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Author Topic: The Battle for Abregado-Rae  (Read 836 times)

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Offline LVT

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The Battle for Abregado-Rae
« on: 01/08/17, 11:54:31 PM »
+3 Show voters
This project came about as the Coalition gathered resources over the months. We selected a target after Hark mentioned his homeworld one day, and the management role of managment fell to me. I don't want to clutter this with a thank you, when I'm probably going to write an essay on it, but that you all for your support. This project lived because of you.

News Channel Post: (coming soon)
Raw Document for easier reading and download for reading on the go: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16xEhsGWvaLawTXSLyKI25CBoH6pzZ7zNRgYM8KZwGmA/edit?usp=sharing



    Abregado-Rae had a surprisingly rimward feel for a core world. It’s main city was relatively rough living, divided evenly between settlers who had created an industrial core in most of their burgeoning cities, gangs and smugglers. Though often looked down upon by the other core worlds, it is a valuable world, the starting point for those braving Rimma Trade Route. By that reasoning was to no one’s surprise, that the planet hosted a Star Fortress.
    On the subject of the fortress, the core worlds tended to have stations that were particularly well armed. The coreworld fortresses had extra arms to justify being so far from Zakuulian territory. The initial reports showed that the fortress itself had more than a division of skytroopers and light armor to deploy quickly to control any situation below, and the number of knights stationed there are fairly numerous.
   The shield generator for the fortress sat far from population centers. Outside of cities and towns was a verdant planet, with rolling hills and lively forests. The generator was thusly located far west of Capital City. Near a vast forest, the area around the generator is cleared of everything and heavily patrolled. Zakuul also has presence in the few villages nearby, maintaining outpost and supplies to control what little populace farmed that far out.
    The morning of the attack is a misty one. The hills and forests of Rae tended woke slowly to the noise and bustle of a planet alive, yet drowned out by the clatter of mechanics. The Skytrooper patrols had started the shift change, to rotate out the wear on the units, as their organic commanders sluggishly got out of bed to exchange places with their tired comrades.
    As coalition forces approach their target, scattered Zakuulian encrypts reach the ears of the attackers. For some reason, an error with a replacement part had put an error in an alignment of the city destroying cannon. Whether by dumb luck or by will of the force (or those wielding it), the ground forces would not be the cause of the cities destruction today. Now, it was up to them to finish the job.

   Exephos paced the deck of the transport cruiser, overlooking the people he was about to send into battle. He sized up the quality of his troops, before giving off a loud bellow.  "This is addressed to those that will be serving alongside my troops on the front, you know who you are; so listen up!" Exephos growled.
    He put his hands behind his back and ran his gaze across those assembled.
    "First off! You are ALL to respect my chain of command! That means that you don't give orders to my troopers and you stay out of their way. Some of them have been doing this for longer than you've been alive, understand?" He barked, before gesturing to the side at a trooper with a walker silhouette painted on his pauldrons. An additional synthleather kerchief was wrapped around the lower half of his helmet and neck for added protection against shrapnel.
    "This is Lieutenant Horsav, head of the lead walker for this mission! He will be giving you the ground rules for operating around his machines!" Exephos grated out.
    Horsav stepped forwards.
    "Alright, we'll be deploying two kinds of walkers on this mission. First is the Manka-class. They're the big boys. They weigh one hundred tons, have a primary armament of two heavy cannons, and a variety of other anti-personnel weaponry. Second is the lance walkers. They're bipedal two-man light armour designed to hit fast with their heavy repeaters and missile systems then exfil. They'll be providing close support while the Mankas lay down the firepower." He explained, eyeing the crowd from behind his reflective visor.
    "Now, first thing's first; stay out of the way of my walkers, alright? The crews will be focusing on taking out enemy assets; they can't be looking for people down below and if they step on you, you’re dead. Nothing left but a grease-spot." The lieutenant stated.
    "Second; do NOT climb on the walkers without notifying the tankers, aye? There are sensors on the hull that will notify them that there's something hitchhiking and they will activate the electroshock plating. At best, you'll get zapped right off. At worst, the cleaning crews will be scraping your charred remains from the fuselage." Horsav described with the barest trace of humour.
    "Now lastly; ensure that you wear ear protection AT ALL times, even if you’re 'used to loud noises' or indoors. The power of the ordnance we're firing at such close range will, and yes it positively will, deafen you. We've had it reach volumes up to one hundred and eighty decibels which is loud enough to cause permanent harm!" Horsav finished, looking around at those gathered; his gaze lingering before he nodded at Exephos.
    "Finally, I want to make this last part very clear... You watch your fire very carefully. If I hear that one of my troopers was injured or killed because one of you got trigger happy or swung your blade too far... I will personally rip out your eyeballs and force them down your throats." He warned quietly.
    “Now get to your stations! Rancor platoon, with Shad’ra! Aashe, Besk, and Cresh companies, to your walkers! Those of the coalition, make yourselves bloody useful!”
« Last Edit: 01/16/17, 07:30:48 PM by LVT »
Turari (29, Major, jr. grade CEDF)     Silivia Fenir (21, Freighter Captain)
Lashila Sellara (25, Grey Sith)         Harkasone Milan (29, Philanthropist)
Reill Farr(31, Silent Mandalorian)     Mystenin Felsa (26, 'Green' Jedi)
Touko Saizar(19, Turari's underling) Temple Guard #124(35, Pro Spook)
                                                    Philla Kasan (29, Captain, 51st Recon)

Offline LVT

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Re: The Battle for Abregado-Rae
« Reply #1 on: 01/09/17, 01:06:49 AM »
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    "Alright, listen up. Our primary mission is to take the attention off the main force and divert any reinforcements away from the main battle. Same operational principle as our campaign on Byblos, wanton destruction; also known as terror demolitions. But we go in quietly. I want to be inside their perimeter before we go loud, understand?" Shad'ra stated to the troopers of Rancor platoon and the rest of the skirmish party, gathered around in the dense forestry of Abregado-Rae.
    "Our first target is two kilometers due north of our position. It's an ammunition dump for Zakuul's ground forces, specifically their armoured vehicles. Priority is to eliminate them first so they can't be mobilized. ROE is as always; shoot anything that moves." Shad'ra explained, before pulling on his helmet.
    "Let's move. Eyes open for patrols." He instructed before leading the way through the thick undergrowth.
   
    "I want a walker..." Urziya said wistfully, looking at Shad'ra's troops as they left.
    "What would you do with it?" said the brown-and-green Togruta next to her, checking over his armor, testing his weapons over for the hundredth time. "Your ship isn't even big enough to put it in."
    Terrnock was her cousin, but here, on the field, he was her brother. Just like the good two dozen of her clan who'd shown up to the call, all brothers and sisters. Stragglers, wanderers, those who hadn't followed the initial call to war during the past 5 years and wanted to prove themselves... She gave him a smile and a shrug, pointed at the distant building that was their destination.
    "I'd walk it into that and make a giant explosion," she said, grinning. "Shoot a lot of things. Make it go out with a blaze of fire. Don't need to put it on the ship after."
    Terrnock snorted, flipping down the visor that was attached to rings around his montrals. "You just keep your attention on our targets on the ground. We get the bunker, remember? Better'n a walker."
    Urziya huffed, tapping a button on her similar headgear, though hers came with more protective plating. "Yeah, yeah."
    "It's your friends and battle little one." Terrnock thumped her shoulder, pushing her forward. "You let the tsad in the plan."
    Another sigh, and the sunny Togruta clambered up to a more visible point, gesturing to the Alliance-members around her as she amplified her voice through the helm: "Alright, you heard Colonel Exephos, so you know he's covering us to the bunker and while we're inside. It's close quarters, so we're small, and... we might be smaller by the time we get there." She paused. "Don't shoot each other. Please. Beskaryc verda and saber-wielders, if we run into any Knights, you take front. You've got the defenses for it. Everyone else, focus on the skytroopers and explosives. Exephos and his men evidently don't think they're fast enough to actually go inside, so when you hear we've set our charges, you run. Fast. Jet it, Force speed, whatever you have to do."
    She was trying to sound as professional as the Colonel. Instead, she just felt excited. It had been years since she was in a real battle, and she already felt pumped full of energy. She hoped she wasn't talking too fast. She was almost certain she was.
   
    "And, uh, hunt well," she finished, jumping down. She spied a familiar face in the crowd, and added, "We'll all have stories to tell when we're back."
    "Not too shabby," Terrnock said, a smile on his face. "You'll learn speechmaking eventually."
    Urziya took out her blasters, smiling back under the faceplate. "Like you said, focus on the ground."
   
    The terrain wasn't as rough as Onderon, but getting through all the foliage was difficult even then.They could have brought up one of those force-user's lightsabers and they could be through it all in no time at all but that would leave a trail and the energy signature could alert nearby skytroopers.
    "I'm really beginning to hate the di'kut that decided white armour was a good idea..." Ryyk remarked over their helmet comms.
    Shad'ra didn't respond, instead peeking around a tree to see if a natural clearing was safe to cross.It looked secure, but he was still suspicious. He held up a clenched hand, signalling the attack group to stop.
    "Trouble?" A nearby trooper asked in a low voice.
    "Not sure." Shad'ra whispered back, eyeing the surrounding treeline.
    "There. There." The trooper breathed, pointing towards two skytroopers striding into the clearing.
    "Keep low." Shad'ra ordered through the comms, before laying down on the ground and watching the two proceed through his rifle's scope.
    "We do not engage. If their systems detect two droids going dark, we're kriffed." Ryyk hissed through the comms.
    He remained silent, tracking them until they were long out of sight.
    "We're clear. Keep moving." He affirmed, standing up and stalking quickly across the clearing with the platoon following behind, weapons raised and scanning the perimeter.
    Then just as quickly as they appeared, they were gone; disappearing back into the trees.
    Or, well, disappearing as best as they could with white armour.
    "I'm really beginning to hate the stanging buffoon that decided it'd be a good idea for us to have the brightest armour possible." One of the commandos of Rancor platoon added over their private helmet comms.
    “Keep it down. Could be that Zakuul’s set up high-intensity interception equipment. Then we’d have the whole talyc garrison breathing down our necks.” He reprimanded as they made their way at a creeping pace through a dry riverbed.
    “Aye-aye.” The trooper returned, before there was silence.
    They were able to make fairly good time under the circumstances, remaining on schedule with their pre-planned approach up to the point that they were able to see glimpses of their first target through the trees.
    “Down. Down. Down.” Sergeant Limmer whispered over the comms.
    Shad’ra quickly dropped flat and remained still like everyone else as a shuttle did a low fly-by just overhead.
    “I swear, if they saw us because of our bloody bright whites…” The trooper from before hissed to himself.
    “Clear.” Ryyk whispered as the shuttle disappeared over the canopy.
    They were able to continue their approach right up to the edge of the ammunition dump.
    A grey five meter high perimeter wall greeted them, and if their sources were right, it was also a meter thick. Imposing to assault head-on, but they were fortunately going in through the back; though the ‘back’ was a relative term. There wasn’t actually a door or gate in the back; they’d be climbing up and over.
    Shad’ra turned and followed along the edge of the smooth-panelled wall, eyeing the ground for mines or perimeter sensors as they moved towards the rear.
    His caution turned out to be well-warranted. “Mines. Anti-Personnel.” Shad’ra murmured towards the rear, before beckoning up their explosives expert; a squat blue-skinned Twi’lek wearing a modified scout helmet, though you could hardly tell his skin was blue from all the camouflage paint he’d used to obscure it.
    He scuttled up to about a meter away from one, before getting down on his stomach and scanning it with a datapad.
    “Some sort of Zakuul model. I’ve never seen them before; but they’re connected to a grid. Defusing one could set off an alarm.” The ordnance expert stated, checking his readings as he eyed the mine.
    “We go around. Far around.” Shad’ra ordered, hauling the Twi’lek back by his ankles and helping him to his feet before leading the way in a rough arc around the general area of the explosives.
    Keeping a constant lookout for more mines, he came back around to the rear of the base, and looked up at the high climb that awaited them.
    “Alright; first and second squads; up and over. Third squad and fourth squad; keep low and keep this area clear with Captain Ryyk. This is our exfil location.” Shad’ra explained in a low voice, before turning back towards the wall and aimed the ascension cable launcher on his rifle with the tiered sights mounted on the side.
    He fired it with a hiss, sending the titanium-tipped dart shooting into the perimeter wall; before burying itself right below the edge of the top.
    A quick tug to make sure it wasn’t going to come out easily, before he slung his rifle over his back and started climbing up.
    Another hiss of air sounded below as Sergeant Limmer shot his up and started to climb; whilst the squads lined up to start scaling up once they were clear.
    A few moments later, and Shad’ra was at the top of the wall. Thanks to a two-storied depot building practically right up against the edge of the wall, he had some breathing room to survey the area a bit.
    The first noticeable thing was the noise. The grinding of metal on metal, the whir of servos, and the clanking of something very heavy announced the presence of walkers somewhere nearby.
    Thanks to that building, he couldn’t see much, but he did take the time to look down at the narrow alley between the wall and the structure below. No mines, cameras, or sensors so far as he could see; but there was a skytrooper that went back and forth like clockwork in the small space.
    Limmer clambered up beside him atop the wall and almost immediately spotted the droid.
    “Your call, boss.” He whispered, bringing his rifle around.
    “I’ll handle it. Give them the go-ahead to start climbing.” He returned as he watched the droid spin on it’s heel and start marching back.
    He eyed the distance and got ready, bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet.
    When the moment was just right, he leaped down head-first with his arms out-stretched; the ground hurtling into view right before the skytrooper came into his field of vision and he collided with a solid thump, smashing the droid’s head into the ground.
    As quick as possible, he got onto his feet and shattered the crown of it further with a few good solid kicks just to be sure.
    Then he stopped and listened; waiting to see if anyone, robotic or organic, had heard the commotion.
    After a few moments, he concluded that they were secure and gave a thumbs-up back towards Limmer.
    A handful of cords were clamped onto the metallic surface before being unrolled down the side of the wall before the two squads came sliding down.
    “Fall in, keep low, and keep quiet. EEPs; you see something that looks explosive; put a charge on it. The coalition’s fitting the ordnance bill; so don’t be sparse but remember that our primary objective for now is to neutralize the walkers. We blow this ammunition dump, and they won’t have any ordnance to throw at us, understood?” Shad’ra whispered through the comms to the nodding of helmets.
    “Alright. If a skytrooper starts looking our way, see about taking it out quietly. If that won’t be possible, give a heads-up and go hot.” He added, before sidling quietly along the narrow passageway.
    Once he came to the corner, he peeked out to get an idea of the layout.
    There were skytroopers everywhere, but he didn’t focus on that, instead he looked for primary munition storage areas.
    As far as he could tell from here, there were three large collections of weapon crates, neat stacks of power cells, and rows of walker shells; all covered by squat bunker-like structures with wide open bay doors.
    “Squad one, your taking that bunker. Squad two; you take that one. Limmer, you’re with me. We’ll take that last one.” He ordered quietly, before drawing his dual pearl-handled blasters and scuttling across an open space towards a collection of crates stacked haphazardly next to a Zakuul walker cracked wide open for maintenance.
    “These guys are sloppy. Loose parts and tools everywhere.” Limmer remarked through the helmet comms as he followed up behind him. Beyond the sergeant, the two squads moved quickly towards their separate objectives.
    “To be expected when they use some shoddy droids with cheap logic algorithms.” Shad’ra agreed, before peering out from cover to see if there was anyone that would see their next move.
    It was clear, so he scampered across a speeder deck to duck down behind an office building, probably for the organic overseers of the base. Handily enough, someone had decided to store fuel canisters behind it.
    “Get a charge on these. They’ll make a nice explosion; and hopefully kill all the local hierarchy in one go.” Shad’ra ordered through the comms, as they creeped along it.
    Limmer complied, sticking charges every few meters they passed.
    “Whoa whoa, hold it.” He breathed, stopping by the corner and looking around it.
    A lone skytrooper stood guard; facing away from them, but it was too risky to pass behind it so closely without any cover.
    “Get your blade ready. I’m going to grab it; you sever it’s processor and power core. Do it fast; or it’ll get a transmission out.” Shad’ra whispered whilst the sergeant drew his long dirk from it’s sheath.
    “Ready.” Limmer replied, before Shad’ra stole out of hiding; moving on light feet behind the droid.
    In a quick motion, he grabbed it by the head and pulled down while the sergeant sliced multiple times along the back of the droid’s ‘spine’ sending a few sparks flying as the wires were cut multiple times.
    Once the droid fell limp in his arms, the two of them grabbed it by a shoulder and dragged it back around the corner and out of sight.
    They kept moving immediately after that, making their way along the perimeter wall before coming up on the side of one of the primary depots.
    “Entryways?” Shad’ra asked, eyeing the vents and coolant pipes crisscrossing the exterior of the structure.
    “None on ground level. We could try the roof.” The other soldier soldier suggested, gesturing towards a service ladder.
    “Aye. Watch for tripwires. I could see them alarming that.” He replied, warily watching their surroundings as they backed up towards the ladder.
    “Rank first?” Limmer proposed with a chuckle.
    “Pass. Rank last.” Shad’ra returned, sending the sergeant up with a sigh. About halfway up, the trooper paused.
    “Tripwire. Standard motion sensor in a tight beam.” Limmer stated through the comms. That would be tricky to deal with. Best they could do with that was perhaps cut the power to it, but that could set off an alarm too.
    “Can you deactivate it?” Shad’ra inquired through the helmets.
    “Ehh… You want to find out?” The sergeant replied hesitantly.
    Shad’ra sighed, before speaking through the entire platoon’s comm systems:
    “Going to try and deactivate a sensor; brace for possible heat.”
    Limmer pulled out his dirk again along with a pair of wire cutters and pulled off an access panel before prodding at a collection of wires.
    After a tense minute where it was clear the sergeant was debating which wire to cut, he picked one and clipped it.
    No alarm started sounding, nor was there any hordes of skytroopers.
    “Alright, we’re clear.” Limmer declared over the comms, before continuing his climb up whilst Shad’ra followed behind him.
    They emerged onto a service platform which ran around the edge of the roof and beside several skylights.
    “There’s our opening.” Shad’ra muttered, moving at a quick crouch along the roof to one. To his immense pleasure, there were no alarms attached to it, nor even locks. A slight push opened it inwards.
    They tied a cord to the service platform railing and let it unfurl down to the ground below before clambering on and sliding down.
    The depot itself was empty, but there was plenty of security out by the open bay doors. Shad’ra counted at least fourteen skytroopers; about a full squad.
    Made sense. Ordnance dumps were primary targets for insurgencies but even so, he couldn’t help but marvel at how careless Zakuul was. They relied far too much on automated systems.
    Shaking his head to himself, Shad’ra and Limmer fanned out and placed charges on every crate, exposed cell, and un-secured ordnance they could find.
    Once they were done, they scarpered back to the cord and began the slow and arduous climb back up without incident and from there, made their way back off the roof.
    “First and second squads, report in. How’re we doing?” Shad’ra asked through the comms.
    “Charges set and moving to exfil.” Came the response.
    Shad’ra gave a nod at Limmer before moving quickly along the perimeter wall back towards where they came in. They passed the destroyed skytrooper, which was now oozing some sort of fluid, before coming back to where they’d come in over the wall and out of sight. Not a moment too soon.
    An alarm started to wail and skytroopers rushed to stations on the primary gate.
    “That’d be them noticing our friends on the frontline.” Ryyk called in over the comms.
    “Then let’s give them something else to think about. High-time we put some distance between us and this depot, quick as possible. Then blow the charges before they deploy the armour. Also; get on the link with our supporting lance walkers. We’re going to need to coordinate with them well in this dense forestry.” Shad’ra ordered as he clambered up and over the wall, then back down again on the other side.
    “Double-time it. Don’t want to be within a kilometer of this thing when it goes off.” Limmer directed as the platoon made quick progress away from the facility; disregarding moving quietly and unobtrusively.
    Just as the faint sounds of blaster fire far off started up, Shad’ra called a stop and turned back towards the ammunition dump.
    “Blow ‘em to hell, Ryyk.” He instructed, to which the captain unceremoniously depressed the firing trigger.
    The low crack of small explosives rang in the distance and for just a moment, it seemed everything paused as though holding it’s breath in anticipation.
    Then the whole skyline lifted in a massive pillar of smoke and fire as the whole ammo depot went up in flames.
    The resounding boom reached them with the shockwave; a huge rippling roar that shook loose leaves off trees and sent dirt billowing into dust-clouds.
    “Alright! That ought to have gotten their attention! Onwards to the next facility; let’s see if we can’t turn their entire garrison into spare parts!” Shad’ra called out, leading the way into the dense foliage once more as the battle for Abregado-Rae began in earnest.
Turari (29, Major, jr. grade CEDF)     Silivia Fenir (21, Freighter Captain)
Lashila Sellara (25, Grey Sith)         Harkasone Milan (29, Philanthropist)
Reill Farr(31, Silent Mandalorian)     Mystenin Felsa (26, 'Green' Jedi)
Touko Saizar(19, Turari's underling) Temple Guard #124(35, Pro Spook)
                                                    Philla Kasan (29, Captain, 51st Recon)

Offline LVT

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Re: The Battle for Abregado-Rae
« Reply #2 on: 01/09/17, 04:43:13 PM »
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    Iirim was not looking forward to a battlefield of enemies he couldn't 'see'. Shapes were easier when they were closer. Skytroopers weren't exactly brimming with the Living Force. Still, he promised Urziya he would be here, and the Force would take care of the rest. He hoped.
    The Miraluka had found some armor, at least. It was lightweight, but it would protect him from glancing blows, and best of all, let him keep his mobility. He'd be relying on his saber for most of the harder things. He'd spent the past few weeks sparring with Urziya, although to be honest, it wasn't because of the battle... more because the Viper made him want to fight things. In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise. He had caught a brief, familiar aspect in the Force before the robed vigante moved away to his part of the battle, and just knowing the Viper was going to be fighting at his ‘side’ was already fueling him.
    He recognized the unsettling aura of the masked Sith near him, and drifted over, giving her a nod. "Morning, Karmic. Looking forward to the carnage? Don't worry, I couldn't look for you if I tried." He grinned, shifting his intricately engraved saber into his hand and turning it over. Not ignited yet, just remembering how it felt in his hands.
    She smiled over at Iirim, he may could feel it even if he couldn’t see it, “Always.  Been awhile since I’ve been able to have this much fun.” Karmic chuckled softly, “Actually, your natural inclinations may mean you’re one of the few who can see me.  Let me know, will ya?  I try hard to mask the use of the Force when I’m using it to stealth, to try and erase all traces - so to speak.  If you can see me before I mean to be seen, let me know so I can tighten it back up.”  She watched him handle his saber.  “Hey, I’ll be watching your back too…  so if you get in a tight spot, think about me real hard.  I’ll hear ya’ and come find ya’.”  She nodded.
    He tossed her another grin, and a shrug, as if he wasn’t concerned. “I’ll be fine. You just be careful. I’ll let you know. And don’t get spotted.”
    When Urziya's speech was done, he was gone, slipping past armored warriors to the Togruta and her cousin. He gave the strange man a small bow, then reached out to squeeze Urziya's shoulder. "I told you I'd come, didn't I--"
    Instead of his friend, he found a roundish metal object shoved into his hands. He turned it over in his hands. "What's this?"
    "A helmet," Urziya said. "I don't want you losing your head."
    He traced the contours with his hands, fingers running over a heads-up display’s antenna and visor. "You know this won't do me any good, right?"
    "Like kriff it won't. You'll be patched into all our comms, and it's programmed to give auditory responses to visuals it picks up."
    He paused, quiet a moment. "You know I've been on a battlefield before."
    "With a bunch of droids? You told me you can't 'see' things that don't have life-signs that well."
   
    "Heh. Point." He slipped the helmet on, booting up the electronics. He did an experimental sweep of the gathered forces. A soft 'Walkers, 90 degrees' chimed in his ear. "... This is disorienting. But thank you. You're really worried about me, aren't you? You don't have to be."
    Her voice crackled in his ear: "You're welcome."
    "Just watch. I'll have your back this time."
    He stepped into the line with the others, igniting his saber, bright blue. Some of the warriors around him laughed, or shuffled uncomfortably. He didn't care. Some of them might have been Jedi-killers or Sith-killers in the war, but this was a group of Mandalorians who'd either never fought the Eternal Empire, or fought and lost. Warriors with honor debts to pay, and not enough experience. They were going to need someone who knew how to fight saber-to-saber watching their backs. He checked that Urziya was at his side, and began to follow.
   
    "Alright, this one's for real, lads! Grab 'yer blasters and seal 'yer helmets!" Imler shouted as he clattered down the troop compartment of the Manka-class walker.
    "Aye-aye, sir!" They chorused, standing and grabbing weapons.
    "Get ready!" The sergeant called out, one hand holding his blaster rifle up against his shoulder while the other rested on the door release panel.
    "All units. All units. Attack code Besk. I say again; attack code Besk. Skirmish team signals the clear." The order came over the commlink.
    He slammed his palm against the lever that opened the massive door, sending it ratcheting down.
    "Move! Move!" Imler yelled, dashing down the ramp then turning and charging up towards the front of the Manka walker, blaster already raised and scanning for threats. His full squad thundered behind him, watching all angles for attack.
    "There they are!" Someone from another squad over to Imler's right called out, pointing in the direction of the shield generator.
    He looked towards it and magnified his HUD. They were there all right. Skytroopers.
    "Give 'em hell!" He shouted, raising his chunky rifle and blasting away; the large weapon bucking as he sent the green blaster bolts winging towards the masses of skytroopers, striding forwards as he did so.
   
    It had been a few hours since the first wave had hit the ground on Abregado-Rae, and for the now uncountable time since the battle had started, Harkasone Milan tried not to throw up in his mask. He could feel his grip on the tree he was using to prop himself tighten as he bit back his reflexes, and cleared his throat with a wheezing cough. Nothing had prepared him for the intensity of emotions that washed over him when contact was made, and it had only gotten more intense as time progressed. Nearly everyone was holding back their fear, and the pain of the wounded agonizingly littered the field. Most of the soldiers seemed to be operating on reflex, and honestly, he wasn’t sure that the officers weren’t either. He heaved one final time, as a voice chittered in his ear piece softly, with questioning concern. This was not the time or the place, not when everyone else was dying. Not on his home planet.
    The Viper quietly stepped behind the tree, and made sure to drape the scrambler net over himself, shielding him from sensors, as the repulsorlift engines slowly became audible in the distance. His earpiece once again came to life, a soft burst of static that preceded the eerily calm and quiet voice considering his mixed feelings.
    “The shuttle is 20 minutes out. You sure about this?”
    “I’ll be fine, Robin. Keep coordinating the attacks. You’re “Harkasone Milan”, starting now. We talked about this. He’s supposed to coordinating the strikes, and the ground to space liaison. I gave you voice samples to imitate me.” He glanced out at the clearing, where a small beacon lay. He had nicked it from an armory in the initial fighting, and with the exarch up above steaming at the situation by now, he should be down as soon as Zakuulian forces cleared a landing area. The Viper had just given them a clearing in the forest near the generator, first.
    Robin gave him a chiding sigh, as the ship landed. “That’s not what I mean, and you know it. By all reports, they’re far stronger than any single Sith or Jedi. This is a suicide mission.”
    The Viper peered around the corner, stealthily, to visually confirm the number of hostiles. A Squad of Praetorian skytroopers, and the Exarch. He sighed, as he made the final checks on the traps he had lain to the generator. The Exarch must have assumed the real assault would come into the star fort, and left his retinue of knights there. He shuffled out quietly, as his quarry started down the trail to the generator, muttering softly to his companion in the process,
    “This entire thing is my suicide mission. I’m the one that has a connection to this planet. I’m not going to let Quarasha, Exephos, or the others suffer for it.”
   
    Karmic had chuckled as she had listened to Exephos give his marching orders, checking her gear one more time  She was in full battle armor, which for her was still light as battle armor goes.  Cortosis enforced weaves and durasteel plating on the parts most likely to take a hit, wrapped her upper half tight and the enforced weaves of the full bottom robe allowed her legs full range of movement while keeping her movements more hidden from her enemy.  Instead of taking hits, she relied on avoiding them.  She was a stealth assassin who enjoyed fighting in the thick of it - and her battle gear reflected that.   
    Her thoughts turning to a similar speech (if shorter) she gave before the first Shaddaa Fortress fight, where she was in charge.  And having to pull that rank on Exephos to get him to take his men out, when their mission was done, instead of pushing ahead on what she was sure was a suicide run to the Fortress core.
    She hoped he didn’t try that today.  She wasn’t the one in charge for this mission; he wouldn’t listen to her this time.  Right now, she was wishing she had thought to insist on that again as she did back on Shaddaa.  She admired the man’s force of will, his battle knowledge, and his loyalty and passion for the men in his charge.  But she hated dealing with Exephos’ bloodlust.  He could give any Darth on Kaas a run for their money when it came to blinded emotional pride.  As much as he was once the Republic’s finest, fighting for supposed “good” against the Empire - their hypocrisy had turned him into what he was now.  “Thank the Darkness he’s never had Force powers,” she thought a moment, even as she recognized the dark side working in him all the same. She wondered, not for the first time, if she’d ever get a chance to talk to him about it.
    She checked the seals on her Death’s Head masque helmet and then went through checking her HUD systems one by one as he continued to give instructions.  Her hands checking her utility belt and the ties on her two double-bladed saber hilts there.  She was listening, but most of it she had heard before.  This wasn’t the first time she was deployed with a military unit.  In her younger days she spent a lot of time with them.  Even though it was years ago, like riding a speeder-bike, her memories came flooding back as she looked around at the familiar men and machinery - even if they weren’t in Imperial armor.
    Her coms were heard by all the main lines of communication, along with the troops she would be pushing forward among.  As they started to move out, she reminded them, “Don’t look for me.  You won’t see me unless I’m engaged with an enemy.  Otherwise just trust I’m around you stealthed, watchin’ your sixes.  That’s my job, until we’re to the bunker.”
    Helmets around her nodded and before the first shots were fired, she disappeared from their sight.  One minute the skull helmeted Sith in red armor was among them and the next she was gone.
    That was how they all saw Karmic for the next few hours of battle.  Here and there and gone again between one fight and the next, like a signal one can’t quite tune in.  In the pockets of heaviest fighting, she’d come in on a surprise attack from behind and clear the choke point; where their fighters were pinned down the skull helmet would be seen, weaving among the enemy killing and distracting.  It didn’t take long before the Zakulian troops around where she was working were over-sensitive, over-fearful, getting sloppy - giving themselves away even before she had a chance to blow their hidey-holes.  Whether from the flashing buzz of her purple-black double-bladed saber, or a golden Zakulian Knight being crushed within a cocoon of dark side Force power, Karmic wove in and among hundreds of the 95th’s troopers and Zakulian fighting forces on the front lines - saving as many of her own as she could while creating as much gloriously bloody chaos as possible among the Zakuulian forces.  
    She didn’t prefer missions with a military unit.  She felt a greater charge to protect her comrades (seeing them as less capable) than to take out the enemy, and she’d prefer the latter.  She didn’t want their presence keeping her from doing what she must do - killing how she had to kill.  She preferred hunting alone, beholden and having to protect no one but herself on a mission.  But that didn’t mean she passed up the unique enjoyment that could be found fighting in a unit on the front lines of a battle.  Karmic was a creature of darkest chaos - she did not feel guilt at serving her purpose.  Quite the opposite.
   
    "Walker Bravo-Four! Readjust course by ten degrees left! Repeater nest to your front!" Lieutenant Horsav barked into his short-range comms as he watched the lance walker stomping in the direction of a friendly position.
    "Copy! Readjusting cours- Kriff!" The response came as a plasma-purple return shot from Zakuul deflected off Walker B-4's hull with a loud hum.
    "Alpha-Two! Track the source of that shot and engage!" Horsav shouted into the handset while his own Manka-class walker bucked from the concussion of the primary cannons unleashing a rapid burst of fire towards a particularly thick clump of enemy forces.
    "Understood!" Came the reply as the other heavy combat vehicle turned it's head before firing two blasts from it's chin cannons towards a crew-manned ordnance launcher.
    It exploded in a blast of fiery blue.
    "Sergeant Reisk; Walker Alpha-Actual!" The comms crackled as one of the infantry squads called in over the chaos of battle.
    "Alpha-Actual; Sergeant Reisk. Proceed!" Horsav stated into the comms, at the same time trying to pick out through the viewport where Reisk might be in the intense ground skirmish.
    "Some sort of siege dro- ... Tearing up forc-" Reisk yelled from the other end of the line.
    "Sergeant, say again! Transmission unreadable!" Horsav instructed, reaching up to grab a handlebar as the walker shifted position.
    "Siege droid! Position on yellow flare!" Reisk expressed. From inside, Horsav could make out a glowing yellow outline of the flare through the viewport.
    "Gunner; direct three HPHE rounds on bearing thirty by elevation negative fifteen!" The lieutenant ordered.
    "Aye-aye! Directing three HPHE rounds on bearing thirty by elevation negative fifteen!" Ferin repeated as he aimed the cannons. Meanwhile, the secondary gunner confirmed the ammunition and readied it for firing.
    He gave a thumbs up to Ferin who fired the heavy cannons three times, dropping the powerful payload on the position.
    An alarm suddenly wailed in the cab as an explosion resounded to their front.
    "Kriff! It was one of the lance walkers!" The driver exclaimed as the burning fuselage of the destroyed walker fell.
    Horsav raised macrobinoculars to his visor and peered out the viewport again. A glint of metallic gray sent a shiver running down his spine.
    He grabbed his handset and raised it.
    "Enemy armour! Enemy armour! Walker Bravo-Two and Bravo-Four; pull-back positions! Walker Alpha-Three and Alpha-Six, interchange with APHEAT rounds and await my command!" Horsav roared, raising the macrobinoculars once again to see if he could get a sightline.
    There. Three of them in a wedge formation.
    "Three Class-Nulls! I say again; three Class-Nulls! Bearing eight degrees from center! Alpha-Three and Alpha-Six, fire for effect!" He commanded before turning toward the driver and barking an order at him:
    "Driver! All ahead full!"
    "Aye-aye!" The driver shouted back before adjusting the throttle, sending a roar of power through the walker's frame as it started forwards.
    The three Zakuul walkers opened fire, one of them unleashing a barrage at his own walker. The purple rounds lanced forwards, one striking the left shoulder of his Manka. Another alarm, this one with a rapid bipping tone, sounded deafeningly loud throughout the cab.
    "Kriff! No damage! Armour absorbed it!" Horsav called out, checking his instruments and scanners.
    One of the Zakuul walkers exploded in a burst of light as a shot from walker A4 took it. A2's rounds flew too high, missing it entirely.
    As he watched though, a missile from a launcher lanced out from the ground infantry lines to strike the leftmost one right in the leg servo. It toppled with a crash to the ground.
    "Ferin! Waste that son of an akk hound!" Horsav yelled.
    In response, Ferin turned the cab, aiming it towards the walker.
    "Spin up two APHEAT rounds!" He shouted towards the other gunner who flicked three switches on his dash, making the change.
    He gave the same thumbs-up as before.
    Ferin tracked the target through his station's optics before ramming home the firing lever twice. Their rounds lanced out, leaving a blue trail in their wake before striking the enemy walker.
    One deflected off the side, the other struck right through the narrow viewport, exploding with a flash. The burning hull, flames licking along the fuselage, crumpled to the ground.
    "Enemy Armour down. Enemy Armour down... Walker Bravo-Five! Turret to your immediate front still operational! Fire YH-50s for effect! Walker Alpha-Six, get those Mandalorians some fire support, four HE rounds on bearing fifty by a hundred meters!" Horsav stated, before picking up into a shout again as the rigours of combat carried on.
   
    “Kriff. E-9, get a good zoom shot of the walkers over there.” The redheaded reporter adjusted the ill-fitting plastoid armor and shimmied back down the slope. “Alright now, bring it in on me. Standard 1-to-1.” She stood and cleared her throat, looking at the floating camdroid, “This is Aurena Durane, CFHN. Currently on Abegrado-Rae where local Zakuulian outposts are under attack by resistance forces.” In the background behind her, several Manka-class walkers fired at the perimeter defenses of an armory. “The attack began at dawn this morning, with armor units breaking the defenses of several facilities. The way cleared, infantry battalions then swarmed the complexes, swiftly capturing them. The response from the Eternal Empire has been slow and disjointed, allowing the rebels to continue taking ground all through the morning.”
   
    The Pureblood had checked out about two sentences into Exephos’ briefing. The very idea of following a chain of command was the biggest reason he had abandoned the Sith Empire and its ideals, and so obeying this madman with far too much ammunition did not entirely strike his fancy.
    If the goal was to divert attention from the incursion force, Taelios knew he could accomplish that better somewhere he would not also harm his allies. Somewhere about “Do NOT climb on the walkers”, Taelios excused himself from the rallying of forces and speeches about tactics, and made his way to the outskirts of the Coalition’s Staging Point.
    He nodded at one of the perimeter guards, and waved in a friendly manner before taking a look around. “It would be poignant for me to draw the heaviest opposition away from the party. I wasn’t listening to any of the information given about this party, and so you have to help me, helmeted friend.”
    The guard, clad in the standard attire of a Republic trooper, turned to Tae. The helmet, as usual, was expressionless, but the guard’s tone betrayed her confusion. “...What?”
    Tae snickered. “Where is Zakuul keeping their biggest toys?”
    Before the guard could offer so much as a sputtering reply, the air crackled with electricity. The Pureblood gave her a wink and a nod, and with a massive burst of force energy, took to the skies. An aerial view would afford him the best idea of where to go to blow things up and keep the pressure off of the distraction force.
    “Fitting, I think.” Remembering things such as The Force, Taelios extended his presence outwards to allow the cosmic energy field to work its ‘magic’. A sharp, sudden sense of ‘danger’ made itself known to him, to the west. With a burst of energy, the wayward Force user propelled himself through the air at the click of a modern military-grade speeder. Several minutes passed, giving him time to pause and reflect or cackle and applaud.
   
    The first traps had gone off successfully, but the fight had quickly turned into a game of vine cat and prey as it dragged on. Only one of the Praetorian remained, working in tandem with the Exarch, and The Viper had lost track of how long the battle had progressed. He looked down on the two as the sussed out his trail from his perch in trees above, considering his plan of attack. The Exarch and the skytrooper worked in a tight pair, since after they had scattered from the traps had allowed him to pick them off one by one. Robin had been feeding him information as the battle had progressed, and in the what little quiet moments they had to catch their breaths, they quickly discussed strategy. His ear piece woke to life as he prepared his next; hopefully final move.
    “Lance of walkers just destroyed a supply dump at the town to the south. They’re moving to cut off reinforcements at the generator. Seems they met half a light armor squadron.”
        The Viper glanced at the tree line listening as he picked up the distant rumbling. They were reaching the edge of the forest finally, and he could delay no longer. He couldn’t let the Exarch reach the main battle line and take control of the battle. The effects would be horrifying. He grunted quietly. “Move them per the plan. No changes.”
    He watched as the Exarch himself heard the walkers, and ordered his droid to move out. They were making a break for it. The Exarch’s pale silver armor shone in the filtered light of the Forest, marred only by the swirls of blue inlayed as a pattern across his armor, like an ocean. An idle thought crossed his mind, that individualism was the perk of rank, as they prepared to move. The Exarch broke out in a sprint towards the tree line, and as the droid got up to do the same he struck.
    On the other side of the base, Quarasha hooks in her comm equipment, giving it a quick test. "Colonel, if you can hear me, I'm on location with plenty of presents for our friends from Wild Space."
    She looks down into the satchel, filled with small explosives. "I'm going to start setting up over here. Call out if you see any targets of opportunity that you need dead, I'll do what I can to oblige. Just don't kill them all for me, hm?"
    She grabs the satchel, summoning the Force and pulling it around her, fading from sight from all but the most expert sensors.
   
    The Viper’s blade was a thin, nearly like a rapier, used by aristocracy on some worlds to duel; crafted as he had learned to favor an ancient variation of Makashi. A fair amount of trouble came from force users in the galaxy, after all; although he did use other styles when he dealt with blaster wielding opponents. In this case though he was thankful, his thin blade slid into the neck joint of the skytrooper through its critical systems; as he landed on its back and crushing it under his boots as he augmented the blow of his fall with the force. The exarch seemed to skid a few feet at the noise, tripping over a tree root while craning his neck to see what happened. By the time, the Exarch had fully recovered his wits, The Viper had already run through traditional form two salute.
    The Exarch’s voice was surprisingly chipper, to finally finish chasing at shadows. “You must be The Viper… Zakuul Intelligence has a lot on you, you know. I’ve certainly heard a lot. Both praises and detriments; if you can believe it, despite you being terrorist scum.” The Exarch reached for his pike as he spoke, slowly and carefully shortening the distance between the two; without breaking stance.
        Robin seemed to pause in his ear, when it had been muttering about Exephos’ insanity at the central battle. “First time against a pike with your new form, isn’t it?”
        The Viper saw no reason to answer the question, but a probing thrust from the Exarch elicited a flowing sidestep. Stepping forward, he provided one from his own blade. Their dance had begun.
   
    Exephos stalked forwards across the battlefield, heedless of the enemy fire that impacted all around. This was his domain. No politics. No niceties.
    Just he and his troopers with one objective: Crush the enemy.
    A lot of members in the coalition thought they just complained... That they were incapable. He'd show them. He'd show them all.
    He raised his rotary cannon and gunned down an entire line of charging skytroopers, the rotating twenty millimeter barrels firing out thirty high-power blaster bolts in just one second.
    An incoming shot deflected off his durasteel pauldron, causing him to turn the weapon towards the offender and let loose with a burst of green firepower, utterly disintegrating the droid.
    He turned back towards the center and swept his weapon's fire across the front, cutting down droid after droid. Explosions shook the ground almost constantly as the Manka walkers unloaded their powerful weapon systems into Zakuul's army.
    "Colonel, if you can hear me, I'm on location with plenty of presents for our friends from Wild Space." Quarasha’s voice stated through his helmet’s comm system.
    “Good!” Exephos growled back, not taking the time to develop a fitting response.
    Exephos paused to survey the battlefield with his SO-72 raised up against his chest.
    Green blaster fire arced towards the skytrooper's battle lines, with the occasional large blue round of the heavier weapons. Gray missiles trailing smoke whistled high over the battlefield in deceptively majestic arcs, before crashing down into enemy lines with the solid steady thump of bombardment.
    "I'm going to start setting up over here. Call out if you see any targets of opportunity that you need dead, I'll do what I can to oblige. Just don't kill them all for me, hm?"
    Quarasha’s voice again emanated from his comms.
    “No guarantees.” He replied, eyeing Zakuul’s battle line.
    Off in the distance, Exephos caught sight of Urziya’s band of Mandalorians sweeping through the battle putting pinpoint accurate fire on skytrooper positions.
    Just past them, that blind man he’d mistaken for a beggar was dodging attacks with the supernatural speed that only came from the Force while he wielded a classic bright blue lightsaber, visible even from a distance.
    At least some members of the Coalition were making themselves useful.
    The Eternal Empire's return fire was not to be outdone. The sheer volume of rifles pointed towards his troopers was immense, their small caliber blaster carbines throwing waves of blue shots back towards his soldiers. Their own remaining heavy weapons systems added to the fray with constant bolts winging their way towards the walkers, though those hundred ton beasts were so well armoured that most if not all rebounded off. The sky troopers died in droves, but still they kept coming.
    They would keep coming until they took out that Star Fortress, but first they had to eliminate the garrison at the shield generator bunker and that meant depleting the stockpile of sky troopers on hand.. Only then could they stand a chance of punching through.
    Of course, they wouldn't be so kind enough to simply die, they'd try to kill every last one of his soldiers.
    Not acceptable.
    Exephos lowered his rotary cannon back towards the Eternal Empire and unleashed the firepower of the old cyclic blaster. They wanted at his troopers, they'd have to go through him.
   
    Either way, Taelios’ efforts eventually brought him to a small village. At first glance, entirely mundane… though perhaps the convoy of Zakuulian walkers would cause him to reassess that claim. The Sith came to earth gracefully, though this grace was broken by a violent shiver. Still on their periphery, perhaps due to being a small and fast moving target, he had not yet been noticed by the armor. It was with the element of surprise in mind that he took the initiative.
    Lightning coalesced between the jacketed red man’s fingertips, sparking violently as it was forced to remain there. Eventually, the sparking energy manifested itself into a sphere of purest void. The orb pulsated with an unnatural energy, and when it was hurled into the armored convoy simply disintegrated much of the first walker’s lower half, rendering it an entirely useless husk.
    Drawing a line in the dirt road leading up to the village, the Sith spat once to either side before raising his hands before him. The air began to sizzle with energy, and a barrier of lightning came to being to protect the Pureblood just in time for the walkers to wheel around and open fire.
    Turbolaser fire collided with Taelios’ unnatural defenses, popping and dissipating ineffectually for several seconds. Under such sustained fire, however, he was certain to falter eventually. A cackle, as the Sith’s barrier shattered with a resounding crack. The volley began to collide with the tiny warlock, causing brilliant bursts of energy as if striking armor.
    The torrent of firepower eventually caused the Sith to give ground, though he showed no signs of wear otherwise. He snickered as the walkers paused to recharge, and with a forward sweep of his hands returned their onslaught in his own fashion, hurling a massive torrent of lightning into the convoy. The second mechanical invader went down in a spectacular show of exploding electronics.
    The sound of approaching reinforcements halted an all-too-brief celebration on Taelios’ behalf, as several dropships began to encircle the village.
   
    It seemed Zakuul was certainly going to give killing them their best shot. Seven heavy droids, of the siege type, stomped out onto the battlefield. They normally wouldn't be a problem, save for the ordnance mounted on their arms.
    Missile pods.
    They opened fire, the missiles shooting out with a flare of light as they howled towards his troops.
    "Kriff!" Exephos swore as one skirted straight past him.
    The sound was immense; a constant whining howl as the projectiles screamed past, then hit with ear-splitting explosions in a ragged spread across their battle lines.
    He paused to look back at the damage, just in time to see a final missile streak through a Manka's cab before exploding inside.
    Flames burned within as the crippled walker fell still.
    "Lieutenant Horsav!" Exephos shouted over the busy comms as updates and fire orders were constantly passed through.
    "Walker Alpha-Actual is down! Repeat, Alpha-Actual has been disabled! Crew is suspected KIA!" A tanker yelled over the feedback.
    Horsav, veteran of twenty years, killed in an instant by one droid, so that a child could play a role on a throne.
    “Karmic! Take out those damned droids!” Exephos shouted over the comms.
   
    “On’em!” Karmic replied through the comms.  
    She turned, slicing the nearest skytrooper to engage her in half, and looked towards where she felt Exephos, in time enough to watch the walker crash over and spot the seven missile launching droids.  She stealthed, force enhanced muscles crossing the battleground between her and the droids quickly.  She was spotted only when she popped out in the exact middle of the line of droids, between two of them, spinning with her black-purple double-blade again and taking the two on either side of her out before they had a chance to turn, much less defend, against a Darth’s spinning lightsaber.
    The droids themselves were confused by the sudden loss of two of them in the middle of their line, the ones on the end turning towards the center as Karmic kept fighting - gathering the remaining droids in on her as she ducked, weaved, and slashed at the ones closest to her.  She crippled a couple more before she suddenly force-leapt up over their heads as one of the droids amazingly tried to fire at her with their mounted gun - succeeding only in blowing up his companions as Karmic (waiting for that exact mistake) leapt up and answered his attack with the slam of a downward force-wave.  She landed, crouching on her feet, in the small crater of droid parts left before she straightened and stealthed again; moving on.
    “Taken care of’ Colonel!”
   
    How many else had been killed? Slaughtered for an ego? Exephos looked further back and saw a sight reminiscent of his days on the front. The white armour of troopers lying on the ground, unmoving, dead; or crippled for life.
    The corpses of the Republic's finest lying forgotten on the fields of the past flashed through his mind for a split-second.
    Zakuul would pay in blood.
    Exephos turned back towards the Eternal Empire's defenses.
    "Alright, you bastards! You want to play rough? Come on!" He shouted, firing a long salvo at a heavy droid, blasting it's joints and weapons clean off.
    "Kriffing sons of kath hounds. I'll kill them. I'll kill them all!" He growled, unleashing another volley towards a Zakuul Knight who absorbed almost all the shots with his shield, only one getting through to ricochet off the golden armour.
    "Come on! You want to fight? Let's fight, you Hutt spawn!" He hollered, reaching down to open up his SO-72's firing chamber cover and stuff an HVE shell into it before slamming the cover closed. He raised it and fired the explosive shell towards the Knight. It left a viscous plasma trail in it's wake before striking the ground at the force-users feet.
    Shrapnel showered across him, leaving dents and scrapes in his golden armour but otherwise he seemed unharmed.
    That would soon change.
    Even as the Knight raced towards Exephos, spear and shield bared for combat, he reached down and cranked up his rotary cannon's power setting.
    "Bloody force-using bastard! Come and get me, you scumbag!" Exephos snarled as he slowly walked towards the Knight, firing all the while. The thousands of rounds snapped against his shield but he kept coming.
    "You kriffing dirtbags will regret coming to this side of the galaxy!" He yelled, shifting his aim for a second to wipe out a squad of skytroopers moving to back up the Knight before turning the weapon on the force-user once more.
    The Knight strained forwards, within ten meters.
    He braced the rotary cannon against his hip and fired it with the one hand whilst the other grabbed at a grenade strapped to his belt; an impact incendiary.
    "Come on, golden boy! Hit me! Give me your best kriffing shot!" He growled, tossing his rotary cannon off to the side.
    The Zakuulan Knight charged in, perhaps expecting an easy kill. When he was in five meters, Exephos snapped his arm around and threw the incendiary he had been holding behind himself right at the knight’s face.
    The grenade hit with a crack and a flash as the sticky plasma mixture coated the golden armour of the knight. It wouldn't be enough though. He knew that if his own armour was resistant to flames; Zakuul's would ultimately be too.
    Sure enough, the Knight put out the flames across him with a wave of the hand; slightly scorched and very angry.
    "That's right, kriffer... I know how to deal with your bloody kind."  He hissed between his teeth as he fell into a combat ready stance.
    The Knight charged forwards, hoping to lance him right through the middle.
    Sloppy stanging fool.
    He caught the blade of the pike on his phrik foreguards, sliding them down until he was in reach of the handle.
    Once there, he grappled onto the pole with both hands firmly in place.
    "Got you, bastard." He growled, before spinning the pike out of the Knight's one-handed grip and dancing away with the weapon. He wouldn't use it though. The horrid humming blade had killed too many of his troops for him to bear wielding it.
    Instead, he deactivated it and tossed the weapon to the side, before grasping his sidearm out of his holster and shooting the emitter twice causing sparks and shards of crystal to explode outwards.
    He just had time to holster it before the force-user charged with his shield; aiming to flatten him to the ground.
    Exephos waited for him to get close, before grabbing the edges of the shield and pushing back, forcing the two of them into a shoving, weight versus weight match.
    The Knight put his whole shoulder into it, but it wasn't enough to move his hefty armour system.
    He pressed back and with one solid effort, threw him to the ground alongside his shield.
    "I've killed Sith before, knight! What makes you think you'll be any different?" Exephos roared, marching towards him.
    An immense pressure suddenly threw him backwards off his feet as the Knight raised his hands.
    The Force. He hated the bloody Force.
    Exephos stood, only to be thrown to his side by another pressure.
    "I don't think so, kriffer!" Exephos swore, drawing his sidearm again as he stood.
    He fired three times, one shot missing with the other two striking the Knight in the chest. They didn't penetrate, but they certainly left bruises and gave him something to think about.
    Exephos wasn't going to waste the opportunity.
    He prowled forwards, shoving his sidearm into his belt while an explosion emanated off to his left with further blaster fire cutting across overhead.
    Exephos only had eyes for the Force-user.
    Coming to the Knight, he reached down and grabbed him under the shoulders with both hands, lifting him off the ground.
    "You've kriffed up big." He snarled under his breath before slamming the Knight down into the ground and placing a thick armoured boot on the space between the helmet and the chest-piece, right on the neck.
    "Lovely day for dying." Exephos spat out, before raising his boot and smashing it down with a solid crack.
    No time to exult in another death to a force-user. He rolled to the side and picked up his rotary cannon once more, and adjusted it's settings to a more reasonable power level before unleashing it on a clump of organic officers, chopping them into literal pieces.
    "Charge them down!" He roared, directing a platoon to move up with an outstretched arm before thundering forwards.
    “Watch for the pretty lights…” Quarasha called in over the comms, right before a string of explosions lit up the horizon as her ordnance shot debris and dust into the air.
    Even as he paused to survey the results, a group of skytroopers landed in his path, firing in his direction, their shots plinking against his armour, leaving dents and scuffs, but he kept going and bowled them over to the ground.
    "Press the attack! Leave none alive!" Exephos boomed, lowering his rotary cannon and slowing down to lay down a thick barrage on a thick cluster in his way.
    Once they were blown into spare parts, he continued on up a bank, emerging into the perimeter of the compound itself.
    He gunned down another group of organic officers who fumbled with blasters at their sides.
    "Come on!" He hollered back towards his troops and started to turn towards the bunker just as a sudden pain lanced him in the chest.
    "Agh!" He cried out, dropping his rotary cannon and dropping to one knee to clutch at his chest.
    He looked down, expecting there to be a gaping wound.
    There was no blaster marks. His chestplate, though dinged and worn, was still whole.
    "Colonel? Are you hit?" A trooper asked, coming to his side.
    "I'm not hit, charge on!" Exephos gasped out as the burning sensation receded.
    He was getting too damn old for this.
   
    Quarasha sighed as she planted the last of her charges. On one hand, her primary mission was almost done. Reach minimum safe distance and press the detonator, and any remaining point defenses would be blown into orbit. All without running into anything but a scattered few Skytroopers.
    It seems Exephos' frontal assault had gotten the local garrison's attention, making Quarasha's job even easier. And less fun.
    Last charge planted, and Quarasha was out, racing across the tall grass towards the main encampment. "Watch for the pretty lights..." she called out over the comm, pressing the trigger.
    The explosions ripped through the anti-air cannons and far bunkers, sending permacrete debris into the sky. The roar from the explosions would be only a faint backdrop to the chaotic battle going on, but with luck a little confusion and dissent would form in the ranks.
    But Quarasha raced towards the main bunker, the building that controlled the shield protecting the Star Fortress, where the battle's true objective was…
Turari (29, Major, jr. grade CEDF)     Silivia Fenir (21, Freighter Captain)
Lashila Sellara (25, Grey Sith)         Harkasone Milan (29, Philanthropist)
Reill Farr(31, Silent Mandalorian)     Mystenin Felsa (26, 'Green' Jedi)
Touko Saizar(19, Turari's underling) Temple Guard #124(35, Pro Spook)
                                                    Philla Kasan (29, Captain, 51st Recon)

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Re: The Battle for Abregado-Rae
« Reply #3 on: 01/10/17, 10:22:08 PM »
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    The battle to the front was chaotic for Iirim. He ditched the helmet halfway through. Not that the constant chime of 'Skytrooper, left. Skytrooper, ahead.' wasn't helpful, but at some point he stopped listening and started just using his instincts instead anyway. He'd salvaged the comm, though, and strapped that to one ear. He'd apologize to Urziya later.
    Force, but this was a rush. He forgot how much he missed this... fighting. And he was good at it. Master Keyva had seen to that, extensively. When they weren't in a battlefield, they were training, and when they weren't training, they were waiting for their next battle. It was her way. And now it was his, too. It flowed naturally from him, like his breath. Foes loomed out of blank whiteness, invisible to him until they were close enough to become silhouettes, and he had only instants to register they were there, strike, and reduce them to sliced-up piles of red-hot scrap. Sometimes he saw them, sensed them. Sometimes instinct just told him to block, or strike, and he was surprised to find that his blade connected. As tempting as it was to use the Force for anything but Sense abilities, that came less naturally to him now than just grabbing skytroopers and throwing them, or jabbing them with an armored elbow, or bladework. Every near-miss, every hiss of plasma against his hair or his clothing or his armor, just made it quicker, drove him deeper into familiar territory, a small storm of dark colors and cascading blue as he made his way to the bunker. It was a continuous pattern, miss-parry-hit-strike, that he fell further into the more they made their way across the battlefield.
    Hark’s voice sounded over the comm now and again, giving out warnings, directing the battle from afar. It let Iirim know where things were, even if the distant parts of the battle were outside his field of perception. He sensed something like horror, briefly, then it was gone. Another dead, maybe… Iirim didn't have the luxury of tuning out. He relied on his extra senses to stay alive, if his ears and the feeling of air near skin failed him. He felt everything. For the second time in the battle, he was grudgingly grateful to his master, for teaching him to move in meditation, put his mind outside himself, to find harmony with the battle. And he was grateful for his own rebellion and curiosity about things she wouldn't have approved of. There was a distinct darkness to what he felt from Exephos’s men, fighting, dying, and the fear surrounding most of the living things on the field. He could use that, instead of letting it overwhelm him.
    He sensed a stirring, the darkness gathering thickly around once person darting back and forth. “Karmic, I can see you,” he warned. “Enjoying the slaughter a little too much I think…”
    “No such thing!” Came the laughing response of the fighting Pureblood.  “But acknowledged!”  The Darth refocused herself, paying more attention to when and where she was allowing herself to be seen and allowing the Darkness its freedom.  The idea of being submerged in a Kolto tank more of a threat to her than the pain of an injury.
   
    Urziya was, on the very opposite end of the spectrum, not enjoying her sight. Skytroopers glinted in the sunlight--garishly, horribly--and there were enough of them that it looked like a bright sea. She actually shut off her visuals and started relying on the HUD, and things went smoother after that. See a skytrooper? Shoot a skytrooper. See some enemy getting too close to a clanmate? Shoot that too. Terrnock was at her back, doing the same thing, though he let things get close enough to stab now and again too. Urziya couldn't see Iirim--he was shorter than the skytroopers, as it turned out--but the hum of the saber was unmistakeable, especially with her montrals giving some extra feedback, so she always knew where he was.
    Hark’s warnings over the comms helped too. In the heat of battle, it didn’t seem to matter that the orders came from someone else. She was happy to serve as long as it meant this--the scent of blaster fire and renting metal, the heat of plasma, blood, fire, and motion warming the air, the sense of two dozen people she knew and trusted with her life beside her, everyone moving as if one mind. It felt like home. Here, there was no fear, not if she let fire fill her heart instead; no chaos, if she trusted her clan and her allies; no uncertainty if she could replace it with righteousness. War was righteous, following her leader's footsteps to war with Zakuul was righteous, and helping the people of this galaxy claw their way out from under Zakuul’s grip was certainly righteous in its own right. For the first time since she was a teenager, Urziya felt like she was where she was meant to be, beside kin, clan, and her friends.
    The Mandalorians got to the bunker with few losses, though a few were now sporting charred armor, missing weapons, and gaps where segmented plates had been. When they reached their destination, Urziya tapped the comms, and a "HOLD UP" crackled across everyone's link. "Droids first!" she reminded them, then turned around, guarding their backs. The first wave of droids triggered a very satisfying collection of explosions, bits of droid raining down on the group behind them. "Okay! Now we go!"
    Karmic rematerialized next to the Mandos, and Iirim, a few moments after they finished off the droids and began moving inside the bunker.  Her red armor was spattered with dirt, mud, blood, and gore, but if any of it was hers she gave no sign of it.
    “What? Were you guys gonna go in without me?” The modified voice through the helmet called out, followed by a brief snicker.
   
    “Maybe this is a bit excessive...?” The excess had hardly begun, as the gunships opened fire on Taelios during their approach. The seemingly unending hailstorm of blaster fire concentrated on the puny Juggernaut was met only with the equally unerring tune of the Patron Saint’s cheerful laughter. Now fully encircled, the Sith once again hurled himself skywards, if only for a bit of breathing room. He accelerated rapidly, breaking cloud cover in a matter of seconds. Pursued by the gunships, he decided he’d try something he’d always wanted to try.
    The telltale explosion of a broken sound-barrier was accompanied by a shockwave which knocked several pursuing gunships off-course. As the Sith careened at supersonic speeds towards the top of a Zakuulian walker, a Knight of Zakuul caught sense of him in the force. A well-timed force push knocked him off of his flight path.
    As he careened towards the ground, Taelios hurled a humming flask and bolt of lightning at the offending Knight.  It exploded with the force of a thermal detonator, incinerating the Knight who had leapt from the dropship. Taelios collided headfirst with the cold, hard ground. Leaving a sizeable crater, it took him a moment to regain his feet, and it took only that moment for the dropships to land and offload their reinforcements. Taelios was encircled by the might of Zakuul’s forces, and the anticipation was showing on his face.
    The frontline of the reinforcements was comprised of five Knights, including their captain. As the aurodium armored behemoths approached Taelios, the Sith took the initiative once again and ripped the lightsaber pike from the hands of an unsuspecting Knight. The man quickly replaced his weapon with a backup saber, though he uttered an audible grumble of annoyance.
    The pike itself was in Tae’s hand for naught but a brief second before it was loosed once more, whirling about as it was propelled by the force to cleave swaths through the approaching Skytrooper assault. Both offense and defense, the blade deflected the majority of incoming fire, leaving Taelios free to deal with the Knights as he saw fit.
    As he saw fit, it seems, was without any sense of caution or self-preservation. He hurled himself at the nearest shield, knocking the man behind it off balance. Before he could land a strike, however, he was knocked off balance himself by a thunderous shield bash which nearly sent him sprawling.
    Maintaining his balance, he thumbed his nose at the Knights, chuckling especially at the one he had disarmed. The whirling saberpike intercepted a volley of incoming fire from the Walkers, which were now being pelted by the shells of fallen skytroopers. With a vicious upwards swing, the blade cleaved vertically through the majority of one of the remaining walkers, disabling it  as it staggered sideways before collapsing. The weapon, now damaged beyond repair, remained lodged within the armored wreck.
    Orders barked by the Knight-Captain incensed the golden warriors to greater fervor, and they began to strike at Taelios more rapidly and viciously than before. Several strikes eluded parrying hands and struck true even past weaving dodges, though they sparked off of the diminutive Pureblood’s flesh as if undertuned.
    Taelios, in between waves of saber strikes and shield rushes, managed to thrust a palm into the ground. The resulting quake was enough to knock the surrounding Knights off their balance long enough for the Sith to hurl himself feet-first at the Knight-Captain. A hulk among behemoths, the Knight-Captain easily doubled Taelios in size and caught him by the feet with a single hand. The Zakuulian spun once, and hurled Taelios much like a shotput through a nearby stone hut.
   
    There's a few facts to all building designs, Quarasha knew. They have to support their own weight, they need to balance security with accessibility... and the inhabitants of the building generally need to breathe. It's a weakness in all buildings, and while you couldn't always climb through the vents, they tend to be easier to cut through than primary walls.
    The alarms were blaring inside the bunker by the time the Sith had carved through the intake system and reached an actual room. Air shouldn't get thin for a few hours, at least, so the only reason anyone would come to see what was the matter would be if there were some intelligent guards around.
    The pounding of boots against steel plates made Quarasha smile. "Smart guards..."
    A few moments later, the door to the small maintenance room was kicked open, the steel gleam of a Skytrooper behind it, quickly replaced as a Zakuul Knight pushed his way inside. "...damn it," he said, staring at the twisted metal and glowing edges that had marked Quarasha's progress. "Exarch, we have-"
    The Knight turned at the sound of a Lightsaber, and was met by a Skytrooper, impaled on a gleaming, purple blade. "An intruder?" Quarasha joked, stepping back as the Knight activated his Lightsaber Pike.
    There was no grand battle cry or exchange of threats. The Knight charged, using the length of his lance to drive Quarasha back into the hallway he had just come from. A low slash dodged, but the Sith's counter was met by the lance's shaft, the cortosis-weave holding the purple beam.
    Quarasha glared at the golden blade, stalking backwards. "...you're better than-" she began, before the Knight thrust again. "I was talk-" she said, before another strike interrupted her.
    This wide slash was blocked by Quarasha, locking the blades together. "Rude of you."
    "I duel in silence," he said, reversing the grip of his forehand and using the leverage to drive his foe into the wall, the smaller woman easier to push around. "You will die that way."
   
    The fight had lasted what seemed to have been an eternity, but it couldn’t have been that long. The Viper could hear the walkers quite well now, they seemed to be advancing closer. As if by thinking such thoughts, a shallow slash nearly seared him despite a miss, as he wove back and forth in the nick of time. His fight was not going well, despite his expertise in the subject. The force wasn’t providing him with a path, the warzone had so much death and danger, that it was practically going off all around him. And despite how young the Exarch seemed; he was powerful. Far more powerful than most he had seen. He readied himself. He was out of time. The Walkers would be in firing range any minute, and if the Exarch picked up on that; he’d probably give up on it being just the two of them. The Exarch threw out a lazily arcing blow, and The Viper found his opening to strike. With a bout of lightning swiftness provided by the force, he struck a blow to the Exarch’s pike shoulder, his riposte hitting precisely through the other’s armor. The only warning that he erred was the yellow flash of the Exarch’s shoto slicing through his mask.
   
    “To your stations!” Exephos shouted as their time of respite came to an end. The had encircled the bunker as they had taken it, the outlying skirmish units in the process of making their way ponderously back to the bunker. The dropships from the fortress above had simply made it first.
    The Eternal Empire was coming; and they wanted their bunker back.
    He reached around to where he’d slung his SO-72 on his back and grabbed it, hauling it into the at-ready position to fire before striding over to the perimeter of their defense.
    “Stars help us.” Exephos muttered, looking out at the hordes of skytroopers, both airborne and on the land, charging towards their position.
    Damn the coalition. Damn them all for dragging them back into this hell.
    “Light them up!” He ordered, opening fire with his rotary cannon.
    Along the line, his dear troops followed suit; putting their shoulders into their large rifles as they put blaster bolts down range.
    Zakuul followed suit, blankets of return plasma impacting all around. Several of his troopers went down in the initial volley whilst the nearby crews on the repeaters ratcheted back the operating mechanism and opened up with the large crew-served support weapons.
    “Hold the line!” Exephos roared, blasting into the approaching crowds of droids.
    The lance walkers opened fire around the bunker, sending out powerful bursts from their repeaters and clusters of missiles into the masses of the skytrooper divisions, but it still wasn’t enough.
    The familiar form of Captain Ringo moved into his view as the old veteran braced his HBR against a crate and shot bursts into the attacking mass.
    “Come on! Do as we traine-” The captain started to shout, before a blue blaster bolt hit him square in the chest.
    “Ringo!” Exephos shouted, before renewing his effort to lay down a blanket of fire on the skytroopers ahead of the beleaguered officer.
    But instead of staying down, the captain stood tall with his weapon; facing down the enforcers of the Eternal Empire.
    “Ringo, get down!” Exephos yelled, just as the captain hauled up his rifle and shot down an opposing squad from the hip.
    He started towards the aged soldier even as a second blaster bolt struck the trooper in the arm. Just as he was approaching him, a rocket struck the ground between them, throwing Exephos backwards to the ground.
    He was on his feet in what felt like milliseconds.
    “Ringo!” He hollered, looking towards where the captain had stood.
    His fallen form lay there, a charred and damaged helmet rocking on the ground beside him.
    Exephos ran to the soldier, but he already knew it was too late. The venerable old baron of the war had been the closest thing he had to a mentor through his years when he first took over command of the Ninety-Fifth. Now…
    He was gone.
   
    Those with heavy armor had rushed in first, led by Terrnock and anyone going with him, followed by a lighter-geared Urziya and the rest. Iirim had caught up to her there, armor scratched and dented, but otherwise alive and well. He flashed a grin and fell into step next to her.
    "You lost your helmet!" she complained.
    "Kept some of it."
    "But--"
    "There's living things in there. I can feel it through the walls. I'm going on ahead.” Iirim stated simply, cutting her off.
    Karmic too had joined them. She nodded at Iirim’s statement, feeling the same he felt through the Force.  “Aye, a number of lifeforms.” Karmic’s death’s head masque turned and nodded to Urziya as Iirim moved ahead, “Don’t worry… I’ll be out front with him as well.” She disappeared from sight again as she stealthed and shot ahead to join Iirim already yards ahead.
        Urziya let out a small groan. “Why does that not comfort me…” she muttered, but stuck by her clan instead. Iirim would be fine. He was used to dealing with Sith. She pressed forward, blasting anything that emerged behind Karmic or past the Sith in the shadows. She could at least give them some cover fire.
    Karmic’s disembodied voice was heard to Iirim’s left and then ahead of him as the stealthed Darth moved invisibly to ‘point’.  She released her Darkness to range out in all directions around them, much like the field the clone of her former master had used elsewhere in the battle - sensing out for lifesigns and hidden threats in the bunker.
    “Hey… don’t you know it's my job to take Point…” She joked with him as she passed him, and then suddenly pulled up short - popping out of stealth with her arm extended in front of Iririm, stopping him from moving forward ahead of her.
    Iirim didn’t reply to the comment, focused instead on the fight and the senses he was getting through the Force. He felt Karmic’s arm touch his armor, and paused, stepping back to keep his saber readied. “What do you see?” he asked lowly, so that hopefully the lifeforms ahead wouldn’t hear him.
    Her helmeted head was cocked sideways, “Two Knights…” she whispered through the Force to her companion.  “Around the next corner… a few dozen yards ahead and moving this way.”  She waited to see if Irim had a response before she disappeared again and moved forward. 
    Iirim nodded, darting out into the hallway as she vanished in the Force. "I'll give them something to focus their attention on, then..."
    A very lightly armed man with a very brightly colored lightsaber would do the trick. Iirim skidded to a stop in front of the two Knights, and before he could process how incredibly reckless and foolish this was, gave them a salute and sank into a very flashy guard stance. The two barely stopped in their tracks before one crossed the hallway with a Force-leap, aiming his lightsaber pike at Iirim's head. The Miraluka parried the blow, twirling out of the way, and kept watchful attention on the other one as he waited for another blow to come.
    'Anytime, Karmic,' he thought, as the other Knight charged towards him as well, saber in hand.
    If Iirim could have seen Karmic's eyes, he would have seen them get bigger as he darted out around the corner and "got their attention."
    He's got guts... gotta give him that. She thought as she continued moving forward quickly as the first knight force-jumped to the Miraluka and she felt his defense behind her.  She had to fight with herself to let the first Knight charge at an 'unprotected' Iirim, but she knew it would be better to stay hidden and engage the other one in surprise than to leap to Iirim's defense.
   
    Quarasha grimaced, the crackling blades only centimeters away from her face, slowly getting closer, the Force too difficult to summon without risking losing the lightsaber that was keeping her alive.
    She pushed against the wall with a roar of anger, before letting go of her own Lightsaber and ducking down. In theory, if you ducked low enough, spun quickly and took hold of the discarded lightsaber with the Force-
    ...you could watch the Knight slash the hilt in two as you reach a ready position.
    She felt the Dark Reaper's power call to her. The Knight was approaching, golden spear ready to pierce the Sith in her heart, Quarasha defenseless, she could charge the foolish Zakuulan, drain his essence and mend whatever injuries the charge inflicted...
    She shook it off. "...not last resort yet..." The Force wrapped around her instead, hiding her from sight just as the Knight's thrust began. He was fully extended by the time Quarasha's burst of speed brought her to his side, a small cut in her side from the too-near miss.
    Her first strike went for the windpipe. Armored, but the burst of lightning stunned him all the same. She slipped behind the Knight and her heel at the back of his knee buckled his legs, his head bowed, the Zakuulian swearing.
    Quarasha learned long, long ago that a Lightsaber was too obvious, too loud for the duties of a "Sith Diplomat". Better known as an Assassin that's good with words. A small, thin blade could not only get the quiet kill, but the kill that best fits the story.
    One more strike pushed the Knight's helmet up, just enough for the vibroblade to slip into the gap between plate and plate, between seams in the under-armor, between vertebra and vertebra.
    The Sith frowned as the Knight crumpled to the ground. "...a quick death. Well fought," she muttered, just in case the body could still hear her. "...and thank you for the loan of a weapon," she said, picking up the Lightsaber Pike, venturing towards the shield generator's control center.
   
    As blaster fire ripped through the already structurally compromised shack, Taelios groaned. He was unsteady, but on his feet. On his feet meant that he should keep going. Rubble and debris stirred about the bruised and battered Sith, and lightning fizzled and sparked in the air. Another tell-tale shockwave dissipated what remained of the hut, sending debris flying into the approaching skytroopers. Taelios himself had launched himself towards the offending Knight-Captain, and reduced him to a fine paste as he shoulder-checked him before pelting him with the remains of the hut.
    The remaining Knights, visibly shaken without the presence of their leader, nevertheless press their assault. They closed the distance with Taelios using force-empowered leaps of their own, attempting to batter the Pureblood into submission. In their efforts, however, they had managed very little but to pester the Sith into action. He hastily grabbed at the nearest shield, earning himself several direct strikes from lightsaber pikes and sabers. Freeing the shield from its owner with a surge of lightning, he whirled in a circle still gripping the massive blunt object. The sheer force sent the surrounding Knights flying, shattering the ribs of the one most unfortunate to be struck first.
    Clear of the Knights for now, the remaining Zakuulian armor had a clear shot on Taelios. The walkers let loose with a barrage of missiles and blaster fire, intent now on wiping the tiny red upstart from the face of the galaxy. The surrounding skytroopers opened fire in similar fashion, and the waves of firepower washed over Taelios and his barrier. For his part, Tae also loosed bolts of lightning at the incoming missiles as best he could, detonating them safely enough for his liking. Once again, his barrier began to falter, and the concentrated fire on his location kicked up a cloud of dust. As the blaster fire came to a halt, the dust cloud remained, obscuring vision of the battlefield. The skytroopers, however, did not cease their firing. As the dust settled, it was readily apparent why. Taelios stood, panting and bruised, designer synthleather trenchcoat now shredded beyond repair.
    He sighed. “This has been fun, but I’m getting a little tired. I figure I should finish this off now and then I can have a nap…” The Pureblood giggled even as one fortunate skytrooper landed a direct shot to his adorable face. He began to ascend from his line drawn in the sand, lightning beginning to spark outward towards the nearest targets. The Sith Lightning scorched waves of skytroopers and incinerated the Knights in their golden armor, and showed no signs of receding as Taelios ascended.
    The bolts did not discriminate, however, and as Tae gained in height, the dropships attempted to pursue and were reduced to flaming wreckage in short order. Tae’s lightning set trees ablaze and began to assail the structures of the village. The walkers went in short order as well, shielding overloaded and armored hulls melted to slag. Still, he ascended further.
    Careful to contain his destruction to the Zakuulian division nearby, and perhaps the local ecosystem, a pulse of raw force energy burst from the Sith, powerful enough to be sensed by others onworld to be certain. This pulse was followed by a massive surge of lightning, frying the circuitry of the majority of the skytroopers nearby. Taelios seemed to feel faint, and carefully came to land in the dirt of the now burning village. He fashioned himself a pillow out of the line drawn in the sand, and allowed himself to rest.
   
    It had taken the Sith some time to find a proper maintenance access, but now Quarasha was high above the battle for control of the bunker, between a pair of Zakuul Knights and the group of Karmic, Iirim, Urziya and a mess of Mandalorians. Count on Karmic to make an impression, and Mandalorians to be excellent at picking fights…
    She looked back to the main controls. On one hand, she could drop down, help with the Knights, and then they could take out the generator once the battle was won. On the other hand, the wound in her side distracted with nearly every breath, the generator was the only objective that actually mattered here, and it was being guarded by two people that looked more accustomed to holding wrenches than blasters.
    Quarasha bounded forward, from pipe to support, eyes focused on the increasingly nervous guards oblivious to her approach. With her foot on the last pipe, she lept, arcing down at the nearest guard, a flick of the wrist igniting the golden blade of the lightsaber pike and sending it flying.
    As Quarasha landed on the guard, slamming him to the ground under her weight with a blast of lightning to provide just the right amount of overkill, the pike hit the second guard square in the chest, a weak cry the only sign of her assault.
   
    She'd seen the plans and analyzed how the Alliance had taken down the generators. It wasn't as simple as just blowing the generator up, sadly. She needed to shut down the main power system, delay the auto-restart and physically damage the system via the explosives she had left, and the whole generator would collapse... but that would take time.
   
    Hot. Fire. Pain. Death. Both his hands went to his face as he staggered backwards; the relatively short life of Harkasone Milan flashing before his eyes; coming in through the fierce pain that would put him down for good. He hadn’t felt anything like it before; it was as if his face was melting off. In the distance, as if at the end of a tunnel, he could hear Robin shout something. Further off, he could hear the Exarch howl with his own pain from the critical blow. And during a final few moments where he had some semblance of clarity after, he could feel the Exarch channeling his rage to finish the job.
    He shortly decided that it was the oddest time to have an epiphany. He couldn’t sense the proper path through the danger through the force, because on the battlefield, there wasn’t any. Force users blocked out all external senses, since the pain would drive you crazy in a heartbeat. Well, the sane ones anyway. But if he couldn’t feel the danger, neither could the Exarch. Not that it would do him any good now… he could hear the thumps echoing through the forest as the Exarch wandered closer and closer; spinning his shoto.
    He could feel his face contort into a frown despite the immense pain. No, the thumping was something else. Walkers…? A thought occurred to him, dangerous and likely resulting in his death. Well, Robin was right in the end, it was a suicide mission after all. His hoarse voice came out a whisper only it could hear.
    “Repurpose those walkers. Tell them scouts have found an armored battalion deactivated and waiting in ambush in the tree line. Have them hit the walkers now before they activate. Light up the whole tree line. Give them my coordinates.”
    He could hear Robin gasp somewhere far away. “Are you insane?!”
                 “Shut it. Just fire for effect and hope Exephos trained his men to shoot straight.”
                 He never heard the energy artillery blast that landed behind the Exarch, merely the merciful darkness sheltering him from the agony of his wounds.
   
    “Ninety-Fifth, with me!” Exephos roared, opening fire just as his soldiers ducked out of the way.
    “Today, we fight not for the uncaring bureaucrats of the Republic! Nor do we fight for that puppetmaster of the coalition! We fight for our survival, and for the survival of our legacy!” He boomed into the comms of his troopers, not stopping his tirade of weapons fire against the enemy who had draw to within ten meters of their barricades.
    “Now stand fast! Defend yourselves, your brothers, and your sisters of war! For today… We fight to establish ourselves forever!” He thundered.
    The Ninety-Fifth drew close, shoulder to shoulder as their battle lines backed up against the bunker walls even as the Eternal Empire advanced even closer, close enough that he could read the model numbers on each droid’s chestplate.
    And yet, despite the overwhelming odds, the Ninety-Fifth was in their element.
    This was how they had fought for decades. Backed against the wall, facing impossible odds. No-one to rely on but each other.
    For every trooper that fell, he or she took fifty droids with him but yet, there was always another to take their place. Always another to gun down.
    Exephos sustained multiple injuries over the course of the continuous fight, bits of shrapnel that penetrated his armour and pierced his legs. Cauterized blaster wounds that struck through his arm and shoulder, and a long thin cut across his side from another close call with a missile.
    They killed droid after droid after droid for what felt like hours, though in reality, it was mere minutes.
    He fell into a repetitive, mindless killing mode; gunning down skytrooper and organics alike, uncaring of who or what it was; simply whoever came into his cone of fire.
    Until he looked around in confusion, with no skytroopers to shoot. Had they flown off to another front? What devilish trickery was Zakuul up to?
    “Report in! Where’s the action?” Exephos called in over the comms as the troopers around him looked up from braced and covered positions, peering about for a target.
    “No action, sir. Kriff me, but we killed them all…” Sergeant Imler replied through the comms from the opposite side of the bunker.
    “Killed them… All?” Exephos muttered, looking out across the landscape.
    A field of shattered casings, bits of debris, sparking wires, and disassembled helmets littered the ground, completely hiding the ground from sight.
    “That would mean an entire division… In addition to their reserves…” He added to himself.
    “Kriff… I can’t believe we did it.”
    “Walker Bravo-Seven; Anvil.” His comms chimed.
    “Anvil; Walker Bravo-Seven. Proceed.” Exephos returned with the standard exchange between vehicles and infantry.
    “We have a confirmed KIA on the Exarch. Took IDs, samples, and souvenirs; then torched the body. Seems he was taken out by some YH-50s we put on a phantom armoured group.”
    The tanker reported over the airwaves.
    “Affirmative. Excellent work, now get yourselves loaded aboard that ship.” He replied, before cutting the channel.
    “Tend to the wounded, and gather up the dead. Then head for that bulk freighter. I want our troops ready to go in under ten minutes.” He ordered towards the rest of the troops, before slinging his SO-72 over his back and activating the comms for the whole coalition.
    “Exephos to all forces; we’ve eliminated ALL hostile opposition on the surface and the Exarch is down. We’re pulling out.” He reported into it quietly, before turning his back on the bunker, and the coalition.
    The rest was up to them.
   
    Luckily for her, Terrnock’s group of Mandalorians had the same idea, and had battled their way straight to the generator room. The Togruta and a pair of heavily armored warriors ran inside, spreading out immediately to cover the entrance. The man gave her a nod.
    “Got your back, Sith,” he said. “Do your work, and leave the fun part for us.”
    Quarasha nods at the Mandalorians rushing up. "Explosives are nearly set. Finish them up and then don't touch anything."
    She moved to the console, jamming in the first of the half-dozen dataspikes specially made for the purpose. It was hardly the elegant example of slicing so many people had in their minds, but it did have one significant advantage: It worked, and didn't rely on the Sith Diplomat and Assassin to know anything about slicing beyond cutting things with a lightsaber.
    The skytroopers noticed, of course. They kept piling in. Every time they did, they met a barrage of blaster bolts, or an electric shock from a handheld weapon, or sometimes a well-placed vibroblade. Terrnock and his people were soon ankle-deep in skytrooper parts, as Quarasha continued to carefully work the console under their cover.
   
    Karmic had made her move as the other knight started charging, waiting until he had run several steps past her before she turned and brought the shorter-hilted of her two double-bladed sabers to bear and popped out of stealth with a force-leap towards the back of the golden Knight.  She did take him by surprise, but unfortunately not surprise enough - just as she came down with her saber towards his head and back he managed to spin to the left as he tried to come around fully, and guard.  She met his upturned pike with the full force of her saber and her descending weight, in a loud clash that drove the Knight to his knees as she was forced into a forward roll to his right to keep her balance.  In the back of her mind, she was aware of Quarasha moving above them - making her way to set the charges.
    He was back up and on her before she could restealth, and they traded several blocked blows before she swung her arm and flung the Knight several dozen feet away from her, slamming him into a wall.  It didn't knock him out, but it bought her a few moments.
    She looked back at Iirim and his fight, ready to come help if he should need it - before the 2nd Knight could reengage with her.
    Sensing where Karmic was in the battle was too chaotic, used up too much energy as Iirim dealt with the Knight doing his very best to kill him. So, he focused on that instead, on the sounds of the Knight's weapon and armor, the rush of air every time the man moved. At least the saber was loud. The Miraluka parried a series of blows, spinning out of the way quickly as he darted around the blows with replies of his own. He settled into an Ataru form, using the Force, agility, and speed in his favor by comparison with the bulky Zakuulan. The problem was finding an opening to strike at.
    The thud of the other Knight against the wall nearly brought him out of his meditative fighting state, and Iirim sidestepped a jab that came much too close for comfort. Karmic seemed to be having trouble with her Knight. He needed to speed this up. He dropped his guard, stepped into an aggressive stance, and struck hard and fast, repeatedly, at the Knight, aiming at the upper body. The man raised his arms to defend, and Iirim sensed his opening, jabbing his blade into the exposed gap between the arm and chestpiece of the plated armor.
    He wrenched the blade out, letting the man stagger and fall, and began to run towards Karmic's fight. "Having some trouble, are we?" he called out, as if of course she needed his help.
    As Karmic started to smile behind her helmet at his bantering words, the years of fighting and listening to the Force allowed her to make several realizations at once:
    His Knight is not dead! He's getting up! He's not going to be able… Iirim!
    Iirim sensed a stirring behind him, but too late, as Karmic's warning practically screamed through the Force at him. He whirled around, but caught the tip of the knight's pike through his upper shoulder before he could raise a parry. He cried out, his saber arm going numb as his own saber fell from his fingers, heard it clatter to the floor metallically.
    Karmic moved in a blur, Force-leapt from behind him to next to him, hand outstretched even as she moved towards Iirim. The Force from the Sith's hand had an almost physical presence to the Miraluka senses, like dark tendrils - shooting out of her in an instant and slamming into the Knight behind him. The lightsaber pike's blade sputtered and died, leaving Iirim to sink and hold the wounded arm, searching for his saber with the Force. It gave him plenty of time to be aware of Karmic, standing protectively over him, holding the Knight motionless with the pulsating tendrils of energy. The black aura that he continually sensed around her, now extended from her, sucking the life Force out of the Knight and into the Darth in the space of a few seconds, before the armored husk was left to clatter to the floor. As Iirim shuffled behind her, cursing his wounded shoulder, he caught a quick sense of the other Knight, finally catching up.
    "Karmic, behind," he called out.
    At his words, she spun around and slammed that same hand, pulsing now with Dark Side energy, against the ground beneath them. The energy burst into a thick shield, engulfing the two crouched Coalition fighters, just in time to catch the blade of their second Knight.
    The empty 'eye' sockets of the metallic skull glowed red as Karmic snarled back at the Knight trying to bear down on them. There was seemingly only half a foot of empty air between her metal face and the slicing downward stroke of his lightsaber pike, were it not for the buzzing purple sparks lighting up between the surface of her Force shield and the pike itself.  Within the shield, a deep coldness had enveloped Iirim and Karmic both - a coldness Iirim recognized as the Dark Side in action. Despite this, he felt almost... safe. She was determined to protect him, an emotion he felt powerfully. He trusted it, even if he wasn't sure why.
    Iirim felt Karmic bunch her muscles, clearly readying for another attack, when they heard the tinny clamor of armored boots bolting towards them. The presence to Iirim's wider senses was familiar, and welcome -- Urziya. The Togruta rounded the corner with a quick pattern of blaster bolts. The Knight was blown backwards with a sudden boom, flying through the air with few small holes and one large one in the front of his armored plating.  Karmic and Iirim could smell the almost acrid scent of metal that had been nearly disintegrated.
    Immediately the cold vanished, as the dark side force shield collapsed.  Traces of darkness trailing back into and around Karmic as she let go of him completely and rolled sideways off of him and up to her feet.  Her eyes still glowed through her helmet as she moved quickly to the Knight Urziya shot and made sure he was dead.
    Iirim stood, hand still holding his shoulder, and flashed her a smile. "About time?"
    "Told you I'd save your neck," the armored Togruta said. She bent down, retrieved his saber from the ground, and handed it back to him. As he took it back, he could feel the heat still emanating from her gauntlet where an explosive dart case now lay empty.
    Karmic was looking up at the ceiling - still pacing over by the second Knight.
    "Quar's set the charges," she said, abruptly, "We gotta get out of here..." Her voice was distracted, as if she was only half attentive to whatever it was she was doing. She started walking towards them, holstering her saber, eyes still shining.  "Let's move." A chill followed with her as she moved off with them.
    Iirim and Urziya both nodded, the Mandalorian turning on her jetpack with what Iirim was certain was glee. He smirked and ran after the two, speed enhanced by the Force. As they ran, Urziya called out to her clanmates, each falling in line behind as they finished off their last skytrooper.
   
    Quarasha stared at the progress bar of the final dataspike. "85%... 88%... 96%... 98%... 98.5%... Done! Issuing the console's final commands, she glanced over her shoulder at the battle in progress. "Stop playing with your food and finish it already! We need to go!"
    “Playing with your food,” one of the Mandos said, switching on jets and floating off the floor. “Says that like it’s a bad thing.”
   
    “Let’s go,” Terrnock drawled, firing a shot to cover the Sith as she left the room. Over the comms crackled his voice: “Charges are set. Everyone clear out!”
    Karmic hung back by the main entrance, pausing.  She looked at the building, taking advantage of the surge into her own power - releasing the Darkness yet again to sense through the building; making sure allies were clear.  She felt the first detonations go off seconds before sensing Quarasha finally exiting the building.  Only then did she allow herself to force-run to catchup to the retreat before the rest of the explosion could catch her out.
    She was already moving down the platform, past the others and towards the exit when she finally hit the button. The explosives detonated, turning the delicate electronics into a pile of shrapnel. The auto-restart process tried to reactivate primary power, but couldn't. The numerous safeties that would normally keep the secondary power system from overloading were disabled, thanks to the dataspikes. And without primary power, the system tried to make a weak and unstable power system shoulder the entire burden... with predictable results.
   
    One system failed after another, fuses blowing out, consoles overloading, panels fizzling and exploding all across the installation. The process was at least long enough for the living to escape before the entire system went up in a fireball and cloud of debris that could be seen for miles...
« Last Edit: 01/10/17, 10:24:57 PM by LVT »
Turari (29, Major, jr. grade CEDF)     Silivia Fenir (21, Freighter Captain)
Lashila Sellara (25, Grey Sith)         Harkasone Milan (29, Philanthropist)
Reill Farr(31, Silent Mandalorian)     Mystenin Felsa (26, 'Green' Jedi)
Touko Saizar(19, Turari's underling) Temple Guard #124(35, Pro Spook)
                                                    Philla Kasan (29, Captain, 51st Recon)

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Re: The Battle for Abregado-Rae
« Reply #4 on: 01/10/17, 10:28:07 PM »
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    Harkasone Milan awoke, surprisingly enough, not in pain, but on a skytrooper’s back. Before the thought entered his hazy mind to struggle, Robin spoke up in a what he assumed its version of a soothing voice was.
    “Oh good, I suppose I won’t have to write to your friends and loved ones explaining why you died in the garb of a wanted vigilante of Nar Shaddaa.”
    He could only seem to muster a weak groan in response. Everything hurt, but more so in a way after a good workout, rather than one critically wounded. His response was quiet. “What happened with the fortress?” Robin gave him a cheerful laugh. He decided to take it as a good sign as it responded.
    “The ship came out of hyperspace at the correct angle. I don’t know what they put in there, but it had to have bigger ordinance on it than I thought. The blast blew it into tiny pieces, and the pieces big enough to survive the atmosphere were guided safely into the ocean by the angular momentum. I wonder where they got something that big? It’d have to be at least an antimatter or nuclear bomb.  I suppose we had some Hutt backing, but isn’t it kind of scary that the coalition can get their hands on those?”
    Hark agreed, it was scary. Perhaps that funny Imperial Moff that had called the headquarters was right. It would be something to ponder after he stopped dying on the back of a skytrooper. Speaking of… “The skytrooper?”
    “He’s mine, I sliced its local network. I pulled you out before the mechanized infantry came to inspect what they were shooting at and found the “walkers”. I’d say finding the Exarch dead by their own guns was prize enough; they didn’t even complain. We’re heading back to the ship. Battle’s over, and we need to be at the rendezvous. They’ll be expecting us. You were kriffing lucky.”
    Hark couldn’t seem to gather the strength to stand on his own and shortly gave up trying. Instead, he found his hand idly tracing a seared groove from his right eyebrow to his left cheek. Without a mirror, he could only imagine how hideous it looked. “No such thing as luck. Only the force. Which dictated I live but filled a planet sized grave instead.”
    The concern in Robin’s voice was unmistakable this time. “I applied the kolto, but there was nothing I could do about the scar… are you okay?”
    “Just realized why scars are ugly. I should find some sunglasses before we get there.”
Turari (29, Major, jr. grade CEDF)     Silivia Fenir (21, Freighter Captain)
Lashila Sellara (25, Grey Sith)         Harkasone Milan (29, Philanthropist)
Reill Farr(31, Silent Mandalorian)     Mystenin Felsa (26, 'Green' Jedi)
Touko Saizar(19, Turari's underling) Temple Guard #124(35, Pro Spook)
                                                    Philla Kasan (29, Captain, 51st Recon)