This is my first fic which has been re-edited and updated to fix some continuity issues it has with my current fic Children of Mandalore: Red Fang. All chapters are up. Children of Mandalore: Prelude to Terror [Dramatis personae] Baydo Titus; Mandalorian Supercommando (male human) Beluin Uluar; Mandalorian Supercommando (male Zabrak) Dawk; Mandalorian Supercommando, medic (female human) Dyir Carud; Mandalorian Supercommando (male human) Elai Kareb; Mandalorian Supercommando (male Kiffar) Falas Draisa: Yuuzhan Vong high commander (male Yuuzhan Vong) Kas Birek; Mandalorian Supercommando (male human) Kial Volar; Mandalorian Supercommando (male human) Koryn Bralor; Mandalorian Supercommando (male Barabel) Kurru Ivat; Yuuzhan Vong warrior (male Yuuzhan Vong) Raven Varos; Jedi Apprentice (female human) Rev Devieyc; Mandalorian Supercommando (male human) Rixa Numeck; Mandalorian Supercommando (male human) Ryia Devieyc; Mandalorian Supercommando (male human) Tyran Numeck; Mandalorian Supercommando, strike team leader (male human) Yunauli Drau; Mandalorian Supercommando, pilot (male human) [Chapter One] The Tal'galaar was a lethal ship. It had been constantly refined over several decades of use by the Numeck family the former KDY space yacht was now a premiere bounty hunting vessel. Purchased from a Toydarian dealer on Nar Shadaa by the late Ruima Numeck, the ship had been promptly taken back to Mandalore and handed over to MandalMotors for some custom touches. A beskar-reinforced frame and hull, upgraded weapons and communications systems, overhauled engines, a complete medical suite and armory topped off by a matte-black stealth finish on the already streamlined shape of the ship made the vessel a perfect blend of both beauty and deadly precision. The ship was perfectly suited for the task that had been laid before Tyran Numeck and his company of Mandalorian Supercommandos: Infiltrate enemy lines and find Jedi Apprentice Raven Varos. The young Jedi's job had been to sneak behind the Yuuzhan Vong lines and survey the enemy fleet strength. Apparently the Jedi had done that several times before without detection which led Tyran to believe that she had become too confident in her abilities to avoid the Yuuzhan Vong and had gotten herself captured. He believed he was heading to recover a dead body but the Jedi's master was pretty sure that she was still alive and being submitted to the Yuuzhan Vong breaking. Which was unfortunate for the taskforce preparing to jump to Katna Major and begin its liberation campaign of the planet. If the Yuuzhan Vong had already broken Varos then the campaign was going to be even more costly and vicious. A surprised Yuuzhan Vong defense was a difficult thing to defeat, but a prepared defense…that made even his iron nerves stand on edge. He was standing in the communal lounge of the Tal'galaar which was situated in the center of the ship's upper level. His eyes were fixed on a readout panel on the durasteel bulkhead in front of him counting down the minutes until they dropped back into realspace, or were ripped back into it via a dovin basal mine. His large arms were crossed over his chest and his right hand was absent mindedly scratching at the few weeks of beard growth on his chin. The sound of his comrades preparing for battle echoed around him in an orchestra of sorts and he found it oddly calming. There was just something about the sound of a powerpack clacking down on a plasteel table that put a satisfied smile on his face. "Remind me again why we got stuck with rescue detail?" Kial Volar asked as he counted out several powerpacks and placed them in the belt pouches of his forest green kama. "The reason should be obvious Kial." Tyran said without turning his head from the display "The Mand'alor wants to strengthen our relationship with the Galactic Alliance and rescuing one of their beloved Jettise will do just that." Controlled laughter rolled through the Supercommandos in the communal area and even Tyran allowed himself a grin at his own dark humor. "How long do you think this relationship will last?" A long haired Zabrak named Beluin Ulular asked as he pulled on his helmet, modified to allow his cranial horns to slide through custom slots on the top. "About as long as a flitnat in a vacuum." Tyran said back with no hint of humor in his voice. None of the Mandalorians on the ship had any delusions about what the relationship between the GA and Mandalore was based on. The politicians of the Galactic Alliance were only interested in the combat effectiveness of the Mandalorians mostly because they were the only ones who had beaten the Yuuzhan Vong outright on more than one occasion. They all knew that once the war was over Mandalore would go back to being the dreary backwater world it had been before the war and Tyran was perfectly happy with that. He turned away from the display as it reached a count of fifteen minutes and grabbed his WESTAR repeating rifle, which was propped up against the bulkhead next to him, and slung it over his back as he counted out ten powerpacks for himself from the containers provided by the armory on the Star Destroyer Resistance. He grabbed a handful of smaller packs for his two DL44 blasters, each holstered on either side of his abyssal-black hunting kama. "Shakedown you gear vode, we drop in fifteen." He said grabbing his helmet and began running a quick system scan of his armors functions. He extended his right arm away from the group of Mandalorians and blinked twice at a dagger-shaped icon in his heads-up-display and an eighteen inch beskar blade ejected from the housing on his forearm with a heavy, metallic shunk. He repeated the process with his left arm and got the same satisfying results. A soft hissing sound on his left drew Tyran's attention "This one thinkz those would be a great inveztment." Koryn Bralor said his dark scales ruffling slightly as he prepared for combat. His eyes were locked on the two blades protruding from the housings on his leader's forearms and Tyran nodded at the Barabel's assessment. "They've been useful for cracking crab armor." Tyran said pointing behind the massive Barabel. "You might have to melt down the armor on your tail to get a set though, beskar is rare these days." The Barabel lifted his large, beskar plated tail and dropped it on the durasteel floor with a very audible thud. "This onez tail haz been useful in cracking crab armor. As well as theze." He said flashing razor sharp claws protruding from his fingertips. Tyran retracted his blades and put a hand on the Barabel's shoulder without any fear of losing the limb at all. "Believe me, I know." Tyran hadn't interacted with very many Barabels in his lifetime but he had grown up with Koryn and his hatchmate Kredd, who was back with the rest of the Mandalorian group on the Resistance prepping a special piece of ordnance, but he was sure the two Barabels were vastly different from the rest of their species. They had been adopted by a member of one of the Bralor clans around the time Tyran had just turned four. The circumstance of their adoption was still unknown to him and the brothers weren't very forthcoming with the details. It didn't matter, the brothers had become trusted comrades of his and he was happy to have them at his back. "Remember though Koryn, this is a stealth mission so no engaging unless the Yuuzhan Vong hurl thudbugs at us first." The massive Barabel sissed his acknowledgment and Tyran gave a nod and turned to a black and purple armored woman stuffing a plastoid carry case full of medical supplies. "Good to go Dawk?" The woman was young, as were most of the people on the ship. Tyran was among the oldest at twenty-two years of age but Dawk was at least four years his junior. "You'll be able to handle her if she isn't ambulatory?" The young woman nodded "Nothing better than a trial by fire right." She gave a short nervous laugh and continued packing her medical case. Tyran's doubts weren't exactly soothed by her answer and as he turned around and caught his younger brother's gaze he knew that Rixa wasn't so sure of Dawk's abilities anymore than he was. Rixa Numeck gave a subtle shake of his head and Tyran motioned him towards the large table in the center of the room. "Everyone gather around I want to go over the plan one more time before we enter back into realspace." Tyran said clipping his helmet to his belt and pausing while his strike team gathered around the table. "Alright, I know you all know that we're being sent to rescue a Jedi and I know most of you aren't happy or couldn't care less but please keep your comments in check as best you can. If the Jedi is alive we don't want to hurt her feelings, we all know how fragile the Jedi are." There was some small laughter but it faded quickly. "On to the fun stuff. The ERS signal was traced back to one of the four moons orbiting the gas giant Katna-Rae. Katna-II is mostly a dismal swamp with the bleakest weather you might ever find in the galaxy and it is merely a stone's throw from Katna Major, the largest population center in the system and the next planet targeted for liberation." "But it's also where the Yuuzhan Vong fleet is stationed." Yunauli Drau said, he was the man responsible for piloting the Tal'galaar. Tyran was very confident in the elder Mandalorians flying skills, he was a veteran pilot for both the Empire and the Rebellion and flew as the leader of the Mandalorian fighter squadron assigned to the Resistance. "Katna-II is in a very unique position relative to Katna Major, their orbits almost mirror each other, the moon being out in front and an almost impassable object for anyone heading to Katna Major." "So one way or another we'll have to pass that moon?" Rixa asked. "And every Yuuzhan Vong ship that orbits it." Drau confirmed glumly "You really bit one off this time Tyran." "Just fly the ship old timer." Tyran said with a genuine smile as he turned his head back to his team. "When we exit hyperspace Yunauli is going to kick in the ship's stealth package going whisper silent and leaving a nearly undetectable ion trail. The plan is for him to get as close to the planet as he can without being detected, we'll all climb into the escape pod and jettison ourselves down to the cheery swamps below." "The escape pod doesn't have any kind of stealth package and it will definitely leave a detectable ion trail Tyran." Rixa said. "How do you expect to out maneuver coralskippers in that rusted hunk of metal." Every eye at the table turned towards Tyran hoping he had thought of an ingenious plan to get around that little flaw. "I was hoping you would have kept that detail silent little brother." Tyran said sourly. "I had the maintenance crew on the Resistance get the escape pod up to standard safety specifications and had them put a little umph in the drives." "No armor plating?" Volar asked. "It would weigh us down." Tyran said. "We need all the speed we can get." "Well a magma missile will slow us down considerably." Volar said incredulously. "It would slow us down back to our base molecules in fact." "We have manual control over the pod we won't be flying in a straight line Kial." Rixa said. "We can pull off a few evasive maneuvers." Volar waved his hand dismissively at Rixa and motioned for Tyran to continue. Tyran opened his mouth to carry on the briefing when he was cut off by his second in command. "Do we know where the Jedi is?" Ryia Devieyc asked. "I'm getting to that Ryia, I understand the urgent need to get this briefing done but constant interruption isn't helping." Tyran said impatiently. "We are going to try and steer the pod in the general direction of Mount Piya, the only inhabited area on the planet, its mostly a giant prison facility housing criminals from Katna Major and some other systems looking for a place to dump their undesirables." "You think she is there?" "The ERS isn't traceable to the millimeter Ryia, but she is on that planet and I'm fairly certain that prison is where she is being held. The GA was able to get a few probe droids in here and it doesn't look like the planet was Vongified too much." "I'm sorry," Dawk interrupted. "What's an ERS?" Everyone at the table was courteous enough to not shake their heads, almost everyone. "Emergency. Response. Signal." Volar said massaging his temple. "You really aren't that inexperienced. Are you?" Dawk's young face reddened at the statement and she looked down as she searched for the right words for the appropriate response. "An ERS is a small device implanted just behind the ear under the skin. Once pressed it sends a signal back to a receiver." Tyran said to the young medic and turned back to Kial. "The Mand'alor had faith enough in her to place her on the team, if that isn't proof enough of her experience than I don't know what is." Tyran said giving the young medic a quick wink. "I don't doubt her medical skills it is her combat skill that worries me." Volar continued. "She has spent more time with her nose in holobooks than with her eyes looking down a scope. It's easier to patch up wounded soldiers on a cruiser than it is to be in the trenches being the one doing the wounding." "I am proficient with various forms of combat ranging from melee to long range to-" She began to defend herself. "Shab am I talking to a Mandalorian or a protocol droid?!" Volar exclaimed. "Tyran tell me the truth do you feel safe with her behind you." Tyran stared at the young medic for a few moments, his experienced eyes searching and evaluating what he saw. He saw fear at its most primal level, though not blatantly exposed on her face but still far from hidden. He saw uncertainty and inexperience, a dangerous combination but not one that had not been felt by anyone else at the table. Out of everything he saw the one thing that made him feel certain about the young medic and her potential was that she was sitting at the table with the rest of them ready to drop neck deep into a pit of Yuuzhan Vong warriors. His gaze met both Rixa's and Ryia's and they both gave curt nods to their leader, both seeing the same thing in the medic as he did. He gave her a short smile and turned his head towards Kial "Yes I do." Kial shook his head again. "I'm not as convinced as you are." "Dawk do you know how that blaster works?" Tyran asked. "Yes." "Do you know which end the bolts come out of?" "Yes." She said almost disgusted at the question. "There you go, perfectly qualified." Rixa and Ryia gave snorts of amusement and the Barabel sissed. "Dead men, we're all dead men." Kial said shaking his head. "Get on with the briefing." "Though there doesn't seem to be much terraforming from the droid images I wouldn't be surprised to find Yuuzhan Vong flora and other such things. All tech in the prison will most likely be dismantled and decimated so sneaking into the prison won't be overly difficult." "It'll be sneaking to the prison that will be the trick." Dawk said. "See, she knows her stuff." Tyran said and the young girl beamed. "Koryn, Kial, Rixa, Beluin, Dawk and I will make a stealthy approach to the prison while Ryia takes Baydo, Elai, Kas, and Dyir to the landing platform at the peak of the mountain. The Yuuzhan Vong use it as a DZ for personnel and such and I'm hoping once we start making noise in the prison that reinforcements will come from the fleet." "You're hoping for enemy reinforcements?" Dyir Carud asked. "Not for the reinforcements, for the ship they will use to reach the prison." Dawk said grasping the plan. "Right again. When the enemy lands its new wave of reinforcements all you have to do is board it and hold it until we arrive with the Jedi." "Five Supercommandos against a ship of scarheads?" Ryia mused. "That seems about fair." "Don't get cocky, I'm certain that is how our Jedi got herself in this particular situation." Tyran said sternly. "Get the ship and hold it, we'll link up with Yunauli at a prearranged rendezvous point and switch over to the Tal'galaar. From there it's a six hour hop to the staging area where we rearm and prep for the liberation of Katna Major." Tyran glanced at the countdown display as it reached four minutes. "Everyone gear up, Yunauli get to the cockpit and get ready to go dark. Rev, get in the hatch turret and keep your head on a swivel." Ryia embraced his younger brother for a few seconds before the younger soldier ascended the ladder to the ships one external cannon. Section by section lights started to shut off in the ship as Yunauli began to shut down all primary systems except the engines, his hand hovering over the silent-running button on the console next to the pilot's seat. Suddenly the ship gave a massive shudder and Yunauli hit the stealth button immediately. Tyran made his way to the cockpit grabbing at whatever he could to keep his balance as the ship began to shudder more. Yunauli didn't even turn his head "Dovin basal." Less than a minute after hitting the switch the hum of the Tal'galaar's main drives disappeared and only the small vibrations coming off of the stealth drives gave any indication that the ship was being propelled at all. The bright streaks of light in the cockpit straightened out into stationary motes of light and the gray ball of sludge that was Katna-II came into view, almost the size of a thumbnail at that distance. But beyond it was the significantly larger Katna Major, the once lush green landscape that had been depicted in all of the briefing sessions Tyran had been a part of did not resemble the brown and black orb that lay before them. "Think they destroyed the planet?" Yunauli asked. "Like Ithor?" "No, just altered the atmosphere." Tyran said. "We had intelligence reports of Yuuzhan Vong terraforming the surface and erecting large structures. They wouldn't do all that and then turn the planet into a wasteland." "Or would they?" "Ryia get everyone into the escape pod." Tyran said after opening up an encrypted link to his second in command. "Make sure they are all strapped in tight, this might get bumpy." "What about you?" "I'll join you once Yunauli get's us close enough for launch." Tyran said. "Get it done." "You just want to make sure I can handle your ship." Yunauli said. Tyran strapped himself into the co-pilot's seat and activated an exterior holocam recorder. "Might as well get some intelligence for the Fleet." Yunauli gave a nod of his head and began to gently increase the speed of which the ship was heading towards the small murky moon. "Contact, cruiser analog." Rev said from his position in the hatch turret "It has skip escorts, doesn't look like they've spotted us yet." "They won't" Yunauli said confidently "This tub is as dark as space itself, we'll be hard to spot." Tyran nodded his head feeling quite confident in his ship's stealth capabilities but couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding growing in his gut as they drew closer to the cruiser-analog and the large ring of asteroids that lay beyond it, encircling the moon of Katna-II. Yunauli put the ship into a gentle dive easing his way under the flight path of the cruiser-analog and its coralskipper escorts. "Track them Rev, let me know if they so much as twitch in our direction." The veteran pilot said he whispered the command more than spoke it. There was a confirming hiss of comm static from the hatch turret. Tyran absently clenched his fists as the underbelly of the yorik-coral ship came into view of the cockpit with a flight of seven coralskippers flying flanking positions on either side. "ETA to drop zone?" Tyran asked Yunauli without looking away from the living asteroid floating just over them. "Three minutes until we break the first line of the enemy fleet, two minutes until we're within the minimum range to jettison the pod." Yunauli said his eyes fixed firmly ahead on the enemy fleet as it drew closer. "You catch that Ryia?" "Yeah, those minutes might as well be hours." Ryia sighed. Tyran silently agreed and felt a small surge of relief as they passed under the cruiser-analog and its skip escort. Yunauli brought the ship in to a steady climb and leveled the vessel out bringing it back on course. Tyran watched in amazement for the next two minutes as the Mandalorian pilot skillfully maneuvered the vessel around the Yuuzhan Vong fleet and brought them to the launching point. "You better go strap yourself into the pod Tyran," Yunauli said as he began to flip a series of switches "I'll start angling the ship for launch." "Right, see you at the RV point in a few hours." Tyran said climbing from the copilot's chair and making his way back towards the escape pod. The outer hatch to the pod was still open when he arrived a few moments later and he climbed in and took a seat next to Dyir Carud, the royal blue armored Mandalorian gave him a slight nod. "Yunauli we're set." Rixa said sealing the door from the control panel in front of him. "Open the launch doors when the ship is in position." There was static over the commlink for a few tense seconds "Rixa it looks like we've got some interested skips heading our way. What do you want me to do?" "If they come any closer open fire." Tyran said "Just get us as close as you can." "Affirmative." There was a deep chugging sound as the hatch turret began to charge up. An odd calming sensation washed over Tyran as he felt his center of gravity shift as the Tal'galaar changed its position, angling towards the planet. His life was now in the hands of Fate and there wasn't anything he could do about it. Once those pod doors opened the only thing between his team and death was the flying skills of his little brother. The steady thumping rhythm of the ships hatch turret firing away echoed through the pod quickly joined by the high pitched whine of the forward laser cannons being fired by Yunauli. "Well so much for stealth." Volar said darkly. Before Tyran could open his mouth to retort a loud clang echoed around the pod followed by a skull shaking boom and a sudden, rapid acceleration. The tube-shaped pod rocketed from the bay at the rear of the Tal'galaar and began to scream towards the gray sphere ahead of them. Tyran noted from a brief glance out of the small cockpit that Yunauli had maneuvered the large space-yacht deep within the Yuuzhan Vong fleet and was now being fired upon from multiple coralskippers and light frigate-analog cruisers. Dawk was sitting directly in front of him with her head down and her fist clenched on her knee and Tyran couldn't help but reach out and place his much larger hand on top of hers in a gesture of comfort. "Relax kid, Rixa Numeck is one of the finest starpilots in the galaxy." Dyir said. He was two years younger than Tyran and had seen and done just about as much as Tyran. "If anyone can get us through this mess it'll be him." "If Rixa is so good how come is isn't co-piloting the Tal'galaar?" Dawk asked. "Because we need someone who knows how to fly a Yuuzhan Vong ship, he has had access to some simulators and few of the captured vessels the Alliance has." Ryia said. Rixa banked the pod to the left, hard, sending Dawk, Ryia, Kial and Kas slamming into their harnesses. "A little warning next time eh?" Kas Birek shouted towards the cockpit his voice layered with an accent found on Concord Dawn. "Sit back and shut up." Rixa yelled back angrily, his usually cool composure was rarely broken and that was a sign to Tyran that things were not going very well up front. Tyran opened a private link to his brother "HUD link." He said. A small window appeared in his own heads-up-display showing everything that his little brother saw, in much smaller detail. A swarm of coralskippers was heading from a large carrier-analog straight toward the escape pod. "Everyone hold on." Rixa said through gritted teeth as he put the pod into a roll, spiraling through the swarm. Bright flashes began to fill the pod as plasma missiles began to erupt in front of, behind and all around the small escape craft. Volar started cursing quickly in Mando'a which launched the large Barabel into a fit of sissing. "Why are you laughing?!" Volar exclaimed "This is no time for laughter." "This one is not laughing at our situation, this one is laughing at you." "You're lucky we're about to die or I'd smack some common sense into your scaly head." "This one will attribute your remark to battle stress," Koryn hissed menacingly "But a second comment iz not recommended." Volar sank back in his jump seat as far as he could as the Barabel leaned forward still hissing and his large tail thumping against the durasteel behind him. "Koryn you can kill Kial after we get the Jedi off that moon and back to the taskforce." Tyran said genuinely "But for now, as hard as it is to believe, we need him." Somehow the Barabel was the only one not being knocked around in his seat by the constant jinking and juking that Rixa was making the pod do to avoid the skip barrage. Koryn nodded his large head and sat back perfectly still in his seat. A private link appeared on Tyran's HUD. "You wouldn't actually let him kill me would you?" "Depends on how things go planetside." Tyran ended the link. "How long until landfall?" He stated over the shared link. "Two minutes until we enter the atmosphere." Rixa said putting the craft through another stomach knotting roll. He heard a relieved sigh come over the shared link and he hadn't needed to look at the transmitter ID to tell that it had been Dawk who had let the sigh slip through her lips. The shipped lurched violently as it impacted the outer atmosphere of the planet and the interior grew increasingly hot. "Rixa you've got…ive skips on yo…..ail." Yunauli's voice washed over the commlink, most of it garbled in the static interference from entering the atmosphere. Tyran could see the murky mountain tops beginning to peak out from under the dismal clouds and he couldn't help but feel a little better at their chances of making landfall intact. "Yunauli repeat that last message." Rixa said as he pointed the craft in the direction of the LZ coordinates he had displayed on his HUD. "Skips, on your tail!" Yunauli repeated much clearer now that the pod was through the atmosphere. "How man-" he was cut off by an earsplitting bang and a sudden wave of smoke washing in from the rear of the pod. Tyran felt the pod begin to spin in a downward spiral, rapidly gaining speed. "We've been hit, I've lost all control of the pod." Rixa announced as if he had just relayed a weather report. "Hang on to something." "I've got a bad feeling about this." Dawk yelled over the rising whine of alarms gong off in the cockpit. Something solid slammed into the side of the pod sending it into a now rolling downward spiral, the sudden impact jolted free the bolts on a few of the restraint harnesses sending Dawk, Ryia and Kas slamming into Beluin, Koryn and Tyran. Gravity took over and pinned the Mandalorians together. "What just hit us?" Kial yelled as Rixa tried to regain some form of control over the pod. "Coralskipper." Rixa said back. The last thing Tyran Numeck saw before things started to go really wrong was the rapidly expanding view of a mountainside. A violent impact followed tearing everyone from their restraints and throwing them around inside the pod like a Twi'lek shaking up an intoxicating beverage at a tapcaf. There was yelling and screaming, all involuntary, natural reflexes to the event occurring around the eleven Supercommandos. Every now and then it was pierced by the sound of wrenching durasteel and breaking permaglass. There was one final violent impact against something wet and it was the last thing Tyran felt before blacking out.