Laws of the Political Machine [Corran; 12 ABY]


#276678 (In Topic #16658)
Garrett sat in a rather boring and non-descript room in the NRI Headquarters on Coruscant.  That was really the problem with this place.  They tried to make it seem like nothing.  No pictures.  No names.  No nothing.  Just…a taupe color on the walls.  For normalcy.  For boredom.  The entry to the  agency itself was the only place that seemed to have grandeur.  Well, for good reason.

The light above the door turned green.  He might have heard a click, but he couldn't really tell.  For all the computing and electrical nature, there was still some mechanical nature to the locks on these doors.  It opened.  A heavyset man Garrett had rarely dealt with walked in followed by a well built man he could hardly associate with the NRI.  He just held himself as military.  Garrett kept himself sitting, "How was the weekend?"

The man shrugged, plopping himself down into the chair next to  Garrett.  "It was about normal."  With a sigh he continued, "Wife made me do the usual work for free, you know how it is.  Anyway…"  He gestured at the man that followed him, took a seat across from him, next to Garrett as well.  "Meet Commander Corran Antilles.  Sure you've heard of him."  

Garrett could only raise an eyebrow.

"Rogue Squadron?" the man asked.

"Not my field," Garret politely answered, raising his hands in surrender.

"Fair enough," he answered.

"Don't get me wrong, I've heard of Rogue Squadron," Garrett answered.  "Even a few big names from it.  They just had to die first.  You guys are good at keeping your secrets."

"Ahh…fair enough…"  Corran turned to the heavyset man, "So, why am I here?"

"Pretty simple.  One system.  One planet.  Aeten II.  We could only ever establish a listening outpost on it," the agent responded.

"So?" Corran responded as if that nothing to do with him.

Garrett tilted his head in suspicion.

The agent waved his hand quickly, trying to get Corran to be quiet so he could explain.  "They're a part of the New Republic but not wholly a part of the New Republic, so we couldn't just dive right in."  He shrugged tacitly, embarrassingly, "All we can do is listen.  Officially."  Garrett just grins, "Yea, he can explain it just a little bit more later."  He sighed, "But for now…"

Garrett, "Look Corran, I'm NRI.  They can order me.  They don't try to pull someone like you unless they're desperate…"

The man sighed, "She went dark a week ago.  Last message said she had the intel.  Mission is to extract her and the intel.  Period.  Full stop.  Forget diplomatic relations.  Garrett knows intel relations, you both know how to do the fighting, and you both can support each other if necessary."

"Entry?" Corran asked.

"Forget subtlety, orbital drop.  Do subtlety after you hit the ground if you need to." the man answered.

"Well, ok,"  Garrett answered.

"You still really haven't explained why you need me…" Corran answered.

"I've got a dark agent whom I've got no clue where," the handler answered, sighing as he rubbed his temples.  "Honestly your skills aren't special except for your abilities to maybe find her.  She's been out of contact for a week.  By the time you get there and drop and find her it'll be another week.  We can pin her down to her normal normal work building, but…well…big building."  He shrugged, "This is an emergency intel extraction, including her."

"Huh…" Corran sat there in thought for a second.  "Rules?"

"Three levels," the handler answered.  "If you can keep it down to stealth, there's no blasters.  Or Garrett can show you the stealth blasters of course.  Medium will be just blasters so the local government can't associate you with who you are.  High is where you're forced to pull you're lightsaber."

"That works," Corran answered.

Garrett walked into the break lounge on the Marian Star a cup of coffee in hand, and took a seat at the table across from Corran.  He took a sip, "So, more what you're used to seeing on the inside?"

"Seeing special forces now," the man answered nonchalantly as he took a drink from his own mug.  "Will admit, the look of a merchant flyer was interesting."

"For operations like ours," Garrett smiled.  "Ever have to eject from your X-Wing in atmo?"

"Once, yes," he winced.  "Not my most pleasant experience.  The air kinda just hits you like a wall."

"Well, I've done this once," he gave an awkward shrug.  "This one was back in my new days.  Feels about the same when its for a stealth entry.  Our drop pods break apart at about twenty thousand meters.  We do a high altitude drop.  To them it looks like a mess of technology falling."

"Then we 'chute in?" Corran asked.

"Pretty much, yea."  There was a beep on Corran's comm, followed quickly by Garrett's.  They pulled them up and looked them up.  "Well, huh.  Detailed briefing in a few minutes.  Just enough time for a fresh cup of coffee."  He got up and walked toward the coffee machine.  As he poured himself more, he continued, "You've done it yourself, just not on purpose.  Let's just say this will be a new experience in that fashion."

Corran gave a slow nod as he looked at Garrett, "Purposeful high altitude drop, who could possibly want to do that?"

Garrett chuckled with a smirk, "That's why the call us crazy."

They got up and headed to the briefing room.  Well, if it could be called a briefing room.  It was really a walk next door.  The break room wasn't secure.  The briefing room was.  Some things they could talk about secure information in, some things they could't.  After Thrawn's campaign using cloaking technology, some parts of the military took more severe protocols, when others didn't have to.  It all just depended on what you had to know and when.

They sat down at a simple table as the ship commander, a Captain, followed them in.  It was a simple, rather drap room, if sizable, designed to fit a few sqads a time.  But then, this ship could only launch a few squads at a time.  Logistics.

"Alright," the Captain said.  "I will state ahead of time that you two are not the most unique mission I've coordinated, but you are one of the more unique teams."  He smiled.  "But, aside of that, fairly normal," he dropped hilariously legitimate paper files in front of them that could be shredded on their way out of the room.  "Basic idea, you pick your weaponry, you pick your method, NRI has briefed you on your target, and I'm hear to brief you on insertion and extraction…"

An hour and a half later, they walked down the last hall of the Marian Star, bags of gear and heavy parachutes over their shoulder.  They'd spent about an hour pulling things off the shelf, bagging them.  Some of them were standard.  Others were more exotic.  The exotic weapons were non-lethal dart pistols they could get past the building's security.  A pretty simple set up really.  Garrett brought along two extra things.  As they walked, he handed one of them to Corran, "Here's a bare bones surgery kit.  Not really anything more than a set of scalpels and a resonance scanner."

"For emergencies?" he asked.

"Yea," Garrett muttered awkwardly.  "I've got one too.  Protocol for hiding the intel will have her literally hide it up her nose.  No search of her pockets to reveal it, as such."

"However, if she dies…" Corran said, starting to fill in the blanks with a sort of grim look.

"I take first stab at it," Garrett answered.  "Sick pun intended.  If I take a hit, that's what your kit's for."

"If she makes it back, there's the nice way?"

"Exactly," he shrugged.  "It's a risk.  We might not be able to take the weight she's not carrying herself, so…"

"I hear you…"

"Not your most pleasant job?" Garrett asked as he bagged it and they got going again.

"There are interesting details," he answered.

They got to the launch chamber for final preparation.  There were a pair of the New Republic Army's men waiting for them to give aid with final preparations.  That was to say, the bags of gear and clothing, the parachutes, the helmets, the oxygen tanks, it was all pretty intricate when it came down to it.  All so they could be strapped into the drop pods just-so, for them to break up in lower atmosphere without they themselves falling apart or losing their gear.  Spec Ops had this down to a science and an art.  Garrett and Corran just did what they were told and moved where they were told to move.

"Gentlemen," a voice came through their helmets after they'd been put into the drop pods.  "This is Tech Sergeant Zim.  I will be with you until your pods break apart.  We are currently in high orbit.  The pods will break at twenty five thousand meters after feigning a lost orbit.  This gives you about a five K drop before you take a high altitude opening for your 'chutes.  You both are marked to see each other through the helms, night or day to link up.  Questions?"

"None from me," Garrett answered.

"None," said Corran.

"Alright, then," he continued.  "That vibration you've been feeling is just the launch pod rockets literally powering up.  You'll literally be released in a few seconds and break orbit with us."

"We start falling then, if I'm not mistaken?" Garrett asked.

"Exactly," he answered.  "Breaking off our orbit and falling.  The numbers put you over the target landing area at about zero three hundred local time."  There was a loud band through the ship, followed by an even deeper vibration as they seemed to pick up a little bit more speed.  "There we go.  I'll be with you, letting you know what the burns are as they happen."

"Copy that," Corran answered.

For two hours they went through various burns and slight course changes, keeping their orbits just slightly dropping from the ship, as if something went wrong for a satellite around the planet.  Or a micro-meteor hit something.  Not altogether abnormal.  It was something that was budgeted for.  It was thus something the special forces played into.  The rockets burned again.  "Alright guys," Zim announced.  "That was the last course change.  In 30 seconds the pods will break apart.  Atmo will hit you in what will feel like a brick wall.  You got your chutes, bags, and tanks strapped tightly to you, here's the advice of the day.  Get into a dive as fast as you can to get out of the debris, then take it like a normal skydive.  This is the Marian Star signing off."

The timer was at eighteen and counting.  Garrett waited, taking slow breaths as he felt his heart beat a little faster.  Ten seconds.  Another breath.  Five seconds.  He took the breath in and held it this time.  No real need to with the tank.  But sheer habit or maybe even a little bit of fear.

There was a series of small explosions.  Ten?  Fifteen?  He couldn't tell.  They were that small and there were that many, and the pod literally shattered.  The atmosphere hit him like a brick wall knocking the wind out of him.  He gasped for air as he tried to get into a dive as bits of debris scattered around him.

Chance favors the prepared mind.
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