The Kings In Yellow

With Korriban, the ancient home world of the Sith, destroyed, the Sith Order have retreated to the sanctuary of the frozen realm of Zoist.
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Emic Lai
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The Kings In Yellow

Post by Emic Lai » Mon May 13, 2019 11:05 pm

The clank of durasteel on concrete introduced Emic to the landing pad of the estate of the Sith Lord Pharsalus on the planet Pygorix. Emic fondly remembered conquering this world in Lord Vesper’s campaign over a year ago, when she slaughtered the pitiful native and Imperial resistance. She was summoned by Lord Pharsalus for a special job. It was good to be back in the saddle after a lengthy vacation; all of her credits exhausted to pay for strong liquor and ammo.

The palace was staffed by people in long, violet robes who stood silently at their posts, never speaking, at least in front of Emic, as she approached the courtyard. She briefly took in her surroundings. The planet was mostly covered in jungle and the estate was little different. It seemed Lord Pharsalus had quite an affinity for his gardens. She noticed several of the estate staff pruning small trees that lined the walkway to the courtyard from the landing pads. The estate was walled with durasteel and the buildings, while heavily decorated with banners of red and black, were much the same underneath.

As she approached the courtyard, she noticed a large uneti tree at its center, surrounded by various diplomats and military personnel. She took note of the uniforms of the army officers. So much black and red. The Sith sure loved their color schemes.

The Iridonian garnered many glances from the diplomats and military alike, all supposedly wondering why a refined Sith Lord such as Pharsalus was employing such scum. All it could do was make Emic smile underneath the visor of her helmet.

She passed through the hallways up to Lord Pharsalus’s chambers, where she entered despite the protests of a Twi’lek secretary. She saw two figures, one draped in the elegant violet robes of Lord Pharsalus, and the other dressed in the garb of a Sith warrior. Presumably some sort of apprentice.

As Emic removed her helmet, revealing the black and red of her own skin, she was met with the glow of a crimson lightsaber in her eyes. She could barely see as she was reprimanded for entering unannounced. Lord Pharsalus’s voice, however, chimed in shortly after.

“Hazred, you are dismissed. I would suggest you not anger my esteemed guest. She is more dangerous than your inflated head would notice.”

The warrior withdrew his weapon and bowed. “Yes, Master.” He then departed.
Lord Pharsalus stood, several heads taller than Emic, draped in a purple robe, collar raised, and an ornate mask covering his face. It was more or less how she remembered him after the few times they had interacted before.

“Mistress Lai,” the Sith began. “It has been too long.”

Emic rolled her eyes. Creepy old man. “What is it you want, Pharsalus?”

“I see you’re eager,” Pharsalus continued. “See, I am interested in sponsoring the creation of a task force within the Sith military. Special operations and the suchlike. Able to deploy anywhere, anytime. Classic, really.”

Emic narrowed her eyes. “And me?”

“I want to put you in charge of it.”

That took Emic by surprise. Typically she works alone, but she had quite a bit of experience in military operations, especially spec ops. She’d have to get more info. Fortunately, Pharsalus continued.

“I will pay you a hefty sum, larger than some Sith Lords are paid, and cover the costs of training and outfitting recruits. In return, you will report to me. Not the Sith military command, not the Dark Lord, me.”

An intriguing offer, for sure. Good pay is always a bonus, and the Sith are known for liking their killing done bloody. She was certain she could manage this endeavor. “I believe I could do this for you, Pharsalus. I want armor and weapons, made to my exact specifications, and a training location with all the fixings.”

“It will be done,” Pharsalus replied, nodding. “My liaison will handle it.”

Emic raised an eyebrow. “Liaison?”

“Of course,” the Sith chuckled. “Why would I allow you to work completely independently without supervision?”

Emic scoffed. “Whatever.” Pharsalus summoned his liaison from outside of his chambers. A Rattataki woman, clad in a Sith officer uniform, pristine and well-maintained.

The woman smiled as she spoke. “Lieutenant Luce Dunwich. A pleasure.”

Pharsalus quickly dismissed them both; after all, there was work to be done.

Emic spoke first as she exited the chambers and approached the courtyard. “You’re cheery, Luce.”

“Of course, ma’am,” the lieutenant responded, subtly directing Emic toward the landing pad as they conversed. “I heard many good things about you when I was training as an officer on Vjun. You were the most fearsome soldier in Lord Vesper’s campaign in the Gordian Reach. I hear you took on a whole Imperial stormtrooper platoon with just your bare hands.”

“Two platoons…” Emic muttered as the two entered the landing pad. She saw a very familiar vehicle settled into one of the pads. A modified Aggressor assault fighter that had seen many battles.

“Ah, yes,” Lieutenant Dunwich noted, a sound of pride in her voice. “This is the first asset we have acquired for Task Force Aurek-115. I understand you know this vessel well.”

Emic remained silent as she gazed upon the ship. Luce continued. “The Core Predator. A fine boat. It was assigned to Lord Pharsalus after the reintegration of Lord Vesper’s kingdom. Crewed with the finest droid pilots and fitted to be a mobile command station. Hope it suits you, ma’am.”

The Zabrak set her eyes forward. “I want big guns: blaster cannons, slugthrowers, the works--”

Lieutenant Dunwich interrupted. “Should I be taking notes, ma’am?”

Emic stared the Rattataki down. The lieutenant did not lose her diligent smile. “Don’t call me ma’am,” said the Zabrak.

“Then what should I call you?”

Emic turned around again, looking once again at the Core Predator.

“Chief.”
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Re: The Kings In Yellow

Post by Emic Lai » Tue May 14, 2019 7:13 pm

The interior of the Core Predator was not, however, as Emic remembered it.

The refitted quarters were situated in what used to be the cargo bay. The captain’s quarters were mostly the same, although they tore out the carpet. That was okay, though. There were wine stains all over it.

The cockpit and gunner bay were both staffed by droids. They would do for now, until they recruited a better pilot. She sighed and was a little concerned by the small size of the ship. How big did Pharsalus want this unit to be? At best this was a decent starter.

“Greetings, madam,” the pilot droid addressed Emic. “What is your destination?”

Emic ignored the droid for a brief moment to ask Lieutenant Dunwich a question. “Do you know where Colonel Forn Ballast is stationed?”

“Yes, Chief,” replied the Rattataki. “He’s on Ziost. I believe it’s General Ballast now. You know him?”

“Yeah,” Emic affirmed, looking back at the pilot droid. “Take us to Ziost.”

The droid responded in its robotic voice. “Right away, madam.” The ship, which had found its way into orbit, calculated its hyperspace trajectory and blasted away into the depths of space.

Hyperspace travel can take quite a long time, and there’s a lot of silence. Emic relaxed in the cockpit while Lieutenant Dunwich read quietly on her datapad. The Iridonian decided to speak first. “So, Luce. Why did you leave Rattatak?”

“Hm?” the officer replied softly. “Oh, I was taken offworld as a newborn. I was raised in Sith space by human parents.”

Emic nodded and returned to silence, taking out her slug pistol and taking it apart to clean it. Luce returned diligently to her reading. Emic wondered what she could be reading so intently, but she wasn’t the type to be social if there wasn’t anything in it for her.

“You?”

Emic continued to clean her weapon. A very dangerous Iridonian model slugthrower, especially in her hands. “Me what?”

“Why did you leave Iridonia, Chief?” Luce said, looking at the Zabrak with genuine curiosity.

Emic snorted and rolled her eyes. A ridiculous question. “You gonna give all my info to Pharsalus?”

“Between you and me, the old man can sit in his office in rot for all I care,” Lieutenant Dunwich answered. “I’m not going to give him any more information than I have to so he won’t get suspicious. This is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to work independently of his prying eyes.”

Emic was pleasantly surprised. She leaned back in her chair and prepared to tell the story.

“Well, I was a young woman when I left. And, long story short, I did what most other Iridonians were doing at the time. There wasn’t a lot of war going on back home so a killer like me didn’t have any work. So I set out on my own as a mercenary.”

“How’d you end up with Lord Vesper?” Luce inquired. Emic thought this girl asked too many questions. But somehow she felt compelled to answer.

“I saw an open posting for someone willing to clear out some Yuuzhan Vong on Vjun. I accepted the contract, went in by myself and slaughtered all of them,” Emic explained, reminiscing how great it was to see her slug rounds pierce the deformed skulls of those extragalactic abominations. “Vesper selected me to take his troops on an assault on the main Vong stronghold. I led them to victory. He wanted me at his side after that.”

Luce thought briefly about continuing her inquiry, but she decided it was unwise. While Emic Lai was an incredibly violent and-- admittedly scary individual, Lieutenant Dunwich was rather more concerned about making a poor first impression. At least she hadn’t been killed yet.

It was not a short time before they arrived on Ziost, but the two passengers were well-rested and arrived during the planetary sunrise. The Zabrak and the Rattataki disembark from the Trilon Aggressor patrol craft and make their way through the streets of the capital settlement. The Iridonian had sealed her helmet over her head to regulate her temperature, while the lieutenant had put on her winter uniform, complete with a large knee-length coat.

The majority of the city was still in construction. The attack on Korriban that led the Sith to resettle Ziost was a recent development--within the last six years-- but not something that the average galactice Joe would know about. Vesper had told Emic about it during an operation in that area of space. The capital sure seemed to be coming along though, as the Citadel at the center of the city was already towering over the landscape, despite being incomplete.

Emic took note of the workers. The majority of them were slaves, but a big amount were also Sith military. It seems resources were fairly short, or that the leadership wanted the construction done in a hurry. She stopped two infantry men flying a speeder loaded with cargo before they departed.

“I’m looking for Forn Ballast,” Emic said. “Where can I find him?”
One Sith trooper responded quickly, directing a gloved hand at the grand tower at the center. “General Ballast is in the Citadel, floor three, ma’am,” he spoke, quickly. “He’s got the big office, can’t miss it.”

Emic continued towards the Citadel without another word, and the troopers pulled away on their speeder out towards the city.

While the capital was still in construction, the walk took close to an hour to arrive at the base of the Citadel. The guards at the entrance inquired about the pair’s business and Lieutenant Dunwich flashed her credentials and said she had business on behalf of Lord Pharsalus. Emic and the lieutenant took the lift to the third floor and located the office of General Ballast.

“Your business, ma’am?” the secretary inquired.

“Need to speak with General Ballast on private business of Sith Lord Pharsalus,” Emic replied.

“Gladly,” the secretary said, typing away on her console, examining the schedule. “He can see you in three hours.”

Emic ignored the rest of the statement as she entered the office, despite the protests of the secretary. She entered to find a portly man wearing an adorned Sith officer uniform, looking incredibly stressed out and drinking a glass of Corellian whiskey.

“Didn’t clock you as an alcoholic, General,” Emic introduced herself, taking a seat in the visitor’s chair across from the desk.

“What is the meaning of--” General Ballast began to shout, before stopping himself as he saw who was present before him. “Oh. Ms. Lai.”

“The one and only,” the Zabrak responded, kicking her feet up on General Ballast’s pristine desk. “You’re looking under the weather.”

“I landed a promotion, and what do the Sith have me do?” Ballast lamented. “Oversee a bunch of grunts putting their swords into plowshares building a city! I have no experience in this!”

“Well, let me give you an opportunity to lighten your load, General. I’m building a secret military unit for Lord Pharsalus. I need recruits.”

“Recruits? Do you know what you’re asking?”

“I know quite well. It never hurts to have a Sith owe you a favor.”
General Ballast fidgeted as he figured out his answer. “I respect Lord Pharsalus a great deal for his tactics in the Gordian Reach. Okay. I’ll help you.”

“I’ll remember that, General.”

“Captain Slag Moore and his platoon. They served with us in the Reach. I can mark them AWOL and send them to you.”

“Much obliged, General. We’ll transmit the coordinates for the training ground to you as soon as we can.” Emic saluted snarkily as she removed her feet and made her exit. “And do take care to remain silent about this matter.”

As the Chief and the lieutenant made their way back to the ship, Dunwich spoke up, in a hushed tone. “Chief, Lord Pharsalus has directed us to a secret training camp on the Onderonian moon of Dxun. Shall we head there next?”

“Transmit the coordinates to General Ballast along with some hush money. He’s an old acquaintance but we can risk him spilling to the Sith.”

“Understood.”

“Dxun, here we come.”
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Re: The Kings In Yellow

Post by Emic Lai » Wed May 22, 2019 11:39 pm

The troop transport that was provided for the new recruits set itself down in the clearing at the training camp. The platoon of Captain Moore had been given false credentials sending them on a clandestine task on Dxun.

Lieutenant Dunwich was waiting as the fifteen-piece platoon disembarked the shuttle. The starship quickly departed once more.

“Greetings, ladies and gentlemen,” the lieutenant began. “I am Lieutenant Luce Dunwich, liaison to Lord Pharsalus. Please follow me to the assembly grounds.”

Through the jungle path they went, hearing the distant roars of dangerous animals in the surrounding biome. Dense foliage blocked the sun from the walkway, giving the color of night over the path. Luce somehow managed to keep her uniform pristine and free of moisture despite the humid climate.

As they entered the training complex’s clearing, the lieutenant bid the platoon to fall in and await the arrival of Emic.

Soon, the Zabrak emerged from the command tent clad in a Sith officer’s uniform, bearing two cords across the lapel: one black, one yellow. She adjusted her cap and approached the newly-arrived unit.

“Welcome to Dxun, troops,” Emic began. “My name is Emic Lai, and I am the chief of Task Force Aurek-115.”

One soldier spoke up with a chuckle. “You sure you aren’t the serving girl?” he laughed.

Emic smiled gently and approached the outspoken grunt. She looked him up and down before staring him in the eyes, the soldier’s smirk growing ever wider as their eye contact continued.

In an instant, Emic had the man’s severed jaw in her fist, covering her black gloves in quickly-coagulating blood. The grunt began screaming bloody murder as his comrades stared forward in shame. Emic pushed the man to his knees and pressed her gloved hand into his gaping maw, as the man choked and gagged between squeals of agony. Once she had her arm down the man’s throat, almost to the shoulder, she began the return trip, blood bubbling up from between her sleeve and the man’s top lip.Out of the unfortunate soldier’s gullet came his own esophagus, twitching and squirming as Emic severed it with her field knife. The arterial spray began to drizzle upon the two adjacent troopers who didn’t dare to flinch.

Emic then wrapped the doomed soldier, whose screams had now been reduced to a pathetic gurgling, around the neck with his own viscera, tying it in a perfect knot and stepping calmly away.

As the man fought to remain alive with the pitiful sound of choking and blood pooling out of his nose and eye sockets, Emic addressed the remaining soldiers with a grin, coated in several liters of blood. “Any other comedians?”

The only thing that could be heard was the last attempts at breath from the dying trooper.

“Good. We have to work to do.”

Emic began. “Forget everything the military taught you. Strategy has its place, but what really matters is your ability to survive, and kill anything that gets in between you and victory. You will learn to be bloodthirsty, merciless, and efficient. But you must first learn determination. Lieutenant, if you would please.”

Lieutenant Dunwich walked down the line, stepping over the large puddle of blood, blindfolding the troops and removing their sidearms.

“We’re taking your guns. We’ll outfit you with better ones. But first, we have a little exercise for you,” Emic explained, before loading the troops up on a shuttle and departed for the deep jungle. She called up a random soldier and led him to the cargo ramp, opening it up as the shuttle hovered two meters from the ground. “Find your way back to camp!” she said, pushing the soldier from the open door. “Have a nice trip!”

This process repeated until the passenger bay was empty, and Lieutenant Dunwich and Emic returned to camp, going over the personnel files that they were sent on Captain Moore’s platoon.

“Let’s see… Specialist Karlisle, tech specialist,” Luce said, reading from a datapad. “Was able to slice a bunker’s autoturret system to eliminate the soldiers inside. She could prove useful.”

“We’ll see if she gets back,” the Chief responded, chewing on the inside of her cheek, reading her own pad. “A sniper, heavy weapons… the captain seems to know more than a few alien languages.”

“How many do you think will make it back to camp?” Luce asked.

Emic shrugged nonchalantly. “Could be twelve. Could be three. Could be zero.”

It was two days later, in the evening when the first recruit returned from the jungle. She found her way to the center of camp where Emic and Lieutenant Dunwich were sitting. “Specialist Karlisle, reporting, ma’am.”

“Specialist Karlisle, we were talking about you. Sounds like you’re a bit of a slicer.”
“Yes, ma’am, that’s my specialty.”

“Apparently, you’re pretty good at surviving in the jungle too. Congrats, you are the first one back. Go get some food and rest.”

“Much obliged, ma’am,” Specialist Karlisle said, saluting, and departing to feed herself.”

Another soldier arrived the next morning as Emic was leaving her tent with a cup of morning caf, not even wearing her new uniform yet. The soldier approached her and stood at attention, slightly trembling as Emic closed the distance. “Corporal Jaz Verigan, ma’am, reporting from assignment. I would also like to report the death of Private Erid. Likely ate some poisonous plant.”

Emic tilted her head in curiosity. “And how would you know this?”

“Medical training, ma’am,” the trooper replied. “He was stiff as a board when I found him, though his body had likely been there since a few hours after he was dropped in.”

“You didn’t have medical training on your file,” Emic replied.

“Between you and me, ma’am,” the soldier said, still not making eye contact. “It was under a Sith Lord. Examining victims of torture. His victims. But I cleared psych eval when I joined the army.”

“Don’t sweat psych evals, Corporal. You won’t need them here,” Emic reassured the trooper. “Specialist Karlisle is in the mess tent. Have yourself some grub.”

The trooper saluted and took his leave without another word.

Ten more troops trickled in over the next few days. The last one arrived with a total time in the wild of six days, fifteen hours, and thirty-three minutes. Emic called the end of the trial after this arrival.

“I have to say, troopers, I am impressed,” Emic addressed the formation. “Twelve out of fourteen survived the trial. It only gets tougher from here. Captain Moore, step forward.” The captain obliged and took a single step out of formation. “You are hereby stripped of your rank and given the rank of operator. The rest of you are now known as junior operator.” She removed her weapon from the holster and examined it threateningly. “And you will address me as ‘Chief’. If I hear ‘ma’am’ one more time, someone’s gonna die.”

“Dismissed. Meet back here at local sunset.”
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Re: The Kings In Yellow

Post by Emic Lai » Thu May 23, 2019 4:13 am

Two months had passed since the arrival of the recruits on Dxun, filled with commando training, live-fire exercises, and excursions into the jungle to take down hostile wildlife. Two troopers met their deaths during this training, buried, forgotten in unmarked graves on the unforgiving jungle moon. And today was the final test. The recruit group would assault a fortress constructed in the deep jungle by Emic and a dozen workers she had shipped from Pygorix, designed to be a deadly and unforgiving gauntlet.

The fortification would test all their abilities, from approaching stealthily, to slicing terminals, to straight-up gunfights. Emic told them where the fort was, and departed on a shuttle to observe from above and from head-mounted sensors on the troopers themselves.

The soldiers had shortened “operator” to “op” in common parlance, and “junior operator” to “j-op”. They had been outfitted with their full operation gear, including body armor, tactical helmets, jungle-colored camouflage decal, and precision blaster rifles.

Operator Slag Moore, the commander of the unit, rounded up his troops and gave them a quick briefing. The main point of the talk was that “we’re going in blind.”

The squad checked their weapons, fastened their armor straps, and made their way through the jungle to the fort, eyes ever darting across the trees, looking out for predators. They were mostly safe in their numbers and arrived at the perimeter of their target.

Moore spoke over comms to his unit. “Spread out in teams of two. We’ll hit the place from all sides at once, on my order. Stay low, j-ops. Karlisle, you’re with me.” The commandos spread out around the treeline, moving quickly and quietly to avoid the sensors of the battle droids that Emic was guarding the place with.

The commander was casing his side of the fort with electrobinoculars, examining the positions of the droids. One droid was much closer than the others, and he decided to make his move. “Alright, j-op. Do you know where the comms are on that droid?”

“If I hit the base of the antenna, it should disable them,” the trooper replied.

“When he comes over here, do that, then disable it. But don’t mess with the memory core, I want to try and get a map of this place,” Moore ordered, grabbing a small stick and smacking it against a nearby tree trunk. The droid did exactly as he was hoping and moved to investigate. The two dropped flat to the ground and allowed the droid to pass in between them. Karlisle silently reached up from the ground and stabbed the bot quickly in the comms array before disabling it.

The j-op then plugged her datapad into the droid’s memory and began to slice it. It took her several risky minutes, but the rigorously-trained commandos managed to go undetected for the entire time. She managed to download a rudimentary map of the fortress from the droid’s databanks, before uploading it to the visors of her comrades.

“Alright, squad,” Moore commed to his troops. “Confirm receipt of the target map.” After all confirmed they had received it, Moore continued. “Two entrances, on opposite sides. Breach and clear the first floor, then rendezvous at the stairs in the center. Unknown number of droids inside. Relay number of droids in your line of sight.”

After receiving responses from all fireteams, Moore gave a total. “Total of ten droids outside, plus-minus two droids. Dispatch quickly and quietly, then stack up at the nearest entrance. Move.”

The commander and the junior operator made their way up to the treeline, waiting for the remaining droid to turn around before leaping from the underbrush and taking it out.

There were no shots fired, meaning the initial clear was a success. Two fireteams joined Operator Moore at his entrance and the other two at the opposite. A j-op commed in to the commander: “Op, we have fewer at our entrance, please advise.”

“Intentional, j-op,” Moore responded. “Larger rooms on our side means heavier resistance is likely. No more questions. Weapons hot. Plant breaching charges.” Several seconds passed and the other team reported that their charges were set.

“On my go. Three. Two. One. Go.”

The explosions blended into one and the fireteams charged into their target entrances, with several seconds of ensuing blaster fire indicating that no enemy shots were fired. It seemed to be going perfectly well, but the Chief was devious.

The troopers cleared one room, then another, splitting up as needed to clear as many rooms as possible within a short time. They came across a sealed room as they mopped up the rest of the droids and stacked up at the stairs.

“Karlisle, work on getting that door open, everyone else, on me.” The commandos positioned themselves halfway up the stairs as Karlisle began slicing the door.

“Fan out! Go!” Moore called and the squad leapt up the stairs and began to fire on the droids upstairs. The enemy had time to prepare however, and many troopers were quickly pinned down. “Use grenades!” Moore commanded, grabbing a fragmentation grenade and tossing it over his cover at a group of droids, waiting for it to blow before peeking above and finishing off the remaining droids. He commed into Karlisle before rushing to the corner and taking cover there. “Karlisle, how is that door coming?”

“Just got it, op! It’s clear. Of everything.”

Moore narrowed his eyes. An empty room was quite suspect. “Acknowledged, get up here and help us clear this floor.”

Karlisle quickly ascended the stairs and fell into cover with the rest of her squad. As the droids were being thinned out, Moore regrouped with a few troopers by the stairs. Moore was looking over his squad as he saw a warping in the air behind a commando, for just a brief second before the trooper’s neck exploded in a spray of blood, impaled by an unseen blade. Moore fired directly next to the commando’s head and made contact. A droid appeared from nowhere and clanked to the floor.

“Stealth units!” he shouted into comms. “Switch to ultrasound optics!” Moore and all his units flipped a switch on their helmets and readied to fight an unseen foe. Even with the enhanced optics, the stealth units were difficult to see, with many close calls salvaged by aware commandos looking out for their comrades.

After nearly one minute without gunfire, Moore ordered his troops to fan out and search for more stealth units. But after about thirty seconds, trees could be heard cracking and collapsing, before a massive explosion hit the fort.

“Who’s got eyes?” Moore commed to his troops.

“Hovertank coming in from the south!” replied a j-op.

“Get a rocket on it!” the commander replied before organizing his troops into hard cover.

Junior Operator Acre took a position at a window, but after a second shell hit the fortress, collapsing a portion of the south wall, Moore grew impatient. “Where’s that kriffing rocket?” he shouted.

Acre responded calmly. “Targeting is malfunctioning. I’m switching to dumb-fire.” The trooper aimed down the sight as the barrel of the tank turned to his position. Time was running out, but he only had one shot. He pressed the trigger and the rocket slammed into the weak spot directly below the turret, igniting the round in the chamber and detonating the entire tank.

“That’s how it’s done, j-op,” Moore congratulated the soldier. “Take positions around the ground floor and report mission success.”

Karlisle responded. “No good sir, the exercise computer is saying there’s still active enemies.”

“I see it,” responded Junior Operator Verigan, before shooting an incapacitated, but still active, droid. Karlisle confirmed that the exercise computer allowed them to complete the exercise.

The shuttle that was hovering above the fort descended to the ground. Emic, accompanied by Lieutenant Dunwich, exited from the cargo ramp. “Total time,” she announced. “Two hours, forty-four minutes and 17 seconds. I admit, I am stunned. You maggots are actually a fighting force. Spectacular.”

The weary soldiers loaded up on the shuttle, taking with them their deceased comrade. He was quickly buried as Emic began to close the training.

“Ladies and gentlemen, for the last two months you were run through the ringer, and I have been routinely impressed by your abilities,” Emic started. “You were tossed into the fire and emerged cold and efficient killers!”

“Operator Moore, you are hereby promoted to Senior Operator, and I’m placing you in charge of training for future classes of recruits.” Emic paused for brief applause. “I know you will do well. Junior Operators Karlisle and Verigan, you are hereby promoted to Specialist, and the rest of you have earned the rank of Operator. We will report our success to Lord Pharsalus and deploy within the month.”

“If you will take notice, I have procured you some new uniforms as well,” Emic explained, gesturing to a table stacked with non-combat uniforms for the troops: each stack topped off with a crisp bomber jacket, colored black and yellow.

“While our true work has only begun, let us drink tonight to our fallen kings, for in our efforts we have become the kings of Dxun!”

“The Kings-- In Yellow!”
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