The Past Haunts Again
Posts: 257
  • Posted On: Jul 7 2007 3:17am
Awdin looked out the main window as only a sliver of the systems dominate sun slowly traveled behind the planet out of sight. It was a beautiful sight watching the sun reflect off the small fleet in front of him, and the lush planet below. He looked over the planet sighting the oceans on this side of the planet, the colors of the oceans fluctuating and changing as the sun grew smaller and smaller around the side of the planet. Awdin sighed as finally most of the planet and the space around it turned dark as the last part of the sun disappeared. But appearing on the planet were the myriad of lights that could now be seen on the dark planet, and somewhere among them was the thing he now sought, the thing that had begun to annoy him greatly.

It had been a long time now since his first mission and excursion into the Cularin Asteroid belt, where he had captured a small asteroid base along with a multitude of pirate elements that had been inside the base. That first mission where he finally found something he was genuinely good at and had continued doing ever since.

But now he was back here not more than a few light years away from the Cularin Asteroid belt where a confederation base now occupied the asteroid and many of the neighboring asteroids in the field. Since then he had felt good that he had destroyed the pirates force and eliminated their presence without much incident and with nothing going wrong in the plan execution. But in that state of mind and thinking he had been inevitably proved wrong.

For a little while now the Confederation had realized that the remnant of the Metatheran Cartel had been active in the system and was still doing some small smuggling and other relatively harmless activities, and mostly they had been defeated by police and law enforcement elements in the area.

It had been only lately that thanks to a secret investigation carried out by operatives from the confederation that the Cartel’s full activites had been revealed. After almost 1 month the operative had returned shaken a bit. During his stay he had recorded and revelaed a cruel government that allowed almost no libertied for the natives of the planet, often using them and the native beasts as slave, and laborers. Many native trees that were sacred to the natives had been destroyed in mass projects and not a thing had been done to stop it. Through all of this the Cartel had massacred a number of natives to discourage and bring out of hiding rebellions, and it had worked. The Confederation was horrified that this was happening so close to one of their planets, but for the moment had nothing they could use to justify an attack or anything, for the moment…

Recently however they had grown bolder than usual and had acted extremely odd being so bold as to attack an Almas convoy that was traveling out of system. It was still not know how it happened but somehow the ships had been intercepted, and taken. Of the small convoy 2 of the ships had been two Amphion class frigates, and both were not heard from again after the attack, and other than a quick SOS message nothing was heard from the convoy either.

It was later decided by someone in Fleet Intel that it had been the Metatheran Cartel that had been behind the attack, and in a coincidence he had also found out that the pirate force he had destroyed had in fact been a small Metatheran operation. So infact it was ironic that he had once again been sent here to clear out the main operation on the planet of Cularin.

So here he was once again in the Cularin sytem doing the exact same thing he had been here to do the last time he had taken a visit to this same place. Except this time instead of rooting pirates out of a small asteroid base, he would have to root probably their main force off an entire planet. A planet where they had had a very long time to put down their roots and set up their establishments, and time where they could work their way into the government, into possibly high positions which would make the line captains job even harder.

The man sighed; whatever the circumstances it was time to get things started they didn’t have an unlimited amount of time with which to do this. “Ensign, send a transmission to the Cularin government requesting an audience.” The ensign supposedly did as he had ordered as his fingers dance over the holo pad in front of him.

Awdin waited as the message was sent and received now what would happen was their choice and either way Awdin would not be denied.

“Sir the government has sent a message accepting your request, they are ready.”

“Thank you ensign. Let’s hear them then.” Awdin looked up to the main screen that occupied some of the space in front of his command chair. Eventually the screen activated, the image of a wizened human male appearing on the screen, and for a moment neither said a word. Then the government official started.

“Welcome to Cularin.” I assume from your ships that you are in fact a Kashan officer and a member of the Contegorian confederation, and as I think of this I wonder why your forces have decided to trespass on our space, when we have clearly stated that we wish no one near the planet. If you are here about membership, we have no wish to join your confederation, we are happy under the leadership we have at the moment. So now that that is said what is your business here?”

Already, after only about a minute of the man talking, he didn’t like that man at all, and doubted things would turn out too well. Either way violent or not things would be settled with the Metatheran Cartel, but he still did hope things would go more smoothly than that and that if possible Awdin wouldn’t have to use the firepower available to him.

He slowly rose from his command chair considering his worders before uttering them, “Well,” he left a slight pause waiting to see if the man would interject a title.

“I am Chas Vi, Chairman to the operations of the Metatheran Cartel here on Cularin, and High council man on the new Cularin council.” He sneered as if what he had just said had been that big of a deterrent or anything for Awdin.

“Well then, “Chairman”, by the order of Confederate Law, you and the entire Metatheran Cartel have been confirmed to have been conducting illegal, and wrongful activities here and in nearby systems. You would be wise to come quietly and so would the rest of the Cartel.” He let that drift for a moment as he saw little reaction on the Chairman’s face.

“What wrongs have we committed against you or the people nearby, or the people of this planet for that matter? The Metatheran Cartel under my authority does not respect this authority and denies your claims you would do well to leave rather quickly before you find yourself in a situation you can’t handle.” The sneer widened.

“You are making a grave mistake Chairman; this will not end well for you. I have dealt with your kind before.” The sneer disappeared, and Awdin smiled slightly

“You will regret uttering those words I swear it, your tiny fleet won’t be able to match what we can muster, I’ll give you one chance to surrender, before I destroy you and your puny fleet.” The sneer had now long turned into a scowl, and Awdin was now extremely fed up with this man.

“Mr. Chairman I don’t want to fight or for you to force me to action, I rather not have anyone get killed but I will if I have to. Stand down now.” Awdin wondered if the Chairman would be stupid enough to attack him and incur the entire confederation’s wrath.

Absently he looked over the small fleet he had brought with him, only 1 seraph, along with 2 nebulas, and a couple of amphions. He could only wonder what was going to happen know. “Inform the rest of the fleet to standby.” He had attempted to use a smaller fleet to not be easy intimidating or seem as forceful, and because he had hoped it wouldn’t be necessary but he was glad he had decided to post the rest of the fleet nearby. Luckily they were under severe sensor hammers and almost undetectable over long ranges.

“Sir, we have detected multiple ships coming around the moon and assuming positions a few klicks away. What are your orders sir?” Awdin sighed that it had come to this, but really he knew it would eventually, as they would never go down quietly like that.

“Have the fleet on stand by and ready the ships we have here, prepare to fire.” He switched his voice to the screen turning it on one more time, “Sir I give you one more chance stand down.” He waited but no answer came from the planet below. “Fine then it comes to this. Ready all guns and wait for my orders to fire, and for the rest of the fleet to jump.”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 22 2013 8:28am
Some months later...

Suffren-class Cruiser La Couronne, Confederation Naval Base, Cularin Asteroid Belt

“You and both know that those are our ships. Not theirs, ours. You give them the benefit of the doubt once and a while, and they take the whole benefit, and none of our doubt.”

N835 was not entirely certain of the words of the Cularin Asteroid Belt's councilor. Months had passed since there had almost been an all-out war between Metatheran-controlled Cularin and the Confederation Navy. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Confederation officer in charge of the operation had to withdraw his forces under the orders of the Belt's previous councilor, now likely a dead man somewhere on Cularin itself. The newest councilor seemed unlikely to repeat his predecessor's steps in fixing the problems diplomatically. N835 himself, a droid manufactured in Uffel specifically to man warships for the moon's fledging navy, was unlikely to follow his predecessor's steps either. The other councilor made himself too vulnerable, this one makes himself too aggressive.

“It is not logical for them to oppose us militarily,” decided the droid plainly, “our overwhelming numbers and our positions controlling their all of their space lanes suggest that there is another actor present. Sir, do you not know of anyone who would like to start a war with them?”

“Myself,” blurted out the man, “cannot you not see their evil? Between enslaving the Tarasin, attacking our ships, and killing the last councilor. Who wouldn't that provoke?”

“The latter two are not confirmed,” corrected the droid, “though I must admit, one of our patrols noticed an Amphion Frigate on the fringes of the system, in their colors, that 93.39 percent likely was one of ours that went missing.”

“So you do agree with me.”

“We are not the Empire,” rebutted the droid, “we cannot simply roll over an entire world and overthrow its government based on a likilihood. Rear-Admiral Lucerne would need certain proof, as would the Council.”

“This is exactly why Captain Awdin should have stayed here instead of joining the Compact Fleet. He wouldn't have any doubt about this.”

“Councilor, this has been the eighth meeting we have held together over this topic. We are done. I am investigating this missing ship of ours, and if it is ours, I will take the appropiate action to resolve the situation. Please leave my cabin now before I call in the marines.”

The pudgy man stomped out of his office. If he follows the same actions as our last eight meetings, he will immediately return to his own asteroid with its two hundred and eighty three mine shafts. The droid idly twirled two of his mechanical digits like the fingers of a Confederate marine he had once met. The marine had said that it helped the man concentrate on deep thoughts. It had not helped N835, but the droid had still added it to his memory and put it in his routine. Apparently it helped signal to his subordinates that he was thinking. That was useful, the droid had decided. Commodore N835 strode over to his console and inserted his data scomp link into the computer; the information in the La Couronne flooded his processes. He began sorting through it faster than any normal commander could. Activate comlink, channel three. A slight buzz emanated from his slate gray shell. A slight click emanated throughout the chamber, announcing the channel was active.

“Lieutenant Ryols, please see me in my cabin.”

“On my way sir.”

Now will this plan work with my crew....
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 27 2013 12:13am
Several days later...

Interdictor Mk II Cruiser Constellation, Deep Space

“This is a strange craft,” observed N835, “perhaps because it still suggests Imperial superiority...”

Lieutenant Ryols exchanged a glance with Captain Taner of the Constellation. Shuddering, Taner walked away to allegedly use a refresher. Thanks, now I get to hear more of his rants by myself. Perhaps his droid crew is typically talkative enough...he's certainly technically brilliant enough, and certainly more knowledgeable than I'll ever be, but there's just some things he never seems to get socially, but I suppose on a world populated almost solely by droids, they don't get anything close to a normal socialization period...but could they program it? He didn't know, nor did he want to hear a lecture about it from the commander of the Uffel's space security forces.

“The craft works well enough,” replied Ryols, “and there's little point in completing an entirely new design for such a niche ship. Or at least, that is probably the Naval Yard's reasoning...”

“I suppose,” replied the droid commodore, “they are not common. Still, there must be a more efficient design possible, or one that would fit inside the scope of the Unity Project.”

The droid abruptly stopped droning, as he had ended several other of his lectures. Ryols turned his attention back to his console, noting each of the Confederate warships clustering around the last waypoint in the route before the Cularin system. Most of the warships had been borrowed from Uffel's fleet, including a pair of Juaire Mk IIs acting as Piranha drone carriers and a lone Montcalm-class frigate. The La Couronne remained back in its birth in the Cularin system because Commodore N835 thought its absence might make any potential enemies suspicious. N835's monotone voice rang up from above the Imperial-style crewpit of the Constellation.

“ORL scanner are picking up two incoming ships, one with a hyperspace profile that matches that of an Amphion-class in terms of mass and speed. Activate gravity well projectors...”

We have almost a minute then before the Constellation yanks it out then...Many people thought of the Confederate Defence Web as series of mindless minefields controlling hyperspace choke points, but it was not. For those defenses were fed information by a wide variety of automated listening posts, hyperwave scanners, and orbital long range scanners. If any ship was traveling in hyperspace in or near Confederation space, the defense web knew. Typically, the massive flux of spacecraft traveling the lanes was far too much for most sentient beings to keep track of, leading to computers running a combination of input processes to control the web's abilities into set protocols. But N835 was nor ordinary naval officer, certainly not least when directly plugged into the Defence Web itself.

Captain Taner had barely made it back onto the bridge when an Amphion-class Frigate running with no transponder reverted to realspace. To the port and aft of that vessel, a single Assassin-class Corvette with more modifications than a hot-shot pilot's R2 unit began to heel to a speed more appropiate for docking a vessel than fighting a battle. They didn't expect this. But I suppose most victims of ambushes don't expect them... Ryols tapped a button on his console, bringing up a highly detailed holo-projection of the Confederate vagabond as seen by the ship's electro photo receptors. What the hell happened to its port side? Those metal plates aren't original manufacture at all, and they certainly don't look like the polished Ultrachrome KDI used to put on those ships...Light errupted from that craft, lashing out at the Repulse, casting splotchy areas of discoloration across the Confederation frigate's bow shields. Apparently it's not Confederate anymore...

“Fools,” derided N835, “we're not even in firing range yet.”

Dozens of warheads erupted out of the bow and sides of the modified Corellian corvette. Ryols quickly switched his screen to view the missile salvo. Fighter grade warheads...probably easier to get than capital grade missiles, it certainly looks more impressive...Ryols wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. Aside from keeping us in the Geonosis Square, I wonder what the Commodore is planning...Lieutenant Ryols rose and walked up towards the Uffel-built commodore. The droid turned and stared at him with his unfeeling eyes.

“It's all distraction you know, ” stated the droid plainly, “from the real attack.”

Ryols frowned and stared out of the viewport. At the point of the diamond formation, the Montcalm-class frigate Repulse loosed volleys of laser cannon fire into oncoming warhead formation. The Juaire corvette on the port side joined in the counter-attack, spewing quad laser fire into the formation. But the starboard corvette did not. Its quad laser cannons seemed to lash out at space itself. Ryols paled. Of course, they're using our own missile technology against us. It's a good thing the Juaires have the sensors to partially counter-act that. The other Juaire pulled its point-defense fire to concentrate on the Starflares too. Still, explosions rippled across the missile salvo as the lasers met their mark not through precision, but pure volume of fire. On the opposite side of the formation, several brief flashes of light announced similar results against the Starflare torpedoes being fired at them.

“We're entering firing range,” noted N835, “all batteries fire on your designated targets.”

The bow of the Constellation seemed to shimmer and then buckle. We didn't stop all of the Starflares...A shudder reverberated from the bow to shake the deck beneath him. The man grasped the railing tighter, watching in horror as the surviving missiles from the Assassin-class corvette smashed into the bow of the wedge-shaped warship. The Constellation's shields burned bright under the brunt of the attack, but still held. Damage reports filtered in throughout the ship, noting mostly minor damage except for a pair of hull breaches where the armor-piercing warheads of the Starflares hit. Light turbolaser fire from both of the opposing corvettes attempted to exploit the breach, but the Constellation's shield officer deftly maneuvered his shields to block those blows. The point frigate's main battery of turbolasers returned fire towards the bow of the opposing frigate. But the Amphion's shields still held until the Constellation's own batteries joined in, forcing the other ship's shield operator to swap shields like his counterpart on the Constellation had.

“Enemy Amphion's shields at 75%, our own are at 66% and rising.”

They pack a lot of power for their size, as temporary as their power is. If we can just outlast their supply of missiles, we'll have them...Ryols looked through the thick ceraglass viewport, now able to easily see the approaching enemy vessels with his own eyes. More missiles blossomed from their hulls, and more counterfire from the Confederate vessels met them. Some oppurtunely placed fire from the opposing Assassin-class corvette managed to nearly wipe out a section of Interdictor's shields as the Constellation's shield operator focused on blocking the weapons of the more powerful Amphion frigate, yet Ryols felt unafraid. The coordinated fire of the Confederate frigate and cruiser had managed to knock down the Amphion's shields just past halfway, forcing the enemy warships on the defensive. The Amphion seemed to sink below the horizon of his vantage point from the bridge to hide behind the bulk of the Montcalm frigate. Commodore N835 rotated his head from side to side.

“Poor move,” dryly mused the Commodore.

“How's that?” questioned Ryols, glancing at the weapon officer's console, “he seems to have escaped the Constellation's fire...”

“And ran straight into the Repulse's ion cannons and plasma drill,” noted the droid, pulling up a holo of the now partially stricken vessel.

Ryols stared at it, watching blue lightning ply across the hull. Sparks jetted out from bridge of the converted freighter, turning it into a dark slat. Light clouds of air and particles jetted out from near the ship's airlocks. They're having a life support malfunction too. If they can't close the seals out, they're going to die of vacuum exposure...Yet the guns of the Amphion didn't remain silent, though their fire now seemed less organic and more staccato. They probably have all hands trying to fix to leaks and set their guns to autofire programs...well, that's interesting. Yet the Confederate vessels still pounded the hapless craft, finally causing nearly all of that shields to collapse, leaving only a single quarter of the ship's original shield strength to protect its bow. Fire slackened against the nearly ineffectual frigate and turned towards the untouched Assassin-class Corvette. The heavier guns of the frigate and the phalanx of light batteries on the Constellation flooded the Corellian-built warship in a brilliant flashes of light. One lucky turbolaser salvo off of the Constellation pierced the corvette's shields to neatly vaporize that warship's port airlock.

“Their abandoning ship,” yelled out a female voice from the crewpit, “the Amphion's survivors are jumping into escape pods and surrendering.”

I guess they couldn't lock down that leak...A bright flash of light across the Assassin's bow drew the young lieutenant's eyes back to the corvette. More turbolaser fire pierced through the battered shields of the corvette, neatly vaporizing whole sections of the ships and leaving charred metal in its place. Sections of the ship went dark as its shields and power failed. Finally, a turbolaser bolt from the Repulse pierced the side of the corvette and ignited a missile magazine, creating a brief fireball that engulfed the corvette, only leaving a charred husk in its place. The bridge went silent at the sight. Shuffling his feet, Ryols stared at the final resting place of his fellow star travellers. At least it was a quick death. Noise began to quietly rise from the crewpit, but one voice rose above them from a higher plane.

“Begin recovery operations of the survivors,” announced Commodore N835, “and have the Repulse send a prize crew to reclaim and repair that lost frigate of ours.”
Posts: 1865
  • Posted On: Oct 27 2013 7:52am
Several days later...

Conference Room, Suffren-class Cruiser La Couronne, in orbit via Cularin

“Do recognize this Filordi?” questioned Commodore N835, pointing to a holo of a being on his left side.

The short, porcine-like creature shrugged before wearing a broad smile, “It's hard to say. They all look alike to me.”

“The ID card he had in his possession associates him with your business group,” stated the droid plainly, “as the captain of the vessel that we captured.”

The caarite broadened his shrugging gesture, “Maybe it's a good forgery. There's a pretty decent market for them, I heard the Genarius markets are the best for that sorta thing because-”

“His name is in your database as a matter of public record,” interrupted the droid, “but you add insult to injury. Not only did your people commit an act of piracy, but they used restricted military routes after they seized the vessel in a planned ambush to smuggle spice.”

“Not my problem,” replied the childish creature flippantly, “the Metatharen Cartel cannot take full responsibity for people posing as members of its trade group, or for people acting on their own accord without the Cartel's guidance. They broke the law, execute them.”

Lieutenant Ryols continued to doodle on his datapad. Well this is getting nowhere fast. The Amphion frigate they had captured turned out to be the Exeter, a vessel that went missing responding to a distress call in neutral space. While the Cartel had not managed to make full repairs to craft from their attack, they had made the vessel serviceable enough for regular combat and cargo use. A more worrying trend was the disappearance of some Confederate hardware originally equipped on the ship, and known to the ship's computers to have been transferred off. The CSIS will be having a field day with this...N835's cyan eyes burned into the those of the caarite diplomat.

“We read the files on the ship's computers,” droned the droid, “we do you knew about it. You personally. I could seize you here and put you on trial.”

“You would seize dear old Ambassador Veri?” smiled the caarite, “I'm not that valuable, even if your allegation is true. But I don't even know what you want from me aside from some affirmation about your version of the truth. But let's talk, there's got to be some sort business arrangement we can make as neighbors.”

“How about the removal of the Cartel from the system?” quipped Lieutenant Ryols, “I think that'd solve all of our troubles.”

“Come on kid, we're not that bad now,” smiled the alien, “When I last spoke to Councilor Hampton, he seemed more than happy to embrace us as friends. What ever happened to the Confederation being a good neighbor.”

“I see that we are going in circles,” noted the droid, “very well then, have it your way, ambassador.”

The doors to the conference room slid open, revealing a hulking pair of Paladin II droids clad in the slate gray color of Uffel's Security Forces. Without any pretext, the lumbering droids walked up behind the Commodore, reached over the table, grabbed the alien by its flabby arms, and hoisted him to carry away. The alien's light pink skin began to pale to an ashen gray and turned diaphoretic. Veri animatedly turned his head back and forth between a nonplussed N835 and a jaw-dropped Lieutenant Ryols.

“What is this? This is no way to treat a friend, certainly not a respected diplomat like myself-”

“By the powers vested in me as an officer of the Confederation in space, I place you, Ambassador Veri, under the arrest for your part of the murder of Councilor Hampton. You will receive a trial on the Cularin Asteroid belt court in a sufficiently expedient manner as dictated by Confederation law.”

The doors snapped shut behind as the oversized assault droids dragged off the caarite to the ship's brig. Commodore N835 deactivated the images of the various evidence gathered from the Exeter's recapture. His scomp-link rotated yet again, pulling up a real-time holo of Cularin. A spin of his scomp-link produced a series of orange glowing dots around the jungle world.

“I can't believe you do just did that,” exclaimed Lieutenant Ryols, “I don't think that's even legal, regardless of the evidence which we hold.”

“Normally, you would be right,” admitted the droid, “but I added a little clause to the negotiating agreements that we signed at the start of the meeting, allowing us to continue meetings about these issues as I, only I, see fit. I believe he is fit to go court now. He should have read the fine print. I will tell his superiors now about the ambassador's predicament.”

One of the orange dots glowed brighter than the rest before enveloping the whole world in its incandescent glow. It transformed into a simple orange plane with a connection logo splashed across it. Several minutes passed before the image resolved itself to reveal yet another caarite, this one more wizened and stately looking than the conference room's previous caarite. The alien looked around the conference room before offering a grand smile.

“Commodore, and Lieutenant is it? What can I do for you? Where is Ambassador Veri?" questioned the alien, “I trust he hasn't ran off and got himself into any trouble.”

“No,” stated the droid plainly, “our security droids just dragged him to the brig for temporary confinement before his court date.”

The creature in the office lightly laughed, “Commodore, I had no idea that you had such a sense of humor. If I would have known, I would have come up there myself for these little talks...”

“He's being serious,” deadpanned Ryols, “the Commodore here has arrested Ambassador Veri for the murder of Councilor Hampton-”

“Shortly,” interrupted the droid, “I will be sending a landing team to your office to pick you up for the same trial as in accordance with the Joint Cularin System Extradition Treaty. Please prepare for my droids' arrival.”

The alien leaned forward into the screen, “Look, I regret what happened to Councilor Hampton, I really do. I didn't know the Fildori were going to kill him if he refused their offer. Our section of the Cartel had nothing to do with it. Is there any way we can make this up to you.”

The droid hesitated, “Very well, I will ask the prosecutor to suspend all sentences on your people in return for the complete removal of the Cartel from the Cularin system. You realize that you cannot escape the system, not through all the Confederate patrol ships or CSIS agents we would send after you.”

“I can't give you that,” replied the alien, “I don't control the Fildori half of our organization here. But look, how about this, give me two weeks to get all of the Caarite portion of the Cartel off-planet, and I'll even set you up with a meeting with the Fildori leadership of the Cartel here. But I want that deal to apply to all of the Caarites on Cularin. Deal?”

“Deal,” agreed the droid, “I will continue to hold your cousin until our deal is complete.”

“Fine, fine. Just be gentle with him, he's still young.”


Two weeks later...

Bridge, Suffren-class Cruiser La Couronne, in orbit via Cularin

Several large Metatharen transports lumbered out of Cularin's atmosphere, carrying the last caarites left on Cularin and their belongings. I would almost feel bad about blackmailing them out of their homes, save for the wrongs they have done. It's the most peaceful solution, even if it's not the most morally correct....Commodore N835 and Lieutenant Ryols watched a Metatharen light freighter veer out of the transport formation and glide through the Confederate picket lines. Finally, we can get that no-good Ambassador Veri offboard. Then, there won't be any caarites to deal with, which leaves us still haggling with the Fildori. It's probably a good thing the Commodore is handling that one. I don't have quite the patience to deal with their stubbornness. His eyes watched the caarite-owned YT-1300 slowly latch onto the port side of the La Couronne. Commodore N835 stepped up next to him, watching a flurry of Piranha drones skim the artillery cruiser's hull.

“Well, we're almost halfway there,” mused Ryols turning towards the droid commander, “once Ambassador Veri is onboard their ship, the last of the caarites will be out of the system. You must feel a little accomplished sir, that took some political maneuvering...”

“There are still the Fildori to negotiate with” verbalized the droid, pausing for a second,“there is something different about that Metatharen freighter...”

Within a split second, the freighter exploded brilliantly; a massive fireball engulfed portside of the Commodore's flagship, charring sensor rods, external lighting, several weapons emplacements, and utterly destroying the docking port to which the freighter had been attached. Commodore N835 rushed backed to his command chair, his metal feet creating a ruckus. But Lieutenant Ryols could only stand fixed to viewport, stunned. I wonder how many we just lost, and how many they just lost. Laser fire errupted across the fleet as the Metatharen Transports began to release hordes of snubfighters. Tricky bastards. The human lurched into motion to take his console, pulling up the holo of the unfolding fight. We're at 75% shields already, and the La Couronne isn't meant to be this close to the fighting either...The viewport suddenly shifted as the warship's helmsman banked the craft to its port to aim the artillery cruiser's fixed weapons. Brilliant flashes of light errupted from the vessels prow, lancing out to wear down the lead carrier's particle shields. The shields crackled orange before the first salvo slugs from the railguns smashed through the weakened shields to impact the very hull itself. He shook his attention from the viewport to his console. They have a lot of snubbies, but they're old enough they're almost individually equivalent to our drones...

“Lieutenant Ryols,” stated Commodore N835, “if you would do me the honor of communicating to our rebel Tarasin allies on the surface our situation. I would appreciate it if they would provide us with some ground support. After that, I need you to actually do your liaison duties with the rest of the Confederate Fleet for once.”

“Yes sir, on it.”

The lieutenant rapidly wrote a simplified account about the Metatharen Cartel ambush and began transmitting it all the Tarasin communication's channels he could find in the ship's computers. Frequent laser fire and near misses by enemy fighters distracted him, but not Commodore N835. The droid commander remained motionless, withdrawn to his droid brain and the vast data flowing through the La Couronnes' computers. Not even the appearance of a pair of surprisingly well-maintained Corellain gunships rising up from the planet's atmosphere to confront the battered cruiser phased the droid commander. Ryols glanced at the tracking board; we're losing drones nearly at the same rate as they are their starfighters...The Uffel fleet contained no manned starfighters of its own because of the nature of the moon, but soon heavy fighters mustering from the Cularin Asteroid Belt, Genarius, and the other Confederate holdings would rushing in to relieve the depleted squadrons of Piranha drones. The pair of Cartel gunships moved to encircle the cruiser and avoid its heavy front weaponry, but in doing so, came so close to the cruiser that Commodore N835 was able to launch volley after volley of proton torpedoes at nearly point-blank range into their hulls with little chance of interception or missing. Brief gouts of flames erupted from the sides of the gunships. No sooner had the flames stopped licking the hulls than he became aware of the hundreds of tiny blue lights jetting off of the La Couronne's hull. He shuddered. Is he sending out the Paladin II droids to rescue survivors or to finish them off once and for all? I suppose I couldn't really blame him for the latter considering the treachery they just revealed to us...Minutes seemed to pass before bright flashes of Cronau radiation dotted the star scape. Dozens of Confederate starfighters from nearby bases and ships entered the fray, shortly followed by a CMF escort carrier releasing hundreds of more Piranha Drones. After that, warships from the planetary defense fleets began to trickle in, smothering the Cartel's fleet by sheer numbers and freshness to battle. His console binged. Ryols raised his voice, as habit to get the attention of the commanding officer over the chatter of the bridge crew, but found there was little to no noise. Of course, they're communicating electronically...

“Sir, message from the Tarasin on Gadrin, they've overrun the local starport along with a lot of their supporters and are beginning to take over the rest of the city as well...nearly all of the groups I've contacted are mobilizing. There's one group that's encountering a fair amount of resistance, not the token presence everyone else is experiencing.”

“The group that's attacking the old Thaerian base,” mused Commodore N835, “yes, I know. You want me to send support down there, for political and practical reasons I suppose.”

Ryols stared at the droid, “We have the support to lend them, the battle up here is nearly won. It's a chance to fully seal their allegiance to the Confederation. We have only to worry about the aftermath now.”

“Very well, I will send them starfighters and troops immediately.”



Abandoned Mining Asteroid, somewhere in the Cularin Asteroid Belt

“You broke legal agreements, personal words, and dozens of wrongful property seizure and slavery laws on the international level, and yet you all seem to think that you're going to get out of it this time. You think courts and money can protect you like they have before, but you're wrong.”

Commodore N835 stared down the ranks of higher-ranking Metatharen prisoners arrayed before the docking port. Several of the shackled caarites exchanged knowing glances; former Ambassador Veri even offered the Commodore a knowing grin. Their Fildori counterparts nervously pawed the barren rock ground of the mining shaft. Commodore N835 continued to pace through the ranks of prisoners.

“I personally thought that enrolling you in a work therapy regime here mining worthless, depleted out ore veins would be ironically appropiate, especially after holding you here all these weeks. Unfortunately for me, and perhaps for you, the new councilor of Cularin disagreed. She merely decided to exile you to your home worlds on whatever transportation I decided to provide. So I have here a pair of your old Corellian gunships, hop onboard. Most of the compartments don't leak out air now. The ships are set on autopilot to take you to home worlds, and if you touch any of the ships' controls, well, the ships are barely functional at all, I'd hate to see how well that would work. Get on with it. Caarites to the left, Fildoris to the right”

The dozens of war criminals trotted onto their barely functional vessels. He noted the characteristic jovial smiles of the caarites and the befuddled look of relievement on the Fildori faces. I almost pity the poor fools. The doors locked shut, only leaving the Commodore's shuttle now docked to the deserted colony. The Corellian ships just barely jetted off into the vastness of the void and jumped into lingering hyperspace. He noted his internal chrono. I'm sorry councilor, I couldn't just let them go that easily; they are too corrupt to forgive and release back into this galaxy of strife. I did what you asked. I gave them transport out of this system, admittedly if not in a way either of the other parties would have preferred, but it will just have to be a secret I'll purge from my own memory in a few minutes. He paced over to the airlock to board his shuttle. And now their fate meets them. Light years away, chain reactions of explosions ripped through the ships' hyperdrives, forever stranding the gunships and their wayward passengers in the confines of hyperspace to never be seen again.