The Force Wars
Posts: 22
  • Posted On: Sep 19 2013 8:43pm
Bburru Station, Duro
Duro Uprising +17 Days

The best part of the Alliance, the part that kept it alive, the part that kept the whole thing from unraveling with a single frayed thread, was compartmentalization. Two people, best friends, next-door-neighbors, folks who had known each other from infancy, could each be Sormtrooper-killing, weapons cache-destroying, revolution-inducing rebels by night, and neither have the slightest suspicion of the other's loyalties. It's a beautiful thing, really.

Also, it means when some random guy shows up and starts blowing away parts of your space-city, shouting about Republic and Liberty, you don't have any idea whether or not he's just some crazy guy with too much ordnance, or if he's your new boss. At least, that's how things looked from Rana Ibsen's perspective.

And Rana Ibsen was a Rebel, as much as anybody could be. She didn't have a name tag or anything, but then she wouldn't be alive to rebel if she had. Because like any good Rebel, Rana had been almost-caught more times than she could count. But for every one of the Imperial Governor's near-captures, Rana Ibsen had a story of how she'd undermined the power and authority of the Galactic Empire.

It'd started with simple things, really, like slicing public service terminals to display Alliance propaganda, or splicing the old emblem of the New Repubic into holo-ads, appearing every time the projector cycled between content. It had escalated quickly, though, once she met him.

He wasn't a man, though, not really. He couldn't be. Mr. Universe was everywhere, especially back in those days, before Coruscant fell, before the major HoloNet channels splintered. And once Mr. Universe got his hooks . . . claws? . . . talons – whatever – into Rana, her course was set. Her destiny was decided. She was an operative. An asset.

She understood that the Alliance was using her; she got that. She did what she did, so when – and it was always “when,” never “if” - when the Empire caught her, and tortured her, and combed through her mind, they wouldn't find anything they could use against the Alliance. No names, no locations, and by the time they finally broke her, not even any usable contact protocols. This was a one-way relationship, and when it finally ended, Rana would be the one left out in the rain.

But Rana was good at what she did. And it was important. Now, she had contacts. Now, she had access. Now, Duro was her turf, and if it happened around Duro, then she found out about it. And if she found out about it, the Alliance found out about it.

That is, until Captain Atlom, commander of Atlom's Reds: he called himself a member of the Alliance, he whipped up plenty of support in the shortest imaginable span of time, but nobody knew who the frack he was! There was no information on him in-system, no information on him from her usual off-world contacts, and even when she risked a two-way exchange through the Mr. Universe network, the only response she got was “No information available”. Not particularly reassuring.

The truth of the matter was: Rana Ibsen wasn't even sure if these people were actually Rebels. And that was too big of a question to go unanswered, so she rolled up her sleeves and she dug into Atlom's Reds. The Imperial governor had been posting bounties on Atlom and his lieutenants since fighting first broke out, since he got his hands on the first grainy holo of one of them leading a charge down one of Bburru Station's corridor-streets. A few had names attached, but most were unidentified.

Most were unidentified to the Imperials, that is. Rana had channels that the Imps didn't, though. She had a little money in an anonymous account, “pocket change” to the Alliance higher-ups, she was sure, but enough to get contacts singing to her tune, when needed. It hadn't been all that hard for her to compile a list of names from overheard conversations, intercepted comm chatter, and unconfirmed identifications. With that list of names she could hit the local databases, hard.

It had taken a lot of digging, more sweeps of facial recognition programs than she could count, and too many sleepless nights, but finally, she stumbled onto something. An offworlder wouldn't have noticed, she was sure; they would have needed the contacts, the access to restricted databases that she'd cultivated over these past years, to get access to the old military backups. An alien wouldn't have noticed; other species had a hard time picking up on the subtle features that distinguish one Duros from another. Another Duros wouldn't notice; they cared more about the ancient heroes from the Duros' Golden Age than the recent history of her people's best and brightest.

Providence, it would seem, had given Rana Ibsen every tool she needed for just this occasion, for the one fateful day when her path crossed with Mazik Stazi, hero of the New Republic.

But was it really him? The most recent image on file was more than a decade old, and the Imperial Bounty was grainy, distant, and off-center. And Rana knew better than most that just because someone had the name of a famous person, that didn't make the two to be one and the same; she had the name of Duro's most praised queen, after all. It was entirely possible that this man was only using the name of Mazik Stazi for exactly the kind of effect it was having on Rana at that very moment. She just couldn't be sure, not without making contact, and that simply wasn't an option.

But in the last days of the battle, when any hope of Imperial victory was lost, the tenor of the battle shifted, and Rana Ibsen's hand was forced. Even if they hadn't been evil, vile, despicable, murderous fiends, the Empire still would have wrecked every piece of hardware and infrastructure that could be put to military use, before its last shuttle launched with its last wave of fleeing troopers. That was the way of war: deprive the enemy of every possible asset.

There was another way of war, though, that was of the most pressing concern to Rana. As she looked at the burning streets of her home city, at the diagnostic reports showing multiple breaches along Bburru's outer hull, at the shuttles launching by the hundreds to bury the dead on Duro's surface, she knew that all of this would be for naught, if Duro could not hold in the weeks and months to come. It was one thing to throw off your oppressor's shackles; it was quite another to withstand the strike of their vengeful whip.

And so she had a choice to make. It was a simple choice, really. It might not even matter in the long run, but she still had the choice, and she still had to make it. Before the Imps trashed the last hyperwave transceiver and burned Duro's only link to the galaxy and the rebellion hiding in its shadows, she'd either have to send the message, or not. Staring at the image of the young Duro admiral on the bridge of his flagship, the last picture of the man she knew to be Mazik Stazi, she made her decision.

She lied, with all of the conviction that her love of this world allowed.

* * *

Munificent-class Star Frigate Songbird, Deep Space deployment

They hadn't heard from High Command in months. Messages were coming in, messages were going out, but orders . . . did such a thing even exist anymore, or was it just the job now? Just plug away, plug away, and hope something gives?

The Skynet program was still running, as far as anyone on-board could tell, anyway, but the damage to the Holonet wreaked by the loss of Coruscant had severely impaired its effectiveness in the Core. The network that Skynet had built, however, the Mr. Universe persona used and adapted by Alliance operatives and troublemakers all across the galaxy, that was still very much alive. And Songbird was the crossroads, the place where all of the information gleaned by Mr. Universe came. Some of it was sorted here, most of it was beamed to Intelligence data analysis stations for in-depth review. But every now and then, some spark of the old Skynet would latch on to some scrap of data, and make sure the crew of Songbird knew about it.

Garen Racto all but collapsed at his workstation at the rear of the bridge, causing a bit of a commotion when he caught himself from toppling over. Captain Harkoon was used to it by now, but that didn't alleviate his discomfort at either the thought or reality of what was happening to a member of his crew. “Come on, come on, let's sit you down,” Harkoon said as softly as his gruff voice could manage, grabbing Garen by the shoulders and helping him into a chair. “What is it this time?” he asked, knowing Garen didn't like to be coddled in these moments of weakness.

“There's a message coming in through the Core network,” Garen said weakly, reaching a shaky hand to his console so he could access it for the bridge to hear. His right eye was twitching slightly, and Harkoon had learned that was a sure sign that the cyborg was suffering through another migraine, fighting to keep from anyone finding out how bad these bouts were getting.

Whatever interface Skynet had cobbled together between itself and Garen's neural implant, the Borg Construct Aj^6 embedded in his skull wasn't designed for this kind of task. “I've almost got it,” Garen said, his voice even smaller than usual. “Here.”

The message was audio only, but there was a tag showing its route through the HoloNet, tracing all the way back to its origin: Duro. With a press of a button, the message played for everyone present to hear.

“This is Operative Kay-Vee-Seven-Dash-Oh-Oh-Red, to Mr. Universe. If you're still out there, if you can hear this, then the Alliance needs to know: Admiral Mazik Stazi, former commander of the New Republic First Fleet, has liberated Duro from Imperial oppression. Withdrawing Imperial forces are destroying all accessible military infrastructure, including communications arrays. I expect the system to be in full communications blackout within twenty-four hours. We expect an imminent counter-attack from Imperial naval forces, and require Fleet assistance if Duro is to hold. We're all alone out here, and the dark is closing in. Operative Kay-Vee-Seven-Dash-Oh-Oh-Red, signing out.”

Captain Harkoon struggled to wrap his mind around what the report meant. “Do we have independent confirmation?” he finally asked, looking to his communications officer for a report.

The Rodian officer did a quick search of her records before answering. “No sir. Everything that's come out of Duro to us in the last three months has been from that operative. She's given reliable intel to date, though,” the officer added.

“Do we have any assets in the region?” Harkoon asked, turning to his tactical officer. Garen would usually handle that kind of check, but the captain wasn't going to ask any more of the man for the time being.

The Ugnaught at the tactical station shook his head. “We don't have access to anything coreward of Yag'Dhul. We could try contacting High Command and see if they have any assets nearby?”

Harkoon shook his head immediately. “We haven't heard from High Command in months. Why would this change anything? No, we handle this ourselves.”

“But how?” Garen asked, sitting up a little straighter. He seemed to be over the worst of it now. “Who do we tell?”

Harkoon's eyes cut from Garen to comms as his mind lighted upon the answer. “Everyone. We tell everyone we're still in contact with. Every fleet element, every resistance cell, every allied world, every secure asset. Send them the message, send them the providence, and leave it in their hands. It's the best we can do, one little Songbird flitting through the black . . .”
Posts: 142
  • Posted On: Sep 20 2013 2:25am
Lower Pleasure level.

Like many who survived the battle over Sullust Raymond Mosses was anything but ready to trust the Rebel Alliance. He had done his job for Rob Stellar and nearly died because the Rebs can not seem to pull their head out of their own asses. A bigger cluster frack he had not seen. He was the dancers in this cantina had better Intel than the rebels did going into Sullust. As he looked around the dark, smoky room he decided which one he was going to drill for information later to prove his point to himself. Ah yes he always liked the greener shades. He took a drink and watched as the lekku of the one he picked ornamented in crystals and jewels. Yes she was the one. Blue was so Old Republic., green was what he liked. Just as she finished her dance and Raymond moved to get up a hand hit his shoulder and pushed him back down into his seat.

"Stay where you are mister Mosses, We need a moment of your time."

Ray knew who it was and most likely why they were there. Rob had told him to stick around, not leave the system which pissed him off from the word go. He had swore an oath to rob he wish he could take back. Sure the money was good. And he had to admit the cause was worth the effort, but he did not have any kind of death wish at this point in his life. Too many cantina girls on Denon to keep happy.

"What does rob want this time Kert, He need some fat cat rolled?"

Two men sat at the table across from Ray looking ominous and dark. That seemed to be the look for lower Denon these days. Half the patrons of this bar fit the profile.

"Rob needs you to go back inside the Alliance. He said he needs you to , as he put it, do what you do."

Roy barked a laugh, the dark ominous man at the table looked over at him scowling with displeasure. Roy waved him off and sat back in his chair.

"Kert, The last place I want to be is back on a damn starship. You have any idea haw hard it is to run through one of them if needed. Hatchways, lift tubes, locked access points. Brother I tell you it is not easy."

The second man let out a snicker then went back to his assigned dark ominous job. Kert however did not break character.

"I am not here to ask nicely Ray. I was told this is important and that I was to convince you to come with us. That being said I do not wish to spend the better part of the night in a hospital ward so I will not force you to come. I will just leave you with this. Rob said Reshmar is off the rails."

Ray sat thinking of the implications of the message. Why did he care what the old squid head was up too. He knew Rob had plans for the Admiral that were self serving at best. He also knew Reshmar would never let Rob use him. That was one reason he respected the Calamari. They stuck to their guns no matter what.

"Tell Rob I will check on Reshmar and see for myself what he is or isn't. But for now I think it is best he and I do not end up in the same small enclosed room."

Kert nodded and handed ray a data crystal. The two men stood and walked away from the table. Ray tucked the crystal in his pocket and took another drink. Slowly he tracked over the room looking for the green Twi'lek and her ornamented lekku.

Command Bridge of the Paladin

General William Forlon sat at the head of the small bank of 3 seats. Colonel Connors sat to his right looking over a data summery detailing 3 Corps readiness. To his right Reshmar sat quietly. Forlon had left the Admiral to his own thoughts for much of the time on Denon. He knew the Admiral took loss bad and such loss had to be tearing at his soul. Many brave soldiers had died on Sullust. Half of 3 Corps had been in a cave systems fighting an imperial counter attack when the caves was bombarded and collapsed onto them. Now with nearly sixty percent of his men dead or on injured leave He had to look to rebuilding the Corps and what was left of his battle group. He looked at the system status display on the top corner of the hologram before him. The ship had been repaired and was ready to lift off from the surface of Denon. Normally this was a routine operation but when it came to moving the bulk of a bulwark off a planet Frolon had found nothing was routine.

"Take us into orbit Captain Jaspak."

The bothan captain nodded then began shouting orders.

"Detach umbilical, Release stabilization field control to helm. Engage repulsors and bring them to fifty percent."

The mass of the battle cruiser broke free of the ground and shuttered the hull from steem to stern. Slowly the ship rose from the surface of Denon slowly accelerating as it made its way into low orbit. Three minutes later the Paladin sat motionless in orbit above Denon. Captain Jaspak slip a holo panel over and brought up a small nav map of the Denon system.

"Helm, All ahead one third. Set course to one five seven and move us out of the system slowly."

Reshmar and Forlon sat quietly as the Paladins captain took the ship out of the system. Behind lay the broken hulk of Hawkeye and the dead and injured from the battle of Sullust. Ahead Lay the unknown for Reshmar. He had so much on his mind. His thoughts swimming in a sea of torrent. His very soul afire with anger. He felt lost for the first time in his life. He had always had the Alliance. Or the New Republic. In one form or another he had always been a servant. A tool for the higher ups to use as they saw fit. Now his life was uncertain. Thoughts of where to go from here splashed at the edges of his mind. Thoughts whirled surfacing then vanishing to bring others to the fore front of his mind. Captain Jaspak took a seat in his command chair and layed in a course. Around Him Reshmar heard the various officers sound off when ask their status. The ship would leave Denon and head across the galaxy to Hughe and the rest of 3rd fleet.

"Captain, Priority message incoming from fleet command."

The communications officer chimed in. Forlon looked at Reshmar then stood to join Jaspak at the com station. Reshmar had not heard a peep out of fleet command since before Sullust. They had gone silent for some reason and try as he did Reshmar never got a response from them. Now they send a message out. After all he and his fleet had suffered, All they had been through. He had no Idea what the message would say be he was sure it was not the words he wanted to hear. Frolon and Jaspak talked over the message as they read through it. Forlon turned and walked to the command station and handed Reshmar the transmission.

......Authorization code: Gamma zeta five five......
......Alliance Fleet relay station five seven......
......Direct action needed all stations......
Attention all ships in core locations. Urgent actions needed. Make best speed Duro and assist in liberation efforts. Take and hold all orbital complex's and defend. Hold for en-route reinforcements.
......Office Fleet Command......

Reshmar shook his head. The death toll was still rising from the Sullust action now Duro. The Alliance knew how to pick targets. Just look for the hardest planets to hold and attack. He wanted to ignore the transmission but he knew others would not. He knew squadrons of 1st and 2nd fleet were close by and would move to action. None were as close as He and the Paladin. He knew people were dying as he sat their debating what to do. There was no question. Only anger and contempt for command. Reshmar stood and walked to the com. Station.

"Captain, I have the con, General work me up a action readiness report on your remaining forces aboard. Captain plot me a course for Duro and make it a short one. Ensign, patch me into Denon Command, I have a friend who owes me a favor."
Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Sep 20 2013 5:41am
The Compact Fleet

Venator-class Star Destroyer Redemption, en route to United Worlds of Ossus Defense Force Green Zone

There were a lot of things that should have weighed heavy on the mind of Vice Admiral Gorn, but his brain could process only so much information in a given period of time, and time was a precious commodity at present. The thought that dominated his mind at this moment, the thought that priorities required him to stare down and from which he could not turn away, was “How could we have missed it? How could we not have known that Ossus was so close to lost?”

It simply didn't make any sense. The Ossans had assured Gorn's commanders in the Compact Fleet that their request had been received and acknowledged, but there was no record of any such transmission on any of the Compact's communications ships.

As the moment of hyperspace reversion ticked closer, however, the Mon Calamari admiral shook the thought from his head. Ossus was a member of the Compact, and it needed help. That was all that mattered at the moment. Gorn steeled himself for what was to come, and gave the confirming order. “Signal all ships: revert to realspace at the mark.”


The whorl of hyperspace dropped away like a curtain at a stage performance. But this was no performance. This was battle for the survival of a world's people.

Through the destroyer's main viewport, out beyond the pair of assault frigates that marked the forward edge of the Cooperative formation's organic center, past the two-tiered ring of Guardian-class Hive Ships encircling them, the red and green lightshow of men and women dying played out. “Take us in!” Gorn shouted, watching as the vast starfield and the beleaguered vessels of the United Worlds of Ossus seemed to to rotate around the Cooperative formation, its maneuver so well-coordinated that the Cooperative vessels held stationary relative to each other.

The Great Shadow cast by the heart of the Compact task force fell away as the Cooperative group broke free of the larger Compact formation, surging toward the UWO warships, intent on carrying out their mission. As scans and high-resolution visual data began to come in, it became clear how close the UWO forces were to total defeat. Only a few vessels seemed to be able to manage any defense at all, and even those were pitted and blast-scored, with Reaver vessels clamped onto their hulls.

Admiral Gorn nodded as he took in the data with the few seconds he had before a decision was required. “Signal Axiom and inform the Admiral that we are engaging. Deploy our defensive screens and recovery vessels, and Guardian, transmit your welcome to all UWO vessels and . . . their remains.”

“Acknowledged,” the eerily neutral voice replied, and then a second later, that voice, almost the same but somehow more soothing, firm, reliable, said: “We are Guardian, and we are many. Forces of the United Worlds of Ossus, shelter beneath our outstretched arms. Task Force Axiom of the Compact Fleet has arrived to render assistance. Hold.”

The Hive Ships broke from their positions and moved in close to the remains of the UWO warships, several of the automated vessels seeming to break apart and unroll as their individual scales detached from one another, reforming into a solid wall that slid between the crippled ships and the attacking Reavers. Other Hive Ships opened along one side, completely encapsulating damaged vessels and protecting them from any possible angle of attack.

Between the Hive Ships, smaller, faster, more conventional Cooperative vessels darted to their destinations, aiming for the hull breaches in the UWO warships, boarding the vessels just as the Reavers had already done.

Redemption and her escorts turned toward the main mass of the Reaver assault, positioning themselves between the UWO and the majority of the Compact task force, ready to intercept any hostiles who made it past their impressive guns.

“Hold steady, hold steady,” Gorn said quietly, his eyes scanning the incoming data as the battle played out on the other side of the viewport. “I want reports from the boarding parties at every checkpoint,” he said louder. “At the first sign of trouble, they are to fall back to transports and withdraw, is that clear? I'm not having a rescue mission turn into a massacre.”

UWOS Providence, Strident-class Star Defender

With a resounding thud, the blast door that separated compartments of the warship fell away, intact. That was only possible if the bulkheads around it had been dismantled, a task far simpler than cutting though the meter of solid armor, provided the appropriate equipment and knowledge was supplied. Reavers should have had neither

Heavy, metallic footfalls sounded down the corridor, dozens of them, and then a chrome-plated droid swung around the corner of an intersection, its black blaster rifle held at the ready. And then, it spoke. “Crew of the UWOS Providence, we are the Guardian Biohazard Containment and Neutralization Task Force, do not be alarmed. If you possess the faculties to do so, announce your position and present yourself for inspection. Repeat: Crew of the UWOS Providence, we are the Guardian Biohazard Containment and Neutralization Task Force, do not be alarmed. If you possess the faculties to do so, announce your position and present yourself for inspection.”

The droid arrived at the designated hatch, a self-guiding interface cable stretching out from its arm and jacking into the controls, overriding them and forcing the door open. The droid entered, immediately turning left and scanning that quadrant of the room as two more identical droids followed suit. “Do not be alarmed; we are programmed and equipped to render medical assistance. If you possess the faculties to do so, announce your position and present yourself for inspection.”

As the central droid moved further into the room, an officer's quarters with a moderate amount of furniture (though it had all been displaced and overturned), a figure rose from its place of concealment, shouting “Fuck you, bitches!” and riddling the room with unaimed blaster fire.

The trio of droids retreated, backpedaling, rapidly from the room, taking a few hits but showing no signs of operational impairment. The carbon-scored pits in their armor began filling immediately with a viscous, reflective fluid, which hardened almost as quickly, all but erasing the evidence of damage. “Do not be alarmed,” the first droid called through the open door. “We are here to render medical assistance.”

“He hasn't turned!” the male shouted. “I won't let you kill him!”

A fourth droid, almost identical in design but unarmed, moved past the two who had taken up position on either side of the doorway, and into the room, holding its arms out at its side, shoulder height, with a hypospray in one hand. “I carry Mark Three Panacea and full diagnostic sensors. Allow me to approach and I will attempt to save your companion's life. Refuse, and my companions will terminate him upon Reaver conversion. Choose."

The man, wild-eyed, looked down behind the blind he'd erected from overturned furniture, then back up at the droid, shock and horror evident in his features. The droid walked forward, stepping over the blind and pushing the man's blaster away with its free hand, administering the contents of the hypospray to the unconscious human laying on the deck. A small disk attached by a self-guiding cable extended from the droid's hip, passing a blue cone of light over the length of the human several times.

It discharged the empty vial from the hypo and brought that hand to its other hip, where a rotating selection of vials had spun around and extended another for use.

“What are you doing?” the man asked, voice ragged, tears pooling at the corner of his eyes.

“Step away,” one of the combat droids commanded, who had taken the opportunity provided by the medic's distraction to advance on the hostile human. It grabbed the man by the shoulder and hoisting him to his feet as one of its companions removed the blaster from his hand.

“What are you doing!” He screamed at the medical droid, pulling at the iron grip that held his arm fast.

The droid's disc-shaped head spun on its neck to point its photoreceptor at the human, addressing it as a light indicator flashed from blue to red. “Alpha-strain intervention has not been successful in neutralizing the Reaver pathogen. I am attempting to combine sub-strain variants to attain the desired effect.” As it answered the human, the hypo ejected another spent vial and a third vial was loaded and administered.

“I-is he . . . going to live?” the human asked, terrified and hopeful.

The droid continued to work, its sensor sweeping over the unconscious patient for several seconds as a fourth, and then fifth vial was administered. Eventually, however, the droid stopped giving injections. Its container of medicines closed, it returned its hypo to a compartment in its arm, it adjusted its posture and stance, and the sweeps of the sensor became slower and slower.

“Wh-what . . . what are you doing? What are you doing!”

As if in answer, the human body convulsed, its back arching severely as it drew in a gasping breath between clenched teeth. The droid grabbed a shoulder with one hand and pressed against the raised stomach with another, forcing it down. As it did so, it slid its other hand down the human's arm, stopping halfway down the forearm and gripping it tightly. It leaned over the human, its photoreceptor lining up with one of the human's fluttering eyelids.

“Do not be alarmed. I am unit S-17 of the Guardian Biohazard Containment and Neutralization Task Force. You have been infected with the Reaver pathogen.” The human jerked violently when he heard that, but to no effect against the droid's firm grips. “The pathogen has been neutralized, but irreparable cell damage has been done in and around the initial point of infection. Your left hand will have to be amputated above the wrist. Come with me, and I will escort you to further medical assistance.”

The human blinked several times before finally nodding his head and allowing the droid to help him to his feet. His companion embraced him vigorously, tears now streaming down his cheeks, but the Guardian droids ensured they moved briskly out of the room and back down the corridor.

“There isn't anything you can do for his hand?” the uninjured human pleaded.

The medical droid's head swiveled to address him again. “The Reaver pathogen has fully integrated with the cells of the hand, including the marrow of its bones. They are dormant at present, but in time will overcome the debilitating effects of Panacea exposure and begin to spread again. At that time, there will be no medical solution to the pathogen.”

“Don't they learn from each other?” the wounded human asked, cradling his hand as though it were limp, though he retained significant motor control for the time being.

The head swiveled around to address him. “Reaver communications wavelengths are being jammed throughout the ship and in the space beyond. They are unable to synchronize information processing efforts, greatly retarding the ability of individual infection vectors to achieve full host conversion.”

Conversation stopped as the group entered the main corridor for this section of the ship, and the humans saw other teams of droids assisting other groups of survivors. Several showed obvious signs of injury, others were still being scanned by medics, and a few . . . a few were being given emergency surgical intervention.

A trio of medical droids huddled around one human, thrown on top of a makeshift surgical table composed of supply crates. Foaming at the mouth, thrashing violently, she finally fell silent after multiple sedative injections. One of the droids used a laser scalpel to remove her forearm at the elbow, while other hypos were being administered and something resembling a bacta patch was applied to the wound.

All of the droids suddenly stopped what they were doing. Those administering medical assistance moved their patients, whether conscious or not, into adjoining rooms. Most of the combat droids rushed forward down the corridor, bringing their weapons to the ready. The pair of humans could not make it to cover in time, so two of their escorts pressed them to the ground, shielding them with their own, metallic bodies, while the third armed itself with what appeared to be some kind of grenade launcher that it had been carrying on its back.

Like a flood, the band of Reavers rushed around a corner at the far end of the corridor, their bodies slamming into the bulkhead and bouncing off as they changed direction. “Close and cover your eyes,” one of the droids ordered as it and its counterpart moved their bodies into the humans' lines of sight with the Reavers. A fraction of a second later, a thud sounded nearby and then a brilliant white flash of light erupted from amidst the Reavers.

Even as the humans craned their necks around their droid protectors in the aftermath of the flash-bang, they blinked their eyes furiously in an attempt to rid themselves of the aftereffects of a flash so bright, it scrambled their vision through closed eyelids, flat palms, and a droid torso.

The Reavers stumbled forward, slowed and disoriented, but not stopped. The combat droids opened fire in successive, rapid, coordinated salvos of blaster fire, burning away the faces and skulls of the Reavers as their concentrated fire focused on destroying the ravening creatures' brains.

In the aftermath of the carnage, several of the droids extracted large canisters from the crates of supplies and attached them to one another's back, connecting each by a hose to a wand. They sprayed the bodies of the felled Reavers with the contents of the canisters, a thick, viscous black tar that caused water to condense on the surrounding bulkheads from the severe cold.

The bodies would be extracted and destroyed later. For now, the Guardian Biohazard Containment and Neutralization Task Force had more decks to search and clear.

* * *

It was the last compartment in the Section. They'd already fallen back a dozen times, sealing blast doors and partitioning life support systems as they went. The Reavers, though . . . they just kept coming.

The blast doors were actually stronger than the bulkheads of the ship, so after destroying the first several piecemeal, the Reavers discovered that they could tear through adjoining compartments and circumvent the doors. Reavers had started spilling in through connected corridors and ventilation ducts, each time they breached a new compartment, becoming more coordinated in timing their multi-directional assault. Ensign Tierce had lost every member of her own weapons operation team to those attacks; she'd only just made it through the last blast door before it shut on a pursuing Reaver. Its detached arm lay in a pool of dark, putrid blood at the blast door's seam.

This compartment, the last compartment, was at some major junction of the ship's skeleton. The bulkhead to her right was thicker and stronger than the others, and the bulkhead to her left . . . well, that one led into space. If the Reavers were going to get in this time, they'd have to come in through the blast door.

And they were coming.

The door glowed bright orange with the heat of the torch, a tiny spark of white finally breaking through from the other side. The room was heating up, the isolated life support controls straining to keep the air temperature low enough to preserve human life. Ensign Tierce's uniform was soaked with sweat, beads of it forming on the end of her nose and lobes of her ears, breaking away with every twist or tilt of her head.

As the white flare of the plasma torch traced its slow course around the edge of the door, Ensign Tierce took off her rucksack and sat down, setting the bag between her legs and opening it to inspect the contents. She'd grabbed it off a dead guy two compartments ago, a trooper who'd gotten his throat ripped out saving her life, for the good it did. As she unpacked its contents, she found what she'd been hoping for. She stood back up and slapped the rectangular brick of blue, sticky material against the left bulkhead, stabbing it with an arming pin before strapping the detonator to her left hand.

“The second they break through,” she said, shouting to the only other person in the compartment, some ensign from a different weapons firing station, “start shooting.” She brought her own blaster into the ready position and took up a stance. “I'll wait as long as I can, but I'm spacing us before the Reavers get me.”

Tierce missed any response from the man, her mind focusing on that spark of white light moving the last few centimeters to finish its job. With a tremendous groan that filled the small compartment, the center of the blast door fell forward, toward them, its red-hot edge blurring the space it moved through. A huge crash reverberated through the area as the block of metal slammed against the deck, and through the light, smoky haze from the torches castoff stepped a . . . a guy in riot gear?

Ensign Tierce dropped her blaster to her side, her right leg sliding up beside her left as she forgot her stance. She stared, dumbfounded, through the breached blast door at the pile of bodies on the other side. A squad of creatures in bulky, dark-gray armor swarmed over the threshold and into the room, ignoring Tierce but checking to ensure - what, that the walls were intact?

“What in the nine Corellian hells . . .” she mused as one of the people, a female Devaronian, stepped in front of her and offered a salute.

“Sergeant Yin Vrick, CDF Rapid Response Division,” she said, immediately turning around and bringing her blaster up, covering the door through which she'd just entered.

“CDF?” Tierce asked, looking around at the other members of the squad. “What the frell is CDF?”

“Cooperative Defense Force,” Sergeant Vrick answered, not taking her eyes off of the blast door. “We're like . . . space police, but with better gear.”

“Cooperative? Like, the Coalition? What the frell's the Coalition doing here?”

Tierce could just see the side of the sergeant's face well enough to tell that she was smiling at the question. “Poor lass, you don't know a thing that's going on, do ya'?” As a pair of CDF troops took up positions at the door, apparently satisfied that there weren't Reaver's inside the bulkheads, Sergeant Vrick relaxed and returned her attention to Tierce. “The Compact Fleet got your message; we're here to save the day. Hell, that SSD of yours is leading the mission!”
Posts: 97
  • Posted On: Sep 21 2013 8:55pm
Rendili StarDrive Deep Dock Wanderer's Home, Coyn Route staging area

This used to be my refuge, my place of peace. This used to be how I held on to the wonder of existence.

Jarvis Ragnar was standing so close to the MagCon field of the docking bay, he could feel the static charge on his nose. This close, the faint haze created by the field was negligible, allowing the Ryn to stare into the black of open space with as much clarity as if his naked eye were exposed directly to its vacuum. But without any of those pesky, fatal, decompressive injuries, of course.

Here and there he could still spot a star, but the majority of his field of view was occupied by the loathsome, unnatural shapes of the warships under his command, every one a reminder of past failures and mistakes, of lost lives and unrealized dreams. The worst of them, though, were the most distant vessels; those faint, brownish blurs that wouldn't be following him into battle. The support ships.

Nearly a dozen of those held together in a tight clump, the newest addition to the fleet. That wound would never heal. Why didn't those fools just let me have what I needed!

The addition of one of the Coalition's Cornucopia manufacturing ships could have cut the dependence of The Wandering Ones on outside support to a fraction of its current requirements. It had been a perfect plan. No one had needed to get hurt.

But the Cooperative wouldn't let it be, and now Jarvis' most trusted lieutenant and personal friend, the captain of the flagship and namesake of the organization, was dead. Zyras Lunewell was dead . . . and the Galactic Coalition was hunting Jarvis Ragnar and his organization as terrorists. And for what? In the end, after the losses were subtracted, for a handful of ordinary manufacturing ships, raidable or buyable from one of a thousand sources across the galaxy.

They should have just given him what he needed!

But that was history, now. And Jarvis Ragnar had to look to the future. This wasn't about redemption, or atonement, or any of those other fluffy words that other people cling to when they've realized the error of their ways. No, this was about making the galaxy a little bit better for whoever he could, before that galaxy finally swallowed him up.

Warning klaxons sounded and red light flashed across the docking bay. A message from the station's control room echoed through the empty station. “All hands, action stations, action stations. Hyperspace reversions detected along vector 375-by-019-by-827. All hands, action stations, this is not a drill.”

But Jarvis could already see them. In a flash of pseudomotion, appearing right on top of The Wandering Ones' formation, the menacing dagger shapes of Imperial V Star Destroyers pierced through the black canvas of open space.

He already knew who they were, too. Though much too far away to read the designations painted onto their hulls, these were warships of the Imperial Grand Fleet of the Mid Rim Protectorate. And they were here for Jarvis Ragnar.

The commlink clipped to the Ryn Rebel's ear chimed a notice, and he tapped it with a finger to answer. “Jarvis Ragnar speaking,” he said in a calm, neutral tone.

The Free Coynite Fleet is at your command, Boss.” The voice was a familiar one, and it brought a smile to Jarvis' lips.

Ag'Tra, The Wandering Ones stand ready to assist you in the liberation of your homeworlds. At your command, we go.”

“Then we go!” the Coynite roared, and only a moment after its arrival, the Free Coynite Fleet, seized only hours ago by mass-mutiny, vanished back into hyperspace.

Jarvis tapped his commlink again and issued the order. “All hands, all stations, prepare for hyperspace jump. We're going to Coyn.” It had been a long time coming, but the Elrood Sector would finally be free of the Empire's chains.

The key to the whole endeavor was Ag'Tra Jorl'Vir'Saat, dishonored defender of D'Skar during the Imperial invasion of the Coyn System. It was his plan, years in the making, that would both ensure Coyn's freedom, and strike a heavy blow against the Imperial Starfleet:

Exceprt from Cataclysm
“After witnessing the fall of Sat'Skar, I knew that I would be unable to defy the Imperial Fleet once they decided to move against D'Skar and Coyn. My defeat was inevitable, and I knew that the Empire would not offer me the opportunity to surrender. In the weeks before the Imperial attack, and in the days I bought through enjoined combat, several fellow Ag'Tra set about rewriting . . .” He paused, finding what he was about to say almost too amusing to be taken seriously “. . . official documentation . . .

“The Galactic Empire invaded Coyn,” Jorl continued, “and what was the first place they seized? The Hall of Judges, in whose depths our records are stored. They conquered a mountain of paper, and dared to believe in so doing they had conquered our souls . . ."

Someone spoke up. “You wrote papers showing such quality the Empire would admire, such traits they believed they could subvert.”

Jorl'Vir'Saat nodded. “The 'dead' defenders of Coyn have become the living warriors of Empire; they salute in the manner of the Empire, they dress in the manner of the Empire, they conquer in the manner of the Empire. Stationed within the Coynite Division of the Mid Rim Fleet, they await only the order to 'die' once more and be reborn as true defenders of the En'Tra'Sol.

Coyn System, moments later

When the Imperial war fleet dropped out of hyperspace within the defense perimeter of the planet Coyn, the local garrison surely found that unusual, but not a serious cause for alarm. A moment later, when that same “Imperial” war fleet opened fire on that garrison, it was too late for them to reevaluate their response.

The three worlds of the Coyn System would fall quickly to the surprise attack, Coynite warriors rushing those Imperial installations that were too close to vital targets to risk orbital strike, and whose commanders were too stubborn to surrender in the face of overwhelming fire. But this was only the beginning.

Around the worlds of Almar, Acatal, and Akana, task forces of the Sons and Daughters of Freedom assaulted the token Imperial defenses of those “less valuable” worlds, supported by rebel ground forces within the worlds' respective societies. All at once and with no prior warning, every military asset of the New Order Elrood Sector Authority was facing overwhelming force.

The Sector would fall quickly, and when it did, in proper Imperial fashion, the Grand Fleet of the Mid Rim Protectorate would be called upon to return to Coyn and mete out punishment for the “arrogance” of the Empire's sector capital in daring to defy its Order.

What the Empire didn't know, however, was that the liberation of Coyn was the only the bait. The Alliance trap still remained safely hidden away.

* * *

Presidential Office, Pitann, Kathol Republic

President Pedra Choka studied the document very closely one last time. The pressure of this moment weighed heavy on her conscience, but her first obligation was to the people of the Kathol Republic. Her eyes darted to the black clad figure sitting on the other side of her desk, lingering on the Imperial rank insignia before finally moving to meet the human's face.

“For the sake of your Republic, sign the treaty,” the man said, not bothering to hide the menace in his voice.

At length, President Choka nodded and signed her name to the document. The Imperial agent remained seated, his eyes boring into her. He would not leave until he was certain it was finished.

Steeling herself for what she was about to do, the president withdrew a commlink from her desk and thumbed it on. “This is the President. Inform General Jutka that he and the Alliance task force assigned to him are to stand down.” She paused, looking to the Imperial, who simply nodded. “The Kathol Republic is at peace with the Empire.”

Kathol Republic Staging Area, Southern Elrood-Derilyn Trade Route, Elrood Sector

The task force was a conglomeration of three different military groups: the Kathol Republic Navy, the Alliance FarStar Task Force, and the Yvara Defense Force. While Yvara had been admitted into the Kathol Republic shortly after it broke formal ties with the Empire, the lone planet's military hadn't yet been integrated into the Republic's armed forces, making it far more practical to manage them as a separate element of the task force, given the short time frame.

General Jutka, Supreme Commander of all Kathol Republic Armed Forces, was in overall command of the task force, but would answer to the Coynite commander once he arrived in the Coyn System.

Of course, Task Force Light Hammer would be holding position for the time being, waiting for the signal from Alliance Intelligence that the Grand Fleet was inbound. The Light Hammer group would time their jump to end soon after the Imperial's arrival at Coyn, coinciding with the other support fleets. The noose would close, tight and fast, on the Imperials when they moved to retake Coyn, and finally the Empire would see that the Alliance had teeth. And claws. And barbs.

“Incoming message from the Republic,” the comms station reported.

“Ignore it,” Jutka ordered, focused on the battle map floating in front of him, trying to predict likely Imperial responses to the Alliance trap.

“Priority one, Sir. Office of the President.”

Sighing, Jutka switched the display to standby and stepped back. “Okay, let's hear it.”

The message played, each successive word landing like a tremendous weight on the general's back. “General Jutka, by order of the President and Senate of the Kathol Republic, you are to stand down all hostile action against the New Order of the Galactic Empire, and return all forces under your command to Republic Space. You are not permitted to allow the Alliance force present to disengage from your command at this time. Failure to comply will be considered a violation of the Kathol-Imperial Peace Treaty, a war crime, by the Kathol Senate. Confirm receipt of this order and intent to comply immediately.”

Jutka couldn't believe what he was hearing. They had made an agreement with the Alliance, and with Jarvis Ragnar. The Elrood Uprising was depending on them. And this . . . this treaty with the Empire? The Kathol Republic had just disentangled itself from one of those! What were they thinking?

But of course, he knew what they were thinking: Kathol first. They were thinking of safety, and security. Not for Elrood - not for the billions still under the heel of the Empire, of course – but for the Republic and its citizens.

Jutka wanted so badly to disregard the order, to have his comms officer delete it from the record and order the task force ahead anyway. His bridge crew would follow him, he was sure, and nobody else even needed to know until the battle was over.

He could face the consequences. He could shoulder that burden, to do what was right.

What was right . . . Jutka was an officer of the Kathol Republic Army; he had a duty to protect his people, and to serve at the command of their Senate.

But how would Captain Adrimetrum respond? She had committed to joining The Wandering Ones in assisting the Coynite Rebellion, as well. And he had orders to prevent her from doing that.

He would make her understand. He had to make her understand. The Kathol Republic was at stake.

“Comms, send reply. Confirm the order, then hail the FarStar.” General Jutka sighed heavily as he allowed himself to fall into his chair. “I have to convince an old friend not to fight me.”

* * *

First Secretary's Office, Sennatt, Bothan Space

For a long time now, the Bothan people have been making ready for war. Even while its government was splintered and its homeworld still burning, the industrial and intelligence sectors of Bothan Space had been making plans, gathering resources, and priming their people for revenge.

Revenge against the Empire.

But times change, and the Bothans know how to change with those times.

For the past several months, while securing his power base as the new head of the Bothan people and eliminating fanatical pro-Ar'krai elements from his administration, Rolk Bar'Akai, First Secretary of the Bothan Clans, had been in secret talks with the Empire.

The Empire maintained naval forces at Bothawui, guarding the shipyards that continued to contribute to their war efforts, as well as a sizable ground occupation force at Krant, and if Rolk could manage to get the Imperials off of those worlds without committing his people to a galactic war and burning through their amassed military might . . . well, then, Bothan Space could easily become one of the single strongest regions of the galaxy as other nations wore each other down.

There was always the Bothan Council's membership in the Alliance to consider, and while their assets and influence had certainly benefited Rolk and the Clans in the past, the relationship was beginning to become a liability for the Bothan Clans.

But in the end, none of that really factored into the decision. In the end, it was personal. In the end, that rat-bastard nephew of his had betrayed him for a Ryn terrorist! And that was inexcusable.

“Who will it be?” Rolk asked, not looking up from the datapad sitting on his desk.

The black-clad human with the Imperial rank insignia frowned at the question. “Does it matter? The only entity capable of discovering the fraud is the Spynet, and I don't think we'll have to be worrying about them, will we?” The last half of the sentence he had addressed to a Bothan standing in the corner of the room, face and upper torso hidden in shadow.

Rolk glanced at the Spynet operative, the one who had arranged this meeting. “No, I suppose not. And, just so we're clear, the Bothan traitors who will be assisting them?”

“If they attempt to enter Bothan Space or affiliate with any Bothan military forces operating beyond Bothan Space, you are to destroy them, utterly.”

“That's fine, just fine,” Rolk answered absently, his attention already focused on the datapad again. “And the shipyards at Bothawui?”

The human seemed to be growing tired of the questions. “As agreed, all vessels under construction will either be removed when the fleet withdraws, or scuttled in-system. All infrastructure will remain intact and undamaged. The Empire's only concern in that regard, is ensuring no classified military technologies are left for your people to exploit.”

Rolk's eyes shot to the human's face at the word “exploit,” but he let the moment pass without any protest. “Very well, then.”

“Am I to take it that there is an understanding between us?” the Imperial asked once it became clear that Rolk wasn't returning his attention to the datapad.

“Absolutely, provided we are in agreement on one final point."

“And what is that?” the Imperial asked, apparently amused by the Bothan First Secretary's attempt at an ominous finish.

“Jarvis Ragnar dies in Elrood.” The Imperial made to respond, but before he could speak, Rolk added: “Presently.”

The Imperial smiled. “That can certainly be arranged.”

Rolk nodded emphatically, picking up a stylus and signing the datapad before sliding it across the table with the stylus set on top.

The Imperial stared blankly at Rolk for a long moment, until the First Secretary retrieved a commlink from his desk and clicked it on. “This is the First Secretary. Inform the commanders of the Second and Third Fleets that they are now at standby status and are to return to Bothan Space immediately. The Bothan Clans have reached an understanding with the Empire; the war is over.”

Only when Rolk Bar'akai turned the commlink off did his Imperial counterpart pick up the stylus and sign as well.

* * *

Efreeti-class Battlecruiser Husdant, Northern Elrood-Derilyn Trade Route, Elrood Sector

Of all the Alliance forces present at the Battle of Sullust, Inferno Fleet had fared the best. Admiral Reshmar and the Third Fleet had taken the brunt of the Imperial task force's anger, both during its arrival and its departure. Alliance ground forces had ended up suffering a few losses during the initial wave of Imperial landings, but most casualties were the result of the Empire's short-lived bombardment, a parting gift as the force oriented for departure.

Sullust itself now supported the Alliance, though only indirectly. SoroSuub Corporation supplied some parts and ships, and had been maintaining and repairing Inferno Fleet while it guarded Sullust from possible future attack.

A token force of Inferno ships was at Sullust even now, but the main body of Inferno Fleet had met a fresh new fleet division straight from the shipyards of Hell's Anchorage when it arrived here, and with its inclusion, this fleet was larger than any Inferno presence at Sullust to date.

The array of crimson warships set out before him was a rather impressive sight, actually, almost as if space itself had been painted red . . .

Admiral Kre'fey shook the thought from his mind. There was already going to be enough real blood spilled today; he didn't need to go imagining even more, elsewhere. He had only to wait for the signal from Jarvis Ragnar, and Inferno Fleet would pounce.

The mechanical hiss of the bridge door opening drew the admiral's attention, and he turned to see Se'lar, Inferno Fleet's Spynet contact, heading straight for him. “News through channels?” Kre'fey asked.

Se'lar shook his head, features grim, and passed the admiral his datapad. “No,” the Bothan spy whispered, moving his mouth close to Bandor's ear so he could hear even as Se'lar dropped his voice further. “This is from a personal contact in the Home Office.”

Bandor Kre'fey studied the information on the datapad very carefully, looking for any clues that the information might be fabricated or tampered with. But he knew he wouldn't find anything. Sei'lar was too good at his job for a professional soldier to be able to pick up on signs of misinformation, if the Bothan spy so chose that course of action.

But why? was all Bandor could think, reading over the short report again.

“The public announcement is being made tomorrow, in front of the Bothan Council,” Sei`lar offered, apparently the only other bit of information that he had on the matter.

“And this isn't a ruse?” Bandor asked.

Sei'lar shook his head. “This is really happening, Bandor.”

He just couldn't believe it. Bandor had been away from home for a long time, but he knew his people, and his people weren't soon to forgive the atrocity at Bothawui. Even if the politics of the situation worked out clean, there was just no way that Bothans would forgive the Empire for what it had done.

And then he understood. “Communications, raise Jarvis Ragnar on the hyperwave.”

“Admiral,” the ship's tactical officer spoke up, “The Wandering One's are under communications blackout for the duration of the engagement. You won't be able to reach them.”

Admiral Kre'fey stifled a frustrated snarl. “Then get me the Coynite commander in-system. Or use the planetary governor's channels. Hells, slice us into the Imperial HoloNet at Coyn, if you have to. I don't care, just get me a line to Jarvis Ragnar!

“. . .

“It's a trap.”

The communications officer paused in his duties, turning a bewildered face toward the admiral. “Sir? Of course it is. That's what we're here for; the trap.”

A low growl issued from Bandor Kre'fey's throat, and his feline features took on a predatory menace as his fur laid flat, accentuating the sharp features of his face. “The Empire knows; it knows everything.

“Coyn is a trap for the Alliance.”

* * *

Coyn, at the steps of the En'Tra'Do (“Hall of the King”)

The Empire had not been so foolish as to leave the En'Tra unguarded. They had, however, been foolish enough to underestimate the skill of his Eliteguard. The thirty Kroyn, elite warriors belonging to the Coynite noble families, made short work of the Imperial troopers sent into the En'Tra'Do to guard and detain the Coynite leader once the battle had began. They bought the En'Tra the time he had needed to access the Imperial public communications terminal in another section of the Hall and make his decree: every able-bodied Coynite on the Three Worlds was to rise up and strike against their Imperial oppressors.

The announcement, however, had not been heard only by the Coynite people, and by the time Rol'Tru'Saat and his warriors had landed and fought their way to the expansive stone steps leading into the Hall of the King, Imperial troopers had rushed the building and killed the En'Tra's guard.

The battle, however, was not going well for the Imperials. Hundreds of bodies, both Coynite and Imperial, lay splayed across the steps of the Hall, and fallen in the adjoining streets. The torrent of red turbolaser fire that had been lighting the night sky had faded and vanished in the last moments, signaling the end of combat in orbit. Reports were coming in by the dozens of Imperial holdouts falling to ferocious Coynite assault.

Only here, at the seat of the Coynite people's power, was the Empire holding on. They had the En'Tra captive, a dishonorable act indeed, but one which stayed the Coynite charge nonetheless. And so, Rol'Tru'Saat, standing between his gathered army and the base of the Hall's steps, used what he had learned from his time in the Alliance, and he compromised.

Walking forward a few meters from his place at the head of the Coynite warriors, Rol'Tru'Saat ascended the first step of the Hall and shoutet, “Imperial forces, I am Rol'Tru'Saat, commander of the Free Coynite Fleet, and a slayer of your brothers in arms! This world is free from the tyranny of your lords! By the ancient laws of my people, we are to strike you down, to the last man and without exception!”

The Coynite leader paused for a moment, looking over his shoulder at the warriors behind him, every one ready to storm the building, no matter the consequences to their En'Tra. “But in deference to the customs and laws of the Alliance that stands with us, I will offer you your lives! Lay down your arms and you will be spared!”

There was no answer for over a minute, Rol'Tru'Saat standing alone and stoic on the first step of the Hall; his warriors, restlessly awaiting, behind. And then the En'Tra of Coyn appeared at the top of the stairs, alone, his gold-threaded robe glistening under the beams of powerful spotlights.

Rol'Tru'Saat beckoned to those behind him with both hands, and his own honor guard of Kroyn, borrowed from his brother who was now the “official” Ag'Tra of his family, rushed up either side of the steps, staying on the farthest edges and diverting their eyes as they passed the En'Tra, disappearing over the top of the stairs and setting about their task of detaining the surrendered Imperials.

Rol'Tru'Saat knew what this moment required. The En'Tra had supported the liberation of Coyn, but that did not change what the disgraced general was in the eyes of his leader. He was af'harl, more than disgraced, more than shamed. He was not Coynite. He was not worthy of the blood that gave him life.

But Coyn is free, he thought to himself as he bowed his head and set his weapons on the lowest step of the Hall. He hunched his back, pulling his hands up to his chest so they would not touch the steps, and ascended, slowly, to meet his fate.

A dozen steps from the top, the En'Tra spoke. “Stop.” The voice was commanding. Powerful. Worthy of the Coynite people.

Rol'Tru'Saat stopped, dropping to his knees and pressing his head against the stone steps.

The sound of the En'Tra's footfalls as he descended the steps echoed through Rol'Tru'Saat's mind. This was the moment. This was how it would end.

“Do. Not. Grovel.” the En'Tra commanded, the contempt evident in every word.

Obediently, Rol'Tru'Saat sat upright and allowed his eyes to meet the En'Tra's feet.

“Look. At. Me.”

So he would be permitted to look upon his lord one final time? It was enough; enough for the af'harl who had once been a mighty and honorable Coynite. Rol'Tru'Saat lifted his head to stare directly into the En'Tra's face, his neck craning backwards, presenting an inviting target to the man who would be his executioner.

There was a swift move of the En'Tra's hand, and Rol'Tru'Saat willed his eyes to remain open, not to flinch from the judgment of his En'Tra.

But no blow fell, and there was no weapon held in that hand. “Rise, Ag'Tra. Stand and take your place of honor at my side.”

Shocked and elated, Rol'Tru'Saat raised his hands and cupped the En'tra's with them, allowing his lord to pull him to his feet. Ag'Tra Rol'Tru'Saat moved to the En'Tra's right side, remaining one step below him as he turned to look at the crowd of Coynite warriors gathered in the streets below.

“Warriors of Coyn!” the En'Tra shouted at the crowd. “At my side stands Ag'Tra Rol'Tru'Saat, Defender of the Three Worlds, Commander of the Coynite Armies. All who challenge this, defy my rule.”

The crowd cheered on their general's reinstatement and promotion.

Finally, after years of service and sacrifice to his people, Rol'Tru'Saat allowed himself a smile.

Rendili StarDrive Deepdock Wanderer's Home, Coyn Orbit

As soon as the last of the Imperial forces in-system surrendered, Wanderer's Home and other, less-mobile but well-armed elements of The Wandering Ones' mobile base of operations took up positions in orbit around Coyn. The Imperial garrison had been composed heavily of local Coynite conscripts, many of whom had joined in the uprising upon realizing that the En'tra, the leader of the Coynite people, supported the move against the Empire.

The Golan III Defense Station in orbit had been taken intact, having sustained only minor damage before Coynite saboteurs on-board had disabled both its primary and secondary sensor arrays, making its heavy weapons all but useless and allowing waves of troop transports to land on the station.

The light warships of the Space Guard, the system's local defense force, were crewed by Coynites operating under the authority of the Empire, and so had stood down upon receiving the En'Tra's decree. That had left only a small number of Imperial warships in-system, most of the Empire's dedicated warships having been called Coreward in the preceding months. And they had stood no match against the combined efforts of the Free Coynite Fleet and The Wandering Ones.

Once the Three Worlds of the Coyn System had been secured, token forces were left at Sat'Skar and D'Skar, but the Coyn Route – the hyperspace route that connected the Rimma Trade Route and the Elrood-Derilyn Trade Route – ended specifically in the skies above the planet Coyn, so that was where the Imperial counter-attack would arrive. The Free Coynite Fleet intended to use the formerly-Imperial and newly-reinforced orbital defenses of Coyn for support and protection once the inevitable Imperial counter-attack arrived.

And when the Grand Fleet of the Mid Rim Protectorate arrived to re-secure its Rimward holdings, they would be surprised to find that the Coynites were not the only rebels in their midst. The Coynites' allies in the Ishori and Diamala divisions of the Grand Fleet would wait until the battle began to launch their mutinies, at the worst neutralizing a substantial fraction of the Imperial fleet, at the best turning that fraction against the rest.

And then the Alliance reinforcements would arrive along three separate vectors, converging on the Grand Fleet in unison and cutting off every possible avenue of escape.

The thought of it brought a predatory smile to Jarvis Ragnar's face, and suddenly the fleet of warships cluttering his view of the stars didn't bother him so much.
Posts: 16
  • Posted On: Sep 22 2013 9:57pm
Gyndine - former capital of the defunct Gyndine Compact

Where did it all go wrong?

Ortho Gutt should have realized his tentative hold on his "Gyndine Compact" would not last. The Emperor had other more pressing issues to deal with and so the "Compact" was not granted Protectorate Status as quickly as he would have liked leaving the burden to funding their own causes to themselves.

As a result, the relatively small force of Cree'Ar that attacked took him by surprise. They lost space superiority quite early and without the advantages such superiority brings, Ortho knew all the ground fighting in the world would come to nothing if there was no help from the Emperor.

It seemed that the Emperor had not forgotten the harsh and presumptuous manner in which he had dealt with his representative and sent ships and aid to other worlds making up the Gyndine Compact leaving Gyndine itself to die. In one bold stroke, Park Kraken cut out the rot inside his own Empire. Or rather allowed the Cree'Ar to cut out the rot.

And Ortho Gutt was that rot.

He raged in his mansion as the planetary sensors showed his four Imperial Star Destroyers helpless against the enemy that had surrounded them. Surprisingly, the Cree'Ar ships had not destroyed Ortho's tiny fleet though it was not that fact but another sight that had turned his self-loathing rage to that of hope.

The small Cree'Ar force had been accompanied by Corellian warships.

And so, in his mansion he waited. Admiral Yatta had surrendered his forces and, while Ortho could look at the other man with contempt ignoring the fact that if he were faced with the same situation he would have surrendered just as easily, other military forces stationed around the planet were also doing the same.

It took two hours for the occupying forces to secure the planet. At the sound of the two massive front doors to his mansion were opened, he turned to meet whoever walked in. He wiped the sweat from his brown wondering if his fingers still stank with the smell of sex from the night before. He had had one last romp with some nobleman's wife whom he had beaten lost as he usually was in the activity of the moment. While he had not intended to blacken her eye, such things did happen and so he tossed her a gold plate as some sort of compensation when he told his stormtroopers to escort her off the premises.

The woman having fled his memory and presence, he had just sat down for a hearty breakfast when news of the Cree'Ar entry into the system had been reported.

Now, it was just after lunch and here he had not eaten a thing.

"Warlord Gutt," intruded a voice of one of the occupiers who had entered his home. Ortho's eyes widened not at the greeting but at the massive Cree'Ar standing next to the man who had spoken.

Thracken Sal Solo


".... and so those are the conditions regarding the Dominion's occupation of this world," the Corellian finally concluded as Ortho's eyes glanced nervously from Sal-Solo to the Cree'Ar standing behind him.

"And...and.. if I refuse?" Ortho stammered out though in the future he would tell others that he had boldly and courageously and defiantly asked.

"Then you and this world will be refuse." the Cree'Ar rumbled though Ortho could see no mouth.

The former Imperial almost wet his pants.

"I.. I .... I have Jedi!" the warlord nearly shouted out as if blurting out a spell to ward off evil spirits which, in this case, seemed to work for the Cree'Ar's massive eyes suddenly lit up with interest and left to take charge of this quary.

"Jedi Corps?" Thracken grinned when they were alone.

"Mostly," Ortho admitted. "Some young ones that tested high on the midichlorian count."

Thracken's eyes widened. "Smart. I had not thought of that."

"We are survivors, you and I. Things are not all that bad as long as the Cree'Ar get what they want. You get what you want if and only if they get what they want. Cross them and they will literally burn you."

"But you... you are a collaborator!" Ortho stammered out.

Thracken's smile widened as he spread his arms out. "Feel free to defy the occupation if you like. All they can do is kill you. You'll be dead but you can rest in the grave knowing you did not 'collaborate'."

"But... but..." Ortho frowned.

"It is easy to be called all sorts of things by those who aren't faced with the decision themselves. Are you supposed to lay down your life so someone you've never met living on a world you never visited can think of your name fondly and write it down in the annals of the heroic dead?

Choose life, man!

Toast to your good health while those fools die when the Cree'Ar comes for them. And they will come. Sooner or later, they will come for everyone!"

"So what do they want?" Ortho asked, his curiosity stirred. He could not help it. Thracken made him feel as if they were both conspiring to join a great adventure.

"For starters," Thracken started, his eyes glancing down at a list before him, "we have need of the Star Destroyer Vengeance and it's Captain, a Boris Calhoun, I believe."

Palpatine's bow-legged grandmother, what do they want with old Boris?
Posts: 3599
  • Posted On: Sep 25 2013 6:15am

"Am I doing the right thing, Achinta?"

Senator Vinda asked suddenly without warning, as he glanced down at the data-pad he was holding, reading the report contained within. Serving only to deepen the now heavily set lines already framing his face into a well worn frown. It was the latest reports on the current situation developing on Hapes…

"Did we do the right thing?"

The corporate magnate turned Republican politician looked up to his bodyguard in expectation, and before his aide could reply, he clarified his train of thought with just two words…"This Republic…"

Achinta shifted slightly, as if unsure how to respond, before replying "You did what you thought best, and not just for yourself, everyone"

Vinda looked down and grunted slightly...

"Then why do we suddenly find ourselves at war! I can't help but feel like I've failed! Was there really no other way?" He threw back , frustrated...

Achinta smiled slightly, a half-smile that seemed to confirm whatever it was that was running through that positronic brain of his, a somewhat mysterious prospect to try to fathom at the best of times (and people thought Vinda was hard to read)

The old man turned to look outside his office windows, and sighed loudly, as he placed the data-pad upon the table in front of him…

"After Capricia, I promised myself we would not go through another war like that again, and now…."

His voice, burdened with worry trailed off…

Achinta's reply was measured and calm… "War, is coming , whether you, we, wanted it or not, but when the real fight starts, we'll be ready…"

Vinda snorted derisively at this as he answered back "Have you seen the latest intel reports on these Cree'Ar? Seen what we are up against? That's not even counting the Empire! There are those within the senate that feel all I have done is set us on a course for all out war.
One ridiculously powerful enemy is bad enough, but we are squaring up against two!" Vinda turned back around to face his bodyguard as he spoke "I wish I could be quite so confident"

Vega nodded in reaction to his employer's words "I have processed all intel reports, we all have a fair assessment of what we are up against, and because of your efforts, we are not in this alone"

Vinda's brow furrowed even further, unconvinced by his bodyguards words…

"The question I find myself asking is, have I done enough?" He asked out aloud, his voice distant, not really directing it towards his confidante as he found himself staring into nothing, as if abruptly slipping into some kind of trance...

Achinta placed a reassuring hand upon the Senator's shoulder, breaking the trance, and brought his steady gaze to meet Vinda's…

"War was inevitable, but we are ready to face it on our own terms. We have a fighting chance, which is more than could be said for many others….that is what you have given us.."
The android paused for a moment, before adding pointedly "That is what you have always given us"

The senator smiled faintly at this, and nodded slowly, he was still unconvinced by his bodyguard's words, but appreciated them all the same "Only time will tell, Achinta" He replied, thankful for his bodyguard's presence…

And as Achinta left the ex-corporate mogul to prepare for his next round of diplomatic conferences and Senate meetings, Vinda turned to gaze outside his window once more. His eyes could just pick out the tiny dots of people teeming in the city streets below, going about their business, in spite of the looming threat…

Of course, there was another option, he could have negotiated with the aliens, and given up all force sensitives and Jedi alike, and perhaps, just maybe avoided all out war. Although, it would have meant giving himself up.

That, Vinda had weighed up, he could have lived with (albeit , more than likely , not for very long) if it had meant saving the various peoples he now represented… Needs of the few, balanced against the needs of the many, and all of that…

But there were hardly any guarantees these aliens would stop there, and if it was one thing Vinda knew all about , it was dealing with bullies.

On an instinctive level, he knew, that to give into these creatures would be a huge mistake, and much like the Yuuzhan Vong invasions, would more than likely mean the difference between living with freedom, or living as slaves…

…or worse.

No, if he had learned anything, it was that there was a time to negotiate , and a time to fight…

Of course, there was one other factor that served to harden his resolve…

One on a more, selfish level…

While he could have lived with giving himself up, and perhaps the Jedi and their troublesome Sith counter-parts, he could never bring himself to give up his daughter.


This more than anything else, steeled his determination, and he found himself making a promise...

If it was a war they wanted, then it was a war they would get…

By the FORCE that is what they will get!
Posts: 142
  • Posted On: Sep 25 2013 9:30pm
Office of Rob Stellar

Rob opened the door to his office to find the room pitch black. He paused then looked tp his two body guards and stepped back to let them enter. The men walked into the darkness with blasters held ready to strike when the light on Rob's desk light up.

"There is no need for that gentlemen. I just found Robs level of illumination brazen and decided to set the mood so to speak. You guys do not have the corner on presenting yourselves ominous."

Raymond mosses sat in Rob's chair grinning at the two men. From behind them Rob busted through with a grimace on his face. He looked to Ray to be some what miffed at him sitting his his seat. Raymond stood and smiled at Rob as rob turned the lights back to full.

"Ray, firstly how did you get into my room? And secondly I was under the believe you were supposed to be with Reshmar?"

Ray walked around the desk and sat in the seat across from Robs chair. He kicked back and tossed his booted feet up onto robs fine wroshyr sanded and polished to a gleaming sheen Rob slowly walked to his seat and sat never taking his eyes of Mosses.

"Well Rob, you se I heard all that your guys told me. By the way you do not pay them enough. I almost killed them. Well not really but the thought did cross my mind. Any way I digress. My point is, If you want me to help Reshmar then I need your full support. No more playing with the scraps you through at the Alliance. I Think if you really want to help the admiral then give him something he can use. Not something your tech guys were playing with."

Rob took out a bottle with some green liqueur in it and two glasses. He poured one for him and one for Mosses. Raymond looked at it then waited for Rob to take the first drink. This would not be the first time Rob had tried to poison him. Rob smiled as Roy took a drink then sat his glass on the table.

"Admiral Reshmar and his group have left Denon already. They are enroute to Duro. He contacted me before his departure and requested I assist him. As he refused my request for help with the dominion problem I refused his request for assistance with the Empire at Duro."

Ray sat quietly thinking of what this ment. HE never imagined Rob would have turned down Reshmar. The men went way back, not as far as they did but. Rob took another drink and turned to type a few things into his computer station.

"So you sent Reshmar off without help. To Duro, are you wanting him dead?"
Rob turned and scowled at Ray.

"Of corse not. They had a Bulwark Battle Cruiser. It is not like they don't have the fire power to hold off until help gets there. I just wanted to make a point. I help the Alliance at great cost to me let alone the danger of doing so. Twenty percent of my earnings come from the Imperials. I have every intention of assisting him but I want him to know I can not just give without some sort of recompense."

Ray sat back listening to Rob's spiel. Oh how he loved to talk. Rob reached cross and pushed Tays feet of his deck

"And Keep your filthy boots of my desk. Here look at this."

Rob handed Ray a data pad and a crystal to insert into it. Ray brought up the display and regan to read through it. He looked up from the pad at Rob.

"This is what you are giving the calamari."

Rob nodded and typed a few more times into the data station. He inserted a crystallized data chip into the slot and copied the contents of his screen onto it.

"This is the invoice for you to give the commander once you pick up the package."

Ray laughed then took the chip.

"You expect me to go get this and deliver it to the Admiral? Have we not already been through all this with the Hawkeye? I mean can you just not give him the ship yourself.?

Rob smiled.

"Of course not, I can not be seen giving the Alliance this kind of resource. Helping them with their repairs and their injured is one thing. Giving them the means to fight is another. I trust you remember how to go about transferring things discreetly?"

Roy stood and dusted robed desk off.

"I will keep your name out of it. But I want you to know this is the last time. After this you and I are square. So next time you send out your buddied in the suits to find me i may do more than just think about how many different ways to kill them with the things laying on my table."

Trax Sector Command

Captain Jeffers sat looking over the days reports. It had been weeks Task Force 34 had been assigned to patrol the Trax Sector and train defense forces. The bulk of the fleet had left, under Commodore Ridic, for Hughe to regroup and take on reinforcements. 3rd Fleet Command had left for Denon to finalize the decommissioning of ships and see to the injured that had been sent there after the battle of Sullust. Jeffers had received the flash alert about Duro and spoken with Reshmar before he and the Paladin departed. He had been ordered to stand down from alert and continue his operations in the Trax Sector. He would do as Reshmar had ask but he could not stand by and do nothing. He had already begun working on dispatching a group to assist and when his orders from Reshmar came through he had played it off like he had already sent the force and could not reach them until their first hyperspace relay point. This had opted Reshmar to just order him to retain the force ha had and accept the force en route. Jeffers had not spent much time after his conversation with Reshmar before the force he ordered the force to leave. Better to be safe than sorry ht thought. And besides he had enough forces to defend the Trax Sector without them. A ensign turned from his station and began to speak.

"Captain, You need to hear this."

Jeffers walked to the communications station and pressed the button to listen in. What he heard was sticky and hard to make out. But from what he could gather, one of the supply ferries from the Bothan sector ha been ordered back to Bothawui. The lieutenant commanding the vessel seemed confused and spouting something which sounded like peace. Then the signal went quiet.

"Ensign what was I listening to?"

The junior officer looked over the data stream and its signal ident tag.

"Sir, That was a transport out of Mandel carrying some agri parts. It is time delayed and dated three days ago. The response was not via normal com links. It was a pirate channel used by a group near here."

Vilam Jeffers thought a moment. What was going on. He walked to the tactical station and looked over the map. No pirates have been active in the vicinity of the Trax Tube since the Alliance moved in.

"Could it be some new Pirate attacked them? Do you have any other transmissions from the area indicating that?"

The Ensign looked over the logs then looked aver the logs from the shift before.

"No sir, All we have from out that way is our normal hourly relay from the sensor station along controlled space. No ships have been past it that we can track."

Jeffers walked to look over the logs himself. This was odd. A ship on the boarder between Trax and Bothan space should have never broken radio silence let alone transmit on a pirate network channel. Jeffers turned to His XO and motioned for him to walk to the tac station.

"XO, what do you think?"

The commander looked over the map. The space between the Dressel and Mandel was not a long distance of uncontrolled territory. But it was still enough for a ship to fall off the map in. The XO zoomed the holo image in on the Lannik sector.

"Captain, They transmission originated here on the edge of the Lannik wilds. It is feasible a band of pirates there could have take the transport before it could make a jump to Dressol."

Jeffers eyed the display and thought to himself. What was that part about peace. He was certain he had heard the word.

"Xo, who do we have on Dressol that can take a look out there.?"

The Xo brought up a list of resources. Most of the 34th was in the Trax sector. A small group hidden in the Noolian sector watched over Dressol and the surrounding area but they had been under strict com silence.

"Sir Captain Merri'kan and the 344th are in the area but will not check in for another seventeen standard hours. Other than that only a small group on Dressol overseeing our interests there. "

Vilam nodded and looked over the display one last time.

"That will have to do. I want Merrilkan to send a Ferret out to those Co-ordinates once he has made contact. Also send word to Dressol. Maybe they can get a long range shuttle out there to poke around."

The Xo nodded and began to make the arrangements. Jeffers went back to his command seat and sat. He could not help but think the man had said peace. In reality the man could have said anything. The message was garbled and nearly impossible to hear. He would know soon enough. For now he had to finish the days drills and confirm next shifts orders. Another long day in the Trax Sector.
Posts: 7
  • Posted On: Sep 27 2013 1:40am
The Green Zone…

Images collide, collapse.

A mother, a father; a maker.

Bio-digital jazz; neurons become cogs.


Awake. Arise. Fight!


Isaac Cain awoke, as if from a dream and into another, and before him stood the ghastly visage of some half-formed denizen of some ancient underworld. He wore robes as though of a clergyman, yet Isaac could see him for what he...what it, cleary was.


“What the fuck.”

“Silence, blasphemer,” roared the Reaver, and to Isaac’s amazement the thing was clearly, if with a digital edge to its voice, speaking in Basic, “Behold, I am High Cardinal Oyzamndas. I come to you with an invitation, though you do not yet fully deserve it.”

“What. The. Fuck.”

“Infidel!” the Reaver spat, literally spat, a goo almost but not entirely unlike saliva at Isaac’s feet, “I stand before you, as I have stood before all new Children of the Way, with an offer of hope, of belonging. With an offer of Gestalt.”

“Children of the...what the fuck, Mr. Roboid,” Isaac sputtered, now utterly sure that he was dying and this was some sort of fucked up neural process his body had to go through before it fully shut down, “You’re a fucking Reaver, man. Reavers can’t even think, let alone deliver invitations! Stupid fucking brain, can’t get anything right…”


“Okay! Okay! You’re marked, you’re marked!”

“Silence!” Oyzamndas roared, his visage shimmering and sputtering as if the product of some damaged holoreel, “How little you know of your own kin, child. Come with me, and all will be answered. None can resist the call, not forever. Not the call of Gestalt.”

To Isaac’s dumbfounded amazement, he found his left arm behind dragged forward against his conscious will toward the crazed Reaver priest’s beckoning fingers, and as he looked down he realized for the first time-

My fucking hand! Where the fuck is my left hand?!

Past his wrist, there was not even yet a stump, and yet he was obviously not bleeding. This must be a dream, he reasoned, It has to be! And yet still his arm was pulled, and the force of it so overwhelming that he began to rise off his feet and it was all he could do to yank himself back.

“What are you doing, half-breed?!” Oyzamndas roared, “The call of Gestalt will not be denied! Come! We will cleanse your imperfections, make you whole, for the first time in your miserable biological existence. Don’t you realize? Follow the Way of David, and you can be so much MORE.”

“No!” he yelped, more a Skywalkerian squeal than anything particularly defiant, and as all seemed lost there came another voice. Not seen, but heard, and as if it emanated from all around them. Oyzamndas recoiled at the sound, and it was not long before he began to dissolve as if the creature had been constructed from ash the whole time.

The voice said:

”I carry Mark Three Panacea and full diagnostic sensors. Allow me to approach and I will attempt to save your companion's life. Refuse, and my companions will terminate him upon Reaver conversion. Choose.”

Reaver conversion…oh no. Oh no no no.

Isaac wasn’t dying, not after all. In fact, he had just been saved. He slowly regained consciousness, and beheld once again the hellscape around him that had once been an officer’s quarters before the Reaver boarding party had made it through Providence’s bulkheads.

He could not help but feel, as the Cooperative explained the details of his condition, as though Panacea, the Coalition miracle drug, had been just too little, too late.

UWOS Providence, Strident-class Star Defender
Combat Bridge, ODF Green Zone

“Status report?”

Captain Anton Yemin, highest ranking officer to have survived the disaster that had been their extraction protocol, beckoned his executive officer over as one of the field specalist from medical deck wrapped gauze around his neck wound.

It has been shrapnel, not Reavers, thank the Force, and the bridge had managed to stay self-contained from the rest of the ship for the duration of the boarding action. They had literally been clawing at the outer bulkheads when the Cooperative “Biohazard Containment and Neutralization Task Force” had come swooping in to save the day.

But that wasn’t what had impressed him about their rescue.

“Repairs currently underway by the relief crew the Axiom sent over, Captain,” Commander Larissa Ptolyevich reported as she reached him on the gangway overlooking the crew pit. Call em Star Defenders all you like as far as Yemin was concerned, they sure looked a hell of a lot like star destroyers, “And Admiral Chang Wu is awaiting your call in your briefing room.”

“Admiral Wu?” Yemin asked, not familiar with the name.

“Ah, Admiral Chang, actually,” she corrected, “Sinsangese, and recently appointed command of the UWOS Axiom in the ‘spirit of cooperation between our two peoples.’”

“Ah, so that kind of Admiral,” Anton sighed, shooing away the nosy field medic before observation what was left of his bridge one last time, “Very well, Commander Ptolyevich, you have the con.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Haggard salutes were thrown as he passed over his bridge crew and he returned them the whole way down the gangway. These men had fought harder than he could have ever asked them to, harder than Ossus had a right to ask them to. They had literally been to hell and back for him.

“As you were.”

Entering the comparably quiet briefing room, Captain Yemin had to “gently” tap the com unit before a shaky image in a very low resolution appeared. Amongst the pilfered Corellian secrets were pilfered point-to-point laser communication technology from the glory days of the New Order, an ordinarily unreasonable addition to a capital vessel but, in Reaver territory, a proven lifesaver.

“Admiral Chang,” Anton acknowledge, careful to remember the warning his XO had given about naming conventions, “This is Captain Yemin of the Providence, reporting.”

“About time, Captain,” the Admiral replied, and while normally such a jab would sit unwell with the man, Yemin could tell that underneath the veneer Chang couldn’t care less. Curioser and curioser…”Status?”

“We’re alive, sir,” he said, bluntly, and was impressed when the Admiral showed no outward signs of shock or outrage at the returned volley, “That’s about all I can say for certain at the moment. Repairs are underway, and current estimates have barebones hyperdrive capability at several hours out, but there’s a lot of wreckage and Reaver bodies to clean up, and lately they’ve taken to sabotaging the vessels they can’t take with them…”

“Sabotage?” this did grab the Admiral’s attention, and Yemin was surprised to find himself completely re-evaluating the man so soon after first meeting him, “I didn’t read anything about this in previous report.”

“That’s because they weren’t doing it when I wrote those reports, sir,” Yemin replied, relieved to finally be able to tell someone over the secret terror that had been gnawing at him for days, “They’re adapting, Admiral. And they’re doing it more quickly than we’ve ever observed before.”

“Something about these particular Reavers?” Chang mused, and Anton nodded.

“I’ve thought about that, it also could be something about this particular area,” he supplied, having had several more days to mull the situation over.


“Well, you and I are both thinking these are Reavers unlike those we have seen before,” Yemin elaborated, “What if the reason we haven’t is because we’ve never been here before.”

“Some sort of local strain, a mutation of the disease?” the Admiral queried, to Yemin’s amazement willing to even entertain the notion, “If you are correct, Captain, this could be bad. Bad for the entire region.”

“For the entire galaxy is more like...sir,” he genuflected, “I think-”

“Contact!” the call came from Chang’s side of the call, and immediately the Admiral turned back to regard Yemin, “To your station, Captain, now!

Klaxons blared.

Anton hammered on the hatch panel as the door slid open to reveal a bridge in a renewed state of near total anarchy. Sighing softly, he stepped across the threshold and immediately began to bark orders literally left and right.

“Stow that chatter! Get us in formation with the Compact Fleet! I know you don’t know what it is yet, but try to find out. Yes, big is very bad, now get to your post! Ptolyevich!

“Sir!” came the response.

“Get these navysouls shipshape and get me the Axiom on this vid screen!”

“Aye, sir!”

And in seconds, there she was.

Fresh off the line from Sluis Van, she had been an Imperial project until Jutraal had seceded from the Empire. Emperor Fearsons must have kept it going, because when the New Alderaanian provisional government found it, it had been almost complete.

An Executor-class Super Star Destroyer, renamed by the ODF as an Executor Star Dreadnought, its size in comparison to the Providence’s simply staggering. Yemin glanced up from his vid port and out the duraglass plating, scanning space for her position relative to...a glint, there!

And having just reverted from hyperspace almost right on top of her, was a massive Reaver vessel unlike anything any of them or anyone in the galaxy had seen before. Before the rest of the Compact Fleet or what was left of the ODF forces could even scramble fighters, the two supercapitals had begun to brawl broadside to broadside.

It was not going well for Admiral Chang.

It wasn’t the damage the Reaver supercapital put out that slowly began to cripple the Star Dreadnought, it was the holes in the shields those weapons briefly made. Holes Reaver boarding parties could follow through. As the rest of the Fleet began to open fire, the Axiom was already drifting, the Reaver disease likely having already spread through some sort of deck critial for propulsion.

“By the Force,” Ptolyevich whispered, and Yemin had to agree.

Neither of them had ever seen two ships so massive tear each other nearly to pieces in so short a time. Secondary explosions rocked decks throughout the Reaver supercapital, but the vessel showed no signs of drift nor of the lifelessness Axiom had already begun to display as one by one her turbolaser batteries winked out.

And then, almost as quickly as it had begun, it ended.

A pulse rippled out from somewhere beyond the circle of space that surrounded the two supercapitals, and displays all over the command bridge sparked and shattered and exploded as the crew quickly realized they had been struck with an ion burst like nothing they had ever seen.

“Core systems down! Rerouting all available backup power to life support! Decks 6, 7, 9 and 13 have hull breaches, sealing off relevant bulkheads!”

“Weapons?! What about weapons?!” Yemin roared over the chatter, “Do we have anything left to throw at that thing?”

Wide eyes and silent lips.

The com officer was suddenly blown out of his seat as sparks flew and, all at once, ear-shattering feedback static roared over every com unit on the vessel.

“Medic!” Ptolyevich roared out, “Someone man that station! Where is that coming from! Is it Reaver origin?!”

And then, as if in answer.


Every soul in the room froze what they were doing at the sound of that word. At once, all eyes were on the nearest available com speaker. Even Anton, normally able to take command of nearly any situation by sheer force of habit, was at a loss for how to respond to what he had just heard.


Several ensigns screamed as everyone was forced to cover their ears at the decibel level. For what seemed like an eternity, silence. And then, when the first had arisen from their slapdash hiding places as if from out of rubble, it began anew.

“You are (A WASTE OF SPACE) limited. You are incapable (INFIDELS) of seeing what we see (THE WAY), feeling what we feel (THE GRACE OF DAVID), knowing what we know (THE RIGHTEOUS PATH).

You misunderstand (HATE YOU). You wound us (ALWAYS WOUNDS US). You kill us (CUT OFF THE HAND IT GROWS BACK STRONGER). You purge us as if we are a disease (THE ONLY WAY, THE TRUE WAY). We are
not a disease (A NEW BEGINNING).

We are (IN HIS GLORY) Reaver.

We are (GESTALT) Gestalt.

I am (WE ARE WE ARE) Shipwright.

(WE) are (GEST)alt.


Again, the feedback, this time louder, and just when the bridge crew felt they could not stand it anymore, a brilliant light bathed the combat bridge in a soft azure glow as if in retort. Still reeling from the ear-splitting diatribe none of them could quite believe they had heard, Captain Yemin struggled to glimpse out the duraglass what was happening.

It was the Axiom.

Not quite dead after all, you beauty, he thought to himself, though he could not begin to suspect how the star dreadnought had come to possess such a potent and obviously not standard superweapon. The laser shot forth from the SSD’s bow in a direct line, and for the first time Yemin realize the truth behind the Axiom’s initial drift.

They hadn’t been dead in the water, it had been a ploy, likely the devising of Admiral Chang Wu himself. As the Reaver ship...the Gestalt ship had been broadcasting, the Admiral had been putting everything they had into swinging the front of the Axiom about.

The shot had not been direct, it seemed as if they had simply not had the time, but roughly a fifth of one of the ship’s outer edges had been shorn off, and multiple decks were now venting openly into space, just as they were on the Axiom. Apart from the occasional Reaver body being forcibly sucked out, however, the supercapital showed no signs the shot had effected it.

And then, it was gone. They had been spooling up their hyperdrive from the moment they had been hit, Yemin realized. Had they even paused for a moment?

“Hail the Axiom,” he called, suddenly, forcibly.

“Communications aren’t back online,” Ptolyevich reported, “Tertiary and auxiliary power conduits are at peak capacity dealing with life support and what little maneuverability we can still maintain. Comms are the next highest priority.”

“Blast! I don’t care if we can move yet,” Anton snapped, his eyes narrowing, “We need to get boarding parties underway, the Axiom has-”

“The Axiom has been infected, sir,” Ptolyevich said, gently. She knew him better than anyone else on the ship, she knew he was just grasping for a noble purpose, “She’s lost.”

“I will not ACCEPT that, Commander,” Anton roared, not really caring either way whether he was grasping or not, “The Axiom is our FLAGSHIP, I will NOT stand by-”

“You don’t have much of a choice in the matter, sir,” Larissa stepped in. She always managed to surprise him, “We can barely keep our nose above water, you think we can send out shuttle teams?! Our hangars are still mostly barricaded from the inside from the boarding party that almost killed us.”

“There are over two hundred and fifty thousand souls on that vessel, Commander!”

“Souls you nor I nor even Zark fucking Ekan can save right now,” she snapped back, stopping him cold, “Right now, there’s only one man who can.”

Confusion crept into his features, and then his eyes widened in horror.

“You don’t mean-”

“If he remembered the protocols, if he was the type of man who knew what had to be done…” she trailed off, “If Admiral Chang engaged his failsafe, the Axiom will be saved. If not…”

“If not, we’ve just handed the Reavers...this...this Gestalt one of the most potent super weapons in the region.”

UWOS Providence, Deck 8
Medical Deck, Med Bay 3

“He’s awake again.”

Isaac’s eyes opened.

The voice was that of a woman, an ensign by the insignia of rank she wore. His vision blurred, focused, blurred, and refocused. She was human, or near enough. He had never met her before in his life, and she was beautiful.

“I’m not dead.”

“No, you’re not,” she said, smiling softly.


“Left,” she acknowledged, “Gone at the wrist. Clean cut though. Well-”

“Well except for the Reaver virus in my veins,” he finished for her.

“Ah, you know about that,” she blushed, as if ashamed she had deceived him.

“Yeah, I know about that. Listen, Ensign…”

“Tierce. Ensign Tierce.”

“Ensign Tierce, ma’am, it’s not that I don’t appreciate you sitting with me or whatever you did but…”


“But who the fuck are you, lady?” he asked, exasperated and sore. Mostly sore.

“Tierce, I said. Ensign Tierce,” she repeated, glancing at his insignia, “And you’re Ensign...Cain?”

“I’m Ensign fucking Reaver, Tierce,” he spat out, and then instantly regretted it. She looked hurt at those words. Why the fuck did she look hurt? “I’m sorry, I-yes. I’m Ensign Cain. Isaac Cain.”

“Nice to meet you, Ensign Cain,” she shook his hand, as if thoroughly completing the surreal scene, “As for what I’m doing here. Well, everyone who survived the actual fighting is getting psych evals. Something about being face to face with-”

She stopped suddenly.

“With death?” it was more a statement than a question.

“With death, yes,” she admitted, blushing once more, “one of the technicians asked someone to watch over you and here I am!”

“Here you are.”

“Here I am.”

“Listen, no offense, Ensign Tierce,” Isaac struggled, desperate for an opening, any opening, “But if you haven’t noticed I’ve been through what some might consider an ordeal. And while I appreciate the no doubt necessary supervision, would it be possible for me to just get 10 alone with my thoughts?”

“Ah, well, they said I shouldn’t but-” she trailed off, “I’m not comparing what I went through you, but being out of the way helped me as much as anything could. I’ll be right back, though, they said you really shouldn’t be alone.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it. I promise I’m not a risk or anything, but I understand your duty,” he was on a roll now. Cain had never realized how well he could really act until the past few months aboard the Providence. He had been precise, been careful. And as Tierce moved off to give him his space, he knew he was going to have to throw the whole damn rulebook out the window.

He tapped the key sequence into comm unit embedded in his wrist, and offered the challenge phrase.

“On the precipice of darkness.”

Static, then, a voice.

“The Will of God of shines through. Cipher here, Cain. Report.”

Frag your report, man! I been Reavered!” he whispered desperately into his wrist.

“Cain, is this line secure?”

“Did you not just fucking hear me, man?! Get me the fuck out. Its fucked here, its all fucked. SSDs and Sinsang and Reavers that can fucking talk-”

“Hold that last, Cain. You said a Reaver spoke to you?”

“They spoke to all of us, man. But yeah, another one spoke to me. I think...frag man, they took my fucking hand!”

“Understood, Cain. Awaiting response from Crypter.”

“Take your fucking time here, man. Its not like I’m on a timetable or anything!”

“Expediting. Ah, here we are. Apologies, Cain, but extraction is not a viable course of action at this time.”

“Not a viable-what the fuck. You promised me an extraction! You promised you’d get this bomb out of my fragging skull! You promised expert medical attention, motherfucker! You-”

“I promised you all of this before the Dominion wiped out Imperial Center, Cain. Understand that, even now, all these transmissions are strictly monitored, so I hope that helps you understand just how common fucking knowledge it is that Intelligence has fallen almost completely apart with the loss of the Core. Besides, there never was a bomb in your head.”

“I don’t care what your political fucking situation is, man, but-wait, what did you just say?”

“I said there was no bomb, Cain. We had to be assured you would cooperate and...well, no offense, but you were gullible enough so long as we pulled out all the stops. Listen, I appreciate what you must be going through, and the whole Reaver thing is...well, it’s not great, is it? But I’m afraid, with your latest, Intelligence has to re-prioritize its interest in the region.”

“Re-prioritize its...what the fuck does that mean, man?”

“It means you’ve been burned, Cain. Effective, immediately. Do not attempt to initiate further communications or the comm unit will dispatch a small shock to your nervous system. That part is actually quite true, Cipher out.”

For what seemed like an eternity to Isaac, there was nothing but silence, and then when he thought he could bear nothing more.

“I’m back!” it was Tierce.

I am fucked.
Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Sep 27 2013 5:36am
The Galactic Coalition

On the planet of Amorris, there is a field.

Inside of this field, are buried many dead.

These dead do not belong there.

These dead belong on Varn, alive. But when the Cree'Ar Dominion visited that world of Varn, they made for its inhabitants, a thing such as life impossible.

In that field on the planet of Amorris, where are buried the bodies of those who died in the attempt to live, a sea of souls has gathered. Once, they were called the “Militant Force Movement”. Now, they are called “Survivors”. These Survivors do weep for those who – being dead – cannot be counted among them.

A hundred thousand sapient beings crouch over the fresh graves of those who died in the evacuation of Varn. Their heads are covered in the dark gray hoods of their dark gray cowls, not to give them protection from the rains of this day, but to show as a symbol; of their mourning, and of their sameness. The sameness of their suffering, the sameness of their loss.

In their hands, each of them holds a candle, its tiny flame shielded from the rain by the protective stance they have assumed. There is silence in this place of solidarity, as the bodies of the lost soak up the rains of this foreign world.

And then the silence is broken. The sameness is shattered. The mourning is turned.

The man who leaps to his feet and casts off his cowl shouts, as loud as his voice can manage, “No!”

The Survivors gathered around him, shocked by his display, gasp in horror as they see him throw his candle to the ground and stomp upon it with his booted heel.

“I will not cower! I will not wail! I will not mourn the dead! Not while there are yet others who must be saved!” With every sentence spoken, he raises the balled fist of his hand into the air and strikes it against his thigh as he speaks its last word.

“Remember what it cost!” He strikes his thigh again. “Remember what was lost!” and again, “so that you might be here!” Again. “Now!” Again. “Today!” Again. “Alive!” Again. “Remember Him and live on!” He raises his arm over his head and points to the sky. “Fight on! Survive! Defy! Overcome! Rise up, rise up, daughters and sons of the Cooperative!” He raises both hands over his head, opening his palms upward. “Adopted heirs of our Savior, whose death gave us this life! Remember Him, remember Him, and fight on as He did!

“Fight on!

“Fight on!”

On the planet of Amorris, there is a field.

Inside of this field, are gathered many souls.

These souls do not belong here.

These souls belong everywhere else, dying. Because when the Cree'Ar Dominion visits the other worlds of this galaxy, they will find among their inhabitants, the fury of avenging angels, meting out the judgment for making of their Savior, a martyr.

Because while the Executor has died at Varn, they all now have become Executors of His Will.

* * *

Emergency War Room, Cerea, Acting Capital of the Galactic Coalition

The Azguard fleets aren't budging. Truthfully, Prime Minister Pro Moon is surprised the Azguards spread throughout the galactic fleets haven't been abandoning their stations by the thousands and rushing back home on whatever sort of transport they can manage.

He can only imagine what it must be like for a creature to watch through a holofeed as one of his gods is struck down so low, and know that it is bleeding, dying, half a galaxy away.

And now Pro Moon, the career politician from the most peaceful world of the most peaceful province in all the Galactic Coalition's long history of war, is the man on whose shoulders the responsibility for retaliation falls.

All around him, generals, admirals, and Intelligence specialists clamor and shout, telling him what he must do, how he must act, which of this course or that course will yield the greatest result. All that Pro Moon wants to do, though, is hop on a shuttle to Coruscant, and ask the Dominion why? The Coalition has not provoked them in any way. It has not threatened them, or even challenged their claim to Coruscant. All of this senseless death, all of this warmongering, and for what? What has either of them gained? What, but the promise of more death, and more loss?

“No,” Pro Moon finally says, but by now the shouts have risen so high that nobody hears him. “No,” he says again, louder, but any who hear this time simply choose to ignore him. “No!” he shouts, slamming his fist on the holo-table and shooting to his feet, his chair sliding backwards and toppling over.

Everyone at the table and, in fact, inside the room stop whatever they have been doing and turn their undivided attention to the shockingly out-of-character Prime Minister. “They use wormholes?” The question is so unexpected that everyone turns to one another for clarification. Pro Moon repeats himself, more harshly this time: “Is it, or is it not the case, that the Dominion uses wormhole technology to move their fleets and assault forces throughout the galaxy?”

“Uhh, yes, Sir, it is . . .” one of the generals answers.

The Prime Minister locks a cold stare on the general. “Will our interdictors prevent the use of such wormholes within their area of effect?”

“No, Sir, they won't . . . Sir.”

“And when the Dominion attacks another of our worlds, if we somehow manage to raise a sufficient force in such a short time to defend that world, will the repeated blows of our weapons against their craft, prevent the use of such wormholes by their forces seeking to withdraw?”

“No, Sir, they won't.”

Pro Moon sweeps his gaze across every member of the High Command, and then across the gathered technicians, analysts, and lesser commanders arrayed around them. “So you are telling me, that of all the myriad, grievous, soul-crushing crises arrayed about the whole of this Coalition right now, you want me, the Prime Minister of that Coalition, to devote the full weight and force of my office, to pursuing the one enemy that we know we cannot possibly defeat, with our current level of knowledge and technical skill? Is that what you are telling me?

Well, is it?

When no one answers, Pro Moon straightens his ruffled robes, retrieves his chair, and sits back down at the war table. When he speaks again, his voice has taken on its usual, lighthearted quality again. “I suggest, ladies and gentlemen, that we start with the gravest foe to galactic civilization . . . that we might actually survive combating. Admiral Blakeley,” the Prime Minister gestures to the hologram of the Coalition Supreme Commander, “I understand you have access to a certain Cooperative battle plan, devised to incapacitate the Reavers?”

“Yes, Prime Minister, I do,” the admiral answers, his Core accent sounding rather out of place amidst this company of aliens and Outer-Rim types.

“Well, then, let's see it.” While Admiral Blakeley takes a moment to prepare his presentation and have any vital data routed to the war council's holo-table, Pro Moon takes another look at the people who will be deciding the fate of the Coalition – and perhaps, the galaxy – in these coming months. “One enemy at a time, ladies and gentlemen. One front at a time. We start with our beleaguered allies; then we go on to their beleaguered allies; then, together, we stop whoever is left from driving this galaxy to ruin. That's the mission; that's the goal; that's the mandate.

“Let's make it happen.”

* * *

Ryn City-Ship Lungo Drom

While vestiges of its former life as a massive Lucrehulk freighter are clearly visible, Lungo Drom has become something else entirely, something truly spectacular. At a glance, without even stepping foot on one of her decks (and she is, in fact, a “her,” forever to be gendered according to her Keeper, in the manner of a tradition newly born or newly restored), the marks of the Ryn and their companions are clearly seen. Like a set of uniformly cut spokes extending from the hub of a wheel, over a dozen large docking arms now stretch from the outer arc of the massive C-shaped vessel. Custom-built modules have been attached to some, branching an individual large access point into multiple rows of berths for smaller craft.

At one of Lungo Drom's arms, the four-kilometer form of an Altor-class Replenishment Ship has docked perpendicular to the lay of her decks, “standing on end” so as not to obstruct nearby docks. The docking arm connecting the two is composed of sequential circular segments, each one rotated slightly further than the previous one to form a gently corkscrewing pathway. Individuals traveling from one ship to the other will be able to do so without being subjected to any severe shift in the direction of the artificial gravity, but instead will gradually walk up the sloped wall of the tube, following a well-defined path.

At the opposite side of the floating city, a vessel similar in size, shape, and general configuration to a Lucrehulk-class Core Ship has only just docked. Unmarked and broadcasting identification that reads as nothing but a jumble of letters and numbers, the vessel is drawing considerable attention from many aboard Lungo Drom and, indeed, the civilian fleet arrayed around her. What only adds to the unusual spectacle are the pair of heavily-modified Recusant-class Light Destroyers holding position on either side of the Core Ship, blocking two docking arms but not actually utilizing them.

Across the dorsal surface of Lungo Drom, huge landing platforms have been constructed, allowing for several hundred freighters, transports, and yachts to land inside of the Mag-Con bubbles projected from them, which create a layer of artificial atmosphere that is directly adjacent to open space. Mag-Con-enclosed transport paths link the platforms together, several pathways sloping into the hull of the ship and vanishing into her decks.

Lungo Drom has become a mobile trade hub, the vibrant heart of the Ryn Nation and the centerpiece of only their largest and most taxing endeavors. No one but her crew stay on-board long, not because of any dislike or discomfort with the vessel, but because that is simply the Ryn way: always on the move, never at rest and never at home.

Now more than ever, this is true.

All across the ship and her accompanying fleet, action station alarms sound. As the vessels of the fleet disengage from their discrete, disordered activities and quickly fall into formation, the largest vessels docked to Lungo Drom begin their detachment protocols. The attached berthing modules disengage under their own thruster power, orienting with the remainder of the fleet, their docked light freighters and other small vessels still safely held in their grasps. Atop the back of Lungo Drom, ship captains scramble to secure their vessels firmly to the deck, double-checking linkages and running through their checklists one final time.

At the heart of Lungo Drom, the Ryn Core Ship Storvandre detaches as well, rising slowly past the exposed landing platforms, its attitude thrusters firing as soon as it is clear of the larger craft to which it so recently belonged, moving away and falling into formation with the remainder of the fleet. The other Core Ship, the enigma that has only just detached from its brief time at Lungo Drom's side, drifts down, over, and up to take the place of Storvandre. As it does so, the security-scrambled identification of Guardian Prime is replaced by its rightful name.

In the space of only a few minutes, the unregulated, unprepared chaos of the Ryn Fleet has ordered itself for travel, and then . . .

And then the Emergency Capital of the Galactic Cooperative of Free States makes the leap to lightspeed, leaving behind this burned location and heading for its next unscheduled and spontaneously selected destination.

If the Dominion wants to strike at the heart of the Cooperative again, they will first have to find it.
Posts: 9
  • Posted On: Sep 27 2013 11:50am

It comes in many ways, and sometimes, the progression and the damage done to cause such progression offset each other almost equally. Progress for its own sake is pointless. Progress that benefits no one can even be more harmful than atrophy.

Consider Duro. A race began to send its people to the stars; not for anything but mere desire to do so. So they ran. And the colony ships were built and sent away to distant points in the heavens. Landing on worlds in the rim, they expanded well beyond the core. Well beyond the rock they came from…

But what of that rock? What of Duro?

In their desire to become more than what they were, they invoked the complete destruction of what they were. They strip mined their planet, carving deep into its face to extract the resources needed to colonize space. The byproduct chemicals of such extraction and combustion lingered long after the ships had disappeared. In their quest to explore other worlds, they had shortsightedly destroyed the one they lived on.

The world would be largely ignored if not for two reasons; its proximity to Corellia, and the massive spinning steel structures above it capable of creating entire starships inside them.

The Dominion cared not for either.

But never let it be said they were unreasonable allies. For beside Artanis, the new High Elder of the Dominion, and Shran Badaar, the Judicator in command of his fleets, stood Thracken Sal Solo. Fresh from interrogating some Imperials and exchanging terms, Solo was on a mission of his own.

“Have they agreed to your terms?” Sal Solo asked.

Badaar turned to him. He made a gesture with his hand and, realizing the human would not understand it, then used the gesture the humans would have used; a horizontal shaking of the head.

“Very well then,” Solo said, turning to leave…

…and finding the way out blocked. “Do stay,” the creature in the doorway commanded, in perfect basic.

Thracken took several steps backward. The Cree’Ar, for their part, played the creature no mind. “Excuse me?” Sal Solo asked. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but, our work here is done. If they refuse to our terms, we raze the world, move on, and return later to sweep up the ashes and rebuild. Why are you keeping me here?”

“To bear witness to what is to come,” Issk told him. “If we are to raze this world, we will do so with a method so violent and so destructive, it is classified by the people of this galaxy as a scourge… a plague. To unleash something such as this, blindly, is reckless. You must go into this with both eyes open.”

"I know all about The Reavers," Solo said, confidently. "I've seen the holovids from before the core collapsed."

Issk, however, was unmoved. "Watching a holovid is one thing. What you're doing now... it's an action. It's a choice. And it will have consequences."

Thracken stepped forward. "Are you questioning my resolve?"

Some would take that as a challenge. Some would take it as a threat. Issk, however, answered it as a question. "Yes."

Thracken didn't withdraw. "I was there, when you redeployed the arrays to Ossus."

"But not at Ossus itself," Issk commented. He then stepped forward and Sal Solo stepped back. "It is one measure of a man to command but another to bear the results of his command. We are fighting a war against a galaxy of Force Users. Meanwhile, you can, for the most part, hide behind a massive ring of gravity, protected from the effects of the conflicts beyond." Issk narrowed his eyes. "Every member of The Dominion, from the Parrow Lin to the Damuens, have forged their place in our alliance through the fire of combat. Heretofore, the Corellians have not. We need to know, that if we need you, you will be willing to support us... no matter the cost."

Thracken said nothing. He turned from the Azguard in the doorway and walked to the visage. With a gesture he’d seen the Cree’Ar make, he drew his hand across his chest, which served to enlarge the visage; the projected screen expanding to cover most of the bulkhead in front of him. Then, the turned back to Judicator Badaar. “Do it,” he said, simply.

Badaar turned to Artanis and Artanis nodded. Badaar then began inputting commands into the console in front of him.

Thracken imitated another Cree’Ar gesture; the one they used when they indicated they wanted to speak. “Citizens of Duro, this is Thracken Sal Solo, First Councilor And Protector Of The Corellian System. I regret that due to your refusal to answer our most generous offers, the Dominion must withdraw from your territory and rescind its offers of peaceful coexistence and protection until such time as a legitimate, globally recognized government can accept such offers,” Thracken spun.

And in front of him, spun space itself; a vortex, opened from one sublayer of subspace into realspace, allowing exotic matter to leak into realspace and spin around the fold that had opened it. Something else was coming through as well, and it spun, tumbling, end over end. A long, thin tower of steel, hurtling straight into the poisoned atmosphere of Duro.

And then, like predators after game, came the vessels. Large, small, of different configurations and construction all, they came, chasing the stick. Some were only seconds behind, while other, larger vessels lumbered slower, taking up orbit rather than diving into the atmosphere.

“In the interest of future, peaceful relations,” Sal Solo offered, “I also wish to warn you that we have detected Reaver vessels entering this system. We therefore advise all citizens of Duro who are able, to evacuate this system and not return until such time as the infestation can be removed. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Sal Solo out.”

Issk was standing in the middle of the bridge now, and nodded as Sal Solo turned to him. “Good work.”

“Do we stick around to watch the slaughter?” Sal Solo asked.

Issk softly shook his head. “Take us out of orbit Judicator Badaar,” Issk said to the Cree’Ar. “Our work here is complete.”

And as the Cree’Ar capital ship turned and began to head back towards the open conduit out of the Duro system, the first of the Reaver ships began to catch fire as they entered the planet’s upper atmosphere…