Episode I.v (Shadows)

The troopers were long dead, their bodies same as the ambient room. She turned a few over, and found similar pock marks of blaster fire that had scorched and then penetrated their armor. Part of her was pleased to know it was a gunfight they had fallen in, it meant less jarring of a surprise for her later, but who they lost that gunfight to was the new concern. Judging from the damage, which was scattered over both the troopers as well as the floor and the nearby machinery, there were a lot of them, and they weren’t too particular about their aim.

Locals could accomplish something on this level, people who’d never used a blaster except for some light hunting, but there’d be a lot of them. Rebels, if one could still call them that, could have done this too, but she had always been under the impression that they were at least slightly better with their aim. Droids, perhaps? She didn’t think the Federation was into trading blows with remnant Order units, but this was a rich salvage world for both groups, so perhaps?

The last body she found appeared as though it’d been dragged a ways, which gave some heavy lending to the theory that these few weren’t the only troopers. Following the trail may be her best bet at gaining any information, in case whatever blasted them was still lost in the catacombs with her. Not a very good plan, but at least dead troopers can’t shoot at her.

Veye policed their cells, and slung an extra rifle cross her back. If all went boring, she could sell the rifle for some credits off-world. The armor was compromised too greatly to be of use, and none had been recording the incident so their helmets had no intel for her. So as to not draw too much attention, the bodies were left as she found them. If she came back through later, maybe she’d offer them some respect.

As she crept deeper into the complex, she saw increasing evidence that this was a foundry, with long and thick looking tracks for machined metalwork that ran through various presses and cutters, as well as vast house sized kilns that, to her surprise, retained some heat, as if shut off days rather than decades ago. Perhaps, she thought, because of their size they would always hold some heat, unlike the much smaller foundry her clan maintained deep in their home.

There was also evidence that blaster fire had contributed to that, as she found scorch marks on the floor and walls, and every now and then a lone trooper who had been hit maybe dozens of times before falling.

Whoever had attacked them, they’d put the Order into full retreat. Not a good sign. Not in her mind, at least.

The foundry floor seemed to go on forever, and she found that there had been a rhythm to this engagement of troopers falling back, attempting to tend to wounded, then being re-engaged as their enemies closed in, but some of the angles were odd. In some places, it seemed like the fire had come from everywhere, and from high too, but they were too far from the raised perimeter for that to make sense. If anything she expected the troopers to have access to jump packs and attempt such assaults, nobody else had that option. Not that she knew of, beyond the clans themselves.

She put that thought aside. Their aim wasn’t this wild.

Following the trail must have led to the foundry's command center, if that’s what it could be called. And it certainly looked like it had been the center of everything.

Where she had been finding few troopers in their retreat, never bunched more than she could count on a single hand, now she found crumpled and burnt out troopers practically all over the perimeter. They were laid over barricades that the unit had pushed inti position, prone on the floor, some lost on impact while others looked as though they had struggled. It was, in short, a mess, and she had to step over bodies to reach the actual structure they had made their stand at.

Inside was better, but there were still fallen troopers towards the opposite end of the large open room that made up the center, at least that she could see. There were quite a few work tables and computer suites, as well as a holo-deck at the center that was elevated for display or perhaps just live communication with other centers. To have so much processing to manage this site, she couldn’t even imagine what this place looked like under full swing.

As she swept the room, she discovered what had to be the last unexpected thing of the venture, lain back limp against the far side of the holo-deck from where she entered. An Imperial security droid, still bearing the old white symbol of the Empire that devolved into the First Order. What was it doing here?

Her sweep complete, Veye returned to inspect the droid. Scorch marks marred the chest plating, and while he hadn’t been totally ruptured, it was clear many things had been scorched on the inside from sustained fire, and probably knocked loose from the impacts as well, as he looked pretty dented in. Carefully, she removed the chest plate and was pleasantly surprised to find the power cell still functioning. Most of the machinery allowing control of the limbs had been disabled though, but most interestingly, the only damage to the processor and other elements in the head was a severed connection to the power supply. Maybe there was something to learn from him still.

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