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Old 05-24-2006, 12:38 PM   #124
machievelli
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The trap is sprung

The ship arrived with the flash of a burned out hyper drive. The ships operating around Thule noticed it, and the faces were ecstatic. A nice ripe prize had just dropped into their laps.

But this gaffed fish could bite back...

“There are the Wasps.” The censor officer reported. “The Crasbashti Is not here at the moment, neither is Prince of Peace but right there-“ He haloed a target “Is a target that fits the data for Sunspot.” He hummed, working, then tapped another blip. “Their orbital station. Pretty good sized. Coruscanti design.”

Captain Dodonna leaned over his shoulder. “Three out of five isn’t too bad. We intended to hang around long enough to get them anyway, assuming they aren’t gone too long.” She thumbed the intercom. “Engineering, give us ten percent, but intermittent. We just suffered a major engineering casualty.”

“What should we be able to see?” Breia asked.

The sensor officer tapped a red line on the display. “That is commercial sensors against something not emitting. The blue line is what we would pick up if they are emitting with the civvie equipment, and this green line is where they would pick us up on passive.” The blips of the warships were well inside the last circle, but still outside the blue one.

“So we can’t see them, or at least they think.”

“Correct.”

Freya stood back, turning to the silent Jedi behind her. “Well, ladies. To work.”

*****

To the unsuspecting, it was the perfect trap. The huge freighter stumbled along, plaintively asking for help. The station contacted them first, chiding them along, telling them that a small squadron of the Corellian Navy was in system, and would render aid when they could. Sunspot had moved closer to the station.

But to the all seeing eyes of military grade hardware, it was a different story. The two Wasps had done a slow turn to come up behind them, all of it silently. The readings on Sunspot showed an additional fusion generator being brought on line. Preparation for an attack.

The crew of the Merchant raider were on alert. Down below, the Marines were getting into their armor and checking their weapons.

*****

“I will be going with you, Commander.” The helmeted Jedi commented. The Voder gave her a female voice, but it was harsh, metallic. She wore a blood red skin suit, good enough for vacuum, but nothing compared to the hell of modern day warfare. As armor went she might as well have been nude.

“Commander Devries of the Corellian Marines sighed. “Ma’am, I don’t have anyone escort you-”

“I do not need an escort, commander. I can take care of myself.”

The commander had to admit she probably could. He had watched her sparring with the other Jedi, and both had been impressive, faster than anyone he had seen with a sword. But... “Ma’am, I don’t know how many boarding actions you have been on-”

“This will be my second.” She replied. “My first was at Alpha 4 with the 7th MAF.”

“You were there?” He looked at her. “What were, you, eighteen?”

“Fifteen.”

He nodded slowly. “All right, Ma’am, you can go. But if you get killed it’s your own damn fault.”

*****

Unlike an assault transport, which is designed to take damage as it goes in, a Merchantman is fragile. It doesn’t have the heavy decks needed to support assault shuttles and their fighter escort. Instead, a designer had come up with a unique idea. There is a bird native on Corellia that hung head down, wrapping itself in it’s wings like a cigar. When it flew it would let go, dropping until it gained speed, then the wings would snap out.

So the fighters and Assault shuttles were anchored to the central core like lethal grapes, the cargo bays left open, and ready. Instead of the usual winches, the main bay hatches were anchored with explosive bolts and rocket pack. Now six hundred Marines waited in 14 shuttles, along with thirteen additional pilots for the signal to go.

The ship finally staggered into orbit, approaching the station. The ‘naval squadron’ had split, one to either beam on the approach. The officer commanding the station started to lean into the console, ready to make his demands when suddenly the ship seemed to explode outward. Guns popped out of hidden ports along both sides, and he just had time to recognize assault shuttles when the world seemed to explode.

*****

The Corellian navy had looked at the problem like this; Not every pirate used commercial vessels. A lot of them recently had been picking up the odd warship, and the guns a merchant usually carried were too light to do more than scratch their paint. Worse, if you ended up at war, the enemy obviously had warships, and you knew they would snap up the occasional merchantman. But a Merchant Raider’s job was to take out the enemy. Capture his shipping, protect your own, and if you went toe to toe with the big boys, make sure they remembered the fight, and not fondly.

You need guns, lots of guns, the bigger, the better.

Then again, any kind of projectile takes time to reach it’s target. Any sensor officer worth his rating would see them, and they would return fire. A merchant was frightfully fragile, and one broadside from even a corvette would shatter it. So projectile weapons were out.

Instead of regular guns, Star Trader carried a dozen laser-energy weapons in each broadside. Mixed laser and particle beam, they had massive throughput, meaning most of the energy put into the system came out the muzzle. Since they were light speed weapons, it also meant that the first you knew about them firing was the impact. Since the ships were on opposite sides, that meant that two dozen beams were fired, twelve at each.

One of the Wasps rang like the bell from hell as the equivalent of a ton of explosives ripped through her hull where each beam hit. The beam caused the hull to flash into plasma which ravaged the compartments beyond. The aim had been as well as expected. But after all, the Corellian crew knew the specifications of ships they were firing at, and that helps a lot in such situations. The ship to port fell away, engines destroyed, power cut to the weapons. The other had turned at the last moment, and the beam that sliced into her engine room struck the fusion bottle. It vanished with it’s entire crew in a ball of flame.

A dozen fighters and a Corellian Shadow class courier roared away from the ship, arcing past the station, running down on Sunspot. They outstripped the assault shuttles which had divided, four of them headed for the wounded corvette, the rest screaming in toward the station.

With her more dangerous opponents out of action, the merchantman turned, and her guns began to pick away the chain gun and laser turrets they had already mapped hours ago. It was easier than you might imagine, since the station commander hadn’t expected to be attacked, and they were all on standby. Almost the instant the shuttles would have hit it, the last weapons were smoking divots.

*****

Sienna bounced against the restraints as the shuttle plowed into the station, ripping it’s way almost it’s entire length into the structure.

“Go!” Devries screamed, and panels blew out. The Marines poured out, securing the area as the pilot backed jets, backing the shuttle out of the hole before the automatic systems could seal it in like a bug in amber.

Sienna moved through the fluctuating gravity as if it were steady, raising her hand to halt the advance.

“What are you playing at?” A sergeant screamed at her. She pulled out a flat metal star, throwing it down the passageway ahead of them. It had traveled less than three meters before guns roared along it’s length. The metal hit the deck hammered into something that might have been displayed in a surrealistic art show.

“They don’t want to play obviously.” She drew her sword, cutting into the bulkhead beside the passageway. Moving down through the access way she was cutting, she threw the now disabled sensors out. She backed up, repeating the action on the other side. A second star imbedded itself in the end of the passageway.

“The way is clear now.”

“Sorry.”

“The 7th didn’t think I could do it either.” She said. “Follow me.”

*****

"Pirate vessel, this is Padawan Breia Solo of the Jedi Order. You will shut down you engines and prepare to be boarded. You have ten seconds to comply.” She watched the glittering web of fighters that spun around the ship. If they had fled earlier-

“Hyper drive warning!” Someone shouted. They had lit off their hyper drive. Less than ten seconds...

“Fire!”

Three of the fighters bored in, their guns ripping through the hull plating. The ship staggered, then opened up like a lethal flower.

*****

Sienna ducked, her sword snapping up to remove the hand of someone who had been foolish enough to wait for the spearhead. She grabbed his clothes, slamming her head into his with a bone jarring thump. Her helmet saved her from any pain. The same couldn’t be said for her victim. He collapsed, and she motioned for a Marine to move forward and bind him.

“Come on! Do you want to live forever?” She roared.

With a roar, the Marines ran forward. Resistance was crumbling everywhere. Without her presence, the butcher’s bill in the booby-trapped corridors others had found had been high. But her quick action, and their reporting of it to other units had kept the losses down.

She ran forward, outpacing her escorts, arriving at the command center door. She plunged the blade into the bulkhead beside it, and cut swiftly. With a crash a section two meters to a side fell outward.

The station commander spun around and wanted to scream. Wanted to turn again and push the button that would blow the station into shards.

But when he saw the figure in blood red armor with a scarlet helmet step almost daintily through that newly cut hole and approach him, his resolve died. He could tell it was a woman. Hell, in a skin suit, you can tell if a man is happy or not. But there was nothing in that walk, that stance, that bared sword that spoke of a nurturing nature.

It was a nightmare from hell. A war goddess come to play. If he blew the station, somehow he knew it wouldn’t stop her. She would follow him through every afterlife and she would find him.

The station commander took one look at the monster heading toward him and threw down his side arm. She slowed, raising the point of her sword, and he clasped his hands behind his neck, falling to his knees.

“Commander, when this is over, you and I will have a talk.” A breathy rasp told him.

The Marines with their lethal looking weapons were almost a relief.

*****

Through the station in intercoms and com units blared.

“This is Padawan Dodonna of the Jedi Order. As of this moment, any armed pirate will be killed without being given the chance to surrender. That is all.” The voice was not wheedling or triumphant. It was a flat metallic growl that reached down into the hindbrain of every man aboard and said Yes, I will kill you all. I have no further patience.

Men that had considered a last ditch fight, that thought to bury their teeth in a throat before they died felt their bowels loosen. They threw down their weapons, stepped into view, and knelt with their hands behind their heads.

*****

“Second company reports the surviving Wasp has been taken. Casualties among our people are light.”

“Commander Fourth MAF reports the station is ours.”

Freya looked up from her command chair. “Survivors from the other two ships?”

“None, ma’am. The Wasp and the Prince of Peace were both destroyed with all hands.”

She sighed. The modifications that had given her enough space to house a Marine Battalion and the fighters had been thrown in at the last minute, but she figured it was worth it now. A merchant raider fighting warships, even small ones was too much like nuclear weapons at ten paces.

“Contact the fighters. Tell those lunatics to come in slow and let our cables drag them in.”

*****

Breia settled her courier in on the captured station. She looked at the outfit Sienna had suggested. It was the same skin suit and helmet Sienna wore, but in a solid unrelieved black. A visage that would strike terror.

She sighed, and changed. The helmet was restrictive to view, but looking at herself in a mirror, she knew it was what they wanted to do. Convince the surviving pirates that not even hell would save them from vengeance.

The Marines looked at her, helmet cradled under her arm. One of them chuckled.

“Something funny sergeant?” The tone was not cold or demanding. It was a friend asking another friend what the joke was.

“Ma’am, Do you watch crime dramas?”

“Not really. I have been too busy learning my trade.”

“Well there’s a phrase they use in questioning. ‘good cop, bad cop’. Know it?”

“I understand the concept, yes.”

“Well you two, your ‘bad cop even meaner cop‘.”

She looked at her attire, thinking of them, black and red, not yin and yang but both aspects of the same thing, and each terrible.

She understood now. It wasn’t like the Corellian personnel didn’t know what she looked like. But that the enemy did not. Meeting not two women, they meet two faceless monsters that would not show pity or restraint. Creatures that would want answers, not excuses.

She looked at the sergeant, bowing her head with a shy smile. “Sergeant, would you be frightened of me in my normal clothes?”

“Only if I had a brain, ma’am. I’ve seen you fight.”

“This is just a costume.” She waved toward the suit. “When I am done, I take it off and hope to all the gods I never wear it again.”

“Ma’am, as much as barristers talk about the rights of the criminals, I remember the faces of those they murdered. You want to hang him up by tender parts, I’ll find a place to attach the line, and haul him up at your order.” His face was bleak.

“Sergeant, you and I will have a drink afterward, and a talk. I think you’ve been doing this too long.”

He looked at her askance. “Like you haven’t?”

She bowed her head, acknowledging the hit, and lifted the helmet, sliding it on until it clicked on it’s locking ring. Her voice was different from Sienna’s the voder set for a mezzo soprano. “We both need a rest, sergeant. Maybe we could take a quiet leisurely cruise on the ocean, you and I.”

“Together?”

“Why not?”

“Padawan!” She turned back. “What would my wife say?”

“Bring her along.” She left, leaving him confused.

*****

Thoughts ran through the Station manager’s head. How could he keep them confused, make them look the wrong way? The monster had sent him off to the cells, and he didn’t think any Corellian officer would allow...

The hatch opened. A blank faced Marine motioned, escorting him down to the interrogation room. He was motioned toward a chair, and he took it. The silence was starting to get unnerving. The opposite hatch opened and the Scarlet horror walked in.

Sienna saw the look on his face. If he had been on a heart monitor, the needle would have spiked clear through the top of the machine. She stood there, arms crossed, watching him.

The strain stretched his nerves like meat through a grinder. He wanted to scream, to start the questions, to beg for his life. Anything!

He showed it with bravado. “Well? What are you waiting for?”

The hatch opened again. This horror was an ebon presence that seemed to suck all of the light out of the room.

“Waiting for my associate.” The Scarlet one replied. “Now, we have questions, and you will give us the answers. One way or another.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 05-24-2006 at 12:42 PM. Reason: typo
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