Taeva is fully recovered now and so the party members make their final preparations for the assault upon Darlesworth House. Knowing that one air/raft is not going to be big enough to contain the six of them plus all of their gear, Max goes on the scrounge to the Imperial Marines and manages to borrow a second air/raft from them, which they load up with all their gear.
They set off at 10pm in the two air/rafts with Max piloting the first one and Autumn following right behind him in the second.
The two air/rafts land a mile north of the mansion after a 45 minute journey. Leaving Autumn with the two vehicles, the remainder of the party then make the remainder of the journey on foot, arriving a little before midnight.
They spend over an hour reconnoitring the mansion. It is a very large building which must have a central courtyard. The building seems to be quite old and looks as if it was abandoned at one stage as it shows many signs of disrepair and is covered in ivy. However, the fact that there are lights coming from most of the rooms is sign that it is most definitely still occupied.
There are two sentries on duty walking around the perimeter of the building, taking around five minutes to complete the circuit.
After more than an hour, they see that the sentries do not leave sentry duty to report in, although they might have radios.
Once the party members see that there is little else to learn from their reconnaissance, they form up into three different groups; Jie and Will close to the main door, Arvor and Max close to one back door, with Taeva and Grim at the other.
Jie is the first to act. She draws her cutlass and rushes towards the first of the sentries. Jie is not known for her great stealth, however, and the guard turns round, alerted by the sound of her boots in the gravel and ducks away from the flashing blade. Before he is able to sound the alarm though, Arvor draws a bead on the sentry with his gauss rifle and the sentry falls in a flurry of needles.
On the opposite side of the house, Taeva has no problem in bringing down the second sentry with a quick blast from her gauss pistol. Both sentries are now taken out.
The party members spend a while deciding whether they should take separate entrances or all go in together. They decide on the latter, although Arvor and Jie swap places.
Arvor starts off the assault by going through the front door, which he finds is unlocked. Upon entering the door, he finds that there are two rebels manning an LMG behind an emplacement made from sand bags. Neither of them were prepared for visitors though and so Arvor quickly takes both of them down before they know what hit them.
Taeva and Grim make a more cautious entry into the building. Jie doesn’t – she just kicks the back door in, spots a very surprised looking guard inside the billiard room and so lobs a grenade at him, which takes out both the guard and the door he was standing in front of.
Hearing the explosion nearby, Grim realizes that there’s no point in trying to take the stealthy approach any longer. Once he gets into his corridor, he fires a couple of RAM grenades at the rebel who is guarding it. The guard is instantly mashed into paste, and Grim also manages to take out the door and quite a sizeable chunk of wall in the process.
Unsurprisingly, the sound of grenades alerts the rebels to the fact that there are intruders in the building. One rebels comes through the broken doorway and fires a burst at Jie. She just manages to avoid the worst of it by dodging and keeps to her feet, but she is far from well. Much to his surprise, Max manages to drop the guard with a burst from his gauss pistol – the first time that he has managed to take anyone down for quite a while.
A few metres away, the situation is repeated as another of the rebels takes revenge for one of his colleagues getting mashed by Grim. The rebel unleashes a volley which catches Grim fullsquare in the chest and he immediately hits the ground. Taeva too gets some retribution by dropping the rebel before she tells the others of the fact that Grim is down.
Will starts to run in Grim’s direction, but he’s on the wrong side of the building.
Jie advances cautiously after coming so close to being taken down, but it seems as if the rebels are securing their positions. She can hear someone waiting for her at the top of the staircase. She lobs another grenade up the staircase, but it simply rolls back down again, forcing her and Max to run for cover to avoid getting hit.
Taeva and Arvor explore the rooms around them, but it appears as if the ground floor is clear now. Arvor spots another rebel on the staircase, taking him down before the rebel can fire.
Taeva has met up with Jie now and the pair of them advance on the back staircase. Taeva sees the rebel guarding it and manages to take him down.
Will has managed to meet up with Grim now. Now that Will has access to all of his medical equipment, he’s in fine form and manages to get Grim back on his feet again. The pair of them head off and join up with Taeva and Jie’s assault up the back staircase.
At the front of the house, Arvor cautiously advances. He finds another rebel at the top, but takes him down before the rebel can fire. Reaching the top of the landing, he sees one more in the corridor leading from it, and adds one more kill to his tally.
Meanwhile, at the back staircase, Taeva opens the doorway at the top and finds two more rebels hiding behind doorways. She shoots at one of them, but only manages to injure one of them. Jie comes through after her and takes one of them down.
No sooner has she dropped the rebel though than another comes through the doorway. Everything goes in slow motion as the rebel aims at her from almost point blank range. But the rebel does not fire at her. Instead he calls to her:
Jie looks as if she has seen a ghost.
Jie lets Black Betty fall to the ground.
“Stop firing!” the rebel leader calls to the other rebel close by.
The other rebel looks very confused, but lowers his weapon. He’s not the only one who’s confused – it’s obvious that Taeva also has no idea what the hell’s going on here.
“So it is you, Jie,” the rebel leader says.
“Everyone hold fire,” he says, calling into his radio.
Jie runs over to him and the pair of them embrace.
Taeva is far from happy with this development:
“Fuck this, Jie. Where’s the Big Man? He can’t get away!”
James is ignoring Taeva as he holds Jie in a tight embrace.
“You’re injured,” he says, caressing her hair. “You really should just knock on the door next time you pay me a visit. I had no idea who it was attacking us.”
“James,” Jie says hurriedly. “We have come to bring this rebel … the Major … to justice. You can …”
“The rebels used Trexalon technology to attack the starport,” Jie adds. “We tracked them to here. Do you know this Major guy?”
“Ah, yes,” James says. “The Major … that would be me. I got a promotion after I left the Marines. Finally some worth cause recognizes my brilliance as a tactician and rewards me for my talents and service.”
Taeva can’t believe what’s going on here and calls on the radio:
“Arvor, we need extra cover here. Jie’s gone all nuts on us.”
Jie can’t believe what James is telling her. She pulls back and looks at him with a mixture of shock and revulsion:
“So shall we all go downstairs again and have a drink and a chat?” James asks.
Jie puts her hand back on Black Betty, tears welling up in her eyes. “No …”
“No,” Taeva says too, finally in agreement with Jie. “You’ll sit the fuck down and we’ll cuff you.”
“There’s no need for that,” James says to her, authoratively.
“Back away, Jie,” Taeva says, drawing a bead on James.
“Who is this, Jie?” asks Grim.
“James … come with us and I will ensure your safety and a fair trial,” Jie says to him, pleadingly.
She then looks to Grim with pain written all over her face.
“Trial?” James practically spits. “I have done nothing wrong. I am a liberator, working with these oppressed people to restore democracy to their fine world. We are freedom fighters.”
“Jie?” Grim calls again.
Jie realizes that all her love for him has now gone. The man is obviously mad.
Taeva points her pistol at James’ knee.
James is starting to get angry.
“So you’re still working for the fascist Imperials, are you? Can’t you see that they are an evil empire? They claim that they want to ‘protect’ worlds, while all they care about is exploiting resources and creating buffer zones.”
Jie turns to Grim.
“Grim … this is the man that murdered Sargent Beverly Meyers … here on Tarkine,” she whispers.
Arvor has had enough of this now. He raises his Navy issued experimental stun carbine at James then pulls the trigger. Uncharacteristically his shot is a glancing one but James still drops to the ground, paralyzed. His mind still awake, eyes wide open but the rest of his body laying on the floor inert.
Jie explains the whole story to Grim about how Beverly died – by a bullet through the head from James’ pistol.
Grim’s face blanches of colour as he hears the story, his face a picture of pain and anguish.
“That’s 250k in the bag,” Taeva says as she looks at James’ unmoving form.
Grim isn’t listening to her though. Calmly, he walks up to the James’s prostrate form, raises his auto pistol, and shoots a bullet between James’s wide, frightened eyes.
“What the fuck did you do that for?!” Taeva cries. “That was a month’s payment.”
“We’ll just have to find a real cargo this trip,” Grim says between gritted teeth.
He turns on his heel and then walks right out of the building, without looking back.
Jie’s tear-filled eyes are fixed on James now lifeless body.
“It’s better this way,” she says to Taeva. “James couldn’t stand another trial. He already shows … showed … signs of madness.”
Taeva throws her hands up. “Whatever.”
Jie cradles James’ body in her arms, obviously totally messed up by the entire experience.
Max follows Grim out of the building, but doesn’t say a word to him. Once outside, he calls Autumn in over the commo, telling her to drive the air/raft to the house.
Taeva searches the place for anything of value. There’s very little original furniture in the house – just more weapons and military issue equipment. In James’ bedroom though, she gets lucky – finding a safe hidden under a dust sheet.
The safe has only a rather primitive mechanical lock. It takes just a couple of minutes for her to crack it with her tools and she is inside. To her delight, she finds that the safe contains Cr.160,000.
Autumn arrives in the air/raft and then ferries Max back to pick up the others. By the time both air/rafts have returned, the others have dragged James’ body out of the building.
No one says a word as they load up the air/raft with the body and the equipment which they have taken. The two air/rafts then make their way back to the starport in silence. Will tends to Jie’s wounds during the trip, healing her of the damage caused.
Upon arrival back at the starport, the two air/rafts land. Jie and Grim both head to their cabin without saying a word to the others, leaving the rest of them to unload the air/raft, placing James’ body in the Med Bay for now.
It’s been a long and difficult day for everyone, so they all head for their cabins.