Crimson Steel Ltd

First contact

“Jacked up and good to go”

It was always hard to tell the difference between the troopers and their mechanically filtered voices, and the sandstorm that roared around them wasn’t helping matters much.

The hairy talz hunched his shoulders and seemed to mumble something behind the cloth wrap that protected his face against the wind around him. The automatic translator seemed to chirp something, but it was lost in the wind.

“What did he say?” asked Arand the squad leader as he activated a small holoprojector on his armored glove. Within a few moments the miniature computer had calculated their position and direction, chirping with the information they needed to find the equipment drop zone.

“He said he couldn’t believe your jarhead really just said that” shouted the doctor, his voice muffled by the cloth that was wrapped across his face. While the Imperial deserters had their environmentally sealed armor; the two aliens were forced to resort to more low-tech solutions for the desert world which came in the way of tigh3. Your title here…htly wrapped strips of cloth around their bodies and weapons.

Once upon a time, sand getting into the crystallization chamber of a blaster was a true problem for anyone waging a war on a desert planet. Anything from jams to misfires could occur for older weapons, but modern day Imperial sandtrooper rifles had been modified for just such environments.

The aliens on the other hand had to resort to more colloquial protection; taken in the form of strips of chemically soaked adhesive strips wrapped around the barrels of their weapons to keep them clear.

“Charming. In any case, our kit should be waiting for us 400 meters north… Exon on point, the rest of you form up and lets make tracks” ordered the squad leader falling back into his usual role. One of the stormtroopers with the mighty looking sniper rifle nodded once and immediately took to the lead, gliding into the thick fog of swirling sand like a natural.

The rest quickly followed, their heads bowed down beneath the onrushing currents of air that whipped and billowed against their forms. The loose sand made travelling the desert as difficult as moving through a swamp; but the assembled soldiers said nothing as they moved up.

At the back of everyone’s mind were thoughts of the strangers they were now alongside. The imperials, while deserters at best (and traitors at worse), still held the presence of the aliens as an unnecessary liability. To the armored stormtroopers who had fought and bled alongside one another in many a life threatening conflict, the presence of the outsiders seemed… trivial.

But on the other hand, the two aliens had their own reasons to doubt their new comrades. How many men in the exact same uniform with identical voices and mannerisms had they killed in the past month alone? Cabot was certainly no Imperial lover and his contracts had placed the men of plastoid dress codes down their sights several times.

Not wanting to say or start anything unnecessary however, the soldiers forged on; guided only by the dim blue light on Exon’s backpack that was somehow able to shine through the swirling mist of sand all around them.

Fifteen minutes of uneventful and silent marching continued with only the punctuated sounds of light breathing passing through the comlinks of the stormtroopers to everyone else. The friends you made in this business had a funny habit of winding up dead or aiming guns at you; so most mercenaries that had been in the business for a while saw little reason to talk unnecessarily.

It was because of this that it came as an odd surprise to everyone when Exon finally spoke up.

“Weird…”

“Exton? See something?” asked Arand, raising a single hand to slow down the entire line as they began to crouch down in anticipation of anything.

“Not really… Just that I thought we were finally getting off onto hard ground; only to sink into even looser sand up here…” replied the trooper, his voice displaying his temporary confusion.

Arand was about to ask for more details when his boot hit a ridge of hard rock, almost causing him to stumble. Sure enough, a slab of solid brown and black rock stuck out from the sand. The surface of the object was almost shiny and waxy, glowing brightly against the setting sun.

“Hold up… Something is wrong here…” muttered Jarael as he stopped in his tracks and began unhooking his blaster from its holster.

A slight rumble in the ground turned to an almost bone shattering seizure in the ground below as it began to open up directly beneath Arand and Kaz.

“Back it up!” shouted Kaz just as the ground suddenly split open as an angry creature began to claw its way out of the ground. It was easily up to 4 meters tall with a thick razor hide carapace and a large array of serrated teeth that still held the remains of previous meals between them.

With a massive roar and glare, the creature turned its attention to the two human stormtroopers who stood directly before the massively lumbering creature.

“… I don’t know what that thing is… but do you think it’s hostile?” asked Jarael as he raised his weapon.

Almost as an answer to his query, the animal roared once more as it drew itself to its full height and raised its strong claws to slam down directly upon the two troopers.

“Oh yes… definitely hostile” muttered Romo as he took an instinctive step back to get a better grenade throwing arc. It was time to greet their first local of the planet…

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