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Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 1:04 pm
“Guard one is down,” a disembodied voice whispered in Thal Reece’s ear, followed shortly by another voice informing him that the second and third guards were also down. The tall broad shouldered Alderaanian took it all in stride, feeling no satisfaction, merely noting that the operation was proceeding on schedule. From his position in the shadows he watched the squat three story building across the street, his cold blue eyes picking out the single guard strolling nonchalantly along the front, supposedly safe behind the laser-fencing that encircled the office block.
As the guard drew parallel to Thal, never once even looking in his direction, the middle aged soldier brought up a silenced slugthrower and sighed down its long barrel. Ray shielded laser-fencing was good for stopping energy projectiles, but it was no barrier to solid metal slugs. With a soft thud the slugthrower spat a single armor piercing round in the direction of the lone guard, and a moment later Thal watched as he silently crumpled to the ground. “Guard four is down,” he reported emotionlessly.
With a quick glance to see if anyone was about, the black clad figure darted from the shadows of the deserted office block in which he’d been sheltering, and raced across the narrow road towards the shimmering red fencing. Withdrawing a small handheld remote from one of the many pockets that adorned his combat webbing, he pressed the single button on it once as he approached the building and the fence flickered momentarily, and then deactivated. Without pausing he darted across the gap with barely time enough before the fence reactivated with a hum.
“Two is in,” the first disembodied voice reported through the comlink buried in Thal’s ear.
He let out a shallow breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, some of the tension easing from his taught muscles now that the first phase of the op was successfully complete. ‘Don’t get complacent,’ he warned himself, ‘we’re still a long way from the end.’
Scooting up to the downed guard, he took the man by the ankles and quickly dragged him over to the far wall of the building where he left him lying hidden in the shadows. There was no need to check the man for a pulse.
Quietly, and with eyes alert he began to creep along the long wall, moving with a silent grace that was second nature to those of his profession. Subsequently he reached the far corner, but before he stepped around it he gave his comlink a single click, and the identically dressed shadow lying close against the wall lowered her blaster when she saw who it was. Wordlessly she turned, and led him to a set of double doors halfway along that side of the building.
With a gesture from him, she withdrew a datapad and a set of cables from seemingly out of nowhere, and set to work bypassing the office blocks security while Thal stood guard. Above the door a set of floodlights clearly illuminated the pair of operatives, and even though the bypass only took a few seconds, Thal felt terribly exposed. Then, with an audible hiss, the double doors slid aside and the two hurried inside.
“So far so good,” Kiri Valantos whispered, pulling off the black hood she wore, and freeing the two long headtails that marked her as a Twi’Lek. “It’s almost too easy.”
“If an op goes by the numbers and to plan, it always seems too easy,” Thal responded philosophically, staring off down the barely lit corridor stretching before them. A single holocam rotated above their heads, but they had no need to be worried by it as the fifth member of their team had already remotely hacked into the security feed and looped the cameras. “Come on, our objective is on the third floor.”
Lapsing back into silence, the pair started down the corridor towards a stairwell at the end. On their way they passed room after room filled with computer terminals, chairs, and tables; on the surface this building was supposed to be a marginally successful data-processing firm, and the first two floors would convince any visitors of just that fact. Thal and his team knew better though.
At the second story landing they paused, and cautiously Thal glanced around the corner. If his timing of the facilities guards rounds were correct, there would be another guard coming into view right about… now. From the far end of the hallway a shadowy figure came around the corner, slowly resolving into one of the blue clad security personnel assigned here. Without hesitation Thal shot him as soon as he could be sure of his aim. He signaled back to Kiri, and together they continued their climb to the third floor.
At the back of his mind a detached part of his brain lamented the killing of the security personnel, after all they were private contractors, and in all probability knew nothing of what went on behind the closed doors of the third floor. Still, it had been decided early on in the planning of this mission that the team could not afford to simply stun, nor leave alive the security men.
At the entrance to the third floor landing Kiri took the lead, and instead of glancing around the corner as had Thal, she withdrew a small periscope like device and gently nudged it around the corner. Putting her eye to it, a flickering green image showed a large set of re-enforced security doors at the far end, and two man shaped figures standing guard. A moment later the periscope vanished, secreted back into wherever it had come from, and in its place she was holding a single metal disk. Flashing a smile at Thal, she threw the disked down the hallway, where it skidded to a stop in front of the doors.
A crack like thunder reverberated down the corridor, followed by a blue flash, and when Thal and Kiri broke from cover, the sight of two downed droids greeted them. “Imperial,” Kiri noted the marking on the droids, her red lips creasing up into a sneer.
“We expected nothing less,” Thal reminded her, before gesturing at the door.
Reusing the datapad and cable set from the main doors, she set to work on the second set, and it took her a long minute before they too slid aside. Slug throwers in hand, they moved through into a green lit corridor that reminded Thal of nothing so much as a medical ward.
A spotless white floor stretched ahead of them, partitioned on either side by numerous cubicles, dark curtains covering them, and odd groaning sounds occasionally coming from within. He felt rather than saw Kiri shiver as she advanced down the hallway beside him, weapons held low and at the ready. They took a right, then a left, following the map they had been given, passed more cubicles, and a few sealed wards, before finally coming to a halt before a T-junction.
Suddenly Thal’s comlink clicked twice in quick succession, and from off to there right a pair of shadows materialized. “Turbolift access is secure,” a big burly Gotal announced, seemingly quite pleased with himself.
“The rest of the guards are down,” the second figure added, a human female with night black hair cut short, and a perpetual smile.
“Good,” Thal nodded, and pointed to the single door set into the wall ahead of them. “This is what we came for, shall we?”
Kiri once again stepped up to the door, and a laborious two and a half minutes passed before it hissed open, only this time when it did, the betraying sound of a screeching alarm accompanied it. As one the four commandos turned to look at each other, and a single word passed their lips.
Posted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 2:38 pm
OOC: He's back, baby!
Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2004 7:56 am
“This changes nothing,” Thal decided, shouting to be heard over the shrill blaring of the alarm. He turned to the short dark haired women, “What’s their response time?”
“They’ll have a squad here in five minutes,” Areyn Gage responded, her voice level and controlled, not a flicker of emotion to be heard.
Without a word Thal turned and darted through the now open door, and found himself in a glass walled antechamber. A single pressure sealed door lay off to his left, and through the glass he could make out a large laboratory, three rows of benches piled high with research equipment, and numerous freezers lining the walls. Another door lay leading off from the laboratory, with the clearly emblazoned words ‘Test Subjects’ spelled out in Basic on it. This seemingly harmless office block, was actually a front for an Imperial sponsored biological weapons lab.
“Aeryn get suited up,” Thal’s eyes went to a row of contamination suits handing on the wall. “Kiri, the Detonators.”
While Aeryn and Kiri went about their assigned tasks, the large Gotal joined Thal’s side. “Bad intel on the door,” he mused, his words bore a dark edge.
“It happens,” Thal replied, his words not belaying his tension. Not belaying his tension to all but the Gotal, whose two large sensory horns on his prominent forehead were capable of picking up the emotional states of those around him.
“The curse of the Special Operative,” Sav Ramos agreed.
“Timer’s or remote?” Aeryn asked, holding a small bag containing the four thermal detonators that Kiri had just passed her.
Thal thought for a minute, the possibility of the Imperial’s being able to jam their signal being weighed against not knowing how long it would take for the team to get clear of the building. “Both,” he decided, “Two and two. Set the timers for seven minutes.”
Aeryn nodded, slipping on the large bubble like helmet of the contamination suit and stepping into the airlock. It cycled once, seemingly taking an age, and then she stepped into the lab proper and began to go about setting the Thermal Detonators.
“One, this is five,” a new voice spoke into Thal’s ear. “You have company, a troop transport filled with Ghosts is approaching the front entrance of the building.”
“So much for a five minute response time,” Kiri cursed, her green skinned hands tightening around the butt of her slugthrower. Despite this, Thal thought he saw her heave a sigh of relief, it seemed that if their info on the response time of the Imperials was out, then the info on how the door to the lab was alarmed had also been wrong. Evidently Kiri had been blaming herself for triggering it.
“Five,” Thal triggered his comlink, “Give me a running commentary, tell me what they’re doing.”
“Roger, one,” their sniper, and resident hacker answered, his voice almost, but not quite as calm as Thal’s. “Transport has stopped opposite the main doors. Two eight man squads of Stormtroopers are being discharged, plus they have an E-web manned and mounted on the transport. I have the shot on him if needed.”
Good, Thal thought, although he kept his opinions to himself. That E-web could cut the squad down in seconds. Options and scenarios ran through his head like wildfire, and just as quickly he assessed each one and then dismissed it; finally though, by the time Aeryn had returned he had settled on a course of action.
“We’re going out the front way,” he told them, “And we’re going to appropriate that transport.” As one his team nodded, not one of them questioning his choice.
“The two squads are splitting up, one lot are going around back…” Five’s voice was a steady drone. “They’re found one of the guards…”
Thal kept note of what was being reported even as he led his own squad back through the maze of corridors until they reached the main turbolift. “First squad is entering through the main doors… I’ve lost visual on the second team.”
“Grenades, set timers for fifteen seconds,” he barked as the turbolift doors opened, doing a rough calculation in his head. Withdrawing a concussion grenade of his own he set the timer and in concert with the others tossed it into the waiting lift, then deliberately hesitating for a moment he reached in and hit he button that would whisk the lift down to the main floor. “Stand back,” he motioned, imagining the scene that would now be going on below.
In his minds eye he could see the Stormtroopers taking up firing positions outside of the lift, waiting with weapons ready as the lift slowly came to a stop and its doors opened, and then… The entire building rocked under the shockwave of the four concussion grenades, and the lift doors in front of him buckled and twisted, but just about held under the force of the explosion. “Doors,” he ordered, moving forward and with help from Sav pulling them apart enough for them to slip through.
From his combat webbing he withdrew a standard issue rappelling line, ironically of the same type as those used by the Imperial Stormtroopers below. Leaning over the three story drop he spun it once and let it fly until it wrapped itself around a pipe at the top of the lift shaft. “Time to see how many we got,” he remarked as he stepped off the edge and rappelled to the floor far below.
With a thud he landed on top of the remains of the shattered turbolift, barely managing to keep his feet on the mess of slanting twisted metal. The top hatch of the lift was gone, as was a good section surrounding it, and through the gap he tossed a smoke grenade which exploded on impact, slowly covering the area in a gray fog.
Suddenly, red blaster bolts began to pepper the interior of the lift, and if Thal judged right that meant’ at least two of the ‘Ghosts’ lived. He waited until the fire cut off, and then dropped lightly through the hole into the lift, landing deftly and immediately moving through the fog towards where he thought the two Stormtroopers were located. Sure enough, after only a moment two white shapes materialized out of the fog.
The first was on his feet and moving towards Thal, he didn’t even have time to raise his weapon in the broad shouldered Alderaanian’s direction before Thal shot him through one of the black tinted eye sockets of his helmet. The second trooper was crouched behind an overturned receptionist’s desk, but he faired little better receiving a slug to the neck for his trouble and going down in a heap. A quick glance of the area showed the upturned bodies of a further six troopers, whether they were all dead or merely stunned he had gotten them all. “Clear,” he whispered, and a second later heard a muffled thud as Kiri landed on the lift.
Within seconds they were all clustered before the main door, ready to make their escape out into the night, from behind them though they could hear the rapidly approaching second squad of Stormtroopers. “Five, take the shot.”
A second passed, then the unmistakable sound of a high powered blaster rifle sounded, shattering the night outside. “E-web down,” Five reported calmly, but Thal was already moving, leading the squad out of the building and towards the idling troop transport.
He approached from the rear, creeping up to the driver’s door and yanking it swiftly open before putting a slug into the driver, while from the other side Aeryn took out the co-pilot. “Drive,” he told her, pulling the dead drivers body down and slamming the door, before rushing to the back of the speeder where Kiri and Sav had already climbed aboard; Sav manning the now abandoned E-web.
“Let’s go,” he bellowed, and the transport lurched into motion. “And don’t forget to pick up five.”
Turning left into a narrow side street, the transport accelerated away, and from behind them the night sky suddenly erupted in a blinding flash as the four thermal detonators all but vaporized the top floor of the office block. Thal turned to watch the rolling fireball with grim satisfaction, while they were not exactly out of danger yet, and while the mission had not proceeded quite to plan, whatever came he had accomplished what he set out to do. Now all that was left was to get his people safely out of the city.
Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 8:09 am
OOC: Sorry to interrupt your RP, but...TAL! What's up, bud!?
Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 9:32 am
OOC: Hey Nil, long time no RP.
Havn't been around in a few mounths, been busy moving into a new place, with work, and just plain going out and spending far too much money on things i shouln't. Beer mainly.
Still having problems with regular net access, so i'll probably only be on once or twice a week, but if you're on Messenger we should catch up sometime, my MSN is TheAbyssin@hotmail.com
Now, onwards with the story...
IC: One Week Later
Thal gazed out of the Star Cruiser’s viewport, watching the hundreds of pinpricks of light, and knowing that each one represented a star that the Empire held in an iron fist of tyranny. A small knowing smile came to the aging commando’s face, banishing the craggy lines, and making him look at least a decade younger than his forty five years. The thing with iron though, was that in time it was susceptible to rust.
A polite cough from behind demanded his attention, and he casually glanced back over his shoulder to see two men in neatly pressed khaki uniforms waiting on him. Seemingly in no hurry he straightened and turned to face the two Rebel officers, raising an eyebrow in question.
“Captain Reece,” the blond haired man on the left addressed him. “If you’ll accompany us to the main briefing room General Nevitt will see you now.”
Well at last, Thal thought dryly, we’ve only been aboard this bucket of bolts for two days already. Hiding his annoyance behind an impassive face, he nodded for the men to lead the way and fell in neatly behind them.
In the seven days following the raid on the bio-weapons facility he had yet to receive a new assignment, that in itself was not unusual, but the fact was he hadn’t even received orders to return to a rebel outpost for additional training and down time. They were keeping him and his squad in limbo, and that gave him a bad feeling. As the trio of men wandered down the stark faced corridors of the Rebel cruiser, passing an assortment of humans and aliens - each species equal in their roles within the alliance, each with a common hatred of the Empire - his mind drifted back to his last assignment.
After the bio-weapons plant had exploded, sending a rolling fireball a good forty feet up into the air, the city had suddenly come alive with activity. Emergency services rushed to the scene, air and land speeders racing through the night, passing his commandeered troop transport without comment; even if they had thought it strange that he was going the opposite way to the explosion they hadn’t the time to stop and question him. The Imperials however, had been a different story.
With they were about a kilometer away, a small four man patrol had trooped out into the middle of the street and waved them down. At first Thal had hesitated to give the order to open fire, the normally empty streets were half full of people; curious about the loud noise that had woken them from their sleep. But with no way to explain away why they were not wearing Imperial uniforms, not to mention that there were only four of them in a vehicle meant for twice again that number, he had reluctantly nodded to Sav and the Gotal had unleashed a savage burst of fire from the E-Web. A block later they had abandoned the transport and made the rest of the way to their safe house on foot; luckily there were no more Imperial entanglements encountered along the way.
They had had to wait for almost a two full days before the Imperials reopened the spaceport, and for most of that they spent the time laying low, cooped up within the small two bedroom apartment that they had rented for a base of operations. Finally though, and under increased security measure at the spaceport, they had boarded a ship off world and begun the long journey back to the Rebellion.
“Captain,” one of the Rebel officer’s voices dragged him out of his reverie, and he realized with a start that they had arrived at the briefing room. Sloppy, a little voice inside his head disapproved, nodding off like that can get you killed out in the field. Gathering himself; squaring his shoulders and straightening his arms, he marched into the briefing room with military precision, old habits sometimes died hard.
Of a briefing room meant to seat well over a hundred beings, only four men awaited him; however judging from the rank insignia they bore, these were four of the most senior men in the fleet. An Admiral, two Generals, and a Captain.
Despite himself Thal fought a flutter of nervousness, chiding himself for it; he’d been under enemy fire more times that he could count, he’d be damned if a few brass were going to get the better of his nerves. Coming to a stop in front of the large holo-projector around which the Officers were gathered, he snapped a near perfect salute and gruffly barked, “Captain Thal Reece, reporting as ordered.”
“At ease Captain,” the Admiral, a short sullustrian chattered in accented basic. Thal relaxed his stance; barely.
With a nod the two men who had escorted him disappeared, leaving Thal alone, and he suddenly felt as if he were facing a firing squad. “Congratulations on your last mission, Captain,” the Admiral began. “You and your team have acquitted yourselves admirably once again.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Thal replied, “We did our best given the information with which we were provided.”
“Yes,” one of the Generals spoke up, a large thick necked human, “You were quite vocal about that in your debrief.”
Thal grimaced, he hadn’t exactly been tactful when if had come to the debriefing, and had let fly with what he thought of the intelligence gathering capabilities of the officers who had planned the mission. Still, what was said was said; it was no use regretting it now. Gritting his teeth he kept silent.
“Perhaps with good reason,” the second General spoke up; a thin faced Twi’lek with shrewd devious eyes. Thal recognized him as Taris Kar, a high up with Rebel intelligence. “Which brings us to why you are here, Captain Reece. No doubt you’ve been wondering about your next assignment?”
“Sir,” Thal nodded, making a quick assessment of Kar, and finding that he didn’t like what he came up with. He had the manner of a puppet master, someone who saw men and women as little more than pawns; a means to an end.
Kar glanced at the Admiral, and the Sullustrian began, “It seems that your unit is not alone in being on the receiving end of some questionable information, in the past three months there have been no less than seven operations that have gone astray due to ‘questionable’ intel.”
“It’s from the same source I take it?” Thal probed.
“Ultimately, yes.” The Admiral replied. “Although due to the nature of this source and his routing of information it has taken us some time to verify this. Now that we have, something has to be done about it.”
Thal felt a cold shiver run down his spine, what they were saying sounded awfully like an assassination mission; something he was not altogether comfortable with.
“Our source,” Kar picked up, folding his hands neatly behind his back, “is a high level plant within one of the top Imperial Intelligence divisions, and as such has been extremely valuable to us over the years. However it would appear he had been compromised, or worse… turned. This is where you and your team come in, Captain.”
“Your mission is to infiltrate Coruscant, and make contact with the source,” the Admiral said, “and once you do so…”
Thal braced himself for the worst.
“…you are to arrange for his extraction off planet; whether he wants to come willingly, or not”
Thal blinked, that was not what he had been expecting. Surely they couldn’t be serious, surely they couldn’t expect a single commando squad to accomplish something like this? Hard enough to have assassinated such a man, but to extract him from under the nose of the Imperial seat of power…
“We have our reasons for such a mission,” Kar assured him, “And we are fully aware it will not be easy, which is why you and your team were picked. Obviously for security reasons you can’t be told everything, I will tell you as much as I can about why you are going, and how you are to set about your mission. Listen carefully, Captain, and tell your squad only the bare minimum.”
Thal nodded mutely, and listened with growing interest as Kar began to explain the operation in greater detail. When he had finished Thal didn’t know whether the plan was a stroke of genius, or the worst idea in the history of bad ideas. Either way he had his orders now, either way he and his team were going to Coruscant…
Posted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:07 am
Kiri Valantas ambled into the Cruiser’s mess hall exhibiting the easy grace of a born dancer, and receiving a number of appreciative glances from the half a dozen off duty officers and men who shared the mess hall with her, sat around in loose groups of three or four. Casually tossing one of her pale green lekku over her shoulder, she deliberately avoided the suggestive glances that were sent her way and crossed over to a food dispenser to receive her evening meal, before taking a seat by herself off in the corner of the room.
Dressed in loose fitting green fatigues only a shade darker than her skin, she stood out among the Khaki clad crew of the Cruiser; that and the fact she was an attractive female in a roomful of men. She smiled inwardly, while she had no intension of fraternizing with the crew, it was always nice to be appreciated.
For the next three quarters of an hour she picked at her food, an unappetizing brown stew, pushing it from one side of her plate to the other. Not for the first time since arriving aboard the Cruiser Rebellion’s Flame, she found her appetite had deserted her; and she knew the reason why. With a sigh she let her spoon fall to the plate, pushing it an arms length away and then proceeding to stare off into space, alone with her own thoughts.
Since arriving aboard the Flame two days ago they had been given no new orders, simply left to run through numerous training sims, eat, drink, and while away the excess of free time they had gambling with the ships crew. Something was up, something big, she could almost feel the tension among the ship’s senior officers; they were not used to having a squad of Rebel Commandoes aboard. Not used to dinning with trained killers.
Problem was, no one was telling them anything, and even after two days Thal had yet to be summoned to meet with the top brass. Kiri did not cope with inactivity well. She hadn’t joined the Rebellion - almost five years ago to the day, now that she thought about it – to sit on her backside drinking caf and gambling with spacers. She wanted to be out there taking the fight to the Imperials.
“Scuse me?” a rough accented voice cut into her thoughts, and she looked up to find a tall blonde haired man standing over her. He smiled down at her, his dark blue eyes shinning.
Kiri sighed, albeit softly enough for the man not to notice. Why was it males, Human males in particular it seemed, always thought that a women sitting on her own couldn’t possibly be on her own through choice, and that she secretly wanted someone to come up and talk to her. “Yes?” she kept her voice casual, neither inviting nor bordering on rudeness.
“Hi,” he smiled again, slipping uninvited into the chair opposite her. She gave him a disapproving frown, but he seemed not to notice. “So you’re new aboard?”
“Yeah,” she offered, “Temporary stop over. I won’t be here long.”
“Really?” a glint came to his blue eyes, and Kiri suddenly wished she had phrased her answer differently. “Care to make the most of your time here?”
She rolled her eyes, lekku twitching in annoyance. “Thanks…” she began diplomatically, perhaps she could let him down easy without offending him, especially considering that a group of three other men were studying them intently from across the room; no doubt his friends. “But I haven’t got much free time, and besides there probably isn’t all that much to do on a ship this size.”
“Oh I don’t know,” he grinned, running a hand through a mop of roguish blonde hair, “There’s food, and drink if you know who to go to, and…” A hand dipped into the pocket of his Khaki uniform and withdrew a small transparent packet, which he quickly flashed at Kiri before hiding it in his palm.
His smile grew as he saw Kiri’s eyes go wide, and he mistakenly took note of her reaction.
“So how about we…” the words had barely escaped his mouth before Kiri’s palm slammed into the side of his face, pitching him backwards and toppling him from his chair; the see-through packet falling from his hand.
In a heartbeat Kiri was up and moving, her yellow eyes flaring, anger rolling off her in waves; anger… and something else. She rounded the table in one swift move, and even as the man with the blue eyes landed with a groan, she was already dragging him up into a sitting position, her hand balled into a fist ready to strike the next blow.
It never landed though, the strike stopping mere centimeters from his face as an invisible hand caught her arm and held it in a vice like grip. Instinctively Kiri twisted, her free arm coming around to strike out at her unseen opponent… and then she froze as she stared up into a pair of cold, hard dark eyes.
“That’s enough,” Aeryn Gage cautioned, nodding in the direction of the blue eyed man, whose eyes were even now rolling back up into his head. Abruptly Aeryn’s hold slackened, and she took a step back, shooting a warning glance at the blue eyed man’s friends who had been slowly rising to their feet. They glared at the two women, but made no move towards them.
“Come on,” Aeryn took Kiri’s hand and led her off to another secluded corner table, leaving the man slumped on the floor where he had fallen.
Uncomfortably aware of every eye in the mess hall on her, Kiri sat and crossed her hands in front of her; her shaking hands. Aeryn, for her part said nothing, demanding no explanation nor answer, although her dark eyes could not hide their curious gleam. For several minutes they sat in silence, Kiri staring down at the plain white table, while Aeryn watched the blue eyed man’s friends help him to his feet and groggily lead him out of the mess hall.
“I don’t like spice users,” Kiri finally said, not looking up from the table.
“I thought that was what I saw,” Aeryn commented thoughtfully, “Unusual but not unheard of aboard warships.”
“It was low grade stuff,” Kiri continued, unsure why, and unable to stop herself. “Barely more than a passing buzz; he probably picked it up at their last stop off, thinking it was the good stuff.”
The shorter dark haired women raised a quizzical eyebrow but remained silent, letting Kiri talk.
“I have…” She looked up, staring into Aeryn’s eyes, eyes that were normally as cold and dark as space itself, yet now seemed slightly less so. She hadn’t know the women long, had barely been with the team for more than six months, yet perhaps for the first time she found herself able to open up to someone. “I have a passing familiarity with spice,” she finally continued, feeling a great weight lifting from off her chest. At last, she had finally told someone.
“User?” It was a simple question, with no note of accusation on it.
Kiri nodded, shivering despite the climate controlled heating. “I… let’s just say that I was too young and too naive to know what I was getting into. Not that I had any real choice…”
“Talk to me or not,” Aeryn reached out and after only a moments hesitation took Kiri’s hand, “I’ll not judge, and what you’ve told me goes no further if you don’t want it too.”
Kiri swallowed, and looking at herself and Aeryn she fought the urge to burst out laughing. Here were two of the Rebellions most deadly operatives, training to kill, crush, and destroy, sharing one of those tender moments normally reserved for normal people. She suddenly stiffened, as if remembering who she was; what she had become.
“Thank you,” she said formally, rising slowly from the table. “I… now’s not the time to… talk.”
“Fair enough,” Aeryn nodded, her dark eyes once more becoming cold and impassive. “Like I said, talk to me or not.”
Kiri forced a grateful smile, then turned and strode out of the mess hall with as much composure as she could. It had been five years since her last hit, buried deep in the past with another her; but despite that, she couldn’t have stopped her hands from shaking right at that moment if her very life had depended on it.
Posted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 3:35 pm
Coruscant – 4 days later
Thal shifted nervously in his seat, and received a reproachful glance from Aeryn who was sitting next to him. He ignored her, and continued to shift position, sliding around in the large upper class seat that he had been assigned on boarding the passenger shuttle; for some reason he couldn’t seem to get comfortable. A quick glance out of the shuttles window and he found the reason quick enough though, the bright sprawling mass of Coruscant was rushing up to greet them; the seat of the Empire’s power.
“Please dear, do try to sit still.”
Thal frowned, turning away from the window to look in astonishment at the women who had just spoken to him. He had known Aeryn Gage for almost four years off and on, she was a tough no nonsense women, somewhat rough around the edges, direct and to the point; but the way she had just spoken… Her voice had been soft and ladylike, if slightly upper-class and snobby, and her manner was simply… unnerving. It was as if he were sitting next to a completely different person, gone was the hard as nails commando he knew, and in her place was… well, a Lady.
“Sorry, dear,” he forced the words from his throat, trying to sound slightly abashed, and remember that he was now no longer a commando himself anymore; he was an Alderaanian Baron.
She leant’ across and laid a reassuring hand on his leg, and Thal fought the urge to flinch. Instead, he plastered a smile firmly onto his face and then turned back to the passenger shuttle’s viewport, watching the tops of the tallest Coruscant towers sprouting needlelike through the fluffy white clouds that blanketed this section of the planets surface.
This has to be the worst idea in the history of bad ideas, he decided, sending in a five man commando squad as if they were trained intelligence agents. Frell, at the first sign of trouble they were likely to grab the nearest blaster and start shooting! We’re trained killers, not actors!
“Settle down,” Aeryn’s voice floated across the space between them. “We’re nearly there.” He didn’t answer, his mind preoccupied with the nightmare details of the mission set before him, but for anyone looking in his direction all he came across was as a bad flyer, nothing more.
Okay, he pushed the enormity of the deception he was carrying out to one side; first things first, get the insertion done with. He and Aeryn were posing as Alderaanian nobles, one of those lucky few who were not only off planet when the Death Star struck, but had also had the foresight to keep their money off planet as well. He felt a twinge of bitterness as he contemplated his cover, it was a little to close to the truth than he was comfortable with.
But then the best lies have some truth to them.
He sighed distractedly, his aging eyes scanning the durasteel cityscape below, and perhaps unfairly comparing it to his memories of Alderaan. Not surprisingly, the city planet came off worse.
“Ladies and Gentlebeings,” the voice of the shuttle’s Captain broke over the com. “We will be landing at the Cento City landing platform imminently, please strap yourselves in and remain seated until your cabin crew instruct you otherwise.”
Thal breathed a little easier; stage one was nearly over, having already undergone a customs check upon boarding the shuttle once they were down on solid ground – or a floating landing platform – they were home free. He hoped Kiri and Sav were having as much luck…
Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:04 am
Huddled together, crammed into one corner of the aging transport ship like cattle, Kiri Valantos wasn’t sure which was worse, the agonizingly slow journey here, or the shuddering, bone jarring descent through Coruscant’s upper atmosphere? All around her beings of all shapes and sizes clung to each other, some with eyes closed, some open and wide eyed, staring with fear and uncertainly at the dank musty walls of the transport’s cavernous cargo bay. A cargo bay never meant for carrying passengers.
I hate this, Kiri thought, glancing across at a family of Sullustrians, two tiny children clinging to their mothers skirts, squeaking in terror.
“I cannot say that I am all that thrilled about it myself,” the wry voice of her companion announced, “Whoever is flying this bucket of bolts should be shot.”
Kiri started at the sound of Sav Ramos’s voice, unaware that she had spoken her thoughts out loud. “No, I didn’t mean that,” she replied, looking up at the tall Gotal who sat next to her, towering a good head taller than her. “I meant ‘this.’” She waved an arm to encompass the crowded cargo bay.
The Gotal tilted his head to one side quizzically.
“Notice any humans here?” she asked of him, but didn’t wait for a reply before continuing. “One, perhaps two couples, out of an entire hold full of ‘passengers,’ that’s all! This is how the Empire would have us non-humans, packed away like animals, living in filth and squalor, even those of us with enough credits to afford space travel!”
Just then the ship gave another lurch, eliciting several screams of panic as Kiri and the rest of the passengers were scattered across the floor of the cargo hold, tossed around like rag dolls. When finally the ship’s artificial compensators kicked in, and the bewildered, anxious sea of beings managed to untangle themselves from one another, Kiri’s face was as dark the entrance to a black hole. Her anger seethed, her hatred of the Empire brimming over like a pot of caf left to boil too long.
“Remember why we are here,” Sav leant over and gently clasped her arm, his voice whispering in her ear. “Do not let your anger get the better of you, use it, control it, let it give you purpose; that is what the Captain does. That is what… we all do.”
Kiri nodded, understanding. This war would not be won in a day, nor in a single glorious battle, but through the combined actions of thousands, perhaps even millions of people, each doing their own bit for the Rebellion. She felt herself relax slightly, the nervous tension ease out of her shoulders, if only slightly, the constant bucking of the freighter never quite allowing her to relax fully.
She turned to look up at Sav, a brave smile on her lips, but he was staring off across the cargo bay, a distant look on his face; a pained look. Idly she wondered what he was thinking about, what sorrow and pain lay in his past, what tragedy had driven him not only into the Rebellion, but had turned him into the being he was today; turned him into a commando… turned him into a killer.
It was the somber part of reality that Kiri hated dealing with, the realization of what she and her squadmates really were, of the lengths that they would go to… had been pushed to… to defeat the Empire.
Silently she wrapped her arms around her decided to wait out the descent. Soon they would be on the ground, and soon enough she would be able to do ‘her bit’ for the Rebels.