The plasticrete tunnel was long, dark, and obviously unused in sometime. It was also 32 meters under the surface of dry, dead and air-void moon called Vixarii 2. It was also the only way into the Imperial base Dark Cell that could be taken by a Rebel sortie without being seen.
The mission to raid the base had been requested by the newly-minted Admiral and previous Captain Rel Harsol. He had be stationed at the based in his youth and had even attained plans for the small base. It is not very big and is primarily used as listening and relay post. With the very recent destruction of the Deathstar, it became a heavily used depot for troops and supplies.
Plan A was simple enough in form and function. The five man team was to rendezvous for insertion on the moon’s surface, take a two day journey traveling only while dark to the tunnel entry, contact the inside Rebel agent, slip into the base’s hangar and steal the transport carrying the heavy armaments. Plan B was mostly the same except prolific amounts of violence were added to the plan.
As he stood at the base of the ladder at the end of the tunnel leading up to the base, Mal’r “Mal” Brooken was trying to figure out what plan C was. He was down two team members, Axel Riprock and Sasha. They had not made it to the pickup point and, like all good military plans, it was decided to push ahead regardless of the danger. And now, Mal had to improvise and he was wondering how much of plan B was going to happen.
He moved up the ladder, opened the old trap door and entered the base behind a lovely set of crates in a nicely darkened hallway end. Peering around, he saw very little foot traffic from his vantage point, but could hear the obvious and heavy sounds of the hangar which was about 30 odd meters directly down the hall. He leaned back over the access shaft and motioned for Ozmod and Crom to come up. Ozmod (or Oz) was new adjutant for Admiral Harsol and was originally assigned a LRRP member. Crom was part of the crew from Isotech and was brought along as the getaway pilot. He had come in disguise wearing his Dark Scout armor.
“OK, plan F is…”, whispered Mal.
“What about plan B?” interrupted Oz.
“I can’t get plans B, C, D or E to work with us being all standing. So plan F, OK?” Mal spoke as he glared back in the darkness.
With no response coming, he started again, “OK, plan F is make contact our man, move to the hangar quietly and make off with the transport when it is preparing to launch. The hangar doors will be open for their flight and we’ll be handle the crew with just ourselves. Now, Crom, on your commlink find <<contact>>.”
It took a couple of long minutes before Crom gave a thumbs ups “Got him, but he is indisposed with an Advisor and can’t meet with us.”
“Well, we wait then bu…”
Crom pulled off his helmet looking worried, “The Advisor has asked for me, meaning Scout 1184, to come to the command center. That can’t be good, right?”
“Right, Plan G, "started Mal “involves Scout 1184 and me going to the C&C, snatching the Advisor, Oz milling our cover as we all meet at the shuttle. Oz, I do appreciate you approving the extra payment for the Advisor. We’re cards short in our deck, but this what we got.”
Oz and Crom nodded and peppered up their confidence.
Oz pulled up to the crates asking “How will I know when to start shooting?”
Through the static voice of his helmet, Crom responded wryly"I think that will the only obvious part of the plan."
Oz nodded again and tried his best to melt into the hallway.
“Ok, you’re right, right?” Mal spoke to Crom as they started out to the C&C." You walk strong and lead. I’m your informant if any ask. Tell’m I’m Gritz Broadhead."
And then Mal’r tripped and fell to the ground flatly. Loudly. Clumsily. He was so busy jawing to Crom he didn’t see the re-fueling cables leading up the transport. Of course everybody in the hangar turned to see what happened. Mal’r stared at the floor, stared at the cables, stared the shuttle they were connected to and then stared the closest dock worker. And then he stood up, started airing his lungs and was finding words that they had never heard before. The interest in the fallen civee was dramatically reduced. He growled a few more times as they went left the hangar.
“I think you forgot that step in the plan, Mal” a laughing static voice whispered.
They were now standing outside the door and it suddenly struck them. There were lots of blast doors everywhere and they had no keys.
Mal left Crom by the door, walked back the hangar entrance and waved a haberdasher-looking worker over, “Tired so very tired of sloppy work. Come here.”
The worker came over looking very unhappy at being selected. Mal’r grabbed him by the collar while pointing to a repulsor lift just inside the hall “Does that look secured? Fix it.” Mal’r glared his best I-will-murder-you-and-your-crew-and-nobody-will-care-ever look and moved back the door with newly acquired base keys he had just pick-pocketed off of the worker.
Com breathed deep once and then again entering the C&C, “Scout 1184 reporting as requested.” The room was large, bright filled with blinking control panels and way too many Imperial staff. There three comm-operators, two Stormtroopers, two Imperial officers and a tall, thin, smiling,fish-faced Adviser.
“Greeting,” the Adviser spoke in the warmest of tones. “Glad to see some of our more valiant forces. Scout 1184, welcome. Please come and tell us of your operations and, of course, of your comrade.”
Mal’r moved by Crom crossing to the only other entrance to the room. He could feel Scout 1184’s mental pillar shake and quiver. “C’mon on, 1184,” he thought tried to position for the upcoming maelstrom.
“Sir, Scout 1184 reporting as requested,” snapped Crom in a very good and serious tone. “I was deployed with my troop to assault the Rebel held positions of Yavin. We were with the first wave and I was the only survivor.”
“Ah, such a shame to lose the Emperor’s glorious troops to such defiant little gnats. The only survivor you say? Then who is your companion?”
“That is Gritz Broadhead. He is a bounty hunter and informant we’ve utilized in the past,” Crom drilled out in an unexpectedly confident tone.
The Adviser turned smoothly in place and called to Mal’r “Gritz, we are glad to have you with us. What exactly do you do exactly?” There was wonderful callous tone to Adviser’s voice.
Mal’r stepped back from the door he had just locked and joined in the conversation “I perform the duties necessary. I scout, I listen, I snatch and grab and I shoot. I do what is required.”
The Adviser, without such much as a breathe, smiled his thin smile and continued “Very good and very good. Assets like yourself are a joy to employ on behalf of the Empire.” Glancing down at his datapad, he continued “We don’t have enough time to discuss in the detail necessary. I would love to have both of you join me for dinner at fifteen hundred hours. We have so much to discuss, Right, 1148?”
Crom paused for a moment “1184, sir. Dinner?”
“Of course, 1184, dinner and conversation. I am sure you will enjoy both as much as I will.”
Dinner with the dinner was sounding oddly better than the expected gunfight to both Mal’r and Crom. So Plan H, dinner, conversation, snatch, grab and exit was started.
It was just at the exact moment, the comm officer from the far side of the room looked up “Sir, I find no orders for a Scout 1184 to this sector. To be more precise, I find no trooper Scout 1184 in our records at all.”
The conversation kind dried up at the moment as everyone turned towards Crom. The Stormtroopers where first act. They got off a quick series of shots missing Crom, but hitting Mal’r in the ribs. Before they could fire again, Mal’r threw his weight into the tattle-tale comm officer driving his face into the control board while drawing and shooting the two Stormtroopers. Before they had hit the ground, Crom drew his pistol and put it’s muzzle to the Adviser’s temple. <<undercover>> muttered a little curse as he shot the other officer and moved towards the exit to the hanger.
Guns were drawn as the klaxons began to sound. The operator closest to the door, and behind Crom, pulled his pistol and put it the back of Crom’s head “For the Emporer!” Before he could pull the trigger, Mal’r squeezed another blast that caught him square in throat. The operator’s second to last action of his life was to reach to the gaping wound that previously was his throat. His last action was to to fall into and blast the comm board. With sparks erupting from the panel, the base lights and systems began to flicker and scream.
The room flashed and flared with sparks and blaster fire. Crom moved to the doorway using the still smiling, but very surprised Adviser as a shield. <<undercover>> ran out the door into the arms of a waiting Stormtrooper. Before anything could happen, the trooper surged forward as a blast from Oz caught him the back. Oz, realizing his part in the plan was due, began to squeeze of well aimed shots from his crossfire position.
Mal’r slumped to one knee as the pain from his ribs proved to be anything but dog cheap. He kicked the closest chair into the legs of the only standing Imperial who immediately crashed down into the Stormtrooper’s corpse. Mal’r fired off another shot at a figure moving up behind Crom, but he missed badly. He stood up feeling the blood fall from his side and crunched his knee into the Imperial as he attempted to stand. The door way, only six meters away, looked very far way indeed.
<<undercover>> went to the left as he entered the hangar. There were already four dead or dying bodies lying about. Oz was putting out a tremendous amount of fire and forcing the hall to be clear for his comrades. Crom walked forward, his pistol at Adviser’s temple, when he felt something hot and brutal punch into his stomach. As the edge’s of his world turned black and drew in, he glanced down to see that Adviser had shot him. The Adviser had pulled a black-eyed Betty from hiding and shot him the stomach “Shame really. I would have been fascinated listening to your story at dinner and the followup one from your torture.”
Crom slumped to both knees seeing the Adviser place his pistol to his right eye slit. Then it went black as he slumped to the floor. "Ah, death is too easy, " said the Adviser as he pumped two more blasts into Crom’s back. “Now for one that will truly hurt.”
The Adviser then felt afraid and hurt and cold. By focusing solely on Crom, he had let Mal’r and his Bantha Tickler get too close. Mal’r couldn’t raise his arm high so he slid the blade up and between fifth and sixth ribs. He ripped the blade back and punched in again. The Adviser twisted to avoid the second attack; however Mal’r didn’t missed completely and carved away the Adviser’s right shoulder blade.
With the Adviser down, Ma’lr saw his chance. He heaved Crom over his shoulder and lugged his way to the Lamda’s gate. <<oz>> moved up and kept firing to keep new arriving heads down. He took care to blast any door access panels he could. Taking turns of cover, fire and move, <<undercover>> and Oz made it into the ship.
<< undercover guy>> operated on Crom to try stem the worst of the injuries. Oz grabbed a another blaster rifle from the floor and tried to push out as much fire as he could. He felt the lurch of the ship as jostled forward and watched the ramp began to rise. “We might just make it,” he dreamed.
It took only moments for the ship rise forward, sealed and secure. At the end, Mal’r had fired the aft cannons into the hangar to slow any pursuit that have might occurred. <<undercover>> was far too busy still working on Crom in engage in any sense of victory. Oz leaned back happy and alive only to find that he too had been shot in the left ear and shoulder; It wasn’t going to kill him, but it was sure sign of his previously unidentified mortality.
Compared the adventure of the base, the trip to Arda was a non-event. <<undercover>> patched up as best he could the remainder of the team. Crom’s wounds, while painful, were not critical and healed well during the seven day journey to the first meeting point. Mal’r’s wounds proved be much more severe and were going to require better facilities than were on the Lamda. Oz took his stitches as a badge of honor.
When then finally picked up Jovel and Axel at Geonosis, Crom was feeling well enough to pilot the ship. Corporal Axel was very excited that his mission was successful, was all smiles and patently oblivious to the glares from Crom, Mal’r, Oz, and <<undercover>>. He reviewed the mission with each of his team members and wrote out the post-action report during the last three day leg of the journey to Arda 1.
Crom was pretty happy with the shuttle. It handled well and fast for a vehicle of its size. Mal’r was pretty happy with the shuttle also. It was fairly rare on the black market and would fetch a large amount of credits.
On the morning of the third day, they arrived in the atmosphere of Arda 1. From space, it appeared to giant ball of red and brown dust, dirt and rock. From the surface, the description remained the same.
Crom lowered the wings and began to prep for landing “Come in. Come in. This is Grey Team One requesting permission to descend and land. Acknowledge.” Static greeted him as he tuned through channels and frequencies. Jovel slide into the communications chair and began to search and refine access channels.
“Come in, Grey Team One. This Dust Seven. Please acknowledge our slave navigation request.”
Crom looked up and blankly stared at Mal’r. Mal’r took the look and turned with the same to Jovel. She just held up her hands with I-don’t-know expression on her face.
“Come in, Dust Seven. This Grey Team One. We do not acknowledge the slave navigation request.”
_"Brrzkkc zzet Grey Grrzzt pphptpth zzzzzzz dangero sssgsfft brrczzzk grid open."
“Come in, Dust Seven. This Grey Team One. We do not acknowledge the slave navigation request.”
“Bzzzrrckktkt Grid ten, four and seven akskffff proceeed wfi bbbrrrxt caution.”
“Well, they are here,” said Crom point to a virtual, blue-light world map. “Well?”
Axel chimed in “We are here and we should go in now. The static is probably because of our Imperial circuits or sun spots or something.”
Mal’r gently slide himself into the co-pilot’s chair and strapped in “Strap in. We are going in.”
The comms still called out with static and the occasional word, but nothing of use to the crew. Jovel hung over her station trying to tune the channel and identify the source of the static. Crom looked back over his shoulder to check on the rest and began the descent.
The planet came up quickly and filled the entire view of the cockpit as they came in. Mountains and plains of brown colored nothing made this planet a great place to hide a secret rebel base. About a hundred clicks from the grid location, Crom calmly mentioned “Those grid points are in a canyon according to the nav. I am going in slow and careful. Hard to tell from here, but it looks pretty narrow.”
Crom banked into the canyon. It was deep enough that the sun light didn’t touch the floor. Chimneys and pillars of poorly stacked rocks threw shadows in the boulder strewn floor. The canyon swept back and forth as sunk deeper beneath the surface. There was little in the way of vegetation and absolutely no signs of life.
“Well, this will be a interesting ride,” quipped Crom as he barely kept the shuttle wings from dragging the sides of the canyon. “Try’m again. We’re closer now so maybe they’ll hear us.”
Jovel pulled on her headset and listened through interference trying to glean any data she could. Nothing. The squelch of air blocked everything. The ship shuttered and pull hard to the down and right.
Crom pulled the ship back but over compensated leaving a long scar on the left side of the canyon. "There, " he called pointing to large leathery winged monsters flying from their cavern roosts. The Daran’Enok as they are know as best described as angry, perpetually-hungry, short-necked dragons. There were at least four of the seven meter long creatures closing on the ship. “This is gonna be bad if they land on us,” Crom said while trying to evade them in the too narrow cavern.
“Jovel, skip the listening and start the close terrain nav. Crom, punch it! Now!” yelled Mal’r as he grabbed the co-pilot sticks to help Crom. Crom muttered a quick “Hang on” and punched the shuttle’s speed to it’s max. There was a tearing noise as one of the dragons was jerked free of the ship and pulled part of the hull with. It landed amongst the boulders of the floor and never got up. The ship went nearly perpendicular to the ground as Axel flung himself into the gunner’s chair. Before he could fully set, he fired a burst of the forward cannons just in case he was lucky. He was and two of the Daran’Enok vanished the blasters vaporized them. It was another five minutes of very aggressive flying before they lost or shot the last of the Daran’Enok.
“Bzzrts slow sstbsttf sdfds dow-fffzt”
Crom kept the ship centered to the canyon and the floor, but it was anything but steady as the walls jutted back and forth into air. The ship appeared to echo the flight patterns of falling leaves jutting and bouncing in unseen currents.
“ZZZzdft kilomet-bbbffsst and you’ll be on top sszztff of us”
“Canyon ends in two clicks, Crom. We lost those things. Put his thing down and park!!!” cried Jovel as she was flung about in her chair harness.
“Not…………………..that……………fragging……………………….easy……………………to..do…………………………right.now,” groaned Crom as he struggled to retain control and not form a large, smoking crater in the canyon wall.
The ship shuddered as they banked right and Crom started lowering the landing gear “Well, I’m a dancing Mary! There’s the hangar! Putting us down NOW!” All the systems were screaming as tail swung around bringing them sideways. The left landing gear hit first and spit screeching sparks. The ship stopped quicker than expected as Rebel troopers poured out of their recent hiding spots and started blasting away at the shuttle. “It wasn’t that bad of landing,” yelled Crom as he ducked to the floor.
Mal’r leaned back, rubbed his face and started to the back of the Lamda. He lowered the lift and backed out aiming his pistol to the top of the ship. One of the dragons was still up there being blasted by the troopers and he fired a couple of times in support. It was amazing the amount of damage they could absorb before they fell. The monster rolled off the roof and ended its eleven meter fall with a loud, wet thhuummp.
Mai’r passed by a cluster troopers slowly insuring the monster was dead “So BBQ tonight?”
Mal’r caught up with Corporal Axel as he moved towards a small cluster of Rebel officers, “Remember, we get paid first. Real money this time.”
Axel nodded, smiled and continued on. Understanding that nothing he had said and even reach Axel, Mal’r followed along. Jovel, ever-smiling, moved to find the barracks and some food. Crom, knowing his pay day was coming, wandered around the stone-hewn hangar until he was chased away. At that time, Crom started to find the quartermaster as he knew he going to be paid in Alliance credits, again, and this would be the only place to spend them.<<agent>> went to find the comm-station so he could report in the Admiral.
Axel, with Mal’r in tow, meet with those in charge. Long story short is that Corporal Axel is great, they got paid in Alliance dollars (again) and nobody in charge cares too much about irregular troops when aren’t fighting (and even that was a less-than-stellar approval).
After being dismissed, Mal’r decided to find the base doc. He was still injured from the raid on the moon and he knew his broken rib was not set properly.
More to come.
Once the blockade was passed and the injured were stabilized, three more jumps to hyperspace was done (as was standard protocol to throw off pursuit) before Grey Team made it is way to the new meeting point. Mal’r gave Crom a secret passage he had obtained earlier and they made the same points but in two less days. They could have made it faster, but Mal’r stopped the ship out the asteroid ring around the dead world Maltis 2. He took extra care in searching the ship for beacons and other transmitters. It would have probably better off to take an extra two day as they found nothing, but Mal’r had become even more vigilant about such precautions.
Axel drifted in and out conscious and pain in equal measure. The little cleaning droid on the ship was pretty busy trying to keep things shiney.