Thanks Sharra, I really appreciate the comment
Here's the next chapter. After this one, I have only one more that's 'pre-written.' Guess I'll have to get off my lazy butt and start writing again
Hope you like
FinÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes instantly opened out of a dead sleep when the durasteel door to his room opened. Throwing off his blanket and rising to his feet in a single motion, he faced the intruder.
The Ã¢Â€Â˜intruderÃ¢Â€Â™ was a young private, who was so startled by FinÃ¢Â€Â™s reaction that he almost fell back out of the room.
Relieved that it wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t a gang of stormtrooper-hating soldiers come to kill him, Fin sat back down on the bunk he had been given and rubbed his eyes. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat is it?Ã¢Â€Â
Regaining his composure, the trooper stood at attention before the base commander. Ã¢Â€ÂœLieutenant Beran sent me. He said that the transports will be here in about an hour and that you should come up to the command deck.
He had been up far too late the night before studying the campÃ¢Â€Â™s layout. Shaking the sleep from his head, Fin remembered that Lieutenant Beran had been up all night in the observation deck as well. Ã¢Â€ÂœLieutenant Beran; wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t he the watch officer last night?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœHe stayed up longer then I did.Ã¢Â€Â Fin reached over and pulled his shirt from a small table that stood next to his bunk. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhy isnÃ¢Â€Â™t he off duty now?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe most senior officer available must be on duty during prisoner arrivals.Ã¢Â€Â
Pulling on his knee high boots, Fin looked up at the private. Ã¢Â€ÂœBeran isnÃ¢Â€Â™t the senior officer. Where is the head of security?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœUh . . . IÃ¢Â€Â™m not at liberty to say,Ã¢Â€Â stammered the private.
Coming to his feet, Fin lifted his robe from the chair he had draped it over. Throwing it over his broad shoulders, Fin cast a stern glare at the private. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhere is he?Ã¢Â€Â
The private, trying to look anywhere but into the other manÃ¢Â€Â™s gaze, continued to stand at attention. Ã¢Â€ÂœI donÃ¢Â€Â™t know, sir.Ã¢Â€Â
Fin stepped a little closer to the private. Ã¢Â€ÂœDoes anyone know?Ã¢Â€Â As the private tried to decide how to answer, Fin confronted him with another question. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhere is Colonel Caldrone?Ã¢Â€Â
Obviously not expecting that question, the private returned FinÃ¢Â€Â™s gaze with a blank look of confusion. Ã¢Â€ÂœIn his quarters, I guess. We havenÃ¢Â€Â™t seen him since . . .Ã¢Â€Â the private stopped himself, realizing that he shouldnÃ¢Â€Â™t be talking about such matters, Ã¢Â€Âœthat is, since you became the base commander.Ã¢Â€Â
Turning to pick up his belt from a small table at the end of his bunk, Fin considered the situation. The warrior side of his clone programming urged him to find Caldrone and whoever else had mistreated his brothers and take them out in some painful manner. However, his stronger imprinted trait, his obedience to orders, still guided his actions. GuntahÃ¢Â€Â™s parting warning of not trying to stop Caldrone if he tried to escape was still clear in his mind. Very well. If GranÃ¢Â€Â™ell wants to join his commander in a life of hiding and fear, thatÃ¢Â€Â™s his business. Ã¢Â€ÂœAll right, private. Take me to the command deck.Ã¢Â€Â
The bright lights of the guard barracks compartment flicked on, causing those soldiers who had been sleeping on their backs to shield their eyes. Those who had managed to remain asleep soon came to life thanks to the booming voice of the companyÃ¢Â€Â™s top sergeant. Ã¢Â€ÂœRise and shine! LetÃ¢Â€Â™s see some life there, you lazy nerf herders!Ã¢Â€Â The sergeant slowly walked between the two rows of bunks, hands clasped behind his back, eyeing each of his trooperÃ¢Â€Â™s equipment as he passed.
Standing in the entrance of the guard barracks, Captain Panah observed his men with pride. They were good soldiers; none had given him cause for shame. Every one had worked hard to improve their combat skills with the hope that they would be called up to join the war against the Empire. Like him, they had just gotten a bad break being sent to guard the very enemies they wished to fight. Too bad I have to tell them weÃ¢Â€Â™ll have to wait a little longer.
Ã¢Â€ÂœGather round, troops,Ã¢Â€Â the presence of four females in the company kept Panah from calling his Ã¢Â€Â˜menÃ¢Â€Â™ together, as he normally would have. Ã¢Â€ÂœIÃ¢Â€Â™m afraid I got some bad news when we dropped out of hyperspace a few minutes ago. It seems that a situation has come up involving the command staff at the Taris facility. I received a transmission from General Travid, commander of New Republic forces in this quadrant, ordering me to take command of the Taris facility upon arrival. The order also states that all troops currently under my command are to remain at the Taris facility as well.Ã¢Â€Â
Panah could see the look of disappointment spread across the faces of his troops like a shock wave. Ã¢Â€ÂœI know you all had high expectations about joining, or for some of us rejoining the war effort. I know exactly how you feel. However, weÃ¢Â€Â™re all professionals, and our job is to take orders and carry them out to the best of our abilities. Hopefully this will only be a temporary setback. Command may already be organizing a force to permanently take over the Taris camp, and their just using us as a temporary garrison. Whatever the case, I know I can count on all of you to carry out your orders with the speed and commitment IÃ¢Â€Â™ve come to expect from you . . .Ã¢Â€Â seeing that his speech hadnÃ¢Â€Â™t lifted anyoneÃ¢Â€Â™s spirits, the captain cracked a smile. . . Ã¢Â€ÂœWhich isnÃ¢Â€Â™t much.Ã¢Â€Â
A few smiles broke out here and there, but the feeling of being let down was still heavy in the air. Well, weÃ¢Â€Â™ll just have to get over it. Ã¢Â€ÂœThis Imperial tub doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t make very good time, so you all have another couple hours before we break atmo.; estimated time of landing is 0820. Since weÃ¢Â€Â™re going to be offloading ALL our gear, platoons one and two will handle the offloading of prisoners while three and four carry out our gear, so make sure if it's yours it's clearly marked if you ever want to find it again. Platoons one and two, I expect you on the holding decks in full riot gear by 0800. Clear!Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœCLEAR, SIR!Ã¢Â€Â came the loud response from the portside of the barracks.
As Captain Panah turned and started for Zeta companyÃ¢Â€Â™s sleeping quarters to start his speech over again, the troopers heard a loud voice from behind. Ã¢Â€ÂœYou heard the captain!Ã¢Â€Â They looked around to see their sergeant and his typically unhappy glare. Ã¢Â€ÂœIf any of you spice addicts in first or second platoon are late getting to the holding decks, IÃ¢Â€Â™m apt to get Old Republic on somebodyÃ¢Â€Â™s BUTT! So lets move!Ã¢Â€Â
As the turbo liftÃ¢Â€Â™s door slid open, Fin was surprised to see so much activity in the command center. The late night shift he'd seen before consisted of only five or six men and lieutenant Beran. Now the large control room was buzzing with activity. Avoiding the officers and personnel who were scurrying from one station to another, Fin managed to find Lieutenant Beran.
Ã¢Â€ÂœBusy day I see,Ã¢Â€Â said Fin as he gazed out the towerÃ¢Â€Â™s north viewport at the landing pad. The dark surface of the pad stretched as far as his vision could reach; only the durasteel wall that surrounded it could be seen in the distance.
Examining a supply readout, Beran looked over his shoulder at Fin. Ã¢Â€ÂœWeÃ¢Â€Â™re just about ready for the transfer. Living space, supplies, and security have all been taken care of. All thatÃ¢Â€Â™s left to be done on our end is to get additional security in place for offloading and run a final sweep over the pad with the cleaning droids.Ã¢Â€Â BeranÃ¢Â€Â™s blood-shot eyes returned to the readout.
Fin casually watched one of the massive cleaning droids as it raced across the duracrete surface. Ã¢Â€ÂœHow many of your shuttles are missing?Ã¢Â€Â
Half ignoring the other man, Lieutenant Beran pointed out the location he wanted the supply operator to send the extra load of internment parcels. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat are you talking about?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœI gather that Colonel Caldrone and at least one other officer has left the facility. How many ships did they take?Ã¢Â€Â
Stretching his back as he straitened himself, Beran impatiently turned to Fin. Ã¢Â€ÂœIn case you havenÃ¢Â€Â™t noticed, this is a prison facility. There arenÃ¢Â€Â™t any transports stationed here. That would violate our agreement with the Taris officialsÃ¢Â€Â he added sarcastically but truthfully. Ã¢Â€ÂœThe only shuttles available to us are stationed in the Taris orbital facility, and those arenÃ¢Â€Â™t hyperspace capable.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœFine, when did the Taris shuttle take the colonel out of the camp?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœIt didnÃ¢Â€Â™t; we havenÃ¢Â€Â™t had a Taris shuttle since Colonel Caldrone returned from his last visit to Taris just before the inspection last night.Ã¢Â€Â As Beran impatiently explained he moved to the security terminal to check the status of the prisoner transfer security detail.
Ã¢Â€ÂœHas one been requested?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe only way to request a shuttle from Taris is to use a top security clearance on that terminal,Ã¢Â€Â Beran pointed toward an unmanned communications station next to the primary communications terminal. Ã¢Â€ÂœIt canÃ¢Â€Â™t be accessed anywhere else on the station; and no one has used it since Colonel CaldroneÃ¢Â€Â™s last trip.Ã¢Â€Â
Fin narrowed his eyes. He was sure Caldrone and GranÃ¢Â€Â™ell had made their move to escape, and was now confronted by the possibility that they hadnÃ¢Â€Â™t. WhatÃ¢Â€Â™s going on here? Ã¢Â€ÂœKeep up the good work, Lieutenant. IÃ¢Â€Â™ll be back.Ã¢Â€Â
Beran ignored Fin as the base commander made his way to the turbo lift. Ã¢Â€ÂœDouble-check with security station one. They reported the transfer unit was in position, but I donÃ¢Â€Â™t see them at the gate.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœAye sir,Ã¢Â€Â responded the corporal sitting at the station. He adjusted his controls to contact the security center and barracks just outside the landing pad gate. Ã¢Â€ÂœSecurity station one, come in.Ã¢Â€Â A moment passed with no response. Ã¢Â€ÂœSecurity station one, please come in.Ã¢Â€Â Only static came back over the comm.
Lieutenant Beran was suddenly wide awake.
Ã¢Â€ÂœHow long is the delay going to be?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœUnknown; at least an hour. Have your people ready to move but donÃ¢Â€Â™t bother leaving the barracks until ordered; it may be a longer wait then expected. Control out.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœRoger that; security station one out.Ã¢Â€Â
As Mandalore turned his comm unit off, he commenced the power up sequence on Slave I and rotated the cockpit capsule into flying position. Before charging up the shipboard weapons, he typed a command into his datapad, which was linked to Colonel CaldroneÃ¢Â€Â™s personal computer via the receiver Mandalore had attached to it.
This should give them something to think about.
Ã¢Â€ÂœTry the primary communications array; we canÃ¢Â€Â™t have lost contact with everyone.Ã¢Â€Â As soon as Lieutenant Beran completed his order, heavy durasteel blast shields suddenly slammed down over the transparisteel viewers that looked out over the camp and landing pad. Darkness flooded the command deck, defeated only when the red emergency lights came to life. The once busy control center was suddenly still, the eerie silence disturbed only by the sound of the turbo liftÃ¢Â€Â™s blast door motor as it sealed the entrance.
Regaining his composure, one of the technical sergeants raced to the status board, Lieutenant Beran close behind.
Beran tried to keep up with the sergeant as he expertly scanned the four dozen or more power readings, damage reviews, computer diagnostics, and program reports. When the sergeant finally stopped scrolling through the information before him, Beran turned to him. Ã¢Â€ÂœWell; why are we in emergency lockdown?Ã¢Â€Â
Shaking his head slightly, the sergeant searched for an answer. Ã¢Â€ÂœIt doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t make any sense.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœBrilliant, sergeant. That solves everything.Ã¢Â€Â The sarcasm in BeranÃ¢Â€Â™s voice turned to frustration. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat has happened to my command center; was it a power failure of some kind.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœNo sir. A power fluctuation can trigger a security lockdown as a safety measure, but that isnÃ¢Â€Â™t what happened here. The computer logs donÃ¢Â€Â™t show any such fluctuation. I donÃ¢Â€Â™t believe this is an accident, sir.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœSabotage?Ã¢Â€Â The facility had had its share of technical glitches, and the thought that his could be anything but another one had been the last thing on BeranÃ¢Â€Â™s mind.
Ã¢Â€ÂœYes sir; look at this. The command log shows that the security lockdown was ordered. Same with communications; a command was issued to the base computer ordering it to sever all forms of communication throughout the entire command building. I would say that the computer is going off the deep end and ordered itself to do all this, but it just doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t add up. The command is right there! As if someone sat here and punched in the order! The only other way the order would show up in the log like this is if someone remotely accessed the system.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœThatÃ¢Â€Â™s not possible, is it!?Ã¢Â€Â demanded Beran. Ã¢Â€ÂœThe only access terminals to the computer that can control those functions are in this room!Ã¢Â€Â
One of the sergeantÃ¢Â€Â™s assistants, a young Nautolan corporal, stepped forward. Ã¢Â€ÂœAh, sir; IÃ¢Â€Â™m afraid it is possible.Ã¢Â€Â
Turning around, Beran looked into the green skinned manÃ¢Â€Â™s dark eyes. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat do you mean?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœOver a year ago, when Colonel CaldroneÃ¢Â€Â™s office was finished, he had me hook up his personal computer to the central core.Ã¢Â€Â
Beran narrowly avoided exploding. Controlling himself, he narrowed his gaze on the Nautolan. Ã¢Â€ÂœCan we access the connection you made?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœNo sir. I tapped directly into the computer core on sub level three. ThatÃ¢Â€Â™s the way he told me to do it!Ã¢Â€Â
Rubbing his face in frustration, Beran walked away from the others. Taking a deep breath, he looked at the command personnel. Ã¢Â€ÂœI need options, and I need them now.Ã¢Â€Â
Looking down at his console in despair, the sergeant in charge of the security station looked down at his console. Ã¢Â€ÂœSir, somethingÃ¢Â€Â™s happening!Ã¢Â€Â
Beran and most of the others ran to the station. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat is it?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe status lights are indicating that the guard stations are reporting that they are locking down and ready for orbital bombardment.Ã¢Â€Â
Lieutenant Beran stepped back, utterly baffled. Ã¢Â€ÂœSithÃ¢Â€Â™s blood; what is going on here!Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœHe did it!Ã¢Â€Â Rann watched as the security teams who had been patrolling the prisoner barracks areas ran toward the nearest security center.
Looking back into the barracks, he saw over one hundred of his brothers looking back, ready for the order to move. Others were in the back trying to help those troopers who were having trouble waking from the haze they had lived in for over two years.
Ã¢Â€ÂœYou troopers in the back stay here and protect your brothers. Join us only if they all wake and can travel. WeÃ¢Â€Â™ll come back for you if necessary.Ã¢Â€Â
One of the clones stood at attention. Ã¢Â€ÂœYes sir.Ã¢Â€Â
Looking back out the door, Rann watched as the last of the guards ran out of sight. Opening the barracks door, he readied the blaster rifle Mandalore had given him and slowly walked out. On the other side of the centrally placed mess hall, UH 238 stepped out of another barracks, two other clones behind him. Convinced that the last of the guards were gone, Rann gave UH 238 a hand signal and ran back to the barracks entrance.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAlright, first five.Ã¢Â€Â With that command, the first five clones came out of the barracks. Ã¢Â€ÂœDo you remember what to do?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœYes sir,Ã¢Â€Â responded the lead trooper. Ã¢Â€ÂœWe each confront one of our brothers, get his full attention, and we tell them about the return of Jango FettÃ¢Â€Â™s son.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœGood; go to that barracks. Next five!Ã¢Â€Â
After spending several minutes trying to force the turbo lift door to slide open, Fin stepped back to rethink the problem. "IÃ¢Â€Â™ll never open it this way.[/i] Reexamining the keypad at his right, he felt like a complete idiot for not seeing the red emergency open button earlier. Jabbing his finger into it, he heard the turbo liftÃ¢Â€Â™s door open and started to leave, but nearly walked into the blast door that now blocked his way. What the. . .
Sliding his hand across the cold durasteel, Fin examined the barrier. Clenching his fist, he pounded on the door a few times hoping to make enough noise to get someoneÃ¢Â€Â™s attention. Thick; probably no one could have heard that even if they had had their ear to the door.
Sitting down on the liftÃ¢Â€Â™s hard floor, he decided to wait for rescue. As the pain subsided from his hand, he looked up at the illumination panels on the liftÃ¢Â€Â™s ceiling. I wonder. . .
Getting back to his feet, he stood under one of the panels, Fin leapt for it. Barely within his reach, he felt the panel move when his fingertips hit it. After several more attempts, however, he was unable to nock the panel from its position and grab the edge.
Fin squinted at the panel through the glare of its light as he rested his legs. Maybe thisÃ¢Â€Â™ll work. Backing up against the blast door, he ran at the liftÃ¢Â€Â™s back wall. Jumping at the wall, he kicked off of it and stretched for the panel. Fully extended, he punched his fist into the fixture, killing the light and knocking it out of its position, revealing the hidden access panel. Coming down hard on his side, he quickly got back to his feet. After two more tries, he was able to get a secure hold on the edge of the open panel space. Pulling himself through, he looked up into the dark turbo shaft. Turning around, he saw a ladder that ran next to the lift and stretched into the darkness above. Looking back into the turbo lift through the porthole he had just pulled himself through, Fin briefly considered his options.
Why not he thought to himself as he started upward.
As the men in his section finished preparing their makeshift defenses around one of the outer defense bunkers, Sergeant JC 225 looked over his shoulder at Captain Hikara and the trooper who was operating a salvaged communications pack. The captain was frantically pacing back and forth, occasionally glaring at the trooper as he tried to contact one of the Star Destroyers somewhere overhead. Behind them, the fire still raged where the shield generator complex once stood. Nearby, the one AT-AT that had been planet-side peacefully lay on its side like a resting animal. One of the few survivors of the explosion said the mechanical behemoth was lifted off of its feet and carried about twenty meters when the shockwave from the shield generatorÃ¢Â€Â™s energy core went thermal.
Looking up into the blue Endor sky, the glowing cloud that had once been the second Death Star could no longer be seen. According to the reports that the trooper was able to intercept the Death Star was totally vaporized, taking all on board. The only question that mattered now was whether or not the Emperor had escaped before the explosion.
Ã¢Â€ÂœSir, IÃ¢Â€Â™m getting something. ItÃ¢Â€Â™s a Captain Pallaeon of the Chimaera. He says that . . .Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœYes? Spit it out, you fool!Ã¢Â€Â
The trooper, who had been kneeling over the scorched communications pack, suddenly went limp. Falling backward, he let the receiver slip from his hand.
Running past the fallen trooper, Captain Hikara snatched up the communicator. Ã¢Â€ÂœThis is Captain Hikara; repeat please!Ã¢Â€Â
JC 225 and most of the other troopers openly stared at the captain. Of the nearly one thousand clones still alive and preparing for a final battle, they all feared they knew what news could have affected their brother in such a way.
Ã¢Â€ÂœBut you canÃ¢Â€Â™t leave us here; weÃ¢Â€Â™ll be trapped! Wait, why canÃ¢Â€Â™t you just. . . are you there?! Come in; does anyone read me?!Ã¢Â€Â With fear engulfing his wide eyes, Captain Hikara dropped the communicator next to the battered pack as he stood. Ã¢Â€ÂœTheyÃ¢Â€Â™ve left us; left us to die!Ã¢Â€Â
JC 225 stepped forward from his men. Ã¢Â€ÂœSir, what about Lord Vader or the Emperor? Did either of them escape the Death Star?Ã¢Â€Â
Panic began to set into the captain as he tried to think of something to do. Ã¢Â€ÂœMust think of something; must do something.Ã¢Â€Â Unlike the officers of JC 225Ã¢Â€Â™s company, this man seemed to be a sniveling coward. Not even an Army captain, Captain Hikara was however the only officer that escaped the destruction of the main complex.
Suddenly, the captainÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes lit up. Ã¢Â€ÂœSurrender! Yes, thatÃ¢Â€Â™s my only option. With a little convincing, I might even be able to defect to their side. . .Ã¢Â€Â
A gloved hand grabbed Hikara by the shoulder and spun him around. He found himself staring into the polarized black visor of the sergeantÃ¢Â€Â™s scout trooper helmet. Ã¢Â€ÂœDid Lord Vader or the Emperor escape the battle?!Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœNo. . .Ã¢Â€Â he barley was able to squeal; Ã¢Â€Âœthey're dead! They're all dead!Ã¢Â€Â Realizing who he was talking to, Hikara regained his composure and slapped the sergeantÃ¢Â€Â™s hand away. Ã¢Â€ÂœAnd you will be to if you ever touch me like that again! I need another communications trooper who can contact the . . .Ã¢Â€Â
Looking around, Captain Hikara saw his clone troopers dropping their weapons and falling to the ground. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhatÃ¢Â€Â™s wrong with all of you?! I order you to get up!Ã¢Â€Â The only troopers with all their senses were the non-clone volunteer stormtroopers and the sergeant clones. The rest were oblivious to the commands being shouted at them.
Ã¢Â€ÂœBlast; IÃ¢Â€Â™ll do it myself.Ã¢Â€Â But as Captain Hikara reached for the comm packÃ¢Â€Â™s communicator, a black leather boot stepped on its connecting wire. Looking up, he was again confronted by the sniper. Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat do you think youÃ¢Â€Â™re doing?!Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœSir, I canÃ¢Â€Â™t allow you to surrender to the Rebels. We must make a stand and die with honor as Lord Vader would have willed.Ã¢Â€Â
With a hateful sneer, Hikara laughed. Ã¢Â€ÂœAs Vader would have willed; it wouldnÃ¢Â€Â™t surprise me. I have a news flash for you, sergeant. The Emperor is DEAD, and IÃ¢Â€Â™M in command here. You can join him if you wish,Ã¢Â€Â Hikara pulled his blaster from its holster and pointed it just above the sergeantÃ¢Â€Â™s visor, Ã¢Â€ÂœBut IÃ¢Â€Â™m surrendering. Now stand aside!Ã¢Â€Â
Before the standoff could escalate further, one of the volunteer stormtroopers interrupted. Ã¢Â€ÂœLook sir; coming out of the woods!Ã¢Â€Â
Looking into the direction of the shield generatorÃ¢Â€Â™s secret entrance, the sergeant and his captain watched an AT-ST break through the dense undergrowth into the clearing.
Ã¢Â€ÂœExcellent. That walker may prove useful during the surrender negotiations,Ã¢Â€Â said Hikara as he turned back to JC 225. Ã¢Â€ÂœNow stand BACK!Ã¢Â€Â The captain pressed the blasterÃ¢Â€Â™s barrel into the sergeantÃ¢Â€Â™s visor until he stepped back off of the wire. Keeping the sergeant covered, he used his free hand to pick up the communicator.
Sergeant JC 225 prepared to end the argument forcefully when the woods around the bunker seemed to come alive with Rebels and Ewoks. Several Rebels fell in behind the AT-ST as the walker leveled its blasters on its former masters. Surrounding the now depleted force of only about three hundred stormtroopers, the Rebels and their allies were in position to completely annihilate the Imperials.
Ã¢Â€ÂœHold your fire,Ã¢Â€Â shouted Captain Hikara to both his men and the Rebels. Holding his hands over his head, though he still clutched his blaster, Hikara took a step toward the Rebels nearest him. Ã¢Â€ÂœHold your fire; I want to negotiate!Ã¢Â€Â
A Rebel squad leader directly across from Hikara, keeping his assault blaster leveled on the Imperials, tilted his head and said something into his collar mounted comm-link. Ã¢Â€ÂœOrder your men to drop their weapons,Ã¢Â€Â shouted another Rebel as he pointed to the ground with his off hand.
Ã¢Â€ÂœDo as he says! Lay down your weapons and drop to your knees,Ã¢Â€Â ordered Hikara.
In his peripheral vision, Hikara could see two volunteer stormtroopers comply with his order. However, he could also see a clone sniper continue to point his weapon at the massing Rebels while looking behind the captain. Turning around, Hikara saw several other snipers and clone scouts nervously looking back and forth from the enemy to the sergeant standing behind him.
Lowering his hands, Hikara walked toward the sniper. Sergeant JC 225 stood before him, defiantly holding his sniper rifle across his chest. Moving within arms reach of the other man, the captain squared off with the sergeant. Ã¢Â€ÂœIÃ¢Â€Â™m not going to repeat myself to you again, sergeant,Ã¢Â€Â hissed Hikara. Ã¢Â€ÂœLay down your weapon and get on your knees; and tell your men to do the same.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœI canÃ¢Â€Â™t do that, sir. The Emperor is dead. I now have a loyalty you wouldnÃ¢Â€Â™t understand. If this is to be my end, then I prefer to die with honor; here and now.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœAnd that is something I canÃ¢Â€Â™t allow.Ã¢Â€Â As the last word passed the captainÃ¢Â€Â™s lips JC 225 saw the muzzle of HikaraÃ¢Â€Â™s blaster point directly into his visor, followed by the red glow of a blaster bolt.
Opening his eyes, the sergeant found himself laying on his side in the dark. Attempting to reach up to his right temple and feel the scar that ran partially into his hairline, he found himself unable to move his arms. Oh yeah; now I remember.
Sniffing the cold air in the stasis cell, JC 225 noticed a faint vapor in the air. Judging from the lack of odor he decided that he wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t to blame, though he would be if he had to wait for much longer. The more deeply he breathed, the wider awake he became. Must be some kind of counter to that sleeping agent they pumped in here earlier.
His shoulder ached after lying on it for who knows how many hours, so he tried to roll over. This proved difficult, however, due to the forearm braces that held his hands clasped around his elbows. Worse, the cuffs were too tight and had cut off circulation. He couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t even feel his forearms, let alone move them. Wriggling onto his back, the sergeant looked down his body to the front of the compartment. A dim stream of blue light cut into the darkness through a small inspection window. Swinging his head and legs to the left for momentum, he rolled onto his fresh side. ThatÃ¢Â€Â™s better.
Lying still in the darkness he could hear other prisoners bumping the stainless plasteel walls of their cells as they woke up and tried to stretch out. Some of his brothers began to communicate with each other by tapping on the side of their compartment with their feet. JC 225 considered joining the conversation for a moment, but decided against it.
They all know what to do the sergeant thought as his compartment began to shake slightly. They may kill us all, but itÃ¢Â€Â™ll be a good death. Even though we never got the chance to live like Mandalorians, at least we can die a warriorÃ¢Â€Â™s death. The tapping stopped for a moment, and then came alive again with questions of what was happening. Edging himself a little closer to the wall in front of him, the sergeant tapped out a message. Ã¢Â€ÂœPrepare yourselves; weÃ¢Â€Â™re landing.Ã¢Â€Â
As Rann set an explosive charge on one of the guard stationÃ¢Â€Â™s doors, he suddenly heard the loud report of starship engines coming from the other side of the building. Quickly finishing his work, he then ran onto the main path leading up toward the command facility. Initially unable to see anything, his jaw dropped when he saw the hulking slave ship slowly drop through the light overcast. As he watched the massive ship maneuver toward the landing pad, its dark shadow passed over him. Turning around, a nearly deafening roar sounded from overhead. Falling to the ground, hands tightly covering his ears, Rann looked up at a second stasis ship as it flew over the camp. Passing directly over him, Rann could see the vesselÃ¢Â€Â™s huge four toed landing struts twisting down into docking configuration.
When the enormous craft finally passed, Rann got back to his feet and watched the dark gray monster descended on the landing pad. Turning toward the last guard barracks on his list, he shook his head and wondered what Mandalore could possibly have in mind.
Wow; that maniac cut it close thought captain Basell as he watched through a holographic display as one of his shipÃ¢Â€Â™s rear landing struts touched down dangerously close to the security wallÃ¢Â€Â™s main gate. Ã¢Â€ÂœThank you, control,Ã¢Â€Â he said a moment later into his com unit with a noticeably cynical tone. Ã¢Â€ÂœWe are on the deck and are preparing to offload our passengers.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœRoger that, Two One Six,Ã¢Â€Â crackled a response over the intercom. Ã¢Â€ÂœOnce again, you are ordered to ONLY wake up the high security risk prisoners. You should then combine your security forces and escort those prisoners to the main gate, where our people will take control. With the high risk prisoners out of the way, the rest can be offloaded quickly and you can get your ships out of here.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœOnce again control, I understand; Two One Six OUT!Ã¢Â€Â Basell angrily killed the communications link. This is the weirdest thing IÃ¢Â€Â™ve been asked to do yet! First they tell me theyÃ¢Â€Â™re changing the plan and want to land all three of these monsters at the same time, then as IÃ¢Â€Â™m about to touch down they decide to let me in on the fact that there is a possible threat of an Imperial attack on the camp! I'll bet NONE of this is procedural. General Travid is going to get a report from me about this. As one of the helmsmen wiped the sweat from his brow after the close landing, Basell checked the other landing holo cams to make sure the primary loading ramp was clear to lower.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAll systems on standby sir,Ã¢Â€Â reported the chief engineer.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThank you, lieutenant; keep the engines hot and ready to go,Ã¢Â€Â said Basell with a hint of agitation. His own days as the chief engineer of a Rebel frigate patrolling the Outer Rim taught him to save fuel and energy whenever possible. That was well before the battle of Endor, though. Since the Emperor got what was coming to him the New RepublicÃ¢Â€Â™s resources had grown immeasurably. Nevertheless, the young captain tried to implement all the lessons he had learned into his first command, and keeping the massive thrusters on these beasts hot was yet another thing he wasn't liking about this delivery.
IÃ¢Â€Â™m going to give that landing control operator a talking to if I get the chance. Stepping into the forward observation section of the bridge, Captain Basell glance out one of the portside transparisteel view screens at Two One Five which had landed earlier. He then turned to his right and watched the third stasis ship in his command approach the landing pad. Motioning to his communications officer, the ensign knew from experience to route radio traffic from the other ships through the bridge intercom.
Ã¢Â€ÂœControl, this is Two One Seven, we have the designated landing site in view and are making our approach. You sure weÃ¢Â€Â™re going to fit?Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœTrust me, Two One Seven,Ã¢Â€Â said Mandalore as he ran final calculations from the cockpit of Slave I. Slicing into the feed of holo viewers mounted on the landing padÃ¢Â€Â™s security wall, he could guide the incoming starships into position. He pressed the transmit button again. Ã¢Â€ÂœIt will all be over soon. Adjust course three degrees north.Ã¢Â€Â
While he watched the last transport moving into position, he pushed the accelerator controls forward and streaked toward the landing pad.
So it begins...
"You set a code to live by. I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted...I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other men, and I require the same from them."