Dauntless - Star Wars SI (2024)

39:03:10 GrS (4 ABY)
SSD-E Shadow Fury, Realspace near the Forest Moon of Endor, Endor System, Moddell Sector, Outer Rim Territories, Galactic Coordinates H-16

"SF-3724 hurry the kark up, you stinking Huttlet! Get your slimy ass on this landing craft! NOW!!" A scout trooper ran up the board ramp. He came to halt before his sergeant, the hard equipment case in his left hand almost slamming into his NCO's right greave. He came to rigid attention and made a perfect salute.

"SF-3724 present, Sergeant!" Already seated in the Sentinel class, Nash chuckled to himself.

"Something funny, SR-7092?" Nash swiveled to look at the Sarge, a dark memory swirling in his mind. If only I was just that much faster, Zak would still be alive. The whole gang would still be here. We'd be living like kings. If only.

"Yes Sarge. I was just contemplating how SF-3724 would react if he arrived late in a firefight and found no one but our bloodstained corpses." The shuttle went silent but for the humming of the machinery. The Sarge walked over to Nash, the blank vizors of helmets staring at one another.

"What in the karking galaxy taught you this nerfsh*t?" Nash took a breath and let out his answer in a low tone; almost a whisper.

"The bloody corpse of a friend." Sarge nodded in understanding and backed up, returning to his position in front of the belated trooper.

"If I ever catch you being late again, I will personally throw you out of this shuttle when we are ten clicks up. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?" shouted Sarge, his voice louder with every syllable. The trooper bent backwards as Sarge got in his face, and it took a moment for him to regain his bearing.

"Loud and clear Sergeant!" Sarge shook his head with disgust.

"Get to your seat, WORM!" The trooper came to attention, saluted, and scrambled to his seat. Sarge brought his wrist comm to his vocalizer and tapped it once. As if on cue, the boarding ramp folded up and the hatch sealed shut. Pilot knows his nerfsh*t. That's a good sign.

"We're ready for take off, pilot. Get us goin'. We got insurgents to kill." And with that, the landing craft lifted off and away, joining a fleet of identical vessels protected by swarms of TIE starfighters. They streamed out of the main hangar bay, heading towards the verdant forest moon at flank speed.

1.2 km southwest (227°) of the Imperial Communication Center, Far Side of the Forest Moon of Endor, Endor System, Moddell Sector, Outer Rim Territories, Galactic Coordinates H-16

Nash ducked down just before he heard the distinct supersonic crack of a slugthrower rifle. Karking rebels, co*cksuckers took out the comms station already. And now they have shooting positions behind cover and the high ground. Just my karking "luck".

"Chaz." he whispered. There was no response. Nash glanced up to see what Chaz was staring at so intently. What he saw made his blood turn to ice, the familiar dread creeping up towards his mind. Chaz was no more. His body was slumped forward with his face in the ground, hands still gripping the macrobinocs as if he were spotting for targets. The back of his forest camo helmet was bloody carnage, a gaping hole from which blood and brains oozed past the jagged white edges of his skull. A thin stream of blood was slowly making its way down his destroyed helmet. Nash felt his breathing pick up, he could hear his heart pounding in his chest. He blinked, trying to regain focus.

But he wasn't there anymore. Nash glanced around wildly trying to figure out where he was. And there he lay. Zak. His face was pale, splattered with his own scarlet blood. Hands clawing at his guts, trying to stop them from falling out of the gaping wound in his lower chest.

"He-help. He-he-help me. Na-Na-sh."

Nash froze, terror locking his muscles and joints. He couldn't move. The sounds of blaster fire and explosions, interspersed with the shouting of his swoop gang buddies seemed so far away. He felt his heart thumping in his chest as Zak reached out to him with a blood soaked hand.

"Do-don't l-l-leave me. Na-Nash. Do-don't l-l-leave me he-here."

Nash blinked again, trying to snap out of his worst nightmare. It only got worse. He watched Zak's face shift, fear replaced hate. A strange red glow filled his eyes. His dying friend rose to his feet and shuffled towards him, his right arm outstretched as his left hand desperately clawed at his guts.

"Why did you leave me here to die alone?" he screeched, the harsh dissonance of steel against steel. Nash began walking backwards as his dying friend shuffled towards him, guts dragging beside him as he tried to pull at them. Zak was a bloodsoaked cadaver, his swoop leathers shredded, shrapnel sticking out of exposed skin, the massive gaping wound where his abdomen should be.

"We were blood brothers! We were your family! We took you in when you had no one, nothing!"

"Yet you betrayed us! You ran when we needed you the most! You left us to be slaughtered, cut down by the sluglickers!"

"Bu-But you were dead. You all died. I saw your bodies. I buried them myself. No. No. NO. You're dead. This isn't real. You aren't real." Zak advanced on him and his vision faded to darkness.

"Traitor! Coward! Weakling!"

He couldn't see his dying friend anymore but he could feel his presence, all the hate and rage emanating from him. He felt others too, everyone from his swoop gang. Everyone who died in that dusty town on Doniphon. Every single Blood Rider. Except him. The Betrayer, the Weakling, the Coward. The voices grew in strength, as every one of the fallen added theirs to the chant.

"Traitor! Coward! Weakling!"

"Traitor! Coward! Weakling!"

"Traitor! Coward! Weakling!"

"You're all dead. DEAD. DEAD AND BURIED! I BURIED YOU ALL ON DONIPHON! I DUG EVERY GRAVE MYSELF. EVERY. SINGLE. GRAVE!"

"No Nash. You may have buried our physical bodies here on Doniphon but we will always be with you. Until you atone for your sins. Your cowardice. Your failure. Your betrayal."

"Atone?"

"Yes Nash. You must atone for what you failed to do that day in that dusty dirthole on Doniphon. So I suggest you start. NOW." Nash blinked again and it was all gone. He was back. Yet not a moment had passed. The stream of blood on the back of Chaz's helmet was still scarlet, still in the same spot it had been. Was this all just a hallucination?

"You must atone."

Nash barely heard it. A whisper in the wind. But he knew what he had to do. Drawing on their hate, their rage, their anger, Nash drew it all into himself. All their hate, the anger, the rage; a raging inferno within his heart. He instinctively flicked the selector on his DTL-19 to automatic and co*cked the charger. Rage clouded his vision as he released the monster within him, the hounds of war buried deep in his soul, the raw animalistic fury he had suppressed. With a animalistic howl, he surged out of cover towards the insurgent-held comms station. Blaster bolts sailed past him, around him, hovered over his head as he sprinted towards a large moss covered rock. But there was no fear anymore. Just hate. Rage. Fury.

"FOR THE BLOOD RIDERS! DEATH TO THE ENEMY!"
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THE ABOVE IS NON-CANON AND A FIRST DRAFT THAT WAS LATER DELETED.

-Black Dragon

Dauntless - Star Wars SI (2024)
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