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Lor Timemark 1329.8 - March 1, 2015
Garron-9, Garron System



Trooper Ekna Veiu sat strapped into the back of the transport ship between a Lor mentat clone with a lantern jaw and a member of a scale covered species he couldn't name and tried to steady his breathing. He'd never planned to be a soldier but then the Communion had ripped through the Khanate, leaving the precious few survivors to flee or be turned into monsters. The Lor loved to talk about never forgetting Lor-Van but they hadn't been the only people to lose a homeworld and they weren't the only ones who'd wanted to fight back. Ekna was seventeen stellar cycles old; that had seemed like so long sitting around on his family farm waiting for his life to start, old enough to enlist with the Coalition forces, certainly. As the ship shook from atmospheric turbulence and he clenched his grey-green hands all he think about was whether or not he'd see his eighteenth cycle celebration.


There weren't any enemy ships in the skies above Garron-9, at least. There didn't need to be. What had once been a densely populated border world with almost a billion inhabitants was now a solid sphere of computronium, a planet-sized server to add to the Communion's processing power. A billion people converted into raw materials and 'antibodies', the mindless, shrieking foot soldiers of the enemy. This was only Ekna's second deployment but he'd already gotten to see those up close and personal. They'd lost that moon but he'd acquitted himself well, getting his wounded sergeant to safety. They'd given him a commendation for that. They didn't mention the rest of his squad when they shook his hand. He didn't mention the night terrors he'd had ever since.


That was how he'd ended up as part of one of four squads deploying to Garron-9 with a simple mission: fight their way through and take down a communication relay, in theory briefly blinding the Communion in the adjacent sector long enough for something apparently above his pay grade. Troopers didn't need to know the big picture, he guessed. He looked up from his knees and immediately regretted it as he saw the Grue strapped in across from him scowling right at him. At least Ekna thought the Grue was scowling. It was hard to tell with no mouth. He immediately looked back down regardless. Most of the other troopers were more experienced soldiers and most of them had experience fighting against those who were suddenly their allies. Tensions were always high but the calm before the storm was always the worst.


Then again, at least he knew what a Grue was. Each squad had been assigned a commander for the mission, though Ekna got the impression the rank wasn't exactly official. One of them was a stern Lor officer with no patience for excuses; he'd met a lot of those in the past months. The Zultasian told a lot of jokes and laughed loudly, all swagger and confidence. Ekna had never seen anything like the grey skinned woman with the cybernetic tail, though, and even though the forth commander didn't look all that much older than him he'd heard some of the other soldiers say she wasn't really Lor but Terran and everybody had a friend of a friend with a horror story about a Terran. Ekna risked glancing up again to the back of the transport where all four of them were standing, holding onto handing straps and conversing.

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The fact that Roulette's space suit was stolen from a Lor Security officer was a mixed blessing.  The myriad of soldiers had their share of comfort of following someone that at least looked the part.  Up until they looked at his actual face.  More importantly, it got a rise out of many of the Lor.  Something that the Zultasian found no shortage in enjoying.
Especially when it came to the stick in the mud Lor across from him on the transport.  Too on the straight and narrow for his taste.  Now the grey skinned pirate, despite any claims to the contrary of piracy he was pretty certain on that description, was more of a breath of fresh air to him.  Stahnze appreciated someone with a silver tongue, didn't trust her as far as he could throw her.  But, that was professional courtesy.  Then...there was the Terran.  If he believed the Khanate government propaganda back home, and really why would he, she was a child eating monster aiming to destroy Zultas.  Poor her, someone beat her to the punch.
It was a strange motley.  Roulette had no desire to get all that close to the other "commanders".  As long as he came out of the job with his weight in credits, he'd be satisfied.  All the talk of Remember Planet X or Long Live Planet Y was great and all.  Hey, he wanted to see the universe make it through just as much as the next guy.  He lived in it after all.  But, living in the past never helped anyone.  After all was said an done the need to carve out a comfortable future was still there.  Or at the very least paying off new debts one may or may not have recently accrued betting their latest big payday away.  Either way credits made the universe go round.
After the Voidrunners were offered multiple jobs by the unified interstellar resistance forces thanks to their success in retrieving "critical intel" Roulette was the first to enthusiastically accept the jobs.   Ruby dropped the Zultasian off with a waiting Lor fleet.  And since then it's been one long game of hurrying up and waiting as he was moved around from location to location.  "No really, then I leapt into the gas giant without a ship."  The Zultasian declared finishing the tale of his chase after the criminal known as Photonic.

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Wander hung onto her landing strap with one hand, more for something to do than to keep her balance on the deck of the spaceship. Before this week, she'd only ever been on a spaceship twice in her life, and they were both very different from this. It looked like she was the only Earth human on board, not that it was too surprising, but from the muttering  Redbird had helpfully translated into her ear, they thought she was some kind of monster. That was okay, she figured, better if they were a little scared of her, might help keep a little of the posturing down when she tried to lead them into battle. 


This wasn't exactly what she'd expected when she'd decided to head into space to help shut down the Communion once and for all. She wasn't sure exactly what she'd expected, but it had probably involved more laser battles and fewer weird-smelling troop decks. She and Trevor had decided to go together after the situation on-planet had calmed down, but then Travis had fallen ill, and Trevor obviously needed to stay close by. So she'd taken Redbird instead, in Redbird's NightRyde form, the two of them blasting off into space and heading for the nearest Coalition gathering point. Redbird had made a few complaints about Erin's comparative lack of fast-twitch muscle fibers (whatever those were, Erin thought she was more than fast enough for most purposes), but they'd gotten along pretty well so far. And without the earpiece communicator connecting her with Redbird even here, she wouldn't be able to tell what anybody was saying. 


At the Coalition base, it had been harder than she thought to get signed up to help, and even then they'd dumped her in with a bunch of grunts with no training and a sergeant-type lizardy guy trying to whip them into shape with insults and calisthenics-based punishments. Some things, she guessed, really were universal. She'd put up with this treatment for half a morning before obliterating her training dummy with one well-placed kick and asking the sergeant-type what else he had. After that she'd gone one-on-one to spar with a couple of far more skilled (and far politer) soldiers, then demonstrated her running speed and jumping height. It had caused some minor consternation, but eventually had been passed of as, as Redbird put it "Terrans are really weird." Then they'd given her this assignment and kicked her onto the ship, possibly just to be rid of her.


She'd been able to get Redbird on as well, but the cycle had to travel in the cargo hold. Erin kind of wished she were there too. Instead she passed the time by looking around, trying to identify some of the races she'd learned about in school. Since she hadn't taken Dark Star's seminar in junior year, there weren't many of them. One of the other commanders was definitely a Lor, because he looked like an Earth-human but had the uniform. One of them looked like a surprisingly attractive cross between a human and a Smurf, she had no idea what he was. The other one... well she might possibly be a robot with an electronic monkey tail, but Erin didn't even feel qualified to make a guess.


But if she were going into battle with them, somebody probably better have a plan. "So," she began, looking at the other three, "do we have any information about the setup where we're going? What kind of defenses they've got?" From the little speaker on her jawbone, Redbird helpfully translated for those who did not speak English. Which was everyone. 

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"Cheer up, kid."

The voice, directed at Ekna Veiu, came from the grey-skinned cyborg - though, dressed up as she was, she could have passed for a normal fully-flesh person if it wasn't for the glowing purple irises that looked down at him, not unkindly, from black sclera. And the tail, of course: even now the long, segmented appendage flicked behind her, like something out of those Terran Alien movies, the heavy tip making little patterns in the air as it kept her stable on the transport.

She hated these things; the inertial dampeners never worked right. She'd thought she wouldn't have to be on them again after leaving the Lor military, right up until she got a call from one of her old friends. An old friend with a debt to cash in on and someone with her particular...set of skills, to boot. "The trick to surviving is to not defeat yourself before the enemy has a chance. You're young and you've got something to prove - that makes you more dangerous than half of this ship."

She flashed him a too-many-canine-teeth smile before making her way over to the others. "Not as much information as I'd like," she admitted, grabbing a landing strap for herself. Terran - that was always interesting. She'd expected the Lor - more Lor, really - and the blue guy was about her speed of weird alien, but the Terran had been a surprise. She'd heard rumors from the training grounds, though.... "But there never is, I guess. Wouldn't be half as fun, otherwise; I'm hoping we'll learn more when we get close. Or some military jerk is holding out on us...even odds, maybe."

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Aya K’zan stood at the head of the transport, in her chipped and worn spacesuit, and tried not to glare at the xeno telling jokes just before they went into combat. She knew, intellectually, that there were a lot of different ways to approach a stressful situation, and that some people found that humor could bind them together, relieve tension, make them more effective; but given the stakes and what they were about to attempt, she couldn’t help but see it as a flippant, casual attitude at odds with the deadly stakes of mission. She didn’t know about the Terran, but she had seen Earth’s superheroes up close and personal before; Aya was sure this one could only be an asset.

The grey alien with the metal tail, though, was proving harder to pin down. She navigated the military hierarchy like one born to it, but Aya had noticed purposeful insubordination from her a few times on this trip already, usually when one of the naval officers was throwing their weight around. The Republic’s normally-extensive data systems were shattered and overloaded by more critical data requests, so she couldn’t do her usual research, but something about that one rang in the back of the officer’s head.

All that was secondary, though, to the mission at hand. “The operational commanders will tell us what we need to know,†she assured the others. She half-turned and boost the audio on her suit so that it would carry throughout the compartment. “There’s not much to say, though. This is going to be a simple operation, and if everyone concentrates on their job we’ll all get out of this alive.â€

She cut the boost and began reviewing the planetary details, hoping that she was right. She had only encountered a few of the Communion’s ground troops, and never in a mass battle. Aya was positive in her ability to hold her own against a few dozen; but the planet they were setting down on had had a population of billions. How many were left, mutated and controlled by horrible intelligences, and just salivating for the opportunity to get at these soldiers?

Edited by Raveled
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"Holding out on us?  Tell us what we need to know?  We'll be lucky if we get half of a quarter of the story."  Roulette barked reinforcing the fact that the "commanders" as they were nominally referred knew about as little as their squads did at this point.  It wasn't that the intergalactic was holding out information.  Though, Roulette had  little doubt in the veracity of that as well. He as simply of the opinion, after months of fighting with no clear end in sight, that No one really knew enough about the enemy to paint a whole picture of any plans.  They were flying on the edge of their seats.


A statement that ran especially true for Roulette.  He had only marginally paid attention when he received the squad assignment.  The fact that not everyone had a number attached to their names meant they weren't only dealing in clones.  As if the Grue on the flight wasn't already evidence of that.  Are the Grues Clones?  Has anyone ever asked a Grue how they reproduce?  Of course it could also have meant some clones felt especially individualistic.  A Lor with personality now that was an oxymoron if Roulette had ever heard one.


"At least the mission is making sure the enemy ends up with as little information as us.  Even if we're still lacking in the specifics"  Sabotage, now that was some perfectly fine dishonest work.  Just with a few more abled bodies than the bounty hunter was used to.

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"We can probably make a few safe assumptions," Erin decided. "We have to destroy the array itself, and it's probably going to be surrounded by troops and equipment. Somebody's going to have to get to that equipment who knows what it looks like and knows how to ruin it. That's not me, but I can clear a path for whoever does. My squad can head out first and start sweeping." 


She looked out over the assembled troops. Most of them weren't giants, but nearly all were taller than she was, and most were bulkier. Which meant nothing when it came to her, but hopefully meant they were fit for a ground assault. "Hey!" she called, her voice through the translator loud and sharp enough to cut through the noise from the troops. "Which of you all are in Squad Four? Raise your hands!"


The squads seemed to be assigned seating together, since the dozen semi-reluctant hands that went up were all in one corner of the troop deck. She walked over to them, balancing effortlessly on the deck even through the minor swings in inertial dampening. "My name is Wander, and I'm from Terra. I don't know what the hell you've been hearing about Terrans, but on my planet we've already chased the Communion away, and now we're going to help all of you do it too. Your job is going to be to stick as close to me and to each other as you can while we're taking out Communion zombies. That's the best way to win, and the best way to stay alive." 


A belligerent-looking... something with leathery green-tone skin and a build that put even Harrier to shame rumbled in a voice like an idling diesel engine, "How come you're in charge of the squad anyway? You're like a tiny Terran infant!" Nobody else said anything aloud, but it was clear he wasn't the only one with that opinion. 


"Oh, couple reasons," Wander told him brightly. "One is because I've destroyed more creatures like the Communion drones than all the rest of you put together over the course of my career. Two is because I have tactical training and a flying vehicle that'll let me get a look at the field whenever I need to. But it's mostly three." She smiled at them all. "I scared the hell out of them and they wanted me on the front lines as fast as possible. Are we going to have any problems?" 

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"So, uh...ma'am? Sir. Ma'am."

Eclipse was watching Wander's leadership skills with great amusement when the voice appeared at her shoulder. She couldn't really bear to take her eyes off the little Terran's scene, but she did at least cock her head toward the soldier at her elbow, raising an eyebrow. "Hmm?"

The soldier was young, and standard humanoid - hard to tell what species exactly, under that suit. Lor, maybe? "So, the, uh, the guys and I have a...disagreement? And if you're going to be our leader, we wanted to settle it. My dad was Lor military, see, and he described you and some ops team dropping in to help during some kinda raid on one of the moons at Anos - you're, uh, distinctive, I guess. Not that many cyber-tailed Alar, right?"

"Guilty as charged," Eclipse replied, sounding amused. "I am wonderfully unique."

"...I don't...okay. Right, so, thing is that the Kharg over there-" she paused, gesturing at a four-eyed bruiser type who was busy looking none too pleased and hanging back with the rest of the group, "-he says his brother rode with you during a Khanate raid on some convoy."

"To be fair, it was a slaver convoy," she mused, waving at the Kharg - who responded mostly by looking even less pleased than before. "They kinda deserved it."

"So...what, you're a pirate?"


"....so you're military."


"...then, uh." She paused, glancing down at the tail. "...so, whose side are you on?"

"Usually mine," the grey-skinned cyborg replied, flashing the girl a grin. "And, today, yours. Tomorrow, too, probably - we'll see when we get there. I like you, kid - my group's got a big old Kharg and at least a couple mercs, and you - little scrap of, what, field engineer? - you're the one who talks to the scary cyborg lady. Congrats, you're officially my second-in-command," she announced, throwing her arm around the woman and turning them toward the rest of the team. "First order: tell me to my face when you think I'm wrong. Second order: introduce me to the rest of the group. I need to know what I'm working with before we arrive, because there's never going to be time after."

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Corona checked her HUD and marched down to a section of seats almost at the tail end of the transport. The soldiers assigned to her were a scruffy, nonuniform sort, though so were most of the squads. Still, she gave them a look like their seedy appearance was a personal insult. The Lor stood before them at a position of parade rest, not saying anything for a long minute. Finally, she spoke, her words short and clipped. “Get yer minds off what’s going to happen down there,†she said. “It’s just a fight. Don’t worry none about watchin’ yer own back, worry about watchin’ the back of the guy next to ya. And he’ll be watchin’ the guy next to him, and he’ll be watchin’ the guy next to him, all the way around. And I’ll be watchin’ all of ya, and I don’t miss anything.â€

One of the soldiers, a lanky canid with a long-barreled rifle at his side, snorted at the idea. “You’re tellin’ me some grubbing Lor are going to care about my hide? When they can go and run away instead?â€

In an instant, Corona was pressed nose-to-faceplate with the canid mercenary. “No, I ain’t,†she whispered. “But I’ll tell ya this for free. Us grubbin’ Lor care a hell of a lot about messin’ up the Communion. And that’s what blowin’ this up is going to do, so just as long as we’re all about that then we’ll be fine.â€

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Rouette made no motion to address his squads.  Bemused as he was by the other squads antics.  He was perfectly content to stay in place.  At least until a Lor soldier from the Squad Three seating arrangement made his way over. He was a green haired young man with a thin yet athletic build.  Roulette measured that the green haired Lor couldn't have been a year out of the academy. 
"Sir  The men in Squad three were wondering if you wished to share words?"  The Lor asked.  Scuffling his boots afterwards in  a display of nerves.
"Alright, and you are?"  Roulette asked with a furrowed brow.
"I am Jilinson-08, Demoli-"
"That's too long.  You are now Jibby.  Let me tell you something Jibby.  Chances are you're all probably going to die in various painfully horrific ways.  I know absolutely nothing about military rules and regulations.  And care even less to correct that ignorance.  In fact, Jibby get a field promotion to whatever rank is above whatever your rank is called.  Fresh Eyed recruit second class?"  Roulette's wide eye smile after speaking gave Jibby a direct view of the Zultasian's white  teeth.
"Jibby?  My progenitor served proudly in-"  Jibby's attempt at listing the accolades of Jibby the first was cut off in timely fashion by Roulette.
"Yeah, yeah.  Look I'm just breaking things to you realistically.  An since your deaths are a foregone conclusion means you don't worry so much.  Think about it,  you don't have to feel as if you're risking anything because you already know you won't come out on top."
"Sir, I happened to notice you do not include yourself in the list of casualties."
"Caught that.  I'm probably going to live this is true Jibster.  You're a bright one, let's give you another field promotion.  I am definitely going to live.  I'll even have a drink in your honor"  Roulette exclaimed before pulling out some sort of flask from his uniform.
"..."  The young man was glaring a hole through Roulette at this point.  He wanted to yell, but at the same time there was some sort of visible conflict with a desire to not oppose the chain of command.  Given a few more seconds Jibby likely would have retreated back to his seat.  Making it take all the willpower the former conman had not to push his buttons just a little bit further to see what it would be like for one of the Lor to unravel.
"Okay fine you want less realism, everyone in squad three, list off your species."  Five Lor, Two Broan, One Grue, One Zultasian, One spider faced alien called a Leche.  Two chose not to answer, but Roulette had worked with them before.  They were rival bounty hunters, a squat dog like man in heavy space armour who called himself Grunt.  And a thin, red haired, red eyed woman who had an elven face, calling herself Bleed.  It was clear to any of them that Roulette's squad was mostly made up of 'undesirables' to put a political spin of things.  The only thing missing were members the peace loving alligator like Jerreid Hegemony 


"This is probably the oddest collection of soldiers in space, this will probably never happen again every major government working together.  Take a moment to take in this groundbreaking moment.  You guys are history in the making.  And this is coming from a guy whose crew consist of some kind of unknown variant of Lor and some kind of weird tentacle creature that no one know for sure whether its female or male.  I'm the hired help, I'm not your big brother, The guy that gets results.  I'll keep you all alive if you follow my instructions to the letter.  I'm going to lie to you.  A lot.  More than you've ever been lied to in your life.  Mostly for my entertainment  Frack, keeping you alive might even have been a lie.  But, we're all here for one unified purpose.  Revenge."


That and lining Roulette's account with credits.  But pragmatism spoke to the fact he needed the universe to be around to spend that money.  Roulette shooed Jibby away.  The Lor's footsteps visibly more at ease than when he came forward.  Whether it was because he was happing to get away from the guy who was jerking him around or because he somehow found comfort in Roulette's attempt at reassuring them that their deaths were not certain wasn't outright apparent.

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The troopers exchanged looks with each other as the commanders introduced themselves, some professionally taciturn, some openly sneering and challenging, some with poorly concealed terror. The four squad leaders certainly each had their own inimitable style but they'd all managed to make quite the first impression. A muscular Zultasian in Wander's group who looked young enough to still think he had something to prove started out unbuckle his straps to stand up and say something but a forceful hand on the shoulder from the much older and more heavily scarred Broan seated next to him but a stop to that. The latter instead gave the Terran a frankly appraising look, squinting one of her eyes, and asked in a rumbling bass, "What's a 'zombie'?"


Eclipse's newly appointed second in command did as she was asked and introduced the grey skinned cyborg around, flustered to admit that she hadn't gotten most of her squadmates' names yet herself. The Za'ak seated at the end of far end of the dozen soldiers was paying more attention to Roulette's little speech than his own commander, a scowl deepening over his calloused teal features. "Somebody needs to teach that kark-for-brains that this isn't a frelling joke," he growled angrily, more than loudly enough to be heard by everyone in both squads.


The transport rocked again as it his another patch of atmospheric turbulence, struggling to compensate for Garron-9's violent wind storms. The pilot, a bald Lor in a uniform that would have once communicated his naval rank but now mostly communicated how badly he needed a replacement uniform called over his shoulder to Corona, the closest of the commanders to the cockpit. "Five ticks to the drop point but this mess is playing havoc with the sensors, can't tell if it's clear or not. You want some fancypants tactical maneuvers here or what?" His works were somewhat muddled by whatever he was chewing on, something with a loud crunch and a faint ozone smell of simulated flavouring.

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Corona swayed with the motion of the ship, her aura snapping on for a moment to help her stand steady against the turbulence. She stepped up to the cockpit, her steps heavy and deliberate on the bucking deck, and grabbed the sides of the cockpit door. Partly it was for stability, partly it was to keep the other commanders out.

"Get us to the LZ and hover," she said. The Lor glanced behind her, at the joker and the cyborg and the superhero. "The commanders will clear the LZ and then the soldiers will drop."

Edited by Raveled
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Erin look startled for a second at the Broan's question, then jerked one shoulder in a shrug. "Zombies are things that used to be living, sentient beings, till something killed their minds and started animating their bodies to do evil. The Communion doesn't give clean deaths to the people whose worlds it destroys, it's much worse than that. When we get out there, you shoot for the heads and you shoot to kill, you're doing the poor bastards a favor." She turned her attention to the Zultasian. "I know you're itching for a fight, but it sounds like we have work to do in just a couple minutes here. You'll have all the fighting you can handle, and if you still want to throw down afterwards, I'm totally game," she assured him, leaving it to Redbird to translate the colloquialisms.

"When we get there," now she addressed her squad as a whole, "it sounds like the commanders are going to drop first, then the rest of you. As soon as you land, you find me and form up on me. I'll be the one on the two-wheeled vehicle, I won't be hard to spot."

"Redbird," she continued in a murmur, "we're coming up on approach soon. If you can get out of the cargo bay on your own, I need to you to rendezvous with me on the surface as soon as we stop."

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"You heard 'em, and if you weren't, start paying attention!"

It was the most authoritative Eclipse had sounded yet - the kind of not-quite-bark that didn't demand respect, but came from experience having it. "Look to your left and right, team: your parents and friends taught you the buddy system when you were little terrors, and nothing's changed just because you're big ones now. Rule one: nobody gets left behind. Rule two: if you can't find me, form up under Jacia," she pointed toward the combat engineer from earlier; when one or two of her group started to protest she just cut them off with a vicious grin, adding, "because I said so, and because she's got explosives. If you can't find her, attach yourself to someone else's squad until you can find her or me."

Her grin was downright cheshire-like by the time they'd reached their destination, and there was an awful ticking sound as her tail extended, spine-like segments separating as it reached its full length and coiled around her like a snake. "Cheer up, terrors. Soon we get to show the rest of these teams why we're the best."

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Roulette stood up and stretched his arms out ignoring the Za'ak's growling.  It entertained him to no end, but addressing it would serve him no purpose.  Looking around at his squad.  It was show time.  That meant he ha to at least play the part, a tiny bit.  "Two minutes.  Squad three, exit two minutes after the commanders leave the bird.  Pull security around the LZ.  If there's anything in our way, there won't be within two minutes."  The Zultasian attached his visor to his face, immediately after pushing a button on his suit sealing himself off from the environment with a transparent bubble that acted as a helmet.  The fact that his order almost resembled a reasonable response took the squad by surprise.  They were almost relieved.


Clearly Roulette couldn't have that.  This time he'd address the other commanders.  Riding off Corona's dropping in plan, he wanted to make sure of one little tibit t the plan.  "No dropping altitude before hovering, right?  I'm sure anyone who didn't bring landing gear can figure something out.  Maybe ride a buddy.  That Broan looks pretty sturdy."

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"I could ride you, pretty boy," the Boran shot back loudly, splitting the squad between laughter and groans along the lines of crude pirates and career military professionals. The Za'ak who'd objected to Roulette's style earlier opened his mouth to say something but before he could the entire transports shook violently. This was no simple atmospheric turbulence, as the stream of profanity from the pilot clearly proved!


"Wasn't supposed to be any anti-craft emplacements near the LZ, karkkit!" he shouted back over his shoulder, shoulders bulging as he wrestled with the controls. "This tub's not maneuverable enough to dance this dance, everybody needs to get out now!" The inertial dampeners struggled to keep up as the ship dove steeply downward. The floor between the two rows of seats and straps retracted with a loud whirr of machinery, revealing the metallic sheen of the cyberformed planet below, the surface still a good ten meters away and whipping by quickly, cast in the red light of heavy cannon fire at irregular intervals.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Corona turned back to the cockpit, steadily walking backwards towards the open belly hatch. "Get down to the LZ," she repeated to the pilot, "and then get yourself safe. But make sure the troops are off this ship, first!" She didn't give the pilot a chance to argue further, instead stepping out of the bay doors and dropping.

For all of a meter or so, before her aura snapped on and she caught air. Corona rolled smoothly away from the troop ship, muscling out of the larger vessel's slipstream and into open sky. It was impossible to miss the huge defense towers growing out of the planet's surface, the sides of the structure bristling with computronium cannons and turrets. The Lor officer eyed one directly in the troop ship's path, trying to pick out structural weaknesses. After a few moments though, she gave it up as a bad job and simply snapped off a shot.

The Lor sped through the air, glowing gold and red. She took a moment to tie her suit's systems into the troop ship, putting it on her HUD. She didn't want to get so involved with blowing up the towers that she lost sight of her squad.

Edited by Raveled
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Eclipse gave a jaunty salute as she disembarked, carelessly hopping out of a moving vehicle that was still well above the ground...though the sharp-eyed could put the lie to her attitude, as she hit the ground with a lot more balance and control than she'd put into her initial leap, tail adjusting mid-drop to ensure she hit the ground as cleanly as possible.

Her gun was already in her hand when she rolled into a crouch, snapping open and charging a heavy bolt of plasma. "Should've brought the Horizon," she lamented, vision zooming in on the tower and painting it with a crosshair. "Coulda blown that thing into dust. Easier exit, too. Ah, well."

She fired, flashing a grin when she saw the tell-tale impact on the emplacement's surface. "Time to play the cards we're dealt."

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"All right all of you, stick together!" Erin commanded her troops in a yell over the rush of air from the opened doors. "And don't jump till you get to the landing zone! Watch each others' backs, and I'll catch up with you! Redbird! Meet me at the turret!" With that, she backed up to the  wall, got herself a good running start, and the moment the ship tilted just enough in its evasive maneuvers, launched herself out the opened troop doors and towards the turret. Gravity must have been similar to Earth on this planet, since the feeling of arcing through the air was familiar and easy. As she flew, she turned her body like a diver, folding first in half, then straightening her body so her feet were pointed right at the gun emplacement. She crashed into it with a shriek of rending metal, pounding the thing into uselessness with nothing more than her gloves and boots. 

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Where Corona and Eclipse's attacks had left satisfying scorch marks across the dark, glass green of the weapon emplacement's computronium, Wander's blows shattered the formidable crystalline structure into ruined pieces. What was left was still generally recognizable as a tower but wasn't going to be firing at any approaching spacecraft any time soon. As the Terran slid down the wreckage to the ground she was met by a streak of glossy black and blood red that resolved into a more familiar shape as Redbird brought the Nightryde to a stop hovering next to her temporary rider. "Hah, an excellent first impression, shieldmaiden!" the automonic machine intelligence congratulated her enthusiastically, the twin balls of energy under each wheel well crackling with barely constrained power.


Aboard the troop transport Ekna Veiu unbuckled his restraints and took a few hesitant steps toward the point where Wander had pushed off for her prodigious leap. "She... left footprints. In the bulkhead," he reported slowly to no one in particular, sounding a little dazed. The two career hunters in Roulette's squad exchanged a look while Jilinson-08 blanched noticeably but said nothing, stiff military training winning out even in an extreme situation. The canid from Corona's squad muttered something uncomplimentary about Terrans under his breath. The pilot simply grunted and pulled the transport into a tight turn, heading back for the agreed upon landing zone and hovering about ten feet over the computronium converted ground, an easy jump in the troopers' powered armor.

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Roulette watched the sequential destruction of the tower by the trio.  It was an impressive sight.  "Looks like we did it.  Someone wake me when we land."  The 'we' implied more involvement than he had any business claiming.  Roulette walked back towards his seat on the side of the craft and closed his eyes.  He wasn't going to go as far as actually sleeping. 


Taking his leisurely time to contemplate their tools on hand.  Not lacking for power or precision.  Can't have the troops getting too comfortable.  If they think they're blaster proof with such firepower on our side might lead to complacency.  


It didn't hurt that Roulette's course of action required minimal effort on his part.  The Zultasian wouldn't raise a fuss if the pace continued as such.

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"Thanks, Redbird." Erin took a moment to catch her breath and wipe a bit of turret-gun oil from her face before hopping onto the saddle of the flying motorcycle. "Now we just need to find a couple ways to top that and we'll have cemented the Terran reputation for being crazy badasses. But I think we're not going to have a lot of time to plan, now they know we're here. Let's get to the landing site." 


The pair sped over the ground to the cleared space where the troops were disembarking. "Squad Four, on me!" Erin called out, landing the Nightryde but not dismounting. "All right, all of you pair off. Teams of two, I don't care who's with who. That's how you're going to work this op, watching each others' backs. Stay low to the ground, stay close to me when you can, and don't lose your partners, got it? We're going to be clearing the way for the other squads, so you're going to get a good workout with those guns. And try not to shoot me, either," she added belatedly. 

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Corona watched the tower fall, nodding patiently to herself. Hopefully the troops would take heart from that; the Communion could be hurt, it could be killed. Although she had had a year to get used to the awesome power of some of the Terrans. She hoped it wouldn't intimidate any of them, but with luck they would just consider how Wander's power could be turned against the Communion.


The Lor banked and flew in close to the LZ, watching the troops disembark. It was a hasty thing, everyone crowding around and jumping when they had the chance. She frowned behind her faceplate, wishing desperately for the good, clean order of a Lor marine special forces unit. She waited until her unit was on the ground, then floated down to the ground. "Alright, all of you stay on your toes," she called out. "Teams o' four, and watch yer buddy's back. Everyone keep t'gether, and we'll all get just fine."

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"Best squad, on me," Eclipse called out, holstering her gun again. Her tail made a click-click-click noise as she pulled it back into a more manageable length, looking with no small admiration toward the Terran's handiwork. "....well. I don't know what she eats back on her planet, but I think I want some."

The Alarian laughed, turning back to address her troops as the final stragglers caught up. "Alright," she said, glowing eyes sizing morale up. "That was fun, wasn't it? Nothing's changed now that we're planet-side. Rule one: nobody gets left behind. Rule two: you know what to do if you get yourselves lost. An' I don't have time to go over fancy tactics and pair you all off neat-like, so rule three: you remember the two people I told you to look at back on the ship? You're responsible for them now. Most of you've got two eyes, so you've got one eye for each of their backs - and in return, when this is all over, they owe you a drink."

"If'n you're leadin', you're watchin' all'v'us," someone mentioned; albino white, red stripes, broken Galstandard, and a smaller secondary pair of arms - Galif, maybe, Eclipse thought. "Means we all owe y'drinks."

"A mathematician!" Eclipse flashed him an approving grin, idly adjusting one of her gloves. "Well done. And don't think I don't mean to collect, boys and girls. But it's alright: you're all watching me, too, so I owe you the same. So we go out, we do our job, and we take it seriously. And when we all get outta here, we throw one hell of an after party."

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While each of the squad leaders had had their own ideas about convincing the ad hoc medley of species and allegiances into a cooperative fighting force none of the troopers themselves looked particularly happy with whomever they'd been paired off with, leading to a lot muttering and glaring as they hopped out of the transport and ground wafers of computronium converted glass beneath their boots. Organizing themselves into formation based on their orders, they checked their weapons and looked about the inorganic wasteland uneasily.


The landing zone that had been picked for them had apparently been something of a local landmark before the planet had fallen, though few among them cared enough to have done more than browse the files attached to the briefing. Ahead of them the ground quickly sloped downward to form the base of a massive gorge, a jagged scar in the face of the world. The electrical signals running through the walls of the canyon, converted into one giant server along with the rest of Garron-9, would serve to mask their presence from the enemy sensors while providing them with a confined battlefield which they were prepared to control.


That was the theory, at least.


Thanks to their welcome by the artillery tower the enemy obviously knew they were there. Tracking their specific location, though, still should prove a challenge. In the meantime the transport prepared to take off again, drawing attention in the opposite direction before taking shelter behind a chunk of orbiting rock a little too small to be properly called a moon. On the far side of the gorge stood what had been the frontier world's largest settlement, the buildings there now converted into the signal array that linked this server world with the rest of the Communion. Destroy that and a vital link in the intergalactic web of nodes would be temporarily broken, giving some other team on some other mission the brief window in which to complete their objective.

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