A/N: Ok, I'm going to be doing something different now. I don't get many reviews on ACT, so I'm slightly discouraged. However, Instead of stop it, I'm just going to make a new story that I will work on at the same time as my other stories. If you don't know some of the back story, ACT will give you some of it. Other parts of it will be added in here to help you know what happens at the end of ACT, but without spoiling the story so you will still want to read both. I know what you're thinking, "So he's just skipping to Episode IV?" Yeah, kind of. I'll still continue ACT when I have the motivation. Know that this story follows the same storyline as ACT, but is simply later during Episode IV. Here we go! PS. There are links on my profile to the wikis of all three universes if you need visualization. Also, for some reason, I can never get the "ALIGN CENTER" option to work so bear with it. :/ PSS. This is a prolgue to Episode IV in case you were wondering. Enjoy!
A/N: Ok, I'm going to be doing something different now. I don't get many reviews on ACT, so I'm slightly discouraged. However, Instead of stop it, I'm just going to make a new story that I will work on at the same time as my other stories. If you don't know some of the back story, ACT will give you some of it. Other parts of it will be added in here to help you know what happens at the end of ACT, but without spoiling the story so you will still want to read both.
I know what you're thinking, "So he's just skipping to Episode IV?" Yeah, kind of. I'll still continue ACT when I have the motivation. Know that this story follows the same storyline as ACT, but is simply later during Episode IV.
Here we go!
PS. There are links on my profile to the wikis of all three universes if you need visualization.
Also, for some reason, I can never get the "ALIGN CENTER" option to work so bear with it. :/
PSS. This is a prolgue to Episode IV in case you were wondering.
EPISODE IV: AN OLD HOPE
IT IS A PERIOD OF CIVIL WAR.
REBEL FORCES FIGHT VALIANTLY AGAINST THE
OPPRESSIVE EMPIRE DAILY. BUT THEIR SMALL
NUMBERS AND SCAVENEGED TECHNOLOGY
SIMPLY CAN'T COMPARE TO THE GREAT IMPERIAL
REBEL SPIES HAVE FOUND THE LOCATION OF AN OLD
SPACE-STATION SAID TO HOLD VALUABLE TECHNOLOGY AND
WEAPONS: WEAPONS THAT COULD POSSIBLY TURN THE
TIDE OF THE WAR AGAINST THE EMPIRE.
MON MOTHMA, THE POLITICAL LEADER AND HEAD OF THE
REBEL ALLIANCE HAS ORDERED A SEARCH OF THE STATION BEFORE
THE IMPERIALS CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON WHATEVER IS INSIDE.
WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW IS THAT THEY'RE ABOUT TO
WANDER INTO A MYSTERY HELD SECRET FOR DECADES.
WHAT THEY FIND, THEY MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO CONTROL…
An Old Hope, Chapter 1:
"Approaching target structure. Boarding teams to your stations. Boarding teams to your stations."
The crew of the Nebulon-B frigate Offender scurried about the ship's narrow hallways, anxious for this mission to be completed, and hopefully in success. The captain, a middle aged Corelian by the name of Ord Karnac, sat still looking out the front viewport in the bridge. His heavy head rested on his right fist, which was propped up on the arm of the chair. He would never admit it, but he was under heavy stress at the moment. His mission was to escort a scientific team to a recently discovered facility. The complex had been hidden deep within a mass shadow where no ship would jump into without risking their lives. He'd be lucky if the ship didn't rip apart on contact with the special anomaly. Which was one reason why he was so nervous; how did they expect him to get them to this so-called find? The scientists, which also included archeologists, assured him that there would be a way in once they arrived.
The captain was skeptical about that. The only thing you could do with a mass shadow was avoid them; why would some moron put a facility in them? Rather, how would someone put a facility in them? You can't jump into them, and it would take too much time to ferry supplies to it at sub-light speeds, considering the size of the mass shadow they were going to. Nonetheless, he was assured there'd be a way to access it swiftly.
He gazed out the main viewport and watched the twisting vortex of hyperspace. The shadow of another ship crossed his eyes' path. Just another of the same fleet he'd been given as protection. Of course, this did not escape his notice. Whatever was inside that mass shadow was worth enough for someone else to fight for it. When he realized this, he became concerned for the safety of his crew, as any captain would be. But he had not been given the privilege of being the commanding fleet officer. That was handed out to the Victory II-class Star Destroyer, Carnivore, and its captain, Taric Alistar. Alistar was, in many aspects more advanced than Ord; age, experience, cunning, quality, and capability. But what Ord maintained that he possessed that Taric did not have was potential; the potential to rise far higher in the Empire than Taric ever could have dreamed.
The third fleet member was a second Nebulon-B frigate that flew alongside his own; the Emergent. Both carried the necessary supplies to what Ord would call "recycle" the station; finding technology and/or data and finding out their origins before finding ways to use them to the Empire's advantage. The Victory was simply to give them a sense of protection, not actual protection. At least, that was Ord's opinion. He may have been young, but he knew enough about the Empire to understand its position on "expendability."
"Captain, we're approaching the rendezvous location and dropping out of hyperspace," a young officer off to the side announced. Ord nodded to him and turned to the section of the bridge devoted to detection.
"Anything on scan sensors?"
"Something sir. It's not a ship."
Ord scrunched his brow in seriousness. It was time to get underway.
"We're dropping out of hyperspace now sir."
"Very good." The tunnel of white fog cleared into streaks of light that shrunk until they were mere pinpricks. Then the construct accelerated into view.
It was a series of platforms interconnected by faint energy. And it was big.
"Captain. Scans indicate the object is of relatively recent creation, and there are traces of power running through it. Unknown design and origin."
Ord nodded and turned to one of his officers. "See if you can get some of those dirt-diggers to tell us what this is."
"Sir," the officer said and marched off the bridge. Ord turned back to his viewport to see if his own eyes could dissect the unknown machine's purpose. His chance was ruined by a shout from his communications.
"Captain, the Carnivore is requesting communication with you."
Ord nodded again. "Receive it." The blue hologram that appeared in the middle of the bridge. He stood in the usual stance anyone of seemingly higher authority stood; feet together, one slightly in front of the other, hands clasped behind his back, stock straight and with a commanding stare.
"Captain Kranac, this is a combined audience of both you myself and captain Traw. I trust both of you are consulting your assigned specialists on the purpose and origin of the object."
Jane Traw, the captain of the other Nebulon frigate nodded as her image appeared alongside Taric's, she was handed a datapad from off-screen and she opened it. "As far as we can tell," she began, "the object dates back to the Clone Wars. We believe its purpose is to launch ships into mass shadows safely, though we can't be sure."
The commander turned to Ord. "And you captain?"
Ord sniffed sharply as his officer returned just in time to offer him a datapad. He opened it and read its contents. "My group believes the same. However, from information available, the object is like a giant slingshot for ships, capable of slinging them safely into otherwise unreachable environments. With proper analysis, we could achieve the activation codes."
Taric nodded with a grin. "Very good. I expect your results within the hour." The transmission ended, but Traw's image remained. "Captain," she said with a careful tone, "I've already had my men analyze the data of the object. What I didn't mention to captain Taric," he noticed she didn't call him commander, "is that from the looks of things, the device is emitting energy at a degenerative rate."
Ord shrugged. "OK. Aaand…?"
She smiled at him. "Ok I'll put it in layman's terms. Say the object had one hundred percent energy when it was created and constantly emitted that energy until it had none. The rate at which it's currently losing power would indicate it was only built a few weeks ago."
Ord looked out his viewport again. "But it looks way too old for that."
"Exactly, which leads me to believe that the device doesn't passively leak energy, but rather it's just the emissions of use."
A cold shiver went down Ord's spine as the words reached him. "So… you're saying…"
"That's right," she said a frown marring her features. "Someone else has recently used it."
Ord could only shake his head and bite his lip. 'Blast it.' He looked at her again. "We'll have to tell him. We should do so in our next report." She nodded in agreement and her image wavered before vanishing.
He looked back to the massive metal creation in uncontained curiosity. Where could it lead, and what did it hide behind its natural shroud?
"Sir we've searched every deck on this sector of the station. Nothing here."
Group captain Terol Loren grunted, his shoulders sagging in the process. "Go and join the others in sector six; we've got to find something. And hurry! The Imperials could be here any time now!" The three men saluted and ran off to join their compatriots. Terol sighed heavily as he found an ancient turbolift and activated it. The Alliance command had been informed of an old factory station hidden in a mass shadow by an Imperial sympathizer. The Alliance, hoping there was something of worth there, dispatched a task force to search for it and see if they could get it operational.
When they arrived outside the mass shadow, there had been an ancient construct waiting for them. After learning how to use it, which had taken several hours of guess-work, the two Gallofree Yards medium transports that had been dispatched on this mission were slung into the depths of the shadow. They were lightly armed and armored, but they could hold their own in a fight. When they slowed to a stop, what they found surprised them. Three flat, almost hexagonal rings, each connected by a large rectangular solid section; it was a massive space station. Various debris floated around, evidently from broken parts of the stations. It emitted no energy readings and the shields were offline.
Currently they were trying to fix that. If the Imperials did come they would need the station in fighting condition, because they all knew that if the Empire couldn't have something, no one could. 'Well this is one station you're not getting,' he thought bitterly.
They had been able to restore some power to a majority of the systems on each station. Of course, the defenses were powered by a different source and controlled by sectors. It certainly was old; nowadays they would have had all station functions routed to the central command center. The lift stopped and opened revealing more rebel technicians working on a wall consol. He walked up behind them and peered over their shoulders. "What're you working on over here?"
"Oh boss, perfect timing. We've managed to hack into a majority of the stations security fields; we should have total control over defenses in no time."
"Excellent. Contact me when you do."
Terol sighed in relief. 'As long as we have those we should be able to last for a little while in here.'
"Oh sir, one more thing…"Terol turned back to the technician that spoke. "We found the layouts of the station and have forwarded it to all groups in this and the other two rings. But… well, there's something you should see."
Terol furrowed his brow and briskly walked back to his subordinate. The tech pressed a few buttons on the wall mounted device bringing up a specific portion of the station. The station itself was ring shaped, with a hollow center and was extremely flat. The one part of the station that wasn't so was the large box-like chamber on one side that extruded through all three hexagonal rings.
"The station gives us pretty detailed info on each of the rings' segments and sectors, according to this it's a storage bay of some kind."
"Have you had anyone check it out?"
The tech shook his head. "No and that's why you need to see this." He pressed a few more buttons while narrating. "When I pull up the storage bay's contents this list comes up."
The screen switched to a scrolling list of names. 'Wait… Names?'
He turned to the tech curiously. "Why would they have names for storage contents?"
The tech cleared his through and looked nervous. 'Well sir, we were hoping you'd know."
Terol looked away out one of the massive windows that lined the hallways' walls. He shook his head. "I don't know. If you can spare any of your techies, I could use them. I'll form a squad and check it out."
The man nodded and directed two of his comrades to follow their superior. Both followed him to the turbolift while he pulled out a comlink, dialing in his personal squad. Right as he was about to begin the transmission, the turbolift rocked sharply and all three of them were thrown to the wall supports. "What in the blazes…?"
His comlink began chirping with incoming calls. "What the hell was that?"
"Imperials sir! They must have followed us!"
'Or they're after something important here,' he thought grimly.
"Do we have command over the station's defenses yet?"
"Some sir, we're powering up shields as fast as we can, the weapons on the station are archaic though; looks like projectile based, not laser. The station must be older than we thought."
"Get the transports behind the station and have them ferry the men to it. I want them and every weapon on this station to shoot those Imperial scum 'till there's nothing left!"
He received an affirmative and he dialed again for his squad. "We're heading for deck seven, meet us there."
He ended without waiting for a reply. The station shuddered as its shields were assaulted by Imperial fire. His comlink buzzed again. "Sir the shields are incredibly strong! Almost no damage across any of the sectors!"
"Let's hope they stay that way." He ended the call as the doors opened with a hiss. In front of him was his own personal twenty man squad, each one armed for combat, ready and waiting. "Alright boys we're heading for the storage bay on this deck."
They didn't answer; they didn't need to. He simply pulled out his carbine from his side holster and jogged off, his squad following and the technicians giving him directions. It wasn't five minutes later the stations intercom began blaring. "All crew, all crew. Imperial boarding parties away. Imperial Boarding Parties away. Impact in two minutes."
Terol swore under his breath. "C'mon we have to get to the storage bay!" He rushed his troops as fast as he could through the endless hallways, trying to get as far as he could before the Imperial boarding parties reached the outer hull. They all moved silently, their booted feet and panting breaths the only sounds to be heard. Every so often the station would rumble as it too on enemy fire. They were halfway there when the intercom blared again.
"Attention all troops, attention all troops, Imperials have boarded the station. Man your battle stations."
"Blast it! Get ready boys! We may need to fight our way there!" The group nodded their heads and took the safeties off their weapons.
A few more minutes passed by before Terol's comlink beeped for perhaps the hundredth time. "Terol here."
"Sir! We need help on deck seven!"
"We're on deck seven, what's going on?"
"They came out of nowhere! *blaster fire* They're attacking everyone, even the Imperials! *Static break* -on't no how much longer we can hold out! We're by the power station!" There were several bloody screams of pain in the background that did not go unnoticed by Terol.
"Alright I'm sending men down. Just hang on!" He turned to his men and pointed at a corporal. "Take ten men and go help them out."
"Sir!" The corporal saluted and shoved ten men in the direction he needed to go, grabbing a techie as well for directions and followed after them, turning a corner they had passed behind them.
Terol now stood with ten men and a technician awaiting his order. "How much further to the storage bay?"
The specialist looked down at his data pad and his a few keys. "It should be just up ahead."
"OK, let's go!" And the whole group as one followed after him.
Private Remali Skine was not someone who believed in ghost stories. He'd grown up on Carida, and as all young men who seek glory, enlisted in the Imperial Academy there. He'd graduated with good grades and enlisted in the Stormtrooper corp. That was two months ago. He'd only been on two actual missions in that time, and in neither did he expect to see action. This was his third mission, and he'd never have expected he'd be in a live fire fight with rebels. But then, he hadn't even seen any rebels yet. As soon as his boarding pod crashed through the station's hull, he and his unit disembarked and set up a perimeter. The halls were silent accept for the com chatter that ran through every trooper's helmet and the light booming of lasers against shields. When they had secured the area, they move on, meeting with another squad and merging with them, and proceeding to scour the area for rebels.
Again, he was not a fan of ghost stories, simply because they were a waste of time. It's was only the superstitious who had reason to fear the dead, not an Imperial trooper. In his mind, the dead should fear him. But the halls of this station were scary; unknown words and characters were painted across them. It was all the worse when the sensor droids they'd brought with them began to detect anomalies within the walls and superstructure of the station.
Droids don't report anomalies. They report findings.
It became all the worse when one by one squad members began disappearing from around them. They had started out with thirty men. Now they were down to twenty; and they didn't even know when they had disappeared.
But he didn't believe in ghosts.
Nonetheless, he stayed in the middle of the pack. 'If we get attacked I won't be the first one shot' he reasoned.
His squad hadn't gone much further when a distinct grating sound could be heard, like metal on metal. They all turned toward the source of the sounds, but by the time they did, half of them were cut down, and by the time the bodies hit the floor, the assailants were gone. They were down to eight now.
But he didn't believe in ghosts.
They all fired randomly in every direction hoping to hit something. When they didn't he bent down carefully to examine a dead body. The weapons weren't energy based. The impact point seemed to be pierced by projectile weaponry. Small metal slugs probably.
There was a violent scream behind him and he turned just in time to see a fellow's head fall off his body. He stared in shock as he hadn't even seen where the attack had come from. Red splattered on his white armor.
Imperial training could not have prepared him for this. Not. One. Bit. Blaster fire and shell shock he could take. Phantom killers he could not. Another one down on his left. His blaster fired several rounds in the direction the attack came from and hit nothing. The squad's discipline broke and they all screamed in fear and ran back to the safety of their boarding pods.
Remali tripped over a dead body in his haste, putting him in last place. He sprinted as fast as he could to catch up. They turned a corner out of sight. He approached and rounded it only to be met by two more bodies. He leapt over them, not bothering to give them a second glance. The other three were already in the pod gesturing him to hurry up. Just as he was about to jump in, the door shut suddenly. He impacted against them with a clang.
He stumbled back a bit shaking his head, before reproaching the pod and banging on it, yelling at them to open it up. His only answer were terrified screams from within, and then silence. He slowly backed away from the pod in terror, looking this way and that, his sense suddenly on overdrive.
A metallic groan to his left; he whirled.
A clatter of clicks from behind him; he spun.
Then came the echoing sounds of slow footsteps. They reverberated against the steel walls and floor in steady repetition. Louder and louder they became until they stopped. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as he turned in fear to look behind him. He was met by a distorted view of the hallway, as if he were in a delirium. But it slowly went from delirium to color as the form of a human appeared out of thin air.
Remali's eyes nearly exploded out of his head as the gory, half naked, blaster singed body fully formed. Half of its face was missing replaced by a skull. His other side was simply bone and rotting muscle tissue. It looked at him for a long moment before it opened it mouth, releasing thousands of tiny insect-like creatures that crawled down to its arms that suddenly latched onto Remali. Even as they penetrated the nooks and crannies of his armor as he screamed, his final thoughts weren't of fear, but rather of revelation.
'I wonder… Are all those other ghost stories real?'
Terol screamed in surprise as the undead body swiped at him, its arms flailing about like whips. He backed up quickly even as his men fired bolt after bolt into the monstrosity. At last it fell to the ground, dead for a second time. Terol panted as his heart went into overdrive from the scare. He placed a hand over it in a calming manner. But even as the body fell to rest, like a black plague, a sea tiny insects poured out of every opening of the body crawling along the ground toward them.
"Keep going!" He yelled even as he fired pot shots at the encroaching swarm. All ten of them, minus one who'd been unfortunate enough to get caught by another of the undead monsters, ran for all it was worth.
"Up ahead is the door!" the specialist shouted as they approached a sealed door. They all hit the wall back first, aiming their weapons behind them, fingers on the trigger. They heard muffled sounds as the technician worked on unlocking the door.
"Come on man, open that door already!"
"I know I know! It's not as easy as it looks!"
The footsteps grew louder. "Almost got it…"
Blaster bolts flew from the hall towards them. "I got it!"
And a squad of Stormtroopers appeared. "There they are! Blast 'em!"
Both sides opened fire on each other, two troopers fell instantly and three of Terol's own. The doors hissed open behind them. "Go! Go! Go!"
The seven of them rushed through and took cover behind the door's frames until it shut, the tech locking it from the inside. They breathed deeply even as the Stormtroopers banged against the door trying to get it open. When they felt they could breathe easily enough again, Terol turned to the mechanic. "Ok, where are we right now."
The room they were in was pretty much pitch black, so they turned on their gun-lights, shining them this way and that. They were in a long hallway with dozens of doors on both sides. "We should be right about…" he pointed to his screen. "…here." He pointed to the outermost part of the storage facility.
"These don't look like storage facilities…" Terol said as he opened one door to find a living area. The others opened doors as well to see lavish rooms, still fully furnished. "These look like living quarters."
They all looked puzzled.
"We should move on." And they did so, passing by room after room, checking them every so often. Rooms, rooms and more rooms. At length they came to the end of the hall. It was one massive door.
"Any idea how to open it?" Terol asked, not seeing a consol. The technician looked around and saw nothing as well.
"Not a clue sir."
With no inclination on how to get past it, they took to searching for an opening mechanism, or something. Terol continued to examine the hulking door; it was thick plated armor decorated with intricate symbols, probably a language of some kind. A line of it came diagonally from each corner before merging into a circle in the middle of the door, at which point the lines twisted into a corkscrew in the center.
He couldn't make heads or tails of it, and he racked his brain trying to figure it out. But he was drawn out of his thoughts at the sound of new footsteps. He silently looked at each of his men, who had immediately looked at him. Using a series of hand signs, he directed his squad to hide in the nearby rooms.
It was a few seconds after they hid that five Stormtroopers ran past, slowing to a stop in front of the door.
He signaled to remain quiet until he said so.
They all listened fervently as the troopers mutter amongst themselves. "Where are they? They said there was group of rebels in here."
"Dunno. They should be here though. Sergeant?"
"Hang on a sec. I'm gonna try something…" The synthetic voice of the sergeant came through his vocalizer. "What's the best kind of birthday you could have?"
Terol sighed in relief at the code words. "A surprise party," he answered back.
With a signal he ordered his friends out, weapons down. He stepped out of his hiding room and approached the quintet of "Stormies" with an exasperated smile on his face. "Had us scared there for a second. I'm guessing you took care of those other guys outside?"
The sergeant trooper nodded and extended a hand. "Sergeant Pierce."
Terol accepted it and smiled. "Captain Loren." The others all noticeably relaxed as the turncoats lowered their weapons.
"Any chance of getting that door open?" Pierce asked pointing a thumb at the massive metal slab.
Terol shook his head in frustration. "Not a chance. It's got a lock on it but it's not technological." He pointed to the weird symbols on the obstacle. "I'm beginning to think it's one of those things you can't use without the Force."
The sergeant scoffed as he ran his hand over the metal. "Yeah, well, unless one of you's a Jedi then it isn't budging." He stood silent for a moment before he reached into his pocket and retrieved a comlink. "Captain, we need those experts to be sent to storage bay, deck seven. Lock onto our position for exact location." He received a confirmation as a response and they all waited for that familiar bang of a boarding pod breaking through metal. A few minutes later another squad of Stormtroopers accompanied a trio of others.
They wore black leather and wore officer helmets, but the lack of rank patches indicated they were simply for protection. Each one had a duo of floating analysis droids following them. The leader trooper saluted to the sergeant and one of the men in black spoke.
"Sergeant Pierce, Special Archeological Squad reporting as requested."
"Good, see what you can figure out about that door." The three nodded and pressed a series of keys on their infopads that sent the droids roving off to the slab. As they approached, various scanning equipment whirred to life, analyzing the door and its internal structure. The six drones searched every nook and cranny with search beams and in every spectrum of light. Ultrasound pulses pierced the heavy platting, allowing them to see the internal structure.
Little by little, the specs came streaming into their displays. As it completed, one of the technicians looked at the group. "I hope you guys haven't tried shooting at it."
"It's magnetically sealed. You'd be shot by your own bolt. Not only that but any excessive force would trigger an electrical surge, but not just on the door; the whole hallway is lined with dischargers."
Several of the men exchanged nervous glances as they turned their gazes to the walls around them. Terol backed over to one of the analyzers and looked over his shoulder at the screen. "So how do we open it?"
"Well sir, it looks like the door is locked by a type of energy reading device. The lock inside would detect the energy and unlatch accordingly."
Terol looked at the door and then back at the hand-held screen. "Whatever's in there must be pretty important. Anyway we can replicate that energy?"
"It would take a very specific pulse on a specific frequency to open it. A little more scanning and we could probably get it down," another technician spoke up.
The room shuddered as a loud booming sound rattled down the hall. "We don't have a few minutes. Hurry up and find a way to open it," the Imperial sergeant ordered.
There was a chorus of confirmations. While the mechanics worked on rigging up a pulse emitter, the troopers for both the Rebels and the turncoat Imperials loitered around, opening up miscellaneous room and looking in them and examining their contents. "Check this out," one stormie said, holding up a picture. On it, a blond haired man and raven haired girl stood smiling at the camera with goofy faces. Of to the side of the camera, a red haired man stood in the background.
"I don't think this was a military base either," said another as he opened a door and saw what he supposed was a room fit for a newborn youngling, cradle and all.
"What the hell were civilians doing in a place like this?" Asked a rebel trooper, sitting on the bed, shining a handheld light on the surrounding room.
"That's a good question…" answered another stormie.
They all stood upright, weapons at the ready as a feral scream ricocheted down the hall. They all peaked outside the room's doorways, only to see nothing. "It's those monsters again sir!" A rebel shouted worriedly.
"Take up defensive positions," Terol responded as he back up toward the immovable door. Nudging one of the workers he asked, "How's it going?"
"Almost got it sir." He said it as he looked over his shoulder at the heightening yelling and sudden blaster sounds. Terol nodded and moved back to help his men. A dozen of those… things were rushing down the corridor some in shredded aged clothing, others with broken Imperial armor, and even others with brand new Rebel uniforms. "Don't let them get past!"
Burning red lights flew down the hallways and impacted the assaulting juggernauts as they stumbled forward to attack. Even as their flesh was scorched off and their bodies fell to the ground, some took to leaping to the walls and running as if they were expert acrobats, using their insane dexterity to swing at the staunch defenders.
Terol's ears screamed in pain as the staccato bursts of an Imperial repeater fired from beside him, mowing down the approaching creatures, whatever they were. One managed to tackle one of the defenders, and was promptly shot off, its flesh turning into a massive mass of carbon scoring.
The event lasted only thirty seconds. They managed to keep everyone alive, but they were visibly shaken. They slowly rose from their positions only to drop back into them as the sounds of more footsteps reached them. "How's that door coming?"
A few more taps on his control device and the pulse emitter that had been placed on the center of the door hummed to life and a distinct buzzing sound, along with a dim blue light illuminated the dark hall only for a moment. Then the light died down and vanished. Everyone had turned to watch. But when nothing happened they quickly rotated back to the long stretch of hallway as the footsteps grew louder.
The technicians looked at loss for what to do, and one, in his frustration, kicked the door. There was a booming grating of metal on metal as gears rattled into motion. The door slowly rose up, inch by inch until it was a foot open.
But they hadn't time to watch as the clacking footsteps soon turned into ominous silhouettes. Every single person there, shrugged their shoulders in a groan as the outlines of Super battledroids leveled their wrist blasters at them and began firing. Crimson light reflected off of their navy armor, and their single photoreceptors glowed an eerie green.
Two men fell from the initial onslaught. Terol ducked as a bolt singed past and sent sparks skittering over his head. Taking cover inside the room he'd accommodated, he leaned over to see how high the door way. Two and a half feet at least. But it was enough.
"Go for the door now!"
One by one the soldiers began covering for each other as they ran and dove under the door, avoiding the hail of lasers flying at them.
Unfortunately for them, the Super battledroids armor was highly polished and reflected a majority of the offending lasers off in random directions. The only thing that threw them off was the power behind the repeater's fire. But when he got up to leave, the droid designated him primary target and swiftly eliminated him.
Terol made sure the other had gotten under before he reached into a pocket and pulled out a flash-bang grenade. He pressed a button and primed it, chucking it out the door and waited for the distinct explosion before getting up and sprinting for the door. He dared to look back and saw the droids getting over their brief disorientation and leveling their wrist blasters at him. With a cry he dove under the door as it suddenly groaned and slammed shut. The laser fire from the other side stopped instantly as he was surrounded in darkness. A hand reached down and pulled him to his feet. As his eyes adjusted again, he saw it was the Stormtrooper sergeant. He nodded a thanks and looked around him.
There was apparently a door switch on this side, as one of the men stood by it, dropping his hands from the panel. "Well that was my exercise for the week," he muttered as he checked himself for missing limbs or burnt skin.
Finding none, he continued. "So… where are we?"
They all activated their blaster lights and shone them around looking at the surroundings. Needless to say they were intrigued.
They were in a large room. Well, perhaps it would be better described as a massive chamber several hundred feet high, where their lights couldn't even penetrate the blackness of its depths, nor traverse its length in any direction. The only thing they could see was a series of black, semi-tubular machines, about the size of a coffin. Each one hissed continuously, and was sealed with a pair of metal lids. Terol looked at the one next to him. His stare turned serious as he looked at it. He noticed a small console at its base. It held readings of pressure and temperature, which was currently at below zero. "What the…?" He whispered as he studied the machine. Unlike the foreign language that decorated the station's walls, this device read in plain basic. When he found an "unseal" button he hesitantly pressed it.
There was an even louder hissing and a groan of metal. He stood from his crouched position as the two lids unlatched with a clank and slid down. Hidden beneath them was a cool blue glow, obviously light from within the device. Dust flew into the air when he blew on the outside of it, which he waved away like a bad smell. He pressed his fingertips to the light and found it to be transparesteel. Cool to the touch, it was fogged from the warmer outside temperature. He breathed deeply over it and wiped his sleeve over it.
He could see a vague form from within and he leaned forward for a better look. A few other's had joined him and wiped their hands over the cover. It was difficult to make out, but when he did, so did everyone else, and they jumped back in shock.
It was a human. Frozen solid in a peaceful sleep, if the calm expression on the girls face was anything to go by. Terol breathed deeply from the shock, and with a start looked around him at all the other canisters.
"This is a storage facility. It stores people," he said in awe.
The others went to several other of the coffin like structures and unsealed them to find similar results. All humans.
"Sir, look here!"
Terol turned to the Stormtrooper who spoke and jogged over to see. It was a human girl, young by his sight. But that wasn't what the soldier was staring at. It was her bulging belly; one not of fat, but of ungiven life.
"…She was pregnant," he said incredulously.
"Is sir," said one of the specialists. "These readings monitor life stasis. They're all in… like a hibernation."
"Can we wake them up?" A boom echoed around them, but there wasn't a shudder.
"It's not advisable, given the situation, but yes its possible."
Terol shone his light down the walkway they stood on to see the coffins took on a different appearance. He strode over and looked at them. These sat diagonally raised, each one decorated with a series of figured similar to the writing on the station's walls. The walkway ended at a vertically raised coffin, much bigger than the others. He stood before it and clenched a fist. This one held a waist high panel that lit up at his touch, flickering a few times as it awoke.
"We don't need to wake up all of them. Just one." He unsealed the cover and gasped as he saw seven silhouettes incased within. Without another thought, he activated the thaw option, which was easy enough considering the controls were in Basic. The hissing stopped and the cool glowing blue lights pulsed as they took on an orange-ish color. They all waited with baited breath as the light grew and dimmed. Seconds ticked by, but they felt like hours. At long last the transparent barrier between them and the figure trapped within slid down.
The steam from the dying cold crept across the floor. When nothing immediately jumped out at them, Terol looked at the body more thoroughly. It was very thin, with little muscle to be seen, but he nevertheless looked healthy. He didn't move. Terol reached his hand out to touch him when his eyes opened in a start. Terol reflexively withdrew his hand and used it to support his carbine. The man's eyes were strange.
The man's gaze sharpened after a moment and he looked down on the group of intruders. "Who are you?"
The it was a command, not a question. "I am captain Terol Loren of the Rebel Alliance. This station is currently under attack from the Empire. Can you help us?"
The man's eyes narrowed. "…What has become of the Republic?" He asked after a short pause.
Terol blinked in surprise; didn't this man know? But he corrected himself, realizing this man must have been asleep for a long time.
"The Republic is no more. The Empire has taken its place. It's now a rule commanded through tyranny and corruption. The Rebel Alliance is formed of the discontent peoples of this galaxy who directly oppose the Empire."
The man gazed at the hard for several moments. "I know nothing of these factions. Allow me to educate myself."
For some reason, Terol felt a sense of uneasiness fall over him. He blinked when he saw one of the six figures behind the first, which he'd thoughtlessly forgotten about, twitch and look at him, its eyes opening ominously.
He didn't have time to think before the orange haired male dashed past him. There was a grunt and a thud, and when Terol turned around, one of his men was lying on the ground, a distant, empty gaze in his eyes. The second man flexed his fingers and leapt back, over their heads and landed beside the first.
There was a tense silence as the Rebels processed what had just happened. One of the stormies bent down to examine the man lying on the ground by pressing his fingers to his neck. "He's… dead, sir…."
Terol looked from the body to the trooper, then back to the now seven awakening men. Each one was shirtless, with only a pair of simple long black pants covering them. Each one, except for the middle one with red hair looked physically fit and strong. Obviously their sleep had not hindered their physiology. But the most notable feature was that each one held a large assortment of body piercings, not just on their faces, but also on their chests and arms.
He blinked as he noticed not all of them were men. One was a female with her hair tied up in a knot on her head. She wore a plain black top that clearly exposed her midriff along with the black pants the others wore.
As each of them opened their eyes, Terol shivered as each of them held the same hypnotizing design. None of them spoke.
The middle one's eyes blinked before focusing on Terol himself.
"It seems this galaxy has only fallen further. A pity. It seems we have no choice now."
One of the strangers stepped down and turned aside to a small panel next to the capsule that they hadn't seen due to the darkness. The older looking man waved his hand over the console and it lit up. He pressed several keys with no hesitance or pause. Throughout the chamber, hissing sounds grew and ceased as the covers to several more cryo-chambers opened up, casting their blue light into the darkness before changing to orange.
But more and more kept opening more than Terol could have imagined there was. Then distant twinkles of lights lit up in the distance, spreading like a plague until the pitch darkness around them slowly lifted to reveal hulking monstrosities floating above them. Terol stepped back in awe as the realization of what this place was hit him like a ton of bricks. 'We've either made the best of friends or the worst of enemies in the universe…'
The shadows of kilometer long ships loomed into view, flanked by smaller cousins of radically different design. They sat their silently, like stone golems guarding an invaluable treasure, coming to life only to expel intruders that would dare take that item away. But as looked on, there were even more ships above those hundreds of smaller ships were locked into place by harnesses. Moans like of the dying resounded around them as hundreds of men and women awoke and stepped out of their frozen beds. Each one rubbed their temples and shook their heads before, as if as one, realizing where they were and looked to the middle of the seven.
The man in question simply smiled and turned away from them, looking up at the closest ship. The entre thing looked to be made of gold as it sat their patiently. It had a large beak-like front and on its sides were nasty looking weapons of unknown design.
The man stared at it for several seconds before he turned back to the hundreds gathering before him. Screens appeared on the walls of the massive hanger bay that easily dwarfed that of the ships inside.
Terol looked around him. No one appeared to be panicking or worried, but instead looked at the red haired man with expectance. His own men on the other hand had their blasters ready, their uneasiness clearly visible at this strange spectacle.
Finally the man spoke. "Brothers, sisters!" His voice echoes like it would in the hall of a king, his strong, commanding voice contrasting with his frail form. "It is time once again to rejoin the world of the living. Pray that you haven't grown rusty in the years we've slept. We will cleanse this galaxy of evil…" His eyes widened with emotion as he raised a hand and turned around, his hand out to the golden ship, as if offering an invisible token. "…By way of pain."
A shiver shot through Terol's spine.
The man turned back to the masses. "Red Sun Rising, board your ships!"
Without another word, the hundreds of men and women, all humans Terol noted, walked off briskly into the distance where he could vaguely make out transports waiting for them. Massive spot lights from the floor and distant ceiling came to life and ancient gears grinded into movement. Already ships began to move, their docking anchors released and retracting.
The hum of ship engines soon turned into a thundering roar as they maneuvered around each other expertly.
Terol's comlink beeped and he answered it trying to hear above the cacophony of noise. "We've lost control over the station's systems sir! It's like they have a mind of their own!" He numbly told them not to worry about it, to which he received surprised exclamations, but he had already shut the device off.
His eyes turned skyward in awe as the armada of archaic ships screamed to life. It wouldn't be until later that the thought came to him, but the hanger's dimensions were actually bigger than the station itself.
All over the station, Rebel forces watched in mounting confusion as the zombie like monsters turned away from them and automated defenses ignored them; turrets appeared out of walls and ceilings but did not shoot them, and droid enforcers simply marched past them. Each on had the same thing on their minds.
"What the hell's going on?"
"Enemy shields at seventy five percent captain. We should be through them in another fifteen minutes."
Taric Alistar nodded approvingly. The amount of shields the station had was ungodly, but he took solace in the amount of power the station was producing to keep them up would be a powerful device when captured and installed on Imperial ships. He nearly drooled at the promotion he was sure to get.
He was kept from doing so by a rumble that rolled through the ship. "Damage report."
"Our shields are at fifty percent, but the enemy weapons are cycling between us, the Emergent, and the Offender. Overall we lose ten percent each round they make. It'll be another hour at least before our shields fail."
The Imperial captain nodded again. The two rebel transports were hiding beneath the station's shields which meant they had to wait until the station's shields were down before they could engage. Not that tay would need the Carnivore; A single Nebulon-B frigate could take out the ninety meter long transports easily, let alone two Nebulon-B's and a Victory-class II Star Destroyer. Of course, the rebels were far too attached to their soldiers to leave them in the station, which meant they wouldn't run once the shields were down. They weren't going anywhere.
Some muddled murmuring from the sensors' station drew his attention. "What's going on over there?" he ordered. The three officers, one sitting, the other two leaning over his shoulder, looked back at their captain.
"We have unknown contacts on radar captain."
"Contacts? What kind of contacts?" He asked only a moment before the bridge window flashed in brilliant colors. Taric fell to the ground with a thud. AN aide quickly picked him up as he shouted angrily. "What the hell was that?"
Faint shouting ordered the optical lenses in the windows to focus in on the tiny craft that had suddenly swarmed out of the station. They were only maybe fifty meters long, but they flew with the speed of fighters, an assortment of weapons impacting against their hulls.
"Captain, hostile ships exiting the station!"
Taric grumbled as he steadied himself on his feet. "Launch all fighters and activate the emergency inertial compensators!"
There was no audible response but he knew it was done. He watched with growing calm as the H-shaped TIE fighters soared from the ventral docking bay. Two squadrons comprising of twelve fighters each immediately engaged the bigger hostile ships. He watched as a tactical overlay of the battle came to life in front of him in the form of a 3D hologram, and included the three Imperial, rebel and Unknown ships, and their position relative to the station.
The Nebulon-B's were already using their combined twenty four anti-fighter laser cannons to target the hostiles, which, being nearly ten times larger than a starfighter, were considerably easy to hit.
"Captain, Hostile ships are launching fighters." Several of the hostiles did indeed launch smaller fighters which engaged the TIEs with incredible efficiency. As their fighters danced around each other in a maddening ballet, the bigger ships began to harass all three Imperial warships.
It was several minutes of tense fighting before one of the sensors stations turned from his station, hesitantly taking his gaze away from it. "Captain, we've identified the hostile ships but…"
"Well? Out with it!" Taric growled.
"Sir, these ships date back to the Clone Wars; they belong to the mercenary nation Akatsuki."
Taric suddenly felt a chill grow up his spine. 'The Akatsuki? The third party faction-for-hire that was considered so dangerous that the Emperor himself led the attack on their main base of operations?'
He was very young when the Clone Wars broke out, but he remembered when the Holonet would flash highlight reels regarding the war all across the galaxy. The Akatsuki were a destabilizing factor in the war against the Separatists and against the Republic, depending on who paid them more money. The power of the small, but incredibly powerful Akatsuki, in both land and space campaigns rivaled that of the infamous Mandolorians. Indeed, their combat quality acutely resembled that of the distinct warrior people.
But that didn't make sense. "Nonsense! They're likely just rebel piloted; it makes no difference, just shoot them down."
Indeed space was filled with explosions. A blue flash symbolized the destruction of one of the phantom ships. He smiled. 'If it's just the rebels, this will be a pointless battle and an easy victory!'
"Captain look!" He watched as the window lenses zoomed in on a small circular object that shot from the azure explosion like a bullet. It was a reflective dark green, with verdant green exhaust spewing from its thrusters. Schematics immediately arose from the bowls of the Star Destroyer's computers, pointing out key systems and parts. But what froze the crew in their tracks was the name of the miniscule ship:
CAPSULE-CLASS "POD" ESCAPE VESSEL.
No one had seen one except for the single one that sat in the Coruscant Museum. But everyone knew the stories; men and women would have special surgery that allowed them to connect with a ship like it was their own body. Those who had the surgery lived almost exclusively in small craft called "capsules"
They were the only ones who could; no one else could pilot them. So when that capsule came screaming out of the fiery explosion, everyone was thinking the same thing. 'Those are real capsuleers…'
All of a sudden, he felt very crewmember's eyes fall on him. He looked at them; they were uncertain, wary, and fearful. He pulled himself together and looked at them defiantly. "They are an age old menace to this Empire. We will eliminate them with the same ease as any other rebel force!"
The crew, slightly emboldened, went back to their work as Taric went over to the sensors station. "Bring up data on all hostile ships in combat." The young officer nodded and did so, bringing up information on the main holographic display; little text boxes appeared on the tactical overlay with little lines pointing to the different ships.
According to the information stored in the Imperial vessel, the enemy fleet consisted of several dozen "frigate-class" ships. Apparently the capsuleers used a different ship size system.
Names began appearing left and right: Atron, Condor, Incursus, Rifter, Tristan, Slasher, Heron, Punisher, and Executioner.
Each one showed to specialize in various, unique weaponry ranging from missiles to projectile weapons; from exotic lasers to powerful hybrid railguns. The turrets on said ships were fast tracking easily capable of pin point firing at key systems. More information came up regarding their fighters. Apparently, they used miniscule droid fighters that we capable of dogfighting with great skill. Indeed, his TIEs were trading blows with them, though their droid vessels were obviously superior, considering they also had shields.
Two more of the enemy frigates exploded in bright blue flames. Their capsules shooting off back toward the primeval station. But the tactical display soon began beeping in earnest with the appearance of more ships. Taric watched with an estranged expression that soon turned to horror as massive ships that could have matched a Star Destroyer's size began emerging from the massive docking bay. Some of them measured in the hundreds of meters easily the size of his own ship, others the size of the big Imperial-class Star Destroyers.
Five ships only a third of the Carnivore quickly made their way across the field of battle, refusing to fire and shrugging off the scattered pot shots taken at them. The computer showed two Omen-class cruisers, one Blackbird-class cruiser, a Thorax of the same class, and finally a tad larger and far more bulky Brutix-class battlecruiser.
The two Omen's stood off from the fight and fired brilliant red beams of energy at the two Nebulon–B's while the Blackbird circled around all three Imperial warships. The Brutix continued to approach until it slid alongside the Carnivore. Taric knew what was going to happen as soon as he saw the thick guns on the side of the ship rotate toward them.
"Prepare to broadside!"
The numerous weapons of the Victory- II class Star Destroyer clashed with the humongous Neutron Blasters. Both ships rocked from the force throwing crew members to the floor despite the emergency inertial compensators running at full steam.
The barrage stopped when the Brutix passed them completely, rounding about for another pass.
"Shields at six percent! Armor taking slight damage!"
Taric looked at the opposing ship incredulously. "How much damage did we do?"
"Enemy shields at forty percent."
Taric some solace in that his shields had already been weakened before the other ship engaged. Had they both been on even ground, he would have won. All of a sudden sensors began fluctuating all around the bridge, officers calling out situational reports. Even as he watched the hologram of the battle began to flicker, images and words scattering randomly around it in static.
"What's going on?" He called out to no one in particular.
"We're being sensor jammed sir! We can't track the enemy ships." He was answered from no one in particular.
Taric let his gaze fall on the idle Blackbird orbiting them. 'There's no way to win this fight,' he finally admitted to himself, noting that the biggest ships hadn't even started firing yet. "Order the Emergent and Offender to cover our escape and jump into hyperspace as soon as possible!"
There was only one way out of this alive; run.
Ord swore as he received Taric's orders. 'What does that blasted fool think he's doing? He's sacrificing us to save his own skin!' Unlike the Carnivore, the Offender did not have data on the enemy ships, nor did Taric see fit to share the information with either him or captain Traw. Having no knowledge of the enemy ships had put him at a severe disadvantage initially and even now he tried coordinating attacks despite the jamming they were receiving.
He watched with growing anger as the Carnivore accelerated into hyperspace, but not before receiving a withering, probably crippling blast from one of the bigger ships. He took joy in that fact; Taric would look pathetic when he arrived at any Imperialoutpost.
But as for the here and now, he knew the battle was lost. The only thing he could do was try and find and honorable end and die fighting; like and Imperial captain should. At least, that was his line of thoughts until his communication's officer reported, "Captain, the Emergent is broadcasting a system-wide surrender message. She's giving up sir."
Ord sighed heavily and rubbed his face with a sweaty palm. There was a heavy silence that followed. No one in the bridge moved. After several seconds, Ord shook his head and looked to the same young man. "Broadcast the same message; cease combat and withdraw TIEs. …We lost this one." He said as he sat down in his chair. It felt all too relaxing now, compelling him with a notion of sleep. He was tired for sure. He hadn't been in many fights, mostly being cleanup missions involving pirates. He'd never fought such a… a draining battle. Maybe this was why older captains' hair grayed quickly.
Presently the jamming ceased and a transmission from the Emergent brought him out of his rest. When captain Traw's image appeared in front of him her smile was gentle. "I'm glad you took my cue and surrendered."
Ord sighed deeply. "I suppose it was a losing battle… I can't help but wonder why you did it."
She blushed slightly and brushed a lock of her red hair behind her ear. "Well… there was another reason…"
Ord looked at her curiously. "I'm actually an undercover Rebel Alliance informant," she said with a slight grin and a bashful expression.
Ord sat in silence after hearing that, but it wasn't long before he shook his head and chuckled. The chuckle turned into a full laugh as he held his head up on one of the chair's arms. "I guess we never would have really won anyway then."
"You're not angry at me?" She asked with surprise.
He shook his head. "Maybe a little, but to be honest I kind of envied the Rebels for their persistence and camaraderie. I don't suppose they'll take Imperial captains prisoner."
"Oh they will, gladly," she said with a tinge of relief in her voice. "If a captain surrenders, then that means the ship belongs to the Alliance, and trust me when I say we need the ships."
He looked at her oddly. "The Alliance is that pressed for ships? This is only a Nebulon-B y'know. It's not that valuable."
She shook her head. "It's more than valuable; its invaluable. The Alliance will take what it can get."
He sighed again. "So what now? You board my ship, take my men prisoner?"
Her face suddenly changed but not in a negative way. Her expression seemed to hold knowledge… a secret she wasn't telling him; like a child who knew something someone else didn't.
"Well, we will yes. But I can't speak for the others."
"Others?" Ord asked, not understanding.
"Yes, aside from the two transports, none of those ships are ours."
Ord was confused now. "But aren't they your crews?"
She laughed heartily, but not with mirth. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
He formed a mischievous smile and looked askance at her. "Try me."
She smiled as well and looked him dead in the eyes. "Captain, what do you know of Capsuleers?"
A/N: So you see what I mean now? It's a bit different, but I feel it will work
You all know how I work; if there's something you don't understand, it will be explained later on. No need to worry. So tell me what you think!
Seriously, just hit the review button and tell me what you think. Love ya guys!