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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 11:08 pm 
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OOC: I’m updating again. I think this is probably a sign of the end of the world or something like that. Then again, I have pounds of homework that I should be working on over this weekend that’s undone, thus it really isn’t too out of character for me. The universe as a whole, at least, is probably going to be alright.

IC: Karat Sal did not like the infidels who surrounded him at all. The feeling was mutual, that much was for sure, though the intensity and reasons for it were not. Sal sneered, stretching his scars and scabs as he did so; a thin trickle of blood from a recent sacrificial cut by his flat nose began to drip down along the natural curve of his face, rising over the individual scar bumps.

The room he stood within was almost entirely made of yorik coral; one of the first locations to be worked upon by the shapers, it had been to test and ensure the survival of the coral on this area of the moon; after Ithor’s effects on the armor, it was seen as a necessary precaution. Karat Sal did not care for precautions or attempts to cheat death; had he been at Ithor, he would have fought not in dead armor as some chose to, but in only a warrior’s loincloth. Had he not known of the allergen, he would have died; that was the way of things, and he would have liked to die on this moon had the gods willed it.

Blood- scarlet, argent, ebon, jade- coated the walls, dripped from the small bumps in them. The lambants situated in individual nooks and crannies were all at least partly obscured by the fluid, and so cast varied glows upon the room and the beings held within. Rather than using the Embrace of Pain, which drained the resource for other warriors, the Shapers were trying something new: using the living bodies as nutrients to be assimilated into the coral. So far it wasn’t taking very well with any of the species, though Karat Sal found it pleasing on an aesthetic level. It was almost symbolic of this war, the whimpering, crying creatures before him denying the Divine Right of the Yuuzhan Vong to this galaxy and bleeding as the Yuuzhan Vong assimilated only that which was necessary from them- in the case of the galaxy, the planets, and in the case of the yorik coral, the core elements and compounds of the bodies.

Karat Sal advanced to one of the prisoners, a human female with short black hair, and touched her gently beneath her chin with his fingers, letting the long talon-like nails at the ends push the skin with almost enough force to break the skin there, to the point where only a fraction of an exertion on his part would start her bleeding.

“Te-el ma, infadal, ees thees youar preshous bais sick?â€

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 12:53 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:52 pm 
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IC: "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiincoming." I said it as if I were an announcer, though I didn't know why. Probably because I knew it would annoy Omen.
"What?"
"Vong. Or other life forms. Incoming. From above." I pointed at the ceiling. As if on cue it let a shower of pebbles fall.
"Sensors?" she asked, clearly irked that her Force couldn't detect the incoming Yuuzhan Vong.
"Nope, I just happen to have better Jedi training than you. I can see them coming well before-"
"Shut up." She let the heavy pack drop and closed her eyes. In an instant she opened them again, freed her lightsaber of its place on her hip, lit it, and sliced a hole in the ceiling. A startled warrior fell through and made to remove his amphistaff from its place upon his arm before he had even landed. Omen was still quicker, though, and before his knees had fully bent to absorb the shock of landing, the warrior's spine had been slashed at the nape of the neck, and he fell bonelessly in a heap.
"Did we not just have a discussion about the need to avoid slicing and dicing these guys?" My helmet began to ping at me again, incessantly as another one approached the hole where his friend had just fallen through.
"Look, I can do it, too!" And in one smooth motion, while the warrior was coming down with his feet in front of him and his amphistaff rigid and pointed at my heart in a beautiful example of aerial entrance against an enemy and the advantages it offers in mele combat, I shot him in chin.
She blinked. "Nice shot."
"Thank you. Nice swordsmanship. Now why in all nine Correlian hells and half of their purgatories did you feel the need to completely blow our element of surprise?"
"Because Runt needed it."
"Excuse me?"
"Runt. Hohass. The big furry brown-"
"I know who he is, woman! What makes you think he wants you slicing and dicing people like this?!"
Her eyes narrowed. "Because he's been found."
"Oh." I took a moment to process that. And another. I would have taken a third, but suddenly my helmet went from silent to emitting a near-constant tone as we were rushed.
"Iiiiiiiiiiin-"
"Shut up and move!" she cut me off.
"Right, brilliant plan- which way?"
"Up." And with that she bent her legs- and leaped two and a half meters straight up to the next floor of the building. I whistled to myself and cut in my jet pack to make up for my inability to do as much.
"Amazing as your abilities are, we now have a good squad of warriors coming-" she produced a thermal detonator. Without pausing in my speech or even changing the inflection, I continued, "Where the hell did you find a thermal detonator?"
She looked at me quizzically a second after she'd armed it. "Runt brought them with him," she said simply.
"Oh." An awkward second passed. "You know, throwing that would probably be a really good move, considering you set the timer for all of five seconds."
"Huh? Oh, right." She nonchalantly tossed it over her shoulder- right into the breast plate of the leading Vong warrior in a small pack of them.
"How do you do that?"
"Skill." The detonator lived up to its name at the same moment the warriors thought to free their ranged thud bugs.
I shook my head in a mixture of admiration and disgust; that toss had been sheer luck- had to have been. I would have killed for a thermal detonator at least once an hour for the six months I'd been trapped here, and she'd just casually tossed the thing away with no consideration- and she'd had it work. The bitch.
Adjusting my weight, I shot off my jet pack and smashed a hole in the ceiling. Weakened as the material was, and hard as my armor was, it hardly hurt when I crashed through. What did hurt was when my boot caught on a ropey root from the Vong building that was assimilating the old building and sent me cartwheeling onto a still-solid support beam.
"Are you okay?"
"Dandy. Get me the damn pack. If Hohass wants a distraction, we'll give him one. This thing'll burn three klicks higher'n anything I ever lit up before."

OOC: Just a little jump for this RP. I still have the full plot figured out, just not the time to update as often as I'd like. For instance, right now I still have three homework assignments completely undone that I should really be attending to, considering that it's 10:00 PM right now. As a matter of fact, I will.

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12/14/07
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Not gone, merely marching far away


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:15 am 
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:56 pm 
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OOC: I guess it isn't necessary to write out of character posts in colors now, is it? You'll be missed, Paul, for your constant comments as we wrote throughout this, and I'll be sure to find you a place in this story as it unfolds farther; you deserve that much and much, much more...

IC: "One more second and we're good to go."
"One more second and I'm gone!"
She probably meant it. Omen was at her rope's end right now, fending off the survivors of her thermal detonator attack and then some as new waves came in. A cut ran along her collarbone from a near miss of a razor bug that had continued along its ballistic trajectory to smack me solidly in the back of the head, and a bruise was starting to purple up brilliantly over her left bicep, which she still seemed incapable of using ever since that thud bug had smashed into it.
Nonetheless she was still standing, still whirling her lightsaber in impossible complex patterns and fending off bug after bug while I affixed the varying bits and pieces of the backpack to the root of the Vong building.
"One more second... one more second..."
Omen let out a grunt as one more ranged projectile hit her. "One. You've had your second, either leave it and run, or keep working on it without me!"
"Almost done," I said, staring at the small diode that was flashing increasingly quickly, indicating that the chemical had almost all been absorbed into the nutrients web of the damutek. It became a constant light.
"Done. Alright, let's move."
"Gladly." I looked up and grimaced. Omen had taken a hard blow to the sternum from a thud bug and was bent over with the pain. It wasn't compassion over her life that concerned me so much as it was the loss of assets.
Losing her drastically decreased my chances of making it out of here. Leaving her to die removed me entirely from Hohass's good books, and eliminated my access to weapons being run to and paid for by the Hutt Underground. I had to get her out, but wounded as she was she could only slow me down.
Then there was the issue of the ten warriors still standing. I emerged from my cover behind one of the taproots of the damutek and back into the dilapidated corridor that we'd been using for a battleground. A hail of bugs instantly swarmed toward me, but they came from far enough back that I could duck them with relative ease. It seemed that only sheer numbers had gotten to Omen rather than any actual difficulty with dodging or deflecting the organic weapons.
I dropped to one knee and pulled out both of my heavy pistols from my belt. Sighting along my arm I fired once, twice, three times with each pistol. The the shots from my left hand found only armor, which was to be expected considering how it was my non dominant hand and not the one I was aiming with.
My right shots, however, each slammed into bandoleers of bugs. As the living sacks burst the weapons that were their charges did the one thing they knew how to do- they buzzed out and swarmed the nearest targets, the warriors. In the ensuing confusion I rushed forward, firing as I went at an enemy that wasn't certain whether to maintain ranged attacks or to switch over to mele weapons. Two of them fell to shots in the eyes while they were busy deciding, but that still left eight warriors, albeit stunned ones.
This would not be fun.

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12/14/07
Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la
Not gone, merely marching far away


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:01 pm 
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I was on my fourth warrior when the rocket blast hit.

I was taking them down quickly and effectively; at medium range I was deadly. If a short didn't find an eye hole or a soft joint in the armor, it at least packed enough of a punch to send a warrior staggering back.

The blast from the rocket had the power to send them flying back. Not that it was a terribly new rocket; it wasn't. It was a PLEX rocket, ancient by the day's standards, but still more than deadly enough. It hit the center of the pack, luckily, but it still sent me flying backward. My armor saved my life; with no obvious holes in it and a heat-resistant body glove covering me where the plates didn't, it merely felt as if a Star Destroyer had decided to land on my body, nothing worse.

I slammed into a root protruding from the ceiling as I flew, then hit the floor- and kept going. The roots of the ridiculously fast growing damutek had descended in the few minutes of the fight into the floor of the room we were in now and had begun to borrow in. Yuuzhan Vong mosses and plant life had preceded the roots, and now they'd finally weakened the floor to the consistency of a stale pastry.

I landed painfully on my back after a hardly abated two story drop, and I felt the top of my jet pack jar against my head. In front of me one of those ridiculously tough warriors picked himself up off of the floor and uncoiled his amphistaff while I was still trying to force my lungs to accept the air they so desperately needed but still scorned.

"Fierfek," I wheezed, trying to convince my arms to force me to back up. They didn't respond very well; I found myself using my fingertips more than anything to force myself back and carving a rut in the top millimeter of the the duracrete where my body slid against it. The warrior was on his feet.

"Dammit!" He started forward, a slow, awkward stagger; he held his leg awkwardly. A moment later it gave out and I realized why; it wasn't there. The empty, dead shell of a Voonum Crab was all that remained in that leg where the fire of the blast had burnt it off, and he'd been using the shell as a crutch until it broke.

And he still came. No one could that much pain. No one. And he did.

A moment later he didn't. His head was gone, and now his brain was no longer capable of interpreting pain. I looked at where the splatterings of his head and biots had been, then followed the line they described back to a smoking blaster the size of a large infant. It was anything but infant-like, and it was recharging.

My brain finally kicked into gear despite the fact that my body wouldn't, and I activated my jet pack, blasting backward and avoiding the next shot from the massive blaster; the sort of firepower it packed prevented it from having a high rate of fire, and it had to be reloaded after a mere twenty shots; not worth the effort in my opinion; I liked to have fifty shots in each fist, though the jarring impact of the missile had deprived me of both of my heavy blasters.

The blaster roared again, and the blast clipped my left arm- on the armor rather than the flesh- and sent me spinning in an uncontrolled, still jet-pack assisted flight in the next wall. Biots had done some work on this one as well, but no taproots had reached this wall. My impact with it only left a crater in the side; at the center I could see a tiny hole into the next room over, but then I was falling away and I lost it as my jet pack cut off and I fell to the floor for the second time in under a minute, racing spiderweb cracks down to it. A hissing noise suddenly filled the room, and it took me a moment to realize that helmet had not switched to infrared; it was merely showing me that the room was now lit predominantly by a red glow.

I forced my battered body to leap once more, and I was glad I did; a second later the blaster roared, though I didn't detect the impact until several seconds later; it wasn't nearly as on target as it ought to have been.

"Shadow, Omen, come in. Get out of there, now."

I swore. The usefulness of "Shadow" as a code name was now lost, seeing as Micus was in the room with me and had clearly heard my name on the comm band we were using.

I swung around to face him again, ignoring Hohass's voice as it blared within my helmet. "There are more Yuuzhan Vong converging on your position, including a CoralSkipper; I repeat, get out of there, now!"

"Stang!" I clicked a switch with my tongue to have my helmet light up with yellow boxes to show me where my pistols lay, all the while scanning the room to see what was going on.

Micus, looking like some sort of strange Yuuzhan Vong himself in his black-and-silver armor, was facing off with Omen. She had her lightsaber blade raised to his face, but he had his blaster at her gut. It was readily apparent that both knew about the impending reinforcements; the tension in the air was palpable.

"I'm just here for him." They were the first words I'd heard Micus utter in person in a while; the comm words didn't count, they'd been transmitted electronically.

"Trust me," Omen growled, "I'd love to give him to you, but right now he's with my meal ticket on this planet, so I really can't."

She was standing right next to one of my blasters. My second was just barely clinging to the hole in the ceiling by the trigger housing.

"Just lower the lightsaber, let me end something that should have ended long ago, and you can just say that the Vong got him."

"Again, I'd love to, but no."

A distraction. I needed a distraction above all else, something to stop them, to keep me safe and to help me. The building above, the damutek, was still filled with the explosive substance- but it was just a few meters above my head, if even that. The blast would be worse than the rocket had been by far. If I could get one of my blasters that would help. It might even let me finally kill Micus, and if I did, there was a good chance that he'd take Omen out for me, killing two of my enemies in one fell swoop; I could even tell Hohass I'd been trying to save Omen when I shot Micus.

That could work if I had one or more of my heavy blasters. A second later the ground began to vibrate. Dust fell from the ceiling. The hole in the roof dumped my blaster into my hand at the same moment Omen and Micus shifted to look up, Omen taking a step forward, Micus a step back.

I lunged forward, quickly, and snagged my other blaster with my left hand and unloaded both at close range right into Micus's chest plate- or rather, I would have.

With a swear to match my own he'd fired off his own jet pack as soon as the Vong reinforcements began to become ominous. He took a pot shot at me as he shot backward in a controlled assault on the far wall unlike my uncontrolled smash, and it would have hit and ripped straight through my armor, Mando Iron or no, if not for Omen's blade intercepting it first and sending it flying back into the crater I'd left on the opposite wall when I hit it.

Both that wall and the wall Micus had aimed for collapsed at the same moment; the stress was too much for the two remaining walls, and roof started to come down on us.

"Stang!" I dropped to the ground and and punched it on the way, trying to smash a hole through it that could drop us to safety. It dented in the imprint of my first, but held.

"Stang!" I jumped away from the spot a moment before large chunk of duracrete smashed into it; unfortunately for both myself and Omen the floor still held.

I leaped for the hole Micus's shot and my body had made while Omen opted for the hole closer to her that Micus had blasted. The floor still held, even when heavy Yuuzhan Vong warriors in heavy Vondun Crab armor landed amidst the rubble of the floor.

Omen threw another thermal detonator that I hadn't known about into the center of the room and rolled it out of the way of a thrusting amphistaff. The floor no longer held.

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12/14/07
Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la
Not gone, merely marching far away


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 5:48 am 
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OOC: Just letting you all know, that I'm still here. I unfortunately got into the habit of not scrolling to the bottom of page, and have missed a bit - so, I'll read up and try to post soon

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2008 4:06 pm 
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OOC: Good stuff, Tofu. I'm, unfortunately, having a hard time visualizing the situations, but that might have to do with me more than anything else--action scenes are not my forte. Still, I'm glad to see Micus finally in the situation. I'm drafting a scene now and will try to post it within the next twenty-four hours.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:05 am 
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    Based on the report submitted by the Orvic, it is my express opinion that our operations in the Y'Toub system are no longer tenable. It is imperative that our operators be extracted without delay.
    --General Turr Phennir, Director of Imperial Special Operations Command, in a confidential message to Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon, Supreme Commander


How can I get back to the beginning?

They were the same words he'd been waking to every morning since the drop, those moments he actually slept, and even then he never slept well. Guilt. It was really the only thing that could be causing the pit in his stomach, that feeling of wanting to retch and scream at once and not being able to do a damned thing about it. Twenty-nine men under his command were dead, the botched orbital drop leaving few bodies but those who'd made it to ground and been ambushed by the Vong. Frantic comm calls, requests for backup, and the horrifying sound of his men being torn to pieces by living, breathing weapons.

And then there was that nightmare... Journeyman Protectors in armor, anonymous behind their helmets, outside the small farm house. They'd spoken their words and made it clear: There would be no other way. The boy is to be raised by Lord Mandalore himself. You have no choice in the matter.

And then his father, unarmored, curved vibrosword in both hands held at the ready, standing between the Protectors and the house, slightly hunched to one side from a wound to his side. Beside him, a dead Protector, his torso sliced cleanly in two, lay in a puddle of blood and dirt. Nothing for miles beyond but gold grain, ripe for harvesting, and the pair speeder bikes, painted black--the color of justice.

You will not take my son!

He awoke so quickly and so suddenly, gasping for breath, he felt as though he'd been underwater for ages. Instinctively his hand dropped to the blaster pistol at his side. If they had planned--

But there was nothing, just the strange blue hue of the Nal Hutta swamps. How had he not realized it was just that same dream again--but he had, hadn't he?...

Killian's tall form walked into the cave mouth, in armor except for his helmet, rubbing at his eyes irritably. He stopped short and fixed his gaze on him. "Captain, are you alright? You look pale."

Veriol took his hand from the pistol and rubbed his face, running his fingers through the stubble of a few days without shaving. Pollution was sickening here and all it did was infect the skin, so he'd been sure to make it clear shaving was optional. The biggest problem was it interfered with the helmet's seal. Perron was already sporting a good growth of hair and every day looked more like the street thug he'd been on Borgo Prime than the professional soldier he was now.

"Captain...?"

Veriol shook his head, then stopped midway and nodded. "Yes, I'm fine," he said, waving a dismissive hand. "What news of the outside world?"

Killian was silent a moment, which meant he was studying Veriol, but after a moment kept walking to his gear and hunched over it, rifling through it. "Cris had an encounter this morning with some species of amphibian."

"Did you tell him he can't keep it?"

"I made sure I was clear that on the restriction of keeping animals that try to eat their captors."

"Ah, yes, General Order 53."

Killian snorted, which for anyone else would have been mild amusement, but to the old Master Sergeant was nothing short of outright laughter. "He killed it, but Ur'Ylee says it wasn't edible."

Veriol stood and pulled on the camouflage fatigues they'd started wearing. It was made a material that made it resistant to blaster fire, a step down from the proofed armor, but much more comfortable. The fact Killian wore his armor all the time said less about the fatigues and more about the Master Sergeant's convictions.

"Quite a shame, too, since I would have very much enjoyed some fresh food."

Veriol felt his eyebrow twitch. Killian wasn't like some senior NCOs he'd worked with who'd come right out and say what needed to be said--he had more tact than that, which often made it all the more intimidating. "Something wrong with the food we're getting from the locals?"

Killian turned his face upward and squeezed the small bottle of liquid into his eyes, blinking rapidly as fluid ran down his cheeks. "No," he said, turning back to his equipment and looking for all the world like some sort of sobbing children's holovid, "we just haven't received anything recently."

Veriol frowned, strapping on his pistol and holster. "No presents from them again?"

"None." Killian sat down and carefully worked stiff muscles in his neck, popping the vertebrae and sighing with relief. "I get the feeling something has gone wrong."

Damn. He took the assault carbine and strapped it on, holding it against his chest, and finally dawned the floppy-rimmed cap that helped break up the contours so typical of a humanoid. "Do you think we should go have a chat with them?"

Killian shrugged.

In any other unit of the Army, it would have been a sign of weakness for an officer to so blatantly ask for advice from one of his NCOs, but in Special Operations, it was a different matter entirely--not asking would have been a sign of weakness in the form of overconfidence. It wasn't a democracy, but it was as close as one got in the Imperial Military.

"Maybe we should wave our pet Mandalorian in their face and see what we get."

Veriol felt his face go from a simple frown to bitter anger. "We are Imperial Stormtrooper commandos. We don't need that sort of scum for persuasion."

Killian kept his gaze firm, but it was apparent he disapproved.

So did Veriol. From the second the words left his mouth, he knew he'd made a mistake. Stormtroopers were hardly the intimidating force they used to be, not in a galaxy invaded by super-creatures capable of killing Jedi and leveling entire worlds without the aide of a Death Star. Those were the old days, the words he'd actually heard from his own training sergeant the first day of training in the Corps, back when it'd still been its own contingent of the military and not yet part of the structure of the Imperial Army. Some people called those the good old days--those were the ones out of touch with reality, and he'd just spouted that same nonsense.

"Excuse me, Sergeant," he said with a shake of the head. "Perhaps the very presence of a Mandalorian will be enough to shake the locals into remembering our deal."

Killian shrugged. "Your choice, sir."

Veriol nodded and started away, out of the cave and into the clearing they'd come to use as their temporary base. Lying in the leaves and dirt was Cris, eyes closed and rifle still slung across his chest. He, too, was wearing the camouflage fatigues. "Catch anything to eat, Cris?"

Cris opened an eye, focused on him, then closed it again. "Leave it to Master Sergeant Killian to run his mouth," he said, as though he were speaking to himself. "Nope, Captain. Nothing worth noting."

Veriol looked around the clearing, but the only other two commandos visible were Ur'Ylee and Perron cleaning their carbines, cleaning kit between them.

"Morning, Captain," Ur'Ylee called over--both were wearing the fatigues. "Or rather, whatever morning is here."

It was still dark outside, but only for a day or so, and it wasn't really even planetary day-time, so "morning" was something a little more anachronistic than in normal places.

Veriol nodded a greeting to the two of them. The rest of the commandos had to be either deeper in the cave, or out in the swamp where he couldn't see them. He clicked the back of his teeth together, activating the tiny headset comm he wore on his right ear. "Who's closest to the vill?" The used code, simple as it might be, in case Peace Brigade was intercepting their messages.

"I am, sir," Pestin's voice came back over the comm. "There's some activity, but nothing out of the unusual. I take it they decided against feeding us this morning?"

"We'll find out." He walked over to Cris and shoved him with the tip of his boot. "Cris, on your feet. You're coming with me."

Cris grunted. "C'mon, Captain. Just five more minutes."

Veriol rolled his eyes. Damn commandos. "On your feet. And get our guest, we're bringing him along."

That got Cris's attention. "The Mandolorian?" He came to his feet, standing a good head taller than Veriol. "Why?"

"Just get him," Veriol said, not in the mood to joke around.

Cris shrugged and walked back into the cave and back to the makeshift detention cell they'd made out of a recess in the rear part of the cave.

"What's the plan, sir?" Pestin said. "Thinking about going Vader on them?"

There was an assorted round of chuckles over the comm.

"Not yet," Veriol replied. "We have to stay on good terms with these people."

"Doesn't it bother you, though, sir, that the people we're training today are going to be the people we'll probably be fighting the next time around?" That was Trenswel, a sergeant. "It's what happened on Orinda."

"That's the nature of special forces," Veriol said. "Besides, we don't teach them all the tricks. And if things go wrong, we can always call in the Starfleet to level the place."

Another small chorus of approving chuckles and snorts filled the comm.

But Trenswel wasn't satisfied. "If that's the case, sir, then where's the fleet now?"

The comm went dead silent and out of the corner of his eye, Veriol saw Ur'Ylee and Perron both stop in the middle of their cleaning. If they were anything to gauge by, the entire team had that distant, forlorn look they got when something suddenly seemed genuinely hopeless. He hated to admit it, and he never would where a Navy boy could hear it, but the sight of one of those ships always made him feel better. They were the big guns, the save-all for the special ops--and they were nowhere to be found.

Dangerous situation.

The officer in him kicked in. "They'll be here," he said. "Admiral Pellaeon won't let us down."

"The way the Moffs are holding the leash since Ithor, it's hard to see the old man coming through," Perron said.

"Perron, I've been under Admiral Pellaeon since before you robbed your first speeder," Veriol said, turning to face the younger man. "He has never let us down, and I don't see him starting now."

"Right," Brechet, one of the more senior sergeants in the team, said. "Back when I was with 19 SOG, it was Admiral Pellaeon who personally extracted us at Gravlex Med when our original way out had been destroyed."

"Personally?" Cris called, his voice echoing with the tell-tale sounds of a cave. "I didn't think the old man had it in him to run around in armor--"

"Shut it, kark," Brechet cut in bitterly. "Admiral Pellaeon brought the Chimaera, fresh from recapture, explicitly to extract us when he could just as easily left us behind, which was what we expected. I'm with the Captain: if Admiral Pellaeon or General Phennir haven't sent someone to retrieve us yet, then there's a damn good reason why."

"Politics," someone grumbled too low to be deciphered.

The rest of the team, Veriol included, grumbled their own annoyance.

It was then that Cris emerged from the cave with the Mandalorian walking in front of him, wrists bound behind his back. He immediately locked gazes with Veriol and his expression went from just plan displeasure to fury. "Firefek, you look exactly like a kriffing Mando."

Since the meds had worn off, the Mandalorian, Saith, had started getting less concerned for his own life and more with harassing Veriol.

Cris took note and whacked him in the back of the head with the butt of his carbine. "Play nice, now, dear Mando, or you won't live to see your precious armor."

The Mandalorian's eyes widened. It was the one thing they'd been able to use against him--the armor, or rather, what was left of it. The device they'd detonated hadn't left much of the Vong barracks, so the fact the helmet and the breast and back plates still existed was a testament to the durability of Mandalorian armor--beskar'gam. But the mercenary didn't need to know all that, he just needed to know they had his armor and he wouldn't get it back until they decided he'd been cooperative enough to suit their needs.

Veriol almost wanted to grin, but couldn't bring himself to delight in the other's agony, strange as it might.

"Gents, we're going to pay our neighbors a visit and see if can't get this mealplan issue resolved," Veriol said into the comm. "We're taking the Mandalorian for a walk with us."

"Hey, Captain, see if they have any of that drink they gave us the other night," Irikani said. "Good stuff, that."

"Chocolate?"

"Yeah, that's it."

Veriol rolled his eyes--the stuff was decent, but nothing worth getting excited over. "Anyone else need something from the store?"

"`Fresher paper," Killian said, always the practical one. "Lots and lots of `fresher paper."

Again, Veriol couldn't help but roll his eyes. "Come on, get a move on it," he said, shoving the Mandalorian out in front. "If any of those giant frogs gets hungry, I want to make sure he gets you."

"What, no brotherly love for a fellow Mando?" Saith said, starting into the swamp. "What's the matter, ner vod, does--"

"Mando, shut your kriffing trap or I'll chop you up and make you fish bait for our dinner," Cris said. "Don't worry, I'll use my knuckle blade to make sure you get the full experience."

That might have shut the Mandalorian up, but Veriol wanted to make sure. "One, word, Mandalorian, and I take your armor and give it to the Hutts a a gift. Then I let my boys chop you up and make some use of your hide."

Saith tensed noticeably, but he kept walking.

What would his father say? About taking a Mandalorian prisoner and using him this way?

Veriol shook his head. It didn't matter. What mattered now was staying alive.


OOC: I'll continue this scene later.

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"Hohass? Are you there?"

The voice that replied was weary. "We are here. Where are you?"

"Inside the building that the shapers were building that damutek thing on. I got separated from Omen."

"What? How? Is she alright? Are you alright? What happened?"

I began to pace as I spoke and studied my surroundings. This place appeared to have been someone's office; a dilapidated chair covered in mold spores that looked more like they came naturally to Nar Shadda than the Yuuzhan Vong variety sat behind a desk that had clearly seen a firefight. A personal datapad jack was inlaid on the desk, but a narrow hole running through it and into the floor lent itself to the idea that a warrior had bashed it through with his weapon.

"We were making our way up like you wanted when suddenly Omen just froze and told me you needed a distraction of some sort."

"You just believed her at that?"

"Hell no. But she jumped up and carved out a chunk of the ceiling a second after she'd said that, so I really didn't have much choice but to take part in the distraction. And before you ask, I delivered the package into the root structure. Whenever you want to detonate it you can."

"Good. Meet us back at Base One." Base One was what I had come to think of as home- the Crematorium I'd taken refuge in for the six months before these goody-goods showed up and decided to go on the offensive. If not for the weapons that they promised, I wouldn't have come with them this far. But blaster packs were getting rarer and rarer, and I'd gone through every last explosive I'd had on my person upon my arrival here. I had no choice but to stick with them, even if it meant consorting with a Jedi.

"Will do."

"Wait. Shadow, hold on a second, I have another call."

I sighed. "You can go ahead and call me Krassus now, you've gone and borked everything up by doing that once already- Micus found me and tried to blow my head off. It's how I got separated from Omen."

I was talking to someone who wasn't there. I sighed and scoped out the rest of the room. Opposite the desk were a pair of chairs, or at least, what had started their lives as chairs. The one closer to me had clearly been hit with blaster bolts before, and it was missing one of its four legs. The one farther from me appeared to have been a bar stool at some time, and had been reduced to the central spire that would have held up the cushion for someone's ass. The current configuration looked none too inviting.

Hohass still hadn't spoken to me again a few moments later, so I took the chair behind the desk. I was glad for my air filters, for the moment I touched down in it a cloud of something dusty shot up into the air and would have had me coughing had I not been protected. The mold actually cushioned the chair more; It was somewhat comfortable.

"Shadow? Are you still there?"

"Go ahead and call me Krassus. And yes, I am."

"Good. Omen is still in the building as well, but she's injured."

"How so?"

"That Mandalorian that attacked you both was still in the room she jumped into after the detonator went off."

"Alright."

"She's still in there, too."

"I don't know if she told you this, but he actually wasn't after her; he was trying to kill me."

"Why is this?"

"It's a long, involved, boring story that I really don't want to talk about. The important part is that he has no reason to hurt her."

"He seems to think he does. She tried to save you."

"Good for her, I remember. She was an idiot to do so- is that what you wanted? I might have gotten hurt in the process, but I could have gotten away from him again."

"Again?"

I winced. "Yeah, we've met before. A couple of times."

"Well right now I'm talking to him."

A scampering sensation ran up my spine, as though a rodent had crawled into my armor and up my back. "How, exactly, and why, exactly, are you talking to him?"

"Via comlink, and I haven't made any promises. I-"

"Hohass, I do not want to go back there, and I do not want to have to go up against him. He has a much more powerful blaster than I do, and he knows how to try to kill me the most effectively."

"He's in the next room over. Get over there and talk to him, Krassus."

"Talking is going to be a firefight! Spast, don't you get it? He wants me dead!"

"She's a Jedi, she can get out of that, can't she? Should be child's play."

"She's unconscious, Krassus."

"Fierfek..." I muttered it to myself more than to anyone in particular. Micus's blaster had begun its life as a longblaster, but over the years he'd modified it. It was still primarily a long range weapon, and had retained most of its ability as a sniper rifle, but he'd increased the output on it for maximum destruction, and had toned back enough on the focusing of the laser to allow for about a 25% increase in rate of fire.

If he'd added a stun feature to that thing for whatever reason the power of the stun blast would be pretty much unmatched; It actually made sense. Stun bolts came out as concentric circles, but after a short distance they generally didn't retain enough power to do much more than send a tingly sensation through a target. His blaster was meant for sniping, though, and had the equipment the retain the focus of the beam. Fired from far enough away, there would be almost no way to avoid the beam, and a quick, sprinting target such as myself could be caught much more quickly.

"Stang. Well this sucks." I said it matter of factly.

"Krassus, go in there."

"I'll say this very slowly and carefully for you: If I go in there I will die. I do not want to die. Therefor I will not go in there. Send Igens. Hell, you go in there yourself."

"Igens and I are on a neighboring building. We can see inside there."

"Well provide support for me, then, and shoot Micus in the head."

"Is Micus the Mandalorian?"

"Yes."

"Oh. Well, no, we won't. It's too far away, and besides, the beskar will just absorb the impact of the bolt. If you go, though."

"Then he'll release Omen, yes, because I'll be dead. Hohass, I was doing alright until you guys showed up. I got banged up by a thud bug or two, but all in all I had no issues I couldn't solve myself. I have every right to kick you out of my home in that crematorium. I ought to."

"But you're going to help us, now."

I stood up and looked incredulously through the hole in the wall I'd dived through back through to the one Micus and Omen had taken refuge in. "Hell no. Omen's the Jedi, not you- stop trying the Jedi Mind Tricks, you suck at 'em. Tell you what I'll do- I'll blast out nice and pretty near them and Micus will shoot at me. If he hits me, I hope you die a slow, painful death at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong. I hope they skin you alive, in fact."

"Charming."

"If he misses, though, I'll keep going and get to cover or something like it. I'll rendezvous back with you at Base One. If he hits me, though, your ass is haunted."

"Understood."

OOC: Okeedokee- now to study for my ****ing midterms that I take in four days! Yippee!

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OOC: This is actually a part of the last scene I posted, so it's shorter than usual. If you know what the Vong did to Nal Hutta, you'll know what's going on.

IC:
The walk through the swamp wasn't as difficult in the creeping days of dawn than it was in pitch-black darkness. Still it was a pain not be able to see everything, and he cursed himself for not having had the foresight to wear the tactical armor instead of cloth fatigues.

Cris and the Mandalorian seemed less concerned. Cris was tall and lanky, which made it easy for him to step over the smaller obstacles, and the Mandalorian seemed to have a sixth sense about these sorts of place--no doubt the childhood brain-washing and indoctrination to be super-solders since birth. For his part, Veriol had been trained to specialize in mountainous terrain, but when General Phennir had taken over as Director of Special Operations Command, he'd phased out the specialized units and made sure all personnel were crossed-trained in every environment. It wasn't so much a bad move as it was one of bad timing--Veriol hadn't yet finished Jungle Ops School when they'd been deployed. Just his luck Delta Company got Y'Toub and not some place like Helska 4 or Gyndine--though both of those seem to be lost for good. Why High Command had decided on casting their lot with the Hutts, he wasn't sure, but it was probably a way of ingratiating systems to the Empire and manipulate them to join.

Politics.

He looked around the swamp. He could swear something was happening to the swamp--it almost seemed to be dying. Swamps were certainly a place of death and decay, but there was something remarkably peculiar about the place, as if the planet life were all wilting away. Additionally, they started noticing that the wildlife was getting slower in its movements and much of it seemed to be sick...

He put it out of mind. The camp lay ahead, not far--the trail was a well-worn game trail for some large predator. Whatever predator it had been, though, it was gone now. Maybe the Hutts still used it, if there were any Hutts left on the planet. He had, in fact, not seen a single Hutt since arriving, but had he really expected to see a Hutt amidst the resistance? A Hutt carrying a blaster and doing work for himself? Never in a thousand years did he expect to see that. It was why people like Saith existed. Mercenaries, hired to do other people's bidding--

If not because he looked in time, he would have plowed directly into Cris from behind, just managing to dodge a collision. "Damn it, Cris, why the hell are we stopping?"

Cris's tanned face had gone a ghostly pale and his eyes were wide, the same sort of expression Veriol had seen on other's faces when they saw their buddies die.

"Wha--?" And then he caught sight of it. Just a little further ahead, through the surprisingly sparse tree line, lay the resistance camp--or rather, what remained of it. From a dozen places, plumes of smoke rose and all over the camp lay a fine gray mist, like fog.

"Fierfek..." Saith mumbled.

"I--I guess that's why we haven't got any food from them," Cris said, his voice quiet and squeaky. "The scarheads must have found them."

Veriol narrowed his eyes and again wished he had his helmet and all the systems built into it.

"We should check for survivors..." Saith said, though it sounded more like question, and he was looking at Veriol.

Veriol didn't bother answering. He started down the trail, carbine held ready--and stopped. From within the base came a hissing sound like gas escaping a pressurized cabin, but it was constant. The sound oscillated and for a moment he swore the mist was oscillating with the sound, becoming bright and then soft.

"Captain, maybe we should call the rest of the squad."

Veriol nodded and activated his comm. "Pestin, you there?"

No response.

Veriol swallowed hard and backed away from the camp, back towards Cris and Saith. "This is Delta Six, anyone read me?"

"Roger, Delta Six," Killian's voice came back over the comm. "I'm not getting a response from Pestin either."

"Can you check his readings?" Veriol said, noticing that he'd started inching further and further from the camp, more or less pulling the other two with him.

"Negative, Six," Killian replied. "He's not wearing his armor."

"Do you at least have a lock on his position?"

Killian was quite a moment. "Negative, Six." He sounded confused in that quiet sort of way he handled everything. "What's going on?"

Veriol could hear his heart pounding in his ears. Reports had come in from intelligence of the scarheads using biological weapons against their enemy without discrimination. If that was the case--

The hissing from the camp grew suddenly louder and seemed to be getting closer.

"Back," he croaked tensely. "Back."

Cris didn't bother asking what was wrong and started back down the trail towards the cave, Saith in tow.

"Ah, what the hell?" Saith protested.

"Shut it," Veriol growled, moving alongside the Mandalorian. "Delta, get your armor back on."

"What about Pestin?" Ur'Ylee commed.

Veriol shook his head. Who knew what had happened to the poor lad. "Get your armor on, then we'll figure it out. Prepare to bug out."

That was all the prompting the other needed. The comm was suddenly filled with the hard breathing of men moving quickly and the hushed tones of controlled panic.

"Sir, what's going on?" Killian said with the tone of a father questioning a less than candid child.

The fact of the matter was, Veriol didn't know what was actually the matter. In fact, he only had one word in mind, and he couldn't be sure it was the right reason...

Spores.

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    The fact of the matter is, the regular forces are under the leadership of the Supreme Commander, but administered by their respective Sector Chiefs, thus making the Moff Council a check on the powers of the Supreme Commander as commander-in-chief. This does not account for Special Operations Command, which is under the direct authority of High Command and therefore the Supreme Commander, thus creating a loophole in which I was able to provide threatened worlds with assistance while the political situation on Bastion was settled. I have no regrets of making the decision to assist the New Republic in such a clandestine way, which was unknown even to them, but the wisdom of time has shown me that a better administration of that power would have been preferable.
    --memoirs of Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon on the war against the Yuuzhan Vong


Buckets on, you Gungans! NBC doesn't stand for Nuts, Breasts, and Cunts! Nuclear, Biological, Chemical! Get it through your thick skulls!

It was funny the strange things that came back to you in times of crisis. They said that in combat, a soldier's brains become liquid and flow out their ears, leaving on training behind. When he'd been a recruit and then in Stormtrooper School, he'd suspected it was all a bunch of rubbish the drill instructors were taught to spout at every recruit they could get their hands on. It wasn't until training kicked in without you realizing that it became apparent that old Sarge knew a thing or two. It was probably was saved them.

All but one.

Pestin.

He was the thirtieth--Mister Even Thirty, Killian called him--dead or missing in the company. Whatever was in the air, it was eating away at the foliage and the wildlife. From the ridge they'd taken for their new base of operations, he could see the valley below, all of it covered in that same what fog--the hissing mist from the resistance village. It was, by what he could see, quite literally consuming everything around it.

"Sergeant Ur'Ylee says it can't be spores," Irikani said quietly, sitting next to him on the rocky outcropping. "He says it's got to be some sort of predatory virus or bacteria."

They were the only words that had come out of the Sergeant since they'd made the hasty retreat from the cave. Ur'Ylee and Pestin had been in the same company for longer than Veriol had been in the battalion, section chief and commando. The hardest deaths weren't those in combat, but the ones that came suddenly and you were helpless to do a thing. It was all Veriol could do to keep himself from going down there and trying to find the body, if anything remained. It just wasn't right to leave a man behind like that, not on this forsaken rock.

What about the other twenty-nine? Some of their remains still existed, somewhere in the swamps. He'd left those for the wildlife to feast on, only taking their individualized armor serial code tab and their identity tags with him, stored in a pocket on his jumpsuit, directly underneath his right armpit. A pocket on the arm or leg would have been easier, but he didn't want to risk losing an ID if he lost a limb. The only way he'd lose the tags were if he was killed--it was the least he could do for them.

And yet, he didn't have Pestin's. Somewhere in the mist and shadow lay a dead Stormtrooper, a loyal soldier of the Empire, and nothing of him would remain but memories. It was a fate worst than disintegration during orbital drop, a fate that had befallen far too many of Delta Company's commandos, because in those cases quite literally nothing remained. Here, a body remained, and yet there was no one but the carrion creatures to look after it.

Did he have any family? Most men in the special forces line of work didn't. Pestin, though... Perhaps, perhaps not. The next of kin would get a regret-to-inform-you-letter from High Command with a copy of the Supreme Commander's signature at the bottom. It'd probably say something about Pestin being an exemplary soldier who had served his nation loyally and honorably, and then make up some reason for his death in peacetime: a training accident, a vehicle crash. Someone from SOCOM would call him and tell him what had happened, in case anyone asked the "awkward questions" and that would be it.

Corporal Jorgallus Pestin (Stormtrooper Commando). Delta Company, 2 Battalion, 25 Special Operations Group. Just another anonymous star on the wall in SOCOM headquarters.

He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat and felt like he going to throw up. He fought against it--throwing up in your helmet was worse than losing a leg, they said, from the years of embarrassment--

What was he saying?! One of his men was dead, and he was worried about being embarrassed? It was a wonder how he'd got himself into that Promotion Board nonsense and earned an appointment to the rank of Major...

"Captain?"

Veriol snapped back to reality and his eyes focused again. Irikani was gazing at him, helmet off, to dry the sweat from his forehead.

"You alright, sir? For a moment, it seems you zoned out..."

How Irikani could tell what was happening behind the helmet was only something one learned with years of experience around anonymous troopers. It wasn't something easily learned.

"I should be getting back to the camp," he said and startled himself at just how strained and ill his voice sounded.

Irikani cocked his head fractionally, hardly noticeable, confused, but nodded all the same. "I'll report in if I see anything worth sharing." He replaced his helmet and resumed the vigil.

Veriol sat a moment longer, studying the younger man just a moment, and then, crawling and finally standing and walking, started back towards the new camp. The foliage here was as dark and uninviting as the valley had been since their first day groundside. Here the swamp was alive with creatures and in the creeping dawn, the faint flicker of beady eyes watched him from the darkness, large rats in shades fluorescent green with his night-vision. There hadn't been any of those in the valley. They weren't much larger than poultry birds, but they were an unknown variable in a world of unknowns. The fact they watched him instead of running said they didn't fear him, which wasn't exactly a positive sign. At least in the valley the animals had been large and loud, content to sit in their mud holes and wait for their prey to come to them...

The area they'd chosen for their new camp wasn't nearly as well camouflaged as the previous locale, which very likely meant they would be moving again. Despite the rocky outcroppings, there were no caves to hide in here and very few places to burrow without a great deal of explosives. It was hardly the situation they wanted to be in while keeping a low profile.

No fires. It would be local daytime soon, which meant the environmental scrubbers would be out. With any luck, the scarheads would destroy that bit of technology, too, rendering their living vehicles unusable. The problem wasn't them, though, it was the humans, the traitors...the Peace Brigade.

Killian looked up from his datapad, helmetless, alert as always. "Any sign of Pestin?" he asked softly.

Veriol dropped down next to him, sitting on the ground and then lay all the way back, right hand still on the carbine. "Nothing."

Killian nodded sagely. "Good man, he was."

Veriol didn't respond--what could he say?

Killian scratched noisily at the stubble on his cheek. "That Mandalorian is becoming quite the pain."

Veriol frowned, something no one else would have seen behind the black helmet. It was the first time Killian had given an opinion about Saith.

"Do you believe he'll still be useful to as a bargaining chip?"

That hadn't crossed his mind in some time. It was the sole reason they still kept Saith alive, much less with them, but with the resistance cell destroyed...

"Because he's no use to us as dead weight," Killian said in that way he did when he had an opinion.

Veriol cocked an eyebrow. He didn't want to keep playing this game. "Out with it."

Even from where Veriol lay, he could see Killian smile.

"If a Mandalorian is good to us as a stripped prisoner, how much better might he be with the armor on?"

"You want to give him back his armor?"

"Another pair of eyes, another pair of legs, and another pair of hands to shoot a blaster." Killian shrugged. "They breed those boys to fight from day one, exposing the defective ones to the elements and all that, just to keep the gene pool clean and all that, or so the stories go."

"Yeah, well, don't believe everything you hear."

And for the first time since he'd met the Master Sergeant, Killian stopped abruptly and seemed genuinely taken aback.

Veriol cocked his head to one side.

"With all due respect, I find it hard to believe you would be defending the Mandalorians after the way you treat our prisoner."

"I was hardly defending the Mandalorians--"

"And something else," Killian cut in. "I did a background check on you, and there's no record of you having been taught Mando'a in the Academy or anywhere else. Hell, the only place in Imperial space that teaches Mando'a is the the University of Sartinaynian, and your records show you never worked as a liaison or exchange with New Rep forces."

"Sergeant, does your file show everything you've done in your career?"

"With all due respect, Captain, I'm not kriffing idiot." He peered across the camp to were Perron and Cris sat chatting with the Mandalorian. "I'm not fond of mercs myself, sir, but those Mando boys fight, and fight hard. If we don't need him anymore, why not just shoot the kriffer and be done with it?"

Veriol felt something drop to the pit of his stomach and sat up to avoid heaving. With care, he unfastened the seals on the helmet and took it off, setting it down next to him. A stream of cool air hit him immediately, though it stank of rot and decay. He wiped his forehead clean of sweat he hadn't realized was there before. "He's dangerous," he at last managed. "All Mandalorians are. They're just neks on leashes, but the moment you give them their freedom, they'll tear you apart." Veriol narrowed his gaze on Saith. "He's docile without his armor, but have no doubt he'll turn on us and kill us for chance he gets."

Killian looked back across the camp at Saith for a long while, then faced Veriol again. "If he's a nek, then his mangy mutt and ought be put down."

Deep within him, Veriol felt a drive to agree with Killian, to take out his anger and frustrations on the Mandalorian. Twenty-seven years of exile, his father's life--it all came down to one Mandalorian, and here he was, ripe for the kill. The man was unarmed and defenseless. It would only take a second and twenty-seven years of injustice would at last be avenged.

And then Saith laughed.

Everything seemed to shatter at once. This wasn't just some animal or even a droid--he was a human being. The laugh was all it took.

Veriol sighed heavily and dropped his gaze to the ground in front of him

What would dad say?

"You said you checked up on me..." he said into the silence after a long while.

Killian nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Then you'll know I came from an orphanage on Muunilinst."

"Yes."

Twenty-seven years. Twenty-two since...

"I don't remember my real parents," he said. "They were killed when I was very young, but it had to do with my father being unwanted where we lived. Mandalorians killed my father and my mother."

Killian opened his mouth and sighed, sounding relieved. "Ah, I see--"

"No, you don't." Veriol clenched his jaw hard. "It's not as simple as that. I had no knowledge of that event until I was older. I hold no grudge against the Mandalorians for the death of my blood-parents--they are complete strangers to me."

Killian fell to silence.

"Captain," a small, tinny voice came from the comm on his helmet.

He pulled the helmet on. "Go ahead."

"Sir"--it was Moriartil, a sergeant--"you said to remind you when local day time was one hour out."

Damn it. "Any sign of the scrubbers?"

"Not as many as yesterday or as many as the day before, but they're starting to come out." There was a pause. "Most of them are headed towards our old home."

Beyond the HUD, Veriol could see Cris and Perron listening intently to something Saith was telling them, their eyes wide in the way small children enjoyed listening to stories.

"Any sign of the scarheads or Peace Brigade?"

"Nothing, sir." Moriartil stopped for a second in that distracted way of someone reading something. "Local net is acting funny. I get the feeling the scarheads are taking out some pent-up aggression on more tech. Even the Peace Brigade channels are out of whack."

Veriol frowned. On a place where the upper atmosphere was as polluted as Nal Hutta, the Vong needed the Peace Brigade's services since their own craft couldn't handle the pollution. If they were both destroying the droid scrubbers and taking out the net...

All the better. Let the shebse shoot themselves in the foot. Less problems for us to deal with.

"Bad news, sir..." Moriartil prompted.

"You have some?"

"No, I mean, is it bad news?"

"No. The scarheads are doing themselves harm, no one else. Maybe if they soften themselves up some, we'll be able to move in and for easy pickings."

"Think they might have Pestin?"

Veriol felt that same wrenching pain again, this time in his chest.

"I hope so."

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:46 pm 
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So ... many ... words ... my head's going to explode! I'm still looking for my old notes as well, I guess I'll just read my old stuff and make something up soon.
By the way, it must be said, both of you are REALLY great writers 8O

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 7:09 pm 
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OOC: Thanks. It's good that we're both decent so that we can cover for your incopetant pieces of verbal vomit. :wink: [/kidding] Just for the record, will Evaders get mad at you for saying "*" SOCL?
BTW, Krytos: Toward the end of this thing SOCL and I are both calling in the cavalry. I know I screwed it up in the beginning when I said that Nar Shadda was the capital of Nal Hutta (Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah, it's a moon, I know.), but we're both in the same system, so one Galactic Alliance Fleet will be sent in to help us out. Interested in sending your characters in with the ground forces? PM me and I'll act as a liason to SOCL and we can figure out tactics for the endgame fight (Which won't be for a while)

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12/14/07
Nu kyr'adyc, shi taab'echaaj'la
Not gone, merely marching far away


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:03 pm 
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Location: Alexandria, VA
OOC:
DarthTofu wrote:
Just for the record, will Evaders get mad at you for saying "*" SOCL?
I'm not sure. It wasn't meant offensively or as a curse at anyone--just a statement from a character, so I'm not sure... If he says something, I'll come up with something a bit more...mannered(?).

I'm having a hard time with my story because I'm trying to develop something that seems difficult to fit. Basically, my mindset going into the story is different from what it is presently, so we'll see how that works to thrust my boys in odd directions. I'm trying to stay away from doing too much of this wandering nonsense, but without going into too much action (although at this point, I may need to throw in some).

We'll see...


IC:
    Despite recent events throughout the Galaxy relating to the Intergalactic Invaders, it is the Council's policy that this conflict does not and should not concern the Empire. Whatever the actions taken in the past, the Moff Council remains concerned with the domestic matters at hand and is not prepared to involve this government in a war between other states.
    --Press Secretary for the Moff Council, concerning recent concerns of war, Bastion


It had come all too suddenly and as much as they'd tried to evade it, there was nowhere to go now. They had two options: keep moving south until they ran into the enemy and fight there, or set up an ambush. The Team couldn't handle it, not in their present condition. Maybe if the three teams weren't so kriffing far apart, then maybe--just maybe--he'd be able to slaughter the enemy where they stood.

The most important concept, the one things you ladies need to remember, is that we're not just commandos, we're Special Forces. The capitals were obvious by the way the Major had said it. That means one thing, and one thing alone, and if you leave here with a shattered wrist, a destroyed spine, or actually make it through the course, you'd damn well better remember what it is: force-multiplier.

Twelve men, a company!
One hundred men, an army!
Every man a soldier.
Every man a general.


It had been drilled, drilled, and drilled into his head, first in Stormcommando training, then at in officer training. Take the locals, train them, make them your own, and teach them to kill the enemy.

At least they were accomplishing that part of their mission.

In the trees, in the mud, behind embankments and rocks, something approaching thirty sentients were scattered, each armed and armored in whatever was available. Interspersed among them, distinctive in either their matte-black armor or the camouflage swamp fatigues were the men of Team 3--the remaining thirteen. It was a textbook example of what special forces did best.

He'd decided against the armor in favor of the more diplomatic cloth fatigues, a sign of respect and trust to the locals in taking the risk of showing his face. What they didn't know was that he still wore the armor breastplate and greaves--no point in taking that many risks. Let Killian be the hard-ass sergeant everyone feared, anonymous behind that black helmet--officers had an entirely different role to play in situations like this, and if it meant taking a larger risk, then it meant taking that particular risk. Eating their food and giving the resistance leader at least the appearance of command and control was part of that, as frustrating as it might be. In this case, at least, the man had made the right decision.

...if calling him a man was appropriate.

A lot of Imperials, and especially the generation from the High Empire, utterly hated non-humans with a bigotry which rivaled that on Corellia. Special forces operators couldn't be fools and had to see past skin, anatomy--everything--to the being's mind. A sentient was just another weapon.

In this case, that weapon came with fangs and a disturbing lust for blood.

The Trandoshan--Gressh--snarled in what was either glee or serious consideration. "The enemy is very near and know nothing of our ambush."

"Good," Veriol said, doing his best to understand the Trandoshan's heavily accented basic. "We will have to pull out of this area as quickly as we can."

"Indeeeeed," Gressh snarled. "The Peace Brigade has many ships in this area. They will descend on us like carrion flies at a fresh kill."

An image of Pestin's body lying somewhere in the swamp, being torn apart by insects and rats leaped into his mind. They'd never had a chance to go back into the Valley--the mist had never dissipated--and with the pollution scrubbers all but dead now, there was no hope likely ever returning...

"He could be a prisoner," Saith had said, uninvited.

"No." Veriol had shook his head. "Commandos aren't taken prisoner."

He tried not to think of Pestin making use of the suicide tooth...

"They are here," Gressh said, smacking his lips with a ravenous delight.

"Contact," Killian's voice came over the comm, soft in the way of someone keeping themselves hidden.

More reports came down the line. The formation was set up in a large semi-circle overlooking a small depression, Veriol and Gressh, along with a few of the resistance fighters, sat far in front of the enemy. The depression was the most obvious pass through this part of the swamp, which made it the ideal location for the ambush.

Ur'Ylee cursed. "Sir, some of these guys are ex-Stormtroopers. They have old armor, just painted over."

Gressh narrowed his eyes. "They are traitors all the same." He turned to face Veriol. "Will your men fight their own?"

Veriol nodded, though it didn't make him feel good about it. "They will," he said, making sure it went over the comm. "They chose their side in this war and its against us. Let them die like scarheads."

There were more than a few grunts of approval over the comm, but the silence from a few of the older commandos spoke greater volumes.

Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 94, Section 8: Mutiny; capital offense punishable by death without due process or court-martial.

"Steady, boys," he said into the comm, bringing the carbine to his shoulder and lining up the sights--rather, the scope. Down the scope, he could see the gray figures moving in eerily well-drilled military formation, coming directly towards them. It was true, a few had Stormtrooper armor--which didn't necessarily make them Stormtroopers, though too many of their own had joined the Brigade--but most just wore blaster resistant breastplates with night-vision goggles... "Maybe they don't know how to use them properly..." he mumbled to himself.

"Perhaps." Gressh growled deeply. "Now, we begin the slaughter."

Veriol resisted the urge to role his eyes. Why did all amateur and wannabe soldiers have to say some dramatic line before starting.

Gressh lined up his rifle, an enormous sniper slug-thrower than made Veriol cringe, and in the seconds that followed, Veriol could have sworn an artillery round had gone of directly next to him as the damn thing fired.

Far, far, far ahead, not yet aware of the shot, the torso on one of the traitors exploded, leaving nothing by legs and a bloody splattering. It was a sight Veriol could have done without.

"Hard contact!" The call came from a dozen places at once and suddenly the area lit with the blaze of red and blue bolts, sizzling through the swamp and the daytime jungle.

Veriol fired once--just once. There was no point in attracting attention to their position when the rest of the fighters on their side had a much better vantage point. Better a spotter in this case. "Seven-seven-four. Next to a tree."

The head on the designated target exploded.

"Eight-six-nine. Prone."

Dead.

"Four-three-seven."

Dead.

Dead.

Dead.

And almost as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped. Over the din, he could hear a few of the commandos--the sergeants--shouting to cease fire. The resistance fighters complied, if grudgingly.

"Come, human," Gressh said, licking his teeth. "Let us see what remains."

Veriol nodded and came to a kneeling position. "Good work, personnel. Hold position and do not fire--we're going in--"

Gressh took off ahead of him.

"Gressh!" he called after the Trandoshan, who was quickly followed by the rest of the resistance fighters around him. "Kriffing--commandos, cover out advance." He stood and made after the locals. "Gressh, halt! We can't be sure how safe the position is!"

"They are all dead," the Trandoshan called back, kicking at a body. "Well, maybe not all." Like some beastly bird, the Trandoshan snapped his head forward and came back up, mouth dripping with blood with a ragged meat in his mouth. Blood seemed to spout at his feet, and as he approached, Veriol saw that the Trandoshan had bitten the throat out of one of the enemy.

"This is war, Captain," Gressh said. "For us, it is not like you, who go home to easy living again and good house and food. On Nal Hutta, we must do what can be done to survive."

Veriol didn't bother responding.

Not far away, the sound of a pellet-slug thrower sounded, another one of the resistance fighters finishing off the enemy.

"How's it look, sir?" Killian asked.

Veriol just shook his head, certain the Master Sergeant was watching him.

He walked further ahead and found one of the Stromtrooper-armored enemies. He rolled the man over on his back and even though the face was anonymous, just that same mechanical frown, he felt a pang of guilt on his gut. At least it looked like one of theirs. He knelt beside the fellow and removed the helmet. The face behind it was just as anonymous as the helmet and the armor--an aged, rugged face with a well-set jaw. An example of soldiering, no doubt, and still he could have been anyone--Stormtrooper armor was plentiful and easy to find on the black market.

He started getting back up--and then he caught sight of something black just visible above the neck line. He probed it with his fingers, but it didn't ooze like a wound or react like a bruise. Flexing his right hand, he unsheathed the knuckle-blade on his right hand and delicately cut away at the black body suit, peeling away--

9 COMMANDO

He reacted as though he'd been stung, and he might as well have, and fell back on his haunches. He stared at the face, the features, and then the tattoo.

9 Commando.

As in 9 Commando Battalion, the "Misery of the Living." They were the original ones, the ones who'd hunted down the Rebels Skywalker and Organa, long, long ago.

He's a traitor. He chose to fight against you, for the scarheads.

"What are you doing here?" he whispered so softly he had trouble knowing whether he'd actually said it or thought it. "Why did you have to come in front of us?"

The body didn't answer--it couldn't and never would.

Why--under what terms, under what threat...? Was it for profit, for thrill, for death...? How could...? It was just...

What had driven him to be here, to fight against his own people? Would he have come if he'd known that other Imperials were here, too? Did he even realize he was fighting for the Enemy?

A thousand questions rushed through his mind and he willed the dead ex-commando to come to life and answer them, answer all of them.

Answer them yourself!

The thought screamed in his head and he couldn't be sure whether he'd thought it or someone else had said it. How could he answer for this dead man?...

"Captain, the enemy is starting to move." That was Killian. "If we're going to make a break out, we need to do it now."

Veriol tore his gaze from the body--that's all that it was, a body. There was nothing else to it. No allegiance. No honor. It was a casualty of war.

"Gressh," he said, turning towards the Trandoshan, "we should be away."

The Trandoshan studied him a long moment with a single unmoving reptilian eye. "Yes, you are right," he said at last. "Let us leave this place an example to the rest of the Peace Brigade."

The order went out across the comm, but Veriol didn't register it--no consciously, at least. His legs moved, yes, and his body moved in time. He was aware that he'd marched along and then found his place in the column, but somehow that didn't matter.

He couldn't help but think of Pestin in that moment, dead on this forsaken place. Was the dead soldier all that different from him?

Is he all that different than me?

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