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 Post subject: Plot 17c
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:13 pm 
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A woman’s scream.

Dru spun around as the tell-tale sound of blaster fire suddenly silenced the terrified cry. Small pieces of loose debris beneath his boots slowed his progress as he raced in direction of the blasts. He paused briefly at the corner of the pock-marked Synstone wall to clear the acrid smoke from his lungs and draw his weapon. Readying himself, he leapt around the corner and leveled his blaster down the alley.

The butt of an E-11 smashed him hard in the face, sending a bright pattern of lights dancing in his brain. Reeling back in pain, he landed hard against the cobblestone path. A boot suddenly pinned his gun hand to the ground while another kicked his weapon away.

Clenching his teeth in pain, Dru blinked through the blood-tinted haze and was met by the business end of an E-11 and the skull-like stares of a pair of stromtroopers on the other end of it. He stifled a groan as the second trooper tossed something round and heavy on his chest. Keeping one eye on the trooper’s blaster, he glanced down at the object.

Jaelyn Tsylle’s blank, glassy eyes stared back at him. Skin ashen, hair singed, mouth agape in a frozen scream… The rest of her… missing. Dru lurched back in shock, crying out in pain as his wrist snapped under the weight of the trooper’s boot. The head tumbled from his chest, rolling a short distance before coming to a rest, face towards the sky, against a pile of broken Synstone. Her lifeless eyes suddenly rolled to stare deep into his. His heart froze in terror as the mouth silently formed the words…

You let me die…

- - - - -

Major Dru Kargin woke up screaming.


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 Post subject: Re: Plot 17c
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:55 pm 
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“Major Kargin, are you alright?” Sacul’s disembodied voice asked through the speakers embedded in the ceiling of Dru’s cabin.

It took Dru a few moments to slow his heavy breathing and wipe the sweat from his eyes before answering. “Yes, I’m fine.”

“Do you require assistance?”

“That won’t be necessary,” he replied, fumbling around in the dim lighting for something to wipe his face with.

“I was about to call down to you anyway,” Sacul continued. “We’ve just received an encrypted transmission from Mandalore.”

Finding the hem of a discarded shirt, he swung his legs over the side of the bunk and buried his face in the soft material. “Is it from Face?

“Affirmative. Shall I play it for you in your cabin?”

“Please.”

The overhead speakers clicked softly as the slightly garbled audio feed from the transmission filtered through. “Good news, Dru. We’ve managed to strike a deal with the Skirata for Firestorm’s new leader. However, it’s going to require a little bit of work on our part. They’ve got an Imperial garrison down here they need out of commission for a little while and we’re just the people for the job… unfortunately, that means I’m going to need all of you here for this operation. Sorry pal, your detour to Corellia is going to have to wait a few days. I wish we could wait a few days on this but taking the garrison out is going to be much harder starting the day after tomorrow. I’m sending along a flight path as well as a set of coordinates for a landing bay we’ve secured. We’ll be expecting you soon.”

“Orders, Major?” Sacul asked.

For a moment, Dru merely stared silently at the floor. That wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

“Do we have the flight data yet?” he asked solemnly.

“Just plugged into the navicomputer and verified.”

“Then inform Kai to come out of hyperspace and set course for Mandalore.”

“Aye sir,” Sacul replied, a touch of sympathy for the Major in her voice. “Estimate seven hours to Mandalore.”


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 Post subject: Re: Plot 17c
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:38 am 
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With thanks to Face for input/advice!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Most people would never notice or even detect the unique hum and subtle vibration that indicated Sacul was traveling through hyperspace, but Red could. Especially when she was sitting on the floor of the engine room, legs crossed with elbows propped on her knees and her chin propped by her hands. It was a comforting feeling and it helped her to think.

She seemed to be in a daydream, but her vacant look was a side effect of deep thought as she stared at the small blinking light of the device that sat on the floor in front of her. By itself, the small disc was nondescript and easily missed when tucked away amid machinery, but out in the open and with a tangle of wires and cords connecting it to a portable computer terminal, it seemed much more sinister.

It WAS much more sinister than it seemed and Red was grateful she had trusted her instincts.

~~~

Running through her standard pre-flight check, Red hadn't yet changed out of the dancing outfit she had come to wear under Loora's "care". When the team had arrived back, she wanted to make sure they could burn off Nar Shadda as soon as was physically possible and so she headed straight to her main console in the confines of engineering. Pulling up a new display screen, she began to run the pre-flight engine check. Considering they day she had been having, she decided to also run an airflow check and executed the command prompt for that specific program.

The airflow check sent a series of commands to the network of sensors positioned at numerous points across the Sacul's hull to verify that there were no obstructions, hull damage or other changes to the integrity of the vessel. To achieve this, the sensors registered the wind or airflow over the surface of the sensor and compared it to the calibration of ideal movement that should be occurring. Usually it was only efficient and necessary to run the program in atmo before leaving a planet, but Red had mentally decided to begin running it twice, including a new check before take off.

She had figured if it was able to detect an issue before take off even occurred, when all it was detecting were light breezes, it would allow for quicker repairs since they wouldn’t have to return to the dock to deal with any problems.

As the program executed and her screen began to pull results from the external sensor board, Red glanced up and addressed Sacul.

"Sacul, please send me the incident report for the time periods when you were unattended to my console."

"Technically I wasn't unattended..."

The snippy remark got a roll of Red's eyes. Sacul was a stickler for exact requests, but she knew what Red was asking and simply giving her grief. Before Red could adjust her remark and snip back, Sacul's cheery tone finished her initial comment.

"..but I understand the request and am processing the report to your screen. A new window should be opening on your terminal, now."

The second window popped open on cue and began to scroll a list of times and reports from the Sacul's security network. It was fairly mundane, showing no indications of any tripped sensors or unusual activity outside of those things that were to be expected. Dock workers passing by the gate but did not enter the bay Sacul occupied, the normal shift in temperatures as the day occurred. But one line did pop out to Red and with a quick flurry of fingers on the console controls the specific line was pulled out to a new screen by itself.

"Sacul, please elaborate on the hull anomaly reported in line 541 subsection 32 of the incident report."

"At approximately 1542 hours, a small impact was registered near one of the engines by the hull sensors. No incoming material was detected and the trajectory has been estimated to have come from directly over the docking bay. There were no ships passing overhead that violated the no fly zone of the space port and the impact caused no hull damage. System registered the force of the impact as consistent with a wildlife strike, such as when a disoriented avian flies into a building."

Scanning the numbers that were registered, Red pulled up the airflow check report that was still being compiled and ran a prompt to bring up the results from the corresponding section of external engine casing where the strike was reported. The numbers that the airflow check reported in that zone were only slightly decreased from the previous check and still within the expected range of variance.

Normally, Red would have waited to see what the airflow check reported during the second run in atmo. But something nagged at the back of her mind and after locking the terminal console she headed for the access panel that would let her climb out and onto the upper part of Sacul's hull from an emergency exit chute.

"Sacul, I think whatever hit us is still on the hull. I'm going to go check it out and make sure it isn't a non-organic item that might cause damage during take off."

"I will let any crew members making an inquiry to your status know where you are."

"Thanks."

~~~

Red easily found the item on the hull since she had the specific sensor location and it was no bird. Not the organic kind, at least. She immediately contacted Piggy and asked him to meet her in engineering with a portable computer console. After ensuring the item was not rigged to cause damage or self destruct if tampered with, she brought it back inside Sacul with her, where Piggy was now waiting.

When the Gammorean spotted what Red was carrying, he gave a low grunt that she suspected was the equivalent of a whistle since his translator seemed unable to provide an equivalent.

“First, I must say I am impressed you have tolerated that outfit for this long. Second, how did you even FIND a military grade homing beacon attached to the hull?”

Setting the beacon by the console Piggy had brought, Red couldn’t help but give a weary sigh.

“Dumb luck and paranoia, frankly. After the day I’ve had, I ran some extra preflight checks and even little discrepancies were too bothersome to leave alone. I need to change, but I was hoping you could rig up a little program for our new toy.”

“Oh?” Piggy was already looking over the beacon, carefully removing a few small panels on it with a pair of thin nosed pliers to get a look at its wiring.

“I think leaving it on would be the best bet – I’ll clear it with Dru first, but if we turn it off, whoever planted it will know. Obviously, it can’t send back legitimate information…”

“…So you want to give it false coordinates. That way, we might figure out who placed it in the first place. I see what you mean. I think I can get a quick program together before we leave this planet.”

Leaving Piggy to work, Red went to change and then sought out Dru. He gave her a tentative approval, pending further discussion after they had entered hyperspace.

~~~

As Red waited in the engine room, she felt the vibrations of the Sacul shift subtly. They were coming out of hyperspace. A confused blink, she knew that this leg of the jump to Corellia wasn’t supposed to end yet. As she stood to go check her console, Dru entered the engine room, his voice answering her unformed question.

“There has been a change in course. As the rest of the crew will know in a soon to be announced briefing, we’re rejoining Face and his team at Mandalore for a new mission.”

“Ah, that explains the shift. Did you come to check on the beacon?”

Dru walked to join Red and the beacon and console setup, his eyes taking in Piggy’s work and prompting a nod of approval as he read the output on the screen. Something about his demeanor seemed a bit shaken to Red, but since she couldn’t place anything obvious she made no comments.

“Whoever planted this beacon was planning to track us through hyperspace, although for what reason or for whose benefit we still don’t know. The beacon itself has no clear ties or connections that we’ve pinned down.”

Dru nodded, carefully picking up the beacon so as to not disturb its new wiring.

“I doubt this belonged to Loora, this is too extreme for him and our game isn’t THAT intense.”

“I suspect that is correct. In either case, leaving it on but not accurate seemed to be the best option to possibly figure out that puzzle. We can’t let whoever it is locate us too soon, but we also don’t want to make them suspicious. The beacon works by detecting and recording contact points with HoloNet non-mass transceivers that are located in the S-threads we use to travel through hyperspace, so it was actually fairly easy for Piggy to create a new source of information for the beacon.”

Dru nodded, indicating he wanted Red to finish her explanation.

“Piggy bypassed the normal receiver the beacon uses to contact the transceivers so that it is getting its information from this console instead of external data. Sacul logs the same transceivers in her hyperspace logs, so he used that data to create a fake hyperspace jump. It is still headed to Corellia, but instead of remaining in the system, the program registers us as immediately re-entering hyperspace along the Corellian Trade Spine, heading to the Outer Rim. We have Bespin as the location where the program will terminate the beacon and power it off. Considering we are now headed to Mandalore, the beacon will transmit to it’s owner we are on the other side of the Outer Rim.”

Red gave Dru a moment to think and finally received a nod of approval .

“I like the idea and this rig seems to do the job perfectly. Since we have a new heading we will be dropping out of hyperspace at different intervals than we were planning when our path was still similar to that of the program. My guess is the beacon sends data packages during periods in real space, so this could lead to time discrepancies that whoever set this might notice. See if Piggy can adjust the program to account for that. If the discrepancies are noticed, at least we’ve planted doubt and hopefully thrown them off our trail. If he hasn’t done so already, have Piggy also program the console to terminate the beacon’s ability to transmit if anything isn’t running exactly the way it should for this plan.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dru shot Red a look at the formal address but a smile made it impossible for him to seem angry.

“I will send Piggy down here from the bridge. As soon as you two are done, head to the conference room for mission debrief and our new plans.”

“Mandalore?”

“Mandalore…”

_________________
"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!"


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 Post subject: Re: Plot 17c
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:35 am 
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It was simultaneously the most stressful and boring assignment he had ever received.

They were posted on a planet populated almost exclusively by some of the most expertly trained, deadliest warriors in the universe. They had superior numbers and were in no way untrained themselves, but the entry briefings for the personnel assigned to the garrison made it clear that there was no room for weakness or laziness. A moment of weakness or inattention could easily escalate into a confrontation of the deadliest sorts.

They were unwelcome and they knew it.

But the constant vigilance, the stress of the situation was eclipsed by the tedium it bred.

No one dared to be seen relaxing by their commanders, no one dared to let their guard down. Which meant that no one joked, no one risked any open signs of enjoyment. There were card games and drinking behind the scenes, but it was so dramatically different from any other post he had ever been assigned to.

Yet for all the tension and worry inside the garrison, there had been no incidents. The Mandalorians were not waging an open rebellion against their presence. They did not hide their disdain, but there had been no violence and no active or immediate threats.

The contrast between their orders and the strange, awkward peace that existed made one a bit crazy and he was finding it hard to care anymore.

It was worst at the small, fortified outposts that surrounded the garrison. They were really nothing more than slightly beefed-up shacks, which allowed for advanced warning, checkpoints for troops or supplies and general information relays to troops that were deployed in the city. They were the first line to be hit if a rebellion arose.

Yes, the Mandalorians could have rebelled and ejected them. But that would bring down full scale invasion forces and cost them significantly more than it did the invaders. They could pump resources and pure volumes of cannon fodder onto the world until they overran the more skilled fighters with pure numbers.

And the Mandalorians always knew the cost-benefits of any action.

Realizing his focus was waning, the trooper tapped a button on his wrist and a soft tone, followed by a bland computer voice sounded in his helmet.

Almost time for his shift change.

As if one cue, the sound of the IDT that made the rounds to exchange troops from the outposts became audible and he moved to get a view on it. Inside the outpost, he heard the other three men who were monitoring the communications array shift in their seats to look towards it as well.

An elbow was thrown into the stomach of his fellow trooper, who was leaning on the wall at his side of the outpost entrance. He’d obviously given into the urge to nap after being told to stop whining and take the risk if he was that tired.

“Hey, wake up idiot. Shift change is here. Don’t want to get a new one torn for sleeping on the job.”

His companion grunted and quickly righted himself, moving just forward of the door as the IDT set down meters from the shack. Four troopers and three communications personnel moved towards them, waking in a brisk formation.

“Third shift reporting for duty and relief of current assignment. Passcode 13A25, daily shift word Vornskr.”

The trooper and his companion nodded as the passcode was relayed through the auditory recognition system, a click giving them the okay to head to the IDT for transport back to the garrison. As the new communications team passed, he noticed with some degree of interest that one of them was a woman with striking blue eyes and dark brown hair. She was the first woman he’d seen assigned to the post and the moment of distraction almost caused him to walk into the trooper that had moved forward to take his post.

“Solider, you want to pay attention to where you are going?”

Turning his head back from where it had trailed after the woman, he managed a stiff nod to the man he had nearly run into, who was oddly tall for a trooper.

“Sorry, long shif...”

The sound of a blaster going off in the hut and a muffed shout cut off his apology.

“What was tha...”

As he spun to look back to the outpost door, the arm of the tall trooper wrapped around his neck. As his head jerked hard to the side, the last thing he managed to think before the world faded to a permanent black was that he didn’t get to finish his last words.

---
Without lowering the bodies of the dispatched Troopers to the ground, the two replacements hauled the bodies into the outpost with them, while the two escorts behind them took up positions at the door as it closed. Inside the outpost, the three communications personnel had a mess of wires and communications consoles already spliced into the existing hardware.

The brunette woman looked up as he entered, a thumb jerked over her shoulder to where the bodies of the real communications personnel had been moved. One had obviously put up a fight, their chest marked by a blaster burn, but the other two had been just as surprised as the Troopers they had taken outside.

“Put them there, Sergeant Marns. No signs of detection or alarms from the other outposts. Seems the other teams were able to maintain normal communications while we secured this final post.”

“Yes, Lieutenant Filor.”

Pulling his helmet off as he dumped the body, Sergeant Chase Marns was glad to be out of the restrictive helmet. Moving to join the commander of the first platoon in Vornskr company, he watched as the engineers from fourth squad worked to establish secure communications to their teammates at the other outposts. The squadrons had been divided for this mission, so that their were a mixture of engineers, sharp shooters, and the heavy weapons experts at each post when they were taken.

Lieutenant Filor had asked the Brosi born Sergeant to accompany her for the final outpost take over, since it was the most likely place that they would meet resistance, especially if any of the previous posts that had been secured during the “routine” shift change process were compromised.

Thankfully, the troops at the outposts were as lax as their intel had foreseen and everything seemed to be going perfectly in the first stages. Standing behind his commanding officer he heard her activate the secure line to the other outposts, bypassing the normal communications array that made the lines public listening to the garrison comm officers.

“Outpost four to outposts one, two and three...we just received a report of a wild Vornskr roaming outside the garrison. Please confirm the sighting.”

As three affirmative reports came back, Lieutentant Marns straightened with her mouth set in a firm line and motioned to one of the men who was at a smaller console behind her.

“Engineer Pratt, time to call in the rest of the professionals. Let the MAATs know the decontamination squads are ready for cover and initiate stage two of the extermination.”

_________________
"I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person!"


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