RocketBoy

[G7 - Ilum - FF] V | The Labyrinth of Evil

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AN UNSANCTIONED MISSION
The Freedom Fighters gripped by dread! Affected by the dark aura on the desecrated planet of ILUM, tensions rise, and old friendships fail. Spurred on by a horrifying vision from the Force, Data Master BEY'WAN PW'TUA enlists FENREE KEL and his Hunter Team to help infiltrate the Imperial Trench against the wishes of the cautious ADMIRAL YIMA. There, they hope to discover what the Empire is doing to the planet, and put a stop to it once and for all...

The Story So Far

Story

Spoiler

Previously...

A flash of red light, spark, and smoke. A blaster bolt found its mark in an unsuspecting Stormtrooper and they clattered against the smooth floor. Hunter Team, led by Fenree Kel, and Bey'wan Pw'tua, rushed forward down the monotonous, gray durasteel corridor of the underground Imperial base. They all kept stoic expressions, but inside, each of them was in turmoil. The darkness of the planet that had already afflicted them seemed heavier here, and while they said nothing, each of them could feel the pressure of every meter of soil pressing down from above as they went further and further down. 
Bey'wan grit his teeth, his blaster pistol held in a white-knuckle grip. He was keenly aware that he was the reason any of them were here, even if they had all volunteered. His intel was only as good as the first few hundred feet--after that the walls were too thick for scans. The exterior doors had sealed behind them once they entered, a grim sign. They were flying blind, racing down corridors that all looked the same, slowly going mad from the possibility that this labyrinth was leading them in circles. Red light streamed up from underneath the grating on the floor, as though hell itself was rising to grab at their ankles.

Fenree Kel turned, wiping the ridge of his snout. His eyes were wide with adrenaline. "What do you think, Pw'tua? Which way should we go?"

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Bey'wan deliberated for a moment, his computer-like mind spinning furiously. He couldn't falter, not now. "I suggest we split up, Captain. You take your men towards the west, and I'll go to the east with whoever is willing."

"Without our comlinks on? I'm not sure that's the best--"

"Set them to receive signals from this frequency only," the Bothan interjected, and he showed him the dial on his own. "And only yours and mine. We cannot risk giving ourselves away before we gather the data we need."

Kel nodded, and turned to his troops. The team turned into two squads; Cawdor, Gadacca, and Narogi with Kel, while Rorgarr, Seveny, and Gordej went with Bey'wan. Kel looked at them all with a serious fondness. It was silent except for a low, distant murmur in the walls.

"Keep it tight and watch each others' backs. Seveny, protect the Data Master at all costs, got it? If I go down, or he goes down, you all turn on your comlinks and regroup. Now...let's go stick it to some Imps, yeah?"

A quiet flood of agreement from the ready commandos, and without another word, they branched off onto their separate paths.
There was no guidance besides their own extensive study of Imperial base layouts, but Bey'wan prayed that would enough. The further down they went, the closer they'd get to the core of the planet, where he'd detected the densest Imperial activity. 
They swiped through a door, only to be met by a shout, and a hail of blaster fire. The four of them split to avoid it. Gordej dived forward, shooting as he fell, and caught the Stormtrooper before he could call for help. He quickly got to his feet, huffing as he stomped towards the fallen trooper to make certain he was dead. 
He was not.
Gordej fired his blaster, and the Stormtrooper raised a hand weakly to defend himself. The blaster bolt burned straight through his hand, but that's where it stopped. It didn't reach his chest, and in the split second that followed, that was enough.

"No!"

It could've been Seveny or Bey'wan himself, but the bolt burned into Gordej and ignited his lungs, and he went stumbling backward to the floor.
Rorgarr charged forward, finishing off the Stormtrooper with an afterthought before kneeling beside his comrade. 
The man was shivering, clawing at the durasteel floor. His eyes flickered in his head.

"Come on, pal!" Seveny muttered as he hurried over. "We've got to get him back outside. We need MedEvac!"

The dying soldier coughed his rejection of this plan. 

"N-No! I knew..." 

His voice faded before he could finish, trailing out into silence.
Bey'wan stood frozen, watching as the man's eyes glazed over, and his head lolled back as his strength left him.
Rorgarr let out a mournful howl.
"Quiet down, buddy," Seveny croaked, putting a hand on the wookie's fur. "You know the deal. Save that for later." The man stood, checking his blaster, and forced himself once again into a posture of readiness. He blinked away the sweat in his eyes, turning to Bey'wan. 
This helped Bey'wan to stir, tearing his eyes away from the corpse of Gordej. "...I'm sorry--"

"No time, where next?" said Seveny.

"I...Of course," Bey'wan corrected himself. They must focus on the mission. Make the sacrifice worth it. "Traditional Imperial layouts dictate the operations block should be further down, and more heavily guarded. We must press on." 


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Time dragged on in the Labyrinth, surrounded by nothing but steel surfaces lit by fluorescent light. Fenree Kel's timekeeper said they'd been inside for nearly forty-five minutes, but might as well have been hours.
They had run into a patrol a few levels back. Everyone survived, but Narogi took a bolt in the arm from an E-11D during the fighting. Despite his insistence that he press on, the injury essentially turned him into dead weight. Still, there was no chance in hell they would leave him to collect later. This place was evil, Kel felt it in his bones. They needed to strike at the heart, grab whatever they could find, and hightail it out. 
Gadacca slung the wiry Narogi onto her back, and he clamped on with his knees. 
They went on. Another corridor, another row of lights, another set of vents and pipes and the possibility of discovery. It had been a long time since he'd done an infiltration without a detailed floorplan. Not knowing where you're going gets you killed. Why had they come?
He remembered the vision, the one the pilgrim had told everyone about. Billions of dead, cities burned, planets broken. He remembered hearing Cawdor weeping in the middle of the night, probably from another flashback to Cinder. He remembered his own family; he hadn't seen them in years, since he'd been dragged away on charges of "rabblerousing". He'd never found them again.
Another door slid open, and he glimpsed white plastoid. Like always, his blood boiled at the sight.
The firefight was over in seconds. These guards, too, had seemed unaware they were coming. There was no alert, no alarm klaxon, nothing to indicate they knew the base had been breached. He didn't understand why. Maybe the walls were too thick for comlinks, or maybe the base was so sprawling that no one had found their kills yet. 
They'd found their way into some kind of office block. Kel peered around the corner at technicians and controllers rushing about, mouse droids underfoot. Bunch of paper-pushers and admin eggheads. They needed to move, grab some documents, and then maybe they could find a ride out of here and regroup with the others.

"Boss, over there," Cawdor whispered. "Signage pointing to the Colonel's office. Could be a goldmine."

Kel followed his gaze, bewildered to see he was right. "I don't believe it, nice spot! Looks like all that walking might have been worth it after all."

They waited for a moment of calm and fanned out across the room toward another access corridor, through which they passed into a climate controlled antechamber. A secretary looked up at them from behind a desk, shock flashing across his face. Wasting no time, Kel rushed forward and vaulted over the desk, smashing into the man's chest with his clawed feet, knocking him away from any alarm switches and onto the floor. He clamped a foot down on his chest, and braced the muzzle of his rifle against his ribcage.

"Get us in there," he snarled.

"I d-don't have the code cylinder!" 

"Not a great liar, pal."

Kel searched the man and tossed the cylinders to his squad, which they went to work trying on the door access scomp link. Third one did the trick.

The Colonel's office was dark, Kel would've said 'poorly lit, for a human', but he could see just fine. The typical wide desk, open floor, few chairs, and a huge window that, in this case, looked out on the flashing fire of the core worksite.

Cawdor watched the door, while the others took the chance to stare.

A huge, interior cavern, somewhere deep inside the planet's crust, filled to the bursting with machinery and infrastructure. Thousands of workers were stationed around on scaffolding and buzzing past on repulsor platforms. And down below, a fire so bright Kel had to shield his eyes.

"What the karf are they building *inside* the planet?" Kel said, squinting. "It's not a ship, is it?"

"Is that...a hyperdrive?" Narogi gaped.

Gadacca roared.

Cawdor asked, "What'd she say?" 

The others looked at each other, then back out the window. 

"She said she recognized a focusing coil. A focusing coil? Why would a hyperdrive need a focusing coil?"

"It wouldn't," Cawdor scoffed. "Focusing coils are only in weapons. It's not a focusing coil."

There was a beat of silence, then Kel spun to look at him, dread pulling at his stomach.



 

Bey'wan and his squad had found their way into what appeared to be the laboratories, and had fought through security forces to a heavily guarded storage unit, from which they recovered parts of an ancient droid. They had high-tailed it towards a maintenance sector to catch a moment of breath. The alarms would sound soon. They would have to make do with what they had, there wasn't any more time.
At that moment, a transmission came through Bey'wan's comlink, garbled nearly beyond understanding.

"Found------core------the-----only-----think----weapon."

The rest of the squad stood guard while the Bothan quickly switched his comlink to transmit. 

"Come again? I did not understand you."

"------in the------looks like-------his office-----evidence of------"

Bey'wan's heart hammered in his chest. "Evidence of what?"

"-----We------the planet------being-----weapon----"

"What are they saying?" Seveny asked.

"I'm not sure," Bey'wan sighed. "Something is interfering with the reception."

He should not tell them unless he is sure. 

Weapon. 

If he understood them correctly...the planet itself being turned into a weapon? It was not possible.
But then he remembered all the intel he'd gathered thus far, everything he'd seen: the crews, the materials, the secrecy. And Ilum was no ordinary planet, it was dense with kyber crystals. 
Kyber crystals.
Kyber crystals powered the Death Star's laser.

He mashed the transmit button again. "Kel, abort, abort the mission! This is what we came for! It's time to leave.....Kel?"

Silence on the line. Then a sudden burst of noise, a roar on the other side, a crack of static. The connection went dead.

"...Kel? Kel, come in...Captain Kel...Hunter Team, respond...please respond..."

Rorgarr and Seveny stared at him with empty expressions. All three of them knew.

There had been no alarms, but the doors had sealed behind them. The base didn't know they were here, but someone did.

There was a crackle on Bey'wan's comlink, and he startled. 

The image of a man in Imperial uniform appeared above the device, grim features and a mocking scowl.

"Welcome to my base. I hope you've found what you were looking for?"

Bey'wan kept silent, staring at the image. They had been played. They had been allowed to get this far for, what, a game?
He should have known. Intelligence was his job.

He had failed the others. He had failed Admiral Yima. 

He wished he could see him now, tell him he was sorry, tell him he wished he had listened. The planet's darkness had clouded his judgement, his bravery had led him into a trap. And not only him. 

The other soldiers gawked at the hologram.

"I hope you understand, you will not be leaving this place."

Blood pounded in Bey'wan's ears. There had to be a way out of this.
He looked up and around the tunnels, looking for the telltale signs of a thermal vent access. If they could climb one of the tunnels exposed to the surface, they could blast their way out. It could work. They could salvage this mission, he could get the survivors home.

"Farewell," said the officer, and his tone turned mocking and cruel. "May the force be with you."

There was a roar, growing in strength and volume from further in the tunnel. Bey'wan turned with the others to see bright red light racing toward them, and the durasteel shook around his feet. Sweat dripped from his snout, his eyes went wide. 

They were too late.

Bey'wan Pw'tua shouted with fear as the howling fury of dark energy swept the tunnel, every surface scored and burned clean.



Continued...

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Thanks for looking.

Edited by RocketBoy

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The lighting really does work so well in this build - great work on such atmospheric shots.

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Beautiful shot - does feel a bit smoke and mirrors when the moc isn't shown in its entirety... 

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Theres certainly some mystery in this build, looks good!

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Simple but fully effective! The lighting and camera shots definitely add a lot to the atmosphere of the build.

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