The men of the Beskar Brigade stood up on the ridge, the sun at their backs, it was time to display their skill, their baptism in blood was minutes away.
The Previous Day
Trumole was a resource-rich planet and arms producer for the CIS. And while it was not the most important planet, it did hold value, a rich amount of resources that could aid either side during the galactic conflict. The capital city of Volgaris had been under siege for over two months, beginning even before the Beskar Brigade had begun their special training with Andis on Mandallia.
The bloody fighting led to nothing but a stalemate. When the Republic decided to cut their losses and pull out, Andis saw it as an opportunity to test his men, and he had the Brigade’s fleet set course for Trumole. On the way, Starla shared her research on the background of the planet and the conflict with the troops.
Having landed, they made their way to what was left of the previous occupiers. Andis and Starla approached the Jedi General, Jedi Master Odea Calvinis. Clone Commander Sherman and ARC Captain Jones were following close behind them. Brutal winds whipped around the broken city. The Jedi looked at them, “We’ve been here for two months trying to take control of the city, but all our efforts have failed to take it. I don’t see why they sent another unit.”
“Its simple,” the Mandalorian general grinned, “I requested it.”
The Jedi looked stunned “Why would you do that?”
“I want to see how my troops will perform, so I found this easy target to test their skills on,” Andis replied with confidence.
“Easy!?” the Jedi glared at him.
Starla could sense the Jedi’s temper getting the better of him, something very un-Jedi-like. She said, “Calm your nerves, Master Calvinis. A Jedi Master should know better than this.” Calvinis looked flustered, she just smiled. Since leaving the order, Starla had no sympathy for the Jedi.
Andis nodded, “Yes, easy. Most Jedi are not skilled battlefield tacticians, and your failure reflects that. Give me one day and this city will fall.”
Calvinis turned around and said, “Then your death will be your own fault.” Then he and his legion departed Trumole.
“So what now?” Starla said with a wicked grin on her face. She was excited, this would be the first time she faced combat since leaving the Jedi order. She was confident with Andis, a veteran of many battles, there to guide her.
“We make preparations.” He turned to Sherman, “Have teams go out on recon and scout out the surrounding areas, and tell one team to take a very close look at that lake to the south for large water pipes, then report back.”
“Yes sir,” the eager commander ran off to assemble the men, and knowing that soon, they would face their first battle.
As the sun fell, the high-ranking officers had assembled inside a tent. Waiting for them were Andis and Starla. Commander Sherman stepped forward, “You called for us, generals?”
Andis looked up from the table. “I did, Sherman. Over here,” he ushered him to the holographic table Starla was standing behind. Along next Sherman were his subordinates Clone Commanders Garnet, Sheridan, Tanner, and Jasper.
“The city is designed to withstand a siege for some time, as the previous unit found out from their failure,” Andis stated. “Now the city needs a large source of water to keep the city sustained. My guess was correct that there was a pipe underneath the city that runs to a reservoir, that’s our ticket into the city.”
Andis continued, “This will be a camisado, a surprise attack that will begin at daybreak. We will begin with a heavy artillery barrage from the front to distract the enemy while two companies of clone troopers will go through the pipe and into the city, from there we will attack the defenses from behind, where they are weakest. Most of the forces are on the outer defenses of the city, so the company on the insides shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting to the defenses.”
He added, “While that is going on, I want the rest of the legion to stay out of range of the enemies’ weapons, and pick them off with your superior range and accuracy. They will serve as the base of fire for the company assaulting from the front. This strategy is designed to maximize effectiveness while minimizing casualties. “If all goes according to plan, that’ll be evident after we’ve taken the city.”
Starla studied the map as Andis continued. He had really thought this plan out. He said, “Overwatch will be lead by the regimental commanders; Garnet in the north, Sheridan in the east, Tanner in the south, and Jasper in the west.” He turned to Sherman, “I trust that you will be capable of leading the frontal assault on the enemy.”
He punched his right fist into his left hand, “Yes, sir. It’s time we show the Separatists what we’re made of.”
Andis nodded, “That it is.”
The group made their way to the far side of the table, where food and drink awaited them. Starla raised a mug of Ne'tra gal to make a toast, “To victory!” Their glasses clanged together as they sat down to eat.
Later, in their thermal tent, Starla kissed Andis tenderly, curling up next to him for warmth. Confidence and love flowed between them. They were ready for anything.
The men of the Beskar Brigade stood up on the ridge, the sun rising at their backs. They leered up at the hilled city, their matt grey armor was still bright and clean, but they were no shinies, and it was time to get it dirty. This would be their baptism in blood.
The troops assembled in their designated positions, and readied their weapons. In front of them lay the elite of the Trumolian Defense Force, prepared to fight to the bitter end for the Confederacy. It was time to begin the battle. By the time this ended they would either victorious or dead. Andis went to his comlink, “Captain Kadal, are you there?”
“Yes, sir. You yell, we shell.”
“Sir!” Kadal turned to the artillery units, waving his arm forward, “All batteries, open fire!” the artillery, already honed into the their targets, unleashed hell, as their fury hammered into the city’s defenses. The exploding shells busted with a vengeance as they sent shrapnel throughout the enemies’ ranks, tearing through the men and droids like a blade through butter.
In the tunnel below the city, the thump and crackle of Andis, Starla, and a company of clone troopers echoed as they made their way through the reservoir pipe. When they came out the other side, they assembled in a large opening. Starla cut through the doors with her lightsaber, then the group ran outside into the city streets. Andis turned to them, “Know your marks, may your aim be true, and we’ll meet up when all this is over. Now spread out!”
Sherman stood at the edge of the hill, watching the artillery pummel the defensive lines. He turned around to his men, “Follow me boys. No grit, no shit.” The Clone Commander jumped off the ledge and onto the flatlands, “Charge!”
They responded, shouting in unison “No grit, no shit!” - a motto in the brigade. You need bravery and toughness to be worth anything on the battlefield, it was the difference between life and death. They followed close behind Sherman, barreling after the enemy ahead.
They could see and hear the artillery shells and rounds flying over their heads. The men knew that if a cannon’s aim was off, it may just land on top of them, and that would be it. They continued on regardless of the danger. As they entered the danger zone, the cannons stopped.
The Separatist militia and droids began pouring out of their bunkers, the lucky ones, at least. The men responded in force as a stream of red blaster bolts sped past them. They returned fire, while dodging blaster bolts, just as Andis’ course had taught them. Their accuracy was astounding as countless bolts hit their targets, shooting the heads of battle droids while on the move.
Their overwatch began to pick off the men and droids on the trenches, it seemed as though every blue bolt hit its target. Every man in the Beskar Brigade was an elite marksmen, easily capable of shooting the head off a battle droid 600 meters away at full sprint; and when laying down prone, their lethality would only increase.
The Separatists desperately tried to hit the clones barreling down at them to no avail. They were fast, elusive targets, difficult to hit, as the red bolts came at them, they’d jump, dodge, roll or duck. Sherman was at the front of this spearhead, charging at the enemy. He was particularly talented, fast, sharp, agile. He had the enemy in his sights and he would not be deterred from his objective.
With two companies of men now inside the fortified city, they dispersed in all directions to take their objectives. Like a flood of grey, the small unit seemed to envelope the city, shooting anything that moved. As the main groups continued to the outer defenses of the city, some teams of Special Forces broke off from the companies and deployed to take or destroy key targets. One team, the Krayt Squad, was on the move to destroy the enemies’ communication lines.
As the companies progressed through the streets, they encountered little resistance. The city had been abandoned by civilians two months ago, something very apparent as they looked through windows to see rooms untouched because the civilians had no time to take anything before they ran from the city. Much of the militia and droids were on the outer perimeter of the city, attempting to repel Sherman’s attack.
For a brief moment, Starla looked at Andis, she could feel him in the Force, he seemed so confident, so sure. She had to tell him, “You think this will work don’t you?”
Andis nodded, “I’m certain it will. Keep on your toes, Starla. The enemy could be anywhere.” They moved through the city at lightning speed, moving through the streets, eliminating any and all opposition they met.
The group made their way to a clearing of what was once a market lane before they had evacuated the city, where a platoon was taking a break during their rounds, unaware of the deadly force eyeing them. Starla turned to the troops, “Take cover and take aim.” The men responded. Andis smiled, she caught on quickly.
Andis drew his beskad and lightsaber. A Force-sensitive Mandalorian was truly something to fear. Starla drew her blades too. One of the men in the enemy unit began reaching for his comlink, Andis bolted forward cleaving the man’s arm off before he could call for reinforcements. The man dropped to the floor as Andis brought his blades down on him.
“Open fire!” Andis shouted, the men opened fire, a hail of blue blaster bolts flew into the mass of opposition, searing flesh and burning through metal. Andis and Starla advanced, deflecting blaster bolts as they went, their blades spun around, the hot plasma being repelled by the energized blades of the lightsabers and the cold steel of the imbued beskad.
They defended the men behind them as they brought down the full might of Mandalorian skill and lethality. They used their blades to slice through the men and machines standing in the way of them and victory. As the enemy platoon dwindled in numbers, the few remaining were dealt with by Andis and his trusty Kaydax-4 blaster pistol, as the smoke left the barrel, he spun it and re-holstered the pistol. Starla turned to the troops and yelled, “Let’s move out boys.” They listened to their general, stood up, and continued their rapid pace towards the front of the city.
Sherman’s forces had made it to the trenches, their spearhead piercing the enemy lines. They jumped in the trenches, blasters blazing, before the Separatists in the trenches knew what was going on, the clones were on top of them.
As they hit the front line trench, Sherman whipped out a DC-17 blaster pistol, in his left hand, a DC-15a Rifle in his right, he let loose jumping into the trench, ramming the rifle barrel into one man’s gut and pulled the trigger. He then turned to another man nearby, drawing his pistol, and shot him in the head at point-blank range.
A fragmentation grenade landed close by. Thinking quickly, Sherman slugged a soldier in the face and threw him on top of the grenade as it detonated. The elite Clone Commander picked up his rifle and continued leading the attack.
At last they had made their way to the city’s outer defenses. This was where the Separatists amassed most of the soldiers and droids to defend the city. Andis raised his hand and everyone abruptly stopped. Starla could feel the adrenaline coursing through her veins, the rush of battle, her heart was pounding, waiting for Andis’ signal.
He dropped his hand forward, “Attack!” the men sprinted down towards the unsuspecting soldiers below. They quickly took the artillery line, much of which had been pummeled during the Brigade’s initial artillery barrage, the cannons and gun emplacements were partially melted, there were chunks of shrapnel sticking out of the pieces, it would be a cold day in hell before these guns could fire again.
After overrunning the artillery line, they moved into the trenches, they slammed the support trenches; the enemy now realized they were under attack from both sides. The men of the Beskar Brigade shredded through the Trumolian Defense Force. Andis set his flamethrower off, sending waves of billowing flames into the trenches, turning the men crispy and making the droids glow red, until they were gunned down.
They moved on to the lines trenches, Spencer was the first one in. The ARC Trooper jumped into the trench at its end and opened fire down the length of it with his Z-6 Rotary Blaster Cannon. The trench acted like a funnel, making it difficult to get out of the way of the six-barreled monster spewing its lethal blue bolts, it cut down every man in its path until the trench veered off at an angle, the rest of the troopers took care of those men.
Sharps ran down the trench, blasting away. He swerved down the line of the trench to come face to face with a Devaronian militia solider. The Separatist began raising his blaster, without thinking, the lieutenant kicked the blaster away from him, drew his kukri, and came down on the man’s head, splitting it like a rolabamelon. The ARC Trooper wasted no time and moved on as he marched on, his boots splashing through the puddle of blood forming around the Devaronian.
The fighting got in close, one man managed to knock a trooper off his feet. Starla saw it, she raised her blaster and shot him the man, who collapsed on top of the clone. She helped toss the body aside and gave the trooper a hand up. The grateful soldier looked at her and said, “Thanks ma’am.” They immediately continued on with the fight, there were no breaks in battle.
Captain Jones was fast on the trigger as he used his M5 Blaster Rifle to shred through the trenches, blasting holes through the rapidly diminishing numbers of battle droids and militia soldiers. The men began to run as the ARC Trooper continued his onslaught.
Starla was in the middle of the fray. In the short time she had been studying the art of T’ad Kad and Kad Nynir, she had already learned how to efficiently swing her blades into the enemy masses, and the thrill of battle was invigorating. Her blades came down in a fury as she tore through the enemy ranks.
The fighting was as fast as it was brutal, and it continued until the two companies of the attack met in the middle. At last the blasters fell silent. It seemed as though it ended as quickly as it began. Andis looked around, and strewn across the battlefield were the bodies of the elite Trumolian Defense Force. He then realized the lack of clone casualties and smiled.
Commander Sherman came running up to Andis, “Sir, I just got the casualty numbers, we only have 10 killed and 11 increase wounded. That’s unheard of!” the commander was ecstatic. “We took this city in less than a day - something the troopers before us spent two months trying to do!”
The numbers even surprised Andis, “That’s impressive, Sherman.” Andis and Starla took off their helmets. The heat and humidity of the Trumolian summer became quickly apparent, the climate-controlled suits of their Mandalorian armor acted like a wall no element could penetrate. He grinned, “You did a great job Commander. This victory is as much yours as it is mine and the brigade’s.”
Andis turned to Starla, picked her up and kissed her, “and how about you? You were incredible! So what did you think of your first taste of battle?”
She was ecstatic, adrenaline coursing through her veins. She felt Andis’ excitement flowing through her when they kissed. She grabbed his hair and kissed him back fiercely, since no words could describe her feelings at this moment.
They marched down the main road of the city to the Parliament, gunning down the last of the men in their way, until they reached their final destination: the Parliament Building. In front of it was a life-size bronzium statue of Count Dooku. Starla stared at it for a moment, then she took out her lightsaber and swung it at the statue’s neck with a fiery vengeance, making the heavy metal head hit the Saladistone floor with a loud clunk.
Adjacent to it was the Prime Minister’s mansion, a large building, gleaming with marble and gold inlay. A man came walking out of it and strode over to them. He was in his mid to late forties, with the markings of a commander on his battle dress uniform of black with a red stripe, the color strongly associated with the Trumolian Defense Force. His uniform had gold and stone inlay, this was a man of high status, no doubt. “I am here to lay down the terms of our surrender.”
Andis took off his helmet and grinned as though the man had just made a joke, “You have no cards left. I want nothing but your unconditional surrender.”
Starla looked at the man, feeling his sense of entitlement and iron will. She calmly said, “It would be a smart idea to tell your men to lay down their weapons. There aren’t many ways this will work out well for you.”
The man bit his lip he looked around to see the ruins of the once-proud city of Volgaris, capital of Trumole, a city of immense wealth and prestige. It had been brought to its knees and was on the brink of destruction. His elite solders were dead, the city was surrounded, there was no way out.
The Separatist Commander thought to himself for a few seconds, until he had reached a decision: he’d rather die than surrender to this mercenary. He pulled out a blaster and pulled the trigger trying to kill Andis at point-blank range.
Andis caught the bolt in his hand, using Tutaminis to absorb the bolt. He then pulled the blaster out of the man’s hand and grabbed his throat with the Force. Andis clenched his jaw and glared at him, “That was a very, very bad move.” He raised the man up in the air as the invisible hand continued to squeeze the life from him, his eyes began to roll to the back of his head. Andis stopped short of killing him, realizing that he may prove useful yet, and released his grip, letting him fall to the ground.
A pair of clones were passing by, and Andis called them over, “Sorry boys, but I need you to do something quickly. I need you to take that dirtbag,” he pointed at the unconscious separatist commander, “to a holding cell to be dealt with later.”
“Yes sir,” one of them responded, the two picked up the man and began to drag him away.
A short time passed, then Andis was ready to use his comlink - it was time for the next part of the battle plan. His voice came over loud and clear to every man, “Now this is where we’ll make our mark on the Separatists. I want you to destroy anything of war-making potential. I also want you to take valuables, food, weaponry, etc.” he paused for a second, “and take something for yourselves too.”
Starla knew what she wanted to look for: gems and wine. She had already told her troops her wishes. She looked at Andis, wondering what he was planning, “What do you have in mind?”
He replied, “We’ll use the funds and valuables to help fund the purchase of new gear and weaponry. The Republic seems to pinch their credits on things like that; and the better the gear, the better these men can fight.” He and Starla climbed up onto a pile of rubble, “You hear that boys? We’ll be using the Separatist’s credits against them! The men cheered and raised their hands in the air. This general - this Mandalorian general - was certainly different than any Jedi was in a position of command. He wasn’t restrained by Jedi code or ethics, allowing him to go farther than the Jedi were willing to go in a time of war.
Soon after, they heard explosions off in the distance as the men began destroying the droid facilities and manufacturing plants. Then, every so often, they’d feel a tremor in the ground as the troopers below blasted through the bank vaults, intent on cleaning everything out - funds for the war effort.
The men ran through the streets carrying anything of value or of use they could find, piling it up onto the gunships and transports to take back to the star destroyers. Precious metals and stones, blasters, food. Starla turned to a clone trooper that was running over to them. “Hey generals! There’s a wine cellar down here!” She was thrilled at that news. She looked at Andis, “Lets take a look.”
He grinned at her excitement, “Sounds good to me.”
They were both surprised at what they saw: the prime minister’s mansion was more spectacular than they had imagined. The wealth of Trumole was on display there, and to disgusting excess at that. There were statues of solid gold, utensils and tableware of silver. There was also a significant amount of Aurodium, and many of the things they found were gem-encrusted.
They followed the trooper down the hall and to the cellar below. It was incredible: row upon row of wine and liquor of all types, bottles that had stood the test of time and the war above. Starla was taken aback by this, all she could do was smile; she knew she’d be enjoying some of it later that night.
“Damn,” Andis finally said, “Some of these bottles have to be over a hundred years old. Have the boys empty it out, and stick it on the transports. We’ll divide it up among the units later. On that order a platoon of clones entered the cellar and began stripping it bare of its contents.
As they walked out of the mansion, Andis and Starla saw the men heaping countless things on the gunships and transports. They even ran across Captain Jones as the captain was slinging around a number of rings on a chain he had just taken from the city’s vaults. Andis just looked at him and said, “Well, Jones, looks like you’re having fun.”
“You can say that again, General.” Giving them a thumbs-up, the captain continued on his way, off to add more prizes to his collection.
Starla looked to Andis with tired, loving eyes. The adrenaline had worn off. She whispered, “So this was a battle?”
The Mandalorian grinned and looked at his brave woman, “This was just a taste of things to come. The Separatists have a new and deadly enemy, and for us the war has just begun.”
The Beskar Brigade Gets their first taste of action. Having completed their training they unveil themselves upon the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
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