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Imperial Special Projects: The Seven

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
Imperial Special Projects: The Seven

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
06.10.2012 , 02:54 AM | #41
Attack on Vertex Systems – Part Three

Standing at the precipice of their destination, Sebastus took no more moments of pause, directing himself to the secure door’s control panel. Removing the protective wall coverings, the agent revealed the innards of the electronic systems, along with the port for the security spike. Inserting the device, the spike was beginning to do its work. After the usual five seconds of processing, the spike’s intrusion program had run its course and the door began to part down the middle. However, to the duo’s surprise, the door immediately stopped a moment later before promptly re-shutting.

“That… is not supposed to happen,” Sebastus declared, a flutter in his usual stoicism.

“What’s the matter?” Aurek hastily inquired.

“The security spike is supposed to override practically any form of security lockout. It’s potency comes from the fact that it requires a manual port. The facility should not have a countermeasure.”

“Dorn, any ideas?” Aurek chatted into his comm.

“Well, a security spike works by manually ‘intruding’ into a system. The only way to counter it… is to manually ‘defend’ against said intrusion,” Dorn disclosed.

“Meaning?” Aurek inquired.

“The A.I. is actively preventing out progress,” Sebastus proclaimed. “It must be literally rewriting and adding codes as fast as the spike can break through them.”

“Then we do this the hard way,” Aurek stated as he unslung the duffel bag from his shoulder. Unzipping the bag, Aurek revealed a number of detonation charges, and took one in his hand.

“No. No. No. This door is too heavily fortified, even for the breaching devices,” Sebastus informed.

“Kind of defeats the point of them then, doesn’t it? Can we just set the whole lot to explode?” Aurek wondered.

“There’s a chance we’ll need them to bring the administrational systems offline,” Sebastus declared. Aurek looked around the room, trying to think of any ideas, when suddenly he saw the door they had entered from shut. Before he could even begin to wonder, a swarm of messages from his squad mates flooded the comm.

“Whoa, what happened? I’m locked in here,” Esk admitted.

“The door behind me just shut,” Besh detailed.

“Front and rear doors locked. Enemies still pouring out of side entrances,” Cresh informed amidst sounds of blast fire.

“I can confirm that the first door you guys bypassed just closed itself,” Dorn reported. Scratching the back of his helm, Aurek began to pace in front of the still secured door.

“This isn’t good,” Aurek stated.

“Aurek, you need to stay focused. We have to get into the administrative offices,” Sebastus proclaimed.

“We have to go back,” Aurek declared.

“We’re past the point of no return,” Sebastus admitted. “It would take too long to re-bypass the doors and make it out of the inhibitor range. We have to move forward.”

“I’m not abandoning my squad!”

“You’re not. You’re completing your mission!”

“They’ll die!”

“… IF we don’t take down that inhibitor!” Sebastus exclaimed. Aurek stared at the agent, then the door, then his hands. His eyes darted across his HUD, hastily looking at his squad’s biometric and statistical data. With every moment of inaction, time passes away and the next pulse of the inhibitor draws ever closer.

“Dorn. Any more ideas?

“Sorry, I can’t think of any way to out-security as sophisticated an A.I. as they supposedly have. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. There’s still a couple of minutes till the next pulse. Plenty of time to get the shuttle out of range. You might be able to get our… regroup… or maybe…” Aurek suggested.

“I’m sorry sir. But I’m afraid I can’t do that. And I think Grek would agree. We’re staying.”

“What if I ordered you to leave?”

“Wouldn’t be the first time we disobeyed an order,” Dorn admitted.

“…” Grek’s comm rapidly opened and closed, conveying a positive message.

“You’ve never let us down before sir,” Dorn declared, accompanied shortly after by a resounding supply of ‘aye’s from the rest of his squad. Turning back to the door, Aurek was ready to proceed.

“We’re going to do a manual override. Agent, insert a new security spike,” Aurek commanded. Sebastus did not hesitate, wasting no precious time with unneeded questions. The heavy door parted once more from its center. Immediately Aurek thrust his hands into the gap, taking hold of each half. Bracing himself, the trooper was able to prevent the doors from closing. Shifting his foot and shoulder, Aurek managed to expand the gap slightly as he put all of his strength and energy into keep the door from closing.

“Sebastus! GO!” Aurek ordered. The agent immediately complied, ducking under the armored soldier and entering into the control center, taking a detonation charge with him. Unable to keep the doors apart any longer, Aurek released his grip falling backward.

“Aurek, the next pulse should be coming up any second!” Dorn hastily informed.

“Agent? How are you doing in there?” Aurek insistently asked into his comm. “Agent? Agent?! AGENT?!” No response. Seconds left until every offensive and defensive capability of the Seven would be rendered inert. “Damn it!”

Looking around the room, Aurek looked to the electronic spire that ran through all the layers of the facility. He didn’t know if it was connected to the inhibitor, whether it’s purpose was transferring power, directing signals, or just making the place look fancy. But the trooper had no other choice. Aurek reached into his duffel bag and began to activate as many of the detonation charges as he could. Then not a moment later, he chucked the bag of explosives over the safety rail and into the pit below. There was a slight fluctuation in the energies given off by the mechanical column, but those would have to be interrupted by the large explosion going off below.

The electrical energies arcing off the spire flailed wildly, lashing out beyond its once contained radius. Below, the detonation had created a gap in the column, disconnecting it from whatever power sources fueled it from the lowest level beneath the planet’s surface. The tower let out a mechanical death cry, lightning arcing off the disconnected segment, lashing out at the surrounding level Aurek currently stood upon. Rotating and pulsing the destructive energies would leave a winding scorch mark on the wall where it would connect to before ultimately dissipating. Then silence. Then darkness. The main generator powering the facility had been disrupted, and the entire interior had powered down. It’s droid armament hadn’t however.

Viewing the world through the red-shift of their vision enhancing helmets, the slowly marching droid armada populating the halls of the production facility refused to yield. Besh continued to snipe any droid that entered his view at the end of the narrow hallway, starting to build a natural barrier with their shattered chassis. Cresh, pistol in each hand, split his attention between both influxes of battle droids from the two entrances of the half-locked down room. Forn engaged the electrostaff wielding droids in melee combat, expertly severing servos and disrupting cores, putting down any who would dare enter the reach his arms would allow. Esk meanwhile, found no new opponents to use his new weapon against, much to his relative disappointment. The squad continued, because they were allowed to continued, free of inhibition.

“Aurek! Whatever you guys did, it worked! The inhibitor is reading as offline,” Dorn informed. “You can signal Major Synric to begin his assault.” Dorn found nothing but silence from his squad leader. “Aurek?” Aurek, are you there?”

Crumpled on the ground, Aurek leaned against the circular wall that wrapped around the room, the wall bearing an indentation from where the soldier impacted against it when he was knocked back by the explosion. Black scorch marks passing behind him, through him, showing the apparent path of a wild arc of electricity. Motionless, Aurek sat. And continued to sit.

“Guys, something’s wrong. I can’t contact Aurek or Agent Sebastus,” Dorn relayed over the comm.

“Having our own troubles here, Dorn,” Besh admitted, trying to distinguish between new targets and shifting chassis upon the ground.

“Besh, are you behind the door right now?” Esk inquired over the comm.

“Technically, I’m in front of it…” Besh replied.

“Well, don’t be,” Esk declared. The sniper had only moment to raise himself from his prone position and venture away from the nearby door. A detonation occurred on the other side of the security door, folding it out from the explosion. Looking through newly created gap, Besh saw Esk standing proud, a weapon in each hand, one possessing a belt magazine that drug against the ground, bearing a series of molded grenades.

“No fair. I get my rifle taken away by Reclamation and you get not one, but two new toys,” Besh muttered as he walked through the compromised barrier.

Esk did the same for the door opposite the sight of destruction, opening the room to the one in which Cresh and Forn continued to battle against the numerous advancing fronts of battle droids. Forn found himself locked in a scrap with one of the electrostaff droids, knives locked with the pole weapon. Before he could press the attack, the hunter saw the droid’s cranium explode in a fit of red energy as an expertly placed bolt from Besh’s rifle impacted against it. Forn elicited a slight grumble as the two troopers entered the fray, before turning his attention toward the droids hounding Cresh. Esk fired a grenade down both corridors supplying additional battle droids, before turning his attention toward the security door resting between the squad and their squad leader.

Blowing past the metallic barrier, the four troopers marched forward through the darkness. It wasn’t long before they were upon the spinal, multi-tiered corridor that connected to the facility’s administrative control center. Walking along the rightward path, the soldiers immediately noticed their fallen leader sitting upon the ground, leaning against the scorched and battered wall. Suffering from an unknown electrical current, Aurek’s biometric data had apparently frozen at the moment of impact, providing inaccurate readings. Cresh patched into his squad leader’s systems, checking to see if he was still breathing. With a sigh of relief, he in fact was.

With a groan, Aurek came to, rotating his aching neck and shoulders. Looking around, Aurek saw his squad mates standing around him, looking down with their shrouded visages. Looking past his fellow troopers, Aurek saw the devastation wrought on the level in which he currently sat by the detonation he had created.

“If anyone asks… Esk did this,” Aurek muttered into the team comm, eliciting a round of laughter from the gathered squad mates. Putting a hand to his temple, Aurek opened communications with the Ulterior. “Major Synric. The inhibitor array has been dealt with. You are free to proceed with your operation.”


“Understood,” Major Synric replied. Standing on the Ulterior’s bridge, the Major overlooked a tactical diagram of the facility projected in a three dimension fabrication. Accompanied by diagnostics, tactical, and supporting officers, Major Synric stood at attention, his hands clasping together behind his back, and ready to proceed. “Ulterior Battalion… move out."

From the numerous hangars of the Imperial dreadnaught emerged the many manifestations of Imperial prowess. Fighters and bombardiers rapidly entered the planet’s atmosphere and proceeded along planned attack vectors. The automated defenses managed to draw upon secondary sources of power generation, but their response time and calibration had taken a remarkable hit since the strike teams intrusion. Measured bombing runs took out the array of turrets that remained operational, yet left the system of supply lines ultimately intact.

Following the initial surge of air superiority, a number of Imperial shuttles bearing entire platoons within their holds descended upon the facility. True, militarized shuttles, bearing empirical insignias and built to perform as one might expect a vessel of war. Small plumes of smoke slowly rose across the landscape from positions hit by the previous aerial forces. Touching down toward the facility’s base, squads of Imperial troopers stormed out of their shuttles and began to assault the remaining automated forces resting with the installation.


With the help of his squad mates, Aurek raised himself from his grounded position. Before he could utter another word, he saw the heavy security door had begun to fully part. From beyond its threshold, Agent Sebastus walked out, straightening his coat as he approached the troopers.

“Dr. Volun and the A.I. have been dealt with,” Sebastus informed. Looking upon the soldiers, the agent took a short moment to examine his surroundings. “I suppose this was your way of disabling the inhibitor?”

“Correct,” Aurek admitted. “What happened in there? We lost contact.”

“The control station appears to be utterly insulated from outside interference. It likely blocked all comm signals in and out. For a moment, I thought the inhibitor might had remained operational but unable to pierce its walls. I see, however, that is not the case,” Sebastus declared. Looking down, Aurek saw that the agent was firmly grasping a smooth, metallic slab within his right hand.

“Might I ask what you’ve got there?” Aurek inquired.

“Information,” Sebastus answered. “Might I suggest we vacate the premises? I’d rather not be bogged down in the quarrels between the battalion and the remaining droids.”

“I can’t say I disagree,” Aurek admitted. “Time to return to the shuttle.”

The strike team moved out, heading back to Dorn and Grek with spoils in hand and a sense of accomplishment. There appeared to be no droids between the squad and their destination and the security lockdown had seemingly been lifted. Passing through the final door that rest between themselves and their ride, the strike team was greeted with a fascinating sight. Grek stood upon the edge of the lowered platform, in his hands, his trusted heavy repeater. Instead of the traditional energy cell near the handle, the weapon was directly connected to a powered outlet in the cargo bay via a thick cable. Seeing his squad mates return, the giant offered a hearty wave of his hand as he lowered his weapon.

Clearing himself from the entrance ramp, Grek moved out of the way as the Imperials slowly made their way back aboard the shuttle before disconnecting the clasped winch. Free of any entanglements, the shuttle pulled away from the production facility and began its journey back to the Ulterior, passing over the constantly shifting scene that unfolded below them.


As the Imperials returned to the Ulterior, they docked the shuttle in its usual hangar, though setting down amongst an unusual scene of mechanics and service droids maintaining the returning fighters and shuttles. Reports were already coming in that the prime manufactory was all but completely under Imperial control. Projections showed that the battalion could readily continue their assault and take the other facilities connected to it. Major Synric had momentarily halted proceedings in order to give Vertex Systems a chance for peaceful surrender. Regardless, the Seven had completed their mission, as had Agent Sebastus, and each intended on returning to their usual stations.

One by one, the members of the Seven exited the shuttle, until only Aurek and Sebastus remained aboard in the passenger area. Outside, Aurek could hear Esk having a peculiar conversation with the weapon’s technician regarding his newly acquired piece of technology. The squad leader let out a soft chuckle.

“Sometimes I wonder how we get anything accomplished,” Aurek jocularly stated.

“You and your men did good out there, Aurek,” Sebastus admitted. “Your squad has always been something of a peculiarity to me ever since we met back on Tatooine. I would never have been able to place your actual skill levels, or guess at what you were actually capable of accomplishing… but after today, I finally see that you are a team of capable individuals.”

“I know it may not seem like much, but thank you agent,” Aurek offered. “I got emotional back in the facility. You kept me focused in a time when it was absolutely necessary. The Seven isn’t used to such… constraints. I mean, we’re used to limitations, just not ones like we faced today. It feels strange performing in an honest to goodness operation.”

“You’re more than a capable leader,” Sebastus admitted. “And you’ve managed to squeeze out whatever talent might had laid dormant in these soldiers. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less out of you… isn’t that right, Mr. Kaven?” Aurek immediately directed his gaze toward the stoic agent, who refused to break of his own stare.

“How?” Aurek inquired with a hushed insistence.

“I figured it out. It’s kind of my business. Then again, you tend to remember the voices of war heroes,” Sebastus declared.

“Derro Kaven is dead,” Aurek proclaimed.

“Oh, of that I have no doubts,” Sebastus admitted. “Officially anyways. What was it? Casualty of the Sacking of Coruscant?”

“This is dangerous information to possess, agent,” Aurek proclaimed.

“Oh, of that I also have no doubts,” Sebastus repeated. “I have no intentions of disrupting whatever it is that your Director is trying to achieve. However, I feel I must warn you. All too often, those without names, those without faces… they tend to fall through the cracks. Discarded and forgotten.”

“It is not my intention nor desire to be remembered… to wallow in fame and admiration.”

“And yet you find yourself in a situation where both currently befall to you. You and your squad are skilled. The Empire will always take notice of that. And you’ve earned your squad mates’ admiration. Their trust. At this point, that is the very last thing you should reject.”

Without another word, Agent Sebastus began to descend the shuttle ramp, Aurek silently watching as he ventured deeper into the Ulterior. Alone, the trooper could only bask in his own silence and uncertainty. Slowly, he breathed. He blinked. He thought to think, but nothing came. Only the chaotic calm.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
06.10.2012 , 01:21 PM | #42
On the next episode of The Seven: “In The Dark”

----------
“Gentlemen, your next assignment involves another of the Imperial Special Projects. A subterranean bio-weapons research facility known as the Dirge Project.”

“How many of these things are there anyways?”
----------
“There are other Sith Alchemists whom would seek to cheat death. Our purpose… was to perfect it.”
----------
“You mean zombies?”

“Whatzies?”

“Zombies. You know. Reanimated dead. It’s almost like they’re like a rite of passage for Sith Alchemists. Every once in a while when they pop open a tomb on Korriban they’ll find the things guarding the place.”

“…”

“What? I have a lot of free time to read in my quarters…”
----------
“Doesn’t feel right. Sending in one project to clean up the failures of another one. I mean, who would they send after us if we failed?”

“That would first require us to fail. Which I don’t plan on doing any time soon.”
----------
“Is it just me, or does there seem to be a recurring theme of us infiltrating mysterious facilities featuring large, ominous doors?”
----------
“What the hell was that thing?!”

“Something different…”
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“There was nothing about this during the debriefing! We did not prepare for this!”
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“Forn? Forn! Damn it, where are you?!”
----------
“Almost… got it…”

“Dorn! Look out!”
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“I’m afraid you and your squad won't be making it out alive…”
----------

Tune in next episode, when the Seven must descend into the darkness of mystery, of intrigue, of betrayal… of death.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
06.17.2012 , 10:45 PM | #43
Episode III

In the Dark

Prologue: The Mission

The Seven sat in their usual positions around the Ulterior’s conference room table. Joining them were two figures. One familiar, and one not. The Director stood in her typical pre-mission position, in her traditional pre-mission stance. The new figure causing a stir amongst the armored troopers was that of a Sith Pureblood. Garbed in all white, the Sith appeared the part of scientist, pristine lab coat oddly syncing up with the Director’s regal clothing.

“Alright, I’m going to be the one who says it… what’s with the Sith?” Esk candidly inquired. The surrounding soldier’s slightly dipped there head in response to the demolitionist's outburst.

“Might you show a little bit of respect to ‘the Sith’?” Dorn chided, emphasizing on the unfamiliar man’s lineage and assumed place within the Empire.

“What? We’ve all managed to take down a Sith or two thanks to our time on Tatooine. Kind of removes the intimidation factor,” Esk confessed.

“Technically, I never got a kill-shot in on one of the cultists,” Cresh plainly admitted.

“Huh. Weird,” Esk nonchalantly commented.

“Gentlemen, your next assignment involves another of the Imperial Special Projects. A subterranean bioweapons research facility known as the Dirge Project,” the Director stated, attempting to regain control of the room. As soon as the woman spoke, the troopers knew to immediately reign themselves to silence. “This man was the Director of said project.”

“Never thought I’d see Director of another Project. How many of these things are there anyways?” Esk pondered aloud.

“Such information is not available to either of us, I must confess,” the Director of the Seven stated.

“Does this Sith have a name? Or is he just known as the Director as well?” Aurek curiously inquired.

“Because of recent events in regard to his project, and its dissolution, his status as Director and the confidentiality that comes with it has been revoked,” the Director informed.

“My name is Darth Terminus, Sith Alchemist,” the Pureblood spoke up. “I headed the Dirge Project, an endeavor combining powerful Dark-side teachings with advanced bioweapons research. There are other Sith Alchemists whom would seek to cheat death. Our purpose… was to perfect it.”

“So you were engineering a virus,” Aurek suggested.

“In the simplest of terms, yes. However, when the Force is involved, there is little that is simple. Through the power of Sith Alchemy we are able to produce long-term effects on items and living creatures. With careful application, the line between ‘magic’ and ‘science’ is non-existent.”

“Then why all the fuss? The science ministry can’t cook up its own plagues?” Aurek wondered.

“As with any contagion, there is a chance for uncontrolled outbreak,” Terminus informed. “With science alone, one might engineer a deadly virus, but it cannot be controlled after its release. And then, you can’t account for alien biology and immunities. With the Dirge Project, we went down to what connects every being of every species in the galaxy. Life and death itself.”

The troopers looked to each other and had nothing to offer one another but the occasional shrug.

“The Force is connected to all life,” Terminus commented. “If you can manipulate the Force, you can manipulate life itself, regardless of genealogy. Sith Alchemists possess the ability to spawn creatures and beasts of darkness. We simply worked on a microscopic scale. We created a virus that could transfer across all known species, be effectively controlled, and have built in failsafes.”

“But…” Aurek interrupted.

“But… there were some complications at the facility. We were in the middle of production and testing, when the virus was unleashed on the facility’s inhabitants. I was the only one to escape. Everyone else was trapped below the surface.”

“I don’t see where my squad might come in,” Aurek confessed.

“The virus in not… entirely unique. In the beginning, we had hope to get our hands on the research of Darth Drear, but the alchemist had managed to hide away the notes of his legact. Instead we turned to another alchemical creation. The Rakghoul.”

“Rakghouls? The contagious mutants of Taris?” Aurek curiously inquired.

“They were originally the creation of one Darth Muur. He engineered the rakghoul plague to facilitate spreading his influence. We had used them as a design for our virus’s propagation.”

“You mean being spread by violent, physical contact.”

“Exactly. The Dirge virus killed whomever it infected, however, the virus would reanimate the infected and drive them toward a singular goal, spread the infection.”

“You mean zombies?” Cresh chimed in.

“Whatzies?” Esk confusingly asked.

“Zombies. You know. Reanimated dead,” Cresh informed. “It’s almost like they’re like a rite of passage for Sith Alchemists. Every once in a while when they pop open a tomb on Korriban they’ll find the things guarding the place.”

The rest of the squad turned to stare at the trooper in silence.

“What? I have a lot of free time to read in my quarters…”

“Gentlemen, please, if we could get back on track,” the Director stated. “The Dirge project had numerous goals with the virus. That after a certain period of time, the ‘undead’ would eventually succumb to complete decay and permanently die off. This meant it could be unleashed on a population, and we could sit back and wait for the virus to eliminate a percentage of the organics, leaving inorganic assets mainly intact. It was also set to be inert whilst outside a gravitational field or in a vacuum to prevent unnecessary outbreaks.”

“Guess you should have researched it in orbit then. So what’s the matter, can’t we just ‘wait it out’?” Aurek inquired.

“As I said before, we were in the middle of testing,” Darth Terminus repeated. “Unfortunately, the safeguards could not be properly implemented before the outbreak within the facility. We are still picking up movements from within. Three months after the initial outbreak. One month beyond the projected finality decay.”

“So you want us to go in there and clean up your mess?” Aurek coldly suggested.

“Friggin’ Sith,” Esk muttered.

“The virus is transmitted through bites and scratches from the infected undead. Your sealed armor would ensure your safety from any harmful organic contact or secondary transmissions,” the Director confessed.

“So we’re tasked with wiping out the infected?” Aurek inquired.

“Not exactly. The Dirge project was comprised, which means it needs to be utterly liquidated. Information. Supplies. Assets. Your task will be purging the facility. Wiping a series of data terminals and initiating a self-destruct sequence,” the Director informed.

“All of which must be done manually I take it,” Aurek confessed, audibly bothered by the proceedings.

“Correct,” Darth Terminus took over. “The Seven will enter the facility. The entrance will be guarded by a secondary line of defense, to insure no unwanted contaminants exit the facility.” Aurek let out an audible sigh at the Sith's words.

“Do we have maps? Any details on the facility’s interior? Any idea what we should prepare for?” Aurek insistently inquired.

“Don’t worry Aurek. I have been and will continue to confer with Terminus in order to provide your squad with the utmost details regarding your mission while you prepare your load out,” the Director admitted.

With a nod, Aurek silently rose from his seat and made his way toward the conference room’s exit, his squad mates following close behind. Venturing out into the hallway, the group continued toward the armory in relative silence, until Besh started to speak up.

“Curious, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mission briefing go like that,” Besh commented. “Usually you’re all eagerness and positivity around the Director.”

“This is different. Whether you all realize it or not, I do take into consideration some very integral calculations before I put any of us into harm’s way,” Aurek confessed. “Our mission against the cultists was new, unknown, but ultimately measured. Our attack on Vertex Systems was a dangerous endeavor, but we still had support from Intelligence and the Captain. Now… now we’re being sent in alone against something none of us have faced simply because of an incompetent group of Sith.”

“Doesn’t feel right. Sending in one project to clean up the failures of another one,” Besh mused. “I mean, who would they send after us if we failed?”

“That would first require us to fail. Which I don’t plan on doing any time soon,” Aurek stated, adamant.

“Well, the first step to avoiding failure is prevention,” Dorn informed. “Anyone here know how one goes about killing the undead? Cresh?”

“Hey, I just read a little bit about them. Nothing significant,” Cresh admitted.

“Forn’s good at killing, I’m sure he knows,” Esk joked.

“Mandalorians have encountered rakghouls in the past. As with any aberrant creature, you just have to do enough damage to whatever’s driving it. Assuming the creatures still utilize the host’s nervous system, one might be able to effectively cripple it by removing the head or destroying the brain,” Forn detailed.

“Wow, wasn’t actually expecting an answer on that one,” Esk admitted. “Still planning on getting into melee scraps with these things?”

“I never leave without my knives. But I doubt I’ll be relishing any sort of challenge. There’s no merit to overcoming a rakghoul. It’s just survival against an utterly primal beast, lashing out whilst guided by a single motivating thought,” Forn revealed.

“I’m starting to think you enjoyed our time on Tatooine a bit too much. Speaking of which, I think I’ll take my scattergun,” Esk admitted.

“What makes you think it’ll be an effective weapon?” Dorn inquired. The demolitionist only offered a shrug as his immediate response. As the squad drifted ever closer to the ship’s armory, the trooper’s slowly drifted apart, until Aurek and Besh found themselves walking a good distance ahead of the squad.

“I must admit,” Besh whispered, “It is strange seeing the squad more enthused about a mission than you, Aurek. Even Dorn should have offered a flurry of protests by now. And you know I’m not one to throw myself into life-threatening situations, but I don’t find myself utterly turned off by this mission. What’s bothering you?”

“I guess it’s just the nature of Special Projects,” Aurek replied. “How is it, that a Sith Alchemist that is a certified Darth managed to enact a project only to drive it into the ground. There are so many holes. In the design. In the explanations. I mean, look at us. Do you see any glaring problems with our squad? Any overt flaws in our armor’s designs? No, because that's what makes us the Seven. We work because we were designed to work. How could another project proceed so inadequately?

“Maybe it’s just a testament to how effective the Director is at… well… directing,” Besh offered. “I mean, doesn’t a Project only need a progenitor and funding. In our position, we can’t know how many special projects there are, and how many of them succeed or fail. Maybe we’re lucky. Maybe we’re the norm. Who knows?”

“Yeah… who knows?” Aurek softly muttered.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Adwynyth's Avatar


Adwynyth
06.22.2012 , 03:05 AM | #44
By the way, what I said about Acolyte Ascension goes for this one, too.

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
07.07.2012 , 10:38 PM | #45
Chapter One: The Descent

The Imperial shuttle bearing the Seven began its slow descent from the stormy atmosphere of the uncharted planet. Dorn darted his gaze to and from the various consoles and readings presented to him on the vessel’s displays as they turbulently passed through the crackling cloud cover. Below the storming skies, the visible surroundings offered little more in the way of solace. Petulant jungles stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. Dark woods and dark skies culminated in a vision comparable to the most chaotic regions of Dromund Kaas. And they evoked a similar sense of dread as well. Below the lowering shuttle rest a sizable clearing, obviously manmade, in which a small group of Imperials had already establish an outpost. The sprouting environment had been stripped, if not peeled back, to allow the Empire to conduct its businesses free of the burdensome foliage long ago.

Gently touching down amongst the flowing grass, the shuttle let out a mechanical sigh as it rested fully on its extended legs and began the shutting down its numerous processes under the steady falling of rainwater. As the entry ramp began its slow deployment, the assortment of seemingly standard Imperial soldiers stationed at the site offered little more than an errant glance to the new arrivals. Aurek was the first to exit the craft and approach the raised tents and canopies of the hastily constructed outpost. Stepping out into the rain, Aurek possessed a black cloak draped over his shoulders. The heavy cape enwrapped the trooper's torso and stretched down to below his knees, granting his armor some protection from the downpour of rain. Passing through the brief clearing, Aurek approached the makeshift command center. To his right, there was a tiny structure, no larger than the starship he had arrived in. A simplistic block of construction materials, only a single closed pair of doors graced the facing surface. In front of it a safe distance away, a line of fortified Imperials soldiers knelt, blasters pointed toward the building’s exit, unfazed by the continuing rain.

Aurek passed through the flap of canvas that formed the exterior barrier of the command center. A desk bearing a miniature holo-emitter displayed a fuzzy diagram of what appeared to be the facility. In front of it, a helmless soldier looking upon it with disdain. Stern. Middle aged. Authoritative. Sensing Aurek’s presence, the un-helmed trooper wiped all expression from his face before turning to face the new arrival.

“Aurek. My name is Lieutenant Irom,” the lieutenant informed with a dreary drawl. “I’ve been told you and your men are prepared to enter the facility?”

“Correct,” Aurek plainly answered.

“I must warn you. My company specializes in containing… outbreaks. Should we have any reason to believe any member of your squad has become compromised… they will not be permitted to leave.”

“I understand, Lieutenant,” Aurek conceded.

“Good. You have your orders. I have mine. I do not know the details of what you will be doing below. My only responsibility is to prevent any contaminated material from exiting that door,” Lieutenant Irom coldly informed.

“How much do you know of the outbreak?” Aurek inquisitively inquired.

“Spread through physical contact. Similar to Rakghoul plague. Eliminate vectors, contain outbreak. Don’t care how it got there. Don’t care how it gets out. Only that it doesn’t. After you finish your mission, you will be forced to submit to decontamination, and we will remain until we are recalled.”

“Your men look pretty dug in,” Aurek commented. “Have you encountered anything leaving the facility yet?”

“Not yet,” Lieutenant Irom stated. “The facility appears to be on heavy lockdown. After you enter, however, the infected may find it easier to exit.”

“We’ll make sure we don’t leave the way out unguarded. Don’t need to send unnecessary trouble your way,” Aurek admitted.

“With all due respect, Mr. Aurek, my men are more suited to dealing with these kinds of situations than your squad,” Lieutenant Irom commented. “I’ve heard stories of your men and their remarkable deeds. But this isn’t a job for soldiers. My men have been conditioned for this. I don’t believe you can say the same. What you’ll face… it won’t be men. It won’t be machines. And it won’t be beasts. You’ll be fighting the darkness. Combating the insubstantial manifestations of your mind. Your greatest enemies will be yourselves. Stay ever vigilant as you descend. I’ve lost more men than I care to admit. Often, fate has forced my hand to sever the stricken from my flock. I pray the same fate not befall you.” Aurek steadily processed the Lieutenant’s words behind an apparently steady visage.

“Have any advice for me and my men?” Aurek muttered, almost whispering.

“Purity comes at the cost of destruction. Purge with the cleansing flame,” Lieutenant Irom brokenly stated. Aurek could only guess at the peculiar officer’s meaning as he retreated from the tent. Stepping out into the rain, the rest of the squad was descending the shuttle’s entry ramp and converging under the outpost’s various canopies. Gathering around a vacant table, the Seven looked to their squad leader as the rainwater slowly dripped from the base of their cloaks.

“Squad. Equipment check,” Aurek commanded. Immediately, the troopers retrieved their assortment of weapons and blasters from beneath their black ponchos and laid them neatly upon the table they encircled. The diversification of arms was readily apparent as the soldiers each bared their unique equipment. Besh retained his favorite sniper rifle from the armory. Cresh utilized his trademark pair of blaster pistols. Dorn had opted for a close quarters carbine in lieu of the traditional rifle. Esk had his scattergun from Tatooine, and had convinced the Director to procure more than enough shells to fully populated the bandoliers that crossed beneath his cloak. Forn had his dual blades, forgoing any caution in avoiding a melee with the infected, and a backup rifle upon a sling. Grek wielded a two-handed, rapid fire blaster rifle, considerably smaller than his trusty heavy repeater but nonetheless a nonstandard piece of armament. Curiously enough, the giant still bored a familiar black footlocker upon his back. Aurek laid the squad’s traditional interfacing blaster rifle upon the table, followed by a lightsaber a short moment later.

“Really, Aurek?” Besh coldly offered at the sight of the weapon.

“Melee combatants can inhibit blasting capabilities if they manage to get right up on you,” Aurek reasoned.

“Plus, when Esk forces you to give him your rifle because he’s run out of shells…” Dorn jokingly proposed.

“Quiet,” Esk interrupted with a pleasant grumble. “Just remember. Lightsaber resistant ain’t lightsaber proof. Just stay away from the twirly Jedi slash Sith business.

“He acquired it in combat,” Forn stoically reminded. “I doubt he requires such a warning.”

“We really can’t prepare enough for what we’re about to go up against,” Cresh offered. “The more available tools the better.” Grek supplied an agreeable nod.

“Everything working? Okay. Good. Let’s move out,” Aurek monotonously ordered as he clipped the saber to his belt and grasped his blaster rifle. As the others picked up their weapons and readied themselves, Besh looked upon his squad leader with a curious tilt of his head, watching as he approached the embanked line of soldiers training their blasters on the facility's entrance. Gripping his sniper rifle, Besh hustled to match Aurek’s position.

“Is something wrong? I mean, aside from just about everything with this mission?” Besh softly asked.

“I had a talk with the Lieutenant in charge of this company. The man is… rather peculiar,” Aurek detailed.

“Should that have an effect on our mission?”

“No. It’s just… it’s obvious this line of work takes a toll on the psyche.”

“I’m rather sure this is going to be a one-off occurrence. No matter how many Special Projects there are, I doubt there are many dealing with biomechanical plagues.”

“The fact that this is new and unusual is what concerns me,” Aurek admitted.

“What about Tatooine? That wasn’t exactly a typical mission,” Besh reminded.

“But Sith… for all their mystery and intrigue, are all grounded in reality. Our reality at least, as Imperials. We’ve encountered and dealt with Sith in the past, as practically any military personnel would have. We’ve heard stories. We’ve seen outliers and exceptions. But most often the truth about the Sith is readily apparent to people like us. We are lead to believe that they are powerful, but anything below the Emperor is definitely capable of fault, of defeat.”

“You don’t think we’re capable of defeating these infected?” Besh curiously wondered.

“Physically? I believe we are capable.” Aurek answered.

“Mentally?” Besh asked. Aurek refused to answer. “What? The undead have you spooked?”

“Not particularly,” Aurek conceded.

“Then what’s your worry? Is it Cresh’s well-being… or maybe Dorn’s?” Besh suggested. Aurek remained silent. “Look, we’re used to the unusual. I doubt whatever we find will affect us as much as you might think…”

“Are you sure?” Aurek inquired. “We’ve fought. We’ve killed. We’ve bled. But against what? Soldiers. Criminals. Droids. Sith. Things we recognize. Things we understand. Things we comprehend. You know who operated this facility? Scientists. Civilians. Ordinary people.”

“That’s who they were,” Besh corrected. “Now, they’re just the abject vessels of their own mistakes.”

“You think everyone in there had a hand in the outbreak? You think we should be held accountable for the mistakes of our superiors?”

“No. No I don’t,” Besh confidently remarked, followed by a pause. “You really think this might have an effect on us?”

“I can’t say,” Aurek confessed. “Maybe we’ll be lucky and won’t suffer the dangers these soldiers constantly face.”

“The Director gave us this assignment because she believes in the Seven,” Besh reminded. “You followed through because you believe in us. And we continue to follow because we believe in you. Whatever dread, terrors, or nightmares await us in that facility, you’d do us one hell of a favor by continuing to give us someone to believe in.”

The rest of the squad had prepared their equipment and joined up with Aurek and Besh. As the rain continued to beat down upon them, the squad members stared toward one another in relative silence. As Aurek passed a glance over each of his compatriots, he offered each of them a confident nod.

“Behind this door, lies an elevator that will take us deep below the planet’s surface,” Aurek began. “This elevator is only the surface access for the entire facility. Once inside, we will divide into two teams. Forward team and defense team. Defense team will guard the elevator while forward team cuts a path through the facility. Forward team’s objective lies in four key data terminals operating on independent systems spread throughout the facility, as well as reaching the control center to activate the facility’s mechanical failsafe. Forward team will be composed of myself, Dorn, Esk, and Cresh. Dorn will be slicing through security systems and wiping Project information from the four data terminals. Esk is on demolition duty, making sure any Project assets remain unrecoverable. Cresh will act as additional manpower and mobile triage if need be. Besh, Forn, and Grek will establish a security point a short distance away from the elevator. We’ve limited intel on the facility’s architecture, but we’ve been assured that blueprints can be lifted from the data terminals, so once Dorn is patched into the first one, we’ll upload a copy for everyone in the squad. Any questions?”

The vacant, but determined stares of the other troopers indicated that there were none.

“Alright, then we’re ready to proceed. Dorn, slice into elevator’s terminal and lift the lockdown.”

“You got it,” Dorn stated as he hustled over toward the panel to the side of the elevator doors. The other soldiers watched as he extended a cord from his wrist-bound datapad and inserted into an underlying port. The slicer went to work, tapping away at the screen with a determined flurry. “Lockdown… lifted,” Dorn expressed after a hefty pause. “Calling the elevator.”

“You mean it’s not already at the surface?” Cresh curiously muttered.

“Places everyone!” Aurek commanded. “Take cover behind the line. Prepare for anything once those doors open!”

Each member of the Seven took cover behind the established firing line alongside the Lieutenants embanked men. Dorn crouched and ducked behind the corner of the enclosed elevator’s edge, still staying connected to the control panel. The troopers watched, their eyes and weapons trained on the doors of the elevator as the rain continued its unending onslaught. After an unbearable passage of seconds that felt like an eternity, the elevator let out a sharp ping as the metallic doors began to part, offering the stationed men a slowly growing glimpse into the brightly lit lift. Nothing.

“Careful. Possibility of lurkers,” Forn advised.

“Dorn?” Aurek chatted.

“Already checked. Reading no life signs,” Dorn disclosed.

“Sounds like information that might have been prudent before,” Esk grumbled.

“Considering the nature of what we might possibly face, I wasn’t sure the system was built to recognize those afflicted with an experimental bioweapon,” Dorn defended.

“Should we really be talking about this out here? Amongst the other soldiers?” Cresh spoke into the team comm.

“Unless you utilize the helmet’s local speakers, it’s quite hard for others to hear you. The suit is rather insulated,” Besh reminded.

“Which is something we’re counting on to protect us when dealing with the infected,” Aurek remarked. “Squad, form up and prepare to descend.”

The Seven removed themselves from the other soldiers, lifting themselves from the wet mud and making their way inside the elevator. Unplugging himself from the exterior control panel, Dorn was the last to enter. The Seven caught one last outward glance as the doors began to slowly close. After a few seconds, the troopers found themselves enclosed in a sizable, but still somewhat cramped elevator. The surrounding surfaces were remarkably pristine, composed of lightly shaded construction materials that shot past an aesthetic of cleanliness and into the territory of unsettling sterility. As Aurek looked over the interior control panel, the option were severely limited, giving him only the options of raising or lowering the lift between two set destinations.

With a press of his thumb, the elevator gently shook and the Seven began their descent into the facility.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
08.13.2012 , 02:28 AM | #46
Chapter Two: The Encounter

A subtle whirr graced the ears of the Seven as they stood in silence, patiently awaiting for the elevator to reach its final destination. Second after second passed and the vibrations refused to cease. Gazing upon the sides of the lift, the Seven bore witness to a single slit in the otherwise uniform panels, granting them the sight of a passing light affixed to the exterior walls at predetermined intervals. With no way of determining the elevator’s speed, the lights offered no measure of distance, instead only providing an unending reminder that the Seven were continually descending, past layers of the planet’s natural foundation, toward a place unneeded and unwanted.

Soon, the rate of the passing lights spread further and further as the sounds of the lift eventually muffled, informing the Seven that their descent was coming to an end. Then, all motions ceased. No more lights. No more sound. The lift and its occupants were stilled. A sharp ding rang out from the elevator’s speakers, causing Cresh to jump. The troopers readied their weapons as Aurek maneuvered to the center of the lift. His rifle at his shoulder, the squad leader momentarily removed his left hand to offer a soft wave to his squad mates, ordering them to gather on either side of the elevator doors. Receding to the rear of the lift, Aurek took a knee, never pointing his rifle’s barrel away from the exit.

The doors began to part. Slowly. Unbearably so. Aurek issued a command to hold and stand ready. As more and more of the scene beyond was revealed, the Seven were greeted with another scene of utter stillness. Fully exposed, there were no signs of life or movement beyond the elevator. In front of them rest a long and narrow hallway that terminated at a ‘T’ intersection a considerable distance away. The halls matched the lift in stark whiteness. Architecturally sterile. An infinite array of tiny lights lined the upper extremities of the hall, capitalizing the facility’s pale cleanliness. None blinking. None flickering. No signs of procedures interrupted. Only emptiness. Except for one blistering contrast.

Midway between the lift and the hall’s end, a corpse lay face down upon the floor. Human. White lab coat. Utterly paled. It was if the body was actively trying to conform to the facility’s aesthetic. Cautiously, Aurek rose and stepped from the confines of the lift, the other members of the Seven following close behind. With each step, a resounding click followed as their boots impacted against the crisp, hardened floor. Aurek lead the troopers in deeper, keeping his weapon trained upon the corpse that lay before them at all times.

Standing directly before the prone body, Aurek stopped completely, his squad mates shortly after. The figure’s flesh had gone completely gray. The only spot of red on his was the exposed wound on his neck, as if something primal had gnawed and torn the spot from the man. A curious lack of blood. The wound was remarkably dry, but so was the surrounding floor. Taking a bit of initiative, Aurek raised his boot before pressing it upon the body’s exposed hand. No reaction. The squad spread out. Grek and Besh pushed forward toward the intersection as the rest examined the corpse.

“He’s dead,” Esk offered after only a passing glance over the body.

“We know that,” Dorn chided. “The question is, is he dead-dead, or infect-dead.”

Kneeling down Aurek reached out to grasp ahold of the body’s shoulder. The other troopers readied there weapons, Forn directing his directly toward the figure’s head. Carefully lifting the body by its shoulder, Aurek flipped the corpse over, revealing an interesting sight. The squad discovered an additional, much more drastic wound upon the body. A hole, somehow bored into the corpse’s skull.

“Looks like someone beat us to it,” Esk commented.

“You think that means there are survivors down here?” Cresh asked.

“There were survivors… likely not anymore.” Forn suggested.

“The occupants likely put up a fight as the infection spread,” Dorn contended. “So close to the elevator… they likely could have escaped if not for the lockdown.”

“The survivor? Or the infected?” Cresh asked. Dorn offered no answer.

“We still don’t know what these things are like when their moving around,” Aurek stated. “But at least a shot to the brain seems to take them down.”

“This doesn’t look to be a blaster wound,” Cresh declared as he examined the wound.

“He’s right,” Forn proclaimed. “Rough edges. Deep penetration. A manual insertion of a some sort of spike by a particularly strong individual.

“Aurek, what do we do if we encounter survivors?” Cresh tepidly asked. No answer. “Aurek?

“We are the only ones permitted to enter or exit the facility,” Aurek bluntly stated.

“I see,” Cresh softly stated.

“Aurek, we’re ready to set up the perimeter.” Besh sounded off on the comm.

“Good. Get to it,” Aurek calmly ordered. Grek placed his footlocker upon the ground and revealed its innards to Besh and himself. Retrieving what looked like a series of small pylons, the two took to placing them a bit further down each of the two halls that split from the T intersection. Looking down toward where the original hallway ended, Aurek saw a computer system imbedded in the wall. “Dorn, the first data terminal…”

“I’m on it,” Dorn replied as he hastily shuffled away from the stilled body. Stepping past his squad leader, Dorn plugged his datapad into the terminal. “I can download a copy of the facility’s schematics and purge everything else on this system afterwards.”

“How much data can your datapad actually hold, Dorn?” Aurek softly inquired.

“Oh, a set of schematics is nothing. I could probably map the entirety of Coruscant on this thing,” Dorn boasted.

“I wasn’t asking about maps,” Aurek coldly informed.

“Aurek, are you asking what I think you’re asking?” Besh commented as he took pause from his fortification duty.

“We’re risking our lives over this information. If there’s anything in that system that can help us carry out the mission, I intend to use it,” Aurek proclaimed. “If you can, copy all the files to your datapad, then wipe the terminal.”

“Yes sir,” Dorn hesitantly agreed as he eyed the terminal.

The others proceeded with their duties in silence. Grek and Besh had each set up four evenly-placed, waist-high rods upright a few steps down each hallway. Their bases connected with a series of thin cables tracing back to Grek’s footlocker. Instead of holding the usual heavy repeater, the box instead featured a compact generator, and enough space for the defensive arrangements the troopers had previously retrieved. Finishing their set-up, the sniper flipped a switch within the footlocker, causing it to let out a soft whirr and hum as the generator turned on. Energy flowed out through the cables toward the upright rods, powering them up to create an defensive energy matrix between them. A waist-high barricade now existed between the Seven and the two paths away from the entrance.

As Aurek stood next to Dorn to monitor his progress, Forn meanwhile knelt close to the fallen infected, examining it with utmost scrutiny.

“The eyes… blood red,” Forn commented.

“Hrm?” Cresh muttered, suddenly interested in the figure. Forn waved for the medic to come closer as he took hold of the infected’s jaw. Gently turning the head from side to side the hunter studied as Cresh took a knee next to him.

“One of the things we were taught… was that the eyes were the most telling parts of the humanoid’s body,” Forn declared.

“Taught… you mean as a Mandalorian?” Cresh inquired. Forn only offered the turn of his helm and a silent nod.

“Such intricate organs. They’re the first to tell you if something is wrong,” Forn explained. “One could have nerves of steel, an unbreakable stance, but the eyes… the eyes always tell a story. They tell of fear. Of sickness. They’re the hardest things to properly replicate for prosthetics and shape shifters. They’re how we connect to others. That’s why soldiers and hunters really wear helmets. T-visors and facemasks remove the humanity. Make it easier to kill. Easier to cope with the losses. This corpse is more human than you or I.”

“Well, that’s because you’re actually a Zabrak,” Esk chimed in. Forn replied with a cold stare only he was capable of.

“Point is, if these things behave anything like those infected by rakghouls… you’ll recognize something inside of them,” Forn remarked, turning his attention back to Cresh. “You’ll hesitate. You’ll question yourself. Question them. You see someone turn into something they’re not, your first instinct is to reject the idea. Something in the back of your mind refuses to believe what every other part of your brain is telling you. Don’t fall for it. These things intend to infect us. To kill us. There isn’t a shred of humanity left in them. Remember that.”

“How do you know, all we’ve encountered is this guy. And he isn’t telling us much,” Cresh reasoned.

“Oh, he is. He most definitely is,” Forn responded.

Back at the data terminal, a ping signaled that Dorn had finished sifting through the terminal's data.

“Alright Aurek, we’ve now got our own personal copy of highly classified and illicit materials regarding a secret test facility for a walking dead virus,” Dorn overly explained.

“Noted,” Aurek replied. “First thing’s first, upload a copy of the map for everyone. Then give us a set of waypoints for the other terminals.” The usual progress bar appeared in the lower portion of the troopers’ helmets as they awaited their own copy of the schematics. Upon receiving their maps, the troopers examined the facility’s workings. Relatively flat. Relatively dense. Focused. Not a sprawling under-dwelling of excess. The first waypoint appeared to the north-east of the squad’s position.

“Uh…” Dorn expressed as he paused his update.

“Problem?” Aurek asked.

“Well, the two data terminals after that one… they aren’t on the map,” Dorn explained.

“We don’t know where they are?” Aurek inquired.

“Oh, we know where they are,” Dorn proclaimed. “They’re here… and here.” Two additional pings appeared on the troopers’ maps. Rather, outside the boundaries of the maps. Further to the north and east, the last two waypoints occupied an empty space beyond the threshold of the revealed facility.

“Are they outside?” Aurek wondered.

“Don’t think so,” Dorn answered. “They’re at relatively the same depth. We might be dealing with an incomplete set of schematics.”

“I think you were right Aurek,” Besh admitted. “The Sith seems to have provided us the bare minimum of information.”

“Well, we’ve exhausted our options here,” Aurek declared. “Only thing to do is press forward.”

“Or we could just head back up,” Esk suggested to deaf ears.

“Besh, Forn, Grek, you three will make up defense team. Cresh, Dorn, Esk, you’re with me,” Aurek detailed. The soldiers shuffled and maneuvered, preparing themselves for their listed positions. Esk offered one final nudge of his foot into the corpse’s shoulder before joining Aurek. Dorn unplugged from the data terminal as Aurek deactivated the barrier down the eastern hallway. As the forward team vacated the defense point, the blue energy matrix reignited behind them. The two teams exchanged a series of waves and divided into two comm channels, reserving the team channel for emergencies. “We’ll keep in touch should any new information arise.”

“We’ll do the same,” Besh detailed.

Aurek and team slowly made their way down the eastern hallway as they set out to find the second terminal. Progressing down the pristinely kept path, the group eventually disappeared from view as they rounded a corner. Besh, Forn, and Grek checked their weaponry and equipment, preparing for any dangers in silence. Three men. Two paths. One task.

Forward team moved further and further into the facility, walking with contrast amongst the white walls with their black armor. No signs of trouble. Of life. Only the eerie tapping of armored boots and the occasional flicker of the surrounding lights.

“Dorn, we’re you able to pick up any data about the facility’s inhabitants?” Aurek inquired. “Numbers? Allocations? Divisions?”

“The official files detailed over two hundred official occupants,” Dorn informed. “No word on test subjects, extraneous personnel…”

“Judging from the schematics, you’d think we’d encounter more of the infected,” Cresh commented. As the troopers moved forward, they progressed beyond the unyielding uniformity of the facility’s architecture. The passage they traversed stretched far forward, and its sides were lined with a series of doors and windows that granted entrance and sight into a series of compact and specialized laboratories. Looking into them as they passed, the rooms were utterly empty aside from the various tables and counters populated with innumerable vials and beakers.

“The area west of the defense point is the living area, so there’s a chance the bulk of the infected reside there.

“And details about the outbreak? Place and time of initial infection? Security footage?” Aurek inquired.

“I’m afraid not,” Dorn conceded.

“Think they’re cognizant of the situation? Maybe their amassing somewhere. Or hiding…” Cresh whispered.

“Someone managed to stab one in the face,” Esk reminded. “I doubt they’re masters of tactics and stealth.”

The troopers managed only a few resounding steps before the thuds were utterly overshadowed with the thunderous shattering of glass. Before the troopers could even process the event, a battered and gray human had thrown his upper body through the pane between the Seven and a neighboring laboratory, clutching at the nearest soldier. Esk thought to react, but couldn’t evade the wretched limbs of the undead aggressor as they wrapped around the demolitionist’s neck.

The infected let out a series of horrific growls and moans as he refused to release his grip, tugging at the trooper’s shoulders, trying to drag him into his domain. Esk flailed his arms trying to lash out at the attacker but to no avail. The others drew their weapons, directing their barrels toward their ally. A motley and distressed series of words and commands left the mouths of the forward group as they found themselves unable to get a clear shot. Warnings. Orders. Cries for help. None could pierce the chaos of the situation to do listeners any good.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

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Osetto
10.17.2012 , 06:39 PM | #47
Chapter Three: The Infection

Esk struggled to free himself from the inescapable grasp of the infected individual that refused to relinquish his grip on the trooper’s torso. Wrapping itself around the demolitionist, the undead clawed and raked its digits across the soldier’s hardened armor plating.

“Esk!” Aurek shouted out, more stern than concerned. Ignoring his commander, Esk continued to make a series of wild incomprehensive flailings of his tongue as he emoted his inherent displeasure in the current situation. Aurek rubbed the brow of his helmet as the sight continued. “Esk…”

Suddenly, the demolitionist stopped and mentally addressed the situation as the infected individual was still wrapping its limbs over his shoulders. Panning his gaze in front of him, Esk saw that his fellow squad members had sufficiently calmed, showing no signs of worry or concern in his predicament. Looking down, he watched the decomposing hand of the undead ineffectually clawing at his armored torso, and turned to see its head mindlessly trying to gnaw at his shoulder, incapable of even piercing the raincoat draped over it, let alone the armor plating.

Calm and collected, Esk reached up and gently grasped the infected’s arms to stop their motion, finding it remarkable easy to subdue the individual. With the undead’s limbs in check, the demolitionist lowered and rotated himself to be fully out of the individual’s grasp. As the infected slowly tried to flail its limbs toward Esk, he found it remarkably easy to keep the aggressor at bay by simply extending his arm and placing his hand on the undead’s chest, keeping it at arm’s length behind the now shattered pane of glass.

“A Rakghoul… this is not,” Esk stated, composed but still catching his breath.

“Really? This is what we were sent to contain?” Dorn muttered. “This is what the Sith use to guard their tombs?”

“Maybe the safeguard wasn’t wholly incomplete,” Cresh offered. “The Sith said they were supposed to completely decay after a while, maybe instead of dying off they just sort of… degenerate.”

“Yeah, I’m having a hard time picturing these guys being a handful even for scientists,” Esk confessed, his arm still keeping the sluggish undead at bay.

“I’ll take whatever good-news we can find,” Aurek commented. Putting a finger to his temple, Aurek opened communications with the rest of his squad. “Squad. We’ve encountered one of the infected. They seem to rank extremely low on the threat scale.”

“Acknowledged, Aurek,” Besh quickly shot back. “Does this have any effect on our orders?”

“No. Just try and hold out while we complete our objectives. We faced one, but we’ve no idea the capabilities of others. Maintain a certain degree of caution.”

“Understood,” Besh proclaimed. Removing his finger from his helm, Aurek watched as Esk continued to gently push the infected aggressor away, Cresh and Dorn opting to stand a reasonable distance from the demolitionist.

“We need to press forward,” Aurek reminded his squad mates.

“How do we deal with this thing?” Cresh inquired, jutted a soft finger toward the lunging figure. Aurek began to rub the chin of his helm as he lowered his gaze in contemplation.

“Well, we still don’t know if…” Aurek managed to comment before being interrupted by the cacophonous roar of Esk’s scattergun firing a round into the undead’s cranium. As the pellets and a chunky mist of organic material impacted against the wall behind it, the infected individual’s motions immediately ceased as it slumped to the floor behind the shattered window. “… there’s more of them. And we might want to keep things stealthy,” Aurek calmly finished.

“Sorry, Aurek. Thing was reaching for my grenades,” Esk defended.

“Understandable. At least we know they can be put down,” Aurek conceded.

“Aye,” Esk softly stated as he opened the team comm. “You were right Forn. No head equals dead.”

“Good to hear,” Forn coldly imparted.

“We’re heading for the second terminal. We’ll relay any additional details as they arise,” Aurek chatted into the team comm. As soon as he close communications, a series of indicators flashed on his HUD, as well as those of his squad mates. Various sounds and movements had been picked up further down the hallway. “We may have stirred the nest. Stay sharp.”

The defense team offered a series of affirmations as the forward team returned to their trek into the bowels of the facility. Their weapons raised and ready, the soldiers held little solace in their minds of the inherent lack of perceived danger regarding the infected. They knew better than to grow content with their situations. Things can and will change. Especially when there are Sith involved.

Heading down the straightaway flanked by the various laboratories and study rooms, the troopers kept a close eye out for any knew contacts. Turning a corner, the Imperials were greeted with a shuffling assemblage of undead. Humans. Scientists, all of them. They had decayed past the point of recognizable humanity, bits and pieces missing from the biological puzzle. The forward team let loose a barrage of pinpoint accurate shots, planting bolts of energy into the skulls of the wandering infected, putting them down permanently with ease.

Continuing their journey within the thin halls, the soldiers were forced to carefully step over each of their fallen foes, careful not to trip on the cadavers. They couldn’t help but sneak a closer look at each individual they passed by. Tattered clothes. Tattered flesh. Things of death. Utterly disconcerting. With each step they drew closer to the second data terminal, but the pace would never prove satisfactory enough. Every second spent within the facility was one second too many.

----------

“We may have stirred the nest. Stay sharp,” Aurek relayed to the defensive team. As their squad leader ceased communications, the three defenders looked to each other with unsure gazes. Grek and Besh had set their weapons against the opposing barriers, ready to retaliate against any intruder, but unwilling to devote their full attention to the empty halls. Forn meanwhile paced along the path back to the lift. The huntsman let out a heavy sigh as he returned to the forked hallway. Without a word, Forn hopped over the waist-high energy barrier set up down the west-ward path.

“Forn, where do you think you’re going?” Besh sternly inquired.

“For a walk,” Forn answered, momentarily coming to a halt.

“Within the undead infested research facility?”

“Aurek says they’re little threat, this way is disconnected from larger facility, and I work best alone,” Forn listed. “I’ll be fine. Just want to stretch my legs… and my arms.”

“You don’t want to risk us finishing the mission without a fight do you?” Besh teased, completely deadpan. Forn offered a slight shrug of his shoulders as he continued away from the defense point. The sniper rubbed the brow of his helm as he turned to see an innocent looking Grek still manning his station. “He’ll be fine.”

Forn walked amongst the sterile silence, his boots impacting purposefully loud against the cold floor. The taps of precise steps rung out from the Imperial, resonating and bouncing off the stilled walls. Walking amongst the living quarters of the facility, it wasn’t long before the huntsman encountered his first prey. Storage area. Three targets. Forn alerted them to his presence with the insistent scratching of his knife’s tip against the nearby wall. The infected took immediate notice and began their disoriented shuffle toward the Imperial. Forn observed. Match each disheveled step with one of utter purpose.

Step. Step. Position vibroblade. Reverse grip, thumb capping the handle. Approach prey. Activate weapon. Close in. Tighten grip. Extend arm. Retract. Body falls. Address next target. Another insertion to the forehead. Then another. No signs of opposition. The huntsman continues. Living area. Kitchen area. Recreation. A number of infected stand in his path. That same number soon lay behind it. All is silent. Relatively. The impact of metal against metal. Of metal against flesh. Of incessant groans and exhalations. Of whimpers. Whimpers. That was new.

Following the intruding sound, Forn found himself in a barracks. Bunks and lockers lining the walls. Undead ineffectually wiping and lashing their limbs against them. Within a moment, the Imperial was upon them. Not turning to face the silent huntsman, the infected found a blade effortlessly inserting into and retracting itself from the back of their skulls. The whimpers had all but fallen silent, but Forn was sure of their source.

Taking a hold of the sizable wall-locker’s handle, the door refused to yield. With a slash of his weapon, Forn had severed the locking mechanism and swung open the locker door. Compacted into the lower half of the locker, a scientist winced at the motion, and buried his face into his arms. After a few moments of inactivity, the scientist hesitantly looked up at the black figure that had intruded upon him. Male. Young. Afraid. Alive.

“Unexpected…” Forn stoically commented.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
08.01.2013 , 12:11 AM | #48
Chapter Four: The Sickness

Forn knelt down, prompting the survivor to bury his face in his arms again, the muffled whines barely making it past them.

“In case you haven’t noticed… noise seems to attract them…” Forn bluntly stated. The survivor looked up, face red, eyes watering, but no signs of physical wounds. His emotional well-being, however, was anything but fine. The soldier let out a brief sigh. “Look… you’re safe now. Get up.”

“Who… who are you?” the survivor mumbled.

“The name’s Forn. Me and my squad are here to clean up your Director’s mess.”

“Darth Terminus… he made it out?”

“Yes. Him and him alone. Honestly… I’m surprise these things gave you all so much trouble.”

“You weren’t here…” the survivor muttered. “You don’t know… the chaos… the death. The outbreak… it spread so fast…”

“Most effective plagues do. Rakghouls are still around for a reason,” Forn figured. The survivor’s face was clearing, regaining emotional control. “So, what exactly… was your role in this project?”

“I… I was a lab assistant. Low-level biochemist.”

“Not exactly who I’d expect to survive this ordeal…”

“There was a storage room. Reinforced doors. It became my hiding spot. I was… I was out getting more supplies. Food. Water. They converged. Blocked my path. I was hoping I could wait in here until they lost interest.”

“How long have you been hiding?”

“I don’t know. Hours…”

“I meant since the start.”

“Months. I… I haven’t kept a precise tally of the days. Figured I’d go insane if I did…”

“My team’s heading deeper into this facility as we speak. If there’s any information you can offer me… I’d appreciate it.”

“I… I don’t… I mean…” the survivor rattled. The soldier raised a single hand, halting the scientist’s stammer.

“You were out of supplies, correct? Hungry? Thirsty?” The survivor offered a hesitant nod of his head. Extending his hand, Forn took a hold of the cramped scientist’s and lifted him up to his feet. The survivor stood only for a second before the numbness in his legs sent him stumbling to the floor. Landing face to face with one of the walking corpses Forn had disposed of earlier, the man let out a yelp as he attempted to scurry away. Shuffling along the floor until his back hit the wall, he looked up to see the armored warrior quietly panning the scene. “Stay close. More are coming.”

----------

The forward team advanced through to halls of the research facility. As they delved deeper, the once pristine surroundings they had known showed more and more signs of the events that unfolded amongst them. White walls were marred with the blood of imperial scientists, laboratories were turned over, broken glass and instruments littering the floors and countertops. Everything was still, motionless, having settled long before the troopers’ intrusion. The only movement came from the stirring infected that continued to populate the halls.

The undead researchers proved to be little more than a nuisance as the heavily armed and armored soldiers made their way toward their destination, but there was more to worry about than their opponents’ physical threat. Each passing second, each passing minute, and the forward team found themselves no more comfortable with their surroundings. For all the death they had seen, now that they find themselves confronting the walking dead themselves, they could not shut out the worries that began to plague their minds. It would have been preferable for them to be a true threat.

Without the threat, there was no fight or flight, no overwhelming sense of self-preservation. There was simply an obstacle that stood before them, an obstacle that captured their undivided attention. An obstacle they couldn’t rip their thoughts away from. With each face, each cold and soulless face, they saw two parts. That which was, and that which had been. They fought monsters wearing the faces of men and women who wanted nothing more than the chance to use their skills to aid the Empire, and were rewarded with the loss of their humanity.

They weren’t fighting soldiers. They weren’t fighting misanthropes. They weren’t fighting beasts. They were fighting a disease. A sickness. One whose only cure was the precise application of a single blaster bolt. They hadn’t been trained for this. They had been trained to fight those who thought. Those with the human drive to do them harm. Patriots. Zealots. Criminals. Rebels. Those with more than a debased hunger guiding their ever action.

After minutes of slogging through the infected and filth that stood between themselves and their objective, the forward team could see the second data terminal’s location on their maps. With no more enemies ahead, the troopers picked up their pace. The terminal sat in an enclosed room that sat at the junction of three hallways. Looking down each path, the forward team saw that the way was clear in each direction. They had found a moment of solace.

Pounding away at the control panel that sat beside the door between them and their objective, Dorn eventually earned the group entry into the darkened room. The door rose into its ceiling recess, light from the hallways providing a soft illumination of the room’s compact interior. A moment later, the lights inside began to flicker to life. What greeted the troopers was what appeared to be a security station. One wall was lined with chairs that sat in front of viewscreens. The other was lined with reinforced lockers. Opposite the entrance, the data terminal sat imbedded in the wall.

The forward team cautiously entered the cramped room, Dorn heading for the data terminal, the others investigating their new surroundings. In one of the chairs situated in front of the viewscreens, a body sat motionless. Carefully, Aurek approached the figure, keeping his weapon trained upon it. With quick push, the team leader rotated the chair, only to see the scorched hole that had been planted in the figure’s forehead.

Lowering his weapon, Aurek turned to see Dorn connecting his datapad with the data terminal. “Any luck?”

“You… tell me,” Dorn enthusiastically stated as he hastily tapped against his arm-mounted datapad. Before he could respond, Aurek and the other troopers saw the viewscreens that lined the wall begin to turn on. The holographic displays and monitors slowly hummed to life, various screens offering a glimpse of what the facility’s security cameras currently saw. The majority of the screens offered an image of empty stillness, the others containing the image of shuffling undead within wandering amongst the facility’s various sectors.

“So this is a security station. Is that terminal where it stores its data?” Aurek inquired.

“Yup,” Dorn quickly confirmed. “I’m going to go ahead and guess that you don’t want me to wipe it right away, right?”

“Right,” Aurek stated. “How far back do the records go? Can you pull up footage of the initial outbreak?”

“Sure thing,” Dorn declared. “They’ve got records dating back to the facility’s construction over ten years ago.”

“We only need to know what happened on the day of the outbreak,” Aurek commented.

“Of course, of course, just let me look up the proper date, and I should be able to pull up the…” There was a pause in Dorn’s speech, followed shortly by the soft thud of the technician’s helmet slamming itself into the wall.

“Dorn?”

“It’s not there,” Dorn quietly grumbled.

“What do you mean? Was it erased?” Aurek inquired.

“No. It’s just… not there,” Dorn repeated. “Nothing was recorded that day. The camera system was manually shut off prior to the outbreak. I’d be able to tell if someone had gone in and tampered with the records. Sorry, it looks like we’ve got nothing to go on.”

“On the contrary, this has provided us with important information,” Aurek proclaimed. “It’s one thing to fail and attempt to cover it up. It’s another thing to preemptively resolve yourself of fault. It means the likelihood of this ordeal being an accident is all but nonexistent.”

“Oh great,” Esk chatted. “I was worried for a moment that this was a product of incompetence. Now that we know it was good ol’ Imperial backstabbing, we can rest easy.”

“Maybe it was sabotaged by the Republic,” Cresh pondered.

“Methods don’t match up,” Aurek stated. “Even amongst the SIS. It was likely one of the Darth’s Sith rivals.”

“Which narrows it down to about… every Sith who’s ever met him,” Esk declared.

“Is there anything in there besides security footage, Dorn?” Aurek asked. “Maybe updated schematics.”

“I’ll keep looking, sir.” As the technicians poured over his datapad at the contents of the data terminal, the other troopers focused their attention on the facets of the security station. Esk turned toward the reinforced lockers that lined the rightward wall. They held half-empty racks of standardized weaponry. Cheap but effective blaster rifles and pistols used by the security staff.

“It looks like they tried to put up a fight, regardless of the cameras being off,” Esk commented.

On the opposite wall Cresh turned his attention toward the numerous viewscreens that offered a safe glimpse into the halls of the facility. He could see the path they had traversed, motionless bodies littering the floor along the halls behind them. In the halls they had not visited, there was an odd peace as infected inhabitants aimlessly trudged about. Without a victim in their sights, they had no purpose, nothing to drive them. They simply wandered, waiting for something to trigger their hunger. That’s when the young trooper’s eyes came across a scene he could not believe. In the corner viewscreen, Cresh saw an image of the facility’s mess hall.

“Uh, Aurek, you might want to check that out,” Cresh advised, softly jutting a finger toward the curious screen. As the team leader moved in for a closer look, he saw an unfamiliar figure sitting at a mess hall table. Unfamiliar, in that he recognized him on sight. It was Forn. He was not accompanied by his squad mates, but he was not alone.

----------

“Here… is this good enough?”

The quivering scientist looked from his seat to see a sealed bag of chips in the trooper’s hand. They were in the facility’s mess hall. The mysterious soldier had secured the exits, and offered to find him something to quell his hunger. As he looked up with his mouth agape, Forn shook the chips, practically ordering the scientist to take them. As he peeled open the bag, the soldier took the seat across from him, sitting, staring, silent.

The survivor attempted to maintain some manner of decorum as he took his first bite, but the first taste merely reinforced the idea that he finally had some food, and he began to dig in. As he watched him eat, the trooper heard the click of his team’s comm channel opening.

“Forn, what are you doing?” Aurek inquired.

“What are you talking about?” Forn replied in a hushed manner.

“We found a security station, we can see you with a security camera,” Aurek informed.

“Hmm, I noticed the cameras around the facility… didn’t think they still worked,” Forn nonchalantly declared.

“Why aren’t you with Besh and Grek?” Aurek patiently asked.

“Thought I’d secure the living quarters… in case there was a horde of them waiting to block our escape,” Forn answered.

“And who is that with you?”

“Some survivor… found him hiding in a locker,” Forn admitted. “He’s been living in one of the storage rooms… for the past few months.”

“Whoa, wait,” Besh interjected. “Why didn’t you tell us you found a survivor?”

“Didn’t think it was important,” Forn declared. “He’s just some low-level guy. Doesn’t sound like… he knows anything that could help us.”

“You didn’t think it was important for us to know someone managed to survive the outbreak?” Besh coldly lambasted.

“Not really. After all… orders are that no one leaves this facility but us,” Forn reminded.

“Wait, you don’t mean… you’re not going to…” Cresh stammered.

“It’s not up to me,” Forn declared. “Aurek?”

There was silence over the comm as each of the soldiers remained silent. Back in the security room, Cresh look to his squad leader, whose gaze was affixed to the viewscreen.

“No. Don’t kill him. I still have too many unanswered questions about this place,” Aurek proclaimed. “Keep him safe. Don’t let your guard down. We’re about to head toward the third terminal.”

“Understood.” Forn watched as the scientist continued to shovel food into his mouth, ignorant of the conversation that had taken place beneath his guardian’s helmet. To him, he had remained the silent sentry.

Back in the security room, Dorn was fast at work trying uncover whatever information he could. As the other three troopers eagerly awaited new details, they were hit by the technician’s brief exclamation.

“Yes! I’ve got it,” Dorn proclaimed. “Had to go way back, but I found the facility’s full schematics. Updating… now.”

A progress bar appeared on the troopers’ HUDs. When it finished, the map in the corner of their eyes expanded, almost doubling its previous size as a new area was revealed to the east, meaning the next two data terminals were no longer off the map.

“Looks like we know where we’re heading next,” Aurek commented.

“More so than you might think,” Dorn added. “Look, there’s only one way in and out of that sector. A single reinforced door.”

“Does this station pick up anything in that sector?” Aurek inquired.

“I’m afraid not,” Dorn answered. “From everything I’ve gathered, everything beyond that door operates on its own systems, completely partitioned. It’s like a completely separate facility.”

“It doesn’t have its own passage to the surface, does it?” Aurek asked, somewhat worried.

“Doesn’t look like it,” Dorn declared.

“Is that good or bad?” Cresh wondered.

“It’s good because it means we don’t have an exit unaccounted for, which mean the infection is still contained,” Aurek detailed.

“A single way in and out, it might mean the infection was contained to this sector,” Dorn optimistically stated.

“Yeah,” Cresh perked up. “If Forn managed to find a survivor, there might be more over there. They might all be alive over there!”

“They might be…” Aurek muttered, no emotion in his voice. “Dorn, you sure we can’t see anything over there.”

“I’m sorry, sir, it looks like they have their own security station,” the technician revealed. "But maybe I… could… huh.”

“Something wrong?” Aurek inquired.

“‘Wrong’ is a strong word,” Dorn non-answered.

“That’s why I used it. Is there?” Aurek continued.

“Nothing wrong, just… peculiar,” Dorn replied. “That one door that splits the facility? It’s so rarely opened that there’s a log of it. Apparently it only opened once every two months, on a fixed schedule.”

“Two facilities. One access to the surface,” Aurek reasoned. “Whatever their relationship, supplies had to run through this sector to get to that one.”

“Do we even know if they were part of the Dirge project?” Cresh wondered. “What if they were working on something else?”

“There’s a chance. Then again, there’s a chance that’s where the outbreak initiated and it managed to slip into this sector,” Aurek reasoned.

“He may be right,” Dorn stated. “The logs say the last time the door was opened… was the day of the outbreak. So something either got in, or something got out.”

“But what could possibly be over there?” Esk pondered. “We’ve already seen living quarters, mess halls, laboratories. What do they need another half a facility for?”

“That’s what I’m hesitant to find out,” Aurek declared.

“This door, is it opened or closed?” Cresh inquired.

“The log says… closed,” Dorn informed. “And it’s been that way since the outbreak.”

“Not exactly reassuring,” Esk stated. “The infected probably aren’t smart enough to open it.”

“But a survivor might be smart enough to keep it closed,” Cresh added.

“Especially the kind of survivor who knew the outbreak was coming in the first place,” Aurek proposed.

“You think the person responsible might still be over there?” Esk asked.

“I’m not sure, but I know we’ll find more answers there than we will sticking around here,” Aurek declared. “How do we get that door open?”

“I’ve got the security codes in my datapad, so we can open it on-site,” Dorn revealed.

Aurek nodded his head, and put a finger to his temple as he opened communications with the defense team. “We’re moving deeper into the facility. Forn, your new friend wouldn’t happen to know anything about the new area on our maps?”

Back in the mess hall, the trooper watched the scientist gulp down a container of potable water as his squad leader's words reached his ears.

“My team is about to head into the other half of this facility,” Forn began. “Any details you can share about it?”

The survivor paused his intake of liquid, lowering the container with a confused look upon his face. “Other half…” he muttered. Suddenly, the confusion washed away from his visage. “Oh, you mean beyond the door. You can’t get past it, only the Darths have the authorization to open it.”

“Don’t worry about that. Our slicer is skilled at his craft,” Forn detailed before taking pause. “Wait. Did you say Darths? Plural?”

“Yeah, Darth Terminus headed research in this sector, while another controlled everything over there,” the scientist detailed. “I don’t know his name. In fact, I don’t know anything about what happened over there. Lab staff was kept in the dark about the proceedings of that sector. All we saw was the supplies that would be wheeled in every two months.”

“Were they working on a different project?”

“No. Everything in this entire facility was devoted to Project Dirge. But the way our Lord spoke, he made it seem as if we were competing with them. That’s why we worked as hard as we did. We knew they were doing the exact same thing as us, and if they succeeded before us, we would be out of work and have nothing to show for it.“

“You get all that, Aurek?” Fork spoke into his comm.

“Yes,” Aurek replied, no sense of ease in his voice.

“So, Imperial backstabbing has been upgraded to Sith backstabbing,” Esk joked, no sense of joy behind his words. The forward team had received the most clarity yet afforded to them, and it did little to put their minds at ease. Whether more of the same or something different rest in the eastern sector, neither would prove beneficial.

“So, what we do we do now?” Dorn asked.

“We stick with the plan,” Aurek declared. “We wipe the data terminals. We initiate the facility’s self-destruct protocols.”

“This terminal’s been taken care of,” Dorn stated, lifting himself from his kneeling position. “As for the self-destruct, I’ll need to patch in to the other sector’s security station before I can trigger it.”

“Alright, let’s move out,” Aurek commanded. The first to leave the room, the trooper raised his weapon, setting his sights down each of the corridors before heading east. One by one the others followed, keeping their guards raised as they headed toward new territory.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Adwynyth's Avatar


Adwynyth
08.01.2013 , 02:55 AM | #49
Ooo...more story! SQUEE
Horrendously bad fan fiction: Sith in a Pretty Dress

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.23.2014 , 01:24 PM | #50
Previously on… The Seven

Quote:
The Seven. Always seven.
Seven men. Seven Soldiers. Faceless, but for the featureless visage of their black helms. Nameless, but for a letter of the alphabet.

Aurek, the leader.

Besh, the sniper.

Cresh, the medic.

Dorn, the technician.

Esk, the demolitionist.

Forn, the hunter.

Grek, the titan.

Armed and outfitted with the best technology, the Seven were a product of Imperial Special Projects. Led only by the calculating but charismatic Director, the squad faced threats external and domestic, sealed within their suits of advanced powered armor.

Quote:
The bodyglove and armored plates that covered them resembled the modern armor most Imperial Troopers wore, though with subtle differences.

Trademark black with red highlights were carried over from the norm. The thick armored plates that made up most of the suit were composed of some of the strongest materials credits could buy. Where the plates couldn't provide protection, the state of the art armorweave bodysuits were more than capable of defending against stray blaster fire that made it past the integrated shield system. Layered electronics and failsafe mechanics kept everything online after a couple of ion bolts and could even withstand a few seconds of sustained force lightning.

By benefit of being powered armor, the suits possessed micro-hydraulics capable of increasing the user's strength, great for heavy lifting and preventing the wearer from collapsing under their own weight. From the neck down, they possessed some the purest mechanical brawn found amongst the Imperial Army. From the neck up, something even more spectacular.

Probably the most integral piece of the armor puzzle, the helmet provided advanced tactical data via heads up display. While possessing the basic flat topped conical shape possessed by most modern Imperial ground forces, its visor went uncovered by protective armor, giving its wearer a smooth, featureless black surface for a face. The suit was capable of analyzing the various biological processes that took place within its boundaries and report it to the user, or even the user’s squad mates if need be. The visors could provide instant data regarding the squad’s health, injuries, energy levels, fatigue, and information from four of the user’s five senses. With the ability to connect weapons data to the visor, the soldier could monitor his firearm’s continued efficiency and ammo capacity.

The sword, the shield, and the warrior. Body, mind, soul. All symbiotically connected.
The Seven represented an idea. They were capable. They were invincible. Should one fall, the public would remain unaware as they slipped another body beneath the ever obscuring mask. They acted with preparation and dedicated purpose. Their weapon caution. Their shield preparation. No action taken was in secret, but the information was constantly and expertly wielded.

They were designed. For all their skill and capabilities, they were artificial. Tales of their exploits were exaggerated or restrained to best suit their image. To best cultivate the image of the Seven. They were a team of action, but their efficacy was measured through others’ reactions. Their purpose was to do alone what other squads could not. What hundreds, thousands could not. To inspire confidence in the hearts of their allies, to instill fear in the minds of their enemies at the mere mention of their name.

That was their purpose. Or at least, that’s what it appeared to be.

Without a base of their own, the Seven operated out of the Imperial Dreadnought known as the Ulterior. Isolated from the Ulterior Battalion on board, the two groups rarely interacted. With the Great War over, there’s wasn’t great need for a fast-hitting military battalion operating in the fringes of Imperial space, but the soldiers onboard nonetheless blamed their ‘guests’ for any lapses in action.

With little overlap between their objectives, it was only by the grace of the Director’s planning and execution that the two groups were able to act without impeding the other. The Ulterior could maintain its usual operations whilst the Seven were aboard, and serve as recon whilst they were away. Things worked, but the ship’s crewmen nonetheless wondered how ‘temporary’ the Seven’s stay would be. But after almost a year of operations, there was little turmoil for the special squad.

In the recent months, however, things had changed for the Seven. Their missions had begun to deviate from the established protocols and guidelines. They were tested in ways they never had been before. Prior to the assault on Freedom’s Runner, the Seven participated in only in mundane operations whose story would change to suit the results. Unknown elements numbered close to zero, and being forced to improvise accounted for the team’s three loses over the course of its short career.

But the team was tasked with boarding the light cruiser with the intent to rescue an intentionally captured Aurek. To defeat the meager onboard security, leaving just enough of a trace to insure the spread of rumors regarding their success. The methods might have deviated from the norm, but the goal still fell within the Seven’s usual operations. It wasn’t until their next mission that things truly changed.

A group of Sith, led by Lords Rak’us and Tumul, had separated from the Empire, and the Seven were tasked with their destruction. Hidden away on Tatooine, it was up to the group to find them and punish them.

But the Seven arrived on the scorched planet with nary a plan or source of information. They met with Ulren Sebastus, field agent for Imperial Intelligence, who set them on the path, but did receive any concrete information. The squad was forced to investigate matters themselves, eventually stumbling across a clan of natives split by the arrival of the Sith cult.

The Sand People were normally a primitive warrior-based culture of raiders that lived beyond the desert world’s settlements. But the group the Seven encountered were different. Though still outwardly hostile, the Ardent Sons clan had embraced some semblance of modernization, utilizing technology in ways other clans refused to. But that departure from their own cultural norms created a divide, one the Sith cult capitalized on. Many of the tribe's warriors, now known as the Fallen Sons, joined the Sith, massively expanding their numbers. Keeping their true intentions hidden, the Sith manipulated the Fallen Sons into acting as their workforce, raiding settlements and homesteads to further their goals.

The Sith tricked the tribals into thinking they were ushering a new age of martial dominance free from technological advancements, when in truth, they sought the opposite. Their new masters sent the out the Fallen Sons to attack what passed for modern society on Tatooine, returning with whatever pieces of technology they could get their hands on to be sacrificed upon a holy altar. In truth, the Sith knew of a key hidden somewhere on the desert world, a piece of code locked away in some piece of tech.

Quote:
"There is a technological impurity. One that rigidly defines and separates the notions of life, the Force, and machinery. We do not seek to separate ourselves from technology. We seek to fully embrace it, until there is no separation between the Force and cybernetics. Like the great ones before us.”

“The great ones?”

“The Rakata,” Ra’kus plainly stated. “Beyond this vault lies no sparkling grotto, no luminous stone, but a trove of original artifacts used by the Rakata and the plethora of technological innovations drawn from their designs. The history of the powerful species is deeply imbedded in the underworking of this planet. They left devices buried beneath the sands. Czerka saw the advantages in searching out the items, creating new technologies from their models. Numerous facilities like this one dotted the planet. But one day, there was a disaster at one of the stations. Czerka started disengaging their operations on Tatooine, consolidated their findings, their creations, behind this very vault!”
The cultists had based themselves around an abandoned Czerka research facility, one that contained a vault holding Rakatan devices and artifacts. The former Sith viewed the Rakata as ascendant beings, ones that had properly merged organics, technology, and the Force. The vault itself was born of Czerka’s research into Rakatan designs, and could only be opened with the presence of an electronic key. The Sith believed the key had not been destroyed, merely lost or forgotten. And because much of the technologies utilized by the desert world’s populace were holdovers from Czerka's presence there, they knew that with enough sifting, they would find their answer.

Aligning themselves with the Ardent Sons, the Seven set out to put an end to the cult without the usual backing and preparations they had grown accustomed to. Facing the Force-sensitive leader of the Fallen Sons, slowly unraveling the mystery of the two tribes and their manipulators, sneaking into the cultists’ base, the power-armored troopers were tested in ways they had never been before. Aurek managed to earn the respect of the Fallen Sons and their leader by narrowly defeating one of the cultists’ leaders in a duel. In the following chaos, with the vault opened, the other leader of the cultists attempted to make his escape in the Rakatan vessel that sat inside. But quick thinking by the Seven, and a helping hand from the Fallen Sons’ leader, allowed them to put a permanent end to the cultist leader before he could escape.

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“If you haven’t figured it out yet… you were wrong,” Forn stated to the bleeding Sith. “You see, the Rakata weren’t that special. Anyone worth learning... worth taking... we've already done. They built an Empire… it eventually fell. Such is true of every civilization. True value presented itself in remarkable individuals. One warrior… who managed to concur worlds. One scientist… who managed to create doomsday weapons. You placed your faith in non-existent gods. You wanted salvation from a species no greater than yourselves. Instead of believing in the one thing worth believing in… you wanted an answer to a question you shouldn’t have even been asking in the first place. The Rakata weren’t immortal. The Sith aren’t immortal. The Empire isn’t immortal. Thinking otherwise means you are simply destined to fail. When you remove death, you remove a vital piece of the puzzle. When you remove death, you lose structure… meaning. I know I’ve got no more than a solid hundred year shelf-life on this body. I kill people. People try to kill me. I’ve accepted that. Rather than trying to alter and manipulate the parameters of my existence, I simply choose to make the most out of it. I live. I fight. I die. I’ve found meaning, something you and your little cult can’t say. Even if you had succeeded... could you have said to have accomplished anything? No. You would simply have been along for the ride for some ancient and long dead being’s accomplishments. If I were to die in this instant, I would have no regrets… let’s see if you can say the same.”
Wrapping up their affairs with their newfound allies, the Seven returned to their ship, and set a course for the Ulterior. But days prior, just after Aurek had made contact with him, Agent Sebastus of Imperial Intelligence had already departed Mos Ila. Whilst the Seven made their way across the Dune Sea in search of their targets, the agent had a brief talk with the squad’s Director.

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“In the process of sharing intelligence with… Aurek, I came across something peculiar in regards to his mission.”

“Is that so?”

“Quite. Would you mind explaining to me why believes he is working for Imperial Intelligence?”

“He simply understands the Ministry’s responsibilities in tracking down traitors of the Empire. Your agency has provided the Seven logistics and support for almost all of our missions.”

“As a distant, unaffiliated party. He seems to be under the impression that ours is the governing body of Imperial Special Projects,” Sebastus informed. The channel remained silent. “Director?”

“Did you inform him of the contrary?” the Director plainly inquired.

“I know better than to actively work against whatever is it you are attempting to achieve… Director.”

“Then our business is concluded. Good day, Agent Sebastus,” the Director concluded, turning her back, about to cease communications.

“You should be careful, Director,” Sebastus interrupted. Slowly, the Director reaffixed her gaze toward the agent. “After what happened to the Dirge Project, you’ll find the toleration for mishaps remarkably low for people in your position.”

“You know every Project is completely separate and independent of one another,” the Director stated, slightly raising her tone. “The Seven have nothing to with that failure.”

“Ensure that your project does not suffer the same fate. Beneath that armor, there are actual people that you are toying with. People in my line of work are conditioned to being lied to. I can’t say the same for your men. Don’t become so focused on appeasing your patrons that you lose control of your operation. As Director, the burden of failure will fall upon your shoulders.”

“Good bye, Agent,” the Director concluded, shutting off the communications.
It was in that moment that the agent unknowingly found himself sucked into something against his will. The next mission for the Seven, despite somewhat of a return to normalcy, was not actually a mission for the Seven at all. It was a joint operation between them, Ulterior Battalion, and Agent Sebastus.

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“Gentlemen. I am Ulren Sebastus, field agent from the Ministry of Intelligence. This…” Sebastus detailed as he expanded the image, unfolding various cross-sections of the building’s schematics, “is an arms manufactory owned and operated by Vertex Systems. They are an unaligned producer of military tech and battle droids. Our interest in them lies in the fact that they are harboring a rogue Imperial scientist, Dr. Volun. Due to his intervention, the company has managed to take a resounding leap forward in technological quality. This, coupled with their resounding resources and output capabilities, makes them worthy of Imperial attention. That is why, with the aid of Major Synric and Ulterior Battalion we will be assaulting the company’s prime manufactory, within which we’ll find Dr. Volun. However, the facility’s unique defensive arrangement is preventing us from carrying out a full-scale ground or aerial assault. That is where the Seven comes in.”
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“But I take it the intention isn’t just to bombard the facility until nothing remains,” Aurek suggested.

“Correct. Dr. Volun has proven himself disloyal to the Empire, ensuring his termination. When he left, we still retained records and copies of his research, so we’ve no interest in bringing him back,” Sebastus admitted. “Our intent is to deliver a message, to those with traitorous intentions and those whom would harbor such peoples.”

“We are however, seeking a particular tactical asset with this operation,” the Director added. “It wasn’t just the Doctor’s expertise that Vertex Systems acquired when they brought him aboard. The company integrated a new Artificial Intelligence into the prime manufactory. It has remarkably increased their production, efficiency, and innovation.”

“Was Dr. Volun responsible for the A.I.?” Aurek asked.

“All signs point to yes,” Sebastus admitted. “There are no records of him being involved in a project dealing with developing such an entity, but it was within his area of expertise. It is possible that he was covertly diverting resources to it as a pet project.”

“We don’t want Dr. Volun. But I take it we want that A.I.,” Aurek suggested.

“The A.I. and the production facility,” Sebastus clarified. “By deciding to join forces with a traitor of the Empire and refusing to cooperate, Vertex Systems has opened themselves to the threat of military retaliation. They have decided to challenge the Empire. We have decided to answer that challenge.”
Loading into their shuttle, the Seven and Agent Sebastus stormed the Vertex Systems facility, dodging automated blaster fire, blowing a hole in the side of the towering structure, and systematically cutting a path through to the facility’s core. The agent would slice into systems and a trooper would secure a location. Even as they split up, even as the Seven became fewer and fewer as its members guarded the rear, Aurek and Sebastus arrived at their destination.

Whilst the agent handled Dr. Volun, Aurek shut down the inhibitor holding back Ulterior Battalion by throwing a satchel of det-charges into the facility’s power supply. As Major Synric’s forces stormed the manufactory, the Seven and Sebastus regrouped and made their way toward they shuttle, returning to the Ulterior as the battalion went to work.

Their job finished, the Seven intended to return to their usual station. But for a moment, Agent Sebastus found himself alone with the squad’s leader.

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“You and your men did good out there, Aurek,” Sebastus admitted. “Your squad has always been something of a peculiarity to me ever since we met back on Tatooine. I would never have been able to place your actual skill levels, or guess at what you were actually capable of accomplishing… but after today, I finally see that you are a team of capable individuals.”

“I know it may not seem like much, but thank you agent,” Aurek offered. “I got emotional back in the facility. You kept me focused in a time when it was absolutely necessary. The Seven isn’t used to such… constraints. I mean, we’re used to limitations, just not ones like we faced today. It feels strange performing in an honest to goodness operation.”

“You’re more than a capable leader,” Sebastus admitted. “And you’ve managed to squeeze out whatever talent might had laid dormant in these soldiers. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less out of you… isn’t that right, Mr. Kaven?” Aurek immediately directed his gaze toward the stoic agent, who refused to break of his own stare.

“How?” Aurek inquired with a hushed insistence.

“I figured it out. It’s kind of my business. Then again, you tend to remember the voices of war heroes,” Sebastus declared.

“Derro Kaven is dead,” Aurek proclaimed.

“Oh, of that I have no doubts,” Sebastus admitted. “Officially anyways. What was it? Casualty of the Sacking of Coruscant?”

“This is dangerous information to possess, agent,” Aurek proclaimed.

“Oh, of that I also have no doubts,” Sebastus repeated. “I have no intentions of disrupting whatever it is that your Director is trying to achieve. However, I feel I must warn you. All too often, those without names, those without faces… they tend to fall through the cracks. Discarded and forgotten.”

“It is not my intention nor desire to be remembered… to wallow in fame and admiration.”

“And yet you find yourself in a situation where both currently befall to you. You and your squad are skilled. The Empire will always take notice of that. And you’ve earned your squad mates’ admiration. Their trust. At this point, that is the very last thing you should reject.”
The Seven’s next mission would have them sent out on another expedition. But this time, they knew exactly where they were going, and exactly what they had to do. Unfortunately, that was not a return to normalcy. It was something far, far worse.

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“Gentlemen, your next assignment involves another of the Imperial Special Projects. A subterranean bioweapons research facility known as the Dirge Project,” the Director stated, attempting to regain control of the room. As soon as the woman spoke, the troopers knew to immediately reign themselves to silence. “This man was the Director of said project.”

“Never thought I’d see Director of another Project. How many of these things are there anyways?” Esk pondered aloud.

“Such information is not available to either of us, I must confess,” the Director of the Seven stated.

“Does this Sith have a name? Or is he just known as the Director as well?” Aurek curiously inquired.

“Because of recent events in regard to his project, and its dissolution, his status as Director and the confidentiality that comes with it has been revoked,” the Director informed.

“My name is Darth Terminus, Sith Alchemist,” the Pureblood spoke up. “I headed the Dirge Project, an endeavor combining powerful Dark-side teachings with advanced bioweapons research. There are other Sith Alchemists whom would seek to cheat death. Our purpose… was to perfect it.”
Whereas the Seven Project had forged faceless titans of Imperial dominance and expertise, the Dirge Project had birthed an infection meant only to corrupt life itself.

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“The virus in not… entirely unique. In the beginning, we had hope to get our hands on the research of Darth Drear, but the alchemist had managed to hide away the notes of his legacy. Instead we turned to another alchemical creation. The Rakghoul.”

“Rakghouls? The contagious mutants of Taris?” Aurek curiously inquired.

“They were originally the creation of one Darth Muur. He engineered the rakghoul plague to facilitate spreading his influence. We had used them as a design for our virus’s propagation.”

“You mean being spread by violent, physical contact.”

“Exactly. The Dirge virus killed whomever it infected, however, the virus would reanimate the infected and drive them toward a singular goal, spread the infection.”
Touching down on the uncharted planet home to the Dirge Project research facility, The Seven met with a group of Imperials lead by one Lieutenant Irom. Specializing in containing and neutralizing biological threats, the hardened soldier and his men would watch the topside whilst the Seven descended into the locked down, subterranean facility, under the order to purge anything that got out prior to its self-destruction.

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“Squad. Equipment check,” Aurek commanded. Immediately, the troopers retrieved their assortment of weapons and blaster from beneath their black ponchos and laid them neatly upon the table they encircled. The diversification of arms was readily apparent as the soldiers each bared their unique equipment. Besh retained his favorite sniper rifle from the armory. Cresh utilized his trademark pair of blaster pistols. Dorn had opted for a close quarters carbine in lieu of the traditional rifle. Esk had his scattergun from Tatooine, and had convinced the Director to procure more than enough shells to fully populated the bandoliers that crossed beneath his cloak. Forn had his dual blades, forgoing any caution in avoiding a melee with the infected, and a backup rifle upon a sling. Grek wielded a two-handed, rapid fire blaster rifle, considerably smaller than his trusty heavy repeater but nonetheless a nonstandard piece of armament. Curiously enough, the giant still bored a familiar black footlocker upon his back. Aurek laid the squad’s traditional interfacing blaster rifle upon the table, followed by a lightsaber a short moment later.
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“Behind this door, lies an elevator that will take us deep below the planet’s surface,” Aurek began. “This elevator is only the surface access for the entire facility. Once inside, we will divide into two teams. Forward team and defense team. Defense team will guard the elevator while forward team cuts a path through the facility. Forward team’s objective lies in four key data terminals operating on independent systems spread throughout the facility, as well as reaching the control center to activate the facility’s mechanical failsafe. Forward team will be composed of myself, Dorn, Esk, and Cresh. Dorn will be slicing through security systems and wiping Project information from the four data terminals. Esk is on demolition duty, making sure any Project assets remain unrecoverable. Cresh will act as additional manpower and mobile triage if need be. Besh, Forn, and Grek will establish a security point a short distance away from the elevator. We’ve limited intel on the facility’s architecture, but we’ve been assured that blueprints can be lifted from the data terminals, so once Dorn is patched into the first one, we’ll upload a copy for everyone in the squad. Any questions?”
With only a single, heavily monitored, elevator serving as the facility’s entrance, there was one way in, and one way out. Breaching the lockdown, the Seven made their way deep below the planet’s surface to face whatever threat lied below.

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The lift and its occupants were stilled. A sharp ding rang out from the elevator’s speakers, causing Cresh to jump. The troopers readied their weapons as Aurek maneuvered to the center of the lift. His rifle at his shoulder, the squad leader momentarily removed his left hand to offer a soft wave to his squad mates, ordering them to gather on either side of the elevator doors. Receding to the rear of the lift, Aurek took a knee, never pointing his rifle’s barrel away from the exit.

The doors began to part. Slowly. Unbearably so. Aurek issued a command to hold and stand ready. As more and more of the scene beyond was revealed, the Seven were greeted with another scene of utter stillness. Fully exposed, there were no signs of life or movement beyond the elevator. In front of them rest a long and narrow hallway that terminated at a ‘T’ intersection a considerable distance away. The halls matched the lift in stark whiteness. Architecturally sterile. An infinite array of tiny lights lined the upper extremities of the hall, capitalizing the facility’s pale cleanliness. None blinking. None flickering. No signs of procedures interrupted. Only emptiness. Except for one blistering contrast.

Midway between the lift and the hall’s end, a corpse lay face down upon the floor. Human. White lab coat. Utterly paled. It was if the body was actively trying to conform to the facility’s aesthetic. Cautiously, Aurek rose and stepped from the confines of the lift, the other members of the Seven following close behind. With each step, a resounding click followed as their boots impacted against the crisp, hardened floor. Aurek lead the troopers in deeper, keeping his weapon trained upon the corpse that lay before them at all times.

Standing directly before the prone body, Aurek stopped completely, his squad mates shortly after. The figure’s flesh had gone completely gray. The only spot of red on his was the exposed wound on his neck, as if something primal had gnawed and torn the spot from the man. A curious lack of blood. The wound was remarkably dry, but so was the surrounding floor. Taking a bit of initiative, Aurek raised his boot before pressing it upon the body’s exposed hand. No reaction. The squad spread out. Grek and Besh pushed forward toward the intersection as the rest examined the corpse.

The first infected the Seven came across had already been dealt with, a hole bored into his head by one of the facility’s occupants during the initial outbreak.
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“The eyes… blood red,” Forn commented.

“Hrm?” Cresh muttered, suddenly interested in the figure. Forn waved for the medic to come closer as he took hold of the infected’s jaw. Gently turning the head from side to side the hunter studied as Cresh took a knee next to him.

“One of the things we were taught… was that the eyes were the most telling parts of a humanoid's body,” Forn declared.

“Taught… you mean as a Mandalorian?” Cresh inquired. Forn only offered turn of his helm and a silent nod.

“Such intricate organs. They’re the first to tell you if something is wrong,” Forn explained. “One could have nerves of steel, an unbreakable stance, but the eyes… the eyes always tell a story. They tell of fear. Of sickness. They’re the hardest things to properly replicate for prosthetics and shape shifters. They’re how we connect to others. That’s why soldiers and hunters really wear helmets. T-visors and facemasks remove the humanity. Make it easier to kill. Easier to cope with the losses. This corpse is more human than you or I.”
Securing their first objective, Aurek had already grown increasingly dissatisfied with the task his team had been given. Ordered to wipe all the data present in the facility’s systems, Aurek ordered Dorn to only do so after they had secured themselves a copy. They were endangering themselves at the behest of a Sith Alchemist who had given them almost nothing to go on, and they had no intention of dying for him. If there was any information that could aid them, classified or not, they would not carelessly throw it away.

Pressing forward, the squad split into two teams. Forward team and defense team. Besh, Forn, and Grek fortified their position at the initial T-intersection, maintaining a clear path back to the elevator. Aurek, Cresh, Dorn, and Esk would move deeper into the facility, set on visiting the four data stations and eventually triggering a self-destruct sequence. But as they journey deeper, it was only a matter of time before the team encountered their first active infected.

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Esk struggled to free himself from the inescapable grasp of the infected individual that refused to relinquish his grip on the trooper’s torso. Wrapping itself around the demolitionist, the undead clawed and raked its digits across the soldier’s hardened armor plating.

“Esk!” Aurek shouted out, more stern than concerned. Ignoring his commander, Esk continued to make a series of wild incomprehensive flailing of his tongue as he emoted his inherent displeasure in the current situation he found himself it. Aurek rubbed the brow of his helmet as the sight continued. “Esk…”

Suddenly, the demolitionist stopped and mentally addressed the situation as the infected individual was still wrapping its limbs over his shoulders. Panning his gaze in front of him, Esk saw that his fellow squad members had sufficiently calmed, showing no signs of worry or concern in his predicament. Looking down, he watched the decomposing hand of the undead ineffectually clawing at his armored torso, and turned to see its head mindlessly trying to gnaw at his shoulder, incapable of even piercing the raincoat draped over it, let alone the armor plating.

Calm and collected, Esk reached up and gently grasped the infected’s arms to stop their motion, finding it remarkable easy to subdue the individual. With the undead’s limbs in check, the demolitionist lowered and rotated himself to be fully out of the individual’s grasp. As the infected slowly tried to flail its limbs toward Esk, he found it remarkably easy to keep the aggressor at bay by simply extending his arm and placing his hand on the undead’s chest, keeping it at arm’s length behind the now shattered pane of glass.

“A Rakghoul… this is not,” Esk stated, composed but still catching his breath.
Whilst the forward team moved toward the second data terminal, Forn had grown bored in defending the elevator without an eminent threat present. Journeying into the western halls of the facility alone, he left Besh and Grek to stand guard. Walking through the living quarters of the research facility, Forn cut down whatever lumbering infected stood in his way, but his most impressive find came in the form of a survivor.

One of the scientists working within the facility had been hiding away, and Forn found him whilst scavenging for food and water. The lone survivor, Forn decided to help accompany him to the mess hall until he figured out what to do with him.

The forward team found the second data terminal in a security station, stocked with monitoring equipment and used weaponry. After sifting through the terminal’s files, the group received a full layout of the facility, and learned that it was larger than they had expected. Twice as large, in fact. The schematics spoke of two halves, divided by a single reinforced door.

On the monitoring equipment, the team saw Forn and his guest in the mess hall, and decided to find out whatever they could. It was then the Seven learned that the Dirge project was actually composed of two teams, led by two Darths, using two halves of the facility to achieve their goal in two ways. But their objective both remained the same. They both sought the same thing, and knowing that fact drove them to try and beat their rivals toward perfecting their biological weapon.

Being only a low-level biochemist, the protocols of the Dirge Project prohibited the survivor from knowing about anything beyond the divide, only their relationship with it. But with two data terminals remaining and the facility’s other security station resting in the other half of the facility, the forward team has no choice but to press on. They have no idea what they’ll encounter. More infected. Survivors cut off from the outbreak. Or perhaps something much, much worse.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------