The Force Wars
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  • Posted On: Nov 7 2013 9:36pm
The Galactic Coalition

Lungo Drom, Cooperative Emergency Capital

Literally less than a week before its fall, the Grand Council of the Cooperative completed the “Continuity of Government” section of the Articles of Cooperation, ensuring that if Varn were ever lost to the Cooperative, the government would survive, no matter how many Councilors might be lost along with it.

As an immediate result of Varn's fall, each of the ruling bodies of the Cooperative's Free States held an emergency meeting, and each of them had independently declared the Cooperative to be in its highest state of emergency.

The result was this. Lungo Drom, the flying Ryn capital city that had begun its life as a Lucrehulk-class Cargo Freighter, has been seized by the new Emergency Council, the five-member group that will preserve the Cooperative federal government until the Grand Council can be restored.

Well, four of its five members, anyway. There seemed to be some sort of trouble selecting a representative for the Alliance of Corporate States, but he or she was arriving presently, so the four other Emergency Councilors were waiting in a mixture of curiosity and impatience.

They sat at a round table near the heart of the Core Ship Guardian Prime, a hologram representing the vessel's semi-autonomous AI occupying one of the chairs, seated as an equal to represent the Cooperative's newest member state, the Automaton Collective. When the room's heavy blast door finally slid aside to reveal the Emergency Council's final member, those at the table stood to greet their newest member.

Only to be met by the ghastly forms of two horrific droids. With faces more like that of humanoid skulls than any droid any of them had ever seen, and black-gray armor plating that looked more like a suit worn by their skeletal frames than an actual component of their bodies, the droids were the stuff of nightmares. They took up positions on either side of the blast door, their arm-mounted weapons clearly visible, their skull-faces staring, lifeless, into the room.

And then he stepped through, the gold and blue of his cape fluttering slightly in his wake, his head cocking slightly to the side as he stopped behind his seat at the table, roguish grin framed by that short, well-trimmed mustache. “What, did I miss something?” Lando Calrissian asked, pulling out his chair and taking a seat.

“Excuse me, what is this?” Elder Ruto, representing the Ryn Fleet, asked, her tone more than a little abrasive.

“Hm?” Lando muttered, feigning surprise. “Oh, those fellows,” he continued, looking over his shoulder and gesturing at the pair of ghastly droids. “We call them RVH combat droids. That's short for ReaVer Hunter, you see?” He looked back to the group, who did not seem impressed. “These are early prototypes, designed for use against the Yuuzhan Vong. That's what the creepy faces are all about.”

“That's not what I meant,” Elder Ruto sayed.

“What are you doing here?” Nitin Cass asked, making no effort to conceal her anger at the stranger's intrusion.

“What, nobody told you?” Lando asked. “I'm the . . . uhh . . . what's it called? Emergency Councilor!” Lando snapped his fingers and pointed at the Iridonian woman, happy he remembered the correct term, “for the Alliance of Corporate States.”

YoggoyStin stirred in his seat, drawing Lando's attention. “Forgive me, but must you not first be a member of the ACS, before you can be appointed its representative?”

“But I am!” Lando exclaimed, slapping his hands on the table for emphasis. “Tendrando Arms, a . . . uhh . . . 'Associate Member' . . . something like that. We don't get a full vote for internal policy, but all of our people are eligible for public office, so here I am. It's all very technical and confusing, but I'm sure your droid friend can check in and see that everything's in order.” He gestureed at the droid hologram, and Guardian Prime nodded in affirmation.

“So, what does this mean,” Nitin asked, more confused now than angry. “Lando Calrissian, hero of the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic, has joined the Coalition? And what, maybe a year after that very Republic has been reestablished?” She shook her head and sat back in her seat. “I'm not buying it.”

“Listen here, young lady,” Lando began, then immediately regretted the choice of words when he saw her angry demeanor return. “Listen to me,” he said again, calmer this time, less confrontational. “I don't know what this new Republic is, what it will become, if it will last. But I do know what this Cooperative is, what the Coalition is. And I know what the galaxy needs right now, and I know what I have to offer it, and I know who can help me do it.

“You're hurting right now, all of you. Varn . . . your capital is gone, and this Smarts character - whatever his faults, he brought you all together, and he's gone now too. I get that, I really do. But this isn't going to beat you. This Dominion is evil, pure and simple, and we have to stop it, for the countless defenseless lives hanging in the balance.

“You've go this thing – this Guardian Program? - that's what we are now. We're the Guardians of all of those people who can't survive what the Dominion will do to them, if we aren't there to stop it from happening. That's who we've become. That's what it means to belong to the Cooperative now.”

“Life is sacred,” YoggoyStin said, echoing what a Guardian had once told his home nest. “We must preserve and defend it.”

“To whom much is given, much is required,” Elder Ruto added. “The Fleet will not forget what was given to us in our hour of need.”

“Wait a minute,” Nitin said, smashing the moment of solidarity. “The Prime Minister has called on all of us to make the Reaver Threat our number one priority. And since that's been Cooperative policy since day one of the outbreak, what makes you think you should or can change it now?”

Lando raised a hand to calm the Iridonian woman. “I understand the strategic necessities of dealing with the Reavers. Don't forget, I was briefly a general in a former life.” He flashed that roguish grin again, and this time it seemed like it might be working. “The ACS is committing its corporate defense fleet to the Reaver campaign, and I encourage each of you to divert whatever forces possible to that endeavor. But we have to start, here, today, if we want to have any chance at figuring out Dominion technology, tactics, and motivation before they're already through with us.”

“What do you have in mind?” Elder Ruto asked.

Lano shrugged. “The Great River, for one.”

Everyone at the table, even the droid hologram, stirred in their seats. “What do you know of the Great River?” Elder Ruto asked again.

Lando smirked. “I named it.”

* * *

Cerea, Acting Capital of the Galactic Coalition

This was not Regrad's Coalition.

It was the one thought that kept rising to the surface of Admiral Panacka's mind as he waded through the tedious bureaucracy of Pro Moon's administration. Just managing to sit down and speak with the Cerean Prime Minister was proving quite the chore, despite the fact that the Minister was the one who had called Panacka!

“What do you mean, he's unavailable?” Panacka shouted at the really rather patient and accommodating executive assistant. “I'm the commander of an entire Province's armed forces. The Prime Minister can make time.”

“Admiral,” the assistant began, “the reason that the Minister is unavailable, is because he is away on official business. I'm sorry, but it is not simply a matter of 'making time'.”

“Do you understand that every hour I am delayed, my home province is at risk? We are at war. The Coalition has been attacked. Now you out here in the West might be content to sit by and watch your allies fight their battles on their own, but that's not how we do things where I'm from.”

The Cerean assistant was looking rather indignant now, and Panacka thought he may have struck a little too close to home, but suddenly the assistant broke eye contact and turned his attention to something behind the admiral. “Oh thank the Force,” he said, his entire demeanor changing as he allowed his stiff posture to slacken and rested his broad forehead on his hand. “Admiral Panacka,” he continued, lifting his head back up and gesturing behind the human, “this is Ambassador Tanor, from Ando. Ambassador, could you . . .” the assistant sort of waived Admiral Panacka away “. . . deal with him?”

“Are you . . . are you pushing me off on some part-time diplomat?” Panacka asked, setting a wide stance and pressing both hands against the top of the assistant's desk, making sure he understood that Panacka didn't plan on going anywhere.

Behind Panacka, the scratching sound of Aqualish speech immediately preceded a synthesized voice. “Prime Minister Moon called you here to meet with me.”

“What?” Panacka asked, turning around to study the Aqualish woman more closely. “Who are you, anyway?”

More scratching, then the translator cleverly disguised as a large, ornate necklace answered again. “This way, conference room seven. We have much need of your expertise.”

“Huh? What? Hey, I don't like to be yanked around like this!” Panacka stepped into the room and the door slid shut behind him. On the far side of the room stood a gleaming silver protocol droid, and . . . “A Geonosian?”

The insectoid began speaking in its bizarre, clicking language, and rose from its seat into the air as its wings fluttered to life.

“This is Tarik the Ascended, Archduke of the planet Hypori,” the droid explained in a feminine voice, “though you are correct; his species does hail from the planet Geonosis.”

The Archduke continued in that incomprehensible language, and already Admiral Panacka knew that something game-changing was afoot.

The protocol droid paused for a brief moment after the Geonosian finished his next thought, frozen in place, her head stopped in a peculiar position, halfway between looking at the Archduke and returning her attention to Panacka. And then her arms relaxed, she finished the turn to Panacka, and she bowed slightly as she continued. “Apparently, you and the Archduke are looking to avenge yourselves upon the Dominion?”

* * *

Singing Mountain Village, Dathomir

This was clearly not the sort of place with which General Lomax was either familiar or comfortable. The wood and animal hide huts, crude stone buildings, and simple dirt streets must have shocked and horrified the former Imperial aristocrat.

To Ink Davaan, though, this place seemed almost . . . homey. These people had a whole, rich, vibrant culture, free of the trappings of galactic politics and war. Through the Force, they'd found a harmony with nature that truly awed him . . . and it was good that the women didn't keep their men as slaves anymore, too.

Besides, Ink had spent more that a few nights in more than one backwater starport that had to be more dangerous to life and limb than the Singing Mountain Clan, even with their pet Rancors taken into account.

The duo's honor guard of Dathomiri warriors, all female, stopped at the entrance to a large structure. It was set into the side of the mountain, stone walls protruding from the living rock, and an antechamber made of animal hide and wood supports, with a thatch roof over both sections, it was the largest building in sight, not counting whatever portion extended into the mountain itself. One of the honor guard drew open the building's door, revealing the room beyond, lit by a glowlamp and sporting native furniture, low wooden benches with stretched animal hide for cushioning.

The duo stepped inside, and Ink was surprised that they were not followed in. These people lived simply, but that neither made them fools, nor simple. It was surprising that they would leave two such strangers alone with their leader . . .

“They will come if they are needed,” a voice said from the darkness beyond the room, and only a second later the aged and smiling face of Clan Mother Augwynne Djo moved out of the shadows and into the light. “Sit,” she commanded, lowering herself into a chair, leaning heavily on a wooden walking stick as she did so.

Ink complied immediately, but the Quelii general made a point of showing his displeasure before finally following suit.

“What are you doing here, offworlders?”

It wasn't threatening, not exactly. But it was certainly demanding. She thought herself superior to them, and it had nothing to do with her position as the leader of this world's small human population.

“We are here to offer you a trade,” General Lomax answered, trying to match her tone but coming off abrasive and confrontational.

“Then be gone,” she waived her hand toward the door. “You have nothing to offer us, and we have nothing to spare for you.”

“Your moon, Koratas, is composed of minerals that are of great value to the Quelii Sector and its people,” General Lomax continued undaunted. “I am here to negotiate for rights to those minerals.”

The Clan Mother cocked her head to the side, her mouth falling open as she heard the offer. “The moon? You're here for the moon? You think I . . . own . . . the moon?”

Lomax slid to the edge of his bench, clearly not understanding how he was supposed to sit on it. “Frankly, I think the Quelii Sector Combine should build a facility and start extracting resources at our earliest convenience, but the Cooperative -” he pointed a thumb at Ink “- seems to think that that would constitute 'exploitation'.” He leaned forward more, dropping his voice a little. “Which really just means that they think they can get something out of you that taking the moon wouldn't get them.”

“Why should I concern my people in any of your affairs?” she asked harshly. “Tell me why I shouldn't drive you from my world this very instant.”

“Because Varn is a smoking crater,” Lomax answered, standing to his feet, clearly tired of the uncomfortable bench. “Because your kind, Force users, are being hunted all across the galaxy. Because this deal, quietly pushed through our bureaucracy, will buy your world admission into the Quelii Sector Combine, making your problems our problems, and our problems are the Coalition's problems. And . . .” Lomax glanced to Ink, and Ink nodded silently. “And, because the Dominion – you know about the Dominion, I take it?”

Augwynne frowned unpleasantly at the slight. “Insult me like that again, and I will have you dragged out of my village.”

“Without ships and missiles and shields, the Dominion will kill you and everyone you care for, and no mystic power over the flow of water or the troubled heart of a Rancor will stop them when they glass your villages from space. The Cooperative wants you to help them fight, to teach and to learn together. To build an army, an army of Force users, an army to strike fear and dread into the hearts of the Dominion. As much as I hate it, it's the best plan I've heard in a long time.”

“The Combine is not the Cooperative,” Augwynne ventured after a moment of reflection. “Why do you care about this, General Lomax?”

The general seemed surprised by the old woman's grasp on regional politics, but this was what he'd been sent here for, so he recovered quickly. “I believe in the Combine, in a Quelii Sector government, in an integrated economy and joint defense force. That requires several things, two of which are raw materials, and an ability to defend our members. Varn was one of those members, and it is gone now, destroyed by the Dominion.

“We have to be strong. It is time to make swords of our plowshares. That moon overhead will fuel the fires of the Combine's transformation. And these people down here, these Force-warriors, will fight the enemy that we cannot. That's why I'm here. That's why I'm standing with the Cooperative and the whole of the Coalition on this one.

“Will you make this deal? Will you help us?”

“You want us to fight the Dominion with you? Then send us your greatest warrior, man or woman. If your greatest can best mine, then you will have proven yourself. If not, then I and my people have no use for you.”

“Done,” Ink said, standing to his feet.

“What? No.” Lomax was not pleased.

“I'll be back within the week,” Ink said over his shoulder, already walking for the door.

The general turned back to the Clan Mother, but she was already rising to her feet as well, turning as she did so to walk back into the darkness of her cave-home.

Lomax rushed to catch up with Ink, already out of the tent-building and on his way out of town. “What were you thinking!” he shouted, furious with the older man's unilateral decision. “You spend the whole talk in silence, then drop that and just walk out? What the hell's wrong with you?”

“If it was going to be anything at all, it was going to be this,” Ink said, still walking. “They're warriors, general, and we're asking them to go to war.”

“They're Force warriors, and for all the work you and your people have done, not one of you is a match for them. You show up with that fancy hardware of yours, and they'll club you to death on the spot for 'insulting their honor' or 'defiling their tradition' or somesuch backwards nonsense!”

Ink nodded as he continued to walk, eyes still set squarely ahead. “Yeah, so it's a good thing I know a bona fide Force warrior of my own, isn't it?”

* * *

Claymore Battlecruiser Vaapad, Naboo System

Captain Zive Brintt paced between the bridge stations of his new command, his predatory instincts still sizing up the new crew. It was a promotion, he knew; one he had both wanted and earned. He didn't like being sent out this far from home so soon after his reassignment, though. It would have done them all good to have more time together before having to face the possibility of combat.

That wasn't to say that Captain Brintt and his little task force were coming in blind, of course. Coalition Intelligence had been checking up on Naboo since former Prime Minister Regrad secured the Empire's withdrawal from the world. There was no indication of Sith presence on-world either, and Queen Carlotta had managed to maintain control of the world throughout the process of Imperial occupation and abandonment.

With the quiet assistance of certain concerned parties, of course.

At the time, the Coalition hadn't been in a position to approach Naboo publicly. Such an overt display would likely have placed Naboo at greater risk than any possible benefit of an alliance. But now, with the Coalition military growing stronger by the day, and the threat posed by the Force-hating Dominion too grave to ignore, there was little room left for pretense.

Naboo and the Coalition would stand united, facing the uncertain future together, or Naboo would remain alone, host to a defenseless Jedi temple in the face of Jedi-murdering invaders.

Vaapad has entered communications range, Captain,” the ship's Guardian reported, another new thing that Zive hadn't been given the time to acquaint himself with. He and his task force were the West's trial run with the Cooperative-originated military AI, his brand-new Claymore built from the ground up with integrated Guardian systems.

“Then let's do this, Fred,” Zive answered, calling the Guardian by its nickname as he checked the lines on his uniform one last time. “Go,” he ordered, and with that word, Fred activated the ship's holo-comm.

“I am Captain Zive Brint of the Coalition Western Province, commanding a humanitarian and diplomatic mission to Naboo under the personal orders of Prime Minister Pro Moon. We are here in the hopes of rendering medical assistance to your population, infrastructure repair to your cities, and to open formal dialogue between our two governments. Queen Carlotta, will you permit us to approach Naboo?”

* * *

Consular-class Cruiser Emissary III, hyperspace, Hutt Space

“What if they aren't nice,” Rosh the Bimm asked, his large ears twitching as a display of his nervousness.

“I don't need them to be nice,” Kallek Dar said, not taking his eyes off of the datapad he'd been studying for several minutes now. “I just need them to be good.”

The furry Bimm perked up in his seat, leaning forward to try to get his Nimbanel companion's attention. It didn't seem to be working. “Well, what's the difference?”

Frowning, Kallek Dar set down his datapad and turned his attention to the diminutive Rosh - “just Rosh”, as he'd been informed earlier. “My people served the Hutts for over a thousand years. In that time, we met all manner of unsavory sorts who were all so quick to smile and offer their guests the most exquisite drinks, comfortable seating, impressive and striking entertainment, all the while using the distraction of their kindness to position their force-piked thugs at every possible exit, and readying the vibro-shiv beneath their robes.”

Rosh gasped dramatically, shrinking back into his chair.

“I would take an unkind host who would see our meeting benefit us both, over a friendly fiend who hungers for my blood any day, on any world.”

“Okay, so . . . which is the Free State Enclave?” Rosh asked, scooting back up to the edge of the table and eying Kallek's datapad.

“For that,” Kallek began, handing the datapad over, “we need only ask: which is Estro Sabrino?”

“And?” Rosh glanced up, excited and curious.

“And I don't know. The last record anyone seems to have of him is a discharge order from the Jutraalian Empire, where he served as a vice admiral.” Kallek paused for a moment, drumming his fingers on the table. “We know he financed massive Enclave expenditures in the first months of the government's existence, but it's not clear where a lone man of no particular means managed to acquire such funds.”

“Could he have pilfered money from the Jutraalian coffers?” Rosh offered helpfully.

Kallek shook his head. “It seems unlikely, and there's no indication that any such funds ever went missing, regardless. I've got people back on Nimban sifting through financial records, trying to find out, but I'm not willing to risk an international incident by calling in the CIB just yet. Besides, we've got more pressing concerns.”

“Hmm,” Rosh nodded knowingly, “the Enclave pushing toward Nimban.”

“The Reavers,” Kallek answered flatly, once again surprising the Bimm with how pragmatic he could be. “Never lose sight of the primary objective.”

Rosh sat with that for a long while, letting Kallek return to his preparations and wondering if he should be doing the same. It wasn't until the ship had reverted to realspace and the captain's address played over the ship's speakers that Rosh roused from his silent reflection.

“This is the Coaliton Consular Cruiser Emissary III to Nar Shaddaa traffic control. We are carrying a diplomatic envoy personally dispatched by Prime Minister Pro Moon to establish formal dialogue and peaceful relations between our two governments. If you would permit us to approach and land, Ambassadors Kallek Dar of Nimban and Rosh of Bimmisaari are eager to introduce themselves.”

* * *

Irola Thane's Office, Tirahnn

“No, no, no! This has nothing to do with the League. I have a priority message for Irola Thane, from the Office of the Prime Minister of the Galactic Coalition. This is a Coalition matter, not a League matter!”

“That's what I'm trying to explain,” the hologram of the Obroan official said, “at this very moment, Representative Thane is physically inside a meeting of the League Assembly.”

“Well, it's very important that I speak with him immediately. Please go and fetch him.”

The hologram shook its head. “That's not possible. Again, as I've already said, it's an emergency session. The doors are shut, and no communications are allowed except through official League channels. Now, if you would like to request we relay a message to Representative Thane, then I suggest you leave that message for review and -”

“That's completely unacceptable.” The Cerean dignitary paused for a moment, massaging her forehead with one hand as she thought over her options. “Reserve me a docking bay; I'll be arriving shortly.”

She closed the hololink before her Obroan counterpart could object, and quickly gathered up her things into a bag. “I'm leaving for Obroa,” she shouted at the secretary as she headed for the exit. “Clear my shuttle for launch.”

Of course, if the eager Cerean hadn't been in such a rush, she may have waited long enough for the Obroan official to explain that physical proximity held no bearing whatsoever on what messages would or would not be allowed to enter the chamber. As it stood, by the time the Obroan managed to reestablish contact with Irola Thane's office on Tirahnn, the Cerean diplomat would already be in space, and by the time Representative Thane's secretary managed to reroute the call to Tirahnn's traffic control, the Cerean shuttle would be in hyperspace.

The only good news seemed to be that the Cerean woman's completely meaningless trip from Tirahnn to Obroa-Skai wouldn't be nearly as long as the trip from Cerea to Tirahnn had already been.

* * *

Dominator-class Heavy Battle Cruiser Resilient, Etti System, Republic Space

Traan Shi was diligently running through the pre-flight check on his Theta-class shuttle, doing his best to ignore that uncomfortable feeling he always got when heading into a “diplomatic meeting” on board a two-kilometer-long warship.

Ambassador Erek Joron, the fifty-something human from Teth, poked his head into the cockpit of the shuttle. “Busy?”

“Always,” Traan answered lightly, “but not so busy that you should let it stop you.”

Erek took the copilot's seat, sitting in it at an angle so he could address Traan more directly. “I was hoping we could run through the points one last time. I think it would do me some good.”

“I think it would drive me mad,” Traan said, then paused his check when he realized the comment hadn't gone over well. “I just mean that there's only so much preparation that we can do for a thing like this.” Traan mirrored Erek's seating position, turning forty-five degrees away from the pilot's controls and toward the copilot's seat. “The last formal contact we had with the Republic was Regrad's visit. While all of the reports indicate he was rather – hmm – abrasive, his meeting with then-Executor Vinda still ended on good terms. Granted, flying in on a battle cruiser isn't ideal, but Reaver Space is dangerous, and it's only getting more so.”

“I'm worried they might feel slighted,” Erek admitted, perking up as he caught sight of the group's last member through the cockpit's viewport. He waived for the Quarren woman to join them and then returned his attention to Traan. “Our relationship with the Confederation now is on the firmest footing it's been since they split from the Coalition, but we need the Republic, and they know that. I know this isn't Regrad's Coalition, but they don't. The Prime Minister opting out of the meeting looks bad, especially when Regrad made the trip all the way out here just so he could say 'hi' and have tea!”

Traan nodded in understanding of the human ambassador's point, content to let him air his frustrations. And it was true: this wasn't Regrad's Coalition. A lot was changing, and much more was yet to change. Pro Moon had just dispatched ambassadors and dignitaries all across the galaxy, not only to other factions and key worlds but to Coalition members as well. The dream of the Western Province's Unity Party was coming alive on the Coalition federal level, and the dangers, fears, and very real costs of war were doing nothing to slow it down.

“The Prime Minister isn't looking to make buddies,” Traan ventured as the door slid open again and Ambassador Khelk stepped into the cockpit. “He's looking to make allies. A lot of them. And that requires some pragmatic decisions. I don't think the Republic is so petty that those sorts of considerations will be lost on them. We aren't the Prime Minister, but we are his 'A Team'. We'll get this done.” He offered Khelk a reassuring smile.

“Is this about the 'special project' at Ossus?” Khelk asked. “Or was it Columex? Is that where the Prime Minister's gone?”

Erek shrugged. “I can't get anything through official channels. I thought you folks out West would have heard something, but I guess not?”

Khelk shook her head. “Proximity to Cerea has had no effect on my efforts to pierce the Minister's veil of secrecy.”

“Wherever he is,” Traan offered, “he's doing all he can for the future of the Coalition. We can be assured of that.”

As if on cue, an indicator lit up on Traan's control board and he signaled for silence in the cockpit. Clicking the activator on the comm system, the voice of their escort's comm officer came through loud and clear. “Ambassadors, we have secured communications with the Republic Foreign Affairs department. Shall I patch you through?”

“Go ahead,” Traan said, and a second later another indicator flashed on. “Greetings. I am Traan Shi, and I am an ambassador of the Galactic Coalition's Cooperative. I am here, under orders of Prime Minister Pro Moon, with representatives of the Coalition's Eastern and Western Provinces, to open lines of communication between our two governments, and address the mounting threats posed by the Reavers. My team is ready and willing to depart at your earliest convenience.”

* * *

YKL-37R Nova Courier Lightning Helix, Transitory Mists, Hapes Cluster

“This is not a good idea!” Vad the Cerean shouted at the pilot, a spindly droid with an overly large torso.

“Relax,” the Shard pilot chided, its second and third set of arms moving impossibly fast over the ship's controls. “These Squib star charts are high quality, trust me. We'll be through the Mists and at Hapes' back door in no time. Unless you doubt my piloting skills?”

“It's not a matter of skill,” Vad complained, “it's a matter of physics. Nebular winds, tidal forces, sensor distortions . . . the Mists eat ships, Representative Lommite.”

Lommite the Shard continued the gentle bob and weave of its piloting arms, a stark contrast to the ceaseless adjustments and recalibrations being made by its other four arms. That is, until it stopped cold, seeming to freeze in place.

“Uhh, Representative Lommite?” Vad prompted. “Lommite?” he said again, waiving a hand in front of the droid's photoreceptors. “Lommite!” he shouted, trying to shake it by one metallic shoulder, but to no appreciable effect.

“That star's in the wrong place,” Lommite said ominously, pointing at a dim speck through the Mists. Its arms snapped back to work immediately, trying to work out what had gone wrong.

“Are you . . . are you chatting with the Guardian again!” Vad shouted, furious. “You know I don't like it when you have whole conversations without me!”

“Apologies,” a new, gentle voice said through the ship's comm system. “We work much more efficiently when utilizing nonverbal means. You do want us to get you out of the Mists alive, don't you Ambassador Vad?”

Vad huffed indignantly, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “Well, fine! But keep me appraised, at least!”

“Of course,” Guardian reassured.

It was a fool's errand, anyway. Vad didn't even know why the Prime Minister had sent him and Lommite all the way out to Hapes. Presumably, he was heading to Etti IV anyway, to meet with Senator Vinda in person and secure the assistance of the entire Republic.

Sure, the Coalition wasn't entirely certain about the current state of affairs between Hapes and the Republic Proper, and yeah, getting the Hapan fleet on the Coalition's side against the Reavers would be swell, but what was with all of the secrecy, anyway? Flying an unmarked civilian ship through a dubiously charted pathway through the Transitory Mists was not Vad's idea of a meaningful diplomatic endeavor. What were they hoping it would accomplish, anyway: hide their mission from the Dominion?

Of course. Of course that's what they were hoping! The second Vad realized it, he had to say something. “Guardian! Why didn't you tell me we were here about the Cree'Ar?”

“We aren't here about the Cree'Ar,” Guardian said in that frustratingly soothing voice. “We're here in spite of the Cree'Ar. In case they are monitoring our public envoy to Etti IV, you and Representative Lommite have been dispatched, covertly, to establish contact with the Hapans. The objective is genuine, however. We are seeking allies in the fight against the Reavers.”

“Oh, I got something!” Lommite exclaimed in uncharacteristic excitement.

“What is it? You know where we are!” Vad was getting excited at Lommite's excitement. Plus, it really was rather nice that they weren't going to die out here.

“No, but I'm picking up a beacon of some kind. There's something nearby, and it's putting out a lot of power.”

* * *

With Knee Unbent: Defying the Rule of Tyrants

Emissary, enroute to Vladet

Pro Moon couldn't sleep.

The last twenty-four hours had been a precisely timed sequence of well-planned events. Despite the work he had yet to complete in the Western Province, the magnitude of this undertaking required him to drop everything and make straight for Vladet.

The Cerean Prime Minister tightened his grip on the back of the copilot's seat, staring intently at the blue-black swirl of hyperspace. “When we arrive,” Pro Moon said in a measured tone, “inform Imperial Center that the Prime Minister of the Coalition has arrived, and wishes to meet with Emperor Kraken.”

“Yes, Sir,” the pilot acknowledged, not taking his eyes off of his instruments.

“I'll be in my quarters until then.”

It was a massive risk, he knew, heading into the heart of the Empire and meeting the head of the Coalition's sworn enemy face-to-face.

But this was not Regrad's Coalition. And this was not Hyfe's Empire. It was time for a change.

The fate of the galaxy depended on it.

In his quarters, hastily stocked with the bare essentials for the trip, Pro Moon found something he hadn't been expecting: a bag. A very particular bag, from a very particular source.

His wife had managed to sneak the “good luck” package on board while he wasn't looking. Pulling the draw string at its top and opening the bag to inspect the contents, he set the box of chocolates and datapad full of bad romance novels aside, and withdrew the Kasha crystal she'd left for him.

Pro Moon wasn't a particularly religious man – neither was his wife, for that matter – but the galaxy was indeed filled with wonders beyond sentient comprehension, and as he hefted the glowing gold crystal in his hands, the Cerean Prime Minister felt his mind begin to clear and his worries abate. Pro Moon sank to his knees and then sat with his bottom resting on his feet, pressing the round crystal against his chest as his eyes fell closed.

It was in that state of serene clarity that Pro Moon understood what he had to do. He was not Regrad of Azguard; he could not be. His was not the path of the warrior. He had to make Emperor Kraken understand. He had to be strong; he had to be firm; he had to stand his ground.

For all of the evil that the Empire was, a far greater darkness was gathering against the inhabitants of this galaxy. He had to make Park Kraken understand, or he would have to watch as the Empire dragged the whole of the galaxy to ruin.
Posts: 97
  • Posted On: Nov 8 2013 1:47am
Rendili StarDrive Light Corvette Dragonlance, Coyn Orbit

Jarvis very decidedly didn't like this ship. It was identical to Wandering One, of course, but it still wasn't his ship.

The decision had been a pragmatic one. Wandering One would surely be a target of the arriving Imperials, so Jarvis had opted to transfer to another ship before the battle began. Overall command was in the hands of newly-appointed General Jorl'Vir'Saat, but his brother, the newly-former Ag'Tra Rol'Tru'Saat, was commanding the Free Coynite Fleet and was taking command of the space battle. Vice Admiral Alt'aior and his Bothan task force was deployed at the Coynites' left flank, and Jarvis with the Wandering Ones at their right.

It certainly wasn't the most impressive fleet of war ever arrayed against an expectant enemy, but with the support of Coyn's reinforced orbital defenses, it would hold up just fine until Alliance reinforcements arrived.

“Reversions detected!” the ship's sensor officer reported excitedly, and Jarvis stepped into action.

“Red alert!” Jarvis ordered, taking the captain's chair. “Identify our allies in the fleet and select targets according to the preset plan.”

As the Imperial fleet appeared in the skies above, General Jorl'Vir'Saat's order to attack rang out across every ship of the Alliance fleet present. Park Kraken had not given the Coynites the option of surrender when he had come to their world the first time. They would treat his servants in kind now.

The Coynite fleet surged forward at the limit of their vessels' acceleration potential, driving for the right flank of the Imperial formation, their own captured Imperial IFF systems identifying Ishori and Diamal vessels long before Jarvis' civilian-grade systems.

It was a simple enough plan for the initial charge: put the Imperials off-balance by attacking one flank of their formation, exposing the Coynite fleet to counter-strike from the other. Since the Ishori and Diamal would soon break from their positions in the Imperial fleet and turn on their presumed masters, the actual threat posed was negligible at best.

The Imperial force sent here was actually smaller than anticipated. It disappointed Jarvis to some extent: he was hoping that the trap laid out here would more than bloody the Empire's nose. Even so, the lesson that the Empire would be taught at Coyn would not be one soon forgotten.

“We're being jammed,” the comm oficer reported, surprised.

“And the Imperial fleet has engaged interdictor fields,” the sensor officer added.

“Somebody's overconfident,” Jarvis muttered, watching as his forward squadrons accelerated away from the main fleet to make their initial attack runs. It was a good sign, though. It meant that the Empire was planning to commit to this fight.

It meant they'd be in too deep when Alliance reinforcements arrived.

All at once the field lit with weapons fire, the Super Turbolasers of both sides' ISD V's launching their initial volleys only a moment before more standard weapons opened up. And then something caught Jarvis' eye: something wasn't quite right about the positioning of . . .

The Ishori and Diamal squadrons of the Imperial Fleet unleashed a full volley of turbolaser fire into the right flank of the Coynite Fleet, into Jarvis' own formation. Immediately following that volley, was a full spread of concussion missiles and proton torpedoes.

“They betrayed us!” Jarvis shouted over the decompression alarms signaling the ship was losing atmosphere on its lower decks. “Those Ishori and Diamal bastards betrayed us!”

“The Coyn Fleet is breaking off their charge,” the comm officer reported, voice strained by the shock of the moment. “They're retreating back to the planetary defenses."

“Shall I follow?” the pilot asked. “Sir?”


This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. This was his moment, his moment where he showed the Empire the futility of its very existence, where its own people rose up against it and struck it down.

This wasn't how it was supposed to happen.

The Coynite Fleet, cutting a wide arc away from the Imperials and back toward the planet Coyn and its orbital defenses, suddenly found its path blocked by a second fleet, emerging from hyperspace directly in front of them.

A second Imperial fleet.

It opened fire with a massive salvo of its own even as ground assault forces began to pour out from it, headed for the surface under heavy fire support from the fleet.

The heavier warships of the Coynite and Bothan fleet elements were forced to reverse power, slowing and reorienting toward the planet instead of continuing their gentle arcing course, all the while soaking up fire from two separate Imperial formations.

Jarvis' lighter vessels – those still intact, at any rate – broke from the formation and retreated back toward the planet at full speed. There was little help their light weapons and shields could do for the stranded behemoths. Eventually, mostly, the larger ships would make it under the protection of the orbital platforms' shields as well, and even with the treachery of the Ishori and Diamal, the combined Alliance forces would be more than a match for the Empire here.

It would be a bitter victory for the Alliance, but it would still be a victory.

* * *

Efreeti-class Battlecruiser Husdant, edge of the Coyn System

“Our message didn't get through in time,” Sei'lar said, dejected.

It was a completely unnecessary assessment of the situation, but Bandor understood that at times like this, some people just needed to hear their own voices, to remind themselves that they, at least, were still alive and free.

“Are we going in?” Sei'lar asked at length. He had seen the same recon reports, watched the same holo-modles of the field of battle. He had to know that Inferno Fleet didn't have a chance of turning the tide without the support of other Alliance forces. He had to know, too, that Coyn's orbital defenses wouldn't last forever, and the beleaguered ships of the Free Coyn Fleet and their allies wouldn't last long against concentrated fire.

But unlike Bandor, Sei'lar wasn't a soldier. He didn't understand. “Yes. Yes we are.” Bandor worked the controls of the holo-projector, repositioning the graphic representation of the battle to move a particular slice of Coyn's orbital space in front of himself. “The position of the Imperial interdictors seems to indicate that they are anticipating possible Alliance intervention, even now. It's likely that they're creating buffer zones here, here, and here to pull possible reinforcements out of hyperspace well away from their fleet, giving them time to reposition before any approaching forces can close on them.

“If we reposition to the other side of the system and jump in along this vector, we should be able to push in on their flank quickly and suppress it long enough for Allied forces to slip out and clear the gravity well.”

“So we're running?” Sei'lar said.

Bandor nodded. “We're running. We're saving our people, and we're getting out of here.”

“And what about the Elrood Rebellion?”

Bandor stared at the projector for a long moment, hating the lie he had to tell himself. “If we're lucky, we can fortify the other worlds of the sector and stage a return to Coyn when we've secured more support.

“Signal the fleet; make ready for the jump.”

Just a little while longer. Just hold on for a little while longer.
Posts: 4
  • Posted On: Nov 8 2013 3:30am
Command and Control, Zenith Station
Andos System, Transitory Mists

Zenith Station was about the worst assignment an Andosian could get, or so Ensign Pavel thought. It was the most remote outpost New Andos had in the system, designed to monitor traffic through the very few and far between hyperlanes that remained safe for vessels to travel through. Of course, it didn’t help that those lanes could shift depending upon seemingly countless different variables unique to the Mists.

Most scientists throughout the galaxy found themselves baffled by the region of space, for to them it seemed as if the entire sector was designed to be a maze. The scientists of New Andos, however, did not share the rest of the galaxy’s confusion. They knew it had been designed to be a maze.

And though they had not met the architects, the people of New Andos had formed an unlikely yet fast friendship with, to the amazement of so backwater a people as the Andosians, those architects’ creations. They were Solaris. It had taken the Andosian translators much time to understand the real meaning behind that statement.

It was the name of their planet, and yet it was also the name of not only that planets’ people, but the singular hive mind they shared. Well, not entirely singular, for where there was Solaris, there was also Polaris. Former members of the hive mind that chose to live independently, to willingly sever contact with their people, their Mind.

One of those manned the C&C deck with Ensign Pavel, GRD-87. Pavel called it Eighty-Seven to make his life easier, and the unit did not seem to mind. It was...difficult to speak with the Polaris. They thought in a way fundamentally different than the average sentient. Pavel had heard that the Solaris were easier conversationalists, just so long as one remembered that when you spoke to Solaris, you spoke to all of them at once.

Polaris on the other hand, was more of a community akin to the Andosians. But a stunted sort of community, a scarred one. The choice to sever themselves from their hive mind had originally not been a voluntary one, an extreme measure taken under the darkest of circumstances. For what one Solaris felt, all Solaris felt, so the Polaris colonists had become independent; irrevocably dividing their people’s culture, yet the choice was one of mercy.

The Polaris wildlife had proven more cunningly aggressive than they had anticipated, and after the first death...Pavel shuddered softly to himself. Neither Solaris nor Polaris had much need for secrets, so much of their legacy had become akin to that of a literary genre amongst the Andosian populace.

As such, the Polaris were...odd, at times. A little too emotionless, a little too much of a reminder that they were not flesh and blood. Most robots went to great lengths to disguise their aspect as that of a biological, simply as a matter of design aesthetic and programming. The Solaris and Polaris however, were truly two of a kind.

“Contact,” GRD-87 said.

“Very funny, Eighty Seven,” Pavel chortled, glancing over at his companion, “I’m the one who makes the jokes around here.”

He froze.

“I’m the one who makes the jokes around here,” he said again, his eyes wide.

“Contact,” GRD-87 repeated.

His hands whirring over his own console, Pavel pulled up the relevant sensor logs. There was contact. Someone was close by, and that could only mean two things. Either they were very, very lost, or…

Or they were Yuuzhan Vong.

“Zenith Station to New Andos Actual,” Pavel recited a bit too hurriedly into the emergency comm unit he had just activated, “Code Black. I say again, Code Black.”

It was the middle of the night, but in the bowels of the capital, all of the major players had been awoken at once. Emergency meetings were called, Excalibur interceptors were scrambled, and above all: Solaris was notified.

Andosian Embassy, Solaris
Terminus System, Transitory Mists

It was just after dawn on Solaris when Andrew Cross was notified that the world of New Andos had gone insane overnight. It had been a very long time since his people had seen any sign of their hated enemy of old, and though the vessel in question was as of yet unidentified, Andrew knew that the Andosians would be thinking of little else.

Cross himself had never seen a Yuuzhan Vong, nor even heard of them until he had been reunited with his homeland. Or rather, his homeland had been reunited with him. He had been living in the Corusca galaxy for nearly ten years before he had heard whispers of a planet hidden within the Mists.

A planet called Andos.

Thinking he had found his long lost home, what Andrew had discovered when he had made the perilous journey to the heart of Hapes’ most mysterious landmark proved to be even more astounding. Whatever force, whether it be cosmic or supernatural, that had transported Andos XII from geosynchronous orbit over their homeworld and onto a collision course with the Astral Astoria, had also propelled him through time.

The Andosians he found were his descendants, having settled several systems outside their own and developed a superior system of wormhole travel to the contemporary hyperdrive before the scuttling of the Avalanche, the colony vessel that had contained their last wormhole drive, its construction dependent upon materials seemingly only found on their now-lost home planet.

Andrew had almost lost hope that day, the day he realized everyone he knew and ever had known were now ghosts of the ancient past. The only thing that had gotten him through it had been the unexpected kindness of his own people. Apparently, the loss of his early rocketship had sparked a drive for a space revolution, paving the way for the Andosian Navy and the massive colony ships that had saved as many of his people as possible from the Yuuzhan Vong onslaught.

Since he had lived amongst the denizens of this galaxy for so long, Chancellor Andrus Jordan had immediately appointed him Director of their State Department. The position had meant an honor, but it had also meant sacrifice. It had been months since Andrew had been on New Andos, had been amongst his people.

Instead, he seemed to spend every waking moment living in Capital, the floating city-ship that housed the central nervous system of the Solaris. Solaris was a beautiful world, terraformed specifically to be idyllic, and yet Cross could not help but mist the rustic feeling of the frontier that was New Andos.

“Informative: Director Andrew Cross, Admiral Dace Riggs is awaiting communications with your person.”

320 Sys Root was, in many ways, Andrew’s best friend. It was the chief administrative unit of Solaris, and more often than any other droid, Solaris chose to speak through Three Twenty. Administrative units themselves were quite different from the average labor unit. Where labor units resembled humanoids, 320 Sys Root was little more than a floating orb containing a truly spectacular neural network.

“Thank you, Solaris,” Andrew replied, careful to use the correct vernacular. Although he had grown accustomed over the months to thinking of Three Twenty as a distinct entity, he kept reminding himself every day that when the unit spoke, it spoke with the full weight of Solaris, “Put him on screen in here, if you would.”

A holofigure of Admiral Riggs appeared on the table in front of the couch upon which Andrew had been sitting, the man was pacing back and forth as he awaited connection. Solaris holotechnology was somewhat more advanced than the galactic norm, and Cross could see some of the bridge of the Avalanche behind him, the Virtus-class Strike Cruiser that bore the namesake of their most celebrated colony ship.

“Admiral Riggs, how may I help you?” Andrew asked.

“Ah, Director Cross. Good to speak with you again,” Riggs paused in his pacing as he turned to regard the other Andosian, “I only wish it were under better circumstances. Per Black Protocols, I am informing you that Zenith Station made sensor contact with an unidentified manned craft nearly one hour ago.”

“Interrogative: Have your units been able to verify Yuuzhan Vong sensor signatures?” 320 Sys Root asked.

“Not yet, Solaris, but the probability of it being anyone else is…”

“Astronomical,” Andrew finished for him, “Very well. Thank you for informing me, and Forcespeed, Admiral. I’ll prepare things here, should the best case scenario win out the day.”

“We’re all hoping the same thing here, Director Cross,” the Admiral replied, nodding curtly and then saluting “Admiral Riggs, out.”

“Declaration: Polaris Vessels of War and Star Carriers are being scrambled as we speak.”

“Let’s hope we won’t need them, Solaris,” Andrew said, as much to fight off the numbing dread as anything, “In the meantime, I have an embassy to make presentable.”

“Statement: Solaris will dispatch labor units to assist in your endeavor.”

And so Andrew began to clean, if only to put off the anticipation.

Elsewhere, close by, a lone Coalition diplomatic shuttle was about to get the surprise of a lifetime as the full weight of both the Andosian and Polaris war machine bore down upon its last known coordinates.
Posts: 6
  • Posted On: Nov 8 2013 3:54am
Great Jedi Library, Knossa
Ossus, Adega System

“Master Zark?” Okko called.

It had been two days since Arix Askrima had sequestered himself in his personal quarters atop the Jedi Library’s highest tower, and while normally the Grand Master was not to be disturbed in such moments, the Ysanna had begun to grow restless without the guidance of their leader.

Okko feared that Zark had fallen into thoughts of the Darkside. The defense of Ossus against the Reaver incursion had proved costly, and while Knossa had been spared most of the devastation due to the Ysanna people’s lack of reliance on holonet technology, the near-razing of Orilcia had been a heavy burden for the Grand Master to bear.

They had both stayed behind when the evacuation had been sounded, neither of them willing to see everything they had strove so hard for burned to ash by the mindless onslaught of the Reaver advance. They had fought, striking from the shadows, and yet experienced no relief until the day Master Leia Organa had returned, a Jutraalian warfleet at her back.

Such times could push even the strongest amongst them to the Dark.

After all, Ossus was his charge. The Ysanna had entrusted their future with him, and the Orilcians had always valued his input, even if they viewed his Jedi Enclave at times as more of an annoyance than a boon to the League world.

It had been Zark’s idea to found the United Worlds of Ossus, a temporary coalition between Ossus and the former Jutraalian Empire, and the additional resources had even led to the establishment of a Green Zone along the Reaver border. The last Okko heard, things were going well there, his friend and confidant Captain Yemin having just left the system to reinforce the line there.

As Okko entered the chamber, he knew immediately that the Grand Master was no longer there. Should he desire, Arix Askrima could keep his presence hidden from all but a few, and Okko counted himself amongst those lucky enough to know the man well enough to be able to pierce that veil.

He did not sense a veil as he entered his Master’s chambers. He did not sense any presence at all. Even as he lived there, the Grand Master left little sign of his stay. He had been one of those rare souls that needed only the comfort of his own thoughts to get him through the day. But this was different, Okko new, this was something none of them had expected.

Zark was gone.

“What would you have me do, Master?” Okko asked aloud, to no one in particular.

In the aftermath of the Incursion, Ossus had grown more dependent upon the Jedi Enclave than ever. Even now, Jedi were on the streets of Orilcia, using their gifts to assist in the reconstrunction effort. How would the people respond when they discovered their leader had seemingly abandoned them?

Abandoned him, Okko realized. Abandoned him.

For the first time in a long time, the old man felt truly alone.

League Assembly Hall, Obroa City
Obroa-skai, Obroa System

It had been several months since the disappearance of Grand Master Arix Askrima, and Okko had only served a brief fragment of that time as Temple Master before his election as Jedi Consul to the League of Nations. It had been the first time Okko had ever left Ossus, and though the Ysanna prided himself on his lack of need for the tangible, he found that the one thing he could not easily live without was the sights and sounds of his home and his people.

The Assembly had been in an uproar all evening. The envoys from Columex had shaken the institution to its core, and the politicians could see it as nothing but an ultimatum. Where all other member worlds had applied for membership, including Ossus, the Council of Columex had asked for the League’s petition to join their new Commonality.

It felt, to many, like a coup d'état in progress.

The Constitution of Laws had been drawn up on Columex, a joint venture with those that had survived the ravaging of Orilcia, either through the evacuation or sheer luck. Okko and the Columex ambassador, a human by the name of Fyodor Tsibul, had been tasked with bringing the documents before the League for a vote of ratification.

Easier said than done.

“Obroa-skai has been the capital almost since the League’s formation! Surely we cannot be expected to simply hand over the administration of our alliance to these Columex!”

“Nobody is suggesting Columex as the equivalent of Imperial Center,” Tsibul replied to the outcry. Okko had to admit, Fyodor knew how to play the game, “But Obroa-skai is no longer in a position of relative security as it has once been. I hope the Assembly appreciates the sheer risk Consul Okko and I took merely travelling this closely to the Core and, by extension, the Dominion.”

There were rumbles of agreement throughout the chamber. Many of the delegates from the rimward worlds were there by proxy, and those that had braved the dangers to come themselves showed signs of acute anxiety at the mention of the Cree’Ar. After all, if Coruscant could fall…

In a galaxy post-cataclysm, nothing that once was was true anymore.

“No more risk than we would take had these talks taken place on Columex! You’re right next door to the heart of Reaver space!”

“And yet, these talks are not being held on Columex,” Okko chimed in, always the mediator. Always the Jedi, “Precisely for that reason. Both worlds are on the edge of a vibroblade, Ossus has already suffered unimaginably. The ambassador and I both merely seek stability.”

The words were true enough, but they felt bitter in the Ysanna’s mouth. To use his own world as a pawn in this game of politics, he felt it demeaned the suffering of his people. Suffering he had not been able to prevent, just as Zark had not been able to prevent it.

What he wouldn’t give for Zark to be here now.

“You mean you seek ownership over this historically neutral conglomeration of worlds for your war machine! Much of our military assetts have already been delegated the responsibility of patrolling for sign of Dominion incursions. How many of them would you redirect to fight your insane crusade against this Reaver scourge?!”

“Think on what you say, Representative,” Tsibul retorted, “The Dominion, the Reavers. These are enemies who care not for terms such as ‘neutral’ and ‘independent’. The tools you have used to maintain your freedom from the yoke of tyranny will not work against these foes. The same goes for Columex.

All we ask is that you take a stand. That you solidify your resolve and hold true to the oaths you swore to one another. The bueracratic reforms we propose merely provide a framework tested in the crucible of the New Republic and proven. We wish for you, for all of you, to work with us, not for us.”

“And yet you expect us to accept Columex as the federal capital!”

“I expect you to accept Columex as a federal capital,” Fyodor said, his arms raised in an expression of peace. This drew a surprised expression even from Okko, “The League has grown. Many amongst you view Obroa-skai as too Core-centric in the way it addresses its interests. I am sure there are Representatives amongst you that would welcome an auxiliary capital closer to home. A capital that fights for the needs of the Rim as well as the Core.”

This caused quite the commotion amongst the assembled representatives. Narrowed brows appeared on many of the delegates from worlds close to Obroa-skai, but Okko could see resolve weakening on the Mid Rim representatives, and even some of the Colonial delegates let their poker faces betray them.

They were listening.

“Above all, I ask that you remember, Columex demands nothing from you. We ask no commitment of arms or lives,” now he was on a roll, and Okko could feel the ripples in the Force as the cunning politician changed all the variables, “We only ask a commitment to each other. A declaration that speaks louder than: we will help if convenient, we will intervene only if necessity demands, we will save you from annihilation only if we can afford the cost.

We are asking, truly, for a Commonality; of purpose as well as of governance.”

“Ambassador Tsibul of Columex has said his piece,” the Assembly Speaker called the entire forum to order, and after yet more hours of debate, the Speaker finally called a vote.

“We stand here,” the Obroan native said, “On the precipice. Of what, we do not yet know. Shall we continue, as we have, a League of Nations? Or shall we take up the yoke of Columex’s Commonality, and in so doing consign ourselves to each other so long as our vows hold sacred? We decide, as we always have, with many votes, but with one voice.

I now call to order the most important vote of my entire career as Assembly Speaker. Perhaps the most important vote ever brought before this esteemed Assembly. May the Force be with us all.”
Posts: 36
  • Posted On: Nov 16 2013 8:19pm
Nar Kreeta, Nar Kreeta System
Cobalt Cantina

In the bustling mining sector of Nar Kreeta, laid the Cobalt Cantina, the local watering hole for the miners. The cantina had closed it`s doors an hour ago, but the bothan bartender was still present, anxiously counting the day`s profits. His calculations were interrupted by two men, who entered the bar via the back door. Both of them wore simple protective armor and distinct gang insignia, the other carrying a heavy container. The bothan leaned against the counter with his palms, eyeing the two suspiciously. The duo hurried in front of the counter, seemingly alarmed by a yet unspecified reason.

"You are an hour late. I do hope, you have a good explanation for this?" The bothan demanded with narrowed eyes.

"Sorry boss, I think..." The first man stumbled with his words.

"We may have had a tail, you know. Double back, all that jazz." The second thug chimed in, more seriously.

"And?" The bothan was not pleased at the sound of these news.

"Gone, poof. Nothing to worry about." The first one said with a stupid smirk on his face.

"It better be. I can`t tell you how important this deal is. With The Enclave squeezing us left and right, profits are suffering as it is." The bothan vented his frustration over the current work climate and seemed to be bothered by the concept.

Yet no sooner than he had ended his moaning, a blaster shot pierced the first thug and the second fell as soon as he turned around to face his attacker. The bothan dropped onto the ground, clutching his own blaster, which had been hidden under the bar. An eerie silence crept into the room after the second thug fell dead to the ground. After moment of silence the bothan mustered the courage to peek over the counter.

His courage was rewarded with a punch in the face and as he stumbled back, someone grabbed him by the collar and slammed his head against the counter. Nebael placed his blaster against the alien`s head and brought his face on the same level as the bothan`s. The alien`s eyes widened as he recognized the justicar.

"Hello Totha." Nebael said, feeling the Bothan`s pulse go up a few beats.

"Nebael, why the hell are you shooting up my employees!? The Bureau promised me full immunity, if I co-operated." The bothan tried to squirm out of the justicars grip, but to no avail.

"The Bureau was not too pleased to find out, that you`ve been playing both us and the Hutt`s. Selling information and product to the Exchange? Dumb move." Nebael said with a low, threatening voice as he stared at Totha.

"Okay!" Totha confessed with his arms raised in surrender. "I was just trying to make a profit, okay! But I swear to you it wasn`t anything important, just current events is all!" Totha`s pleading was starting to rake on Nebael`s nerves and he was getting aggravated, which was enforced by a tighter grip on the Bothan.

"What about our presence here? You didn`t tell anyone about us, did you? Because the Hutt knew my colleagues were coming, they had a nice welcoming party for us. Two BSA agents, dead... and an attempt on my life, no less, but quite frankly I am not angry about that. People keep trying to kill me all the time." Nebael`s voice was calm and he was collected, each word cold and calculated. Yet Totha could hear the underlying anger.

"Look, maybe we can..." Totha was interrupted as he was being pulled over the counter.

When Totha could finally regain his senses, he was lying the ground and staring down the barrel of a blaster. The Justicar looming over him had severe blaster burns on his armor and the armor on his left forearm was missing. Whatever had transpired, Nebael must have had a rough time getting away.

"Delivering you to the Bureau would be a fitting, but thanks to you, I don`t have the secrecy nor the time to do so."

Nebael fired his blaster multiple times in the bothan`s face, sending a clear message to anyone, who would find his body about the awful implications of betraying The Enclave. Nebael had spent the last months hunting down remnants of the Hutt Cartels and undermining local politicians to bring about the conditions for The Free State Enclave to move in unopposed.

He had lost count of the fire fights he had been involved with. In comparison to his career as a bounty hunter, at his current pace, he was heading for an early grave. He had been travelling Hutt Space, in search of The Enclave`s foes with such zeal, that he had somewhat lost track. At first he had thought being a justicar would be another assignment, but after every mission there was a new one waiting for him. He felt like he was constantly covered in the blood of some gangster, but at least the credits were good.

Nebael glanced at the dead bothan as he holstered his blaster, scum like Totha were slowly running out of options and they started to look for employment outside the Cartels, namely their rivals in the underworld. Nebael had run into some complications on this mission and had been forced to withdraw for a while, he and two BSA agents had been ambushed by the Hutts, only he had made it out alive.

Nebael grabbed the container and headed for the exit, the Hutt`s would find the corpses soon enough. Nebael however would be long gone, but sooner rather than later, he`d be back to finish what he had started. The Enclave and it`s justicars would not rest until they had destroyed the remnants of the Hutts once formidable criminal empire.

For now however it seemed, that the Consul had something else in mind, he had received new orders to cease pursuing the cartel remnants and return to Nar Shaddaa. Nebael welcomed the reprieve, he for one had enough of hunting two-bit criminals with no real means of retaliation against The Free State Enclave.
Posts: 153
  • Posted On: Nov 16 2013 10:02pm
Revanche-class Star Defender Revanche, somewhere in Confederation Space

His lightsaber's cobalt blade quickly whipped around to deflect a jab from the emerald blade of his trainee. Before the other Jensaarai could recover his stance, Adrian's left hand shot forward, generating a force push that knocked the woman to land on her back. Seconds later, her deactivated saber hilt clattered onto the deck next to her. He pulled his saber to the en garde position. Just wait for it...But the woman merely rolled onto her stomach and slowly stood up. With a wry smile, Amita Indira's hand reached for the saber; the hilt flew through the air into her hand. She neatly pocketed it.

“Haven't we done enough defense velocities for the day?” questioned the woman.

“No such thing,” replied the susevfian with a matching grin, “practice makes perfect. Especially in an order as young as our own.”

“Or rather,” replied his trainee, “the Confederation's branch of our order. They could still be there. They are better than us, after all. Even better than CSIS, if the stories are to be believed.”

Adrian's lips curled down to a thin line. He had to admit, his search to meet up the original order of Jensaarai had frustrated him. At Susevfi, he hadn't been able to find a trace of them, even with Kitty Hawk's help and despite the assistance of several CSIS teams. But if the holocron of the last Saarai-kaar was to be believed, it would be very difficult to find them, but nigh impossible now with the Cree'Ar agents and their lackeys hunting the galaxy for any Force-users. He let out a sigh.

“You are right, after all,” admitted the Jensaarai, “but we just don't know. And I readily admit than I am hardly even close to being a good teacher for you. I wish I could offer you more, and in time, I hope we will. I'm sorry.”

“I apologize,” replied the dusky woman, “I didn't mean to offend you. I just wish there was more for us to do.”

He let out a sigh of exasperation, “The holocron of the Saarai-kaar isn't fully open to us yet. There will be more secrets to be revealed, I can feel it, yet I am beginning to think I know why it has survived so long without anyone else looking for it.”

“It is incomplete,” stated the woman.

Ravenna nodded, “You can feel it too. It makes me wonder...”

“It makes me wonder about the other holocrons the Confederation has found.”

“I dare not open those,” replied Ravenna, “not yet. Holocrons can be very dangerous, especially if we do not know their history before opening them.”

“Knowledge does tend to be a devious thing...what...what are you thinking? I can feel your mood change...”

Ravenna merely shook his head, “I just had a thought, maybe more of a hunch. Admiral Lucerne invited me for dinner yesterday, and he brought some news which I think we should maybe check out.”

Her earthen-colored eyes bore into his, “You're giddy.”

“I am,” conceded the other Jensaarai, “those who can feel the currents of the Force are both becoming harder and easier to find. We just need to go to the right place, where they are gathering.”


“Possibly,” replied Adrian, “though from what the holocron has told me, they will not readily accept us. I was thinking Azguard Space. The Azguards and those fleeing to them I think will be more accepting of us, and we may even have something to offer them, if I can get Admiral Lucerne to agree to my request...”

“Just have Kitty persuade him...”

“Let's not even joke about such things,” remonstrated the man, “but will you join me?”

“I think that get's me out of some defense velocities...”

“Then it's settled. Let's get ready to go to Azguardia Prime.”
Posts: 10
  • Posted On: Nov 21 2013 4:50am
"So mosses, what do you think?"

Mosses walked over and sat across the table from Rob. He was impressed but showing it openly just would not do. He would never hear the last of it from rob if he did.

"Looks like you have been busy rob. Tell me why here, why the secrecy?"

Rob smiled them pushed a list across the table. Mosses picked it up and began to read.

"This is the the Alliance. Sure i will use it for my own needs when it suits my agenda but for now I am building a fleet. I know Faulkner, Reshmar and Kre'fey will come around and see its the Dominion and the Reavers that are the true threat. When they do I want them to be poised to take the fight to them. They are among the best commanders in the galaxy. They can help and I believe they can turn the tide in this war to come. We need a force that is not afraid to fight to the last man. People who fight for a belief not for territory or wealth. The Rebels are uncomposable because they are already corrupt. And compromised. They are like you mister mosses. They fight for themselves and what they feel is worth fighting for. They are criminals in all but title and they do not care what they have to do to fight for what it right. Twenty years ago they would have been hunter down by the New Republic. Fifty years ago hunter by the republic. But they like the rebels who fought for the freedom of the galaxy from the Emperor and his new Order are do not care if they are criticized or condemned by the rest of the galaxy. They will do what they must and die in the process without giving that sacrifice a second thought. That is what we need Mister Mosses. That is the greatest weapon the galaxy has against the Dominion."
Mosses listened to Rod and looked over the list. On it were six ships labeled commissioned. He tossed the list back on the table and listened to rob finish his speech., His words did not fall on deaf ears, he knew what Rob said could be true. He knew Reshmar to be a man like Rob was describing. Faulkner whom he had meet once , was smart but Mosses had no idea what kind of man he was. As for Kre'fey, the man was a pirate or he wanted to seem like one. Mosses knew of his evolvement with the alliance but he doubted the man would lay down his life on a whim. He thought about it and figured he was more like Kre'fey than he wanted to admit. For now it seemed his agenda and the alliance plans were close enough to the same that he would help. But when the shit hit the fan and it came time to be one of Robs imagined hero's and lay down his life for what he thought was right well, That is when Raymond Mosses and the Alliance would part ways. Rob finished his speech about saving the galaxy and men of true devotion and what ever else he was spewing on about then looked at mosses in silence.

"So Mister Mosses, will you help me?"

Raymond perked up and guessed he had lost track of what Rob had been going on about. Somewhere in all that mess he had just belted out he had asked Raymond for help. He missed that part. Must have been after the stopped listening . Now he had no idea what Rob wanted.

"Rob, listen, I think what you said s all nice and well meaning but I have seen the few vids that have come out of Dominion space. I have faith in Reshmar as a commander and respect the man but the others I have no idea about. And to tell you the truth I do not think the Alliance has a crippled banthas ass in a Dragons den of bating the Dominion. No matter how many ships you make for them. So I know I have a commitment to the Admiral and all and I fully intend on carrying out the last section of my contract but I can not commit myself to fight along side the fish and his merry band of men."

Rob sat quietly and made no move after Raymond had finished his answer. He tapped a few keys on the data console on his desk then handed Raymond another data card. Mosses gasp and looked up at Raymond after reading the data. Rob looked sullen and set one last command into his console.

"Mister Mosses, I need you to take these six ships to Admiral Reshmar at Duro at once. I have them crewed and ready for you to join them. They leave in fifty five minutes. That is yours if you do this one last job for me. Please Ray, Reshmar may need help.

Raymond looked again at the credit account now in his name. It was an absurd amount of money which he knew many ways to spend but what of the price. Sullust had been a night mare which he never wanted any part in again. And Duro seemed like it would be more of the same from what he was hearing through the grape vine. But it was alot of money.

"Rob, I will help the fish one last time. After this we are square. Leave me out of the rest of your galaxy saving. I will retire and live the good life in peace. With out you are the fish to worry about. That is my demand. Is it a deal?"
Rob nodded and pressed enter to send the money into Raymonds account.

"It is a deal."

An hour later Raymond Mosses stood on the Bridge of Leviathan. The Calamari ship was massive and unlike anything he had ever seen. It had to have been some experimental design why else would it look like it did. He had never seen such a ship. And the interior was far different than any Calamari ship he had ever seen. Tripple bulkheads. Auto defense turrets. The ship was built more like a prison vessel than a ship for exploration or even war. The other five ships were smaller but they too were unlike anything Mosses had seen before. That is other than the two ships flanking Leviathan. They were very familiar, too familiar actually. They were not exactly the same but he knew they were just like Hawkeye. The design could not be forgotten. The two new class republic star destroyers and one modified endurance carrier lined out the group of ships. Mosses had meet with the commanders briefly when he came aboard and now the small fleet sat on the edge of the Belgaroth system waiting to jump to hyper space. Mosses gave the command the in unison the six ships jumped for Duro.
Posts: 837
  • Posted On: Jan 7 2014 9:54pm
The Compact Fleet

Three Months Ago

The Coalition, Compact Fleet Core Group
Briefing Room Alpha

As usual, the attendees were clustered by faction, with Coalition commanders – now including members of the West, due to the Reaver invasion of the Gestalt Colonies – front-and-center, a sizable Confederation contingent holding down the left flank, that tight bundle of SS officials as far from those two as possible, Imperial Borderland representative curiously distant with regard to the SS, and a smattering of neutral and unaligned representatives from all across the borders of Reaver Space. There was even a contingent from Ossus, who had happily ended up showing itself to be quite the powerhouse for a lone, independent world. And of course, new to the gathering and with no good seats to grab, lined across the back of the room: officers, diplomats, and scientists from the Republic.

Admiral Jonathan Blakeley, recently appointed Supreme Commander of Coalition Forces, took the podium. The room fell instantly into silence. “As many of you know,” he began solemnly, focusing on the doors at the opposite end of the room, “since the outbreak of the Reaver Scourge the Coalition – its member state, the Cooperative, in particular – has been working on a strategy to secure the permanent defeat of the Reavers. While the full array of requisite assets have not yet been assembled, I have called this meeting to inform you all: we have devised that strategy.

“But I caution you against an overabundance of optimism. There is no miracle solution here, no nanobots that will dismantle the Dragon Imperium technology on which the Reavers are based, no software program that will infest their minds and subdue them as our thralls, no pathogen in the style of the Krytos Virus that will target only Reavers and completely exterminate them. No: this will require the combined effort of every nation present, and more. It will require great toil, and planning, and will undoubtedly cost each of our nations in lives and resources.”

Blakeley clicked the control in his hand and a holographic map of Reaver Space sprang up in front of him, large enough for everyone present to make out clearly. He stepped to the side to be clear of the holo and continued. “Since shortly after the fall of the Borderland Protectorate, Coalition and Confederation forces have been tagging Reaver vessels and formations with subspace transceivers.” He clicked the button again, and the map was painted with varying shades of red. “At present, Reavers make no use of subspace transmissions, and as such appear to be completely unaware of what we have don. We have been able to use the positioning data of those transceivers to develop a density map of Reaver locations over time.” The map began to change, pockets of deeper read moving through space as the map advanced in time, other large areas becoming lighter in color while localized regions within each area grew darker – a clear sign of dispersed Reaver forces amassing into a single formation.

“What's more, we have been able to track particular 'bands' of Reavers over time with this data.” The Reaver density overlay vanished and was replaced with a more traditional strategic display, with color-coded and labeled icons denoting specific Reaver formations. They, too, began to move as the map progressed through time, leaving color-coded lines to mark their past locations. “As you can see, over time, most of these major collections of Reavers have staked out territories within the broader Reaver Space.” And, indeed, as the map continued to progress most of the lines looped back on themselves, creating a perimeter that other Reaver bands didn't usually cross. There were exceptions of course, like the build-up of Reavers prior to their invasion of the Vahaba System, the flight of the Reavers from the Maridun System after the Cooperative pushed them out, or the out-of-the-blue invasion of the Gestalt Colonies on the other side of the galaxy, but there was a definite pattern to the behaviors that could not be ignored.

“In and of itself this information is interesting,” Blakeley continued, the map of Reaver Space dissolving to the blue-white of a blank holo-field, “but this is far from what we need to defeat the Reavers. This information has allowed us to confirm earlier suspicions, however; suspicions that the most significant periods of Reaver expansion after the fall of the Imperial Borderlands have come as the result of large-scale offensives against their space. In short: attacking the Reavers causes them to invade new territory. This has proven to be the key determining factor in why the Reavers have not already been wiped out. Even if we were to unite the full force of our combined military might, Reaver Space is simply too massive for us to be able to strike at every major Reaver concentration simultaneously. An offensive on that scale – while devastating to the total number of Reavers at present – would trigger the surviving Reavers to spread out across space like nothing we have yet seen. Thousands more worlds would be subject to their predations, tens of thousands of starships would be seized, and any hope of containment would be completely lost.

“And that is why the primary focus of the Cooperative's efforts have been in the development of a Reaver Theory of Mind. If we understand our enemy, if we are able to predict their reaction to specific scenarios, then we may be able to devise a means of playing their reactions to our advantage.”

Blakeley paused for a moment, glancing to the Mon Calamari Vice Admiral Gorn, who nodded for him to continue. “The information thus far is essentially common knowledge among the Compact Fleet. There are no special revelations to be gleaned from it. Here is another piece of common knowledge: in violation of its own non-antagonism policy toward the Reavers, the Cooperative moved to re-secure Maridun shortly after its loss in the early stages of the Reaver expansion through the Borderland and neighboring territories. The move caused some large degree of uproar at the time, but as the true nature of the mission was classified at the time, the Cooperative government declined to address criticisms of the decision.

“I am now authorized to explain not only the reason for the Cooperative's attack on Maridun, but also its moving to secure the former Borderland worlds of Garos IV and Sundari against further Reaver assault. In short: it was a ploy to gain information on Reaver behavior.” Blakeley clicked his controller again and the empty holo-field filled with the image of a device familiar to everyone present. “This is a standard HoloNet backbone transceiver. One such device was – and still is – in every system of the former Imperial Borderland. One such device – this one of Coalition origin – was and is at Maridun as well. Major galactic governments are far more able to service and maintain high-bandwidth HoloNet hardware, and as such most local and independent governments tend to slave their remnants of the old galactic HoloNet to the hardware of the nearest key player, allowing them broader access without the phenomenal costs of maintaining larger networks.” The map of Reaver Space returned. “When we overlay the coverage of the Imperial Borderland and the Paradise-Maridun branch of the Cooperative HoloNets with our map of Reaver Space,” Blakeley clicked the image again and the two sections were shaded in red and green, respectively, “we find a ninety-three percent correlation with the borders of Reaver Space.”

Blakeley paused again, letting the audience absorb the information. “When the Dragon Imperium vanished and the Reavers first appeared, Prime Minister Regrad made the Reaver Crisis the top priority of the Coalition Intelligence Bureau. The CIB interviewed every trader, refugee, survivor, and defector that they could find from the Imperium's entire history, their goal to better understand Imperium culture and technology in the hopes of gaining some insight into the Reavers.

“What we now know is that the Dragon Imperium, like the Reavers, used a direct mental-interface network to connect its faithful to one another. The Imperium, like the Reavers, required a hardware infrastructure to make this possible. When the Imperium vanished, that infrastructure vanished with it. Whatever creatures or technology the Imperium left behind that became the Reavers, they were only truly capable of becoming Reavers by repurposing the HoloNet to replace that infrastructure. The HoloNet map doesn't match Reaver Space; the HoloNet map is what makes it Reaver Space.

“The missions to Maridun and the Garos System were in fact efforts to test the Reaver response to threatening the safety of their HoloNet. The strategies devised for both battles were crafted specifically to place the HoloNet transceivers in-system under imminent threat of damage or destruction, and in both cases, the Reavers withdrew when that danger became apparent to them. They surrendered the Maridun and Garos Systems to the Cooperative not because the Cooperative beat them, but because it was the only way to protect those key components of the Reaver Space HoloNet from destruction.”

Blakeley paused again, this time out of concern. The information that he was about to reveal held the potential to be quite damaging to the Cooperative in particular, and the Coalition generally, but it had to be shared. It had already spent far too long in silence and secrecy. “I said a moment ago that the Reavers share a linked consciousness. We know that this is the case, because we know how they did it.

“Recently, the droid citizen Smarts stepped down from his position as Overseer in the Cooperative government. When he did so, certain highly classified information held by his office was transferred to other departments of the Cooperative government. Among those classified files was information on how the Reavers penetrated the security firewalls of the Borderland HoloNet. This is significant because despite the Black Dragon Empire's impressive technology, this is a feat that they never achieved.”

Blakeley paused again, casting a glance at both the Imperial Borderland and SS groups present. “Shortly after the fall of the Borderlands, the Overseer was contacted by another artificial intelligence. Codenamed 'Skynet', it is better known to the Empire and the galaxy at large as 'Mr. Univerese.'” The revelation that Mr. Universe was an AI and not a collaboration of Rebel spies and slicers sent a wave of murmurs through the gathered assembly. “To the extent that we have been able to determine its design and purpose, Skynet appears to be a distributed artificial intelligence, seeded into the hardware of the HoloNet, whose objective is data collection, propaganda dissemination, and possibly espionage – most likely against the Galactic Empire, specifically.”

Despite continued chatter and a few more vocal protests, Blakeley pressed on. “It was by compromising and repurposing the Skynet program inside of the HoloNet transceiver at the Imperial Borderland world of Troiken that the Reavers were able to gain access and control of that network, allowing them to organize and expand further.

“If we can identify the method by which Skynet circumvents the HoloNet's security protocols, then we can harden the entire galactic HoloNet against further Reaver encroachment. We can confine the Reavers to their existing territories by denying their networked consciousness new regions into which it can expand. That is why I am telling you about this. We don't know the capabilities of the Skynet AI. We don't know what methods to protect itself it may engage if it learns we are seeking to destroy it. We have to collaborate on a countermeasure to Skynet, and then we have to coordinate the deployment of that countermeasure on a galactic scale, because it is absolutely essential that we deprive the Reavers of their only means to spread.

Once we have done that, we will be free to strike at their existing HoloNet infrastructure with impunity. Based on their reactions at Maridun and Garos, and coupled with the technical specifications of the HoloNet hardware inside of Reaver Space, we are confident that a targeted strike at key locations will fragment the Reaver group mind, disorienting and destabilizing the Reavers. Furthermore, when it becomes apparent to them that we are deliberately striking components of their HoloNet, they will amass at surviving sections of the network to preserve what they can of their linked consciousness.

“By selecting our initial targets, we automatically select where the Reavers will amass. We have an opportunity, then, to lay an ambush – a series of coordinated ambushes – of galactic proportions. We can simultaneously destroy the Reavers' shared consciousness and obliterate the majority of their numbers.

“If there is one thing we know about the Reavers, it is that they are experts at adaptation. We have to demonstrate to them that it will no longer be possible for them to occupy vast stretches of the galaxy and farm whole worlds for food and as stock to replenish their numbers. To do this we must deprive them of the means to coordinate, and of the vast numbers necessary to wreak mindless havoc. The galaxy may never be free of the Reavers, but it can be free of Reaver Space.

“Are there any questions?”
Posts: 97
  • Posted On: Jan 9 2014 1:40am
Coyn, Elrood Sector
En'Tra Square

The Square was massive, almost a kilometer on a side. At the center of its far side lay the steps of the En'Tra'Do, the palace of these beasts' self-styled “king”. Not far in front of those stairs stood the statue of some Coynite warrior from their pitiable legends, holding vibroswords in both hands.

It was a violation of three dozen Imperial military protocols for a general officer to be this close to the front line, but General Amot Helmslay was committed to ending this foolish rebellion in record time. He had ordered his forces to push straight in on the En'Tra's palace, causing his troops to seize the center of the Square and push all of the way up to the massive statue while either flank lagged behind. He was overexposing his forces, he knew, a dangerous and foolhardy action under almost any circumstances.

It didn't matter though, because a heavy trooper had just fired his special payload, sending a rope arcing over one of the arms of the statue and then falling back down. While soldiers fought and died in a mad press all around him, Amot Helmslay walked calmly down the center of the Square until he was standing directly under the great Coynite statue, less than ten meters from the wall of bodies that marked the front line and the entrance to the home of the Coynite En'Tra.

He seized the end of the rope and deftly tied the requisite knot for forming a noose, then roughly pulled it down to the shoulders of the corpse at his feet and tightened it around the neck. Standing back up, Helmslay straightened his uniform as if preparing himself for a parade, then let his hand fall on the lever to his side. The winch snapped to action, reeling in the opposite side of the rope and dragging the body of Ag'Tra Jorl'Vir'Saat, Defender of the Three Worlds and Commander of the Coynite Armies, into plain view of every Coynite present.

The sounds of battle fell away in an instant, the Imperial Stormtroopers taking their general's cue, and the Coynites so shocked that they forgot their bloodlust for a moment. General Helmslay walked right up to the last line of Stormtroopers dividing him from the Coynite rebels, then tapped one on the shoulder to move him out of the way. He raised a small device to his lips and then spoke with a many-times-amplified voice. “En'Tra of Coyn. Submit to the rule of His Majesty, the Emperor Kraken, or by this day's end, the only Coynite people left on this world, will be hanging from the statues of their dead heroes. This is my word of honor to you as a warrior and a leader of men.”

A moment passed in silence, the two sides of the conflict, still only centimeters away from one another, uncertain of whether or not they should resume hostilities. Then, as if in response to some unseen cue, the Coynite rebels filling the stairs of the En'Tra'Do parted to either side, leaving a clear path between General Helmslay and the dark, opened doors of the palace. And then, out of the darkness and arcing through the air, came an object that struck the top step firmly and then bounced down toward the general. The large book flipped open as it tumbled toward the ground, one key strike on its spine splitting it into two. Whole sections of pages tore away and spread further out until, finally, the shattered remnants of the En'Tra'Sol came to rest at the feet of an Imperial General.

Amott Helmslay allowed himself a wicked smile, then slapped the Stormtrooper on the shoulder again and pointed for him to ascend the steps.

Light Corvette Dragonlance, Coyn Orbit
Command bridge

Warning alarms sounded from . . . everywhere. The Imperial barrage shifted noticeably, honing in on Jarvis' section of the orbital defense network.

“What's going on here?” the Ryn leader demanded, trying to make sense out of the flood of data.

A hologram appeared in front of him. It was Rol'Tru'Saat, commander of the Free Coynite Fleet. Inside the defense perimeter, short-range communications were still viable. “Jorl Vir'Saat is dead,” he said immediately. “The En'Tra has surrendered. All Coynites are required to lay down their arms.”

And then Jarvis understood. The alarms, the shift in the Imperial barrage: the orbital defenses were powering down. All that was left were Jarvis' own stations and emitters, brought in to reinforce the seized local defenses. “And you?” Jarvis asked, understanding immediately what this meant for everyone present.

“We are with you to the end, Jarvis Ragnar. Command us.”

A bitter smile crossed the lips of the Ryn terrorist-turned-freedom-fighter, and he gave the command he'd been relishing and dreading for hours now. “Target the Ishori and Diamal forces, and charge.

The Coynite warrior met Jarvis' bitter smile with one of genuine glee. “It is a worthy death,” he said before closing the line.

“Uhh, Sir,” the ship's tactical officer said, turning to address him. “I understand that we aren't going to survive this, but shouldn't we redouble our efforts against our prior targets? Switching targets now is only going to reduce the number of them we take with us.”

Jarvis Ragnar wanted to tear the man's throat out. The Alliance had abandoned him, that much was sure now. The Coynites had abandoned him, though they had no choice if they wanted anything of their civilization to survive. But the Ishori and Diamala: they had betrayed him, and they were still in reach. “If one Ishori or Diamala crewman dies before we are taken, then it is worth it,” Jarvis answered. “This is the Face of Vengeance: we die killing the people who betray us! Form up for the assault!”

And so, the combined forces of The Wandering Ones, the Coynite Free Fleet, and the Bothan renegades charged from their faltering defenses and smashed themselves against the lines of the Imperial fleet arrayed around them. The skies filled with blood, fire, and charred flesh, but The Wandering Ones did not stop. No surrender was offered or given, they just clawed at each other, the Empire tearing away at Jarvis Ragnar and their allies, intent on seeing this through until there was nothing left of them.

Efreeti-class Battlecruiser Husdant, Coyn System periphery
Combat Information Center

“What are they doing!” Bandor Kre'fey shouted at the latest readouts, new reports from their scouts farther in-system. He had just repositioned Inferno Fleet for the rescue attempt, and now Jarvis Ragnar had abandoned his dwindling safety prematurely.

“Vengeance,” was Sei'lar's answer. “I told you that Jarvis Ragnar would cost you more than we could ever gain from him. You should have listened to me.”

Bandor pounded his fist on the holotable, furious that Jarvis Ragnar had put him in this position. He stormed from the room and straight to the bridge, the crew turning and saluting as he rushed for his chair. “Signal the fleet that the mission is a go. You are green-lit for immediate microjump.”

It took a moment to coordinate the fleet for the jump, and then the first group was away, Kre'fey's main group giving chase almost immediately. And then they were there, right at the edge of the Imperial formation's interdictor field.

And overhead, a string of Chain Ion Cannon fire and plasma mass-driver rounds were already on their way, complements of the long-range artillery support group. “Fire!” Kre'fey ordered, targets already having been painted by scout fighters.

It was a calculated risk, assigning two of his battlecruisers to support duty and pulling them off of the front line, but he wasn't about to leave his full complement of artillery frigates without protection, and the battlecruisers were the only other vessels with the weapons capable of engaging the enemy at that range. This fight wasn't about staying power, it was about shock value, and the more guns he could bring to bear on the enemy in a single instant, the better his chances of success.

The main group pushed into the interdiction field slightly, enticing the enemy fleet to engage them. “Communications, signal all allied vessels in line of sight by all available means to disengage and withdraw behind our lines.

“And inform them that no other help is coming.”

ISD Mk V Devastator, Coyn System
Command Bridge

The arrival of Inferno Fleet had come as a complete surprise to the beleaguered and now suicidal remnants of the Alliance fleet tasked with the defense of Coyn. Rol'Tru'Saat, commanding the badly damaged remnants of the mutinied Coynite Division of the Grand Fleet of the Mid Rim Protectorate, didn't quite know what to make of the situation. Communications were still being jammed, meaning all messages were restricted to flashes of light sent from one vessel to another, neither the most reliable or secure method of information exchange.

The Inferno commander clearly wanted to save the day, holding off and distracting the Imperials long enough for their friendly survivors to escape. But Jarvis had given him an order, and until that changed he had a duty to pursue that objective to its end.

Even if that objective was his own death in battle.

“Communications pop,” the comm officer reported, and Rol understood immediately what he meant. A slight distortion in the jamming, the result of a brute-force attempt to punch through and get a message out. “Origin . . . Nebulon-B Frigate Hatchet Job. Ship's computer is scrubbing it now.”

The result of some serious non-standard modifications to the vessel's comm system, transmitting the compressed message had certainly blown out the small warship's comm systems.

“Got it. Audio only.”

“Let's hear it,” Rol ordered.

Save Jarvis Ragnar!!!”

Hatchet Job was already dead, Imperial warships having identified it as the source of the message and destroying the vessel with a combined barrage.

“Release the name to tactical,” Rol ordered, scanning the map of the battle for the name he was about to hear. Until now, only the communications officer had known the identity of Jarvis' vessel, an attempt to hide Jarvis' location from the Imperials by making it impossible for them to track which ship his allies favored protecting over others. Jarvis had genuinely been hidden in the fleet, because not even the fleet had known what ship he was on.

Dragonlance,” comms reported.

Rol found the ship immediately, a Rendili Light Corvette that had been all but destroyed. Its port prong and fin were gone, its engines dead, and the remainder of its hull pitted from turbolaser strikes. There was obvious damage to the region containing the bridge, making the likelihood of Jarvis still being alive quite low.

Despite this fact, dozens of Wandering Ones corvettes and frigates were swarming the location, trying to protect the dead ship and extract their leader. The Imperials took notice immediately and focused their fire on the cluster of light warships.

Rol was close by, and ordered his crew to block the Imperial line of fire with the Devastator. The Mark V Imperial Star Destroyer was an impressive vessel, but against the combined fire of an entire Imperial fleet, not even it would last long.

A cloud of shattered corvettes littered the space around Dragonlance by the time Rol's Star Destroyer was in position, scrambling sensors and making it impossible to determine if Dragonlance was even still intact. The Devastator rocked beneath his feet, receiving repeated impacts from Imperial Super TurboLaser cannons. Finally, however, the cluster of Wandering Ones' vessels broke away, fleeing for the safe zone behind the line of Inferno Fleet warships. There was no way to know if they had succeeded in their task.

Devastator's shields were down, its hull taking heavy damage. There was no way that the ship could make it safely away now. And then the forms of two Coynite Star Destroyers and three Bothan Assault Cruisers swept across the Devastator's forward view, placing the formation between the battered Star Destroyer and the majority of the Imperial fleet. At the head of the friendly force was the Assault Cruiser of the Bothan Vice Admiral Alt'Aior, and the message that his maneuver sent was clear.

With the death of Jorl'Vir'Saat, Rol was the last free Ag'Tra of Coyn. And with the submission of the En'Tra to Imperial rule, by rights that made him En'Tra of all free Coynites. So long as he lived, his people were free. “Signal all surviving ships to withdraw,” Rol ordered, turning away from the carnage that was about to follow. “We leave no one else behind.”

Alt'aior's force drove directly into the center of the Imperial formation, forcing them to focus their fire on those ships. Most of his vessels were destroyed before they even arrived, but one Star Destroyer struck home, slamming into an Imperial Destroyer and obliterating them both in an instant. The phenomenal power released by the explosion of two Mark Five Imperial Star Destroyers rained superheated metal and radiation across the surrounding vessels of the Imperial fleet, obliterating several smaller ships outright.

With the shattered remains of the Elrood Alliance Forces safely away, the forward division of Inerno Fleet broke away and also retreated into hyperspace. Their artillery support was quick to follow

In the following hours, the massive and largely unharmed forces of the two Imperial fleets at Coyn redeployed to the worlds of Sat'skar, D'skar, Almar, Acatal, and Akana, sweeping away what remained of the Alliance presence in the Elrood Sector and further devastating the Alliance's combat capacities in the region.

The Battle of Elrood was at an end. The Uprising had been suppressed. The New Order of the Galactic Empire stood once more atop the prostrated forms of its subdued populace.

Gloria Imperium, and whatnot.