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Thread: Formation

  1. #1

    Complete Formation

    Time was malleable. Or at least, the perception of time was. A chronometer would tick consistently the same way again and again, but human emotion colored in the lines between this constant. Time often passed too quickly when everything went the way you wanted it to go. It slowed down to treacle when the galaxy crumbled at your feet.

    A glancing hit from a proton rocket had shattered her port-side solar wing, sending Railla Cyer's TIE fighter into a terminal tumble. That was what she knew. But it didn't cause panic. Instead, time slowed in that peculiar way which allowed for unusual clarity of awareness. She was out of control, and that very fact was beyond her control. The cool realization that she would likely die wasn't met with panic breaths or a fruitless shout in the void. Instead, Railla took internal stock of what had brought her to this moment, and what she should devote time to thinking about before the next shot destroyed her outright.

    She thought about her mother and father, trying not to derail herself over wondering how many other doomed pilots fell back on thoughts of their parents. Railla wished she could spend her last moments in perfect reflection, thinking about a life full of the kind of things that caused time to race past fallible human perception. It had been like that, once. But her mother and her father had drifted apart in a galaxy-wide chasm that opened up between them.

    Before she lost consciousness, the only thing Railla felt was anger. Anger at knowing there was something very important in her life that was taken away from her, and now it was too late to reconcile the loss.
    Last edited by Railla Cyer; Jan 18th, 2020 at 12:02:13 AM.

  2. #2
    Awareness came back in hazy incremental moments. Railla felt warmth, along with an unnatural lightness. Her mind was drifting too slowly to piece together the stimuli, much less to fathom that she wasn't dead as she expected to be.

    Patient's heartbeat and alpha wave patterns are accelerating. She is conscious.

    A disembodied voice, tinny and harsh, sounded in Railla's ears. She snapped her head left and right to triangulate the source, only to watch a stream of bubbles rise in front of her vision and catch the fringes of her hair swaying in what had to be a bacta tank. Now she was beginning to understand her surroundings. Her breath quickened.

    Beyond the transparisteel cylinder, a black and grey automaton moved on spindly legs, watching her with cool white oculars. She'd been in enough sick bays to recognize a Two-OneBee unit.

    SK-4202, can you hear me?

    Railla fought against the fog in her brain, struggling to recollect. That designation. It was her. She nodded.

    You have been in medical reconstruction for two days. Another day is required to rectify your injuries.

    She looked down at the comment, and wished she hadn't. Synthflesh grafts hugged her legs and abdomen, likely placeholding over shrapnel injuries. The skin over her right hand looked puckered and raw only the way a severe burn could look. The sensation of a throbbing ache rattled down to her bones, and Railla had to wonder how much of that feeling was genuine, and how much of it was psychosomatic at seeing her own wounds. She wasn't exactly squeamish about blood and things like that, but she definitely couldn't linger on a gruesome sight for long.

    Railla cleared her throat, hearing the sound in her ears reproduced over the same vox the Two-OneBee unit was also speaking through. Which meant she could talk back.

    "Droid," her voice was slightly hoarse and the Jelucani accent she usually tried hard to conceal was annoyingly present in her own ears, "where am I?"

    You are aboard the Star Destroyer Admonisher.

    The Two-OneBee unit was stingy with his answer. The why's and how's were lacking. To anyone who didn't grow up an Imperial, this kind of conservative response might be frustrating, but it felt perfectly reasonable to Railla. The droid had an excess of personality, however, and replied with further unsolicited information.

    You will be debriefed shortly.

    Dark eyes flashed concern. Debriefed, in this state? She was at least in modest enough bindings, but it wasn't the concern over decency that gave her pause. It was the urgency in which her debrief was apparently needed. Surely someone else from her squadron could have been reached about their mission.

    Realization hit her in that moment, like the ghostly sense of loss of an amputee and their phantom limb. She'd seen them all get shot down. Every last one of them.

    She was alone.

  3. #3
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    Commander Valtross stood outside medbay for a long moment before he entered. Normally he didn't do this sort of thing himself, but Captain Ragnus gave orders and his XO obeyed.

    Ord Trasi was a mess. It was a damn shame, really. The shipyard had been purposefully crippled during the attack - it would be months before ships would be built there again.

    The commander straightened his uniform and walked into the medbay.

    There were officers down on the shipbuilding platform investigating what had happened with the survivors. Quite a lot of survivors. The TIE units had not been as lucky, taking heavy losses in the initial assault. The pilot here in the bacta tank -

    Commander Valtross grimaced at the sight of her. Perhaps it would have been better for her to have died in the black, with the rest of her squadron. Still, the bacta was doing its work.

    What is her name again? Ensign Cyer.


    He stood in front of the tank, hands behind his back, and nodded at the 2-1B.

    "You may speak to her, she is awake."

    "Ah, fantastic. Uh, Ensign Cyer, apologies for disturbing your healing, but it is imperative that we gain as much intel as we can about the attack on the shipyards."
    Last edited by Bette Davis; May 1st, 2019 at 09:38:37 PM.

    yo ho yo ho a pilot's life for me

  4. #4
    Railla balled up her fists slightly. The burned hand hurt to fully close, but the pain was refreshingly sobering.

    "I understand." Her voice came through the vox with a coreward accent that she intentionally used to wash her Jelucani origins away. The man on the other side of the glass hadn't given a name, but she wasn't that fresh out of the academy. All it took was a glance at the commander bars on the jacket to understand what was happening.

    "The station alert went up at the same time the shooting started. There was no perimeter warning. By the time we were in the hangar bay, it was already a combat zone."

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    The commander looked around for a place to sit, but there wasn’t a convenient seat.

    ”You are on board the ISD Admonisher, and I am Commander Valtross,” he said belatedly. “We received the distress call from the shipyard but by the time we arrived the attackers were long gone. Your TIE was badly damaged in the fight. I was hoping you could shed some light on what ships were involved... tactics... anything?

    ”We are investigating the scene at the shipyard, but the outer defenses were practically demolished. We don’t think it was the Alliance - they’re not stupid enough to break the peace.”

    He realized he was starting to ramble, and shut up, waiting for the pilot to speak.

  6. #6
    "They weren't Alliance," Railla confirmed with clear certainty in her voice, "I'm not sure who they were at all. By the time my squadron had scrambled, the enemy was already boarded."

    Railla wasn't looking at Commander Valtross now. Her eyes were focused on something that only existed in her head, making quick left-right motions as she intensely recollected the fight.

    "They launched some kind of droid weapon platforms from a mother ship. We massed for a counteroffensive, but they..."

    Her jawline tightened behind the mask as her eyebrows knit.

    "Caught us in a crossfire at grid zero. Cut us to pieces."

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    Valtross pulled up a picture on his padd, turning it around to face the baca tank.

    ”These droids, did they look anything like this?”

    A large, animal-like droid with four legs was pictured on the padd. It bristled with weapons, and there was a small figure beside it for scale. It could probably carry two or three human-sized passengers with ease on its back.

    From what they’d gathered from preliminary investigations, there was a chance these were invaders from the independent system of Mandalore. A stupid move from a (for the most part) quiet system, but there was no arguing with the armored beings the technicians were babbling about on the shipyard.

  8. #8
    "That's them, I think."

    Railla studied the image carefully, then closed her eyes.

    "It was difficult to get a close look. Definitely four legs. Moved fluidly, like an animal. Not like an AT unit. The weapons look about the same, with head mounts for anti-fighter batteries."

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    “What about the ships?”

    Commander Valtross looked over his shoulder, surprised to see a red-haired female sitting on one of the medbeds. She stood up, smoothing her plain black uniform. No insignia or pips were visible, but he recognized her.

    He narrowed his eyes at her intrusion, but turned to Ensign Cyer and nodded. “What can you tell us about the ships themselves?”

    He had several images of ship types known to be used by the Mandalorians, ready for the Ensign to confirm, but held them in reserve.

  10. #10
    The TIE pilot pored through her vivid memory, trying to filter the chaos and fresh fear to distill the dispassionate details. The stream of bubbles from her mask slowed slightly.

    "Two ships. Corellian make. Corvettes maybe. No larger than frigate class. We didn't get a detailed commscan before the station's sensor array went out, so it was all on visual."

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    "Corellian ships?" Valtross had been just about to hold up the padd to her eyeline again, but kept it tucked under his arm. The presence of Corellian ships didn't rule out the Mandalore system, but it wasn't what he'd been expecting.

    "Would you recognize them if you saw them again?" The red-haired agent took a step forward.

    Commander Valtross pressed his lips into a hard line, but didn't interrupt. He'd been about to ask the same question.

  12. #12
    Railla met Valtross's eyes, then diverted to the unfamiliar face in the room.

    "I would recognize them."

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    “Good, that’s good.” Valtross nodded. “Is there anything else you remember about the attack? Tactics, anything?”

    He pursed his lips. “No detail is too small, Ensign.”

  14. #14
    Railla tried to piece together anything material from the maelstrom in her memory.

    "They hit the Golan platform first, striking the major gun emplacements in one sector. One of the frigates closed distance into that sector at ramming speed..."

    Realization creased her face as she worked out the small amount she had seen and what disparate information she had from other sources.

    "...to clear it from effective cover and open the shipyard to direct assault."

    It was brazen and reckless. Some ships could properly reinforce to endure a carefully-timed ramming maneuver, but aside from those exceptions, it was exceedingly dangerous to do so. Still, one other thing struck her as odd.

    "Aside from a pair of shuttles, I detected no other enemy contacts beyond the weapon platforms and the frigates. There was no fighter support."

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    “They rammed the Golan?” Valtross blinked. “That explains why we found the wreckage orbiting the larger moon. Small mercies the raiders didn’t just shove it down to Ord Trasi proper.”

    He shook his head at the mental image, and looked over his shoulder toward the agent.

    She was gone.

    Blasted Intelligence operatives,
    he thought, turning back to the ensign.

    ”You’ve got a little longer in the tank, Ensign, the OneBee will fill you in on that. We’re going to need you back in a cockpit sooner than the shrinks would like.” Valtross sighed. “It’s a hell of a thing to ask after ...but the Empire needs you to keep your head in the game.”

    He couldn’t figure out how to extricate himself from the room. Saying dismissed was ridiculous when he was the one leaving.

    ”Carry on then, Cyer.” He nodded, and turned on his heel and stalked out of the room. The Captain was going to need to hear this information as soon as possible.

  16. #16
    "Sir." She responded, as much a sound born of desperation as it was a farewell. Here she was caged and shut-in. A day might as well feel like ten years. She could hardly think about sleep having just come out of her stupor, and the dull ache in her body would've prevented it even if she tried.

    Railla was left alone with Two-OneBee and her thoughts, ranging from the obsessive ordering of every scrap of memory from her last battle, to the feelings that she now had to face when the shooting was over. Now there was time to confront her rage, temper it, and focus it. That was what the Empire demanded. Comrades die, and those who carry on avenge them. She lived and breathed the philosophy in the academy. This wasn't the first time she'd lost a squadmate, but it was the first time she'd lost them wholesale. The difference was substantial. In the TIE Corps, you understood that the the formation was more vital than the individual. Now, Railla was a squadron of one.

    She had a lot of time to think about it. Left alone, she did little else, her hands miming the actions of stick and throttle as she ached to return to flight.


    The Next Day

    The bacta had scarcely been dried away before Railla was back in her duty blacks. She was still sore, and her right hand was especially tender as she guided it into a flight glove. If it bothered her, she didn't mention a bit of it to Two-OneBee. Instead, the Ensign simply procured a nutritive from the rations cubby in the infirmary and promptly exited on her way to the flight deck.

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    Ensign Cyer!

    Behind her in the passage a red-faced ensign was jogging up. Im supposed to show you to your temporary quarters aboard the Admonisher.

    Coming up alongside her, he slowed down, held up a finger and caught his breath. After a moment he put his hand out to shake.

    Im Ensign Kim. Please, this way? He indicated the way hed come, away from the starfighter bays.

  18. #18
    At least with a fellow Ensign, Railla didn't have to roll over for rank. She ignored the offered hand, pushing a strand of curly hair that had escaped her cap away from threatening to encroach at her face.

    "I'm just out of a bacta tank, and you want to give me quarters?" The Jelucani affectation in her voice rose, adding a twang to her vowels and sanding down the r's into vestigial things. "I'll have time to sleep when I'm dead! Where's the officer of the deck? I have to get on flight rotation!"

    Behind Kim, Railla could see the racks of TIE fighters standing vigil in the vaulted hangar bay. She shifted her feet, cinching up her gloves with impatient energy. The fresh zap of pain from the raw skin of her hand helped to center her again.

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    Ensign Kim gaped at her. Im sorry but these are my orders. And yours!

    He stood between her and the flight deck. The fighter complement is full on the Admonisher. Youre only here because the shipyard is partially inoperable due to the attack. Please. This way?

    As he edged around, trying to keep her headed off, a woman in a flightsuit with a commander rank walked out of the hanger. She tucked a strand of dark hair behind an ear as she took in the scene in front of her.

    You must be Railla Cyer, she said. Looking at Ensign Kim she narrowed her eyes. Ill handle this, youre dismissed.

    He sighed and walked away, leaving the two women in the passage. The commander looked Cyer over.

    Im Commander Davis.

  20. #20
    "Ma'am." The inner rim properness returned to her speech in an instant.

    She couldn't stand at attention in a bacta tank, but she could now. Instinctively she swiped the brim of her cap to push the edge down to her eyes before drawing into crisp posture. Commander Davis wasn't the Officer of the Deck, that was certain. From the cut of her flight suit, that meant squadron leader. What did it mean that Railla's name preceded her? She hoped it meant that sooner rather than later, she'd be on point again.

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