Facebook  Tweet  Youtube  Discord

  Rogue Squadron  Buccaneer Squadron  Corsair Squadron   Spectre Squadron   Sabre Squadron           Theatre  Library

Darkness Rising

By: Bulldog

Word Count: 4092

Cargen could barely hear the roaring of the engines of the dropship over the frenzied thumping of his heart. As it dipped and swerved on the choppy wind, a few troopers behind him with green-tinged faces lurched over and began vomiting, filling the interior with a sickly new scent to intermingle with the stink of sweat and fear.

"Clear the ramp," the crew chief of the ship called out from the bridge. "Thirty seconds!"

The Devaronian Captain nodded and cleared his throat from the back of the craft. "Port side stick, starboard side stick— move fast and clear those murderholes!"

A Duros sergeant that Cargen had met once before this hop was walking down the middle of the aisle, steadying himself with his hands as the landing craft bucked and dipped as it hurtled toward the landing zone deep within the unnatural cave the Imperials on this planet had decided to make their base in. "I want plenty of feet between men," he said, holding up his fingers. "Five men is a juicy opportunity. One man's a waste of ammo!" He jabbed Cargen with his finger to hammer his point home.

"Keep the dirt out of your weapons. Keep those actions clear, and I'll see you on the ground!"

The ship shuddered as an explosion nearby caused the little amount of courage inside of Cargen to disappear. While there weren't any windows, he was sure that either a flak cannon just scorched their paint job, or a nearby lander was just wiped off the map.

He wasn't sure how many ships were included in this first wave, but the scuttlebutt on the ship was that this base was nigh impenetrable from any approach other than this suicidal frontal assault. So what did Command decide to do? Suicidal frontal assault. While he understood that the cave made naval bombardment and starfighter cover ineffective, he still didn't like the plan.

Another explosion from farther off caused the ship to dive sharply before leveling out again, giving all inside a small amount of airtime. He hoped there were enough of them left after these losses to take the objective. He also hoped his ship actually managed to reach the landing zone so he had a fighting chance, rather than dying in a crash.

There was another blast, and the sound of rending metal, quickly followed by a blast of cold wind right into Cargen's facial flaps. As he opened his eyes, the corner of the lander's door was completely missing, giving him a view of the darkness outside, constantly being lit up by the insane amount of blasts heading in their direction. He wished he hadn't opened his eyes.

The Rodian at the front of the other stick looked at him and gulped visibly. Almost as an afterthought, he brought up some sort of pendant and kissed it.

Before Cargen could even think about the religious habits of his warren-clan, a warbling tone carried over the interior speakers.

"Triakk protect me," he whispered as the door whooshed open.

"Clear the murderhole!" Somebody shouted from the back, barely audible above the immediate roaring of blasterfire pouring energy into the now-open doorway.

Cargen dove forward, feeling the heat of an E-web blast inches above his head. He didn't spare a glance back, but was sure that the bolt that narrowly missed him skewered the troopers behind him. He rolled to the side to avoid being trampled by any others that surged out behind him.

The sounds of battle raged around him as he crawled forward with his belly on the rock hard surface of the cave floor. Explosions erupted all over as more of his brethren were flung into the air, screaming what little air they had left in their lungs before they ceased working. Unending lines of blaster bolts stitched the area around him, skewering troopers where they stood. Rockets launched from afar by Imperial RPS-6 launchers blasted parts of dropships off and disintegrated troopers that suffered direct hits.

Cargen reached a small divot in the cave floor, affording him just enough protection to finally attempt to catch his breath and get his bearings. As he looked around, bodies were falling wherever his eyes went. Men screamed and cursed. An unlucky rocket found its way into the doorway of a dropship just as it had opened, and the ensuing explosion sent a spray of flame and viscera out instead of whole troopers ready to fight. More explosions boomed nearby as Imperial MPL-57's rained a mixture of thermal, sonic, and fragmentation grenades in their midst. The top half of a Twi'lek landed across his legs, the man's lifeless eyes staring into his.

Cargen screeched in revulsion and shoved the half corpse off of himself and scurried out of his temporary shelter. His Sullustan eyes were well adjusted to the dark, an evolutionary gift of his species fine-tuned by his time in the mines. This gift betrayed him this time, however, as the barbaric nature of warfare was crystal clear to him. As he glanced about frantically, he spotted something that made no sense to his far from rational mind.

A trooper was standing straight up in the middle of the clearing, missing half of his arm. Troopers all around him were moving into the teeth of Imperial fire, but this one trooper was just shuffling about, looking around the ground at his feet. He bent over, but stood straight up again as more troopers fell around him as an E-web unleashed a torrent of fire and cut men down like a scythe.

The man bent down again, this time when he arose he held the lower half of his missing arm. Nodding to himself, the trooper surged forward with the wave of troops charging deeper into the cave, holding his forearm like a gun.

Cargen shook his head in disbelief, but then he realized that running directly toward the nest of bunkers spitting out death toward him was also crazy. He moved forward, seeking out his next bit of cover. Some sort of obstacle consisting of rock and scrap metal drew his eye, ostensibly meant to stop any dropships from coming this deep into the cavernous opening of the complex. While it and the many others like it served their purpose, it provided the frenzied New Republic attack force with ample cover to gain respite amidst the hellfire they were charging into.

This particular obstacle was quite popular, with a large group of troopers huddled behind it. Cargen scampered forth, placing himself under the little remaining cover he could find. To his right, one of the troopers grunted in pain as a series of bolts stitched his body from groin to neck.

All of the troopers squeezed in together tighter to avoid suffering the same fate. Explosions rocked the area around and in front of their cover, but luckily no blast managed to go off in their midst where they were all packed so tightly together. The sergeant from Cargen's dropship managed to arrive, and immediately started shoving and pulling people forward. "All right you guys, get on my shebs and follow me!"

Cargen gulped down another breath to calm his nerves, and then he was up and on his feet again. Men began falling all around him again as the withering fire the E-webs were laying down was augmented by the DL-19 Heavy Blasters and T-21 Light Repeaters. What had already been a pretty steady stream of death was now a flood with the added weapons emplacements with the shorter ranges.

Up ahead, two troopers fell forward as they were targeted by an emplacement. The Mon Cal was on his back, his flippered hands attempting to hold in his smoldering guts with little success. The already bulging eyes were pushing even more out of their sockets as the young trooper called for his mother in pain. The other trooper was a Xexto lieutenant, his two lower hands gripping a lower abdomen wound tightly. His eyes were also bulging, but his two other arms were still returning fire with his blaster.

Cargen sprinted to the latter trooper, assuming the Mon Cal was too far gone to help. "Loot! Where you hit?"

"Get me out of here! I'm hit low!" The Xexto snarled, pulling one bloody hand away from the wound.

Cargen rolled him over slightly and saw that the burn was severe enough to boil the skin of the lieutenant's lower back. "Medic! Medic!" he cried out. He dragged the officer back to his previous cover to gather his thoughts.

Another trooper showed up with a satchel charge. "Navy demolitions battalion! I've gotta clear these obstacles... make way for the tanks!"

Cargen snorted in disbelief. He waved back toward their entry point. "All of the armor is smoldering in the LZ!"

"Orders!" The trooper replied, waving his hand holding the explosives bundle, and then pointing at the current obstruction. "You go somewhere else. I'm clearing this one!"

Cargen thought for a moment and was beginning to argue, but the trooper set the charge down and was priming the explosive. He looked back toward the wound on the lieutenant and felt momentarily helpless. Realizing that his paltry field kit wouldn't be enough to render proper aid, he gripped the shoulder harness with his free hand. "Come on, Loot!" he growled as he struggled to drag the officer forward toward a better piece of cover where a medic, if any had survived this far into the assault, could take care of the wound.

The going was extremely slow due to the gangly nature of the alien trooper. To the officer's credit, he continued to fight with his other two arms. Cargen wished he wouldn't, though, as he was making them both a brightly lit target in the dim atmosphere. "Medic! Medic!"

Explosions began bursting all around them as the Imperial grenadiers were adjusting their fire from the beacon of light that was the lieutenant's blaster carbine. Heat washed across Cargen's cheek from a nearby thermal imploder, and the wind was sucked from his lungs. Another eruption rocked the ground beneath his feet, and his knees buckled as he toppled forward.

Shrugging the rubble from his back and shaking his head clear, he got to his knees quickly and reached back for the lieutenant's shoulder strap, and gripped it tightly as he got back to his feet. The going was easier this time, which he chalked up to adrenaline from the near miss. His desired piece of cover was just up ahead, and he was making good time across the open.

Another trooper pitched over in front of Cargen, tripping him up. He got up and looked back to grab the lieutenant, but stopped the moment his eyes fell upon the wreck of a Xexto he'd been dragging the last few meters. Only the upper two arms and torso remained, and the long neck had bent backwards underneath the lifeless remains.

Cargen squealed in revulsion and shoved the corpse off of his legs, and quickly scrambled to his feet. He joined the impossibly large number of troops surging forward, shocked at how many living comrades had made it through the withering gauntlet thus far. Bodies continued to fall as they were hit; pitching backward if they were hit high or in the head, forward if they were hit in the gut or lower, or spinning to either side if they took the blow to the shoulder or arm.

Another explosion sent fragments of the rock floor into the air, showering him in dusty debris. He blinked rapidly to clear his massive eyes just in time to see another trooper get obliterated in front of him by a massive blast from something that had to be artillery or starship grade weaponry. He dove down into a newly formed divot and covered his head as more of the high-pitched whines of that mystery weapon sounded off.

"What is that thing?!"

"There! Heavy trooper in the open with... what?"

Cargen lifted his eyes cautiously above the lip of his crater, flinching as blasterfire stuttered across the ground nearby. Through the din, he managed to squint enough to zero in on the source of those massive blasts capable of incinerating a man whole. It was a stormtrooper with a heavy harness. Attached to that harness was a Reciprocating Quad Blaster cannon. While it made the trooper quite a target, he certainly was capable of laying down a devastating amount of fire from his chest-mounted starship weapon.

A group of troopers up ahead rose in unison to assault the lone Imperial, but the attack was halted just as suddenly as it had started as a thermal detonator erupted in their midst. All were vaporized instantly without even a chance to feel pain. As good a blessing as could be asked for in death here in Cargen's opinion.

Cargen whimpered, realizing he was the most forward trooper at this point. He wasn't exposed and likely hadn't been spotted yet, but it was only a matter of time until he needed to move, either retreat if the attack was unsuccessful or move forward with the next surge of men. He hunkered down as blaster bolts filled the air over his position from both sides. He didn't dare raise up over the lip of his cover and fire out of fear he'd make himself a prime target as the most forward assaulting trooper. Instead, he lay there mentally calculating his way back if he were forced to retreat. And he would retreat, as being left behind and captured by the Imperials wasn't much of an improvement to death.

The decision was made for him, as a rocket whizzed over his head and slammed into the Cip-Quad trooper's weapon, obliterating man and machine alike.


The thudding of boots on the pocked ground filled the air as another wave of New Republic troopers surged forth, attempting to take advantage of the gap in the Imperial defenses before it was addressed.

Cargen sucked in another breath and joined the charge. Troopers again began to fall all around him as Imperial defensive fire intensified, but they were making headway now that the massive weapon that had held them at bay was gone. He hopped over a trooper that stumbled in front of him, nearly losing his footing as his toe snagged on the carbine strap of the fallen man. His head pitched forward and his arms spread out as he attempted to regain his balance, stumbling forward out of control.

He lifted his head to see where he was going, and his eyes widened. His face smacked against the hard wall at the bottom of a high bunker, and everything began to blur as he fell onto his back, staring up at the cavernous ceiling. His watery eyes refused to focus on anything in particular for what seemed like an eternity as more and more troopers made their way to his position. None of them seemed to pay him any mind, however, shouting out curses and orders as their eyes were forward toward their objective.

Cargen blinked slowly, and it helped his eyes find some semblance of focus. As he continued to slowly regain his senses, his watery eyes locked onto a small black object held in a white-armored hand hanging over the lip of the bunker. He puzzled over this sight, but his unfocused eyes had a hard time discerning what was going on.

The hand released the object, and it began tumbling down the wall toward all of the waiting troopers.

Cargen blinked harder, wrenching his eyes shut and then forced them open. Immediately the sharp edges of the tumbling object came into focus. Around the middle was a thin band of red light, with each end ribbed black metal alternating bouncing along the edge of the bunker wall. His eyes widened as the object continued to fall toward them, but his mouth refused to work.

Somebody else must have heard something, because a warning cry went up, but it was too late. The Sonic Imploder went off just above the heads of the troopers. Bodies fell all around and on top of Cargen.

He suffered a brief bout of paranoia at being smothered, but the wave of sound that emanated from the grenade slammed into him, and everything went black.


Cargen gasped loudly as he regained consciousness, flailing about as he remembered the pile of bodies that had buried him before he'd been knocked out. Firm hands gripped his arms, causing him to struggle harder, sending a clumsy kick toward whomever was restraining him. He continued to hyperventilate, but managed to get enough breath in his lungs to tell the enemy he wasn't beaten. "You'll never take me alive, Imp!"

"Easy there, ground pounder," a female voice soothed. There was a barely concealed chuckle underneath her words.

Cargen ceased his struggles immediately as his eyes came into focus. The triangular head of an Arcona was above his, her brilliant golden eyes boring directly into his. As he relaxed, so did the grip on his arms. He pushed himself into a sitting position, and only then did he realize that the sounds of battle were much farther off. He looked around and grimaced at the sight of all the bodies around him. "Are they..."

"Deceased, yes," the Arcona replied sadly. "What happened?"

The tumbling grenade flashed through Cargen's mind's eye, and he shivered as the memory of the sound wave reached him. "Sonic Imploder went off above our heads. I was on the ground already..."

The Arcona pulled out a penlight from her breast pocket and shined it into his eyes. "I see. You being on the ground must have kept you just out of lethal range. The others weren't so lucky." She began checking his extremities for any other wounds, bandaging a scrape on his knee that he didn't remember getting.

Cargen despaired momentarily, wondering what he'd done to deserve a reprieve from death while these other brave souls had been plucked from their mortal bodies. He looked around, gazing briefly into each lifeless face. While most were strangers, one caught his eye and drew a tear. "Ah, Sarge..."

"Losing people is never easy," the Arcona replied gently, nodding to herself as she finished bandaging his knee. She stowed the rest of her gear and stood up, waving toward somebody out of his sightline.

Cargen looked back up at her, wondering who she was talking to. Again, the sounds of fighting were much farther off, so he reasoned it was ok to stand up as well without worry. "Are we winning?"

Another trooper moved closer, ignoring Cargen completely. "Reega, we need to move now to link up with Swagg for entry."

"Not yet," the Arcona, apparently named Reega, said first to Cargen. She turned her head to the other human that had approached. "Ok Huff, one more moment."

"Entry point?" Cargen asked, confused.

The man named Huff frowned at Cargen's intrusion into their plans. Shooting a dirty look in his direction, he again focused on the Arcona. "Salty, it's time. We need to move if we want to reach our objective."

"What objective?" Cargen asked, annoyed at the dismissal.

Reega—Salty nodded at the impatient trooper, but then regarded Cargen with a focused eye. "Say, Sarge... We lost our pathfinder during the assault. This guy is a Sullustan, so he likely has great night vision. Isn't that right, Private...?"

"Brell, Cargen— Private," Cargen replied rotely. "And yes, my species has great low-light vision."

Huff rubbed his chin as he thought about Salty's proposal. After a moment, he shook his head.. "I don't like adding somebody new to the mission. You have good night vision, don't you?"

Salty shook her head. "My vision is quite poor, actually. I can sense heat, but that likely won't help for any boobytraps that might be in our way."

Huff scowled. "Slink?"

A Bothan female that Cargen hadn't noticed up until now stepped forward, shaking her head apologetically. "Sorry Sarge, I can't see shab in anything darker than this."

"Fine," Huff sighed. "Private, we're appropriating you for this mission," he said as he pulled out a crudely drawn map. He jabbed a finger on the map. "We're here. Our contact is through this side corridor, opening up a side entrance for us to accomplish our goal."

"What goal is that, Sergeant?" Cargen asked quizzically.

"Need to know basis I'm afraid," Huff replied dismissively.

Cargen didn't like being left out of the loop, and decided to dig in his heels. He crossed his arms. "I don't like not knowing what my mission is."

Huff stepped closer, a dark look coming over his face. "Your mission is to get us to that door without triggering any traps, Private."

Salty stepped forward and gently separated the two. "Same side here, boys."

"Fine," Huff bit out. "We're going in the side door to extract some data before the Imperials erase it when they realize we're going to win this fight."

"We're not going to help the troopers making the assault?"

"Not our job," Huff replied tersely.

"He deserves to know, Sarge," Slink interjected. "Everything."

Huff shot the Bothan an even darker look, and then sighed again. "Fine. Once we get that data, we're to ensure that the commandant of this base is eliminated. And then, I suppose, we could disable all of the defensive emplacements to help the troopers knocking on the front door."

Cargen's eyes widened when he realized what type of squad he was being pressed into. "Assassination?"

Huff nodded sharply. "We done playing 'twenty questions'? We need to move to catch up with our timetable."

Cargen held up a finger. "Why can't we disable the defenses when we grab the datacore? Surely the two jobs can be done at the same time, and we'd be saving more lives in the process."

Huff shook his head adamantly. "And then our target would know all is lost and bolt for whatever escape means he has that we don't know about. Our inside man couldn't find that information out, otherwise we'd have been using that as our entry rather than waiting for you grunts to push their defenses back this far for us to enter." He pursed his lips. "No, it has to be in this order or our mission would be compromised. I'm sorry."

Cargen took this all in as he examined the carnage he and the first and second waves had pushed through to get this far. The loss of life was astronomical, way worse than the briefings he'd been a part of had admitted would be likely in taking this base. Delaying any means of reducing the number of friendly casualties seemed almost criminal. Assassinating somebody without due process was definitely criminal, and something he really didn't want to be a part of. He was repulsed at the fact that this was clearly a sanctioned mission, which meant that the New Republic wasn't above fighting dirty to accomplish their goals.

On the other hand, being able to at least disable the defenses once they accomplished that dark goal would mean that fewer lives would be lost. And it was a means to an end to free the other planets of this sector of their harsh Imperial overlords.

"Well?" Huff asked impatiently.

"Fine," Cargen replied with a nod. "I'll help you this one time."

Huff planted a firm hand on his chest. "You're sure you can get us there in one piece?"

Cargen snorted. "Of course I can."

"Good enough for me," Slink replied as she shouldered her strangely configured carbine. "Oh, looks like your gun got fried by that Sonic Imploder," the Bothan added. She pulled a well-used DT-12 Heavy Blaster pistol out of her bag and tossed it to Cargen. "This'll do the job nicely."

Cargen fumbled as he caught the blaster, squealing a little in surprise as he snagged it with his second attempt. He turned it over in his hands, admiring the worn grip that displayed heavy usage. Despite the grip showing wear, the rest of the blaster looked almost immaculate, showing that it was maintained with expert skill and care.

Huff looked at him dubiously. "You sure you can do this?"

Cargen nodded sharply. "I grew up working in the mines. 'Darkness' is my middle name," he added with a bit of swagger, hoping the false bravado gave this squad more confidence than he currently felt.

Salty snorted. "Lead the way, Darkness."

"I didn't mean that literally!"

The End