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Encounter at Bie'Lek - Chapter 8

Written by: Hawkins and posted on: Sep 12, 2015



Encounter At Bie’Lek

By CM Hawkins

Chapter 8

Redren felt the pull of straps through his armour, as the Assault Transport accelerated out of the hanger of the Aedgillis. He faced backwards, into the hold of the craft, looking at his troops. A full squad of ten Troopers, including his usual team. And a... guest. The eleventh member of boarding team was armoured in black, similar to that of the old Dark Troopers. Every armour plate was curiously engraved, with symbols Redren didn’t recognise. He recalled Chimaq informing him that he would be acting under the orders of an Imperial Officer on this mission. Redren had never seen Chimaq so uncomfortable – he had sweated profusely throughout the additional briefing session with just the troopers. He did not know the name, nor even the rank, of the officer, just that his instructions were to obey his orders, without question. The officer had been onboard the transport as they arrived, and had thus far not spoken. Only a vague incline of his head as his squad arrived had indicated he was anything more than a suit of elaborate armour.

Redren turned his attention to his squad.

When we land, I want a standard offensive dismount. Watch for defensive positions, automated defences – you know the drill!”

A braying chorus of “Sir!” followed his orders.

Redren turned to face the monitor to his side, and cycled through the views outside the transport as he felt it bank sharply. The gunboats of the TIE Corps were engaged with waves of TIE Fighters. Green laser fire tracked back and forth across the view screen. He watched as one of the gunboats broke pursuit of one fighter to redirect its fire towards a group of TIEs approaching the transport. Redren was impressed. Rho was doing a fine job against incredible odds. An explosion caught his eye. He watched the movement of the Gunboats against the TIEs, and began to spot a pattern. The ‘boats around the transport would weather the incoming fire from the TIEs moving on the transport, before swapping out with another. Whilst the new ship took over the close defence, the remaining squad members picked off TIEs as they moved away from the transport, gaining distance ready to turn for another run, the relieved gunboat moving further away from the fight, recharging their shields.

Switching the display to the forward view, Redren saw the asteroid loom large before them. He could clearly see the hanger bay they were heading for. Sensor readings from the original mission had given them a good idea of the layout, and the landing had been carefully planned. He adjusted the view to zoom in on the hanger, before several things happened simultaneously.

The screen in front of his erupted in a shower of glass and sparks, and he was slammed into the back of his chair. The transport rolled over on its end, and warning klaxons echoed around the transport bay. He felt the artificial gravity fail, and the main lights went off. They were plunged into darkness.

* * * * *

Haytha lined up on a TIE Fighter moving towards the transport, and squeezed his trigger. He cursed as the shots passed between the TIEs wings, just behind the cockpit. It had the time to loose a few blasts towards the transport before he adjusted his aim and ripped the TIE apart.

“Another flight pulling out, high port.” Ions voice came over his radio. With no way to share target data on the incoming fighters, they had resorted to verbal indications of location. High port was high to the left of the transports flight path. Haytha looked to where Ions had indicated, and sure enough, a flight of three TIEs were moving away from the transport, no doubt creating room for their next attack. He redirected energy to the engines, watching his shield strength bleed away as he did so, and tore off after the craft. He tracked their path, and fired. Before the blasts reached their targets, the craft dodged out of the way in perfect unison. Haytha frowned; no pilots could react that perfectly.

“These guys are too good,” He called.

“In trouble?” Ions responded.

“Not what I meant,” Haytha said, grunting as he pushed his craft after the TIEs that had eluded him moments ago. “Their reactions...”

“Haytha may be right,” Suhail cut in. “They react as one.”

“Drones?” Ions asked, the sound of his blaster all but drowning out his question.

“Possible,” Regor cut in, “Watch for transports acting as control nodes. I think that's what we saw last time.”

“Aye, Sir,” Haytha called, flying through the debris field that was all that remained of the TIEs he had been chasing. He turned, searching the starfield for targets. TIEs darted back and forth, and he picked a group beginning to turn back towards the transport. He began to head towards them, when a flicker of light caught his eye. On instincts, he drove the nose of the gunboat down, out of the path of the incoming lasers. A flash of shield energy told him he'd cut the manoeuvre a little too finely, and lost some shield reserves in exchange. Their aim was improving. He changed direction several times, watching as streams of laser energy chased his position. He shunted more power to his engines, the last of his shields draining away. He hoped the thick hull of the gunboat would give him enough of an edge.

“Haytha,” Ions called, “You have a second flight closing on you – basic target priority. They’re focusing their forces on a weak link.”

“Who you calling a weak link?” Haytha asked through gritted teeth, slamming his ship into turns he barely believed the craft capable of, desperately avoiding fire.

“Your krelling shields, they are almost gone” Ions barked, in no mood for Haytha's rough humour.

“Draw them on, away from the transport.”

Ions moved after the TIEs pursuing Haytha. They had chased a weak ship when they took out Britax, and Ions hoped they would repeat the tactic. He watched Haytha's gunboat weave amongst them, trying to break their formations; force them to limit their fire to avoid hitting their own craft. Chasing Haytha meant they weren't chaging the transport, and Regor's flight were doing a good job of holding the re-enforcements. If Ions was quick, he could wipe out this entire flight before any other craft could line up an attack run on the transport.

“Bombers, Ions! Bombers!” Suhail’s voice called out over the comms. A pit opened inside Ions; as he turned to cover Haytha, he’d exposed the transport to incoming bomber’s he’d not even seen. He swung away from Haytha and the drones pursuing him, desperately hoping his squad-mate would have the skill to avoid their fire.

As Ions regained a line of sight on the transport, the pit in his stomach yawned wider. The light from the distant sun glinted off the bulky hulls of several TIE Bombers, all closing on the transport. Worse yet, a thick swarm of torpedoes were already in space, their blue trails streaming behind the powerful warheads. Suhail was already firing in amongst the torpedos, several detonating in silent blooms of protonic energy. Ions, finding himself out of position and caught unawares, felt a stab of panic. What was the next course of action? Help Suhail with the torpedoes, or head for the bombers? Could Suhail deal with so many alone? Would ignoring the bombers just mean a second salvo of torpedoes would be launched, leaving the Rho pilots with even less distance to intercept them? These thoughts passed across Ions mind in a fraction of a second, yet to Ions they crawled through his brain with all the speed of a bulk cruiser.

Blinking, Ions decided. He cut towards the bombers, his finger already on the trigger of his lasers. Pushing his throttle to max, he hoped his drive towards them would cause them to divert from their target, and give Suhail the time he needed to deal with the torpedoes as short as that would be. He hoped it would be enough. His efforts were rewarded as two of the Bomber drones erupted before him, their unlaunched warheads cooking off in their missile pods. He turned towards the remaining bombers.

“Mission critical craft; Shields down.” A tinny, electronic voice came over the coms. No, this wasn’t going to happen. Ions wouldn’t let it. He couldn’t. Not after it was he who exposed the transport. No, this was not going to happen.

“Missions critical craft; hull condition critic...” The voice was cut off as a new message interrupted it.

This is not going to happen, Ions repeated to himself. It was not going to happen.

“Mission critical craft; destroyed.”


* * * * *

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