Valerie Soung, Baramour Bunker, Malachor V
It was hard to tell if whatever that was down the stairwell was alive or not. I suspected a droid, but best to be careful. I directed one of the soldiers to come over and shine a light on it directly. We were making too much noise and putting out too much light to remain hidden anyway.
The soldier pointed his rifle over the railing down to where I was pointing. I saw the form of a man less than two meters in height laying on the landing below. I could see the ribs move in tandem with the breathing sounds that seemed to reverberate in the walls. It was also bleeding from numerous open sores across its body that pooled around it.
Well, I was sent here to kill everyone inside the bunker, and this thing certainly seemed to be alive even if I couldn’t sense it very well with the Force. I was debating how best to proceed when with a sudden swipe of its arm, it took out the stairs we were on.
I found myself suddenly falling towards this thing below me as it reared up for the attack. I blocked the punch towards my chest with a swing of my leg, neatly knocking me to the side instead of on top of the thing. Rolling quickly, I braced my arms against the wall and shot my feet into it’s chest with all the strength I could muster.
I felt the bones in it’s ribs give as my feet went right through them and pushed the creature out into the corridor. By this point the soldier that fell with me recovered and was opening fire with the heavy automatic blaster rifle. More soldiers jumped down from the floor above and were adding their fire to the attack. A pair moved in defensive formation in front of me ready to intercept any counterattack aimed at me.
Leaping to my feet, I couldn’t see anything through the mass of powered armor rushing into the room ahead of me. I could hear the roar of blasters and the sound of heavy collisions. Pushing my would be defenders aside, I headed into the room as well. The place was spacious, easily 30 meters on a side with a ceiling nearly 10 meters up. Had I really fallen that far? It didn’t seem like it.
The battle was raging between the soldiers and the creature. The soldiers were trying to keep it at range with massive firepower while it tried to close to hand to hand at every opportunity. I could tell the powered armor was the only thing keeping the soldiers from getting annihilated as it had unnatural speed and strength.
Blood, or something that looked like it was flowing profusely from it’s body now. The creature was visibly getting smaller as it lost more and more mass.
Virstris was engaging the thing in hand to hand herself. Her attacks with a vibroblade were slowly crippling it as she systematically was trying to severe muscle and tendons. The creature was definitely stronger than she was but her armor was faster and her skill with the vibroblade was more than enough to stay ahead of it.
I focused my attention on the battle between the two, leaving the soldiers to watch for any other attackers. My precognition of the creature was giving me only intermittent flashes at best. I found it easier to focus on Virstris and get a feel for her movements before leaping in myself. Accelerating myself, I dove in and smashed my fist into the back of the creature’s knee. I heard the snap of bone and knew it wasn’t mine as the creature tumbled to it’s side.
The creature tried to stand again only to find the broken leg would no longer support it’s weight. Bone tore through skin and muscle as the fracture collapsed. Armored hands grabbed the creature’s arms and legs and held it down while a soldier pointed an automatic rifle at it’s head and held down the trigger. Soon the whole room smelled of burnt meat as the now headless creature smoked with a quiet hiss.
Three soldiers had received moderate damage to their armor. Droids were busily repairing the damage already. Another soldier had received a concussion when he was flung into a wall and hit his head inside the armor. The squad medic was treating him with some sort of drug cocktail designed to mitigate impairment. Virstris elected to send him and an escort back to the surface while another pair came down to replace them.
(Virstris) Well that was exciting wasn’t it?
(Valerie) I am not sure I would call fighting monsters in dark corridors exciting.
(Virstris) Oh, you’re no fun.
I was ignoring her. My attention was focused on the remains of the creature in front of me. The creature appeared to melt off it’s bones right before my very eyes into a giant pool of blood red liquid. Within minutes all that was left was the red fluid and a broken set of bones. I would say it was probably originally human or a close variant based on the remaining skeleton.
(Kira) Right, definitely not a chimera.
(Virstris) Some kind of modified bacta body perhaps?
(Kira) If that was the case, it held together far longer than I thought possible.
(Valerie) Blood rituals are hard to predict, let alone control. I suspect they were trying to transfer their minds over to it and take control of it using their blood as a medium.
(Kira) Instead losing control and getting consumed by the flesh eating monster they created? Lovely.
I was thinking back to my second fight with Jurin. He had a great deal of control over his form whereas this thing looked to have already been dying by the time we arrived. Different bacta strain or did Jurin prove more compatible with the process? Or was this a prototype that got loose? It would be impossible to know for sure without the relevant research notes.
Looking back at the stairwell we just came down revealed a collapse had blocked access to the bottom floor. Our attacker had probably just facilitated the collapse of the remaining section of stairs in order to attack us. If we wanted to continue down, then we either had to find another way down or start digging.
There were three ways out of this room other than the way we came: North, South, and West. To the West we found the remains of the elevator we saw the top of earlier. It didn’t look like it would be operable anytime soon, especially since we had welded and barred it into place from above.
North looked to be where the floor’s utilities were located. We found a major blood stain next to an access panel that had neatly been sliced by a lightsaber. I guessed that someone had severed the power connection from the floor below in his final moments. No clue as to why though. Perhaps he was trying to disable the security systems or end a lockdown?
To the South we found living quarters and a mess hall. Food was all over the floor of the mess hall like an animal had gone through trying everything and found all of it inedible. Looks like I will be eating military rations for a while longer – not that I’d trust anything I found in a here anyway. A couple of the living quarters showed signs of a struggle with blood on the floor and walls. No signs of any survivors though, although it did give us a rough idea of how many people were living here before disaster struck.
Based on the amount of blood and number of lightsabers we’ve found, I would say there were two people unaccounted for.
That cleared out the second floor of the bunker leaving only the bottom floor unexplored. I was really torn on how to proceed. I was tempted enough to bring enough explosives down here to collapse the entire mountain on top of the floor below us. However that wouldn’t verify if there was any alternate exits that a Baramour could have slipped through. Nor was I looking forward to digging my way into the bottom floor.
Alright, time to rearrange our forces then. Since the stairs to the bottom floor were a mess of rock and steel, we would dismantle the elevator car and open up the shaft to the bottom. Defenses on the floor above would be abandoned in favor of defending the elevator shaft.
I directed Kira to get to work cutting up the elevator and support beams the soldiers had put into place. It was high time he did something on this mission besides watch and make wisecracks.
I was tempted to request a fusion system be brought down here and connected to the power distribution system. It was going to get stuffy in here fast if we didn’t get air ventilating soon. Trouble is, I think the ventilation system itself is on the bottom floor with the rest of the utilities. Compromise then, I requested that some technicians be sent to help evaluate and restore utilities while we pushed down.
Kira got the elevator cut up and the soldiers removed the pieces in short order, although I could tell the heat of the job was hard on him. Learning to hold the environmental tolerance techniques while doing other things was an important lesson to learn.
A trio of soldiers went down the shaft to the bottom first. The initial report was that there was power and lighting on the floor. I leapt down the shaft and joined the soldiers there. I could hear Virstris momentarily protest behind me about it being safer up here, but I paid her no heed. Looking through the doorway, I could see quite a bit of machinery running. I saw what I figured to be a recycling system of some sort. The whole room had a thin mist of steam and condensation covered everything.
Precognition gave me ample warning to get everyone to duck as a barrage of blaster fire shot at where I was just standing. Now had they been clever or experienced, they would have tossed a grenade as part of that. With precognition clouded by focusing on blasters, it was easy to overlook something with a time delay.
Judging from the number of shots that flew over my head and the number of angles they were coming from, I figured we were facing ten to twelve attackers. The majority of them had to be droids to line up with the number of beds we found on the second floor. My Force senses picked up a Force sensitive not too far from my position, but no other life signs nearby. Trying to force our way through was going to be costly.
While I kneeled there pondering this, the soldiers I was with were busily returning fire while requesting support. I could hear Kira over the radio asking about something, but couldn’t understand what. One of the soldiers with me did seem to and was replying back while taking furtive glances through the door.
I was about to smack the man and tell him to concentrate on the enemy when several explosions rocked the room through the door. At the same time, the soldiers at the bottom of the shaft with me leapt through the door and were charging in. As I could sense more soldiers were about to leap down on top of me, I jumped into the room as well prepared to deflect as many blaster bolts as I could.
Surprisingly, no shots came my direction. What little shooting there was quickly died down as the few remaining droids were destroyed. The Force sensitive I detected earlier was found dead from grenade shrapnel. I don’t remember any of the soldiers with me throwing grenades. I was pondering what happened when Kira dropped next to me from the ceiling.
(Kira) That was fun. Idiot thought he had you trapped when really he was the one pinned.
Not wanting to look like I needed things explained to me, I surveyed the room to get an idea of what had happened. Judging from the holes in the ceiling cut with a lightsaber, I gathered Kira had cut holes above the droids and Sith to allow the soldiers to drop grenades down on them. Not bad, shows a level of tactical skill atypical for many Sith who just rush into battle.
Virstris was next to me moments later looking me over for nonexistent injuries. While I appreciate the fact that she takes her duty to the family seriously, I am not some child to be babysat. I will need to speak with her about that after the mission is done in private. Reprimanding her in front of the others will only build resentment towards me and undermine troop discipline. Less than ideal…
Only one Baramour left unaccounted for.
From here, the only egress was the doorway on the far side of the recycling system. The catwalk leading to the door from the elevator looked to be built for heavy equipment loads. I suspected the facility’s fusion system to be on the other side. Once the soldiers were in position on either side of the door, we opened it and soldiers started rushing through.
The room was a steaming mess. I could see the fusion system below the catwalk, and was shocked at the size of it. This thing was big enough to power a major starship and here it was buried underneath a mountain. What in the galaxy did they need this much power for? The steam seemed to be coming from a leak in one of the cooling lines. Curious that such a simple problem hasn’t been repaired already.
We verified no one was in the room and moved on to the next room. This one was suffused with a soft blue glow that came from below the catwalk. Looking down, I saw row upon row of tanks containing blood-red fluid. At the very center of the room was a large round transparent chamber nearly four meters in diameter. Inside it I could see a humanoid figure working some sort of control panel. Not wanting to find out what he was up to, I leapt off the catwalk and ran towards him at full speed. My fist collided with the transparent wall with my full enhanced strength as I tried to break my way through.
I could feel the bones in my arm ringing as the wall only cracked from the blow. Looking through the cracked wall, I could see the humanoid figure was in fact one of the chimeras I fought only days ago. Except this one was dressed like a Baramour Sith and moved with purpose. I did not like the implications of human corpse lying next to it on the floor, or the tubes connected to the chimera’s arms, legs, and spine.
(Chimera) Ah, so you’ve finally arrived. You must be Valerie Soung, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’m afraid you’re a bit late though. The process is quite nearly complete.
Not good, it looked like one of them succeeded at pulling off a possession of a chimera. The one I fought only days ago was little more than an animal with the way it moved and fought. If this one had a full Sith mind, or even Force powers, then I was in for a fierce fight and I didn’t like the odds. The sense of dread I felt only intensified when the chimera pushed a button and the red fluid looking like bacta started flowing into the tubes connected to the chimera.
The chimera began to grow before my very eyes. First the chitin armor began to crack and break. Through the cracks, that red fluid would flow out and fill the crack in before hardening into more chitin. The chitin armor was growing larger as it expanded to accommodate more and more mass underneath. Most of that mass looked to be going into muscle.
(Chimera) Now the fools upstairs tried this very same thing with one of their own bodies. Sadly, the amount of stress on the body and the resulting degradation of the Force pattern appeared to be too much and the whole mess became unstable. Both physically and mentally in fact as the resulting mess went berserk.
(Valerie) And what makes you think turning yourself into some strange abomination is going to help your chances?
(Chimera) Ah my dear, I suspect you’ve already fought the base form of this creature and didn’t fare too well in the battle. Now this one has me to give it intelligence and my Force talents to enhance it even further. I would be quite willing to give you a demonstration in a moment if you will be patient.
As much as I was loath to do so, I pulled out my lightsaber and started trying to cut my way through the wall. I could hear soldiers landing on the floor behind me as they trained weapons onto the chimera. Kira stepped beside me and looked to be pulling his lightsaber out to help me cut. But even with him helping me, I doubted we could get through in time to stop the transformation before it completed. If only we had a…
(Kira) Wait, does anyone have a laser on them?
(Virstris) Yep, second option on the heavy rifles!
(Valerie) Then shoot the monster!
Kira and I turned off our lightsabers and leapt behind the soldiers as the laser fire started. While that transparent wall stopped blaster fire and slowed lightsabers down, it did nothing against light by definition. Laser beams burned the black chitin and the air began to smell of burning flesh. The chimera tried to use it’s arms to block the attacks to no avail.
Suddenly one of the arms darted out and hit a button on the control panel. The transparent wall surrounding the chimera then retracted into the floor. The acrid smoke from the burning flesh escaped and triggered the fire suppression system. The gas spraying everywhere obscured visibility and was blocking laser fire in a most annoying fashion. The soldiers immediately switched to blaster fire as the chimera bolted down one of the rows of tanks.
I took off after it while soldiers on the catwalk above me moved into position to keep firing at the chimera. Behind me I heard the soldiers on the floor split up and follow different rows in an attempt to cut it off.
The chimera was fast, and I could feel the impact of it’s feet through the flooring as it stomped along. Hopefully Virstris was clever enough to position a bunch of soldiers at the entrance to the room to keep the chimera from escaping. Despite my enhanced speed I wasn’t able to gain much ground as it had a longer stride and was enhancing it’s speed as well.
Wait, if it had the benefit of a longer stride and all the Force speed enhancement it could muster was barely keeping ahead of me, then it’s power with the Force was less than my own. Fighting it head to head with brute strength was foolish, but there is more than one way for a Force sensitive to fight.
Telekinetically ripping the tanks ahead of it out of the floor, I started flinging them into the path of the chimera. Recognizing I was trying to block the path and slow it down, the chimera grabbed one of the tanks and flung it at me in a predictable fashion. It didn’t have nearly enough telekinetic control to hope of hitting me like that as I stepped to the side and let the tank sail by me. Formulating a new strategy, it looked like it decided to fight me head on where it’s strength would be a major advantage.
I wasn’t about to let it get close enough to hurt me. I telekinetically flung everything I could pry loose at it. Tanks, flooring, piping, computers, and even pieces of the catwalk. That chitin armor and mass of muscle was deflecting a lot of the force of the blows, but at least it was slowing it down. As tanks shattered, computers broke, and piping tore in half, I telekinetically grabbed the pieces and whirled them into a virtual hailstorm centered on the chimera.
No one piece did much of any damage, but the sheer number of minor pinpricks surely had to wear down on it. Despite precognition, I was caught off guard by the piece of debris thrown up at me. While it didn’t do any damage, it did knock me out of the air and make me drop the telekinesis effect. Falling onto the catwalk, I managed to land on my feet and hands.
The catwalk bounced under me and I knew I had company approaching from behind. Leaping up and grabbing the piping above me, I watched the chimera charge through the area I had just occupied only a moment ago and into a group of soldiers that were coming to my aid. Of the four soldiers involved, two toppled over to the floor below, third looked to be badly trampled, and the fourth was trying to get back up again.
I dropped back onto the catwalk and charged at the chimera. I was hoping to land a breaking kick in it’s back and effectively cripple it. This time I could see the counterattack before it happened, but couldn’t move fast enough to dodge the backhanded swing coming at me. The attack knocked me off the catwalk onto the floor again with my shoulder groaning in protest at the stress of the impact.
Above me I heard sounds of more fighting as soldiers tried to engage the chimera and were defeated. The sound of blaster fire was getting sparser by the moment. I was trying to collect my bearings and get back on my feet when I heard a lightsaber whirling above my head into the catwalk. At first I thought the chimera had pulled a lightsaber to itself telekinetically.
(Chimera) Even for a half trained apprentice, that attack was pitiful. Were you even trying to aim for me?
(Kira) Wait for it.
I heard the sound of metal groaning under duress and got a vision of the scaffold beginning to collapse. Tapping into a bit of precognition and making an educated guess, I sprinted to where the catwalk was about to angle towards the floor. Fortune did not disappoint me as the chimera came sliding down the collapsing catwalk right towards me unable to stop it’s descent straight onto my lightsaber.
I Twirled out of the way and neatly switching the stab into a slicing cut from shoulder to hip as the chimera slid by me. When it hit the floor it nearly fell into two pieces as it was held together only by it’s spine. As it lay there on the ground dying, I finished the job be first severing the spine, then the neck, and finally stabbing through the heart and brain. I watched the remains twitch for a few moments before concluding it was dead.
Kira slid to a halt next to me.
(Kira) I assume it is dead now?
(Valerie) Should be, most things can’t survive having multiple spinal cuts, a missing heart, and a hole through the brain.
(Kira) Most things?
(Valerie) Well, there are some invertebrates and primitive vertebrates that could regenerate from that, but you don’t usually have to fear them.
(Kira) I’ll keep that in mind for the future.
We found Virstris trying to stand in her badly damaged armor. I could feel that she was probably dealing with a couple broken ribs and a wounded leg. I made the call for help to come down and evacuate the wounded. It looked like the armor had prevented anything from being fatal, but quite a few of the soldiers were going to need serious medical attention before being ready for combat again. While medics evacuated and tended the wounded, I called for a demolitions team.
I had the demolitions team set up charges in every room after the technicians had picked them clean. Possessions and blood rituals tended to leave a lasting aura on the area where they occurred that was best to bury as much as possible. I intended to bring the entire mountain down on the place as soon as we left.
The wounded were transported to the Varen compound at the Trayus Academy. The technicians picked the place clean of any items that might be of use including all records and datacards. As an added precaution, I had all organic remains burned before we finally detonated the demolition charges.
I was hoping to see the mountain visibly shrink from the explosion but was disappointed to only see dust come out of the entrance while the ground shook ever so slightly. We had cleaned out all the survivors and verified no one had escaped alive. Not bad for my first real mission leading troops. I could see my sister proving to be a valuable asset in the future if she keeps this level of performance up.