The operation was far more than just the squad sitting in the bay of a U-Wing transport, the doors left open and troopers in seats ready to drop off them in a pre-trained order, to keep the ships hovering in place for as short a time as possible. There was no light in the cabin, except for a red shade that allowed enough vision for them to move about without bumping into one another. The landscape of the planet below, of metoerite-pocked, dusty tan rock, was muted by the light of three moons.
The ship, one of several, followed the jagged contours of Kol Jagoth's surface, using the cover of an A-wing's jammer to provide a further buffer against detection. Despite the weeks of preparation by local forces, the Empire was not expecting a heavy strike force. Timing and coordination between disparate elements of the task force were crucial to the success of the mission, but that was not unusual in the Rebellion. Stretched resources and constantly evolving strategic and tactical considerations required a constant shifting of resources on an ad hoc basis. Experienced units became used to the need to adapt and improvise.
The larger picture was of a distant concern to Gold Squad, 1st Platoon, Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Uslam Liberators Regiment who were mostly concerned with the crucial first moments of the planned engagement, getting off the ship fast and hitting the Imperial forces on site hard enough and fast enough to overwhelm the opposition.
None of that was guaranteed. Plans did not always survive the first contact. But experienced helped; Rebel HQ held a reserve of experienced saboteurs and operatives in reserve for crucial strategic operations, but the bulk of the work doing raids and combat fell to Sector Forces, local Rebel guerrilla groups that lived and died by the element of surprise and by getting out before the Empire could hammer them. Where the enemy was weak, they hit. Where it was strong, they avoided battle. When the enemy reinforced, they melted away.
But sometimes, a bigger stick was required for actions where the enemy forces were of a known quantity or quality, or the position was hardened. Sometimes, the risks were necessary. In this part of the Galaxy, near Hutt Space, the quick reaction force, or force sent to plug the gaps and add extra muscle were the Uslam Liberators, the same regiments that gave the Empire a bitter three month siege that ended with the remanants of the Uslam Defense Forces being evacuated.
1st Liberators were still fighting a guerrilla action on Uslam, despite the pressure. The 2nd were now fleet troops, broken up into platoon-sized elements across a number of ships in the Rebel Fleet in the Outer Rim.
Occasionally, more than one platoon came together for larger scale operations; Kol Jagoth's political prisoner camp was one such operation.
It was a large ISB holding facility for political dissidents with COMPFORCE recruits training nearby and getting experience in the field hunting escapees and running realistic patrols in a low-intensity environment, providing muscle as a local garrison, which was a necessity because Kol Jagoth was also mineral rich and had <insert mineral> mining and refining operations that were vunerable to sabotage by insurgents and escapees. The security risks were worth the profit margin to certain conglomerates that helped certain officers wet their beaks. Occupational safety was not a concern; such work was brutal and had a high turnover rate from accidents and punishments. That helped keep the operating costs down -- it turned out that seasoning green troops with guard duty and patrols was cheaper than workplace safety; it made sense with the margins.
These were enemies of the Empire who were not coming back.
Intelligence determined that certain individuals needed to be rescued. The work that went into it was reconaissance by local guerrilla networks which had way more eyes than guns, counting heads, noting times of patrols and patterns. Reporting the raw data out to Intelligence, who then compiled maps, charts and timetables. They had operations officers working on the plan. Those beings determined, based on the gathered information, that a small extraction team would not be sufficient given the size of the security force and the risks involved. It was a stark choice; bring enough firepower or go home.
The decision was made to use assets on the planet, but also to bring in infantry. The Uslam Liberators were considered "light infantry" and were ship-based. They had a degree of firepower, capability to be landed by various means from their ship and delivered, if viable, with fast armored speeders called Freerunners, that could carry a squad apiece into the fight with heavy weapons in support. But they were not a match when the Empire brought in slower but much heavier walkers and started a sustained bombardment.
The Liberators knew that, they'd been there. But Task Force NEXU command then brought in starfighter support from the 7th Roving Line, which was essentially a heavily refitted cruiser called the "Kashyyyk" that carried three squadrons; Buccaneers Squadron (Blue), Gambler Squadron (Red) and Gunslinger Squadron (Gold.)
What it boiled down to was a battalion of troops, a flotilla of small ships protecting the Kashyyyk along with Blue Squadron, Red providing top cover against TIE fighters and anything else in the air and Gold hitting selected targets.
Weeks in the gathering of resources, staging of logistics and, of course, acquiring sufficient transport for the people being liberated from the Kol Jagoth camp. Only a couple people were being extracted from the planet via a fast courier for the task, they were key individuals. The rest would be lifted if possible, or given the option of joining the Rebellion's local forces and dying with their boots on.
It was considered a 'recruitment drive.' The Liberators were tasked with taking the perimeter and securing the compound while Intelligence's technicians sliced the command center (once taken by Liberators) and started opening up barracks. Meanwhile, there were COMPFORCE troops that might come back from patrols and they were to be dealt with. The idea was to hold long enough to spring prisoners and then extract. Violence of action was expected to carry them through.
The upshot was that when Besk felt the U-Wing brake hard, he knew the cabin light would come on without looking. He knew that they were descending as soon as the braking started or it would have taken him by surprise - it was not a gentle landing, but a stop in mid air and a sudden stomach-clenching drop even as he yelled, "GOLD READY!" There was no exhortation about the Force or any quippy battlecry, there was a focus on getting out of the vulnerable vehicle as quickly as possible so it could get topside and start supporting from the air with laser cannon, repeating blasters, manned by door gunners, and additional rockets added on as a modification for close air support. The doors were extra large compared to stock and folding benches reconfigured to make it easier for a squad, nine beings, to land quickly under fire, without door gunners having to get out of the way, and without benches blocking access to either side.
They hit the dust of Khol Jagoth already with the weapons firing and explosions going off, inside the compound and headed for their designated strongpoint.
The COMFPORCE fire team on watch in that quadrant, holding down the area saw something different from the typical Imperial propaganda vid of Rebel troops, who were often cast to look like Huttese palace guards, thuggish and dirty and mean. These Rebels wore camouflage uniforms and load bearing equipment over loose smocks, colored for the dusty tan terrain they were working in. They had helmets, they had goggles, they had blasters with optics. A lot of this was modified by ingenious quartermasters trying to keep their people ready to fight, and a lot of it was sourced hiking gear and private market stuff, which was sometimes much better in quality than the Imperial Issue stuff, even for COMPFORCE, who got the cream of the equipment. One thing the vids got right was just how many of the Rebels had beards. The idea was that you didn't shoot someone with a beard, because the Imperials shaved. It was a rough and ready rule of thumb that made ex-Imperial military types nuts. The Liberators didn't care and it saved the Rebellion money on shaving kits.
They shouted to each other over the din of battle, no longer worrying about being overheard, but in a shorthand that was meant to quickly and clearly convey only the necessary communications; "Shift fire!" "3 at 12!" and so forth.
The last thing they'd see was the blast of coordinated fire as Liberators fired in their assigned sectors, carefully coordinated by experienced NCO's. The Assault Troopers were there to get seasoning, but instead wound up cooked. Similar fights were breaking out all over the base. Comms were reserved for coordination between units, but so far, things were on schedule. The platoon had a specific objective; once the dust cleared and the COMPFORCE troopers were confirmed dead, they shifted into the corridors of the command facility while other units took up position as blocking forces. This was where the casualties would happen, the cornering and the breaching, the chaotic close quarters fighting.
Besk knew that the plan involved the Liberators taking on the Imperial forces within the compound and clearing the way for the Intelligence guys who would prance in and start disabling security systems. It didn't mean he had to like it.
Like, love, hate, he brought enough sonic grenades to the party and they came in as soon as the grenade went off, taking surprised COMPFORCE troopers by surprise, but he didn't expect the luck to last. This was going to be a hairy one, especially as soon as someone decided to use their head and suck the Liberators in rather than come out to meet them...@Jackdaw