Chapter 47 - Part 2

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"Ronk - get more mines down there, now!" Chalmers thundered. A group of Rodian miners had just set off the mines guarding their rear, and more were on their way. Ronk tossed sticky mines near the entrance to the data center; once they landed the mines crawled the rest of the way to their positions.

"On me, team." Chalmers used the suit's gesture controls to highlight a flanking route targeting the Mandalorians on the fifth floor stacks, and sent it to his team's HUDs. "Beta team, provide covering--"

Chalmers' command was cut short as a wicked metal scythe boomeranged around the data stack and sliced his head clean off at the shoulders. Alpha team's training kicked in and they dropped low on the second floor catwalk, laying down fire in the direction of the returning boomerang.

"Aro - you're in charge of Alpha team. Now move!" Fett growled, as he provided covering fire for Alpha team. "Beta team, form up on me." They had been bogged down by the Mandalorians long enough. IG-68's railgun had sniped two of the greenies straight through the walls before the rest sought cover behind the data stacks.

Shortly thereafter, Alpha and Beta team's stun grenades took care of the Rodian miners still clutching at their saucers or ears. That left four more Mandalorians in the data stacks according to Til'trius, and these four had harassed them for the last several minutes.

First they had stunned Flanor's legs, as they used the wider shot of the stun setting to catch him during a flanking maneuver. And now Chalmers was dead. Sergeant Fett had had enough. It was time to be bold, or be dead.

Via his HUD, Fett indicated the aerial maneuver he had in mind. Flanor would have to stay behind covering Alpha team while his legs recovered. Fett, Wenzlow and Teel readied up, while Alpha Team's Ronk pointed his plasma machine gun at the ceiling and fired. The ceiling was still in the process of vaporizing when Fett's Beta team cleared the ceiling.

Quickly aiming downwards mid-flight, Fett fired a grenade straight onto the top of the data center, directly above the Mandalorians' estimated location on the fifth floor stacks. He timed the grenade to explode just above the ceiling, its explosive sphere just out of the reach of the data stacks. Beta team zoomed directly through the disintegrating ceiling, homing in on the Mandalorians.

In less than a quarter second's time, Sergeant Fett saw a Mandalorian in front of him, wheeling around to face the explosion.

Fett fired with his blaster rifle, hitting the Mandalorian's helmet directly in the eye plate. The visor's blast shielding prevented her head from disintegrating, but the blast blinded the Mandalorian, causing her to shoot wide as Fett flew down and landed a crushing blow to her head with his blaster rifle. The helmet was undamaged, but the downward accelerating force of Fett's blow hemorrhaged her brain.

Meanwhile, the Mandalorian with the scythe boomerang threw his scythe in the direction of the explosion, and scrambled for cover. Teel dodged the scythe reflexively in mid air, but hemmed in by the scythe, Teel's maneuverability was compromised. A split second later, the Mandalorian fired two shots in rapid succession. An anti-personnel missile struck Teel in the chest first, ablating away his armor, and the blaster bolt that followed it burned a hole through his chest. Teel fell to the catwalk, clawing at the mortal wound in his chest.

Landing beside Teel, Wenzlow couldn't get a clear shot at the Mandalorian, so she turned and fired at the scythe as it arced back toward her, causing it to spin and wobble out of control on its return trajectory. The scythe hobbled around the data stack, returning to its Mandalorian controller. A moment later, a brief scream was cut short, and Mandalorian body parts fell onto the catwalk below.

Intuitively, Sergeant Fett and Specialist Wenzlow moved to flank the two Mandalorians still on the second floor, firing at their position. Hemmed in from both sides by Beta team and Alpha team, both Mandalorians dove towards the second floor storage room. Ronk's plasma machine gun spat after them, catching them both in its arc. The Mandalorian on Ronk's left was shielded by his back's blast armor, but the Mandalorian on Ronk's right was not so lucky, as the plasma bolt chewed his left leg off at the buttocks.

"Alpha Team and Flanor, secure the rear and the hostages in the first floor storage room," Sergeant Fett ordered. "Wenzlow and I will track this toad down."

"Make it quick, Sergeant," Aro stated, as she and Ayalla prepared to enter the hostage room.

Ronk laid more mines to cover their rear, and a few went off as several miners opened the main doors, instantly stunning them. Fett and Wenzlow flew downward to the storage room's location and the automatic door slid aside with their approach.

Smoke poured out after the open door; at first Fett thought it was simply a smoke grenade until his thermal display lit up with upward oscillating waves of red and yellow. The Mandalorian had lit the second floor on fire, with the hostages below. "Damn it," Wenzlow cursed as she too glanced inside.

"Come dance in the flames," a voice called from inside. "Join me in hell."

Sergeant Fett's mind raced. They were in a data center, full of superconductors that required sub-zero temperatures. Those temperatures would require super-coolant, and backup canisters would probably be located in the storage rooms. "Wenzlow, stay here and guard the entrance. Get ready to enter on my mark."

Quickly, Fett flew up to the third floor and glanced inside the third floor storage room immediately above the second. A black patch was already forming on the floor as it burned, with smoke curling up through the ventilation ducts. The room was clear enough, however, for him to find several canisters of liquid nitrogen in the center of the room, normally used for cooling the data stacks. "Mark," Fett yelled, as he aimed his grenade launcher at the center of the floor, and fired.

The floor caved in as several of the canisters exploded. There was a sucking sound as the burning hot air exchanged with the freezing cold air above. Smoke billowed out of the room, but the swirling thermal displays revealed the Mandalorian's location. Fett and Wenzlow zeroed in on the location and fired. Pelted by blaster fire from both directions, the Mandalorian shot plumes of flames wildly from his flamethrower as he staggered, and died.

"Clear," Fett said, the salty taste of victory on his lips. He leapt down to the corpse of the Mandalorian, and removed the Mandalorian's t-shaped visored helmet to see the being inside.
A gritty smile graced a dead Rodian male's sweaty complexion. The greenie could have surrendered. His leader had already been defeated, though perhaps he had not known that. Was he really just a fanatic, inflamed by Krul?

Or was there something more, something to this Mandalorian philosophy that gave this Rodian strength? Lesser beings would have crumbled after watching their comrades downed in seconds. Instead he had chosen to fight, to die, with dignity. Fett stared at the helmet in his hands, and saw his reflection in the t-shaped visor. He attached the helmet to his pack, next to his bershek.

"Sir - we should move on sir," Specialist Wenzlow said by his side, concern lacing her voice.

"Right then, Wenzlow, make yourself useful and gather Teel and Chalmers' remains," Fett ordered. "Aro, is your room secured?"

"Copy that, Sergeant," Aro replied. "We stunned a few miners hiding with the hostages. We're running low on stun mines though - we have to get to the roof ASAP."

Selecting the op-wide comm channel, Sergeant Fett said, "Hostages secured Commander Kenobi. We're heading for the rooftop and will cover your approach. It's time for the cavalry to arrive."

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