Another one of those DJB works. This one was pure fun to write!
Scenario: A huge allied base is on fire and a Jedi is on it. I, being the awesome Dark Jedi, have to do an S&R or an S&D for survivors or the Jedi respectively.
The thick smoke rising from the garrison was awful and I could see my soldiers’ minds urging to cough through their helmets. Showy bastards. I was not doing anything of that sort and I did not even have a helmet. The sergeant was shouting orders through his helmet, trying to add a measure of the immediate atmosphere’s charm – he was breathing heavily.
“Stay frosty, men.” He said, trying to get an ironical pun out of his way and into the minds of the poor buggers of his squad. I cannot imagine anything dumber than this when we are going to perform an ‘impromptu multi-role assault/rescue/recon operation’ on a base that was on fire.
And they call me to help them out.
“Stay frosty, men.” – He continued - “The area inside is heavily damaged, and IR reports say that visibility is low.” Good going, sergeant! I did not know that!
“Erner, you take point; Wesnell and lot, you cover the general. The rest, follow me.”
Wesnell, that corporal. I hated him. For the record, I hate anyone without a sense of intelligence that, if not flooding their eyes, should at least reach the level of their mouths.
He smiled back at me and I gave him the old Dark Jedi icy stare. I also summoned the best vile voice I could find (it was a Noghri’s) and blasted it across to him.
‘You lead, corporal. You will need someone to back you up.’ The extra emphasis sent a shiver down his spine that could have, with certain limitations, sent an electromagnetic wave all the way to Codei without losses! How absolutely scared is that?!
“Y…yes sir, general. Sir.” He stammered. Moments like these make me wish I had my throat intact so that I could laugh at the victims’ faces. Yet, I needed him. He was still a decent leader. Ambitious about many things (including the sergeant’s wife) but capable of delivering too (except, I suspect, with the sergeant’s wife).
Erner went inside. I tracked him around with my mind’s eye. It was actually fascinating to see his form in bright yellow being swallowed up by the fiery lower level. The flames licked his sides cautiously, as if to taste him. Eventually the tongues grew into a gaping mouth and swallowed him whole. The blazing inferno outside dug itself into my eye and I lost track of him.
Turns out he was literally swallowed by the flames.
“Erner? Erner! Can you read me?” Sergeant Tesin searched for a futile explanation for Erner’s silence. The flames burned louder than the static and I decided to break the news to comfort the sergeant.
“Dammit man! He was a good and evasive soldier! The burning embers could not have got him. Something else is there.” He looked to have lost his cool. I charmed him completely by volunteering to lead the lot. My [to them, as well to some others] godly powers could help them out. The splitting up plan was avoided, and we went in as one.
Once we did enter, though, I regretted volunteering for it and immediately called for one of their multi-role helmets.
I regretted that decision too. The heated, suffocating apparel was not protecting my body from the infernal rain of heat that was pouring through the entire assembled structure. I knew now why the sergeant was hissing and breathing heavily whenever he talked through it. The filtered and converted oxygen that was spewing from two tubes near my cheeks only added to the nauseating miasma that surrounded my body.
All it did was save me from an extra chore of regulating my breath. The HUD was basic, for the Force told me more. (The HUD, for example, could not tell me if lance-corporal Retora was evading the thick carbon-spewing chunks of melted metal by way of selfish body-protection or because he was interested in Wesnell and was merely showing off.)
It did not matter because we reached the body of Erner. Great globules of pus marked his inflated face, and his neck was expanding at an alarming rate. A large metal piece lay dented near his face. A quick search revealed a sharp hole in his helmet; and a quicker research showed that the air in this level was quite toxic.
I made that fact known to the men. A collective, inaudible gasp filled the crackling space around them. They immediately checked the straps on their helmets.
Through their HUD’s, they could see the strewn bodies of poisoned men as they walked. It seemed like they had suffered acutely before giving way to the cold and calm of death. I saw the lot of them choking without voices, like a sepia-clad movie being played backwards. They dislodged their hands from their necks and started running backwards, before getting back to their jobs. The ventilators were obviously the source, as the lance-corporal pointed out. I let a bubble of consciousness swell. No life on the second level. None on the third. Nothing yet on the fifth or the sixth or the hangar or wait!
Something moved. Too far away for me to resolve, though. I asked for a map of this prefab garrison. Poor question, I realised. Wesnell looked at Retora, who looked at a private, who looked at the sergeant. He was busy looking elsewhere, so I let a good natured choke arrest his throat for a moment. He coughed violently (to my utter surprise!) and looked at me.
“I am afraid we don’t have one sir! There was this one man who knew the base’s nook and cranny by heart.” Tesin pompously declared. The edginess at being addressed by a ethereal voice had almost disappeared.
“Unfortunately, Erner, sir.”
‘Do you at least know the easiest way to go up?’
Wesnell answered. A quick nod of the head and a finger pointing towards a lift. It was, naturally, in a state of metallic ‘tatters’. These on-the-field-never-been-to-a-prefab-base men were absolutely useless on such a mission. I was useful because I knew Force rituals by heart instead.
A short burst of concentration told me that the moving figure had descended away from our current position. He was a blip on my mental radar, basically… and he had sprouted wings.
The blip shrouded away from my Sight and erratically moved about the hangar and the sixth levels. Funnily, those were the fire-infested ones. Sergeant thought it was decidedly funny. His mind summoned a charming picture of a heroic man with a body-mounted fire extinguisher gushing fire-extinguishing substance to extinguish the fire about him. Heroically, that is.
I shook my head mildly before shoving that image away from my mental HUD. Thought spam was a piss-off.
Wesnell suddenly piped up, and to get a one-up on the sergeant, hurriedly spoke a lot of gibberish. It amounted to the receding garrison personnel sighting a lighted ball of a couple of humanoids crashing across the sloping walls of the dead building. (Clarified by the much experienced sergeant, to the utter shame of Wesnell.)
My radar told me the blip was on the walls. Clichéd, but reality is like that, I simplified.
‘Move out, men. There is nothing else here but death and its lovely, ardent and seductive scent.’
They moved out immediately.
It was a Force User! How brilliant! I saw the vibrant coils of the Force engulf him to the extent of becoming a cloak over him, something like my own tendrils (The difference lies in the fact that my cloak billows). Also, did I forget to mention the crazy-looking Yuuzhan Vong? I did.
It was a Slayer, said Retora (The Lance-corporal was faster than me with the datapad). But it was fascinating to see the fight between the Jedi and the Vong. He was also speaking its language, and the tumbling and slapping and the punching at once reminded me of something spoiled.
‘Kink—’ I began and stopped myself. I added a refreshing tinge of distortion to the end of it in a hurried attempt to stop my innards being plainly in sight of the lowly men.
No one looked, thankfully. They were mesmerised by the show of grit, agony and …yearning for victory that was shown by the two humanoids.
I was not mesmerised due to that, however.
They stopped fighting abruptly when I heard the man talk to the Vong. Unhurried, smooth words came out his voice, as if straight from a book. He was pointing at me (at which point I shrunk, or wanted to) and the Vong followed the lightsaber’s gaze. He controlled the beast! Bloody Palatinian!
My men prepped their weapons, but it was absolutely useless. I directed Wesnell to call for backup, preferably Oberst (hopeless move, I knew, therefore I added the clause ‘or someone’ to the order). As he hastily spoke through his helmet, I strode up to the uneasy allies and showed my lightsaber. The silver, scholarly hilt suited my pale hands. I reached out to him through the Force, and bellowed.
‘You controlled the beast! You bloody Palatinian!’
“What?” He spoke, mildly. I immediately reprogrammed my tendrils and assessed the situation before widening my eyes. He was a light Jedi! I mumbled something awkwardly apologetically about Clan tradition and whatnot before he pounced on me.
Figuratively, of course.
I dodged his attack inelegantly and his pet pounced. This one was literal. I ignited my blade and kept it perpendicular to its trajectory. The silly bugger fell straight into it and my triumphant grin already primed itself to form on my face. Yet, with a lowly crackle, my lightsaber compressed a mechanical energy onto my fingers, as if the shaft of light was made of rubber. I vainly pushed at the Vong, and we both repelled each other in a soft thud of sound.
I fell onto the ground and finally those bastards opened fire. The alien was impervious to the blaster bolts, but not to my lightsaber, I knew. I let a blast of deep-throated power roar across to the Vong. It excited the air around it as it flowed, creating an illusory ‘ball of air’ before it hit the beast squarely at his neck.
I wanted to shout “Gotcha!” with triumph and glee. Damn the menacing aura that I had to maintain.
The Jedi attacked in my reverie, and his ally’s agony. His saber whirred around with extravagance few I had battled with had. Perhaps Saitou could have matched the man’s display. I could not.
It served as a reminder of practice. The blasters around me paled in comparison to the radiance of his lightsaber. Perchance it was my own psyche, threatening to collapse under the dual strain of fear and admiration.
“Typical Sith. Scared cowards.” He roared and beckoned his mate (I use the word solely to mean camaraderie) [His men are yours]. I tried to think not of the literal consequence of the words as he pressed his advantage.
I created many more globules of kinetic flow, drinking deeply and thirstily at my well of power. He dodged many, and dissipated more and kept coming at me. He was good.
Through the alarmingly accelerating fight, I felt emotions overflow from his mind – a girl’s image and a really scary picture of an old man.
I let the old man’s picture stay where it was, gingerly patting it to remain nice. His girlfriend’s picture, although, was fertile ground.
She went careening into the midst of a black hole in his eyes, screaming “help me, love! Help me!”. Granted, it was cheesy, but for a moment, the man stopped.
I was awesome with my illusions.
I backed away to my soldiers, my eyes not wavering from the Jedi. (He recovered remarkably well.) When I looked back, it was only the three people I have mentioned (except the private, and Erner, of course) who were gallantly fighting off the beast.
Wesnel shouted, “ETA of reinforcements – 2 minutes, general!” Too long. I scowled, analysing the situation with breathtaking speed.
I whispered to the air around the beast, coaxing it to follow the rhythms I was creating. They responded speedily. Within moments, the bulking warrior was covered with a sheen of rotating darkness. For a few seconds, he was out of the fray. I focused my remaining prowess at the Jedi. He frowned at the displayed power and rocketed towards me. My men fired at him. Blaster bolts bawled towards him, where they were harmlessly dispatched. My purple lightsaber was ready.
I opened myself completely to the Force, letting the control of the whirlwind fade from me. The length and breadth of the arena responded to my call as I inhaled and waited.
The dust responded by making me involuntarily jump aside, breaking my brittle ankle. My agony-filled scream was drowned by a screech of laser-cannon against air. I saw Defenders hurl out of the dark air towards the Jedi. He bellowed a curse, and erected a barrier of energy around him, violently dissipating two cannon-shots before he dodged away. He was good. His lightsaber managed to repel another shot, though the grip itself seemed to be unstable and he let another howl of frustration pierce through the screeches.
They reminded me of his friend
I looked back to see the Vong being crushed by the mighty cannons.
A heap of stocky black was all that remained, and Tesin limped away from the body along with the others. He was pleased, I guessed.
I looked up at the TIE/D’s. Oberst had sent them early, how untypical! (Later, I realised my apprentice, the squadron commander, had ordered his squadron to leave early. He would also be suspended for rash behaviour, and unnatural attachment.) They were still zooming around the air, trying to nail the Jedi scum. Yet, he was nowhere in sight.
Sonuvabitch disappeared. Typical Jedi.
My ankle was being foolishly painful. I called for help, and gave a thank-you message to my apprentice flying above. Mission blearily accomplished.