Nothing to Fear...part 2 by DarthTenebrus
About an hour’s travel saw Fiona MacKenzie and Jan Omas near the location where Captain Crook’s mech went down. They could see the Mad Cat now from a distance; it was laid on its side, inert and appearing to the whole world like so much dead weight. Fortunately, the salvage truck that MacKenzie had driven up here was especially suited for hauling what had essentially become dead weight and carrying it to where it could be brought with extensive and talented repair work back to life. The torso had been scorched, as Captain Crook had relayed over the rudimentary wireless he had rigged. That was merely cosmetic damage; a scrubbing and a paint job later would have that looking as though it had been sent back to the factory for a total rebuild. The legs were another matter. They had been mangled and twisted almost beyond recognition. It would take some skull sweat and rigging expertise to remove the Mad Cat from the area and haul it back to Rally Base Ranger for an overhaul. Gratefully, Omas had been studying advanced metallurgy intensively, and he was fairly sure he could reproduce the alloys necessary to handle the necessary stresses that Mech combat demanded from the raw materials present on this world.
Fiona looked around and commed the point element of the security detail. “Vanguard Six, this is Wrecker, over.”
“Vanguard Six to Wrecker, go.”
“Sitrep please, how’s it looking up there? Over.”
There was a momentary pause before the lead security element came back over the comm. “Quiet as a tomb, no sign of enemy activity. How proceed? Over.”
Fiona turned then to Jan and handed him the handset; he looked around and evaluated the area for potential ambush sites. It was his job once in the Imperial ranks as an AT-AT pilot, so he was not exactly used to looking at the area from ground level, with his own eyes. In the Imperial Academy on Corulag, though, the training cadre made sure that everyone was well-educated in scanning their surroundings without the aid of technology. So many differing types of countermeasures existed in the galaxy that were in use by modern armies that it was impossible to be absolutely certain that the technological aspect of war could not be rendered useless at one point or another.
Jan Omas was taking no chances. He had felt every shadow and every crevice large enough to hide a man was a potential ambush position for the Sith Lord, and that feeling had not changed, even now.
“Ahead slow to the objective, Vanguard,” he said at length. “Scan high and low for camouflaged positions, fire on those you find, regardless of whether someone’s in it or not. We’re not taking any chances. Sentinel, what’s your status?”
“No indication of a dark side presence here, but the energy from the Hellmouth could be clouding our senses in the Force, Wrecker. Over.”
Immediately after, the security detail commander’s voice cut in. “Vanguard acknowledges, advise that we are aware of the great potential for ambush sites in the AO, over.”
Omas quickly realized that he had allowed his anxiety over confronting Darth Thanaton to influence his thinking. He was so scared that he was telling trained, seasoned veteran soldiers how to do their job. And now he felt ashamed of himself for letting his fear get to him.
Hesitantly, he responded, “Ah, Wrecker Oscar acknowledges and apologizes. Expect strong probability that element Sierra Lima is in the AO, how copy, over?”
“Copy you Lima Charlie, Wrecker, clarify Sierra Lima? Over.”
“Wrecker Oscar to Vanguard, I spell Sierra-India-Tango-Hotel, Lima-Oscar-Romeo-Delta, how copy, over?”
A static-filled moment passed before Vanguard responded. “Copy…Vanguard out.”
They understood. They understood, because it scared them, too. They had heard a couple of stories from the Jedi at RB Ranger about how powerful and deadly the Lords of the Sith were, how completely without mercy. Many Jedi had died fighting the Sith Order to preserve the peace. Many times they upheld the peace and protected the people of the galaxy where they came from, but there were many other times where they were so diminished from long periods of conflict against their ancient foe that the evil of the Dark Side spread through the galaxy once again, and again the Jedi would be called from obscurity, to shine their light and drive away the darkness.
They understood. A Sith Lord was here, on Earth. But there were also Jedi here, on Earth, and they would strive to hold the line against the evil embodied in Thanaton, in the demons that swarmed over the land, craving naught but death and destruction. They cared not how the war ended, so long as they could kill, and maim, and maul as many as they could, and so long as they could hurt as deeply as they could.
It did nothing to ease Omas’s anxiety. And if the shrinking away from shadows had been nothing at all, Omas and MacKenzie both felt a chill unlike anything they had ever felt before, and it had nothing to do with the cold weather. Suddenly over the wireless, a voice crackled into life. “Wrecker, this is Ranger Seven, acknowledge, over.”
Fiona picked up the handset and pressed the transmission detent. “Ranger Seven, this is Wrecker Mike.”
“Transmission from Ranger Six Actual, Galactica Actual reports rogue Sith element in your AO, is sending assets from British 95th Rifles, Galactica and Nike elements en route to extract precious cargo, how copy, over?”
Omas. Units from the Galactica and the Nike were en route to get Omas out of there, and to help put down Thanaton, who was apparently hunting for him. Fiona shuddered visibly, the terror on Omas’s face now revealed in her expression. The fear was not for herself, however, but for her friend Jan. Before she could muster the courage to utter a single word, though, Jan snatched the handset from Fiona’s trembling fingers and pressed the detent.
“Negative, Seven, Wrecker will continue on mission, Rikki-Tikki needs his legs, how copy? Over!”
“Jan!” exclaimed a startled Fiona. He squelched her further attempt to persuade him to go, before she could say more.
“Would you not do as much for your family, Fi? I don’t give a flying kriff for Thanaton, none of us troops ever did. But he does have a way for getting what he wants. You see, he’s in the business of making everyone suffer until he gets his way. You understand? He makes you afraid of disobeying him, he makes you so afraid for your life or that of your family or friends, he takes that all away from you so you don’t have a choice. For a Dark Lord of the Sith, it’s either obey, or die, or watch your loved ones suffer and die for your disobedience. Sometimes it’s all three of those at once. He takes your greatest fears and he uses them against you. Unless you obey him, that is…but I don’t give a mad rodding kriff about any of that now.”
It was ironic that at that moment, Sergeant MacKenzie chose to reply back. “Wrecker Oscar, this is Ranger Seven, be advised that friendly elements are en route to extract you from the AO, and they will accomplish their mission. Hold pos and wait for pickup. Orders from Ranger Six Actual are for Galactica
Raptors to extract Ranger Three Victor and return to RB. How copy? Over.”
“Negative, Seven, I say again, that is a negative on extraction. This is my mission, and I will accomplish my mission. Thanaton can go kriff himself until I get Rikki-Tikki’s unit out of here, you copy that? Over!” To Fiona, he said, “Keep going, Fi. I’m not letting those rodders think they can get to me or you.’ When Fiona refused to move, Omas started getting angry. “Go!”
“They gave us orders to remain in place; Galactica
’s picking up the ‘Cat. That’s a Sith Lord out there waiting for you, so you can’t go in there!”
He counterargued with her concurrently with him because he would not listen to someone tell him to abort the mission. He’d had enough of fear, of doing evil things because someone more evil forced him to do them. For Jan Omas, the time had now come to shed all fear and help with the Regiment’s mission. He was certain that Captain Crook and the Colonel would do no less for him; they’d taken him in and sheltered him, given him a job to do, a job he loved, where the Empire forced a job on him that he didn’t want and couldn’t refuse for fear of punitive measures.
Suddenly Fiona looked up toward the fallen Mad Cat in the intersection, and then she screamed.********
Captain Sunrider had been right about the Sith. She had said he could never be trusted. And now Jack O’Neill was livid.
“Alert everyone out there to watch out for Darth Thanaton, he’s gone too far this time, and I want that bastard brought in to me alive! I’m gonna string him up to the Stargate and dial out, and then the wormhole can kill him.”
Harriman listened to everything O’Neill said, and he started punching in codes. When his console showed a channel was open on the general command frequency, he began issuing orders.
“All Ragnarok elements, this is Homeworld Command. Be advised, this is a general alert. Rogue Sith elements are searching the operational theater for recently defected Imperial pilot Jan Omas to return him to Sith command. Advise you inform your commands to deploy all available units for interdiction of Sith element designated Thanaton and to extract precious cargo. Be advised that Sith element Thanaton is to be detained and brought to Stargate Command alive for questioning and discipline. All HSC commands acknowledge…”********A/N – Short one, but I had to get this out…