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Assault Dropship, HMW Redemption's Fire Hangar Bay, In Orbit over Separatist Alliance controlled Byzral

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Vicus stood in solemn silence observing the battalions of the Empire's finest board the dropships destined to be the first Imperials heading down to the planet of Byzral. The Allied fleet had dealt a swift and hammering blow to the defending enemy fleet in orbit with steady ease. Now with the Separatist Alliance ships out of the way came the task of the land forces to pull the planet out from their steely grip. Each of his warriors were ready and able to their utmost to fight for their Empire, their Empress, and their home.

The 8th and attachments of the 431st Regiment were fully equipped for the fight, awaiting clearance from the Bridge to commence the surface invasion. Amongst the disciplined troops marching to their transports, Vicus saw the Chamaele making their way alongside the Chimeran soldiers. The 8th possessed 100 of the large loyalist reptilians in total. All from the same clan who served with distinction in the famed regiment since their inclusion into the Empire a millennia ago. The hulking form of Shevko joined the troops aboard the dropship he stood in, making his way to the back of the craft.

For the first time in his species' history they were going beyond their borders to invade another intergalactic power. Vicus would be lying to himself if his nerves didn't twitch a little at the notion. No doubt every being both within the Imperial forces and that of the UECAF wanted to leave a good impression on these aliens to be seen as liberators, not conquerors.

The loud echoing, heavy clatter of metallic feet belonging to the complement of CRAB walkers and their smaller cousins, the Tri-Pincer platforms trudging over to the bigger transports brought his observant eyes from his troops to the Imperial machines of war. From what he had heard by those in the command chain within the battle group there was a rivalry forming between who possessed the better walkers in the combined fleet. Vicus knew the Tri-Pincer platforms, despite their age at having been in service as far back as the Purist War with little modifications made since, would best the UECAF's Prowlers. As for the human's 'Talos' siege platforms he couldn't really make judgement due to the lack of experience in seeing the machines in action. It was of curious thought as to why the humans still used tracked tanks and armoured vehicles. A primitive concept, but like most of their ally's arsenal they have proven to be effective, despite being lesser advanced models.

Once the last of his warriors stepped aboard the dropships he placed his helmet over his head and pulled it on, to the sound of the familiar pressurised hiss from it connecting to the rest of his battle armour. A small flash of white in the corner of his visor alerted him to an incoming call.

"Hikar'an." Vicus answered.

"All defending ships have been eliminated. The task is now on you to take the surface, Commander." The voice of High Captain Turchar'an came through.

"About time, High Captain. You took too long clearing a steady path for us."

"Ha, perhaps next time we should jettison you over the planet?" His friend jested over the Comm. "You are clear to depart, my friend. May the Gods grant you a swift victory." The connection ended as he joined the rest of his troops aboard the Assault Dropships. The side doors closed behind him with a soft clamp as the engines were brought to life, echoing the faint murmuring hum produced by the repulsorlifts they were fitted with.

The dropship gave a sharp jolt as it flew out from the safety of the cruiser's shielded hangar, alongside dozens more of its kind flying toward their target. Vicus turned to his troops who all had one hand gripping tightly to the balance hooks above their heads. Each one faced forward, their expressions and thoughts hidden behind their visors. All were quiet, waiting for the coming battle. To the back he saw the Chimeran warrior responsible for carrying their regimental banner on his back. A great honour to carry through bloodshed and plasma for the glory of the Empire and the regiment.

The silver and yellow coloured banner held in its centre the twin stars, Tius and Melia, of the Sol'ia System. The very suns that shone Secaria to the galaxy. Beneath the stars was a cross of arms consisting of an energy-mace and a blue plasma bladed lightsaber, in tribute to the legendary Master Alana Kurica. Vicus wondered if this war would create such legends and heroes as the fabled, mystic warrioress.

Tapping on the CyberTool installed into his gauntlet, Vicus highlighted the list of officers onboard the other dropships and selected a private channel to be established.

"Kilr'us, here."

"Hek'ot, reporting."

"Robson, here."

"Getr'us, here." The chorus of names of his subordinates echoed over the comm link.

"This is it, warriors. Imperial and Commonwealth naval forces have given us an opening to wipe the wretched blight of the Separatists' machines from the civilised galaxy. The task High Command has bestowed upon us will be an eventful and challenging one. Stick to the battle plan and we will have Byzral liberated from the claws of the cowardly CIS hiding behind their machine horde before the next rotation. These senseless droids will know the might of the Empire and our Commonwealth allies." Vicus spoke with conviction, riling the spirits of his officers for the coming battle.

"Amen to that." Robson responded.

"We'll have the factory district captured long before the primates raise their colours over the capital." Kilr'us said with unshaken confidence. Vicus wasn't ignorant of the challenging edge in the Pack Master's tone deliberately directed at the lead officer of the human attachment to his forces. The reply came in the shape of a snort unfitting of a female.

"We may surprise you, ugly." Major Robson's tag on his HUD flickered as she spoke.

"The machines have turned the factory district into a fortress. Make no mistake, this will be a true test of our baptisms of fire into this war." Commander Getr'us stated, bringing the others back to the seriousness of the coming battle awaiting them down on Byzral.

Vicus agreed with the 431st's Commander's proclamation. Jurasia, Kotia and even the battle on the human colony of New Babylon had proven they were more than a match for these invaders. However, this time they are crossing over to enemy borders. Marching on their home grounds. The scout drones gave invaluable data on the Separatists' defences to High Command, showing what the task force was up against. It may have highlighted what they were facing, but didn't do anything in terms of lowering expectations of a hard, grueling fight ahead.

"A baptism which will mark our respective Regiments opening contribution to putting an end to the Confederacy threat, once and for all." A roar of approval from the troops aboard the dropship came in response to his statement. "Brace for an unsteady approach. Our bombers may have strafed their anti fighter defences, but it is likely some may still remain to hassle our landings."

"Don't worry about us, Commander, we'll get there with little issue. See you dirtside." Major Robson signed off brazenly.

"As shall we, Commander." Hek'ot said more formally in respect of command.

"May the Gods be with you, all of you. Hikar'an out." Vicus ended the call, prepping his mind back to the war.

In front he saw the pilot meddle with the dropship's controls, directing the craft straight to their targeted destination. The viewport from his angle only showed a tiny portion of the planet, due to the ship's design of restricting the use of materials seen as leaving overly exposed weak points. Vicus didn't need the viewport's assistance to know the swarm of assault craft were following their exact flight path, each filled with eager and duty bound soldiers of the Empire. The conflict ahead will be a perilous one, of which he vowed he'll do his utmost to return to his spouse and children alive, and relatively intact..

The troop compartment stayed quiet all through the journey, even as the view screen lit up with a fiery tinge from entering the atmosphere. Though their tongues remained silent, Vicus knew their minds were not. Their train of thought would without a doubt be similar to his own. Warriors of the Imperial Army they were unquestionably, but they were still Chimera. Each one had families they hoped to see again once the CIS menace was eliminated.

The blinking light of an incoming message flickered on his HUD, drawing his focus off speculative dwellings of the males and females of the 8th Regiment. Redirecting the message on his CyberTool the sender ID earned his curiosity as it identified the tag as Tuchar'an's. It appeared the UEC's forces were blessed with the honour of engaging the enemy first. A minor part of Vicus felt disappointed at this admission, however, this would be the first of many battles to come. Relenting their human allies this credit was no issue.

"Commander, pilot crews approaching from the eastern sector are reporting heavy surface to air fire." The pilot informed him. The echoing of heavy cannon fire and the hard rocking of the dropship followed the pilot's words almost instantly.

"It would appear we have the same problem." He said calmly as enemy air defences aimed their way.

The dropship shook violently from the incoming fire, causing Vicus to brace the side wall of the troop compartment with one hand as the enemy welcomed his warriors to the battlefield. Dread prodded at his nerves over the real possibility of becoming a casualty of war before setting foot on the planet. To his personal gratitude and his beliefs to the deities of the Chimeran people, those fears were allayed by the dropship descending upon Byzral's battered surface.

The split doors of the assault transport departed sideways to the crimson rain of Separatist war droids' energy bolts cascading down on the Imperial forces. Vicus jumped out of the transport first, waving for his troops to follow suit. He heard the pilot's voice bidding them good tidings amidst the storm of fire.

The drop point soon became crowded with transports disembarking their contingents of warriors and assault walkers. Heavier, explosive rounds from plasma cannons fixed on the battle placements on the walls joined the fray, targeting the transports with lethal effect. One dropship ten metres from his position was hit by multiple rounds by one such cannon leaning over the wall. The resulting impact tore through its frontal armour straight into the troop compartment, reducing the craft into a fiery ball of death. Death was certain for those still onboard and unfortunate enough to be within its blast radius.

The loss of those few dropships didn't deter the rest from going about their objective in dropping off the troops belonging to the 14th Imperial Army group facing the northern entrance of the factory district.

"Keep to cover, wait for the walkers to breach the wall!" Vicus commanded his troops.

He scanned the surrounding area for a spot with good enough cover to deliver suppressive fire on the entrenched droid units. There was little in terms of artificial cover, except for a few barricades and hover carts. Up ahead he saw a squad sheltering behind a Tri-Princer platform, firing over the walker's protective metal hide as it unleashed blast after blast of plasma streams from each of its weapon arms. The remaining options of cover offered by the landscape was a collection of mounds pushing up from the slodged dirt ground caused by the pelting of the droids gun emplacements.

Vicus fired a burst from his Heavy Carbine at the defenders manning the walkways atop the factory walls. The massive structure that encircled the entire district stood at least 50 metres in height and the ferrocrete like material used in its construction offered a great deal of adequate protection against all but the most powerful of calibres. Black smoke billowed out from several positions along the wall's walkway, showing evidence of the pre invasion bombing runs.

Despite knocking out dozens of the defensive emplacements, many remained in operation to hamper their advance. Vicus heard the roar of a few Chamaele as they fired up at the droid defences. A blast from one of the designated B2 super battle droids chipped at his shields, draining their power levels to 72 percent. Vicus silently cursed to himself at the shot, and the lack of proper cover. Already their exposure claimed enough Imperial lives to warrant anger at the slow progress of the CRAB walkers to reach their position.

He spotted out from the combination of smoke and blaster fire a newly formed crater from an enemy artillery shell. The blast created enough of a dirt barrier to offer a temporary shield against the open fields. Firing a parting shot at the defenders, he ran to the piece of cover with four soldiers who possessed the same idea. Peeking up from the crater face, Vicus joined his warriors in firing at the droids bearing their guns down at them. His HUD picked out suitable targets for his carbine to return righteous fire. The tracker had little issue highlighting dozens of machines, due to their lack of sense and common practice for staying out in the open.

Pulling the trigger, round after round of plasma aimed true to his intended prey. Two B1 war droids went down from the concentrated fire from his and those of his troops on either side of him. Red and white energy bolts pelted at each other, never ceasing the onslaught by their handlers. The ear-splitting roar of an explosion bellowed out several feet from his position, as a pair of AA turrets turned their attention away from the transports and to a Tri-Pincer. The mobile platform's entire left side erupted into a fireball. The explosion tore into its steelium hull plating. The dying flail of the platform claimed the lives of the surrounding troops using its approach as cover.

Vicus cursed as the Imperial machine fell to the ground in a heap. Its burning carcass provided new protection for a squad taking up positions of the parts not consumed by flames. Vicus blasted at a B1 model battle droid carelessly firing without concern for its survival atop the wall, striking its boxy shaped torso with two well placed shots.

Lowering his head down from a flurry of blaster fire, he scrolled through his commlink options for the officer's ID in charge of the CRAB walkers.

"Arms Master, where are the walkers?!" Vicus growled into the comm as soon as the link was established. "We can not breach the frontal entrance without their cannons!"

"The air defences forced the transports to deploy us further away from the objective drop points, Commander. We will reach your position momentarily." The Arms Master replied.

"See that you do."

"Commander Hikar'an, do you copy?" The voice of the Commonwealth Marines commander came through his comm link.

"Report, Major." Vicus answered the human.

"We have breached the south entrance. Your flyboys sure did a number on their defences. We're moving in to secure district sectors five through six."

"Commander Hikar'an, we have broken through the western defences. We will proceed to the capture points with haste." Hek'ot reported his own success.

"Press the attack. We have yet to puncture the northern entrance. Our walker support has been delayed by their air defences. Proceed as planned and do not postpone your advance. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Commander."

"You got it. Robson out." His subordinates signed off.

Terminating the link from his subordinates, a less than comfortable shot from a droid blaster pinged beside him as another struck the shields of the soldier beside him in the crater. Vicus cursed the bomber pilots tasked with taking out the heavy gun emplacements for their lack of precision.

His HUD picked out more droids dull enough to expose themselves too long for the tracker to identify them as his next target. A B2 model was spotted first with the spotter tag highlighting a lock on confirmation. Two bursts from his carbine followed but unlike the machine's smaller brethren, the B2 didn't fall straight away from the super heated plasma crashing into its metal body. Through his enhanced visor, Vicus saw it stumble back with traces of smoke and sparks spitting out from the parts his bolts hit it.

It, however, still remained upright and continued firing relentlessly at his warriors with less than stable balanced stance. A bolt further down the field delivered a killing blow to the war droid as it fell backwards from view. Another burst of enemy fire was directed at him managing to clip his right shoulder and bring his shields down to 40 percent. The blow, however, did cause a small dose of pain from the collision that he shrugged off, compared to the more fatal result to the warrior beside him who bore the brunt of the cascading energy fire. Small freshly singed holes littered the unfortunate soldier's helmet and frontal armour from multiple direct hits that brought his shields down. The warrior's death grip still held down the trigger of his plasma rifle as it fired directionless at the wall.

Target after target was tracked by his HUD searching for more of the soulless constructs. With fury he fired up at the wall's defenders hitting anything that his tracker picked out in red as an enemy combatant. It was only after striking down another of the skeletal B1s did he notice one of the AA canons was rotating toward his position.

"Move, quickly! Don't let it track you!" Vicus ordered the soldiers within the crater.

Upon standing to escape the hostile glare of the enemy gun emplacement before it could turn them into a mess of blood and meat, a sudden plume of fire erupted across the defensive line of the wall's walkway. The AA cannon that had been brought to bear on him and the warriors nearby had disappeared in that very same eruption. Vicus felt perplexed at the ignition across the wall lighting it up like a wrathful inferno. The destruction was a welcoming sight but what caused it mired a moment of confusion until the loud clatter of a metallic nature stomped behind him

Turning to the source of the noise, Vicus felt his spirit rise and revived determination at the trio of CRAB walkers approaching from the rear of the frontal attack group. The colossal pincer arms on the battle platforms spewed out rays of crystalline silver beams of plasma to the Separatist Alliance droids fielding the walls. Explosions followed wherever the beams hit as debris flew off the walls, both belonging to the mangled remains of the droids, the weapons emplacements and thick, hazardous chunks of the wall's durasteel masonry.

"As the human idiom goes, better late than never, Arms Master." Vicus spoke into his comm link to the walker's commander.

"The humans dream to possess our might, Commander." The Arms Master replied. "I suggest you ready your warriors for the breach."

Switching his comm to broadcast to the whole regiment for his next announcement, Vicus spectated the demolishment of the droids no longer stubborn defence atop the walls. "To all units, the walkers are preparing their assault on the factory district. Be watchful of their steps. It will not be an honourable death to be killed by our own machines."

Vicus could sense new vibrant energy in his troops as they held their position whilst the CRAB walkers advanced toward the battered and heat singed scarred fortified walls. The large armoured legs lifted and stomped at a steady pace through the fire of red laser. The one looming above Vicus casted a shadow over himself and the soldiers around him as its heavily armoured body stormed over the battlefield, shaped like a colossal crustacean monster that gave off an intimidating appearance to those that dared to face it combat.

Smaller gun turrets consisting of both energy and kinetic ammunition were spaced across the legs, its under belly and atop the crew compartment. Two long tubes extended out the cockpit of the walkers as the secondary armament, firing out singular blasts of plasma rounds. Though powerful, they weren't as deadly to that of the cannons built into the massive pincer-like appendages extending out of their dura-steelium hulls. The oversized barrels generated the beams into a spiraling charge before blasting out at the objects facing their deadly firepower.

Vicus returned back to the crater firing off a burst from his Heavy Carbine at what droids remained on the wall defences as their enemy now focused on the encroaching CRAB walkers. A hit from the last of the remaining AA batteries struck the front left leg of the lead walker, causing the machine to stumble from the impact but not enough to halt its advance for more than mere seconds. In kind the same walker returned fire on the battery's position turning it into a ball of flame and showering of debris.

"Can really do with that armour support, Commander." Robson said over the comm on the private channel.

"They shall be with you shortly, Major." Vicus grinned behind his helmet as he and his troops kept up the fire as the CRABs reached the now badly shelled hole ridden wall.

The lead CRAB extended its front legs upward placing the four talon like footpads on to the wall face, which was repeated by its two brethren taking up the flanks 15 metres apart. The walkers footpads magnetised on to the metallic surface of the wall, pulling up for their middle and hind legs to grip on to the district's encircling, high enclosure. The CRABs making their way up the shattered, cracked filled wall reminded Vicus of arachnid insects with how their bodies traversed up to lay waste to their mechanical enemy and destroy what powered the blue hued shield blocking the vast gate to the factories behind it.

Keeping a close eye on the last of the droids still manning the walkway, Vicus held his fire as he judged that all fire was now being concentrated on the walkers. The crimson rain of laser fire lessened on his troops, turning instead to pour on the siege platforms climbing up menacingly upward towards them. He caught sight of a lesser model droid aiming a missile launcher at the walker in the centre and fired at one of its pincers.

"Do not relent your fire. Cover the walkers from the cowardly machines! They must breach the wall!" Vicus ordered his warriors, just as the offending missile attack struck the pincer of the walker he had been observing.

The pincer arm banked stiffly backwards and knocked the next beam blast a little off course from its intended target. The beam of white sheared through the upper wall melting away the metalwork and burst out the walkway, causing it to collapse from the intense heat and energy puncturing through. The droids that had been unlucky enough to be in that exact spot either burned from the blast or fell with the destroyed, charred remains of what used to be the walkway crashing to the ground below.

Vicus saw the CRAB to the lead walker's right and was the first to climb over the top. It ignored all small arms fire peppering uselessly against its armoured hide and began descending the other side with its brethren following closely behind. Had it been an enemy that breathed air and experienced natural fear, Vicus knew their hearts would clench in terror at seeing the Imperial Army's most powerful ground vehicle pass through their futility of opposition with little effort.

He could almost sense the impatience and nerves of those around him as they awaited for the barrier to give way for their turn to enter the real battle inside. The fighting was dying down around them as the wall's defences were either no longer operational or were turning to face the greater threat in the CRABs. The lull didn't stop his troops from firing up at whatever droids were left. Even from the distance on either side of the wall, the roar of battle hadn't deafened.

Vicus found himself silently counting the minutes to the walkers' progression of destroying the power source to the shield barrier. Clouds of smoke and fire came from above on the other side of the wall. It was his hope those large plumes of destruction was not that of the CRABs meeting their demise before they could breach. The 8th Regiment needed to join the battle inside if the capture of the Factory District was to be a success. This of course relied on the humans capturing the planetary capital to make this liberation a subsequent success overall.

Antagonising minutes ticked by frustrating him further as he quickly became restless. Then, as if his impatient pleas were answered by the Gods themselves, a thunderous explosion boomed around him and his troops. From the direction it resonated from, Vicus saw brief flashes of electricity arc upward farther behind the western side of the wall. The arcs were joined by orange fire and black smoke, a show of whatever had been destroyed showing its death keel into death's embrace for all in the district, within and outside, to see. Seconds after, Vicus caught the welcoming sight of the barrier flickering then completely evaporating out of existence.

A chorus of roars and cheers sounded all around him as their entry into the battle inside was bared open for them. Vicus rushed to his feet and climbed out from the crate amidst the loud bellows of his warriors.

"Forward! For the Empress!" He called out through the open comm, ushering his arm forward in the direction of their opening.

"For the Empire!" All soldiers of the 8th shouted back in unison.

Imperial troops from across the front charged forward without hesitation or fear toward the now open gateway into the Factory District. He saw through the now flood of Imperial soldiers funneling to the entrance the Regimental banner fluttering in the wind farther down the horde, as well as the colours of the Empire not far behind. Stray bolts of red from droid blaster fire from the few battle droids left on the wall gangway peppered down but their futile attempts at halting their advance were ignored.

The lull that had drifted over their side of the battle came to an erupt end when Vicus passed the open gate to the fiercely fought, war torn landscape. The volume of blaster fire picked up with intensity as Imperial and Separatists energy weapons fired at each other in aggression. There to greet his troops were more of the CIS' battle droids, many of which were the apparent ubiquitous B1s and B2s but pocketed about their lines his HUD identified the bulbous, insectoid like DSD1 dwarf spider droid.

Judging by the sway of movement from their blasters pointing in a fluid motion toward his troops, Vicus correctly guessed upon entering the Factory District grounds they were not the droids original primary target when he saw three sleek armoured legs of a CRAB in the middle of the swarm of Imperial soldiers charging through firing at the enemy. Of the three that had climbed the wall he saw only one remaining at the entrance to cover their advance.

Several warriors fell from the droids fire but the momentum filled charge didn't stutter as machines fell in kind to counter fire. Vicus directed his fire toward the mass of droids being cut down by one of the anti-personnel turrets of the walker. The spider droids were especially tough from the onslaught bearing down on them. One soldier in particular in front was hit by the heavy blaster bolt from of the insectoid war droids, completely overwhelming his shields and leaving a skull sized hole in his torso as he dropped to the ground dead.

A series of animalistic screeches sounded next to him as a group of Chamaele ran forward, stampeding into the gathered droids like angered bull Ekus. Their huge frames battered into their foe with unwavering ferocity, breaking lines and causing confusion amongst some of the mechanical fighters. One he recognised as Shevko jumping over a bunch of B1s at a height thought impossible for creatures the size of Chamaele by those with little knowledge of their biology. The powerful legs of the reptilian species under Imperial protection were surprisingly flexible for their thick muscle mass.

Shevko landed on to a spider droid and began smashing mighty fists into the machine, causing it to stumble and lose balance as it tried to shake the Squad Minor off. The rest of their Chamaele warriors in arms gave the rest of his soldiers an opportunity to press forward. Vicus shot at a B2 battle droid turning to face him, blasting the machine down before it could aim its own wrist blaster at him. The combined firepower of his troops and the CRAB walker destroyed the majority of the droids blocking their path with the rest being gradually picked off.

"Nice of you to finally join the party, Commander." The voice of Major Robson cracked in his ear. Vicus ignored her, giving instead a grunt as he pushed forward with his warriors. He never understood why the humans jested and made irrelevant comments during the onset of a battle.

"You know your targets. Not one Separatist droid is to stand by the end of this day, is that understood?" Relayed through an open channel to all friendly forces in the district.

"You can count on it, Commander." Kilr'us responded through the comm.

Vicus glanced briefly at his HUD highlighting the map across his visor to where their main target was. It brought up a three dimensional image of a suspected administration building thought to house the planet's Manufacturing District's leadership. The image switching off and his objective clear, Vicus rallied his troops as they ventured forward into the fray which was of their liberation of Byzral's occupation from the Separatist's iron claw.

As he battled alongside his warriors to drive the droid army back he took note of several buildings becoming embattled and engulfed in flame. The Lord General wanted to avoid structural damage to the factories but it was nigh impossible once plasma and explosives were unleashed. Vicus hoped no innocents were trapped within the structures succumbing to the battlefield. He ejected a spent plasma cell from his Carbine and pressed another in replacement as they pushed deeper into the factory's foundation grounds.

In spite of an apparent lack of intelligence of battle tactics and surrounded by the allied forces closing in, the droids held a stubborn defence. A Tri-Pincer platform to his left came under fire from a Separatist tank that appeared through the thickened black smoke to Vicus' left flank, firing two consecutive rounds into its side causing it to stagger sideways. The Imperial walker rotated its upper body to face the offending tank and fired a triage of plasma beams out from its claw like armament to the hover-tank. All three connected with pinpoint precision, searing off strips of the hover-tanks armour plating.

The innards of the tank became exposed as its outer protection melted away leaving the crew inside vulnerable to small arms fire. One such tempting target by some of Vicus' troops was the tank's pilot who looked around in apparent panic at its new open view to the fight outside of the tank's cockpit. The turret, however, was largely undamaged by the beams and continued firing at the Tri-Pincer. Heavy blasts from the main gun of the hover-tank slammed into the right claw cannon rendering the arm useless as a shower of golden sparks spat from the laceration. In kind the walking platform fired again at the enemy armour with its operating cannons and unleashed another stream of white plasma beams at the tank. The droid pilot was engulfed in the blinding light of both energy beams that struck at the open cockpit, delivering the killing blow to the hover-tank as it erupted in a fiery display.

All around Imperial and Separatists war droids fell to unrelenting fire. Vicus heard a short pain filled grunt from a soldier beside him, and then a clattered thud to the other side as a tell tale sign another warrior was now on the journey to the Realm of the Gods. He spotted a decent location for cover in the shape of sliced, charred remains of what used to be a CIS walker, or as the captured intel had it named as an 'Octuptarra'. By the look of the damage inflicted on its carcass it had run afoul of one of the CRABs, of which he caught glimpse of the possible friendly perpetrator clinging up on to one of the larger factory structures above his head.

"Commander?" The flicker on Vicus' HUD lit up as the incoming ID of Hek'ot caught his attention away from the fight momentarily.

"Report." He said, shooting a bolt from behind his cover of the fallen walker.

"We're in close proximity to the administration hub and your position. Shall we link our forces together and simultaneously push through their defences?" The Junior Commander asked.

"Affirmative. Allow the walkers to soften the defences around the building first."

"I repeat, Commander Hikar'an?!" Major Robon's frantic voice came through the comm next.

"Report, Major." He answered.

"We're being driven back. Enemy armour seems to have come out of nowhere. Our Prowlers are either destroyed or knocked out of the fight. Request immediate armour support, over."

"Hold your post, Major. Help will be coming to aid you soon." Vicus said, ducking again from a stray blaster bolt pinging off the top of his cover. Switching his comm link from the embattled human Major to the CRAB walkers commanding officer. "Arms Master, I need you to head to the UEC marines position south of the district. Enemy tanks have stunted their advance and are in need of your guns."

"We'll head there at once, Commander." The Arms Master obeyed.

Severing the link, Vicus returned his focus back to the battle at hand as the Imperial forces pressed forward. He gave begrudging respect to the droids for putting up a stubborn, valiant defence even if it was down to what their CIS masters programmed into them. It wasn't enough to blunt the drive of the Imperial attack. He lost count of the amount of droids he had 'killed' as hundreds were shot, blown apart or crushed by Chimeran weaponry.

To his relief the streets and factories his forces had passed through with gruelling conflict eventually led to the main target, situated in a rectangular open space where more war droids awaited them. The Administration Hub was dwarfed by the complexes of factories surrounding it. It had a more streamlined and artifactual grace design, making it oddly out of place compared to the tall, cold exteriors of dark brown and black metallic masonry of the factories. Like the rest of the district it hadn't escaped the righteous fury of Imperial firepower. The surface of its walls were peppered with a range of different sized holes caused by plasma bolts or explosive shells.

In front of the main doors were a pair of AA turrets, each armed with four laser cannons firing large streaks of red energy bolts up at the fight craft and gunships flying overhead. The increased presence at their doorstep, however, drew their attention to a bigger threat in the vicinity. Vicus watched both turrets traverse their guns forward, aiming at the CRAB who'd been following his troops. Simultaneously they spat energy rounds at the walker clinging high up the factory side to their left flank. The heavy walker fired back two streams of white plasma beams of which neither properly struck the turrets, only causing further defacement to the Administration Hub and reducing nearby droids to smouldering husks.

What machines controlled those turrets appeared to have sense, much to Vicus dismay and to those Imperial forces around him who saw the laser fire strike the CRABs legs. With their combined firepower the turrets blew into the war construct's legs, causing it to waver in a frightening manner. Imperial troops were still coming down that route the CRAB was scaled above, and it's fall would block it and crush any soldier still there.

"Target the turrets. Keep them off the walker!" Vicus ordered loudly above the whine and dull pitch of blaster fire.

All blaster fire was aimed at the turret crews with a squad sized unit of Chamaele attempting to move ahead to bull through the droids to get at the weapon emplacements. One of the reptilians met a grizzly end when a missile launched out from one of the shattered windows of the Hub struck him, reducing the brave Chamaele warrior into a gory mess. Infuriated roars bawled by the dead Chamaele's brethren rung in the air as they pelted recklessly ahead with rage filled vigor. One other fell to a concentrated hail of blaster fire, as another fired his wrist cannons at a huddled group of B2s.

The same Chamaele slowed as the blaster bolts were overwhelming his natural protective, thick hide. Before succumbing to the fatal wounds the reptilian giant gave a mighty swipe with his large clawed hand at the remaining B2 droids sending them flying back. Vicus and the soldiers by him covered the last Chamaele making headway and impressively dodging the storm of blaster bolts tracking him. The droids in the giant's path were flattened either from his wrist cannons or sheer unbridled strength.

As he closed the gap the Chamaele jumped high above the droids and landed atop the turret positioned closest to the entrance of the Administration Hub. His sudden presence to the turret crew distracted their continuous fire at the CRAB and attempted to throw the hulking beast staring down at them with what Vicus assumed to be burning rage. The Chamaele reached forward and grabbed one B1 droid pulling it out from it's seat, crushing its thin body in his huge clawed hand. Chucking the useless droid aside he shot at the other droid, then brushed the inert machine out from its seat.

To Vicus' utter amazement the Chamaele crawled over the turret and somehow managed to fit it's large clawed fingers into the controls of the AA weapon systems, spinning the turret fully around to face the second one. The guns of the turret never ceased as they swerved about and ripped into the opposing one next to it. The enemy occupied turret was taken down and blown to pieces before it could respond to the Chamaele's incredible show of ingenuity.

There were triumphant cheers from soldiers at the Chamaele warrior's actions. This was abruptly cut short when a loud straining noise resounded behind them. Despite the Chamaele's destruction of the turrets, the CRAB that the droids had targeted was listing to one side as three of its legs were hanging off the wall of the factory it clung to. All its weight was shifting to one side and pulled it downward as the large, crustacean armoured like legs tried futilely to re-attach to the factory. Debris fell where its feet had originally magnetised to making it impossible for it to get a steady grip.

To Vicus' horror he watched the walker tumble off the factory and crash to the ground in an almighty heap. The sound it made as its massive armoured body smashed to the roads below was like that of a large explosion as the ground shuddered from the impact. Imperial troops in the area rushed to get out of the way, but too many to Vicus' liking weren't fast enough as it flattened all that didn't escape it's fall radius.

He cursed the commander of the CRAB for such a foolish and impractical choice of having it traversing so high up.

With a low growl he turned back to the Administration Hub.

"Move forward. No more delay. Let us end this!" Vicus barked to the approval roars of his warriors.

With the more than welcoming covering fire of the obtained AA turret still occupied by the Chamaele warrior, Vicus led his troops through what remained of the droid forces guarding the Administration Hub. Some even engaged the mechanised soldiers in close combat melee, striking them with the butts of rifles or plasma daggers some were equipped with. Vicus still had his energy-mace attached to his back but he deemed it unnecessary and needless to sheath it out for combat as of yet.

The doors to the Hub were beginning to close as they approached closer. A Chamaele shouted up to the one still residing in the turret in their native tongue. Vicus wasn't fluent in their language but he understood the Chamaele was ordering for the other to join him at the Hub's entrance. In response the warrior manning the AA turret leaped off and joined his fellow heavy unit as they burst forward running to the closing doors.

As the doors nearly sealed, preventing his invading troops from breaching the Hub, Vicus slowed his pace as the Chamaele duo pressed their hands out to stop the metallic doors from shutting. There was a grinding screech and loud clunking

"Cover them!" Vicus barked at his troops as the Squad minors blocked the doors from cutting them off access.

Through his audio receptors he can hear the screeching complaints of the doors being stopped from shutting by the two giant, muscle packed warriors. On either side of the frame the Chamaele dug their heels in and used all their might to hold the doors open, whilst a few soldiers managed to slip pass the tight gaps left by their hefty bodies. Vicus saw one of the soldiers squeezed by and managed with some difficulty in reaching the door controls by the Chamaele to the right side of the door. He could see the soldier was attempting to sync his CyberTool into the controls in effort to relieve the Chamaele's efforts.

A stream of blaster fire came from the other side of the doorway as the heavy units kept up their strain in keeping the doors from closing. Vicus could see even as he and the rest of his troops returned fire as best they could, the toll from the enemy's guns and holding a heavy duty door was getting to the heavy units of his regiment. With blessed luck answered by the Gods, the soldier who had been overriding the controls on the door appeared to succeed as the metallic doors retreated back into the walls.

Vicus followed behind the Chamaele heavies as they took point through the corridors with no obstacles standing in their way. The reptilians barged through like the proverbial battering rams the humans in the UEC referred to them as against their foe. But their size did have its problems. The hallways they pressed forward in were not designed for beings like the Chamaele to traverse around in. It came to a point they had to stand in file, slowing their progress temporarily as Vicus took over leading the battle within the Hub.

"Hek'ot, where are you?" Vicus asked his subordinate through a private channel.

"We've breached the rear of the Hub but are currently pinned down by a group of Droidekas." The Junior Commander reported.

"I shall send the Chamaele heavies to support you." Vicus offered.

"That is unnecessary, Commander. We have Tri Pincers on their way shortly to deal with these machines momentarily." Hek'ot assured him. "I suggest you keep going. We will be joining you quite soon."

"Very well. We are nearing the central chamber. Resistance is lessening but still remains tenacious.""

"Understood, Commander. Fear not we are on our way." Hek'ot stated then cut the link.

Up ahead the number of droids were dwindling giving a clearer path and vision to a series of stairways leading to the upper floors of the hub. Vicus fired a burst at a B1 battle droid standing behind the ruins of what must've once been a reception desk. The callously ignorant machine fell quickly to the shots riddling into its torso as more of its kind joined it on the floor from the relentless onslaught of Imperial firepower.

"Squad Leader Ori'Ka, lead your section up the stairs to our right flank. Squad Leader Dant'us, take your section to the stairs to our left. Don't stop until every last droid in this building is destroyed, is that understood?" Vicus commanded.

"Yes, sir!" The Squad Leaders obeyed.

As the two sections split off away from the many company, Vicus led the main body of troops up the wider, centric stairway situated further down where the fallen remains of battle droids littered the base. The Separatists blasters Vicus faced as he and his troops came less from the B1 model battle droids and more from their larger and tougher mechanical brethren. Their built in wrist energy weapons thundered down on their encroachment up the stairs, with one shot just missing him by a nail width but the following one clipped his left arm.

Vicus hissed angrily in pain from the impact. Despite his shields absorbing most of the shot, the force behind it still caused a good deal of discomfort. The offending droid behind that same shot aimed at him again but took an abrupt, violent knock back by a large ball of white plasma searing through its no longer intact body. Vicus turned his head quickly to find one of the Chamaele letting loose a full barrage of their own wrist cannons at the silvery coloured droids. The other heavy unit joined him in the cascade of plasma fire being brought up to the defending Separatist machines.

The pair gave a mighty roar in unison as the last droid fell from the barrage.

"Move forward!" Vicus shouted to all the warriors gathering at the base of the steps.

The opposition they met upon reaching the top step withered at the unbridled momentum of his soldiers charging to face them. It soon became close combat for those who had gone on ahead of him, smashing or swinging their rifles at any droid they came within arms reach. A handful of Imperials troops fell to their droid foe's continuous fire but it did nothing to relent the drive of the rest of the Empire's finest troops. Small groups broke off temporarily as they navigated through rooms to finish off any stragglers, whilst Vicus ordered the rest to stay with him as they neared their target.

It wasn't until the last twist down one corridor did his HUD identified the suspected main office of the Hub. Standing outside to his curiosity was a pair of droid models that he had yet to encounter on this battlefield. The HUD in his visor highlighted their frames and identified both as belonging to the BX-Series range of Commando Droids. Vicus held these war droids with a higher level of respect as an enemy compared to the lesser, plasma fodder machines the CIS utilised as frontline soldiers.

For the first time since landing on Byzral's surface, Vicus witnessed their machine opposition deploy common sense in battle. It was too late with the horde of Imperial troops bearing down on them but he could finally say there was at least an example of intelligence used by these metal soldiers. The commando droids took cover on either side of two pillars extending out of the walls on both sides of the corridor that funneled down to the main office.

They leaned out from the pillars, managing to get a hit on a couple of the soldiers ahead of him causing their shields to ripple from the impacting shots. The ones ahead advanced closer to the commandos, firing non stop as they rushed to put an end to the last obstacle. One Imperial warrior fell from the impressively accurate blasts from one droid, almost tripping over another following behind him. The off balanced soldier was struck in the head from a well timed precision shot that wilted away the last of his shield battery.

Vicus felt a hard lump brush pass him as one of the Chamaele bolted toward the droids with a predatory roar. Debris tore off the wall from his oversized hands piercing through and then flung the lumps of masonry at the commando droids. One droid collided with a heavy chunk as it crushed the machine against the door. The last droid defender looked over at it's inert partner then back at the reptilian giant in a pose that Vicus would've said was one of fear had it been organic. With not one ounce of mercy, the Chamaele heavy stepped over to the commando droid and lifted the machine off its feet and crushed it in his hands before dropping it with disinterest.

Vicus walked cautiously over to the wide framed entrance to the office with several other Imperial troops. He pressed on the controls to find with no surprise they refused to open on their own accord. Turning to the Chamaele heavy he nodded over to the closed entry way, indicating for his assistance. With impressive, great strength the heavy unit placed his clawed hands under the door and slowly lifted it slowly upward.

The corridor echoed with the loud straining complaints of the steel door being forced open against its will. When the right amount of space was provided to enter, Vicus led the way in squeezing passed Chamaele and immediately raised his weapon at the inhabitants inside. There were six in total with only immediately recognised as a non-Commonwealth human. The aliens they now faced all had expressions of fear etched into their faces at the line of soldiers barging in and placing them under Imperial custody.

"Please, please don't hurt us!" One of the aliens pleaded. The creature was green skinned and possessed horizontal yellow and red eyes, dressed in what Vicus would deem to be elaborate, expensive clothing.

"W-what is that you want?" Another asked in a fearful tone. This alien was blue skinned and almost appeared human, if it were not for the strange tentacle like appendages coming out from the back of his head and unnatural skin colour.

Vicus was pleased the translator was proving to be working effectively well so far. "Which one of you leads the Separatist droids?" He asked them.

They all flinched at the sound of his amplified voice.

"Separatist?" We are not Separa-"

"It is him. The Neimoidian." The non-Commonwealth human said, pointing an accusing finger at the alien.

"You treacherous son of a gundark, Jerrok!" The 'Neimoidian' spat in rage. The green alien's fear briefly vanished as he glared at the human but returned again when Vicus signaled for two of his warriors to detain the Separatist leader.

The soldiers moved in and grabbed hold of the alien's arm, facing no defiance from their now captured prisoner locked in perpetual fright.

"You are as cowardly as the others we have faced since your invasion into our territory." Vicus sneered with venom laced disappointment. "As of right now, Neimoidian, you are a prisoner of her Majesty's Imperial Army."

"I am just a mere businessman." The alien feebly tried defending himself.

"You are a part of the Confederacy and a dishonorable coward." Vicus growled at the scared Separatist 'General'. He lifted his glare up at the soldiers arresting him. "Take him away."

Quivering sobs and pleas for mercy could be heard reverberating down the now occupied corridor as the alien leader was forcibly led away.

"Commander?" The ID tag of Squad Leader Dant'us lit up in the corner of his HUD.

"Squad Leader, report." Vicus commanded.

"We've cleared the upper floors of all enemy resistance." She stated.

"As have we on the mid levels, Commander." Ori'Ka reported in also.

"Good. Keep to your holdings. It's only a matter of time before the rest of the district is in our grasp."

"Yes, sir." They said in obedience to his command.

"I see you have the leadership all detained, Commander." Junior Commander Hek'ot said as he entered the office.

"Indeed." Vicus replied, then returned his focus back to the bemused group of aliens seemingly waiting on their fate. "Which one of you is the Manufacture Master?"

A repeated look of bemusement crossed the alien group's faces as the title. Vicus let out a frustrated grunt, realising these people must use another name for those in charge of the factories and fabrication centres. The noise he made, however, startled them all.

"I am." The human fumbled as he stepped forward amongst the group. "I'm, uh, Foreman Mance Jerrok."

"Foreman Jerrok, I am Commander Vicus Hikar'an of the Chimeran Imperial Army." He said nodding at the human. "You need not fear my soldiers or any other Imperial or Commonwealth personnel currently on your world. We are here to liberate you from the machine menace of the Confederacy of Independent Systems."

"Are you with the Republic, uh, Commander?" The Foreman asked.

"No." Hek'ot answered beside him. "We are not in an alliance with the Galactic Republic."

"Then who are you people?" The tentacle headed alien questioned in an uneasy tone.

Before Vicus could answer he saw the flashing lights of an incoming call in the corner of his visor.

"Yes?" Vicus answered.

"Glad to report, Commander, the southern sector is officially under our control." Major Robson reported first.

"As is the eastern sector, sir." Kilr'us followed with his own confirmation.

"Good. Secure the entire district and leave no leftover droids standing." Vicus told them before looking back at the aliens. "I request you assemble all workers and civilians outside where we can provide medical relief to anyone injured by the battle."

"That is most generous of you, Commander." Foreman Jerrok said, sounding perplexed but relieved.

"Junior Commander, Hek'ot will be leading the coordination. See to it your people are cared for properly." Vicus stated, turning away to exit the office.

Outside as he retraced the steps from their grueling battle within the HUB he could see his troops going about checking over the fallen of both combating sides. The sounds of battle weren't as tumultuous from before their breach into the Administration Hub. Blaster fire and explosions could still be heard from areas of the vast factory district but he was confident they would soon stop.

A wave of dropships flew overhead passing the factory peaks showing the clear sign of enemy AA defences had been completely destroyed. The skies now safe, they all descended down to the battle scarred streets in fluid motion. Medical teams and their orb assistant droids jumped out from the dropships upon the compartment doors sliding open.

Vicus stood in spectation of the injured being brought aboard the dropships, rushing the critical ones as quickly as possible into the troop bays whilst the moderate and lightly injured were being checked over. His ruminations fell on those he saw having their still forms on the ground being draped in charcoaled coloured sheets with the Imperial emblem centred on the covering. Death was a certainty that came with war, a grim reality when it came to their profession. It awaited in the wings of battle for those caught in it's cold, uncaring glare.

Regardless, Vicus never fully got used to the sight. To see all those eager faces ready to do their duty before battle now lay dead as casualties of war was an unpleasant burden as their commanding officer. His grim dwellings were interrupted by a persistent beep within his helmet comm.

"Hikar'an, here." Vicus answered the call.

"Congratulations on the capture of the Manufacturing district, Commander. The swift taking of the sector is a great credit to the skill and might of your troops." Lord General Yuku'las' voice came through in high praise.

"Thank you, Lord General." Vicus said with gratitude.

"Commonwealth forces have reported they have broken through the Separatists' defences in Byzral's capital city. It shan't be long now before the machines hold on the planet fully crumbles." Yuku'las said, passing on the progress of their allies.

"We have beaten the humans in taking our target first?"

"So it would seem." The Lord General said. Vicus could detect the amusement laced in his words. "Keep you troops vigilant, Commander. And I suggest having some of your warriors on standby for the Commonwealthers request support, if required."

"As you command, Lord General." Vicus acknowledged, hearing the link severe from the Lord General's side of the comm.

Looking back at the scene before him, Vicus caught sight of a slowly growing number of alien civilians emerging out from the buildings. Unsurprisingly they all appeared to be shaken, confused and uncertain from both the battle and the massive army they've never known existed moved freely through their land. An Imperial Army Med-Nurse approached one group with her team of medical assistants and orb droids. As it was speculated by the Commonwealthers, the aliens stared up with horrified expressions of the appearance of a Chimeran. Whatever assuring words the Med-Nurse was relaying to the aliens it seemed to lessen their caution as she stepped forward to one being to examine their wound.

Vicus gave a sigh of relief as more of the aliens accepted the medical team's help. It was one hefty task in liberating these worlds from the CIS and their droid legions. It was surely going to be an even tougher one to convince these aliens the intentions of the Empire were good natured.
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