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Delta73 last won the day on April 22

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About Delta73

  • Birthday 12/26/1991

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  1. Oh but now the demons were so close. He was on the precipice, and his vision swam with forms both light and dark. Ghosts now pressing close enough that he could feel their breath on the back of his neck and their smell intoxicating. How he longed to step across the threshold, past the body at his feet, past the staring bridge crew, past the viewports and into the fire of the planet below. To embrace the destiny the cloners had set him on so many decades ago. To be bathed in fire and glory. That was what he was designed for right? And who was he to spit in the eye of his creators? Somewhere in the back of his head he knew he still had the choice to step away. To order his ship to stand down, order an honourable surrender, and spend his life in peace. That would be the right decision, it could not make up for the trillions of lives he had helped snuff out in the Sith’s mad dash for power, but it would set him on the right path. He let the idea float in his head for a moment, letting the possibilities of redemption tempt him. But it was not too tempting. It was the hard choice, and he had already come so far to turn back now. What good was it to start a fire mission only to turn around when it came to the firefight? The decision would come knocking on his door and he would open the gates. Afterall, he would just slip back into this again if he made the hard choice. He was just delaying the inevitable, and he deserved this one choice. He would walk the easy road. The road to glory and damnation, and how his heart rejoiced in the choice of it. As officers screamed about some corvette crashing into a hanger, his bloodsoaked hand dropped to his belt and slid the DC-15 blaster pistol from its leather holster. How had it gotten bloodsoaked? He did not remember, but something about the warm stickiness of arterial blood on his hands brought a lifetime of memories streaming through his head. The familiar and well worn grip of the DC-15s pistol felt as much a part of him as his own arms. “It’s hard the first time lad. You pull and pull, your arm shaking as you look into their eyes, you almost pray that the blaster doesn’t actually fire. But it does. It does, and then you feel the rush of it. You feel the line between human and immortal god fall away. You get to do something only the gods can do.” Delta could feel those steadying hands holding his wrist, straightening them on the blaster pistol. The voice was that of his Cuy'val Dar instructor, one of the many ghosts that skittered in the back of his mind, but now clear and distinct. Back then he had been looking into the eyes of one of the imported manual laborers that had been recruited to Kamino. The fear in those eyes had delighted him. “You get to sever the soul from its body.” The blaster pistol went off in his hand, its pure blue energy bolt lancing into the back of the flight control officer’s head. Pitching the man headfirst off his pedestal and into the pit that surrounded the command deck. A slight shift of aim and another blast of energy snatched the life out of the captain in charge of the bridge, another slight shift of aim and the TAC officer screamed for the last time in his life. Three more shots, and three more promising lives were snuffed out. It was a delicious carnage, and the bridge crew were completely defenseless. It was like shooting nerfs in their cages. One of his officers managed to fire off a return shot that struck him in the side and did all kinds of damage to his internal organs. But he was still standing. And the officer died from a quick snapshot to the face. It was easy to herd the cadets and unarmed crew into their pits, and as he fired into their defenseless positions, he felt nothing at all except the dull ache of his side. It didn’t take a minute to finish the slaughter, and he did not hear their screaming or their begging, or the shouting and hammering on the other side of the secured bulkhead doors. Or the dull thumping of rebel turbolasers hammering against the shields. He walked the few steps to the captain’s seat and sat down, ignoring the trickle of brown burned blood that blotched his crimson uniform. Instead he pulled up the holographic console and typed a long series of commands. Highest level passwords, and administrative keys, and he secured the bridge and control of the ship completely. He pushed the engines to their maximum thrust and set the trim into place at a sharp downwards angle. Waiting until the globe of the burning planet was filling the forward viewscreen completely, then evened out the engine thrust to account for the damaged engine. It would not take long at all for the final part of the plan to come to its fruition. Down and down came the Black Scarab, accelerating with both the might of gravity and the full thrust of its remaining banks of engines. The last scrap of Empire, the last vestige of the Sith Armada that had terrorized the galaxy for the last half a decade now hurtled towards the burning Ecumenopolis. Eating up the kilometers of distance to the surface in seconds. And leaving the mostly destroyed rebel fleet behind. The vessel would serve as both grave and pyre to the old Vigo of the Black Sun. There was no retreat for the most faithful of the Sith’s servants. And when the Scarab struck Nar Shaddaa it entered into the cityscape like a knife, cutting downwards into the meat of the planet. The shields finally failing in a flash of energy as they leveled thousands of city blocks. Only then did the Super Star Destroyer detonate. Taking all hands, and all pursuing rebel vessels with it. Sealing the tomb of the last Sith Empire in senseless death and fire. But the clone commando had found his damnation at last.
  2. Despite whatever schizophrenic episode their captain may have been experiencing, the crew and officers of the Black Scarab kept in fighting shape. Not to mention the thousands of battle hardened fighter pilots who had finished off the remains of the Jedi fighter wings that had thrown away their lives in a useless attempt to protect the now thoroughly burning Ecumenopolis. The pilots of the starfighters and bombers dove into the undefended tugs, civilian vessels, and military transports which were heading towards the Scarab. Being virtually undefended, the vessel’s lifespans would be measured in seconds and would likely be cut out of high orbit as if with a scythe. It would be easy pickings, even if there was little honour in the act, and it would save the Super Star Destroyer from any additional threats that might venture forth from the Spaceworks. As for the Scarab itself, it had not been badly crippled by the Misericordia and Constantine, and though it was normally perfectly capable of withstanding the missile fire of the two venerable victory star destroyers. The majority of the point defense operators at the rear of the Super Star Destroyer split their time between picking off civilian vessels, escape pods, and the much more dangerous missiles. Much to the captain’s chagrin, three of the heavy torpedoes broke through the shield array and splashed into the convex starboard engine. Detonating in a rippling explosion that cut all lateral thrust from the starboard side as fire crews worked to douse the blaze. As the shields were restored surrounding the engines by the generator crews. The surrounding six Victory Star Destroyers of the Black Sun division, having expended their thermonuclear armament on the planet below, reversed their thrusters and began to add their turbolasers and Ion cannons to the fray. Targeting the smaller vessels of the haggard Alliance fleet, while the thousands of turbolasers of the Super Star Destroyers turned their fury on the Gerrera, L’ouverture, Breachmaker, and Vigilant. Intending to make quick work of the significantly smaller and less shielded vessels. They would be easy kills. Much like the old Galactic Alliance they had hailed from had been. Their crews reduced to flaming masses of burning debris. But this would be the last mission for the Scarab. And its captain had a plan for its demise.
  3. “Hyperdrive disabled by the ramming action of the Rebel fleet under us sir.” To say that the war effort was going well for the Sith Side would be to tell a lie, and to say it was going well for the Rebel Alliance would be a bigger lie. But then again, what were holofilms and holonews reporters to do if they could not spin a delicious lie into History? The history was already written. The Sith Lords would loose here, they would be destroyed in a stunning upset fleet victory, and the best of the Alliance would be swept off the board. Paving the way for the next war, a war that Delta himself knew he would never see. Even as every victory that had cost him his very soul was being thrown away, he could feel the close press of fate against his skin. Every ship, every soldier, everything he cared for. Reduced to ashes. Thrown away so that the galaxy could deal from a fresh pack of cards. Was it worth it to close so thoroughly the gates of history? To lock them fast against friends and lovers alike? For he could feel them. Those giants of the past. The vain heroes and devils who cried out against the wheels of time to preserve their legacy. But who would remember them after the last burning husk fell to ground? Who now remembered Ar-Pharazon the Golden or Lord Achzet? No one. For time had moved on. And it was time for the last relics of ages long gone to join the ranks of ghosts. A hundred judgemental eyes that stared at him unblinking from the corners of his vision. All he needed to do was look to the side and they would flicker away, only to return the moment his direct vision left them. So hge simply stared at the large holographic display that showed the battle churning between the Rebel Alliance and his own Sith Order. Perhaps many of those ghosts would have been proud to have seen how far he had come, but he would not look at them. He would not look to see potential disappointment. But he knew it was there. It pounded down on his skull like a proverbial hammer. He knew those ghostly eyes carried a judgment he could not bear. All around him they flickered, some in suits of old white plastoid armour, now eroded and charred with carbon scoring. Others in robes of gray and tan whose sightless eyes had long burned out. Some of the figures familiar from the early days of Exodus’s war, Xai-Lin Ardel, in her gunmetal grey tunic, Starlisk, bearing a look of scorn that had been etched onto his face like durasteel. The White Wolf himself, and beside him standing the diminutive form of Tirzah Jade-Colos. How many others were there? How many others stood in the shadows laughing that he had sacrificed every bit of himself, every relationship and love, for an empire that was choosing to fall on its own sword? The demons delight in destroying those that have sworn to their service The voice cut through both reverie and holographic display like a vibroknife through a duros’s torso. I used to know you so well Ca’Aran. How did you get here? His eyes looked up to where Sigrid Hensi, his bright eyed and blonde haired second lieutenant should have been. But no, it was not the young woman that had accompanied him since he had left the Black Sun. Instead it was another ghost. That self same ghost that had haunted him every step since the end of the clone wars. She looked up at him and spoke again, her voice trembling at the edge of tears. You used to be good What a damned nuisance. He stared back at the face that did not flit away like all the others. He did not answer, even as she spoke again. Did I make you like this? He stared at her incredulously. His first instinct was to deny her involvement, to preserve her love for him, but he forced that down. For what love could exist to one that was long dead and in the ground these hundred years? Only brutal honesty would answer. Even as the deck shifted under his feet from another impact. None of that mattered. Only this. “I was designed as a damned weapon. I was designed for this, for the slaughter, for the welter of gore at my feet. I used to be good? No. I used to serve good. That is it.” He pointed a gloved finger at her slight form. “You used me just the same as Ar-Pharazon did, as Faust did, as kriffing Exodus did. As Ailbasí does. You aren’t free from blame.” She was crying now, tears dripping down her dirty cheeks. Stained with the blue gray soil of Christophsis. Which was now turning more black with the added tears painting over freckled cheeks like makeup. The lines reflecting the glowing orange from the planet below them. I don’t want you to do this. Stop please! Her voice was trembling now, her own emotion stretching to meet his. “What you fucked me once and now you think you own me? That you can demand I cease the function I was designed for? You made your bed on Christophisis.” He was angry and his voice was hoarse with the emotion that was now boiling inside him. His voice rising to a scream of anger. “Your republic loaded a kriffing disruptor rifle and pointed it at the galaxy. Now you cry in remorse that it went off? You saw us suffer, you saw my friends and squadmates die by the truckload, and for what reason? Some systems didn’t want to pay their taxes? I lost my entire life, my childhood, my everything for that damned war.” His hand pointed to the now thoroughly burning planet, where billions of innocent lives were being erased from history. Many would not ever be remembered. Just like those he had loved a hundred years before. Just like those commandos and troopers who fell in the trenches by the thousand to just capture a kilometer of useless land. Goaded on by Jedi generals who wasted life with a wave of the hand. “You did this to me.” He bounded forward, his crimson cloak billowing behind him like a trail of blood. He snatched at the ghost and his strong hand squeezed around her neck. His fingers finding their purchase as his grip tightened. His large form towering over the woman he had gunned down all those years ago in a lonely command tent. He had loved her once. “Why didn’t you run away with me? Why did you choose duty?” He was screaming again, his eyes starting to water. She was struggling to speak, her perfect blue eyes widened in horrible fright as his powerful hands ground against her larynx. He would not let her speak. He would not let her say a word. For this had already been long decided and he knew the answer to the questions he was screaming into her dying face. He was damned and he always had been. The beating of her hands on his face slowed just like the pulse under his fingers. Petering off until she was empty weight in his hands. He let the lovely corpse fall away to the decking and looked back up to the holographic display. And instead of seeing ghosts, all he saw were the staring eyes of frightened deck crew.
  4. ((Co-mod Mavanger)) A good duel of two close range characters, one side utilizing the tried and true blade work of the Imperial Knights, and the other using the Sith Guide to its maximum. Both were well written, however: Aidan is the close winner The crux of this ruling comes from both character’s second posts. Aidan did very well in respectign the attacks of his opponent, playing them out viscerally and realistically. While Akheron took damage from the first force blast, and completely ignored the rest of the attacks, writing the whole saber kata and force tripping via barrier as ‘Jumped over.’ This is not respecting your opponents' attacks. Also, word for word copy pasting from a guide for the effects or expectations for a move or an attack pulls the reader out of a duel. Try your best to explain an attack or move without relying on its name to put across what it does. Explaining its effect in your own words. Again both writers did well, but Aidan’s tactics were more consistent with an overall plan.
  5. Ruling on Frond vs Solus (Co-mod Mavenger) A very unconventional duel, in which a Jedi(ish) character defends an orphanage against an attacker. The narrative of the duel was played well by both of you and gave me a good look into the hearts of the characters. Very exciting to see where both of these characters go from here. You both did very well. Frond has the Victory I will say that Frond kept his advantage here for the entire duel, not only in being a knight level character vs an apprentice, but overall tactical and narrative control as well. A guardian played entirely in his own strengths of defense and close range attacks while facing an entirely unknown opponent. Deciding to not pursue into an ambush and staying close to the objective and meditating was the correct choice in the first post. Solus, I can see a lot of good things in your duel style. I really enjoyed this character and his frustrated personality. I cannot wait to see what kind of Sith he grows up to be. However I could not find a coherent plan in your three posts, and choosing to engage a Guardian where he is strongest, loosing an entire arm, then staying in that range to use the force was a tactical error. Other than that you did very well.
  6. So the Rebel Alliance was now bringing their entirety to bear. As the holo display continued to grow with the inbound rebel ships Delta narrowed his eyes. If they had this many ships, and by the look of some of the derelicts, why had they not brought them earlier? Why had they not thrown this fleet at the Sith on Onderon, or Coruscant, or Kuat, or even bleeding Corellia? Why had they wasted so many damn lives on defeats when these fleets were just sitting around doing nothing? It was shocking that the Rebels thought so little of their men and women that they had kept these fleets in reserve for so long. It was like the end of a bad holofilm where the protagonists were saved by a thousand allied starships appearing out of nowhere and crescendoing in a cavalry charge on top of a star destroyer. But at least in this engagement the Sith fleet could actually fly up. So they would probably win. There was a victory of sorts to be found here. They still had the element of surprise and tactical superiority. Plus. The Sith did not intend to win here. They intended to exact from the Rebel Alliance the highest toll imaginable. They would bleed them of their best, cutting down every strong man and every moff, killing the best of the Alliance. To leave the rebuilding in the weakest hands. But it was time to act. And a single code word echoed through the comms of all channels. Gravemind The Force moved heavily through the battlefield as the crews of the Sith ships surrendered to the gravemind. Bowing their wills to the Mad Hutt’s. Voluntarily giving their autonomy to write an epitaph on the headstone of the Rebel Alliance. THE GRAVEMIND For dearest Draygo. Likely the best Jedi Grandmaster the Sith have faced. For her the Gravemind wrought a foul and bitter harvest. As the Sith and Black Sun missile ships continued their destructive bombardment of the surface. A swarm of autonomous drones were released from the docking bays of the Victory class star destroyers. Nothing more than a preprogrammed directional stabilizer and rocket engine strapped to a forty by three foot spike of solid tungsten. This was the second strike of the Delta Zero command. A kinetic bombardment of thousands of tonnes of tungsten, slamming into the densely packed city scape of the Smuggler's Moon. Not to mention the additional nuclear warheads streaming towards the planet’s surface. Because sometimes. No matter what the Jedi did. Innocents died for no reason. It was kinda like Coruscant 2.0. But without the celestials showing up for some weird reason. Or maybe it was like Kuat or Kamino, where the Jedi themselves killed trillions. But that narrative was played out. It was boring. It was over. It was time to move on. It was time to move past all the defeats and victories, the highs and lows, the little things, like the totally preventable death of a famous husband after a colossal defeat at Onderon. For Slaughter. That Great and Steadfast Admiral. For him the Sith had prepared a special surprise. This was not the first time the Rebel Alliance had reverted to fireships in their efforts to defeat the Scarab. This current battle reflected that old encounter almost ship for ship. And the surprise was the same as it had been at Onderon. Tucked behind the Super Star Destroyer a blinding white flash exploded forth towards the cluster of new Rebel arrivals on their inbound trajectory. The Sith had played their sabaac hand straight. Relying on doctrine and trusted tradition to deal with an enemy that had never really learned their lessons. For this was the same wave of white hot ion that had trapped the Galactic Alliance Cruisers Starlisk and Wrendui in the Battle of Onderon. That self same doom that had befallen the peaceful Jedi cruisers Sar's Silver and the Patogga and left their crews to be slaughtered. The Ilk of Ion, that great sith Destroyer, had made itself known once again. Perhaps one day the Sith would make a fateful error. But it was not this day. They had come here with only one objective. To destroy the Rebel alliance as a fighting entity for the next generation and beyond. And if Slaughter survived to see the next grand Sith crusade, perhaps he would see the cross the T. But for now there was much bitter fighting to be done. And it was up to the heavy turbolasers of the Sith to do their business. Picking off the junk and fireships with the ease of a casual day of target practice. While the rest of the thousands of gunners calmly and methodically engaged their targets. Slaughter and his little suicide mission would be dealt with in a similar fashion. Turbolaser batteries and ion cannons, laser cannons, and missile projectors raining hell onto the small and now virtually unescorted taskforce. Sith starfighters moved in great waves and screens between the lines of firing ships. Trading evenly with their rebel counterparts. Aces were made, defended, and died. While bombers dipped and made their runs on the Fidelity and its escorts. Smaller cruisers, frigates, and corvettes engaged each other in stark and bitter battles that by themselves could have filled the strategy books for a generation of cadets at the Imperial Academy at Carida. But were totally unnoticed and unseen except by their own crews and opponents as they ruthlessly fought and died. A web of gravemind spreading out, feasting on the death, the anger, and the despair of everyone it touched. For Kolchak. The Moff. Lord Mavenger, Lord Akheron, and the Mad Hutts forces themselves pushed deeper into the Rebel lines. Taking heavy losses, but being replenished by the sudden arrival of the last of Lord Mavenger’s forces. Two looming Lucrehulk-class battleships that emerged from hyperspace from their basing yard at Geonosis, their presence adding to the timeless feeling of the great battle. Only time would tell if the Moff could hold his command with confidence. The rebels, no matter how many new forces they pulled out of hyperspace, were going to take a decimation that would make Alderaan and Caamas look pathetic.
  7. If the Sith fleet had relied on tactics and precision before, the Sith High Command no longer desired to play by those rules. The glove had been dropped, the Alliance Fleet committed, and now it was the turn of the Sith Lords of Onderon. Like a bayonet thrusting into the heart of the Alliance, the Black Scarab and the rest of the Sith home fleet dropped into the gap formed in the minefield surrounding the small moon of Nar Shaddaa. The Sith Star Dreadnought had lain dormant during the last few years of war, having done little in action since the scourging of the Rebel Alliance at Dark Sun Station. Being relegated to the home fleet defending the Onderon axis in the Core Worlds and endless training and live fire exercises. But she would be silent no longer. The Scarabaeus Class Super Star Destroyers three hundred thousand crew lept into action, the two thousand heavy turbolaser batteries, additional two thousand turbolaser batteries, five hundred ion cannons, and some several hundred missile tubes sprang to life. Spitting something like five hundred tonnes of spin-sealed tibanna gas and two years of baradium mining in the inner rim into the Rebel fleet with every broadside. The six Victory-II class star destroyers and the Mon Calamari cruiser Saint Cathryne were there as well as they had been at Dark Sun, still bedecked in the red and gold of the Black Sun Grand Admiralty. One last time they would enter the fray together with the Sith Lords they had helped bring to power. And their combined hundreds of siege torpedo tubes began to launch their Nuclear tipped warheads. Not towards the Rebel Fleet, but towards the planet itself. Because their commander knew, sitting in the red cloak of command, that even if they won the fleet battle here, the rebellion would live on in the hearts of its citizens. Prefabricated refugee housings and skyscrapers were not much defense against a million megatons of thermonuclear destruction per salvo. Even those that survived the opening hours of the barrage would be reduced to ash from the falling remains of the rebel fleet. Their orders were clear. Nar Shaddaa was Base Delta Zero and the Sith Commander would live up to his name: The Blood Prince
  8. The fatigue stuck to him like an oil slick. Seeping into every pore, into every crack and crevasse, into the back of his eyes and into his brain itself. It was a strange thing, perhaps it was the echoes of his past dredging themselves through the decades to claw at his mind, or more likely, it was the result of nearly five years of constant war. If there was anything to be gained by turning the hard won galaxy over to the Rebel Alliance it would be the possibility of having a full night's sleep on some backwater world. But Delta did not really expect to get any sleep, even when the galaxy was once more at peace. For in dreams, and even in the waking world he was surrounded by ghosts. One glance over the Dark Lord’s shoulder and he could see them. Figures large and small wavering at the edges of his vision, flickering like holograms as the evening fog rolled in from the sea. ‘T’ shaped visors staring blankly from helmets of white platsoid, while the unhelmeted stared with dark eyes. They were easy to ignore when he was well rested or had his helmet on. The electronically enhanced vision always cut the quick of any ghosts. But here he was without either of his defenses, and the crowd of figures loomed like a menacing forest behind the Dark Lord. He spared them one more glance, his blue eyes brushing across a figure in gray green jedi robes, whose chest was pockmarked with blaster burns. For it was her, mined up like a sliver of ore from his dusty past. He deliberately looked away. Focusing instead on the yellow red eyes of the Dark Lord. He was so tired.
  9. Blood dripped in silent cascade down armour that was now dark with carbon scoring. Silent sobs coming in the gasps between breaths. Tears streamed in a white hot river down his face. Tracing pale lines through his blood stained face. Tracing through stubble that was graying at the fringes. He had seen death face to face from the very moment he had first opened his eyes in the cloning tank on Kamino. He had done quite a lot of killing in his overly long life. Not all of it in the service of a greater good. Most of it in fact, in the service of a greater evil. What was this hubris? He cradled the lifeless body and watched his tears wash away the blood on her face. Wishing at every drip that the body had been his instead. How had he expected anything less? He would not have blinked if this had been a child of a new republic soldier, gunned down on the streets of coruscant. Something that he himself had done on several occasions on the orders of some Sith Lord or the other. He had sunk cloud city to the very depths of Bespin and had laughed about it. He had detonated the bombs that had thrown Alderanni towers into an apartment complex with what? Three million inside of it? But he could not regret those actions. They had built the terror that had preceeded the rise of the Empire. The only way that true peace could have been achieved. So what if Exodus had spoiled their chances. Ailbasí could do make good of it in this next cycle. Then there would be a reason for this madness. Then the grinding cycle of violence could finally end. __________________________________________________ “What damnation is this?” Sigrid Hensi unclipped her rifle from its sling and handed it to another soldier, stepping gingerly over the body of an archeologist whose eyes still leaked the smoke from a blaster shot to the brain stem. Sitting in the middle of the excavation was a small and pyramid-like crystal case. It was whatever the Sith Lords had been digging for, that was for sure. Surrounded by warrens and nests of whatever those dark and evil creatures had been. She reached down to her belt and unhooked her dump pouch, throwing away the two magazines that were still in the bag from the night before. Then she placed the bag over the crystal, and keeping it covered, the command team walked back to their leader. __________________________________________________ Delta’s eyes snapped open. What was that smell? Burned flesh, carbonized hair, drying blood. No. It was the smell of Her. The faint scent of Ailbasí Zirtani, it could have been perfume, or perhaps he just knew her presence from the comfort it gave him. Red rimmed ice blue eyes looked into the crimson eyes of the Dark Lord. “The excavations awoke something that surprised us while undergoing training and foxhole drills. We were picked to pieces during the night.” He looked back down at the now very cold body of his daughter and gave Ailbasí a mournful smile. “She didn’t stand a chance.” With one hand Delta reached down and brushed aside the flame red hair from the cybernetic unit. He placed his hands on either side of her head pulled the two mainframe storage disks from their places behind her ears. Then handed them to Gerald Frostwin who had stepped up with the rest of the command team. With difficulty He pulled himself to his feet and gave the Dark Lord a crisp salute as Hensi held out the bag containing the crystal. “My Lady, I believe it is time we leave this damned planet behind and begin the last attack of the Sith Empire.”
  10. Worm-Shielding Device: "lightsaber will short circuit itself" Lets avoid this wording as instantanious disabling of weapons is frowned upon. Dragon Power Armor: Does this armour have gaps like Mandalorian Armour does? Burner Droids: I would split this into two different droids, one for the officer, and one for the Specialist. The fire suppression droid belonging to the specialist and the other to the officer. Fire-Storm Generators: Automatic counter attacks I think are too much at this point in the RP. Is this viable without such an autoattack? Smoker drones: Needs an effective range from activation like a grenade (example: 5 meters wide dispersion area)
  11. Blood seeped from beneath the formally white armour. Dripping in slow cascade from where claw and bone had found purchase in flesh and muscle. Oozing around bacta bandages and plasma cauterized entrance wounds to make dark red patterns on armour now stained with the grim mixture of blood, ash, and mud. The symbols of a night of terror. He pulled himself up and winced at the pain shooting up from where an IV had been placed through the gap in his thigh armour. He adjusted the bag of plasma and handed it to his Lieutenant who held it at head level as Delta pulled himself out of the foxhole. She was not much better when it came to wounds, but she was able to keep up with him as he started to walk the battlefield, stopping every few meters to look at a young and crumpled body. The search becoming desperate as pale face after pale face was found staring at an empty sky. Walking became a mad dash from foxhole to foxhole, the rest of the surviving command team joining in as they branched out throughout the makeshift encampment looking for but knowing that they would only find a dismal despair. Whatever the excavations had unearthed, they had brought a terrible curse upon the soldiers training to become part of the Special Operations Group. Another failure to be written in blood red ink under the name Delta73. He knelt by another small form and pushed the lifeless body of one of the semi-winged creatures off of it. A small flash. A blink of red light from beneath blood matted red hair and his laboured breath caught in his throat. Another red flash and he felt himself ripping off his gloves and helmet. The smell of the battlefield hit him first. The sour smell of mud, the crisp smell of ozone from overfired blasters, melted ceramoplastics, and the all too familiar smell of blood. She looked so small there. Laying like a discarded doll in a divot of the earth. Skin as pale as milkglass except where it was splashed by lines of freckles. The persistent and heavy rain from the night had washed most of the blood off, except where it had been mixed by mud, or clotted by fangs. He took another breath and placed his shaking hand on the thin shoulder which still carried the rank pauldron of cadet. Oh gods it was cold. It was so cold. His vision narrowed for a moment and his hearing became a whine of tinnitus. He hadn’t felt that kind of reaction in a long time. His vision swam for a moment, hazing in and out as the crumpled gray and white uniform and armour became a likewise crumpled figure in the deep blue tunic of the Jedi Healers. In a second he was back, holding a blaster rifle, kneeling inside a burning tent. Watching as blood misted lips tried to ask him why he had pulled the trigger. Why had he pulled that trigger a century before? Some revisionists would say that it was because of a little chip in his brain that flipped a switch that made him into a traitorous killer of the only woman who had ever truly and personally loved him. No. That was revisionist history. Plenty of soldiers and even commandos had resisted the order to kill their generals. And in truth, no such chip had ever existed. Delta had pulled that trigger because the young woman would not love him. She had been conflicted with her own teachings, they had loved one another, even physically, but she had let her doubts creep in. And in some petty and disgusting decision he had obeyed the order. An order that came at a fateful time. Turning spurned love into homicide. His vision swayed again, and he was kneeling in the open mud of Lehon again. Staring at the corpse of his daughter. Staring at the ripped flesh at her neck, the frightened look in her eyes, and his blaster pistol still held in her hand. The magazine reading empty on a blue white display. Would the galaxy take everything from him for that fateful pring day at the end of the Clone Wars? “Captain, one of them approaching.” Hensi’s voice was harsh, and Delta knew that she too was fighting back tears with every fiber of her being. Æthe had been a constant in the lives of all the command staff since she had joined them. But a glance up told him one of the Sith Lords that had overseen the Archaeological dig was walking their way. Stepping without a care over the bodies of cadets and creatures alike. A firm hand placed itself on his shoulder, it was the gentle hand of a friend who had tears snaking through his graying beard. They were all here now. He gave Frostwin a nod, which the other man returned and Delta pulled himself to his feet as the Sith lord in charge of the dig stepped up. With a hard nudge of his boot the Sith kicked Æthe’s lifeless arm out of his path and Delta could hear a gasp from one of the officers. Who would ever know what the Sith Lord would report? What question he was going to ask. It was all cut short by a quick fist in the throat afterwhich Delta struck him again and again. How many blows? Delta did not count, but they didn’t stop until he was punching into the mud through the back of a skull. His arms covered in a slurry of blood, mud, skull fragments, hair, and brain.
  12. Blood coated the inside of his helmet like a fine film. Every breath a labour that spattered the inside of the durasteel helmet with more of the bright red liquid. The heads up display in front of his eyes was hazy with the stuff. There were so many breaches in his armour now that he could not even rely on the display’s accuracy in regards to his and his squad’s vitals. In his periphery he could sense that his command unit was mostly alive, tucked into the burned out remains of a tented foxhole. Crouched among the bodies of the previous occupants. Whatever had happened in the night, Delta was sure that this was the bitter end of the Lima One special operations unit. If he even survived the night, it would mean everything would change. He coughed a mixture of mucus and blood out of his airway and leaned against the wall of the crudely dug foxhole, his vision hazing white and black from the effort and blood loss. He pushed his hand against the torn scrap of armour that covered the right side of his chest and winced as the suit's haptic feedback simulated the feeling of a stream of blood coursing across his fingers. Which meant the bandage he had applied earlier had come off in the rain. He groaned and dug at the pouch on his belt. Letting his blaster rifle rest on the side of the foxhole as he used one hand to staunch the bleeding while the other unfurled a coagulant impregnated gauze and shoved it into the ragged gap of skin and muscle. It would need to be cleaned, but that could wait until after he had survived the battle. Next came a bacta bandage, then another layer of gauze which he wrapped around his chest to secure it in place. Then an ampule of the stabilizing hypospray, which he injected then he straightened and picked back up his blaster rifle. A glance showed him little movement in the surrounding field. A few glowing fires, but no movement. With a blink he flipped through the spectral viewmodes on his helmet until he came to the thermal imaging camera embedded right above his browline in the helmet. A few white hot figures huddled here and there in the viewsite, but also a swarming and seething mass of dark black. So the fight was not yet won. Whatever the excavations had awoken, was still out there. Hunting and tracking the survivors of the Special operations training group. Which included his own daughter. His heartbeat began to rise at the thought and he leveled the blaster rifle at the center of the swarming mass of figures. Took a deep breath, then triggered the forwardmost of triggers on his rifle and shot a red flare into the midst of the darkness.
  13. Sleep was weird here in the sands of Lehon. She had dug foxholes before, mostly in the hard packed dirt of Onderon, but here the sides of the hole always seemed to tumble back down into the center. Supporting it with an armful or two of driftwood and durasteel scraps had held the hole together, but it made the thing awfully cramped. Especially when she added the tarpaulin covering. Plus the damned external battery she had to plug into her cybernetic unit every week. She lay back into the virtual nest of her foxhole, pulled the packed sleeping bag over her face, then plugged the two prongs into the side of her head. She pulled the auburn hair to the side, and with well practised fingers, opened the sliding panel on the dark grey cybernetic unit and pushed the two prongs from the external battery into place. Remember Her eyelids fluttered for a moment as the cybernetic unit adjusted to power input instead of power output. This was always a weird feeling, and her vision seemed to turn to sparkles before it subsided back into the dim grey green of a tarpaulin ceiling. She let out a soft sigh and leaned her head back onto the makeshift of her long deployment pack. Charge nights were always long, the dull hum enough to keep her awake. And she was one of the few training recruits to hear the soft pattering of rain against the top of her makeshift shelter. But even despite the humming in her ears, the exhaustion from the days training won the battle over her subconscious and her eyelids fluttered once, twice, then she was asleep, even as small rivulets of water made their way from the evening rain, through the sand, and into the bottom of her foxhole. It was that rain that saved her life. The cold and damp feeling of the wet sleeping bag, finally drove her out of sleep and into a fight for her life. A cold hand clamped firmly around her neck the moment she opened her eyes and she found herself staring into a horrible and beautiful face. Her heartbeat thundered in her ears as the grip around her neck increased, the face close enough to bite, if she could resist the pressure around her neck. A cold smile from even colder grey lips. And she began to struggle in earnest. She struck out with a fist that smashed into the creatures face, then she dug at her gunbelt. Pawing at the retention holster as the creature leaned down towards her. Ignoring her fierce blows at its head and neck, unti she could only see its fangs. Its fangs and its great yellow eyes that seemed to want to stare into the very depths of her soul. That was if she even had a soul. Snap. The pistol came loose with the holster still attached and she held down the trigger as she crushed the forend of the blaster into the chest of the creature. It shuddered with the first shot, almost shocked and began to squeeze harder at her neck. Darkness began to appear around the edges of her vision as she squeezed the trigger again and again. But for every shot there was no easement from the creature. Instead, the darkness reached out welcoming hands, and swallowed her up. Sudden unconsciousness detected. Calculating. Shock administered. The cybernetic unit around the base of her skull flared to life. Pulsing a massive dose of electric shocks down her spinal column, and forcing the young woman from the sweet embrace of death. The creature screamed and flung itself away, Pawing at its mouth which leaked a mixture of Æthe’s blood and scraps of freckled skin. She screamed. A cry more for her dad than any fear. _____________________ And so death descended onto the camp and Delta awoke to the sound of screaming and blaster fire.
  14. “Get up.” Two pairs of eyes locked for a moment through ‘T’ shaped visors, before one quickly glanced away. A blush formed across her face, which was thankfully hidden from the rest of the training unit by the stark and impersonal helmet. One more push on already far too tired legs, a strain on muscles not used to the weight of Empire issued armour. Once more into the run, following the almost inhuman surge of durasteel clad bodies as they ran down the beachhead. Pushing through the pain, the exhaustion, and the dreaded feeling of knowing that this would all repeat tomorrow. It would repeat forever most likely. Was that all there was? Running from training to training, punctuated by long downtimes in barrack, until either she died or the Empire fell? She didn’t know, and most of her mind did not care. What else was there in life? A boring office job in some casino the Rebels would blow the nuclear reactor of? No, she would be like father. Someone who made the gears of the galaxy move. Shoulder arms. Run. Jump. Crawl. Shoulder arms. Fire. Climb. Æthe 43391 would be a soldier. _____________________________ Three long hours later, the leader of the Darkwatch watched the recruits as they slowly trekked up the beach, their helmets finally taken off, and enjoying the last few hours of sunlight. They would be woken up at 0200 hours local time for night training. But they didn’t know that, so he let them enjoy their short evening. “Langraf, Frostwin. Reports if you please.” The two commanding officers of the first and second special operations companies stepped forward with crisp salutes. “The digs continue at pace. Though we are not participating in their activities, the archeologists continue to enjoy the sight of our commando’s protecting them. I anticipate another few weeks of likewise activities, as they continue to hunt down their ‘world altering’ artifacts. Whatever those are.” Delta laughed sharply. Then turned to Frostwin who gave him a friendly shrug. “Training continues as you can see. They are coming along well though some of the scientists in this expedition have suggested some kind of enhancement ‘therapies.’” Delta’s grin turned into a frown. “Anyone asks to do that again and bring them to me. We will not have Sith magic preformed on our men. Understood?” They both saluted. They had seen enough of that in their service time in Black Sun.
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