dilapidated buildings with a staggered stacking pattern. Two would fix themselves on defensible positions while covering the area before them while the rest stacked up until the two from the very back could move up and take the next positions. The alleyways weren’t the most troublesome for them, it was the clearing of the old buildings that proved challenging. Room clearing was easy enough, but when the room had six different entry points, four spots that could crumble through, and countless places for traps it took it to a different level than standard room clearing. Not even sweeping a forest or jungle floor proved as hazardous as clearing urban or suburban territory, given that with vegetation you know what to expect roughly from the terrain. It any given jungle or forest you know where things are supposed to grow, what it’s supposed to look like, and there’s a uniformity to it’s wildlife. But with a random apartment building or old storefront, even production lines, what was supposed to be there and what was added to cover landmines wasn’t ever clear. Each room could prove to be a set up kill box or ambush hotspot. For all they knew the next doorway was a fatal-funnel that Imps were watching, hoping some insurgent would be foolhardy enough to come traipsing through.

Minutes drained away as they slowly progressed through the desolate streets. Imperial control hadn’t been kind to the city, it rarely is, and not one wayward soul was seen as they cleared their way to the command center. Evidence of daily life brought to an abrupt end surrounded them. Speeders and swoop bikes sat stagnant on the smoothed area beneath them, old factories no longer churned out their products. Most clearly above all else the burned and scattered civilian and military bodies that lay uncared for on the streets told the story of Imperial boots touching down on the planet’s surface. Thankfully the smell of old corpses didn’t hit their noses due to the openness around them. The psychological effect of seeing sentient remains strewn about with little to no regard was a ploy of the Sith, and it worked against less hardened minds. Teran never understood the reverence for handling a being’s physical remains, he saw only an empty shell to be dealt with once the life had left it. The thing that mattered, the soul, spirit, essence, whatever it truly was held importance, not it’s vessel. Able moved past the bodies with no bother to them, still avoiding stomping past them. Zeek mainly seemed to give the bodies a wide berth, looking down to each one with a slight nod, as if to acknowledge it’s existence. Teran thought of asking him why he seemed to be so careful when matters of dearly departed came up, but like most things Zeek maintained that it was for him to know, not to share.

They moved with the sun nearly set at their backs. The heat didn’t seem to bother Teran, even as he had begun to sweat in his armor. The airtight quality of the armor and body glove didn’t allow for a great deal of breathing room. None actually. Thankfully the suit had a smart weave fabric that expanded or contracted when exposed to certain temperatures. It constricted when cold, and expanded when hot, letting some of the heat move through when he was in a temperate enough climate. It wasn’t much, but some heat didn’t ebb away from him, only to hit the heat barriers offered by his armor plates and canvas clothing. As his body heat increased, so too would the openness of the fibers, allowing him a comfortable state regardless of how hot he got. The only problem was with ever cool breeze the fibers tightened again, trapping more heat. It was one drawback to their recon armor, but it still comforted him knowing that the fabrics worked so well. The sweat that formed on his brow didn’t actually roll down his dark skin, but accumulated enough weight for him to be aware of them. He hoisted his body to standing again, and worked his way up the cover line. When he got to the front of the line he noticed that a metal shutter kept a bay door closed, closing them off from the rest of the world. They cleared the room around them quickly, keeping watch on all three entry points. Teran signaled them to stop for a moment, giving them time to hydrate and relax for a time. He wasn’t so badly off as the rest, growing up in badlands or rainforests gave him a resistance to the heat that few shared.

The air was thick around them as they took a break. They had been on the planet for what felt like mere moments, slowly moving for the past half-hour, though time didn’t apply to what they did now. The only time that mattered was now, the only thought was of what was going to happen.

“I’m put off Sarge,” Brat said, breaking the silence.

“Explain,” Teran inquired as he watched the sealed sliding gate before them.

“We’ve been in enemy turf for the past thirty minutes, give or take, and not one sign of a hostile or even recent evidence. Where are they?” Brat asked them all as he took another swig of his canteen.

“Isn’t it clear?” Teran asked them, honestly unsure if they were aware or not.

“… Oh, you mean… I got ‘cha,” Joker said first, his smile visible now with his helmet temporarily off.

“They’re too busy trying to keep Morena down to have their regular patrols to relieve the frontlines,” Teran told them from inside his helmet.

“She’s good, but I don’t know if she’s occupy entire enemy base good,” Brat said as he put his helmet back on.

“I didn’t say she was alone,” Teran said as he moved over to the gate with nod of his head for them to follow. “She’s most likely instigated a revolution among their prisoners, and we know she knows how to anger and evade the Imps and Sith.”

“Well it would seem we’re fashionably late to the party, let’s not keep our hosts in suspense any longer,” Jamie said as she moved towards the gate.

Teran bent down to the grab hold of the vertically opening gate handle, grasping it tightly before pulling up. He had only meant to open it, but instead he broke it’s old lock, and almost yanked it out of it’s runners. The metal snapped easily enough, and the gate shot up quickly, Able squad moving through the now open gate with a return of their former tactics. Teran held it up with one arm as they moved under it, feeling only a marginal strain from the weight of it all. Once they were all through he moved under it and slowly lowered the metal down back to rest. His rifle back in his hand, his body and mind working at full combat efficiency, Teran moved forward with his team. It wasn’t long, maybe an alley or two more before their radios buzzed to life.

“Able, this is Bravo Lead, we’ve got eyes on the enemy and are preparing a welcome gift, waiting for your green,” Genevive said into their headsets, her voice carrying the dull static quality of radios.

“Copy Bravo Lead, we’ve yet to encounter resistance, hold for now,” Teran replied to Bravo team as they kept moving forward.

Able Squad moved quicker than before, anxious to start the fight. The waiting for it to find them wasn’t working, and it was a dangerous game to play. Even outnumbered it would be best to instigate a firefight, catching their foes unaware. It didn’t take long for them to get closer to the commander center, regardless of the maze of urban decay in front of them.

“Watcher, I’m picking up a lot of ambient feedback on secondary frequencies. Sounds like a jamming signal. Primary channels are clear for us though. We’re getting close,” Brat said from his position in cover.

“Copy Brat,” Teran acknowledged as they moved again.
“Contact front!” Jones said into his radio as they all ducked into cover.

In front of the alley they were in an armored patrol moved past. The rumble of the wheels on the tanks could be felt from their position. Anticipation filled the air as they watched the Imperial troops march along side the tanks. Six men accompanied the armor, not counting the gunners manning heavy repeaters for each tank. As the men passed by, leaving only the two tanks rolling by. Teran ordered Able Squad to move up. As they hurried to the end of the alley they noticed that the armor was moving back to the Imperial base. Teran looked to Jones and with a sharp point and nod Jones moved from cover. He ran up to the back of the patrol line, staying have crouched as he ran. Once he neared the tank at the back he swung his body down, hanging on to the joints and pipes on the bottom of it, keeping clear from the ground by nearly a whole foot. They watched as Jones hitched a ride underneath the patrol. Using their HUDs to follow Jones as he rode with the patrol they plotted a parallel route to the base. They ran from the alley they hid in when the patrol passed by far enough, darting into the one across. Passing through that alley they made their way down an abandoned street, following to the back right of the convoy. They hugged the walls closely, keeping a watch on all their corners with keen diligence. They ducked into a broken door way when Jones’ position indicated a path right before them.

When it finally passed they moved past that street into one parallel, but this time on the back left of the convoy. With the buildings between them they could hardly hear the convoy moving, but it made the presence of hostiles no less real. They walked with their rifles raised for minutes, following Jones’ signature. When it paused they kept pace, closing the distance slowly.

“Checkpoint coming up, three guards on my right in an abandoned restaurant, two in a office lobby on my left. No getting past them without engagement and still keeping up with me,” Jones said from his ride under the tank.

“Copy, we’ll keep it quiet for now,” Teran said as they stopped for a moment. “Okay, Stitch you take out the two in the lobby, we’ll drop the three in the restaurant. Set your blaster to as quiet as possible, we don’t want a firefight yet.”

Able accepted his orders with a nod and continued forward. Jones’ signal moved further and further away from them as they snuck up on the checkpoint. Moving through the buildings to sneak up on them wasn’t easy, save for a lucky break where a wall had fallen to open to the back of the old restaurant. It was the kind of fast order place where workers would stop in on their lunch breaks. The kitchen they moved through was a confined space filled with grills and cooking fixtures. They made their way through, trying hard to ensure their armor didn’t knock against anything. The swinging doors to the kitchen had fallen off, laying on the ground. Stitch posted up in the back of the kitchen setting her rifle down and gazing through a scope at the duo across the street. Watcher, Bully and Brat moved through the kitchen doorway, weapons slung and blades in hand. The three guards sat playing some card game and talking loudly. At least they were enjoying themselves in their final moments. Behind the counter the three waited for Stitch to give them the signal. The men told crude jokes to one another, causing a chorus of laughter which ended with one of them dropping their cards. As he bent down to pick them up Stitch signaled them to move. As the only one truly facing them was distracted the guards weren’t ready for the blitz that hit them. When the man looked up from the floor he could only gasp as three heavily armed men closed on them.

Watcher and Bully took out the men facing each other, throwing their chairs back and lodging their knifes into either their throats or up through the soft of the jaw. Brat leapt over the table and kicked the man who dropped his cards before landing on him and ending his life in a painfully slow manner. The men they murdered didn’t even get the dignity of looking their killers in the eyes. The last thing they saw in their lives were their own reflections staring back at them in horror as they came to grips with what fate befell them. When that all happened the men across the street stood to investigate the ruckus, giving Stitch an even better line of sight. She shot the one closest to the door first, splattering the man behind him with gore from the overpowered bolt. His face covered in blood and gore he could literally not see what was coming as she fired again and hollowed out his head. The entirety of five men’s lives came to a brutal end in mere, tiny, insignificant seconds. Everything they were and everything they could have been was so swiftly ended and stolen. Able squad didn’t feel pity or sympathy. And they’d long passed the time when the weight and reality of taking another life twisted one’s stomach into knots. They only thing they did was clean their knives, reset their rifles, and make their way past the ruined checkpoint.

They closed in on Joker’s position quickly, leaving caution to a lesser status as they made their way closer to the base. With Joker able to call out potential ground level threats they were able to focus on more vertical hostiles. It didn’t take them long to catch up to the slow marching patrol on their current path. Now less able to follow on alternate streets they ducked into the buildings when following far behind. The men seemed tired as they marched back to their base, no doubt coming off of a long shift on guard duty. The lax in their duty made the tailing of them that much easier. Seldom looking back and more focusing on keeping one foot in front of the other didn’t set the stage for the most thorough of patrols. Daring to close the distance more Able squad kept inching towards the patrol. Only when the turn ahead revealed the path directly to the command center did they stop moving. There was no wall to speak up, but snipers placed on the rooftops of buildings. Guards kept watch on the perimeter with turret placements scattered about. The whole look of the place seemed awfully still and calm for what Teran deduced was happening. More it seemed to have the look of a place the day after a battle. The guards looked tired but too charged to sleep. The gunners held to their turrets with tight grips that spoke to recent use. As the patrol passed into the base the men walking with the tanks moved to enter the command center while the tank turned off to park near the others sitting for repairs and refueling. When the drivers and gunners left their tanks alone for mechanics to look over Able squad spotted Jones dropping from his improvised ride and beginning his saboteur work.

He placed det-packs on each tank he came across, staying low and darting from sight as often as possible. He went undetected as he slunk into the shadows of a tall factory.

“One surprise ready, Watcher, on your go,” Jones said from his placement.

“Roger, get yourself to a nest and provide cover when we come in,” Watcher told him before addressing Bravo squad as well. “Bravo Lead, we have eyes on the facility and are moving on hostiles. Let’s see what kind of trouble you can stir up.”

“Copy Watcher, moving to engage the enemy now. Crash, Smash, you’re up,” Gene said to La’Ney and Jolene respectively.

Bravo’s artillery team wasted no time engaging the hostiles as they raised their weapons. Crash, La’Ney, had a canon that fired explosive rounds and Smash, Jolene, kept her shoulder mounted rocket launcher perched to unleash terror.

“Targets locked,” They said in unison.

“Tear ‘em down,” Gene said with a cool calm.

They let their weapons loose from the second story window they sat in, over watching the first armor placement they found. The relative silence of the day was sundered by missiles ripping through the skies. The first tank didn’t have a chance as it was ravaged by the ordnance. The second tank seemed to react quicker, its driver trying to give the ambushers a moving target. It didn’t get far before the pair fixed their fury on it. The explosion from the two tanks being destroyed sowed havoc on the enemy troops. They couldn’t even see the building they were supposed to hide from through all the smoke and haze. With the armor down the rest of Bravo sprung from cover and rushed the dazed men. The women were all power with no semblance of mercy as they jumped from the second story window and rushed the Imps. From their position Crash and Smash fired on the Imps closest to the outer perimeter, far from the rest of the their squad. It didn’t take them long neutralize the guards, leaving naught but smoke and death behind them.

“Watcher, first placement down, nice and loud. Enjoy the stirred nest,” Gene said as she and the rest of Bravo made their way to the next target.

“Copy Bravo Lead, let’s see what they have waiting for us,” Teran replied with grim glee.

It wasn’t long before soldiers poured out of the command center, heading for the armor that sat next to Jones’ hitched ride. They didn’t seem altogether as they ran from the building. Most likely the night watch roused from sleep to engage to hostiles at their perimeter. Men started to steadily jog down the road towards Able Squad while the tanks caught up. When the last one drove off to meet the enemy Jones maliciously clutched the trigger in his hand. He waited until it was away from it’s port before prepping the trigger.

“Joker, they’re close by, first tank is in the lead now, hit it,” Teran said from his cover.

He didn’t waste any time once hearing his order. Though the trigger wasn’t hard to hit or difficult Jones unconsciously slammed down on it as if to emphasize the reality of what he was doing. From the first tank heading back they detonated in sequence, catching the soldiers near them in the flames. The command center came to life once the explosions sounded, some ran to help those they could while the more experienced soldiers knew better. The men near the tanks were dead, or soon to be from wounds, and running from a cover or entrenched position would just help the enemy. Jones caught a few of them as they ran out into the open, nearly five before snipers locked in on his position. Their bolts tore at his cover while he ran away from it. None managed to actually tag Jones though, he knew they would fire on him all too soon. And Able Squad was aware of this as well, letting them focus on muzzle flashes. They spotted the snipers quickly as they foolishly kept a steady rate of fire on Jones last known location. A more experienced sniper would have known to fire once, maybe twice, then change location and angle. The rest of Able Squad broke from cover and opened fire on the sniper nests on the buildings. Colored bolts flew at the snipers, catching them in burning death.

With the snipers down, at least the majority of them, Able Squad moved up the street, past the demolished tanks, stepping over the Imp bodies that lay about. Incoming fire from turrets sporadically came their way, but turned whenever Jones rose from cover to take easy shots at the gunners. Watcher fired overpowered shots from his rifle, attempting more to keep men in cover than actually score hits. Bully let his heavy repeater roar at the Imps as they tried to seek cover from the canon’s power. Stitch wasn’t worried about keeping men down, but putting them down with surgical shots that the good doctor loosed with ease. Brat fired his grenade launcher, hoping for accuracy by volume and kill area more than actual paced shots. They moved about the street, never staying on one path for too long, less they give their would be murderers an easy target. By the time they reached where the gate was, if it could be called that, Teran noticed movement in garage doors. He ordered Able to take cover while they slid up. Two more tanks rolled into the courtyard with a small platoon of men accompanying them.

“Break formation! Take cover!” Watcher yelled at his team as the tanks sighted the squad in.

They scattered through the courtyard, avoiding the blast radius of the tanks first shots. The rumble of the explosions brought an eerie silence for a moment after they subsided. The silence was broken by the whining blare of alarms sounding. Teran pulled himself off the ground, having dove behind some crates for cover. A snarl fixed itself on his face as he slid his thumb across the fire-rate setting, pushing it forward to full auto. He stood from his cover and loosed bolt after bolt in dizzying succession. Running to avoid becoming a stationary target he rampaged through the courtyard. A second after he stood and ran, before the Imps could get a lock on him, Bully and Brat stood in kind, running in different directions, also firing wildly in the soldiers’ general direction. The confusion that followed their wild offensive hid the fact that Stitch made her way to the turrets to take up the enemies weapons and turn them against them. While every fired or ran Stitch lowly clambered over the permacrete wall and rolled off of it, landing behind the handles of the turret.

“Cover!” Stitch yelled as she reset the heat absorbers, effectively reloading the weapon.

At once the three in the courtyard hid behind as solid of cover they could find while she unleashed a blazing torrent of murder on the Imps. Some managed to hide behind the tanks armor. Though the turret was a high powered weapon, it still couldn’t tear into the tanks. Finally still Joker was able to pop shots at the soldiers hunkered down by their tanks. He dropped three more before Stitch stopped shooting to change out the heat coil. Joker tried to pick up a few more as they moved to cover, but they darted too fast to the cover of a turret nest. Before they could notice, the barrel of the tanks’ cannons were fixed on Joker and Stitch’s respective positions. Joker jumped to the ground from his high perch, landing harder than he wanted to. Stitch tore the turret from its stand and dove out of the small dugout. The second shots from the tanks tore apart their intended target, but still no kills to claim. With the tanks otherwise occupied Watcher blitzed towards the empty space between them. Bully and Brat fired on the Sith in the turret nest, keeping them hidden while he ran.

Their efforts paid off, but they didn’t see the men climbing out of the tanks and on to the turrets at the top of them. Watcher immediately altered his course when he saw them taking aim at him. They weren’t waiting for anything when they finally had their weapons on him, firing everything they could his way. Bolts nipped at his heels as he ran, trying to stay ahead of their aiming lead. The gunner on the second tank was ended when Joker finally recovered and shot the man twice through the chest. Stitch joined the Bully and Brat in their oppression of the men in the nest. She balanced the turret on the edge of a crate as she shot at them. Watcher dove once more for cover, this time feeling the force of a bolt graze his leg as he leapt. Once he stopped rolling he looked over his leg to check the hit, it was superficial thankfully. The plasma of turrets had a nasty habit of burning for half a minute after contact, ruining whatever armor they hit by simply eating away past its upper limits of heat mitigation. The returning fire from the men in the nest ceased, giving the three of them time to reload. At least a pause to let them try. But the Imps didn’t shoot any more because from the nest grenades began to fly through the air, one after the other, blanketing the general area of their locations. As they abandoned their placements they focused on out running the kill zone of each grenade. Unable to keep the nest in cover one of them took up the turret and began his own bout of suppressive fire.

Watcher looked over his cover to better see the situation only to see Joker swinging a canvas sack pulled off of one of the imperial soldiers. As it flew through the air the handle flagged behind it. But he threw it at the closest tank, not the nest. Once it landed Joker ducked and Watcher fell back behind his cover as well. The courtyard felt as though it tried to expel everyone from it in one move. Even behind cover they all were moved slightly from the explosion. Teran jumped over his cover and made a straight line to the remaining tank. As he ran he looked to the pockmark four feet deep at its center, where the tank had been, noticing large metal debris all around. As he ran he noticed through the haze that Stitch too charged the remaining tank. Being closer she reached it first, climbing up to the top and shooting off all three latches as Watcher climbed up. When he was at the top she was already pulling a grenade off her belt, setting its short fuse, and raising it above her head. Watcher didn’t wait, he simply tore the armored hatch up, yanking all hundred pounds of it with ease. The open hatch was more than large enough for the grenade Stitch hurled in there in strong intent. Watcher dropped the hatch the second it passed through the open way, jumping off the tank as fast as possible. Stitch was already moving away from the tank when she threw the grenade. They managed to get away when the grenade went off. This tank didn’t blow up all at once, more like bit by bit it was exploding until it was all too much. After four brief, small explosions it went up like the others did.

The whole while the turret gunner tried to reload his weapon fast enough to take out Watcher and Stitch, but he was paying far too much attention to them, not noticing Bully and Brat storming into the nest and laying waste to the men behind him. The gunner died completely unaware of what was going to happen to him, he simply kept on trying to reload the turret. He didn’t have to worry about an overly long death, Brat shooting him in the back of the head, right at the base of the skull. He might even have died quickly enough to never comprehend what had happened to him. Fires blazed around them as they looked around for incoming hostiles. No more seemed to want to go out, or they were otherwise occupied. Teran found the nearest entrance and wave for his squad to stack up on the door. They breached the door by simply smashing it in and flowing through it. Once inside they found an empty corridor that was still aside from the flashing lights of the alarm. Watcher signaled for Brat to take the lead, Brat knowing what he wanted from the simple gesture.

Brat moved through the complex keeping an eye for his target. He spotted a large room full of terminals, a short ways inside the building. Brat moved over to the consoles and begun his work, Stitch watching the door while the rest of them swept through the room, making sure it was clear. Knowing for certain that the room was secure they reloaded and checked their gear, Bully finishing first and taking watch on the door so Stitch could take a minute as well.

“What’s the situation Brat?” Teran asked as he moved closer to the terminal.

“These Imps are good, I’ll give them that much. They have lockout systems backed by purging protocols, try to re-route any of them and its total system lock, including this room. On top of that, they have data encryptions that make their files unreadable on anything but formatted devices kept on independent platforms. This is top of the line military security here,” Brat said as he typed away at the terminal.

“Are you saying you’ll need time to slice it?” Joker asked as he looked through the desks in the room.

“No. Not at all, I was actually done by the time I started talking. Krakin’ child’s play it was. Right now I’m running a scanning suite, downloading anything of a relevant nature to an isolated datapad with no network capabilities, while sending a warning to the officers of this complex that all vehicles have been compromised by malicious programs, designed to self destruct should someone try to operate them,” Brat said with a malicious smile as he typed.

“Scaring them so they don’t run?” Watcher asked.

“Oh no, its completely true, I’ve got access to their entire hangar, but it’ll come up looking like a forgery. Basically I’m hoping they’ll think it’s a bluff and we’ll eliminate anyone stupid enough to high tail it out of here,” Brat said as he kept typing.

“Our marks won’t fall for that, meaning we still have a hunt to finish. Give me the layout Brat,” Watcher told him with a bit of excitement in his voice.

“Okay, ‘Captain Likes-to-torture’ is near the detention center in the basement, while two, we’ll call them ‘Dead’ and ‘Gone’ are in the executive suites on the fifth floor, east wing, room one-fifty-six, and the last one, ‘Commander Butcher’, is on the floor above us in the armory. Not they’re real names mind you, but it works,” Brat said with a flippant tone.

“Right, Stitch, your with Dead and Gone. Bully, Brat, you two are on the commander. Joker and I will take out the good Captain,” Watcher said as he made his way for the door. “Remember, we need conformation to give the locals that they’re dead. Get their tags or some indication of their rank.”

“Understood sir,” They all replied.

“Watcher, this is Bravo Lead, we have third armored checkpoint down, moving on the fourth. What’s your status?” Gene asked him over the radio.

“We’ve entered the base, moving on targets, setting charges and securing pick-up, let us know if anything changes,” Watcher told her.

“Well there is something sir. We’re picking up some scattered chatter we assume is from the locals, it seems they’ve gotten in the fray. Should we aid them sir?” Gene asked him.

“Until you have eyes on them don’t assume anything, if you encounter them stay on your toes. We don’t have a solid read on how the locals might react. They could be a bunch of amateurs on a battle-high and they could well turn on your team. Move with caution,” Watcher told her, just stating the order of its sake alone.

“Roger that,” Gene replied.

They both knew how to handle the situation, but following protocol, even in a strictly superficial manner just helped things move along slowly. Knowing what Teran might have them do was still different than hearing him say it clearly. And they all maintained that clarity was of the utmost importance on the battlefield.

“Everyone, your HUD should be showing you a quick route to your target, knowing the building layout I had a program plot a statistically safe course for you all too follow. It’ll work like any Nav-tech, just watch for the prompts. Just don’t… oh I don’t know… think you’ll be safe because the statistics say you’ll be,” Brat told them as he walked out into the hallway, rifle raised.

“Wait! Someone have some spare det-packs?” Joker asked as he felt through his pockets.

“Don’t worry, you need one I’ll hand it to you,” Watcher told him.

“But it won’t be the same… I want my own,” Joker whined as he moved through the hall.

“Poor baby. Did the little pyromaniac waste all his ordnance on one tank?” Stitch teased him as they started separating.

“Hey, that explosion was totally worth it… show these Imps what happens when you mess with Valkyrie…” Joker said, drifting off with a bitter tone near the end.

“Stow that Joker, I need your head clear. Copy?” Watcher told him.

Joker nodded and got his head back in the game. Thinking about saving their ally didn’t help them stay clear, so each one of them tried to think of it as any other objective. For Teran and Jones this wasn’t so easy. But Teran would be the first to tell you he was closer to losing it than Jones was, making it all the more important that Jones held it together. If he lost it Teran knew he wouldn’t be far behind, that’s when missions get bad, when people get killed. Memories of his nightmare flew into his mind, and he felt sick instantly, the feeling leaving just as quickly as it had showed itself. It was a horrible feeling, but a very real reminder as to why he has to be the leader they need now, lest his dreams become reality. Teran fought to keep himself from falling in that pit of worry and doubt as they moved. He needed to be decisive now, not hesitating for a moment, all the while examining all his actions. He walked on the razor’s edge, the smallest push knocking him from his control.

“I copy Sir,” Joker said as they moved away.

By now the rest of Able were heading to their own destinations, only pausing for a moment when they heard their back and forth.

“Watcher, you sure you don’t want me with you? I mean it might be best to keep you and Joker apart for this… it might be too much,” Bully said with his deep caring voice.

“I understand why you’re concerned, but… it would be worse if we didn’t do this. At least this way we’ll be focused on what we’re doing and not thinking about what might be happening,” Watcher told them as he and Joker pressed forward.

“Understood, just call out if you need help,” Bully said, stating what didn’t need to be said.

Joker and Watcher made their way through the halls with their weapons eager to fire. The whole situation seemed to carry some nauseating weight to it, some significance that hinted to something more than the obvious. Teran wasn’t one to ponder while on mission, though today his mind wandered on its own. His concentration was split between two subjects. First was the mission and everything it meant to save Morena, second was the feeling that something more was happening right now. There had to be something greater going on, why would Morena suddenly surface after so long? Why on this nothing of a planet? Though the Colonel did say something about losing important allies when he spoke of this planet. Teran looked over the dossier on the planet, nothing too outstanding. A high population and solid strategic placement were the most notable features of the planet, other than that it had no access to resources that he was aware of. Perhaps there was something that wouldn’t be in the dossier, but then it wouldn’t make sense. Even if it was highly protected Teran would still know about it. The Colonel didn’t send his people out half-cocked and only knowing part of the story. If there was something important here and the Colonel knew about it then Teran would know.

Troubling thought that was, meaning that if the order came from higher in the command chain then the whole Wraith Corps was kept in the dark. It was disturbing to kick around the conspiracy theory so he shook it from his mind, only to find a more off putting theory in his mind. Did someone set them up using Morena? He knew her, well enough to say surely that she would die before she broke. A counterfeit perhaps then, meaning the whole thing was but a ruse. Teran kept fighting his trains of thought, trying to leave his mind empty and in the moment but it persisted. The worst kind of temptation was the kind you wanted to submit too, and questioning his awareness was bred into him. He barely noticed that Jones was saying his name and tapping his shoulder as they stopped. Teran came back to the moment to find themselves before a security room. They made their way quietly inside, not finding anyone manning the cameras. They secured the door and set to looking through the various feeds and screens. They searched for a time, finding mundane screens of Imps gearing themselves for war or prisoners wasting away in their cells. They both stopped when the found the screen they searched for.

Morena stood in a cell looking to the door out of sight from the camera. She seemed to be looking at someone as she stood in an aggressive stance. Within a second a snarl flashed on her face and she launched herself at the charged force field. She was shocked, but didn’t seem to care about her burnt hands. She certainly didn’t hesitate when she grabbed the small chair in her cell and threw it at the field. It bounced off but she didn’t seem to care. She seemed uneasy as she slightly swayed in place, clenching her fists over and over, eyes still fixed on the doorway. The camera feed cleared up as the force field went down and a cloaked figure made its way into the cell. Once the figure was in view she launched herself at it, winding back a hard right handed haymaker. The figure shot lightning from its hands catching her completely unprotected. She didn’t mind though as she followed through with her strike, knocking the figure back. As she stood with clear satisfaction on her face the figure regained its composure. Then with a quick hand motion the figure launched her into the wall behind her. Instead of letting her fall to the ground it held her there by her throat, choking her slowly. If body language was any indication Teran could tell it reveled in her pain.

“Joker… how close are we to that location,” Watcher said as he turned to run out the door.

“Close enough,” Was all he said as he too ran out the door.
I will never surrender, I will free the Earth and skies... N7 Loyalist

General_Malor's Avatar

03.21.2012 , 08:58 AM | #5
Chapter Four: Busted Out

Brat hung on a corner, watching the hallway before him. Bully moved slowly down the corridor in the opposite direction Brat watched. Bully moved on two guards, his knife unsheathed and ready. While the whole base may be at high alert, fully aware of the assault taking place, it didn’t mean that they had to announce their position left and right. Bully dispatched the men quickly, not worrying about noise with the alarms blaring. Brat made his way over to him, looking behind him every few seconds to watch his back. Brat kept watch as Bully wiped the blood off his knife using the men’s clothes. Without a word, only a nod, they continued down the hallways towards their mark. Being arguably the closest it wasn’t long before they started noticing more and more hostiles in the halls around them. Men and women moving to the armory seeking out weapons and gear for the attack. Dozens of Imps crowed the ways as they got closer and closer to the armory, and though they were the ambushers it was far from an ideal situation. A proper ambush has two key factors; the element of surprise, which was more or less gone, and superior hitting power. It want to have the advantages of ordnance, position, and preparation for an ambush to have an acceptable outcome. They waited for less than a minute, watching people file into the armory, waiting for their moment. When the amount of people in the room reached a critical point they made their move.

Brat held four grenades in his hands, Bully holding a pair of stun grenades. Brat waited until Bully slid one of his stun grenades across the floor. With everyone moving it was nothing short of miraculous that it made it into the room, and not kicked aside. He then slide the second one to the crowd in front of the door, getting close enough to the center of the mob. Once they were gone Brat threw him two grenades and they waited for the four second fuse to expire. There was ear splitting noise and light everywhere, Brat and Bully’s equipment minimizing any discomfort. At the apex of the flash they threw the grenades into the disoriented mass of people that stood trying to get their composure back. Without the chance of someone throwing the grenades back or moving away from them the frag grenades achieved maximum effect on the Imps. Within seconds dozens of men and women lay dead near the entrance to the armory, and more than a few inside the armory itself. The armory was a large room and they were both keenly aware that they didn’t remove all possible threats, but now they had the best chance they would have. They screamed and roared as they broke from their covered position and charged into the doorway. The voice modulators of their helmets twisting their screams into something terrible and inhuman. The simple act of screaming dates back to ancient cultures warfare, and the primal impact is still as strong then as it is now. There was something about it that imbued the one bellowing the fury and power to demolish foes like they were naught but minor things. It was a kind of wrath that summoned a viciousness that war naturally fed upon. The altered voices of them tested the Imps courage. Though they might be professional soldiers they still felt fear, and without the courage to overcome it they broke as anyone would in their situation.

Blaster bolts rained on their targets, not accurately but in vast majorities. It was a madman’s dash into the door way as the hostiles near the back organized and focused their fire on the chokepoint. They weren’t quick enough though, as Brat and Bully cleared the doorway and took up defensive positions. For a moment the situation seemed comical to them. They were attacking a hostile force in their own armory with them having the ability to be dug in. It was a morbid humor surely, but enough for a chuckle. The only thing keeping them from being victim to dozens of pounds of explosives was the still confined spaces they were in. There was no way to unleash that much ordnance on them and be free of friendly fire. Even though they were Imps they didn’t want to scorch each other, mostly because they would prefer it if no one did the same to them. They got enough of that when Sith were in charge. They took a tactical assessment of the room, noting the lines of lockers, shelves, and armor racks. Brat looked over to Bully and with a nod conveyed his message.

Bully broke from his cover and unleashed his chain-repeater on the still reorganizing Imps. The sound of it’s whirling barrels filled the room, while the sounds of blind fire shooting from Imperials seemed insignificant before it. As Bully moved slowly with his heavy canon Brat began to flank their position. He moved up a row of lockers while keeping low, just in case. Once he reached the first line he instantly began to deal out quick death to all in front of him. They were too distracted from Bully’s canon to notice how swiftly Brat fell on them. With his rifle on full auto Brat marched on the Imps, his cold visor masking his face so it would be the last thing any of the Imps would see in this life. The Imperial soldiers were well trained, devoted, willing, and driven. Each man and woman fighting their own war in their own story, but this day was where it ended. These weren’t mindless drones with no survival drive, with no dreams for themselves. Each one had a lifetime of work and moments and here in this span of time too short to measure against all the years they’d lived there cut down. Violent lives end violently, and with the Wraith Corps this was more than a true statement, it was a mission directive. Brat and Bully knew exactly what they were doing when they took a life, they appreciated the weight and severity of murder. The acknowledgement of their terrible deeds were what set them apart from brutish psychopaths and demented Sith. But even knowing that each man and woman probably wasn’t so different from them they slaughtered all they could. Their morals and ethics had no place for what they were doing, if their conscience kept them up at night it was a insignificant thing stacked against the alternative.

More than their selves were at risk when they entered combat, an entire government that protected and kept trillions beyond counting stood behind them as they held the line. And the only thing that mattered was that these people, regardless of who they were as individuals, were trying to cross their line. It was an unacceptable thought, a scenario they would never see come to fruition. Death would be the only way they would stop their war, and neither planned to die to the multitudes of Imps trying to kill them in return. They had far too much to live for, too much weight rested on their shoulders for them to falter here. Even with the dozens of men and women in their own armory, even with their superior numbers no amount of training or luck could stop Bully and Brat as they continued their death march. Some of the veterans in the room seemed to notice it, it wasn’t a submission, but an acceptance of what was to be. If any of the more green among them knew what was coming they seemed to respond with wild yelling and firing. Most seemed to relegate themselves to a false hope that they might rise the victors. With this grim task still at hand Brat couldn’t fight off a morbid smile as he kept killing, there was something just obscenely funny about the whole dirty business. And better to smile at the sickness of murder than to mentally break before it’s pressure.

After mere minutes that equated to so much fatality it was clear that their target was further in the back. The shouting of the word “Go!” and the following fully armored and ready charge for soldiers into the front room was all the indication they needed. Diving for cover from the rebuking surge of Imps Brat knew that being separated would either make or break their offensive. Before he could formulate a plan he heard Bully’s twisted and altered voice yelling out loudly as he fired his chain-repeater. Bully was the only person, save for maybe Teran, Brat knew that could run while firing one of those heavy canon like weapons. The thing could pour out fifty rounds every three seconds when set loose, so there was naught but concentrated death on the counter-strike the Imps mustered. It was risk over tactics that day for Bully, and it seemed that it was paying off. Brat looked above him to spot a window leading to the further back room, a space he could fit through while they were distracted. The Imps had far too much to handle with Bully tearing through their lines. The Imps had only two wide paths to get out of the back room to them, with no side exits. Bully covered them both like a figure of death incarnate.

Brat shot the thin glass that blurred and separated the rooms, with only two steps he vaulted the nearly seven foot space, placing his hand on the sill where the window had been to swing his legs over. He swung his rifle from his back to his hands once more as he moved through the space. It was mayhem in the back as they tried to rally against Bully, with their numbers thinning far too quickly they knew it was only a matter of time, and so did their commander. Brat spotted him grabbing heavy ordnance. It would seem he was choosing risk over caution. He picked up the rocket launcher and aimed it through the clear alley to Bully. The next moment was too quick. Bully spotted the man and begun to swing his chain-repeater towards him, but it wouldn’t cut through the bodies of the Imps between them quickly enough. Brat sprinted to the man, each step seeming to take ages as the commander aimed. Brat was mildly aware of the men who spotted him who begun to aim at him and open fire. They were secondary, ensuring Bully was okay was primary. Bully saw Brat enter his line of fire and he maneuvered his canon to shoot around him with expertise. Keeping those bolts firing in such an accurate manner was something that only Bully could pull off. The bolts from his canon flew by Brat with only and inch or more to spare, but Brat wasn’t concerned at all. Bully was snuffing out the lives of the Imps that aimed at Brat, Brat was so close to the commander now.

Brat slide to a halt to the commander’s side before he could react to the whole scene. There was no time for him to drop the launcher and get to cover, Brat was too damned fast. With his rifle fully raised, his right eye aiming down the top mounted sights Brat paused gaining most of the commander’s attention in the form on his eye turned to see him barely.

“Still not good enough,” was all Brat said before he pulled the trigger.

The statement wasn’t meant to the commander he just killed, more of a general statement as if he was speaking to the fates themselves. The bolt tore through the man’s head and made his body go limp, the launcher falling harmlessly to the ground. The remaining Imps seemed dismayed as their leader fell dead, though they didn’t seem that way for long as Bully finished his slaughter. Brat bent down and picked off everything that indicated the man’s title and rank. Then the two men, both tired but still alert, looked at each other and with a faint nod walked out of the armory and to the rest of the building.

“Bully and Brat reporting,” Bully said into his radio. “Target down, object secured, moving to plant now.”

They would their way through the building, not expecting a response. There was still death waiting to be dealt out by them.

Stitch was outside of the room holding her two targets. She steadied herself and readied her body for combat. She didn’t shake when battle was near, didn’t get jittery. No, she achieved a calm and presence of mind that most can’t reach while surrounded by total peace and tranquility. It was her iron-clad control and will that made her so able. She wasn’t the most boisterous of the Wild Bunch, but potentially the deadliest. With a slow and deep exhalation she pressed the door switch, sliding it open. She had six seconds, maybe an extra half if they were slow. She moved into the open door space with her rifle raised. Her closest hostile was to her right, and he seemed quick. His blaster pistol was already gripped in his hand, but still in its holster. She aimed down her rifle and took the man’s hands first. He was about to scream in pain but she cut him off immediately by taking out his right knee, as he was dropping she placed two bolts into his chest. The second man in the room to her complete left had his blaster half raised before she spun and planted three bolts near his hip. The pain caused the man to bend at the waist just enough to provide a clear shot to his head. She fired one round just slightly left of the center of the man’s head and he fell over, dead before he knew it. She spun once more and did the same to the first man who was almost to his knees when she looked back at him. One round clear through the head and he was certainly not a threat any more.

There were two men left in the room, and they were her targets. One closer to at desk seemed terrified, while the other took up an ugly snarl on his face as he tried to lift his rifle into his hands. While he lifted Stitch put one bolt into the man’s left elbow making him move slightly, but he only dropped the rifle when she put another into his right shoulder. His arms hung limply at his sides, the rifle on its way to the ground. Before he could twist that snarl of rage into one of terror Stitch put a round through his throat. Even with the cauterizing effects of blaster bolts the soft tissue meant that the man would either die from pain, shock, or more likely drowning. She then trained her rifle on the last man who was on his knees with his hands high and an expression of begging. Stitch finally let her awareness of time speed up. He level of focus wasn’t easy to maintain but it’s rewards were great indeed. She’d allotted herself six whole seconds to kill all her targets, and she dropped three in nearly three seconds. She would round up to four whole seconds to ensure she didn’t feel like she was cheating. Now what her target was saying finally was coherent.

“… and I mean it, I’ll tell you whatever you want to know, just don’t kill me!” the man screamed, trying to gain her attention and hopefully her mercy.

“Quiet,” Stitch said through her helmet, the speaker altering her voice.

She didn’t say it loudly or aggressively, merely with authority. The man cowered and shrunk at her word. She went over to him, slinging her rifle. She wasn’t worried about him making a move, if he thought he could he would have when the numbers where in his favor. From the slight softness at his midsection, the lack of muscle on his arms and shoulders, the way his clothes hung on him, and mostly the look in his eye she could tell this man was no fighter. But fighter or no, he was the one who doled out kill orders, making his hands as bloody as any other Imp. She went over to him, hauled him up with her surprising strength and made him stare at himself in her visor.

“Tell me you’re terrified,” Stitch ordered the man.

“…What? Wh-…”

“Now. Say it,” Stitch told him again with more firmness.

“I’m terrified… okay… I’m scared out of my mind!” the man said.

“Admit that the Empire is done here,” she told him again.

“I… I… we’re done… why…”

“Why are they done here… say it,” Stitch told him, leaning him back further.

“Because… we got sloppy?” at his answer Stitch hit him, just an opened hand slap.

“Because the Wraith Corps is here now, and you can’t hope to stand against us,” Stitch told him.

The man’s eyes widened at the name. The Empire had been buzzing with rampant reports of a black ops unit that was tearing through the contested territory, calling themselves the Wraith Corps. Soon they reached infamy with the Empire and its soldiers. To be standing in a secure command post, on a contested world that was one of the closest to the empire of any contested planet, and have a Wraith stare him in the face cemented the fear he felt in solid fact. The fear on the man’s face was a reward to Stitch.

“Oh my… wha-what do you want… I’ll give you anything… just don’t kill me…” the man said, shaken to his core.

“That was about it,” Stitch said turning off her helmet mounted camera. “Now let’s talk about that intel.”

“I’ll give you complete access to our secure network here… even these terminals are isolated, only way to get to them is from this room… I’ll give you it all,” he said to her, begging more and more.

“Do it,” was all she said as she pushed him to the terminal to access it.

The man looked away from her as he worked to access everything, it was clear he was a coward. Stitch recognized the man from intel photos. She readied her sidearm as he worked.

“There you’re…” the man said with a hopeful smile that died when he saw her blaster. “What are you doing? I got you in… I’ll tell you anything, I swear.”

“Terrance Cayd, rank Lieutenant, labeled “The Mad Bomber” by locals on the planets he served on. Intelligence and irregular warfare listed as specialties. How many civies have you bombed on this planet alone?” Stitch asked him as he shook.

“I did what I had-” was all he managed to say before the bolt tore through his head.

She kicked the corpse away from the terminal as she moved closer to work.

Should have got the execution on camera too she thought to herself.

She began to download the files on the terminal to her protected datapad. While the hundreds and thousands of files transferred to her datapad she read through some of it. All of it was fairly bland or incredibly disturbing. One of the files nearly caught her eye when she heard something outside the door. She readied her rifle and waited for a moment, making sure that nothing lurked outside. When she finally looked back to the terminal the download was finished, the screen telling her she can remove her portable console. She tucked the datapad away in her armored rucksack before she took any identifiers of the officers she was ordered to remove. She left the room feeling fairly good about her day so far.

“This is Stitch, target down, object secure, moving to plant now,” she called over her radio.

Watcher and Joker stacked on the doorway out of the stair well they were in. Watcher waved Joker forward and the man quickly took up a new position out in the hall. There were few men stationed at the prison level with the attack fully underway. Given the level of security that was already present, the shielded windows, armored doors and doorways, locks, cameras and alert systems it wasn’t all too unreasonable to think that a skeleton crew could safely watch the prison. But that was dependant on the attack being a standard affair. With the Wraith Corps around nothing was the SOP. The first checkpoint had a guard in a booth, with ray shield windows. Teran didn’t pause as he overcharged his rifle and blasted clear through the wall beneath the ray shield. The man’s legs were torn from under him as he fell to the ground, his reach safely away from any radio or device that would warn his fellows further down. Teran stuck his rifle through the hole in the wall and fired once more, ending the man quickly. Joker walked up to the hole as Teran moved away, leaning down to see through it. He sighted the control console and threw a small device that was maybe big enough to fit in the center of his palm. It magnetically landed on the console and begun its close-range slice of the console. Within seconds full control was theirs. Joker pressed a button on the wrist mounted datapad and the door in front of them opened for them. As they moved through the space more and more functions became theirs to toy with.

With their vision enhancing helmets their first move was to kill the lights. The world was dark for the briefest moment before it kicked on, then it took a dull green hue that mad things seem alien and off slightly. As they neared the second checkpoint the emergency lights had kicked on, just at the perfect moment. The two men who stood in the open next to their metal detector and handheld scanners weren’t ready for what they saw. Inches from their face, moving too fast to see, were two fully armed and armored men with blades racing towards their throats. Hot blood ran down their blades for a moment before they withdrew their knifes and let the bodies drop. They opened the next door and left the emergency lights on. Even with training the red light that was shining was disorienting and made things not entirely clear and also because it would give the impression that something might be going right for the Imps. Or at least not totally well for the attackers. Moving forward through the hall it was more and more claustrophobic and confining. Not in room or open space really, as the hall was wide enough for a tank with cells lining it, but in feel. It held the sense that no matter what there would be no escape. Truly no light from the outside was visible as they moved, and the dull gray of the walls cast a dreary air to the whole place. The air not frigid or outright cold, but just enough to be uncomfortable. Teran moved with the professionalism that only years of training could produce, every turn of his head, his rifle moved with it. Every step taken was one with purpose and dozens of evasion routes planned. Even his breathing was now at a level to keep him ready and not winded due to overly labored efforts.

They were close now, the sign indicating their location told them that the next corner would lead them to Morena. Joker took up a spot on the corner, waving Teran forward into the next hall. Teran strode forward at a pace not rushed nor slow, but smooth and efficient. Then he heard it. The echoing from the cold, dead walls gave it a graveyard chill. It rung in Teran’s head like a bell signaling all his deepest fears. He could hear Morena screaming out in pain. In that moment too short to measure Teran paused. Brief though it was, it was all that mattered in the coming second. Imperial soldiers sprung from their hiding places and opened fire on Teran, throwing everything they had at the giant man. Teran dove into a roll that put him squarely in cover, but not before a bolt pegged his leg. The heat ate through his armor, but not the body-glove. Instead of a plasma charge eating through his leg, it only felt as if someone took an overly hot iron and pressed it to his skin until it cooled. Thankfully it wouldn’t scar, the body-glove took that brunt, it only left a tender red mark that would need seeing too when they got back. Teran steadied himself and held his rifle tightly as he wrestled back his control. Jones was firing back at the Imps already, but Teran didn’t notice. He needed perfection right now. Everything was counting on it. Morena was counting on it.

Watcher stood from his cover and fired on the closest Imp, laying him down to his death in a moment, two followed immediately after. There was nothing else in Watcher’s world now, there was only the now and the here. Morena’s pain was put aside, Joker’s safety was secondary, and the mission was a distant memory. Watcher became the living embodiment of ideal combat prowess. His mind was quicker than light, his body a machination of blood and tissue that made the highest end war droids seem like scrap metal, and his soul was a steeled resolve that would bring only one thing. Death. He didn’t have time to think about anything, before him stood fourteen dug in men with superior firepower and position. He was fighting a battle that would take at least ten men and a grenade launcher to win, only equipped with what he had. His rifle, and that was more then enough. He fired a duet of bolts to each man, one through the heart, the other tearing at their heads. They seemed so still now, as if stuck or stilled by something. Teran felt something of exhilaration as colors raced past him. They looked so vivid and hot that he dare not touch them despite their odd beauty. He felled two more men before he finally saw her. A woman in tattered clothes, with flaming red hair, and shear willpower burning in her eyes. Something about her seemed familiar and Teran wanted to move faster so he did. More and more the men died and the world finally seemed to resume its normal speed. With his last moment of heightened awareness Teran saw the man near the redheaded woman and fired at the arm he extended to her. She dropped as the bolt tore into his muscle and bone, giving the man more pain than his mind could physically process. But enough to fuel his inhuman powers.

He turned and loosed a wall of invisible force towards Watcher and Joker. Joker took less of the hit, as he was a good ways behind Watcher. The force of the wave ripped them from the ground. The armor was designed for rough landings, taking away a great deal of the pain from crashing loosely on the hard cement floor. Watcher couldn’t keep the grimace off his face as he looked up at the man. His yellow eyes seemed to blaze with rage and hate. And power. Joker stood first and blitzed towards the man, blind with fury. The man jumped out of the way in a series of acrobatic maneuvers that weren’t possible with standard human physiology. When the man finally landed with conviction enough to fight off Joker Watcher made his move. Both of the soldiers knew the score when it came to Sith. You needed to control where they went, how they moved, what they were going to do. If you lost one of these then it was all over. Most important was keep their sabers away from them at all costs. With the Force powering their bodies they were dangerous. With their sabers they were death in a black robe. And for now this one didn’t have time to grab his weapon. Watcher and Joker kept moving, constantly changing their position to avoid becoming a static target. It was working. This mad man’s dash of theirs was paying off as the Sith kept getting moved about how they saw fit, and as much as the small space would allow. When the Sith once more flew through the air, trying to stay mobile, Joker threw a remote mine against the wall he would soon land by. The moment his foot touched the ground once more, and well before he could react the mine went off.

It was truly deafening, to their preparation the earpieces they and their helmets cancelled almost all of the sound. They didn’t waste a moment once the explosion hit. Firing wildly into the smoke they didn’t know if anyone was standing to actually shoot, it didn’t matter. Looking into the illuminated cloud of dust Watcher felt as though something was wrong. Before he could move he was thrown off his feet and into a wall. Even with his armor it hurt as the force that hurled him still pressed against him. Joker wasn’t better off as a moment later he was thrown into the high ceiling and suspended a few feet above the ground. Watcher tried to move but nothing happened, aside from a severe ache in his muscles. The Sith strode out of the darkness, only faint debris soiling his robes. There was a fevered look to his face, and his eyes yellow blazed with hate. More than any other Sith Watcher had seen. His power, quickness, and his avoidance of using his saber meant he was strong. But not stronger than Watcher had predicted. When going into battle against any Sith Watcher made it a priority to treat them as if they were the Emperor himself. Now getting a gauge on how strong he is gave Watcher yet another advantage. At the moment it didn’t seem as though he was in a good position, which is just what he wanted his foe to think. And even with how quick the Sith was moving the sweat that had formed on his forehead, most likely mixed with the pain from his arm, spoke to the fact that Joker and Watcher’s tactics were working. It was all just a matter of time now and waiting for the right moment.

“You small, weak, little armored dogs!…” the Sith started to monologue but was cut short as rubble fell.

The rubble aided by Morena’s hands found the Sith squarely on the head. Instantly Joker and Watcher dropped down and raised their weapons. The Sith reeled back from the hit and seemed dazed. When he turned to see Morena a faint recognition hit his wide eyes. Morena didn’t wait any longer and smashed the rock into his face, bringing blood spurting out towards her. As the Sith fell Morena jumped on him, taking the rock in one hand and proceeded beat him until it was sure there was nothing left. She tore a bit of his robes off and wiped off her face. For a moment she just stared at the man before turning to look at the two men who rescued her. The rubble rock fell from her hands and she seemed to relax.

“Found you…” was all Teran could say as he took off his helmet.

“Yes you did,” Morena said as she ran to his arms.

For a while she didn’t move, didn’t make a sound. Teran wasn’t even sure she was breathing. Then it was over and she regained herself. She looked up to Teran, face to face, and he saw past her current state and beheld the woman he loved. She gave him the most impish smile.

“That is you found me after I told you where to go. Don’t worry your pretty head dear, I’ll resume doing all the thinking for the both of us,” Morena told him with a fake sympathetic pat on his arm before she walked over to Jones.

“And you little brother,” Morena said as she put a hand on his chin, making him look her directly in the eyes. “You need to practice more, you’re aim is still as attractive as a Hutt in a… well I guess just a Hutt works.”

Teran didn’t laugh at her joke sent his way, but was more than happy to laugh at Jones. Jones didn’t seem to mind though, he just hugged his sister with a wide smile as he set her down.

“Are you ready to move Lieutenant?” Teran asked her as he put his helmet back on.

“Yes, for the love of the Gods, get me out of here. But first we have to let all these people out too,” She told them as she started looking around for a weapon on the fallen Imperials.

Watcher nodded to Joker, and with a touch of his wrist mounted datapad he let everyone with an override code. They all flew out of their cells, barely able to control themselves. But they listened well once they saw Watcher by the exit and he told them to get out. There weren’t many of them, maybe near a hundred about, and with their haste it didn’t take long for them all to get out. More than a few slowed when they saw their dead torturer, though they left him alone when Watcher told them to keep moving. Watcher moved over and relieved his body of the lightsaber there. As he looked at the Sith and then to Morena, he could barely control himself. All the things he wanted to say to her, to do with her. The urge to take her somewhere safe and far away that the Republic or Empire could never find. He felt like he wanted to butcher every Sith and Imp all the more, as if in some kind of offering to his goddess. Even more he just wanted to hold her and beg her forgiveness for ever losing her. He watched her for a moment before her eyes found his visor. She had picked up the largest Imp weapon she could find, and to him she was the vision of perfection. There was the briefest flash across her face that said she wanted everything Watcher wanted. He looked away first, not sure what would happen if they let themselves think on it too much. All of that could wait until they were on the ship, safely away from this place. Still plenty of Imps about, and more than enough danger.

“Watcher and Joker reporting, package secure, moving to plant,” was all he said into his radio.

They ran at a mid pace out of the facility, planting charges every few halls. Structure didn’t matter much, given that they were in the lowest level, and they planted enough controlled ordnance to level a city block. The only Imps they seen while they ran out were gunned down instantly by Morena and her large stolen canon. It wasn’t as if they let her, she was just that quick. Soon enough they were beneath open sky. They ran to meet the rest of their waiting team, who were more than a little bit animated than the three of them had been in the base. Bully smiled a wide smile and picked her up over his head by her waist as if she was a small child. Stitch gave her a quick hug, before starting a once over of her condition. Brat gave her a long hug, once he let her go though he gave her an exact detailing of how bad she looked. Morena would typically have a bit of a back and forth with him but this time she just smiled at him and mussed his hair. Watcher was on his radio the whole while, standing by the large windows of the building they were in. Outside of them the base sat with a few plumes of smoke coming out, though largely intact.

“Valkyrie, as our returning squad mate we have a gift for you. Look out the windows, and be ready, it’s all we could think that you’d really want,” Teran said as he flipped the switch in his hands.

The command center exploded with much fanfare, a blinding light, and a shockwave that felt like a rancor best kicked you. They didn’t flinch from any of it though. They all just watched with warm smiles as the place was laid to waste.

“Oh you guys, it’s just what I wanted… how’d you know?” Morena said with fake sobs of joy.

“Honestly sis, you’ve always been easy to shop for,” Jones said to her as he put an arm around her.

“Let’s get off this rock, and get you back to the ship, I’d like to give you a proper exam” Stitch said as she called in for extraction.

“Hey Stitch, you got to get in line behind Watcher,” Brat said with a large laugh at his own joke.

“No lines, he can watch… if he’s into that sort of thing,” Morena joked, making the whole group laugh.

Teran laughed loudest before abruptly stopping, his face completely serious, saying yes to the offer. Stitch pushed him away playfully, and got protective of Morena. Jests and quips flew about as they waited for their extraction. Around them a war could be heard, with ships flying to take back the skies for the Republic’s allies. It mattered little, now that they were a family again. There was a lot that wasn’t being said that they could all feel. But now wasn’t the time, on the ship, when they were safe, that was the time. Watcher was amazed, even as noticeably shaken and scared as she was Morena wasn’t breaking down, no matter how much she seemed to want to. As the shuttle back to the ship landed, Teran was happy now, thinking he might get a good night’s sleep for the first time in months.
I will never surrender, I will free the Earth and skies... N7 Loyalist

imperialmerc's Avatar

07.26.2012 , 09:02 PM | #6
Took me a while to find this. Great story man am I wrong that the drop scene was inspired by Halo's ODSTs?
Lagro level 55 Mercenary Sezzid level 55 Vanguard
Cezzid level 55 Operative Tuckeer level 30 Gunslinger
Snefru level 55 Sith Juggernaut Kell'ia level 23 Jedi Sage
Liadra level 14 Sith Assassin You're going down

General_Malor's Avatar

07.27.2012 , 11:29 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by imperialmerc View Post
Took me a while to find this. Great story man am I wrong that the drop scene was inspired by Halo's ODSTs?
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. ^_^

And yes, Helljumpers inspired me a great deal. Well I wrote the first draft of this around the time ODST came out and I always thought that Helljumpers were awesome. So this is my ode to them, but I gave them the ability to charge through sitting up because it seemed much more regal to attack while mounted nobly on a steel steed. Keeping it more in line with space operas and not science fiction.

I just hope that one day I'll get around to finishing this story and the thirteen other series it links to. Maybe I'll get them all up, but as for now I'm still writing away, still modifying(hopefully for the better), and extremely expanding this story and all those others.

Sadly this installment might get edited too, so it better fits and meets my expectations. Either way there are nine more chapters to this story that I still have yet to post. Working as my own editor both speeds and slows my progress. So one day you just might see a complete Soldier's Journey. ^_^
I will never surrender, I will free the Earth and skies... N7 Loyalist

imperialmerc's Avatar

07.28.2012 , 06:13 AM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by General_Malor View Post
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. ^_^

And yes, Helljumpers inspired me a great deal. Well I wrote the first draft of this around the time ODST came out and I always thought that Helljumpers were awesome. So this is my ode to them, but I gave them the ability to charge through sitting up because it seemed much more regal to attack while mounted nobly on a steel steed. Keeping it more in line with space operas and not science fiction.

I just hope that one day I'll get around to finishing this story and the thirteen other series it links to. Maybe I'll get them all up, but as for now I'm still writing away, still modifying(hopefully for the better), and extremely expanding this story and all those others.

Sadly this installment might get edited too, so it better fits and meets my expectations. Either way there are nine more chapters to this story that I still have yet to post. Working as my own editor both speeds and slows my progress. So one day you just might see a complete Soldier's Journey. ^_^
Can't wait to read them!
Lagro level 55 Mercenary Sezzid level 55 Vanguard
Cezzid level 55 Operative Tuckeer level 30 Gunslinger
Snefru level 55 Sith Juggernaut Kell'ia level 23 Jedi Sage
Liadra level 14 Sith Assassin You're going down