Stories of the Republic

The Raid

Postby Dapper Dog » Fri May 18, 2018 8:03 pm

The hum of the repulsorlift engines rose to a near scream as the transport climbed. Niall barely noticed, though. His attention was fixed on the console in front of him. Data flickered across it rapidly: altitude, distance to target, and, perhaps most crucial of all, a chronometer. They’d planned this operation as precisely as possible. So far, so good.

Niall raised his wrist communicator to his mouth, keying it on. “Ensign Vita. Engage silent mode.” He smiled at the quiet aye, captain he heard in return, almost swallowed by the whine of the engines. It had taken them a while to get that down. A moment later, and the transport shuddered, leveling off. The whine became a quiet hum, gliding towards its destination.

If the estate’s scanners picked them up, an alarm would trigger. It was silent. Breathing a sigh of relief, Niall turned towards his team. It was interesting how every soldier had their little ritual before entering battle. He saw the enormous Gar’eda muttering something, an amulet clasped in his hand. Chet just sat nearly motionless, his chest rising and falling as he breathed in and out, seemingly meditating. Vera was doing one final equipment check, vibroknife in hand. Catching Niall’s eye, she grinned.

“Ready when you are, Captain Alderaan!” she called. A chuckle ran through the rest of the soldiers. Niall grinned, shaking his head. Just another way that the Mandalorian Irregulars behaved a little bit differently from other units. There were ten people in that transport, all in all, not counting the pilot. Or him. Irregular by nature as well as name, but also very good at what they did.

“Good,” he said. No sign of nervousness was apparent in his cultured Alderaanian accent. “Less than a minute to the ‘senator’s’ estate. If half of what we suspect is true, we’re doing a good thing by taking him down.”

“Good enough to get me a statue?” Vera chuckled, sheathing her vibroknife and crossing her arms.

“We’ll see.” Niall said with a twist of his lips. He turned back to the console. Two minutes to target. He resisted the urge to tap his hand or fiddle with his blaster or anything like that. He wanted to appear calm, in control.

Suddenly, Vera was there next to him. He’d scarcely heard her move. Not surprising. She leaned a little closer to him.

“Nervous, Cap? Don’t worry. We’ve done this before.” She patted him reassuringly on the back. Apparently she’d seen right through him.

“Maybe a little.” Niall said, his lips pressing together. “It’s a big mission. And the first one I’ve actually done with you lot.” He smiled. “Besides, it’s the commanding officer’s job to worry. You know that as well as I do.”

Vera grinned in response, shrugging. “Suppose so. Well, I know you can handle it. Just like you know I can handle my part.” She clapped him on the back once more, hard; Niall winced. It was a bionic arm, after all. “Be careful out there, Niall.”

“You too, Vera.” One more smile, friend to friend, and Niall was all business again. It was time. He lifted his communicator to his mouth. “We’re in position. Open her up on my mark.” A brief pause. “Mark.”

The rear door to the transport opened into darkness and whistling wind. Vera shot him one last grin before turning, striding casually towards that dark opening. She slowed just a moment to blow a kiss at Chet, which Niall did his best not to see.

“See you in a few!” she said. And with that, her casual stride not breaking, she stepped out of the transport, vanishing in the blink of an eye. Niall heard a gasp from one of the soldiers. Sergeant Javus, Niall remembered.

“Did she just jump without a parachute?” The sergeant asked. Though not as big as Gar’eda, Javus was a big man. And a worrier, Niall knew, especially about the other people in the unit. Niall liked that about him.

“Technically, yes.” Niall said, lips curling up. “She’s got a miniature jetpack, though. Has to be silent and invisible, so it only has about two seconds of charge. More than enough for her.” He hoped. If it misfired, she’d have no time to respond before she hit the ground. A lot could go wrong. Again, Niall stood casually, radiating calm. His eyes flickered over, checking the chronometer as the door closed.

Static crackled in his earbud. “On the ground.” Vera’s voice came in a whisper. Niall sighed inwardly in relief . “I think this is the first time someone’s done a jump like this.” Vera went on. “Make sure they mention this on my statue’s plaque!” Niall chuckled softly, even as he turned to the rest of the group.

“Right.” He began. “You all know why we’re here. And what’s at stake. There’s no turning back. If we fail to expose Ras Urdo’s crimes, no doubt we’ll be arrested ourselves.” He smiled. “But I’m not worried about that. Because I’ve got ten of the bravest, toughest soldiers in the Republic here with me.” A pause, allowing some muted cheers. “I’d trust each and every one of you with my life.” He gave each a nod or a glance. “Now. Let’s go put that scumbag behind bars where he belongs!”

Niall turned his attention away from a few more enthusiastic whoops as his earpiece crackled again. He quickly took a seat, strapping himself in securely. “Just one guard. No problem.” He heard Vera whisper. The microphone was a good one. He heard the quiet hum of a vibro-knife. A whisper of steel. A wet gurgle, going on for a surprisingly long time. Turning his head so the Mandalorians couldn’t see, Niall clenched his teeth.

“Okay.” Vera’s whisper. “That’s it. Comms, alarms, and radar shutting off… now. Coast is as clear as it’s gonna get.” A glance at the console confirmed what she said. The exterior defense systems of the estate were down. Good, but they were far from done. If their intel was correct, there was a lot more waiting for them inside.

Taking a deep breath, Niall keyed on his communicator. “Ensign Vita. Go.” The Mandalorian pilot acted instantly. The transport went into a dive, descending rapidly. Niall could feel his stomach twist in response, his teeth gritting hard. It was a dozen seconds, perhaps two dozen, and the engines suddenly howled, the transport surging forward, as Vita forced the craft into a sudden landing.

Niall was thrown back in his seat, and then still. They were down, the transport door already opening. In an instant all the Mandalorians were on their feet, Niall with them a moment later. Silent and with perfect precision, they rushed outside, the rush of cold air on his face calming Niall’s stomach.

“One guard in a tower, south-southwest. Two-hundred meters distant, twenty-meter elevation.” Vera’s voice came.

Niall nodded. “Chet. You got him.” The Mandalorian didn’t bother to respond. His long slugthrower was already up, aiming in the appropriate direction, Chet looking through the scope. The rifle jerked once, the silencer keeping the sound of the gunshot to a loud pop.

“Got him.” Chet lowered his rifle. Well, that was that. Niall nodded, turning to survey their position. Vita had put them down right in front of Ras Urdo’s overlarge, garish home. It was designed to mimic the Coruscant style in miniature, rising up far more stories than was necessary. But it was what was in the basement that they were after.

“Chet, Gar’eda, take the front. Make sure no one gets in until we get what we’re after.” Both nodded, Gar’eda unslinging his heavy repeater from his back. “Everyone else, with me. Vera, meet up with us if you can. Just like we’ve done a hundred times before.” And they’d done a hundred times before him.

The soldiers formed up around him as they all rushed rapidly towards the entrance, staying low. The house was silent as they approached, all the way up to the front door. Niall pulled out the counterfeit keycard he’d had made especially for this. The door chimed as he swiped it, the only sound besides wind and the occasional rattle of tactical gear. Too quiet, Niall thought.

The door slid open. Two soldiers took the lead, moving quickly, splitting off left and right. The little group pushed onward, towards the secret door to the basement; no longer secret thanks to some excellent reconnaissance work. Trained in stealth, the tread of the Mandalorians’ boots was soft, as were the muted whispers of “clear” coming from the two pointmen as they checked room after room. As garish on the inside as it was on the outside.

“I’m here.” Vera’s whisper came just before they saw her stepping out from a side room, her words enough to cut across any nervous reflexes. Niall nodded. The hallway was a long one; an exceptionally able observer might call it unusually long. After all, it needed space for the hidden door.

Niall pulled a transmitter from his utility belt. They’d scanned and copied the frequency, imprinting it on this device. If it didn’t work… two wooden panels slid apart, revealing a metal staircase leading downward. Leaving two more behind to guard the rear, the group descended. From here, they had no idea what they’d find.

They found a fight.

It began without warning. The staircase led into a room that looked like it belonged in a nightclub, with neon lights and cushions strewn all about. The guards, four of them, came rushing through a heavy security door just as Niall and his soldiers came rushing in, both groups spotting each other at the same time.

Niall twisted, hitting the ground, bright red blaster fire passing over his head. He could feel the familiar heat of it as it scorched the wall behind him, superheated fragments of metal spattering his body. He could feel a twinge in his chest from his old injury. I wonder where Luth is right now? The irrelevant thought came even as he scrambled for cover on his hands and knees, blaster fire and the occasional slugthrower round all around him.

He could hear another door slide open, off to the side. Niall rose, coming to one knee, his pistol in his hands. “Left flank! Bring them down!” He called. As always, his soldiers reacted instantly, moving to counter the enemies’ maneuver. This turned it into a straight up firefight, but he knew his soldiers were better trained, better motivated.

That didn’t mean there wouldn’t be problems, though. Nearby, Niall saw Private Codra stumble back, sparks flying from his chest. He tumbled to the ground, groaning.

“Covering fire!” Niall called. The sounds of blaster fire grew louder. Gritting his teeth, Niall dove across the gap. Reaching out, he got a solid grip on Codra, pulling him further behind the wall. Niall’s hand plunged into a pocket, pulling out a stimpack. He stuck it into the other man’s arm, and was rewarded as his color immediately improved.

Niall dropped back into cover. “Vera! We need to get to the command console before it’s too late! Punch a hole for me!” If one of them could delete the data they were after, this would all be for nothing.

“Aye, Cap!” Her reply was punctuated by a sudden burst from her slugthrower, and the pounding of feet. He didn’t need to wait and see the results. He knew she’d handle it. He rushed forward, dashing towards the security door. He heard one of his soldiers follow him.

A guard room became a boardroom, a large ornate desk in front of a the far wall. And a console atop it. What really drew the eye was the guard pouring some sort of liquid over it, the pungent smell hitting his nostrils even from this distance.

“Drop it!” Niall called, his tone sharp. The guard went for her weapon, and Niall dropped her instead with another precisely aimed bolt. A glance back found Sergeant Javus with him, covering the door, sticking close. Niall hurried around the desk, his lips pressing together at the smell, burnt flesh mingling with chemical accelerator. He keyed on the console, his fingers flickering across the controls. “I’ve got you, sir.” He heard Javus say.

A few moments was all it took. Niall smiled. “We’ve got it. This has everything. Names, meetings, deals, bribes, shipments. This is what we wanted.” He sighed, smiling as he shook his head. “Let’s-”

Javus shoved him suddenly, the burly sergeant easily sending Niall to the floor. He landed heavily, coughing as the air left his lungs. Blaster fire burned through the air where he’d just stood. A moment passed, and Javus crumpled. Even before Niall saw the ruin of a throat where the blaster bolt had hit him, he saw his eyes, blank and staring.

His lips pressing together, Niall concentrated. He could hear two sets of boots coming into the room. They’d doubtless come around both sides… Niall rolled, coming around the side of the desk. His rapidly aimed blaster fire hit the guard once, twice, three times, sending them to the ground.

The other… Niall turned just in time to see Vera close on the remaining guard. There was a barely audible hum as her bionic arm reached out, catching him by the throat. The man choked as he was lifted from the ground, legs kicking uselessly. A momentary pause, and Vera slammed him into the wall with bone-crushing force.

There was silence.

Niall rose to his feet, breathing heavily. Vera approached, a wry smile on her lips.

“We got what we came for, Cap?” She asked. Niall nodded wordlessly. She went on. “Good. We’ve got the rest of the place secured. Let’s go bust a senator, huh?”

Niall smiled. “Yes, let’s. Another one for the history books, Vera. You’ll get that statue in no time.” Vera grinned in response, although the grin faded as her gaze fell on the fallen Javus.

“I’ll get the squad ready.” Vera said, nodding once. Two soldiers came in, helping to copy and secure the console. Niall sighed as he reached down. His fingers brushed across Javus’ eyes, closing them for the last time.

Every breath I take, for the rest of my life, I can take because you gave up yours. It was not a new feeling for Niall. As a noble of Alderaan, his shelter, his meals, his education and training all came from the hard work of others. For his entire life people had been paying his way, if not with money, than with blood.

“All set, sir.” The tech straightened, saluting. Niall’s chin tilted up as he returned the salute crisply. If he owed so much to so many, he would just have to work that much harder to repay their kindness.

Perhaps someday it would be enough.
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