Of War and Friendship

by DocDelray

Chapter 2: It Begins

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I have watched and played witness for far too long. For what feels like an eternity, I have played unwilling audience to the ever-growing destruction and chaos of the galaxy. Order has become a meaningless term and peace a luxury for those living in ignorance of hardship. But this was not always the case. There was a time long ago when a golden age enveloped all worlds.

During this golden age, the entire galaxy lived as one and prosperity spread like a wildfire from planet to planet. But this time came to a close, as most do. The tendrils of corruption and greed wriggled their way through the golden halls, as those who once served the people now only served themselves. War after war chipped away at the golden age until everything fell apart, and misery took the hearts and minds of the people.

As time pressed on, the chaos only seemed to worsen as forces of both darkness and light clashed, time and time again. Both believing themselves to be on the side of righteousness and justice, their conflicts tore entire worlds asunder and ended countless lives. It has become clear that if nothing is done, this galaxy shall destroy itself.

I have set in motion my plans and machinations. This galaxy shall be put right; it shall be saved. The cost will be high and the losses unimaginable, but nothing changes without something acting upon it. History will remember me as a monster, but I welcome this label. It will be deserved for what will happen, what must happen. For if nothing is done, this galaxy will simply destroy itself in the throes of blind chaos. If you are reading this, I only hope that you will see the good I sought to bring about.

Excerpt taken from broken data-pad
Owner unknown

The empty black of space is split as the YX-1980 transport aptly dubbed The Cheatin’ Whore dropped from hyperspace, it’s hull marred by fresh patches of blaster fire and the tell tale signs of battle damage. Onboard her crew was frantically dealing with keeping the ship’s systems from failing.

At the helm sat Kad Skirata, a tempered human in his late thirties, his dark blue eyes danced over the readouts on his consol as they flashed various warnings at him. His form was clad in Mandalorian armor baring the influences of the old ARC Troopers. Around his waist hung the traditional combat skirt while strapped to his left shoulder was the trademark armored bandolier and pauldron. The plates were tan in color with a dark golden trim. His head was topped with raggedly kempt dirty blond hair that had begun to tint with grey, “Torb, ya’d best have some good news for me.”

Behind him a Chiss in grey and blue armor answered back, “Long range communications are busted, main sensor pack is fried, our hyperspace drive is offline and we’re leaking fuel.” Torb Gieta was an odd sight, especially among Mandalorians considering how rare it was to find a Chiss so far from their own sector of space. His dark blue skin and eerie red eyes with raven black hair was a staple of his people. The right side of his face however was deeply scared from a shrapnel blast, his eye replaced with a robotic one that glowed the same creepy red as his left one. He tapped away at the keys before him quickly going through charts and maps of the area, “The good news dear Captain is that we are still well within Mandalorian controlled space, we just happen to be in an oddly undiscovered location within.”

With a sigh Kad looked over his shoulder at the Chiss, “Thought I asked for some good news.”

“Fine then, perhaps this will make you happy, we aren’t being followed.” Torb quickly replied.

“That comfortin’ thought won’t mean jack if ya don’t find us a place to settle down on.” Kad shot back.

To the left side of Kad sat his brother Kell, who did what he could from the co-pilot chair to keep them on course, “Blue balls, if you do not get us a landing zone soon I will put my damned robo foot up your rear and turn on the hammer function!” Kell’s deep brown eyes glared over his shoulder at the Chiss. Sweat had begun to pour over his shaved head and ebony tinted skin. His armor set him apart from the others, matte black with dark green trim and lightly padded marking him as a scout. The most distinguishing part of this human though was the bulls’ eye etched into the side of his scalp in scar tissue. The second most was the bright pink ribbon tide around his left gauntlet.

“I know you’re gonna say it.” Kad chimed in with.

“You better not be using that evil mind voodoo of yours.” Kell chirped in retort.

“Ya ain’t that hard to read ner’vod, don’t need the Force for that.” Kad replied cheerfully.

“Aight then, we came all the way out here to look into a report about pirates, so why was there a haran frigate waiting for us!?” Kell shot back at him with an air of annoyance in his voice.

“Bad intel.” Torb stated flatly as he continued his work.

“Bad intel usually means a few more guys than we thought there’d be, bad intel means there’s a tank and not a speeder. This wasn’t just bad intel, this was a dropping the frigging ball!” Kell yelled back at the Chiss computer expert.

Kad shook his head and looked to his brother, “Ner’vod we can’t do anything ‘bout that just now, so focus on gettin’ us to the ground without exploding and or if possible without crashin’.” His attention returned to his control panel, “We’ll beat the osik out’a that di’kutla who told us to expect a light enemy presence when we get out’a this mess.”

Kell gave a snort as he rolled his eyes at this last bit, “Oh yeah, IF we get out of this.”

To the rear of the ship sparks showered over a towering figure. His massive body was clad heavily in blood red mandalorian iron. His appearance was reptilian, dark green scales of his flat gaunt face and the ridged brow line marked him as a member of the lost Taung race, the jagged scar down the center of his face marked him as Traycn the clanless. Golden eyes filled with rage as he tried to keep a power coupling from dislodging yet again. A stream of angry curses in Mando’a flowed from his mouth as plated bionic arms hefted into place components that would be otherwise far too heavy for any being to lift.

“We should have forced our way onto their ship and slaughtered every last one of those hut’uun!” The enraged Taung bellowed as he took a welder to another panel.

Behind him a Zabrack with neatly kept horns watched his massive companion work, doing what little he could to help keep things from getting too out of hand. His armor was white with red trim and on his left pauldron was the mark of the medical officer, while his face bore the traditional tribal tattoos of his people, “That’d be great Tray, then I’d have to patch up the ship AND the squad… provided we actually lived long enough to bored the frigate.”

“Hmph, Zex, I had figured you to have more of a stomach for combat.” Traycn chided him.

“Combat I don’t mind, it’s the aftermath that gets on my nerves.” Zex replied as he handed him another power tool.

The ship’s secondary engine wasn’t in any better shape. A lone human did what he could to keep the fire that had over taken the machinery at bay. Fire-extinguisher in hand and clad in light weight purple and white armor this brightly red haired young man worked as hard as he could. Arkanna Kershom was one of the youngest of the crew and newest member of Epsilon squad and newest “recruit” into the pay back system.

With a sigh he waved the smoke out of his face and shook his head in defeat, “Ya know, when they told me I’d be doing my part to repay my debts, I thought I’d be doing simple stuff like police work!” He called out over the sounds of sparking wires to the rest of the ship’s crew.

“Well if you’d prefer rookie, we could always pull over and let you out!” Kell’s voice shot back at him from the cockpit.

The young warrior bit back the urge to yell something back but quickly thought it better not to and instead took up his fight to keep the flames from spreading to the rest of the ship, “Point taken!” He called back over his shoulder.

At the front of the ship Torb continued to work his magic along the keyboard as he shifted through every planet in the system, “Gentlemen, I believe we’re in luck!” The Chiss rang out, “One of the planets in this system is capable of supporting life, oxygen rich atmosphere, lush wild life and vegetation.”

“Sounds like a great place to set up a summer home…” Kad mumbled under his breath, “I see it Torb, bringin’ her in now. I don’t spose there’s a landin’ beacon anywhere on this rock?”

“No such luck.” Torb answered.

“Oh goody a primitive planet.” Kell chimed in with his usual arrogant tone.

“Anyone else find it just a bit odd how deep we are into Mandalorian space and yet this planet ain’t on any maps or charts?” Kad spoke up.

“You worry too much vod,” Kell reassured him with a punch on the arm, “We’ve flown blind into hordes of Sith troopers and worse before. I doubt this rock’ll throw us for any major loops.”

“Still… I gotta bad feelin’ bout this...” Kad flipped on the ship’s intercom, “Aight boys, buckets on an’ strap down, might get a little bumpy.”

The hull of the Cheatin’ Whore was incased in flame as the ship dipped into the atmosphere. Tremors shook the interior of the ship as it started to cut a firry swath through the sky. Flames embraced and kissed the hull of the ship turning its’ exterior into a massive ball of fire that hurtled towards the ground below. With much reluctance the ship began to steady out and fight back against the angry onslaught of gravity. The speed of the falling metal hulk finally cutting to manageable levels, the fire that had all but consumed it finally subsiding as a small clearing within a thick forest came into view, an acceptable spot to put down the ship where it would be out of view.

This did not go unnoticed as the vessel passed over a small hamlet just on the outskirts of the forest. The strange inhabitants were all drawn to the sky by the loud roar of the fireball that tore across the night sky. The fanning flames dying away to reveal something all the stranger, a metal beast that slowly descended into the wilds and out of view.

The Mandalorians of Epsilon squad held their collective breath as the landing gear of the descending transport inched their way to the ground. Above the forest the engines finally sputtered their last breaths and began to only spew out smoke behind them. No longer able to hold themselves aloft the freighter took a sharp downward drop into the waiting woods. As the belly of the ship touched ground a jarring wave passed across the interior of the ship shattering monitors and knocking lose wires galore whilst sending anything not strapped down hurtling about the cabin. The ship was filled the jarring sound of metal scrapping as the vessel slid along the ground to a slow stop.

Sparks showered from busted electronics and shattered view screens. Kad gave the cockpit of the Cheatin’ Whore a quick once over then looked to his companions, “Well, any landin’ ya can walk away from right?”

Some sectors behind them an Ardent class fast frigate sat in the orbit of a pot marked moon. Normally a weapon strictly used by the Fel Empire, this one bore the insignia of a long forgotten chapter in Mandalorian history, the symbol of Deathwatch.

Onboard the ship, the bridge crew scrambled about their tasks as a less than happy looking officer barked his orders at them, “Bring all engines to full, I want that ship’s drive trail found and our vessel on an intercept course immediately!” The man giving the orders was a human in his early thirties. His head of black hair was rimmed by a ring of grey along the lower half. Dark brown eyes glared over his scrambling crewmen, “Find me the gunnery sergeant, I want to know who gave the order to fire on that vessel!” His strong figure was clad in the dark grey and dark blue armor of his compatriots, the insignia on his right shoulder marked him as First Lieutenant Shariad Feltan.

Over Feltan’s shoulder the double doors of the main lift opened, through them stepped a tall thin man clad war weathered armor. His thin gaunt face spoke of an air of sophistication and education from what looked to be forty plus years of life, his ice blue eyes told of a very cold and analytical mind. His blonde hair was showing the clear signs of his age, dotted with silver hairs and the clear signs of aging, it was kept slicked back and in neat order. Over his right shoulder hung a caplet baring the Death Watch symbol embroidered upon it, Davian Teth, Commanding Officer and captain of this frigate, “Lieutenant, report!” His voice cut through the confusion of the bridge like a knife causing the staff to snap to attention and salute his presence.

Feltan quickly snapped into a crisp salute as he took several steps away from the command post, “Sir, an unknown vessel transmitting a Mandalorian military IFF appeared out of hyperspace. The gunnery crew opened fire claiming to have been given the order. The vessel while wounded, managed to escape us.” Feltan remained at attention as fear ran up and down his spine.

Teth’s eyes bore holes into his second in command as he gave the report, “Go through the ship’s logs and find the fool who fired the first shot, I want him executed for his incompetence. As for the ship, was it able to get off any kind of communications?”

“No sir,” Feltan quickly answered, “We managed to hit their main com dish before they escaped as well as causing heavy damage to their engines they could not have gotten far.”

“Find that ship and destroy it. I and my colleagues did not spend billions in credits rebuilding the legacy of our fore fathers just to have it crumble to dust before our return to the galaxy.” Teth waved off his Lieutenant to set him on his tasks as he looked out over the bridge.

His mind mused on the inglorious end of the Deathwatch centuries ago just barely a year after the famed battle of Yavin. How they had been all but wiped out by a band of spacers under orders from the former Empire. A small smile tugged at the edges of his mouth as he mused on how powerful an idea truly was and how the still weakened and war torn galaxy was in for quite the shock at the return of the Deathwatch.

Next Chapter: A lay of the land Estimated time remaining: 9 Hours, 42 Minutes
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