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Ronin
22 September 2006, 06:26 AM
THE 22ND CLONE COMMANDO REGIMENT:
ONE SHOT

“Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it, never really care for anything else thereafter.”
- Ernest Hemingway

Range-A (Long Distance Marksmanship), Tipoca City, Kamino
Days After The Battle Of Geonosis

“"Now,” the green-skinned Nikto said, his black eyes studying his audience of children; “you know not only why you are being trained: to fight in a war that is dividing this galaxy, but also who you are being trained by: one of the individuals responsible for starting this war.”
The assembled class of five year olds watched the green alien with wide, unblinking eyes, absorbing everything.
“On the benches in front of you are Blastech DC-17M rifles with 12.7 millimetre sniper attachments. With these weapons you can be some of the deadliest individuals in the war,” the alien's hoarse voice, a strong whisper, managed to reach every ear on the range as waves crashed mutely against the city walls outside.
“With my training you will be the deadliest individuals in the war.”


Five Kilometres Outside Lornyiss City, Arcopos, Twelve Months Earlier

The Nikto smelled the human soldier approaching even before he heard him. Evidently a city-boy who'd never had his ass in the grass, the human noisily pushed his way through the bushes in his pristine factory-fresh DPMs, pale pink skin glistening with sweat and a rollup hanging out the corner of his mouth. Watching the human in his peripheral vision the Nikto kept track of him as he beat his way through the undergrowth.
Steadily coming closer.
The man was no older than twenty, lean, probably a few years out of whatever amounted to basic training on Arcopos. His blaster rifle; a cheap local Blastech-knockoff was over his shoulders, catching branches to both sides with its butt and muzzle. His thigh holster was empty. Wait. No. He could see a slender white cylinder protruding from the fabric.
Always pack a backup. The sentry drew the spare cig from the concealed pack and lit it from the dying butt, finally tossing the spent one into the air. With a finger-and-thumb pistol he blew it from the sky and continued pushing his way on through the forest, trailing smoke, toward the hidden Nikto sniper.

Senator Casbek's deep brown eyes looked out the villa's transparisteel window at the valley before him, covered in dense jungle. A roiling verdant sea with the white villa in stark contrast to its surroundings. Hands flat against the cool window, he took a moment to admire the planet's lush nature, the tree-covered ranges to either side with only the mountain tops and occasional rocky protrusions extending from the jungle canopy. The thick glass completely cut out the racket of the jungle; the persistent droning of insects, the hooting and squawking of primates and avians. It also separated him from the oppressive heat and humidity. Within the villa it was a carefully climate-controlled environment. Another world from the jungle outside.
He turned away from the window and paced about the lounge, picking up his datapad for the ninth time that day to review the upcoming conference. His long flowing tunic of orange silk trailed behind him and his patent leather shoes clicked on the hardwood floor.

The Nikto's ghillie suit perfectly camouflaged his prone form. There was no longer a five-foot six muscular, black eyed reptilian alien with a long, high powered rifle; it's suppressor adding a good half meter onto its already considerable length. No. All the sentry saw was a fallen tree, covered in moss and bracken in amongst the other vegetation lining the jungle floor. He was oblivious to the fact that the longest branch of that fallen tree pointed away across the outcropping, a kilometre of open valley, through a transparisteel window and at the medulla oblongata of a Republic senator.

A short burst of static erupted from the sentry's belt and after taking a long draw on his cig the young man took his commlink from the pouch.

Without turning his head and with his right eye still tracking the senator through his rifle's scope, the Nikto opened his mouth to aid his hearing and cut down on internal noise.

“All clear on the western ridge sarge,” the boy soldier replied, replacing the cig between his lips and leaning against a tree. The faint sound of a reply and other voices checking in could just be heard over the constant noise of the jungle.
The human sighed, smoke billowing from his mouth, “sarge, why we here babysitting some politico anyway?”

Casbek sat down on the pristine white couch
the Nikto adjusted his aim a fraction to track downwards
and concentrated on the datapad.
The galaxy was tearing itself apart. Some said it had all started ten years earlier when Valorum's increasing of taxation had resulted in the Trade Federation invading Naboo...but Casbek knew that Naboo had just been the final straw; a last, slight tug that had begun the unravelling of the fabric of the Republic.
Where many still believed in the Republic; Amidala, Moe, Organa, Palpatine and Casbek himself, hundreds of other senators and their worlds had ceded from the Republic. And it looked like the Trade Federation, Banking Clans and other galactic corporations were throwing in their lot with the separatists.
With some in the senate calling for the creation of a Republic Army it fell to negotiators to diffuse the situation. People like senator Casbek.
In a day's time he was to meet with senators from Bespin, Sluis Van, Praesitlyn and countless other separatist and would-be separatist worlds. Casbek was confident that his silver tongue could bring the wayward systems back into the fold, but nevertheless he read and reread his notes.
And awaited the call.

Almost eight hours he had lay there, motionless except for the occasional subtle tensing of a few muscles to fight off cramps. First a leg. Coil and tense the toes. Roll the heel a bit. Ten minutes later he'd tense his calf, knee, then thigh. Never enough to throw his aim off. The crosshairs never left the orange-clad human. Never strayed from a terminal point on the senator's body. The injections to his eyes to eliminate the need to blink and to keep them moist had stung like murder before his insertion but the pain had gone now to be replaced by eternal vigilance.
Yet no matter how good a sharpshooter he was (and he was among if not the best) the 12.7mm ardanium round chambered in his rifle could not penetrate the armoured transparisteel of the virgin white villa a thousand meters downrange.
One million credits, the Mandalorian had said. And that was just the down payment. Another mill and a job offer on completion.
Republic senator Pall Casbek.
One shot.
You'll know when to take it; when...
The Nikto came out of his reverie as the young human soldier came closer, his commlink back in a pouch and a fair bit of ash dangling from the cig in his mouth.
As the soldier came closer and closer the sniper was sure that he hadn't been spotted; the boy's rifle was over one shoulder, not butt-against-the-shoulder, up in the aim, pointed at the sniper's back as it should be. Still, as he came to within a couple of meters he left the Nikto's field of vision.
The sniper could feel the bulk of his own sidearm; a huge suppressed Morellian pistol, against his right thigh. But to move his right hand from the rifle would be to potentially lose the shot, and he hadn't even heard the boy soldier ready a weapon. Perhaps the human intended to grapple him at the last minute, take him alive. Still, that was what the knives sheathed under the sniper's forearms were for. Those and his horny Nikto brow kept him safe when firearms failed him.
Not daring to move a muscle though dividing his attention between the Republic senator sat on a luxurious couch a kilometre away in another world, and the young soldier standing only a meter to the left of the hidden, prone sniper, he was most unprepared for what sounded like the first drops of a tropical downpour.
Then the smell hit him as the human continued to relieve himself into the bush adjacent to and partially concealing the Nikto's head. Ten hours earlier he had prepared himself for a prolonged wait in the jungle, fitting himself with a catheter, eating dry rations and taking enough meds to constipate himself for a week all to ensure that he wouldn't have to leave any sign...and here he was being pissed on by some grunt barely out of boot.

Casbek put the datapad down again and pulled his commlink from his belt
All thoughts of the urine shower fled his mind and he took up the first trigger pressure, steadying the crosshairs on the side of the human's neck. If the transparisteel held, which it probably would, he'd need to eject the brass, chamber a second round and get it into the senator's skull in a split second. Then deal with the soldier
nothing but static. Casbek sighed. The governor's villa, situated as it was at the end of a mountain valley, was prone to communications problems. Walking across to the wall terminal he commed the kitchens and ordered a meal brought up. The governor had assured him that offworld comms, routed through orbiting satellites, would still reach Casbek's commlink, and the remoteness of the villa enabled the senator to be hidden from those who opposed his role in the upcoming conference...but he'd have to use the building's hardlines to order eats.

The rifle's crosshairs were now lined up on the base of the human's skull. The atlas: the first vertebra. The Nikto took slow, full breaths to oxygenate himself, sheer willpower enabling him to ignore the runoff from the bush above him, as he had ignored the thousands of insects, arachnids and invertebrates who had investigated, climbed over or bitten him over the past eight and a half hours.

His cig nearly spent the young man reached down into his thigh holster for the pack and slapped a fresh one out. As he did, he noticed that the leafy outcropping he now stood on gave him a view of the governor's villa and his orange-clad charge within. The view a little obscured by a tree to his left, he stepped up onto the wobbly, fallen tree by his right foot as he lit his new cig.

Feeling the soldier about to move to the right the Nikto tensed the muscles of his rib cage as the human's right boot came to rest between his shoulder blades, the left boot a second later a foot further down his spine.

Tossing the dead cig butt onto the mossy tree under him the boy soldier reached for his lighter and flicked it open. No flame.
Had he been less engrossed in his rolled cut of tobacco the young private might have noticed that the man whose life he had been entrusted with the protection of, was about to answer a call on his commlink.

Just as he walked back toward the couch and the discarded datapad for a tenth review of his notes, senator Casbek's commlink chimed. Taking it from his belt a cultured female voice emanated from it's speaker; “#static# Casbek? #static#-tage wishes to speak with you.”
Casbek pushed the commlink to his ear and walked toward the window, praying for a clearer signal.

Ribs straining, the Nikto kept his torso rigid and took minute breaths as the senator answered his commlink.
Left temple. In through the frontal lobe. Perhaps not a kill but it should get the job done.
The crosshairs and the senator's head moved as one, a confused look on his face as he crossed the room.
Toward the balcony door.
The crosshairs settled once more just below the human's left ear and the Nikto took up first pressure, half exhaling.

“Ah! At last I can hear you mister Pestage!” Casbek said with a smile as he stepped out onto the balcony; out of the cool, controlled and safe environment of the villa and out into the fierce heat of the jungle and a galaxy teetering on the bring of war.

As the young soldier's lighter finally produced a flame, an ardanium slug tore through senator Casbek's medulla oblongata, spraying his brains back into the pure white villa and ending any chance of peace between the Republic and Separatist worlds.

Hearing a suppressed gunshot and the sound of a bolt slamming home virtually under his feet the confused soldier began to look down…and the Nitko rolled, drawing his pistol as the human toppled from his back.
The boy’s eyes managed to pick out the alien’s dark orbs, buried in a mound of vegetation, a microsecond before the chunky silencer of an Enforcer pistol as thick as the human’s own forearm appeared in his face.
A double-tap left two foaming holes in the human’s forehead as the custom slugs vomited forth their borless acid yields and the soldier's comm exploded with traffic The senator is down! The senator is down!

Picking the two cig stubs from his ghillie suit and the brass casings ejected from his pistol, Garloz 'Whitefeather' packed up his rifle and silently slipped away through the jungle to his RV with the last Mandalorian.

Some hours later the Nikto, still clad in his ghillie suit, crested another rise and looked down on his employer's starship; a grey, slightly battered transport of singularly strange design. The vessel's cockpit faced the heavens and it's sublight drives rested on the floor of the jungle clearing. Small, stubby winglets extended from low on either side of its strange fuselage and it's high tail mounted a pair of blaster cannons. And stood under those cannons, at the bottom of the ship's ramp, clad in burnished blue and silver battle armour was Jango Fett.

Pistol out before him in a two handed grip which also let him draw the knife from his right forearm with ease (a technique he'd learned from an old soldier and friend) Whitefeather stalked down the tree-covered ridge.
In truth he trusted Fett to honour their deal but trust hadn't kept Whitefeather alive all these years. And, after just completing the assassination of a prominent Republic senator ahead of a peace conference, the fact that Fett was a bounty hunter was foremost in the Nikto's mind.
Yet he's just stood there in the clearing. His Westars aren't even drawn.
It was then that he caught a familiar whiff of Corellian double-brandy, stale caff and cigars. Wheeling around toward the smell he was too slow; a leathery tanned arm encircled his neck and he felt the point of a blade against his throat.
Whitefeather immediately released his grip on the mammoth pistol, letting it hang from his trigger finger, held up his hands...
and began to chuckle.
"Well well, Old Man you got me," he said in a hoarse whisper, "I should've know it was you who gave Fett my name, you old bas-"
"Language," the knife wielder reprimanded him in a Corellian accent.
"How's the family?" the Nikto teased as Fett began striding over to them.
"Which karkin' one? I oughta skin ya, lizard," the Corellian replied.
The two stopped their banter as the bounty hunter drew near.
"The senator's death is already all over the newsnets, good work," the T-visored helmet nodded appreciatively then looked past Whitefeather's right ear to the Correllian with the knife.
"Aricoza, I think you can let him go now."
The knife removed from his throat, Garloz turned and embraced the old soldier. Diermon Alvis Aricoza.

Fett stood back as the Nikto sniper and the grim, scarred old warrior caught up, and finally when the curses and insults had died down he presented Whitefeather with the balance of his payment.
"A credchip for one million, Republic. Munnillinst guaranteed."
The Nikto, removing his bulky ghillie suit, took it and looked to the Mando'a; "what about this job you mentioned?" then to Aricoza, "you're in on this?"
The old soldier stood to his left, trying to light a cigar. Garloz sighed and tossed him the boy soldier's lighter.
"Here. This one works."
Aricoza deftly caught it and lit his main pleasure in life. Finally he nodded his tanned head of cropped steel-grey hair.
The Mandalorian motioned toward his ship; "Come. Let's get off this rock and discuss you joining us as Cuy'val Dar."
"Garloz," Aricoza spoke as the three professional killers walked to the Firespray transport, "I never asked; you like kids?"



Ronin's note: Garloz Whitefeather is inspired by gunny Carlos N Hathcock II (1942-1999), an amazing marine sniper who fought in the Vietnam war. I thoroughly recommend reading about him if you ever get the chance.

Crymoon
22 September 2006, 09:40 AM
Ronin I bow before you - not because of your 500 posts or your upcoming 27th birthday but this story got a hold of me and didn't allow me to turn my eyes even for split second.
You've got real talent there.

You have to write some more..

Slave_1
22 September 2006, 09:41 AM
Very nice job! As a member of the U.S. military, your depictions are accurate and believable. I esspecially like that your sniper used a slugthower rather a blaster (wich cannot be silenced).

How did you get the idea for the cathader and "eye drop" injections? Great stuff!

Ronin
22 September 2006, 09:49 AM
Cheers guys! :)
A lot of thanks goes to Johnny Putrid for proof reading, I designate him my "Military Consultant" :emperor:

Yeah, I didn't want to have Garloz using a blaster since the idea of silencing/invisiblizing(?!) a blaster bolt just doesn't sit right with me. The idea of the catheter came from me wanting to have him totally prepared for days or if necessary weeks on end in the jungle and leaving absolutely no biological evidence* (alas in the end he leaves a corpse with a melted head anyway:rolleyes: ), and the eye injections...I just wanted something squeamish ;)

Garloz will feature in another story, this one done by myself and Johnny (since Aricoza is his character) detailing how the two met...


* some credit also goes to Andy McNab and the antics of his Nick Stone character.

Ronin
25 September 2006, 03:33 AM
Just a little teaser:
Myself and Johnny Putrid are working on a joint Aricoza-Whitefeather prequel to One Shot.
One could almost call it an Aricoza versus Whitefeather story...