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Heart of Darkness


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#1 Offline Grantaire

Grantaire
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Posted Jul 26 2013 - 07:58 PM

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]Heart of Darkness[/font]

 

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     Felucia.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     It might conjure up the image of an exotic land, bizarre and yet pleasing to tour. But to a clone, it gives quite another image. The humidity fogging the visor of your helmet; the unearthly red lasers flashing through the misty environment an inch away from you. The plants you empty half a clip into before you realize they’re not the shield of a Driodeka. The ruined AT-ET that’s good for nothing but a makeshift fortress, even though half a dozen engineers could have fixed it up if they weren’t being shot constantly.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     Felucia, the planet which opened its maw to receive thousands of our fallen brothers.[/font]

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]Felucia, the thorn in the Chancellor’s side. Felucia, the heart of darkness.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     That’s what we clones call Felucia.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     I stop at the forward command post: the letter six is posted against its side, pockmarked with blaster holes and nearly unreadable. But that only holds me for a moment, before my eyes rivet on the bodies. The dozens of bodies. This place just survived a major skirmish—just. The corpses of the clones haven’t even been touched: in fact during the battle it looks like some genius of a squad commander decided to form them into a makeshift wall. I look around as the other clones form up. My brothers. There can’t be more than nine here, twenty when you count in the soldiers guarding the other posts. According to estimate, there are still over a hundred droids left on the field.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     The troops are looking at me, and I try to think of something, any plan but a full retreat, the sensible option. Retreat is not an option: we’ve turned this battle into a bloodbath, and we’re not going to gather back the scraps of our force in disgrace.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     My eyes fix on a nearby hill, broad and steepsided. Most importantly, it contains a command post. Two strange treelike causeways provide the nearest entrance, although they look rotted and flimsy with age: too heavy for a droid to dare, but not too decrepit for a desperate clone.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     “Follow me!” I shout, jogging forward. “We’re taking that rock.”[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     The sound of swiftly moving feet and rustling leaves sounds behind me. I dodge around a tree, raising my rifle. The small minimap in my helmet’s HUD shows three dots ahead and to the right; probably a ramp winds around the hill and ends there, and probably a few droids are stationed there-[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     -At the first sight of the transparent blue bubble I roll forwards to land behind another tree, even as one of the  troopers yells out “destroyer droid!” I poke my head out, hoping against hope that any heavy troopers in our squad manage to get their rocket launchers out. No such luck, though, as the only explosions come from hurled grenades as they bounce off trees and shield alike, exploding anywhere but where they’re needed. I fire, my elite DC-15 sending a staccato of three shots in rapid succession: the violet bolts cause a ripple to spread across the shield, but the brown and grey monster inches forwards, still firing. A rocket flies past it, and I curse my comrade’s aim.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     I fire again and again, until the bubble fades. I fire once more, and the Droideka is silenced. A quick look back at my squad forces me to take a sharp intake of breath: cover and stealth had not been the reason the Driodeka hadn’t aimed at me. Rather, it had found a better target. Only five men survive, and by their battered armor I guess a few can’t take much more fire. Several shots from them, along with the disappearance of the dots on my minimap announced that the remaining enemies are dealt with. But it cost a precious few seconds and, even worse, half my squad.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]      I move forward again without a word, until we arrive at the next step; the climb. I slow down my pace, treading lightly as I make my way up the eerily natural causeway. Where are the shots? I wonder, tensing for the inevitable: surely this position isn’t unprotected. But the top is only a few yards away, and there’s no movement-[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     -I take that back, dropping into a crouch even as the bolt passes where my head was a moment before. One shot and the sniper’s mechanical corpse is still and unmoving. Another movement, another shot, another droid down. I leap onto the grassy hilltop, landing in a roll. Pistol shots ring out from two sides, and I fire again and again. My squad jumps down from the tree, and I do a quick headcount. Four: that first sniper-shot had not been a miss after all.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     “I’ll secure the main entrance: destroy those trees,” I order, heading off to the far edge where, almost invisible to the casual glance, the ledge begins its descent. Rifle leveled I begin down, practically hugging the wall. It pays off as a spray of bolts slice through the air a foot away: a shotgun. Inaccurate at a long distance, it’s highly lethal this close. I step out, fire and leap back. The sound of the droid hitting the ground is the only thing that responds. The sound of crashing indicates that the troops have carried out my commands. I continue down the ramp as it winds around the spire. Another droid faces me: a rocketeer droid from the red markings. Three shots to the head send it back, tumbling to the ground. I reach the bottom, leaping back as more droids approach. One tank. I turn, running rather than walking back to the top. I survey my men as they line up, waiting for command. One engineer and two regular soldiers as well as a heavy trooper, his rocket launcher slung over his shoulder, pistol in hand.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     “All right. The only way of approach—unless they try shelling us—is this ledge. I’ll go in front. You two,” I say gesturing to the riflemen, “Cover me.” Then I direct my command at the other two. “You two will stay in reserve. Engineer, be on hand to give extra ammo and bacta tanks, There is a bacta droid up here, so I advise you make use if it now if you need to. The Force be with us all.”[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     They solute and the two riflemen fall in behind me.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     At this point my narrative must take a slightly less particular scope. Only about four droids could come against us at a time, but they came in droves, one after another. All other posts are captured: we five are the only soldiers still standing. Droid after droid falls: shot through the head or chest riddled with blaster holes. A droideka inches forward and grenades fly as we retreat frantically. One of my men collapses and I grab his rifle, holding the trigger as I point it at the droideka. Its shields fail as we reach the top. The two soldiers here move to back us up. Droid after droid falls as we frantically attempt to keep them from gaining the top.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     Their wave fails and we advance over the corpses. I take a clip from a fallen droid, snapping it onto my own near empty one. Four of us, over fifty of them.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     We advance forward, taking our original position. Five feet forward will render us in the range of the idling tank, but the curve of the path protects us. It’s pockmarked from the battle before, but still usable. We wait.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     More droids. I shoot a sniper lurking behind the main pack, falling back as my position is riddled with shots. Three more shots and my clip is near empty as two more droids collapse. Another droideka, another hasty retreat. It falls quicker and we hold our position. Two more droids advance: I kill one, but the soldier behind me falls. Three men left. There is a break in the onslaught of droids and I take the opportunity to call the two remaining clones with me. At my command the Heavy Trooper moves forwards, setting up mines at regular intervals. The Engineer and myself drag several of the fallen droids together to form a mini barricade.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     An explosion sounds, and a cry rings out. I guess that means it’s just the two of us. I crouch down, peering through a low point in the makeshift fortifications. I close my eyes for a moment, my hands shaking. No backup, no Jedi to pull us out, no surrender.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     The glowing red missile leaves me no chance to react as it slams into my last defense, scattering fragments of droids every way. I hit the ground hard and lie there stunned for a moment, thanking the Force that I wasn’t blown off the edge. I stagger to my feet even as the Engineer shoots the offending Super Battle droid. My armor can’t take much more of this, nor can my body. I take the small bacta tank my companion hands me, grateful for the warmth that spreads over me.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     A staccato of shots pepper our positions and I press myself against the wall as one strikes my weakened armor neatly in the side. A rocket flies past, then another. Even as the Engineer leaps to join me, a third hits him squarely and I wince: Magnaguard.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     I step out, firing instinctively at the shape before stepping back. Several more bolts alert me that the now fallen Magnaguard was not alone.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     Armor at half strength, hardly forty shots left. At this point the sensible option would be to retreat to the top and recharge.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     But the sensible doesn’t take into account the wave of droids waiting to cut me to pieces. I step out, firing again and again. Two Droidekas power up their eerie shields and I fall back as their guns strafe my previous location.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     Ten feet from the top.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     I beat a full retreat, crouching at the ledge overlooking the path. The first Driodeka appears, shields lowering as it sees the empty path. Three shots slice into it and it slumps forwards.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     A brilliant green bolt grazes my head and I curse as the fly-like drone swoops for a different angle to shoot from. At the same time I can see another droid about to reach my position. Choosing between retreating, refueling and destroying the blasted drone and holding my position, I race to the opposite side of the command post, crouching between the ammo and health droids. It leaves me helpless for a few seconds, enough for the drone to swoop in. Raising my pistol I fire twice and the little thing falls. Bolts splatter past me and I duck behind cover, raising my rifle. Three more shots and the droid falls.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     Then comes the moment I dreaded most of all: a Droideka, shields on, in the center of my defenses. My finger seems to the clenching the trigger in a deathly squeeze as I race around my foe, desperately keeping ahead of its guns.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]         The shield fades and still I fire. Six shots send the Droideka down, utterly disabled. Another clip in as I turn about, moving forward to retake the access path.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]         Two Magnaguards block my path: one of them undoubtedly was the sender of that drone from before. I fire quickly before their rockets can fly; one falls and then the other. My heart is pounding as I retake my position overlooking the approach. There can’t be more than thirty droids left. But there are still four droids advancing neatly in formation. I fire, taking out the rearmost before they can even spot me. Bolts fly at me, one grazing my right pauldron, another flying precisely one inch away from my helmet. I shoot the leftmost droid, moving to one side to dodge return fire and sending another down. The last one faces me, a Super Battledroid, arm raised to deal out a devastating rocket-[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     -My bullets tear into the arm, then into the droid’s sunk-in head. It collapses, leaving the path clear.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     I collapse too, exhausted. My armor is battered to uselessness, I doubt there’s much ammo left in my gun, and my entire force lies dead within the mile.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]     But this battle is over, over for now.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]-x-x-x-[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]If anyone didn't recognize it, this was based closely on Star Wars Battlefront II. I once changed the clone reinforcements to almost nothing, and held the described command post almost singlehanded... I think I got killed before the end of the round. But I liked it so much that I decided to write a story about it. I included with little edits for realism much of the game mechanics (minimap, bacta droids, etc) so I apologize if I strayed from the canon at all.[/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]It took me probably a month or more to write this, mainly because I wrote most of it, then left it, came back tonight and finished. [/font]

 

[font="'lucida sans unicode', 'lucida grande', sans-serif;"]I hope you enjoyed my first Star Wars fic.[/font]


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