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Beyond - Legends Into the Fire

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Anedon, Oct 14, 2021.

  1. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Title: Into the Fire
    Author: Anedon
    Timeframe: About 43 ABY
    Characters: Ulrika Grau, and other OCs
    Genre: Friendship, Adventure
    Summary: As the ORSF begins its campaigns into the Galatic Southwest our heroes are put before new challenges and meet new friends and foes.

    This story is the next part in my growing Ilona/Ulrika verse.
    Which includes the Main stories:
    -Shadow over Curean
    -Path of Lies
    -The Value of Freedom

    As well the additions:
    -Anarchists and Aristocrats
    -Summer Camp Shenanigans
    -Old Friends
    -Can Love be a Sin
    -To Dathomir, with a Friend

    Which also feature some of these characters.

    Thanks to @Adalia-Durron for her help and support. :)



    One

    "They're coming again!" Ulrika shouted and her squad quickly took cover as the roaring of engines above became louder.

    The tree she was leaning against looked solid, a healthy ancient plant giant who had probably survived a thousand droughts and ten times as many storms during its existence. But against the lasers of the Vulture Droids above it might as well been a piece of paper.

    The trees trunk was utterly annihilated and only quickly jumping to the side saved her from the worst. Her armor took the rest of it, but she knew she couldn't rely on it.

    As the Vultures made another turn Ulrika and her squad continued their move through the forest, the sinking sun barely illuminating enough of the terrain for them not to fall or stumble.

    Having fought in scouting operations for much of their military career Ulrika and her squad where trained to work in hostile terrain and with the enemy coming down on them from above. But this was the first time they faced droids. In some ways it was easier to predict them, but in others the droid pilots were able to perform maneuvers utterly impossible for living pilots.

    As the droids closed in again Ulrika turned around to them and fired with her blaster at the course she expected the vultures to take. It was risky, no she didn´t even have what little cover the tree had provided but stood straight against her enemy. If she didn't take it down in time she was as good as dead.

    The droids, who had clearly anticipated the soldiers to dash for cover again where unprepared for the sudden attacks as blaster fire ripped the vultures apart. More than half of them where hit, turning into burning meteors tumbling down to the planets surfaces, smashing trees apart and setting further ones on fire.

    The remaining Vultures quickly adapted to the losses and tried to disengage but several more where hit in the new few seconds and a minute later the battle was over.

    Ulrika took a deep breath and allowed her muscles a few seconds of relaxation, but she knew their victory was temporary at best. This was the third Vulture group they had come across since they had lost their vessel and she could only pray to the goddess that it was the last.

    "Everyone okay?" She asked her soldiers, quickly going from woman to woman to check on them. Most of them where unwounded, had a best a few close calls to report.

    Aurela had lost her helmet and taken a nasty burn on the left side of her face, yet she reported as combat ready for combat, as did Dilara despite the leg wound she had suffered. Meanwhile Kinga had squeezed her hand under a falling tree and was now unable to wield her blaster rifle anymore as pretty much all bones in her hand and lower arm had been broken. Dannika their medic had given her a dose of painkillers but they wouldn't be able to do more out here in the wilds.

    Ulrika was proud of them and the fact that so far they hadn't lost anyone from her squadron. She just wished she could say the same about the pilots of the shuttle, but the attack had come so quickly they had been unable to evacuate the vessel before it was too late. After the crash she had split her squad in two and given command about the other half to her right hand Elena. Now both groups moved independently through the forest to draw less attention from the vultures above towards the town they had detected the distress call from.

    Ulrika knew that quite a lot of pressure lasted on her shoulder in this battle, if the ORSF wanted to take a more active role against the Iron Alliance in the Southwest they needed to prove that they were able to do so. That they could protect its people. And so far we are not doing the best of jobs, she had to admit to herself. Entering the system had been easy and their landing ship had made it past the few pirate vessels in orbit without too much of a struggle, but then, once they had entered the atmosphere the vultures had awaited them.

    As they approached on the town Ulrika and the others could already hear the sounds of fighting ahead. Blaster fire mixed with the by now well known sound of further vulture droids.

    Like the animals they had been named after several dozen of them hung over the town, firing indiscriminately down into the streets from which some resistance fire returned.

    Glad that they at least weren't too late to find survivors the Eriaduan soldiers left the forest in the last lights of the day. Their dark armor and scouting cloaks blending in with the rising darkness of the night.

    Peeking through the deserted streets with their night goggles they saw the remnants of what must have been the first skirmishes of the battle. Doors where broken open, crates and cupboards emptied, furniture destroyed. But what worried Ulrika the most was the relatively small number of bodies they came across.

    A few of them where clearly pirates themselves decked out in the broken bits and pieces of metal that gave the Iron Alliance its name. Others meanwhile looked like the inhabitants and desperate defenders of the town. Most of them healthy adults who had died fighting from the looks of it, often found with blasters, knives or just pieces of furniture next to them that bore witness to their attempts at protecting their loved ones.

    But in some ways the elderly victims where the worst, where the younger ones had clearly died fighting, the couple in the house Ulrika checked had been executed, there was no other way of seeing it. Husband and wife still held each other on their bed, having hopefully found at least a small comfort in their last moments before being killed. And yet, as gruesome as this scene was Ulrika knew that those who had been killed where the luckier ones. The younger ones, the children and those adults unable to fight, their fate would be much darker and for a moment Ulrika remembered Hilda, who had only been a teen when she had been dragged from her home to be sold as a slave.

    "They killed those who resisted... because they were looking for slaves," Dannika said as she stepped next to her squad leader. The young medics eyes filled with sadness and confusion. "Why did they have to die?"

    "Because they were considered worthless," Ulrika said slowly. "Nobody would buy a slave that old. To the pirates they where nothing but dead weight they didn't want to burden themselves with."

    She heard one of the soldiers behind her choke, while another vomited at the sight.

    Most of the girls that had been in Ulrika`s class when she had joined the ORSF had died or retired from the military by now, and so her squadron had been filled with new recruits time and time again. Some of them had joined pretty recently and Ulrika made a note to advise a visit to the therapist for each of them, at least if they got out of this alive. Experiencing death in battle was one thing, but this slaughter could haunt them for the rest of their lives if they failed to deal with it.

    Taking a deep breath again as she stepped outside Ulrika looked down the street as she noticed something. The screeching of the Vultures was gone, replaced by a deadly silence between the ruins.

    Had they lost too much time checking the outskirts of town? Had the last defenders been defeated? But in that case, wouldn't the pirates still keep the vultures above to have an eye on the area?

    "Quick," she ordered, calling her squad back to her, now moving quicker through the deserted streets, coming across more bodies of dead pirates and destroyed droids, signs that the resistance against the attack had clearly increased.

    They also met the enemy, small groups of scavengers moving through the ruined buildings apparently uninterested in the main battle and more in filling their own pockets.

    After what they had experienced in the outskirts of the town Ulrika felt a burning desire for vengeance inside of her so she took the fights without giving the pirates a chance to surrender. Yet at the same time stopped herself from pursuing fleeing enemies, they could deal with them later and but now they needed to get to the center of town, the hopeful last bastion of resistance.

    Night completely covered them as they entered the central square, directly opposed to them was the administration headquarter of the world, a large building made from concrete that looked like a fortress. A view that was already enhanced by the anti air guns on its roof and the numerous barricades build in front of it. The square itself was covered with the remnants of a battle, destroyed ramshackle walkers and tanks and dozens of bodies littered the stone.

    The fighting was over it seemed, at least for now. But as Ulrika looked across to the building she let out a sigh of relief as she saw dark figures standing there at the barricades. The defenders it seemed had driven away their enemy, at least for now.

    "I'm going ahead," Ulrika said as the rest of her squad covered in the shadows watching the opposite side of the square. "Just in case it's a pirate trap or something."

    "Maybe Elena and her girls are there," Kinga suggested, still clutching her now useless arm. Ulrika hoped the defenders had medical supplies with them, cause if they hadn't there would be nothing left but to amputate the Kinga's arm.

    "Hopefully," Ulrika said. As they didn't knew about their enemies capabilities she and Elena had agreed to keep radio silence except in case of a true emergency and so far her second in command hadn't contacted them.

    Slowly Ulrika took off her helmet and disarmed herself. They weren't sure if the defenders had gotten the message that they were underway to aid so it was probably best not to risk anything.

    Then she raised her hands and moved slowly towards the barricade and the people there. For a while, a time longer than Ulrika would have expected nothing happened. No one called out to her, it almost seemed as if the defenders barely moved inside their positions.

    Ulrika's heart began to race more and more as she came closer. Then, as she had come almost uncomfortably close to the barricade with no reaction she took a deep breath to call over to them.

    Yet before she could do anything she was struck blind as several large spotlights where suddenly activated and pointed at her. She screamed at the sudden pain to her eyes and quickly covered her face with her arm.

    "Who are you?" A voice, harsh and commanding called over to her.

    "Ulrika Grau," she yelled back. "Commander of the ORSF."

    There was a moment of silence, whoever stood there, they clearly hadn't expected this answer. It gave Ulrika the time to blink several times and slowly restore her sense of sight.

    "ORSF? You've never come this far south?"

    Now that her eyes had gotten used to the light Ulrika raised her hands again and moved a bit closer towards the barricade. "Times are changing, we are here to fight the Iron Alliance."

    "Then it was you who caused the fighting in the forests?"

    "We did." Ulrika replied, then getting a bit more confident she asked, "and who are you?"

    The lights where dimmed, and now Ulrika could see the figures on the barricade. She blinked again, unsure if that what awaited her there was real. But as she opened her eyes again they were still there. Stormtroopers, soldiers in the iconic black and white garb of the Galactic Empire. How was this possible? The Imperial Remnant had no presence in the Southwest and the imperial colonial government had fallen decades ago.

    One of them, the man who had been calling out to her jumped down from the barricade and approached her. Taking off his helmet he revealed a stoic, clean shaven face. The pitch black hair filled with grey streaks "Colonel Grau, I'm Captain Victor Laric of the Imperial Army, servant of the Regent and Commander of these forces." He offered her his hand, which Ulrika, still utterly stunned, took.

    An Imperial Army, here? And what Regent did he mean? Jagged Fell? But his title was different as far as Ulrika knew.

    "How many soldiers did you bring with you?" He continued to ask before Ulrika even had a chance to say something.

    "About fifty, though only half of them are with me at the moment. The rest should hopefully reach our position soon."

    "It's at least something." The Imperial gave her a short nod. "The pirates will be back soon, we have given them a bloody nose, but that will only make them more angry."

    "Um... Sir..." Ulrika began.

    Laric turned around to her again, "I'm sure you have plenty of question colonel. But for now survival should be our top priority. If we are still alive by dawn, I will have some answers for you."
     
  2. Adalia-Durron

    Adalia-Durron WNU Mod - Aussie Rebel At Heart. star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Exciting start, looking forward to more.
     
    Anedon likes this.
  3. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great start with Ulrika leading her troops and finding all that devastation. And an interesting meeting.
     
    Anedon likes this.
  4. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Very exciting and very good!
     
    Anedon likes this.
  5. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Glad you do. :)

    Its indeed an unexpected meeting.

    Thanks :)



    Two

    Daecon looked through the scope of his rifle and took a deep breath, while counting down the seconds. Their enemies hadn't seen them yet, but they were very careful as they slowly moved forward. Scanning the woods and covering each other's corners. Whoever they where, they were certainly good at their job.

    But so was he, "now." He whispered into his comlink. Then he pulled the trigger.

    Further shoots rang through the forest as three enemy soldiers broke down in an instant. But their enemy reacted fast, getting down and seeking for cover. They had clearly expected another attack from above but still managed to adjust within a second.

    Daecon advanced on them, his telepathic ability told him that even though the ambush had surprised them most of them still kept their cool. Again he aimed with his rifle and took down another enemy before diving for cover. His soldiers followed him, closing in on the enemy as the forest turned into hell. But in the end, the advantage of the ambush was paying off and the remaining enemies surrendered.

    "Well that was easy," Quyin said as they moved through the darkening forest, back to their camp. "I frankly expected more from the famed ORSF."

    "We had the advantage," her Zeltron commander reminded her. "They were clearly expecting another droid attack to come from above, not to be ambushed by us on the ground."

    "Oh Daecon, always so serious. That's why your people cast you out, isn't it." The Twi'lek teased him.

    Daecon was too smart as to fall for this obvious bait so he instead said, "we still lost a few of our number to them."

    Quyin rolled her eyes, "nothing that can't be replaced. We are mercenaries, the less of us survive a mission, the higher the pay."

    Daecon allowed himself a little smile at that, but his mind remained focused. He knew why Quyin was in such high spirits. She had grown up in the slums of Eriadu and spend a hellish childhood in the utter poverty that most non human workers on that world lived. Having scored this victory against the people of her hated homeworld was a way of revenge to her.

    As to underline this the Twi'lek turned around to their captives. "Now you're not so proud anymore, are you? Just wait until we get back to camp and we will have some real fun with you."

    They had stripped their captives of their weapons and armor, down to their dark tank tops and shorts. On Quyin's instance the mercenaries also had taken their boots so the Eriaduan women now stumbled barefooted through the forest. Though even with their hands cuffed behind their backs and slave collars around their necks the soldiers remained their stoic expressions. Refusing to give their captors any information's beyond their name, rank and service number.

    In a way Daecon admired them for that, this discipline that his own men seemed to utterly lack. The stoicism of someone who fought for something greater than themselves. When he looked at his own men and women the Zeltron mercenary saw relaxation, joy or in a few cases anger over the men they had lost but in most cases he saw little else than raw, naked greed. They are already counting their credits, yet the battle isn't over yet. It was a dangerous mindset and he would have to get them back on track before they headed out again.

    Letting out a sigh he turned to his second in command, "Qy, leave them be."

    Quyin rolled her eyes, "honestly. Are you sure you are a Zeltron and not a Chiss someone painted pink as a joke? Relax yourself, what meaning is in victory if you can't enjoy it?"

    She had placed her finger on the wound, and Daecon shoot her a dark glance. "We aren't animals. We do our job and we get paid for it."

    On Zeltros he had always been an outsider, the matter alone that his parents had possessed the audacity to remain faithful to each other and properly raise their son had made him a target for bullying as he had grown up. On a world where casual sex and filling one's body with drugs where not only commonplace but considered scared to their culture, anyone not agreeing with these ideals quickly became an outcast. And so he had left once he had been old enough. First worked as a bounty hunter, than later he had formed his own mercenary company, fighting in conflicts all over the galaxy, before his way had finally brought him here, to the Southwest.

    "On their world, they see us like nothing but animals," Quyin shoot back. "You know how I was treated there!"

    He felt her anger, and it made him upset as well. But he calmed himself and answered, "true, but this fight isn't over. The ORSF being here tells me that this battle is going to be far larger than we've expected. I... I wonder why they are here."

    "I guess racists like to stick together," she spat at the ground. "Eriaduans, Imperials, is there really a difference?"

    Daecon wasn't sure, and he threw a glance back to the captives. All of them where women, he knew that the ORSF segregated their squads by gender so it seemed that these soldiers all belonged to the same unit. Good news, at least small ones as it seemed as if the ORSF presence on this world wasn't very large, at least not yet.

    In contrast to them his own squad was made up of men and women from various different species, Trandosians, Umbarans, Barabel, Genonosians and even a few humans. There was no species he wouldn´t recruit, the only things mattered if they could fight and follow orders.

    When they reached the camp night had fallen over the forest but various light sources from torches to flashlights illuminated the place. The mercenaries lead their captives towards the back of it, towards the pits dug for the captives. Several of them where already filled with dirtied and bruised people. The inhabitants of the towns they had attacked. Fifty per pit, many of the young, crying, screaming or simply staring in desperation. Families cuddled together. It gave Daecon a sting to his hearth to look at them. In some part of his mind, the part where he still was a young boy on Zeltros felt pity for them. They are imperials, their kind killed billions all across the galaxy, this is only fair, poetic justice even, he told himself as he avoided his gaze.

    Gryk, the master of the slave pens and a full grown Tof approached them, his hungry glance wandering over their captives. "Seems you did well on today's hunt, this is some fine stock."

    It was rare that the Zeltron boy and the hardened careless mercenary he had turned into agreed on one thing. But both unquestionably hated the slave master. "They are, and they are our captives, keep your dirty paws away from them. They are worth a good ransom and I don´t intend on you lowering their value."

    The Tof spat on the ground before him, "if you say so, chivalrous knight. Yet you may keep their leader around. A meeting has been called, and she is to be questioned."

    The mercenaries shoved their remaining captives into one of the empty pits, and several of them stayed around to watch over their captives while Daecon and Quyin took the officer, a tough looking woman with blue dyed hair with them to the main tent where the others leaders of the raid already awaited them.

    "What is your name?" The leader of the warband, a Nagai pirate named Xavius asked the captured woman who was kneeling in front of him.

    "I am Elena Kyr, Lieutenant of the ORSF, service number 127819." The woman said and Daecon couldn't help but admire how calm and collected she was even now.

    "You've ambushed her squad?" Xavius asked the mercenary.

    "We did, 24 soldiers, 7 were killed before they surrendered. We captured the remaining 17, none managed to escape."

    "Did they managed to contact any other forces before that?"

    "I don't think so," Quyin said. "The short range com blockers should have prevented that."

    The Nagai ran a hand over his bald head, "good to know. For we have information's of further Eriaduan troops on the planet, it seems that they have teamed up with the remaining imperial defenders by now."

    "So the main attack failed?" Daecon asked, rising an eyebrow. These pirates can't win anything without our help can they?

    "It did," Xavius admitted. "We are currently gathering forces for a counterattack to crush the last remnants of resistance on the world."

    "Wouldn't a retreat be the better option?" Daecon suggested. "If some Eriaduan forces are here we have to expect massive reinforcements in due time. Might be better to just cut our losses and leave."

    Gryk spat at him, "coward."

    Quyin drew her blade but Xavius silenced them as he rose from his chair and stepped closer to the captive. "We have to make a stand here, if we do not it may embolden the ORSF to move further into this sector. Only when we stop them here can we prevent an Eriaduan intervention. We need to make clear to them that this is our territory. Which brings me to you, Elena. When can we expect the arrival of reinforcements?"

    "I am Elena Kyr, Lieutenant of the ORSF, service number 127819." Was the only answer.

    Xavius hit her, hard enough for blood to run down her cheek.

    "When?"

    "I am Elena Kyr, Lieutenant of the ORSF, service number 127819." the woman said again. Her voice calm and collected, as if she was at an registration office.

    The next hit, hit her in her stomach, "you will talk eventually. It's up to you how much you will suffer beforehand."

    "I am Elena Kyr, Lieutenant of the ORSF, service number 127819." She said once more, looking defiantly up to her captors.

    "Give her to me," Gryk said, the hunger having returned to his gaze. "I will make her sing in a few minutes."

    Daecon was amazed that even now the captive woman remained calm. But he could no longer watch this, so he said. "These are prisoners of the ORSF, and as such valuable hostages in case reinforcements arrive. Plus, if the Eriaduans learn that we tortured and abused the prisoners, then we don´t have to worry about causing an intervention anymore. Then we will see one."

    Xavius thought about this for a moment, then he nodded. "True, it's best to keep the captives in good shape, at least as long as they have a value as hostages."

    Gryk clearly wanted to say something but a glance by the Nagai shut him up.

    "Bring her back to the other captives for now, they might prove useful not only against any coming reinforcements but also against the forces that are already here. Then get some rest, we will resume the attack on the city at midnight and I want you and your men to be there," the warlord told them, sending them out of his tent.

    They brought Elena back to the rest of her squad who quickly stuck their heads together, no doubt discussing what she had heard in the tent. Daecon had hoped that having protected her from further harm would win him a favor with the Lieutenant but she was as cold as she had been before.

    Moving into his own tent he found Quyin was already waiting for him, pieces of her clothing littering the ground around their bed. Daecon tore of his jacket, then slipped out his tunic and boots, sitting down next to her in only his dark pants.

    She laid a hand on his shoulder, "I know I should say you were right. Seen Gryk... hell we are soldiers of fortune but we shouldn't lower ourselves to that level."

    "Thanks for saying that," he gave his mate a quick kiss on the cheek.

    "Do you think we can break through the defenders tonight?" She asked as she removed her headpiece letting her Lekku fall free.

    "I hope so, we are too few to fight a prolonged battle, especially should reinforcements arrive." He looked at her. "But let's not talk about that right now."

    He felt how her she placed her arms around his neck, while his hands moved for her bare back, loosing himself in her embrace and pushing the darkness from his mind.
     
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  6. Adalia-Durron

    Adalia-Durron WNU Mod - Aussie Rebel At Heart. star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Our enemies have depth, despite being the bad guys!
     
    Anedon likes this.
  7. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great chapter; exploring Daecon and his mercenaries
     
    Anedon likes this.
  8. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    That´s true. They are still people...

    Thanks, glad you like it.




    Three

    "How long have you been holding up here?" Ulrika asked as she and several of her squad followed Laric through the corridors of the administration building.

    "We arrived two days ago, but the battles has been going on for about a week," he replied. "They first attacked the smaller towns over the place and began gathering slaves. Trying to lure out the garrison from their defensive positions."

    The hallways where filled with people, civilians, refugees from the battle outside, most of them sitting on the ground, staring blackly or quietly talking to their loved ones. Many of them clad in ragged clothing, clutching what few possessions they had managed to keep with them to their chest. Most of them where humans but also saw several families of aliens. As they passed through them Ulrika could hear the muttering. Saw how some of them, the younger ones especially looked up to her and her soldiers. There was puzzlement in their eyes but also something else, a glimmer of hope it seemed.

    "Who are these soldiers?"..."The ORSF?"... "Are the Eriaduans coming to our aid?".... "What has changed...?"

    The mutterings echoing through Ulrika´s mind as she did her best to give a confident and reassuring presence. Yet she was worried. After entering the building she had tried to contact Elena over com but her second in command hadn't responded. Something that was very unusual for her commonly very reliable and no nonsense right hand woman. Something must have happened and Ulrika did her best not to think too deep about her darker possibilities. At least not yet, while there was still time.

    Entering a large hall that had once been the a ballroom for the imperial governor, it was now filled with makeshift beds and mattresses. The stench of blood and disinfectants filled the room, as did the screaming and moaning of dozens of patients in this makeshift hospital.

    A woman wearing a now dirty white coat over an imperial officer uniform approached them. She was in her thirties and even with the dirt on her clothes and the tiredness in her eyes Ulrika couldn't help but notice a sense of determination inside of her.

    "Even more wounded? Was there another attack?" She asked before she noticed the ORSF armor pieces that Ulrika and her soldiers wore. Her face turn a spot brighter, "are reinforcements finally arriving? Can we begin evacuating the wounded?"

    "Sadly not," Laric said, keeping his voice stoic. "They are trapped on this world just as we are. At least for now. Though they have several wounded of their own."

    The woman let out a sigh, "we will try our best, but we already have too many patients."

    "They are soldiers, they have priority." Laric said firmly.

    "And our medic can lend her aid," Ulrika added and Dannika stepped forward.

    It took the woman a few minutes to find a niche for the Eriaduans and it almost broke Ulrika's heart as she send the people inhabiting it out. It was another elderly couple and Ulrika found herself reminded of the one they had found in the house on their way here. These ones had at least managed to make it here, but looking at their wounds the Eriaduan knew they probably wouldn't survive the night. For a moment she was transported back to the Vong War, and the overcrowded makeshift hospitals of the Peace Brigade. Especially the two months she had spend in one of them, cooking with fever and hallucinating. It was a miracle she had survived and in some ways and even greater one that she hadn't outed herself as a spy during her mad ramblings. Elena had been there with her the whole time, the only person she had been able to trust during those four years... Elena.

    Ulrika forced herself back into the present as to not start worrying again. Concentrate on your mission soldier. She told herself.

    The niche was barely large enough for Aurela, Dilara and Kinga. So Aurela remained standing as Dannika applied some bacta on her burn wounds while the imperial woman examined the other two. Then, chucking a lock of her brown hair behind her head she turned to Ulrika and Laric who were watching the whole ordeal.

    "Her leg wound has infected itself, but it's nothing we can't fix," she said pointing at Dilara, who tried her best to give Ulrika a brave smile. "we have enough antibiotics but she will have to spare herself for a few days."

    "We might not have a few days," Laric said coldly.

    Ulrika shoot him a burning look, don't even think of sending her back to the frontline in her condition. She felt pride over the young soldiers, that she had been able to make it all the way here despite the growing pain in her leg, and now wouldn't reward her strength by risking her life even further.

    "I think I can fight," Dilara pressed through her teeth.

    Ulrika knelt down next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder, "no soldier. You will rest now. We will kill some pirates for you out there until you can join us again."

    Laric's gaze was filled with disapproval but he said nothing, as the medic turned to Kinga.

    "With her, if we want to save her arm she would need a few hours in the bacta tank, at least." She said, throwing the captain a questioning glance.

    Ulrika jumped back to her feet, "you have a bacta tank? Then get her in there."

    "We can't take it, it would waste almost all the bacta we have left." Laric said coldly.

    Ulrika felt how anger grew inside of her, "Is that your way to treat an ally?"

    Laric took a deep breath and looked at her with a look that seemed to mix pity with condescension. Like of a parent who told their child that their dead pet wouldn't come back to life. "I would make that same decision if it was one of my own soldiers. We can't sacrifice this much bacta for one soldier. Not when we have dozens and dozens of wounded to take care of."

    "But if we don't act now she will lose her arm!" Ulrika shoot back.

    Laric raised an eyebrow, "there are prosthetics for that, Colonel Grau. Your soldier will survive, and be able to fight again."

    Ulrika gasped and for a moment she felt Ilona's fist hitting her in the stomach again. Relax Ilona he gets a shiny cybernetic replacement for his eye, it's no big deal. Her own words echoing through her mind. Words that nearly two decades ago had cost her two dear friends... words that she had eventually come to deeply regret. It all now came back to her, made even worse by the fact that she was now on speaking terms with Ilona and Kat again.

    She knew that, form a logical standpoint Laric was probably right, but emotionally she now felt like Ilona must have had that night. Willing to punch the imperial and demand him to aid Kinga.

    "It's okay, boss," Kinga said, looking up to her squad leader with a stoic expression on her mind. "He is right. We need to take of the arm."

    Ulrika took a deep breath, then she nodded. Kinga had been with her squad for many years now, having been part of the first generation to join after the Vong War. She turned to Laric, "I will stay with her for that."

    Laric shook his head, but more to himself than anyone, "if you say so... Colonel. But the pirates will return soon. I need you at the front."

    "I will be there," Ulrika reassured him before sitting down next to Kinga and Dilara. Taking the formers unwounded hand.

    "You really have a talent of keeping old Victor on the edge ," the imperial medic told her with a smile as she injected another dose of painkillers into Kinga's arm to prepare for what was to come.

    "He is the one causing the friction," Ulrika muttered. "He seems to embody every stereotype about the Empire that I know."

    "Well he isn't a coward and as far as I know he can actually hit a target with a blaster, at least once in a while." The medic said, as she took out a large vibro knife.

    "Look at me," Ulrika told Kinga and drew her soldiers gaze to herself. Then to ease her a bit she said. "Given where we currently are... What does a stormtrooper need to do to get a woman take him to bed with her?"

    The knife fell and despite the preparations Ulrika felt how she shivered at it happening. The medic took the arm and placed it into a containment box. Before turning to them again, giving Kinga a glance. "Oh I can't help you with that, never seen a stormtrooper who actually succeeded at that endeavor..." Kinga returned her look with a grin.

    Ulrika allowed herself a chuckle, "darn, and I was going to say bring a microscope and tweezers." But then she became serious again, "thanks, for helping with this."

    "No problem," she pulled the glove of her right hand and then offered it to Ulrika. "Cassandra Torin."

    The Eriaduan shook it, "Ulrika Grau, you are a skilled medic."

    "Well, trying my best, this is not my normal job, but as you know, in the empire they say women are best suited for the med bay... or the kitchen."

    Ulrika shook her heads, "idiots, no wonder they couldn't hold onto the galaxy." For all the flaws her homeworld had, and Ulrika could list dozens of them, there they at least treated men and women as equals in all things.

    Cassandra gave her a thankful glance but before they could reply they were approached by a young imperial soldier. He gave Ulrika quick salute, "Captain Laric requests your presence at the barricade, there is something you need to look at."

    With a sigh Ulrika stood up and briefly turned to her two wounded squad mates. "Well guess we can't let the good captain wait now can't we. Get some rest, I'm trying not to win the war before you are healthy again."


    In one point Laric was right, what she saw at the plaza was indeed of utmost importance. The pirates had returned and now held positions in the large building on the other side of the open place. Hiding in the now dead windows. Almost brazenly looking at them.

    "Are they insane?" Ulrika asked, "this is going to be an easy shootout."

    Laric interrupted her by handing her his binoculars. "Have a better look at it first."

    Ulrika did as told and froze as she realized the pirates plan. The figures in the windows weren´t members of the Iron Alliance ready to fight them, but instead the other half of her squad. Stripped of their armor and tied to the window frames to be used as human shields. Their enemies could hide behind them to fire but any returning volley would mostly hit her squad mates instead. Her heart sank as she saw Elena in one of the highest windows, squirming against her bonds, blood running across her face.

    Ulrika's heart was racing. She and Elena had been friends forever, since a time where Elena hadn't even been called that. Ulrika had been there for her, back then as well as now. And Elena had repaid her a thousand fold.

    "Have they made any demands?" She asked Laric.

    He shook his head, "not yet. I suspect they are giving us some time to take in the view."

    "You can't be considering to attack the building," Ulrika said, given the imperials track record so far she wouldn't even be surprised.

    "I would prefer not to," he agreed carefully. "But I don't see an alternative, unless you want to suggest surrender. Which I shall remind you condemns all of us to a fate worse than death."

    That was true Ulrika knew, but it was a terrible alternative. Killing her own squad mates, or suffer an even worse fate alongside them.

    "The ORSF might pay a ransom for us if we surrender," Aurela suggested, having followed Ulrika back outside.

    The look that Laric gave her was filled pure hatred and this time Ulrika could understand it. So she quickly said, "and leave these people here to their fate? We can't do that."

    Aurela lowered her gaze while Laric gave her a thankful nod.

    "There might be a way," Cassandra suddenly said. Ulrika hadn't noticed that she had followed her but she was here.

    "You know a way administrator Torin?" Laric gave her a questioning glance.

    Cassandra nodded, slowly. "That building is the imperial hotel. The late Governor Kyr, he kept his lovers there to avoid them being spotted in the palace. And he had a tunnel build so he could visit them without being spotted."

    Laric stepped, "he did what? Stars if that's true I would have the old bastard hung for squandering government money. How do you know of this tunnel."

    Cassandra took a deep breath, "as his administrator I had to take care of his many businesses, including keeping that tunnel secret. But I guess it doesn't matter now. The pirates got him on the first day."

    Ulrika stepped forward. "If I understand this right, and there is a way into the building, then I will take it." A third way, a risky way, but an alternative to killing her soldiers. Exactly what she had looked for.

    Laric gave her a look, "can´t let you go there alone. I'm coming with you. But we should only take a few soldiers each, so the pirates won't notice what we are trying."

    Ulrika nodded, she was unsure if this was a good idea, but at least it would give the imperials a chance to show what they were worth as allies.
     
  9. Adalia-Durron

    Adalia-Durron WNU Mod - Aussie Rebel At Heart. star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Loving the development of Ulrika. She's a cool character.
     
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  10. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    great plan to rescue her squad.
     
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  11. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    She certianly has come a long way since her first story hasn´t she? ;)

    Its most certianly is, thanks. :)


    Four

    "This governor put quite a lot of effort in keeping his affairs a secret," Ulrika said as they left the tunnel. The room on the other side was simple, filled with no furniture but a carpet on the ground. Two doors, both closed where found on the other sides of the wall.

    "That's only the tip of the iceberg," Cassandra explained as she pointed at one of the doors. "This one leads to the main lift of the hotel. In the lift itself there is no button for this room though. It only reacts to the governors signal."

    "You do realize that by holding onto this knowledge you've made yourself complicit in the governors corruptions?" Laric said, his voice as cold as ever.

    Cassandra turned around to him, "I did what was my duty as a member of the government of this world. And was under direct orders by the governor not to disclose what happened here. Its rather delicate knowledge isn´t it? Would be a shame if people found it what the governor could do all these years, under the nose of our noble regent."

    Laric gave her an irritated look, "I know what you are suggesting here, Administrator. Yes, putting you on trial would cause a stain on our government. So I accept your honest dedication now as a form of atonement for the corruption you helped to cover up. But... maybe you should ask yourself, if you had said something, and stopped this. Maybe the wasted money, invested into this worlds defense instead, could have prevented the mess we are currently facing."

    "Who is the regent anyway?" Ulrika asked, having heard this title for several times during the night. Whoever he was he seemed to hold considerable power over these imperials, so Ulrika wondered why she had never heard of him.

    "He is the reason any of us is even alive," Laric said briefly.

    Cassandra's face gave no reaction away as she instead stepped at the other door and opened it, "this door leads to the stairwell for the employees. If you are lucky the pirates don't guard it."

    "Thank you," Ulrika inclined her head to the Administrator.

    Cassandra gave her a smile as she turned and moved back to the tunnel, "I'm heading back, there are patients needing my help."

    Ulrika watched after her, thankful and even a bit enamored by her, maybe if they survived this night...

    Then she turned back to Laric, "They have hostages on several level and I assume once they realize what's going on they won't hesitate to shoot them."

    Laric nodded, "most likely. I think our best option is to split our forces and attack every level at the same time. Then we'll have the best chance to save as many as possible."

    Ulrika had seen hostages in five levels that left about two or three of them for each. A risky venture but doable with the element of surprise.

    "There might be more hostages in other places," she said, almost more to herself than anyone else. If she did the math of the hostages in the windows she had only seen about ten. Maybe the others are all dead. The thought echoed through her mind but Ulrika knew she couldn't let it control her, especially not now.

    "Clearing the windows should have priority," Laric reminded her.

    Once again Ulrika felt a desire to punch him but couldn't help to agree with his cold pragmatism. "Well then, I'm taking the top floor," she announced as the rest of the squad organized themselves. Aurela was there as well, apparently hoping to make up for her suggestion of surrender by risking her life in this.

    Laric stepped next to her, "then I have your back."

    Is he trying to come onto me now? Or does he trust me so little he wants to oversee each of my steps? Ulrika wasn't sure which of these options would worry her more and so she decided to ignore that train of thought for a while as they moved up the stairs.

    As they reached the top floor they began quietly peeking through a opening in the door to check for enemies.

    "You seem quite taken by Administrator Torin," Laric's voice shook her.

    Ulrika spun around, "I don´t think that is any of your business, Captain Laric."

    Laric shook his head, "everything that relates to the government of this world is my business. And let me tell you that the Administrator is far from the harmless bureaucrat who now had to step up in place of our late governor."

    "What are you trying to imply?" Ulrika crossed her arms in front of her chest, unsure why he was brining this up, now.

    "That Miss Torin is clearly hiding something, there are many puzzling things. How she as a clearly competed servant failed to notify her government of the Governor Tyrs corruption. How she managed to survive the attack that killed the governor, how she a pen pusher is so skilled with medicine, why she is suddenly so willing to provide aid to you and your squad yet did little to support mine in last two days...." He said, keeping his voice down.

    "Maybe you are just upset that a woman can actually be competed at her job?" Ulrika shot back, they had come here to save her squad and all the captain seemed to be interested in was casting doubt on their allies.

    Laric raised an eyebrow, "if that where the case, Colonel Grau. If I truly believed a person competence boiled down to what they have or haven´t between their legs... do you think I would be here now, with you, preparing to take on at least a dozen of pirates to save two of your squad mates? Instead of safely sitting behind my barricades and fire indiscriminately at these hostages which I would consider utterly useless anyway?"

    "Do you think she works with the pirates?" Ulrika asked doubting that option even more.

    "No, if she was she had told them of the tunnel and we would all be dead by now. But she is hiding something. Something that might cause us trouble in the long run if we fail to figure it out."

    The man is as cold as ice, Ulrika thought, but he was probably right again. "Honestly, if we survive this battle the two of us have to have a serious talk about several things," she muttered as she turned back towards the door.

    "As I said, I will answer your questions. Once we've got the time," Laric replied as he drew his blaster.

    Carefully Ulrika opened the door and entered the corridor, before drawing her own weapon and tapping on her comlink, sending a quiet signal to the soldiers on the other levels to act. Then she began to move fast, thanking the goddess for the thick carpet on the floor that quieted her and Laric´s steps.

    Having studied the plan of the building she knew which room they needed to enter. The Emperor Suite, the best room in the whole hotel. At its door she exchanged a quick glance with Laric and the Imperial gave her a nod.

    Ulrika carefully turned the knob and pulled the door open an inch, enough for Laric to chuck a small object inside. Both averted their eyes as a second later a flash of light filled the room, as did the screams of the pirates inside.

    Following their flash grenade the two soldiers kicked open the door and entered, quickly identifying their targets and firing. Ulrika counted seven pirates though three where dead before they even had the chance to react and two more followed them as they desperately tried to take cover. The final two made a dash for the hostages and the soldier next to Elena, Kira, was hit in the shoulder before it finally over.

    Sounds of battle still echoed through the hotel as the fighting begun through the other levels.

    Ulrika quickly rushed over to her soldiers and used her vibro blade to cut the ropes tying them to the window frames.

    Elena gave her best friend a tight hug, "knew you would come back for us, boss."

    "Never leaving anyone behind," Ulrika said, allowing herself a smile.

    Elena's face darkened as she saw Laric, "who is that?"

    Ulrika knew why her friend hated imperials so much, but now was not the time to tear open that wound. She hoped that Laric would have at least more decency that those imperial nobles at the banquet all those years ago. If not I might kill him myself.

    "An... ally, I will explain it to you later but..." Ulrika´s words where cut off by the sound of voices in the corridor.

    "Cover!" Laric yelled and the four all sought what little protection was to be found in the suite. But the large sofas and beds would hardly give much protection against volleys of blaster fire. Elena had picked up the blaster of one of the dead pirates to join them in their fight meanwhile Kira was too heavily wounded, clutching her shoulder while hiding in cover.

    Taking out her comlink the other squadrons confirmed being caught in a similar position. This whole thing was a trap. They hid further soldiers in the back of the building to cut of our retreat even if we somehow managed to free the hostages. Whoever commanded the enemy force, Ulrika couldn't help but acknowledge that they knew what they were doing.

    They had managed to kill the first two pirates that tried to enter the room but now more and more arrived. Blaster fire filling the suite and shredding the expensive furniture and defacing the murals of Palpatine on the walls.

    "The staircase is not an option, I have another flash, but that won't be enough," Laric pressed through his teeth before quickly leaving his cover to take a few shoots at the attackers near the door.

    Elena turned to them, "do you still have your rope launcher?"

    Of course, they could escape through the windows, even if it was, as always pretty risky.

    Ulrika spun out of cover and shot another pirate giving them a few seconds to breathe.

    "She won't be able to climb." Laric said and pointed at Kira who covered next to them clutching her shoulder wound. "The three of us can get out, but she..."

    "She has a name, Private Kira Fallon" Kira said, her voice shaking, but becoming stronger with every letter. "You have to go without me. I'll give you cover."

    Laric gave Ulrika a questioning look, but she shook her head, "not this time. We can do this." She took out her rope launcher and fired it the ceiling above the window. "Do you trust me?" The other nodded. She quickly activated her com again and gave the same order to the rest of their squads: Evacuate through the windows.

    Ulrika was shaking, she knew that what she had planned could doom them all, but she wouldn't sacrifice any more soldiers in this battle if she didn't had to. And so her next words where filled with determination.

    "Flash, now!"

    Laric followed her command while Ulrika jumped to her feet and placed an arm around Kira who winced in pain. She wrapped the cable from the launcher around their hips, before turning to the other for a second, "follow us as soon as possible." Then she took the jump, holding the screaming Kira in her arms.

    They moved down the building quickly and after the first few seconds Ulrika´s arms began to burn at the weight of Kira. Pressing the young soldier against herself she found at least some grim irony in that if the pirates hadn´t stripped her of her armor, this wouldn't have been possible at all. As they moved deeper and deeper she saw other members of her squad who evacuated the building from the other windows.

    I can't hold her any longer. Her brain told Ulrika as they had traversed about half of the way down. She felt how Kira began to slip from her grip. But then there was another hand. Aurela stood next to them, clutching a cable of her own with one arm while wrapping the other around Kira's stomach to hold her.

    She and Ulrika exchanged a quick nod as they now moved downwards, slower but saver. We can do this, we get out of this alive. She saw how Elena climbed down above, then how Laric followed her. They would make it. They would all...

    A blaster shoot rang through one of the open windows and in the next second Ulrika felt how Kira's weight now rested in her arms alone as Aurela lost her grip around both her comrade as well as the rope and fell the last two meters towards the ground, the hole of a blaster bolt in her skull.

    Ulrika screamed and cursed the entire galaxy, but the rage gave her enough strength to carry Kira the remaining way. Finally on the ground she gestured the girl to run towards the administration building. While drawing her own blaster and laying fire on the dead windows to cover the descent of the remaining soldiers. Once all where down Laric gave an order to the men left at the barricade who now fire all they had at the building to cover their retreat. Ulrika knelt down and grabbed Aurela's arm, not wanting to leave her body behind, not here, not in the face of these pirates. Elena was at her side and took the other arm and together they dragged their fallen comrade back to safety.

    Next to Aurela they had lost another ORSF soldier, as well as four of the Imperials, two of the hostages had been killed in the crossfire, but the remaining eight where alive and only lightly wounded, though Kira would spent the rest of the battle next to Kinga and Dilara. With Dannika helping out in the infirmary it left Ulrika with twenty five soldiers that where available to fight. While according to Elena eight further soldiers were still in the hands of the pirates.

    "They left them at their camp," she told Ulrika as the first lights of the morning finally began to creep over the plaza. Both of them sat on the steps of the administration building. Elena wore Aurela´s armor as a way of honoring their friend. Leaning her head against her best friends shoulder she added, "they consider them valuable hostages, they are alive."

    "We will rescue them as well," Ulrika agreed and for a moment the two of them fell back into silence. As she watched the soldiers at the barricade Ulrika couldn't help but notice that something had changed. Before they had headed out there had been an aura of mistrust between the imperials and her own soldiers, but now. With the battle of the night behind them she saw them talking with each other. The truest bonds are those forged in the hell of war, Arien Redan, Tobin's ancestor had written. Or at least the quote had been applied to him eventually. Either way, Ulrika couldn't deny that there was truth to his observation when Laric approached them and handed her a cup of caf.

    She took a deep sip, before handing it to Elena. "We survived the night."

    "Indeed," the Imperial replied, and even in his voice Ulrika could hear how tired he was. "You are an... unconventional leader Colonel Grau. And I am sure your methods have brought you trouble more than once..."

    "That'sfor sure," Elena said with a dark smile.

    "but you are reliable and your dedication to your soldiers is certainly a thing to admire."

    Ulrika allowed herself a grin, "well you are a cynical, old bastard, but a dam fine soldier as well."

    Laric inclined his head to her and for the fraction of a second she believed to have spotted the merest hint of a smile on his lips, but as he said down next to them he looked as stoic as ever. "You have questions Colonel, and I promised I would answer them when the night is over... so here we are, what do you want to know?"
     
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  12. Adalia-Durron

    Adalia-Durron WNU Mod - Aussie Rebel At Heart. star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2003
    :eek: Wow..............Keep it coming
     
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  13. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    good to see the hostages saved. Intense action
     
  14. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    On it. ;)

    Thanks, glad it works for you. :)


    Five

    "That... is certainly a lot. I wonder why we barely heard of this on Eriadu," Elena said as the sun continued its rise on the horizon. They had been talking for quite a while now and she needed some time to process the information, add them to those she already possessed in hopes of making sense of them.

    These Imperials, she now knew were what remained of the Imperial Colonial Government of the Southwest. That had been established about a decade after the Clone Wars, after the Imperials had crushed the remaining Separatists in the Region.

    "Well most of them," Laric had explained. "Many of them shattered and turned to piracy, forming the first generation of what we know today as the Iron Alliance."

    The Colonial Government had never been very stable, massive pirate activity, local uprisings and internal struggles between the Administration, the Military and the large Corporations had made governing these Sectors a troublesome. And so their government had eventually collapsed in the years after Endor, especially as the Imperial Remnant had considered them a lost cause and stopped sending aid.

    The Last Colonial Governor Kentor Sarne had been killed by local rebels aided by the New Republic and with his death everything had collapsed. Thousands of soldiers had fled the region, many others had deserted their post to join the Iron Alliance or become independent criminals and warlords.

    That was as far Elena had known about these things, what had read over the sectors history. What was new, was that not all imperials had abandoned their cause and the settlers in the Region. Choosing the highest ranking bureaucrat as a Regent to govern them in the absence of an Emperor they had clung together to defend what little they had left against the Iron Alliance and other enemies. It was a long, endless struggle for simple survival, one, that from what she could gather the Imperials where slowly loosing.

    Guess that explains why they were so open to the idea of saving us, she figured. The Imperials needed allies and this battle gave them an opportunity to win some.

    After Laric had left to take care of further business Elena and Ulrika had been left to their own thoughts.

    Elena wasn't sure if she liked Laric, he was certainly polite and a dedicated soldier, but there was coldness to him. The coldness of someone who had fought a hopeless war for all of his live. For whom morals and honor had long since become meaningless concepts.

    Well at least he has some basic decency to him, unlike others... During her rescue and later retreat he had no doubt seen her flat chest in her torn tank top. But he had neither commented on it, nor showed any other signs of disgust.

    For a moment her mind returned to the banquet many years ago, at the end of the Vong War, just one of many celebrations where members of the various victorious nations met and talked. The words of the young imperial nobles echoed through her mind, look at him, a boy wanting to be a girl! Can a human grow even more pathetic? And we fought alongside that? No wonder the war lasted so long. The whole thing had escalated into a brawl as Ulrika and the rest of the squad had stood up for her and in the end the Imperials had been forced to give half hearted apology. But their words still haunted her.

    She felt how Ulrika placed an arm around her. "Hey, it's okay. You've been thinking back too?"

    "Yeah," Elena said. Ulrika just had a way of reading her only the best of friends possessed. Ulrika had never judged her for who she was, but instead been there for her whenever she had needed her. Between her, the rest of the squad and her own parents Elena had never doubted her path.

    "Want to talk about it?"

    "No, I'm good," Elena said as she leaned in a bit against her friend. The memories had vanished as quickly as they had appeared and now there were other things on her mind. "So a presence of Imperials in these Regions, I wonder why the ORSF didn't know about it?"

    Ulrika chewed on her lip for a moment before she responded, "not sure to be honest. I thought, with you being the bookworm of the squad at least you would have read about this. But then again, up until recently our government was doing under the table deals with the Iron Alliance, I suspect they wanted to keep information's about this Sector as vague as possible. If people had known that the Iron Alliance was raiding human colonies, even imperial ones, I suspect people would have demanded a reaction."

    Elena nodded slowly, "yeah, as long as its only aliens killing each other our government wouldn't lift a finger. But once human's get in danger things are different." She allowed herself a bitter chuckle. "Sometimes I really wonder if we are even the good girls here..."

    "We are protecting these people from slavers and pirates," Ulrika reminded her. "Our government is not perfect, and it will probably never be. But it was a noble idea one which is was build, to bring order and stability to this region of the Outer Rim."

    "Still the old idealist aren't you?" Elena said and playfully placed a finger on Ulrika's chest. For her part she had read too much about history and the politics of the galaxy, both in the past and now to really share her friends optimism.

    Her best friend gave her a twinkle, "I told you about my trip to Dathomir haven't I? Societies can change, if people have the courage to fight for it. And there are people on Eriadu who do, Ilona, my cousin and others..."

    Elena chuckled a bit at the mentioning of Ilona, it was still strange for her to hear Ulrika speak on nicer terms about her rival, to apply some genuine compliments to her instead of the backhanded ones she usually gave.

    "You did tell me," Elena said after a moment, "but I think you mostly talked about the cute witches and your attempts to get in bed with them. And how you failed miserably.." She added the last bit with a twinkle. There was a sting of jealous happiness to this. She and Ulrika had shared a bed many times during their lives, but where Ulrika wanted to retain her independence and not let herself get tied down Elena secretly wished for something more.

    "Well that was the more important thing!" Ulrika said teasingly, "ending slavery in a whole society is nice and all but of course the love life of Ulrika Grau stands above everything." But then she leaned a bit against her friend and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, "not that any witch could ever replace you in my heart or my bed..."

    Elena shook her head but decided not to take the bait. Especially not here, with a battle on their hands. Instead she asked, "how is Daron?"

    "He is doing better again," Ulrika said. "Spending time on Dathomir has helped him come to terms with who he is and what is ahead of him. Also discovered he has kind of a hand for paperwork. Talked to my cousin if we can give him a place in the family business."

    Ulrika's cousin, Nikolay Grau was the head of their family, and one of the more ambitious and successful lower nobles of Eriadu.

    "Good to hear the boy is save, what is family did to him..." Elena said and Ulrika nodded in agreement. For a while the two of them just sat next to each other, enjoying their company and clearing their thoughts.

    Elena felt how her eyes threatened to close, how her mind drifted towards sleep.

    "We should get some rest, but before, check on the wounded," Ulrika said after a while and Elena nodded. Most of their squadron had already sought a place to rest but as they talked to Laric they had forgotten their own tiredness for a while.

    Dannika was the first they met in the infirmary. The young woman looked utterly exhausted and her clothes where dirty. But she still had enough strength to give her superior officers a salute.

    "At ease soldier," Ulrika said, trying to suppress a yawn of her own. "How is it going?"

    Dannika's gaze became sorrowful, "we've lost many during the night. Especially civilians. Their wounds would be easy to heal normally, but here, with so little in the way of medicine and even food... wounds become far worse than they should be." She made a pause as she lowered her gaze.

    Ulrika place a hand on her shoulder, "I'm sure you did your best. I'm glad you could lend a hand to these people."

    A small smile appeared around Dannika's lips before she said, "our soldiers are doing well." She lead them over the niche where Kira and Dilara where chuckling about a story Kinga had just told them. All three of them sat up to welcome their superior officers.

    "Stay where you are soldiers," Elena said, given them a reassuring smile. "Let's not waste any energy while recovering."

    "I suspect you have already won the entire war on your own then and we can all resurface in peace?" Kinga asked.

    "Not yet, sadly," Ulrika shrugged. "But we are working on it. Hope you could find at least some rest here."

    "Had a good night's sleep," Dilara said. "As long as I don't put my weight on it my leg is okay."

    "Slept a bit early this morning," Kira agreed.

    "Good to hear," Ulrika replied and then stumbled for a moment, before turning to Elena. "Guess it's time for us to get some rest as well."

    "Need a place to sleep?" Cassandra Torin, the Administrator had approached them.

    "That would be nice," Elena inclined her head towards her.

    The Imperial lead them through a few corridors of the administration building. In many of the rooms they saw refugees, sometimes entire families sitting or laying on the floor to get at least some rest. Elena felt pity rising inside of her and wished they had come earlier and with a larger force.

    Eventually they reached a double door that was guarded by two Imperials in the grey coats of the regular Imperial Infantry.
    "We´ve reserved these quarters for soldiers, so they can get a proper rest." Cassandra explained as she lead them through the door and towards a corridor leading to several rooms filled with bunk beds. Elena noticed that several where already occupied, some with members of their own squadron.

    "This is an officers quarter," the Administrator told them with a smile as she opened another door. Instead of bunk beds it included a double bed and its own refresher.

    Ulrika and Elena raised an eyebrow at the special treatment but where both too tired to argue. Instead they entered the room and began to strip out of their armor. Only as she was preparing to lay down on the right side of the bed Elena realized that Cassandra was still in the room, watching them.

    "Laric told you about what happened in these Sectors didn't he?" Even though it was asked like a question Elena had little doubt the Administrator already knew the answer.

    "He did," Ulrika replied with a yawn. "You've been fighting this war for a long time."

    Cassandra let out a grunt, "war is that what he calls it? So I guess he didn't mention the slaughtering."

    "Slaughter?" Elena asked cuddling herself in the blankets, her mind just drifting away now awoke again. What was she talking about.

    "The Imperial government sought to 'pacify' this sector. And in the name of that committed unspeakable atrocities. Entire populations where whipped out and enslaved," she explained. "And now its left to us. People like me to pay for the crimes committed by our parents. We are suffering because of their actions, meanwhile old men like our 'dear regent' who have the blood on their hands do nothing but put us down for wanting to live our lives."

    "Then why didn't you report the governors corruption?" Ulrika asked raising an eyebrow.

    Cassandra laughed bitterly, "and to whom? The regent would never believe a mere Administrator, a woman at that over a season and honored governor. And even if he had been removed from office he would have replaced by someone just as bad. But using it the information's to pressure the governor I could at least do some good."

    "Why are you telling us this?" Elena asked.

    "Because you need to be careful, people will try to pull you into their schemes and plays for power. You could find yourself being used for an agenda you have nothing in common with," with that she stood up and moved towards the door. "If you want to stay on the right side of this, we need to have a talk after this battle is over."

    "Wasn't she also just trying to pull us into her political game?" Elena asked as they were alone.

    "I guess so," Ulrika replied, resting her head on one of her palms. "But I trust her more than Laric. She still believes in a better future, while Laric only has his duty left to him. Yet we shouldn´t think about it now. We need some rest."

    Soon Elena was fast asleep, leaning against Ulrika who had placed one arm around her friends stomach, holding her tightly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2021 at 5:36 AM
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  15. Adalia-Durron

    Adalia-Durron WNU Mod - Aussie Rebel At Heart. star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Nice 'behind the scenes of war' piece............
     
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  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    revealing more and more about those imperials
     
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