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Like a pack of wolves, should a nation show weakness, the surrounding animals will descend on it in vicious pleasure. Only through regular yet restrained displays of strength is a nation able to retain its status as leader of the pack.
The fringe world of Lahag Erli in the Expansion Region of the Galaxy was one such predatorial bottom feeder. They had erred in sensing weakness in the neighboring Confederacy, and in a state of ill-informed confidence had engaged in a strike against the naval outpost in the neighboring, Confederate world of Fennesa. The strike had done minimal damage, but insurrection could not be tolerated. And so the Confederacy entered into a war.
Sector Command was unwilling to commit too many assets to suppress a single star system. And so only a single battalion of UNICOM marines was sent to establish a forward operating base, along with a small skirmish line for limited naval support. But what they had not expected was fierce resistance. Lahag Erli’s navy, while stocked with outdated models, was still formidable in atmospheric operations. The skirmish line was defeated, their ships either crashed on the surface or scuttled. And the battalion was left to fend off the army of the Lahag Erli as their numbers thinned ever so slowly, drawing back until they were at the embankments of their hastily-constructed Forward-Operating Base.
Now the mission has become clear: the remaining CAF forces need a heavy amount of support, and the insurgents of Lahag Erli must be suppressed so that they will not possess a threat to the Confederacy ever again. Descend with fire into the valley of mud, fighting through trench networks as ships battle in a fiery inferno bove to win the day. and demonstrate the true power that the Confederacy can bring to bear.
The front lines of war-torn Lahag Erli is a no man’s land of mud, trenches, and burning wrecks of Confederacy ships. The battlefield has been divided into three sectors: Aurek on the left, Besh in the middle, and Cresh on the right. Each sector is host to a central artillery battery that is hammering away at Forward Operating Base Nessus; the capture or destruction of these artillery batteries are paramount to the strategic success of Confederate forces.
Much of the initial marine force is in precarious health, with large numbers of casualties being treated in makeshift hospitals in Forward Operating Base Nessus. The healing and evacuation of these casualties are vital, but you will face the obstacle of Lahag Erli artillery hammering away at your position. Survive this and ensure that the injured marines survive as well.
The subjugation of Lahag Erli means that their fleet must be decisively defeated. Descend into the atmosphere of the insurrectionist planet and battle out against enemy naval forces, and be sure to provide tactical support to the troops embedded below. But do not underestimate the native's naval prowess; for their skills are great, and their navy, supplanted by an old yet still-powerful Star Destroyer relic of a bygone age, has proven itself as a threat to even the modern forces of the Confederacy.
If for some reason you do not find the planet-consuming war to be an obstacle, then Lahag Erli is yours to enjoy.
The High Marshal was sitting tensely in his chair as his detachment of the Capital Sector Fleet descended into the planet's atmosphere, orders and transmissions were barking all around him as he stared out the forward window on the bridge waiting for the enemy ti come to him. He was keen on this being a defensive battle, baiting the enemy into attacking them if he could. When he briefed his commanders, he was more strict on his briefings and encouraged them to study what they could about Larag Erli's military capabilities. Kirk was expecting a lot of sophisticated maneuvering and tactics, that's why be brought an Interdictor compliment to suppress the movement of enemy craft.
"How's our radar and sensors?" Kirk asked as they descended into the atmosphere. "Fully operational, sir." Replied one of the tech specialists. The smog covering the skies were going to prove difficult for the Confederacy, even if radar and sensors were fine there were still a lot of blind spots that could only be in view of the naked eye. This cause for concern could jeopardize their naval capabilities, especially starfighters. The pilots needed all the luck they could get if they were going to fly with this amount of disturbances.
Ground support was ready at Centurion cruisers, medical supplies, weapons, armor, whatever the ground forces needed, Kirk had ready for them. Bombers were also reserved for ground support but they could be taken out of action to fight in the sky if they needed to.
There wasn't much Kirk could do now, he made his preparations and now all he could do was wait. Wait for the rest of the navy to show up and for the enemy to appear before him.
Lahag Erli was not at all going as originally intended.
The Confederacy had underappreciated the value of their Knight's Obsidian. With the near-destruction of their order there was a noticeable difference on the battlefields they would have contributed on. Ones like Lahag were becoming increasingly prolonged fronts with little end in sight. These stalemates must end and end they would, with one vicious push.
In the shuttle were a total of ten people. Two members of the Exarch's personal guard, his faithful daughter Acantha Malvern
, and several members of the Knight's Obsidian. They were what remained of the reinforcements for this area. All of the members of the group had a holocomm of some sort, where the Mission Coordinator had been informing them of the battlefiend conditions.
"...At this rate we'll lose Sector Besh within the hour and be forced to pull back. If that occurs, I'm not sure we'll take the planet by the end of the month, Exarch." The man responded by exhaling softly, his arms crossed over his chest as he looked to the mini-holo at the front of the shuttle. "Bring us down at the Sector Besh, I'll take command from there. We're going to spear-head an attack into the enemy trenches and wipe them out." He dictated. The mission operator turned from the screen for a moment before giving the Exarch a thumbs up. "I've updated the defense teams, sir. Mission is a go, you have the green light."
The Exarch turned back to those in his company. "We do not stop. We do not give quarter. There is one speed, mine. Keep up or stay down in the mud." He felt the ship shift as they grew closer to their destination. The ship shook violently, causing Adron's hand to come out and brace his balance.
The dropship came down over the Confederacy's trench. As the landing ramp came down a snap-hiss erupted as the Exarch's amethyst blade came to life.
Adron leaped out of the shuttle, landing on the cliff above the trench. Blaster fire and mortars screamed around the man. His lightsaber worked to keep what it could from his own body. Only moments later he yelled out to those beside him. "Deploy! We have to make a screen for our soldiers!" He yelled out.
“Sir,” came a timid and concerned voice, breaking the relative silence in the shuttle as it descended toward Lahag Erli’s surface below. “Is this really the wisest decision? Putting yourself into the direct line of fire? But what if something were to happen?”
“It’s just as likely something might happen if I stood upon the bridge of a flagship in orbit. Only, it’s those here on the surface that are in a more dire need of assistance than those beyond the atmosphere.” The words came from the Deputy Minister as he confronted and answered the young Lieutenant’s concern with his own words.
“But Sir,” the Lieutenant continued, “with your position in the Presidium?”
“The Confederacy will continue forward as she always has,” Alden replied once again. “With or without me in my current position.” Alden stood and stepped toward the cockpit, smoke and flaming catching the horizon in a grim display as the shuttle continued to descend. “What’s the ETA, Captain?”
“Five mikes, sir-” The man’s voice cut off sharply as the shuttle was struck with some kind of ordinance. Alarms, whistles and lights sounded as the vessel shook mightily. “Engine two down. We’re losing altitude quick. I suggest you buckle in, Sir. Likely to be a rough landing ahead of us.”
“Noted,” Alden responded, stepping back from the cockpit and returning once more to his seat and strapping in.
“Brace for impact!” The voice shot out of the cockpit and moments later the force of the landing rattled the shuttle as it slid through the muddy terrain. Alarms and whistles still sounded. Panels here and there sparked as the overhead lighting flickered in and out.
A moment or two would pass before Alden moved to release himself from the restraints of his seat. “Everyone all right?” There was a feeling of concern in Alden’s voice as he spoke, but his question was not immediately answered. Instead a few moments would pass before the first words would reach him from the Lieutenant, followed by those of the pilot and the Captain in the cockpit.
As he looked around to take note of the damages, Alden could see a hole had been ripped into the shuttle’s fuselage and only a fraction of the medical supplies they had on board remained. Those that did were scattered about the floor which brought a frown to the man’s face. “This wasn’t what we were hoping for, but it’s what we have to work with gentlemen.”
What was it with Alden and finding himself in such predicaments. Seemingly too often now the man was finding himself crashed here or there. And it was that fact that made Alden miss the cockpit himself. He couldn’t help but wonder if the result would have been any different if he’d been in the cockpit. But he couldn’t allow himself, nor his mind, to linger on the notorious “what if” and he wouldn’t.
“Captain, what’s our position?” Alden asked at last.
“We’re about two kilometers outside of base if I had to estimate, Sir,” the Captain responded after taking a moment to look at his sensors that were distorted and unreadable at this point.
Funny how they were the ones inbound to deliver much needed medical support and it was now them that may have been in need of rescue. This predicament would not stop Alden though as he looked to the final member of the group, the Shadowfeed agent, Tess Valnora
There was no other way to cut it, either. This place, this entire karking planet, was a miserable mudpile Luna had not seen in years. And worse yet, they wouldn’t need to be here had other people had just done their job. But now, now they were being called on to clean up another mess. It wasn’t unusual in that right, but that fact alongside the mud coating her armor only served to sour the Grand Marshal’s mood.
Thankfully however, they were not here to sit in a trench and duke it out with a bunch of mudslingers, hoping they didn’t get blown to blown to bits by incoming artillery. No, Dauntless didn’t fight that way, and this day would be no different.
Omega, Alpha, Tau, and Venom squads had all been deployed to the planet in the early morning to get accustomed to the surface they would be assaulting. Most of the squads had spent the day behind the front lines, where the artillery would not reach. Jetpacks had been cleaned once, twice, thrice over for the attack that would be launching as the night covered the battlefield. Now they gathered near the front, the explosions of the night illuminating the distance they would need to cover.
“Listen up!” her voice called over the comms, into the ears of all the dauntless spread out over the front line. She herself leaned against one of the front trenches, peaking over the top every so often as she began to lay out the the plan a final time. “We are here to break the stalemate. We are not here to fight in this trench war that will claim too many lives. We are the breakers of the line.” A pause, bracing as another explosion showered the trench with another hail of mud. Her glove cleaned the edges of her visor before continuing, eyes now glancing toward their objective. “our job is to push over this no man’s land, get through their side of the trench and establish control of this sector’s artillery platform. We do that, then we push directly from there to Besh sector, hopefully meeting up with UNICOM right in the middle.”
Luna had little confidence the UNICOM’s ability to make it there on time and be a large help to this operation. But the dauntless couldn’t do this all in one night on their own, and they needed to break this stalemate before the enemy realized what was going on. Hopefully that new UNICOM Grand Mashal could keep up his end of the bargain, and this would all be over before sunrise.
Her hand reached down, starting to cue up the boosters on her jetpack as her voice called out one final time. “The army is going to cover our approach with green flares that should blind the enemy long enough for us to touch down. Get over no man’s land quickly, get into their trenches, link up with your squads. Squad leads, I expect an update when we land.” It would be go time very soon, especially as Luna looked over to the officer of the particular trench, giving him a nod to start the plan.
It was enough time to give her carbine a final look over before the sky exploded into a brilliant green light, symbolically giving the Dauntless to end this night before it stole any more lives. It’s what they did best, after all. Luna paused for just a moment, allowing her squad to get a headstart before bursting off herself, leaving a hole in the mud where she had stood only moments before.
Why was it that every other day some self-important regime saw it fit to challenge the Confederacy's supremacy? Whether it was unkempt terrorists, over-exaggerating imperialists, or an insidious neighboring system, it always seemed that someone was making trouble for the Confederacy. And with the Galactic Alliance growing more of a looming threat each day, Kiff really didn't need some fringe world attacking him from his flank. He'd hoped that he'd be able to deal with Lahag Erli with a fairly limited fleet, not wanting to divert a large portion of his fleet to what had been at the time a minor annoyance.
One less skirmish fleet later, and it was evident that Lahag Erli was anything but a minor annoyance. Kiff didn't consider himself to be authoritarian or even unusually cruel, but there were times every now and then that he had to put his foot down, and take out the big guns. Lahag Erli had evidently forgotten its place in the galaxy. The last time beings in that mindset had been allowed to run rampant. . . Talay had happened. Kiff would not allow a repeat of Talay, not under his watch.
The fleet that he had brought with him was no small skirmish line. First and foremost was the Storm King, Kiff's personal flagship and command of the entire Bassadro Sector Armada. With him was the entirety of the 503rd Fleet, led by the weathered, experienced, and very capable hands of the recently-promoted Fleet Marshal Verin Oldo. In reality, the Storm King was only there to project power; the 503rd would be doing the real work. It was a perfect crime, really. Kiff could sit back and relax while maintaining his responsibility and being there just in case things went south.
The fleet exited hyperspace, reverting back into the orbit of the planet. "Fleet Marshal, on your lead," Kiff said, giving the order before turning off the comms and turning to his first mate, Ibri Bragga. "You know, if we got any vintage on board. . ." he let his voice trail off. Bragga, though understood the message and gave him a sly smile before walking off. This was going to be fun.
Muck and mire clung to the whote of Gerwald’s armor. The newly appointed Lord Commander had taken the field of battle once again, this time to make those who had seen fit to rain down destruction upon Confederate assets pay for the lives they had taken. To Gerwald this was a rather simple transaction. They had killed members of the Confederacy, and so they would pay with their lives. This was justice in its purest form.
It was a simple and straightforward operation. The sections had been divided into three, and while Exarch Malvern had taken a team down the second sector, Gerwald would lead a team down the first.
Eyes looked over the newest to join this cause, a team that lacked experience. The Knights had been reduced to a shell of what they had once been, but they had within them the potential to be a great force once again. Gerwald would do his best to ensure the success of the Knights Obsidian under his watch and care. He did not think himself immune to the mistakes of those before him, but the wolf had hoped that he could at least learn from them.
Gripping his weapon, Gerwald smiled as he turned to the group.
“We are showing them no mercy. There will be no quarter given. Kill them all.”
Dreidi was heading to an actual warzone, a battle, she was hella nervous about it all. Though, it was only fair, it was her first time heading into a real fight and all she had on her was her practice saber and a few tricks with the Force that she hadn't entirely mastered. She guessed that was why she had been teamed up with the Malverns, they likely had a lot more experience that they could share with her and knew what Dreidi should be doing. Instead of the poor girl trying to figure it out. Looking around the shuttle, there were a lot taller, experienced Force Users and fighters in general and then this small girl trying to pull a brave face during this whole ordeal. The ship rocked around as they moved closer to the frontlines, Dreidi's breathing grew rapid as she clenched her fists in nerves. Cracking knuckles as she looked around and listened to the instructions that Adron gave as she heard that they were close.
Eyes scanning over the map, Dreidi couldn't really understand much of what was going on though it did seem curious that things in this Sector Besh was not going well for the CIS. She figured that the CIS was a well oiled machine when it came to combat by now, since it was a very dominate faction in the current climate of things, but perhaps this was just how things went. That sometimes it didn't matter who you were, there was always someone who would be able to push back, it was something for Dreidi to consider in the grand scheme of things especially if she was going to get more involved in the invasions and war aspects of being part of the CIS. Looking up as Adron gave his speech, it wasn't the kind of uplifting and building moral speech that she thought it would be. It was short, direct and ensured that everyone knew that they were expendable if they could not keep up.
Tapping away at her knees, she felt the ship rumble more and the blasts happening outside the shuttle. Was everyone trying to hide their fear like she was? A single shot could take the shuttle down and kill them all, a prospect that Dreidi felt she rather avoid if possible. As the door opened and shots rained upon them, Dreidi looked very startled and held her practise saber aloft, her training wasn't kicking in as it should. She was feeling panicked and unsure what to do in the situation, Adron rushed ahead to the trench but Dreidi was just stood there looking like a deer in headlights. A blast next to her threw Dreidi to the ground and covered her in mud and left her ears ringing. This was so much more intense than just a simple training simulation, her body knew that and pushed her forward towards the trench where the Exarch was with the other Knights. Panting hard, Dreidi leaned against the trench and wiped the tears away. No time to cry, or be scared, just had to survive. Survive Dreidi!
Acantha danced impatiently from one foot to the other. She had been trapped in this metal cage for far too long. All the while the scent of what she truly wanted pressed eagerly through the cracks, leaking slowly until it filled the entire shuttle. Every breath she took was pure torture.
War and death. Chaos and destruction. All but an inch away from her through a layer of extremely pliable metal. If it had not been for Father demanding that she wait, she would already be on the other side. It would take only a moment to find a weak point for her claws to pry at. Only a second to get to the battlefield. Only a minute to taste blood. The temptation was almost too great to resist…
Her Father’s voice cut clean through her reverie.
Snapping her head in his direction, she put all her focus on him. The words "stop" and "quarter" were meaningless to her. She was here for one reason and one reason only. Keeping up with Father would be no problem at all. Their little games, when they were home long enough to play, had made her stronger, faster, wiser. Whilst not exactly perfect, she was growing close. The rhythm her feet tapped out on the metal floor increased in speed the more anxious she grew for the door to open. When the ship rattled violently, signalling their arrival, Acantha could barely contain herself. At the sound of the landing ramp, the staccato beat of her feet went wild.
She was right on her Father’s heels, her feet leaving the ramp a mere second after his. Where he aimed to land, she aimed to soar. With a helpful boost of the force, Acantha was sent further up into the air, narrowly avoiding the blaster bolts as they rained down on the encroaching company. At the pinnacle of her jump, when the body began to feel gravity calling them back to earth, Acantha unleashed her true form. A wingspan twice the size of her human form sprouted from her back, covered in sleek oil black feathers that decorated her body head to toe. Sharp, deadly talons protruded from bird-like feet, glistening wildly in the spray of explosions and heavy fire.
Acantha allowed herself a moment of freedom. A single moment to enjoy the breeze across her feathers as she sored up through the skyline aiming to break through cloud. It was not long before the blaster fire called her back, and she could do nothing except dutifully obey.
The wings folded in on themselves as she made a dive for the attackers. A single man, just an inch further forward than his fellow soldiers, caught her eye. Her sharp talons extended into the air, reaching for his shoulders as she swept by in an impossible blur. As the claws made purchase through the soft spots in his armour, he let out a harrowing scream. It was like music to Acantha’s ears. The wings once again carried her upward, working a little harder with the extra weight dangling from her arms. She decided, for every second he screamed, she would carry them a second higher into the air.
In the end, the battlefield grew so tiny she was concerned Father would be mad at her. So, she allowed her claws to shy away from the soldier one by one. If her aim was right, he would land directly on top of the enemy line. As he began to fall, Acantha began to make her decent. This was always the fun part; it was extremely fortunate that she could make it doubly so today.
“Race you!” Acantha cried out happily to the falling man as she tucked her wings in to dive. She was not sure if he could hear her over the rush of air and his incessant screaming, but no matter. It made no difference.
"Alpha," Master Sergeant Reinhart's voice was certain to be heard by every ear with the din of war nothing but a soothing melody in the background. "You know why we are here. The enemies to free and prosperous worlds sought to test the Confederacy, and to show we lack the stomach to defend our way of life. They bring out noise makers and ground pounders thinking they can shatter our will. And while the Confederacy waste its time sending its entire fleet to deal with these pests, which we can handle as easily as wiping our asses, you can be damned sure every eye in the galaxy is watching. They're all wondering if they can poke the Confederacy just a little bit. Take over an abandoned station. Harvest a few mineral rich asteroids. Maybe we won't notice. So, I say again -- you know why we're here, don't you?"
A brief opportunity was granted for a call out.
"We are going to kick their karking asses from here back to the rock they called out from, and then we're going to turn that rock into slag. So grab your gear, and take your positions," she shouted. It wouldn't be long before Luna started her brief and laying out the plan of action before the push. They were ready. Hell, they'd been ready long before they even set foot on this planet. When you were First In, you were always prepared because every second could be the last.
A night raid with jetpacks across a battlefield to take out artillery. Exciting plan. They'd make short work of these mudrats too. Some people got a little too full of their selves and thought they could mess with a major military power; they were too 'inconsequential' of note to bother with a proper response. Maybe the Confederacy didn't bring out the massive capital ships, but they had brought the big guns. Time to put these terrorists in their place.
"Understood," was the only response Alpha Actual gave the Grand Marshall. It'd been the only one needed. No time for chit-chat.
With that all said and done, Tiria threw her left hand out toward the battlefield, "Alpha, move out." Time to burn and churn.
Voph was no stranger to the trenches. It felt as though he was born in them. To be surrounded by scared men and exploding artillery was to be alive. Voph hadn't felt like this since the Zakuul War. Of course, after facing odds like that, a small skirmish like this one didn't seem all that daunting. His return to the Confederacy had been uneventful. Unannounced. So some looked on him with surprise as he strode past them in the trenches. Flanked by four of his Nephilim Soldiers, Voph moved with haste and confidence to the foremost trench. The Confederacy was mustering for the final push. If this failed, they'd be at this war for months. A war they couldn't afford right now. Voph's lightsaber clicked loose of its electromagnetic holster on his back, and sprang to life as he stepped up alongside Gerwald. "Understood, My Lord."
A wave of energy seeped out from Voph's person as he stepped forward, and used the Force to propel himself up over the wall of the trench. The effects of Force Inspire began to have immediate effect, rallying the soldiers to begin their push. Voph's blade was already spinning, deflecting bolts and projectiles, and offering a small window of protection for the soldiers behind him. The Knights may have fallen. But one among their number still stood.
Within the trenches behind him, Horace sat upon his perch. Voph had ordered him to wait there until he was called upon. They would need to wait for the proper moment. But if used correctly, it could cause a rather large opening in the enemy line. The Nephilim were not far behind Voph, scaling the wall and opening fire on any heads they could spot across the muddy wastes. The time to charge was nigh. For death and glory. For the Confederacy.
Deployment: UNICOM grand marshal, mobile command center.
Stalemates were failures.
Perhaps a controversial topic of conversation for most humanoids to take on. The thought that the constant battling over a singular piece of land couple be considered a failure was more than likely not something that a being with a conscience would think. Lives were constantly lost, yes, but you weren’t losing any part of the land, and your enemy wasn’t gaining any either. But the thought of spending days staying in one place, not moving, practically disgusted him.
Stalemates represented the very failure of some military leaders to either push back the enemy or to break through them. If you could not push forward, and your enemy could not push you back, then the loss of life would be nothing more than a waste of time and manpower, severely hindering your ability to complete the objective laid out before you. He would not be following alongside these failures.
The Dauntless that had already deployed were going to be making their push soon. Their leader was smart, if brash, but their plan should work if the analytical analysis on their previous missions was to be believed. That was an inherent problem with sentient armies, the level of unpredictability made projecting the outcomes of a battle…inconsistent. What was not inconsistent was droids…or himself.
During the day leading up to the CIS’s push, a single regiment had been deployed far behind the front lines of no man’s land, far beyond the enemies reaches with their pathetic excuses for artillery equipment. How the local army had not pushed them out already, he would never figure out. Three battalions were readied, while two stayed in reserve should he choose to use them. Two were mainly composed the normal mixture of B1s and B2s, while the third had a larger number of more…interesting variants. Should the enemy prove to be any more detrimental to progress than what otherwise would be expected, the third would have surprises in store that could not be beaten.
“Sir.” The tactical droid to his right spoke, audible just over the sounds of explosions outside the mobile command center. “We are prepared for the attack. It seems as though the assault on sector Cresh has already begun.” They started early. It didn’t surprise him. Honestly, reading through the grand marshall profile showed just how..eager she would be to complete the objective here. He might’ve been more disappointed to find that they didn’t..jump the gun, so to speak.
Still, that was no reason to hold off on their own assault, and he turned to give the droid a small nod, slightly pulling down his hood as he did so. “Then we should begin as well. Start the assault, and have the repulser tanks commander report to me immediately when they begin their assault into..what the sentients call ‘no man’s land.’” A pause, long enough for him to look out onto the muddy fields in front of the command center. Perhaps it would slow down the B1s and B2s. He might need to reconsider should the assault go poorly. “And inform BX-72967-RAZOR
‘s squad that they may begin their attack, and remind them the B1s are out there to…absorb fire. Keep their squad together for maximum effectiveness by the time they reach the artillery.”
He hadn’t considered that this was his first time out on a battlefield…at least in his current form. There was a small comfort in seeing just how closely reality fit with the simulations he had be placed through, and how pieces of the puzzle were already starting to come together. Today would prove a test to just how closely together he could put the puzzle.
Oleander was no stranger to death. He was also no stranger to grime though a lifetime trade of assassination had yielded far more luxurious venues of murder. While his nose scrunched and his brow furrowed with each particularly wet squelch under his boots, he was first and foremost a professional. He was no soldier, however. And while the less than glamourous surroundings were more a cosmetic nuisance than anything, the frontlines were very much unfamiliar territory. A creature of shadows, taking to battle in the sun.
He was almost nervous - a feeling he hadn't felt in decades (centuries, if one counted the lost time).
"It's a shame, really," he said, lightsaber twirling in his fingers before activating. "So much soup, gone to waste."
He was far less flashy as one of his counterparts, one he'd had the pleasure of meeting before, one who'd caught on to his true nature and had left a warning that Oleander had very nearly (and was quite frankly still considering) taken as a challenge. Yet that wasn't why he'd taken up arms, nor was it his intention to shift directives this day. For the moment, at least, he'd be someone else's nightmare. An omen on the battlefield, a boogeyman for the later stories, a pale rider on the ride of war.
"Commander Dubose. Commander of the 525th Attack Line. The best attack line in the Confederac- No, the greatest combat line in the galaxy." Domino chuckled to himself aboard The Iron Claw. He'd been enjoying his new rank and the Command that came with it. Three years at the rank of Lieutenant was certainly something to prep him for this moment, but it was still something else entirely to see it played out in real life. As they sped through Hyperspace, one of the deck droids turned to Domino. "Uhm Sir, sorry to interrupt but we just got our deployment orders." Domino turned to the B1 unit, looking at him expectantly. "We first up?" He asked. Another droid approached, looking down at his counterparts datapad before his vocal receptors let out one simple, "Uh-oh."
Domino arched a brow before exhaling in frustration. "Don't tell me..."
"It looks like Commander Finn Roberts
is on the Primary Line. We're to follow in the Secondary attack line." Domino cursed audibly before leaning against his command throne. Since joining 503rd, Domino had noticed a habit of always being paired up with one of the other Commanders, Finn Roberts. Although the two have had little exposure to each other, already a small rivalry was beginning to form..
"Preparing to exit Hyperspace." Another droid reported, which brought Domino from his own mind. "Alright, deploy the attack line and go through our checks ASAP, mark in the log our arrival time and lets get ready for showtime."
The entirety of the 525th Attack Line exploded out of Hyperspace behind the High Marshal's Super Star Destroyer. As they were given a perfect view of the rear of the Storm King, a number of the droid units began reporting that their own line had deployed without any incident. "Ok, lets report in to the Fleet Marshal."
Domino tapped a button on his command throne, patching him into Fleet Marshal, Verin Oldo
. "Marshal, this is Commander Dubose. The 5-2-5 is standing by."
The moment they deployed two of the Knight's Obsidian had their guard breached by blaster fire. One of them was blasted in the shoulder and thrown back into the trench with an audible scream. The other? A blaster shot to the throat immediately silenced him forever. The two armored knights standing to either side of the their King opened their palms without hesitation. Their palms erected blaster shields that allowed the group to remain under solid cover. The Exarch raised his lightsaber, looking back to the droids and soldiers in the trenches behind him.
"We lead the way, you follow!" He commanded loudly. The droids acknowledged the command with a roger, while the soldiers roared, climbing out of the trenches as fast as they could manage. The Exarch's eyes turned to the pit of the trench where the youngest of the Knight's Obsidian he had brought laid in the mud and grime. The Exarch held his amethyst blade to the side before calling out to the young woman.
"Knight." His tone was low, yet his words would flow to her effortlessly. He fell to a knee over her, gesturing to the men scrambling about the trenches around her. "These men have been fighting for hours. Most of them are wounded and half of them won't survive the battle even if we win. The Knight's Obsidian are their last reinforcement in this area and their only hope. We have to to be a symbol of that hope. Knights do not sink into the mud, they lead the charge." He held a hand out to the woman, jerking her onto the hell of no man's land. When she was closest to him, he spoke to her softly. "Focus on my back. Keep moving forward. Trust in the Force and you will be fine."
Turning back to the battlefield, the Knights were progressing, albeit slowly, with their erected shield. Acting as the tip of the spear, the soldiers at Sector Besh were beginning to charge into no man's land. Many were cut down by the enemy blaster fire, but the charge did not falter.
The King focused the power of the Force into his lightsaber. Almost immediately the soldiers on the battlefield, including Acantha Malvern
and Dreidi Xeraic
would feel the power of the Kingsaber. It flowed through them, bringing clarity and unity, bringing the motivation many of them needed. With the power of the Force flowing from him in free waves, the King advanced. He caught up to the Knights who were past the half way point, however they had stalled for some reason. When the King approached, he demanded an answer over the hail of blaster fire. "Why have we stopped?!"
One of the Illyrian Knights turned back to the King. "Repeating...turret...your Highness....we can't....move."
The King's eyes pierced the blaster shield, gazing at the repeating turret the enemy had set up on a hill in front of their own trenches. His eyes gazed like a hawk, matching another pair of eyes, high in the sky.
Acantha. Destroy them. He commanded his daughter.
Verin was, and always had been, a career professional. It was something of the way of growing up in a family of career-orientated medical officers that had encouraged a sense of progression and growth, measured by the seemingly immeasurable circumstances he found himself in every few years. From his new commission to Lieutenant to Commander, he now found himself charged with one of the core components of the Bassadro Armada: the 503rd Fleet. Kiff Brayde
had dutifully and kindly let him keep the mighty 5-1-3 as his principle Line, leading from the front of his newly christened yet, unfortunately, weathered Battlecruiser the CNS Al'raja. He had started his career in the 513, or its precursors, and so it was a boon to maintain a close connection with it.
It had always irked him somewhat, in the privacy of his own familial quarters, that he had spent the last few years of his career chasing after the recklessly brilliant if not careening mess that was Kiff Brayde
. The foolhardy genius had dragged them kicking and screaming in and out of a few scrapes. He thought of those that had not come out of those engagements, through no fault of Bassadro sector Chief.
The latest action seen by the Line had been a victory for the Confederate forces involved, repelling an NIO invasion of the Sith planet. However, it had seen members of the 513th left in the field.
Left to the Eerie.
One had been outright destroyed by the advancing NIO capital ship. The other, damaged beyond repair. The crew, unable to evacuate or receive proper rescue during the firefight or after, had scuttled their own ship, fed to the flame rather than left to the mercy of the vacuum of space. It was a dangerous place, space. Oldo hadn't taken any pleasure or stoic consolation in contacting the loved ones of the dead.
Fleet Marshal. New responsibilities. New chances. New risks.
The Fleet exited hyperspace right on cue, the familiar thwump as the impressive array of battlecruisers, Star Destroyers and a host of support ships materialised. There wasn't much that would pose a problem for the 5-0-3.
"Sir, Commander Domino Dubose
, checking in. 5-2-5 ready and accounted for."
Oldo walked towards his tactical display, high above the main command deck. He watched as the Line's formed up in their standard holding pattern.
"Excellent, excellent. Patch them through."
He waited until the familiar ping called to let him know he made contact with the Commander.
"Commander, good to see you in perfect readiness as usual. You'll be taking the Secondary Attack today. Commander Finn Roberts
will be just ahead of you. I'm sure he'll leave you some scraps"
Oldo chuckled to himself. He knew that the Commanders of the Fleet vied for the coveted Primary. It meant first blood, first chance to manoeuvre. This fleet was relatively new in its inception, made up as part of the restructuring that was being seen across the CIS military. It was his chance to do some further good in the 'grandest of services' as they often called it. He looked down at the tac-display and click for transmission to the 5-1-3; his Line. "5-1-3, this is Oldo. Standard holding pattern. Two flotillas. Aurek and Besh to form as standard."
The Line knew what they were doing. They briefed for these engagements, unless an emergency, well in advance and so it wasn't a surprise to anybody what the next orders would be. But that was the discipline of the Navy. You briefed, you planned, you executed. It could run without command but it was the affirmation of knowing what was coming next matching your expectation that kept you comforted when the stray thoughts of floating in a metal tube in the emptiness of space crept up on you.
Finn was sitting across from Derrick, his Lieutenant and lifelong friend, in the Officer's mess while playing a round of Sabacc while the Phantom Queen was racing through Hyperspace to some chit hole or other.
Derrick smirked at him. "Whatever makes you sleep at night, mate." he answered. "Pay up." "How about a day off after this shindig we going on now?" Finn countered, leaning back in his chair as he dropped his cards. "You're kidding, right?" Derrick snorted, arching a brow as he did so.
Just then, a droid approached them. "Sorry to bother Sir, Commander, Sir." came the B-unit's monotone. "Spit it out, Bucket Brain." Finn told him, blowing cigara smoke in the droid's face while still leaning back in his chair. "Uh...Commander, Sir, we are approaching Lahag-Erli and we have received -....." the droid started, but Finn cut him short. "I'm on my way. Now git." he said, getting up. He then looked over at Derrick. "Get your cheating arse on the bridge when you're done reveling in your unfair victory." he told him, before making for the bridge himself.
On the Queen's brain, he looked at his orders. A smile spread on his face just as Derrick joined him. "Ha, we got Primary over Dubose!" Finn barked out a laugh. "You two are seriously not going to let it go, are you?" Derrick asked him, taking his place in the tac chair. "Not until I make snob boy fall on his nose." Finn answered as they exploded out of Hyperspace with the rest of the 503rd. "Form up the line and patch me through to the Fleet Marshal."
Derrick made a face but made sure the droids did what they were told and sent out the orders to the rest of the line himself.
Finn waited for the green light to ping into existence. "Fleet Marshal Oldo, Commander Roberts reporting in. The 5-2-4 is live and ready for action." he said before taking a seat in the Command chair and drawing on the last bit of his cigara.
Killing the stump in the ashtray, Finn leaned forward. "Hands should already be to stations and ready for dancing. Let's not waste too much time here, shall we? First round will be on me when we get back home." he told the room before settling in. His fingers found the ever present but old, worthless coin that stayed in a compartment on the arm of his chair and started playing with it as he waited for the party to start.
Gerwald was going to have to get used to hearing that phrase, and coming from Voph, a former Lord Commander himself. The Lupine hated the formality, but on the battlefield it was important to know the clear chain of command. It was the only place Gerwald would suffer such formality to exist. As if it had become habit, the Lupine waited for all to finish indicating they understood his orders before moving on, pausing long enough to address the Anzat.
“I am sure you will find a decent meal before the day is through.”
The black blade of wolfsbane sprang to life as the hilt made contact with Gerwald’s hand. Gripping the hilt, the lupine charged ahead into the fray of bodies which littered the mud. The Lupine would cut his way through the bodies as the other Knights fell in behind him.
His ears would hear it before the turret could be seen. Eyes fell to the direction it was aiming and landed on the Exarch and his strike team. It was an odd thing to see Malvern look to a bird as though he were commanding it. Voph had his own animal companion as well, and the thought brought a smirk to Gerwald’s lips. It seemed the Confederacy had been learning the value that beasts could bring to battle. A nation of droids was learning to diversify.
“I am headed toward the turrets, and whatever else is further ahead. Voph, you think your winged friend can scout ahead for us?”
It was less a question even though Gerwald posed it as such. The wolf would not wait to listen for an answer as the force pressed to his legs and the Lord Commander rushed toward the turrets. Blaster bolts reigned down as he became the target to draw fire away from the Exarch’s strike team.
“Push ahead,” his words pressed into the mind of Adron Malvern
Gerwald knew little of this particular Exarch other than he had commanded a decisive fleeting victory over Taanab the day Naedira had been murdered. He was close to Srina Talon
, but beyond that, Gerwald knew nothing of the Ilyrrian Monarch.
Several soldiers poured over the hill, forcing Gerwald to stop his charge of the turret. A blaster bolt was deflected off the plasma blade, landing right between the eyes of the first to charge him. Gerwald kicked the body out the way as he swung the black blade in an upward arch to open the chest of the next assailant. Lunging forward he stabbed the other through the neck before pivoting to avoid the next attacker. Spinning the blade in a full circle, Gerwald relieved the final soldier of its head before pressing the attack toward the turrets once more.
Voph and his Nephilim moved in perfect synchronization. The Warden Shield was deployed from Voph's vambrace to offer him and his men cover, and his lightsaber moved in perfect, deadly arcs. His powerful form moved through the battlefield with ease, cutting down combatants as they entered range, and deflecting fire back to those foolish enough to attack him from range. As Gerwald moved towards the turret nest, he called out for a scout.
“I am headed toward the turrets, and whatever else is further ahead. Voph, you think your winged friend can scout ahead for us?”
Voph paused for a brief moment, looking back at the trench from which they had come. <<Horace.>> Immediately, the feathered companion took flight. Finding a middle ground between ground and sky, avoiding both blaster and ship alike. Then in the midst of battle, he vanished, a small puff of smoke being the only sign he had been there. Voph did not waste time waiting for the report. Instead he pushed forward, past the turret nest. Gerwald would have no problem dealing with it. Voph's concern was the artillery. He intended to be the first across the line of the enemy trench, and to bathe in the blood of what he found there.
<<There are three more turret nests, and...Not sure what that one is. But judging by how serious they look, expect trouble. Grenade launchers, perhaps?>>
This hadn’t been her first hard landing since she had joined the agency, nor would it be her last she presumed. The shuttle’s alarm still sounded and the emergency lights painted everything and everyone in a pulsing red hue. The sound was starting to give Tess a headache as she unbuckled herself and checked on the passenger next to her, “Unresponsive.” She said to herself as she checked the young-looking woman’s pulse, “But still alive. I would guess you either passed out from the ‘excitement’ or whiplash knocked you out.”
Without a clear indication of a neck or head injury, Tess quickly undid the straps and placed the female officer’s head on her shoulder and gently wrapped her arms around her under her pits, and lifted. The woman was significantly lighter than expected and Tess carefully shuffled to a clear spot in the shuttle and laid her on the floor while bracing her head.
Another of the crew members began tending to the officer allowing Tess to approach the leader of this expedition: Deputy Minister Alden Akaran. “Two? That’s a bit of a trek if you plan on carrying this shuttle's contents with you.” She replied to the pilot’s estimation, “Not to mention, not everyone made it through the soft landing we just experienced unscathed.” Tess indicated to the now-conscious female officer.
“I’m also going to guess that we weren’t hit by accident. And the users of that anti-air ordinance will most likely be going to check for survivors. We are going to need to plan some sort of defense to hold out for a rescue party, or figure a way across the two kilometers with all our medical supplies and quickly.” The Shadowfeed Agent stated matter-of-factly.
She was running numbers through her head as she spoke when her droid BD-404 scurried over and projected a holomap of the local area with a pin drop of their most likely position in comparison to their original destination. It wasn’t as detailed as a battle-plan map, but it would work for the time being.