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Filaar Vantell
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re: Quarantine

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0426. Containment Zone Alpha, Mos Gamos.

There was a tense silence in the assault drop ship's cabin. Only the droning of VTOL engines filled the cramped, sweaty interior until one of the shuttle's crew chiefs flashed an open gloved palm displaying all five digits.

Filaar Vantell leaned back into his drop down seat. Unremarkable gray eyes stared blankly forward, he wasn't quite asleep despite the low cast of narrowed eyelids. Seven other Imperial Army commandos huddled together, in the dim red hue of the interior black out lights it was almost difficult to make out where one stopped and the other began. Matt black armor was light and segmented, consisting mainly of a plastoid breastplate overlaid with a load bearing H harness full of various tools of the trade.

The team's faces were obscured beneath visored helmets similar to those issued to scout troopers, however theirs included full rebreathers and polarized lenses which sealed for full biological and chemical protection. Black and gray tiger striped camouflage body gloves were entirely self-contained, the synthweave of the fabric itself resistant to blaster fire. Despite the advanced, no doubt expensive nature of their armor, beads of sweat rolled down Vantell's exposure tanned forehead. The climate control units struggled to compensate for Tatooine's heat; even in the early morning a few hours before the twin suns rose.

The assault transport's side bay doors were closed and sealed, the air was recycled yet still stunk of sweat and tension. Beside Filaar, a brutish shaved headed Corellian set his helmet between pressed kneepads and offered him a hand rolled spice cigar. Jarrax Corto exhaled a plume of the noxious smoke, cocking a smug grin as Sergeant Vantell accepted the offer.

"Old Scarface must really have had his balls in a sodding bind to send us in, eh mate?" Corto's heavy accent drawled, chuckling to him self.

Vantell served with Rycus Kilran when the Grand Moff was still only a Captain during the war, his exploits earning the disputed honor of being part of the Butcher of Coruscant's private security detail. Most preferred the protection of crimson clad Imperial Guardsman, a privilege that flaunted their status and power in the Empire. Kilran, however, opted for the company of the notoriously egotistical and ill disciplined Special Forces. Every truly powerful Imperial officer and politician had their own hatchet men, and Filaar Vantell was his.

“Feh. You don’t know the bloody half of it, chum.” The other sergeant spat, stubbled and unshaven chin shaking as he raked a gauntleted palm back through close cropped and sweat spiked dark hair.



The assault drop ship tore low through the night sky, it’s sleek profile broken only by blistering rocket pods specifically for close air support. Sergeant Vantell took a final drag from Corto’s smoke, grinding the ember out underneath a treaded boot. As he stood, the commando’s lean and athletic build swayed back and forth with the shuttle’s rapid course adjustments.

“Here’s the situation, ladies,” Vantell’s voice was low and gravelly, raw and rough after so many years of barking orders and inhaling carbon smoke. “Taris’s sodding rak epidemic has jumped planet. Who didn’t bloody see that coming,” The commando grunted. “We’ve all humped and sweated that festering shithole, else you wouldn’t be here right now. Six hours ago a containment detachment led by a Sith lord were investigating a report of some kind of mutation in the viral strain and went dark on comms. This entire sand ball is under siege and in chaos, but whatever that team found is vital to High Command. They’re as of now presumed lost, so it’s a priority one retrieval.”

All eyes bore into their team leader, every one of the Imperial killers were hardened veterans of the Empire’s worst brushfire conflicts. Unshaven, armor and uniform kits dirty and unkempt, each exemplified the grudging contempt and respect earned by Special Operations. Usually they deployed in teams of four, an entire squad of eight operators spoke much to the vital nature of this operation. All human male, except for one hard as nails female heavy gunner and her stark opposite, the blonde and surprisingly easy on the eyes medical officer. Their equipment was light and compact, most carried heavily modified blaster carbines, each specced out to their own tastes. Two heavy repeaters provided necessary suppressive support, and a number of weapons had under slung grenade launchers.

“Suit up. Emperor’s balls knows what’s down there, I want all of your heads on the sodding swivel.” Vantell pulled on his own black, battered helmet. It’s enviro lock sealed with a click, and every other commando on the team did the same. They went through a round of radio checks, integrated communications systems worked in conjunction with throat strapped microphones. Everyone did a last minute check of each other’s kits, making sure each strap and armor plate was fastened tight and secure.

Tarn Krast, their communications specialist was already relaying their latest situation report back to Watcher Nineteen, who was safely in the quarantine fleet orbiting Tatooine. The transport’s side doors slide open, a sudden rush of hot desert air blowing through the cabin and revealing the scene below. It was one they were well prepared for, having practiced this deployment and studied aerial reconnaissance maps minutes until boarding the drop ship.

Mos Gamos was a small settlement lacking any major dvelopment, no spaceport and very little civil infrastructure. When the outbreak occurred, these people didn’t stand a chance. The population was a little over two thousand estimated, and how the virus traveled so fast over open desert was one of a hundred questions as yet unanswered. The signs of destruction were obvious even from the air, as plumes of smoke rose high and fires burned unchecked. Everywhere on the horizon were flashes of artillery, explosions and utter chaos as Tatooine desperately fought the infection. No spotlights or landing beacons broke the darkness, as it were the engine wash was bound to attract the ‘raks in droves.

Inside the cabin, the commando team clipped single point slings to webbing mounted carabineers. Two heavy synthlon repelling ropes fell from either side of the open doors, as none of the Imperials were willing to risk their only ride home to a lucky rakghoul leaping on board. Two by two they leaned out and fast roped down, Vantell and Corto were the first to plant boots on the semi paved streets of Gammos. Carbine muzzles snapped up, the black armored troopers not spreading far from each other’s cover as they broke into two teams of four.

The polarized visors of their scout trooper helmets illuminated neon green as night vision activated with an electric hum. The previously dark and foreboding streets were brought into vivid detail, one that would have been better unseen. On most surfaces there were smears of blood and viscera, broken glass littered the ground intermixed with piles of shredded gore left behind by rampaging infected. A few somewhat intact bodies lay twisted, gaping chunks of muscle and flesh torn free by hungry jaws.

The commandos hunkered down as their air support cut the ropes, and broke off into a high orbit of their target area. Index fingers previously resting outside the trigger now curled steadily over it, as adrenaline and the heightened sense of anxious awareness took over. As the drop ship disappeared into the distance, everyone noted the eerie silence of the dead city.

“Gralo, you’ve got Besh.” The special ops detachment broke into Aurek and Besh teams, and began their sweep of the area.


To be continued.
Filaar Vantell
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re: Quarantine

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You’re sodding kidding me,” Corporal Tarn Krast pressed two fingers to his helmet, clearing picking up something on his compact SATCOM unit. “Boss, the containment team’s beacon just went live,” That caught the attention of the three other commandos, who all halted their slow advance through the savagely ravaged street.

“Nut yourself over it later, Krast. We’re waiting.” Vantell’s harsh tone growled, despising even stopping for a moment’s pause with grizzly death waiting to pounce around every corner.

“Orbital pins the location… at the local hospital,” That formerly enthusiastic chirp drained quickly. Every member of the squad groaned, visored helmets shaking disbelievingly.

They all knew what waited at any sort of medical facility during a ‘rak outbreak. Unknowing civilians always brought their infected loved ones immediately to such locations, desperately seeking answers and help. Soon the victims reanimated, and began rampaging through the blood soaked halls. Hot meals aplenty, the clinics soon became a hot zone of wanton carnage and the epicenter of the madness.

“This just gets better and better,” Vantell groaned. “Get Gralo and Besh on comms, relay the good frakking news. We’ll approach from the west, he’ll hold outside the target building while we make our sweep. Bring Lieutenant Ulrick around for a look.” Krast dipped his helmet, relaying the instructions over the net to Besh squad and their assault drop ship. It wasn’t far to their rally point, but every step in the creeping darkness lifted the hair of the back of their necks.




The collapsible stocks of automatic carbines pressed tightly to the commando’s shoulders, fingers white beneath armored gloves as they each scanned their sector of fire. Treaded boots crunched through broken glass, countless sheets of flimsiplast blew down the empty street. Aurek team crept closer and closer to the objective, as the droning howl of VOTL engines swept past overhead. Air support took much of the stress of each soldier, knowing that if things went belly up they at least had a ride home. It was an uncommon luxury among Special Forces units, who tended to operate far behind enemy lines with little support from the rest of the military.

Filaar Vantell panned his visor, neon green illumination revealed every detail of the Mos Gamman citizens final moments. Desperate struggles smeared in blood and gore illustrated the struggles, although very few dragging trails led to torn apart corpses. It was distressing to know most of those who died were staggering around somewhere looking for their next meal. A dark caked blaster lay discarded; the severed hand that once possessed it lay close by.

They didn’t expect to find any survivors this deep in the quarantine zone. Even well supplied individuals would have run out of water quickly in the desert heat, forcing them out into the open to scavenge. The rakghouls were patient monsters, once they picked up a scent or noise trace they would simply linger in the area until something else caught their attention or the sought prey was hunted down. Their lightening fast charges made nothing sort of fully automatic bursts effective, and their cursed ability to climb just about anything overwhelmed even military grade fortifications.

It wasn’t the raks themselves, which were the most disturbing. More and more those infected never actually turned into the creatures, instead they remained in a state of living death; nothing more than walking corpses hardwired to spread the disease to the living. Having your family torn to ribbons were one thing, but watching them slowly drifting into delirium only to die, and suddenly reanimate into a bloodthirsty corpse was another entirely. Most sentient couldn’t do what was necessary; a blaster bolt through the brain, thus fell victims to their closet family and friends. The infected corpses shambled far slower than their predecessors, relying on sheer numbers to overtake any opposition.

The psychological combined with the horrific to create one of the worst epidemics in known history. Imperial and Republic alike scrambled to meet the threat head on, although the Empire saw far more success with it’s harsh containment measures than the liberal Republic. Imperials were simply far more willing to endure the hardships of what it took to survive the plague, while their counterparts made the fatal error of trying to save the infected. There was no saving those once they were bit, and every member of the commando team suffered the loss of comrades with only one little bite or scratch.

“Aurek One, this is Trasher One. We’re got eyes on the hospital – looks like we’ve got survivors holed up inside. Swinging in low for a better look,” Lieutenant Ulrick buzzed over the comms, expertly easing forward the stick to drop the transport into a lower orbit of the objective building. A crimson flare burned on the roof, although the constant brown out from Tatooine’s dust storms made visibility sometimes nearly impossible. Davin Varl, his co-pilot, strained to make out the figures moving on the hospital’s air pad.

“Ul, looks like Imperial uniforms from here, man. They’re frakking waving at us, bring it in a little closer.” Noros Ulrik leaned forward, and saw exactly the same as his partner. There were Imperial troopers on the roof, maybe three or four, with arms lifted and gesturing toward them.

“Alright, everybody keep your eyes peeled. We’re checking it out.” Ulrik decided, dust kicking up under the thrusters as the assault transport drifted closer between the few four story buildings in the small city.

Sergeant Vantell was furious, all but screaming into his own comm. “Goddamnit, negative! Pull up, Ulrik, frakking pull up and resume your sodding altitude!” All he got in return was static, once more the chaos of Tatooine’s besiegement played hell with wireless communication. “Double time, now.” He roared, tearing off into a full sprint with carbine ready as the civil buildings of Mos Gomma finally came into view. Behind him the rest of the team kicked up dust as they all ran at full speed for the hospital, while Krast kept on the line to call their air support off.



It happened so fast. As the assault shuttle settled close to the roof, it’s side bay doors open and the crew chiefs distracted by the prospect of bringing Imperial survivors home; it left them unprepared for attack. Hammering disfigured knuckles and clawed feet into the ground, a pack of slobbering rakghouls pounced their prey.

“By the Emperor, they’re all tore up,” Varl cringed, as what they thought were surviving troopers staggered forward towards the hovering shuttle. Their radio unit crackled incessantly, but only tiny fragments of words made it through. As the two pilots stared in disgust, one of the mutilated troopers simply fell off the roof as it desperately tried to reach the living Imperials.

“All right, frak this, we’re out of here,” Lieutenant Ulrick began, when a very near shriek tore through the transport’s interior. Leaping off out of the nearby shattered windows of the buildings, an entire swarm of raks smashed into the hull. Claws scraped as they hungrily scrambled, flinging themselves into the bay doors and hanging from the repeater cannons mounted inside. Ensign Sorin couldn’t even draw her service pistol quick enough as the first one flew inside, it’s outstretched claws tore out her exposed throat with a spray of gore on the crew served weapon.

Half dozen rabid monsters were inside the cabin in seconds, Crew Chief Struecker snatched up one of the extra assault rifles mounted to the cabin rack. Emerald lances of blaster fire crackled, each shot like a flare itself inside the drop ship. He scrambled backwards, suppressing the trigger and hosing down the charging raks. Superheated energy simply riddled their twisted flesh, dropping two with limbs still twitching in death. “Get us the frak out of – “ His voice cut short, as Struecker turned to take a defensive position outside the cockpit. Behind him, a rakghoul hung upside down from the interior webbing, head tilted so foul saliva dripped down onto the view plate of the Imperial’s helmet. He couldn’t bring the weapon up fast enough, as it pounced him onto his back and right into the thrashing swarm of creatures.

He didn’t die quickly. Razor sharp claws tore chunks of flesh and entrails at will, Struecker’s dying screams were the last thing the two pilots heard before the mob was upon them. Blood sprayed and covered the transparasteel windshield, crimson coating every gauge and readout panel as the rakghouls tore into their latest victims. Death spasming boots slammed into the shuttle peddles, lifeless limbs smacking into the stick as the assault drop ship went into a fatal spin.

Around and around it spun, sheering off the tail completely and plunging the freefalling transport into the side of the hospital. There wasn’t any dramatic explosion as it crumpled in upon itself, bulkheads twisted and snapping, as it slammed through the second story level of the building. The crash was deafening as the walls and floor gave away, swallowing up the wreckage until it finally came to rest halfway into the hospital itself. Vicious smoke plumed out, rolling free from the downed transport as the echo of what happened made it all too clear to those on the ground they were now in a world of shit.

“Oh, frak.” Vantell panted, as they all skidded to a halt mere yards from the hospital and the crash site.
Filaar Vantell
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re: Quarantine

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They didn’t have time to assess exactly how bad their position had just become. SFC Vantell rapidly chopped his gloved palm through the air, silently disbursing the other three commandos into a defensive formation. Decent visibility was a small mercy, outside the hospital building a half dozen smashed and abandoned land speeders provided some less than ideal cover – but cover none the less.

“Krast, anything from Overwatch Actual?” Vantell snarled, relying on the single point sling of his carbine to steady its weight while he pressed two gloved fingers to the side of the matt black scout trooper helmet.

“Neg, boss. I’m not getting frakking dren though this sodding static!” The communications specialist shouted back, reaching behind him to angrily adjust the radio unit.

“Keep trying, mate… even if it gets through when we’re bloody stiff and cold,” It wouldn’t benefit anyone for him to loose his cool now. Activating his wireless, Vantell hailed Besh team. “Gralo, Gralo, this is Vantell. Thrasher One is down, repeat; CAS is down. Rendezvous outside target building, it’s about to get hot, over.”

Jarrax Corto slapped down the bipod of his heavy assault cannon, pressing the stock hard into one massive shoulder and hefting the support weapon to test the wide arc of fire. “Frakking Ulrick… you think any of those stick jockey gits made it?”

“Sod if I know, mate. Something took him down – raks, indigs with frakking rocks. Command isn’t going to chalk another bird unless we’ve got what we came for. Same old story, chum,” It wouldn’t have been the first time the veteran Special Forces team’s mission went belly up out the gate. All four Imperial soldiers crouched tight, each cover the other’s blind spots as they prepared and braced for the worst. Even if their covert insertion hadn’t attracted attention, the drop ship crash practically rang the dinner bell.

“Faust,” Vantell lowered his tone, even though the throat mic allowed everyone else to hear him regardless. “Is it possible the ‘raks set that up?” He whispered to the sultry medical officer, who had her slender back to his.

“It’s… likely, Sergeant,” Claudia Faust’s thick Dromand Kaas accent filled his earpiece. “Xenobiological Division has been uncovering disturbing trends in rakghoul cognitive and problem solving ability. They’ve gotten smarter.”

It was an unsettling thought. The filthy bastards were dangerous enough as mindless killing machines full of infectious virus, but now if they were able to coordinate basic tactics and strategy; it didn’t bode well for the living galaxy. What’s bloody next, ‘raks using the Force?

“Contact, sixty yards. Walkers, sod, lots of ‘em,” Gavin Dowe rasped, flipping open the dust covers of his sniper rifle’s ACOG scope system.

Filaar’s mind snapped back into the moment, the 3x binoc feature of his visor zoomed and magnified the image in luminous neon green. The commando sergeant counted at least sixty of the walking ravaged corpses. Decomposing arms out stretched hungrily, ribbons of torn flesh dangling with each shamble. The vivid clarity of his helmet’s view plate even revealed the stripped down fingertips, bones exposed to form improvised claws.
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