Star Wars One x One
Alright, this roleplay would essentially be dealing with an era in the expanded universe known as the Mandalorian Wars. Just to give you and idea of what this would entail, I'm going to throw up a sample post. If you're interested, message me for the details. This is pretty advanced, so if this post intimidates you, I'd stay wary.
The Thanian Star couldn’t claim to be the fastest ship in the system and it wasn’t attractive by any means, but on more than one occasion, its rickety metal hull and jury-rigged engines had measured up with that of the republic’s finest vessels in show of swift determination, albeit this was after the instillation of a few well-placed modifications. Well that and the fact that the republic’s finest didn’t necessarily mean “top-of-the-line” in terms of contemporary engineering. The light kick of pressure that forced the fuselage to quake upon exiting hyperspace had once sent panicked signals of alarm tearing through Nate’s nerves and driving straight into the fear receptors of his brain, but after years of feeling the steady vibration hum throughout the body of the freighter and immediately dissipate afterwards, the Telosian had grown numb to the sensation. Still, it amused him to watch the Sullustan mechanic Dink flinch every time it happened. He was skittish, but damn good with hydrospanner, maybe even better than Rik. Nate had once come off a smuggling run with both rear thrusters shot all to hell and a life-support system that was looking worse than the surface of Yavin IV at the end of the Great Sith War. The little fella had jumped through hoops, but it had only taken three days and a few thousands credits for full repairs. Nate suspected Dink’s spice fetish might have had something to do with the sudden burst of enthusiasm and automated creativity. And there was still that weird glitch where the shuttle would drift aimlessly leftward without someone behind the cockpit. For all-intents and purposes though, there was not a finer ship . . . in the squadron.
Space was a dark place. That was a piece of insurmountable knowledge that everyone becomes aware of during that first cognitive gaze upward into the bleak overlay of their home world. Sure, there was the occasional glimmer of a star, depending on which system you resided in. Thani had been a beacon of shining luminescence against the onyx abyss of space and had overpowered even the brightest of the distant suns. It was dark that remained over Telos, the enigmatic eeriness of the void. Vast stretches of nothingness that could span for a trillion light-years before even approaching physical matter. Nate’s first trip up had terrified him and Hyperspace travel had not treated him any better. The worst had been simply floating in the blackness. Even years later, Nate still respected what space was and that fear, though healthier, had been retained.
The Ghost Nebula embraced the spirit of emptiness better than any other place in the known Galaxy. It was a haze of dust and debris that had settled into the Expansion Region in the beginning days of the universe, devouring any semblance of light and absorbing it into bowels of murky gloom. The particle cloud served as a gulf that bridged the gap between the Inner Rim Territories and the Mid Rim. It was home to only two systems of note: the Atoa and Umbara, each housing planets of the same name. The latter was their destination, and after this run, Nate didn’t intend to return under any circumstances. There’s a certain extra-sensory aspect that came with being an experienced captain; on Nar Shadda, in a local cantina, some old fool had tried convincing him it was the force, but Nate knew better. One didn’t need to believe in the force to understand gut-instinct; it was a wholesome, natural ability that didn’t require any number of micro-bacteria or ancient training rituals, and to some professions it came easy. There doesn’t always have to be a plausible explanation when you feel something in your gut, you just knew that the feeling you had was something you could roll the dice on and come up with snake eyes five out of six times. You didn’t question it or argue it and you didn’t analyze or rationalize; you simply acted. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” And more often than not you verbalized as well.
In the cockpit just ahead, Laurie, their new hire on, punched a few lines of calculation into the navigation panel before turning to face his employer with a broad grin. The pilot was ugly; there wasn’t a gentle way of putting it. His ears were too big and his jaw was too heavy. A pair of beady eyes squinted to near nothing when he smiled, and a gap could be seen where his right-front tooth should have been. “No offense boss, but you’ve said that about five times in the last two hours. If something’s gonna go wrong, it’ll be when we drop the troops off.” He turned back to the monitor and scanned the readouts of their current trajectory. “So far, so good.”
As if he needed reminding. To say that the maneuver that he and his crew, along with the rest of Tempest Squadron, were being instructed to execute was anything less than the most dangerous aerial stunt they had ever preformed would be an act of self-delusion. They were smugglers; their jobs involved peddling spice and slipping past Republic checkpoints. Circus-stunt flying wasn’t in their job-description, and Nate should know, he had typed “basic” underneath ship capabilities when filling out the application for their military license. Their CO had been less amenable to this small point of distress, having all but utterly dismissed Nate’s protests. “I’ve got a half-dozen men that would be willing to fill in if you’ve lost your nerve, Captain Voan. Just don’t expect the Republic to fit the bill for any more repairs you might need. You were assigned to the Fenris due to the reputation of your crew; we were lead to believe if the situation called for it, then you would answer without hesitation.” Nate had made several requests to bypass his standing superior, but his pleas to Commander Ossun were denied repeatedly. Apparently the man had been injured during the last operation and was not addressing complaints at the present. When the 8th Fleet had burned its course through the area, they had been assigned to fly compliment to the Fenris, and by proxy IRSOG-37, when the detachment had banked for the Umbara System. Initially the promise of increased pay had been all the reason he and Rik had needed to follow through with the transfer, but now neither of them were nearly as certain.
“It’s no wonder a crew finds itself in distress when their own Captain can’t even seem to get a handle on his own nerves.” The tone carried neither contempt nor condescension, merely fact. Her voice was pretty; it wasn’t the honey smooth melody of a cantina dancer’s flirtations, but the tranquil echo of the water distillery a few yards away from the junkyard back home. A hell of way to romanticize things, but you drew from experience. Had he been a smiling boy on Dantooine, Nate might have said a “trickling stream” or a “babbling brook”, but that wasn’t the case. Even so, in his mind, the description fit perfectly.
“The wonders of the cargo bay lose your interest?” He turned his head upward and locked eyes with the woman. To say she was anything but beautiful would be a sin, but with a Jedi, beauty wasn’t normally the first thing to cross a man’s mind. That fact would prove to hold true here as well. The features of her face were hard, and where the smile lines at the corners of her mouth told of many fond memories, the creases at her brow spoke of things she would sooner forget. From the way she had skated around his statements regarding her age, Nate figured her to be older than his first assumption of thirty-five, but not by much. The tresses of her robes fell around her figure languidly, hiding what he was sure were smooth, supple curves that had never been touched or explored. In contrast to himself, the woman was utterly chaste in her actions and, from what Nate gathered, her history as well. Even knowing all this, it would be foolish and shameful to see her as anything other than what she was: a soldier.
She chuckled; it was a pleasant sound. “The boy had started counting the panels on the ceiling aloud. It was about as much as I could stand.” Her padawan, Nate guessed. Good kid, a bit self-righteous, but who hadn’t been at twenty? “But no, I came to check on our progress. How long before you believe we’ll be landing Captain?”
“At this rate, we’ll be preparing for entry in roughly thirty minutes,” he said.
She nodded and rested a set of lithe fingers on the back of Nate’s chair. “Very good, and well done, you’ve managed to deflect my initial statement quite skillfully.”
“It comes with the trade,” he chuckled. “But if it’s an honest response you’re looking for, then I’d have to say it would be stupid not to worry. Every time we lift off it’s taking a risk, and every time we pull a stunt like the one we’re about to try, that risk seems to triple. With the way things are shaping up I’d say our margin of error looks about like this.” Nate illustrated his point by holding the tips of his forefinger and thumb apart by a hair’s width. “If we don’t hit that gap, then it’ll end up bad and I’ve got no way of predicting who’s going to suffer for it. It could be you and that boy you’re looking after or it could be Dink and Laurie,” he said, gesturing at the two, “It could even be me and my brother.”
“Yet Rik doesn’t seem slightest bit worried,” she commented.
“And he hasn’t been a day in his life,” Nate sighed, “The worrying part’s always been my side of things, but that’s how I’ve wanted it.” His hand fell to the arm of his chair. He felt his knuckles going white. “And it’s this place.”
“The Ghost Nebula?” she asked.
“Yes,” he answered. “It just doesn’t-“
“-feel right?” the Jedi woman finished, “No, I wouldn’t expect it to.” She stepped down from the raised platform of his chair and moved to the edge of the compartment. A small row of three viewing portholes had been etched into either side of the ship’s exterior. Normally one could peer out and see a sprawling black canvas dotted with a thousand specs of blue and white, but when the woman gazed out, Nate already knew what it was she would see: nothing. “It’s a dark place, Mr. Voan, and I’m not just speaking in a visual sense.”
“The Universe and its formation of systems and planets have always been something that was considered entirely natural by those who inhabit it; a moving, shifting ecology of stars and nebulae whose control extended far out of reach of sentient life forms such as you and I.” She gestured past the glass of viewing window to the void beyond it. “It used to be the opinion of the old masters that there was nothing inherently good or evil about the Universe in and of itself, but there have been new theories to come about which state otherwise. This Ghost Nebula, for instance, has two of the largest stars in the known galaxy resting at its core. They give off waves of ultraviolet radiation so intense that it actually ionizes the cloud around it and forms large quantities of negatively charged plasma. The Atoa and Umbara system are bathed in this negative energy and as a result have spawned cultures that are a less than ideal fit with The Republic’s image of a proper government.”
“You kidding?” Nate chuckled and Dink, who had been tinkering with something in the corner of the room, gave him an odd look. “So you’re telling me that systems, star systems, can be aligned with either the “light” or “dark” side?” He didn’t attempt to hide the skepticism in his voice, she would have known regardless. “That’s ridiculous!”
“Is that so? Then what of planets such as Korriban, a lonely rock that circles an isolated sun in a region of the Galaxy labeled as Sith Space. Despite numerous attempts at reform by several prominent members of the Senate, it has endured for thousands of years as a beacon far dark lords and malevolent practitioners of the force. It has spawned multiple empires, and been the source of endless conflict since the beginning of inter-planetary communication.” The weary woman rubbed her eyes, “To say Umbara is evil would be a gross overstatement, but there’s no denying it has darker aspects to it. There’s the matter of it’s barbaric caste system, and the infamy of its cold, calculating representatives. The hostility of its flora and fauna.”
“Still...” Nate trailed off. There was little leeway in the way of debate on his part. He wasn’t a learned scholar of galactic history or an accomplished astrophysicist, but the idea of it felt entirely backwards when compared to how he had come to know things. You formed assumptions off your experience and any second-hand knowledge was only a step above useless. At the present though, the tense feeling that had formed a knot in his stomach upon entry into the system had tightened, and it felt like a bleeding ulcer had taken up living arrangements at the bottom of his belly. "If that’s the case, I wonder where Telos sits on the scale.”
She chuckled. “I wouldn’t worry too much about it, Captain. That was just some rambling on my part.” The curtails of her robes skimmed the metallic surface of the floor as she made her way to the door. “I’ll have the rest of my men prepare for our departure.”
“Right,” Nate nodded, “It won’t be long now. Make sure y’all are strapped in tight and go head and turn your comm. link on.”
“Of course.” She turned her head to meet Nate’s eye one last time. “And Captain,”
“May the force be with you.”
Kant was just a farmer’s kid from Tatooine that had grown up with few dreams and next to nothing it terms of expectations. When the Republic had assigned him to the Thanian Star he hadn’t really known what to think. His first position had been as a crewman on the 8th Fleet’s flagship, but when Captain Voan had put in a request for fresh hands, his name had been thrown into hat with about a hundred others, and woe and behold, he had “won” the drawing. Now he was a deckhand that did everything from mopping up to basic maintenance, but his real value lay in his abilities as a reserve gunner. The Star had four guns: one in the rear, two at the sides, and one mounted above the cockpit, yet before the troop bid there hadn’t been a large enough crew for it to be fully manned. Now with the addition of himself, as well as three of his former bunkmates, they had a full contingency. And he was starting to wish that he had followed his mother’s advice and stayed at home rather than enlisting. Naval life sucked. The only thing different about this job than his last one was the general lack of formalities. No Petty Officer Second Class Kant Dakar here, to the crew of the Star he was just Kant.
Static crackled from his comm. link and Kant brought the device to his ear. “We’re about ten minutes out from atmospheric entry, so everyone get settled in,” Cpt. Voan said over the microphone. Kant dropped the rag he had been dragging across the surface of the ship’s hull into a bucket of soap and water; it splashed and suds dotted the floor around it. The man made the short walk down the main hallway and opened the hatch door leading into the starboard gun compartment. He slipped into the rough-hewn chair and his hands found the well-worn grips of the blaster turret as he swiveled to adjust his position in the small, confined space. Behind him, Kant heard a swish of air as the port side door slid open and Garrick took up his point opposite of the Tatooine native. Across the hall, the young man from Alderaan laughed as he pulled the strap of his safety harness down. He had an easy smile and always seemed find his him humor at the most inappropriate of times. Kant pulled his headset on and switched the frequency to that of the ship’s main line. The hatch doors shut closed with another swoosh of air.
“This is your Captain speaking, we’re now coming into our descent on the Umbara system. If you look left, you’ll see dark, if you look right, you’ll see more dark. Over.” The voice was a mock parody of your typical commercial transport pilot.
“Garrick, this your Captain speaking. Get off the fucking mic. Over.”
“Yes sir, over and out.” Feigned dejection filtered through the headpiece and Kant grinned.
“They’re certainly a colorful bunch,” Sergeant Agassi lamented as he fixed a small piece of technology into the canal of his ear. “If not slightly eccentric.” He adjusted the strap of one of his gauntlets and did a check down of his blaster rifle. All good. Though not overly impressive, the standard-issue republic rifle was solid example of battle-field efficiency at its finest, something he had lectured his men on endlessly during their layover. They hadn’t been overtly appreciative of it. He slapped a thermal clip into the base of his gun and slung the weapon over one shoulder as he ran a brief inventory check on his equipment.
“Their breed has always been a useful one in times of war. They have a cunning that soldiers and Jedi lack, and it allows them transcend simple matters of black and white, and seize the opportunities given to them. In a way, Captain Voan is more capable then either of us given the right situation.” And she was right. Agassi didn’t relish working with smugglers, but he couldn’t deny what they’ve done thus far in the war. Transporting troops and supplies, providing ships and men. Hell the Thanian Star was bordering on famous within the fleet for their efforts in a recent skirmish with Mandalorian fighters. The crew had downed five in the conflict, more than any other individual ship in the fleet, and it was a freighter; lack of mobility usually meant a swift death if they came up against smaller units, but that hadn’t been the case here.
“Alright boys, buckle in.” The platoon leader looked at the anxious faces of his men and gave them an honest smile. “Compared to Duros, this’ll be a cakewalk.” He honestly didn’t know, but he couldn’t have them locking up if they came in contact with the enemy after only five minutes of being dirt-side. Agassi felt his hand begin to shake as he lowered himself down into the bed of the land speeder, the soldiers mirrored his actions using delicate caution as they did so. All that lay between them and the cold vacuum of space was the underside of this vehicle. Across the length of the small cargo hold, the soldier saw the upper half of two more vessels and looked on as the rest of his troops piled in.
The Jedi woman slid into the seat next to him and fixed Agassi with a confident grin. “Worried Sergeant?”
“No ma’am,” he lied.
“This is Voan; thirty seconds,” crackled a voice in his ear.
The ship lurched as it punched through the initial barrier of Umbara’s atmosphere and Nate cringed when the noise of some loose peripheral part that was flapping against exterior of the ship inexplicitly stopped. “Boss,” Laurie started. “I think that might have been the communications relay…” Boy, I tell you the damn truth. Nate groaned inwardly.
“Patch me through to the others and we’ll see.”
“…Yeah,” Laurie said. A few hurried keystrokes and the familiar whine of static filtered through the headset’s output. “The comm. is open,” he said, and then quickly added. “I hope.”
Nate ignored the him. “Suicide, it’s Voan. Can you hear me? Over.”
“Yeah, I’ve got you on feed, Cap. We’ll be on your five, over.”
“So it wasn’t the communications relay…” Laurie mused.
“Just hope it wasn’t something important and head for the Drop Zone.” The whirr of a nearby ship’s engines shook the Star’s body in a fit of unexpected turbulence. Nate reeled in his chair, and Laurie was shoved up against his console. The local feed erupted in a flurry of curses as Nate shoved himself upright and swore into his microphone. “What the fuck was that?” he hollered. This was entirely too dangerous for screw-ups to happen during simple formation flying.
“Sorry,” chimed the Twi’lek, “We came in a bit hot on your left side. I’ll watch it, over.”
This was too stressful. Maybe once the war was over he could settle down on some city planet and live out the rest of his days as a junker. Nate fished a handkerchief from his back pocket and dabbed at his forehead. “Right.” Fortunately for Suicide, he didn’t have the luxury, or the time, and as such had to reschedule the verbal chewing he felt rising in the back of his throat for after the drop. “Tempest Squadron, this is Voan with Tempest one. Tempest one has the lead. Just keep on our flanks and we’ll walk you to the DZ, boys, over.”
“Copy that, Tempest one,” responded a cool feminine voice, “Tempest three has your seven, over.”
“And Tempest four has your rear.”
“Copy that,” Nate said.
They each banked for their respective drop sites which were strategically placed throughout an area of twenty-five square kilometers. Through the front observation window, Nate watched as the nightmare of Umbara came to life in a haunting picture of twisted, purple fungi and scarlet tendrils of unknown plant life that curled underneath the Star’s thrusters as they passed overhead. Their only source of illumination came from the ship’s front spotlight as it weaved slowly back and forth, searching for the designated area, but it wasn’t enough; Laurie would have to rely on the ship’s navigation systems to get an accurate readout of their location. Loathe as he was to admit it, there was something to what the Jedi had said, this place was frightening, unnatural even.
“Boss,” Laurie said, “Thirty seconds.”
Nate nodded and repeated as much to the soldiers. He felt the ship drop closer to the surface in a split moment of vertigo, and he rubbed his temples as spots filtered into his vision. “Get ready to detach-“
Agassi’s weapon trembled under the pressure of his grip as the muscles of his hand clenched and unclenched in an uneasy rhythm of apprehension. He turned his head to look at the four men in the adjacent speeder and nodded to them. Corporal Zantel returned the gesture, checked the belt of his harness, and visibly exhaled. They had assaulted a Mandalorian ship; gone into a hostile environment with inferior numbers; and had emerged the victors, so why then, was the accumulation this wait as tense as it was? Shouldn’t they know what to expect by now? Couldn’t they claim to be veterans of battle? Maybe there was no cure for pre-battle anxiety, maybe it was just something a soldier was forced to cope with. Even so…
“Three. Two. One. Detaching the first speeder.” There was a hiss as the magnetic arm locks underneath the ship released and Corporal Zantel’s face dropped out of sight. The rush of the landscape zipping by resonated off the walls of the cargo bay in a howling rumble of wind, blotting all else, and then the door slid shut. The silence lasted for a fleeting instant before the second speeder followed the first approximately five minutes later. And that’s when it happened.
“Boss.” The normally carefree pilot’s voice had gone stark with fear. “I may have miscalculated our position.”
That was a problem.
“YOU DID WHAT?” Agassi, along with every other person in ship winced as a pop of screeching static pounded against their eardrum. “Pull up! I said pull this fucking ship up! We’re going to slam into that brush! PULL UP!”
“No, I can do this, just release the last two!”
“Laurie, we don’t have the time!”
“Just twenty seconds!”
“Fuck it! It doesn’t mean a damn thing next to our lives you idiot! You’ll kill us all!”
Agassi glanced at his remaining men, and then locked eyes with the Jedi woman. His mouth fell open to say something, and then he felt his body lift upwards as the bottom dropped out beneath them.
Umbara was a blur of purple dusk as the vehicle and palette hit the ground in an impact that jarred every bone in the Sergeant’s body. He struggled to turn his gaze upward as centripetal force crushed him back against his seat. And then he saw it, the Thanian Star as it streaked toward a looming forest of enormous foliage and warped, violet branches, each one the ten times the size of the incoming projectile. The vessel was climbing, but nowhere near the rate it would need to clear the tree line. They were all going to die. And then, in a moment of reduced time, he saw the robes of the woman next to him fly backward off into the distance as the Jedi fought against gravity to rise up from her seat and raise her hands forward. Her shout pierced through the howl of passing wind and the echo precipitated across the length of the landscape as she shoved her palms forward in a pure exertion of power. The air in front of speeder rippled as an unseen power tore a path toward the freighter and gave it the push it might need to survive. Agassi wouldn’t live to find out whether or not Voan and his crew made it.
He turned his head, his eyes widening as they slammed into one of the other speeders.
“Mayday, mayday, this is Captain Voan of the Thanian Star…we’re going down.”
He knew it had been her, the woman. She had at least given them a chance, but they had still impacted in the rear engines. The old ithorian, Wamon Awom, well…the rear gun compartment had been completely torn off. It was unlikely that he would live through the impact, and probably better for him if he didn’t as opposed to dying from concussive wounds that would more than likely stretch the length of his body.
Nate watched as their deranged pilot hammered away at his console, trying desperately to save this sinking ship, but dice had already been cast. Snake eyes. The smuggler got up from his chair and sprinted for the cockpit door, glancing one last time over his shoulder to see a branch of titanic proportions hold fast to its collision course with the front observation window. Nate opened the door and jumped forward as the sound of shattering glass reached his ears before the subsequent impact slammed his body against the back wall of the hallway. He was sure his skull was cracked as he slid to the ground on his back while smaller blows riddled the fuselage, shoving his body backward and forward and left to right.
The Star’s ceiling tore apart more easily than paper, ripping at the seams before spreading downward and through the floor; the front portion of the ship continued its hellish rampage through the Umbaran forest, but the back half was no longer moving with it. They were falling. Nate could tell because his broken body was lying across the door to the cargo hold.
All thoughts drifted from his mind as he watched the lilac sky float away from him in a moment of weightlessness. And then black.