CHAPTER 2: The Battle of Hoth.

"So. Where should I begin?

"Start with your mission on Hoth"

"What should I say?"

"Well. What ship were you on? What got you involved down on the planet?"

"My ship? I was on Lord Vader's Super Star Destroyer. As far as how I got involved with the ground assault. . . It started with my being yelled at by a superior officer."

***************

"You there! Why aren't you at your post?"

"Sorry, sir. I was on my way to check a malfunction on the transports by orders of General Veers."

"Where are these orders, soldier?"

"Um. . .sorry, sir. General Veers stated he was in a hurry and had no time to write out my orders."

"That doesn't sound much like General Veers."

"Yes sir. But he was on his way to speak to Lord Vader, sir."

"Oh. . . well. . . fine. You may return to your post, Private."

"Very good, sir. Right away."

"Oh, and by the way, Private."

"Yes sir?"

"What is your identification number?"

"Sir! THX-5721, sir!"

"Very good, Private. Carry on."

"Thank you, sir!"

The Colonel made his way through the long corridors of the Super Star Destroyer towards the dark chamber. As he entered he could feel the evil presence of the one they called Darth Vader. The feeling sent chills up and down the Colonel's spine.

"Colonel Starford, I don't recall summoning you."

"No, Lord Vader, but the Emperor demands a progress report immediately, sir."

"Very good, Colonel. Report to General Veers immediately and tell him to ready his men."

"Right away, sir. Will there be anything else, sir?"

"Yes, your new commander is Admiral Piett. You will report directly to him, Brigadier General Starford."

"Thank you, Lord Vader."

The newly appointed Brigadier General knew exactly what Vader meant by Piett being his new commander. He had seen Vader's wrath poured out upon those in authority over him before. This promotion did not excite him at all, for he knew that with higher rank came a higher chance of feeling the dark grip of the Sith Lord.

"General Veers. I was ordered to report to you at once."

"Colonel Starford! How good to see you."

"Actually, sir, it's Brigadier General now."

"Well then. What is Lord Vader's message, Brigadier General?"

"Lord Vader ordered the immediate preparation of your troops for deployment to the planet's surface."

"Excellent! It appears we will have a battle after all."

"Yes, sir. Is that all?"

"Actually, no. I would like you to meet someone."

"Really? May I ask who, sir?"

"Gaunt! We have been friends for years. You don't need to call me sir!"

"As you wish, sir."

"Fine, do as you wish."

As General Veers finished his comment a figure slowly crept from the shadows and into the well-lit quarters.

"Ah! Here he is now. Private, I want you to meet Brigadier General Starford. Gaunt, this is Private First Class THX-5721."

"Pleased to meet you again, sir."

"Likewise, Private."

"Oh, so you two have already meet. Gaunt, I want you to see some of these military plans the Private here has mapped out . . ."

As the two officers stared down at the plans that 5721 had spent the last few months creating, he couldn't help but smile. He had admired Starford for years. During his Academy days, Starford had made himself stand out as a military genius with a keen understanding of the enemies' minds. It seemed like he always knew when and where the enemy would strike. 5721 felt very relieved he was wearing his helmet. He would not want to embarrass himself in front of his hero.

What 5721 didn't know was that Starford had always hated authority figures. His only real friend was Veers and he really only tolerated him. Another fact unbeknownst to the youthful Private was that Starford was a Rebel sympathizer. He had always hated the Old Republic and the only thing holding Starford back from joining the Alliance was that he felt a certain obligation to Veers. The reason being that when Starford's temper flared up at one of his instructors at his military Academy, Veers convinced the instructor not to dismiss Starford from the Academy. But all of this wasn't known to 5721. All he knew was that he one day longed to be like Gaunt Starford.

"Private. . . Private! Are you listening?"

"What? Oh . . . sorry, sir."

"I asked if you would like to go down?"

"Go down where, sir?"

Flustered, General Veers motioned his head towards the large window in his office that had a clear view of the vastness of space. 5721, still unsure what the General meant, looked out the window to see a small blue star on the horizon.

"Oh, sir! Yes, sir! It would be an honor."

"Very good, I will see to it that you are placed at a joint command with Lieutenant Routman."

"Thank you again, sir. Will that be all?"

"Yes, Private, that is all. Good luck."

"Thank you, sir!"

It was freezing. Even with his suit 5721 felt the burning cold air blowing by him. He could see that the AT-AT walkers were far too much for the Rebel defenses. He and his group were running at a quick pace toward the front line of Rebel troops. When they were within fifty feet of the line he glanced to his left to see Lieutenant Routman hit by enemy fire. Without leadership he knew that his group's mission would be difficult. After only a few minutes he dashed into the south entrance of Echo base to find most of his group still alive.

"Well, sir, it seems that you are in command now."

"Right." 5721 said with a confident voice, but unsure if he was up to the task at hand. "Let's stick to the plan. You ten, follow me down this tunnel here to the command room. The rest of you advance down the main tunnel and try and capture any fleeing commanders. Any questions?"

"Sir what if we run into enemy soldiers who surrender?"

"Lord Vader has made it very clear to me and the other leaders. There will be no prisoners. Understood?"

"Yes, sir!"

With that, 5721 advanced down the narrow corridor toward the command room. When he and his men entered they ran into a small group of Rebel militia protecting the commanders yet to flee. In a desperate maneuver, 5721 tossed a explosive toward the only other exit, destroying it and trapping the Rebels in. After a brief firefight, the remaining five Rebel troops threw down their weapons and surrendered.

"Sir, the Rebels have thrown down their arms!"

"I can see that, Private! Now line them up with their hands above their heads."

"Yes, sir."

"You men have been found guilty of treason against the Galactic Empire and are sentenced to death by Emperor Palpatine."

***************

"Just hold on one minute!"

"What?"

"You mean to tell me that you shot unarmed Rebel troops that had surrendered?"

"Not because I wanted to! I had no choice. My ten men could never have transported those men, plus the five leaders, to our next target. They would have jumped my men and then we all, myself included, would have been killed!"

"I see. Well, please continue where you left off."

***************

"Sir, the commanders have been shackled are ready for transport."

"Good. Let's move out."

The party moved quickly up the hall towards a room with green light glowing from it. Here the party met up with the other fifteen men and half entered the room. They set a timed thermal detonator on the main reactor of the frozen complex.

"The timer's set, sir. We have ten minutes."

"Alright, let's move out! Double time!"

***************

"And!"

"And what?"

"And what happened after that?"

"We went back to the ship."

"You are really new at this storytelling stuff aren't you?"

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