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Trill Scout Squadron

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  1. The tension was escalating for Christoph, Benjamin, and Ragnar. The thought that perhaps Steve had gone down was a growing knot in each of their chests even as Benjamin grumbled into his comm. “Trust his training.” The fortress loomed before the trio as they quickly approached it. With a stroke of luck, the gates were open, the ancient-styled drawbridge over cesspool-quality waters that served as a definitive mine between the haves and the have nots. Benjamin waved the others to follow him through. The roar of three engines echoed down the thundering tunnel-way lf the yawning entry into the courtyard and it was only then that they saw why the door was open. A thundering AT-AT stood in the gap, her pilots preferring to not be blown to smithereens like the final dying screams of their comrades. The three scouts did not have time to think. At those speeds, all they could do was react on instinct. Christoph leaned on his yoke hard, ripping the bike from the ground and skimming along the wall a good fifteen feet off the ground. Meanwhile, Christoph veered the opposite direction squeezing between a large metal foot and the wall in a spray of sparks and the whine of metal as the exterior plating was shorn from the ever friendly cowboy’s speeder bike, his boot heating as it’s plastoid makeup was torn up and pressed between the same two objects. The Scout howled in pain before he shot through the tight squeeze and weaving more easily between the back pair of legs. Meanwhile, Benjamin reacted with a more direct approach pulling back hard on the yoke and jumping his Imperial Scout Bike between the front two legs and over the massive feet arcing through the air crashing down behind the walker in a shower of sparks as the bottom of his bike slid along the stoney ground. Benjamin slid into the courtyard, his bike sliding sideways as the engine sputtered and lost power. He struggled to keep the bike upright and get it restarted. Finally, he failed. The speeder toppled sideways and began to roll. Benjamin shoved himself from the bike, clean from the incoming tumble. The Gunnery Sergeant clattered to the ground, rolling and tumbling hard as his speeder bike did the same. Rags zipped forward leveling out as he shot out beside Christoph. The two traded a brief albeit knowing look behind their helms before focusing on the courtyard quickly running out in front of them. They rapidly slowed as Rags cursed, “Steve had the charges!” Tumbling to a stop flat on his back spread-eagle, Benjamin groaned. “Then we improvise,” he spat, the metallic taste of blood filling his mouth. He was pretty sure those were teeth as he pulled his bucket from his head and spat a bloody mess of phlegm, saliva, blood and bits of bone. ”Gunny you alright?” Christoph called across his comm. ”Mostly.” The team leader slowly sat up. His body ached all over, but nothing felt terribly broken. Slowly he picked himself up. The sound of the large anti-aircraft guns thundered overhead; although, that was not the most pressing issue at the moment. Two dozen avian mercenaries bedecked in haphazardly adorned Imperial Stormtrooper gear were fanning out of several different doors into the courtyard; each one wanted to make sure they were not the first into the fray with these unknown attackers, but driven by a chance to elevate one’s position by saving the Nest was too much to pass up. Haphazard gunfire worthy of the stories of Imperial shocktroopers Stormtroopers erupted driving the trio of scouts to action. Rags and Christoph doge behind their bikes alongside the keep’s inner wall, blasters drawn as they kept their heads down, popping out to provide covering fire for their leader who was out in the open. Picking himself up, Benjamin broke into an attempted run, his aching legs refusing to hold him under the sudden strain and he toppled forward to the ground again. Pulling his pistol free, Benjamin squeezed several blasts off towards some of the birds before he began to pick himself up. Limping and at a hobbling gait, he ducked and tried to hurry toward his comrades. His only saving grace was his brothers’ return fire. Everyone wanted to be a hero, but none of them wanted to die. They quickly pulled back to cover, tentatively looking out to return odd and wide blasts. ————————————————- Outside, Steve cursed as he batted at his helmet several times. The comms had been fried. Undoubtedly his brothers-in-arms were concerned, maybe even presumed him dead. Weaving through the mazed slums, Steve looked over his shoulder at the fortress. He did not see a ready way in and as he zipped forward a pair of TIE fighters seemed to have taken a shine to him. Weaving above them, the cannons strafed green superheated beams of destruction toward the Chiss. Pulling hard to the right, Steve ripped a 90 degree turn under the whine of his bike’s engine angling deeper into the slums. ————————————————- “We got to get inside.” Rags growled as he aimed his carbine at a doorway, blasting as soon as a helmeted head came into view. “Feels wrong shooting what looks like our own.” Pulling himself towards the others, Benjamin flopped to cover alongside Christoph with a grunt. ”Glad you could drop in Gunny.” The Scout chortled as he popped off several rounds. ”The reactor core is in the lower levels. Lets find a way to blow it.” Rags growled standing to lay down a continuous stream of fire as he moved to shield Benjamin and Christoph. Christoph meanwhile helped Benjamin back to his feet, slinging the Gunny’s arm about his shoulders to lean on him. Slowly they advanced towards the nearest door, all three laying down fore any time a bucketed Stormtrooper head popped into view.
  2. The rat-tat-tat of the heavy cannons rattled about the ship as the wind screamed pst the open doors. It was like an old war holovid in real life. Not that that occurred to most of the crew; although Rags chuckled to himsef at the realization. The Scouts’ comma crackled to life. It was a shock in and of itself. A string of unprintable curse words flowed from Queens mouth as he jabbed at several buttons and switches on his console. Apparently the old boat was showing her age. Where the velocity of decent and the forces gravity had not been enough to dislodge whatever wire had inevitably rattled loose the sheer momentous power of the near direct artillery hit was enough to shut down the jamming system. “Did one of you sit on the switch?” Queens snarled angrily. Steve stared down the barrel of his weapon. Blasts of molten hot laser tore through enemy targets with accuracy and ease. The young Scout did not say anything. If anything, the Chiss member of the squad had entered a near state of meditation as he put everything else from his mind but hitting his targets. Even if he was a tactical operator, he had absolute trust in his fellow soldiers to do their job, so there was no sense worrying about it. Such desiccation allowed Benjamin the chance to spin about to the intricate hamming system. The leader of the squad flicked several switches. He even kicked the contraption for good measure causing it to fizzle for a moment. “Nothing on this end.” He growled into his comms with a hint of frustration knowing full well how much more difficult things had become. The resulting wall of explosive fire rattled off by the X-wings consumed the wall of Imperial armor from view, at least for a moment. Some of the aged equipment was unable to stand up to the barrage, succumbing to the concussive blasts that flattened nearby shanties and bursting into flames. Other armored pieces showed their Imperial craftsmanship and weathered the assault with no obvious ill effect. With the sudden opening up of comms, the front line defenses were able to relay the sudden assault on their livelihoods. In the castle, a new sense of urgency overtook the place. It was all hands on deck. This was no drill. Quickly the roof mounted anti-aircraft batteries roared to life. Another purchase of near top tier defensive power. The U-wing pulled back, hard as Queens’ white knuckles gripped the yoke of the rattling craft. “We’re gonna have to put down a little further back.” He snarled as he arced upwards and around in a wide loop, a single blast from an anti-air cannon rattling the teeth of everyone aboard. Thankfully the shields held, but nee klaxons began to blare. Rags and Benjamin yanked Steve and Christoph back into the hold, the doors slamming shut against the onslaught. They all fell in a heap at the back of the hold, liked against the magnetized speeder bikes. “Hey!” Christoph chortled. “The rest of us aren’t wearing seatbelts back here!” ”Sounds like a you problem,” Queens retorted as a smile creeped across the edges of his helmeted face. This was where the fun started. ”Ugh.” Rags groaned as he shoved Stege off his lap. “Hey. Just cause you got a death wish don’t mean we do!” He shouted toward the cockpit. The comms worked fine and everyone winced as he whispered “Stupid coffin jockey.” ”Hey Rags,” Benjamin waved as he tapped his helmet where his ear and comm speaker were Oh. Oooooooh Rags realized. “Well don’t kill us.” ”Better buckle up cowboys. Its gonna get bumpy.” The pilot drolled in an almost sing-song monotone as he pulled the u-wing up at the last possible moment with a protest of struts. Leveling out the ship tore away from the direct assault, slowing a short distance from the ghetto of shadows beneath the castle. Eventually the ship came to a stop and Queens spun in his seat. “Front row seats to the balcony fellas. Pop flares when you’re ready for pickup and I’ll show you what us coffin jockeys can really do.” He smiled. That was fun. The four scouts grabbed their gear and hurried to release the maglocks on their bikes, guiding them down the descending ramp. ”Alright boys. You know the drill,” Ben smiled tiredly. “In and out. Ten fingers, ten toes. Steve, you got the stuff?” Steve patted the satchel slung about his shoulder and gave a thumbs up. ”Lets blow this popsicle stand!” Rags whooped as his speeder bike roared to life and he tore towards the zig-zagging walkways of the shantytown. The other three Scouts quickly followed suit and soon the group was in their element, white-knuckled and relaxed as they tore at breakneck speeds through the slums. The chaos of the assault seemed to unfold around them. Stormtrooper armor wearing goons ran through the streets blasting at anyone that got in their way, local, experiment, or foe alike. It did not matter. Even more armor rolled into sight, the masters within their fortress fearful of even more attackers materializing for an all out assault. TIE fighters launched from their hangars. Their signature twin ion engines breaking the usual still skies as they invoked mass panic in the streets below. Of course, none of that was helped by the random strafing the TIEs subjected the defenseless people below too. Steve snarled instinctively he veered hard to the left. An entire city block was vaporized. Beneath his armor, he felt the heat as his comm crackled ineffectively in his ear. Separated from the others for a moment, the Chiss focused on his task at hand. They had to get into the castle. They had to detonate the main power core. ”Sarge!” Christoph cried into his comm. “We mighta lost Trill Four!” He exclaimed as a fireball erupted behind them driving the bikes forward even faster. ”Stay on target.” Benjamin reassured them, his heart growing cold at the thought he might have lost another brother. “He’s too tough for a little fire to cook.”
  3. Following tightly behind Templar One, the explosions of fiery fuel and warheads enveloped a majority of the swarm. As they approached the outer edges of the planet’s atmosphere, Queens hoped reentry would burn the remainder of the devil-droids. The ship shook slightly as it entered the atmosphere. The shields of the craft buffered a majority of the heat as the atmosphere peeled past. The armored exterior easily took the rest. Below them the sweeping deserts and steppes of the world unfolded before the fleet. Small nomadic villages sparsely dotted the landscape, darker splotches against the bright sands; all a significant distance to the south, far from the castle of the Nusp-Ashla Nest. The castle stood darkly overlooking the sprawling slums beneath it. For the moment, it was still out of sight beyond the horizon, beyond the curvature of the globe the team descended towards. But still, an explosion in the asteroid fields would garner attention from the authorities that commanded the nest; had they known about it. For the moment, those inside the nest were simply scratching their heads and tapping at their consoles. Something was amiss. Was it possible an entire sector of satellites could go down at the same time? Or, was it an equipment malfunction? Sending lackeys into the bowels of the castle, hopefully they could figure it out and before their next client arrived. If it was a satellite issue, they would need repaired. That would cost credits. They would need to increase their prices. The idea of an attack, well, that was purely laughable. Nobody could get past the asteroids. And then, one by one, sensor suites began to blink back into existence. Meanwhile, others began to malfunction as if they ceased to exist. And they kept getting closer. The birds may have not been the smartest in the galaxy, but they knew a thing or two about a thing or two. Something was inbound. “Scramble the fighters!” The cry went out as an obnoxious squawking alerted the castle to assume their battle positions. It was something that had not happened in a long time, not for an emergency at least. A show of force for the highest levels of clientele, sure, that happened from time to time, so every Nediji made sure to slip into a cleanly tailored uniform before half-scurrying towards the VERY large guns atop the walls and towers. Two squadrons of TIE Interceptors launched from within the courtyard. Their engines spun loudly as they swooped low over the ghetto of experiments that lived to serve their mad machinations. Tools of fear. Following along with the Templars, the U-wing began to drop lower than the others. When they got closer, the ship would land and offload the speeders and Trill Scout Squadron. On the horizon, the black splotch of the castle atop the steps began to formulate, a black blob against the skyline. The slums and ghettos sprawled outwards like a greasy stain. Even if they felt invincible, the Nest was paranoid, highly. Maybe that was why they stayed alive for so long away from their initial homeworld. So when the communicators, from handheld walkie talkies to interplanetary relays, went dark; scrambled as if they were being overloaded and unable to respond or transmit, the paranoia went into overdrive. In addition to being paranoid, the Nest was highly wealthy. Not a good combination, because that wealth only served to be utilized in pursuance of overpowering any perceived threats from revolts to discovery by their own coming to punish them. In the chaos of the galaxy, that wealth bought lots of stolen goods. A half dozen Clone War era SPHA-Ts, two dozen Riot Control Walkers, and a squad of All-Terrain Defense Pods made up one of those purchases; money spent to keep suppressing the people, to display their power; and occasionally, keep nomadic barbarians at bay. Crews scurried towards the walkers. They would move through the crowded streets, parting the masses, and destroying anyone or anything that might stand in their way. Whatever was coming, a show of force might be enough to dissuade them. Surely someone had managed to arm up the nomads. They would pay for that, but first, the usurpers would need put down, publicly. The U-Wing began to slow. “Whatcha doin Queens? We got a hot drop to make. Can’t even see the enemy yet.” Rags snarled playfully. Queens shook his head, he could barely hear what was being said. He knew enough to know it surely wasn’t words of encouragement. He did not need to respond. The massive turbolaser blast from the self-propelled heavy artillery ripped through the air. It would have struck the U-Wing head on had Queens not jerked the yoke hard downwards and to the left. “That wasn’t very nice.” Queens muttered as he pointed the nose towards the ground, pulling up with a squeal of metal as it protested the gravitational forces that pulled at it. They skimmed along, mere feet above the ground. ”Guess thats our signal,” Benjamin shouted, hefting his heavy weapon to Steve as he unstrapped himself and knelt to plug the weapon into the external power source. On the opposite side, Christoph gage an excited and altogether primitive war whoop as he grabbed his own heavy weapon and threw open the hatch. “Strap in first there skippy!” Rags grunted as he slapped a restraint strap to the Scout’s belt line as he leaned out the opening and sent a volley of cannon fire at a forward angle towards the wall of armor that seemed to be forming up at the edge of the ghetto.
  4. “So far so good.” Lance Corporal Christoph Sokol whispered. His soft voice seemed to shatter the silence that filled the ship as it wove a path through the asteroid field. He was met with several disapproving looks from behind a trio of helmeted faces. Still the creak of his comrades’ armor as they leaned against their harness and their body weight adjusted spoke clearly. What was he thinking? ”Heh.” Queens chuckled softly. He wasn’t one to believe in superstitions, but he had appreciated the dead silence the scouts had unsolicitedly offered him as he wove the Alliance craft through the rapidly tumbling ever-changing maze of destructive stonework that was the asteroid field about Acrid. He was right, Christoph, after all, so far, things seemed to be going along swimmingly. Given the chance of encountering Imperial tech in the hands of what amounted to little more than slavers or pirates, the pilot had honestly expected more. When one had the toys of oppression, one usually liked to show them off. Although . . . the twirling wreckage of some sort of hacked up freighter that passed uncomfortably close overhead as the U-wing pitched downward at a sharp incline was probably testament enough. “Approaching the inside rim of the asteroid field,” Queens droned almost robotically. So far so good indeed, if there was going to be any sort of engagement, the TIE pilot preferred more open space to a gravitationally strewn field. In the hold, the excitement was almost palpable. The silence having been broken moments before, the commander of their little group, Gunnery Sergeant Benjamin Wood nodded as he checked the blaster connections of the heavy repeater nestled in his lap. “No going back now boys. Only way home is once we secure our objective and make sure this filth’s bio-labs are blown back to Xim’s final stand.” As if on cue, a single red beacon flashed in the hold. In the cockpit, it was accompanied by a telltale mechanized whoop. “Whoever it is, good guess them birds know we’re at the front door.” Queens radio’d as his scanners picked up the planetary scans of their ship. Somebody had spotted them. “Trill Five is going dark.” ”That’s our signal, lets light this Life Day cake,” Riggs laughed, excited for what came next, “Just don’t get us shot down, this coffin is packing multiple friendlies.” He chided the pilot as he slapped the activator to the frequency jammer. A bulbous gelatinous sound seemed to emanate outward from device itself as the entire ship was engulfed in a rapidly expanding field of millions of frequency overriding signals. “Yeah, yeah.” Queens waived off the comment, but even his helmet comms were jammed, bathing the entire ship in an eerie silence sage for the dull throbbing of the engines that one could almost feel more than hear. About the same time swarms of interceptor droids detached from the backsides of the spinning asteroids, launching themselves with a fury towards the planetary bound squadron of craft. Triggered either by the sensor ping or the sudden frequency jamming, the droids did what they knew best. Their little computerized minds focused on whatever was not a known friendly and they attacked, launching themselves with reckless abandon at the X-Wings and U-Wing. True, they were less coordinated than they may have been, several even crashed into one another in their fury to attack, exploding in plumes of silent electrified debris; still, it was like a horde of goblins giving chase. Goblins armed with Clone War era buzz droids that is. They could not lock on, that would have made them even deadlier. No winder so few ever made it. By sheer number and continued computerized sef-adjustments, the swarm closed in. The flash of two buzz droid-laden interceptors colliding caught Queens’ attention. The fact that they had gotten so close was a concerning testament to the pilot’s general dependence in the technology he so expertly commanded. No sensors had alerted him to the asteroid-birthed defensive measure that cut them off from the outside world and sought to cut them to pieces. “Evasive maneuvers.” He called into his dead comm unit. Not like anyone could hear him. It was more force of habit than anything. Verbalize you actions, slow yourself down just enough to think, act on thought and instinct. Remaining in formation, the U-wing accelerated with the others, clear from the field. Perhaps speed was to be their friend already.
  5. The modified U-wing, a Rebellion held ship since back when the Empire and Rebellion went toe to toe, now held what could have been an unfathomable cargo. A squad of four of the Imperium’s more eclectic scout troopers, cowboys as noted in several official reports. A new galaxy, new alliances, the same fight; for the cause of good. The ship was old, well maintained, but her age showed. It was apparent in the wear on the rounded edges of railing, faded leather straps, scratches from a myriad of equipment and soldiers loaded and offloaded more times than one could count. She had it where it counted though and right now, in addition to the four speeder bikes that were mag-locked to the decking, she was packing a highly specialized frequency jamming system. Electronic warfare in it’s compact finest. Ten thousand plus frequencies, overwhelmed to the point of ineffectiveness. In a word, radio silence, scrambled by an ever changing onslaught of electrical feedback and pinged super-charged empty communications. The entire system was nestled deep within the hull of the ship, wired directly into the comm relays of the U-wing. It would make use of the ship itself to broadcast a sweeping net of silence across what would be a relatively primitive world. Unfortunately, such a specialized system necessitated the removal of the ship’s laser cannons; lest they overwhelm the energy core. Not wanting to be completely unarmed, even with the fabled Templar Squadron at their back, the men of Trill Scout Squadron, under the command of Gunnery Sergeant Benjamin Wood, were excited to tote out a pair of Imperial Heavy Repeaters and cases of metallic bolts and concussion grenades. All three of the men were smiling. It had been a while since they had done a tactical insertion; even linger since any of them got to hang out a gun port and pepper away from the upper atmosphere. Even Steve’s serious emotionless mouth struggled to maintain the smile pulling at the edges of his mouth. Sure the nature of this mission was serious. Yes, this op was going to be risky. Disabling an entire base of operations with close air support. Right now though, the anticipation of the unfolding mission brought on some pre-op jitters. It was going to be trying. It was going to be a challenge. “The fun kind. Fast and fiery” Christoph had described it when they first received their new orders after leaving Nar Shaddaa. Dropping out of hyperspace with the X-Wings, the ship’s pilot, a veteran TIE pilot and survivor of the Siege of Nar Shaddaa, Flight Leader Jason Q. Riggs ‘Queens’ ‘s voice drolled over the speakers and comms, “S-foils locked back.” The servos within the ships hull whined and those aboard could feel the gentle lock of the wings locking backwards. The ship was shaped like an arrow, narrow and pointy. Looking back over his shoulder, he nodded his helmeted head at the scouts, “Better buckle up boys,” he commed as he looked at them. “Intel wasn’t kidding. Asteroids around the whole planet.” Nobody had to ask. They knew what that meant. It was going to get rough. Scans of the field were severely limited at best. They were going to be flying in all but blind. As soon as they fired up the comms jammer, if they didn’t see it with their own eyes, it didn’t register. It’d be like flying a podracer in, well, an asteroid field. “Trill Five,” Queens called out over his radio, “Templar One. On your lead.” The U-wing would stay in formation with the X-wings as deep into the field as possible. Eventually they would have to break apart to navigate the field without being blown to smithereens. If contact was made, Rags and Christoph knew to fire up the jammer as soon as humanely possible. Given the reports from the missionaries, there was little worry beyond the asteroids. If they had made it in unmolested, surely trained military pilots could do it easily. Unless, of course, it was by blessing or pure luck. The Nest had small teams of droid interceptors stationed on the dark sides of several of the larger asteroids. Who knew if there were mines or anything else. Pulling his harness down over his torso, Rags smiled before plopping his bucketed helmet onto his head and digging an elbow at Steve’s side. “Keep your helmet in your lap kid. I threw up on my first hot asteroid run.” The Chiss’ eyes narrowed. “Har har. I’ve been on hot intakes before corporal.” He droned back dryly as he thunked his own helmet on his head before clicking his own harness into place and pulling it down snug.
  6. It took two weeks to coordinate the evacuation of the entire settlement, and that was before a single ship would start to arrive. That was well enough. The people here had settled in. They would need time to gather their things, their families, and prepare to leave the devastated world they once had made their home. The men of Trill Scout Squadron lent their aid where and when they could, packing haphazardly salvaged supplies. The camp here knew of other survivor groups scattered above and below the surface. They then knew of still others. Over the days and weeks these groups began to consolidate until the vast caverns and tunnels where the Scouts had found themselves became uncomfortably cramped. Slipping off into yet another ‘uncharted’ natural shaft that plunged deeper into the planet, the group alighted on something of interest. ”Hey Gunny!” Christoph hollered as he pulled a greasy tarp back to expose a trio of scout speeder bikes. “Now only Steve has gotta account for HIS lost ride.” He chortled to himself as Steve shot a red-eyes glare at the goofy Lance Corporal before returning to the box of b. ”Just going to have to amend the reports, again eh?” The team leader, Gunnery Sergeant Benjamin Wood asked, a hint of sarcasm playing at his monotone voice as he gingerly pried open a crate filled with a variety of grenades. Nar Shaddaa was still considered an active military zone and while the bulk of the surviving fleet had moved on, there was still an active patrol presence overhead. It was not enough to evacuate the remaining locals and personnel; but they were able to offer emergency services while needed until proper transport was secured. Transmission codes, travel authorizations, the whole nine yards, all of it was required to even think about approaching the destroyed world. All of that took time. On the other end of things, precious ships needed to be secured. In the galaxy’s state, that could have been anything from a star destroyer to fleets of ore haulers. What was not expected; however, was an entire fleet of Tetan Corsairs as they dropped out of hyperspace over the devastated world. Their cannons carved a path through the jagged field of debris that encircled Nar Shaddaa. Painted in the royal black and emerald green colors of the Tetan monarchy, the fleet glimmered against the dull jagged metals of the debris. Such a rate sight would have facilitated an immediate response, had the monarchy of Empress Teta not extended an olive branch to the war torn Alliance. The first step of that was to evacuate those that remained here to the deep core city world of Empress Teta, the beginnings of a newly formed and defensible capitol. As the fleet carved a path towards the planet, exuding an aura of power and with it a hope for a better tomorrow, the survivors below began to heft their belongings to designated pick up points across the surface. Points free of radiological debris and decay. Locations that were relatively, or at least designed as, “safe”. It was at one of these points, designated ‘Secure Landing Zone Nern-Sen-2’ that the four scouts swept the perimeter, infrared scanners taking in the destruction on an entirely other level. ”Not sure a blessed thing survived this apocalypse,” whispered Steve in sight. ”Right?” Rags nodded as his carbine swept the rubbled foundation of what had been a government hall. “If it did, its a hell of a lot tougher than the usual gundarks we bullseye.” ”Nothing over here,” Christoph growled. ”Same.” Benjamin added. “Send up the first wave. Ships should be cleared to land. Watch for green smoke.” All four scouts ignited green smoke grenades and tossed them wide of the four corners of the landing zone. Minutes later the deep rumbling of the first Tetan Corsair could be heard above the unnatural stillness of the area. Soon enough it was descending through the smog and oily gray clouds.
  7. “What is she…” Christoph growled in disbelief as he raised his weapon to peer over the top of the chunk of fallen ceiling at the situation playing out. He would have continued with the question had he not been harshly waived off by CO. “Can it Lance Corporal,” Benjamin snarled in his own comm unit. “If she wants to die, so be it.” ”We’re here to evacuate friendlies, NOT babysit idiot freelance andris junkies.” Rags cut in as he chanced a glance around the crate he was leaning against. Flicking his comm off for a moment, Rags let loose a string of explicatives at the woman in the Mandalorian outfit. What was she thinking announcing their presence. She might as well point them out one by one. The subtle telltale signs of weapons that had been held dormant being flicked off of safety, cocked, cycled, and what not was a cacophony to the trained ear. Whoever it was posted up in the passageway had been there for a spell at the least. The arrival of anyone down that collapsed transit tube had been zero up until this point. Still, discretion being the better part of valor and all. The rebels holed up further down had sent some of their greener recruits to cover this particular ‘dead end’. ”Ha! And when did the stormies start walking around with the likes of you bucket heads?” A surprisingly cheerful voice called out from the darkness. Clearly some sort of commanding officer for the ragtag group of young commando-wannabes. Steve heard the commotion and raised a questioning eyebrow behind his helm. They made a valid point. Not that he was going to say or do anything about it. Like his brother had said, they were not there to babysit Sophia. Nearby, the other Scouts were contemplating similarly. Exposing one’s self to a potential enemy went against a lot of protocols. So of course there was no chance someone wasn’t going to do exactly that. All that remained to be seen was who first. ”Hey kid!” Rags bellowed across the tension-thick cavern. “Just put your guns down and come on out.” Not likely. “Ain’t nobody here wanna hurt you. Especially not the beskar bimbo out front.” ”Yeah right. And we’re just a bunch of nerf-herders from the steppes of Makeb. You come out with your hands up and we’ll try not to blast you. Theres two dozen of us armed to the teeth.” Liar. Ben rolled his eyes as he let his carbine clatter about his waist. There was no more than seven of them from here the half klick up before the tunnel took a sharp downward right turn. Carefully he stood up, hands held outward and at ear level. As he stood, he slowly reached over to flip on the floodlight alongside his helmet. “Right. Look. Battles over upstairs. We’re here to help.” Slowly the leader of the Scout team turned, his light sweeping over the entire scene. Gingerly jerking a thumb at Sophia he grunted. “She’s our ride. Not one of those mandos.” There was some hushed whispers from beyond the battlefield barricade the group of rebel guards were behind. A shrill female voice rang out, “What’d you do with the last ship we gave you?” Surprise gripped Benjamin and his three comrades followed by a level of relaxation. Popping up from behind his cover, Christoph leaned forward and pulled his helmet off letting it clatter to the floor. “Jenny that you? It’s me Christoph!” He smiled. Had he been able to, Benjamin would have facepalmed. Rags actually did before he slowly stood up, hands held out to each side. “Corporal Ragnar Krans, Imperial Scout Troopers Trill Squadron. You all know this is an absolutely terrible set up, right?” ”Ragsy!” The same female voice called. “You came back!” It took a few minutes to deescalate things a bit more, but before the end of the hour the group had crossed behind the barricade. The Scouts had holes up at the underground encampment before they were able to evacuate. Thankfully they had spent more time than any report would admit carousing with other military units. They were due to be relieved the next morning. When that time came, the whole group could hitch a ride back to camp. From there they could coordinate services and evacuations.
  8. Steve who was watching the group’s six jumped at the sound of Sophia’s blaster firing. It was something Rags and Christoph would tease him about for a long time. Of course, the Chiss would deny it. ”There goes any element of surprise,” Rags grumbled as Christoph chuckled, “Good. Steve is scared of the dark. He’d rather a straight up fight with whatever rathtar might be lurking down here.” ”damn straight.” The lowest rscked member of the team retorted as he simulated racking the barrel of his carbine. Not that it did anything; but it made the scout feel like a total operator. Climbing through the broken glass, Benjamin looked over his shoulder. He knew better than to engage the tomfoolery of the group. “Just keep an eye out for rathtars while we check this out,” he gestured to the inky black tunnel. His helmet did little to illuminate the darkness, amplifying the light from his helmet enough to function but that was about it. In the office, he slowly took in the scene. Place had been abandoned in a hurry, probably during the attack. It made enough sense. Behind his helmet, the Gunnery Sergeant canted an eyebrow os the woman removed her Mando helmet. He thought that Mandos never took those things off, especially in the field. He did not voice the concern though. It was not his culture, so what did it matter to him? Then the woman tasted the liquid that came gushing from the pipe. “You kriffing mad??” The gunnery sergeant snarled as he pulled the woman back from the gushing water. These spacers really were something else weren’t they. Not a brain cell between all of them across the rim if someone asked him. As she sputtered, Benjamin let the woman go, “for your sake, I hope it is. We holed up with a large band of survivors down here when the shelling got too intense to survive on the surface.” He explained as they picked through the rubble finding another path. Keying his comm, he signaled his comrades to join them. “We got out. Left a lot of them safely down below. Seems like this might be the best route to try and get to them.” ”What up gunny?” Christoph queried as he and the others came up even with the duo. Benjamin pointed down the hallway. “Looks like we’re walking.” Tapping the map on the wall, Steve nodded. “If this access tunnel hasn’t fallen in, looks like we can exit at another access point several floors down. Might even get us into shouting distance of the camp.” ”No sense waiting. Lets get moving.” Benjamin waved the group forward as he started to walk, the plastoid armor creaking and clacking against the troopers’ weapons. Down the hallway they went. Several times they had to clear partial obstructions where a portion of the ceiling or wall had caved in. A couple times they had to stop to clear adjacent rooms, many of which led off into separate complexes, some blocked, some untouched, but all vacant. After a fair bit of walking the group came to an access hatch. A ladder led downward into the inky darkness. Rags kickrd a piece of rubble downwards into the blackness. It clinked and klanked as it fell before it clattered to a stop somewhere below. As the sound faded into the absolute stillness, the intelligence officer interrupted. “Good enough for me.” He looked at Steve and growled, “Your rathtar must be sleeping.” Steve shoved the corporal’s shoulder towards the tunnel and the group began to descend until they reached the bottom. Opening the door, the group began to fan out into a large clearing hewn into the natural rocky cavern beneath the complex. Lights and infrared scanners searched the area as Rags held up a closed fist signaling the group to stop. “We are not alone.” In their HUDs a dozen crouched forms glowed red on the heat sensors. Each was positioned behind cover, clutching a variety of weapons, lying in wait. ”An ambush.” Steve hissed. The excitement apparent in his hushed voice as he checked his carbine and reached for a grenade. ”Could be looters Gunny,” Christoph noted as he readied his own weapon. ”Possibly,” the squad leader slowly nodded. “Or,” he added before pausing again. “They heard us coming and don’t know if we are Sith, Mandalorians,” he shot a glance at Sophia, “or a rescue party.” ”Yeah. Be a shame if we had another friendly fire incident wouldn’t it?” Rags chined in gruffly, the sarcasm heavy in his voice.
  9. Even on speeder bikes with honed reflexes and advanced sensor arrays and computer guidance the going was slow(er). Well, at least slower than what Trill Scout Squadron was used to. Moving slightly faster than a pack of gundarks at full tilt was barely a quarter of what the fine-tuned Imperial machines between their thighs were capable of. So as they skimmed above the rubble-strewn metro tunnel and makeshift bypasses, the grumbling continued from both Christoph and Rags as they chided one another, Steve, and anything that moved or wouldn’t move under concentrated torrents of red blaster fire spewn from their machines. The tunnel had shifted, and while sensors, what was left of them, vaguely indicated there was passage though to the mediocre band of refugees the Squad had last met, it was not the same. Eventually they were forced to come to a complete stop, a fallen section of thick duracrete blocking their advance. Up above them, a hole large enough to shimmy through if one had skinny thoughts and a detachable duty belt and pack. Sloshing into the ankle deep unnervingly warm water at their feet, the four tried their best to secure their rides out of the waters. ”Probably radioactive,” Christoph smiled beneath his helmet as he elbowed Steve playfully in the ribs. “Enlarges things don’t ya know.” Their commanding officer, Benjamin Wood, could not help but shake his head even as Steve tried to jump from the water at the though. There was never a dull moment with the group. ”Gods be damned,” Steve muttered. “I’m already too much for most women to handle as is. Don’t need any more of that trouble.” Silence fell in the heavy air of the tunnel as Steve’s three squad mates exchanged glances. Had Steve just cracked a joke? It was hard to tell over the comm units. Or was he actually being serious? ”You might want to see a doctor about that son.” Benjamin muttered stoically breaking the silence as he slipped a pair of spiked climbing gloves over his wet white boots and carefully began to climb towards the hole. once at the top, a black line came trailing downward towards the others, secured to a rather jagged spike of rebar jutting from the broken stonework. Once everyone was up, Rags growled, “Switching to thermals. Darker than the inside of an Tauntaun at night.” ”Just as warm too,” Christoph shkt back as he offered a hand to help Sophia over the jagged lip to the landing. ”Looks like we’re alone.” Rags reported, noting no signs of anything for some time, nothing but the dribbling muck and possibly radioactive water. ”Satellite feed is out.” Benjamin added to the conversation, “Looks like we do it the old fashioned way from here. This wasn’t the w we came last time. You got any ideas Captain?” He directed himself towards @ObliviousKnight gesturing forward into the darkness. ”Lets just not lose the bikes this time. We still gotta find a way to account for the ones we left behind last time.” Steve chimed in. ”Wait! Didn’t you tell them they were lost when we got shot down over this godforsaken hellhole?” Christoph asked, his voice nearing on indignant. “That is not what happened and you know it.” Steve shot back. ”Yeah but command don’t need to know where they really went. I mean, good as gone now anyways.” Christoph responded. Shooting a glance at the other two, Rags added ominously, “we hope…”
  10. “Hey thanks.” Lance Corporal Christoph Sokol grinned as he grabbed the handful of pills from the Mando-clad woman. “Did not think that you were a Mando?” He stated questioningly as he took in the woman’s plastoid-formed gear beneath her open coat. He creased his gloved palm to keep one within, dumping the rest in Corporal Ragnar Kran’s adjacent hand. Rags eyeballed the pills warily even as Christoph downed his without a second thought. “Don’t think most Mandalorians are ahhh nevermind,” he waived off the comment about the woman’s painted plastoid armor, letting her have whstever level of dignity she was purporting to portray. He picked a pill up with his opposite hand, his carbine swinging and clacking against his chest as he held the pill into the air to eyeball it proper. “Looks standard enough.” Watching Sophia swallow hers, Rags and then Steve, who seemed wary of the pill at first, followed suit. When their commanding officer, Gunnery Sergeant Benjamin Wood, joined them from inside he took his offered medication and downed it without question. “Glad to see you’re feeling better ma’am. Time to get to work.” He swung his leg over a humming speeder bike and offered a hand to their pilot to let her climb on behind him. The other three quickly scrambled to mount their metal steeds as well. “We have to see how many we can find. With any luck, we’ll load your ship to the gills with refugees. Any space left we can see about finding any sensitive documents that might be scattered about. ”Scans come back clean gunny.” Steve interjected. “The underground rail tunnel is still open with a slight detour. Seems like the Sith ship spearing into the planet jarred lose some of the ceiling. Opened it up to the water mains. If we can go through there we’re back in the tunnel couple hundred yards down.” His analysis of his holo-readout was accurate enough if not fuzzy with all the interference in the air from the aftermath. Benjamin nodded, “Lets roll out.”
  11. The rest of the team came skittering into the doorway of the cockpit just as the ship rumbled and set down on the surface. Both Christoph and Rags eyes were wide as they took in the scene. ”Uh Gunny,” Christoph called out to Benjamin as he secured the ship aboard her makeshift landing platform with the docking clamps. “I didn’t know we allowed the newbie chances at . . . uhhh . . . extra curriculars” The Scout smiled as Steve shot him a heated glare, scurrying back from Soohia who seemed to be with it enough to not have to worry about her biting off her own tongue. Leaning on the top of the back of the pilot’s chair, Benjamin regarded the sweat-soaked woman they had more or less press-ganged into Imperial Servicr. “Gave us a bit of a scare there Captain Moriarty. Take what time you need.” Directing his eyes to the other three, he nodded his chin towards the door. “Why don’t you boys gets the bikes offloaded. If we’re looking for survivors we should see if we can still get in through those tunnels.” ”Aye” the three echoed as Steve stood. Leaning forward, Rags and Christoph grabbed Sophia by the arms and helped her to a standing position. “You need some bacta for them scratches?” Rags nodded towards her scratched flesh.
  12. As the freighter slowed, dropping back to realspace, the weight of the space around them pressed in heavily, even for those who were not attuned to the intricacies of the force. Back in the hold, Rags stood up, offering a hand to Christoph as Steve pulled on his gloves, the rest of his freshly cleaned scout trooper armor already in place, save for the helmet atop his speeder bike. “Oof. You feel that?” Christoph wondered aloud. “Like a ton of bricks.” ”Way too much death. If only people would have listened.” Rags responded as he began to slip into his black body glove. The comment left hanging in the air as Steve and Christoph stopped what they were doing to exchange curious glanced. ____________________ In the cockpit, Benjamin inhaled sharply at the site of devastation that laid out before them. “My god.” He hissed. “Its worse than Kuat.” That was as far as the Gunnery Seegeant’s contemplations went as his attention was drawn to their pilot. She seemed to be going into some sort of seizure. “Hey! Doc!” He shouted, grabbing her shoulder and shaking it violently. It did not do much. The freighter began to bank hard to starboard as Sophia released the yoke and an unidentified chunk of spaceship grazed the hull with a screech that could be felt throughout the ship. ____________________ “Whoa!” Rags shouted as he grabbed for a handhold. The ship rocked around the trio. Steve grimaced as he dropped to a crouch, his feet spread and a hand on the deck plating making a third point to stay upright. Christoph, less graceful, toppled back to the floor, the sound of his breath being forcibly ejected from his lungs as he hit a pile of armor skittering across the floor. “Rags, the hell was that?” Steve snarled, the surprise in his voice not entirely masked. ”Hey!! Get up here! NOW!!” Benjamin’s voice carried through the ship, a sense of urgency apparent. ____________________ By now, Sophia had adorned her helmet and was rocking and moaning. Benjamin was sprawled out across the cockpit and console. One foot was looped into the yoke trying to keep the yawing craft on some sort of straight away. Both of his hands were wrapped around Sophia’s wrists to try and keep her from clawing at herself anymore. “Hey! Get in here!” He bellowed out the open cockpit door, hoping the others could hear him as another unidentified object thudded heavily, skipping across the hull. “NOW!!” ____________________ ”Help Christoph,” Steve nodded at the gasping body of his fellow scout who was curled up on the floor. “I’ll go.” the blue-skinned Chiss pushed himself up, lurching towards the wall to catch himself against a bulkhead as the ship shook again. Dropping to his knees, Rags, took Christoph by the shoulder. “You ought to know better scout. Who trained you anyway? Falling down on the job like that. Very unprofessional.” The corporal tsk tsk’d his squadmate as he checked him over. ____________________ Steve more fell than ran into the cockpit, his gloved hand catching the door of the cockpit to keep him from entirely stumbling in. “What happ…” he began, stopping as the sight before him registered. Without hesitation, the operative dove forward to grab at Sophia’s arms and haul her backwards over the top of the chair. ”Thanks,” Benjamin sighed in relief as he righted himself in the still warm pilot’s seat and grabbed the yoke. “She just sorta started to seize.” He offered by way of explanation as his eyes scanned the disheveled console and his one hand began to flip switches and knobs. The other remained heavily on the yoke, not desiring another episode of off-course veering. Benjamin’s eyes scanned the fields of debris before them. “Hold on.” He warned as he brought the ship into a sharp nosedive to avoid an oncoming hunk of star destroyer. Steve lowered their pilot to the floor, cradling her head so it did not slam into the floor. His eyes did not leave her as he listened to her mutter. “Hey. Lady. Listen to me. You’ll be alright. You just gotta snap out of it.” He lightly tapped the viewscreen of the helmet as if that might do something productive. Meanwhile, Benjamin carefully began to maneuver the freighter closer to the planet, beginning their descent towards the devastated world below. The Red and Black, devastated and scorched well beyond definitive recognition was their target. A rubble strewn field that had been a barracks was the best place to land, the repulsor rockets clearing the area enough to allow the craft to gingerly land.
  13. The whir and hum as the fascist slayer named ship jumped to hyperspace was almost hypnotic. “You can almost feel it in your bones on these smaller ships.” Steve remarked as he gingerly propped himself against the bulkhead and used an edge of his armored finger to scrape at a stubborn bit of carbon scoring on the barrel of his cool carbine. “Its almost like the waves of fate drawing us forward. Nothing can stop it.” Rags slapped the top of his helmet where it sat nestled between his thighs on the floor. “C’mon man,” he cried with a chuckle shaking his head. “What sort of Krong is that Steve?! Going off about fate while you polish your gun.” “Fate, heh.” Christoph rolled his eyes with a smile. “I’ll tell you what fate is buddy.” He jabbed a finger towards the unseen hyperdrive reactor humming away. “Fate is one hiccup in that things power coils, one piece of dust karking things up and BAM! There is your fate splattering us across the next six systems.” He shook his head and chuckled as he looked at the deck, “We make our own fate man.” He looked up and winked, “With a little planning and a lot of luck.” His toothy grin was relaxing as he sat there his legs sprawled outwards from him in the floor. ”Nothing can stop us.” Steve retorted, his face still serious. His red eyes burrowed like spears as he regarded the other two. “So maybe we are fate.” Rags beat a thump thumpity thump thump on his helmet as he laughed. “Nah. I’ll tell you what fate is. This ain’t it. This is Imperial Intelligence. They’re the ones who decide the fate of the universe. We just act as it’s feet, running and gunning.” ”Geez you two!” Christoph’s eyes got big as he looked from one to the other. “Getting a bit deep in here. Like we’re the holy hand of God or something. We’re the good guys. We do good stuff. Make our own fate.” He pulled a canteen from his pack and after uncorking it took a long draw before passing it to Steve who eyeballed it for a long moment before letting his weapon hang limp, taking the canteen and sniffing it, his face twisting in disgust. “Yuck!” The Chiss gagged. “What is this drudge?” Both Christoph and Rags rolled back as they guffawed. “Only the finest! You know that.” Rags chortled. ”Gotta love me some of that homemade Zabrakian mus!” Christoph smiled. ______________________ Benjamin stood in the doorway of the cockpit watching Sophia work. “Good thing you’re a decent pilot. Getting us past the blockade was a tricky bit of flying.” Of course, Gunnery Sergeant Benjamin Wood was a lot of things, but a space-faring pilot was not one of them. Still, he knew talent when he saw it. Cautiously he slid himself into the copilots chair, his white Imperial armor clicking as he moved. “Guess it is a good thing you’re not as slick a thief as you are a pilot. Good thing for us that is.” His angular chiseled face, creased into a bit of a smirk. “I suppose Intel has had their eyes on you for a while. You ever worked with them before?” He asked, but he did not wait for an answer as he settled into his well worn seat. “It is not the cleanest work at times, but it gets the job done when there is too much red tape tying karking things up. Just gotta make sure you keep your head on your shoulders and follow your heart. Otherwise you get swallowed by the machine. You steal stuff from the so-called good guys often? What about the Sithies?” Benjamin offered a wider smile and a wink. “Don’t worry. I ain’t no snitch. We all gotta eat, take care of our families.” Gingerly, the Scout kicked the barely extruding grip of Moriarty’s blaster. “The trick is doing it without blasting anyone that don’t deserve it.” @DoctorOblivious
  14. Suffice to say, the trio of troopers on the ground were not impressed by the act. Even if her hands were in the air. One too many barmaids had pulled a gun on a extra friendly scout to leave them comfortable; and this tome they were sober. ”Thats the idea,” Christoph said from atop his bike. “Seems you already have an idea what we have in mind.” ”Too bad you’ll have to offload all those goodies for what we have in mind.” Rags chimed in, swinging a foot out to kick the nearest crate of ill-gotten gain. ”And send it back where you got it.” Steve growled. ”Undoubtedly, our authorized codes will see to that.” Rags finished. He jerked his head at the nearest droid pulling an authorization coded ID card out. With a shrill whistle that seemed more like a complaining protest at their wasted time, the droid beeped and chortled at his fellows before about facing with his load. As tense as the situation was, the trio remained put watching as the stolen gear and equipment was offloaded. They watched the Captain, daring her to do something dumb. As soon as the work began, Benjamin had rolled over to the far edge. Climbing down he scurried to enter the hangar, walking up beside Steve with his carbine still trained on the woman. “It seems we left some friends back on Nar Shaddaa. Seeing as you are going that way, we’ll tag along. Make sure we get them all out in one piece Captain.” With the butt of his rifle balanced against his belt and plastoid armor he reached forward extending a armored hand in greeting. “Gunnery Sergeant Gunnery Benjamin Wood, Captain. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” Steve did not move, all he did was cant his head regarding the woman with suspicion. The other two idled their bikes forward as soon as the boxes of equipment were off loaded. “Theres room for our rides now.” Christoph observed sarcastically. “Might need them back in that hellscape we left behind.” ”And if we gotta leave ‘em,” Rags chimed in. He clanged his hand against the covered engine beneath him with a clang. “Least they’re government issue.” ”We’ll leave as soon as we’re loaded.” Christoph continued, turning to look at @DoctorOblivious. “You’re already fueled and stocked. Don’t worry. We checked.”
  15. It had been hurried, last-minute, and unplanned; but the four men that comprised Trill Scout Squadron had managed to find a less-than-conventional means off of Nar Shaddaa, to Ylesia. It would be a fun story to tell, eventually. Years from now, sipping beers about a campfire when the war was far from the forefront of their minds. For now, they were all just happy to have found replacement gear and sonic showers. The four men were pertinear inseparable and save for their second, Corporal Ragnar Krans, the whole group found themselves staring out at the bustling base. It was a side-effect of their training, in spite of their eclectic spread of personalities, they relied on each other not just in combat, but in day-tp-day activities. “Way more calm here.” Christoph chortled happily. “What say we go find us a training track and see if there are any local flyboys who fancy themselves fast?” The commander of the team, Benjamin Wood, just rolled his eyes. It was always something with these boys. They liked showing off. They were good and they knew it. If there was a chance to make some backwater kid drool, they’d embrace it. Slide them an app for the Corps too of they thought the kids were good enough. “Just change into something more civilian. Heaven knows we don’t need another Ryloth episode.” Christoph hung his head sheepishly, trading a smirk with Steve. Ryloth had been a bit of a PR nightmare and the team had spent a month in the beig for it. “In our defense,” the stoic Steve interjected, “we had no idea those gates were keeping back that big of a critter.” ”Yeah. Yeah.” Benjamin waved his hand as if dismissing the whole thing. “You know the drill, civies for off site fun.” His voice turned a bit more playful as he adjusted the bucket helmet under his arm, “I assume you can rustle us up something fast and fast?” Both Steve and Christoph smiled, but before they could respond, Corporal Krans hustled up. “Whatever you’re planning, it’ll have to wait a hot minute. Intel says some laser brain has been hacking naval comms. Real smart in the middle of a full scale evacuation. Not. Traced it to a nearby hangar bay.” ”Looks like we have to keep the white on a bit longer,” Benjamin sighed, slightly relieved. Dirt track racing with the locals would be fun, but for a group who operated at such a high octane, it inevitably would cause some manner of chaos. Might as well put that explosive potential to good use. ”Bah,” Cheistoph started before being cut off by the toungest member of their team. The Chiss cut in, his mind already focused on the task ahead. “Arrest, eliminate, or exclude?” ”None of that Steve, be simpler that way.” Rags responded as he reached down towards his waist and counted the explosives there. It was an action that was almost second nature and he did not even look as his fingers drummed along his freshly restocked belt line.” This is another intel op. No paper. Asset recruitment at best. Repossession and containment otherwise.” __________________________ Less than 45 standard minutes later, two Imperial speeder bikes roared into the main entry of the ceilingless flight hangar containing the VXC-100 This Machine Kills Fascists. Christoph and Rags were taking point as they approached and stopped the steady stream of droids and supplies. Far above along the lip of the bay, Benjamin lay, scoped rifle in hand, the weapon trained on the assumed owner of the craft. At least she was the one that looked to be giving orders. His bike was parked down the rather perilous climb outside the hangars. ”Good day Captain Moriarty,” Rags spoke aloud, his voice the standardized mechanized voice of Imperial foot soldiers, indistinguishable one from the other. “By Imperial Order 3243-21-A46, your ship, This Machine Kills Fascists, is remanded to dry dock indefinitely and you are to be detained for questioning.” “Please do not resist.” Christoph added, emphasizing the unneeded seriousness of the phrase as both of the cannons affixed to he and Christoph’s bikes were trained on the woman. It would be a brutally effective way to go. Quick too; just the way they liked it. Rags- “It appears that you’ve been digging into some codes without authorization.“ Rags continued. “Very poor choice lady.” Christoph-“One would say almost lethally poor.” Circling about the the backside of the ship, the Chiss, Steve appeared, slung carbine in hand. “In a warzone such as this, the act of repurposing military and government supplies and equipment for personal, corporate, or outside government use without legitimate prior authorization constitutes piracy. A crime punishable by death under order of the Empress.” The words hung in the air. The silence of the hangar was heavy and thick. If one had a knife they might even be able to cut it. All three scouts stood, weapons trained on Sophia. Overhead, Benjamin’s. Regimented slow breathing kept her in his crosshairs as well. ”Of course,” Rags began, “it may be possible for such criminal acts to be removed from public record.” ”Or at least authorized under the Bothan-Kuat Intelligence Act.” Christoph added with a smirk beneath his helm. “That is,” ”If you were to be registered as a classified intelligence asset.” Rags finished. “We may have a task that a non-affiliated freighter and . . . “ he paused looking Sophia up and down, “decidedly not Imperial captain, might be of use for.” ”If you aren’t scared of getting dirty.” Steve finished grimly as he jerked his head skyward towards the rim of the hangar to where the glint of Benjamin’s rifle caught the midday sun.
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