Chapter I; Trial by Fire Part 2
Chapter I: Trial by Fire
Without the rumble of walkers and the whir of machinery, the rolling winds of Geonosis and the crunch scratch of plastoid boots against ground became the overriding white noise of the world around the infantry of First Squad. The clatter of automatic fire and screech of beam weaponry rolled across the plains in waves as First Squad weaved through the thick rocks of the Im’g’twe Hills. As 2411 continued forward, the Platoon Commander in the lead, DC-15 and DC-15As held at ready carry as the troopers behind the weapons marched in a loose oval-shaped perimeter. A quiet flutter chattered in between the rolling sounds of conflict. As 2411 tracked the sound with a visual inspection he saw the piercing blue beams of Self-Propelled Heavy Artillery-Turbolaser’s as they split the Geonosian sky and impacted on the hull of a Trade Federation Core Ship. The signature warble of the Turbolaser cracked an instant later as Geonosian Warriors leapt from towers of rock and stone, sonic blasters echoing into the hills.
‘Dig in!’ boomed 2411 as he levelled his DC-15A blaster rifle and put two shots clean through the skull of a Geonosian Warrior. Around him, the Clone Troopers of First Squad began to close the gap, turning their defensive formation from an oval to a tightknit circle, its overlapping fields of fire impenetrable by conventional assault. As the Clones began to close the gap AJ activated his lightsaber and dashed out of the perimeter, his boots connecting with the wall of a towering rock as he dashed up the angled stone and leapt, his sabre arm arcing in a crescent before connecting with the shoulder of a Geonosian Warrior, the laser sword sliced through the flesh in a single graceful motion before AJs shark teeth snapped through the creature's neck, the Jedi executing a precise finishing landing. DY14N followed suit, activating his lightsaber he began corralling the Geonosian Warriors with wildly inaccurate redirected blaster fire causing the Geonosians to duck and dodge into the precision fire of First Squad dropping another warrior. Infuriated by their losses the Geonosian Warriors began to move and fire with a ferocity unseen before. Sonic blaster shots rang out and Clone Troopers went flying, their bodies liquidised by the concussive force, even Jedi like DY14N weren’t totally immune to the blasters as he was thrown to the ground by the force of the concussive weaponry. At that moment the staccato rumble of DC-15A blaster rifles poured from behind the Geonosians as Clone Jetpack Troopers raced in from the staging area.
‘This is it! We’ve got them routed!’ CT-2832 proclaimed as the Trade Federation Core Ship that’d seen beam after beam of Turbolaser fire poured into its hull began to descend towards the planet’s surface, eruptions of flame and tumbling landing legs signalling the unplanned nature of the action. As the immense Core Ship struck the sand dunes of Geonosis a wave of dust and sand was kicked up and expanded out in a wide arc like a wave. It impacted into the Jetpack Troopers with the force of an explosion throwing them wildly off course as the Geonosians who’d anticipated the wave clamped down to their tower and fired blindly into First Squads midst. In the wave of confusion and the cloud of orange, blue blaster bolts stood out like beacons, illuminating the colossal rocks DY14N hopelessly threw in the gale-force winds at the warriors.
‘Focus fire!’ 2411 roared over the raging storm as another two warriors dropped and the last and final warrior, injured and limbless fluttered away, its furious screeches drowned out by the storm as blaster bolts flew in pursuit, hopelessly outmatched by the storm.
2411 cursed inside his helmet before looking over the remains of First Squad, they’d lost another six regulars.
‘Well now that they know we’re here we best get a move on,’ 2411 said into the silence as he gestured for the squad to advance. The rest of the march was uneventful, with the dust storm caused by the Core Ship crash, most if not all Geonosian Warriors had withdrawn; whether by order or by wind conditions no one in the squad would truly know. When First Squad finally arrived at the sub-access hatch into the Droid Factory the squat face of DY14N lit up like the Naboo’s Globe of Peace. He walked forwards through the precise rows of Clones, swatting at Clone Heavy Troopers as they began to unclip their cylindrical N-20 Baradium-core thermal detonators from the back of their utility belts.
‘What are you doing?’ asked ARC-2411.
‘We don’t need explosives to breach this door. Leave them for the reactor room. I’m a mechanic in my spare time, this is my thing,’ replied DY14N.
‘I thought Lightsaber’s were your thing,’ muttered 2411 indignantly as the Iakaru knelt beside the doors panel and began systematically rewiring cables. His tampering was smooth and efficient all the way up to the final cable pair when his prowess was interrupted by a series of violent and loud sparks and flashes as the control panel flash fused in protest. At this, the Clone Troopers sighed and once again reached for their utility belts as a flash of intense light followed by the hum of a Lightsaber sliced into the metallic door and began to cut a person-sized hole through the doorway. With a loud thunk and the drip of liquified metal around them, First Squad stepped into the Factory to see row upon row of battle droids, the flash of fusion torches and the thunder of hammers reverberating through the facility as thousands of droids were built by the minute.
‘That’s odd, I was expecting alarms to go off with the destruction of that door,’ mused 2411.
‘Well I was trying to bypass the lock through the security mechanism, I must have disabled it,’ DY14N theorised.
As the squad paused, taking up defensive formations around the gantry they were currently occupying, Lieutenant CT-2832 pulled up the holographic map of the Droid Factory.
‘Right, the facility’s reactor is thirty-six levels below us, if we can get there we’ll be able to escape through the catacombs that lead directly off the reactor room and as long as we don’t trigger any alarms we should have the reactor room to ourselves,’ 2832 explained as AJs boot connected with a metallic pipe sending it tumbling into the production lines below. The entire squad whirled on the Padawan who stared at them wide-eyed and with shock and an instant later frustrated remorse as alarms triggered around the entire factory and the clank of durasteel feet on alloy rang through the factory.
‘Well… So much for stealth,’ 2411 said as he raced ahead of the squad towards the objective. As they raced down the stairs and ladders, the clatter of droid feet on steel ever-present, a stiff nervousness settled on the squad as they realised the lack of pursuers or interceptors that cascaded into fury and panic as the injured Geonosian stood, propped up by a bone cane surrounded by Geonosian Warriors and activated battle droids. At this, the Clone Heavy Troopers visibly recoiled.
‘We’ll make the run sirs,’ they reported as 2411 shook his head.
‘You wouldn’t make it to the reactor let alone out of the reactor room,’ as 2411 finished his explanation AJ leapt into the conversation.
‘Then I’ll deliver the explosives, if you can give me covering fire and pass the explosives to me I’ll get them planted,’ he said with surety in his voice. And with that the entire reactor room erupted into combat as precision blaster fire flew true, their Geonosian targets crumpling under the combined barrage. The warriors, stirred into a further frenzy as AJ rushed to place the explosives, the Geonosian fire rebalancing towards the Jedi Padawan as they recognised his cargo. With the lapse of fire First Squad rushed into the gap continuing the pepper the warriors as they tried desperately to protect AJ. An instant later AJ finished his preparations and began to run back towards First Squad as DY14N prepared to impale his Lightsaber into the wounded Geonosian at the other end of the room. The moment of desire flashed across him before fading into reality, there was no point. The wounded Geonosian would die one way or another. As AJ returned to his brothers in arms, First Squad fanned out as it prepared to simultaneously delay the Geonosian bomb disposal action and prepare to withdraw at the last moment. As the two-minute timer neared 00:00 First Squad executed their withdrawal from the reactor room and into the spiralling maze of catacombs as fire and flame roiled out and upward.