Chapter 10: Ferus Olin
"Alright boys" Sergeant Trace Aleei said over the com inside Squad 3's helmets. "When we get planet side you stay with the precious cargo and keep your eyes sharp, get me?" He asked.
"We get you sergeant!" The recruits shouted.
Trace nodded to Corporal Fween, his only surviving squad mate from the Piia campaign. The two then turned to dealing with the pre-landing rituals of the Imperial shuttle as it shook itself silly in the gravity well of the planet as they rushed through the upper atmosphere.
"Ten till touch!" The pilot shouted and Trace, now a squad leader and a sergeant, was able to pull up BATLNT which was the Imperial Battle Network operating system. The program displayed a small map on his helmet's visor as well as the locations of the other squads and his own men's bio signatures and vitals.
"Three till touch!" The pilot shouted and the shuttle breached the upper atmosphere and flew over a very intricate and wealthy city.
"Lock and load squad three!" Fween barked and slammed a fresh battery pack into his E-11 Carbine. The shuttle touched down at the same time as the ramp lowered and the hatch shot up. Moving down quickly, they linked up with squads One and Four and found two towering, imposing Imperial knights standing there waiting for them.
"Sergeant" One of them said, he was a bit more skinny then his companion and wore a metallic cover over half his face, which included a robotic eye. "You and your squad will enter the front with me" He said. "Lord Hethrir will take the other two squads and enter from the other two entrances, here and here" He said, indicating a datapad he had. "Since you are the ranking soldier here, I expect you to be ready to face the consequences of failure...i do not like failure" The knight said as the two squads broke off with the tall blond knight.
"Of course sire, we will do as you command!" Trace answered, making sure to leave no room to question his loyalty. Imperial knights were known to kill those that weren't 'Loyal' enough to the Empire, and they could do it on just a whim. Better to not give them any ideas. "Squad Three on me!" Trace ordered over the com and the Stormtroopers, as well as the knight, moved into the theater that they had landed in front of.
"Fox, Fween" Trace said, getting the attention of two of the stormtroopers in his squad as they entered the theater through a large set of wooden double dors. "Cover the entrance, let no one in or out" He said and then continued on with the rest of the squad.
"This is bull" Fox complained as he reluctantly, almost immaturely, kicked the wall as the rest of the squad went deeper into the theater.
"See anything Norz?" Trace asked as they moved through the theater, their flashlight attachments on the ends of their rifles now bright as they looked around. Norz, holding a small device which was pinging outwards, had yet to find anything.
"Nothin here sarge" He said. "Looks like this place is as dead as the Jedi scum" He said, glancing around the shadows cast by the large pillars in the room.
"I would be careful what you say soldier...your words might very well become true" The knight that was with them said. "Hethrir do you copy?" He said into a comlink he had just pulled out.
"Yes I read you Tremayne. I have the fourth squad searching the basement as we speak and am now checking the rooftop with the other" The other knight said over the com. "Wait...we just lost contact with fourth squad" Hethrir said and the room became dead quite.
"MOVE!" Trace roared and ran towards one of the nearby entrances to the basement, Norz and another trooper hot on his heels. They practically vaulted down the stairs and came down to the bottom just as a vague figure decapitated the last of the stormtroopers in Fourth Squad with it's glowing blue lightsaber.
"Fire! Fire!" Trace screamed and opened up with his own E-11 carbine. The rifle shots all missed and the ones that did hit were deflected. One of the bolts went soaring past the sergeant and slammed into the shoulder of the trooper behind Norz, missing the former by a few scant inches as the latter crashed into the floor screaming in pain.
"Nooiker is hit! Repeat Nooiker is HIT!" Norz shouted over the com as more stormtroopers poured down the stairs. The figure however was already on it's way across the room to another entrance.
"Oh no you don't!" Trace shouted and ran after the figure. He barged into the staff room and scrambled up the ladder after the fleeing attacker. Between the speed the figure was fleeing at and the fact that it had a lightsaber, Trace realized suddenly that they were chasing a Jedi Knight the same kind that the Emperor had declared were all supposed to be dead.
"Don't worry sarge we got em!" Fox shouted over the com. There was a distant sound of laser fire and the hum of a lightsaber.
"No dang it disengage! Do you hear me? Disengage!" He ordered over the com, realizing that his men were outmatched in this fight and that they needed one of those Imperial Knights to deal with the Jedi.
"Fox look out!" Fween shouted and then a loud, pain laced scream filled the com as Trace finally made it to the top of the ladder and, to his horror, watched as Fween, his friend, his pal, the guy whose life he had saved countless times on Piia and vise versa, cut down by a Jedi.
"NO!" He screamed and raised his carbine, letting loose a torrent of laser fire, however the Jedi blocked all of it easily and ran out of the double doors near the entrance as Fox, whose chest plate was slightly slashed as well, began removing Fween's armor to try and preform CPR on the deceased Corporal.
"Fox..." Sergeant Aleei said softly, the rest of the unit having already given chase to the Jedi as he fled the area. "He's dead...gone" He said. The man before him still pushed on the dead Corporal's chest. "His freaking right side is gone Fox! Just stop!" He shouted at last and watched as the surprised private looked at the missing portion of Fween's body as if he had never known it was gone. He most likely never had. "Just...stop..." He said and Fox nodded mutely.
"He...died for me..." He said solemnly. "Oh Force he died because of me" Fox said and dropped his head into his hands as he sobbed.
Sergeant Trace Aleei promptly walked outside to give the man space.
Outside, Trace found more of his men, as well as several from First Squad, littering the street. Obviously back up had arrived because these corpses sported blaster marks of varying size and intensity. "Sirs!" He said and came to attention before the two knights who were muttering to each other darkly.
The tall, skinny Knight glared at him with his one good eye. "Fool! I told you to make sure he didn't escape! I also told you I do not like failure" He seethed.
"Now, now Tremayne" The tall, bulky blond Knight said. "Master asked us to keep these men alive and killing one in rage won't help us when we ask for more men. Olin is still here on the planet, so obviously he's not long gone yet" The man concluded. He then turned to Trace. "Sergeant, contact the ship and order a planet wide lock down. It is to shoot down or capture any vessel entering or leaving the system" He ordered and Trace saluted him before turning to his task.
"Hello again Tyber" Kroaaan Scroix said pleasantly as a scowling Tyber Zann appeared on his holo transceiver. "I thought about your offer and I decided...yes it would be delightfully fun to go and throw Xizor off his pedestal for awhile" Kroaaan said as Tyber nodded.
"Good. I'll send you the coordinates and data for the mission within the hour" The crime lord said and Kroaaan nodded. "You had better show up" He said, his eyes narrowing before the transmission shut off.
"Do you think he knows?" Navisha, his second in command, asked from behind him. The two were sitting on the bridge of Kroaaan's flagship, the Ensemble, watching the stars after the transmission ended.
"Oh he knows" Kroaaan said, his cheerful attitude now gone and replaced by a ice cold calculating one as he planned out his next move. "The real trick is how to get the Xizor in on the plan without alerting Tyber to the fact that he was about to be double crossed."
"You truly area evil man" Navisha stated calmly.
"Oh you now it" Kroaaan said smugly.
The clinking and dinging of fine dining could be heard in the distance as the more youthful members of the Imperial Elite moved to the dance floor. Luke Skywalker felt like he was on top of the world as he spun Mara Jade around the dance floor, both of them laughing. The upbeat, fast pace song quickly died down and turned to a much slower one that allowed Mara to fit snugly against Luke's chest as they slowly circled around the dance floor.
"This is a really nice place...you did a good job" Mara whispered to him as she placed her head on his shoulder, her right ear tickling his neck slightly as he nodded.
"You helped build it too you know" Luke said with a smile as he looked around at the giant building they were inside.
The massive Temple of the Empire was Devon D'Gor's tribute to nineteen years of strong rule by the Galactic Empire. It was a massive, solid black pyramid with a large red blocky line running through the center. The very top floors of the pyramid however were solid glass, including the point at the top. Inside there was a large reception hall, a throne room, a dining hall, vault, Imperial Shrine room and a secret conference chamber. Currently, the party was being held in the first three rooms, with the Emperor and his court conversing in the throne room, the females and young children of the Imperial Elite were dining and the young adults of the Empire's most powerful families were dancing in the reception hall as the Imperial Orchestra played some of it's finest symphonies.
The marble floors and stone walls were beautifully designed with patterns of colorful stones and symbols of various worlds having been carved carefully into the walls. Where there was not a design there were tapestries and statues and paintings. The Temple was fit for a king and indeed Palptaine was using it as such, attending a party that was in fact outside the Palace was unheard of, as only military matters ever drew the Emperor out of his fortress, let alone a party.
Twirling the redhead in his arms, Luke sensed his father watch him from the throne room through the force.
My son be careful with that girl
Father she is harmless, she is loyal you know that! There is nothing to fear
Still I feel you should not so openly project affections to someone in public...
Luke, at that point, simply ignored his father and continue to dance with Mara for several more songs before retiring to the dining hall to eat.
"So we have a mission slated for us huh?" Mara said as she ate a delicate brown fish that had been cut into the symbol of the empire and glazed in a light sauce and sprinkled with salt.
"Yes" Luke said as he thought about the mission details. "The Emperor wants us to go to the Coltos sector and investigate a recently discovered system. He's sending us with father and a detachment of stormtroopers" Luke said, keeping his voice quiet, knowing he shouldn't be giving out information in public, but he and Mara could hear better then the average human when using the force. To most it would appear they were barely moving their lips at all.
"Any word on Nasha?" Mara asked, her eyes showing the fear she held inside her that her friend would not recover from the horrible transformation she had suffered on the Tryysk mission.
Luke's eyes clouded and he himself felt rather sorrowful. He had been in charge and she had been hurt because he had wanted to go on, when she had suggested they go back. "The healers are not sure yet...they won't know for some time...the effects sometimes lessen and sometimes they grow stronger..." He said, trying not to choke up. Mara gripped his hand under the table.
"Listen" Mara said, her voice ice cold, leaving no room for argument. "What happened there happened ok? Blaming yourself won't help her and it won't help you...so just...just try and not think about it" Mara said as she stood. "I'm sorry I brought it up" She added and pulled him with her. "Let's go somewhere were we don't have to be Imperial Knights and can just be Luke and Mara" She whispered.
Luke had to admit, the architecture was done perfectly. From the ideal location atop one of the larger sectors of Imperial City to it's glass walls, the top of the structure provided a breathtaking view.
"You were right" He said, brushing his lips against the back of her ear as he held her, the two of them sitting on the floor in front of the glass wall. This section of the building wasn't required for the ceremony, so it had not been completed yet, but they were able to make do without any furniture.
"Mmhm" Mara said, leaning back into him as he brushed her ear. That felt really good to her for some reason. "Now I can kiss you all I want and not have to worry about the court seeing us" She said slyly and leaned her head back, twisting just enough to capture his lips.
Yes my son?
Palpatine sat on his throne, talking to several of the powerful moffs and politicians of the Empire while Vader stood off to the side, quietly conversing with several upper officers off the fleet. Both however were more concerned with their own conversation through the force.
Luke and Mara left the party...their upstairs
I am aware, I have been watching them Anakin...well for the most part. They are young, but they are not THAT foolish. I trust young Luke to not go farther then he should.
You are aware that he is MY son and that I went to far during the middle of an actual war with a senator. He's making out with a fellow Knight in the temple attic...
I trust you will intervene if things go to far
I HAVE been trying to intervene, but you keep stopping me.
At the time I trusted Luke's judgment.
Father I worry about your judgment at times...