Twenty-eight years ago, he was born on a world known as Tsilveliri. A world destined to become the seat of the Rulik Empire, to be hence-forth named Vul’Kel. A seat from which one man’s grand aspiration… was to rule the stars. Deckard Tailbot’s goal, however, was not so lofty. His one true goal, was to survive.
Born to a dedicated military man, Gheb Tailbot, Deckard was subjected to a strict, military upbringing. Combat, tactics, and discipline were drilled into him at a young age. Gheb served his manditory five years, then continued to serve. A model soldier and commander, his father would die valiantly in the call of duty before Deckard reached his eighth birthday. Bills piled up, and his mother would soon find it too much to bare. She resorted to drinking, stretching her meager income even further. Her downward spiral would continue with her slipping into the whoring business. For six years, Deckard did his best to avoid his home, attending his schooling and keeping all others unaware of what was really going on. That life would end when one of her johns went a bit too far, and left his mother dead in a gutter.
Fourteen year old Deckard was left with nothing. No family, no income, no home. He slept in whatever abandoned building he could find for the night, and subsisted almost entirely by panhandling, minor thievery, and his natural talent for reading people
His talents and quick wit did not go unnoticed, and around the time that he turned sixteen, he begged an aging physician, Dr. Mirthan Taendir, and was taken in. His apprenticeship with the doctor progressed rapidly, due to his natural talent at absorbing knowledge. His ability to empathize with others, and read their body language, gave him a bedside manner that took many practicing doctors years to develop, and his hunger for knowledge meant that he spent nearly every waking hour either practicing his craft, or digging up new knowledge about it. The years progressed rapidly, and at the age of eighteen, he was enlisted, as was mandatory for all Rulik citizens, for the military.
He would have been nothing more than a general grunt, or perhaps a simple medic, had his name not taken the attention of a man who would grow to be his largest patron and protector, Vice Admiral Antoine Yaedrick, a man who would go on to become Fleet Admirl Yaedrick. Antoine reconized the Tailbot name, having served with Deckard’s father, and, with a bit of sleight of hand, and a tad bit of political manuevering, fast-tracked Deckard into Officer’s training.
The years on the street had toughened Deckard up, keeping him from getting soft under the care of his “Adopted Father”, yet it had delivered to him a compassion and a deep care towards the plight of the civilians of the Rulik Empire. His years with his father swiftly returned to him, allowing him to progress rapidly in his military training, the old habits falling into place once more, and leading him to the top of his class. Despite this, he was viewed with disdain by most of his instructors, and his peers. Further, news would arrive to him that Dr. Taendir had passed, age taking him peacefully, in his sleep. Young Deckard was forced to deal with the loss of another father figure, and forced the emotion down, not letting it show, and focusing even more intensely on his studies.
He completed officer’s training, having learned a bit of battlefield engineering, in order to maintain and repair battlesuits, combat suits, and most general weaponry and equipment, at the top of his class. Despite this, he was issued a rather low officer’s rank, and dispatched to aid in the assault on Ilmen. An assault that would prove ill-fated for most.
Given command as a Lieutenant Junior Grade over a small team of engineers and medics, Deckard spent the first year of service away from any true combat. One-by-one, the Satellite-stations were conquered, or destroyed. As the years passed, Deckard found himself leading his engineers and medics on a few of these assaults, due to the increased pressure to capture, instead of destroy, the installations. During these assaults, Deckard was cautious, and managed to avoid the loss of even a single man under his command, despite heavy combat situations. The rest of the military did not fare as well, and as a result, when the Rulik military finally managed a push onto the planet itself, Deckard’s team saw deployment to the surface. Now under the command of many other officers, Deckard had no say in the tactics and plans of the assault. The assault force would land on the planet, only to be met with heavy artillery, massive numbers of ground troops, a seemingly-endless supply of mobilized combat vehicles, and worst of all, orbital bombardment. In their desperation to cling to what they considered theirs, the Freemen forces annihilated the Rulik’s air superiority with constant bombardments, and broke ranks and lines of hundreds of soldiers with pin-point precision.
Deckard watched as his unit struggled to deal with the dead and wounded, to repair damaged machinery and armor, and commanding officers sent men to their deaths in droves, only to end up sharing their fate. A mission meant to be the final strike of the war was utterly and completely stalled by assets that no one had ever expected to be brought to bare. The fleet did their best to attempt to destroy the orbital sattelites, but their mobility, and a renewed vigor, coupled with reinforcements from other Freemen planets, had them fighting a losing battle. Further, rumors of advanced, prototype-weaponry being brought to bare circulated constantly, and within days, all contact with the fleet itself was cut-off from Deckard and a mere six thousand medics, engineers, and soldiers. With only one officer on planet above his rank remaining, Deckard relied on his charisma and persuasion talents to convince the man that the best course of action was for Deckard to bring a small team of men with him, while the rest continued an assault, meant to stall and distract, to assault the ground-based communications network of the Freemen, in an attempt to wrest control of the orbital bombardment satellites from them.
Smoke and blood filled the air with an acrid stench, as Deckard lifted a hand, signaling his small squad of three engineers, two medics, and six assault soldiers, two of which utilized powered battlesuits, much like the one Deckard now wore, to hold position, as he surveyed the hardened bunker twenty-clicks ahead of them. His dark, forest-green eyes scanned his display, and he activated the binocular-vision of the suit, taking a quick count of the sentries. His hand flashed out, signaling and pointing out the three combat walkers, and the seven infantrymen.
His troops moved rapidly, two of the engineers pulling out rocket launchers, and the third moving between them, loading them as they took aim. Three of the soldiers went prone, assembling and mounting their sniper rifles, lining up their shots and signalling their preparation. Deckard signalled them forward, and shots cracked out. Rockets and bullets flew. Dust erupted from the ground and choked the air. Explosions and the screeching of metal signaled the destruction of two combat walkers, and infantrymen screamed as precise sniper fire cracked out, dropping lifeless bodies. The main assault force pushed on, Bullets slamming into the last combat walker, seemingly failing to even phase it. It brought it’s main gun to bare, lining up it’s shot, and fired. The flash of the rocket’s thrusters momentarily blinded Deckard, as it missed his battlesuit by mere inches, and another two rockets raced past him, one on either side, in the opposite direction, speeding towards the combat walker, before striking with a resounding, chest-shaking explosion. The devastated walker crumpled into a heap of twisted metal, as Deckard signaled for his men to form up, and they proceeded forward, into the installation.
They had assaulted the installation hours ago, expecting it to be a simple communications relay, but what they found was far, far worse. Human cloning was one aspect, but it paled in comparison to the other things they found. The rumors of advanced prototype technology was true. One-by-one, his men had fallen, until only Deckard remained, his battlesuit long-abandoned , despite his numerous field-repairs. It had finally given up the ghost after the most recent assault of clone troopers, and now he crouched behind a pillar, as a clone fired relentlessly at him with his mounted minigun. Bullets tore into the hardened metal all around him, and he shut his eyes tightly. Images of his men flashed in front of his eyes. Jaer, a medic, died first, when one of the clones erupted from it’s tank, a strange amalgam of shark and human, tearing his face off with it’s razor-sharp teeth. The blood had splattered across Deckard’s faceplace and had to be cleared hastily as the entire squad had unloaded round-after-round into the cloned freak, struggling to out-pace it’s massive regenerative abilities. Even if Jaer could have survived the violence from the assault of the beast, the gunfire ensured that his remains were nothing more than a bloody smear upon the ground. Deckard felt the guilt and responsibility for each of their deaths weighing on him.
An explosion jolted his eyes open, as a rocket slammed into the ground nearby, throwing him across the hallway, and into a security door. The impact must have shorted one of the security systems, because the door malfunctioned and opened, leaving Deckard the chance to quickly roll inside, before another rocket impacted his previous location, sealing the entrance with rubble. Deckard curled into a ball, covering his face with his arms, waiting for the ceiling to collapse on him.
The wait proved fruitless, and a few moments later, he composed himself, standing up and brushing the dust from his eyes, scanning the room. Relief washed over him when he didn’t see any of the strange, cloning tanks in this room. Slowly, he examined the room, realization finally coming to him that the room was reminiscent of a target range, his eyes widening as he set them upon the subject of testing. The strange gun was one that many had dreamed of creating for many years, yet had never succeeded in creating. Before him, encased in heavy glass and security systems, now powered down from the combat, and Aiden’s Sacrifice of both himself, and his battlesuit, to destroy the security generator, was an actual gauss rifle.
Deckard licked his lips, glancing around quickly, as if expecting it to be some sort of trap, and moved forward, grabbing the gauss rifle, his assault carbine long since lost, cast aside in a feeble attempt to try to pull the last man left in his squad, an engineer named Fraed, back up onto a scaffold, a futile attempt, as the clone combat walker snagged his leg on it’s way down. He rose the gun to his shoulder, raising it and sighting down the barrel, before squeezing the trigger and letting off a shot, a rapid burst of high explosive rounds tearing into the target in front of him, in near-silence. A thin smile crossed his lips, the first one in nearly a year, as he turned, bloodlust coursing through his veins as he blasted a hole in the rubble to the doorway. It was time to take his pound of flesh for all the men he had lost. Rage boiled in his gut, and Deckard intended to honor it’s desires.
The gauss rifle proved exceptionally effective against the combat walkers, and it’s ability to sling almost any projectile meant that he had no shortage of ammunition. He relentlessly, mercilessly, cleaved through the clone forces. His humanity was slowly slipping away, and all that remained was a berserker rage. How dare these fiends murder his men. How dare they stand in his way. HOW DARE THEY LIVE! His rage was beyond seeing red, and all he saw was a thick, white fog, as face after face blended into the next, all wearing the same leering, bald, shark-toothed faces.
A stray round grazing his temple smacked him out of his rage, the white fading from his vision, slipping to just the corners of his eyes, before fading entirely. Before him were prison cells. Dozens of them. The Freemen scientist raised the pistol again, his hand shaking, as he attempted to line up another shot. Deckard’s eyes narrowed, the gauss rifle lifting to his shoulder once more, his finger squeezing the trigger, a slight “Woosh” accompanying the round of metal-slag, as it tore a basketball sized hole in the man’s chest. The pistol fell to the ground from lifeless fingers, and Deckard stepped over the corpse, to peer into the cells. Shock once again struck him, and he promptly doubled over, vomiting. The realization struck him like a punch in the gut, for the clones he had been killing, were not clones, but Rulik soldiers.
The clone tanks were not, in fact, clone tanks, but mutation tanks. Freemen scientists were experimenting with brainwashing and splicing animal DNA with humans, to create mindless super soldiers. Indeed, several of these Rulik soldiers were trapped in vats at this very moment, the Scientist having been interrupted just prior to activating the process. Deckard’s heart raced as he rushed over to the console, hastily activating the abort sequence and releasing the men, his breathing heavy and strained as he watched them drop from the tanks, vomiting a clear liquid. He slung the gauss rifle over his shoulder, pulling his medical tools for the first time in hours, and moved to tend to the men.
Lieutenant Yorick Von Akker and his squad were one of the first few men deployed to the surface, and the first to encounter the full brunt of the “Clone” troops. The majority of his team was annihilated, and those who survived were dragged to this installation. Here, they were subjected to testing and tortures, meant to wipe their minds and make them slave-soldiers to the Freemen military. Yorick’s saving grace had been the base commander’s misguided idea that he had some knowledge of the assault plans, or perhaps the location of the command cruiser. When Yorick had failed to produce any knowledge of this, he was slated for “Reconstruction”. Mere minutes separated him from being a genetically-spliced slave, and his humanity. With Yorick and his men treated to the best capacity in the current situation, Deckard brought him up to date on the current events of the war, and his plan. Firm will took hold over Yorick’s face, as he pledged his men and himself to the completion of the mission. A nearby armory for the Reconstructed outfitted Yorick and his men, and in fresh battlesuits, the group set off for the central core.
Hours later, Yorick and Deckard stood in the central command room of the installation. Bullets pounded the floors and walls around them, as Yorick and his men blind-fired into the hallway at the mass of Reconstructed soldiers.
“Peck yer feet up, Tailbot! Whor gettin’ overrun!”
Deckard said nothing as he punched away at the console, activating the installation’s self destruct sequence, having just completed the upload of a fine little number, developed by the engineer Polis, just prior to his decapitation by a Reconstructed soldier, as he attempted to hack the entrance door to the installation. The virus would first shut out all local command permissions for the orbital bombardment and orbital turret systems, then it would re-write the remote access codes, and finally, transmit them over to the main command ship of the fleet, effectively turning the Freemen advantage over to Rulik Military command. The console beeped, as the power grid began a complete meltdown, Deckard’s voice ripping through the gunfire as he screamed “It’s Done, lets get the bloody hell out of this flipping freakshow!”. He turned rapidly on his heels, running towards the Commander’s access elevator, thankful that the man was cowardly enough to have a quick escape plan. The man, of course, never got the chance to use it. Deckard wondered if he would never forget the sounds of the man’s screams, as Yorick utilized the strength of his battlesuit to rip the man’s spine from his back, leaving him a paralyzed, screaming mass of flesh upon the floor. The escape elevator rocketed the eight men upwards, rapidly transporting them to freedom, as the research installation below them tore itself to pieces. A final explosion launched the elevator into the air, the twisted metal landing several hundred feet away. A final blast of rubble coated it, obscuring it from view.
It had taken them two days, even with advanced search equipment, to find the men. Their battlesuits had long since run out of power, but the extra hours they had gained by switching them off and on when needed, had kept the men alive and in fairly healthy state. The Rulik Empire had won the planet, and the men were shipped back home to recover in a military hospital, and of course, to be commended for their bravery and valor. Much of it, of course, was political pomp, to gain favor with the masses towards the continuing war, but Deckard’s tour of duty was finally up. With five years of hell behind him, he resigned and took his pension, a simple 3,000 credits a month. His experiences left him with nightmares of the horrors he had seen, and for a year afterward, even the sight of blood made him vomit uncontrollably. Depression took a deep hold of his life, and he utterly failed to make a successful practice as a doctor as a result. His Pension wasn’t nearly enough to support him, and he turned to mercenary work, having been left with his battlesuit and his gauss rifle as a “Reward for his great service”. Yet, the murder of the Reconstructed Rulik troops and civilians still held him tight in a grip of guilt, and the loss of his men weighed heavily on his mind.
He swore an oath to prevent as much death as he could, and to never pass someone up for treatment, if he could save their life without losing his. Drawing on his engineering knowledge, he restructured and adapted his gauss rifle, sacrificing some of it’s penetration and range, to make it use customized dart and sticky rounds. Further tinkering led to it linking to his battlesuit targeting system, allowing hot-calibration of projectile speed and impact force, based on the composition of the target. In the end, the rifle was converted to a non-lethal weapon, capable of either administering remote drug injections via customized dart rounds, or immobilizing foes with customized sticky-rounds. He set out into the universe at large, taking on whatever jobs he could find, but his own nature and newfound obsession with protecting and aiding others found him making very little money, most of the time, struggling to upkeep his equipment. His travels would take him to many different cities, and eventually, while breaking up an attempted mugging outside of a bar, he would come across a young engineer named Frank. Deckard took the young man under his wing, and the two traveled for two years together.
Now they sat on a transport shuttle, streaking towards the space station that held their next job. The paycheck was promised to be considerably more than they had been earning, in fact, it would be far more than enough for Deckard to stretch out for another year, but the details were vague. All he knew for certain was that his medical expertise would be heavily utilized, and thus, he assured himself, there’s no way he’d end up having to kill again. Right?
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